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2020 Toyota Kluger Revealed.

Toyota has released details of the forthcoming Kluger. It stays with a petrol engine, doesn’t add a diesel, but does go to a hybrid drivetrain. The petrol V6 engine, at 3.5L and recently updated to provide 220kW, will be bolted to an eight-speed auto while the hybrid benefits from a new generation 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine matched to a hybrid powertrain.

This is shared with the current Camry range. A torque split system in the all wheel drive versions will have a mainly front drive bias, but can send up to 50% of torque to the rear as required. A torque vectoring system will add extra agility, with splits between left and right as well as front to rear.Overall, the Kluger looks familiar but is virtually a new design from the ground up. It’s slipperier which means wind and road noise should be lowered, plus a more aerodynamic shape should add extra kilometres of range per litre of fuel. The design is part of the Toyota New Generation global Architecture, or TNGA.

It will be longer by 60mm than the soon to be superseded model, allowing better access to the second and third row seats, and increasing room all around. This includes an extra 30mm slide length for the second row seats. There will be plenty of safety tech on board to protect the occupants as well.Autonomous emergency braking, radar cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and speed-sign recognition are expected to be standard equipment. Also expected is a 12.3 inch touchscreen, and it’s fair to expect that Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will be embedded. Outside is a slimmer, more streamlined body and will roll on 20 inch wheels for the first time.

Released at the 2019 New York Motor Show, details of on-sale date and price for Australia are yet to be confirmed.

 

 

The EV From Down Under

We were all very sad when we got the news that those iconic Australian cars – Ford and Holden – were no longer going to be manufactured here and that the factories were closing their doors. However, we can all smile again for the sake of the Australian automotive industry: a new company in Queensland is going to manufacture a car from scratch.  Great!

There’s a slight difference with this newcomer, though. Unlike the gas-guzzling Ford Falcons and Holden Commodores (OK, they were a bit better when driven on the open road but that’s another story altogether), this new company, ACE EV, is turning its eyes to the hot new sector of the automotive industry: electric cars.

Well, to be more specific, it’s going in for electric vans and commercial vehicles as well as cars.  And, to be fair, the factory is going to be using some parts that were manufactured overseas as well as a few made here.  The idea is to keep the costs down.  They’re not out to produce Tesla clones at Tesla prices.  Not that there’s anything wrong with Tesla per se and it’s neat to see electric vehicles that have bust out of the boring, crunchy-granola, wimpy image and become supercool.  However, a brand new Tesla probably costs more than what I paid for my house.  ACE EV, however, wants to make EVs more affordable for the typical tradie or suburban family.

ACE EV stands for “Australian Clean Energy Electric Vehicles”.  Proudly Australian, their logo features a kangaroo on the move.  This year (2019), they are launching three vehicles, targeting tradies as well as your typical urban motorist, although they’re only selling them to companies as fleet vehicles at this stage.  These are the ACE Cargo, the ACE Yewt and the ACE Urban.

ACE Cargo

The Cargo is designed to, um, carry cargo.  It’s a van that’s capable of carrying a payload of 500 kg and has a range of 200 kg if it’s not carrying the full load. The Cargo is designed to be suitable for couriers and anybody who has to carry gear or people from one side of town to the other: florists, caterers, cleaners, nurses and the people who carry blood samples from the medical centre to the lab for analysis. Looks-wise, it’s broken out of the square box mould of traditional vans, probably for aerodynamic reasons, and resembles a single-cab ute with a hefty canopy.

Ace Yewt

Which brings us neatly to the Yewt.  The Yewt is what it sounds like (say Yewt out loud if you haven’t got it yet). It’s a flat-deck single-cab ute and as it’s got more or less the same specs as the Cargo regarding load, charge time and acceleration. You’d be forgiven for thinking that t it’s the same thing as the Cargo but with the cover on the cargo area taken off.  It’s something of a cute ute – and the contrasting colour roof is a nice touch.

Last but not least, there’s the Urban, which is no relation to the Mitsubishi with the notoriously weird name (Active Urban Sandal).  This one’s still in the pipeline and they haven’t given us the full specs brochure yet (it’s due for release later this year), but this is a classic four-seater compact three-door hatch that looks a bit like a classic Mini but edgier.

It’s certainly nice to see some new vehicles made in Australia for Australians, especially given that in a recent poll, about half of all Australians in an official survey by the Australia Institute would support a law that all new cars sold after 2025 should be EVs.  However, let’s not rush things too much yet.  For one thing, EVs are only one of the Big Three when it comes sustainable motoring (biofuels and hydrogen are the others).  The other thing is that all energy has to come from somewhere, even electricity, as stated by the First Law of Thermodynamics.  This means that in order to charge your EV, you’re going to have to generate the electricity somehow and get it to the charging points.  Before we go over lock, stock and barrel to EVs, we will need better infrastructure, and I don’t just mean more EV charging points around town and in our homes.  We’ll need some more generators.  Otherwise, it would be like setting up a bowser but having no petrol to put in it.  If everybody were to try charging their EVs at home overnight, there would be a massive drain on the national grid and we’d be getting brownouts and blackouts all over the show –which means that watching TV, catching up on your emails, having a hot shower and cooking dinner would get rather difficult – and you wouldn’t be able to charge your EV either.  Guess where the power companies will have to get the money from in order to build new power plants – that’s right: your power bill.

May I humbly suggest that before you invest in an EV for your commute that you also consider installing a solar panel or three on your home?  Or a wind generator?  Not one of those petrol or diesel-powered generators – swapping an internal combustion engine in your car for one in the back yard isn’t better for the environment now, is it?  Unless you run it on biofuel or hydrogen.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 SsangYong Rexton Limited.

This Car Review Is About: The redesigned SsangYong Rexton. It’s part of a three model range from the Korean car maker, with the Musso and Tivoli the other two. The Tivoli is to be replaced by a name semi-familiar to Australians in the form of Korando. Under The Bonnet Is: A diesel engine for the Limited. The Euro6 compliant 2.2L pumps 133kW and 420Nm through a Mercedes sourced eight speed auto, down to the rear wheels or all four in a high and low range choice. The transfer case is engaged via an electronically operated system, accessed by a jog dial in the console. The torque is available from 1600 through to 2600rpm. Go for the petrol fed powerplant in the lower models and the gearbox is from Aisan.

Combined fuel consumption is rated as 10.4L/100km, with 13.9L/100km in the urban drive cycle. Get out on the highway and SsangYong says 8.4L/100km. We finished on 10.9L/100km from the 70L tank for a mainly urban drive.

On The Inside Is: A superbly appointed cabin, complete with a diamond stitched quilt pattern in the leather adorning the seats and dash. There is a splash of faux wood in a grey plastic which both contrasts and complements, somehow, the dash design. Otherwise, there is a swathe of alloy hued accents in the doors housing the tweeters for the sound system and the three memory settings for the driver’s seat. The seats themselves are super comfortable, with plenty of padding and support. Heating and venting is a smart choice for the Australian spec cars and there’s heating to a Goldilocks temperature steering wheel. It’d be even better if the tiller itself was thicker to hold. It’s a seven seater too, with the third row fully folding and easy to operate via the pull strap system. The rear windows have privacy glass and do a great job of keeping Sol’s UV rays at bay from the side.

The centre dash section is akin to the other Korean brands. A clean layout to the switchgear for the anciliary controls and again in an alloy look adds an extra touch of class. The eight inch touchscreen looks good but doesn’t have satnav, nor does the audio side feature DAB. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay stand up to offer those services instead. The driver has a full colour screen as well, and the speedometer offers three different looks, along with tyre pressures, audio, and more. The gear selector has a toggle switch for manual shifts, and its both plasticky in feel and a little awkward to operate. There’s also a 360 degree camera view system installed and Rexton gets LED lights inside and out, including the glowing sill plates.The rear and middle rows get their own aircon controls, with the cargo section seats having a simple dial and a pair of twist operated vents. There’s a separate cargo cover that’s a bit fiddly to operate. The centre row gets an additional extra, a power socket that for the Aussie market needs an adaptor if you’re looking to plug in a cooling unit or a generator. A cooling unit isn’t a bad idea, in context, as the full length glass roof in the Limited has a thin white cloth shade and heat builds up quite easily.On The Outside:Is a completely revamped look. It’s not unfair to say the SsangYongs seen previously were ugly, very ugly. The Rexton looks more like a “traditional” SUV and is a big unit at that. It stands over 1.8m, is knocking on the five metre long mark, and is close to two metres wide. This adds up to plenty of interior space and an imposing presence on road. Rubber is big and comes from Kumho. Wheels are chromed alloys and the package on the Limited is 255/50/20.

The doors and wing mirrors feature LED lighting and the headlights have high intensity discharge lamps, as well as LED driving lights. It’s a far more cohesive look than the previously far too angular version Black urethane highlights the wheel arches and joins each end along the body. Some gentle curves in the sheetmetal lend an extra softness to the look, and draw the eye towards the front doors. The rear door is power operated and opens up to reveal a maximum of 1806L of space when the rear and centre rows are folded. Access to the centre and front seats is easy thanks to the wide opening doors but a little bit of gymnastics is required otherwise to enter the rear.Out On The Road It’s: An 80/20 mix. Eighty percent pretty good, dragged back by the twenty percent not so. Of real note is the horrendous lag from a standing start. Even though there is 420Nm available from just 1600rpm, getting the engine and turbo to spool up feels like watching paint trying to dry on a damp autumnal day. It’s an unusual feeling considering most diesels now don’t have that gap between the press of the pedal and forward motion. Once on tap though, the Rexton, which weighs around 2100kg, has some seriously good hustle.Load up the go pedal with a heavy right foot, and the drive system gets that 420Nm through to the rear rubber which will happily chirp the tune of wheelspin momentarily. The traction control gives it a second or two before there is the briefest of powerflow interruptions and the big rubber hooks up. The steering then becomes the second part of the equation. It’s a loosely connected sensation, with what feels like a half turn for a quarter turn of the front wheels left and right. There is a mechanical feeling to it, with a sensation of no damping in the setup. This means that the road surface and the engine’s vibrations are transmitted through and there is extra steering movement and adds a measure of twitchiness.

The ride is on the hard side, but doesn’t mean it’s either sporting or uncomfortable. Flat roads are great but find a bump or ridge and there’s less than expected give in the way the body rebounds. Think of the bump-thump your car has and add extra bump. It also means that body roll is virtually existent and the more rapid changes of direction have the Rexton Limited sitting flat. It’s a coil sprung front and a multi-link rear.Braking becomes the last part of that 20%, with a lack of feedback, a soft travel, and a real need to press down to get a sense of retardation. Along with the turbo lag, it adds up to needing to plan a little more than should be needed when it comes to moving the big machine around. Balancing that is the excellent response to the accelerator. When the revs are right in the sweet spot, response time is on point, and the Mercedes sourced seven speeder slurs through efficiently, quickly, quietly.

What About The Safety? No problems here. AEB and Forward Collision Warning go hand in hand, as do Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Detection. Lane Change Assist and High Beam Assist, along with a full suite of airbags including kneebag for the driver ensure the Rexton Limited is a safe office. Tyre pressure monitoring is on board and available as a visual option in the driver’s display.And The Warranty?There has to be something in the water in Korea, as SsangYong go up against Kia by offering seven years. Whack on unlimited kilometres, a good service schedule and pricing, plus seven years of roadside assistance.

At The End Of The Drive:If there’s any real indication of Korean car companies improving quicker than anticipated, it’s SsangYong. Given what the brand offered just a few years ago across the range, this car, the Rexton Limited, and the others such as the Musso four door ute and Tivoli small SUV, to be replaced by the shape of Korando, the brand is on a sharply upwards inclined trajectory. Ignore this one at your peril. Here is where to find out more.

Car Review: 2019 Suzuki Vitara AllGrip Turbo

This Car Review Is About: The revamped for 2019 Suzuki Vitara range, specifically the 1.4L Boosterjet AllGrip. It sits at the top of a tidied up three tier range. There is a choice of a 1.6L normally aspirated engine, a 1.4L 2WD, or the AllGrip as tested. The range starts at a decent $22,490 plus ORC, the turbo 2WD is $29,990, and the AllGrip is $33,990. Options and metallic paint are separate costs items, at $500 for metallic and $1,250 for the two tone choice. There are eight choices available and the test car was in Atlantis Turquoise Pearl with Metallic Black roof. The naming structure has also been revamped to reflect, simply, that it’s a Vitara, Vitara Turbo, and Vitara AllGrip.Under The Bonnet Is: 103kW and 220Nm. The torque is available from 1500rpm through to 4000rpm. Transmission in the AllGrip is a six speed auto only. A slightly different version is available for the 2WD and you can spec a five speed manual for the 1.6L. The turbo drinks 95RON from a 47L tank and is rated as 6.2L/100km on a combined cycle. It’s attached to a dial that brings up Auto, Snow, Sport, and Lock, for those times where more torque for the rear wheels is required. And there is no longer a diesel. Suzuki rates the gross vehicle mass, GVM, as 1,730kg.

On The Inside Is: A slightly made over interior. The most notable change is to the driver’s display. There is a full colour 4.3 inch screen, and this shows the drive modes in high definition. It’s beautiful to read and very easy on the eye. The AllGrip gets a G-force meter, a kilowatt and Nm pair of of circular graphs, a bar graph for brake and accelerator. The drive modes themselves are available via a centre mounted dial. The newly recovered for a soft touch binnacle itself has two push stalks, located at the ten and two o’clock positions on the silvery toned dials and a little hard to find otherwise. Aircon is dial controlled and Suzuki looks towards Lexus by adding a small but classy looking analogue clock that sits between the two centre mounted vents.Seats are manually operated in the AllGrip, and really should be powered here. Trim was a black diamond cloth with leather bolstered sides, and were super comfortable. The normal plastics on the dash and doors didn’t appeal or seem as being of the quality to look at and touch in a top level vehicle but a light gunmetal insert that runs full width does add a splash of colour.Front leg room for the driver and passenger were more than adequate, rear seats had plenty for people to a certain (teenaged) size and have privacy glass too. ISOFIX child seat mounts are standard, and the cargo area is adequate without being overwhelming in a small SUV. It starts at 375L, and maxes at 1,120L. The tail gate is manually operated. The roof in the review car had a full glass roof and light coloured cloth sun shield, however there was still plenty of heat getting through to the cabin.

Although a top line vehicle, only the driver’s window gets Auto up/down, however it does get auto wipers and auto headlights over the 1.6L model. Cruise control, Bluetooth streaming, satnav, paddle shifts for the auto, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard via Suzuki’s cool looking seven inch display touchscreen and there is a USB/12V socket up front. However there is no DAB tuner.On The Outside Is: A lightly revamped body. The main external change has been to the tail lights. They now have a three bar LED lit interior. 17 inch graphite coloured alloys are standard across the range, and rubber is again from Continental at 215/55. The lower front bar has been lightly reprofiled and has the addition of chrome blades around the driving lights and running horizontally across the lower part of the air intake. LEDs now power the headlights in the AllGrip. The former horizontal bars in the grille have been ditched and now refelct the five bar verticals Suzuki is known for. Parking sensors front and rear plus a reverse camera finish off the externals.

On The Road It’s: A little twitchy in the steering. The weight tends towards the light side and took a day or so to come to grips with the feedback level. Ride quality was also a touch twitchy, with the rebound rates on rougher tarmac quicker than expected. The compact size of the Vitara contributes somewhat to the edgy feel; at 4,175mm in length it packs a 2,500mm wheelbase and and rides on a 1,535mm track. This means irregular surfaces will impact more on a compact footprint than bigger vehicles.

The turbo’s torque spread is the standout here. Although the auto was occasionally indecisive when cold, better when warmed up, the engine was on song from the press of the Start/Stop button. It’s better than flexible for the size of the Vitara but would struggle in anything bigger. Acceleration is around eight seconds to see the century mark and is flexible enough to deal with around town without a quibble.Highway manners are acceptable. It rolls along quietly and without fuss, but when required will spring out of its torpor and boot the AllGrip past slower traffic without question. We also had a chance to test the Vitara at the Werribee 4×4 proving grounds, and its soft-road credibility remains untarnished. The 4×4 mode works in pulling the pugnacious little machine through a flowing creek, through and over mud and muddy puddles, and up and down slopes of up to thirty degrees without a blink.

The Safety Systems Are: The safety package for the 1.4L Boosterjet Vitara is comprehensive too. On top of a seven airbag system which includes the driver getting a kneebag, there is Lane Departure Warning, Hill Descent Control, High Beam Assist, Weaving Alert, Blind Spot Monitor, and Autonomous Emergency Braking. This couples with the Adaptive Cruise Control and Stop/Go function as required. It receives an ANCAP five star safety rating.And The Warranty Is: Five years/140,000 kilometres and comes with a five year capped price service package. The provisio is that the five year warranty is if serviced via the five year plan. Roadside assist is three years but will extend to five is serviced through Suzuki. The service schedule may raise an eyebrow as it’s six months or ten thousand kilometres. The first three services, according to Suzuki’s website are $175 with a maximum cost of $300 at the end of the fourth year.

At The End Of The Drive. The Vitara has always been a fun, small, soft-road capable vehicle. The decision to drop the diesel is a bit odd, but as that fuel seems to be on the nose and petrol/hybrids are on the up in respect to economy…The size of the Vitara is fine, but mainly for single/couples/small kids. The safety package in the AllGrip for a mid $30K or so driveaway price (check with your local dealer) is impressive and the overall driveability also impresses. That service impost though….well…

Suzuki can tell you more, here.

Car Review: 2019 Lexus UX 2.0L & 2.0L Hybrid.

This Car Review Is About:
The “baby” Lexus UX (Urban cross-over)SUV. It slots into a small to mid-sized SUV bracket. There are two engine choices and three trim levels in the range; a 2.0L, and two hybrids designated 250h. There is Luxury, F-Sport, and Sports Luxury, and the hybrids have two different drive-trains. One is front wheel drive, the other is all wheel drive. Both have a 2.0L petrol engine alongside the hybrid system with the AWD having a small, separate, motor for the rear wheels, called the E-Four system. Peak power is rated as 126kW in the non-hybrid, and 107kW in the hybrid according to the brochure, but the website says 131kW for the hybrids as a combined figure. Torque is 205Nm for the non-hybrid, the hybrid 202Nm, with the hybrid’s torque said to be on tap between 4400rpm to 5200rpm for the petrol engine. Economy is rated as 5.8L/100km for the standard version, and 4.5L or 4.7L per 100km for the 2WD and AWD, from the 47L or 43L tanks. Transmissions are the new D-CVT, with a fixed first gear for better acceleration for the non-hybrid and a ten speed CVT for the hybrids. Prices are a little complicated:

Both the UX 200 and hybrid 2WD can be specced in Luxury, Sports Luxury, and F Sport form. The aforementioned AWD is not available in Luxury spec.

According to the Lexus website the driveaway starting prices are around $50,900 for the entry level, $54,600 for the 2WD, and $68,300 for the all wheel drive but the various trim levels don’t seem to be able to be factored in. But…without driveaway pricing the list looks like this. UX 200 Luxury kicks off at $44,450, $53,000 for the Sports Luxury, then $53,450 for the Sports Luxury. Then in the hybrid engine family it starts at $47,950 for the 2WD Luxury, $56,500 for the Sports Luxury and $56,950 for F Sport. Go nuts for the AWD pair and it’s $61,000 for the Sports Luxury and $61,450 for the F Sports.

There there are the option packs. Luxury Pack 1 is $1,550 which includes Hands-free power tailgate, wireless charger, alloy scuff plates, headlamp washer, rear privacy glass, cornering lamp. Pack 2 is $4,050 which is Pack 1 plus a moonroof. The F Sport moonroof is $2500. Then there is the $5600 F Sport Enhancement Pack. This lobs in the moonroof, a punchy 13-speaker Mark Levinson hifi (with all models having a built in DVD player), head-up display, panoramic view monitor and smart key card. THEN there is the $3500 Sports Luxury enhancement pack which adds moonroof, head-up display and smart key card. Got all that? Good.

On The Inside Is:
A car built on the Lexus Global Architecture C platform, which includes the Corolla hybrid and C-HR. It’s a mostly well packaged setup. Front seat leg/head/shoulder room is fine. However rear seat leg room can potentially be compromised. The UX has memory seating and the driver’s seat automatically slides back, and at full stretch is pretty close to the rear seat. Once moved forward, rear seat leg room becomes ok, but not fantastic. Both front seats are heated and vented. The seats front and rear sit inside a 2640mm wheelbase, and that’s inside the overall 4495mm length.Lexus offers a range of interior colours for the materials, with the two cars tested coming with F-Sport White with black accents, and F-Sport Flared Red. The actual materials depend on which trim level has been specified. There is a heightened sense of quality and appeal to the hybrid’s interior trim, with the standard version looking plain and cheap in some areas of the dash.It’s largely a standard Lexus look, with the widescreen information display, analogue dial clock, and console mounted trackpad. It’s still never fully intuitive even with settings to adjust the sensitivity. The UX features a slightly different look to the section south of the trackpad, with four separate tabs to access the radio, stations, and more. The driver’s display has the moving dial that slides left and right, and depending on which orientation it’s in, allows different sporting information such as tyre pressures or a “g-sensor” to show how the UX is moved around. Sports Drive modes are accessed from the binnacle mounted rotary dial. The drive selector is a traditional T-bar style. Wireless smartphone charging is standard also as is a powered steering column.

At the rear is a kick activated tailgate. This reveals a high cargo floor, meaning a little extra work is required to place luggage or shopping. As a result of the height, overall capacity is moderate, with 330L an average between the variations. Only the entry level gets a spare, and it’s a space saver at that.Audio comes from a Lexus bespoke system or Mark Levinson system, with DAB, Bluetooth, and an in-dash DVD player. Punchy, clear, beautiful.

On The Outside Is:An edgy, angular mix, with the Lexus spindle grille front and centre. A striking feature of the UX’s rear is the mix of full body width tail light and aerodynamically positive light clusters. In fact, the whole body is edgy to assist air flow up and over, and along the sculpted sides. However, the rear indicators aren’t what we’ve seen on other Lexus vehicles, with a broad sweep from inside to out. These are normal flashers and small to the eye at that. Front lights are self-levelling LEDs, and have the eponymous L shaped LED driving lights.In profile a low roof line emphasises the height of the nose section and not quite semi-circle wheel arches that flow gracefully into the wing mirrors up front and mirror the aero of the tail light cluster. 17 and 18 inch alloys with dark gunmetal paint contrasted with the Celestial Blue and White Nova colours as supplied. Rubber is from Dunlop, 225/50 on 18s for the F-Sport and Sports Luxury, and 215/60/17s for the Luxury.On The Road It’s:
Two different kinds of cheeses, as opposed to chalk and cheese. The standard 2.0L launches hard, the hybrid launches harder. Considering kerb weights starting at 1490kg through to just under 1700kg, the feel is good. Both CVTs act like CVTs on a light throttle, and move towards more traditional auto changes with a heavier foot. The steering is a variable ratio setup and works best at slow speeds such as parking in carparks. Oddly, it also feels as if the turning centrepoint is almost underneath the driver’s seat.

The standard UX is softer in the rear than the hybrid provided, and both exhibited the same rear end lateral skip on the sweeping right hnader that has an expansion joint running across. Call it bump steer for the rear. It’s a MacPherson strut front and trailing wishbone rear, by the way. On the flat roads it’s stable, comfortable, well damped in both, and only on the worst of the coarse chip covered tarmacs did tyre noise make its way through.

Brakes felt marginally better in the hybrid, not unexpectedly, and the dash in the hybrid has the traditional energy expenditure/recovery display to give the driver an idea.

The Safety Systems Are:
Lacking for nothing. AEB, Forward Collision Alert, Blind Sport Alert, Parking Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Radar Active Cruise Control, Substantial. Lexus call the umbrella package Lexus Safety System +. Items like auto headlights, wipers, and tyre pressure warning are also standard.And The Warranty Is:
Starting to fall behind. Standard warranty is just four years, and considering Toyota recently moved to five it’s not unreasonable to presume Lexus will do the same…eventually.

At The End Of The Drive.
They make for a nice pair of cars but even with a pair of ISOFIX child seat mounts, AWT can’t shake the niggling feeling that Lexus has set the UX to be the entry level to the Lexus SUV range. There is barely enough room for older primary school aged children in the rear seats and the layout of the cargo space speaks the same story.

Hyundai Kona Electric Is Revealed.

Hyundai Australia has teased and drip-fed information about the fully electric Kona, and now have provided a full overview. There are two crucial points in the information, with the first being the expected usable range from a full charge. That’s 449km. The second is the retail price. That’s $59,990 plus on road and government costs.80% charge from zero can be reached in as little as 54 minutes when plugged into a 100kWh charger, otherwise will take longer from the more easily accessible charging stations and from a home based charger. A 50kWh charger will take 75 minutes to reach 80% whilst the onboard 7.2kWh charger will take over nine hours using a domestic current setup.Power and torque from the 64kWh battery powered motor is substantial. It’s rated at 150kW, and 395Nm of torque. They’re good enough to get the Kona Electric to 100km/h in 7.6 seconds. Drive is via a single gear style transmission, and the Kona Electric has a regenerative system that can be adjusted on the fly via the paddle shifters. Smart technology allows the driver to bring the vehicle to a stop simply by holding the left paddle.There will be two model levels, the Elite and Highlander. Both will have the same drivetrain. Both will feature the same high specification safety package as well. Called SmartSense it features Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Forward Collision Warning, Smart Cruise Control with a Stop and Go function, and a Driver Attention Warning to alert drivers of potential fatigue.

Lane Keep Assist, Blind Sport Collision Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Collision Warning will also be standard. Also standard will be DAB+ pumping through an eight speaker Infinity system, Apple CarPLay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, and accessed via an 8.0 inch touchscreen. Highlander gains wireless charging for compatible smartphones, a glass roof, powered front seats with venting and heating, and a heated tiller. Extra tech comes in the forms of a Head Up Display, High Beam Assist, LED lighting front and rear, and a frontal park assist system. Hyundai Auto Link, a smart app, allows owners to stay in contact and monitor their car. A SIM module is required for the Kona Electric.The exterior has some discernible changes compared to its petrol powered sibling, notably the closed in front end. The rear bumper has been reprofiled for better airflow, and the rear lower lights have been given a change too. Wheels will be 17 inches in diameter. A choice of six colours (metallic is a $595 option), Galactic Grey and Phantom Black, Ceramic Blue, Pulse Red, Lake Silver and Chalk White, come with choices (depending on exterior colour) of interior trim. and a no cost two-tone body & roof option on Highlander will be made available.

Ride quality should be on point, thanks to the local engineering and development team. An independent multi-link rear and MacPherson strut front have been fettled to suit the weight and balance of the battery powered Kona. 15 front and 22 rear suspension designs were looked at, along with six spring and damper combinations.Andrew Tuitahi, the Hyundai Motor Company Australia Senior Manager of Product Planning said:“The low centre of mass brings lots of benefits that seem obvious, but also many challenges that were new to us. This demanded different damper design and spring choices, to the end that Kona Electric shares very little in its ride and handling package with its petrol-powered sibling.”“The Kona Electric powertrain and weight distribution required a very different approach to tuning compared with the conventionally engined Kona, and naturally defined a different brief.” He also said: “The powertrain is so silky-smooth and quiet, we felt that it demanded a smooth and quiet ride quality to match. In meeting our standard for comfort and dynamic ability, the vehicle we have ended up with is full of character and charm.”

Here and there are aspects of weight saving, such as the alloy front control arms, Advanced High Strength Steel (10% lighter and twice as rigid as normal mild steel), plus adhesives to back up welding points.

Servicing is every 15,000 kilometres and comes with a fixed $165 cost. The abttery comes with a 8 year or 160,000 kilometre warranty. Contact your Hyundai dealer for more details.

Kia Drops Optima, Hyundai Unveils Sister Sonata.

Kia Australia has announced that the under-performing Optima is to be dropped from the Australian lineup. With the medium car segment shrinking and Optima moving just 54 units in January and February of 2019, the handsome and stylish front wheel drive machine is destined to be deleted as a sales choice by year’s end. However, as good a car as it is with a superb ride and sharp handling, the fact that the sales of the bigger Stinger have increased, and with close to 2000 units moved last year, but just eight percent of those being the sparkling turbo four as found in the Optima, the Optima’s future is clouded.

Kia itself has declared its electric intent, with the Soul looking to move to a purely electric platform. The petrol version’s sales has collapsed, and rather than continue with either the petrol or hybrid versions, as another small SUV is planned for Australia, Kia Australia will trial the Soul as a battery powered option only. Kia has also waved goodbye to the almost invisible Rondo.The newly updated Cerato hatch and sedan have grown in size, and by becoming closer overall to the Optima, and now packing turbo engines in the GT options, have given buyers a choice largely no longer taken up in the medium sedan segment.Kia’s majority shareholder owner, Hyundai, has unveiled their new Sonata though. Sister car to the Optima, the 2020 Sonata debuts a new design and features a more coupe styling. The rear features lights that do more than nod towards a Swedish influence, whilst the new nose has strong influences from the European mainland makers. Inside Hyundai have moved towards the Japanese and European high dash mounted screen as seen in Audi and Lexus, for two examples.Overall height is down by 30mm, whilst overall width is up by 25mm. This gives the 2020 Sonate a sleeker and more purposeful stance on road. That’s helped by a longer body and wheelbase of 45mm and 35mm respectively.

The current expected release date is in late 2019.

Car Review: 2018MY Toyota Prado GXL

This Car Review Is About:
A vehicle from Toyota that I had not driven before. With such an extensive range of vehicles from Toyota, the Prado was the one that has eluded the review section. Unless if you count the FJ Cruiser, which was loosely based on the Prado. We tested the GXL spec Prado, the second level of four, with the model receiving a light freshen up in mid 2018 that changed one key feature….Under The Bonnet Is:
A diesel engine of 2.8L capacity. The 4.0L petrol V6 is long gone. Transmission is a choice of six speeds, with a manual or self shifter. It’s a permanent four wheel drive, with a simple choice of high or low range. The test vehicle has the auto, making great use of the 450Nm and 130kW. Toyota quotes a combined fuel consumption figure of 8.0L per 100 kilometres. Our mainly urban cycle finished on a reasonable 10.8L/100km. That’s from a 2,325kg plus fuel and cargo machine. Towing for the auto is rated up to 3,000kg braked, 2,500kg braked for the manual.On The Inside Is:
Clear evidence of a design that is some years old now. Seven seats aside, it’s the look and feel from the driver’s seat that tells the story of how easy it is to update an exterior, and not so for the inside.Plastics have a slightly tired look and feel, the centre dash stack has an outdated silver hue, and the overall design is a number of squares and rectangles, lacking the wraparound style now more commonly seen. The seats are of a smooth vinyl/leather look in the test car, with leather accented seats listed as optional for the GXL. Also optional (and fitted to the test car) are heated and vented facilities. These are operated via dials in the centre console.The centre stack is, aside from the silver hue, ergonomic in layout. The lower section has a soft touch lid that sits above the 4WD high and low range dial and the tabs for the centre and rear locking differentials. Up top is an eight inch touchscreen with AM/FM, no DAB for the GXL, and Bluetooth streaming. Satnav is standard. The driver’s dash dials are analogue in the GXL, and the centre 3.5 inch screen is typical Toyota.Centre and rear seats are comfortable enough and easily moved when required. Toyota goes with the best way to move the rear seats and that’s with the tried and proven pull strap system. The right hand side vertically hinged door provides easy access to the rear section but it’s also here that Prado suffers by not being a dedicated people mover. With the third row up storage is just 120L. With them folded it’s a more reasonable 480L, then 1833L with the centre row down. The rears eats also have their own aircon controls, making for a three zone system.On The Outside Is:
A strong family resemblance to the Land Cruiser is engineered in thanks to a smoother look. The front and rear design do away with the edges and, as a result, with a more smoother and rounded look, looks more like the Land Cruiser than before. The LED driving lights and slimline headlights also bring more of the family look.The biggest change to the design, one that seems almost invisible before the head slap is the removal of the tail gate mounted spare wheel. It’s now located under the rear seats, underneath the car itself. Aesthetically it looks better but it reduces the mass on the door and makes it easier to operate. The door itself has a horizontally hinged glass door for access if required.The overall Prado design hasn’t changed since the very first model. High riding, a blunt & bluff nose, a solid looking glasshouse, and a kink to the rear window & door line. Rubber is big as well, with Dunlop AT20 Grand Trek 265/60 tyres on classic 6 spoke 17 inch alloys.On The Road It’s:
Somewhat rubbery in the steering, but that seems to be more along the lines of allowing for off-road action. That 450Nm is between 1600 to 2400rpm for the auto, and makes for effortless driving in virtually all conditions. Off the line is a moment of hesitation, then the turbo kicks in and the torque does its job.Braking is responsive and needs to be with the bulk of the Prado. The pedal bites easily and is delicious in its feedback through the travel, amuch needed sensation and again related to the mass. There is some body roll at highway speeds and moving lane to lane, otherwise it’s minimal.Off road the Prado got to show off its much vaunted ability. And in no way did it develop in a driver any sense of disappointment thanks to the double wishbone front/4 link rear suspension. Up and down rocky, gravelly, muddy roads, though deep washaways and soft surfaces, the Prado’s legendary prowess was well and truly displayed. Put into low range, with diff locks and hill descent control engaged, it crawled liked a seasoned soldier through a tactical course. Grip was confident, assured, composed, with the slightly soft steering now showing why. With the front wheels moving around, it allows a more intuitive control when off road. And when engaging low range, it brings up on the driver’s dash a clinometer, showing side and fore and aft angles. Approach angles of 30.4 and 23.5 degrees make for largely easy access in and out.The Safety Systems Are:
Substantial. The automatic gets a hefty dose of safety. Under the name of Toyota Safety Sense the GXL has Lane Departure Alert, Pre-Collision Warning with pedestrian alert, auto high beam, and Active Cruise Control. The GXL has rear sensors but dips out on front sensors as standard. Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Monitor are also not on the GXL, but standard on VX and Kakadu.

And The Warranty Is:
Very good. Every new Toyota bought after January 1, 2019, has a standard five year warranty. Unlimited kilometres is part of the package and Toyota ups the ante by offering a full seven years if the Prado is serviced as per the vehicle’s logbook requirements. Servicing is $240 including GST for the first six services for three years or 60,000 kilometres.At The End Of The Drive.
The 2019 Toyota Prado GXL is a Toyota four wheel drive through and through. The off-road ability is undoubted, and on road it’s decent enough. Outside it’s benefiting from a stronger family resemblance to the 200 Series Land Cruiser but it’s inside that the packaging will benefit from an update.

Regardless, after AWT’s first drive, it didn’t disappoint. Go and find your inner Prado here.

Tesla Reveals V3 Superchargers

Fresh from the success of his Space-X mission to the ISS, Elon Musk‘s other love, Tesla, has released information on a change to their car charging system. Called V3 Supercharging, it brings a massive change in how Tesla cars are charged, and drastically lowers the charging time.

To be rolled out in the U.S. initially, V3 Supercharging moves to a different charging point, with a solitary charging cabinet, as Tesla puts it, with a 1 MW (megaWatt) capacity able to provide a new Model 3 Long Range car with up to 75 miles worth of range in just five minutes and the equivalent of one thousand miles of range in just an hour.The cabinets themselves will now provide one car with one power source, with the previous method a power-share model meaning if two cars were attached to the one charge cabinet, charge rates were slower. By providing a single stream, Tesla anticipates average charge times to drop to 15 minutes for a full charge.

Another innovative change to the Tesla charge system is a pre-warming of the batteries as the car approaches a charging point. Called On-Route Battery Warmup, the onboard system recognises the car’s proximity to a Tesla or compatible car charging point. By warming the battery on approach, it means the chemical makeup of the battery is more respondent to the incoming charge. This is anticipated to reduce charge time by up to 25%.

The overall changes are anticipated to reduce the overall charge time by 50%, and increase the number of cars being charged in the same amount of time.

Tesla will add more to their existing charging system too, with their current V2 superchargers, numbering over 12,000 worldwide, to be updated to a 145kW charge rate. The improvements are forward planning for the release of the recently re-priced Model 3 and the forthcoming Model Y. Asia-Pacific stations are currently scheduled for a Q4 2019 update.

 

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Suzuki Jimny

This Car Review Is About:
The new and reborn fourth version 2019 Suzuki Jimny. It’s a cubical machine, with styling hints aplenty from Jimnys before, comes with a reasonable range of tech, and a pile of charm that’ll fit in your pocket.Under The Bonnet Is:
A 1.5L petrol engine with variable valve timing. It gets grip through to the ground via a four speed auto with overdrive or a five speed manual. With peak power of 75kW @ 6,000rpm and peak torque of 130Nm @ 4,000rpm, the manual is the preferred transmission.

Fuel is fed to the small engine via a fuel thimble of 40-L. Consumption for the 1075kg/1090kg (tare weight) machine is rated, on the combined cycle, 6.4L/100km for the manual and 6.9L/100km for the self shifter.

There is a proper four wheel drive system, with 2WD and 4WD high range, and a transfer case for 4WD low range. It’s a simple push and pull design, and works well. Select Neutral, slide the somewhat notchy lever back for 4WD High, press down and slide for 4WD Low, and that’s it.On The Outside It’s:
Two cubes joined together. One small one, and one larger. That’s the engine bay and the cabin. It is a three door, with the rear door swinging out to a full ninety degree fold from a driver’s side hinge pairing and holds the spare wheel hidden under a black plastic case. The styling cues are plentiful with nods towards history coming from the twin slots embossed into the sheetmetal at the base of the A pillar. Round headlights (with new LED inserts) and separate indicators, combination rear lamps, and a five slot grille complete the history lesson.Paintwork is a choice of six with the test machine clad in a Chiffon Ivory Metallic. Other colours are Kinetic Yellow, Brisk Blue Metallic, Jungle Green, Medium grey, and Superior White, with a Bluish-Black Pearl roof, with the ceiling itself having longitudinal strakes. Black polyurethane wheel arches sit over a broad space between the body and the 195/80/15 rubber.It’s not the biggest thing on the road, with a total length of 3,645mm and that’s the front to the wheel cover. It stands 1,720mm high and is 1,645mm wide. There is plenty of all round vision through the broad glasshouse, and the front screen has a pair of simple looking wipers. The washer jets are powerful but waste water because of the power, with the fluid bouncing off the screen.The grille itself is the same black material as the arch covers and the front bumper, which houses standard globe lit driving lights, doesn’t stand that far out from the grille itself. The short overhangs allow an approach angle of 37 degrees, departure of 49 degrees, and the breakover angle is 28 degrees.The body itself is built on a ladder chassis that incorporates a structure strengthening “x” member, plus an extra pair of cross members to ensure a stiff body. Adding to the strength is a rear axle housing that is bigger than the previous model, adding up to 30% extra rigidity.

On The Inside Is:
A cabin that has largely black overtones. The cloth seats are black, the dash is black, the floor is black, most of the door trim is black. There is a splash of body colour in the doors and around the rear seats, a light grey material covers the upper section of the cabin. The dash itself is old school and not necessarily all in a good way.The good is Suzuki’s elegant seven inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satnav and Bluetooth connectivity. The aircon vents at either end of the dash are the simple push and twirl for direction style, but the centre ones are a rectangular style and don’t feel as if they flow air terribly well.The centre stack holds dials for the aircon controls and it’s a twist for the fan speed and temperature. The design has push buttons for the mode (air flow direction), fresh or recirculating, A/C on and an off tab. The size of the dials makes the information screen in the centre dial hard to read clearly.

The dials sit over four tabs for the power windows, Hill Descent Control, and traction control on/off selector. Underneath them is a 12V socket and USB port. On the passenger side is a grip handle, whilst the driver gets red back-lit analogue dials bracketing a monochrome information screen. The leather bound tiller holds cruise control and audio controls.There are plastic sheets on the back of the folding rear seats which allow wet or dirty items to be placed in the 377L cargo area. That’s a whopping 53L larger than the previous Jimny. The packaging overall is better than before, with the seat hip points increased by 40mm. The seat frames themselves have increased by 70mm in width, and there is a sense of sitting high up in the Jimny for a sense of control and the all round vision.

The plastics themselves look old school but Suzuki says that they’ve been engineered to allow bare or gloved hands to operate the tabs and switches, and the vertical lines of the cabin provide a visual reference point when off-roading.

Info for the driver is from a monochrome screen between two somewhat archaic looking red dials, housed inside a cubical block of plastic. It’s a retro look, yes, but it goes too far in the history lesson.

What About Safety?
It’s been rated by Australia’s car safety body, ANCAP, as three stars. Part of that was to do with its Autonomous Emergency Braking system, with ANCAP scoring it down believing it’s not as effective as it should be. The biggest low point was in respect to pedestrian safety. It does have six airbags, Hill Descent Control, Hill Hold Control, and flashing emergency stop signals. Lane Departure Alert and Driver Waeving Alert are also standard.

On The Road It’s:
Lacking in urge, has a spongy ride (which was partly due to 28PSI in the tyres), has vague steering, and soft brakes. The torque is enough for something resembling acceleration but by no means can the word rapid be included. Bearing in mind the size of the engine versus the Jimny auto’s weight, it should feel more lively. And then factor in the transfer case for low range, and a need for more torque suddenly becomes apparent. There’s enough in the Suzuki parts bin to make this a possibility.

The chassis and suspension don’t feel as well sorted as expected. Even with the tyres bumped to 34PSI it was crabby, squirrelly, in its handling. There was more than expected body roll, squeals from the tyres even in gentle cornering, and no real feeling of the steering being connected to the front. Push on understeer was easily achieved at low (20, 30 km/h). The brakes lack bite and the pedal has perhaps not enough feedback.Off road it’s a different animal. That soft ride tightens up, eating dirt for breakfast, and on AWT’s favoured test track, showed the manners expected. It flattens most of the gravel and rock surfaces with a less intrusive body roll, and ploughed through the deeper puddles in the test track with a mostly confident attitude. The narrow rubber was prone to tramlining though, tugging the tiller left and right with ease.There is one particular section that can be a nuisance for larger off-roaders due to overhangs reducing approach and departure. In 4WD Low, the Jimny was judiciously entered into the dip, and simply crawled out at the other end without a blink. Hill Descent Control was engaged for some downhill testing and although perhaps descending a little too quickly it did at least engage.And The Warranty Is:
Three years or 100,000 kilometres. Have your Suzuki serviced on a capped price program every six months at a dealership over five years and Suzuki offers a five year warranty or 140,000 kilometre warranty.

At The End Of The Drive.
The 2019 Suzuki Jimny is a curious mix of wannabe and nothing to prove. Sure, there’s that safety rating but part of that is due to the exterior design, meaning the pedestrian impact safety rating is down. It’s painfully soft and wafty on tarmac, but has enough goods to delight on gravel and rock and mud. It’s a “proper” four wheel drive thanks to the transfer case but really needs a dose of torque. It’s a car, frankly, that will appeal to those under thirty or to those that wish to relive their late ’80s youth. Neither is a bad thing. Here is where you can find out more.