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Mercedes-AMG says GT Up!

Updates have been given to the premium range of two door Mercedes-AMG vehicles. In coupe and convertible forms, the Mercedes-AMG range are positioned as the premium versions of premium cars. Pricing reflects this too. The Mercedes-AMG GT S Coupé starts the range at $311,142 (MRLP, Manufacturers Recommended List price), with the Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupé at $329,843, Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster $355,242, and Mercedes-AMG GT R Coupé $361,042.Power is supplied via a 4.0L V8, complete with a pair of turbos, with the GT S delivering 384kW. The GT C and GT R respectively have 410kW and 430kW. Torque runs at 670Nm, 680Nm, and 700Nm, between 1,900rpm (GT S)/2,200rpm to 5,500rpm. Economy is quoted as 9.5L/100km for the GT S, 11.5L/100km and 11.4L/100km for the GT C and GT R respectively. Top speeds max out at 310kmm to 318kmh.

Equipment has been given a wave of the magic wand. Drivers will enjoy a new centre console that has AMG Drive Unit controls placed in a stylised V8 arrangement plus there are display buttons to select the drive programs and control dynamic functions. A bespoke AMG Performance steering wheel now has a rotary controller for quick switching between drive modes, and an additional controller allows the driver to nominate two performance shortcuts. These can be toggled during performance driving without a need for the driver to take their eyes off what lies ahead.The driver faces a fully customisable digital instrument cluster of 12.3 inches in size. There is a 10.25 inch media display, with the leading smartphone apps. Vision is improved up front courtesy of a camera and Traffic Sign Assist pairs with it. Illumination is courtesy of new LED headlights, whilst updated alloy wheels and paint colours add to the on-road presence. The addition of the MercedesMe Connect system allows the driver to control key functions plus view relevant vehicle data and service information via a linked smartphone.Comfort and luxury are standard, with powered and heated Nappa leather seats sat underneath a sunroof. The tiller is clad in Nappa and microfibre, whilst sounds come from a 640W Burrmester system. Drive safety is in the form of the Distronic cruise control whilst sporting drivers can track progress via the AMG Track Pace system. This leads to a drivetrain underpinned by AMG’s Ride Control Suspension and electronic limited slip diff, and AMG’s high-performance composite braking system inside 19 and 20 inch alloys. A retractable aerofoil sits over a hands-free operating system for the boot in the GT S. The GT R coupe has a carbon fibre roof and a static aerofoil. The GT C Roadster goes for a fabric soft-top roof and keeps occupants warm with the bespoke Airscarf system.
The vehicles should be in dealerships in the next few weeks.

Ford Mustang R-Spec.

When it comes to high performance engines, Australia can stand up and be counted. Ford Australia has unveiled its supercharged V8 Mustang R-Spec. The car has been developed in collaboration with Melbourne-based Herrod Motorsport, owned and run by Rob Herrod. His specialist group is the largest Ford Performance parts supplier in the southern hemisphere.

Power is not specified but guesstimates hover around 522kW, with torque somewhere in the region of 830Nm. Those figures are based on the similar American specification. Standard figures are 339kW and 556Nm. It will be sold exclusively as a six-speed manual.

500 cars will be made available, and for those with an eye for colour, there will be two new ones to choose from, Grabber Lime and Twisted Orange. Tradition plays a big part in the presence with Boss Mustang stripes, a gloss black rear spoiler, and bonnet vents.

What will help in a customer service sense is that the Mustang R-Spec will be sold via Ford dealerships and will have the unlimited kilometres, five year Ford warranty. It’ll also be built in Broadmeadows, north-west of Melbourne and close to a Ford factory that built Falcons.

The R-Spec has engine components developed by Ford Performance in the United States as well as upgraded suspension and an active muffler. Herrod’s workshop has ensured that all ADRs have been met too, meaning that if Ford decides to go ahead and build more to meet the expected demand, it won’t have to undergo further testing. Fuel economy testing has shown expected figures of 14.0L/100km as an average figure for the combined cycle. Punt it around town and it’ll see a plus 20.0L/100km, whilst the highway run is circa 9.8L/100km.

The blower is a Ford Performance positive displacement item, has a capacity of 2.65 litres and runs a 12 pound per square inch boost.  The whole package from Herrod has been engineered to deliver a smoother throttle response and driving experience.  The air intake is a bespoke item and feeds into an aluminuim intercooler. Ford Performance also supply the suspension components. Ride height is 20mm lower, the adjustable stabiliser bars are bigger by 5mm and 3mm and the suspension is a magnetically adjustable setup capable of adjusting the damping rate at up to 100 times per second. Rubber is the Michelin Sport at 255/40/19 front and 275/40/19 rear on 9.5 inch and 10 inch width alloys.

Kay Hart, Ford Australia’s President and CEO, said: “Working with Herrod Performance, we’ve been able to bring this special edition Mustang to Australian customers through our extensive dealership network, and with the peace-of-mind of five-year, unlimited kilometre warranties backed by Ford and Herrod.” Service intervals are six months or 10,000 kilometres.

Impact to the hip pocket nerve? Call it $100K plus on roads.

Hybrid News From The Three Pointed Star.

Luxury car brand Mercedes-Benz has provided details of their new hybrid C-Class. There is also a potentially hybrid and/or electric S-Class on its way sometime inside the next decade. The C 300 e Sedan has a motor that can deliver 90 kilowatts of power and 440Nm of torque. Without utilising the petrol engine, there is up to 52 kilometres of electrical driving. Pair in the petrol driven 2.0L four, with a handy 350Nm of torque and 155kW of power, driving the rear wheels via a nine speed auto, peak power is rated as 235kW and torque as 700Nm. M-B says that combined fuel economy can reach as low as 2.1L per 100 kilometres. 0 – 100kmh is 5.4 seconds, the same as the Standard Plus Tesla Model 3.

The standard C-Class has a 2.0L with slightly lesser power and torque at 150kW and 300Nm of twist. 0 – 100kmh is 7.1 seconds.

The battery pack is able to hold 13.5kWh. It can be recharged to full from empty in around two hours using a Type 2 charger, or seven hours on a home circuit. It’s a smart capable battery, which allows both the heater element and cooling system to pre-climatise the interior. Other electronic goodness comes from Live Traffic Updates as standard, the Driver Assistance Package which bundles the Mercedes-Benz Distronic automated cruise control in with a predictive speed adjustment system. This covers off bends, junctions, and roundabouts.

Overall, the range has 19 different variants. There’s petrol power, diesel oomph, hybrid drivelines, and four body shapes. Buyers can choose from Sedan, Estate (wagon), Coupe, and Cabrio. Mercedes also have a limited edition Sport Edition package that buyers can specify as an option for the Sedan, Estate and Coupe. Add it to the Sedan and Estate and that’s $7,700. It’s $7,200 for the Coupe. The range starts at $64,500 and the Sport Edition has driveaway prices starting at $69,900.

When it comes to the S-Class, M-B have previewed a possible version with the unveiling of the EQS concept. EQ is a separate division, a sub-brand, that Mercedes-Benz have created to have an electric car division. By selling the S-Class, which is slated to be available early in 2020, and the EQS a year or so after, M-B then allows their customers to choose which they feel best represents a top level vehicle.

One of the aims of the concept is to assist in getting Level 3 Autonomous Driving classification. The chassis itself will become a modular platform, and will form the basis for a range of vehicles the M-B say will be released in the early 2020s. However, the S-Class, at this stage, is looking to stay as a petrol or hybrid rand range, leaving the EQS series as the separate and complementary arm using electric power. There will be a highly intensive LED look too, for the EQS, to help differentiate visually.

Tesla Model 3 Standard Plus: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The 2019/2020 Tesla Model 3. In August 2019 Tesla Australia released the Model 3 for local consumption. It’s a pared back Model S, in the sense that there’s a strong family resemblance to the sedan, however some of the features are deliberately lower key. That doesn’t mean that they’re of lesser value in usage.What Does It Cost?: The car supplied has a starting price of $66,000. Deep Blue Metallic Paint is $1,400. The full self driving capability package is $8,500. With other charges such as government and dealership fees, the final price was $81,165.Under The Bonnet Is: A choice of two drivelines to choose from, being the Standard Plus Performance. Simply put, the Standard has a battery better suited for city or short distance country driving. A full 100% charge offers a mooted 460 kilometres which of course is condition and driver dependent. The car provided was fitted with a rear wheel drive setup, as opposed to the Performance with a dual motor option. Suspension is double wishbone up front, and fitted with a virtual steer axis front suspension with coil over twin-tube shock absorbers and stabilizer bar. The rear is fully independent multi-link rear suspension with twin-tube shock absorbers and stabilizer bar. Steering is handled by a variable ratio and speed sensitive electronic power steering.On The Outside It’s: As mentioned, there is more than a passing resemblance to the larger Model S. The profile is similar, with the windowline almost identical, but the boot is stubbier with a small integrated lip spoiler. Also, the tail lights look the same. The main difference is up front. It’s not impossible to think Porsche when gazing upon the nose as the design, especially around the LED headlights, look very Germanic. Rubber is from Michelin in Pilot Sport specification and are 235/45/ZR18 on charcoal aero alloys. One of the notable changes is in respect to the door opening mechanism. There’s no self opening, and no interior door handles. These have been replaced by small touch tabs. The exterior handles are L shaped in a horizontal design, and work by pressing the rear which levers out the longer part of the L and simultaneously drops the window slightly. The boot lid is fully manual in operation also.On the Inside It’s: A bigger difference. There is no “traditional” looking dash as in a driver’s binnacle. Everything is controlled via a landscape oriented touchscreen that is centrally mounted. Even the glovebox is opened via the screen.Behind this, in the test car, was a single sheet of wood stretching across the full width and it sits atop a subtle full width slot that houses the main airvents. Beyond that is the speaker bar and that sits at the base of the windscreen. It’s minimalistic, uncluttered, classy, and not to everyone’s tastes.Above the passengers is a deeply tinted full glass roof, with front and rear separated by a dividing roll protection bar that’s been tested to withstand a force of a couple of tonnes.Drive is engaged via a lever on the right side of the powered steering column, with indicators and wipers on the left. Park is engaged by pressing a button on the right stalk’s end. The indicators have a three blink mode, or when pressed more firmly, will stay on until the driver manually disengages them when changing lanes. Having the three blink option isn’t one we support as it leads to lazy driving habits. The tiller is standard in look, bar two roller switches in the arm. These also can be moved slightly left and right when, for example, adjusting the powered mirrors for position, or changing audio stations.There is a form of voice activation embedded in the car as well. One form of usage is to ask the navigation system to take the car to a final location. There are also a range of games which cannot be accessed while the car is in motion, however a Toybox icon brings up various forms of entertainment, including “Emissions Testing”…five year old girls and boys will love it. As will most adults.To add to the difference is something the automotive industry will no doubt see more off. There is no key. There is a card or two called Concierge Card, however the main method to gain access and perform other operations remotely is via a smartphone app. Once paired, the car reads the presence of the phone, and will lock the car from a distance of between five to seven metres.That same app provides charging information, location of charging points, and remote operation of the locking mechanisms including the charge port flap on the rear left corner. Those cards, otherwise, grant access via a centre console reader, or one in the B pillar behind the driver.The display screen default is the Google maps image to the left and centre, with the right showing the drive display. Sensors and cameras around show a computer generated image showing the car and its location relevant to the road and surrounding traffic. To change the air-conditioning settings, it’s a form of pinch and swipe on a graphic that shows the image of the slot. Some of the information on the screen is laid out in response to Tesla owner feedback. To the bottom right are icons that depict the car settings, audio and for access to ancilliary actions. These are here as a result of that feedback, with the heating for rear and front window moved to the far left as these were icons, drivers said, are far less used therefore don’t need to be close to a right hand driver.

Although seating is designed to seat five, it’s best used as a four seater. There are a pair of USB ports up front, and a pair for the rear seats.Out on The Road It’s: Dare we say, typical Tesla. What that means is devastating performance both from a standing start and in rolling acceleration. Tesla’s 0-100km/h time is quoted as 5.6 seconds for the Standard. That feels slower than real world seat of the pants feedback would suggest. There are no official figures for rolling acceleration but again, seat of the pants says quick.The Tesla Model 3 Standard Plus was taken on a drive loop from the lower Blue Mountains to a town in the NSW Southern Highlands named Robertson, to Bowral, then back. Charge used to arrive at Robertson was over 50%. However it needs to be said that this involved some noticeable uphill runs, along with the subtle climb that the main southern highway has to that area. There are no superchargers in the area and typing in “destination chargers” in the navigation showed one to be a charge plug unsuitable for Tesla ports. Tesla Destination Chargers revealed one at a highway inn on the outskirts of Bowral.Robertson itself is “famous” for its pie shop, and rightly so. As it’s an ideal spot to stop between Wollongong, Kiama, Berry/Nowra, and the Bowral/Mittagong towns, it’d also make an ideal spot for a Tesla Supercharger. The one sourced was of the maximum 22kW variety, with an hour or so to charge in an extra 20% to be on the safe side to get home. Once the destination was typed in, it shows estimated time of travel and estimated charge left. Both were virtually spot on, with just 30% used on the return journey.The ride quality and steering is superb. Model 3 could be seen as the sports car entry in the Tesla range, and even though the Standard Plus has a slightly higher road clearance height, it’s still clearly low enough to provide a sense of sports car. The chassis and suspension work well to allow a sporting minded driver to push it top its limit, and in conjunction with the superb grip from the Michelin rubber, means that it really hangs on at velocities in turns that some others would need to be at five to ten kilometres per hour, maybe more, slower. This is also where the brilliantly balanced brake pedal came into its own. Although the regeneration system can slow the car well enough in some circumstances,t the pedal provides ample communication when needed.It’s a beautifully supple chassis too, with bump absorption on the very irregular back roads brilliantly sorted. Actual road noise isn’t fantastic on these sorts of roads, but once back on the smoother tarmac, the only really noticeable noise was wind.Charge levels, well, they’re the same as fuel usage. Go hard and that estimated range disappears quickly. Go gently, and range gets better. There is adjustable settings for the regenerative system, and this seemed to vary in grip depending on whether there was a slop to go down or coming up to a stop sign on a flat road. To gauge the driving style, the touchscreen shows the same sort of information the Model S and Model X have on their driver’s screen. Yellow for positive energy usage, a black like for when the car is using the battery.

When it comes to the autonomous service, the Tesla Model 3 relies on sensors and cameras to read the road ahead and around. A small steering wheel icon comes up on the screen, and one or two pushes downwards on the right hand stalk. This brings the car to full autonomous, with steering and active cruise control (with distance settings also adjustable) fully involved. However, it will still warn the driver that hands on the wheel should still be the norm.Left to its own devices, the steering will follow the roadside markings without issue. It will not work if there are substantially degraded or non-visible markings to be read. The motions are a mix of fluid and jerky, with longer corners having the wheel move minutely, section by section. Most of the drive though was under human control.

At the End Of the Drive. Tesla had promised a cheaper car for some time. It’s here. In Standard Plus trim, it’s an ideal city based vehicle. Ride quality, handling, a basic features list, make for an $81K electric car that can be held up, finally, as a worthy option compared to petroleum fueled cars. The inside happily swallows four, has a boot big enough to deal with a family, and isn’t unattractive to look at.And although the outright electric only competition is increasing, it’s still not a crowded market. For now, Tesla is still the leader.
Here is where more can be found.

Building Beasts Through Biomimicry

Inspired by a fish

Right from the beginning of automotive history, car makers have named their creations after animals.  The reasoning behind this is simple: by giving the vehicle the name of a creature that’s fast, powerful, graceful or dangerous, the user will, at least subconsciously, feel that the vehicle shares those attributes.  We want our cars to have the sheer speed of the peregrine falcon (top speed in a stoop = over 300 km/h, which is faster than what your common or garden Aussie Ford Falcon can do) or the aggression of a bighorn ram (Dodge) or the agility and elegance of a jaguar.

However, what if the makers could take things a little further and actually give a car some of the actual attributes of a swift, agile animal? Not things like actual predatory behaviour, of course; otherwise, we’d see Nissan Bluebirds eating Alfa Romeo Spyders, Jaguars and Porsche Caymans competing to devour Isuzu Bighorns, and Hyundai Tiburon (that’s Spanish for shark) giving Corvette Stingrays serious grief.  However, what if we could find out what it is that gives speedy creatures like the blue marlin and the peregrine falcon their seriously low drag coefficients so we can get better and more efficient speedy vehicles?

This is where the concept of biomimicry comes in.  Biomimicry is the design concept that looks to the natural world to get ideas and inspiration for more than just names and colours.

The classic example of biomimicry in the automotive world comes from McLaren supercars and involves one of the designers being inspired by a stuffed fish.  This stuffed fish wasn’t your ordinary trout trophy but a sailfish, which is one of the fastest fish in the sea.  The designer was so struck with this sailfish that he studied it to find out some of the features that made it so fast and if it would be possible to apply these to the supercar.

Two features from the sailfish made it into the design of the McLaren P1.  The first was the scales.  On the fish, the scales create vortices that push a bubble of air around the fish, meaning that it’s slipping through less dense air rather than water so it can go faster.  In the car –which is already going through air – the features of the scales that generate these little vortices were applied to the engine to increase the flow of air for keeping things cool and for adding extra oomph. And it worked: the sailfish scale inspired design increased airflow by 17%.  The other design was the curve of the fish’s body just before the tail fin, which straightens out air and water pockets to improve aerodynamics; it works just as well on the hypercar, minus the water, of course.

Nissan has also got a bit fishy, although they were considering safety features instead.  The designers were looking at how schools of fish act.  If you, like me, have watched one of those nature documentaries on marine life, you’ve probably seen footage of those huge schools of fish that seem to have the synchronized swimming thing down to perfection.  They stop, start, swirl and turn almost simultaneously – and they never seem to collide with each other.  The team at Nissan asked how this was possible.  It turned out that each fish monitors its position relative to the fish in front of it, and makes adjustments so it can keep the right following distance.  This idea was what led to the development of forward collision detection and autonomous braking systems, which is now a very common active safety feature on a lot of new cars and not just Nissans, either.

However, care is always needed when attempting to mimic the natural world, as it can be very easy to overlook the big picture.  Mercedes Benz famously attempted to look to nature for inspiration when developing a very stable car – the Bionic concept car.  The idea seemed fantastic: the boxfish may look weird but it’s extremely stable and can’t tip over, no matter how turbulent the water is, but it’s still got low drag.  Mercedes thought this was great and set about putting together a concept car based on the shape of the fish.

However, one thing the Mercedes design team forgot to think about was the fact that although the boxfish was stable but was still able to turn around easily, it wasn’t quite as slick and fast as most other tropical fish.  The aerodynamics (or, more accurately, hydrodynamics) that stop it from going belly-up in the roughest of seas also make turning very hard.  Boxfish have two other design features in place to help them survive the jungle of the coral reef that the Mercedes Benz doesn’t have.  The first makes up for the lack of manoeuvrability by having one heck of a defence system: it puts off minute amounts of poison into the water around it to deter predators – which is why it’s bright yellow to send the message Toxic: Do Not Eat.  The second feature is the way it moves its fins, which is what gives it the turning ability as well as adding to the stability.  Just in case you haven’t noticed, cars don’t have fins and definitely don’t use them for turning.  This explains why the much-hyped Mercedes boxfish car didn’t get beyond concept stage.

Nevertheless, biomimicry is still a very hot topic in the world of design in general, as we look for ways to make cars safer and more efficient.  Maybe it’s time to insist that all automotive designers need to have tropical fish tanks in their offices.

Mitsubishi Levels Up With Outlander.

Mitsubishi have released details of updates to their popular Outlander. The stylish SUV has been updated to deliver a more refined and functional vehicle with a number of specification changes across the range.

The new exterior includes a monotone 18 inch alloy wheel for the ES model, along with a black cloth trim, with piano black door and dash trims. Mid-spec LS models have a microsuede seat trim with synthetic leather bolsters, with piano black and silver pinstripe door & dash trims. The top of the range Exceed models have black leather trim, with carbon fibre design and silver pinstripe door & dash trims. Also for 2020, the Exceed incorporates the latest generation of Mitsubishi’s Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) system with active yaw technology. This incorporates a choice of driving modes, which are Eco, Normal, Snow and now incorporates Gravel.Safety technology has been given a wave of the magic wand. The ES 2.4L model has been given Forward Collision Mitigation as standard, along with rain sensing wipers, dusk sensing headlamps and auto dimming for the rear view mirror. In the Exceed model, the Outlander is the first model in the Mitsubishi range to display speed limit information in multi-information display sourcing data from the navigation app.

Inside, the introduction of a power lumbar adjustment has improved driver comfort across the range. Redesigned second-row seats have improved cushioning, offering a more comfortable driving experience for passengers. Passengers also benefit from the introduction of an additional rear USB charging port, and improved air-conditioning controls controls.

There is also a new overhead console. It blends the sunglasses holder, seatbelt reminder and passenger airbag cut-off indicator. The Exceed has a sunroof which locks out this new addition.Derek McIlroy, Deputy Director of Marketing and Operations, said of the vehicle: “Outlander drivers are looking for an SUV they can use for their daily drive, but they can count on for their next adventure. The Outlander is equipped with excellent handling through the Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) system, in addition to ample cargo space. This year we’ve strengthened the range by taking customer feedback and adding additional safety, comfort and infotainment features. It’s a flexible and great value SUV.”

The colour choice is extensive. Mitsubishi lists: White, Starlight, Sterling Silver, Titanium, Black, Ironbark, and Red Diamond.Pricing starts for the five seater 2.0L ES with a manual transmission at a RRP (plus government and dealership charges) of $29,490. $33,290 is the price for the ES five seater and CVT, with the LS being exclusively a seven seater. The 2WD seven seater petrol and CVT starts at $34,290, and the AWD petrol and diesel from $36,790 & $40,290. The  range topping Exceed has a petrol or diesel, and is priced from $43,290 for the petrol, and from $46,790 for the diesel. Head to the Mitsubishi website for details.

2019 Nissan Qashqai ST – Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Nissan’s entry level vehicle in the Qashqai range, the ST five door small/medium SUV.What Does It Cost?: Nissan’s website indicates a driveaway price of $26,990 for the manual. The auto is $2,000 more.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.0L petrol engine and CVT, or Constant Variable Transmission driving the front wheels. There are 106kW and 200Nm to be found which doesn’t read as a great deal. However, the Qashqai isn’t a big or heavy car at 1,375kg (dry) and the CVT is well enough sorted that it makes a good fist of what the engine can deliver. In our 60/40 urban to highway drive, economy finished on a final figure of 7.1L/100km, not far off the rated 6.9L/100km. The range estimator and driven distance combined to say there was a theoretical distance of over 800km from the 65L tank.On The Inside It’s: A not unpleasant place to be. Seats are manual for adjustment and covered in a easy to maintain fabric. Legroom for front and rear seat passengers are better than adequate, even with the fronts rolled back. Rear cargo space is rated at 430L and 1,598L with seats down, meaning it’s a family friendly vehicle.

The driver and passenger face an elegantly swept dashboard with a line that curves in and around from the doors and meets in the middle over a well laid out centre console stack. It gives a strong impression of two separate compartments without being stifling in room. The quality of the plastics in the cabin is high, with a largely charcoal hue complementing the piano black surrounds for the centre vertical section of the dash.Here also is a couple of nice additions for an entry level vehicle. A left side camera engages in Reverse to show the car’s position relative to the kerb . This minimises the alloy wheels scraping along them. It shows the same view when the front left parking sensors read another vehicle coming into range. Audio has a DAB tuner, again a nice addition, and overall sound quality was of a decent enough level. However the touchscreen has a dull, even dowdy, look to it, and that’s at odds with the otherwise pleasing look and ambience of the cabin.The driver’s pinnacle is of two analogue dials and a small LCD info screen. Nissan places the tabs for info access on the left side of the quite broad steering wheel, and it’s a natural, intuitive, layout to utilise. However, Nissan have chosen to not fit paddle shifters for manual shifting, leaving that to the gear selector lever.

The wipers aren’t Auto on, nor are the headlights. Non auto wipers can be dealt with but we feel all cars should have auto headlights with no off switch, for safety reasons.On The Outside It’s: A clear indication that Nissan knows how to link its vehicles together with a corporate face. There’s the standout silver “Vee” in the grille and arrow head LED driving lights to start. In a safety sense here, the front indicators are too small and buried in the inner corner of the driving lights means they’re awkwardly placed and easy to not see.

In profile it’s an aero look, with a graceful curve from the nose back. There are even a pair of aerodynamic aids in the shape of blades in the lower extremes of the bumper that houses the front sensors. Its a sleek look overall as it heads to the rear, with the rear passenger window kicking up to balance the slope of the cargo door.

Bridgestone supply the Dueler rubber and it’s a 215/60/17 combination on five spoke alloys.On The Road It’s: A bit of a mixed bag. The throttle can be a bit sensitive, with a gentle push having the Qashqai ST lurch forward more than expected from a stop. Getting underway is either a leisurely progress forward or, with a harder but not excessive throttle application, quite rapid. Its noticeably on pace when the rev counter has climbed to around 3,000rpm or so, as there’s a definite change to the engine’s character.

The CVT is well sorted in how it deals with the engine, giving an impression that’s there is plenty more zip than the engine’s output figures suggest. The needle swings around easily, and the computer readily defines the drive nature during acceleration. There’s either the constant surge from the engine or a more traditional gear change feel.

It works well in downhill runs too. The transmission has preprogrammed change points and it uses these to ” engine brake” readily and effectively.

There was a minor eyebrow raiser when cruising on the highway. There was a subtle but detectable back and forth feeling, with a corresponding almost imperceptible flicker of the rev counter needle. Think a slight, slight, acceleration and off the pedal for deceleration.

Highway ride quality is up there, with the suspension coping admirably with the varying undulations, and would compress nicely without issue on road joins. However, the lower travel of the ride does bang crash harshly at slow speeds on smaller bumps, giving the feeling the ride has been tuned more for long and middle distance comfort, at the slight expense of the occasional speed bump.

The steering and brakes feel natural and comfortable. Steering lock to lock is just over four turns. The brake pedal is communicative enough to provide decent levels of feedback and hauls up the compact Qashqai readily.And The Warranty Is? 5 years, with unlimited kilometres. Service intervals are every 10,000 kilometres. The first service is $226, the second is $306. $236, $435, $245, and $334 are the remaining four service costs. Roadside assistance is available for 12 months.
At the End Of the Drive. Nissan’s presence on road has come along in the proverbial leaps and bounds in the last few years. Stylish exteriors, family friendly interiors, good tech levels, driver friendly economy figures, and decent dynamics on road make for this particular Nissan, the Qashqai ST, a very appealing proposition for a new family. The Nissan website is where you can find out more.

Peugeot Loads Up With 508 and 308GT

Peugeot’s  all-new 508 has hit Australian shores and has a raft of class-leading technology and drivetrains. It also features the best of the brand’s design and engineering prowess, and will have them packaged in two stunning body styles. The All-new 508 will be available in Fastback and Sportswagon body styles. Dollar wise it starts at $53,990 and $55,990 respectively, with exterior colour choice ($590 for metallic and $1,050 for pearlescent) and an opening panoramic sunroof ($2,500) the only options. It’s an award winner too, with the “2018 Most Beautiful Car of the Year Award”.GT spec will be the only model trim level. Power will be from an all-new, high-output version of Peugeot’s proven 1.6L, turbo-petrol, four-cylinder engine developing 165 kilowatts of power and 300 Newton metres of torque. Transmission is from Aisin and is all new. Eight will be the cog count.

The engine and transmission combination will deliver impressive performance.  Combined with the vehicle’s light overall weight, the sprint to 100kmh will take just 8.1 seconds for the Fastback, and 8.2 seconds for the wagon. Consumption is rated as 6.3L per 100km. It’s a complete redesign with the 508 shorter, lighter, and more low slung than the previous model. Better packaging means a bigger interior.Ben Farlow, Managing Director of Peugeot Australia, said that while the term “all-new” is one that tends to get over-used in modern times, in the case of the Peugeot 508 the vehicle is all-new not just in design but also in its thinking, engineering and intent. “The Peugeot 508 arrives at a time when the sedan segment is ripe for a shake-up. Not only is the 508 outstanding value, it’s great to look at, great to drive and it stands out in its class.”

All-new Peugeot 508 comes with Peugeot’s five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, five-year roadside assistance and five-year Service Price Promise program.They’ve also released a new, special edition 308 GT model. There is bespoke visual and dynamic upgrades will pack the same engine bar a little less torque (285Nm at 1,750rpm to move the 1,204kg dry weight) as found in the 508. Only 140 will be made available. There is lower ride height with 7mm front and 10mm rear compared to other 308 models. The suspension has been fettled, with spring and damper rates stiffened by between 10 and 20 per cent. The steering has been upgraded as has the engine’s throttle mapping.Outside will be six exterior colours; Hurricane Grey (standard) and optional Magnetic Blue, Pearl White, Ultimate Red, Nera Black and Platinum Grey. There is bespoke interior trim, the exhaust note is fed through the audio system and there is visual appeal too. Select Sport mode and the dash glows a fiery red. Naturally there is information for the driver’s display including power and torque delivery, turbo boost pressure and both longitudinal & transverse acceleration.Head to the Peugeot website or your nearest dealer.

2019 Toyota 86 GTS Manual and Auto – Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Toyota’s joint venture with Subaru, the two door sports coupe Toyota call 86. In this case we drove, back to back, the 86 GTS Manual with Dynamic Sports Pack, and the 86 GTS Auto.How Much?: The GTS Manual with Dynamic Sports Pack is priced from $43,534 driveaway with the “standard” GTS priced from $40,497. The Manual has Apollo Blue paint, a specialist colour for this model and trim, with the Auto being clad in White Liquid. Metallics are a $500 option. The auto is $42,866 with Ignition Red, $43,381 with the Liquid White.

Under The Bonnet Is: Subaru’s fabulous flat or “boxer” four. Peak power is 147kW (auto) and 152kW (manual) from the 2.0L capacity engine, with peak twist being either 205Nm or 212Nm. There are slightly different cog ratios in the manual as compared to the auto, with the manual’s final drive at 4.3:1, compared to 4.1:1 with the auto. Peak power is at a lofty 7,000rpm, with that peak torque found between 6,400rpm to 6,600rpm in the auto, 6,800rpm in the manual. In order to get those figures the engine is tuned to run on 98RON. Economy is quoted at 7.1L/100km or 8.4L/100km for the auto and manual on the combined cycle. Due to the physical size of the 86, fuel tank capacity is just 50L. We returned figures in largely urban driving of 7.9L/100km for the auto and 8.6km/100km for the manual. Gross vehicle masses are 1,670kg (auto) and 1,700kg (manual) with dry weights between 1,250kg to 1,280kg.On The Inside It’s: a nightmare for rear seat passengers, a tight squeeze for front seat passengers, and a harken back to “the glory days” of Toyota with a retro look and feel to the cabin’s design. The front seats use a lever method for moving the seats forward to allow access to the rear, but they also use levers for seat back and height adjustment, not the preferable electric or at least “roller dial” adjustment. They are heated via a two position switch but only for the squab, not the whole seat.The GTS spec has Alcantara trim on the doors and dash for a little extra comfort, plus carpeted floor mats which also add a little extra sound deadening. Pedals are alloy with rubber tabs for the retro look and aiding shoe grip. The dash dials are fully analogue with a small 4.2 inch LCD screen set at the bottom right. This provides oil and coolant temperatures, G-force instant and history, a power and torque delivery graph, and more. The main screen is 6.1 inches in measurement and is a modern look on a retro theme. There’s a solid black surround, a CD player slot, and AM/FM only, meaning no DAB. Satnav, reverse camera, and streaming apps are standard.The actual look is of dials and toggle switches. It’s meant to evoke a sense of looking back in time and it works. The dual zone climate control, the air intake for fresh/recirculate, even the glowing red LEDs for the clock and temperature displays, are all “olde timey” in look. The centre console plastics are a chintzy silver plastic and have the traction control tabs embedded. Both have the standard push button Start/Stop and that’s visually obvious by being located in the bottom right corner of the centre console stack. And for those that prefer mechanical stopping, a proper hand brake is employed.The dash is a sweeping design that joins both doors in an arc and wave and has the centre airvents looking not unlike a impulse engine housing from a starship. The top of the dash binnacle and the flat panel have the Alcantara trim, and there is a subtle silver hue to the airvent surrounds. That colour is also wrapping the gear selector. Thankfully, both headlights and wipers are Auto on. There are a couple of centre console cup/bottle holders, and just enough room in the door pockets for a bottle. The boot is also surprisingly big, and coped well enough with a weekly shop. For its more obvious audience, a couple or single, it’s ideal for an overnight bag or two.On The Outside It’s: Largely unchanged from the original model however a very mild facelift was applied in 2016. Tail lights are LED as are the headlight cluster driving lights. There are aerodynamic strakes in the lower quarters of the front bumper around the globe lit driving lights. The chin of the front bumper has been subtly restyled, and there are even thin strakes on the outer edges of the plastic at the bottom of the windscreen for air guidance.

The GTS Manual with Dynamic Sports pack comes with Brembo brakes and red calipers, Sachs suspension, and bespoke 17 inch black alloys. Rubber is from Michelin and is 215/45/17. There’s a small rear wing for both. The manual has it in full black whilst the auto was in black with body coloured end plates. There are twin exhaust tips and both are chromed. Indicators are embedded in the leading edge of the front wheel arches which also extend into the line of view from the driver’s seat. The auto also featured the excellent Brembo stoppers. Just a breath on the brake pedal has the Brembos applying grip, and with a beautifully modulated pedal, the driver can judge perfectly a “slow in fast out”corner drive.On The Road It’s: A huge amount of fun. Deliberately designed with a mix of skatiness and grip, the low centre of gravity, relatively thin rubber, and taut suspension make for a car that is always feeling like it’s ready to break loose. Get it onto a road that has more corners than straights and the chassis immediately shows why it delivers smiles in spades.

Although peak power and torque figures are north of 6,000rpm, the gearing and the engines are perfectly matched to give, if not true outright zip, a very good semblance of it. Because the driver sits so low to to the ground too, there’s a sense of higher speed. That’s helped by a raspy metallic induction note, especially in the auto with the longer gearing. On that point, the auto sees 100kmh/110kmh at 1,000rpm lower than the manual. 100kmh in the manual is 2,700rpm, 3,000rpm for 110kmh. Toyota’s head of PR, Orlando Rodriguez, advised that the manual was the pick for buyers and when the slight facelift in 2016 was applied, the change to the manual’s engine tune and final drive was applied due to the higher sales volumes. The auto’s driveline was left untouched.The manual is more manic to drive and the transmission changes have added faster acceleration times. The gear change is a combination of a definitive selector mechanism and a clutch that allows the driver to find JUST the right point to engage and slingshot away. Revs are dialled up, the left foot lifts to engage the clutch, and there’s a fine point where the rest of the travel upwards, and the accelerator’s pedal goes downwards, that works almost like a launch control. There is no clutch slippage, the narrow rubber hooks into the tarmac, and it’s off.

The auto is, naturally, easier to get under way and is by no means locked out of the fun facts. Left to its own devices it’s good enough, but use the paddle shifts or gear selector for a manual change, and it’s noticeably quicker, sharper, crisper. The selector in the manual is notchy, precisely metallic in feel, not unexpectedly, with a gate mechanism that tells the driver “yes, this is second, yes, this is third”. Reverse is a lift of a lock-out lever and across, and this too is definitive in its engagement and movement. Both have a suspension that tends towards the harder side of ride, with the Dynamic Sports Pack adding a hint more of the sharper edge. It’s the sort of feel that would have the Michelin rubber roll over a coin and tell you not only is it a five cent piece, it’s heads up and made in 1991. But neither are excessively uncomfortable, even with the rear end kicking up a corner every now and then. There is just enough “give” to dial out the upper end of the harshness. The dimensions of the 86 help with handling. It’s shorter than it looks, at 4,240mm and squeezes in a 2,570mm wheelbase.

Steering is thought process quick, with a lock to lock of just three turns. Think your way through a corner and the wheel points the broad nose exactly where it should be. Once the seating position has been sorted, and it really would be easier with the roller dial adjustment, not the levers, the car becomes an extension, and that’s how a good sports car or car with more sporting pretensions than others, should feel. Although it’s not the roomiest of cabins, there’s enough for the left arm to grab the manual gear selector, both arms to be just at the right angle to steer and not be cramped or over-extended, and therefore that steering becomes the extension.What About Safety?: Camera for reverse, seven airbags, hill start assist, and the mandated driver aids.And The Warranty Is? Toyota announced in January of 2019 that passenger cars would receive a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty, which could be bumped to seven years on the engine and drivetrain on “properly maintained vehicles” that are equipped with genuine Toyota parts.

At The End Of The Drive: The joint venture between Toyota and Subaru has provided a car that has found itself a strong niche. There is a bespoke motorsport series, the car is used in driver training, and drivers that have either one will acknowledge another driver. It’s a car that feels as if it needs more power however the chassis is tuned to take advantage almost perfectly of what there is. It’s also the kind of car that has a set audience and those that appreciate what its intention is, will be the ones that extract every erg of enjoyment from the drive. On a cost effective or “bang for your buck” basis, for a dollar per smile, at $40 to $45K, it’s a bargain. The Toyota website is where more information can be found.

Pencil Sharp BMW M240i

BMW Australia has managed to negotiate a super sharp driveaway price for its stonking M240i coupe. With deliveries due to start for Q4, buyers will look at $74,900 as a driveaway starting price. Standard inclusions make for a long list.

Up front is their M Performance TwinPower Turbo 6-cylinder in-line petrol engine. Peak power is 250kW of power with peak twist rated as 500Nm of torque. It’s quick, with a 0-100kmh of 4.6 sec. Drive gets to the tarmac via an 8 speed Sport Automatic gearbox, and the car rides on their proprietary Adaptive M Suspension with stopping power thanks to the M Sport brakes. The driver connects with the road through the variable sport steering, including the servotronic speed-sensitive assistance. Both driver and passenger have Sports seats to park their rear in and the driver has electric adjustment and memory positioning. Both front pews are heated but not vented. Sounds are fr

 

om Harman Kardon and pump through a 12 speaker set. An 8.8 inch touchscreen houses the controls including the nav system, a 20gb solid state hard drive, and also the Connected Drive services.

Outside are Adaptive LED headlights and the signature kidney grille is finished in Cerium Grey. Mirror covers are in black. There is also high-beam assist with extra safety assistance from the BMW Driving Assistant. That includes the Approach Control Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Pedestrian Warning, light city braking function and Attentiveness Assistant. Extra goodness for the driveaway offer comes from double-spoke 18-inch M light alloy wheels, sunroof, metallic paint and a wireless charge pad for compatible smartphones. Interior trim goes to Hexagon Alcantara and Anthracite/Black upholstery. Carbon fibre interior trim and Dakota leather upholstery can also be optioned.

Buyers can choose from these exterior colours: Black Sapphire Metallic, Mineral White Metallic, Mineral Grey Metallic, Estoril Blue Metallic, Sunset Orange Metallic, and Long Beach Blue Metallic. Wheel options are double-spoke, Jet Black 18 inch M light alloy with 225/40/18s up front and 245/35/18s for the rear. There is also double-spoke style, Bi-colour Jet-Black 18inch M light alloy and 225/40 R18 for the front, with 245/35 R18 at the rear. Then there is double-spoke style, Cerium Grey Matte 18 inch M light alloy plus 225/40 R18 and 245/35 R18.

Contact us or your local BMW dealer for more details.