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2021 Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge PHEV: Private Fleet Car Review

Hybrid technology is becoming a way of life in the automotive world and ranges from the everyday car to the ultra luxury. Somewhere in between is Volvo and their hybrid SUV “Recharge” offerings. The big ‘un, the XC90, is now partially electrified and available as a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle or PHEV.Complete with a solid list of standard equipment and extras, their is a Manufacturer’s recommended list price and as driven price of $114,990 and $120,715.

The key to what turned out to be a surprisingly rapid and agile big SUV is a 2.0L petrol fed engine that is both supercharged and turbocharged. The EV part comes from a battery that assists and electric motor that produces, says Volvo, 65kW and 240Nm to work with the petrol powerplant’s 246kW and 440Nm. That torque figure comes in at 2,200rpm and runs to 4,400rpm.

This endows the hefty, at 2,315kg, XC90, with ferocious speed, albeit limited to 180kph as a top speed. It will easily see the freeway limit in 5.5 seconds, and overtake others at a rate that would have Superman blink in astonishment. Along the way, Volvo says economy is rated at 2.1L/100km from a 70L tank.Herein lies the rub. The battery, when fully charged, offers just 35km of range on battery power alone. In conjunction with the drive modes, such as (mild) off-road, and the Polestar engineering mode, this is possible but in the real world mostly not. To extract the best out of the combination, it’s highway cruising that needs to be employed as the battery runs down to a point that it no longer really assists but will supplement in a reduced capacity. To that end we saw a final overall figure of 6.4L/100km, in itself a better than respectable figure for the mass of the XC90 Recharge.The Four-C Active Chassis suspension is height adjustable thanks to electronically controlled airbags being employed and does so with the drive modes programming. It’ll also lower in height when the XC90 Recharge is switched off via the centre console located rotary dial. Here one would think that the ride quality is not that good. It’s the opposite, and although not quite completely dialing out the artificial feel airbag suspension setups have, it’s never anything less than comfortable.

Up front is a double wishbone transverse link setup, with the rear a integral axle transverse leaf spring composition. Together they bring a wholly adept ride and handling package to the XC90 Recharge, along with the grip levels thanks to the 22 inch double spoke black painted and diamond cut alloys. Pirelli supply the rubber and they’re 275/35s from the famous P-Zero range.Although a thin sidewall, the suspension is clearly tuned with that in mind, such is the poise and lack of bump-thump displayed. And those wide tyres add so much tenacity in being able to corner harder and longer when enjoying that flexibility from underneath the bonnet.

Steering is precise, and mayhaps too precise for some used to oodles of understeer or numbness. It’s perfectly weighted and for the size of the wheels and rubber, there’s a pleasing lack of “ponderous”. It’s more a delight than it has the right to be, and nimble enough in the feel to make it a small to mid-sized hatch rather than the large SUV it really is.

Rolling acceleration delivers in that “pin you back in the seat” manner, especially when the battery is charged. Although untimed, that quoted 5.5 seconds, too, is on the mark from a seat of the pants point of view.Recharge of the battery from the brakes is on a graduated level. Drive, once the ignition dial is switched, is engaged by a simple tap forward or backwards lever just ahead of the switch, and a tap back from Drive changes the amount of braking regenerative force that feeds the battery. Although needing a very long hill to make any appreciable impact, there is enough noticeable retardation and a small increase in range seen in the dash display.

Volvo have kept the fact that it’s a PHEV quiet. Apart from the numberplate fitted, there is the charge port on the front left fender and a badge on the powered tailgate with “Recharge”. Aside from the hole for that charge port, which opens at the press of a hand to reveal a weatherproofed, covered, port, it’s an invisible PHEV presence.The exterior is otherwise unchanged, from the Thor’s hammer driving lights and indicators to the LED rear lights, it’s a curvaceously boxy body. Inside there’s luxury in the form of the Bowers and Wilkins audio, leather seats, the integrated tablet-style infotainment screen, and LCD dash display. Run a drive destination into the navigation and the centre of the LCD driver’s screen shows the map. There is also a subtle, and almost lost, HUD display.Rear seats have their own climate control and the capacious cargo area (651L to 1,950L) has plenty of high quality carpeting and switches for the powered tailgate. There is a bag for the charge cable and a hook to hang it from. There is also a cargo blind which was in the way when it comes to moving the third row seats and no obviously apparent storage locker for it too.Controls for the car are embedded in the touchscreen, with climate control including venting/heating for the front seats, safety features, and smartapps such as Spotify and TuneIn included. The tablet style screen works on swiping left and right for the main info, and a pulldown from the top for settings and an electronic instruction manual.

Our review car came with options fitted; Climate pack which has heating for the windscreen washers, rear seat, and tiller at $600. The centre row seats has powered folding headrests at $275, whilst metallic paint is a hefty $1,950. The Nappa leather covered seats in charcoal to match the trim is $2,950.It’s a Volvo so those letters can be pronounced “safety”. Volvo has their CitySafe package, with Pedestrian, Vehicle, Large Animal, Cyclist Detection, and Intersection Collision Mitigation. Intellisafe Assist has Adaptive Cruise Control with Pilot Assist, Collision Warning with Auto Brake (which picks up parked cars on corners…), and Intellisafe Surround that includes Blind Spot Information System, Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Collision warning (which stops the car from moving if sensors pick up an obstacle), and airbags throughout the cabin.At The End Of The Drive. There is something to be said for the brands, in the automotive sense, that are leading the charge (no pun intended) towards hybrid and fully EV availabililty. Brands such as Jaguar have announced they’ll be fully EV by 2025, for example. Volvo, under the chequebook auspices of Geely, continue to produce the classy and safety-oriented vehicles they’re renowned for, and push towards a more expansive hybrid range.As potent as the petrol engine is on its own, the short distance available from battery power alone and as a backup for hybrid driving detracts somewhat from the intent, especially for our wide brown land. In Europe where you can drive through seventeen towns in the time it takes to sneeze four times, it’s a different story.

For the driver, it’s a sports car in a big car body, and just happens to be able to carry up to seven people in comfort and knowledge of safety thanks to the famous Volvo safety heritage. In the competition area there are the three German brands against it, and in a purely EV sense, Tesla’s Model X, complete with its lights and door dance routine for entertainment value. In a tough market segment, sometimes the difference can be small to see in value but Volvo assures that the extra range capability is coming. That will help the XC90 increase its appeal.

Thanks to Volvo Australia for the provision of the 2021 XC90 T8 Recharge.

 

The European EV Compass

The best of European engineering and technology has always been considered to be some of the finest the world has to offer (particularly German, Swedish and British engineering).  However, with the advancement in microelectronics and electrical know-how that is coming from the Asian parts of the world, there is little time to be had before German, Swedish, Dutch and British (to name a few) technology giants, and automotive and engineering giants, could get swallowed up and placed in the history books.

It might be that to counter the advancement (or even to just keep pace with) of big Chinese, USA, Korean and Japanese automotive, electronics and digital giants, that it’ll likely take a collective pan-European approach in tech-innovation and mobility transformational advancements.  The movement is happening in Europe but is it fast enough?

Rather than each country try and do it alone, a pan-European alliance for the electric mobilization of Europe along with the coordination and alignment of national policies would be far more capable of countering the competition from the USA and China.  Being able to pool assets, funding, supply chain networks, research and development, battery production, electronic charging point networks, power storage technology, recharging technology and Pan Eurpean policy initiatives that promote market entry for electric vehicles (EVs) will go a long way to keep Europe at the forefront of transport design and innovation.

With the spotlight heavily focusing on environmentally-friendly transport, EVs and driverless cars, and their growing numbers filling the roads up in Asia and in Europe, the rest of the world will also need to catch up with the technology, or change to other manufacturing designs instead.  Now and into the future we are seeing how global status, energy and transport are directly linked to each other.  Renewable electricity generation and storage at the national level is an assignment across Europe that is a huge task on any given day, but its roll-out also needs to quicken its pace.  Politics will play an important role for European countries to pull together to use renewable energy, energy networks and EV and Fuel Cell vehicle technologies.

Demanding logistical changes like this also calls for an adoption of a new social perspective on this new way of doing transport, even new way of life, whether that be in purchasing a new energy efficient car or pooling together to get from A to B or using environmentally friendly public transport.  Not everyone can cycle to work!  The automotive landscape in Europe is changing, just as it is globally.  Government policy will play a leading role in moderating and coordinating the transformation of the automotive industry into new ways of doing transport for the people.

At European local government levels, there also requires the push to implement the urban-transport transformation towards emission-free and fossil-fuel-less transport systems.  Urban and development planning needs to promote the electric charging infrastructure, as well as providing big financial benefits and incentives for the public to change from fossil-dependent transport to the use of EVs.  Global carbon emission goals are driving the need to steer away from fossil fuels.

In the future, there would seem to be few chances to succeed as a nation if smaller countries choose to go it alone.  Then again, maybe that’s what Australia, NZ, UK and Japan might do best; they could be attractive in their own right if they did emission-free transport their own unique way, unconnected with the rest of the world’s EV and driverless vehicle systems.

Aussie’s Rosco aiming for 1000 mph

Aussie Invader 5R

It might be a bit hard to call it a conventional car but then it’s not really a conventional car in the sense that the Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car looks more plane/rocket in its appearance.  The Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car boasts an insanely long arrow-shaped design with three wheels, large aerodynamic wind deflectors and an engine with close to 150,000 kW!  Yes, that’s correct; you did read that figure correctly.  To put that in perspective, an Aussie V8 Supercar puts out, on average, around 475 kW of power.  Now, if you’ve ever experienced the wonderful roar of these V8s when they blast by around the circuit, then you can understand the aura of such kW potency.  But this Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car makes as much power as 316 of these Aussie V8 Supercars put together! The Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car is powered by a single bi-propellant rocket reportedly capable of producing upwards of 62,000 lbf of thrust.  That’s over four times more than a Boeing 737 jet!

Founder and designer of the new Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car, Rosco McGlashan, has the world’s fastest land speed record in his sights.  He will reportedly be the pilot of the 16-metre long, nine-tonne steel-framed vehicle.  And the target?  The target top speed of 1609 km/h (1000 mph) would be the fastest of any land-going vehicle, ever. And 1000 mph would see it blitz the current land speed record held by the Noble Thrust SSC on a Nevada salt flat in 1997, which averaged 1223.7 km/h and broke the sound barrier while doing so.

Rosco McGlashan

Rosco McGlashan would like to set the new record next year once all the Covid palaver is over-and-done-with, and it will likely be set somewhere in the Queensland or Western Australian desert.  Rosco is no stranger to setting speed records; he is already the holder of the Australian land speed record, where in 1994 he clocked 802.6 km/h behind the wheel of a jet-powered predecessor to the Aussie Invader 5R out on the dry salt flats of Lake Gairdner, near Adelaide.  He has, after all, built all of his drag racing, exhibition, and land-speed racing vehicles himself over the years in a shed at his home.

Rosco has accurate computer modelling on the Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car, which suggests that the Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car will have enough power and thrust for launching the car from 0-100 km/h in approximately 1.1 seconds.  It should reach its target of 1000 mph in less than 30 seconds.  Slowing the Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car down is no mean feat and will thus will require a full 13 km of flat desert just to stop it.  A multi-stage deployment of high-speed hydraulic air brakes, mid-speed parachutes, and low-speed disc brakes have been designed to activate progressively to safely bring the vehicle to a halt.

Picking an exact location will depend largely on which organization or individual steps up as the primary sponsor for the effort. As will the practical necessity of having 5 km of flat desert for getting up to speed plus another 13 km to stop it.

Aussie Invader 5R

Hyundai Caught Up in Global Battery Pack Recall

Hyundai Australia is at the centre of a recall affecting roughly 1100 local electric vehicles sold since 2018 including the popular Hyundai Kona and Hyundai Ioniq, with the vehicles considered at risk of catching fire while recharging. In total, however, the global recall encompasses an estimated 82,000 electric vehicles, which will each require a new battery pack replacement at a grand cost of around $1.1 billion.

It marks one of the first major recalls by any brand as far as battery pack recalls or replacements. While recalls are somewhat par for the course in the automotive industry, EVs have largely escaped a similar fate thus far, with this new development potentially proving a watch-point for a segment of the industry that is looking to generate increased interest among new car buyers.

The recall comes in response to a number of reports overseas where electric vehicles have caught fire. At this stage, there are an estimated 30 cases that have been documented, with some customers advised to limit the charging of their existing batteries to 90% so as to not introduce any risk until such time that the batteries have been replaced.

Commenting on the matter, Lee Hang-koo, senior researcher at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade, believes “It’s very significant for both Hyundai and LG as we are in the early stages of the electric vehicle era…How Hyundai handles this will set a precedent not just in South Korea but also for other countries.”

 

 

In news that further complicates things, some of the vehicles involved in this latest recall were already singled out last year for being burdened by a separate recall related to electrical problems.

It has also sparked a bit of a war of words between manufacturer and supplier, with Hyundai and LG at odds as to the reasons behind the potential fault.

In the case of Hyundai, South Korean government authorities did the wagering on their behalf, claiming various defects were found in some battery cells produced by battery supplier LG out of its Chinese factory. On the other hand, LG accused Hyundai of misapplying its suggestions regarding the functional operation of fast-charging for its battery management system, dismissing the notion that its battery cells were a direct cause of the fire risks.

Regardless where the issue lies, with this being one of the first major recalls affecting the central technology underpinning the shift to electric vehicles, not only will Hyundai and LG be keen for a quick resolution to the matter, but a number of other parties will be watching closely hoping to avoid any similar shortfall in terms of quality control.

Nissan X-Trail Updates For 2021.

Nissan has provided the X-Trail SUV with a solid list of updates for 2021, bring the mid-sized and popular machine into line with its competition.Across all trim levels, Nissan adds in Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. For the ST-L and above, Intelligent Driver Alert (IDA) is added, whilst for the ST and TS models, DAB audio, finally, has been added. One hopes the screen interface has been updated too and it seems so as they say the next-gen infotainment system for 7.0 inch touchscreens will be standard. The ST-L trim level also has new 18 inch wheels. The ST and TS level also will have voice recognition added in.The X-Trail also sees an increased safety presence and it’s extensive. Model dependent, buyers will see items such as the aforementioned IDA, plus Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Cruise Control, Intelligent Emergency Braking and Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection. The front (model dependent) will have an Adaptive Front Lighting System, Blind Spot Warning, and Moving Object Detection. Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Intervention, and Around View Monitor, will also be seen.

ST and TS will share 17 inch alloys, idle stop/start for the diesel engines, rear view camera, and Intelligent Emergency Braking with Forward Collision Warning plus Vehicle Dynamic Control. The diesel will be a five seater only, a curious choice given the better, low revving, torque characteristics of diesels which make them far better for carrying passengers.

ST-L has a leather accented tiller and seats, with the front seats having eight and four way power adjustment for the driver and passenger. Ti takes the luxury touches even further with heated door mirrors, LED headlights with self-leveling and swiveling, rain sensing wipers, plus a motion sensing tailgate. Rear seats have heating elements as does the steering wheel, whilst a glass roof can open to share the sounds from an eight speaker Bose audio system. 19 inch alloys underpin the Ti.

Motorvation comes courtesy of a 2.0L petrol engine with 106kW and 200Nm, and 2.5L with 126kW and 226Nm. A 2.0L diesel offers 130kW and 380Nm and that’s available from 2,000rpm. Economy for that is quoted as 6.0L/100km (combined). The smaller petrol engine is quoted as 8.2L/100km (ST manual) with the 2.5L at 7.9L/100km and available in the ST, ST-L, and Ti. Tanks are 60.0L for all models.

The 2WD-only 2.0-litre powered X-TRAIL ST uses a smooth-shifting six- speed manual transmission, whereas all 2.5-litre variants (available in both 2WD and 4WD) are mated to Nissan’s Xtronic CVT with manual mode (MCVT). This transmission’s broad gear ratio coverage and low-friction design help deliver strong acceleration and fuel economy. The AWD systems have a console centre dial with 2WD, Auto (torque split on demand) and Lock.

Pricing starts from $30,665 (plus ORC) for the ST manual, $32,665 (plus ORC) for the CVT five seater and $34,265 (plus ORC) for the seven seater. These are two wheel drive only. The ST CVT AWD is an extra $400. TS AWD diesel auto starts from $37,465 plus ORC.

ST-L is two wheel drive five and seven seater, and AWD, with $38,525, $40,125, and $40,525 plus ORC. Ti is AWD only and starts from $45,965 plus ORC and includes tan leather and no extra cost.

A Class-C Update From Mercedes.

Mercedes-Benz have updated their evergreen C-Class saloon and Estate with what Gordon Wagener, the chief design officer of the Daimler group said reflected the desire to apply “sensual purity”. It’s due for release in the northern hemisphere’s summer season.

Mercedes-Benz C-Klasse, 2021 // Mercedes-Benz C-Class, 2021

The new C-Class will feature both forms of hybrid tech, being petrol and PHEV, and will run 48V technology. The battery alone will power the C-Class for up to 100 kilometres, the company says. The petrol engines will be four cylinders from what M-B call FAME (Family of Modular Engines). Along with turbocharging both the petrol and diesel engines the C-Class will have, M-B add in an ISG or integrated starter-generator. This provides low speed assistance using a 48 volt on-board electrical system that ensures functions such as gliding, boosting or energy recovery. Fast re-engagement has seamless switching from off to on when at lights or a stop sign.

Two engines with petrol will be available, one of 1.5L, the other of 2.0L. 125kW/250Nm for the C180, 150kW/300Nm for the C200 and C200 4MATIC from the 1.5L, with 190kW/400Nm for the C300 and C300 3MATIC versions. A pair of 2.0L diesels factor in, with 147kW/440Nm and 195kW/550Nm. Top speeds are limited at the upper end of the range to 250kph.

The plug-in hybrid C-Class will operate in all-electric mode in many cases thanks to an electric output of 95 kW (129 hp) and an all-electric range of around 100 kilometres. For many areas in Europe this could mean little to no ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) usage. The battery is an in-house design and built in a “pouch configuration” with 96 cells, with a total capacity of 25.4kWh. There is an internal cooling system fitted, managing heat discharge in any driving environment. The high density structure allows a charge rate of 30 minutes to full from empty using a 55kW charger. An 11kW charger is standard.

Mercedes-Benz C-Klasse, 2021 // Mercedes-Benz C-Class, 2021

Energy recovery rates can be driver controlled via rocker switches in the console across all driving modes except for Sport. Lifting the foot from the accelerator has the regenerative system act like brakes, slowing the C-Class whilst simultaneously feeding back energy to the battery. Mercedes-Benz have engineered in two additional driving modes which will enable the driver to take advantage of what the powertrain offers: BATTERY HOLD: Maintaining the charge state of the high-voltage battery is given priority, e.g. when intending to drive in a city centre or green zone later on; selection of the most suitable drive configuration by the hybrid powertrain system, depending on the driving situation and route, and ELECTRIC: Electric driving up to 140 km/h, adjustable energy recovery rate in overrun mode, adaptation of Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC for electric driving, activation of the combustion engine using a pressure point of the accelerator pedal (kick-down).

Extra tech sees optional rear-axle steering with 2.5 degrees of angle reducing a turning circle to 10.5 metres. These have the rear wheels in an opposite direction in steering at speeds up to 60kph, then align with the direct front steering above 60kph. The rear steering also effectively reduces the steering ratio to 2.1 turns lock to lock, down from 2.35.

Notable changes to both the saloon and wagon have seen increase to the overall dimensions. The previous model saloon jumps from 4,686mm to 4,751mm in length, the Estate from 4,702mm to 4,751mm. Width is up by 10mm and 20mm respectively to 1,820mm each. Both share an increased wheelbase of 2,865mm, up from 2,840mm each. Luggage capacity for the Estate ranges from 490L to 1,510L, with a slightly lower load lip, and the rears eats have a 40/20/40 split for extra versatility. A powered tailgate is standard across the range.

Australian delivery dates are yet to be confirmed.

Mercedes-Benz C-Klasse, 2021 // Mercedes-Benz C-Class, 2021

Isn’t It IONIQ…BEV And E-GMP Hyundai IONIQ5 On The Way

Hyundai have given to the world two more new automotive acronyms. BEV (battery electric vehicles) and E-GMP (Electric-Global Modular Platform) are attached to the new IONIQ5. Classed as a mid-sized SUV, it’s due in Australia sometime in Q3 (July to September) 2021.

The IONIQ 5 will have two battery pack options, either 58 kWh or 72.6 kWh, and two electric motor layouts, either with a rear motor only or with both front and rear motors. All PE variations provide outstanding range and deliver a top speed of 185 km/h.

The E-GMP platform sees Hyundai exploring design and engineering boundaries, with the base platform here providing a wheelbase of 3,000mm (100mm more than Palisade) inside an overall length of 4,635mm. The battery pack is expected to provide a driving range of up to 470km. A pair of motors will propel the IONIQ5 to 100kph in just over five seconds thanks to 225kW and 605Nm in all wheel drive mode when using the Long Range Battery. Go to the standard battery and there’s an expected 0-100 time of 6.1 seconds.

A key feature of the BEV is the ultra-fast charging, with 10% to 80% in 18 minutes of charge, and the platform will support 400V and 800V infrastructure. This also enables a range of 100km in five minutes worth of charging. A feature growing in stature, the ability to output charge, is also aboard. IONIQ 5 also provides an innovative V2L function, which allows customers to freely use or charge any electric devices, such as electric bicycles, scooters or camping equipment, serving as a charger on wheels with up to 3.6kW of power using what Hyundai called the V2L (Vehicle To Load) function. The port to connect and output will be placed under the second row seats. An external port is also fitted and can charge other devices whilst the IONIQ5 is powered down.

Thomas Schemera, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer, said: “IONIQ 5 will accommodate lifestyles without limits, proactively caring for customers’ needs throughout their journey. It is truly the first electric vehicle to provide a new experience with its innovative use of interior space and advanced technologies.”

Hyundai says the IONIQ5’s exterior heralds a new chapter in their design, with the vehicle equipped with Hyundai’s first clamshell hood which minimises panel gaps for optimal aerodynamics. The front bumper is defined by an eye-catching V-shape incorporating distinctive DRLs that provide an unmistakable light signature which is a bespoke IONIQ5 look. These small pixel-like clusters also appear at the rear of the vehicle. Colour choices will have nine for the exterior, three inside. Obsidian Black and Dark Pebble Gray/Dove Gray, while the optional colour pack offers Dark Teal/Dove Gray.

There are auto-retracting door handles that will provide a styling for a clean surface look, which also will increase aerodynamic efficiency. A distinctive C-pillar, derived and inspired from a previous EV concept, identifies the IONIQ5 from a distance.

Hyundai has a design brief they’ve termed Parametric Pixel and this is seen in the 20 inch diameter aero wheels. SangYup Lee, Senior Vice President and Head of Hyundai Global Design Centre, says: “A new mobility experience for the next generation – this was the mission from the first day we began this project, to look ahead towards the horizon, but stay fundamentally Hyundai,” said . “IONIQ 5 is the new definition of timeless, providing a common thread linking our past to the present and future.”

The interior has a “Living Space” theme which shows a movable centre console, the Universal island, with a travel of 140mm. Batteries are located in the floor, making for a flat surface and aiding interior space. The powered front seats have been reduced in thickness for better rear seat space. It’s a “green”car, with eco-friendly, sustainably sourced materials, such as recycled PET bottles, plant-based (bio PET) yarns and natural wool yarns, eco-processed leather with plant-based extracts, and bio paint with plant extracts used in areas such as the seats, door trim, headlining, and floor.

Interior design sees 531L of cargo space at the rear, with nearly 1,600L on offer with the second row seats folded. A front cargo area, or as it’s known, a “frunk” (front trunk).

With Remote Charging, IONIQ 5 drivers can start and stop charging with the push of a button on their smartphone app. During colder months, Remote Climate Control allows users to schedule pre-heating of IONIQ 5 while it is connected to an external power source. Not only does this ensure comfort for occupants during the drive, but it also saves battery power that would otherwise be needed to heat the vehicle on the road.

IONIQ 5’s Dynamic Voice Recognition system accepts simple voice commands to conveniently control cabin A/C, radio, hatch opening/closing, heated steering wheel, heated/cooled seats and other functions. The system can also assist with various points of interest (POI), weather status and stock market data updates.

IONIQ 5 also features a premium Bose sound system. Its eight speakers, including a subwoofer, are strategically placed throughout the vehicle for a high-quality listening experience.

IONIQ 5 will be available in selected regions starting in the first half of 2021, with Australia set to launch in Q3 2021.

Mazda Adds GT SP To CX-5 And Updates Range

Japanese car maker Mazda has released details of an update to the CX-5. This includes the GT SP model being added in. Vinesh Bhindi, the Managing Director for Mazda Australia, says: “Mazda CX-5 has been our most popular model since 2019, and we are excited to expand the brand’s new SP model line into the CX-5 range with the first-ever GT SP.”

SP is a bespoke add-in for Mazda CX-9 plus can be found in the Mazda6 sedan and wagons. For the CX-5 GT SP, there is piano black side mirror covers and black metallic 19-inch alloy wheels, black interior trim highlights and seats finished in a bespoke black Maztex and Grand Luxe Synthetic Suede upholstery. The seats and trim also feature contrasting red stitching.

Power comes from normally or turboed petrol engines that sip 91RON fuel. Other versions of the CX-5 have diesels, front wheel drive or all wheel drive, plus six speed manuals.

In the CX-5 Maxx, and Maxx Sport front-wheel drive, is a direct-injected 2.0-litre Skyactiv-G petrol engine. This features a high 13.0:1 compression ratio to maximise internal efficiency and generates 115kW at 6,000rpm. Peak torque is 200Nm at 4,000rpm. Combined-cycle fuel economy sits at 6.9L/100km for the six-speed manual Maxx as well as the six-speed automatic Maxx and Maxx Sport. Combined CO2 is 160g/km for the manual and 161g/km for the automatic.

Step up a level to the i-Activ AWD Maxx and Maxx Sport and there is the bigger 2.5-litre Skyactiv-G petrol engine. This is also the standard engine for the Touring, GT, GT SP and Akera model grades. Standard transmission is a six speed auto, with power and torque rated as 140kW at 6,000rpm and 252Nm at 4,000rpm.

The Skyactiv-D is a 2.2L unit and has a pair of turbos. This endows the engine with massive flexibility, with 450Nm of torque on tap at 2,000rpm, and peak power of 140kW. It’s available in Maxx Sport, Touring, GT and Akera models with automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Economy is rated at 5.7L/100km. Go to the Skyactiv-G 2.5T, which is available on GT and above levels, and it produces 170kW at 5,000rpm and 420Nm available from 2,000rpm. Economy is rated at 8.2L/100km on the combined cycle.

Trim and equipment levels include the brand’s latest 10.25 inch Mazda Connect touchscreen for the Mazda CX-5 GT, GT SP and Akera models. Maxx, Maxx Sport and Touring variants will be fitted with an 8.0 inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard across the range. The Maxx now has 17 inch alloys, replacing the steel wheels previously fitted.

Safety packages are high with the CX-5’s five star safety rating backed up by Blind Spot Monitoring, Smart City Brake Support [Forward/Reverse] with night time pedestrian detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Land Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist. Additional safety equipment includes Front LED fog lamps for Maxx Sport and above levels, front parking sensors for Touring and above, an Active Driving Display for Touring and above, plus a 360 degree monitor and adaptive LED headlights for the Akera.

Specifications start with the Maxx with 17-inch alloy wheels and 225/65 tyres, rain sensing wipers, DAB audio and Bluetooth hands-free phone/audio connection. Maxx Sport adds dual-zone climate control, paddle shift gear selection on the auto, satnav, and an auto-dimming rear vision mirror. Touring models offer heated exterior mirrors, front parking sensors, Traffic Sign Recognition, and Active Driving Display. Seating has Black Maztex and Black Grand Luxe Synthetic Suede upholstery.

GT models offer 19-inch alloy wheels with 225/55 tyres, a sunroof, powered tailgate, front seat heating with 2 position memory for the driver and 10 and 6 way power adjustment (driver and passenger), a Bose sound system, and the aforementioned 10.25 inch touchscreen. Bose provides a 10 speaker sound system.

The new GT SP adds in black metallic 19-inch alloy wheels and black exterior mirror caps, with the interior gaining black Maztex and Black Grand Luxe Synthetic Suede seat upholstery with red contrast stitching in the black leather trim. Akera spices up with a 360 degree View Monitor, Brilliant Dark 19 inch alloys, vented front pews, a heated tiller, heating on the rear seats’ outers ection and dark russet Nappa leather. The driver has a 7.0 inch TFT screen, and genuine wood trim adorns the door and dash. Paint colours include Snowflake White Pearl White Mica, Titanium Flash Mica, Eternal Blue Mica, Deep Crystal Blue Mica and Jet Black Mica plus Sonic Silver Metallic at no extra cost.

Premium metallic paints are available at $495 (MRLP) and include Machine Grey Metallic, Polymetal Grey Metallic and Soul Red Metallic. Pricing starts at $31,190 plus ORC for the Maxx Petrol Manual FWD, $33,190 plus ORC for the auto FWD whilst the AWD sees $36,190 plus ORC. Maxx Sport FWD with auto and petrol is $36,490 plus ORC and the AWD is $39,490. Diesel AWD Maxx Sport starts from $42,490 plus ORC.

Touring Petrol Auto AWD is $41,280 plus ORC, Touring Diesel Auto AWD is $44,280 plus ORC. GT Petrol Auto AWD starts from $46,990 plus ORC, petrol turbo from $46,490 plus ORC, with the diesel from $49,990 plus ORC. GT SP Petrol auto AWD from $47,490 plus OC, with the turbo version from $49,990 plus ORC. The Akera Petrol Auto AWD starts from $49,380 plus ORC, Akera Petrol Turbo Auto AWD from
$51,880 plus ORC, and Akera Diesel Auto AWD from $52,380 plus ORC.

Japanese New Model Onslaught: Mitsubishi, Nissan, Honda.

The third week of February 2021 has been a busy week for the three major Japanese car makers. Mitsubishi has unveiled the new Outlander, Honda their new HR-V, and Nissan’s shown their updated Qashqai.

Outlander.
There’s a substantially redesigned machine ready to roll out from Mitsubishi, with the Outlander gaining a more distinctive “Dynamic Shield” grille, relocated headlights, and a redesigned rear window line. There’s a new base platform, and Mitsubishi have bolted in a new 2.5L petrol engine.

The front sees the headlights lowered to the mid-section of the bumper, not unlike the designs from Hyundai in the Santa Fe. This has the leading edges of the fenders draw a visual line to the combined LED driving lights and indicators. Relocating the main lights fills out a bluffer looking front bar, and Mitsubishi says it will also aid light distribution. This also has the now familiar chromed strip that Mitsubishi employs on its SUVs brought around further to the bottom of the relocated lights.

The tailgate has a recessed panel look, said to evoke the section on the ‘gate where the now cancelled Pajero had its iconic spare wheel cover. This sits between redesigned taillights, slimmer in form, and part of a squarer look to the section, with the D-pillar a solid triangular shape.

Inside and there is a familiar yet new look to the cabin. The ambience is of a higher level than before, with the top models of a luxury orientation not seen before in Outlander. On upper models the driver has a 12.3 inch digital display, lower versions a still good-sized 7.0 inch digital screen. The main centre screen, says Mitsubishi, will be a 9.0 size depending on trim levels. Bose supply the sounds with a dual subwoofer, ten speaker, system.

Smartphones are catered for with USB-C and USB-A charge ports and a wireless pad. Passenger comfort is backed up via a seating arrangement that allows for a three row, seven seater, configuration, including a centre row that can be a two seater to allow items such as skis to be placed down the middle. Safety goes up too, with a total of 11 airbags, including a front center airbag for the driver’s seat and side airbags for the second-row seats.

Sales start in April for the North American market, with Australia due probably late in Q3.

Qashqai.
Although retaining the sharp edges in the nose of the current model, the 2021 Qashqai sees Nissan’s new design language front and centre. Distinctive U-shaped structures dominate the look, with LED lights and driving lights joining together. There is also an enlarged Nissan V-Motion grille, finished in chrome with a secondary pinstripe of satin chrome.The upper edge of the headlights commences a line that runs through to the rear, with a slope from the roof that echoes that on the Juke.

There is a restyled bumper and a look that sees the Qashqai join others by having a strong long at the lower extremities, providing a place for the aero to do its work with a vent through to the front wheel well. The doors have their own crease now, which will bring a sense of strength to the Qashqai in profile.

Physical changes see the wheelbase up by 20mm, with length up by 35mm and height by 25mm. Width has grown by 32mm which will translate to an increase in shoulder room. 20 inch wheels will also be offered. It will be available in both 2WD and AWD configurations.

Technology changes see a higher resolution 9.0 inch NissanConnect screen complete with Android and Apple smartapp compatibility plus wireless Apple CarPlay fitted. The diver’s info is a 12.3 inch screen, and Nissan have put a tactile switch into a steering wheel spoke in order to provide easy access. There is a 10.8 inch HUD fitted as well.

All-new Nissan Qashqai

Cargo space increases by 50L thanks to a redesigned rear suspension allowing a lowering of the cargo floor by 20mm. There’s been invisible yet crucial changes to the door mechanisms too, with entry and exit of the Qashqai now easier.

Perhaps the biggest news is the addition of the 1.3L DiG-T hybrid engine package. It’ll be offered in overseas markets (and as yet unconfirmed for Australia) in two power output levels. The 1.3-petrol motor will be offered with 138hp and 156hp driving either a 6-speed manual transmission, or new Xtronic gearbox for the higher output engine only. Max engine power arrives at 5500rpm, with maximum available torque of 270Nm at a convenient 1750rpm on 156hp Xtronic and high power MT variants.

ETA for Australia is yet to be announced.

All-new Nissan Qashqai

HR-V.
To be on sale in Europe in late 2021, the HR-V has been given a makeover that, dare we say it, makes it look mainstream. It joins the Qashqai in offering a hybrid drive for the first time, however specifics on that have not yet been released, nor have many other details on the car itself. The styling does perhaps point to a new direction for the venerable Japanese company.

From the rear the HR-V also aims for the new slimline design, and here there is a join line too, much like the Kias Carnival and Stinger. From the front it could, almost, be described as bland compared to the current model, and evokes hints of the Mazda SUVs with the numerous horizontals in the grille. It certainly looks much more restrained than the others in comparison.

In profile, the rear windowline is steeply raked, with the rear overhang tapering forward to a point where it appears the hingeline sits almost directly above the rear axle and this too evokes another design standard, this time from the smaller Lexus SUV range. Honda says the styling is: a distinctive SUV presence in a compact coupe-inspired design.

Interior design is stripped back, minimalist, in look. Soft touch plastics and up to date cloths raised the level closer to a premium SUV feel, along with a feeling of airiness and space is elevated by a new air diffusion system that creates a curtain of fresh air beside and above passengers, flowing from unique L-shaped vents positioned in the top corners of the dashboard.

An Australian sale date also hasn’t been released.

2021 Kia Stonic GT-Line: Car Review.

When Toyota launched the RAV4 its a fair bet that no one would have expected that car to have spawned a completely new genre of cars. The SUV is now everywhere and has been so pervasive that brands such as Bentley and Maserati also have an SUV in their garages.The latest addition to what seems to be a never ending line of variations is the city SUV. In real terms, they’re not much more than a small hatch given a centimetre or two extra ride height and perhaps some body cladding.

Kia’s new Stonic, a replacement for the boxy yet funky Soul, drops firmly into the city SUV slot. Based on the small Rio hatch, Stonic comes in a two trim level offering, Sport and GT-Line, with an engine for each.

The GT-Line has the same 1.0L turbo three cylinder now found in Rio, a seven speed dual clutch auto, and a reasonable level of equipment. Power is rated at 74kW, torque at 172Nm. There are the usual three drive modes, being Eco, Normal, and Sport. The “base” Stonic makes do with a naturally aspirated 1.4L petrol engine. It’s priced, in GT-Line trim, from $29,990 plus $595 for premium paint, as found on our metallic black coated review vehicle.Although the Stonic is barely big enough to be placed in a shopping bag, Eco is best suited for what the name suggests. Freeway and highway driving is its forte, with Sport better for leaving traffic lights, whilst Normal works its magic around the ‘burbs.

It’s a quiet and effortless cruiser, with the engine singing quietly to itself at around 1,500rpm. Go for an overtake, and the relative lack of torque is felt for the 1,227kg (dry) Stonic GT-Line, and the auto dithers a bit as it drops one, then two, perhaps three ratios.

Economy is a curious one here. At no time did we see a sub 6.0L figure, with a best of 6.4L100km seen on a freeway run. The overall final figure was 8.8L/100km. Possibly part of that was the drive defaulting to Eco, not Normal, with a sluggish rate of acceleration, and a DCT that was at times indecisive about its actions. Experimentation found the best way to get the 1200kg Stonic under way, as with most small capacity engines and a DCT, was a throttle pressure somewhere between egg shell and light.Anything more threw the DCT into a tizz, with changes that were unsure, and waiting on the computer to tell the turbo to spin up. It was a constant battle on that front, with Give Way and Stop signs seeing the kettle go off boil and having to wait a vital second or so to start percolating again.

The suspension suffers from the same problem; freeway rides were smooth and the damping out of the usual rises and falls were dispatched without issue. Low speed ride comfort was the opposite, with some bumps feeling as if the tyre was flat and the travel to hit the bumpstop was barely an inch.

There were times when that suspension tune had the Stonic GT-Line feeling skatey, with a hint of the tyres moving across the tarmac, yet never actually losing traction in the end. Driveways had the front end bang-crash, so very slow speeds were required.The styling of the Stonic heartily evokes the Rio, with its compact dimensions and kicked up C-pillar. It’s just 4,140mm in length and that’s 70mm longer than Rio, has a ground clearance of just 183mm, and stands a petite 1,520mm in height. That’s just 70mm taller than Rio. Wheelbase is 2,580mm, the same as the Rio’s.

Kia’s design team have given the Stonic its own distinctive face, with Cerato-like LED blades in the slimmer than Rio’s headlight cluster. There’s more Cerato in the front bumpers outermost inserts, whilst there’s a bespoke chin plate that houses the driving lights and a grille for a forward reading sensor. LEDs power the rear lights either side of an easy to lift tailgate. This reveals a modestly sized boot at 352L, expanding to 1,155L, while the rear seats fold to an almost but not quite level pegging with the boot floor itself. Underneath the carpet is a space saver spare. Rolling on stylish 17 inch machined and painted alloys, Kia have opted for grippy Continental ContiSport rubber at 205/55 profile. Up front and it’s faux-leather bolsters on the cloth covered pews, a rough finish to the carbon-fibre look trim across the dash, and an otherwise Kia looking cabin with a glossier than expected upper dash. This, though, may be down to the prep work at the pick-up and drop-off location. The aircon is single, not dual zone, the controls are the basic button and dial type, which doesn’t shout range topping, but they are intuitive to use. The hard press buttons below the 8.0 inch touchscreen are the same, and the DAB tuner exhibited the same excess signal loss as experienced in other Kia and Hyundai cars.For the driver its the standard pair of analogue dials and 4.3 inch info screen as seen elsewhere in Kia’s cars, plus the slightly flat bottomed tiller complete with the tabs familiar to Kia drivers. The rear seats have a single USB port to access at the rear of the centre console, with one up front along with a pair of 12V sockets, and only the driver’s window is one touch up and down. There are heating elements for the Stonic’s wing mirrors, a handy touch for some areas.Safety-wise there is Kia’s overeager Lane Keep Assist, with its staccato audio warning, Forward Collision Alert, and Blind Spot Assist. Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Follow Assist are also standard. Rain sensing wipers and solar glass for the main screen and side windows ease the UV rays.Behind the scenes is Kia’s seven year warranty and capped price service scheme.

At The End Of The Drive. For what the Stonic is intended for, and intended to do, it does it well enough. Clearly aimed at younger buyers, and likely the DINK crowd, it lobs into a relatively newish segment but one already visited by the likes of Audi, VW, and Mazda.

There’s internal competition from Seltos, and from sister brand Hyundai’s Kona, and Venue. In its early days as an offering, it’s the well worn “only time will tell” in how it stands up and stands out in an increasingly crowded segment.