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Is there Still Space in the Market for Sedans?

Like a slow motion replay, the scene has been unfolding for some time. In fact, go back a couple of years and the writing was on the wall. Australians are obsessed with SUVs. But it’s not just here either, with many other countries following the trend, none more evident than the United States and China.

It has reached the point now where local SUV sales are far and away outperforming sedans, and have blown past 50% of all new car sales. On the one hand, the rise of commercial vehicles like utes has also helped to skew the numbers away from sedans, but the prominence of the SUV category is no statistical anomaly.

With such an evident trend appearing to be set in stone, it does raise questions over the future viability of the sedan format. In particular, will sedans still have a place in the market as SUV sales soar?

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An evolving landscape

Cars have always been redefined by the technological progress that accompanies them. That doesn’t just extend to what’s under the bonnet either, nor what’s inside the cabin. It also extends to the shape of the body. We’ve seen an evolution as far as new formats like crossovers, liftbacks and many other identities.

In many respects, there is no reason to believe this won’t continue as means to continue fuelling the sedan market. Design changes may be subtle, but incorporating the feedback we’ve come to expect from those who prefer things like superior room, ride height, visibility and off-road versatility that comes with an SUV. Not to mention, with electrification and autonomy on the way, designs will inherently continue to transform, gradually shifting our taste in vehicles too.

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The value proposition will dictate future sales

For now, sedans are still posting sales numbers that are nothing to sneeze at. Sure, they may be declining, but the choice for SUV models has risen astronomically to provide more options than ever before. Motorists’ preferences may have changed but in some ways, historical data may have been otherwise pointed to higher levels of SUV sales – and lower sedan sales – had drivers been afforded more choice at an earlier stage.

It is also a challenge that manufacturers should embrace. They will not only be faced with the task of streamlining their sedan range – as many have done already – but also going about reinvigorating a value proposition into the category to drive sales.

SUV sales may offer auto-makers fatter margins, however their higher prices and at-times polarising looks will still be a barrier to pushing sedans out of the market. So if sedans are then here to stay, car manufacturers must add value in the form of new technology, amenity, efficiency and performance to compete for the shrinking pool of buyers. And it’s many of these criteria that sedans have historically held the upper hand.

S to Z of Surfing Vehicles Dude

“Surfs up!”

“Dude, how am I gonna get there?”

“Bro, you need a car!”

Summer is here, and surfing is a great lifestyle for getting out, chasing the waves, and getting some immunity-boosting Vitamin D.  In fact, any sort of outdoor adventure and exercise will see you a fitter and healthier person for getting out there and doing it.  What 2022 cars make for an ideal surfer’s or outdoorsy-person’s companion?  The following are several useful vehicles that will transport you, a friend or two, some gear, and surfboards/mountain bikes through something more than just a little puddle, mud or soft sand.

Dedicated vans or MPVs with AWD like the Volkswagen Multivan, LDV G10, Mercedes-Benz V-Class, Kia Carnival, Mercedes-Benz Valente, Volkswagen Caravelle, Honda Odyssey, Hyundai STARIA, Volkswagen California, Toyota Granvia, Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo ACTIVITY, and the Volkswagen Caddy are potentially great for surfing travels with one, two or more mates.  Some, but not all, will offer AWD.  Depending on how far down onto the beach you want to get your MPV or Van, AWD is definitely the way to go for ensuring you have a better chance of getting through soft sand and out of sticky situations.

For years, station wagons have been a go-to machine for the surfer; for good reason too as they offer plenty of space for lugging gear and for sleeping.  Having a vehicle that can get you across country and down onto the beach makes for the ultimate surfer’s vehicle.  Outside of the list of MPVs/vans above, there are some great vehicles worth a look if you’re into doing a bit of surfing, fishing and any other type of outdoor adventure.

Here is the best of them from S (Skoda) to V (Volvo).  Let us know if we’ve missed anything in between!

Skoda Kodiaq

Arguably the best in the business is Skoda’s Kodiaq.  It does everything a surfer wants very well.  The 2.0-litre Turbo petrol engine is smooth and powerful.  4×4 capability is at the ready, and the Kodiaq Wagon boasts 7-seats and a 7 speed automatic 4×4 gearbox.  A 132 kW/320 Nm turbo-petrol is under the bonnet of the base and Sportline variants.  The punchy RS packs a 176 kW/500 Nm version of the 2.0-litre engine. The AWD-only Skoda not only offers 3 rows of seats, it is also able to open up 2005 litres of boot space.  With standard autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, active LED headlights and a cosy, suede-trimmed interior complete with sat-nav, keyless start, two-zone climate-control and side and rear-window blinds, the Skoda Kodiaq is one very impressive package.

Skoda Superb AWD Scout

Grab yourself an AWD Skoda Superb Scout crossover wagon and surfing trips just got a whole lot nicer.  Under the Scout’s bonnet sits a 200 kW/350 Nm, 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The spacious, comfortable and high-quality cabin is laden with plenty of soft-touch panels and easy-to-read interfaces. Safety technology includes front and rear autonomous emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning with active assist, blind-spot monitoring and self-parking.  The Superb Wagons will take 660 litres of luggage, expanding to 1950 litres with the rear seats folded. Towing capacity is rated at 2.2 tonnes.

SsangYong Rexton

Here’s another strong contender for best surfing wagon.  The seven-seater, five-star safe, 8-speed auto, 4×4, 2.2 Diesel-Turbo SsangYong Rexton large SUV uses a 149 kW/441 Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel that boasts less than 9 litres/100 km fuel economy.  With, all-independent suspension, all-wheel disc brakes and an eight-speed auto gearbox, the big Korean-made SUV is equipped to go bush.  Boot space is a handy 1806 litres with second and third rows flat.

Subaru Forester

An icon in the surfing fraternity, the Subaru Forester always delivers the goods.  2022 sees the 5-door wagon offer a CVT 7-speed AWD with even autonomous emergency steering standard.  This is five-star safe, great on sipping small amounts of fuel and comfortable on any surface of road.  The Forester continues with the 136 kW/239 Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder boxer engine, and the 2.0-litre mild-hybrid claims 6- to 7 litres/100 km.  The Forester offers generous levels of passenger space, and the luggage capacity can open to 1768 litres with the rear seats folded.  Of course, the Forester is known for going places that Physics suggest it shouldn’t.  It is capable off-road, just keep in mind that it’s not a “Landie”!

Subaru Outback

Surprise, surprise, here is another Subaru, and a favourite with surfers.  The latest Subaru Outback is the newest of a long line of wagon’s that have carried surfboards and surfers all around the country.  Subaru’s Outback is made for the surfer’s design brief, so it will happily go off-road, cruise the open road, accommodate a mattress and provide great accident protection.  Five-star safe and comfortable to drive, the 5-door Outback Wagon uses a 138 kW/245 Nm 2.5-litre boxer petrol four-cylinder driving all four wheels through a new CVT transmission.  Subaru’s Outback crossover is bigger inside and out, employs the company’s latest global platform and features all the latest safety technology.  You can tow up to two-tonnes, and you have a boot with up to 2144 litres!

Toyota

Plenty of choice in the Toyota brand. Take your pick out of the RAV4 (smallest), Kluger, Fortuner, Prado (largest), and Land Cruiser.  All will get you far and beyond the tarmac, the Prado and Land Cruiser being truly 4×4 bush bashing capable.  Comfortable, reliable, and safe.  Boot space starts at around 1800 litres for the RAV4 and gets bigger from here.

Volkswagen Touareg

Good things come from VW, as surfers well know – the VW Kombi being a surfing icon.  Well-dressed, big and brutish is what many of the ladies like, and the Volkswagen Touareg has it all.  Available as a huge 5-door SUV shape, the Touareg boasts five-star safety, 4×4 competence, and a huge boot (over 1800 litres).  Passenger space is right up there with the best in the business.  It is available with a choice of three diesel engines: two 3.0-litre V6s – 170 kW/500 Nm (170 TDI) and 210 kW/600 Nm (210 TDI), plus a ruthless 310 kW/900 Nm 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 monster.

VW Tiguan Allspace

Over 2000 litres of boot space (Allspace version), a practical no-nonsense interior, 5-star safe, comfortable to drive, AWD availability, and the Tiguan starts to make sense.  It is also another vehicle that has self-parking capability.  With 4MOTION AWD and a dual-clutch six or seven-speed auto transmissions, the Tiguan is an impressive mid-size SUV.  The choice of motors is good; a 110 kW/250 Nm 1.4-litre and 162 kW/350 Nm 2.0-litre petrol turbo is available along with the torquey and thrifty 147 TDI 147 kW/400 Nm turbo-diesel.

Volvo XC60

Volvos are amazing cars to drive.  They are so comfortable, elegant, and boast all the best tech. Safety is a given, and the XC60 has up to 1792 litres of boot space.  Five-door SUV styling, an 8-speed automatic with AWD and you’re away.  Volvo’s XC60 SUV line-up is powered by petrol-only mild-hybrid 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines. The R-Design continues with the more powerful 220 kW/420 Nm B6 mild-hybrid powertrain while the Polestar Engineered sticks with the 311 kW/670 Nm T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid powertrain.  Both are nice and responsive engines.

Volvo XC90

Even with all 7 seats in place, the Volvo XC90 boot can hold up to 302 litres of luggage.  Folding down second and third rows makes way for 1856 litres.  A superbly comfortable, AWD capable, and delivering huge safety credentials, the new Volvo XC90 is a luxury SUV like no other.  All XC90s come with autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning/assist, sat-nav, self-parking, AWD, an 8-speed automatic transmission and a fuel-saving idle-stop system.  The XC90 D4 is powered by a 173 kW/480 Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel.  The T6 petrol comes with a 140 kW/400 Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel.  The 2.0-litre plug-in petrol-electric hybrid XC90 T8 claims an amazing 2.1 litres/100 km fuel consumption and slingshots to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds!

K to R of Surfing Vehicles Dude

“Surfs up!”

“Dude, how am I gonna get there?”

“Bro, you need a car!”

Summer is here, and surfing is a great lifestyle for getting out, chasing the waves, and getting some immunity-boosting Vitamin D.  In fact, any sort of outdoor adventure and exercise will see you a fitter and healthier person for getting out there and doing it.  What 2022 cars make for an ideal surfer’s companion?  The following are several useful vehicles that, if you’re wanting something to get you places, will transport you, a friend or two, some gear, and surfboards/mountain bikes through something more than just a little puddle, mud or soft sand.

Dedicated vans with AWD or MPVs are potentially great for surfing travels with one, two or more mates.  Some, but not all, will offer AWD.  Depending on how far down onto the beach you want to get your MPV or Van, AWD is definitely the way to go for getting through soft sand and sticky situations.  Having a vehicle that can get you across country and down onto the beach makes for the ultimate surfer’s vehicle.

There are some very good vehicles worth a look if you’re into doing a bit of surfing, fishing and any outdoor adventure.  Aside from an AWD Van or AWD MPV, here are the best of them from K (Kia) to R (Renault).  Let us know if we’ve missed anything in between!

Kia Sorento

The seven-seat Kia Sorento SUV is one of the most advanced vehicles in its class.  If you find parking a mean trick, then it can even park itself without anyone inside. Quiet, roomy and with a large boot, the Sorento is available in Sport, Sport+ and GT-Line and the choice of a front-drive 3.5-litre 200 kW/332 Nm V6 petrol with an eight-speed auto gearbox, an AWD dual-clutch auto 148 kW/440 Nm 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel or a 190 kW/350 Nm PHEV.  The roomy cabin is enhanced by a commodious 616-litre boot that increases to a massive, all-seats-folded 2011 litres.

Land Rover Defender

Ultimate 4×4 traction.  The 2.0-litre D200, D240 and D250 diesels produce 147 kW/430 Nm, 177 kW/430 Nm and 183 kW/570 Nm respectively, while the petrol engines output 221 kW/400 Nm, 294 kW/550 Nm and 386 kW/625 Nm.  All Defenders are highly capable, dual-range 4x4s, all driving through an eight-speed auto gearbox.  Up to 2231 litres of boot space gives you plenty of space to sleep!  5-star safe.

Land Rover Discovery

Ultimate 4×4 traction with added sophistication. Of course, the Range Rover alternative is luxury to the max!  Discoverys are big on comfort and refinement and offer up to 2104 litres of sleeping space.  5-star safe.

LDV D90

A big, cushy, well-priced 7-seater with 5-doors.  Sitting on a strong ladder-frame chassis and boasting a punchy 160 kW/480 Nm, 2.0-litre bi-turbo-diesel with an eight-speed auto transmission this is a seriously decent machine.  Offering rear-drive or dual-range 4WD with multi-mode terrain selection, off-roading is a breeze.  5-star safe and providing up to 2382 litres of sleeping space.

Mahindra XUV500 W10

A 7-seater with 5 doors and a 6-speed auto, the Mahindra XUV500 SUV is one of the best-value mid-size seven-seaters in Australia.  It is powered by a 103 kW/320 Nm 2.2-litre turbo-petrol engine.  AWD form is the best version and performs well off-road.  Let down only by a 4-star safety rating, the Mahindra has over 700 litres of boot space with the third row seats flat and grows to an excellent mattress in the back material.  You also get a five-year/100,000km warranty with five years of roadside assist when bought new.

Mitsubishi Outlander

Mitsubishi’s fourth generation Outlander SUV is a roomy 5-door wagon that is comfortable to drive, has all the modern tech, offering its owner plenty of space.  Available in AWD, running with an 8-speed CVT gearbox, and using the new 135 kW/245 Nm 2.5-litre engine this is a reliable unit that will take you and your mates places.  Boot space is up to 1461 litres, safety is 5-star, and you also get Mitsubishi’s class-leading 10 year/200,000 km warranty.

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

Another highly rated surfer’s wagon, the 2022 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Wagon.  With its 8-speed automatic gearbox is smooth.  It’s a dual-range unit with Low and High, so 4×4 traction combines with a high ground clearance and long-travel suspension to ensure plenty of off-road capability.  There’s heaps of passenger space and it’s surprisingly smooth and comfortable on the road.  The Pajero Sport is available in both five and seven-seat form and is powered by a 2.4-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-diesel producing 133 kW/430 Nm.  5-star safety and a boot space that’s huge. The Pajero Sport boasts a big, square cargo space and boasts 673-litres of cargo volume even up to the second row.  Fold the second row down as well and it’s cavernous.

Nissan X-Trail

The sharp-looking Nissan X-Trail is a real surfer’s choice.  Nissan’s X-Trail continues to rate among the best cargo-carriers in its class.  It feels nifty on the road and is five-star safe.  The AWD version uses a naturally-aspirated petrol engine with 126 kW/233 Nm.  Boot space is huge and close to 2000 litres, enough to lie down and stretch your legs out overnight.

Renault Koleos

A pretty cool looking wagon is the new Koleos from Renault.  Nissan’s X-Trail and Renault’s Koleos have teamed up and are based on the same platform.  Five-star safe and superbly comfortable, Renault’s five-seat Koleos mid-size SUV combines attractive looks and excellent people and luggage-carrying abilities.  There’s a choice, at the top-level for 4WD, and the 126 kW/226 Nm 2.5-litre petrol engine drives through a modern CVT transmission.  Boot space is almost 2000 litres!

The 2021 World Car Of The Year Is…

Volkswagen’s ID.4. The electric SUV is the German brand’s fifth WCOTY after: 2013 World Car of the Year – Volkswagen Golf, 2012 World Car of the Year – Volkswagen UP!, 2010 World Car of the Year – Volkswagen Polo, 2009 World Car of the Year – Volkswagen Golf VI.

It’s still unclear as to whether it will make its way to Australia. What will be unavailable is a 77kWh battery, offering a range of up to 520 kilometres. Power is rated as 150kW and torque at 309Nm providing a 0-100kph time of 8.5 seconds. The rear is where the engine is located. Battery charge from a 120kW DC source can provide 320 kilometres of range in a half hour, and the 11kW charger built in can provide 53 kilometres in an hour.

It’s expected that a dual-motor version will be released with power bumped to around 225kW. Chassis wise, it’s a bespoke EV design, and on a length of 4,580mm, it sits neatly between VW’s Tiguan at 4,486mm and the Tiguan Allspace, a seven seater and 4,701mm in length. Crucially, it will offer cargo space of 543L (rear seats up) to 1,575L (seats folded), offset against the Tiguan’s 615L/1,775L and the Allspace’s 230L and 1,655L. Up front is a cargo area of sorts, with the cargo being the 12V battery for the ID.4’s ancilliaries and accessories, plus the various cooling system equipment parts.

ID.4 will be built across three continents and in five factories, highlighting the still “Dieselgate” beleaguered company’s move to a stronger EV presence in a market that is growing worldwide.

Ralf Brandstätter is the CEO of Volkswagen, and he firmly believes in positioning this EV as a mainstream model “with the potential for significant volumes.” Those volumes, he says, are in in Europe, China, and North America. The ID.4 will also “play host” to a range of related brand vehicles from Skoda, Audi, and Cupra.

Future versions of the ID.4 are said to include all-wheel drive and a choice of both batteries and engines. These include a 109kW, 125kW, 129kW or 150kW rear-mounted electric motor with a 52kWh battery the power source for the first two, and a 77kWh battery for the latter. This battery

will also be the source for two all-wheel drive versions, with either 195kW or a mooted GTX packing the 225kW engine.

History Made: Mercedes-Benz EQS

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

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

Mercedes-EQ, EQS, V 297, 2021

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

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

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

Mercedes-EQ, EQS, V 297, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mercedes-EQ, EQS, V 297, 2021

Kleva Kluger Is A Hefty Hybrid.

Toyota’s near twenty year old Kluger nameplate is joining the Toyota family of Hybrids. The big petrol powered machine, which has never had a diesel option, weighs in at a hefty two thousand kilos (dry) in its forthcoming Hybrid form. It will become the eighth Hybrid for the Japanese company.

The Kluger will come in 2WD or AWD petrol, or AWD Hybrid, and the Hybrid has the Toyota 2.5L petrol, whilst the Kluger stays with the familiar 3.5L V6 capacity in a new engine block. There willbe three trims levels, with the GX 2WD petrol starting from $47,650, the GXL 2WD petrol from $56,850, and Grande 2WD petrol from $68,900. Move to AWD and pricing runs at: GX AWD petrol from $51,650,
GXL AWD petrol from $60,850, and Grande AWD petrol from $72,900. The Hybrid range starts from $54,150 for the GX AWD hybrid, $63,350 for the GXL AWD hybrid, and $75,400 for the Grande AWD hybrid. Premium paint is a $675 option, with the Grande offering a rear seat entertainment system at $1,500.Sean Hanley, the Toyota Australia Vice President Sales and Marketing, said the addition of a hybrid option to one of Australia’s favourite family SUVs demonstrated Toyota’s commitment to driving sustainability forward. “The popularity of SUVs continues to grow and the new Kluger hybrid models mean that families can have all the space, comfort, refinement and versatility of a large SUV with a low environmental impact. In addition to that, the stylish new look, improved safety and high level of advanced technology makes the Kluger the perfect SUV for the modern family.Power comes from the 2.5L four and a pair of electric motors up front, backed by a single rear mounted engine. Toyota says the Hybrid’s combined power is 184kW, with the petrol engine contributing 142kW itself. Torque isn’t quoted for the Hybrid, however 242Nm is the 2.5L petrol engine’s figure and emissions of 128g/km. Jump to the 3.5L and 218kW is backed by 350Nm with drive being passed through a new eight speed auto.

The Hybrid has an electronic continuously variable transmission (e-CVT). The e-Four AWD system allows up to 100 per cent of drive to be sent through the front wheels or up to 80 per cent through the rear, depending on the conditions being driven in. This Dynamic Torque Control AWD system, which effectively disconnects the rear diff when AWD isn’t required, will be available in the GX and GXL. The Grande also receives a torque vectoring system, splitting torque to left or right as required. There will be three driving modes too, with Eco, Normal, and Sport offering a breadth of choice. Also included in the AWD models is a terrain adjustable program for Rock and Dirt, Mud and Sand soft-roading.Underneath the wheelhouse, the new Kluger is built on an updated chassis, called Toyota New Global Architecture or TNGA platform. The wheelbase is increased by 60mm longer wheelbase as is the overall length. It’s also somewhat broader than the current 2021 model for more interior room and stability on road. The suspension has been redesigned with multilink front and rear setups, with better overall ride quality, better handling, and better behaviour under braking conditions. Bigger discs at 340mm front and 338mm add their presence.

An exterior revamp sees a lessening of the heavily squared-jaw look, with slim LED headlights and taillights, with the front fenders rolling inwards slightly at the top for a visual weight reduction. There is a new line for the rear wheel arches, with a sinuous curve rolling up from the doors that reminds of the current IndyCar rear structure. Wheels themselves will be 18 inch alloys on the GX and GXL, and bespoke Chromtec 20 inch alloys for the Grande.The increase in space means increased comfort and Toyota adds in sliding and 60/40 split centre row seats, with the seven seater having 60/40 split fold also. Trim material finish has gone up a grade with soft touch dash materials, a higher quality cloth trim in the GX, and faux leather for the GXL. That grade also has gained heated front pews. GX and GXL have an 8.0 inch touchscreen, Android and Apple compatibility with DAB and Bluetooth, plus satnav for the GXL along with tri-zone climate control. Grande adds in a sunroof, HUD, and an 11 speaker audio system from JBL.

GX has dual zone, auto headlights and rain-sensing wipers as standard. Five USB ports make for family friendly smart usage. The increased wheelbase adds up to increase the cargo and third row space as well. Also upped is safety, with Toyota’s Safety Sense gaining traffic sign recognition, intersection turn assist, and emergency steering assist across the three, backing up the already substantial safety package.

The current expected release date for Australia is June.

Overseas model shown, courtesy of Toyota

2021 Subaru XV S & Premium: Private Fleet Car Review.

Subaru in Australia positions itself as a niche player. That may well be the case but it also does the brand a disservice. For example, March of 2021 saw 4,212 Subarus sold, with over 10,700 on a year-to-date basis. That puts the brand, for the month and YTD, ahead of Volkswagen, Honda, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, and just over 300 shy of Nissan. It’s one of the brand’s best set of sales numbers.It’s an astounding result for the company here in Australia given the range is Outback, BRZ sports coupe, Forester, Impreza sedan and wagon, WRX, and Impreza wagon-based XV. There is no large SUV nor a two or four door, two or four wheel drive ute.We were able to drive, back-to-back, two examples of the late-2020 updated XV. In honesty, the naming system needs work, with a base model simply called XV, then L and a hybrid, Premium, then S and a hybrid version. S and then Premium is what we were supplied with however it would make more sense to change S to Premium and vice-versa.

For 2021 there have been some minor changes to pricing. The base model starts from $29,690 (up $450), with the L from $31,990. That’s an increase of $380. The Premium jumps by a heft $1,170 to $34,590, with the S up by $760 to $37,290. The Hybrids, now a pair rather than a single offering are unchanged at 435,490 and $40,790. These are not inclusive of on-road costs.Externally there are minimal sheetmetal differences between the two. The wheels themselves are different in design, plus have an inch of diameter in difference. The Premium has 17s, the S has 18s and a more striking design. The Premium sources rubber from Yokohama at 225/60, the S has Bridgestones at 225/55. A mid-life update in late 2020 saw minor tweaks to the front bumper and around the driving lights in the lower sections, plus a refresh of the grille.The Premium now has folding wing mirrors and they’re heated as well. The S has self-leveling headlights and they are auto on, as are the wipers. Unfortunately the Premium and below don’t have auto on lights, a safety issue in our opinion.

There is an extensive colour palette too, including Lagoon Blue for the Hybrids. There is Crystal White, Dark Blue and Horizon Blue, Magnetite Grey and Crystal Black, along with Cool Grey, Ice Silver, Plasma Yellow and Pure Red.On the road the pair have gained suspension updates too, with a change to the front providing a slightly more precise handling. The front has MacPherson struts & coil springs, with the rear having double wishbones. Although ostensibly there’s been no change to the rear it feels slightly softer and more compliant over the smaller ruts and bumps. It’s quick to damp out any intrusioons from the road however we did notice some bump steer and a slight skip sideways over road joins.Drivewise the engine and transmission are unchanged, with the 2.0L flat four working quite handily with the CVT. It’s modestly powered at 115kW, with torque a handy 196Nm. The trick to extracting the best from the CVT is to not go heavy and hard from the start on the accelerator.A light but progressive press seems to extract the best overall acceleration, with a linear growth in speed, rather than the more traditional feel of slipping under pressure.

There is manual shifting available via paddle shifts, which can be quite handy in certain driving conditions such as uphill traffic, providing the driver with more overall control. Having said that, the CVT in both did display some of the traits they’re known for, with sensations of surging at low speed, but we also have to say that they weren’t as noisy as we’ve experienced.The drive system now has the SI Drive, an electronic program that adds some sporting spice to the engine’s mapping and the the changes in the CVT’s seven preset ratios. The S mode sharpens the throttle response and the XV feels sprightlier, zippier, and makes for better highway manouvering. The steering itself has some weight to it, but not so that it’s fighting the AWD system. It’s quick in response, and is ratioed for a tight 10.8 metre turning circle. The AWD system is naturally well sorted with no noticeable pull from either end but the grip levels are noted when hunting corners at speed.

Economy on both finished smack on 7.0L/100km, equaling the quoted economy figure on the combined cycle. However, our figures were on a our traditional 70/30 urban to highway, with Subaru quoting 8.8L/100km for the urban cycle. It’s a reasonable highway cruiser, with the revs ticking over just below 2,000 at Australian limits. It’s quiet, too, with the engine only showcasing its metallic keen and the boxer warble from the exhaust when pressed.

Safety for the Premium sees the “Vision Assist” package added in, with the Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, automatic braking in reverse if an object is sensed, and a front view monitor via a left wing mirror camera. The whole range has seven airbags including a kneebag. All but the entry level version have the Eyesight package which includes Adaptive Cruise, Brake Light Recognition which alerts the driver to say the vehicle ahead has moved on, Lane Departure Warning, and Lane Keep Assist. The latter is less aggressive in its workings than that found in the two Korean brands. Tyre Pressure Monitoring is standard, however, across all models.The S ups the ante thanks to Subaru’s X-Mode, a preprogrammed soft-road mode for snow or mild off-roading. There’s a bit of extra “looxshoory” with memory seating for the driver, heating but no venting for the front seats, good looking stitching across the dash and binnacle, piano black gloss trim, and auto dipping wing mirrors.

The expected user controls such as Info on the lower left of the steering wheel remain, showing a multitude of options on the dashboard’s upper screen. The 6.3 inch main screen stays with its frustrating lack of information being fully displayed as in artist and song title, whilst otherwise remaining easy to read and use.Premium has cloth covering in the centre of the seats and it’s a funky mix of bright yellow stitching contrasting with the light grey cloth and black leather. The interior door handles have a faux carbon-fibre inset, with the S having a higher quality sheen. The S also has alloy pedals and footrest. The rear seats have a fold-out centre section with two cupholders.Neither have a charge pad for smartphones nor a powered tailgate. There are 12V sockets up front but no rear seat ports. Cargo space is 310L with the rear seats up, 765L when they’re folded. The spare is a temporary or space saver. With the XV being the same body as the Impreza hatch, but raised in ride height, it makes for loading the cargo bay just that little bit easier thanks to less bending down.There’s a five year and unlimited kilometre warranty on the XV range, with capped price servicing with prices available via your dealer. There is also 12 months complimentary roadside assistance, and three years satnav maps update.At The End Of The Drive. It’s an axiom of driving a car that you’ll suddenly see “thousands” of the same car all of a sudden. That was so true during our fortnight with the S and Premium, with an XV seemingly on every corner.

There’s good reason for that; the Subaru XV is a willing performer, well priced, and not a bad drive once the vagaries of CVTs are understood. Economy is a plus too, so the hip pocket pain is minimised. Not unattractive to look at in the driveway is another plus, making the 2021 Subaru XV the smart choice.

With thanks to Subaru Australia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Car courtesy of Hyundai Australia.

 

 

Haval H6 Update Is Value Added

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

2021 Haval H6

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

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

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

2021 Haval H6

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

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

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

Set up a test drive via your Haval dealer here.

2021 Haval H6

2021 Mitsubishi Outlander GSR PHEV: Private Fleet Car Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vehicle courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors Australia.