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2021 Hyundai i30 Elite v 2021 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: The two cars, in hatchback form, that dominate the market for their sector. We were lucky enough to have the 2021 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport and 2021 Hyundai i30 Elite side by side. Five door bodies, automatics, revvy four cylinder engines, and decent tech for the average family are hallmarks of both. However, one of the two is not like the other, in that the i30 range was given a refresh late in 2020, with the sedan now replacing the Elantra, with Toyota’s offering always having a sedan available.

We back-to-back the pair in a not quite but close apples for apples comparison. The Elite is close to the top of the i30 range, the Ascent Sport is the entry level to a three tier range from Toyota.

How Much Do They Cost?: In basic Glacier White and auto form the Ascent Sport starts from $29,380 with metallics a no cost option but $500 on SX and ZR. For our location, Hyundai’s website priced the i30 Elite auto at $33,830 in Polar White. Clad in Intense Blue, as was our test car, that goes to $34,340. Both cars are on a drive-away price schedule. Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.0L GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) engine for the contender in the Korean corner, and a same sized engine for the Japanese contender. The Hyundai runs a traditional torque converter auto with six ratios, the Toyota a CVT with ten preprogrammed steps. Both drive the front wheels and each have manual shifting. Power for the Korean is 120kW and peak torque is 203Nm, with 6,200rpm and 4,700rpm the required figures. Corolla has 125kW and 200Nm, however Toyota don’t appear to list the rev points.The i30’s overall economy finished on a creditable 7.2L/100km. We saw a best of 6.0L/100km, a very good figure considering it was loaded with four passengers and a reasonable amount of boot space filled. Corolla’s average hovered between 6.0L to 6.5L per 100km in a more urban oriented drive. Tank for the Ascent Sport is 50.0L, matched by the i30. Both are 91RON and E10 compatible.

On The Inside It’s: Black leather for the i30, with perforated squabs but no venting nor heating. The Ascent Sport has black cloth as befits an entry level vehicle. Both have DAB audio and a point of difference here. The Toyota’s layout is simple and intuitive barring the fact it’s a black and white 8.0 inch screen. The Corolla has voice recognition, a bonus at an entry level.It’s much easier to use whereas the Hyundai’s updated screen, even with the appeal of colour and in the Elite it’s 10.25 inches, isn’t as intuitive. We also found the sensitivity of the Korean’s tuner to be less than the Corolla’s. Ascent Sport has satnav as an option and includes a USB port in Ascent Sport trim. Smart apps are standard in both.The dash design for each stamps their mark; the Corolla’s has barely changed in some years and features the somewhat heavy and intrusive triple wave design that intrudes into the kneespace of driver and passenger. The Hyundai’s design has space between the plastic and the knees and in the i30 it’s a simple, single line from side to side that incorporates the piano black surrounds for the aircon. The Hyundai’s gear selector feels it has a shorter throw and the springing in the Corolla isn’t as tight as the Elite’s.Both have auto, dusk sensing headlights, with the Elite’s higher spec level adding in rain sensing wipers. It’s a key start for the Ascent Sport, push button for the i30. The Elite also has a 12V socket up front with a wireless charging pad. The Corolla’s dash display has the speedo front and centre, with the full colour 4.3inch info screen on far right. The Elite has a full colour TFT 7.0 inch display, shared across all models.One notable difference between the two is the Corolla’s much discussed cargo section. It’s not a high loading lip however the cargo section’s floor is level with it, and underneath is the spare wheel and associated equipment. The i30’s floor is below the lip and seems further from the rear seats too, making for a more family friendly usage. Also, the i30’s boot area is home to the bass driver for the audio system. The Corolla has 217L to 333L, a figure much commented on since the revamps, with the Hyundai starting from 395L and moving to 1,301L with the second row folded. Both have a full sized spare.994mm and 977mm are the head room front and rear measurements for the i30, 1073mm and 883mm leg room, with 1,427mm and 1,406mm shoulder room. The Toyota spec sheet doesn’t list them.

On The Outside It’s: A mild but noticeable update for the i30. Up front is a set of driving lights that have have expanded from a simple strip of LEDs to a more assertive looking set of triangular LEDs that fill out the insert, and double as indicators. The grille has morphed and moved to a broader design, and has a more flamboyant fan shaped styling. The rear lights have a slight restyle to match the very mild changes to the front lights.

Corolla was given its own do-over in 2018. It’s broader, sharper edged, and lower than the more bluff and upright standing i30. The flanks are more organic, curved, than the straight sides of the i30, and the rear has a more pronounced slope than its Korean counterpart. The LED DRLs are far more inboard and set inside the narrow headlight cluster.There’s notable differences between these two however there are similarities to other brands. The VW Golf is more akin to the squat and bluff i30, Subaru’s laid back Impreza hatch is closer to the Corolla.

i30’s length is 4,340mm, and stands 1,455mm tall. Width is 1,795mm and wheelbase is a decent 2,650mm. Corolla is 4375mm in length, with a 2640mm wheelbase. Height and width are 1,435mm and 1,790mm.

On The Road It’s: A definite difference in feeling. The Corolla’s steering is light in comparison to the i30 Elite’s but it’s also more twitchy. The Hyundai has some real weight, and it’s subtly but noticeably more front wheel drive. The lightness of the Ascent Sport means one can comfortably pootle around town with only one hand on the tiller but that twitchiness then demands both hands be in contact. The i30’s has a need for both, particularly because of the over-enthusiastic lane keep assist function. The Corolla’s is noticeable but nowhere near as “grabby”, a complaint well recognised about the Korean. The i30’s suspension is more sporting in tune, with the 225/45/17 Hankook Ventus Prime rubber gripping hard and well, and providing a little bit of absorption from the smaller sidewalls. The Ascent Sport has 205/55/16s from Dunlop’s Enasave range and the higher sideall is certainly noticeable in ride absorption. It also flexes just enough to put a bit of Sport into the Ascent Sport name. Highway and freeway ride quality certainly had the Ascent Sport in a slightly more wallowly mood, not quite as tied down nor quick to dampen, as the i30. In contrast, the i30 was a bit more bang thump.The i30 had a minor glitch in the engine under load. On the flat and and on uphill acceleration, there was a momentary “pinging”, a stutter in the otherwise smooth pull of the 2.0L. It has to be noted that we’ve not experienced anything like this in a modern car and Hyundai’s garage was made aware of it. The auto is smooth in changing and the electronics work with the throttle input and engine’s revs perfectly. Using the manual shift option makes fractionally quicker changes.For the CVT in the Ascent Sport, if a quick getaway is the required situation, manual shifting works wonders. There’s minor “slurring” on the changes but it’s preferable to the unenergetic normal sensation from the CVT on gentle to medium acceleration. A harder and heavier pedal extracts more from the 2.0L and CVT and even brings in mild torque-steer.

Braking in both is courtesy of well balanced, well modulated, discs front and rear. The pedal in the i30 has a heavier feel and in context matches the steering. The Corolla’s is lighter but not without feel. It’s also slightly quicker in the ratio, but not by much.

What About Safety?: Hyundai doesn’t skimp on the i30, with Blind Spot Collision, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Safe Exit warning missing only from the base i30 and Active. Otherwise the Safety Sense package adds in Driver Attention Warning, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) – City/Urban/Interurban/Pedestrian/Cyclist (camera & radar), Lane Following Assist and Lane Keeping Assist-Line.

Corolla matches this with Lane Trace Assist for the CVT equipped Ascent Sport, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and Pre-Collision Safety system with pedestrian (day and night) and cyclist (day) detection plus Road Sign Assist. Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic, like an entry level i30, is missing in the Ascent Sport. Both load up seven airbags including a kneebag for the driver.

What About Warranty And Service?: Toyota has a VIN based service structure online. Warranty is five years and unlimited kilometres. That’s the same for the i30 and Hyundai also uses a VIN based service quote system.

At The End Of The Drive. In honesty, there really isn’t a lot between them, even looking at putting the SX in the place of the Ascent Sport. It would be convenience factors such as the charge pad perhaps, the extra clearance of the dash in the i30 over the Corolla’s design, and the brilliant screen for the driver in the i30 against the slightly better economy in the Corolla and the more user friendly interface on the touchscreen.The driving experience is a user dependent one; for us the i30’s ride tune was preferable, however there is no doubt that the softer and more comfortable tune of the Corolla Ascent Sport has its adherents. There’s also that legendary Toyota sense of being bullet-proof and infallible. In essence, the gap isn’t as big as it could have been.

Mazda Hits 2021 With Updates To The Mazda6

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

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

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

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

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

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

2021 Suzuki Swift GLX Turbo: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: A update to a member of the always popular Swift range. The GLX Turbo, in this case, gets a little extra equipment as part of the Series 2 refresh. For now, it’s also the top of the three tier range as the Suzuki Swift Sport takes a hiatus.How Much Does It Cost?: $25,410 drive-away is what you’ll see as a sticker price. That’s up from the Series 1 price of $22,990 two years ago.

Under The Bonnet Is?: A perky 1.0 litre three cylinder engine, which is good for 82kW and 160Nm from 1,500rpm to 4,000rpm.Transmission is a six speed auto only sadly, and it feels a bit like a dual clutch, but isn’t.

Fuel capacity is 37.0L, with consumption, says Suzuki at 5.1L/100km on the combined cycle. We averaged 6.6L/100km on our 70/30 split.

On The Outside It’s: A mix of 16-inch alloys (common across the three models), dusk-sensing LED headlights, reversing camera, and a body shape that lacks the sharper edged look of the previous model. The headlight design became more of an amorphous blob in the redesign a couple of years ago, whilst the rear lights followed the lead of Baleno and became smaller but stood out and away from the body.

A visual clue for the change from Series 1 to Series 2 update is a chrome bar running horizontally in the grille. The alloys also have been changed slightly.

On The Inside It’s: Featuring cruise control, cloth on the seats, and a reach & rake adjustable steering wheel column. The 7.0 inch touchscreen is the same four quarter starting look seen across the Suzuki family, with no DAB in the audio system. There are smartphone apps though, and the GLX gets an extra pair of speakers over the Navigator and Navigator Plus, making for six all up. For the driver, a 4.3 inch full colour screen shows varying sorts of info, including fuel consumption, speed, and a g-force meter for good measure.Suzuki have always managed to package a small car well, so there’s adequate head and leg room for most, however the sheer size of the Swift means boot space is on the small side at 265L, moving to 576L with seats folded.What About Safety?: A substantial increase for the Series 2. AEB is now standard and works over a broader velocity range. Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are now standard. Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning are backed up by six airbags and the usual ABS and stability controls.

On The Road It’s: Point and squirt in nature. The three cylinder doesn’t take much to spool up and get the Swift GLX Turbo humming. The transmission hooks up quickly, taking the torque of the little engine that can, translating it quickly and easily to drive. It’s smooth, slick, efficient, and the engine revels in being a free-spinner.

The transmission selector has a hiccup in its design though. It’s s straight through selector, from Park to Drive, and then Manual. There isn’t a lockout or a sideways move to engage, meaning more than once Manual was inadvertently selected and we’re left wondering momentarily why the gears hadn’t changed.The suspension is typical for a small car. There’s very little real suspension travel, having the Swift GLX Turbo bottoming out on the bumpstops too easily. There is barely enough compliance for a truly comfortable ride, with the shock absorbers tuned to dial out the pogo style up and down on undulations more so than “normal” road conditions.

Twirl the steering wheel and there’s enough resistance to provide a sense of sportiness at low speed, and it lightens up, but not too much at freeway velocities. Same for the brakes, as the GLX Turbo has discs all around rather than disc and drum. The pedal has just the right amount of pushback and feedback for the size of the car.What About Warranty And Service?: The Suzuki website has a page where an owner can submit their car’s build details. The Swift Sport comes with a five tear warranty, and with unlimited kilometres. They’ll cover commercial applications such as ride share for up to 160,000 kilometres.

Servicing is 12 monthly or 10,000 kilometres for turbo cars, and Suzuki have capped price servicing for five years or 100,000 kilometres. The first service is $239, followed by $329, $239, $429 then $239.

At The End Of The Drive. In comparison, we drove the Suzuki Sport in mid 2020, and you can see that here.
The GLX Turbo really isn’t that different in spirit and nature, so it remains to be seen if the Swift Sport itself will return in some way. For now though, the 2021 Suzuki Swift GLX Turbo is the current king of the castle in the Swift family.

2021 Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Isuzu’s substantially overhauled D-Max, specifically the 4×4 capable and top of the range X-Terrain. It heads a solid list of 4×2, 4×4, cab chassis, extended cab, and four door utes, all with the same 3.0L diesel and six cogger manual or autos. Info on the range and engine updates can be found here.How Much Does It Cost?: At the time of writing, Isuzu have a drive-away price tag of $58,990. Then there is the extensive list, over fifty, of options available.

Under The Bonnet Is: A revamped 3.0L diesel and six speed auto, driving a switchable two or four wheel drive system, with low range and a locking rear differential. Peak power is 140kW, but it’s the peak torque of 450Nm from 1,600rpm to 2,600rpm that does the important stuff.

Economy was good with our final figure of 9.7L/100km on our 70/30 urban to highway split close to the quoted figures from Isuzu, as the pure urban figure is 9.8L/100km, and highway 6.9L/100km. Isuzu’s combined figure is 8.0L/100km from a 76.0L tank. Towing capacity, by the way, is 3.5 tonnes. Dry weight is 2,30kg with a payload of 970kg.On The Inside It’s: A considerable step up from the previous model. There’s a more luxurious feel, a better look, yet some noticeable omissions.

Our time with the X-Terrain coincided with Sydney’s notoriously fickle late spring weather. Temperatures varied by twenty degrees Celsius, so the absence of heating and venting for the leather appointed seats was striking. However, they’ve been redesigned so there’s more sense of sitting in, not on, and the support level laterally goes up as a result. However, only the driver’s seat is powered for adjustability.

There is also no smartphone charge pad, only the driver’s windows switch is one touch, and the DAB tuner’s sensitivity isn’t the best going, with dropouts in areas no other vehicle we’ve tested and packing a DAB tuner having similar issues. Touchscreen size is 9.0 inches and Isuzu say it’s a pixel heavy count, at 144 pixels per square inch. The touchscreen interface for the audio needs polishing, as does the home screen look. It’s somewhat irksome that Isuzu has gone to a lot of trouble to “rebuild” the D-Max yet some basics have been overlooked. This is a top of the range vehicle, but yet…On the upside is the app connectivity and dash display design. It’s unlike virtually everyone else in look, yet it’s easy to read, and easy to use thanks to the steering wheel tabs that scroll information on a full colour LCD screen. The analogue dials are also clearly read, as are the no-nonsense tabs in a strip below the touchscreen. An added pair of pluses are the rain sensing wipers and auto headlights.

The dash itself has angles built into the soft-touch plastics that evoke the angles of the exterior of the D-Max. This includes the creaseline from the left air vent down and across the double glovebox design, with an upper and lower split. There’s a lidded storage locker on the upper dash that has been improved, in the sense the locker mechanism works all the time, every time. The very handy cup holders that pop out from under the left and right air vents remain.Drive is selected via a basic looking pistol grip lever, surrounded by piano black that echoes the material surrounding the touchscreen. The steering column is rake and reach adjustable. Leg room for the front seats is 1,075mm, with the rear seats in the four door ute at 905mm. 1,460mm shoulder room is what is found up front, meaning comfort levels in this aspect are high. Having rear seat air vents and a USB socket, plus a coat or shopping bag hook on the back of the front passenger seat raises the ante too.On The Outside It’s: Clad in a brilliant Cobalt Blue (on the test car), and there are three bespoke colours (two shared with the LS-U) including Volcanic Amber specifically for the X-Terrain. The most noticeable change from the previous model has been the enlargement of the grille which now extends further downwards, and the horizontals which have been flipped 180 degrees. The end plates now look more like teeth, adding an aggressive look.

Headlight design sees a slimming down of the design, and it brings a more assertive look, somehow evoking an eagle or a hawk. The rear lights also have been reprofiled, with a sharper overall look. The aggressive styling continues with strakes in the housing for the driving lights. On the test car was a lockable and rolling tray cover with the rear bumper, fitted with a towbar, having three steps to access the tray.

A stylish rollbar flows back from the roofline, and in a graphite grey plastic (with red highlights) it matches the roofrails and a pair of lower rear quarter aero-foils. Sidesteps and and wheel arch flares finish the package.Rolling stock sees black painted alloys wrapped in Bridgestone Dueller H/T rubber. They’re a good size at 265/60/18. The X-Terrain itself is a good size, measuring a full 5,365mm in total length, 1,785mm in height, and a broad 1,870mm on a 1,570mm track. Wheelbase is up too, from 3,095mm to 3,125mm. Wading depth is now up to 800mm thanks to a redesigned engine bay air intake.

On The Road It’s: A little underwhelming in one respect. There’s noticeable understeer in 2WD, the Duellers lose just enough grip to squeal as they push wide too. The auto suits the engine’s characteristics much better than the six speed manual we tested in the SX recently.

Being a diesel, it does mean that the torque delivery at low revs means it’s an unstressed, easy going, highway spinner. That breathlessness comes in more for suburban driving, especially when pulling away from a set of traffic lights and trying to clear traffic. It’s not the zippiest of engine and gearbox combinations, nor is it the quietest, feeling a little lacklustre in comparison to, say, a Kia Sorento 2.2L and eight speed, which has a similar overall weight. Move away from a suburban stop sign and it pulls cleanly and effortlessly away for the speed zone as the throttle sensor keeps revs lower than accelerating from the aforementioned lights..

The auto is smooth, with up and downshifts mostly invisible. Downhill runs had the transmission holding gear, and again mostly worked well enough, changing up when a human also would have made the change.

Ride quality, considering it’s a commercial oriented vehicle, isn’t horrible. It’s well tied down for the most part, with nicely controlled rebound from the rear leaf sprung suspension, and a well balanced, tauter, double wishbone front end, in comparison. Steering weight is well matched to the ride too, with enough effort required to move the new electronically assisted steering to not feel over-light and thus lose steering feel.

Being four wheel drive capable, there are some big numbers for the angles. Get off road and an approach angle of 30.5 degrees, a departure of 24.2 degrees, and a breakover of 23.8 degrees make for some exceptionally capable dirt eating.Something that stood out, and not entirely in a positive way, was the determination of what the Forward Collision Warning system felt to be a dangerous situation. There’s some recalibration to be done ans it would alert the driver to an object ahead however the brake was already being employed. At other times it would read an object that was turning left or right and therefore no longer a potential issue.

What About Safety?: There are now eight airbags throughout the cabin. In between the front pews is a centre mounted airbag, a segment first. A reverse camera is standard, along with parking sensors at either end. AEB is programmed for speeds above 10kph and has pedestrian & cyclist detection. Lane Keep Assist is standard and works best for speeds between 60 to 130. Forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assistance, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are also fitted.

What About Warranty And Service?: Isuzu’s warranty offers six years or 150,000km, plus they’ll lob in seven years of roadside assistance provided services are done at the dealerships. Service intervals on the new D-Max remain 15,000km or 12 months, covered initially by a seven-year capped-price servicing program. This totals $3374 over that period, with the most expensive service (at 90,000km) costing $749.

At The End Of The Drive. It’s a much improved machine that Isuzu has given the marketplace, and the results are already flowing, with sales of the 4×4 version over 1,500 in November 2020. It takes on the HiLux and Ranger, and outsold the Triton too.

It’s a better looker, the interior has a more upmarket feel, but it still needs some more polishing in a couple of areas for features seen in other marques but not here, such as heating/venting for the seats, or perhaps offering electrical adjustment for the front passenger seat, not just the driver’s. As an overall package, it’s a better option that before, and the coming months will tell the tale sales wise. It looks the part, and pricewise it is poised to take aim at the two above it quite nicely.

Auto Bounce Back: Is the Slide Over?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information courtesy of the FCAI and VFACTS.

2021 Isuzu D-Max SX 4×2 Cab Chassis: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: The starting point to the revamped (finally) Isuzu D-Max range. There is a bewildering choice: five two wheel drive vehicles in two or four door versions, and eight 4WD including the top of the ladder X-Terrain (coming to AWT very soon).

How Much Does It Cost?: As of November 2020, Isuzu had the SX 4×2 cab chassis on a stunning drive-away deal of $29,990. A quote built on the Isuzu sire has a retail price of around $8,400 more, representing a huge saving for new buyers. The colour on our review was basic Mineral White as a no cost option. There are, of course, plenty of additions such as a nudge or bull bar at $1,000 or $2,999, a slide out step at $370.70, or, as fitted, an under tray water tank ($360.80) or lockable undertray tool box at $437.80. A welded wire mesh window protector was fitted and that’s $193.60.Under The Bonnet Is: A six speed manual gearbox and a 3.0L diesel. A six speed auto is optionable for the SX, standard in the 4x2s after the SX, and in the 4x4s only the LS-U and X-Terrain have auto only. The donk is common for all variants and produces 140kW and 450Nm. A worrying number though is what comes next. Urban economy is quoted as 10.2L/100km (9.8L/100km for the auto) for the SX 4×2 cab chassis. Then there is the weight: 1,695kg (dry) is a substantial figure for a vehicle that doesn’t look as half as heavy. Payload is listed as 1,305kg or 1,300kg depending on manual or auto fitted.Combined economy is listed as 8.0L/100km with the highway figure 6.7L or 6.9L/100km. We saw a best of 8.8L/100km and a worst of 10.1L/100km, with a final average of 9.7L/100km. Frankly, we expected a better return. Tank size, by the way, is 76L.

On The Outside It’s: Got some big numbers. Length overall: 5,325mm. Wheelbase: 3,125mm. 1,310mm for the rear overhang depending on the body fitted. 235mm for the body ground clearance. Inside the tray is 1,777mm of space, with a length of 2,550mm.

The main visible changes from the outgoing models are in the headlight design, the grille, and the bumper. The SX misses out on the LED driving lights, staying with a full halogen setup. The nose is a more upright style, the strakes in the grille have been turned upside down so the end points point downwards. It’s also bigger than before, extending downward to include, as a one piece item, a separate air intake. The surrounds for the driving lights in the far ends of the bumper has also been restyled.As mentioned, our review vehicle had some options fitted and these add some genuine flexibility to the overall usage. What was noticed though, was the somewhat ridiculous placing of the rear bumper, complete with step, underneath and inside the length of the tray. In essence, one could place a foot on the step but would have their leg at a 45 degree angle away from the step, rendering that particular feature unusable.We also noticed that the inside of the tray had a pair of ridges, one each side and a few centimetres from the outer wall. These have a series of holes drilled through from front to back, presumably to be used as tie down points.On The Inside It’s: Pretty good considering it’s the entry level model. Good looking plastics, comfortable and supportive cloth-trimmed pews, a dash display that’s slightly manga for our tastes, and simple to use & operate dials for the aircon. However, when the AC button is on, it’s only a too faint white light to show, rather than the more logical and visible blue light as seen virtually everywhere else.

A nice surprise was digital audio however the Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatible 7.0 inch touchscreen has a home screen that is frankly terrible. There is a compass and a clock; the compass shows, when tapped, GPS coordinates only, rather than a far more usable navigation system. Once through to the audio screen (a tap of the piano black music symbol at bottom right) it brings up a screen that is mostly ok but not intuitive for scrolling through or setting stations as a favourite. As updated compared to the previous model, at this level, it may be it needs more polish.

It’s a key start and we found that on nearly every twist, it would act as if the battery was dead. A second twist and the engine fired up with no indication anything was amiss.Convenience features come in the form of a 12V socket, a USB port, a pair of cup holders and a small console bin. The tiller is reach and rake adjustable, and there is voice recognition software for the audio system. Headlights are auto-on and thick, easy to clean, rubber mates were fitted.

On The Road It’s: A typical light commercial in being a very bouncy ride without a load. We did get a chance to put in around 100kg of load and there was a small but noticeable improvement in the ride quality. The front suspension is coil springs on double wishbones, the rear is semi-elliptic leaf springs with gas shockers.

The redline on the 3.0 diesel is around 4,200rpm, but it runs out of puff well before that. Call it 3,000rpm and you’d be on the money. That peak torque, mind, is from 1,600rpm to 2,600rpm, so it’s entirely a bad think. Peak power is reached at 3,600rpm.It pulls nicely, and as expected, through to that 3,000rpm and this makes general driving a fair proposition. The gearing, however, is commercial (natch!) so 1st gets to maybe 25kph before a change up. 2nd runs to 40, 45kph. 6th sees around 2,000rpm at freeway velocities.Steering is heavy but not excessively so, and lightens up gradually as the numbers look north to 110kph. On the freeway it’s weighted just heavily enough to get the driver thinking, and light enough so extra effort to haul the SX 4×2 from lane to lane isn’t required. Changing down the gears is good enough too, with a heavy-ish clutch and notchy selector ensuring that driver involvement is a little less intuitive, a little more think about where things are.

The weighting of the selector is just about right though, and the lever height has the top fall to hand perfectly. This make the actual gear change on the go spot on, and combined with the notchy change, makes this manual transmission the right choice for the Isuzu SX 4×2.What About Safety?: Blind Spot Monitoring is standard, as is Rear Cross Traffic Alert and AEB. That’s across the range. Lane Departure Warning and Emergency Lane Assist are standard. A somewhat touchy Forward Collision Warning threw a few falsies our way but it too is standard across the range. Airbags? Eight, thank you very much, making the SX 4×2 better equipped in this respect that many passenger oriented vehicles. There are dual front, curtain, side, driver’s knee and far side airbags.

What About Warranty And Service?: It’s impressive. There is a six year warranty, seven years capped price servicing and roadside assist. First service is $389, fourth is $509, and seventh is $409. Intervals are 12 monthly or 15,000 kilometres.

At The End Of The Drive. As an entry level machine, the Isuzu D-Max SX 4×2 stacks up well. Pricing is sharp, engineering is sorted bar the surprisingly breathless engine, safety levels are high, and the cabin is decent enough. The touchscreen interface is a bit “how’s yer father” though and lowers the otherwise welcoming ambience of the cabin. The reskin has given the D-Max a more purposeful look and for the tradie, a huge range of options bring massive flexibility.

An overview of the D-Max range is available online.

MG Powers Up With Australian Release of ZS EV.

Historic nameplate MG joins the EV revolution with the all-new, full-electric MG ZS EV compact SUV. Now available to customers in Australia and New Zealand in one trim level only, it’s the cheapest EV available with a drive-away price of $43,990. That price includes an eight year, 160,000 kilometre battery warranty, and a five year, unlimited kilometre, car warranty. Roadside assistance is included for five years.It’s a price that is sure to attract keen interest. The CEO of MG Australia and New Zealand, Peter Ciao, said: “Until now, buyers have had to pay a premium price for an EV. This has meant that only a small portion of the public can afford to buy an EV. Our vision at MG Motor is to change this situation by making electric vehicles available and accessible to everyone. By removing the affordability barrier, we are seeking to fast track EV adoption in Australia and New Zealand.” MG have located the charge port for the front electric motor rated at 105kW and 353Nm at a central point. Charging is provided via a standard CCS2 socket located conveniently behind the grille. The flexibility comes from plugging in a standard household socket or a DC charge cable up to 350kW. This will bring the battery to 80 percent charge from zero in just 45 minutes. At home, it’s a standard overnight charge time for the 44.5kW battery, itself an in-house development by MG. The company is just one of three to have their own battery building facility.That battery size allows for the MG ZS EV to look at a range of just over 260 kilometres. It also endows the MG ZS EV with a 0-100kph time of a scintillating 3.1 seconds from a 1,532kg body, just 50kg heavier than a standard ZS. There are three drive modes to take advantage of, being Eco, Normal, and Sport.

The sole trim level doesn’t skimp on the niceties. Above the passengers is a Panoramic Stargazer glass roof, and at a surface coverage area of 90%, it’s one of the largest of its type. The fronts eat passengers have an 8.0 inch touchscreen complete with Apple and Android smartphone connectivity, satnav, and six speaker audio. drive selection is via a rotary gear selector and there are three regenerative modes.

The dimensions (4,314mm length, 1,809mm wide, 1,644mm tall on a 2,585mm wheelbase) provide plenty of head, leg, and shoulder room as well, along with a flat rear floor that provides up to 1,166L worth of cargo space when the 60/40 splitfold rears are folded. The leather seats have tight stitching and are well padded for comfort. Outside is the familiar “London Eye” headlight design and dual-tone alloys at 17 inches in diameter. Exterior colour choices will include one that is exclusive to the ZS EV, Clipper Blue. Buyers can also choose from Diamond Red metallic paint, Regal Blue,, metallic paint, and Dover White or Pebble Black.MG Pilot is the main safety system including Adaptive Cruise Control, Front Collision and Lane Departure Warning, plus Emergency Braking, and Speed Assist. It’s a five star safety rating for the MG ZS EV, with a high torsional strength cabin and rigidity factor. The battery has been certified independently to be fire, submersion, dust, pressure, impact, and salt spray resistant.

Our friends over at Exhaust Notes Australia attended the launch, and have provided this initial review

‘Electric for everyone’
MG Motor’s parent company, SAIC Motor, has invested heavily in electric as well as other new energy vehicle technologies, processes and battery production, making it one of only a handful of auto manufacturers to own its EV supply chain. In 2019, that expertise resulted in the production of more than 185,000 electric vehicles, making it one of the top five EV producers globally by volume. MG Motor now brings this experience to the local market, enabling it to deliver state-of-the-art EV technology at the best value and packed with features.

2020 Toyota LC76 LandCruiser GXL: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A genuine living dinosaur. Toyota’s LC76 LandCruiser is as basic as they come in a modern world. It’s a square and blocky exterior, features old-school drivetrain tech when it comes to off-road driving, and the interior is a real throw back. We loved it.How Much Does It Cost?: This is the part where a nip of a good 12yo single malt comes in handy. $77,116 drive-away. That’s a fair bit of coin for a vehicle that has not a lot, yet, for some, offers plenty.

Under The Bonnet Is: A very grunty 4.5L V8 fed by diesel. The big thing is paired with a five speed manual transmission, internally operated lever for 4WD low range, and front locking wheel hubs. Yes, you read that right. Peak power is 151kW and peak torque is 430Nm at a lazy 1,200rpm to 3,200rpm, just under the 3,400rpm where peak power lies. Economy is quoted as 10.7L/100km from the combined cycle, and would be better with a six speeder as at highway speeds it’s cruisy but just on the cusp of feeling breathless. Just. The real feeling of running out of steam really kicks in at around 3,000rpm, not that there is much time spent here anyway. That economy figure is not unreasonable in being achieved as we averaged 11.0L/100km. Kerb weight is a hefty 2,265kg. The fuel tank size depends on the model of the LC chosen, ranging from 130L to 180L.

On The Outside It’s: What’s called a two-box design. Big box for the cabin, a smaller one for the engine compartment. It makes for an easy design, and allows for simple interior packaging. The rear doors are a 40/60 split, with the smaller opening first, and a separate lever for the bigger. These open to a substantial cargo space. Front wheels are, as mentioned, lockable via a centre-hub mounted dial. Nowhere to be found is an electronic system to do however there is a button inside for locking the rear diff. In front is a BIG bumper, almost something that own its own could smash an iceberg. Our review vehicle had a large snorkel intake fitted as well, and audible was the intake and breathing on gear change as the actual intake is just above and in front of the drivers head. A massive intercooler gets fresh air via something rarely seen on a car nowadays: an intake scoop.The glasshouse is huge, with plenty of airiness courtesy of the big windows. the front passenger windows look out at wing mirrors that are also old school. No internal operating mechanism, either powered or via a lever, for adjustment. Underneath is a set of big rubber from Dunlop. The Grandtrek tyres are proper off-road capable in tread pattern and the 265/70 grippers wrap 16 inch alloys.Overall dimensions make for a big machine. Length is 4,910, height is 1,940mm, and width is 1,870mm. Dimensions are big underneath too, with 2,730mm for the wheelbase, 1,555mm front track and a narrower 1,430mm for the rear.

On The Inside It’s: As sparse and as bare as you can get in a modern car. We say modern car as this one has a build date of March, 2020, belying the look and feel of the 1980s. There are no steering wheel controls. Aircon is operated via slide levers, and separate ones for fresh or recirculate, cold to hot, and direction. A pair of dials operate the fan speeds. There is a proper cigarette lighter and ashtrays in the rear doors…A basic looking radio head unit provides AM, FM, and digital tunes via a CD player, There is a nod towards modernity thanks to a USB port. A hark back to the past is found with a rocker switch to raise or lower the electric powered aerial.Seat material and plastics are a blue grey hue everywhere and the dash itself is a solid, square, blocky design mimicking the exterior. The cargo section is huge, with a guesstimate (as Toyota doesn’t quote any) at well over 600L and that’s before the folding of the heavy second row seats. These are lever operated both for lift and fold, no electronics here.From the driver’s seat, the view is of a gear selector that is around three feet in length. That’s somewhat exaggerated but not by a lot. To the right is the range (as in high and low range) selector, and to the left, a solitary cupholder…

On The Road It’s: Less nimble than a sinking Titanic, as slow to get going as a sloth on a cold day, and feels as heavy as carrying an elephant. But somehow it overcomes any negative to form, in our very humble opinion, a huge positive.

It’s actually fun to drive.

In a way, those perceived negatives are why. For starters, it’s a manual, a rarity, and a manual that requires experience with how one works. The selector is long, and synchronising the shifts is fairly important as the cogs are a bit agricultural in meshing. The shift is on the heavy side, and it’s a lonnnnnnnng throw between the five forward gears and engaging Reverse takes some patience and muscle.The turning circle is bigger than the orbit of Venus around the sun, the steering is something like five turns left and right from centre, and it’s heavy. It means a driver has to plan, get involved, be part of the driving process. The thought process to engage a gear whilst swinging hard on a weighty steering, judging the not-so-talkative brakes, whilst considering the mass of the big thing, brings a proper sense of what it is to DRIVE a car to the soul.

Highway cruising showcases the fact a six speed would be a better option here. Although final gearing has highway speeds somewhere around 2,000rpm or so, a sixth gear could drop that to 1,500rpm, add a bit more economy, and add just a little more drivability.

What About Safety?: Simple. There is, apart from the front, curtain, and driver’s kneebag, and electronic basics like traction control and HillStart Assist, sweet F.A. And no, this is not a bad thing. by being as basic as it is, it forces a driver to far more engaged in the driving that merely piloting a car, waiting for the beeps and tones as the car goes over roadside whitelines, judging the steering and manual mirrors to check for vehicles before changing lanes, and understanding the limitations in order to be a safer driver.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years, and seven years for the engine IF the car is serviced at a Toyota dealership. Conditions apply. Capped price servicing applies via a VIN identification.

At The End Of The Drive. As lumbering and specification-bare the LC76 is, it remains on sale for a select market. People that understand it. Toyota isn’t in the business of ditching models that sell to a hardcore audience and know both its abilities and its limitations instinctively. As a driver’s car, it is. It embodies what driving is all about. That’s why we loved it.

2021 Mitsubishi Express SWB LCV: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: A return of the Express nameplate for Mitsubishi. Except, in a way, it isn’t. You see, if you lined up the Express alongside the Renault Traffic and removed the grilles, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Its a joint project and comes from an alliance between Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi. There are already plans to release more products wearing the three diamond badge that come from the other two. There are two engines, 1.6L and 2.0L, a manual for the smaller engine, an auto for the larger, and a choice of short wheelbase (SWB) or long wheelbase (LWB). We drove the 2.0L auto SWB.

How Much Does It Cost?: As of October 2020, the manufacturer’s list price is $42,490 plus ORC. The Mitsubishi website has it at and if you have an ABN, which is most likely, chat to your Mitsubishi dealer. For the manual, the website has an ABN drive-away price of $40,890. These prices aren’t hugely different to the equivalents from Renault.

Under The Bonnet Is: One very well sorted and torquey diesel. At 2.0L capacity and driving a slick six speed auto, it delivers 125kW and a very healthy 380Nm at 1.500rpm. Economy on the combined cycle is quoted as 7.3L/100km from an 80.0L tank. We finished our drive at 9.4L/100km on our typical 70/30 urban to highway mix.On The Outside It’s: White, and black, and boxy. Renault’s basic design is more focused on the front and rear, and it kind of works. It’s certainly far less of a box than the original Express. Strong vertical lines make up the tail light structure, matching the barn doors. The headlights are teardrop in flavour, flowing upwards to the end of the bonnet line and just under the A-pillar, with the base running in a line alongside the top of the black bumper. Light commercial spec tyres are steel wheels are standard, and are 215/65/16s. a whip antenna stands above the cabin.Overall sizes have the Express SWB one millimetre shy of 5,000mm in length, rolling on a wheelbase of 3.098mm, and a shoulder room liking 1,956mm. Body height is 1,976mm, just low enough for most shopping centre carparks, but the antenna will bang against some sections. Kerb weight is 1,870kg and there is a maximum payload of 1,115kg. Cargo space is 1,652mm except for the wheel arches at 1,268. Interior height is 1,387mm and length inside is 2,537mm.On The Inside It’s: A typical light commercial vehicle. There is a lining for the floor, a cage between the driver & passengers section, and the seating is a two plus one setup. Each side has an easy to move sliding door. The seats are covered in a basic hard wearing charcoal coloured cloth. There is no console between the driver’s seat and the passenger seat, however there are nooks and spaces in the dash itself, along with a factory fitted phone holder and passenger seat undertray. Rubber mats were also fitted to our test vehicle.The tilt and telescopic steering wheel is devoid of most familiar controls, with the audio selection relegated to a tab hiding behind the right steering wheel spoke. the wheel itself has four tabs, all for cruise control operation. Audi was in a basic looking head unit, akin to the style found in cars of the 1980s yet there was a nice surprise: digital audio. However that did seem to fail halfway through our review cycle. To back it up is Bluetooth streaming and voice activation however there is only one pair of speakers.On The Road It’s: Very carlike to drive, Bear in mind it wasn’t loaded with the cargo one would normally tip in, but with a light load on board, it was settled and comfortable. The torque of the engine arrives in a rush in the first gear, and becomes exceedingly usable from there on. Overtaking and highway cruising is easy, however an eight speed auto would add more flexibility and aid economy. Steering is on the light side of just right and ratioed for easy parking at slow speeds, heavier for the highway. Braking, too, is well weighted and enables consistent judging of just how much is required to pull up at the right spot.What About Safety?: Driver and passenger front airbags, side airbag for the driver, and curtain airbags for both. A rear view camera shows in the rear vision mirror as well. Autonomous emergency braking, blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings are not to be found here although rear sensors are.

What About Warranty And Service?: Although Mitsubishi have recently introduced a ten year warranty and service plan, conditions will apply. Speak to your local dealer to confirm for your circumstances.At The End of The Drive. From a business point of view having Mitsubishi back in the mix isn’t a bad thing. Keeping the range to a choice of short or long wheelbase, and consequently auto or manual as well, simplifies things. Sharing the platform with Renault isn’t a bad thing when it comes to spare parts however the question will be how much Mitsubishi is in the Mitsubishi Express?

Specifications and links to more information is here.

2020 Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Nissan’s Navara and its partnership with Premcar. This joint partnership has given Premcar the opportunity to work with Nissan and provide an Australian engineered alternative to Ford’s Ranger Raptor and the former contender from Holden and HSV, the Sportscat.

What Does It Cost?: A not inconsiderable $67,290 on a drive-away basis. However it’s close to $9K cheaper than a Raptor and around $2K cheaper than a Wildtrak X with 2.0L bi-turbo diesel.Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.3L twin turbo diesel. Power is 140kW at a high, for a diesel, 3,750rpm. Peak torque is the critical figure and that’s 450Nm between 1,500rpm and 2,500rpm. In comparison, the Raptor’s 2.0L diesel has 157kW and 500Nm (1,750rpm to 2,000rpm). There is a choice of a six speed manual or a seven speed auto, driving two or four wheels via an electronic selector and a switch to lock the rear diff. Nissan quotes 7.0L per 100km on the combined cycle. We finished at 9.4L/100km on our 70/30 urban to highway cycle. Tank size is 80.0L.On The Outside It’s: Clad in White Diamond (choices are Slate Grey and Cosmic Black), our test car, which highlights the orange hued pieces of trim spread around the outside edges of the steps, mirrors, and front driving lights. There is a blacked-out decal along the flanks that declares the car to be an N-Trek Warrior, and sits nicely between the big tyres fitted. They’re from renowned off-road tyre supplier, Cooper, and are 275/70/17s from the Discoverer AT3 range.For the tray, there is a tub liner, a blacked out roll-bar, a Navara decal on the tailgate, a black rear step-bumper, and a towbar attachment. Heavy duty flared guard attachments add a muscular, no-nonsense, look, with that same take-everything-on ideal up front with a heavier looking front bar complete with LED light strip, and blacked out trim for the grille.

Underneath is increased ride height for the body, and plenty of sheetmetal (3mm thick 302 standard stainless steel) for protecting the engine’s sump, transmission, and vital cables. This is necessary given the angles the N-Trek Warrior can find itself at: approach is up to 35 degrees and break-over of 27.5 degrees. Departure angle isn’t great at just 19 degrees.Overall, the N-Trek Warrior stands 1,895mm tall, rolls on a wheelbase of 3,150mm inside a total length of 5,385mm, and the total width of 1,920 (sans mirrors) adds to the shoulder room inside. Inside the tub is a 1,503mm floor length, and between the rear wheel arches is 1,130mm with extra space either side at 1,560mm on the floor. Depth is 474mm. Payload is 724kg and braked towing is 3.5 tonnes.On The Inside It’s: Aging. Gracefully, but aging. Nissan says a new Navara is on the way for 2021. What it has for now is a dash with an elegant sweep in the style, a bad reflection into the windscreen, a non-DAB tuner (disappointing), fine grains to the plastic on the dash, and a dated use of alloy hued plastics on the tiller, console, and touchscreen surrounds. The seats could use more side bolstering in supporting the body, with a sensation of sitting on but not in them. However the look and trim is high in quality for a mixed material pew.The headrests are embossed with the orange stitched N-Trek Warrior logo that complements the same colour stitching in the floor mats, the rear vision mirror has a simple N/S/E/W style compass, and the upper centre console has a small storage locker with a 12V socket. Down near the gear selector is a solitary USB port. There is no port for the rear seat passengers but there are a pair of vents. On The Road It’s: Surprisingly…heavy. In our drive it felt leaden, weighed down, lacklustre even. Surprising given the amount of torque available as acceleration was ok without being outstanding, both from a standing start and in rolling acceleration. Steering was rubbery in feel on centre but tightened up to be communicative, partly due to the thick off-road tyres, but there is effort needed at low speeds. Body movement in comparison demonstrated the work put in, with a taut ride on tarmac, that “just right” amount of suspension give, even allowing for sidewall flex. The brakes are spot on, in comparison, with an intuitive travel. The auto itself is a solid worker, putting in a performance that was competent if unspectacular.Off-road, it’s a different beast and performed admirably. There is a rear diff lock, a rotary dial for 4WD high and low range, and the fettled suspension has plenty of articulation. The Cooper tyres display why they’re the chosen brand for getting dirty grip, clambering over and through the various surfaces on our test track without a niggle. It’s this environment where the engine’s torque range really works, and the increased ride height (40mm over standard) provided secure and safe driving. Nissan’s paperwork says the N-Trek Warrior’s suspension team spent several months testing various combinations of springs, dampers, and bump stops, and off-road it shows. What About Safety?: Reverse camera is standard and in high definition on the touchscreen. Seven airbags, including driver’s kneebag, are standard, however Nissan’s spec sheet don’t list AEB, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and the like.What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres plus five years roadside assist. Capped price servicing is also available and pricing is model dependent.

At The End Of the Drive. It was with mixed feelings that the Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior was handed back to the office. It’s undoubtedly good as an off-roader, but for our tastes it was not entirely suitable for every day tarmac use. And that’s the perplexing part given the background it’s come from and the partnership formed to build it. It leaves the N-Trek Warrior in a peculiar place, and that’s where expectations weren’t met yet should have been.

Info on the 2020 Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior can be found here.