As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Manufacturer News

Jeep Helps Farmers Across Borders.

Jeep Australia is supporting Farmers Across Borders right now, leading a convoy of road trains from Esperance to Meekatharra to deliver much needed hay to drought-affected farmers.

Twenty road trains loaded with donated fodder departed from the Esperance Shire recently and made an overnight pit-stop in Leonora before reaching their destination, Meekatharra, on Australia Day.

“We’re excited to be delivering fodder to farmers in Meekatharra and surrounding towns this Australia Day,” said Ms Sam Starcevich, co-founder of Farmers Across Borders.

“West Australian farmers continue to face some of the most challenging conditions we’ve ever seen, and our support is needed now more than ever before.”

Jeep Australia will once again fuel the volunteers throughout their journey, providing breakfast and dinner over the 1000 kilometres travelled. Jeep will also provide a fleet of Jeep support vehicles for the Farmers Across Borders team to travel in, as they did for the 2019 run.

“Farmers Across Borders is an incredible cause and Jeep Australia is proud to support the team’s efforts as they give back to the Aussie farmers who so desperately need our help,” said Managing Director and CEO of Jeep Australia, Kevin Flynn.

On average, a road train will need approximately $10,000 of fuel to make the trip, and Farmers Across Borders still need help to fund fuel costs. To donate or find out more information about Farmers Across Borders, please visit the Jeep “Farmers Across Borders” website.

These complement the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners drive at the same time, with 200 trucks full of hay and straw heading to the Armidale region in NSW. Around 10 trucks left Horsham in Victoria on the Thursday morning before the Australia Day weekend, meeting with another convoy of about 30 trucks at St Arnaud, also in the Wimmera, before going onto Burrumbuttock in the NSW Riverina.

Most of the hay will be headed for Armidale, while some will go to farmers affected by bushfires. Mr Sam McGennisken, who had allocated part of his farm as a staging area for the trucks, said he was looking forward to meeting NSW farmers. “It’s just what the farming community is all about; we are more than happy to help out,” he said. “This hay will go straight to the farms and to feeding stock.”

Farmers Across Borders itself is a not-for-profit organisation started by two farmers in Western Australia. Farmers Across Borders help drought affected farmers by delivering donated hay from Western Australia to areas in New South Wales. Farmers Across Borders work with Lions – Need for Feed to provide hay and gather financial donations to facilitate the journey. To read more about Farmers Across Borders and how you can support visit the Farmers Across Borders website

Seat Yourself Even More Comfortably, Says JLR.

Jaguar Land Rover’s “Body Interiors Research division” is working on a morphable seat. Constant micro adjustments in the foam section of the seats thanks to a set of actuators mimic a sensation said to make a passenger feel as if they’re walking. Memory settings allow a tailoring to suit individuals.

Research indicates that a figure of around 1.4 billion are having a lifestyle which involves less and less exercise, and is leading to muscle atrophe in the back, sides, and gluteus areas. This can lead to increased damage in a fall. The rhythm of walking is known as pelvic oscillation, and the simulation of it is said to mitigate the potential of health risks from such a sedentary lifestyle.
UK research figures on a driver covering an average of 146 miles or 234km every week, meaning the technology offers huge potential to overcome the lack of pelvic oscillations.

Dr Steve Iley, Jaguar Land Rover’s Chief Medical Officer, said: “The wellbeing of our customers and employees is at the heart of all our technological research projects. We are using our engineering expertise to develop the seat of the future using innovative technologies not seen before in the automotive industry to help tackle an issue that affects people across the globe.” JLR are seen as a world leader already in this field, featuring multi-directional adjustments, massage functions and climate control fitted across the range. Jaguar Land Rover have a video that illustrates how a driving position to suit can be achieved, with areas of attention such as thigh support and spinal support, even to removing items in pockets.

Destination Zero is Jaguar Land Rover’s ambition to make societies safer and healthier, and the environment cleaner, and projects such as research into reducing the effects of motion sickness and the implementation of ultraviolet light technology to stop the spread of colds and flu are part of Jaguar Land Rover’s commitment to continually improving customer wellbeing through technological innovation.

2020 Audi Q3 Sportback Ready To Roll.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome To The Club: Fiat 500 Gets Update.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Genesis GV80 Showcases Luxury And Technology.

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

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

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

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

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

2020 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Ready To Roll.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Toyota Yaris GR: Potency Is The Middle Name.

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

(Pictures courtesy of Toyota Australia and Motor Magazine.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subaru Joins The Hybrid Family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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