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Mini’s Hot Secret!

MINI JCW GP

There is one other Mini that might have flown in under your radar.  It is the wildest Mini hot hatch yet, and it’s called the Mini John Cooper Works GP.  The car looks really cool and boasts the highest price tag of any Mini yet – but for good reason.

It was built as a JCW GP 60th year birthday present for Mini, and it sits low down on a 40 mm wider track.  The massive grille, bold GP badge, massive front spoiler and two large air foiling scoops just give the car a special presence that is brutal and focused.  The air intake slot in the bonnet is large and ready to suck in gallons of air to help spool the turbo.

Look at the Mini JCW GP hot-hatch side on, and the chunky styling looks awesome, mean and racy.  It features huge wheel arches, massive side skirts and an enormous spoiler.  The car is also lower than standard JCW cars.

Head around the back, and you note that the spoiler has also been skilfully incorporated into the roof guttering showing a nice level of attention to detail.  The taillights have been darkened and the twin exhaust outlets poke aggressively out from the centre of the rear skirt.  These crackle and pop with full throttle and under serious braking.  What a car!

Inside, the racy Mini JCW GP is fairly simple.  It boasts nice leather bucket seats, a digital dash, 3-D printed panels with an array of options for logos and displays.  A special ‘GP pack’ adds all the comfort and bells and whistles like heated seats and dual zone climate control, but remember this is a stripped out limited edition racer that comes standard with just the two seats.  A horizontal strut brace takes up where the rear seats would normally sit.

So just 3000 units will be made worldwide, and 65 of those will make the journey to Australia – and they have almost certainly already been sold to their lucky owners.  They are around $12,500 more expensive than a ‘regular’ John Cooper Works, so I’d imagine if you did own one and tried to sell it now, you could fetch even more than the original price.

The Mini JCW GP is significantly more expensive than more generously equipped hot hatch rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf R ($56,990); but who cares – the car is a phenomenal performer and it is a limited edition.  The new John Cooper Works GP is driven by a special version of BMW’s 2.0-litre turbo engine with an output of 225 kW of power and 450 Nm of torque available.  Just the eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters is available, however this set-up ensures that the power is delivered precisely on time – every time.  Mini has developed a unique suspension for the GP, designed to make it even faster around a racetrack than the standard JCW Hatch.  Mini claims the FWD JCW GP hot-hatch will do the 0-100 km/h dash in just 5.2 seconds.  This is just the start of the rush of power and acceleration that goes on to a governed top speed of 265 km/h.  This is very quick indeed!  The FWD power is controlled with a limited slip-diff.

You’ll want to keep your ear to the ground and see if you can find a seller of the wonderful little Mini JCW GP ‘hottie’.  It’s distinctively different and extremely aggressive, and you’re in for a thrilling and wild ride.

Mini’s Hottest Hatch

2020 Citroen C3 Shine: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A car from a brand with a reputation for being innovative and quirky, but not necessarily at the same time.

Citroen’s C3 has been part of the legendary French brand for some time and has morphed from a rounded hatch to a flatter looking mini-SUV. A variation on the theme is the Aircross which once had plastic panels fitted with air-filled pockets, yet no longer does. The C3 itself, though, has a set of four small panels called AirBump, one for each door. The front has five pockets, the rear just two.

The idea is to provide some sort of very low speed impact protection from marauding shopping trolleys, however if this seemingly otherwise good idea were actually that good, we would see it on every car. It’s worth noting that Citroen themselves once had these panels covering all of the door, not just a small section…How Much Does It Cost?: In real terms, it’s a bit ouchy. Call it $28,990 drive-away for a car the size of a Mini, however there is the currency exchange rate to consider. This price was, at the time of writing, available for cars delivered by November 30, 2020. In comparison, Kia’s Cerato hatch and sedan were on a drive-away offer (October 30, 2020 end date) of $23,990.
Metallic paint, such as the Platinum Grey and white roof combo fitted to our test car, is an optional cost of $590. The C3 comes with a body and roof combination range of Opal White and Red, Almond Green and Black, Perla Nera Black and Red, Ruby red and Black, and Cobalt Blue and White.

Under The Bonnet Is: Another of the back pocket sized 1.2L turbo three cylinders proliferating in smaller cars. The addition of a turbo has breathed new life into these, adding much needed torque. There is 81kW and 205Nm. The auto is the EAT6 and matches the thrummy 3 cylinder perfectly. It’s a sipper, too, with 6.1L/100km seen on our 70/30 urban/highway cycle. The official combined cycle figure is 4.9L/100km.On The Outside It’s: Soft and round, with nary a sharp crease to be found. Ovoid is the term, with the body, roof, front and rear lights, all curvy. The straightest lines, somewhat ironically, are the plastic panels containing the air pockets…unless you count the delineation in colour between roof and body. It’s designed so the LED driving lights look like the headlights, the headlights sit slap bang in the middle of the bumper, and above the halogen driving lights. The roofline slopes gently downwards from the A-pillar and slightly protuberant tail lights. 205/55/16 Michelin Premacy 3 rubber and simple eight spoke alloys finish the package. It’s compact at 3,990mm in total length but packs a very decent 2,540mm wheelbase, meaning minimal overhangs for the front and rear. Height is petite too, at just 1,470mm.

On The Inside It’s: A mirror, on the door trims and door handles, of the exterior airbumps. The dash is a flat and slabby affair, with the dash standing out from the door joins rather than flowing into them. Plastics lack that sense of tactile appeal, unfortunately. The airvents also mirror the ovoid motif. Audio is AM/FM, with no DAB. The touchscreen is a 7.0 inch affair and has both Apple and Android connectivity.For the driver’s it’s a standard dual dial design in the binnacle with a separate monochrome info screen. The tiller has the slightly squared off bottom end and is leather clad. The seats are comfy, and clad in a black, grey and orange stitched mix. Gears are selected by a “J gate” style lever with leather surrounds. The cargo section has a low floor but isn’t especially capacious at 300L. 922L is the figure with the 60/40 rear seats folded. Supplementary storage and equipment is minimal with small cup holders, slightly oversized bins for the doors, along with auto headlights and wipers but manual seat adjustment.On the Road It’s: Always fun to drive. Three cylinder engines have a massive appeal due to their aural presence. There’s an off-kilter rumble, one that never sounds rough or wrong as revs climb, rather it becomes a more sonorous sonic hello to the eardrums. Suspension tune is erring to the soft side but stopping short of bouncing the body off the bump stops. Steering feel is also slightly woolly, with no real conversation to the driver’s hands but weighted so three point turns are an easy trick.

Torque deliver brings a patient rise in speed, but also one that isn’t overly lax in performance. It’s no rocketship, true, yet there is enough verve and oomph in the engine’s mid-range delivery to provide that just-right go around town.

Stop-Start is fitted and confuses the engine sometimes coming up to a stop sign; the brake pedal has that borderline pressure required to engage it or not, and occasionally it would shut down the engine just as the foot would lift from the pedal. This leads to that hesitation that interrupts acceleration just as it’s needed. the auto also had the occasional dose of indecision, mostly at light throttle, banging between lower gears before settling on one as the speed rose.

What about Service And Warranty?: 5 Year Free Scheduled Service, 5 Year Unlimited KM Warranty & 5 Year 24/7 Roadside Assistance.

What About Safety?: Minimal, in relation to others. AEB is fitted as are six airbags, rear sensors, lane departure warning, and reverse camera, but that’s about it.

At The End Of The Drive: Citroen is up against with the C3 Shine. Price is one thing, perceived value is another. It’s a fun little car to drive, a cute little car to look at, but when put against cars such as the Picanto, Mazda’s 2, or the VW Polo, the Shine fades. The stylish quirks of the airbumps have disappeared from the C3 and C5 Aircross, and the forthcoming C3 loses four bumps, offset by a small increase in size.

If slightly oddball French chic is your thing, find out more here.

2020 Peugeot 508 GT: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Peugeot’s super slinky, super sexy, super underrated 508 sedan/fastback/hatchback. It gets the three names because it has a powered rear hatch and has a profile that blends a sedan and fastback style. Any way you look at it, the 508 is a truly stunning vehicle to clap the optics on. There is a Sportswagon variant as well for those needing that extra cargo space.

How Much Does It Cost?: At the time of review it’s $56,990 driveaway. Peugeot’s website, at the time of writing, indicated a price of over $62K normally.Under The Bonnet Is: A 1.6L petrol engine with turbo oomph. There is 165kW and 300Nm @2,750rpm available, and drive gets through to the front wheels via a smooth-as-silk eight speed auto. Our time with the 508 coincided with a drive to Bega on the New South Wales south coast. Economy is excellent at 6.4L/100km from the 62L tank and this was with four aboard, luggage, and a pooch. Peugeot is one of the rare companies that provides a 0-100 time and for the fastback it’s 8.1 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 250kph.

On The Outside It’s: An eyecatcher, especially in the glorious Ultimate Red metallic which is one of nine external colours available as a current no-cost option. The front features blade style LED driving lights and indicators, self-leveling LED headlights, and starts the flowing look that embodies French chic. Subtle crease lines roll back from the bonnet to the windscreen base, and from the forward flanks along the frameless doors. A three claw rear light is joined to the body via a sharp crease that brings the roofline to the powered hatch.

Michelin supply the 235/45 ZR Pilot Sport4 rubber on black painted and machined 18 inch alloys. The design is based around five triangles and the combination of machined metal that stops short of the centre hubs looks fantastic against the red. The roof looks all black however it hides a sunroof.The hatch opens via a hold-and-press tab on the keyfob, a double-tap button inside, a press of the Peugeot lion emblem, or a somewhat fussy kick under the left rear section of the bumper. It’s not always successful and repeated tests saw the shin barked on the bumper more than the procedure worked.

Up front and “magic wash” wipers ooze rather than spray the cleaning fluid; it takes a moment for the nozzles to flow but they’re far more quiet and efficient. Just as efficient is the auto high-beam feature, dipping and raising the stronger light as a sensor dictates from the outside readings.

On The Inside It’s: A truly beautiful place. Pliant Nappa leather with diamond shaped stitched shaping, a floating centre console with smartphone charge pad and two USBs, and Peugeot’s cool looking 12.3 inch i-cockpit greet passengers with a warm ambience. There is two position memory seating for the driver plus eight-way adjustment and massage for both front seats, heating is standard, and the support underneath and for the sides is sportscar-like. There’s a nice touch from the frameless windows that drop slightly and raise automatically as the doors are opened and closed.Basic controls such as satnav, aircon, audio etc are activated via soft touch and classy looking alloy look tabs below the touchscreen. Under these and wrapped in piano black are the supplementary aircon controls. On top of the floating console is a rocker switch to engage different drive modes. At the end facing the rear seat passengers are another pair of USBs and airvents.There are a couple of hidden tricks for the cabin too. The child locks are disengaged via a tab on the driver’s door’s armrest, not via the setup in the 10.0 inch touchscreen. As our time with the 508 coincided with a swap to daylight saving, a change to the clock was needed. This is done not by tapping the time display itself, but using an options screen via a Settings icon.

Subtle mood lighting is seen in the dash and centre console drinks holders for a classy touch, and the classy look extends to the choice of display on the i-cockpit screen. There are Dials, Minimalist, Navigation and more to choose from, and activated via a press and roll of the selector on the left side of the steering wheel’s arm. here is also the volume control for the DAB equipped audio system, with legendary French speaker manufacturer Focal providing the outlets.It’s not all beer and skittles though. That sloping rear roofline does make it a little tight for taller passengers, with anyone knocking on six feet probably close to nudging the noggin. Rear leg room is also adequate but again verging on tight for the taller. The cargo space too feels somewhat compromised thanks to the slope of the hatch and a high floor yet offers 487L to 1,537L.On The Road It’s: An absolute delight and performance utterly belies the 1.6L’s 300Nm. Around town it’s as easy to drive as expected, with the eight speed DCT on tap at all times and mostly lacking the yawning gaps found in other similar transmissions. The gear selector is as pistol grip style with a button on the right side being pressed and a rocker forward or backwards to engage Reverse or Drive. Cog engagement is far better than that seen in other vehicles and allows forward motion to be both quick, and importantly, safer.

It’s a real cruise mobile, helped by utterly sublime suspension that has each corner rolling over its own section of road without interfering with the other three. Magic carpet in feeling, it dealt with the suburban roads just as easily as the highways, especially those south of Canberra. It’s the ideal mix of quietly wafting whilst being ready to attack like a sports machine. The steering was better when the Lane Keep Assist was disengaged, as this was a little too aggressive in re-centreing the 508 GT. Weight was virtually perfect and torque steer negligible. Braking was instinctive in feedback too.

It’s in its highway prowess that the 508 GT really sang, with that fuel economy a great starting point. However it’s the unexpected flexibility of that seemingly too small 1.6L that sold its potential and won us over. It’s unstressed as a highway goer, with the rev counter just under 2,000rpm. When needed to get angry, it launches the 508 forward with unexpected and wholly welcomed verve and vigour, allowing legal and safe passing to be safer than expected.On one long, straight, and vision perfect for overtaking road, in a line of traffic behind a few caravan-toting 4WDs, the right moment was selected to indicate after checking for rear traffic, and suddenly seeing the front of the line before indicating again and pulling in. For a car of its overall size and with the payload aboard, it’s far, far better than expected and makes long drives a safer proposition.

Easing off and going uphill, the numbers on the digital face roll back rapidly, and there’s only the gentlest of squeezes of the accelerator to settle the vehicle and have it back on the pace. Through all of this, the suspension is supple enough to be luxury when required, and can be punted with sporting intent just as easily too. Peugeot have hit the sweet spot with the 508’s ride and handling.

What About Safety?: Nothing is missing here. Active Blind Spot Detection Alert, Video Camera and Radar autonomous emergency braking, and Adaptive Cruise Control heads the list. Six airbags, ISOFIX, Highway Keeping Assist and Lane Keeping Assist are also included.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres, plus capped price servicing for five years and five years roadside assist.

At The End Of The Drive: The Peugeot 508 GT fastback is a truly underrated car. It will cosset you in silent comfort and take you to within sight of dedicated, and pricier, sports oriented vehicles. There is plenty of space, plenty of tech and safety, and plenty of that underlying, restrained performance, to not just delight, but surprise in the best way possible.

It’s the car that surprised us with its all round ability, and in a shrinking sedan market, deserves better consideration. The Peugeot 508 GT is that virtually perfect blend of a luxury car that eats up highway miles whilst offering the iron glove performance of a dedicated sports hatch. Yes please, sign me up. Get yourself into one here.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon: Private Fleet Car Review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Repair or Not to Repair, That is the Question

Sometimes it’s hard to let go and move onto a new vehicle. Whether it’s an emotional attachment to our pride and joy, or the belief that a new car is less attainable and will end up costing us more – we often like to give ourselves a reason to resist change. But while these may be factors we care to consider, the more pertinent questions we should be looking into are how the numbers stack up, and what our personal circumstances are.

The easiest way to consider this is to separately assess the here and now, from the future. When it comes to the here and now, you need to consider the up–front costs associated with purchasing a new vehicle. This obviously includes tangible elements, but also intangible factors too.

 

Weighing up a new car

Starting with the obvious, to fund your purchase it is likely you will either need to trade in your existing vehicle, supplement it with savings or finance, or take out a loan for the entirety of the car’s price.

This introduces potential cash flow strains, as to get the best possible financial outcome, it’s better to pay off as much of the initial purchase cost as possible. The downside means you will be left with less disposable expenditure if you make a larger up–front payment.

Looking at a lengthier timespan, you’re facing interest repayments, maintenance, repairs, registration and insurance costs. Besides that, there are operational costs concerning fuel efficiency. To help form a comparison, you’ll want to break these expenses into weekly, monthly and annual prices for the ownership of your vehicle.

 

Choosing to repair your current car

On the other side of the ledger, you’re operating a car that does not involve an initial cost. But while there may not be up–front costs involved, ongoing operational expenses are likely to cost significantly more than a new vehicle.

You have to keep in mind that an existing or used car, particularly an old one, is usually more prone to repairs or maintenance even if in good condition. And when such maintenance or repairs are undertaken, parts may be far dearer considering their scarcity, or you may need to replace more parts considering their life span could be surpassed.

An existing car is also more likely to be less fuel efficient than newer models. There is a greater chance you will pay more to fuel your current car. If you have repayments due, you should also assess these so that you’re including all relevant costs.

One thing that does generally work in favour of existing cars is that insurance is likely to be cheaper, although this is just a rule of thumb as opposed to a certainty. New cars are also stung by a huge depreciation expense which, depending on your circumstances, could be beneficial as a business owner using the car for taxable business purposes.

 

What else to consider?

Keep in mind a couple other things. With old vehicles more likely to break down, what impact will this have on other aspects of your life? How will you get around while you don’t have access to a vehicle? Could it impede family matters such as taking the kids to school, or dropping a spouse off at work? There may also be features that are less safe compared with today’s cars because of technological advancements.

In deciding, you may wish to adopt a particular line of thought – if the repairs or operating expenditure for an existing vehicle surpass the car’s market value, or the financing of a new vehicle, or even the repayments due on the current vehicle over the course of a year, move on and purchase a new car.

If on the other hand things are still running well, and relatively affordable, or you’re in a position where you can’t afford to outlay a large initial capital cost, keep on top of maintenance to defer the decision.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

2020 Nissan Juke ST: Private Fleet Car Review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the Juke ST from Nissan for yourself here.

2020 Nissan Pathfinder ST-L N-Trek: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Nissan’s Pathfinder with the extra N-Trek equipment list. It adds some visual pizazz to the ST and ST-L specification which are two or all-wheel drive, with ours being the AWD ST-L version.

What Does It Cost?: In standard trim, and in V6 all wheel drive form, the Nissan website lists the standard ST-L V6 AWD spec at $64,111 drive-away. Nissan confirms the price as of September as $59,140 (recommended retail plus on road costs) and the N-Trek as $60,640 (recommended retail plus ORC) for the AWD. Opt for the 2WD version and it’s $55,640 (RRP plus ORC) for the standard and $57,140 (RRP plus ORC) for the N-Trek spec. Check with your dealer for your prices due to differing state charges.Under The Bonnet Is: Nissan’s well proven 3.5L V6 that drinks petrol at a quoted figure of 10.1L/100km on the combined cycle. With 202kW (6,400rpm) and 340Nm of torque on tap at 4,800 driving a CVT and an on-demand AWD system, we saw 12.3L/100km on our 70/30 urban to highway drive cycle. The drive system is selectable too, with Auto, a lock for 4×4, or 2WD. Left in Auto it drives the front wheels and splits to the rear as required.On The Outside It’s: Here that the N-Trek specification lies. Our vehicle was in Ivory Pearl, with Caspian Blue, Gun Metallic, Redstone, Brilliant Silver, and Diamond Black the colour options at no extra cost. N-Spec adds blackouts to the body, with a black V-grille, roof rails, door handles, mirror covers, and front and rear garnishes. The alloys are machined and black painted, and 18 inches in diameter. Continental supplies the 255/60 rubber from their CrossContact LX Sport range.

Nissan changed the exterior look some years ago, moving to a more organic looking style, which does a great job of visually minimising the big 5,042mm length. It’s tall and broad too, at 1,793mm and 1,963mm. The rear lights have a hint of Subaru’s older Liberty/Outback wagon, with a distinctive forward pointing V. Up front there’s a somewhat heavy look, with a alloy hued chin splitting the black plastic that runs from front to rear.On The Inside It’s: Showing its age in a couple of key areas. The dash colours and button layouts, plus a smallish 8.0 inch touchscreen look with no visual engagement. There is no DAB, no Android Auto, no Apple CarPlay, no smartphone charge pad. The touchscreen has the standard driver alert safety message but requires a press of the OK section to access the audio or map etc. It doesn’t automatically disengage at all, irrespective of how long it’s left.However, standard leather seats with two-step heating up front, multi-position and lumbar support electrically for the driver, tilt & fold and slide centre row, and pull-strap third row seats go someway to redressing those missing features. Centre row aircon helps for those behind the front seats, and plenty of glass to the sides plus two separate glass roof inserts provide plenty of airy sensation. The second row seats have two levers to provide a fold and slide for a completely flat load area of 2,260 litres from a start point of 461L. That centre row also feels higher than the front.The main control section on the dash is where the Pathfinder’s age is apparent; it’s busy with far too many buttons to take in at a glance. When the Pathfinder powers up and the OK button is pressed, the touchscreen’s default look is a map, and it’s something probably once seen in road map books.

The driver’s info screen is better, if not quite intuitively linked to the tabs on the steering wheel. A small recessed and not especially colourful screen shows the drive mode, economy, driver and car settings etc, but a rocker tab on the tiller that one would reasonably expect to move info around is actually the station selector for the radio.Nissan, though, have hidden away a surprise or two. The touchscreen has an apps button, and this takes you through to driver oriented info such as a G-meter, fuel flow and consumption, compass and steering orientation. It’s an odd thing given what is missing, but no less odd than having a 13 speaker premium soundsystem but no digital audio…

A CD player is fitted for those that do like their digital sounds and Bluetooth phone connection with voice recognition add some extra tech. Four 12V sockets are onboard, with three up front. The centre row faces the third zone aircon controls and a pair of USB ports.Forward vision is very good except for the 10 and 2 from the driver’s seat. The A-pillars are on the thick side and provide a blind spot that on some intersections blanked off traffic.

On The Road It’s: A rolling definition of a mixed bag. The V6 is a free revver and when spun in anger emits a decently rorty tune. The CVT is never truly terrible but there’s a sense it holds back the engine’s willingness. Off the line acceleration is ok in the sense that ok is quick enough but could be better. Underway it purrs along quietly and the CVT is geared to see under 2,000rpm at highway speeds. The ratio changes are noticeable but not excessive in their obtrusiveness to the way the Pathfinder feels whilst underway, and the CVT kicks down readily when required. There’s no manual shift option but a Sport mode, via a press button on the drive lever, is available. For the most part it’s superfluous.There’s a truly odd sense to the way the steering feels too. There’s an underlying sense of weight from torque steer, especially at parking speeds, but the steering is in need of constant attention, requiring hands-on 100% of the time. This brings, then, a sense of lightness in a truly odd contrast to that torque-steer heft. For all that, it’s by no means a hard car to steer.

Ride quality hovers somewhere around good; it’s supple enough, reasonably well tied down, but does exhibit some float at the top end of the suspension travel. It stands out by doing what it’s supposed to do but it does lack that sharpness, that crispness, as found in its competition.Most road surfaces are levelled out, sketchy surfaces tend not to duly trouble it. Perhaps some of that lack of sharpness is down to the near two tonnes (dry) mass the multi-link rear and strut front suspension deals with. By the way, it’s not intended to be anything other than a gentle soft-roader, with just 180mm of clearance underneath.

What About Safety?: There is a 360 degree camera system, for starters, Blind Spot Warning, Intelligent Cruise Control, and six airbags. Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Tyre Pressure Monitoring are also standard. Just in case, there is also second and third row occupant warnings and reminders. Rear sensors are standard, yet no front sensors are fitted.

What About Service And Warranty?: Five years, unlimited kilometres, and capped price servicing. It’s a 12 month or 10,000 kilometre cycle, with costs being $290 for the first service, $309 for the next, $458 for the third, $367 for the fourth, $314 for the fifth and $502 for the sixth.

At The End Of The Drive. The extra visuals from adding N-Trek aren’t quite enough to overcome the age of the Pathfinder, with the cluttered dash and lack of now commonly accepted features (smartapps, front sensors, for example) adding to the ticks lost collection. On the plus side is the reasonably neutral ride, the flexibility of the seating, and the seven seats themselves. It’s absolutely a family oriented, and family friendly, machine, but an update to bring it closer to its immediate competition. That’s longhand for “needs to get closer to the Koreans”.

Otherwise there are a few from Europe and a couple from Japan that can be compared, both favourably and non. From our point of view, the Pathfinder isn’t quite the winner but it’s not quite the loser. Drive one yourself at your Nissan dealership and check out the ST-L here.

How to Minimise Depreciation on Your Next Car

Unless you’re holding onto a prized vintage collectable, it’s a fact of life that every car begins to depreciate as soon as it has left the showroom floor. On the one hand, it’s a bit of a sickening feeling, knowing the car you purchased only minutes ago has already plummeted in value. However, that’s the nature of the game, and it does get you going! Not to mention, this is what allows you to score a bargain in the second hand market.

Nonetheless, everyday cars will continue to lose value up until the point where they have little to no resale value. But it pays to know that each individual car depreciates at a different rate. A lot of this is inherent, based on the model of the car itself, but knowing certain things before you purchase your next vehicle can help you minimise depreciation.

Pay attention to supply and demand

The rate of depreciation on a vehicle, and ultimately a car’s resale value, is influenced by the level of supply and demand for that particular make and model. Vehicle models with a good reputation for build quality, low operating costs, and critical safety features will fare better over the long run. A vehicle lacking in each of these areas will depreciate at a faster rate, especially if it is superseded by a newer model. On this point, be wary if you’re buying a run out model from last year!

 

Colour makes a difference

It might seem hard to believe, but the colour of your vehicle can have an impact on its depreciation. More conservative and traditional colours like white, silver and black tend to hold their value better, whereas ‘bold’ and striking colours alienate potential buyers and result in higher levels of depreciation. Also, stay away from any customised paint jobs that involve patterns or shapes.

Keep on top of maintenance

Maintaining your vehicle will go some way to mitigate the extent of depreciation. Buyers of second hand vehicles, including dealerships, favour vehicles which have been kept in good condition. Such buyers may even pay a premium – or at least not view the issue as another reason to squeeze you on the resale price. Keep a record of all the receipts and/or log book documentation for maintenance and repairs. Make sure the car is clean and free from any damage or unpleasant odours. First impressions count!

 

Mind your distance

The more kilometres you’ve managed to rack up on the odometer, the more the car will reduce in value. As the odometer reading increases, potential buyers will be concerned they inevitably need to make repairs, particularly major repairs. Again, if you’ve kept records of any maintenance efforts, this could help. Moreover, avoid putting the engine through more kilometres than you absolutely need to.

 

Research methodically

There are two particular areas of research you should look into. In both instances, you will want to do this before purchasing your next vehicle. First, look into the reliability of the vehicle in question. This might include reviews, or general perceptions among the market. Next, review the general resale value for the make and model, since history is usually a pretty useful indicator here. Certain makes and models, especially vehicles that are not fuel efficient, are quite simply unpopular. Therefore, it helps to have all the information in front of you.

Last Ford GT cars Very Special

Ford GT HE

If you’ve got a load of money to spend on a supercar and want something really different and special, then why not go for the latest and last-to-be-built Ford GT supercars.  The Ford GT remains the only American supercar to ever win at Le Mans.  This beat Ferrari at its own game, and now the Ford Performance division has announced a very special Heritage Edition (HE) that has been inspired by the original model’s first long distance win at the 1966 Daytona 24 Hour Continental race.

The new Ford GT Heritage Edition adds some styling cues that are taken from the winning formula at Le Mans in 1966.  It is a model developed as a tribute to the winner of the 1966 Daytona 24 Hour Continental race, which was captured in the 2019 film “Ford v Ferrari”.  The HE features a striking Frozen White exterior paint job with an exposed carbon fibre hood.  Shod with great looking one-piece Heritage Gold 20-inch forged aluminium wheels and red Brembo monobloc brake callipers, you have a an eye-catching combination to what is still one of the most desirable supercars on the planet.

Inside the Ford GT HE is black Alcantara material wrapping the instrument panel, headliner and steering wheel rim, while red paddle shifters and Alcantara performance seats add intense contrast and a special experience.

Ford GT HE

You can also get the Ford GT with even less unsprung weight, where there’s the option of 20-inch exposed carbon fibre wheels.  You can also get the monobloc brake calipers lacquered in black with Brembo lettering in red – nice!

Adding the special Studio Collection package gives you a Ford GT that offers added exclusivity and design enhancements, which you can add to the newest Ford GT supercar.  Boasting an all-new graphics package that highlights key styling elements, such as functional cooling ducts, and other unique exterior graphics that have been designed by the Ford Performance and Ford GT manufacturer, ‘Multimatic’.  These clever design cues combine the combination of stripes and accents over the sexy GT exterior that invoke the emotion of speed as well as drawing your eye to some of the most prominent features of the classic GT style.

Just forty examples of the Studio Collection package will be built across the 2021 and 2022 model years, so to be one of the coolest Supercar drivers on the planet be in quick and don’t miss out!

Sadly, these will be the last new Ford GT supercar models to be produced, with production scheduled to wrap up in 2022.

Just for your information: the latest RWD, 7-speed automatic Ford GT comes with a twin-turbo, 3.5-litre V6 engine developing a whopping 482 kW of power at 6250 rpm and 746 Nm of torque at 5900 rpm.  That’s enough energy to catapult you from 0-100 km/h in around 3.8 seconds, 0-200 km/h in 12.3 seconds, see you through the quarter mile in 11.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 330 km/h.

The raucous sound of the engine is sublime, the RWD handling spot on, and it’s so easy to fall in love with one.  Buy one now, and the car is sure to appreciate in value – especially with this last run of GT cars, and their acquired exclusivity.

Ford GT HE