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The 2021 World Car Of The Year Is…

Volkswagen’s ID.4. The electric SUV is the German brand’s fifth WCOTY after: 2013 World Car of the Year – Volkswagen Golf, 2012 World Car of the Year – Volkswagen UP!, 2010 World Car of the Year – Volkswagen Polo, 2009 World Car of the Year – Volkswagen Golf VI.

It’s still unclear as to whether it will make its way to Australia. What will be unavailable is a 77kWh battery, offering a range of up to 520 kilometres. Power is rated as 150kW and torque at 309Nm providing a 0-100kph time of 8.5 seconds. The rear is where the engine is located. Battery charge from a 120kW DC source can provide 320 kilometres of range in a half hour, and the 11kW charger built in can provide 53 kilometres in an hour.

It’s expected that a dual-motor version will be released with power bumped to around 225kW. Chassis wise, it’s a bespoke EV design, and on a length of 4,580mm, it sits neatly between VW’s Tiguan at 4,486mm and the Tiguan Allspace, a seven seater and 4,701mm in length. Crucially, it will offer cargo space of 543L (rear seats up) to 1,575L (seats folded), offset against the Tiguan’s 615L/1,775L and the Allspace’s 230L and 1,655L. Up front is a cargo area of sorts, with the cargo being the 12V battery for the ID.4’s ancilliaries and accessories, plus the various cooling system equipment parts.

ID.4 will be built across three continents and in five factories, highlighting the still “Dieselgate” beleaguered company’s move to a stronger EV presence in a market that is growing worldwide.

Ralf Brandstätter is the CEO of Volkswagen, and he firmly believes in positioning this EV as a mainstream model “with the potential for significant volumes.” Those volumes, he says, are in in Europe, China, and North America. The ID.4 will also “play host” to a range of related brand vehicles from Skoda, Audi, and Cupra.

Future versions of the ID.4 are said to include all-wheel drive and a choice of both batteries and engines. These include a 109kW, 125kW, 129kW or 150kW rear-mounted electric motor with a 52kWh battery the power source for the first two, and a 77kWh battery for the latter. This battery

will also be the source for two all-wheel drive versions, with either 195kW or a mooted GTX packing the 225kW engine.

History Made: Mercedes-Benz EQS

Mercedes-Benz has long been seen as the leader in trickle-down technology being seen in cars some years after featuring in the brand’s higher end saloons such as the S-Class. And with the release of their first all electric luxury vehicle, the EQS, this tradition is set to continue.

The EQS will offer ranges of up to 770 kilometres and will pack a powertrain of up to 385kW. A performance version is said to be in development and with up to 560kW. It will sit within the expectations of the S-Class saloon segment. The vehicles will be rear axle driven however the models fitted with the 4MATIC will have a front axle engine also.

Mercedes-EQ, EQS, V 297, 2021

Mercedes says the initial models will be the EQS 450+ with 245 kW and the EQS 580 4MATIC with 385 kW. The rated power consumption rates are quoted as 20.4-15.7 kWh/100 km, and 21.8-17.4 kWh/100 km. New technology for the batteries has them enabled with a higher energy density. Of the two batteries to be available, the larger will have a usable energy content of 107.8 kWh. Mercedes says this is around 26 percent more than the EQC, their EV SUV.

It’s tech that is bespoke for M-B, with the software having been fully developed by the company and allowing over the air updates. This keeps the management system up to date, and for the life cycle of the battery. In respect to the charging rates, the DC fast charge stations pump in 200kW( and 300km in around 15 minutes. On a home charger system the EQS charges up to 22kW with AC power. The software will also allow intelligent charging programs and battery-saving charging.

A key component of EV technology is is energy recuperation. The EQS uses a program called DAuto, which can recuperate energy from deceleration to zero without the need for the brake pedal to be utilised. Smart cruise tech employs the same mechanisms with vehicle traffic ahead of the EQS. Intelligent energy recovery is situation-optimised with the aid of ECO Assist and acts with foresight, taking into account traffic conditions or topography, among other things, and up to 290kW can be generated. The driver also can set three energy recovery levels and the coast function via paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

Mercedes-EQ, EQS, V 297, 2021

Also available as OTA or over the air will be the activation of vehicle functionalities. This includes two driving programs for younger aged drivers and for service staff. Light entertainment in the installation of games will also be available. Plus the updates will allow personal preference settings such as changing the steering angles for the rear wheel steering from the standard 4.5 degrees to the maximum 10 degrees. Planned is the activation of subscription services and testing on future programs.

Aerodynamics plays a big part in vehicle fuel efficiency and the new EQS has plenty of aero in the design. in fact, it’s currently rated as the most aerodynamic car available with a drag coefficient of 0.20cD. In conjunction with that slippery body is the reduction of wind noise at speed, improving comfort levels.

The need for aero is due to the EQS being on a new chassis architecture to provide a home for the powertrain. Mercedes-Benz calls the design language Sensual Purity, with smooth, organic, lines, a reduction in the join lines in panels, the fastback styling. The front end is a “Black Panel” look with the headlights running seamlessly into the grille panel which can be optioned with a 3D star pattern to complement the three-pointed Mercedes star.

Embedded throughout the EQS is a network of sensors, up to 350 of them, depending on specification. Amongst the types of information recorded are distance travelled, ambient lighting conditions, acceleration rates and speeds achieved. AI then utilises these datasets to adjust the car on the fly. This includes monitoring the battery charge levels in respect to the distance required to see the next charging point thanks to the onboard Navigation with Electric Intelligence.

Mercedes-EQ, EQS 580 4MATIC, Interieur, Nevagrau/ Iridescentblau, AMG-Line, Edition 1; MBUX Hyperscreen; ( Stromverbrauch kombiniert: 20,0-16,9 kWh/100 km; CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 0 g/km) // Mercedes-EQ, EQS 580 4MATIC, Interior, neva gray/ iridescent blue, AMG-Line, Edition 1; MBUX Hyperscreen ; (combined electrical consumption: 20.0-16.9 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 0 g/km)

Being a class-setting EV, the EQS packs in some high-end green technology for the passengers. An example is the HEPA filter than can be set to fully clean the air inside the cabin before passengers enter with the onboard data system, MBUX, able to display particulate levels inside and out. Recycled materials are used in areas such as the carpets. The manufacturing process is fully carbon-offset as well.

The MBUX Hyperscreen is the absolute highlight in the interior. This large, curved screen unit sweeps almost from A-pillar to A-pillar. Three screens sit under a cover glass and appear to merge into one. The 12.3-inch OLED display for the front passenger gives him or her their own display and control area. The entertainment functions are only available there while the car is being driven in accordance with the country-specific legal regulations. Mercedes-EQ relies on an intelligent, camera-based locking logic: if the camera detects that the driver is looking at the front passenger display, it is automatically dimmed.

As part of its Ambition 2039 initiative, Mercedes-Benz is working on offering a carbon-neutral new car fleet within 20 years from now. By as early as 2030, the company wants more than half the cars it sells to feature electric drive systems – this includes fully electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. In many areas, Mercedes is already thinking about tomorrow today: the new EQS is designed to be correspondingly sustainable. The vehicles are produced in a carbon-neutral manner, and resource-saving materials such as carpets made from recycled yarn are used. This is because Mercedes-Benz considers the entire value chain, from development and the supplier network to its own production. Mercedes-Benz AG has had its climate protection targets confirmed by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI).

Mercedes-EQ, EQS, V 297, 2021

Australian Car Sales Continue The Upwards Swing.

VFACTS and the FCAI have released the sales figures for March of 2021 and it’s good news. March 2021 saw 100,005 units moved, an increase of 18,315 over March of 2020. In a year to date sales sense it’s 263,648, up from 233,361 for the same time last year.

SUV sales were up 32 per cent and Light Commercial vehicles were up by 28 per cent. Eight of the top ten selling vehicles for the month were SUVs or Light Commercials, driven by increasing demand from the Private buyers.

Category wise, the passenger segment went down from 21,783 to 21,360. The SUV figures were 51,705 compared to 39,162 in March 2020. LCVs were 23,255, up from 18,165 in March 2020.

In the Passenger car segment Hybrids saw a slight increase, with 2,658, up from 2,441 in March 2020. Hybrid SUVs also saw an increase, with 2,190 in March 2020 up to 3,890 this year. PHEV SUVs doubled from 119 to 258.

For the Light Cars (under $25K), MG’s MG3 took the crown, with 1,238, an increase of over 30%. Third place was a real battle with Suzuki Swift (471), Kia Rio (452), and Suzuki Baleno (432) making a good sales fight, whilst in between was the Toyota Yaris on 636.

Small Cars (under $40K) and Toyota’s Corolla was under pressure from Hyundai’s i30. The Corolla moved 2,892 against 2,514. Third was tight with the Mazda3 just pipping the Kia Cerato, with 1,577 to 1,453. In the plus $40K range it was a battle between the German duo of BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The A-Class stole first on 358, just nudging the 1 Series on 340. The 2 Series Gran Coupe took third on 222.

For the Medium segment it was the Toyota Camry out in front in both the under and over $60K bracket. 852 units moved, ahead of the BMW 3 Series on 567, and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class on 364. Camry, though, was down substantially from 2020, with 1,332 last year.

Kia’s Stinger continued to win the Large Sedan, with 173, down by just two from last year. Porsche’s new Taycan, a fully Electric Vehicle, entered with 161, six ahead of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

Kia also outclassed the competition in the People Mover segment, with the Carnival reaching 616, up from 475 in March 2020. Honda’s Odyssey consolidates second with 162, up from 130.

Volkswagen snared third with its new Multivan for 121. In the over $60K segment it was Mercedes, Mercedes, and Toyota, with the V-Class (42), Valente (24) and Granvia (22), duking it out.

There’s been a change in the Sports car segment though. Ford’s Mustang still sold the most with 130 in the under $80K segment, however was outsold by the Mercedes-Benz in the over $80K by the C-Class Coupe and Convertible on 139. The 4 Series from BMW snared 110 for third in both segments.

Moving into the SUV segment and in the Light SUV category Mazda’s CX3 pummeled the opposition in the sub-$40K bracket with 1,744. Toyota’s Yaris Cross slid quickly into second on 846. For third it was another tight battle with Volkswagen’s T-Cross (655) edging out the Hyundai venue and Kia’s new Stonic on 636 and 624.

For the under $40K Small SUVs the Chinese made MG ZS stole the show on 1,510. Hyundai’s recently revamped Kona saw 1,462, just ahead of the Mazda CX-30 on 1,225. Nissan’s Qashqai was the only other entrant into the 1,000 club, squeaking in on 1,003.

Above $40K and Audi’s Q3 found 852 homes, ahead of the Volvo CX40 with 416. 279 and 249 went to Germany, with the X1 from BMW and GLA-Class from Mercedes. Mazda’s CX-5 gave the RAV4 a shake in the Medium sub-$60K, with Toyota selling 3,522 over the Mazda’s 3,022. Nissan’s X-Trail performed solidly for 1,932, just ahead of Subaru’s Forester with 1,439. Mitsubishi’s Outlander 1,085, just ahead of Honda’s CR-V on 972.

In the plus $60K bracket, only Mercedes cracked the 600 mark on 607 for the GLB. The GLC-Class wagon was a distant second with 374, with Audi Q5 on 336. The Lexus NX and BMW X5 went nose to nose on 295 and 291.

In the Large SUVs and under $70K it was Subaru’s outgoing and incoming Outback with 1,341, ahead of the 1,211 for Toyota’s Prado. 1,179 is the number for the Isuzu M-UX. Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport sold 886, whilst their ancient Pajero, due to be cancelled at the end of the year, sold 292.

Over $70K and it was the X5 on 309. Behind it was some close infighting with the Lexus RX (185), Range Rover Sport (181), and GLE-Class wagon (176) providing stiff competition for each other. Above that it’s a two horse race in the Upper large under $100K, with the LandCruiser and Patrol on 2,244 and 305, selling nearly eight times as many than the full field in the over $100K bracket.

In the ute segment, the 4×4 pickup and cab-chassis bracket had HiLux on 4,068 ahead of Ford Ranger with 3,710, continuing the Japanese brand’s number one position. Mitsubishi’s 4×4 Triton moved 2,223 for third. Isuzu’s D-Max was fourth on 1,338, ahead of the Mazda BT-50 and sibling under the skin, on 1,177.

Notable in those figures is the rise of the sharply priced Chinese built MG range, and the continued growth of non-PHEV Hybrids. Overall for March 2021, Toyota sold 21,319, with Mazda on 10,785. They were the only two brands to see double-digits for the month. Hyundai continues to outpace its Korean sibling, with 6,852 over 5,802. Mitsubishi moved 6,430 whilst Nissan sold 4,559, under the 5,977 of Ford. MG? 3,303 and ahead of Honda.

Haval H6 Update Is Value Added

Haval continues to push for a bigger slice of the SUV pie, and with the H6 due for an April on-sale date, buyers will be able to to sample an extensive standard equipment list inside a facelifted vehicle.

2021 Haval H6

Pricing starts from a competitive $30,990 drive-away for the H6 Premium model. Power is courtesy of a 2.0L turbo petrol engine and drive is via a seven speed dual-clutch auto. This is the entry level model of a range of three, with Lux and Ultra adding in more value.

Premium packs in: 18 inch alloy wheels and Tyre Pressure Monitoring, with LED headlights and DRLs showing the way. Inside is a pair of 10.25 inch screens with the centre screen featuring Android and Apple apps. Safety sees AEB with cyclist and pedestrian detection, seven airbags including centre console airbag, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist backed up by Traffic Sign Recognition. Lane Change Assist and Blind Spot Monitoring, plus Driver Fatigue Monitoring round out the stand equipment list for the Premium.

Lux specifications see even more, with roof rails on top, LED fog lamps up front, and extra comfort inside. There’s leather on the steering wheel, and the seats are clad in eco-leather. The driver has a six way powered seat including lumbar adjustment. Dual zone climate control provides the airflow, and sounds are via a DTS compatible eight speaker audio system. Rear vision is improved through an anti-glare mirror and a 360 degree camera system. Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop/Go functionality pairs with Intelligent Cruise Control and Traffic Jam Assist.

2021 Haval H6

Haval H6 Ultra is available in both 2WD and AWD. Extra features see 19 inch alloys, a panoramic sunroof, and a powered tailgate. The centre touchscreen goes up to 12.3 inches in size, a heated steering wheel provides comfort on cold days as do heated and vented front seats, and extra info for the driver is via a full colour Head Up Display. A wireless charge pad and four way powered passenger seat add convenience. Rear Cross Traffic Alert with automatic braking, and an automatic parking system feature as standard in the Ultra. Drive is engaged via a rotary dial, not unlike that seen in the Haval’s Korean competition.

Sizewise it sits between the medium and large medium classes. The overall length is 4,653mm, and has a wheelbase of 2,758mm. It’s broad at 1,886mm and weights, thanks to a reduction scheme, just 1,550kg (dry). The overall size has it above RAV4, Hyundai Tucson, and Mazda CX-5.

Styling changes see a sleeker presence up front, with slimline headlights, a bluff looking frontal treatment, and integrated intakes at the front bumper extremes. The window line appears to have a slightly reduced glasshouse, and a strong presence line joins the fenders to the reprofiled tail lights. The overall style evokes hints of Range Rover and Land Rover Discovery.

Set up a test drive via your Haval dealer here.

2021 Haval H6

Hydrogen Fuel Is The Nexo Step.

Hyundai Australia has unveiled their Nexo vehicle. Powered solely by hydrogen, it’s set to be a game-changer if the right infrastructure is put in place. For now, a fleet of twenty will roam the streets of Canberra during a trial phase.Nexo is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, rated at 95kW, coupled to an electric motor. It generates 120kW and 395Nm, and has a theoretical range of over 660 kilometres. Here’s how it works, says Hyundai.

Hydrogen gas is stored in high-pressure tanks and is sent from these to the fuel cells. It mixes with oxygen taken straight from the atmosphere and reacts across a “catalyst membrane” and creates electricity for the engine and battery, and water as the sole by-product. Excess power is stored in the battery system. Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles, or FCEVs, can be refilled in virtually the same time as a petrol fuel tank.

“The arrival of NEXO on Australian roads as an ADR-approved production vehicle is a landmark in Hyundai’s ongoing commitment to green mobility and to hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle technology.” Hyundai Motor Company CEO, Jun Heo said. The hydrogen NEXO SUV is a cornerstone in the Hyundai portfolio, complementing our hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles the IONIQ and Kona Electric. NEXO is also a sign of things to come, as Hyundai continues in its long-term drive towards leadership in eco-friendly vehicles.”

It’s a one specification vehicle for the moment, and comes well equipped in that sense. A main 12.3 inch satnav equipped touchscreen is the centre of the appeal, complete with Android and Apple smartphone compatibility. The driver has a 7.0 inch info screen, and a Qi wireless smartphone charger is standard.

Seats are leather appointed, and passengers see the sky via a full length glass roof. Sounds are courtesy of Krell. Nexo rolls on 19 inch alloys, and sees its way thanks to LED headlights and daytime running lights. A Surround View Monitor, Remote Engine Start, Remote Smart parking Assist, and a powered tailgate add extra convenience. Comfort comes courtesy of a dual-zone climate control system, powered front seats, heating for the steering wheel and outboard sections of the rear seats.

SmartSense is the name Hyundai give their safety system package and the Nexo will have Forward Collision Avoidance, Driver Attention warning, and the Blind Spot Collision Avoidance is radar based. Lane Keep Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Avoidance Assist and Smart Cruise with Stop/Go functionality are also standard.

Exterior colour choices are limited. White Cream Mica, and a Dusk Blue Metallic will come with Stone Grey two-tone interior, whilst Cocoon Silver and Copper Metallic are paired with a Dark Blue interior.

The main hydrogen system is built around three storage tanks with a capacity of 156 litres. Up to 6.33 kilograms of hydrogen can be held at a pressure of 700 bar. The testing of the tanks has included structural integrity for collision impacts. The battery is a lithium-ion polymer unit, rated as 240V and 1.56kWh. It also assists in running the onboard 12V systems.

The battery itself effectively comprises most of the floor, making for better cabin packaging and a low centre of gravity. The system is also rated for cold start operation at temperatures down to -29 Celcius. It will start within 30 seconds.

In keeping with its green credentials, structural components include aluminium for the bumper beam, front knuckles, rear wheel carriers and front lower control arms. Lower kerb weight assists in the vehicle’s handling, ride, and reduces cabin noise input. The front fenders are lightweight and flexible plastic.

Hyundai Nexo refill

Bio-based materials also up the green, with up to 12.0 kilograms of CO2 being reduced as a by-product of the manufacturing process. Total weight of bio-product is 34 kilos and this is found in the carpet, headliner, trim material, door trims, and the seats and console. Bio-paints derived from corn and sugarcane waste material are also used.

Strength and safety comes from high tensile steel, making the monocoque body both rigid and torsionally strong, with over 56% of the Nexo’s bodywork made from the high strength steel/ This extends to the tank sub-frame and tested in rear collision simulations.

Hidden details such as air guides underneath and air deflectors aid aero efficiency. Hidden wipers, a Hyundai first, are fitted at front and rear, and with slimline retracting door handles the Nexo has a drag coefficient of just 0.32cD.Chassis development was carried out in Australia, Tim Rodgers, the Hyundai Motor Company Australia Product Planning and Development Specialist, said. “The platform was designed to address this challenge, with an extensive use of lightweight parts for the strut front and multi-link rear suspensions, such as aluminium knuckles and lower control arms. By reducing unsprung mass there is less energy that we have to manage through the damper and the spring, so we can use a slightly different valve characteristic and achieve the results we require.

We’ve come out of the R&D process with a refined suspension that matches quite nicely with acoustic levels in the cabin. Beyond achieving this, the tuning program targeted the normal ride and handling benchmarks, to give NEXO the same style of body control we tune into all our cars, and the same level of competency Australia’s notoriously challenging back roads.”

Not yet available for private sale, it can be leased. Hyundai have a specialist Aftersales team in place to deal with inquiries, and they can be reached through a Hyundai dealership in the first instance.

2021 Mitsubishi Outlander GSR PHEV: Private Fleet Car Review

Hybrid technology has fast become part of the automotive landscape. First seen in Toyota’s Prius, it hasn’t taken long to trickle down into mainstream passenger cars and SUVs. However, a new form of hybrid tech, the plug-in hybrid version, has taken more time. A front-runner for SUV PHEVs has been Mitsubishi with their Outlander.The Range: In 2021 they offer three; the ES, GSR, and Exceed. We spent a week with the sporting tuned (by Bilstein, no less) GSR Hybrid. It’s priced at $56,490 drive-away, and has a pair of electric motors for front and rear wheel drive simultaneously via a single ratio transmission. Main power is from the standard 2.4L petrol engine with 94kW and 199Nm. That’s on 91RON unleaded.The electric motors offer 60kW (front) and 70kW (rear), and are charged via one of two ports on the rear right quarter. The petrol tank is good for 45L and the economy is rated as 1.9L/100km on 91RON unleaded. Although Mitsubishi’s system constantly updates as you drive, in the Hybrid there are sub-menus to check charge rates, battery usage, and fuel over given times.

Our final figure would be somewhere around the 5.5L/100km mark if we read the graph correctly. That’s on our usual 70/30 urban to highway runs.The battery is rated at 12kWh and has an on-board charger rate of 3.7kW. using a standard home system it’s somewhere between 6.5 to 7 hours to “fill”. The plugs are Type 1 and CHAdeMO. Drive is engaged via a simple lever with an electronic Park function. There is also an adjustable Brake mode to recover more kinetic energy if possible. This works best on longer downhill runs.

At full charge, the PHEV offers up 55 to 55 kilometres as an estimated electric only range. For Australia, a range of 100 kilometres would be better. As an example, from the lower reaches of the Blue Mountains to Sydney is something between 70 to 80 kilometres…A charge gauge in the driver’s display shows how much is being harvested, as does a dial in the main touchscreen sub-menu. When running low, a button on the left side of the console next to the drive lever offers save or charge. This engages the petrol engine and makes it a generator for the batteries.Drive to each corner is via a single speed transmission, with drive modes such as Sport, Snow, Mud, plus battery save and charge modes. Stability on road comes from Mitsubishi’s much vaunted S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control) and Active Yaw Control. Sport lifts the overall performance and adds some serious extra squirt to the already rapid acceleration.

The GSR nameplate, once synonymous with the Lancer, adorns the powered tailgate. The current body shape is due for a hefty facelift (pictures at end) and release later in 2021 with a heavily reworked nose, and squared off rear with bumper lines lifted from the Pajero Sport.

As it stands there are the integrated eyebrow running lights in the headlights, wrapped in the chrome strips that boomerang forward then back towards the wheelarches. The current profile is largely uncharged for some years, with a sloped rear window line and broad spanning rear lights.The Drive: Bilstein provide the shock absorbers for the MacPherson strut and coil front, multi-link and stabiliser bar rear. 225/55/18 wheels and tyres from Toyo unpin the body. They offer decent grip, but even with the dual axle drive there was some minor slippage on damp roads.

We say damp as we drove it during the “rain bomb” that hit most of Australia’s southern eastern coast. When driven during the not-so-heavy patches, and on roads that had drained most of the surface water away, driving confidence was high. It was on corners and downhill runs when more circumspect driving was required.

What was noticeable was the fantastic tune of the suspension and the damping of the Bilsteins.Although the ride could be described as hard, given the GSR nomenclature, it was on the side of comfort with swift response smoothing out freeway dips and rises without feeling as if it jolted at each end of the travel. Smaller bumps jarred but again only for a moment as the Bilsteins disappeared those impacts rapidly.

Freeway driving had the rapid response telling the driver each square inch of road surface quality without any loss of comfort.

However, one one somewhat soggy and rutted gravel-style track, we heard uncharacteristic groans from the front strut tower caps. The suspension felt as if the stiffness of the setup was overwhelming the caps. As a result, speed had to be dropped to essentially a crawl in order to feel that travel was safe and not damaging the towers.

The Interior: Inside it’s water-resistant micro-suede cloth seat and leather bolsters. They’re as supportive as they come, and electrically powered for the driver. They’re heated up front too, unusual but welcomed for cloth pews and they’re quick to generate heat. There is only heating, though, and the switches are rocker for low or high.

The 8.0 inch touchscreen houses plenty of information and for the PHEV there are sub-menus aplenty to access information on how the hybrid system is working. There is also a punchy eight speaker audio system with DAB plus Bluetooth streaming and the smartphone apps. The interior however does show its age with no smartphone charge pad, an item sure to be included with the update…we hope.

Dashboard design for the Outlander is classic Mitsubishi; open and broad, well spaced for buttons, soft touch materials, and an organic flowing design. The steering feel feels on the large side compared to other marques however turn to turn lock is made easier in context. Head, leg and shoulder room for the five seater is huge with 1,030mm and 1,039mm head and leg up front.It’s a five seater due to the battery’s location and wiring for the charge port. Second row passengers have a pair of USB charge ports, and there is one plus a 12V up front. Cup and bottle holders number four apiece in total.

The powered tailgate is light and seems to prefer being opened by hand however the gentle push of the drop button does the trick in closing it. Folod the second row seats and 1,602L of capacity is available to you. There is also a 12V socket in the rear along with cup holders for seven seat non-hybrid Outlanders. Two underfloor nooks offer some small extra space and hold the charge cable and jack equipment.The Safety: Adaptive Cruise Control with sensor distance changing holds hands with the Forward Collision Mitigation system. This has pedestrian detection but not cyclist. This means the organic safety component needs to be scouting forward. Lane Departure and Blind Spot Warning systems are in place.

Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are also standard. Auto functions for high beam and wipers are standard, as is a rear view camera. Sensors front and rear are standard. Seven airbags include a driver’s kneebag.

The Rest: Warranty for the battery is eight years or 160,000km. Warranty details can be found here. Capped price servicing varies between the PHEV and non-hybrids. More on the 15,000k or 12 monthly service can be found here.

At The End Of The Drive. We have driven a few Outlander PHEVs over the last three to four years.

Our first run was in late 2017, and it was given a solid workout. Driven from the eastern fringes of the Blue Mountains to the central western town of Temora, a historic R.A.A.F base and now a museum, the Outlander PHEV showcased how these sorts of hybrid vehicles work nicely. It’s noticeable that in real terms only minor changes have been made since outside and in.

With a new Outlander on the way, buyers of the current model won’t be disappointed. As a range, it offers good pricing, good performance, and good value. Comfort in the GSR is high and the only niggles were the out of the ordinary complaints from the front end.

As a driver’s car, it meets that goal, and as a package for showcasing hybrid tech, it does an admirable job. Check out the 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV range here.

Vehicle courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors Australia.

The 308 To Peugeot: Update Time For 2022.

Peugeot continues its rollout of updates to their range. With the facelifted 2008 available, and 5008 not far away, it’s time for their mainstay hatchback, the 308, to get the magic wand. There’s one key feature to the change, says Peugeot, and that’s to the body styling.

2022 Peugeot 308

The wheelbase has been in creased by 55mm, overall length up by 110mm, and height dropped by 20mm, making for a sportier profile. The A-pillar has moved rearwards and is raked more in comparison compared to the previous model. The nose is the new corporate look, complete with the mildly refreshed lion badge. Peugeot will offer seven colours: Olivine Green, Vertigo Blue, Elixir Red, Pearl White, Ice White, Artense Grey, and Perla Nera Black.

The wheelarches sit inside fenders with defined squarish lines, and the rear window line flows stylishly down from the roof into the triple-claw LED powered rear lights. Up front are the vertically themed LED driving lights paired to new LED main lights and strakes on the outer edges of the bumper. Exterior changes have the aero drag down to 0.28cD.

2022 Peugeot 308

Changes too for the interior, with a futuristic and hard edged style change, along with a more tactile-inclined steering wheel. Changes to the safety package see sensors in the wheel measure hand and finger pressure. This works with the step-up in the semi-autonomous driving level, with Peugeot’s Drive Assist 2.0 (where fitted) which has three new features for the Lane Keep Assist. There are: Semi-automatic lane change, suggests that the driver overtake the vehicle in front and then suggests moving back, from 70 km/h to 180 km/h; Anticipated speed recommendation, the system suggests to the driver that he adapt his speed (acceleration or deceleration) according to the speed limit signs; and Curve speed adaptation, optimises speed according to the curve of the bend, up to 180 km/h.

2022 Peugeot 308

Blind spot monitoring reaches up to 75 metres behind the 2021 308, with a higher definition rear camera providing up to 180 degrees of rear vision. This integrates into the four camera, 360 degree camera parking assist system. For colder climes there are a heated steering wheel and defrostable windshield. Peugeot include their E-call+” emergency call with passenger number information and location including the direction of the vehicle in the lane.

The boot has up to 28L of underfloor space complementing the standard 412 litres. Fold the rears eats and that increases to 1323 litres. Convenience goes up with teh addition of (model dependent) two USB-C data transfer and charge ports. Phone mirroring is wireless and the new 10.25 inch touchscreen, sitting above a silver coloured and angular centre console, part of the driver oriented cockpit, is more tablet oriented in look and usage. It’s a multi-window capable device, and has features such as a home screen tab and widget functionality.

Sounds come from France’s famed Focal audio group and in selected models listeners will have the Premium Hi-Fi system. There are 10 speakers with 4 aluminium inverted dome TNF tweeters, 4 woofers/mediums with Polyglass membrane and 165mm TMD (Tuned Mass Damper) suspension, plus a central Polyglass unit along with a triple coil subwoofer. Power is rated at 590W from a Class-D 12 channel amplifier, with ARKAMYS sound processing.

2022 Peugeot 308

To be confirmed for Australia will be a choice of petrol, diesel, and hybrid powered drivetrains. Three petrol engines with differing outputs matched to manual and autos, a pair of diesels with a manual or auto, and two hybrids.

Peugeot lists these as: HYBRID 225 e-EAT8, with 2-wheel drive, with a 132kW PureTech petrol engine and an 81kW electric engine attached to the e-EAT8 gearbox. Emissions are rated as 26 g of C02 per km and up to 59 km of 100% electric range (according to the WLTP protocol, in the process of being approved). The other is HYBRID 180 e-EAT8, 2-wheel drive, combination of a 110kW PureTech engine and an 81kW electric engine attached to the e-EAT8 gearbox. Emissions and range are virtually identical at 25g/100km and up to 60 km of 100% electric range (according to WLTP protocol, in the process of being approved).

Capacity for the lithium ion battery is 12.4kWh, with up to 102kW of power. Charging is said to be either a standard 3.7kW single phase charger or an optional 7.4kW single phase charger.

Final model specifications for the Australian market are yet to be confirmed, as is the release date. However, it’s currently expected to be in early 2022.

2022 Peugeot 308

2021 Mitsubishi Pajero GLS: Private Fleet Car Review.

Long before there were SUVs or “jacked up” station wagons on 4 wheel drive chassis’, there was Land Cruiser, Land Rover, and Patrol. Then Mitsubishi Japan said “we like this party” and thus Pajero was born.Long gone are the hey-days of this once unstoppable giant. It now sits on the automotive porch, quietly sipping a mug of oil, watching the pretty young things swan by with their fancy electric drivetrains, or their barely bigger than their originator SUV bodies.

Pajero’s time in the sun is fast approaching the end, but one of the grand-daddies of four wheel drives still has a thing or two to tell and teach the youngsters.

With a starting price of just $51,490 drive-away in GL form, with the Exceed an extra $10,500, the GLS slots into the middle with its $58,490. Drive comes from a engine not unlike Lenny from “Of Mice and Men”, with its big 3.2L size lending itself to gentle, low revving, characteristics and delivering 441 torques at a barely stressed 2,000rpm. Towing is rated at 3,000 kilograms.Economy is perhaps the weak point thanks to its dinosaur-like five speed auto. We saw a best of 7.8L/100km, with a final average of 9.8L/100km. The official combined figure is 9.9L/100km for the 2,330 kilo (dry) Pajero…

It’s an engine that is old-school diesel in one context. It’s rattly, but not in a bone shaking sense. It’s a noisy diesel, but put that down to it stemming from a time when the creatures that now feed the engine walked the earth. Refinement and noise isolation weren’t part of the original design brief, low down, stump pulling torque was.

The five speed auto is also from a time long lost in the mist. Although relatively smooth in changes, there can be jerky movements and an occasional drive backlash depending on the throttle application. By missing out on two or three or even four ratios it comparison to more modern machinery marks it as out of date.

Outside and inside, the era that the Pajero in its current form stems from is also evident. A big, blocky, squared off profile, (4,900mm x 1,875mm x 1,900mm) with a large glass area, short overhangs (it is a proper off-road capable vehicle, remember) along with an interior look and feel that largely says, loudly, 1990s.A display interface that is in pixel form, for example, which shows barometer, height, fuel usage and more. Handy info, but built on a hand held gaming platform from the 1980s.

For the driver, nowhere to be seen is the now expected centre of dash display with a full colour LCD screen or a smallish tiller loaded with tabs to access it.Here is a simple box representing the Pajero with two or four engaged corners and its rear differential lock.

The dial displays are standard analogue with a gunmetal sheen which matches the airvent surrounds. In the centre console there are a pair of levers.

No dials, no rotating buttons or tabs, two levers to engage drive and to select which driven (two or four) wheels to roll upon.Techwise, it’s the 7.0 inch touchscreen that stands out, complete with Rockford Fosgate sound. It’s typical Mitsubishi in being able to be read easily thanks to a clean layout, simple font, and a welcome resistance to attracting fingerprints.

Aircon is familiar in having dials and as is the deal with Mitsubishi they are as simple to use as they come. That’s the same with the seats. Cloth centred, and leather bolstered, they suffice, feeling a little slabby yet don’t lack for comfort over a drive of an hour.That applies to the controls at the end of the centre console which the centre row passengers can access. That console has a double level storage locker with a pair of press levers.

Centre row seats are fixed in a fore and aft sense, and have levers to fold. The third row aren’t difficult to access but are weighty, making raising and lowering a chore. But when the second and third row are folded, there’s a capacious 1,789L of cargo space. Third row head room is good at 961mm but a bit cramped for legs at 615mm. Middle row passengers have 1,017mm and 907mm respectively. Driver and front pew passenger luxuriate in 1,056 and 1,049mm head and leg room.What isn’t a chore is driving this venerable lump. The throttle response is instant, and we mean instant. There are barely a couple of millimetres of pedal travel before the engine reacts, and the tacho flickers in response.

Acceleration is progressive and diesel linear. Thanks to that low rev point and the amount of torque on tap, getting going is as easy as drawing breath.

The suspension shows its age on tarmac, with a harder than expected ride. There is some compliance but little of it on bumps that need instant damping.Freeway driving brings out a sense of each corner doing its own thing but telling the other three what it is. This keeps the boxy body flat and level, unfussed and diplodocus like in its mannerisms.

The five cogs hold back the Pajero too, with rolling acceleration and overtaking moves leisurely propositions.It’s noticeably twitchy at times, with the steering geometry such that road joins and the like unsettle the steering, jolting the front end momentarily and the steering wheel jumps in the driver’s hands. Dynamically, it’s not the first word yet, for all that, it can be manhandled to something approaching….a lumbering dexterity.

Age spots here too, as the wheel is a larger style than seen in younger chariots. Lock to lock feels closer to four turns than three. 225/55/18 wheels and rubber provide plenty of footprint, don’t unduly tax the power-assisted steering with an 11.4 metre turning circle, and can be coaxed, on wet roads, to provide a little bit of traction loss.

Off-roading is, or was, one of the strengths of the Pajero lineage, and the four wheel drive system has passed through to the Triton and Triton-based Pajero Sport in a more refined, electronically activated, sense. The stubby front and rear offer a 36.6 degree approach and 25.0 degree departure angle.

Here it’s a stubby lever, with a push down and forward to move from two wheel drive to the three four wheel drive modes. There’s plenty of grip, thanks to both the gearing and the torque, and partly why the Pajero, dinosaur it may be, has plenty to offer to drivers, older and younger.Where new drivers can learn how to drive safely is by driving a vehicle not loaded up with all of the latest must-haves. The onus them comes back to the organic component of the car. There is no Autonomous Emergency Braking, no Rear Cross Traffic, no Blind Spot Alert, no Vehicle Ahead has Moved, no Traffic Sign Recognition. Everything the Pajero GLS needs to do to be safe on the roads is left up to the person between the tiller and the seat.

Warranty is five years or 100,000 kilometres. Depending on where the services have been conducted, there may be a ten year or 200,000 kilometre warranty available.

At The End Of the Drive. in comparison to the Land Cruiser and Patrol, neither a spring chicken themselves, the Pajero GLS nevertheless delivers upon a promise. That promise is deliver the basics without fuss, without glitz, glamour, and show-ponying. It’s old, tired, the automotive equivalent of yelling at a Kona or T-Roc: “get off my driveway” but it still commands respect.

It’s not quick, it’s not agile, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s got grunt and this makes it docile to drive. Like a tiring ankylosaurus, there are still a few swings of its tail-punches left, but the opposition is waiting for the fall. Mitsubishi have confirmed that production comes to an end this year, after nearly four decades and 3.3 million sales. In 2020 build guise, the Pajero GLS is a dinosaur that still lives. Marvel and enjoy it for what it is and represents.

 

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Elite Diesel: Private Fleet Car Review.

Hyundai’s waved the makeover wand over its longest serving SUV nameplate and it’s a mix of quiet revolution. There’s been a nose job and a refresh of the interior, bringing the Santa Fe up fair and square into the gunsights of its sibling, the Sorento, and into a sharper focus against competition from Japan and Germany. There are four models; Santa Fe, Active, Elite, and Highlander.Pricing starts from $48,933 for the entry level petrol version, $52,134 for the same and with a diesel. The Elite starts from $59,000 and moves to $62,214 with white paint. Metallics, such as the Magnetic Force on our review vehicle, bump the diesel to $62,944. These are driveaway prices for our location. The top of the range Highlander is $66,783 and $69,984 in white.

Slightly changed are the engine and transmission. It’s the “familiar” 2.2L (whereas it’s slightly smaller than before at 2,151cc) capacity diesel, with oodles of torques, all 440 of them from 1,750 to 2,750rpm and 148 kW (up one kW) with a weight reduction of 19kg thanks to the use of alloys. It drives the four corners via a torque-split all wheel drive system. Connecting the two is a slick eight speed “wet” (thanks to oil-submerged clutch packs) dual-clutch auto.

Except, in this case, our Elite spec had an urge to creep forward at a stop sign or red lights, with a surge and back off, a surge and then back off. It’s not a phenomenon we’ve experienced in either of the Korean brand’s SUVs. What we did see was 5.4L/100km on the freeway with a final overall average of 7.4L/100km. Hyundai says there is a fuel economy change of up to 19% compared to the previous package.Changed though is the front and noticeably. It’s a change that brings it closer to the recent addition to the Hyundai stable, Palisade, and strengthens the imaging with coming models, we suspect. Hyundai are using LED technology to define a look, and in the Santa Fe there is a line that runs vertically in a T shape from the eyebrow driving lights down into the restyled and slightly repositioned headlights.The grille is a mix of bigger plates laid horizontally and meshed in a hexagonal pattern. The upper sections loses the dressing the previous model has and the whole design sees the grille compressed vertically to join the new headlights. Underneath there is a redesigned intake and alloy-look strip that runs into a fairing which funnels air into the leading edge of the front wheel-well. This varies in colour depending on trim level.Hyundai have minimised the body cladding around the wheelarches for a cleaner look. The wheels themselves are a funk black and alloy design at 20 inches of diameter, with 255/45 Continental Premium Contact 6 rubber. The rear has a powered tailgate which opens to the familiar pull-strap third row seats and capacious cargo section, complete with rear section aircon controls, USB and 12V. The rear lights have the same external design and appear to have been only lightly restyled inside.Inside there is the floating centre console with a USB and 12V socket in the nook, push button Drive/Neutral/Reverse/Park selectors (seen in Active, one level blow, and rotary/push dial for tarmac and off-road modes. The lower section has two cup holders, a USB port, and an interesting twist on the wireless charge pad. Initially, after noting the Qi sign indicating such, a phone was placed vertically. Yes, vertically, into the marked space. It wasn’t until a slight push had a flap underneath open that the phone could be pushed down to sit safely and engage the wireless charging. Cool, space-saving, effective. There are a pair of USBs for the second row seats.For the driver, the Elite stays with a separate binnacle and 10.25 inch touchscreen in a double arch upper dash design. The binnacle has the two analogue dials still and the font is of a different, almost Star Trek, style. The touchscreen is a widescreen style and houses plenty of sub-menus including the lifestyle sounds such as walking on snow or a fireplace crackling. OK then…Sounds came from a Harman Kardon system with very good depth clarity all round.

Passengers sit in leather clad seats however the Elite dips out on heating and venting for the front. The centre row are manually flipped and when they do they go flat to provide a surface from the tailgate through to the front seats. Close to 1,650L is the total capacity when in this configuration. The centre row passengers also have window shades for extra comfort that slide up from their own nook.Elite doesn’t want for safety either, missing out on a very short list of items seen only in Highlander. It misses out on the Blind Spot View Monitor in a digital dash display plus the Surround View Monitor, Parking Collision Avoidance Assist-Rear, Remote Smart Park Assist, and has a four sensor, not six, Park Distance Warning system. There’s airbags everywhere except in the centre console and a driver’s kneebag.On-road performance is “typical Hyundai diesel”. In layman’s terms that means the torque makes it very drivable, the suspension makes it fun and comfortable to be in, the grip is solid and tenacious, and rolling acceleration makes it safer on the highways. Insulation levels and a refined engine just work so well in keeping noise levels down, the steering is beautifully weighted and calibrated with 2.53 turns lock to lock, meaning quick response when required in turning and changing lanes.

The final drive ratio has the engine turning over, at freeway speeds, just below 1,750rpm, allowing a cog or two to change the revs up into that band where maximum torque is on tap. When dropping into Sport mode, selected via the dial, the electronics hold those gears longer and transfer more control over the engine to the driver’s right foot. Smart mode seemed, unusually, less sure of itself that normal, with the dual-clutch delay in engaging gear more readily apparent.

Bump absorption is stellar, with the big 20 inch wheels and relatively thin sidewalls unaffected by most road imperfections, as was the steering. It was only the larger and sometimes unavoidable ruts that had a minor bang-crash feel, yet the steering was again unaffected in bump-steer. In normal road situations then, the Santa Fe “wafts” and the ups and downs are briefly noticed and just as quickly forgotten by the suspension’s tune.Ease up to a stop sign, a red light, and the brake pedal has immediate feel. Intuitive for the driver is how any brake system should feel and the Santa Fe Elite has this well sorted. Travel is perfectly modulated and at any point the foot knows exactly what pressure is needed for the appropriate stopping distance.

Warranty is the standard five years and unlimited kilometres, with online servicing costs provided for each vehicle.

At The End Of The Drive. The Santa Fe in Elite trim wants for little in comparison to the Highlander and for those that don’t need those features such as heated/vented seats, a couple of extra parking sensors, and the like, it’s a relatively bargain. A starting point for info is here.

We thank Hyundai Australia for the review vehicle.

FCAI Sees Tunnel’s Light As Sales Increase

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, the FCAI, has released the new vehicle sales figures for February 2021. 83,977 vehicles were sold in February 2021, which is up 5.1 per cent on February 2020. Sales for that month saw 79,940 vehicles sold.

This positive result was reflected in the increases seen for N.S.W., W.A., S.A., QLD, and the N.T. Victoria was down by 8.7%, Tasmania by 3.9%, and the ACT by 38.3% compared to February 2020. Year to date sales of 163,643 vehicles is up 7.9 per cent on the same period in 2020.

SUV sales continued to dominate the market with sales of 42,651 vehicles and representing 50.8 per cent of the total market for February 2021. Light commercial vehicle sales represented 23 per cent (19,326) and passenger vehicles 22.9% (19,194).

On a marque basis, Toyota had a 21.9% market share, Mazda 9.9%, Hyundai 7.4%, equal with Mitsubishi and just ahead of Kia, and Ford on 7.0%, and 5.6%. Nissan clocked 4.6% with fellow Japanese maker Subaru on 3.1%. VW had 3.6 whilst Chinese owned and built MG also saw 3.6%.February sales saw a continued shift in preference by buyers to move away from passenger vehicles. Sales fell 15.3% in February 2021 compared to sales in February 2020. Sales of SUVs were up 8.6 per cent and sales of light commercials were up 24.3 per cent. Hybrid SUVs continue their inexorable climb, with 2,713 sold in February 2021, against 2,546 for the same period last year, and 5,456 from January 1st compared to 4,018 last year. PHEV sales were also up, with 149 and 275 against 92 and 149 on a month and year to date basis.

Toyota’s RAV4 lead the way in the category, with 2,750 against the Mazda CX-5’s 2,048. It was a scrap for third place with Mitsubishi’s Outlander (1,178), Nissan’s X-Trail (1,151), Hyundai’s Tucson (1,062) and Subaru’s Forester (1,009) duking it out. In the large SUV category and at sub-$70K, Toyota’s Prado won comprehensively with 1,407. Isuzu’s MU-X saw 745 sales for 2nd place, edging the outgoing Subaru Outback on 608.FCAI chief executive, Tony Weber, said the result showed that confidence was continuing to grow in the market. “During the past four months we have seen an increase of 10.6% in new vehicles and this has been reflected with strong growth in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory in February 2021. The sales reduction in Victoria can be attributed to the COVID 19 restrictions that were put in place during the month.“We remain confident that this trend of growth will continue in an environment where business operating conditions continue to normalise.”

Toyota was the leading brand in February with sales of 18,375 vehicles (21.9 per cent of the market), followed by Mazda with 8,322 (9.9 per cent), Hyundai with 6,252 (7.4 per cent), Mitsubishi with 6,202 (7.4 per cent) and Kia with 5,871 (7 per cent).

The Toyota Hilux was the best-selling vehicle in February 2021 with sales of 4,808 vehicles, followed by the Ford Ranger (2,900), the Toyota RAV4 (2,750), the Toyota Landcruiser (2,521) and the Toyota Corolla (2,427).

Kia’s revamped Carnival continued to dominate the People Mover sub-$60K segment, with 606 sales for a massive 62.5% market share, with Honda’s Odyssey on just 127. Mercedes-Benz listed 28 in the plus-$60K market for the V-Class.Purely electric passenger vehicles have seen a mild increase, with 119 for February 2021 against 86 for the same time in 2020. It’s the same on a YTD basis with 197 to 165 for 2020. For the electric SUV segment, it was a better result, with 139 to 60 for a month comparison, and 352 to 97 on a YTD basis.Key Points:
• The February 2021 market of 83,977 new vehicle sales is an increase of 4,037 vehicle sales or 5.1% on February 2020 (79,940) vehicle sales. February 2020 and February 2021 each had 24 selling days and this resulted in an increase of 168.2 vehicle sales per day.
• The Passenger Vehicle Market is down by 3,466 vehicle sales (-15.3%) over the same month last year; the Sports Utility Market is up by 3,378 vehicle sales
(8.6%); the Light Commercial Market is up by 3,784 vehicle sales (24.3%); and the Heavy Commercial Vehicle Market is up by 341 vehicle sales (13.8%) versus
February 2020.
• Toyota was market leader in February, followed by Mazda and Hyundai. Toyota led Mazda with a margin of 10,053 vehicle sales and 12.0 market share points.

(Information courtesy of FCAI)