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The Electric Cat Wins EV Award

Infrastructure is expanding, understanding of the technology is increasing, and more brands are getting into the electric car field. Once renowned for sports cars and luxury cars, Jaguar is one of those companies. Their new i-Pace has recently been named Top Gear Magazine’s Electric Vehicle of the year, with the car racking up 19 awards in 2018.

It’s powered by a pair of bespoke electric engines that develop 400 horsepower and 696Nm of torque. 0-100 time is 4.5 seconds thanks to its all wheel drive and lightweight architecture. Getting the car underway with a drained battery takes just 40 minutes to an 80% charge level at a charging station, or, like virtually all buyers would do, a home charger will do that overnight. Expected range is 470 kilometres, enough to travel from Sydney to Canberra comfortably and take advantage of the charging stations there.

Available in Australia from $119,000 plus on roads, the i-Pace will also have the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, capable of over-the-air software updates, and uses artificial intelligence to adapt to a driver’s personal preferences, ensuring driving and infotainment settings are matched to each individual using the car.

The legendary Ian Callum, Jaguar’s Director of Design, said: “We’re delighted to see the I-PACE named EV of the Year by BBC TopGear Magazine.

“As our first all-electric Jaguar we set out with a goal to make the I-PACE the world’s most desirable electric vehicle and recognition like this clearly shows that we are achieving it.”

Contact Jaguar for more details here.

 

Car Review: 2019 Peugeot 3008 Allure.

Peugeot’s 2018 3008, an award winning vehicle, is a second generation, extensively reworked version of the 3008 and facelifts released originally in 2008, with the second generation from 2016. We test the 2019 spec Peugeot 3008 Allure, priced at just under $41K plus on road costs.Power is supplied by a torquey 1.6L petrol engine, with 1400 revs seeing 240Nm being available thanks to a low pressure turbo. With 6000 rpm on the tacho, peak power is 121kW. Transmission is a six speed DCT. Peugeot quotes combined fuel economy as 7.0 & 7.3L per 100 kilometres, with city cycle driving as 9.8L & 10.1L per 100 kilometres. The two figures are quoted due to the Grip Control being off or on. Grip Control is a choice of drive modes for differing surfaces, and activated via a dial in the forward centre console.The actual driving experience varies from slightly frustrating to a lot of fun. Frustrating because of the delay in engagement from park to reverse to Drive, to grin inducing pull from low revs as the 3008 Allure sets sail. The changes are crisp, swift, smooth, in hte transmission when under way and manually changing does sharpen them further.

The Allure is a stylish machine, with the underpinnings a new platform called EMP2 that allows a superb ride and handling package. Steering, for example, is razor sharp in its responsiveness off centre, with a quarter turn or so having the nose swing round quickly. At speed the variable ratio steering lightens up and there’s less effort required to work.The ride on the 18 inch alloys, with 225/55 Continentals as the rubber, is beautifully tuned and balanced. There’s a suppleness that’s rare to find in anything other than mid to high end luxury cars, with an initial give that is followed by a progressive compression that stops before the bump-stops in all but the heaviest push over larger speed-bumps.

Out on the freeway it’s absorbent to a fault, dialling out irregularities and undulations as easily as it rides over the unsettled gravel and broken surfaces. It’s beyond superb and in its class a genuine leader. The passengers feel minimal movement and what there is comes through smoothly and calmly. Weighing in at just under 1400kg before fuel and cargo, the relatively lightweight 3008 moves easily from lane to lane when required, and does so without noticeable body roll.

The Peugeot 3008 range is front wheel drive biased, and for the most part isn’t noticeable as such. It’s really only, and typical of front wheel drive cars, when the loud pedal is punched hard that something resembling torque steer is noticeable.

Peugeot, being a French brand, isn’t adverse to a mix of style and quirks, with the latter good and not so. Certainly it’s stylish. The boxy design has enough lines, brightwork, and additions to the exterior to move it away from similarly styled machines. Although just the second level in the 3008 range, it comes with a powered tail gate and kick-activation. Inside it had a smartphone wireless charger. Gear selection is via a pilot style lever, with a button on the right to unlock and rock back and forth for Drive, Reverse, Neutral. Park is a simple push on the top, and Sports mode enables manual changing via the selector or paddles.It also features the i-Cockpit, a full colour 12.3 inch LCD screen housed in a binnacle above the sightline of the top of the steering wheel. It’s clear and easy on the eye, will change colour at the turn of the drive mode switch, but either the top or bottom of the screen gets blanked by the tiller. At odds with the charger pad and powered tail gate is no power for the cloth and leather seats. As comfortable pews as they are, to offer the two others but not electric seats is a strange decision. Another oddity is locating the bonnet opener in the left hand door’s forward meeting point, directly under the hinges. Bearing in mind a left hand drive market, hiding it away when the door is closed is one thing, elegance in design is another.

Ergonomics are otherwise very good, with controls for the aircon and radio (including DAB) found via plastic vertically oriented switches that act as starting points for the very well equipped touchscreen. The cockpit itself is defineably a setup oriented towards a driver and passenger separation, with the centre console gently rising and curling towards the right hand seat under the centre air-vents and eight inch touchscreen.The materials themselves, a mix of soft plastics and an almost light denim style material, on the console and dash are pleasant to look at and feel. A lovely extra touch is the soft glow of ambient lighting in the cabin, the centre console cup holders, around the binnacle, and in the doors. Sound and apps wise, the DAB audio punches well, and screen mirroring along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard.The exterior is sweetly shaped, especially for a relative smallish 4447mm length. The nose is a very bluff and upright chrome affair that sits over a broad horizontal set of four intakes and a alloy look chin. Intense LED driving lights eyebrow the normal headlights, with a signature “fin” motif in the design of the cluster.Our test car came clad in the lustrous metallic red paint with black roof, called Metallic Copper and Neon Black, highlighted by chrome strips. Tail lights are the familiar Peugeot claw. The lower extremities are black polycarbonate and the rear bumper gets a chrome strip running full width. As stated, a stylish package.

Finally, the Allure wraps up the good looks and lovely ride with a decent set of safety aids. Airbags all round, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Detection, Adaptive Cruise Control…not all of which are standard but can be optioned on the Allure.

Peugeot look after the 3008 with a five year warranty, a 12 year corrosion warranty, and a 24/7 roadside assistance package.

At The End of The Drive.
The Peugeot 3008 range is an award winner for the right reasons. It’s a superb handler, a very good drive, adds features at a good price, and brings the typical Gallic quirks. It’s roomy enough for four with no problems, has a good level of standard kit, is frugal enough in the real world and….well, it just does what it does at a high level all round. Check the 2019 Peugeot 3008 Allure out here.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Suzuki Swift GL Navigator

Good things come in small packages is a phrase that’s been around forever, it seems. And never more was it an apt phrase for a car than it is for the Suzuki Swift. It’s under four metres in length, has a driveaway price of $16990, has just five gears in a manual transmission, a 1.2L engine, and 66kW. And it’s a helluva fun car to punt around. We test the 2019 Suzuki Swift GL Navigator.The range has been rationalised somewhat, with the Swift GL dropped and the once middle of the range Navigator now the entry level. Above that sits the Navigator with optional safety pack, GLX, and Swift Sport

The car reviewed has a five speed manual and it takes a bit of getting used to. Not because it’s a manual but because there is almost no spring pressure on the gate’s mechanism. It’s limp, weak, and almost void of any real feel through the changes. That’s matched by a clutch pedal feel of pretty much the same. There’s no weight (just like the car at 870kg dry), no real pressure required to push it down.But once both are recognised for their foibles, they mesh quite well, and it really only took an hour or so to get the hang of how and where to utilise the pair in their movements. They also work well with the small engine. The 1.2L DualJet engine has just 120 torques and that comes at 4400 rpm. Simply put, it means that a bit of gear rowing is required, as is a bit of patience in regards to forward motion. The upside is economy, and Suzuki quotes around 4.5L/100km for the combined cycle. It needs to be economical as the fuel thimble holds just 37 litres. On our test the car, literally brand new at 11 kilometres on pick up, covered 300 kilometres on a half tank.Acceleration is leisurely, at best, however once the engine reaches 3000rpm the characteristics change noticeably. There’s a change of note, urge, as it is, increases, and it feels as if it spins just a bit easier. The five speed sometimes feels as if an extra gear would be handy however considering fifth sees around 2000rpm at highway speeds, it wouldn’t have the required torque to take advantage of it.On coarse chip roads the lack of sound insulation isn’t just noticeable, it’s painful. The constant drone, and drumming, from the 185/55/16 rubber transmitted to the cabin via the MacPherson struts and torsion beam suspension, would drown out normal levels of conversation and radio, AM/FM only by the way. On the smoother blacktops it was naturally quieter and also ramped up the fun factor in the drive. The comparatively big wheelbase, 2450mm, inside the tiny body length, 3840mm, means the Swift is very chuckable in corners, with an almost point and shoot handling style. The short travel suspension did mean some bumps crashed through, but the overall result is grin inducing…in the right hands.The Swift itself underwent a mild transformation externally over a year ago, with a look more akin to the Baleno thanks to pumped out tail lights and reshaped headlights. the fun factor is shown by the front end having a “smile” thanks to the horizontal lower grille and upturned corners. These house LED driving lights and bracket a wide hexagonal grille.Inside it’s basic, but functional. The dash’s upper section has the Euro inspired sweep from the curve of the windscreen through to the doors, and that’s mirrored in a curve closer to the binnacle that houses a simple pair of dials and a relatively underused monochrome info screen. It shows trip and fuel consumption, and that’s it. The touchscreen is simple to use, uncomplicated in its usage, and sits above traditional dial and slide aircon controls. The audio system is moderate in quality but does have Auxiliary/USB, Bluetooth and voice control, plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Safety levels in the standard Navigator GL are fine. Six airbags, standard passive driving aids, and cruise control, are a good starting point, with the Navigator and Safety Pack version adding Adaptive Cruise Control. Reverse Camera is standard across the range but the Navigator does not come with parking sensors.Naturally the seats are manually operated, and are comfortable enough for the price point of the Swift Navigator GL. Rear leg room is fine for near-teens but not recommended for people of six feet in height, for example. Cargo room is adequate, with a maximum of 556L with the rear sears folded. On its own, the cargo will hold almost all of a standard family weekly shop.

At The End Of the Drive.
As has been mentioned in our previous reviews, the Suzuki Swift is an ideal car for those getting a start in learning to drive. The basics are all in place, the safety factor is good enough to start with, and the softish clutch & shifter won’t scare a new driver. And at just on $17K it’s a good price. Above all, once the car is understood, it really is a fun machine to roll around town in. More details on the 2019 Suzuki Swift GL Navigator can be found here.

Isn’t It Ioniq, Asks Hyundai?

Korea‘s Hyundai has released details of their new-to-market hybrid Ioniq. A three drive mode choice of purely electric, battery and petrol engine, and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) offer versatility in a shapely four door coupe’ style.

In the technology stakes, the car’s lithium-ion polymer bettery will charge from zero to eighty percent in around 25 minutes, with the drive range of up to 230 kilometres being available. The Ioniq Hybrid offers up to 63 kilometres on battery with the 1.6L Atkinson cycle petrol engine and six speed dual clutch auto extending that range. With the petrol engine there is peak power of 77kW, peak torque of 147Nm, and combines with the electric engine’s 32 kW / 170 Nm in the hybrid and 44.5 kW / 170Nm for the PHEV. The purely electric Ioniq develops 88kW and is rated at 295Nm.

Expected fuel economy is quoted as 3.4L to 3.9L per 100km for the hybrid and 1.1L/100km for the PHEV. The Ioniq Electric receives a charging system capable of 100kW via DC or direct current. Inside the Ioniq hybrid is a 8.9kWh battery for the expected 60 kilometres or so range, which of course depends on driving attitude and conditions. Hyundai has joined forces with JET Charge for installations of charging portals and can be sourced though the dealership network.

The Ioniqs have the proven McPherson strut front, with the Electric on a torsion beam rear suspension. The hybrid and PHEV will be on the multi-link rear. IONIQ Hybrid Elite features aerodynamic wheel covers on 15-inch alloy wheels and other variants feature a range of distinctive aerodynamic alloy wheel designs in 16- and 17-inch.Each of the three engine options can be specified in either the Elite or Premium trim levels. Any version asked for will have Hyundai’s SmartSense safety package on board as standard. The Elite Hybrid version has the IONIQ occupants protected by Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with pedestrian detection, Blind-Spot Collision Warning and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning systems. Rear view camera and park assist is also standard.

There will be Driver Attention Warning, and Lane Keeping Assist systems fitted also. A Smart Cruise Control system completes the Hyundai SmartSense suite in every version and in IONIQ Electric this is complemented by a Stop & Go function. For the occupants enjoyment there is an eight inch touchscreen, eight speaker sound system from Infinity, SUNA satnav with ten year update allowance, Apple CarPlay and Siri voice control. Android Auto and DAB is also fitted.The Ioniq Electric has a single gear reduction driveline and, as a result, a flat floor for extra space. Regenerative braking energy recovery is standard, and can be regulated via steering column paddles. Hyundai’s standard three drive mode choices, Normal, Eco, and Sport, are standard.

Charging wise, the Ioniq Electric comes standard with a ICCB, In-Cable Control Box, and for fast charging a commercially available charging 100kW box has eighty percent in 23 minutes or the 50kW box in 30 minutes. A 6.6kW on-board AC charger can charge the high-voltage battery in around four and a half hours when connected to a charging station of equal or higher capacity. With the installation of a personal charging station, this will allow a full overnight charge at home.

Helping with the economy figures are the lightweight body construction and adhesives. The Advanced High-Strength Steel (AHSS) is 53.5 percent of the body. Aluminuim components such as the bonnet and tailgate save 12 kilograms with the front cross-beam, front lower arms, front knuckles, rear hub carriers, and front brake calipers also in aluminuim. Exterior dimensions are 4470 mm, 1820mm, and 1450mm (L, W, H) with a wheelbase of 2700mm. Ground clearance is 150mm. Head room is good with the Elite having front room of 994mm and the Premium with 970mm. Rear headroom is 950mm. Leg room is also decent with 1073mm for the front, 906mm at the rear. There is plenty of shoulder room with a handy 1425mm and 1396mm front and rear. Hip room is a crucial factor, and there is 1366mm & 1344 mm front and rear.

Cargo area is rated as Hybrid: 456 L, Plug-in: 341 L, Electric: 350 L to the top of the rear seats, and to the roof,
Hybrid: 563 L, Plug-in: 446 L, Electric: 455 L.Five paint colours are available across the IONIQ range – Polar White, Platinum Silver and Intense Blue Metallic, and Iron Grey and Fiery Red Mica, at a $495 cost.
The Hybrid and six speed DCT is $33,990 and $38,990, with the PHEV at $40,990 and $45,490. The Electric is $44,990 and $48,990. Prices are exclusive of dealer and government charges.

Contact your local Hyundai dealer and Private Fleet for availability on the 2019 Hyundai Ioniq.

Range Rover Evoques Emotion.

Jaguar Land Rover have released details of the forthcoming Range Rover Evoque. It will feature some groundbreaking technology including a world first that was first showcased in 2014.Called ClearSight Ground View, cameras in the front grille and on the door mirrors project a feed onto the touchscreen to show what is ahead of and underneath the front of the vehicle with a virtual 180-degree view.  An added extra to the new Evoque is also visual, with the smart rear view mirror changing to a HD screen at the touch of a button. A rear mounted camera offers a 50 degree field of vision and assists in low vision situations.Outside, the Evoque has been given a makeover, with subtle reshaping of the sheetmetal, new slimline LED headlights, new slimline rear lights, and recessed door handles. The glasshouse is slimmer yet not compromising when it comes to all-round vision. The revamped exterior has a match inside, with upgraded trim and redesigned dash for better ergonomics. The twin touchscreen and capacitive switches of the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system are the focal point of the interior environment. Wireless of over-the-air software updates will ensure Evoque is always at the forefront of technology for the driving systems.There is a new wheelbase for the Evoque to roll on. That’s yielded extra legroom and a small but usable increase in centre console storage space. The redesign has created extra luggage space, now up to 591L, with a wider entrance allowing easier loading and removal of cargo. Drop the rear seats and cargo goes up to 1383L. Foot room has also been improved, thanks to revised seat mount positioning.The chassis has been engineered to accept a hybrid drive. A 48-volt mild-hybrid available at launch and a plug-in hybrid model offered around 12 months afterwards. The mild hybrid works on energy recovery and kicks in when the car is accelerating. This powertrain will be available with the new Ingenium diesels and the 221kW/400Nm petrol four. A PHEV or Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle is currently slated for late 2019.

Being part of the Range Rover family means off roading is a natural. Wading depth is up to 600mm and with Terrain Response 2, the all wheel drive system will automatically sense the surface the Evoque is driving on and adapt automatically. Massive 21 inch wheels will provide a huge footprint.This smart theme continues with Smart Settings; it’s a learning system, effectively a butler wearing an AI suit. Items such as the driving position,  music choices, and climate control settings. Even seat massage settings will be learned by the Smart Settings as will the position of the steering column.

The release date for the Australian market is yet to be confirmed.

 

Porsche On A Mission E

Porsche Mission E

Porsche Mission E Interior

So what have Porsche been up to really recently – and I mean currently working on?  They are right into creating a new breed of E-Performance cars: exciting cars that have supercar performance, electric power and boundless attraction.  Who’s not going to like a car with the name Porsche Mission E.

The Mission E models are made up of one very quick 4-seater sedan with a height of only 1.3 m and a very special E Cross Turismo – which is basically a Mission E on steroids to tackle a range of terrain and road surfaces you’d come in contact with on any given adventure.

Porsche E Cross Tourismo

Porsche E Cross Turismo Interior

Porsche’s Mission E is a superbly light car with an architecture that’s very distinctive.  The all-electric drive gives the car absence of a transmission tunnel, and this feature opens up cabin space and imparts a lighter, more generously proportioned ambient feeling inside the car.  You get four individual seats that are inspired by bucket-type racing seats.  So strap yourself inside, and whether you’re driving or an occupant in the back you’ll enjoy all the appropriate lateral support you’ll need to match the driving dynamics of the car.

So they are both go fast cars.  Both Mission E vehicles offer a 0-100 km/h sprint time of around the 3.5 second mark.  With a range of over 500 km, you can then recharge to a range of 400 km in a mere 15 minutes – thanks to Porsche’s innovative 800-volt technology.

Take a look at the exterior and interior pics.  They really are an exciting new breed from Porsche!  Looking forward to when we can experience them over here in Australia.

Here are some other special Electric supercars that will be around shortly, all bidding for attention.

Do you know of any other supercar electric models?  Of course, there’s already the very cool BMW i8.

And, here are some of the others to be seen shortly.  Still a little hazy on the Nissan IDS but it looks cool!  Hopefully not too far away:

BMW i8

Jaguar XJ

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 Interior

Nissan IDS

Nissan IDS Interior

Ford Focuses More By Getting Active.

Ford’s Focus continues to expand and impress with the release of the 2019 Ford Focus Active. To be priced from $29,990 plus ORC, and built on Ford’s new C2 architecture, the Focus Active is a dedicated attempt at a smaller SUV with the ability to so some soft-roading. Think Subaru’s XV and you’d be close to the mark. The new body design provides an extra 20% torsional rigidity and individual suspension points have an extra 50% stiffness.

It will be powered by a 1.5L EcoBoost engine with 134kW & 240Nm of torque. The transmission is an eight speed auto, to be available through a five trim level range of four hatches and one wagon. Economy is quoted as 6.4L/100 kilometres for the combined cycle. A new two mode drive system is fitted, with a choice of Slippery and Trail. The former is for ice and snow, the latter for dirt and sand.Options are premium paint at $650, Driver Assistance Pack at $1250 which has items such as Adaptive Cruise Control and Blind Spot Information System, Head Up Display at $300, and a Panoramic Roof at $2000. Active Park Assist and Design Pack are $1000 and $1800 respectively.Outside, the Ford Focus Active has an extra 34mm of ground clearance, 17 inch alloys, front and rear skid plates, and a bespoke front bumper with adaptive cornering LEDs. A stylish honeycomb grille, LED Daytime Running Lights, an Active specific rear and twin pipes round out the look. The Design Pack bumps the alloys to 18 inches, and adds Adaptive headlights with LEDs, and privacy glass.

Standard equipment covers keyless start/stop, SYNC3 with emergency assist, six airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounts, plus Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection. Forward Collision Warning, Dynamic Brake Support, and Euro style Emergency Brake Flashing back up the safety package, as are Lane Keeping Aid and Lane Departure Warning.Optionable are Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go technology, Blind Spot Information System and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Active Braking.

Kay Hart, President and CEO of Ford Australia and New Zealand, says: ” The German sourced Focus range now offers new variants including the ST-Line Hatch, ST-Line wagon, and Active hatch, all designed to offer greater versatility and adaptability.”

The 2019 Ford Focus Active hatch is due for an as yet unspecified 2019 release date and blends into the existing range with the Ford Focus Trend hatch ($25,990 + ORC), Ford Focus ST-Line hatch ($28,990 + ORC), Ford Focus ST-Line Wagon ($30,990 + ORC), and the Ford Focus Titanium hatch ($34,990 + ORC).

 

 

BMW Reveals New Models And Updates.

BMW’s popular X1 sports Activity Vehicle and X2 Sports Activity Coupe have received value added updates for the 2019 model year. Apple CarPlay has been added across all models in the X1 range, along with Navigation Plus and Head Up Display. An 8.8 inch touchscreen allows access to an app look interface, plus there is a voice interface called Natural Voice recognition. The X2 range also receives the Head Up Display and the Navigation System Plus. As with the X1, the X2 gets the Apple CarPlay interface as standard across all trim levels. To visually identify the entry level X2, 19 inch diameter wheels, up from 18s, are fitted.Like any company that does an update in such a broad reach, pencils have been sharpened too. The entry level BMW X1 sDrive18i is $45,900 plus on-roads (price includes GST and where applicable the LCT). The rest of the range is BMW X1 sDrive18d $49,900, BMW X1 sDrive20i $50,900, and BMW X1 xDrive25i $60,900. The X2 also gets the calculator waved over the top. The three trim level range now looks like this: BMW X2 sDrive18i $46,900 (includes GST and LCT where applicable plus on-roads), BMW X2 sDrive20i $55,900, and BMW X2 xDrive20d $59,900.The new M2 and M5 Competition models have also been released. The M2 has the grunty straight six from the M3 and M4. The twin turbo powerplant develops 550Nm between 2350rpm and 5200rpm, meaning throttle response is almost instant and brings great driveability. The peak power of 305kW comes in straight after that and runs until 7000rpm. The soundtrack is backed up by a twin exhaust system and electronic flap control. The whole package sees the M2 reach highway speeds in 4.2 or 4.4 seconds, depending on the M-DCT or six speed manual transmission chosen. Top speed is controlled to 250km/h, or 280km/h if the M Driver’s package is added. The price to pay for this is reasonable, with consumption rated at around 9.0L/100km on the combined cycle.

If the M-DCT is optioned in the M2, switches on the centre console provide control of drive characteristics for the engine, steering, and BMW’s Drivelogic functions. Personalisation is the key, allowing the driver to save customised settings.

Outside there are additional body stylings to identify the M2 and M4, with an improved cooling system receiving better airflow from a bigger BMW grille and redesigned front skirt. New double armed wing mirrors are fitted and stopping power is increased with 400mm six pot, and 380mm four pot, discs, front and rear. Fettling of the suspension takes parts from the M3 and M4, with front rigidity and steering precision improved.The Dual Clutch Transmission is an option. In Drivelogic there are three drive modes: Comfort, Sport, and Sport+, with manual mode giving the driver full control over changes. In automatic mode the driver can change the gearshift timing, the intensity of the change, and even the blipping on the downshifts. BMW also adds Connected Drive, which brings in optional driver assistance systems such as the Driver Assistant. Lane Departure Warning and Collison warning are just two of the supplementary services available. Check with BMW Australia for further details.

Car Review: 2019 Kia Sportage SLi Petrol & GT-Line Diesel

Kia updated their Sportage range in mid 2018 and although mainly cosmetic in nature, it keeps the range fresh. The new for 2019 Kia Sportage SLi with petrol and the diesel fueled 2019 Kia Sportage GT-Line graced the driveway for a week each and both showed why they are ideally suited for their respective target markets.The GT-Line is listed at $48,210 plus on roads, the SLi at $37,310. There is a very well specified equipment list for both, including Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Keep Assist now standard across the range, and a suite of GPS linked voice alerts for speed cameras, narrow roads, schools, and more. Apart from the different energy sources there are two different transmissions. Kia has kept the six speed auto for the petrol with its higher rev points for power and torque, The diesel has a new eight speed, and It’s a cracker. The 2.0L diesel has 400Nm of torque and the eight ratios are well spread to take advantage of the power and torque delivery. Torque is on tap from idle with that peak available from 1750 to 2750 rev. Peak power is 136kW and that’s at 4000rpm. The SLi is a front wheel driven unit, the GT-Line an all wheel drive setup and comes with a centre diff lock for soft-roading.The Sportage is a four model range, being Si, Si Premium, SLi, and GT-Line. The first three have a choice of 2.0L petrol engine or 2.0L diesel. The GT-Line is 2.4L petrol or 2.0L diesel. The 2.0L is a nice enough performer, with 114kW and 192Nm. This comes standard with the six speed auto. The petrol is a free revving unit and its own power and torque curve has the six speed auto running slick and smooth. Power for the 2.4L petrol is virtually identical to the diesel at 135kW however that’s at 6000rpm. Torque, naturally is a lesser peak figure and higher up the rev range, with 237Nm at 4000rpm. Kia quotes 7.9L/100km for the 2.0L, 8.5L/100km for the 2.4L, and 6.4L/100km in the diesel. The SLi finished on 8.3L/100km and the diesel finishing on 7.1L/100km, with both results from a 98% urban run. All models have a 62L tank.Driving the diesel and the new auto sees a new level of refinement from Kia. There is a distinct lack of the agricultural sound, a real feeling of smoothness, and a wave upon wave surge of torque from the engine. Cogs swap swiftly, quietly, and smartly, with the throttle sensor responding instantly to both pedal movement and information from the drive system itself. Kia has stayed with the three mode drive choice which, for both, is superfluous. From a standing start the diesel pulls the 1700kg machine away with minimal effort and minimal noise. Although front drive biased, there’s a noticeable shift of torque to the rear when the go pedal is punched. The result is rocketship acceleration, with a flicker of the needle on the tacho at around 3200 revs for the change. The extra two cogs over the six add so much extra flexibility and helps get the GT-Line to 100kph rapidly. Stopping power comes from 305mm and 302mm discs.Inside the SLi the petrol’s sound is a distant thrum, barely audible, and feels smoother than silk on ice. From a standing start it’s quiet and sometimes so inaudible there’s a glance at the tacho to ensure it’s actually spinning. Punched hard enough there’s a chirp from the front, but otherwise it’s a friendly, forgiving, machine to drive, Steering on both is a delight, with a beautiful balance and heft on the pair. There’s the barest hint of torque steer from the diesel and only under load in corners.Suspension on both is tuned to suit the audience. The SLi and GT-Line share McPherson struts and a multi-link rear, but the dampers are slightly softer on the GT-Line. Rubber is different at 225/55/18s for the SLi, 245/45/19s on the GT-Line. That extra width on the GT-Line provides a more sure footed and tenacious feel on road too. Not that the SLi is any slouch. It’s a fun car to drive too. Hit it up into a tight corner and speed and it’s flat, composed, almost begging to see more numbers on the speedo as it dares the driver. Both settle even more with a week’s worth of shopping in the 466L cargo space. That increases to 1455L if the superbly comfortable pews are lowered.

There’s a modicum of extra space inside the Sportage, with an increase of wheelbase and overall length. Wheelbase is up, from 2640mm to 2670mm. Length grows by 45mm, to 4485mm but that includes a front overhang increase of 20mm to 905mm and a rear overhang decrease of 10mm to 910mm. Overall internal measurements have headroom up by 5mm to 997mm and 993mm from 977mm front and rear. Front legroom has grown by 19mm to 1129mm, and 7mm to 970mm in the rear.

There are few changes to the exterior, the driving lights in the lower corners of the front bumper now have a horizontal line spanning the insert, and in the case of the GT-Line, splits the LED cluster. The headlight surround in the GT-Line also looks slimmer but that may be down to the LED lights and indicators. The rear of the GT-Line has LED lights, and a powered tailgate, with the tail light cluster on all models freshened up whilst adding extra visibility for safety.

There is ample leg, shoulder, and head room in the Sportage, even with the full length glass roof as fitted in the Fiery Red painted GT-Line. There are the standard pair of 12V sockets up front plus a USB. The GT-Line adds a wireless charging point for compatible smartphones and a 12V & USB socket for the rear seat passengers. The front windows in each are one touch.Equipment wise there’s little between the two. Or all four, for that matter.Consider this: standard across the range is Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist, Downhill Brake Control, Hill-start Assist Control, Reverse sensors, and rear camera with guidelines. The Si dips out on front sensors, and only the GT-Line gets Intelligent Parking Assist System. Specific to the GT-Line is Blind Spot Detection/Lane Change Assist/Rear Cross Traffic Alert, which complement the Advanced Smart Cruise Control. All four have High Beam Assist, dusk sensing headlights, 2 ISOFIX seat mounts, and six airbags.

Comfort comes with heated and vented front seats for the GT-Line, ten way adjustable seats in both the SLi and GT-Line, an eight inch touchscreen with DAB audio, JBL speakers, Bluetooth, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. The latter two have voice recognition to boot. All four models have dual zone aircon systems with Kia’s proprietary CleanAir Module. Trim is soft touch plastics, with an alloy look to door and dash inserts. The SLi and GT-Line also receive a 4.5 inch full colour binnacle display.Kia continues to offer its seven year warranty and capped price service. The diesel is marginally more pricy per year for servicing, with the full price over the seven years at $3580 against $2742 for the SLi’s petrol. Premium paint is a $520 option.

At The End of The Drive.
Kia’s growth in the Australian market continues to go from strength to strength on the back of the Stinger, Sorento, and Sportage. the Cerato sedan is due to be joined by a revamped hatch soon, and the recent news of turbo engines for that overseas, and for the Picanto and Rio will add extra spice to the range. In the case of the diesel GT-Line, it’ll happily be welcomed back at any time. They’re both family friendly,, roomy and comfy, and pack plenty of tech. The SLi , perhaps, should have the 2.4L as an option or even as standard, to bring it closer to the GT-Line and separate it just that bit more from the Si pairing. Either way, both are immensely good value but for the win it’s the 2019 Kia Sportage GT-Line diesel.

 

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Holden Trailblazer LTZ

Holden‘s 4WD ute and people mover range has had a chequered history, with the latest incarnation of a ute based people mover now known as the Trailblazer. Once known as the Colorado 7, it’s a curious choice as the front end looks like the current Colorado, the interior looks like the Colorado’s, and the profile is effectively unchanged. Perhaps to separate the two lines more effectively? The Trailblazer comes in seven colours, two and four wheel drive, three trim levels (LT, LTZ, Z71), and seats seven in relative comfort.The Trailblazer LTZ, at the time of writing, is $53,990 driveaway. Premium paint is a $550 option. There’s plenty of standard kit to come with that price, too like auto headlights front fog lights, and powered folding mirrors . Sound wise there is a DAB tuner, and smartphone connectivity via both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Holden’s MyLink is a user friendly interface on the eight inch screen. Safety is delivered in the shape of Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Alert, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are standard on the LTZ. No Autonomous Emergency Braking though. The range also gets seven airbags including the driver’s knee ‘bag. With towing of up to 3,000 kilograms available having Trailer Sway Warning is standard too. However the large tailgate is not a powered version and that’s an item found on cars of similar or lesser value. But there is Remote Engine Start for those that like to pre-cool or pre-warm the interior.The front pews are covered in machine made leather and are heated, not vented, again an oversight for Australia’s climate. The driver’s seat is powered but really only adjustable for height and fore/aft. The dash itself is squared off and lacks in visual appeal. A flat fascia, rather than the Euro style wrap around that even the new Forester has adopted leave the Trailblazer’s design well behind. A bright spot is the vibrant and easy to use touchscreen. It responds rapidly to touch, has a sensible layout, and the DAB tuner is sensitive enough but the speakers lack real depth, with a lack of soundstage quite noticeable.A mix of dark and light greys and a lustreless alloy look trim around the gear selector and centre vents just don’t pull in the eyeballs. The front seats can see a 12V and USB socket, with the middle row getting just the single 12V. The rear seat passengers have access to cup holders on both sides and in the centre. There is a 12V socket on the left side and there is rear seat aircon as well, with roof vents and a switch in the front centre console for On/Off. The driver’s dash and switchgear are familiar GM in look, feel, and operation, with the multi-function tiller itself sporting simple to use buttons for audio and cruise control.Leg room up front is plentiful at 1045mm, as is the mid row seats, thanks to the 2845mm wheelbase. Use all seven seats and cargo space is a relatively small 205L. Use it in the more likely five seater mode and there is 878L in total. With all seats down there is up to 1830L to use. The seat are adequate for most people in size, shape, and support. The squab or the bumrest, seemed a little lacking in support for the thigh towards the front of the seat but a compromise of seat position and angle was sufficient to deal with it.Power and torque are courtesy of a 147kW/500Nm diesel of 2.8-L in capacity. Economy came in at 8.6L from the 76-L tank for every 100 suburban kilometres driven. The diesel is more agricultural sounding than others under load but off throttle it’s quiet enough. That 500Nm is rated at being available between 2000 to 2200 rpm but there is oodles on tap both below and above that up to around 3200rpm.Standard transmission is a six speed auto which means that Holden is behind the market here by not offering an eight or nine ratio ‘box. The four wheel drive models have a “shift on the fly” selection choice which is available via a centre console dial. With 500 Nm to play with a transmission able to really utilise that amount of torque would be better and just six cogs isn’t enough. Having a kerb weight of just on 2200kg matters too. The six speeder is a slick unit being mostly smooth in its changes, will hold gear nicely on downhill runs, and when the accelerator is punched it’s boom boom boom through the ratios. An eight or nine speed auto though would offer a better spread of ratios, making the Trailblazer more driveable overall, and potentially contribute to an even lower consumption figure.On road behaviour is refined enough given its ostensibly ute based origins. The LTZ tested has meaty rubber from Bridgestone at 265/60/18 and on tarmac they provide plenty of grip. It’s a coil sprung front, with a double wishbone design. The rear is a five link “live” or non-independent setup. It has the effect of the Trailblazer feeling noticeably but not unpleasantly tauter than the front. It feels a tad soft at the top of the suspension travel, which given its off-road ability is understandable. With 28 and 25 degree approach and departure angles, it provides a chance for most average drivers the ability to trial the high and low range transmission ability.

Steering on tarmac is not as tight as expected, with a slightly rubbery feel on the straight. Off centre it loads up quite well but never feels as if winding it on actually has the nose just where it feels it should be pointing. On gravel the suspension allows a little more communication to be fed through.

The brakes themselves also lack enough bite to suit the mass and payload. Coming up to red lights or stop signs, it felt as if the Trailblazer wasn’t being hauled up as rapidly and confidently as it possibly could do.The exterior design is not up to the visual appeal that a Santa Fe or Sorento offers. Ford’s Everest is also a better looker, for that matter. The profile is a standard three box design and is somewhat more squared off than the immediate competition in profile. Up front is the sharper looking nose design with plenty in common with the Colorado, with a more integrated grille and LED driving light design. The rear of the Trailblazer has the D pillar forward of the tail gate, with the window almost superfluous as a result.Holden now offers a five year warranty and that’s backed by fixed price servicing & 24/7 roadside assist.

At The End Of The Drive.
With the release by Holden of the petrol only Acadia, a stand alone, non ute based seven seater, Holden can offer a choice of bigger people movers. The Acadia is a US sourced machine, and being petrol only hands the economic advantage to the Trailblazer. Having said that, the 2018 Holden Trailblazer LTZ feels old and tired already, in looks, feel, and driveability. It’ll do the job but against Hyundai and Kia, then Audi, Volvo, and the like, it suffers straight away. Make up your own mind by booking a test drive here