As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Australia’s Best New Car News, Reviews and Buying Advice

Makes and Models

Ferrari 2024 Le Mans: Two in a Row

That’s back-to-back for Ferrari at Lemans, having won last year and backing it up again just over the past weekend for 2024.  If you look back over the list of winners at Le Mans, there have been numerous times that car marques have won twice in a row, even four or five times in a row, sometimes with the same driver.  Only 14 seconds behind the Ferrari, Toyota was nipping at its heels the whole day, er… and night.  It’s great to have a red car with the prancing horse back on top, Toyota having won 5 consecutive years running from 2018–2022.

So what makes the Ferrari 499P or Toyota GR010 Hybrid race car so fast?  Great aerodynamics, strong reliability, excellent brakes, and epic performance.  The Ferrari 499P uses a mid-to-rear internal combustion engine (ICE), as well as a front-mounted electric motor.  These two powerplants combine to develop a maximum output of 500 kW to comply with the Le Mans race regulations of 29 Oct 2022.  The front-mounted electric motor, rated at 200 kW, draws its necessary electric power from a Formula 1-derived 900 V battery that recharges during deceleration and braking.  It provides power at speeds over 190 km/h.  The hybrid power is linked and fed though to a seven-speed sequential transmission.  The car was clocked just shy of 350 km/h, and the 0–100 km/h time takes about as much time as it does to complete this sentence! 

Le Mans 2024 was the 92nd 24-Hour Le Mans endurance race, and the fourth round of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship.  The race began on 15th June 2024 and ended 16th June 2024 at the Circuit de la Sarthe track in Le Mans, France, which, in its present configuration, is 13.626 km long, making it one of the longest circuits in the world.  What makes this such an exciting event is that 85% of the lap time is spent on full throttle.  This, of course, puts immense pressure on the engine and the drivetrain’s components, and only cars that can withstand this torrid test of reliability can make it through the race and perhaps even win.  Brakes and suspension components also take a lot of abuse, as the race cars must slow from well over 300 km/h to around 100 km/h as quickly and as efficiently as possible to make it round the sharp corner at the village of Mulsanne.

Constant overnight rain created long periods where drivers were forced to drive with caution in the difficult conditions, thus having to limit their top speed at times.  Ferrari were able to overcome the wet conditions at Le Mans 2024 to beat Toyota and win the 24-hour race, yet it was another Ferrari 499P that took out third place as well.  It was as much a shout-out to the incredible skill of the drivers as it was to the marque.  Porsche took out fourth position, coming just over a second behind Ferrari’s number 51 car, while Toyota’s number eight car finished an impressive fifth. 

Introducing The Jetour

The Jetour T2 – ready to roll over here.

I’ve always loved the exterior of the Land Rover Defender, whether old or new.  Its boxy shape and rugged appearance are perfectly crafted for off-roading.  The short front and rear overhangs are just perfect for clearing steep entry and exit points on a slope.  Of course, there is also the legendary Defender’s 4WD powertrain that is the rock of what makes this an immensely capable 4×4 off-road machine.  However, there is another vehicle coming to Australia with that same chunky, boxy shape and talented off-road skills. This new machine comes to us from China and will be available to buy down under in 2025.  Let’s take a closer look, and by this, I mean you’ll need to look really closely to make sure it is a Jetour and not a Defender.  A big hint is to read the brand name that runs across the front of the bonnet!

It is said that we all have a double of ourselves somewhere in the world (I know I do).  This double basically looks like us.  Land Rover Defender’s double or doppelganger (German for “double walker”) would surely have to be the new Jetour.  The Jetour is a vehicle that was designed to be a luxury crossover brand in 2018 and is the creation born from the Chery Holding Group, often known simply as Chery.  Chery is an automotive group currently based in the eastern Chinese city of Wuhu.  Born in 1997, Chery has grown and developed in a diversified manner with automobiles as its primary business.  Over time, Chery have created automobiles, gotten involved in automotive parts, finance, property and modern services.  Chery now has over 300 member-enterprises; these include Chery Automobile, Chery Commercial Vehicle, Chery Jaguar Land Rover, Chery Finance and Chery Technology. 

The Jetour T2 large off-roader does look really good in the metal, with its square boxy body shape, bold wheel arches and big rubber, high ground clearance, a swinging tailgate with a spare tyre on the outside, big solid bumpers, and an interior that won’t mind getting dirty from an adventure Outback.

Similar again to how Land Rover has designed its latest Defender, the 2024 Jetour T2 is built around a monocoque body, which is a design that offers loads of structural rigidity and stiffness for tackling the rigours of serious off-roading.  The monocoque body is the perfect solid foundation for the Jetour T2 4×4’s advanced all-independent chassis.  An independent suspension means that all four wheels can drop and ride over large obstacles individually and independently of what the other three wheels are doing at the same time.  This enhances the ability to obtain maximum traction at each wheel, perfect for progressing through tricky and slippery terrain. 

The new Jetour will come with the option of either a 1.5-litre or a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine to power the 4×4, and the engine’s power is sent through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission for ensuring optimum engine torque is harnessed at all times.  Having a ground clearance rated at 220 mm, and with the engine’s drive sent to all four wheels via the full-time 4×4 system, this is an exciting new off-road SUV for the Adventurer needing a new vehicle to get them to a remote location. 

We’re looking forward to it, and be sure that we’ll review it fully when it makes it over here.

Some New American Muscle For 2024

This is an older model of Jeep, but you get the general idea.

Like American made stuff?  You’ll probably like Harleys and a pancake breakfast, follow the NBA, and celebrate Independence Day.  This might be a stretched and oversimplified generalisation, but I can see why many people still appreciate an American-made automobile.  They are usually large, powerful, and comfortable vehicles to travel in.

Now, there are some current car sale outlets in Australia that specialise in importing and selling a wide range of imported cars from the USA, old and new.  The American Car Company and Dazmac are probably the most recognised businesses.  The American Car Company’s mainstays of fresh new imports are the latest GMC Sierra (a tough light truck/ute) range, Ford F-150 (another tough light truck/ute), Toyota’s Tundra (yet another tough light truck/ute), and the sensational Dodge Hellcat performance muscle cars.

However, there are also some other mainstream American models you can buy that are easily bought and are available for buyers on the lookout for a brand-new American machine.  Chevrolet, Ford, Jeep, RAM Trucks, and Tesla should all ring a bell, and these American icons can be found on numerous showroom floors throughout Australia.  Private Fleet’s team members are happy to engage in getting you the right American car for the right price.

Chevrolet

Chevrolet has a superb version of their own tough light truck/ute in the form of the big Chevrolet Silverado HT.  This is a big, powerful, and tough truck that has space to burn in the cabin and remains one of the most comfortable and stylish models of its type in its class, and it carries all the modern technology and safety you’ll need for serious work and play. 

Ford

Ford F-150

Like the Chevrolet Silverado, Ford’s F-150 is a big, classy tough light truck/ute that comes in two variants.  Its strong underpinnings and rugged powertrain make this a perfect workhorse and prime business statement.

A true American legend is the Ford Mustang.  Now onto the seventh-generation model, the Mustang is Ford’s longest standing model name, with the very first Mustang starting off its production a long way back in 1964.  Currently, in 2024, you can buy yourself a sensational wind in the hair experience with a brand-new Ford Mustang Convertible GT.  This performance car brand also offers the Ford Mustang as three variants of the 2024 Ford Mustang Coupe.

Jeep

A big global American player and a longstanding brand, Jeep still champions a range of comfortable, spacious SUVs and utes, all of them delivering formidable off-road capability when the occasion demands itself. 

Jeep’s flagship model, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, is a spacious, powerful, luxurious 4×4 SUV that can happily spend time in a city environment.  Shake off the shackles of the urban jungle and head out to the wild blue yonder, and this vehicle provides some of the most serious off-roading ability you can find. 

Just look at the Jeep Wrangler, and all three of the current models will trumpet “I’m a serious off-road, 4×4 machine!” A Wrangler is a load of fun, too!

Jeep Compass is another great SUV from Jeep with all the goodies, 4×4 ability, and a great size for the family.

The Jeep Gladiator is a model perfect for the builder and tradie who needs to get a long way off the beaten track to commence work.  It’s also fun for recreational use and a good tow machine.

RAM

RAM Trucks are the other American-made tough light truck/ute brand you can look to for your seriously good King of the Road experience.  The RAM 1500, RAM 2500, and RAM 3500 models are all available. 

  • RAM 1500.  There are six versions you can buy in Oz.  In America, the 1500 is considered to be the “light duty” version, but it still delivers up to 295 kW of power and 558 Nm of torque, plus up to 5783 kg of towing capacity and a 953 kg maximum payload.
  • RAM 2500.  There are two versions of the RAM 2500 available here in Australia.  The RAM 2500 harnesses up to 306 kW of power and 582 Nm of torque.  The mighty 6.7-litre Cummins turbodiesel engine gives drivers an 8972 kg tow rating.
  • RAM 3500. The RAM 3500 Laramie is the top of the range.  Offering 306 kW of power and 582 Nm of torque, with this version it has been built to cope with a jaw-dropping tow capacity of almost 16 tonnes (16,000 kg).  Being a Laramie model, it also gets all the luxury and comfort features.

Tesla

Here is the battery electric vehicle (BEV) with American roots.  You are sure to have heard about Tesla, so, if you are wanting to buy a new Tesla in 2024, there are three models of the Tesla Model 3 Sedan and three models of the Tesla Model Y SUV available.

Kei Cars: The Little Cars That Can

In the Western world, cars seem to have been getting bigger.  For example, my early 2000 Volvo S70, a generous sedan when it came out, is shorter than the more modern “little” hatchbacks in the supermarket car park beside it.  However, this isn’t the case around the world.  In Japan, congestion is a problem in busy cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto, so one of the solutions was to introduce what are known as kei cars, also known as compact cars. Some people call these K-cars, as this is approximately the way the word “kei” is pronounced.

The concept of kei cars isn’t new; in fact, the Japanese government introduced the general idea and legislation related to these vehicles in the late 1940s as part of the post-WWII recovery efforts.  Back then, it was more about encouraging car ownership and stimulating the local automotive industry (and you can see for yourself how well that worked, given the number of Japanese makes on Australia’s roads).  Today, however, it’s more about congestion and fuel consumption.

What is a kei car?  As the Japanese name suggests (in full, it’s kei-jidōsha), it’s a small car.  Specifically, it’s one that has restrictions on its size, both in terms of its dimensions and its engine displacement.  To qualify as a kei car, an automobile has to be no taller than 2 metres, no wider than 1.45 metres and no longer than 3.4 metres.  In terms of engine displacement, the maximum allowed is 660 cc. There’s no official limit on engine power, but it’s very unusual for a factory kei car to have more than 47 kW.  Not that tuning and tweaking to get a bit more power is out of the question for those interested… Most of them are speed-limited to 140 km/h, which makes sense, given that these are designed for crowded city streets, not open road rural running.  The width means that they don’t handle quite as well at high speeds, so that’s another reason why their top speed isn’t as high as what you’d find with the average Toyota Corolla.

Needless to say, electric kei cars are out there as well.

To encourage the adoption of kei cars, the Japanese government has a few incentives set up.  If a car qualifies to have the distinctive yellow kei plates, it’s exempt from the need to buy parking space (apparently, to buy a car in Japan, you first have to buy street space to park it).  Various on-road taxes are reduced with kei cars, as these taxes are based on things such as the engine displacement and the weight. 

Now, we all know that where there are large numbers of people, there are houses to fix and goods to be transported, which require vans and trucks.  Your typical kei car has the sort of cargo space that would suit a minimalist (Marie Kondo would love these, if she doesn’t already).  However, kei vans and kei trucks are a thing – although we’d call latter kei utes, as they’re “pickup truck” rather than a miniature version of a big old Scania.  The kei vans or microvans are allowed to be taller than the kei cars, which allows the to carry more of a load and has earned them the nickname of “miàn bāo chē” (meaning “bread loaf cars” in nearby China. The kei trucks have the same basic wheelbase but a cab-chassis layout.

Because of their low fuel consumption, suitability for urban settings, kei cars and their relatives are growing in popularity in other parts of the world outside Japan.  Their general cuteness relates to another Japanese concept, namely the kawaii (cute) aesthetic.  Although many customers in Australia are leery about very small cars, given that physics says that they’re not going to come off well in a collision with an SUV, some popular kei marks are found in the Aussie market. Do any of these sound familiar?

These are all “regular” cars that meet the criteria for kei cars that you can find down at your local dealer (which is why we have them in our reviews page).  Plenty of people also arrange for private imports of popular kei cars such as various Daihatsu models, the stylish Honda Beat coupe convertible, the Suzuki Every van, the Toyota Copen sports car and the Subaru Sambar, just to name a few. There’s even a kei version of the Mitsubishi Pajero, the Pajero Mini.