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2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super Diesel

It’s been a long time “between drinks” for this scribe and Alfa Romeo. In a previous life one of the car brands sold was Alfa Romeo and a highlight was piloting the gorgeous 159.Sadly, Alfa ceased building that slinky temptress. Thankfully, a new car has come along to replace it and it’s the Giulia. With Sophia Loren looks, and Gina Lollobrigida curves, the Giulia’s Italian heritage is like a siren call to the eyeballs. Powered by a torquey diesel the review car came clad in a beautiful blue and certainly gave hints of another Italian beauty. Did someone say Maserati Quattroporte?In Super trim, there’s a choice of petrol or the diesel as tested. The classic 2.2L capacity has 132kW and a welcome 450Nm of twist at 1750 rpm. An eight speed auto with paddle shifters is fitted and will take the 1410 kg (dry) beauty to one hundred in a breath over seven seconds. Alfa Romeo’s official figures for consumption is 4.2L of dinosaur juice per 100 km from the 52L tank. Highway driving range is rated as 3.5L/100km and therefore theoretically capable of Sydney/Melbourne and a good portion of return.Outside the car was clad in metallic Montecarlo Blue. The hawklike LED headlights, matching LED tail lights, the traditional Alfa Romeo Vee grille, are beautifully proportioned and as curvaceous as a supermodel. It’s a beautiful colour and one of 14 possible choices. Inside it was full leather beige and black. Although a worry with two kids it held up just fine. But if you’re a dog owner, some towels would be highly recommended.It’s a push button start and one of the most sensible locations for it is on the steering wheel. One of the most ridiculously non-sensible locations for a bonnet opener is in the foot well above the driver’s left foot. In a right hand car it’s perhaps the silliest place such a device can be placed.Another oddity that the Giulia has is the design of the gear selector. With an Audi-esque design to that section, with Menu button, jog dial, and so on, one would think a trigger on the front of the selector and Park button on top would be ergonomically friendly. Somehow it wasn’t. Too many times whilst wrapping the hand around the lever to select Drive (a pull back to engage, forward for Reverse), the palm would flatten the Park. Then the softness of the trigger didn’t register so thinking it was in drive or Reverse had the diesel revving and no progress in either direction.Thankfully, the interior class overcomes this and in spades. The information screen with high quality DAB audio is not a touchscreen and is part of a beautifully integrated sweep from the passenger side to the driver’s left knee section. There’s a Walnut woodgrain trim there and if it’s not real wood it’s the best imitation of that natural product out there.

The seats are luxurious to the point of bed-like yet are bolstered so there is no lack of side support. There’s adjustable settings electronically for the seats all around including lumbar. They’re heated, naturally, however take far too long to get to a decent temperature unless it’s deliberately calculated to do so to prolong the seat material’s life.Interior specs are high: the Super gets dual zone climate control, rear seat ducting from this, heated steering wheel, a cooling breeze for the dash’s storage, rain sensing wipers, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, and huge paddle shifters. Safety is looked after with Autonomous Emergency Braking and alerts via a musical tone. Reverse camera with guidelines, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Alert, and front & rear sensors are standard. Cargo capacity is 480L for the 4643mm long Giulia.It’s on the road that the Super delivers. In the centre console is a dial with three settings, D N A. A is….uninspiring, N is relatively driveable but to extract the best out of the engine and transmission, D is definitely the driver’s choice. It’s spritely, athletic, energetic, and is what brings the Giulia Super diesel alive. There’s barely a momentary hesitation off the line before the eight speed auto simply launches the car away. Drive in D and then swap back to N or A and the result is instantly noticeable. The revs drop, the shifts slow, and driver’s experience of enjoyment drops away. Leave it in D and enjoy.The Pirelli 225/45 and 245/40 rubber wrap 18 inch alloys and house twin and single pot brakes. These react to a bare brush of the foot on the pedal and haul up the Giulia time and again without fade.Road holding is magic; think of sitting in a bed with each corner moving without affecting the centre. Think holding something that communicates every ripple to the hands yet does so without overwhelming them or becoming tiresome. Think silence and forward motion combining. Think turns that have lesser chassis’ cringing in fear, and grip that is velcro & super glue & limpet in one. Confidence inspiring is a serious understatement. A 2820mm wheelbase helps in stability, as does the double wishbone front and Alfa link rear. However, something else happens with the car’s handling at very low speeds. When maneuvering for street parking, the front end would “scrub”, with the tyres feeling as if they’re were on edge, not flat.Service intervals are 20,000km or twelve months, with a three year/150,000 warranty currently as standard according to the downloadable brochure.At The End Of The Drive.
At the time of writing The Giulia Super had a starting driveaway price of $64,900 plus a complementary three year service package and five year warranty with roadside assistance for the same period. Being the Drive 2017 Car Of The Year means that the Giulia Super is a pretty special machine. Oh, yes indeedy. Quirks aside, and let’s face it, without quirks it wouldn’t be an Alfa, left in D and driven the way a sports saloon should be driven, it appeals deeply.
Find out more here: 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super

Opening The Door To Motorsport.

Motorsport in Australia is thriving in some areas, not so in others. There’s categories and events that many would not be aware of, yet they’re at full strength. The one make Hyundai Excel series is one, FoSC or Festival of the Sporting Car is another. State level motorsport country wide is flourishing with the champions of the next generation out there in their Formula Vee, Formula Ford, perhaps their Formula 3 or Formula 4. There’s young ladies and gentlemen campaigning in a near fifty year old Holden HQ from Barbagallo to Baskerville, and veteran drivers such as John Bowe racing in all sorts of cars at all sorts of events.Molly Taylor is driving her rally specced and prepped Subaru in rallies around the country, and of course we have just seen Perth’s Daniel Ricciardo win at the Monaco F1 GP, and Will Power creating history by being the first Australian to win the Indy 500. Underlying all of these events is one crucial component. The officials working in front and from behind the scenes.

A huge proportion of how a motor sport event is built and staffed is thanks to officials that give up their time to be a part of the world’s biggest family. The family of motorsport. I recently wrote an article for Australia’s biggest aftermarket spare parts for classic cars company,Rare Spares article , where I talked to three people at various stages of their motorsport careers. Each of the three will state unequivocally that they simply can NOT go racing without the volunteer trackside officials.Here’s some points of view from those that are the steel behind motorsport.

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Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Haval H9 Ultra.

Haval‘s H9 is the latest and largest entry from the Chinese based car maker. Available in two trim levels, the Lux and Ultra (aka Premium), they’re well kitted, aren’t terrible to look at either inside or out, and well priced too. The Lux starts at $41,990 and the Ultra at $45,990 with both being drive-away. The only real options look like external paint and interior colours.

Both have a turbocharged 2.0L petrol engine, eight speed auto, and weigh over 2000 kilograms. This equates to an official fuel consumption figure on the combined cycle of 10.9L of 95RON per 100 kilometres from the 80L tank. Around town the Haval H9 Ultra, weighing 2250kg plus fuel and passengers, delivered a pleasing 12.5L/100km from the 180kW/350Nm engine. Towing capacity is 2500kg.The 4826mm long machine seats seven and the rear seats are powered. Activated by toggles which much be held to have the seat go from top to bottom and reverse, it’s a slightly painstaking way to get an extra two bums on seats. There are illuminated alloy side steps shrouded in plastic, LED strip lighting inside which can be changed at the touch of a button, the doors have LED puddle lamps that cast the Haval logo in red. Up front there’s “bendy” headlights and the LED system shines a crisp white that provides plenty of safe forward looking distance.Outside it looks like a pumped up version of a early noughties X-Trail thanks to the vertical lights at the rear. At the front there are stylish hints of Toyota LandCruiser and Prado. There’s a fair size comparison too, as the H9 stands and spans 1900mm in height and width. It’s an imposing sight to see, both in a shopping centre carpark and on the road parked.The interior features acres of leather. The (heated for Ultra) steering wheel, front, middle, and rear seats are leather, the front seats are heated in the Ultra, and the rear section has its own climate control system. The Lux has manually adjusted cloth seats, the Ultra’s are powered, have memory settings and a massage function. The third row seats in the Lux are manual, and the second row in the Lux miss out on heating as well. The Ultra also gets a full length glass roof and the front section is a movable sunroof. These are operated by a dial above the driver and passenger, and seem counter-intuitive in the direction of rotation to operate the roof. It’s a pleasant place to be and the seats themselves in the Ultra were very comfortable, supportive, and the massage function worked well enough too.The cabin the Ultra had was of black and bone. It’s a nice contrast as the bone tended more towards the white shade, not the beige shade as seen elsewhere, and suited the silver the revieww car came with. However the smoky grey faux wood trim in the review car is a matter of personal preference. The dash itself is clearly laid out and easy on the eye, with a sensible design layout, a centre LCD screen with changeable information displays and red highlighting. Haval add a small strip style display about the touchscreen in the centre of the dash that displays height, barometric pressure, tilt angle, and compass direction. The audio system is from Infinity and although not fitted with DAB, the touchscreen system proffers AM/FM and some very clean sound through the ten speaker mix. Switch gear is mostly cleanly laid out however the climate control button labelled Mode doesn’t quite bring up what is expected appears to work and the Synch between driver and passenger isn’t as clear either.Being as big as it is, it’s no surprise the H9 has plenty of shoulder, leg, and head room inside. Although the wheelbase is a surprisingly shortish 2800mm, the overall width and height give plenty of head, leg, and shoulder room. All round vision is good thanks to plenty of glass making for an airy cabin and there’s plenty of forward vision thanks to the height the driver sits at.
There’s a full suite of airbags on board sans driver’s kneebag. Haval aren’t alone in this though. Safety tech is of a high level such as front and rear parking sensors, Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Assist, Blind Spot Alert, Tyre Pressure Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, but no Autonomous Emergency Braking. The head rests in the front seat are crash programmed to move forward and cradle the heads of the front seat passengers.Out on the road that 350Nm and two plus tonnes don’t seem to promise anything other than a lumbering performance. Thankfully that’s not quite the case. A gentle push of the go pedal has the H9 move away softly and with increasing velocity nicely however a decent prod will have the big machine somewhere between “this is ok” and “wow, that’s pretty good”. The eight speed auto will drop quietly down a cog or two and having eight ratios does mean there’s better drivability when needed.

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Car Sales Top 10

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

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The Green Hell.

Every country has a racetrack that is loved, respected, and wanted to be raced upon by anyone from armchair console players to professional drivers. Australia has Mount Panorama, The US perhaps Laguna Seca as the pick. Britain has a few including Silverstone, and then there’s Germany’s Nürburgring.The location is steeped in history and can trace its origin back to the 1920s. Races were held on the roads and run under the auspices of the ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club e.V). The Eifelrenen was an annual race that started in 1922. Held on 33 kilometres of public roads the mounting toll of damage and fatalities from this and other forms or racing lead to the founding of the original Nürburgring in 1927.

The original circuit had 187 bends and a distance of 28.265 kilometres. Bugatti driver Louis Chiron managed the quickest time and averaged 112.3 kilometres per hour. However, due to ongoing safety concerns, in 1929 it was decided to race only on the 22.8 kilometre Nordschleife for major races such as Grands Prix. The Südschleife, or South Ring, would host motorcycle and minor races on its separate 7.747 kilometre surface.

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Mercedes-AMG GT S Roadster

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

EV Ponderings

EV Networking

With all the fuss and excitement of electric vehicles paving the way of the future it’s worth pondering what sort of new electric-vehicle technology could be part of our automotive future.  Interesting current discussion regarding what sort of electric-vehicle (EV) fuel stations, networking and technology Australia might employ is necessary for keeping the Australian EV fleet ready for the road.  Plenty of excellent EV and EV-infrastructure planning and  management has to happen now for us to get the best EV product rolled out for our country.

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Private Fleet Car Review: Tesla Model S P100 D & Model X P100D

They’re potentially expensive. They’re controversial. They’re cracking good drives. And totally fully electric. The Tesla range consisting of the Model S variants and Model X variants has been with us in Australia for a few years now and the Model S remains the most visible. The P100D name means the car is an all wheel drive machine, with a pair (the D stands for dual) of electric motors powering each corner. The 100, by the way, means the kilowatt hours the engines produce and it’s through the range the numbers tell the output. Body wise the Model S rocks a five door coupe shape in a smooth and svelte design, the Model X a more pumped roof.Pricing structure within Australia varies state by state for the Tesla cars. Tesla Model S pricing and Tesla Model X pricing are the links for your location, however starting prices are $113,200 for the Model S 75D and $120, 200 for the Model X 75D. The top of the range gets the “P” designation, with Ludicrous mode, top end interior, and Premium Upgrade package standard. That’s the zero to goodbye license in 2.9 seconds for the Model S and 3.1 seconds for the Model X. Passing speeds are also eyeball smashing with the sprint from 75 to 105 km/h lasting a mere 1.2 seconds.Interior trim is full machine made leather or as Tesla calls it, an ecologocally sustainable material, alcantara roof and pillar lining, a massive 17 inch touchscreen that controls virtually every aspect of the Tesla, and a key fob shaped like a car that has to be on you if you want to get in. There is an app that can go on your smartphone that will open and close doors, start the car, and even pre-start air-conditioning. However the corresponding service has to be enabled via the touchscreen for the mobile app to work. Should the key fob be mislaid the app can also be used to get you underway.The powered and heated seats are comfortable to a fault, the steering column is easily adjusted via an electric toggle, and it’s a pretty simple office to be in and a good one to look at.There’s carbon fibre inlays to complement the black plastic, leather, and alcantara, and looks a treat. Cup holders are on board but no door has storage in the Model S. None. The Model X, being aimed more at the family, comes with a customisable seating configuration of five, six, or seven seats, and the doors do get holders. The doors, by the way on the Model X are powered and opened via buttons on the fob. Individual doors can be opened or closed or all of them, including the gull wing rear passenger doors at the same time. The car and fob communicate wirelessly so when walking to or away from the P100D Model S the door handles slide out or in. It’s secure and safe and it’s a switchable option from the touchscreen, meaning it can be deactivated.

A talking point about Tesla vehicles is the autonomous driving factor. In a basic form it’s here however there’s some caveats and they’re pretty strong ones. Hidden in the B pillar and front guards are tiny cameras that link to software on board. If these cameras can see white roadside markings then the full LCD dash will display a grey steering wheel icon. This tells the driver that autonomous mode can be used. A small lever on the bottom left of the steering column needs to be pulled twice and this engages the software. BUT it also warns you to have your hands on the wheel and if there’s no lines, no auto steer. So what this means is that as a fully autonomous driving system, no, it’s not. As an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) yes but the human factor is crucially important, still.

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Holden’s Equinox Goes Oily.

As promised by Holden, a new diesel engine option has been made available for its Equinox range.
Available across the range, the 1.6-litre turbo diesel boasts an impressive fuel economy from just 5.6L/100km, while retaining strong power and torque of 100kW and 320Nm respectively.

The third engine to be introduced in the Equinox range, the new 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and available in front-wheel-drive or all-wheel drive. Introduced in late 2017, the all-new Equinox now adds longer-range driving and improved fuel economy to an already impressive list of high-tech features including wireless phone charging and heated and ventilated front seats.

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Ford Australia Extends Warranty.

Ford Australia joins the growing band of manufacturers to provide a longer than three years warranty by offering customers a five-year unlimited kilometre Ford Express New Vehicle Warranty, as standard on all new vehicles, including Ford’s highly acclaimed commercial vehicle range. The warranty applies to all new vehicles delivered from May 1, 2018 and replaces Ford’s three year 100,000 kilometre offering.

It’s not restricted to passenger vehicles either, with commercial vehicles such as Ranger and Transit included. This makes Ranger a class leader in its segment.The five year, unlimited kilometre warranty extends Ford Australia’s comprehensive after-sales care package, which already includes satnav updates including Sync3 systems for up to seven years & Sync2 through to September 2014, Auto Club Membership with Roadside Assistance, loan car and their Service Price Promise.

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