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2020 Nissan X-Trail Ti AWD: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Nissan’s competent mid-sized entry, the X-Trail, into a very crowded SUV sector. It’s a six model range, with ST, ST-L, TS, N-Sport, Ti, and TL…which makes for a slightly confusing way of naming your product from bottom to top. We drive the second from the top Ti.
How Much Does It Cost?: As of mid September 2020 Nissan lists the ST as $28,990, the ST-L from $28,490, and the TS from $40,357. N-Sport starts from $42,876, Ti from $44,490 before topping out at $52,456 for the TL. These prices are drive-away. Premium paints are a $695 option.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.5L petrol engine for the Ti and TL. Otherwise, for models below, it’s a 2.0L petrol for the manual 2WD ST & TS or 2.0L diesel for all models bar ST-L. Power for the petrol 2.5L is 126kW and maximum torque is 226Nm and at 4,400rpm. Nissan quotes economy as 8.3L per 100 kilometres on a combined cycle. Fuel tank size is a standard 60L.
On the Outside It’s: A distinctively styled Nissan family SUV. Grab a picture of both the Qashqai and Pathfinder, enlarge and shrink to the same size as that of a X-Trail, and you’d be genuinely hard pressed at first glance to tell the difference. There’s that signature V grille and LED driving light design up front, the sine wave line from bow to stern, the nicely balanced proportions of bonnet to body, and the arrow-head line for the leading edge of the rear lights. Ti runs 225/55/19 alloys and rubber, with the tyres an all-weather pattern from Bridgestone’s Ecopia range.One of the issues we have with the X-Trail, and it’s by no means alone in this, is the location and size of the headlight indicator lamps. They’re tiny, and buried deep within the middle of the join between the lights and the running lights. There are flashing LEDs in the wing mirror covers however they’re not terribly bright nor easily seen from some angles.

Another niggle is the placement of the button to open the powered tailgate. Most companies logically and sensibly have a tab in the same recess as the number plate. Nissan opted for a separate, and lower in the door, placement. It means a person needs to bend more but also, because it’s not the logical place, more often than not the numberplate recess was reached for first.

On The Inside It’s: A tidier look than the very busy Pathfinder. The centre stack immediately pulls attention due to the far cleaner layout. Nissan include a CD player here and in the X-Trail it sits above the 8.0 inch touchscreen. There are tabs around the outside but underneath is only the aircon control cluster. Tidier it is but still perhaps a little fussy when looking for something quickly. The screen’s layout is dated, terribly dated, and needs an overhaul ASAP.

In contrast, the dash design is a gentle curve and separates driver from passenger nicely as each end runs smoothly into the door trims. The whole cabin ambience is cool without being understated.Audio is DAB equipped, and the usual smartapps apply. Oddly, Nissan have also included links to Google and facebook, and although we didn’t connect to them, we’d hope these only activate when parked. A nice touch in counterpoint was the separate heating circuit for the rear seat, a rare and welcome addition.Leg, head, and shoulder room is better than adequate for four, even with the full length glass roof, but typically a bit squeezy for the second row if looking to get five aboard. Behind the second row is a decent cargo bay with 565L available and increasing to 945L with the second row flattened.There’s are rain-sensing wipers, second row air vents and USBs, plus a 12V socket for the second row passengers.

On The Road It’s: Good enough for most people and this comes from a well sorted driveline combination. Although CVTs do feel as if they sap power and torque, the X-Trail’s pairing is one that doesn’t feel as draining as others. There’s plenty of get up and go, mid-range acceleration is quick enough, and unlike the Pathfinder, when the console mounted drive dial selects 4WD, there’s both a noticeable change and an indicator light on the dash shows 4WD is engaged. There’s the barest hint of torque steer in 2WD but in all wheel drive mode that disappears and there’s a proper sense of weight attached to the rear wheels.It’s a push button Start/Stop system in the Ti. Once the 2.5L is up and spinning, Drive is engaged by a short throw lever, there’s the faintest of clunks, and the accelerator sees the 1,562kg (dry) Ti get underway smoothly. The transmission has the typical CVT wavering at times and is at its best at freeway speeds. That goes for the suspension which is beautifully tuned for more comfort that sporting in the handling, yet and be driven hard without qualms. It damps nicely, initial compliance runs into somewhere between taut and giving, and rarely felt unsettled. Speed-sensitive steering worked the same; there’s lightness when needed, heft when required, and made parking a doddle.

An unexpected feature is the Intelligent Engine Braking system. Downhill runs and the CVT acts as a brake, finding a gear and holding it to ensure no unwanted acceleration. A blip of the throttle overcomes it easily however it mostly needs no human intervention.

What About Safety?: Plenty to like, as expected. Forward Collision Warning and AEB with pedestrian detection but not cyclist. Blind Spot Alert, Rear Cross Traffic, Lane Departure Warning and Rear Park Assist sensors make the Ti a pretty safe bet.

What About Warranty And Service?: Standard five years and unlimited ks, roadside assist for 24/7 for5 years. Servicing is capped price for the first six and prices can be found by using your vehicle’s VIN.

At The End Of the Drive. The 2020 Nissan X-Trail Ti delivers by doing exactly what is asked of it and doing so without raising an eyebrow. It drives well enough, handles well enough, it’s not unattractive and has a high level of safety. Downlights are the tawdry touchscreen look and those almost invisible indicator flashers in the front. And in Ti spec, it’s not an outrageous hit to the bank balance for what is delivered. Head here to find out more.

 

Tucson’s Fourth Generation Is Ready For The World

As foreshadowed in early September, the drastically facelifted Tucson range was officially unveiled on September 15. Now in its fourth generation, the world platform Hyundai Motor Company Tucson brings a short and long wheelbase to further broaden its already large customer appeal. With a timeline stretching back to 2004, and racking up over seven million sales, the new Tucson brings striking new looks and a solid set of tech.There are new engines including a pair of hybrid drive-lines, with a PHEV being one. This isn’t yet in concrete for Australia.

Thomas Schemera, Executive Vice President, Head of Product Division at Hyundai Motor Group said at the launch: “We are thrilled to introduce the all-new Tucson, the latest model in Hyundai’s SUV transformation,” said . “This exciting vehicle sets a new benchmark for innovation in its segment, delivering an impressive blend of design, technology, packaging and performance.” The new Tucson is scheduled for Korean release in September 2020, with models yet to be determined currently stated to arrive in Australia in the first half of 2021. The launch itself was held as a virtual event and shown on the company’s new social media outlet, Hyundai TV, a global contents platform and interactive application for Smart TVs.

Design: it’s what Hyundai have labelled their Sensuous Sportiness idenity. Standing front and centre, literally in this case, is the dazzling new face of the Tucson, from what is called Parametric Dynamics in Hyundai-speak. The Tucson’s body features a set of geometrically intense lines and the front end is a series of “jewel surface” units which hide the head- and driving lights. When lit, they form a boomerang-like shape that then becomes a grille defining area.
The front guards flare before tapering to a sharp point in the front doors. This draws the eyes towards the rear doors that both flare and bring a trapezoid bulge to the redesigned, twin vertical-single horizontal tail-lights. There is a chrome strip that runs from the wing mirror, following the roofline that terminates in conjunction with the newly designed rear lights, which, like the front, are only visible when lit. A subtle touch is the relocation of the Hyundai logo into the rear glass and a hidden look to the rear wiper.

For the petrol engined versions there will be seven exterior colours: White Cream, Phantom Black, Shimmering Silver, Nocturne Gray, Amazon Gray, Flame Red, and Intense Blue, six of which are new for Tucson. In the hybrid range there are White Cream, Phantom Black, Shimmering Silver, and Intense Blue, three of which are new for Tucson.

Inside: It’s a choice of cloth or leather, black or grey for the trims. The SUV’s interior environments come in black or grey tones in either cloth or leather material. Hyundai have upped the visual ante by redesigning the way the cabin looks, with ambient lighting in the top level models, new screens and a refresh of the seating.

Termed Interspace, Hyundai blends the dash with the doors, there’s a sense of more space, a pair of silver lines mimic those on the roof by running from front to rear, and those ambient lights have 64 varying shades. There are also ten levels of brightness.From the front seats, the view is of a pair of 10.25 inch touchscreens (model dependent) with split-screen navigation ability and voice recognition which can enable the new Multi-Command function that allows customers to “warm-up the car”. This covers the heating system, heated steering wheel and seat warmers all via a voice command. There is a driver’s display without a binnacle, and a refreshed look to the air-vents. Some models will have 8.0 inch screens with wireless connectivity for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay plus two phones simultaneously. Spread around the cabin is a new range of soft-touch materials that also visually add class. For the second row, a fold and dive mechanism aims for a flatter surface and an increased cargo capacity, now up to 1,095L of space.A service called Hyundai Digital Key enables drivers to use their smartphone to pair to the car and remotely lock/unlock, and start the engine and climate control from up to 27 metres away. A new feature is called car To Home, and this can allow activation, from the vehicle, of connected smart devices at home. Audio comes from multi-speaker systems thanks to Bose (model dependent). For the climate control, Hyundai looked towards the aerospace industry and used certain benchmarks for their direct and indirect ventilation processes and can indicate levels of pollution in real time in the climate control display.Engines: As mentioned, a pair of hybrids with one a PHEV, with a 1.6L engine for either, or a 2.5L direct-injection petrol engine with 141kW and 246Nm driving a slick eight speed auto. The hybrids should punch around 134kW from the petrol engine and combine with the battery for 171kW. Torque will be close to 250Nm from the petrol and offer just under 350Nm combined, and again run an eight speed auto. Hyundai have engineered in their Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) technology that manages valve opening duration for optimal power, efficiency and emissions with minimised compromise.

Vehicles fitted with Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system have an upgrade to the driving modes. Depending of end-market, those vehicles will now have Mud, Snow, Sand along with the previously supported Eco / Comfort / Smart / Sport driving modes.
Safety: Hyundai’s broad-scope SmartSense safety package includes: Highway Driving Assist (HDA), Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) with pedestrian detection, Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Lane Following Assist (LFA), Blind-Spot View Monitor and Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW). There is also Surround View Monitor, Reverse Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist (RPCA), Remote Smart Parking Assist (RSPA), High Beam Assist (HBA) and Driver Attention Warning (DAW). Extra technology for safety comes from: Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA) with Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA), Advanced Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop and Go, and Safe Exit Warning (SEW). Tucson N Line Goes Global: Hyundai’s growing performance arm, N Line, is looking to add an N Line Tucson for the global marketplace at an as yet unspecified date.

Contact your Hyundai dealer for more details.

Kia Confirms Sorento Details For Australia.

Kia has officially unveiled the forthcoming 2021MY Sorento. To be available in a four trim model range and coming with either a 3.5L V6 petrol engine or a refined 2.2L diesel, with an auto for the petrol and a DCT (dual clutch transmission) for the diesel, the Sorento has been sharpened, redesigned, and upgraded across the board. It’s also the first new Kia to be built upon the brand’s ‘N3’ SUV platform.

The four levels are: S, Sport, Sport +, and GT-Line. The petrol engine will drive the front wheels, the diesel will be powering all four corners. The petrol engine will deliver 200kW and 332Nm, with the diesel spinning Kia’s new wet-clutch DCT. Power from the 2.2L engine is 148kW and delivers torque of 440Nm. The engine itself now has a alloy head and this reduces weight by close to 20kg.

Pricing starts from $45,850 RRP and $46,990 drive-away for the 2WD petrol S. The Sport starts from $48,470 RRP and $49,990 drive-away with the Sport+ at $52,850 RRP and $54,390 drive-away. The GT-Line Petrol sees $60,070 RRP and $61,990 drive-away. Premium paint is a $695 option.

For the diesels in the same trim levels, Kia says the S will start from $48,850 RRP and $49,990. The Sport starts at $51,470 RRP and drive-away at $52,990. In Sport+ trim it’s $55,850 RRP and $57,390 drive-away. GT-Line is $63,070 RRP and $64,990 drive-away. To be built at the Hwasung plant in Korea, the Sorento will come with Kia’s 7-Year unlimited kilometre Warranty, 7-Year Capped Price Service, and 7-Year Roadside Assist.“The outgoing Sorento was a game-changer in the Australian market with previously untapped safety and convenience levels in the segment _ and the all-new model continues to take that story forward,” Kia Motors Australia Chief Operating Officer Damien Meredith said. “Across the four trim levels we believe the Sorento will meet the needs, and exceed the expectations, of anyone shopping in the seven-seat SUV market.” Mr Meredith said that Sorento’s evolution over the last 18 years echoes that of the Kia brand as a whole. “While the car was initially launched in 2002 as a utilitarian body on frame all-terrain vehicle, it quickly evolved into a more luxurious monocoque construction and now, in its fourth generation, Sorento has been transformed into something once again more desirable.”

The exterior design cues start with the signature “tiger grille” and the headlights have a “tiger eye LED DRL. Much like the recently revealed Carnival, lines draw the eye to the headlight design which further creates a tiger face impression. The lower air intake has been revised too, with a more rectangular shape, and again similar to Carnival has wing shaped air curtains to funnel air. Restyled tail lights do away with the formerly horizontally oriented design, and now have a pair of vertically strips with an uppermost angle-forward design that echoes the rear window’s trailing edge.As is common with updates, there has been a change in size. Width is up by 10mm to 1,900mm. Length is up by the same to 4,810mm however the front and rear overhangs have been subtly reduced which makes the Sorento look longer. In between is a wheelbase that’s up by 35mm to 2,815mm.

The new model is 1900mm wide, 10mm wider than the third-generation Sorento. In profile, the proportions of the Sorento are subtly adapted to make it appear longer. The new model is 10mm longer than its predecessor (now 4810mm), yet it features shorter front and rear overhangs. The additional length is found in the wheelbase (a result of the Sorento’s new platform), which has grown by 35mm to 2815mm. The A-pillar has been pushed back by 30mm and leads to a 10mm taller roofline. New styling cues are found with the shark-fin on the C-pillar and the completely redesigned tail lights. The model’s name is emblazoned across the tailgate. Colourwise the new Sorento will offer seven exterior paint finishes with Clear White the standard, plus six Premiums: Mineral Blue (New Colour), Snow White Pearl, Steel Grey, Silky Silver, Aurora Black and Gravity Blue. All trims will have a full-size spare in 17-inch, 18-inch, 19-inch or 20-inch depending on trim level.

The interior also has had the wand waved. The GT-Line will have mood lighting in the door trim and from underneath the dashboard, and will have a pair of digital displays which at 12.3 inch (GT-Line) and 10.25 inch (Sport, Sport+ and GT-Line, 8.0 in S) that will control most of the car’s functions. The layout will provide an almost ultra-widescreen experience. Capacitive touch buttons on the screen sides will provide the control options. Trim materials across the range have been revised with embossed black cloth, leather appointed black cloth and black quilted Nappa leather appointed seats being available depending on the model chosen.Increasing the wheelbase sees cargo and passenger carrying ability increased with 616L growing to 2,011L with all seats folded. With the third row raised there is still 187L available, an increase of 32% compared to the previous model. Controls for the rear seat passengers see a soft touch button to fold the second row. These also have a sliding increase of 45mm for extra access. Third row passengers have an armrest that has increased by 100mm and incorporate a smartphone tray and cupholder.

Ride and handling will be improved in the new 2021 Sorento; the increased wheelbase partners with a 4% tighter bodyshell (made from steel and aluminuim for strength and weight reduction) for increased rigidity and reduced body vibration. Geometry changes to the suspension have increased road-holding and for those that enjoy some off-road action, a new Terrain mode for the diesel engines, operated via a rotary dial in the centre console, provide better traction in Snow, Mud, and Sand.Convenience features include Bluetooth pairing for two phones, three USB ports up front and two for second row passengers (Sport and GT-Line), plus 12V sockets for the third row passengers. Sport+ and GT-Line offer an extra pair of USBs. GT-Line will have a HUD or Head Up Display and a 12 speaker Bose system for pure sounds. The other three models will have six speaker sound.

For safety Kia’s Advanced Driver Assist System, ADAS, includes Kia’s Autonomous Emergency Braking technology with pedestrian, cyclist and vehicle detection. This also detects oncoming traffic when making a turn at a junction. The Sorento is also available with Blind-spot View Monitor (GT-Line only), Surround View Monitor (GT-Line) and Blind-spot Collision-avoid Assist, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Lane Following Assist and Driver Attention Warning. Kia’s ‘level two’ autonomous driving technology, Lane Following Assist (LFA), controls acceleration, braking and steering depending on the vehicles in front. LFA operates between speeds of 0 and 180 kph, using camera and radar sensors to maintain a safe distance from the car in front, while monitoring road markings to keep the Sorento in the centre of its lane.The new Sorento also features a Rear View Monitor (RVM) with Reverse Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist (PCA) (GT-Line only), and Rear Cross-traffic Collision-avoidance Assist (RCCA). In addition, it is also the first Kia available with the company’s new Remote Smart Parking Assist (RSPA) (GT-Line only), which enables drivers to move their car autonomously out of a front-and-back parking space remotely with their key fob. This is designed to make it easier for passengers to get in and out of the car in tight parking spaces or if another driver parks too close to access any of the doors.

RSPA brakes the Sorento automatically if it detects another car, cyclist or pedestrian behind the vehicle or crossing behind it. The Sorento’s Safe Exit Assist feature also prevents rear doors from opening if the vehicle detects a hazard approaching from behind, such as a cyclist or another vehicle. Advanced driver assistance systems with new Remote Smart Parking Assist

There are seven airbags which includes a centre airbag but not a kneebag. There is also Kia’s Multi-collision Brake System, a crash mitigation system that engages the brakes when the system’s airbags have been deployed, further adding safety from other potential impacts.

The 2021 Sorento is available for test drives at Kia dealerships.

2020 Nissan Juke ST: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A substantially changed Nissan Juke. It’s the second model Australia has seen and the first wasn’t received with open arms due to its controversial styling. It’s still not pretty but in the greater context, it is a far better looking vehicle. There are four trim levels: ST (tested), ST+, ST-L, and the top of the range Ti.How Much Does It Cost?: Nissan’s website lists the range as starting from $30,490 drive-away for the ST. The range tops out at $39,490 drive-away.

Under The Bonnet Is: A three cylinder petrol engine with a turbo. Thankfully. Peak torque of 180Nm comes in at 2,400rpm and that’s barely enough to spin the seven speed dual clutch transmission. peak power is double figures at 84kW. In comparison Kia’s Picanto GT-Line has 172Nm but that’s available from 1,500rpm to 4,000rpm. The fuel tank is a decent 46.0L and economy, says Nissan, is 5.8L/100km on the combined cycle and given we’ve been seeing 6.8L/100km on our 70/30 urban/highway sprint, that seems spot on. Dry weight is 1,251kg.On The Outside It’s: A distinctively different vehicle for the second time round compared to version 1. The profile has a similar stance, with a steeply raked rear window line and hidden rear door handles, but it’s the front that has copped the biggest makeover. The distinctive mid-set headlights have been revised to reduce their prominence, and the formerly high-set driving lights that rode the fender’s ridge have been brought down to engage the top of the V grille for a far better integrated look. The rear loses the ovoid and bloated V shaped lights and now have a slimmer, more integrated, look. They’re sharper, have restyled interior designs, and go closer to matching the restyled front.On The Inside It’s: A comfortable place to be for an entry level vehicle. It’s a key start, for, umm, starters, with manual seats and no heating or venting naturally. They do have a surprising amount of lateral support and have adjustable lumbar support too. There is no DAB audio via the 8.0 inch touchscreen which again doesn’t default from the warning screen at all. It does have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.The aircon is a bit off, as the lowest fan speed is sometimes too much in flowing air, and sometimes the coolest setting of the rotary dial is warm air, even when using the slightly redundant non-recirculating air tab. By slightly redundant, one tab to have recirculate on or off should suffice. The centre vents are three, a little unusual in count, and sit in a nicely hued grey plastic. This extends to the storage locker free centre console, which does, at least, house a pair of cup holders. At the dashboard end is a USB and 12V port pairing.

For the driver there is a colour info screen, accessed via tabs on the tiller’s left spoke. It’s friendly to both use and look at. Either side are standard looking analogue dials. It’s the same for the central dash controls; radio and aircon are dials and aside from the airflow, work as they should.Cargo space is decent enough with a lowish lip and a floor that’s under the lip itself. This isn’t terribly common for the class of vehicle as most have either a floor close to the load lip or level with it, so here it’s a pleasant change to be able to drop things down.

It’s the same with the seating and room. There’s good head, shoulder, and leg room for pretty much anyone that doesn’t play football or basketball. Leaving aside the lack of a centre console bin, there was rarely any sense of the front passengers rubbing elbows, and the rear pews, suitable for two people really, delivered no sounds of protest in regards to feeling cramped.On The Road It’s: Jeckyll and Hyde. The engine and DCT combination is abysmal. The DCT is problematic at best, with gaps that the Grand Canyon would think are huge when it comes to swapping between park, Drive, reverse. The time to re-engage is measured by calendars, not seconds. the problem is exacerbated by the time it takes for any torque to arrive on the scene when the accelerator is pressed at a Stop sign, for example. A driver could say “Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice” quicker than it takes for forward momentum to commence.

Once the Juke is underway and there is that characteristic three cylinder thrum, a wonderfully benign chassis is displayed. There’s a proper heft to the steering, good communication from the front wheels, almost agreeable braking feedback as well. It’s almost as if there were two different personalities for the Juke… The chassis dynamics aren’t the best in class but there isn’t a lot to dislike either. It’s decently composed in normal driving situations, with only the bigger and closer irregularities making the Juke feel uncertain on all four corners. Bump thump on speed reducers were noticeable more for the upper end of the suspension feeling softer otherwise the ride quality is of a pleasing enough level.

The best way to get the Juke rolling is with a egg-sensitive squeeze of the throttle. This tends to clamp the clutches together in a smoother manner and allows the progression of the go-pedal to engage the engine in a quicker manner. Coming into traffic from an intersection is where this method worked best, as once the car had some forward movement a harder press saw revs climb and take hold of those 180 torques. Rolling acceleration was much the same. There are two paddle son the steering column and these made a marginal improvement to how the driveline did its thing.The brakes are drum and disc, however the benefit of the Juke’s comparatively light-weight mass overcomes the ancient design of the drums. There was noticeable hints of the system feeling overwhelmed at times, with the ABS on the verge of intruding before deciding to sit back down.

A minor niggle was the Auto Stop/Start. On pickup, a fault light was displayed and using the tab to engage & disengage the feature did not remove it. However, later in the day, the system appeared to have reset as it didn’t show again.

What About Safety?: Juke in ST trim has six airbags, plus what Nissan term “Intelligent Emergency Braking” with Pedestrian and Cyclist detection. That’s elsewhere known as Autonomous Emergency Braking….Forward Collision Alert, reverse camera, Lane Departure and Blind Spot warnings are standard, as is Rear Cross Traffic Alert and rear parking sensors.

What About Warranty And Service?: Nissan offer all vehicle five years worth of 24/7 roadside assistance. That’s a good sweetener to start with. Then five years and unlimited kilometres carry the nice further. servicing costs will vary depending on vehicle however Nissan’s website has a link to allow owners to enter their VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) to provide a more concise pricing idea for the six capped price services.

At The End Of The Drive. The Juke ST suffers mostly from an under-torque delivering engine and a gearbox better suited elsewhere. Our final economy figure was still 6.8L/100km and we couldn’t help but feel that a more conventional transmission or, lawd help us, a CVT, would be better suited for the tiny 1.0L. Aside form that, it’s a decently enjoyable drive, with good handling and ride. It’s roomy enough inside for four and has the features the “younger people” would enjoy with the apps for connectivity.

Check out the Juke ST from Nissan for yourself here.

Australian Car Sales Continue Downwards Trend.

Australia’s Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries has released the latest sales figures for 2020, and not unexpectedly, it shows that the nation’s new car buying habits are continuing to be affected by the pandemic.

August for this year saw 60,986 new vehicle sales. That’s 24,647 or 28.8% less than August of 2019, and includes one fewer selling day or approximately 831 vehicle sales. or -28.8% on August 2019 (85,633) vehicle sales. August 2020 had one less selling day (25.8) than August 2019 and this resulted in a decrease of 831.5 vehicle sales per day. In the Passenger Vehicle segment, August had a reduction of 11,035 for a 42.8% decrease, whilst the Sports Utility segment went backwards by 6,652 or 17.0% compared to August 2019. This month also marked the first time a Hybrid vehicle saw the number 1 spot, with the Toyota RAV4 topping the charts.Last year’s August figures had 1,049 hybrid SUV sales, with this year notching 4,809 sales. In a Year To Date measurement, it’s 20,566 against just 5,205 for 2019. The PHEV or Plug-in Hybrid EV sector also grew, with 74 in August 2020 against 63 for the corresponding moth last year.

The RAV4 range dominated sales on its own, with 24,768 sales YTD and 4,825 for August. In second place was Mazda’s CX5, with 13,830 and 1,884 respectively. The RAV4’s increase represents a YTD percentage increase of 140.5 and a monthly percentage increase of 55.4.

For the 4×4 pick-up sector, Ford’s Ranger outsold the Mitsubishi Triton and Toyota HiLux in August. 2,718 were sold, over 1,278 for the Triton and 936 for the Hilux. On a YTD basis the Ranger was barely ahead of the HiLux, with the figures showing 22,923 over 20,263 whilst Triton’s YTD figures were 10,914.

The RAV4 contributed to Toyota topping the sales charts for August, with 12,449 sales. Mazda took the silver on 6,921 sales whilst the Korean duo took it to the wire. Hyundai notched 4,525 sales, Kia with 4,521 sales, and just shaded Mitsubishi with 4,308 sales. In the Small car segment Corolla just edged the i30, with 1,464 over 1,429, with Kia’s Cerato in third on 1,264. There was a surprise in the Light Cars $25K+ segment, with the Chinese owned MG brand selling 654 MG3s, ahead of Kia’s Rio on 445. The Camry absolute blitzed the under $60K medium segment with 910, whilst the Skoda Octavia stole second over the Mazda6, with 182 to 174.For the Large Car segment in both the under and over $70K bracket, Kia’s Stinger swept all before it with 178, triple that of the Mercedes-E-Class on 53. Kia also dominated the People Mover category, with the soon to be updated Carnival seeing 284 sales. Hyundai’s iMax was a distant second at 72. the Sports cars segment had the Mustang continue its winning way in both under and over $80, with 147 new sales, nearly doubling both the Hyundai Veloster (78) and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe/Convertible (75).

Breaking down the Passenger Car segment has Toyota on 2,700, nudging Kia at 2,515. Hyundai took third with 1,776.

Hyundai Gets Edgy For 2021 With Tucson And Kona.

Hyundai has released teaser images of what looks like a radical new direction for the brand. Tucson has been a solid mover for the company and was given a refresh in 2019. To be formally unveiled on September 15, the images show what Hyundai calls “The mission of ‘Sensuous Sportiness'” and includes a startling front end look.Parametric Hidden Lights is the term, and these LED powered illuminators are embedded in the grille structure, and are visible only when the Tucson powers up. Completely redesigned rear lights bring a sense of Euro style.The car will also be, for the first time, available in a long and short wheelbase offering. The overall size of the vehicle has been increased too with a longer bonnet matched by shorter overhangs. Sharp crease lines bring definition to the profile. Inside is a pair of cockpit-like sections for driver and passenger, separated by a floating console with an embedded touch interface.Kona has been given some freshening as well, both in looks and the range. Hyundai’s N-Line is now part of the range for the popular small SUV. This brings a bespoke look for the N-Line’s motorsport inspired range, with a chin spoiler featuring winglet endplates, Santa Fe style headlights underneath thin LED driving lights, and a sharper delineation to the leading edge of the bonnet line. The grille surrounds have also been redone.The rear has been made-over with the brake lights slimmed down to match the front whilst the indicator clusters have been raised and restyled. The wheel arches are body coloured, rather than the black urethane normally seen.

The “normal” Kona retains the black cladding, and the nose has a more notable alloy-look chin. There’s a resemblance to the N-Line’s design, with each end of the alloy strip bending upwards as if mimicking the winglets. Again the rear mirrors the nose, with a similarly styled alloy look insert here. In addition, there are new wheels and the Kona has grown in length by 40mm.Interior changes make for a fresher look too. LED illumination for the cup holders, and there are new seat cover options which include a black woven houndstooth design, cloth seats with black and grey embossing, and perforated leather seats in black, beige, or khaki.A redesigned console sees it dropped and separated from the dash, emphasising the horizontal lines of the restyled dashboard. And the Kona will have an electric parking brake for that bit of extra convenience.

Tech wise, the Kona gains the 10.25 inch screen as seen in the new i20. An option is the same sized screen with comes with a split-screen function and multiple Bluetooth connections. There will also be DAB radio, and wireless Android Auto and Apple Car Play for convenient wireless connectivity of their phones to the Display Audio system. A new feature and one, sadly required, is Leading Vehicle Departure Alert (LVDA), which alerts the driver if they do not react fast enough when the vehicle ahead of them starts moving. Another is Lane Following Assist (LFA), which automatically adjusts steering to assist the driver to keep in the centre of the lane.

Australian spec models are due for release in early 2021.

 

2020 Nissan Pathfinder ST-L N-Trek: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Nissan’s Pathfinder with the extra N-Trek equipment list. It adds some visual pizazz to the ST and ST-L specification which are two or all-wheel drive, with ours being the AWD ST-L version.

What Does It Cost?: In standard trim, and in V6 all wheel drive form, the Nissan website lists the standard ST-L V6 AWD spec at $64,111 drive-away. Nissan confirms the price as of September as $59,140 (recommended retail plus on road costs) and the N-Trek as $60,640 (recommended retail plus ORC) for the AWD. Opt for the 2WD version and it’s $55,640 (RRP plus ORC) for the standard and $57,140 (RRP plus ORC) for the N-Trek spec. Check with your dealer for your prices due to differing state charges.Under The Bonnet Is: Nissan’s well proven 3.5L V6 that drinks petrol at a quoted figure of 10.1L/100km on the combined cycle. With 202kW (6,400rpm) and 340Nm of torque on tap at 4,800 driving a CVT and an on-demand AWD system, we saw 12.3L/100km on our 70/30 urban to highway drive cycle. The drive system is selectable too, with Auto, a lock for 4×4, or 2WD. Left in Auto it drives the front wheels and splits to the rear as required.On The Outside It’s: Here that the N-Trek specification lies. Our vehicle was in Ivory Pearl, with Caspian Blue, Gun Metallic, Redstone, Brilliant Silver, and Diamond Black the colour options at no extra cost. N-Spec adds blackouts to the body, with a black V-grille, roof rails, door handles, mirror covers, and front and rear garnishes. The alloys are machined and black painted, and 18 inches in diameter. Continental supplies the 255/60 rubber from their CrossContact LX Sport range.

Nissan changed the exterior look some years ago, moving to a more organic looking style, which does a great job of visually minimising the big 5,042mm length. It’s tall and broad too, at 1,793mm and 1,963mm. The rear lights have a hint of Subaru’s older Liberty/Outback wagon, with a distinctive forward pointing V. Up front there’s a somewhat heavy look, with a alloy hued chin splitting the black plastic that runs from front to rear.On The Inside It’s: Showing its age in a couple of key areas. The dash colours and button layouts, plus a smallish 8.0 inch touchscreen look with no visual engagement. There is no DAB, no Android Auto, no Apple CarPlay, no smartphone charge pad. The touchscreen has the standard driver alert safety message but requires a press of the OK section to access the audio or map etc. It doesn’t automatically disengage at all, irrespective of how long it’s left.However, standard leather seats with two-step heating up front, multi-position and lumbar support electrically for the driver, tilt & fold and slide centre row, and pull-strap third row seats go someway to redressing those missing features. Centre row aircon helps for those behind the front seats, and plenty of glass to the sides plus two separate glass roof inserts provide plenty of airy sensation. The second row seats have two levers to provide a fold and slide for a completely flat load area of 2,260 litres from a start point of 461L. That centre row also feels higher than the front.The main control section on the dash is where the Pathfinder’s age is apparent; it’s busy with far too many buttons to take in at a glance. When the Pathfinder powers up and the OK button is pressed, the touchscreen’s default look is a map, and it’s something probably once seen in road map books.

The driver’s info screen is better, if not quite intuitively linked to the tabs on the steering wheel. A small recessed and not especially colourful screen shows the drive mode, economy, driver and car settings etc, but a rocker tab on the tiller that one would reasonably expect to move info around is actually the station selector for the radio.Nissan, though, have hidden away a surprise or two. The touchscreen has an apps button, and this takes you through to driver oriented info such as a G-meter, fuel flow and consumption, compass and steering orientation. It’s an odd thing given what is missing, but no less odd than having a 13 speaker premium soundsystem but no digital audio…

A CD player is fitted for those that do like their digital sounds and Bluetooth phone connection with voice recognition add some extra tech. Four 12V sockets are onboard, with three up front. The centre row faces the third zone aircon controls and a pair of USB ports.Forward vision is very good except for the 10 and 2 from the driver’s seat. The A-pillars are on the thick side and provide a blind spot that on some intersections blanked off traffic.

On The Road It’s: A rolling definition of a mixed bag. The V6 is a free revver and when spun in anger emits a decently rorty tune. The CVT is never truly terrible but there’s a sense it holds back the engine’s willingness. Off the line acceleration is ok in the sense that ok is quick enough but could be better. Underway it purrs along quietly and the CVT is geared to see under 2,000rpm at highway speeds. The ratio changes are noticeable but not excessive in their obtrusiveness to the way the Pathfinder feels whilst underway, and the CVT kicks down readily when required. There’s no manual shift option but a Sport mode, via a press button on the drive lever, is available. For the most part it’s superfluous.There’s a truly odd sense to the way the steering feels too. There’s an underlying sense of weight from torque steer, especially at parking speeds, but the steering is in need of constant attention, requiring hands-on 100% of the time. This brings, then, a sense of lightness in a truly odd contrast to that torque-steer heft. For all that, it’s by no means a hard car to steer.

Ride quality hovers somewhere around good; it’s supple enough, reasonably well tied down, but does exhibit some float at the top end of the suspension travel. It stands out by doing what it’s supposed to do but it does lack that sharpness, that crispness, as found in its competition.Most road surfaces are levelled out, sketchy surfaces tend not to duly trouble it. Perhaps some of that lack of sharpness is down to the near two tonnes (dry) mass the multi-link rear and strut front suspension deals with. By the way, it’s not intended to be anything other than a gentle soft-roader, with just 180mm of clearance underneath.

What About Safety?: There is a 360 degree camera system, for starters, Blind Spot Warning, Intelligent Cruise Control, and six airbags. Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Tyre Pressure Monitoring are also standard. Just in case, there is also second and third row occupant warnings and reminders. Rear sensors are standard, yet no front sensors are fitted.

What About Service And Warranty?: Five years, unlimited kilometres, and capped price servicing. It’s a 12 month or 10,000 kilometre cycle, with costs being $290 for the first service, $309 for the next, $458 for the third, $367 for the fourth, $314 for the fifth and $502 for the sixth.

At The End Of The Drive. The extra visuals from adding N-Trek aren’t quite enough to overcome the age of the Pathfinder, with the cluttered dash and lack of now commonly accepted features (smartapps, front sensors, for example) adding to the ticks lost collection. On the plus side is the reasonably neutral ride, the flexibility of the seating, and the seven seats themselves. It’s absolutely a family oriented, and family friendly, machine, but an update to bring it closer to its immediate competition. That’s longhand for “needs to get closer to the Koreans”.

Otherwise there are a few from Europe and a couple from Japan that can be compared, both favourably and non. From our point of view, the Pathfinder isn’t quite the winner but it’s not quite the loser. Drive one yourself at your Nissan dealership and check out the ST-L here.

2020 Peugeot Expert SWB Diesel Auto: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Peugeot’s short wheelbase Expert van, also known as Standard. There is a long wheelbase version too. Diesel is the sole fuel source and the long wheelbase is auto only. Other than the basic white, there are four other exterior colours including Platinum Grey, Aluminuim Grey, Perla Nera Black, and Flame Red.

How Much Does It Cost?: Peugeot list this at $50,490 driveaway right now, but it’s worth checking the website and using your postcode to ensure your locality gives you the right price.

Under The Bonnet Is: A EURO5 2.0L diesel for the automatic SWB Expert. Peak power and torque are 110kW and a very handy 370Nm which is on tap from 2,000rpm. The auto is Peugeot’s EAT6 however we did see in the driver’s binnacle display a D7…There is a 1.6L and manual combination also available for the Standard. The auto is smooth and at times the only notice of change in ratio is the flicker of the tachometer’s needle.

Economy was 7.8L/100km from the 69L tank, with the Expert being driven unladen, and with under 1,000 kilometres on the clock. That’s not far from Peugeot’s own 7.3L/100km official figures. We should also point out that the naming system Peugeot uses (115, 150 etc) is for the horsepower, not kiloWatts.

On The Outside It’s: White, for the most part, and boxy, for the most part. Should one opt for the other colours, it’s a $690 option. The front is Peugeot’s family look including the fin insert in the headlight clusters, and it’s that nose that saves the Expert from being a box on wheels. There is also a solid black bumper with driving lights, with the rear sporting a small black bumper. Small black strips fit into creases on the flanks of the doors. Each end has parking sensors.

Wheels are steel and at 16 inches in diameter not as big as expected. Rubber is from Michelin’s Agilis range at 215/65 in profile. Each side has a lightweight feeling sliding door, and the rear doors are barn-doors. In profile it looks much shorter than its 4,959mm overall length.On The Inside It’s: More car-like than van-like bar a couple of van necessities. There is a storage nook up on the top of the dash, and a pair in the front of it. Dials are analogue, the touchscreen features Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as there is no DAB, and it’s all rather quite nice to engage with.For the driver there is an unexpected feature: paddle shifts. Drive is engaged via a dial, not a lever, and a small button marked M allows for the paddle shifts to be used. Yes, they’re effective. Seating is for three, and comfortable with cloth coverings. The plastics are an easy on the eye mix of greys and blacks. Inside the cargo area is enough space for 5.8 cubic metres of cargo, with a height of 1,640mm, a length of 2,512mm, and width of 1,636mm. Peugeot says overall cargo weight is 1,300 kilograms. There is also what Peugeot calls a Moduwork module that’s located under the passenger’s seat, with an insulated storage box. Tiedown hooks aplenty are available including in the footwell for the passengers. For convenience there are also three 12V sockets. The spare is a full sized unit also. On The Road It’s: Also very car-like in ride and handling. The steering has a variable ratio for easy parking and enough heft for highway driving to feel cruising is its nature rather than a commercial vehicle. Although the rubber is specified for the type of vehicle the Expert is, there’s no shortage of grip and plenty of compliance across the varying road services. Getting into undercover parking is also easy thanks to the height overall and that superb steering feedback at most speeds, however it can feel a little twitchy at times. With 3.5 turns lock to lock it can be lived with.Getting underway is quick, with a twist of the key seeing the 2.0L diesel spring into life almost instantly. There’s plenty of go from there, and interestingly the diesel doesn’t exhibit any noticeable turbo lag. From a standing start or on the highway, the right foot is totally in command. Rolling acceleration is smooth in a linear fashion without being shove in the back in nature. It makes for a lovely driving style and of course would ease that potential for seeing cargo being suddenly shoved backwards.Actual ride quality is tuned, naturally, towards the commercial side of things but it really is surprisingly car-like in nature. McPherson struts are up front, and oblique wishbones hold up the rear, with absorption and rebound very quick in response and disappearing.What About Safety?: Again, it’s heading towards a passenger car with Video enable Autonomous Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning, and Blind Spot Alert. Driver Attention Warning and Speed Recognition are standard also. Airbags cover driver, passenger, side, and curtain areas.

What About Service And Warranty?: A very good five years or 200,000 kilometres for warranty of light commercial vehicles. Capped price servicing applies and is distance dependent.

At The End of the Drive. Peugeot, like many of its competitors, has cottoned onto the fact that endowing a van with car-like qualities is a good thing. This shows with the slowly increasing number of LCVs that can be purchased as a passenger van in some way.

The Expert is a very good ride in any case, with the tractability of the engine, that super slick auto, passenger car ride quality, and a non-van look to the dashboard itself. For those that like their vanilla with a bit of spice, the Peugeot Expert should be om the list. Check out the 2020 Peugeot Expert for yourself.

Safe and Not-so-safe Cars

With good safety credentials being an important factor with any new car purchase, it was interesting to find out that a few new cars didn’t perform as well as I’d expected they may.  The tests were carried out over the 2018-and-2019 period by the team at the Euro NCAP facility.  The following are four of the worst 2018/2019/2020 cars you’d want to crash in.  Then come the best current cars you’d want to be in if you were involved in a serious crash.

NOT SO GOOD:

Jeep’s Renegade 4×4 SUV, in the frontal crash test, showed it as being a bit weak in offering good support during the frontal impact.  Your neck is an important part of your body, and it was evident that the systems weren’t quite up to speed.  Also the pole test found the car’s structure to be weak in protecting the front seat occupant.  Poor whiplash protection during a rear collision, and weak protection during the side pole test showed the Jeep Cherokee as being a bit light.  This was its reason for scoring just the four out of five stars.

Sadly, the small Suzuki Jimny 4×4 only scored a three-star crash testing result.   The structure isn’t up to the task of keeping its occupants safe in pole tests and frontal crash tests.  Even the airbag didn’t have the pressure to prevent the dummy bumping its head on the steering wheel –ouch!

A big surprise came my way when I discovered that the Jeep Wrangler scored just a one-star out-of-five for overall safety capability during the crash tests carried out by the Euro NCAP team.  The windscreen pillars and the footwall structures reached their full limit of protection – due to their serious deformation patterns when put through the frontal impact test.  You wouldn’t want to be going faster than 40 mph!

Least safe is the Fiat Panda.  It didn’t score any stars of the five available.  Enough said!

 

VERY GOOD:

Euro NCAP calculate the best vehicles from their weighted sum of the scores in Adult Occupant, Child Occupant, Pedestrian and Safety Assist assessments for every car tested.  According to Euro NCAP, the best-of-the-best in 2019 happened to be the:

Supermini: Audi A1 and Renault Clio

Small family car: Mercedes-Benz CLA and Mazda3.

Large family car: Tesla Model 3, BMW 3-Series and Skoda Octavia.

Small Off-Road/MPV: Subaru Forester

Hybrid and Electric: Tesla Model 3

Larger off-road: Tesla Model X and SEAT Tarraco – which shares its DNA with the Volkswagen Tiguan and Skoda Kodiaq.

There are some nice cars in the list above.  It’s great to see Subaru still delivering the goods along with the German marques.  Looks like Tesla has their cars well sorted, as well.

2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Active-X Diesel: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: The newly added, to the Santa Fe range, Active-X trim level. It brings the Santa Fe into line with its smaller sibling, Tucson. There’s one transmission, two engines, and four trim levels now, being Active, Active-X, Elite, and Highlander.

How Much Does It Cost?: It’s a bit more than expected, at $47,020 plus on-road costs for the petrol fed 3.5L V6, and $50,050 plus on-road costs for the 2.2L diesel. That’s a increase of $3,030 compared to the Active but $5,050 cheaper than the mid-range Elite.

Under The Bonnet Is: Hyundai’s familiar 2.2L oiler, driving the front and rear wheels via a mostly on-song eight speed auto. 147kW is the peak power, however the numbers to look at are 440Nm from that comparatively small engine. Compare that to the 336Nm at higher revs inside the 3.5L petrol V6 and immediately there’s a sense of why the diesel is, on paper, a better choice.The diesel has a starting weight of close to 2,000 kilos yet returns an economy figure of 8.6L/100km on our 70/30 urban to highway test. Hyundai quote 9.9L/100km for the urban cycle and 7.5L/100km on the combined from the 71.0L tank. Towing is rated at 2,000 kilos braked.

On The Inside It’s: A seven seater with the delightfully easy pull-strap system for the third row. The driver’s seat is manual lever arch in movement, not powered. For the Active-X, the extra trim means leather bolstering for the seats with black or dark beige being available. There is privacy glass at the rear. Being a Santa Fe, interior room is no issue. There is 995mm of head room for the centre folding row and 917mm for the third row. Leg room is 1,048mm to 1,120mm up front, and a whopping 1,001mm for the centre. The rear has 741mm. These are courtesy of the wheelbase of 2,765mm. 547L to 1,625L is the cargo space available. Thankfully, Hyundai fit a full sized spare wheel too.There is no DAB nor satnav natively, relying on smartphone connectivity to provide those. However a nice touch is the vented glove-box, rain sensing wipers, push button start, and auto headlights. The dash itself is a pair of deep scallops with a switchable binnacle design for right and land hand drive markets and this sits above a dark grey, diamond shape embossed, strip that runs from either side. There’s soft touch material for the rook lining and pillars. the front seats have seat pockets for the centre row passengers, who also gain a pair of charging sockets and airvents, including a roof mounted outlet.On The Outside It’s: Got a satin chrome finish to the door handles, courtesy light at night, and 10 spoke, dual blade, turbine style wheels of 18 inches in diameter. Hankook supplies the rubber at 235/60 from their Ventus range. Folding mirrors hide puddle lamps as well. The exterior is now around two years old, with the eyebrow LED driving lights that many people believe are headlights and use them that way at night. The actual headlights have been dropped further down to bracket the Hyundai grille in their own recessed section. A strong feature line joins the upper edge of the driving lights with the tail lights. Indicators here are down in the lower bumper rather than at a safer, eye-height level inside the tail lights.What About Safety?: It is typical Hyundai, meaning there is virtually nothing missing. Under their SmartSense banner, the Santa Fe Active-X has forward collision avoidance and autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot assist, driver attention warning, high beam assist, lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, rear occupant alert, and adaptive cruise control with stop-go. So if you manage to crash this you’ve stamped yourself as special, and not in a good sense. There is also a rear view camera with guidelines on the screen, tyre pressuring monitoring (across the range) and six airbags.What About Warranty And Servicing?: Warranty is standard at five years and unlimited kilometres. Servicing is variable and comes under a couple of options.

On The Road It’s: Mostly benign and easy to drive. The torque of the 2.2L is light-switch variable from a standing start, and requires both a gentle foot and an understanding of how some engines go from mild to wild. That peak torque is available between 1,750 to 2,750 rpm and it comes into play very quickly. What this means is a gentle squeeze of the go-pedal is required, otherwise it’s the more typical, and still annoying, deep breath then kapow as the torque suddenly arrives, rather than a more linear delivery. That’s the bad news.

Otherwise it’s as easy to drive as can be imagined. The eight speed auto surges, or “flares” in conjunction with the engine revs initially but is otherwise fluid, smooth, quick to react. the engine is a free-revver, allowing for bare flexing of the right ankle to see overtaking done easily, or simply waft along in relative quiet. Rolling acceleration is pin your ears back quick too, with the eight speed auto silently responding to the demand and dropping down through the cogs easily before climbing back up with the same sense of quiet.

Steering can feel heavy, which is strange given it’s quick in having just 2.5 turns from lock to lock. Heavy, though, only at very low speeds; get the Santa fe Active-X up and running and it lightens up slightly, with still a sense of weight in the effort.

Naturally there are drive modes and we drove ours mostly in Smart, the learning mode that adapts the transmission and engine package to suit the driving style. Otherwise there are also Sport, Comfort, Eco, which are preprogrammed and can be very handy depending on the intended drive route. The suspension itself seems more attuned to Sport with the MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear feeling quite taut. It easily absorbs the smaller yumps and bumps before tightening up, decreasing rebound and floatiness.The brakes bite well however the vented front discs are just 320mm. This brings in that fine line of measuring the speed against the rate of slowing, as more than once the brain said the effort was spot on yet the gap to the vehicle in front was closing quicker than expected.

At The End Of the Drive. The Active-X is that ideal gap-filler and also adds extra appeal to the Santa Fe. The spec level seems to fit the younger family that are tech-savvy by using teh smartphone compatibility for audio and navigation, but not necessarily chasing some of the upper luxury features. By having the seven seats, with the completely flat folding third row, it provides them that flexibility for the family as well.