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2019 Toyota LandCruiser GXL: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The big, boofy, brawny, LandCruiser GXL. It’s one of a four model range, however at the time of writing (April 2020) there are five. The GX starts things off, then the GXL tested, VX, Sahara and Sahara Horizon, a special edition model. That last is a cosmetic item and commemorates the vehicle’s 60 years of production.

The GXL, although the second of the range, still packs enough equipment to ensure it’s user and family friendly. And there is that legendary off-road ability that is standard fitment and has been for sixty years. the vehicle tested is a seven seater, with the same fold sideways third row seats as seen in the Fortuner albeit with a different method of releasing.How Much Does It Cost?: It’s a solid hit to the wallet for the unprepared. Toyota lists the GXL at $99,352 drive-away as of April 2020. That’s with Glacier White; select a metallic and it’s $18 shy of $100,000 even. $91,980 is the recommended retail price, before on-roads.

Under The Bonnet Is: Toyota’s hairy chested 4.5L V8 diesel. 200kW is the peak power, but it’s the near Supercar 650Nm of torque (split 49;51 front to rear) that makes the LandCruiser a great on- and off-road performer. It’s a low-stress, easy delivery of torque too, with that 650Nm on tap between 1,600rpm to 2,600rpm. Drive goes to all four corners via a six speed auto, an area sure to be addressed when the 300 Series gets its release. There is a transfer case, operated through an electrically activated system and switched through a dial in the console. Towing is rated as 3.5 tonnes.Economy, not surprisingly, is not strong point around town. Toyota quotes only a combined figure and that’s 9.5L/100km. Out city cycle was 12.3L/100km at its best and over 15.0L/100km at its worst. A tank size of 138L, a 93L main and 45L secondary, helps dull that pain somewhat. The VX we tested late least year (A Wheel Thing VX LandCruiser) saw an overall average of 11.5L/100km.

On the Outside It’s: Big. A Kerb weight of 2,740kg equates to 4,990mm length, 1,945mm to 1,970mm (model dependent) in height, and 1,980mm in width. There is 2,850mm in wheelbase and a track of 1,640mm and 1,650mm, meaning a huge footprint and presence. The review vehicle had an air intake snorkel fitted, adding a little more to height. This is standard on GX, optional on GXL.

The GXL has self leveling headlights, with LED low beams, and LED fog lamps wrapped in a chrome surround. The rear has LED lamps. Up top, roof rails are standard on the GXL onwards. Side steps are a standard fit. Wheels are simple five spoke alloys with a semi-matte sheen, with rubber from Dunlop. They’re from the Grand Trek range and are 285/65/17 in overall size.On The Inside It’s: As roomy as expected. Front and centre leg room is capacious, and the third row is decent enough also. Head and shoulder room shouldn’t be a problem for anyone up to six feet in height. It’s less luxury oriented than the VX we drove six months ago, but it also doesn’t lack for comfort. The seats are cloth covered, they’re comfortable enough, and because of the velour covering, don’t need heating or cooling. The front seats are manually operated however the lumbar support has powered adjustment.The dash is blocky, segmented, yet functional because of it. There is no sense of haphazardness, everything is in its place and for a reason. The dash is dominated by the central section, itself a blocky look and this houses the 6.1 inch touchscreen and aircon controls. The radio screen is perhaps the weakest link, specifically ion accessing DAB stations. The look is something that Toyota should look to Hyundai and Kia for in the ease of use stakes.The car came to the garage with DAB stations not based in Sydney. A reset of the stations failed to provide local access and it took some research to find that the way Toyota has programmed this head unit required some fiddling in order to access Sydney’s DAB network.

The aircon controls are dual zone and rocker switch in operation. They’re simple to operate and effective in usage. That’s the same for the driver’s information screen and it’s also easy to read. As expected, the steering wheel controls for accessing info and for using the audio are easy to use.What’s baffling is that the headlight switch isn’t Auto sensing; rather, it’s an Off (never a good thing, all headlights should be Auto and NOT offer an Off setting) or On. This is a safety factor and ably demonstrated by any drive through a traffic tunnel.

On The Road It’s: Solid, massive, even ponderous at times. But it’s also nimble, easy to move around, and thanks to that diesel V8’s torque, quick enough when required. Thanks to the snorkel, there’s a raspy snarl near the driver’s right ear, a muted V8 growl up front, and a muted grumble from the exhaust. A standing start and hard press has the LandCruiser GXL launch hard and confidently. And quickly. Straight line performance is indecent for such a large machine, and many who haven’t experienced its prowess come away with ear-to-ear grins.

It’s ponderous because physics. 2.7 tonnes is a goodly amount of mass for a passenger vehicle and even with that straight line oomph, 2.7 tonnes isn’t easy to get moving at low velocities, and it’s also not easy to stop suddenly. It’s our thinking that the 300 Series should address what we feel is the 200’s weak spot: braking. The bit is there but it’s not a hard one, it doesn’t feel as if it’s holding on tight enough to pull up the LandCruiser GXL. There’s not enough overall confidence even with 340mm and 345mm discs.Underneath is independent double wishbones up front, with a coil spring, gas dampers and anti-roll bar. The rear is a 4-link coil rear suspension with Panhard rod, coil springs, gas dampers and anti-roll bar. The Kinetic Suspension system that allows even more flexibility for getting dirty is available as an option. In the Drive system is Crawl Control with steering assist.

The sheer size of the LandCruiser can count against it as forward corner vision is…well, it’s kind of hard to completely accurately judge where the corners are. BUT it’s also the kind of vehicle that familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, it breeds an innate understanding of how to muscle the big machine around. That’s something which comes in handy in off-roading and car parks.

We gave the GXL some space to stretch its legs and it’s as easy to drive off-road as it is on a straight lined open highway. Handbrake on, select Neutral, rotate the drive selector dial to 4WD Low Range, and a second or so later select Drive. That rev range then makes crawling up and down and around as second nature as it comes for the LandCruiser. Having a well weighted steering that allows fine control off-road as easily as on tarmac certainly helps in piloting the GXL in close quarters.What About Safety?: Toyota says it comes with the Toyota Safety Sense, made up of Lane Departure Alert, Pre-Collision Safety System with pedestrian detection, Automatic High Beam (AHB) and Active Cruise Control if you buy the Sahara. The GXL doesn’t have these. There is a Reverse Camera, front and rear park sensors, Hill Start Assist Control, driver’s knee bag, first row and second row curtain airbags.

What About Warranty And Service?: All Toyotas bought from January 2019 have five years warranty. Service costs for the first four services, at every six months or 10,000 km, is $300.00.

At The End Of The Drive. Toyota’s LandCruiser range is in a huge need of a ground up update. And we know that it is on the way, complete with a hybrid drive-train option. It needs a rethink of the interior and that’s coming. We know the exterior will be sleeker but it’s fair to assume to it won’t weigh much less. A refinement of the suspension will help handling and we’d hope the feature and safety list will improve.For now, what we have is big. It’s boofy. It’s fun. And that still counts for something.

Pay Just a Tad More!

It’s funny what we can forget to do or check sometimes.  There was one couple who forgot to put the drain plugs back into their boat when they re-launched it at a new mooring site – oops – next morning boat submerged.  I had a friend who got ready for duck shooting and travelled for hours out to the hunting lake – oops – forgot the gun.

So take a tip here, and when it does come time to trade up the old car for a new one, don’t forget to check out all the cars that sit in your price range because there are so many options available these days.  One bracket of cars that can get overlooked is the mid-range price.  You can get some pretty nice, stylish drives around the $50k–to-$80k mark.  If you can run to this many “jolly green giants”, then you’re going to go passed most Hyundai, Ssangyong, Ford, Nissan, Toyota, and Honda cars in search of something a little more exotic.  Yes, there are even a few BMWs and the odd Audi cars you can buy for this sort of money, but what about something a little rarer and interesting?

Here is a list of cars worth a look, and believe-you-me some of these cars are very nice, high-end luxury cars with plenty of performance, comfort and safety:

Genesis G70

Genesis G80

Genesis G70 and G80 luxury sedans can be had from around $59k and $68k, respectively.  These are competing with equivalent BMW and Mercedes cars now that are fetching much higher prices than these exciting Hyundai Genesis cars.  Hyundai is the maker of the premium Genesis brand.

Infiniti Q70

Infiniti Q70 sedans are hugely entertaining drives with superb quality, looks and performance.  And at around $68k these quick, stylish RWD or AWD cars are a steal but too often overlooked.

Jaguar XE

Jaguar XF

A new Jaguar XE and XF sedan can be had for around $65 and $82k respectively.  Offering awesome handling and great engines these are eye-catching, awesome drives.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Did you know you can own a new Jeep Grand Cherokee for around $59k!  Loads of kit, very luxurious, big on safety, and an on-road/off-road king!

Kia Stinger

Kia Stinger for around $47k!  Yes, you heard that right.  A genuinely quick car with hot looks like this could be yours.

Lexus 300h

Buy a luxury Toyota for around $60k, known as the Lexus ES 300h.  Yes, it’s a hybrid with all the very best comfort, safety, build quality and luxury that cars double the price offer you.  Oh, and it has Toyota’s premium reliability.

Land Rover Defender

Land Rover Discovery

Need a premium off-road king?  Get yourself a new Land Rover Defender for around $60k or a Land Rover Discovery for just a little bit more.

Mercedes Benz AMG A35

Mercedes Benz GLC SUV

The three point star makes an appearance even.  For around $69k a new Mercedes Benz AMG A35 can be had.  That’s “AMG” performance and hot A-Class Hatch looks with all the mod cons including the gigantic and gorgeous touchscreen dash, AWD and serious handling for less than $75k.  Wow!  Another Merc worth a look for similar poundage and kit is the Mercedes Benz GLC from around $67k.  This is an SUV with plenty of equipment that includes the glorious touchscreens.

Peugeot 508

A special and very eye-catching Peugeot 508 can be had for just $53k or thereabouts.  This special French look, special luxury and special performance is a steal at this special price.

RAM 1500

Coming in at less than $80k is a new RAM 1500.  You can’t drive by un-noticed in a vehicle as big and as mean as this.  Off-road: no problem; towing: no problem.  This vehicle means business!

Range Rover Velar

A new Range Rover Velar for less than $70k would be a stylish look.  All the 4×4 power, style and luxury is on-board this Land Rover flagship.

Tesla Model 3

Yes, you can buy a quick Tesla for this sort of dosh!  A new Tesla Model 3 can be bought in Australia for around $67k.  Oh, wouldn’t that be classy!

VW Arteon

Volkswagen makes some very nice cars, and one of these which is super stylish is called the VW Arteon.  You can own this hot looking Coupe for around $67k.  Peugeot 508 or VW Arteon for best looks?  Your choice…

VW Touareg

A new VW Touareg can be bought for around $80k.  That’s starting to get up there for money handed over, but what you get is a premium luxury SUV with loads of space, style and safety.  Off-roading and towing is no problem for one of these amazing machines.

Volvo v60

Volvo V90

Volvo XC60

Don’t forget the sexy new Volvo V60 (from $56k) and V90 (from $80k) station wagons.  So nice and so comfortable to drive, these are great machines for the family.  A new Volvo XC60 is available for around $62k, and with this model you get the Volvo comfort and style along with off-road capability.  Did I mention Volvos were safe?

The FCAI Releases March 2020 Car Sales Numbers

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries has today announced new vehicle sales figures for the month of March 2020 and not unexpectedly, it’s a story of sliding numbers. 81,690 vehicles were sold in the 31 days of March, with a breakdown of: 21,777 passenger vehicles, 39,171 SUVs, and 18,162 LCV (Light Commercial vehicles). That’s a respective market share of 26.7%, 48.0%, and 22.2%

What these numbers also showcase is a negative growth of 17.9% compared to March 2019 and the 24th consecutive month of falling sales. On a direct comparison of days available to sell, March 2020 sees a decrease of 17,752 vehicles compared to last year, and a daily decrease of 692 per day.

Toyota takes the top spot, with the Hi-Lux notching 3,556 sales and the brand itself selling 17,583. Mazda clocked second overall at 6,002, whilst Kia overtook its Korean relation, Hyundai, with 5,654 against 5,306.

Ford’s Ranger notched 3,108 sales for the second most popular vehicle bought, followed by the RAV4 from Toyota at 2,991. The Corolla wasn’t far behind at 2,812, whilst Holden finally had some sunshine, with Colorado finding 2,391 driveways to park in.

The Chief Executive of the FCAI, Tony Weber, said: “Many dealerships have opted to remain open to maintain support for customers, particularly from a service perspective, during this difficult period. Of particular importance are first responder and essential services vehicles. We must keep these vehicles on the road to ensure our communities continue to function and remain safe. In addition, we need to ensure those who physically attend their workplace can travel safely.

The motor vehicle is a safe form of transport during the pandemic, allowing occupants to preserve their personal distance from other commuters. Within dealerships, customer safety is of the highest priority, and automotive brands have initiated a variety of enhanced hygiene protocols and contactless consultations to maintain personal distance.”

The Passenger Vehicle Market is down by 7,222 vehicle sales (-24.9%) over the same month last year; the Sports Utility Market is down by 6,489 vehicle sales (-14.2%); the Light Commercial Market is down by 3,326 vehicle sales (-15.5%); and the Heavy Commercial Vehicle Market is down by 715 vehicle sales (-21.7%) versus March 2019.

Environmental, political, and economic factors are said to be behind the continued fall in sales.

(Information supplied by the FCAI)

2020 Toyota Fortuner Crusade: Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Toyota’s forgotten SUV. The Fortuner is a seven seater based on the HiLux, much like the Pajero Sport is a derivative of the Triton. There are three trim levels being GX, GXL, and the range topping Crusade. It’s exclusively diesel and auto, going up against the Kluger to provide the oiler option in the mid-sized SUV segment for the brand. First released in Australia in 2015 a manual was available in the GX and has since been dropped. The vehicle’s history goes back further, with an initial release of 2005 and for the South African market to start.

How Much Does It Cost?: $50, 322, $55,387, and $63,262 are the prices listed on Toyota Australia’s website. These are drive-away prices as of March 30, 2020. Add metallic paint over the standard white and the GX goes to $50,952, whilst the GXL is $56,017. $63,892 is the metallic paint price for the Crusade, which was in Crystal Pearl for our review vehicle. The tow bar, tow ball, and 7 pin wiring harness are a $751.43 option. A third party supplied the electric brake controller system.Under The Bonnet Is: Toyota’s well proven 2.8L diesel, with 130kW and 450Nm. The latter comes in from 1,600rpm and rolls of at 2,400rpm. The auto has just six ratios, leaving the Fortuner somewhat off the pace in this respect. It also means economy is off the pace, with an urban figure (rarely quoted by companies lately) of 11.0L/100km. Combined is 8.6L/100km and on the highway Toyota says 7.3L/100km. On our 80/20 urban/highway cycle, we saw a best of 9.2L/100km. Towing is rated as 2,800 kilos braked. Starting weight is 2,135kg for the Crusade.

On The Outside It’s: Largely unchanged since the initial release. It’s an awkwardly shaped profile; there’s a sharp, angular front, an odd kickline to the darkened privacy glass rear windows that starts in the second half of the rear doors, and blacked out C and D pillars. An insert to the rear bumper has a placing for the towbar. From the front it’s a narrow headlight structure with LED driving lights incorporated but only in the Crusade.

The Crusade has splashes of chrome for that upmarket look. The broad face is mirrored by the tail lights and feature a similarly angular shaped design. Underneath, the Fortuner Crusade has Michelin Latitude rubber, and are 265/60/18 on 12 spoke alloys. Sidesteps were also fitted and are standard across the three tiers.Overall length puts in firmly in the same ballpark as its competitors. It’s 4,795mm and rolls on a 2,750mm wheelbase. Width in total is 1,855mm whilst height is 1,835mm. The rear track is slightly wider than the front, at 1,555m compared to 1,540mm. It’s pretty much the same size as its stablemate, Prado.

On the Inside It’s: A not unpleasant place to be if you’re in the front row. The vehicle supplied had a dark brown leather trim, a shade not far off a cocoa or chocolate. As is the norm, the front seats were powered and heated. The tabs for the heating are almost invisible, being placed at the bottom of the centre stack. The steering column has paddle shifts for changing and are largely unused.What’s noticeable about the whole design of the dash and console is the replication of the Toyota logo. From either side horizontally is an elongated oval shape, whilst the centre stack has a pair of vertical pillars to mimic the vertical bar in a T. Inside is a four layer design, being a pair of air vents, touchscreen, aircon, and drive mode dial next to the heat switches and auxiliary sockets. These sit ahead of a pair of cup holders and these are somewhat awkwardly placed for usage.

There is no HUD for the driver and the driver’s display screen, save for the now standard centre section, is fully analogue. Backlighting is a deep electric blue. The tiller is standard Toyota with the tabs for information access on the right, audio on the left. Trim material in the Crusade are soft touch, well stitched, and of a high quality to look at and feel. The sound system has JBL speakers and added in on the upper surface of the dash. The tuning system Toyota uses in their touchscreens is not as user friendly as others, and demonstrably so in the Crusade. The preset stations in the DAB tuner were not Sydney based, and to re-initialise them took some time. There are also no apps for extra connectivity.The key interior feature of the Fortuner is the fitment of a pair of third row seats. The HiLux chassis underneath doesn’t appear to allow a proper floor mount, with the pair side mounted and designed to fold down. The actual strap to release is easy enough to undo but the weight of the seats can make them difficult for some to use. These are accessed via a powered tailgate door. There’s 200 litres of cargo room with the third row seats in place, and when the third row is folded there is 716L. All seats folded yields 1080L. This also corresponds to head and leg space, where they’re adequate but just adequate.The rear seats get a separate climate control set of switches and a 220V socket as well. Spread throughout the cabin are three 12V sockets. In the vehicle supplied, rubber floor mats were supplied.

On The Road It’s: Decently quick, a very good handler, and nicely weighted in the steering. Standing start acceleration should please anyone seeking almost petrol like performance from a diesel. This applies to overtaking however anything from around 2,500rpm has the Fortuner Cascade easily running out of breath. It’s perhaps here that an extra pair or trio of cogs wouldn’t go astray for better driveability.

For a diesel it’s comparatively quiet too. Even at revs between 3,000rpm to 3,500rpm is there much noise, rather, it’s a semi-muted chatter and not excessively intrusive. Underway the transmission backs the engine up nicely, with mostly smooth shifts. There’s more than the occasional jolt as ratios change, and there’s also some backlash in the rear diff every now and there. Downhill and the engine braking system comes into play, and holds the gear just that little bit too long. A flick of the paddle shift is needed to go down a gear.Going off-road in the Fortuner is as easy as twirling the centre stack dial. 4WD high range can be done of the fly, whereas for low range the gear selector must be Neutral to engage the transfer case. There is also a rear diff lock switch. Going back to 4WD high and 2WD needs a little more patience, otherwise the system effectively locks in low range. Select Neutral, go to 4WD high, and there’s a few clunks before the transfer case disengages. This then allows the next move to 2WD. If getting dirty then decent approach and departure angles are required, and here Toyota’s Fortuner offers 30 degrees and departure angle of 25deg. Breakover is 23.5deg and ground clearance is 225mm. It’ll get wet at up to 700mm.

The brakes, for our tastes, need a little more bite, but they will haul up the Fortuner well enough for most drivers. There’s also a little steering rack shake, and again it’s fine enough for most drivers. Bump-steer was noticeable on occasion as well. On road manners have good response from the steering under normal driving.What About Safety?: Toyota’s Safety Sense package, which features their Pre-Collision Safety system with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, Lane Departure Alert, High-Speed Active Cruise Control and Road Sign Assistance, is standard across all three. Downhill Assist Control and Trailer Sway Control are also standard, as are seven airbags. However Rear Cross Traffic and Blind Spot Alerts aren’t fitted, nor is Lane Change Assist.

What About Service And Warranty?: Five years is the warranty, and for service costs it’s capped at $250 for the first four on a six month or 10,000 kilometre cycle.

At the End Of the Drive. In comparison to the competing product driven the week before, the Fortuner Crusade has more pepp, more zip, more dynamically usable driving. It’s an unusually styled vehicle but it suffers most from invisibility. It’s overlooked in the overall scheme of things, especially within the own family situation. One has to wonder if a solid refresh wouldn’t be a bad thing…

We liked it however there’s just something holding it back, so check it out here.

Do Honda’s Changes Signal the Beginning of an Australian Exit?

After Holden made the much-anticipated and expected decision to withdraw from the Australian market, attention has turned towards the rest of the industry, as it faces a growing crisis. Compounded by the Coronavirus pandemic that is spreading across the world, local car dealers were already up against it, competing in a market that has been tracking at its worst levels since the GFC.

With pressure only likely to grow in the wake of the health and economic crisis that our country now faces, more questions are being asked about how sustainable it is for manufacturers to compete in such a small yet hotly-contested market such as ours.

This has sparked a lot of speculation around which companies might be next to exit Australia. Honda has enjoyed particularly strong sales in Australia over the years, but with the company facing profitability issues at a global level, the directive has been to improve its operational efficiencies. This has convinced some industry insiders that it was likely to be a matter of time before the Japanese brand would need to respond, and respond they have.

 

 

Dealership changes

Earlier this month, Honda was said to be considering three potential options for its future down under. First, the company was understood to have the option to close its national network and exit the market. Second, the Japanese auto-maker could pursue a ‘rationalisation’ strategy and reduce the number of showrooms across the country. Finally, the company could move towards an independent distributor model.

Commenting on the speculation at the time, the company said, “Honda is committed to the Australian market and as a part of normal business, regularly assesses its operations and organisational performance. We committed to our dealer network that we would update them on our long-term plans in the first quarter of 2020 and we are planning to do this later this month”.

In recent days, the company has come to a decision. Starting from the middle of 2021, Honda will slash the number of dealerships across the country. From over 100 dealers at the moment, there are expected to be around 60 by the time the changes take place. Their owners are expected to reduce from 71 to just 12. In addition, the brand will also move to eliminate underperforming car models and adopt an “agency” style business with fixed prices across the board.

The move is set to spark a sharp cut in jobs across the Honda network, as well as a sizeable slump in sales for the brand as it focuses predominantly on the Civic small car, HR-V small SUV and CR-V medium SUV. On the back of the news, however, dealers have begun to interpret the move as the early stages of a formal Australian exit for the company. In the meantime, the official line from the manufacturer reads, “we are committed to the Australian market. This is about strengthening the business for the future”. But aren’t those familiar words we’ve heard before?

 

2020 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Mitsubishi’s in a revamp phase and the Pajero Sport, once known as Challenger, is now into its second generation under that name. There’s been some mild updates to the exterior at either end and a little bit of a tickle inside as well. It’s a three model & four trim level range, with a five seater GLX, five or seven seater GLS, and seven seater Exceed, all with a diesel engine and eight speed auto transmission.

How Much Does It Cost?: There’s a spread of fourteen thousand dollars with the GLX starting at $45,990 drive-away, with the Exceed at $59,990 drive-away. The range has seven colours, including the White Diamond pearlescent on the Exceed tested. The RRP (before charges) price for the Exceed is $57,190. The White Diamond paint is $940, and this vehicle was fitted with a Front Protection Bar, towbar, and electric brakes for anything towed. Mitsubishi Au confirmed the front bar is $3,513, with the towbar and ball at $1,299, plus brakes at $685. With those accessories and paint the final d/a price was $65,687 as driven. Side steps are standard.Under The Bonnet Is: 133kW and 430Nm of power and torque from a 2.4L diesel. 8.0L per 100 kilometres on a combined cycle is the quoted figure for consumption, which indicates a higher figure around town. That’s how it worked out with a variance of consumption, from 9.0L to 12.5L around town. As is the wont for Mitsubishi’s on-board consumption figures, highway runs bring the figures down and we saw a best of 8.0L/100km on our last highway run.

On The Outside It’s: A refreshed nose and a tidy up of the much maligned rear lights. These have the vertical stripes shortened and now stop at the horizontal shut line in the powered rear door that matches the join line of the bumper. The front end sees a slim-down of the shield grille and headlights, and it’s a tighter, cleaner, design. A higher bonnet line also adds to the cleaner presence. The tailgate is powered and now features a hands-free, kick operated, sensor to open.The 18 inch alloys fitted are available as an option on the other vehicles, and have Toyo 265/60 Open Country rubber. These sit nicely in the large wheel wells.

On The Inside It’s: Been given a new display for the driver and a new smartphone-link Display Audio (SDA) system via the 8.0 touchscreen includes TomTom navigation for the Exceed model only, and utilises both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A newly developed Mitsubishi app can pair the vehicle to the app, which remotely allows power tailgate operation and engine shut-off.Some interior changes have added to one key feature and appeal level: family. There is now a proper Australian specification power outlet at the rear base of the centre console along with a dual USB port, There are a pair up front plus a HDMI port for playback on the touchscreen. A subtle redesign for the centre console has been done and provides a look more in keeping with society’s keen eyes nowadays. An under-seat tray has been installed for the passenger seat and there’s been extra padding added throughout the cabin.The driver’s display has been given the most visible overhaul. This is also an 8.0 colour screen in the Exceed, and a steering wheel tab provides two similar but different screens. One has the rev counter encircling the speedometer reading and the other has a traditional speed look. It’s modern, upmarket, and flanked by temperature and fuel gauges it has a measure of class as well.Front seats come with heating, no venting, and aren’t the best going in respect to support. They’re a bit flat, a bit slabby, and aren’t the first word in support. That’s disappointing given the Pajero Sport has off road driving ability and a grab handle isn’t quite enough.

Interior space is family friendly. 1,022mm head room up front and 1,067mm leg room for the front row starts the party. 880mm and 695mm leg room for rows two and three are enough for most families and passenger carrying. At the rear the cargo goes from 131L with all seats up to a very handy 1,488L with the centre and rear rows laid flat. The rear seats are typical Mitsubishi, by the way, with that superbly simple pull-strap system for raising and lowering them. Staying with the family friendly theme is having six cup holders and four bottle holders distributed around the cabin for easy access.One niggle, however, was the windscreen wiper spray mechanism. There are just four jets and they’re not quite efficient. An arm mounted mechanism would be a better option.

On The Road It’s: Sluggish to get going, sluggish in overtaking, and overall somewhat disappointing, considering it’s no lightweight nor is it a heavyweight at 2,110kg dry. The easiest way to describe its driving prowess is to say the handbrake was partially on, or it was towing an anchor. It came as a surprise that it wasn’t as spritely as expected, and the very first thought was tyre pressures. Given the exceedingly professional nature of the staff that prepare the vehicles to be reviewed, it was no surprise that these also were fine.

The engine was surprisingly chattery, and in comparison to the vehicle swapped into, and to be reviewed next, the overall driving experience didn’t live up to expectations. The transmission was perhaps a standout, with super slick down-changes, excellent holding of gears on downhill drives, and was quick to respond to throttle change requests.

Steering feedback was a little vague yet response was quick. It’s got enough weight to require a little bit of “Armstrong” yet will allow moving the Pajero Sport around the shopping centre car park a relatively pain-free experience. Ditto for the brakes; they’re a little iffi-ish initially but provide more bite and feedback as the pedal travels south.

Actual off-road performance comes courtesy of the Super-Select system with high and low range four wheel drive, complete with locking centre and rear diffs for true mud-mauling, rock-climbing ability.What About Safety?: A “Multi-Around Monitor” as Mitsubishi calls it, which is a 360 degree camera view, along with Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Mitigation, Ultrasonic misacceleration Mitigation System (UMS), and the usual alerts for Rear Cross Traffic and Blind Spots are standard. Airbags are seven including driver’s kneebag.

What About Warranty And Service?: At the time of writing, Mitsubishi Australia are offering seven years or 150,000 kilometres warranty. This particular offer expires March 31, 2020. Servicing details can be found on the Mitsubishi Motors Australia website.

At The End Of The Drive. The 2020 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed is most definitely a family oriented vehicle. That’s made obvious by the features such as the USB ports, bottle holders, easy access for the rear seats, and more.

However, the drive experience lacks and more than expected. It really did comes as a surprise and having driven the previous version and when it was known as Challenger, we’d have to suppose there was something with this particular vehicle and not indicative of the range.

Organise your own test drive by contacting your local Mitsubishi dealer via their on-line contact form.

 

Korea Progression: 2020 Kia Sorento

Korea’s Kia has loaded up and fired broadsides in the battle to win a buyer’s heart in the thriving SUV passenger vehicle segment.

Kia Sorento.
Currently scheduled for an Australian release sometime mid-year, the updated Sorento has been given a substantial makeover. Key changes are to the exterior, particularly to the rear lights, front lights, and sheet-metal. There is a re-interpretation of the signature tiger nose grille, with a wider design that encompasses the headlights. The headlights have also been re-imagined with what Kia calls a “tiger eye” LED DRL, said to evoke the lines around a tiger’s eyes. The lower air intake is bracketed by a pair of wing shaped intakes that assist in funneling air around the sides of the 2020 Sorento.Kia’s added 10mm to the width taking it to a flat 1,900mm. It’s also longer by the same amount taking it to 4,810mm. The overhangs have been trimmed to give an impression of extra length and this has been helped by an increase in wheelbase length, up to 2,815mm from 2,780mm. Those changes hide the small 10mm increase in total height. Visually, the A-pillars have been pushed back making for a longer bonnet and a character line that draws the eye rearwards to the completely new rear lights. These are a more vertical styling and echo those seen on a premium U.K. brand, particularly with a three bar vertical theme. Underneath is a valance insert that gives the appearance of quad exhausts.Recognisable Sorento design cues and new ones are here. There’s the broad D-pillar at the rear, the poly-carbonate clad wheel arches, and the more modern “shark fin” window insert on the C-pillar. Sharper body mould crease lines also feature. Australian spec Sorentos will have a choice of seven exterior colours and four wheel sizes, from 17 to 20 inches in diameter.

Head inside and Kia’s designers have gone up a notch here. There’s an ultra-widescreen look for the driver and infotainment system, with a 12.3-inch digital driver instrument cluster paired with a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system. The engineers have placed a new haptic feedback system to assist in controlling some key features including the climate control. A new look has been applied to the centre stack too.Ambient lighting is now part of the mood-setting system for the interior. There is downlighting from underneath the dash and inside the door trims. Bose supply the sounds and smartphones have a wireless charge pad. Metallic look trim complements and contrasts with Nappa leather, embossed black cloth, or cloth and leather trimmed pews for a higher quality, more luxurious feel.

The new Sorento is based on Kia’s new third-generation ‘N3’ midsize SUV platform, providing superior space for people and cargo through more intelligent packaging. That platform is classified as a large car platform for Australia, by the way. The result is one of the most versatile and spacious cars in its class. It also allows a new range of engines including hybrids to be fitted to the engine bay. A PHEV, or Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, will also be available.

“Smartstream” is the name given. It will be a 1.6L turbo petrol engine, with a 1.49 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack and 44.2 kW electric motor. The new platform has the battery pack located under the floor below the front seat passenger. Peak torque is rated as 350Nm. Power is rated at around 170kW. Part of this power comes from Kia’s new Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) technology. This works on regulating valve opening time according to driving conditions, instead of operating on a fixed opening time. This boosts performance at low-to-mid engine speeds by between 2 and 3%, and enhances fuel efficiency by up to 3%. A diesel will be available for European markets and is currently yet to be confirmed for Australia. Transmission for the hybrid is a six speed auto and an eight speed for the diesel.

The new chassis has given more cargo space as well. Kia says an increase of 32% for the seven seater version and with all seats in use, up to 187L or 179L for the diesel or hybrid versions. There is also extra head, shoulder, and leg room. There’s more slide room for the second row, with an extra 45mm, and the third row armrest now has a smartphone tray.

Details and pricing will be confirmed closer to the expected release date.

2020 Nissan Patrol Ti: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Nissans largely overhauled Patrol. The big machine has two models, a refresh inside and out, and comes only with a petrol V8. That’s an interesting move given its legendary competitor, Land Cruiser, is diesel V8 only now. Patrol has Ti and Ti-L as the models available. There’s a distinct sense of which market this car is intended for and it’s not millenials or baby boomers…We pilot the Ti for a week.

How Much Does It Cost?: It’s cheaper than what you may think. $75,990 for the Ti and $91,990 for the more upmarket Ti-L. They’re the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail price. The Nissan website at mid-March 2020 says $85,606 as a starting point on a drive-away price, with the Ti-L from $102,646 drive-away.

Under The Bonnet Is: a massive 5.6L V8 producing 298kW and a hefty 560Nm of torque. That latter figure comes at 4,000rpm but there is no lack of urge below that. Exploit that urge and you’ll easily exceed the quoted (combined) figure of 14.4L/100 from the 140L tank. On our typical suburban drive loop it’s been hovering around 15.5L/100km. There’s a simple reason for that. Tare weight, the weight before adding passengers, fuel, etc, is a whopping 2,715 kilograms. That’s marginally heavier than the Land Cruiser with a diesel engine.Not unexpectedly there is no manual transmission, rather Sir or Madam can specify a seven speed auto or…a seven speed auto. It’s cogged perfectly to deal with the rev ranges for peak power and torque. And for those that can afford the petrol, towing is 3.5 tonnes.

On The Outside It’s: Big. The proverbial block of flats on wheels, to be precise. You step up and across to the seats, and it feels as if the head is ten feet above the surrounds. The external revamp has the front end virtually brand new yet, oddly in our opinion, doesn’t have the Nissan face as seen on the company’s other vehicles. That means no angular headlights and chromed Vee grille. Actually, that’s not quite true. There is a Vee but as it has to spread across a wide space it’s nearer a U with a flat bottom. Overall width is 1,995mm with a height close to that at 1,940mm for the Ti. Add another 15mm for the Ti-L. Length? 5,175mm and a wheelbase of 3,075mm. Wheels on the Ti are 265/70/18 with rubber being Bridgestone’s Dueler.The restyled front lights are the same basic shape as the chromed Vee (or U), flipped ninety degrees though. LED powered they make for a clean white light and crisp amber indicator. The rear lights are redesigned and have a classy look. The body itself is squared off, blocky, a three cube design if you will. It’s an imposing sight especially when coated in a deep Hermosa Blue.

On The Inside It’s: As roomy as you’d expect from the exterior dimensions. And not only is there plenty of centre row leg room, (yep, that’s right, centre row) it’s an eight seater. That in itself is unusual given most vehicles of the sort pack seven. And it is is with the Ti-L, by the way.The seats are leather clad but neither heated nor vented. For a premium vehicle and priced accordingly that’s a shocking oversight. The next hit to the nerves is the realisation that digital radio is not supplied in the Ti either. In order to source a digital station one must use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Or Bluetooth streaming. Otherwise there’s old school AM/FM, and a CD player. That’s in keeping with the woodgrain trim that is inserted into the two arches ahead of driver and passenger. It also emphasises a little more the sense of marketplace the Patrol Ti has in mind.

For the driver it’s a pair of analogue dials in a binnacle that has the tabs for accessing the various information sets. However the screen used is a tiny one and in black and white, not colour. That’s a complete 180 degree switch from expectations.The starter button is high up on the left side of the steering column, and easily spotted. That’s a good sign. The layout of the buttons for audio and aircon are easy to read and follow. The design and layout shows thoughtfulness here as it’s elegant and smart. The 8.0 inch touchscreen is similarly planned with good layout, a map screen that reads like the “old” paper versions, and a 360 degree camera display that’s crisp and clear. In the centre console is the drive mode selector. There’s a specific on-road tab, along with Sand, Snow, Mud, and a jog switch for low and high range. Hill Descent Control is here also.Although the audio system in the Patrol Ti is not DAB, it’s better than good enough. There’s enough low and high end to ably complement the mid-range vocals. The aircon is the same. The four vents up front had backup with a centre and rear seat vent system, and there are separate controls for the centre seat passengers, meaning an all-round balance is easy to achieve.

Room wise, well, that massive body and wheelbase ensure plenty of head, shoulder, and leg room for the first two rows, with the third row perhaps a compromise for the legs. Due to the ride-height, 273mm by the way, passengers step up and there’s no need for anyone under six feet in height to duck the head. That extra height and wheelbase allows for a departure angle of 26.3 degrees and an approach angle of 34.4 degrees.What About Safety?: Heated wing mirrors are a smart safety choice for cold days. Tyre Pressure Monitoring is standard and a full suite of other features such as Intelligent Emergency Braking, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Intelligent Cruise Control and Intelligent Lane Intervention add to the package. Lane Departure and Blind Spot Warning shake hands with Intelligent Blind Spot Intervention.

On The Road It’s: A sheer experience, an expression of what was expected didn’t eventuate. The Patrol has double wishbone front and rear suspension, but it’s the addition of Nissan’s Hydraulic Body Control that makes moving the Patrol Ti around in a suburban environment a far better than expected experience. To say it’s nimble is an understatement. Yes, it has a big turning circle but it’s not a “heavy” car to drive. The steering is as light as a system in a car half the size, the ride quality on tarmac, its natural home, is excellent, and acceleration is surprisingly rapid.

It’s expected that a four wheel drive capable vehicle would be spongy, roly-poly, and soft in the absorption. The Patrol Ti is the complete opposite. It’s tight, and one could equate the ride to almost sports car like, such is the tactile feel the driver experiences. Handling is set so the mass, and it’s noticeable in some circumstances, feels less that what it actually is. It was on wet roads that the front end felt as if it may nose away, even with that off-road suitable rubber. That was when that mass made itself felt, and on one particularly notorious downhill left-hander, the superb brakes were utilised to ensure just the right velocity was driven at.Getting the Patrol Ti underway is as easy as blinking. The usual start procedure of foot on brake, press starter has a quick whirr of the starter and a whiiish as there’s an injection of fuel. There’s a muted but noticeable V8 rumble from both ends. Engage Drive and a gentle squeeze has the machine slide away without fuss. Need to get a hustle on? No problems here. The engine and transmission mesh perfectly, and the 100 number appears in a time that has to be somewhere around the six second mark.

Around town it’s a quiet experience, and one easily controlled by the gentle press of either pedal. The brakes, as mentioned, are superb, and allow a finely tuned judging of where the pedal needs to be in relation to hauling up 3,000 kilos. That light steering is a miracle worker in tight spaces such as car parks for shopping centres, and the thought quick driveline makes it easier to readjust when a second in/out to correctly align is needed. And that body control means that it’s stable, confident, sits flat where it should.We regret that circumstances precluded a proper off-road test. We’ll take it as said it would be fine.

What About Warranty And Service?: 24/7 roadside assistance is part of the warranty package. There is capped price servicing for the first six which are required at every 10,000 klicks or six months. The rate ranges from $376 for the first to $860 for the fourth. Nissan now offers a five year and unlimited kilometre warranty.

At The End Of The Drive. The 2020 Nissan Patrol Ti’s revamp makes a blocky and solid machine look less intimidating that what it could be. The changes to the front end particular visually remove what the mind perceives as mass and heaviness. It’s also a far more elegantly styled front end to boot. It’s in profile that a true sense of its “bigness” reach out and slap the eyeballs. Then there’s the opening of the doors and seeing that TARDIS like space whilst realising it’s roomy because it’s big.What came as a pleasant and welcome surprise was just how easy it was to drive. Yes, there were times where an eye on the mirrors or cameras were required thanks to the length and cornering requirements, but there’s some serious hustle, some adept handling, and that background V8 tone to tickle the eardrums. For us, the lack of DAB audio isn’t a deal-breaker but it’s a surprising omission, as were the seat heaters/vents. The woodgrain trim isn’t to everyone’s taste either. And the monochrome driver’s info-screen is at odds with the rest of the presentation too.

Our lasting impression is that the Patrol Ti is not a vehicle for millennials, nor is it one for baby boomers. It gave us an impression that it’s one for people that live in rural areas and have a certain amount of income, to be polite. Although it proved it can live in the urban jungle, the Patrol Ti, like Land Cruiser, is better left to roam the wild outside of cities. More on the 2020 Nissan Patrol can be found here.

2020 Toyota C-HR Koba Hybrid: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Toyota’s C-HR. It’s a five door SUV/hatchback styled machine and complements the RAV4 offerings nicely. In late 2019 the two tier range was given a light refresh and now offers a hybrid drivetrain. That, however, is only available in the top of the range Koba, the best seller by the way. The entry level is either a 2WD or AWD, with the Koba adding the Hybrid 2WD as well. It’s a car that Toyota has built to a market and succeeded well in that respect.

How Much Does It Cost?: The range starts at $29,540 plus on roads. The Hybrid Koba starts from $36,440 plus ORC. In basic yellow the C-HR has a driveaway price (at the time of writing, March 2020) of around $33,185. Move to the Koba Hybrid with metallic paint and black roof, and we’re looking at $38,700.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 1.8L petrol engine and battery pack. The C-HR’s entry level has a 1.2L turbo four. Transmission is a Constantly Variable Transmission, with a low range style gear shift change via the drive selector. The petrol engine is rated as 72kW on its own, with the electric part supplying 53kW. However they’re downgraded to 90kW when combined. Peak torque is 142Nm. Economy, says Toyota, is rated as, on 91RON fuel, 4.3L/100km for the combined cycle. We achieved a best of 4.6L/100km.On The Outside It’s: A nosejob, headlights, tail lights, and new wheels. You’d need to side-by-side the former and current models to really pick the exterior differences. One that is visible is the change to scrolling indicators, not merely flashing. The Koba supplied had the black roof which minimises the almost hunchbacked cockroach look it has in profile. The Nebula Blue is a deep, rich, metallic shade and highlights the sharp creases on the front and rear doors plus really emphasises the big wheel arches. Rubber is Bridgestone Potenza’s 225/50/18 wrapping machined black painted alloys. The tailgate is manually operated and the space saver spare is placed under the cargo floor. There’s a smallish 318L here with the second row seats up.On The Inside It’s: Subtly different here too. The touchscreen in the C-HR Koba is larger, up to 8.0 inches from 6.1 inches. Unusually there is no DAB audio but Toyota has added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This is in line with (our guess that) Toyota is marketing this car for a certain group, a group happy to use technology that is handset based, either single or a couple, or a couple with a small child. Call it a gut feeling on that point.Otherwise it’s virtually unchanged. The Koba has leather trimmed seats, with minimal electric adjustment for the driver. There is plenty of piano black plastic in the centre console and centre of dash where smartly laid out aircon controls reside. The driver’s display incorporates, oddly, a G-Force meter along with power generation/distribution, expected range, consumption and more. The roof has the same embossed lining and the door trims are black plastic and charcoal cloth.The interior packaging is such that the rear seats sit higher up than the front seats. The rear door’s creaseline rises sharply, and with darkened glass it makes for a somewhat claustrophobic experience for rear seat passengers. babies, toddlers, small children would have no issue though.On the Road It’s: A typical CVT for driving, a decent chassis for the ride, and sorted well enough for the handling. The CVT saps power initially and with the hybrid system the engine kicks in at 20kph, just like the other hybrids in Toyota’s fleet. It will, however, get up to around 50kph before the petrol engine assists if using a very gentle right foot. Where Toyota excel in hybrid systems is the smoothness in switching between the engagement of the petrol and electric drives. Sink the slipper and there’s virtually no sense of anything mechanical moving with or against something else. Even at the nominal cut-in point of 20kph there’s a faint sense of something changing in the engine area but it’s so well modulated for most people the change wouldn’t be noticed.Highway driving showcases the best of the hybrid drive. It’s quiet, unobtrusive, and smooth in how it delivers to the front wheels. The dash display has Eco, Charge, and Power rather than a rev counter, and in cruise mode the needle hovers between Eco and Charge. Acceleration is enough for those that don’t expect sports car performance and it’s quick enough to suit those with some sporting pretensions. Thanks thanks to the on-tap torque an electric motor has and it ably backs up the petrol engine’s performance.

The engine revs easily but noisily, and perhaps the engine bay needs extra insulation. Watching the charge icon from the corner of the eye is enlightening too, as it dances between battery and engine power. Cruise along and the battery may be the primary source. Make a pass and watch the icons change as the petrol engine feeds power to both wheels and battery. the speedo needle responds in kind, and backing off the throttle sees the power needle gently sink back into Eco.

Steering is light enough to be twirled with one finger however there is also enough weight when required to give a sense of feedback. A sense only as it’s an isolated, numb, wheel otherwise. That’s in contrast to the adept suspension in the C-HR Koba. For all but the more unsettled surfaces the Koba does a decent enough job, and again won’t upset anyone other than its target market. And of course the brakes are spot on, as they should be for a hybrid system’s regenerative capability.

What About Safety?: Toyota’s Safety Sense package is standard across the range with Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beam, All-Speed Active Cruise Control and Pre-Collision Safety system with pedestrian detection. There is Forward Collision Warning, Brake Assist and Autonomous Emergency Braking, plus Rear Cross Traffic and Blind Spot alerts. Along with a reverse camera there is also a Panoramic View mode for the Koba. Airbags number seven and for the family there are three anchorage points.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres as standard for the warranty. An extra two years can be supplied if the car is serviced through a dealership. Do that and Toyota will cover the battery for up to ten years. There can even be seven years roadside assistance. Servicing is up to five years depending on model.At The End Of The Drive. We’re of the opinion that Toyota’s marketing team and their R&D team sat down at lunch one day and thrashed out a car that would appeal to the masses. But the masses would be of a certain age group and lifestyle. We’re talking a group born in the 1990s, single or a couple, and with either no children or a toddler, no older. Why? The C-HR Koba Hybrid isn’t a big car, will seat no more than four and with an enclosed style rear passengers would be non-adult.

With app connections for audio, rather than a DAB tuner it caters to the tech-savvy, and allows a broader range of sourcing music and navigation applications. It’s a green car with a hybrid drive system and it’s economical to run as well, another appealing factor.

Dynamically it rides and handles well enough to deal with people that will readily admit to knowing little about cars and see the C-HR as something a little out of the ordinary.

Make up your own mind by taking one for a test drive and checking it out here.

2020 Toyota Supra GT: Private Fleet Car Review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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