As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Driving in Australia

Caravanning

So there have been one or two posts on towing, as well the ones on the best-suited vehicles capable of towing.  So, for those of you who have the right tow vehicle, let’s take a look at some tips when it comes time to hitch up the caravan and be off on a trip of a lifetime around Australia.  Caravanning is still one of the best ways of seeing Australia and meeting plenty of people along the way.

If you are going to be travelling for a long time or for a great distance, then there are a few things worth considering so as to make your trip as rewarding as possible.  Here is a list of suggestions for you to consider before departing on your next caravan trip:

I’m assuming that you’ve already got the right tow vehicle.  The tow vehicle manufacturer’s towing recommendations shouldn’t be exceeded.

You may be thinking seriously about your caravanning adventure but still be at the pre-caravan purchase.  Do ensure that you take your time purchasing a caravan; this will help you make the right decision for you and your family (if they’re going to go with you).

If your tow vehicle is an automatic, then you should look at investing in a new transmission oil cooler, particularly if the tow vehicle has seen a few kilometres.  Hauling a big load does put higher stress loads on the transmission, thus heating it up.  If the transmission cooler isn’t up to the task, it won’t be long before you’ll cook the transmission and hit problems.  An overheated transmission is likely to cost plenty to repair or rebuild.  The price you’ll pay for a decent new transmission oil cooler will be cheaper than a new gearbox or gearbox overhaul.

Planning ahead always helps; so write a checklist when planning your caravan holiday.  This is so that you don’t leave anything important behind.

Keep in mind that your camping gear, which includes equipment such as water, food, clothes, blankets, camping gear etc, will generally add another 3-to-500 kg to the weight of the empty caravan.  And it’s also important, when loading the caravan, that the heaviest items are packed on the floor of the caravan, close to the middle where the caravan axles are, above the wheels.  This distributes the weight nicely over the axles and prevents the caravan becoming front-or-rear heavy.  If the weight bias is toward the front or rear then you’ll strike handling and braking issues.  Light items should be stored at the top, and can span the length of the caravan easily enough, but the more weighted items should be distributed evenly on the floor and in the middle and over the caravan axles.

Always carry a fire extinguisher on board your caravan; that way you’ll be properly prepared to stop any fires from getting out of control.  And, on the topic of fires/heat, a great idea when having a BBQ at caravan parks is to use baking paper on the BBQ plate, this way you can simply fold up the paper after use, and the plate will remain clean.  I’m all for avoiding doing dishes as much as possible!

Make sure you do pack some flat blocks of wood.  These can be used as a sure footing for the caravan’s parking-stability arms when your camp site is on uneven ground.  They can also be used as a firm base for changing any tyres.  Oh, and make sure you have a spare wheel for the caravan, just in case your caravan gets a puncture a long way from a service station.

One addition that makes hitching up very easy is a reversing camera.  You can even buy an aftermarket unit for reasonable money if your current vehicle doesn’t have one fitted.

Do check out the caravan and camping accessories that are for sale on the market.  These can help make your caravan holiday even more comfortable and enjoyable.

There will be even more great tips, so do share your ideas/experiences with us….

Have fun and enjoy the sights!

Mazda Hits 2021 With Updates To The Mazda6

Mazda Australia has released details of the key updates for 2021 to their Mazda6 Sedan and Wagon. Sales are due to start for the updated vehicles from March of 2021. This includes the addition of the GT SP Turbo 2.5L four cylinder engine which will be available in the sedan and wagon. Mazda Australia Managing Director, Vinesh Bhindi, commented: “As our passenger car flagship, Mazda6 holds strong appeal in its segment with its advanced specification and option of Sedan and Wagon body styles. This latest update is highlighted by the new GT SP model, which brings a distinctly sporty characteristic to the Mazda6 range and builds on the local GT SP portfolio alongside the CX-9.”

The Mazda6 Sport Sedan and Wagon offers a solid list of standard equipment. The sedan and wagon will ride on 17inch alloys with 225/55, rubber. Headlights are LED powered, as are the rear lights. The wing mirrors will be heated for those frosty and foggy mornings, and the wagon gets roof rails and a rear spoiler as standard.

Inside is Apple and Android app compatibility via an 8.0 inch satnav equipped touchscreen plus Bluetooth streaming and Mazda’s MZD Connect function. Stitcher and Aha internet radio is listed as standard. Passengers are kept cool thanks to dual zone climate control and rear facing vents for the second row passengers. The wagon receives a cargo net and Mazda’s Karakuri tonneau cover. There’s an electric park brake, leather wrapped steering wheel and gear selector knob, and Mazda’s Multi-function Control.Passengers sit on black cloth covered seats, and second row passengers have a USB port in the seat arm rest.

Safety is high, with Blind Spot Monitoring, a Driver Attention Alert function, along with Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Mazda Radar Cruise Control. Traffic Sign Recognition and Smart Brake Support are fitted, as is Smart City Brake Support [Forward/Reverse]. Tyre Pressure Monitoring makes sure all four corners can be checked on the go.Move to the Touring variant and there is black leather seats with the driver’s seat having a two position memory function along with 10 way adjustment. The passenger has a six way adjustment feature. LED DRLs are standard here as is keyless entry and front parking sensors.

On top of the Touring specification, the GT SP adds the turbocharged 2.5-litre petrol engine, plus 19 inch black painted alloys with 225/45 tyres. Front and rear seats gain heating and are wrapped in burgundy leather with the same colour highlights added to the instrument panel and door trims.Power for the Sport and Touring Sedans & Wagons comes from the Skyactiv-6 2.5L petrol four. Peak torque is 252Nm (4,000rpm(, and power is 140kW (6,000rpm). Economy is rated at 7.0L/100km A six speed auto drives the front wheels. Both GT SP and the Atenza variants have a same sized angine with 170kW (5,000rpm( and a very impressive 420Nm of peak torque at just 2,000rpm. Economy is rated at 7.6L/100km and that’s using 91RON unleaded.Visual differentiation sees both GT SP and Atenza models gaining Turbo badging. A new colour has been added called Polymetal Grey Metallic.

Over the equipment list for the Sport and GT, the Atenza specification has the same diameter wheels but are finished in a non-painted, bright, look. There is a sunroof, venting for the front seats, LED ambient lighting, and real wood trim. Nappa leather is available in walnut brown or white for the seats under black headlining and Ultrasuede door and dash trim. The driver sees information on a 7.0 inch display and the main touchscreen offers a 360 degree view.Pricing starts from $34,590 plus ORC for the Sport Sedan, with the Sport Wagon from $35,890 plus ORC. The Touring Sedan starts from $38,890 plus ORC with the Wagon from $40,190. Head to the GT SP Sedan and see $46,690 plus ORC and $47,990 plus ORC for the GT SP Wagon. The Atenza Sedan and Wagon start from $50,090 and $51,390 plus ORC each.

Our Population’s Need for Cars

The numbers are saying that there is a growing percentage of our population here in Australia that are classed as elderly; by elderly I mean over 65 years of age with a bit of a white/grey background in their hair colour.  Our largest age group sits in the 30 to 34 year old bracket.  Our population of youngsters under the age of 10 also continues to increase.  As well as that, Australia’s overall population is continuing to grow swiftly – thanks mainly to Australia being a great place to make the shift to live and work in.  Building our infrastructure to keep up with the influx and accommodate the population growth is something Australia continues to do well, and definitely Australia does infrastructure a whole lot better than most countries in the rest of the world.

Brisbane, Perth and Sydney know how to do public transport, with Melbourne a shining light when it comes to usable public transport; in fact, more than 80 % of all public transport kilometres in Melbourne are travelled on roads.  All our big Australian cities do the public transport service pretty well, Adelaide being well up the user-usability, user-friendly, and user-satisfaction rankings, too.  However, most of us rely on our own private vehicles to get us across town and city, to travel from one township to another, or even to get from one major city to another throughout, and across, Australia.

The Australian road network covers more than 877,000 kilometres, which is quite phenomenal when you think about it, and well over half a million Australians rely on these roads for their full-time employment.  A relatively recent (2016) analysis of the preferred method of travel that residents in Australia used to get to work showed that 11.4 % used public transport, while 66.1 % used a private vehicle.  These figures still followed pretty-true in Australian Greater Capital Cities surveys, where 15.7 % used public transport and 63.3 % used a private vehicle.  Whilst many of the elderly move closer to the city centre or find a hub that is close to amenities, even the elderly find it hard to totally give up the car keys.  You can’t beat the park just outside your destination!

Here are some interesting stats and bits of info taken from various recent surveys held in Australia, and we need to thank the likes of the Australian Bureau of Statistics for keeping us informed.  Did you know that there were 19.8 million registered motor vehicles across Australia as at the 31st January 2020.  This points to our national fleet having increased by 1.5 % from the same figures discovered in 2019.  Of the 19.8 million vehicles, 25.6 % of the national fleet are diesel and 72.7 % are petrol.  Light, rigid, diesel trucks continue to have the largest growth rate in registrations, increasing 5.8 per cent over the year.  This is followed, rather contemplatively for me, by campervans with a 3.5 per cent growth in registrations.  Light rigid trucks include your Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux type vehicles.

Though still a very small portion of the pie, electric vehicles are gaining some traction in Australia.  Sarah Kiely, Director of ABS Transport Statistics, stated that “While electric vehicles are still small in number, less than 0.1 per cent of the fleet, the 14,253 electric vehicles registered in 2020 is almost double the previous year.”

The growth in our population and the need for more new cars for transportation are reasons why we are seeing the WestConnex  infrastructure project (US $16bn) that is linking Western and South Western Sydney with the city, airport and port in a 33 km continuous motorway.  Once this project is finished, motorists will be able to bypass up to 52 sets of traffic signals from Beverly Hills through to Parramatta.  The Melbourne Airport rail link (US $5bn) is set for construction beginning 2022.  There are many big-ticket infrastructure items on the go, and in the pipeline, that all help get our people about efficiently.

It might be time to trade in your 10.4 year old car (the average age for an Australian car) in for a new Toyota, which is the most preferred manufacturer by Australian new car buyers.

Kia Updates Logo And Carnival For 2021.

This is the new logo for Kia. It was unveiled on January 6, along with the new motto for the Korean car company. “Kia’s new logo represents the company’s commitment to becoming an icon for change and innovation” said Ho Sung Song, Kia’s President and CEO. “The automotive industry is experiencing a period of rapid transformation, and Kia is proactively shaping and adapting to these changes. Our new logo represents our desire to inspire customers as their mobility needs evolve, and for our employees to rise to the challenges we face in a fast-changing industry.”

The company also employed drones to make a skyshow reveal, with 303 separate craft took to the darkness above Incheon. By doing so the drones are now listed in the Guinness Book of Records for the most unmanned aerial vehicles involved in a pyrotechnic display. Kia have also released details of the 2021MY Carnival. Based on the same new platform as the recently updated Sorento, the Carnival brings striking new looks to the four model range. Here is the pricing matrix, with premium paints at $695. Kia’s signature is the “Tiger Nose” grille and this now extends widthwise via the front lights to further dominate the bluff nose. Slimmer headlights incorporate LED Daytime Running Lights at either end. The Carnival will feature a full tail-width light bar, similar to the look as shown on the Korean release Stinger. It loses weight visually for the rear of the Carnival.

Depending on specification, Carnival will have 17, 18, or 19 inch alloys. Eight colours for the skin will be available, and a “floating island” roof is a stand out, thanks to blacked-out A And B pillars, along with the new signature for the C pillar, a fin that abuts the rear of the sliding door.

Kia have shortened the front overhang, and moved the A pillar rearward to give a longer bonnet to the popular people mover. The chin has the familiar black urethane airdam.The chassis is new and provides better interior packaging, enhancing and providing a more useful interior. Kia calls the philosophy “Spatial Talents”, with a futuristic feel including a wider panoramic screen dash and haptic feedback tabs. The drive selector is now at a more “fall to hand” position at the centre console’s base.

Interior room improves thanks to an increase in the wheelbase, up to 3,090mm. Width is up slightly, by 10mm to 1,995mm. In length, an extra 40mm has been added for a full 5,155mm. This adds 30mm to the rear overhang and increases room for both cargo and third row passengers.

With the middle and rear rows laid flat, cargo is up to a class leading 2,095L. With the third row up there is a huge 627L. Loading items in is now easier with a lip drop of 26mm.The hub of the car’s connectivity features is the high-tech digital display. In Si, SLi and Platinum trims this links Kia’s latest 4.2-inch digital driver instrument cluster and 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system under a single seamless piece of glass. The S level trim has an 8-inch Audio Visual Unit and a 4.2-inch TFT information cluster for the driver. Voice recognition tech is on-board with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

In a market dependent sense, Kia Live will allow for information such as live traffic updates, weather updates, remote destination provision, and potentially even parking information. The satnav system has a ten year update availability for the maps.

An unusual feature is the Rear Passenger View & Talk. This allows the driver to keep their view ahead whilst using a small camera and microphone to check on and converse with the passengers behind them. The rear seat passengers also may be able to operate the infotainment system.The SmartFob provides a higher measure of hands-free operation for the powered sliding doors and tailgate with a presence sensor opening or closing the doors if read for three seconds. A safety feature embedded in the Carnival’s extensive package is SEA, Safe Exit Assistance. Sensors will monitor traffic and stop the sliding doors from opening if traffic is detected. This is aimed at the family users with smaller children eager to disembark.

HDA, Highway Driving Assist, is Kia’s Level 2 autonomous driving technology. This brings the Carnival into a different level of safety, with a front view camera and radar reading forward traffic and adjusting braking, acceleration, and steering if required.

A new safety system is Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA) and this works by automatically braking the Carnival if sensors detect oncoming rear traffic. Other features such as Lane Following Assist (LFA); Highway Driving Assist (HDA); and Surround View Monitor (SVM) will be available on a market dependent basis.Power will come from either a 216kW/355Nm petrol V6, or the grunty 2.2L diesel with 148kW and 440Nm. The latter will already be familiar to many, and has also been given a makeover with new injectors, balance shafts,an alloy block instead of iron, and a different exhaust system for better emissions. Kia says 170 grams per kilometre. For the petrol engine, refinements have a combined fuel consumption figure of 9.6L/100km, a betterment of around 10 percent.

Transmissions will be the very good eight speed auto across the board. Underneath are completely revamped front and rear suspension components with a new IRS and a new “skeletal cross member” up front. This provides a better geometry to improve ride and sharpen handling. Liquid filled suspension bushes further improve ride quality. The body is comprised of different styles of steel, adding flexibility where required, strength where required.

We’ll have the Carnival Platinum soon.

Driving the Hours of Darkness

One of my favourite times for driving is at night or in the early morning; and by early morning I mean well before ‘sparrow’s fart’.  The roads are mostly empty and everything is quiet and serene.  It is possible to travel during the hours of darkness and quite quickly cover the ground.  Here are some definite advantages of travelling by night, with a few of the disadvantages thrown in as well.

First of all there is nothing quite like the fresh, cool air that you get during nightfall.  A lot of the wildlife has settled for the night and the night air has a pristine smell that I love.  When you get out and stretch and take a break during the night drive, the air is always satisfying and refreshing – but just as long as it’s not a frog strangling gulley washer!  You can hear the silence with only the odd chirp or bark, squeak or rustle of wind filling the air.  Just after midnight, the roads are mostly empty and it can be an ideal time to drive.  You will get the odd long haul truck unit doing the intercity run, but on the whole, I find driving at night to be pretty relaxing.

Who doesn’t like getting places faster?  At night, driving with very few other vehicles on the road means that you can keep up a steadier speed at higher velocity which allows you to cover the ground in a shorter amount of time.  You can hit the speed limit and stay at it for longer.  This is a win-win because it also links in with fuel efficiency, which I’ll touch on later.

Not having the sun about means the night air is cooler, which is a phenomenon that’s rather nice in a hot sunny country by-day – like it is in Australia.  Your air-conditioning requirements are not quite so demanding, therefore avoiding the need to pump through gallons of cool fresh air at maximum levels in order to keep cool inside the car.  You also have less heat streaming in through the closed windows and onto your skin, another nice feature about night driving.  Sun strike is not a problem, either.

If you are getting from A to B quicker at night, then it is obvious that the lack of traffic will mean that the drive will be more fuel efficient.  Because there are fewer cars on the road, your speed is even and you avoid the stop and go motion of other cars around you.  There actions and choices slow you down, and the more of these the slower you go as they the weave in and out of your lane and generally make life more stressful. Because you’re avoiding other cars by travelling at night, you are going to get better fuel efficiency.  A steady higher speed is good for economy.  Putting a lighter load on the air-conditioning system by driving at night in the cooler air is also good for fuel economy.  More economic, cooler, more relaxed, quicker and more fuel efficient at night: now who doesn’t like that?

When you do need to refuel at a gas station, getting fuel at night is a breeze, with nobody around other than the sleepy cashier.  And there are even no cashiers at card-only fuel stations.

As with most things, there can be a downside to night driving.  Yes, you could get sleepy when driving during the hours that you’re normally in bed.  Not many shops open; and should you want to stop for a sleep, then most motels are closed up by 9/10 pm.  Kangaroos and other larger creatures still wander, shuffle or bounce onto the road from seemingly out of nowhere in the dark.  They can even do this in daylight, mind you…

Driving at night is/or can be fun and enjoyable.  I personally enjoy it but realise that it’s not for everyone.  After I have done a long haul at night, I do tend to take things pretty cruisy the next day, while ensuring I get a great night’s sleep the following night.  I sense a few roadies coming on; it is the festive season, after all.

Tips For Keeping Your Car in Great Shape

Our cars are made up of some pretty amazing components.  They’ve been designed to last for a long time within a set of parameters by which most of us can adhere to.  Turn the key, and the engine fires up; travel for at least 10,000 km before most new cars need a service; they can take a certain number of people from A-to-B and back again in comfort for years without a hitch; they’ll soak up the bumps we find on a typical road for over 100,000 km before suspension components require replacement.  The cars we drive are pretty well-built; and they need to be, especially as they are often one of the most expensive items that we buy (more than once) over the extent of our lifetime.

Here are some tips to help make your car last for longer:

Wash Your Car

Did you know that one of the toughest substances for your car’s paintwork is bird poop?  If you let this sit on your car’s paintwork for over a week in the sun, it’ll start to work into the paint layers and cause discolouration and marks to appear on those spots.  To a lesser extent tree sap will affect paint surfaces, but it’s also a real pain to get off if it’s been left to bake on for any lengthy period.  So washing your car regularly and polishing it up with a good coat of wax will help your paintwork last much longer and look much nicer.

Avoid Lots of Revs When Cold

Revving your engine a lot when the car engine is cold after it’s been sitting for a long period (like overnight) is a sure way to shorten the engine’s life span.  The oil in your car’s engine is necessary to prevent wear between moving parts, and the problem with revving when the engine is cold is that lubrication doesn’t work as well when the car is cold. The solution is an easy one, and one which is backed by manufacturer recommendations, and that is to always allow your engine to warm up for at least 10-to-15 seconds before starting off.  This allows the oil to get pumped up from out of the sump and to start circulating through the engine components.  The next thing is to avoid fast and heavy acceleration for at least a minute or so, while the engine has that time to warm up.  If you follow these guidelines, then, as the automotive engineers suggest, your car will last many, many thousands of km longer.

Don’t Shift Into Drive When Moving

Most of us drive automatic vehicles these days, and it’s just so easy to flick the car into drive after backing out of a driveway or parking spot while the vehicle is still rolling backward.  This bad habit puts the transmission components under stress and will shorten the life of your gearbox.  Always bring the car to a complete stop before selecting gear and driving off.

Don’t Ignore Servicing and Oil Changes

Do keep an eye on the oil level on your dipstick.  Keep your oil topped up on the dipstick and change it according to your owner’s manual recommendations.  Most modern cars, if well-maintained, won’t even need top ups between services.  However, it is always good to check the oil level and to top up accordingly.  Make sure the oil filter gets changed when the oil is changed too.  Oil changes are part of the servicing requirements and, quite simply, it’s cheap maintenance and cheap insurance for your engine.

Do Avoid the Potholes and Big Bumps

All the suspension components, particularly at the front-end of your car, are precisely aligned.  When this alignment is disrupted by hitting a big pothole or large speedbump at speed, the misalignment afterwards causes major wear on the steering gear and other moving parts, accelerating the wear and the need for replacement.

Water Keeps It Cool

If you’re getting your car serviced on time, then the mechanic will know when each new lubricant and fluid change is due, including the radiator coolant.  However, if you’re doing a lot of the servicing yourself, then one of the items that’s easy to overlook is the changing of the radiator coolant.  The coolant that you put in your car does more than just cool the engine down.  The water should be mixed with antifreeze so that the coolant doesn’t freeze inside the pipes but also to prevent corrosion in the depths of the engine.  A good antifreeze has special corrosion inhibitors in it to stop any galvanic corrosion from occurring.

And there you have it; some handy tips for the holiday season ahead of us.  It might also be a good idea to get your vehicle serviced before you tackle any big roadie, especially if the service is due anytime soon.

Holden History To Go On Tour.

With Holden soon to be all but a part of history as a brand, one final roll of the dice sees a tour of some of the company’s heritage collection vehicles to visit car museums around Australia.
The Managing Director for GM Australia and New Zealand, Marc Ebolo, said over 80 vehicles and 30 engines will be available: “There has been considerable speculation with regards to what was going to happen to these iconic pieces of automotive heritage, and I’m pleased to reveal we are displaying our vehicle collection in Australia. We have never thought about sending it overseas. The vehicles which make up this multi-million dollar collection have been loaned to a variety of museums and will go on display in the very near future. This will be the first time the entire collection of Holden production and concept vehicles has been released simultaneously for public viewing.”

The last half-decade has seen a select group of Holden enthusiasts made up of largely retired souls in Victoria and South Australia cataloguing the collection, working to preserve the historic aspect of the cars and mechanicals, memorabilia, plus print and photo materiel. Some of the items are close to one hundred years old and have been treated with courtesy and respect in order to help tell the story of Holden.The display will start with the saddlery origins in the late 1800s, through to the 48-215 and beyond. “GM is sincerely grateful for the work our Holden Heritage Group of retiree volunteers has done to sort, digitise and safely store many thousands of items relating to Holden’s rich manufacturing and iconic brand history.” said Mr Ebolo. “We are planning to launch a Holden Heritage Collection website next year which will provide enthusiasts with information about the collection, as well as details of where to view the vehicles.”
Assistance was sought from the National Museum of Australia, interested groups and museums, plus the Commonwealth Office for the Arts and the History Trust of South Australia, and Museums Victoria. The idea was to map out a plan best suited to the preservation of the items and how to make it as accessible as possible to visitors and enthusiasts.

The current schedule has the History Trust of SA’s National Motor Museum in Birdwood, South Australia, the state in which Holden began as a saddlery in 1859, as the first location to make the display available. A short list of some of the vehicles includes the Holden Number 1 as unveiled by the then Prime Minister Ben Chifley in 1948, along with the beautiful concept car, “Hurricane” in 1969, and the one millionth Holden, an EJ.

The planning process was comprehensive, with an Advisory Committee formed specifically for the project. The chairman is the Director of the National Museum, Dr Mathew Trinca AM, and the committee was formally announced by the Federal Minister for the Arts, the Hon. Paul Fletcher MP.

“We more than anybody recognise how important this collection is to Australia and particularly to the people who have worked at Holden and owned Holden cars. We greatly appreciate Minister Fletcher’s interest in the Holden collection and the work and valuable advice of Dr Mathew Trinca, the National, Victorian and South Australian museums and interest groups and the Commonwealth Office for the Arts, on how to best preserve our heritage collection in Australia. We hope that with the opening of state borders and as Australians go on holidays, they will visit the various museums where these wonderful Holden cars will be displayed.” said Mr Ebolo.

Auto Bounce Back: Is the Slide Over?

Australia’s two and a half year run of decreasing sales has come to an end, says the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries. Sales for the month of November, 2020, were recorded at 95,205, an increase of 10,497 sales or 12.4 per cent on November 2019 when 84,708 sales were recorded.

Year to date (YTD) however shows that sales are still well down on 2019, with 978,628 sales last year, whilst 2020 has recorded 821,316 so far.

Toyota continued its imperious march over its competitors, with November figures of 23,204 sales, ahead of Mazda with 9,053 sales, Hyundai with 6,903 sales which just pipped Ford with 6,613 sales and Mitsubishi with 5,488 sales.

The top five selling models for the month were the Toyota HiLux with 5,038 sales, the Ford Ranger with 4,260 sales, the Toyota RAV4 with 3,800 sales, the Toyota Landcruiser with 2,947 sales and the Toyota Corolla with 2,774 sales.
SUVs continued to outsell other vehicle types with a 52.5 per cent share of the market for a total of 50,016 sales. That’s an increase of 26.5% over November 2019. 20,711 Passenger Vehicle were sold and that’s down 10.1 per cent from November 2019, for a 21.8 per cent of the total market. Light Commercial vehicles claimed 22.3 per cent of the market with 21,252 sales, up 11.5 per cent from November 2019.

Inside the passenger vehicle segment, 94 vehicles were pure electric, 2,912 were hybrids, whilst 33 were the plug-in hybrid or PHEV type. in the SUV segment, the breakdown is 84, 3,975, and 102. All three categories in these two segments show increases varying from some to substantial.
For the Micro car segment, Kia’s Picanto (433) continues to dominate, with MG’s MG3 taking the gold in the sub-$25K light cars (632) ahead of The Toyota Yaris and Suzuki Swift (482 and 446). For the small sub-$40K, Hyundai’s i30 was 2nd on 2,047, with the Kia Cerato 3rd on 1,625.

The medium sub-$60K saw Skoda’s Octavia in 2nd, well behind the Camry (286 vs 1,283) and ahead of the Mazda6 (161). BMW’s 3 Series continued to dominate the plus-$60K sector (461) over the Mercedes-Benz C-Class (353).

People movers and the Kia Carnival more than doubled the sales of the Honda Odyssey in the sub-$60K sector (268 to 107) whilst in the Sports Car sector the Mustang sold seven per day to move 230 in November 2020.
Moving to SUVs and in the light SUV segment it’s Mazda’s CX-3 doubling the newly released Yaris Cross (1,562 to 794) whilst it’s a hard fought battle in the sub-$40K small SUV. It’s a virtual tie between the Mitsubishi ASX over the Hyundai Kona (1,465 to 1,453) with the MG ZS having a win over the Kia Seltos and Mazda CX-30 (1,133 to 1,058 and 1,038).

Things are a little more spread out in the plus-$40K, with RAV4 (3,800) over Mazda’s CX-5 (2,412) and Hyundai’s Tucson (1,995). Subaru’s soon to be updated Forester found 1,502, just ahead of Nissan’s X-Trail at 1,405.

Toyota’s aging Prado continued to find appeal with 2,602 in the sub-$70K large SUVs. It’s well ahead of the Isuzu MU-X (848) that outsold the Kia Sorento (796) and Mazda CX-9 (743). In the same size but priced at over $70K, the new Genesis GV80 moved 21 but the winners were BMW’s X5 (366) and Audi’s Q7 (229).

Information courtesy of the FCAI and VFACTS.

Low Voltage: The Charge To EV Vehicles

With world governments declaring a transition to electric vehicles over the next three decades or earlier, such as the U.K. by 2030 or 2035, it would be reasonable to presume that Australian governments would also back any push, without extra roadblocks, to have EVs the primary vehicle for passenger transportation.

The Australian Capital Territory has gone to that length, as has the state government of Tasmania, with the Apple Isle declaring the government’s fleet will be 100% electric by 2030. the A.C.T. began their transition process in 2018 . Neither the A.C.T. or the Tasmanian government have currently declared that any form of EV tax will be implemented.

However, South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria have all announced that the users of an EV will be subjected to a user tax. Victoria has declared that as soon as July 1, 2021, a road user tax on EVs will be implemented. Tony Weber, from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, isn’t impressed:

“Australian state governments want to kill the technology at its infancy. Is this because some states want to substitute the Commonwealth excise tax with their own tax? Are motorists being caught in a petty game in which the states want to establish a new revenue base at the expense of the Commonwealth?”

Weber also points out the disassociation of the governments here in regards to what other nations are doing in respect to development alternatives for public vehicle transport.

“All around the world, global automotive companies have invested billions of dollars to develop environmentally friendly vehicles. And all around the world, progressive governments have supported the introduction of these vehicles. But here in Australia, we inhibit their introduction by levying extra charges on them. It simply beggars belief at this early stage of electric vehicle introduction.”

Mr Weber’s points take aim at the short-sighted attitude of the Australian states that appear to prefer revenue over doing something that reduces exhaust emissions and going some way to reduce the effects of climate change. “With its proposal to tax LZEVs through a road-user charging tariff, South Australia is discouraging the uptake of environmentally friendly motoring and is turning its back on the topic of Climate Change.”

The argument for the taxes comes from those that see that by using no petrol or diesel, which have excises attached, by using the same roads without those excise contributions, EVs are effectively getting a free ride. This overlooks the charges by electricity suppliers to any location providing an outlet for an EV to be charged, however then it’s pointed out those EV charges don’t go back into the roads.

This is something the Australian Automobile Association has in mind when it comes to a fairer apportioning of charges: “As people move towards electric vehicles and other low emission technologies, revenue from fuel excise is declining, which not only risks road funding, but also means some drivers are paying for roads while others are not, which is neither a fair nor a sustainable model. A nationally consistent approach will be important to drivers, who won’t want a patchwork of unique state charging systems, technologies, or rates.”

Regardless of which, it would appear to be a prudent move by the governments to look at what the A.C.T. is doing: Zero stamp duty on new zero emissions vehicles; 20% discount on registration fees; Annual savings from reduced running costs; Help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep our environment clean and healthy; Quieter driving and reduced noise pollution.

And perhaps: In 2017 the United Kingdom and France announced their intention to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, with all cars to be fully electric. Since this time, other countries have also committed to phasing out new petrol and diesel car sales including Scotland, India, China, Norway and the Netherlands.

Then there is the announcement in mid November, 2020, by General Motors, here.

As Bob Dylan once sang: the times, they are a-changing…but it seems some governments are stuck in time.

2020 Kia Rio GT-Line: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Kia’s second smallest car, complete with attitude and spunk. It’s a bit like “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”. Complete with a three cylinder engine and DCT, plus some body add-ons, and in the review car’s case, an eye-catching Mighty Yellow paint, how much fight is in this pint size warrior wannabe?How Much Does It Cost?: $24,490 drive-away plus $520 for premium paint.

Under The Bonnet Is: A relatively tiny 1.0L three cylinder with the Hyundai/Kia Smartstream label. But don’t think it’s too small for the Rio. 74kW and 172Nm (1,500 to 4,000rpm) combine to foist upon the 1,197kg (dry) machine enough pizzazz and spriteliness to provide enough of a grin factor when the car is driven…ahem…appropriately.It’s cheap to run as well; our worst was 7.0L/100km, with a best of 4.1L/100, with a final average of 6.2L/100km. Tank size is 45L worth for regular unleaded. None of those figures are far from Kia’s official figures of 5.3L/6.3L/4.8L per 100km on the combined/urban, and highway drives. And not that many would, but towing is rated as 1,000kg. Transmission is a seven ratio Dual Clutch Transmission.

On The Outside It’s: Largely unchanged for the past couple of years. It sits nicely in the compact class at 4,070mm in length although it looks smaller. It’s 1,450mm high, and 1,725mm wide, sitting on a wheelbase of 2,580mm.

That means it’s a stubby little thing with short overhangs, and slightly cubical when seen from either end directly. In profile the A-pillars have a slope that matches the rear pillar, bringing some visual balance to the main body.

Driving lights are the four-cube set, cast to either end of the front bar and in an enclosure limned in black that reaches out but doesn’t quite meet a slim air intake sitting under the main slimline tiger-nose. This is echoed with a mirror set in the rear bumper that has a pair of reflectors.

Wheels are 16 spoke 17 inch alloys with dark grey highlights, shod in Continental Contisport Contact rubber at 205/45.On The Inside It’s: Quite sparsely trimmed. The seats are a black cloth with white stitched leather bolstering, white piping, and fully manually adjustable. No electronics at all. Pedals are alloy, and a carbon-fibre look inlay runs full length across the dash. Otherwise, plastics are a bit low-rent to look at and touch aside from the piano black for the air vent, touchscreen, and drive selector surrounds.

Driver’s dials are analogue with the familiar 4.2 inch info cluster. Here is where a digital screen would have been a nice step up. Aircon controls are basic yet idiot-proof dials and push-buttons, sitting over a 12V & USB port. A sole USB port sits at the end of the small centre console. The main touchscreen is an 8.0 inch unit in glorious monochrome, featuring AM, FM, and Bluetooth along with Android and Apple compatibility.Convenience features run to bottle holders in each door, a pair of console cup holders, and rain sensing wipers. No airvents for the rear seaters though… Luggage space is 325L to 980L, with the second row seats folding but not level with the boot floor. That’s not quite enough for a weekly shop for a family of four, but then, the Rio GT-Line probably wouldn’t be in a driveway for that demographic.

Solar or UV blocking glass is standard for the GT’s front three windows, with privacy glass for the rears. A drive mode tab is placed up towards the drive selector, with Eco, Normal, and Sport the choices. There’s a sporting hint with the now familiar flat bottomed tiller. Packaging overall is good thanks to the slightly boxy body shape.

On The Road It’s: Much better in Normal mode than Eco. There’s more life, lighter steering, whereas Eco drags the Rio GT-Line into the mud and everything feels heavier and slower. Sport mode adds extra zip and especially in the mid-range of the engine’s torque delivery. In Eco, the steering has a feel of the front tyres being deflated. Switch to Normal and it lightens up just enough to feel…well…normal.

The seven speed DCT isn’t one of the better of its type, nor is it one of the worst. The clutch gaps aren’t as bad as it has been, with stop then start driving feeling more intuitive and natural. And safer. It also makes for normal and sportier driving a much more enjoyable experience, as changes are sharper, crisper, and more efficiently translating into getting the Rio percolating.

Engage Sport and it’s even swifter, however switching to manual changing (no paddle shifters either, by the way) and there’s a hint more speed in the cogs swapping. Under a gentle foot there is also the audible changes for the gears, with the three cylinder thrum that is so characteristic of these engines running up and down in the revs as the clutch disengages and re-engages for the next ratio. Some DCTs take time to warm up and perform at their best, Kia’s is somewhere between that and being ready to go from the get-go.Ride quality is where the Rio GT-Line varies. It’s too hard sometimes, with little travel and tyre absorption. There’s just that little bit too much bang-crash on some road surfaces, but in contrast nicely dials out any float, with zero rebound on those wallowy surfaces. There is ample grip from the Continental rubber too, making cornering at increasing speed a simple proposition, alongside easy lane changing.

Hit a flat road and it’s ideal, feeling tied to the tarmac, and it’s on this kind of surface where the GT part of GT-Line pays off. Ditto for the engine as that broad swathe of torque effortlessly pulls the GT-Line along. The steering is almost ideally weighted, with little effort needed to switch lanes. Road noise is noticeable but not to the point that cabin conversations feel intruded upon.

What was apparent, too, was the rate of rolling acceleration. Where a merge road goes from 80 to 100 or 110, a change of pace, rapidly, is needed. Here the Rio GT-Line shows appreciable agility without being a neck-snapper, with decent forward progress. It’s perhaps where the 1.2L three with more torque would be a better fit for the name GT-Line.What About Safety?: Autonomous Emergency Braking with Forward Collision Warning, Lane Following and Lane Keeping Assist. Six airbags, and the mandated assorted electronic driver aids are standard.

What About Warranty And Service?: Kia’s standard seven year warranty applies. Total service costs across the seven years is $3,299. That’s an average cost per year of $471 or just nine dollars per week. As is the norm, it’s service four for the big ticket cost at $704, with year five under half that at $319. Year six and seven see $602 and $569.

At The End Of The Drive. Kia’s Rio GT-Line isn’t aimed at the hot hatch market. It’s not aimed at the warm hatch market. It’s aimed at those that want a semblance of performance combined with user friendly economy figures and no need for anything bigger. It’s an ideal first car for the new driver as it’s not excessively endowed with snap/crackle/pop BUT there is enough to provide the appropriate grin factor.

As such, the Kia Rio GT-Line offers up a decent amount of fight however those looking for something with more spice will look elsewhere. That’s no shade on the GT-Line, by the way. It’s intended to be what it is and it fulfills that particular brief perfectly. Check it out, here.