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Small Overlap Crash Test

The influx of all the amazing new electronic safety aids and crash avoidance systems found on-board new cars has been exceptional.  There is no doubt that these systems are helping save lives and minimising injury.  There has been one part of the latest car crash testing regime that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has brought in as part of their testing in order to help make cars safer.

The IIHS is an independent, non-profit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing deaths, injuries and property damage from motor vehicle crashes through their ongoing research and evaluation, and through the education of consumers, policymakers and safety professionals.  The IIHS is funded by auto insurance companies and was established back in 1959.  Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia, USA.  A lot of what the IIHS does is crash test cars in a variety of ways to gather data, analyse the data, and observe the vehicles during and after the crash tests to quantify how safe each car is.  The results and findings are published on their website at IIHS.org.  Car manufacturers have been forced to take these tests seriously because, at the end of the day, these results matter and will affect car sales as the public become informed about how safe their cars will likely be in the event of an accident.

Since 2012, the IIHS has introduced a couple of new tests that they put the vehicles through to see how safe they are in an event of small overlap collision.  The driver-side small overlap frontal test was brought about to help encourage further improvements in vehicle frontal crash protection.  Keeping in mind that these IIHS tests are carried out using cars with left-hand-drive, the test is designed to replicate what happens when the front left corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole.  This crash test is a challenge for some safety belt and airbag designs because occupants move both forward and toward the side of the vehicle from the time of impact.  In the driver-side small overlap frontal test, a vehicle travels at 40 mph (64 km/h) toward a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier.  A Hybrid III dummy representing an average-size man is positioned in the driver seat.  25% percent of the total width of the vehicle strikes the barrier on the driver side.

Most modern cars have safety cages encapsulating the occupant compartment and are built to withstand head-on collisions and moderate overlap frontal crashes with little deformation.  At the same time, crush zones help manage crash energy to reduce forces on the occupant compartment.  The main crush-zone structures are concentrated in the middle 50% of the front end.  When a crash involves these structures, the occupant compartment is protected from intrusion, and front airbags and safety belts can effectively restrain and protect occupants.

However, the small overlap frontal crashes primarily affect a vehicle’s outer edges, which aren’t well protected by the crush-zone structures.  Crash forces go directly into the front wheel, the suspension system and the firewall.  It is not uncommon for the wheel to be forced rearward into the footwell, contributing to even more intrusion into the occupant compartment, which often results in serious leg and foot injuries.  To provide effective protection in these small overlap crashes, the safety cage needs to resist crash forces that haven’t been amplified, concentrated on one area or aren’t tempered by crush-zone structures.  Widening these front-end crash protection structures does help.

The IIHS also performs the passenger-side small overlap frontal test.  The passenger-side test is the same as the driver-side test, except the vehicle overlaps the barrier on the right side.  In addition, instead of just one Hybrid III dummy, there are two — one in the driver seat and one in the passenger seat.

Automotive manufacturers initially responded to these driver-side small overlap test results by improving vehicle structures and airbags, and most vehicles now earn good ratings.  However, IIHS research tests demonstrated that those improvements didn’t always carry over to the passenger side.  Discrepancies between the left and right sides of vehicles spurred the IIHS to develop a passenger-side small overlap test and begin issuing passenger-side ratings in 2017.

It is good that vehicle safety always seems to be on the improve and, with each new model, the new-car buyer can expect a safer vehicle.  Thanks to crash testers like the IIHS, ANCAP and Euro NCAP, we are experiencing safer cars on our roads.

Will Vehicle Carbon Taxes be Revisited?

A few years ago, there was talk of a proposed ‘carbon tax’ on new vehicles by slugging non-compliant auto makers with fines in an effort to reduce emissions. However, it became very clear that such a move would leave the door open for car manufacturers to pass on these fines to motorists in the form of increased car prices. In the meantime, alternative fuel technologies like hydrogen, electric vehicles and hybrids have failed to catch on, while phasing out of diesel and petrol vehicles has essentially been limited to offshore markets rather than here in Australia.

Even if such penalties were to be limited to non-compliant vehicle manufacturers that fail to meet stricter emissions standards, the result would have a flow-on effect across the new car market, effectively reducing the notion of a free market and any ‘true’ choice that motorists have when it comes to having access to the vehicle they want.

 

 

The real matter at hand

However, for all the focus on the technicalities of the ‘tax’, the real matter is how we manage the environmental burden from vehicles in an equitable manner. Or should we be content in punishing motorists for driving cars that are less fuel efficient than their peers?

Recent examples would suggest anything but. After all, take a look at states like Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia and it becomes immediately apparent that road usage charges for electric vehicles loom as a distinct risk that could threaten the uptake of electric vehicles. That is one example where an equitable manner has been sought to apply to the use of our roads, but there is no denying it is also ‘punishing’ the sort of behaviour that we are trying to promote.

Nonetheless, back to the original tax proposal, and in many respects, it never really stood a chance. In some quarters, the measures were tipped to start as early as next year, however, the reality is, Australia’s new car market continues to be defined by the very makes and models that would theoretically be punished for falling foul of emissions standards. With our love for SUVs and dual-cab utes, should Australians be locked out of some of their favourite cars by virtue of significantly higher prices as manufacturers seek to offset the hit to their hip-pocket?

 

 

It’s also been stated a number of times that Australia often misses out on some of the ‘cleaner’ or more advanced iterations of certain vehicles from the European market due to the standards of our emissions and fuel quality. Again, however, costs are at the centre of the discussion here, and in a new car market that is finally seeing signs of life, would industry players want to potentially derail this when a number of supply-chain issues have already weighed on upwards momentum?

All up, however, we do have some reason to be concerned about motorists holding onto their vehicles for longer – in the process, increasing the average age of cars on our road. Not only does this serve little to stimulate the economy but it won’t do much to tackle emissions across the nation’s entire fleet.

Several years on, are we actually any closer to answering the question as to how we encourage auto-makers to step away from higher emissions vehicles? Down under, it doesn’t appear so.

Cars For “When you get to my age!”

“When you get to my age…” is a statement commonly made by those of us who may well be getting on in years.  Older drivers will likely have more to consider when they come to buying themselves a new car.  The need for lots of power may not be such a deciding factor either, and comfort and safety might be the attributes you’d be needing instead.  It can also be a fun time buying the new car because you haven’t got all the family commitments to keep in the back of your mind, which would otherwise have swayed your choice of car in the past.

The list of new cars below has been put together with the ‘oldies’ in mind but it by no means is definitive.  It is nice to have a practical car which will take the grandkids out to the park or off to the zoo, but these cars also have comfort, reliability, decent space, good safety features, easy infotainment technology and good climate controls.  You’ll also find that the following cars are pretty economical and reasonably easy to get in and out of.

The Peugeot non-commercial range of cars are fine cars with style, comfort and practicality.  They offer five-star safety and good pricing.  Who says motoring has to be boring!

Peugeot 508 Wagon

Toyota’s Camry, Corolla, or RAV4 models are well-priced, safe, efficient and reliable.  Lexus models are premium Toyota cars with lavish comfort, excellent reliability, economy and safety.

The Subaru Impreza or Forester are a good go to car for practicality.  Maybe you have a dog or need comfort and AWD traction.  Their efficiency, safety and reliability have always been good.

Volvo’s new S60, XC60 or XC40 are sensationally comfortable, safe and lovely to drive.

Volvo XC40

Mercedes Benz B-Class range are a great package for comfort and practicality.  The style is hard to beat, and they also have the amazing big infotainment screens that wowed the world.

Honda Civic or Accord cars are hugely efficient, reliable and comfortable cars.

Citroen C3, C3 Aircross or C5 Aircross are remarkably comfortable, practical and look cool.

Hyundai Kona has electric power and comfort leading the way, with practicality to boot.

Jaguar’s XE is a lovely car with everything an ‘oldie’ could wish for.

Jaguar XE

Renault has the Captur model range that provides classy SUV looks, outstanding comfort and safety, practicality and nice solid driving dynamics.

Skoda’s entire range of cars are comfortable, well-priced and spacious.  Superb models are very stylish and they come in sedan and wagon.  There is a model for everyone.

Nissan Qashqai and X-Trail variants are very comfortable, safe and practical; they also offer one of the better SUVs in AWD form with decent go anywhere ability.

Nissan X-Trail

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

GMSV Releases Corvette Pricing & Addition To Silverado.

GMSV has today (March 30, 2021) released details of an addition to the Silverado range, plus confirms pricing for the Corvette.

The Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss will come with a recommended retail price of $106,990. Drive is courtesy of a 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 and ten speed auto, and offers a towing capacity of 4.5 tonnes. GMSV’s Director, Jo Stogiannis, says the Trail Boss is intended to be the off-road warrior of the range. “LT Trail Boss personifies what Silverado is all about. It’s big, it’s tough and it comes ingrained with brand-DNA which showcases qualities of strength, power, performance and no-nonsense work-hard attributes.”

A factory fitted suspension lift kit raises the LT Trail Boss by 25mm at the front, and 30mm for the rear, providing extra off-road clearance and peace of mind. Ride quality and handling is enhanced thanks to Rancho monotube shock absorbers, and extra grip comes from a mechanical rear locking diff. Style and practicality see the 18 inch black painted alloys contrast and complement the black front and rear bumpers.Although intended to be the off-road Silverado of choice, there is no skimping on safety or comfort. Both front seats are heated, feature ten way power adjustment, and the steering wheel is heated also. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard. Front and Rear Park Assist will ensure easier parking, and safety on tarmac has Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert to look after all aboard.

To ensure off-roading enjoyment is enhanced, Hill Descent Control is standard, plus a heavy-duty air filter provides clean air for the V8, and underneath, there are all-terrain skid plates to provide extra protection.

Orders for the LT Silverado Trail Boss are being taken now, with deliveries scheduled for mid-2021.

GMSV also confirmed pricing details for the hotly anticipated Corvette. There will be five models available initially, all with high specifications. Both coupe and convertible body types will be available, with the 2LT and 3LT trim levels plus a special Carbon Edition package. Motorvation is courtesy of a 6.2L V8 producing 370kW and 637Nm with drive to the rear wheels via an eight speed dual-clutch auto.

The recommended retail pricing structure starts with the 2LT coupe from $144,990, and the convertible from $159,990. The 3LT coupe starts from $160,500, whilst the convertible starts from $175,500. Pricing for the Carbon edition is yet to be confirmed. This will be built on the 3LT Coupe body, and will feature premium wheels, a premium brake caliper package, a hand-picked interior trim, plus a build plate and owners’ pack.

Australian specification Corvettes will be built with higher equipment levels to enhance the appeal. Known as the Z51 Performance Package with Front Lift, Ms Stogiannis says: “Overwhelming feedback is that our intended customers are performance enthusiasts, they want to have the ability to experience the C8 Corvette to its fullest potential.” The package is an option in the Corvette’s home country.Front Lift raises the nose of the Corvette to minimise potential contact damage on kerbs, and it’s a simple button push to do so. Included in the Z51 package is the Magnetic Selective Ride Control system, with millimetre precision thanks to a real-time damping system that reacts in a millisecond to the changes in road surfaces. Sounds come from a dual mode exhaust, stopping is thanks to Brembo, and rear grip is enhanced via an E-LSD. The body will have a front splitter and a rear spoiler. Engine longevity is increased via extra cooling .

All versions will have a full colour Head Up Display, and passengers will enjoy a 14 speaker Bose premium sound system.

The cars are factory right hand drive, the first to come to Australia in its history. Bowling Green in Kentucky is the factory’s location, and they’ll roll off the line in late 2021, with some deliveries currently scheduled in the same period, with the rest in early 2022.

Of the car, Ms Stogiannis said: “Corvette is an iconic car and there is a massive groundswell of interest and anticipation building ahead of its local launch. We have every expectation it will more than live up to its legendary status.”

(Information courtesy GMSV).

 

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 Convertibles with Reasonable Prices

Abarth 595 Convertible

Very cute and not too expensive, the Abarth 595 Convertible has stacks of style and plenty of road presence even though it happens to come in rather small packaging.  The Competizione is the more expensive (around $36k) of the two models available but offers more features and more grunt.  You have FWD and the weight of the car is only a little over 1000 kg, so the driving experience is dynamic and loads of fun.  The 1.4-litre Turbo unleaded petrol engine offers 132 kW and 250 Nm in the Competizione (0-100 km/h in less than 7 seconds, top speed 220k m/h) and 107 kW and 206 Nm in the standard version.  Fuel economy sits on average at around 6-to-6.5 litres/100 km.  With a 3-year 150,000 km warranty and 3 years roadside assist you are well covered.  Expect to pay from around $35k for the base model and $41 k for the Competizione.

Audi A5 40 TFSI S line

It costs around $96k new, but Audi’s A5 Convertible is top quality and superb to drive.  Gorgeous interiors, excellent comfort and technology make this AWD Audi Convertible a very nice ownership prospect.  There are two 2.0-litre petrol engines: A very economical mild-hybrid (6.5 litres/100 km) 140 kW/320 Nm version for those who like FWD (0-100 km/h in around 7 seconds), and a smooth and powerful 183 kW/370 Nm version with AWD (0-100 km/h in around 6.5 seconds).  Both engines are linked to Audi’s efficient seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic gearbox.  To be honest, the AWD version is only a few grand more at a bit over $100k, so I’d be looking to get into this one.  Both versions should return between 6 and 7 litres/100km.  A 3 year unlimited km warranty is good, as too the 3 year roadside assist package.

Audi S5 Convertible

Like the Audi A5 convertibles above, the S5 has all the goodies, gorgeous lines and comfortable interiors with all the modern gadgets.  The S5 has the awesome 3.0-litre turbo V6 Petrol delivering a potent 260 kW of power and 500 Nm of torque to the AWD system, and it uses an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission.  You can scamper from a standstill to 100 km/h in around 5 seconds, while the top speed is limited to 250 km/h.  A 3 year unlimited km warranty is good, as too the 3 year roadside assist package.  Expect to pay around $135k for a new one of these.

BMW 2 Series Convertible

The BMW 220i Luxury Line and 220i M Sport convertibles use the same 2.0-litre Turbo powerplant with 135 kW of power and 270 Nm of torque.  The eight speed sport automatic does a great job of providing quick gear changes while linking the smooth operative action to the optimum power levels.  This engine should offer a combined fuel consumption of around 6.5 litres/100 km.  The car rides nicely.  Those wanting the best in comfort and equipment will go for the Luxury Line, while the M Sport concentrates the suspension more towards sport and the flavour a bit racier.  BMW The 220i M Sport uses the performance 3.0-litre Turbo engine with 250 kW of power and 500 Nm of torque.  This is a quick car and you can expect a run through the 0-100 dash to take less than 6 seconds.  The car’s top speed is limited to 250 km/h, while average fuel consumption will be around 8 litres/100 km.  All BMW 2 Series convertibles are RWD and offer premium quality interiors and technology.  Prices start at around $65k for the Luxury Line, $68k for the M Sport 2.0-litre and $92k for the 3.0-litre M Sport.

BMW 4 Series Convertible

This is one of the prettiest convertibles available for 2021.  The new BMW 4 Series Convertible is offered with a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder producing either 135 kW/300 Nm (420i, around $90k) or 190 kW/400 Nm (430i, around $108k); while the flagship M440i xDrive AWD (around $136k) variant uses a mild-hybrid 3.0-litre inline turbo-six that unleashes 285 kW/500 Nm and is capable of reaching 100km/h in 4.5 seconds. A 3 year unlimited km warranty along with 3 year roadside assist makes life easy.  All are well equipped, comfortable and stylish cars.

BMW Z4 Convertible

Another gorgeous looking convertible is the latest Z4 two-seater Convertible Roadster, which has a lower centre of gravity than before and is further helped dynamically by a 50-50 weight distribution. Three engines are available: The BMW Z4 sDrive 20i M Sport has the 145 kW/320 Nm 2.0-litre; the BMW Z4 sDrive 30i M Sport uses the 190 kW/400 Nm upgraded 2.0-litre version; the BMW Z4 40i offers 250 kW and 500 Nm with its 3.0-litre turbo in-line six petrol.  Prices are around $98k, $122k and $144k, respectively.  Even the 145 kW engine sings sweetly and packs a punch.  All handle beautifully, making this the best Z4, yet.  This has to be one of the best looking Roadsters on the road, and they are delightful to drive.  The Z4 40i can dispatch the 0-100 km/h dash in just 4 seconds.  A 3 year unlimited km warranty along with 3 year roadside assist is available to new car buyers.

Fiat 500C

For somewhere between $25k and 28k, you could get yourself into a brand new Fiat 500 Convertible.  They boast a 5-star ANCAP safety rating for what is a very cute, small car.  In case you weren’t aware, the Abarth models, mentioned above, are the performance based versions of the Fiat 500C.  You should average even less than 5 litres/100 km at times, and the 1.2-litre ULP motors are free revving, fun and relatively refined.  Weighing in at just 935 kg these have a bit of zip about town and will happily hold their own at the legal open road limit.  Both the 500C Club and 500C Lounge are well kitted out with modern technology and practicality, so life with a small 500C brings plenty of smiles. A 3 year 150,000 km warranty and 3 year roadside assist is good piece of mind motoring.

Mustang Convertible

Here would be the coolest convertible on the market.  The Mustang’s muscle, sound and power delivery is nothing short of amazing.  The GT version (0-100 km/h in around 4.5 seconds) costs around $75k new and boasts a 339 kW/556 Nm 5.0-litre V8.  It can be had with either the standard six-speed manual, or the optional 10-speed auto gearbox.  For around $61k, the Mustang High Performance 2.3-litre four-cylinder still delivers on performance (0-100 km/h in around 5.5 seconds) and has 236 kW of power and 448 Nm of torque to play with.  Manual and auto versions are also available for the 2.3 High Performance.  Both versions are RWD and are immensely rewarding to drive with the top up or down.  These are hard to beat for value, performance and road presence.  You can’t argue with the 5 year/unlimited km warranty, either.

Lotus Elise

Here is another very cool convertible.  The strikingly stylish Lotus Elise Convertible offers two models for 2021.  The Sport 220 offers a 1.8 litre, 162 kW, 250 Nm ULP engine with RWD and a six-speed manual gearbox. A 0-100 km/h sprint for this version takes around 4.9 seconds.  The Lotus Elise Cup 250 offers a 1.8 litre, 183 kW, 250 Nm ULP engine with RWD and a six-speed manual gearbox. A 0-100 km/h sprint for this version takes around 4.7 seconds.  Few other convertibles cars can keep up with a Lotus Elise around a tight track as they are so light, agile and fast.  A 3 year unlimited km warranty links with a 3 year roadside assist package when you buy a new one of these, which will be a little north of $100k.

Mazda MX-5

There are two engines available: The 97 kW/152 Nm 1.5-litre and the 135 kW/205 Nm 2.0-litre, both offering the choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmission and RWD.  A limited-slip differential and a finely-tuned suspension ensure a superbly balanced and grippy chassis with plenty of fun in the sun a certainty.  Expect to pay between $40 and $52k depending on the model and trim.  Enjoy!  This has become a roadster icon over the years, and the latest model looks sharp and is kitted with all the latest safety gear.

Mini Convertible

You’re paying anywhere around $50k-and-$75k for a new Mini Convertible – it all depends on the model.  They can be had with various engines and styles.  Three-door models include the base 100 kW/220 Nm 1.5-litre three-cylinder Cooper, the 141 kW/280 Nm four-cylinder Cooper S, and the mighty 225 kW/450 Nm JCW.  Always cool and always impressively well-built, Mini’s are a classic.  JCW versions are insanely fast and capable, and all come with 3 year/unlimited km warranty and a 3 year roadside assist package.

You could also look at some other marques like Porsche, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz or Lexus when it comes to buying a new convertible but you’ll be paying well north of $100, $200k or even $300k for some of these.  Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren and Rolls Royce also offer convertible options in Australia, however their prices are for those loaded with money.

Mercedes Commits to a Broad Line-up, Despite Fixed-Price Strategy

Hot on the heels of Japanese rival Honda, Mercedes-Benz is set to restructure its business as it moves towards an agency-style structure in the new car market down under. The move is pencilled in for January 1, 2022, although the luxury auto-maker is still working to put the finishing touches on all the details before then.

 

Explaining the changes

Like Honda, it is expected that Mercedes-Benz dealers will take on a role whereby they act as an agent for the parent company. With this, prices will also be fixed, the parent company will dictate terms of business, and headquarters will also hold all vehicle stock, thereby limiting the potential for customers to negotiate directly with the dealer.

Unlike its rival, however, Mercedes-Benz has suggested that it will look to differentiate itself in one key area from what Honda is currently doing – that is, by committing to retain the breadth of its model line-up and not cut any entry-level variants.

In supporting this plan, the company points to the fact that it is seeing success in the luxury component of every segment, where it is “winning” in most of these areas. So while Honda might have plans to deliberately streamline its line-up and cut total sales volumes in order to generate higher margins, Mercedes-Benz is going about things differently.

 

 

Why there still might be less ‘choice’

Mercedes-Benz will also focus on customer service and satisfaction by addressing core areas that it has identified as important. This includes improving the accessibility to purchase any vehicle from its range online, and also embracing transparent pricing.

Although Mercedes-Benz has committed to its broad line-up, there is still an expectation that each model range will be simplified so as to improve the buying experience for customers by minimising confusion. After all, sometimes too many choices for something largely similar can be problematic for customers who are not yet ‘over the line’.

There is one potential drawback with this. If Mercedes-Benz does opt to simplify each of its model ranges, there is a possibility that optional extras may be ‘built’ into the existing models that are currently more affordable in each range. The risk here is that prices could very well increase, although at this stage details remain to be seen, even if the company has just increased prices across the board for the third time in just over a year.

The good news sees the breadth of Mercedes-Benz’s line-up set to remain, unaffected by the move towards an agency model. What is found in each range, however, will make for interesting consideration.

 

Honda’s Fixed Prices Set to Cause a Stir

After a long time coming, Honda is almost ready to pull the trigger on its plans to move towards an agency model in the Australian new car market from July. For a long time, the brand’s future was subject to speculation as some wondered whether it might follow in the footsteps of Holden and exit the local car market.

Nonetheless, despite its commitment to Australian motorists, not everyone is particularly pleased about how things are about to unfold. Let’s take a look at some of the changes that motorists can expect when the new model comes into effect from mid-year.

 

 

What can new car buyers expect?

As of July 1st, 2021, Honda is slashing dealership numbers and adopting an agency model. To many, this may not mean anything, however, for the dealers involved, the first thing is an expected hit to jobs, particularly given the lower number of showrooms and staffing requirements that ensue.

When you enter a showroom from July 1, you will be dealing with an agent of the Honda company’s head office. So whereas showrooms and dealerships were often operated by separate groups, now you’ll effectively be liaising directly with the parent company, although stock will be held by Honda Australia. Dealer agents will no longer be commission-based, rather, they will earn a fee from the parent company.

Because of these changes, however, prices are set to be fixed. That’s right, you heard it correctly. The days of haggling in a Honda showroom are set to be over, with the brand’s representatives recently even going so far as to say that negotiating the price of a Honda vehicle would no longer be a thing under any circumstances whatsoever.

If that wasn’t enough, new car buyers are also staring at reduced choice when it comes to the number of models available from Honda. The brand has cut its entry-level numbers and is prioritising SUVs, which is in line with the trend favouring SUVs of late.

What is the impact of this move?

Aside from the obvious, higher prices and less choice, the story isn’t over for new car buyers. There is also going to be more restricted levels of accessibility when it comes to servicing your Honda, which comes from the fact that a large number of Honda dealerships are set to fall by the wayside.

For Honda, naturally, its margins are expected to increase – and we’re tipping, quite handsomely. However, the brand has also gone on record to say that it not only expects but is ultimately pleased about the prospect that it will sell fewer vehicles across the Australian new car market.

A long-time favourite down under, and with many great names behind it over the years, it’s a shame that motorists now face an outcome where their choice, negotiating power and after-market support are set to be constrained.

Best People Movers for 2021

There are those of us who would rather avoid being seen in what are technically called ‘People Movers’.  By choice, they’re not a car that many would prefer over a roadster or GT.  However, they do have their place and the current new people movers are stacked with the latest goodies, are comfortable and work hard to make their cabins a pleasant, safe space for plenty of people to spend time journeying in.  Of course, the space and comfort throughout a people mover cabin is, generally, superb, making them ideal at doing what they say they will on the tin.  So, if you have been particularly virile and require a decent vehicle for moving your large family about, or you just need those extra seats and space, then here are the newest people movers available on the market in 2021:

Honda Odyssey

Available in a 2.4-litre ULP, 129 kW, 225 Nm, 7-speed CVT, FWD, combined fuel consumption of around 8-9 litres/100 km, towing 450 kg un-braked and 1000 kg braked, 5-star ANCAP rating, seven seats, Honda Odyssey ViL7 (around $49k) and Honda Odyssey ViLX7 (around $56k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty.

Hyundai iMax

Available in a 2.5-litre Turbo Diesel, 125 kW, 441 Nm, 5-speed automatic, RWD, combined fuel consumption of around 9 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 1500 kg braked, 4-star ANCAP rating, eight seats, Hyundai iMax Active (around $49k) and Hyundai iMax Elite (around $54k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty with 1yr Roadside assistance.

Kia Carnival

Available in a 3.5-litre ULP, 216 kW, 355 Nm, 8-speed automatic, FWD, combined fuel consumption of around 10 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2000 kg braked, ANCAP rating untested but previous model was 5-star, eight seats, Kia Carnival S (around $51k), Kia Carnival Si (around $56k), Kia Carnival SLi (around $61k), Kia Carnival Platinum (around $68k), 7 yr/unlimited km warranty with 1yr Roadside assistance.

LDV G10

Available in a 1.9-litre Turbo Diesel with 110 kW and 350 Nm or a 2.0-litre ULP with 165 kW and 330 Nm. 6-speed automatic, RWD, combined fuel consumption of around 9 litres/100 km for the Turbo Diesel and 12 litres/100 km for the ULP. Towing 750 kg un-braked and 1750 kg braked for the Turbo Diesel and 750 kg un-braked and 1500 braked for the ULP. 3-star ANCAP rating, seven seats, LDV G10 Turbo Diesel (around $35k) and LDV G10 Executive (around $38k), 3 yr/100,000 km warranty.

Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo ACTIVITY 220d

Available in a 2.1 Turbo Diesel, 120 kW, 380 Nm, 7-speed automatic, RWD, combined fuel consumption of around 7 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2500 kg braked, 5-star ANCAP rating, seven seats, Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo ACTIVITY 220d (around $86k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty and 5 yr roadside assist.

Mercedes-Benz V-Class V220 d

Available in a 2.1 Turbo Diesel, 120 kW, 380 Nm, 7-speed automatic, RWD, combined fuel consumption of around 7 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2500 kg braked, 5-star ANCAP rating, seven seats, Mercedes-Benz V-Class V220 d (around $94k), Mercedes-Benz V-Class V220 d Avantgarde (around $111k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty and 5 yr roadside assist.

Mercedes-Benz Valente 116CDI

Available in a 2.1 Turbo Diesel, 120 kW, 380 Nm, 7-speed automatic, RWD, combined fuel consumption of around 7 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2500 kg braked, 5-star ANCAP rating, eight seats, Mercedes-Benz Valente 116CDI (around $72k), 5 yr/250,000 km warranty and 5 yr roadside assist.

Toyota Granvia

Available in a 2.8-litre Turbo Diesel, 130 kW, 450 Nm, 6-speed automatic, RWD, combined fuel consumption of around 8 litres/100 km, towing 400 kg un-braked and 1500 kg braked, 5-star ANCAP rating, six seats, Toyota Granvia (around $65k) and Toyota Granvia VX (around $76k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty.

Volkswagen Caddy

Available in a 1.4-litre Premium ULP, 92 kW, 220 Nm, 7-speed automatic, FWD, combined fuel consumption of around 6.5 litres/100 km, towing 630 kg un-braked and 1300 kg braked, 4-star ANCAP rating, 5 or 7 seats, Volkswagen Caddy Trendline 5 seats (around $35k) and Volkswagen Caddy Comfortline 7 seats (around $41k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty, 1 yr roadside assist.

Volkswagen California Beach

Available in a 2.0-litre Turbo Diesel RWD with 110 kW and 340 Nm or a 2.0-litre Twin Turbo Diesel 4WD with 146 kW and 450 Nm. 7-speed automatic, combined fuel consumption of around 7 to 8 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2500 kg braked, 4-star Euro NCAP rating, 5 or 7 seats, Volkswagen California Beach TDI340 7 seats (around $83k) and Volkswagen California Beach TDI450 4×4 5 seats (around $93k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty, 1 yr roadside assist.

Volkswagen Caravelle TDI340 Trendline

Available in a 2.0-litre Turbo Diesel FWD, 110 kW, 340 Nm, 7-speed automatic, combined fuel consumption of around 7 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2500 kg braked, 4-star Euro NCAP rating, 9 seats, Volkswagen Caravelle TDI340 Trendline (around $65k) 5 yr/unlimited km warranty, 1 yr roadside assist.

Volkswagen Multivan

Available in a 2.0-litre Turbo Diesel FWD with 110 kW and 340 Nm or a 2.0-litre Twin Turbo Diesel 4WD with 146 kW and 450 Nm. 7-speed automatic, combined fuel consumption of around 7 to 8 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2500 kg braked, 4-star Euro NCAP rating, 7 seats, Volkswagen Multivan TDI 340 Comfortline (around $62k), Volkswagen Multivan TDI450 Highline (around $85k), Volkswagen Multivan TDI450 Comfortline (around $88k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty, 1 yr roadside assist.