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BMW Ups The X6.

BMW is unveiling a new edition of the X6 Sports Activity Coupe. The new BMW X6 is available from launch in xLine and M Sport model variants as an alternative to standard specification. There’s been an exterior restyle and increase in size. The new BMW X6 has grown by 26 millimetres in length compared to the model it replaces, and is now 4,935 mm. It’s grown by 15 mm in width to 2,004 mm and sits lower by 6mm at 1,696 mm. The wheelbase has also increased, and is now 2,975mm, up by 42mm.The line-up of engines available for the new BMW X6 from launch includes two petrol units and a pair of diesel variants from the latest generation. The model line-up is spearheaded by a BMW M model with a newly developed 390 kW V8 petrol engine. The BMW X6 M50i quotes fuel consumption combined as 10.7–10.4 l/100 km with CO2 emissions rated as 243–237 g/km.

There is the BMW X6 M50d which is frugal at a combined: 7.2–6.9 l/100 km. CO2 emissions combined are 190–181 g/km, whilst peak power is 294 kW from the six-cylinder in-line diesel engine which packs a quartet of turbochargers.

The BMW X6 xDrive40i  has a straight-six petrol unit with an output of 250 kW. Fuel consumption for the engine is rated as 8.6–8.0 l/100 km for the combined cycle. CO2 emissions combined are 197–181 g/km. The BMW X6 xDrive30d rates fuel consumption on the combined cycle as 6.6–6.1 l/100 km and CO2 emissions combined as 172–159 g/km from a six-cylinder in-line diesel with 195 kW.

All variants of the new BMW X6 fulfil the requirements of the EU6d-TEMP emissions standard. The M Sport exhaust system fitted as standard on both M models is also available as an option for the other versions of the BMW X6 or as part of the M Sport package, and gives the car an unmistakable and emotionally rich aural presence. Standard transmission is an eight speed Steptronic and a torque-split system divides between front and rear on demand. Normal drive sees the power sent to the rear wheels and bias is also rear wheeled in dynamic driving environments. Opt for the M Sport spec and an electronically M differential lock is fitted to the rear axle or in the xOffroad package.BMW’s signature kidney grille is front and centre, with the outermost edges nudging the headlights. BMW also now offer the grille with backlighting.  The illumination is activated by opening or closing the car, but the driver can switch it on and off manually too. This lighting function for the kidney grille is also available while driving.

Laserlight LED headlights are optionable. When fitted, a BMW Laserlight spotlight with Selective Beam optimises the high beam function and ensures a non-dazzling drive for oncoming traffic. Range is up to 500 metres. When activated, BMW Laserlight can be identified by the blue x-shaped elements inside the signature BMW twin headlights.

The new X6 rolls on 19 inch alloys which are standard. 20 to 22 inches are optionable.  The BMW X6 M50i and BMW X6 M50d come with 21-inch light-alloy wheels as standard.

Suspension is in the form of a double-wishbone front axle and five-link rear axle. BMW says this gives them the tools for a dynamic drive and ride comfort on the road, plus unshakable traction off the beaten track. BMW’s bespoke Dynamic Damper Control is included as standard. There is also the Adaptive M suspension Professional with active roll stabilisation and Integral Active Steering. It’s said to endow the car with exceptionally agile and dynamic driving qualities. Air suspension for the front and rear axles have automatic self-leveling. Height adjustment of up to 80 millimetres is part of the air suspension. For those bold enough to hit the dirt, BMW also offer an off-road package is available for all model variants. But the X6 M50i and X6 M50d are counted out on this option. The off-road package provides extra progress in Snow, Sand, Rock, and Gravel driven areas. Inside is the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. Say “Hey, BMW” and the digital assistant will respond to the enquiry. There is also personalisation available in the form of providing a name for the assistant. Extra tech is in the shape of a 12.3 inch fully digital LCD screen for the high-resolution instrument cluster and Control Display.

Naturally there is plenty of safety tech too. Standard specification includes Cruise Control with braking function and the Collision and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking. Cyclist detection is included. Active Cruise Control with Stop/Go is also standard. The Driving Assistant professional includes the Evasion Assistant which is another component of the Driving Assistant Professional.  Rear collision warning, road priority warning and wrong-way driving warning systems, crossing traffic warning, Lane Change Warning and the Emergency Stop Assistant are also standard. Contact BMW Australia for a test drive here

 

Hyundai’s Tucson Refreshed And Updated.

Hyundai Australia has released details of the 2020 refresh for the Tucson range. There is a four trim level choice and that’s courtesy of the addition of the Active entry level model. Active X, Elite, and Highlander are the others. There are upgrades to the safety systems, exterior and interior updates, and minor changes to pricing.

Active and Active X can be specced with a six speed manual transmission and are priced at $29,290 and $32,290, or with a six speed auto will be $31,790 and $34,790 respectively. Power comes from a 2.0L petrol engine, and prices are before government and dealership charges. Tucson Elite dips out on the manual but can be ordered with the 2.0L and auto for $37,850.

Move up to the 1.6L turbo four, seven speed dual clutch auto, and all wheel drive system, and Elite & Highlander price out at $40,850 and $46,500 respectively. Turn to the oiler, and that’s a 2.0L capacity unit driving all wheels through an eight speed auto. Hyundai offer that in all grades and prices are $37,090, $40,090, $43,150, $48,800 respectively. Premium paint is a $595 option and to call upon the nicely styled beige interior is $295.Safety is upgraded courtesy of a rear park assist system being added to the Active. Hyundai’s SmartSense package is standard here and in the Active X which includes Driver Alert Warning, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with a City/Urban camera system, Forward Collision Warning and Rear Park Assist. Alloy wheels are standard across all four models with the Active and Active X getting 17s and 18s respectively. The Active has a driver’s window up/down on-touch switch in addition.

The Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, (FCA) in City/Urban works from a windshield-mounted camera reading the road ahead. Should it “feel” that a collision is possible, the Forward Collision Warning System will make a noise and show a signal in the driver’s information cluster. It’s a system that works between 8 kmh and up to 180kmh. Forward Collision Avoidance Avoidance Assist – City Urban pairs up with FCW to hit the stop pedal automatically if the system judges no human intervention after an alert. This works between 8kmh and 65kmh. Elite and Highlander gain radar sensors to complement the camera and Hyundai extend the name to City/Urban/Interurban/Pedestrian. At speeds of between 10kmh and 80kmh the package brings the car to a complete halt.

Specification levels increase in sophistication as the range moves from Active to Highlander. Items such as rear camera, DAB audio, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay are common throughout. Active X has leather appointed seats, for example, and some electrically powered adjustment for the driver’s seat. The Tucson Elite has a cooling system for the glovebox, rain sensing wipers, and puddle lamps. The Highlander has a powered tailgate, and a wireless charging pad, plus bending LED headlights.
All models have the very handy Hyundai AutoLink, with the Highlander available via a SIM based connection. The other three connect via Bluetooth. This provides information such as driving analysis, driving history, contact with Hyundai dealers to book a service, and in the Highlander, real time weather updates, remote access to start/stop, and remote access to the climate control system, amongst other features. Hyundai also entice owners to have their Tucson serviced at a Hyundai dealership by including a ten year satnav upgrade plan and a ten year roadside assist plan.
Contact your dealer for a test drive.

Private Fleet Car Review: Holden Trax LS Turbo

This Car Review Is About: the Holden Barina based SUV called the Trax. This review is on the LS spec with turbo engine. It’s part of a three trim level range (LS, LT, LTZ) with all but one the 1.4L turbo. The range starts with a LS and 1.8L and is priced at $23,990 plus on roads. At the time of writing the LS 1.4L was available at $24,490 driveaway.The Engine Produces: 103kW and 200Nm, plus a figure of 6.7L per 100 kilometres (combined) from a 53L tank filled with 91RON. Our final figure in an urban drive was 8.3L/100km. Drive is through the front wheels and a six speed auto.On The Inside It’s: a reasonably comfortable place to be. Cloth seats are snug and although fully manual are easy to adjust. The doors open wide enough to make getting onto the seats a doddle too. Because it’s a compact machine, at 4,264mm long and a 2,555mm wheelbase, leg room for the rear seat is adequate at 907mm, not startling and dependent on the front pews not being occupied by taller people. Front leg room is fine for all but the the giants, at 1037mm. Shoulder and hip room is also adequate and front seat head room is great at 1,005mm. The Trax helps the front seat passengers by not having a centre console storage bin, just a standard cup holder style.Barina origins mean the dash is the asymmetrical look found in that car. There’s a old-style looking LCD screen to the right, the speedometer dial in the centre, and the fuel and rev counter on the left. It’s a simple looking unit and as a result offers nothing more than what you see, except for the LCD’s switchable info screens operated from the right hand side of the tiller.The dash itself is Euro styled, with the current sweep around in an arch from door to door running at the base of the windscreen. It’s a finer looking plastic and visually more appealing than that found in the Arcadia. Faux alloy rims the air vents at each end, forms a U-loop for the centre display and vents, and highlights the steering wheel arms and centre stack verticals. The aircon controls in the LS are dials, meaning the temperature can be adjusted finitely but airflow isn’t as finely controlled. These sit above a small nook that has USB/3.5mm/12V sockets.

Audio is AM/FM only, with no DAB, which is increasingly seen in the Trax’s opposition. Smartphone mirroring in the form of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are here.On the Ouside: It’s a strong resemblance to the Barina, if more a breathe in and hold look. It’s ovoid in the overall design, with curves everywhere especially on the front and rear flanks. 215/60/17 tyres and wheels underpin those curves. Up front are integrated LED driving lights that curl nicely around the outsides of the clusters. Driving lights are in their own housings at each corner of the lower front bumper. Out back is a manual tail gate, with an opening to just enough room to get a week’s shopping into, with 387L expanding to 1270L with the 60/40 rear pews folded.

Tail lights are a triple layered affair and blend nicely with the bulbous rear guards. There’s also a resemblance, in a way, to the Trailblazer and Colorado up front, and nothing at all in respect to the Equinox and Acadia. There are eight colours to choose from, including the Absolute Red the test car was painted in.

On The Road It’s: Missing something. It’s not a big machine, and the 1.4L isn’t an outright powerhouse, but 200NMm comes on stream at 1,850Nm. Performance, what there is of it, is blunted, muted, initially First impressions were that the tyres were under-pressured, dragging back the LS Trax. It simply didn’t feel as lively, as exuberant, as it should have. It takes a while to feel as if there’s something living under the bonnet. Get to around 1/3rd travel of the go-pedal and once the revs are above 2,000 the hidden life of the engine is revealed.

Suspension is short travel and tight, to the point the Trax would cock a rear corner in certain situations. None of those were at anything more than 10kmh, thankfully. It’s an odd sensation but it pointed towards the ride and handling the Trax LS had. Smooth on smooth roads, jiggly and unsettled on unsettled roads, tracks straight and true otherwise. The front is a tad softer than the rear though and this helps in the front end’s tracking nicely. It’s a slightly numb steering feel, prone to understeer, but it’s predictable, controllable, telegraphing just where the pert nose will go with no chance of misinformation being sent to the driver.What also isn’t sent to the driver is the Acadia’s vibrating seat platform should the onboard sensors detect anything the system deems worthy of sending a signal to the vibrating seat. That’s a long way of saying that the driver is better equipped to deal with driving situations in front of them because they’re not momentarily distracted by a seat going crazy beneath them.

Steering is well weighted and the brakes are also well balanced, with extra bite over the 1.8L that comes with drum rears. the turbo four has discs.

What About Safety?: No AEB, and the LTZ is the only one that gets Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Alert. all three do get a lo-res reverse camera, six airbags, and the mandated driver aids and Hill Start Assist.

The Warranty Is: Five years/unlimited kilometres, with three years free scheduled servicing.At The End of the Drive.
The Holden Trax is apparently due for an update in 2020. It needs it and needs it badly. Not because it’s an unpleasant car, far from it. However when up against cars in the same sphere, it’s immediately dated. Holden’s Traxis available here.

 

Kia Loses Its Soul, Finds Its Seltos Instead.

Kia has released more details of its compact SUV to be called Seltos. Due for sale in the second half of 2019, the Seltos replaces the Soul but has strong familial looks to the outgoing car and more than a hint of SsangYong Tivoli. To be built in both India and Korea, the Seltos is said to be a showcase car of technology. Featuring a 10.25 inch touchscreen as the centrepiece inside, it has the ability to show a split screen and customize the screen to display up to three applications simultaneously. The driver, therefore, can choose to have a single display (such as navigation) or combine different elements on-screen.

Seltos will add in new feature lighting and an optional Sound Mood Lighting system, which will emit soft light from panels in the doors. This includes a unique 3D-patterned surface on the door panels. The Sound Mood Lighting system will pulse in time to the beat of music playing through the audio system and will allow a user to program from eight customisable colours and six themes to illuminate the cabin. The Seltos will also offer the UVO CONNECT telematics system. As more and more makers move into interconnectivity, UVO CONNECT blends the usage of smartphones and the car’s touchscreen.

Part of the technology brings live data such as traffic flow and information, weather updates, and something to look at in a points of interest for a good country drive, for example. An app will back this feature up, with data from trips and news about the Seltos itself. The UVO system is free to users for the first three years, and includes stolen vehicle notification and tracking, safety alerts, auto collision notification and emergency assistance. Sounds come from a Bose 8 speaker system and the driver has an 8.0 inch HUD for instant information in the eyeline.

Power is courtesy of three engines. A naturally aspirated 110kW of 2.0L, a turbo 1.6L with 130kW, and a diesel to produce 100kW from 1.6L will be available elsewhere with the Australian market to receive the turbo petrol and standard petrol. The 2.0L will drive a CVT and will be front wheel drive, with the turbo petrol an all wheel drive and seven speed dual clutch auto. Naturally the Eco/Normal/Sport modes will be standard.
The body itself share the same stocky stance as the Soul; there’s a steeply raked windscreen sitting behind a bluff and solid looking nose with Kia’s signature “tiger nose” grille and LED lights for the front and rear. Turn signal lamps have a deep 3D design and even the fog lamps are LED. The actual design is intended to show off a sense of assertiveness. This is emphasised by a solid shoulder line and character lines on the bonnet. Depending on model, the wheels and tyres are high-grip 205/60 R16, 215/55 R17 or 235/45 R18 tyres.
Contact Kia to prebook your test drive.

Say Hello To The New Baleno and Colorado.

Suzuki Australia has announced that the Baleno has been given an update and will be available in Australia late this year. The new look Baleno GL will be here from August and the Baleno GLX variant available for purchase from September 2019. Pricing will remain incredibly sharp, with the Baleno GL and with a manual transmission starting at $15,990, the auto just $1,000 more, and the auto only GLX at $18,990.

Key changes to the exterior design include a newly designed front grille, revised front and rear bumpers, whilst the 15” steel wheel hub cap and the 16” alloy wheel have received an updated look.
The updated Baleno GLX will also feature UV protection glass on the windscreen, upgraded headlight projectors from HID to LED, plus automatic headlight leveling. Metallic paint is a $500 option, and the colour range is: Fire Red, Arctic White, Granite Gray Metallic, Stargraze Blue Metallic, and Premium Silver Metallic. Interior changes are limited to a revised door trim colour plus all-new seat fabric design and colour. All engine configuration and specifications remain unchanged as per the current model.

Suzuki Australia General Manager – Automobile, Mr. Michael Pachota said the introduction of the updated Baleno will be key for Suzuki’s growth in the light car segment. “A welcome improvement has been introduced in the Series II with a sleek but aggressive sporty aesthetic, amongst other additions. The new look design successfully freshens up the Baleno and remains perfectly fit in our Suzuki model line-up for the Australian automotive market.”

He added: “Impressively, even with these improvements, current pricing is sustained and with the recent introduction of a 1.4 litre engine in the GLX variant, bringing the entire range below $18,900 RRP, will no doubt further increase our opportunity in the light car segment.”

The new look Baleno comes with Suzuki’s 5 year Capped Price Service (CPS) warranty program.

Holden have also updated one of their staples in the stable. The Colorado has a new addition and some extra features added as standard. The model designated as LSX is now the entry level to the Colorado family. Sitting at the top of the tree is the Z71 and this now hasrugged fender flares and a bash plate now standard on the flagship model. A convenient new ‘soft drop’ tailgate is also exclusive to the range topping Z71, while the mid-range LTZ 4×4 gains leather trimmed seats with the front ones now heated. The Z71 and LTZ now also receive a Duraguard spray on tub liner as standard.
“The addition of the DuraGuard tub-liner means that MY20 Z71 and LTZ Colorado are the only pick-ups that retail for under $70,000 to feature this premium technology as standard equipment,” Andre Scott, the general manager of light commercial vehicle marketing at Holden, said. Careful research has also produced factory backed accessory packs, with Mr Scott adding: “Take the Tradie pack for example. It includes a towing package, side and rear steps, a roof tray, 12V auxiliary power, floor mats, canvas seat covers, weather shields, bonnet protector and cup holders – it’s enough to make sure any jobsite is done and dusted.”
Contact Holden for availabiliy details.

Car Review: 2019 Hyundai Kona Highlander & 2019 Hyundai Tucson Elite.Private Fleet

This Car Review Is About: A pair of SUVs from Korean goliath, Hyundai. It’s great to have to Hyundai back in the garage, and the two cars reviewed, Kona and Tucson, show the direction of one section of the car market. The Kona was the highest trim level, the Highlander, with the Tucson a mid level trim, the Elite. Kona comes in four trim levels with the conventional, non-electric, powertrain. There is Kona Go, Kona Active, Kona Elite, and Kona Highlander. There is also the limited edition “Iron Man” version. Tucson is Go, Active X, Elite, Special Edition, and Highlander.

Under The Bonnet Is: A choice of turbo or non-turbo engine. The Highlander spec Kona came with the Atkinson cycle 2.0L that drives the front wheels, the turbo is AWD. 110kW and 180Nm are the peak power and torque outputs, at 6,200rpm and 4,500rpm. The Elite came with the same capacity engine and front driven wheels, but slightly uprated in regards to power and torque, at 122kW and 205Nm, which are available at 6,200rpm and 4,000rpm. Tucson also has the 1.6L/AWD, and adds AWD to a 2.0L diesel.Both cars run E10 compatible fuel systems and are EURO 5 compliant. Transmission for the 2WD Kona is a six speed auto, as is the Tucson. The Elite Tucson is available with the diesel and 1.6L petrol, which gain an eight speed auto and seven speed dual clutch auto respectively.Consumption for the Kona is rated as 7.2L/100km for the combined, 9.7L/100km for the city, and just 5.8L/100km on the highway cycle. In 2.0L and 6 speed auto trim, the Tucson has 7.9L/100km combined, 11.0L/100km in the city cycle, and a reasonable 6.1L/100km for the highway. Weights are 1,290kg (dry) to 1,383kg for the Kona, with Tucson ranging from 1,490kg (dry) to 1,590kg.

On The Inside Is: A really funky interior for the Kona Highlander, a restrained and functional interior for the Tucson. Highlander spec for the Kona sees the body colour added to the piping on the seats, colour coordinated seatbelts, the air-vent surrounds, and gear selector surround. As the test car came in a colour called Lime Twist it makes for a very eye-catching look.The Tucson Elite review car had mocha coloured seats and an otherwise standard looking interior. There are notable similarities between the two in respect to the layout of the dash, and a couple of of differences. The Tucson, for example, has two separate buttons for fresh and recirculating, whereas the Kona uses one. The Kona also goes for a Head Up Display, accompanied by a slight buzz as it rises monolithically out of the top of the driver’s binnacle. The actual dash designs are different; the Kona is at odds with the sharp and edgy exterior design by having a flowing, organic, dash. The Tucson is a more traditional look, with a flatter profile and has air vents at either end that are reminiscent of an American classic car’s rear end.Kona Highlander has dials for both fan speed and temperature, Tucson Elite has a separate pair of tabs for fan speed, and two dials for individual front seat temperatures. Naturally the Kona offers venting and heating for the front seats but the Elite offers neither., even with perforations in the seat materials. Kona Highlander has a wireless smartphone charge pad, two USB ports up front, with Tucson Elite having a sole USB port front and rear.Headroom is identical, at 1,005mm up front, and virtually the same at 961mm for the Kona, 963mm for Tucson in the rear. Front seat legroom is lineball with Kona scoring 1,054mm for the front, Tucson 1,053mm in the front, with the shorter overall Kona losing out in the rear leg room stakes. It’s 880mm to 970mm. Shoulder room for the Kona is 1,410mm/1,385mm front and rear, whilst the Tucson has 1,450mm/1,410mm. Load up the rear and the Kona has 361L/1,143L to the Tucson’s 488L/1,478L. Both have steering wheel controls for audio, dash screen information, Bluetooth phone connection and voice activation, with both looking virtually identical. the driver’s displays are the same, and the upper centre dash for both is where the touchscreens for audio, satnav, and more are found. There are minimal design differences between the two, and both have screens that are a delight to use in their looks, simplicity of usage, and layout. Both have the almost mandatory apps including Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and DAB audio.

On The Outside It’s: Revolution and evolution. The Kona is one of the new breed of small SUVs that are supplementing the medium and large SUV segments. The marketing for the Kona is aimed at the younger demographic and the design of the Kona itself is of an appeal to the same. Kona eschews the traditional front end design of upper mounted headlights and replaces them with LED daytime running lights. the headlights themselves are mid mounted, with the lower centre air intake featuring conventionally powered lights, with cornering lamps also up front. The rear has LEDs in the Highlander, with separate clusters for the reverse and indicators. Tucson is in its second generation and has been given a refinement front and rear. The LED DRL strips are now set as “eyebrows” to the headlights, rather than being located in the lower front quarters. The grille and headlights are reprofiled, there are new wheel designs, and the rear has been subtly reprofiled from the originals slightly bulbous shape, and the horizontal line in the lower third of the rear door has been deleted. Both have the durable black polyurethane body mouldings for soft-roading protection and visual appeal.

Rubber for the Highlander is 235/45 on 18 inch alloys, with the tyres from Hankook. The Tucson is slightly smaller in width at 225/55/18, with Kumho the supplier here.

On The Road It’s: A bit chalk and cheese. Although the Highlander is no heavyweight, the high rev point for the peak torque means off-the-line mojo isn’t great with the 2.0L non-turbo. Patience is required and any move from a stop sign before going into oncoming traffic needs to be well judged. Rolling acceleration isn’t fantastic but it’s nice enough and builds in a linear fashion.

The Tucson Elite is more spritely, more responsive from the start. Although it was the non-turbo engine, the performance was definitely more engaging and sparkling. Peak torque is higher in numbers and lower in the rev range, so the cogs can deliver the torque more efficiently, it seems.

Both exhibit well mannered on-road credentials. The Highlander is harder in the suspension, with a notably tighter ride across all tarmac surfaces. Steering initially felt like twisting a thick rubber rope, the Tucson lighter and easier to deal with daily. The Kona eventually felt as much of an extension as the Tucson. Braking in both was balanced, progressive, and although not instant in response from a press of the pedal, could be judged perfectly as the pedal went down.

The Tucson had an opportunity to show off its soft-road ability with a long drive in a national park and on gravel roads. Up front, the ABS calibration definitely errs towards a tarmac bias. Some of the roads are just wide enough to allow two vehicles to pass at low speed safely, and occasionally the Tucson’s stopping ability into a certain section was called upon. There was no lack of control, the car went straight ahead, and once or twice the pressure was such to engage the emergency flashers.

On the rutted surfaces the suspension was tuned well enough that body control was solid. There was little noise intrusion, and the suspension transmitted little of the jiggles through. The front end felt connected to the front and even when provoked somehow managed to keep understeer to a minimum.

The Safety Systems Are: Quite solid in both. The Hyundai SafetySense package in the Kona Highlander is shared with Kona Elite, and included Forward Collision Alert with Pedestrian and Car avoidance, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lanbe Keep Assist, and six airbags. In Tucson trim, the Elite gets these but they’re an option below. The Lane Keep Assist is perhaps a bit aggressive, with a non-subtle tugging of the wheel in the driver’s hands as it works to centralise the cars in a lane. And The Warranty Is: Five years/unlimited kilometres is the current Hyundai package. 12 months worth of roadside assistance is included at purchase, the first service is free. Hyundai also offer a Lifetime Service Plan, and your local Hyundai dealer can explain how that works in more detail. There is also the Hyundai AutoLink app, and it looks pretty cool to play with. It’s a multi-function monitor system that transfers info from the car to a smartphone, allowing tyre pressure checks, fuel and battery status, even driving time.

At The End Of The Drive. The growth of the SUV market seems almost unstoppable. Here, a major world player offers a small and medium sized option, with the Santa Fe at the top of the tree. The Kona and its marketing seem to be ideal for a clientele in the 20-30 year old demographic, and potentially a sing;e or couple with no children. The Tucson goes towards the mid 20s and upwards, and with one child at least.

Neither are horrible to live with and certainly the Kona became easier to understand in how to drive it as the week progressed. the Tucson, in comparison, was like strapping on a familiar set of boots, partly because I was involved in the original model’s launch program. The fact that the room up front is identical and really not that much different for the rear seat speaks volumes for the overall design and packaging of the Kona.

On a tech level the Kona Highlander has the HUD to offer, and for those that don’t wish to use it there is a switch that lowers the screen. Dynamically the Tucson comes out as the winner, but a trim-for-trim comparison would provide a more apt comparison. In either respect, Hyundai kicks goals as a car brand to aspire to, and the “N” series of i30 is certainly highly regarded.
2019 Hyundai Tucson range and 2019 Hyundai Kona range info is available in more detail via these two links.

2020 RAV4 Ready To Roar.

If you’re not a fan of SUV style vehicles, best you stop and look away now. The Toyota RAV4, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is widely regarded as the original SUV. 2019 has the release of a vastly updated car and range to continue the legend.

The range will include, for the RAV4’s first time, a hybrid. There will be two petrol engines, four trim levels, and 2WD or AWD variants.
The Gx range is the entry level, with GXL, Cruiser, and a solitary, and new Edge trim spec.. Here’s how the pricing structure shakes down.

GX Petrol 2WD manual: $30,640, GX Petrol 2WD CVT $32,640, GX Hybrid 2WD CVT $35,140, GX Hybrid AWD CVT $38,140;
GXL Petrol 2WD CVT $35,640, GXL Hybrid 2WD CVT $38,140, GXL Hybrid AWD CVT $41,140;
Cruiser Petrol 2WD CVT $39,140, Cruiser Hybrid 2WD CVT $41,640, Cruiser Hybrid AWD CVT $44,640 &
Edge Petrol AWD Auto $47,140The base petrol engine is a new 127kW/203Nm 2.0-litre, direct injection, four-cylinder engine that drives through Toyota’s now well-proven continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a launch gear mechanism. The GX also gets a manual with a rev-matching program. The hybrid goes a step further, with a 2.5L Atkinson Cycle powerplant. Peak oomph depends on the driven wheels. There are combined maximum outputs of 160kW for 2WD variants and 163kW for AWD versions. This also continues Toyota’s fuel efficiency drive, with just 4.7 litres/100km2 for 2WD variants and 4.8 litres/100km2 for AWD versions.There is also a nifty rear axle mounted drive system. Toyota fits an additional rear motor generator to provide power to the rear axle for the electric AWD system. Complete with a Trail mode, it enables up to 80 per cent of the total drive torque to be delivered through the rear wheels.

A new model reaches the RAV4 family. The Edge trim level also has a 2.5L petrol four, and there’s 152kW of peak power, with 243Nm of peak torque available, reaching the ground via an eight speed auto. A mechanical AWD system can split torque at up to 50:50 front to rear from a 100% front driven only delivery. The Edge trim level will also feature off-rad drive modes, being Mud and Sand, Rock and Dirt, and Snow.RAV4 has also been given an extensive makeover outside, with a stronger resemblance to the HiLux family. The exterior redesign brings a sharper look, a bolder look by moving away from the curvier outgoing model, and 17-inch,18-inch and 19-inch alloy wheels which add a visually solid and planted presence on the road. The GX starts the party with LED headlights, auto wipers, and dual exhaust pipes. Inside there’s a 4.2 inch driver’s display, 8.0 inch touchscreen with DAB audio and voice recognition, higher grade trim feel and quality than before, and improved safety features including AEB as standard.The GXL has 18 inch alloys, up from the 17s on GX, and adds privacy glass for the rear windows. A rear camera with guidance lines is added. Wireless charging up front and rear airvents get a nod as well, plus there’s five USB ports, with three for the front seat passengers. The Cruiser trim level goes to 19 inch wheels, heated front seats and a powered driver’s seat. The driver’s display gets bumped up to a 7.0 inch screen. The Edge gets more cosmetics, venting for the front seats, and a leather look material for the pews.Underpinning the slightly shorter (5mm), lower (30mm), and wider (10mm) body is the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform that features a 30mm longer wheelbase and wider track, that has been extended by between 25mm and 55mm. This, together with a revised front MacPherson strut and new multi-link rear suspension, gives the new RAV4 substantially improved driving dynamics, superb ride comfort, and improved handling.Safety is raised, as expected. Seven airbags including driver’s kneebag, with the Toyota Safety Sense package including AEB with pedestrian detection for day and night conditions, and daytime cyclist detection, active cruise control for the autos, lane trace assist and lane centreing, plus lane departure alert with lane keep assist.

Check with your local Toyota dealership for availability and to book a test drive.

SUVs and Utes Globally Unstoppable

Toyota RAV4 SUV

This year is shaping up to be an exciting and interesting year for car sales in Australia.  Currently, the Toyota Hilux is selling well above even the second biggest seller: the Ford Ranger.  With over 4,500 sales in March, Toyota and there owners are loving life.  Ford Ranger during the same period sold 3721 units.  But take a look at this list and you’ll see that of the top ten models sold in Australia six of them are utes and SUVs.

  1. Toyota Hilux
  2. Ford Ranger
  3. Mitsubishi Triton
  4. Mazda3
  5. Toyota Corolla
  6. Mazda CX-5
  7. Hyundai i30
  8. Mitsubishi ASX
  9. Mitsubishi Outlander
  10. Kia Cerato

What about in the rest of the world?  Well, it continues to be true that more SUV and utes are being purchased than any other type of car in Australia and around the world.  In fact, the world’s most popular ute was not the Hilux but the Ford F-series (light truck).  Sorry Toyota lovers, but Ford takes you out globally!!  With well over 1 million F-series sold last year, that’s very impressive!  In New Zealand, Kiwis have a taste for the Ford Ranger more so than the Hilux, too.  But this isn’t about Ford being better than Toyota – just saying…

Ford F-Series

Now for redemption time for me, so as to get back on side with Toyota fans.  Last year the world’s most popular SUV was the Toyota RAV4.  It was also the most popular SUV in New Zealand.  Maybe all the rental car companies that love the robust and reliable nature of the RAV4 make up a big swag of those RAV4 global sales numbers.  The roads between Christchurch and Milford Sound are teeming with RAV4s!

So why do you think that the SUV and utes are growing so much in popularity here and around the world?  It could well be because a decade or so ago utes and SUVs were vehicles that had a bit of a hard nose to them, with a more practical bent to them.  Some utes were tremendously good at carrying loads but hideously uncomfortable to travel any longer distances with.  Today your SUV and ute still has huge practical merit but they are way more comfortable and sophisticated.  And who can argue with the SUVs ability to accommodate seven occupants?  It gets a bit difficult putting seven seats inside a stationwagon with room to spare; and just totally impossible trying to fit seven seats inside a sedan.

With these sort of stats rolling off car sales yards, one could easily say that SUVs and utes are very much taking over the world, and this regardless of rising fuel prices.

Car Review: 2019 Tesla Model X 100D

This Car Review Is About:
One of the two vehicles currently available from Tesla. The Model S and Model X are very closely related and come with a choice of drive combinations. A new model, a smaller car called Model 3 is scheduled for Australian release from July 2019. The vehicle tested is the non-P 100D. P for Performance, 100 for the kiloWatt hour drive, D for Dual motor (or, if you will, all wheel drive). The Model X can be specified with different seating configurations and the test vehicle was fitted out as a six seater. What About The Dollars?
Cost for the car tested started at $129,500. Metallic paint is $2,100, with the big black wheels $7,800. The seating colour scheme was $2,100 with the dash trim, a dark ash wood look, a standard no-cost fitment. It’s the electronic bits that add on, with the full self driving option and auto-pilot $7,100 and $4,300 each. With options fitted, Luxury Car Tax, and GST, plus charges such as government taxes, the car as tested came to $186,305.

Under The Bonnet Is:
Empty space. Yup, the Tesla Model X has a “frunk”, a front trunk, or in Aussie speak, a front boot. It’s big enough for a travel case of hiding the home charge cable that Tesla supplies. The engines for the 100D are located underneath at the front and rear, and engage via a single speed transmission. It’s this combination that gives the Tesla Model X startling acceleration, and in Ludicrous mode, a drive option available in the “P” designated cars, it’s quicker again. Call it three seconds to 100kph and you’d be on the money.On The Inside Is:
A choice of seating options. The test car came fitted with a white leather covered set of six seats. The three pairs all have their own form of power adjustment. Up front the driver has fore and aft movement, seat back adjustment, and lumbar support. The middle row are also adjustable for fore and aft, allowing access to the rear seats. However they do not have seat back adjustment. The third row are powered in a slightly different way, with a button locking or releasing them for raising or lowering.

Tesla fit a massive, vertically oriented, 17 inch touchscreen that houses virtually all of the functions. Audio, navigation, music access, air-conditioning, doors, car features, settings, online user manual, and some special features are all here. The map system is from Google and rendered in superb high definition on the screen. Drive orientation is in the upper right corner and can be set to swivel in direction or North as a permanent upper orientation.The overall front section presence is clean, uncluttered, traditional even. The driver’s binnacle has a full colour LCD screen that shows information such as energy usage, map, radio, and more. The steering column is perhaps the weakest part ergonomically. A left hand side indicator sits above the cruise control lever and both can be easily confused for the other as they’re very close together. The drive engage lever is on the right and is simple in operation.The centre row seats move forward and as they close towards the front seats gradually nose downwards to allow access to the rear. The rears are not adjustable for anything other than folded or not. Behind them is another storage locker with a lift away cover that otherwise provides a flat floor.The touchscreen itself houses “easter eggs”. At the top centre of the screen is a “T” symbol. Hold that for a second or two and a graphic that describes the individual car shows. A second or two later a screen appears above that and has an Atari games symbol, a Mars map symbol, a reindeer, a Christmas tree ornament and others. The Atari symbol brings up five games including Asteroids and Missile Command. The reindeer has the car’s driver display show a Father Christmas and sleigh, and rings Christmas bells on the indicator stalk. There is also an “emissions testing” icon that brings a grin to every ten year old boy when a sub-menu of different farts comes up.

On The Outside Is:
The extended roof version of the Model S. Extended as in the Model S formed the basis for the Model X. A higher roof line houses the famous folding gull wing doors, and there’s another part of the delight. When the Christmas ornament is pressed from the easter egg list, it invites the passengers to exit, and close the doors. A few seconds later if it works, as it’s sometimes hit or miss, the front windows roll down, the superb sound system pumps up, and the exterior LED lights up front flash in synchronisation. The doors themselves open and flap in unison and it is one unbelievably entrancing sight to see.The rear view sees an embedded airfoil otherwise the same looking tail lights at Model S. The nose is slightly different but unmistakeably Model S. The footprint is huge, with fan shaped alloys painted in black spanning 22 inches in diameter. Rubber is Goodyear Eagle and are 285/35.

The doors are normally hinged at the front, gull winged for the rear, and the driver’s door can be set to open on the approach of a person carrying the Tesla key fob. Unlike the Model S the door handles don’t extend out from the body, and require a firm press on the handle or via the key fob individually. A tap or two on the top can open or close all doors.

On The Road It’s:
A mix of elation and mild levels of meh. The meh is the steering feel. Although there are three drive modes that change the weight of the steering, it feels artificial and isolated. That’s not unexpected in such a technologically oriented vehicle. But that’s the worst of the on-road feels.

The time with the Model X coincided with a trip from the Blue Mountains to Bega via Canberra. Door to door it’s just on 500 kilometres. The full charge range of the Model X is knocking on 480km. An app that can be installed into your smartphone shows, once the car is linked to your account, the range expected, and when charging, the charge rate and charge distance. The AMOUNT of charge can also be adjusted, from zero through to 100%, with 80% being the default.

All Tesla cars come with a charge cable to hook the car up to a home’s electric network and Tesla themselves provide a higher output charge station to their buyers. These charge at 7 to 8 kilometres of range per hour. The first stop was at the supercharger portal in Goulburn. That’s a two hour drive with a supercharger near Canberra airport approximately another hour away. Superchargers will add in somewhere between 350km to 400km of range in an hour according to the app.Cooma is the next supercharger stop, another hour or so from Canberra, and this one is in an off the main road and not entirely welcoming location. It’s a set of six in a carpark entrance for a shopping complex, and on our visit half of the supercharger bays were taken up by non electric cars. The drives gave us a chance to properly evaluate, in a real world, family usage situation, and although the range expectations were one thing, proper usage delivers another.

Cargo was two adults, two children, a small dog, and a few overnight bags. Then there is the weight of the car and the topography to consider. Autopilot and cruise control were engaged and a small point on the autopilot. The lever needs to be pulled toward the driver twice to engage, and the cameras strategically embedded around the car will then “read” the roadsides in order to keep the Model X as centred as possible. The autopilot function itself was in “Beta” testing mode and again accessed via the touchscreen.The biggest appeal of the the Model X, and Model S, for that matter, is the sheer driveability of the chassis and drivetrain. Electric motors deliver torque constantly, as per this and acceleration across any driving condition is stupendous. The “P” designation adds in “Ludicrous” mode, which amps up the “get up and go” even further. Engage the drive, and it’s a double pull to bring the car out of hibernation mode, and plant the foot. That mountain you could see on the horizon is suddenly there before you.

The braking system can be set for two energy harvest levels and on the ten kilometres worth of downhill running at Brown Mountain, some forty kilometres west of Bega, added an effective twenty kilometres of range. It’s the uphill runs that pull the range expectations downwards, and severely at that. The ever-growing network of destination chargers alleviate range anxiety and a visit to the beautiful coastal town of Merimbula found a destination charger at a bayside motel. The navigation system can provide locations of chargers and when a destination charger shows, a tap of the screen advises the usage, as in in this case, passing through holiday makers. A big thanks to the good people at the Albacore Apartments, by the way. There are two Tesla destination chargers and these add range at 75 to 80 kilometres per hour.

The return trip was via Cooma without stopping and heading to Canberra’s Madura Parkway charge stop. Handily located next to a major fast food store and a number of other shops, an hour’s break saw the Model X arrive back at its Blue Mountains lair with perhaps 70km worth of range left.

Actual ride quality is on the high side of decent considering the size of the wheels and low profile rubber. Ride height can be ajusted via the touchscreen but a high ride setting lowers the car back to its standard height once a preset speed is reached. The Model X is stiff but not bone-shakingly so, taut, but not uncomfortably so. It’s flat, exhibits minimal body roll, and is surprisingly compliant on unsettled and rough surfaces. And although the steering lacks “humanity” it also points the Model X exactly where the wheel tells it to. Naturally, brake feel is spot on too.

The Safety Systems Are:
A solid list of 360 degree cameras, parking sensors that measure in millimetres and show on the driver’s screen, distance sensing radar cruise control, AEB, overhead and knee airbags, plus the usual electronic driver aids. The cruise control can be set to one to seven seconds of distance between the Model X and the car ahead. It’s worth noting that the braking can be on the hard side so driver involvement is still required to watch the road ahead. The same goes with the autonomous steering. Hands on the tiller are recommended at all times.

And The Warranty Is:
Four years for the body and structure. The drive systems and battery get eight years. Extra information is here.

At The End Of The Drive.
The timing of the drive came just after the leader of the Australian Opposition party put forward a proposition that by 2030 fifty percent of cars to be made available for sale be electric. Naturally this sparked the conversation about costs, range, and the time taken to recharge versus refueling a petrol or diesel car.

There’s an undeniable time factor in regards to recharging. But there is a welcome upside. The Goulburn stop provided an opportunity to visit a street mall, the Cooma break a visit to a park with historic significance. The Merimbula stop provided a chance to sample the local lifestyle and the Canberra stop a welcome half way point, lunch, and a leg stretch. The Model X itself is not a tiring car to drive meaning driver fatigue is minimised.

Therein, as the saying goes, lies the rub. The return trip from Bega took as much time as a normal petrol/diesel powered trip, even allowing for the hour or so to recharge. The upside was the break allowing a safe, straight through, return drive and the lack of fatigue from driving a comfortable vehicle. The downside was the evidence that range expectations versus the real world have some way to go before the two meet with a lesser margin in between.

And yes, the cost is significant, especially with the extra Australian government charges involved. However there are plenty of cars that start at the same price and offer an extensive option list. And there is the fluctuating cost of fuel. Depending on location it is theoretically possible to not pay a cent in recharge costs with an electric car.

Tesla will be releasing a lower cost version, effectively, of the Model S, and a new, smaller, SUV called the Model Y is in development. With battery technology improving and the uptake of solar power and batteries for home usage also on the upswing, plus the promise of further electric cars as standard from makers, they all mean that for the Australian market our driving future is in for an undeniable change.

Model X information and more on the other cars from Tesla can be found here.

Tesla Unveils Model Y SUV.

 

Tesla has released details of their Model 3 based electric SUV. Dubbed the Model Y, it slots into the mid-sizer SUV space and will be priced from USD$39,000. That price is applied to the Standard Range version. It will also come in Long Range, Dual-Motor All-Wheel Drive, and Performance variants.Tesla say the Model Y will be able to reach 62mph/100km/h in 3.5 seconds, and should see a top speed of 150mph/240km/h. Range expectations are 230 to 300 miles for the Standard and Long Range versions.

The Model Y will be available for sale in the U.S., according to current expectations, in the autumn of 2020 in the northern hemisphere for the Model Y Performance, Long Range Rear-Wheel Drive, and Dual-Motor All-Wheel Drive variants, with Standard Range vehicles due in 2021.

Model Y will feature a panoramic glass roof to provide an extra sense of space inside the mid-sizer for the seven passengers. A single 15 inch touchscreen will provide driver and passenger information and comfort. There is an application for smart devices that can be installed also, allowing a driver to enable pre-airconditioning, remote unlock, and a Summon mode. Notable, however, will be the Model Y using the normal door method with vertically aligned hinges, and not using the costlier Model X gull-wing system.Naturally the Model Y will be compatible with the extensive charger network and will be able to take advantage of the forthcoming V3 charging rate system, which will provide a rate of up to 1,000 miles worth of charging in an hour.

Expected release dates for the Australian market are yet to be confirmed.