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Makes and Models

Bronco Busting: Ford Resurrects A Legend.

Jeep Wrangler, watch out! Ford has brought the Bronco back to life and the Blue Oval has its sights set firmly on the iconic machine from Jeep. The 2021 Bronco will come in two or four door shapes, or, if you will, three and five door. Soft and hard tops will be available. What won’t be will be anything other than either a four cylinder or V6 petrol engine for movement. But there’s no lacking for model choice with Ford U.S. releasing seven. For the U.S. there is the entry level named, smartly, Base. Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Badlands are followed by a name more familiar to Australia, Wildtrak, and a limited run First Edition. Prices will start from $29,995, with Wildtrak at $50,370 whilst the First Edition starts from $60,800.

A four cylinder petrol engine and V6 will be joined by a hybrid at a later stage. For now, we see a turbocharged 2.3-litre that makes 201kW/270hp horsepower and 420Nm/310 lb-ft of torque. The other option is a twin-turbo 2.7-litre that generates 231kW/310 horses and 542Nm/400 lb-ft. Ford says these will be good enough to push the Bronco through close to three feet of water and have a ground clearance of just under 12 inches.

The Base brings a seven speed manual transmission, with a normal six plus a crawler gear for serious off-road chops. A ten speed auto can also be specced.There is a two speed and three mode transfer case as well. Standard is a hard top for the two door and a soft roof on the four. A nifty feature is a upper dash mounting point for smart phones and action cameras.Big Bend gets a little extra luxury with a leather bound steering wheel cover, heated seats, and is the first of the range to offer alloy wheels. Black Diamond aims for the off-roader with marine grade vinyl trim, seven G.O.A.T. drive modes (Goes Over Any type of Terrain) and a standard rear locker diff plus underbody bash plates. Outer Banks has LED headlights and integrated turn lamps, black alloys, powder coated tube steps and a B&O sound system for when the noise of the outdoors isn’t enough.Badlands goes up a gear with front and rear locking diffs, Bilstein monotube dampers, disconnecting stabiliser bar, and a choice of 33 or 35 inch AT rubber. Trim can be easy clean vinyl through to full leather. Wildtrak offers a Sasquatch Package that includes 35 inch rubber and 17 inch diameter black painted alloys with a beadlock function. Black roofing and grille also feature. 3,500 First Editions will be released and combine the Badlands mechanicals, Outer Banks interior, and Wildtrak looks.

Production is currently slated for the Australian autumn of 2021 however it’s not yet set for an Australian release.

Take 5: BMW’s Mid Size Saloon Updated.

BMW have declared 2020 to be the year of reinvigoration. The German sports luxury car maker continues to roll out uipdates in 2020 and the latest is to the mid-sized sedan, the 5 Series. The range brings the seventh generation 5 Series to market with: 520i, 530i, 530d, 530e PHEV, M550i xDrive and M550i xDrive Pure. Included on all variants will be the M Sport package. There has been changes to the fuel pressure system on the petrol engines for the 520i and 530i. They’ll have a bump from 200 bar to 350 bar for better throttle response and fuel efficiency.

Pricing for the range starts from $95,900 for the 520i 2.0L TwinPower Turbo. There is 135kW and 290Nm on tap here for a 7.8 second 0 – 100kmh time. Head to the 530i with 185kW and 350Nm for 6.1 seconds and the price is $115,900. A PHEV joins the range at $118,900 with BMW’s Synchronous Electric Motor and 2.0L TwinTurbo and packs a 215kW and 420Nm punch. 0 – 100 time is 5.9 seconds.
A six cylinder diesel for the 530d sees power at 195kW and a thumping 620Nm of torque for $125,900. The run to 100 takes 5.7 seconds. Moving into the M550i xDrive Pure and it’s a 4.4L V8 TwinPower unit with 390kW and 750Nm. At $137,900 it’s take just 3.8 seconds to reach freeway speeds. For a little extra the M550i xDrive has the same performance but ups the luxury stakes for $152,900. It’s the flagship for the M Performance line and has the fully variable xDrive AWD system. All prices are Manufacturers List Price.

The PHEV has the electric engine integrated with the gearbox and the package can be switched between petrol, hybrid, or electric only for propulsion. When driven in petrol-only mode, the 530e produces 135kW and 300Nm, while the electric motor offers standalone outputs of 80kW and 265Nm. Battery range is around 67km. BMW adds an XtraBoost function. It bumps peak power to 215kW for up to ten seconds when “vigourous acceleration” is required. It’s a standard fitment and engages when the Driving Experience Control’s Sports mode is selected and the drive selector moves to M/S.
Standard trim in the 520i includes the M Sport package, with the exterior features such as 19 inch alloys and Adaptive LED headlights adding visual pull with Dakota Leather trim, Parking Assistant Plus, and Head Up Display are part of the interior features. The 530i adds a Harman Kardon 16 speaker hifi, front heated seats, and automatic tailgate. The M550i xDrive sees 20 inch alloys and M Performance tuning. handling and drive has the M Sport diff and Adaptive M Suspension Professional. A luxury touch is the soft close for the doors and a leather coated instrument panel. Forward vision is courtesy of BMW’s Laserlight system.

That’s available as an option on the BMW 520i, 530i, 530d and 530e, while the BMW M5 Competition donates the M Multifunctional Seats are optionable for all models. Visual spark for the 520i is available with high gloss red M Sport brakes, and a zero dollar option for the rest of the range. A different form of visual appeal can be optioned as well, with the Drive Recorder that uses the surround cameras to provide up to 40 seconds worth of video.
Bend the ear of your local BMW dealer for a test drive when the range is released.

BMW Updates And Hyundai Hydrogen Power.

BMW continue to roll out new or updated models at an astonishing rate in 2020. For the brand’s M Pure range, there will be another two models being added. Dubbed M135i xDrive Pure and M235i xDrive Pure, they’ll come with an extensive range of standard equipment and sharp pricing. The M135i xDrive Pure is priced at $63,990 and the M235i xDrive Pure at $67,990. This is a $5K savings in comparison to related models.

Power for both comes from BMW’s TwinPower Turbo four. 225kW and 450Nm spin an eight speed auto Sport Steptronic transmission that send grip to all four paws via the xDrive system with an LSD on the front axle. Steering column paddle shifts are standard. External style cues comes from the sharing of styling packages, wheels, and tyres.

BMW lists the M135i xDrive Pure with M Sport steering, 19 inch alloys in M spec Cerium Grey that wrap M Sport Brakes and blue calipers. Inside there is a BMW specification Head Up Display and the bespoke Driving Assistant package. There is Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Warning, Approach Control Warning with city-braking intervention, Rear Cross Traffic Warning, Rear Collision Prevention and Speed Limit Info. There is also their Comfort Access System that features Electric Seat Adjustment, driver’s side seat memory function with the seats in Trigon black and Alcantara, and dual zone climate control. On top of that is the M135i xDrive which adds a panoramic glass roof, adaptive LED front lights and “Dakota leather upholstery, plus a thumping Harman Kardo audio system. The value here is over $6K. The same packages apply to the M235i xDrive Pure and M235i xDrive.

The stable now consists of M135i xDrive Pure and M235i xDrive Pure, the M340i xDrive Pure M550i xDrive Pure, before migrating to X2 M35i Pure, X5 M50i Pure, and X6 M50i Pure.

The two new additions will be available in the coming months.

Hydrogen is being touted by Hyundai as the next thing in vehicle power sources and the Korean company has moved swiftyly into areas outside of passenger vehicles. In a global first, Hyundai have sent to Switzerland 10 units of their hydrogen powered machine called XCIENT. This commences a roll-out which will comprise 50 units to start with. A goal of 1,600 trucks are expected to be released by 2025. Due to the tax structures in Switzerland, Hyundai chose the country with one levy, the LSVA road tax on commercial vehicles which does not apply for zero-emission trucks, as a main consideration. That nearly equalises the hauling costs per kilometre of the fuel cell truck compared to a regular diesel truck. And thanks to the green energy costs from hydropower, it counts towards the eco performance of the country.The power system has a pair of 95kW hydrogen fuel cells. Just on 32 kilos of the fluid form are stored across seven super-strong storage tanks. Hyundai specifically developed the system for the truck with the current and expected infrastructure in Switzerland, and have engineered in a range of 400 kilometres. Refuel time minimises downtime with anywhere from 8 to 20 minutes. Hyundai says that this should work in with obtaining “the optimal balance between the specific requirements” of the customer base and that refuel infrastructure. In Cheol Lee, Executive Vice President and Head of Commercial Vehicle Division at Hyundai Motor, opines: “XCIENT Fuel Cell is a present-day reality, not as a mere future drawing board project. By putting this groundbreaking vehicle on the road now, Hyundai marks a significant milestone in the history of commercial vehicles and the development of hydrogen society.”

A key attraction of the hydrogen technology is how well, like diesel, that hydrogen is admirably suited to long distance driving and the quick turn-around times required in heavy haulage. Engineering can also build engines, such as they have here, to deal with expected terrain such as the road system in a mountainous country. To that end, Hyundai is developing a unit for a tractor with a mooted range of 1,000 kilometres with markets such as the United States and Europe in mind.

The origination of the program goes back to 2019 with a joint venture named Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility, a partnership between H2 Energy in Switzerland and Hyundai. The basis for the trucks being operated will work around a lease agreement with commercial operators and on a pay-per-use agreement. This helps budget requirements as there is no immediate up-front costs.

Depending on the results, with expected high success levels, the program may be expanded to other European countries.

Mazda Launches Their First Hybrids

Mazda Australia has recently provided details of their new Skyactiv-X M-Hybrid powertrain. It will be available in August with the Mazda3 (the 2020 World Design Car of the Year) and in the CX-30 from September, with that car also a finalist in the WCOTY. It will, for the moment, be available only in the top of the range Astina, dubbed X20, for each trim level. Pricing for the Mazda3 X20 Astina starts from $40,590 with it being available in both manual and auto, and the CX-30 X20 Astina starts from $46,490. Both are before dealer delivery and government charges at the time of writing.

SkyActiv hybrid 1

The powerplant is a continuation of Mazda’s search to improve power, torque, and fuel consumption. The new engine is the world’s first mass production unit that combines compression ignition like a diesel, the torque of a diesel, and the free revving ability of a petrol nature.

Mazda has developed a proprietary ignition system. It’s called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition, or SPCCI. The engine can fire via a compression or traditional spark ignition. This is how Mazda says it works: “In SPCCI mode, a split injection process creates separate zones of fuel-air mixture inside the combustion chamber. First, a very lean fuel to air mixture is injected into the combustion chamber during the intake stroke, then a zone of atomised fuel is precisely injected directly around the spark plug during the compression stroke. The small injection of atomised fuel directly around the spark plug builds a richer core. When the spark fires, it ignites this core of fuel and air. This increases pressure in the combustion chamber to the point where the lean mixture rapidly combusts.”

SkyActiv Hybrid 2

Vinesh Bhindi, the managing director of Mazda Australia is excited by the new engine. “With every customer’s circumstances being unique, we need to offer a variety of ways to reduce vehicle emissions to suit individual needs and lifestyles. Skyactiv-X offers customers a lower emission engine option, while retaining the same joy of driving that Mazda vehicles have always offered.”

Contact your local Mazda dealer for more details.

(Pictures courtesy of Mazda)

Maserati’s New Engine Finds The Right Formula.

Italian luxury sports car maker Maserati has declared its interest in rejoining motorsport. It’s done so in emphatic fashion by trickling details of the upcoming MC20 super-sportscar, and now the company has released details of the engine, called “Nettuno”, that will be the heartbeat of the machine.It’s got some real oomph; capacity is 3.0L, in a 90 degree twin-turbo V6 configuration. The dry-sumped design provides a peak power figure of 463kW and torque of 730Nm. 7,500rpm is where the power comes in whilst torque is at a very useable 3,000rpm. It’s close to a square-bore design too, with bore and stroke 88mm x 82mm. It will run a 11:1 compression ratio. Looking to Formula 1, Maserati have employed the use of a pre-chamber combustion system featuring twin-spark plugs. This will mark the first time this kind of technology will be provided for a road-going vehicle.Three features define the MC20’s engine. The pre-chamber is located between the “normal” combustion chamber and the electrode of the ignition system. A set of specially engineered holes connect the two sections. A traditional sparkplug is utilised as a backup to to the new ignition system, and is designed to make sure combustion is ongoing when load is such the pre-chamber’s services are not required. The final step is an innovative fuel injection system, with a direct and indirect system lowering consumption and emissions whilst ensuring fuel is appropriate across the rev range.

Lateral sparkplug: a traditional sparkplug acts as a support to ensure constant combustion when the engine is operating at a level that doesn’t need the pre-chamber to kick in. Twin injection system – direct and indirect: linked to the fuel supply pressure at 350bar, the system reduces noise low down on the rev range, lowering emissions and improving consumption.The MC20 itself will make its world debut proper in September and will showcase the work done at Maserati’s Modena HQ division There is the Maserati’s Modena facilities: the Maserati Innovation Lab on Via Emilia Ovest, the workshops on Via Delle Nazioni and developed at the Engine Hub, situated at the famous Viale Ciro Menotti address where it will be built. Currently the new production line and new paint shop are being modified to host the much-anticipated MC20. MC20 means Maserati Corse 2020.

Mercedes-Benz GLB Ready To Roll For Australia.

Mercedes-Benz has released to the Australian market the GLB. For the brand, it’s the first compact vehicle they manufacture to include a third row of seats. There’s enough space, by the way, for anyone up to 1.68 metres to suit the rear two seats. Conveniences such as a pair of drink holders, storage, and USB ports will be fitted, plus the seats will fold flush with the GLB’s cargo floor. These can be accessed by a 40:20:40 split fold centre row that moves by up to 140mm.

There will be three models available, the GLB 200, GLB 250, and GLB 45 Matic. Both the Mercedes-Benz GLB 200 and the GLB 250 4MATIC are available to order now. Deliveries are expect for July as a starting point. The manufacturer’s list prices are: GLB 200 from $59,900 (MRLP) and GLB 250 4MATIC from $73,900 (MRLP). The Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4 MATIC will be priced at $88,900 (MRLP) when it arrives in Australia later this year.The Mercedes-Benz GLB 200 sees 120kW and 250Nm from a direct injection turbocharged 1.3L four cylinder. A dual clutch automatic with seven ratios sends drive to the front wheels. The GLB 250 amps that with a 2.0L engine that produces 165kW and 350Nm. Transmission is the 8G-DCT eight-speed auto, and grip comes from the 4MATIC all wheel drive system.

AMG step in for the GLB 35 4MATIC and have waved their wand over the 2.0L petrol engine. 225 kW and 400 Nm power down via AMG’s SPEEDSHIFT DCT eight-speed auto with their Dynamic Select drive system. There will also be the AMG exhaust system, their bespoke braking system, plus their Sports suspension called Ride Control with electronically controlled damping. AMG’s power steering with speed sensitive adjustment is also on board.Mercedes-Benz have their highly regarded MBUX multimedia system as standard and the front seat occupants will be able to access infotainment via a pair of side by side 10.25 inch screens. Keyless entry, remote tailgate and engine start, the THERMOTRONIC climate control system, and “Comfort” seats will be standard. The door sills will be internally illuminated, and again convenience is standard thanks to satnav, smartapps including the Mercedes-Benz Me Control app and a charge pad, auto wipers, 19 inch alloys, and aluminuim roof rails. PARKTRONIC parking assist is backed up in the safety stakes with Blind Spot assist, Lane Keep Assist, and Traffic Sign Assist. Active Brake Assist with semi-autonomous braking is standard as are nine airbags.

The GLB 250 factors in a sunroof, powered memory front seats with heating, twin spoke 19 inch alloys and an adjustable suspension. Steering is aligned with the all wheel drive system with Sports Direct-Steer, and even a form of off-road suspension. Downhill Speed Regulation and the cornering lamps come into play as well, with the lights on each lower corner coming into play at speeds of up to 50kph. There are a few extra touches for the GLB 35 4MATIC, such as an AMG steering wheel with Nappa leather, Lugano leather on the seats, brushed stainless steel AMG foot pedals, and Carbon Structure interior trim. Outside is AMG’s Night Package trim, 20 inch diameter five spoke alloys, AMG body additions and dark tinted rear window glass.
The arrival of the GLB brings to six the number of models in the Mercedes-Benz compact car portfolio, which includes the A-Class hatch and sedan, B-Class, CLA Coupé and GLA compact SUV. Says Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Sales: “Every third Mercedes-Benz is now an SUV, every fourth a compact car. So a compact SUV such as the GLB blends all the success factors of our two highest-volume segments.”

Hot Hatch Heaven

Behind the thriving popularity of buying SUVs, there is a lesser but feistier group of people who love buying and driving a Hot Hatch.  They are a loyal group of drivers who love the raw speed and excitement that a Hot Hatch drive provides – along with a bit of practicality on the side mind you.  The mind-set of a Hot Hatcher is that ‘if my need is to own a hatchback, then let me get a hot one’.

Honda Civic Type R

In Australia one of the most popular Hot Hatch cars of recent times has been the super little Honda Civic Type R.  It has even been given a Performance Car of the Year award, while also making a great argument for itself as being one of the best ‘Bang For Your Bucks’ experiences you can buy on four wheels.  With 228 kW and 400 Nm the latest Type R Civic is very quick and makes short work of most of its rivals.  It constantly feels quicker than anything, except maybe an AMG or Audi RS equivalent, on a backroad or windy race track.  Boot space is also 420 litres, which is more than enough for most people’s shopping trip.

Renault Megane RS

Renault has sold plenty of new RS Megane Hot Hatchbacks, and at times more than the Type R.  The Renault Megane RS offers a range that includes the availability of both manual and automatic transmissions, along with two chassis options.  Good on road comfort, the power from the 205 kW/390 Nm 1.8-litre turbo four is strong, and with launch control it keeps running quick naught-to-naughty times.  Brembo brakes work marvellously to haul in crazy speeds, and the four-wheel steering has immense grip and control.  With all this performance you still get great practicality.

Hyundai i30N

More popular among Australian Hot Hatch buyers has been the potent and very well sorted Hyundai i30N.  You’ve got to love the i30N’s fun factor bolstered by the banging and popping exhaust notes!

Volkswagen Golf GTi

But, arguably, the most preferred Hot Hatch to buy, at least in Australia, has been the immensely satisfying VW Golf GTi.  The thing is just so quick, it’s engaging and easy to drive, and it also has a real luxurious feel to the quality interior.  For those that can afford it, the VW GTi still delivers a comprehensive package.

I could add that Peugeot has a GTi Hot Hatch, so too Ford in the form of its Focus ST and Subaru in its WRX, and the…..  But you might like to add your few cents to the conversation or even disagree with my overall jurisdiction on the matter.

However, if you are thinking about owning a new performance hot hatch in 2020, then the afore mentioned ones are a few of the best you can buy that are cheaper than a real quick Mercedes Benz A45 AMG, or Audi RS3.

Audi RS3

 

Mercedes Benz A45 AMG

An Abundance Of Energy: H2X Australia

Australia’s car manufacturing industry is dead. Long live the Australian car manufacturing industry.

But all is not yet lost…Hydrogen is seen as the potential next step in powering automobiles on Earth, and the technology has been around for decades, featuring strongly in the aerospace industries. Australian company H2X, based in Sydney, has been quietly working away since 2015 on using the most abundant element known, hydrogen, as the source material for automotive propulsion.The heart of a hydrogen powered vehicle is the fuel cell. Take hydrogen and oxygen, wave the magic wand, and electricity is made. The resulting leftover is water. Simple H2O. The efficiency of this process varies and comes in between 40 to 60 percent. Waste heat can be reused and brings efficiency to over 80%.

H2X are applying hydrogen fuel tech to vehicles that they hope to have up and running by the mid 2020s. A minivan, a tractor, and an SUV are amongst the range that the company has in mind. The firm recently turned the dirt at a location at Port Kembla, south of Sydney. It’s here that they currently intend to build the vehicles and also invest in battery and super-capacitors. However, in a reasonable effort to minimise extravagant start up costs, the firm will first use pre-assembled parts readily available from Asia, and a fuel cell from a company called ElringKlinger.A common issue with starting a new company is sourcing people with the required expertise. Here, H2X don’t appear to have a problem. Their CEO is a person that comes from hydrogen related businesses plus a solid automotive background with BMW, Audi, and Volkswagen. Heading the design bureau is the designer of the Giulietta, Chris Reitz. He’s also worked with VW and Nissan. Saab and GM have their DNA running in the veins of Peter Zienau as he worked on hybrid and electric programs with the pair. Opel, Lotus, Volvo, Aston Martin and Tesla have given Peter Thompson over thirty years of experience, including his involvement in the Tesla Roadster.There’s more power to come in the board, with Alan Marder, also with plenty of experience in startups dealing with hydrogen fuel cell and automotive industries spanning 35 years. He’ll head the marketing and strategy section, while the former head of the VW Group Asia, Kevin McCann, who also works with Hyundai, Volvo, and Deloitte, will be on the supervisory board.

Picking Port Kembla, says H2X, was a given, as it’s a focus for industries H2X will need as supports. Rail, metal manufacturing in the forms of steel and aluminuim, the size of the port to allow cargo ships, and electronics makers at a military spec level will go a long way to assisting the rumoured workforce of 5,000.They’ve already put forward what they hope will be the first vehicle to drive off the production line. The “Snowy” SUV, with a mooted range of 650km, a refuel time of around three minutes, and a freeway speed reaching time of 6.9 seconds, will be backed by a bio-safe interior, smartphone apps, and autonomous emergency braking. The powertrain is said to be a combination of a 60kW Elring Klinger PEM fuel cell, a graphene ultracapacitor from Skeleton Tech, a powerful 200kW electric motor, and a 5.0kg-capacity hexagon Type 4 hydrogen tank. A key feature that’s under the radar is a suspension system that will, like braking regenerative energy, apply the same process from suspension travel. The Snowy is on track for a 2022 unveiling.

2020 Mitsubishi ASX GSR: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Mitsubishi’s ASX with a nameplate that in Mitsubishi’s history has referred to a sporting oriented vehicle. GSR was found on their hi-po Lancers and they were a little less mental than the Evo class cars. However, in ASX trim, the sporting intention has been relegated to a lairy colour on the review car and a front wheel driven chassis with the traction control dialed back a little.

How Much Does It Cost?: $30,740 is the recommended retail price. $32,490 is the drive-away price as of June 2020.

On The Outside It’s: Been given blacked out highlights to complement the Sunshine Orange paintwork. 18 inch alloys with black paint, along with the grille, door mirrors, and a subtle rear deck lid spoiler are part of the GSR’s visual appeal. It’s a combination that suits the “shield grille” treatment as it brings a more assertive look to the small SUV. The painted alloys have Bridgestone Ecopia rubber, and they’re 225/55 in profile. An identifying GSR badge is on the tailgate, and it’s the only one that says GSR.On The Inside It’s: The mostly cleanly laid out look newer Mitsubishis have. “Microsuede/Synthetic Leather Seat Trim with Red Stitching” is the description for the pews and they’re a delight. Comfortable, supportive, warm and there’s no need for electric heating. Air-conditioning is via the simple and classy dial system that Mitsubishi has employed to great effect. They sit above a pair of USB ports and a 12V socket, and below the 8.0 inch DAB equipped touchscreen.The tailgate is manually operated, opening to a 393L cargo section that expands to 1,193L with the second row seats folded. A flat loading floor and low lip make loading up a brezze, and the pair of recesses either side help for items that need a little extra security.The angular slope of the ASX’s roof doesn’t compromise interior packaging either. 963mm head room is available for the rear seats, plus 921mm leg room. They’re good numbers considering 1,000mm head room for the front seats and 1,056mm leg room.Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.4L petrol engine. No diesel, no hybrid. 123kW and 222Nm haul 1,390kg (dry) via a CVT driving the front wheels only. Consumption is quoted as 7.9L/100km for the combined cycle. Mitsubishi’s info system provides a driving average, as in it’ll change on the go, but there is not separate overall figure. We saw a worst of over 9.0L/100km and a shortened range, to a best of 6.7L/100km and a range of over 400km to go from between a half and three quarter full gauge.On The Road It’s: The front wheel driven GSR has a throttle that is open to hard work. As such it also sets up the GSR for a little bit of spirit. The rubber is partly to blame, if you will, as even a moderate amount of throttle application chirps the tyres, easily spinning them and there’s no real intrusion of the engine control nanny either. There’s nothing from the rear end though, and it comes across as being nothing more than to prop up the cargo area.

The steering has some feedback, enough to let the driver know that the front end is lively, and even manages to isolate the fact that the ASX GSR is a front wheel drive vehicle. There’s little to no noticeable torque steer, the front can be hammered quite hard and for the most part the front will stick…in a straight line. Those tyres become a weak point as the GSR will push into understeer reasonably easily and on damp roads the rubber loses grip even more readily.

The CVT is one of the better ones going, and seems to harness the 222Nm more efficiently, even under heavy throttle. There isn’t a Sport shift though, a truly odd choice for a seemingly sports-oriented style car. Yes, there are paddle shifts but…well…no Sport shift. The drive selector itself is a bit painful, having a F shaped slot mechanism and it’s not entirely intuitive in moving the lever. It got caught far too often in Neutral due to the design of the slot, and there is a low range style selection that is picked up by sliding through D to L. This is where a manual change via the paddles seems to be more appropriate.Damping is better than the Outlander PHEV tested the week before; there’s more suspension give, less reliance on the Bridgestone rubber for smaller intrusions, and a little more body lean in cornering aiding grip where it can be. This also means that road holding is improved with less tendency to feel like the tyres may momentarily lose contact on certain surfaces.

What About Safety?: Loaded for bear, is what the ASX GSR has in the safety stakes. Forward Collision Mitigation system, with Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Assist and Blind Spot Warning. Then there is Rear Cross Traffic Alert, to finish off the main package. Auto headlights and wipers, the flashing emergency stop signalling, reverse camera and front & rear parking sensors, plus seven airbags round out the supplementary systems.

What About Warranty And Service?:
100,000 kilometres or five years, with capped price servicing details available.

At The End Of The Drive. The ASX is a competent vehicle regardless of which model you select. Versions such as this, the ASX GSR, manage to find a better level in areas such as handling and the CVT yet just miss the target by not making the gear selection a Sports style. Nor is there a console mounted Sport option.

In Sunshine Orange, along with the blackouts, it’s an eye catcher, and the paint really drinks in the sunlight giving it a true glow. It rolls along nicely, has enough squirt to please, and sells in very good numbers. Add a Sport mode that’s tweaked to suit the characteristics, and it’ll be even better. Check it out here.

Car Review: 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed PHEV.

This Car Review Is About: A vehicle from a mainstream car maker that provides a technology still all too rare. Hybrid tech of its own right is becoming widespread, however the plug-in part is still uncommon. The Outlander from Mitsubishi is an all too rare opportunity to sample an option in drivetrain tech that perhaps could become a little more common with time. In PHEV form it’s strictly a five seater too.

How Much Does It Cost?: The Outlander falls into the medium SUV category. There are three PHEV variants, being the ES and ES ADAS (higher trim levels) and the Exceed. This starts from $56,390 plus on-road costs. At the time of writing, a drive-away cost of $60,390 was advertised.Under The Bonnet Is: The opportunity to drive, theoretically, up to 54 kilometres on a battery only run thanks to a pair of electric motors, one front, one rear connected to a single speed transmission. Otherwise there is a 2.4L petrol engine that charges the battery, and backs up the electrical drive in uphill runs or when the battery is low on charge. There are two charge ports on the right rear quarter and a separate charge cable that plugs into the standard home plug outlet. When the PHEV was first released five years ago it came only with a 15A cable. Thankfully Mitsubishi listened. There is also an app that allows a driver to monitor charging progress and set charging times.The petrol engine produces 94kW and 199Nm, with the electric engine adding its own 60kW and 70kW via the front and rear mounted motors. Consumption is rated as 1.9L/100km and the tank size is 45L. Our overall figure finished on a creditable 5.8L/100km, and most of that was from charging on the go. The battery itself is of a Lithium-ion mix, with a 13.8kWh capacity, voltage of 300, and 80kW maximum output for the generator. Charging time (80%) on the DC fast charger is is 25 minutes, with seven hours on the cable for home charging.On The Inside It’s: Time for an update. We’ve reviewed three PHEVs and the Outlander platform is aging. Gracefully, yes, but aging. The ergonomics are no longer suitable and the look and feel is obviously older compared to its opposition. There’s been barely any changes since the last model and that’s minor tweaks to the centre console around the fore and aft drive selector, a rejig of the touchscreen and the way the seat material is laid over the frames.The dash is a slab, there are buttons hidden by the steering wheel including the Start/Stop and information button, and it’s all just a bit out of step with the competition. Faux grey coloured carbon-fibre is laid on the passenger side of the dash, the centre console and underneath the aircon controls. There is the usual assortment of cup and bottle holders, plus auto headlights and auto wipers.Cargo wise there is 463L of space, down slightly on the normal five seater. This is thanks to a slightly higher cargo deck that sits over the battery and houses a compartment for tyre goo in the case of a puncture, plus the plug-in charger cable and indicator box. The rear axle houses a motor also, and this contributes to the height as well. There is a 12V outlet for this area though and the rear door is powered.Five seats is what the Outlander PHEV packs, and they’re also in need of an update. This is more to the material used as padding, as there’s more a sense of sitting on, not in, the pews.
On The Outside It’s: Getting closer to the angular shape of siblings AS, Triton, and Pajero Sport. There’s still the rounded, slightly bulbous shape that’s wrapped Outlander for well over a half decade now, but the nose has the look of the rest of the team. One would expect that the next update will drop the ovoid look and bring it more into line with the others.

Wheels are high gloss alloys and of a 25 spoke design. Rubber is 225/55/18 and from the Toyo Proxes range. Access to the two charging ports is via a flap on the right rear quarter, with fuel on the left rear.On The Road It’s: A good mix of electric propulsion for, as it turned out in the real world, around 45 kilometres. The driver’s display has a graphic that shows the charge level of the battery and any regeneration charge being fed back in. It’s a push button start system and there’s a couple of faint clicks and whirrs as the system gets ready. A flick of the drive selector to the right and a fore or aft movement for Reverse of Drive, and that’s as complicated as it gets.Unless the right foot is super heavy or heading uphill, the PHEV is a purely electric vehicle. There’s virtually no noise from the drivetrain, but plenty from the rubber, even on smooth road surfaces. As the charge level drops and heads towards maybe 10%, the petrol engine kicks in and tops up charge ever so gently. On the fly a driver can press a console tab to charge or use a Save Battery mode which entails the petrol engine kicking in and out as required. The swap-in and swap-out is almost seamless, with bare hints of vibration and a dull background drone the indications of the change.

The steering is leaden, heavy, and as the drive indicators don’t show torque split, it feels as if it’s a heavily front wheel drive oriented machine. The suspension is also super tight, with most of the smaller road surface niggles absorbed by the tyre sidewalls, not the suspension. The brake is also numb, a curious sensation given the regenerative ability of the system itself.

Acceleration is somewhere between not bad and slightly leisurely. A dry weight, befoer passengers etc, of just under 1.9 tonnes would have that effect… Even when the petrol engine kicks in, it’s an easy-going, unhurried affair. The single speed transmission does a sterling job too, coping admirably with the demands of either or when it comes to switching between the two power sources.

What About Safety?: Ultrasonic misacceleration Mitigation System is standard in the Exceed, as are Blind Sport Warning, Lane Change Assist, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Adapative Cruise Control with a simple push button to adjust, and a 360 degree camera system are also standard. Seven is the count for airbags.

What About Warranty And Service? Warranty is five years and capped price servicing applies. Service intervals are 12 months or 15,000kms. Conditions and further details can be found here.

At The End Of The Drive. Mitsubishi deserve accolades for their PHEV push. Hyundai have the Ioniq, itself an attractive proposition with electric, hybrid, and PHEV, variants Toyota doesn’t offer a PHEV. And with a real and usable range of around 40km, the Outlander PHEV is absolutely ideal for city running, and with the occasional dip into the petrol tank by using the engine to charge on the go, an easy 60+ , more than enough for most users, it’s perfect. But expect that on any other route consumption will increase.

There are other areas of mild “concern” too. The steering has no life, the dash is really showing its age, and the exterior is now the only member of the current Mitsubishi that lacks the truly hard edged “shield grille” design. And at $60K, buyers will look towards newer and competitively priced products, irrespective of fuel savings.

Outlander PHEV details are here.

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