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Archive for October, 2020

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 $56,990 including premium paint.

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.

Era’s End: 2020 B1000 Says Goodbye To The Lion

Motorsport at Bathurst will see the end of an era for the “long” weekend of October 15 to 18. Covering four days, with practice, qualifying, and racing for the main game of Supercars and the supporting categories, it’s a tradition that sees an end to an era in 2020.

Starting in the 1960s as the Armstrong 500, and undergoing several sponsorship name changes, such as the Hardie-Ferodo, Tooheys, and more recently Supercheap, Australia’s “Great Race” says goodbye to Holden as a brand and competitor this weekend.

With the closure of the manufacturing side of the brand in 2018 and the subsequent decision by General Motors to retire the century-plus old name of Holden, a name that has been a constant at the mountain for over two decades, and a history that goes back another three,  to think that the name will finally disappear from showrooms and timing sheets for ever is almost impossible to consider.

Holden itself began as a saddlery in 1856 by James A. Holden. He had emigrated to Australia from England in 1852. 1905 and James’ son, Edward, who had been dabbling in the still new field of automobiles, joined the company. This lead to the firm becoming involved in providing minor repairs to the upholstery in vehicles of the day. After some years of build bodies to be mounted on chassis, Holden’s Motor Body Builders was founded in 1917. General Motors bought the firm in 1931 after The Great Depression took its toll and General Motors-Holden was born.

Holden gave us the 48-215 and FJ, the EH 179 Special, the brutal 350ci Monaro and nimble XU-1, the downright sexy LX A9X Torana hatchback, and of course, the Bullpitt favourite. The Kingswood. There was the 186ci, the 253ci, and our own homegrown power hero, the 308ci. Then came 1978 and the birth of a nameplate that would underpin Holden until 2018. First up was an Aussie icon designation, the VB. 1984 and the world car VK, followed by the Nissan powered VL, the restyled VR and the billion dollar baby VE before the final V series car, the VF. The ZB Commodore would be the nail in the coffin as far as many were concerned as it was front, not rear, wheel drive. Gone was the V8 and a “proper” four door as the ZB was a fastback design.

The Red Lion brought to public prominence Brock. Peter Geoffrey Brock, if you don’t mind. There is Bruce McPhee and Barry Mulholland, Colin Bond and Tony Roberts, Larry Perkins, John Harvey, Russell Ingall, Craig Lowndes, Mark Skaife, Steven Richards that all have red lion blood in the veins.

It’s not all beer and skittles though. Viva, Epica, Malibu are names that will remain associated with the brand and did little to help the public perception of a brand that had lost its way. Stories of indifferent dealership service practices and a slowness to move with the market also blurred the once untarnished badge’s line between want and want not.

Holden had a proud history in Australia, in both the automotive retail sector and in motorsport. In that sense it officially reaches the end of the line late in the afternoon of Sunday October 18 2020.

Vale, Holden.

 

Mercedes-Benz Flags the End of the Manual Transmission

In news that will send a shiver down the spine of motoring purists, Mercedes-Benz has signalled the end is nigh for the beloved manual transmission.

That’s according to Mercedes-Benz’s head of innovative work, Markus Schaefer, who made the comments suggesting curtains were drawing near as the brand shifts its attention to electrifying its vehicle line-up.

The German manufacturer will produce six models under the EQ badge, furthering its focus on a format that has yet to gain traction, but is seen as the ‘future’. Among its combustion line-up, plug-in hybrids are set to fill the void as combustion engines are consolidated across a series of Mercedes-Benz platforms.

At the heart of the decision is a drive by the company to reduce costs by standardising architecture across the company. In effect, Mercedes-Benz is promoting a modular strategy, which will limit variations between models, but help to keep manufacturing costs in check to support funding elsewhere.

 

 

Were the clues already in place?

The move away from manual has arguably been in the works for some time now. Among Mercedes-Benz’s current international line-up, larger variants have long been confined to automatic transmissions. Only a few cars have been fitted with a manual transmission, mostly entry-level variants in the A and C Class ranges. Closer to home, and the entire breadth of Mercedes-Benz’s passenger vehicle series is fitted with an automatic transmission.

You certainly can’t say the writing hasn’t been on the wall for a while now.

The bigger question from here on in, however, will be what impact this move has on the broader new car industry. Are we set to see an increasing number of manufacturers abandon the manual format in favour of a simpler set-up, thereby standardising combustion vehicle architecture in order to focus on electric vehicle research and development.

Only time will tell, but this may just be the beginning of an industry-wide trend.

 

2020 Peugeot 508 GT: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Peugeot’s super slinky, super sexy, super underrated 508 sedan/fastback/hatchback. It gets the three names because it has a powered rear hatch and has a profile that blends a sedan and fastback style. Any way you look at it, the 508 is a truly stunning vehicle to clap the optics on. There is a Sportswagon variant as well for those needing that extra cargo space.

How Much Does It Cost?: At the time of review it’s $56,990 driveaway. Peugeot’s website, at the time of writing, indicated a price of over $62K normally.Under The Bonnet Is: A 1.6L petrol engine with turbo oomph. There is 165kW and 300Nm @2,750rpm available, and drive gets through to the front wheels via a smooth-as-silk eight speed auto. Our time with the 508 coincided with a drive to Bega on the New South Wales south coast. Economy is excellent at 6.4L/100km from the 62L tank and this was with four aboard, luggage, and a pooch. Peugeot is one of the rare companies that provides a 0-100 time and for the fastback it’s 8.1 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 250kph.

On The Outside It’s: An eyecatcher, especially in the glorious Ultimate Red metallic which is one of nine external colours available as a current no-cost option. The front features blade style LED driving lights and indicators, self-leveling LED headlights, and starts the flowing look that embodies French chic. Subtle crease lines roll back from the bonnet to the windscreen base, and from the forward flanks along the frameless doors. A three claw rear light is joined to the body via a sharp crease that brings the roofline to the powered hatch.

Michelin supply the 235/45 ZR Pilot Sport4 rubber on black painted and machined 18 inch alloys. The design is based around five triangles and the combination of machined metal that stops short of the centre hubs looks fantastic against the red. The roof looks all black however it hides a sunroof.The hatch opens via a hold-and-press tab on the keyfob, a double-tap button inside, a press of the Peugeot lion emblem, or a somewhat fussy kick under the left rear section of the bumper. It’s not always successful and repeated tests saw the shin barked on the bumper more than the procedure worked.

Up front and “magic wash” wipers ooze rather than spray the cleaning fluid; it takes a moment for the nozzles to flow but they’re far more quiet and efficient. Just as efficient is the auto high-beam feature, dipping and raising the stronger light as a sensor dictates from the outside readings.

On The Inside It’s: A truly beautiful place. Pliant Nappa leather with diamond shaped stitched shaping, a floating centre console with smartphone charge pad and two USBs, and Peugeot’s cool looking 12.3 inch i-cockpit greet passengers with a warm ambience. There is two position memory seating for the driver plus eight-way adjustment and massage for both front seats, heating is standard, and the support underneath and for the sides is sportscar-like. There’s a nice touch from the frameless windows that drop slightly and raise automatically as the doors are opened and closed.Basic controls such as satnav, aircon, audio etc are activated via soft touch and classy looking alloy look tabs below the touchscreen. Under these and wrapped in piano black are the supplementary aircon controls. On top of the floating console is a rocker switch to engage different drive modes. At the end facing the rear seat passengers are another pair of USBs and airvents.There are a couple of hidden tricks for the cabin too. The child locks are disengaged via a tab on the driver’s door’s armrest, not via the setup in the 10.0 inch touchscreen. As our time with the 508 coincided with a swap to daylight saving, a change to the clock was needed. This is done not by tapping the time display itself, but using an options screen via a Settings icon.

Subtle mood lighting is seen in the dash and centre console drinks holders for a classy touch, and the classy look extends to the choice of display on the i-cockpit screen. There are Dials, Minimalist, Navigation and more to choose from, and activated via a press and roll of the selector on the left side of the steering wheel’s arm. here is also the volume control for the DAB equipped audio system, with legendary French speaker manufacturer Focal providing the outlets.It’s not all beer and skittles though. That sloping rear roofline does make it a little tight for taller passengers, with anyone knocking on six feet probably close to nudging the noggin. Rear leg room is also adequate but again verging on tight for the taller. The cargo space too feels somewhat compromised thanks to the slope of the hatch and a high floor yet offers 487L to 1,537L.On The Road It’s: An absolute delight and performance utterly belies the 1.6L’s 300Nm. Around town it’s as easy to drive as expected, with the eight speed DCT on tap at all times and mostly lacking the yawning gaps found in other similar transmissions. The gear selector is as pistol grip style with a button on the right side being pressed and a rocker forward or backwards to engage Reverse or Drive. Cog engagement is far better than that seen in other vehicles and allows forward motion to be both quick, and importantly, safer.

It’s a real cruise mobile, helped by utterly sublime suspension that has each corner rolling over its own section of road without interfering with the other three. Magic carpet in feeling, it dealt with the suburban roads just as easily as the highways, especially those south of Canberra. It’s the ideal mix of quietly wafting whilst being ready to attack like a sports machine. The steering was better when the Lane Keep Assist was disengaged, as this was a little too aggressive in re-centreing the 508 GT. Weight was virtually perfect and torque steer negligible. Braking was instinctive in feedback too.

It’s in its highway prowess that the 508 GT really sang, with that fuel economy a great starting point. However it’s the unexpected flexibility of that seemingly too small 1.6L that sold its potential and won us over. It’s unstressed as a highway goer, with the rev counter just under 2,000rpm. When needed to get angry, it launches the 508 forward with unexpected and wholly welcomed verve and vigour, allowing legal and safe passing to be safer than expected.On one long, straight, and vision perfect for overtaking road, in a line of traffic behind a few caravan-toting 4WDs, the right moment was selected to indicate after checking for rear traffic, and suddenly seeing the front of the line before indicating again and pulling in. For a car of its overall size and with the payload aboard, it’s far, far better than expected and makes long drives a safer proposition.

Easing off and going uphill, the numbers on the digital face roll back rapidly, and there’s only the gentlest of squeezes of the accelerator to settle the vehicle and have it back on the pace. Through all of this, the suspension is supple enough to be luxury when required, and can be punted with sporting intent just as easily too. Peugeot have hit the sweet spot with the 508’s ride and handling.

What About Safety?: Nothing is missing here. Active Blind Spot Detection Alert, Video Camera and Radar autonomous emergency braking, and Adaptive Cruise Control heads the list. Six airbags, ISOFIX, Highway Keeping Assist and Lane Keeping Assist are also included.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres, plus capped price servicing for five years and five years roadside assist.

At The End Of The Drive: The Peugeot 508 GT fastback is a truly underrated car. It will cosset you in silent comfort and take you to within sight of dedicated, and pricier, sports oriented vehicles. There is plenty of space, plenty of tech and safety, and plenty of that underlying, restrained performance, to not just delight, but surprise in the best way possible.

It’s the car that surprised us with its all round ability, and in a shrinking sedan market, deserves better consideration. The Peugeot 508 GT is that virtually perfect blend of a luxury car that eats up highway miles whilst offering the iron glove performance of a dedicated sports hatch. Yes please, sign me up. Get yourself into one here.

Supercars – Just For the Hell of it!

Bugatti Chiron Super Sport

Fast cars mean different things to different people.  What is the draw card for driving a quick car?  For me, a super-fast car does hold an aura that you just can’t associate with your typical Toyota Corolla or Ford Mondeo.  I have nothing against these two amazingly practical, comfortable and reliable cars.  They are great cars for everyday life in much the same way that the trusty hackney pony/horse was the common horsepower used by most family carts in the 19th century.  The thoroughbred horse, however, was the show pony; this was the one that had the aura, the glamour and the speed.

So, similarly, there’s something about supercars.  It’s not just how good they look; it’s about the engineering and development that has gone into making them so quick.  A supercar challenges the laws of physics every day.  And there aren’t too many of us “kids at heart” who don’t enjoy the speed and the thrill covering the ground quickly.  I did have the most amazing experience as I was driving into Wellington city, NZ, of all places.  This was some years ago now, and I was cruising in to Wellington to catch the ferry to Picton.  I happened to be travelling behind a few cars that were drifting five-or-so km/h under the speed limit.  From out of nowhere, a Porsche 928 S whipped out and around me in an acceleration of speed that left me in awe.  It slipped in and out of the cars ahead of me like they were standing still, and the visual excitement has stuck with me to this day.  I have also never seen anything like it since.  He wasn’t dangerous, either.  Each overtaking manoeuvre was carefully calculated and quite safe.  The time it took to whip past each car was over as quickly as it started.

So, just for a bit of fun: What are the fastest production cars in the world today?  They’ll definitely be quicker than the awesome 928 S, for sure!

The number 1 undisputed champion is the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport which has been clocked at 304.7 mph (487 km/h)!  Like the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, this purpose-built speed machine was taken to its top speed by British sportscar veteran Andy Wallace at the VW Group’s Ehra-Lessien test track.  Using a quad-turbocharged W16 engine that produces 1578 bhp (1177 kW), this was a supercar on a mission.  It was given a new gearbox with longer ratios, and front and rear bumpers that were optimised for higher speed runs – the perfect match for claiming the world’s top spot.

Who will be next to break the record set by the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport?  Now that Bugatti have promised to bow out of setting production car speed records, there are a few potential successors to its crown.

Hennessey Venom F5

The Hennessey Venom F5 carries on where the Venom GT has left off.  So with its 6.6-litre twin-turbocharged V8 producing 1817bhp (1355 kW) and 1193 lb ft (1617 Nm) of torque, we should see this Hennessey Venom move easily past the 300 mph (480 km/h) barrier.

SSC Tuatara

Until now I had never heard of the car, but the SSC Tuatara packs some serious speed along with its sharp looks.  The car is claimed to have already sped past 300 mph, unofficially.  SSC will only build 100 Tuatara supercars, and don’t ask how much to buy one!  They are eye-wateringly expensive.  The car was originally planned to run with a 6.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8, however the production car is set to use a 5.9-litre block with a higher redline.  On E85 fuel, it should produce 1750 bhp (1305 kW) and be capable of more than 300 mph in a straight line.

Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut

Now here is a name I have heard before… ‘Koenigsegg’.  The Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut is the latest of the Koenigsegg supercar line and it has to be one of the hottest looking machines on wheels.  Koenigsegg claim the car is more than capable of over 330 mph (528 km/h).  Seriously, we couldn’t think Koenigsegg was going to let Bugatti keep the speed record for long, could we?  The Swedish manufacturer has been around for some time now and has set previous uppermost speed records.  Gunning for top spot, the 1600 bhp+ (1193 kW+) supercar will be the fastest car Koenigsegg has ever produced. Simulations suggest the combination of the twin-turbocharged, 5.0-litre V8 engine, its low 0.278 drag coefficient, and its unique multi-clutch 9-speed transmission will allow the Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut to reach a top speed of 330 mph+.

Now, I’ve always had a soft spot for anything Swedish!  I used to own a Volvo, but that was given to my son who needed a car when he left home.  And we did own a Saab (my favourite of all cars owned by us).  Its Turbo 2.3-litre could really get-up-and-go, but nothing like a Koenigsegg, mind you!

MINI Countryman Rolls Out For Oz.

MINI Australia has introduced the new Countryman to the Australian market in the first week of October 2020, with pricing starting from $44,500 (plus ORC) for the Cooper Countryman. There has been changes to the interior and exterior, upgrades mechanically, and improvements in the technological bases. Four variants will be available from the launch, with Cooper S Countryman, Hybrid Countryman, and JCW Countryman with the addition of a Pure version.Some models will have an all-wheel-drive system. The Hybrid Countryman has an increased range on battery power, with between 55km to 61km expected. This is thanks to a larger 9.6kWh battery being supplied. One exterior change is to the signature grille, with a redesign for the hexagonal look forming a centrepiece for redesigned front and rear bumpers. LEDs now form the standard lighting package, especially at the front (fog lights) and rear that highlights the Union Jack logo. These will sit behind a cargo area offering up to 1,275L of space.

A key interior change is the addition of purely digital displays for the driver at 5.5 inches. The MINI Connect service has extra functionality, and AppleCarPlay will be available via the 8.8 inch touchscreens.

Brett Wauby, MINI Australia and New Zealand General Manager said: “The arrival of the new MINI Countryman will bolster the strong momentum we’ve enjoyed in Australia thus far in 2020. We anticipate strong interest in the new Countryman, a clear favourite in the MINI range, and look forward to delivering signature British charm, go-kart thrills and value-added practicality for our MINI fans.”The Cooper Countryman starts the range, as mentioned, from $44,500 manufacturers list price. Power will be supplied from a 3 cylinder petrol engine providing 100kW and 220Nm for a 9.7 second 0-100 time. Transmission is a seven speed DCT. Economy (combined) is 6.3L/100km. 17 inch alloy wheels will be standard as will an auto tailgate. Leatherette Sports seats will support the driver and front passenger. They’ll have access to wireless smartphone charging, Apple CarPlay, and be safe with City Crash Mitigation with Pedestrian Detection plus Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop/Start. Dynamic Traction Control with Electronic Differential Lock Control and Park distance control with rear camera and reversing assistant will also be standard.

Cooper S Countryman starts from $52,990. A 4-cylinder petrol engine delivers 141kW & 280Nm for a 7.5s 0-100 time whilst providing economy of 6.7l/100 km via a 7-speed Steptronic sport dual-clutch transmission. There will be three MINI Driving Modes (Sport, Mid, Green). The exterior highlights will see a Piano Black Line Exterior (headlights surround, bezels around rear lights, front grille frame, door handles) with the radiator grille in black surround and featuring a black honeycomb insert and S designation.

18-inch light-alloy wheels with run-flat tyres will be here. Inside there is a John Cooper Works steering wheel, Leather Cross Punch Sports seats for driver and front passenger in Carbon Black that will match the piano black surfacing for the trim. An extra safety element is the Forward Collision Warning with visual and audio warning signal, plus braking pre-conditioning.Hybrid Countryman starts from $60,990. It’s the same 3 cylinder petrol plus a 65kW/165Nm electric motor and six speed auto. 0-100 is 6.8s and economy is 2.4l/100 km. There is an extra drive mode (Green+) and the All4 intelligent all-wheel drive system. The Piano Black exterior package is fitted and complements the chrome side scuttles. The 18 inch alloys and run-flats are standard as are the blackouts for the grille. The interior has the John Cooper Works steering wheel, Carbon Black Leather Cross Punch Sports seats for driver and front passenger, Piano Black interior surfaces and the Forward Collision Warning with visual and audio warning signal, plus braking pre-conditioning.

The JCW Countryman Pure kicks off from $61,915. The 4 cylinder petrol breathes via a pair of centrally mounted tailpipes and punches out 225kW and 450Nm for a 5.1s sprint time. Economy is 7.6l/100 km. The transmission is an 8 speed Steptronic sport automatic paddle shifts and launch control. The MINI Driving Modes are Sport, Mid, Green and grip is via the All4 intelligent all-wheel drive system. 18 inch alloys and run-flat tyres ride with a Sport tuned suspension. Brakes are fixed 4 piston front calipers. The grille has a red insert whilst the rear sit flat courtesy of a JCW spoiler.

Countryman’s additional specification over JCW Pure has a starting price from $67,818 and has adaptive suspension, 19-inch light-alloy wheels with run-flats. with the interior getting a HUD and sounds via a Harman Kardon HiFi Sound System with 12 speakers and eight channel digital amplifier.

Car Sales In Australia Continue To Slide In September

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries has released the numbers for new car sales in September 2020. 68,985 new vehicles were sold and that’s a drop of 21.8% compared to last year’s September figures of 88,181. For 2020, 644,891 vehicles have been moved, that’s down 20.5% for 2019’s 811,464.

Ford’s Ranger lead the way with 3,726, heading Toyota’s RAV4 on 2,433, Hyundai’s i30 with 1,786, which just pipped Mazda’s CX-5 on 1,765.On a brand basis it was Toyota on 12,936, Mazda with an even 7,000, Hyundai on 5,723, whilst Kia was nipping at its sister company’s heels at 5,092. Ford was fifth, with the Ranger making up most of the 4,816 sales.

In a category comparison, 17,720 passenger vehicles were sold, for 25.7% of the overall market. 47.3% of new vehicles sold were SUV at 32,647. Light Commercial Vehicles had 22.9% for 15,772 sales. Victoria’s lockdown situation saw 10,447 vehicles sold. That’s a decrease of a whopping 57.7% compared to September 2019. In opposition, the A.C.T, the N.T, and W.A. had increases of 3.4%, 10.6%, and 1.5% respectively.

The Chief Executive of the FCAI, Tony Weber, commented: “First of all, we are seeing COVID-19 health restrictions across Australia, and particularly in metropolitan Melbourne, continue to ease. Another sign that the market may improve is the announcement by the Federal Government last week of an easing of lending conditions for private buyers and small business in Australia.” and added: Freeing up restrictions around financial lending will act as a stimulus for Australian industry.” Mr Weber said.

The numbers reflect thirty months in a row of decreasing sales, affected by exchange rates, economic uncertainty, Covid-19, and other natural disasters.Diesel powered passenger vehicles continued to slide, with 2019’s figures of 6,890 well ahead of 2020’s 4,185. This mirrors the SUV segment with 2019 seeing 86,969 compared to 2020’s 64,009 so far. Electric passenger cars are the opposite, with 701 for 2020 compared to 2019’s 527. A big change has been the SUV hybrid segment, with new models being available and reflected in the 23,173 compared to 2019’s 5,986. In comparison, petrol fed SUVs dropped dramatically, from 270,923 to 225,443.In the sub-$60K people mover segment, Kia’s Carnival dominated. 237 were sold in September, well ahead of Honda’s Odyssey and LDV’s G10, with 69 and 67 apiece. Above $60K and it’s a two way tussle between Mercedes-Benz and Toyota, with the Granvia’s 22 nudging the German brand’s V-Class and Valente 34 and 27.

Ford’s Mustang continued its winning ways in the sub-$80K Sports car segment with 145, well ahead of Mazda’s MX-5 (54) with Hyundai’s recently revamped Veloster in hot pursuit on 49. For the over $80K segment, Mercedes-Benz again continued to lead with their E-Class and C-Class duking it out on 97 and 94.

For the sub-$40K small SUV market, it was gold and silver for Korea, with the Kia Seltos finding 1,089 new homes, Hyundai’s Kona into 1,036, and bronze for Mitsubishi’s ASX on 940. For the medium sub-$60K SUVs it was the RAV4 with 2,433 heading the Mazda CX-5 with 1,765. Third place was Hyundai’s Tucson on 1,199.

Toyota also took out the sub-$70K large SUV market with the Prado selling 820, ahead of the Mazda CX-9 at 624 and the Kia Sorento on 569. Toyota’s LandCruiser swamped the Nissan Patrol, with 990 for September over the Patrol’s 190.In the crucial 4×4 pick-up/cab chassis sector it was the Ford Ranger leading the way on 3,454, well ahead of the soon to be updated Toyota HiLux on 2,790, and Mitsubishi’s Triton on 1,234.