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2020 F1 Undergoes More Rescheduling.

As the Covid-19 situation continues to dominate world news, it’s also affected the once-tight schedule for Formula 1 in 2020. The new suite of regulations that were expected to come into play for 2021 has now been sensibly postponed until 2022. This allows all teams to be on an equal footing as possible and it’s also hoped that it will minimize the economic impact on the lesser funded teams.

The FIA released a statement that read in part: “Due to the currently volatile financial situation this has created, it has been agreed that teams will use their 2020 chassis for 2021, with the potential freezing of further components to be discussed in due course. The introduction and implementation of the financial regulations will go ahead as planned in 2021, and discussions remain ongoing between the FIA, Formula 1 and all teams regarding further ways to make significant cost savings.”

The schedule for this year has also been updated with the Dutch GP, Spanish GP, and the marquee Monaco GP all being canceled. With a current mooted restart date for 2020 being put forward as the end of May 2020, this is by no means a certainty due to the Covid-19 spread. This news also means that the Dutch GP, due to return to the schedule for the first time since 1985, will have to wait, along with the Spanish GP in Barcelona, says the FIA, until sometime later in 2020.

However, it’s also been declared that the Monaco round has been canceled and will not be rescheduled. A key part of the reasoning is the amount of infrastructure required to run such events in the tiny principality, with the end result is the Automobile Club de Monaco saying: “To all the fans, spectators, partners and our members, the Board of Directors wishes to express its sincere regrets that these two events cannot be postponed and under no circumstances, will it be possible to organize these events later this year.”

With respect to the regulations, it means all teams will need to use this year’s chassis design in 20

21. Again, this ensures as level a playing field as possible. “As possible” being the keywords here, like McLaren, for example, who were due to change powerplants in 2021. The team was due to switch from Renault engines to those from Mercedes, and with different designs for the blocks means the chassis itself needed to be modified.

Sitting on top of all of this, however, is a cost cap for each team and that’s $175 million per team from next year. This also means, and the catchwords here are “in theory,” that teams should still be able to develop their now 2022 cars under that cap.

Korea Progression Part 2: Hyundai Drops Elantra In Australia, Becomes i30 Sedan.

Hyundai has revealed the seventh generation Elantra at a broadcast from a Hollywood studio site. In news more relevant to the Australian market, that long-running nameplate will be dropped, with the slightly bigger vehicle to be known as the i30 Sedan.

There’s been some substantial changes to the look as well. A redesigned front end has what appears to be Hyundai’s new signature look, with the turn signals more integrated with the headlamps and bonnets structures. Hyundai employ what they call “parametric-jewel body surfaces” for a more distinctive look and on-road presence. In profile a distinctive wedge shaped set of lines gives an impression of speed whilst stationary.The roofline extends rearward to give a more coupe styled impression and includes a thicker C-pillar. The rear deck is flatter and now has more visual cues to give a wider look. The roofline and the redesigned lights now also join together to provide a “H” signature look as viewed from the rear.

The seventh generation Elantra/i30 sedan is longer, lower, and wider than the previous model. Length goes up by 56mm, with a corresponding 20.3mm wheelbase increase. Width goes out by an inch or 25.4mm. Height is lower by 20.3mm and the cowl point at the windscreen moved by 51mm. Interior dimensions have increased though.

There’s some solid changes inside apart from the measurements. Hyundai have given the driver’s section an aeroplane like cockpit feel with a wrap-around design. There is also a pair of 10.25inch touchscreens. utility, driver assistance and navigation. The optional infotainment system displays a wide variety of useful information across its 10.25-inch split touchscreen, such as a bird’s-eye view in navigation maps, and drivers get connected routing depending on marketplace such as the U.S. or Europe. Connected routing provides multiple navigation options and real-time route updates. Server-based routing makes the onboard navigation experience similar to current smartphone navigation apps.Naturally Apple and Android apps will be available. The i30 sedan will also see what promises to be more common in cars. Dual Bluetooth streams allow phone calling and for audio interfacing simultaneously.

Voice activation will be available for the American market. This feature will be more for climate control and allows a user to say Climate on/off, Air conditioner on/off, Heat on/off, amongst others. Hyundai’s Digital Key, a smartphone app to allow keyless entry and exit plus starting the engine, should also be available.

It’s not yet known when the i30 will arrive in Australia apart from a current estimate of between July and December, 2020.

Covid-19 Strikes Formula 1, Melbourne’s Round Gets Cancelled.

A statement from motorsport’s governing body, the FIA, has confirmed that the Melbourne F1 event, and all of the support events, has been cancelled. This link has the relevant information as of 10.45am March 13.

Update: it seems that the FIA may have had its hand partially forced by Mercedes. The team has advised the FIA of their desire to not participate in the scheduled first round in support of McLaren’s decision to withdraw after a member of their team was found to be Covid-19 positive. There is also the common sense part of this, with Mercedes stating as part of their notification: “We share the disappointment of the sport’s fans that this race cannot go ahead as planned. However, the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our team members and of the wider F1 community are our absolute priority. In light of the force majeure events we are experiencing with regards to the Coronavirus pandemic, we no longer feel the safety of our employees can be guaranteed if we continue to take part in the event. We empathise strongly with the worsening situation in Europe, most especially in Italy, and furthermore we do not feel it would be right to participate in an event where fellow competitors such as McLaren are unable to do so through circumstances beyond their control.”

It does appear that another and as yet unconfirmed reason was a decision by two drivers to depart Australia prior to the official announcement.It can only be presumed that their teams had notified the FIA of their intent if this is in fact the situation.

Comments from drivers include veteran Valtteri Bottas and rookie Nicholas Latifi. Bottas said via Twitter: “All I want to do is race. But safety and health comes first. Hope to be racing soon again! Stay safe everyone 🙏🏼” whilst a disappointed Latifi said: “It goes without saying that I was extremely excited to finally make my debut in Formula 1 this weekend but it will have to wait. The safety and well being of everyone involved has to be the priority. Stay safe everyone and hopefully we can go racing sometime soon.”

Australian hopeful, Daniel Ricciardo, echoed those thoughts with: “I’m devastated I can’t compete at my home GP here in Melbourne & get the season started. Ultimately though the right decision has been made & I think everyone can understand this is something we’ve never seen before. Sorry to all fans who came out for the support. Much love.”

The issue for many is the timing. Up until around 9am on Friday morning, March 13, it appeared that the day’s schedule would run, but unbeknownst to many and including F1 commentator Martin Brundle, the decision to cancel had in fact already been made, it simply hadn’t been communicated effectively.

The fallout from the decision is expected to be huge.

2020 Toyota Supra GT: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A car that is heavy with legend and officially reborn, for the Australian market at least. Toyota’s Supra was last available only in Australia as a special import with limited numbers, however the fifth generation is a “properly approved” model and developed with markets such as Australia in mind. There are two trim levels, GT and GTS.

How Much Does It Cost?: Our driveaway price starts from $91,640 for our location. That’s in plain non-metallic red. Go for the pearl white as supplied and that jumps to $92,165. The Recommended Retail Price is $84,990, and as prices state by state vary thanks to dealer and government charges, check out the Toyota website for your location’s pricing.

Under The Bonnet Is: An engine that continues the legacy. It’s a 3.0L straight six with twin-scroll turbo, and it’s got some serious mumbo. 250kW and 500Nm with the latter available over a broad 1,600rpm to 4,500rpm range. There’s some contention, though, as Toyota haven’t elected to use an engine from their own catalogue. And in honesty, it’s a bit of a storm in a teacup as Toyota don’t manufacture a straight six, so BMW was called in. There’s more than a few hints of that brand’s DNA in the bodywork, interior, and the car’s heartbeat. The transmission is an eight speed auto, and when warmed up, allows a 0-100 time of 4.4 seconds. VMax is limited to 250kph.Incredibly it somehow produces those numbers using standard 91RON unleaded, and produces a combined fuel economy of 7.7L/100km. Our best was an incredible 6.3L/100km. This was on a run from our HQ to the home of Australian motorsport, Mt Panorama and back. What was noticeable was the starting expected range figure and the expected range on return. In real terms, we managed to travel 300km and see an expected range change of just 120km.

On The Outside Its: Shorter than it looks. It’s just 4,379mm in length, but an overall height of 1,292mm makes it look longer, especially in the pearlescent white the review car had. It’s wide too, with 1,854mm overall, whilst the wheelbase is 2,470mm.There’s some BMW hints, particularly around the rear. Think Z4 and the upturned bootlid spoiler, a svelte and curvaceous rear, a double humped roof, and long nose in proportion to the rest of the body. There’s a sine wave line that starts at the base of the deeply scalloped doors, heads rearwards to form the broad rear wheel arches, and goes horizontal to form the tail light clusters. The long nose has a gentle and increasing radius curve from the base of the windscreen to form a broad snout, including an almost F1 style nose cone. There are plastic faux-vent inserts in the front and rear guards, bonnet and door skins. They’re not airflow positive, as in they have no actual holes for flow. Both ends have black diffusers, with the nose emphasising the F1 styling by blacking out the centre section under the nose to highlight a pair of angles airfoils.Wheels are 18 inches in diameter and have ultra sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber. Profile is 255/40 and 275/40, front and rear. During our time on the road, the whole package proved to be an eyeball swiveller, attracting positive attention everywhere the Supra GT went, including a couple of thumbs up from pedestrians and truck drivers alike.On The Inside It’s: Snug, efficient, and somewhat 1990s, all at the same time. It’s a strict two seater, with absolutely no storage space other than a pair of console cup holders, door bottle holders, and a cramped cargo area with 296L. It is a sports car, after all. There’s some visual reminder of that thanks to a carbon-fibre look inlay in the console itself. Aircon controls are minimalised, as are the headlight controls, oddly placed as buttons above the driver’s right knee.A push button for Start/Stop is hidden somewhere above the driver’s left knee, there are a pair of paddles on the steering column for manual gear selection, and the console houses a dial for accessing information on the smallish touchscreen. The layout isn’t instantly user friendly and on start-up, will not move from an initial driver warning screen until a OK button is tapped.
Buried within the menus are options for car settings where a driver can select suspension, steering, and engine modes, along with audio and navigation. A Sport mode button changes the engine and transmission settings, plus opens the exhaust system for that extra rumble and snap/crackle/pop.

Behind the beautifully supportive, heated, seats is a strut brace that provides extra body rigidity. This takes up a little bit of room and also makes reaching rearwards into the cabin somewhat awkward. To access the cargo area there is a button in the driver’s door and a tab in the hatch itself. The low overall height also makes entering and exiting the Supra GT a little difficult for those not as flexible as others.Ahead of the driver is a dash screen that looks lifted from a 1990s design. It’s not a modern look and is at odds with the car’s ability. The defining feature is a rev counter dial in the centre, leading off to the right like a keyhole. There is quite a bit of wasted space in this area, with a small LCD screen showing limited information on the far right, and effectively only which gear and drive mode right in the centre.The audio system is loud and clear, operated via the touchscreen, yet there is a strip of station storage buttons on their own above the aircon buttons and below the centre air vents. This is spite of the steering wheel audio selection buttons.

On The Road It’s: A revelation. Firstly, there’s that sledgehammer engine. 500Nm across a rev range that most drivers wouldn’t exploit in normal usage makes for an incredibly tractable driveline. The engine fires into life at the press of the starter and settles quickly into a quiet thrum. The eight speed auto needs some time to warm up in order to achieve maximum smoothness. When cold it’s indecisive, hesitant, jerky. On song it’s razor sharp and millimetre perfect in its crisp changes.The steering is the same. Although weighted to the heavy side, the rack is ratioed to a two turn lock to lock, meaning a bare quarter turn has the front end responding rapidly. The broad rubber, unfortunately, brings in a phenomenon known as tramlining. Anything in a road’s surface in the direction of travel that resembles a rut, a gap, a tramline, also grabs the front end and steers it where the ruts head. The rear end isn’t left out, with a few noticeable hops and skips on broken surfaces.

We took the Supra GT on a run out to Bathurst and a couple of laps around Mt Panorama. On coarse chip tarmac there’s considerable road noise. The newer and smoother tarmac reduces that considerably but there’s still considerable audio jam. The ride quality in Sport mode is jiggly, bouncy, and there is just enough compliance in Sport mode to ensure teeth aren’t shaken loose.

Hit the Sport button in the console and this opens up the exhaust’s throats. There’s a subtle change to the change of gears, but the more noticeable change is the soundtrack. There’s now the rasp, the crackle of the overrun as gears change on deceleration. Standing start acceleration is stupendous, and the rev range for those torques also means rolling acceleration is as easy as thinking about it. Look, squeeze, warp speed.It’s this kind of engine delivery that is, unfortunately, very necessary for Australian roads given the generally average driving standards allowed to pass as safe driving. On the overtaking lanes and still well within the posted limit, the Supra GT proved that a car of around 1,800kg will take those 500Nm and put them to appropriate use, moving past the line of slower vehicles almost as if they didn’t exist. Naturally, this kind of forward moving ability needs stoppers to suit. With 348mm amd 320mm discs front and rear, and a pedal calibrated to move with a breath and tell you how many microns of steel are on the disc’s surface, safe stopping is guaranteed.

It’s this part of the drive experience that showcase the engineering ability and power/torque delivery perfectly. As tractable as the Supra GT is for around town running, the highway is a better place to exploit its mightiness, and then there’s the economy. With the powerhouse in cruise mode, it equals the more passenger oriented cars for fuel usage.On the public road that is Mt Panorama when it’s not a motorsport weekend, the Supra GT can be eased through the super tight and falling away from under you section just after passing through Skyline. The posted limit is 60kph, and the Supra is simply unfazed by that requirement. The torque is more than sufficient to haul the car upwards along Mountain Straight just as easily as it does on a flat road. It’s unflappable here and in day to day driving, making the Supra GT one of the best all round sports intended cars we’ve tested.What About Safety?: It is, as the Americans like to say, loaded for bear. Active Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert, Reverse Camera with Back Guide Monitor, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, plus Adaptive LED Headlamps and Adaptive High Beam. There are seven airbags. The Forward Collision Alert system was jittery, with a couple of warnings related to parked cars on corners, not moving traffic.

Warranty And Service?: Capped price servicing and a five year warranty. Information on those can be found here.

At The End Of the Drive. Toyota’s marketing research team are worth every cent they’re paid. Like almost all of the cars available from the Japanese giant, the Supra is a car for a market. I’m not in that market, but by no means immune to the Supra GT’s allure and beckoning 3.0L finger. It’s a performance powerhouse, a superbly tuned chassis, has a cabin that says sports car (bar the retro driver’s display), and positions itself as a more than worthy successor to the legend and history of Supra. Check it out for yourself here.

2020 F1 Season Preview.

The Formula 1 season gets underway this weekend at Melbourne’s Albert Park. This year marks the 25th running of the F1 in Melbourne, a city that has hosted the opening round for all but two of those 25 years. Melbourne, a city of culture, coffee, and cool took over from Adelaide with the city hosting its first F1 GP in 1996.

2020’s season start has been overshadowed by the spread of the coronavirus or Covid-19. News came through on March 9 that Bahrain, the location of the second round, has closed the doors to paying punters, electing to host their round on a closed track.

2020 also sees some subtle changes to the car designs which will lead to bigger changes from 2021. There also has been some reshuffling of drivers and a name change for one team. Here’s how the season start will look.

Mercedes-AMG: The Silver Arrows will continue to run with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas for this year. Hamilton will come to Melbourne as the 2019 champion and hunting for eight wins this season. That’s important because to do so will have him equal and break Michael Schumacher’s record. The German driver totalled 91 wins and seven world championships in his stellar career. Hamilton himself is out of contract at the end of 2020 and is said to be holding off on discussions for the early part of the season.Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel came under friendly fire in 2019, with that coming from his new team mate, Charles Leclerc. The younger driver had his sights set firmly on the back of Vettel’s helmet, and racked up two wins and a number of podiums. Vettel is out of contract at the end of this year and it’s this that has some rumours about who may replace him in 2021.Red Bull: Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon will partner for 2020, and it’s a season that will have Verstappen wanting to improve even more on what was a solid performance in 2019. He claimed three race victories, nine podium finishes, two pole positions and three fastest laps. Albon was promoted from Toro Rosso to the main seat midway through the 2019 season and ended the year with a highest finish of 4th at Japan in round 17.

Renault: Perth born Daniel Ricciardo is one of the most talked about players in F1. After a solid if unrewarded stint with Red Bull, the Australian surprised many in 2018 by announcing a step that was seen as a sideways and backwards one. The move to Renault has thus proven frustrating for the publicly amiable Aussie, and this year, his second of a two year contract, is the one that has the rumour fingers pointing towards the Prancing Horse for 2021. Rumours only, at this stage. Esteban Ocon is his co-driver and elevated back to the main game after being punted from Racing Point at the end of 2018.AlphaTauri: Formerly known as Toro Rosso, the second tier team has a new sponsor and a new look. Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat are the drivers for 2020. Officially known as Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda, the team’s new look is a spectacular black on white look. The name itself is still part of the Red Bull family, with a fashion brand based in Salzburg, Austria. Gasly was placed into the team after failing to fire in the main Red Bull team in 2019.Haas: The drivers for 2020 are again Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen. The pair have campaigned together since 2017 and have proven to be a capable force, challenging hard in the mid-pack of the twenty car field. 2018 was their best year whereas 2019 proved to be a showcase of what happens when a car simply doesn’t do what the drivers want. Owned by Gene Haas, the American team has shown, in 2020 pre-season testing, that they may regain their mid-pack pace.

McLaren: A long way from their heyday and, after a frankly lousy season in 2017, the team moved from Honda engines to Renault for 2018. The initial results were promising with forty points from the first five races of 2018. The rest of the season would see just ten points awarded. The drivers are Carlos Sainz and young Briton Lando Norris. The improvement in the 2019 season was slow but always upward, with a 3rd place at Brazil in 2019 for Sainz.

Williams: Formerly a glory team, recent years have seen very slim pickings for the once well respected name. Founded by Sir Frank Williams over forty years ago, it’s not unfair to say that 2019 was the lowest point in its history. In a 21 race season, just one single point was scored by drivers George Russell and veteran Robert Kubica. The Polish driver returned for one season however failed to make an impression. Russell partners with Nicholas Latifi this year, a Canadian born driver with F1 test and reserve driver experience.Alfa Romeo: Once known as Sauber, and a former host to Charles Leclerc, Alfa Romeo will have Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi again helming their cars. The pair performed solidly in 2019 yet were denied points for their efforts as the previous year’s good placings evaporated at the hands of a car that saw the team place 8th overall in 2019.

Racing Point: The former Force India team will also have a return of their 2019 drivers. Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll, son of team owner Lawrence, had a feisty 2019 and managed to finish 7th in the constructors’ championship. The previous year had the cloud of uncertainty hoerving over the team, and thanks to the change of ownership bringing a much needed financial boost, the team hopes to see 2020 end with better rewards than last year.

The first F1 GP for 2020 sees a race start on Sunday March 15 at 16:10 local time.

Rubber And Tarmac: Driving Roads to Enjoy.

Along with owning a house, going on a great drive has to be one of the great Aussie dreams. But, much like the pub discussion over which sci-fi franchise is best or is AFL better than NRL, the best Australian roads to drive can be a subjective list. Here’s five, both classic and perhaps a surprise or two, worthy of consideration.

1. The Great Ocean Road, Victoria.

Known for a combination of long sweeping corners, spectacular views, and holiday traffic, the Great Ocean Road, all 244 kilometres of it, is a walk up start. Commencing at Torquay, the home of the legendary Bells Beach surf classic, head west and passing the stunning Cape Otway lighthouse, taking in the remaining pillars of The Twelve Apostles, and terminating near the picturesque seaside town of Warrnambool, this is regarded as one of the world great drives.

2. Caves Road, Western Australia.

Western Australia is home to the world’s most isolated capital city, Perth, and a world renowned wine region in the south. Margaret River is truly one of the country’s loveliest areas and is a lazy three or so hour drive south of the city.

Caves Road runs north/south in the state’s far south west, between the historic seaside town of Busselton (with its kilometer long jetty) and the peaceful village ambience of Augusta. It provides easy access to the stunning coastline, the friendly towns, and of course, the fabulous wine region.

3. Brown Mountain, NSW.

Although short in distance, at between ten to fifteen kilometers in length, this is a road that will bring a knowing smile to those that have driven it. Located west of Australia’s cheese capital, Bega, Brown Mountain itself is the highest peak in the Monaro region at 1243 metres above sea level. There’s Cooma, the gateway to the northern snowfields, and the Snowy Mountain Highway that winds its way across the stark landscape, a drive in itself. There’s a sudden change from plains and cleared land to forest before the sharp descent to almost sea level down this tricky, tight, yet offering vast views east, road. This one hit the news recently after heavy rain washed two huge boulders onto the road, blocking access for a couple of days. Explosives had to be used to get the boulders out of the way.

4. Border Range Loop, Queensland.

Picking one from Queensland is, like all other states and territories, a hard one. But perhaps for sheer value, the Border Range Loop drive, that takes in 530 kilometres of beautiful roads and views southwest of Brisbane and the Gold Coast, is the choice.

Stretching over a recommended three day drive, there’s plenty to see on the road to the Queen Mary Falls near Killarney. There’s the ranges that are home to Mount Tamborine as well, a view not to be missed.

5. Uluru, The N.T.

Why this one? Simple. Who could pass up the opportunity to drive through Australia’s fabled outback towards The Red Heart of this magnificent area, and see the imposing monolithic red rock rising majestically out of the plains ahead. Stretch the view a little and there’s the incredible jumble of The Olgas, or Kata Tjuta, glowing various shades of red and orange, just forty kilometers further on from the wonder that is Uluru.

Tell us your favourite driving road and let us know on in our comments section.

Kia Confirms Stylish Sorento For 2020.

Kia has confirmed the rumours of what its forthcoming Sorento will look like prior to its first public appearance at the 2020 Geneva International Motor Show. Not unexpectedly, it features styling cues first flagged in the Seltos. There has been subtle changes to the styling, such as the change to the front and rear overhangs. These have been reduced with the result being the Sorento now looks longer in profile. The front end has strong relationships with the Seltos, including the restyled headlight cluster with Kia saying it has “Tiger Eye” LED running lights. These are said to mimic the lines around the eyes of a tiger. A longer bonnet and a push-back of the windscreen’s A-pillar by 30mm adds to that perception of length. The rear edges of the bonnet wrap around further into the uppermost edges of the front guards, and create the start of a character line that helps draw the eyes from front to rear. This takes the view to the completely new rear lights, in a stunning vertyical block design, rather than the previous broadsheet styling horizontally, and there’s a hint of Volvo’s SUV here. There’s also the Seltos relationship to be found here, with the rear passenger window having the fin reaching towards the roof as seen in the smaller car.Passengers are given more in the way of sophistication and comfort. Trim levels have improved with metallic tones, higher grade materials, and wood-effect cladding. A new 10.25 inch touchscreen becomes the centrepiece of the tech level inside the Sorento. That complements the brand new 1203 inch full colour and high definition driver’s information screen. Along with other tech, the forthcoming Sorento is easily the most technologically advanced Sorento offered yet.The cabin is spacious, and has an ambience highlighted by LED mood lighting. The front air vents have an uncanny resemblance to the tail lights of the revered Holden HR. Switchgear takes Kia’s ergonomics to an even higher level, with a balanced look and spacing.The 2020 Sorento will be officially unveiled on March 3.

ŠKODA Electrifies With An Irish Twist.

Škoda has released details of their first electric vehicle and it’s to be a SUV. It will be called “Enyaq”. The name is derived from the Irish name ‘enya’, meaning ‘source of life’. Enya itself comes from the Irish Gaelic word ‘Eithne’, meaning ‘essence’, ‘spirit’ or ‘principle’. The ‘source of life’ symbolises the car manufacturer’s entry into the new era of electromobility and is in line with the Škoda brand’s history claim: ‘Driven by inventiveness –clever ideas since 1895’.

It’s to be built on the Volkswagen Group’s Modular Electrification Toolkit (MEB) platform and will be the first car from the brand to be built on this platform.. With its first all-electric SUV, Škoda is establishing a new nomenclature that combines the ‘E’ in reference to electromobility with the ‘Q’ that characterises the final letter of Škoda’s successful SUV family. With the new Enyaq, the Czech car manufacturer is taking another leap into the new era of electromobility in 2020.

Enyaq follows Škoda’s well-known SUV nomenclature. Like the names of Škoda’s successful SUV models Kodiac, Karoq, and Kamiq,names that have their origins in the language of the Inuit people living in northern Canada and Greenland, Škoda combines the future all-electric vehicles based on the MEB with the Irish language. The ‘E’ at the beginning of the name stands for electromobility whilst the ‘Q’ at the end creates a clear connection to the virtues of an SUV. The Škoda Enyaq is the next of the series of more than ten electric models that will be launched under the ŠKODA sub-brand by the end of 2022.

By 2025, Škoda expects all-electric vehicles and models with plug-in hybrid drives to account for 25% of sales. By 2021, the car manufacturer will have invested two billion euros in the development of electric models and a holistic, interconnected ecosystem for modern and environmentally friendly mobility solutions

Ford Adds A New Cat To The Family.

Ford has resurrected a former nameplate and given it to yet another new small SUV. The European produced Puma is currently scheduled to hit Aussie showrooms in the second half of 2020. The main family line are the small and medium sized hatched in the form of Fiesta and Focus.

It’s as yet unconfirmed as to the engine; the European specs have a 1.0L three cylinder petrol engine at the car’s launch a few months ago, with 92kW or 114kW. It’s said that diesel will be an option there and it remains to be seen if that’s optioned here. Transmission choice is likely to be a dual clutch auto that’s close to being signed off, as the current option in Europe is a six speed manual.

Room wise there’s plenty of it inside, including a cargo space able to hold 456L, and this includes a wetbox in the lower section and capable of holding up to 80L. The lifestyle aspect is strong as there is also a drain plug in the floor, meaning any wet activities can be carried out without fear of ruining the cargo section.

Although the standard equipment list for the Australian specification hasn’t yet been locked away, it does appear that the Aussie cat will get Ford’s Co-Pilot 360. This will pack in AEB, lane centering tech, adaptive cruise, traffic sign recognition, active park assistance and blind spot monitoring.

Exterior design has a somewhat startled cat headlight look, and a set of rear flanks with a strong crease line before finishing with a distinctive set of tail lights.

Keep an eye on Ford’s website for updates.

Amarok V6 Diesel Gains A Third Pedal.

Proving that some manufacturers do listen to customer feedback, Volkswagen has given its V6 diesel Amarok a third pedal. The Amarok V6 Core TDI500 4×4 Performance has 165kW between 3,250rpm and 4,500rpm, and a very decent 500Nm of torque from 1,250rpm to 3,000rpm. This means it’s good for a towed (braked) capacity of 3.0 tonnes. Payload is 1,004 kilograms.

Ryan Davies, The Director of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Australia, Ryan Davies, said: “At every off-road, caravan and camping expo and Big Red Bash concert the team and I attend, we speak with current owners and members of the off-roading community who have begged us to bring an Amarok V6 manual to Australia. It was because of that passion that we were able to mount a case with our head office in Germany to build one and, based on Australia remaining the number one export market in the world for the V6 Amarok, we are finally able to offer this unique, Aussie-spec ‘Rok.”

It’s the addition of the six speed manual that makes the difference here. The six-speed manual gearbox is paired with a non-permanently engaged four-wheel drive system, whereas the eight speed auto has a permanent full-time 4WD setup. The part-time transfer box permits two gear stages which is the engagement of the front driven wheels and changing to the reduction speed, or low range, transmission. These are activated electronically via console mounted buttons, meaning no mechanical lever is required to get ready for muddy or off-road excursions. There is also an off-road mode, which is activated by the press of a button or automatically when 4×4 low range is engaged.  A mechanical rear-axle differential lock is fitted as standard.

Hill–descent assist limits downhill velocities by acting upon all four brakes as required, and will work at keeping the speed as constant as possible. This works best between two and thirty kilometres per hour. It will also assist in reversing situations downhill.

Inside there is heavy duty rubber coverings for the front and rear seats to help with cleaning after going off-road, The steering wheel  is leather wrapped, climate control is of the semi-automatic style, and VW’s App-Connect system is standard, The rear view camera adds an extra safety level with Park Distance Control. 17 inch wheels and LED running lights add some visual appeal, as do the extras for the Core Enduro version.

A black sports bar behind the cabin, a bonnet protector, and Enduro decals in black provide spice. Pricing is competive, with the Core 4×4 six speed manual listing at $49,590 whilst the Enduro lists at the same price. Check with your Volkswagen dealer to be sure.