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Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Holden Equinox LTZ-V

As Holden transitions from a builder to an importer, an important part of the plan to do so successfully is to increase and improve its model range. The new Commodore is being rolled out, the new Astra sedan and hatch is in showrooms and the long serving Captiva is slowly being wound back as the new nameplate for the mid sized SUV takes over. Here is the 2018 Holden Equinox LTZ-V.The five model range starts with the LS. With the manual it kicks off the range at $27990 RRP (plus ORC). It’s $2000 for the auto. The LS+ is a $3000 premium over the LS and the first of the LT range at $36990. The LTZ/LTZ-V are $39990 and $46290 respectively. The AWD option on the LTZ is an extra $4300 however it’s standard on the LTZ-V and selected via a button in the front centre console.It’s a choice of two engines available. Both have a turbo and are a 1.5L or 2.0L capacity. A diesel is due later in 2018. The 1.5L will be found in the LS and LS+ with the 2.0L servicing the LT range. The LTs come with a nine speed auto as standard with the LS getting a six speed manual and auto.The auto has no paddle shifters nor side movement for manual changing. The selector in the LTZ-V has a + and – rocker switch on the top of the rather long throw selector. Holden say the Equinox should see the ton in around seven seconds. It’s slick and smooth under most driving situations however was caught out sometimes from start, with hesitant, jerking, unsure decisions initially.

The 2.0L produces 188kW and 353 torques with that peak torque on tap between 2500 – 4500 rpm. The 1.5L isn’t far off with 127kW and 275Nm. The preferred tipple of the 2.0L is 95RON. Combined fuel consumption is quoted as 8.4L/100km from the 59L tank in the LTZ-V. It’s 55L in the others. Economy finished at 9.0L/100 km.The LTZ-V gets plenty of high level tech and comes well loaded with standard equipment. However there’s really not that much to differentiate between it and the other LT models. A full length glass roof is one obvious difference. Driver friendly Advanced Park Assist in the LTZ and V is another. Auto levelling LED headlamps, LED tail lights, remote engine start (all LT models) and chrome roofrails complete that. The roof itself is moved via two tabs and they don’t have the same edge feel to know when you’ve got hold of them.The interior of the LTZ-V is a nice place with heating AND venting for both leather front seats. They look a little slabby but aren’t noticeable in lacking support. Surprisingly, gratefully, they’re there for the rear leather clad seats too with rear seat passengers getting a pair of USB ports, a 12V socket, rear air vents and a 230V socket. It’s of a different configuration than the Aussie 240V sockets so a converter for anything like a portable fridge will be needed.Full colour LCD screens greet the driver and passengers in the LTZ-V and light up in vivid blue. It’s a dash mounted eight inch touchscreen with Holden’s MyLink system on board for apps and entertainment, including a Bose speaker system to complement the DAB audio and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. The layout is clean and usage is largely intuitive. The sound itself is as expected from Bose and the sensitivity of the DAB tuner is better than that found in Kia’s Stinger. The upper dash is also Euro influenced, with the sweeping arc that runs from door to door and stitched soft material look and feel. There’s even a notch in the front console for wireless smartphone charging for compatible handsets.

The smaller screen for the driver has info made available via the rubberised arrows on the right hand spoke of the heated steering well. It’s not as easy to navigate as the same found in say a Mitsubishi or Kia but does the job well enough.All four windows are auto down, however just the driver gets auto up, which in a top of the range vehicle is an odd decision. The tail gate is power operated and can be opened and closed from afar via the remote plus there’s a tailgate height dial in the driver’s door near the bottle holder. Foot operating openin is available however is intended for use when your hands are full. There’s 848L or cargo space, a hidden storage locker between the main floor and space saving spare, and increases to 1796L with the rear seats folded.

Safety levels are high across the range with Autonomous Braking from the LS+ upwards, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning. Following Distance Indicator and Forward Collision Alert with Head Up Alert (flashing red lights) and a vibrating seat cushion that gets input from the parking sensors is there as well. There’s no driver’s kneebag however. It’s this level of tech and features that has a slightly confused feel for AWT about the range structure.Outside it’s a mix of corporate GM and hints at the Astra sedan as being the base sheetmetal, especially at the rear. The noticeable Vee shaped nose and grille structure leads to a bonnet with deep scallops either side, a crease line from the top of the front wheel arch which joins the door handles front and rear to the tail lights. There’s a difference at the rear windowline, much like Ford’s Territory, in that the thicker part of the rear window is the C pillar, where the rear door meets the end of the car, rather than above the tail lights.Ride and handling from the McPherson strut front and four link independent rear is on the slightly taut side. It was never harsh but noticeable in that smaller bumps transmitted more into the cabin. The steering has a weighty feel, with minimal understeer at speed, but somehow the steering translates into a wider than expected turning circle which makes parking and three point turns not as easy as expected. It’ll shift lanes well enough though and do so with minimal fuss.

Being a predominantly front wheel drive car there were also occasional chirps from the front tyres when launched. Corners at speed were despatched with indifference, straight line stability is spot on, and that taut suspension pays for itself when dealing with the varying surfaces of the roads travelled, with dips, wallows, undulations, almost unfelt.The rolling stock is a decent size, with 19 inch alloys wrapped in 235/50 Ventus Prime rubber from Hankook. Although city oriented they did a credible job getting through and over enough rock, sand, gravel, and mud to show some off road cred. With AWD selected, the gear selector moved into L, and Hill Descent mode engaged, the LTZ-V, although not a dedicated off roader, managed some parts of AWT’s test track with only a few moments of will it/won’t it.Warranty is starting to lag, with just three years or 100,000 kilometres on offer. There is however a choice of extended warranty, for 12/24/36 months. There’s also free roadside assist for the first year with another two for free if you get your car serviced by Holden.

At The End Of The Drive.
Holden is still in a period of shaking down what it will deliver to Australian car buyers. With the LT and LS+ to be reviewed separately, the Holden Equinox LTZ-V has made a solid enough impression. It’s the similarity of features in the LT level that may not though have many people opting for the V spec with the glass roof and AWD systems as standard. With over $7000 difference between the two these two features on their own may be seen as unnecessary enough for many to not spend that extra.

There’s no doubt though that the 2.0L engine, the transmission, and the general fit and finish is high enough to wipe away any lingering doubts. Certainly, compared to a Japanese brand that will be also reviewed separately, it’s far ahead of what that car has and in LT form will more than likely have both the features and price point that will meed customer expectations.
Here’s where to find more: 2018 Holden Equinox

2018 Kia Stinger Si V6 and GT-Line Turbo Four: Car Review

There’s been few cars released into the automotive market that have divided opinions as much as the new 2018 Kia Stinger. Available in three trim levels and with a choice of two engines mated to the single transmission offered, an eight speed auto, the Stinger spent a fortnight with me, in V6 twin turbo Si and top of the range GT-Line turbo four.The Si sits in the middle of the V6 range and is priced at $55990 plus on roads and options. The GT-Line with the turbo four is the same price and came clad in a gorgeous $695 option Snow White Pearl paint. There’s the standard seven year warranty and capped price servicing over the seven years, with the V6 being a total of $221 over the turbo 4.The V6 is the driver’s pick and backing up the four straight after sees it suffer in comparison. The 3.3L capacity V6 has a peak power figure of 272 kW at 6000 rpm and a monstrous 510 Nm of torque from 1300 to 4500. The four in comparison is 182 kW at 6200 rpm, and maxes out a torque figure of 353 Nm between 1400 to 4000 rpm. Although the V6 has a tare weight of 1780 kilos versus the four’s 1693 kg, it gets away cleaner and quicker, overtakes quicker, and will comfortably beat the four to the ton. Surprisingly, the required fuel is standard ULP and comes from a 60L tank.

Consumption is quoted for the V6 as 10.2L/14.9L/7.5L per hundred for the combined/urban/highway. The four isn’t much better, at 8.8L/12.7L/6.5L. AWT’s final figure for the six was 11.6L/100 km and for the four a slightly more reasonable 9.3L. These figures are slightly disturbing, in all honesty, as they’re more or less line-ball with the V8 engine seen in Holden’s VF Commodore and over the slightly bigger naturally aspirated 3.6L V6.There is a trade-off for that consumption and in the case of the V6 it’s the extraordinary driveability it offers. Off the line, and bear in mind it does offer Launch Control, it’ll see the 100 kmh mark in a quoted 4.9 seconds. There’s absolutely no doubt in that claim apart from a possibility it’s conservative. On a 48 hour trip to Dubbo in the central west of New South Wales, those 510 torques were so very useable in overtaking, with times to get up and pass and doing so safely compressed thanks to that torque.By having such an amount available through so many revs makes general, every day, driving unbelievably easy, with such a docile nature it’ll happily potter around the suburbs as easily as it will stretch its legs out in the country. The throttle setup is responsive to a thought, and there’s a real sense of urgency in how it all happens. There’s a bi-modal exhaust and this cracks a valve in the rear pipes allowing a genuine crackle and snarl from over 2500. Otherwise it’s a vacuum cleaner like woofle that can become wearying very quickly.The four, as mentioned, suffers in comparison, lacking the outright flexibility the bigger engine has. Note: “in comparison”. On its own the 2.0L turbo four, as found in the Optima GT and the sibling Sonata from Hyundai, is a belter. Paired against the big brother 330 it is slightly slower, slightly less able, slightly less quick to get going from a good prod of the go pedal as it waits for the turbo to spool up. Overseas markets do get a diesel and this is potentially the engine that Kia should replace the petrol four with. As long, as long, as it offers comparable performance to the V6.

The eight speed auto in both cars is a simple joy to use. All of the words that mean slick and smooth can be used here. Changes are largely unfelt, rarely does the backside feel anything other than forward motion as the ratios change. And naturally there’s different drive modes. Comfort is the default with Eco, Sports, Custom (GT-Line) and Smart the others and accessed via a dial in the console. However, somewhat confusingly, you can access a menu via the seven or eight inch (trim level dependent) touchscreen and set the steering to Sports, engine/transmission to Sport, and suspension to Sport yet have the driver’s display show Comfort from the dial setting.In Sport, the transmission doesn’t change any more cleanly but will hold revs longer and feels as if the shift points themselves change. There’s no manual shift mode as such; what this means is that the gear selector doesn’t have a side push or buttons to do a manual change. There are paddle shifts and once used doesn’t stay in manual mode but reverts quickly back to auto. What this means for the driver is simple piece of mind and not having to worry which mode the transmission is still in.Roadholding and handling from both was nigh on nearly impeccable. BUT, and it’s an odd one, the V6’s mechanical limited slip differential rear had more of a propensity for skipping sideways even on flat and relatively settled surfaces. A slight bump, a ripple, and the rear would move just enough to alert you of it. The Stinger has a big footprint though, with a 2905mm wheelbase inside the 4830mm overall length.Track front and rear also helps at over 1650mm minimum, as do the offset tyres of 225/40 & 255/35 on 19s for the Si and GT-Line six and GT-Line four. The others have 225/45/18s. And it’s McPherson struts front matching the Aussie tuned multilink rear that provide the superb roadholding the Stinger exhibits. The steering is precise, well weighted, en pointe, and tells you exactly how the road is feeling.There’s Launch Control on board as well and it’s a fairly simple matter to engage. Traction control gets turned off, the car must be in Sports mode, AND the computer must be happy with the engine temperature. It’ll also limit the amounts of attempts. Brakes in the V6 come courtesy of Brembo, however seats of the pants says the brakes in the four cylinder equipped Stinger are just as able.Design wise the Stinger foreshadows and continues a coupe like look for a five door sedan or four door hatchback. It’s a long, flat, E-Type-ish bonnet that has two faux vents. Apart from aesthetic reasons they’re pointless. Why? Because there’s vents in the front bumber into the wheelwell and from the rear of the wheelwell that exits from vents in the front doors. The roofline tapers back in a gentle curve before terminating in a rear that’s a cross between an Audi A5 and Maserati. The rear lights themselves are Maserati and LED lit front and rear in the GT-Line. Inside there’s plenty of legroom in the rear, a slightly compromised cargo space at 406L due to the hatchback style, a power gate for the GT-Line, and a stylishly trimmed interior. Plastics, for the most part, look high quality, and the overall presence echoes something from Europe, perhaps Jaguar, in this case. The central upper dash mounted seven inch touchscreen that looks as if it rises and falls, ala Audi, for example. It’s mostly intuitive, clean to read and use, but sensitivity needs to be upped as sometimes two or three taps were required to activate a menu. There’s DAB radio and here there’s a minor hiccup.With other brands tested with a DAB tuner, in comparison the one used in the Stinger also lacked the sensitivity found in others, with dropouts in more areas in comparison. There’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus voice recognition, with the middle and top range Stingers having nine or fifteen speakers with under front seat subwoofers. Harman Kardon is the feature brand in the GT-Line. As an overall presentation is pretty damned good, yet there’s still a sense of, in the top of the range GT-Line especially, that it lacks a knockout punch, and doesn’t seem to visually say this is a premium vehicle.The menu system on the touchscreen includes safety options such as voice warning for school zones, merging lanes and such like. Although an eminently worthwhile feature it became tiresome very quickly. Thankfully the voice presentation can be deactivated. Extra safety comes in the form of a forward camera and 360 degree camera depending on the model. The 360 degree version superimposes a Stinger top down view into the picture on one side of the screen and shows whichever camera view selected in the other. It’s super clear and immensely handy for parking. Another Euro feature is the rocker and Park button design for the gear selector. Foot on brake, press a tab on the selector, rock forward for Reverse or back for Drive. Inexplicably, the GT-Line had more issues correctly selecting Reverse or Drive.Only the driver’s seat is electrically powered however both front seats are vented but only in the GT-Line (for the Australian market, this is a must) and heated. A slight redesign has these operated via simple console mounted rocker switch that lights blue for venting, red for heating. Across the range they’re supportive, comfortable, and do the job well enough, along with the ride quality, that you can do a good country drive and feel reasonably good at the break. The GT-Line also features two position memory seating and a pad for smartphone wireless charging for compatible smartphones. It’s a leather clad tiller and the GT-Line gets a flat bottomed one but the material felt cheap, as did the buttons under the three central airvents in comparison to the good looking interior design.Even the base model is well equipped for safety; there’s seven airbags for all models, front seatbelt pretensioning, pedestrian friendly AHLS or Active Hood Lift System before moving to Lane Keeping Assist and Advanced Smart Cruise Control (with forward collision alert and autonomous braking) in the V6 Si. The GT-Line gets Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, High Beam Assist, and Dynamic Bending Headlights.Naturally there’s Kia’s class leading seven year warranty and the fixed priced servicing. The turbo four is cheaper from start to finish, with a gap of just three dollars for the first, two for the second, before the third service opens it to fifty. The final service sits at $785 for the V6 and $696 for the four.

At The End Of The Drive.
The easiest way to consider this is that, as a first attempt, Kia have just about nailed it. Just about. It’s a big car, seats four beautifully, rides as good as one should expect, goes like a scared rabbit in the V6 and a not quite so scared rabbit in the turbo four, is well equipped, and is utterly competitive for the features on price. Its biggest sticking point is one that’s completely inescapable and has already caused derision and division. It’s this: KIA.

Far too many people have locked themselves into the thought process that says Korea can’t built a competitor for the outgoing Commodore or the fading from memory Falcon. Ironically, as many have pointed out, detractors will have typed their sneering comments on a Korean built phone or have a Korean built TV. It’s also not unexpected that those slinging arrows from afar wouldn’t avail themselves of the opportunity to test drive. More fool them.

However, for a first attempt, like any first attempt, there’s room for improvement. A lift in presence to say more how the car should be perceived is one, and fuel efficiency needing a VAST improvement is another. The last one is something both Kia’s marketing gurus and Australia’s luddites need to work on. That’s that a Kia CAN be this damned good. The 2018 Kia Stinger is that damned good car.

Hyundai Santa Fe Unveiled For 2018

Hyundai have released some details of its new for 2018 Santa Fe. Notable changes include a restyled front end, linking the big SUV to its slightly newer and smaller brethren, the Kona. There’s the upper level LED driving lights, mid level headlights that are in a separate cluster and set deep into their own scalloped section on the extremeties of the bumper. A restyled “Cascading Grille” is also featured. At 4770mm in length, a breadth of 1890mm, and an increased wheelbase, the Santa fe stamps itself firmly as the leader of Hyundai cars.

Inside it’s a complete makeover, with a sweeping line to the upper dash section, air vent designs not unlike those found in upper level European luxury cars. The dash and console are broader in look, with a more concise and intense look to the centre touchscreen and climate control section.

Safety details in full haven’t yet been released, however it is known that Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist is on board. It will recognise oncoming traffic from the side and wil automatically apply brakes if required.

More details will be released by Hyundai closer to its expected launch in late February and is due in Australia in mid 2018.

Peugeot and Citroën Australia Introduce Five-Year Warranty

Peugeot and Citroën Australia (PCA) will introduce a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty with five-year roadside assist for all Peugeot and Citroën passenger vehicles. That warranty applies from the date of the first registration of the vehicle. Even better, it’s transferable should an owner decide to move their new car on to a new owner. The new warranty will commence immediately and be retrospectively applied to any MY18 vehicles already sold.

The Managing Director of Peugeot and Citroën Australia, Anouk Poelmann, said that the new warranty gives Australian’s confidence in purchasing a Peugeot or Citroën and reinforces the commitment both PCA and Groupe PSA in France have for the Australian market.

“When Peugeot and Citroën arrived in Australia – almost 80 and 100 years ago respectively, reliability and durability was the key to the brand’s early success and today that focus has not changed. From design to engineering and manufacture, efforts at all levels of the business have focused on quality, durability and reliability – and this new five-year warranty underscores our confidence in the new-generation of Peugeot and Citroën product.

Peugeot 5008

Peugeot and Citroën are some of the oldest and most storied marques in Australia and we at PCA and Groupe PSA are determined to make the next chapter one full of confidence and growth,” said Poelmann.

The program will bring together warranty, roadside assist and servicing plans under the PEUGEOT PRESTIGETM banner, while naming of the Citroën program will be launched at a later date.

Ford Ranger Raptor Ready To Strike.

Long talked about…well, since the new look Ranger was released a couple of years ago, a performance version has been released. Taking an already assertive machine and making it look even more angry is not always easy yet somehow the Ford designers and engineers have done so. Here’s a brief look at the 2018 Ford Ranger Raptor.Engine.
A 2.0L diesel has been massaged to produce an astonishing 500Nm of torque, with a peak power output of 157kW. The twin turbo beat was tested to its limits, with a non-stop run of 200 hours. A small HP (High Pressure) turbo kicks off before a larger LP (Low Pressure) turbo takes over. A new ten speed auto, designed and built by Ford in-house, along with revamped electronics, has quicker, crisper, shifts, and promises even better economy. There’s two on road modes, Normal and Sport, plus Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Sand, Rock, and Baja. It’s that last one that has eyebrows and corners of mouths raised. Ford says: Vehicle responsiveness is tuned for high-speed off-road performance, just like drivers need in the famous Baja Desert Rally. In this mode, vehicle systems like Traction Control are pared back in terms of intervention to allow spirited off-road driving without fighting the vehicle’s on-board systems. Gear selection is optimized for maximum performance, and the mapping will hold gears longer and downshift more aggressively.Looks.
A bespoke Ford logo grille now sits front and centre. It sits atop a frame mounted bumper, which houses new LED fog lamps and air-curtain ducts to help reduce aire resistance at speed. The front fenders are made of a composite material, and are oversized to deal with off road excursions and suspension travel. It’s an impressive size; it stands 1873mm high, spans 2180mm in width and is an impressive 5398mm in length. Ground clearance is 283 mm, with approach and departure angles of 32.5 and 24 degrees enabling superior off road accessibility.

There’s solid looking side steps, specially designed and engineered to help stop rocks being sprayed backwards from the front tyres and are cut to allow water drainage.Made from an aluminuim alloy, they’re durable and tough. These also were tested hard, with loads of 100 kilograms being applied 84,000 times to simulate a decade’s worth of exposure to usage. They’re powder-coated before a grit paint for extra durability is applied.

The rear bumper has been modified to include a towbar and two recovery hooks which will hold 3.8 tonnes. Parking sensors are flush in the bumper, which backs a tray of 1560mm x 1743mm. Exterior colours are: Lightning Blue, Race Red, Shadow Black, Frozen White, as well as a unique Hero color for the Ranger Raptor, Conquer Grey. Contrasting Dyno Grey accents helps to accentuate the vehicle’s look even further.Inside.
This has been overhauled with a smooth and refined look, coming under the umbrella of Ford Performance DNA. The seats are the starting point, with a redesign and change of material being tested in long distance rallies. They’re tailored for high speed work in an off-road environment. The material inside is of a dual layer hardness, providing both comfort and support in their intended environments.
The dash and steering wheel have been redesigned, with the Driver Assistance features being easily read in the binnacle and magnesium paddles for the driver’s column. There’s a touch of high speed assistance in one key area; a red stripe has been applied to the leather bound wheel, intended to confirm for the driver that the steering is “On Centre”.Underneath.
The off-road racing pedigree is evident in a chassis made from various grades of high-strength low-alloy (HSLA) steel and designed for that purpose. There’s coilover rear shocks, a Watt’s Link rear and solid rear axle. The chassis side rails are also HSLA. There’s a redesigned front end to deal with the strengthened higher profile shock towers. At the front, twin-piston calipers have been increased by 9.5mm in diameter, while the ventilated rotors are an impressive 332 x 32mm in size. At the rear, Ranger Raptor comes with disc brakes with a brake actuation master cylinder and booster to increase braking performance. The 332 x 24mm rear rotor is ventilated and coupled with a new 54mm caliper. These are housed inside new for Raptor BF Goodrich 285/70R17 rubber.It’s not yet known when exactly in 2018 the Ford Ranger Raptor will be available although it’s fair to surmise it’ll be within the first half of 2018.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Kia Sorento Si

I and Kia continue our long and proud association with the 2018 Kia Sorento Si seven seater spending a few days in the garage before two weeks of Stinger. The car provided has a RRP of $42990 plus metallic paint (Metal Stream) at $595 for a total price of $43585.There’s been some minor changes, both visible and non, compared to the previous model. The petrol engine has increased in size to 3.5L, up from 3.3L. Peak power of 206 kW is seen at 6500 rpm, and peak torque of 336 Nm comes in at 5000 rpm. This means the 4800 mm long, 1932 kg Si, capable of towing 2000 kilograms, has fuel consumption figures of 14.2L per 100 km of standard unleaded from the 71 litre tank around town. Get out on the highway and that drops by nearly half to 7.6L/100 km for the 2WD Si. A new eight speed auto is to thank for that and, quite simply, the combination of turbine smooth engine and silky sweet auto is superb.The Si is the entry level model of a four model Sorento range and comes well loaded with standard and safety equipment. Hold on: A digital and analogue dash features across the range, as does an eight inch touchscreen (up an inch on the previous model) with DAB audio, satnav, safety audio settings for driving, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with voice control, multi-function steering wheel controls, three 12V and two USB sockets, six airbags including side curtain, Driver Attention Alert, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, and metallic look interior trim. That last one is an issue in the Australian climate as heat soak lends itself to burned fingertips. There’s six cup holders (two per seat row), four bottle holders (one in each door pocket), and a cargo blind is standard as well.The interior itself has received a mild freshen up, with new look plastics, a redesign to the look for the steering wheel and its controls, even the touchscreen and surrounds have been mildly massaged. It’s clean and elegant to both look at and touch. What’s missing from the inside is privacy glass for the rear seat passengers. Although the Si’s seats are cloth there’s no heating or venting until the GT-Line level. However dual zone climate control is standard from the Si up. It’s manual seat adjustment for the Si and Sport, with the SLi gaining power seats and two position lumbar support. The GT-Line goes to four way adjustment and thigh support.Leg room is always good for the front seats and good enough for most in the centre. The folding rear seats are compromised by design for leg room but wouldn’t be used, one would suspect, for anything other than city style journeying. As always though Kia’s bent towards simplicity when needed is seen here with simple pull straps employed to raise and lower the third row seats. When they and the mid row seats are folded, there’s a huge 1662L of cargo space available.Outside the Sorento has also been given a light massage. The tail lights have been changed in look as has the front bumper, with a smooth scallop underneath the restyled headlights. A slimmer look to the headlight structure which incorporates the LED driving lights and a restyling to the bumper’s design bring a fresher look to the exterior overall. The rubber is from Nexen, being 235/65/17, and is also the smallest tyre/wheel combination of the four.Although they’re a high sidewall, there’s still plenty of chirping from the front even from what could be called a medium throttle application. That speaks more about the tyres themselves than the engine, given the high revs needed for peak torque. Ride quality, as a result, is somewhat spongy, soft, with a reasonable rebound from the front end over some rather large speedbumps. The rear seems somewhat more tied down in comparison.

The chassis itself is beautiful. Taken through a downhill rural road that has a mix of sweeping curves, tightening radius corners, and a couple of straights long enough to wind up before braking, it holds on and changes direction with minimal weight transfer. Even on the somewhat spongy Nexen rubber, there’s little to no doubt that you can throw the Sorento Si around and come out the other side.The Drive modes are accessible via a tab in the centre console and have me wondering why they’re still offered. In all of AWT’s exposure to such they’ve been barely and rarely used and moreso to find out if they made a difference to the actual feel of driving. There’s Comfort/Eco/Sport/Smart, with the last an adaptive system to road and driving conditions. Sport holds gear longer and loads up the steering, Eco is designed (and more suitable for) long distance driving as would Comfort suit as well.As mentioned, the engine and transmission are utterly harmonious in their partnership. Light throttle application has the big machine underway easily and with no perceptible change of ratio. Light the candle and the Sorento will scamper away with alacrity. There’s no vibration in the driveline and absolutely no sense of strain or stress. Jaguar’s V12 was known for its smoothness and this combination would be on a par.

On an uphill run, where traffic ahead slows forward progress and then clears, a moderate shove of the go pedal has a momentary hesitation, a deep inhale, before launching forward with surprising speed.

As always there’s Kia’s seven year warranty, seven year roadside assistance package, and capped price servicing for seven years or every 15,000 kilometres.At The End Of The Drive.
The Kia Sorento Si is for those that want an SUV to move people but don’t want a people mover. The fact that it’s not an off-road oriented car, due to its 2WD and no transfer case, means it’s likely to be used for ferrying the kids to and from school and to sports activities on the weekend. And this highlights the Achilles heel of the Sorento Si with a petrol engine. Economy was never been a strong point of the 3.3L and an urban figure over over 14.0L per 100 km doesn’t aid the cause. We finished close to 11.0L/100km which is more reasonable but still largely unacceptable.

But if fuel consumption is something not to be fussed about, and a large, comfortable, well equipped, good handling and driving SUV is what appeals, this is one that ticks far too many boxes to be ignored. Here’s where you can find more: 2018 Kia Sorento information

 

H9: A Haval To Have.

Haval have unveiled the updated seven seater H9. The 2018 model comes well stocked with standard equipment in the two model range, designated Lux and Ultra, a 350Nm turbo petrol engine of two litres capacity but still no diesel…yet.Included in the updates are both power and torque increases, from 160 to 180 kW, and up from 324Nm for the torque. Haval have fitted an eight speed auto from ZF, and combined with a change to the compression ration inside the four cylinder engine, say a fuel consumption improvement of around ten percent should be expected. A drop in the time to 100 kmh from zero is also expected, down to ten seconds.The exterior sees the former three bar grille changed to a five bar design, plus the lower air intake has been massaged for better air flow. Five spoke 18 inch alloys are new. Inside there’s been a raft of changes including a new TFT display screen for the driver, which amongst other information and changes displays a digital speedo.The seats for the Lux are cloth, the Ultra gets leather plus passengers in the Ultra can enjoy Australian sunshine thanks to a full length glass roof. Safety gets upgraded, with the Lux gaining Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Lane Departure Warning. The Ultra steps that up with a heated steering wheel, heated second row seats, and an Infinity sound system.It’s also off-road capable, with a Bosch backed All-Terrain Control System (ATCS). Haval says:

Auto: The system automatically adapts to any on- or off-road situation and is designed as a select and forget setting.
Sand: The Bosch Generation 9.0 Traction Control System allows higher engine speeds and bigger torque for maximum traction through dry sand.
Snow: Traction is adjusted for the slippery conditions prevalent in snow, utilising the high torque of the turbocharged engine and the technology of the German-engineered ZF 8-speed transmission to start in second gear to minimise slippage and maximise traction.
Mud: Operates like the snow setting, but employs the BorgWarner transfer case to sense slip in one wheel and transfer torque to the appropriate wheel for optimum drive efficiency.
4L: This setting is for the toughest conditions, or when maximum traction is required such as towing through muddy conditions. By engaging the low-range transmission, the torque of the engine is multiplied by a factor of up to 2.48.
Sport: This setting is for enthusiast driving, and ensures the ZF 8-speed transmission holds lower gears for longer before changing up. At speeds below 80 km/h, it locks out the two overdriven gears, making it ideal for urban driving conditions.

The Haval H9 is rated for 2500kg in towing and features a locking rear diff as well.Pricing is sharp; the Lux starts at $40990 and the Ultra at $44990, with driveaway pricing at launch of $41990 and $45990. Head to Haval Australia for more information and to book a test drive of the 2018 Haval H9.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus.

Citroen is known for smart engineering, clever engineering, and its famed quirkiness. The three come together with the C4 Cactus and it’s a car with something out of the ordinary. The smooth, organic, rounded, Cactus features Airbumps. Simple in concept and execution, they’re poly-urethane pockets filled with air. Made from TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) grade Elastollan AC 55D10 HPM (High Performance Material) the bumps are intended to give extra protection in close quarter situations such as carparks.The review car was badged OneTone, signifying one all-over shade and in this case, all white. There’s another trim level called Exclusive. Pricing varies more between manual and auto than the two trim levels available. The manual and auto Exclusive are $30592 and $33373 driveaway. The OneTone manual and auto are $31107 and $33888 respectively.Motorvation is provided by the PSA Group’s 1.2L petrol engine. Peak power is 81kW. Peak torque is a surprisingly good, for the size of the engine, 205Nm. That comes in at 1500rpm and is courtesy of a low boost turbo. The auto is the PSA Group’s EAT6 transmission. It’s a torque converter style with a bit of dual clutch auto feel. Under way it’s smooth enough but was sometimes (thankfully rarely) too readily caught in the wrong cog, sending vibrations through the Cactus body as it struggled with revs and torque not being available. From standstill it engages readily when in manual mode, hesitates slightly in auto, and will swap gear swiftly and mostly smoothly, as mentioned. While it’s underway, the engine puts out that familiar three cylinder warble. It’s not unpleasant but can override conversation levels.There’s two transmissions available for the Cactus: a six speed auto as found in the review car or five speed manual. Fuel tank size is fifty litres and Citroen quotes a combined fuel economy of 5.1L/100km for the auto, 4.7L/100km for the manual. A Sports mode is available at the push of a console mounted button. Top speed is quoted as 188km/h with the zero to one hundred time quoted as 10.7 seconds for the auto but a considerably quicker 9.3 seconds for the manual. This is explained by a 105kg weight difference. The manual tips the scales at 1020kg dry, the auto at 1125kg.It’s compact too, featuring an overall length of just 4157mm. The rear houses a handy 358L cargo bay that increases to 1170L when the rear seats fold. The cloth wrapped seats themselves are comfy enough but lack suitable side support for the front row. The rear seats are slightly slabby but due to the width (1729mm overall) there’s only room for two which is comfortable enough.
Leg room at the front is superb and rear leg room is also quite good. Headroom should pose no problem unless you’re two metres plus in height.The inside has a theme. It’s something along the lines of a suitcase, with the door handles rounded and with a leather like material and the glovebox has two latches, one of which opens the glovebox, and look like those found on a suitcase. The top of the glovebox has bumps that mirror the bumps outside and the door trims are embossed with something similar. There’s power window switches for the front only and they’re not auto Up/Down. The rear windows are popout in nature, with a lever mechanism, but don’t go down at all. The dash colour is a pink hued one called Habana over fish scaled plastic, contrasting with the black plastic abutting the windscreen and the rest of the interior trim.A slightly fiddly seven inch touchscreen houses all of the controls for audio, driver settings, aircon, car information, and the like. Fiddly in that sometimes more than one press or touch is required to access something like the audio screen, or the aircon screen, which means less concentration on driving. The driver gets a sci-fi inspired display screen, with 1970s look-a-like LCD blocks It’s shows speed and fuel but no revs. Consumption and trip meters are available via the touchscreen but revs aren’t…The OneTone Cactus is unremarkable in appearance bar the colour coded bumps on the doors and front & rear. The review car was Pearlescent White with matt white (Dune) for the plastic coverings. There are strip LED driving lights above the main headlights ala Jeep Cherokee/Hyundai Kona yet somehow it manages to look better than both, possibly due to the ovoid exterior design. That same Elastollan material also coats sections of both front and rear bumpers. Up top, there’s full length roof rails. The multi-coloured Cactus looks more striking with the contrasts in colours, such as a red and black mix.Safety levels are good but not great, with Hill Start Assist, reverse camera and six airbags but there’s no kneebag for the driver. Nor are there Blind Spot alerts, Cross Traffic alerts, adaptive cruise control or autonomous braking. There is something unique, though, about the passenger airbag. It’s roof mounted, coming down like a larger pillow.

On road, the suspension provides mostly smooth but sometimes unsettled ride quality. The Cactus is all too easily sent momentarily sideways, even over those dreaded shopping centre speedbumps. It’s also floaty, rather than wafty, wallowing where it should be up/down/stop. This isn’t altogether a bad thing as it does offer a cossetting ride, with no rear perception of harshness in any way. The diamond cut and painted 17 inch alloys are shod with eco-friendly Goodyear EfficientGrip rubber at 205/50 and they do hold on tightly, exhibiting mild understeer and quietly at that.Brakes are reasonable in hauling down the Cactus and pedal feel is nothing less than adequate. The steering is the same; it’s sometimes natural, sometimes artificial, but never less than adequate in feedback. Warranty is three years or 100,000 kilometres and in early 2018 Citroen Australia were offering free servicing for three years on plate clearance models.

Here is where you can find more information: 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus

At The End Of The Drive.
Citroen’s C4 Cactus is a mixed bag. It is a good looker in a way, it’s roomy enough, will drive well enough for most, but is hampered by a somewhat fiddly ride and doesn’t really offer anything out of the ordinary apart from looks and that French quirkiness.

A Legend Returns: 2019 Jeep Cherokee Details Unveiled.

As promised in late 2017, Jeep has released in January details of the forthcoming 2018/2019 Jeep Cherokee range. Here’s the news.

Range.
Latitude, Latitude Plus, Limited, Overland, Trailhawk, will be the nameplates available for customers.

Engines.
There will be three available, including a new 2.0L petrol four. It’s full of tech including a cooled exhaust gas recirculation system, C-EGR; a small scroll and low inertia turbocharger that’s mounted directly to the cylinder head for better emissions, and it’s the first time that the combined use of a twin-scroll turbocharger, C-EGR system, central direct injection and the independent liquid cooling intake of air, throttle body and turbo have been employed together. Power is rated as 270 horsepower, with torque rated at 295 lb-ft (201 kW/400 Nm).

The other two engines are the proven 3.2L Pentastar V6 and Tigershark 2.4L inline four. The V6 offers 271 horsepower and 239 lb-ft (202 kW/324 Nm) with a 4500 pound (2000 kilo) towing capacity. The 2.4L petrol Tigershark will be the standard engine for the range, with 180 horsepower and 170 lb-ft (134 kW/230 Nm).Transmission.
Standard will be a nine speed Torqueflite auto. Design and engineering work have the software updated for better driveability and better packaging for compact fitment and lightweight for extra fuel savings.

Drive Performance.
Suspension travel is huge, with the MacPherson strut able to move up to 6.7 inches, whilst the multi-link independent rear has up to 7.8 inches of travel. The front suspension is mounted to an low-alloy crossmember and is torsionally more rigid than before, plus the steering rack is actuated by a fuel saving electronic unit.The Cherokee with have three drive modes, available in selected models depending on the mode. Jeep Active Drive 1 will be available for the Latitude, Latitude Plus, Limited, and Overland, which features a redesigned rear drive module that allows seamless transitions between two and four wheel drive. Jeep Active Drive 2 goes to a two speed Power Transfer Unit (PTU). There’s low range ability that comes via locking the front and rear driveshafts and raises the suspension by an inch. A crawl ratio for serious off-roading will vary depending on the engine chosen.Jeep Active Drive Lock adds a lock feature for the rear differential for enhanced off-roading and will be standard on the Trailhawk. Selec-Terrain will be on board, covering drive modes to suit Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud and Rock. There’s some sophisticated computing power too, with up to 12 systems reading the drive conditions and working with the on-board control modules for brakes and stability, hill ascent and descent, amongst others.The Trailhawk will be able to traverse some rugged terrain with approach and departure angles of 30 and 32 degrees, a rollover angle of 23 and clear 8.7 inches of ground travel.

Exterior.
It’s a refreshed yet familiar look for the Cherokee. The somewhat controversial front end stays in essence, however the headlights, previously located below the driving lights set either side of the bonnet, are now integrated into the driving light cluster, whilst the headlights themselves are full LED in nature along with a strip of DRL LEDs. The taillights are also LEDS and feature a revised cluster design. The tailgate also gets a makeover, with a composite material saving weight, a relocated handgrip for easier access, and under bumper kick sensor for hands free opening.

The sheetmetal is smoother, more flowing in presence, and there’s twelve colours in the exterior palette to choose from. Blue Shade, Sting-Gray, Velvet Red, Firecracker Red, Olive Green, Hydro Blue, Light Brownstone, Granite Crystal, Billet Silver, Diamond Black Crystal, Pearl White and Bright White.

Interior.
Eight airbags feature in a revamped interior that also sees the cargo area increased in size. A change in tone to the lower door panels, and a change to the weave to the upgraded fabrics sees a lighter, airier, feeling interior complemented by new high gloss piano black on the dash around the touchscreen. That has also been relocated slightly, with the result being more room for smartphone placement.The interior colour trims have had an exciting addition and one with an unexpected link: Iceland. The new Storm Blue interior was inspired by Iceland with its dark volcanos and black ash contrasted with blue skies.

Check with your local Jeep dealer for updates and availability for the 2018 Jeep Cherokee.

2018 Suzuki Swift Sport Readies For Release.

It’s been hotly anticipated since Suzuki updated its iconic Swift range for 2017 and now it’s here. The 2018 Suzuki Swift Sport, complete with 1.4L turbocharged petrol engine and six speed manual or auto, is sharply priced at $25490 or $27490.

The BOOSTERJET engine produces 103 kilowatts and 230 Nm of torque, with a quoted fuel consumption of 6.1L/100 km for a combined cycle thanks partly to a weight reduction of eighty kilos compared to the previous model. The auto will come with paddle shifts.

Ride and handling is improved, with a lower and wider stance in the chassis. The Sport will roll on 17 inch polished alloys and will turn night time to day time with LED head lights. There’s also LED daytime running lights, twin chrome tipped exhausts, and a sports body kit comprising rear diffuser, side skirts, and black honeycomb grille.

Inside there’s Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Suzuki’s user friendly seven inch touchscreen with satnav, climate control, Bluetooth and USB sounds connectivity, keyless Start/Stop, and red stitched semi-bucket seats.

The chassis has new safety engineering with TECT, Total Effective Control Technology for greater energy dissipation in the event of an impact. A five star safety rating comes courtesy of six airbags (no driver’s kneebag), stability control, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.

Outside there’s a choice of five colour choices: Pure White Pearl, Champion Yellow, Super Black Pearl, Mineral Grey and Speedy Blue.

There’s Capped Price Servicing for five years and should a customer ensure their Swift Sport is serviced under that plan, the warranty gets extended from three to five years.

The 2018 Suzuki Swift Sport is available for test drive and orders from your local Suzuki dealership or enquire through here: 2018 Suzuki Swift Sport