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Mazda Adds GT SP To CX-5 And Updates Range

Japanese car maker Mazda has released details of an update to the CX-5. This includes the GT SP model being added in. Vinesh Bhindi, the Managing Director for Mazda Australia, says: “Mazda CX-5 has been our most popular model since 2019, and we are excited to expand the brand’s new SP model line into the CX-5 range with the first-ever GT SP.”

SP is a bespoke add-in for Mazda CX-9 plus can be found in the Mazda6 sedan and wagons. For the CX-5 GT SP, there is piano black side mirror covers and black metallic 19-inch alloy wheels, black interior trim highlights and seats finished in a bespoke black Maztex and Grand Luxe Synthetic Suede upholstery. The seats and trim also feature contrasting red stitching.

Power comes from normally or turboed petrol engines that sip 91RON fuel. Other versions of the CX-5 have diesels, front wheel drive or all wheel drive, plus six speed manuals.

In the CX-5 Maxx, and Maxx Sport front-wheel drive, is a direct-injected 2.0-litre Skyactiv-G petrol engine. This features a high 13.0:1 compression ratio to maximise internal efficiency and generates 115kW at 6,000rpm. Peak torque is 200Nm at 4,000rpm. Combined-cycle fuel economy sits at 6.9L/100km for the six-speed manual Maxx as well as the six-speed automatic Maxx and Maxx Sport. Combined CO2 is 160g/km for the manual and 161g/km for the automatic.

Step up a level to the i-Activ AWD Maxx and Maxx Sport and there is the bigger 2.5-litre Skyactiv-G petrol engine. This is also the standard engine for the Touring, GT, GT SP and Akera model grades. Standard transmission is a six speed auto, with power and torque rated as 140kW at 6,000rpm and 252Nm at 4,000rpm.

The Skyactiv-D is a 2.2L unit and has a pair of turbos. This endows the engine with massive flexibility, with 450Nm of torque on tap at 2,000rpm, and peak power of 140kW. It’s available in Maxx Sport, Touring, GT and Akera models with automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Economy is rated at 5.7L/100km. Go to the Skyactiv-G 2.5T, which is available on GT and above levels, and it produces 170kW at 5,000rpm and 420Nm available from 2,000rpm. Economy is rated at 8.2L/100km on the combined cycle.

Trim and equipment levels include the brand’s latest 10.25 inch Mazda Connect touchscreen for the Mazda CX-5 GT, GT SP and Akera models. Maxx, Maxx Sport and Touring variants will be fitted with an 8.0 inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard across the range. The Maxx now has 17 inch alloys, replacing the steel wheels previously fitted.

Safety packages are high with the CX-5’s five star safety rating backed up by Blind Spot Monitoring, Smart City Brake Support [Forward/Reverse] with night time pedestrian detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Land Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist. Additional safety equipment includes Front LED fog lamps for Maxx Sport and above levels, front parking sensors for Touring and above, an Active Driving Display for Touring and above, plus a 360 degree monitor and adaptive LED headlights for the Akera.

Specifications start with the Maxx with 17-inch alloy wheels and 225/65 tyres, rain sensing wipers, DAB audio and Bluetooth hands-free phone/audio connection. Maxx Sport adds dual-zone climate control, paddle shift gear selection on the auto, satnav, and an auto-dimming rear vision mirror. Touring models offer heated exterior mirrors, front parking sensors, Traffic Sign Recognition, and Active Driving Display. Seating has Black Maztex and Black Grand Luxe Synthetic Suede upholstery.

GT models offer 19-inch alloy wheels with 225/55 tyres, a sunroof, powered tailgate, front seat heating with 2 position memory for the driver and 10 and 6 way power adjustment (driver and passenger), a Bose sound system, and the aforementioned 10.25 inch touchscreen. Bose provides a 10 speaker sound system.

The new GT SP adds in black metallic 19-inch alloy wheels and black exterior mirror caps, with the interior gaining black Maztex and Black Grand Luxe Synthetic Suede seat upholstery with red contrast stitching in the black leather trim. Akera spices up with a 360 degree View Monitor, Brilliant Dark 19 inch alloys, vented front pews, a heated tiller, heating on the rear seats’ outers ection and dark russet Nappa leather. The driver has a 7.0 inch TFT screen, and genuine wood trim adorns the door and dash. Paint colours include Snowflake White Pearl White Mica, Titanium Flash Mica, Eternal Blue Mica, Deep Crystal Blue Mica and Jet Black Mica plus Sonic Silver Metallic at no extra cost.

Premium metallic paints are available at $495 (MRLP) and include Machine Grey Metallic, Polymetal Grey Metallic and Soul Red Metallic. Pricing starts at $31,190 plus ORC for the Maxx Petrol Manual FWD, $33,190 plus ORC for the auto FWD whilst the AWD sees $36,190 plus ORC. Maxx Sport FWD with auto and petrol is $36,490 plus ORC and the AWD is $39,490. Diesel AWD Maxx Sport starts from $42,490 plus ORC.

Touring Petrol Auto AWD is $41,280 plus ORC, Touring Diesel Auto AWD is $44,280 plus ORC. GT Petrol Auto AWD starts from $46,990 plus ORC, petrol turbo from $46,490 plus ORC, with the diesel from $49,990 plus ORC. GT SP Petrol auto AWD from $47,490 plus OC, with the turbo version from $49,990 plus ORC. The Akera Petrol Auto AWD starts from $49,380 plus ORC, Akera Petrol Turbo Auto AWD from
$51,880 plus ORC, and Akera Diesel Auto AWD from $52,380 plus ORC.

Making Your Next Car Loan Easier

Are you in the market for a new set of wheels? Here are our top tips to remember when you apply for a car loan, things which will make your experience a whole lot smoother.

1. Be realistic when you choose your vehicle. While you might desire a nippy brand new little red sports car you’ve always dreamed of, if you are buying your first car or a family car, it’s best to be realistic. A little red convertible is not very practical as a family vehicle, and if this is your first car, you’d probably be better off with something small, economical and probably second-hand. However, if you’re hunting for a second car for fun, then you can indulge your dreams a little.

2. The more you can pay up-front, the less you have to borrow and the less interest you will have to pay. Deals involving zero deposits look very attractive, but you will end up paying more in the long run as interest accumulates. Saving up a little before you buy a car is wise for this reason and for another reason: if you have to wait a bit, you are less likely to be impulsive and get the wrong vehicle for your needs.

 


3. Plan your budget: before you sign on the dotted line, and make sure that you will be able to meet the monthly repayments. For many people, this may be the first time they actually set a budget. Don’t forget to leave a buffer just in case of an emergency.

4. Larger payments over a shorter period or smaller payments over a longer period? A shorter term for the loan means that you pay less interest, but your budget will be committed more heavily with less room to move. However, lower payments over a longer term may be more easily fitted into an existing budget, especially if you’re forced into buying a new car to get to and from work.

 


5. Ask if you are able to make additional payments on top of your regular repayments so you can pay your loan off more quickly. Some finance companies allow you to do this without any penalty. Meanwhile, others have an early repayment fee. If the company that offers the best deal does charge an early payment fee, do the maths. Is the fee lower than the interest you would have otherwise paid?

6. Don’t just buy the first car you see that fits your requirements. Shop around, do your research and do your homework. Consider all aspects of your purchase, including running costs, as well as the number of seats and the size of the car. Also think about what happens when repairs become necessary, as those costs can add up quickly.

2021 Kia Stonic GT-Line: Car Review.

When Toyota launched the RAV4 its a fair bet that no one would have expected that car to have spawned a completely new genre of cars. The SUV is now everywhere and has been so pervasive that brands such as Bentley and Maserati also have an SUV in their garages.The latest addition to what seems to be a never ending line of variations is the city SUV. In real terms, they’re not much more than a small hatch given a centimetre or two extra ride height and perhaps some body cladding.

Kia’s new Stonic, a replacement for the boxy yet funky Soul, drops firmly into the city SUV slot. Based on the small Rio hatch, Stonic comes in a two trim level offering, Sport and GT-Line, with an engine for each.

The GT-Line has the same 1.0L turbo three cylinder now found in Rio, a seven speed dual clutch auto, and a reasonable level of equipment. Power is rated at 74kW, torque at 172Nm. There are the usual three drive modes, being Eco, Normal, and Sport. The “base” Stonic makes do with a naturally aspirated 1.4L petrol engine. It’s priced, in GT-Line trim, from $29,990 plus $595 for premium paint, as found on our metallic black coated review vehicle.Although the Stonic is barely big enough to be placed in a shopping bag, Eco is best suited for what the name suggests. Freeway and highway driving is its forte, with Sport better for leaving traffic lights, whilst Normal works its magic around the ‘burbs.

It’s a quiet and effortless cruiser, with the engine singing quietly to itself at around 1,500rpm. Go for an overtake, and the relative lack of torque is felt for the 1,227kg (dry) Stonic GT-Line, and the auto dithers a bit as it drops one, then two, perhaps three ratios.

Economy is a curious one here. At no time did we see a sub 6.0L figure, with a best of 6.4L100km seen on a freeway run. The overall final figure was 8.8L/100km. Possibly part of that was the drive defaulting to Eco, not Normal, with a sluggish rate of acceleration, and a DCT that was at times indecisive about its actions. Experimentation found the best way to get the 1200kg Stonic under way, as with most small capacity engines and a DCT, was a throttle pressure somewhere between egg shell and light.Anything more threw the DCT into a tizz, with changes that were unsure, and waiting on the computer to tell the turbo to spin up. It was a constant battle on that front, with Give Way and Stop signs seeing the kettle go off boil and having to wait a vital second or so to start percolating again.

The suspension suffers from the same problem; freeway rides were smooth and the damping out of the usual rises and falls were dispatched without issue. Low speed ride comfort was the opposite, with some bumps feeling as if the tyre was flat and the travel to hit the bumpstop was barely an inch.

There were times when that suspension tune had the Stonic GT-Line feeling skatey, with a hint of the tyres moving across the tarmac, yet never actually losing traction in the end. Driveways had the front end bang-crash, so very slow speeds were required.The styling of the Stonic heartily evokes the Rio, with its compact dimensions and kicked up C-pillar. It’s just 4,140mm in length and that’s 70mm longer than Rio, has a ground clearance of just 183mm, and stands a petite 1,520mm in height. That’s just 70mm taller than Rio. Wheelbase is 2,580mm, the same as the Rio’s.

Kia’s design team have given the Stonic its own distinctive face, with Cerato-like LED blades in the slimmer than Rio’s headlight cluster. There’s more Cerato in the front bumpers outermost inserts, whilst there’s a bespoke chin plate that houses the driving lights and a grille for a forward reading sensor. LEDs power the rear lights either side of an easy to lift tailgate. This reveals a modestly sized boot at 352L, expanding to 1,155L, while the rear seats fold to an almost but not quite level pegging with the boot floor itself. Underneath the carpet is a space saver spare. Rolling on stylish 17 inch machined and painted alloys, Kia have opted for grippy Continental ContiSport rubber at 205/55 profile. Up front and it’s faux-leather bolsters on the cloth covered pews, a rough finish to the carbon-fibre look trim across the dash, and an otherwise Kia looking cabin with a glossier than expected upper dash. This, though, may be down to the prep work at the pick-up and drop-off location. The aircon is single, not dual zone, the controls are the basic button and dial type, which doesn’t shout range topping, but they are intuitive to use. The hard press buttons below the 8.0 inch touchscreen are the same, and the DAB tuner exhibited the same excess signal loss as experienced in other Kia and Hyundai cars.For the driver its the standard pair of analogue dials and 4.3 inch info screen as seen elsewhere in Kia’s cars, plus the slightly flat bottomed tiller complete with the tabs familiar to Kia drivers. The rear seats have a single USB port to access at the rear of the centre console, with one up front along with a pair of 12V sockets, and only the driver’s window is one touch up and down. There are heating elements for the Stonic’s wing mirrors, a handy touch for some areas.Safety-wise there is Kia’s overeager Lane Keep Assist, with its staccato audio warning, Forward Collision Alert, and Blind Spot Assist. Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Follow Assist are also standard. Rain sensing wipers and solar glass for the main screen and side windows ease the UV rays.Behind the scenes is Kia’s seven year warranty and capped price service scheme.

At The End Of The Drive. For what the Stonic is intended for, and intended to do, it does it well enough. Clearly aimed at younger buyers, and likely the DINK crowd, it lobs into a relatively newish segment but one already visited by the likes of Audi, VW, and Mazda.

There’s internal competition from Seltos, and from sister brand Hyundai’s Kona, and Venue. In its early days as an offering, it’s the well worn “only time will tell” in how it stands up and stands out in an increasingly crowded segment.

2021 Hyundai Palisade Highlander Diesel: Private Fleet Car Review

Hyundai have finally, for the Australian market, released their Palisade. U.S. based and sourcing the name from the States, the Palisade is the step up from the Santa Fe. There’s a choice of seven or eight seats with no price difference between the two, a petrol at 3.8L or diesel at 2.2L, and the same driveline being petrol/front wheel drive or diesel/all wheel drive with torque split on demand.Pricing starts at $65K for the petrol FWD Palisade, $69,200 for the diesel version, $77,150 for the Highlander seven/eight seater with petrol and $81,350 for the diesel. Transmission is a standard eight speed auto for both engines.

It’s the diesel that should be the preferred choice if using the Palisade for its intended purpose. 147kW and 440Nm are the numbers from the 2.2L unit, and the torque is between 1,750 rpm to 2,750 rpm. Opt for the petrol and there’s 217kW and 355Nm. That, though, is at 5,200 rpm. Kerb weights nudge two tonnes, and makes economy an equation. We finished on 9.0L/100km on a 70/30 urban/highway mix, with Hyundai’s official combined figure saying 7.3L/100km for the diesel. For the petrol, it’s 10.7L, but use it on the school runs, 14.9L/100km is what should be expected. Towing? 2,200kg, says Hyundai, for both.To fit in seven or eight people and not have knees around ears, the Palisade rolls on a wheelbase of 2,900mm. Length is 4,980mm, and for shoulder room, it’s 1,975mm wide. headroom? Even with two sunroofs, it’s 1,750mm tall overall, and has 203mm ground clearance. This is for when the off-road dial in the centre console is used to switch between tarmac and off-road when Snow, Mud, and Sand get into the 245/50/20 rubber from Bridgestone’s Dueler range.Legroom in row three is 798mm, with 959mm of headroom. Shoulder room is 1,402mm. Centre row measurements are 1,077mm/1,019mm/1545mm. Up front and leg room is 1,120mm, with head and shoulder space at 1,060mm and 1,555mm. The driver’s space sees a floating centre console, with a small amount of storage space and a couple of charge points, with a storage bin on top also housing a charge point or two. On the inner section of the front seats are a USB point each. There’s a sliding cover ahead of the console storage and a wireless charge pad, complete with an outline for any handset that’s placed there. For the centre row there’s an extra 12V socket and for the third row a pair of USB ports and four cupholders.Palisade offers a kind of crossover between Santa Fe and the Genesis with a feature in the driver’s display. Although the main dials are analogue, there is a centrally located screen of 7.0 inches in size. This takes a camera feed from either left or right when indicating. There’s a hint of Kona EV as well, with the actual drive engagement via four press buttons at the upper end of the console, rather than a dial or a lever.Both middle and third row seats are manual in movement, and in the Palisade we were supplied by Hyundai Au, the third row was folded flat and there is a separate cover to protect the rear of the seats, and simultaneously provide a large cargo bay. 704L is the measurement with the third row folded and a still goodish 311L with the third row up. The exterior is noticeably yet not overtly American. There’s the Hyundai signature grille with a solid surround and a split level look for the very distinctive driving lights. They’re a pair of C shaped units that run from the bonnet to the bottom of the headlights that are situated in their own housing. It’s an impressive look and one that went from “hmmmm” to “that’s all right” very quickly. It’s also a look that caught the attention of many, with more than a few people sidling up to either eyeball the body or ask questions.There is a C motif at the rear but not quite as visible as the front end. Roofline-wise there’s a straight line from the A-pillar to the rear ‘gate, with a thick C-pillar not unlike that of the Carnival from Kia. There is chromework that provides a visual delineation too, with the rearmost window almost a separate insert and hints at the mooted ute from Hyundai. The overall proportions are pleasing and nicely balanced visually.

Get it on road and here the big Palisade impresses. It’s been said that Hyundai haven’t put the Palisade through an Aussie tuning process. It turns out that the setup is just fine as it is thank you very much. It’s an incredibly nimble thing, the Palisade, with more of a mid-sized car feel than it deserves. The steering, for example, is set to be just under three turns from side to side. This endows the Palisade with precision unexpected in a near five metre long SUV. Handling is superb thanks to a suspension setup that is compliant as needed, hard and sporting as needed, and comfortable across the board. It’s startling that it’s so right out of the box. It’s the same with the brakes; they’re intuitive to a T, with that instinctive knowledge of where the pedal is and the force needed for the appropriate stopping distance.If there is a “room for improvement” suggestion it would be for the engine. As good a unit the 440Nm 2.2L diesel is, the Palisade is designed to carry seven or eight people and it IS a bigger machine than the Santa Fe. We noticed that with four up and a bit of extra weight, the performance level dropped. Given the intent of the Palisade, something between the 2.2L and the larger powerplants available in the Genesis range, a unit with more torque wouldn’t be a bad idea.

One aboard and there is some good performance to be had though. The eight speed autos are as slick as they come, and the 2.2L diesel pulls well enough. It’s reasonably moveable but potentially not as quick as it could be, and brings the equation back to a bigger engine or a hybrid addition for torque.

Naturally there is no shortage of safety items on board, including the camera views when indicating. These can be set to soft-touch flash at three, five, or seven intervals. Or it can be turned off. AWT feels that in the interests of safety and to follow the legal requirements in regards to providing sufficient indication, the setting should be seven only.

Rain sensing wipers are standard, the rear wiper engages automatically on reverse, and driver aids like Trailer Sway Control and Hill Descent Assist as standard add extra peace of mind. Hyundai load up with the SafetySense suite, and it’s extensive.Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist – Rear, Blind-Spot View Monitor, Driver Attention Warning, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with camera and radar type and including Car/Pedestrian/Cyclist detection at City/Urban/Interurban operational speeds, High Beam Assist, Lane Keeping Assist – Line/Road-Edge, Leading Vehicle Departure Alert, Lane Following Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, Rear Occupant Alert – Advanced, Safe Exit Assist, Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go. Phew.Warranty is five years, with unlimited kilometres, and servicing is a capped price situation that can be found via your local dealer. Hyundai also offer a pre-paid service plan.

At The End Of The Drive. The Palisade Highlander is an absolute delight to drive, and absolutely family friendly. Where it’s positioned is a strange one, in one respect. Genesis. That brand is set up as a luxury aimed market, and the diesels are bigger in size and numbers for torque. Where the Palisade wins is on price and features, and space in comparison to the slightly smaller Santa Fe. In any case, it’s an impressive vehicle and will battle only prejudice against the Korean brands in its efforts to find a place in driveways.

 

Hyundai Kona Steps Further For 2021

Hyundai’s quirky Kona has been taken extra steps to continue its appeal. There’s some exterior refreshing, and the addition of the N Line name to the range. The 2021 Kona is the third new SUV in Hyundai’s ‘18 models in 18 months’ product rollout which includes the new Palisade and updated Santa Fe. There will also be a new Kona EV and a performance oriented Kona N.

Hyundai Kona 2021

“In three short years on the market, the versatile Kona has grown to become a top-seller in the class and one of our most popular models.” Hyundai Motor Company Australia Chief Executive Officer, Jun Heo said. “New 2021 Kona builds on the qualities that have drawn small-SUV buyers to the model, with an eye-catching new look, new N Line sports variants, and additional standard comfort, convenience, technology and SmartSenseTM safety features.”

The line-up introduces Kona N Line and N Line Premium, with power coming from a new engine. It’s a 146kW SmartStream 1.6 turbo unit. It drives all four corners via a DCT transmission and rides on a sports-tuned chassis with a multi-link rear suspension.

There are four models; Kona, Kona Active, Elite, and Highlander They’ll have a new SmartStream 2.0-litre petrol engine and CVT automatic pairing which will drive the front wheels. Economy is quoted as 6.2L/100km on the official combined cycle. Base Kona has 16 inch alloys. Entry level safety starts with Forward Collision Avoidance, Lane Following Assist, Smart Cruise Control, and Rear Occupant Alert. Lane Keep Assist and a Driver Attention Warning system will also be standard from the entry level up.

Standard across the range will be smartphone compatibility and a wireless charge pad, reverse camera, Hyundai’s 4.2-inch TFT colour Supervision instrument cluster display, LED DRLs, and a touchscreen of 8.0 inches in the base Kona. Below is a tyre pressure monitoring system, above are roof rails. Active has leather appointed pews, leather wrapped steering wheel and drive selector knob, rear park assist, and exterior mirrors that are heated. There are also 17 inch alloys.

Hyundai Kona 2021

Elite’s touchscreen is 10.25 inches, with audio pumping from a Harman Kardon eight speaker system. Remote start from a smart key will be standard here along with front fog lights. Safety is enhanced with Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, and a Safe Exit Warning system. Exterior addons see a gloss black grille, tailgate and side garnishes, and cladding in a carbon grey.

Hyundai Kona 2021

Highlander gives the driver a 10.25 inch display and a HUD, vented and heated front seats plus powered driver’s seat, heating elements in the outboard sections of the rear seats and steering wheel, LED headlights and taillights, with 18 inch alloys and Continental rubber. Safety has a front park assist system and high beam assist added in. Beige leather is exclusive to Highlander and LED ambient lighting will feature as it will in N Line Premium.

Kona N Line has bespoke seating and cabin highlights such as red stitching and piping, plus alloy pedals.

Hyundai Kona 2021

The sporty Kona N Line introduces an all-new 146kW, 265Nm turbo engine along with a dual-clutch automatic transmission, all-wheel drive, a multi-link rear suspension arrangement and 18-inch sports alloy wheels wrapped in Continental tyres.

Building on the specification of Kona Elite, Kona N Line introduces N Line exterior additions and badging.

Inside, there are N Line sports front seats, and a unique cabin treatment featuring red stitching, piping and trim inserts, as well as alloy pedals. 2021 Kona N Line Premium brings, in addition, a 10.25-inch digital supervision instrument cluster, heated and air ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seats and a heated steering wheel, and LED headlights, front indicators and taillights. Features found in the Highlander, a HUD, front park assist system, powered front seats, and a glass sunroof, will also be in the N Line Premium.

Hyundai Kona 2021

Outside will be a choice of seven colours: Atlas White, Dark Knight and Phantom Black, Surfy Blue and Dive in Jeju, and red shades called Ignite Flame and Pulse Red. A black roof option for Highlander and N Line Premium, with a sunroof deleted. The front end has been reshaped for the 2021 refresh, with a rounded upper leading edge, a new grille and bumper, and restyled lights.

Hyundai Kona 2021

Kona, Active, and Elite have projector headlights, with Highlander’s illuminators being multi-faceted reflector LED. The rear has a mild restyle. N Line has their own design features with a bespoke bumper, gloss black side mirror caps and, for N Line Premium, MFR LED headlights and rear lights.

2021 Kona N Line and N Line Premium are have exclusive black leather sports interior featuring red stitching and highlights.

Hyundai Kona 2021

Kona pricing is expected to start from $26,600 plus ORC. Active will start from $28,200, with Elite and Highlander from $31,600 and $38,000. $36,300 and $42,400 will be the starting prices for the N Line and N Line Premium plus ORC. Premium paint is $595, with the beige interior for Highlander a $295 option. Service intervals for the 2.0L will be 15,000km whilst the 1.6L is at every 10,000km.

Availability is currently from March 2021.

Hyundai Kona 2021

2021 Subaru Forester Sport: Private Fleet Car Review.

Subaru is the little car company that does. It quietly churns away in the background, almost like extras in a television show, hoping to be recognised by the wider audience for its efforts. And so it should be. Its WRX is the stuff of legends, the Outback is a more than capable bi-linguist, speaking tarmac and soft-roading equally, and then there’s Forester.The chunky, wagon-looking, mid-sized SUV, is a perennial favourite. In late 2020 a mild facelift was given, and a new trim, Sport, was added. Priced at a breath under $46,850 driveaway, the Forester Sport is aimed at those that like their weekends to be just that little bit dirtier but with comfort.

Power comes from Subaru’s legendary flat, or boxer, four. It’s at 2.5L in capacity, producing 136kW and 239Nm. To get those you have to see well over 4,000rpm. Drive to all four paws is courtesy of a Constant Variable Transmission, and it’s a bit old school in that it prefers the spin to around 3,500rpm and sits there as velocity increases to highway rates, rather than the now more familiar change change change. There are programmed steps and the steering column has paddle shifts to take advantage of those. Our drive cycle took in around 40% highway and we saw a creditable 7.1L/100km as our final overall figure.Outside and inside, Subaru have splashed some red-orange, on the lower sills, centre console, and air-vents. On our white example, complete with black painted 18 inch alloys, wrapped in 225/55 rubber from Bridgestone’s Dueler range, it makes for an eye-catching combination.Inside, Subaru’s fitted water repellent cloth, in varying and pleasing shades, to the seats and door trims. There are map pockets on the backs of the driver and front passenger seats. The seats are super-easy to clean and vacuum when required. The cargo section has a tough-wearing carpet top floor that lifts to expose some polystyrene that houses the jack equipment, a couple of small storage spots, and covers the full sized spare wheel. There are four cargo hooks, a 12V socket, and a tab either side to fold the rear seats easily. Capacity starts at 509L. It’s also inside where the age of the platform is showing. Compared to offerings from Korea, and the brand’s Japanese competition, there are far more hard edges, more right lower side buttons for various functions, an a lack of the now seemingly mandatory stand along touchscreen. Also, no wireless charge pad for smartphones.

Although DAB tuner equipped, the software still isn’t as good in one small area as the competition. The data service shows the full artist and song info in other cars, Subaru’s shows only the first ten characters or so. The layout though is clean and eyeball friendly.Underneath the screen is a CD player slot, and more hard press buttons for audio, map, and more. Climate control is a touch old school, with dials rather than buttons. However, when the aircons cooling was engaged, it cooled very quickly in comparison to some.

Subaru also has a driver attention monitor and this is cleverly hidden in the top section of the binnacle that houses the info screen. Look away from the straight-ahead for a second or two and warning tone sounds, and an icon flashes up on the screen ahead of the driver. There is Subaru’s X-Mode to enjoy, and it’s operated via a dial in the centre console. It’ll switch between Mud and Gravel at the flick of a wrist and back to Normal at a press.On its last major update, the rear lights changed to a C-design, and are LED lit. These match the same shaped Daytime Running Lights in the headlight clusters. Forester has always had a no nonsense stance, and the assertive looking grille, lower air intake, and black chin insert continue that. In size the wagon design hides the 1,730mm height, which provides plenty of head space and in the Sport, has a full length glass roof. The length of 4,625mm and a wheelbase of 2,670mm put it right in the ballpark for its competition. And when getting slightly mucky, 220mm of ground clearance is there.

On start-up the boxer has a metallic note before settling quickly into its sonorous flat four burble. the exhaust mutes the tone and no doubt after-market specialists can help that part of the equation. the CVT, as mentioned, is a bit old school in approach and delivery, yet doesn’t unduly hold back performance. It is called Sport, after all. There’s enough urge, as a result, on acceleration, and once in its stride, the 2.5L does a suitable job of moving the Forester around. It’s responsive to the throttle which gives it great suburban manners and on a country-style highway run, is quiet and relaxed.The suspension is beautifully setup, with damping well sorted for its own quick response, yet soft enough to waft the Sport across even mild gravelly roads without upsetting the fluidity of the chassis. On a gravel road, the X-Mode ensures a more sure footed approach and peace of mind. Subaru’s SI-Drive can also be engaged depending on the driver’s whim, and in the Sport, it’s a two-mode, not three, program, dropping the more incisive Sport Sharp.

Subaru’s safety record is virtually peerless, and their Eyesight system , with the stereoscopic cameras, have lead the way. Backed by a five year and unlimited kilometre warranty plus capped price servicing, Subaru’s Forester Sport has seven airbags including kneebag, torque vectoring, Blind Spot Monitor, Side View Monitor (with a camera fitted to the left hand side exterior mirror), Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist (and not as intrusive as some other brands), Lead Vehicle Start Alert, and Pre-Collision avoidance systems.At The End Of The Drive.

The Forester range is popular yet, oddly, almost invisible in one respect. It’s the not the sort of vehicle one hears about from mates and family as the vehicle of choice yet when out on the road they’re apparent and in good numbers. There’s a simple and good reason for that: they’re a bloody good car. It’s verging, though, on needing an update, but for the time being is still a willing and able performer.

Car courtesy of Subaru Australia, X-Mode definition courtesy of David Bonnici at WhichCar.

2021 Toyota Prius i-Tech: Private Fleet Car Review.

As Toyota did with the RAV4, by creating the SUV market, it also kickstarted the hybrid revolution with the Prius. Maligned for its looks then and now, it still remains on Toyota’s sales lists as a reminder of its part in history. Reduced to a two trim level, one model range, Prius and i-Tech. it had us wondering why Toyota continues with it considering: Yaris, Corolla, Camry, RAV4, and various Lexus options.The i-Tech is a whisker under $50K, with Toyota listing it as $49,966 drive-away with plain white paint. Go to the premium such as the metallic blue on the review car and that’s now $50,491. That’s a whopping $7,741 (white) more than the standard Prius and well over Corolla hybrid pricing, with Ascent Sport, the entry level, coming in at just under $31K, or the top of the range ZR, at around $38,500.Power is provided courtesy of a 1.8L Atkinson Cycle petrol engine with 72kW and 142Nm. Peak combined power is 90kW for the 1,400kg i-Tech. Fuel tank capacity is 43L, with economy rated at 3.4L/100km on a combined cycle, and one we matched. Drive is to the front wheels via a CVT, with drive itself selected by a simple to use flick lever in the centre of the dashboard.

Ignition is via push-button on and a set of screens that are centrally located on the upper dash welcome the passengers when the doors are opened. The screens include a daily usage and drive distance, and can be configured, with a little bit of research on how to, to display the costs per travel distance. The right had screen becomes the speedo, fuel gauge, trip meter and displays the economy figure also.

Audio is from JBL and there’s some great quality to be found here. Access is via a 7.0 inch touchscreen and it’s slightly different in look than that found in the rest of the Toyota family.Seats are leather, and heated. They’re comfortable is lacking some thigh support. Head, leg, and shoulder room are better than adequate for the driver and front passenger, with rear leg room a little squeezy. The actual colour scheme is dull, with a black on black scheme for the trim below the window line. The Prius i-tech gets a HUD or Head Up Display. It’s as intuitive as it comes to use and an item slowly becoming more common. Another item that is increasing in presence is a wireless charge pad.The body style is coupe’ like, and the rear hatch opens to a decent sized cargo area of 1,415L with the rear seats lowered. The load lip is low enough that access is easy enough for most people and the cargo area is broad enough for most families to deposit a week’s worth of groceries without issue. Safety is high with AEB, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Sport Alert, and Forward Collision Warning with Pedestrian and Daylight Cyclists warning. Seven airbags also contribute to occupant safety. Servicing costs are found online.Outside there are fleeting moments of family recognition, particularly at the front, where the sharpish angles evoke the Corolla’s edgy styling. With just the one body now, as gone are the wagon and sedan, the five door hatch both harkens to the original, whilst bringing its own sort of sharp lined modernity, with definitive creaselines from front to rear.

The i-Tech has its own set of alloys, with aero-blade styling. Rubber is from Bridgestone’s Turanza range at 215/45/17 and they’re ample in grip.Where the Prius shines is in its around town performance. It is effortless, it is stress-free, and can be driven harder than one would anticipate.

Being a hybrid it can gently waft around, with a seamless, almost, transition, between battery and petrol. It’s been noted elsewhere that the drivetrain here has a subtle but noticeable clunk as the changes between power source happen, and we can confirm there is a minor jolt as the petrol engine kicks in or out. There are Power, Normal, and Eco drive modes, and for the most part, Normal is all that is required. power may be suitable for some country and uphill driving, and Eco great for flat track highways.Ride quality surprised as its got a sporting tune. This had us testing cornering speeds and roll. The Prius i-Tech is quite capable of getting antsy and will do so without qualms at a level highly unlikely to be seen by its target audience.

This brings us full circle to our starting point: who is the audience Toyota is looking for with the Prius?

At The End Of The Drive.

Toyota’s other hybrid offerings looking like “normal” cars; the Camry hybrid looks like a Camry, the Corolla hybrid looks like a Corolla, the Yaris and RAV4 hybrids look no different to their purely petrol fed siblings.

The Prius, though, is recognised as a Prius, the original eco-warrior, and that’s the only reason we can think of that it’s still offered by the Japanese car making giant. It delivers excellent fuel economy but isn’t that the point?

How to Avoid a Dud Second-Hand Car

We’ve previously discussed some of the benefits with inspecting a second hand vehicle. Naturally, this is as good a way as any to make sure that the car you’re buying second hand is fit to keep you going. Beyond that, you might also want to take a close look at the service book, ensuring that the car has been regularly maintained and serviced by the appropriate professionals.

Before you get too confident that might be the end of the matter, there is one more thing you should look into – and it is arguably, the most important thing you should look into.

 

 

Personal Properties Securities Register (PPSR)

Fortunately, each state across the country maintains their own written off register, which is  nowadays aggregated in the federal government’s Personal Properties Securities Register (PPSR), which is an online search system and noticeboard detailing security interests in personal property

When it comes to write-offs, it’s important to distinguish that there are two types – statutory write-offs, and repairable write-offs. Both categories on the register are restricted to vehicles up to 15 years old. The registration of a written off vehicle is also cancelled once declared a write-off by the relevant authority who supplies the information. Such authorities typically include the likes of insurance companies, dealers, auctioneers, and other parties who trade such vehicles for parts or scrap value.

In the case of a statutory write-off, the vehicle has either been: damaged beyond economic repair; damaged extensively by hail, floods or fire; stripped of parts; or suffering a notable level of structural damage that would inhibit the vehicle being repaired to a safe and operable standard. These vehicles are meant to display a notice advising of their written off status. Meanwhile, it is prohibited to repair the vehicle or take it onto the roads – its use is now limited to scrapping, or for parts.

 

 

As far as repairable write-offs, these vehicles are deemed a write-off when their underlying salvage valuation plus costs associated with repairing any damage exceed the market valuation of the vehicle. This has a tendency to work against older vehicles, particularly those from luxury manufacturers, or models which are known to depreciate rapidly.

Unlike a statutory write-off, vehicles which have been declared a repairable write-off may be repaired and returned to the road. This will typically be recorded with the registration body in each state, and may show up on the registration certificate. As you can image, the process of returning a vehicle of this nature onto the road is somewhat strict. As well as the repairs themselves, owners are required to provide relevant documentation proving the identity of the car, while also taking the vehicle through a roadworthy test and government inspection.

 

Having the peace of mind and clarification that a vehicle is not a statutory write-off is a blessing for motorists. On the contrary however, the presence of repairable write-offs on the relevant registers means that affected vehicles will take a significant hit in terms of their valuation – despite the fact they have passed all necessary tests and are considered safe and operable. Keep this in mind if you’re considering purchasing a vehicle that was a repairable write-off.

Tesla Reinvents Their Wheel For 2021.

Tesla has revealed updates to their Model S. The big sedan has been given tweaks to the exterior, the drive, train, and the interior. Also, gone is the Performance model and replaced by the Model S Plaid and Model S Plaid+.

Front and centre, well…left on American spec cars, is a major change to the wheel. It’s no longer round or even vaguely ovoid. It’s a yoke, not unlike those found in fighter jets. A broad “U” shape, a pair of spokes join the verticals at hub height and allow a broader view of the digital screen. It’s sure to cause controversy and pub discussion, but that’s not the only change. The large centre console screen has been tipped 90 degrees to a landscape orientation and is set into the dash rather than standing proud. Tesla say it’s more a gamin screen than anything with ten teraflops of processing power.

There’s more carbon fibre or wood trim covering parts of the dashboard and door panels, and the door cards have been redesigned and appear to feature much-needed additional storage space. The stylish new centre console also has more storage space and comes complete with wireless charging for multiple devices. The rear seats look more sculpted and feature a new fold-down armrest with cupholders.

Rear-seat passengers get an 8-inch screen that offers the same infotainment and gaming functions as the main screen, and it even works with wireless gaming controllers. The Model S has three-zone climate control, a 22-speaker audio system, heated seats all around (and ventilated front seats), ambient lighting and a glass roof as standard. White, black and beige remain the only interior color options.

The exterior has been gently massaged. There the same coke bottle flanks, slightly reprofiled slimline front and rear lights, and coupe style profile. The front bumper has been reprofiled, losing the blunt end from top to bottom, and now adds a gentle curve to split the look horizontally, including a cooling airvent, as it wraps around to each wheel arch and extends a bottom lip ever so slightly. The rear valance has also been changed and looks more like a pair of exhausts tips hiding on each side.

Underneath are now three motors. The new Plaid and Plaid+ will offer a scintillating 1.99 seconds (Plaid) to see the 100kph mark, cross the 400 metres in just over nine seconds, and 200mph/320kph in the top speed matter. Current pricing, says Tesla, is US$121,190 Model S Plaid and US$141,190 Model S Plaid+. Expected range is now 520 miles or 837 kilometres.

The Model X will come with only one three motor variant, and should see the tonne in 2.5 seconds. Top speed for the SUV is around 163mph/262kph and a range of around 340 miles or 547 kilometres. Pricing starts from US$121,190, the same price as the Model S Plaid and US$40,000 more than the Long range bi-motor Model S.

2021 Toyota Yaris ZR Hybrid: Private Fleet Car Review.

Toyota is arguably the world’s leader when it comes to lobbing a hybridised drive-train into cars, and their small car, Yaris, has finally been given the treatment as seen in Camry, Corolla, and luxo-brand Lexus.The Yaris comes in three flavours, being Ascent Sport, SX, and ZR, and in non-hybrid form starts at around $25,500 drive-away. That’s for the Ascent Sport in manual and plain white paint…. Go partly electric and there’s a need to head to the SX. There’s a price difference of $2,100 between the standard and hybrid, with the battery version seeing $32,545 on the sticker. ZR starts from $33,655 for the petrol, and the hybrid $35,715 in white. Our review car came with a red-orange colour known as Coral which takes it to $36,230. It’s worth noting that Toyota hiked the Yaris prices substantially in 2020, with the Ascent Sport copping an increase of $9,500…The engine is a three cylinder petrol jobbie, but unusual in that its a big’un. It’s a 1.5L unit, larger than the more common 1.0L to 1.2L powerplants found elsewhere. On its own it would be a more than respectable engine for Toyota’s smallest automobile. Fuel tank size is 36L, down from 40L, and 91RON is just fine. Economy is quoted as 3.3L/100km (combined cycle) for the Hybrid compared to 4.9L/100km from the standard 1.5L. Our 70/30 cycle saw 5.2L/100km from the 1,130kg (dry) ZR Yaris. Cargo is 270L minimum.As such, partnered with a battery system, the whole shebang delivers a total of 85 kW and 141 Nm to the front wheels via a CVT auto. The standard engine brings 88kW and 145Nm. Drive in the ZR is selected via a simple and straightforward in-line lever, complete with a B for Braking at the end of the selection line. This allows a driver to harness more of the kinetic energy that braking lets loose and channels it to the battery.ZR is ignited via a push-button, and there’s that eerie silence that hybrids and electric cars have, before a gentle accelerator push has the Yaris ZR Hybrid waft away quietly before the petrol engine kicks in. Toyota has configured this to play its part from either around 25kph on a gentle getaway, or, like all hybrids, straight away if the sensors read a heavy right foot. The 1.5L is noticeable but not intrusively so, and those that have drive three cylinder engined cars will appreciate that familiar off-kilter thrum upfront.There’s good initial speed, and the Yaris ZR Hybrid delights in both urban and freeway driving. Its quick, too, in rolling acceleration, with a definitive and solid urge to hustle as an when required. It hangs on nicely, with a finely tuned suspension dialling out all but the worst of the more common irregularities found in roads. A benign handling set-up sees minor understeer at suburban velocities, with long sweeping turns easily controlled by steering input or gentle braking.It’s well specified inside, with a HUD or Head Up Display taking pride of place. Toyota’s familiar and wonderfully user friendly touchscreen with voice recognition, Mobile Assistant, Siri Eyes Free, Miracast and myToyota mans the upper centre of the dash, and a mix of grey shades add a touch of funkiness to the seats. However, it’s still a kind of budget car in a way, as the driver’s seat is fully manual in adjustment, and the cloth trim means no heating or venting. They are, however, bolstered for extra support.The driver’s dash display is a little unusual in look, with the centre recessed in and having only an info screen. The power/charge screen and speed are housed in two separate dials on the binnacle and well forward of the info screen. They’re digital in layout and look, and have a stylised font that’s eyecatching. They need to be as otherwise the dash is remarkably bland and dull. A single thin strand of red breaks up the solid black plastics, and that’s it. The airvent surrounds are a piano black, and contrast with the varying sages of grey on the seats and linings of the roof and doors.Outside it’s a different story, with that Coral colour highlighting the Yaris’ pear shape from roofline to wheelarches as seen from front or rear. The tail tucks in around the prominent lights, with a subtle pair of lines that joins them and the rear door handles. LED headlights show the way at night.

Simple black and machined alloys underpin the Yaris ZR Hybrid, with the 18 inch wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Ecopia rubber at 185/55.No skimping on safety across the range either. Lane Trace Assist, Road Sign Assist, Lane Departure Alert, eight airbags, and Intersection Turn Assistance are across the board. Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are ZR bespoke. Servicing and warranty details are online.

At The End Of The Drive.

It’s a good drive but the price is an eyebrow raiser. Equipment levels are high to make up for it though, including the Head Up Display and eight airbags. Yaris is also heading Toyota’s push to bring sportiness back to the brand with the Gazoo Racing, GR, powerhouse versions. But, for the money, Kia, Hyundai, Mazda, Ford, VW, offer bigger vehicles and at not a whole lot worse economy.

Check out the 2021 Yaris here.