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2021 Jeep Compass Night Eagle: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The new, to the Compass range, Night Eagle. It’s now the entry level to the Compass family, and perhaps even the Jeep range, with a couple of compromises.

How Much Does It Cost?: It has a list price of $36,950, plus ORC, which in context is quite a competitive ask.

Under The Bonnet Is: Where we’ll find the compromises. First up, it’s front wheel drive only. No transfer case or even an all-wheel-drive option. Secondly, the transmission is a six speed auto. No eight, no nine.

The engine is the brand’s Tigershark naturally aspirated 2.4L four cylinder petrol. 129kW (6,400rpm) and 229Nm (3,900rpm) are the numbers, along with a plus-nine fuel economy.Our best was 8.8L/100km but overall it hovered between 9.5 to 9.8 from the 66L tank. Jeep says the urban figure is a somewhat frightening 11.2L/100km. Frightening because the Compass Night eagle is no heavyweight at 1,446kg.

On The Outside It’s: More like a Cherokee, even the Grand Cherokee, then ever. A brash, bluff, profile, it starts with a deep chin, the familiar seven slot grille, and the LED indicators below the main lights. The Night Eagle dips out on adaptive cruise control, auto high beam, and front parking sensors.

The lower air intake has the forward facing anti-collision sensor. Although ostensibly not aimed at off-roading Jeep advises there is a 15.8 and 30.8 degree approach and departure angle from the Compass’ 4,394mm overall length. Wheelbase is 2,636mm.A new shade, a metallic ($645 option) called Grey Magnesio, coated the body and highlighted the black painted alloys perfectly. There are Bridgestone Turanz rubber and the package is 225/55/18 in size. The rear window line kinks towards the top of the manual tailgate, and the rear door opens easily and effortlessly. There is a security cover here, and the clips that attach to the upwards folding door made a habit of coming loose.On The Inside It’s: A surprise in that it doesn’t feel an entry level machine. Leather appointed seats, steering wheel, and drive selector surrounds add a luxury touch. There is a 230V power socket and USB port for the rear seat passengers, a 12V and USB plus 3.5mm Auxiliary in the leading edge of the centre console.

The touchscreen is Jeep’s 8.4 inch unit with u-Connect, digital audio, Apple and Android compatibility, and 18 themes for the display. Although in reality there are only four or five as choices of numbers showed the same display. The double-up of climate controls via the touchscreen and the rotary/push tabs works a treat. Noticed was the hexagonal seat trim motif that was mirrored in the touchscreen’s backgrounds.

Our test vehicle was fitted with a full glass, dual pane, sunroof ($1,950 option) that works quickly. This is easily opened and closed via overhead tabs just above the driver & front passenger seats. Being entry level, it’s a key start, not push button. The key itself would feel stuck after switching off and requiring a bit of coaxing to slide out. Also, being an American design (but built in India) it’s a left hand indicator stalk and there is a quite plasticky feel in engaging it. There’s a bit of finger effort required to move it and a solid plastic sounding click when it does.

For the driver there are a pair of analogue dials with the jewelled look inserts. In between is the multifunction LCD display with nine submenus for info on economy, tyre pressures, trip meters, etc. Cabin ambience is closer to the upper end of luxury, with high quality look and feel for the plastics. Cargo space is good too at 438L.However, there is a small hiccup, and it’s when the driver’s door is opened, a slight misalignment of the trim outside leads to a scraping noise.It’s short, sharp, and annoying because this kind of quality control issue should not still be happening in a modern, robot controlled, production line.

On The Road It’s: Where we find another hiccup and it’s more troubling. The transmission, as mentioned, is a six speed auto only, and the ratios don’t quite work.

Drive around the ‘burbs’ and it sits in 4th gear, rarely moving to 5th by itself, and requires manual intervention more often to get it to drop down. 1st and 2nd, in comparison, are long, holding on and especially under a harder pedal, rather than intuitively shifting down. Climb up a slope and either 1st or 2nd, never both, will go quickly before holding onto the next. It’s not always the smoothest of shifters either, with noticeable thumps and clunks at low to suburban speeds.

Yet, on the freeway, it easily slipped to 6th and has the engine rotating at a lazy 2,000rpm. Remember, there is no turbo here, nor currently a hybrid option. It can get thrashy when pushed, as a result, with a metallic whine rising in timbre as the revs climbed.

Driveline worries aside, it’s a good steer, with perhaps just a little too much understeer as moderate cornering speeds have the Night Eagle’s nose constantly running wide. Suspension tune is adequate, with reasonable if not tightly controlled rebound and absorption on most tarmac surfaces. It did deal with shopping centre comparison speed restrictions nicely.What About Safety?: It’s well equipped with Full Speed Forward Collision Warning Plus, Reverse Camera, Blind Spot Alert, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert fitted. Seven airbags are also standard as are rear parking sensors.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and 100,000 kilometres; here it falls short as pretty much everyone else offers unlimited kilometres. However, roadside assistance is for the lifetime of the vehicle. Capped price servicing applies and it’s a good’un. $399 per service for the first five years on a 12 monthly or 12,000 kilometre cycle.

At The End Of The Drive. It’s a very good overall change to a new entry level vehicle, but falls down inches one area any car is judged on: how it drives. It’s almost unheard of nowadays for an auto to not fully utilise all of its cogs, and for this six speeder to be quite reluctant to move from 4th, it diminishes the driving ability and results in the user-unfriendly fuel economy as seen.It’s fair to expect the Night Eagle to be a suburban prowler, in competition with vehicles such as the Tucson, Qashqai or perhaps X-Trail, perhaps the Kia Seltos, and the all-conquering RAV4.

The cabin is a nice place to be, its handling characteristics will suit some buyers, but the issue with the transmission, in our opinion, will quickly become tiresome and become the Night Eagle’s millstone. Click here for more info.

MG Powers Up With Australian Release of ZS EV.

Historic nameplate MG joins the EV revolution with the all-new, full-electric MG ZS EV compact SUV. Now available to customers in Australia and New Zealand in one trim level only, it’s the cheapest EV available with a drive-away price of $43,990. That price includes an eight year, 160,000 kilometre battery warranty, and a five year, unlimited kilometre, car warranty. Roadside assistance is included for five years.It’s a price that is sure to attract keen interest. The CEO of MG Australia and New Zealand, Peter Ciao, said: “Until now, buyers have had to pay a premium price for an EV. This has meant that only a small portion of the public can afford to buy an EV. Our vision at MG Motor is to change this situation by making electric vehicles available and accessible to everyone. By removing the affordability barrier, we are seeking to fast track EV adoption in Australia and New Zealand.” MG have located the charge port for the front electric motor rated at 105kW and 353Nm at a central point. Charging is provided via a standard CCS2 socket located conveniently behind the grille. The flexibility comes from plugging in a standard household socket or a DC charge cable up to 350kW. This will bring the battery to 80 percent charge from zero in just 45 minutes. At home, it’s a standard overnight charge time for the 44.5kW battery, itself an in-house development by MG. The company is just one of three to have their own battery building facility.That battery size allows for the MG ZS EV to look at a range of just over 260 kilometres. It also endows the MG ZS EV with a 0-100kph time of a scintillating 3.1 seconds from a 1,532kg body, just 50kg heavier than a standard ZS. There are three drive modes to take advantage of, being Eco, Normal, and Sport.

The sole trim level doesn’t skimp on the niceties. Above the passengers is a Panoramic Stargazer glass roof, and at a surface coverage area of 90%, it’s one of the largest of its type. The fronts eat passengers have an 8.0 inch touchscreen complete with Apple and Android smartphone connectivity, satnav, and six speaker audio. drive selection is via a rotary gear selector and there are three regenerative modes.

The dimensions (4,314mm length, 1,809mm wide, 1,644mm tall on a 2,585mm wheelbase) provide plenty of head, leg, and shoulder room as well, along with a flat rear floor that provides up to 1,166L worth of cargo space when the 60/40 splitfold rears are folded. The leather seats have tight stitching and are well padded for comfort. Outside is the familiar “London Eye” headlight design and dual-tone alloys at 17 inches in diameter. Exterior colour choices will include one that is exclusive to the ZS EV, Clipper Blue. Buyers can also choose from Diamond Red metallic paint, Regal Blue,, metallic paint, and Dover White or Pebble Black.MG Pilot is the main safety system including Adaptive Cruise Control, Front Collision and Lane Departure Warning, plus Emergency Braking, and Speed Assist. It’s a five star safety rating for the MG ZS EV, with a high torsional strength cabin and rigidity factor. The battery has been certified independently to be fire, submersion, dust, pressure, impact, and salt spray resistant.

Our friends over at Exhaust Notes Australia attended the launch, and have provided this initial review

‘Electric for everyone’
MG Motor’s parent company, SAIC Motor, has invested heavily in electric as well as other new energy vehicle technologies, processes and battery production, making it one of only a handful of auto manufacturers to own its EV supply chain. In 2019, that expertise resulted in the production of more than 185,000 electric vehicles, making it one of the top five EV producers globally by volume. MG Motor now brings this experience to the local market, enabling it to deliver state-of-the-art EV technology at the best value and packed with features.

2021 Kia Sorento Sport+ Diesel: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Kia’s redesigned, inside and out, Sorento, specifically the Sport+. This sits one step below the range-topper GT-Line, which does have a couple of nifty features, plus a higher level of seat trim. However there’s little, in real terms, missing, for most drivers here. It’s a four model range, (S, Sport and Sport+, and GT-Line) all autos of course, with petrol engines driving only the front wheels or a diesel and AWD combination. The auto for the petrol is the normal torque converter type, the diesels run a dual-clutch.

How Much Does It Cost?: Kia’s spec sheet shows $57,390 driveaway for the vehicle supplied, including $695 for the sparkling Mineral Blue premium paint.

Under The Bonnet Is: 440Nm and 148kW from a 2,151cc diesel. That torque is spread from 1,750rpm to 2,750rpm. 5.3L/100km is the quoted highway figure, we saw a best of 5.7L/100km. Combined fuel consumption is quoted as 6.1L/100km and urban as 7.4L/100km from the 67.0L tank. Our overall figure for our 70/30 urban/highway run was 7.2/100km. The engine is a new design as such, weighing around 19 kilos lighter thanks to the integration of alloy in the process.

On The Outside It’s: Heavily facelifted, not unattractive, and big. 4,810mm in overall length, it stands 1,700mm in height with roofrails, and has a solid stance with a width of 1,900mm and a wheelbase of 2,815mm. Length and width are up by 10mm, and the wheelbase is increased by 35mm compared to the predecessor. Overhangs, though, have been reduced.

Kia’s signature “Tiger grille” now has LED headlights on either side, with multi-focal reflection emitters and LED driving lights in a cool boomerang angle. The indicators are also LED. The overall styling is sharper, edgier, and the leading edge of the bonnet is a sweeping curve that has the top section finishing over the front wheels. Effectively, Kia has taken the ovoid look of the previous model and applied a rasp to the curves, then filed them to a fine edge. It looks great and menacing in all black paint.

A striking motif, and one not to our tastes, is a new Kia signature and it’s the fin on the C-pillar. In alloy-look plastic, it’s a jarring, discordant look in comparison to the otherwise appealing lines. At the rear are new vertical styled lights that evoke a certain American two door sports car. Gone are the broader, horizontal, clusters from before. Another off styling choices is the location of the tab for the powered rear door. It’s right at the bottom of the metal, not in the much easier to access number plate recess. Underneath this is a restyled valance that hides the exhaust tips nicely.To help differentiate between the models, wheel sizes vary. The S has 17inch alloys, the Sport pair have 19s, and 20s underpin the GT-Line. 235/55 Continentals wrap the wheels.

On The Inside It’s: A very good looking place to be. Aside from being a seven seater, with tilt and slide centre row seats, there’s a completely new look for the dash. The airvents have a strong resemblance to the tail lights from a 1960s HR Holden, there is a double widescreen look to the driver’s display and touchscreen, and a better looking centre console.The seats are superbly comfortable, with support and comfort of just the right mix. the front seats in the Sport+ are both heated and vented in the GT-Line only, with the Sport+ having heating only, however the second row seats also get heating. All windows are one touch and there is a “pinch” safety function that stops upward movement if an obstruction is detected.

From the driver’s seat, adjustable ten ways electrically, the dash immediately ahead has the familiar analogue dials and colour info screen, however the housing is all new. the almost redundant binnacle sits over a broad, rectangular housing which runs in one unbroken line to finish level with the passenger side of the centre console. that extension now houses a 10.25 inch ultra-widescreen touchscreen. Here the screen itself defaults to a map and audio split, with the map quite dark. A subtle arrow tab allows for the audio screen to go full width. In the GT-Line a 12.3 inch LCD screen replaces the dials seen in the Sport+

New haptic touch controls underneath this replace the more familiar press or rocker switches for most of the basic aircon controls such as fan speed, the actual a/c engagement, and fresh or recirculating air. They’re a bit hit and miss in operation as more than once (ok, quite a few times) it took two or three attempts to touch the right one on the go. Convenience features come from auto on headlights, auto wipers, and a tab for opening the tailgate.On the dash and doors are pieces of pressed alloy look material, and there is a diamond look for the embossing. This is mirrored in the seat trim for the Sport+. For the third row there is switches to fold the centre row, and a aircon dial plus a pair of USB ports, one for each side. This echoes the front console having three, one for Apple and Android access (which also have voice recognition), the other two specifically for charging on the go. The centre row seats have their own console airvents and a pair of or charge ports, one USB and the other a 12V.Audio quality is amazing. The DAB tuner has better sensitivity than others, including some other Kia products, and there is something in the speaker mix that brought forth notes previously unheard. There’s depth, a great soundstage, and enough punch to please.

Those second row seats have their own party piece. In the cargo section and on the bottom of the sides of the seats are a pair of buttons. The rear buttons fold them, the seat mounted one fold and automatically slide the seats forward. Handy is the word here. Boot space has grown; fold the second and third row and there is 2,011L, up by a huge 349L compared to the previous model. With the third row folded up, it’s a smallish but up by 45L, 187L, growing to 616L if the third row is folded.Noise insulation is solid. During our test drive, the cicada season was in full flight (no pun intended) and the decibel levels outside was considerable. Hop into the Sport+ and the din was almost completely muted.

On The Road It’s: Almost faultless. There were occasional light-switch moments as the engine’s torque suddenly arrived as the electronics determined forward speed needed oomph. Judicious judgement of the throttle otherwise allowed for more precise acceleration, and there’s some serious urge from the quite small engine. Sink the slipper and the momentary hesitation expected from a turbo-diesel is quickly despatched, changing to getting shoved in the seat forward motion.

The AWD system helps getting grip to all four corners as the torque-split on demand system does its thing. Our time with the car coincided with some fairly decent rainfals, and the AWD was confident and sure-footed throughout. Underway and it’s clear the SmartStream diesel is effortless, and refined, with absolutely no diesel chatter. It’s muted, quiet, but vocal enough to let you know it’s ready and waiting to play. Towing? A not unreasonable 2,000kg.

Being AWD capable also allows Kia to add in, on top of the Comfort/Sport/Smart/Eco drive modes, Snow, Sand, and Mud. These are activated via a simple push of a console dial to switch between normal or soft-roading modes, lighting up the chosen mode. All modes are essentially a changing of the tune for the engine and transmission; Sport really sharpens things up for the eight speed auto with crisper, quicker changes. Smart uses an AI to learn the driver’s habits, whilst Eco and Comfort are best used for highway driving.

Road manners for the Sorento Sport+ are at a very high level. Drive is selected via a traditional rocker lever, and underway the Australian tuned strut and multi-link suspension is impossible to fault. Suppleness is there when wafting along, absorbing road irregularities without a twitch, whilst getting sporty sees the upper end of the suspension bringing a grin to the face for its prowess. Hit a bump, a ripple, a speed restrictor, and the Sorento Sport+ blinks and forgets about that momentary intrusion, settling the two tonnes of mass as if nothing happened. Steering weight is noticeable for the fact it’s just right in heft and feedback, and the stoppers could do with perhaps a hint more feedback.

Noticeable too is the fact the dual-clutch auto doesn’t exhibit any of the quirks the design is infamous for. No gap between gear engagement, from Reverse to Drive it’s quick to engage and smooth too. No clunks, no pausing, with the only minor hiccup a feeling of wanting to move forward when stopped at a sign or red light. Smooth and quiet, it’s now one of the best of its type available.

The adaptive cruise control is also spot on. Some can be somewhat iffish in their performance; here it’s accurate and silken in its adaptability to traffic flow. There is also a forward traffic alert that bings and flashes a note on the driver info screen to say it’s ok to move on.What About Safety?: In honesty, it lacks nothing. The GT-Line gets a 360 degree camera view, Blind Spot Monitor and Parking Collision Avoidance Assist, otherwise all grades have what’s expected. Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist, AEB with Forward Collision Warning (cyclist, pedestrian, car, and junction) and Rear Cross Traffic plus the mandated electronics are standard. There are also the usual front and side airbags, plus now a Front Centre Side airbag. Our friends at Practical Motoring described it as thus.

What About Warranty And Service?:
Kia’s famous seven years warranty and unlimited kilometres is of course standard. Servicing over the seven years sees a maximum cost (unless there are issues outside the service boundaries) of $3,463, with the first year at $335, year four at $729 being the most expensive, with yearly or 15,000k intervals.

At The End Of The Drive. Reading social media can be a bit of an eye opener when it comes to the puerile and pathetic bias shown by some Australians towards Kia and sister brand Hyundai. Long gone are the days of basic, boring, cheap feeling looks and feel, replaced by European standard designs, and upmarket tactility. Ride and handling are world class, and especially tuned for Australia’s roads bring potentially better comfort, road holding, and quietness.

The 2021 Kia Sorento Sport+ is an absolute winner for families, with the perfect mix of features and convenience, driving styles, and all housed in those rugged good looks. As a bang for your buck and quality family conveyance, it’s hard to beat.

2020 Toyota LC76 LandCruiser GXL: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A genuine living dinosaur. Toyota’s LC76 LandCruiser is as basic as they come in a modern world. It’s a square and blocky exterior, features old-school drivetrain tech when it comes to off-road driving, and the interior is a real throw back. We loved it.How Much Does It Cost?: This is the part where a nip of a good 12yo single malt comes in handy. $77,116 drive-away. That’s a fair bit of coin for a vehicle that has not a lot, yet, for some, offers plenty.

Under The Bonnet Is: A very grunty 4.5L V8 fed by diesel. The big thing is paired with a five speed manual transmission, internally operated lever for 4WD low range, and front locking wheel hubs. Yes, you read that right. Peak power is 151kW and peak torque is 430Nm at a lazy 1,200rpm to 3,200rpm, just under the 3,400rpm where peak power lies. Economy is quoted as 10.7L/100km from the combined cycle, and would be better with a six speeder as at highway speeds it’s cruisy but just on the cusp of feeling breathless. Just. The real feeling of running out of steam really kicks in at around 3,000rpm, not that there is much time spent here anyway. That economy figure is not unreasonable in being achieved as we averaged 11.0L/100km. Kerb weight is a hefty 2,265kg. The fuel tank size depends on the model of the LC chosen, ranging from 130L to 180L.

On The Outside It’s: What’s called a two-box design. Big box for the cabin, a smaller one for the engine compartment. It makes for an easy design, and allows for simple interior packaging. The rear doors are a 40/60 split, with the smaller opening first, and a separate lever for the bigger. These open to a substantial cargo space. Front wheels are, as mentioned, lockable via a centre-hub mounted dial. Nowhere to be found is an electronic system to do however there is a button inside for locking the rear diff. In front is a BIG bumper, almost something that own its own could smash an iceberg. Our review vehicle had a large snorkel intake fitted as well, and audible was the intake and breathing on gear change as the actual intake is just above and in front of the drivers head. A massive intercooler gets fresh air via something rarely seen on a car nowadays: an intake scoop.The glasshouse is huge, with plenty of airiness courtesy of the big windows. the front passenger windows look out at wing mirrors that are also old school. No internal operating mechanism, either powered or via a lever, for adjustment. Underneath is a set of big rubber from Dunlop. The Grandtrek tyres are proper off-road capable in tread pattern and the 265/70 grippers wrap 16 inch alloys.Overall dimensions make for a big machine. Length is 4,910, height is 1,940mm, and width is 1,870mm. Dimensions are big underneath too, with 2,730mm for the wheelbase, 1,555mm front track and a narrower 1,430mm for the rear.

On The Inside It’s: As sparse and as bare as you can get in a modern car. We say modern car as this one has a build date of March, 2020, belying the look and feel of the 1980s. There are no steering wheel controls. Aircon is operated via slide levers, and separate ones for fresh or recirculate, cold to hot, and direction. A pair of dials operate the fan speeds. There is a proper cigarette lighter and ashtrays in the rear doors…A basic looking radio head unit provides AM, FM, and digital tunes via a CD player, There is a nod towards modernity thanks to a USB port. A hark back to the past is found with a rocker switch to raise or lower the electric powered aerial.Seat material and plastics are a blue grey hue everywhere and the dash itself is a solid, square, blocky design mimicking the exterior. The cargo section is huge, with a guesstimate (as Toyota doesn’t quote any) at well over 600L and that’s before the folding of the heavy second row seats. These are lever operated both for lift and fold, no electronics here.From the driver’s seat, the view is of a gear selector that is around three feet in length. That’s somewhat exaggerated but not by a lot. To the right is the range (as in high and low range) selector, and to the left, a solitary cupholder…

On The Road It’s: Less nimble than a sinking Titanic, as slow to get going as a sloth on a cold day, and feels as heavy as carrying an elephant. But somehow it overcomes any negative to form, in our very humble opinion, a huge positive.

It’s actually fun to drive.

In a way, those perceived negatives are why. For starters, it’s a manual, a rarity, and a manual that requires experience with how one works. The selector is long, and synchronising the shifts is fairly important as the cogs are a bit agricultural in meshing. The shift is on the heavy side, and it’s a lonnnnnnnng throw between the five forward gears and engaging Reverse takes some patience and muscle.The turning circle is bigger than the orbit of Venus around the sun, the steering is something like five turns left and right from centre, and it’s heavy. It means a driver has to plan, get involved, be part of the driving process. The thought process to engage a gear whilst swinging hard on a weighty steering, judging the not-so-talkative brakes, whilst considering the mass of the big thing, brings a proper sense of what it is to DRIVE a car to the soul.

Highway cruising showcases the fact a six speed would be a better option here. Although final gearing has highway speeds somewhere around 2,000rpm or so, a sixth gear could drop that to 1,500rpm, add a bit more economy, and add just a little more drivability.

What About Safety?: Simple. There is, apart from the front, curtain, and driver’s kneebag, and electronic basics like traction control and HillStart Assist, sweet F.A. And no, this is not a bad thing. by being as basic as it is, it forces a driver to far more engaged in the driving that merely piloting a car, waiting for the beeps and tones as the car goes over roadside whitelines, judging the steering and manual mirrors to check for vehicles before changing lanes, and understanding the limitations in order to be a safer driver.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years, and seven years for the engine IF the car is serviced at a Toyota dealership. Conditions apply. Capped price servicing applies via a VIN identification.

At The End Of The Drive. As lumbering and specification-bare the LC76 is, it remains on sale for a select market. People that understand it. Toyota isn’t in the business of ditching models that sell to a hardcore audience and know both its abilities and its limitations instinctively. As a driver’s car, it is. It embodies what driving is all about. That’s why we loved it.

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.

Peugeot 2008 Ready To Roll For Australia

Peugeot has released details of the soon to be released, for the Australian market, 2008. It’s the baby SUV the company has had overseas for a few months, and for Australia it will come in a two tier range, Allure and GT. A third model, presumably called GT-Line, is due in early 2021.

Engine. The Allure and GT will share a 1.2L three cylinder petrol engine with turbo. The Allure has a six speed auto to match the 96kW/230Nm spec, with the GT getting an eight speed auto and 115kW/240Nm powerplant. Economy for each will be similar, with 6.5L/100km for the Allure, and 6.1L/100km for the slightly more torquier GT. That’s important as the Allure, at 1,247kg, is 40kg lighter than the GT. Tank size is 44L. The drivetrain for the Allure is intended more for those of the “let’s have fun” group”, with the Advanced Grip Control programmed for Mud, Sand, and Snow.Body. The grilles give away which model is which. The Allure has horizontal strips, the GT has verticals. The front end has a sharper look that the previous 2008, and features redesigned headlights, with the GT notable for the three vertical strips that match the blade LED driving light as seen on the gorgeous 508. The lower air intake will house the forward facing sensor for the adaptive cruise control and AEB. Active Blind Spot Monitoring for the GT is standard, as is Adaptive Cruise. The GT also has an advantage over the Allure with the AEB being low-light capable for both pedestrian and cyclist. Eco/Normal/Sport driving modes are also GT specific.Wheel size is 215/60/17 and 215/55/18 for the Allure and GT, with inserts to provide different looks. Both cars will have a 16 inch space saver. For the sides, a pair of triangular creases joing the front and rear, and the rear lights have the familiar triple claw look now housed in a slimmer casing. Both are 4,300mm in length, and share a 2,605mm wheelbase. They stand 1,550mm tall and are 1,770mm in width.Above the rear window is a black spoiler for the GT, a body coloured unit for the Allure. the wing mirrors will be the same. For the GT, a full glass sunroof can be optioned. A small and interesting note: the 2008 badge has the 00 linked together in an infinity sign, a symbol that Peugeot embodies as never-ending development.

Equipment. 180 degree parking cameras, climate control, and heated mirrors are common to both, as are electric parking brakes. Over the Allure, the GT has front and rear sensors, semi-auto aprk assist, a different gear selector, and paddle shifters. The GT also has alloy pedals and 8 colours for the LED ambient lighting. Luxury gets a bump with full grain, perforrated, leather for the steering wheel and gear selector.

For the fronts eats the Allure has a 7.0 inch touchscreen, the GT gets a 10.0 inch unit. Wireless charging is standard for the GT and there are a pair of USB ports up front; one is the USB-A and the other the smaller USB-C. There are two USBs for the rear seats. In between the front ports is a folding cover that reveals the nook for the charge plate, with the door having a small ridge to rest the phone on for a widescreen orientation. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard for both. For the driver both have a 3D look display screen, with a unique design bringing information “forward” in the way it looks. The GT has a full Nappa leather interior.On The Road. The GT has the better feel on road, with a sense of more energy, and just that little bit more grip. That’s a seat of the pants feedback, as the footprint for both is identical, so put it down to the slightly smaller sidewall on the GT’s rubber. The steering in both is well weighted, as you’d expect. The eight speeder in the GT makes for a better overall response to the throttle, with a Sport mode adding extra pep. And of course, the brake feel is spot on.Our time with the Allure and GT was part of the media launch held in the northern area of Sydney, with drive time in each just over an hour. Depending on availability, AWT hopes to be able to spend a week with one or the other in early 2021.Pricing is currently set as $34,990 MLP for the Allure and $43,990 MLP for the GT. That price disparity accounts for the GT being fully loaded and with essentially only a glass roof and a choice of seven exterior colours including three pearlescent paints as options.

2021 Volvo XC40 R-Design PHEV: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Volvo’s SUV entry into the hybrid world and specifically the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle world. The R-Spec sits at the top of the mid-range for the XC40 and looks an ideal way to get the Swedish brand into the market for hybrid SUVs.

How Much Does It Cost?: Volvo provided, as always, an extensive information sheet. The manufacturer’s list price is $64,990. As tested, the vehicle supplied was $69,760. Metallic paint is a premium price here and double the asking cost of nearly everyone else in the segment at $1,150. A powered folding rear seat headrest and cargo protection net is $230. A Climate Pack which consists of heated wipers, heated front seats, and heated tiller is $700. A big tech item is the 360 degree camera is $990, with tinted rear windows at $700. For the heated rear seat that’s $350 with Park Assist Pilot at $650.What’s Under The Bonnet?: A combination of a three cylinder 1.5L petrol motor and battery powered engine. The petrol motor is 1.5L in capacity, and generates 132kW of peak power and 265Nm of peak torque. This is backed up by the 60kW and 160Nm from the electric motor. Consumption is quoted as 2.2L/100km for the combined cycle and that is eminently achievable. We saw nothing worse than 4.6L/100km, meaning a theoretical range of around 1,000km. It also reduces emissions, with 50g/km the quoted figure. Tank size is 48.0L. 0-100kph time is quoted as 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 205kph.On the Outside It’s: Unchanged from the “normal XC40” bar the addition of a port fitted for the battery pack on the left forward flank. To see our original review, click here for more.

On The Inside It’s: Also largely the same. The virtual dash has the addition of Hybrid in the right hand dial, and the main touchscreen, which swipes left or right for submenus, now has the addition of a “Charge” tab, to engage the engine whilst driving to add charge to the battery pack. A zipper bag is included that houses the charge cable. A simple clip ensures the bag stays in place whilst driving. The airvents have a whiff of 1950s elegance and an alloy trim plate brings class to the dash ahead of the passenger. The cargo area is of a very good size but has a flat floor, losing the more effective folding floor that opened to storage pockets underneath.On The Road It’s: An interesting drive. In our experience, hybrids start off quietly, get to around 20kph, and then, regardless if a EV Mode is selected, overrides that and kicks in the petrol engine. Here it’s the opposite, with silent electric driving UNLESS the accelerator is mashed to the floor. The three cylinder engine is isolated to the point of invisibility aurally, and is so well integrated in the drivetrain that any physical sensation is virtually free of being felt.Range on battery alone is estimated at 40 kilometres, and the dash display shows this along with the consumption. There is a regenerative change that collects kinetic energy and feeds it back to the battery. And when engaging the petrol engine to recharge that battery it’s that same seamless switch from a silky smooth electric run to a barely perceptible thrum from the three cylinder. However, it’s a two mode system and cannot be adjusted. There are drive modes, one of which is Pure. This locks the drive into only battery powered motion and when the battery runs dry, automatically switches to petrol power. Power mode hitches both electric and petrol to the drivetrain, and emulates the heavy right foot drive style needed when that just right break in the traffic comes along.It’s an ideal cruiser too, with the combined torque propelling the 1,760kg XC40 along the freeways and highways effortlessly. It’s a serene experience, with only hints of tyre and noise getting through to the cabin. That’s an impressive feat considering the 245/45/20 Pirelli P-Zero rubber. With such a sizeable footprint, more noise would be reasonably expected. They also provide, not unexpectedly, more than ample grip, with cornering a confidence-building event and with virtually zero body roll from the MacPherson strut/multi-link rear. The ride is perfect, with compliance and a sporty tautness exactly where they should be. The same applies to the steering; it’s light but not overly so. There is weight when needed but nor is it excessive or applied at the wrong time.

Braking is the area that needs work; that beautifully tactile feel has changed to a grabby and non-intuitive bite. There’s a lack now of gentle and smooth progression, it’s now a situation where it’s semi-soft before grabbing the discs and lurching the XC40 to a halt. It’s more than a niggle especially at traffic lights and stop signs where there may be a vehicle ahead, and that lurch is enough to raise the eyebrows and push the pedal harder to avoid contact.

What About Safety?: Plenty, of course. It’s what Volvo is built on. Here’s the list: City Safety: Pedestrian, Vehicle, Large Animals and Cyclist Detection, Intersection Collision and Oncoming Mitigation with Brake Support; Steering Support; Intellisafe Assist: Driver Alert; Lane Keeping Aid; Adjustable Speed Limiter function; Oncoming Lane Mitigation; Intellisafe Surround: Blind Spot Information (BLIS) with Cross TrafficAlert (CTA), Front and Rear Collision Warning with mitigation support; and Run-off road Mitigation. Hill start assist; Hill Descent Control; Park-assist Front and Rear; Rain Sensor; Drive mode with personal powersteering settings; Emergency Brake Assist (EBA); Emergency BrakeLight (EBL); Frontal Airbags, Side Impact Protection System (SIPS)with airbags in front seats, Inflatable Curtains and Whiplash ProtectionSystem; Driver’s knee airbag; Belt Reminder all seats; ISO-FIX outerposition rear seat; Intelligent Driver Information System (IDIS) complete what is an obviously extensive list.What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres. The battery has an eight year warranty excluding expected efficiency losses. Volvo has a three year capped price service plan and for the XC40 it’s $1,595.

At The End Of the Drive. Hybrid technology for the automotive world is increasingly seen as a better option than purely electric and hydrogen. The bigger the charge from the battery the more assistance it provides to the petrol engine, and the better the range. And then the range anxiety that still worries people with a purely battery only vehicle is largely alleviated, and petrol running costs are reduced significantly.

In XC40 R-Design form, hybrid tech provides an ideal opportunity to sample it and in a car that is an award winning vehicle. There is plenty to like here, and it’s a car worthy of investigating to place in the driveway. Here is some information from Volvo.

 

2020 Peugeot 5008 GT Line: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Peugeot’s quite sexy 5008 mid-sized SUV. Effectively a stretched 3008, and sharing the front cabin, the 5008 grows to a seven seater.

How Much Does It Cost?: As of October 2020 its on a drive away price of $55,990 including premium paint, Nappa leather seats, and glass roof.

Under The Bonnet Is: A detuned version of the 1.6L engine found in the 508, or the same engine in the 3008. That’s 121kW and 240Nm plus the six speed, not eight speed auto. Its a frugal thing with our economy result an overall 6.7L/100km. However, freeway driving did see an on-the-fly figure of just 2.4L/100km. Tank size is a smaller than class average 56.0L.On The Outside It’s: A mid-sizer at 4,641mm in length and sits on a wheelbase of 2,840mm. That’s up from the 3008’s 4,447mm and 2,675mm. That extension is from underneath the second row seats and allows for the third row of two seats which are removable. Wheels are 19 inches in diameter and rubber is 205/55 Michelin Premacy. The spare is an 80 profile space-saver on a 18 inch wheel.Up front are the sequential indicators and the shark fin headlights. The rear has a powered tailgate with set opening level button. The rear is also more upright and boxy in comparison to the 3008 to allow for the third row seating.On The Inside It’s: The same gloriously pretty interior as seen in the 3008 and 508 with the diamond stitched and quilted black leather heated seats. Both fronts have two position memory. The second row seats are three individual units which separately slide and fold. The third are, at best, emergency seats as they don’t really offer a lot of room. Operated via the ubiquitous and simple pull strap system, both lay under a cargo floor cover of two parts, with each also moved via a small string strap.The 5008’s architecture is showing its age with no USB socket for the second row. The front seats have one only and that’s awkwardly tucked away under the lower centre section of the otherwise ergonomically spot on dash, complete with those wonderfully simple alloy look tabs for navigation, aircon, audio (including DAB) and more. That same nook houses a smartphone charge pad. As luscious to look at those tabs are, along with the wrap-around forward centre console, they’re also sun catching and tend to reflect directly into a driver’s eyes.The driver has the Peugeot family’s i-cockpit digital display with varying looks (via that same roller dial on the steering wheel’s left spoke), and the trip meter info activated, as is the Peugeot norm, via a press button on the end of the right hand, wiper activating, column stalk. Those wipers feature Peugeot’s water-saving “Magic Wash” which mists from the arms themselves and not via wasteful jets in the bonnet’s trailing edge. Auto dipping high beam is also standard as is the blue-hued mood lighting. Above the passengers is a black cloth sheet that rolls back to unveil a full glass roof.On The Road It’s: Lacking those extra two cogs and 60Nm from the 508’s 1.6L specification. The extra mass the 5008 has over the smaller and lighter 3008 also affects performance with a plus nine second run to 100kph from a standing start. However, that isn’t noticeable in the ride, with a virtually perfect mix of compliance, suppleness, and chassis control. Body roll is almost non-existent, tightening radius cornering has the nose pushing on gently and that’s controlled by a slow easing off from the accelerator.

Rolling acceleration is decent but not rapid, and when used in anger there’s little to be said aurally too, as the engine emits a restrained growl, a muted note from the exhaust, and a whole lot of otherwise, “sigh, let’s get this done”.Peugeot’s cabin design has the steering wheel sat below the driver’s display, and the size of the flat-bottomed unit brings a sense of sportiness, of engagement with the drive. Brake pedal feedback is the same high level of tactility we’ve come to expect from this underrated brand.

What About Safety?: Six airbags, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, front and rear parking sensors and park assistance are standard fit. City Park (a 90 degree parallel parking system) and a 360 degree camera are standard. The Active Lane Keeping Assistance function is standard and is only mildly intrusive, as it tugs gently rather than firmly, to straighten the 5008 up. Adaptive Cruise is standard along with AEB with camera and radar assistance.What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres, plus Peugeot’s capped price serving scheme. Booking services is performed online.

At The End Of The Drive. Peugeot is a brand that has an extensive history, is one of the older brands in Australia’s automotive landscape, and remains peculiarly invisible. Yes, our market is a strange one and there are plenty of choices available, yet against that Peugeot’s offerings are overlooked in comparison to the South East Asian based competitors. In our blunt opinion that’s a shame as there is class, good looks, high standard levels of safety and equipment, and at fair prices.That’s our opinion.

The 5008 is a great example of that classy film that lasted a week at the cinemas and yet those in the know, know how good it is. And with the baby of the “008” range, the 2008 due for imminent release at the time of writing, that superb choice expands. Check out the 5008 here.

MINI Countryman Rolls Out For Oz.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 MG HS Essence: Private Fleet Car Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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