As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

automotive design

Will we see new types of cars after COVID?

There is sufficient reason to believe that cars of the future may well incorporate new design principles in the wake of COVID-19.

At least, that’s the view according to various car manufacturers, who have begun to envisage a different future for the automobile after the disruption caused by the pandemic, as well as the impact on supply chains that are so critical for vehicle production.

 

What changes are being touted?

Vehicle design could be in for a significant overhaul it would seem…albeit perhaps not just yet. Nonetheless, what will be a key driver, at least based on early discussions with car designers thus far, is how the mindset of drivers will influence tomorrow’s generation of new cars. And amid the changes of the last year, there can be no denying that the mindset of the modern driver now has other needs that would have seemed inconsequential 12 months ago.

More specifically, however, things like anti-viral coatings could become standard on interior surfaces. This is an area that both Kia and Hyundai have identified as a potential need in the future as they work on “virus-proof” cabins through the use of self-sterilising materials. What’s more, there is even some talk that the way to achieve this could be through the possibility of using temperature and ultraviolet light to sanitise surfaces.

Will the format of the car change as we know it?

At first there was also some train of thought that social distancing behaviour could also give rise to a new breed of vehicles, which would be short-range micro electric vehicles. These would effectively act as a supplement to other forms of transit such as public transport, bicycles and walking. Rather than an all-in-one motoring solution that many brands have tried to embrace through SUVs, and more recently, crossovers, this type of vehicle would be designed more simply as functional units, without the necessary frills that we’ve come to expect in all of the latest-release cars.

However, the trend of new car buying throughout the pandemic has almost universally opposed this notion. In fact, buyers continue to flock to bigger and bigger cars, perhaps spurred on by the fact that they now want to travel longer distances and in more diverse environments. Naturally, it’s no surprise then that SUVs and dual-cab utes are dominating the market with their 4×4 capabilities, let alone spacious cabins and large cargo holds.

There is no denying that recent trends up until COVID-19 were all about shared mobility and peer-to-peer service. With that turned on its head in recent time as we stay at home and keep our distance from others, there is also likely to be some attention shift towards how the internal cabin connects all of the vehicle’s occupants. It is distinctly likely that cars will need to prioritise a more deliberate design when it comes to shared mobility, at least for the purposes of helping us uphold the momentum as far as the shared mobility trend.

 

Now a full year on from the onset of the pandemic, new observations keep leading to new possibilities. What do you see ahead?

History Made: Mercedes-Benz EQS

Mercedes-Benz has long been seen as the leader in trickle-down technology being seen in cars some years after featuring in the brand’s higher end saloons such as the S-Class. And with the release of their first all electric luxury vehicle, the EQS, this tradition is set to continue.

The EQS will offer ranges of up to 770 kilometres and will pack a powertrain of up to 385kW. A performance version is said to be in development and with up to 560kW. It will sit within the expectations of the S-Class saloon segment. The vehicles will be rear axle driven however the models fitted with the 4MATIC will have a front axle engine also.

Mercedes-EQ, EQS, V 297, 2021

Mercedes says the initial models will be the EQS 450+ with 245 kW and the EQS 580 4MATIC with 385 kW. The rated power consumption rates are quoted as 20.4-15.7 kWh/100 km, and 21.8-17.4 kWh/100 km. New technology for the batteries has them enabled with a higher energy density. Of the two batteries to be available, the larger will have a usable energy content of 107.8 kWh. Mercedes says this is around 26 percent more than the EQC, their EV SUV.

It’s tech that is bespoke for M-B, with the software having been fully developed by the company and allowing over the air updates. This keeps the management system up to date, and for the life cycle of the battery. In respect to the charging rates, the DC fast charge stations pump in 200kW( and 300km in around 15 minutes. On a home charger system the EQS charges up to 22kW with AC power. The software will also allow intelligent charging programs and battery-saving charging.

A key component of EV technology is is energy recuperation. The EQS uses a program called DAuto, which can recuperate energy from deceleration to zero without the need for the brake pedal to be utilised. Smart cruise tech employs the same mechanisms with vehicle traffic ahead of the EQS. Intelligent energy recovery is situation-optimised with the aid of ECO Assist and acts with foresight, taking into account traffic conditions or topography, among other things, and up to 290kW can be generated. The driver also can set three energy recovery levels and the coast function via paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

Mercedes-EQ, EQS, V 297, 2021

Also available as OTA or over the air will be the activation of vehicle functionalities. This includes two driving programs for younger aged drivers and for service staff. Light entertainment in the installation of games will also be available. Plus the updates will allow personal preference settings such as changing the steering angles for the rear wheel steering from the standard 4.5 degrees to the maximum 10 degrees. Planned is the activation of subscription services and testing on future programs.

Aerodynamics plays a big part in vehicle fuel efficiency and the new EQS has plenty of aero in the design. in fact, it’s currently rated as the most aerodynamic car available with a drag coefficient of 0.20cD. In conjunction with that slippery body is the reduction of wind noise at speed, improving comfort levels.

The need for aero is due to the EQS being on a new chassis architecture to provide a home for the powertrain. Mercedes-Benz calls the design language Sensual Purity, with smooth, organic, lines, a reduction in the join lines in panels, the fastback styling. The front end is a “Black Panel” look with the headlights running seamlessly into the grille panel which can be optioned with a 3D star pattern to complement the three-pointed Mercedes star.

Embedded throughout the EQS is a network of sensors, up to 350 of them, depending on specification. Amongst the types of information recorded are distance travelled, ambient lighting conditions, acceleration rates and speeds achieved. AI then utilises these datasets to adjust the car on the fly. This includes monitoring the battery charge levels in respect to the distance required to see the next charging point thanks to the onboard Navigation with Electric Intelligence.

Mercedes-EQ, EQS 580 4MATIC, Interieur, Nevagrau/ Iridescentblau, AMG-Line, Edition 1; MBUX Hyperscreen; ( Stromverbrauch kombiniert: 20,0-16,9 kWh/100 km; CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 0 g/km) // Mercedes-EQ, EQS 580 4MATIC, Interior, neva gray/ iridescent blue, AMG-Line, Edition 1; MBUX Hyperscreen ; (combined electrical consumption: 20.0-16.9 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 0 g/km)

Being a class-setting EV, the EQS packs in some high-end green technology for the passengers. An example is the HEPA filter than can be set to fully clean the air inside the cabin before passengers enter with the onboard data system, MBUX, able to display particulate levels inside and out. Recycled materials are used in areas such as the carpets. The manufacturing process is fully carbon-offset as well.

The MBUX Hyperscreen is the absolute highlight in the interior. This large, curved screen unit sweeps almost from A-pillar to A-pillar. Three screens sit under a cover glass and appear to merge into one. The 12.3-inch OLED display for the front passenger gives him or her their own display and control area. The entertainment functions are only available there while the car is being driven in accordance with the country-specific legal regulations. Mercedes-EQ relies on an intelligent, camera-based locking logic: if the camera detects that the driver is looking at the front passenger display, it is automatically dimmed.

As part of its Ambition 2039 initiative, Mercedes-Benz is working on offering a carbon-neutral new car fleet within 20 years from now. By as early as 2030, the company wants more than half the cars it sells to feature electric drive systems – this includes fully electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. In many areas, Mercedes is already thinking about tomorrow today: the new EQS is designed to be correspondingly sustainable. The vehicles are produced in a carbon-neutral manner, and resource-saving materials such as carpets made from recycled yarn are used. This is because Mercedes-Benz considers the entire value chain, from development and the supplier network to its own production. Mercedes-Benz AG has had its climate protection targets confirmed by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI).

Mercedes-EQ, EQS, V 297, 2021

2021 Hyundai Kona N-Line Premium: Private Fleet Car Review.

City SUV. It’s another terminology slowly yet inexorably making its way into the automotive language. In 2019 Hyundai unveiled the Kona, a slightly oddly styled machine and, at just over four metres in total length, ideal for city-based driving.Early 2021 and a mild facelift has given the range fresh looks without diminishing its funky appeal. Hyundai also added the N-Line variants, the upper end and luxury trimmed versions.

The N-Line Premium review vehicle kindly supplied by Hyundai Australia is priced at around $46,340 on a drive-away price point. That’s a big ask for something that covers less real estate than a Corolla or i30, however there is plenty on board to balance the books.Power is courtesy of the company’s familiar and proven 1.6L turbo four. 144kW and 265Nm of torque drive a seven speed dry dual-clutch auto driving the front wheels.

Unusual here is a centre differential which can be electronically locked for all-wheel drive. It’s a feature that had real benefit during its time with us as it coincided with the big wet that hit the south-eastern corner of Australia in mid-March.The exterior sees mild but noticeable changes to the front and rear in comparison to the standard Kona, with a more pronounced curve to the bonnet’s leading edge, three faux inlets, a broad grille in black chrome, and a pair of triple-lensed LED headlights.

A diffuser style insert for the rear adds a sporting finish and retains the lower set indicators. Wheels are 18 inch multi-spoke dark grey painted and machined alloys, wrapped in Continental Premium Contact6 rubber. They’re a truly distinctive design and accentuated the flame red painted exterior with black body panels perfectly.Inside, passengers sit on cloth seats with leather bolstering. The front seats are heated AND vented, something more companies should offer. The rear seats are also heated in the bolsters, a handy touch, and welcomed in that same cool period. No, the tiller isn’t overlooked for heating either and does so quite quickly.The driver faces a full colour 10.25 inch LCD widescreen that changes the look of the dials depending on drive mode. There is Sport, Smart, Eco, and Normal, chosen via a centre console jog dial to the front and right of the standard looking drive lever.Above the driver’s display is a colour Head Up Display, and there’s a sense of real 3D depth here, not normally seen in a HUD. It’s super crisp and clear, and by 3D we mean that literally. Image three levels of information, one above the other, and each seems closer or farther away than the one above or below it. For the rearward look, a crystal clear reverse camera and screen comination add plenty of safety.Sounds, driver controls, and extra info is found inside the 10.25 inch touchscreen for N-Line Premium. DAB audio, Bluetooth streaming, Android and Apple compatibility are all standard. Sounds are from a Harman Kardon eight speaker system. Below the screen and ahead of the drive lever is a nook for the smartphone charge-pad. Alloy pedals are standard.Head and leg room up front will suit most drivers that opt for the city SUV. Rear leg room isn’t quite as accommodating with Hyundai quoting 893mm. Like most vehicles of its size, it’s ostensibly a five seater but with 1,326mm hip room, it’s best for two or two baby capsules/toddler seats. cargo space is average-ish at 374L to 1,154L. A cargo net is standard with the N-Line Premium.

Safety comes from front, side (thorax), and curtain airbags. Notable is the omission of either a driver’s knee or a centre console airbag, with the latter slowly growing in popularity with manufacturers. The full SmartSense package is available as standard on all but the entry Kona and second level Active. They miss out on Blind Spot Collision Avoidance, Rear Cross Traffic Avoidance, and Safe Exit Warning. The Elite joins them with no front park sensors, and entry level Kona dips out on reverse sensors.Otherwise it features Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with Cyclist and Pedestrian Detection, and uses radar and camera sensing. Lane Following Assist, Lane Keeping Assist – Line/Road-edge (LKA-L/R in Hyundai speak), and Smart Cruise Control with Stop/Go Function are standard.

On road the Kona N-Line Premium displays the good and not-so good of a small turbocharged petrol engine with a DCT. The dry dual-clutch autos have time gaps in engaging drive; from Park to Drive or Reverse, from Drive to Reverse and vice versa, and from a stand-still. Combined with a turbo that needs time to spin up and provide boost to an engine, getting going is rarely a thought instant move. Then there’s the economy. It’s rated around town at 8.2L/100km, 6.9L/100km on the combined. We saw a final average of 7.9L/100km.

Once underway and the turbo is spinning, the N-Line Premium is a delight to drive. It’s a rocketship in overtaking, a rocketship in the sense that speed builds upon itself. It’s a process where acceleration grows in a linear manner, a prime example of the metres per second per second we learned of at high school. Engaging the centre lock diff, as needed during the torrential rain at the time, enhances grip levels and added that seat of the pants feeling that the extra grip made movement quicker.Dry grip levels, such as we had the chance to experience thanks to Mother Nature, is prodigious. Continental PremiumContact 6 is the rubber of choice, and the 235/45 tyres on the 18 inch alloys have some tenacious hold on tarmac. They’re pretty good at pumping out water too, and brought a lot of confidence to the handling abilities of the pert Kona.

Ride is firm, with a bent towards the sporting style as befits the performance of the turbo engine. MacPherson struts and a multi-link underpin the Premium and the Konas with the 1.6L turbo. Exhaustive Australian testing has the setup tuned for our varying roads and surfaces, and it shows. It’s pliant enough for the comfort people expect, hard enough to quickly damp out intrusions, and responsive enough in cornering and lane changing to delight the demanding driver. Body roll is invisible, and that brings extra confidence to the drive.The same is said of the brakes. They’re almost breath-on for response, and at 305mm x 20mm and 284mm x 10mm there is plenty of swept area for the pads to grab the discs and haul down the Kona’s 1,900kg (with fuel and passengers) mass.

Warranty is Hyundai’s standard five years and unlimited kilometres. A prepaid servicing plan is available, and you can lodge an inquiry with Hyundai as well as inquire as to their standard servicing costs.

At The End Of The Drive. The Kona sits in the same class as the Venue and its Kia siblings, Seltos and Stonic. The Venue is a willing performer and we grew to truly appreciate its charm. the Seltos has a different drive package and is perhaps closer to the Kona range in specification. The Kona N-Line Premium does ask a lot in regards to the price however its perky engine, solid equipment and safety list, and yes, the economy given its driveline, balance the ledger nicely.

Car courtesy of Hyundai Australia.

 

 

GMSV Releases Corvette Pricing & Addition To Silverado.

GMSV has today (March 30, 2021) released details of an addition to the Silverado range, plus confirms pricing for the Corvette.

The Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss will come with a recommended retail price of $106,990. Drive is courtesy of a 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 and ten speed auto, and offers a towing capacity of 4.5 tonnes. GMSV’s Director, Jo Stogiannis, says the Trail Boss is intended to be the off-road warrior of the range. “LT Trail Boss personifies what Silverado is all about. It’s big, it’s tough and it comes ingrained with brand-DNA which showcases qualities of strength, power, performance and no-nonsense work-hard attributes.”

A factory fitted suspension lift kit raises the LT Trail Boss by 25mm at the front, and 30mm for the rear, providing extra off-road clearance and peace of mind. Ride quality and handling is enhanced thanks to Rancho monotube shock absorbers, and extra grip comes from a mechanical rear locking diff. Style and practicality see the 18 inch black painted alloys contrast and complement the black front and rear bumpers.Although intended to be the off-road Silverado of choice, there is no skimping on safety or comfort. Both front seats are heated, feature ten way power adjustment, and the steering wheel is heated also. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard. Front and Rear Park Assist will ensure easier parking, and safety on tarmac has Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert to look after all aboard.

To ensure off-roading enjoyment is enhanced, Hill Descent Control is standard, plus a heavy-duty air filter provides clean air for the V8, and underneath, there are all-terrain skid plates to provide extra protection.

Orders for the LT Silverado Trail Boss are being taken now, with deliveries scheduled for mid-2021.

GMSV also confirmed pricing details for the hotly anticipated Corvette. There will be five models available initially, all with high specifications. Both coupe and convertible body types will be available, with the 2LT and 3LT trim levels plus a special Carbon Edition package. Motorvation is courtesy of a 6.2L V8 producing 370kW and 637Nm with drive to the rear wheels via an eight speed dual-clutch auto.

The recommended retail pricing structure starts with the 2LT coupe from $144,990, and the convertible from $159,990. The 3LT coupe starts from $160,500, whilst the convertible starts from $175,500. Pricing for the Carbon edition is yet to be confirmed. This will be built on the 3LT Coupe body, and will feature premium wheels, a premium brake caliper package, a hand-picked interior trim, plus a build plate and owners’ pack.

Australian specification Corvettes will be built with higher equipment levels to enhance the appeal. Known as the Z51 Performance Package with Front Lift, Ms Stogiannis says: “Overwhelming feedback is that our intended customers are performance enthusiasts, they want to have the ability to experience the C8 Corvette to its fullest potential.” The package is an option in the Corvette’s home country.Front Lift raises the nose of the Corvette to minimise potential contact damage on kerbs, and it’s a simple button push to do so. Included in the Z51 package is the Magnetic Selective Ride Control system, with millimetre precision thanks to a real-time damping system that reacts in a millisecond to the changes in road surfaces. Sounds come from a dual mode exhaust, stopping is thanks to Brembo, and rear grip is enhanced via an E-LSD. The body will have a front splitter and a rear spoiler. Engine longevity is increased via extra cooling .

All versions will have a full colour Head Up Display, and passengers will enjoy a 14 speaker Bose premium sound system.

The cars are factory right hand drive, the first to come to Australia in its history. Bowling Green in Kentucky is the factory’s location, and they’ll roll off the line in late 2021, with some deliveries currently scheduled in the same period, with the rest in early 2022.

Of the car, Ms Stogiannis said: “Corvette is an iconic car and there is a massive groundswell of interest and anticipation building ahead of its local launch. We have every expectation it will more than live up to its legendary status.”

(Information courtesy GMSV).

 

Haval H6 Update Is Value Added

Haval continues to push for a bigger slice of the SUV pie, and with the H6 due for an April on-sale date, buyers will be able to to sample an extensive standard equipment list inside a facelifted vehicle.

2021 Haval H6

Pricing starts from a competitive $30,990 drive-away for the H6 Premium model. Power is courtesy of a 2.0L turbo petrol engine and drive is via a seven speed dual-clutch auto. This is the entry level model of a range of three, with Lux and Ultra adding in more value.

Premium packs in: 18 inch alloy wheels and Tyre Pressure Monitoring, with LED headlights and DRLs showing the way. Inside is a pair of 10.25 inch screens with the centre screen featuring Android and Apple apps. Safety sees AEB with cyclist and pedestrian detection, seven airbags including centre console airbag, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist backed up by Traffic Sign Recognition. Lane Change Assist and Blind Spot Monitoring, plus Driver Fatigue Monitoring round out the stand equipment list for the Premium.

Lux specifications see even more, with roof rails on top, LED fog lamps up front, and extra comfort inside. There’s leather on the steering wheel, and the seats are clad in eco-leather. The driver has a six way powered seat including lumbar adjustment. Dual zone climate control provides the airflow, and sounds are via a DTS compatible eight speaker audio system. Rear vision is improved through an anti-glare mirror and a 360 degree camera system. Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop/Go functionality pairs with Intelligent Cruise Control and Traffic Jam Assist.

2021 Haval H6

Haval H6 Ultra is available in both 2WD and AWD. Extra features see 19 inch alloys, a panoramic sunroof, and a powered tailgate. The centre touchscreen goes up to 12.3 inches in size, a heated steering wheel provides comfort on cold days as do heated and vented front seats, and extra info for the driver is via a full colour Head Up Display. A wireless charge pad and four way powered passenger seat add convenience. Rear Cross Traffic Alert with automatic braking, and an automatic parking system feature as standard in the Ultra. Drive is engaged via a rotary dial, not unlike that seen in the Haval’s Korean competition.

Sizewise it sits between the medium and large medium classes. The overall length is 4,653mm, and has a wheelbase of 2,758mm. It’s broad at 1,886mm and weights, thanks to a reduction scheme, just 1,550kg (dry). The overall size has it above RAV4, Hyundai Tucson, and Mazda CX-5.

Styling changes see a sleeker presence up front, with slimline headlights, a bluff looking frontal treatment, and integrated intakes at the front bumper extremes. The window line appears to have a slightly reduced glasshouse, and a strong presence line joins the fenders to the reprofiled tail lights. The overall style evokes hints of Range Rover and Land Rover Discovery.

Set up a test drive via your Haval dealer here.

2021 Haval H6

Hydrogen Fuel Is The Nexo Step.

Hyundai Australia has unveiled their Nexo vehicle. Powered solely by hydrogen, it’s set to be a game-changer if the right infrastructure is put in place. For now, a fleet of twenty will roam the streets of Canberra during a trial phase.Nexo is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, rated at 95kW, coupled to an electric motor. It generates 120kW and 395Nm, and has a theoretical range of over 660 kilometres. Here’s how it works, says Hyundai.

Hydrogen gas is stored in high-pressure tanks and is sent from these to the fuel cells. It mixes with oxygen taken straight from the atmosphere and reacts across a “catalyst membrane” and creates electricity for the engine and battery, and water as the sole by-product. Excess power is stored in the battery system. Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles, or FCEVs, can be refilled in virtually the same time as a petrol fuel tank.

“The arrival of NEXO on Australian roads as an ADR-approved production vehicle is a landmark in Hyundai’s ongoing commitment to green mobility and to hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle technology.” Hyundai Motor Company CEO, Jun Heo said. The hydrogen NEXO SUV is a cornerstone in the Hyundai portfolio, complementing our hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles the IONIQ and Kona Electric. NEXO is also a sign of things to come, as Hyundai continues in its long-term drive towards leadership in eco-friendly vehicles.”

It’s a one specification vehicle for the moment, and comes well equipped in that sense. A main 12.3 inch satnav equipped touchscreen is the centre of the appeal, complete with Android and Apple smartphone compatibility. The driver has a 7.0 inch info screen, and a Qi wireless smartphone charger is standard.

Seats are leather appointed, and passengers see the sky via a full length glass roof. Sounds are courtesy of Krell. Nexo rolls on 19 inch alloys, and sees its way thanks to LED headlights and daytime running lights. A Surround View Monitor, Remote Engine Start, Remote Smart parking Assist, and a powered tailgate add extra convenience. Comfort comes courtesy of a dual-zone climate control system, powered front seats, heating for the steering wheel and outboard sections of the rear seats.

SmartSense is the name Hyundai give their safety system package and the Nexo will have Forward Collision Avoidance, Driver Attention warning, and the Blind Spot Collision Avoidance is radar based. Lane Keep Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Avoidance Assist and Smart Cruise with Stop/Go functionality are also standard.

Exterior colour choices are limited. White Cream Mica, and a Dusk Blue Metallic will come with Stone Grey two-tone interior, whilst Cocoon Silver and Copper Metallic are paired with a Dark Blue interior.

The main hydrogen system is built around three storage tanks with a capacity of 156 litres. Up to 6.33 kilograms of hydrogen can be held at a pressure of 700 bar. The testing of the tanks has included structural integrity for collision impacts. The battery is a lithium-ion polymer unit, rated as 240V and 1.56kWh. It also assists in running the onboard 12V systems.

The battery itself effectively comprises most of the floor, making for better cabin packaging and a low centre of gravity. The system is also rated for cold start operation at temperatures down to -29 Celcius. It will start within 30 seconds.

In keeping with its green credentials, structural components include aluminium for the bumper beam, front knuckles, rear wheel carriers and front lower control arms. Lower kerb weight assists in the vehicle’s handling, ride, and reduces cabin noise input. The front fenders are lightweight and flexible plastic.

Hyundai Nexo refill

Bio-based materials also up the green, with up to 12.0 kilograms of CO2 being reduced as a by-product of the manufacturing process. Total weight of bio-product is 34 kilos and this is found in the carpet, headliner, trim material, door trims, and the seats and console. Bio-paints derived from corn and sugarcane waste material are also used.

Strength and safety comes from high tensile steel, making the monocoque body both rigid and torsionally strong, with over 56% of the Nexo’s bodywork made from the high strength steel/ This extends to the tank sub-frame and tested in rear collision simulations.

Hidden details such as air guides underneath and air deflectors aid aero efficiency. Hidden wipers, a Hyundai first, are fitted at front and rear, and with slimline retracting door handles the Nexo has a drag coefficient of just 0.32cD.Chassis development was carried out in Australia, Tim Rodgers, the Hyundai Motor Company Australia Product Planning and Development Specialist, said. “The platform was designed to address this challenge, with an extensive use of lightweight parts for the strut front and multi-link rear suspensions, such as aluminium knuckles and lower control arms. By reducing unsprung mass there is less energy that we have to manage through the damper and the spring, so we can use a slightly different valve characteristic and achieve the results we require.

We’ve come out of the R&D process with a refined suspension that matches quite nicely with acoustic levels in the cabin. Beyond achieving this, the tuning program targeted the normal ride and handling benchmarks, to give NEXO the same style of body control we tune into all our cars, and the same level of competency Australia’s notoriously challenging back roads.”

Not yet available for private sale, it can be leased. Hyundai have a specialist Aftersales team in place to deal with inquiries, and they can be reached through a Hyundai dealership in the first instance.

2021 Mitsubishi Outlander GSR PHEV: Private Fleet Car Review

Hybrid technology has fast become part of the automotive landscape. First seen in Toyota’s Prius, it hasn’t taken long to trickle down into mainstream passenger cars and SUVs. However, a new form of hybrid tech, the plug-in hybrid version, has taken more time. A front-runner for SUV PHEVs has been Mitsubishi with their Outlander.The Range: In 2021 they offer three; the ES, GSR, and Exceed. We spent a week with the sporting tuned (by Bilstein, no less) GSR Hybrid. It’s priced at $56,490 drive-away, and has a pair of electric motors for front and rear wheel drive simultaneously via a single ratio transmission. Main power is from the standard 2.4L petrol engine with 94kW and 199Nm. That’s on 91RON unleaded.The electric motors offer 60kW (front) and 70kW (rear), and are charged via one of two ports on the rear right quarter. The petrol tank is good for 45L and the economy is rated as 1.9L/100km on 91RON unleaded. Although Mitsubishi’s system constantly updates as you drive, in the Hybrid there are sub-menus to check charge rates, battery usage, and fuel over given times.

Our final figure would be somewhere around the 5.5L/100km mark if we read the graph correctly. That’s on our usual 70/30 urban to highway runs.The battery is rated at 12kWh and has an on-board charger rate of 3.7kW. using a standard home system it’s somewhere between 6.5 to 7 hours to “fill”. The plugs are Type 1 and CHAdeMO. Drive is engaged via a simple lever with an electronic Park function. There is also an adjustable Brake mode to recover more kinetic energy if possible. This works best on longer downhill runs.

At full charge, the PHEV offers up 55 to 55 kilometres as an estimated electric only range. For Australia, a range of 100 kilometres would be better. As an example, from the lower reaches of the Blue Mountains to Sydney is something between 70 to 80 kilometres…A charge gauge in the driver’s display shows how much is being harvested, as does a dial in the main touchscreen sub-menu. When running low, a button on the left side of the console next to the drive lever offers save or charge. This engages the petrol engine and makes it a generator for the batteries.Drive to each corner is via a single speed transmission, with drive modes such as Sport, Snow, Mud, plus battery save and charge modes. Stability on road comes from Mitsubishi’s much vaunted S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control) and Active Yaw Control. Sport lifts the overall performance and adds some serious extra squirt to the already rapid acceleration.

The GSR nameplate, once synonymous with the Lancer, adorns the powered tailgate. The current body shape is due for a hefty facelift (pictures at end) and release later in 2021 with a heavily reworked nose, and squared off rear with bumper lines lifted from the Pajero Sport.

As it stands there are the integrated eyebrow running lights in the headlights, wrapped in the chrome strips that boomerang forward then back towards the wheelarches. The current profile is largely uncharged for some years, with a sloped rear window line and broad spanning rear lights.The Drive: Bilstein provide the shock absorbers for the MacPherson strut and coil front, multi-link and stabiliser bar rear. 225/55/18 wheels and tyres from Toyo unpin the body. They offer decent grip, but even with the dual axle drive there was some minor slippage on damp roads.

We say damp as we drove it during the “rain bomb” that hit most of Australia’s southern eastern coast. When driven during the not-so-heavy patches, and on roads that had drained most of the surface water away, driving confidence was high. It was on corners and downhill runs when more circumspect driving was required.

What was noticeable was the fantastic tune of the suspension and the damping of the Bilsteins.Although the ride could be described as hard, given the GSR nomenclature, it was on the side of comfort with swift response smoothing out freeway dips and rises without feeling as if it jolted at each end of the travel. Smaller bumps jarred but again only for a moment as the Bilsteins disappeared those impacts rapidly.

Freeway driving had the rapid response telling the driver each square inch of road surface quality without any loss of comfort.

However, one one somewhat soggy and rutted gravel-style track, we heard uncharacteristic groans from the front strut tower caps. The suspension felt as if the stiffness of the setup was overwhelming the caps. As a result, speed had to be dropped to essentially a crawl in order to feel that travel was safe and not damaging the towers.

The Interior: Inside it’s water-resistant micro-suede cloth seat and leather bolsters. They’re as supportive as they come, and electrically powered for the driver. They’re heated up front too, unusual but welcomed for cloth pews and they’re quick to generate heat. There is only heating, though, and the switches are rocker for low or high.

The 8.0 inch touchscreen houses plenty of information and for the PHEV there are sub-menus aplenty to access information on how the hybrid system is working. There is also a punchy eight speaker audio system with DAB plus Bluetooth streaming and the smartphone apps. The interior however does show its age with no smartphone charge pad, an item sure to be included with the update…we hope.

Dashboard design for the Outlander is classic Mitsubishi; open and broad, well spaced for buttons, soft touch materials, and an organic flowing design. The steering feel feels on the large side compared to other marques however turn to turn lock is made easier in context. Head, leg and shoulder room for the five seater is huge with 1,030mm and 1,039mm head and leg up front.It’s a five seater due to the battery’s location and wiring for the charge port. Second row passengers have a pair of USB charge ports, and there is one plus a 12V up front. Cup and bottle holders number four apiece in total.

The powered tailgate is light and seems to prefer being opened by hand however the gentle push of the drop button does the trick in closing it. Folod the second row seats and 1,602L of capacity is available to you. There is also a 12V socket in the rear along with cup holders for seven seat non-hybrid Outlanders. Two underfloor nooks offer some small extra space and hold the charge cable and jack equipment.The Safety: Adaptive Cruise Control with sensor distance changing holds hands with the Forward Collision Mitigation system. This has pedestrian detection but not cyclist. This means the organic safety component needs to be scouting forward. Lane Departure and Blind Spot Warning systems are in place.

Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are also standard. Auto functions for high beam and wipers are standard, as is a rear view camera. Sensors front and rear are standard. Seven airbags include a driver’s kneebag.

The Rest: Warranty for the battery is eight years or 160,000km. Warranty details can be found here. Capped price servicing varies between the PHEV and non-hybrids. More on the 15,000k or 12 monthly service can be found here.

At The End Of The Drive. We have driven a few Outlander PHEVs over the last three to four years.

Our first run was in late 2017, and it was given a solid workout. Driven from the eastern fringes of the Blue Mountains to the central western town of Temora, a historic R.A.A.F base and now a museum, the Outlander PHEV showcased how these sorts of hybrid vehicles work nicely. It’s noticeable that in real terms only minor changes have been made since outside and in.

With a new Outlander on the way, buyers of the current model won’t be disappointed. As a range, it offers good pricing, good performance, and good value. Comfort in the GSR is high and the only niggles were the out of the ordinary complaints from the front end.

As a driver’s car, it meets that goal, and as a package for showcasing hybrid tech, it does an admirable job. Check out the 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV range here.

Vehicle courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors Australia.

Ammonia as a Fuel for Cars

Who would have thought that liquid ammonia might just be that untapped energy source the world needs.  All the flimflam around carbon emissions, EVs and hydrogen powered cars pales substantially when you start to grasp how ammonia could well become the biggest driving force for global transportation, given the right technology.  All it would take is more clean, green electricity via solar and wind energy and, hey presto, the ability to make more liquid ammonia becomes way easier, less costly and environmentally friendlier.  But let’s not stop there; let’s match that new ammonia production methodology with perfected ammonia combustion technology, and we have ourselves a green ammonia-fuelled vehicle.

Ammonia has been around for well over a hundred years and has many uses.  The current dated process of making ammonia isn’t green.  Combining nitrogen molecules that come from the air with hydrogen molecules that come from natural gas and coal creates huge amounts of greenhouse gases.  So to make ammonia the green way has taken scientists to perfect the art of taking hydrogen from water and separating it from oxygen atoms using electricity.

Australia is the place to be for producing liquid ammonia the green way.  There is so much practical solar energy available here in Australia for getting electricity from an array of solar panels which feed into the liquid ammonia production plant.  Wind energy can equally be harnessed and fed into the production plant.

When this clean electricity gets to the production plant, electro chemical cells use electricity and catalysts to make components of air and water into ammonia.  All of this process is clean and is performed without fossil fuels and the extreme heat that is required by older methods of ammonia production.

The older ammonia production plants are also costly to run and produce carbon dioxide emissions.  Australia could easily be a world leader in producing cleanly made liquid ammonia via solar and wind energy

Research for perfected ammonia combustion technology for vehicle engines is ongoing and could well be all we’re waiting for.  Ammonia (NH3) is made up of 3 hydrogen atoms bonded to a single nitrogen atom; it can serve as a low-carbon fuel, where the only emissions after ammonia combustion would be that of nitrogen and water.

An ammonia-fuelled vehicle would operate in much the same way as our conventional combustion motor designed for running on fossil fuels.  The liquid ammonia is burned with oxygen to create energy.  Unlike conventional gasoline vehicles, ammonia-powered vehicles would not emit CO2.  Here is a win-win scenario that it would seem necessary to mandate.

In a hydrogen-powered car, a hydrogen fuel cell powers the vehicles’ on board electric motor, only giving off heat and water vapour as a result.  Likewise, an ammonia fuel cell gives off heat, nitrogen and water vapour.

Researchers in spark-ignition systems are continuing to perfect ammonia combustion technology.  The main hurdle that needs to be overcome in an ammonia-fuelled combustion engine is that when ammonia is combusted, the combustion produces a flame with a relatively low propagation speed.  This low combustion rate of ammonia causes the combustion to be inconsistent under low engine load and/or high engine speed operating conditions.  Scientists are also investigating the possibility for ammonia to be used in fuel cells as a cheap, clean and powerful energy source for vehicles.  Researchers have succeeded in developing a new catalyst that burns ammonia (NH3) at a low temperature.

Australia could create solar- and wind-powered ammonia production plants which could then be the tap sources for liquid ammonia.  The Australian grown ammonia could be used locally to power large vehicle fleets as well as for exporting around the world for overseas use.  This is all very exciting stuff and will be something I’ll continue to follow as information and details become available.

The 308 To Peugeot: Update Time For 2022.

Peugeot continues its rollout of updates to their range. With the facelifted 2008 available, and 5008 not far away, it’s time for their mainstay hatchback, the 308, to get the magic wand. There’s one key feature to the change, says Peugeot, and that’s to the body styling.

2022 Peugeot 308

The wheelbase has been in creased by 55mm, overall length up by 110mm, and height dropped by 20mm, making for a sportier profile. The A-pillar has moved rearwards and is raked more in comparison compared to the previous model. The nose is the new corporate look, complete with the mildly refreshed lion badge. Peugeot will offer seven colours: Olivine Green, Vertigo Blue, Elixir Red, Pearl White, Ice White, Artense Grey, and Perla Nera Black.

The wheelarches sit inside fenders with defined squarish lines, and the rear window line flows stylishly down from the roof into the triple-claw LED powered rear lights. Up front are the vertically themed LED driving lights paired to new LED main lights and strakes on the outer edges of the bumper. Exterior changes have the aero drag down to 0.28cD.

2022 Peugeot 308

Changes too for the interior, with a futuristic and hard edged style change, along with a more tactile-inclined steering wheel. Changes to the safety package see sensors in the wheel measure hand and finger pressure. This works with the step-up in the semi-autonomous driving level, with Peugeot’s Drive Assist 2.0 (where fitted) which has three new features for the Lane Keep Assist. There are: Semi-automatic lane change, suggests that the driver overtake the vehicle in front and then suggests moving back, from 70 km/h to 180 km/h; Anticipated speed recommendation, the system suggests to the driver that he adapt his speed (acceleration or deceleration) according to the speed limit signs; and Curve speed adaptation, optimises speed according to the curve of the bend, up to 180 km/h.

2022 Peugeot 308

Blind spot monitoring reaches up to 75 metres behind the 2021 308, with a higher definition rear camera providing up to 180 degrees of rear vision. This integrates into the four camera, 360 degree camera parking assist system. For colder climes there are a heated steering wheel and defrostable windshield. Peugeot include their E-call+” emergency call with passenger number information and location including the direction of the vehicle in the lane.

The boot has up to 28L of underfloor space complementing the standard 412 litres. Fold the rears eats and that increases to 1323 litres. Convenience goes up with teh addition of (model dependent) two USB-C data transfer and charge ports. Phone mirroring is wireless and the new 10.25 inch touchscreen, sitting above a silver coloured and angular centre console, part of the driver oriented cockpit, is more tablet oriented in look and usage. It’s a multi-window capable device, and has features such as a home screen tab and widget functionality.

Sounds come from France’s famed Focal audio group and in selected models listeners will have the Premium Hi-Fi system. There are 10 speakers with 4 aluminium inverted dome TNF tweeters, 4 woofers/mediums with Polyglass membrane and 165mm TMD (Tuned Mass Damper) suspension, plus a central Polyglass unit along with a triple coil subwoofer. Power is rated at 590W from a Class-D 12 channel amplifier, with ARKAMYS sound processing.

2022 Peugeot 308

To be confirmed for Australia will be a choice of petrol, diesel, and hybrid powered drivetrains. Three petrol engines with differing outputs matched to manual and autos, a pair of diesels with a manual or auto, and two hybrids.

Peugeot lists these as: HYBRID 225 e-EAT8, with 2-wheel drive, with a 132kW PureTech petrol engine and an 81kW electric engine attached to the e-EAT8 gearbox. Emissions are rated as 26 g of C02 per km and up to 59 km of 100% electric range (according to the WLTP protocol, in the process of being approved). The other is HYBRID 180 e-EAT8, 2-wheel drive, combination of a 110kW PureTech engine and an 81kW electric engine attached to the e-EAT8 gearbox. Emissions and range are virtually identical at 25g/100km and up to 60 km of 100% electric range (according to WLTP protocol, in the process of being approved).

Capacity for the lithium ion battery is 12.4kWh, with up to 102kW of power. Charging is said to be either a standard 3.7kW single phase charger or an optional 7.4kW single phase charger.

Final model specifications for the Australian market are yet to be confirmed, as is the release date. However, it’s currently expected to be in early 2022.

2022 Peugeot 308

Ford Transit 12 Seater Bus: An Icon Returns.

Ford Australia has added the 12-seater Ford Transit Bus to the popular Transit line-up. The 410L RWD 12 Seat Bus comes with a 2.0.L EcoBlue diesel with 125kW of power and 390Nm of torque from 1,600-2,300 rpm, driving a ten speed auto and starts from $63,690 (Manufacturer’s Recommended List Price). Options include High Roof with Overhead Stowage Shelves is $2,500, Prestige Paint is $650 and Satellite Navigation with TMC & Enhanced Voice Control is $600.The engine is EURO 6.2 compliant and standard across the range. It features high-pressure direct fuel injection, an advanced aluminium cylinder head, a high-performance variable geometry turbo plus auto stop-start for maximum fuel efficiency and lower running costs. Service intervals are 30,000km or 12 months.

The Ford Transit Bus along with all Transit vehicles, comes with AEB with Pedestrian Detection as standard. There is also Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Rear-Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keeping Aid and Lane Departure Warning with Driver Alert, plus Traffic Sign Recognition. There is also Automatic High-beam, Automatic headlamps, Automatic front windscreen wipers and a heated windscreen. Front and rear park sensors and a rear camera round out the safety package.

A programmable MyKey and FordPass Connect provide a range of services, along with smartphone access, including remote start and stop, allowing drivers to start their vehicle’s engine with a tap of their smartphone in order to heat or cool the cabin before driving. Info and technology are accessed via the 8.0 inch touchscreen which operates Ford’s latest SYNC 3 infotainment system with Apple and Android apps as standard and optional voice activated satnav. It also gives access to FordPass Connect, which offers convenient ‘connected car’ technology, pairing with the available FordPass App to simplify customers’ ownership experience and unlock a range of new services including Remote Start and Stop, Remote Lock and Unlock, Live Traffic Updates, Location Services, Vehicle Status and Health Alerts.

Access to the interior for the nine passenger capacity Transit Bus is via a powered left side door. It’s key fob operated or via a dashboard switch. Opt for the high roof version and there is extra storage and LED lighting.

Andrew Birkic, President and CEO, Ford Australia and New Zealand, says: “We know our customers have always loved the Transit Bus, but there’s been a strong demand for it to come with an automatic transmission. We can now deliver on that wish and help groups of Aussies travel in comfort and style, whether that be sports teams off to their big game, a shuttle to the airport, or colleagues heading to a conference.”

Along with the five-year, unlimited kilometre full factory warranty, the Transit Bus is eligible for the Ford Service Benefits program at participating Ford dealerships, which means for items listed in an A or B standard logbook service for the first 4 years or up to 120,000km, whichever comes first, the most you will pay is $399 (incl GST).

Further adding to the ownership experience, Ford Service Benefits also bring Transit Bus owners Auto Club Membership including Roadside Assistance as well as a Service Loan Car and sat-nav mapping updates where available.