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Archive for September, 2019

Dieselgate Over? VW To Pay Up.

Volkswagen Australia has agreed to pay up to $140,000,000 to 100,000 Australian customers after it was found to be responsible for fuel consumption figures that varied substantially from the advertised. Buyers that purchased from the Audi, Skoda, and Volkswagen stables are eligible for payments of up to $1,400. The vehicles concerned are powered by their 2.0-litre “EA189” TDI engines.

A statement released by VW Australia says: ““this is a significant step towards fully resolving the diesel lawsuits in Australia, subject to approval by the Federal Court of Australia”. A number of class actions, including one from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, were based on the consumption figures and the resultant lowering of resale values. The settlement itself, says VW Australia, will be on a no-admissions basis. Settlements are expected to be concluded by sometime in 2020.

The lead plaintiff in this case is Alister Dalton. He’s said: “it’s pleasing there will finally be some closure and a resolution for thousands of Australians. It’s important that it forces some recognition from VW that there was a serious issue they had to face up to and deal with here in Australia regarding their vehicles.”

Hybrid News From The Three Pointed Star.

Luxury car brand Mercedes-Benz has provided details of their new hybrid C-Class. There is also a potentially hybrid and/or electric S-Class on its way sometime inside the next decade. The C 300 e Sedan has a motor that can deliver 90 kilowatts of power and 440Nm of torque. Without utilising the petrol engine, there is up to 52 kilometres of electrical driving. Pair in the petrol driven 2.0L four, with a handy 350Nm of torque and 155kW of power, driving the rear wheels via a nine speed auto, peak power is rated as 235kW and torque as 700Nm. M-B says that combined fuel economy can reach as low as 2.1L per 100 kilometres. 0 – 100kmh is 5.4 seconds, the same as the Standard Plus Tesla Model 3.

The standard C-Class has a 2.0L with slightly lesser power and torque at 150kW and 300Nm of twist. 0 – 100kmh is 7.1 seconds.

The battery pack is able to hold 13.5kWh. It can be recharged to full from empty in around two hours using a Type 2 charger, or seven hours on a home circuit. It’s a smart capable battery, which allows both the heater element and cooling system to pre-climatise the interior. Other electronic goodness comes from Live Traffic Updates as standard, the Driver Assistance Package which bundles the Mercedes-Benz Distronic automated cruise control in with a predictive speed adjustment system. This covers off bends, junctions, and roundabouts.

Overall, the range has 19 different variants. There’s petrol power, diesel oomph, hybrid drivelines, and four body shapes. Buyers can choose from Sedan, Estate (wagon), Coupe, and Cabrio. Mercedes also have a limited edition Sport Edition package that buyers can specify as an option for the Sedan, Estate and Coupe. Add it to the Sedan and Estate and that’s $7,700. It’s $7,200 for the Coupe. The range starts at $64,500 and the Sport Edition has driveaway prices starting at $69,900.

When it comes to the S-Class, M-B have previewed a possible version with the unveiling of the EQS concept. EQ is a separate division, a sub-brand, that Mercedes-Benz have created to have an electric car division. By selling the S-Class, which is slated to be available early in 2020, and the EQS a year or so after, M-B then allows their customers to choose which they feel best represents a top level vehicle.

One of the aims of the concept is to assist in getting Level 3 Autonomous Driving classification. The chassis itself will become a modular platform, and will form the basis for a range of vehicles the M-B say will be released in the early 2020s. However, the S-Class, at this stage, is looking to stay as a petrol or hybrid rand range, leaving the EQS series as the separate and complementary arm using electric power. There will be a highly intensive LED look too, for the EQS, to help differentiate visually.

New Model News from Land Rover and Mini.

Jaguar Land Rover has unveiled their new Defender. There’s a faint resemblance to the original with a three and five door shape, but it’s underneath and in construction that’s all new. At launch there will be a 90 Series and a 110 Series. There will be six levels of trim: Defender, S, SE, HSE, Defender X, and First Edition. Pricing is yet to be confirmed, with the 90 said to start from around $60, the 110 from around $70K. Accessory packs are grouped under four headings: Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban.

The body frame is aluminuim and rated as being three times stiffer than a body on chassis design with steel body panels. The drive system offers hybrid power, plus diesel and petrol. At launch, the petrol line-up comprises a powerful six-cylinder with 297kW, featuring efficient Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle technology. The diesel options are a pair of four-cylinder diesels, at 147kW and powerful 177kW. Ground clearance will enable a wading depth of up to 900mm. Sheer vertical front and rear designs aid in the departure and approach angles and a Wade Response program automatically adjusts the suspension. Wheel choice is varied with 12 different versions, including retro look pressed steel items.

The axles are now independent, not rigid, with air suspension an option on the 90 Series. The 110 Series will have it as standard. Seating for the 90 will be up to six, with the 110 offering more flexibility with up to seven seats. Passengers can get a glimpse of what’s around via the ClearSight Ground View technology. It shows areas usually hidden by the bonnet, directly ahead of the front wheels, on the central touchscreen. Along with the Wade program, a Configurable Terrain Response provides different driving abilities.

Deliveries are due to start for Australia in mid 2020. Another Iconic British nameplate, Mini, also released news of the Cooper SE. Powering this will be a 135kW electric engine. The three door machine will hit the 100km/h in around 7.3 seconds and has an estimated range of between 230km to 275km. Mini have chosen the smart floor mount route for the battery, meaning a low centre of gravity and this helps with handling. It also means that the interior packaging remains the same. MINI Australia General Manager Brett Waudby said: “The MINI Cooper SE Hatch marks a new era for our brand in providing our customers with a progressive mobility solution wrapped in a package that is unmistakably MINI in its look, feel and the way it drives.”

New Direction For Global Car Sales

A recent inventory on who the top passenger car manufacturers were worldwide showed that Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai and GM are the three leading passenger car manufacturers in the world.  Where are most of our new cars made?  The highly competitive nature of the global vehicle production industry reveals that most of the companies are based in Europe, Japan, South Korea, and the US.  Interestingly, the world’s largest producers of automobiles are China, the US, and Japan.

With this in mind, the four biggest passenger car manufacturers in the world in 2017 were: Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai and General Motors.  Both Toyota and VW produced close to 10.5 million vehicles in 2017, with Toyota only just nudging out VW from the top spot.  Hyundai produced a little over 7 million while GM produced just fewer than 7 million vehicles.

Since I’ve got you interested, have a guess as to who you think would be next.  Well, another US manufacturer, Ford, takes fifth place with 6.4 million cars produced.  Nissan is next on 5.8 million, closely followed by Honda on 5.2 million.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V., known as FCA, is an Italian-American multinational corporation and is the world’s eighth largest auto maker with 4.6 million units produced.

Two French car manufacturing groups finish out the top ten.  So in at ninth and tenth respectively are Renault with 4.2 million and Groupe PSA with 3.6 million.  Groupe PSA is a French multinational manufacturer of vehicles sold under the Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Opel and Vauxhall brands.

After some really big growth in 2017, there are a few signs that the car manufacturing industry is struggling a little.  Some of the recent news has been that Ford plans to close its Bridgend plant next year.  In February, Honda said it would close its Swindon plant by 2021.  It comes as car-makers around the globe struggle with a range of challenges, and it appears that consumers are buying fewer cars.

A few possible reasons why global car sales in 2018 experienced falling demand are:

  • Because China, the world’s biggest market, has experienced a slump in demand.
  • Stricter emission controls are making the development of new cars that will meet emissions regulations a lot more difficult. The need for new technology to meet these higher standards makes it more expensive to build cars.
  • The big movement to make electric vehicles (EVs) requires new investment. While it would also be fair to say that many countries just aren’t ready with the infrastructure to handle millions of new EVs.  Global sales of battery electric cars surged by 73% in 2018 to 1.3 million units, but 1.3 million is still just a fraction of the 86 million cars sold worldwide.  China is making great strides in creating plenty of EV infrastructures.  The other difficulty with EVs is they have very limited driving range.
  • As more and more driverless cars become mainstream it is conceivable that car ownership habits may change. If one driverless car drives as safely as the next driverless car then it might be that people would be happier to share or group-rent a vehicle rather than buy one outright just for themselves.

2019 Toyota HiAce LWB Petrol/Crew Cab Diesel/ SLWB Diesel Hi-Roof.: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Toyota’s completely revamped HiAce range. There is a choice of petrol or diesel, manual or automatic, long wheel base or super long wheel base, panel or crew cab. We were lucky to back to back to back three different versions. There is the LWB V6 petrol van, LWB diesel crew cab, and hi-roof diesel super long wheel base.Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.8L diesel, 3.5L petrol V6, and six speed autos in the vehicles tested. There is a six speed manual available but for the LWB panel van version only. The free spinning V6 produces 207kW (6,000rpm) and 351Nm (4,600rpm). The diesel has 130kW (3,400rpm) and either 420Nm for the manual (1,400rpm – 2,600rpm) or 450Nm (1,600rpm 2,400rpm) in the auto. Economy is quoted as 8.2L/100km for the petrol auto LWB, 8.4L/100km for the auto Crew Cab, and the same for the SLWB diesel auto van.What Does It Cost?: The range starts at $38,640 for the 3.5L LWB and $48,640 for the same engine inside the SLWB. The diesels are $42,140 for the LWB van, $47,140 for the crew cab, and $52,140 for the SLWB van. That’s before on road costs and dealership fees.

On The Outside It’s: Big. Boxy. Has a bonnet. That’s about it. Oh, the hi-roof has a ….. high roof. It’s 2,280mm in height which makes it 80mm too tall for some shopping centre car park entries. Otherwise there is 1,990mm for the panel and crew cab vans. Overall lengths are over five metres. The LWB is 5,265mm and has a 3,210mm wheelbase. The SLWB is 5,915mm in length and has a wheelbase of 3,860mm. Width is 1,950mm.There’s no doubt that Toyota’s designers and engineers worked hard together to ensure the design is familiar and efficient, with a profile not dissimilar to the previous model from the rear to the front doors. It’s that bonnet that showcases the change in design, with the extra frontal safety it brings and a balance to the weight distribution. Both sides of the van have sliding doors with a soft touch close. Glass is standard, changing that for steel is optional.

Up front is a nose that stands proud of the rest of the body and houses a squarish grille and surround, squarish headlights, and even squarish wing mirrors. This echoes the overall body before the long rectangles of the tail light cluster. The LWB petrol has grey plastic panels (body colour optional), with the Crew Cab and SLWB had body coloured panels. Rubber is from Bridgestone and is 215/70/16 on steel wheels with plastic covers.

On The Inside It’s: A revamped driver’s cabin with an easy to read dash display, steering wheel tabs, and Toyota’s easy to use 7.0 inch touchscreen system. The seats are all cloth covered, and the Crew Cab has a centre console tray. The SLWB and the petrol van have painted metal and sheet wood interiors on the doors and rear panels. There’s tie down hooks and in the SLWB enough space to double as a Sydney apartment. It also has two storage shelves above the driver and passenger. Volumes for the new HiAce are decent. The SLWB is 9.3 cubic metres, with the LWB rated as 6.2 cubic metres. The payload for the SLWB is 1,175kg for the diesel, with the petrol somewhat oddly higher at 1,295kg. The LWB auto diesel is 955kg, and the diesel crew is 875kg.Dimensions are rated as 2,530mm in cargo length, 1,760mm in width, 1,268mm between the arches, and 1,340mm in height for the LWB van. Inside the SLWB it’s 3,180mm, 1,760mm, 1,268mm, and a decent 1,615mm in height. The Crew Cab is the same for height and width as the LWB.What was a surprise was how car-like it was in layout and features. For example, DAB audio is onboard along with the CD player, USB ports and 12V socket. The driver’s 4.2 inch information screen is colour, not monochrome, and there’s a good list of safety features. The Crew Cab has 9 airbags, with the LWB petrol and SLWB diesel both scoring seven. The love continues with an active Pre-Collision Safety System with day AND night time pedestrian detection, plus day time cyclist detection. Lane Departure Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, plus Blind Spot Monitor are also here. THEN there is Road Sign Assist to add in plus a reverse camera with guidance lines and a nifty feature here too. A second camera is linked to the rear vision mirror and shows rear vision without Reverse gear. What hasn’t changed is one small yet familiar detail. On the passenger side and in its little nook behind the sliding door is the jack and tools for it. That essentially hasn’t changed for four decades.On The Road It’s: A car disguised as a van. Yep, that’s the easiest way to describe the way it rides and handles, even with the compromise light commercial oriented rubber. Yes, there is some grip issue occasionally, but that’s more a minor hiccup. The suspension is MacPherson struts meets a leaf sprung rigid axle, and it works admirably. Comfort levels on road are high, as a result, with a well controlled ride. However, it’s not recommended to drive these on windy days. That flat and boxy profile makes an excellent sail for catching wind.Steering is an unusual feel and not in a bad way. The driver’s seat is some 1,200mm behind the front wheel’s centreline yet it’s calibrated so that it feels as if the driver is sitting directly over the top. The ratio is quick, too, with what feels like a variable ratio setup. This makes a three point turn seem less onerous that what it can be, especially with long wheelbases.

Naturally there’s plenty of drumming from road noise. As there’s little to no insulation, the road noise gets very easily transmitted up and into the cabin. The SLWB especially has the driver feeling as if a pair of noise cancelling headphones are required. The petrol V6 has some serious urge and will launch the 2205kg (dry) van easily and with alacrity. It wasn’t tried but with traction control turned off, it’s a fair bet it would spin the rear driven wheels into a cloud of smoke. It’s silky smooth and spins without issue. The diesels pull hard, naturally, yet don’t seem to have the same electric urge expected. And being ahead of the driver their chatter is muted.What About The Warranty? Here is what Toyota says.

At The End Of The Drive. They were and continue to be a familiar shape on Aussie roads, thanks to one particular telco giant’s constant order base. This latest version, complete with car-like ride and car-like features, can do naught but reinforce why it’s been a mainstay of Light Commercial Vehicles (or Large Capable Vans) for four decades or so. The pricing is pretty decent here too, and that goes a long way to cementing the HiAce’s status as the go-to vehicle for this class.

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Tesla Model 3 Standard Plus: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The 2019/2020 Tesla Model 3. In August 2019 Tesla Australia released the Model 3 for local consumption. It’s a pared back Model S, in the sense that there’s a strong family resemblance to the sedan, however some of the features are deliberately lower key. That doesn’t mean that they’re of lesser value in usage.What Does It Cost?: The car supplied has a starting price of $66,000. Deep Blue Metallic Paint is $1,400. The full self driving capability package is $8,500. With other charges such as government and dealership fees, the final price was $81,165.Under The Bonnet Is: A choice of two drivelines to choose from, being the Standard Plus Performance. Simply put, the Standard has a battery better suited for city or short distance country driving. A full 100% charge offers a mooted 460 kilometres which of course is condition and driver dependent. The car provided was fitted with a rear wheel drive setup, as opposed to the Performance with a dual motor option. Suspension is double wishbone up front, and fitted with a virtual steer axis front suspension with coil over twin-tube shock absorbers and stabilizer bar. The rear is fully independent multi-link rear suspension with twin-tube shock absorbers and stabilizer bar. Steering is handled by a variable ratio and speed sensitive electronic power steering.On The Outside It’s: As mentioned, there is more than a passing resemblance to the larger Model S. The profile is similar, with the windowline almost identical, but the boot is stubbier with a small integrated lip spoiler. Also, the tail lights look the same. The main difference is up front. It’s not impossible to think Porsche when gazing upon the nose as the design, especially around the LED headlights, look very Germanic. Rubber is from Michelin in Pilot Sport specification and are 235/45/ZR18 on charcoal aero alloys. One of the notable changes is in respect to the door opening mechanism. There’s no self opening, and no interior door handles. These have been replaced by small touch tabs. The exterior handles are L shaped in a horizontal design, and work by pressing the rear which levers out the longer part of the L and simultaneously drops the window slightly. The boot lid is fully manual in operation also.On the Inside It’s: A bigger difference. There is no “traditional” looking dash as in a driver’s binnacle. Everything is controlled via a landscape oriented touchscreen that is centrally mounted. Even the glovebox is opened via the screen.Behind this, in the test car, was a single sheet of wood stretching across the full width and it sits atop a subtle full width slot that houses the main airvents. Beyond that is the speaker bar and that sits at the base of the windscreen. It’s minimalistic, uncluttered, classy, and not to everyone’s tastes.Above the passengers is a deeply tinted full glass roof, with front and rear separated by a dividing roll protection bar that’s been tested to withstand a force of a couple of tonnes.Drive is engaged via a lever on the right side of the powered steering column, with indicators and wipers on the left. Park is engaged by pressing a button on the right stalk’s end. The indicators have a three blink mode, or when pressed more firmly, will stay on until the driver manually disengages them when changing lanes. Having the three blink option isn’t one we support as it leads to lazy driving habits. The tiller is standard in look, bar two roller switches in the arm. These also can be moved slightly left and right when, for example, adjusting the powered mirrors for position, or changing audio stations.There is a form of voice activation embedded in the car as well. One form of usage is to ask the navigation system to take the car to a final location. There are also a range of games which cannot be accessed while the car is in motion, however a Toybox icon brings up various forms of entertainment, including “Emissions Testing”…five year old girls and boys will love it. As will most adults.To add to the difference is something the automotive industry will no doubt see more off. There is no key. There is a card or two called Concierge Card, however the main method to gain access and perform other operations remotely is via a smartphone app. Once paired, the car reads the presence of the phone, and will lock the car from a distance of between five to seven metres.That same app provides charging information, location of charging points, and remote operation of the locking mechanisms including the charge port flap on the rear left corner. Those cards, otherwise, grant access via a centre console reader, or one in the B pillar behind the driver.The display screen default is the Google maps image to the left and centre, with the right showing the drive display. Sensors and cameras around show a computer generated image showing the car and its location relevant to the road and surrounding traffic. To change the air-conditioning settings, it’s a form of pinch and swipe on a graphic that shows the image of the slot. Some of the information on the screen is laid out in response to Tesla owner feedback. To the bottom right are icons that depict the car settings, audio and for access to ancilliary actions. These are here as a result of that feedback, with the heating for rear and front window moved to the far left as these were icons, drivers said, are far less used therefore don’t need to be close to a right hand driver.

Although seating is designed to seat five, it’s best used as a four seater. There are a pair of USB ports up front, and a pair for the rear seats.Out on The Road It’s: Dare we say, typical Tesla. What that means is devastating performance both from a standing start and in rolling acceleration. Tesla’s 0-100km/h time is quoted as 5.6 seconds for the Standard. That feels slower than real world seat of the pants feedback would suggest. There are no official figures for rolling acceleration but again, seat of the pants says quick.The Tesla Model 3 Standard Plus was taken on a drive loop from the lower Blue Mountains to a town in the NSW Southern Highlands named Robertson, to Bowral, then back. Charge used to arrive at Robertson was over 50%. However it needs to be said that this involved some noticeable uphill runs, along with the subtle climb that the main southern highway has to that area. There are no superchargers in the area and typing in “destination chargers” in the navigation showed one to be a charge plug unsuitable for Tesla ports. Tesla Destination Chargers revealed one at a highway inn on the outskirts of Bowral.Robertson itself is “famous” for its pie shop, and rightly so. As it’s an ideal spot to stop between Wollongong, Kiama, Berry/Nowra, and the Bowral/Mittagong towns, it’d also make an ideal spot for a Tesla Supercharger. The one sourced was of the maximum 22kW variety, with an hour or so to charge in an extra 20% to be on the safe side to get home. Once the destination was typed in, it shows estimated time of travel and estimated charge left. Both were virtually spot on, with just 30% used on the return journey.The ride quality and steering is superb. Model 3 could be seen as the sports car entry in the Tesla range, and even though the Standard Plus has a slightly higher road clearance height, it’s still clearly low enough to provide a sense of sports car. The chassis and suspension work well to allow a sporting minded driver to push it top its limit, and in conjunction with the superb grip from the Michelin rubber, means that it really hangs on at velocities in turns that some others would need to be at five to ten kilometres per hour, maybe more, slower. This is also where the brilliantly balanced brake pedal came into its own. Although the regeneration system can slow the car well enough in some circumstances,t the pedal provides ample communication when needed.It’s a beautifully supple chassis too, with bump absorption on the very irregular back roads brilliantly sorted. Actual road noise isn’t fantastic on these sorts of roads, but once back on the smoother tarmac, the only really noticeable noise was wind.Charge levels, well, they’re the same as fuel usage. Go hard and that estimated range disappears quickly. Go gently, and range gets better. There is adjustable settings for the regenerative system, and this seemed to vary in grip depending on whether there was a slop to go down or coming up to a stop sign on a flat road. To gauge the driving style, the touchscreen shows the same sort of information the Model S and Model X have on their driver’s screen. Yellow for positive energy usage, a black like for when the car is using the battery.

When it comes to the autonomous service, the Tesla Model 3 relies on sensors and cameras to read the road ahead and around. A small steering wheel icon comes up on the screen, and one or two pushes downwards on the right hand stalk. This brings the car to full autonomous, with steering and active cruise control (with distance settings also adjustable) fully involved. However, it will still warn the driver that hands on the wheel should still be the norm.Left to its own devices, the steering will follow the roadside markings without issue. It will not work if there are substantially degraded or non-visible markings to be read. The motions are a mix of fluid and jerky, with longer corners having the wheel move minutely, section by section. Most of the drive though was under human control.

At the End Of the Drive. Tesla had promised a cheaper car for some time. It’s here. In Standard Plus trim, it’s an ideal city based vehicle. Ride quality, handling, a basic features list, make for an $81K electric car that can be held up, finally, as a worthy option compared to petroleum fueled cars. The inside happily swallows four, has a boot big enough to deal with a family, and isn’t unattractive to look at.And although the outright electric only competition is increasing, it’s still not a crowded market. For now, Tesla is still the leader.
Here is where more can be found.

Women and Their New Car

According to recent Forbes research, 62% of new car buyers in America are women.  They also suggest that 85% of new car buys are influenced by women.  Australia can’t be too far behind these stats, either.  But when it comes to spending habits, men and women are still vastly different, with very different priorities for their money.  Research shows that men are more likely to splash out and buy big, whereas women focus more on lifestyle which also means being comfortable with spending money on a new car without the guilt.  These spending habits and goal orientations do also align with what sort of cars women and men generally buy.

Think about this for an example.  Just over 90% of those purchasing a Ferrari are men.  Men tend to love big, fast cars more and are image conscious, like to focus on style and are more likely to be turned on by a car’s technology.  On the other hand, generally speaking, most women tend to be more concerned with how reliable and safe their new car will be, the car’s style and colour, and whether it will fit her needs.

A few years ago Autogenie did a bit of research from a random sampling of around 6000 brand new vehicles that were purchased back in 2013, and it was consistently divided between male and female buyers.  The study noted that women bought small cars and SUVs, while men preferred to buy sedans and ute’s.  Interestingly, the most popular vehicles that were purchased by male buyers were the Ford Mondeo, the Ford Ranger ute and the Toyota Hilux ute.  Women new car buyers preferred buying the Mazda6, Toyota Kluger SUV and Holden Barina city car.

Mazda3 a Winner With Women

The study also revealed that both male and female new car buyers liked the Mazda3.  Both the Mazda CX-5 and Volkswagen Golf made it to the best five most accepted models that men and women liked equally.  Among the male buyers, the larger Holden Commodore was well-accepted, finishing as the 4th most wanted model.  On the other hand, female customers preferred to buy smaller cars, and these were the Mazda3, Hyundai i30 and VW Golf.

But let’s, for moment, take the gender comparison out of what drives a buyer to buy a particular type of new car, and we find that everyone has different priorities for purchasing a new car.  The car’s fuel economy, purchase price, looks, interior space, and the number of luxury items and gadgets will all be factors which will tip the scales toward buying one new car from the other.

The ways people are buying new cars are also changing.  A lot more people now use online reviews and online guidelines to get an idea about vehicles they would, or might like to, buy.  Particularly women are turning to their social networks — both online and offline — for vehicle recommendations, according to Cars.com research.  Women like to turn to their friends and family for recommendations of what new car to buy because they don’t have a specific car in mind that they want to get.

Hatch, Sedan or SUV?

Women are looking for a vehicle that will fit their lifestyle, so they will need something for hauling their big dogs to the beach or something for traveling safely on back roads or something that’ll make the city traffic and tight spaces less stressful.  Women focus on safety, reliability and comfort. They’re also less brand loyal than male new car buyers.  These findings have been backed up by J.D. Power research.  Men will be more common to place performance and style on their car want list, as well as the latest technology like panoramic moonroofs and multimedia systems.

Buying a new car is always exciting.  During August, in Australia, the top-selling cars (in order from most bought to least) were:  Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai i30, Toyota RAV4, Mazda3, Toyota LandCruiser, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi Triton and the Nissan X-Trail.  I wonder which ones were bought most by women?

Bugatti’s Chiron Goes Lower For Higher.

When automotive speed records are talked about, engine power and a slippery, aerodynamically shaped, body are the first thoughts. Weight, too, is a thought. Then there is the type of vehicle and it’s fair to think of jet or rocket powered cars. Australia’s Rosco McGlashan, for example, is finalising his Aussie Invader 5 rocket car for a tilt at the outright speed record. But what about location?

Bugatti recently faced that question head on when it came to attempting and creating a supercar speed record of 304.773 miles per hour or 490.484 kilometres per hour. Although the Chiron based car, driven by British born Bugatti chief test driver Andy Wallace, had been lengthened in the body by chassis maker Dallara for a better airflow, had a modified exhaust for the otherwise standard quad-turbo 1,600hp W16 engine, and had been lowered in height, Bugatti had looked into a couple of locations for the attempt. As it turns out, there’s some “Big Bang Theory” style physics involved.

In Germany is a state known as Lower Saxony. It’s situated in the north-west of the country, and it’s home to a very special part of the automotive world. It’s the Ehra-Lessien high speed bowl. There are three lanes and the track is 21 kilometres, or 13 miles, in length. Naturally, safety is crucial, and at the northern and southern ends are high quality safety facilities should things go awry. That is a positive, straight away. However, the physics comes from the height of the location itself. Ehra-Lessien is virtually at sea-level, which means air pressure and density is higher than a location even just 1,000 metres higher. The actual molecules of air are more tightly compressed at sea level and as height increases, that density decreases as a result of the pressure falling off.

Nevada, in the west of the continental United States, plays host to many high speed attempts. Neighbouring Utah has the Bonneville salt flats, and these are 1,291 metres above sea level. This height difference has the benefit of having air pressure at around 86% to 88% lower than at sea level, such as that found at Ehra-Lessien. This effectively means that less engine effort is required to achieve, theoretically, the same speed at sea level.

There is a name for the relationship between inertial forces and frictional forces. This is called the Reynolds Number. This equation is then used with air pressure & density and a vehicle’s drag coefficient. Climb a mountain and the Reynolds Number decreases in correlation with the density of the air. To use 1,000 metres as a yardstick density has decreased by around ten percent, and the Reynolds Number also has decreased by ten percent. However it’s been calculated that the Reynolds Number is still at a level that has a vehicle’s drag coefficient virtually equaling what it would read at sea level. This became part of Bugatti’s choice in location, with the safety facilities becoming the sealer of the deal.

Although it was calculated that the Bugatti Chiron could have seen a v-Max of 329mph, possibly even 330mph, by undertaking the attempt in the U.S., the final differences were, in Bugatti’s opinion, not worth the effort needed to get to the proposed Nevada location. It was deemed that the safety factor in Germany was higher and the chance of a “mere” extra 25mph by using a higher location was outweighed in the safety stakes because of a one way track, meaning if there had been an incident, safety vehicles would take longer to reach the site.

As it is, Bugatti have created a new supercar speed record and they’re now content to leave that area of challenge to focus on further developments of their range.

2019 Lexus LS 500h: Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The Luxury Sedan in the luxury arm of the Toyota family called Lexus. Named the LS 500h, with the h standing for hybrid, it’s a long, long, car that’s packed full of tech, niceties, and a couple of quirks.

What Does It Cost?: $196,125. That’s before options, government charges, and delivery charges at the dealership level. It’s a fair bit of coin and places the LS 500h firmly in the same area as the Audi A8 and entry level BMW 7 Series. However, the Lexus website indicates a driveaway price of not much more than $203,500 for the LS 500h in Luxury trim. Add in the Sports Luxury package and that’s up to $209,400. From here there are enhancement packs that include items such as handcut Kiriko glass and hand-pleated black leather.Under The Bonnet Is: A ten ratio, super slick, automatic that is bolted to a battery pack and 3.5L V6. Peak power is quoted as 264kW. The non-hybrid version has 310kW and 600Nm from a twin turbo V6. Economy is quoted as 6.6L/100km. Emissions are 150g/km. We reached an average of 9.7?100km on a 70/30 suburban/highway cycle.On the Outside It’s: Dominated by that air intake that’s made of 5,000 individual pieces. Lexus handcraft the spindle grille and in their own words: “The design process behind the grille would be considered extravagant if the result were anything less than visionary.” Indeed. The 5,235mm length starts with that, and that huge grille sees full LED illumination either side, both in headlights and the separate driving/indicator lights.At just 1,450mm in total height, the LS looks longer than that length measurement suggests. Such are the proportions that the driver is placed at the halfway point of the car. Subtle lines highlight the gentle upswing of the rear window line before a surprisingly small bootspace of 440L finishes with LED tail lights. Both front and rear indicators follow the Audi-eque style of flashing longitudinally in sequence, rather than all at once. Rubber is Bridgestone’s Turanza and at 245/45 front and rear on 20 inch diameter chromed alloys, it makes for an impressive footprint.On The Inside It’s: An impressive place. There are: Heated and vented front seats with three memory positions. Heated and massage capable rear seats. Blu-ray player and screens for the rear seats. 23 speakers of DAB quality sound from Mark Levinson. 12 airbags. Quad zone airconditioning. A passenger side section of the dash that lights up internally. Mood lighting. Rear and side window sunshades, which sees the rear lower on engaging Reverse… And that damnable touch interface on the centre console. It’s time to bench it and go for something ergonomically and user friendly. There’s also no wireless charge pad…The centre console houses some operating buttons and one is for the height adjustable air suspension.Back to that touchpad. Even allowing for touch and sensitivity setting changes, it’s not intuitive in usage. The cursor on the 12.3 inch display screen never seems to correctly line up with the icon being sought, some options are a swipe as opposed to a click like a mouse, and the menu system itself doesn’t always make for user friendly interpretation.The seating position for each pew is simply operated. The driver’s seat moves when power is switched off to provide lift and space for easier exit from the car. The rear seats have multiple modes for top of back, lumbar, and lower back massaging. It makes for interesting passage for the rear seat passengers, especially those that are in late primary and early high school. Because there is a screen each, their comfort level is higher than a single roof mounted screen. However, their centre fold out console which has a touchscreen for aircon and audio, allows the rear seat passengers to control audio for the front seats too…a separate audio source for headphone wearers would be more suitable.For the driver there is a classy looking binnacle and dash. Leather material surrounds the area and is stitched. The screen is full colour and changes in look depending on which drive mode is selected via the toggle dial on top left. Normal mechanical analogue gauges on either side show fuel and temperature. There is a HUD as well. This shows a broad variety of info but the display is limited to being adjustable for brightness and height only.Design wise, the dash showcases and mirrors the grille. Sine wave lines stretch from side to side, and in front of the passenger is a translucent panel that is lit internally to match the lines. The stitching in the seats in the test car also matches the stitching and dash, making for a cohesive appearance. What’s also cohesive is the feel of the centre console storage lid. Buttons on either side allow the lid to be opened in either direction. It’s a small yet eminently usable feature.Out On The Road It’s: A mix of power, grace, sportiness, and hmmm. It will launch, and hard, from a standing start. It will handle back country roads, of rutted surfaces and sweeping corners, as easily as it does smooth highways and suburban roads. It can be driven with verve and a nod towards sports as equally well as it can be driven gently and politely. The hmm is the reaction time from the air suspension.

As much as the LS 500h can waft along, hit anything of a height of five centimetres or more at certain speeds, and rather that “pillow” over the top, there’s a solid bang instead. It’s a small jolt, to be sure, but a jolt nonetheless. It isn’t a common occurrence either, as the car isn’t intended to be driven in such environments to invite those intrusions.We took the LS 500h on a drive loop from the Blue Mountains to Kiama via the Hume Highway, the Mount Keira road near Wollongong, then back via the Jamberoo Road through to Robertson, home of the The Giant Potato, then back roads north through to Mittagong and along the Hume again. It’s a superb and relaxed cruiser on the freeway, with plenty of noise insulation keeping the extraneous noises to a minimum.Sink the slipper and the V6 roars into life. There’s an odd note to it, but in a good way, with a hint of V8 to the tone. Acceleration is indecent for a big car, and the power steering assistance is calibrated to provide instant response to the slightest touch. Drive itself is engaged via a rocker switch selector, with Park engaged via a push button.Get into the winding roads heading down to Wollongong and out from Kiama, and the chassis sits flat, allowing the steering and drivetrain to perfectly combine for a drive experience best described as exhilarating. The Lexus can be pushed hard, harder than expected, with a surefooted and confident approach. Range Road, just to the south east of Bowral, the home of the Don Bradman museum, showcases the ability of the chassis, with varying road conditions meeting sweeping turns before sharp corners that test the brakes and handling. Apart from the aforementioned bang from the suspension occasionally, the LS 500h shone brightly.What About Safety?: A four position camera system allows for 360 degree viewing and the high definition display screen makes for crystal sharp viewing. Depending of trim level there are ten or twelve airbags. The LED headlights are adaptive in direction and the rear lights flash under emergency braking. Naturally Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Monitoring are standard, as is Autonomous Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Detection. Radar Cruise Control with distance adjustment is perfect for the highways and freeways. The bonnet is pedestrian friendly, with an emergency pop up system if the sensors read an impact. There is also Front Cross Traffic Assist, alongside Lane Keep Assist and Roadsign Detection. The Front Cross Traffic Assist is very handy in areas such as the Kiama lighthouse carpark.And The Warranty Is?: Still just four years or 100,000 kilometres. On a service booking, Lexus may provide a loan car or organise a pickup & return for a home or business address. More info on owner benefits can be found here.

At The End Of the Drive. The question is simple. Is $203K worth the ask? This car will appeal to a wealthy and retired audience, or perhaps a niche chauffeur service. There is no doubt at all that the car can be driven in a hard and sporting manner just as easily as its more likely purpose. The trackpad interface is only a small part of the experience, yet it’s a series of papercuts that overcomes any supposed advantage. The economy could be better too, but again the intended market wouldn’t worry about fuel costs. As an example of technology in an automotive sense, it wins here.

Have a look at the details here.

 

Hyundai Has A New Venue.

Hyundai’s bold new Venue SUV marks a fresh entry point to the Hyundai range. It’s available very soon and will have a starting price from $19,990 (Manufacturer’s list price). Venue will become the Hyundai SUV entry point to a broad small car range, offering the road presence and interior space of an SUV, combined with the parking ease, economy, and manoeuvrability of a light car.

A three-grade line-up provides a new Venue to suit every customer, each with a flexible and economical 90kW, 151Nm 1.6-litre engine, front-wheel drive, and a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions depending on the model grade. A two-stage variable intake system is fitted and designed to maximise low-end torque and drivability. The three grades are: Go, Active, and Elite.

The Venue Go auto starts from $21,990 plus costs. The Active starts from $21,490 for the manual, and the auto steps up at $23,490. Elite kicks off from $25,490, and metallic paint is a $495 option.

Hyundai’s SmartSense safety suite is standard in every Venue, and incorporates Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Driver Attention Warning, High Beam Assist and tyre-pressure monitoring. The range-opening Venue Go also features dusk-sensing headlights, hill-assist control system, cruise control and six airbags. Headlining an array of standard equipment in new Venue is an 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia unit featuring Bluetooth streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a reversing camera.

The Venue Active adds Rear Parking Distance Warning (PDW-R) system, LED daytime running lights, powered folding exterior mirrors with LED side repeaters, alloy wheels, and leather appointed steering wheel and gear knob. Stepping up to the Venue Elite, customers also get Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW) and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning (RCCW) systems, climate control, LED taillights, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a distinctive two-tone roof.

A Drive Mode system in Venue automatic variants allows customers to choose a powertrain setting that best suits their driving style. In addition, an all-new Traction Mode system offers unique traction control calibrations suited to snow, mud or sand driving. Venue benefits from a comprehensive Australian-specific chassis tune that delivers playful dynamics together with ride sophistication that is more commonly associated with larger vehicles. Exhaustive suspension testing and tuning by Australian engineers took place both at the Hyundai Namyang Research and Development Centre in Korea as well as a range of harsh and challenging Australian roads.

Venue applies Hyundai’s signature cascading grille and stacked headlight design to convey a bold road presence. Exaggerated wheel-arches build on the frontal styling to create a squat and athletic stance that is enhanced by strong character lines. An intuitive, practical and robust interior design complements Venue’s rugged exterior image. The cabin is headlined by a large tablet-style 8.0-inch multimedia display, and provides a sophisticated ambience through the use of black, grey and denim-coloured interior trim combinations. Venue provides the high level of practicality that SUV buyers demand, with an abundance of clever solutions that help maximise the use of interior space, and allow a generous 355-litre luggage space.

“The new Venue is ahead of the curve, offering customers a high level of value in a practical and well-equipped compact SUV. As our new range-entry model, the Venue combines the rugged looks and practical benefits of an SUV and a light car, with advanced safety technology at an attractive price point,”  said Hyundai Motor Company Australia Chief Executive Officer, JW Lee said.

Head to Hyundai’s website for more information.