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Mercedes-AMG says GT Up!

Updates have been given to the premium range of two door Mercedes-AMG vehicles. In coupe and convertible forms, the Mercedes-AMG range are positioned as the premium versions of premium cars. Pricing reflects this too. The Mercedes-AMG GT S Coupé starts the range at $311,142 (MRLP, Manufacturers Recommended List price), with the Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupé at $329,843, Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster $355,242, and Mercedes-AMG GT R Coupé $361,042.Power is supplied via a 4.0L V8, complete with a pair of turbos, with the GT S delivering 384kW. The GT C and GT R respectively have 410kW and 430kW. Torque runs at 670Nm, 680Nm, and 700Nm, between 1,900rpm (GT S)/2,200rpm to 5,500rpm. Economy is quoted as 9.5L/100km for the GT S, 11.5L/100km and 11.4L/100km for the GT C and GT R respectively. Top speeds max out at 310kmm to 318kmh.

Equipment has been given a wave of the magic wand. Drivers will enjoy a new centre console that has AMG Drive Unit controls placed in a stylised V8 arrangement plus there are display buttons to select the drive programs and control dynamic functions. A bespoke AMG Performance steering wheel now has a rotary controller for quick switching between drive modes, and an additional controller allows the driver to nominate two performance shortcuts. These can be toggled during performance driving without a need for the driver to take their eyes off what lies ahead.The driver faces a fully customisable digital instrument cluster of 12.3 inches in size. There is a 10.25 inch media display, with the leading smartphone apps. Vision is improved up front courtesy of a camera and Traffic Sign Assist pairs with it. Illumination is courtesy of new LED headlights, whilst updated alloy wheels and paint colours add to the on-road presence. The addition of the MercedesMe Connect system allows the driver to control key functions plus view relevant vehicle data and service information via a linked smartphone.Comfort and luxury are standard, with powered and heated Nappa leather seats sat underneath a sunroof. The tiller is clad in Nappa and microfibre, whilst sounds come from a 640W Burrmester system. Drive safety is in the form of the Distronic cruise control whilst sporting drivers can track progress via the AMG Track Pace system. This leads to a drivetrain underpinned by AMG’s Ride Control Suspension and electronic limited slip diff, and AMG’s high-performance composite braking system inside 19 and 20 inch alloys. A retractable aerofoil sits over a hands-free operating system for the boot in the GT S. The GT R coupe has a carbon fibre roof and a static aerofoil. The GT C Roadster goes for a fabric soft-top roof and keeps occupants warm with the bespoke Airscarf system.
The vehicles should be in dealerships in the next few weeks.

Luxury For Sale With F1 Relationship: RBR Edition Aston Martin At Pickles.

Noted Auction house, Pickles, sometimes has cars available that have we would-be wannabe lotto winners salivating and wondering why the numbers didn’t drop for us. One of the latest is a 2017 Red Bull Racing Edition Aston Martin Vantage V8. One of just 17 made available for the Australian market, it’s clad in the iconic Red Bull colours of deep Mariana Blue, with contrasting bright yellow and red accents such as the brake callipers and air intake inserts, with Red Bull Racing embroidered headrests, and features scuff plates by a Formula One driver as special additions.

Power is provided by a 4.7L V8, with a reasonable 321kW of power and 490Nm of torque. They’re put to the ground via a six speed manual and driving the rear wheels. And with a kerb weight of around 1600kg, a zero to one hundred time of 4.8 seconds is possible. The exhaust system in these cars was given a bi-modal switch, allowing a deeper, more grumble oriented note throughout the rev range.

Inside the smallest of the Aston Martin range is an interior that shows the era its roots were based in. But to raise that level, there have been detail touches such as the steering wheel being covered in Alcantara with a racing stripe at 12 o’clock, the dash highlighted with carbon-fibre trim, and the Red Bull Racing logo adorning the seats. The RBR Vantage also has Apple CarPlay added to the user friendly entertainment system which includes Bluetooth streaming.

It’s a proper driver’s car too, with a heavy but communicative hydraulic power steering system. It’s one that connects the driver to the road via the tiller, telling the driver just what the front wheels are doing and which part of the road they’re in contact with. The manual transmission is along the same lines, with a high pickup point balanced by a shifter mechanism that is smoother than a lothario’s pick-up line.

And although perhaps a little dated in the suspension technology, it’s nonetheless a comfortable, enjoyable ride, yet still allows a driver to exploit the sheer Aston Martin-ness of the RBR EditionVantage’s heritage.

When originally released, the RBR Edition Aston Martin Vantage was listed as a fiver under $260K driveaway. One lucky buyer via the Pickles Auction will have this in their collection after the 14th of October, when this, and a sterling range of other hi-po cars such as a 2015 Ferrari California, go under the hammer. Stay up to date by visiting the Pickles website.

Ford Mustang R-Spec.

When it comes to high performance engines, Australia can stand up and be counted. Ford Australia has unveiled its supercharged V8 Mustang R-Spec. The car has been developed in collaboration with Melbourne-based Herrod Motorsport, owned and run by Rob Herrod. His specialist group is the largest Ford Performance parts supplier in the southern hemisphere.

Power is not specified but guesstimates hover around 522kW, with torque somewhere in the region of 830Nm. Those figures are based on the similar American specification. Standard figures are 339kW and 556Nm. It will be sold exclusively as a six-speed manual.

500 cars will be made available, and for those with an eye for colour, there will be two new ones to choose from, Grabber Lime and Twisted Orange. Tradition plays a big part in the presence with Boss Mustang stripes, a gloss black rear spoiler, and bonnet vents.

What will help in a customer service sense is that the Mustang R-Spec will be sold via Ford dealerships and will have the unlimited kilometres, five year Ford warranty. It’ll also be built in Broadmeadows, north-west of Melbourne and close to a Ford factory that built Falcons.

The R-Spec has engine components developed by Ford Performance in the United States as well as upgraded suspension and an active muffler. Herrod’s workshop has ensured that all ADRs have been met too, meaning that if Ford decides to go ahead and build more to meet the expected demand, it won’t have to undergo further testing. Fuel economy testing has shown expected figures of 14.0L/100km as an average figure for the combined cycle. Punt it around town and it’ll see a plus 20.0L/100km, whilst the highway run is circa 9.8L/100km.

The blower is a Ford Performance positive displacement item, has a capacity of 2.65 litres and runs a 12 pound per square inch boost.  The whole package from Herrod has been engineered to deliver a smoother throttle response and driving experience.  The air intake is a bespoke item and feeds into an aluminuim intercooler. Ford Performance also supply the suspension components. Ride height is 20mm lower, the adjustable stabiliser bars are bigger by 5mm and 3mm and the suspension is a magnetically adjustable setup capable of adjusting the damping rate at up to 100 times per second. Rubber is the Michelin Sport at 255/40/19 front and 275/40/19 rear on 9.5 inch and 10 inch width alloys.

Kay Hart, Ford Australia’s President and CEO, said: “Working with Herrod Performance, we’ve been able to bring this special edition Mustang to Australian customers through our extensive dealership network, and with the peace-of-mind of five-year, unlimited kilometre warranties backed by Ford and Herrod.” Service intervals are six months or 10,000 kilometres.

Impact to the hip pocket nerve? Call it $100K plus on roads.

2019 Toyota C-HR: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 Toyota C-HR. It can be seen as an alternative companion to the RAV4. Alternative because it’s a different option, companion becuase it’s a five door SUV that seats five. It’s a two-model range, with the Koba as the other entry. Under The Bonnet Is: A turbocharged 1.2L petrol engine. There is a manual transmission or CVT for the entry level, CVT only in the Koba. Opt for the CVT and it’s front wheel or all wheel drive for a choice. Peak power is 85kW between 5,200rpm to 5,600rpm. Torque is a bit more useable, with 185 of them between 1,500rpm and 4,000rpm. Economy is quoted as 6.3L/100km on the combined cycle. On our urban drive we saw a best of 7.4L, and a worse of 7.9L/100km. Recommended fuel is 95RON. There is no paddle shift in the base model, just the transmission selector for manual shifting.What’s It Cost?: Toyota’s website says the 2WD starts from around $30, 500 in Hornet Yellow. Head to a metallic colour and that goes to just over $31K. The AWD will start from around $34,700. You’ll get a five year and unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing can be booked via the myToyota app.

On The Inside Is: A reasonable amount of standard equipment and safety features for the ask. It starts with something basic but useable in the shape ofI an auto dimming rear vision mirror. There are auto headlights, dual zone aircon, but no DAB in the overly boomy audio system. The 6.1inch touchscreen system has a CD to make up for the lack of digital radio, plus USB & Bluetooth connectivity. Satnav and voice activation are also standard is the ToyotaLink app function.SafetySense is the name Toyota give to their suite of driver aids, and the C-HR has Lane Departure Warning, Auto High Beam, Blind Spot Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Autonomous Emergency Braking and Active Cruise Control are standard as well, as are seven airbags.Trim material in the C-HR is black and black. This may make the interior somewhat claustrophobic for some, as there is a hunchbacked look thanks to the rear window line being steeply sloped. There is some triangular shaped embossing in the roof lining which matches the interior light above the manually operated front seats and mirrors the rear light design. For the driver there is a sense of having their own office space. the dash sweeps around from the window to the centre stack, and this faces towards the driver’s seat. Trim here is of a piano black and there’s some smartly integrated buttons for the aircon controls.On The Outside It’s: Not unpleasing but definitely one example of beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is down to the profile. The rear roof line slopes dramatically forward from the tail lights, which can compromise interior headspace for taller people. There’s a huge roof-lip spoiler too, which in the Hornet Yellow is noticeable. The wheel arches and guard are pumped out from the body and these are defined by strong crease lines coming down from the windscreen and rear window.

Overall length is 4,360mm, with a wheelbase of 2,640mm. Height is 1,565mm and width is 1,795mm.

The rear doors have a severe upwards kink to meet the roofline which means it looks like boot space is compromised. However, there’s enough boot space to house a week’s shopping for a family of four. It’s a high floor though, meaning a bit more of a lift to get items in. The front end bears (bore) a striking resemblance to the now outgoing RAV4 and features a triangular LED driving light cluster inside the angular headlight design. Alloys are 17 inch in size and on the C-HR have a design that somehow emphasizes the spinning when underway.

On The Road It’s: One of the few vehicles with a CVT that benefits from using the “manual” part of the gear selector. Programmed with seven ratios to mimic a standard auto, it’s far more responsive to using it manually. Use the C-HR in auto and it becomes what a 1.2L engine suggests. It suggests nothing special, it suggests sluggish, needing a heavy right foot. Move the lever to the right, pull back for M1, hit the go pedal, and tip forward for upshifts, and it comes alive. Forward movement seems to have far more sizzle and pizzaz than leaving the transmission to do it all by itself. Changes are swift, crisp, and really allow the driver to take advantage of the torque delivery.The engine itself is quiet though, with no audible appeal and neither is there anything at the exhaust’s end to suggest anything exciting. No rasp, no fizz, no….well, anything.
Ride quality though is average at best. The MacPherson strut front seems indecisive; should I be soft or should I bang on bumps? The steering rack didn’t help. There would be input at the same velocities having more response than others. The trailing arm double wishbone rear end also had issues, with a harder than expected setup banging away on otherwise normally non-intrusive bumps. On the road the steering feel is numb. There’s no real sense of communication from the front and although it’s not a guess where it’s pointing proposition, it doesn’t really provide a chance to converse with the front either. The Bridgestone Dueler rubber wasn’t a fan of the wet too. The front end had noticeable push-on understeer on wet roads, meaning that throttle usage had to be carefully weighed up. The AWD mode is automatic, meaning the driver can’t select any drive mode at all. There is a graphic for the driver that’s displayed on the 4.2 inch driver’s display screen. It’s a combination G-Force and drive apportion graphic, and a hard launch shows the drive being sent to the rear wheels and easing off in conjunction with the accelerator being eased off.

At The End Of The Drive: The C-HR is, for AWT, a conundrum. It’s a vehicle that offers an alternative but at the point of being why so. The RAV4 does everything the C-HR does and now offers a hybrid. But in terms of market alternatives Toyota have to have something that competes against what Mazda, Hyundai, Nissan et al have. the problem here is that the C-HR is a case of doing nothing terribly bad, it simply doesn’t do anything outrageously special. Make up your own mind here.

Veloster Gets New Suit for 2020.

Hyundai’s 3 door sports hatch, the Veloster, has been largely untouched since it was released. For 2020 the pert little machine has been given a new set of clothes inside and out. Safety has been upgraded and there are new engines to punt as well.A three model range is the situation here. There is the entry level, the Turbo, and Turbo Premium. The middle and top have the 1.6L engine, delivering 150kW/265Nm with the entry level a 2.0L Atkinson Cycle engine with 110kW/180Nm. That powers down via a 6 speed manual or auto, with the Turbos either 6 speed manuals or 7 speed dual clutch autos. Prices start from $29,490 plus on roads for the Veloster, $35,490 plus ORCs for the Turbo and $38,990 for the Premium. Metallic paint is a $595 option and two tone is $1,000.Standard kit is impressive. The range opens with 6 airbags, tyre pressure monitoring, Forward Collision Avoidance with City camera, Lane Keep Assist, Parking Distance Warning – Reverse, auto headlights, a 7 inch touchscreen with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, 18 inch alloys and Michelin rubber. Sports gauges in a digital format are in the driver’s dash and there’s the usual drive mode options. The Turbo is fitted with Pedestrian Detection camera and radar, Blind Spot Collision Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Warning, and Smart Cruise Control. LED lights feature front and rear, and there are a set of sports oriented body parts, and cloth/leather seats. Michelin features again on 18 inch black gloss alloys. The Premium has a Head Up Display, heated tiller, rain sensing wipers, full glass roof, and a wireless charge pad for compatible smartphones plus an eight speaker audio system from Infinity.
The bonnet has been lengthened and the roofline has been given a sharper angle, plus the wheel arches have been reprofiled. As usual, Australian imput has been used for the chassis tune to work with the extra body rigidity and refined independent multi-link suspension. The power steering system has a quicker-ratio and Torque Vectoring Control.

Hyundai offer a five year unlimited kilometres warranty, 12 months roadside assistance, a free first service, and a 10 year service & satnav upgrade if servicing the vehicle through Hyundai dealerships. Head to the Hyundai website for details.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Hits The Summit.

Jeep Australia has released details about a new range topping version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Summit will be available from $84,450 plus on-roads. Power will be supplied via a Remote Start capable 3.0L V6 diesel with 184kW and a hefty 570Nm of torque. Transmission is an eight speed auto, with a mooted combined consumption figure of 7.0L per 100 kilometres. Oomph hits the dirt and tarmac via the Quadra-Drive and Selec-Terrain system that includes Snow, Rock, Mud, Sand, and Auto. The Quadra-Lift suspension has five preset ride height positions. Towing is rated as up to 3.5 tonnes.Outside are 20 inch wheels, and includes the Platinum Package. That includes Platinum chrome and gloss black Jeep 7-slot grille and front & rear lower fascia applique. Unique features outside include a refined front fascia with LED fog lights. The rear is also restyled and includes a pair of trapezoidal exhaust tips. Sill cladding and wheel arches, mirror caps and door handles are body coloured.

Inside are NaturaPlus leather seats, suede-like headlining, and “Summit” illuminated door sill plates. Above the passengers is the Dual-Pane glass sunroof. Harman Kardon supply a 19 speaker, 825 Watt amp, sound system, UConnect 8.4 inch Touchscreen with Digital Radio, Bluetooth Phone/Audio and Navigation, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Seats front and are powered and heated, as is the tiller. Front seats are vented as well, a smart move for the Australian market. Safety features are ticked, with the basic and extras. Reverse camera partners with front & rear parking sensors, as does the Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision Warning. Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Warning are backed by Lane Departure Warning.

Options are limited to just the Signature Leather-Wrapped Interior Package. This includes ‘Laguna’ quilted leather seats, leather wrapped upper and lower door panels, plus leather wrapped console and glovebox. Rear seat passengers can have a Blu-Ray/DVD Entertainment system.Interior noise is reduced courtesy of the acoustic rear windscreen and second row door glass. This helps to enhance the Harmon Kardon “Active Noise Cancellation” technology and is said to reduce exterior noise by up to 10dB.

Head to hthe Jeep Australia website for more.

New Audi TT And TTS For 2020.

Audi has provided details of the revamped and restyled Audi TT and TTS. Pricing for the Audi TT Coupe 45 TFSI quattro with the 2.0L TSFI 169kW engine starts from $79,900 and the
Audi TTS Coupe TFSI with 210kW starts from $99,900.

The TTS should see the tonne in 4.7 seconds. Economy whilst doing so is rated as 7.0L/100km. The TT is close, with 5.3 seconds and 6.6L/100km. Torque is almost identical at 380Nm and 370Nm respectively. Both powerr down via Audi’s much vaunted “Quattro” system.

The dominant factor visually is the new “Singleframe” grille. Audi says this remains true to the origins of this iconic sportscar, but with a more aggressive, contemporary interpretation. That price represents over $5,000 of value compared to the pevious model, with features such as the LED headlights, the dynamic rear indicator lights, and auto fold wing mirrors.

Highlights inside include heated front seats, Nappa upholstery, and a smartphone charge pad. There is also an a punchy 12 speaker system with 680W from B&O. An option available is the S Line Sport Package. This is $7,990 and includes 19 inch alloys, the exterior post package, bespoke front seats, and aluminuim strip highlights.

The TTS has over $8,500 of extra value with items such as metallic paint as standard, along with red brake calipers. The TTS can be specced with the $4,900 S performance package. This includes Matrix LED headlights, black high-gloss exterior accents, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, park assist and an extended leather package.

The Audi TT range also feature an impressive complement of safety and driver assistance systems including: Audi side assist, Audi active lane assist, Audi parking system with front and rear sensors and rear view camera, progressive steering, and cruise control with speed limiter.

Sheetmetal can be clad with Cosmos Blue, Pulse Orange and Turbo Blue available for the TT with the TTS available with Pulse Orange and Turbo Blue.

Head to the Audi website for more details.
 

New Model News from Land Rover and Mini.

Jaguar Land Rover has unveiled their new Defender. There’s a faint resemblance to the original with a three and five door shape, but it’s underneath and in construction that’s all new. At launch there will be a 90 Series and a 110 Series. There will be six levels of trim: Defender, S, SE, HSE, Defender X, and First Edition. Pricing is yet to be confirmed, with the 90 said to start from around $60, the 110 from around $70K. Accessory packs are grouped under four headings: Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban.

The body frame is aluminuim and rated as being three times stiffer than a body on chassis design with steel body panels. The drive system offers hybrid power, plus diesel and petrol. At launch, the petrol line-up comprises a powerful six-cylinder with 297kW, featuring efficient Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle technology. The diesel options are a pair of four-cylinder diesels, at 147kW and powerful 177kW. Ground clearance will enable a wading depth of up to 900mm. Sheer vertical front and rear designs aid in the departure and approach angles and a Wade Response program automatically adjusts the suspension. Wheel choice is varied with 12 different versions, including retro look pressed steel items.

The axles are now independent, not rigid, with air suspension an option on the 90 Series. The 110 Series will have it as standard. Seating for the 90 will be up to six, with the 110 offering more flexibility with up to seven seats. Passengers can get a glimpse of what’s around via the ClearSight Ground View technology. It shows areas usually hidden by the bonnet, directly ahead of the front wheels, on the central touchscreen. Along with the Wade program, a Configurable Terrain Response provides different driving abilities.

Deliveries are due to start for Australia in mid 2020. Another Iconic British nameplate, Mini, also released news of the Cooper SE. Powering this will be a 135kW electric engine. The three door machine will hit the 100km/h in around 7.3 seconds and has an estimated range of between 230km to 275km. Mini have chosen the smart floor mount route for the battery, meaning a low centre of gravity and this helps with handling. It also means that the interior packaging remains the same. MINI Australia General Manager Brett Waudby said: “The MINI Cooper SE Hatch marks a new era for our brand in providing our customers with a progressive mobility solution wrapped in a package that is unmistakably MINI in its look, feel and the way it drives.”

2019 Toyota HiAce LWB Petrol/Crew Cab Diesel/ SLWB Diesel Hi-Roof.: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Toyota’s completely revamped HiAce range. There is a choice of petrol or diesel, manual or automatic, long wheel base or super long wheel base, panel or crew cab. We were lucky to back to back to back three different versions. There is the LWB V6 petrol van, LWB diesel crew cab, and hi-roof diesel super long wheel base.Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.8L diesel, 3.5L petrol V6, and six speed autos in the vehicles tested. There is a six speed manual available but for the LWB panel van version only. The free spinning V6 produces 207kW (6,000rpm) and 351Nm (4,600rpm). The diesel has 130kW (3,400rpm) and either 420Nm for the manual (1,400rpm – 2,600rpm) or 450Nm (1,600rpm 2,400rpm) in the auto. Economy is quoted as 8.2L/100km for the petrol auto LWB, 8.4L/100km for the auto Crew Cab, and the same for the SLWB diesel auto van.What Does It Cost?: The range starts at $38,640 for the 3.5L LWB and $48,640 for the same engine inside the SLWB. The diesels are $42,140 for the LWB van, $47,140 for the crew cab, and $52,140 for the SLWB van. That’s before on road costs and dealership fees.

On The Outside It’s: Big. Boxy. Has a bonnet. That’s about it. Oh, the hi-roof has a ….. high roof. It’s 2,280mm in height which makes it 80mm too tall for some shopping centre car park entries. Otherwise there is 1,990mm for the panel and crew cab vans. Overall lengths are over five metres. The LWB is 5,265mm and has a 3,210mm wheelbase. The SLWB is 5,915mm in length and has a wheelbase of 3,860mm. Width is 1,950mm.There’s no doubt that Toyota’s designers and engineers worked hard together to ensure the design is familiar and efficient, with a profile not dissimilar to the previous model from the rear to the front doors. It’s that bonnet that showcases the change in design, with the extra frontal safety it brings and a balance to the weight distribution. Both sides of the van have sliding doors with a soft touch close. Glass is standard, changing that for steel is optional.

Up front is a nose that stands proud of the rest of the body and houses a squarish grille and surround, squarish headlights, and even squarish wing mirrors. This echoes the overall body before the long rectangles of the tail light cluster. The LWB petrol has grey plastic panels (body colour optional), with the Crew Cab and SLWB had body coloured panels. Rubber is from Bridgestone and is 215/70/16 on steel wheels with plastic covers.

On The Inside It’s: A revamped driver’s cabin with an easy to read dash display, steering wheel tabs, and Toyota’s easy to use 7.0 inch touchscreen system. The seats are all cloth covered, and the Crew Cab has a centre console tray. The SLWB and the petrol van have painted metal and sheet wood interiors on the doors and rear panels. There’s tie down hooks and in the SLWB enough space to double as a Sydney apartment. It also has two storage shelves above the driver and passenger. Volumes for the new HiAce are decent. The SLWB is 9.3 cubic metres, with the LWB rated as 6.2 cubic metres. The payload for the SLWB is 1,175kg for the diesel, with the petrol somewhat oddly higher at 1,295kg. The LWB auto diesel is 955kg, and the diesel crew is 875kg.Dimensions are rated as 2,530mm in cargo length, 1,760mm in width, 1,268mm between the arches, and 1,340mm in height for the LWB van. Inside the SLWB it’s 3,180mm, 1,760mm, 1,268mm, and a decent 1,615mm in height. The Crew Cab is the same for height and width as the LWB.What was a surprise was how car-like it was in layout and features. For example, DAB audio is onboard along with the CD player, USB ports and 12V socket. The driver’s 4.2 inch information screen is colour, not monochrome, and there’s a good list of safety features. The Crew Cab has 9 airbags, with the LWB petrol and SLWB diesel both scoring seven. The love continues with an active Pre-Collision Safety System with day AND night time pedestrian detection, plus day time cyclist detection. Lane Departure Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, plus Blind Spot Monitor are also here. THEN there is Road Sign Assist to add in plus a reverse camera with guidance lines and a nifty feature here too. A second camera is linked to the rear vision mirror and shows rear vision without Reverse gear. What hasn’t changed is one small yet familiar detail. On the passenger side and in its little nook behind the sliding door is the jack and tools for it. That essentially hasn’t changed for four decades.On The Road It’s: A car disguised as a van. Yep, that’s the easiest way to describe the way it rides and handles, even with the compromise light commercial oriented rubber. Yes, there is some grip issue occasionally, but that’s more a minor hiccup. The suspension is MacPherson struts meets a leaf sprung rigid axle, and it works admirably. Comfort levels on road are high, as a result, with a well controlled ride. However, it’s not recommended to drive these on windy days. That flat and boxy profile makes an excellent sail for catching wind.Steering is an unusual feel and not in a bad way. The driver’s seat is some 1,200mm behind the front wheel’s centreline yet it’s calibrated so that it feels as if the driver is sitting directly over the top. The ratio is quick, too, with what feels like a variable ratio setup. This makes a three point turn seem less onerous that what it can be, especially with long wheelbases.

Naturally there’s plenty of drumming from road noise. As there’s little to no insulation, the road noise gets very easily transmitted up and into the cabin. The SLWB especially has the driver feeling as if a pair of noise cancelling headphones are required. The petrol V6 has some serious urge and will launch the 2205kg (dry) van easily and with alacrity. It wasn’t tried but with traction control turned off, it’s a fair bet it would spin the rear driven wheels into a cloud of smoke. It’s silky smooth and spins without issue. The diesels pull hard, naturally, yet don’t seem to have the same electric urge expected. And being ahead of the driver their chatter is muted.What About The Warranty? Here is what Toyota says.

At The End Of The Drive. They were and continue to be a familiar shape on Aussie roads, thanks to one particular telco giant’s constant order base. This latest version, complete with car-like ride and car-like features, can do naught but reinforce why it’s been a mainstay of Light Commercial Vehicles (or Large Capable Vans) for four decades or so. The pricing is pretty decent here too, and that goes a long way to cementing the HiAce’s status as the go-to vehicle for this class.

Check out more, here.

 

Tesla Model 3 Standard Plus: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The 2019/2020 Tesla Model 3. In August 2019 Tesla Australia released the Model 3 for local consumption. It’s a pared back Model S, in the sense that there’s a strong family resemblance to the sedan, however some of the features are deliberately lower key. That doesn’t mean that they’re of lesser value in usage.What Does It Cost?: The car supplied has a starting price of $66,000. Deep Blue Metallic Paint is $1,400. The full self driving capability package is $8,500. With other charges such as government and dealership fees, the final price was $81,165.Under The Bonnet Is: A choice of two drivelines to choose from, being the Standard Plus Performance. Simply put, the Standard has a battery better suited for city or short distance country driving. A full 100% charge offers a mooted 460 kilometres which of course is condition and driver dependent. The car provided was fitted with a rear wheel drive setup, as opposed to the Performance with a dual motor option. Suspension is double wishbone up front, and fitted with a virtual steer axis front suspension with coil over twin-tube shock absorbers and stabilizer bar. The rear is fully independent multi-link rear suspension with twin-tube shock absorbers and stabilizer bar. Steering is handled by a variable ratio and speed sensitive electronic power steering.On The Outside It’s: As mentioned, there is more than a passing resemblance to the larger Model S. The profile is similar, with the windowline almost identical, but the boot is stubbier with a small integrated lip spoiler. Also, the tail lights look the same. The main difference is up front. It’s not impossible to think Porsche when gazing upon the nose as the design, especially around the LED headlights, look very Germanic. Rubber is from Michelin in Pilot Sport specification and are 235/45/ZR18 on charcoal aero alloys. One of the notable changes is in respect to the door opening mechanism. There’s no self opening, and no interior door handles. These have been replaced by small touch tabs. The exterior handles are L shaped in a horizontal design, and work by pressing the rear which levers out the longer part of the L and simultaneously drops the window slightly. The boot lid is fully manual in operation also.On the Inside It’s: A bigger difference. There is no “traditional” looking dash as in a driver’s binnacle. Everything is controlled via a landscape oriented touchscreen that is centrally mounted. Even the glovebox is opened via the screen.Behind this, in the test car, was a single sheet of wood stretching across the full width and it sits atop a subtle full width slot that houses the main airvents. Beyond that is the speaker bar and that sits at the base of the windscreen. It’s minimalistic, uncluttered, classy, and not to everyone’s tastes.Above the passengers is a deeply tinted full glass roof, with front and rear separated by a dividing roll protection bar that’s been tested to withstand a force of a couple of tonnes.Drive is engaged via a lever on the right side of the powered steering column, with indicators and wipers on the left. Park is engaged by pressing a button on the right stalk’s end. The indicators have a three blink mode, or when pressed more firmly, will stay on until the driver manually disengages them when changing lanes. Having the three blink option isn’t one we support as it leads to lazy driving habits. The tiller is standard in look, bar two roller switches in the arm. These also can be moved slightly left and right when, for example, adjusting the powered mirrors for position, or changing audio stations.There is a form of voice activation embedded in the car as well. One form of usage is to ask the navigation system to take the car to a final location. There are also a range of games which cannot be accessed while the car is in motion, however a Toybox icon brings up various forms of entertainment, including “Emissions Testing”…five year old girls and boys will love it. As will most adults.To add to the difference is something the automotive industry will no doubt see more off. There is no key. There is a card or two called Concierge Card, however the main method to gain access and perform other operations remotely is via a smartphone app. Once paired, the car reads the presence of the phone, and will lock the car from a distance of between five to seven metres.That same app provides charging information, location of charging points, and remote operation of the locking mechanisms including the charge port flap on the rear left corner. Those cards, otherwise, grant access via a centre console reader, or one in the B pillar behind the driver.The display screen default is the Google maps image to the left and centre, with the right showing the drive display. Sensors and cameras around show a computer generated image showing the car and its location relevant to the road and surrounding traffic. To change the air-conditioning settings, it’s a form of pinch and swipe on a graphic that shows the image of the slot. Some of the information on the screen is laid out in response to Tesla owner feedback. To the bottom right are icons that depict the car settings, audio and for access to ancilliary actions. These are here as a result of that feedback, with the heating for rear and front window moved to the far left as these were icons, drivers said, are far less used therefore don’t need to be close to a right hand driver.

Although seating is designed to seat five, it’s best used as a four seater. There are a pair of USB ports up front, and a pair for the rear seats.Out on The Road It’s: Dare we say, typical Tesla. What that means is devastating performance both from a standing start and in rolling acceleration. Tesla’s 0-100km/h time is quoted as 5.6 seconds for the Standard. That feels slower than real world seat of the pants feedback would suggest. There are no official figures for rolling acceleration but again, seat of the pants says quick.The Tesla Model 3 Standard Plus was taken on a drive loop from the lower Blue Mountains to a town in the NSW Southern Highlands named Robertson, to Bowral, then back. Charge used to arrive at Robertson was over 50%. However it needs to be said that this involved some noticeable uphill runs, along with the subtle climb that the main southern highway has to that area. There are no superchargers in the area and typing in “destination chargers” in the navigation showed one to be a charge plug unsuitable for Tesla ports. Tesla Destination Chargers revealed one at a highway inn on the outskirts of Bowral.Robertson itself is “famous” for its pie shop, and rightly so. As it’s an ideal spot to stop between Wollongong, Kiama, Berry/Nowra, and the Bowral/Mittagong towns, it’d also make an ideal spot for a Tesla Supercharger. The one sourced was of the maximum 22kW variety, with an hour or so to charge in an extra 20% to be on the safe side to get home. Once the destination was typed in, it shows estimated time of travel and estimated charge left. Both were virtually spot on, with just 30% used on the return journey.The ride quality and steering is superb. Model 3 could be seen as the sports car entry in the Tesla range, and even though the Standard Plus has a slightly higher road clearance height, it’s still clearly low enough to provide a sense of sports car. The chassis and suspension work well to allow a sporting minded driver to push it top its limit, and in conjunction with the superb grip from the Michelin rubber, means that it really hangs on at velocities in turns that some others would need to be at five to ten kilometres per hour, maybe more, slower. This is also where the brilliantly balanced brake pedal came into its own. Although the regeneration system can slow the car well enough in some circumstances,t the pedal provides ample communication when needed.It’s a beautifully supple chassis too, with bump absorption on the very irregular back roads brilliantly sorted. Actual road noise isn’t fantastic on these sorts of roads, but once back on the smoother tarmac, the only really noticeable noise was wind.Charge levels, well, they’re the same as fuel usage. Go hard and that estimated range disappears quickly. Go gently, and range gets better. There is adjustable settings for the regenerative system, and this seemed to vary in grip depending on whether there was a slop to go down or coming up to a stop sign on a flat road. To gauge the driving style, the touchscreen shows the same sort of information the Model S and Model X have on their driver’s screen. Yellow for positive energy usage, a black like for when the car is using the battery.

When it comes to the autonomous service, the Tesla Model 3 relies on sensors and cameras to read the road ahead and around. A small steering wheel icon comes up on the screen, and one or two pushes downwards on the right hand stalk. This brings the car to full autonomous, with steering and active cruise control (with distance settings also adjustable) fully involved. However, it will still warn the driver that hands on the wheel should still be the norm.Left to its own devices, the steering will follow the roadside markings without issue. It will not work if there are substantially degraded or non-visible markings to be read. The motions are a mix of fluid and jerky, with longer corners having the wheel move minutely, section by section. Most of the drive though was under human control.

At the End Of the Drive. Tesla had promised a cheaper car for some time. It’s here. In Standard Plus trim, it’s an ideal city based vehicle. Ride quality, handling, a basic features list, make for an $81K electric car that can be held up, finally, as a worthy option compared to petroleum fueled cars. The inside happily swallows four, has a boot big enough to deal with a family, and isn’t unattractive to look at.And although the outright electric only competition is increasing, it’s still not a crowded market. For now, Tesla is still the leader.
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