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Tips When Buying a New Car

When it comes to buying a new car it can potentially be one of the top financial decisions you will ever have to make.  For some, hunting for a new car can be a daunting prospect, but for others the process is fun.  Here are some tips for you to consider when you are on the hunt for a brand new car.

Size

Firstly you will need to think about what exactly you will be using your car for.  Are you going to be carrying passengers or travelling alone?  What about the luggage – will you carry lots of items and therefore require a large boot space?  If you’re going to be mostly travelling around the city then a small car like a VW Polo will be a great little car for you.  A Corolla will happily accommodate four people and some luggage.  You might consider a an SUV-type vehicle like a Volvo XC60 or an MPV like the Honda Odyssey if you want to carry elderly people about as there is plenty of space to climb in-and-out of the car.  If you will be touring with the family, then a large estate like the Holden Commodore Tourer is superbly comfortable and spacious over the long open-road haul.

Number of Doors

SUVs, hatchbacks and station wagons with four doors and a big opening tailgate are all classed as having five-doors because the rear gate is a massive door that opens wide to access the boot space.  There are three-door hatchbacks with two doors to access the seats and one big door at the rear to access the luggage space.  Then there is the saloon car like a Honda Accord which has a smaller boot opening at the rear and four doors for access to the seating area – so it’s known as a four-door.  A two-door car like a Mazda MX-5 has two doors to access the seats and a smaller boot opening at the rear.  I’m sure once you’ve checked out a few cars with hands-on experience then you’ll form a good picture of the style of car you’ll want to buy.

Space

You’re going to need to consider the amount of space that passengers are going to either enjoy or hate.  The freedom of occupant space and the number of doors – or lack thereof – will affect the enjoyment levels of the occupants while travelling.  Even some three-door cars like the Renault Megane can accommodate passengers quite happily in the rear seats, however getting in and out of the back seats does require having to move the front seats forward in order for the rear seat occupant to get out of the car.  And if you’re sitting nice and snug in the front seat when the rear seat passenger needs to get out for a leak, then I’m sorry but you’ll firstly need to get out of your front seat for them to be able to get out of their rear seat space.  Not much fun!  Accessibility into the seats of a five-door or four-door car is easy.  Some SUVs like a Holden Trailblazer and MPVs like a Citroen C4 Picasso have three rows of seats and can carry seven occupants with ease.  Those sitting in the third row will usually require a second row seat to be folded for them to get out – but the access and occupant space is usually quite good in one of these types of vehicles.

Luggage Capacity

Most cars have their luggage space at the rear of the vehicle and this area is known as the boot.  Boot space, volume or capacity is given in the car’s specifications and is usually given in litres for us “down under”.  If you talk American then then boot space will be given in cubic feet – just to be annoying!  If you’re going to be carrying occupants and luggage regularly then it would be wise that you check out how much boot space your potential new car can offer.  Most hatchbacks, SUVs, MPVs and station wagons have rear seats that can be folded down to provide more luggage space when required.  Generally, the bigger the car – the bigger the boot space.

Fuel efficiency

It’s worth considering how economical a new car will be before handing over the cash.  If you’re on a budget, then definitely check out the fuel efficiency of the particular vehicle you’re interested in.  Most vehicles under 2.0-litre engine capacity will be quite economical with all of the latest engine technology like stop/start and more gears being standard on most new cars.  Turbo diesels – particularly small ones – can be quite efficient, but do remember that fuel taxes are heavier for diesel vehicles.  Hybrids like the Honda Insight are very efficient around town when they usually require most of the travel to be done by the electric motor.  They get thirstier when performing open road driving because the car will require its petrol or diesel engine over the electric motor.  There are purely electric vehicles which you can buy like the Nissan LEAF, but these are suited for city environments.

Warranty

All new cars come with a warranty.  Most manufacturers offer a three year warranty and some offer five years like Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Toyota.  Kia vehicles offer seven year warranties.  Having a good warranty on the car you’re going to buy is ‘peace of mind’, really.

Outgoing models

When a manufacturer is about to release a brand new model, the outgoing model is often offered at a great price.  So do keep this in mind when buying new.  If having the very latest isn’t such a big deal, then buying an outgoing model is a great way of knocking a few thousand off the purchase price.

Mazda Goes Great, It’s The CX-8! And How About The Mazda6?

Mazda has added a new CX model to the range, with the CX-8 also being the sole diesel powered entry to the family. The seven seater will have a 2.2L oiler with 140kW and 450Nm of torque. Name plates will be Sport with front and all wheel drive, and Asaki AWD as the range leader.Pricing will naturally be competitive with a starting price of $42,490 (manufacturer’s list price) for the FWD Sport. The AWD Sport will start from $46,490, and the Asaki from $61,490.  The Asaki will feature heated front and rear seats, a Bose sound system, brown or white elather trim, and a woodgrain dash finish.Size-wise the CX-8 will be on the same 2930mm wheelbase as the petrol only CX-9, but is slightly smaller in length, width, and height. It’s based on the CX-5 platform but shares the same wheelbase as the larger CX-9.Adaptive Cruise Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Lane Departure Warning are expected to be listed as standard equipment, along with a reversing camera and rear parking sensors for the Sport. Further details are expected closer to the launch date.CX-8 is due to be released for a July 2018 sales date.

The Mazda6 has also had the wand waved over it. There’s a refinement to the exterior including LED headlights with integrated fog lamps, a 170kW/420Nm turbocharged 2.5L petrol four, and upgrades to trim.
Standard equipment includes the i-ACTIVESENSE safety package which includes Mazda Radar Cruise Control, and the top end Atenza gains a 360 degree viewing monitor and vented front seats, a boon for Aussie drivers in warm climates. The seats themselves have been redesigned with better support and higher vibration absorption levels.There’s 14 variants for the 2018/2019 Mazda6, covering sedan and wagon, with Sport, Touring, GT, and Atenza trim levels. Pricing starts at $32,490 (plus on roads) for the Sport sedan with the 2.5L 140kW/252Nm petrol four, and tops out at $50,090 plus on roads for the Atenza diesel wagon. A 2.5L SkyActiv four cylinder petrol is also available with 170kW and 420Nm at 2000 rpm.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Toyota Camry SL V6 & Ascent Hybrid.

Car reviews are always a personal point of view. People have a love for a brand and that’s personal. Toyota has that brand loyalty and it’s won them millions of customers over decades. Toyota‘s Camry is a big part of that loyalty here in Australia and we first saw it as a five door hatch somewhere in the 1980s.The mid noughties saw the V6 Camry reborn as the Aurion and was sold side by side with the four cylinder and hybrid Camrys. Now, in 2018, we’re back to no Aurion and a V6 Camry. One of those, the top of the range 2018 Toyota Camry V6 SL trim spec, with barely two hundred kilometres on the clock, graced the driveway. There’s also a Hybrid version that sits above the Prius range and below the similarly styled Lexus offering.Exterior and interior styling are strongly reminiscent of Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus. Tweaked for Toyota’s audience, there’s sharply angled headlights with LED lighting at both ends on the V6, standard globes for the Hybrid, a full length glass roof with sunroof offered for the full petrol car, and an almost coupe rear roofline. There’s aerodynamic strakes on the wing mirrors and embedded in the rear light plastics. The boot itself has a designed in extended lid that doubles as a spoiler. It’s perhaps the front end that brings a Spock like raised eyebrow, with a twin level V that stretches from each side to meet at the (blue hued on the Hybrid) Toyota logo.Inside it’s strongly Lexus, with multiple dash folds, a beige and black trim combination in the V6 car supplied, some buttons too easily hidden by the steering wheel, and a disturbingly cheap look plastic on the centre console compared to the rest of the interior. The dash design is an S shape line from the driver’s binnacle that winds down to finish near the passenger’s knee. Leg room isn’t an issue though, nor is cargo space. The Hybrid has moved the battery pack from the boot to under the rear seats, giving a full 524L of space. With a 2825mm wheelbase, an increase of 50mm over the outgoing version, front and rear leg room is more than adequate for intended passengers. What isn’t is no USB ports for them in the Ascent, that’s left for the SX and SL to deliver.Up front is a easily spun 3.5L V6. Peak power is 224 “killerwasps” at a almost stratospheric 6600rpm. Peak torque is 362Nm at a more typical petrol rev point of 4700rpm with quoted economy of 8.9L/100km for the combined. This is quite achievable in real world driving but utilise the spirited V6’s revving ability and that figure goes south and quickly. Power is put through to the ground via an eight speed auto connected to the front wheels. It’s not the most refined eight speeder around, with each change regardless of throttle position having the body rocking back and forth in sympathy. Compared to the super smooth nine speed in the ZB Commodore tested immediately before, it was almost harsh in its changes.The Hybrid counters this with a combined total of 160kW however this is less than the full capacities available from the petrol and battery system separately. The four is a 2.5L unit with 131kW and 88kW from the electrical side. Transmission here is a CVT and rarely does it feel out of step with the drive-train. It’s also a combination that equals the urge of the V6 when pushed, will quietly hum away on a (very) light throttle, and will pick up its side skirts and bootscoot away rapidly anywhere in between. Economy is quoted as 4.2L/100 km of 95RON or E10. AWT saw a best of 5.0L/100km and that was on a fuel sapping run to Canberra and back. The tank in the Camry seems to be of a V shape, meaning as the fuel level lowers the trips towards half, quarter, empty become quicker.Camrys have, somewhat fairly, been tagged as whitegoods on wheels. There’s little engagement, they’re designed to move human bodies from A to B and back again without issue. And these two do. If the word fun can be injected into these two, it’s the Hybrid more likely to do so but only just ahead of the V6, in a driver’s sense. A niggle with the Hybrid that AWT has had is the all too quick engagement of the petrol engine to supplement the battery system. On a flat road and with an eggshell’s pressure on the accelerator, the Hybrid will move away under battery only up to a point where the computer, regardless of whether EV has been selected via a button in the centre console, brings in the petrol engine.A dash screen on both allows varying info such as navigation, audio, and in the Hybrid, shows the power distribution and battery level. It shows the change between battery only, both, or when the petrol is driving and charging the battery. It’s here that faint thunks from the CVT as it deals with the changing drive inputs can be felt.

Road holding in a straight line shows that the Camry V6’s rear end is too soft. Every minor ripple set the Camry’s rear bouncing, and more often than not a good dip would have it on the bumpstops. The front was defineably tauter, with the same bumps that had the rear flustered consigned to a mere bump. Combined with a V6 and front driven wheels, a heavy foot will also induce a phenomenon rarely seen in cars nowadays. Torque steer. Some plough on understeer was noted as well with Bridgestone Turanza 235/45/18 rubber not seemingly up to the task. Another disconcerting suspension issue was the readiness of the rear end to skip sideways when on a turn and hitting even a small irregularity.Somehow, the Camry Hybrid felt better sorted at both front and rear. Float was reduced, turn in was crisper, there was a lesser feeling of understeer, a minimised lateral movement and compression at the rear. Ride felt more confident, perhaps thanks to the Michelin Primacy 215/55/17 tyres. Even in the rainy periods that struck Australia’s most populous city during the test week, the Hybrid gave a more composed and sedate performance on road, instilling a higher level of confidence.Features wise there’s plenty. DAB audio is in both and the model dependent varying sized touchscreens are easy to use although have a pre-programmed split screen look. Default mode has a map on two thirds and audio on the other third, however the soft touch Audio button then brings up the chosen source. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t installed but a connected smartphone allows music apps to be used. There’s a charging pad for compatible smartphones snuggled in under the lower dash fold, next to a 12V and USB/3.5mm socket connector. The tiller has tabs on the left spoke that allow access to the dash screen. Cupholders front and rear via the console and pull-down are in, as are door mounted bottle holders. LED lighting is featured and the glass roof in the V6 was simple to operate via the standard roof mounted toggles.Airbags (seven, including kneebag) and driving aids abound, with the Hybrid having the drive mode options in the console. The SL trim level has a Head Up Display which is discrete to the point it’s almost unnoticeable. Park Assist front and rear is fitted and it’s a doddle to use. Reverse parking comes with a camera and guidelines on the screen to help in tighter car park and roadside kerb parking. Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert is SL specific.

At The End Of The Drive.
Pricing for the 2018 Camry range starts from a manufacturers list price of $27,690 for the four cylinder Ascent. The Hybrid Ascent is $29,990. Go to the Hybrid SL and you’re looking at $40,990. The SL V6 is $43,990, bot of course check with your dealership and for special offers head to Toyota Australia’s website

The cars themselves will sell to the Toyota faithful and potentially steal a few from elsewhere. Pedaled hard the Hybrid edges ahead of the V6 purely on driveability, is definitely more economical, and in SL form they have a goodly range of kit. From a driver’s point of view however there still doesn’t seem to be a real level of engagement, that sense of momentary flutter when getting in. For AWT it’s perhaps the somewhat disjointed looking dash design and the V6 SL’s lack of real ride as opposed to what a free revving V6 engine offers. That’s possibly best left to the V6 SX for those that want a rorty and sporty V6 Camry.

 

Build Your Own Bentley.

Wander into a car dealership and you’re presented with a range of automobiles that are an example of what is available. Mostly they’ll cover colors, perhaps some seat trims, and some options like roof racks, or wheels.
Iconic British car maker, Bentley, are at the other end of the spectrum. Their large limousine, the Mulsanne, offers via their Car Configurator, an almost endless list of combinations to ensure that Sir and Madam have a car tailored to their own exquisite tastes. There’s three versions of the Mulsanne: the Extended Wheelbase, Mulsanne Speed, and the Mulsanne itself.
The exterior has a basic choice of five single colors and one two-tone black and aqua-marine known as Velvetine. Click the “Colors” tab and this opens up an eight further options covering Blacks, Greens, Golds/Oranges/Browns, Blues, Reds & Purples, Silvers, Yellows and Whites, and Duo-Tones. A click on Silvers alone brought up a choice of thirteen distinct shades. Bentley’s own “Mulliner” branding is applied here and through the other very comprehensive options list.The choice of wheels is somewhat more restrained, with five available. There’s one twenty inch, two twenty one inch, and two Mulliner Specification.
Heading inside, the Hide tab has Colour Split and then Main Hide and Secondary Hide. Sixteen Main Hide and fifteen Secondary Hide options are listed including Highland Hare and Fireglow. Naturally these coverings are sourced from the most pristine of donors, especially checked for markings and flaws before Bentley takes delivery, where they’re further rechecked.
A standout of any classic British brand has been the wood veneer fitted. Bentley has a list of ten utterly gorgeous real wood veneers, including the classic Dark Stained Burr Walnut. Naturally there’s a choice of location for these veneers. Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus for the Gear Lever? Of course, Sir.Which sort of stitching would Sir like to complement that? Contrast, Contrast Hand Stitching, or perhaps Contrast Piping? If a subtle look is being aimed for, there is non-contrast stitching and piping as well.
Of course the fabulous Bentley logo is included, with Blind and Contrast stitching. The steering wheel is given a choice of five coverings, and both the seat belts and carpets can be tailored to match the hides selected.
But of course Mulsanne owners like to let the world know that it’s their car they’re driving. Or more likely being chauffeured in. That’s why Bentley’s Car Configurator has grille options, glass tint options, and yes, even options for the famous “Flying Spur.”
Cost, as the saying goes, is “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”

Rolls-Royce Cullinan: One For The (Rich) Masses.

As often happens in Hollywood, two movies are released that have similar themes. And it is in the uber-luxury world with Mercedes-Maybach releasing a high end SUV, and now the British icon of Rolls-Royce has countered with the Cullinan.Immediately there’s a special kind of appeal for the Rolls-Royce Cullinan compared to the Maybach. It LOOKS like an SUV and ones with hints of historic British marques. A rear quarter view evokes Range Rover, for example, the front is pure “Roller”, whilst others have said there’s flashes of the iconic London taxi.

However it’s seen, it’s the first Rolls-Royce car of its type and nothing has been overlooked to ensure it embodies what R-R stands for. A clue to this can be picked from the name. In January of 1905 a diamond was mined in Cullinan, South Africa. At just under 3107 carats before being cut and polished, it’s still the largest gem quality rough diamond ever found. The two main Cullinan diamonds, incidentally, are part of the British Crown Jewels.

Motorvation is the famous 6.75 litre V12 which delivers 563 bhp (420 kW) and a orbit stopping 627 lb-ft (850Nm at just 1650 rpm) that’s connected to all four corners. Said four corners are also steerable. The drivetrain was engineered and refined through thousands of miles worth of testing in terrain as diverse as the sandy deserts of Arabia to the chill of the Scottish Highlands. Top speed is an electronically governed 155 mph or 250 km/h.

A key design feature that stands out in this Cullinan is the inclusion of “suicide doors” as seen in the sedan range. And being a Rolls-Royce, inside is a three box design, being front seats, rear seats, and rear cargo section that can be separated from the rest of the interior via a partition wall made of glass.Being the company’s first SUV, there’s the first opening tailgate and has its own name. “The Clasp” opens up to display a cargo space not unlike the style seen when luggage was carried on the exterior of cars.
Forward of this is perhaps the signature Roll-Royce seating layout. Sir and Madam can choose either Lounge Seats or Individual Seats which when fitted are located higher in what R-R calls Pavilion Seating. The Lounge will seat three and in yet another first for the iconic brand, the seats will fold at the touch of a button. Rolls-Royce don’t overlook detail here either with the headrests set to fold as well. Why? To avoid a headrest imprint on the seat’s leather. Full loading length is 2245 mm and offers 1930L of space.

Should the Individual option be ticked, a Fixed Rear Seat Console is installed and features bespoke whisky glasses and decanter. The glass wall has an extra benefit here. Should the rear seat passengers wish to be travelling in isolated comfort after raising the partition, when the cargo area is opened the interior temperature stays as chosen.The airbag suspension enables the Cullinan to not only waft along, it will lower the car by 40 mm and with the wide aperture doors open enables unparalleled entry and egress. Once inside there’s access to high tech features such as Night Vision and Vision Assist including daytime and night-time Wildlife & Pedestrian warning; Alertness Assistant; a 4-Camera system with Panoramic View, all-round visibility and helicopter view. Camera users can recharge from the five USB ports installed and smartphones are wirelessly charged.

Aluminuim was extensively employed in the sub-frame to ensure both lightness and rigidity met the standards expected by Rolls-Royce customers. It brings along future proofing as well as part of the proprietary “Architecture of Luxury”. There’s a new double wishbone front suspension and five link rear that holds the four wheel drive and suspension system which is in constant contact with a drive monitoring computer that calculates millions of times per seconds.

Cullinan brings with it one final surprise. The key fob has a button that when pressed accesses what R-R calls “The Everywhere Button”. It activates the Cullinan’s drive system and allows peerless finessing of the suspension for the drive ahead.The Cullinan. “Effortless, Everywhere”.

Game Changing Kia Cerato Updates For 2019

Today’s car sales figures feature SUVs and working utes as the leaders. Sedans are still available and Kia’s Cerato sedan has just been given a solid freshen up, inside and out. These updates have given the small mid-sizer more than enough appeal to bring back those perhaps tempted by SUVs or forgetting that there are still SUV alternatives. It’s an important car to Kia, the Cerato, with a third of Australian sales from this range.

In relative terms, the updates bring even more value to the Cerato. The range starts with the Cerato S at a current listed driveaway price of $19,990 for the manual six cogger. A six speed conventional (non CVT or dual clutch) auto is a $1500 premium. Engine choice is Kia’s free spinning 2.0L petrol powerplant with 192 torques and 112kW of peak power. The Si and SLi nameplates have been benched, replaced with the $23,690 Sport and $26,190 Sport+. Standard trim across the range is, to say the least, extensive. Kia says:”Autonomous Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Rear View Camera with dynamic guidelines, Driver Attention Alert Warning, front and rear parking sensors, 16-inch steel wheels, Drive Mode Select, six airbags, tyre pressure monitor, speed limiter, 6-way driver seat adjustment, cruise control, 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with voice recognition, 6-speaker DAB digital radio with Bluetooth connectivity, manual air-conditioning and power windows with driver auto-down.”Move up to the Sport and there’s alloys at 17 inch diameter, SUNA satnav with a ten year fee update cycle, higher level trim feel to the selector knob and steering wheel, aero-style wiper blade housings and sports patterned cloth seats. The Sports+ one-ups these with advanced smart cruise control, a pedestrian and cycle recognition system called AEB Fusion 11, dual zone climate control with rear seat vents, leather style trim and LED DRLs.The interior has been given more than a facelift as well. Higher grade plastics, a dash console mounted screen, a redesigned look overall bring a strengthened interior presence to the updated exterior packaging. Shoulder and leg room has increased, with the rear seat going to 906mm. There’s been a reshaping of the armrests whilst the boot gets an increase to 502L thanks to the extension of the tail. There is an extended body length, a steeper rake to the windscreen, a five millimetre increase in height, and a revamp of the Cerato’s front end. A re-emphasised “tiger grille”, redesigned air intakes, and for the Sports+ a Stinger related design cue for the DRLs. There are also enhancements to the shoulder line and tail lights.A $1000 Option Pack 1 will add Fusion II AEB, Smart Cruise Control (not available on S Manual), Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Folding Mirrors and leather steering wheel to S and Sport models. Option Pack 2 will add Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert to Sport+ for $500 (the other features are standard on Sport+).Ride and handling have been fettled and done in conjunction with Kia Australia’s engineering team. A sixteen percent stiffer body contributes and a modified electric motor assistance system reduces the artificial feeling previously reported. Suspension settings have also been re-rated for a better ride.

Kia will be supplying the new Cerato range for review from the end of July.

Hybrid Subarus Are On The Way.

Subaru’s popular small SUV style cars, the Forester and XV, are coming to Australia in hybrid vehicle versions. The downside to this is that there’s currently no firm date in mind, however Aussie Subaru boss Colin Christie said: “We don’t have exact dates and times, and also not sure which tech will go into the cars, but Subaru has made it clear that they are moving down the hybridisation path and moving down the electric path. They have been talking about having fully electric vehicles in the early 2020s. I think it’s an absolute move in terms of environmental, fuel efficiency and economy but hybrids are still quite a small volume in the Australian market, but we see them as supplemental to our sales so we will have our 2.5-litre direct injection in case of the Forester, and then the hybrid will be an incremental model.”

The expected growth in EV and hybrid vehicles appears largely to do with the forthcoming emissions laws changes in Europe, to Euro 7, and the Californian government changes.

What this means for Australian importers is dealing with the choice of cars that would suit the Australian market. Subaru’s technology liason with Toyota will certainly help its cause, but, as always, there are questions as to who wears the costs of incentivising customers; is it the manufacturer or should it be the government?

Christie says: “There are customers out there looking for hybrid vehicles more and more, still relatively small numbers but that will grow and we are seeing more demand increasing in some areas, but at the end of the day it’s a future tech story and a step towards electrification, and a natural step in the journey for the brand.”

What are your thoughts? When it comes to getting more hybrid/EV cars on the roads of Australia, who should assist in off-setting costs?

The Electric Highway.

One of the appeals of the Australian landscape is its huge gaps between the cities, allowing an almost uninterrupted view of the beautiful world we live on. That also means that using a car not powered by diesel or petrol may be limited in its ability to traverse the distances between them.Come the Electric Highway. Founded by the Tesla Owners Club of Australia, TOCA, they took up a joint initiative with the Australian Electric Vehicle Association to literally fill in the gaps. With a smattering of Tesla supercharger and destination charger points mainly spread along points of the east coast and largely between Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, a driver can now drive no more than 200 to 300 kilometres before seeing another charging point. The network is made up of 32 amp three-phase chargers which are about 200km apart on average, with the furthest distance between charge points being 400km. Most are capable of adding 110km of range in 30 minutes.

Tesla itself is looking at another eighteen superchargers around Australia by the end of 2019 which is complemented by the Australian Capital Territory’s decision to install fifty dual Electric Vehicle charging points at government sites in order to reach its zero emissions goal by 2022 for government cars.

Although most states have so far effectively failed to get on the electric car wagon, Queensland has bucked that trend by investing heavily in charger points.In that state, EV drivers can travel from Coolangatta to Cairns, and west from Brisbane to Toowoomba, using the government’s fast charger network, which is also vehicle agnostic. This means that the charger points are able to deal with the various car charging point designs, which does beg the question of why a global standard appears to not have been settled on. The rollout was completed in January of 2018.It’s also worth noting that the Western Australian government owned power company, Synergy, did assist the TOCA initiative. In WA alone, more than 70 charge points were installed in towns and roadhouses on all major roads in the south and east of the state, as well as some remote locations in the north.

The initiative, a team effort by Synergy and the WA branch of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association, is installing three-phase charge points in towns and roadhouses on all major roads in the south and east of the state, as well as some remote locations in the north.

WA’s regional utility, Horizon Power, also contributed to the roll-out, with installations of 3 phase outlets in the Kimberley area.

“We’re endeavouring to show that there is ‘people power’ behind the drive to EV’s, and hopefully governments can follow,” said Richard McNeall, a TOCA member and coordinator of the Round Australia Project.Currently most charger points are free, however there is a mooted change to this, but not at a huge impost. With pricing yet to be settled upon it’ll be worth looking out for press releases on this matter.

UK car maker Jaguar Land Rover has also announced plans to add a charging network in Australia, ahead of the release of its first EV, the I-PACE all-electric SUV, later this year. JLR Australia says the up to $4 million network would include 150 changing stations, using 100kW DC chargers provided by Jet Charge.

Plug Share is the site to go to to find out where the charge points are located.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Holden Calais V V6 AWD.

It’s a market that is seemingly on the nose with the Australian buyer yet there really is no truly good reason for it to be so. It’s the large sedan segment, made famous in Oz by the Kingswood, the Falcon, the Valiant. Australia went mid-sized with the VB Commodore in 1978 and 40 years later closed manufacturing, released the ZB Commodore and…..it’s been pretty quiet on the sales charts. Drive around and try and spot one. And yet, to deny it’s a bloody good car is to do yourself a disservice.I had a week with the near top of the range Calais V6. Any V6 Commodore in the ZB range comes with All Wheel Drive (AWD) as standard. Piled on top are 20 inch diameter alloys, Adaptive LED headlights and LED tail lights, a punchy Bose audio sound system via an eight inch touchscreen, powered front seats, a massage function for the driver’s, twin USB outlets for the rear seats, paddle shifts, remote engine start, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay via the understated looking touchscreen interface.The 1700 plus kilo machine is powered by a 3.6L V6 with no turbos. Peak power is 235kW at 6200rpm, peak torque is 381Nm at a highish 5200rpm. It’s this second figure that has some reviewers suggesting it’s sluggish compared to the perky 2.0L turbo petrol four. However, buried in the touchscreen menu is a couple of settings that adjust the car for Auto or Sports. And there’s an appreciable difference between the two.The Calais V6 AWD is a docile machine when required. It’ll simply purr along, unfussed and stress free, with the nine speed auto quietly and unobtrusively slurring through the gears. The exhaust is barely audible and there’s a faint whirr from up front. Crack the whip and the Calais V6 AWD goes from a sleeping kitten to a provoked tiger. There’s a real anger to the noise from the exhaust, a feral whine from the engine bay, no torque steer as the AWD system simply spanks the Calais on the arse and sends it flying forward. 0-100 time is quoted as 6.5 seconds and that’s pretty much what the seat of the pants says too. Overtaking is done with relative ease, and the whole package instills confidence. Along the way it’ll slurp a bit, with 12.1L/100km quoted for the city cycle. AWT bettered that in a mainly suburban drive at 10.6L/100km.

The steering is weighted like Goldilocks’ porridge. It’s just right. There’s no torque steer tug to unsettle, there’s weight enough to feel like you’re connected, and it’s not too light as to feel over assisted. There’s a sense of balance in the force for turns from lock to lock with the front pointing exactly where the mind has told the hands where it wants to go.Ride quality matches the pace, with the Sports suspension ironing out float, niggles, irregularities, with equal disdain. There’s something that only a real anorak would call harshness to the damping otherwise it’s fluid, compliant, comfortable even but leaving you in no doubt it’s in a sporting mode. Naturally there’s plenty of grip from the Continental Sports Contact 6 rubber, with plenty of footprint from the 245/35/20 rubber. And whilst you’re out and about, the nine speed auto is noticeable largely for one thing. That you don’t notice the gear changes. It’s smoother than Elvis crooning Love Me Tender, as slick as James Bond in a tux, and as enjoyable as sipping on your favourite single malt at the end of a hard day at the coalface.The Calais V6 AWD test car came clad in metallic silver paint. There’s more of a benefit in this than first meets the eye, as it emphasises the sleekness of the profile of the 4986mm long machine, the breadth of the lower set nose compared to the VF, the coupe styling at the rear where the hatch and non-powered liftback section (which is kept for the Tourer whereas here it would be a nice addition) reside. There’s a decent 560L cargo space which goes to 1665L with the rear seats down. It also highlights, as a downside in styling, the Ford Cougar line to the tail light section and the somewhat overdone scallop in the doors.There’s an odd design to the driver’s display, with an LCD screen overlaid by two chromed dials, meaning there’s a section of LCD and a section of mechanical dial. Inside the Calais suffers from black upon black. AWT has sandwiched the Calais with the Alfa Romeo Giulia Super and the Toyota Camry V6. Both feature a two tone colour scheme from the options list, with a beige that tended towards bone contrasting with the black otherwise built in. Although the cabin is comfortable and spacious enough, and features a HUD that has switchable information screens, it’s let down by a frankly boring interior colour scheme and the generic GM switch gear. In short, it lacks classiness.Where it doesn’t lack is in safety features. Blind Spot Sensor, Brake Assist, Camera Rear & Side Vision, ESC, Front Collision Mitigation at Low Speed, and Front Collision Warning, Lane Departure Alert, Lane Keeping with Active Assist (where the steering gently tugs the tiller to keep you between the whitelines), Parking Distance alerts, Pedestrian Avoidance, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, plus a full suite of airbags sans kneebag. Holden’s offering a seven year warranty to sweeten the deal as well.

At The End Of The Drive.
Priced in the region of $60K plus on road costs the Holden Calais V V6 AWD is a natural successor to the beloved Australian VF Commodore. Yes there’s no ute or V8. Yes there’s now a diesel and turbo four. Yes the lower levels are powered through the front wheels. So what? Genuinely. So what? This car and the rest of the Commodore family are part of the evolution of matters automotive. What this car delivers is what the VF did, and then some. The design may not appeal to everyone and that’s fine. Not everyone thinks Monty Python are funny or that the earth is round. That’s fine, if somewhat odd.

Holden conducted numerous clinics before releasing this car and the consensus was to leave the name where it was. In a way, Commodore has come full circle over forty years, with the naming a clear link. 1978 = VB. 2017 = ZB.

What’s inside the ZB is currently amongst the best tech for the level of car it is. It’s safer, too. However it’s still too generically GM inside and for a Calais to be a Calais it NEEDS to say so. This doesn’t, and therein lies the rub. For a DRIVER it answers the call. For the fashion conscious they’ll look elsewhere. Check it out for yourself here: 2018 Holden Calais V V6 AWD

 

2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super Diesel

It’s been a long time “between drinks” for this scribe and Alfa Romeo. In a previous life one of the car brands sold was Alfa Romeo and a highlight was piloting the gorgeous 159.Sadly, Alfa ceased building that slinky temptress. Thankfully, a new car has come along to replace it and it’s the Giulia. With Sophia Loren looks, and Gina Lollobrigida curves, the Giulia’s Italian heritage is like a siren call to the eyeballs. Powered by a torquey diesel the review car came clad in a beautiful blue and certainly gave hints of another Italian beauty. Did someone say Maserati Quattroporte?In Super trim, there’s a choice of petrol or the diesel as tested. The classic 2.2L capacity has 132kW and a welcome 450Nm of twist at 1750 rpm. An eight speed auto with paddle shifters is fitted and will take the 1410 kg (dry) beauty to one hundred in a breath over seven seconds. Alfa Romeo’s official figures for consumption is 4.2L of dinosaur juice per 100 km from the 52L tank. Highway driving range is rated as 3.5L/100km and therefore theoretically capable of Sydney/Melbourne and a good portion of return.Outside the car was clad in metallic Montecarlo Blue. The hawklike LED headlights, matching LED tail lights, the traditional Alfa Romeo Vee grille, are beautifully proportioned and as curvaceous as a supermodel. It’s a beautiful colour and one of 14 possible choices. Inside it was full leather beige and black. Although a worry with two kids it held up just fine. But if you’re a dog owner, some towels would be highly recommended.It’s a push button start and one of the most sensible locations for it is on the steering wheel. One of the most ridiculously non-sensible locations for a bonnet opener is in the foot well above the driver’s left foot. In a right hand car it’s perhaps the silliest place such a device can be placed.Another oddity that the Giulia has is the design of the gear selector. With an Audi-esque design to that section, with Menu button, jog dial, and so on, one would think a trigger on the front of the selector and Park button on top would be ergonomically friendly. Somehow it wasn’t. Too many times whilst wrapping the hand around the lever to select Drive (a pull back to engage, forward for Reverse), the palm would flatten the Park. Then the softness of the trigger didn’t register so thinking it was in drive or Reverse had the diesel revving and no progress in either direction.Thankfully, the interior class overcomes this and in spades. The information screen with high quality DAB audio is not a touchscreen and is part of a beautifully integrated sweep from the passenger side to the driver’s left knee section. There’s a Walnut woodgrain trim there and if it’s not real wood it’s the best imitation of that natural product out there.

The seats are luxurious to the point of bed-like yet are bolstered so there is no lack of side support. There’s adjustable settings electronically for the seats all around including lumbar. They’re heated, naturally, however take far too long to get to a decent temperature unless it’s deliberately calculated to do so to prolong the seat material’s life.Interior specs are high: the Super gets dual zone climate control, rear seat ducting from this, heated steering wheel, a cooling breeze for the dash’s storage, rain sensing wipers, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, and huge paddle shifters. Safety is looked after with Autonomous Emergency Braking and alerts via a musical tone. Reverse camera with guidelines, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Alert, and front & rear sensors are standard. Cargo capacity is 480L for the 4643mm long Giulia.It’s on the road that the Super delivers. In the centre console is a dial with three settings, D N A. A is….uninspiring, N is relatively driveable but to extract the best out of the engine and transmission, D is definitely the driver’s choice. It’s spritely, athletic, energetic, and is what brings the Giulia Super diesel alive. There’s barely a momentary hesitation off the line before the eight speed auto simply launches the car away. Drive in D and then swap back to N or A and the result is instantly noticeable. The revs drop, the shifts slow, and driver’s experience of enjoyment drops away. Leave it in D and enjoy.The Pirelli 225/45 and 245/40 rubber wrap 18 inch alloys and house twin and single pot brakes. These react to a bare brush of the foot on the pedal and haul up the Giulia time and again without fade.Road holding is magic; think of sitting in a bed with each corner moving without affecting the centre. Think holding something that communicates every ripple to the hands yet does so without overwhelming them or becoming tiresome. Think silence and forward motion combining. Think turns that have lesser chassis’ cringing in fear, and grip that is velcro & super glue & limpet in one. Confidence inspiring is a serious understatement. A 2820mm wheelbase helps in stability, as does the double wishbone front and Alfa link rear. However, something else happens with the car’s handling at very low speeds. When maneuvering for street parking, the front end would “scrub”, with the tyres feeling as if they’re were on edge, not flat.Service intervals are 20,000km or twelve months, with a three year/150,000 warranty currently as standard according to the downloadable brochure.At The End Of The Drive.
At the time of writing The Giulia Super had a starting driveaway price of $64,900 plus a complementary three year service package and five year warranty with roadside assistance for the same period. Being the Drive 2017 Car Of The Year means that the Giulia Super is a pretty special machine. Oh, yes indeedy. Quirks aside, and let’s face it, without quirks it wouldn’t be an Alfa, left in D and driven the way a sports saloon should be driven, it appeals deeply.
Find out more here: 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super