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Archive for February, 2017

Fuzzy Dice And Other Watchacallums

Mascots?  Decorations?  Danglers?  Actually, the English language doesn’t have an actual name for those ornaments that hang from the rear view mirror.  Fuzzy dice are the iconic examples but the furry cubes aren’t the only things we’ve seen.  As this post is going to discuss them and it’s going to be boring to type out (and read) “fuzzy dice or other items hanging from the rear view mirror” every time, I’m going to make up a word: danglers.  Danglers will do.

The most important issue relating to danglers is whether or not they are legal.  The powers that be – and rightly so – take exception to anything that obscures the driver’s vision.  According to the Queensland police, anything that gets between you and the arc of the windscreen wipers is considered to block your vision and create a blind spot, and this applies to GPS units and mobile phone mounts as well as danglers (presumably, the heads-up displays that come in some luxury vehicles these days don’t count).  Roads and Maritime Services of NSW suggests that anything swinging and dangling will be distracting but doesn’t actually have any specifications beyond “the driver must have the clearest possible view of the road particularly in poor lighting conditions at dusk, night or while driving in rain.” In Victoria, they get a bit more specific: “Any vehicle presented for a roadworthy inspection with any dangling objects hanging from the rear vision mirror should not be issued with a RWC until the objects are removed.” South Australia’s spec sheet has plenty to say about tinting and TV/DVD screens but nothing about danglers.  It’s definitely illegal in Western Australia to have anything hanging from a rear view mirror (nice to have it spelled out so clearly and plainly!).  Across the ditch in New Zealand, it seems to be OK.

In short, it’s probably best to leave the danglers off.

However, I’m not a total killjoy.  If you can position the danglers where they won’t obscure your vision or hit you in the head, then you can have them.  This means that the danglers are going to have to be small, so those iconic fluffy dice are out.  Nevertheless, there are still plenty of other options.

Where did the tradition of hanging things from the windscreen come from?  Historically and psychologically speaking, the origins of adding decorations to your form of transport are lost in the mists of time.  Ancient Greek triremes had eyes painted on the front, old-fashioned sailing boats had their figureheads, warhorses were decked out with plumes and plough horses had collars covered with brass charms.  Tricking out a car with something for luck or just for fun is just an extension of this.  However, regarding the actual fuzzy dice, folklore has it that this was started by US fighter pilots in World War 2, who hung up the dice for good luck.  Those who came back from the war carried the tradition over to their cars, which is why the fuzzy dice are such a 1950s thing.

Danglers aren’t limited to fuzzy dice.  Even in places where it’s legal, you don’t see too many fuzzy dice, except on cars belonging to retro enthusiasts and a certain type of bogan.  Air fresheners are a lot more popular and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, ranging from things shaped like pine trees and smelling of something described by advertising copywriters as pine trees (but doesn’t really smell like an actual pine tree) through to handmade ceramic or fabric potpourri bags redolent of essential oils.

After that, of course, you are limited only by your imagination, your sense of taste and what’s legal.   A quick glance through Pinterest and similar sites (from jurisdictions where they’re legal, of course) throws up a good range of ideas that fall into two main categories, those for supernatural protection or luck or blessing or something of that sort.  In other words, things that fall into the religious or spiritual category (and I’m including New Age spirituality in here).  Crosses, rosaries, crystals, angels, Native American spirit animals, Hamsa hands, Feng Shui mirrors, medallions of St Christopher (patron saint of travellers)… there are heaps of them to suit any set of beliefs.  Technically, dream catchers would fall into this category but I thought these were only supposed to work for letting good dreams through and keeping nightmares out when you’re asleep… If you’re asleep at the wheel, you’ve got more to worry about than a nightmare, mate.

The second category includes anything that’s hung up there just for fun because you like it and you think it looks nice.  Soft toys, bunches of dried flowers, skulls, you name it.  The powers that be get particularly snippy about these if they’re sparkly (disco balls, for example) because the twinkling and flashing in your eyes is distracting when you’re on the road.

A third category exists: safety signs and reminders.  These are especially understandable in the case of taxis. But make sure that they’re spelled correctly…

 

Focus on your driving… don’t look at this dangler!

 

 

 

My personal preference is not to have anything hanging on the rear view mirror because it can be annoying.  However, there are other places to hang things if you want to pretty up your car and make it yours.  The chicken handles in the rear, the back of the head rests (great if you want to hang up something for a baby to look at during a long car trip), attached to the rear passenger windows with suction pads, clipped onto the air vents… there are plenty of places if you look.  In this department, VW’s New Beetle has to be a winner with the flower vase, acknowledging that drivers might want to add something quirky and fun.

If you live in a place where you can get away with a dangler, do you have fluffy dice or other danglers hanging from your rear view mirror?  What do you have?  Or what have you seen?  If you live somewhere that doesn’t permit danglers, how do you customise your vehicle and where do you put things like air fresheners?

2017 Peugeot 308 Allure: A Private Fleet Car Review:

When the 308’s current iteration was released, it won the 2014 European Car of the Year Award. It was lauded for its use of lightweight composite materials, its fuel efficient engines, and also for the interior, winning the Grand Prize for the Most Beautiful Interior at the 2013 Festival Automobile International. With that in mind, Private Fleet takes on the Peugeot 308 Allure, complete with peppy three cylinder engine.Sitting up front of the 4253 mm hatch is the PureTech turbocharged three cylinder, delivering 96 kilowatts at 5500, and peak torque comes in at 1750 rpm. There’s 230 torques from the 1.2L Euro 6 emission compliant engine, and is bolted to a six speed auto with Sports mode and manual shift via the gear selector. There’s the characteristic off kilter warble of the three cylinder as it hums its way up the rev range. The auto has a combination of dual clutch and CVT feel from stand-still, with a hesitation that intrudes noticeably before engaging and moving the 1125 kilo mass.In Normal mode, the transmission is unsure, indecisive, with clunky changes…sleepy would be a good word. Select manual or Sports, and the difference is startling. The same throttle pressure sees more oomph, more verve, more excitement and the changes are quicker, crisper, sharper, and there’s a sense of more involvement in the experience. Matched with a chassis that leans towards, slightly, the more sporting pretension, and it’s a far better proposition when in Sports than normal. Having no paddle shifts makes no difference to the alacrity of the change. Punch it when under way and again the transmission seems a distant cousin you once knew as being slightly odd but is now ready to flex some intellectual muscle. It’s bang bang bang through the ratios and with barely a physical notification of doing so.It’s a ride and handling package that delights as well, with grip aplenty from the 225/45/17 GoodYear EfficientGrip rubber. They respond well to the slow in/fast out cornering style advocated by performance drivers, combining with a tautish suspension tune, with just enough compliance to give a little luxury to an otherwise sportsmanlike ride. The shopping centre speedhumps do crash through, however, but that’s balanced by the smoothing out of corrigated and undulating roads found between home and the pick-up point near Sydney’s Mascot Airport.Where the 308 Allure does fall down, and badly, is in the connection between car and driver via two very important components: accelerator and brakes. The former, from standstill, is on or off, with no progession between the two, with nothing then a lurch as it tells the gearbox to do something. The brakes require patience and planning as well, with far too much travel before there’s a semblance of bite on the discs. Once on, they will haul down the petite little thing well enough. Ergonomically there’s a query, with the accelerator pedal seemingly too far towards the centre and close to the brake pedal than seems neccessary.Inside it’s a mix of quality and comfort; satin and matt black plastics contrast with a silver, almost aluminuim centre console trim and steering wheel hub spoke, with the seats clad in a charcoal suede trim in the centre and leather elsewhere. The centre section of the dash mirrors the binnacle housing the simple yet informative mechanical dials that bracket a monochrome display screen. The tiller holds basic audio and Bluetooth controls, with a separate stalk for the cruise control. Audio, controlled via the 9.7 inch touchscreen, was clear and punchy, with the Spotify app but lacked DAB. However the Pug stays a bit old school digitally, with a single slot CD player on board.Hill Start Assist is on board, as is cooling for the glove box, plus Tyre Pressure Monitoring. There’s the usual swag of safety programs, six airbags, emergency brake light flash activation, parking assist and sensors, and push button Start Stop. There’s an Electronic Park Brake as standard plus you’ll also get tyre pressure monitoring.
Cargo wise, cup and bottle holders abound and there’s that nearly too small but not quite 435 litres of boot space, which increases to 1274 with rear seats folded. The spare is the now commonplace space saver.Outside it’s familiar Peugeot, with good looking alloys, LED rears and LED driving lights. It’s a swoopy look, with an angular finish to the head and tail light housings joined by a defining line. It’s a strong look, yet just soft enough to broaden the appeal visually. It finishes (or starts) the way the 308 reaches out and sits you down with a comfy cup of tea, such is how the overall package settles around you.Peugeot offer a three year or 100,000 kilometre warranty, 12 months roadside assist, a three year paintwork guarantee and a 12 year corrosion gurantee on their passenger car range.

At The End Of The Drive.
The Peugeot 308 Allure sits mid range and fits in nicely pricewise at just under $33K. As an overall package the Allure is….alluring, however it’s then a question of adapting to the way the drivetrain works and the lack of feedback from the brakes in light usage. It’s a cracking ride and once underway, a cracking drive. Here’s how you can find out more: Configure your 2017 Peugeot 308

Holden’s Final Hurrah: 2017 Range Released.

As Toyota recently confirmed their date for shutdown, Holden’s moving towards their end of manufacturing as well and has released information about the final cars available. There’s been some additions of features, changes in price and deletion of options. Here’s how it looks for the final locally made Holdens.Colours: there’s three new additions, with Light My Fire (orange), Spitfire Green, and Son of a Gun Grey, with the nomenclature harking back to the way colours were named in the 1970s. Metallic paints are listed as a $550 option.

Transmissions: as part of the rationalisation of the range, the venerable six speed manual transmission is virtually extinct, being available only with the V8 sedans and utes. All other cars are available with just the six speed auto.Range: Holden has dropped the SS-V, but has stayed with the SS-V Redline, whilst the Calais Sportwagon has also been dropped. This has the range sitting thus: Evoke sedan/wagon/ute; SV6 sedan/wagon/ute; SS sedan (with manual and auto)/wagon (auto only)/utes (both transmissions); SS-V redline (same structure as SS); Calais sedan (V6 auto only); Calais V (V6 and V8, auto only, sedan and wagon), and the final Caprice (V8 & auto).Features: SV6 gets satnav and HUD (Head Up Display) as standard and will have 18 inch black wheels. The SS will get the same except for 19 inch wheels. SS-V gets more of the black out treatment (grille, fender vents, mirror surrounds, instrument panel & steering wheel, and DRL surrounds), plus “V” embossed sill plates with the ute gaining a blacked out “sports bar”. The Caprice V gets the leather wrapped steerer from the SS-V

Pricing:

2017 Holden Commodore RRPs

Evoke
Sedan AT                                                        $35,490
Sportwagon AT                                               $37,490
Ute AT                                                             $33,490

SV6
Sedan AT                                                        $40,490
Sportwagon AT                                               $42,490
Ute AT                                                             $37,190

SS
Sedan MT                                                       $47,490
Sedan AT                                                        $49,690
Sportwagon AT                                               $51,690
Ute MT                                                            $43,990
Ute AT                                                             $46,190

SS-V Redline
Sedan MT                                                       $54,990
Sedan AT                                                        $57,190
Sportwagon AT                                               $59,190
Ute MT                                                            $52,490
Ute AT                                                             $54,690

Calais
Sedan  V6 AT                                                  $42,540

Calais V
Sedan V6 AT                                                   $48,750
Sedan V8 AT                                                   $56,750
Sportwagon V6 AT                                          $50,750
Sportwagon V8 AT                                          $58,750

Caprice V
LWB Sedan V8 AT                                          $61,490

 HSV has also released details of their final made in Australia cars, including the GTSR W1, complete with 474 kW and a massive 815 Nm of torque. Just 300 will be made and will cost an eyewatering $169990. The range will consist of the ClubSport R8 LSA, the wagon version, the Maloo R8 LSA, Senator Signature and GTS. The latter will have the 435 kW/740 Nm alloy V8 with the others being powered by the slightly detuned 410 kW/691 Nm version.The bi-modal exhaust has been given a different opening point, lower in the rev range, and all models receive toque vectoring, utilising the braking system. Outside there’s been a refreshment, with different front and rear treatments, new bonnet vents, a new range of alloys, rerated suspension and “Thirty Years” badging, to commemorate the beginning of HSV in 1987. All cars will have the Tremc six speed manual as standard and will offer the GM 6L90E six speed auto and paddle shifters as a $2500 option. AP Racing will continue to offer their 390 mm/372 mm disc brakes as an option, with a price of $3495, with the GTS having them as standard.

The Maloo kickstarts the pricing, with $79990 for the manual and $82480 for the auto. The ClubSport sedan is $82990 and $85490, with the Tourer rolling in at $88990 and $91490. The Senator Signature is $95990 for both transmission options, and the GTS is manual only at $98990. All prices are plus on road costs.

 

Wheels Magazine’s Car of the Year for 2017 Has Zoom-Zoom.

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.”

Mazda Australia’s Managing Director, Martin Benders, chimed in: “From initial planning to its arrival on the showroom floor we were confident that the brand new CX-9 would appeal to family sized SUV buyers and be a success. The win takes Mazda’s tally to eight, the highest number for brands considered to be an imported brand, with the 323 in 1980, the 626 in 1983 and 1992, the MX-5 in 1989/2005/2016 and the rotary engined RX-8 in 2003.

The CX-9 tops a three model range, with the CX-3 and CX-5 available, plus a new CX-5 is due for the Australian market in March, 2017. There’s four trim levels available, plus either front wheel or all wheel drive, with a six speed auto the sole transmission choice. The car has also qualified in the top ten vehicles for the 2017 World Car of the Year.

For more info on the 2017 Car of the Year from Mazda, go here: 2017 Mazda CX-9