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The Electric Cat Wins EV Award

Infrastructure is expanding, understanding of the technology is increasing, and more brands are getting into the electric car field. Once renowned for sports cars and luxury cars, Jaguar is one of those companies. Their new i-Pace has recently been named Top Gear Magazine’s Electric Vehicle of the year, with the car racking up 19 awards in 2018.

It’s powered by a pair of bespoke electric engines that develop 400 horsepower and 696Nm of torque. 0-100 time is 4.5 seconds thanks to its all wheel drive and lightweight architecture. Getting the car underway with a drained battery takes just 40 minutes to an 80% charge level at a charging station, or, like virtually all buyers would do, a home charger will do that overnight. Expected range is 470 kilometres, enough to travel from Sydney to Canberra comfortably and take advantage of the charging stations there.

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Yellow Or Blue: The Question That Exposed Dangerous Drivers

This picture, put into circulation by the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland, asked what really should have been a simple question to answer. Of the four cars pictured, which has the right of way?

Surprisingly, an overwhelming amount of respondents to the question, shared by us also, said the blue car.  Straight away this raises an issue that should have the politicians and heads of traffic police investigating better driver education and training.

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Car Review: 2019 Peugeot 3008 Allure.

Peugeot’s 2018 3008, an award winning vehicle, is a second generation, extensively reworked version of the 3008 and facelifts released originally in 2008, with the second generation from 2016. We test the 2019 spec Peugeot 3008 Allure, priced at just under $41K plus on road costs.Power is supplied by a torquey 1.6L petrol engine, with 1400 revs seeing 240Nm being available thanks to a low pressure turbo. With 6000 rpm on the tacho, peak power is 121kW. Transmission is a six speed DCT. Peugeot quotes combined fuel economy as 7.0 & 7.3L per 100 kilometres, with city cycle driving as 9.8L & 10.1L per 100 kilometres. The two figures are quoted due to the Grip Control being off or on. Grip Control is a choice of drive modes for differing surfaces, and activated via a dial in the forward centre console.The actual driving experience varies from slightly frustrating to a lot of fun. Frustrating because of the delay in engagement from park to reverse to Drive, to grin inducing pull from low revs as the 3008 Allure sets sail. The changes are crisp, swift, smooth, in hte transmission when under way and manually changing does sharpen them further.

The Allure is a stylish machine, with the underpinnings a new platform called EMP2 that allows a superb ride and handling package. Steering, for example, is razor sharp in its responsiveness off centre, with a quarter turn or so having the nose swing round quickly. At speed the variable ratio steering lightens up and there’s less effort required to work.The ride on the 18 inch alloys, with 225/55 Continentals as the rubber, is beautifully tuned and balanced. There’s a suppleness that’s rare to find in anything other than mid to high end luxury cars, with an initial give that is followed by a progressive compression that stops before the bump-stops in all but the heaviest push over larger speed-bumps.

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The Right Car For Your Dog Part 2

OK, in my previous post on this topic, I covered the legal stuff to do with taking dogs in cars.  Now we get to the fun bit: what sort of vehicle suits your furry friend.  Or friends, as the case may be.

When I first started thinking about matching dogs to cars, I just about wrote sedans (saloons) off from the start.  After all, you don’t really want a dog on the back seat standing up where it can snuffle down the back of your neck while you’re driving.  Nor do you want to have scratchy doggy paws on lovely Nappa leather seats, because that would wreck them (the seat upholstery, I mean, not the paws!).  However, I remember taking the Staffordshire Bull Terrier we used to have (RIP, old fellow!) in a sedan without any trouble.  He was quite happy curling up in the footwell for most trips and didn’t try to sit on people’s laps (unlike the current bitzer).  During longer trips, we also put him in one of those doggy carrying crates that sat nicely between my two children in the back seat of the sedan we had back then (probably a Ford Fairmont), which had the added advantage of stopping them hitting each other during long trips.  What’s more, if you do have a sedan with leather seats in your possession already when you acquire a new puppy, there’s no need to sell the car – you can put down a nice blanket or doggy bed for Fido to occupy during the trip.

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Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Suzuki Swift GL Navigator

Good things come in small packages is a phrase that’s been around forever, it seems. And never more was it an apt phrase for a car than it is for the Suzuki Swift. It’s under four metres in length, has a driveaway price of $16990, has just five gears in a manual transmission, a 1.2L engine, and 66kW. And it’s a helluva fun car to punt around. We test the 2019 Suzuki Swift GL Navigator.The range has been rationalised somewhat, with the Swift GL dropped and the once middle of the range Navigator now the entry level. Above that sits the Navigator with optional safety pack, GLX, and Swift Sport

The car reviewed has a five speed manual and it takes a bit of getting used to. Not because it’s a manual but because there is almost no spring pressure on the gate’s mechanism. It’s limp, weak, and almost void of any real feel through the changes. That’s matched by a clutch pedal feel of pretty much the same. There’s no weight (just like the car at 870kg dry), no real pressure required to push it down.But once both are recognised for their foibles, they mesh quite well, and it really only took an hour or so to get the hang of how and where to utilise the pair in their movements. They also work well with the small engine. The 1.2L DualJet engine has just 120 torques and that comes at 4400 rpm. Simply put, it means that a bit of gear rowing is required, as is a bit of patience in regards to forward motion. The upside is economy, and Suzuki quotes around 4.5L/100km for the combined cycle. It needs to be economical as the fuel thimble holds just 37 litres. On our test the car, literally brand new at 11 kilometres on pick up, covered 300 kilometres on a half tank.Acceleration is leisurely, at best, however once the engine reaches 3000rpm the characteristics change noticeably. There’s a change of note, urge, as it is, increases, and it feels as if it spins just a bit easier. The five speed sometimes feels as if an extra gear would be handy however considering fifth sees around 2000rpm at highway speeds, it wouldn’t have the required torque to take advantage of it.On coarse chip roads the lack of sound insulation isn’t just noticeable, it’s painful. The constant drone, and drumming, from the 185/55/16 rubber transmitted to the cabin via the MacPherson struts and torsion beam suspension, would drown out normal levels of conversation and radio, AM/FM only by the way. On the smoother blacktops it was naturally quieter and also ramped up the fun factor in the drive. The comparatively big wheelbase, 2450mm, inside the tiny body length, 3840mm, means the Swift is very chuckable in corners, with an almost point and shoot handling style. The short travel suspension did mean some bumps crashed through, but the overall result is grin inducing…in the right hands.The Swift itself underwent a mild transformation externally over a year ago, with a look more akin to the Baleno thanks to pumped out tail lights and reshaped headlights. the fun factor is shown by the front end having a “smile” thanks to the horizontal lower grille and upturned corners. These house LED driving lights and bracket a wide hexagonal grille.Inside it’s basic, but functional. The dash’s upper section has the Euro inspired sweep from the curve of the windscreen through to the doors, and that’s mirrored in a curve closer to the binnacle that houses a simple pair of dials and a relatively underused monochrome info screen. It shows trip and fuel consumption, and that’s it. The touchscreen is simple to use, uncomplicated in its usage, and sits above traditional dial and slide aircon controls. The audio system is moderate in quality but does have Auxiliary/USB, Bluetooth and voice control, plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

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Isn’t It Ioniq, Asks Hyundai?

Korea‘s Hyundai has released details of their new-to-market hybrid Ioniq. A three drive mode choice of purely electric, battery and petrol engine, and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) offer versatility in a shapely four door coupe’ style.

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Range Rover Evoques Emotion.

Jaguar Land Rover have released details of the forthcoming Range Rover Evoque. It will feature some groundbreaking technology including a world first that was first showcased in 2014.Called ClearSight Ground View, cameras in the front grille and on the door mirrors project a feed onto the touchscreen to show what is ahead of and underneath the front of the vehicle with a virtual 180-degree view.  An added extra to the new Evoque is also visual, with the smart rear view mirror changing to a HD screen at the touch of a button. A rear mounted camera offers a 50 degree field of vision and assists in low vision situations.Outside, the Evoque has been given a makeover, with subtle reshaping of the sheetmetal, new slimline LED headlights, new slimline rear lights, and recessed door handles. The glasshouse is slimmer yet not compromising when it comes to all-round vision. The revamped exterior has a match inside, with upgraded trim and redesigned dash for better ergonomics. The twin touchscreen and capacitive switches of the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system are the focal point of the interior environment. Wireless of over-the-air software updates will ensure Evoque is always at the forefront of technology for the driving systems.There is a new wheelbase for the Evoque to roll on. That’s yielded extra legroom and a small but usable increase in centre console storage space. The redesign has created extra luggage space, now up to 591L, with a wider entrance allowing easier loading and removal of cargo. Drop the rear seats and cargo goes up to 1383L. Foot room has also been improved, thanks to revised seat mount positioning.The chassis has been engineered to accept a hybrid drive. A 48-volt mild-hybrid available at launch and a plug-in hybrid model offered around 12 months afterwards. The mild hybrid works on energy recovery and kicks in when the car is accelerating. This powertrain will be available with the new Ingenium diesels and the 221kW/400Nm petrol four. A PHEV or Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle is currently slated for late 2019.

Being part of the Range Rover family means off roading is a natural. Wading depth is up to 600mm and with Terrain Response 2, the all wheel drive system will automatically sense the surface the Evoque is driving on and adapt automatically. Massive 21 inch wheels will provide a huge footprint.This smart theme continues with Smart Settings; it’s a learning system, effectively a butler wearing an AI suit. Items such as the driving position,  music choices, and climate control settings. Even seat massage settings will be learned by the Smart Settings as will the position of the steering column.

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Porsche On A Mission E

Porsche Mission E

Porsche Mission E Interior

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Ford Focuses More By Getting Active.

Ford’s Focus continues to expand and impress with the release of the 2019 Ford Focus Active. To be priced from $29,990 plus ORC, and built on Ford’s new C2 architecture, the Focus Active is a dedicated attempt at a smaller SUV with the ability to so some soft-roading. Think Subaru’s XV and you’d be close to the mark. The new body design provides an extra 20% torsional rigidity and individual suspension points have an extra 50% stiffness.

It will be powered by a 1.5L EcoBoost engine with 134kW & 240Nm of torque. The transmission is an eight speed auto, to be available through a five trim level range of four hatches and one wagon. Economy is quoted as 6.4L/100 kilometres for the combined cycle. A new two mode drive system is fitted, with a choice of Slippery and Trail. The former is for ice and snow, the latter for dirt and sand.Options are premium paint at $650, Driver Assistance Pack at $1250 which has items such as Adaptive Cruise Control and Blind Spot Information System, Head Up Display at $300, and a Panoramic Roof at $2000. Active Park Assist and Design Pack are $1000 and $1800 respectively.Outside, the Ford Focus Active has an extra 34mm of ground clearance, 17 inch alloys, front and rear skid plates, and a bespoke front bumper with adaptive cornering LEDs. A stylish honeycomb grille, LED Daytime Running Lights, an Active specific rear and twin pipes round out the look. The Design Pack bumps the alloys to 18 inches, and adds Adaptive headlights with LEDs, and privacy glass.

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Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Subaru Forester 2.5-i

Subaru‘s recently revamped Forester range has four trim levels. There is the 2.5i, 2.5i-L, the Premium recently reviewed, and the top of the range 2.5i-S. Subaru is on a winner with the revamp due to the room inside, the station wagon looks, and the excellent stand list of equipment. We reviewed the entry level 2.5-i version, priced at just over $38K drive-away, directly after the Premium.Mechanically the Foresters are identical. Subaru’s much vaunted Symmetrical All Wheel Drive partners with a 90% new 2.5-L petrol engine. Gone is the diesel and at the time of writing there is a hint of late 2019 for anything hybrid. All transmissions are CVTs and come with a very well sorted seven step Lineartronic programming. The engines are all the same and the 2.5-i was driven in a more urban based environment compared to the Premium. Consumption was never over 8.0L/100km with the final figure ticking off 7.9L/100km of standard unleaded from the 63L tank.The X-Mode drive system is standard throughout the range. The X-Mode is a system that acts directly on engine power, all-wheel drive, torque sharing at each wheel and on the brakes.With X-Mode activated, traction control becomes more sensitive. The computer will then react faster in the event that a wheel loses adhesion. It will look at which wheel it will be best to transfer the power of the engine to get out of the most difficult situations. The downhill grip control (HDC) analyzes the situation and manages braking below a speed of 20 km / h. By applying wheel-to-wheel braking, the system will allow the driver to release the brake pedal and focus only on the best direction to take.All Foresters ride on a well proven combination of McPherson struts and coil springs up front, with an independent double wishbone rear. The entry level 2.5-i felt slightly softer in tune than the Premium, with a sense of momentarily slower rebound and an ever so slightly plusher ride. But only marginally. The Tyre Pressure Monitoring System that is standard across the range also indicated the rears to be slightly less inflated that the front, oddly enough. The ride feel may have been down to the slightly different wheel and tyre combination, with 225/60/17s.Around town the Forester turned out to need a bit more of a poke of the fly-by-wire throttle to get going. In comparison to the country driven Premium, the low end of the rev range was found wanting, This contributed to the higher fuel consumption, as it does for any car driven purely in a suburban environment. There’s a sense of lag, almost like waiting for a large, single, turbo to spool up, before the CVT bites and gets the Forester underway.In traffic it’s a well balanced machine, with steering light but not fingertip twirly. It’s weighted just enough to need a small measure of push/pull, body roll in lane changing is minimal, but the tyres chosen from Bridgestone didn’t feel as if their wet weather grip was really up to the task either.Each of the corners have an independent braking sensor, and the pedal is instantly responsive to the touch. It’s a confident and positive system, pulling up the Forester straight and true consistently. In conjunction with the EyeSight forward monitoring safety system and pedestrian calibrated Autonomous Emergency Braking, it’s a very safe feeling the Forester provides.

Naturally there are the mandated safety systems such as Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist, Traction Control and the Active Torque Vectoring. Subaru has fitted Swivelling Headlights to all models and that can be disabled. That’s part of the Vision Assist package which includes Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Change Assist, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.Instrumentation isn’t that different, being largely confined to the smaller 6.3 inch touchscreen in the dash, which is surrounded by high gloss piano black, and missing out on the Driver Monitoring System that the other three receive. That’s an infra-red scanner mounted in the upper centre dash binnacle that scans the driver’s face, looking for signs of inattention and tiredness.Interior trim is a bit more subdued than the Premium.There is less brightwork in the cabin but that’s balanced by the lighter shade of material used for the roof lining. It’s a shade somewhere between bone and cream, and enhances the otherwise austere look of the varying textures of black plastic. The seats are fully cloth covered, and have a interesting logo style pattern in the weave.The extra interior room comes courtesy of the subtle pulling and stretching of the chassis and sheet metal. The boot opening has been increased by 134mm, cargo by 78L, and floor width by 58mm. Exterior styling also loses a bit of brightwork, particularly in the lower bumper surrounds for the driving lights. The tail gate is manually operated and houses Euro style “C” shaped lights previously embedded in the outer cluster. Polyurethane wheel arch covers and sill coverings provide both extra protection and a neutral colour to contrast the sheetmetal. Up front Subaru has given the Forester a bluffer, more upright, nose.

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