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Archive for June, 2019

Private Fleet Car Review: Holden Trax LS Turbo

This Car Review Is About: the Holden Barina based SUV called the Trax. This review is on the LS spec with turbo engine. It’s part of a three trim level range (LS, LT, LTZ) with all but one the 1.4L turbo. The range starts with a LS and 1.8L and is priced at $23,990 plus on roads. At the time of writing the LS 1.4L was available at $24,490 driveaway.The Engine Produces: 103kW and 200Nm, plus a figure of 6.7L per 100 kilometres (combined) from a 53L tank filled with 91RON. Our final figure in an urban drive was 8.3L/100km. Drive is through the front wheels and a six speed auto.On The Inside It’s: a reasonably comfortable place to be. Cloth seats are snug and although fully manual are easy to adjust. The doors open wide enough to make getting onto the seats a doddle too. Because it’s a compact machine, at 4,264mm long and a 2,555mm wheelbase, leg room for the rear seat is adequate at 907mm, not startling and dependent on the front pews not being occupied by taller people. Front leg room is fine for all but the the giants, at 1037mm. Shoulder and hip room is also adequate and front seat head room is great at 1,005mm. The Trax helps the front seat passengers by not having a centre console storage bin, just a standard cup holder style.Barina origins mean the dash is the asymmetrical look found in that car. There’s a old-style looking LCD screen to the right, the speedometer dial in the centre, and the fuel and rev counter on the left. It’s a simple looking unit and as a result offers nothing more than what you see, except for the LCD’s switchable info screens operated from the right hand side of the tiller.The dash itself is Euro styled, with the current sweep around in an arch from door to door running at the base of the windscreen. It’s a finer looking plastic and visually more appealing than that found in the Arcadia. Faux alloy rims the air vents at each end, forms a U-loop for the centre display and vents, and highlights the steering wheel arms and centre stack verticals. The aircon controls in the LS are dials, meaning the temperature can be adjusted finitely but airflow isn’t as finely controlled. These sit above a small nook that has USB/3.5mm/12V sockets.

Audio is AM/FM only, with no DAB, which is increasingly seen in the Trax’s opposition. Smartphone mirroring in the form of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are here.On the Ouside: It’s a strong resemblance to the Barina, if more a breathe in and hold look. It’s ovoid in the overall design, with curves everywhere especially on the front and rear flanks. 215/60/17 tyres and wheels underpin those curves. Up front are integrated LED driving lights that curl nicely around the outsides of the clusters. Driving lights are in their own housings at each corner of the lower front bumper. Out back is a manual tail gate, with an opening to just enough room to get a week’s shopping into, with 387L expanding to 1270L with the 60/40 rear pews folded.

Tail lights are a triple layered affair and blend nicely with the bulbous rear guards. There’s also a resemblance, in a way, to the Trailblazer and Colorado up front, and nothing at all in respect to the Equinox and Acadia. There are eight colours to choose from, including the Absolute Red the test car was painted in.

On The Road It’s: Missing something. It’s not a big machine, and the 1.4L isn’t an outright powerhouse, but 200NMm comes on stream at 1,850Nm. Performance, what there is of it, is blunted, muted, initially First impressions were that the tyres were under-pressured, dragging back the LS Trax. It simply didn’t feel as lively, as exuberant, as it should have. It takes a while to feel as if there’s something living under the bonnet. Get to around 1/3rd travel of the go-pedal and once the revs are above 2,000 the hidden life of the engine is revealed.

Suspension is short travel and tight, to the point the Trax would cock a rear corner in certain situations. None of those were at anything more than 10kmh, thankfully. It’s an odd sensation but it pointed towards the ride and handling the Trax LS had. Smooth on smooth roads, jiggly and unsettled on unsettled roads, tracks straight and true otherwise. The front is a tad softer than the rear though and this helps in the front end’s tracking nicely. It’s a slightly numb steering feel, prone to understeer, but it’s predictable, controllable, telegraphing just where the pert nose will go with no chance of misinformation being sent to the driver.What also isn’t sent to the driver is the Acadia’s vibrating seat platform should the onboard sensors detect anything the system deems worthy of sending a signal to the vibrating seat. That’s a long way of saying that the driver is better equipped to deal with driving situations in front of them because they’re not momentarily distracted by a seat going crazy beneath them.

Steering is well weighted and the brakes are also well balanced, with extra bite over the 1.8L that comes with drum rears. the turbo four has discs.

What About Safety?: No AEB, and the LTZ is the only one that gets Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Alert. all three do get a lo-res reverse camera, six airbags, and the mandated driver aids and Hill Start Assist.

The Warranty Is: Five years/unlimited kilometres, with three years free scheduled servicing.At The End of the Drive.
The Holden Trax is apparently due for an update in 2020. It needs it and needs it badly. Not because it’s an unpleasant car, far from it. However when up against cars in the same sphere, it’s immediately dated. Holden’s Traxis available here.

 

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Holden Acadia LTZ 2WD

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 Holden Acadia in LTZ 2WD trim. It’s the big and American styled machine that replaces the Captiva. It has four doors, fat flanks, a dropped jaw front end, and a V6/auto combination that spins the front driven tyres at the slightest hint of provocation. It’s a seven seater, by the way.This Car Costs: $53,490 is the current sticker price according to the latest pricing guide. $57,490 is for the all wheel drive version. At the time of writing, Holden is moving the LTZ 2WD for a driveaway price of $54,990 for a Summit White body, or $55,565 for one in metallic. That includes free scheduled servicing for three years and a five year warranty.

The Engine Is: a 3.6L V6 with Stop/Start tech mated to an generally super smooth nine speed auto. It’s essentially the same pair to be found in the Commodore. Economy was average, with a final figure of 10.0L/100km. Peak power is 231 kilowatts, with peak twist of 367Nm coming in at 5000rpm.On the Inside It’s: One of the most mundane looking looking interiors currently going. A dull, slabby, semi-gloss, fine-grained black plastic with no visual appeal whatsoever dominates the front seat area and it’s little better heading rearward. The driver and front seat passenger stare at a dash that has a generic a look as can be found. There are silver coloured air vent surrounds at each end, a basic looking centre dash screen and vents with a silver surround sit above a generic looking aircon control cluster, and a pair of seat heater buttons are inserted in either side of a nook for a smartphone charging pad. Front seat passengers also get a different take on heated seats in that either the bottom or back and bottom of the seat can be selected.There are vents in the roof for the centre and rear seat passengers. The rear section gets its own controls and again, they’re GM generic. They do work and well enough for the centre seat passengers to make no negative noises. Said rear seat passengers have the wonderfully simple pull strap system to raise and lower the pews, and the rear gate is powered and comes with the same height adjustable feature found in the LTZ-V. There is also rear section aircon controls which, admittedly, is a rarity seen in this class of car.The touchscreen for the radio is, at least, well laid out in regards to usage. Although it’s a typical GM look, it is easy to read, easy on the eye, and relatively easy to use. However there was a glitch with the digital tuner. After powering up the car, there were times where the screen indicated it was searching for a signal yet would play the last station. At other times it would not play a digital station at all but would be fine when selecting FM. This is the same glitch as noted in the LTZ-V, which means either it’s a glitch that can’t be fixed or Holden is unaware of the problem which is unlikely.On The Outside It’s: Possibly why it seems to not have lit up the sales charts. Take a look at the offerings from Ford, Toyota, Mitsubishi etc. None of them are as overtly apple pie as the Acadia. That’s made evident by simply driving around and keeping an eye out for them. A heavy front end, broadened flanks at the rear passenger doors, a perhaps too solid C pillar and a fussy design here too. Wheels are 6×2 spoke alloys, with Continental Cross Contact LX Sport rubber at 235/65/18.It’s a clear three box design with the bonnet, front and centre seats, then a separate section for the rear. It’s not an entirely cohesive look.

On The Road It’s: A weird mix. Off the line, from a standing start, the front driven rubber will easily chirp with no more than a gentle push of the go pedal. But thanks to its bulk, that’s about as exciting as it gets. That peak torque needs a lot of spin to really be effective in pulling the front wheel drive machine around, and as good as the gearbox is in utilising the torque, there simply needs to be either more of it, or have it come in lower. There is actually an easy fix for that, though, and it’s a one word answer. DIESEL. Yup, there is no oiler in the range and that’s thanks to the country of origin.

Underway it’s super quiet, refined, and smooth in its operation. Go for an overtake and again that dearth of torque become apparent. The same applies for anything remotely uphill, and soon the cogs are nine, eight, seven….. Although Holden’s own engineers have worked on the suspension tunes of the Acadia range, with “FlexRide” dampers on the LTZ, it’s more an American floaty, wafty, spongy ride, even with the big rubber. On the up side, it never bottomed out in the suspension travel, but the plastic strip on the chin did scrape too often on mediocre intrusions. Rebound is well controlled, it’s simply a matter of feeling the springs are too soft up and down.Handling is, well, like the interior. It’s ok. Response is not slow, and it’s not sports car rapid either. The latter isn’t surprising, of course, but the front end could do with a quicker how d’ye do when the tiller is twirled. Body roll is experienced but is also not as bad as expected.

Another weak spot is the way the brakes respond. Or, correctly, don’t respond. There’s dead air for the first inch or so, it seems, then a not spongy but not hard travel and retardation is simply too slow for a vehicle that weights around the two tonne plus mark.What About Safety? Autonomous Emergency Braking, bundled with pedestrian and cyclist detection, starts the list. The LTZ-V has a higher sensitivity when kit comes to reading the road ahead that the LT and LTZ. Blind Spot Alert is standard, Rear Cross Traffic Alert is standard, and Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning are also standard. A driver’s kneebag, along with front, side, and curtain airbags complement the five standard and two ISOFIX seat mounts. Pack in 360 degree camera views, semi assisted parking, and front sensors, and the Acadia LTZ wants for nothing in regards to keeping the internals safe.The Warranty Is: Five years or unlimited kilometres, with 5 years roadside assist if serviced at Holden dealerships. Website has a capped price quotation system.

At The End Of The Drive.
For a car that is intended to be Holden’s saviour, the Acadia range falls short. This is partly evidenced by the sheer lack of them on roads compared to their opposition from Ford, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Korea. There is little spark and it falls short of lighting the candle. Having an interior look that is outweighed by entry level cars half its price, no diesel, a lack of genuine tech appeal, a softish ride that may not be to the liking of potential buyers and a rear cargo that simply doesn’t look as wide as Holden’s other seven seater (which comes with a diesel and is therefore more suitable for purpose), plus an exterior unrelated to anything else in the family, means the 2019 Holden Acadia LTZ has a very sharp stick with which to push stuff uphill. It does nothing bad, but it simply does nothing special.

 

Genesis: Reborn.

Hyundai has relaunched its sub-brand, Genesis. There are two models, the G70 and G80, and Sydney city now has a storefront in Pitt Street where prospective customers can visit and view. The G70 comes with a choice of two engines and three model grades, the G80 in 3.8 and 3.8 Ultimate.
The G70 offers a 2.0L turbo four, and comes in 2.0T, 2.0T Sport, and the top of the line 2.0T Ultimate, with 179kW and 353Nm. There is a V6 version too, with the 3.3-litre twin-turbo powerplant in 3.3T Sport, ultra-luxurious 3.3T Ultimate, and the 3.3T Ultimate Sport, which combines the features of Ultimate with Sport styling. Transmission is an eight speed auto, spun by a 272kW/510Nm 3.3L V6.
Pricing for the G70 starts at $59,300 and there’s an astounding amount of standard equipment for the price. Along with the Australian fettled suspension, there’s the Genesis Active Safety Control driver assistance system and Genesis Connected Services, hands free boot opening and an instrument cluster with a 7.0 inch digital display. The front seats are heated and powered for 12-way adjustment, the infotainment system is accessed via an 8.0 inch screen, and features Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, plus DAB. There is also a wireless charge pad for compatible smartphones.
Level up to the Sport and Brembo comes on board for the stoppers. Up front will be four pistons and the rear has two. They’ll be inside 19 inch alloys and rubber comes from Michelin. The Ultimate has vented front seats with 16 positions, Nappa leather, memory positions for the driver’s pew, heating for the steering wheel which is on a powered column, and sections of the rear seats. Extra tech in the form of a HUD, 360 degree viewing, a powerful 15 speaker sound system from Harman Kardon, and adaptive headlights. G70 3.3T variants feature Genesis Adaptive Control Suspension, a Variable Gear Ratio steering rack, and Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control.
The bigger G80 starts at $68,900. The Genesis Adaptive Control Suspension is standard, along with nine airbags and the Genesis Active Safety Control suite. A 9.2 inch high definition touchscreen pumps sounds through a 17 speaker Lexicon by Harman system, and will have the wireless charge pad, surround view monitor, LED headlights, a driver’s seat with memory positioning and powered steering column and the Genesis Connected Services setup. 19 inch wheels are standard on the $88,900 Ultimate. Nappa leather is inside, and both front and rears seats are heated/vented. Access to the interior is via soft-close powered doors. The tiller is heated and the driver also has a HUD. Ignition is kicked off by a Smart Key card. Spend an extra $4,000 and both inside and out gains enhancements. The standard G80 also offers a panoramic sunroof as a $3,000 option.
Power for the G8 is courtesy of a 3.8L V6 pumping 232kW and 397Nm. Drive modes are Normal, Eco, Sport, and Snow. Transmission is an eight speed auto. The Genesis Adaptive Control Suspension or GACS incorporates Dynamic Stability Damping Control (DSDC) and Electronic Control Suspension (ECS) which has dampers continually reading the road and adjusting up to 100 times per second the compression and rebound settings.
Warranty is five years, unlimited kilometres, with five year 24/7 roadside assist, a complimentary service offering of five year/50,000 kilometres, five years map updates, and five years subscription to the Genesis Connected Services. There is a new offering in regards to ordering and delivery. The Genesis To You service brings: A test-drive home-delivery service, industry-first online build and order with haggle-free, fixed pricing plus a concierge pick-up and delivery for scheduled servicing, with a complimentary courtesy car. There is a personalised handover service on delivery. Head to The Genesis website for info.

Kia Loses Its Soul, Finds Its Seltos Instead.

Kia has released more details of its compact SUV to be called Seltos. Due for sale in the second half of 2019, the Seltos replaces the Soul but has strong familial looks to the outgoing car and more than a hint of SsangYong Tivoli. To be built in both India and Korea, the Seltos is said to be a showcase car of technology. Featuring a 10.25 inch touchscreen as the centrepiece inside, it has the ability to show a split screen and customize the screen to display up to three applications simultaneously. The driver, therefore, can choose to have a single display (such as navigation) or combine different elements on-screen.

Seltos will add in new feature lighting and an optional Sound Mood Lighting system, which will emit soft light from panels in the doors. This includes a unique 3D-patterned surface on the door panels. The Sound Mood Lighting system will pulse in time to the beat of music playing through the audio system and will allow a user to program from eight customisable colours and six themes to illuminate the cabin. The Seltos will also offer the UVO CONNECT telematics system. As more and more makers move into interconnectivity, UVO CONNECT blends the usage of smartphones and the car’s touchscreen.

Part of the technology brings live data such as traffic flow and information, weather updates, and something to look at in a points of interest for a good country drive, for example. An app will back this feature up, with data from trips and news about the Seltos itself. The UVO system is free to users for the first three years, and includes stolen vehicle notification and tracking, safety alerts, auto collision notification and emergency assistance. Sounds come from a Bose 8 speaker system and the driver has an 8.0 inch HUD for instant information in the eyeline.

Power is courtesy of three engines. A naturally aspirated 110kW of 2.0L, a turbo 1.6L with 130kW, and a diesel to produce 100kW from 1.6L will be available elsewhere with the Australian market to receive the turbo petrol and standard petrol. The 2.0L will drive a CVT and will be front wheel drive, with the turbo petrol an all wheel drive and seven speed dual clutch auto. Naturally the Eco/Normal/Sport modes will be standard.
The body itself share the same stocky stance as the Soul; there’s a steeply raked windscreen sitting behind a bluff and solid looking nose with Kia’s signature “tiger nose” grille and LED lights for the front and rear. Turn signal lamps have a deep 3D design and even the fog lamps are LED. The actual design is intended to show off a sense of assertiveness. This is emphasised by a solid shoulder line and character lines on the bonnet. Depending on model, the wheels and tyres are high-grip 205/60 R16, 215/55 R17 or 235/45 R18 tyres.
Contact Kia to prebook your test drive.

Blowing Hot And Cold: The Role Of The Radiator

When you take a look under the hood of your car, an awful lot of the space in there is taken up with the cooling system – that’s if you’ve got a vehicle that gets its motive power from an internal combustion engine (ICE).  In fact, the complexity and the importance of the cooling system in an ICE vehicle – and the consequences for your car engine if something goes wrong with it – is one of the things that makes electric vehicles look very attractive.

The topic is on my mind somewhat, as last week saw me standing around at the mechanic’s garage looking at a faulty radiator and getting the bad news that my old 4×4 was terminally ill.  It was at that moment that even though I live in a rural area where the range of electric vehicles isn’t practical, I liked the idea of EVs, as they have none of the radiator-related hassles.  (The 4×4 is going to be replaced by a smaller Toyota Camry, as I never took the 4×4 off-road all that much, but that’s another story).

Anyway, enough about me and let’s get onto radiators.

In an ICE vehicle, the rotational motion needed to turn the wheels is produced by a controlled explosion pushing a piston up and down.  If you’ve ever used petrol or diesel to get a sluggish bonfire going, then you’ve probably seen just how explosive these fuels are and how much heat is released.  In fact, quite a lot of the chemical potential energy contained in these fossil fuels – or their biofuel equivalents – is converted into heat energy rather than kinetic (motion) energy.  Actually, probably most of it goes to heat energy, which is why an ICE isn’t a terribly efficient machine, as the amount of energy going in (in the form of chemical potential energy) is nowhere near the amount of kinetic energy going out – and some gets lost as sound energy as well.  For your information, the most efficient machine in terms of the ratio of energy out to energy in is a bicycle… and we don’t really mind if it burns a few more kilojoules in this case.

All that heat energy has to go somewhere or before long, it will melt the engine.  It was heat that got the metal of the engine out of the rocks it came from and into the shape that it is now, after all.  Nobody wants that, so the aim is to get the heat away from the engine and somewhere else where it won’t do any damage.  Most modern engines use a liquid cooling system rather than air cooling, as heating up water soaks up a few more joules. It takes more energy to heat water than to heat air, as we’ve all found out on sunny days in spring when the air is warm but if you try taking a dip in an outdoor swimming pool or the sea, the water still feels like ice.  The solution is to have a bunch of pipes running through and around the engine and these will take the heat away from the engine and somewhere else.  Add in coolant that has an even higher boiling point than water and you can soak up even more heat.

There’s one small problem, and that’s the fact that if water boils, it turns to steam, which, as Isaac Watt noticed with his mother’s kettle all those years ago, expands and exerts a force on what’s around it.  This is how a steam engine works (and makes you wonder if an ICE–steam hybrid is possible: something that relies on the ICE driving the pistons until it builds up a good head of steam and then uses the steam).  However, putting water under pressure increases the boiling point, which is why water boils at low temperatures at altitude.  Of course, too much pressure will blow the hoses as well, so there’s a little regulator that keeps it just right.

If the water stayed put, it would boil quickly, so an extra trick is to keep the water moving.  This is what the job of the water pump is: it moves the water through the system so the water has a chance to shed that heat energy somewhere once it’s away from the business department of the engine.

Once the water has moved away from the explosive part of the engine carrying the excess heat energy, it needs to get rid of that heat before it’s pumped around again.  This is where the radiator comes in.  The radiator has the important job of dissipating the heat energy to the atmosphere.  The core of the radiator consists of a honeycomb of little tubes, usually made of aluminium, which has good heat transfer properties.  The aim of the game is to have lots of surface area to maximise the amount of air that can be exposed to the heat and take it away into the general atmosphere.  To ensure that the air in question goes away from the engine rather than towards it, there’s a fan or two in place to whirr it in the right direction; pretty amazing when you think of the speed at which the car’s travelling.

If the weather is a bit chilly, then the people inside the cabin of the car would actually like to have a bit of that hot air, thank you very much. This is where the car’s heating system comes in.  This takes a bit of the water from the system and puts it through another core – the radiator’s mini-me – and blows it through the vents into the cabin so you can warm up your cold pinkies and toesies – and get the mist off the windscreen so you can see where you’re going.  It’s all interconnected, reminding me somewhat of how your blood circulates.  In the case of my poor old 4×4, the heater suddenly deciding not to blow hot air was the equivalent of a nasty pain in the left shoulder radiating down the arm…

Actually, using your blood circulation system isn’t a bad analogy.  In either case, if there’s a blockage or if something blows because the pressure isn’t right, you’ve got serious, serious trouble.  Blood does indeed help your human engine regulate its temperature and it does this by restricting the flow to extremities when the thermometer does down, which is why it’s your fingers and toes that get cold first.  To get rid of excess heat, the body also does the “increase the surface area” thing, which is why your face gets red when you’re toasty.

Of course, if the weather cold outside and you’re putting on the hats, thick socks and gloves to stop uncomfortable heat loss into the surrounding air, then there’s a chance that the water inside the system will freeze up inside the radiator – as the laws of thermodynamics tell us, heat goes from the hotter thing to the colder thing, even if the “hotter” thing is at 1°C and the colder thing is at –4°C.  Frozen water won’t flow, so you get a blockage in the radiator system, which you don’t want.  It gets worse, too: water expands when it freezes (the only substance to do so) and it can bust any part of the cooling system it fancies in this case.  The solution is to add antifreeze, which has a lower freezing point than water.  Amazingly, the most common antifreeze, ethylene glycol, also acts as the coolant, as it has a higher boiling point and a lower freezing point.

It’s a complicated system – which is why if you haven’t checked the fluids in your engine lately or given the system a proper flush out as part of servicing, then you won’t get as much out of your ICE as you ought to.  Don’t ever neglect this part of car maintenance and don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Shelby Outmuscles Dodge

The Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 has been released, and if you’ve wanted the Superman like ability to change the earth’s rotation, this is the one for you. A handbuilt 5.2L V8, complete with super-strong forged conrods, a new water to air intercooled system that works alongside the supercharger, and appropriate electronic modifications, have laid out a powerful 566kW of grunt and an astonishing 866Nm of torque. This the end result of Ford’s quest to overcome the brilliant 527kW Dodge Hellcat. Sadly, it does look as if it won’t be available in right-hand drive.

This monster gets its oomph to the rear wheels via a dual-clutch seven speed. Changes are slow (cough) at 100 milliseconds. Reflecting what Ford believe will be the main focus of the owners, three drive modes, Road, Track, and Dragstrip. All together, the upgraded engine, transmission, and electronics should see a 0-100 time of under three seconds, a figure Ford hasn’t yet confirmed. It tops out at 290kmh, and for those using the Dragstrip mode, a quarter mile of around eleven seconds should be expected. A line-lock system for drag use is included.

In order to tame the firebreathing machine, active damper suspension is onboard, with rerated coil springs and a redesigned geometry for the suspension components. Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber provide the fight in the grip section and wrap around Australian made carbon-fibre 20 inch wheels, and Brembo adds in the six pot stoppers. A new front splitter is fitted and the ends have a canard design for more aero flow. Outback is a GT4 wing that loads up a near quarter-tonne of downforce at speed. Need to lose weight? the rear bench seat is a delete option.

The interior isn’t forgotten, with a full digital instrument panel, 12 speaker sound, 8.0 inch touchscreen, and Recaro buckets with race harness fittings.

If you’ve the money and the right contacts, have a chat with Ford but make it quick. Cars like this tend to sell out in a blink.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Hyundai Kona Highlander Electric

This Car Review Is About: Hyundai dipping a toe into the battery powered waters of electric cars. The Korean company has the Ioniq range of petrol/hybrid/battery, whereas the Kona has no hybrid option.With a range of around 460 kilometres, it’s more than suitable for daily running around in the urban environment, and so it proved during our week-long test.

What Does It Cost?: The range of Kona Electric starts at $59,999. That’s before government charges and dealership costs. The Highlander starts in the middle $60k range, and that puts it within the ballpark of the forthcoming Tesla Model 3. The car comes with a charge cable which plugs into a standard home power socket. For an extra couple of thousand Hyundai will supply an adapter box that gets installed at home. At a rate of around7.2kW per hour of charge, it trickle charges at a rate good enough to avoid range anxiety if plugged in overnight. In the week we drove it, it was topped up just twice.On The Outside Is: A car that is possibly overdone in styling to alert people to the fact it’s an electric car. The Tesla range, for the sake of inevitable comparisons, look like a normal set of cars outside, and have a distinctive yet still normal-ish look inside.

Front and rear lower bumpers have been restyled in comparison to the standard versions. There is a ripple, wave like, motif to them, and the front looses the centrally mounted driving lights. Somewhere in the front guards are cornering lamps, barely visible unless looking for them. Our test car was clad in a two-tone metallic Ceramic Blue and Chalk White body and roof styling, with a number of exterior colours and combinations available, at a reasonable cost of under $600 for the metallic paints. The wheels are bladed five spoke items, with the blades sporting a heavily dimpled design on one half of each of the slabby five spoked design.These reflect the nose of the Kona Electric. As there is no need for a traditional cooling system, the front has the air intakes replaced with a plastic insert that draws attention to itself by virtue of these dimples. The colour highlights these quite strongly too. This nose section houses the charge port, and here Hyundai has a solid win.

Press lightly and the cover pops open. Insert the Type 2 Mennekes charger device which is found in a sturdy bag in the undercover cargo section, attach to an extension cable, a green loop lights up, and charging is underway. To remove the charger requires nought more than a push of a simple press-stud. It’s more effective and far more simple than Tesla’s overthought system.The overall look is very close to the normal Kona but the dimpled look is probably a non-necessary addition. The dimpled wheels are unnecessary too. Normal looking wheels would have toned down the “look at me, I’m electric!” look.

On The Inside: The Kona Electric interior is more sci-fi than traditional in some aspects. The seats are vented and heated, with the car provided having white leather-look material which wouldn’t be suitable for younger childre.. The steering wheel is heated, there are cup and bottle holders, and a wireless charge pad for compatible smartphones, plus a USB port or two. All normal.

Then Hyundai goes to Star Trek inspired designs for the centre console. Its a floating or split level design and not exactly easy to get items into the lower storage section. The upper level is home to four buttons for engaging the drive, a tab for the heated steering wheel, another for three drive modes (Sport/Normal/Eco), and all in a somewhat chintzy looking silver. It’s horribly overdone, visually tiring, and goes past the point of sensible in pointing out to passengers they’re in an electric car.There are some good points: the drive modes change the look of the full colour LCD screen that is located inside an analogue dial. These, at least, look sensible and appropriate. There are different colours and looks to the kinds of information being displayed. There is also a HUD or Head Up Display for safer driving. The touchscreen is slightly revamped to take advantage of the propulsion system and has sub-screens that allow for personalisation and adjustment of the drive modes.

In regards to charger points for public usage, the onboard map system has these preprogrammed. That’s a good thing as this particular kind of charge point seemed to be a little spare on the group using certain apps.On The Road It’s: Soft in the suspension. It’s a well controlled softness, but it’s soft. There’s a lot of travel in each end, with the front exhibiting more sponginess than the rear. It really does feel as if it could do with a dialing up of the stiffness with a corresponding change in dampening to provide a still progressive yet tauter setup for a better ride. Hyundai say that something like 37 different damper combinations and a number of varying spring and anti-roll-bar setups were tried. However, it must be said that the suspension has to deal with 1700 kilos or so, which includes the floor mounted battery pack. That does help with handling by providing a low centre of gravity, so that softness, although the final result of the extensive testing, may not be to everyone’s taste.

There’s an unexpectedly high amount of road noise too. There’s a sensation of wind coming in via a door left open in respect to the noise level. The ecofriendly rubber adds to the ambient noise levels also.Acceleration is decently quick with a sub eight second 0-100 time, and there’s a gauge in the dash that tells you the percentage of normal, economical, and aggressive driving. Even with our drive routinely seeing hard launches, never did that aggressive driving gauge get above 2%.

To engage Drive, one places a foot on the brake pedal, presses the normal looking Start/Stop button, then presses one of the four drive buttons to get underway. Drive, Reverse, Park, Neutral are the choices.

Actual physical engagement of the drive gear is instant here, and the system does insist upon the brake pedal being used, for example, when selecting Drive from Reverse. Here Hyundai go a little more sci-fi in the aural side. There is an eerie whine, an almost subliminal sound that has people wondering if they’re hearing it or not, as it never goes beyond the level of a faint background noise.

There is a question mark about the drive system. The car reviewed was the Highlander model, meaning it came with the HUD in the dash, heating & venting in the seats etc. However the drive system was front wheel only. This meant that the front rubber would scrabble for grip off the line in those same hard launches.

There are three drive modes, which seem redundant for an electrically powered car. They’re activated via a selection tab in the console and Hyundai do provide personalisation of each for items such as climate control and recharge via the touchscreen. Regeneration levels are also changeable via a pair of paddles behind the tiller. These same paddles allow for bringing the vehicle to a full halt if the left paddle is held.The steering itself is heavier than expected in normal driving. That’s more to say it’s not as assisted as expected, feeling more akin to the front rubber being deflated by around 20 to 30 percent. All up, though, the Kona Electric, for all of its perceived deadweight, is nimble enough, with rapid and unfussed lane changing when required, a definitive sense of weight transfer when lifting off the accelerator, and the mid range urge is enough to raise a smile. Punch it whislt using the heated seats and steering wheel though, and watch that expected range figure drop, and rapidly.

It’s otherwise a delightfully enjoyable cruiser but “suffers” from a peculiar quirk. Although the electronic brains engage the drive systems almost instantly between Drive/Reverse, from a standing start there’s a small but perceptible hesitation before the actual drive kicks in. Think of that momentary lag along the lines of a diesel’s slight intake of breath. It’s an unusual sensation however once knowing it happens all of the time, adjustments on driving style make for smooth progress.

The brakes are an integral part of the drive system and they’re just on the fine side of grabby in normal driving. Downhill descents have them gently squeeze and you can feel the retardation the regenerative system endows.

Hyundai adds extra tech in the form of the smartphone app called Hyundai Auto Link Premium SIM. By tying in with the car’s telematics you can look at driving history, driving efficiency, general battery information, plus it allows a user to book a service remotely. Items such as hazard lights, or lock/unlock can also be performed by the app.

And The Safety? As expected, Hyundai’s full range of SmartSense active safety tech is here. AEB is standard, radar collision alert, Blind Spot Alert, Lane Keep Assist, and active cruise control are all here. The actual safety rating is five star.

Warranty and Services? Service intervals are once a year of every 15,000 kilometres. That second figure is appealing for some as it means they’re more likely to do less than the 15K…For those that aren’t frightened by range anxiety, and drive it as they would a petroleum fed machine, it’s a figure easily achieved. Hyundai have also capped the first five service visits at $165. Warranty wise there is a five year standard figure and the battery pack has eight years.
At The End of the Drive.

Hyundai is part of the growing band of brothers that have joined the fully electric powered car family. It’s a technology that has history against it, and the future on its side. But there’s no need for today’s cars to be made to look like something from 200 years in the future. Aside from the Star Trek meets Jetsons looks, it’s a capable enough chariot. Pricing is something that will change for the better but for now, it’ll have to do.
Hit up Hyundai here for more info.

Say Hello To The New Baleno and Colorado.

Suzuki Australia has announced that the Baleno has been given an update and will be available in Australia late this year. The new look Baleno GL will be here from August and the Baleno GLX variant available for purchase from September 2019. Pricing will remain incredibly sharp, with the Baleno GL and with a manual transmission starting at $15,990, the auto just $1,000 more, and the auto only GLX at $18,990.

Key changes to the exterior design include a newly designed front grille, revised front and rear bumpers, whilst the 15” steel wheel hub cap and the 16” alloy wheel have received an updated look.
The updated Baleno GLX will also feature UV protection glass on the windscreen, upgraded headlight projectors from HID to LED, plus automatic headlight leveling. Metallic paint is a $500 option, and the colour range is: Fire Red, Arctic White, Granite Gray Metallic, Stargraze Blue Metallic, and Premium Silver Metallic. Interior changes are limited to a revised door trim colour plus all-new seat fabric design and colour. All engine configuration and specifications remain unchanged as per the current model.

Suzuki Australia General Manager – Automobile, Mr. Michael Pachota said the introduction of the updated Baleno will be key for Suzuki’s growth in the light car segment. “A welcome improvement has been introduced in the Series II with a sleek but aggressive sporty aesthetic, amongst other additions. The new look design successfully freshens up the Baleno and remains perfectly fit in our Suzuki model line-up for the Australian automotive market.”

He added: “Impressively, even with these improvements, current pricing is sustained and with the recent introduction of a 1.4 litre engine in the GLX variant, bringing the entire range below $18,900 RRP, will no doubt further increase our opportunity in the light car segment.”

The new look Baleno comes with Suzuki’s 5 year Capped Price Service (CPS) warranty program.

Holden have also updated one of their staples in the stable. The Colorado has a new addition and some extra features added as standard. The model designated as LSX is now the entry level to the Colorado family. Sitting at the top of the tree is the Z71 and this now hasrugged fender flares and a bash plate now standard on the flagship model. A convenient new ‘soft drop’ tailgate is also exclusive to the range topping Z71, while the mid-range LTZ 4×4 gains leather trimmed seats with the front ones now heated. The Z71 and LTZ now also receive a Duraguard spray on tub liner as standard.
“The addition of the DuraGuard tub-liner means that MY20 Z71 and LTZ Colorado are the only pick-ups that retail for under $70,000 to feature this premium technology as standard equipment,” Andre Scott, the general manager of light commercial vehicle marketing at Holden, said. Careful research has also produced factory backed accessory packs, with Mr Scott adding: “Take the Tradie pack for example. It includes a towing package, side and rear steps, a roof tray, 12V auxiliary power, floor mats, canvas seat covers, weather shields, bonnet protector and cup holders – it’s enough to make sure any jobsite is done and dusted.”
Contact Holden for availabiliy details.

Mercedes Adds The GLB To The Range.

In a possible answer to a question that no one has asked, being “just how many SUVs does the world need?”, Mercedes-Benz has introduced the seven seater GLB. It slots into a gap moreso in the alphabet than in its range by being placed between the GLA and GLC.

Mercedes say it’s the first of their compact SUV range to be offered as a seven seater. However they’re also at pains to point out that the third row should NOT be occupied by anyone over the height of 1.68m. That’s logical as virtually every seven style vehicle simply doesn’t suit taller people.Power will comes from a pair of four cylinder petrol engines or a trio of diesels. A 1.33L petrol with 120kW/250Nm can be specified alongside a 2.0L with 165kW/350Nm. Economy is quoted as 6.2L/100km to 7.4L/100km, and emissions are rated as 142/169 grams per kilometre. Transmissions are a seven or eight speed auto. The pair will see 0-100 kmh times of 9.1 seconds and 6.9 seconds respectively.

The diesels are 2.0L in capacity, will offer 110kW in two versions, and 140kW in the other. Torque figures will be 320Nm or 400Nm in the higher output engine. Consumption is said to be 5.5L/100km. All three will power down through an eight speed auto and 0-100 times will be 9.0, 9.3, and 7.6 seconds respectively.

GLB will bring some cool tech. The driving assistance systems will, thanks to improved camera and radar systems, look up to 500 m ahead and can drive partially autonomously in certain situations. These could include, for example, conveniently adapting the speed before corners, crossroads or roundabouts using the Active Distance Assist Distronic with recourse to maps and navigation data. As a new function of the Active Steering Assist, among other things, there is also the intuitive Active Lane Change Assist.

There is the Energizing comfort control system. It networks various comfort systems in the vehicle, and uses musical and lighting moods plus a number of massage settings for a wide range of feel-good programs. The Energizing Coach recommends these programs according to the situation. Then if a driver or passenger is wearing a Mercedes-Benz vivoactive 3 smartwatch or another compatible Garmin wearable is linked, personal values such as stress level or sleep quality may improve the precision of the recommendation.The intuitively operated infotainment system MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) is also here. There’s a powerful computer, brilliant screens and graphics, and the ability to personalise graphics. There is also an all-colour head-up display, navigation with augmented reality, learning-capable software, and the voice control which can be activated with “Hey Mercedes”.

The LED High Performance headlamps and Multibeam LED headlamps are available for the GLB on request. The latter allow extremely quick and precise, electronically controlled adjustment of the headlamps to suit the current traffic situation. As an option there are also front fog lamps with LED technology. They distribute the light more widely than the main headlamps and thus illuminate peripheral areas better. Their low position in the front bumper helps reduce the risk of dazzling.

4MATIC models include the Off-Road Engineering Package. In combination with Multibeam LED headlamps these models offer a special off-road light function. This makes it easier to see obstacles in rough terrain in the dark. With the off-road light the cornering light on the Multibeam LED headlamps is continuously switched on up to a speed of 50 km/h. This results in wide and bright light distribution immediately in front of the vehicle, allowing the driver to more appropriately judge their progress.Contact your local M-B dealer for more details.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 SsangYong Tivoli ELX

This Car Review Is About: SsangYong’s Tivoli. SsangYong is the quiet third of a three tier car making setup from Korea. Nestled well below Hyundai and Kia, SsangYong currently have a three model range, and the Tivoli is the entry level to the brand. The Tivoli itself is based on the Kia Soul and is badged as EX, ELX, and Ultimate.
The ELX is a solid mid-level competitor in a very crowded market. Being based on the quirky looking Soul isn’t a bad thing either. SsangYong’s designers have done a good job of hiding the relationship with a heavily reworked interior and exterior. There’s no hiding that steeply raked windscreen though.Power Comes From: Behind the bluff and upright schnozz that hides a diesel or petrol powerplant. Our test car had the 1.6L diesel, a slightly chattery but butter smooth item. There’s a huge 300Nm of torque on tap between 1,500rpm and 2,500rpm. Peak power is just 85kW and is available from 3,400rpm to 4,000rpm. The diesel comes in 2WD or AWD for the Ultimate, and is a six speed auto only for the oiler. Economy is, unsurprisingly, pretty good for the pert little five door. Urban driving is quoted as 7.4L/100km for the 2WD version. We saw a best of 7.6L/100km in the urban cycle. Combined is 5.5L/100km and that’s without the realms of possibility. Tank size compromises range though, at just 47-L.What’s It Cost?: The range starts at a miserly $22,990 driveaway for the EX, without premium paint. It’s $27,990 driveaway for the ELX diesel auto, with premium paint an extra $495. Outside one can choose six colours, the test car was Space Black. Inside there are three choices with black overall, brown (mocha coffee shade), and beige. The trim is on the seats and the doors.

What Does It Look Like?: Overall, the presence is restrained from the outside, innocuous even. The front end is very SsangYong family in look, with LED eyebrow driving lights in a swept back cluster design. The lower air intake surround is a horizontal “double Y” with black urethane underneath joining the front and rear. The tail end itself is a look that evokes the MINI Countryman’s styling and a bold C pillar joins the top to the bottom.It’s compact in size to look at. Length is 4,202mm, height is 1,600mm with roof rails, and overall width is 1,798mm. What these numbers mean is good interior space for the 1,480kg (dry) Tivoli.
There’s some good looks inside too. The dash is the current Euro themed arch-type sweep from door top to door top and in the black-on-black it looks ok. The dash’s look is a mix of black textured plastics. There is a faux stitched look, a hood style binnacle, and piano black centre stack.This holds the aircon controls which are soft-touch buttons. An old-school amber backlit display screen sits above a dominant fan speed dial. Unlike most other manufacturers, SsangYong haven’t gone down the path of a standalone touchscreen for the audio/satnav, with the Korean make staying with an embedded look here. Again there is no DAB and that peculiar predilection to have one radio station sound like a skipping record.The driver faces a binnacle that has bright red backlit dials. These can be changed to five other backlights such as blue and yellow for that extra bit of personalisation. A monochrome centre screen shows wheel angle when parked. This is presumably to remind a driver which way they’re pointing when getting ready to move on.
Splashes of alloy look plastic add some colour to the black trimmed option. The seats are comfortable and not heated or vented in the ELX.
There’s the usual apps for the sound system, storage spaces front and rear, and a good amount of cargo space at the rear. There is a pair of 12V sockets, one up front and one for the rear.
Safety is high. AEB is standard, as are warning systems for forward collision and lane keeping. Australia doesn’t get the Euro spec traffic sign recognition system…yet.

What’s It Go Like?
It’s a hoot to punt around. There’s the barest hint of hesitation in the diesel from a standing start. The turbo very quickly spools up and there’s a rapid, smooth, but slightly noisy launch. The engine is a real old-school chatterer under load but there is no sense of vibration is any form. The gearbox is the same. It’s super quiet, super smooth, and rarely proved indecisive in its cog-swapping.

Off the throttle the engine is whisper quiet. There is a minimal amount of road and wind noise whilst coasting, and it’s again only when the go pedal gets the ask that the engine gets noticed. Mid range urge is sensational given the size of the engine. It’s relatively effortless in how it performs when compared to bigger cars with bigger engines. Ride is on the hard side however. The 205/60/16 from Kumho provide plenty of grip but that highish sidewall doesn’t do much in the way of aiding the suspension’s absorption. The spring and damper rates are almost adequate for smaller bumps but hit a traffic calmer at anything other than walking pace and it’s kapow.The rear corners will even “cock a leg” when in tight turns or at odd angles coming in and off some driveways. The upside is how it goes on the freeways. Undulating surfaces don’t exist, stability is high in windy conditions, and the steering, adjustable via a drive mode button, is well weighted. It’s responsive and ratioed so understeer is also kept to a minimum. As a driving package it’s far better than expected.
Warranty Is? Seven years. That’s also with unlimited kilometres, from front to rear. Srvices are 12 months or 15,000 kilometres.At The End Of the Drive: It’s a real shame that this quiet achiever is due to be discontinued. Although the forthcoming Korando promises to be just as good, the Tivoli could be kept as an alternative addition, much like many Euro makers seem to offer nowadays. And it’s at a price and trim point that would be a good alternative to quite a few others. And the Tivoli has just had an addition to the range in the form of the long wheelbase XLV.

Here is how you can find out more.