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An Abundance Of Energy: H2X Australia

Australia’s car manufacturing industry is dead. Long live the Australian car manufacturing industry.

But all is not yet lost…Hydrogen is seen as the potential next step in powering automobiles on Earth, and the technology has been around for decades, featuring strongly in the aerospace industries. Australian company H2X, based in Sydney, has been quietly working away since 2015 on using the most abundant element known, hydrogen, as the source material for automotive propulsion.The heart of a hydrogen powered vehicle is the fuel cell. Take hydrogen and oxygen, wave the magic wand, and electricity is made. The resulting leftover is water. Simple H2O. The efficiency of this process varies and comes in between 40 to 60 percent. Waste heat can be reused and brings efficiency to over 80%.

H2X are applying hydrogen fuel tech to vehicles that they hope to have up and running by the mid 2020s. A minivan, a tractor, and an SUV are amongst the range that the company has in mind. The firm recently turned the dirt at a location at Port Kembla, south of Sydney. It’s here that they currently intend to build the vehicles and also invest in battery and super-capacitors. However, in a reasonable effort to minimise extravagant start up costs, the firm will first use pre-assembled parts readily available from Asia, and a fuel cell from a company called ElringKlinger.A common issue with starting a new company is sourcing people with the required expertise. Here, H2X don’t appear to have a problem. Their CEO is a person that comes from hydrogen related businesses plus a solid automotive background with BMW, Audi, and Volkswagen. Heading the design bureau is the designer of the Giulietta, Chris Reitz. He’s also worked with VW and Nissan. Saab and GM have their DNA running in the veins of Peter Zienau as he worked on hybrid and electric programs with the pair. Opel, Lotus, Volvo, Aston Martin and Tesla have given Peter Thompson over thirty years of experience, including his involvement in the Tesla Roadster.There’s more power to come in the board, with Alan Marder, also with plenty of experience in startups dealing with hydrogen fuel cell and automotive industries spanning 35 years. He’ll head the marketing and strategy section, while the former head of the VW Group Asia, Kevin McCann, who also works with Hyundai, Volvo, and Deloitte, will be on the supervisory board.

Picking Port Kembla, says H2X, was a given, as it’s a focus for industries H2X will need as supports. Rail, metal manufacturing in the forms of steel and aluminuim, the size of the port to allow cargo ships, and electronics makers at a military spec level will go a long way to assisting the rumoured workforce of 5,000.They’ve already put forward what they hope will be the first vehicle to drive off the production line. The “Snowy” SUV, with a mooted range of 650km, a refuel time of around three minutes, and a freeway speed reaching time of 6.9 seconds, will be backed by a bio-safe interior, smartphone apps, and autonomous emergency braking. The powertrain is said to be a combination of a 60kW Elring Klinger PEM fuel cell, a graphene ultracapacitor from Skeleton Tech, a powerful 200kW electric motor, and a 5.0kg-capacity hexagon Type 4 hydrogen tank. A key feature that’s under the radar is a suspension system that will, like braking regenerative energy, apply the same process from suspension travel. The Snowy is on track for a 2022 unveiling.

2020 Mitsubishi ASX GSR: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Mitsubishi’s ASX with a nameplate that in Mitsubishi’s history has referred to a sporting oriented vehicle. GSR was found on their hi-po Lancers and they were a little less mental than the Evo class cars. However, in ASX trim, the sporting intention has been relegated to a lairy colour on the review car and a front wheel driven chassis with the traction control dialed back a little.

How Much Does It Cost?: $30,740 is the recommended retail price. $32,490 is the drive-away price as of June 2020.

On The Outside It’s: Been given blacked out highlights to complement the Sunshine Orange paintwork. 18 inch alloys with black paint, along with the grille, door mirrors, and a subtle rear deck lid spoiler are part of the GSR’s visual appeal. It’s a combination that suits the “shield grille” treatment as it brings a more assertive look to the small SUV. The painted alloys have Bridgestone Ecopia rubber, and they’re 225/55 in profile. An identifying GSR badge is on the tailgate, and it’s the only one that says GSR.On The Inside It’s: The mostly cleanly laid out look newer Mitsubishis have. “Microsuede/Synthetic Leather Seat Trim with Red Stitching” is the description for the pews and they’re a delight. Comfortable, supportive, warm and there’s no need for electric heating. Air-conditioning is via the simple and classy dial system that Mitsubishi has employed to great effect. They sit above a pair of USB ports and a 12V socket, and below the 8.0 inch DAB equipped touchscreen.The tailgate is manually operated, opening to a 393L cargo section that expands to 1,193L with the second row seats folded. A flat loading floor and low lip make loading up a brezze, and the pair of recesses either side help for items that need a little extra security.The angular slope of the ASX’s roof doesn’t compromise interior packaging either. 963mm head room is available for the rear seats, plus 921mm leg room. They’re good numbers considering 1,000mm head room for the front seats and 1,056mm leg room.Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.4L petrol engine. No diesel, no hybrid. 123kW and 222Nm haul 1,390kg (dry) via a CVT driving the front wheels only. Consumption is quoted as 7.9L/100km for the combined cycle. Mitsubishi’s info system provides a driving average, as in it’ll change on the go, but there is not separate overall figure. We saw a worst of over 9.0L/100km and a shortened range, to a best of 6.7L/100km and a range of over 400km to go from between a half and three quarter full gauge.On The Road It’s: The front wheel driven GSR has a throttle that is open to hard work. As such it also sets up the GSR for a little bit of spirit. The rubber is partly to blame, if you will, as even a moderate amount of throttle application chirps the tyres, easily spinning them and there’s no real intrusion of the engine control nanny either. There’s nothing from the rear end though, and it comes across as being nothing more than to prop up the cargo area.

The steering has some feedback, enough to let the driver know that the front end is lively, and even manages to isolate the fact that the ASX GSR is a front wheel drive vehicle. There’s little to no noticeable torque steer, the front can be hammered quite hard and for the most part the front will stick…in a straight line. Those tyres become a weak point as the GSR will push into understeer reasonably easily and on damp roads the rubber loses grip even more readily.

The CVT is one of the better ones going, and seems to harness the 222Nm more efficiently, even under heavy throttle. There isn’t a Sport shift though, a truly odd choice for a seemingly sports-oriented style car. Yes, there are paddle shifts but…well…no Sport shift. The drive selector itself is a bit painful, having a F shaped slot mechanism and it’s not entirely intuitive in moving the lever. It got caught far too often in Neutral due to the design of the slot, and there is a low range style selection that is picked up by sliding through D to L. This is where a manual change via the paddles seems to be more appropriate.Damping is better than the Outlander PHEV tested the week before; there’s more suspension give, less reliance on the Bridgestone rubber for smaller intrusions, and a little more body lean in cornering aiding grip where it can be. This also means that road holding is improved with less tendency to feel like the tyres may momentarily lose contact on certain surfaces.

What About Safety?: Loaded for bear, is what the ASX GSR has in the safety stakes. Forward Collision Mitigation system, with Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Assist and Blind Spot Warning. Then there is Rear Cross Traffic Alert, to finish off the main package. Auto headlights and wipers, the flashing emergency stop signalling, reverse camera and front & rear parking sensors, plus seven airbags round out the supplementary systems.

What About Warranty And Service?:
100,000 kilometres or five years, with capped price servicing details available.

At The End Of The Drive. The ASX is a competent vehicle regardless of which model you select. Versions such as this, the ASX GSR, manage to find a better level in areas such as handling and the CVT yet just miss the target by not making the gear selection a Sports style. Nor is there a console mounted Sport option.

In Sunshine Orange, along with the blackouts, it’s an eye catcher, and the paint really drinks in the sunlight giving it a true glow. It rolls along nicely, has enough squirt to please, and sells in very good numbers. Add a Sport mode that’s tweaked to suit the characteristics, and it’ll be even better. Check it out here.

Car Review: 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed PHEV.

This Car Review Is About: A vehicle from a mainstream car maker that provides a technology still all too rare. Hybrid tech of its own right is becoming widespread, however the plug-in part is still uncommon. The Outlander from Mitsubishi is an all too rare opportunity to sample an option in drivetrain tech that perhaps could become a little more common with time. In PHEV form it’s strictly a five seater too.

How Much Does It Cost?: The Outlander falls into the medium SUV category. There are three PHEV variants, being the ES and ES ADAS (higher trim levels) and the Exceed. This starts from $56,390 plus on-road costs. At the time of writing, a drive-away cost of $60,390 was advertised.Under The Bonnet Is: The opportunity to drive, theoretically, up to 54 kilometres on a battery only run thanks to a pair of electric motors, one front, one rear connected to a single speed transmission. Otherwise there is a 2.4L petrol engine that charges the battery, and backs up the electrical drive in uphill runs or when the battery is low on charge. There are two charge ports on the right rear quarter and a separate charge cable that plugs into the standard home plug outlet. When the PHEV was first released five years ago it came only with a 15A cable. Thankfully Mitsubishi listened. There is also an app that allows a driver to monitor charging progress and set charging times.The petrol engine produces 94kW and 199Nm, with the electric engine adding its own 60kW and 70kW via the front and rear mounted motors. Consumption is rated as 1.9L/100km and the tank size is 45L. Our overall figure finished on a creditable 5.8L/100km, and most of that was from charging on the go. The battery itself is of a Lithium-ion mix, with a 13.8kWh capacity, voltage of 300, and 80kW maximum output for the generator. Charging time (80%) on the DC fast charger is is 25 minutes, with seven hours on the cable for home charging.On The Inside It’s: Time for an update. We’ve reviewed three PHEVs and the Outlander platform is aging. Gracefully, yes, but aging. The ergonomics are no longer suitable and the look and feel is obviously older compared to its opposition. There’s been barely any changes since the last model and that’s minor tweaks to the centre console around the fore and aft drive selector, a rejig of the touchscreen and the way the seat material is laid over the frames.The dash is a slab, there are buttons hidden by the steering wheel including the Start/Stop and information button, and it’s all just a bit out of step with the competition. Faux grey coloured carbon-fibre is laid on the passenger side of the dash, the centre console and underneath the aircon controls. There is the usual assortment of cup and bottle holders, plus auto headlights and auto wipers.Cargo wise there is 463L of space, down slightly on the normal five seater. This is thanks to a slightly higher cargo deck that sits over the battery and houses a compartment for tyre goo in the case of a puncture, plus the plug-in charger cable and indicator box. The rear axle houses a motor also, and this contributes to the height as well. There is a 12V outlet for this area though and the rear door is powered.Five seats is what the Outlander PHEV packs, and they’re also in need of an update. This is more to the material used as padding, as there’s more a sense of sitting on, not in, the pews.
On The Outside It’s: Getting closer to the angular shape of siblings AS, Triton, and Pajero Sport. There’s still the rounded, slightly bulbous shape that’s wrapped Outlander for well over a half decade now, but the nose has the look of the rest of the team. One would expect that the next update will drop the ovoid look and bring it more into line with the others.

Wheels are high gloss alloys and of a 25 spoke design. Rubber is 225/55/18 and from the Toyo Proxes range. Access to the two charging ports is via a flap on the right rear quarter, with fuel on the left rear.On The Road It’s: A good mix of electric propulsion for, as it turned out in the real world, around 45 kilometres. The driver’s display has a graphic that shows the charge level of the battery and any regeneration charge being fed back in. It’s a push button start system and there’s a couple of faint clicks and whirrs as the system gets ready. A flick of the drive selector to the right and a fore or aft movement for Reverse of Drive, and that’s as complicated as it gets.Unless the right foot is super heavy or heading uphill, the PHEV is a purely electric vehicle. There’s virtually no noise from the drivetrain, but plenty from the rubber, even on smooth road surfaces. As the charge level drops and heads towards maybe 10%, the petrol engine kicks in and tops up charge ever so gently. On the fly a driver can press a console tab to charge or use a Save Battery mode which entails the petrol engine kicking in and out as required. The swap-in and swap-out is almost seamless, with bare hints of vibration and a dull background drone the indications of the change.

The steering is leaden, heavy, and as the drive indicators don’t show torque split, it feels as if it’s a heavily front wheel drive oriented machine. The suspension is also super tight, with most of the smaller road surface niggles absorbed by the tyre sidewalls, not the suspension. The brake is also numb, a curious sensation given the regenerative ability of the system itself.

Acceleration is somewhere between not bad and slightly leisurely. A dry weight, befoer passengers etc, of just under 1.9 tonnes would have that effect… Even when the petrol engine kicks in, it’s an easy-going, unhurried affair. The single speed transmission does a sterling job too, coping admirably with the demands of either or when it comes to switching between the two power sources.

What About Safety?: Ultrasonic misacceleration Mitigation System is standard in the Exceed, as are Blind Sport Warning, Lane Change Assist, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Adapative Cruise Control with a simple push button to adjust, and a 360 degree camera system are also standard. Seven is the count for airbags.

What About Warranty And Service? Warranty is five years and capped price servicing applies. Service intervals are 12 months or 15,000kms. Conditions and further details can be found here.

At The End Of The Drive. Mitsubishi deserve accolades for their PHEV push. Hyundai have the Ioniq, itself an attractive proposition with electric, hybrid, and PHEV, variants Toyota doesn’t offer a PHEV. And with a real and usable range of around 40km, the Outlander PHEV is absolutely ideal for city running, and with the occasional dip into the petrol tank by using the engine to charge on the go, an easy 60+ , more than enough for most users, it’s perfect. But expect that on any other route consumption will increase.

There are other areas of mild “concern” too. The steering has no life, the dash is really showing its age, and the exterior is now the only member of the current Mitsubishi that lacks the truly hard edged “shield grille” design. And at $60K, buyers will look towards newer and competitively priced products, irrespective of fuel savings.

Outlander PHEV details are here.

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Points On The Dial: 2021 Jeep Compass Released.

Jeep has announced release details of their forthcoming Compass range, complete with updates and a new entry-level model. There are also changes to the back of house procedures for service.

Models and Pricing Structure.
The Night Eagle is the new addition and kickstarts the revamped range. Power comes from the 129kW 2.4L TigerShark four, driving the front wheels via a six speed auto. It’ll start from $36,950 (plus ORC) and has optional Premium paint at $645. The same engine will power the Limited via a nine speed auto and all wheels will be spun. $42,950 (plus ORC) is the starting price. A black roof will be available at $545.

The S-Limited comes in next with the same drivetrain and starts from $45,950 (plus ORC) and will have the black roof and a dual-pane sunroof at no charge. the levels trim out with a diesel powered Trailhawk at $49,450. Peak power here is 125kW and it’s the tried and proven 4×4 system. The sunroof is a $1,950 option. The Premium paints are listed as: Vocal White, Brilliant Black, Grey Magnesio, Mojave Sand, and Minimal Grey.Night Eagle comes well specified for an entry level vehicle. It will feature Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path Detection. There will also be, as standard, Forward Collision Warning Plus, and Jeep’s Parksense Rear Park Assist System. There will also be a ParkView Reverse Parking Camera. Wheels are 18 inch alloys, there will be seven airbags, digital radio and Android & Apple apps.

Limited ups the ante, with an even more comprehensive list. The drivetrain has the Jeep Selec-Terrain Traction Management System and will roll on 19 inch alloys. Leather pews will seat the passengers, with the driver having a 8 way powered unit whilst looking at a 7.0 inch display screen, and sound will come from a premium 9 speaker setup including a punchy subwoofer. Engine ignition is via a Start/Stop system, with extra safety coming from front and rear park sensors. Driver assistance is from the Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist. Exterior changes also see Bi-xenon headlights and LED rear lights, plus the rear tailgate is powered.

Head to the S-Limited and there is 19 inch Granite Alloys, and Granite Crystal exterior highlights. Inside there will be black leather seats and stitched in Tungsten Accent. Exterior choices can be from the standard Colorado Red or choose from the Premium paints listed earlier.Trailhawk has the fabled Trail Rated badging, and will feature Jeep’s Active Drive Low 4×4 System and the Selec-Terrain with Rock Mode. In order tp deal with getting dirty, there is the Off-Road Suspension with Raised Ride Height. It will have bespoke fascias for each end and the black anti-glare bonnet decal. The tow hooks are hi-vis red. Getting dirty doesn’t mean pain is a given, so Jeep ensure a return journey by fitting four skid skid plates and Hill Descent Control. All weather floor mats and a reversible cargo mat are also standard.

For peace of mind, Jeep has realigned its service rates. A Capped Price service list is now standard, with each new Jeep model purchased having the first five services set at $399 when serviced at Jeep dealership.

Head to the Jeep website for more details.

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2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Is On The Way.

Hyundai Motor Company’s long awaited revamp of the Santa Fe was unveiled in the first week of June. There are clear signs of exterior change and a freshen up for the interior brings higher level of passenger comfort and convenience.What could point the way to a new design ethos for the brand is a new grille shape and look. There’s a heavier emphasis on the diamond styling in the grille itself, with the LED “eyebrow” driving lights slimmed down even further, and the headlights changed in shape and brought towards a more even line on either side of the grille. A pair of driving lights fall down from the eyebrows in a sweeping curve and form a bisecting line for the main lights in a T-shape.

Down in each bottom quarter the air intakes have also been reduced in size. This brings a more elegant and stylish look to the whole front end presence. There’s also elegance in the side profile, with a line drawn from the the DRLs to the leading edge of the rear lights. This runs over enlarged wheel arches which house 20 inch wheels. The rear lights have been given a subtle makeover, with a more defined arrowhead look on the outer edges, and are now joined by a bar located on the tailgate. There is also a T-shape inside the rear lights turned 90 degrees.

Inside and Santa Fe has been given more space and comfort with a higher level of use for soft-touch materials. The centre console has been raised in comparison to the front seats, giving an impression of the front occupants sitting more in a comfortable armchairs. There’s a more balanced, a more symmetrical look to the centre, with the touchscreen, centre airvents, and aircon & auxiliary controls in a more integrated cluster. It looks more intuitive and includes a removal of a sliding gear selector. Hyundai has moved to a push button drive selector thanks to the implementation of a drive-by-wire throttle input.Although the Santa Fe has been seen as an off-road capable vehicle, until now it’s never actually had a drive-mode selector for getting dirty. This feature includes unique modes for sand, snow and mud, as well as eco, sport, comfort and smart modes, the last of which automatically recognises the driving style and selects a mode so the driver does not have to. Hyundai’s HTRAC all wheel drive system should be standard across all, if not most, of the range.

The redesign of the centre console allows for a larger touchscreen, which is now 10.25 inches. It should includes the smart apps, satnav, digital audio, and camera views.

“We modernised the new Santa Fe with premium features and appealing aesthetics that are sure to add value,” said SangYup Lee, Senior Vice President and head of Global Design Centre. “The bold lines that extend from one side to the other and from front to back give Santa Fe a rugged yet refined look that SUV customers want. Besides, we’ve added numerous features and functions to create a truly family-focused SUV that is a pleasure to drive.”

Hyundai expects to release the Santa Fe to the Australian market in the third quarter of 2020.

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2020 Subaru Forester Hybrid – S Hybrid & XV Hybrid – Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Two new Hybrid vehicles for the Australian market, courtesy of Subaru. The Forester is the brand’s best seller, and along with the XV sees the company launch their first forays into the hybrid arena.

Each come with a varying trim range. The Forester Hybrid comes in Forester Hybrid-L and Forester Hybrid-S trim, and is available in four “normal” levels; 2.5i, 2.5i-L, 2.5i Premium, and 2.5i-S. XV is available in XV Hybrid AWD, and 2.0i, 2.0i-L AWD, 2.0i Premium AWD, and 2.0i-S AWD.

How Much Does It Cost? According to the pricing matrix on the Subaru Australia website, the entry Forester is $39,322, Forester 2.5i-L Hybrid starts at $44,731, with the 2.5i-S at $51,031 drive-away. XV kicks off at $33,546 in entry level trim, and $40,239 for the sole XV Hybrid.

Under The Bonnet Is: Where the changes lie. A 2.0L boxer four in the Forester replaces the normally fitted 2.5L The battery is located in the rear. The XV has the same layout, and also comes with a 2.0L petrol engine. The Forester and XV have a 48L tank. That’s down from the normal 63L. There are no changes to the Subaru signature all wheel drive platform otherwise.The spec sheet lists the peak power for the Forester and XV Hybrid as 110kW at 6000rpm, and 12.3kW for the electric motor. Torque is rated 196Nm at a typical 4000rpm, and 66Nm for the electric motor.

Economy for the Forester Hybrid, says Subaru, is 6.7L/100km combined, 7.5L for the urban, and 6.2L for the highway. For the Forester, we finished on 7.7L/100km. This was on a drive loop of 80% urban and a hilly backroads remaining 20%. XV Hybrid is rated as 6.5L/100km for the combined, 7.5L for the urban, 5.9L/100km for the highway and also finished on 7.7L/100km. Required fuel is 91RON. Both are heavier than their non-hybrid siblings, with the Forester at 1,603kg dry and XV at 1,536kg. Both are around 90kg heavier thanks to the battery pack.Transmission is a seven step CVT in both with manual mode. Torque vectoring is standard as well.

On The Outside It’s: Moreso a badge denoting the hybrids drive-train with E-Boxer than any wholesale changes since the cars were facelifted two years ago.Forester is much like the Outback. Both look like station wagons yet are SUV sized. Forester is 4,605mm in length, and stands an impressive 1,730mm to provide that SUV presence. It’s clever design work from Subaru in this area as compared to other brands, it simply doesn’t look like an SUV. The XV is 4,465mm, and is actually a little lower than the non-hybrid XV, standing 1,595mm, 20mm down on the roof-rail fitted non-hybrids. The XV is more a hunchbacked style visually though, thanks to the extra ride height it has over the Impreza hatch it’s based on. Ground clearance for both is 220mm. Wheelbases are almost identical, with a mere 5mm separating the pair at 2,670mm and 2,665mm respectively. Wheel and rubber combos for the two tested were 225/55/18s on the Forester S Hybrid with Bridgestone supplying the rubber. The XV has Yokohamas and 225/60/17s. There are eight paint colours for the Forester, including the deep aqua blue on the Forester Hybrid and a shade of aquamarine on the XV. It was a colour remarked upon by many as being a lovely colour.The C shaped LED lights in the front and rear clusters bring a model and brand defining look, as it’s common across the range Subaru offer. The Forester has self leveling front lights and they’re steering sensitive. The XV doesn’t get these features in Hybrid trim.

On The Inside It’s: Definably Subaru. There are the three screens, one in the dash binnacle, the touchscreen in the centre (smaller in the XV at 6.5 inches against the 8.0 screen in Forester S Hybrid), and the very useful info screen perched up high. Audio is DAB enabled however none of the information normally available such as artist and song could be accessed. The Forester had a Harman-Kardon supplied speaker system. There is also a CD player in each.

External views though, as part of the safety system, can also be accessed here, such as the left hand side when reversing and showing in crystal clear clarity the angle of the car in relation to the kerb. The steering wheel has a pair of tabs on the lower left arc, at around the seven o-clock position, and a flick back or forth is what changes the information on the dash display. The Info button on the spoke changes the info on the upper screen, and includes angles of incline, economy, and drive distribution when underway. Centre console rocker switches for the front seat heating sit close to the X-Drive control knob (chromed in the Forester, a tab in the XV) and they warm the seats quickly in the Forester. The XV has leather appointed cloth sports style seats and no heating is fitted here.

The driver’s seat is powered and has memory positioning. Leather trim is found on the Forester’s seats, cloth for the XV Hybrid. Cargo room is 509L to 1,779L in the Forester, 345L to 919L in the XV, showcasing the differing rear roof lines plus the higher cargo floor in the XV.

The dash design is classy bar one small niggle. The USB ports up front and well and truly buried in a niche that requires unnecessary fiddling to access. There’s some crouching down required in order to first sight the ports then actually insert cables. Ancillary controls for the driver are smartly laid out and visible above the driver’s right knee. There are a couple of acronyms in the pair; SRH is Steering Responsive Headlights and AVH is Auto Vehicle Hold, the braking mechanism on slopes.What About Safety?: From the Subaru website: Subaru’s Vision Assist technology featuring: Front View Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Reverse Automatic Braking, Side View Monitor. There is also the Driver Monitoring System – Driver Focus3 featuring distraction and drowsiness warning. There is an icon on the driver’s dash display and warning tones aplenty of it reads the face and feels the eyes haven’t been looking forward. airbags are seven in number.On The Road It’s: Surprising in a couple of ways. In the case of the hybrid system in the Toyota range, the cars start in a fully electric ready to go mode. The cars then will reach 20kph before the petrol engine switches in. In the case of the Forester and XV, the petrol engine is rotating from the get-go. Select Drive, gently squeeze the go pedal, and there’s plenty of urge as both battery and petrol get the cars underway.There is an EV icon in the driver’s display area, and this appears moreso when the cars are cruising on the highway, and the petrol engine is barely ticking over. There’s a fair bit of engine noise when really pushing it, such as going up hills, and this was where the Forester really suffered in economy. That smaller tank didn’t help as just after 260 kilometres covered the gauge said it was half empty. The XV had more kilometres on the petrol engine and felt noticeably perkier, looser, more spritely.

Certain sections of the acceleration curve felt more linear, less stressed than the Forester. However, no matter what, compared to the system in Toyota’s range, the petrol engines here felt more “always on”, and engage the EV system far less than Toyota’s. The Toyota setup is definitely EV up to 20kph, the Subaru setup says it should but doesn’t. Even on very light throttle pressing on the highway, the petrol engine is still engaged.

Also, the CVT isn’t bad, but there’s still that sense of energy sapping depending on how the throttle is used. Under hard acceleration there’s that constant sense of slipping however more a snese of gears changing. Lighter throttle pressing seems to have better response and more a traditional CVT feel with revs rising and motion increasing.The attached image shows Subaru’s intent. In real terms the engine package is the only difference in how they drive. The brakes have a slightly more responsive feel, the steering is quick and light to the touch, and there is little to quibble about in regards to the roadholding abilities. With the all wheel drive grip levels and torque vectoring facility, both cars can be pushed into turns and corners with plenty of confidence. On longer sweeping corners there is a distinct lack of need to constantly adjust the steering as well.

What About Safety?: Both cars have a five star rating. Both have Subaru’s much vaunted Eyesight safety system. There is a Driver Monitoring System that literally watches the driver’s face. There is facial recognition and looks for drowsiness and distraction cues. Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic, Reverse Braking for when sensors pick up an object in a reversal path, Forward Collision Warning (which can be a bit overly sensitive), and seven airbags round out a very solid package.

What About Warranty And Service?: Like most hybrid makers, it’s a little mixed. The main range comes with a 5 Years/Unlimited kilometres warranty period, with the Subaru New Vehicle Warranty period on high-voltage batteries for Subaru Hybrid vehicles is 8 years/160,000 kilometres, whichever comes first. It seems unlikely that drivers would do less than 160,000 over eight years.

Servicing costs for the hybrids are the same. The first checkup after one month is free, with the Forester S Hybrid and XV Hybrid on a 12 month or 12,500 kilometre cycle. The first service cost $350.25, followed by B’ Service 24 months or 25,000kms at $588.31, and then the ‘C’ Service 36 months or 37,500kms is $354.83. The final two are ‘D’ Service, 48 months or 50,000kms, $784.77 and ‘E’ Service 60 months or 62,500kms at $354.86.

At The End Of The Drive. It’s mixed feelings. Given Subaru’s own fuel consumption figures, and that we recently got 5.0L/100km from a Camry Hybrid, loaded with four adults, some baggae, and a mid sized pooch, they fall short of expectations. They’re not big cars, they’ve been driven in urban areas, yes, but with one aboard for pretty much most of the drive cycles. There is no question about the rest of the package, with the interiors largely up to the very high standard seen in Subaru vehicles, and the technology seen for some years now. But in a hybrid sense? More work to be done, we suspect. Pick your Subaru here. http://credit-n.ru/vklady.html