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Hot Hatch Heaven

Behind the thriving popularity of buying SUVs, there is a lesser but feistier group of people who love buying and driving a Hot Hatch.  They are a loyal group of drivers who love the raw speed and excitement that a Hot Hatch drive provides – along with a bit of practicality on the side mind you.  The mind-set of a Hot Hatcher is that ‘if my need is to own a hatchback, then let me get a hot one’.

Honda Civic Type R

In Australia one of the most popular Hot Hatch cars of recent times has been the super little Honda Civic Type R.  It has even been given a Performance Car of the Year award, while also making a great argument for itself as being one of the best ‘Bang For Your Bucks’ experiences you can buy on four wheels.  With 228 kW and 400 Nm the latest Type R Civic is very quick and makes short work of most of its rivals.  It constantly feels quicker than anything, except maybe an AMG or Audi RS equivalent, on a backroad or windy race track.  Boot space is also 420 litres, which is more than enough for most people’s shopping trip.

Renault Megane RS

Renault has sold plenty of new RS Megane Hot Hatchbacks, and at times more than the Type R.  The Renault Megane RS offers a range that includes the availability of both manual and automatic transmissions, along with two chassis options.  Good on road comfort, the power from the 205 kW/390 Nm 1.8-litre turbo four is strong, and with launch control it keeps running quick naught-to-naughty times.  Brembo brakes work marvellously to haul in crazy speeds, and the four-wheel steering has immense grip and control.  With all this performance you still get great practicality.

Hyundai i30N

More popular among Australian Hot Hatch buyers has been the potent and very well sorted Hyundai i30N.  You’ve got to love the i30N’s fun factor bolstered by the banging and popping exhaust notes!

Volkswagen Golf GTi

But, arguably, the most preferred Hot Hatch to buy, at least in Australia, has been the immensely satisfying VW Golf GTi.  The thing is just so quick, it’s engaging and easy to drive, and it also has a real luxurious feel to the quality interior.  For those that can afford it, the VW GTi still delivers a comprehensive package.

I could add that Peugeot has a GTi Hot Hatch, so too Ford in the form of its Focus ST and Subaru in its WRX, and the…..  But you might like to add your few cents to the conversation or even disagree with my overall jurisdiction on the matter.

However, if you are thinking about owning a new performance hot hatch in 2020, then the afore mentioned ones are a few of the best you can buy that are cheaper than a real quick Mercedes Benz A45 AMG, or Audi RS3.

Audi RS3


Mercedes Benz A45 AMG

2020 Mitsubishi ASX GSR: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Mitsubishi’s ASX with a nameplate that in Mitsubishi’s history has referred to a sporting oriented vehicle. GSR was found on their hi-po Lancers and they were a little less mental than the Evo class cars. However, in ASX trim, the sporting intention has been relegated to a lairy colour on the review car and a front wheel driven chassis with the traction control dialed back a little.

How Much Does It Cost?: $30,740 is the recommended retail price. $32,490 is the drive-away price as of June 2020.

On The Outside It’s: Been given blacked out highlights to complement the Sunshine Orange paintwork. 18 inch alloys with black paint, along with the grille, door mirrors, and a subtle rear deck lid spoiler are part of the GSR’s visual appeal. It’s a combination that suits the “shield grille” treatment as it brings a more assertive look to the small SUV. The painted alloys have Bridgestone Ecopia rubber, and they’re 225/55 in profile. An identifying GSR badge is on the tailgate, and it’s the only one that says GSR.On The Inside It’s: The mostly cleanly laid out look newer Mitsubishis have. “Microsuede/Synthetic Leather Seat Trim with Red Stitching” is the description for the pews and they’re a delight. Comfortable, supportive, warm and there’s no need for electric heating. Air-conditioning is via the simple and classy dial system that Mitsubishi has employed to great effect. They sit above a pair of USB ports and a 12V socket, and below the 8.0 inch DAB equipped touchscreen.The tailgate is manually operated, opening to a 393L cargo section that expands to 1,193L with the second row seats folded. A flat loading floor and low lip make loading up a brezze, and the pair of recesses either side help for items that need a little extra security.The angular slope of the ASX’s roof doesn’t compromise interior packaging either. 963mm head room is available for the rear seats, plus 921mm leg room. They’re good numbers considering 1,000mm head room for the front seats and 1,056mm leg room.Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.4L petrol engine. No diesel, no hybrid. 123kW and 222Nm haul 1,390kg (dry) via a CVT driving the front wheels only. Consumption is quoted as 7.9L/100km for the combined cycle. Mitsubishi’s info system provides a driving average, as in it’ll change on the go, but there is not separate overall figure. We saw a worst of over 9.0L/100km and a shortened range, to a best of 6.7L/100km and a range of over 400km to go from between a half and three quarter full gauge.On The Road It’s: The front wheel driven GSR has a throttle that is open to hard work. As such it also sets up the GSR for a little bit of spirit. The rubber is partly to blame, if you will, as even a moderate amount of throttle application chirps the tyres, easily spinning them and there’s no real intrusion of the engine control nanny either. There’s nothing from the rear end though, and it comes across as being nothing more than to prop up the cargo area.

The steering has some feedback, enough to let the driver know that the front end is lively, and even manages to isolate the fact that the ASX GSR is a front wheel drive vehicle. There’s little to no noticeable torque steer, the front can be hammered quite hard and for the most part the front will stick…in a straight line. Those tyres become a weak point as the GSR will push into understeer reasonably easily and on damp roads the rubber loses grip even more readily.

The CVT is one of the better ones going, and seems to harness the 222Nm more efficiently, even under heavy throttle. There isn’t a Sport shift though, a truly odd choice for a seemingly sports-oriented style car. Yes, there are paddle shifts but…well…no Sport shift. The drive selector itself is a bit painful, having a F shaped slot mechanism and it’s not entirely intuitive in moving the lever. It got caught far too often in Neutral due to the design of the slot, and there is a low range style selection that is picked up by sliding through D to L. This is where a manual change via the paddles seems to be more appropriate.Damping is better than the Outlander PHEV tested the week before; there’s more suspension give, less reliance on the Bridgestone rubber for smaller intrusions, and a little more body lean in cornering aiding grip where it can be. This also means that road holding is improved with less tendency to feel like the tyres may momentarily lose contact on certain surfaces.

What About Safety?: Loaded for bear, is what the ASX GSR has in the safety stakes. Forward Collision Mitigation system, with Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Assist and Blind Spot Warning. Then there is Rear Cross Traffic Alert, to finish off the main package. Auto headlights and wipers, the flashing emergency stop signalling, reverse camera and front & rear parking sensors, plus seven airbags round out the supplementary systems.

What About Warranty And Service?:
100,000 kilometres or five years, with capped price servicing details available.

At The End Of The Drive. The ASX is a competent vehicle regardless of which model you select. Versions such as this, the ASX GSR, manage to find a better level in areas such as handling and the CVT yet just miss the target by not making the gear selection a Sports style. Nor is there a console mounted Sport option.

In Sunshine Orange, along with the blackouts, it’s an eye catcher, and the paint really drinks in the sunlight giving it a true glow. It rolls along nicely, has enough squirt to please, and sells in very good numbers. Add a Sport mode that’s tweaked to suit the characteristics, and it’ll be even better. Check it out here.

October Faction: BMW Set To Launch 4 Series Coupe.

BMW Australia has confirmed the 4 Series Coupe is set for an October 2020 launch date down under. There’s plenty to look at and plenty to like in this striking new machine.

BMW’s TwinPower turbo technology is applied to a pair of four cylinder engines and a six. BMW says the fours will produce 135kW and 300Nm for the 420i, 190kW and 400Nm for the 430i, and for the big six in the M440i 285kW and 500Nm. Autos are the super slick 8 speed Steptronics complete with steering wheel paddle shifts.

For those that prefer the personalisation aspect, BMW’s M Sport Package is ready and waiting. The already bold air intakes are increased in area, and matched at the rear by a large contoured apron. Underneath is the M Sport suspension and 19 inch M Sport M alloys, plus Cerium Grey external accents for the M440i and M Carbon exterior highlights can be optioned. Inside, comfort and safety has the extra touches of knee pads on either side of the centre console plus specific other touches.BMW’s design team may have looked at the past for the future; the front sports a pair of striking yet familiar kidney grilles, with inspiration possibly from the art deco and pulp science magazines of the early part of the 20th century and nod towards their own BMW 3.0 CSi. There’s a heavier nod towards a vertically inclined styling, with a deeper reach towards the lower edge of the front apron. Inside is the newly added horizontal mesh material. There are assertive looking intakes on either side, and sit underneath LED headlights that sweep back deep into the upper edges of the front fenders. Adaptive swivelling adaptive LED with BMW Laserlight are optionable. Laserlight increases high beam range to over 500 metres at speeds of over 60 kilometres per hour.

The designers have looked at how the 4 Series Coupé can stand still and look fast and muscular. Elegant lines in curves and straight work together to pick out the frameless windows in the doors, the short front and rear overhangs, and emphasis the taut LED rear lights. The roofline is a metal wave, smooth, yet powerful. There has been subtle increases in size; there is an extra 128mm to 4,768, width is up by 27mm to 1,852, and a small height increase of just 6mm. It is now 1.383mm and makes the 4 Series 57mm lower than the 3 Series. The wheelbase is up by 41mm for2,581mm. Handling is sharpened by the increase in track with an extra 28mm up front, and 18mm for the rear.
Depending on model, integral head restraints will be fitted, with the rears eats sculpted for a 2+2 configuration. The front seats are a sports style, and the driver graps an M specific leather wheel. It’s a proper cockpit feel with a centre console that houses the Start/Stop button flowing high into the dash itself, and the door panel trim complements that of the instrument panel which is now a broader surface area design. Noise is reduced thanks to an acoustic glass windscreen.

Cabin tech arrives in the form of Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a SIM card for 4G LTE connectivity. The BMW Connected Package Professional brings in BMW’s Teleservices which includes the Intelligent Emergency Call, Reat Time Traffic Information, Concierge Services and Remote Services.

A built-in SIM card with 4G LTE connectivity and standard BMW Connected Package Professional enable use of digital services including BMW TeleServices and Intelligent Emergency Call, Real Time Traffic Information with hazard warning, Remote Services and Concierge Services. BMW’s 7.0 OS is standard too, with fully integrated digital access and information. The Live Cockpit Professional delivers a 12.3 inch driver’s screen and a 10.25 control display for the centre. There is also a Head Up Display as standard.

Pricing will be confirmed closer to the October launch date.

Have we Reached Peak SUV Saturation?

Today, just about every manufacturer is releasing one SUV after another, hoping to cash in on Australia’s love affair with the category. Such is our fervent admiration for the humble SUV, it is far and away the nation’s best-selling type of car. The segment makes up as much as half of all new car sales.

But with a never-ending list of new SUV models being pushed into the market, which somewhat contrast the direction being pushed by many that we are meant to be moving towards more eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable vehicles, have we reached peak SUV saturation? Are there simply too many SUV models being launched in the market today?


What are car manufacturers doing?

Take one look at Toyota’s line-up, where the famous pint-sized Yaris is now being converted into a compact SUV crossover. It probably wouldn’t be all that puzzling if it weren’t for the company’s six other SUV models, including the LandCruiser, Prado, Fortuner, C-HR, Kluger and RAV4. Volkswagen, an otherwise ‘slow’ adoptee of the SUV format, will soon have seven or even potentially eight vehicles competing across this segment.

Neither are alone in what appears a very deliberate attempt to all but prioritise high-riding SUVs over all other segments. Just about every auto-maker is adopting a similar strategy, each with numerous SUV models. In fact, some other brands are even going as far as cutting passenger vehicles from their line-up and replacing them with SUVs.



The unstoppable trend

But behind all the engineering nous, design flair and marketing excellence, SUVs are proving an unstoppable trend among Australians. Even as the new car market slumps to historic lows, the SUV category is holding up better than its peers. That comes despite the fact that an SUV would typically be more expensive than a comparable passenger vehicle, even if it is a compact SUV or crossover.

If Australians are prepared to open their wallets and fork out more for an SUV in what was already a challenging economic environment, let alone in the middle of a recession, it is as sure a sign as any that manufacturers will continue to divert extra weight to developments in this segment. That may well mean that we are going to see even more SUV models yet, catering for each size category and various price points.

If you’re not a fan of SUVs you may well have to get used to it, because the trend is here to stay and manufacturers are intent on capitalising from it.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Is On The Way.

Hyundai Motor Company’s long awaited revamp of the Santa Fe was unveiled in the first week of June. There are clear signs of exterior change and a freshen up for the interior brings higher level of passenger comfort and convenience.What could point the way to a new design ethos for the brand is a new grille shape and look. There’s a heavier emphasis on the diamond styling in the grille itself, with the LED “eyebrow” driving lights slimmed down even further, and the headlights changed in shape and brought towards a more even line on either side of the grille. A pair of driving lights fall down from the eyebrows in a sweeping curve and form a bisecting line for the main lights in a T-shape.

Down in each bottom quarter the air intakes have also been reduced in size. This brings a more elegant and stylish look to the whole front end presence. There’s also elegance in the side profile, with a line drawn from the the DRLs to the leading edge of the rear lights. This runs over enlarged wheel arches which house 20 inch wheels. The rear lights have been given a subtle makeover, with a more defined arrowhead look on the outer edges, and are now joined by a bar located on the tailgate. There is also a T-shape inside the rear lights turned 90 degrees.

Inside and Santa Fe has been given more space and comfort with a higher level of use for soft-touch materials. The centre console has been raised in comparison to the front seats, giving an impression of the front occupants sitting more in a comfortable armchairs. There’s a more balanced, a more symmetrical look to the centre, with the touchscreen, centre airvents, and aircon & auxiliary controls in a more integrated cluster. It looks more intuitive and includes a removal of a sliding gear selector. Hyundai has moved to a push button drive selector thanks to the implementation of a drive-by-wire throttle input.Although the Santa Fe has been seen as an off-road capable vehicle, until now it’s never actually had a drive-mode selector for getting dirty. This feature includes unique modes for sand, snow and mud, as well as eco, sport, comfort and smart modes, the last of which automatically recognises the driving style and selects a mode so the driver does not have to. Hyundai’s HTRAC all wheel drive system should be standard across all, if not most, of the range.

The redesign of the centre console allows for a larger touchscreen, which is now 10.25 inches. It should includes the smart apps, satnav, digital audio, and camera views.

“We modernised the new Santa Fe with premium features and appealing aesthetics that are sure to add value,” said SangYup Lee, Senior Vice President and head of Global Design Centre. “The bold lines that extend from one side to the other and from front to back give Santa Fe a rugged yet refined look that SUV customers want. Besides, we’ve added numerous features and functions to create a truly family-focused SUV that is a pleasure to drive.”

Hyundai expects to release the Santa Fe to the Australian market in the third quarter of 2020.

Should I Apply for Car Loan Pre-Approval?

As part of the car buying process, you’ll typically hone your new car search to a specific model before then applying for finance. All the while, you’ll be left in an uncertain state wondering if the car will still be available by the time you secure finance. Fortunately, however, car loan pre-approvals can help you overcome this uncertainty.

Car loan pre-approval relies on the financier providing its conditional approval for you to buy a car within a certain budget. The lender will take into account your financial position based on the information you supply them. On top of that, as a buyer you are under no obligation to go ahead with the purchase or the loan itself, which is only a pre-emptive step.

It is possible to extend a car loan pre-approval by a month if you need additional time. Just make sure that the vehicle you are considering fits within the conditions set down by the financier as part of their pre-approval.



Extra power to negotiate

Car loan pre-approval gives you extra scope to negotiate the purchase of a new car. At the dealership you will give the impression that you are a ready and willing buyer. In addition to this, your fixed budget also removes much of the tip-toeing around offers and bartering. Seeking finance would generally be a hurdle in any major purchase, so securing this in advance also relieves some of the concerns on the dealer’s part that the deal might collapse.


Scope for a budget

One of the difficult aspects of searching for a new car is not knowing how much you’ll be willing to spend. This might be due to uncertainty over your credit rating, ability to repay the loan or other considerations. However, with car loan pre-approval, buyers establish a set budget they can work with while concluding their negotiations with the dealer.


Simplicity and convenience

The convenience with which a pre-approved car loan helps buyers during the search for a new car cannot be measured. Not only does car loan pre-approval save you time on calculating your budget and conducting negotiations, but you can also rest assured that you are giving yourself the best possible chance to secure the exact car that you wan’t before it’s too late.

Why You Should Think Twice About Buying a Car with Hail Damage

In the ACT, new car sales have remained remarkably resilient amid the COVID-19 lockdown. One of the driving forces behind the steady showing has been the significant hail storms that damaged a large amount of cars earlier in the year.

Since then, new car sales have been up year-on-year throughout February, March and April in the nation’s capital. Such an event raises an interesting consideration for many – that is, whether it is a wise decision to buy a car with hail damage. While the prospect of saving thousands in dollars can be appealing, there are definitely troubles that you can run into.


What issues come with hail-damaged cars?

In the event that an insured vehicle costs more to repair than the value of the car itself, it will be written off by the insurer. The reality is, if the economics don’t stack up, then the car, even if in otherwise functional state, will face obstacles making it back onto the road.

This is because the car will be added to the government’s list of vehicles deemed repairable. While this is better than it being declared a statutory write-off, the process still requires a myriad of inspections, certifications, paperwork and hoops to jump through. Importantly, some lenders won’t provide money for a hail-damaged car.

Assuming you are fortunate to receive loan approval, in terms of insurance coverage thereafter, you will also need to declare the damage as part of the vehicle’s existing condition. In some instances, insurers won’t provide coverage for cars with pre-existing damage, or will extend limited coverage such as third-party, fire and theft.

Arguably the biggest hurdle you’ll likely face in terms of buying a car with hail damage is down the line when it comes time to part ways with the car. If it hasn’t been repaired, you are going to face an almighty struggle to find a buyer who is prepared to purchase the car.

On the other hand, fork out money for repairs and you probably won’t see any return at all. This of course will depend on which route you pursue in terms of repairing the damage, be it panel replacement, panel beating or paintless dent removal. This sort of work is also highly technical, so not only is it costly but you need to find the ‘right’ person for the job.


Final thoughts

At the end of all this, it’s worth asking yourself – do the up-front savings justify the inconvenience and burden later on? With a wide range of dealers currently trying to clear brand new stock in perfect condition at large discounts, don’t be fooled by the promise of additional savings from hail-damaged cars in the second-hand market.

2020 Toyota Granvia VX: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A big box on wheels that has luxury inside. Toyota has taken the HiAce LCV that was updated in 2019, and given it a makeover on the inside, and a light tickle outside. In Granvia or Granvia VX specification, it can be fitted with either a six or eight seater configuration. We drove the VX with the six seats.

How Much Does It Cost?: Toyota’s website gives an area dependent costing. The Granvia in Ebony Pearl is circa $68,360, and with Crystal Pearl, Silver pearl, or Graphite is circa $68,990. Bump to VX spec and there’s $81,560 to $82,200.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.5L diesel, packing 130kW and a torque figure of 450Nm. That’s a peak available across a very narrow band of revs; 1,600rpm to 2,400rpm, to be precise. Powering the rear wheels via a six speed auto, economy is rated as 8.0L/100km on the combined cycle. Our final figure was 8.6L/100km. Given a dry mass of 2.6 tonnes, that’s an agreeable figure, and one that could be shaving a few bits here and there with a more modern eight or nine speed.On The Outside It’s: A box on wheels and there’s no disguising that fact. There are 5,300mm of length, 1,990mm, and 1,940mm of height and width that come into play, and with around 1,750mm from the leading edge to the beginning of the flat roof…well…it’s a box on wheels.

Up front there is a broad grin of chrome that replaces yet follows the lines of what is seen on the HiAce. Four horizontal chrome strips replace the two on the donor vehicle. The rear has a similar styling and broader taillights. In profile the Granvia has centre and rear glass, no panels as seen on the HiAce, and each side has a powered sliding door. The rear door is manually operated. Initially this seemed like an oversight however given the layout for the six seats….but, still…..Wheels are multi-spoked alloys and have Bridgestone Duravis rubber at 235/60/17.

On The Inside It’s: A curious mix of luxury and the basic structure of the donor van. There is gorgeous wood paneling in the door trims, passenger dash, and on the top of a truly dowdy looking centre console section, with plastic of that really basic look and feel. Yet it sits between and ahead of a total of six leather seats, with heating all round, and powered recliners in the middle. The second and third row seats slide, and this again raises a query about the non powered rear door, as it could allow entry and exit from that third row.The driver’s section has a seven inch touchscreen, piano black trim, and analogue dials in the VX. Again, it’s a missed opportunity where a LCD insert would have added just that little bit more of extra class. There are a few tabs for items such as the parking sensors and night light adjustment for the screen, and four that have no apparent use. The Drive selector is console mounted and there is manual shifting.The side powered doors have roll up/down window shades, and to activate the sliding mechanism it’s a soft touch push/pull on the door handles inside and out. Or there’s remote opening and closing from the key fob. Safety is covered with very audible beeping as the doors open or close.

Convenience is looked after by having USB ports for the rear rows, a separate air-conditioning system with controls on the roof behind the front seats, and cup holders for each seat. Each rear row seat also has its own map-light.On The Road It’s: Nice to drive up to freeway speeds. Above the legal limit it’s missing a key factor: confidence. There’s something about the way the Granvia VX is set up that has it feeling just fine until freeway velocities are called for. It’s simply doesn’t feel….right… it was the oddest sensation and one that couldn’t put our finger on. The speedo would indicate 110, 115, and it effectively then communicated “don’t go faster”. It was impossible to tell if it was a stability issue, the sensation of being seated at the height the driver is, the steering ratio that was fine at suburban velocities but not faster…..annoying? Mightily.

The steering is nicely weighted, and allows for easy three point turns. Navigating suburban roads, even with the near two metre width and 5.3 metre length, was also easy. helping matters was the relaxed attitude of the diesel, with that 450Nm peak torque barely above idle. The auto is typical Toyota with a swift and slick change, and holds gear for downhill runs. Manual changing makes no real difference in this part of the drive experience. The brakes are a touch grabby at times, meaning a gentler foot was required, and a softer press meant earlier braking. And here too a minor hiccup; retardation feedback wasn’t entirely forthcoming, with judgement of where the pedal needed to be pull the Granvia up not always corresponding to the rate the Granvia would pull up. Compounding the drive was the engine power reduction from the Active Yaw Control. This comes in when the Granvia VX would move across the road and cross white lines. This quickly became, in our eyes, a safety issue as the sudden power loss would slow the Granvia and gave rise to a potential impact from the rear. the other is that although thes eats would recline, in upright positions the rear view mirror was full of seats, not a clear rear glass.

What About Safety?: Safety is comprehensive. 9 airbags including both front seats, driver’s knee, front curtain shield x 2, rear curtain shield x 2, side airbag x 2. Blind Spot Alert, Lane Departure Alert, and Pre-collision alert with cyclist and pedestrian sensing make for a very good package.

What About Warranty And Service?: five years warranty and capped price servicing for the Granvia VX. Follow the service schedule and warranty goes out to seven years. Service intervals are six months or 10,000 kilometres with a cost (as of May, 2020) of $245.
At The End Of The Drive. It’s an absolutely ideal vehicle to be used as a courier of the well heeled from hotel to airport, from rock concert to hotel. The seats really are beautifully comfortable, and with a six seater configuration there’s room and flexibility aplenty. Around town it’s a doddle to drive. The downsides of the centre console and dash look and feel, plus the nervousness above 100kph hold the Granvia VX firmly in place as a suburban utility and a lovely one to be in. Check it out for yourself here.

2020 Hyundai i30N Hatch: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Hyundai’s foray into the hot (warm?) hatch arena. It’s the i30, but not as we know it as it’s the N badge that sets it apart from its lesser brethren.How Much Does It Cost?: Hyundai’s list price is $41,500 plus on roads. The website lists it as $46,133 to $49,781 drive-away, depending on seeing the Luxury Pack (as tested) inside or not.

Under The Bonnet Is: A potent 2.0L petrol fed and turbocharged four cylinder, mated to a super slick six speed manual. In N spec it’s good for 202kW and a hefty 353 torques. There is an overboost facility that provides 378Nm. “Normal” torque is available from 1,450rpm to 4,700rpm. Overboost is 1,750rpm to 4,200rpm. They’re delivered in a very linear fashion, rather than a lightning bolt kapow. It makes for an extremely flexible drivetrain.Economy around town reflects the performance aspect though, with urban assaults seeing numbers north of 10.6/100km. That’s pretty much on the money for our drive. Hyundai quotes 8.0L/100km for the combined cycle. Our lowest figure was on the highway, not unsurprisingly, and clocked 7.0L/100km. That’s still above the 6.4L/100km from Hyundai’s official figures. Final overall was 8.7L/100km. Tank size is 50L and recommended fuel is 95RON. There are drive modes and these will be covered later.

On The Outside It’s: Well….it’s an i30. There’s some nice alloys and a discrete N badge, plus some bright red brake calipers with the N logo….but that’s it. That’s if you don’t include the twin exhausts inside a nicely styled diffuser and the black chin guard that balances the rear of roof deck lid spoiler. Wheels are 19 inches in diameter and have a distinctive spoke design. Rubber is from Pirelli, they’re P-Zero and 235/35 are in size.

Paint on our review vehicle was the luscious Engine Red and is one of six colours including the signature Performance Blue hero colour. The hatch is 4,335mm in length, just a tick shorter than the i30N Fastback at 4,455mm.

On The Inside It’s: An opportunity missed to stamp the N as a sports oriented vehicle, but that’s a first glance situation. The air vents have red piping to the surrounds and that’s largely it in comparison to the largely otherwise unremarkable interior. The steering wheel has red stitching, and there is subtle red stitching in the seats. The look is subdued and dare we say, generic with unremarkable plastics, the standard looking touchscreen interface bar the N tab, and analogue dials where a full width LCD screen would have been better optioned. Ignition in the hatch is a standard key insert, the fastback is a push-button.The tiller has the drive mode switches; one for Sport/Normal/Eco, and one for the N performance package. The Sport engages the throaty rumble mode for the exhaust whereas the N selection firms up the steering and suspension, and offers a preset or customisable set of settings for exhaust, steering, engine and more via the touchscreen. Standard look is showing power, torque, turbo boost, and g-force readings, plus lap timings for track days. Inside the 381L cargo area is a brace bar to provide extra torsional rigidity. The cargo section itself opens up to 1,287L with the rear seats folded. A cargo net is standard in the Fastback but not the hatch, a curious decision. Head room front and rear is 994mm and 977mm, with 1,073mm and 883mm for leg room. Shoulder room is over 1,400mm front and rear. On The Road It’s: A sleeper. Left in Eco and Normal mode it’s…normal. There’s a typical feel to the whole package in acceleration, noise, handling. The clutch is curiously heavier than expected and resulted in more than a few stalls. Hit the Sport mode and there’s a change of attitude. The exhaust suddenly gets more snarl, there’s an extra sense of weight to the steering, and sharper handling.

N mode lights the candle. There’s an extra depth to the anger of the exhaust and especially on up and downshifts. There’s a crackle, a sharp and hard edged note that’s evident on even light throttle. Go hard and the length and volume of the growl becomes longer thanks to some electronic assistance. Launch Control is standard and that’s activated via the disabling of the traction control system. Hold that button down, wait until a couple of lights flash to say things are happening, and then push down the clutch. Floor the throttle and somewhere around six seconds later it’s freeways speeds. There is torque steer but the electronic or “e-diff” makes a great fist of smoothing that out. Although hydraulic in nature, the electron brains behind the scenes distribute torque as per where the sensors say it should. It makes for a pretty much arrow straight line on a hard launch, and keeps both front wheels in contact with the ground. Steering is super precise and is just two turns lock to lock. This means input results in instant response. Rev-matching works on getting the engine to be in a rev range suitable for the cog selected on downshifts.

It’s slick and smooth, and gets the rumble and snarl from the rear happening. The selector itself is light, with Hyundai saying the actual feel was built in for “enthusiastic drivers”. For us, it felt accurate in throw, perhaps a little long, but also disconnected and remote from the driving experience. Braking is the complete opposite, with one of the best sensory experiences available. Think about where the pedal needed to be and it was, with instant response from the lightest of touches.The N mode makes, as mentioned, for harder suspension. It’s noticeably different in quality and brings forth a benefit. That’s every corner, as firm as they become, being able to provide to the driver a picture of every ripple, every dent and ridge on a 20c coin without a feeling of being overly tight and taut. It’s a superbly tuned package and one honed by 500 laps of The Nurburgring. The torque spread makes for easy freeway driving, and overtaking is as simple as either squeeze and go, or drop a cog or two. There are shift lights and a shift indicator notification in the LCD screen in the driver’s binnacle. On a run along some pretty average roads in the nor-west of Sydney the N setting was barely adequate for the car to stay on the road without being bounced off into the greenery. The Sport mode was better in compliance, with a subtle shift in comfort, yet still providing a taut and sporty ride.

What About Safety?: There is no stinting here. The full Hyundai SafetySense package is available, with Forward Collision Avoidance, Driver Attention Warning, and Lane Keep Assist. The DAW in the liftback was overly enthusiastic, saying a break should be taken after just a few minutes worth of travel time. Quad sensors front and rear provide accurate parking measurements as does the clear view from the reverse camera which includes guideline assist. On the passive safety front there are seven airbags including the driver’s kneebag. Hill Start Assist was welcomed due to the vagaries of the clutch point.

What About Warranty And Service?: Hyundai have done track day drivers a huge service here. Under most warranty guidelines, issues found to be as a result of track days aren’t covered. Hyundai disagree with that and do offer that coverage. Also it’s a seven years warranty, instead of five. Service costs are capped (check with your Hyundai dealer) and items such as satnav updates can be done when a car is booked in for a service.

At The End Of The Drive. It’s an excellent all-rounder, family and enthusiast friendly, and bar the downmarket look and surprising lack of low end in the sound system, provides a wonderful environment in which to spend time in. Outside the hatch looked resplendent in red but didn’t visually yell it was an N spec. A matter of personal taste, one would suggest. This is your source for more info.

Will Car Ownership Rise in the Post-COVID Era?

New car sales have slumped all across the world due to the impact of COVID-19. Australia’s result last month, showing a near 50% drop in new car registrations, paled in comparison with some of those seen overseas, where the dive in sales was upwards of 95%.

With lockdowns keeping motorists at home, as well as the economic repercussions associated with job losses also weighing on sentiment, there has been an abrupt halt in sales across the industry. That’s not to say the local market was showing signs of growth beforehand, with two years of month-on-month declines setting the backdrop.

However, while it’s not yet being translated into sales at showrooms across the country, there is a growing sense of interest and buying intent being recorded among potential new car buyers.


Interest returning to the market

Just a few weeks ago, between April 18 and April 27, Carsales surveyed more than 3000 Australians. The company noted that 45% of non-car owners have changed their views regarding primary transport preferences.

In addition, the company’s findings suggested that 58.5% of respondents were more likely to consider buying a car, including 38% of all participants who are keen to buy a car right now. On the other side of the equation, just 21.9% of non-car owners were less likely to consider buying a car.

Rounding out the results, a significant 36.8% of non-car owners signalled they will probably use public transport less, with another 17.8% more likely to avoid using ride share services.



What’s driving demand?

From a position of financial standing, those who can still afford a car in this current financial climate have greater scope to negotiate a bargain due to excess stock. Add in record-low interest rates and those who have been holding off for a while are now in a good position to start shopping around.

More prominently, however, amid the pandemic it’s no surprise that people’s habits and perceptions of safe behaviour are changing. With social distancing being instilled into communities everywhere, it’s all but set to stay for the foreseeable future. This comes even with evidence that Australia has handled the health crisis far better than most other countries around the world.

There are two driving forces here. On the one hand, there will likely remain underlying health and hygiene anxieties among many, particularly those with existing health conditions that they may wish to manage. Convenience is also sure to prove a driving factor, with public transport set to come with hurdles in terms of limited supply and reduced capacity.

What does it all mean for the market? It certainly looks like Australians could shift back towards car ownership, despite slipping in recent times.

How do you feel about the near and mid-term outlook for commuting to work? Do you have concerns around sharing public transport and are you more likely to consider looking for a new car?