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It’s funny what we can forget to do or check sometimes.  There was one couple who forgot to put the drain plugs back into their boat when they re-launched it at a new mooring site – oops – next morning boat submerged.  I had a friend who got ready for duck shooting and travelled for hours out to the hunting lake – oops – forgot the gun.

So take a tip here, and when it does come time to trade up the old car for a new one, don’t forget to check out all the cars that sit in your price range because there are so many options available these days.  One bracket of cars that can get overlooked is the mid-range price.  You can get some pretty nice, stylish drives around the $50k–to-$80k mark.  If you can run to this many “jolly green giants”, then you’re going to go passed most Hyundai, Ssangyong, Ford, Nissan, Toyota, and Honda cars in search of something a little more exotic.  Yes, there are even a few BMWs and the odd Audi cars you can buy for this sort of money, but what about something a little rarer and interesting?

Here is a list of cars worth a look, and believe-you-me some of these cars are very nice, high-end luxury cars with plenty of performance, comfort and safety:

Genesis G70

Genesis G80

Genesis G70 and G80 luxury sedans can be had from around $59k and $68k, respectively.  These are competing with equivalent BMW and Mercedes cars now that are fetching much higher prices than these exciting Hyundai Genesis cars.  Hyundai is the maker of the premium Genesis brand.

Infiniti Q70

Infiniti Q70 sedans are hugely entertaining drives with superb quality, looks and performance.  And at around $68k these quick, stylish RWD or AWD cars are a steal but too often overlooked.

Jaguar XE

Jaguar XF

A new Jaguar XE and XF sedan can be had for around $65 and $82k respectively.  Offering awesome handling and great engines these are eye-catching, awesome drives.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Did you know you can own a new Jeep Grand Cherokee for around $59k!  Loads of kit, very luxurious, big on safety, and an on-road/off-road king!

Kia Stinger

Kia Stinger for around $47k!  Yes, you heard that right.  A genuinely quick car with hot looks like this could be yours.

Lexus 300h

Buy a luxury Toyota for around $60k, known as the Lexus ES 300h.  Yes, it’s a hybrid with all the very best comfort, safety, build quality and luxury that cars double the price offer you.  Oh, and it has Toyota’s premium reliability.

Land Rover Defender

Land Rover Discovery

Need a premium off-road king?  Get yourself a new Land Rover Defender for around $60k or a Land Rover Discovery for just a little bit more.

Mercedes Benz AMG A35

Mercedes Benz GLC SUV

The three point star makes an appearance even.  For around $69k a new Mercedes Benz AMG A35 can be had.  That’s “AMG” performance and hot A-Class Hatch looks with all the mod cons including the gigantic and gorgeous touchscreen dash, AWD and serious handling for less than $75k.  Wow!  Another Merc worth a look for similar poundage and kit is the Mercedes Benz GLC from around $67k.  This is an SUV with plenty of equipment that includes the glorious touchscreens.

Peugeot 508

A special and very eye-catching Peugeot 508 can be had for just $53k or thereabouts.  This special French look, special luxury and special performance is a steal at this special price.

RAM 1500

Coming in at less than $80k is a new RAM 1500.  You can’t drive by un-noticed in a vehicle as big and as mean as this.  Off-road: no problem; towing: no problem.  This vehicle means business!

Range Rover Velar

A new Range Rover Velar for less than $70k would be a stylish look.  All the 4×4 power, style and luxury is on-board this Land Rover flagship.

Tesla Model 3

Yes, you can buy a quick Tesla for this sort of dosh!  A new Tesla Model 3 can be bought in Australia for around $67k.  Oh, wouldn’t that be classy!

VW Arteon

Volkswagen makes some very nice cars, and one of these which is super stylish is called the VW Arteon.  You can own this hot looking Coupe for around $67k.  Peugeot 508 or VW Arteon for best looks?  Your choice…

VW Touareg

A new VW Touareg can be bought for around $80k.  That’s starting to get up there for money handed over, but what you get is a premium luxury SUV with loads of space, style and safety.  Off-roading and towing is no problem for one of these amazing machines.

Volvo v60

Volvo V90

Volvo XC60

Don’t forget the sexy new Volvo V60 (from $56k) and V90 (from $80k) station wagons.  So nice and so comfortable to drive, these are great machines for the family.  A new Volvo XC60 is available for around $62k, and with this model you get the Volvo comfort and style along with off-road capability.  Did I mention Volvos were safe?

The FCAI Releases March 2020 Car Sales Numbers

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries has today announced new vehicle sales figures for the month of March 2020 and not unexpectedly, it’s a story of sliding numbers. 81,690 vehicles were sold in the 31 days of March, with a breakdown of: 21,777 passenger vehicles, 39,171 SUVs, and 18,162 LCV (Light Commercial vehicles). That’s a respective market share of 26.7%, 48.0%, and 22.2%

What these numbers also showcase is a negative growth of 17.9% compared to March 2019 and the 24th consecutive month of falling sales. On a direct comparison of days available to sell, March 2020 sees a decrease of 17,752 vehicles compared to last year, and a daily decrease of 692 per day.

Toyota takes the top spot, with the Hi-Lux notching 3,556 sales and the brand itself selling 17,583. Mazda clocked second overall at 6,002, whilst Kia overtook its Korean relation, Hyundai, with 5,654 against 5,306.

Ford’s Ranger notched 3,108 sales for the second most popular vehicle bought, followed by the RAV4 from Toyota at 2,991. The Corolla wasn’t far behind at 2,812, whilst Holden finally had some sunshine, with Colorado finding 2,391 driveways to park in.

The Chief Executive of the FCAI, Tony Weber, said: “Many dealerships have opted to remain open to maintain support for customers, particularly from a service perspective, during this difficult period. Of particular importance are first responder and essential services vehicles. We must keep these vehicles on the road to ensure our communities continue to function and remain safe. In addition, we need to ensure those who physically attend their workplace can travel safely.

The motor vehicle is a safe form of transport during the pandemic, allowing occupants to preserve their personal distance from other commuters. Within dealerships, customer safety is of the highest priority, and automotive brands have initiated a variety of enhanced hygiene protocols and contactless consultations to maintain personal distance.”

The Passenger Vehicle Market is down by 7,222 vehicle sales (-24.9%) over the same month last year; the Sports Utility Market is down by 6,489 vehicle sales (-14.2%); the Light Commercial Market is down by 3,326 vehicle sales (-15.5%); and the Heavy Commercial Vehicle Market is down by 715 vehicle sales (-21.7%) versus March 2019.

Environmental, political, and economic factors are said to be behind the continued fall in sales.

(Information supplied by the FCAI)

2020 Toyota Fortuner Crusade: Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Toyota’s forgotten SUV. The Fortuner is a seven seater based on the HiLux, much like the Pajero Sport is a derivative of the Triton. There are three trim levels being GX, GXL, and the range topping Crusade. It’s exclusively diesel and auto, going up against the Kluger to provide the oiler option in the mid-sized SUV segment for the brand. First released in Australia in 2015 a manual was available in the GX and has since been dropped. The vehicle’s history goes back further, with an initial release of 2005 and for the South African market to start.

How Much Does It Cost?: $50, 322, $55,387, and $63,262 are the prices listed on Toyota Australia’s website. These are drive-away prices as of March 30, 2020. Add metallic paint over the standard white and the GX goes to $50,952, whilst the GXL is $56,017. $63,892 is the metallic paint price for the Crusade, which was in Crystal Pearl for our review vehicle. The tow bar, tow ball, and 7 pin wiring harness are a $751.43 option. A third party supplied the electric brake controller system.Under The Bonnet Is: Toyota’s well proven 2.8L diesel, with 130kW and 450Nm. The latter comes in from 1,600rpm and rolls of at 2,400rpm. The auto has just six ratios, leaving the Fortuner somewhat off the pace in this respect. It also means economy is off the pace, with an urban figure (rarely quoted by companies lately) of 11.0L/100km. Combined is 8.6L/100km and on the highway Toyota says 7.3L/100km. On our 80/20 urban/highway cycle, we saw a best of 9.2L/100km. Towing is rated as 2,800 kilos braked. Starting weight is 2,135kg for the Crusade.

On The Outside It’s: Largely unchanged since the initial release. It’s an awkwardly shaped profile; there’s a sharp, angular front, an odd kickline to the darkened privacy glass rear windows that starts in the second half of the rear doors, and blacked out C and D pillars. An insert to the rear bumper has a placing for the towbar. From the front it’s a narrow headlight structure with LED driving lights incorporated but only in the Crusade.

The Crusade has splashes of chrome for that upmarket look. The broad face is mirrored by the tail lights and feature a similarly angular shaped design. Underneath, the Fortuner Crusade has Michelin Latitude rubber, and are 265/60/18 on 12 spoke alloys. Sidesteps were also fitted and are standard across the three tiers.Overall length puts in firmly in the same ballpark as its competitors. It’s 4,795mm and rolls on a 2,750mm wheelbase. Width in total is 1,855mm whilst height is 1,835mm. The rear track is slightly wider than the front, at 1,555m compared to 1,540mm. It’s pretty much the same size as its stablemate, Prado.

On the Inside It’s: A not unpleasant place to be if you’re in the front row. The vehicle supplied had a dark brown leather trim, a shade not far off a cocoa or chocolate. As is the norm, the front seats were powered and heated. The tabs for the heating are almost invisible, being placed at the bottom of the centre stack. The steering column has paddle shifts for changing and are largely unused.What’s noticeable about the whole design of the dash and console is the replication of the Toyota logo. From either side horizontally is an elongated oval shape, whilst the centre stack has a pair of vertical pillars to mimic the vertical bar in a T. Inside is a four layer design, being a pair of air vents, touchscreen, aircon, and drive mode dial next to the heat switches and auxiliary sockets. These sit ahead of a pair of cup holders and these are somewhat awkwardly placed for usage.

There is no HUD for the driver and the driver’s display screen, save for the now standard centre section, is fully analogue. Backlighting is a deep electric blue. The tiller is standard Toyota with the tabs for information access on the right, audio on the left. Trim material in the Crusade are soft touch, well stitched, and of a high quality to look at and feel. The sound system has JBL speakers and added in on the upper surface of the dash. The tuning system Toyota uses in their touchscreens is not as user friendly as others, and demonstrably so in the Crusade. The preset stations in the DAB tuner were not Sydney based, and to re-initialise them took some time. There are also no apps for extra connectivity.The key interior feature of the Fortuner is the fitment of a pair of third row seats. The HiLux chassis underneath doesn’t appear to allow a proper floor mount, with the pair side mounted and designed to fold down. The actual strap to release is easy enough to undo but the weight of the seats can make them difficult for some to use. These are accessed via a powered tailgate door. There’s 200 litres of cargo room with the third row seats in place, and when the third row is folded there is 716L. All seats folded yields 1080L. This also corresponds to head and leg space, where they’re adequate but just adequate.The rear seats get a separate climate control set of switches and a 220V socket as well. Spread throughout the cabin are three 12V sockets. In the vehicle supplied, rubber floor mats were supplied.

On The Road It’s: Decently quick, a very good handler, and nicely weighted in the steering. Standing start acceleration should please anyone seeking almost petrol like performance from a diesel. This applies to overtaking however anything from around 2,500rpm has the Fortuner Cascade easily running out of breath. It’s perhaps here that an extra pair or trio of cogs wouldn’t go astray for better driveability.

For a diesel it’s comparatively quiet too. Even at revs between 3,000rpm to 3,500rpm is there much noise, rather, it’s a semi-muted chatter and not excessively intrusive. Underway the transmission backs the engine up nicely, with mostly smooth shifts. There’s more than the occasional jolt as ratios change, and there’s also some backlash in the rear diff every now and there. Downhill and the engine braking system comes into play, and holds the gear just that little bit too long. A flick of the paddle shift is needed to go down a gear.Going off-road in the Fortuner is as easy as twirling the centre stack dial. 4WD high range can be done of the fly, whereas for low range the gear selector must be Neutral to engage the transfer case. There is also a rear diff lock switch. Going back to 4WD high and 2WD needs a little more patience, otherwise the system effectively locks in low range. Select Neutral, go to 4WD high, and there’s a few clunks before the transfer case disengages. This then allows the next move to 2WD. If getting dirty then decent approach and departure angles are required, and here Toyota’s Fortuner offers 30 degrees and departure angle of 25deg. Breakover is 23.5deg and ground clearance is 225mm. It’ll get wet at up to 700mm.

The brakes, for our tastes, need a little more bite, but they will haul up the Fortuner well enough for most drivers. There’s also a little steering rack shake, and again it’s fine enough for most drivers. Bump-steer was noticeable on occasion as well. On road manners have good response from the steering under normal driving.What About Safety?: Toyota’s Safety Sense package, which features their Pre-Collision Safety system with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, Lane Departure Alert, High-Speed Active Cruise Control and Road Sign Assistance, is standard across all three. Downhill Assist Control and Trailer Sway Control are also standard, as are seven airbags. However Rear Cross Traffic and Blind Spot Alerts aren’t fitted, nor is Lane Change Assist.

What About Service And Warranty?: Five years is the warranty, and for service costs it’s capped at $250 for the first four on a six month or 10,000 kilometre cycle.

At the End Of the Drive. In comparison to the competing product driven the week before, the Fortuner Crusade has more pepp, more zip, more dynamically usable driving. It’s an unusually styled vehicle but it suffers most from invisibility. It’s overlooked in the overall scheme of things, especially within the own family situation. One has to wonder if a solid refresh wouldn’t be a bad thing…

We liked it however there’s just something holding it back, so check it out here.

More Motoring Matchmaking

We know that the number of cars on offer these days, both new and second hand, is pretty overwhelming. This is why we do our best to match up the right car with the right person. This is one of the reasons behind our car reviews, so you can get an idea of what each new vehicle coming onto the Aussie market is like (and quite a few second-hand ones as well, as our archive of car reviews goes back to 2008). Nevertheless, even this can be a bit daunting if you don’t know where to start.

Mercedes Benz Logo

It’s all very well for motoring enthusiasts who know their Mazdas from their Mercedes (what is the plural of Mercedes? Mercedi? Mercedeses? Mercedoi?). But what about those looking for a new car who don’t know quite so much?

Mazda Logo

To help out this category of people, we’ve put together a collection of stereotyped people along with their motoring needs and a suggestion as to what car would suit them best.  As before, if you can relate to one of these stereotypes but you already have a particular car in mind that you want, then you can go ahead and ignore the suggestion – or if you can’t stand the type of car we suggest for some reason (e.g. you object to the imagery of a particular logo, such as the serpent swallowing a humanoid figure of Alfa Romeo), then feel free to reject our suggestions!

This time, it’s the gents’ turn…

The Professor: David is known at his university for his brilliant research and for his lecturing style, which is full of digressions and tangents but still manages to be interesting… if you’re into applied mathematics.  In terms of motoring, David doesn’t need to carry much, except the laptop, a briefcase of students’ papers to be marked (yes, even in these online days, there are some of these) and maybe a suitcase to be carried to the airport before a conference.  With nearby conferences, he may take another passenger with him.  Whether he’s driving alone or whether he has a passenger, David’s brilliant mind often finds driving tedious and if he’s not careful, he will be a bit slow off the mark at red lights because he’s been finding the square root of the registration plate number on the car ahead of him.  There also have been a few close calls at intersections and lane changes.  As numbers do it for him and he has been known to use his own motoring habits as raw data, he’ll collect all sorts of statistics from the car’s trip computer and use them to make up real-life examples for his undergraduate lectures.

Suggested vehicle for David: Lexus ES, Audi A6, Volvo S90, Mercedes Benz E-Class, Skoda Fabia, Skoda Octavia, Mazda6

Volvo S90

The Sportsman: You usually find Bryan out on the rugby field or a field for any code of football, as long as it involves getting muddy and sweaty, and possibly bloody as well. Either that or you’ll find him in the showers afterwards. Bryan is generous minded and is the first to volunteer to drive everybody he can fit into a vehicle to an away game… and he gets a few laughs out of being the designated sober driver after the match who videos everybody’s drunken antics and posting them on social media (hopefully in a private message or on something less permanent like Snapchat). As ferrying a vehicle full of muddy, sweaty and possibly intoxicated adults can get a bit… fragrant… the vehicle should be easy to clean. A good sound system is a must for everybody to sing along to (or at least make a noise that can loosely be described as “singing” but sounds more like a donkey in pain).

Suggested vehicle for Bryan: Honda Odyssey, BMW 2-Series Gran Tourer, VW Touran, Toyota Tarago, Kia Carnival, LDV G10, Hyundai iMax, Peugeot 5008, Skoda Kodiaq

Kia Carnival

Cop Wannabe: Stephen loves cop shows and movies, and he nurtures a few dreams of entering the force. If Stephen wasn’t stuck behind the desk in his job as an accountant at the moment and loaded with mortgages and responsibilities, he’d sign up to train as a rookie. In the meantime, he tries to live his fantasy out when he’s behind the wheel, filling in time stuck in traffic daydreaming about being hot on the trail of a desperate criminal. This fantasy is particularly vivid when he’s got the family dog (an Alsatian, of course) in the back as his “K9 partner”.  If it’s his turn to carpool the kids, he has been known to tell some of these vivid stories, suitably edited for tender ears, to the kids to entertain them on the way.  During the ride, he is quick to pounce on infringements by other drivers and any misdemeanours by the kids, such as opening doors. He adores gadgets and telecommunications that play into his dreams of being contacted by a dispatcher, even if the dispatcher is the wife asking him to stop in for bread, milk and cat food on the way back from work.

Suggested vehicle for Stephen: Audi RS4, Audi A6 Avant, Volvo V60, Volvo V90, Subaru Levorg, Subaru Outback, BMW 5-Series Touring, BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Suzuki SX4, Land Rover Discovery, Mazda CX-9, Skoda Kodiaq

Audi A6 Avant

 

Korea Progression Part 2: Hyundai Drops Elantra In Australia, Becomes i30 Sedan.

Hyundai has revealed the seventh generation Elantra at a broadcast from a Hollywood studio site. In news more relevant to the Australian market, that long-running nameplate will be dropped, with the slightly bigger vehicle to be known as the i30 Sedan.

There’s been some substantial changes to the look as well. A redesigned front end has what appears to be Hyundai’s new signature look, with the turn signals more integrated with the headlamps and bonnets structures. Hyundai employ what they call “parametric-jewel body surfaces” for a more distinctive look and on-road presence. In profile a distinctive wedge shaped set of lines gives an impression of speed whilst stationary.The roofline extends rearward to give a more coupe styled impression and includes a thicker C-pillar. The rear deck is flatter and now has more visual cues to give a wider look. The roofline and the redesigned lights now also join together to provide a “H” signature look as viewed from the rear.

The seventh generation Elantra/i30 sedan is longer, lower, and wider than the previous model. Length goes up by 56mm, with a corresponding 20.3mm wheelbase increase. Width goes out by an inch or 25.4mm. Height is lower by 20.3mm and the cowl point at the windscreen moved by 51mm. Interior dimensions have increased though.

There’s some solid changes inside apart from the measurements. Hyundai have given the driver’s section an aeroplane like cockpit feel with a wrap-around design. There is also a pair of 10.25inch touchscreens. utility, driver assistance and navigation. The optional infotainment system displays a wide variety of useful information across its 10.25-inch split touchscreen, such as a bird’s-eye view in navigation maps, and drivers get connected routing depending on marketplace such as the U.S. or Europe. Connected routing provides multiple navigation options and real-time route updates. Server-based routing makes the onboard navigation experience similar to current smartphone navigation apps.Naturally Apple and Android apps will be available. The i30 sedan will also see what promises to be more common in cars. Dual Bluetooth streams allow phone calling and for audio interfacing simultaneously.

Voice activation will be available for the American market. This feature will be more for climate control and allows a user to say Climate on/off, Air conditioner on/off, Heat on/off, amongst others. Hyundai’s Digital Key, a smartphone app to allow keyless entry and exit plus starting the engine, should also be available.

It’s not yet known when the i30 will arrive in Australia apart from a current estimate of between July and December, 2020.

Ladies Looking For A Long-Term (Motoring) Relationship

It would be fun to run something along the line of a personalised matchmaking service but for cars, meaning matching people to cars. If you’re not a motoring enthusiast, the range on offer out there can be bewildering. What’s the best car for your lifestyle that’s going to suit you? While we might not be able to provide this sort of service – or at least not yet; we do our best to make the process of buying a great new car easy – we can at least describe a few lifestyles and types and make suggestions to help you find the new love of your life… in the automotive sense.

Of course, even if you can relate to any of these people, there may be other great cars out there that suit you to a T (whatever the T that suits you is) and that you love, so unless it’s totally impractical, you are allowed to go for it!

Ladies first, so here’s three typical, almost stereotypical, people and the sort of car that would suit each one best…

Busy Mama: Andrea has two children, aged 7 and 4, as well as a part-time job at the local dentist’s, where she works as the receptionist. Each day, she has to get the kids to school and kindy, get to work, then pick up the kids, get Jack to after-school soccer practice (and the match on Saturday morning), and grab some groceries a couple of times a week on the way home. A few nights a week, she leaves the kids with her husband and goes for a night out with the girls (lucky her!), which, at her stage of life, involves a book club but not the amount of alcohol that would put her over the limit to drive home. There’s the odd trip to the movies, shopping trip and visit to her mum’s to be done in the car as well.  The car has to be prepared for all occasions, meaning that the cabin and/or storage has to hold a few packs of nice healthy almonds or not so healthy muesli bars for emergencies when the kids are hangry, spare sweaters for when Jack left his at school, pen and paper for last-minute notes to the teacher, the reusable shopping bags, a lipstick, and somewhere to stash all the rubbish. then the groceries and school bags have to fit in as well. The budget’s a bit tight until little Violet starts school and Andrea can pick up more hours, so a frugal car is a must.

Best car for Andrea could be: Mazda 3 or a Mazda 2, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Hyundai i30, Suzuki Swift…

Mazda 3

Dog Lady: Meredith has been on her own for quite a few years now since the kids left home, got married and provided her with grandchildren.  For day to day purposes, the doggies are her children. Meredith has three dogs, each of which gets nothing but the best in the way of food, entertainment and medical care. Meredith is still active and mobile, but the dog park, where she chats to other doggy enthusiasts and lets the pooches have a good run, is a bit far for a woman of her age to walk with three lively dogs in tow.  When it’s not being used to ferry the dogs to the dog park, the grooming parlour or the vet, it is used to collect the groceries, most of which is jumbo packs of dog biscuits and doggy treats.  Now and then, it’s used to pick up some of the kids Meredith teaches piano to.

Best car for Meredith could be: Honda CR-V, Toyota Rav4 or Kluger, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi ASX, Subaru Forester or Levorg, Nissan X-Trail, Ford Mondeo Wagon, Mazda 6 Wagon, Holden Commodore Sportswagon, Peugeot 308 Touring or 3008, Volvo XC60 or XC90 or V90…

Honda CR-V

Gen Z Getting Started: Kristy has just finished her nursing qualification and is in her first job at the local hospital. The hours are long and it can sometimes be a hassle finding space in the staff carpark, but she’s enjoying the work, mostly. Exercise is a great way to shake off some of the stress, so Kristy often stops off at the 24-hour gym on the way, so her yoga mat, stretchy bands, trainers and lycra leggings are always in the car, except when they’re in the wash… which is usually done at the laundromat on the way home. On her days off, Kristy likes to hit the beach and catch a few waves on her surfboard, stopping at the farmers’ market for fresh produce (sourdough bread, check; organic avocado, check; free-range eggs, check… hope the suspension’s soft enough that the eggs don’t crack on the way back home).

Best car for Kristy could be:  Subaru Forester or Levorg, Nissan Qashqi, Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla Wagon or Hatch, Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, Hyundai i30, Mazda 2 or 3, Mazda CX-3, Renault Megane, Suzuki Vitara or S-Cross, Volvo V40, Volkswagen Golf, Skoda Rapid…

Subaru Forester

Is it Time we Scrap the Luxury Car Tax?

With the demise of the Holden brand now pencilled in for the end of the year, discussion has once again turned to the luxury car tax. That is, a measure that was introduced with the intention to help protect local manufacturers amid the slew of high-spec vehicles that one can only assume were deemed to be an ‘impediment’ to jobs and the economy.

With the 33% tax applying to imported vehicles less than two years of age and valued in excess of $67,525 including GST, or a threshold of $75,526 where that car consumes no more than 7L of fuel per 100km, the topic is right in the spotlight as motoring groups call for its abolition. However, the government has distanced itself from scrapping the luxury car tax, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg firmly saying, “we have no plans to remove that”.

Given the tax will contribute up to $720 million to the Federal Budget by 2022-23, it’s not like the government doesn’t have an incentive to prop up another tax as long as Joe Public foots the bill. That’s despite the fact that the tax has long been considered a thorn in the side of the European Union and any prospect of a free trade agreement being struck with Australia. But while the amount of tax proceeds may seem like a sizeable sum, the costs to administer the tax are arguably as much as what it reaps.

 

 

What other circumstances have changed?

One of the key differences now, as opposed to when the tax was first introduced, is that the new car industry is in its worst position since the Global Financial Crisis. Let’s not forget either, interest rates are truly at an all-time low. For approximately two years now, there have been continuous sales declines each and every month. Holden’s sales have been in the gutter for much of that time, dropping significantly, with buyers transitioning to SUVs and other more-affordable and reliable brands.

In addition, the impact of the tax on some of those hardest-hit by natural disasters has started to unfold. More specifically, many farmers have bought vehicles that are slapped with a luxury car tax – and no, they’re not driving around in Mercedes AMGs or Ferraris for that matter, but workmanlike vehicles such as the Toyota LandCrusier or Prado – yet all the while, the effects of the drought continue to weigh on their livelihood. Motorists are ultimately the ones who foot the bill for the LCT, even though it was designed to be absorbed by dealerships.

 

 

The reality of the situation

Frankly, at the end of the day, Australians shouldn’t be slugged to protect an industry that no longer exists. The local manufacturing industry, while beneficial from a jobs perspective, was artificially supported for longer than was ever realistic or sustainable. In fact, it’s easy to argue that the plug should have been pulled on the LCT earlier, back in 2017 when Holden ceased manufacturing operations.

Even if the government has a vested interest in maintaining an otherwise unnecessary tax, the mechanics of it just don’t make sense when not only has it not been tied to inflation, but we are supposed to be trying to encourage people to adopt fuel efficient cars. Yet, here we are, punishing motorists who purchase ‘eco-friendly’ vehicles. That the luxury car tax has lasted this long, is a true surprise, particularly if we’re keen about kick-starting consumer spending to underpin the economy. Let’s not even get started on those unnecessary import tariffs either…for now at least.

Ford Updates Their Escape Plan.

Ford’s entry into the mid-sized SUV market, Escape, has been given a new model and some updates to keep it fresh and in line with the competition. The 2020 Ford Escape line-up has a higher level of standard equipment, and is priced accordingly. There is a mix of all wheel, front wheel, and PHEV, being Escape FWD, Escape ST-Line FWD and AWD, plus a PHEV option, with the new Vignale in FWD and AWD. Deliveries are scheduled to start from Q3, 2020.The pricing matrix is thus: 2020 Ford Escape with a 2.0L EcoBoost engine and FWD, starts from $35,990 (manufacturers list price). Escape ST-Line from $37,990, with the AWD starting from $40,990. The PHEV starts from $52,940, with Vignale FWD and AWD from $46,590 and AWD from $49,590. Across the range is a 2.0L Ecoboost petrol engine, delivering 183kW and 387Nm, with power going to the tarmac via an eight speed auto. The PHEV, Ford’s first vehicle of this type in Australia, has a 2.5L petrol engine with an Atkinson Cycle design. On the electric side is a 14.4kWh lithium-ion battery which produces 167kW. Fuel economy is rated as an incredible 1.5L/100km. On a purely battery driven cycle, the range is up to fifty kilometres.

Standard equipment in the entry level makes for solid reading. 18-inch alloy wheels, a chromed five bar grille up front, LED headlights and tail lights, with an integrated spoiler on the tailgate’s top, whilst the 2.0L dumps via a pair of chrome tipped exhausts. A colour palette of 11 colours allows for good individualisation.

Extra standard equipment reads like a technology who’s who: push button start/stop, wireless smartphone charging pad, DAB audio via an 8.0 inch touchscreen, Ford’s SYNC3 command system with Apple and Android apps, voice command, and reverse camera. Sensors front and rear plus a handy window open/close command from the key fob add some real distinctiveness. There is also Ford’s bespoke FordPass Connect with app connectivity. This covers services that are designed to simplify the ownership experience. The app allows for roadside assist access, service scheduling and checking of service history plus, for the PHEV, charge station locations and on-the-fly charge level checking.Safety levels are comprehensive. The Escape list is: Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Evasive Steering Assist, Forward Collision Warning, Dynamic Brake Support, and Traffic Sign Recognition. Adding to the list is Blind Spot Detection (BLIS), Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Centring. whilst the driver has an Impairment Monitor System. Tyre Pressure Monitor, Adaptive Cruise, and an Emergency Assistance (000) call system round out the standard list of safety in the entry level. Extra safety is well packaged too: six airbags, seatbelt reminders, and ISOFIX seat restraints.

Warranty is five years and unlimited kilometres, with servicing being a 12 month or 15,000 kilometre cycle. A and B logbook services for the first four years/60,000km are set at a maximum of $299 per service. Ford’s Service Benefit, which includes a loan car, auto club membership, roadside assistance, and satnav updates, are also included.

Interior space has been increased. The new Escape is longer by 89mm, wider by 44mm, and the wheelbase has an extra 20mm. Shoulder room is up by 43mm, whilst front seat hip room is increased by 57mm. The second row, which can be slid forward or back, is up by 20mm and 36mm respectively. Overall height has been dropped by 20mm yet headspace is increased by 13mm up front and 35mm in the rear. Weight has been decreased by up to 90kg and torsional rigidity is up by 10%.ST-Line is the sports oriented model. Bespoke 18 inch alloys and grille, a sports style rear bumper and side skirts, plus a lowered suspension add to the look. A larger rear spoiler sits up at the roof’s rear and also brings black detailing inside and out. The roof rails are black which complements the headlining and belt mouldings. The driver has a 12.3 inch sports themed cluster and the steering wheel is a flat-bottomed item. A hands-free tailgate, front heated seats and Ford’s tech pack can specified as an option. The latter includes: Head Up Display, “matrix” headlights and an adaptive lighting feature. The Vignale gains an impressive list over the ST-Line. Advanced keyless entry starts the party, whilst the driver has a heated tiller and Head Up Display. Both front seats have ten way power adjustment and are heated. The second row has heating for the right and left seats whilst the rook shine sun in thanks to a panoramic glass insert. The tail gate is powered and hands free. Wheels are 19 inch alloys, with 20 inch alloys as an option. Headlights are self leveling LED quad-projector style and will bend in cornering. An exclusive colour, Blue Panther, is available to order.

PHEV, or Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, gains a partial leather trim, 10 speakers for the sound system, and a ten way powered driver’s seat. The ST-Line package is available as an option, with hands-free tail gate, front heated seats, and the tech pack.

Contact your Ford dealer for information.

So Much for Fuel Savings….

It’s no secret that a concerted effort has been made in many quarters of the automotive industry to push motorists towards more ‘sustainable’ cars that run leaner in terms of fuel consumption. Take a look at some of our favourite V8 models, which have slowly but surely been ‘downsized’ to a more efficient (turbo) four-cylinder or six-cylinder engine. Then, consider the prominence of hybrid or ‘eco-oriented’ vehicles, not necessarily here in Australia, but across the world.

However, what’s being overlooked from much of the discussion is the trend seeing more and more motorists step into SUVs all over the world. This is playing out in Australia as much as anywhere, with the segment now a clear frontrunner ahead of the once dependable passenger vehicle.

 

 

A closer look at the trend

On a global scale, it’s a trend the International Energy Agency (IEA) has taken aim at, citing the shift in buying preference as “the second-largest contributor to the increase in global CO2 emissions since 2010”. Surprisingly, that’s even more than ‘heavy’ industry, which is taken to include production of iron and steel, cement and aluminium.

The fact that SUVs, on average across all makes and models, consume more fuel than passenger cars will hardly surprise anyone. That’s long been a well-known consideration, even among many car buyers. But the broader picture, with such a shift towards ownership of SUVs, is not just offsetting ‘consumption reductions from increasingly efficient passenger cars and the growing eco fleet – it has wiped out those savings altogether.

In more specific terms, the IEA says “SUVs were responsible for all of the 3.3 million barrels a day growth in oil demand from passenger cars between 2010 and 2018, while oil use from other type of cars (excluding SUVs) declined slightly”. At their current rate of growth, SUVs could add another “2 million barrels a day in global oil demand by 2040, offsetting the savings from nearly 150 million electric cars”.

 

 

Where to from here?

These points make for an interesting outlook. On the one hand, many manufacturers are promoting their future vision for an electric and ‘efficient’ future, yet on the other hand, buying trends point to a picture where motorists are moving in a different direction. The clear absence of options in the electric SUV market further complicates the matter, with the majority of efforts to create efficient cars being angled at the passenger vehicle segment.

If we’re serious about addressing vehicle emissions, what’s the actual plan going forward? Sure, we each have our own ‘needs’ and preferences as far as the cars we drive, but what will be required to drive a collective effort to cut fuel consumption across the board?

Mitsubishi Expands Triton Range.

Mitsubishi has added two lifestyle driven models to the Triton range. Dubbed GSR and GLX-R, the titles are a mix of evocative history and a nod to the future. Companies are realising that for those that buy the big four wheel drive and off-road capable utes, they’re not necessarily being used for…off-road driving. They’ve become a lifestyle choice and the introduction of the pair mirrors that desire from a fickle market.

The GSR is perhaps the more visually worked over of the two and definitely leans towards the lifestyle, trend driven, marketplace. The wheels are black painted alloys and a diameter of 18 inches. The Mitsubishi “Dynamic Shield” is blacked out to provide a subtle, menacing, look. The headlight surrounds, skid plates, door mirrors, handles, and sidesteps are also all blacked out.

Inside there is the addition of a “Multi Around Monitor” with an activation switch on the steering wheel. The powered and heated front seats have leather trim, as do the steering wheel and park brake level &shift knob. There is an colourful option in the form of a tan orange highlight package. This will feature on the seats, console storage box, and console knee pads. Accessorising the GSR will be simple with the choice of three tonneau covers. There will be a soft, hard, and rollable cover available. A blacked out sports roll bar and tub liners will also be available.

The cost of the soft tonneau package is $2,699 (RRP) with the hard and roller style priced at $4,699 and $4,999 (RRP for each) respectively and also includes floor mats across the range.

Sliding into the gap between GLX+ and GLS will be the GLX-R. This is more restrained in finish, with 18 inch alloys also, fog lamps, and chrome finishes for the grille. door mirrors and handles, front bumper, and will be aimed at the driver that likes a more sophisticated look for their 4WD ute.

Pricing for the pair starts at $39,990 for the GLX-R with a six speed manual. A six speed auto kicks off at $42,490 and they’re both drive-away prices. The GSR is $50,990 without tonneau, whereas the soft cover starts at $52,990, and $54,990 for both the hard and roll cover versions. Premium paint is included on the GSR at a $740 value and prestige paint can be optioned for just $200.

Chat to your local Mitsubishi dealer or contact them via the Mitsubishi Australia website.