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Technical

The European EV Compass

The best of European engineering and technology has always been considered to be some of the finest the world has to offer (particularly German, Swedish and British engineering).  However, with the advancement in microelectronics and electrical know-how that is coming from the Asian parts of the world, there is little time to be had before German, Swedish, Dutch and British (to name a few) technology giants, and automotive and engineering giants, could get swallowed up and placed in the history books.

It might be that to counter the advancement (or even to just keep pace with) of big Chinese, USA, Korean and Japanese automotive, electronics and digital giants, that it’ll likely take a collective pan-European approach in tech-innovation and mobility transformational advancements.  The movement is happening in Europe but is it fast enough?

Rather than each country try and do it alone, a pan-European alliance for the electric mobilization of Europe along with the coordination and alignment of national policies would be far more capable of countering the competition from the USA and China.  Being able to pool assets, funding, supply chain networks, research and development, battery production, electronic charging point networks, power storage technology, recharging technology and Pan Eurpean policy initiatives that promote market entry for electric vehicles (EVs) will go a long way to keep Europe at the forefront of transport design and innovation.

With the spotlight heavily focusing on environmentally-friendly transport, EVs and driverless cars, and their growing numbers filling the roads up in Asia and in Europe, the rest of the world will also need to catch up with the technology, or change to other manufacturing designs instead.  Now and into the future we are seeing how global status, energy and transport are directly linked to each other.  Renewable electricity generation and storage at the national level is an assignment across Europe that is a huge task on any given day, but its roll-out also needs to quicken its pace.  Politics will play an important role for European countries to pull together to use renewable energy, energy networks and EV and Fuel Cell vehicle technologies.

Demanding logistical changes like this also calls for an adoption of a new social perspective on this new way of doing transport, even new way of life, whether that be in purchasing a new energy efficient car or pooling together to get from A to B or using environmentally friendly public transport.  Not everyone can cycle to work!  The automotive landscape in Europe is changing, just as it is globally.  Government policy will play a leading role in moderating and coordinating the transformation of the automotive industry into new ways of doing transport for the people.

At European local government levels, there also requires the push to implement the urban-transport transformation towards emission-free and fossil-fuel-less transport systems.  Urban and development planning needs to promote the electric charging infrastructure, as well as providing big financial benefits and incentives for the public to change from fossil-dependent transport to the use of EVs.  Global carbon emission goals are driving the need to steer away from fossil fuels.

In the future, there would seem to be few chances to succeed as a nation if smaller countries choose to go it alone.  Then again, maybe that’s what Australia, NZ, UK and Japan might do best; they could be attractive in their own right if they did emission-free transport their own unique way, unconnected with the rest of the world’s EV and driverless vehicle systems.

A Class-C Update From Mercedes.

Mercedes-Benz have updated their evergreen C-Class saloon and Estate with what Gordon Wagener, the chief design officer of the Daimler group said reflected the desire to apply “sensual purity”. It’s due for release in the northern hemisphere’s summer season.

Mercedes-Benz C-Klasse, 2021 // Mercedes-Benz C-Class, 2021

The new C-Class will feature both forms of hybrid tech, being petrol and PHEV, and will run 48V technology. The battery alone will power the C-Class for up to 100 kilometres, the company says. The petrol engines will be four cylinders from what M-B call FAME (Family of Modular Engines). Along with turbocharging both the petrol and diesel engines the C-Class will have, M-B add in an ISG or integrated starter-generator. This provides low speed assistance using a 48 volt on-board electrical system that ensures functions such as gliding, boosting or energy recovery. Fast re-engagement has seamless switching from off to on when at lights or a stop sign.

Two engines with petrol will be available, one of 1.5L, the other of 2.0L. 125kW/250Nm for the C180, 150kW/300Nm for the C200 and C200 4MATIC from the 1.5L, with 190kW/400Nm for the C300 and C300 3MATIC versions. A pair of 2.0L diesels factor in, with 147kW/440Nm and 195kW/550Nm. Top speeds are limited at the upper end of the range to 250kph.

The plug-in hybrid C-Class will operate in all-electric mode in many cases thanks to an electric output of 95 kW (129 hp) and an all-electric range of around 100 kilometres. For many areas in Europe this could mean little to no ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) usage. The battery is an in-house design and built in a “pouch configuration” with 96 cells, with a total capacity of 25.4kWh. There is an internal cooling system fitted, managing heat discharge in any driving environment. The high density structure allows a charge rate of 30 minutes to full from empty using a 55kW charger. An 11kW charger is standard.

Mercedes-Benz C-Klasse, 2021 // Mercedes-Benz C-Class, 2021

Energy recovery rates can be driver controlled via rocker switches in the console across all driving modes except for Sport. Lifting the foot from the accelerator has the regenerative system act like brakes, slowing the C-Class whilst simultaneously feeding back energy to the battery. Mercedes-Benz have engineered in two additional driving modes which will enable the driver to take advantage of what the powertrain offers: BATTERY HOLD: Maintaining the charge state of the high-voltage battery is given priority, e.g. when intending to drive in a city centre or green zone later on; selection of the most suitable drive configuration by the hybrid powertrain system, depending on the driving situation and route, and ELECTRIC: Electric driving up to 140 km/h, adjustable energy recovery rate in overrun mode, adaptation of Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC for electric driving, activation of the combustion engine using a pressure point of the accelerator pedal (kick-down).

Extra tech sees optional rear-axle steering with 2.5 degrees of angle reducing a turning circle to 10.5 metres. These have the rear wheels in an opposite direction in steering at speeds up to 60kph, then align with the direct front steering above 60kph. The rear steering also effectively reduces the steering ratio to 2.1 turns lock to lock, down from 2.35.

Notable changes to both the saloon and wagon have seen increase to the overall dimensions. The previous model saloon jumps from 4,686mm to 4,751mm in length, the Estate from 4,702mm to 4,751mm. Width is up by 10mm and 20mm respectively to 1,820mm each. Both share an increased wheelbase of 2,865mm, up from 2,840mm each. Luggage capacity for the Estate ranges from 490L to 1,510L, with a slightly lower load lip, and the rears eats have a 40/20/40 split for extra versatility. A powered tailgate is standard across the range.

Australian delivery dates are yet to be confirmed.

Mercedes-Benz C-Klasse, 2021 // Mercedes-Benz C-Class, 2021

Isn’t It IONIQ…BEV And E-GMP Hyundai IONIQ5 On The Way

Hyundai have given to the world two more new automotive acronyms. BEV (battery electric vehicles) and E-GMP (Electric-Global Modular Platform) are attached to the new IONIQ5. Classed as a mid-sized SUV, it’s due in Australia sometime in Q3 (July to September) 2021.

The IONIQ 5 will have two battery pack options, either 58 kWh or 72.6 kWh, and two electric motor layouts, either with a rear motor only or with both front and rear motors. All PE variations provide outstanding range and deliver a top speed of 185 km/h.

The E-GMP platform sees Hyundai exploring design and engineering boundaries, with the base platform here providing a wheelbase of 3,000mm (100mm more than Palisade) inside an overall length of 4,635mm. The battery pack is expected to provide a driving range of up to 470km. A pair of motors will propel the IONIQ5 to 100kph in just over five seconds thanks to 225kW and 605Nm in all wheel drive mode when using the Long Range Battery. Go to the standard battery and there’s an expected 0-100 time of 6.1 seconds.

A key feature of the BEV is the ultra-fast charging, with 10% to 80% in 18 minutes of charge, and the platform will support 400V and 800V infrastructure. This also enables a range of 100km in five minutes worth of charging. A feature growing in stature, the ability to output charge, is also aboard. IONIQ 5 also provides an innovative V2L function, which allows customers to freely use or charge any electric devices, such as electric bicycles, scooters or camping equipment, serving as a charger on wheels with up to 3.6kW of power using what Hyundai called the V2L (Vehicle To Load) function. The port to connect and output will be placed under the second row seats. An external port is also fitted and can charge other devices whilst the IONIQ5 is powered down.

Thomas Schemera, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer, said: “IONIQ 5 will accommodate lifestyles without limits, proactively caring for customers’ needs throughout their journey. It is truly the first electric vehicle to provide a new experience with its innovative use of interior space and advanced technologies.”

Hyundai says the IONIQ5’s exterior heralds a new chapter in their design, with the vehicle equipped with Hyundai’s first clamshell hood which minimises panel gaps for optimal aerodynamics. The front bumper is defined by an eye-catching V-shape incorporating distinctive DRLs that provide an unmistakable light signature which is a bespoke IONIQ5 look. These small pixel-like clusters also appear at the rear of the vehicle. Colour choices will have nine for the exterior, three inside. Obsidian Black and Dark Pebble Gray/Dove Gray, while the optional colour pack offers Dark Teal/Dove Gray.

There are auto-retracting door handles that will provide a styling for a clean surface look, which also will increase aerodynamic efficiency. A distinctive C-pillar, derived and inspired from a previous EV concept, identifies the IONIQ5 from a distance.

Hyundai has a design brief they’ve termed Parametric Pixel and this is seen in the 20 inch diameter aero wheels. SangYup Lee, Senior Vice President and Head of Hyundai Global Design Centre, says: “A new mobility experience for the next generation – this was the mission from the first day we began this project, to look ahead towards the horizon, but stay fundamentally Hyundai,” said . “IONIQ 5 is the new definition of timeless, providing a common thread linking our past to the present and future.”

The interior has a “Living Space” theme which shows a movable centre console, the Universal island, with a travel of 140mm. Batteries are located in the floor, making for a flat surface and aiding interior space. The powered front seats have been reduced in thickness for better rear seat space. It’s a “green”car, with eco-friendly, sustainably sourced materials, such as recycled PET bottles, plant-based (bio PET) yarns and natural wool yarns, eco-processed leather with plant-based extracts, and bio paint with plant extracts used in areas such as the seats, door trim, headlining, and floor.

Interior design sees 531L of cargo space at the rear, with nearly 1,600L on offer with the second row seats folded. A front cargo area, or as it’s known, a “frunk” (front trunk).

With Remote Charging, IONIQ 5 drivers can start and stop charging with the push of a button on their smartphone app. During colder months, Remote Climate Control allows users to schedule pre-heating of IONIQ 5 while it is connected to an external power source. Not only does this ensure comfort for occupants during the drive, but it also saves battery power that would otherwise be needed to heat the vehicle on the road.

IONIQ 5’s Dynamic Voice Recognition system accepts simple voice commands to conveniently control cabin A/C, radio, hatch opening/closing, heated steering wheel, heated/cooled seats and other functions. The system can also assist with various points of interest (POI), weather status and stock market data updates.

IONIQ 5 also features a premium Bose sound system. Its eight speakers, including a subwoofer, are strategically placed throughout the vehicle for a high-quality listening experience.

IONIQ 5 will be available in selected regions starting in the first half of 2021, with Australia set to launch in Q3 2021.

China’s Automotive Targets

Autonomous Bus Train

Looking at the current landscape of automotive skill, technology and manufacture, China places itself solidly at the forefront.  China is a prominent global automotive game changer.  The huge growth in vehicle traffic across China has been driven primarily by the country’s economic development.  The growth has been immensely rapid (particularly since 2000), where the rate of motorisation of this huge country has been nothing short of phenomenal.

The Chinese government has led a massive revolution towards the urbanizing of its people.  Research has shown that about 300 million people are expected to move to the cities over the next few years, where all of the existing – as well as new – cities will grow considerably with the influx of new inhabitants coming in from around the countryside.  This massive development plan is scheduled to run through until 2025 and is based on clear goals and the development of good electric mobilization.  Being able to integrate electric vehicles into digitised infrastructures and services will soon become a complete Chinese realization.

Currently, in China electric vehicles (EVs) are not subject to any major restrictions; if there are restrictions they are only minor.  Compared with the growing costs and restrictions enforced upon combustion engine vehicles, getting yourself into an EV brings massive benefits for Chinese owners of new EVs, and the financial incentives for having an EV are strong.  As early as 2013, a change of policy that favoured electric mobilization throughout China’s major cities and infrastructure was initiated.  The expanding EV charging infrastructure is continuing to grow rapidly, though it has some way to go before being consistently functional over wider areas.

Big digital companies like Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are providing the drive and expertise behind the autonomous transport network across China’s major cities.  Many big brand car manufacturers from around the world have already linked with huge Chinese automotive companies seeking to use China as a platform and marriage for producing their cars at lower cost, and it would seem logical that, after entering the Western market via European brands, the first imports of premium Chinese vehicles (hybrid, EV and Fuel Cell) from China to other countries around the world can be expected over the next few years.  The commercial EV sector and EV buses will likely arrive even sooner.

The Arab, Latin American and African markets are ripe for gaining access by the Chinese automotive manufacturers.  Also the Silk Road Project can be perceived as a means for opening up the Asian market to the big Chinese brands of EVs and Fuel Cell vehicles.

China is on target for completely phasing out combustion technology much earlier than was first expected.  At the end of 2017, Chinese car manufacturer BAIC announced plans to stop production of non-electric and hybrid cars by the end of 2025.

We see the Chinese brands like Great Wall, Haval, MG and LDV growing here in Australia, and it seems that this Chinese automotive development will continue rapidly into countries who want to take non fossil fuel transport to new levels.  China will play a key, dynamically strong role in the future of clean automotive transport.  I wonder how soon we’ll see more autonomous and EV transport being rolled out in Australia?

Japan’s Automotive Brilliance

Tokyo, Japan

You can’t go anywhere around Australia without noticing just how many Japanese made vehicles are motoring around our roads (and off them).  Since the 1960s, Japan has been among the top 3 automotive manufacturers in the world.  The country is home to a number of motor companies, and you’ll be familiar with them: Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Subaru, Isuzu.  There are, of course, more than these mainstream manufacturers.  Japan has around 78 car-manufacturing factories in 22 regions, and these employ over 5.5 million people (more than the entire population of New Zealand).

The strong competition that is happening on a global scale in the automotive industry has forced the manufacturers to come up with a new model design every four to five years.  Along with the new models, new innovative designs and new technologies are presented and used by the automakers in their new vehicles.  Automotive manufacturing is the prominent manufacturing type in Japan, which takes up 89% of the country’s manufacturing sector.  A large amount of time and money are invested into developing and improving the automotive manufacturing process, which, in turn, increases the quality and efficiency of their manufactured automotive products.

Some of the brilliant new developments from Japan automobile manufacturers have led to distinct and innovative new designs for current and future automobiles.  In order to control the market dependency on fuels, and in order to design vehicles that are more fuel-efficient, Japanese automakers have invested and built hybrid vehicles and fuel-cell vehicles.

The ideology and popularity of environmentally friendly vehicles is creating a wave of global interest and demand for these sorts of vehicles.  More and more automakers around the globe are focusing on creating the types of vehicles that are friendlier on the environment to their production line.  Japan’s automotive manufacturers are leaders in this field.  Japanese innovations in these technology sectors include autonomous taxi services and airport transportation, high-definition maps and open-source software modules for autonomous vehicles, advanced hydrogen fuel cell and alternating-current battery technology, and silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductor films for EV power electronics.  Japanese companies have been developing hydrogen fuel cell technology, which is projected to reach a market size of approximately $43 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 66.9% from 2019 to 2026.  Japan’s prowess in creating autonomous vehicles and their resulting cutting edge safety features puts them well ahead of the game.

An electric vehicle is an automobile that produces power from electrical energy stored in batteries instead of from the burning of fossil fuels.  Top automakers such as Toyota, Honda, and Nissan are already class leaders.

Hybrid vehicles use two or more distinct power sources to move the car.  Typically, electric motors combine with traditional internal combustion engines to produce power. Hybrid vehicles are highly fuel efficient.  Again, Japan’s Toyota motor company is one of the automotive industry leaders in hybrid vehicle research and production – with the Toyota  Prius model leading the way.  Hybrid variants are available on many of Toyota’s collection of new vehicles.

A Fuel Cell Vehicle is equipped with a “Fuel Cell” in which electricity is generated through the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen.  This chemical reaction provides the source of power to the motor.  Fuel cell systems operate by compressing hydrogen made from natural gas and gasoline, which is then converted to hydrogen by on-board systems.  Toyota’s latest fuel cell vehicle, the Mirai II, is sold in Japan.  The Mirai II uses a Hydrogen Electrochemical fuel cell that creates 130 kW.  The electric motor that is powered by the fuel cell produces 136 kW and 300 Nm.  It’s very stylish, too.

Toyota Mirai II

2021 Toyota Prius i-Tech: Private Fleet Car Review.

As Toyota did with the RAV4, by creating the SUV market, it also kickstarted the hybrid revolution with the Prius. Maligned for its looks then and now, it still remains on Toyota’s sales lists as a reminder of its part in history. Reduced to a two trim level, one model range, Prius and i-Tech. it had us wondering why Toyota continues with it considering: Yaris, Corolla, Camry, RAV4, and various Lexus options.The i-Tech is a whisker under $50K, with Toyota listing it as $49,966 drive-away with plain white paint. Go to the premium such as the metallic blue on the review car and that’s now $50,491. That’s a whopping $7,741 (white) more than the standard Prius and well over Corolla hybrid pricing, with Ascent Sport, the entry level, coming in at just under $31K, or the top of the range ZR, at around $38,500.Power is provided courtesy of a 1.8L Atkinson Cycle petrol engine with 72kW and 142Nm. Peak combined power is 90kW for the 1,400kg i-Tech. Fuel tank capacity is 43L, with economy rated at 3.4L/100km on a combined cycle, and one we matched. Drive is to the front wheels via a CVT, with drive itself selected by a simple to use flick lever in the centre of the dashboard.

Ignition is via push-button on and a set of screens that are centrally located on the upper dash welcome the passengers when the doors are opened. The screens include a daily usage and drive distance, and can be configured, with a little bit of research on how to, to display the costs per travel distance. The right had screen becomes the speedo, fuel gauge, trip meter and displays the economy figure also.

Audio is from JBL and there’s some great quality to be found here. Access is via a 7.0 inch touchscreen and it’s slightly different in look than that found in the rest of the Toyota family.Seats are leather, and heated. They’re comfortable is lacking some thigh support. Head, leg, and shoulder room are better than adequate for the driver and front passenger, with rear leg room a little squeezy. The actual colour scheme is dull, with a black on black scheme for the trim below the window line. The Prius i-tech gets a HUD or Head Up Display. It’s as intuitive as it comes to use and an item slowly becoming more common. Another item that is increasing in presence is a wireless charge pad.The body style is coupe’ like, and the rear hatch opens to a decent sized cargo area of 1,415L with the rear seats lowered. The load lip is low enough that access is easy enough for most people and the cargo area is broad enough for most families to deposit a week’s worth of groceries without issue. Safety is high with AEB, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Sport Alert, and Forward Collision Warning with Pedestrian and Daylight Cyclists warning. Seven airbags also contribute to occupant safety. Servicing costs are found online.Outside there are fleeting moments of family recognition, particularly at the front, where the sharpish angles evoke the Corolla’s edgy styling. With just the one body now, as gone are the wagon and sedan, the five door hatch both harkens to the original, whilst bringing its own sort of sharp lined modernity, with definitive creaselines from front to rear.

The i-Tech has its own set of alloys, with aero-blade styling. Rubber is from Bridgestone’s Turanza range at 215/45/17 and they’re ample in grip.Where the Prius shines is in its around town performance. It is effortless, it is stress-free, and can be driven harder than one would anticipate.

Being a hybrid it can gently waft around, with a seamless, almost, transition, between battery and petrol. It’s been noted elsewhere that the drivetrain here has a subtle but noticeable clunk as the changes between power source happen, and we can confirm there is a minor jolt as the petrol engine kicks in or out. There are Power, Normal, and Eco drive modes, and for the most part, Normal is all that is required. power may be suitable for some country and uphill driving, and Eco great for flat track highways.Ride quality surprised as its got a sporting tune. This had us testing cornering speeds and roll. The Prius i-Tech is quite capable of getting antsy and will do so without qualms at a level highly unlikely to be seen by its target audience.

This brings us full circle to our starting point: who is the audience Toyota is looking for with the Prius?

At The End Of The Drive.

Toyota’s other hybrid offerings looking like “normal” cars; the Camry hybrid looks like a Camry, the Corolla hybrid looks like a Corolla, the Yaris and RAV4 hybrids look no different to their purely petrol fed siblings.

The Prius, though, is recognised as a Prius, the original eco-warrior, and that’s the only reason we can think of that it’s still offered by the Japanese car making giant. It delivers excellent fuel economy but isn’t that the point?

Tesla Reinvents Their Wheel For 2021.

Tesla has revealed updates to their Model S. The big sedan has been given tweaks to the exterior, the drive, train, and the interior. Also, gone is the Performance model and replaced by the Model S Plaid and Model S Plaid+.

Front and centre, well…left on American spec cars, is a major change to the wheel. It’s no longer round or even vaguely ovoid. It’s a yoke, not unlike those found in fighter jets. A broad “U” shape, a pair of spokes join the verticals at hub height and allow a broader view of the digital screen. It’s sure to cause controversy and pub discussion, but that’s not the only change. The large centre console screen has been tipped 90 degrees to a landscape orientation and is set into the dash rather than standing proud. Tesla say it’s more a gamin screen than anything with ten teraflops of processing power.

There’s more carbon fibre or wood trim covering parts of the dashboard and door panels, and the door cards have been redesigned and appear to feature much-needed additional storage space. The stylish new centre console also has more storage space and comes complete with wireless charging for multiple devices. The rear seats look more sculpted and feature a new fold-down armrest with cupholders.

Rear-seat passengers get an 8-inch screen that offers the same infotainment and gaming functions as the main screen, and it even works with wireless gaming controllers. The Model S has three-zone climate control, a 22-speaker audio system, heated seats all around (and ventilated front seats), ambient lighting and a glass roof as standard. White, black and beige remain the only interior color options.

The exterior has been gently massaged. There the same coke bottle flanks, slightly reprofiled slimline front and rear lights, and coupe style profile. The front bumper has been reprofiled, losing the blunt end from top to bottom, and now adds a gentle curve to split the look horizontally, including a cooling airvent, as it wraps around to each wheel arch and extends a bottom lip ever so slightly. The rear valance has also been changed and looks more like a pair of exhausts tips hiding on each side.

Underneath are now three motors. The new Plaid and Plaid+ will offer a scintillating 1.99 seconds (Plaid) to see the 100kph mark, cross the 400 metres in just over nine seconds, and 200mph/320kph in the top speed matter. Current pricing, says Tesla, is US$121,190 Model S Plaid and US$141,190 Model S Plaid+. Expected range is now 520 miles or 837 kilometres.

The Model X will come with only one three motor variant, and should see the tonne in 2.5 seconds. Top speed for the SUV is around 163mph/262kph and a range of around 340 miles or 547 kilometres. Pricing starts from US$121,190, the same price as the Model S Plaid and US$40,000 more than the Long range bi-motor Model S.

2021 Toyota Yaris ZR Hybrid: Private Fleet Car Review.

Toyota is arguably the world’s leader when it comes to lobbing a hybridised drive-train into cars, and their small car, Yaris, has finally been given the treatment as seen in Camry, Corolla, and luxo-brand Lexus.The Yaris comes in three flavours, being Ascent Sport, SX, and ZR, and in non-hybrid form starts at around $25,500 drive-away. That’s for the Ascent Sport in manual and plain white paint…. Go partly electric and there’s a need to head to the SX. There’s a price difference of $2,100 between the standard and hybrid, with the battery version seeing $32,545 on the sticker. ZR starts from $33,655 for the petrol, and the hybrid $35,715 in white. Our review car came with a red-orange colour known as Coral which takes it to $36,230. It’s worth noting that Toyota hiked the Yaris prices substantially in 2020, with the Ascent Sport copping an increase of $9,500…The engine is a three cylinder petrol jobbie, but unusual in that its a big’un. It’s a 1.5L unit, larger than the more common 1.0L to 1.2L powerplants found elsewhere. On its own it would be a more than respectable engine for Toyota’s smallest automobile. Fuel tank size is 36L, down from 40L, and 91RON is just fine. Economy is quoted as 3.3L/100km (combined cycle) for the Hybrid compared to 4.9L/100km from the standard 1.5L. Our 70/30 cycle saw 5.2L/100km from the 1,130kg (dry) ZR Yaris. Cargo is 270L minimum.As such, partnered with a battery system, the whole shebang delivers a total of 85 kW and 141 Nm to the front wheels via a CVT auto. The standard engine brings 88kW and 145Nm. Drive in the ZR is selected via a simple and straightforward in-line lever, complete with a B for Braking at the end of the selection line. This allows a driver to harness more of the kinetic energy that braking lets loose and channels it to the battery.ZR is ignited via a push-button, and there’s that eerie silence that hybrids and electric cars have, before a gentle accelerator push has the Yaris ZR Hybrid waft away quietly before the petrol engine kicks in. Toyota has configured this to play its part from either around 25kph on a gentle getaway, or, like all hybrids, straight away if the sensors read a heavy right foot. The 1.5L is noticeable but not intrusively so, and those that have drive three cylinder engined cars will appreciate that familiar off-kilter thrum upfront.There’s good initial speed, and the Yaris ZR Hybrid delights in both urban and freeway driving. Its quick, too, in rolling acceleration, with a definitive and solid urge to hustle as an when required. It hangs on nicely, with a finely tuned suspension dialling out all but the worst of the more common irregularities found in roads. A benign handling set-up sees minor understeer at suburban velocities, with long sweeping turns easily controlled by steering input or gentle braking.It’s well specified inside, with a HUD or Head Up Display taking pride of place. Toyota’s familiar and wonderfully user friendly touchscreen with voice recognition, Mobile Assistant, Siri Eyes Free, Miracast and myToyota mans the upper centre of the dash, and a mix of grey shades add a touch of funkiness to the seats. However, it’s still a kind of budget car in a way, as the driver’s seat is fully manual in adjustment, and the cloth trim means no heating or venting. They are, however, bolstered for extra support.The driver’s dash display is a little unusual in look, with the centre recessed in and having only an info screen. The power/charge screen and speed are housed in two separate dials on the binnacle and well forward of the info screen. They’re digital in layout and look, and have a stylised font that’s eyecatching. They need to be as otherwise the dash is remarkably bland and dull. A single thin strand of red breaks up the solid black plastics, and that’s it. The airvent surrounds are a piano black, and contrast with the varying sages of grey on the seats and linings of the roof and doors.Outside it’s a different story, with that Coral colour highlighting the Yaris’ pear shape from roofline to wheelarches as seen from front or rear. The tail tucks in around the prominent lights, with a subtle pair of lines that joins them and the rear door handles. LED headlights show the way at night.

Simple black and machined alloys underpin the Yaris ZR Hybrid, with the 18 inch wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Ecopia rubber at 185/55.No skimping on safety across the range either. Lane Trace Assist, Road Sign Assist, Lane Departure Alert, eight airbags, and Intersection Turn Assistance are across the board. Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are ZR bespoke. Servicing and warranty details are online.

At The End Of The Drive.

It’s a good drive but the price is an eyebrow raiser. Equipment levels are high to make up for it though, including the Head Up Display and eight airbags. Yaris is also heading Toyota’s push to bring sportiness back to the brand with the Gazoo Racing, GR, powerhouse versions. But, for the money, Kia, Hyundai, Mazda, Ford, VW, offer bigger vehicles and at not a whole lot worse economy.

Check out the 2021 Yaris here.

 

2021 Genesis GV80 3.0L: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A new entrant, one of three in its family, to the “luxo” SUV marketplace. Genesis has had the G80 and G70 sedans for sometime, and in late mid-2020 released the GV80, with the GV70 unveiled in November.

The GV80 has three engine choices, a single transmission, and varying electronics & trim aligned with the engines. There is a 2.5L four with front or all wheel drive, a 3.0L straight six with diesel fuel and AWD, or a petrol fed 3.5L V6 also with an AWD system.

What Does It Cost?: The range starts at $90,600 plus on-roads, with the 3.0L starting from $103,600 (plus ORC) and tops out at $108,600 (plus ORC). Genesis have gone to a fixed price, non-negotiable system, and that may deter some. However, when buying a house, the price generally tends upwards, not downwards…

The Luxury Pack that was featured in our review vehicle is $10,000. It’s an extensive list of features that are included and really add extra value overall. For the driver there is a device that scans the face and provides a Forward Attention Warning service. A self parking and parking assistance package is part of it, with forward and reverse parallel and perpendicular parking assistance.

RANC or Road Active Noise Cancellation makes the cabin an incredibly quiet place to be. That can be enjoyed for the 18 way powered driver’s seat that includes Pelvic Stretching and bolsters that close in on the sides of the driver in Sports mode or heavy acceleration. It’s a seven seater and the third row seats are powered, moving at the touch of a button, including a recline feature.

The doors are soft close and the tail gate door is powered, as expected. The driver has a super clear high definition 112.3 inch display including a three dimensional effect look that has to be seen in the flesh to reveal. Multi-zone climate control with rear seat controls is standard in the Luxury package too. The centre row has heating in the outboard sections.

All seats have ultra-soft Nappa leather with “G-Matrix” diamond quilting sewn in.

Under The Bonnet Is: A return of history, in one context. German manufacturers have stayed with the tried and true straight six for a reason, and Genesis clearly thought that the addition of one to the range was worthwhile. And it is.

Being an oiler, it’s not about the peak power (204kW), but the peak torque and where that comes in for the engine’s rev range. In this case there are a hefty 588Nm of torque, available from an easy going 1,500rpm through to 3,000rpm, not far off the roll-off to the peak power’s 3,800rpm.Economy for the big GV80 (2,267kg before passengers and fuel) improved during our drive. It started close to 10.0L/100km and finished dead on 8.0L/100km on our 70/30 drive cycle. Genesis quotes a hefty 12.0L/100km on the urban, 7.0L/100km for the highway, with 8.8L/100km for the combined.

On The Outside It’s: Familiar yet different. There are hints of other brands, noticeably from Germany, however it’s also distinctively its own vehicle. It’s shorter than it appears, with the styling making it longer than 4,945mm. Height is imposing at 1,715mm, with overall width of 1,975mm seeming a big handling ask. But no.

The vehicle supplied came with the Luxury Pack which includes a largely gloss-free white paint. This beautifully highlights the chromed Genesis “Crest” shield grille, the double row LED headlights and tail lights, plus the chromed side strips and piano black inserts in the front and rear bumpers. The rear door is powered and accessed via, smartly, a small press-tab in the wiper motor housing.

Along each flank rests two creaselines, one from front to rear from the bonnet line, the other covering the front and rear wheel arches separated by the doors. There are two vents mirroring the front and rear lights at the rear of the front guards. The rear windowline is distinctive, with a triangle finish to the D-pillar.Wheels are 22 inch alloys with a multispoke design. Grip is courtesy of 265/40 Michelin tyres.

On The Inside It’s: A place to stretch the legs and shoulders in utter comfort. Beige leather in the test car with diamond padding, electrically adjustable for all three rows, and beige suede style material on the roof are absolutely sumptuous. There are two separate sunroofs to bring in light from above.

The rear and centre row seats have individual electric controls. These raise and lower on command, and include the headrest folding on the rear row. The centre row can be moved fore and aft, and can move to a position to allow ingress and egress for the rear seaters. They are a little on the slow side for our taste, however there is a safety factor to consider for that speed.Cargo space with the third row seats down is huge at 727L. This increases to 2,144L with the second row folded.

The driver has a classy looking two-spoke two-tone leather bound steering wheel, also with electric adjustment, along with a two position seat memory setting.

For the driver there is a dash that is fully digital plus it has an extra cool feature. Aligned with a sensor strip that monitors the driver’s eyeline, the display has a 3D effect. It’s quite an unusual sight, seeing a flat screen suddenly blur for a flicker of a moment before providing a true 3D depth. For those that have an issue with it, it can be switched off. The driver also has a HUD display. A user friendly feature here is either the left or right dial change to the outside view when the indicator stalk is employed. the screen has a high pixel count so it works perfectly with the quality of the lenses used.In the middle of the upper section of the black and beige trimmed dash is a wider than widescreen touchscreen. Touchscreen, in this case, is a bit loose, as it’s set too far back in the dash and blocks off the centre-dash speaker. By the way, as good as the Lexicon sound system is, not having A-pillar mounted tweeters drags down the soundstage, as high frequency signals are directional in nature, and the door mounted units fire straight into the legs of the driver and passenger.In the centre console is a crystal look rotary drive selector dial, and a larger silver ringed white opaque circle. The silver ring is the default interface for much of what the touchscreen would do, and embedded in the menu options is a tutorial on how to use the opaque circle for items such as entering in an address for navigation. It works, but not excessively well. At the bottom left is the tarmac or terrain drive selector. With a push it switches between tarmac or soft-roading (Mud, Snow, Sand), and a twist changes the desired drive mode, with a commensurate change of the look of the digital driver’s screen.To the left is a cupholder insert, with a hinged door that folds to the right. Easy for the passenger, not so for the driver. However, a nice touch is the woodgrain trim here, and the sliding door at the far end of the console that reveals a wireless charge pad. It’s inclined to around 50 degrees, and aligned horizontally too, making for easier placing and removal. The whole centre console is a floating design though, and largely unusable as the squabs come up to almost the lower section of the top of the console.In between this and the touchscreen is a haptic feedback screen to operate the climate control. Again, it’s good but just a little fiddly for the section for fan speed, requiring a little more precision than necessary to adjust the horizontally aligned stripe. It’s backlit and only visible when the ignition is on.

On The Road It’s: Quicker than the seat of the pants will suggest. The linear torque delivery and free revving 3.0L six will launch the big GV80 at a velocity that feels rapid but not indecently so until you eyeball the numbers. The superb noise isolation mutes a lot of the aural feedback the brain would normally use as a guideline here, so when the numbers are changing at a rate the brain says otherwise to, it comes as a bit of a shock, and a relief to know that it’s working better than expected. We mentioned how quiet the cabin is earlier. Acoustic glass reduces road noise so the driver can enjoy the experinece at a higher level.

Bearing in mind the mass of the GV80, it’s a superb handler with: Genesis Adaptive Control Suspension (GACS) – including; Road Preview-Electronic Control Suspension (Preview-ECS) & Dynamic
Stability Damping Control (DSDC), says the specification sheet. In normal driving this has the rear of the GV80 slightly wallowy, with that just little bit too much softness for our tastes in the rear. The front is more tied down. Move to Sport and the suspension tightens up but not to the point that it’s excessively hard. The car’s driveline can be customised, so the engine can be in Comfort mode for, let’s say highway country driving, but the suspension and steering in Sport, to suit the driver’s taste and road conditions.

Braking is en pointe, with 360mm by 30mm discs up front with twin caliper pads, single calipers at the rear. The pedal measurement for just how much pressure is required is amongst the most intuitive we’ve experienced, and we were able to judge to a pinpoint, stopping distances.

Steering and there are hints of understeer in certain driving circumstances, with one particular corner a great test, at suburban speeds, of who much steering is required versus how far the nose naturally drifts wide or stays on line. Here we found the GV80’s front end requiring only a whiff of extra turn to have the nose where we wanted it to be.

In day to day driving over the seeming too-short week, the GV80 delivered on its promise of a luxury SUV, with the ability to street brawl. It’s an easy park that belies the size, has a beautifully sorted drive and handling setup, and delighted from ignition on to off.

What About Safety?: Standard safety features are extensive, again, as you’d expect. Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance-Assist with Rear/Side vision, Blind-Spot View Monitor, Driver Attention Warning that also includes Leading Vehicle Departure Alert. This beeps gently at the driver to advise the car ahead has moved on from a stop sign or traffic light.

Forward Collision Avoidance Assistance which brings in Car/Pedestrian/Cyclist detection, Junction Turning/Junction Crossing function, plus Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist, Lane-Change Oncoming/Lane-Change Side function, Evasive Steering Assist function, High Beam Assist and Lane Following Assist. The front seats have pretensioning belts. Ten airbags are fitted with a front centre side airbag, thorax and pelvic airbags for the front passengers, and thorax bags for the second row.

What About Warranty And Service?: Industry standard here at five years and unlimited kilometres for the warranty and that includes 24/7 roadside assistance and courtesy vehicle when being serviced. Servicing is performed at a dedicated centre however Genesis will arrange, at a distance of up to 70 kilometres from the main centre, to pick up and return to your place of work or at home. Genesis connected services are coming and information is available online.

At The End Of The Drive. Genesis have delivered a smack in the face to the established brands that provide luxury SUVs. The addition of the somewhat quirky looking GV70 bolsters their offerings in comparison to BMW or Audi or Mercedes with their more extensive range. As a package, the GV80 is what a cricket team needs in a test: a solid and dogged opener, with the ability to lay a foundation that the rest of the team can build upon.

With our week behind the wheel we feel that the GV80, in the specification tested, is a classic opening stand. There is a lot to like and it’s almost perfect straight out of the box. Almost. But the “negatives” such as they are, do very little to dull the shine of what the GV80 offers. And that’s a competitive, price appealing, high driver enjoyment level, raise of the middle finger to other brands and those that sneer at Korean offerings.

 

Tips For Keeping Your Car in Great Shape

Our cars are made up of some pretty amazing components.  They’ve been designed to last for a long time within a set of parameters by which most of us can adhere to.  Turn the key, and the engine fires up; travel for at least 10,000 km before most new cars need a service; they can take a certain number of people from A-to-B and back again in comfort for years without a hitch; they’ll soak up the bumps we find on a typical road for over 100,000 km before suspension components require replacement.  The cars we drive are pretty well-built; and they need to be, especially as they are often one of the most expensive items that we buy (more than once) over the extent of our lifetime.

Here are some tips to help make your car last for longer:

Wash Your Car

Did you know that one of the toughest substances for your car’s paintwork is bird poop?  If you let this sit on your car’s paintwork for over a week in the sun, it’ll start to work into the paint layers and cause discolouration and marks to appear on those spots.  To a lesser extent tree sap will affect paint surfaces, but it’s also a real pain to get off if it’s been left to bake on for any lengthy period.  So washing your car regularly and polishing it up with a good coat of wax will help your paintwork last much longer and look much nicer.

Avoid Lots of Revs When Cold

Revving your engine a lot when the car engine is cold after it’s been sitting for a long period (like overnight) is a sure way to shorten the engine’s life span.  The oil in your car’s engine is necessary to prevent wear between moving parts, and the problem with revving when the engine is cold is that lubrication doesn’t work as well when the car is cold. The solution is an easy one, and one which is backed by manufacturer recommendations, and that is to always allow your engine to warm up for at least 10-to-15 seconds before starting off.  This allows the oil to get pumped up from out of the sump and to start circulating through the engine components.  The next thing is to avoid fast and heavy acceleration for at least a minute or so, while the engine has that time to warm up.  If you follow these guidelines, then, as the automotive engineers suggest, your car will last many, many thousands of km longer.

Don’t Shift Into Drive When Moving

Most of us drive automatic vehicles these days, and it’s just so easy to flick the car into drive after backing out of a driveway or parking spot while the vehicle is still rolling backward.  This bad habit puts the transmission components under stress and will shorten the life of your gearbox.  Always bring the car to a complete stop before selecting gear and driving off.

Don’t Ignore Servicing and Oil Changes

Do keep an eye on the oil level on your dipstick.  Keep your oil topped up on the dipstick and change it according to your owner’s manual recommendations.  Most modern cars, if well-maintained, won’t even need top ups between services.  However, it is always good to check the oil level and to top up accordingly.  Make sure the oil filter gets changed when the oil is changed too.  Oil changes are part of the servicing requirements and, quite simply, it’s cheap maintenance and cheap insurance for your engine.

Do Avoid the Potholes and Big Bumps

All the suspension components, particularly at the front-end of your car, are precisely aligned.  When this alignment is disrupted by hitting a big pothole or large speedbump at speed, the misalignment afterwards causes major wear on the steering gear and other moving parts, accelerating the wear and the need for replacement.

Water Keeps It Cool

If you’re getting your car serviced on time, then the mechanic will know when each new lubricant and fluid change is due, including the radiator coolant.  However, if you’re doing a lot of the servicing yourself, then one of the items that’s easy to overlook is the changing of the radiator coolant.  The coolant that you put in your car does more than just cool the engine down.  The water should be mixed with antifreeze so that the coolant doesn’t freeze inside the pipes but also to prevent corrosion in the depths of the engine.  A good antifreeze has special corrosion inhibitors in it to stop any galvanic corrosion from occurring.

And there you have it; some handy tips for the holiday season ahead of us.  It might also be a good idea to get your vehicle serviced before you tackle any big roadie, especially if the service is due anytime soon.