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Makes and Models

The Electric Cat Wins EV Award

Infrastructure is expanding, understanding of the technology is increasing, and more brands are getting into the electric car field. Once renowned for sports cars and luxury cars, Jaguar is one of those companies. Their new i-Pace has recently been named Top Gear Magazine’s Electric Vehicle of the year, with the car racking up 19 awards in 2018.

It’s powered by a pair of bespoke electric engines that develop 400 horsepower and 696Nm of torque. 0-100 time is 4.5 seconds thanks to its all wheel drive and lightweight architecture. Getting the car underway with a drained battery takes just 40 minutes to an 80% charge level at a charging station, or, like virtually all buyers would do, a home charger will do that overnight. Expected range is 470 kilometres, enough to travel from Sydney to Canberra comfortably and take advantage of the charging stations there.

Available in Australia from $119,000 plus on roads, the i-Pace will also have the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, capable of over-the-air software updates, and uses artificial intelligence to adapt to a driver’s personal preferences, ensuring driving and infotainment settings are matched to each individual using the car.

The legendary Ian Callum, Jaguar’s Director of Design, said: “We’re delighted to see the I-PACE named EV of the Year by BBC TopGear Magazine.

“As our first all-electric Jaguar we set out with a goal to make the I-PACE the world’s most desirable electric vehicle and recognition like this clearly shows that we are achieving it.”

Contact Jaguar for more details here.

 

Car Review: 2019 Peugeot 3008 Allure.

Peugeot’s 2018 3008, an award winning vehicle, is a second generation, extensively reworked version of the 3008 and facelifts released originally in 2008, with the second generation from 2016. We test the 2019 spec Peugeot 3008 Allure, priced at just under $41K plus on road costs.Power is supplied by a torquey 1.6L petrol engine, with 1400 revs seeing 240Nm being available thanks to a low pressure turbo. With 6000 rpm on the tacho, peak power is 121kW. Transmission is a six speed DCT. Peugeot quotes combined fuel economy as 7.0 & 7.3L per 100 kilometres, with city cycle driving as 9.8L & 10.1L per 100 kilometres. The two figures are quoted due to the Grip Control being off or on. Grip Control is a choice of drive modes for differing surfaces, and activated via a dial in the forward centre console.The actual driving experience varies from slightly frustrating to a lot of fun. Frustrating because of the delay in engagement from park to reverse to Drive, to grin inducing pull from low revs as the 3008 Allure sets sail. The changes are crisp, swift, smooth, in hte transmission when under way and manually changing does sharpen them further.

The Allure is a stylish machine, with the underpinnings a new platform called EMP2 that allows a superb ride and handling package. Steering, for example, is razor sharp in its responsiveness off centre, with a quarter turn or so having the nose swing round quickly. At speed the variable ratio steering lightens up and there’s less effort required to work.The ride on the 18 inch alloys, with 225/55 Continentals as the rubber, is beautifully tuned and balanced. There’s a suppleness that’s rare to find in anything other than mid to high end luxury cars, with an initial give that is followed by a progressive compression that stops before the bump-stops in all but the heaviest push over larger speed-bumps.

Out on the freeway it’s absorbent to a fault, dialling out irregularities and undulations as easily as it rides over the unsettled gravel and broken surfaces. It’s beyond superb and in its class a genuine leader. The passengers feel minimal movement and what there is comes through smoothly and calmly. Weighing in at just under 1400kg before fuel and cargo, the relatively lightweight 3008 moves easily from lane to lane when required, and does so without noticeable body roll.

The Peugeot 3008 range is front wheel drive biased, and for the most part isn’t noticeable as such. It’s really only, and typical of front wheel drive cars, when the loud pedal is punched hard that something resembling torque steer is noticeable.

Peugeot, being a French brand, isn’t adverse to a mix of style and quirks, with the latter good and not so. Certainly it’s stylish. The boxy design has enough lines, brightwork, and additions to the exterior to move it away from similarly styled machines. Although just the second level in the 3008 range, it comes with a powered tail gate and kick-activation. Inside it had a smartphone wireless charger. Gear selection is via a pilot style lever, with a button on the right to unlock and rock back and forth for Drive, Reverse, Neutral. Park is a simple push on the top, and Sports mode enables manual changing via the selector or paddles.It also features the i-Cockpit, a full colour 12.3 inch LCD screen housed in a binnacle above the sightline of the top of the steering wheel. It’s clear and easy on the eye, will change colour at the turn of the drive mode switch, but either the top or bottom of the screen gets blanked by the tiller. At odds with the charger pad and powered tail gate is no power for the cloth and leather seats. As comfortable pews as they are, to offer the two others but not electric seats is a strange decision. Another oddity is locating the bonnet opener in the left hand door’s forward meeting point, directly under the hinges. Bearing in mind a left hand drive market, hiding it away when the door is closed is one thing, elegance in design is another.

Ergonomics are otherwise very good, with controls for the aircon and radio (including DAB) found via plastic vertically oriented switches that act as starting points for the very well equipped touchscreen. The cockpit itself is defineably a setup oriented towards a driver and passenger separation, with the centre console gently rising and curling towards the right hand seat under the centre air-vents and eight inch touchscreen.The materials themselves, a mix of soft plastics and an almost light denim style material, on the console and dash are pleasant to look at and feel. A lovely extra touch is the soft glow of ambient lighting in the cabin, the centre console cup holders, around the binnacle, and in the doors. Sound and apps wise, the DAB audio punches well, and screen mirroring along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard.The exterior is sweetly shaped, especially for a relative smallish 4447mm length. The nose is a very bluff and upright chrome affair that sits over a broad horizontal set of four intakes and a alloy look chin. Intense LED driving lights eyebrow the normal headlights, with a signature “fin” motif in the design of the cluster.Our test car came clad in the lustrous metallic red paint with black roof, called Metallic Copper and Neon Black, highlighted by chrome strips. Tail lights are the familiar Peugeot claw. The lower extremities are black polycarbonate and the rear bumper gets a chrome strip running full width. As stated, a stylish package.

Finally, the Allure wraps up the good looks and lovely ride with a decent set of safety aids. Airbags all round, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Detection, Adaptive Cruise Control…not all of which are standard but can be optioned on the Allure.

Peugeot look after the 3008 with a five year warranty, a 12 year corrosion warranty, and a 24/7 roadside assistance package.

At The End of The Drive.
The Peugeot 3008 range is an award winner for the right reasons. It’s a superb handler, a very good drive, adds features at a good price, and brings the typical Gallic quirks. It’s roomy enough for four with no problems, has a good level of standard kit, is frugal enough in the real world and….well, it just does what it does at a high level all round. Check the 2019 Peugeot 3008 Allure out here.

The Right Car For Your Dog Part 2

OK, in my previous post on this topic, I covered the legal stuff to do with taking dogs in cars.  Now we get to the fun bit: what sort of vehicle suits your furry friend.  Or friends, as the case may be.

When I first started thinking about matching dogs to cars, I just about wrote sedans (saloons) off from the start.  After all, you don’t really want a dog on the back seat standing up where it can snuffle down the back of your neck while you’re driving.  Nor do you want to have scratchy doggy paws on lovely Nappa leather seats, because that would wreck them (the seat upholstery, I mean, not the paws!).  However, I remember taking the Staffordshire Bull Terrier we used to have (RIP, old fellow!) in a sedan without any trouble.  He was quite happy curling up in the footwell for most trips and didn’t try to sit on people’s laps (unlike the current bitzer).  During longer trips, we also put him in one of those doggy carrying crates that sat nicely between my two children in the back seat of the sedan we had back then (probably a Ford Fairmont), which had the added advantage of stopping them hitting each other during long trips.  What’s more, if you do have a sedan with leather seats in your possession already when you acquire a new puppy, there’s no need to sell the car – you can put down a nice blanket or doggy bed for Fido to occupy during the trip.

If you do decide that a sedan is the best for you, then I really do recommend one of those doggy carrying crates.  They do stop your dog deciding to stretch his or her legs by bouncing all around the place inside the cabin on a long journey, and you can fit a snack for your dog in there.  They’re also easier to clean in the case of little accidents – meaning accidents of the canine kind, not car accidents.

It’s obvious where the dog will ride if you have a hatchback, station wagon, 4×4 or ute. But it’s not quite as simple as that.  There is a certain style that one has to consider and it’s nice if you can find a harmonious match between the dog(s) and the vehicle.  You don’t see poodles or Chihuahuas standing on the deck of a ute (safely leashed, of course), bouncing up and down and yapping squeaky yaps at everybody going past.  Jack Russell terriers and fox terriers maybe.  But not poodles or Chihuahuas – or anything else small and fluffy (e.g. Bichons) or super-glamorous (Afghan hounds). The sort of dog that looks right on the back of a Toyota Hilux  or a Nissan Navara  is something rugged and tough and suggestive of the great outdoors – a farm dog (which aren’t an official Kennel Club breed but we all know what they look like) or a Dobermann or even a Labrador.  Conversely, although a Great Dane might fit in the back of a little hatchback – if the back seats are folded flat – this is going to be just too much dog in one car.  Besides, where are you going to put any passengers or your shopping where they won’t get slobbered on?

To give you an idea of how this works, here’s a list of the 10 most popular breeds in Australia (2017 statistics – the figures aren’t out for 2018 yet) matched the most appropriate general vehicle type:

Labrador Retriever:  Your Labs are medium-large dogs and although they can fit in the back of a hatchback or across the back seat, they look best in something larger.  It’s a cliché, but the suburban family SUV or MPV is a good match for the suburban family pooch.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier: A smaller dog that fits cosily into the back of even a 3-door hatch but doesn’t look weird tied on the deck of a ute, so a Staffie suits all vehicle types. However, as a short-coated dog that’s a big softy in spite of the tough looks, a Staffie would prefer to be inside the vehicle on a rainy day.  A hatchback suits a Staffie just fine.

French Bulldog:  Compact, French and a little bit quirky.  I have just described one of the smaller Peugeots but it applies to the dog as well.  A match made in… France.

German Shepherd: A big tough dog that is probably just about smart enough to drive the car.  Something with lots of space would do the job – maybe a nice long station wagon or a 4×4.  Put a German Shepherd in the back of a white Commodore or Falcon and you might get mistaken for a K-9 cop.

Border Collie:  Working collies go on the back of grubby farm utes.  Show-type border collies are better suited to something classy with a hint of the outdoors – say, a Range Rover.

Golden Retriever: See Labrador.  However, as this has longer hair, best to keep it out of the back seat of the MPV or any humans who later ride in these seats will be forever trying to get the dog hairs out of their clothes.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Another breed that looks loopy on the back of a ute and is so small that it will get lost in the interior of a big 4×4.  They love to snuggle up, so if the little hatchback is too small for you, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (big name for little dog) will be happy in a basket in a sedan.

American Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Amstaff): Like the regular Staffie but bigger, like all things American.  A muscle dog like the Amstaff looks best in a muscle car like your HSV or FPV.

Miniature Schnauzer:  A toy dog with a bit more fizz to it than a Cavalier etc., so not the sedan this time.  Go for the hatchback of any type or the station wagon.

Rottweiler: Go big.  This breed can cause serious damage to a little hatchback if it decides to jump onto the bonnet.  A station wagon at the very least; a 4×4 is even better but your Rotty will settle for an SUV.  Rotties were originally bred for pulling carts as well as herding cattle, so make sure your SUV has enough towing power that it can pull more than the dog.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Suzuki Swift GL Navigator

Good things come in small packages is a phrase that’s been around forever, it seems. And never more was it an apt phrase for a car than it is for the Suzuki Swift. It’s under four metres in length, has a driveaway price of $16990, has just five gears in a manual transmission, a 1.2L engine, and 66kW. And it’s a helluva fun car to punt around. We test the 2019 Suzuki Swift GL Navigator.The range has been rationalised somewhat, with the Swift GL dropped and the once middle of the range Navigator now the entry level. Above that sits the Navigator with optional safety pack, GLX, and Swift Sport

The car reviewed has a five speed manual and it takes a bit of getting used to. Not because it’s a manual but because there is almost no spring pressure on the gate’s mechanism. It’s limp, weak, and almost void of any real feel through the changes. That’s matched by a clutch pedal feel of pretty much the same. There’s no weight (just like the car at 870kg dry), no real pressure required to push it down.But once both are recognised for their foibles, they mesh quite well, and it really only took an hour or so to get the hang of how and where to utilise the pair in their movements. They also work well with the small engine. The 1.2L DualJet engine has just 120 torques and that comes at 4400 rpm. Simply put, it means that a bit of gear rowing is required, as is a bit of patience in regards to forward motion. The upside is economy, and Suzuki quotes around 4.5L/100km for the combined cycle. It needs to be economical as the fuel thimble holds just 37 litres. On our test the car, literally brand new at 11 kilometres on pick up, covered 300 kilometres on a half tank.Acceleration is leisurely, at best, however once the engine reaches 3000rpm the characteristics change noticeably. There’s a change of note, urge, as it is, increases, and it feels as if it spins just a bit easier. The five speed sometimes feels as if an extra gear would be handy however considering fifth sees around 2000rpm at highway speeds, it wouldn’t have the required torque to take advantage of it.On coarse chip roads the lack of sound insulation isn’t just noticeable, it’s painful. The constant drone, and drumming, from the 185/55/16 rubber transmitted to the cabin via the MacPherson struts and torsion beam suspension, would drown out normal levels of conversation and radio, AM/FM only by the way. On the smoother blacktops it was naturally quieter and also ramped up the fun factor in the drive. The comparatively big wheelbase, 2450mm, inside the tiny body length, 3840mm, means the Swift is very chuckable in corners, with an almost point and shoot handling style. The short travel suspension did mean some bumps crashed through, but the overall result is grin inducing…in the right hands.The Swift itself underwent a mild transformation externally over a year ago, with a look more akin to the Baleno thanks to pumped out tail lights and reshaped headlights. the fun factor is shown by the front end having a “smile” thanks to the horizontal lower grille and upturned corners. These house LED driving lights and bracket a wide hexagonal grille.Inside it’s basic, but functional. The dash’s upper section has the Euro inspired sweep from the curve of the windscreen through to the doors, and that’s mirrored in a curve closer to the binnacle that houses a simple pair of dials and a relatively underused monochrome info screen. It shows trip and fuel consumption, and that’s it. The touchscreen is simple to use, uncomplicated in its usage, and sits above traditional dial and slide aircon controls. The audio system is moderate in quality but does have Auxiliary/USB, Bluetooth and voice control, plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Safety levels in the standard Navigator GL are fine. Six airbags, standard passive driving aids, and cruise control, are a good starting point, with the Navigator and Safety Pack version adding Adaptive Cruise Control. Reverse Camera is standard across the range but the Navigator does not come with parking sensors.Naturally the seats are manually operated, and are comfortable enough for the price point of the Swift Navigator GL. Rear leg room is fine for near-teens but not recommended for people of six feet in height, for example. Cargo room is adequate, with a maximum of 556L with the rear sears folded. On its own, the cargo will hold almost all of a standard family weekly shop.

At The End Of the Drive.
As has been mentioned in our previous reviews, the Suzuki Swift is an ideal car for those getting a start in learning to drive. The basics are all in place, the safety factor is good enough to start with, and the softish clutch & shifter won’t scare a new driver. And at just on $17K it’s a good price. Above all, once the car is understood, it really is a fun machine to roll around town in. More details on the 2019 Suzuki Swift GL Navigator can be found here.

Isn’t It Ioniq, Asks Hyundai?

Korea‘s Hyundai has released details of their new-to-market hybrid Ioniq. A three drive mode choice of purely electric, battery and petrol engine, and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) offer versatility in a shapely four door coupe’ style.

In the technology stakes, the car’s lithium-ion polymer bettery will charge from zero to eighty percent in around 25 minutes, with the drive range of up to 230 kilometres being available. The Ioniq Hybrid offers up to 63 kilometres on battery with the 1.6L Atkinson cycle petrol engine and six speed dual clutch auto extending that range. With the petrol engine there is peak power of 77kW, peak torque of 147Nm, and combines with the electric engine’s 32 kW / 170 Nm in the hybrid and 44.5 kW / 170Nm for the PHEV. The purely electric Ioniq develops 88kW and is rated at 295Nm.

Expected fuel economy is quoted as 3.4L to 3.9L per 100km for the hybrid and 1.1L/100km for the PHEV. The Ioniq Electric receives a charging system capable of 100kW via DC or direct current. Inside the Ioniq hybrid is a 8.9kWh battery for the expected 60 kilometres or so range, which of course depends on driving attitude and conditions. Hyundai has joined forces with JET Charge for installations of charging portals and can be sourced though the dealership network.

The Ioniqs have the proven McPherson strut front, with the Electric on a torsion beam rear suspension. The hybrid and PHEV will be on the multi-link rear. IONIQ Hybrid Elite features aerodynamic wheel covers on 15-inch alloy wheels and other variants feature a range of distinctive aerodynamic alloy wheel designs in 16- and 17-inch.Each of the three engine options can be specified in either the Elite or Premium trim levels. Any version asked for will have Hyundai’s SmartSense safety package on board as standard. The Elite Hybrid version has the IONIQ occupants protected by Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with pedestrian detection, Blind-Spot Collision Warning and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning systems. Rear view camera and park assist is also standard.

There will be Driver Attention Warning, and Lane Keeping Assist systems fitted also. A Smart Cruise Control system completes the Hyundai SmartSense suite in every version and in IONIQ Electric this is complemented by a Stop & Go function. For the occupants enjoyment there is an eight inch touchscreen, eight speaker sound system from Infinity, SUNA satnav with ten year update allowance, Apple CarPlay and Siri voice control. Android Auto and DAB is also fitted.The Ioniq Electric has a single gear reduction driveline and, as a result, a flat floor for extra space. Regenerative braking energy recovery is standard, and can be regulated via steering column paddles. Hyundai’s standard three drive mode choices, Normal, Eco, and Sport, are standard.

Charging wise, the Ioniq Electric comes standard with a ICCB, In-Cable Control Box, and for fast charging a commercially available charging 100kW box has eighty percent in 23 minutes or the 50kW box in 30 minutes. A 6.6kW on-board AC charger can charge the high-voltage battery in around four and a half hours when connected to a charging station of equal or higher capacity. With the installation of a personal charging station, this will allow a full overnight charge at home.

Helping with the economy figures are the lightweight body construction and adhesives. The Advanced High-Strength Steel (AHSS) is 53.5 percent of the body. Aluminuim components such as the bonnet and tailgate save 12 kilograms with the front cross-beam, front lower arms, front knuckles, rear hub carriers, and front brake calipers also in aluminuim. Exterior dimensions are 4470 mm, 1820mm, and 1450mm (L, W, H) with a wheelbase of 2700mm. Ground clearance is 150mm. Head room is good with the Elite having front room of 994mm and the Premium with 970mm. Rear headroom is 950mm. Leg room is also decent with 1073mm for the front, 906mm at the rear. There is plenty of shoulder room with a handy 1425mm and 1396mm front and rear. Hip room is a crucial factor, and there is 1366mm & 1344 mm front and rear.

Cargo area is rated as Hybrid: 456 L, Plug-in: 341 L, Electric: 350 L to the top of the rear seats, and to the roof,
Hybrid: 563 L, Plug-in: 446 L, Electric: 455 L.Five paint colours are available across the IONIQ range – Polar White, Platinum Silver and Intense Blue Metallic, and Iron Grey and Fiery Red Mica, at a $495 cost.
The Hybrid and six speed DCT is $33,990 and $38,990, with the PHEV at $40,990 and $45,490. The Electric is $44,990 and $48,990. Prices are exclusive of dealer and government charges.

Contact your local Hyundai dealer and Private Fleet for availability on the 2019 Hyundai Ioniq.

Range Rover Evoques Emotion.

Jaguar Land Rover have released details of the forthcoming Range Rover Evoque. It will feature some groundbreaking technology including a world first that was first showcased in 2014.Called ClearSight Ground View, cameras in the front grille and on the door mirrors project a feed onto the touchscreen to show what is ahead of and underneath the front of the vehicle with a virtual 180-degree view.  An added extra to the new Evoque is also visual, with the smart rear view mirror changing to a HD screen at the touch of a button. A rear mounted camera offers a 50 degree field of vision and assists in low vision situations.Outside, the Evoque has been given a makeover, with subtle reshaping of the sheetmetal, new slimline LED headlights, new slimline rear lights, and recessed door handles. The glasshouse is slimmer yet not compromising when it comes to all-round vision. The revamped exterior has a match inside, with upgraded trim and redesigned dash for better ergonomics. The twin touchscreen and capacitive switches of the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system are the focal point of the interior environment. Wireless of over-the-air software updates will ensure Evoque is always at the forefront of technology for the driving systems.There is a new wheelbase for the Evoque to roll on. That’s yielded extra legroom and a small but usable increase in centre console storage space. The redesign has created extra luggage space, now up to 591L, with a wider entrance allowing easier loading and removal of cargo. Drop the rear seats and cargo goes up to 1383L. Foot room has also been improved, thanks to revised seat mount positioning.The chassis has been engineered to accept a hybrid drive. A 48-volt mild-hybrid available at launch and a plug-in hybrid model offered around 12 months afterwards. The mild hybrid works on energy recovery and kicks in when the car is accelerating. This powertrain will be available with the new Ingenium diesels and the 221kW/400Nm petrol four. A PHEV or Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle is currently slated for late 2019.

Being part of the Range Rover family means off roading is a natural. Wading depth is up to 600mm and with Terrain Response 2, the all wheel drive system will automatically sense the surface the Evoque is driving on and adapt automatically. Massive 21 inch wheels will provide a huge footprint.This smart theme continues with Smart Settings; it’s a learning system, effectively a butler wearing an AI suit. Items such as the driving position,  music choices, and climate control settings. Even seat massage settings will be learned by the Smart Settings as will the position of the steering column.

The release date for the Australian market is yet to be confirmed.

 

Ford Focuses More By Getting Active.

Ford’s Focus continues to expand and impress with the release of the 2019 Ford Focus Active. To be priced from $29,990 plus ORC, and built on Ford’s new C2 architecture, the Focus Active is a dedicated attempt at a smaller SUV with the ability to so some soft-roading. Think Subaru’s XV and you’d be close to the mark. The new body design provides an extra 20% torsional rigidity and individual suspension points have an extra 50% stiffness.

It will be powered by a 1.5L EcoBoost engine with 134kW & 240Nm of torque. The transmission is an eight speed auto, to be available through a five trim level range of four hatches and one wagon. Economy is quoted as 6.4L/100 kilometres for the combined cycle. A new two mode drive system is fitted, with a choice of Slippery and Trail. The former is for ice and snow, the latter for dirt and sand.Options are premium paint at $650, Driver Assistance Pack at $1250 which has items such as Adaptive Cruise Control and Blind Spot Information System, Head Up Display at $300, and a Panoramic Roof at $2000. Active Park Assist and Design Pack are $1000 and $1800 respectively.Outside, the Ford Focus Active has an extra 34mm of ground clearance, 17 inch alloys, front and rear skid plates, and a bespoke front bumper with adaptive cornering LEDs. A stylish honeycomb grille, LED Daytime Running Lights, an Active specific rear and twin pipes round out the look. The Design Pack bumps the alloys to 18 inches, and adds Adaptive headlights with LEDs, and privacy glass.

Standard equipment covers keyless start/stop, SYNC3 with emergency assist, six airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounts, plus Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection. Forward Collision Warning, Dynamic Brake Support, and Euro style Emergency Brake Flashing back up the safety package, as are Lane Keeping Aid and Lane Departure Warning.Optionable are Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go technology, Blind Spot Information System and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Active Braking.

Kay Hart, President and CEO of Ford Australia and New Zealand, says: ” The German sourced Focus range now offers new variants including the ST-Line Hatch, ST-Line wagon, and Active hatch, all designed to offer greater versatility and adaptability.”

The 2019 Ford Focus Active hatch is due for an as yet unspecified 2019 release date and blends into the existing range with the Ford Focus Trend hatch ($25,990 + ORC), Ford Focus ST-Line hatch ($28,990 + ORC), Ford Focus ST-Line Wagon ($30,990 + ORC), and the Ford Focus Titanium hatch ($34,990 + ORC).

 

 

BMW Reveals New Models And Updates.

BMW’s popular X1 sports Activity Vehicle and X2 Sports Activity Coupe have received value added updates for the 2019 model year. Apple CarPlay has been added across all models in the X1 range, along with Navigation Plus and Head Up Display. An 8.8 inch touchscreen allows access to an app look interface, plus there is a voice interface called Natural Voice recognition. The X2 range also receives the Head Up Display and the Navigation System Plus. As with the X1, the X2 gets the Apple CarPlay interface as standard across all trim levels. To visually identify the entry level X2, 19 inch diameter wheels, up from 18s, are fitted.Like any company that does an update in such a broad reach, pencils have been sharpened too. The entry level BMW X1 sDrive18i is $45,900 plus on-roads (price includes GST and where applicable the LCT). The rest of the range is BMW X1 sDrive18d $49,900, BMW X1 sDrive20i $50,900, and BMW X1 xDrive25i $60,900. The X2 also gets the calculator waved over the top. The three trim level range now looks like this: BMW X2 sDrive18i $46,900 (includes GST and LCT where applicable plus on-roads), BMW X2 sDrive20i $55,900, and BMW X2 xDrive20d $59,900.The new M2 and M5 Competition models have also been released. The M2 has the grunty straight six from the M3 and M4. The twin turbo powerplant develops 550Nm between 2350rpm and 5200rpm, meaning throttle response is almost instant and brings great driveability. The peak power of 305kW comes in straight after that and runs until 7000rpm. The soundtrack is backed up by a twin exhaust system and electronic flap control. The whole package sees the M2 reach highway speeds in 4.2 or 4.4 seconds, depending on the M-DCT or six speed manual transmission chosen. Top speed is controlled to 250km/h, or 280km/h if the M Driver’s package is added. The price to pay for this is reasonable, with consumption rated at around 9.0L/100km on the combined cycle.

If the M-DCT is optioned in the M2, switches on the centre console provide control of drive characteristics for the engine, steering, and BMW’s Drivelogic functions. Personalisation is the key, allowing the driver to save customised settings.

Outside there are additional body stylings to identify the M2 and M4, with an improved cooling system receiving better airflow from a bigger BMW grille and redesigned front skirt. New double armed wing mirrors are fitted and stopping power is increased with 400mm six pot, and 380mm four pot, discs, front and rear. Fettling of the suspension takes parts from the M3 and M4, with front rigidity and steering precision improved.The Dual Clutch Transmission is an option. In Drivelogic there are three drive modes: Comfort, Sport, and Sport+, with manual mode giving the driver full control over changes. In automatic mode the driver can change the gearshift timing, the intensity of the change, and even the blipping on the downshifts. BMW also adds Connected Drive, which brings in optional driver assistance systems such as the Driver Assistant. Lane Departure Warning and Collison warning are just two of the supplementary services available. Check with BMW Australia for further details.

BabyDrive: Everything You Wanted To Know About Kids In Cars In One Handy Place

If you’re about to become a parent for the first time – or if you’re revisiting parenthood after a long break (it happens) – then you might be wondering what sort of car is right for your new family.  It’s not a stupid question.  Once upon a time, it might have been all right to sling the carry cot across the back seat and make the older siblings share a seatbelt and/or ride in the boot, but you’d get in major trouble if you tried that today.  They’re serious about car seats for children these days and the law says that children under the age of seven can’t wear an adult seatbelt – and even then, this depends on their size and height and some children may need a booster seat until they’re 12 or so.  (As an aside, I’m kind of glad that they didn’t specify a particular height or weight for using a booster seat – some petite adult women, such as my 18-year-old daughter, may not meet these and who wants to sit their license while sitting in a booster seat?).

Anyway, if you’re a parent-to-be, you mind may be buzzing with questions about what sort of car you need to get.  And if it isn’t, it should be!  A lot of first-time parents fall into the trap of putting a lot of thought and care into the birth plan and how they want the birth of their new baby to go.  While this is all very well, what they don’t tell you (and what I wish I had known all those years ago) is that labour and birth only last (at most) one day.  All the other bits about parenthood and life with a small child go on for months – years!  So if you haven’t started thinking about what sort of car you need as a new parent, it’s time to give it some thought.

There are a lot of things to consider and it’s easy to make a mistake.  Let’s just say that there’s a possibility that you may have to put that little sporty roadster on hold for a bit and buy something more family-friendly.  Been there, done that.  We said goodbye to our old Morris (which would be an absolute classic and worth a mint today if we’d hung onto it) because the pushchair wouldn’t fit in the boot and got a Toyota sedan – which was then traded in when Child #2 came along because there was no way that anybody could sit in the front seat when there were two car seats in the back – and no room between said seats either!  I’ve been watching my brother and his wife start to go through the same series of problems.

Imagine that you could find someone who could give you all the advice you need – kind of like a motor-savvy big sister who can answer all those very practical questions even better than we can here at Private Fleet (although we try our best!).  For example, if you’re expecting Child #3 and the eldest is still of an age to need a booster seat, or if you’ve got twins or triplets on the way, are there any cars out there that can fit three car seats across the back?  Which cars provide enough leg room in the rear seats so that bored toddlers don’t try whiling away the time stuck in traffic kicking the driver in the kidneys?  How do you know if the stroller will fit in the boot?

Well, this sort of big sisterly advice is exactly what you’ll get from a great new site that’s linked with Private Fleet called BabyDrive (yes, this is a shameless plug for the site but no, I did not write it, although I wish I had, and I wish Tace the reviewer lived a bit closer than Queensland because she’d probably be my new BFF).  This is a great site that has all the answers you need to do with choosing a new vehicle that will suit your new family – yes, it even tells you which vehicles can fit five car seats comfortably and which MPVs have the easiest access to the third row of seats.  It’s the sort of thing I wish that I had on hand when I was a new parent – and I’d certainly recommend it to any parent-to-be looking for a new family vehicle.  Like we do, BabyDrive reviews vehicles, but unlike us, they do it all from a parenting perspective.  You won’t find the hot little roadsters reviewed here and the car reviews don’t cover torque or fuel economy stats much.  However, each car is rated for driver comfort (you’ve got to love a review that tells you whether the headrest position works well with the typical ponytail hairstyle adopted by mums on the go!), carseat capacity, storage, safety and noise.  The reviews include some descriptions of driving as a new mother that will give you a rueful chuckle or two – even if you, like me, have your baby days well behind you.  It’s the sort of review that we couldn’t do here on Private Fleet unless I kidnapped my baby nephew.  We’ll tell you the other bits and pieces – as well as helping you score a great deal on pricing (another thing that’s appreciated by not just new parents!).  The reviews feature a video segment as well as a written review – great for those who are more visually oriented.

The noise review is particularly useful, especially given the tendency these days for cars to produce all kinds of beeps as warnings.  If you don’t know about the old parenting trick of going for a wee drive to help soothe a fretful child off to sleep, you know it now!  However, all the good soothing work of a nicely purring motor and the gentle motion of a car on the go can be undone by some wretched lane departure warning shrieking or a parking sensor bleeping, waking your baby up just as you get home.

And yes, you will find some hatchbacks reviewed on BabyDrive!  Of course, the big SUVs, MPVs and 4x4s feature heavily (and, as an extra piece of advice from a more experienced parent, these will stand you in good stead once your kids hit the school and teen years, and you have to take your turn doing the carpool run, or if you are ferrying a posse of teens to the movies or a sports match).  However, if it’s not a “BabyDrive” (i.e. something suitable for small children), then it won’t feature!

Check it out yourself at BabyDrive.com.au.

Car Review: 2019 Kia Sportage SLi Petrol & GT-Line Diesel

Kia updated their Sportage range in mid 2018 and although mainly cosmetic in nature, it keeps the range fresh. The new for 2019 Kia Sportage SLi with petrol and the diesel fueled 2019 Kia Sportage GT-Line graced the driveway for a week each and both showed why they are ideally suited for their respective target markets.The GT-Line is listed at $48,210 plus on roads, the SLi at $37,310. There is a very well specified equipment list for both, including Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Keep Assist now standard across the range, and a suite of GPS linked voice alerts for speed cameras, narrow roads, schools, and more. Apart from the different energy sources there are two different transmissions. Kia has kept the six speed auto for the petrol with its higher rev points for power and torque, The diesel has a new eight speed, and It’s a cracker. The 2.0L diesel has 400Nm of torque and the eight ratios are well spread to take advantage of the power and torque delivery. Torque is on tap from idle with that peak available from 1750 to 2750 rev. Peak power is 136kW and that’s at 4000rpm. The SLi is a front wheel driven unit, the GT-Line an all wheel drive setup and comes with a centre diff lock for soft-roading.The Sportage is a four model range, being Si, Si Premium, SLi, and GT-Line. The first three have a choice of 2.0L petrol engine or 2.0L diesel. The GT-Line is 2.4L petrol or 2.0L diesel. The 2.0L is a nice enough performer, with 114kW and 192Nm. This comes standard with the six speed auto. The petrol is a free revving unit and its own power and torque curve has the six speed auto running slick and smooth. Power for the 2.4L petrol is virtually identical to the diesel at 135kW however that’s at 6000rpm. Torque, naturally is a lesser peak figure and higher up the rev range, with 237Nm at 4000rpm. Kia quotes 7.9L/100km for the 2.0L, 8.5L/100km for the 2.4L, and 6.4L/100km in the diesel. The SLi finished on 8.3L/100km and the diesel finishing on 7.1L/100km, with both results from a 98% urban run. All models have a 62L tank.Driving the diesel and the new auto sees a new level of refinement from Kia. There is a distinct lack of the agricultural sound, a real feeling of smoothness, and a wave upon wave surge of torque from the engine. Cogs swap swiftly, quietly, and smartly, with the throttle sensor responding instantly to both pedal movement and information from the drive system itself. Kia has stayed with the three mode drive choice which, for both, is superfluous. From a standing start the diesel pulls the 1700kg machine away with minimal effort and minimal noise. Although front drive biased, there’s a noticeable shift of torque to the rear when the go pedal is punched. The result is rocketship acceleration, with a flicker of the needle on the tacho at around 3200 revs for the change. The extra two cogs over the six add so much extra flexibility and helps get the GT-Line to 100kph rapidly. Stopping power comes from 305mm and 302mm discs.Inside the SLi the petrol’s sound is a distant thrum, barely audible, and feels smoother than silk on ice. From a standing start it’s quiet and sometimes so inaudible there’s a glance at the tacho to ensure it’s actually spinning. Punched hard enough there’s a chirp from the front, but otherwise it’s a friendly, forgiving, machine to drive, Steering on both is a delight, with a beautiful balance and heft on the pair. There’s the barest hint of torque steer from the diesel and only under load in corners.Suspension on both is tuned to suit the audience. The SLi and GT-Line share McPherson struts and a multi-link rear, but the dampers are slightly softer on the GT-Line. Rubber is different at 225/55/18s for the SLi, 245/45/19s on the GT-Line. That extra width on the GT-Line provides a more sure footed and tenacious feel on road too. Not that the SLi is any slouch. It’s a fun car to drive too. Hit it up into a tight corner and speed and it’s flat, composed, almost begging to see more numbers on the speedo as it dares the driver. Both settle even more with a week’s worth of shopping in the 466L cargo space. That increases to 1455L if the superbly comfortable pews are lowered.

There’s a modicum of extra space inside the Sportage, with an increase of wheelbase and overall length. Wheelbase is up, from 2640mm to 2670mm. Length grows by 45mm, to 4485mm but that includes a front overhang increase of 20mm to 905mm and a rear overhang decrease of 10mm to 910mm. Overall internal measurements have headroom up by 5mm to 997mm and 993mm from 977mm front and rear. Front legroom has grown by 19mm to 1129mm, and 7mm to 970mm in the rear.

There are few changes to the exterior, the driving lights in the lower corners of the front bumper now have a horizontal line spanning the insert, and in the case of the GT-Line, splits the LED cluster. The headlight surround in the GT-Line also looks slimmer but that may be down to the LED lights and indicators. The rear of the GT-Line has LED lights, and a powered tailgate, with the tail light cluster on all models freshened up whilst adding extra visibility for safety.

There is ample leg, shoulder, and head room in the Sportage, even with the full length glass roof as fitted in the Fiery Red painted GT-Line. There are the standard pair of 12V sockets up front plus a USB. The GT-Line adds a wireless charging point for compatible smartphones and a 12V & USB socket for the rear seat passengers. The front windows in each are one touch.Equipment wise there’s little between the two. Or all four, for that matter.Consider this: standard across the range is Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist, Downhill Brake Control, Hill-start Assist Control, Reverse sensors, and rear camera with guidelines. The Si dips out on front sensors, and only the GT-Line gets Intelligent Parking Assist System. Specific to the GT-Line is Blind Spot Detection/Lane Change Assist/Rear Cross Traffic Alert, which complement the Advanced Smart Cruise Control. All four have High Beam Assist, dusk sensing headlights, 2 ISOFIX seat mounts, and six airbags.

Comfort comes with heated and vented front seats for the GT-Line, ten way adjustable seats in both the SLi and GT-Line, an eight inch touchscreen with DAB audio, JBL speakers, Bluetooth, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. The latter two have voice recognition to boot. All four models have dual zone aircon systems with Kia’s proprietary CleanAir Module. Trim is soft touch plastics, with an alloy look to door and dash inserts. The SLi and GT-Line also receive a 4.5 inch full colour binnacle display.Kia continues to offer its seven year warranty and capped price service. The diesel is marginally more pricy per year for servicing, with the full price over the seven years at $3580 against $2742 for the SLi’s petrol. Premium paint is a $520 option.

At The End of The Drive.
Kia’s growth in the Australian market continues to go from strength to strength on the back of the Stinger, Sorento, and Sportage. the Cerato sedan is due to be joined by a revamped hatch soon, and the recent news of turbo engines for that overseas, and for the Picanto and Rio will add extra spice to the range. In the case of the diesel GT-Line, it’ll happily be welcomed back at any time. They’re both family friendly,, roomy and comfy, and pack plenty of tech. The SLi , perhaps, should have the 2.4L as an option or even as standard, to bring it closer to the GT-Line and separate it just that bit more from the Si pairing. Either way, both are immensely good value but for the win it’s the 2019 Kia Sportage GT-Line diesel.