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Shock Absorbers And the Boing-Oing-Oing-Oing Factor

We kind of take our suspension systems and our shock absorbers for granted.  We don’t tend to think about them too much until that time that the mechanic sucks in his cheeks, shakes his head and says “Your shocks are just about gone, mate and you’re going to replace them at a cost of $oodles a pop.” (Apologies for inadvertent sexism but where are all the female grease monkeys?)

However, if you remember back to the days of riding home-made go-karts, a basic skateboard or (I won’t tell on you) the trailer, you probably know why cars and vehicles in general are fitted with suspension systems. Without suspension, you feel all the bumps in the road. Every. Single. One. While this is great fun when you’re a kid riding in the trailer and getting bumped up and down, it’s not so much fun for longer trips and certainly doesn’t do your spine any good at all. It doesn’t do any good to anything delicate you’re transporting, such as eggs, or if you’re trying to take a blancmange or sloppy chili con carne to a potluck dinner.

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A Long Time Ago…

In May of 1977 a film was released, a film intended to be an homage to the serials of the 1940s one might watch at the local flicks on a Saturday. With a nod towards westerns and featuring a cast of mostly unknown actors, Star Wars hit an unsuspecting public smack between the eyes. 2017 sees the fortieth anniversary of that film and Private Fleet takes a look at a few of the cars that turn forty also.

Holden HZ.
Yes, a bit of nothing more than a new grille differentiated the HZ Kingswood from the previous model visually, but it was underneath, with the introduction of RTS or Radial Tuned Suspension , that made this an important car for the then flourishing Aussie market. It was also the last large sedan Holden would make for some time.
Chrysler Sigma.
“It’s a sensation” went the advertising for a car that was built by Chrysler Australia and was based on the same car made by Mitsubishi. Powered (stop snickering) b,y at the entry level, 1.6L carbied four cylinder that was good for 56 kilowatts and 117 torques, the GE series Sigma became a mainstay of the Aussie market for a few years and kept the Sigma name plate when Mitsubishi took over the Chrysler manufacturing. There was even a Sports pack for the 2.0L version, with striping, low fuel warning light, sports tiller, and steel belted radials.Ford LTD 2.
Although a nameplate once familiar to Aussies, this was the American version and was, oddly, classified as an intermediate sized car. Given it was bigger than the German battleship Tirpitz and was powered by a strictly V8 engined lineup putting power down via a three speed auto, it’s hard to believe that a five point five metre machine could be considered an “intermediate” sized car. It was available in three trim levels including the top of the range Brougham, a name familiar to Australia Holden fans as the predecessor to the Statesman.Volvo 262C.
The squared off, boxy, blocky Volvo designs of the 1970s gained some coolness with this car from Swedish manufacturer, Volvo. Built in Italy and powered by a 2.6 litre V6 engine, this two door beauty still looks as gorgeous as the day it first appeared in 1977. Italian design house Bertone was responsible for both the design and build, with the coupe’s roof ten centimetres lower than the donor car, the Volvo 260. Standard equipment included power windows and mirrors, central locking, full leather interior, power mirrors, cruise control, air conditioning, heated front seats, alloy wheels and electrically powered radio antenna.Triumph TR7 Sprint.
British maker Triumph, along with MG, made some of the most memorable two door cars of the sixties and seventies but not always memorable for the right reasons. At least this one went some way towards a good purpose, being a limited run of 62 cars to homologate the Group 4 Triumph 7 rally car for the 1978 season. The engine was a two litre, 16 valve, single overhead camshaft type and bolted to a five speed manual. Peak power was 127 bhp, more than the same capacity slant four version found in the standard TR7.Aston Martin V8 Vantage.
Broad shouldered, hairy chested, metaphorically wearing a thick gold chain, Aston Martin’s V8 Vantage packed a 5.3L V8 with 280 kilowatts which promised a top speed of 280 kilometres per hour. Sharing the basic engine package with the Lagonda at the time, the Vantage received re-rated camshafts, a higher compression ratio, bigger valves and carbies, all which lead to a 0-60 mph time of a still rapid 5.3 seconds, quicker than Ferrari’s Daytona.So where ever you are you the galaxy as you celebrate forty hears of these cars and forty years of Star Wars, May The Force Be With You.

2017 Suzuki Ignis GLX: A Private Fleet Car Review.

The small car company has gone back to the future with a re-release of an old nameplate. Let’s welcome the 2017 Suzuki Ignis GLX.When I say the small car company, I mean in the sense of the size of the cars; the Ignis is a tiny 3.7 metres in overall length, stands just 1595 mm tall ( a bit higher than the donor chassis Swift) and is just 1660 mm wide yet never feels cramped inside. For four people, that is. Somehow, they’ve managed to cram in a wheelbase of 2435 mm which provides plenty of leg room up front and an adequate amount for adults in the rear.It’s a blocky, squared off, design bar the leading edge of the roof and windscreen bracketed by the A pillars donated from the Swift. The driving lights as they wrap around the lower section of the headlights offer a cheeky grin and there’s a spot of LED at the rear. There’s a sharp angled, triangular, panel section in the C pillar and rear door, above the rear wheels with three indentations to break up that area visually. There’s a hint of Renault in the rear wheel arch, with a reminder of the pertness the French design into their hot hatches.Inside the test car is a mix of light and shade. There’s black plastic throughout most of the cabin bar white inserts in the door and dash and colour coded centre console and door grabs. The rear seats it higher than the front and for an unsuspecting adult, it’s all too easy to see the side of the head hit the door entry at the top. The charcoal and dark grey seats are comfortable enough if lacking in side support.The trim itself is an eclectic mix, with a carbon fibre look to the outermost airvent covers, piano black in the console, the bone white contrasting with the almost matt black in the rest of the cabin. The GLX comes with a four quarter touch screen mounted top front and centre. It splits up into audio, phone, guidance, and smartphone connection for allowance to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Easy to use? Yes indeedy. Leather wrapped tiller? Natch. Voice command and Bluetooth? Of course.The Ignis is motorvated by Suzuki’s 1.2L TwinJet four cylinder. There’s a CVT, Constant Variable Transmission, on board, which takes full advantage of the 120 torques at 4400 rpm and 66 kilowatts 1600 rpm further up the range. There’s a disconcerting hesitancy off the line before the CVT bites, a hesitancy enough that a double check for oncoming traffic is needed. It’s old school CVT in that it’ll rise in revs before plateauing even as speed increases before backing off and seeing freeway speeds at around 2000-2200 rpm. The CVT is also fitted with a low gear ratio, which, in certain circumstances such as climbing or descending hill roads, helps greatly in acceleration and engine braking.It’s an economical little beast, with a worst figure of 5.7L per 100 kilometres to move the 820 kilo machine. Economy as quoted by Suzuki for the combined cycle is 4.9L per 100 kilometres and you’ll need an economical package give the thinble sized fuel tank of just 32 Litres. It’s a surprisingly quiet engine and transmission combo too, with little of the expected thrashing and rattling.What was also unexpected was the ride and handling. Considering the tube sock tyres wrapping the black painted alloys, at 175/60/16 in overall size for the GLX, there was little tramlining, little unsavoury movement on rutted and dishevelled roads, and little sideways movement in crossbreeze. The coil sprung suspension combo of struts and torsion beam hold disc and drum brakes, and makes for a suprisingly well sorted ride. There’s a bit of road noise on rougher tarmac however the ride itself is supple enough. In fact, the only time the suspension made itself known was on the longer duration undulations and shorter dips, where the rear would compress quickly and the bumpstops would say hello.

At the End Of The Drive.
The two model range, GL and GLX, starts with a driveaway price just shy of $17000. The GLX is just two thousand more and one can option a black roof for $1000 and naturally there’s pricing for the predominantly metallic paint range. Suzuki will throw in their standard three year or one hundred thousand kilometre warranty, capped priced serving over the six monthly intervals with a maximum of $300 at the 60 month mark.

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2017 Kia Sorento GT-Line: A Private Fleet Car Review

SUVs are the big ticket seller in Australia and one of the brands that nails this market is Kia. The Sorento is their big gun here, and quite bluntly, the 2017 Kia Sorento GT-Line is an absolute pearler. Here’s why the $58490 (plus on roads) Sorento looks like a winner.It’s a seemingly tiny 2.2L diesel up front of the two tonne beast. Seemingly, until you find out there’s 441 torques on tap at a very useable 1750 to 2750 rpm range. Economy around town is quoted as 10.1L per 100 kilometres. Combined is 7.8L/100 km. Private Fleet had slightly more urban than highway usage yet managed to finish on a highly credible 8.5L/100 km, from a 71L tank. In fact, the Sorento had just ticked over to 750 km as we rolled into a station to top up and still had an expected range of sixty kilometres.

There’s a surprising amount of peak power, 147 kW, at 3800 rpm, meaning the transition between peak torque and power is a smooth and natural transition. Acceleration is, as a certain British brand would say, adequate. What isn’t are the brakes. For such a heavy and quick vehicle the brakes need more bite initally, as there’s just too much travel before anything feels like it’s about to bite. It’s a niggle, given the size of the front and rear discs at 320 mm and 305 mm respectively.That’s about it for anything not quite right. The rest of the GT-Line Sorento is as good as you’re going to get in the market right now. Standard equipment is pretty solid on the Sorento Platinum, on which the GT-Line is built upon. Naturally there’s a slick six speed auto and an all whheel drive system that’s front drive oriented until sensors divert grunt rearwards. The 19 inch alloys are chromed and look stunning, wrapping 235/55 rubber. You’ll enjoy tyre pressure monitoring and a full sized spare, for that extra peace of mind.

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Why You Need to Check the Written Off Car Register

In one of our recent posts, we covered the benefits that come with inspecting a second hand vehicle. We also briefly touched on one other vital consideration when it comes to used cars. That is, ensuring the vehicle hasn’t previously been written off. Not only do you want to avoid the prospect of ending up with a lemon, but the ramifications could be a LOT worse – both in terms of safety, and from a financial perspective. The good news? Each state and territory has made this easier for motorists by hosting their own register online.

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2017 Kia Rondo S: A Private Fleet Car Review.

Once upon a time, before the rise of the SUV machine, there were people movers. This particular kind of vehicle has, more or less, disappeared off of the face of the motoring world, however Kia continues to burn the flame with their excellent Carnival and the criminally underrated Rondo. It’s the latter that a rewarding week was spent with and Private Fleet comes away musing why the Kia Rondo S isn’t in more driveways.Up front, literally and metaphorically, there’s an issue, and one that may be part of the Rondo’s near invisibility. There’s just one engine choice and that’s a two litre petrol engine. Peak oomph is 122 kW and peak twist is just 213 torques, at 4700 rpm. It’s a people mover, but there’s no torque. There’s no torque because there’s no diesel. Here, right here, is the arrow in the heel for the Rondo. The Carnival has a stupidly thirsty petrol V6 or a frugal and more sensible diesel. The Rondo needs, badly, a diesel engine with the torque to do what a people mover does.Why? The Rondo starts with 1520 kilos in five seater form, and 1546 kg for a seven seater. Lob in people (it is a people mover, remember) and let’s say 4 x 100 kilos. Straight up there’s a two tonne mass. Diesel. Please. There’s a further anchor, unfortunately. The Rondo lacks real feedback from the opposite of go. The brake pedal just seems to lack bite and feedback to the driver via the 300 mm and 284 mm discs. There’s a press and…nada…press harder and THEN there’s something. Given the role the Rondo has, it needs a better communication between foot and brake.Back to the front: Kia quote 10.8L/100 km in the urban cycle. That’s using standard unleaded and from a 58L tank. Given that the urban jungle is the natural environment in which the Rondo will prowl, a sub six hundred kilometre range isn’t up to par. However, if doing country commuting, that figure drops to a quoted 6.2L/100 km.

Ride quality in the S is good, not great. It’s a touch too soft at the torsion beam rear, squishy at the MacPherson strut front with a twenty kph roll over a school sized speed hump having the suspension crash out on the far side, and feels as if it bottoms out just a little too easily. That’s with just the driver on board. There’s a need for a more Aussie tuned suspension, with higher spec variable rate suspension that will dial out the softness and not bring an excessively sporty feel to the car. However, it’s a good handler, with mild understeer from the 205/55/16 rubber when pressed, otherwise it’s pretty neutral and responds, for the most part, quite well to steering wheel input. Kia stay with the three mode steering option and it’s best left in Normal.There’s plenty to like inside the near $27K (RRP) Rondo S, with a tidy and ergonomic interior. There’s the 35:30:35 split fold rear seats, 536L of cargo in the five seater which increases to a massive 1694 litres with the seats folded, plus a hidden storage section under the cargo floor. The grey trimmed seats are comfortable enough, with good lateral support in the front. The dash itself is typical Kia with a clean & simple look, a smallish (4.3 inches) info screen in the centre dash, a pleasing contrast in plastics in both colour (a satin silver garnish on the dash) and feel, and decent audio quality but the tuner lacked sensitivity for FM in some areas. There’s also dusk sensing headlights, reverse sensors and camera, Hill Start Assist, and a full suite of active & passive safety features including six airbags.Being a people mover oriented vehicle, Kia have loaded the Rondo S up with four 12V sockets, five cup holders, and four bottle holders. There’s map pockets for both front and rear doors, even a second row fold out “table” that’s mounted in the centre seat back. There’s plenty of breathing space inside the 4525 mm long car, with a wheelbase of 2750 mm endowing the Rondo with enough elbow, leg, and hip space for most people.It’s not an unattractive car, the Rondo. There’s a longish pedestrian friendly bonnet, considering the overall length, which slopes into a steepish windscreen. This, though, gives a huge amount of frontal crash protection, with front passengers seemingly located halfway along the Rondo’s overall length. There’s a resemblance more to the Picanto than any other of the Kia range, with bulbous headlights sitting above the driving lights whilst the rear is clean, if not overly eyecatching.Warranty is Kia’s industry leading seven year coverage, with a rolling service cost over the seven years, with the first twelve months or fifteen thousand kilometre at $299. Over the seven years, you should be looking at a cost of just under $2600.

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Toyota Funds Flying Car Project

Artist’s impression of the Skydrive. Image courtesy of Cartivator.

“Where are all the flying cars?” Those who are either old enough to remember the old movies or retro buffs raise this question from time to time when they look at the technology of the early 21st century (i.e. now). The rest of us shrug our shoulders and may have the attitude that smartphones and the internet – something barely imagined by the majority of sci-fi writers of the 1950s–1970s* – are a fair substitute.

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2017 Subaru Impreza Sedan and Hatch: A Private Fleet Car Comparison.

It’s called “the trickle down effect”, where technology and design filter through from the top to the entry level models. Such is the case with the slightly reskinned and revamped 2017 Subaru Impreza sedan and hatch, in L and S specification.It’s been pretty simple for Subaru; refine, improve, sell. And it’s worked, with the 2017 Subaru Impreza copping mild but noticeable sheetmetal changes, interior and specification upgrades, and subsequent exposure on road. For example, their hatch looks different to the sedan. No, not because one has four doors and the other five, there’s different approaches to the rear doors, with a taller look to the fixed window in the hatch. The fuel filler lid is closer to the tail lights in the hatch and the hatch had plastic inserts in the front bumper for what overseas markets get, washers for the headlamps. All of this in a length of 4625 mm in the sedan, 4460 mm for the hatch. Even height is slightly different, with the hatch 25 mm taller than the sedan.It’s also a smoother and somehow better looker than the previous version. There’s a redesign to the rear light cluster that tidies things up and at the front it’s…just better. Smoother, cleaner, less fussy, definitely easier on the eye. C shaped LEDs bracket (and mirror the tail lights) a chrome strip in the grille and sit nicely above halogen globe driving lights.Inside, it’s subtly different from the previous model, with a different look to the screens located in the centre and upper dash. Information for the upper section has been reformatted and is still accessible via the steering wheel’s buttons. The eight inch touchscreen is cleaner in layout, making it more driver (and passenger) friendly, and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on board. The hatch in S spec has an array of buttons just above the driver’s right knee, which includes tyre pressure adjustment, blind spot warning, and SRH or Steering Responsive Headlights.The L sedan received charcoal and grey cloth pews, with the S spec running up to leather and heated (only, no ventilation, a must for the Aussie market) seats, with both test cars being given black and ivory trim. The S also gets rain sensing wipers, 8 way power seats, and satnav over the L specification, plus a glass roof. The sedan also gets a reasonable 460L boot, with the hatch starting at 345L before looking at 790L with seats down.All variants receive the 2.0L flat four, with 115 kilowatts @ 6000 rpm, and 196 torques @ 4000 rpm. Transmission options are simple. There aren’t any. You’ll get a CVT with seven programmed ratios and you’d be forgiven for wondering if that’s a good thing. The simple answer is yes. Subaru’s CVT setup works best with light to medium throttle from a standstill, as there’s instant grab from the system. A heavy right foot really makes no difference until you’re under way. It’s here the pair come alive, with that all paw footing and the CVT’s linear delivery of torque really combine to imbue a genuine sense of that technical word “oomph”. Brakes work efficiently too, with almost just the right amount of travel before bite and a lovely, well modulated, feel as you increae pressure which doesn’t leave the driver wondering if they’ll pull up in time.The S also picks up Active Torque Vectoring, which Subaru says: Subaru Active Torque Vectoring (ATV) applies light brake pressure to the inside front wheel as your Subaru car carves a corner, which pushes more power to the outside front wheel, reducing wheel spin and sharpening handling. It’s unnoticeable until you think about what it’s doing when you pile into corners and curves. It’s then that the handling aspect of the S shakes your hand and introduces itself to you. But by no measure does the L spec feel underprepared, as it rides just as nicely, with perhaps a touch more tautness across the yumps, lumps, and bumps found around Sydney’s highways and freeways. There’s the same rolling diameter to help, with the S getting Yokohama rubber at 225/40/18 whilst the rest of the field go down a size wheel wise, and up a size tyre wise, at 205/50/17 from Bridgestone.You’ll find that you’ll get good economy along the way, with Subaru quoting 7.2L per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle. Punch it around town, though, and potentially you’ll see north of 9.0L per 100 kilometres. That’s on the specified 91 RON from a smallish fifty litre tank.

Safety is ANCAP rated five stars, with front, curtain, side and knee airbags, along with ISOFIX child seat mouts, seat belt height ajusters for driver and passenger, and Subaru’s “Ring” safety cell. You’ll also receive the three year/unlimited kilometre warranty, three year capped price servicing, and twelve months roadside assistance.

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How To Repair A Scratch In The Paintwork

If the scratch is this bad, it’s probably best to take it to a professional.

#$%^&*()$%^&*!!!!!!! You left your car in the supermarket carpark looking perfect with nicely polished paintwork, and when you got back, you found that some clown opened their door and nicked the paintwork. Or the dog was just so pleased to see you and jumped up trying to lick your face through the car window with scrabbling paws and left marks of their affection all over the panelwork. Or (worst case scratching scenario) some pillock (and that’s using mild language) decided it would be funny or appropriate to key your car and leave marks all down the side.

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2017 Audi Q2 TDi: A Private Fleet Car Review

With SUVs being so popular, it’s no surprise that the next chapter in the SUV story is the lifestyle SUV. Think the original SUV, the Toyota RAV4, bring it into the latter half of the second decade of the 21st century, and that’s the market.
Not surprisingly, Audi, known for their quick response to market change, have done so and enter, stage left, the Audi Q2, with a choice of 1.4L TFSI petrol or 2.0L diesel quattro.Audi says that their designers have: “created a unique polygonal design for the Q2 using sculpted geometric shapes for a stunning interplay of lines. The octagonal Singleframe grille, the three-dimensional taillights, and the polygonal side profile work in harmony to define its powerful character. With a higher-ground clearance, the Q2 is undeniably an SUV, from the elevated driving position to everyday versatility.”Ok. That means it’s a funky new design for an SUV. But what does that mean for passengers? Well, let’s take a step back and consider the exterior. The test car came clad in a “won’t lose me in the car park” yellow. Vegas Yellow, to be precise. If there’s a colour other than silver that will highlight those edges, it’s yellow. There’s a solid plastic C panel in a light gunmetal grey which can be be swapped for other colours, with that choice dependent on engine spec. With eleven exterior colours to pick from the Q2 allows the savvy buyer some choice, to say the least.In fact, the Q2 offers a list of optionable equipment that will give any indecisive person the jitters. There’s the punchy B&O audio system, wireless mobile phone charging, Head Up Display, a storage and luggage compartment package, and a cool looking LED interior light system in the console and dash. You can also include the Technik Package, which has an 8.3 inch touchscreen, two card readers and 10 GB hard drive storage plus more. The driver gets the “Virtual Cockpit” LCD screen, at just over 12 inches in width.It’s a surprisingly compact unit, with an overall length under 4.2 metres, at 4191 mm, yet rides on a 2601 mm wheelbase, meaning there’s a reasonable, if cozy, amount of interior space. That also means that front and rear overhang is minimal, with 828 mm and 762 mm respectively. It’s almost square in a front/rear look, with 1509 mm in height, 1794 mm total with, and with front and rear track just millimetres apart at 1547 mm and 1541 mm respectively. Rubber was Michelin 215/50, on the optionable 18 inch alloys fitted.Interior space has 1091 mm from the front seat squab to the roof and just 966 mm in the rear, meaning taller passengers may find themselves getting intimate with the upholstery, both above and to the back of the seats ahead. The interior itself is a mix of flat charcoal plastic; textured, almost carbon fibre along the dash and hides the LED mood lighting; to the flat bottomed steerer and the screen in the upper dash standing monolithically, almost like The Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey.Cargo space is smallish at 450 litres, plus it’s a highish boot floor, making both loading height and outright useability a compromise.It’ll motorvate along nicely, however, with the 2.0L diesel (in the test vehicle) providing a linear deliver of torques, 340 of them, between 1750 and 3000 rpm, rolling off nicely into the peak power figure of 110 kilowatts from 3500 to 4000 revs. The TSFI delivers the same power albeit at 5000 to 6000 rpm, with peak torque a not indecent 250 Nm across a slightly broader rev range, being 1500 to 3500. The diesel’s quattro system has drive predominantly at the front, as is common in these sorts of vehicles, sending torque rearward as the sensor system dictates. It’s seamless and invisible to the senses.Both will roll along quietly with the merest flex of the right ankle, and with both having such a linear delivery of torque, will see each of the seven ratios nicely used, especially when at speed and needing a good overtaking move. The diesel is muted but will transmit a warm thrum through to the cabin when under load. Stopping power is confident, with the brakes providing instant information, rather than feeling as if there’s travel before bite. The steering weights well in the hand, with it feeling as if there’s a variable ratio the further left or right you turn.

At The End Of The Drive.
The Audi Q2 starts at $41100 plus on roads for the 1.4 TSFI, with the diesel quattro a whopping $6800 more, with a driveaway price of a gnat’s nasty under $53500. However you will get the standard three year or unlimited kilometre warranty and twelve year warranty for body perforation protection. The diesel is a good enough drive but the Q2 suffers from a lack of interior room overall. At that, one would suspect that it would be bought by singles or couples and would rarely see a need to employ the rear seat for anything other than extra space for shopping, or a small dog.
2017 Audi Q2 is the place to go for more info.