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Makes and Models

2020 Audi Q3 Sportback Ready To Roll.

Audi’s vast range of vehicles is about to expand. The Q3 Sportback, a small-medium SUV that features a strong coupe styling, is on its way. Pricing is sharp and it will be, to start, a two model range. The Q3 Sportback 35 TFSI S line with a 1.4L turbo four that produces 110kW and 250Nm will kick off at $49,900, whilst the Launch Edition will start from $56,450. These are manufacturers list price and do not include dealer or government charges.

Styling tweaks see the Sportback longer and lower than the standard Q3. Audi quietly nods to its Quattro heritage with the body having larger wheel arch “blisters”. The S Line and Launch Edition will roll on 19 inch alloys. The powerplant itself pairs up with a slick six speed S-Tronic auto, putting drive to the front wjheels in the S Line. It’s not a rocket ship though, with a 0-100 time of 9.3 seconds. Economy is quoted as 7.3 litres per 100km whilst emissions are 167 grams per km. A bigger engine and an extra cog will feature in the Q3 40 S-Line model. 132kW will come from a 2.0L engine, driving all four corners via a seven speed S-Tronic.

The Launch Edition is will include additional features, such as metallic paint as standard, privacy glass, and a black exterior styling package. The folding wing mirrors are heated too. Inside there’s a bespoke sound system, auto dimming rear vision mirror, plus LED colour lighting, heated front pews with powered lumbar support, and a 360 degree camera system. Safety features will include Adaptive Cruise Assist, along with active lane assist and emergency assist.

ANCAP have awarded the Q3 Sportback a five star rating, as Autonomous Emergency Braking or AEB, with cyclist and pedestrian detection is on board, as are lane departure warning, lane change warning, rear cross-traffic assist, tyre pressure monitors, and hill descent control. Six airbags will be fitted with no driver’s kneebag as part of the package. Naturally technology is a major part of the Q3 Sportback, just like its sibling. The Audi “Virtual Cockpit” will star for the driver, as will MMI navigation and MMI touchscreen. DAB audio provides the sounds and Audi’s voice control is tuned to be a natural language style for better usage.

Both USB-A and USB-C ports will feature for front and rear seats, and connectivity in the form of wireless Apple CarPlay, a smartphone charge pad and a handy dual Bluetooth connectivity is standard. Audi Connect Plus provides real time traffic info, petrol station fuel pricing, parking space availability at listed stations, and even weather updates.

Drivers with a sporting bent will be well pleased thanks to a fettling of the steering plus selected driving modes for a variety of driving situations. Audi drive select allows driving characteristics to be altered with a selection of various modes through the MMI controls.

Although it’s of a coupe styling, rear room isn’t compromised. The 530 litres of cargo space is the same as the non-coupe Q3. 40:20:40 split fold and sliding second row seats allow up to 1400L as required.

Paul Sansom, Managing Director of Audi Australia, says: “The very first Q3 Sportback expands Audi’s presence in the premium compact SUV segment. In a single generation, the Audi Q3 established itself as the benchmark in its class, underlined by its enduring popularity throughout its lifetime. The new model is stronger in every conceivable area, and the very first Q3 Sportback offers an even more expressive alternative for buyers. The growing share of the premium compact SUV segment shows no sign of slowing down, and so the Q3 Sportback is absolutely the right car at the right time for the Australian market.”

Deliveries for Australia are expected to start in March of 2020.

Welcome To The Club: Fiat 500 Gets Update.

Fiat Australia has released details of a reinvigorated Fiat 500 line-up, with the unveiling of the new Lounge and Club variants.
The Italian city car remains true to its iconic design, refreshed with refined features and an option pack for the Club that takes the new line-up to an enhanced level of comfort across both the Lounge model and exciting new variant, the Fiat 500 Club.

Featuring the capable 51kW 1.2L powertrain, the Fiat 500 Lounge is offered in both Manual and Dualogic transmission and features 15 inch Glossy Silver Alloy Wheels as standard. Guillaume Drelon, Director, Brand & Product Strategy for Fiat, said: “We are thrilled to be able to offer additional features in the new Fiat 500 line-up that deliver a new level of sophistication. The Fiat 500 is truly a fun expression of its owner and with new technology and aesthetic refinements, it’s never looked better.”The pair share the same 1.2L engine. The Fiat 500 Club comes with Dualogic transmission and is packed with additional standard features including a Fixed Glass Sunroof, Automatic Climate Control, DAB+ and Rear Bumper with Chrome Moulding. There are some extra niceties too, with the Club also gaining 16 inch Alloy Wheels, Fog Lights, and Dusk and Rain Sensors. The Club also offers two different interior options with black fabric seats with white inserts and eye-catching bordeaux stitching, or white fabric with black inserts and white stitching. Leather can also be specified.Standard equipment for the pair is high. This includes the seven inch Uconnect Touchscreen Infotainment System with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a seven inch TFT Instrument Cluster Display, Voice Command with Bluetooth, Rear Parking Sensors, Cruise Control with Speed Limiter, Automatic Climate Control, Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel, and Daytime Running Lights with 15” Alloy Wheels on the Lounge.

The updated Fiat 500 range is on sale with the five speed manual Lounge starting from $19,250 (MSRP) through Fiat dealerships across Australia. The Club Auto starts from $23,250 (MSRP), with the Lounge and Club soft-tops starting from $25,250 and $27,250 respectively. The Fiat website can provide more information.

Medium AWD SUVs You Can Buy in 2020

With and even bigger range of Mid-size SUVs now available, the answer has to be ‘Why Not?’.  Getting yourself into a new medium SUV is easier than ever with some good package deals, great warranties and service packages that are comprehensive.  Got yourself a small family and like to get out on an adventure?  Here is a list of all the medium SUVs on the market offering AWD.

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Stelvio AWD

Want some style?  Alfa Romeo has got loads of ‘bravura’, ‘panache’ and ‘flair’.  Three levels of trim are available for the Stelvio and you get to choose either diesel or petrol power.  The new Alfa Romeo Stelvio is a smooth drive with great performance, handling and comfort.  Want a decent luxury SUV? How about a look at the new Stelvio?  Starting off with the Stelvio 2.0 AWD, here you get five seats, auto, petrol, 2.0-litre, 148 kW, 330 Nm, 5-star safety and around 7.0 litres/100 km.

Next comes the Stelvio 2.2 TDi AWD which is similarly priced to the previous model.  Here you get the five seats, auto, Diesel, 2.2-litre, 154 kW, 470 Nm, 5-star safety and 4.8 litres/100 km.  Style, torque and low fuel bills are a given.

Punchy and fun to drive, the Stelvio 20 Ti AWD delivers five seats, auto, petrol, 2.0-litre, 206 kW, 400 Nm, 5-star safety and 7.0 litres/100 km.

Audi

Audi Q5

Three forms of the 2020 Audi Q5 are available.  The Audi Q5 TDI Quattro 140 Sport offers five seats, auto, diesel, 2.0-litre, 140 kW, 400 Nm, 5-star safety and a 5.1 litres/100 km figure.

Next is the Audi Q5 TDI Quattro 210 Sport with five seats, auto, Diesel, 3.0-litre, 210 kW, 620 Nm, 5-star safety and 6.0 litres/100 km.  This is a phenomenally quick and satisfying SUV drive!

The most expensive new Audi Q5 with AWD is the TFSI Quattro 185 Sport model.  Here you get five seats, auto, petrol, 2.0-litre, 185 kW, 370 Nm, 5-star safety and 7.1 litres/100 km efficiency.

Steeping up to the Q5 from the Q3 means more space but without getting into massive territory.  Drive a new Audi Q5 AWD and you get the prestigious Quattro underpinnings with clever technology.  Luxury is aplenty, while the drive is always satisfying.  You’ll also love the digital driver’s display, too.

BMW

BMW X3

The BMW X3 gets into mid-size SUV territory.  The 2020 X3 is nice to look at, comfortable and practical.  Two models are available with AWD: The BMW X3 xDrive 20d AWD with five seats, an 8-speed auto, diesel power, 2.0-litre, 140 kW, 400 Nm, 5-star safety and around 5.7 litres/100 km economy.  The BMW X3 xDrive 30i AWD has five seats, an 8-speed auto, petrol, 2.0-litre, 185 kW, 350 Nm, 5-star safety and around 7.8 litres/100 km economy.

BMW X4

You also get the choice of getting yourself into the sportier BMW X4 AWD models.  The X4 has sleek lines and looks good.  Practical interiors with nice trim and easy-on-the-eye materials all come together to make the new X4 a stylish and fun drive.  The BMW X4 xDrive 20d AWD has five seats, auto, diesel, 2.0-litre, 140 kW, 400 Nm, 5-star safety and 5.8 litres/100 km fuel efficiency.

If you prefer petrol power, then the BMW X4 xDrive 30i AWD has five seats, auto, petrol, 2.0-litre, 185 kW, 400 Nm, 5-star safety and around 7.8 litres/100 km credentials.

Ford

Ford Escape

A very nice medium-size AWD Ford SUV is offered.  You are sure to find a model to suit your needs.  Safe, practical and comfortable, the 2020 Ford Escape is a trusty companion capable of carrying the small family when needed and delivering crisp handling and great engines.  Two engines power the five variants; so one is a 132 kW Diesel with 400 Nm of torque on offer and excellent fuel efficiency.  The other engine is an Ecoboost petrol-fed unit that puts out 178 kW and 344 Nm of torque.  This is a strong engine that performs very well.  All models use a smooth shifting auto gearbox and come with 5-star safety.  The models on offer include Trend, ST Line and Titanium trims.

Holden

Holden Equinox

Where Ford treads you’ll always find a Holden equivalent nearby, or maybe that should be the other way around!

Holden provides the comfortable and spacious Holden Equinox.  Well equipped, loads of options, comfortable seating, plenty of space and 5-star safety are strong Equinox features.  The LTZ-V AWD models get all the flashy equipment and are really nice vehicles to drive.  Two engines are available; the petrol model uses a 188 kW 2.0-litre engine with 353 Nm of power.  Expect around 8.4 litres/ 100 km for this one.

The other Equinox AWD engine is the 100 kW, turbo-diesel unit with 320 Nm of torque and a fuel efficiency figure around the 5.7 litres/100 km mark.

Honda

Honda CR-V

Well known and well-loved is the trusty Honda CR-V mid-size SUV.  It is one of the original first mid-size SUVs, so it’s been around for a few decades now.  Putting it right into the modern market place, the 2020 Honda CR-V AWD models are very roomy, comfortable and practical vehicles boasting loads of high-tech equipment as well as a seven-seat option.  Good strong engines and smooth power delivery make the new Honda CR-V a nice drive.  With the new Honda CR-V variants you get five/seven seats, auto, petrol, 1.5-litre, 140 kW, 240 Nm, 5-star safety and around 7.4 litres/100 km fuel efficiency.

Hyundai

Hyundai Tucson

Stylish new Hyundai Tucson models are available with AWD.  Depending on the level of trim, there will be plenty of variants to suit your needs.  Hyundai’s latest HTRAC AWD system allows toque to be delivered and distributed on demand to ensure that fuel efficiency is optimized.  If you can get yourself into the Limited versions you are loaded to the hilt with modern features that include all the high-tech features some high-end luxury cars offer.  The diesel engine is a real gem, while the petrol alternative is smooth and responsive.  1.6T AWD variants offer five seats, auto, petrol, 1.6-litre, 130 kW, 265 Nm, 5-star safety and around 7.7 litres/100 km efficiency.  2.0R AWD variants offer five seats, auto, diesel, 136 kW, 400 Nm, 5-star safety and around 6.8 litres/100 km efficiency.

Jaguar

Jaguar E-Pace

Jaguar enters the medium SUV market place with its highly desirable new range of E-Pace SUVs.  Style, luxury and driving dynamics are all part of the special E-Pace package.

E-Pace D150 has 2.0-litre diesel power, 110 kW, 380 Nm and around 5.6 litres/100 km.

E-Pace P200 has 2.0-litre petrol power, 147 kW, 340 Nm and around 8.0 litres/100 km.

E-Pace 250 has 2.0-litre petrol power, 249 kW, 365 Nm and around 7.7 litres/100 km.

E-Pace R-Dynamic D180 has 2.0-litre diesel power, 180 kW, 430 Nm and around 5.6 litres/100 km.

E-Pace R-Dynamic P250 has 2.0-litre petrol power, 184 kW, 365 Nm and around 7.7 litres/100 km.

E-Pace R-Dynamic SE P250 has 2.0-litre petrol power, 184 kW, 365 Nm and around 7.7 litres/100 km.

E-Pace R-Dynamic SE P300 has 2.0-litre petrol power, 221 kW, 400 Nm and around 8.0 litres/100 km.

All models have a nice smooth auto gearbox, 5-star safety and are impressive to drive.

Jeep

Jeep Compass

A new Jeep Compass AWD won’t break the bank but it will tame the terrain.  You are always going to look good in the new Jeep Compass which is just as happy scampering off on the school run as it is crossing a stream.  Trailhawk models a serious off-road vehicles built for exploring trails and other off-road excursions.  Inside a new Compass there is plenty of space with nice seat comfort.  Premium safety features and plenty of equipment keep the Compass at the head of the field.

Jeep Compass Limited 4WD delivers five seats, auto, petrol, 2.4-litre, 129 kW, 229 Nm, 5-star safety and around 9.7-litres/100 km efficiency.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk 4WD offers five seats, auto, petrol, 2.4-litre, 129 kW, 229 Nm, 5-star safety and around 9.8-litres/100 km efficiency.

Jeep Cherokee

The Jeep Cherokee is always a winner in the luxury medium SUV class.  Recently spruced up and making a statement, both the Limited and Trailhawk models use the same strong 3.2-litre, 200 kW, petrol-fed motor with 315 Nm of torque.  There is always plenty of power on tap, and the ride quality is smooth and comfortable.  Off-road ability is outstanding.  Plenty of space and equipment keep the drive relaxed and in control.  A roomy five seats and 5-star safety completes the desirable package.

Kia

Kia Sportage

The good looking Kia Sportage is well appointed, comfortable and nice to drive.  With tidy handling and a decent ride, the Sportage is proving popular.  Try and get into the higher spec models and you’ll be sitting in an impressively comfortable, classy medium SUV.

The Kia Sportage 2.4-litre petrol variants (EX AWD, GT-Line AWD) use the same responsive 2.4-litre motor with 135 kW and 237 Nm.  Expect around 8.5 litres/100 km fuel efficiency.

The Kia Sportage 2.0-litre diesel variants (LX AWD, LX Plus AWD, GT-Line AWD) have great power plants in the form of a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, 136 kW, 400 Nm motor.  Excellent fuel economy sits at around 6.4 litres/100 km.

All models come with AWD, auto gearboxes and 5-star safety.

Land Rover

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Off-road kings, Land Rover, offer AWD medium SUV buyers the chance of getting into the legendary Land Rover Discovery Sport.  Premium 4×4 technology and formidable off-road prowess has the 2020 Discovery tackling tough terrain in comfort and with ease.  On-road ride and comfort is equally impressive, and engine performance is strong whatever the task.  You also get the option of having seven seats, too.  New infotainment technology and stylish interiors make travelling in a new Discovery very enjoyable.

P200 R-Dynamic S – 5 seats, auto, petrol, 2.0-litre, 147 kW, 320 Nm, 5-star safety, 7.9 l/100 km.

P250 R-Dynamic S – 7 seats, auto, petrol, 2.0-litre, 184 kW, 365 Nm, 5-star safety, 7.9 l/100 km.

D180 R-Dynamic S – 5 seats, auto, diesel, 2.0-litre, 132 kW, 430 Nm, 5-star safety, 5.6 l/100 km.

P250 R-Dynamic SE – 5+2 seats, auto, petrol, 2.0-litre, 184 kW, 365 Nm, 5-star safety, 7.9 l/100 km.

D180 R-Dynamic SE – 5+2 seats, auto, diesel, 2.0-litre, 132 kW, 430 Nm, 5-star safety, 5.7 l/100 km.

Also under the Land Rover name is the very nice Range Rover Evoque.  Style, luxury and off-road/onroad prowess makes this vehicle a premium choice.

Range Rover Evoque

P200 R-Dynamic S – 5 seats, auto, petrol, 2.0-litre, 147 kW, 340 Nm, 5-star safety, 7.7 l/100 km.

D180 R-Dynamic SE – 5 seats, auto, diesel, 2.0-litre, 132 kW, 430 Nm, 5-star safety, 5.7 l/100 km.

P250 R-Dynamic SE – 5 seats, auto, petrol, 2.0-litre, 184 kW, 365 Nm, 5-star safety, 7.9 l/100 km.

D180 R-Dynamic HSE – 5 seats, auto, diesel, 2.0-litre, 132 kW, 430 Nm, 5-star safety, 5.7 l/100 km.

P250 R-Dynamic SE – 5 seats, auto, petrol, 2.0-litre, 184 kW, 365 Nm, 5-star safety, 7.9 l/100 km.

P300 R-Dynamic HSE – 5 seats, auto, petrol, 2.0-litre, 221 kW, 400 Nm, 5-star safety, 8.1 l/100 km.

Lexus

Lexus NX

Balanced, sleek lines are part of the new 2020 Lexus NX AWD models.  It has to be one of the classier looking mid-SUVs on the road, and with Lexus’s latest hybrid technology part of the model’s line-up you can have a luxury SUV ride, comfort and space with a fuel efficiency that brings you relief at the pump.  Premium interior infotainment and technology, classy leather materials, and fit-and-finish that are second-to-none are all reasons why this is among the leading luxury SUV variants on the road.  Excellent safety features and premium space add to the quality Lexus NX package, so the deal is 5-star safety and 5-seats.  A smooth ride comfort and boasting plenty of grip all helps to make the new Lexus NX AWD SUV highly desirable.

One hybrid powertrain powers the NX 300h, NX 300h F-Sport and NX 300h Limited.  This powerplant uses a CVT Auto, a 2.5-litre petrol engine with a combined output of 145 kW, 210 Nm and a fuel efficiency of around 5.7 litres/100 km.

The 2.0-litre Turbo petrol engine boasts 175 kW and 350 Nm to give plenty of grunt.  Running with the 6-speed automatic gearbox, this set-up returns around 7.9 litres/100 km fuel usage.

Mahindra

Mahindra XUV500

Available as a highly appointed SUV, the new Mahindra XUV500 is spacious, comfortable and easy to drive.  Good turbo-diesel power and economy should appeal to plenty of people after a well appointed AWD medium SUV.

The Mahindra XUV500 AWD W10 has seven seats, auto, diesel, 2.2-litres, 103 kW, 320 Nm, 4-star safety and around 8.1 litres/100 km fuel efficiency.

Mazda

Mazda CX-5

Petrol and diesel alternatives, classy looks and a nice drive to match, the Mazda CX-5 is popular for good reason.  Hard to beat with so many pros including a competitive price makes the models in the Mazda CX-5 stable highly desirable.

The Mazda CX-5 GSX AWD Petrol and Limited AWD Petrol use the same engine, the only difference being in equipment levels.  Both are five-seater, auto, 2.5-litre petrol, 140 kW, 252 Nm, 5-star safe, 7.4 litre/100 km mid-size SUVs.

The Mazda CX-5 GSX AWD and Limited AWD Diesel variants run with a 2.2 turbo-diesel motor boasting 140 kW, 450 Nm and 5.7 litres/100 km efficiency.  These engines are some of the best in this class of vehicle.  They are strong performers and very efficient.

The Mazda CX-5 2.5 Turbo has the 170 kW petrol variant with 420 Nm of torque.  Smooth, punchy performance makes this a class act too.

Mercedes Benz

Mercedes Benz GLC

Mid-size Mercedes Benz SUVs are known as the GLC Series of vehicles.  Luxurious, desirable, classy, safe and stylish are just some of the words used to describe this nice range of medium SUVs.  Coupe styling is also on offer.  They are pricey, but then they are very good.

All models seat five in comfort and use 9-speed automatic gearboxes.  AMG models use a Speedshift gearbox.  One hybrid model is available (300 e).  Again, the GLC range of Mercedes Benz SUVs lead the way on the performance front; the AMG models deliver as much as 700 Nm from their 4.0-litre, 8-cylinder engines.

Mercedes Benz GLC models include the: 300 AWD, 300 e AWD, AMG 43 AWD, AMG 63S AWD, Coupe 300 AWD, Coupe AMG GLC 43 AWD, Coupe AMG GLC 63S AWD.

Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Two mid-size SUV models with AWD are available to the buyer.

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross AWD in XLS and VRX forms offer five seats, auto, petrol, 1.5-litres, 112 kW, 254 Nm, 5-star safety and around 7.7 litres/100 km.  The turbo engine and the very good eight step CVT are matched really well for an enjoyable drive while delivering a refined ride and comfortable transport.  Loaded with the latest infotainment and safety goodies you’ll enjoy the Eclipse Cross’s nice modern looks and classy cabins.

Mitsubishi Outlander

The Mitsubishi Outlander has been a go-to mid-size SUV for quite some time now, and with its latest offering it remains a highly competent medium SUV.  Petrol, hybrid and now a new Diesel engine give the Outlander plenty of clout.  Underpinning the Outlander is an excellent AWD system that manages slippery conditions with ease.  CVT and conventional auto gearboxes are available.

So, LS, XLS, XLS Sport and VRX versions run with a 2.4-litre, 126 kW, 224 Nm petrol powerplant that offers around 7.2 litres/100 km efficiency.  All are CVT, however you can choose the VRX with a 6-speed auto if you prefer.

With 366 Nm of torque and a very good all-round fuel efficiency of somewhere in the vicinity of 6.2 litres, the XLS and VRX can be had with this excellent turbo-diesel motor delivering 112 kW of peak power.  This makes a strong case for those on the look out for a reasonably priced diesel powered mid-size SUV.

Ready to be blown away?  Those in the know, will already be enjoying the Mitsubishi Outlander in PHEV form.  Why?  Under the hood is probably the best petrol/ev combination for any of the mid-size SUVs in 2020.  Luxurious and well appointed, the PHEV also manage to get as low as 1.9 litres/100 km! Enough said…

Nissan

Nissan X-Trail

People are loving the nice curvy styling of the latest Nissan X-Trail.  Solid dynamics, decent performance, great 4WD systems with decent off-roading potential, plenty of space, reasonable pricing and plenty of very good equipment all add up to make the new X-Trail another desirable SUV.

Nissan X-Trail 4WD variants start with the ST, step to the ST-L and then top out with the loaded Ti.  Each uses the same peppy 2.5-litre petrol with 126 kW and 226 Nm.  You can expect around 8.3 litres/100 km fuel efficiency for all the models which come with the auto gearbox as standard.  Practical roomy interiors, good luggage space, seating for five and 5-star safe, the X-Trail is to be liked.

Porsche

Porsche Macan

Porsche get into the mid-size SUV market place with a variety of premium AWD Macan models.  They demand a high price but then, like Mercedes equivalents, they are very good SUVs – more orientated towards sport/luxury than being a true off-roading SUV.  Comfortable and very sporty with great road manners for the enthusiast, the AWD Macan is pure driving pleasure.

The Porsche Macan uses a 185 kW petrol engine delivering a top speed nearing 230 km/h.  A 0-100 km/h sprint time of 6.5 seconds should be enough to have plenty of fun on the drive to work!

The Porsche Macan S uses a 260 kW petrol engine delivering a top speed nearing 254 km/h, and it has a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 5.1 seconds.

The Porsche Macan GTS uses a 280 kW petrol engine delivering a top speed nearing 261 km/h, and it has a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 4.7 seconds.

The Porsche Macan Turbo uses a 324 kW petrol engine delivering a top speed nearing 270 km/h, and it has a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 4.3 seconds.

Renault

Renault Koleos

Renault has two very decent AWD medium SUVs that are often overlooked in the masses.  Don’t forget to check out a new 2020 Koleos 4×4.  Riding on the same platform as the Nissan X-Trail you get a very good off-road system that is more than adequate for plenty of adventure.  A petrol and diesel are offered both of which are very well equipped, spacious and comfortable.  The Koleos looks smart and flowing, boasting striking LED DRLs and a classy set of alloys.

The Renault Koleos Intens/Sport 2.5 4×4 uses the responsive 2.5-litre, petrol engine with 126 kW and 226 Nm.  You should get around 8.3 litres/100 km fuel efficiency out of one of these and its linked to the smooth auto gearbox.

The Renault Koleos Intens/Sport 2.0 4×4 offers the turbo-diesel engine in auto with plenty of power (128 kW) and a hefty 380 Nm of torque.  This is the one to get if you need a Koleos for towing, but check out the 5.5 litre/100 km fuel efficiency – which you should match pretty closely.

Your new Renault Koleos comes with a comprehensive suite of 5-star safety features, and out on the open road it happily lopes along effortlessly and quietly.

Skoda

Skoda Kodiaq

For practicality, safety and style, the latest Skoda Kodiaq leads the way.  A healthy boot space, sliding and reclining rear seats, seven seats, loads of storage space and a comfortable ride, the Skoda is a perfect mid-size SUV.  A diesel and petrol option gives the buyer flexibility.  Well equipped, well built and capable off-road, the 4×4 footprint is assured and well balanced for any road surface you care to travel down.

The Kodiaq Style and the Kodiaq Sportline models are offered with a 2.0-litre petrol engine delivering 132 kW and 320 Nm.  But you can also get your Kodiaq with the superb 2.0-litre turbo-diesel packing 400 Nm of torque and 140 kW.  Both engines are linked to a smooth auto gearbox.

Subaru

Subaru Forester

Another medium SUV that’s been through plenty of generations – one of the first of its type, in fact – is the 2020 Subaru Forester.  This SUV delivers a great package in various trims that all run with the smooth 4-cylinder, 2.5-litre petrol, auto with 136 kW and 239 Nm.  You should be able to get around 7.4 litres/100 km on average.

The latest Forester remains a solid buy, built nice and strong with 5-star safety, loads of new technology and X-Mode for its AWD capability.  A good drive.

Toyota

Ever reliable, Toyota has a nice new RAV4 for sale for 2020.  Only titivated up last year, the new RAV4 is an SUV that, in hybrid format, uses the new E-Four AWD system.  Linked to the smooth and free revving 2.5-litre petrol, the combination of petrol/hybrid technology brings an excellent fuel efficient medium-size SUV to this rather large SUV segment of the market.  In hybrid form the RAV4 delivers 131 kW of power and 221 Nm of torque, perfect for everyday driving.  Fuel consumption can get as low as 4.7 litres/100 km.  You’ll find the hybrid is available for the RAV4 GX, GXL and Cruiser models.  The hybrids use a CVT gearbox for delivering power down to the AWD system.

The other engine that’s available for the Toyota RAV4 Edge AWD is the 2.5-litre Dynamic Force direct injection petrol engine which is linked to a very nice 8-speed auto.  It has a few more horses under the bonnet with 152 kW and 243 Nm at the ready.  Fuel consumption for the Edge is around 7.5 litres/100 km.

Safety is 5-star, so you get a loaded mid-size SUV with Toyota Safety Sense that includes active cruise control, a pre-collision safety system with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure alert, lane trace assist, auto high beam and road sign assist.

Seating is spacious and comfortable for the long haul, while the audio and other infotainment systems are all the latest tech.  Plenty of options allow you to individualize you RAV4 to your tastes and there is even things like a panoramic roof.

Volkswagen

VW Tiguan

No more diesel options for VW’s Tiguan, however the two petrol engines deliver nice, smooth power and decent response.  One of the 2.0-litre petrol Turbo units puts out 132 kW and 320 Nm, while the other jumps to 162 kW and 350 Nm.  Allspace models add a third row of seats to make it possible to carry seven occupants including the driver.

Handy 4×4 systems make the 2020 VW Tiguan pretty good for going off-road.  5-star safety and decent fuel consumption rates all add up to making the pleasant Tiguan easy to live with and very handy to have when you want to escape for the weekend.  The Tiguan interiors are smart and well put together.

Volvo

Volvo XC60

Volvo’s XC60 slots into the mid-size SUV segment perfectly.  It is one of the most stylish medium SUVs on the market; it looks great from any angle.  You also get the Thor hammer DRLs which catch attention instantly.

Out on the road the new Volvo XC60 performs very well with plenty of power and refinement.  The ride is very comfortable, aided by the very comfortable seats.  Take it off-road and the XC60 handles pretty much anything that comes its way – without being an out-and-out bush basher.

Engines come in the form of petrol, diesel and hybrid – all of which are 2.0-litre capacity.  The hybrid is the most powerful engine, with 265 kW maximum combined output and as much as 440 Nm of torque.  The hybrid is known as the T8, and with all that power comes an amazing 2.1 litres/100 km of fuel usage –why would you want anything else?  It is pricy though…

D4 and D5 XC60 variants pack a tonne of torque from their diesel engines.

The T5 has: 5 seats, auto, petrol, 2.0-litre, 187 kW, 350 Nm, 5-star safety and 7.3 litres/100 km.

The D4 has 5 seats, auto, diesel, 2.0-litre, 140 kW, 400 Nm, 5-star safety and 5.2 litres/100 km.

The D5 R-Design has 5 seats, auto, diesel, 2.0-litre, 173 kW, 480 Nm, 5-star safety and 5.5 litres/100 km.

The T6 has: 5 seats, auto, petrol, 2.0-litre, 235 kW, 400 Nm, 5-star safety and 7.7 litres/100 km.

The T8 R-Design Hybrid has: 5 seats, auto, petrol, 2.0-litre, 265 kW, 440 Nm, 5-star safety and 2.1 litres/100 km.

 

2019MY Nissan X-Trail Ti: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 model year Ti spec X-Trail from Nissan. At the time of writing there is a six tier range which includes the sports themed N-Sport. The Ti sits at the second highest spot under the TL and wants for little in comparison. The car provided comes in a five seater configuration.

How Much Does It Cost?: Nissan says a drive-away price in January 2020 is $44,490 for the Ti. That’s a bargain as the recommended retail is $45,340 before any on road costs.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.5L petrol engine and a Constant Variable Transmission. Peak torque of 226Nm spins in at 4,400rpm, whilst top power of 126kW is there at 6,000rpm. Economy is quoted as 8.3L per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle from a 60.0L tank. We saw a best of 7.3L/100km and a final average of 8.7L/100km. Emissions are 192grams/km. Dry weight is 1,562kg.On The Outside It’s: A clear relation to the rest of the Nissan family, something some other brands should take into consideration. Every single Nissan has a relatable to another Nissan look. This starts with the deep Vee shaped nose/grille design before running to a sine wave crease-line along the side from the front to the’s rear muscular flanks. The rear lights are nicely integrated horizontally and the powered tailgate opens to a 565L cargo section. Drop the second row seats and Nissan says there’s 945L available. The Ti comes with a glass roof and incorporates a separate sunroof in this section.The styling disguises the fact it’s quite long at 4,640mm and sports a wheelbase of 2,705mm. Height is only noticeable if you stand next to it at 1,740mm. Full width is 1,820mm. Good looking 19 inch alloys are shod with 225/55 Ecopia rubber from Bridgestone.On The Inside It’s: Largely a very pleasant office. The immediate downside to the look is the drab and dull touchscreen display. It’s boring to look at, and slow to access DAB stations. the map display looks like a digital version of the now no-longer-available paper map books. That’s the downside. Otherwise there’s superbly supple cloth covered seats, which are heated front AND rear, the aforementioned glass roof, and an ergonomically laid out cabin.The driver has a one touch up/down power window, keyless start, and a very efficient climate control system at their fingertips. There’s a decent centre console bin, and a drive select dial just forward of it. This allows two or four wheel drive (on demand) and a locked 4WD for soft-roading. Auto headlights and wipers add to the convenience factor as do the integrated cop holders in the rear seat which fold down and also provide a form of armrest. There’s hints of luxury thanks to the lush carpet mats fitted and the powered tailgate has a position memory. It’ll also automatically stop if a body is detected..The dash itself is formed into an elegantly styled design, replete with soft touch materials and a stitched leather look. Button and tab placement follow a logical theme on the gently flattened “M” style layout, with a slightly flat bottomed wheel providing a little extra thigh space as well. Dull looking touchscreen design aside, it’s a pretty place to sit in and look at. That’s assisted by a beautiful Bose sound system with enough low end to please most and a nicely balanced sound stage.

On The Road It’s: A harder ride than expected. In no way was it a bad ride, far from it. There was ample absorbance and it was more the quicker return to a flat ride, and a definite feeling of tautness, that surprised early on. The car’s default drive by choice was the torque-split on demand 4WD. In the driver’s display is a graphic that shows the torque being applied front to rear and the drive is well enough set up to have the front doing most of the work without feeling as such.Steering is well balanced with just the right amount of feedback and heft to ensure an engaging drive in this respect. Where the drive fell down was in the CVT’s unwillingness to deal with an engine that has great numbers and exhibits those when using the manual change via the gear selector or paddle shifters.

Anything other than a gentle push on the accelerator resulted in a sensation of feeling mired in mud. Forward motion felt uninspiring, and indifferent, whereas using the manual options gave a definite change in the liveliness of the drive. The brakes made up for it with confidence and solid stopping time after time.What About Safety?: There’s plenty. Intelligent Cruise Control that adapts to the vehicle ahead, Autonomous Emergency Braking, and Blind Spot Warning with a small LED that lights up in the root of the wing mirror to visually advise. Intelligent Trace Control, a form of torque vectoring, is here, and it unobtrusively applies brakes to the wheels sensors feel need an additional boost, and this works cornering to assist in keeping the X-Trail on the road, rather than venturing to where it shouldn’t.

Intelligent Ride Control works with the engine and transmission, gently backing off torque when the car moves over something like a speed-bump or road ripple. This has the flow on effect of minimising pitch that passengers may feel. Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, and Intelligent Lane Intervention round out the safety package, with what Nissan calls their Intelligent Mobility service incorporating the Lane Intervention, Cruise Control, and Trace Control.What About Warranty And Service?: Five years worth of warranty and unlimited kilometres are a good thing to have in the back pocket. This covers five years of roadside assist and should the vehicle be onsold inside that term, the warranty rolls over with it. Service is the now familiar capped price and varies depending on which level of service is required. This was the pricing structure as of January 2020.

At The End Of The Drive. The Nissan X-Trail Ti is a very featured and equipped vehicle. It rides and handles well enough, has a very good engine but has two things that need improvement. The visually uninspiring touchscreen needs an overhaul and Nissan has plenty of places to look. The other is the CVT. It’s a real negative in what is otherwise a mechanically very well sorted drive-line. More information of the X-Trail’s extensive range and feature set can be found here.

Genesis GV80 Showcases Luxury And Technology.

Genesis, the luxury aimed sub-branch of Hyundai, has launched its first SUV. Named the GV80, with the V standing for versatility, it features a unique headlight design, a mix of aluminium and steel in construction, plus some world first comfort features.William Lee, the Executive Vice President and Global Head for Genesis, says: “GV80 represents the essence of the innovative spirit of Genesis. As we launch GV80, our first luxury flagship SUV, we simultaneously open a new chapter for Genesis.”

Hot-stamped steel is a main component of the body’s structure, whilst aluminium features in the doors, bonnet, and tail-gate. An immediate standout of the exterior is the “Quad Lamp” headlight design. “The Quad Lamp graphic will become the most recognisable, unique signature of Genesis design, as the simplest of lines communicate a distinct identity,” said Luc Donckerwolke, Chief Design Officer of Hyundai Motor Group. “Two lines will come to define Genesis.”Three design studios based in the U.S., Korea, and Germany collaborated on the design. Signature cues are the “Crest Grille”, flanked by the Quad Lamps, and something Genesis call the “G-Matrix”, a pattern in the light fixtures. There is also the Parabolic Line running along each side and complemented by lines over the wheel arches.
There’s no holding back on interior features for luxury either. Slim-line air vents provide a sense of elegance and a broad 14.5 inch touchscreen with a split-screen ability dominates the centre dash console and another simple luxury touch comes from a minimal use of hard texture switches and buttons. The appeal of soft materials extends to covering the door handles and quilted kneepads on the console sides.An electronically powered shift-by-wire dial style gear selector is housed in the elegantly designed centre console. Handwriting recognition, such as that found on smart devices, allows phone number dialling or navigation setting. There’s also a new augmented reality system that works with the navigation, with driving guidelines set over camera-fed real time driving. A front mounted camera displays an optimal driving line on the infotainment screen.
Sound deadening technology goes up a notch with the GV80 showcasing a world first. Road-Noise Active Noise Control or RANC technology uses digital signal processing and analyses road noise. By generating opposing signals within 0.002 seconds, extraneous noise is cancelled out.Another world-first technology is an active motion driver’s seat that contains seven air cells: a feature that reduces fatigue from long hours of driving. One-touch comfort control, adjustable from the front row, allows for limousine-level relaxation in the second-row seats. Heated and ventilated seats are available in the first two rows.

In addition, the GV80 is equipped with an air purification system that automatically operates according to indoor air quality, through an in-vehicle fine dust sensor. Active air purification with dual filters monitors the in-vehicle air quality in real time, and removes 99% of fine particulate matter, which maintains a clean and fresh cabin environment.

A straight six diesel will move the GV80. Peak torque, says Genesis, is 588Nm, with a peak power output of 204kW from the 3.0L capacity engine. Configured as a five seater and rolling on 19 inch diameter wheels, economy is quoted as 8.5L/100km. The Australian market sees the GV80 available with two petrol engines at launch, expected for mid-2020.
Buyers speccing an AWD model will have Multi-Terrain Control for various types of off-roading on surfaces such as Snow or Mud. Comfort in ride and handling will come from an electronically controlled suspension that will work with the front mounted cameras to adjust on the fly for better road holding.

An Advanced Driver Assistance System, ADAS, will feature some unique tech, such as SCC-ML. This is Smart Cruise Control with Machine Learning, an AI package that adapts to individual driving characteristics. The airbag count goes up to 10, with a centre-mounted airbag between the front occupants to mitigate interior impact.
There’s some extra convenience functionality such as Genesis Pay, which will be unique to the South Korean market. This works by linking a credit card to the car’s telematics and enables cashless payments via the navigation screen. Servicing is assisted by remote diagnosis technology and smartphone connectivity allows remote vehicle checking.
The Genesis website is where to find out more and register interest.

2020 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Ready To Roll.

Mitsubishi’s progressive update of their range continues. Late in 2019 the freshened ASX was released and now the Triton-based Pajero Sport gets a makeover.

Front and centre is the addition of the now familiar shield nose. It’s a rework of the previous version and now features a reworked grille, the inwards pointing chrome highlights, and the squared off driving light clusters. By giving the front a square look it has the effect of making the Pajero Sport appear wider and more imposing. There’s also been a subtle increase to the height of the bonnet.There’s been some tickling under the bonnet as well. The standard 2.4L diesel remains but some of the internals have been upgraded. The combustion chamber and fuel injection spray system have been given extra work for better optimisation of fuel spray, lowering the diesel’s compression ratio to 15.5:1. Boost from the turbo has gone up slightly to 200MPa, with the engine delivering 133kW @ 3,500rpm, and maximum torque runs at 430Nm. That’s at 2,500rpm. Mitsubishi say throttle response should be more instant and smoother.The drive is 2WD and 4WD via Mitsubishi’s SuperSelect-11 system. 4WDLLC locks the centre diff for a more precise spread of torque to each corner, and engages the low range for off-road excursions. Inside the auto is a nifty bit of work too. It’s called Idle Neutral Control and it reduces internal energy losses caused by torque converter drag when the vehicle is stationary in Drive.

There are some subtle changes inside too. A powered tailgate will be standard and likely across all models bar GLX. It’s kick activated too, for those with full hands from shopping. Adaptive Cruise Control will be fitted to all except GLX. The floor console AC Power Outlet on the outgoing model has been moved to the rear end of the floor console to enhance user-convenience.  Up front the centre console has been modified in shape and the console forward of the shifter has been changed in profile.

In the Exceed the driver gets a new 8.0 inch full colour driver’s display. On the 8.0 inch screen in the console the all around monitor has been upgraded to show obstacles detected by the ultrasonic sensors. Smartphone connectivity has been upgraded with a “misplaced” vehicle in a carpark now able to activate the headlights remotely via smartphone. It can also show fuel consumption,  remaining driving range, Eco score, and consumption history. Apple Watch wearers can also activate the power tailgate remotely, and receive vehicle operation notifications.Safety goes up a notch with driver’s knee airbags now standard across the range, as is Forward Collision Mitigation or FCM. Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and a modified Blind Spot Alert are now standard. The Exceed gains Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation, a system that uses sensors to read around the car and stop automatically if sensors pick up an obstacle.

Outside, White Diamond and Graphite Grey metallic paint have been added.

Pricing starts at $45,900 for the entry level GLX 5 seater, with the GLS 5 seater starting from $52,490. Move up to the 7 seater GLS and there’s $53,990. Exceed starts from $59,990. The 2020 Pajero Sport range is available now.

 

 

Toyota Yaris GR: Potency Is The Middle Name.

Toyota’s city car, the Yaris, has been a solid performer for the Japanese company for some time. For 2020, Toyota has shrugged off the cardigan and given the petite little thing a heart and soul transplant. Called the Yaris GR (Gazoo Racing), it’s due mid 2020 for Australia. The basis for the Yaris GR comes from Toyota’s extensive rallying history, and there’s been substantial input from Gazoo Racing and Tommi Mäkinen Racing, meaning the GR Yaris is to be the homologation model of its next WRC racer.Power is from a three cylinder engine, complete with single scroll turbo. 192kW and 360Nm are the figures quoted, with capacity a huge (for a three potter) 1.6L. Power goes to all four corners via a six speed manual, making it the first Toyota non SUV/4WD to feature all paws being driven since the Celica GT-40 of twenty years ago. A zero to one hundred time is around 5.5 seconds, and top speed is a very decent 230kph.The engine will feature piston cooling via oil jets and the exhaust valves are larger than normal to provide better breathing. A restyled body not only provides better aero but a lighter structure, meaning a power to weight ratio of 6.7kg/kilowatt from the 1,280kg (dry) weight. That restyling features larger wheel arches to cope with the 18 inch diameter alloys that will be standard. They’ll wrap 356mm vented brake discs. Dimensions are 3,995mm for length, 1,805mm in width, and 1,465mm in height. The wheelbase is a massive, for the overall size, 2,558mm. The front track is slightly narrower than the rear, at 1,530mm v 1,560mm.A 91mm lower roofline helps the Yaris GR slice through the air more effectively, whilst the engine has been moved rearwards for a better weight distribution. Compression moulded carbon-fibre polymer and aluminuim paneling (bonnet, doors, tailgate) for the three door shape are the main contributors to the lower mass. Frameless doors help too, and add a more aggressive look to the profile. Underneath there is a new platform (Toyota’s melded the GA-8 front and GA-C rear) which allows for a wider rear track and new double-wishbone rear suspension system. The development team responsible for the Yaris GR also devised reinforcements beneath the side members to ensure the suspension’s performance potential can be realised.Performance for the drive hasn’t been overlooked. Being an all wheel drive hatch, the driveline needs something to help the front and rear work together. Toyota have a “high response coupling” that joins the two but there’s a twist in the twist. This ingenious system uses slightly different gear ratios for the front and rear axles, which are mounted on double wishbone, not torsion beam, suspension components, which allows for a theoretical range of front/rear torque balance from 100:0 (full front-wheel drive) to 0:100 (full rear-wheel drive). This flexibility gives a performance advantage over AWD on-demand systems that use twin-coupling or permanent AWD systems with a centre differential. The GR FOUR system is also considerably lighter in weight.The driver has full control over the way the drive system works. An AWD mode dial switch allows: normal mode with the base front/rear torque distribution is at 60:40; in Sport mode the balance shifts more to the rear with a 30:70 distribution to achieve a “fun-to-drive” quality on winding roads and circuits; and in Track mode the base setting is 50:50 for fast, competitive driving on circuits or special stages. In each mode, the torque balance will automatically adjust in response to the driver’s inputs, vehicle behaviour and road or track conditions.Toyota Australia’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Sean Hanley, said the GR Yaris is the latest in Toyota’s rich heritage of sports cars that include the Toyota 800, 2000GT, Celica, Supra, Corolla AE86, MR2 and 86. “The GR Yaris is an exciting well-rounded vehicle that exemplifies Toyota’s commitment to producing ever-better cars, offering compelling performance that will appeal to a broad range of enthusiasts. It is a rally car for the road that pushes vehicle performance to the limit and will enhance the image of the Toyota and Yaris brands.” he said.Pricing for Australia is yet to be finalised.

(Pictures courtesy of Toyota Australia and Motor Magazine.)

2020MY Hyundai Venue Go & Active vs Kia Seltos S & Sport+: Car Review Title Fight.

This Car Review Is About: Four cars that are the same but different. In late 2019 the Korean companies of Hyundai and Kia released their new, small, city aimed SUVs. Hyundai named theirs Venue, Kia chose Seltos.Both brands went with a four tiered structure. Hyundai has Go, Active, and Elite plus there is a Launch Edition as well. Kia has S, Sport, and Sport+ sitting under the GT-Line.

Where the two basic exterior designs are obvious in relationship, being a stubby bonnet, steeply raked windscreen, wide opening doors, and pert rears, both have their own distinctive stamp. That carries over to the interior look, engine choice, and suspension tune.

How Much Do They Cost?:
Venue Go starts from around $23,630 drive-away. The Active kicks off from $25,200. As of December 2019 Kia is offering the S at $25,990 and with a Safety Pack at $26,990. The Sport+ with 1.6L is $36,490.

Under The Bonnet Is: 1.6L non turbo fours for the Hyundais. Kia starts with a naturally aspirated 2.0L and finishes with a turbo version of the 1.6L in the Sport+ (with 2.0L an option) and GT-Line. Peak power for the 2.0L is 110kW, with the turbo four producing 130kW. Peak torque for Seltos is 180Nm and 265Nm, with the latter available from 1,500rpm to 4,500rpm. Venue’s 1.6L is 90kw and 151Nm at a high 4,850rpm.

Transmission choice for Hyundai is simple with a six speed auto or six speed manual for the Go and Active. Kia has a CVT for all variants bar Sport+ and GT-Line. There’s a dual clutch auto here instead. All Venues are 2WD. The Sport+ with 1.6L is a part time AWD.Economy figures were nearly all sub eight litres. The Sport+ saw a best of 5.4L/100km with a final figure of 7.2L/100km. The Go was similar at 5.9L and 7.4L/100km. The Active saw a best of 6.1L/100km and 7.5L/100km, whilst the S saw a best of 7.7L/100km and 8.6L/100km.

Kia quotes for the urban/combined/highway cycle 8.8L/6.8L/5.5L per 100km for the 2.0L, and 9.5L/7.6L/6.3L per 100km for the 1.6L from their 50L tank. The Venue’s figure, for the auto, 7.2L/9.5L/5.9L per 100km respectively.

Towing is rated as 800kg for the Venue automatics, 1,100kg and 1,250kg is available for the CVT and DCT in Seltos.

On The Outside It’s: A more subdued look from Hyundai, whilst Kia goes for more visual pop thanks to a front bar with fins either side of the slimline grille, and light clusters at each end that evoke Evoque thanks to the swept in wings on the top of the clusters running into the fenders . The lower quarters of the front bar have inserts for driving lights.

Hyundai’s design is quietly appealing, with the headlights, like the Seltos, set mid-height in the front bar. These wear LED driving lights as halos and are separate to the LED strip lights under the full length bonnet. The lower section of the front bar has coloured inserts.

Kia’s styling has the headlights and driving lights in one cluster, again with the main lights set at mid-height. The overall design is busy in comparison to the Venue’s design. Kia also has their trademark bonnet design with a leading edge section holding the badge.

The rear roofline separates the two as well. Venue has a thick C-130pillar and the roof leading into the tailgate. Seltos goes for more glass here, and the tailgate reaches up and into the roofline. Both have a slight upwards kink to their respective rear doors.

The colour palette shows more sparkle from Kia too. The S was a bright bronze-green called Starbright Yellow with the Sport+ a deep burgundy hued metallic red called Mars Orange. Both Hyundais had blue, with the Go a rich, almost navy blue called Intense Blue, and the Active a more aquamarine metallic. The name? “The Denim”.

Steel wheels featured on the Go and S, with alloys for the Active and Sport+. The Go rolls on 185/65/15 and Active has the same on alloys. The S with steel wheels has 205/60/16 underneath and the Sport+ 215/55/17s. 4,340mm is the length for the Seltos, which is 300mm longer than the 4,040mm Venue. Height for the Kia is 1,615mm with roofrails. Venue stands 1,592mm. Overall width is 1,800mm for the Seltos, whilst Venue is slightly narrower at 1,770mm. Ride height for the Venue is 170mm. 177mm is the clearance for the Seltos.On The Inside Is: A variety of looks. The Hyundai design team has opted for a stripped back presentation for the Go and Active. The Seltos S and Sport+ have an immediately upmarket look and feel.The Go and Active have cloth seats, and there are individual looks. The Go has white piping in an almost electrical grid sheet layout and the Active a pair of colour coded GT stripes. The Seltos S has charcoal bolsters and a herringbone grey in the middle, whilst the Sport+ has leather bolsters with a dark grey cloth weave.

Inside the Active and Go is an efficiently laid out dash design. Vents reflect the headlight surrounds with a rounded corner edge shape. There is a dull chrome look on the steering wheel’s lower section and around the dear selector. A drive mode selector is located here, whereas in the Seltos it’s further up and to the side of the selector. The Kia’s feel has more torsion in the twist, the Venue’s lacks any need to apply force. The Venue though offers traction control with Snow, Mud, and Sand, an odd thought given it’s a front wheel drive only vehicle. However the Venue’s spec sheet says there is also variable one touch indicators, at 3, 5, or 7 flashes. For safety’s sake it should be 7 and 7 only.It’s the plastics and layout that mark the Seltos as having a more upmarket look. There’s a different sheen, a different hue, a different tactility to the materials used. There’s a grab handle on the left of the gear selector, the touchscreen is the more favourable looking separate to the dash configuration, and the dash dials are a more elegant monochrome look. Even the speaker covers have a different look, with a pyramid motif for the gloss black metal.Aircon controls for the Venues are rotary dial. The Seltos S has the same, the Sport+ has push button . The Kia’s console is wider and holds push buttons for Hill Descent and Parking sensors off in the S, a diff lock and camera for the Sport+. The Go misses out on warning sensors for reverse parking at the rear, an odd oversight even with a camera as standard fitment. All four Seltos get rear parking sensors. Audio is AM/FM in the Go and Active, whilst the Seltos S is the same. It’s the orphan in the Seltos range when it comes to DAB but with Bluetooth streaming plus app compatibility, DAB streaming won’t be an issue. The Sport+ also offered a wireless charge pad.

Cargo for the Seltos is rated as 433L to 1,393L. Hyundai lists only the rear seats up figure and it’s smaller than Seltos at 355L. The Venue Go also lacks a centre console storage box, whereas both of the Seltos had it.On The Road It’s: A really matter of choice. The Kias run more tautly than the Hyundais, with the Seltos pair feeling more as if the tyres are brought into play to assist in compliance and absorption. The Hyundais have a softer tune, noticeably softer, but not so that they wallow or flop around. It’s actually at times a preferred ride to the Kias, with more give in the ride and therefore somewhat less intrusive.

The 1.6L in the Venue range is a willing and energetic unit. Given the power and torque outputs it has no right to be highly regarded, yet after having the Go and Active autos for two weeks back to back, they showed no sign of underperforming, no indication of being “the little engine that couldn’t”. AWT came away after the review periods more than impressed as the cars slowly grew on us and finished with a positive impression.

The Seltos 2.0L naturally exhibited plenty of spirit as well. It’s a powerplant that shares verve and vitality with the Hyundai’s liveliness. The extra torque provides a more useable drive experience than the still sprightly 1.6L in the Venue, naturally, and didn’t overwhelm the CVT either. The DCT and 1.6L is just as equally well behaved, and the DCT is quite well tuned in the clutch change, at standstill, from Reverse to Drive, with less of a break in transmission engagement. It also has plenty of punch when required, with that flat torque over a 3,000rpm range making highway driving and safety in overtaking efforetless.

The 1.6L Venue requires more of a heavier foot to elicit something approaching similar performance, but it never disappointed. Uphill driving was the only (barely) weakspot with manual downchanges to take advantage of the engine’s willing and revvy nature required. Brakes across the board, as was steering, could not be faulted for both cars.

What About Safety? The Seltos comes with or without a safety pack and in honesty there’s not a lot of difference. AEB (Autonomous Emergency Brake) with FCWS (Forward Collision Warning System)- Cyclist Avoidance is probably the biggest notable change. There is a slightly different Driver Attention Alert for the safety pack in the S, but the S does miss out on BSD (Blind Spot Detection) with RCTA (Rear Cross Traffic Alert) & LCA (Lane Change Assist) plus Rear Cross Traffic Alert. There are also no front sensors.

The Venue Go and Active dip out on Blind Spot Collision Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. They do get the same Driver Alert Warning which beeps to advise the car ahead has moved on. Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) – City/Urban/Interurban/Pedestrian (camera type) and Lane Keep Assist are standard though. All four had the usual safety systems including six airbags.

What About Warranty And Service? Kia’s still a class leader with a standard seven year warranty. Hyundai offers five as standard and until December 31, 2019, was offering seven for cars delivered by then. More on the servicing structure for Kia is on their website. Hyundai’s serving information is also on their website.

At The End Of The Drive. One on one, the Seltos outweighs the Venue in all areas bar one. The emotional tie factor. The Seltos has looks and driveability that appealed more yet the Venue never gave up in efforts to gain respect. It’s slightly smaller overall, doesn’t have the same engine flexibility, and could be considered somewhat dowdy to look at inside and out, yet it still gave its considerable all. Although the preference for us would be for the Seltos Sport+ (and probably the GT-Line), the Venue is by no means a loser simply because it does what it does quietly, efficiently, and and at 100%.

Subaru Joins The Hybrid Family.

Subaru has confirmed its March 2020 launch into the hybrid arena, also revealing it has already achieved significant sales success with its new technology Forester and XV Hybrid e-Boxer All-Wheel Drive (AWD) variants. The innovative Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV) feature identical petrol-electric engines that add a new dimension and choice to Subaru’s range.

XV Hybrid offers over 14% improvement in fuel efficiency over equivalent petrol variants in the urban cycle and over 7% improvement in the combined cycle, while Forester offers improvement of over 9% (compared to 2.5-litre petrol variants) in the combined cycle and over 19% in the urban cycle (when tested in accordance with ADR81/02).

Forester is already Subaru’s best-seller in Australia and the Hybrid AWD variant will launch in February priced from $39,990 (Manufacturer’s List Price), while XV Hybrid, with an exclusive new colour option called Lagoon Blue Pearl, and this will start from $35,580 MLP.

One XV Hybrid AWD variant will be available and two Foresters: Hybrid L AWD and Hybrid S AWD.

Subaru Australia Managing Director, Colin Christie, said: “While we initially see both our e-Boxer mild hybrid system models as niche options in our range, we’ve already got significant interest from fleet customers and also Subaru fans who have long indicated pent-up demand for new technology engine options. “Of course all this new technology is underpinned by our customer must-haves: fun, safety, reliability and great engineering. And we’re confident that the wonderful retained value and whole-of-life cost benefits enjoyed by other new Subarus will also carry over to our hybrids.”

Both hybrid models feature e-Boxer power, which is  a 2.0 litre horizontally opposed Boxer engine that’s linked via Motor Assist to a high voltage lithium ion battery, offering fuel economy benefits, particularly in congested city driving. The four cylinder 2.0 litre engine produces 110 Kilowatts of power at 6,000 rpm and 196 Newtonmetres of torque at 4,000 rpm and features the efficient intake/exhaust Active Valve Control System (AVCS).

The electric motor produces 12.3 kW of power and 66 Nm of torque, and is self-charging, via kinetic energy captured by regenerative braking and coasting. The direct injection petrol engine, Motor Assist and battery combination produce smooth, linear and responsive acceleration. The e-Boxer logic adjusts the power split between petrol and electric to match driving conditions.

It automatically changes between three modes: Motor Assist EV driving, Motor Assist electric (EV) + petrol engine driving, and petrol engine driving. From standstill or at low speed, the vehicle is powered by the electric motor only, for quiet, zero-emission driving. Depending upon vehicle and battery condition, it can operate in fully electric mode up to 40 km/h. When driving in fully electric mode (both forward and reverse), the Pedestrian Alert system emits a sound, to alert people in close proximity. The system operates when the vehicle speed is 24 km/h or less.

At medium speeds, combined power from both the electric and petrol engine produce responsive, linear and more fuel efficient acceleration. At high speed, the Boxer petrol engine exclusively powers the vehicle, while regenerative braking or coasting with foot off the accelerator, recharges the lithium ion battery. Depending upon driving style, the e-Boxer hybrid system can offer improved fuel consumption particularly in urban, stop-go traffic. It also eliminates the unnatural braking feel common to electric-only vehicles.

The e-Boxer hybrid system uses kinetic energy by converting it into electricity, delivered to the battery located in the sub cargo floor, together with the drive motor inverter and DC/DC converter. All are installed in a high-strength frame, with sound dampening and moisture-repelling qualities. The electric motor assist and battery pack are aligned longitudinally, with the motor located near the vehicle’s centre of gravity, while the battery and other components are above the rear axle, also contributing to low centre of gravity and optimising front/rear weight distribution.

An unobtrusive cooling system draws air from the cabin to help maintain the battery at operating temperature and to help ensure better longevity. In Forester Hybrid S, driver selectable SI-Drive,  Subaru’s powertrain performance management system, allows the driver to tailor throttle characteristics by choosing between “Intelligent” and “Sport” modes, for flexible, convenient and enjoyable driving. Subaru’s smooth and efficient Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is mated to the e-Boxer system for ultra-smooth power delivery and torque.

Motor Assist enhances X-Mode off-road capability, through better low speed torque control. X-Mode makes it easier for drivers to safely navigate bad roads, slippery surfaces and steep hills, with just one switch. X-Mode’s status is indicated visually on the Multi-Function Display (MFD) screen. When X-Mode is engaged, at 40 km/h or less, status information is displayed on the MFD and instrument cluster, including Hill Descent Control and Vehicle Dynamics Control. X-Mode centralizes control of the engine, All-Wheel Drive, brakes and other critical components to help ensure safe driving even on poor surfaces. Hill Descent Control helps maintain a constant speed when the vehicle is traveling down hill.

As with the entire Subaru new vehicle range, the hybrid models are anticipated to gain a five-star rating for occupant safety. All Subaru hybrids purchased by private buyers for private use offer a five year unlimited kilometre warranty, plus an eight-year 160,000 km lithium ion battery warranty.

Subaru Hybrid Pricing: XV Hybrid AWD from $35,580 (MLP), Forester Hybrid L AWD from $39,990 (MLP), and Hybrid S AWD from $45,990 (MLP).

In other Subaru news, the brand announced it will not return to the Australian Rally Championship in 2020. After four years of participation under the Subaru do Motorsport banner, the brand has curtailed its domestic rally program while it refocuses its performance car marketing in other areas for the foreseeable future.

The team distinguished itself with a win in the 2016 Championship that made history with driver Molly Taylor becoming the youngest ever (at the time) and first female champion. The 2016-18 seasons were conducted in partnership with Les Walkden Rallying, while Orange Motorsport was the provider in 2019. Despite the end of the current program, Molly Taylor will be retained as a Subaru brand Ambassador and will participate in a variety of events including customer promotions, drive days, dealer network and staff functions.

Subaru returned to the championship in 2016 after a 10 year hiatus.

 

ANCAP Updates.

ANCAP, the Australasian New Car Assessment Program, has released some findings for a range of new vehicles. The standout performer amongst the latest batch of ratings is the updated Tesla Model X which is available from December 2019. It’s achieved a record-equaling high score of 98% for Adult Occupant Protection and 94% for Safety Assist. These scores closely follow the high scores recorded by its smaller sibling, the Model 3, earlier this year.

Full points were achieved for protection of the driver in all four of the full-scale vehicle crash tests (frontal offset, full width, side impact and oblique pole), full points were achieved for lane support and emergency lane keep functionality, and close to full points were awarded in each of the autonomous emergency braking (AEB) test scenarios.

“Tesla should be commended for providing a vehicle which offers very high levels of safety performance both in its physical protection of occupants as well as its ability to help avoid a crash through its active safety systems,” said ANCAP Chief Executive, James Goodwin.

The Audi A7 Sportback and Audi Q8 demonstrated good performance in all assessment areas. New SUV market entrant, the MG HS, also offered good all-round safety however testing revealed a higher risk of injury in side impact crash scenarios.

“Tested to our most stringent criteria, the MG HS scored well, yet concerns were noted for chest protection of the driver in the oblique pole test and head protection for older children in the side impact test.”

Hyundai’s new small SUV, the Venue, scored 4 stars limited by its less advanced safety assist systems. “The Venue fell shy of the 5 star safety standard we’ve come to expect from Hyundai with Marginal performance levels observed for its ability to avoid a rear-end impact with vehicles in front. This limited the Venue’s Safety Assist score to 62%,” Mr Goodwin said.

“The Venue is the first model to undertake Safety Assist performance testing in Australia, following the commissioning of a new test facility in regional NSW,” he added.

MY20 Jeep Wrangler models see autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and blind spot monitoring (BSM) functionality introduced as standard safety features across the Wrangler model range, with performance testing of these systems undertaken by ANCAP earlier this month.

“These upgrades are welcome, and I commend the local supplier for moving to provide Wrangler buyers in Australia and New Zealand with collision avoidance capability,” said Goodwin. “While a 3 star rating is still somewhat shy of the expected 5 stars, all upgraded models now have the ability to detect and assist with avoiding a crash with another vehicle – both in lower and higher speed scenarios.”“Unfortunately the upgraded AEB system fitted to updated models is not yet able to detect our most vulnerable road users in pedestrians and cyclists.” he said.

“Consumers should be aware that the structural deficiencies we saw with the originally-tested model such as A-pillar and cross-facia beam failure, footwell intrusion, high seatbelt loads and excessive pedal movement have not been addressed and remain a risk for occupants,”  he added. Active lane support functionality is also not available. The 3 star ANCAP safety rating applies to all 2 door and 4 door Wrangler variants supplied to the Australian and New Zealand markets built from November 2019.

The Mercedes-Benz CLA (Medium Car) was the top performer for 2019, achieving an overall weighted score of 90.2%. “Well done to the CLA for being named the standout performer,” said  Goodwin.

“It received a healthy five-star score, performing exceptionally well in the areas of Child Occupant Protection (92%) and Vulnerable Road User Protection (91%) where it achieved the highest scores of all vehicles rated this year.”

Top performers by vehicle category:

LIGHT CAR: Audi A1, 86.6%. MEDIUM SUV: Toyota RAV4, 88.6%. SMALL CAR: Mazda 3, 88.4%. LARGE SUV: Tesla Model X, 89.6%.

MEDIUM CAR: Mercedes-Benz CLA, 90.2%. UTILITY: Toyota Hilux, 89.0%. LARGE CAR: Audi A7, 86.0%.

VAN: Toyota HiAce, 87.4%. SMALL SUV: Lexus UX, 89.0%. PEOPLE MOVER: Toyota Granvia, 87.8%

Further details on each of the vehicles rated can be viewed on the ANCAP website:
www.ancap.com.au/safety-ratings