As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Makes and Models

MINI Countryman Rolls Out For Oz.

MINI Australia has introduced the new Countryman to the Australian market in the first week of October 2020, with pricing starting from $44,500 (plus ORC) for the Cooper Countryman. There has been changes to the interior and exterior, upgrades mechanically, and improvements in the technological bases. Four variants will be available from the launch, with Cooper S Countryman, Hybrid Countryman, and JCW Countryman with the addition of a Pure version.Some models will have an all-wheel-drive system. The Hybrid Countryman has an increased range on battery power, with between 55km to 61km expected. This is thanks to a larger 9.6kWh battery being supplied. One exterior change is to the signature grille, with a redesign for the hexagonal look forming a centrepiece for redesigned front and rear bumpers. LEDs now form the standard lighting package, especially at the front (fog lights) and rear that highlights the Union Jack logo. These will sit behind a cargo area offering up to 1,275L of space.

A key interior change is the addition of purely digital displays for the driver at 5.5 inches. The MINI Connect service has extra functionality, and AppleCarPlay will be available via the 8.8 inch touchscreens.

Brett Wauby, MINI Australia and New Zealand General Manager said: “The arrival of the new MINI Countryman will bolster the strong momentum we’ve enjoyed in Australia thus far in 2020. We anticipate strong interest in the new Countryman, a clear favourite in the MINI range, and look forward to delivering signature British charm, go-kart thrills and value-added practicality for our MINI fans.”The Cooper Countryman starts the range, as mentioned, from $44,500 manufacturers list price. Power will be supplied from a 3 cylinder petrol engine providing 100kW and 220Nm for a 9.7 second 0-100 time. Transmission is a seven speed DCT. Economy (combined) is 6.3L/100km. 17 inch alloy wheels will be standard as will an auto tailgate. Leatherette Sports seats will support the driver and front passenger. They’ll have access to wireless smartphone charging, Apple CarPlay, and be safe with City Crash Mitigation with Pedestrian Detection plus Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop/Start. Dynamic Traction Control with Electronic Differential Lock Control and Park distance control with rear camera and reversing assistant will also be standard.

Cooper S Countryman starts from $52,990. A 4-cylinder petrol engine delivers 141kW & 280Nm for a 7.5s 0-100 time whilst providing economy of 6.7l/100 km via a 7-speed Steptronic sport dual-clutch transmission. There will be three MINI Driving Modes (Sport, Mid, Green). The exterior highlights will see a Piano Black Line Exterior (headlights surround, bezels around rear lights, front grille frame, door handles) with the radiator grille in black surround and featuring a black honeycomb insert and S designation.

18-inch light-alloy wheels with run-flat tyres will be here. Inside there is a John Cooper Works steering wheel, Leather Cross Punch Sports seats for driver and front passenger in Carbon Black that will match the piano black surfacing for the trim. An extra safety element is the Forward Collision Warning with visual and audio warning signal, plus braking pre-conditioning.Hybrid Countryman starts from $60,990. It’s the same 3 cylinder petrol plus a 65kW/165Nm electric motor and six speed auto. 0-100 is 6.8s and economy is 2.4l/100 km. There is an extra drive mode (Green+) and the All4 intelligent all-wheel drive system. The Piano Black exterior package is fitted and complements the chrome side scuttles. The 18 inch alloys and run-flats are standard as are the blackouts for the grille. The interior has the John Cooper Works steering wheel, Carbon Black Leather Cross Punch Sports seats for driver and front passenger, Piano Black interior surfaces and the Forward Collision Warning with visual and audio warning signal, plus braking pre-conditioning.

The JCW Countryman Pure kicks off from $61,915. The 4 cylinder petrol breathes via a pair of centrally mounted tailpipes and punches out 225kW and 450Nm for a 5.1s sprint time. Economy is 7.6l/100 km. The transmission is an 8 speed Steptronic sport automatic paddle shifts and launch control. The MINI Driving Modes are Sport, Mid, Green and grip is via the All4 intelligent all-wheel drive system. 18 inch alloys and run-flat tyres ride with a Sport tuned suspension. Brakes are fixed 4 piston front calipers. The grille has a red insert whilst the rear sit flat courtesy of a JCW spoiler.

Countryman’s additional specification over JCW Pure has a starting price from $67,818 and has adaptive suspension, 19-inch light-alloy wheels with run-flats. with the interior getting a HUD and sounds via a Harman Kardon HiFi Sound System with 12 speakers and eight channel digital amplifier.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The long awaited (for Australia) bigger Jeep. The Gladiator has been touted as a Wrangler with a tray and that’s about as good a description as it gets. It’s a two model range, being the Overland and Rubicon, with a limited run Launch Edition. We drive the Rubicon.How Much Does It Cost?: An information sheet kindly supplied by Jeep Australia has the vehicle we were supplied as $88,405. There is a starting price of $76,450, with the exterior clad in “Gator” for a price of $1,035. Options fitted were a steel front bumper at $1,635, the blacked out wheels at $975, a three piece hard top in body colour at $1,950, a Rubicon luxury package at $2,535, and something called the Lifestyle Adventure Group at $3,835.

Under The Bonnet Is: Jeep’s 3.6L petrol fed V6. And only that motor. That’s right, no diesel. The auto is an eight speed and geared to see Aussie freeways speeds turning the drive-train over at just 2,000rpm. Peak power is 209kW at 6,200rpm, and peak torque is a typical petrol high of 347Nm at 4,100rpm. Economy is not a strong part of the equation with none of the three figures, urban/highway/combined being under 10.0L/100km. Our average around the ‘burbs was 13.5L/100km. The official figure is 15.4L/100km for the urban component, the highway at 10.6L/100km, bringing the combined to 12.4L/100km. Tank capacity is 83.0L.

The dry weight of the Gladiator is 2,215kg and a payload of 620kg takes kerb weight to 2,835kg. 2,721kg is the maximum braked towing capacity. There is a four mode transfer case for two- and four-wheel drive including low range.On The Outside It’s: A Wrangler with a tray. Big and bold Jeep front end, four doors, and the rear section is now a tray of 1,531mm in length and 1,442mm in width. Tray height is 861mm and it looks like it could be a bit higher. Tray capacity is rated as 1,000L.

Lights front and rear are LED powered. The rear bumper is steel as standard, and the optionable steel front looks as if it is fitted to allow installation of a winch. Both ends have bright red painted towhooks. The removable roof sections are detached by twisting pivot handles and lifting up and out. They’re a bit weighty and a bit tricky to reinstall.

The tray has a taut canvas-style tonneau There are a pair of pull-straps to unlatch a pair of clamps which allows the tonneau to be rolled forward. The tailgate has a soft-roll pair of hinges which helps lower the gate down gently.Wheels are 17 inch blacked painted and machined alloys. Rubber is 255/70 BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain T/As. Brakes are big 350mm front and 330mm rear. Fox-branded shockers are visible underneath and hold the Dana front and rear axles with locking diffs.

Front and rear overhangs on the 5,591mm long Gladiator allow for a 40.7 degree approach angle, a 25.1 degree departure, and the track & tyres provide 18.4 degrees of breakover. Wheelbase is a whopping 3.488mm.

On The Inside It’s: Comfortable, reasonably luxurious, and has a stand-out dash colour. It’s a hot red and matches the stitching in the Rubicon-embossed leather seats. The floor has bespoke rubber mats and they strongly point towards the Jeep’s legendary off-road ability. It’s a topographic map look and really sets off the cabin. Notable is the relatively short depth of the dash’s upper section to the base of the windscreen. Also notable is the lack of a footrest for the left foot, instead being cramped by the drivetrain tunnel.There are a couple of cool surprises in this vehicle. One is the hidden, portable, (optionable) bluetooth speaker that’s tucked away behind the driver’s side rear seat. the other is the storage lockers found underneath the same rear seats, accessed by flipping the squabs upwards and opening the plastic locker cover.In the dash itself is a very clean layout for operating the aircon, power windows, a tab for showing which USB ports (including USB-C) are in operation, and the 8.4 inch touchscreen that controls most of the functions such as climate control, audio, and satnav. In the lower left section is the button to lock the differentials and disengage the sway bars when getting serious in the off-road environment.On The Road It’s: Something that shouldn’t be as much fun as it is on tarmac. Admittedly some of that fun is tempered by the constant roar from the big rubber and the (necessary) looseness in the steering. It’s loose to deal with the off-road ability it has, and that is plentiful.

The tarmac steering is somewhat wayward and does require constant adjustment to keep the big machine in between the white lines. The high sidewall rubber and Fox-sprung suspension move the Gladiator around quite a bit, and having no load in the tray has the rear wallowing noticeably.

On the tarmac drive acceleration is adequate without being outstanding. There’s a faint snarl from the 3.6L V6 as it spins up. The transmission is a pearler, being slick and only juddery when cold. There are no paddle shifts, there is manual shifting via the super short throw gear selector.

Braking is superb and required given the mass. The pedal feel and feedback is spot on, with that sort of intuitive sense of knowing where the pads are on the discs as the foot presses and releases the pedal.It’s off-road, naturally, where the Gladiator’s heritage shines. Looking through the windscreen and seeing the Jeep logo in the outline of the window then peering further to the various rocky or muddy or puddled terrains brings it all together.

We drove the Gladiator on our four wheel drive test track, also known as a major 4WD enthusiasts track and a fire trail. This particular track is ideal to test off-road capable vehicles due to the varying surfaces and changes in topography.The Gladiator has a choice of 2WD, 4WD auto, and 4WD low range. The lever to engage is extremely stiff and requires some real oomph to move and engage low range. The buttons for disengaging the stabiliser bars then offer up a menu screen for off-road information.

When the low range is locked in, and the bars are ready, the Gladiator was given its druthers and in no way did it disappoint. It caught the eye of many on its tarmac travel time and there were some young drivers that stopped and frankly ogled the Gladiator as it worked its way through and over the changing surfaces. Suffice to say they were impressed as were we as it dispatched its challengers without a second thought.Crawling up, down, and at angles guaranteed to raise the heartbeat, the Gladiator’s Jeep heritage proved to be utterly suitable in proving just how good an off-roader this bigger than a Wrangler machine is. Peace of mind underneath comes from a standard skid-plate covering the transmission and fuel tank.

What About Safety?: It’s good. Four airbags come as standard and this is mainly due to the removable panels for the roof not being suitable to fit curtain ‘bags. Blind Spot Monitor is standard as is Adaptive Cruise Control, Engine Stop/Start, and Full Speed Forward Collision Warning Plus. Park Assist Front and Rear is also standard along with the vital Tyre Pressure Monitoring service.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years unlimited kilometres along with five years capped price servicing along with roadside assist for life.

At The End Of The Drive. Jeep’s Gladiator has come into a marketplace that is quite well populated with four wheel drive capable, four door body styled, tray-back utes. Immediately it’s “up against it” on price, and it’d be also fair to say, for some the safety factor would count against it.

It doesn’t handle as well on tarmac as the competition and having only a thirsty petrol-fed V6 is also a negative.

Where it wins is crucial; everywhere it was driven heads would swivel. Other drivers from the same brand would smile and give a thumbs up. The interest level from outside the plush cabin was obviously high. Then there is that undoubted off-road ability, and proven on our drive. It really is a superb off-roader but in honesty what else would one expect?Therein lies the rub. To fully exploit what the Gladiator can do would require constant off-road usage, not tarmac driving. Simply put, it’s good on the black stuff but will be constantly outclassed by others of the same type. And that may not be enough to overcome the lack of time driven where it belongs.Towing and payload is another cross. Factor in the fuel usage in normal driving and count on that increasing when towing and/or loaded, and again the Gladiator falls short. In a way, it’s like winning the rights to having your own proper cinema, and using it perhaps once a month. It’s great to have, but…..Talk to your Jeep dealer for a test drive.

Peugeot Sport Engineering: 508 Goes Hybrid.

Peugeot is undergoing a quiet evolution. Their stunning 508 sedan/coupe and wagon has been given the hybrid tick and along with the engine change comes a name change. Peugeot Sport Engineered is the monicker to be given to the range.The drivetrain that will be slotted into the Peugeot 508 Sport Engineered is a 147kW/300Nm 1.6L turbo four and a pair of electric motors. There is 81kW for the front, 83kW for the rear, making the vehicle a proper all wheel drive and being driven by 265kW and 520 Nm. Packaging sees the cargo space for both body styles unchanged. The transmission is an eight speed auto. Sink the slipper and 100kph comes up in 5.2 seconds, and the top speed is an electronically limited 250kph. Need some overtaking ability? 80kph to 120kph is seen in just three seconds.

The plug-in hybrid’s system sees an 11.5kWh battery fitted and using a standard 240V house socket should be charged in around seven hours. Factor in a 32A wallbox and that drops down to under two hours, or install a 16A plug system and that’s a good average of around 4 hours or less.Utilising the urge comes down to choosing from one of five drive modes. Sport takes a fully charged battery, and adjusts the dampers, engine, and transmission into the most energetic drive modes. Electric is a pure battery drive and offers a range of just over 40 kilometres, whilst disabling the 1.6-T at velocities of up to 140kph. Comfort is what the name suggests, with a cushy, plush ride, Hybrid uses both battery and petrol for an optimal drive, with the all-wheel drive mode more for those slipperier roads. Ride is helped by those adaptive dampers, a track change of 24mm front and 12mm rear, with 380mm font discs being slowed by four piston pads. 20 inch alloys hold on to Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber.

Defining the look of the 508 Sport Engineered is an upgraded interior featuring Peugeot’s ubiquitous flat-bottomed tiller, the beautiful i-cockpit with 12.3 inch LCD screen, a premium audio setup from Focal, and a 10.0 inch main touchscreen. Leather “comfort-fit” seats with a 3D looking mesh cosset the passengers and the driver keep an eye on info via a HUD. Safety will include AEB, Lane Departure Warning, and night vision cameras.There is a bespoke grille, a redesigned front bumper with new air scoops in the lower corners, blackened exhaust tips, a rear diffuser and winglets front and rear. Selenium Grey, Pearl White, and Perla Nera Black will be the colours available.

Peugeot Australia has not yet confirmed availability for Australia but a spokesman said local availability is being looked at.

Sonata N-Line Unveiled, Mazda Locks Down BT-50 Pricing.

Proving that sedans are still available and there for those that don’t want or need an SUV, Hyundai Motor Company recently revealed the racy design of its highly anticipated 2021 Sonata N Line. It’s a good looking machine and in N-Line specification it ups the appearance ante.Hyundai have a term for their design identity: Sensuous Sportiness. N-Line looks such as the signature grille and bold front fascia, three air intakes and N Line badging, N-Line side skirts, and 19 inch alloys define the N-Line itself. A bespoke N-Line rear diffuser is fitted that houses a pair of exhaust tips underneath a blacked-out bumper.

SangYup Lee, Head of the Hyundai Global Design Centre, said: “The 2021 Sonata N Line will attract more customers to both the rock solid Sonata lineup and our increasingly popular N Line sub-brand. Sonata N Line will appeal to customers who desire sporty styling in a sedan package.”The new Sonata N Line expands Hyundai’s midsize sedan lineup following the launch of Sonata in 2019. N Line provides an attractive entry point to N Brand and gives the new Sonata nameplate a high-performance look, broadening its appeal.Mazda, meanwhile, have provided confirmation of Australian pricing for the recently released and updated BT-50. Not sporting the Mazda corporate look, the BT-50 starts at $44,090 plus On Road Costs (ORC) for the 4×2 XT dual-cab chassis. All versions are a dual-cab design, with the XTR and GT the other two trim models. There are combinations of manual and auto, with the 4×2 available in the XT as mentioned plus the dual-cab pickup for the XT and XTR. These price at $45,490 and $49,470.The 4×4 models start with the BT-50 XT dual-cab chassis manual. $49,360 plus ORC is the starting rate before moving to the auto version at $51,860 plus ORC. From here it’s pickups with the XT manual and auto from $50,760 and $53,260. The XTR starts from $54,710 and $57,210 before topping out with the GT at $56,990 and $59,990 and again all with ORC to be added.

Brand-New Mazda BT-50 customers benefit from a comprehensive five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty plus complimentary roadside assist for the warranty’s duration whilst servicing is at 12 months or 15,000 kilometres.

The new BT-50 has a 450Nm/140kW turbo-diesel four of 3.0L capacity, with the torque on tap from 1,600rpm to 2,600rpm. Consumption is rated as 7.7L/100km (combined) for the six speed auto 4×2 dual-cab pickups and 4×4 manuals. 4×4 Dual Cab Pickup and 4X2 Dual Cab Chassis models with the six speed autos will see slightly more consumption at 8.0L/100km.

Safety and basic equipment are of a high standard in the XT, with 17 inch alloys, LED headlights, Cruise and Adaptive Cruise for the manual and auto versions, DAB with Android and Apple apps, and a rear seat USB. Safety has Autonomous Emergency Braking, Emergency Lane Keeping – Overtaking, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Departure Prevention, as standard. XTR has 18 inch alloys, self leveling LEDs, leather seats and gearknob, and satnav via the 9.0 inch touchscreen. GT has 19 inch alloys, heated wing mirrors, heated front seats, and a powered driver’s seat. Front parking sensors and an engine remote start feature add to the value. All are rated as 3.5 tonnes towing and over 1,000kg payload.

 

2020 MG HS Essence: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: The top of the range Essence from the mid-sized HS range. There are three trim levels starting with Vibe before moving to Excite. The HS is currently the biggest vehicle available from MG, with the smaller ZS (which includes an EV) and the petite MG3 filling out the range.

What Does It Cost?: In 2020 spec the range starts from $30,990 for the Vibe, $34,990 for the Excite, and $38,990 for the Essence. As of September 2020 there was a special edition Essence Anfield available at $40,690. Metallic paint is a $700 option.

Under The Bonnet Is: A turbocharged 1.5L four banger powering the front wheels via a seven speed dual-clutch transmission. Peak power of 119kW comes in at 5,600rpm, however peak toque of 250Nm arrives at a high 4,400rpm. That poses some drive problems. Economy isn’t horrible but could be better from the 55L tank. We finished on 8.6L/100km, with MG’s figures quoting 7.3L/100km for the combined and a rather high 9.2L/100km for the urban. Get out onto the highway and that drops, says MG, to 6.2L/100km.On The Outside It’s: Quite a looker with flowing lines, a curvaceous body, and Euro style blinkers. It’s a bluff nose yet not so that it’s unappealing. Overall it’s an appealing and attractive package. Wheels and tyres are appropriately sized at 235/50/18s with Michelin supplying the grippy Premacy 3ST rubber.

MG gave the HS a makeover earlier this year. Its given the whole vehicle a more 8ntegratwd appearance and one that somehow ties it in with its competitors. For example, front bumper mounted driving lights are fitted and more noticeable, the bluntness of the front end has been lessened, and those aforementioned curves really do bring visual goodness.On The Inside It’s: Very well specced in Essence trim. Both front seats are power operated, a true rarity. There is heating but no ventilation however for them. The driver’s display is a clever mix of analogue and LCD screen, with all four main information sources, being fuel, speed, rev counter, and temperature looking as if two integrated dials thanks to the smart design.

Mood lighting greets the passengers and this can be changed via the 10.1 inch touchscreen for a choice of 64 hues. The lights themselves appear in a strip across the dash and in the door handle recesses.The centre console houses a sliding vent switch that can provide, or not, cooling air for a small drink container. The gear selector is ergonomically placed however it’s a long travel from Park to Drive, a small but noticeable issue not found in most cars.

The touchscreen defaults to Audio, Navigation, and Climate Control sectors. There seems to be a trend against DAB as the Essence, the top of the line, doesn’t have it. That’s a shame as the overall sound presentation is very good.A niggle is the screen showing the current air-conditioning status in its own small sector at the top of screen. Touching this elicits zero response, with a push of the Home button, one of a half dozen or so located underneath and of a chromed hard plastic, required to show the default screens then select the climate control. However, a step or two can be saved as there are two temperature tabs which bypass the need for a Home button press, but tapping the screen’s own separate sector would be quicker.

Fit, finish, and the actual look are of an overall high standard with pleasing lines and soft touch materials. for convenience there are a pair of USBs for the rear seats, and a pair plus a 12V socket up front under a sliding cover.For the cargo area, access is via a powered tailgate that reveals a lip level floor. This is, unfortunately, at a fair height meaning a little more effort is required to load a weekly shop. Total capacity starts at 463L and tops out at 1,287L.

On The Road It’s: Where the MG HS Essence loses its lustre. Dual clutch transmissions work best with engines that have a broad torque spread. 250Nm from a 1.5L engine isn’t unreasonable but arriving at a high rev point, coupled with a large turbo, had the HS Essence confounded and out of sorts more often than not.

There’s the typical gap between Reverse and Drive as the cogs audibly move, and coming to a Stop sign has the gap between stopping and re-engaging Drive blow out to a sizeable and at times unsafe timespan. Hit the accelerator hard and then lift, and the transmission doesn’t change gear in response. It hangs on to the first or second ratio, and then when using the accelerator again, the transmission lost its nerve and simply didn’t know which ratio to look for.

The package is then at its best at highway and freely speeds. Noise insulation is high, with only the tyres noticeable in the audio sense. Overtaking acceleration isn’t fantastic and again its that ramp up to 4,400rpm for peak torque that intrudes. Having said that, it is a smooth and linear progression, its just not a rapid one. A dry weight of around 1,520kg also tips its hat to the cause.The brakes are the same; there’s bite but not quite as much as expected, with a need to press the pedal earlier than in other cars. That’s not to say they don’t work, there isn’t the sense of as much retardation for the same amount of pressure.

The steering, in a way, can also be held up to the same level. It’s very well weighted, there is the appropriate amount of heft and response yet there were times the front tyres gave the impression of scrubbing, or tucking under the wheels, in some conditions.

Freeway ride quality is great, but slow speed ride was 180 degrees from the expectation. Over smaller road bumps such as shopping centre speed restrictions, there was too much stiffness, and in the polar opposite, too much softness and wallowing when a more taut setup would have been expected.An interesting addition is the Super Sport button, a bright red look-at-me button located in the inner five o-clock part of the steering wheel.

What About Safety?: MG fits the HS Essence with a good safety package including one that more or less failed. There is Lane Keep Assist and a Lane Centre function. Day two and the HS flashed up on the dash a warning that it had failed. Yet, manual activation had the steering wheel vibrating as it should but the centreing facility was AWOL. Extra safet in the Essence is a 360 degree camera that activates when the brakes come into play and speed drops to around 20kph. The screen then shows two different views and these can be changed, whilst stopped, via the screen.Adaptive Cruise Control is standard across the range, as is Forward Collision Warning and AEB. Airbags number six and should the Essence get involved in a scrape, there is auto door unlock. Intelligent Headlamp Control reads the lights at night and will auto high beam if required.

What About Warranty And Service?: It’s good. Seven years warranty, with unlimited kilometres. That’s a rarity still in the marketplace. The MG website doesn’t indicate the service interval or costs think yearly or 10,000 kilometres. Capped price servicing doesn’t appear, yet, to be the sweetener.

At The End Of The Drive. In a way, the MG HS Essence is somewhat the antithesis of the porridge for Goldilocks. It’s not “just right”. The good news is that it’s not far from it. It’s not badly priced, for starters. It’s certainly not unattractive. It’s a good looker inside, and is well featured to a point. But to use that terribly well worn phrase: “at the end of the day”, it’s a car that gets driven and that’s the weak point. The suspension is arse about, and the way the driveline works wasn’t, for us, something we could live with.

Yet, for all that, the driveline isn’t far from being where it needs to be, and that’s good news for the brand. More on the HS range can be found here.

2020 Nissan X-Trail Ti AWD: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Nissan’s competent mid-sized entry, the X-Trail, into a very crowded SUV sector. It’s a six model range, with ST, ST-L, TS, N-Sport, Ti, and TL…which makes for a slightly confusing way of naming your product from bottom to top. We drive the second from the top Ti.
How Much Does It Cost?: As of mid September 2020 Nissan lists the ST as $28,990, the ST-L from $28,490, and the TS from $40,357. N-Sport starts from $42,876, Ti from $44,490 before topping out at $52,456 for the TL. These prices are drive-away. Premium paints are a $695 option.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.5L petrol engine for the Ti and TL. Otherwise, for models below, it’s a 2.0L petrol for the manual 2WD ST & TS or 2.0L diesel for all models bar ST-L. Power for the petrol 2.5L is 126kW and maximum torque is 226Nm and at 4,400rpm. Nissan quotes economy as 8.3L per 100 kilometres on a combined cycle. Fuel tank size is a standard 60L.
On the Outside It’s: A distinctively styled Nissan family SUV. Grab a picture of both the Qashqai and Pathfinder, enlarge and shrink to the same size as that of a X-Trail, and you’d be genuinely hard pressed at first glance to tell the difference. There’s that signature V grille and LED driving light design up front, the sine wave line from bow to stern, the nicely balanced proportions of bonnet to body, and the arrow-head line for the leading edge of the rear lights. Ti runs 225/55/19 alloys and rubber, with the tyres an all-weather pattern from Bridgestone’s Ecopia range.One of the issues we have with the X-Trail, and it’s by no means alone in this, is the location and size of the headlight indicator lamps. They’re tiny, and buried deep within the middle of the join between the lights and the running lights. There are flashing LEDs in the wing mirror covers however they’re not terribly bright nor easily seen from some angles.

Another niggle is the placement of the button to open the powered tailgate. Most companies logically and sensibly have a tab in the same recess as the number plate. Nissan opted for a separate, and lower in the door, placement. It means a person needs to bend more but also, because it’s not the logical place, more often than not the numberplate recess was reached for first.

On The Inside It’s: A tidier look than the very busy Pathfinder. The centre stack immediately pulls attention due to the far cleaner layout. Nissan include a CD player here and in the X-Trail it sits above the 8.0 inch touchscreen. There are tabs around the outside but underneath is only the aircon control cluster. Tidier it is but still perhaps a little fussy when looking for something quickly. The screen’s layout is dated, terribly dated, and needs an overhaul ASAP.

In contrast, the dash design is a gentle curve and separates driver from passenger nicely as each end runs smoothly into the door trims. The whole cabin ambience is cool without being understated.Audio is DAB equipped, and the usual smartapps apply. Oddly, Nissan have also included links to Google and facebook, and although we didn’t connect to them, we’d hope these only activate when parked. A nice touch in counterpoint was the separate heating circuit for the rear seat, a rare and welcome addition.Leg, head, and shoulder room is better than adequate for four, even with the full length glass roof, but typically a bit squeezy for the second row if looking to get five aboard. Behind the second row is a decent cargo bay with 565L available and increasing to 945L with the second row flattened.There’s are rain-sensing wipers, second row air vents and USBs, plus a 12V socket for the second row passengers.

On The Road It’s: Good enough for most people and this comes from a well sorted driveline combination. Although CVTs do feel as if they sap power and torque, the X-Trail’s pairing is one that doesn’t feel as draining as others. There’s plenty of get up and go, mid-range acceleration is quick enough, and unlike the Pathfinder, when the console mounted drive dial selects 4WD, there’s both a noticeable change and an indicator light on the dash shows 4WD is engaged. There’s the barest hint of torque steer in 2WD but in all wheel drive mode that disappears and there’s a proper sense of weight attached to the rear wheels.It’s a push button Start/Stop system in the Ti. Once the 2.5L is up and spinning, Drive is engaged by a short throw lever, there’s the faintest of clunks, and the accelerator sees the 1,562kg (dry) Ti get underway smoothly. The transmission has the typical CVT wavering at times and is at its best at freeway speeds. That goes for the suspension which is beautifully tuned for more comfort that sporting in the handling, yet and be driven hard without qualms. It damps nicely, initial compliance runs into somewhere between taut and giving, and rarely felt unsettled. Speed-sensitive steering worked the same; there’s lightness when needed, heft when required, and made parking a doddle.

An unexpected feature is the Intelligent Engine Braking system. Downhill runs and the CVT acts as a brake, finding a gear and holding it to ensure no unwanted acceleration. A blip of the throttle overcomes it easily however it mostly needs no human intervention.

What About Safety?: Plenty to like, as expected. Forward Collision Warning and AEB with pedestrian detection but not cyclist. Blind Spot Alert, Rear Cross Traffic, Lane Departure Warning and Rear Park Assist sensors make the Ti a pretty safe bet.

What About Warranty And Service?: Standard five years and unlimited ks, roadside assist for 24/7 for5 years. Servicing is capped price for the first six and prices can be found by using your vehicle’s VIN.

At The End Of the Drive. The 2020 Nissan X-Trail Ti delivers by doing exactly what is asked of it and doing so without raising an eyebrow. It drives well enough, handles well enough, it’s not unattractive and has a high level of safety. Downlights are the tawdry touchscreen look and those almost invisible indicator flashers in the front. And in Ti spec, it’s not an outrageous hit to the bank balance for what is delivered. Head here to find out more.

 

Tucson’s Fourth Generation Is Ready For The World

As foreshadowed in early September, the drastically facelifted Tucson range was officially unveiled on September 15. Now in its fourth generation, the world platform Hyundai Motor Company Tucson brings a short and long wheelbase to further broaden its already large customer appeal. With a timeline stretching back to 2004, and racking up over seven million sales, the new Tucson brings striking new looks and a solid set of tech.There are new engines including a pair of hybrid drive-lines, with a PHEV being one. This isn’t yet in concrete for Australia.

Thomas Schemera, Executive Vice President, Head of Product Division at Hyundai Motor Group said at the launch: “We are thrilled to introduce the all-new Tucson, the latest model in Hyundai’s SUV transformation,” said . “This exciting vehicle sets a new benchmark for innovation in its segment, delivering an impressive blend of design, technology, packaging and performance.” The new Tucson is scheduled for Korean release in September 2020, with models yet to be determined currently stated to arrive in Australia in the first half of 2021. The launch itself was held as a virtual event and shown on the company’s new social media outlet, Hyundai TV, a global contents platform and interactive application for Smart TVs.

Design: it’s what Hyundai have labelled their Sensuous Sportiness idenity. Standing front and centre, literally in this case, is the dazzling new face of the Tucson, from what is called Parametric Dynamics in Hyundai-speak. The Tucson’s body features a set of geometrically intense lines and the front end is a series of “jewel surface” units which hide the head- and driving lights. When lit, they form a boomerang-like shape that then becomes a grille defining area.
The front guards flare before tapering to a sharp point in the front doors. This draws the eyes towards the rear doors that both flare and bring a trapezoid bulge to the redesigned, twin vertical-single horizontal tail-lights. There is a chrome strip that runs from the wing mirror, following the roofline that terminates in conjunction with the newly designed rear lights, which, like the front, are only visible when lit. A subtle touch is the relocation of the Hyundai logo into the rear glass and a hidden look to the rear wiper.

For the petrol engined versions there will be seven exterior colours: White Cream, Phantom Black, Shimmering Silver, Nocturne Gray, Amazon Gray, Flame Red, and Intense Blue, six of which are new for Tucson. In the hybrid range there are White Cream, Phantom Black, Shimmering Silver, and Intense Blue, three of which are new for Tucson.

Inside: It’s a choice of cloth or leather, black or grey for the trims. The SUV’s interior environments come in black or grey tones in either cloth or leather material. Hyundai have upped the visual ante by redesigning the way the cabin looks, with ambient lighting in the top level models, new screens and a refresh of the seating.

Termed Interspace, Hyundai blends the dash with the doors, there’s a sense of more space, a pair of silver lines mimic those on the roof by running from front to rear, and those ambient lights have 64 varying shades. There are also ten levels of brightness.From the front seats, the view is of a pair of 10.25 inch touchscreens (model dependent) with split-screen navigation ability and voice recognition which can enable the new Multi-Command function that allows customers to “warm-up the car”. This covers the heating system, heated steering wheel and seat warmers all via a voice command. There is a driver’s display without a binnacle, and a refreshed look to the air-vents. Some models will have 8.0 inch screens with wireless connectivity for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay plus two phones simultaneously. Spread around the cabin is a new range of soft-touch materials that also visually add class. For the second row, a fold and dive mechanism aims for a flatter surface and an increased cargo capacity, now up to 1,095L of space.A service called Hyundai Digital Key enables drivers to use their smartphone to pair to the car and remotely lock/unlock, and start the engine and climate control from up to 27 metres away. A new feature is called car To Home, and this can allow activation, from the vehicle, of connected smart devices at home. Audio comes from multi-speaker systems thanks to Bose (model dependent). For the climate control, Hyundai looked towards the aerospace industry and used certain benchmarks for their direct and indirect ventilation processes and can indicate levels of pollution in real time in the climate control display.Engines: As mentioned, a pair of hybrids with one a PHEV, with a 1.6L engine for either, or a 2.5L direct-injection petrol engine with 141kW and 246Nm driving a slick eight speed auto. The hybrids should punch around 134kW from the petrol engine and combine with the battery for 171kW. Torque will be close to 250Nm from the petrol and offer just under 350Nm combined, and again run an eight speed auto. Hyundai have engineered in their Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) technology that manages valve opening duration for optimal power, efficiency and emissions with minimised compromise.

Vehicles fitted with Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system have an upgrade to the driving modes. Depending of end-market, those vehicles will now have Mud, Snow, Sand along with the previously supported Eco / Comfort / Smart / Sport driving modes.
Safety: Hyundai’s broad-scope SmartSense safety package includes: Highway Driving Assist (HDA), Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) with pedestrian detection, Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Lane Following Assist (LFA), Blind-Spot View Monitor and Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW). There is also Surround View Monitor, Reverse Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist (RPCA), Remote Smart Parking Assist (RSPA), High Beam Assist (HBA) and Driver Attention Warning (DAW). Extra technology for safety comes from: Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA) with Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA), Advanced Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop and Go, and Safe Exit Warning (SEW). Tucson N Line Goes Global: Hyundai’s growing performance arm, N Line, is looking to add an N Line Tucson for the global marketplace at an as yet unspecified date.

Contact your Hyundai dealer for more details.

Big Boots Matter

Luggage Space

If size matters to you when it comes to what you can (or can’t) fit in your boot, then how much space is commonly available in popular new car buys?  The chances are you’ll want to know, so first are some of the most popular vehicles bought in Australia and their boot volume (litres).  All the vehicles listed have their rear seats in place, because we all know the greatest vehicles carry a decent amount of luggage without having to flip their rear seats flat.  There’s nothing worse than telling little Johnny that he can’t travel with his mates because the split folding rear seats have been split folded to take the school camp food!

At the end is a list of the best picks for carrying 550 litres or more behind the rear seats.  You might be surprised, or not…

Supermini

Average boot space: 340.88 litres

1/ Renault Clio – 395 litres

2/ Honda Jazz – 354 litres

3/ Volkswagen Polo – 351 litres

Audi A1 – 335 litres

Skoda Fabia – 330 litres

Hyundai i20 – 326 litres

Kia Rio – 325 litres

Peugeot 208 – 311 litres

 

Hatchbacks

Average boot space: 479.40 litres

1/ Skoda Octavia 590 litres

2/ Peugeot 308 501 litres

3/ Honda Civic 492 litres

Renault Megane 434

VW Golf 380 litres

 

Small 4-door sedan

Average boot space: 464.75 litres

1/ Honda City | 536 litres

2/ Honda Civic | 519 litres

3/ Renault Megane | 503 litres

Kia Cerato | 502 litres

Toyota Corolla | 470 litres

Hyundai Accent Sport | 465 litres

Hyundai Elantra | 458 litres

Holden Astra | 445 litres

Mazda 3 444 litres

Audi A3 | 425 litres

Mazda 2 410 litres

Mitsubishi Lancer | 400 litres

 

Medium 4-Door Sedan

Average boot space: 501.82 litres

1/ Volkswagen Passat | 586 litres

2/ Skoda Octavia | 568 litres

3/ Toyota Camry | 524 litres

Kia Optima | 510 litres

Hyundai Sonata | 510 litres

Subaru Liberty | 493 litres

BMW 3 Series | 480 litres

Mazda 6 | 474 litres

Subaru Impreza | 460 litres

Ford Mondeo | 458 litres

Honda Accord | 457 litres

 

Large 4-Door Sedan

Average boot space: 509.2 litres

1/ Skoda Superb | 625 litres

2/ Volkswagen Arteon | 563 litres

3/ Holden Commodore | 490 litres

Chrysler 300 | 462 litres

Kia Stinger | 406 litres

 

Station wagons

Average boot space: 560.9 litres

1/ Holden Sportwagon 895 litres

2/ Skoda Superb 660 litres

3/ Peugeot 308 SW 660 litres

Ford Focus SW 608 litres

VW Golf SW 605 litres

Hyundai i30 SW 602 litres

Audi A6 SW 586 litres

Volvo V70 575 litres

BMW 5-Series SW 570 litres

Jaguar XF SW 565 litres

Kia Optima SW 552 litres

Ford Mondeo 541 litres

Mercedes Benz E-Class 540 litres

Subaru Levorg 522 litres

Mazda 6 SW 522 litres

Renault Megane SW 521 litres

Subaru Outback 512 litres

Peugeot 407 430 litres

Toyota Corolla SW 392 litres

Mini Clubman SW 360 litres

 

SUVs

LIGHT SUVs

Average boot space: 346.2 litres

1/ Citroen C3 Aircross – 410 litres

2/ Holden Trax – 356 litres

3/ Hyundai Venue 355 litres

Ford EcoSport – 346 litres

Mazda CX-3 264 litres

 

SMALL SUVs

Average boot space: 385.91 litres

1/ Jeep Compass 438 litres

2/ Honda HR-V 437 litres

3/ Kia Seltos 433 litres

Nissan Qashqai 430 litres

Renault Kadjar 408 litres

Mitsubishi ASX 393 litres

Toyota C-HR 377 litres

Hyundai Kona 361 litres

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 341 litres

Mazda CX-30 317 litres

Subaru XV 310 litres

 

MEDIUM SUVs

Average boot space: 496.67 litres

1/ Volkswagen Tiguan 615 litres

2/ Toyota RAV4 580 litres

3/ Nissan X-Trail 565 litres

Honda CR-V 522 litres

Subaru Forester 498 litres

Hyundai Tucson 488 litres

Mitsubishi Outlander 477 litres

MG HS 463 litres

Renault Koleos 458 litres

Kia Sportage 446 litres

Mazda CX-5 442 litres

Ford Escape 406 litres

 

LARGE SUVs

Average boot space: 669.50 litres

1/ Holden Acadia 1042 litres

2/ Holden Equinox 846 litres

3/ Mazda CX-9 810 litres

Toyota LandCruiser Prado 620 litres

Hyundai Santa Fe 547 litres

Toyota Kluger 529 litres

Subaru Outback 512 litres

Ford Everest 450 litres

 

Keep in mind that most vehicles we buy now do have split folding rear seats, so when we don’t have to carry passengers we can make use of the rear seat space in exchange for carrying cargo/luggage.  Many of us don’t want to have to use the rear seat space for luggage; often the back seats are occupied with passengers anyway, so the vehicles that provide over 500 litres behind the back seats are going to be the ones that offer excellent luggage space.

If we look at averages alone, the Large SUV is easily king for luggage carrying duties. Most are seven-seater SUVs, too; but make it just the 5 seats, and they can only be a win/win combination.  The next step up would be a van!

However, both the Station Wagon and Large sedan are other excellent options for you to go to for decent luggage carrying ability.  Even the Medium Sedan offers some cars that provide excellent big boots: the Volkswagen Passat (586 litres), Skoda Octavia (568 litres) and the Toyota Camry (524 litres) are the best examples.

One thing that did surprise me was that the boot space in a small SUV isn’t much to write home about; its average for the class being a dismal 385.91 litres.  This dropped to an abysmal 346.2 litres for light SUVs.  These vehicles, and smaller are best avoided if decent boot space is what you need.

Any vehicle that can offer at least 550 litres of luggage space in the boot without having to fold down any of the rear seats is a winner for cargo carriers.  If you are looking for a vehicle (that isn’t a van) that will deliver good boot space (550 litres or more) for things like: school bags, computer equipment, sport gear, holiday luggage etc., then you’ll probably need one of the following vehicles:

Hatchback:

Skoda Octavia Hatchback

Skoda Octavia Hatchback 590 litres

Medium 4-dr Sedan:

VW Passat Sedan

Volkswagen Passat  586 litres

Skoda Octavia 568 litres

Large 4-dr Sedan

Skoda Superb Sedan/Hatch

Skoda Superb  625 litres

Volkswagen Arteon 563 litres

Station Wagon

Holden Commodore Sportwagon

Holden Sportwagon 895 litres

Skoda Superb 660 litres

Peugeot 308 660 litres

Ford Focus 608 litres

VW Golf 605 litres

Hyundai i30 602 litres

Audi A6 586 litres

Volvo V70 575 litres

BMW 5-Series 570 litres

Jaguar XF 565 litres

Kia Optima 552 litres

Medium SUV

VW Tiguan SUV

Volkswagen Tiguan 615 litres

Toyota RAV4 580 litres

Nissan X-Trail 565 litres

Large SUV

Holden Acadia 7-seater

Holden Acadia 1042 litres

Holden Equinox 846 litres

Mazda CX-9 810 litres

Toyota LandCruiser Prado 620 litres

Hyundai Santa Fe 547 litres

 

Kia Confirms Sorento Details For Australia.

Kia has officially unveiled the forthcoming 2021MY Sorento. To be available in a four trim model range and coming with either a 3.5L V6 petrol engine or a refined 2.2L diesel, with an auto for the petrol and a DCT (dual clutch transmission) for the diesel, the Sorento has been sharpened, redesigned, and upgraded across the board. It’s also the first new Kia to be built upon the brand’s ‘N3’ SUV platform.

The four levels are: S, Sport, Sport +, and GT-Line. The petrol engine will drive the front wheels, the diesel will be powering all four corners. The petrol engine will deliver 200kW and 332Nm, with the diesel spinning Kia’s new wet-clutch DCT. Power from the 2.2L engine is 148kW and delivers torque of 440Nm. The engine itself now has a alloy head and this reduces weight by close to 20kg.

Pricing starts from $45,850 RRP and $46,990 drive-away for the 2WD petrol S. The Sport starts from $48,470 RRP and $49,990 drive-away with the Sport+ at $52,850 RRP and $54,390 drive-away. The GT-Line Petrol sees $60,070 RRP and $61,990 drive-away. Premium paint is a $695 option.

For the diesels in the same trim levels, Kia says the S will start from $48,850 RRP and $49,990. The Sport starts at $51,470 RRP and drive-away at $52,990. In Sport+ trim it’s $55,850 RRP and $57,390 drive-away. GT-Line is $63,070 RRP and $64,990 drive-away. To be built at the Hwasung plant in Korea, the Sorento will come with Kia’s 7-Year unlimited kilometre Warranty, 7-Year Capped Price Service, and 7-Year Roadside Assist.“The outgoing Sorento was a game-changer in the Australian market with previously untapped safety and convenience levels in the segment _ and the all-new model continues to take that story forward,” Kia Motors Australia Chief Operating Officer Damien Meredith said. “Across the four trim levels we believe the Sorento will meet the needs, and exceed the expectations, of anyone shopping in the seven-seat SUV market.” Mr Meredith said that Sorento’s evolution over the last 18 years echoes that of the Kia brand as a whole. “While the car was initially launched in 2002 as a utilitarian body on frame all-terrain vehicle, it quickly evolved into a more luxurious monocoque construction and now, in its fourth generation, Sorento has been transformed into something once again more desirable.”

The exterior design cues start with the signature “tiger grille” and the headlights have a “tiger eye LED DRL. Much like the recently revealed Carnival, lines draw the eye to the headlight design which further creates a tiger face impression. The lower air intake has been revised too, with a more rectangular shape, and again similar to Carnival has wing shaped air curtains to funnel air. Restyled tail lights do away with the formerly horizontally oriented design, and now have a pair of vertically strips with an uppermost angle-forward design that echoes the rear window’s trailing edge.As is common with updates, there has been a change in size. Width is up by 10mm to 1,900mm. Length is up by the same to 4,810mm however the front and rear overhangs have been subtly reduced which makes the Sorento look longer. In between is a wheelbase that’s up by 35mm to 2,815mm.

The new model is 1900mm wide, 10mm wider than the third-generation Sorento. In profile, the proportions of the Sorento are subtly adapted to make it appear longer. The new model is 10mm longer than its predecessor (now 4810mm), yet it features shorter front and rear overhangs. The additional length is found in the wheelbase (a result of the Sorento’s new platform), which has grown by 35mm to 2815mm. The A-pillar has been pushed back by 30mm and leads to a 10mm taller roofline. New styling cues are found with the shark-fin on the C-pillar and the completely redesigned tail lights. The model’s name is emblazoned across the tailgate. Colourwise the new Sorento will offer seven exterior paint finishes with Clear White the standard, plus six Premiums: Mineral Blue (New Colour), Snow White Pearl, Steel Grey, Silky Silver, Aurora Black and Gravity Blue. All trims will have a full-size spare in 17-inch, 18-inch, 19-inch or 20-inch depending on trim level.

The interior also has had the wand waved. The GT-Line will have mood lighting in the door trim and from underneath the dashboard, and will have a pair of digital displays which at 12.3 inch (GT-Line) and 10.25 inch (Sport, Sport+ and GT-Line, 8.0 in S) that will control most of the car’s functions. The layout will provide an almost ultra-widescreen experience. Capacitive touch buttons on the screen sides will provide the control options. Trim materials across the range have been revised with embossed black cloth, leather appointed black cloth and black quilted Nappa leather appointed seats being available depending on the model chosen.Increasing the wheelbase sees cargo and passenger carrying ability increased with 616L growing to 2,011L with all seats folded. With the third row raised there is still 187L available, an increase of 32% compared to the previous model. Controls for the rear seat passengers see a soft touch button to fold the second row. These also have a sliding increase of 45mm for extra access. Third row passengers have an armrest that has increased by 100mm and incorporate a smartphone tray and cupholder.

Ride and handling will be improved in the new 2021 Sorento; the increased wheelbase partners with a 4% tighter bodyshell (made from steel and aluminuim for strength and weight reduction) for increased rigidity and reduced body vibration. Geometry changes to the suspension have increased road-holding and for those that enjoy some off-road action, a new Terrain mode for the diesel engines, operated via a rotary dial in the centre console, provide better traction in Snow, Mud, and Sand.Convenience features include Bluetooth pairing for two phones, three USB ports up front and two for second row passengers (Sport and GT-Line), plus 12V sockets for the third row passengers. Sport+ and GT-Line offer an extra pair of USBs. GT-Line will have a HUD or Head Up Display and a 12 speaker Bose system for pure sounds. The other three models will have six speaker sound.

For safety Kia’s Advanced Driver Assist System, ADAS, includes Kia’s Autonomous Emergency Braking technology with pedestrian, cyclist and vehicle detection. This also detects oncoming traffic when making a turn at a junction. The Sorento is also available with Blind-spot View Monitor (GT-Line only), Surround View Monitor (GT-Line) and Blind-spot Collision-avoid Assist, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Lane Following Assist and Driver Attention Warning. Kia’s ‘level two’ autonomous driving technology, Lane Following Assist (LFA), controls acceleration, braking and steering depending on the vehicles in front. LFA operates between speeds of 0 and 180 kph, using camera and radar sensors to maintain a safe distance from the car in front, while monitoring road markings to keep the Sorento in the centre of its lane.The new Sorento also features a Rear View Monitor (RVM) with Reverse Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist (PCA) (GT-Line only), and Rear Cross-traffic Collision-avoidance Assist (RCCA). In addition, it is also the first Kia available with the company’s new Remote Smart Parking Assist (RSPA) (GT-Line only), which enables drivers to move their car autonomously out of a front-and-back parking space remotely with their key fob. This is designed to make it easier for passengers to get in and out of the car in tight parking spaces or if another driver parks too close to access any of the doors.

RSPA brakes the Sorento automatically if it detects another car, cyclist or pedestrian behind the vehicle or crossing behind it. The Sorento’s Safe Exit Assist feature also prevents rear doors from opening if the vehicle detects a hazard approaching from behind, such as a cyclist or another vehicle. Advanced driver assistance systems with new Remote Smart Parking Assist

There are seven airbags which includes a centre airbag but not a kneebag. There is also Kia’s Multi-collision Brake System, a crash mitigation system that engages the brakes when the system’s airbags have been deployed, further adding safety from other potential impacts.

The 2021 Sorento is available for test drives at Kia dealerships.

2020 Nissan Juke ST: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A substantially changed Nissan Juke. It’s the second model Australia has seen and the first wasn’t received with open arms due to its controversial styling. It’s still not pretty but in the greater context, it is a far better looking vehicle. There are four trim levels: ST (tested), ST+, ST-L, and the top of the range Ti.How Much Does It Cost?: Nissan’s website lists the range as starting from $30,490 drive-away for the ST. The range tops out at $39,490 drive-away.

Under The Bonnet Is: A three cylinder petrol engine with a turbo. Thankfully. Peak torque of 180Nm comes in at 2,400rpm and that’s barely enough to spin the seven speed dual clutch transmission. peak power is double figures at 84kW. In comparison Kia’s Picanto GT-Line has 172Nm but that’s available from 1,500rpm to 4,000rpm. The fuel tank is a decent 46.0L and economy, says Nissan, is 5.8L/100km on the combined cycle and given we’ve been seeing 6.8L/100km on our 70/30 urban/highway sprint, that seems spot on. Dry weight is 1,251kg.On The Outside It’s: A distinctively different vehicle for the second time round compared to version 1. The profile has a similar stance, with a steeply raked rear window line and hidden rear door handles, but it’s the front that has copped the biggest makeover. The distinctive mid-set headlights have been revised to reduce their prominence, and the formerly high-set driving lights that rode the fender’s ridge have been brought down to engage the top of the V grille for a far better integrated look. The rear loses the ovoid and bloated V shaped lights and now have a slimmer, more integrated, look. They’re sharper, have restyled interior designs, and go closer to matching the restyled front.On The Inside It’s: A comfortable place to be for an entry level vehicle. It’s a key start, for, umm, starters, with manual seats and no heating or venting naturally. They do have a surprising amount of lateral support and have adjustable lumbar support too. There is no DAB audio via the 8.0 inch touchscreen which again doesn’t default from the warning screen at all. It does have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.The aircon is a bit off, as the lowest fan speed is sometimes too much in flowing air, and sometimes the coolest setting of the rotary dial is warm air, even when using the slightly redundant non-recirculating air tab. By slightly redundant, one tab to have recirculate on or off should suffice. The centre vents are three, a little unusual in count, and sit in a nicely hued grey plastic. This extends to the storage locker free centre console, which does, at least, house a pair of cup holders. At the dashboard end is a USB and 12V port pairing.

For the driver there is a colour info screen, accessed via tabs on the tiller’s left spoke. It’s friendly to both use and look at. Either side are standard looking analogue dials. It’s the same for the central dash controls; radio and aircon are dials and aside from the airflow, work as they should.Cargo space is decent enough with a lowish lip and a floor that’s under the lip itself. This isn’t terribly common for the class of vehicle as most have either a floor close to the load lip or level with it, so here it’s a pleasant change to be able to drop things down.

It’s the same with the seating and room. There’s good head, shoulder, and leg room for pretty much anyone that doesn’t play football or basketball. Leaving aside the lack of a centre console bin, there was rarely any sense of the front passengers rubbing elbows, and the rear pews, suitable for two people really, delivered no sounds of protest in regards to feeling cramped.On The Road It’s: Jeckyll and Hyde. The engine and DCT combination is abysmal. The DCT is problematic at best, with gaps that the Grand Canyon would think are huge when it comes to swapping between park, Drive, reverse. The time to re-engage is measured by calendars, not seconds. the problem is exacerbated by the time it takes for any torque to arrive on the scene when the accelerator is pressed at a Stop sign, for example. A driver could say “Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice” quicker than it takes for forward momentum to commence.

Once the Juke is underway and there is that characteristic three cylinder thrum, a wonderfully benign chassis is displayed. There’s a proper heft to the steering, good communication from the front wheels, almost agreeable braking feedback as well. It’s almost as if there were two different personalities for the Juke… The chassis dynamics aren’t the best in class but there isn’t a lot to dislike either. It’s decently composed in normal driving situations, with only the bigger and closer irregularities making the Juke feel uncertain on all four corners. Bump thump on speed reducers were noticeable more for the upper end of the suspension feeling softer otherwise the ride quality is of a pleasing enough level.

The best way to get the Juke rolling is with a egg-sensitive squeeze of the throttle. This tends to clamp the clutches together in a smoother manner and allows the progression of the go-pedal to engage the engine in a quicker manner. Coming into traffic from an intersection is where this method worked best, as once the car had some forward movement a harder press saw revs climb and take hold of those 180 torques. Rolling acceleration was much the same. There are two paddle son the steering column and these made a marginal improvement to how the driveline did its thing.The brakes are drum and disc, however the benefit of the Juke’s comparatively light-weight mass overcomes the ancient design of the drums. There was noticeable hints of the system feeling overwhelmed at times, with the ABS on the verge of intruding before deciding to sit back down.

A minor niggle was the Auto Stop/Start. On pickup, a fault light was displayed and using the tab to engage & disengage the feature did not remove it. However, later in the day, the system appeared to have reset as it didn’t show again.

What About Safety?: Juke in ST trim has six airbags, plus what Nissan term “Intelligent Emergency Braking” with Pedestrian and Cyclist detection. That’s elsewhere known as Autonomous Emergency Braking….Forward Collision Alert, reverse camera, Lane Departure and Blind Spot warnings are standard, as is Rear Cross Traffic Alert and rear parking sensors.

What About Warranty And Service?: Nissan offer all vehicle five years worth of 24/7 roadside assistance. That’s a good sweetener to start with. Then five years and unlimited kilometres carry the nice further. servicing costs will vary depending on vehicle however Nissan’s website has a link to allow owners to enter their VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) to provide a more concise pricing idea for the six capped price services.

At The End Of The Drive. The Juke ST suffers mostly from an under-torque delivering engine and a gearbox better suited elsewhere. Our final economy figure was still 6.8L/100km and we couldn’t help but feel that a more conventional transmission or, lawd help us, a CVT, would be better suited for the tiny 1.0L. Aside form that, it’s a decently enjoyable drive, with good handling and ride. It’s roomy enough inside for four and has the features the “younger people” would enjoy with the apps for connectivity.

Check out the Juke ST from Nissan for yourself here.