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Archive for December, 2021

Is it Time All Drivers Learn First Aid?

It’s a topic that rears its head every now and then, yet continually the issue has been overlooked by authorities.

We pay particular attention to the road toll, yet for some reason one of the efforts we could employ to mitigate this issue hasn’t warranted a national response. Why is first aid training not compulsory for every motorist, and should it be part of our licensing requirements?

When you put things into perspective, we spend a considerable amount of our lives driving from point A to point B. We may be lucky to escape accidents but the chances of seeing one, either take place or the result thereof, are far greater. And even though our cars have become a lot safer through technological innovation, poor driving habits and behaviours have crept into our society and created larger issues.

On that note, it’s time we also start to prepare drivers by training them to engage in reactive behaviour in the form of being a first responder. As it currently stands, the overwhelming majority of drivers and bystanders are ill equipped to administer first aid at an accident scene. In fact, in what should be viewed as a major concern, many wouldn’t even know where to begin. Even I know, that despite my former first aid training, it’s a moment you can never be entirely prepared for as shock sets in and time stands still.

Now let me clarify, bystanders and other motorists shouldn’t be expected to fill the void of professional emergency services personnel. However, in the event of an accident, every second matters. Early treatment can be the difference between life and death. And in the moments where emergency services personnel need to fight traffic to make it to the scene of an accident, those seconds are potentially ticking away.

Even in the absence of specific treatment, a bystander with composure to secure the scene, or calm the anxieties of those involved in the incident is an invaluable asset. These are specific elements to first aid training, which every motorist should be taught as part of their licensing requirements. Whereas drivers cover a gamut of issues concerning driving technique and etiquette, there is no reason why we shouldn’t all be equipped to administer first aid as a first responder in the event of an accident.

The course would be easy to include as part of our license tests, and it could also be renewed on a periodic basis along with our licenses. Several countries in Europe already adopt this approach, and if we want to keep up with the rest of the world, it’s time we start paying attention to the issues on our roads that really matter.

Coming Up 2022

Like opening a Christmas present, finding out what cars are coming to us over the next year (2022) is an exciting prospect.  Here’s just a few vehicles that pricked my ears up the most:

Genesis G80 Electric

This is Genesis’ first-ever electric vehicle, and it’s coming to Australia early 2022.  Making use of solar panels that are integrated into the roof, using recycled timber and plastic materials for its interior, the Genesis G80 Electric is a very special flagship.  Ride comfort will be nothing short of amazing, utilising a ‘Pre-view’ adaptive suspension system that feeds data from cameras at the front of the car as well as from the navigation system to pre-empt road surfaces and adjust the suspension’s ride response as necessary.  Four interior sensors and six-microphones are present in the cabin to counteract intrusive audio frequencies – serenity exemplified!

It will be dynamic to drive, light on its feet and comfortable.  The twin-motor electric powertrain delivers 272 kW of power and 700 Nm of torque through an all-wheel drive system, enabling the G80 EV to blister the 0-100km/h in just 4.9 seconds.

The car will seamlessly switch between 2WD and AWD according to demands and conditions, thus reducing unnecessary power loss and increasing efficiency.  Genesis is claiming a 500 km-plus cruising range for the luxury EV flagship on a full battery charge.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

The good-looking new Jeep Grand Cherokee will provide five and seven-seat variants. It will be powered exclusively by the familiar 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 petrol engine.  The V8 option won’t launch in Oz – a pity, maybe in the future.

The new 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee looks impressive with a range that comprises: Night Eagle, Limited, Overland, Summit and Summit Reserve trims, all of which will be available, primarily, as seven-seaters.  The Summit and Summit Reserve models will be able to be optioned with six seats rather than seven, allowing two free-standing captain’s seats that is separated by an elevated centre console.  The Night Eagle runs with a five-seater arrangement and, obviously a massive boot space.

The three higher grades also get a Quadra-Lift air suspension that can raise to 262 mm.

Mazda6

A very exciting new Mazda6 comes with a BMW-rivalling straight-six engine and rear-wheel-drive layout.  This will be Mazda’s flagship passenger car, and available in both SKYACTIV-X petrol and diesel forms.  Mazda’s new inline-six engine and eight-speed automatic transmission will be a peach, offering 48-volt mild-hybrid technology that increases power and efficiency by combining a belt-driven starter-generator and a small lithium-ion battery that’s recharged using any recovered energy.  The new mild-hybrid inline-six will produce around 260 kW.

The 2022 Mazda6 should win plenty of design awards thanks to its gorgeous, flowing lines and low-profile stance.  The Lexus IS, Genesis G70, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class will be firmly in its sight.

MG5

All-new and Thai-built, the MG5 is the next step in MG’s excellent plan.  There should be an MPV and a ute offered later as well.  Size-wise it’s similar to a Toyota Corolla, and price-wise should undercut Corolla and Kia Cerato rivals.

The MG5 will come with two body styles and be powered by an internal-combustion engine as well as an electrified powertrain.  First to arrive will be the petrol-powered liftback sedan, and there won’t be a station wagon option.

The MG5 builds onto the already widely popular MG ES SUV models.

Nissan Pathfinder

A brand new Nissan Pathfinder is coming that will offer an eight-seat option, as well as a model that comes with second-row captain’s chairs configuration.  Eight seats is something that even the top-selling Toyota Kluger cannot provide, nor the fine Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe, and new Jeep Grand Cherokee.  This, therefore, sets it up nicely with the Mazda CX-9’s second-row captain’s chair variant.  Comfort is at the essence of what is a handy off-road/come tourer, and the Pathfinder will impress with space and refinement.

It will be loaded with goodies: an all-new infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wireless smartphone charging and connectivity, a 13-speaker Bose Premium Audio system, a digital Intelligent Around View Monitor, a 9.0-inch infotainment touch-screen, a 10.8-inch digital head-up display, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

The 3.5-litre petrol V6 with 210 kW and 350 Nm matches to an all-new nine-speed automatic transmission for smooth, relaxed perogress.  The all-new Intelligent 4WD system with seven-position Drive and Terrain Mode Selector gives it an off-road edge, while drive modes will include Standard, Sport, Eco, Snow, Sand, Mud/Rut and Tow.

Its fresh exterior design with a three-slot V-motion grille, C-shaped LED headlights, a ‘floating’ roofline and slimmer LED tail-lights all looks eye-catching and spacious. A total of 11 paint colour combinations will be offered.

Subaru WRX

Finally, the new Subaru WRX is coming!

The fifth-generation Japanese sports sedan’s boasts a 2.4-litre turbo-petrol boxer engine with 202 kW, and 350 Nm of torque comes spread out over a flatter and wider torque curve.  This will be joined by the higher-output STI version in late 2022/early 2023. A six-speed manual transmission and an improved eight-speed CVT auto with transmission oil cooler and paddle shifters lead the charge.

The new WRX rides on the same Subaru Global Platform that underpins the latest Impreza, helping to congeal a solid handling package with an improved ride and nicer refinement.

The chassis is more rigid, and Subaru provides the WRX with dual-pinion electric power steering, MacPherson front and double-wishbone rear suspension with revised suspension geometry, a lower centre of gravity and electronically adaptive dampers for GT versions, making for a sweet driver’s car with significantly improved handling dynamics.

Stay Safe While Driving Home For Christmas

As I’m writing this, I’m listening to Chris Rea’s classic, “Driving Home For Christmas”. Quite a lot of us will be doing this during this holiday season – driving somewhere to celebrate, that is, not listening to Chris Rea. Whether we’re driving from one side of town to another to visit the relatives, or whether we’re taking the chance to make the most of the newly opened borders and head off on a long-awaited summer road trip, we want to have a happy summer holiday season that’s remembered for all the right reasons, rather than for a road tragedy.

If you’re planning a trip of any length during this Christmas, New Year and summer holiday season, then here’s a bunch of tips to keep in mind to make sure that things go smoothly and safely for everybody.

  1. Allow more time for your journey. During the lead-up to Christmas, the roads are super-busy. Everybody’s travelling and/or doing their Christmas shopping, and taking the kids places now that school’s out for the summer. At the same time, it always feels like the road works crews are stepping things up, trying to get scheduled maintenance tasks done before the Christmas closedown. This means that you can expect the roads to be busy and that things will take longer. Save yourself some stress and allow for the extra time, rather than ending up stressed and under time pressure, which could cause you take silly risks.
  2. Drive sober. You’d think that we shouldn’t need reminding about this, but every year, you hear about some idiot crashing thanks to having had a few too many bevvies. Yes, it’s party season and the time of year when we’re most likely to over-indulge, but the risk of driving drunk is still there. Play it safe and know your limits. Have a designated driver (take turns if needed). These days, it’s perfectly socially acceptable to not drink alcohol, and there are plenty of non-alcoholic cocktails that say “party” without getting you smashed (in both senses) – a Virgin Mary is rather seasonally appropriate, don’t you think? If you have overdone it, then don’t drive. Better to crash on a mate’s sofa than into a lamppost.
  3. Stay hydrated. It’s summer, so things get hot. This means that our bodies need more liquid. What’s more, if you have a flask of something nice and cold (and non-alcoholic, of course) then you can help yourself chill down and avoid headaches with a nice cold drink. If you’ve got a long trip planned, then try freezing a plastic bottle of water overnight then taking this with you. It will slowly melt as the hours pass, giving you a deliciously cold drink.
  4. Get yourself a good playlist. If you’re going to be stuck in the car for ages driving interstate with the kids, then a good playlist – of Christmas carols or otherwise – can help you get in the right mood and can help you stay calm. Create yourself a playlist of favourite Christmas carols then sing along with them as loud as you can with the windows down, especially if you’re stuck in road works. See how many smiles you can collect. Alternatively, if you’re fed up with twee jingly tunes, then put on your own playlist of bangers to listen to so that the annoying tune you heard in the store doesn’t stay on repeat in your brain.
  5. Keep the speed down. If you’ve allowed more time for your trip, you should be OK here. However, if you haven’t it’s better to arrive later than never. It’s also better not to add to the Christmas expenses with a speeding ticket. The cops are usually out in force at this time of year, so keep the right foot light. This especially applies if you’re driving to a less familiar area where the speed limits may not be what your instincts are telling you.
  6. Get your car summer-ready. It’s always wise to ensure that the fluids are topped up and that the windscreen is clean, and that everything else is as it should be in your car. It’s especially important to do this before a long trip if you haven’t had one for a while, which is likely to be the case in 2021 when the interstate borders have opened after having been closed for so long.
  7. If you can, avoid the more congested routes and times. Smart use of maps and timing your travel for less popular times can help avoid clogged roads and being caught in a traffic jam. Driving at night or in the early morning can also be cooler. However, make sure that you don’t try do drive when tired. And if you do get caught in a stream of traffic that’s top to toe in tail lights, then don’t stew about it but just go with the flow. You will get there eventually, as long as you get there safely.

I Like Them Big, I Like them Chunky!

Cars with the biggest boot space are always going to be the preferred vehicles for families.  Unless, of course, you’re a travelling salesman, builder, youth worker or schoolteacher, then the extra few cubes in the back are going to come in handy. What’s current out there that will prove a capable companion for taking three people (or more) in the back seats and a big load of luggage?

Tesla Model S (849 litres)

It might be surprising to see this addition on the list, but I’ll start with this one first because its topical.  Tesla’s lack of a conventional combustion engine and exhaust system works wonders for creating whopping luggage space! The electric motor in the Tesla Model S is very compact, providing the Model S with extra space to store luggage.  This Tesla has two large boot spaces where you’ll find one at the front and one at the rear.  A total of 849 litres of storage space is exceptionally fine for what is a performance EV sedan that can manage 0-100 km/h in around 3 seconds! However, buying new will set you back well north of $135k.

But now, to vehicles more conventional, and some with a buy new price that’s a whole lot cheaper than a Tesla Model S.

Peugeot 5008 (780 litres)

The snazzy new Peugeot is called the 5008, a family car that is anything but boring.  Two large infotainment screens, comfortable seats, seven-seating capacity or five, and you’ll be appreciating the talent offered by this roomy SUV.  Opt for five-seats up, and you’re left with a 780-litre boot.

Kia Sorento (660 litres)

The Kia Sorento is a class act.  It’s comfortable to drive and is also a handy tow vehicle, thanks to its punchy diesel engine and standard 4WD set-up.  Like the Peugeot above, the Sorento is eye-catching and good looking, and it also has seven seat capacity.  Drop the third row flat, and the Sorento boasts a decent 660-litre boot space that just loves to swallow suitcases and bags.

Skoda Superb Estate (660 litres)

One of my favourite vehicles on this list, the Skoda Superb Estate, has it all.  Not only is it not as bulky as an SUV, but the seats are superbly comfortable and spacious.  There is loads of practical interior space throughout the cabin.  Yes, it seats five adults in comfort and is one of the best cars with a big boot.  The big Skoda station wagon looks great and has a stylish cabin, with easy-to-use infotainment and acres of rear-seat legroom.  It’s also available with a strong range of grunty engines.

Skoda Karoq (588 litres)

Hello! Another Skoda?  The Karoq is Skoda’s mid-size crossover SUV.  It’s comfortable to drive with an excellent range of engines to choose from.  A high level of standard equipment, a nicely finished cabin and practicality is packed inside a Karoq.  Boasting VarioFlex Seats, three individual chairs that can slide, recline and be taken out entirely totally transforms the car and expands the boot space to suit.  The Karoq’s interior flexibility is unrivalled in this class of car, and you can also have it with 4WD.  The Skoda Kamiq is even bigger!

Volvo V60 (529 litres)

One of the suavest-looking station wagons in the list is the Volvo V60.  Its 529-litre boot space is the biggest you’ll find when pitched against its German rivals: the BMW 3 Series Touring, the Audi A4 Avant and the Mercedes C-Class Estate.  A beautiful modern Volvo interior with its metal, leather and wood trims, its portrait-style infotainment screen, outstanding comfort, and plenty of room for passengers deliver a fantastic package.  You also get a range of engines, which includes two powerful petrol hybrids that are quick.  If you’re looking for station wagon style along with boot capacity, then the Volvo is a winner here.

Mercedes E-Class Estate (640 litres)

With a little more room about its cabin than in the Volvo V60, the Mercedes E-Class Estate also boasts a few more cubes in its boot space.  Awesome infotainment and a range of new hybrid engines give this a drive to remember.  If you want a classy load-carrier that isn’t an SUV, then the E-Class has you covered.

Volkswagen Tiguan (615 litres)

The Tiguan’s boot offers 615 litres of luggage space when its rear seats have been slid right to the front.  This makes it a top rival to the other similar sized-and-priced Honda CR-V.  To look at, the Tiguan probably won’t win many beauty pageants, however it is a comfortable and practical choice with low running costs.

Honda CR-V (522 litres, 5-seater version)

Not the biggest boot on show here, but it boasts a practical shape and, with its comfortable cabin, the Honda CR-V is a nice small family alternative.  The engines are economical and very reliable, there are up to 7 seats, and it would be hard to find a better value large family car.  The seven-seater version hinders boot space somewhat, which drops to 497 litres with the seats up.  The CR-V packs a punch when it comes to standard safety kit.  Standard safety equipment includes lane assist, autonomous emergency braking and Isofix child seat mounting points.

SsangYong Rexton (820 litres)

Yes, there are plenty of other SUVs that have colossal boot space.  Big SUVs that include the Skoda Kodiaq (another Skoda), the BMW X5, Land Rover Discovery, Volvo XC90, BMW X7, Audi Q7, Hyundai Palasade, Land Rover Discovery, Toyota Land Cruiser, the Range Rover and even Nissan’s whopping Patrol.  If you can afford one of these, then all is well.  However, if you’re hoping for a big seven-seater SUV option, then there is the excellent SsangYong Rexton with its loads of space, excellent comfort and decent price tag that’s easily half the price of the afore mentioned alternatives.

Yes, the SsangYong Rexton is a rugged, tough and durable machine, but this big SUV is perfect for carrying large loads along with people in spacious comfort.  The Rexton boasts an impressive 820 litres of boot space with all the seats in place, and then a cavernous 1806 litres with all five rear seats lying flat.  4WD capacity makes this an adventurer, and its smooth, powerful 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine can tow up to 3500 kg without even breaking a sweat.

Citroen C5 Aircross (720 litres)

The Citroen C5 Aircross has one of the most comfortable rides. It also gets a line-up of quiet, refined engines to go with its massive boot.  With the rear seats slid forward, there’s room for 720 litres of luggage in the boot, which then drops to 580 litres when the seats are in their rearmost position.  A very deep, square shape enables the boot to easily swallow bulky items, and the electric tailgate is a nice standard feature.  In terms of practicality, the C5 Aircross represents decent value for money with loads of comfort and practicality.

Citroen Berlingo Multispace (775 litres)

Staying on the with the Citroen theme, how about a new Citroen Berlingo Multispace?  Yes, it’s a bit different and an MPV type vehicle, but the French know all about space, comfort and practicality. Even the standard-sized Citroen Berlingo Multispace versions offer 775 litres of boot space with the rear seats up, but the seven-seat XL versions offer even more with 1050 litres of space, albeit with the third row of seats folded flat.

Mercedes V-Class (1030 litres)

Alright, I have indulged in one proper van, the Mercedes V-Class, also among the largest MPVs you can possibly buy.  I suppose there are any myriad of other passenger vans (e.g., Hyundai Staria, Ford Transit, Toyota Granvia) you could buy, but I’ve selected one of the best: the new Mercedes Vito van or V-Class, and with this vehicle you really are travelling in luxury and style. The V-Class can seat up to 8 passengers, but if you remove the third row of seats you’re left with a truly colossal 1,030-litre load area.

Above is a shortlist, really.  I haven’t mentioned other worthy contenders that could just as easily be added.  Vehicles like the Subaru Outback, BMW’s 5-series Wagon, the Honda Odyssey, the Mazda 6 Wagon, the Renault Koleos, or any of the dual cab utes are also pretty-adept at managing loads and people.

So, do you know a car that should be on this list – a vehicle that I’ve blatantly missed?  We need to know about it because there are people who are after such a vehicle – one that’ll shift loads of luggage and people.  Whether you prefer a crossover, an SUV, or a station wagon, now’s the time to let us know the best modern vehicles with big boots.

I need a bigger boot!

What Tyre do I Need?

Tyres are the most crucial component to any drive.  Safety matters out there on the roads, and ensuring that you have a good set of tyres rolling beneath your car makes all the difference to aspects of driving like your stopping ability, road holding capacity and anti-aquaplaning.

What the heck is aquaplaning?  You may have experienced aquaplaning already when driving on a wet road and in the rain where puddles have formed over the road.  Hit these puddles at a reasonable speed, and the tyres can skid over the top of the puddles, causing complete loss of traction to whichever tyre is aquaplaning at the time.  Aquaplaning and sliding in the wet can and unfortunately does cause accidents.

Obviously, slowing down in the wet helps lessen the chance of having an aquaplane experience.  However, there are other aspects to the tyre which can affect how your tyres will cope with puddles and water on the road during wet driving conditions.  The condition of the tyre, the tread pattern the tyre has, and the amount of tread depth left on the tyre all decide how your tyre will cope with wet road conditions. These three components combined with how fast your car is travelling are the main players to whether or not you’ll roll through the puddle, displacing the water, or skid over the top of the puddle in much the same way as a skim board does in the shallow water at the beach.

Tyres are the only element of a car that is in contact with the ground while driving.  Choosing the right tyres can increase the entire performance of your vehicle.  Every tyre has its strengths and weaknesses.  Some tyres are long-lasting, while others offer better grip.  Some tyres are designed to be quiet and smooth while driving, while others have a tread pattern designed for better fuel consumption.  There are tyre testers out there like, Tyre Lab at www.thetyrelab.com, that single out tyres that perform best for all road conditions or for certain types of road conditions.  However, it is a fairly well-known fact that the more you invest in a tyre, the better the tyre quality will be and, consequently, the safer your driving experience.  That said, you might be surprised (or not) at which tyres are rated highly for braking, anti -aquaplaning and road holding by The Tyre Lab.

By law, in Australia the minimum tread depth for a tyre is 1.5 mm.  When it’s raining, the tread is responsible for securing contact between the tyre and the road, effectively pushing the water out from under the tyre as it rolls along.

Need new tyres?

First, find out the specifications in size and type from your car’s manufacturer, and this is the best size to go for.  You can also find out what kind of tyres you need, by looking on the side wall of your current tyres.  You will see a combination of characters which look a bit like this: 215/55R17 94H.  If your car has been mucked with, then make sure you check the manufacturer’s specs.

You will need to have an idea of how much you are going to spend at the tyre shop.  Choosing between a premium tyre and value is not always easy, or maybe it’s just too easy.  There are even budget tyres, which can be good if you aren’t into driving quickly, however, if you do go for these, they won’t have the best grip for all occasions and for emergency situations in the wet and dry.

Tyre choice really does come down to your own individual needs, the weather conditions and climate you’ll be driving in, how icy or cold the roads can get, how hot it is, and definitely how hard and fast you drive your car.

Not all tyres are the same.  So, if you buy a premium tyre that is designed with performance ability and grip for extreme hard and fast driving, but you drive like a snail, you’ll be perfectly safe in all road conditions.  If on the other hand you drive like a racing car driver, where you pass every other car in sight, and yet you are driving with budget tyres, your safety and the safety of others will be massively compromised.

There are those of us who drive within the law and try to maintain a decent speed in all road and weather conditions.  We will try and slowdown in the wet for example.  We all need to be driving safely, yet it does help to know just what sort of tyres are on the car you drive and what they are capable of out there on the road.  Just as equally-valid is knowing just what your tyres are not capable of.  There is nothing worse than losing traction or have a tyre’s integrity let go in a life threatening situation.

Every journey is dependent on the performance of your tyres and their effect on your driving.  Tyres impact on your steering, acceleration, handling, and braking. They’re also a key part of your car’s suspension and braking systems.  If you don’t have the right tyres for your car, tyres that are legal and in good shape, you’re putting yourself, your passengers and other road users at risk.

Budget tyres versus Premium tyres

Even though all tyres look pretty much the same, the difference between a budget tyre and a quality tyre is huge.  It comes down to the fact that the quality of the materials used in creating a premium tyre just can’t be replicated in a cheaply-made tyre.

Premium tyres have to meet high standards and are therefore made with more steel and specially formulated rubber and silica compounds.  These high quality tyre materials ensure that the final product is much stronger, longer-lasting, and one that offers better grip than a cheap tyre option.

Premium tyre manufacturers focus on research and development, and often they will be linked with the motorsport world where competition in tyres really matters.  Years of testing has proven that premium tyres do perform better and more consistently than a cheaper tyre alternative.

Premium tyres generally include names like: Dunlop, Michelin, Pirelli, Bridgestone, Kumho, Hankook and Continental.  Manufacturers of quality tyres will achieve higher standards than a budget or value tyre in all aspects of a tyre’s job prescription.  This will include: good grip for all driving conditions, exceptional wet and dry braking, superior handling at any speed, a higher impact damage threshold, better load-carrying capability, a longer service life (unless, of course, they are track racing tyres with a super-soft compound for ultimate grip on the track), better fuel economy, improved driving comfort; reduced noise, vibration and harshness.

We hope this was helpful.