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2021 Mercedes-Benz Vito and Valente Released

Mercedes-Benz have been known for producing some quality Light Commercial Vehicles, and the Vito van has been at the forefront of that particular section of their markets. The latest version has been released to the Aussie market.

There will be three engines: The Vito 111 CDI with 84kW and 270 Nm torque, the Vito 116 CDI with 120 kW and 380 Nm torque, and the Vito 119 CDI with 140 kW and 440 Nm torque with a combined fuel consumption of 6.7 l/100 km plus CO2 combined emissions 176 g/km. The Vito 111 has a combined fuel consumption of 6.2-6.3 l/100 km with CO2 combined emissions 163-166 g/km whilst the 116 has combined fuel consumption of 6.7 l/100 km and CO2 combined emissions 176-178 g/km.

The range has been simplified and extra features added. The rear view mirror is now a digital item, whilst the reverse camera has been upgraded to suit. The interior has been enhanced as has safety with DISTRONIC and Active Brake Assist. Up front, the grille has been restyled. The Mercedes star plate is centrally positioned in the radiator grille and has three black louvres on all but the 111 where they are chromed.

Diane Tarr, Managing Director Mercedes-Benz Vans, said: “The versatility of Vito really sets it apart. In Australia, examples of its use include an RACV home and roadside assist vehicle, an Australian Post delivery van, an Optus technical service vehicle and as a trusted tool for many smaller business operations like florists or even mobile fitness instructors. It is a genuine trade specialist and fleet all-rounder for a wide range of different customers.

The Vito’s look and style is often symbolic of the business it supports. The newly designed radiator grill now makes it an even more attractive representation, and with more standard safety, new assistance systems and an upgraded infotainment offering, it will continue to meet the demands of our customers.”

The Vito 111 packs a 1.6L engine and six speed manual driving the front wheels. There is also a 2.1L engine and seven speed auto for the rear wheel drive versions. The Vito 116 has a 120kW/380Nm diesel as the spearhead and moves to a medium length wheelbase as the starting point. This, says M-B, provides an optimal carry capacity as a new starting point. Proven engine and transmission line up continues with reduced complexity, and emphasis on power and carrying capacity.

Active Brake Assist starts with an audible warning tone and a visual alert. If sensors read the driver has applied the brakes, ABA adds extra braking assistance, but if there is no response from the driver the system takes over and performs active braking manoeuvres. The sensors also alert to stationary objects and pedestrians. DISTRONIC is also available with Vito for the first time and standard on the 119. Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keep Assist, formerly options, are now standard.

The digital inside rearview mirror takes a feed from the high definition camera mounted in the rear window section and transmits to a 1600 x 320 screen. There is image processing to ensure that light balance is even and displaying as clear an image as possible. It also provides a wider view than a traditional rear-view mirror.

An updated infotainment system sees a 7.0 inch touchscreen with smartphone app compatibility. The screen is also the default viewer for the reverse camera. Bluetooth is also standard and has audio streaming and hands-free calling.

ILS, or Intelligent Light System, is standard on the 119. It’s a full LED system, covering the indicators, DRLs, low, high, and cornering lights. The spread is speed dependent also, and with Highbeam Assist Plus adjusts to suit speed and the lighting conditions. It does this by actuating the dipped-beam, partial main-beam and main-beam headlamps as required.

The exterior now has new colours including Graphite Grey and Selenite Grey, along with Steel Blue and Hyacinth Red metallic. There are two 18 inch alloy wheels, one with a 5-twin-spoke design in Tremolite Grey with a high sheen finish, and one with a 5-spoke design in black also with a burnished finish. There are also 17 inch black painted alloy wheels available.

The Vito Crew Cab dual purpose vehicle, which can carry up to six passengers, is available with the 116 or 119 CDI engine. The Valente 8 seater people mover is available with the 116 CDI engine. this highlights the flexibility of the Vito range, with body lengths, the engine choices, and styles.

Speak to your local Mercedes-Benz dealership for a test drive.

Stellantis: One New Name, A New Home For Many

Stellantis. It’s the umbrella name for the coming together of two major automotive groups, the Peugeot and Citroen Alliance, and the Fiat Chrysler conglomerate. There are brands as diverse as Opel to Maserati, Citroen’s DS to Vauxhall, and there is already murmurs of upgrades to vehicles produced by companies now joined as one.

The full list, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Lancia, and Maserati from FCA, and Citroën, DS, Opel, Peugeot, and Vauxhall from to PSA means that there is over 120 years of automotive history brought together. And collectively, there are now over 400,000 personnel with that collective pool of experience and knowledge.

John Elkann is the Chairman of the Stellantis board, and says: “It is no coincidence that Stellantis is born precisely when our world requires a new kind of automotive company that will champion clean and intelligent solutions to provide freedom of movement for all. Our global scale and reach provide us with the resources to invest in state-of-the-art technologies, distinctive excellence and unmatched choice for our customers.

But it is the geographic and cultural diversity of Stellantis’ people that from Day One is our greatest competitive advantage. It is they, with their energy, their knowhow and their constant commitment who make Stellantis what it is today. And it is they who day-by-day will build an even greater company for this new era of mobility.”Echoing his words is the new Chief Executive Officer, Carlos Tavares, with: “This is a great day. One year after we announced this project, Stellantis is born, notwithstanding the unprecedented societal and economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to warmly thank all of the teams who made this possible and also thank the entire workforce who continued to move our operations forward during this exceptional year.

This demonstrates the agility, creativity and adaptability of our company which aims to be great rather than big, determined to be much more than the sum of its parts. It is also a further signal of the new company’s determination to be a leading player in the automotive industry in this ever changing environment. Stellantis is dedicated to “pursuing greatness” and enhancing the well-being of its employees.”

The group’s spread reaches to over 130 countries, and the brands cover the full spectrum of market segments from luxury, premium and mainstream passenger vehicles to hard-charging pickup trucks, SUVs and light commercial vehicles, as well as dedicated mobility, finance and parts and service brands. This new group now expects to leverage its size and economies of scale to invest in innovative mobility solutions for its global customer base. Forward estimates see Stellantis looking at a revenue base of over five billion Euro in a synergystic way of spreading the brands.

Achieving that revenue will come from a streamliniung of processes, including how purchasing is conducted, the crossover of drivetrains and platforms, and an amortisation of Research and Development. Currently, that estimate also comes from not closing any production plants. To ensure that all departments flow smoothly, including company-wide performance & strategy, planning, regions, manufacturing, brand and styling, there will be nine Governance Committees.

2021 Peugeot 308 GT-Line: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Peugeot’s stylish contender in the small to mid size hatchback category, with the addition of a wagon. There is the entry Allure, a Touring (wagon), the GT-Line and GT, which disappeared from the Peugeot Au site in January and has been discontinued. The 308 itself is an attractive looking machine, but is it a city or highway car?How Much Is It?: The range starts at $30,499 for the Allure, and has $34,990 against the GT-Line as a drive-away price.

Under The Bonnet Is: Peugeot’s award winning engine at 1.2L of capacity, with three cylinders, a preference for petrol, and their EAT6 auto with eight ratios. Peak power is 96kW @5,500rpm, and a handy turbo-fed 230Nm @1,750Nm. It’s EURO6 emissions compliant at just 112 grams of CO2 per kilometre, and comes with Stop/Start tech. Peak economy is best seen on the highway, says Peugeot, where they quote 4.2L/100km. In the “burbs” they say 6.4L/100km, and the combined cycle is 5.0L/100km. Fuel tank size is 53.0L. This didn’t equate to our real world driving, as just 250km worth of city driving had the gauge reading at a half tank used. Our overall average finished at 7.7L/100km on our typical 70/30 urban to highway split.

On The Outside It’s: Typically French with good looks, svelte curves, and a hint of in-your-face assertiveness. It stands just 1,457mm in height yet is a proportionally longish 4,253mm, and spreads 1,553mm to 1,559mm in track. It’s low, long, and as a result, comes with an assertive road stance. There are the signature fins in the headlight assembly and the strip of LEDs for the indicators located in the “eyebrow” of the headlights.The rear lights feature another “Pug” signature, with the three strip “claw marks”. Wheels are alloys and painted a flat dark grey on sections of the wheel that give a ten spoke look. Rubber is, of course, Michelin, and are the super grippy Pilot Sport 3 at 225/40/Z18.

On The Inside It’s: Oddly, not quite as user friendly, in a couple of ways, as the Partner van. That has a better driver’s screen interface which is more accessible via the steering wheel tabs. In this 308 it was a button the right hand, wiper operating, stalk.

The button to deactivate the Stop/Start system, which is just that little bit too eager in the 308 GT-Line, is also more visible in the Partner.

Seats are cloth covered with leather type material on the wings, and metallic looking threads in the middle.The audio is AM/FM only, however a smartphone can be connected via USB or Bluetooth. It sits atop a dash with a defined W styling, and with minimal secondary controls.

This means using it necessitates eyes off the road as all main controls are on the exterior of the screen, and don’t always respond to a tap the first time whilst in motion.

Cabin plastics have a hard touch yet have a fine grain to the touch.

To start the 308, a press button Start/Stop system is employed, with the button in the centre console and for safety’s sake must be held for a second or so. The park brake comes on automatically when the doors are opened and although there is a setting to disengage it, it’s just as easy to start, then press it off as it’s right behind the Start button.

The indicator stalk is on the left hand side, with auto wipers engaged and disengaged by a dip of the right hand stalk. The wipers themselves aren’t terribly robust in motion.Airvents are thin horizontally and the touchscreen is the only option in controlling the system. And until you re-touch another tab, it’ll stay on the chosen (i.e. aircon) screen until the car powers off.

That centre console holds just one cup, with smallish bottle holders in the four doors.

The rear hatch is manually operated, opening to a 435L cargo section, with the press tab logically located in the upper section of the number plate recess. Seats down, there’s 1,274L. The spare, incidentally, is a space saver.On The Road It’s: A firm ride on the highways, with just the right amount of damping when required.

It does, though, exhibit skittishness on some road joins and the like, with a mild but noticeable steering rack shake and accompanying left or right hop.

The location of the steering wheel, a Peugeot design signature, allows the GT-Line to feel sporty in the hands and in the handling. Its light, but not so that it isolates feedback.

The eight speed auto is a pearler, with quick shifts and perfectly matched to the tiny engine’s torque delivery.

We did notice though that the engine isn’t a fan of cold morning starts. Our time with the Peugeot 308 GT-Line coincided with some varying La Nina weather, with some mornings having a lacklustre and slow to react driveline.

We also noticed that the turbo behaviour would be different in nature at the same driving points, such as being ready to kick in or well off boost at the same speed coming to the same stop sign or give way sign.

In some instances, this lead to a few deep breath as the lack of urge at times had oncoming traffic looking to be in proximity earlier than they should, whereas at other times the engine would be ready to pull the 308 away without fuss. Disconcerting? Just a bit…

When it’s all cooperating, the engine and auto make a wonderful around town companion. There’s some decent urge from a standing start, and rolling acceleration is also decent without being outstanding.It’s a good highway cruiser, and is relatively quiet, even with the limpet grip Michelin tyres.

Unfortunately for us, the 308 wasn’t as suitable as needed for our Christmas travel requirements. This means the economy for the distance knowing to be travelled would be problematic with four humans and a decent amount of luggage.

Also, in some areas, the 1.2L would have struggled in the numerous uphill runs known for the route, and again would have played havoc with the economy.

What About Safety?: Pretty standard nowadays with AEB, Forward Collision Warning, and Sign Recognition.
Blind Spot Alert, reverse camera, and six airbags complement the main features.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years warranty and unlimited kilometres are standard, and servicing is capped price, with Peugeot’s website providing specific pricing per vehicle type.

At The End Of The Drive. In a very competitive market, the 308 range is up against the Cerato, i30, Corolla, offerings from Ford and Mazda, and Renault’s Megane.

The drive is good, the drive-train a willing package, and it’s not unattractive inside and out.

In our opinion, it’s a very good city car and a not unworthy consideration on price. Having just two models to choose from makes choice an easy one but when others offer a broader range, it can be seen as a factor against it.

The dichotomy of the engine’s performance left us wondering about the overall consistency of delivery, a factor that doesn’t appear to be an issue in other brands.

Electric History: Hispano-Suiza Carmen Boulogne.

One of the oldest names in automotive and aviation circles, Hispano-Suiza, has launched a second vehicle in its 21st century rebirth. In 2019 the company unveiled the Carmen, a re-interpretation of a classic design from the 1930s called the Dubonnet Xenia. The Carmen Boulogne is a sportier evolution of that iconic vehicle. It is a fully electric vehicle and exclusivity will be stratospheric. Just five will be produced.

Dubonnet Xenia 1930s

The company’s lineage can be traced back over 120 years. Emilio de la Cuadra, a Spanish artillery captain, had been working on electric cars in Barcelona in 1898. During a visit to Paris, he met and subsequently employed Marc Birkigt, a Swiss born engineer. The pair collaborated and swiftly produced two gasoline powered engines which were released in 1900. Some financial hiccups saw a restructuring in 1902 and 1903, with a new owner and name change to Fábrica Hispano-Suiza de Automóviles (Spanish-Swiss Automobile Factory) which went bankrupt in 1903.

La-Cuadra automobile

José María Castro Fernández was the owner and in 1904 the company underwent yet another rebuild, this time more successfully and known as La Hispano-Suiza Fábrica de Automóviles. Damian Mateu, a Spanish entrepreneur, would partner with Birkigt to formalise the rebirth, and his granddaughter, Carmen, is the inspiration for the naming of the company’s 21st century vehicles. Come WW1 and aircraft engines would be produced under the watchful eyes of Birkigt. 1919 and they returned to automotive manufacturing and grew from there.

The Boulogne name dates back to 1921, when Hispano Suiza made a racing version of its high-performance H6 Coupé and entered it in the George Boillot Cup, an endurance race lasting more than 3.5 hours around the French city of Boulogne. Three consecutive victories with André Dubonnet (1921), Paul Bablot (1922), and Léonce Garnier (1923) driving the mighty Hispano Suiza H6, would be the results.

The Hispano Suiza Carmen Boulogne pays tribute to these historic motorsport victories with this fully electrically powered version packing 1,100hp/820 kW and a maximum velocity of 180mph/290kmh. The sprint to 100kmh (62mph) will take just 2.6 seconds. Four permanent-magnet synchronous engines, two on each rear wheel, will power the carbon fiber roof, body, and subframed Carmen Boulogne. The design, engineering, and production of the Carmen Boulogne is a result of a collaboration between Hispano-Suiza and a company specializing in the development of electric motors and motorsports, QEV Technologies.

Formula-E, a race series and a working test-bed for battery powered vehicles, has contributed to the development of the 1,180ft-lb/1,600Nm engines, and lithium-ion polymer batteries. These have a capacity of 80kWh (and can be upgraded later, says the company, with a 105kWh pack in development), and can see the Carmen Boulogne to a range of up to 250 miles/400 kilometres.

2021 Hispano-Suiza Carmen Boulogne

They are an in-house designed and produced T-shaped unit, including a complete temperature control system (including three radiators) to ensure that the cells can operate optimally. It has a fast-charging capacity of more than 80 kW DC, requiring only 30 minutes to charge to 30-80% capacity via a CCS2 fast charger. It also has CHAdeMO and GB/T charging options. Torque-vectoring is employed to ensure the Carmen Boulogne is kept straight under acceleration.

That 4.7 meter long carbon fiber body will be protected by coats of clear varnish, allowing those outside to see the strength of the material, and the emphasis on light-weight sportiness. It will also dramatically emphasise the slippery design, with a drag co-efficient of just 0.32cD. The distinctive semi-circular headlights of the Carmen will be kept, and flanked by a new copper coloured grille, with highlights of the same hue found inside.

2021 Hispano-Suiza Carmen Boulogne cabin

The five buyers can customise the Carmen Boulogne to their own bespoke tastes, thanks to Hispano-Suiza’s “Unique Tailormade” in-house department. Suede or Alcantara will be the interior trim choices as a starting point.

Pricing for the Hispano-Suiza Carmen Boulogne starts from 1.65 million euros plus local taxes (approx USD1,942,000), and its manufacturing process, handmade with the utmost precision, requires approximately twelve months.

The five units of the Carmen Boulogne hypercar join the 14 units of the Carmen to reach a total of 19 units in production, with the first unit ready to be delivered in 2022.

2021 Hispano-Suiza Carmen Boulogne tail

2020 Peugeot Partner 130 LCV: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: One of the three variants of Peugeot’s “little” Light Commercial Vehicle range. There are a diesel four or petrol three cylinder with differing torque & power, and two body sizes to look at. Oh, the petrol comes with manual or auto.

How Much Does It Cost?: $31,490 in basic white plus on road costs is what the 130 version we tested starts at. The lower power output 110 starts from $25,990 plus ORC. The diesel, exclusively a long body, starts from $30,490 plus ORC.

Under The Bonnet Is: 96kW and 230 torques for the higher spec, 1.2L, three cylinder petrol. The other offers 81kW and 205Nm, with the 1.6L diesel churning out 68kW and restricted to the same torque figure as the 130. Peugeot’s spec sheet says 7.3L/100km for the urban, 5.7L and 6.3L for the highway and combined cycles. We finished on an overall 8.2L/100km with our best seen as 5.2L/100km on a good freeway run.On The Outside It’s: Well, a small, light commercial vehicle. Fridge white in colour, there are strong familial hints, such as the bluff nose, fin shaped headlight insert, and smooth, ovoid shapes in the sheetmetal. The vehicle supplied has the long body, with dual sliding doors, one per side. The rear door is split vertically and at a 60/40 percentage. The left side opens first, with a small lever mid-height for the second door. There are bump strips spread over each door and sit under a matching in shape crease-line in the metal.

At the top of the rear doors is a plastic housing that holds a digital camera. This works for both the reverse drive and supplies the image to the rear vision display. Yup. The doors are solid metal, therefore a camera is needed to show rear vision. It’s slightly painful to use as it must be engaged every time the ignition is switched on.Wheels are steel, and measure 15 inches in diameter. Michelin supply the commercial style 205/60 Energy Saver rubber.

Dimensions vary from 4,403mm to 4,753mm for the overall length, with 2,785mm to 2,975mm in wheelbase. Overall height sees the Partner stand at 1,880mm.

On The Inside It’s: A typical commercial vehicle with hard plastics, nooks and crannies, and one key difference. The rear vision mirror isn’t a mirror, as mentioned. It’s a low-res LCD screen that displays the image the camera, located above the sheet-metal clad rear doors, shows both rearward and to the left. It’s not an auto-on item either, requiring manual activation every time the ignition is switched on.

There are two buttons, one to show the rear view, the other to show just the left hand view. This is more for reversing in areas where a kerb would be. It’s not great in usage, and blurry in just about every detail with the lack of resolution making a vehicle even a few metres behind indistinctive.The seats are cloth covered and it’s a hard wearing material with a nice feel and two tone look. The passengers seats are a 1.5 split, not really suitable for two but bigger than normal for one. Peugeot says the design has a lifting outbound passenger seat folding middle with mobile office table and storage. The tiller is akin to the sporting style seen in other Peugeot vehicles, with a flat bottom and contoured for better grip.

A pair of glove boxes sit in front of the passenger, and above both is a mesh look to a cabin wide cargo shelf. Cargo itself behind the seats is separated by a solid barrier of black plastic with a small window at the top. There is a capacity of a tonne, and the rear doors are wide enough to slide in a pallet. If required, the lower section of the barrier can be detached to allow a slightly longer load to creep through and under the seats.

Between the wheel arches is 1,229mm of space, with a total load height of 1,243mm. Actual capacity maxes at 3.8 cubic metres, and maximum length on the long wheelbase is 3,090mm with the cabin extension. Otherwise, it’s 1,817mm for the cargo section, complete with black cladding. Six tie-down points are standard.Convenience wise the audio and touchscreen system is basic in look, however does feature Apple and Android apps, but no digital radio. A single USB port is located to the bottom right. The upper console has a pair of cupholders.

On The Road It’s: A lot of fun to drive. Yes, that shouldn’t be said in the same sentence as light commercial vehicle, however there is something ethereally charming about these little three cylinder engines. Ignition is key operated, drive is selected via a dial in the console, situated below the cup holders. It initially seemed a bit more miss than hit, yet quickly became intuitive. The Partner features an electronic parking brake and this is less intuitive in disengaging.

It feels quick to get underway, however the speedo dial disagrees to a point. It’s reasonably flexible, this three cylinder and eight speed auto, with the gears changing swiftly and smoothly as required, whilst the peak torque taps out at 1,750rpm, making around town and highway driving as easily employed as possible. There is that typical three cylinder thrum underway, that slightly off-kilter but not unpleasant engine note as revs rise and fall. It pulls well from idle, spins easily to over 4,000rpm, and occasionally would chirp the front tyres from a hard launch.

Suspension wise it’s also quite decent, providing ample backup to the relatively narrow Michelin rubber. Quick steering also chimes in, with only minor effort required in lane changing to three point turns. Discs front and rear haul up the 1,366kg (kerb weight) van easily.Naturally, though, it’s a drum when it comes to road noise. The tyres don’t dial out much of the tarmac surface rumble, and it’s readily transmitted to the cargo area when empty. We did get a chance to load it up at one point, and road noise was noticeably reduced.

What About Safety?: It’s basic. There is Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, and Video Autonomous Emergency Braking. Airbags are driver, passenger, and front side curtain airbags. Interestingly but smartly, Peugeot also package in road traffic sign recognition.What About Warranty And Service?: It’s 5 years or 200,000 kilometres for their light commercials. First service is $441, second jumps to $685, with third dropping to $517. Fourth jumps to $698, with fifth service down to $454. Intervals are yearly, or more likely, every 15,000 kilometres.

At The End Of The Drive. It’s a more than adequate light commercial van and ideally suited for local courier style runs, flower or cake deliveries, and the like. The ample cargo capacity for its size, the dual opening doors on the sides, and the wide opening rears also bring plenty of flexibility.

The drivetrain is sprightly and usable across all driving situations, and certainly economic enough for most daily drivers. Ride quality unladen is ok, and improves both in handling and road noise with a bit of weight inside. It’s well priced, but the downside of that low-res rear vision counts against it. Check it out here.

 

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.

2020 Citroen C3 Shine: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A car from a brand with a reputation for being innovative and quirky, but not necessarily at the same time.

Citroen’s C3 has been part of the legendary French brand for some time and has morphed from a rounded hatch to a flatter looking mini-SUV. A variation on the theme is the Aircross which once had plastic panels fitted with air-filled pockets, yet no longer does. The C3 itself, though, has a set of four small panels called AirBump, one for each door. The front has five pockets, the rear just two.

The idea is to provide some sort of very low speed impact protection from marauding shopping trolleys, however if this seemingly otherwise good idea were actually that good, we would see it on every car. It’s worth noting that Citroen themselves once had these panels covering all of the door, not just a small section…How Much Does It Cost?: In real terms, it’s a bit ouchy. Call it $28,990 drive-away for a car the size of a Mini, however there is the currency exchange rate to consider. This price was, at the time of writing, available for cars delivered by November 30, 2020. In comparison, Kia’s Cerato hatch and sedan were on a drive-away offer (October 30, 2020 end date) of $23,990.
Metallic paint, such as the Platinum Grey and white roof combo fitted to our test car, is an optional cost of $590. The C3 comes with a body and roof combination range of Opal White and Red, Almond Green and Black, Perla Nera Black and Red, Ruby red and Black, and Cobalt Blue and White.

Under The Bonnet Is: Another of the back pocket sized 1.2L turbo three cylinders proliferating in smaller cars. The addition of a turbo has breathed new life into these, adding much needed torque. There is 81kW and 205Nm. The auto is the EAT6 and matches the thrummy 3 cylinder perfectly. It’s a sipper, too, with 6.1L/100km seen on our 70/30 urban/highway cycle. The official combined cycle figure is 4.9L/100km.On The Outside It’s: Soft and round, with nary a sharp crease to be found. Ovoid is the term, with the body, roof, front and rear lights, all curvy. The straightest lines, somewhat ironically, are the plastic panels containing the air pockets…unless you count the delineation in colour between roof and body. It’s designed so the LED driving lights look like the headlights, the headlights sit slap bang in the middle of the bumper, and above the halogen driving lights. The roofline slopes gently downwards from the A-pillar and slightly protuberant tail lights. 205/55/16 Michelin Premacy 3 rubber and simple eight spoke alloys finish the package. It’s compact at 3,990mm in total length but packs a very decent 2,540mm wheelbase, meaning minimal overhangs for the front and rear. Height is petite too, at just 1,470mm.

On The Inside It’s: A mirror, on the door trims and door handles, of the exterior airbumps. The dash is a flat and slabby affair, with the dash standing out from the door joins rather than flowing into them. Plastics lack that sense of tactile appeal, unfortunately. The airvents also mirror the ovoid motif. Audio is AM/FM, with no DAB. The touchscreen is a 7.0 inch affair and has both Apple and Android connectivity.For the driver’s it’s a standard dual dial design in the binnacle with a separate monochrome info screen. The tiller has the slightly squared off bottom end and is leather clad. The seats are comfy, and clad in a black, grey and orange stitched mix. Gears are selected by a “J gate” style lever with leather surrounds. The cargo section has a low floor but isn’t especially capacious at 300L. 922L is the figure with the 60/40 rear seats folded. Supplementary storage and equipment is minimal with small cup holders, slightly oversized bins for the doors, along with auto headlights and wipers but manual seat adjustment.On the Road It’s: Always fun to drive. Three cylinder engines have a massive appeal due to their aural presence. There’s an off-kilter rumble, one that never sounds rough or wrong as revs climb, rather it becomes a more sonorous sonic hello to the eardrums. Suspension tune is erring to the soft side but stopping short of bouncing the body off the bump stops. Steering feel is also slightly woolly, with no real conversation to the driver’s hands but weighted so three point turns are an easy trick.

Torque deliver brings a patient rise in speed, but also one that isn’t overly lax in performance. It’s no rocketship, true, yet there is enough verve and oomph in the engine’s mid-range delivery to provide that just-right go around town.

Stop-Start is fitted and confuses the engine sometimes coming up to a stop sign; the brake pedal has that borderline pressure required to engage it or not, and occasionally it would shut down the engine just as the foot would lift from the pedal. This leads to that hesitation that interrupts acceleration just as it’s needed. the auto also had the occasional dose of indecision, mostly at light throttle, banging between lower gears before settling on one as the speed rose.

What about Service And Warranty?: 5 Year Free Scheduled Service, 5 Year Unlimited KM Warranty & 5 Year 24/7 Roadside Assistance.

What About Safety?: Minimal, in relation to others. AEB is fitted as are six airbags, rear sensors, lane departure warning, and reverse camera, but that’s about it.

At The End Of The Drive: Citroen is up against with the C3 Shine. Price is one thing, perceived value is another. It’s a fun little car to drive, a cute little car to look at, but when put against cars such as the Picanto, Mazda’s 2, or the VW Polo, the Shine fades. The stylish quirks of the airbumps have disappeared from the C3 and C5 Aircross, and the forthcoming C3 loses four bumps, offset by a small increase in size.

If slightly oddball French chic is your thing, find out more here.

Peugeot 2008 Ready To Roll For Australia

Peugeot has released details of the soon to be released, for the Australian market, 2008. It’s the baby SUV the company has had overseas for a few months, and for Australia it will come in a two tier range, Allure and GT. A third model, presumably called GT-Line, is due in early 2021.

Engine. The Allure and GT will share a 1.2L three cylinder petrol engine with turbo. The Allure has a six speed auto to match the 96kW/230Nm spec, with the GT getting an eight speed auto and 115kW/240Nm powerplant. Economy for each will be similar, with 6.5L/100km for the Allure, and 6.1L/100km for the slightly more torquier GT. That’s important as the Allure, at 1,247kg, is 40kg lighter than the GT. Tank size is 44L. The drivetrain for the Allure is intended more for those of the “let’s have fun” group”, with the Advanced Grip Control programmed for Mud, Sand, and Snow.Body. The grilles give away which model is which. The Allure has horizontal strips, the GT has verticals. The front end has a sharper look that the previous 2008, and features redesigned headlights, with the GT notable for the three vertical strips that match the blade LED driving light as seen on the gorgeous 508. The lower air intake will house the forward facing sensor for the adaptive cruise control and AEB. Active Blind Spot Monitoring for the GT is standard, as is Adaptive Cruise. The GT also has an advantage over the Allure with the AEB being low-light capable for both pedestrian and cyclist. Eco/Normal/Sport driving modes are also GT specific.Wheel size is 215/60/17 and 215/55/18 for the Allure and GT, with inserts to provide different looks. Both cars will have a 16 inch space saver. For the sides, a pair of triangular creases joing the front and rear, and the rear lights have the familiar triple claw look now housed in a slimmer casing. Both are 4,300mm in length, and share a 2,605mm wheelbase. They stand 1,550mm tall and are 1,770mm in width.Above the rear window is a black spoiler for the GT, a body coloured unit for the Allure. the wing mirrors will be the same. For the GT, a full glass sunroof can be optioned. A small and interesting note: the 2008 badge has the 00 linked together in an infinity sign, a symbol that Peugeot embodies as never-ending development.

Equipment. 180 degree parking cameras, climate control, and heated mirrors are common to both, as are electric parking brakes. Over the Allure, the GT has front and rear sensors, semi-auto aprk assist, a different gear selector, and paddle shifters. The GT also has alloy pedals and 8 colours for the LED ambient lighting. Luxury gets a bump with full grain, perforrated, leather for the steering wheel and gear selector.

For the fronts eats the Allure has a 7.0 inch touchscreen, the GT gets a 10.0 inch unit. Wireless charging is standard for the GT and there are a pair of USB ports up front; one is the USB-A and the other the smaller USB-C. There are two USBs for the rear seats. In between the front ports is a folding cover that reveals the nook for the charge plate, with the door having a small ridge to rest the phone on for a widescreen orientation. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard for both. For the driver both have a 3D look display screen, with a unique design bringing information “forward” in the way it looks. The GT has a full Nappa leather interior.On The Road. The GT has the better feel on road, with a sense of more energy, and just that little bit more grip. That’s a seat of the pants feedback, as the footprint for both is identical, so put it down to the slightly smaller sidewall on the GT’s rubber. The steering in both is well weighted, as you’d expect. The eight speeder in the GT makes for a better overall response to the throttle, with a Sport mode adding extra pep. And of course, the brake feel is spot on.Our time with the Allure and GT was part of the media launch held in the northern area of Sydney, with drive time in each just over an hour. Depending on availability, AWT hopes to be able to spend a week with one or the other in early 2021.Pricing is currently set as $34,990 MLP for the Allure and $43,990 MLP for the GT. That price disparity accounts for the GT being fully loaded and with essentially only a glass roof and a choice of seven exterior colours including three pearlescent paints as options.

2021 Volvo XC40 R-Design PHEV: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Volvo’s SUV entry into the hybrid world and specifically the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle world. The R-Spec sits at the top of the mid-range for the XC40 and looks an ideal way to get the Swedish brand into the market for hybrid SUVs.

How Much Does It Cost?: Volvo provided, as always, an extensive information sheet. The manufacturer’s list price is $64,990. As tested, the vehicle supplied was $69,760. Metallic paint is a premium price here and double the asking cost of nearly everyone else in the segment at $1,150. A powered folding rear seat headrest and cargo protection net is $230. A Climate Pack which consists of heated wipers, heated front seats, and heated tiller is $700. A big tech item is the 360 degree camera is $990, with tinted rear windows at $700. For the heated rear seat that’s $350 with Park Assist Pilot at $650.What’s Under The Bonnet?: A combination of a three cylinder 1.5L petrol motor and battery powered engine. The petrol motor is 1.5L in capacity, and generates 132kW of peak power and 265Nm of peak torque. This is backed up by the 60kW and 160Nm from the electric motor. Consumption is quoted as 2.2L/100km for the combined cycle and that is eminently achievable. We saw nothing worse than 4.6L/100km, meaning a theoretical range of around 1,000km. It also reduces emissions, with 50g/km the quoted figure. Tank size is 48.0L. 0-100kph time is quoted as 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 205kph.On the Outside It’s: Unchanged from the “normal XC40” bar the addition of a port fitted for the battery pack on the left forward flank. To see our original review, click here for more.

On The Inside It’s: Also largely the same. The virtual dash has the addition of Hybrid in the right hand dial, and the main touchscreen, which swipes left or right for submenus, now has the addition of a “Charge” tab, to engage the engine whilst driving to add charge to the battery pack. A zipper bag is included that houses the charge cable. A simple clip ensures the bag stays in place whilst driving. The airvents have a whiff of 1950s elegance and an alloy trim plate brings class to the dash ahead of the passenger. The cargo area is of a very good size but has a flat floor, losing the more effective folding floor that opened to storage pockets underneath.On The Road It’s: An interesting drive. In our experience, hybrids start off quietly, get to around 20kph, and then, regardless if a EV Mode is selected, overrides that and kicks in the petrol engine. Here it’s the opposite, with silent electric driving UNLESS the accelerator is mashed to the floor. The three cylinder engine is isolated to the point of invisibility aurally, and is so well integrated in the drivetrain that any physical sensation is virtually free of being felt.Range on battery alone is estimated at 40 kilometres, and the dash display shows this along with the consumption. There is a regenerative change that collects kinetic energy and feeds it back to the battery. And when engaging the petrol engine to recharge that battery it’s that same seamless switch from a silky smooth electric run to a barely perceptible thrum from the three cylinder. However, it’s a two mode system and cannot be adjusted. There are drive modes, one of which is Pure. This locks the drive into only battery powered motion and when the battery runs dry, automatically switches to petrol power. Power mode hitches both electric and petrol to the drivetrain, and emulates the heavy right foot drive style needed when that just right break in the traffic comes along.It’s an ideal cruiser too, with the combined torque propelling the 1,760kg XC40 along the freeways and highways effortlessly. It’s a serene experience, with only hints of tyre and noise getting through to the cabin. That’s an impressive feat considering the 245/45/20 Pirelli P-Zero rubber. With such a sizeable footprint, more noise would be reasonably expected. They also provide, not unexpectedly, more than ample grip, with cornering a confidence-building event and with virtually zero body roll from the MacPherson strut/multi-link rear. The ride is perfect, with compliance and a sporty tautness exactly where they should be. The same applies to the steering; it’s light but not overly so. There is weight when needed but nor is it excessive or applied at the wrong time.

Braking is the area that needs work; that beautifully tactile feel has changed to a grabby and non-intuitive bite. There’s a lack now of gentle and smooth progression, it’s now a situation where it’s semi-soft before grabbing the discs and lurching the XC40 to a halt. It’s more than a niggle especially at traffic lights and stop signs where there may be a vehicle ahead, and that lurch is enough to raise the eyebrows and push the pedal harder to avoid contact.

What About Safety?: Plenty, of course. It’s what Volvo is built on. Here’s the list: City Safety: Pedestrian, Vehicle, Large Animals and Cyclist Detection, Intersection Collision and Oncoming Mitigation with Brake Support; Steering Support; Intellisafe Assist: Driver Alert; Lane Keeping Aid; Adjustable Speed Limiter function; Oncoming Lane Mitigation; Intellisafe Surround: Blind Spot Information (BLIS) with Cross TrafficAlert (CTA), Front and Rear Collision Warning with mitigation support; and Run-off road Mitigation. Hill start assist; Hill Descent Control; Park-assist Front and Rear; Rain Sensor; Drive mode with personal powersteering settings; Emergency Brake Assist (EBA); Emergency BrakeLight (EBL); Frontal Airbags, Side Impact Protection System (SIPS)with airbags in front seats, Inflatable Curtains and Whiplash ProtectionSystem; Driver’s knee airbag; Belt Reminder all seats; ISO-FIX outerposition rear seat; Intelligent Driver Information System (IDIS) complete what is an obviously extensive list.What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres. The battery has an eight year warranty excluding expected efficiency losses. Volvo has a three year capped price service plan and for the XC40 it’s $1,595.

At The End Of the Drive. Hybrid technology for the automotive world is increasingly seen as a better option than purely electric and hydrogen. The bigger the charge from the battery the more assistance it provides to the petrol engine, and the better the range. And then the range anxiety that still worries people with a purely battery only vehicle is largely alleviated, and petrol running costs are reduced significantly.

In XC40 R-Design form, hybrid tech provides an ideal opportunity to sample it and in a car that is an award winning vehicle. There is plenty to like here, and it’s a car worthy of investigating to place in the driveway. Here is some information from Volvo.

 

2020 Peugeot 5008 GT Line: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Peugeot’s quite sexy 5008 mid-sized SUV. Effectively a stretched 3008, and sharing the front cabin, the 5008 grows to a seven seater.

How Much Does It Cost?: As of October 2020 its on a drive away price of $55,990 including premium paint, Nappa leather seats, and glass roof.

Under The Bonnet Is: A detuned version of the 1.6L engine found in the 508, or the same engine in the 3008. That’s 121kW and 240Nm plus the six speed, not eight speed auto. Its a frugal thing with our economy result an overall 6.7L/100km. However, freeway driving did see an on-the-fly figure of just 2.4L/100km. Tank size is a smaller than class average 56.0L.On The Outside It’s: A mid-sizer at 4,641mm in length and sits on a wheelbase of 2,840mm. That’s up from the 3008’s 4,447mm and 2,675mm. That extension is from underneath the second row seats and allows for the third row of two seats which are removable. Wheels are 19 inches in diameter and rubber is 205/55 Michelin Premacy. The spare is an 80 profile space-saver on a 18 inch wheel.Up front are the sequential indicators and the shark fin headlights. The rear has a powered tailgate with set opening level button. The rear is also more upright and boxy in comparison to the 3008 to allow for the third row seating.On The Inside It’s: The same gloriously pretty interior as seen in the 3008 and 508 with the diamond stitched and quilted black leather heated seats. Both fronts have two position memory. The second row seats are three individual units which separately slide and fold. The third are, at best, emergency seats as they don’t really offer a lot of room. Operated via the ubiquitous and simple pull strap system, both lay under a cargo floor cover of two parts, with each also moved via a small string strap.The 5008’s architecture is showing its age with no USB socket for the second row. The front seats have one only and that’s awkwardly tucked away under the lower centre section of the otherwise ergonomically spot on dash, complete with those wonderfully simple alloy look tabs for navigation, aircon, audio (including DAB) and more. That same nook houses a smartphone charge pad. As luscious to look at those tabs are, along with the wrap-around forward centre console, they’re also sun catching and tend to reflect directly into a driver’s eyes.The driver has the Peugeot family’s i-cockpit digital display with varying looks (via that same roller dial on the steering wheel’s left spoke), and the trip meter info activated, as is the Peugeot norm, via a press button on the end of the right hand, wiper activating, column stalk. Those wipers feature Peugeot’s water-saving “Magic Wash” which mists from the arms themselves and not via wasteful jets in the bonnet’s trailing edge. Auto dipping high beam is also standard as is the blue-hued mood lighting. Above the passengers is a black cloth sheet that rolls back to unveil a full glass roof.On The Road It’s: Lacking those extra two cogs and 60Nm from the 508’s 1.6L specification. The extra mass the 5008 has over the smaller and lighter 3008 also affects performance with a plus nine second run to 100kph from a standing start. However, that isn’t noticeable in the ride, with a virtually perfect mix of compliance, suppleness, and chassis control. Body roll is almost non-existent, tightening radius cornering has the nose pushing on gently and that’s controlled by a slow easing off from the accelerator.

Rolling acceleration is decent but not rapid, and when used in anger there’s little to be said aurally too, as the engine emits a restrained growl, a muted note from the exhaust, and a whole lot of otherwise, “sigh, let’s get this done”.Peugeot’s cabin design has the steering wheel sat below the driver’s display, and the size of the flat-bottomed unit brings a sense of sportiness, of engagement with the drive. Brake pedal feedback is the same high level of tactility we’ve come to expect from this underrated brand.

What About Safety?: Six airbags, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, front and rear parking sensors and park assistance are standard fit. City Park (a 90 degree parallel parking system) and a 360 degree camera are standard. The Active Lane Keeping Assistance function is standard and is only mildly intrusive, as it tugs gently rather than firmly, to straighten the 5008 up. Adaptive Cruise is standard along with AEB with camera and radar assistance.What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres, plus Peugeot’s capped price serving scheme. Booking services is performed online.

At The End Of The Drive. Peugeot is a brand that has an extensive history, is one of the older brands in Australia’s automotive landscape, and remains peculiarly invisible. Yes, our market is a strange one and there are plenty of choices available, yet against that Peugeot’s offerings are overlooked in comparison to the South East Asian based competitors. In our blunt opinion that’s a shame as there is class, good looks, high standard levels of safety and equipment, and at fair prices.That’s our opinion.

The 5008 is a great example of that classy film that lasted a week at the cinemas and yet those in the know, know how good it is. And with the baby of the “008” range, the 2008 due for imminent release at the time of writing, that superb choice expands. Check out the 5008 here.