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Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Suzuki Swift GL Navigator

Good things come in small packages is a phrase that’s been around forever, it seems. And never more was it an apt phrase for a car than it is for the Suzuki Swift. It’s under four metres in length, has a driveaway price of $16990, has just five gears in a manual transmission, a 1.2L engine, and 66kW. And it’s a helluva fun car to punt around. We test the 2019 Suzuki Swift GL Navigator.The range has been rationalised somewhat, with the Swift GL dropped and the once middle of the range Navigator now the entry level. Above that sits the Navigator with optional safety pack, GLX, and Swift Sport

The car reviewed has a five speed manual and it takes a bit of getting used to. Not because it’s a manual but because there is almost no spring pressure on the gate’s mechanism. It’s limp, weak, and almost void of any real feel through the changes. That’s matched by a clutch pedal feel of pretty much the same. There’s no weight (just like the car at 870kg dry), no real pressure required to push it down.But once both are recognised for their foibles, they mesh quite well, and it really only took an hour or so to get the hang of how and where to utilise the pair in their movements. They also work well with the small engine. The 1.2L DualJet engine has just 120 torques and that comes at 4400 rpm. Simply put, it means that a bit of gear rowing is required, as is a bit of patience in regards to forward motion. The upside is economy, and Suzuki quotes around 4.5L/100km for the combined cycle. It needs to be economical as the fuel thimble holds just 37 litres. On our test the car, literally brand new at 11 kilometres on pick up, covered 300 kilometres on a half tank.Acceleration is leisurely, at best, however once the engine reaches 3000rpm the characteristics change noticeably. There’s a change of note, urge, as it is, increases, and it feels as if it spins just a bit easier. The five speed sometimes feels as if an extra gear would be handy however considering fifth sees around 2000rpm at highway speeds, it wouldn’t have the required torque to take advantage of it.On coarse chip roads the lack of sound insulation isn’t just noticeable, it’s painful. The constant drone, and drumming, from the 185/55/16 rubber transmitted to the cabin via the MacPherson struts and torsion beam suspension, would drown out normal levels of conversation and radio, AM/FM only by the way. On the smoother blacktops it was naturally quieter and also ramped up the fun factor in the drive. The comparatively big wheelbase, 2450mm, inside the tiny body length, 3840mm, means the Swift is very chuckable in corners, with an almost point and shoot handling style. The short travel suspension did mean some bumps crashed through, but the overall result is grin inducing…in the right hands.The Swift itself underwent a mild transformation externally over a year ago, with a look more akin to the Baleno thanks to pumped out tail lights and reshaped headlights. the fun factor is shown by the front end having a “smile” thanks to the horizontal lower grille and upturned corners. These house LED driving lights and bracket a wide hexagonal grille.Inside it’s basic, but functional. The dash’s upper section has the Euro inspired sweep from the curve of the windscreen through to the doors, and that’s mirrored in a curve closer to the binnacle that houses a simple pair of dials and a relatively underused monochrome info screen. It shows trip and fuel consumption, and that’s it. The touchscreen is simple to use, uncomplicated in its usage, and sits above traditional dial and slide aircon controls. The audio system is moderate in quality but does have Auxiliary/USB, Bluetooth and voice control, plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Safety levels in the standard Navigator GL are fine. Six airbags, standard passive driving aids, and cruise control, are a good starting point, with the Navigator and Safety Pack version adding Adaptive Cruise Control. Reverse Camera is standard across the range but the Navigator does not come with parking sensors.Naturally the seats are manually operated, and are comfortable enough for the price point of the Swift Navigator GL. Rear leg room is fine for near-teens but not recommended for people of six feet in height, for example. Cargo room is adequate, with a maximum of 556L with the rear sears folded. On its own, the cargo will hold almost all of a standard family weekly shop.

At The End Of the Drive.
As has been mentioned in our previous reviews, the Suzuki Swift is an ideal car for those getting a start in learning to drive. The basics are all in place, the safety factor is good enough to start with, and the softish clutch & shifter won’t scare a new driver. And at just on $17K it’s a good price. Above all, once the car is understood, it really is a fun machine to roll around town in. More details on the 2019 Suzuki Swift GL Navigator can be found here.

Isn’t It Ioniq, Asks Hyundai?

Korea‘s Hyundai has released details of their new-to-market hybrid Ioniq. A three drive mode choice of purely electric, battery and petrol engine, and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) offer versatility in a shapely four door coupe’ style.

In the technology stakes, the car’s lithium-ion polymer bettery will charge from zero to eighty percent in around 25 minutes, with the drive range of up to 230 kilometres being available. The Ioniq Hybrid offers up to 63 kilometres on battery with the 1.6L Atkinson cycle petrol engine and six speed dual clutch auto extending that range. With the petrol engine there is peak power of 77kW, peak torque of 147Nm, and combines with the electric engine’s 32 kW / 170 Nm in the hybrid and 44.5 kW / 170Nm for the PHEV. The purely electric Ioniq develops 88kW and is rated at 295Nm.

Expected fuel economy is quoted as 3.4L to 3.9L per 100km for the hybrid and 1.1L/100km for the PHEV. The Ioniq Electric receives a charging system capable of 100kW via DC or direct current. Inside the Ioniq hybrid is a 8.9kWh battery for the expected 60 kilometres or so range, which of course depends on driving attitude and conditions. Hyundai has joined forces with JET Charge for installations of charging portals and can be sourced though the dealership network.

The Ioniqs have the proven McPherson strut front, with the Electric on a torsion beam rear suspension. The hybrid and PHEV will be on the multi-link rear. IONIQ Hybrid Elite features aerodynamic wheel covers on 15-inch alloy wheels and other variants feature a range of distinctive aerodynamic alloy wheel designs in 16- and 17-inch.Each of the three engine options can be specified in either the Elite or Premium trim levels. Any version asked for will have Hyundai’s SmartSense safety package on board as standard. The Elite Hybrid version has the IONIQ occupants protected by Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with pedestrian detection, Blind-Spot Collision Warning and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning systems. Rear view camera and park assist is also standard.

There will be Driver Attention Warning, and Lane Keeping Assist systems fitted also. A Smart Cruise Control system completes the Hyundai SmartSense suite in every version and in IONIQ Electric this is complemented by a Stop & Go function. For the occupants enjoyment there is an eight inch touchscreen, eight speaker sound system from Infinity, SUNA satnav with ten year update allowance, Apple CarPlay and Siri voice control. Android Auto and DAB is also fitted.The Ioniq Electric has a single gear reduction driveline and, as a result, a flat floor for extra space. Regenerative braking energy recovery is standard, and can be regulated via steering column paddles. Hyundai’s standard three drive mode choices, Normal, Eco, and Sport, are standard.

Charging wise, the Ioniq Electric comes standard with a ICCB, In-Cable Control Box, and for fast charging a commercially available charging 100kW box has eighty percent in 23 minutes or the 50kW box in 30 minutes. A 6.6kW on-board AC charger can charge the high-voltage battery in around four and a half hours when connected to a charging station of equal or higher capacity. With the installation of a personal charging station, this will allow a full overnight charge at home.

Helping with the economy figures are the lightweight body construction and adhesives. The Advanced High-Strength Steel (AHSS) is 53.5 percent of the body. Aluminuim components such as the bonnet and tailgate save 12 kilograms with the front cross-beam, front lower arms, front knuckles, rear hub carriers, and front brake calipers also in aluminuim. Exterior dimensions are 4470 mm, 1820mm, and 1450mm (L, W, H) with a wheelbase of 2700mm. Ground clearance is 150mm. Head room is good with the Elite having front room of 994mm and the Premium with 970mm. Rear headroom is 950mm. Leg room is also decent with 1073mm for the front, 906mm at the rear. There is plenty of shoulder room with a handy 1425mm and 1396mm front and rear. Hip room is a crucial factor, and there is 1366mm & 1344 mm front and rear.

Cargo area is rated as Hybrid: 456 L, Plug-in: 341 L, Electric: 350 L to the top of the rear seats, and to the roof,
Hybrid: 563 L, Plug-in: 446 L, Electric: 455 L.Five paint colours are available across the IONIQ range – Polar White, Platinum Silver and Intense Blue Metallic, and Iron Grey and Fiery Red Mica, at a $495 cost.
The Hybrid and six speed DCT is $33,990 and $38,990, with the PHEV at $40,990 and $45,490. The Electric is $44,990 and $48,990. Prices are exclusive of dealer and government charges.

Contact your local Hyundai dealer and Private Fleet for availability on the 2019 Hyundai Ioniq.

Porsche On A Mission E

Porsche Mission E

Porsche Mission E Interior

So what have Porsche been up to really recently – and I mean currently working on?  They are right into creating a new breed of E-Performance cars: exciting cars that have supercar performance, electric power and boundless attraction.  Who’s not going to like a car with the name Porsche Mission E.

The Mission E models are made up of one very quick 4-seater sedan with a height of only 1.3 m and a very special E Cross Turismo – which is basically a Mission E on steroids to tackle a range of terrain and road surfaces you’d come in contact with on any given adventure.

Porsche E Cross Tourismo

Porsche E Cross Turismo Interior

Porsche’s Mission E is a superbly light car with an architecture that’s very distinctive.  The all-electric drive gives the car absence of a transmission tunnel, and this feature opens up cabin space and imparts a lighter, more generously proportioned ambient feeling inside the car.  You get four individual seats that are inspired by bucket-type racing seats.  So strap yourself inside, and whether you’re driving or an occupant in the back you’ll enjoy all the appropriate lateral support you’ll need to match the driving dynamics of the car.

So they are both go fast cars.  Both Mission E vehicles offer a 0-100 km/h sprint time of around the 3.5 second mark.  With a range of over 500 km, you can then recharge to a range of 400 km in a mere 15 minutes – thanks to Porsche’s innovative 800-volt technology.

Take a look at the exterior and interior pics.  They really are an exciting new breed from Porsche!  Looking forward to when we can experience them over here in Australia.

Here are some other special Electric supercars that will be around shortly, all bidding for attention.

Do you know of any other supercar electric models?  Of course, there’s already the very cool BMW i8.

And, here are some of the others to be seen shortly.  Still a little hazy on the Nissan IDS but it looks cool!  Hopefully not too far away:

BMW i8

Jaguar XJ

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 Interior

Nissan IDS

Nissan IDS Interior

Ford Focuses More By Getting Active.

Ford’s Focus continues to expand and impress with the release of the 2019 Ford Focus Active. To be priced from $29,990 plus ORC, and built on Ford’s new C2 architecture, the Focus Active is a dedicated attempt at a smaller SUV with the ability to so some soft-roading. Think Subaru’s XV and you’d be close to the mark. The new body design provides an extra 20% torsional rigidity and individual suspension points have an extra 50% stiffness.

It will be powered by a 1.5L EcoBoost engine with 134kW & 240Nm of torque. The transmission is an eight speed auto, to be available through a five trim level range of four hatches and one wagon. Economy is quoted as 6.4L/100 kilometres for the combined cycle. A new two mode drive system is fitted, with a choice of Slippery and Trail. The former is for ice and snow, the latter for dirt and sand.Options are premium paint at $650, Driver Assistance Pack at $1250 which has items such as Adaptive Cruise Control and Blind Spot Information System, Head Up Display at $300, and a Panoramic Roof at $2000. Active Park Assist and Design Pack are $1000 and $1800 respectively.Outside, the Ford Focus Active has an extra 34mm of ground clearance, 17 inch alloys, front and rear skid plates, and a bespoke front bumper with adaptive cornering LEDs. A stylish honeycomb grille, LED Daytime Running Lights, an Active specific rear and twin pipes round out the look. The Design Pack bumps the alloys to 18 inches, and adds Adaptive headlights with LEDs, and privacy glass.

Standard equipment covers keyless start/stop, SYNC3 with emergency assist, six airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounts, plus Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection. Forward Collision Warning, Dynamic Brake Support, and Euro style Emergency Brake Flashing back up the safety package, as are Lane Keeping Aid and Lane Departure Warning.Optionable are Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go technology, Blind Spot Information System and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Active Braking.

Kay Hart, President and CEO of Ford Australia and New Zealand, says: ” The German sourced Focus range now offers new variants including the ST-Line Hatch, ST-Line wagon, and Active hatch, all designed to offer greater versatility and adaptability.”

The 2019 Ford Focus Active hatch is due for an as yet unspecified 2019 release date and blends into the existing range with the Ford Focus Trend hatch ($25,990 + ORC), Ford Focus ST-Line hatch ($28,990 + ORC), Ford Focus ST-Line Wagon ($30,990 + ORC), and the Ford Focus Titanium hatch ($34,990 + ORC).

 

 

BMW Reveals New Models And Updates.

BMW’s popular X1 sports Activity Vehicle and X2 Sports Activity Coupe have received value added updates for the 2019 model year. Apple CarPlay has been added across all models in the X1 range, along with Navigation Plus and Head Up Display. An 8.8 inch touchscreen allows access to an app look interface, plus there is a voice interface called Natural Voice recognition. The X2 range also receives the Head Up Display and the Navigation System Plus. As with the X1, the X2 gets the Apple CarPlay interface as standard across all trim levels. To visually identify the entry level X2, 19 inch diameter wheels, up from 18s, are fitted.Like any company that does an update in such a broad reach, pencils have been sharpened too. The entry level BMW X1 sDrive18i is $45,900 plus on-roads (price includes GST and where applicable the LCT). The rest of the range is BMW X1 sDrive18d $49,900, BMW X1 sDrive20i $50,900, and BMW X1 xDrive25i $60,900. The X2 also gets the calculator waved over the top. The three trim level range now looks like this: BMW X2 sDrive18i $46,900 (includes GST and LCT where applicable plus on-roads), BMW X2 sDrive20i $55,900, and BMW X2 xDrive20d $59,900.The new M2 and M5 Competition models have also been released. The M2 has the grunty straight six from the M3 and M4. The twin turbo powerplant develops 550Nm between 2350rpm and 5200rpm, meaning throttle response is almost instant and brings great driveability. The peak power of 305kW comes in straight after that and runs until 7000rpm. The soundtrack is backed up by a twin exhaust system and electronic flap control. The whole package sees the M2 reach highway speeds in 4.2 or 4.4 seconds, depending on the M-DCT or six speed manual transmission chosen. Top speed is controlled to 250km/h, or 280km/h if the M Driver’s package is added. The price to pay for this is reasonable, with consumption rated at around 9.0L/100km on the combined cycle.

If the M-DCT is optioned in the M2, switches on the centre console provide control of drive characteristics for the engine, steering, and BMW’s Drivelogic functions. Personalisation is the key, allowing the driver to save customised settings.

Outside there are additional body stylings to identify the M2 and M4, with an improved cooling system receiving better airflow from a bigger BMW grille and redesigned front skirt. New double armed wing mirrors are fitted and stopping power is increased with 400mm six pot, and 380mm four pot, discs, front and rear. Fettling of the suspension takes parts from the M3 and M4, with front rigidity and steering precision improved.The Dual Clutch Transmission is an option. In Drivelogic there are three drive modes: Comfort, Sport, and Sport+, with manual mode giving the driver full control over changes. In automatic mode the driver can change the gearshift timing, the intensity of the change, and even the blipping on the downshifts. BMW also adds Connected Drive, which brings in optional driver assistance systems such as the Driver Assistant. Lane Departure Warning and Collison warning are just two of the supplementary services available. Check with BMW Australia for further details.

BabyDrive: Everything You Wanted To Know About Kids In Cars In One Handy Place

If you’re about to become a parent for the first time – or if you’re revisiting parenthood after a long break (it happens) – then you might be wondering what sort of car is right for your new family.  It’s not a stupid question.  Once upon a time, it might have been all right to sling the carry cot across the back seat and make the older siblings share a seatbelt and/or ride in the boot, but you’d get in major trouble if you tried that today.  They’re serious about car seats for children these days and the law says that children under the age of seven can’t wear an adult seatbelt – and even then, this depends on their size and height and some children may need a booster seat until they’re 12 or so.  (As an aside, I’m kind of glad that they didn’t specify a particular height or weight for using a booster seat – some petite adult women, such as my 18-year-old daughter, may not meet these and who wants to sit their license while sitting in a booster seat?).

Anyway, if you’re a parent-to-be, you mind may be buzzing with questions about what sort of car you need to get.  And if it isn’t, it should be!  A lot of first-time parents fall into the trap of putting a lot of thought and care into the birth plan and how they want the birth of their new baby to go.  While this is all very well, what they don’t tell you (and what I wish I had known all those years ago) is that labour and birth only last (at most) one day.  All the other bits about parenthood and life with a small child go on for months – years!  So if you haven’t started thinking about what sort of car you need as a new parent, it’s time to give it some thought.

There are a lot of things to consider and it’s easy to make a mistake.  Let’s just say that there’s a possibility that you may have to put that little sporty roadster on hold for a bit and buy something more family-friendly.  Been there, done that.  We said goodbye to our old Morris (which would be an absolute classic and worth a mint today if we’d hung onto it) because the pushchair wouldn’t fit in the boot and got a Toyota sedan – which was then traded in when Child #2 came along because there was no way that anybody could sit in the front seat when there were two car seats in the back – and no room between said seats either!  I’ve been watching my brother and his wife start to go through the same series of problems.

Imagine that you could find someone who could give you all the advice you need – kind of like a motor-savvy big sister who can answer all those very practical questions even better than we can here at Private Fleet (although we try our best!).  For example, if you’re expecting Child #3 and the eldest is still of an age to need a booster seat, or if you’ve got twins or triplets on the way, are there any cars out there that can fit three car seats across the back?  Which cars provide enough leg room in the rear seats so that bored toddlers don’t try whiling away the time stuck in traffic kicking the driver in the kidneys?  How do you know if the stroller will fit in the boot?

Well, this sort of big sisterly advice is exactly what you’ll get from a great new site that’s linked with Private Fleet called BabyDrive (yes, this is a shameless plug for the site but no, I did not write it, although I wish I had, and I wish Tace the reviewer lived a bit closer than Queensland because she’d probably be my new BFF).  This is a great site that has all the answers you need to do with choosing a new vehicle that will suit your new family – yes, it even tells you which vehicles can fit five car seats comfortably and which MPVs have the easiest access to the third row of seats.  It’s the sort of thing I wish that I had on hand when I was a new parent – and I’d certainly recommend it to any parent-to-be looking for a new family vehicle.  Like we do, BabyDrive reviews vehicles, but unlike us, they do it all from a parenting perspective.  You won’t find the hot little roadsters reviewed here and the car reviews don’t cover torque or fuel economy stats much.  However, each car is rated for driver comfort (you’ve got to love a review that tells you whether the headrest position works well with the typical ponytail hairstyle adopted by mums on the go!), carseat capacity, storage, safety and noise.  The reviews include some descriptions of driving as a new mother that will give you a rueful chuckle or two – even if you, like me, have your baby days well behind you.  It’s the sort of review that we couldn’t do here on Private Fleet unless I kidnapped my baby nephew.  We’ll tell you the other bits and pieces – as well as helping you score a great deal on pricing (another thing that’s appreciated by not just new parents!).  The reviews feature a video segment as well as a written review – great for those who are more visually oriented.

The noise review is particularly useful, especially given the tendency these days for cars to produce all kinds of beeps as warnings.  If you don’t know about the old parenting trick of going for a wee drive to help soothe a fretful child off to sleep, you know it now!  However, all the good soothing work of a nicely purring motor and the gentle motion of a car on the go can be undone by some wretched lane departure warning shrieking or a parking sensor bleeping, waking your baby up just as you get home.

And yes, you will find some hatchbacks reviewed on BabyDrive!  Of course, the big SUVs, MPVs and 4x4s feature heavily (and, as an extra piece of advice from a more experienced parent, these will stand you in good stead once your kids hit the school and teen years, and you have to take your turn doing the carpool run, or if you are ferrying a posse of teens to the movies or a sports match).  However, if it’s not a “BabyDrive” (i.e. something suitable for small children), then it won’t feature!

Check it out yourself at BabyDrive.com.au.

Hyundai and Caltex Offer Fuel Savings

In a time where fuel costs seem uncontrollable in their rise, Hyundai and Caltex have come together to offer a deal where a an app-coupon will save four cents per litre at up to 120 litres per day. The combination works with 665 Caltex service stations offering the discount to buyers and drivers of selected Hyundai vehicles from October 15, 2018.

Hyundai Auto Link Bluetooth and Hyundai Auto Link Premium are required and the current generation i30, Kona, Tucson, and Santa Fe should have these fitted. For customers who wish to claim the fuel discount, it is as simple as downloading or updating their Hyundai Auto Link app, logging in using MyHyundai, and presenting the QR code (available in the Coupon section) at a participating Caltex service stations. The app itself will locate the nearest participating Caltex station by opening the Hyundai Auto Link app and tapping on the Caltex icon.

The fuel discount covers diesel, Caltex Vortex Premium 98, Vortex Premium 95, Vortex Premium Diesel, standard unleaded, E10, and standard diesel.

Hyundai Auto Link Bluetooth presents a multitude of information, including:

Driving Information – Displays current distance, current travel time, today’s distance, today’s travel time, fuel efficiency, and fuel consumption
Tyre Pressure Monitoring – Displays the individual pressure of each tyre on the vehicle – if the tyre pressure is not within tolerance of the recommended pressure, the tyre pressure will be displayed in red
Driving History – Provides the owner’s driving history including arrival time, maximum speed, average speed, average fuel efficiency, fuel consumption, rapid acceleration and hard braking events, distance and travel time
Crowd comparison – Allows the user to compare their efficient driving with other owners
Parking Management – Provides parked vehicle location and parking time reminders
RSA (Roadside assistance) – Allows the user to contact RSA directly
Statistics (ECO Driving) – Provides statistics of the user’s driving pattern – results can be viewed either daily, weekly or monthly
Statistics (Speed) – Provides statistics for the vehicle’s speed pattern
Vehicle Health Check – Checks the vehicle’s status and, if a problem is detected, it can connect the phone to Hyundai Customer Care Team
Vehicle Health Report – Provides a vehicle health report (listed in date order)
Maintenance – Tracks the wear of consumable parts and provides service reminders
Hyundai Dealer Network – Displays dealer information on the map and allows the user to select their preferred dealer
Message Box – A messaging system to allow contact from user’s preferred Hyundai dealer or Hyundai Customer Care Team
Map – Provides your current or searched locations on a map
myHyundai – Hyundai Auto Link is linked with the user’s myHyundai website to provide them with convenient functions for their vehicle.

Hyundai Auto Link Premium

Highlander variants offer Hyundai Auto Link Premium (SIM module) as standard. Hyundai Auto Link Premium is also available as an optional accessory on all compatible push-button start Hyundai vehicles for $495 (incl. GST).

Hyundai Auto Link Premium includes previously available Hyundai Auto Link Bluetooth® features, with the addition of new advanced convenience and comfort features.
Hyundai Auto Link Premium (SIM) features:

Remote engine start and stop from smartphone
Remote control of door locking and unlocking, climate control temperature and defroster
Remote activation of hazard lights and horn
Sets geo-fencing alerts
Sends emergency alert messages upon vehicle accident

Contact your local Hyundai dealer for more information.
(With thanks to Hyundai Australia)

Alpine A110 Ready To “Peak” Interest.

Automotive history is littered with names that have disappeared and then, to the joy of the hardcore, been resurrected. In rallying circles the name “Alpine” is synonymous with elegance and good looks, and the brand’s name has been given an injection here in Australia with the release of the Australian Premiere Edition Alpine A110. A recommended retail starting price of $97,000 comes along with it and for the money there’s a pack of standard kit.

An aluminuim chassis and a turbocharged 1.8L petrol engine, with 185kW and 320Nm of torque powering down through the rear wheels, plus double wishbone suspension, see a zero to one hundred time of 4.5 seconds and a 44:56 front to rear weight distribution take the new Alpine to levels surpassing its hey-day. The alloy chassis is bonded and riveted for structural rigidity, plus adds to the weight loss regime. Even more weight has been lost from using lightweight Sabelt sports seats at 13.1kg each, and Brembo brakes that incorporate the parking brake into the rear main calliper. This world first innovation saves another 2.5kg. All up, the Alpine A110 clocks the scales at just 1049 kilograms.

The proven double-wishbone suspension ensures that as the car moves and follows the road surface, the tyre’s contact patch remains consistently flat on the road. Kinetics sees the tyres press harder onto the road the harder the Alpine A110 corners. A conventional strut setup would have the tyre’s move to a position that offers less grip. Double wishbones means more suspension travel and due to the lightweight it means the actual suspension settings can be softer and more absorbent. That lightweight aids the handling further with the use of hollow anti-roll bars. This combination means that Alpine were able to specify rubber that initially looks small but in testing proved to be ideal. Michelin supply the Pilot Sport 4 and in a 205/40/18 & 235/40/18 front and rear combination on Otto Fuchs alloys.

Although it’s an inherently safe chassis, the Alpine A110 still comes with the essentials of electronic safety. Anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control are standard. There’s a smattering of luxury items in the forms of an active sports exhaust, a sound system from renowned French audio gurus Focal, carbon fibre interior trim, leather trim on the Sabelt seats, and brushed alloy pedals. The driver is looked after by a driver focused design ethic; the binnacle is small yet clearly laid out and easy to read, the steering wheel is of a suitable diameter and heft, and all round vision is engineered in to be high. Satnav and climate control are also standard as in smartphone mirroring.

Contact your Renault dealer for more details.

2019 MG ZS Essence SUV

A new brand for our review section  is MG. MG itself is Morris Garages, once a name held in the same regard as Lotus and Caterham thanks to its sporty range of little two seater sports cars. However that link to the British history is about all that is left. The company is now owned by Chinese conglomerate SAIC and the brand’s range itself is a long way from the sporty little two seaters that made the company a household name. There are four models available, the MG6 sedan, MG3 SUV, MG GS SUV, and the range topping MG ZS SUV, with two trim levels. We drive the 2019 MG ZS Essence, complete with panoramic “Stargazer” glass roof, six speed DCT, and a 1.0L turbocharged three cylinder.The pair starts with the 1.5L four speed Excite, and at the time of writing was on a special drive-away price of $22,990. The Essence is currently on $25,990. The three potter has that familiar thrum peculiar to three cylinder engines, and delivers 82kW @ 5200rpm, and 160Nm between 1800 to 4700rpm. Although that’s a great spread of revs it’s got to pull, via the front wheels, a 1245kg machine, plus fuel, plus passengers. This immediately puts the ZS on the back foot in overall driveability, with performance noticeably blunted with four aboard, compared to a single passenger. The engine comes paired with a six speed DCT, or dual clutch transmission, and makes a good fist of it here. It’s mostly smooth, bar the typical DCT stutters between Reverse and Drive, and at speed was quiet and almost seamless in changing.

The weight and lack of torque is dealt with by judicious use of the accelerator. Rather than punching the go pedal, a firm and progressive squeeze yields better results from a standing start. Revs climb willingly, the cogs shift appropriately, and the economy hovers around 8.0L/100km. MG quotes a combined cycle of 6.7L/100km and a city cycle of 8.4L/100km. In a purely city based environment that in itself sounds good but the ZS has just 48L in the tank, and after just shy of 500 kilometres of travel the tank needed a quick top up on the way back to its home base. MG also specify 95RON too, which makes for slightly more expensive attack on the hip pocket.

Ride and handling are a mixed bag. The steering is light, but not a featherweight in feel. The ZS changes direction quickly and without effort. But some of that comes from the suspension setup. Initially it’s hard, harsh, and picks up smaller road objects such as the reflective “cat’s eye” markers too easily, and it’s tiresome very quickly. That same setup has the chassis move around on the road, and with sweeping turns pocked with expansion joints, the ZS skips around noticeably. Over bigger lumps the dampers soften and absorb bigger obstacles such as the speed restricting bumps in school zones well.The MG ZS fits well in the compact SUV segment. There’s an overall length of 4314mm, a width of 1809mm that includes the mirrors, which makes interior shoulder room a mite snug. It stands just 1644mm tall and packs a 359L cargo area, in a low set design, inside the 2585mm wheelbase. Fold the rear seats and that cargo jumps to 1166L. On its own the low set cargo floor helps in loading and removing the weekly shopping. Getting in and out of the ZS was also easy thanks to the wide opening doors. Build quality was pretty good, with only a few squeaks, and one of the cargo cover pins refusing to stay plugged in noticed. The trim level itself is a pleasing blend of faux carbon fibre, flat and piano black plastic, and black man made leather seats. Unfortunately there is no venting in the seats and, on the sunny days experienced during the review period, were uncomfortably hot.Entertainment comes from an eight inch colour touchscreen. Apple CarPlay is embedded, Android Auto is not. FM sound quality was fine but if you want DAB you’ll have to stream it via a smartphone as that isn’t featured either. Interestingly, there is a Yamaha sound field program for the audio, which although making an audible difference between a single versus multi-person choice, is of questionable value. There didn’t appear to be RDS or Radio Data Service either, which gives you station ID and song information.The driver has a simple binnacle to deal with, sporting a pair of dials and a truly out of date LCD screen. This is a design that has the thin LCD line style of display and in an era of full colour screens with a better layout, this stands out as an anachronism. The tiller holds the tabs to scroll through the info available on a horizontal basis but didn’t seem to load anything using the up/down arrows. Attached to the manually operated steering column is the cruise control stalk, with a speed limiter alert fitted. Again there didn’t appear to be a simple method of disengaging this as it would produce an irritating chime with a buzz note when the legal speed limit was reached.Outside the MG ZS has styling hints from Hyundai and Mazda, not entirely a bad thing here. There’s good looking LED driving lights in what they call the “London Eye” up front, a Hyundai ix35 style crease at the rear, and a bluntish nose not unlike Mazda’s CX-5. However, the 17 inch wheels (with 215/50 rubber from Maxxis) look too small, especially in the rear wheel well arches. They’re too wide to provide the right proportional look for them.

When it comes to safety the MG ZS Essence is well equipped but misses out on Autonomous Emergency Braking. There are six airbags, not a driver’s kneebag, the basic emergency driver aids but no Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Detection, and the like.

At The End Of The Drive.
The 2019 MG ZS Essence is neither a bad car nor a good car. It does what it’s asked to do but offers no more than that. It drives well enough but needs a 1.5L or 1.6L engine with a turbo to overcome the performance issue. It’s comfortable enough but venting in the seats would be nice. The ride is ok but the jittery part of it, which is most of the time, would quickly become tiresome. The dash looks ok except for the 1980s style info screen. Here is where you can find out more.

SUV, Hatch or Wagon?

SUVs like the Volvo XC40 look really cool!

 

The ever popular Toyota Corolla Hatchback

Station Wagons like the new Ford Focus are brilliant.

 

Why do most women like the SUV, wagon or hatchback shape?  These are the preferred vehicles that women are driving.  SUVs definitely offer that extra status not to mention size.  It seems too that Teal coloured cars are the ones that most excite the ladies.

SUVs are hitting our road on mass, thanks to the buyers, female and male, preferring their practicality, safety and room.  You can buy FWD only SUVs, which if you never go in search of the wide open spaces outside of Suburbia then these types of vehicle will do all your townie jobs nicely, and often with plenty of room to spare.  AWD equivalent SUVs are more expensive anyway!

SUVs are bigger than anything else on the road besides trucks and buses, so anyone will likely be attracted to the safety aspect of owning an SUV.  Many guys will like the fact that their special other half drives a big safe SUV, which often ends up carrying the kids too.  Having a higher ride height does give you a commanding view of the road ahead, and generally speaking, the extra ground clearance works wonders should you be into off-roading.

SUVs are easier to get in-and-out of, and for loading child seats, child accessories, and library book and shopping bags.  Generally speaking you step inside an SUV, rather than sink down into them- like in a hatchback.  When it comes loading cargo into the boot the space is usually large, higher and easier to access.  That said, there are some nicely designed station wagons and hatchbacks that are very practical.

Downsides to owning an SUV are that they cost more to feed; cost more to maintain, and they generally need more wizardry and expensive technology to defy the laws of physics should you want to drive them quickly around corners.  Still, manufacturers are beginning to build a wide variety of SUVs to suit your tastes.  You can even buy convertible SUVs or 2-door coupe SUVs – which pushes the contemporary envelope somewhat.

So if you are a lady on the lookout for a nice new SUV – perhaps Teal coloured or close to it, that is competitively priced then there are some models you may consider.  OK, you men could consider this as well – though you’ll probably prefer a silver, black or white colour (though flaming orange and buttercup yellow is said to get a guy’s heartrate up).  So, how about a Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, BMW X3, Ford Ecosport, Ford Escape, Ford Everest, Foton Sauvana, Haval H2, Hyundai Sant Fe or Kona, Jeep, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-3 or CX-5, MG GS, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross or Outlander, Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008, Renault Koleos, Skoda Kodiaq, Subaru Forester or XV, Suzuki Vitara, VW Tiguan, or any of the Volvo XC models?  Modern, safe and great multipurpose vehicles, this list is a good mix to get you thinking.

But if you don’t go the SUV way, there’s plenty of savings to be had by sticking to a hatchback or station wagon instead.  If you spend most of your time travelling within the confines of Suburbia then the SUV size might not make so much sense if a Station wagon or Hatchback will do.  And even at their most practical, an SUV is a bit more difficult to park in the tiny city car parks – unless you have an SUV with all the self-parking aids.

If you think that a good small hatch or station wagon will suit your needs just as well, you will enjoy the benefits of this type of vehicle being cheaper to buy, cheaper to maintain, more fun to drive and, thanks to the swelling tide of SUVs on the road, you’ll be bucking the trend and looking pretty cool.

Here’s some wagons or hatchbacks you might like to consider: Volvo V60, VW Golf wagon or hatch, your good old Toyota Corolla wagon or hatch, Subaru Forester or Impreza or Liberty, Skoda Octavia Wagon, Renault Megane, Proton Preve, loads of Peugeots, Nissan LEAF (Electric Vehicle), Mitsubishi ASX, a Mini, MG3, Mercedes Benz B-Class or C-Class, a Mazda 3 or 6, Kia Cerato or Soul, Hyundai i40 or i30, Honda Civic, Holden Astra, Ford Focus or Mondeo, Citroen C4 or C5, BMW 3 or 5 Series wagon, Audi A3 or A4, and Alfa Romeo Giulietta.