Mazda’s CX-9 has won the 2017 Wheels Car of the Year, the second year in a row for the Japanese car company. The MX-5 was awarded the gong in 2016. Mazda is also the first Japanese company to win the award back-to-back, the fourth maker in the history of the award and is just the second company to do so since COTY was born in the 1960s. The CX-9 also created its own piece of history by being the first SUV to win COTY since 2004.
Wheels magazine’s acting editor, Alex Inwood said: “The Mazda CX-9 stood out throughout the entire Wheels Car of the Year judging week.”
The CX-9 was released in Australia in mid 2016, and immediately struck a chord with the Australian buying public. People were attracted to its stylish design, user friendly interior, the punchy and efficient 2.5 litre turbocharged four cylinder petrol engine, and the combination of quietness and safety. Inwood also said: “In many ways you could regards this as a win for democratic motoring because this is a car that proves you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get great levels of luxury, refinement, and ride quality.”
For quite a few years now, the really big name in electric cars has been Tesla. Named after the scientist who did a lot of pioneering work in the field of electricity (and, according to popular legend, tried to invent a death ray just like a mad scientist from a cheesy thriller), Tesla vehicles have been considered the crème de la crème of sustainable motoring, the electrical equivalent of Koenigsegg or Lamborghini. By and large, they’ve mostly been something for the very wealthy and mostly those overseas as well.
It could be that this is about to change. Last year, Tesla decided to produce a cheaper variety – cheaper being a relative term, of course; it’s got a US$35,000 price tag at the very basic level. This Model 3 will begin production this year and will probably be fully released in 2018, joining the Model S and the Model X that a select few are already driving.
The Swedish car company renaissance continues with the Volvo S90 being released in late 2016. A long, lithe, well proportioned machine, it places the S90 firmly in the large luxury saloon mix, and has both the British and German based manufacturers clearly in its sights. Private Fleet reviews the Volvo S90 D5 Inscription.
The range kicks off at $79990; the car tested, the D5 Inscription has a manufacturer’s list price of $96900 and with options fitted tops out at $118555 (plus on roads). The options include heated front seats (again, ventilation for Australian spec cars should be a must) at $650, Head Up Display at $1900, and the superb B & W sound system at $4500. Oddly, Apple CarPlay is also listed as an option ($300) when seen as standard fitment in cars a quarter of the price. Also, it’s said elsewhere that DAB (digital radio) is fitted as standard yet the the test car does not have it.The exterior is a mix of desireable influences; at one angle the view forward of the windscreen is very much BMW 7 series, the grille nods towards Maserati, there’s hints of Jaguar XF in the profile and rear pillar. There’s bendy LED headlights and indicators plus the Hammer of Thor inserts for the headlights. At the rear…well, it’s here things go squiffy. The tail light design is square, angular, blocky, and in Private Fleet’s opinion, just not pretty and at odds with the lithe look anywhere forward. A smoother curved style would, in this reviewer’s humble opinion, be more suitable and balance the rear to the front. But by no means is the S90 an unattractive car, far from it.It’s a big car, with a length of 4963 mm and wheelbase of 2941 mm offering plenty of leg room straight up with 1071 mm and 911 mm front and rear . Width, sans mirrors, is 1879 mm, providing 1423 mm and 1416 mm in hip room, and an overall height of 1443 mm sees head room of 1027 mm and 961 mm.
In a year where new car sales catapulted to new heights, surely it would be reasonable to expect that ‘green’ vehicles with alternative fuel technology shared in this growth? If anything, starting from a low base, one might even expect that their year-on-year growth significantly outperformed petrol and diesel vehicles. After all, Australian motorists are supposedly becoming more environmentally conscious and converting to green technology, no?
Imagine the surprise then, reviewing the recent sales figures for electric vehicles and hybrids in Australia throughout 2016. Electric vehicles in the private passenger segment decreased from 220 sales in 2015, to a dismal 65. That’s right. Not only did electric vehicles in this segment fail to make any meaningful progression, but a mere 65 were sold right around the country over the course of 366 days – lucky to have that extra day too.
Tyre durability and performance are really important factors in how a car handles and steers. Many of us are happy to just jump inside our cars, turn the key and drive away with little thought given to tyre performance, science and design. On the side of your tyre are a whole lot of numbers that mean lots of different things. Let’s take a look at the most important ones.
When it comes to a tyre, size really is significant. Ultimately, you want the right size tyre for your car. The car’s designer engineers have tested and proven the right size tyre for you particular car’s design. So getting it wrong here really makes a huge difference to the way your car handles safely. What do the numbers mean? Using an example of a 235/45/17 tyre, these numbers tell us that the tyre’s width is 235 mm. The next number to consider is 45; and this figure is a percentage figure that tells us the height of the tyre wall. So the height of the tyre wall is 45% of the width of the tyre. The width of the tyre in this example is 235 mm, so the height of the tyre’s side wall is 45% of 235 mm which equates to 105.75 mm.
Late last year, shortly before Christmas, the Federal Government released three draft proposals that seek to improve the fuel efficiency of Australian vehicles. As part of the proposed measures designed to make our vehicles cleaner, an overhaul in standards would seek to align local regulations with those found in Europe. Currently, Australia is ranked last among 35 OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) nations for petrol quality.
While being touted as a move that could eliminate 65 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions before 2030, and also potentially affording motorists’ savings upwards of $500 per year in fuel costs, not everyone is cheering the news.
With seeing the New Year in auto enthusiasts can get a bit of a spring in their step as they anticipate the new models of car that will be on sale. This year we’ll be seeing numerous new models for sale in Australia. Here’s the ‘’heads-up’’ for what’s coming.
The first quarter of 2017 will see the arrival of the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi S4 sedan and S4 Avant wagon, Mazda MX-5 RF, Mercedes Benz AMG E43, Mercedes-Benz E350e, Nissan GT-R Nismo, Skoda Superb Sportline, Toyota C-HR, Holden limited-edition Commodores, Holden Trax, Kia Rio, Suzuki Ignis, Maserati Levante, Porsche 911 GTS, the new BMW 5 Series and the Toyota Yaris facelift.
Jaguar’s F-Type caused a stir when it was released and now it’s set to do the same with a world first in video technology. Here’s what they have to say.
“Every F-TYPE now features the Touch Pro infotainment system. Its super-fast responses, intuitive tablet-style operation, intelligent navigation functions such as Share ETA and online services such as real-time traffic and live weather reports make every journey more rewarding and put a world of information at the driver’s fingertips.
Ford’s forthcoming Escape brings that nameplate full circle, replacing the Kuga which replaced the Escape. It’s part of Ford’s global naming strategy but also brings a kit bag full of technology. Here’s the lowdown on the 2017 Escape.When compared with the current Ford Kuga model, the Escape will have a sharper recommended Manufacturer’s List Price (‘MLP’) of $28,490* for the entry level model, a new front-wheel drive 1.5-litre Trend model further heightening appeal. The Escape range offers families a suite of advanced Driver Assist Technologies (DAT). Seven airbags, Dynamic Stability Control, Rollover Mitigation, Reverse Camera and sensors will be standard on every Escape. SYNC® 3^ – Ford’s all-new communications and entertainment system – featuring faster performance, intuitive smartphone-like full-colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay#, Android Auto# compatibility and embedded sat-nav is standard across the range.Key changes for Escape over the Ford Kuga include:
- Refreshed design inside and out for a distinctive look.
- Improved specification including paddle-shifters on auto Escape, building on the fun-to-drive ethos.
- Improved fuel economy for 2.0-litre models thanks to automatic start/stop as standard, reducing running costs.
- New FWD 1.5-litre Escape Trend fills the gap in Ford’s line-up, providing a variant that almost one-third of customers in this segment choose.
- Sharper starting MLP of $28,490.
The new Escape features Ford’s latest design language for a bold and sporty look that is shared with fellow Ford SUVs, including the global Ford Edge. A large upper trapezoidal two-bar grille and a smaller lower grille are flanked by sleek new headlamps incorporating Daytime Running Lights, complemented by stylish fog lamps.
Toyota has further boosted the safety technology for its Corolla hatch with three new leading-edge technologies available across the range.
The package – pre-collision safety system with forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, lane departure alert and automatic high beam – is now standard equipment on the top-of-the range $30,0201 ZR hatch.