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Mahindra Pik-Up Gets Update for 2018.

Some brands in Australia’s car industry seem to sail under the radar. Sometimes that’s a good thing as it gives the canny and investigative buyer a chance to stand out from the crowd. There’s also a sense of brand loyalty amongst those that do buy, and so it is with Mahindra. The Indian based conglomerate has released an update to the sturdy Pik-Up two and four door ute, covering the drivetrain, exterior and interior, and safety. The trim levels are named S6 and S10.
Drivetrain.
It’s a two body range, the dual cab and single cab (and S6 and S10 for both), with two and four wheel drive available for both. That’s available via a six speed manual attached to a small but grunty Euro V compliant diesel. The capacity is 2.2 litres, and peak power is 103 kilowatts. The important name and number is torque and there’s 330 of them, between 1600 to 2800. That’s smart engineering as it means driveability is enhanced in a real world situation.

In the 4WD versions, it’s a Borg-Warner transfer case putting that torque to the dirt through all four paws plus there’s an Eaton system that will lock the rear diff if slippage is detected.. Tank size is a massive 80 litres, not far off the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s 93L. Economy for the four door is quoted as 8.8L/100 km. There is a single cab due in 2018, with economy slated to be 0.2L/100km better. Towing is rated as 2500 kilograms, braked.Interior.
There’s the visible and invisible. Mahindra have upped the safety stakes, with ABS, collapsible steering column, Electronic Brake Distribution, front airbags as standard. For the family, there’s ISOFIX seat anchor points also as standard. Visibly there’s a six-inch touchscreen in the S10 (CD/MP3 campatoble head unit for the S6)which displays the reverse camera, along with cruise control and satnav, climate control, auto headlights and wipers. The driver’s dash display receives a 3D effect on the analogue dials for better visualisation. There’s an upright design to the dash itself, ensuring plenty of leg room for the driver and passenger, as do the rear sear passengers thanks to some well thought out packaging.Exterior.
The Pik-Up has always had a solid, bluff, look, and this stays. However, the S10 gets a classy mix of black chrome grille with subtle chrome highlights, a reshaped lower air intake for better engine breathing and aerodynamics, with both grille and intake receiving a visual update thanks to black mesh, and a subtle increase to the Mahindra badge.
There’s LED driving lights for the completely restyled headlights in the S10 and restyled foglights as well. Tyres will be P245/75 R16.Release Information and Pricing.
As of December 2017, there will be the 4×4 S6 single cab chassis at $26,990 driveaway. A 4×2 version will be available in early 2018 at $21,990. The 4×4 S6 dual cab will come with either a cab chassis or factory fitted “well side tub” at $26,490 and $29,990 respectively. The S10 trim level and tub takes it to $31,990. There’s a huge range of options available such as snorkel, tow ball set-up, and winch compatible steel bill bars, with more to come in 2018.

Colours are limited to a four choice palette: Napoli Black, Arctic White, Red Rage and De-sat Silver. Warranty is five years or 100,000 kilometres and also includes five years roadside assistance.
For more information on the 2018 Mahindra Pik-Up range, head here: Mahindra Australia

Car Review: 2018 Mitsubishi ASX XLS Diesel AWD

Mitsubishi has a long and proud history with off road capable vehicles and continues that with the ASX range. Private Fleet spends time with the top of the range 2018 Mitsubishi ASX XLS, complete with the same 2.2L diesel as found in the Outlander, and seven speed CVT plus a six speed manual lower in the range.The range itself also offers a petrol 2.0-litre engine, and will power down via the front wheels or come with an all wheel drive system. It’s a mid-sized five seater, in the same bracket as theToyota RAV4. Mitsubishi is offering driveaway pricing deals at the time of writing, with the range starting at an easy on the wallet $24,990 for the LS 2WD petrol. Our test car is priced from $39,990.The engine is good for 110kW, and 360Nm between 1500 to 2750 rpm, making normal driving as easy as blinking. The CVT is well sorted, taking the right foor command and turning it into forward motion easily. The torque allows quick acceleration however doesn’t seem to be as comfortable with overtaking as Suzuki’s Vitara. Economy is good too, with a final figure of 5.9 litres of diesel consumed per 100 kilometres.

Inside, the ASX clearly shows its family oriented design, with leather accented cloth seats, digital radio, a sliding cloth screen for the full length glass roof, plenty of bottle and cup holders, USB charging ports BUT dips out on rear seat air vents and ventilation for the from seats, an almost unforgivable oversight for the Australian market. The plastics are hard to the touch, needing a more modern feel with padding and a softer feel where padding isn’t required. Also, the ovoid design of the console is now showing its age, needing a move to a more human encompassing design. However, cargo room is also looking good, with room for shopping, bags for the weekend way and suchlike, with 393L available with the rear seats up and increasing to to 1143L with the seats folded. Being a compact car in overall length, rear leg room is slightly compromised, with anyone from 180 cm and up maybe feeling a little cramped, but there’s plenty of head and shoulder room, front and rear.Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available, as are DAB/AM/FM (no CD) as is Bluetooth streaming via the 7.0-inch touchscreen. But the reliance on the two smartphone apps means no built in sat nav, even though GPS, showing the coordinates but no navigation, is there. And currently the apps have to be accessed via the phones being connected with cables, a somewhat clunky method and untidy as well.Being the top of the range means loading up with plenty of safety features and the ASX XLS gets the supreme pizza, with Forward Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, and Euro style flashing brake lights for the Emergency Stop System. Autonomous Emergency Braking is not yet fitted to the range however. A reverse camera is standard across the range, as are the ISOFIX child seat mounts and pretensioning seatbelts, Hill Start Assist, and seven airbags including driver’s kneebag.

Back to the driving habits and it’s a typical diesel; floor it and it’ll hesitate as the turbo spools up before kicking the tyres into action. Breathe the right foot over the throttle and you can watch the numbers change quickly and quietly. Economy is rated as 6.0L/100km on a combined cycle from a 60-litre tank and with the ASX being a middleweight, at 1540kg before fuel and passengers, there’s a useable torque to weight ratio. As a result it’ll get off the line, even with the CVT, with a solid rush.When it comes to dimensions, there’s a 2670mm wheelbase hiding inside that compact body, meaning you’ll get a sure footed handling and composed ride in combination with the struts and multi-link suspension. Rubber is from Bridgestone, and they’re 225/55/18s. Exterior styling owes much, like the original Outlander, to the Lancer sedan, with the ASX sporting the same sharp edged, bluff prow. At each corner up front are almost vertical LED driving lights and there’s splashes of chrome. It’s assertive and appealing.The ASX is easy to live with on road, with the steering being light, but attached enough so you don’t find you’re missing out on contact with what’s happening up front. Point and shoot style is how the ASX XLS works and the flexibility of the peak torque makes city driving an absolute doddle. The CVT has no manual mode available via the gear selector, so if you use the paddle shifters you’ll need to quickly slide into Neutral and back out (NOT recommended) to bring it back to Drive, or, when stopped, pulling both paddles back until it re-engages Drive. Although the AWD system is front wheel drive biased, the AWD button mounted in the centre console will direct drive to the rear on demand. If you wish to utilise all of that torque for towing, the ASX XLS will do so up to 1400 kilograms.At The End Of The Drive.
The ASX has received a nip and a tuck here and there over its life however it’s now, like its “doner” car, showing signs of age. Yes, it’s still comfortable and roomy enough for a family of four however the dash design and plastics now lag behind competitors. It’s a fantastic city oriented car with a frugal, punchy, diesel but the value of the Mitsubishi ASX XLS is also beginning to be questionable. In no way is it a bad car, it’s just now not as good as other choices.
Here is where you can get more information: 2018 Mitsubishi ASX range

Car Review: 2018 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S Sedan

Subaru‘s new for 2017 advertising campaign, Subaru Do, features the hatch and sedan version (starting at just under $25K) of their evergreen Impreza, in the same flaming red colour (one of eight for the 2018 Subaru Impreza range), so the prospective buyer can see the external difference between the two as they flick between them. What’s not so obvious is the refinement to the shape and certainly to the inside compared to the just superseded version. Private Fleet takes the red sedan, in 2.0i-S form, for a week after two weeks of the high riding hatch version, the XV.The interior changes are subtle; noticeable yet subtle, and it’s only when you have the previous and current version side by side that you see things such as a relocation of the armrest on the doors, the centre console storage bin (with two USB charging points), the redesign of the air-con and centre dash, even the sweep of the dash itself (with a lovely looking stitched style for the material) as it meets the windscreen glass. S spec also gets a sunroof with aircraft style overheard tabs for operation.You’ll get an eight inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, set below the info screen as is traditional with the Impreza and its siblings (XV, Impreza hatch, Levorg, WRX)some obviously plasticky buttons (a slight step back from the indecisive touch tabs on the previous system), but there’s still room for a hard copy sound in the form of a CD slot. No DAB at the top end is an oversight, given the sheer variety of stations available.The plastics have a higher quality look and feel to them and the controls on the steering wheel have been redesigned for a more obvious yet stylish look. Even the seats seem to have a different feel. The seats in the S were black machine made leather, again with no cooling, and with all doors and sunroof shut, do not make for a comfy pew to plant the backside.Outside it’s tail lights and headlights, with the 460L boot and tail end receiving the C shaped LED inserts. It’s here that a slight oddity in the design manifests, with the reversing lamp in its own little section below the other lights in the cluster. It adds an awkward and unbalanced look to what could otherwise be an otherwise slim look as the trimmer cluster design would finish off the pert backside of the sedan nicely.

The headlights have been streamlined further, with the S getting LED illumination plus a chrome strip for an extra touch of visual class. The refinements as well has the overall profile, have the sedan looking more rakish and coupe like. It’s a tighter, cleaner, look with an overall more cohesive presence, including a slight reprofiling of the shut-line for the rear doors.The 2.0L engine is a willing revver and the CVT in the sedan, much like the XV, is easy to use, easy to drive, and works well. However, this particular transmission was somewhat indecisive and juddery. However, it’s worth noting that this behaviour was more noticeable when it was cold and hadn’t been driven. Manual mode, again, seems to make little difference in speed of change.

However, when everything is in synch, the 115 kilowatts and 196 Nm work to deliver an average fuel consumption around town of 8.4L/100 kilometres from the fifty litre tank holding standard 90RON unleaded, or a combined figure of a more reasonable 6.6L/100 km. We saw those figures in the real world.Ride and handling showed the sedan’s rear end somewhat less prone to the bottoming out as experienced in the XV yet still doesn’t feel as tied down as the front. What you get is more travel at the rear and when loaded up with a standard load of groceries, it’s on the bump-stops just that little easier. The steering lightens just a little though, thankfully ensuring you’re still in contact and being told what the front wheels are doing. With no weight in the back, it’s naturally more connected, with a small measure of sponginess the further left or right you wind on lock.

The all wheel drive system that underpins Subaru is noticeable for feeling like…a rear wheel drive car at some times and a front wheel drive at others. Never does it feel as if it’s confused nor confusing for the driver. Grip isn’t compromised either, thanks to Yokohama‘s brilliant Advan rubber, in this case a 225/40/18 set on gorgeous ten spoke alloy and painted wheels.The Eyesight system fitted to CVT equipped models is a ripper; not only can it sense a vehicle’s distance ahead of yours, it’ll activate an emergency sound if you’re too close and the computers sense you haven’t touched the brake. It’ll allow distance related cruise control and will also alert if the vehicle in front, when you’ve stopped, has moved on. There’s a swag of other safety features including Blind Spot Alert, parking assistance from front and rear sensors (not fitted to all models though), Hill Hold Assist, Lane Change Assist and more.

There’s seven airbags including the driver’s knee, and load limiting pretensioning seatbelts up front. Naturally it adds up to be a safe car to be in and comes with a five star ANCAP safety rating. That’s backed by a three year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with a five year warranty an option (talk to your dealer or broker) which is available to be transferred to a new owner within the warranty period.At The End Of The Drive.
There’s really not a lot to find fault with inside the Impreza sedan in 2.0Li-S spec, including a great price (at the time of writing) of $33K driveaway. No DAB, (a first world problem), no cooling in the seats (a must for an Australian market car), and a softish ride are more than balanced by good looks, great dynamics, useful economy, and a classy style & finish to rival other Japanese, Korean, and European competitors.

In fact, with the Impreza for 2018, Subaru can put this in the middle of that group and smile broadly, in full confidence it will more than hold its own. The sales figures reflect that for 2017, with the XV variant leading the charge whilst the sedan itself is up by 163% on a Year To Date basis, with 988 new homes for it in October, plus the brand itself celebrates its 34th month in a row of increased sales.

Here’s where you can go for more info and book a drive: 2018 Subaru Impreza range

Updates For Jaguar, Haval, Hyundai, and Citroen.

Heading into the 2018 market, a number of companies have released details of updates and changes to key models.

Haval.
The Chinese brand has been maligned for its safety factor in its vehicles however the H2 has been given a five star rating by ANCAP, the Australia New Car Assessment Program. Haval Australia’s Chief Marketing Officer, Tim Smith, says: ““I would like to thank each and every one of the hard-working team of engineers at HAVAL for their efforts in so quickly developing a five-star car for the global market. Customer safety is paramount for the continued development of HAVAL as a global brand and this recognition by ANCAP is just reward for the company’s efforts.We will continue to develop our safety systems, with the introduction of key features such as autonomous emergency braking and lane assist systems in the next wave of HAVAL SUVs.”

Hyundai.
A substantial makeover has been delivered to Hyundai’s big medium sizer, the Sonata. The nose is now more aligned with Hyundai’s new corporate look, with a more hexagonal looking “Cascading Grille” and the headlights have a more slimline appeal. It’s perhaps at the rear, though, that the redesign is more obvious, with a complete change of look to the structure. Underneath there’s a 180 kW/353 Nm 2.0L turbo four in the Premium with the Active retaining the familiar 2.4L four potter, and a new eight speed auto in the Premium. The range has been streamlined, with Active and Premium the two variants available.Inside there’s an uprated eight inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a wireless mobile phone charging pad in the Premium, switches have been relocated for better ergonomics and piano black plastic has been added for a more premium feel.

2018 Sonata builds on its reputation for safety by featuring a host of advanced safety systems and technologies including Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Brake Assist System (BAS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Traction Control System (TCS) and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Emergency Stop Signal (ESS), Rear-view Camera with dynamic guide lines and four sensor rear Park Assist System (PAS) as standard. Premium ups that further with Blind Spot Detection, Driver Attention Alert, Lane Change Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Smart Cruise Control and four sensor front Park Assist.Pricing starts at $30990 for the Active and $45490 for the well specified Premium, with metallic paint an option at $595.

Jaguar.
The iconic British brand has unveiled a new version of its superb flagship model, the XJ, called the XJR575. Powered by the venerable 5.0L supercharged V8, the machine will see the ton in 4.4 seconds thanks to the engine’s 700 Nm and 423 kilowatts. Built on the standard wheelbase XJ, the car will come in two colours, Velocity Blue and Satin Corris Grey. Pricing has not yet been confirmed for the Australian market ahead of the car’s expected Q1 release in 2018.

The XJR575 will receive bespoke sill plates, Intaglio and diamond quilted seating in a two colour range, an enhanced body kit, and and twenty inch diameter wheels.

The XJ range itself receives a huge amount of updates, including 4G wifi, an uprated ten inch touchscreen with customisable interfaces, plus extra safety programs such as Forward Traffic Detection and Autonomous Emergency Braking. There’s also a torquey (700 Nm) 3.0L V6 diesel available, complete with an astounding 221 kW.

Citroen.
The quirky French brand has released the quirky C4 Cactus for 2018. In the same vein as the C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross variants, the Cactus, a compact five door hatchback, rides on a 2600 mm wheelbase and features 12 on-board driver assistance systems. It has unique styling also, with 3D effect tail lights, “Airbump” on the lower half of the doors, plus offers 9 external colours and four colour packs.

The C4 Cactus will also feature Citroen’s legendary hydraulic suspension, with a technology called Progressive Hydraulic Cushions and Advanced Comfort Seats. The car is due for the Australian market in late 2018.

Private Fleet Car Review: Car Review: 2018 Subaru XV 2.0i & S Comparison.

Subaru’s continued product updates continue with a revamp of their XV, first released in 2012 and a car that immediately shook up an already crowded market place. Complete with a higher riding look, black cladding and some cool colours, Private Fleet compares the 2.0i and 2.0i-S Subaru XV level machines, providing an entry and top level comparison.There’s little doubt that the external tweaks have sharpened up an already good looking hatch. The tail lights are the newer C shaped LED style and the front gains the slimline look for the 2.0i and the Impreza LED DRL enclosed style on the S. The 2.oi was clad in a funky Sunshine Orange and the 2.0i-S in Cool Grey.The XV started with the wheel arches getting some extra urethane cladding and the 2018 version stays with it, making the machine look more capable of off-roading, along with the 220 mm ground clearance. There’s a rear spoiler on top of the rear window as standard and the 2.0i-S cops a sunroof.All XV’s are loaded up with roof rails as well, making the once shortish hatch a more imposing 1615 mm in height. That extra ride height lends itself to easier access, both getting in and out, as do the wide opening doors. The tailgate though is manual, even in the top of the range S, meaning people with shorter arms may struggle to reach the door handle when open. There’s a handy 310 litres of cargo space; handy but somewhat compromised also with the space saver spare seemingly located higher in the overall cargo space.. Seats down, you’ll be seeing 765 litres inside the 2665 mm wheelbase machine.Both have the familiar 2.0 horizontally opposed or “flat” four cylinder boxer engine. It drinks from a 63 litre tank standard unleaded and produces peak power and torque of 115 kilowatts and 196 Nm. Transmission is Subaru’s very well sorted CVT which, in the car at least, has less of the slipping clutch feel found in many others. A gentle throttle to start will have the XV hooking up and motorvating much easier… However it’s good for a 0-100 kph time of 10.4 seconds, so any expectation of something approaching rapidity should be put aside. There’s a win in the economy stakes though, with a worst of just 7.2L/100 km and a best of 5.3L/100 km.Although it’s the flat four, the standard exhaust lacks the throb this engine’s aural characteristics are known for. There’s hints of it when pushed hard from standstill but otherwise it’s somewhat lacking in appeal. There’s little road noise as well, allowing the car’s Apple and Android apps fitted system to do its job and, sadly, that’s not that great. The tuner sensitivity was below par with drop outs and static in areas there should be clear signal. The actual audio quality was ok, not great, and DAB tuners would be a nice addition.The audio system is accessed via touchscreen, with the 2.0i having a 6.5 inch screen with the S receiving an 8.0 inch. Naturally there’s auxiliary inputs, in this case awkwardly tucked away in a nook ahead of the gear selector. Bluetooth phone connectivity is standard through the range as well. Inside the centre console storage bin are two five amp USB sockets and another 12V socket. You’ll use these whilst seated in cloth trimmed seats in the 2.0i and gorgeous looking grey/black leather in the S. Yes, the S gets heating but again no venting, a huge oversight for a hot Australian market.The S also gets a sunroof and there’s a tweak here with tabs for the Lane Departure Warning and Collision Warning located in the EyeSight housing. It’s an odd choice given the other tabs, including the off switch for the swivelling headlights, along with tyre pressure monitoring and more, are located in a cluster near the driver’s right knee.All models have Hill Descent Control and X-Mode, with all models bar the entry level having a swag of safety features including Adaptive Cruise and Lead Vehicle Start Alert. There’s the now standard info screens in the top centre dash and centre driver’s binnacle, accessed via tabs on the steering wheel arm and lower left, covering tyre pressures, fuel usage, drive display and the like. There’s also different plastics with the S getting a carbon fibre look garnish and orange stitching.It’s on the road when the fettling of the XV shines…mostly. The rear end is too soft, hitting the bumpstops too easily and even more so with a week’s shopping loaded in. The front end’s travel is too short, with a legal school zone speed over the school zone speedhumps feeling and sounding as if the front end will pull itself out. It’s not a comfortable feeling. Thankfully the handling balances it out, with one noticeable benefit being a lack of need to constantly adjust the steering in a long and sweeping corner. It’s beautiful in weight, requiring some effort to move but not so that it’s going to give you Popeye forearms. It’s well ratioed at around 3.5 turns lock to lock, meaning you won’t be endlessly spinning the wheel for turns and makes shopping carparking so much easier to deal with.The S feels better on the road than the 2.0i, with a tauter ride and more damping in rises and falls. The tyres may have something to do with it also, with the 2.0i having Yokohama BluEarth 225/60/R17s and the S the sole 18 inch entrant, with Bridgestone Dueler 225/60s. The tyre pressures were higher in the S, adding to the firmer ride. There’s plenty of grip from both, with the symmetrical all wheel drive system that Subaru is famous for powering down through all four paws, allowing confident and intensive driving. There’s no lift off oversteer either, as you’d expect, it’s a simple and neutral resettling of the chassis.Although the engine isn’t the gruntiest around, it’s partnered with that very well sorted CVT, which responds quickly to throttle input and is programmed to feel more like a traditional six speed. It’s smooth, shifts quickly, and using the manual change does little, if anything, to improve .The XV starts at around $32500 with the 2.0i and tops out at a recommended price of a few dollars short of $40K. It’s a step up, literally, from the Impreza hatch and represents damned good value. There’s the standard three year warranty and perhaps it’s here that Subaru may need to consider upping that to five as standard rather than an extended version of an extra two years. However it’s nice to know there’s 24/7 roadside assistance.Subaru positions itself as a niche player. A Wheel Thing feels it’s now mainstream as the XV range stands alongside the Liberty sedan, the Impreza range, the Outback wagons, the BRZ and sporty WRX and STi, as offering a car that provides everything the discerning small to mid-sized SUV buyer would want.
Here is where you’ll find the XV and where you can configure one to suit your needs: 2018 Subaru XVBridgestone Dueler

Kia Sorento Updates For Better Value.

Kia‘s award winning large SUV, the Sorento, has been given a mild makeover however it’s enough to provide a fresh look both inside and out. There’s also been some model changes. Here’s what’s been done.
Exterior.
There’s revised front and rear bumpers, new LED head-lamps for the now top of the range GT-Line (Platinum has been discontinued) and tail-lamps for SLi and GT-Line, and a new dark metallic finish to the iconic “tiger-nose” grille. Kia says the result is a more sophisticated and purposeful front-end appearance. A new Gravity Blue exterior paint finish is now available, as well as a new design for the Sorento’s 17-, 18- and 19-inch aluminium alloy wheels. The GT-Line gains bespoke enhancements, including four-lamp LED fog lights, red brake calipers, a more prominent sill step, and subtle GT Line badging designed to distinguish it from other Sorento models, plus a distinctive chrome twin exhaust tip.

Interior.
Inside, the cabin features a newly-designed steering wheel and driver instrument cluster, as well as a new climate control LCD display. The dashboard also features a new Audio Visual Navigation (AVN) system which has increased in size from 7 inches to 8 inches. There’s also an increased proportion of soft touch materials and leather for a more premium cabin ambience. Optional black and stone leather upholstery is also available for Aurora Black and Gravity Blue SLi models. The GT-Line driver’s seat is equipped with four-way lumbar support, plus gains unique paddle shifts and satin chrome highlights. The SLI gets two-way adjustable lumbar support to enhance seating comfort.The new Sorento also offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for full smartphone integration. Android Auto is designed to work with Android phones running 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher whilst Apple CarPlay is best suited for iPhone 5 or newer.

The existing Infinity premium sound system in Sorento has been replaced with a high-end Harman/Kardon® sound system in SLi and GT-Line trim levels. The powerful 640-watt, 10-speaker surround-sound audio system features QuantumLogic with surround sound technology extracting signals from the original recording, redistributing them into an authentic, multi-dimensional soundstage. The final sound result is clear, refined and detailed playback of a driver’s favourite tunes.

Drivetrain.
The new Sorento is the first SUV from Kia available with the company’s new eight-speed automatic transmission. Designed in-house by Kia and launched in 2016, the transmission boasts 143 newly-patented technologies and delivers a slick-shifting, more decisive drive, while reducing emissions slightly, from 205g/km to 190 g/km. The new eight-speed automatic transmission requires fewer control valves, enabling a more direct mechanical link to the engine and is available on Sorento models powered by the 2.2-litre diesel engine and the 3.5-litre petrol engine, replacing the six-speed automatic transmission and the previously available 3.3L V6 petrol engine.

The new transmission offers four different drive modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport and Smart. Drivers can select their preferred mode with the Sorento’s electronic Drive Mode Select system. Each mode enables the driver to customise the powertrain’s responses to driver inputs, enhancing fuel economy or acceleration characteristics depending on driver preference. The Drive Mode Select also adapts the weight of the rack-mounted power steering system, for more relaxed or more immediate, engaging steering responses.

Pricing.
Pricing for the petrol variants is: Si $42,990 (+$2000); Sport $44,990 (previously Si Limited +$1000); SLi $46,990 (+$1000). Diesel pricing is: Si $45,490 (+$1000); Sport $48,490 (previously Si Limited +$1000); SLi $50,490 (+$1000); GT-Line $58,990 (+$500).

A Prancing Horse SUV and Sweden Gets Plugged In.

It’s now confirmed that Ferrari, one of the world’s great luxury sports car makers, will also release an SUV. This brings Ferrari into line with companies such as Bentley, Maserati, Jaguar, and Lamborghini.
Sergio Marchionne, Ferrari’s global chairman, dubbed the vehicle a FUV, a Ferrari Utility Vehicle, during an address in the US recently.With a mooted release date of 2020, currently, Marchionne said: ““We’re dead serious about this. We need to learn how to master this whole new relationship between exclusivity and scarcity of product, then we’re going to balance this desire to grow with a widening of the product portfolio.” Australia’s Ferrari representative, Herbert Appleroth said: “He has certainly given everyone some information on where he is thinking.”

When questioned if an SUV model would be an appropriate addition to Ferrari’s Australian range, Mr Appleroth said any future product would be embraced by the local arm and its customers. “Look, any new model that enters this market is highly popular, whatever that is,” he said. “As Enzo always said, he was asked once, ‘What is your favourite Ferrari?’ And he famously quoted, ‘The next one.’ And I think that is the same for us.

It’s said that the vehicle, in line with Ferrari’s business model model, would be exclusive and limited in release numbers.

Volvo‘s performance arm, Polestar, has unveiled its concept car, Polestar 1, and in a first for the Swedish icon, said that future cars would be exclusively electric. Polestar 1 will be manufactured in a new factory currently being built in Chengdu, China. The engine will be a super- and turbo-charged petrol engine assisted by two 80 kilowatt electric motors. Total power and torque is quoted as being 440 kW and 1000 Nm.

Thomas Ingenlath, Chief Executive Officer of Polestar said; “Polestar 1 is the first car to carry the Polestar on the bonnet. A beautiful GT with amazing technology packed into it – a great start for our new Polestar brand. All future cars from Polestar will feature a fully electric drivetrain, delivering on our brand vision of being the new standalone electric performance brand”.Also, Polestar cars will be ordered 100% online and offered on a two or three year subscription basis. The zero-deposit, all-inclusive subscription will also add features such as pick-up and delivery servicing and the ability to rent alternative vehicles within the Volvo and Polestar range, all incorporated into one monthly payment. However, Polestar will open shopfronts where people can visit and physically interact with a vehicle, enhancing the tactile experience. Polestar commenced taking orders from October 17, 2017.

Holden: The Day For Closing Is Coming. Part Two.

This is part two of an interview conducted with Holden’s PR guru, Sean Poppitt, before the closure of Holden as a manufacturer of cars and engines in Australia.

Speaking of local products…Keeping the Commodore nameplate has seen plenty of discussion as to whether it should stay or not. What has been Holden’s reason for doing so?
There wasn’t one single thing that drove that decision…there’s a number of different factors we considered…one of the first ones was this: we went out and talked to Commodore owners. We went and talked to non-Commodore owners, and we did a really extensive market research piece, sitting down with customers and non-customers and asking that question. The overwhelming response we got was to keep the name. Of course that doesn’t take anything away from people’s right to have an opinion on this, I would wonder how many of those with a negative opinion are Holden or Commodore owners.

Two, we made sure that we were comfortable that the car did everything a Commodore should do. (It’s here that Sean’s tone changed and he became very thoughtful.) What defines a Commodore? Is it local manufacturing? You could argue that it’s that as every Commodore from the start has been manufactured here. Let’s not forget that the first ever Commodore was…an Australian modified Opel Rekord…which we built…and we’ve come full circle…taking an Opel car and making it a Commodore.One of the great things about keeping our Lang Lang proving grounds is it’s allowed us to have our engineers embedded in that program for six years. There’s been well over one hundred and sixty thousand kilometres of local testing, which has given us a unique suspension tune for every single model, a unique engine and gearbox combination which isn’t available anywhere else in the world. We’re talking the V6 and nine speed auto, the advanced all wheel drive system, the adaptive chassis. If it’s going to be a Commodore we NEED it to be able to do X, Y, and Z. This car has everything the last car did and more, but there isn’t the obvious emotional attachment and nostalgic element to it not being built here.

I don’t want at all to make light or not give the gravity that it’s due to the local manufacturing people and the passion the people had for that, and what it’s meant for this country and this brand…by every conceivable measure, the new car is a better car than the old one.
(Sean’s tone becomes lighter here). We always knew that a front wheel drive four cylinder Commodore was going to raise some eyebrows, we knew that, but the four cylinder turbo is the fastest, most fuel efficient, most powerful base engine we’ve ever had in a Commodore, so by every single possible measure that car will be better than the base Commodore we have here.Outside of your preference for front drive or rear wheel drive, for the diehard performance enthusiast we’re going to have a sports car, or, potentially, sports cars in the not so distant future. It’s important to note that it’s really only in the last eighteen months that the sales of V8s in a Commodore has lifted up so high. Over the last ten years 88% of Commodore sales have been V6s, and of that a vast majority have been SV6s.
With Opel now under the PSA umbrella, does this open up the model range available for Australian buyers?
There’s certainly opportunities. We’ve been very clear that the current Opel products that we’re taking, which includes the next gen Commodore and the current Astra hatch, there will be no change to them over the course of their projected model life. Dan Amman, who’s our global president, said, when we were in Geneva recently that there’s more opportunity for Holden, not less.

At the current time, where does Holden see itself in five years time, especially with the new SUVs and Camaro in the frame?
We made a commitment back in, I believe, 2015, that we would launch 24 new models by 2020, which effectively means we’re revamping or replacing every single vehicle in the Holden line-up. I’d also say that right now we have the best “pound for pound” showroom we’ve ever had. And it’s only going to get better; we’ve got Equinoxe coming in mid November, the next gen Commodore of course, next year there’s the Acadia, which gives us this really filled out SUV portfolio, which is obviously great for us as that’s where the market is going.

Our strength, for a long time, has been in large sedans, which is a shrinking part of the market. The growth in SUVs, we’ve been really well represented there in the past, and we’ve got Trax, we’ve got Trailblazer, and Equinoxe and Acadia to come. Even Colorado, that continues to grow, with every month the figures show an increase in sales. It’s about going where the market goes rather than hanging onto a sector of the market where clearly people have voted with their feet and wallets to not be a part of.

When we made this announcement four years ago, back in 2013 (about ceasing manufacturing), which really raised questions about what does Holden stand for, which did have a shadow hanging over the business in a way, we want to stay and remain a clear and solid number four in the market and stay on track to sell one in ten vehicles sold in this country. I think it’s remarkable, too, that in such a tough period we’re still one of the top players in this country. I also think we’ve got a rare and unique opportunity to honour one hundred and sixty years of history and heritage and make sure that Holden means as much to our grandkids as it did to our grandfathers.(It’s a huge thanks to Sean Poppitt for his time and his candid responses, and since this interview Holden has confirmed the Camaro SS will come to Australia as the “halo” car. It also officially unveiled the 2018 Commodore which, effectively, confirms for Commodore the SS badging is no longer…)

Car Review: 2018 Holden Astra LS/LT/LT-Z Sedan

It’s back to the future for Holden as the Astra nameplate on a sedan resurfaces with the sedans developed in Europe and built in Korea. The name replaces the Cruze, itself a resurrection of a previously used nomenclature. We’ve had the European sourced Astra hatch for a while and there’s also a new wagon version on the way. Private Fleet spends time with the mid-spec LT, top spec LT-Z, and entry level LS (there’s also a LS+), all fitted with the same engine and transmission combination.Up front, and the sole choice for a powerplant in the Astra sedan, is a 1.4L petrol engine, complete with turbo and good for 110 kilowatts. There’s 240 torques available between 2000 to 4000 rpm, with an extra five if you go for the six speed manual which is available in the LS only. Recommended go-go juice for the 52 litre tank is 91RON, of which it’ll drink at over eight litres per one hundred kilometres in an urban environment. On the freeway AWT saw a best of 6.3 in the LS and 7.1L/100 km in the LT-Z. Holden’s Astra sedan brochure doesn’t appear to specify weight, however elsewhere it’s quoted as being just under 1300 kilograms.The engine itself is a willing revver, especially so when the torque is on tap…for the most part. What was noticeable was the lag between a hard prod of the go-pedal, the change down a cog or two, and the resulting leap forward. In tighter Sydney traffic when a quick response was needed in changing lanes, that hesitation could potentially result in a safe move not being as safe as it should be. Also, in the LS, a noticeable whine, an unusual note at that, was audible and not found in the LT or LT-Z. Otherwise, once warmed up, the six speed auto had invisible gear changes up and down on a flat road, and downshifted nicely, holding gears, on the bigger downward slopes out west.It’s a trim, lithe, almost handsome car to look at though. It’s a longish 4665 mm in length and hides a boot of good depth and breadth at 465 litres. The rear deck lid does have old school hinges that swing down into the boot space though. The boot on the LT and LT-Z gain a small, discreet, lip spoiler as well. It’s also broad, with over 1800 mm in total width, and stands 1457 mm tall. What this gives you is 1003 mm front headroom, 1068 mm legroom, 1394 mm shoulder room, and in the rear 1350 mm shoulder room. 939 mm and 951 mm are the numbers in the rear for leg and head room.Up front, the three are virtually identical, bar chrome strips in the lower corners of the front bar for the LT/LT-Z. The headlights are LED DRL backed from the LS+ upwards and provide quite a decent spread of light. The headlight surrounds themselves gleam in the sunlight and add a solid measure of presence to the look. Wheels wise they’re all alloys, with a 16/17/18 inch and appropriate tyre size to match. There’s 205/55/16, 225/45/17, and 225/40/18s. And each of these contribute to the ride quality to the differing models…The LS is undoubtably the most plush, soft, of the three, but by no means does it lack grip when pushed. The rubber on the LS is from Hankook, the LT and LT-Z have Kumho Ecsta. Both brands provide more than enough grip and even occasionally chirp when when hard acceleration is given and both brands do provide a rumble, a somewhat intrusive rumble, on the coarser chip tarmac in Sydney. The LT and LT-Z also benefit from the fettling the Australia engineers have given, with a firmer and more sporting ride, less rebound but a small measure of more harshness.All three are brilliant freeway cruisers but it’s around town that the suspension tune really shines. In the varied road conditions that Sydney throws up, from table flat to mildly pockmarked to rutted and broken tarmac, all three dealt with them adroitly and with the words “sure footed” writ large. Only occasionally would the LT-Z, with the stiffest feel, skip and that was more so on the more ragged undulations that some corners have. There’s plenty of conversation from the steering wheel vinyl in the LS, leather in the LT/LT-Z), with an almost tactile amount of constant feedback through to the driver.Speaking of steering, the design of the wheel itself has your hands feeling as if they’re sitting between ten & two and eleven & one. The horizontal spokes sit just that little too high for a totally comfortable feel. You’ll also dip out on electric seats, even in the LT-Z, however there is more manual adjustment than in the LS. Across the range you’ll get auto headlights (which have an overly sensitive sensor), parking sensors, reverse camera, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with a seven inch and eight inch touchscreen for LS and the LT models.

Digital radio is also on board the LT and LT-Z to take advantage of the quite decent speakers on board. Also available in the LT and LT-Z are parking assist and with front parking sensors, Blind Spot Alert, auto headlights with tunnel detection, whilst the LS+ joins the party with Lane Keep Assist, following distance indicator, and Forward Collision Alert. However, window wise, only the LT-Z gets auto up and down for the driver’s window.Trim wise it’s cloth seats or machine made leather, soft-ish touch plastic on the dash, a grey coloured surround for the touchscreen and a frankly boring look for that in the LS, versus a higher sense of appeal and presence in the LT/LT-Z with chrome and piano black. Aircon in the LS is dialled in whereas the others get dials but with LEDs in the centre to show temperature and add more visual pizzaz. There’s a colour info screen in the LT and LT-Z’s driver binnacle which mirrors that seen in the touchscreen. Both look fantastic and appeal greatly. The LS? Standard monochrome. There’s clearly a high level of quality in the build being based on a Korean sourced sedan, but inside the Astra sedan does lack visual appeal, even though it’s not a physically unpleasant place to be.At The End Of The Drive.
At the time of writing, just a few days before Holden ceases manufacturing, the company had announced a seven year warranty being made available for the Astra range. However, there are terms and conditions so please speak to your local Holden dealership. Also, again at the time of writing (October 2017), the LS Astra sedan was being offered from $20990 driveaway if you choose the manual. Pick the self shifter it’s from $21990. The LS+ auto is from $23490 with the LT and LT-Z from $26290 and $30290 respectively. Again, please check with your local dealer. Those prices include stamp duty, 12 months rego and compulsory third party insurance, by the way.

All three (of the four trim levels available) cars tested did not disappoint; the LT-Z for me would be the pick, if only for the more sporting feel of the ride, the higher trim level and the fact that DAB is included, as it is below this model. But as a model range intended to effectively assist in kickstarting the importation model for Holden from October 2017 onwards, it’s somehow slipped under the radar. And that, so far, is a shame because it’s a very capable vehicle and more than worthy of continuing the legacy of the Holden Astra name.
Here’s where to go for inforamtion: 2018 Holden Astra range

Car Review: 2017 Suzuki S-Cross Turbo Prestige.

Suzuki continues to cement its position as a leader in the small car market by giving us an updated 2017 Suzuki SX-4 S-Cross. Although a sort of SUV look, it’s not. It’s front wheel drive only, powered by a ripper petrol fuelled turbo four. Like it so far? Private Fleet does.There’s three trim levels, simply named GL, Turbo, and Suzuki S-Cross Turbo Prestige. The test car, the Prestige, gets the same 1.4 litre turbo engine as the Turbo, however the GL is the outgoing model. Just need to clarify that…

Anyways, there’s a simple question the S-Cross Turbo poses. Is it any good? Most of the time a simple question has a simple answer and so it is with this car. Yes.First up, there’s that belter of an engine. 1.4L. 16 valves. Turbocharged. 103 kilowatts. Torque: 220 of them between 1500 to 4000. Transmission: six pseed auto. Potency level? High. This combination is superb. It reacts to a breath on the go pedal, the gearbox is crisp, shifts quickly and without fuss, and even with traction control on, will happily and merrily chirp the front driven 215/55/17 Continental tyres. It’s a corker. Consumption in a mainly urban environment finshed on 6.7L per 100 km from the 1170 kilogram plus fuel (47 litre) and passenger vehicle.It’s a ripper handler too, with beautifully weighted steering connecting the driver to the road and providing plenty of feedback. The ride quality also is near nigh perfect with a supple mix of sporting and absorption offering an ideal combination of tautness and comfort from the McPherson strut/torsion beam suspension.Tip it into a tightening radius corner and the body will lean but ever so slightly, whilst the tiller requires minimal input to adjust to the curver coming in on itself. Pound it across the sunken and raised sections of various tarmac roads and you’ll feel a small bump before it passes and the chassis settles rapidly. Brake wise it’s spot on, with feedback straight away and a progressive travel allowing a driver to judge just….when…more or less pressure was needed.Suzuki have also performed a stunning piece of engineering upon the S-Cross, managing to squeeze apartment sized room inside a shoebox. The S-Cross is a mere 4300 mm in length, stands tallish at 1585 mm and spans 1785 mm horizontally. Inside that overall length is a 2600 mm wheelbase, ensuring ample leg, shoulder, and head room for four people, although three up in the rear seat is a touch squeezy. Luggage space is also huge at 430L to 1269L, including a double tray storage plus there’s the usual assortment of bottle and cup holders.The interior design is now familiar and standard Suzuki; there’s the four quarter touchscreen with Navigation, Apps, radio and Phone plus voice activation, traditional and eminently usable dials for the aircon, blue backlit driver’s binnacle dials and a simple to read and use monochrome screen between them. The dash and console design is a curvy design, flowing around into the doors in a clear swoop and with airvents/gear selector surround/door trim highlighted in alloy look plastic. The manually adjusted seats seats are heated (not cooled) and are a comfortable mix of leather and cloth. Of course the rear seats are 60/40 in split and foldable to allow access to that capacious and well trimmed boot. If there’s a negative it’s a small but persistent one. The setbelt straps in the height adjustable locaters were double strapped, as in both front and rear were reachable to pull over and it was the rear strap, not front, that kept getting grabbed.Outside it’s unrecognisable from the original SX4 of 2007 and noticeably different from the superceded model The tail lights have been subtly but obviously refreshed however it’s the bluffer, more “no nonsense” front end that has the 2017 S-Cross standing out. Although the headlight cluster (LED projector on the Prestige) looks almost the same, they’re a touch more angular and feature dusk sensing in the Prestige. It’s the stand out proud reprofiled nose, with an assertive chrome grille, polyurethane black running from the centre to the rear along the flanks and with a splash of metal chrome around the globe lit DRLs. There’s a crease line and stance not unlike Ford’s Escape, a 180 mm ride height, and hi-vis polished alloys to finish the visual appeal.Safety is high, as usual, with reverse camara, sensors front and rear, Hill Hold Control, 2 ISOFIX points, seven airbags including knee, electronic driver aids, even an auto dimming rear vision mirror. Servicing is capped for up to 5 Years / 100,000km and you’ll get a 100,000 km or three year warranty.

At The End Of The Drive.
Suzuki have pretty much stamped themselves leaders of the small car builders. There’s a new Jimny on the way as well to further fuel the fire of desire for this slightly quirky but nonetheless enjoyable brand from Japan. The 2017 Suzuki S-Cross Prestige Turbo builds upon their revamped range and is a genuine contender for best in class. Find out more about this pearler, here: 2017 Suzuki S-Cross Turbo Prestige