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HiAce Goes Out Of The Box.

Toyota’s venerable HiAce light commercial van has gone from a smooth, ovoid, mid sized van to a boxy and bigger version. Although not in the same capacity range as a Sprinter from Mercedes-Benz of a Trafic from Renault, its more compact size has allowed thousands of people to become a courier delivery driver, a taxi, or a people mover.Due for a mid 2019 release, the latest version has had one very noticeable design change. Gone is the long standing blunt nose, finally replaced with a semi-bonneted design. This has the end effect of engineers providing a stiffer chassis that offers an improvement in straight line performance and stability. Manoeuvrability from a range of more pliant suspensions is an extra bonus with new MacPherson struts being part of the uprated suspension system. The rear has newly designed leaf springs, with an increase of length of 200 mm adding an extra 30 mm of travel for a more compliant ride.Seating will range from a two seater version on a long wheelbase (LWB) and super long wheel base (SLWB), a five seater LWB van, and a super long wheelbase (SLWB) 12 seater commuter van.

Motorvation has changed as well. There will be two new engines – a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel or a 3.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol poweplant, both available with six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. Confirmation of power, torque, and consumption will be made available closer to the release date.A hallmark of the HiAce has been its cargo carrying ability and has been maintained at a maximum of 6.2 cubic metres for the lLWB wheel base and 9.3 cubic metres for the SLWB thanks to the redesign that offers clever packaging which increases internal width by 215mm and height by 5mm without altering overall exterior width. The SLWB two-seat van is capable of accommodating Australian standard pallets (1165mm x 1165mm) through its wider sliding side doors. Inside will be a range of mounting points to help secure cargo.

Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia’s vice president of sales & marketing, says: “Importantly, we anticipate even better whole-of-life costs with excellent reliability and resale value along with minimal downtime and affordable maintenance. The semi-bonnet design makes it significantly easier and quicker to replace parts such as the oil and air filters, battery, and coolant. In addition to being highly capable right off the showroom floor, all-new HiAce has been designed to offer immense flexibility through conversions and customisation to meet varied business and personal needs.”

The expected safety rating is five stars, thanks again to the redesigned chassis, and with up to nine airbags being fitted depending on version. Pre-collision warning with cyclist and pedestrian detection, autonomous emergency braking, and reversing camera are complemented by a digital rear view camera that can be fitted as an option.

Extra design features make the new HiAce just that little bit more human friendly too. The doors have a lower edge and sit over a wider step for easier access. The window glass is larger for better vision and a lower beltline means better side vision.Pricing for the 2019 Toyota HiAce is yet to be confirmed.

AEB. What Is Autonomous Emergency Braking?

A recent announcement that says Australia has signed off to have all vehicle brought to the country fitted with Autonomous Emergency Braking has some far reaching implications for how people drive and the potential for lives to be saved. But what exactly is AEB?

Autonomous: the system acts independently of the driver to avoid or mitigate the accident.
Emergency: the system will intervene only in a critical situation.
Braking: the system tries to avoid the accident by applying the brakes.

Most AEB systems use radar, a pair of cameras and/or lidar-based technology to identify potential collision partners ahead of the car. This information is combined with what the car knows of its own travel speed thanks to internal sensors and direction of travel to determine whether or not a critical or potentially dangerous situation is developing. If a potential collision is detected, AEB systems generally, though not exclusively, first try to avoid the impact by warning the driver that action is needed.

This could be in the form of a visual warning such as dashboard mounted flashing lights, or physical warnings. If no action is taken and a collision is still expected, the system will then apply the brakes. Some systems apply full braking force, others may be more subtle in application. Either way, the intention is to reduce the speed with which the potential collision takes place. Some systems deactivate as soon as they detect avoidance action being taken by the driver. However, some vehicles provide false positives, where the system reads an object not in the path of the vehicle as a collision potential.

But wait, there’s more. Most early systems were configured to warn of larger objects such as cars. Developments have seen these being finessed into providing pedestrian warning as well, a boon considering the semeing rise of those under the thrall of smartphones and screen time as they walk blithely unaware into the path of oncoming traffic.

The aforementioned agreement now means that it won’t be just passenger vehicles such as a sedan or wagon being fitted with AEB, it means that SUVs and vehicles such as 4WD capable utility vehicles must also receive the upgrade. ANCAP and Euro NCAP found in 2015 that the inclusion of AEB led to a 38 per cent reduction in rear-end crashes at low speed. That will change under UN requirements which set strict minimum standards requiring vehicles to be able to take action from speeds up to 60km/h, and come to complete stop when traveling at 30km/h or less. Therefore the expectation is that the percentage will increase. However the technology will not stop one crucial part of the driving equation occuring: the idiot that believes road rules don’t apply to them.

Jaguar Land Rover Six Straightens Up

Jaguar Land Rover is expanding its Ingenium engine family with a new six-cylinder petrol engine designed and engineered in-house, and manufactured at its £1 billion Engine Manufacturing Centre (EMC) in Wolverhampton, UK.

The 3.0-litre straight six cylinder petrol engine, which will debut in 2020, is available in 265kW and 294kW versions with a torque capable of up to 495 and 550Nm, is more responsive and better balanced than the outgoing V6 petrol.

It features a unique combination of an electric supercharger to deliver immediate response supported by a twin scroll turbocharger and Continuous Variable Valve Lift, which boosts power and help the engine to breathe with maximum efficiency.These performance-boosting technologies, combined with Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle (MHEV) technology, optimises performance, fuel economy and reduces emissions. The MHEV 48V system uses a small integrated electric motor to harvest energy lost during deceleration, and then intelligently redeploys it to assist the engine to maximise efficiency.

The in-line six-cylinder petrol engine is 20% more fuel efficient than the V6 petrol engine it replaces and is fitted with a Gasoline Particulate Filter, reducing particulate emissions by up to 75%.

Nick Rogers, Executive Director of Product Engineering said: “From the outset we always intended Ingenium to be a full family. That is why we chose to engineer our own flexible engine architecture to meet our bespoke needs, allowing Jaguar Land Rover to adapt and stay ahead of changes in regulation and technology. This second wave of engines, with a Mild Hybrid 48V system and performance-boosting technologies, is engineered to be cleaner and more efficient than ever before.”

The new Ingenium engine has been designed and developed in-house and will be manufactured at Jaguar Land Rover’s £1 billion EMC in Wolverhampton, alongside the current four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines.The 200,000 sqm site is a ‘zero waste to landfill’ facility with everything used being recovered and recycled. Jaguar Land Rover sources 100% renewable electricity for its UK facilities and over 21,000 photovoltaic panels are installed on the roof of the EMC plant, allowing it to generate up to 30% of the site’s energy.

The EMC is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment featuring precision manufacturing technology, including machinery that can work to tolerances of three microns (a human hair is 50 microns).

In addition to being committed to delivering clean diesel and petrol engines, Jaguar Land Rover is investing in electrification with next-generation Electric Drive Units (EDU) starting production at the EMC from 2020.

JLR wants to enable customers to make an informed decision on the best Ingenium engine technology for how and where they drive, whether that is fully electric, hybrid, petrol or diesel.

The company’s latest diesel and petrol cars are amongst the cleanest in the world and meet the new regulated laboratory and real world tests (WLTP and RDE). They are EU6 compliant and can be driven anywhere, and are, for example, exempt from London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) daily charge, which applies from April 2019.

Fiat Goes Rare With 500C Spiaggina ’58 Edition.

Rare indeed will be the Fiat 500C Spiaggina ’58 Edition, as just 30 units will be be released. Priced from $25,990 (manufacturers list price) the car pays tribute to the 500 Jolly Spiaggina, the first special series of the Fiat 500 which was on sale in the late 1950s through to the mid 1960s. It was the embodiment of ” La Dolce Vita”, with its quirky styling, 22 horsepower engine, and doorless body.The 2019 version will feature both manual and auto transmissions, and will come with $3000 worth of extras at no cost. Outside will be the brilliant Volare Blue body colour, 16 inch white painted wheels in a classic and vintage look, and a white “beauty line”.Splashes of chrome add extra “bling” on the bonnet, mirror covers, and inserts in the bumpers. Bespoke Spiaggina branding is part of the look, with a rear quarter badge, plus “500” logos shown inside the compact yet comfortable cabin. Extra airiness comes courtesy of the beige fabric folding roof.The design itself is based on a concept car which featured no roof, a roll bar, and no rear seat.Power for the 2019 version is rated as 51kW from Fiat’s peppy 1.2L engine. The manual is a five speed, with the auto also a five speed. That option will be priced at $27, 490 (manufacturer’s list price). A seven inch Uconnect touchscreen will be standard, as will Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, climate control, and rear parking sensors.

Fiat Australia has the car on sale as of February 12, 2019. Contact them here.

BMW Unveils 1 Series M140i Finale Edition

Rear wheel drive and a front mounted engine has been a BMW hallmark for decades. The 1 series hatch has been a comparitively new part of the configuration’s history for the iconic German brand, and with the model’s end in sight, the company has signed off on the Finale package for the 2019 BMW 1 Series M140i.

The Finale package on its own is worth $3000, and with the M140i priced at $62,990, it’s a reasonable ask. Here’s what the spec list, built on an already well specified car, looks like.

M branded alloys of 18 inch diameters in 436 M Orbit Grey will underpin the Finale, whilst on top is a glass sunroof. At each end are darkened lights with the front end getting a high gloss blackout look that complements the black chrome tail pipes. Bespoke badging sets off the colour work outside. An extra tech piece is added in the form a smartphone charging pad.

Motorvation is from the 250kW, 500Nm, straight six engine of 3.0L capacity. Hooked up to an eight speed auto there’s enough grunt to see one hundred klicks in 4.6 seconds. Fuel consumption is rated as 7.1L for every one hundred kilometres driven. And the standard equipment list is pretty good too. Blue painted calipers hold the M Sports brakes, there are adaptive LED headlights with BMW Selective Beam, and Adaptive M Suspension.

There is BMW’s Navigation System Professional with the built-in 8.8-inch display, plus BMW ConnectedDrive system which can be enjoyed from the seats complete with Leather Dakota upholstery, along with BMW’s Comfort Access System.

Contact your BMW dealer for more details.

 

2019 Jeep Wrangler Getting Ready To Roll In Oz!

The 2019 Jeep Wrangler range is on its way to Australia, with a current expected date of early April being when showrooms will have them on the floor. Starting price is set as $48,950 with on road costs to be added.The range starts with the Jeep Wrangler Sport S, followed by the Overland, and Rubicon. The Sport S and Overland will have a choice of two or four doors, and Rubicon a choice of two engines in four door configuration only.4×4 capability will be standard on all models, with the Rock-Trac 4×4 System fitted to the Rubicon, and Selec-Trac 4×4 System available on all other models. Power will come from Jeep’s 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 Petrol Engine which will be bolted to the new TorqueFlite 8 cogger automatic transmission. Stop-Start (ESS) technology is standard also. A diesel will be available for the Wrangler Rubicon, with the option to specify a 2.2L MultiJet II Turbo Diesel engine. It’ll pump 146kW of power and 347Nm of torque.

Safety features are extensive: Auto Emergency Braking (AEB) kicks off the list, with Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop, Blind-Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection complementing ParkView Rear Backup Camera with Dynamic Grid Lines. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Electronic Roll Mitigation (ERM) add to the well specified package.Inside the Jeep Wrangler has a 7.0” Uconnect touch screen display housing the fourth-generation Uconnect system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available as standard in the Sport S, and an 8.4-inch display standard on all other variants.

Outside, LED headlamps and tail lamps also feature as standard on the Overland and Rubicon. The grille and windscreen have been given a slight tilt, the bonnet has venting, and the C-pillar has been reprofiled. Wind noise has been reduced and a whopping 13% increase in fuel efficiency has been provided as a result.Sport S will roll on 17 inch wheels, and passengers will enjoy an eight speaker sound system. Towing capacity varies between the two and foor door chassis for all models, with 1,497kg and 2,495kg capabilities. The Overland goes to 18 inch wheels and will feature bespoke interior trim. The hard top roof is removable and features Jeep’s “Freedom Panels”. Alpine provide the sounds via a 9 speaker audio system and 8.4 inch touchscreen. Rubicon goes further with a Front Stabiliser Bar Disconnect system for when down and dirty driving is the go, and will roll on 17 inch alloys with dedicated off-road spec rubber from BF Goodrich. The steel front bar is designed to allow a winch to be fitted without issue. To complement all of the range, over 130 MOPAR accessories can be optioned.Guillaume Drelon, Head of Jeep Brand at FCA Australia, said: “The all-new Wrangler may have evolved, but its core DNA remains unchanged, making this the most capable production SUV on the planet. The Jeep Wrangler sets a precedence by offering renewed levels of style, advanced technology and safety features while remaining true to its rich heritage.”

Contact your local Jeep dealer to organise a test drive.

2019 Jeep Wrangler Hits The Dirt!

The 2019 Jeep Wrangler range is on its way to Australia, with a current expected date of early April being when showrooms will have them on the floor. Starting price is set as $48,950 with on road costs to be added.The range starts with the Jeep Wrangler Sport S, followed by the Overland, and Rubicon. The Sport S and Overland will have a choice of two or four doors, and Rubicon a choice of two engines in four door configuration only.4×4 capability will be standard on all models, with the Rock-Trac 4×4 System fitted to the Rubicon, and Selec-Trac 4×4 System available on all other models. Power will come from Jeep’s 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 Petrol Engine which will be bolted to the new TorqueFlite 8 cogger automatic transmission. Stop-Start (ESS) technology is standard also. A diesel will be available for the Wrangler Rubicon, with the option to specify a 2.2L MultiJet II Turbo Diesel engine. It’ll pump 146kW of power and 347Nm of torque.

Safety features are extensive: Auto Emergency Braking (AEB) kicks off the list, with Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop, Blind-Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection complementing ParkView Rear Backup Camera with Dynamic Grid Lines. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Electronic Roll Mitigation (ERM) add to the well specified package.Inside the Jeep Wrangler has a 7.0” Uconnect touch screen display housing the fourth-generation Uconnect system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available as standard in the Sport S, and an 8.4-inch display standard on all other variants.

Outside, LED headlamps and tail lamps also feature as standard on the Overland and Rubicon. The grille and windscreen have been given a slight tilt, the bonnet has venting, and the C-pillar has been reprofiled. Wind noise has been reduced and a whopping 13% increase in fuel efficiency has been provided as a result.Sport S will roll on 17 inch wheels, and passengers will enjoy an eight speaker sound system. Towing capacity varies between the two and foor door chassis for all models, with 1,497kg and 2,495kg capabilities. The Overland goes to 18 inch wheels and will feature bespoke interior trim. The hard top roof is removable and features Jeep’s “Freedom Panels”. Alpine provide the sounds via a 9 speaker audio system and 8.4 inch touchscreen. Rubicon goes further with a Front Stabiliser Bar Disconnect system for when down and dirty driving is the go, and will roll on 17 inch alloys with dedicated off-road spec rubber from BF Goodrich. The steel front bar is designed to allow a winch to be fitted without issue. To complement all of the range, over 130 MOPAR accessories can be optioned.Guillaume Drelon, Head of Jeep Brand at FCA Australia, said: “The all-new Wrangler may have evolved, but its core DNA remains unchanged, making this the most capable production SUV on the planet. The Jeep Wrangler sets a precedence by offering renewed levels of style, advanced technology and safety features while remaining true to its rich heritage.”

Contact your local Jeep dealer to organise a test drive.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Renault Megane RS 280 Cup Chassis

This Car Review Is About:
A vehicle with good looks, a fluid drivetrain, and a manual gearbox, a real rarity in cars nowadays. The 2019 Renault Megane RS 280 is a potent weapon, and with some extras becomes the Cup Chassis spec. It’s classified as a small car yet should be listed in the sports car category. And it’s well priced too, at $44,990 plus on roads and the Cup Chassis package of $1490. The dual clutch transmission doesn’t offer the Cup Chassis and is priced from $47,490 plus on roads.Under The Bonnet Is:
A free-spinning 1.8L petrol engine complete with a silent turbo. Silent, as in there is no waste-gate noise. What there is aurally is a muted thrum from the twin pipes located centrally at the rear. Peak power is 205kW or, 280 horsepower, hence the name. Peak torque of 390Nm is available from 2400rpm and is available through to 4800 rpm. An easy 80% of that peak is available from 1500rpm. Consumption of 95RON, the minimum RON requirement, is rated as 7.4L/100km on the combined cycle. Around town it’s 9.5L/100km and a wonderful 6.2L/100km on the highway. These figures are for the slick shifting, short throw, manual transmission.On The Inside Is:
Reasonable leg space for most people with a 2669mm wheelbase, but the limited shoulder room of 1418mm can result in the occasional arm bump. There’s black cloth covered, manually operated, seats front and rear, with the RS logo boldly sewn into the front seat head rests. Leather and alcantara coverings are an $1100 option. All windows are one touch up or down, and boot space is decent for the size of the car at 434L. There’s faux carbon fibre trim on the doors and fairly average looking plastics on the upper and centre dash. To add a splash of sports and colour, the pedals are aluminuim plates. There is a pair of USB ports, an SD slot, and a 12V socket for the front seats, a solitary 12V in the rear.There is plenty to like on a tech level, and certainly for anyone that is technically minded. The experience starts with having the credit card sized key fob on the body. Walk up to the car and the wing mirrors fold out. A slight touch of the door handle unlocks the car, and then there’s the pounding heartbeat and graphics to welcome the driver inside.Hands free park assist is on board, as is blind spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control. AEB or Autonomous Emergency Braking is standard as well. The car’s electronics system holds some true delights that are accessible via the vertically aligned 8.7 inch touchscreen. Apart from the standard look of audio and navigation, swiping left or right brings up extra information. There are graphs that show the travel of torque, and power, with a line showing the actual rev point relative to the production of both. There are readings for turbo pressure, throttle position, torque, and the angle of the rear steering. Yep, the Megane RS 280 has adjustable rear steering, which will pivot against or in unison with the front wheels at up to six degrees depending on velocity. At speeds up to 60 kmh it’s 2.7 degrees against and above that will parallel the front wheels.There are five drive modes, accessed via the RS button on the centre dash. This brings up Neutral, Comfort, Race, Sport, and Personal. Selecting these imbues the RS with different personalities, such as changing the exhaust note, the ride quality, and the interior lighting. Naturally the LCD screen for the driver changes as well.But for all of its techno nous, the audio system is a weak link, a very weak link. The speakers themselves which includes a nifty bass tube, are from Bose and they’re brilliant but are paired with a digital tuner that is simply the worst for sensitivity AWT has encountered. In areas where signal strength is known to be strong, the tuner would flip between on and off like a faulty light switch, making listening to DAB a more than frustrating experience. It makes the $500 ask for the system somewhat questionable until the sensitivity issue can be remedied.The Outside Has:
A delightfully curvy shape. In truth, finding a hard line is near impossible. From the front, from the side, from the rear, the Megane’s body style is pert, rounded, and puts a field of circles to shame. The rear especially can be singled out for a strong resemblance to a certain soldier’s helmet from a famous sci-fi film franchise. Up front there’s Pure Vision LED lighting. That’s in both the triple set driving lights and the headlights that sit above and beside an F1 inspired blade. The iridescent amber indicators are set vertically and could illuminate the moon’s surface. Black painted “Interlagos” alloys look fantastic against the Orange Tonic paint ($800 option) as found on the test vehicle, and have super grippy 245/35 rubber from Michelin. Brembo provide the superb stoppers, and wheel arch vents bookend the thin black plastic strips that contrast and add a little extra aero.Exhaust noise, as muted as it is, emanates from a pair of pipes that are centrally located inside an impressive looking rear diffuser, and have a decent measure of heat shielding. The manually operated tail gate opens up to provide access to no spare tyre at all. There is a compressor, some goop, and that’s it. They sit in a niche alongside the bass tube that adds some seriously enjoyable bottom end to the audio system.On The Road It’s:
A suitably impressive piece of engineering. The powerplant is tractable to a fault, with performance across the rev range that combines with the genuinely excellent manual gear selector and clutch. Out test period coincided with a drive to Dubbo and perhaps an out of the comfort zone test for a vehicle more suited to the suburbs and track days.

The Cup Chassis pack adds the aforementioned wheels and brakes, plus a Torsen front diff, and revised suspension. Inside the dampers are extra dampers, effectively an absorber for the absorber. And along with the noticeable change in ride quality when Sport or Race are selected, the rough tarmac heading west made for an interesting test track.

To utilise the Megane RS 280 properly is to understand what synergy means. From a standing start and banging the gears upwards to sixth, or to press down on the go pedal at highway speeds and see the old ton appear (allegedly) in a few breaths is to feel what a truly well sorted engine package can deliver. Crack on, and the metric ton appears in 5.8 seconds. It all happens because everything works so well together. The steering is instinctive, as is the ride and handling. And using the drive modes makes a real difference in an unexpected way.Unusually but not unexpectedly, there is torque steer if booting hard from a standing start. However that Torsen front diff quickly dials that out, keeping the sweet looking front end on the straight and narrow. The clutch and gear selector are perfectly paired to complement the engine’s free revving nature. The clutch is smooth, well pressured, and the actual gear pick up point is ideally placed towards the top of the pedal’s travel. Selecting the six forward gears is via a beautifully weighted and sprung lever, with a lift up lock-out to engage reverse.

Normal driving conditions have the Megane RS 280 quietly doing its thing. Light the candle, engage Sport or Race, and the rough, pockmarked, tarmac past Bathurst changes from a minor annoyance in Neutral to a flatter, more enjoyable ride quality. Think of corrugations spaced apart enough for the wheels to rise and fall over them, then suddenly close up to the point that the car feels as if it’s riding over the peaks alone. Throttle response is sharper as well, and is perhaps more noticeable from a standing start.

With the final drive seeing peak torque at highway rated velocities, it also means that a simple flex of the right ankle has the Megane breathe in and hustle on with alacrity. The already communicative steering gains an extra level of vocabulary when changed to Sport and Race. There’s a weightier feel in the turns, imbuing the driver with a sense of real connectivity to the front end. Combined with the 4Control rear steering adjustment, corners become flatter and straighter.

One extra nifty piece of tech came from the GPS and satnav system. Between the towns of Wellington and Orange is a set of average speed speed cameras, and the GPS flashes up on the screen to advise what the average speed of the car is. Some judicious driving and watching the indicated average speed change, and that’s a good thing.

The Warranty Is:
Three years for any sports oriented model down from the standard five. Service the Megane RS 280 Cup Chassis at a Renault dealership and there’s up to four years of roadside assist plus up to three years capped priced servicing.

At The End Of The Drive.
Renault has competition on both sides of the price point. But having a six speed manual nowadays makes the Megane RS 280 a standout for those that like to be engaged and involved in the driving experience. The Orange Tonic paint is an eyecatcher, and unfortunately attracts tryhards like pollen to a bee.As a driving experience, it’s not unlike slipping into a tailor made suit and shoes, as everything just feels….right. But the lack of aural caressing, and the lousy DAB tuner, as part of the overall experience, dull the sparkle. But not enough to get out of the 2019 Renault Megane RS 280 Cup Chassis without a grin of pure pleasure.

A good start in finding out more is to click here.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Lexus LC 500

This Car Review Is About:
The 2019 Lexus LC 500. It’s a big, luxury oriented, coupe with stand out styling, a brawny 5.0L V8, and a fair bit of heft. There’s heft to the price too: $189,629 plus on road costs as of February 2019.Under The Bonnet Is:
A V8 of five litres capacity. It’s the same one as found in the GS F, which produces 351kW and 530 Nm. Consumption on the combined cycle is rated as 11.6L/100km. There’s a ten speed auto that hooks up to the rear wheels via a Torsen limited slip diff, and if you’re a touch green around the gills, a hybrid version is available. Transmission changes are made via paddle shifts on the steering column, and the gear selector is atypical in that it’s a rocker movement towards the right, forward for reverse, back for Drive, and Park is a P button. Back to the left where M is listed gives Manual control.On The Inside Is:
A stupidly small amount of room. It’s a BIG looking car, with 4770mm overall length, a wheelbase of 2870mm, and 1630mm track. The driver sits just aft of the mid point and has plenty of leg room forward. So does the passenger. But it’s here that the good news ends. The rear seats are great for a suitcase or a bag or two of shopping. With the front seats in a suitable position up front, the gap between rear of seat and squab is minimal. Minimal. The up side is that the powered seats self adjust for fore & aft movement when the lever to flip them forward for rear seat access is pulled up.The seats themselves are low set, meaning anyone with muscle issues may struggle to lever themselves up and out. And with a low roof height, raising the seats may compromise the noggin of taller drivers.

Then there’s the passenger section. It’s quite aligned with a single seat fighter jet in concept, with a tub and grab handles on either side. Then there’s the dash. The passenger gets little to look at directly ahead apart from a sheet of faux carbon fibre style material, and Lexus have left the LC 500 with the multi-fold design. The air-con vents are squirreled away in a niche line with just a single vent in direct centre. Sometimes it felt as if the air flow isn’t happening.Up top and centre is the Lexus display screen. It’s wide, in full colour high definition, and operated via a track pad (no mouse) in the centre console. In full daylight it’s still clearly visible. Unfortunately, in a well meant effort to add extra visual splash, there is a aluminuim strip just below it and sitting on top of the centre airvent. It catches sunlight really well, and spreads it around the cabin really well. That includes straight back into the driver’s eyes.

Drive mode selectors have been relocated from here and are on dials on the left and right of the driver binnacle. The binnacle houses a full colour LCD screen that has a sliding circle that activates different looks to the screen. Yes, it might be somewhat gimmicky but it also allows a driver to choose some or all info at will. A super clear HUD is also fitted and again, it’s excellent in its instinctiveness.

The rear seat, what there is of it, is largely hampered by the exterior design. And there’s some interior fitment that is part of it. Lexus have moved the battery to under a boot floor cover to help with weight distribution. But the slope of the rear window line means head room is compromised, and the boot itself is two overnight bags in capacity.There is a very good range of interior trim colour combinations, with a total of eight coverings and shades available. They’re all a great place to sit and listen to the excellent Mark Levinson audio system which is DAB compatible, plus allows DVD playback. Speaker count? 13, sir.

The Outside Is:
Eyecatching. The low height, 1345mm from tyre bottom to carbon fibre roof top, makes the car look lithe, svelte, and a set of coke bottle hips add a measure of sensuality to the lines. A slim, broad, front houses a beautifully sculpted triangular design that has LED headlights, driving lights, and indicators in a vertical strip. Huge 21 inch polished alloys are clad in 245/45 rubber from Michelin, bookending that pinched in waist and airvents to reduce wheel well pressure.The boot really is tiny, at something like 195L of capacity. There also doesn’t appear to be an external button to open it either, with the key fob and interior tabs the seemingly only method. The bootlid also holds the wing, activated via a centre console mounted tab. Rear lights are wrapped in a chrome housing and their sharp edged look complements the nose. Exhaust pipes are buried in an elegant looking rear valance.The test car came in White Nova, a semi pearlescent shade. There are ten (yes, ten) other colours such as Zinnia Yellow and Garnet to choose from. All colours do a great job of highlighting the LC’s distinctive lines, and complement the somewhat restrained look the spindle grille has. Yes, you read that right. The grille is not the stand out part of the car’s look.

On The Road It’s:
Hobbled by its heft. Although looking like a relative lightweight, thanks to its low height and slim lines, there’s over 1900kg hiding under the skin. And with the engine producing peak torque at over 4000rpm, acceleration is quick, changes are quick, but everything feels dulled off slightly. It lacks the rawness, the sharpness, the knife edged attitude of the GS F, and in reality it’s more of a Grand Tourer in nature. It doesn’t provoke the same visceral response that the GS F provided. The Torsen differential is noticeable, too, in slow speed tight corners as found in Sydney’s north shore, and there’s a rear end skip on certain long sweepers that have road expansion joints built in, momentarily unsettling the LC’s broad rear end. Launch hard in a straight line and there’s a squirm from the rear as the meaty rubber grabs hold.Actual ride quality is tending towards the jiggly side when driving in the normal mode. Although there is an active suspension on board, it really doesn’t come into play until Sport/Sport+ is engaged. Suddenly the road feels smoother, handling sharpens up, and the engine note seems more brusque, with an added bite. And it is perhaps the engine that is, in an audible sense, the highlight of the whole package. Press the start button and there’s a quick whirr before a guttural growl comes from the pipes. It’s a higher pitch in tone compared to the more subterranean note from the GS F on idle, and there’s a real edge of anger to it when seriously under way. And thankfully there’s a real sense of the fire and brimstone being thrown around thanks to the snarl, and the crackle & pop of the engine on upshifts and backing off the throttle.The transmission is a gem however not always seamless in changes. When easing the LC around the exhaust note is comparatively subdued, but get in on the freeway and stand on the go pedal to fully appreciate the ferocity of the engine and sound. It does take some time, relatively speaking, for the urge the engine has to kick in, but when it does overtaking numbers are stellar. And so is the exhaust; it doesn’t caress the ears, it grabs them and pounds the angry notes down into them. That’s thanks to what Lexus call “sound control valves” that open and close on demand to offer the changing soundscape. That’s aided and abetted by an Active Noise Control system that cancels out extraneous noise, not unlike noise cancelling headphones.And The Safety Factor Is:
Naturally very, very high. The brakes, like the whole LC, don’t have the instantaneous response from breathing upon the pedal that the GS F has, but there’s no doubting the stopping power regardless. Six pistons up front and four at the rear haul up the LC confidently every time. Partnered with the full suite of active and passive safety systems, such as Lane Keep Assist, Radar Cruise Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking, and a pedestrian safety bonnet, it’s well up there on the safety ladder.The Warranty Is:
Four years or 100,000 kilometres, with the additional benefit of Lexus Drive Care. That covers items such as a up to $150 one way taxi fares, a courier service for small parcels, even personal and clothing costs up to $250. Contact Lexus for servicing costs, though.

At The End Of The Drive.
After an engaging week with the LC 500, we came away with the strong feeling that it’s a definite GT, a Grand Tourer. It’s a relaxed and comfortable highway & freeway machine, but suffers in comparison in tight inner city and suburbia. The aural appeal is huge on start up, but the limited room inside and in the boot really count it out of being anything other than a single or couple’s car. For a more multi-purpose and/or family oriented performance car from Lexus, the GS F fits the bill far better.

Get a start on comparing your desires for grand touring inside the 2019 Lexus LC 500 here.

 

 

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Lexus GS F 10 Anniversary

This Car Review Is About:
An absolute pearler of a car. The 2019 Lexus GS F is a pocket rocket and in 10th anniversary guise looks the part even more. Clad in one colour only, a matte-satin finish grey, and packing a set of blue painted brake callipers outside, backed by patches of blue suede inside, The GS F 10th Anniversary Edition has plenty of brawn to back up the looks. Price for the sleek four door starts at $155,940 plus on roads. GS stands for Grand Sedan or Grand Sport.Under The Bonnet Is:
Some serious numbers. 32 valves, four camshafts, 7100 rpm for the peak power of 351kW, and 530Nm between 4800rpm and 5600rpm. This sits inside a front track of 1555mm, with the rear almost the same at 1560mm. The overall length is hidden by the styling, with 4915mm looking less than the numbers suggest, with the wheelbase of 2850mm leaving some decent overhang.Fuel capacity is about average at 66L, with a rated combined fuel consumption figure of 11.3L for every one hundred kilometres driven. For a kerb weight of around 1865 kilograms, that’s a set of figures than can be lived with. Our real world testing in an urban environment saw figures closer to 10.0L/100km. And before you ask, no, there are no official figures for towing…

However, for a driver, and that’s exactly where this car is aimed, a DRIVER, the allure of those numbers, from a free spinning V8, with an exhaust note to die for, plus a simply stunning eight speed auto with two sports modes, means the wallet could take a thumping. Not just from the distinct possibility of a set of blue lights in the rear vision mirror, but in visiting the bowser.

On The Inside Is:
A mix of “standard” GS trim and a 10th Anniversary specific splash of blue. It contrasts vibrantly and perhaps not entirely harmoniously with the black. There’s blue suede on the upper dash and enough of it to make Elvis envious. There are blue hues on the powered, vented and heated, front seats with a white strip at the 12 o-clock, matching a similar strip in the driver’s pew. The rear seats and tiller also get swathes of blue. The engine bay doesn’t miss out, with the intake runners also copping the blues. The front seats have vents at the top, allowing a driver to fit proper race harnesses should track days be the choice.The dash is, finally, a normal looking design, not the multiple “mountain fold” look that Lexus has favoured. As a result there looks like more space, a clearer ergonomic layout, and a balanced look with the dials and analogue clock. The upper dash is dominated by the non-touch info screen, and controller aside, the depth of colour and clarity make it an excellent unit. That’s the same description that can be applied to the HUD, or Head Up Display. When properly positioned it becomes subliminally useful, there and knowing about it without consciously thinking of it.The steering wheel has the traditional Lexus layout for buttons to access info on the mostly full colour LCD screen and again the ergonomics is spot on. Said screen changes look and colour depending on which driving mode you select, however there’s a slight oddity. Semi-tucked away to the bottom right is the speedo. It’s an analogue dial, not digital. At the bottom left is a LCD display that shows lap times, torque split, and G-Force readings. As usual there is apps aplenty for the front seats, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Audio is courtesy of Mark Levinson and it’s beautiful to listen to. The DAB tuner is better than some, but still suffers from the same drop-out points. When tuned in, the system provides plenty of low end punch without distortion, and staging is quite impressive.On The Road It’s:
Every rude word kind of fun.

The GS F is an absolute delight to drive. It is a mechanical metaphor for strapping on your favourite gloves or boots, and knowing that a mere thought will yield a result. Throttle response is instant, a change of forward motion is instant, and at any speed. The brakes are divine too. Brush the pedal with the lightest caress and there’s feedback straight away. That goes for the steering. It’s brain quick in how it responds with even the barest touch seeing the nose track left or right. Uprated dampers add extra stiffness and improve the already excellent handling.

For lovers of sound there’s little better than the beautiful noise from front and rear of the GS F. On a push of the starter, there’s a momentary whirr before a basso profundo grumble from the four rear exhaust tips. Slot the gear selector into drive and the rumble drops in tone. Gently squeeze the accelerator and the GS F moves away with the docility of a sleepy kitten. Belt the living daylights out of the same pedal and you unleash a sleep deprived, very hungry, and very angry big cat.

The exhaust note will vary from a gentle burble to a vicious, snarling, ear ripping roar.The superbly sorted eight speed is a gem and helps with the exhaust note. Run up through the rev range and there’s a change in snarl as the ratios go up the ladder. Changes are invisible, and the eight ratios shake hands with the engine’s revs across the numbers. Manual shifting is on offer via the steering column mounted paddle shift, but they’re effectively pointless, such is the crispness of the transmission naturally. Flip the centre console mounted mode selector to Sports or Sports + and the response is incrementally even more rapid. Sports was the best compromise with defineably better off the line, and rolling gear, acceleration, with down-changes on Sports+ too long for true usability in a normal urban drive.

The centre console houses a button to adjust the torque at the driven end. Torque Vectoring Differential is the fancy name for it. It gives Standard, Slalom, and Track, with the second two best used in a race track driving day environment. And with the 50/50 weight distribution, land changes are instant.Naturally there is plenty of safety equipment. Packaged under the name of Lexus Safety System+, it incorporates rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitor among its suite of technologies.

The Outside Is:
Pretty damned good to look at. That aforementioned grey coats the slinky and sinuous curves of the GS sedan perfectly. There is a carbon-fibre rear lip spoiler sitting atop a 520L boot, some subtle plastic add-ons for extra aero streamlining. The pernicious grip levels of the GS F comes from the Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber at 275/35/19 that wrap black painted alloys, slotted discs, and those blue painted callipers.The “spindle grille” seems restrained on the GS F 10th Anniversary, blending nicely with the dark grey matte paint. It splits LED gead- and running-lights, and huge air intakes big enough to swallow a small car. A restrained use of chrome adds some visual contrasts.The Warranty Is:
Four years or 100,000 kilometres, with the additional benefit of Lexus Drive Care. That covers items such as a up to $150 one way taxi fares, a courier service for small parcels, even personal and clothing costs up to $250. Contact Lexus for servicing costs, though.

At The End Of The Drive.
The 2019 Lexus GS F 10th Anniversary is an absolute weapon. It’s tractable enough to be gently driven to the proverbial corner shop, and brutal enough to pick a fight with a great white shark, armed with a .50 cal, and win.

And why a 10th anniversary edition? Simple. Lexus has ten years of the F Sport range under its belt, and this is one excellent way to celebrate.

Info on the 2019 Lexus GS F is here.