As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Buy A New Car

The Commodore To Be No More.

December 10th, 2019, will be the day that Australia was told of the passing of an icon. This is the complete PR release from Holden.

Holden is today announcing a modified portfolio dedicated exclusively to SUVs and light commercial vehicles.

Holden Interim Chairman and Managing Director, Kristian Aquilina, said the focus of the portfolio was consistent with customer preferences, with the Acadia, Trailblazer, Equinox and Trax rounding out a comprehensive SUV portfolio; and the Colorado tackling rivals in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment.

“Holden is taking this decisive action to ensure a sharp focus on the largest and most buoyant market segments. So far this year SUVs and Utes have increased to 76 percent of Holden sales, a trend we only see continuing,” he said.

The company has elected to retire the ZB Commodore and the BK Astra in 2020.

At its peak, the large car segment in Australia accounted for 217,882 sales in 1998. This year it is projected to come in at about 8,700 units.

“The SUV segment is approaching half a million units, and LCVs over 200,000 units. That’s where the action is and that’s where we are going to play,” Mr Aquilina said.

The new Holden boss also paid tribute to the Commodore nameplate and its place in the Australian automotive industry over time.

“The decision to retire the Commodore nameplate has not been taken lightly by those who understand and acknowledge its proud heritage,” he said.

“The large sedan was the cornerstone of Australian and New Zealand roads for decades. But now with more choice than ever before, customers are displaying a strong preference for the high driving position, functionality and versatility of SUVs and Utes.”

Sales and deliveries of Commodore and Astra will continue through 2020, albeit with diminishing model availability as part of an orderly runout.

Existing Commodore and Astra customers can be assured that Holden will continue to back warranty and roadside assistance commitments, with spare parts supply guaranteed well into the future.

In addition, all MY19 ZB Commodores and MY19 BK Astras ordered or delivered from today onwards will be subject to Holden’s market leading seven-year free scheduled servicing offer.

All arrangements for accessing warranty, servicing and spare parts for Holden’s entire model line-up via the Holden’s national dealer network remain the same.

Holden will be launching the MY20 Equinox in the first quarter of 2020 followed by a significant MY21 upgrade to the highly regarded Colorado to launch in Spring. Holden will also lodge production orders to GM’s Bowling Green factory for the highly anticipated mid-engine right-hand-drive Corvette next year.

These sentences have sparked furious debate between supporters and detractors, with one common theme being “why didn’t they call the Commodore something else” after local manufacturing ceased in 2017. Then there are comments about a lack of relevant marketing for the ZB, indifferent dealership service, lack of support for just-out-of-warranty issues, balanced against “it’s not a real Commodore” due to the lack of V8, ute and wagon, and the shift to front wheel drive. Toss in a mix of “football, meat pies, kangaroos, and Holden cars” as Australian made before the inexorable slide to very little of the VF actually being manufactured in Australia, and the anger and frustration levels of people becomes ever more evident.

What will remain is also divisive. The ZB Commodore was a bloody good car. But it was also never given a real chance at survival for a number of reasons. Ignorance and bias are two, and more’s the pity as it’s fair to presume detractors that decried its front wheel drive layout would not have taken the time to test drive it, and find out it actually drove like a Commodore.

Holden Commodore. Born 1978. Died painfully in 2020.

Are PHEVs Set for a Boost?

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEV for short, have been pushed to motorists as a more ‘sustainable’ driving option. Boasting an on-board engine and generator that can power a rechargeable battery, advocates have argued that they offer emissions benefits and potentially lower operating costs for drivers.

Not everyone remains convinced however. Popularity for PHEVs has largely meandered along in recent years, despite this growing push for ‘eco-friendly’ driving. Although the category is starting to account for a larger proportion of electric passenger cars, if you ask many motorists, one of the prominent concerns for the technology has been limited driving distances (range).

In what could be welcome news for some, one development may see an improvement in this area.

 

ZF EVplus concept

The ZF EVplus concept was unveiled at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, incorporated within a BMW 330e. Having stripped the existing 7.6kWh battery, ZF installed a 35kWh replacement unit to provide power to the vehicle.

As you might guess, this corresponds with a decent bump up in power, but also a marked increase in the vehicle’s driving range when placed in all-electric driving mode. The jump takes it from approximately 30km range to more than 100km, which is a sizeable improvement, particularly considering this incorporates real-world operating conditions.

This new driving range is said to exceed the sort of performance milestones achieved by some of the latest competitors, including the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, as well as other electric models from the Mercedes-Benz and BMW stables.

 

 

Will it make driving more practical?

This is ultimately the million dollar question. Although 100km might not sound like an extensive driving range, let’s not forget this is when the car operates as an electric vehicle. PHEVs still have an internal combustion engine that can work as required, which is not the case for fully battery electric vehicles (BEVs). On top of that, most drivers don’t actually commute these sort of distances each and every day, or at least without an opportunity that they might be able to plug in the vehicle to top up its range.

So with either option to fall back on, for most motorists, some would say the concerns are overblown, and driven by behavioural conditioning. That is, we’ve become accustomed to driving the way we do, so we’re reluctant to change that to other methods.

This sort of development opens the way for a new era of PHEVs to enter the market in the not too distant future. However, the key obstacle for manufacturers’ lies with breaking through perceptions, and creating affordable PHEVs. If motorists cannot understand nor appreciate the appeal and attractiveness of PHEVs, then it is naïve to think that such cars can command the price premium they currently do.

2019MY Jeep Wrangler Overland: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: A slightly updated version of the overhauled Jeep Wrangler range that Australia received in mid 2019. That change occurred between December 2018 and early 2019 in the manufacturing process, and it was the addition of a forward facing sensor for anti-collision technology. The range itself covers the Overland in the middle, Sport S at the beginning, the range leading Rubicon. The Overland tested was also given the coveted “Trail Rated” badge. Jeep says this means: “The new Jeep “Trail Rated” badge indicates that every Jeep 4×4 has been designed to perform in a variety of challenging off-road conditions identified by five key consumer-oriented performance categories, including Traction, Ground Clearance, Manoeuvrability, Articulation and Water Fording.”How Much Does It Cost?: The list price is $63,950 plus on road costs. That’s as of November, 2019 for the MY19 version. Check with Jeep for the 2020 spec. The Wrangler range comes in a two and four door for the Sport S and Overland.

Under The Bonnet Is: 209kW and 347Nm of 3.6L V6 Pentastar petrol engine. Only the top of the trio Rubicon has a diesel option. Transmission in the Overland is an eight speed Selec-Trac auto and there is no manual available in the range. All Jeeps have a transfer case that offers 2WD, 4WD Auto, and high and low range. Our final economy figure was 11.7L/100km which worked out to be better than Jeeps quoted 13.0L/100km for the urban cycle. Tank size is 81L. That’s for the Sport S and Overland four door body. the two door versions have a 66L tank.On The Outside It’s: Oh so familiar with the round (and LED powered) headlights, squared off guards and stance, plus that seven bar grille. The doors, roof, and windscreen are removable and foldable in the case of the front screen. The driving and rear lights (in the traditional squared off housing) are also LED for the Overland. The rear gate is different in that the bottom door opens horizontally and has to be opened first to allow access to the top door. The wheels on the Overland at 18 inches in diameter and are wrapped in Bridgestone Dueler H/T 255/70. Big, solid looking, strong plastic steps run between the front and rear wheels. The black on the review vehicle contrasted nicely with the brushed satin alloy look og the wing mirror surrounds, driving light surrounds, and subtle enhancements to the grille.

What’s somewhat surprising about the Wranglers is just how small they are. Small in the context that they’re just 4,334mm in length, and pack inside that a 2,459mm wheelbase. Height is what makes the Wrangler look bigger, especially in the deep metallic black the review car was covered in. 1,839mm is the number here, and from the front the 1,894mm is obvious. The front has a very obviously American spec front bumper, protruding forward like a caricature’s chin. There is still 35.8 degrees of approach angle however. Departure is rated as 31.2 degrees, and breakover is 20.4. Wading depth is 760mm.On The Inside It’s: Far from the spartan look and feel once reasonably expected of a dedicated off-road capable vehicle. The overland has superbly supple black McKinley leather and an embossed Overland logo. The seats are beautifully comfortable, but are manually adjusted. That’s no bad thing though. Naturally there are grab handles for the front seat passengers, and the Wrangler Overland stays true to its basic roots by having a strong cloth strap as the door’s restrainer, not a mechanical option in the hinges.

It’s a beautiful and elegant design to the dash. and a highlight is the use of “old school” rotate and flip” airvents. This simple design allows airflow to be sent to any direction by twirling a circular and slotted design. Effective and ridiculously so. Front and centre is an 8.4 inch touchscreen that is also ridiculously simple to use. Climate control, satnav, and an beautifully tuned Alpine nine speaker DAB audio system are stars, and the audio is possibly the second best for depth, clarity, and stage presence, that we’ve heard. The materials used on the Overland’s dash look and feel premium, and it instantly said “welcome to your new home”. This gets backed by a 230V socket for the back seat, plus USB and USB-C plugs, and remote starting to get the aircon up and running.For the driver, it’s a design that can only be described as smart, clever, historic, and, yes, elegant. There is an LCD screen that shows multiple forms of information, but a small section on the left is cleverly blanked into a separate display to show which actual drive mode the Wrangler is in. A Jeep logo also shows briefly on the screen. A nice little touch is the compass information built into the rear vision mirror. It shows N, S, NW etc in a simple backlit font. A not quite so nice touch is the fact all four power window switches are one touch for down, but have to be held for the upwards travel. They’re also located in the centre of the vertically oriented dash, not in the driver’s door. The front guards aren’t also visible from the driver’s seat so sometimes it’s a bit “guessworky” to gauge where the fenders are.

Build quality for the body was tight, with no squeaks, rattles, or other extraneous noises that shouldn’t have been there. That included the removable roof panels, with a flick-twist lever to lift off. But there was a glitch with the driver’s seat belt mechanism. Seatbelts have a safety mechanism, one that tightens the belt before an impact. They also have a mechanism that allows a passenger to pull the belt out to buckle in. In this car, the mechanism simply refused, on numerous occasions, to release the belt to strap in.On the Road It’s: Somewhat spongy in the ride and loose in the steering. The sponginess comes from the high profile dual purpose rubber, and the steering….well. It really could do with being tighter for our market. What also needs tightening is the tolerance for the brake pedal. It’s one of the longest we’ve had for response and grip. Long, in the sense that there’s well over an inch of travel before bite, and it goes longer down the path before grip really improves. It’s these two areas that detract, and unfortunately quite a bit, from an otherwise engaging and enjoyable drive experience. Acceleration is decent enough, and there’s a satisfying rort and snort from the engine and exhaust. The off-rad capability is access via a lever on the left of the gear selector, and it’s a simple to use system. Neutral, select, go. And there’s no doubting the agility of the Overland thanks to that Trail Rated badge.What About Safety?: It has a good package. Front and rear sensors, airbags all round, plus Rear Cross Traffic Detection and Blind Spot Monitoring. Trailer Sway Control and Forward Collision Assist are there too. Tyre Pressure Monitoring is an essential item for vehicles such as this and this proved its worth thanks to an invisible nail in one tyre. the Reverse Camera is handy and the touchscreen’s HD capability makes reversing easier due to the clarity. Unseen is the high tensile strength steel that underpins the chassis rigidity and side panel strength.And The Warranty and Service?: Jeep offer a five year warranty on their range. Servicing costs are capped and here Jeep recommends contacting a dealer for your specific pricing.At The End Of The Drive. The Jeep Wrangler Overland delighted. That in itself was unexpected, and yes, that can be seen as damning with faint praise. Loose steering and spongy ride aside, it’s a delight to drive, and the ambience of the interior makes being in it to drive an enjoyable experience. It’s a long way from the sparse and spartan interiors, and indifferent build quality of years gone by. The tech features, comfort level, and the well proven off-road ability from its heritage made the time the Wrangler spent with us thoroughly engaging and drew a wry grin from a family friend who’d bought the same model, but just prior to the Forward Collision Warning system being made available. The Jeep Wrangler range and information can be found via the Jeep website.

2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan Is Here.

Toyota has released details of the forthcoming Corolla sedan. Due to be released by the end of November, the range and pricing is as follows. Ascent Sport petrol manual: $23,335, Ascent Sport petrol CVT: $24,835, Ascent Sport hybrid CVT: $26,335, SX petrol CVT: $28,235, SX hybrid CVT: $29,735, and the ZR petrol CVT: $33,635. All prices are manufacturers recommended and not inclusive of government and dealer charges.

All CVT equipped models will feature a solid safety package. Lane-trace assist with steering assist, plus lane-centring functionality and all-speed active cruise control, with the manual Ascent Sport featuring high-speed active cruise control and lane departure warning that has steering assist. Rear camera and seven airbags will be across all models, whilst the SX has Blind Spot Monitor and the ZR will received a Head Up Display. Toyota’s SafetySense package is standard. This includes autonomous emergency braking pre-collision safety system with daytime and nighttime pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, auto high beam, and road sign assist.The Corolla Sedan will feature, for the first time, a hybrid drivetrain. This will be available on the Ascent Sport and SX versions. A new 2.0L petrol engine can be specced for all three trim levels, with a six speed manual or a CVT with ten preset manual shift points in the Ascent Sport. It will be connected to the CVT as standard in the SX and ZR. Maxiumum power is rated as 125kW and peak torque is 200Nm. 6.0L/100km and 6.5L/100km for the CVT and six speed manual respectively.

Choose the hybrid and the petrol side is a 1.8L engine and what Toyota call a e-CVT. Power is rated as 90kW. It’ll drive the front wheels, with all four corners to have low rolling resistance rubber. All up, Toyota quoted 3.5L100km. Emissions are rated as just 81g/km.

Toyota will add dusk sensing LED headlights, rear lights, and daytime running lights to all versions. Alloy wheels and climate control will be standard across the range except for the manual Ascent Sport. This will have manual aircon. For those that use them, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will now be standard and accessible via an 8.0inch touchscreen. Bluetooth and Siri eye-free functionality will also be standard. Go hybrid and it’s a keyless Start/Stop.

The SX Corolla sedan will have a new three-spoke tiller with paddle shifters. Wireless smartphone pads are standard in the SX along with DAB and satnav. The ZR goes up a notch with a full glass roof, 18 inch alloys, and the front seats will be heated. Again, Australia misses out on venting, an oversight for our climate in summer. The driver’s seat will be 8 way power adjustable and audio is via a JBL 9 speaker system.Outside is a restyle that brings the sedan’s look closer to the needle nosed hatch, whilst the rear has been refreshed as well.

Servicing costs have been aligned with the hatch, meaning every Corolla has capped price servicing that costs just $175 per service with 12-month/15,000km intervals. Contact your Toyota dealer to book a test drive.

Are New Cars Becoming Too Easy to Steal?

As more new vehicles come to the market boasting the latest and greatest technology, manufacturers are looking to simplify the driving experience. This means getting you up and running with easier access to your car. So, what’s one of the prominent solutions?

Well, this has translated into keyless entry and push-button ignition becoming commonplace across the latest models. That’s not to say it was ever difficult to use a key, but clearly the boffins behind this technology thought that was getting all too cumbersome. So with the traditional and trusted key now looking lonely on the outer, is everything actually all fine and well?

 

The risk associated with keyless entry

Not everything may be as it seems. In some corners there is a growing chorus of industry experts suggesting that today’s new cars are becoming too easy to steal. How, you might ask, as you look quizzically down at your keyless entry remote. Well, that very device is among the design aspects that some have reasonable grounds to be concerned.

This new generation of remotes transmit wireless signals that are automatically picked up within a proximity of the vehicle. As these transmitters work in much the same way as any other device that emits a code over a certain frequency, they are not necessarily immune from interference. And while it may not sound the easiest workaround, the risk remains, a device configured to pick up and read these frequencies has the ability to mimic the remote and replicate those very codes to the same effect.

How realistic is the problem?

Sure, you can lock your car, but a keyless entry remote will continually transmit a code in anticipation that you will return to your car at some point and access the vehicle without retrieving the remote. Some manufacturers have embedded additional safety features, such as PIN-activated ignition, a motion-activated fob that is immobilised when no longer moving, or a remote that broadcasts across a wider range of frequencies.

Now if you’re thinking all this sounds highly preposterous and a convoluted way to steal a car, you may want to pause on those thoughts. Check out this field test from What Car, or this one from Which. In what is likely to be surprising news to many drivers out there, some of the market’s most premium vehicles are susceptible to being ‘stolen’ in under 30 seconds.

For now manufacturers are continuing to work on refining and improving the technology, but it’s important to understand, the latest tech does not necessarily mean the greatest tech. In the meantime, you may want to consider requesting your dealer disables that keyless entry remote, or you take to buying a Faraday Bag to shield the remote from emitting electromagnetic signals. Sometimes keeping it simple truly is better.

 

2019 Hyundai Elantra Sport: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The latest version of Hyundai’s long running Elantra, formerly Lantra, nameplate. It’s a small mid-sizer sedan and recently was given a mild facelift. It’s a sister car to the Kia Cerato and comes in a four tier, two engine, manual or DCT auto range. The range consists of Go, Active, Sport, and Sport Premium.Under The Bonnet Is: A 1.6L turbo in our test car, with a seven speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), with manual shift options driving the front wheels. There’s a fair bit of oomph available here, with 150kW @ 6,000rpm, and torque of 265Nm between 1,500rpm to 4,500rpm. It’s EURO V compliant and runs on standard E10 unleaded. Our overall average was 7.1L on a mainly urban cycle with Hyundai quoting 7.0L/100km for the combined, a far too high 9.9L/100km on the urban, and 5.8L/100km for the highway. On one highway run the fuel meter appeared to indicate just 4.9L/100km.

The other engine is a 112kW/192Nm 2.0L MPI and a six speed manual the other transmission. Fuel tank is 50.0L.How Much Does It Cost?: The Go kicks off the range at a very nice $20,990 driveaway for the manual, $2K more for the auto. Premium paint is $495. Add $5,000 for the Active before the Sport starting at $32,600 and the Sport Premium at $35,200.


On The Outside Is:
A familiar shape, with a refreshed front and rear. It’s the front that has received the most attention and it’s a personal taste thing. It’s not unpleasing, by any measure, but there are a couple of angular aspects that seem at odds with the otherwise curvaceous body. The front lamps have been refined to a sharp triangle with LED driving lights housed within. the Sport also has a full suite of LED main lights. The sharpest point on the triangle now goes inside the “Cascading Grille” which sits between “Z” shaped supports, which on the Sport house the indicator lamps.The bonnet runs back to a steeply raked windscreen before finishing in the familiar coupe-style rear windowline. The rear lights have also had the makeover wand waved, with these also slightly sharper and a leading edge further into the rear flanks and bootlid. A pair of side skirts and a pair of crease lines on each side add some extra visual appeal. The windows themselves are shallow yet from the inside still offer plenty of breadth for vision.

Our test car came supplied with truly stunning alloys, with a crossover two by ten spoke design in silver and black. Michelin supply the Pilot Sport 225/40/18 rubber and they’re superbly grippy and absorbent. Sheetmetal was in Pearl White. This colour perhaps highlights the lithe profile of the Elantra, masking its surprisingly long 4,650mm length. That’s helped by a diminutive 1,450mm height. There’s plenty of shoulder room (1,427mm/1,405mm) thanks to 1,800mm in width.On The Inside Is: An interior familiar to anyone with exposure to the Korean brands. However, in the Sport, Hyundai have gone for a bit of spice with red leather on the seats and door inserts (a $295 option), a flat bottomed leather clad steering wheel with red alignment stripe, and alloy pedals. The red looks and feels great, and breaks up an otherwise solidly black colour scheme. By the way, the seats are manually adjusted, not powered, nor are they vented or heated. The Sport is push button Start/Stop. When it comes to indicating, here there’s something that isn’t 100% safety conducive. The spec sheet says the indicators are a soft touch setup, with 3, 5, or 7 flashes. We fully support a setup that has no option than on or off, as far too many drivers don’t provide the required “satisfactory indication” in lane changing. This also applies to the headlight switch. Auto should be the minimum, with no Off option.The dash is as cleanly laid out as you can get, with space between tabs and buttons, white print on the black background, and an in-dash, not on-dash, eight inch touchscreen. the driver’s dials are analogue, bracketing the now standard info screen activated via steering wheel controls. The aircon controls have had their housing revamped and to use them is an exercise in simplicity. Underlying the screens and tastefully chrome trimmed air vents is a strip of carbon-fibre look material joining each side.Familiarity comes in the form of a pair of 12V sockets and a USB port directly below the aircon controls, a U-shaped surround for the gear selector and a button housed here for the drive modes. There are air vents but no USB ports for the rear passengers. They also have up to 906mm of rear leg room, with 947mm of head room. Cargo space is a minimum of 458L and the boot is operated via the key fob.The audio system is DAB compatible and the speakers are from Infinity. It’s an impressive setup and really showcases the clarity of DAB in full reception areas. Naturally Bluetooth streaming is standard, as are the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay apps. There is no smartphone charge pad (Premium has it) and no electric parking brake. That last one, personally, isn’t a deal breaker. What is a niggle is the boot lid release mechanism. Although the fob has a button, it’s also supposedly engineered to wireless release the lid by standing behind the car for a hands-free operation. This, though, has to be enabled via the Menu system in the car. A few tries and not one successful activation. The interior handle also failed to pop the lid. When opened though, the cargo floor can be lifted to reveal the space saver spare.On The Road It’s:Fluid in the way the engine and transmission work. The caveat here seems to apply to just about every DCT driven of late: it needs to warm up before it’s as smooth and slick as the technology promises. In this car, from a cold start, it was noticeably jerky and hesitant, and also exhibits the typical gap between engagements of Reverse to Drive or Park to Drive. Getting off the line also showcased the issue with DCTs, with minimal engagement seeing a slow pace before the clutches engage.

Once everything is working, it’s as it should be. And, again, the gears are better for changing by using the manual shift option. It’s a crisper, more reactive, change, and the computers even allow changes at lower rev points from the engine. That 265Nm doesn’t seem a lot, but considering a 2.0L turbo averages 350Nm, and the weight of the Elantra Sport starts at just under 1,400kg, it’s plenty to keep the performance percolating. It’s a free and willing spinner, the 1.6L, and well proven in other cars across the Hyundai and Kia range.

The three drive modes were largely ignored as Normal, the default, is far better than adequate. Eco would suit any long distance highway drive but Sport, ironically, is virtually redundant unless punting the Elantra Sport in a track day environment. The steering is fingertip perfect, with a weighting that is Goldilock’s porridge. The same applies to the suspension. As always, Hyundai’s engineers spend months sorting spring and shock combinations, and it shows. The MacPherson strut and multi-link rear are supple, compliant, reactive to body movement instantly meaning body roll is non existent, and the usual minor road imperfections are disappeared. It’s deft and adept, and offers sharp handling without compromising comfort.Rough roads have the short tyre-wall Michelins humming through noise, but on the newer and smooth blacktop, it’s quiet. The Sport lives up to its name with these tyres, with maximum grip in the tighter corners, and almost non-existent understeer at normal driving velocities. Go harder in legal situations and there’s no doubt at all that these tyres will be there and have your back. this same exuberant driving allows the free spinning engine to breathe and dump its spent gasses with a bit of rasp. It’s subtle but adds a bit of aural backup to the Sport nameplate.

When it comes to safety, the active Lane Keep Assist is perhaps a little too willing to move the tiller. It’s not a gentle pull, it’s a toddler’s impatient tug on the trouser leg, and can catch lesser experienced drivers unaware. However it’s easily switched off via a tab near the driver’s right knee.

What About The Safety?: Along with the aforementioned Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Collision Warning is standard, as is Forward Collision Avoidance Assistance for city and urban drives. The spec sheet doesn’t state that Autonomous Emergency Braking or Smart Cruise Control are available.

Warranty And Service Are?: Five years as standard for the warranty however Hyundai are (at the time of writing) offering a seven year warranty. Hyundai also offer prepaid servicing which is factored into the purchase price. The Hyundai website has more information.At The End Of the Drive: It’s a great four seater and an excellent family car. There’s plenty of performance, grip, and the edgy good looks complement the drive, plus draw the eye. The DCT is a corker when warmed up and using the manual shift but still has the same DCT hiccups found anywhere these gearboxes exist. It’s well priced and with the added (at the time of writing) appeal of an extra two years warranty, should be on the shopping list for anyone looking for a very competent small to medium sedan.

Millennials, It’s Your Fault New Car Sales Are Sliding…Apparently

The sharp drop in new car sales throughout 2019 has had no shortage of publicity, particularly now that 18 consecutive months of declining figures have come through. Over that time we’ve heard from experts as to a variety of factors that have contributed to the rut.

From political uncertainty before this year’s election, to a tightening in lending regulations, a weakening economy led by subdued house prices, the effects of a drought, and believe it or not vehicle shipments contaminated by little bugs! Now you can add another ‘explanation’ to the list because millennials, it’s your fault new car sales are sliding…apparently.

 

The underlying trends

You see, the shifting trends among millennials are pointing to a change in views towards car ownership. Younger Australians are holding onto their first vehicle for a longer period of time, or otherwise putting their driver’s licence on the back burner. There is testimony from some industry insiders to suggest that millennials are less comfortable with the idea of a loan than previous generations given a tendency to spend more to stay up to date with the latest technology or to fuel travel and entertainment aspirations.

The prompts are largely coming about through the influence of technology, including the role it is playing on behavioural patterns. First and foremost, the rise of apps like Uber and Ola have reduced dependency on individual vehicle ownership, instead promoting the benefits of a flexible ride-sharing fleet. Online food and grocery services follow the same notion, where a few simple touches on a mobile phone are enough to avoid making that trip to the supermarket.

At the same time, we’re also seeing far greater levels of urban consolidation take place in our major cities. Given the significant rise in house prices since the end of the GFC, many millennials are forgoing the Australian dream to own a home. An increasingly popular choice of action is to rent in highly desirable locations, which typically translates to inner city living or convenient public transport links nearby – both reducing dependency on vehicle ownership.

Finally, vehicle subscription services and peer-to-peer car sharing are becoming more commonplace in this demographic segment as well. A variety of companies have latched onto this trend, allowing anyone to borrow a car from a friendly stranger in their neighbourhood. Who would have thought it would be possible all those years ago?

 

Is there more to it than meets the eye?

Notwithstanding the trends that are taking place, the conversation has really only started to emerge in recent months. Look a little further back however, and what you realise is that new car sales were coming off an all-time high. Quite frankly, a level that some would argue may well turn out to be a short-term peak, or an otherwise unsustainable level once evidence of a slowing economy emerged. These trends have been occurring for some time now, so should have been observed earlier on sales data.

Furthermore, many of these trends are being attributed to millennials, but they sure as heck aren’t the only ones nurturing such changes. Those who have been brought up through these technological and societal changes become an easy target to point the finger at for ‘leading the way’ so to speak, but if this was really at the heart of the matter, then a range of buying incentives should suffice among other demographics to offset this decline.

But the facts remain, we’re seeing high levels of population growth, the lowest interest rates on record, and vehicle prices as affordable as they’ve ever been before. If those initiatives aren’t getting other buyers into the market, to offset a supposed wane in interest among millennials, where does the fault really lie?

 

2019 Toyota C-HR: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 Toyota C-HR. It can be seen as an alternative companion to the RAV4. Alternative because it’s a different option, companion becuase it’s a five door SUV that seats five. It’s a two-model range, with the Koba as the other entry. Under The Bonnet Is: A turbocharged 1.2L petrol engine. There is a manual transmission or CVT for the entry level, CVT only in the Koba. Opt for the CVT and it’s front wheel or all wheel drive for a choice. Peak power is 85kW between 5,200rpm to 5,600rpm. Torque is a bit more useable, with 185 of them between 1,500rpm and 4,000rpm. Economy is quoted as 6.3L/100km on the combined cycle. On our urban drive we saw a best of 7.4L, and a worse of 7.9L/100km. Recommended fuel is 95RON. There is no paddle shift in the base model, just the transmission selector for manual shifting.What’s It Cost?: Toyota’s website says the 2WD starts from around $30, 500 in Hornet Yellow. Head to a metallic colour and that goes to just over $31K. The AWD will start from around $34,700. You’ll get a five year and unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing can be booked via the myToyota app.

On The Inside Is: A reasonable amount of standard equipment and safety features for the ask. It starts with something basic but useable in the shape ofI an auto dimming rear vision mirror. There are auto headlights, dual zone aircon, but no DAB in the overly boomy audio system. The 6.1inch touchscreen system has a CD to make up for the lack of digital radio, plus USB & Bluetooth connectivity. Satnav and voice activation are also standard is the ToyotaLink app function.SafetySense is the name Toyota give to their suite of driver aids, and the C-HR has Lane Departure Warning, Auto High Beam, Blind Spot Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Autonomous Emergency Braking and Active Cruise Control are standard as well, as are seven airbags.Trim material in the C-HR is black and black. This may make the interior somewhat claustrophobic for some, as there is a hunchbacked look thanks to the rear window line being steeply sloped. There is some triangular shaped embossing in the roof lining which matches the interior light above the manually operated front seats and mirrors the rear light design. For the driver there is a sense of having their own office space. the dash sweeps around from the window to the centre stack, and this faces towards the driver’s seat. Trim here is of a piano black and there’s some smartly integrated buttons for the aircon controls.On The Outside It’s: Not unpleasing but definitely one example of beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is down to the profile. The rear roof line slopes dramatically forward from the tail lights, which can compromise interior headspace for taller people. There’s a huge roof-lip spoiler too, which in the Hornet Yellow is noticeable. The wheel arches and guard are pumped out from the body and these are defined by strong crease lines coming down from the windscreen and rear window.

Overall length is 4,360mm, with a wheelbase of 2,640mm. Height is 1,565mm and width is 1,795mm.

The rear doors have a severe upwards kink to meet the roofline which means it looks like boot space is compromised. However, there’s enough boot space to house a week’s shopping for a family of four. It’s a high floor though, meaning a bit more of a lift to get items in. The front end bears (bore) a striking resemblance to the now outgoing RAV4 and features a triangular LED driving light cluster inside the angular headlight design. Alloys are 17 inch in size and on the C-HR have a design that somehow emphasizes the spinning when underway.

On The Road It’s: One of the few vehicles with a CVT that benefits from using the “manual” part of the gear selector. Programmed with seven ratios to mimic a standard auto, it’s far more responsive to using it manually. Use the C-HR in auto and it becomes what a 1.2L engine suggests. It suggests nothing special, it suggests sluggish, needing a heavy right foot. Move the lever to the right, pull back for M1, hit the go pedal, and tip forward for upshifts, and it comes alive. Forward movement seems to have far more sizzle and pizzaz than leaving the transmission to do it all by itself. Changes are swift, crisp, and really allow the driver to take advantage of the torque delivery.The engine itself is quiet though, with no audible appeal and neither is there anything at the exhaust’s end to suggest anything exciting. No rasp, no fizz, no….well, anything.
Ride quality though is average at best. The MacPherson strut front seems indecisive; should I be soft or should I bang on bumps? The steering rack didn’t help. There would be input at the same velocities having more response than others. The trailing arm double wishbone rear end also had issues, with a harder than expected setup banging away on otherwise normally non-intrusive bumps. On the road the steering feel is numb. There’s no real sense of communication from the front and although it’s not a guess where it’s pointing proposition, it doesn’t really provide a chance to converse with the front either. The Bridgestone Dueler rubber wasn’t a fan of the wet too. The front end had noticeable push-on understeer on wet roads, meaning that throttle usage had to be carefully weighed up. The AWD mode is automatic, meaning the driver can’t select any drive mode at all. There is a graphic for the driver that’s displayed on the 4.2 inch driver’s display screen. It’s a combination G-Force and drive apportion graphic, and a hard launch shows the drive being sent to the rear wheels and easing off in conjunction with the accelerator being eased off.

At The End Of The Drive: The C-HR is, for AWT, a conundrum. It’s a vehicle that offers an alternative but at the point of being why so. The RAV4 does everything the C-HR does and now offers a hybrid. But in terms of market alternatives Toyota have to have something that competes against what Mazda, Hyundai, Nissan et al have. the problem here is that the C-HR is a case of doing nothing terribly bad, it simply doesn’t do anything outrageously special. Make up your own mind here.

Nissan Patrol Updated for 2020

Nissan has shown off the new 2020 Nissan Patrol. There has been additions to the equipment and a reskin of the solid looking machine.

Significant changes see the Nissan “V-grille”reinterpreted for the new Patrol and it’s bracketed by a pair of boomerang LED driving lights.  This is mirrored by a similar design in the rear lights. Sequential indicators have also been added, a first for Nissan.“The Patrol is one of our longest-standing and most cherished models, with a long and proud heritage,” said Joni Paiva, regional vice president of the Africa, Middle East and India region at Nissan. The new Nissan Patrol represents the peak of luxury and ultimate capability and will continue to provide authentic experiences to its loyal customers in the Middle East and around the world.”

The interior has been given a makeover also. A redesigned centre console features dual displays which incorporate Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The leather pews are diamond-stitch quilted and have been given extra padding for that luxurious touch. There is also a hand-stitch covering on the tiller. Climate control and powered lumbar support can be optioned for the front seats. Passengers can also feel a bit more cossetted thanks to changes in the structure. Noise, vibration, and harshness, have been reduced for a higher level of comfort, plus the aircon has been improved.Nissan’s own Intelligent Mobility technologies provide a high safety standard. Blind Spot Warning, AEB with pedestrian detection, Forward Collision Warning become standard for the 2020 Patrol.

A V6 engine with 205kW and 394 Nm of torque is the entry level engine. Buyers can also choose a 5.6-litre V8 produces 298kW horsepower and 560 Nm of torque. Drive hits the tarmac and dirt with an All-Mode 4×4 system that provides different drive options depending road conditions. Hydraulic Body Motion Control, available on V8 models, ensures a more comfortable ride thanks to improved suspension and vibration reduction.

An on-sale date and pricing for Australia are yet to be confirmed.

Hybrid News From The Three Pointed Star.

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

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

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

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

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

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