As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Archive for October, 2020

Tesla Hikes Charging Rates at its Supercharger Stations

While it’s meant to be a frontrunner for the rush to electric vehicle adoption, Tesla has made a decision that has raised the eyebrows of industry onlookers, increasing the cost of its charging rates at Supercharger sites.

The move is understood to have been implemented silently over the last few weeks, despite the absence of any official confirmation from the auto-maker. The increase in price is equivalent to a near 25% jump, with the charge per kW increasing from $0.42 per kW to $0.52 per kW.

 

How will owners be impacted?

Australian Tesla owners have had little say in the matter, with no heads up given before the price increase. Of course, it would likely be out of owners hands even if they were advised, since the company’s 35 Supercharger sites across the nation have been an integral part of the broader infrastructure network being rolled out to support electric vehicle uptake. That network is set to expand by a further 7 soon enough, with additional sites currently being built.

To better understand the cost impact, one estimate provided by Caradvice focused on the Model 3 Long Range. Their estimates suggested that charging the Model 3 Long Range from an empty battery to a full battery would now cost approximately $43.30, a notable increase from the former price of around $35. That might still be some part cheaper than most if not all ICE vehicles, however, let’s not forget that some technology companies – which Tesla certainly is as much as an auto-maker – are price makers.

 

 

We certainly hope the manufacturer doesn’t plan to push through any further price hikes in the near-term, because we might start to see questions being asked as to the value motorists are getting. It’s one thing for the latest electric vehicles to be equipped with long range capacity, however, having to paying more for the ‘luxury’ to charge them at Tesla’s sites may be a contentious move, even if the car company has recently taken an axe to the retail price of its cars.

Nonetheless, as far as driver uptake goes, shifting numbers around to pay less up-front and then pay more while in use could gain traction – provided motorists are actually aware of what they’re signing up for. That’s the missing thing here, however, greater transparency. And Tesla will need to remember they might enjoy an early-mover advantage right now, but will it last if you alienate your customers through non-communicated price hikes?

Vehicles for Towing

Getting the right Tow Vehicle

For a number of people, towing the boat or caravan to the holiday spot for some much needed R&R is what makes life exciting for them.  And, on a more work-related note, towing is essential if you’re a builder, labourer, farmer or gardener.  So what does make a good tow vehicle?  A good tow vehicle must be structurally strong, and it must offer plenty of torque -­ the lower down the revs the better.

Before all else, always check the manufacturer’s tow capacity guidelines for any vehicle that you are interested in purchasing, particularly if towing is going to be one of the tasks on the vehicle’s to-do-list.  A vehicle’s towing capacity is determined by its manufacturer and it is based on factors such as: the engineering and structural design of the vehicle, the vehicle’s rear axle load limits, the capacity of its tyres, the effect the laden trailer will have on the vehicle’s handling and stability, and the durability of the car’s underpinnings, and overall road safety.

So, after checking the manufacturer’s guidelines, then you need to look at what power and, more particularly, what torque is on offer.  Generally, vehicles with diesel engines make better towing vehicles than equivalent petrol-powered models because they produce much higher torque in low-to-medium engine revolution.  They are also more fuel efficient when under load.  Peak torque figures under 200 Nm will struggle to keep up with modern-day motorway and open-road demands, and throw in a hill or two and you’ll quickly have a build-up of traffic following behind you.

RWD vehicles are better than FWD vehicles for towing because any weight that pushes down on the tow ball will generally lighten the front wheels at the same time, which lessens the traction available to the front wheels.  The more wheel chatter (where the front wheels lose and gain traction instantly) that the front wheels endure, the more the wear and tear will be found on the FWD componentry.

If you’re only pulling a small trailer load of rubbish to the dump, then it’s surprising what most vehicles will tow.  However, I’m focusing on those of us who require trailer loads that are going to be more than 700 kg laden.  Here are some useful towing vehicles you might like to consider:

The Mitsubishi Outlander is a seven-seater SUV that has a maximum towing capacity of 2000 kg braked.  Its 2.2-litre Turbo-Diesel engine boasts 110 kW of power and a very useful 360 Nm of torque.  The Outlander Turbo-Diesel motor offers 360 Nm from 1500 rpm to 2750 rpm, making towing a breeze.  It’s also a fuel efficient and roomy SUV even when you’re not towing.  A combined fuel consumption is a claimed 6.2 litres/100 km: quite impressive.

Hyundai’s Tucson has a maximum towing capacity of 1600 kg braked.  This mid-size SUV has a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine with 136 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque.  That 400 Nm is definitely a strong asset when it comes to towing.  The Tucson is also frugal without the trailer.

Another option for light towing duties would be the Suzuki Grand Vitara Sport.  With a maximum towing capacity of 1700 kg braked and 750 kg un-braked it’s a handy workhorse to have around.  Being RWD that will employ the FWD when required makes for decent traction.  A larger 2000 kg braked capacity is offered with the V6 Sport model.  The Grand Vitara uses a 2.4-litre petrol and a four-speed auto delivering a 122 kW/225 Nm combo through the dual-range transmission.  The torque comes on strongly from lower down in the revs.

A Hyundai Sante Fe with the 2.2-litre turbo diesel can tow a 2000 kg braked trailer.  On offer is a remarkably grunty 440 Nm of torque that sets off low down in the revs for easy power delivery for towing.

The Mazda CX-5 2.2-litre diesel is also capable of towing a braked trailer up to 1800 kg.  With 393 Nm of torque, this is a smooth cruiser.  Mazda’s CX-9 can tow a 2000 kg braked trailer or up to 750 kg unbraked.  Mazda’s CX-9 petrol engines perform very well and are very fuel efficient.  This is a big seven-seater wagon with a turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine boasting 170 kW at 5000 rpm and 420 Nm of torque at 2000 rpm.  This CX-9 is a great family all-rounder with plenty of space on offer.

The small Audi Q3 2.0-litre diesel SUV, which can tow a braked trailer up to 2000 kg offers a decent European towing option.  A responsive 380 Nm of torque from 1750 rpm works well, and it’s also Quattro (AWD).

SKODA’s Kodiaq SUV can tow up to 2000 kg braked. It’s also roomy and very practical.  With the option of 4WD and some very powerful diesel engines, this is a really good tow vehicle to have parked up the driveway.  It also has a 620 litre boot space with five seats up or 270 litres in seven-seat guise.

What about the Volkswagen Tiguan?  This is a stable and spacious drive, offering a 2500 kg braked towing capacity.  Having the option of AWD, the Tiguan goes some serious places and is therefore great for getting onto gravel-type roads.  A towing assistance package and plenty of space makes this a likable tow vehicle.

Something a bit different would be BMW’s 520d Touring wagon, which is RWD or AWD and is a decent towing vehicle (2000 kg braked).  Excellent handling, even when towing, makes it a joy to drive.  The 4×4 automatic transmission and strong engine makes this a really easy car to manage for drivers towing a load.  There’s heaps of room in the boot to pack in everything you need for family weekends away.

Another station wagon that happily tows a trailer or caravan is the Audi A6 Allroad.  This is an Estate with AWD, and it is also very comfortable and well-equipped.  The toque-filled TDI engine makes for a quick drive and a heap of grunt.  You also get 565 litres of boot space, which goes up to 1680 litres with the rear seats down.

On the station wagon theme, the last of the recent Falcon and Commodore Wagons are RWD and have always been great towing vehicles.  They offered RWD utes as well.  Sadly these icons won’t be with us anymore.

Some more serious towing machines:

The Mitsubishi Pajero 3.0 diesel 4X4 SUV is capable of towing a 3300 kg braked trailer.

Toyota’s Prado 3.0 diesel 4X$ SUV will tow up to a 2500 kg as a braked trailer.

The Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover vehicles are a very good towing machine.  It’s also luxurious and practical, and will happily head of into the toughest off-road terrain.  The Discovery can pull up to 3000 kg braked.  Inside there’s room for seven adults as well as an impressively-sized boot to bring along the luggage for all those people.

An LDV T60 ute is a solid, capable performer. With a 2.8-litre 110kW/360Nm turbo diesel four-cylinder, this is more than enough grunt to tow up to 2200 kg.  Boasting a remarkable fuel economy figure of 10 litres/100 km towing and offering a low buying price makes this a very tempting tow package.

Though Nissan runs both a single- and twin-turbo four-cylinder in the Navara, they’re both rated to 3500 kg for towing.  The best engine is the twin-turbo 2.3-litre that pumps out 140kW/450Nm.  Very fuel efficient (around 7.2 litres/100 km unladen) and it’s also equipped with a recent rear spring upgrade..

Don’t forget to check out the Isuzu D-Max ute with 430 Nm of torque on offer.  It’s a rugged ute with 4×4 ability.  There is also the Isuzu MU-X SUV 4WD rated to tow 3000 kg (braked).  LS-T models are very well equipped vehicles that are extremely comfortable.

With a high 3500 kg tow rating, thanks to its solid rear axle, the SsangYong Rexton is a highly capable tow vehicle.  So too is the SsangYong Rhino ute.  Both use the same 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine that can easily pull up to 3500 kg (braked).

The legendary Toyota Hilux’s towing capabilities are superb.  The new 2.8-litre turbo-diesel motor delivers a 130kW/450Nm blend of power.  Depending on the model, your new Hilux ute can tow from 2500 kg braked.

Mazda’s latest BT-50 ute shares mechanicals with the Ford Ranger, which means that 147 kW and 470 Nm is impressively competent.  Towing over 2500 kg braked in this comfortable, practical ute with all the bells and whistles is easy, and like many utes these days it also offers 4×4 action.

Ford’s Ranger packs great tow grunt and capability with its 3.2-litre, five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine.  You can tow up to 3500 kg braked.  There is also a 2.0-litre bi-turbo option for towing up to 3500 kg.

A whopping 500 Nm from its 2.8-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder has the Holden Colorado ute take top spot for popular 4WD ute towing grunt; and it tows like a champion.

In V6 guise, the Volkswagen Amarok packs a 550 Nm or 580 Nm torque delivery option with its 3.0-litre V6 engine.  You can tow up to 3500 kg braked, but with the optional softer suspension pack this drops to 3000 kg braked.

Very Serious Towing Machines

Capable of towing up to 3500 kg braked, the Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series ute has a V8 under the hood.  The 4.5-litre 32- valve quad-cam turbo diesel V8 with 151 kW and 430 Nm is a total beast and highly recommended for use as a tow vehicle.  Impressive fuel economy (for a V8) should see well under 12 litres/100 km fuel use when unladen.  The only gearbox is a five-speed manual.  Toyota’s reputation for reliability and dependability makes this a beauty.

Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series GXL (4X4):  This vehicle cruises comfortably and effortlessly over long distances, powering up long hills without a sweat.  Extremely capable when the tarmac runs out, along with its smooth six-speed automatic and 4.5-litre twin turbo-diesel V8 you’re always finding grunt at any revs.  The combination of 200 kW at 3600 rpm and 650 Nm at 1600 rpm makes this one of the very best vehicles for 4X4 towing.

Nissan Patrol TI 4X4 (Y62):  OK, this is petrol; but with 298 kW and 560 Nm on offer, who cares!  This base-spec eight-seater Patrol is rated to tow 3500 kg (braked).  Comfort and premium technology makes this an effortless vehicle for cruising and towing.  And premium off-road action is guaranteed.

The RAM is the ultimate tow vehicle

RAM Laramie 2500 4X4: This one has a maximum towing capacity of 6942kg (braked) and its power comes from a 6.7-litre six cylinder Cummins turbo-diesel engine (276kW/1084Nm!).  The sweet six-speed automatic transmission makes towing a doddle.

RAM 3500: is another big tow option with a maximum towing capacity (braked) of 6171kg.

 

Full Speed Ahead: Mustang Mach 1 Returns.

It’s a blast from the past for fans of the Blue Oval as the Mustang Mach 1 is readied for a 2021 Down Under release date. Sharing features from the Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT500, the Mustang Mach 1 is suitable for the track as much as it will the road.

Aero aids, the famous Mach 1 badging, and a 345kW 5.0L V8 under the long bonnet are part of the appealing package. There is a Tremec six speed manual or Ford’s ten speed auto to play with, and the manual has rev-matching technology for better changes. A heavier-duty oil cooler can be specced for both, and a software upgrade for the auto to optimise road and track based performance.

The Mach 1 rolls on a bespoke suspension tune with MagneRide 1 dampers and bespoke springs, along with rejigged anti-roll bars and bush specifications to deliver improved control and response under high cornering loads. 19 inch alloys will be uniquely designed for the Mach 1. Body colour and external trim combinations number five, and bonnet stripes and body styling evoking the original 1970s version. Each vehicle has its own identification badge for the chassis number.

The engine benefits from an open air induction system, 87mm throttle bodies, and a manifold shared with the North American specification Shelby GT350. The engine’s management system has been tweaked to allow high and low pressure fuel injection to match the engine revs. Peak torque, by the way, is 556Nm at 4,600rpm, with the 345kW at a high 7,7500rpm. Keeping the engine’s oil cool is the job assigned to the Shelby GT350 unit, bolted on via a redesigned mount to ensure a proper flow under any load. It also means that te only engines noises a driver should hear exit via a quad set of 4.5 inch tips via the Active Valve Performance Exhaust system.

“Following the success of Mustang BULLITT and Mustang R-SPEC, we are very excited to introduce this highly capable, track ready Mustang to our Australian Mustang fans. The unique styling, which pays homage to the original model, is more than worthy of its legendary badge,” said Andrew Birkic, President and CEO, Ford Australia and New Zealand.

A twin-disc six speed manual or a ten speed auto are the transmissions. The manual has a rev-matching system that momentarily blips the throttle, matching the engine speed to the selected gear. For those that like a sporty feel, flat shifting is also programed in to be usable. And as a track capable machine, there is an additional cooling system fitted to the limited slip diff rear axle.

Aero changes see the Mach 1 having 22 percent more downforce than the Mustang GT. A rear diffuser shared with the Shelby GT400 pairs with a longer undertray fitted with air directional fins for brake cooling. A change to the shape of the front splitter sees an increase in aero grip too. This is all balanced by a specially designed rear decklid spoiler.

Ride and handling see the MagneRide magnetic suspension recalibrated for the Mach 1. Stiffer front springs and recalibrated roll bars are partnered with Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT500 subframes and toe-link components. Braking is improved with a higher spec booster with discs inside a set of five spoke 19 inch wheels.

There will be a choice of five body colours, complete with bonnet and side stripe combinations. Available will be Fighter Jet Gray2 with Satin Black/Reflective Orange stripes, Shadow Black and Oxford White with Satin Black/Red stripes, or Velocity Blue and Twister Orange, with Satin Black/White stripes. To add extra spice, an optional Appearance Pack will also be available exclusively with Fighter Jet Gray, featuring orange accent seatback trim, orange brake callipers and satin black and orange hood and side stripe. Mustang Mach 1 upper and lower front grilles are finished in gloss black, and the iconic Mach 1 logo appears on the rear deck-lid and on each front wing.Interior trim will be an Ebony colour scheme and an aluminuim trim called Dark Engine. Metal Grey is the colour for the stitching in the seats, with Recaro seats available to option. Each Mustang Mach 1 features a unique dashboard badge featuring the Mach 1 logo and chassis number, complemented by unique sill plates and a new start-up display on the 12-inch digital instrument display cluster. Sounds will pump from a 12 speaker Bang and Olufsen system, and internet on the go comes courtesy of FordPass Connect 5.

In addition to a five-year, unlimited kilometre full factory warranty, the Mustang Mach 1 is eligible for the Ford Service Benefits program that includes Service Loan Car, Auto Club Membership, including Roadside Assistance and Sat-Nav map updates. Furthermore, maximum service price is $299, including GST, for each of the first four A or B Logbook services at a participating dealership for up to 4 years / 60,000kms, whichever comes first, for eligible customers.

$83,365 is the manufacturer’s recommended list price for both manual and auto, with premium paint at $650, Recaro seats a lazy $3K, and the Appearance pack just $1,000.

“Mustang has won the hearts and minds of Australian drivers, and Mach 1 is one of the most thrilling Mustangs to date. This head turning model not only looks the part, but it has all the hardware to delight Mustang enthusiasts, offering on-track excitement and on-road driving pleasure.” added Birkic.

 

2021 Mitsubishi Express SWB LCV: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: A return of the Express nameplate for Mitsubishi. Except, in a way, it isn’t. You see, if you lined up the Express alongside the Renault Traffic and removed the grilles, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Its a joint project and comes from an alliance between Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi. There are already plans to release more products wearing the three diamond badge that come from the other two. There are two engines, 1.6L and 2.0L, a manual for the smaller engine, an auto for the larger, and a choice of short wheelbase (SWB) or long wheelbase (LWB). We drove the 2.0L auto SWB.

How Much Does It Cost?: As of October 2020, the manufacturer’s list price is $42,490 plus ORC. The Mitsubishi website has it at and if you have an ABN, which is most likely, chat to your Mitsubishi dealer. For the manual, the website has an ABN drive-away price of $40,890. These prices aren’t hugely different to the equivalents from Renault.

Under The Bonnet Is: One very well sorted and torquey diesel. At 2.0L capacity and driving a slick six speed auto, it delivers 125kW and a very healthy 380Nm at 1.500rpm. Economy on the combined cycle is quoted as 7.3L/100km from an 80.0L tank. We finished our drive at 9.4L/100km on our typical 70/30 urban to highway mix.On The Outside It’s: White, and black, and boxy. Renault’s basic design is more focused on the front and rear, and it kind of works. It’s certainly far less of a box than the original Express. Strong vertical lines make up the tail light structure, matching the barn doors. The headlights are teardrop in flavour, flowing upwards to the end of the bonnet line and just under the A-pillar, with the base running in a line alongside the top of the black bumper. Light commercial spec tyres are steel wheels are standard, and are 215/65/16s. a whip antenna stands above the cabin.Overall sizes have the Express SWB one millimetre shy of 5,000mm in length, rolling on a wheelbase of 3.098mm, and a shoulder room liking 1,956mm. Body height is 1,976mm, just low enough for most shopping centre carparks, but the antenna will bang against some sections. Kerb weight is 1,870kg and there is a maximum payload of 1,115kg. Cargo space is 1,652mm except for the wheel arches at 1,268. Interior height is 1,387mm and length inside is 2,537mm.On The Inside It’s: A typical light commercial vehicle. There is a lining for the floor, a cage between the driver & passengers section, and the seating is a two plus one setup. Each side has an easy to move sliding door. The seats are covered in a basic hard wearing charcoal coloured cloth. There is no console between the driver’s seat and the passenger seat, however there are nooks and spaces in the dash itself, along with a factory fitted phone holder and passenger seat undertray. Rubber mats were also fitted to our test vehicle.The tilt and telescopic steering wheel is devoid of most familiar controls, with the audio selection relegated to a tab hiding behind the right steering wheel spoke. the wheel itself has four tabs, all for cruise control operation. Audi was in a basic looking head unit, akin to the style found in cars of the 1980s yet there was a nice surprise: digital audio. However that did seem to fail halfway through our review cycle. To back it up is Bluetooth streaming and voice activation however there is only one pair of speakers.On The Road It’s: Very carlike to drive, Bear in mind it wasn’t loaded with the cargo one would normally tip in, but with a light load on board, it was settled and comfortable. The torque of the engine arrives in a rush in the first gear, and becomes exceedingly usable from there on. Overtaking and highway cruising is easy, however an eight speed auto would add more flexibility and aid economy. Steering is on the light side of just right and ratioed for easy parking at slow speeds, heavier for the highway. Braking, too, is well weighted and enables consistent judging of just how much is required to pull up at the right spot.What About Safety?: Driver and passenger front airbags, side airbag for the driver, and curtain airbags for both. A rear view camera shows in the rear vision mirror as well. Autonomous emergency braking, blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings are not to be found here although rear sensors are.

What About Warranty And Service?: Although Mitsubishi have recently introduced a ten year warranty and service plan, conditions will apply. Speak to your local dealer to confirm for your circumstances.At The End of The Drive. From a business point of view having Mitsubishi back in the mix isn’t a bad thing. Keeping the range to a choice of short or long wheelbase, and consequently auto or manual as well, simplifies things. Sharing the platform with Renault isn’t a bad thing when it comes to spare parts however the question will be how much Mitsubishi is in the Mitsubishi Express?

Specifications and links to more information is here.

Robert Opron and the Simca Fulgur: Better Than Nostradamus?

The question as to where all the flying cars are now that we’re in 2020 has become a bit of a cliché.  It’s been a bit of a cliché ever since we hit the new millennium. This is a reference to the way that popular culture envisioned what family cars would look like in the 21st century.

However, at least one car designer had ideas that were a bit more down to earth – literally.  The year was 1958 and the designer was Robert Opron. This designer had accepted a challenge to produce a concept car for the 1959 Geneva Motor Show for his parent company Simca. Never heard of Simca? This was a French company owned by Fiat that rivalled Citroen for the title of “France’s answer to the VW Beetle”. I owned one back in my student days – possibly a Simca 1300; it had a front engine like a normal car rather than a rear engine and it’s probably worth a mint now, so I’m rather regretting selling it. Its only quirk was a flaw in the speedo: after it hit 50 mph, the needle went back down even when I accelerated.

Anyway, enough memories of student cars and back to Robert Opron.  Opron later took his genius to Citroën, then Renault, then Alfa Romeo. He has been recognised as one of the top 25 designers of the 20th century, although he wasn’t the chap responsible for the very distinctive Citroen 2CV. The Renault Alpine was his, though, as were a number of 1980s Renaults.

Opron had come across a challenge issued by the Journal de Tintin.  Yes, that’s Tintin as in the intrepid red-haired reporter who has a dog called Snowy and a best friend called Captain Haddock.  The challenge was to design a “typical” car for the 1980s or for the year 2000. The challenge included a list of specifications that had to be included in the design, including the following:

  • fuelled by a nuclear-powered battery or a hydrogen fuel cell with a range of 5000 km
  • running on two wheels, balanced gyroscopically, at speeds over 150 km/h,
  • voice controlled
  • radar guidance for navigation and for detecting hazards
  • top speed of over 300 km/h
  • automatic braking if it detected a hazard
  • headlights that adjust automatically with speed

Although Opron didn’t produce a full working prototype, he did show a shell of the concept at the 1959 motor show and the full details of the concept car, known as the Simca Fulgur, were published in the Journal de Tintin (this suggests that it would have appeared alongside The Red Sea Sharks and/or Tintin in Tibet – just in case you were curious, like I was).

The Simca Fulgur – which takes its name from the Latin word meaning “lightning” – looked like the classic Jetsons flying car, except it didn’t fly. It captured the public imagination somewhat and became the basis for what people thought futuristic cars would look like. Or what UFOs would look like – take your pick.

Anyway, from the perspective of late October in 2020, 61 years later, it’s amusing to take a look at the cars of today and see how close we’ve actually come to getting some of these features. How well did the Fulgur predict what we’d have on our roads?

  • Voice control: Yes, we’ve got this, although it’s not quite a case of telling the car your destination and letting it get there (they’re working on that). But you can use voice control on quite a few things, including the navigation system.
  • Top speed of over 300 km/h: Yes, but most cars that are capable of this have their speeds limited for safety purposes.
  • Autonomous braking and hazard detection: Yes. However, human input is still needed.
  • Automatically adjusting headlights: Yes, although they adjust for the ambient light levels rather than how fast you’re going.
  • Electric motor with hydrogen fuel cell technology: Yes, although the range isn’t anywhere near what was predicted. We’d all love a range of 5000 km in an EV (electric vehicle) or HFCV (hydrogen fuel cell vehicle).
  • Electrical motor with nuclear power: Are you kidding me? Since Chernobyl and Fukushima, nuclear power isn’t quite the sexy answer to our energy problems that it was back in the 1950s.
  • Balancing on two wheels with gyroscopic stabilisers at speeds over 150 km/h: No. Just no. If you want that sort of thing, get a motorbike, not a family saloon.

All in all, not too bad a job of predicting the future, Monsieur Opron – you did a better job than your compatriot Nostradamus.

2020 Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Nissan’s Navara and its partnership with Premcar. This joint partnership has given Premcar the opportunity to work with Nissan and provide an Australian engineered alternative to Ford’s Ranger Raptor and the former contender from Holden and HSV, the Sportscat.

What Does It Cost?: A not inconsiderable $67,290 on a drive-away basis. However it’s close to $9K cheaper than a Raptor and around $2K cheaper than a Wildtrak X with 2.0L bi-turbo diesel.Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.3L twin turbo diesel. Power is 140kW at a high, for a diesel, 3,750rpm. Peak torque is the critical figure and that’s 450Nm between 1,500rpm and 2,500rpm. In comparison, the Raptor’s 2.0L diesel has 157kW and 500Nm (1,750rpm to 2,000rpm). There is a choice of a six speed manual or a seven speed auto, driving two or four wheels via an electronic selector and a switch to lock the rear diff. Nissan quotes 7.0L per 100km on the combined cycle. We finished at 9.4L/100km on our 70/30 urban to highway cycle. Tank size is 80.0L.On The Outside It’s: Clad in White Diamond (choices are Slate Grey and Cosmic Black), our test car, which highlights the orange hued pieces of trim spread around the outside edges of the steps, mirrors, and front driving lights. There is a blacked-out decal along the flanks that declares the car to be an N-Trek Warrior, and sits nicely between the big tyres fitted. They’re from renowned off-road tyre supplier, Cooper, and are 275/70/17s from the Discoverer AT3 range.For the tray, there is a tub liner, a blacked out roll-bar, a Navara decal on the tailgate, a black rear step-bumper, and a towbar attachment. Heavy duty flared guard attachments add a muscular, no-nonsense, look, with that same take-everything-on ideal up front with a heavier looking front bar complete with LED light strip, and blacked out trim for the grille.

Underneath is increased ride height for the body, and plenty of sheetmetal (3mm thick 302 standard stainless steel) for protecting the engine’s sump, transmission, and vital cables. This is necessary given the angles the N-Trek Warrior can find itself at: approach is up to 35 degrees and break-over of 27.5 degrees. Departure angle isn’t great at just 19 degrees.Overall, the N-Trek Warrior stands 1,895mm tall, rolls on a wheelbase of 3,150mm inside a total length of 5,385mm, and the total width of 1,920 (sans mirrors) adds to the shoulder room inside. Inside the tub is a 1,503mm floor length, and between the rear wheel arches is 1,130mm with extra space either side at 1,560mm on the floor. Depth is 474mm. Payload is 724kg and braked towing is 3.5 tonnes.On The Inside It’s: Aging. Gracefully, but aging. Nissan says a new Navara is on the way for 2021. What it has for now is a dash with an elegant sweep in the style, a bad reflection into the windscreen, a non-DAB tuner (disappointing), fine grains to the plastic on the dash, and a dated use of alloy hued plastics on the tiller, console, and touchscreen surrounds. The seats could use more side bolstering in supporting the body, with a sensation of sitting on but not in them. However the look and trim is high in quality for a mixed material pew.The headrests are embossed with the orange stitched N-Trek Warrior logo that complements the same colour stitching in the floor mats, the rear vision mirror has a simple N/S/E/W style compass, and the upper centre console has a small storage locker with a 12V socket. Down near the gear selector is a solitary USB port. There is no port for the rear seat passengers but there are a pair of vents. On The Road It’s: Surprisingly…heavy. In our drive it felt leaden, weighed down, lacklustre even. Surprising given the amount of torque available as acceleration was ok without being outstanding, both from a standing start and in rolling acceleration. Steering was rubbery in feel on centre but tightened up to be communicative, partly due to the thick off-road tyres, but there is effort needed at low speeds. Body movement in comparison demonstrated the work put in, with a taut ride on tarmac, that “just right” amount of suspension give, even allowing for sidewall flex. The brakes are spot on, in comparison, with an intuitive travel. The auto itself is a solid worker, putting in a performance that was competent if unspectacular.Off-road, it’s a different beast and performed admirably. There is a rear diff lock, a rotary dial for 4WD high and low range, and the fettled suspension has plenty of articulation. The Cooper tyres display why they’re the chosen brand for getting dirty grip, clambering over and through the various surfaces on our test track without a niggle. It’s this environment where the engine’s torque range really works, and the increased ride height (40mm over standard) provided secure and safe driving. Nissan’s paperwork says the N-Trek Warrior’s suspension team spent several months testing various combinations of springs, dampers, and bump stops, and off-road it shows. What About Safety?: Reverse camera is standard and in high definition on the touchscreen. Seven airbags, including driver’s kneebag, are standard, however Nissan’s spec sheet don’t list AEB, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and the like.What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres plus five years roadside assist. Capped price servicing is also available and pricing is model dependent.

At The End Of the Drive. It was with mixed feelings that the Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior was handed back to the office. It’s undoubtedly good as an off-roader, but for our tastes it was not entirely suitable for every day tarmac use. And that’s the perplexing part given the background it’s come from and the partnership formed to build it. It leaves the N-Trek Warrior in a peculiar place, and that’s where expectations weren’t met yet should have been.

Info on the 2020 Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior can be found here.

Gifts for Car Owners

As the end of October fast approaches, that means retailers will soon start to take centre stage amid the Black Friday sales period and the subsequent Christmas holiday rush. It’s that time of the year where we spoil loved ones with gifts and affection, and that includes car owners too! Here’s a few gift ideas heading into peak season for retail shopping.

 

 

Car Vacuum Cleaner

Which new car owner doesn’t take pride in their joy? That means, both inside and out, because a car should be spotless. After all, first impressions count, right? And who wants to show off their brand new ride only for a messy interior to let it down. Dust and dirt naturally make their way into a car, so what better gift to help a new car owner keep on top of maintenance than a car vacuum cleaner. Small, portable and highly effective – a great choice!

 

Sat-nav

Although many new cars now offer integrated navigation systems, there are still many cars where this has yet to become a standardised feature. With today’s satellite navigation systems more advanced than ever before, this could be the perfect gift for someone who spends a lot of time on the road. Heck, the next-generation projection navigation systems are another idea altogether, offering augmentation and navigation in one.

 

Transportation Accessories

If you’re looking to find a tailored gift, you may wish to take into consideration the specifics of the person you are purchasing a gift for. Do they have a child? If so, they may appreciate a baby seat for their car. Do they have pets instead? Perhaps a cradle for their pet would be better suited. Or do they enjoy an active lifestyle? In which case, a roof rack for their bicycle or surfboard might not go astray.

 

Took kit

Many motorists are happy to entrust their mechanic to look after all their car’s automotive needs. However, for the motoring enthusiast, or the DIY-er, a took kit could be the best companion. Not only will it help them tackle some of the nitty gritty maintenance jobs under the bonnet, but it’s the sort of gift that pays for itself really, saving money on simple oil changes or the like.

 

Other Ideas

Keep in mind, you don’t always have to appeal to a specific piece of technology or the like. Everyday items are just as likely to deliver the most bang for their buck, which means things like windshield protectors, car seat covers, car-care cleaning kits, phone cradles and emergency accessories could be a welcome addition for a loved one’s new car. And of course, if it’s technology you revert back to, dash cams and wireless phone chargers are becoming all the rage in this day and age!

2020 Peugeot 5008 GT Line: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Peugeot’s quite sexy 5008 mid-sized SUV. Effectively a stretched 3008, and sharing the front cabin, the 5008 grows to a seven seater.

How Much Does It Cost?: As of October 2020 its on a drive away price of $55,990 including premium paint, Nappa leather seats, and glass roof.

Under The Bonnet Is: A detuned version of the 1.6L engine found in the 508, or the same engine in the 3008. That’s 121kW and 240Nm plus the six speed, not eight speed auto. Its a frugal thing with our economy result an overall 6.7L/100km. However, freeway driving did see an on-the-fly figure of just 2.4L/100km. Tank size is a smaller than class average 56.0L.On The Outside It’s: A mid-sizer at 4,641mm in length and sits on a wheelbase of 2,840mm. That’s up from the 3008’s 4,447mm and 2,675mm. That extension is from underneath the second row seats and allows for the third row of two seats which are removable. Wheels are 19 inches in diameter and rubber is 205/55 Michelin Premacy. The spare is an 80 profile space-saver on a 18 inch wheel.Up front are the sequential indicators and the shark fin headlights. The rear has a powered tailgate with set opening level button. The rear is also more upright and boxy in comparison to the 3008 to allow for the third row seating.On The Inside It’s: The same gloriously pretty interior as seen in the 3008 and 508 with the diamond stitched and quilted black leather heated seats. Both fronts have two position memory. The second row seats are three individual units which separately slide and fold. The third are, at best, emergency seats as they don’t really offer a lot of room. Operated via the ubiquitous and simple pull strap system, both lay under a cargo floor cover of two parts, with each also moved via a small string strap.The 5008’s architecture is showing its age with no USB socket for the second row. The front seats have one only and that’s awkwardly tucked away under the lower centre section of the otherwise ergonomically spot on dash, complete with those wonderfully simple alloy look tabs for navigation, aircon, audio (including DAB) and more. That same nook houses a smartphone charge pad. As luscious to look at those tabs are, along with the wrap-around forward centre console, they’re also sun catching and tend to reflect directly into a driver’s eyes.The driver has the Peugeot family’s i-cockpit digital display with varying looks (via that same roller dial on the steering wheel’s left spoke), and the trip meter info activated, as is the Peugeot norm, via a press button on the end of the right hand, wiper activating, column stalk. Those wipers feature Peugeot’s water-saving “Magic Wash” which mists from the arms themselves and not via wasteful jets in the bonnet’s trailing edge. Auto dipping high beam is also standard as is the blue-hued mood lighting. Above the passengers is a black cloth sheet that rolls back to unveil a full glass roof.On The Road It’s: Lacking those extra two cogs and 60Nm from the 508’s 1.6L specification. The extra mass the 5008 has over the smaller and lighter 3008 also affects performance with a plus nine second run to 100kph from a standing start. However, that isn’t noticeable in the ride, with a virtually perfect mix of compliance, suppleness, and chassis control. Body roll is almost non-existent, tightening radius cornering has the nose pushing on gently and that’s controlled by a slow easing off from the accelerator.

Rolling acceleration is decent but not rapid, and when used in anger there’s little to be said aurally too, as the engine emits a restrained growl, a muted note from the exhaust, and a whole lot of otherwise, “sigh, let’s get this done”.Peugeot’s cabin design has the steering wheel sat below the driver’s display, and the size of the flat-bottomed unit brings a sense of sportiness, of engagement with the drive. Brake pedal feedback is the same high level of tactility we’ve come to expect from this underrated brand.

What About Safety?: Six airbags, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, front and rear parking sensors and park assistance are standard fit. City Park (a 90 degree parallel parking system) and a 360 degree camera are standard. The Active Lane Keeping Assistance function is standard and is only mildly intrusive, as it tugs gently rather than firmly, to straighten the 5008 up. Adaptive Cruise is standard along with AEB with camera and radar assistance.What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres, plus Peugeot’s capped price serving scheme. Booking services is performed online.

At The End Of The Drive. Peugeot is a brand that has an extensive history, is one of the older brands in Australia’s automotive landscape, and remains peculiarly invisible. Yes, our market is a strange one and there are plenty of choices available, yet against that Peugeot’s offerings are overlooked in comparison to the South East Asian based competitors. In our blunt opinion that’s a shame as there is class, good looks, high standard levels of safety and equipment, and at fair prices.That’s our opinion.

The 5008 is a great example of that classy film that lasted a week at the cinemas and yet those in the know, know how good it is. And with the baby of the “008” range, the 2008 due for imminent release at the time of writing, that superb choice expands. Check out the 5008 here.

Facelifts For Favourites. Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross And Hyundai i30

Mitsubishi’s oddly styled and oddly named Eclipse Cross has been given its first facelift. There’s is still the sharp kink to the rear window line but here the lights have been given a deeper silhouette with extensions upwards and inwards. The rear glass is larger for better visibility and the lower door now has a sculpted hexagonal look which Mitsubishi says evokes its historic spare tyre cover logo. The front is updated to the Dynamic Shield design with a new bumper plus enhanced headlight design.The updated Eclipse Cross will also pack a hybrid drivetrain however this not yet confirmed for Australia. It will use the same twin-motor 4WD PHEV system as the Outlander PHEV but with modifications specific to the size and weight of the Eclipse Cross chassis. Front and rear mounted electric motors pair with a high capacity battery and a 2.4L MIVEC engine driving a single-speed planetary gearbox. Drive selection can be automatically switched between three modes: fully EV, Series Hybrid, or Parallel Hybrid.

In a move that is becoming more widespread, the traction battery can also be used as a reliable source of electricity for outdoor leisure or in an emergency as it supplies up to 1,500 watts of power from an on-board outlets. When the vehicle is fully charged and fuelled, it can supply power to a general household for up to 10 days via the Vehicle-to-Home system. The Eclipse Cross will also bring the previous 1.5L turbo four and Constant Variable Transmission.For the interior, there is a new 8.0inch touchscreen with Mitsubishi’s Smartphone-Link Display Audio system. This is designed to make a safer situation for the driver to use. The screen has been moved rearwards down the centreline of the Eclipse Cross, making access easier and has moved away from a strictly touchscreen use for volume and tuning.

For the chassis the Eclipse Cross continues with the Mitsubishi S-AWC system. There has been subtle tweaks to the MacPherson struts and multi-link rear for better ride and handling, with larger shock absorbers increasing comfort and stability. Pricing will be confirmed in November 2020.Hyundai’s popular 130 also has gone under the knife for a mild facelift. The company’s “Sensuous Sportiness” highlights a new grille, restyled headlights, and bumper. Part of the Sunsuous Sportiness ideal is a “parametric pattern” design for the grille with dark chrome geometric shapes. These complement the black bezels inside the headlights and the redesigned LED running and indicator lights inside the broader wheel curtain.

The rear bumper hasn’t been left untouched. either. The reflectors have been repositioned and join with an insert that is full width and of a mesh look. Rolling stock will be 16 and 17 inch alloys as standard, with a dark grey paint that has been machined down to showcase the alloy. All i30s have a solid safety package; Collision Avoidance Assist, Lane Following Assist, and Lane Keeping Assist will be standard from the entry level model upwards. Depending on grade, Blind-Spot Collision Warning, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning and Smart Cruise Control (automatic and DCT variants) will be featured as standard equipment. Lane Following Assist or LFA works thus: it uses the front windshield-mounted camera to detect lane markers as well as vehicles ahead, and provides steering assistance to ensure the vehicle stays in the centre of the lane. It will work at velocities of up to 180kph.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity will also be standard, along with an 8.0 inch touchscreen (i30 entry, Active, and N-Line level) and 7.0 inch main screen for the driver. This display will change in look depending on the chosen drive mode.Also standard across the range are a leather steering wheel and gear knob, an electronic parking brake and air-conditioning vents for rear occupants. The i30 Elite and N-Line Premium increases the touchscreen to 10.25 inches. Infinity will supply the audio system, and a smart keyfob enables push button Stop/Start.

The growing N-Line range now has LED headlights as standard, plus the 150kW 1.6L turbo petrol four and a sports oriented suspension.There will be seven colour choices. Polar White, Phantom Black, Fluidic Metal and Amazon Grey, as well as the vivid Intense Blue and Fiery Red, and an eyecatching vibrant N Line-specific Lava Orange.

“With range-standard SmartSenseTM safety, refreshed styling and extra equipment, our ever-popular i30 hatchback is now an even more compelling proposition in the small car segment,” Hyundai Motor Company Australia Chief Executive Officer, Jun Heo said.

“The stylish 2021 i30 hatchback complements the progressive all-new i30 Sedan as well as performance N Line variants to provide the perfect small car package for a wide variety of customers,” he said.

Metallic paint will be a $495 option. The range starts at $23,420 (plus ORC) for the i30 entry level 2.0L manual, with the auto a $2,000 impost. The Active and Elite start from $26,920 and $30,220. The N-Line range kicks off from $29,420 for the manual and 1.6L turbo, $31,420 for the auto, and the Premium manual and auto at $34,2320 and $36,220.

Automobile Servicing: Dealership V Mobile.

Very few would disagree that the days of hauling out the toolbox on a Sunday morning to tune the Kingswood are long gone. With the advent of Electronic Fuel Injection or EFI, longer lasting oils, engine covers that look too tricky to remove, plus more specific guidelines from car makers, servicing a car at home has become something of the past.

Or has it?

Mobile servicing has become a huge business over the last couple of decades or so and it has provided some genuine benefits. To find out more, we spoke to David Endres from APR Mobile Servicing. He has over twenty years of experience in the automotive servicing field including fifteen as a mobile servicer.We started with what appears to be an obvious benefit: that one on one contact. Straight away there is that personal service, that personal touch, by having your car serviced at home or at work, says David. You get to meet the person that will be performing the service, and feedback is virtually instant is something needs to be discussed. David says it’s an instantly more usable system as any issues or changes that may have arisen can be discussed face to face and clarifications are conveyed in a far more understandable sense, rather than by a phone call, or worse, by email or text. Also the client can see for themselves what might be the problem, right on the spot.

This brought us to the convenience factor. It’s a big one, says David. “We come to you at a time that suits you, and with more people working from home, your life continues whilst we look after your car.” If a service is done at an office workplace, there is less downtime, says David, and this is one way to keep the boss on your side. Plus, it means there is little to no extra travel time required, such as if a dealership is some distance away from home or work.One unexpected benefit of a mobile service, says David, is for the elderly and infirm benefit plus stay at home parents. This absolutely minimises intrusions into their lives, and as David pointed out, imagine having to wrangle small children back and forth on public transport on a hot summer’s day. Trade services such as sparkies or plumbers gain the benefit of a mobile service, as their own light commercial vehicle can be looked after whilst they themselves are on the job. This applies to company “reps”, who can meet David at a specified location and time, leave him to service their vehicle and they continue their representative role.

Given the question of timeframe, David says he aims to have around two hours from start to finish. What this means for the work from home Mum, or the look after the grandkids grandparents, is downtime is as short as possible, rather than the traditional method of a dealership’s “drop off in the morning, pickup in the afternoon”. However, there is a benefit in the dealership approach. Should a part be required and it’s not immediately in stock at that dealership, a turnaround time to have a courier bring the part from a warehouse or another dealership can virtually ensure it’s done during the day and ready for a client to pickup at day’s end.

This, says David, is where a mobile service callout will require a re-booking whilst an ordered part is on its way. He’s at pains to caution that if the work required has the vehicle in a condition that it shouldn’t be driven, that the client is immediately fully briefed. he also highlights that a second visit to fit the required part is at no extra cost to the client. This took us to the cost factor. David believes that mobile servicers are very cost effective, as their only overheads are the costs of running the service vehicles, rather than paying for a building’s electrical costs, management costs, and the like. And, as a rule, the actual hourly rates are competitive, saving a client money.

The experience factor was a key point here. Acknowledging that everyone starts somewhere, David opines that having the experience to provide a mobile service provides a true peace of mind for a client, with the ability to deal with questions and any potential issues on the spot because of it. In a dealership situation, that experience starts with an apprentice, a position where the basics of servicing a vehicle, especially in a first service, leads to the experience required in providing a mobile service.

Inclusive of this point is the process of assisting a client to diagnose a problem if the booking isn’t for a straight service. By working one on one with the owner, and asking open ended questions, it minimises the time needed to diagnose and identify the problem. This includes possibly driving the vehicle before commencing any work. At a dealership, a similar process can be undertaken, and the benefit comes back to the timeframe and possibly having a required part in stock.

Serviceman

Location wise, a mobile service can cover a lot of ground, and it’s here that the benefit of being largely city wide in coverage helps. APR’s homebase in in Parramatta, west of the Sydney CBD, however the coverage is across most of the majority of the Sydney basin. The timeframe to work with is critical here, says David. With an average lead-in time of a week, this allows APR Mobile Services to arrange a schedule that suits the client first and reduces drastically unnecessary travel from the business end.

It also allows David to ensure that, where possible, the right parts to start with are available, and it also provides him with the opportunity to fit parts that aim for a longevity situation. By that, David says it brings to a client, the right parts to ensure that downtime is minimised but also that the gaps between visits for unnecessary work is reduced as much as possible.

Another benefit, says David, is purely personal. By being hands-on with a client’s car, a relationship is built, and a number of clients like to reward the efforts provided. Although dealership staff can be on the receiving end of a gift from a grateful client, it’s not as personal as dealing with someone one-on-one. There’s a more rewarding situation for many clients, especially for those that may have been under stress or are not automobile savvy, and they like to express their gratitude with a small gift personally. What this does for a mobile servicer is up the level of satisfaction for a job well done, something David at APR Mobile Services takes a lot of quiet pride in knowing has been provided.

David and APR in Sydney can be reached at 0410 323 856. Check your search engine for local mobile servicers.