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Archive for July, 2019

HSV SportsCat Ready To Pounce.

Four wheel drive four door utes are amongst the biggest sellers in the Aussie market but it’s not an easy job to make them look tough and ready for an all-in brawl. HSV somehow manages to pull that off with their warmed over version of the Colorado. Packing a 147kW/500Nm diesel (with auto transmission), the SportsCat is more than a “whack on a sticker pack” effort. It’s now into its Series2 offering and it looks the goods, visibly and underneath. It’s available in two spec levels, SportsCat V and SportsCat SV.
Engineered to pound the ground, and hard, SportsCat has uprated frontsprings, stiffened to cope with 110 Newtons per millimetre of impact stress. This translates to far less body roll and movement when getting serious or even taking it easy on the freeway. The rerated suspension also has the front raised by 25mm, increasing the travel available and increasing ground clearance. HSV also call upon SupaShock Suspension to help in the ride and handling.
Connected to six-spoke 18 x 10 wheels wrapped in specially developed Cooper tyres, the dampers from SupaShock, available as factory fitted options, are larger diameter items. By reducing losses of response to friction they are more quickly able to adapt to the ever changing needs of on and off-road driving. Factor in a HSV engineered decoupling bar for the rear axle anti-roll bars, which increases stability at speed by controlling the roll attitude of the rear end, it activates when the SportsCat’s drive system is put into 4WD Low. It’s standard on the SportsCat SV and optionable on the SportsCat V.

Stopping power comes courtesy of the AP racing package. as fitted to the HSV GTS-R, it features four pistons callipers, 362mm x 32mm front rotors to haul down the big machine. These are standard on the SportsCat SV, optionable on the SportsCat V.
Inside and upfront, SportsCat features a reworked interior, including six position adjustable electric seats for driver and passenger. There is specific HSV trim on the dash, doors, and on the steering wheel. The seats are bespoke HSV, with embossed headrests, leather, and Windsor Suede. Outside HSV have a optionable sailplane for the roll-over bar.
Tech and safety are in the form of Remote Start, Front and Rear Park Assist,Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, and seven airbags including driver’s kneebag. Towing is rated as up to 3.5 tonnes. These are backed by a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty and roadside assist package.

Pricing is as follows: SportsCat V six-speed manual is $62,490, with the SportsCat V six-speed auto ticking the box at $64,690. Move to the upper level and SportsCat SV with six-speed manual is $66,790 and SportsCat SV six-speed auto tops out at $68,990. Here is where you can find out more.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Hyundai iLoad Crew Van Liftback.

This Car Review Is About: a vehicle that doubles nicely as a passenger and commercial transport vehicle. The Hyundai iLoad is the cargo transport version of the dedicated passenger van called iMax. It comes with or without the passenger configuration. Or, if you will, the iMax is the passenger version of the iLoad…What Does It Cost: At the time of writing, Hyundai were listing the iLoad Crew at just over $48K driveaway. That includes a five year warranty or 160,000 kilometres, free first service, and 12 months of roadside assist up front. There is a 15,000 kilometre/12 month service schedule.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.5L diesel and five speed auto for the iLoad Crew as tested. Peak torque is a whopping 441Nm however the PEAK figure is available through a very narrow rev band of 2,000 rpm through to 2,250rpm. There’s no lack of urge available under that 2,000rpm though. Economy is quoted as 8.8L per 100km for the combined cycle.On The Inside It’s: A comfortable place to be. The two rows of cloth covered seats are separated from the 2,215L of cargo space by a fairly rigid barrier but was still prone to a squeak or two. The front seats are a 2+1 configuration, with the centre section featuring a folding backrest that doubles as a tray and cup holder. The driver has a one touch powered window for Down only, and for up it needs to be held. The windows in the sliding doors for the rear passengers are fold out and not that far either.Instrumentation is basic but functional here. The driver has a fully analogue needle set of dials and a basic but again functional monochrome LCD screen in the centre. This shows trip, odometer, and expected range, but we didn’t see a litres per kilometre display though. Headlights have an Auto on switch, the tiller houses the basic audio and cruise controls, and the wiper controls on the left are just a fingertip away during the rainy season.The dash console itself has a split level storage on the passenger side, a small nook in the centre for USB and 3.5mm auxiliary, a small pull out drawer lower down and a 12V socket.

The centre dash touchscreen is the same in that it’s basic to look at, works exactly as designed, and offers little in the way of fripperies. Audio is “old school” AM and FM, lacks DAB, but does have app access for Android Auto and Apple Carplay.The cargo section came lined with protective sheeting and cargo tie-down hooks.On The Outside It’s: received a mild facelift at the front compared to the original, slightly goggle-eyed, front. The headlights top line blends sweetly into the bottom of teh bonnet/top of the blacked-out grille. The rear is largely unchanged and there are no rear parking sensors.

The front brings the iLoad more into line with Kia’s Carnival with a more traditional passenger car and bonneted look. Headlights are more horizontally aligned and squared off, and this particular vehicle came with a nudge bar and super bright LED light bar. A tow bar was fitted at the rear. The rear gate isn’t powered but is easy enough to lift.Wheels and rubber were steel (with the review car having black painted alloys actually, wrapped in Hankook tyres) and 215/70/16 in size for the standard set, plus the spare is a full sizer.

Out On The Road It’s: A very pleasant drive. 100kmh to 110kmh sees revs at just under 1800rpm to 2000rpm. The commercial vehicle style rubber didn’t cope excessively well with the damp and wet conditions experienced during the review period.
On a flat road they would break traction, and on an uphill oriented curve would spin rather easily and bring in the traction control. As a result, some of the driving had to be dialled down in one particular section of a mountainous and curvy road. Front end grip wasn’t confidence inspiring and the taut, cargo carrying, rear end would feel on the verge of breaking away.

The steering was responsive on the softer front end, with the merest twitch seeing the nose respond.

However, a quarter turn was needed to see any real broadening of the movement, and even at around 40kmh into a reasonably easy left or right hander, depending on direction of travel, would understeer and require a foot lift, a dab of the brakes, before hitting the go pedal.

Actual off the line response was wonderful, with virtually no discernable turbo lag from the torque 2.5L engine, meaning dry road hookup was swift and without fuss. There is manual shifting but the ‘box is good enough to not really need it. It’s also a little more sensitive than others in that the brake pedal had to be firmly held in order for the gear selector button to depress.
There was a real sense of refinement to the driveline too. A muted engine noise, super crisp changes in the five speed auto, and almost instant throttle response were dampened, at times, by the road noise from the tyres and body.

At The End Of The Drive.
Although it’s effectively a commercial vehicle that just happens to seat six, there’s just enough to make it a very enjoyable family car if the iMax is out of the budget range. Proper passenger tyres, usage of the smartphone apps, and perhaps some custom built container spaces for shopping in the rear, and there’s a people mover hiding in plain sight.

The engine and gearbox make for a great pairing, and it’s not thirsty by any measure. Check it out at the Hyundai website

Hyundai’s Tucson Refreshed And Updated.

Hyundai Australia has released details of the 2020 refresh for the Tucson range. There is a four trim level choice and that’s courtesy of the addition of the Active entry level model. Active X, Elite, and Highlander are the others. There are upgrades to the safety systems, exterior and interior updates, and minor changes to pricing.

Active and Active X can be specced with a six speed manual transmission and are priced at $29,290 and $32,290, or with a six speed auto will be $31,790 and $34,790 respectively. Power comes from a 2.0L petrol engine, and prices are before government and dealership charges. Tucson Elite dips out on the manual but can be ordered with the 2.0L and auto for $37,850.

Move up to the 1.6L turbo four, seven speed dual clutch auto, and all wheel drive system, and Elite & Highlander price out at $40,850 and $46,500 respectively. Turn to the oiler, and that’s a 2.0L capacity unit driving all wheels through an eight speed auto. Hyundai offer that in all grades and prices are $37,090, $40,090, $43,150, $48,800 respectively. Premium paint is a $595 option and to call upon the nicely styled beige interior is $295.Safety is upgraded courtesy of a rear park assist system being added to the Active. Hyundai’s SmartSense package is standard here and in the Active X which includes Driver Alert Warning, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with a City/Urban camera system, Forward Collision Warning and Rear Park Assist. Alloy wheels are standard across all four models with the Active and Active X getting 17s and 18s respectively. The Active has a driver’s window up/down on-touch switch in addition.

The Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, (FCA) in City/Urban works from a windshield-mounted camera reading the road ahead. Should it “feel” that a collision is possible, the Forward Collision Warning System will make a noise and show a signal in the driver’s information cluster. It’s a system that works between 8 kmh and up to 180kmh. Forward Collision Avoidance Avoidance Assist – City Urban pairs up with FCW to hit the stop pedal automatically if the system judges no human intervention after an alert. This works between 8kmh and 65kmh. Elite and Highlander gain radar sensors to complement the camera and Hyundai extend the name to City/Urban/Interurban/Pedestrian. At speeds of between 10kmh and 80kmh the package brings the car to a complete halt.

Specification levels increase in sophistication as the range moves from Active to Highlander. Items such as rear camera, DAB audio, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay are common throughout. Active X has leather appointed seats, for example, and some electrically powered adjustment for the driver’s seat. The Tucson Elite has a cooling system for the glovebox, rain sensing wipers, and puddle lamps. The Highlander has a powered tailgate, and a wireless charging pad, plus bending LED headlights.
All models have the very handy Hyundai AutoLink, with the Highlander available via a SIM based connection. The other three connect via Bluetooth. This provides information such as driving analysis, driving history, contact with Hyundai dealers to book a service, and in the Highlander, real time weather updates, remote access to start/stop, and remote access to the climate control system, amongst other features. Hyundai also entice owners to have their Tucson serviced at a Hyundai dealership by including a ten year satnav upgrade plan and a ten year roadside assist plan.
Contact your dealer for a test drive.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Kia Sorento GT-Line Diesel.

This Car Review Is About: A big, comfortable, and very well equipped vehicle from Kia. The top of the range Sorento GT-Line is a diesel powered seven seater that lacks for very little to appeal to those needing a SUV that isn’t intended to be an off-roader. The Sorento range is powered by either a 3.5L V6 or a 2.2L diesel.Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.2L diesel for the GT-Line. It’s a quiet chatterer thanks to a mix of refinement and noise insulation in the engine bay and under the aluminuim bonnet. 147kW is available at 3,800rpm, and a whopping 441Nm of torque on tap between 1,750 rpm and 2,750 rpm. It’s a great long distance hauler, with an easy, loping attitude thanks to a freeway speed ticking the engine over at around 1,500 rpm. Kia quote 6.1L/100km for the highway cycle and this was bettered, albeit by 0.1L/100km. Overall economy, driven mainly in the urban jungle, finished at 8.2L/100km, with Kia’s urban cycle quoted as 9.2L/100km. Transmission is an eight speed auto putting that power and torque down via the front wheels, with torque split to the rear on demand. There is also a diff-lock for the rare excursions into a bit of mud or dirt.What Does It Cost?: $58,990 plus on road costs and metallic paint. That’s just $595. Capped price servicing applies for the seven years of warranty, with a yearly service or 15,000 kilometres. the most expensive service is year 4 at $684. At the time of writing Kia are doing runout deals for the Sorento range.On The Inside It’s: A seven seater with the third row the delightfully simple pull-strap design. A gentle tug, a pull of the strap backwards to lift the seats, or a tug and gentle push to lower them, and it’s something nearly all makers now use. The centre row is bordering on ideal for three adults, it’s certainly fine for two growing children. The left seat is set up to be slid to allow entry for the rear seats, and both centre seats are sliding & folding. The driver has an eight way powered seat, with the front pews heated, vented, and the driver having a heated tiller. Leather seats are a bit cold to touch in the cooler climes however the heaters take the edge off, but the rate of heating could be improved for a more rapid response.The dash is typical Kia but starting to show its age in one area. Manufacturers have moved to the touchscreen being raised up in its own plinth. This is for safety as it’s closer to the driver’s eyeline and not looking downwards. The screen here is super clean, intuitive, and is DAB/Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatible. The DAB tuner has the same issues as the other Kias tested recently, with inconsistent signal acquisition and dropout. The plastics in the Sorento are of an almost leather look and have a fine grained finish to them. Open the front doors and Sorento glows a soft red at night in the sills.The dash display itself lacks a HUD but the dial for the speed is fully digital. It also shows which drive mode the driver has selected from the four available: Smart, Eco, Normal, and Sport. A centre screen section shows info such as range, driving distance, trip meter and economy.Auto headlights, rain sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear vision mirror, rear camera and guidelines, plus 360 degree camera are part of the interior fitment and everything is precisely laid out, showing Kia is well on top of the human engagement part of interior design. The Sorento also comes with a full length glass roof.On the Outside: It’s refinement, refinement, refinement. Compared to a Sorento design of, say, a dozen years ago, it’s recognisable as part of the family but obviously a modern design in its own right. It’s a two box design, with a bonnet that dips towards the imposing Schreyer “Tiger Nose” grille, whilst the body behind the windscreen has a smooth silhouette with a slightly odd angle for the rear window/tailgate. The tail gate is powered, of course.

There are LED driving lights, LED tail lights, LED headlights and are self levelling. Kia calls them Dynamic Bending Lights. It’s a big vehicle with a physically imposing presence too. Length is 4,800mm, width is 1,890mm, height is 1,690mm with roof rails. Wheelbase is 2,780mm and virtually joined by the GT-Line’s sidesteps. But with just 185mm of ground clearance it’s certainly not anything other than a soft-roader.Wheels for the GT-Line Sorento are 19 inch alloys and wrapped in 235/55 rubber from Kumho. Thankfully Kia also fit a full sized spare here, not the restrictive space saver spare.What About Safety?: Kia load the GT-Line with the supreme pizza, free drink, and free delivery, it’s that packed. All Sorentos have the mandated electronic aids such as stability control, traction control, and the like. Kia also add the Euro inspired Emergency Stop Signal which flash the indicators when the brake pedal is pressed harder than normal. AEB and Forward Collision Warning is standard through the range as is Lane Keep Assist and Driver Attention Alert, which would, annoyingly, tell a driver to have a break after just thirty minutes of driving.

Where the GT-Line goes further is Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Where it doesn’t go further is by having six airbags, not a driver’s knee airbag.

Out On The Road It’s:
a superbly relaxed highway cruiser. That low revving engine and where the torque figure comes in makes for a low stressed package. It’s mostly a responsive engine to, mostly. Unusually, the engine in the review car showed measurable turbo lag and in the scheme of things it was a considerable amount. Start the car, move along to a junction, wait to clear traffic, press the pedal and…..there’s a yawning gap before it suddenly sprints forward, rather than moving away in a linera fashion. That linear fashion is shown though when under way, where the response is spot on.

Roll downhill and the transmission will quietly downshift with barely any physical sensation at all. There’s a flicker of the needle on the rev counter, a slight change to the muted chatter from up front, and the engine is well within its useable torque range. In the highway cycle and with the throttle feathered, there’s hardly any indication of the engine working, with the tacho sitting at around 1,500rpm. Give the go pedal a nudge and the chatter goes up in volume but is not intrusive. Road noise, though, on the coarser chip surfaces, was.

Handling is predictable, wit the front end tending toward a hint of understeer in normal driving. Back off the throttle and it’s easily controllable, bringing the nose back in nicely. The steering itself is well balanced but a touch numb, leaving the driver feeling a touch isolated from what’s happening. Go for the stop pedal and there’s more communication here, with a centimetres of dead travel before a progressive descent where the right foot can judge exactly how much pressure to apply.The suspension is well sorted, naturally, with a flat ride, minimal body roll, and dampers that bring the chassis to a controilled state swiftly. Go hard into a corner and the body remains unflustered, poised, and under hard braking there is is dive, but again it’s minimal. The ride overall is supple, compliant, and makes those shopping centre carparks a minor annoyance.

At the End Of the Drive.
Kia’s Sorento is the sister vehicle to Hyundai’s Santa Fe, and the Sorento, as good as it is, is now showing its age inside. Kia’s DAB tuner supplier also needs some work, as other companies have far better tuners. However it’s still fantastic value, a great drive, well featured, and economical. It does look as if a new Sorento isn’t far off as Kia are doing run-out deals at the moment. Head here for more info: 2019 Kia Sorento range

Sales Are Down Again For The Aussie Market.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, or FCAI, has released the June 2019 vehicle sales figures for Australia’s once thriving market. What it reveals is a pointer to the rest of the economy, with sales down overall by 9.6 percent. Compared to the same time in 2018, it’s even more drastic, at 18.5 percent lower for the passenger car segment at 33,864 sales.

June 2019 saw 117,817 sales in total, with SUVs and Light Commercial vehicles down to 53,509 and 26,372 respectively. These two segments saw drops of 4.7 and 7.0 percent each. The market leader in June was Toyota with 21,200 sales, followed by Mazda on 10,806, Hyundai with 10,001, Mitsubishi at 8,891, and Kia with 7,200. However it’s good news for one particular brand, with four entries inside the top ten.

Toyota takes out the top of the ladder, with the HiLux moving 5,396 units, but still down on last year by 6.9%. Ford’s Ranger is position 2 and showed a slight increase of 1.7%, up to 4,871 units. Grid position 3 belongs to Hyundai’s i30 range with 3,340, down by 5.8%. Toyota’s evergreen Corolla went to 3137 unit’s and that’s the third biggest decrease in the top ten at 17.3%. Position five is Mazda’s CX-5, down by 7.2% to 2,911.

Kia’s new Cerato is the big mover, up by 14%, with 2,832 unit finding new homes for position 6. Position 7 was Mitsubishi’s Triton, and compared to June of 2018 it’s down by 31.2% but this is accounted for by the outgoing model being on runout some time ago. The Mazda3 goes into Position 8 with 2,533 units, but that’s down by 23.9% compared to June 2018. Toyota takes out positions 9 and 10 with the RAV4 and Landcruiser, with 2,449 and 2,360. Again, though, they’re down by 9.0 and 707% respectively.

In brand sales Toyota holds top spot ahead of Mazda and Hyundai. Mitsubishi heads Ford for 4th and 5th, whilst Kia, Volkswagen, Nissan, Honda, and Holden fill out the top ten. It’s worth noticing that some of the brands in the top ten overall don’t feature in the top ten vehicle types. Nor do some of the more supposedly popular brands such as Mercedes-Benz or BMW.

Give Me A Brake

Imagine that you’re driving along a typical suburban street.  A movement to the side catches your eye and you spot somebody’s dog off the leash madly rushing full tilt down a driveway, barking madly at the cat across the road.  Next thing you know, Doggo is rushing into the road.  Without thinking, your right foot darts off the accelerator and hard onto the brake.  Your car screeches to a standstill, stopping short of that lunatic of a dog and shoving you hard against your seatbelt.  You growl something about idiotic animals and people who can’t control their dogs, then keep on going, barely thinking about the mechanical miracle that has just taken place.

Brakes. We take them for granted, especially after we’ve been driving for a few years.  However, they are super-important for safety.  Imagine what it would be like without them.  You might have had a small taste of this sort of thing as a child if you screamed downhill on a scooter or skateboard (or, in my case, a bike with worn-out brake pads) – that feeling of being out of control and knowing that gravity will accelerate you faster and that there’s no way of checking or slowing that thing down.

Needless to say, brakes pre-date cars.  Steam trains needed them and so did stagecoaches, and the basic principle behind all brakes is the same.  The vehicle is moving because the wheels are turning, so to stop it moving or to slow that motion down, one needs to slow the wheels down. This is done by clamping something large and hard onto the wheel, which produces friction that soaks up the kinetic energy of the wheels. And this is the first and most important mechanical principle behind any brake: friction.  The bigger the surface area applied to the turning wheels and the more force it’s applied with, the more quickly the turning stops.

In your car, the friction is applied by disc brakes, which have been around since Citroën put them on mass produced cars in 1955.  Disc brakes consist of a metal disc that’s incorporated into the wheel. You can have a powerful pair of callipers that grab this disc as it spins and slow the turning that way.  You can think of it as a more sophisticated adaptation of your old bike brakes: instead of grabbing the whole rim, it grabs something near the centre. The callipers are fitted with brake pads that are usually made of tough rubber, which absorbs heaps of force and can handle heat – and you need to make sure that you replace your brake pads on a regular basis, as they do wear out over time and you’re sunk without them.  You’ve also got drum brakes (or disc and drum), where a stationary disk covered with an energy absorbing lining, known as a shoe, presses against the disc, applying the necessary friction.

A lot of kinetic energy and a lot of momentum are involved in a moving car.  However, it takes the subtlest bit of pressure to slow a vehicle from, say, 100 km/h to 85 km/h as you approach a corner.  If your average mid-sized sedan has a mass of 1600 kg and the equation for velocity is K = (m × v2)/2… you’ll have gone from 617.83 kilojoules to 445.98 kilojoules or a difference of 171 kJ.  This is equivalent to roughly the energy expended by a petite woman doing slow dancing for quarter of an hour… and you sure didn’t apply that much with that little twitch of your foot. Obviously, something’s happened to amplify what your feet and legs did or the car wouldn’t have responded one iota.

The next mechanical principle that kicks in is the one discovered by Archimedes and I don’t mean the one that saw him running through the streets in the nude shouting “Eureka!” after his bathtub overflowed.  I mean the “Give me a long enough lever and a firm place to stand, and I can move the world.” In other words, the lever principle. One tiny movement on the short end leads to a lot of movement on the long end.  This is certainly at play in your brake system but amplification comes in the form of fluid courtesy of the principles of hydraulics.  Don’t make me go into the equations for hydraulics, as that’s university-level physics and I didn’t study that.

Fluids can’t be squashed, which is how water pistols work. Actually, a water pistol is a good place to start understanding the principles of hydraulics. You couldn’t throw water with one finger very far or with much force, but by applying pressure to that water, you can get quite a bit of water going a fair distance, preferably onto your big brother’s face.  The main force goes from your brake pedal to the master cylinder, which converts the force of your foot into hydraulic pressure, like your finger on the trigger of a water pistol.  The brake fluid then exerts pressure on the slave cylinders (one for each wheel that has the brakes) and the slaves apply the brake drum or the callipers, and everything kicks in to slow the vehicle down.

There are a lot of moving parts involved and naturally, given the nature of things, the business end of the brake will wear out over time.  And they will need to be replaced, so you really don’t want to try cheating or skipping on this important part of car maintenance.

If, for whatever reason, you’re in the scary situation where any of these systems fails, here’s what you do: