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Archive for November, 2020

2021 Kia Picanto S Manual: Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The baby of the current Kia range, Picanto. A pert five door hatch, Picanto is available in either S or GT-Line specification. It’s also one of the cheapest new cars currently available to buy in Australia.How Much Does It Cost?: Kia has the Picanto S, in manual transmission and 1.2L engine spec, at $16,990 and in non-metallic Clear White. The specification sheet supplied by Kia says there are no options available aside from the exterior colours such as Sparkling Silver, Honey Bee Yellow, or Aurora Black Pearl at $595.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 1.25L petrol four and a five speed manual in the review vehicle. There is an auto available with just four ratios available. That engine is the only option with the turbo 3 cylinder reserved for the Rio GT-Line. Peak power is 62kW (6,000rpm) and peak torque is 122Nm at 4,000rpm. Economy is a strong part of the Picanto’s appeal, with a combined figure of 5.0L/100km (manual) from the 35.0L fuel thimble. Our final overall average was a very creditable 6.0L/100km with a best of 4.4L/100km seen.On The Outside It’s: Not as visually appealing as the GT-Line. The Picanto S has a wheel and tyre package of 175/65/16 with steel wheels and plastic covers. The front bumper has halogen driving lights that come on with the ignition, with the bumper jutting forward from the headlights and tiger nose grille. There are no LEDs here, it’s pure old-tech front and rear on the slightly boxy body. The Clear White emphasises the more cubic shape of the Picanto when it’s sans GT-Line enhancements.On The Inside It’s: Dominated by the now ubiquitous stand alone touchscreen. At 8.0 inches in size it’s well amongst the standard sizes and features smartapp compatibility. Both Apple and Android are wireless and have voice recognition. Sound is good without being muddy. There is also a USB and 3.5mm socket in the lower front centre console.

The driver’s display is also familiar with a 4.2 inch colour display and analogue dials. An intriguing feature is the screen rolls lines upwards as the vehicle moves along and the driver changes gears.

Plastics throughout tend to the hard side; there is no soft touch on the binnacle, console, door tops, to add a touch of comfort. The upper section of the cabin is trimmed in a light grey material to counterbalance the largely black lower section.Seats are cloth covered, manually operated, and comfortable enough for the Picanto’s natural home, short suburban runs. Front seat leg and head room is adequate, as is rears eat head room, but taller people will find the rear pew a little claustrophobic. And nominally a five seater, the rear seat is not suitable for three adults. Luggage space echoes this at 255L (seats up) with 1,010L available with seats folded.On The Road It’s: Suitable for purpose. The 1.2L engine is by no means a firecracker, with alacrity not a word in its dictionary. That may sound harsh as even with four aboard, it pulls well enough although noticeably blunted compared to having just the driver aboard. Even with the free-spinning engine being wound up, it’s enough for moderate acceleration only. It also makes it a questionable choice as being the only engine option for the GT-Line version.

We’ve noted previously the soft springing for the clutch and gear selector; there is little to no weight in the lever and a very gentle one finger movement is enough to see the first to second to third and so on happen. The clutch is the same, there is no real pressure here at all. However, there is an upside to this and it’s that the Picanto S manual slots into the space needed for a learner driver.

It’s ideal for a new driver because that combination of soft clutch and lever won’t be intimidating and the pairing make for the ideal training mechanism. This applies to the somewhat woolly steering and soft suspension setup. The Picanto S bottoms out easily to the bumpstops, meaning some serious speed reduction or driver planning is required to lessen the bang thump. The miniscule disc and drum brake combo do a decent job of hauling up the petite Picanto, and work great with the down-changing of the gears coming to a set of lights or a stop sign.What About Safety?: Autonomous Emergency Braking with Forward Collision Warning is standard, however there is no Blind Spot Warning, Lane Keep Assist, or Rear Cross Traffic Alert. These may seem a major omission however it brings back to the driver their responsibility to not be trained to rely on electronic aids.

What About Warranty And Service?: The standard seven years warranty and capped price servicing applies. Total cost over the seven years is $2,806, for an average cost of $400 per year or just $7.70 per week. Years two, four, and six are where the costs climb higher than the others.At The End Of The Drive. For less than $18K (with metallic paint) the Picanto S manual is ideally priced to be a first new car or a supplementary car. It’s a city car, a suburban car, and fulfills this design brief perfectly. It’s comfortable enough for the city environment, has the basics at a suitable level for tech and entertainment, and provides a reasonable ride and handling package. It’s the sort of vehicle that, when expectations aren’t of a super level, it meets those expectations perfectly.

That Christmas Car Gift

As with everything driven by consumer activity, the holiday season is a bonanza time for advertisers, and that extends to car dealers as well. You’ll see loads of adverts plastered around town telling you that a new car is the perfect gift to treat yourself, or heck, a loved one. And in some ways, it certainly makes sense – dealers are keen to hit their sales targets, so there are no shortage of deals to be struck.

Before you rush too quickly into a purchase, however, it might be time to stop and think before signing anything. Christmas is a high-pressure period of the year when the advertisers are out to get you to spend all those earnings you’ve set aside throughout the year. Let’s be honest, who among us hasn’t regretted a certain impulse purchase in the new year once the reality of the cost has sunk in?

What to keep in mind

You should never buy a car under pressure when there’s a deadline. And, well, Christmas is a deadline in many ways. It’s bad enough if you have to find a new vehicle in a hurry at any time of year, but in other situations, there’s always the option of using ridesharing options, public transport or hitching a ride from a friend.

However, if you end up letting that deadline get in the way of making the most appropriate choice, you might end up committing to a car or finance package that doesn’t meet your needs. Before you agree to any form of financing, you should always ask the right questions and do the necessary research, not only into the car you would like to buy, but also into the financial package in question.

The reality is, however, that a new car isn’t always the wisest choice for a Christmas present. New cars depreciate at a rate of knots, while second-hand cars can hide their own share of gremlins under the bonnet. On top of that, it’s better to pick out your own car that suits your own needs than to try choose a car for someone else. With that said, spoiling oneself is something we should all do every now and then, just make sure you have considered in detail what to look for so you’re not making a rushed, impulsive decision.

Christmas presents for the car enthusiast

If you do have a car enthusiast in the family and want to buy them a car-related Christmas present, look for something smaller than a car that doesn’t require the same level of financial commitment. Why not take a look at some of the following gift ideas.

  • A year’s subscription to an automotive magazine
  • Car care accessories such as car wax, chamois, cleaning products, air fresheners – better yet, a bundled gift set!
  • Seat covers or sunshades for the windscreen
  • Phone cradle or GPS for the driver who spends all their time on the road for work
  • Model toy cars of the vehicle that you know the car enthusiast in your life dreams of having
  • Apparel, homeware or linen decorated with the logo of their favourite car company

Low Voltage: The Charge To EV Vehicles

With world governments declaring a transition to electric vehicles over the next three decades or earlier, such as the U.K. by 2030 or 2035, it would be reasonable to presume that Australian governments would also back any push, without extra roadblocks, to have EVs the primary vehicle for passenger transportation.

The Australian Capital Territory has gone to that length, as has the state government of Tasmania, with the Apple Isle declaring the government’s fleet will be 100% electric by 2030. the A.C.T. began their transition process in 2018 . Neither the A.C.T. or the Tasmanian government have currently declared that any form of EV tax will be implemented.

However, South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria have all announced that the users of an EV will be subjected to a user tax. Victoria has declared that as soon as July 1, 2021, a road user tax on EVs will be implemented. Tony Weber, from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, isn’t impressed:

“Australian state governments want to kill the technology at its infancy. Is this because some states want to substitute the Commonwealth excise tax with their own tax? Are motorists being caught in a petty game in which the states want to establish a new revenue base at the expense of the Commonwealth?”

Weber also points out the disassociation of the governments here in regards to what other nations are doing in respect to development alternatives for public vehicle transport.

“All around the world, global automotive companies have invested billions of dollars to develop environmentally friendly vehicles. And all around the world, progressive governments have supported the introduction of these vehicles. But here in Australia, we inhibit their introduction by levying extra charges on them. It simply beggars belief at this early stage of electric vehicle introduction.”

Mr Weber’s points take aim at the short-sighted attitude of the Australian states that appear to prefer revenue over doing something that reduces exhaust emissions and going some way to reduce the effects of climate change. “With its proposal to tax LZEVs through a road-user charging tariff, South Australia is discouraging the uptake of environmentally friendly motoring and is turning its back on the topic of Climate Change.”

The argument for the taxes comes from those that see that by using no petrol or diesel, which have excises attached, by using the same roads without those excise contributions, EVs are effectively getting a free ride. This overlooks the charges by electricity suppliers to any location providing an outlet for an EV to be charged, however then it’s pointed out those EV charges don’t go back into the roads.

This is something the Australian Automobile Association has in mind when it comes to a fairer apportioning of charges: “As people move towards electric vehicles and other low emission technologies, revenue from fuel excise is declining, which not only risks road funding, but also means some drivers are paying for roads while others are not, which is neither a fair nor a sustainable model. A nationally consistent approach will be important to drivers, who won’t want a patchwork of unique state charging systems, technologies, or rates.”

Regardless of which, it would appear to be a prudent move by the governments to look at what the A.C.T. is doing: Zero stamp duty on new zero emissions vehicles; 20% discount on registration fees; Annual savings from reduced running costs; Help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep our environment clean and healthy; Quieter driving and reduced noise pollution.

And perhaps: In 2017 the United Kingdom and France announced their intention to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, with all cars to be fully electric. Since this time, other countries have also committed to phasing out new petrol and diesel car sales including Scotland, India, China, Norway and the Netherlands.

Then there is the announcement in mid November, 2020, by General Motors, here.

As Bob Dylan once sang: the times, they are a-changing…but it seems some governments are stuck in time.

Raw Materials and Sustainability in an Automotive World

Car interiors are looking very stylish with many colours available, many textures and, of course, technologies.  Even the exterior and structure of new cars utilise some pretty sensational materials that are lightweight, strong and malleable.  So what are the main raw materials that make up the structure, style and flair that we love in our vehicles?

Inside each new car are different materials that require a number of raw materials for their production.  Aluminium, glass, coking coal, and iron ore are used in the process of making steel.  Kia and Mazda use very high-grade, high-strength steel in the production of their cars.  Mazda even states that they use very thin and strong steel.  There is a cost, though; the more high-grade, lightweight and high-strength the steel, the costlier it is to produce.  High-strength steel alloys cost more to manufacture.  Not only is the high-grade alloy harder to create in its raw form; it is also harder to work with.  Stamping it and forming it becomes harder, and so more energy and stronger tools are needed to press, form and cut it.

The automotive industry also relies on oil and petroleum products, not just for the gasoline and fuel to power the vehicles, but for the synthesis of plastics and in the production of other synthetic materials.  Petroleum products are needed to make huge amounts of plastics, rubber and special fibres.  After the raw materials are extracted from the earth, they are transformed into products that automakers or auto parts companies use in the car assembly process.

But wait; there is more – but only if you are into driving an electric vehicle (EV).  An EV is made up of all the raw materials described above, as the only thing that’s different about an EV from a vehicle that is powered by a combustion engine is that an EV uses a battery pack to get its power.  In every EV battery, there’s a complex chemistry of metals – cobalt, lithium, nickel and more.  These are all raw materials that need to be mined from somewhere around the globe.  Some researchers are expecting to see double-digit growth for batteries’ special raw materials over the next decade, and this sort of growth will increase the pressure on the raw material supply chain for EVs.

Hydrogen vehicles are powered by hydrogen.  The power plants of such vehicles convert the chemical energy of hydrogen into mechanical energy by either burning hydrogen in an internal combustion engine, or by reacting hydrogen with oxygen in a fuel cell to power electric motors.  The fuel cell is more common.  A hydrogen powered vehicle is made up of the same core raw materials as the contemporary combustion powered cars and the EVs; however, like the EV, the hydrogen vehicle gets it power from a different source (hydrogen).  As of 2019, 98% of the hydrogen was produced by steam methane reforming, and this emits carbon dioxide.  Hydrogen can be produced by thermochemical or pyrolytic means using renewable feedstocks, but the processes are currently expensive.  So, you can run a hydrogen vehicle with an internal combustion engine that uses hydrogen as the fuel.  However, you can also run a hydrogen vehicle that uses a hydrogen fuel cell.  The hydrogen fuel cell is more complex, relying on special raw materials (one raw material being platinum as a catalyst) to deliver the hydrogen for powering the vehicle.

Biofuel is another fuel which can be used for powering combustion engine vehicles.  Biofuel can be produced sustainably from renewable resources.  The hitch with this one is ensuring there are large enough areas and methods dedicated to growing and producing biofuel for the masses.  Biofuel is considered to be a fuel that is derived from biomass, which can be from plant or algae material or animal waste. Since such plant, algae or animal waste material can be replenished readily, biofuel is considered to be a source of renewable energy, unlike fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal, and natural gas and even EVs.

Without a doubt, the automobile industry is one of the largest consumers of the world’s raw materials, and it’s important we get informed as to just how green a heralded new technology is said to be.  Science and sustainability need to continue to power our much needed vehicles about the globe and not fossil fuel giants, electric companies or blinded government bureaucrats.

2021 Isuzu D-Max SX 4×2 Cab Chassis: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: The starting point to the revamped (finally) Isuzu D-Max range. There is a bewildering choice: five two wheel drive vehicles in two or four door versions, and eight 4WD including the top of the ladder X-Terrain (coming to AWT very soon).

How Much Does It Cost?: As of November 2020, Isuzu had the SX 4×2 cab chassis on a stunning drive-away deal of $29,990. A quote built on the Isuzu sire has a retail price of around $8,400 more, representing a huge saving for new buyers. The colour on our review was basic Mineral White as a no cost option. There are, of course, plenty of additions such as a nudge or bull bar at $1,000 or $2,999, a slide out step at $370.70, or, as fitted, an under tray water tank ($360.80) or lockable undertray tool box at $437.80. A welded wire mesh window protector was fitted and that’s $193.60.Under The Bonnet Is: A six speed manual gearbox and a 3.0L diesel. A six speed auto is optionable for the SX, standard in the 4x2s after the SX, and in the 4x4s only the LS-U and X-Terrain have auto only. The donk is common for all variants and produces 140kW and 450Nm. A worrying number though is what comes next. Urban economy is quoted as 10.2L/100km (9.8L/100km for the auto) for the SX 4×2 cab chassis. Then there is the weight: 1,695kg (dry) is a substantial figure for a vehicle that doesn’t look as half as heavy. Payload is listed as 1,305kg or 1,300kg depending on manual or auto fitted.Combined economy is listed as 8.0L/100km with the highway figure 6.7L or 6.9L/100km. We saw a best of 8.8L/100km and a worst of 10.1L/100km, with a final average of 9.7L/100km. Frankly, we expected a better return. Tank size, by the way, is 76L.

On The Outside It’s: Got some big numbers. Length overall: 5,325mm. Wheelbase: 3,125mm. 1,310mm for the rear overhang depending on the body fitted. 235mm for the body ground clearance. Inside the tray is 1,777mm of space, with a length of 2,550mm.

The main visible changes from the outgoing models are in the headlight design, the grille, and the bumper. The SX misses out on the LED driving lights, staying with a full halogen setup. The nose is a more upright style, the strakes in the grille have been turned upside down so the end points point downwards. It’s also bigger than before, extending downward to include, as a one piece item, a separate air intake. The surrounds for the driving lights in the far ends of the bumper has also been restyled.As mentioned, our review vehicle had some options fitted and these add some genuine flexibility to the overall usage. What was noticed though, was the somewhat ridiculous placing of the rear bumper, complete with step, underneath and inside the length of the tray. In essence, one could place a foot on the step but would have their leg at a 45 degree angle away from the step, rendering that particular feature unusable.We also noticed that the inside of the tray had a pair of ridges, one each side and a few centimetres from the outer wall. These have a series of holes drilled through from front to back, presumably to be used as tie down points.On The Inside It’s: Pretty good considering it’s the entry level model. Good looking plastics, comfortable and supportive cloth-trimmed pews, a dash display that’s slightly manga for our tastes, and simple to use & operate dials for the aircon. However, when the AC button is on, it’s only a too faint white light to show, rather than the more logical and visible blue light as seen virtually everywhere else.

A nice surprise was digital audio however the Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatible 7.0 inch touchscreen has a home screen that is frankly terrible. There is a compass and a clock; the compass shows, when tapped, GPS coordinates only, rather than a far more usable navigation system. Once through to the audio screen (a tap of the piano black music symbol at bottom right) it brings up a screen that is mostly ok but not intuitive for scrolling through or setting stations as a favourite. As updated compared to the previous model, at this level, it may be it needs more polish.

It’s a key start and we found that on nearly every twist, it would act as if the battery was dead. A second twist and the engine fired up with no indication anything was amiss.Convenience features come in the form of a 12V socket, a USB port, a pair of cup holders and a small console bin. The tiller is reach and rake adjustable, and there is voice recognition software for the audio system. Headlights are auto-on and thick, easy to clean, rubber mates were fitted.

On The Road It’s: A typical light commercial in being a very bouncy ride without a load. We did get a chance to put in around 100kg of load and there was a small but noticeable improvement in the ride quality. The front suspension is coil springs on double wishbones, the rear is semi-elliptic leaf springs with gas shockers.

The redline on the 3.0 diesel is around 4,200rpm, but it runs out of puff well before that. Call it 3,000rpm and you’d be on the money. That peak torque, mind, is from 1,600rpm to 2,600rpm, so it’s entirely a bad think. Peak power is reached at 3,600rpm.It pulls nicely, and as expected, through to that 3,000rpm and this makes general driving a fair proposition. The gearing, however, is commercial (natch!) so 1st gets to maybe 25kph before a change up. 2nd runs to 40, 45kph. 6th sees around 2,000rpm at freeway velocities.Steering is heavy but not excessively so, and lightens up gradually as the numbers look north to 110kph. On the freeway it’s weighted just heavily enough to get the driver thinking, and light enough so extra effort to haul the SX 4×2 from lane to lane isn’t required. Changing down the gears is good enough too, with a heavy-ish clutch and notchy selector ensuring that driver involvement is a little less intuitive, a little more think about where things are.

The weighting of the selector is just about right though, and the lever height has the top fall to hand perfectly. This make the actual gear change on the go spot on, and combined with the notchy change, makes this manual transmission the right choice for the Isuzu SX 4×2.What About Safety?: Blind Spot Monitoring is standard, as is Rear Cross Traffic Alert and AEB. That’s across the range. Lane Departure Warning and Emergency Lane Assist are standard. A somewhat touchy Forward Collision Warning threw a few falsies our way but it too is standard across the range. Airbags? Eight, thank you very much, making the SX 4×2 better equipped in this respect that many passenger oriented vehicles. There are dual front, curtain, side, driver’s knee and far side airbags.

What About Warranty And Service?: It’s impressive. There is a six year warranty, seven years capped price servicing and roadside assist. First service is $389, fourth is $509, and seventh is $409. Intervals are 12 monthly or 15,000 kilometres.

At The End Of The Drive. As an entry level machine, the Isuzu D-Max SX 4×2 stacks up well. Pricing is sharp, engineering is sorted bar the surprisingly breathless engine, safety levels are high, and the cabin is decent enough. The touchscreen interface is a bit “how’s yer father” though and lowers the otherwise welcoming ambience of the cabin. The reskin has given the D-Max a more purposeful look and for the tradie, a huge range of options bring massive flexibility.

An overview of the D-Max range is available online.

2021 Jeep Compass Night Eagle: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The new, to the Compass range, Night Eagle. It’s now the entry level to the Compass family, and perhaps even the Jeep range, with a couple of compromises.

How Much Does It Cost?: It has a list price of $36,950, plus ORC, which in context is quite a competitive ask.

Under The Bonnet Is: Where we’ll find the compromises. First up, it’s front wheel drive only. No transfer case or even an all-wheel-drive option. Secondly, the transmission is a six speed auto. No eight, no nine.

The engine is the brand’s Tigershark naturally aspirated 2.4L four cylinder petrol. 129kW (6,400rpm) and 229Nm (3,900rpm) are the numbers, along with a plus-nine fuel economy.Our best was 8.8L/100km but overall it hovered between 9.5 to 9.8 from the 66L tank. Jeep says the urban figure is a somewhat frightening 11.2L/100km. Frightening because the Compass Night eagle is no heavyweight at 1,446kg.

On The Outside It’s: More like a Cherokee, even the Grand Cherokee, then ever. A brash, bluff, profile, it starts with a deep chin, the familiar seven slot grille, and the LED indicators below the main lights. The Night Eagle dips out on adaptive cruise control, auto high beam, and front parking sensors.

The lower air intake has the forward facing anti-collision sensor. Although ostensibly not aimed at off-roading Jeep advises there is a 15.8 and 30.8 degree approach and departure angle from the Compass’ 4,394mm overall length. Wheelbase is 2,636mm.A new shade, a metallic ($645 option) called Grey Magnesio, coated the body and highlighted the black painted alloys perfectly. There are Bridgestone Turanz rubber and the package is 225/55/18 in size. The rear window line kinks towards the top of the manual tailgate, and the rear door opens easily and effortlessly. There is a security cover here, and the clips that attach to the upwards folding door made a habit of coming loose.On The Inside It’s: A surprise in that it doesn’t feel an entry level machine. Leather appointed seats, steering wheel, and drive selector surrounds add a luxury touch. There is a 230V power socket and USB port for the rear seat passengers, a 12V and USB plus 3.5mm Auxiliary in the leading edge of the centre console.

The touchscreen is Jeep’s 8.4 inch unit with u-Connect, digital audio, Apple and Android compatibility, and 18 themes for the display. Although in reality there are only four or five as choices of numbers showed the same display. The double-up of climate controls via the touchscreen and the rotary/push tabs works a treat. Noticed was the hexagonal seat trim motif that was mirrored in the touchscreen’s backgrounds.

Our test vehicle was fitted with a full glass, dual pane, sunroof ($1,950 option) that works quickly. This is easily opened and closed via overhead tabs just above the driver & front passenger seats. Being entry level, it’s a key start, not push button. The key itself would feel stuck after switching off and requiring a bit of coaxing to slide out. Also, being an American design (but built in India) it’s a left hand indicator stalk and there is a quite plasticky feel in engaging it. There’s a bit of finger effort required to move it and a solid plastic sounding click when it does.

For the driver there are a pair of analogue dials with the jewelled look inserts. In between is the multifunction LCD display with nine submenus for info on economy, tyre pressures, trip meters, etc. Cabin ambience is closer to the upper end of luxury, with high quality look and feel for the plastics. Cargo space is good too at 438L.However, there is a small hiccup, and it’s when the driver’s door is opened, a slight misalignment of the trim outside leads to a scraping noise.It’s short, sharp, and annoying because this kind of quality control issue should not still be happening in a modern, robot controlled, production line.

On The Road It’s: Where we find another hiccup and it’s more troubling. The transmission, as mentioned, is a six speed auto only, and the ratios don’t quite work.

Drive around the ‘burbs’ and it sits in 4th gear, rarely moving to 5th by itself, and requires manual intervention more often to get it to drop down. 1st and 2nd, in comparison, are long, holding on and especially under a harder pedal, rather than intuitively shifting down. Climb up a slope and either 1st or 2nd, never both, will go quickly before holding onto the next. It’s not always the smoothest of shifters either, with noticeable thumps and clunks at low to suburban speeds.

Yet, on the freeway, it easily slipped to 6th and has the engine rotating at a lazy 2,000rpm. Remember, there is no turbo here, nor currently a hybrid option. It can get thrashy when pushed, as a result, with a metallic whine rising in timbre as the revs climbed.

Driveline worries aside, it’s a good steer, with perhaps just a little too much understeer as moderate cornering speeds have the Night Eagle’s nose constantly running wide. Suspension tune is adequate, with reasonable if not tightly controlled rebound and absorption on most tarmac surfaces. It did deal with shopping centre comparison speed restrictions nicely.What About Safety?: It’s well equipped with Full Speed Forward Collision Warning Plus, Reverse Camera, Blind Spot Alert, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert fitted. Seven airbags are also standard as are rear parking sensors.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and 100,000 kilometres; here it falls short as pretty much everyone else offers unlimited kilometres. However, roadside assistance is for the lifetime of the vehicle. Capped price servicing applies and it’s a good’un. $399 per service for the first five years on a 12 monthly or 12,000 kilometre cycle.

At The End Of The Drive. It’s a very good overall change to a new entry level vehicle, but falls down inches one area any car is judged on: how it drives. It’s almost unheard of nowadays for an auto to not fully utilise all of its cogs, and for this six speeder to be quite reluctant to move from 4th, it diminishes the driving ability and results in the user-unfriendly fuel economy as seen.It’s fair to expect the Night Eagle to be a suburban prowler, in competition with vehicles such as the Tucson, Qashqai or perhaps X-Trail, perhaps the Kia Seltos, and the all-conquering RAV4.

The cabin is a nice place to be, its handling characteristics will suit some buyers, but the issue with the transmission, in our opinion, will quickly become tiresome and become the Night Eagle’s millstone. Click here for more info.

What Happens To Cars On the Scrap Heap?

So what happens to our cars once they’ve shuffled off?  At the end of a vehicle’s useful life one of two things happens.  The nicest option is that you’ll find an enthusiast who will take pity on the aged car and give it a complete rebuild and refurbish.  This happens to the lucky cars that have a bit of personality or desirability.  However, it’s not often that a regular run-of-the-mill car will get this lucky; so what the most likely outcome for a dead car is that it will be consigned to the scrap heap.

It is the cars and trucks that end up on the scrap heap that I want to focus on here.  There is a silver lining with vehicles that do get into the scrap yard process because habitually these cars can be almost totally recycled, and that’s a good thing.  Vehicle recycling involves totally dismantling a car and it’s a great way to protect our earth’s natural resources by ensuring that the vehicles are destroyed properly and re-used.  Cars, trucks and vans have a lot of reusable parts on them and so they remain valuable because their components can be used as spares for other motor vehicles or used to build totally new items.

The first step of car recycling involves manually removing the tyres and batteries, safely draining the vehicle of any fuel, oil, and any other liquids present inside the car’s components.  Catalytic converters and batteries are removed for recycling.  Airbags are safely triggered and taken apart, however the airbags aren’t fit for reuse on other vehicles.

Obviously, car parts are only stored for reuse if they are in good working condition.  If the particular model of vehicle is in good demand on the market, their engines can be re-manufactured to a brand new standard.  However, in most cases, unwanted gear boxes, engines, and other steel car parts are dismantled for separate shredding.  The ferrous metal material that is recovered after dismantling is sent to steel mills for use as ferrous scrap metal, which can also be used as feed stock to produce high quality steel components for new cars.  Also, anything from new cars to drinks cans can be made from recycled metals left over from the car recycling process.

The remaining car is now shredded, after which the remaining material becomes easier to sort through for obtaining other different recyclable materials within the shredded material.  The separation of the shredded material uses different methods; for example, magnets are used to draw out all the metal from the shredded material.  Shredding technology has advanced over time, and it is now possible to sort the shredded materials totally to ensure a minimal landfill product is left over at the end of the process.

Once the metal has been take out, the other components of the vehicles that are made up from different types of plastics and foam can be separated.  Hard plastics can now be taken out, which were originally from the car dashboard and other interior components.  Another material called shredder fabric can be sorted out, and this comes from shredded carpets and seat cushions.  The shredder sand material is what is left at the very end, and this consists of paint particles, glass, and other fine particles.

Left over shredded materials can be used to make new vehicle plastics and components.  But there are many uses for the left over materials.  Hard plastics, for example, can be used as reducing agents in iron production plants. Shredder fibres are sometimes used in sewage treatment plants.

Shredder sand is sometimes known as automotive shredder residue (ASR).  ASR consists of a wide variety of materials, including plastics, glass, rubber, wood, foam, tramp metal, wire, fibres, sand and dirt.  It can also contain some hazardous contaminants such as lead, cadmium and petroleum hydrocarbons, making it a hazardous waste. Recyclers and scientists have been searching for ways to recycle and reuse ASR, which is primarily petroleum based, and which nearly always tends to end up in landfills.

Because ASR is full of plastics, which are made of petroleum, it also has the potential for use as a fuel supplement in cement kilns.  It can also be used in products such as various coatings, paints, adhesives, plastics and flame-retardant additives.  Through pyrolysis, oil can be extracted from the plastics found in ASR, and though this process is not yet completely proven, researchers continue to explore the efficiency and profitability of the process. Refining the process of pyrolysis may soon make it a common solution for the recycling of ASR.

Recycling a spent car is definitely good for our environment, and there are good financial returns for those who choose to make money in doing so.

2020 Kia Rio GT-Line: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Kia’s second smallest car, complete with attitude and spunk. It’s a bit like “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”. Complete with a three cylinder engine and DCT, plus some body add-ons, and in the review car’s case, an eye-catching Mighty Yellow paint, how much fight is in this pint size warrior wannabe?How Much Does It Cost?: $24,490 drive-away plus $520 for premium paint.

Under The Bonnet Is: A relatively tiny 1.0L three cylinder with the Hyundai/Kia Smartstream label. But don’t think it’s too small for the Rio. 74kW and 172Nm (1,500 to 4,000rpm) combine to foist upon the 1,197kg (dry) machine enough pizzazz and spriteliness to provide enough of a grin factor when the car is driven…ahem…appropriately.It’s cheap to run as well; our worst was 7.0L/100km, with a best of 4.1L/100, with a final average of 6.2L/100km. Tank size is 45L worth for regular unleaded. None of those figures are far from Kia’s official figures of 5.3L/6.3L/4.8L per 100km on the combined/urban, and highway drives. And not that many would, but towing is rated as 1,000kg. Transmission is a seven ratio Dual Clutch Transmission.

On The Outside It’s: Largely unchanged for the past couple of years. It sits nicely in the compact class at 4,070mm in length although it looks smaller. It’s 1,450mm high, and 1,725mm wide, sitting on a wheelbase of 2,580mm.

That means it’s a stubby little thing with short overhangs, and slightly cubical when seen from either end directly. In profile the A-pillars have a slope that matches the rear pillar, bringing some visual balance to the main body.

Driving lights are the four-cube set, cast to either end of the front bar and in an enclosure limned in black that reaches out but doesn’t quite meet a slim air intake sitting under the main slimline tiger-nose. This is echoed with a mirror set in the rear bumper that has a pair of reflectors.

Wheels are 16 spoke 17 inch alloys with dark grey highlights, shod in Continental Contisport Contact rubber at 205/45.On The Inside It’s: Quite sparsely trimmed. The seats are a black cloth with white stitched leather bolstering, white piping, and fully manually adjustable. No electronics at all. Pedals are alloy, and a carbon-fibre look inlay runs full length across the dash. Otherwise, plastics are a bit low-rent to look at and touch aside from the piano black for the air vent, touchscreen, and drive selector surrounds.

Driver’s dials are analogue with the familiar 4.2 inch info cluster. Here is where a digital screen would have been a nice step up. Aircon controls are basic yet idiot-proof dials and push-buttons, sitting over a 12V & USB port. A sole USB port sits at the end of the small centre console. The main touchscreen is an 8.0 inch unit in glorious monochrome, featuring AM, FM, and Bluetooth along with Android and Apple compatibility.Convenience features run to bottle holders in each door, a pair of console cup holders, and rain sensing wipers. No airvents for the rear seaters though… Luggage space is 325L to 980L, with the second row seats folding but not level with the boot floor. That’s not quite enough for a weekly shop for a family of four, but then, the Rio GT-Line probably wouldn’t be in a driveway for that demographic.

Solar or UV blocking glass is standard for the GT’s front three windows, with privacy glass for the rears. A drive mode tab is placed up towards the drive selector, with Eco, Normal, and Sport the choices. There’s a sporting hint with the now familiar flat bottomed tiller. Packaging overall is good thanks to the slightly boxy body shape.

On The Road It’s: Much better in Normal mode than Eco. There’s more life, lighter steering, whereas Eco drags the Rio GT-Line into the mud and everything feels heavier and slower. Sport mode adds extra zip and especially in the mid-range of the engine’s torque delivery. In Eco, the steering has a feel of the front tyres being deflated. Switch to Normal and it lightens up just enough to feel…well…normal.

The seven speed DCT isn’t one of the better of its type, nor is it one of the worst. The clutch gaps aren’t as bad as it has been, with stop then start driving feeling more intuitive and natural. And safer. It also makes for normal and sportier driving a much more enjoyable experience, as changes are sharper, crisper, and more efficiently translating into getting the Rio percolating.

Engage Sport and it’s even swifter, however switching to manual changing (no paddle shifters either, by the way) and there’s a hint more speed in the cogs swapping. Under a gentle foot there is also the audible changes for the gears, with the three cylinder thrum that is so characteristic of these engines running up and down in the revs as the clutch disengages and re-engages for the next ratio. Some DCTs take time to warm up and perform at their best, Kia’s is somewhere between that and being ready to go from the get-go.Ride quality is where the Rio GT-Line varies. It’s too hard sometimes, with little travel and tyre absorption. There’s just that little bit too much bang-crash on some road surfaces, but in contrast nicely dials out any float, with zero rebound on those wallowy surfaces. There is ample grip from the Continental rubber too, making cornering at increasing speed a simple proposition, alongside easy lane changing.

Hit a flat road and it’s ideal, feeling tied to the tarmac, and it’s on this kind of surface where the GT part of GT-Line pays off. Ditto for the engine as that broad swathe of torque effortlessly pulls the GT-Line along. The steering is almost ideally weighted, with little effort needed to switch lanes. Road noise is noticeable but not to the point that cabin conversations feel intruded upon.

What was apparent, too, was the rate of rolling acceleration. Where a merge road goes from 80 to 100 or 110, a change of pace, rapidly, is needed. Here the Rio GT-Line shows appreciable agility without being a neck-snapper, with decent forward progress. It’s perhaps where the 1.2L three with more torque would be a better fit for the name GT-Line.What About Safety?: Autonomous Emergency Braking with Forward Collision Warning, Lane Following and Lane Keeping Assist. Six airbags, and the mandated assorted electronic driver aids are standard.

What About Warranty And Service?: Kia’s standard seven year warranty applies. Total service costs across the seven years is $3,299. That’s an average cost per year of $471 or just nine dollars per week. As is the norm, it’s service four for the big ticket cost at $704, with year five under half that at $319. Year six and seven see $602 and $569.

At The End Of The Drive. Kia’s Rio GT-Line isn’t aimed at the hot hatch market. It’s not aimed at the warm hatch market. It’s aimed at those that want a semblance of performance combined with user friendly economy figures and no need for anything bigger. It’s an ideal first car for the new driver as it’s not excessively endowed with snap/crackle/pop BUT there is enough to provide the appropriate grin factor.

As such, the Kia Rio GT-Line offers up a decent amount of fight however those looking for something with more spice will look elsewhere. That’s no shade on the GT-Line, by the way. It’s intended to be what it is and it fulfills that particular brief perfectly. Check it out, here.

At What Age Do I Need to Re-sit My Licence?

While millennials appear to be abandoning vehicle ownership in favour of ride-sharing transportation, an ageing population means that more and more Australians are dependent on transport solutions to remain mobile.

Naturally, having driven for most of their lives, it means elderly Australian motorists are clinging onto their driving routine and taking up the seat behind the wheel of their car.

With this however, we’re seeing a higher incidence of accidents and road fatalities than years gone past. For example, since 2007 road fatalities for drivers aged between 65 and 74 has grown 2.3% per year as measured across the nation. Among those drivers aged above 75, the figures point to an increase of 1.2% per year.

Drivers aged 65 or above remain the only age group to see an increase in road fatalities across that period, while also recording a 9% rise in “road-related hospitalisations”.

 

 

Balancing drivers needs

With a wealth of advertising and education directed towards younger drivers – who do statistically account for a higher number of accidents and fatalities – an absence on the part of all the state governments across the country to tackle a worrying trend is concerning. But how should we manage community mobility to optimise safety for all road users? Just when is it time to give up driving?

Truth be told, there is no simple answer to this predicament. While each of the states have their own road rules governing elderly drivers, having accessibility to a car remains a vital component to the independence of said individuals.

Nevertheless, for couples and families, it is best to discuss and monitor the health of loved ones to ensure they remain in good condition to take to the road. Regular health check-ups become an essential part of validating this, although remember that age in itself shouldn’t be viewed as the only measure of ability when it comes to driving.

Keep in mind as well, certain lenders will have their hesitations extending finance to those individuals who have retired from the workforce and are currently relying on their pension.

 

 

Rules across Australia

As mentioned above, each state has different rules when it comes to requirements for elderly drivers:

  • NSW: annual medical review (aged 75-84); annual medical review and practical driving test (85+)
  • VIC: no annual medical reviews, albeit referrals may be made by doctors, family and police
  • QLD: annual medical review but no practical driving tests (75+)
  • SA: medical assessment but no practical driving tests (at 70)
  • WA: medical assessment (from 80); medical assessment and practical assessment (from 85+)
  • TAS: no annual medical reviews
  • NT: no annual medical reviews, albeit referrals may be made by doctors, family and police

MG Powers Up With Australian Release of ZS EV.

Historic nameplate MG joins the EV revolution with the all-new, full-electric MG ZS EV compact SUV. Now available to customers in Australia and New Zealand in one trim level only, it’s the cheapest EV available with a drive-away price of $43,990. That price includes an eight year, 160,000 kilometre battery warranty, and a five year, unlimited kilometre, car warranty. Roadside assistance is included for five years.It’s a price that is sure to attract keen interest. The CEO of MG Australia and New Zealand, Peter Ciao, said: “Until now, buyers have had to pay a premium price for an EV. This has meant that only a small portion of the public can afford to buy an EV. Our vision at MG Motor is to change this situation by making electric vehicles available and accessible to everyone. By removing the affordability barrier, we are seeking to fast track EV adoption in Australia and New Zealand.” MG have located the charge port for the front electric motor rated at 105kW and 353Nm at a central point. Charging is provided via a standard CCS2 socket located conveniently behind the grille. The flexibility comes from plugging in a standard household socket or a DC charge cable up to 350kW. This will bring the battery to 80 percent charge from zero in just 45 minutes. At home, it’s a standard overnight charge time for the 44.5kW battery, itself an in-house development by MG. The company is just one of three to have their own battery building facility.That battery size allows for the MG ZS EV to look at a range of just over 260 kilometres. It also endows the MG ZS EV with a 0-100kph time of a scintillating 3.1 seconds from a 1,532kg body, just 50kg heavier than a standard ZS. There are three drive modes to take advantage of, being Eco, Normal, and Sport.

The sole trim level doesn’t skimp on the niceties. Above the passengers is a Panoramic Stargazer glass roof, and at a surface coverage area of 90%, it’s one of the largest of its type. The fronts eat passengers have an 8.0 inch touchscreen complete with Apple and Android smartphone connectivity, satnav, and six speaker audio. drive selection is via a rotary gear selector and there are three regenerative modes.

The dimensions (4,314mm length, 1,809mm wide, 1,644mm tall on a 2,585mm wheelbase) provide plenty of head, leg, and shoulder room as well, along with a flat rear floor that provides up to 1,166L worth of cargo space when the 60/40 splitfold rears are folded. The leather seats have tight stitching and are well padded for comfort. Outside is the familiar “London Eye” headlight design and dual-tone alloys at 17 inches in diameter. Exterior colour choices will include one that is exclusive to the ZS EV, Clipper Blue. Buyers can also choose from Diamond Red metallic paint, Regal Blue,, metallic paint, and Dover White or Pebble Black.MG Pilot is the main safety system including Adaptive Cruise Control, Front Collision and Lane Departure Warning, plus Emergency Braking, and Speed Assist. It’s a five star safety rating for the MG ZS EV, with a high torsional strength cabin and rigidity factor. The battery has been certified independently to be fire, submersion, dust, pressure, impact, and salt spray resistant.

Our friends over at Exhaust Notes Australia attended the launch, and have provided this initial review

‘Electric for everyone’
MG Motor’s parent company, SAIC Motor, has invested heavily in electric as well as other new energy vehicle technologies, processes and battery production, making it one of only a handful of auto manufacturers to own its EV supply chain. In 2019, that expertise resulted in the production of more than 185,000 electric vehicles, making it one of the top five EV producers globally by volume. MG Motor now brings this experience to the local market, enabling it to deliver state-of-the-art EV technology at the best value and packed with features.