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Car Review: 2019 Isuzu D-Max LS-T X-Runner & LS-U

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 spec Isuzu four door D-Max utes in LS-T and LS-U trim. The range was given a largely cosmetic upgrade in early 2019. The LS-T was fitted out in the limited edition X-Runner kit. The LS-U in standard trim is $45,990 driveaway and the X-Runner is $54,990 driveaway. Isuzu have increased the prices through the range, with the LS-T in non-X-Runner trim up by $1,000 to $51,990. The LS-U also came fitted with a lockable roller tonneau, snorkel air intake, and a “roo-bar” with LED spotlights. The LS-T has restyled wheels and gains, along with the LS-U, Highway Terrain or H/T tyres, as opposed to the All Terrain or A/T as previously fitted. These have had the effect of affecting handling. The roof rails and the lower strakes to the grille are now black, and the side steps are subtly different.Under The Bonnet Is: The rackety clackety 3.0L that makes 130kW and a thumping 430Nm of torque. In context, that’s below the 500Nm from a slightly smaller engine as found in the Holden Colorado…At just under 1000rpm there is 300Nm and that peak torque is on tap through a narrow rev range of just 500rpm. There’s still 350Nm available at 3,500rpm but it’s a very noisy exercise taking the engine past 3,000rpm. It’s possibly one of the noisiest diesels available in a passenger vehicle when pushed even moderately. It bolts to a six speed auto with sports shift and an electronic low range locking system.Economy is quoted as 7.9L/100km for the combined, 9.5L/100km for the urban, and 6.9L/100km for the highway from a 76L tank. We tested the X-Runner on a drive loop to Thredbo, Bega, and return, covering just over 1260 kilometres. Economy stayed at around 8.0L/100km throughout the whole trip, a decent figure considering the weight of the ute (1930kg dry) and the extra 300 kilos of passengers and baggage. Isuzu rate the towing capacity as up to 3.5 tonnes.On The Inside It’s: Cloth seats for the LS-U, leather appointed for the LS-T. There is no seat heating, no seat venting. The LS-U’s front seats are manually adjusted, with some electric motion for the driver in the LS-T. Rear seat passengers have plenty of leg room, and there is a USB port for the rear passengers at this trim level. The LS-T is a push button starter, with a traditional key for the LS-U. Both cars came fitted with rubber floor mats front and rear. Only the driver has a one touch window up/down switch in both. The centre console houses the dial for the two or four wheel drive modes, and there are two bottle/cup holders. The driver and passenger have a pull out cup holder, and each door has bottle holders.Sounds come via an 8.0 inch touchscreen, with AM/FM, Bluetooth, no Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, CD, USB and 3.5mm inputs, and even a HDMI connection. There is no DAB or Digital Audio Broadcast. The screen’s display is in dire need of a redesign and revamp, with one of THE most outdated looks seen in a passenger oriented vehicle. It’s lacking in visual appeal on every single screen. Hit the non-Auto headlights and there is no adjustment for the screen for day or night time driving. It also has a driver alert warning on engine startup and annoyingly will NOT switch off after a delay.The driver faces a basic looking but functional dash, with a pair of dials bracketing a display screen that shows trip distances, economy, expected range, and the diesel particulate filter status. Australian spec cars have the right hand stalk as the indicator and the left as wipers, and each has a button at the end of the stalk to access the screen info. The wipers themselves aren’t auto nor is there an Auto headlight setting. This is an oversight in the interest of safety, as a driver can too easily not switch the lights on.Actual switchgear is reasonably well laid out and accessible. The centre stack features Isuzu’s standard aircon controls, with a huge dial for temperature as the hub. Fan controls are on one side, mode on the other, and the dial itself shelters a small LCD screen to indicate what’s going on. the dash itself is a double scallop design, with a stitched leather look to the materials. Fit and finish is mostly ok however the leading edges of the doors have a gap of about a centimetre to the plastics wrapping the windscreen. There is a centre of dash storage locker that Isuzu don’t seem to have found a fix for in regards to the latch. It repeatedly failed to open.On The Outside It’s: similar but different. the X-Runner came in pearl white and has blackouts and logos spread over the metal. The nose has a bright red Isuzu as do the centre caps for the 255/60/R18 rubber and wheels. The LS-U has 255/65/17s. There are sidesteps here also on both and only the LS-U gets rear parking sensors. The LS-T had a lockable roller tonneau, a standard rollbar, and came fitted with a heavy duty steel roo-bar complete with LED spotlights. Otherwise it’s the same blocky profile with a wedgy looking nose.The rear of the LS-U had a lockable metal cover. It’s a roller mechanism which, on this particular vehicle, failed to allow itself to be pushed back. Something in the lock mechanism appeared to have jammed and although the key and button would allow a push and turn, the cover itself refused to move. the X-Runner LS-T has no cover fitted to the test car but there are tie down hooks, which came in handy for the long drive.The cargo section is 1,552mm in length in the four door utes. A maximum width of 1,530mm is here also and allows just over 1,000 kilos of payload.

Out On The Road It’s: Rackety clackety noisy. Think of being in a passenger jet on take-off where it’s fire and brimstone. Get to cruise altitude and it’s quieter. Landing where it’s off-throttle and there’s the background idle. That’s the 3.0L in a nutshell. It’s a determined load lugger too, and in no way can it be considered sporting. There’s a moment of turbo lag before the engine gets lively, and even then it’s a relaxed, don’t hurry we’ll get there, proposition.The transmission is mostly smooth, will drop a cog or two for downhill runs and engine braking, but will exhibit moments of indecisive shifting as well. On a normal acceleration run it’s slurry with hints of change, will downshift after a pause when the accelerator is pushed, but it’s a leisurely progression forward.

On the upside it’s a brilliant highway cruiser. That relaxed attitude sees the legal freeway speed ticking the engine over at 1800rpm and it’s here that it’s in airplane cruise mode. You know it’s there but it’s settled into the deep thrum that eventually becomes background noise. There is some road noise and the handling shows that the mixed terrain tyres are a compromise at best on tarmac. The front end of the D-Max is prone to running wide and it’s not helped by a steering ratio that has the nose move barely from a quarter to half turn of the wheel. It’s great when off-roading where that flexibility is needed, but normal driving needs something tighter. Also, the steering isn’t as assisted as that found in the MU-X, meaning more arm effort is required.The nose lifts as the D-Max goes into a turn with an uphill inclination, and occasionally this had the steering lighten to the point that a back-off from the accelerator and dab of the not-that-excellent brakes brought the rear around and shifted the weight to the front. In one particular turn of this nature the nose ran wide enough that it threatened to pull the vehicle into the bushes on the opposite side, and this was at the posted limit for the turn.

Brake pedal feel is numb, with an inch or so before there’s a sensation of grip, and the actual pedal travel and feel lacks communication. With a vehicle weight of over two tonnes there needs to be more confidence fed through to the driver.Ride quality varies from average to too jiggly. On highways the pair show reasonable manners as long as the surfaces are flat. Hit jiggly surfaces and the D-Max becomes less sure footed, less confident. Tighter corrugations confuse the coil sprung front and leaf sprung rear suspension completely and the ute wanders around, riding the tops of the corrugations but has not grip to stabilise and lock in a direction.

The four wheel drive system is electronic and Isuzu call it Terrain Command. Up to 100km/h the car will accept a change to 4WD high range, but for low range it must be stopped, and the transmission placed in neutral. A push of the cabin dial, a clunk as the transfer case engages, and the D-Max shows its chops. Although high range was engaged coming into Thredbo, it was close to the village itself due to a lack of snow. Therefore in Bega some river fording showed the ability and if there is a highlight of the driveline it’s the willingness to pull and push the ute in situations like this. By the way, this is the only drive mode change available, there are no programs for Snow, Mud, etc.Approach angle is 30.0 degrees, with a departure angle of 22.7 degrees. Rollover angle is good too, with 22.3 degrees available.

The Level of safety Is: Average. The mandated safety systems are here, there are six airbags, Hill Start and Hill Descent control are here but there is no Autonomous Emergency Braking, no Blind Spot Detection, no Rear Cross Traffic Warning. However, the ABS is a properly sorted four channel system and the reverse camera is of a reasonable quality.And The Warranty Is: Now up, to counterbalance the price rise, to six years/150,000 kilometres. Roadside assistance is also six years, up from five. According to Isuzu their research says most drivers don’t go over the 20,000 kilometre mark in a year. In regards to service: the D-Max sees 12 months or 15,000 kilometre service intervals with the first service just $350. Second year service is $450, with year three $500. Make it to Year 4 it’s down to $450, then it’s $340, $1110, and year seven is $400.At The End Of The Drive.
Isuzu has seen increased sales of the D-Max range, ahead even of its sibling by any other name, the Colorado. It’s a vehicle that really wins on price, a modicum of ok good looks, and possibly an appeal to those that don’t need what others seem to see as required. It’s an earnest, basic, no frills machine, and with pricing now backed by an extended warranty, there’s more appeal there. Those looking for a higher level of safety, a quieter driveline, and ride quality need to look elsewhere. If it still grabs your attention, go here.

 

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Hyundai iLoad Crew Van Liftback.

This Car Review Is About: a vehicle that doubles nicely as a passenger and commercial transport vehicle. The Hyundai iLoad is the cargo transport version of the dedicated passenger van called iMax. It comes with or without the passenger configuration. Or, if you will, the iMax is the passenger version of the iLoad…What Does It Cost: At the time of writing, Hyundai were listing the iLoad Crew at just over $48K driveaway. That includes a five year warranty or 160,000 kilometres, free first service, and 12 months of roadside assist up front. There is a 15,000 kilometre/12 month service schedule.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.5L diesel and five speed auto for the iLoad Crew as tested. Peak torque is a whopping 441Nm however the PEAK figure is available through a very narrow rev band of 2,000 rpm through to 2,250rpm. There’s no lack of urge available under that 2,000rpm though. Economy is quoted as 8.8L per 100km for the combined cycle.On The Inside It’s: A comfortable place to be. The two rows of cloth covered seats are separated from the 2,215L of cargo space by a fairly rigid barrier but was still prone to a squeak or two. The front seats are a 2+1 configuration, with the centre section featuring a folding backrest that doubles as a tray and cup holder. The driver has a one touch powered window for Down only, and for up it needs to be held. The windows in the sliding doors for the rear passengers are fold out and not that far either.Instrumentation is basic but functional here. The driver has a fully analogue needle set of dials and a basic but again functional monochrome LCD screen in the centre. This shows trip, odometer, and expected range, but we didn’t see a litres per kilometre display though. Headlights have an Auto on switch, the tiller houses the basic audio and cruise controls, and the wiper controls on the left are just a fingertip away during the rainy season.The dash console itself has a split level storage on the passenger side, a small nook in the centre for USB and 3.5mm auxiliary, a small pull out drawer lower down and a 12V socket.

The centre dash touchscreen is the same in that it’s basic to look at, works exactly as designed, and offers little in the way of fripperies. Audio is “old school” AM and FM, lacks DAB, but does have app access for Android Auto and Apple Carplay.The cargo section came lined with protective sheeting and cargo tie-down hooks.On The Outside It’s: received a mild facelift at the front compared to the original, slightly goggle-eyed, front. The headlights top line blends sweetly into the bottom of teh bonnet/top of the blacked-out grille. The rear is largely unchanged and there are no rear parking sensors.

The front brings the iLoad more into line with Kia’s Carnival with a more traditional passenger car and bonneted look. Headlights are more horizontally aligned and squared off, and this particular vehicle came with a nudge bar and super bright LED light bar. A tow bar was fitted at the rear. The rear gate isn’t powered but is easy enough to lift.Wheels and rubber were steel (with the review car having black painted alloys actually, wrapped in Hankook tyres) and 215/70/16 in size for the standard set, plus the spare is a full sizer.

Out On The Road It’s: A very pleasant drive. 100kmh to 110kmh sees revs at just under 1800rpm to 2000rpm. The commercial vehicle style rubber didn’t cope excessively well with the damp and wet conditions experienced during the review period.
On a flat road they would break traction, and on an uphill oriented curve would spin rather easily and bring in the traction control. As a result, some of the driving had to be dialled down in one particular section of a mountainous and curvy road. Front end grip wasn’t confidence inspiring and the taut, cargo carrying, rear end would feel on the verge of breaking away.

The steering was responsive on the softer front end, with the merest twitch seeing the nose respond.

However, a quarter turn was needed to see any real broadening of the movement, and even at around 40kmh into a reasonably easy left or right hander, depending on direction of travel, would understeer and require a foot lift, a dab of the brakes, before hitting the go pedal.

Actual off the line response was wonderful, with virtually no discernable turbo lag from the torque 2.5L engine, meaning dry road hookup was swift and without fuss. There is manual shifting but the ‘box is good enough to not really need it. It’s also a little more sensitive than others in that the brake pedal had to be firmly held in order for the gear selector button to depress.
There was a real sense of refinement to the driveline too. A muted engine noise, super crisp changes in the five speed auto, and almost instant throttle response were dampened, at times, by the road noise from the tyres and body.

At The End Of The Drive.
Although it’s effectively a commercial vehicle that just happens to seat six, there’s just enough to make it a very enjoyable family car if the iMax is out of the budget range. Proper passenger tyres, usage of the smartphone apps, and perhaps some custom built container spaces for shopping in the rear, and there’s a people mover hiding in plain sight.

The engine and gearbox make for a great pairing, and it’s not thirsty by any measure. Check it out at the Hyundai website

Eight Is Still Not Enough For BMW

BMW has released details of the forcthcoming 8 Series coupe and convertible as the brand continues to renew its extensive range. The 8 Series features the BMW M850i xDrive Coupe with an Australian price of $272,900, and the BMW M850i xDrive Convertible, priced at $281,900. Prices include LCT but not on-road charges.
Power comes from a 4.4L twin turbo V8. 390 is the number of kilowatts, and they’re found between 5,500rpm and 6,000rpm. But it’s the impressive 750Nm of torque that tells a better story. Maximum twist is available from 1,800rpm and goes all the way through to 4,600rpm. This will launch the 850i Coupe to 100kmh in 3.7 seconds, with the slightly heavier Convertible just 0.2seconds slower. The torque comes from the inside-vee location of the twin-scroll turbos, with that location providing a better, quicker, response time. Aiding the beast up front is an eight speed auto with ratios well spaced to take advantage of the liners power and torque delivery. Matched to a manual change option of paddle shifts, BMW fits their brilliant “ConnectedShift” system which reads the road ahead and pre-empts a driver’s change of gears and adjusts the transmission automatically to suit the oncoming road.
A very tech-laden feature in the 8 series is the BMW Live Cockpit Professional. It’s a hi-res and customisable 12.3-inch instrument cluster that sits behind the steering wheel, with a 10.25-inch Control Display mounted in the centre of the vehicle.

Additional BMW Live Cockpit Professional features include adaptive navigation, a 20gb hard drive, two USB ports for type A and type C connections, Bluetooth and wireless charging. A Head Up Display is included and at 16 per cent larger than before, provides the driver with valuable feedback, enhancing safety and the driving experience.
This configurable system includes details of vehicle speed, Speed Limit Info, Check Control messages, detailed route guidance information, driving assistance information, and infotainment lists. Shifting the Drive Experience Control switch to SPORT or SPORT+ brings additional information, with engine revolutions and a shift indicator displayed.
The BMW Operating System 7.0 connects the driver’s displays with the infotainment system, enabling the overlay of information from the Control Display onto the instrument cluster.

A new feature, and one sure to make its way through to other marques, is the Digital Key. Near Field Communication (NFC) technology allows the new BMW 8 Series to be locked and unlocked from a smartphone. The smartphone simply has to be held up to the door handle to open the vehicle and, once inside, the engine can be started as soon as the phone has been placed in the Wireless Charging tray. Available via the BMW Connected App, the Digital Key also offers plenty of human flexibility, as the driver can share it with up to five other people.

Carbon fibre plays a bigger role than before in the chassis.Called “BMW Carbon Core centre transmission tunnel”, it reduces weight and adds rigidity, allowing optimised suspension geometry and improving both ride and handling characteristics. Front suspension is a double wishbone setup, and it’s specifically designed to separate the steering function from the damping force.and a five-link rear uses bi-elastic mountings and houses a load-bearing rear strut to further enhance rigidity and response.
Should one choose the soft top, the BMW 8 Series Convertible roof operates automatically via the touch of a button. It completes the opening or closing motion in only 15 seconds and can be activated at speeds of up to 50km/h.

Check with your BMW dealer for more details.
(Information courtesy of BMW Australia.)

The EV From Down Under

We were all very sad when we got the news that those iconic Australian cars – Ford and Holden – were no longer going to be manufactured here and that the factories were closing their doors. However, we can all smile again for the sake of the Australian automotive industry: a new company in Queensland is going to manufacture a car from scratch.  Great!

There’s a slight difference with this newcomer, though. Unlike the gas-guzzling Ford Falcons and Holden Commodores (OK, they were a bit better when driven on the open road but that’s another story altogether), this new company, ACE EV, is turning its eyes to the hot new sector of the automotive industry: electric cars.

Well, to be more specific, it’s going in for electric vans and commercial vehicles as well as cars.  And, to be fair, the factory is going to be using some parts that were manufactured overseas as well as a few made here.  The idea is to keep the costs down.  They’re not out to produce Tesla clones at Tesla prices.  Not that there’s anything wrong with Tesla per se and it’s neat to see electric vehicles that have bust out of the boring, crunchy-granola, wimpy image and become supercool.  However, a brand new Tesla probably costs more than what I paid for my house.  ACE EV, however, wants to make EVs more affordable for the typical tradie or suburban family.

ACE EV stands for “Australian Clean Energy Electric Vehicles”.  Proudly Australian, their logo features a kangaroo on the move.  This year (2019), they are launching three vehicles, targeting tradies as well as your typical urban motorist, although they’re only selling them to companies as fleet vehicles at this stage.  These are the ACE Cargo, the ACE Yewt and the ACE Urban.

ACE Cargo

The Cargo is designed to, um, carry cargo.  It’s a van that’s capable of carrying a payload of 500 kg and has a range of 200 km if it’s not carrying the full load. The Cargo is designed to be suitable for couriers and anybody who has to carry gear or people from one side of town to the other: florists, caterers, cleaners, nurses and the people who carry blood samples from the medical centre to the lab for analysis. Looks-wise, it’s broken out of the square box mould of traditional vans, probably for aerodynamic reasons, and resembles a single-cab ute with a hefty canopy.

Ace Yewt

Which brings us neatly to the Yewt.  The Yewt is what it sounds like (say Yewt out loud if you haven’t got it yet). It’s a flat-deck single-cab ute and as it’s got more or less the same specs as the Cargo regarding load, charge time and acceleration. You’d be forgiven for thinking that t it’s the same thing as the Cargo but with the cover on the cargo area taken off.  It’s something of a cute ute – and the contrasting colour roof is a nice touch.

Last but not least, there’s the Urban, which is no relation to the Mitsubishi with the notoriously weird name (Active Urban Sandal).  This one’s still in the pipeline and they haven’t given us the full specs brochure yet (it’s due for release later this year), but this is a classic four-seater compact three-door hatch that looks a bit like a classic Mini but edgier.

It’s certainly nice to see some new vehicles made in Australia for Australians, especially given that in a recent poll, about half of all Australians in an official survey by the Australia Institute would support a law that all new cars sold after 2025 should be EVs.  However, let’s not rush things too much yet.  For one thing, EVs are only one of the Big Three when it comes sustainable motoring (biofuels and hydrogen are the others).  The other thing is that all energy has to come from somewhere, even electricity, as stated by the First Law of Thermodynamics.  This means that in order to charge your EV, you’re going to have to generate the electricity somehow and get it to the charging points.  Before we go over lock, stock and barrel to EVs, we will need better infrastructure, and I don’t just mean more EV charging points around town and in our homes.  We’ll need some more generators.  Otherwise, it would be like setting up a bowser but having no petrol to put in it.  If everybody were to try charging their EVs at home overnight, there would be a massive drain on the national grid and we’d be getting brownouts and blackouts all over the show –which means that watching TV, catching up on your emails, having a hot shower and cooking dinner would get rather difficult – and you wouldn’t be able to charge your EV either.  Guess where the power companies will have to get the money from in order to build new power plants – that’s right: your power bill.

May I humbly suggest that before you invest in an EV for your commute that you also consider installing a solar panel or three on your home?  Or a wind generator?  Not one of those petrol or diesel-powered generators – swapping an internal combustion engine in your car for one in the back yard isn’t better for the environment now, is it?  Unless you run it on biofuel or hydrogen.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 MY Isuzu MU-X LS-U Seven Seater

This Car Review Is About:
The 2018 model year MU-X from Isuzu. It’s a diesel fed engine range only, comes with seven seats, and two or four wheel drive across three trim levels. The vehicle tested was the near top of the range seven seater with four wheel drive called LS-U. Prices start at $50,200 plus on road costs for the entry level MU-X LS-M, $50,400 for the LS-U, and $56,200 for the top of the range LS-T.Under The Bonnet Is:
A low revving 3.0L diesel that produces 130kW at 3600rpm, and delivers 430Nm of torque between 2000 to 2200rpm. There is 300Nm on tap at just 1500rpm. Isuzu quote the engine as consuming, on a combined cycle, 7.9L to 8.1L per 100km, depending on trim level. The review vehicle was with us for just under three weeks, with a majority of country running (close to 2000km being covered), and generally with four aboard plus cargo. We finished on 8.5L/100km, decent considering the 2750kg gross vehicle mass (GVM). It’s rated as Euro5 for emissions and for up to 3.0 tonnes for towing. Fuel capacity is 65 litres.It’s a key start, not push button. A simple turn, the engine fires up almost immediately. The engine itself has a variable geometry turbo which is designed to alter the flow of engine exhaust in an effort to overcome the phenomenon known as turbo lag. It’s mostly well sorted here, however there were more than a few occasions where the engine felt like it was switched off, and they were invariably coming into a stop zone, and then being able to continue fairly quickly. The response was as if the turbo had stopped and needed a reboot to start spinning again.

It’s a fairly quiet unit, especially when off-load pedal wise. Hard acceleration brings out the typical diesel clatter and chatter but it’s surprisingly quiet otherwise. A good analogy is being in an aircraft coming into land, where the engine noise drops and becomes a background sound.

Transmission choices are limited. The range is mainly a six speed auto, however there is a six speed manual available on the 4×4 LS-U. The review vehicle was fitted with the auto and it’s fair to say it’s a very well sorted unit. Given the engine’s low stress, low rev, locomotive style characteristics, the ratios for the auto do a great job of harnessing the torque. 110kmh sees around 1600rpm in sixth on the freeway. 120kmh is still just under 2000rpm. Shifts are smooth, mostly seamless, and the Hill Descent Control part of the software knocks the gearbox back a cog or two and holds there on downhill tarmac based runs.

The four wheel drive system is operated electronically. A centre console mounted dial allows shifting between two wheel drive to four wheel drive high range “on the fly” at speeds up to one hundred kilometres per hour. Low range requires a stopped vehicle, neutral, and Drive. The end result is a solid, proven, ability to get some real dirt into the 255/60/18 rubber from Bridgestone.

On The Inside Is:
Seven seats, all cloth covered in the LS-U with Isuzu PR also throwing in rubber mats, a decision that paid dividends later. Trim is mainly black plastic, with a semi-gloss sheen. The third row seats are pull-strap operated, with a simple pull to both raise and lower. There is some additional cargo compartments fitted at the rear behind these seats. Middle row seats are tumble fold, allowing access from the rear door to the seats. The tail gate is manually operated, not powered.The driver’s seat is powered, with the passenger’s manually operated. The dash is a simple affair and varies considerably from Holden’s Trailblazer (formerly Colorado 7). The centre stack is dominated by a large dial for the aircon temperatures, with fan control, air direction, etc mounted in a sub-circle around it. This feeds extra vents in the roof which are themselves controlled by a separate dial for fan speed in the roof, with a dash mounted on/off button. The upper console has a shallow but broad storage locker, with a button that sometimes sticks. Centre console storage is a small locker and two cup/bottle holders.The driver’s dash display is simple, again with a circular theme in the LCD screen. This features fuel on the right in segments, with engine temperature on the left. The screen is multifunction, showing travel distance, distance to empty, fuel consumption, and more. Access is via a push button on both stalks, meaning you can scroll through left to right, or vice versa. It’s a nicely laid out look and shows up how badly the main eight inch touchscreen needs an overhaul. It’s full of pale, pastel, colours, looks like a washed out example of something on Japanese TV screens from the 1980s, and although featuring satnav, the response time is slow. Too slow. Also, there is no DAB audio. To counter this, it links to both DVD and CD, with roof mounted surround speakers for the front seats. Should one wish to utilise the cargo, up to 1830L of space is available with rear and middle row seats folded.Head, leg, and shoulder room aren’t a problem. Isuzu lists front leg room as 1106mm, middle as 915mm, and rear at 815mm. Head room up front is 1009mm, middle at 980mm, and 929mm for the rear. This provides great all round vision for the family. Shoulder room is 1453mm, 1340mm, 1009mm respectively.The Outside Has:
The test car had a tow bar, weather shields, and bonnet protector fitted. Check with your Isuzu dealer for costings. Paint is a gorgeous pearlescent white, and highlights the 1860mm height, 4825mm length, and 1860mm width nicely. Although the exterior shaping hasn’t changed much over the last few years, there has been a couple of subtle rejigs to at least keep a semblance of freshness. The front is a gentle yet assertive mix of angles, with LED running lights set as eyebrows above the main lights. There are globes in the lower bumper section to back these up.The black plastic bonnet protector and weather shields contrast well with the white pearl. Isuzu offer Cosmic Black, Havana Brown, Magnetic Red, Obsidian Grey, Titanium Silver, and Splash White as their palette. All highlight the muscular stance and body of the MU-X’s stern stare and do a good job of slim-lining the otherwise bulky rear. A full sized spare is mounted outside and under the cargo area.

The design allows the MU-X to have an approach angle of 24 degrees, 25 degrees departure, but the high centre of gravity provides just 19 degrees of ramp-over. Isuzu back up the ability by adding in a solid list of safety features. Four channel ABS, Electronic Stability Control, and Hill Descent Control get backed up by Trailer Sway Control. Reverse Camera, rear sensors, and six airbags are also standard.

On The Road It’s:
An easy going, lope along, low stress machine. The readily available torque down low is somewhat hobbled in the acceleration stakes by both the gearing and the fact it runs out of puff quickly once around the 3500rpm mark. It’s just above idle when traveling at around sixty, meaning the diesel chatter is a muted background thrum. The characteristics of the package settle down to something simple: it’s muscular but not quick, with overtaking an example of planning ahead.

The review car was taken on two substantial country trips from the Blue Mountains where it demonstrated its easy going highway nature. It’s a superb cruiser, and with the revs sitting below 2000rpm it really is a super relaxed machine to be in. Although the cloth seats lacked ventilation, they are well padded enough to have a two to three hour stint behind the wheel having the driver relatively fresh. The relatively high sidewalls on the rubber add a sometimes spongy ride but also do a lot to help absorption of varying road surfaces, both on and off tarmac. Front suspension is coil springs around gas filled dampers, with a multi-link rear end and gas filled dampers feeling marginally softer.

On the straight the MU-X is solidly planted however the steering lacks real feel. It’s like a tight and twisted rubber rope from centre to a good half turn either side. Oddly enough, the response is quite quick but the slightly soft suspension and a feeling of a high centre of gravity leave a sensation of spongy movement, a lurching body. In context, any moves need to be planned, such as they were on the highway south of Canberra and between Cooma and Bega.

A properly trained driver can adjust to the body movement and work with it to ensure a smooth transition from planted to movement. Brown Mountain is a prime example of this. There’s a down and up hill section of ten kilometres that tests both engine and transmission, both steering and ride. The steering gets a excellent test here and the MU-X needs some judicious handwork to make sure weight transfer is kept to a minimum. The brakes on the MU-X are pretty damned good at dealing with downhill runs too, with reasonable pedal feedback, a decent movement through the pedal travel, and good ability to haul it up when required.The MU-X was taken off road and with ground clearance of 230mm it’s not the highest sitting machine but managed a section of the Bega river with no qualms. Four wheel drive high was all that was needed. It was a different story on a local fire trail well used for off-road testing. Water pressure popped an insert in the lower left bumper, dislodged a plastic shroud, and a rock compressed a side step. All nothing major but enough to show some reinforcement is required. What was also noticeable is a sensation of the suspension stiffening up, adding more confidence to the ride.The Warranty Is:
Five years or 130,000 kilometres, with capped price servicing for the first five services.

At The End Of The Drive.
Isuzu’s industrial heritage is on display here with the MU-X. And that’s a good thing. It’s strong, reliable, and comfortable. The interior could use a lift in presence, especially the dash and console, otherwise it’s comfortable enough to be in and to drive from. Fit and finish on the inside is tight and well made, with a good glass area helping minimise feelings of being closed in. The economy is also great for a family, with consistent figures below 9.0L/100kmh for a loaded vehicle a surefire winner.

What was noticeable during the near three weeks of review time was the sheer amount of D-Max and MU-X vehicles seen. This, amongst many reasons, is reason enough to consider the Isuzu MU-X range when looking for a family oriented SUV. Here is the link to access further details and download a brochure. Don’t forget to contact Private Fleet to see what we can do for you.

Subaru High Fives! The Warranty, That Is.

Subaru has joined the extended warranty club, with five years and unlimited kilometres warranty now being made standard. As an added benefit, Subaru will extend the warranty of three years to five.

As Subaru’s website says: If you purchased your new Subaru before 1 January 2019 and during a campaign period which included an offer of a 2 year manufacturer’s extended warranty, your standard Subaru Warranty of 3 Years/Unlimited Kilometres will automatically have been extended to 5 Years/Unlimited Kilometres.

If your vehicle’s warranty is extended under the offer you will have received a communication from Subaru Australia confirming your vehicle is covered by a 5 Year/Unlimited Kilometre Warranty.

This brings Subaru into line with all but two manufacturers in the mainstream marketplace, with just Toyota and Nissan left holding the three year warranty line.

Any vehicle bought new from Subaru from January 1 automatically attracts the new warranty as well. Extra peace of mind comes in owner transferable warranty, meaning that if an owner of a vehicle with the five year warranty on-sells the car within that period then the warranty goes with the car.

The fine print can be found here:Subaru Five Year Warranty

German Odds And Ends: VW Crafter Van & Audi TT

They’re the lifeblood of the small courier driver business, of the larger postal delivery services. LCVs or Light Commercial Vehicles come in various shapes and forms, including the van. There’s plenty to choose from and Volkswagen has just made that choice even more difficult.

The Crafter range offers a more car-like experience both inside and out. There’s the Medium wheelbase, Long wheelbase, Long wheelbase with Overhang, the cab chassis versions in both single and dual cab options and with single and dual rear wheel designs. All up a new Crafter comes in a minimum of 36 versions but with 4 body styles, 3 lengths, 3 heights there’s a total of 59 derivatives including front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, and 4MOTION all wheel drive. The starting price for the immense range is for the Crafter 35 TDI340 LWB (Long wheelbase) SCC (single cab chassis) 8 Speed with auto and FWD at $48,290. Just two hundred more sees you in the Crafter 35 TDI340 MWB (Medium Wheelbase) Van 6 Speed Man ‘RUNNER’ front wheel drive.

There’s different load capacities that are dependent on which drive configuration is chosen. Tick the front-wheel drive option and there’s a cargo capacity of up to 18.4 cubic metres and a maximum cargo space height of 2196 mm. Total permitted weight is between 3.55 to 4.0 tonnes. Load width between the wheel arches is 1380 mm and cargo space length is 4855 mm. Have the driven wheels at the other end and the permitted total weight ranges from 3.55 to 5.5 tonnes. The load width on the heavy vehicles with dual rear wheels has been increased in comparison to the previous model by 402mm, thus allowing it to be loaded using a wider range of standard carriers.Inside it’s a more comfortable workspace. LED lighting has been fitted, the base model has four way electric adjustment and there’s a higher level of comfort available. Called ergoActive, it’s part of a German health and safety campaign to help drivers look after their postures and driving positions. Central locking is standard, dual zone climate control is available, and the Trendline package offers extra features such as a second 12V socket, chromed highlights, and front fog and cornering lights.

Dimensions wise there’s the medium wheelbase 5986mm, a long wheelbase at 6386mm, and the overhang version with 7391mm. Engine wise there’s a 2.0L diesel that offers either 340Nm or 410Nm. More features and details will be released in coming months. Head to Volkswagen Australia for more information and to register for updates.

Audi‘s iconic TT coupe made its world debut in 1995 and was available for sale in 1998. The 2018/2019 update brings exterior and interior changes, and updates to the drivetrain. There’s a six speed manual, and a new seven speed DCT or dual clutch auto. The S Line package or magnetic ride drop the ride height by 10 millimetres and work with the progressive steering and four link rear suspension to further enhance the already fluid handling.Standard wheels are 17 inches in diameter, with 18, 19, and 20 as options. These complement the redesigned front and rear, with interior features accessing the Audi drive select dynamic handling system that’s available from the base model, a rain and light sensor, heated exterior mirrors, and the multi-function steering wheel plus This allows the infotainment and voice control system to be controlled entirely using the steering wheel. Also standard are the illuminated USB ports as well as Bluetooth for wireless pairing of devices. The front has a more assertive grille and is flanked by stylish air vents with the rear featuring a subtle work-over to the classic lines.The new TT is due for Australia in the first six months of 2019. Head to Audi Australia to register your interest.

Why We Shouldn’t Phase Out ICE Vehicles Yet

 

Hello, I’m a mule – the very first hybrid form of transport.

In certain parts of the world – Europe, to be specific – governments have pledge to stop the sales of new cars that are powered by internal combustion engines only (aka ICE vehicles, where ICE stands for internal combustion engine).  This means that any new cars sold in these countries will be hybrids or pure electrics.

First, before we all panic and start stockpiling petrol and diesel because we aren’t ready to ditch our favourite sets of wheels yet, let’s clarify a few things.   Firstly, Australia hasn’t made any such pledge yet, although certain political parties are starting to talk about it.  Secondly, what will be phased out is the sale of NEW cars only.  Presumably, second-hand car dealers will still have ICE vehicles sitting out in the yards (possibly quite a few of them if all the ones that have been kicked off UK roads make it over here).  And they’ll still have to sell petrol and diesel to run (a) the older cars, (b) the diesel or petrol parts of the hybrids and (c) things like motorbikes that haven’t really caught onto the whole electric thing yet.

Nevertheless, I don’t really want to jump on the “let’s phase out ICE cars” bandwagon.  I don’t think we’re quite ready for that yet.

First of all, there’s the issue of range in pure EVs.  Mercifully, we now have enough charging points along the A1 highway so you won’t get stranded in the middle of the Nullabor, but even so, it takes at least half an hour to fully charge an EV.  This means that your Great Australian Road Trip is going to take even longer than it would otherwise.  Plan accordingly.  However, although the main highways around the perimeter are pretty well provided with charging points, there are bits of the country where the charging points are spaced out further than the typical range of an EV.  This is not good news for, say, park rangers, farmers and rural nurses.  The developers are going to have to really, really work hard to get better range for EVs before these groups are going to even think about buying one.  I keep getting this mental picture of some rural midwife trying to head out to some rural woman going into labour but being held up by (a) detouring to the nearest charging point and (b) waiting for half an hour to charge her vehicle.  Don’t even think about what would happen with emergency service vehicles.

I kind of hope that the Powers That Be who are going to make the decisions about our national vehicle fleet go out and spend a day riding shotgun with some of the folk in our rural communities to get an idea of the distances they drive… and at least put in a few more charging points before they decide to kit out all the nurses with EVs.  Not sure what they’ll be able to do for the park rangers.  Carrying about a diesel generator to power up a vehicle in the middle of nowhere kind of seems to defeat the purpose of promoting EVs in the first place.

Anyway, there’s another issue, and it’s one that affect those in cities as well.  Now, the majority of EVs and hybrids are smaller vehicles.  When it comes to practical commercial vehicles that your typical tradie can use, it’s a different story.  Yes, there are some great hybrid SUVs available, such as the Volvo XC90  and the BMW X5 , but these aren’t your typical choice for a tradie.  As for the Tesla X SUV…  I, for one, would start wondering how much my plumber or electrician charges per hour if I saw him/her driving around in a high-end SUV.  At least Mitsubishi and Nissan have some offerings, including a 2WD version of the Nissan Pathfinder  and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV  (which is reported to be the most popular hybrid/EV in Australia).

Your typical electrician, plumber, builder or landscape gardener usually prefers to drive a ute or van, preferably one with lots of torque to tow a massive trailer as well as lots of load space.  I know this all too well, as the other half is a landscape gardener and I’ve seen the amount of gear he carries in the trailer and carts around in various bits of the trusty dual-cab Navara ute.  Given what your typical tradie charges per hour – which has to be affordable in order to be competitive – new cars aren’t usually on the cards.  A phase-out of ICE vehicles would mean that second-hand vehicles would still be an option for your tradies… but what happens further down the track?  If nobody’s bought brand new hybrid/EV utes and vans then there won’t be any second-hand ones for your small-scale tradies to purchase.  Let’s hope that if the phase-out happens, larger operators will get themselves a fleet of hybrid utes and vans that can then go on down the line.  Either that or the banks are going to have to be nicer to owner-operator tradies so they can finance something brand new.

Tradies also clock up quite a few kilometres just around town, which means that even if pure EV commercial vehicles were available yet, your tradies would have to spend ages charging up possibly at least once a day. This means that you could be left waiting for the plumber (assuming he or she does emergency call-outs) for that little bit longer while your toilet refuses to flush and/or overflows.  Half an hour can be a long time when you’re waiting for the dunny…

At the moment, there aren’t a whole lot of hybrid or electric vans and utes out there on the roads – at least not yet.  Renault  has one electric van that’s going to arrive very soon, Haval has plans for a hybrid ute and there’s even talk about a hybrid version of my favourite tradie’s beloved Nissan Navara.  But they’re still in the future (we’ll let you know when they arrive). Even if a big construction company wanted to kit all of its builders out with hybrid or electric commercial vehicles as soon as they hit these shores, this would still be some way off.

There’s also the issue of all the investment and research into biofuels, but that’s worth taking another whole post to discuss.

In short, it’s too soon to talk seriously about phasing out ICE vehicles in Australia simply because we don’t have enough suitable new replacements for the current vehicle fleet that have the range and the practical ability of the petrol and diesel units currently available.  Although your Green Party members living in the city could probably make the switch to purely electric vehicles tomorrow and not be affected (and I hope they’ve already made the switch and put their money where their mouth is), there’s a significant proportion of typical Aussies who can’t make the switch yet and will have to stick with ICE vehicles for a while yet.  Be patient, folks.  Although there may come a day when hybrid vehicles and EVs triumph, today is not that day.

Mercedes-Benz X-Class For The Tradies Is Here.

Along with German sibling Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz now offers a four door utility vehicle. Called the X-Class it’s got a starting price of $45,490 plus on roads. With an effective trickle style media campaign underway there’s already over 8000 registrations of interest in their new vehicle. As is to be expected, M-B will offer an almost bewildering range of variants. There’s will be a choice of two models called the X 220d and X250d, two diesel engines offering either 120kW or 140kW, a six speed manual for each or a seven speed auto for the 250d.
The 220d will be given either a rear wheel or all wheel drive system, with the 250d coming in AWD only. A high output V6 will be available by the end of 2018, with 190kW and 550Nm of torque.
There will be three trim levels: Pure, Progressive, and Power, designed to appeal to three distinct lifestyles and working groups. Underneath will be the tried and true, and fettled for Australian roads, double wishbone front and multi-link rears, with both ends riding on coil springs. This aims to provide a harmonious balance of safety with any load and a comfortable ride.

Safety won’t be an issue with the X-Class receiving a five star ANCAP rating thanks to seven airbags, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, plus a 360 degree camera in the Power and optionable on the Progressive.It’ll have a significant on-road presence with a 5340mm length, 1920mm width and 1829mm height. The front end features a stand-out Mercedes-Benz emblem inside a twin louvre grille, a M-B family look to the lower front bar, and a powerful stance at the rear.The tray will hold a standard Australian spec pallet and towing of up to 3500 kilograms is factored in. Whilst working hard it’ll cosset driver and passengers in three trim levels inside including two leather and two roof lining colours.The Pure will be aimed at the working driver and will roll on 17 inch steel wheels. They’ll be able to access media via a seven inch touchscreen. The Progressive driver has 17 inch alloys, colour coded bumpers, heat insulating glass in the windscreen, and Garmin integrated navigation through the seven inch touchscreen.Power drivers will have their new ute fitted with 18 inch alloys, man made leather interior, parking assist via M-B’s PARKTRONIC system, and an eight speaker digital audio system.
A range of option packs will be available across the range for the 2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class.

https://www.facebook.com/MercedesBenzVansAustralia/ and @mercedesbenzvans_au on Instagram can be followed for more information as well as contact Mercedes-Benz dealerships.

Ford Ranger Raptor Ready To Strike.

Long talked about…well, since the new look Ranger was released a couple of years ago, a performance version has been released. Taking an already assertive machine and making it look even more angry is not always easy yet somehow the Ford designers and engineers have done so. Here’s a brief look at the 2018 Ford Ranger Raptor.Engine.
A 2.0L diesel has been massaged to produce an astonishing 500Nm of torque, with a peak power output of 157kW. The twin turbo beat was tested to its limits, with a non-stop run of 200 hours. A small HP (High Pressure) turbo kicks off before a larger LP (Low Pressure) turbo takes over. A new ten speed auto, designed and built by Ford in-house, along with revamped electronics, has quicker, crisper, shifts, and promises even better economy. There’s two on road modes, Normal and Sport, plus Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Sand, Rock, and Baja. It’s that last one that has eyebrows and corners of mouths raised. Ford says: Vehicle responsiveness is tuned for high-speed off-road performance, just like drivers need in the famous Baja Desert Rally. In this mode, vehicle systems like Traction Control are pared back in terms of intervention to allow spirited off-road driving without fighting the vehicle’s on-board systems. Gear selection is optimized for maximum performance, and the mapping will hold gears longer and downshift more aggressively.Looks.
A bespoke Ford logo grille now sits front and centre. It sits atop a frame mounted bumper, which houses new LED fog lamps and air-curtain ducts to help reduce aire resistance at speed. The front fenders are made of a composite material, and are oversized to deal with off road excursions and suspension travel. It’s an impressive size; it stands 1873mm high, spans 2180mm in width and is an impressive 5398mm in length. Ground clearance is 283 mm, with approach and departure angles of 32.5 and 24 degrees enabling superior off road accessibility.

There’s solid looking side steps, specially designed and engineered to help stop rocks being sprayed backwards from the front tyres and are cut to allow water drainage.Made from an aluminuim alloy, they’re durable and tough. These also were tested hard, with loads of 100 kilograms being applied 84,000 times to simulate a decade’s worth of exposure to usage. They’re powder-coated before a grit paint for extra durability is applied.

The rear bumper has been modified to include a towbar and two recovery hooks which will hold 3.8 tonnes. Parking sensors are flush in the bumper, which backs a tray of 1560mm x 1743mm. Exterior colours are: Lightning Blue, Race Red, Shadow Black, Frozen White, as well as a unique Hero color for the Ranger Raptor, Conquer Grey. Contrasting Dyno Grey accents helps to accentuate the vehicle’s look even further.Inside.
This has been overhauled with a smooth and refined look, coming under the umbrella of Ford Performance DNA. The seats are the starting point, with a redesign and change of material being tested in long distance rallies. They’re tailored for high speed work in an off-road environment. The material inside is of a dual layer hardness, providing both comfort and support in their intended environments.
The dash and steering wheel have been redesigned, with the Driver Assistance features being easily read in the binnacle and magnesium paddles for the driver’s column. There’s a touch of high speed assistance in one key area; a red stripe has been applied to the leather bound wheel, intended to confirm for the driver that the steering is “On Centre”.Underneath.
The off-road racing pedigree is evident in a chassis made from various grades of high-strength low-alloy (HSLA) steel and designed for that purpose. There’s coilover rear shocks, a Watt’s Link rear and solid rear axle. The chassis side rails are also HSLA. There’s a redesigned front end to deal with the strengthened higher profile shock towers. At the front, twin-piston calipers have been increased by 9.5mm in diameter, while the ventilated rotors are an impressive 332 x 32mm in size. At the rear, Ranger Raptor comes with disc brakes with a brake actuation master cylinder and booster to increase braking performance. The 332 x 24mm rear rotor is ventilated and coupled with a new 54mm caliper. These are housed inside new for Raptor BF Goodrich 285/70R17 rubber.It’s not yet known when exactly in 2018 the Ford Ranger Raptor will be available although it’s fair to surmise it’ll be within the first half of 2018.