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2020 Nissan Patrol: The Big Machine Gets A Makeover.

Nissan’s long-running competitor to the Land Cruiser, the Patrol, has been given a substantial makeover for the 2020 specification. Available to order through Nissan dealerships now, in a two model range, it’s priced from $75,990 (plus ORC) for the Nissan Patrol Ti, and the Ti-L is from $91,990 (plus ORC).

The exterior has been revised at the front and rear, and the safety levels have also been improved. The suspension has been further tweaked for a better ride, and there are now extra colours to choose from.Safety.
Standard equipment for both the Ti and Ti-L include: Intelligent Emergency Braking, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. The Ti now also has: Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Intelligent Lane Intervention, Blind Spot Warning (BSW), and Intelligent Blind Spot Intervention.

Outside.
The Ti has been given it’s own sportier looking front end treatment. The Ti-L goes for a premium, upmarket, look. The bonnet, fenders, grilles, LED lights and front bumpers have been modified for a more upright, no-nonsense stance. the headlights have a total of 52 LEDs, and there’s 44 LEDs in the rear. the rear lights are now in a stylish boomerang shaped cluster. The rear bumper has been restyled to match the solid lines of the rear, with a squarer look. Colour choices now have Moonlight White, Galaxy Gold & Hermosa Blue, which are new to the range.Inside.
Australia’s hot weather conditions require better air-conditioning and Nissan have updated the system in the Patrol for a tri-zone setup. Airflow has been improved and the rear seat passengers have been given better flow too. This means cooling will take place quicker and therefore will be more efficient. Access is via an intelligent key with remote keyless entry with push button Start/Stop, cruise control, heated door mirrors, plus 3D mapping for the sat-nav in an eight inch touchscreen.Power and Ride.
Both vehicles will have 298kW of power and 560Nm of torque from Nissan’s 5.6 litre V8 petrol engine. Drive gets to the ground via a seven-speed automatic transmission featuring manual mode and Adaptive Shift Control (ASC). There is also an electronic rear diff lock, Hill Descent Control (HDC) with on/off switch, Hill Start Assist (HAS) and an off-road monitor. The suspension tweaks have the dampers retuned for a more positive response for an increase in on-road comfort, and enhanced off-road comfort as well.

Contact your local Nissan dealer for a drive evaluation.

Car Review: 2020 Kia Stinger 200S

This Car Review Is About: The now entry level model to a realigned in 2019 Stinger range. There is the 200S, the same 2.0L engine in GT-Line spec, them two mainstream 3.3L V6 models called 330S and GT, and a limited edition. The 200S features a mildly restyled interior and exterior to differentiate it from the others.

How Much Does It Cost?: Kia’s Website lists the Stinger 200S four location as a not inconsiderable $50,490 driveaway. However that is around $1,250 under the list price plus charges.Under The Bonnet Is: Kia’s well sorted 2.0L turbo petrol four cylinder engine that powers the rear wheels via an eight speed auto. Peak power is 182kW at 6,200rpm, with peak torque of 353Nm available between 1,400rpm and 4,000rpm. There is Launch Control fitted to the smooth eight speeder too. Consumption for the urban cycle is rated as a whopping 12.7L/100km, a big bugbear in the Kia engine range. Combined is rated as a more reasonable 8.8L, and on the highway consumption drops by nearly half to see 6.5L/100km from the 60.0L tank. Our final figure was 9.3L/100km.On The Outside It’s: Subtly restyled in one key area. Kia’s cleverly used the same shape of the headlight cluster and has a main, circular, light to the outside and this dips downwards to where the LED indicators are in the GT-Line versions. The shape of the bumper is subtly restyled as is the shape of the air intake. The wheels are of a lower-spec but have a still nice to look at…look. Size is 225/45/18 and rubber is Continental ContiSportContact.

The body is otherwise identical with quad exhausts, the pair of faux bonnet vents, the Maserati-esque LED tail lights. Kia’s design team really got the exterior right when the car was first released two years ago. Paint was Silky Silver and is listed as a standard colour.On The Inside: The main difference here is the introduction of a smaller touchscreen on the upper dash. It’s a 7.0inch screen, down one inch from the screen available in the rest of the range. Satnav is standard, as is DAB audio through a six speaker, not 15 speaker, audio system. Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth streaming are also standard in the 200S. A pair of 12V and USB ports are standard.

The driver faces a simple 3.5 inch monochrome display (same in the 330S), not the better looking 7.0 inch found in the GTs. It’s not un-userfriendly, it just looks…dull. But there is leather pews, electric adjustment, paddle shifters, a drive mode selector in the console, and a pack of driver information options in the touchscreen menus. Drive itself is a shift-by-wire rocker selector.On the Road It’s: Noticeably affected by the 1,700kg dry weight. Although peak torque comes on stream at low revs and is available through a broad rev range, that weight holds back performance and clearly contributes to that pretty average urban consumption. It takes a heavier right foot to get the 200S up to speed, but when on the highway it shows its other side. The Stinger is a superb tourer, and in our previous reviews has shown that the long distances between towns suits the Stinger’s character perfectly.Handling and ride in the 200S are just as good too, with nothing found wanting in these two departments. The steering weight is a tick on the heavy side, with a slight numbness on centre, but these are minor quibbles in an otherwise well sorted and well proven package. Even with the 1,800kgs plus it packs, it’s nimble, rapid in response, and lacks initial feedback only in braking too.
What About Safety?: The only thing the 200S (and 300S) misses out on of note is front parking sensors. A 360 degree camera view isn’t provided but that’s not a biggie. In the exterior stakes Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are also deleted. Otherwise it’s on spec with AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking) with FCWS (Forward Collision Warning System) and Lane Keep Assist, plus pedestrian oriented Active Hood Lift Assist on board.What Is The Warranty And Service?: Warranty is 7 years, and unlimited kilometres. For servicing Kia says: we’ve capped the maximum price you will pay for the first seven scheduled services (fourteen for T-GDI petrol turbo models) for up to 7 years or 105,000kms (excluding Kia Stinger and MY 19 and onwards petrol turbo models) and for Kia Stinger and MY 19 and onwards petrol turbo models for up to 7 years or 70,000kms, whichever comes first.At The End Of The Drive: There’s a faint sense of disquiet in driving the turbo four powered Stinger. But it’s the only game in Kia-town now that the underrated Optima has been dropped from the range when it comes to a largish sedan body. That disquiet is knowing the Stinger is aimed at the performance oriented driver yet a fuel consumption of over 12.0L per 100 kilometres in its normal environment will hurt, and that’s due to its bulk. Kia should either find a weight reduction regime of bump the 2.0L up in capacity. Would the increase in size tradeoff work though in providing more performance?

More on the Stinger 200S is here.

2019 Tesla Model 3 Performance: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The Tesla Model 3’s middle specification car. There is the “entry level” Standard Plus, the car tested called the Performance, and the Long Range AWD to top the range.What Does It Cost?: The Performance has a starting price of $93,900. There are the usual government and delivery charges on top. Our review car came in a lovely multi-layered Pearl White, There are four other metallic colours and they are a $1,500 cost option. It’s also almost completely ready to drive autonomously with the “Autopilot” facility as standard. the full self drive is $8,500. All up, the review car prices out at just under $120,000.

On The Inside It’s:A mix of stark minimalism, hi-tech, and whimsy, with plenty of comfort. The Performance has the Premium Interior which is sumptuous black leather clad seats that are heated and powered for plenty of positioning options. There’s the same wood strip for the dash and the 15 inch landscape oriented touchscreen that has Google well and truly as its heart. This controls everything the car does; from steering wheel and mirror adjustment to tracking vehicles around the Model 3, from providing audio options such as TuneIn and Spotify (with the first year’s subscription free if you don’t already have it) to providing hilarity from the “Gas Emissions” tab in a entertainment submenu, and will even allow a name to be given to the car. The whimsy inside Tesla is highlighted by the “caraoke” option. You read that right. It’s exactly what you suspect and is intended to be used when the car is stationary. We can attest it will provide access when the car is stopped, but will play whilst underway. There is also access to Netflix, YouTube, and Tesla instructional videos.

The touchscreen is, oddly, the weak link in the chain.It’s a solid sheet of glass with a metal surround. As such, it becomes a heat sink and on warmer days readily absorbs heat to the point the bare finger gets singed. Perhaps a vent behind the screen or an embedded loop would do the trick.

When not barbecuing fingers, it’s a high resolution display, with the default being a monochromed look Google maps, with the option of displaying the satellite image, and the graphics that the car’s cameras and ultrasonic sensors read to show surrounding vehicles. The lower section has icons for menus, which then bring up the audio options, the entertainment options, the settings for the vehicles. Compared to the Standard Plus, the entertainment goes up a notch, with Netflix, YouTube, and Tesla instructional videos being made available.The steering wheel is devoid of anything bar two roller dials and the Tesla logo, and the dials manipulate some of the information provided via the touchscreen.One of the small yet user friendly things about Tesla is how the doors are operate. Here there are small tabs on the top of the door grip which are pressed to release the doors. And unlike the pricier Model S and Model X, there is no remote key fob with which to remotely open the doors. Everything is operated via a smartphone app. This remotely opens the charge flap, releases the charge cable, can summon the car, or prestart the air-conditioning system which includes dog mode. This allows those that wish to keep Poochie cool and stay in the car to do so, plus it flashes up on the screen a note to advise of this function being operated. Should the car need to be moved without the owner, a Concierge card is provided.

There is also the sound system. There are 14 speakers spread around the cabin, with the front setup not unlike a soundbar for a TV. It’s loud, punchy, clear as crystal. It’s that attention to detail that really appeals. USB ports? Four, thank you. Embedded information about charge locations? Indeed. Safety features? Lacks for nothing.On The Outside It’s: A condensed version of the larger Model S. Slimmer in all dimensions, and sitting slightly lower than the Standard Plus, it nonetheless has a very strong family look to the other two models, not unexpectedly. The windows, profile, the lines that join front and rear, a line over the hip, are all common for the Model 3, Model S, and Model X. The Model S and X have similar looking headlights, whereas the Model 3 goes its own way with a design that evokes Porsche. At the rear the tail lights are essentially identical. Michelin supply the Pilot Sport tyres and are 235/35/ZR20. Wheels on the car supplied were subtle looking alloys in a ten spoke design. Dry weight is not unexpectedly hefty. It’s 1,847 kilos. Boot capacity is 542L and of course there’s “frunk”. This is the front trunk, also accessed via the smartphone app, and provides extra space up front.Out On The Road It’s: Delightful in many ways. It’s rapid, in both standing start and overtaking. Intoxicating, endearing, stupid grin inducing rapid. But it’s this sheer muscle car power that makes it safer than people expect. Think coming up a merge lane to a freeway and the car that is oncoming behind you has the room to move right but doesn’t. A quick check of available space, a gentle press on the go pedal, and tomorrow is in front of you. Tesla quote 3.4 seconds for the sprint from standstill to 100. There is absolutely no reason to disbelieve that at all.

The starting procedure is simple. Foot on the brake, pull the right side steering column lever downwards and check that D is highlighted on the touchscreen. Floor the pedal. Take a breath because you’ll need it as suddenly your spine is somewhere in the back of the seat’s padding.Energy harvesting can add a bit more to the expected range, as the brakes have two settings. The standard is more than enough and in some situations mitigates needing the foot to hit the brake pedal, such is the power of the system. In some circumstances it’s enough to bring the car to a stop by itself and on a downhill run will grab the brakes and slow the car here solidly.

There’s also little to quibble about when it comes to the ride quality too. It’s up there with some of the better suspension combinations for suppleness, confidence building, and strikes an ideal balance between grip, sportiness, and dialing out intrusive road imperfections.A key selling point is the ability to drive autonomously. Most of our drive was done manually, and more so to fully enjoy the ability of the Model 3. To engage the self-drive, the car must first be able to clearly read the roadside markings and will show a grey steering wheel on the screen. A couple of gentle tugs on the right hand lever and this should then make that icon blue, indicating self-drive is engaged. Under no circumstances should the hands be fully removed from the wheel.

The steering on its own is spot on. It’s beautifully weighted, has only minimal feeling of being artificially being assisted, and is ratioed for two turns lock to lock.

At The End of the Drive. The Performance should be the pick over the Standard Plus for those that like to fully exploit a car’s abilities. The extra urge from the twin motors, the extra range, and perhaps even the extra entertainment features for some, make the Tesla Model 3 Performance a winner. Sure, it’s $120k in price but currently there are no other fully electric cars that come close to delivering what this car can: an all round powerhouse Performance.

 

Japanese Makers Fire Electric Shots.

Both Nissan and Mazda have unveiled electric vehicles. Nissan’s is a test bed design and Mazda their first full production version. Nissan’s car is based on the Leaf e+ with Mazda naming theirs the MX30.

The Nissan has an all wheel drive system, with twin motors. Nissan also factors in their bespoke chassis control technology. The engines provide up to 227kW and a massive 680Nm of peak torque. The test car has a control system that adds regenerative braking to the rear motor as well as the front. Pitch and dive are minimised as a result. In addition to optimising the torque that’s spread between the front and rear, it also applies independent brake control at each of the four wheels to maximise the cornering force generated by each tyre.
Mazda’s car is an SUV as well. It’s powered by what Mazda call “e-Skyactiv system” It can be charged using AC power or rapid-charged using DC power. The system involves the battery, motor, an inverter and a DC-DC control unit. The inverter changes the DC to AC for the motors with the converter providing the charge for the onboard systems.

Mazda also engineer in a refrigerant cooling system that cools the battery pack when the temperature rises. By maintaining the best possible battery temperature even on hot days, the system helps protect the battery pack from degrading due to heat. Thin cooling tubes attached to the bottom plane of the battery module make contact with a heat exchanger. This structure contributes to realizing a compact battery pack. A sensor constantly monitors the battery’s temperature and controls the flow of coolant as needed. The result is an effective battery cooling system. There’s a single motor, mounted up front, and it will provide drive to the front or or four paws. The battery pack is rated at 35.5kWh, and has an expected range of around 200km. There is also a acceleration system called Motor Pedal. This adjusts on the fly response to throttle inputs and adjusts acceleration as well, depending on the speed the driver presses the accelerator pedal.

A key identifier for the MX-30 is the design. Not unlike the recently released 3 hatch, it features long and flowing lines, a curvaceous body, and suicide doors. It’s also green oriented, with cork and recycled plastic bottles being used in the interior trim. It’s not yet confirmed for the Australian market but it’s definitely in Mazda Au’s want list.

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.
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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.