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Archive for May, 2016

Private Fleet Car Review: 2016 Hyundai Elantra Active

2016 Hyundai Elantra Active profile 1The 2016 Hyundai Elantra was released in Australia in the first quarter of 2016. A sedan only throughout its history, and originally known as Lantra in Australia when first brought here, one of its design features continues into the 2016 Hyundai Elantra range. A Wheel Thing had a week getting to know the latest entrant, in Active spec.2016 Hyundai Elantra Active frontThe recent freshen up brings to the Elantra Hyundai’s corporate face, with the stand alone hexagonal grille plus a pair of chin mounted spoilers with airvents to the front wheel wells but now also adds in, at the rear in the tail lights, the squared off oval inserts linking the long nosed, short tailed, Elantra, to the long nosed, short tailed, flagship Genesis. The bootlid has a slight upward sweep, effectively creating a spoiler in the design, noticeable when seen in profile.2016 Hyundai Elantra Active tail lights There’s redesigned headlights to complement the grille, including the now signature LED Daytime Running Lights or DRLs, in a sweeping, C shaped curve, on the outside on the cluster. Halogen driving lights are buried in each corner, inside the plastic for the air vents added.2016 Hyundai Elantra Active head lightsIn profile, the previously mentioned long nose/short tail is what has become the design signature; in effect, it’s almost a coupe look and manages to make the Elantra look bigger than it is. At just 4570 mm in length it still manages to cram in an astounding 2700 mm wheelbase, maximising interior space. Leg room is quoted as 1073 mm front and 976 mm rear, with 1427 mm and 1405 mm shoulder room, as a result.2016 Hyundai Elantra Active front cabinUnder the bonnet is a a frighteningly lacklustre 2.0 litre petrol engine. There’s a frankly pathetic 112 kW and 192 torques, with the latter achieved at 4000 revs and covering a range of just 500 rpm, from 3500. This here is the Elantra’s biggest failing, with the sole saving grace (performance wise) being the fuel economy for the highway. A Wheel Thing brimmed the tank before an overnight run to Canberra and back, with a best figure of just 5.9L per 100 kilometres consumed. Tank size? 50 litres. 2016 Hyundai Elantra Active engineAnd it’s one of those that narrows at the bottom so the range drops quicker as fuel is consumed, once you reach 1/4 of a tank. Hyundai quotes 5.6L on the highway cycle, 9.8L for the urban and 7.1L combined for the manual, with the auto seeing 5.5L, 10.1L and 7.2L. Given the majority of sales would be for people living in the city, that urban figure would potentially see sub 500 kilometres per tank…

The trip to Canberra was undertaken with mostly cruise control engaged, specifically to see how the economy would work. At 110 kmh indicated, the rev counter hovered around 2000 or so. It also exposed flaws with the cruise control’s program, as it turned out. A certain speed was selected yet somehow the Elantra had issues with adhering to that, with variances of over five kmh and on the side of the “Excuse me sir, why were you speeding?”, most noticeably climbing and descending the slopes the highway has.

It would also hold a gear, around third or fourth, for too long, with revs around the 3500 mark being the norm. A prod of the go pedal was required in order to get the transmission to move back or forth. Using paddle shifts in the Active was out of the question, as the Active doesn’t have them fitted.2016 Hyundai Elantra Active dashCabin wise, the Active lacks pop, fizzle, a reason to draw eyeballs. Some of the layout and switch gear looks as if it’s been lifted from Kia’s Optima of three years ago. The centre stack, holding the seven inch touchscreen, (with apps including Apple CarPlay, with Android’s version due later in 2016) has a faint hint of bronze or gold in the aluminuim surround, whilst the switchgear has a satin finish. Ergonomics are a hightlight, with clear placement and lettering. The radio lacks RDS and also looks dated with a radio dial image when listening to AM/FM. There are Auxiliary inputs, however.2016 Hyundai Elantra Active consoleThe steering wheel is lever operated for reach and tilt, the seats are manually operated and to get a comfortable driving position means ducking the head when using the sun visor, thanks to the steeply raked front screen. The seats themselves are comfortable enough, with a plain charcoal cloth trim in the Active and enough hip bolstering for most. There’s two cup holders in the centra console and a bottle holder in each door. 2016 Hyundai Elantra Active rear cabinThere’s also a sizeable cargo space, hidden by the Elantra’s couple styling, of 458 litres. That’s getting towards large car territory and can be increased (with that 458 litres actually a tad smaller than the outgoing model due to the revised rear suspension) thanks to the 60/40 split fold rear seats. Oddly, the Active’s boot can NOT be accessed without either the key fob or a cabin switch, as there’s no opening button on the exterior at all.2016 Hyundai Elantra Active boot2016 Hyundai Elantra Active rearThe plastics are hard to the touch, with enough of a print variance to break up the styling. The driver sees a plain, simple, pair of dials for speed and revs, with a monochrome info screen bisecting them, showing range, consumption and distance covered.

What the Elantra does have is a very good ride. Again, Hyundai Australia and Hyundai Korea have worked solidly in providing a ride quality that is well and truly in there for class leading. Something like 50 different combinations were trialled, front and rear, for damper and springs, and it shows. A good test is finding an undulating road and seeing how quickly the rebound is damped out.

It’s sometimes a bit soft but that may have been the tyre pressure and yes, the rear did feel as if it hit the bump stops sometimes (with two in the rear seats and some luggage) however it’s a sweet, comfortable, very controlled and controllable ride. Effectively, there’s more poise than a driver in its target market will ever need to exploit.

Handling was very good, predictable, with understeer easily sorted by a prod of the go pedal to plant the nose and bring the Elantra back to a neutral line. There’s good weight to the steering and the nose tracks truly on variable road surfaces, again due to the well sorted suspension. 2016 Hyundai Elantra Active wheelBeing in the small car class, the Elantra Active is shod appropriately, with 205/55/16 rubber From Hankook. There’s plenty of grip and pushed hard into very tight turns, there’s barely a squeal and no sensation of the running wide until the accelerator gets pushed harder. What was noticeable was the appreciable road noise on the coarse chip sections on the Hume, loud enough to overcome the audio and conversation levels. You’ll get lifetime capped servicing costs, unlimited kilometre warranty (or five years), a year’s worth of complimentary road side assist and a free firsts ervice at 1500 kilometres. You’ll also get the basics in regards to electronic safety, such as Traction Control, Stability Control, Hill Start Assist and four rear parking sensors plus there’s, surprisingly at this level, auto headlights.2016 Hyundai Elantra Active profile 2
At The End Of The Drive.

There’s word already of Hyundai adding the turbo engine to the range, for an Elantra SR. It needs it. Torque is what gets a car going and gets called upon for uphill runs; the Elantra desperately needs more torque. A larger fuel tank, even by ten litres, would go a long way to adding some peace of mind on the consumption stakes. In Active trim, it’s a staid, but functional interior and doesn’t really add anything to excite the eyes. Hyundai need to move with the others, audio wise, and add RDS to their head units plus redesign the screen look as well.

The cruise control issue was wholly unexpected and luckily not shown in the presence of police, not that there were many to be seen on the freeway between Sydney and Canberra for a long weekend holiday. The ride and handling, however, ease the pain, with A Wheel Thing feeling only barely tired from the three hours between Sydney and Canberra.

What you will get is possibly the best handling car in its class for the Australian market. There’s the Corolla, Mazda 3, Focus and Jetta to consider, but it’s a firm bet the Elantra will more than hold its own against them, and the others in the class.

Price wise you’re looking at just under $24K for the Active auto (a $2300 premium over the manual) plus on roads. It makes the Active good if not outstanding value BUT you do get a great handling and pretty looking car. Here’s the link for you to check out: 2016 Hyundai Elantra

The SUV 40 mpg Club

It’s a growing trend that more and more of us are choosing to buy a new SUV vehicle over a more conventional sedan or wagon.  There is a lot of sense in buying these as they usually perform well in crash testing, have a higher ride height, often offer more room and practicality, and are comfortable.  Having AWD is nice for the odd light off-road excursion, but how good are they on fuel though?

There is a load of new SUV vehicles available, but interestingly there are an increasing number of relatively fuel efficient SUVs coming onto the market.  A true SUV is one that is described as being a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV).  It’s a vehicle that is similar to a station wagon or estate car but comes, more often than not, equipped with four-wheel drive for both good on-road or off-road capability.  Some of the best fuel efficiency is not always associated with diesel engines.  Some hybrid vehicles and even petrol versions can be amazingly frugal, too.

Let’s see what are the most fuel efficient SUVs in the real world; SUVs that you can currently buy on the market and are able to obtain 7 litres/100 litres or 40 mpg.  But bear in mind that it’s hard to relate a Mini Countryman or even a Fiat 500X with an SUV label, even though their manufacturers think that they fall into the mini SUV bracket.  If a vehicle is going to be an SUV it really has to be able to perform the utility side of the deal, like being able to take plenty of luggage and occupants on or off-road or even be able to tow a trailer without looking stupidly overladen and out of puff.  Realistically, to have a useful SUV you need one that has a strong chassis, good space and at least a modest bit of grunt under the bonnet.  So with this in mind, you may not find the likes of a mini hatch on steroids seriously considered as part of this mix of possible fuel efficient SUVs.

Here are some of the top picks that I’ve managed to put together that, in the real world, are returning around 7 litres/100 km or better – that’s equivalent to 40 mpg on average.

Audi offer the Q3 with a punchy 2.0 TDI engine in either 140 or 150 kW output.  Both of these models are very stylish and comfortable.  Packed with features and handy off-road, the Q3 is definitely a real compact SUV and one that can frugally carry you about at better than 40 mpg.

audi q3 2016

Any of the BMW X1 Diesel powered models are truly remarkably frugal compact SUVs.  Each of these in the real world can get well under 7 litres/100 km.  The much larger X5 sDrive25d has loads of space and off-road ability – not to mention comfort and performance.  This is returning 7.5 litres/100 km not far from the magical 40 mpg, so if you are wanting heaps of AWD/off-road potential and space, the BMW X5 sDrive25d should be on your radar.   There is also the attractive and capable BMW X3 18d and X3 20d that are hitting way better than the 40 mpg mark in the real world.

bmw x1 2016

Ford’s 2.0 TDCi engine is used in the very good Ford Kuga compact SUV.  All the usual luxury features are available in this handy soft-off-roader.  Nice dynamics and comfort levels make this a great alternative, practical SUV.  Most FWD Kuga models with the 2.0 TDCi engine are easily bettering 7 litres/100 km in the real world.

ford kuga 2016

Hyundai Tucson’s 1.7-litre CRDi is proving very efficient.  This is a sharp looking, well-priced drive.  The 2.0-litre CRDi AWD is not far off the 40 mpg mark, too.  These AWD versions are good off-road, so be in and enjoy.


Superbly equipped for tough 4WD challenges, the all-conquering Jeep Cherokee is a roomy and comfortable 4WD, large SUV that is returning better than the 7 litres/100 km when equipped with the 2.0 CRD engine.  This is as good as it gets for efficiency, comfort and tough off-roading.  Jeep also has the new Renegade that is roomy, very capable off-road and provides exceptional fuel efficiency with the 1.6 Multijet turbo-diesel engine – built by Fiat.  The Jeep Compass boasts a powerful 2.2-litre diesel engine that hits on or close to 40 mpg in the real world.  This model has full time AWD, the strong chain cam 2.2-litre diesel engine, and decent handling and grip.  One would suggest the Jeeps are well worth a look if you need to get out in the bush and bash occasionally.

jeep cherokee 2016

I’m really pleased to find that the new Land Rover 2.0 litre TD4 engine has the goods in the real world to match 40 mpg.  The engine is providing the classy looking Range Rover Evoque with 7 litres/100 km efficiency.  Of course, you can head Outback with this one – such is the superior off-road capability of the Evoque.  And, when you are way Outback in the Evoque, you’ll be doing the hard yards in premium comfort.

Aintree Green – Metallic

A winner as an efficient compact SUV in the real world is the Nissan’s Qashqai.  To drive, the new Qashqai is one of the best crossovers.  Running with punchy and very frugal 1.5 dCi and 1.6 dCi turbo-diesel engines that emit very little carbon, you are promised way better than 7.0 litres/100 km regularly.  A comfortable interior, top features and a quiet ride is part of the Nissan Qashqai experience.  Again, Nissan have the remarkably practical, roomy and comfortable Nissan X-Trail that tackles any off-road terrain fully laden.  The X-Trail uses the 1.6 dCi turbo-diesel engine used in the Qashqai.  These are highly recommended efficient SUV drives.

Nissan X-Trail

Subaru has the legendary Forester that is now even more efficient than ever with their new 2.0-litre diesel powering it.  This is a capable soft-roader SUV.  It is well equipped and spacious.  You can pull a trailer and the vehicle cruises well at speed.  Definitely, the Subaru Forester 2.0D is a real useful wagon that boasts a decent drive.  Proving to be both very fuel efficient and reliable, the Forester 2.0D needs to be on your list of frugal SUV wagons to check out.  The Lineartronic 2.0i Forester petrol version is not far off the magical 40 mpg mark either – just thought I’d throw that in there.  If you need even more space, the very comfortable and capable Subaru Outback 2.0D is excellent on secondary roads and for light off-roading duties.  The wagon is spacious and solidly built.  Also, for something a little different and in the mould of the Nissan Qashqai but with more power, the 2.0D Subaru XV is vailable, too.  Do check out any of these Subaru models with the smooth Lineartronic gearbox.

subaru forester 20d 2016

The new Toyota Rav4 2.0-litre and 2.2-litre turbo-diesels are very durable, comfortable and genuine medium-size SUVs.  Get one with either of these engines and you have yourself a tough, off-roader with handy practicality and style.  Both engines return better than 7.0 litres/100 km on a regular, real-world basis.


Volvo XC60 models with the D3 and D4 engines are solid SUVs with premium safety, luxury and comfort.  All XC60s are very capable off-road and can pull a decent load on a trailer.  And with around 7.0 litres/100 km in the real world, the Volvo XC60 is a highly desirable, luxurious SUV drive.  Again, the Volvo XC70 is a smart-looking high-riding AWD wagon with a decent level of off-road ability.  It is comfortable, safe and practical, and again is available with engines that put it in the frugal SUV bracket bettering 40 mpg with Volvo’s D3, D4 and 2.4D engines.  The hybrid Volvo XC90 T8 is the super luxurious SUV that everyone will want.  Truly a magnificent and award winning vehicle, the very powerful, incredibly refined and quiet drive boasts a premium high quality cabin with room for seven.  Even with standard features, the XC90 T8 is lavish.  This is a big, roomy, luxurious, safe and efficient real-world efficient SUV.

volvo xc90 t8

The new Honda CR-V models with 1.6 and 2.2 litre iDTEC diesel engines are highly efficient in the real-world.  Expect great build quality, comfort, luxury and punchy performance.  The other beauty of the new CR-V is that they are reliable and relatively well priced.  The diesel engines are impressively refined and quiet.  This is another highly recommended SUV that’s efficiently returning well above the 40 mpg mark.  Even the 2WD 2.0 iVTEC petrol version is very close to meeting 40 mpg – just to let you know.


Kia has the Sportage compact SUV that, when fitted with the 1.7 CRDi or similar, and in 2WD form slips into the 7.0 litre/100 km on average.  These are a nice vehicle to drive, are stylish and have good quality features all round.

kia sportage 1.7 crdi

Mercedes Benz has nice looking SUV vehicles, and there are a few of them which can happily return 40 mpg in everyday use.  The new GLC220d and GLC250d with their automatic gearboxes have excellent refinement and a very composed ride on any surface.  You have superb luxury that is of the highest quality.  It has the goods to tackle some tougher off-road work, and it seats four in amazing comfort.

mercedes benz glc suv diesel

Mitsubishi has a really nice SUV that is stylish, very modern and economical.  The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle and is the first SUV of its kind anywhere in the world.  With its all-electric i-Miev technology, space and the legendary off-road ability of the Pajero, the Outlander is a fantastic vehicle that easily betters the 40 mpg mark.  The Outlander is a comfortable and solid real SUV type vehicle with five-star safety.  The 2.2 turbo-diesel engine that is also fitted in the Outlander comes very close to meeting 7 litres/100 km, as well.  Also, the Mitsubishi ASX SUV is a compact SUV with a solid build quality, impressive fuel economy, plenty of room for five plus luggage.  It also boasts a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and is decent value for money.  There is a 1.6-litre petrol, 1.6-litre Diesel and 1.8-litre Diesel that all meet the fuel economy mark we’re after. Check the Mitsubishi SUVs out!


Suzuki has the ever-ready Vitara.  The new Vitara is smaller, lighter, more refined, more economical and better to drive than its predecessor.  It also boasts a five-star Euro NCAP rating.  Both the 1.6-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel variants meet the magical 7 litres/100 km in everyday driving.  The sharp styling looks great, while the vehicle’s off-road ability is excellent.


Mazda has their fabulous CX-5 models that come with a 2.0-litre petrol or a 2.2-litre diesel engine, both of which will get you 40 mpg and better on real-world drives.  Dynamic styling and loaded with features, these are very nice to drive.  The larger Mazda CX-7 SUV looks amazing and handles extremely well for a 4×4.  Off-road excursions are a breeze for this big comfy model.  It’s the 2.2-litre diesel that meets, or gets very close, to the 40 mpg target we’re all after for economic SUV travel.

mazda-cx-7 2016

Looking into Peugeot’s showroom reveals that the 2008 is a handy SUV that, with Grip Control, can get over some pretty slippery surfaces – perfect for heading off to the snow.  Its upmarket styling is striking and unique – both inside and out.  Peugeot’s frugal engine range (diesel and petrol) and low running costs gives this model the big tick for economic SUV transport.  There’s also decent space for adults in the back, and excellent luxury features.

peugeot 2008

All diesel engines that power the modern and capable Renault Koleos SUV hit the magical 40 mpg mark.  The cam chain diesels are smooth and the ride very comfortable.  The elegant styling looks nice, too.

renault koleos 2014

Volkswagen has their stylish Tiguan SUV that is comfortable to ride in.  The 2.0-litre TDI Diesel engine is particularly economical when linked to the Tiguan drivetrain.  This is a decent SUV with a smooth diesel automatic option, and AWD versions are capable off-road.  Volkswagen’s Passat Alltrack wagon is classy and remarkably capable off the beaten track, and it’s also blessed with the 2.0-litre TDI engine for frugal performance.


If I’ve missed any other models that should be in the 40 mpg or 7 litres/100 km club, let us know.  Hope this helps, too…