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Holden’s New Big Acadia Arrives

Holden has released details about their new, fully North American built, large SUV. The Acadia is a dedicated seven seater and is powered by a 231kW/367Nm 3.6L V6. There will be no skimping on safety features either, with the Acadia featuring: Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian and bicycle detection, Following Distance Indicator, Automatic High Beam Assist, Safety Seat Alert, Forward Collision Alert with Head-Up Warning, Lateral Impact Avoidance, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Side Blind Zone Alert with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Rear Parking Assist.TSR or Traffic Sign Recognition is a new feature. Holden says they have had an engineering team perform tests within tens of thousands of kilonetres worth of testing. This has enabled the TSR system to be sophisticated enough to recognise the variance in signs throughout Australia, which also highlights the lack of commonality in signage across the country.

There will be Holden’s next generation eight inch touchscreen plus, for all three rows of seats, fast charging USB ports, suitable for the current generation of smartphones and tablets. There’s some smart tech on board and aimed at people that will utilise the Acadia’s 2000kg towing ability. Hitch Guidance and Hitch View allows a driver to line up the Acadia using the reverse camera, plus there’s a program for the nine speed automatic transmission called Tow Haul. This changes the shifting characteristics of the shift patterns whilst driving and towing.Inside the Acadia will be clever storage solutions such as adjustable fore and aft position for the middle row, a console drawer for the second row, a storage bin in the rear, and just in case the parents have a brain fade, an alert system for the rear seats.The V6 is rated at a reasonable 8.9L/100km on a two wheel drive system, and increases barely to 9.3L/100km in four wheel drive. Thankfully it’ll run on standard unleaded, a handy thing with the expansion of Australia’s fuel prices. That’s helped by Stop/Start and AFM or Active Fuel Management as standard.

Suspension is the tried and true McPherson strut front and the five link rear end, tuned and fettled by Holden in testing on roads and at the Lang Lang grounds.

Pricing starts from $42,990 plus on-roads with the Acadia LT 2WD. the AWD LT clocks in at $46,990 plus on-roads. Move up to the LTZ 2WD and there’s $53,990 plus on-roads or $57,990 plus on-roads for the LTZ AWD. The top of the range LTZ-V 2WD is $63,990 and hits the ceiling at $67,990 for the AWD, again with on-roads to be added.Here is where you can find out more and book a test drive.

2019 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Ready For Your Driveway.

Ford‘s 2019 Mustang range has had the EcoBoost engine added and it comes with extra spice. Sitting alongside the grunty 5.0L GT, the EcoBoost offers more torque than the previously available version. There’s also a new, optional, ten speed auto with paddle shift, extra safety features such as Autonomous Emergency Braking, the updated exterior, and a B&O sound system with 12 speakers with a total power of 1000 Watts. Warranty is now up to five years.
The fuel injected alloy engine with twin scroll turbo produces 224kW and a ripping 441 Nm of torque. That compares favourably on a kW/Nm per litre factor when looking at the 5.0L’s figures of 339kW and 556Nm. Standard transmission is a six speed auto. The turbo has been tuned to deliver a beautifully smooth torque curve which enhances the overall driveability. Strength and durability comes from forged conrods, lightweight pistons with steel rings, and variable valve timing for better upper end performance.
The interior features a new 12.4 inch instrument cluster that is heavily customisable thanks to a large involvement from ex games developers. Three modes are available, being Normal, Sport, and Track with adjustable layouts and colours. A new memory function, Mustang MyMode, allows a driver to set drive settings, steering preferences, and exhaust note preferences. A brand new active exhaust features four distinct modes, being Normal, Track, Sport, and Quiet. An electronic control system enables the note to suit the drive mode and rev range, and there is even Track Apps to allow the recording of data for analysis.Ride and handling prowess has been upped thanks to new shock absorbers, and a new cross-axis joint for the rear suspension provides a higher level of lateral stiffness for extra stability. Redesigned stabiliser bars also factor in the increased handling capability. Magnetic damping has now been provided as an option. With an adjustment speed of up to 1000 times a second, the Ford MagneRide suspension was previously available in the Shelby GT350.
More tech for the Mustang EcoBoost comes from the Ford DAT, or Driver Assist Technology. Pedestrian Detection technology partners with Autonomous Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, plus Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Assist. Auto high beam and auto levelling headlights are also on board. Ford’s renowned SYNC3 interface is standard on the EcoBoost and features Emergency Assist which will dial emergency services should the car’s telematics detect a crash has occurred. There’s an eight inch full colour display, reverse camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The EcoBoost will be available in the two body shapes, Convertible and Fastback, complete with reprofiled bonnet and grille for a harder. edgier, look. LED headlights are standard across the Mustang range, along with tri-bar daytime running lights. The LED taillights feature a revamped design, as do the bumpers, and there are black painted 19 inch alloys. Brembo supply the brakes. Inside the materials have been updated for a higher quality look and feel, with a new “spun alloy” llok for the dash panel.
Complete with a five year warranty the 2019 Mustang range starts from $49,990 (manufacturer’s list price) for the Fastback manual, $52,990 (MLP) for the Fastback auto, with $59,490 being the MLP for the EcoBoost convertible auto. The 2019 Mustang range including the EcoBoost is available from Ford dealers now.

Alpine A110 Ready To “Peak” Interest.

Automotive history is littered with names that have disappeared and then, to the joy of the hardcore, been resurrected. In rallying circles the name “Alpine” is synonymous with elegance and good looks, and the brand’s name has been given an injection here in Australia with the release of the Australian Premiere Edition Alpine A110. A recommended retail starting price of $97,000 comes along with it and for the money there’s a pack of standard kit.

An aluminuim chassis and a turbocharged 1.8L petrol engine, with 185kW and 320Nm of torque powering down through the rear wheels, plus double wishbone suspension, see a zero to one hundred time of 4.5 seconds and a 44:56 front to rear weight distribution take the new Alpine to levels surpassing its hey-day. The alloy chassis is bonded and riveted for structural rigidity, plus adds to the weight loss regime. Even more weight has been lost from using lightweight Sabelt sports seats at 13.1kg each, and Brembo brakes that incorporate the parking brake into the rear main calliper. This world first innovation saves another 2.5kg. All up, the Alpine A110 clocks the scales at just 1049 kilograms.

The proven double-wishbone suspension ensures that as the car moves and follows the road surface, the tyre’s contact patch remains consistently flat on the road. Kinetics sees the tyres press harder onto the road the harder the Alpine A110 corners. A conventional strut setup would have the tyre’s move to a position that offers less grip. Double wishbones means more suspension travel and due to the lightweight it means the actual suspension settings can be softer and more absorbent. That lightweight aids the handling further with the use of hollow anti-roll bars. This combination means that Alpine were able to specify rubber that initially looks small but in testing proved to be ideal. Michelin supply the Pilot Sport 4 and in a 205/40/18 & 235/40/18 front and rear combination on Otto Fuchs alloys.

Although it’s an inherently safe chassis, the Alpine A110 still comes with the essentials of electronic safety. Anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control are standard. There’s a smattering of luxury items in the forms of an active sports exhaust, a sound system from renowned French audio gurus Focal, carbon fibre interior trim, leather trim on the Sabelt seats, and brushed alloy pedals. The driver is looked after by a driver focused design ethic; the binnacle is small yet clearly laid out and easy to read, the steering wheel is of a suitable diameter and heft, and all round vision is engineered in to be high. Satnav and climate control are also standard as in smartphone mirroring.

Contact your Renault dealer for more details.

Peugeot Goes Touring With The 508.

Peugeot continues its renaissance with the announcement of the revamped 508 range and the addition of the Tourer variant. This is currently scheduled for a release in the second half of 2019. The Tourer will be released along with the “Fastback” and is based on a brand new from the wheels up design. Known as the EMP2, or Efficient Modular Platform 2, the design enables Peugeot to strip up to 70 kilograms from the mass of the Tourer. It also features a more compact design, a reduced height, yet without compromising interior packaging. There’s a sharper, edgier design, and the interior has also been given an update which will feature the third version of Peugeot’s i-Cockpit.

Motorvation will come from a new driveline combination; for Australia there’ll be a newly designed Aisin eight speed auto and will be paired with a 1.6L petrol engine producing 168kW. A slightly less powerful version, with 135kW, will also be available and paired with the same auto. This will be seen in the Fastback and sedan versions at launch. Built into a chassis that will be at around 1420kg, it means a better power to weight ratio than most of the competitors the vehicles will be up against. Variants fitted with the 169kW engine will boast an 8.41kg/kW power-to-weight ratio while 133kW variants will also be competitive with a 10.67kg/kW power-to-weight ratio.

Ben Farlow, Peugeot Australia Managing Director, said the all-new 508 range’s arrival signifies the complete reinvention of the Peugeot line-up and heralds a new focus for the marque in Australia.

“Over the past five-years, Peugeot has completely reinvented its product range and the all-new 508 will challenge segment norms, while delivering a vehicle that is not just enjoyable to drive, but great to look at. The Peugeot ‘5-series’ has always held a fond place in the hearts and minds of generations of Australian motorists and this all-new 508 is set to reignite the passion for Peugeots that stretches back almost 100 years locally.”

Full pricing and safety features are yet to be confirmed, but it’s expected that now common safety technology such as Autonomous Emergency Braking will be on board. For further information and to be in the mailing list for updates, contact peugeot.com.au

Mercedes-Benz A-Class On The Way For 2019.

Mercedes-Benz is due to release an updated A-Class range before the end of the year and it’s set to receive a healthy boost with the introduction of the new A 250 4MATIC. Available for a limited time, the A 250 4MATIC arrives with the same generous levels of standard equipment as the A 200, but adds more power and all-wheel drive traction. The new A 250 4MATIC will be available from all authorised Mercedes-Benz dealerships in November 2018 and is priced from $49,500 (Manufacturer’s Retail List Price)

The M 260 four-cylinder engine in the new A 250 4MATIC is essentially a further development of the previous M 270. It will produce 165 kW of power and 350 Nm of torque. Combined with the standard 7G-DCT dual clutch transmission, the A 250 4MATIC is able to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in just 6.2 seconds. Combined fuel consumption is 6.6L per 100 km.

The 4MATIC system has been developed further by Mercedes-Benz, and offers even more driving pleasure and efficiency. Using the DYNAMIC SELECT switch in the cabin, the driver is able to influence the 4MATIC characteristics more than before. 4MATIC components include the power take-off to the rear axle, which is integrated into the automated dual clutch transmission, and the rear axle differential with an integrated multi-plate clutch. This is no longer electro-hydraulically powered, but instead electro-mechanically.

Drive torque distribution between the front and rear axles is fully variable so depending on the driving situation, 100 per cent of the drive torque can be directed to the front axle (e.g. when driving straight ahead with no increased slip at the front axle), or in borderline cases up to 50 per cent can be directed to the rear axle if the friction coefficient suddenly changes such as wet or snowy roads.

Using the DYNAMIC SELECT switch, the driver is able to influence the characteristics of 4MATIC even more than before. In the A-Class there are two characteristic curves available for clutch control. Models equipped with 4MATIC have a four-link rear suspension for enhanced ride and handling characteristics.

As with the A 200, the Mercedes-Benz A 250 4MATIC comes with 18-inch aero alloy wheels, the Mercedes-Benz MBUX multimedia system with widescreen cockpit (2 x 10.25-inch digital screens), TOUCHSCREEN Central Display with NTG 6 MB Navigation, standard LED headlights with Adaptive High Beam Assist, keyless start, and wireless charging fo compatible smartphones.

The A 250 4MATIC also arrives with a host of standard safety equipment such as nine air bags (front, pelvis side, and window bags for driver and front passenger, side bags for rear occupants and knee bag for driver), Active Brake Assist with semi-autonomous braking function, Active Parking Assist including PARKTRONIC, Active Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Assist with exit warning, Traffic Sign Assist and reversing camera. The exterior has also been refreshed and brings the 2019 A-Class into line with the majority of the passenger car range from the iconic German manufacturer.

Contact your local Mercedes-Benz dealer to organise a test drive when the vehicles hit the showrooms.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Lexus RX-450h

Take a mid to large sized SUV, add a smattering of real leather, toss in a pinch of hybrid technology attached to a 3.5L V6, and pin on a badge that says L. Voila, it’s the 2019 Lexus RX-450h. It comes with a choice of non-hybrid or hybrid V6, a turbo 2.0L, and either five or seven seats. Private Fleet has the hybrid and showcased it at a superb location, Dryridge Estate, in the Megalong Valley, on the western fringes of the Blue Mountains.The RX 450h mates a pair of electric motors to the petrol engine. That’s good for 230 kW to power all four wheels on demand with a torque split system. Peak torque for the 2270 kilogram (dry) machine is a somewhat surprising 335Nm at a high 4600 rpm. It feels as if there should should be more though. Transmission is a CVT and for the most part it’s hard to pick it as being one. A dial in the centre console allows the driver to choose different drive modes, and picking Sports/Sports+ changes the left hand LCD dial in the driver’s binnacle from a hybrid information screen to a tachometer. And although it’s a heavy machine with a load on, at just under three tonnes, economy is very good. Lexus quotes a better than impressive 6.0L/100 kilometres on the combined cycle, a figure that we didn’t finish all that far away from in a real world, lifestyle, testing drive.The Lexus RX-450h, for the most part, was driven in the environment it’s most likely to be seen: around town. Here it copes admirably, with the comfortable interior featuring rear seat climate control, superbly padded real leather pews front and rear, powered rear seats, and a power tail gate. There’s a full length glass roof which was at odds with the junior members of the review team preferring the Toyota Kluger Grande’s sunroof and blu-ray player. The actual dash design is the somewhat heavy horizontal layer look that Lexus favours, with most switch-gear easily seen from the driver’s seat. The trip/odometer are hidden behind the right hand tiller spoke, and the Start/Stop button behind the left hand side. The trim in the RX-450h supplied was black and chocolate plastic, counterbalanced by cream leather with a distinctively different feel to machine made leather.There’s the traditional Lexus multi-function controller in the centre console that allows the front seat passengers to access an array of information such as the audio, climate control, and Lexus information, which requires a smartphone to be paired in order to deliver the info. This pops up on a 12.3 inch widescreen display high on the dash, ensuring it’s at eye level and provides a better measure of safety, rather than looking downwards. There is also a relatively bland looking HUD or Head Up Display. A Mark Levinson audio system with DVD-Audio capability and DAB tuner is installed, and it’s worth the time to set it up for your preferred style of audio. Unusually, a Time-Shift function is added, where a user can rewind live audio thanks to a small hard drive running streaming storage. All windows are one touch up/down, and a soft touch at that. There’s a better quality material for the windows themselves to run on, with an almost silent mechanism as a result. Wireless smartphone charging is gradually making its way into more cars and it’s here too, albeit hidden in an awkward forward position ahead of the cup holders.Ride and drive is a mixed bag. The steering can feel heavy when it’s just the front wheels being driven, but lightens in proportion as drive gets shunted rearward. Lateral stability is high with only the occasional rear end hop/skip over unsettled surfaces in corners. It’s the suspension that raises and eyebrow sometimes, with a feeling that the tune, although compliant, has the body feeling as if its moving around more than anticipated and this happens at the top of the suspension, almost like a mattress with a pole and springs supporting it at each corner.. There’s more pogoing than expected but does damp itself quickly enough.

Turn-in is easily controlled via throttle application. There’s little predisposition to a nose heavy attitude in corners but on the rare occasion there was a tendency to run wide, a gentle lift of the go-pedal would tuck the front back in before a judicious squeeze would have the car settle into the desired arc. The excellent brakes also help, with a brush of the pedal enough to feel the mass of the RX-450h respond in kind, and certainly assisted in the run out to the spectacular views from Dryridge Estate. Naturally they feed kinetic energy back into the hybrid system and it can be a little mesmerising watching the dash display with arrows feeding in and out of the various car driveline components..This small vineyard, Dryridge Estate, is at the southern end of the road leading from Blackheath, a small village on the way out to Lithgow and Bathurst as one drives from Sydney. Located on the escarpment of the massive Megalong Valley, a former sea canyon, the drive starts with a series of tight and downhill oriented turns through a fern lined and barely sunshine lit set turns that will test and delight the enthusiastic driver. That’s presuming one isn’t caught behind another driver that brakes every couple of seconds. They specialise in small and intimate gatherings, provide a wonderful variety of cheeses to sample, and of course their own produce. The fact that the background should entice car companies to host launches there is a bonus.Once at valley level the forest and ferns disappear, with a broad valley floor offering uninterrupted views of the canyon walls. It’s about a twenty minute drive from the highway to Dryridge, with a couple of kilometres worth of unsealed road taking you to the estate. Facing eastwards the estate then allows driver and passenger a chance to stop and drink in the stunning view. The RX-450h was neutral and easily controlled on the downhill run, with the brakes recharging the hybrid’s battery along the way. On the flat the V6 opens up and emits a throaty roar under acceleration, and the steering seems to loosen up, almost as if it realises that it’s time to relax and back off on assisting, yet keeps in touch with the driver.On the gravel that softer upper end travel comes into its own, with that absorption level flattening out the corrugations found on the way in and back out. Heading back to the highway brings with it a similar yet different feeling. Being front wheel drive oriented there’s a subtle shift in chassis feel thanks to the now uphill run. The nose is a little harder, tighter, as each flex of the right foot has the front tyres biting into the tarmac. The torque split feels more noticeable as it pushes the rear along into the turns uphill and makes for a more nimble and exhilarating package. The multi-purpose Dunlop SP Sport Maxx rubber provide a decent enough grip across both types of surfaces and at 235/55/20 provide a huge footprint too.

If there’s a signature for the Lexus range it’s the exterior design. It’s better than fair to say that Lexus has a unique styling ethic and it’s unlike any other luxury oriented maker. There’s a plethora of lines and angles and very few true curves outside of the wheel arch and behind the passenger doors. The sedan range, all of the SUVs, and even the Land Cruiser based big beastie have a strong family design ethic, particularly at the front end. There’s the distinctive hour glass grille, slimline tapered headlights, and in the RX there are a pair of triangular clusters holding the halogen driving lights. The overall presence is one of a standout on the roads.

At The End Of The Drive.
The Lexus range showcases and highlights a strong desire to take on and beat the Europeans and with possibly a better hybrid range, currently, does so. There’s little to dislike about the RX-450h on the inside as it’s a beautifully comfortable place to be in. Perhaps the only “downside” would be the full size glass roof rather than offering the blu-ray set up as found in the Kluger Grande. But there is that Mark Levinson DVD-audio system to compensate. Outside the exterior is a matter of choice. The drive itself is mostly one of beckoning towards those that enjoy the balance between sheer grunt and technology. The fuel economy is certainly a winner however AWT’s preference for how a fuel engine/battery system works is at odds with Toyota and Lexus’ way of doing it. The fuel engine cuts in far too early for AWT’s liking and the apparent lack of torque is a Mr Spock eyebrow raiser.

It’s a very good highway and freeway cruiser but also distinguished itself on the type of unsealed roads found in the lower mountains and elsewhere. This dual capability adds to the allure of the RX-450h, and with the hybrid economy pairing with the luxury interior, the combination add up to be a worthwhile consideration. Here is where you can find out more.

Ford Eyes Off A New Level Of Focus.

The all-new 2019 Ford Focus range has been developed from the ground up to provide the most confidence-inspiring, intuitive, rewarding, driving and occupant experience for Australian customers. The all-new Focus has AEB or Autonomous Emergency Braking as standard across the range. Also known as Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection technology, the system can detect people in or near the road ahead, or who may cross the vehicle’s path. In addition, Focus goes even further with the system’s capability to detect cyclists as well as function in the dark using light from the headlamps.

Ford has also engineered a new-generation, highly efficient 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine and 8-speed paddleshift automatic transmission. They are standard on every new Focus. With significant improvements in fuel economy, thanks to advanced materials and weight reduction, the new powertrain also ensures drivability with greater power and torque. An integrated exhaust manifold that improves fuel-efficiency by helping the engine reach optimal temperatures faster, and delivers torque more rapidly by minimising the distance exhaust gasses travel between the cylinders and turbocharger. Power is rated at 134kW, with torque 240Nm at a very useable 1600rpm.

Inside there is the brilliant voice-activated SYNC 3 with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Again this will be standard in every new Focus, with a full-colour 8.0-inch SYNC 3 touchscreen bringing voice-activated features including the standard built-in satnav and a full colour 180-degree reversing camera. All new models will have a laser-welded body.

The entry level Trend will roll on 16 inch wheels, and comes with a slippery 0.27 drag coefficient. An active front grille shutter system helps in that figure. A voice recognition systems in getting things done whilst on the go, such as changing climate control settings. Audio comes from Bluetooth streaming and DAB via a six speaker system.

Focus ST-Line adds a wagon variant. 1653 litres of storage space comes with the wagon along with a two tier cargo floor. ST-Line specific body additions such as rear bumper and spoiler complement ST-Line specific items inside.

Focus Titanium is the model with premium features including the most comprehensive Driver-Assist Technology suite ever offered on a Focus. In addition to Ford’s Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Focus Titanium brings Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop&Go, Speed Sign Recognition and Lane-Centring and Evasive Steer Assist helps the vehicle maintain a comfortable driving distance from vehicles ahead; helps reduce stress during long road trips by helping keep the vehicle centred in its lane. Respectively, these two features are designed to provide continuous hands-on steering support to guide the vehicle and keep it centred in the lane and gives an appropriate level of steering torque to help the driver to help avoid a collision. That is, it can make the steering lighter if the customer steers too slowly or makes the steering heavier if the customer steers too aggressively. Titanium has 18 inch wheels.

Pricing will start at $25,990 plus ORC, with the ST-Line wagon coming in at $30,990 plus ORC. The Titanium tops out at $34,490 plus ORC. Prestige paint will be a $550 option for the Trend and ST-Line, while safety packs such as the Driver assistance package will be$1250 for the lower two, with the Titanium having them as standard. Deliveries for the 2019 Ford Focus are due to start in December 2018.

Hyundai Gets Fastback For The i30 N

Hyundai has revealed the new 2019 i30 Fastback N in Europe. The sophisticated five-door Fastback N is the second high-performance model from Hyundai’s N Performance division, following on from its sibling the i30 N hot-hatch, which arrived in Australia in March to critical acclaim. The Hyundai i30 Fastback N incorporates many of the design signatures of its hatchback sibling. The elegant i30 Fastback shape has been merged with the dynamic features of the i30 N five-door, such as the dynamic-looking N Grille, and N front and rear bumpers, both highlighted by a red character line. A blacked-out side sill further underscores the model’s sportiness.The new 2019 i30 N Features the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine first introduced in the i30 N hatchback. Like the i30 hot-hatch, the Fastback N is offered in Europe in both Standard and Performance iterations. The Standard Package engine delivers 184kW and uses 7.0L/100km on the official combined cycle. The Performance Package engine generates a maximum power of 202kW and uses 7.1L/100km on the official combined cycle.

The engine delivers a maximum torque of 353 Nm in both specifications. An overboost function further increases torque up to 378Nm and is activated when the maximum torque threshold is reached. The European i30 Fastback N with Standard Package accelerates from rest to 100 km/h in 6.4 seconds and the i30 Fastback N Performance Package version accelerates from 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds. The i30 Fastback N is capable of a maximum speed of 250 km/h. The i30 Fastback N’s rear visual features a twin-muffler exhaust and a cohesive rear spoiler that flows neatly into the line of the liftback. A glossy black accent is inserted to highlight the spoiler and further develop the N performance theme.The horizontal design theme of the i30 Fastback N instrument panel conveys an elegant impression and is offered in Europe with a choice of two infotainment systems. There is a Display audio system with an eight-inch capacitive LCD touchscreen, an integrated rear-view camera and Bluetooth connectivity.

Alternatively, there is a Navigation system featuring an eight-inch capacitive touch screen and a seven-year free subscription to LIVE services. Both infotainment units feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which provide a seamless on-screen interface to users’ smartphones for the control of music, telephone or navigation functions. A specific N mode screen menu offers customisable settings for the engine, rev-matching, exhaust sound and Performance Package settings.The 2019 i30 Fastback N features Hyundai SmartSense active safety and driving assistance technologies, including Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Driver-Attention Warning, Lane-Keeping Assist, High-Beam Assist and Intelligent Speed-Limit Warning. Inspired by motor sport, the Hyundai N range was derived from the company’s successful participation in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and the Touring Car Racing (TCR) International series. The N line-up was born in Namyang, Korea, at Hyundai’s global R&D Centre, developed and tested at Germany’s infamous Nürburgring and honed to suit Australia’s uniquely challenging roads and driving conditions by the Hyundai Motor Company Australia engineering and development team.

Complete Australian pricing and specifications will be available closer to the local launch of the Hyundai i30 Fastback N in the first quarter of 2019.

2019 MG ZS Essence SUV

A new brand for our review section  is MG. MG itself is Morris Garages, once a name held in the same regard as Lotus and Caterham thanks to its sporty range of little two seater sports cars. However that link to the British history is about all that is left. The company is now owned by Chinese conglomerate SAIC and the brand’s range itself is a long way from the sporty little two seaters that made the company a household name. There are four models available, the MG6 sedan, MG3 SUV, MG GS SUV, and the range topping MG ZS SUV, with two trim levels. We drive the 2019 MG ZS Essence, complete with panoramic “Stargazer” glass roof, six speed DCT, and a 1.0L turbocharged three cylinder.The pair starts with the 1.5L four speed Excite, and at the time of writing was on a special drive-away price of $22,990. The Essence is currently on $25,990. The three potter has that familiar thrum peculiar to three cylinder engines, and delivers 82kW @ 5200rpm, and 160Nm between 1800 to 4700rpm. Although that’s a great spread of revs it’s got to pull, via the front wheels, a 1245kg machine, plus fuel, plus passengers. This immediately puts the ZS on the back foot in overall driveability, with performance noticeably blunted with four aboard, compared to a single passenger. The engine comes paired with a six speed DCT, or dual clutch transmission, and makes a good fist of it here. It’s mostly smooth, bar the typical DCT stutters between Reverse and Drive, and at speed was quiet and almost seamless in changing.

The weight and lack of torque is dealt with by judicious use of the accelerator. Rather than punching the go pedal, a firm and progressive squeeze yields better results from a standing start. Revs climb willingly, the cogs shift appropriately, and the economy hovers around 8.0L/100km. MG quotes a combined cycle of 6.7L/100km and a city cycle of 8.4L/100km. In a purely city based environment that in itself sounds good but the ZS has just 48L in the tank, and after just shy of 500 kilometres of travel the tank needed a quick top up on the way back to its home base. MG also specify 95RON too, which makes for slightly more expensive attack on the hip pocket.

Ride and handling are a mixed bag. The steering is light, but not a featherweight in feel. The ZS changes direction quickly and without effort. But some of that comes from the suspension setup. Initially it’s hard, harsh, and picks up smaller road objects such as the reflective “cat’s eye” markers too easily, and it’s tiresome very quickly. That same setup has the chassis move around on the road, and with sweeping turns pocked with expansion joints, the ZS skips around noticeably. Over bigger lumps the dampers soften and absorb bigger obstacles such as the speed restricting bumps in school zones well.The MG ZS fits well in the compact SUV segment. There’s an overall length of 4314mm, a width of 1809mm that includes the mirrors, which makes interior shoulder room a mite snug. It stands just 1644mm tall and packs a 359L cargo area, in a low set design, inside the 2585mm wheelbase. Fold the rear seats and that cargo jumps to 1166L. On its own the low set cargo floor helps in loading and removing the weekly shopping. Getting in and out of the ZS was also easy thanks to the wide opening doors. Build quality was pretty good, with only a few squeaks, and one of the cargo cover pins refusing to stay plugged in noticed. The trim level itself is a pleasing blend of faux carbon fibre, flat and piano black plastic, and black man made leather seats. Unfortunately there is no venting in the seats and, on the sunny days experienced during the review period, were uncomfortably hot.Entertainment comes from an eight inch colour touchscreen. Apple CarPlay is embedded, Android Auto is not. FM sound quality was fine but if you want DAB you’ll have to stream it via a smartphone as that isn’t featured either. Interestingly, there is a Yamaha sound field program for the audio, which although making an audible difference between a single versus multi-person choice, is of questionable value. There didn’t appear to be RDS or Radio Data Service either, which gives you station ID and song information.The driver has a simple binnacle to deal with, sporting a pair of dials and a truly out of date LCD screen. This is a design that has the thin LCD line style of display and in an era of full colour screens with a better layout, this stands out as an anachronism. The tiller holds the tabs to scroll through the info available on a horizontal basis but didn’t seem to load anything using the up/down arrows. Attached to the manually operated steering column is the cruise control stalk, with a speed limiter alert fitted. Again there didn’t appear to be a simple method of disengaging this as it would produce an irritating chime with a buzz note when the legal speed limit was reached.Outside the MG ZS has styling hints from Hyundai and Mazda, not entirely a bad thing here. There’s good looking LED driving lights in what they call the “London Eye” up front, a Hyundai ix35 style crease at the rear, and a bluntish nose not unlike Mazda’s CX-5. However, the 17 inch wheels (with 215/50 rubber from Maxxis) look too small, especially in the rear wheel well arches. They’re too wide to provide the right proportional look for them.

When it comes to safety the MG ZS Essence is well equipped but misses out on Autonomous Emergency Braking. There are six airbags, not a driver’s kneebag, the basic emergency driver aids but no Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Detection, and the like.

At The End Of The Drive.
The 2019 MG ZS Essence is neither a bad car nor a good car. It does what it’s asked to do but offers no more than that. It drives well enough but needs a 1.5L or 1.6L engine with a turbo to overcome the performance issue. It’s comfortable enough but venting in the seats would be nice. The ride is ok but the jittery part of it, which is most of the time, would quickly become tiresome. The dash looks ok except for the 1980s style info screen. Here is where you can find out more.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Toyota Kluger Grande and GXL.

In a previous life, I attended the Perth launch of a newcomer to the Toyota family. Called Kluger, it was a squarish, slightly blocky, petrol only, mid-sized SUV. Fifteen plus years later the Kluger remains petrol only, still has a squarish and blocky design, and not far off in size of the Land Cruiser. AWT spent a week with the top of the range Grande and mid-level GXL, with the Grande seeing the countryside whilst the GXL did what it’s designed for. The urban lifestyle run. There’s a big price difference though, with the GXL in the mid $50K range and a huge $10K less than the Grande.The standard engine is a 3.5L V6, producing 218kW, and a surprising 350 torques. Surprising because, in context, it’s the same amount as that produced by a turbo-charged 2.0L petrol engine. As a result, urban fuel economy is less that inviting, with the GXL not seeing a figure below 11.0L per 100km at any stage. The Grande is a different story; the dash display didn’t appear to show a consumption figure however we managed a reasonable half tank from the lower Blue Mountains to Cooma. This consumption stayed consistent from Cooma to Bega, back to Cooma, and then Sydney.Sole transmission option is an eight speed auto. In the GXL this drives the front wheels and the Grande is an AWD system, driving the fronts but splits torque rearward on demand. The driver’s dash screen shows this in a graphic, and it’s kinda interesting to watch from the eye’s corner when starting forward, be it a hard or soft launch. The Grande suffers in comparison to the GXL in this area. When punched the GXL will move with a decent measure of alacrity and will chirp the front tyres. The GXL around town also has a slightly better ride, with a more supple appeal thanks to the slightly higher sidewalls. The Grande is sluggish off the line, with a feeling of needing more effort to have both front and rear wheels gripping. The eight speed auto in both is…..adequate, to be polite. Cold they were indecisive off the line, and when warmed up were somewhat archaic in their change feel. Think the early four or five speed autos when one cog was finished and there was a yawning gap until the next one engaged. An exaggeration of sorts, yes, but needed to paint the picture.The weapon of choice for the six hour country drive was the Grande over the Holden Calais Tourer. According to the junior team members of the review team it was the roof mounted blu-ray player (complete with SD card input) that won the contest. There are four wireless headphones and they sound fantastic. The screen itself, naturally, isn’t blu-ray quality but the fact Toyota offers that kind of playback is a bonus. Having rear aircon and the controls at the rear of the centre console is also a bonus as the controls are both fan speed and temperature independent of the front seats. The middle seat rows are tilt and fold which allows access to the simple pull-strap operated third row seats. Or one could enter via the power operated tailgate. The Grande has an extra family friendly feature for those that use wireless charging smartphones too. Adding to the family persuasion is a plethora of cup and bottle holders throughout the cabin plus a DAB or digital audio broadcast tuner. The latter had an oddity in that it would pick up signal in areas some other cars don’t but when it lost signal it was almost painfully slow to regain it.

Actual fit and finish in the Klugers is starting to lack visual appeal. The dash design is somewhat chaotic with blocks rather than an organic look. Somehow, after a while, it seems to work. Of note is the centre of driver’s binnacle info screen. In typical Toyota fashion it’s initially a little confusing to look at, but once a few flicks of the tabs on the tiller have been performed, the info such as which safety aids are being used or how much traction is being apportioned, becomes easily accessible instinctively. Powered seats make finding the right seating position to read the screen easy, and in the Grande they’re both heated and vented via a pair of utterly simple to use roller dials. They’re coloured red and blue left and right of the centre point and have three settings to choose from. The GXL ditches the venting and goes to slightly less attractive roller dials to activate the heating side.The actual driving position is comfortable in the seats but the tiller felt a bit narrow to the fingers. All round view is very good and with broad side mirrors the Blind Spot Alert system was almost not needed. Almost. On the highway heading east from Cooma to Bega, some of the roads narrow and there are opportunities for a lack of safety of this form to lead to issues thanks to drivers that believe themselves to be better than they are. Suffice to say the Blind Sport Alert system can be a life saver. Safety wise there’s really not a lot between the Grande and GXL, with Toyota‘s Safety Sense. Pedestrian friendly collision warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Lane Departure Alert, and seven airbags are aboard.The Grande turned out to be a decent country tourer. Under way and at cruising speed, it ticks over at the freeway speed at close to 2,000rpm. Toyo supplies the (specially supplied for Kluger Grande) Open Country 245/55/19 rubber on the Grande and Michelin the 245/60/18s for the GXL. Both exhibit a sometimes uncomfortable measure of road noise, especially on the coarser chip surfaces south of Canberra. The dearth of torque at low revs was always apparent though. That peak amount is at 4700rpm, and it was enough at times to feel the gearbox move to seventh to eighth to seventh in order to try and utilise what was available. It was also noticeable when uphill runs or an overtake were required, with a steady drop through the ratios. On the road the steering was never comfortable though, with a somewhat numb on-centre feel and with more weight than expected. However it doesn’t tax the body and with a stop every two hours or so, a driver can exit the car feeling a bare minimum of driving fatigue.The exterior design is also starting to look out of date in comparison to both Toyota’s own design ethos and in respect to the opposition. It’s still a squarish, angular look, which at least matches the dash. The front features an inverted triangular motif and isn’t overly chromed. Eagle-eye headlights with LED driving lights balance a similar look at the rear. Alongside the latest from Korea the Klugers look heavy, tired, and nowhere as slippery.The Klugers also come with just a three year or 100,000 kilometre warranty, another area that other companies are rapidly changing. Roadside assistance is a 24/7 owner service, however.

At The End Of The Drive.
Quite simply the Toyota Kluger GXL is the better value bet. There really is simply not enough between the Grande and GXL to justify the extra ten thousand, blu-ray and all wheel drive system included. Neither will see any dirt action apart from the front lawn either. The styling is fading, inside and out, however it’s fair to presume, having seen the new Camry and Corolla, that a redesign is on the boards at Toyota HQ.

Having no diesel option, unlike the Sorento or Santa Fe, leaves people looking at the HiLux or Fortuner, Toyota’s almost invisible machine. Or there are Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport, Holden’s Trailblazer, Ford’s Everest, to consider, or offerings from Volvo, Audi, VW…Take it for a test drive yourself and check out the range here