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Tips When Buying a New Car

When it comes to buying a new car it can potentially be one of the top financial decisions you will ever have to make.  For some, hunting for a new car can be a daunting prospect, but for others the process is fun.  Here are some tips for you to consider when you are on the hunt for a brand new car.

Size

Firstly you will need to think about what exactly you will be using your car for.  Are you going to be carrying passengers or travelling alone?  What about the luggage – will you carry lots of items and therefore require a large boot space?  If you’re going to be mostly travelling around the city then a small car like a VW Polo will be a great little car for you.  A Corolla will happily accommodate four people and some luggage.  You might consider a an SUV-type vehicle like a Volvo XC60 or an MPV like the Honda Odyssey if you want to carry elderly people about as there is plenty of space to climb in-and-out of the car.  If you will be touring with the family, then a large estate like the Holden Commodore Tourer is superbly comfortable and spacious over the long open-road haul.

Number of Doors

SUVs, hatchbacks and station wagons with four doors and a big opening tailgate are all classed as having five-doors because the rear gate is a massive door that opens wide to access the boot space.  There are three-door hatchbacks with two doors to access the seats and one big door at the rear to access the luggage space.  Then there is the saloon car like a Honda Accord which has a smaller boot opening at the rear and four doors for access to the seating area – so it’s known as a four-door.  A two-door car like a Mazda MX-5 has two doors to access the seats and a smaller boot opening at the rear.  I’m sure once you’ve checked out a few cars with hands-on experience then you’ll form a good picture of the style of car you’ll want to buy.

Space

You’re going to need to consider the amount of space that passengers are going to either enjoy or hate.  The freedom of occupant space and the number of doors – or lack thereof – will affect the enjoyment levels of the occupants while travelling.  Even some three-door cars like the Renault Megane can accommodate passengers quite happily in the rear seats, however getting in and out of the back seats does require having to move the front seats forward in order for the rear seat occupant to get out of the car.  And if you’re sitting nice and snug in the front seat when the rear seat passenger needs to get out for a leak, then I’m sorry but you’ll firstly need to get out of your front seat for them to be able to get out of their rear seat space.  Not much fun!  Accessibility into the seats of a five-door or four-door car is easy.  Some SUVs like a Holden Trailblazer and MPVs like a Citroen C4 Picasso have three rows of seats and can carry seven occupants with ease.  Those sitting in the third row will usually require a second row seat to be folded for them to get out – but the access and occupant space is usually quite good in one of these types of vehicles.

Luggage Capacity

Most cars have their luggage space at the rear of the vehicle and this area is known as the boot.  Boot space, volume or capacity is given in the car’s specifications and is usually given in litres for us “down under”.  If you talk American then then boot space will be given in cubic feet – just to be annoying!  If you’re going to be carrying occupants and luggage regularly then it would be wise that you check out how much boot space your potential new car can offer.  Most hatchbacks, SUVs, MPVs and station wagons have rear seats that can be folded down to provide more luggage space when required.  Generally, the bigger the car – the bigger the boot space.

Fuel efficiency

It’s worth considering how economical a new car will be before handing over the cash.  If you’re on a budget, then definitely check out the fuel efficiency of the particular vehicle you’re interested in.  Most vehicles under 2.0-litre engine capacity will be quite economical with all of the latest engine technology like stop/start and more gears being standard on most new cars.  Turbo diesels – particularly small ones – can be quite efficient, but do remember that fuel taxes are heavier for diesel vehicles.  Hybrids like the Honda Insight are very efficient around town when they usually require most of the travel to be done by the electric motor.  They get thirstier when performing open road driving because the car will require its petrol or diesel engine over the electric motor.  There are purely electric vehicles which you can buy like the Nissan LEAF, but these are suited for city environments.

Warranty

All new cars come with a warranty.  Most manufacturers offer a three year warranty and some offer five years like Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Toyota.  Kia vehicles offer seven year warranties.  Having a good warranty on the car you’re going to buy is ‘peace of mind’, really.

Outgoing models

When a manufacturer is about to release a brand new model, the outgoing model is often offered at a great price.  So do keep this in mind when buying new.  If having the very latest isn’t such a big deal, then buying an outgoing model is a great way of knocking a few thousand off the purchase price.

Hybrid Subarus Are On The Way.

Subaru’s popular small SUV style cars, the Forester and XV, are coming to Australia in hybrid vehicle versions. The downside to this is that there’s currently no firm date in mind, however Aussie Subaru boss Colin Christie said: “We don’t have exact dates and times, and also not sure which tech will go into the cars, but Subaru has made it clear that they are moving down the hybridisation path and moving down the electric path. They have been talking about having fully electric vehicles in the early 2020s. I think it’s an absolute move in terms of environmental, fuel efficiency and economy but hybrids are still quite a small volume in the Australian market, but we see them as supplemental to our sales so we will have our 2.5-litre direct injection in case of the Forester, and then the hybrid will be an incremental model.”

The expected growth in EV and hybrid vehicles appears largely to do with the forthcoming emissions laws changes in Europe, to Euro 7, and the Californian government changes.

What this means for Australian importers is dealing with the choice of cars that would suit the Australian market. Subaru’s technology liason with Toyota will certainly help its cause, but, as always, there are questions as to who wears the costs of incentivising customers; is it the manufacturer or should it be the government?

Christie says: “There are customers out there looking for hybrid vehicles more and more, still relatively small numbers but that will grow and we are seeing more demand increasing in some areas, but at the end of the day it’s a future tech story and a step towards electrification, and a natural step in the journey for the brand.”

What are your thoughts? When it comes to getting more hybrid/EV cars on the roads of Australia, who should assist in off-setting costs?

BMW’s EV Wireless Charging

BMW’s Wireless Charging

The new BMW 5-Series iPerformance models boast some very cool ‘world-first’ technology.  Available factory-fitted with a fully integrated inductive charging facility means that you can arrive home, park over a ground pad (the inductive charging facility/station) and hey-presto your car charges up, ready for your next trip away.

BMW’s Wireless Charging consists of the GroundPad (an inductive charging station), that can be installed either in a garage or outdoors, and the CarPad, which is fixed to the underside of the vehicle will connect to the GroundPad once parked appropriately.  This technology is available as an option on the new BMW 530e iPerformance model.  The GroundPad generates a magnetic field that induces an electric current in the CarPad, which then charges the battery in the car.

BMW’s 530e iPerformance model has the parking systems that help the driver to manoeuvre into the correct parking position over the GroundPad using a WiFi connection between the charging station and the vehicle.  Once the connection has been made, an overhead view of the car and its surroundings then appears in the car’s display screen with coloured lines that help guide the driver into position.  An icon shows up on the screen when the correct parking position is reached for the process of inductive charging.  BMW say the position for parking over the top of the GroundPad isn’t difficult to locate as the position can deviate by up to 7 cm longitudinally and up to 14 cm laterally – so it has plenty of buffering for getting a good connection.  To easy!

We already are becoming familiar with the wireless charging systems inside many new cars from different manufacturers where mobile phones and electric toothbrushes can be wirelessly charged inside the car.  BMW says its wireless charging uses the same inductive charging technology already widely used for supplying power to devices such as these.

BMW has unveiled a wireless charging system that will be available in Germany, followed shortly by the UK, the US, Japan and China.  It’s nice to be able to boast this technology and do away with cords and manual contraptions for charging your hybrid.  Germany and Europe seem to be leading the way with cutting edge EV technology, and this inductive charging system, created by BMW, will set the ball rolling for other manufacturers to follow suit.

I can imagine, like BMW, a world where you just pull up to your car park in the city, and the wireless inductive charging facility that’s set in place, in the road, underneath your EV will charge up your car while you duck into the café for a coffee or buy the necessary office equipment for your business.  This is all pretty cool technology!

Car Sales Top 10

New car sales are still buoyant in Australia, with many buyers happily spending on an upgrade.  According to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), the total vehicles sold in April, including passenger cars, SUVs, light and heavy commercial vehicles and the national government fleet was 82,930 units.  Of these units the Toyota Hilux re-claimed first place as the top-selling vehicle, with 3596 sales in April.  How much of the car sales pie do Electric Vehicles take out?  Let’s have a look at Australia’s top 10 models sold in April 2017:

  1. Toyota HiLux (3,596 units)
  2. Toyota Corolla (2,979 units)
  3. Ford Ranger (2,796 units)
  4. Mazda3 (2,261 units)
  5. Toyota Land Cruiser (2,018 units)
  6. Hyundai i30 (1,903 units)
  7. Hyundai Tucson (1,816 units)
  8. Mazda CX5 (1,725 units)
  9. Mitsubishi ASX (1,706 units)
  10. Toyota Prado (1,699 units)

 

Across the Tasman, our New Zealand friends are seeing that their Top 10 car sales list is weighted toward the ute, and it looks more like this:

  1. Ford Ranger (2,360 units)
  2. Toyota Hilux (2,251 units)
  3. Toyota Corolla (1,501 units)
  4. Holden Colorado (1,164 units)
  5. Mitsubishi Triton (1,068 units)
  6. Nissan Navara (980 units)
  7. Toyota Rav4 (893 units)
  8. Mazda CX-5 (883 units)
  9. Suzuki Swift (825 units)
  10. Kia Sportage (795 units)

 

I couldn’t stop myself and I had to check out how Australia’s top selling models compared to the top ten models sold in the UK for April 2018.  Our UK friends are opting to buy smaller cars, I guess to cater for more congestion and greater intensities of city driving.  And this is how it looks for the UK top 10 models:

  1. Ford Fiesta (40,619 units)
  2. Volkswagen Golf (26,685 units)
  3. Nissan Qashqai (21,171 units)
  4. Ford Focus (19,344 units)
  5. Vauxhall Corsa (17,995 units)
  6. Ford Kuga (15,865 units)
  7. Mercedes A-Class (14,849 units)
  8. MINI (14,297 units)
  9. Vauxhall Mokka X (13,579 units)
  10. Mercedes C-Class (13,495 units)

And just for another take on car sales I decided to take a look at how the new car sales are tracking in ‘The Land Of The Free’.  Over in the States “Big is still better”, so the top 10 selling cars for the USA in March 2018 were:

  1. Ford F-Series (87,011 units)
  2. Chevrolet Silverado (52,547 units)
  3. Nissan Rogue (42,151 units)
  4. Ram Pick-up ( 41,307 units)
  5. Toyota RAV4 (34,937 units)
  6. Toyota Camry (35,264 units)
  7. Chevrolet Equinox (31,940 units)
  8. Honda Civic (32,584 units)
  9. Honda CR-V (31,868 units)
  10. Toyota Corolla (31,392 units)

It’s a funny thing considering people’s perceptions on what the best car might be to buy new.  In Australia we have a need for the 4×4, particularly when heading Outback.

New Zealander’s obviously love the ute – often with 4×4 capability.  The ute does give a flexibility to motoring that you just can’t find anywhere else on the car sales yard.

In the UK, owning a car that has an ability to park in tight spaces and remain frugal on a commute seems to stay at the forefront of why certain cars are purchased over others.

America continues to love their big rigs, and that’s why we still see the awesome Ford F-Series truck, Chevrolet Silverado and the Ram Pick-up in the top 4 buys.

For Australia in 2017 just 0.09% of the total new cars sold were Electric Vehicles.  For the USA in 2017 just 1.18% of the total new cars sold were Electric Vehicles.  UK figures show that in 2017 Electric Vehicles made up 1.9% of all new cars sold in the UK.  Across the ditch, Kiwis purchased 546 fully electric cars in New Zealand 2017, and this equates to 0.16% of the total new cars bought.    Electric Vehicles and their attributes have a ways to go before changing a car buyer’s mind-set to buy ‘plug-in’ over ‘combustion’.  The ball has started to roll, however, and we are seeing more plug-in stations becoming available in main Australian cities.

Mercedes-AMG GT S Roadster

Mercedes-Benz and AMG continue their strong family relationship with the release of the Mercedes-AMG GT S Roadster. This takes the AMG range to an even twelve in number.
The newest addition features a hand-built alloy 4.0 litre V8 and packs twin turbos. This means a peak horsepower output of 515 hp, and peak torque of 494 lb-ft. This should have the aluminium chassised machine seeing 60mph in just 3.7 seconds whilst on its way to a top whack of 192mph. That torque is available through 1900 to 5000 rpm, and powers the rear wheels via a seven speed transaxle.
To squeeze the engine into a relatively compact engine bay, AMG have engineered the engine to locate the turbos in the V between the cylinder heads. Because they’re close to the exhaust headers this aids in lowering emissions. There’s a dry sump system onboard which allows the engine to be located lower, helping handling by having a lower centre of gravity. Weight distribution is 47/53 percent front to rear.
The double wishbone suspension holds adjustable adaptive damping and big wheels & rubber. Nineteen inches up front and twenty at the rear, the footprint is massive at 265/35 and 295/30. Inside those big wheels are composite brakes with plenty of stopping power thanks to a 15.4 and 14.2 inch diameter front at rear, with a six piston/single piston combination. The suspension is controlled via a dial in the sumptuously appointed cabin, with Comfort, Sports, and Sports+ available at the twist of a finger.
This is complemented by a five mode drive system, including the aforementioned three plus Race and Individual. These modes tweak the ESP, the position of the exhaust flaps, the steering and suspension.
Inside it’s the bespoke Silver Chrome Interior package. AMG fit high visibility silver highlights to areas such as the center console, steering wheel, and airvent bezels which complement the standard MB-Tex man made leather look material and DINAMICA micro-fiber trim. AMG allow a buyer plenty of leeway to personalise the GT S with a range of trim color options such as two tone Nappa leather or Nappa leather and DINAMICA.
If Silver is not the preference then AMG can install their Piano Black Lacquer. A superb high quality high gloss black replaces the silver element and further complements the black trim options. There’s even more customization available with matt silver fiber glass, gloss or matt carbon fiber elements.
Being an open top car, Mercedes and AMG offer the AMG performance seats and AIRSCARF heating system. Designed and engineered to blow warm air through vents in the headrest , the AIRSCARF system provides comfort in elegant surroundings whilst driving in cooler environments.
But if all of this sounds like it’s not enough, AMG add more. Their DYNAMIC PLUS package offers an enhanced suspension setup, a broader range of peak horsepower, increased levels of interior appointments and revised engine/transmission mounts.
The exterior isn’t overlooked with AMG’s Carbon-Fiber and Exterior Night packages. The front spiltter, mirror housings, front bumper inlet housings and more can be ordered in either style.
Due for release in the United States in 2018, pricing for the Mercedes-AMG GT S Roadster will be released closer to the expected launch date.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Peugeot 208 GTi

Some say size isn’t important, and it’s how you use it. Clearly one of the world’s oldest car brands have this in mind with the 2018 Peugeot 208 GTi. With a starting price of a blink under $30K, it’s a pocket-sized road pounder with a smooth engine, slick six speed manual, and not a lot of real estate when it comes to the sheetmetal.Hiding under the thumbnail sized bonnet is a turbocharged 1.6L four cylinder petrol engine, punching out 208 horsepower or 153kW. There’s also 300 torques on tap at 3000 revs but plenty of twist on board below that. It doesn’t add up to be a rocketship but performance is nonetheless more than satisfactory. So is fuel consumption with a quoted combined 5.4L/100. We clocked 6.3L/100 km in a mainly urban drive environment.The clutch is light-ish and the pickup point isn’t entirely precise but there’s enough feedback from the clutch pedal travel to engage it smoothly. The six speed manual has more feel in the selector lever than Suzuki’s Swift Sport tested recently and is therefore more confidence inspiring. Once engaged there’s a minute hit of turbo lag before the torque comes in smoothly and allows the 208 to kick up its heels smartly. An 1160kg dry weight certainly aids this.Steering is well weighted via the flat bottomed, red striped, leather bound tiller. There’s some lack of connection dead on centre however lock either way has the steering become more communicative in regards to where the front wheels were going. Ride quality itself was firm, leaning towards hard, but with just enough initial give to not be completely uncomfortable. Out on the freeway, as a result, it was a flat, slightly taut feel to the chassis, and with the engine ticking over at around 2500 in sixth, right in the sweet spot for the waiting maximum torque. Changes of direction are lightning quick thanks to an overall length of 3973mm yet packs a 2538mm wheelbase. Front and rear track are almost identical at 1476mm and 1478mm respectively, also helping the rapid response handling.That gearing also made it pretty tidy around town, with fifth the preferred gear for most 80 km/h zones and sometimes needing a judicious heel and toe for lower velocities.Unfortunately, there was also more tyre rumble than expected on most road surfaces. The Michelin Pilot Sport 205/45/17 rubber is superbly grippy but that grip came the cost of the aural noise.Inside the 208 GTi features the i-Cockpit setup favoured by Peugeot, and one that receives mixed reactions from some. This has the driver’s dash binnacle sitting above the sightline of the steering wheel. For me this wasn’t an issue but it’s also easy to see just how the top of the wheel could impede vision of the dials. Thankfully the steering column is adjustable for both height and reach.The binnacle itself has a switch, which when activated, limns the binnacle in blood red, matching the stripe on the wheel.The cockpit itself is comfortable with red and black trimmed sports seating, which are fully manual in operation, soft touch materials throughout, and a seven inch touchscreen for satnav, reverse camera with guidelines, and six speaker audio. Apps are on board and using a USB connection has a smartphone connecting for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Other features include a tyre pressure monitoring system, folding power mirrors, six airbags, and Autonomous Emergency Braking. Outside there’s chromed exhaust tips, good looking alloys, cornering lamps, and rear spoiler. This sits over a cargo area that is, unsurprisingly, not big at 285L. That’s a little smaller than Ford’s Fiesta and quite a bit smaller than VW’s Polo. At night that’s overcome by the stunning claw tail lights.Peugeot offer a three year warranty or 100,000 kilometres and the Peugeot 208GTi comes with a five star ANCAP safety rating.At The End Of The Drive.
The 2018 Peugeot 208 GTi continues a solid heritage and builds nicely upon the small hot hatch history. Although not as quick off the line as expected, the mid range driveability makes it more a usable day to day proposition, especially for a single person or couple. It’s a sweet handler and will happily take you at speed through twisting roads whilst sporting a healthy grin.

Head to Peugeot Australia for more info.

Mercedes-Benz X-Class For The Tradies Is Here.

Along with German sibling Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz now offers a four door utility vehicle. Called the X-Class it’s got a starting price of $45,490 plus on roads. With an effective trickle style media campaign underway there’s already over 8000 registrations of interest in their new vehicle. As is to be expected, M-B will offer an almost bewildering range of variants. There’s will be a choice of two models called the X 220d and X250d, two diesel engines offering either 120kW or 140kW, a six speed manual for each or a seven speed auto for the 250d.
The 220d will be given either a rear wheel or all wheel drive system, with the 250d coming in AWD only. A high output V6 will be available by the end of 2018, with 190kW and 550Nm of torque.
There will be three trim levels: Pure, Progressive, and Power, designed to appeal to three distinct lifestyles and working groups. Underneath will be the tried and true, and fettled for Australian roads, double wishbone front and multi-link rears, with both ends riding on coil springs. This aims to provide a harmonious balance of safety with any load and a comfortable ride.

Safety won’t be an issue with the X-Class receiving a five star ANCAP rating thanks to seven airbags, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, plus a 360 degree camera in the Power and optionable on the Progressive.It’ll have a significant on-road presence with a 5340mm length, 1920mm width and 1829mm height. The front end features a stand-out Mercedes-Benz emblem inside a twin louvre grille, a M-B family look to the lower front bar, and a powerful stance at the rear.The tray will hold a standard Australian spec pallet and towing of up to 3500 kilograms is factored in. Whilst working hard it’ll cosset driver and passengers in three trim levels inside including two leather and two roof lining colours.The Pure will be aimed at the working driver and will roll on 17 inch steel wheels. They’ll be able to access media via a seven inch touchscreen. The Progressive driver has 17 inch alloys, colour coded bumpers, heat insulating glass in the windscreen, and Garmin integrated navigation through the seven inch touchscreen.Power drivers will have their new ute fitted with 18 inch alloys, man made leather interior, parking assist via M-B’s PARKTRONIC system, and an eight speaker digital audio system.
A range of option packs will be available across the range for the 2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class.

https://www.facebook.com/MercedesBenzVansAustralia/ and @mercedesbenzvans_au on Instagram can be followed for more information as well as contact Mercedes-Benz dealerships.

Is It Worth Holden On?

A recent post to Private Fleet’s facebook page has given rise to plenty of passionate, robust, thought provoking discussion. The subject? Holden and the new Commodore.

It seems there’s a couple of factors that have sparked what appears to be mostly “against” comments; largely, the fact there’s no V8 and that it’s front wheel drive. Yes, we know there’s the all wheel drive, but that’s only available with the V6. Only occasionally does the fact it’s no longer a locally manufactured product crop up, such as this: ” Doesn’t matter if designed in Australia, what mattered is assembled in Australia so that Australians have jobs. Is it any wonder our welfare bill is going up. Now most of car price goes overseas just like a lot of our income tax does.”

And that is a fair point. Harking back to our interview with then head of PR at Holden, Sean Poppitt, he’d said that workers were being as much assistance as possible to find different roles or be given a payout once manufacturing ceased. But it did mean that the manufacturing side of the skill-set workers had has either been lost or relocated to an area that’s not using that skill-set.

But back to the car itself. It seems that many feel that their loyalty has been questioned by Holden’s decision to shut shop and continue with the nameplate. Again harking back to Poppitt, he said that the reason the name was kept WAS because of feedback from Commodore owners.
Loyalty can also give rise to misguided faith, as seen here: “Serves them right, close Australian factories and still have the hide to call imported cars a Holden and think we won’t notice.” This could very easily be seen as overlooking all BUT the VF Commodore from Holden were and had been imported cars for a couple of decades at least, as opposed to the 1970s with Toranas, HQ through to HZ Kingswoods and the Commodore VB and VC being built here.

Then there’s the look of the ZG. Somewhat smaller overall than the VF, with looks more similar to Japanese maker Mazda’s 6 than the bloky, broad-shouldered, VF, there’s been comments about how it doesn’t look like what we’ve had over forty years: “The car is ugly and does not resemble a Commodore and the once loyal consumers are turning to superior Japanese and european manufacturers to get what they want.”

Let’s look at this in a bit more detail. The VB through to VK were effectively the same, before a re-skin for the VL. Then there was the complete overhaul for the VN, a bare facelift for the VP, before the VR and VS. Along came the VT and VX, then the facelifted VY and VZ. Where could we say the VT resembled the VB or the VY resembled the VL?

Regardless of the opposing points of view it’s clear that a substantial amount of disquiet is out there in regards to the ZG Commodore. As the four words used sagely go: only time will tell.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Suzuki Swift Sport Manual and Auto.

Suzuki has had a long history with small hatches that have sporting pretensions. Every iteration of the Swift is warmly received, warmly reviewed and leads to high expectations for the next model. And so it was for the 2018 version. The 2018 Suzuki Swift Sport also…sports…a couple of noticeable changes.Suzuki have gone to their parts bin and slotted in their poky 1.4L BoosterJet four cylinder petrol engine. With 103kW and 230Nm it doesn’t sound like there’s a lot of oomph, but remember it is just 1400cc in size. There’s the added extra of a six speed auto to back up the venerable six speed manual. In a car weighing around the 1000kg mark the engine and transmission combination adds up to be a sparkling performer. At $25490 and $27490 plus ORCs it’s well priced and comes with a decent range of standard equipment as well.The exterior of the Sport goes a step further than the already worked over Swift. There’s faux carbon fibre side skirts, a solid looking rear valance panel, and a jut jawed front end with more in your face attitude than the standard. Even the rear door handles are buried in radar absorbing black and mounted high in the C pillar. It’s about the same physical size as the previous model, with a total length of just 3890mm, width of 1735mm, and a petite 1495mm high, yet weighs less as well (970kg manual, 990kg auto). With a squat stance thanks to the low height and broad for its size track, the Swift Sport looks able to take on any tarmac surface.The Sport’s suspension is hard. Harder in the auto was the feeling, but not by much over the manual. It sometimes felt as if a rear corner was being raised when punted through some corners in both. However it also meant that on tight and twisting roads the Sport can be absolute thrown hard into them and will sit flat and confident. The steering is an extension of the driver’s arms too, with instant response and the front tracking almost like a military helmet and nose-gun system. The superb 195/45/17 rubber contributes to that utter adhesion too. Brakes? Like the steering, they’re an extension. Think how much stopping you want, press, and receive.If there’s a weak link in the drive train it is, unusually, the manual. The clutch pedal feels too soft, with no real resistance, and the gear selector is the same. It’s rubbery, doesn’t feel as if the gate mechanism has the schnick schnick expected. Oh, it does the job well enough if it’s not rushed, as unhurried, fluid, motions will select the gear all the time, every time. It simply doesn’t feel sporty.The auto, gawd help me, is the complete opposite. Decisive, clear in its intent, assertive, smooth, and delivering on every promise, the auto is pretty much everything a driver of a sports oriented hatch could want. The gear selector has no manual option too, that’s left up to the steering column mounted paddle shifts. Power down, and it’s bam bam bam. Just beautiful.Inside there’s a pair of snug sports seats up front, standard seats at the rear, devil red trim contrasting with the charcoal interior plastic. The driver’s dash dials are a bronzed hue and glow a deep red at night. Smartly, for a right hand drive market, Suzuki have fitted the Start/Stop button up on the right side of the dash and in clear view of the driver’s eye. The touchscreen is standard and comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.Being a small car it’s no surprise the cargo space is on the petite side at 265L, and with the rear seats folded, increases to a more useful but not huge 579L. There’s small numbers for the engine, but good small. Although the fuel thimble is just 37L the consumption stretches that size. I finished on 5.9L/100 km, and that’s just about on the money from Suzuki’s quoted fuel figure of 6.1L/100km combined.There’s a good safety package on board however there’s no driver’s kneebag, autonomous emergency braking, and NO parking sensors at all. Not a one. Nor is the Hill Start Assist in the manual yet the auto receives it. Ummm, ok then.At The End Of The Drive.
It’s truly rare, as a supporter and firm believer of a non-self shifter, that I will prefer the auto option. But here, in the 2018 Suzuki Swift Sport, it’s a no brainer. 2018 Suzuki Swift Sport specs is where to find out more.

2018 Kia Rio SLi: Car Review.

Kia‘s evergreen slightly bigger than small car, the Rio, has had a mild revamp inside and out for 2018. LED DRLs, digital radio, a reprofiled front bar are the obvious changes. And priced from $22,990 RRP plus $520 for premium paint, it’s not a bank buster either.It’s the solid, trusty, dependable 1.4L MPI petrol engine we’ve come to know and….love is far too strong a word. Like sounds fair. There’s 74kW of peak power and 133Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. On their own, they’re reasonable numbers from a non forced induction 1.4L. However there’s also the same four speed auto that continues to hold back the Rio. Surely by now there’d be something in the Kia/Hyundai parts bin to change to a five or preferably six speed auto. The fall-off between gears is just that little bit too much for a car in the late part of the 21st century’s second decade. In shorter words, it’s time to modernise.Although the engine itself is a willing revver, spinning easily through the range in Neutral, third and fourth showcase just how much they hold the 1.4L back, and also just how much more economy could be wrung out of it. Kia’s figures say 6.2L per 100 km from the 45L tank on regular ULP. With 110 km/h seeing 3000rpm on the tacho, those extra mid range cogs would could see the ratio in the final drive changed and drop the revs to a potentially more usable and frugal number, especially given the kerb weight of 1162kg for the auto. The auto will also tow up to 800 kilograms.That said it’s a lovely little driver with slightly heavy steering, a somewhat softish road ride which may have been down to the 195/55/16 Kumho rubber, however it’s stable enough in its handling. Freeway conditions have the petite 4065mm using its 2580mm wheelbase absorbing most of the irregularities and the well damped McPherson strut front is more than capable of dealing with anything that causes bump steer. But neither is it a sports car, and the slowish steering rack reflects that.The interior sees the information and entertainment seven inch touchscreen move from an integrated into the dash location to a standalone unit mounted high in the dash itself, much like the new Stinger. Charging for phones etc comes courtesy of a pair of 12V sockets up front, a USB port, and one for the rear seat passengers. There’s a sunroof , UV protected glass for the front passengers, alloy sports pedals, cloth covered seats with a higher grade material (man made leather with perforations) than the S and Si, and what Kia calls a “super vision instrument cluster”. Nup, neither do I.Dash plastics and trim are a blended mix of soft touch plastics and a gunmetal hue to the dashboard strips. If anything, it misses out on the current design ethos of a sweeping arch that brings the door trims into the dash as one curve. Bottle holders number four, one in each door, the touchscreen in the Si and SLi has DAB and satnav as standard, plus both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard across the three trim levels. Bluetooth is, of course, standard and there’s address book and media streaming capability.There’s plenty of room inside, with Kia’s typically efficient packaging providing space for four comfortably, enough front leg room for people up to six feet tall, however the rear seat leg room becomes tight when the seats are pushed back.Outside it’s a redesign for the front and rear, with the tail light cluster bringing in the neon light look. The front has a solid bar framed in chrome in the Schreyer nose grille, reprofiled headlights with circulat LED driving lights, globes in the lower corners, and the roofline has been flattened for a sharper look. The hatch door is more upright and allows access to a 325L or 980L cargo space with the rear 60/40 split fold seats down. The SLI has 16 inch wheels, with the S and Si rolling on 15s. The test car was clad in Signal Red, with Clear White, Silky Silver, Platinum Graphite, Aurora Black Pearl, Smoke Blue, and Mighty Yellow available.There’s Kia’s standard seven year warranty which is bolstered by a high standard of safety across the range. Hill Start Assist, reverse parking guidelines, and six airbags are standard but there’s no autonomous emergency braking or a driver’s kneebag. Kia also supply a space saver spare, not a full sizer.

At The End Of The Drive.
The Rio really is a car with pootential but that four speed auto is an anchor. With other manufacturers using a CVT or changing to a turbocharged three cylinder with a broader range of torque, the Rio, as good a car as it is, is in danger of being left behind. The update outside and in do refresh the Rio into a handsome looker however a savvy driver will overlook this. Details of Kia’s updated Rio are here: 2018 Kia Rio range