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Kia Confirms Sorento Details For Australia.

Kia has officially unveiled the forthcoming 2021MY Sorento. To be available in a four trim model range and coming with either a 3.5L V6 petrol engine or a refined 2.2L diesel, with an auto for the petrol and a DCT (dual clutch transmission) for the diesel, the Sorento has been sharpened, redesigned, and upgraded across the board. It’s also the first new Kia to be built upon the brand’s ‘N3’ SUV platform.

The four levels are: S, Sport, Sport +, and GT-Line. The petrol engine will drive the front wheels, the diesel will be powering all four corners. The petrol engine will deliver 200kW and 332Nm, with the diesel spinning Kia’s new wet-clutch DCT. Power from the 2.2L engine is 148kW and delivers torque of 440Nm. The engine itself now has a alloy head and this reduces weight by close to 20kg.

Pricing starts from $45,850 RRP and $46,990 drive-away for the 2WD petrol S. The Sport starts from $48,470 RRP and $49,990 drive-away with the Sport+ at $52,850 RRP and $54,390 drive-away. The GT-Line Petrol sees $60,070 RRP and $61,990 drive-away. Premium paint is a $695 option.

For the diesels in the same trim levels, Kia says the S will start from $48,850 RRP and $49,990. The Sport starts at $51,470 RRP and drive-away at $52,990. In Sport+ trim it’s $55,850 RRP and $57,390 drive-away. GT-Line is $63,070 RRP and $64,990 drive-away. To be built at the Hwasung plant in Korea, the Sorento will come with Kia’s 7-Year unlimited kilometre Warranty, 7-Year Capped Price Service, and 7-Year Roadside Assist.“The outgoing Sorento was a game-changer in the Australian market with previously untapped safety and convenience levels in the segment _ and the all-new model continues to take that story forward,” Kia Motors Australia Chief Operating Officer Damien Meredith said. “Across the four trim levels we believe the Sorento will meet the needs, and exceed the expectations, of anyone shopping in the seven-seat SUV market.” Mr Meredith said that Sorento’s evolution over the last 18 years echoes that of the Kia brand as a whole. “While the car was initially launched in 2002 as a utilitarian body on frame all-terrain vehicle, it quickly evolved into a more luxurious monocoque construction and now, in its fourth generation, Sorento has been transformed into something once again more desirable.”

The exterior design cues start with the signature “tiger grille” and the headlights have a “tiger eye LED DRL. Much like the recently revealed Carnival, lines draw the eye to the headlight design which further creates a tiger face impression. The lower air intake has been revised too, with a more rectangular shape, and again similar to Carnival has wing shaped air curtains to funnel air. Restyled tail lights do away with the formerly horizontally oriented design, and now have a pair of vertically strips with an uppermost angle-forward design that echoes the rear window’s trailing edge.As is common with updates, there has been a change in size. Width is up by 10mm to 1,900mm. Length is up by the same to 4,810mm however the front and rear overhangs have been subtly reduced which makes the Sorento look longer. In between is a wheelbase that’s up by 35mm to 2,815mm.

The new model is 1900mm wide, 10mm wider than the third-generation Sorento. In profile, the proportions of the Sorento are subtly adapted to make it appear longer. The new model is 10mm longer than its predecessor (now 4810mm), yet it features shorter front and rear overhangs. The additional length is found in the wheelbase (a result of the Sorento’s new platform), which has grown by 35mm to 2815mm. The A-pillar has been pushed back by 30mm and leads to a 10mm taller roofline. New styling cues are found with the shark-fin on the C-pillar and the completely redesigned tail lights. The model’s name is emblazoned across the tailgate. Colourwise the new Sorento will offer seven exterior paint finishes with Clear White the standard, plus six Premiums: Mineral Blue (New Colour), Snow White Pearl, Steel Grey, Silky Silver, Aurora Black and Gravity Blue. All trims will have a full-size spare in 17-inch, 18-inch, 19-inch or 20-inch depending on trim level.

The interior also has had the wand waved. The GT-Line will have mood lighting in the door trim and from underneath the dashboard, and will have a pair of digital displays which at 12.3 inch (GT-Line) and 10.25 inch (Sport, Sport+ and GT-Line, 8.0 in S) that will control most of the car’s functions. The layout will provide an almost ultra-widescreen experience. Capacitive touch buttons on the screen sides will provide the control options. Trim materials across the range have been revised with embossed black cloth, leather appointed black cloth and black quilted Nappa leather appointed seats being available depending on the model chosen.Increasing the wheelbase sees cargo and passenger carrying ability increased with 616L growing to 2,011L with all seats folded. With the third row raised there is still 187L available, an increase of 32% compared to the previous model. Controls for the rear seat passengers see a soft touch button to fold the second row. These also have a sliding increase of 45mm for extra access. Third row passengers have an armrest that has increased by 100mm and incorporate a smartphone tray and cupholder.

Ride and handling will be improved in the new 2021 Sorento; the increased wheelbase partners with a 4% tighter bodyshell (made from steel and aluminuim for strength and weight reduction) for increased rigidity and reduced body vibration. Geometry changes to the suspension have increased road-holding and for those that enjoy some off-road action, a new Terrain mode for the diesel engines, operated via a rotary dial in the centre console, provide better traction in Snow, Mud, and Sand.Convenience features include Bluetooth pairing for two phones, three USB ports up front and two for second row passengers (Sport and GT-Line), plus 12V sockets for the third row passengers. Sport+ and GT-Line offer an extra pair of USBs. GT-Line will have a HUD or Head Up Display and a 12 speaker Bose system for pure sounds. The other three models will have six speaker sound.

For safety Kia’s Advanced Driver Assist System, ADAS, includes Kia’s Autonomous Emergency Braking technology with pedestrian, cyclist and vehicle detection. This also detects oncoming traffic when making a turn at a junction. The Sorento is also available with Blind-spot View Monitor (GT-Line only), Surround View Monitor (GT-Line) and Blind-spot Collision-avoid Assist, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Lane Following Assist and Driver Attention Warning. Kia’s ‘level two’ autonomous driving technology, Lane Following Assist (LFA), controls acceleration, braking and steering depending on the vehicles in front. LFA operates between speeds of 0 and 180 kph, using camera and radar sensors to maintain a safe distance from the car in front, while monitoring road markings to keep the Sorento in the centre of its lane.The new Sorento also features a Rear View Monitor (RVM) with Reverse Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist (PCA) (GT-Line only), and Rear Cross-traffic Collision-avoidance Assist (RCCA). In addition, it is also the first Kia available with the company’s new Remote Smart Parking Assist (RSPA) (GT-Line only), which enables drivers to move their car autonomously out of a front-and-back parking space remotely with their key fob. This is designed to make it easier for passengers to get in and out of the car in tight parking spaces or if another driver parks too close to access any of the doors.

RSPA brakes the Sorento automatically if it detects another car, cyclist or pedestrian behind the vehicle or crossing behind it. The Sorento’s Safe Exit Assist feature also prevents rear doors from opening if the vehicle detects a hazard approaching from behind, such as a cyclist or another vehicle. Advanced driver assistance systems with new Remote Smart Parking Assist

There are seven airbags which includes a centre airbag but not a kneebag. There is also Kia’s Multi-collision Brake System, a crash mitigation system that engages the brakes when the system’s airbags have been deployed, further adding safety from other potential impacts.

The 2021 Sorento is available for test drives at Kia dealerships.

2020 Nissan Juke ST: Private Fleet Car Review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the Juke ST from Nissan for yourself here.

Hyundai Gets Edgy For 2021 With Tucson And Kona.

Hyundai has released teaser images of what looks like a radical new direction for the brand. Tucson has been a solid mover for the company and was given a refresh in 2019. To be formally unveiled on September 15, the images show what Hyundai calls “The mission of ‘Sensuous Sportiness'” and includes a startling front end look.Parametric Hidden Lights is the term, and these LED powered illuminators are embedded in the grille structure, and are visible only when the Tucson powers up. Completely redesigned rear lights bring a sense of Euro style.The car will also be, for the first time, available in a long and short wheelbase offering. The overall size of the vehicle has been increased too with a longer bonnet matched by shorter overhangs. Sharp crease lines bring definition to the profile. Inside is a pair of cockpit-like sections for driver and passenger, separated by a floating console with an embedded touch interface.Kona has been given some freshening as well, both in looks and the range. Hyundai’s N-Line is now part of the range for the popular small SUV. This brings a bespoke look for the N-Line’s motorsport inspired range, with a chin spoiler featuring winglet endplates, Santa Fe style headlights underneath thin LED driving lights, and a sharper delineation to the leading edge of the bonnet line. The grille surrounds have also been redone.The rear has been made-over with the brake lights slimmed down to match the front whilst the indicator clusters have been raised and restyled. The wheel arches are body coloured, rather than the black urethane normally seen.

The “normal” Kona retains the black cladding, and the nose has a more notable alloy-look chin. There’s a resemblance to the N-Line’s design, with each end of the alloy strip bending upwards as if mimicking the winglets. Again the rear mirrors the nose, with a similarly styled alloy look insert here. In addition, there are new wheels and the Kona has grown in length by 40mm.Interior changes make for a fresher look too. LED illumination for the cup holders, and there are new seat cover options which include a black woven houndstooth design, cloth seats with black and grey embossing, and perforated leather seats in black, beige, or khaki.A redesigned console sees it dropped and separated from the dash, emphasising the horizontal lines of the restyled dashboard. And the Kona will have an electric parking brake for that bit of extra convenience.

Tech wise, the Kona gains the 10.25 inch screen as seen in the new i20. An option is the same sized screen with comes with a split-screen function and multiple Bluetooth connections. There will also be DAB radio, and wireless Android Auto and Apple Car Play for convenient wireless connectivity of their phones to the Display Audio system. A new feature and one, sadly required, is Leading Vehicle Departure Alert (LVDA), which alerts the driver if they do not react fast enough when the vehicle ahead of them starts moving. Another is Lane Following Assist (LFA), which automatically adjusts steering to assist the driver to keep in the centre of the lane.

Australian spec models are due for release in early 2021.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Active-X Diesel: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: The newly added, to the Santa Fe range, Active-X trim level. It brings the Santa Fe into line with its smaller sibling, Tucson. There’s one transmission, two engines, and four trim levels now, being Active, Active-X, Elite, and Highlander.

How Much Does It Cost?: It’s a bit more than expected, at $47,020 plus on-road costs for the petrol fed 3.5L V6, and $50,050 plus on-road costs for the 2.2L diesel. That’s a increase of $3,030 compared to the Active but $5,050 cheaper than the mid-range Elite.

Under The Bonnet Is: Hyundai’s familiar 2.2L oiler, driving the front and rear wheels via a mostly on-song eight speed auto. 147kW is the peak power, however the numbers to look at are 440Nm from that comparatively small engine. Compare that to the 336Nm at higher revs inside the 3.5L petrol V6 and immediately there’s a sense of why the diesel is, on paper, a better choice.The diesel has a starting weight of close to 2,000 kilos yet returns an economy figure of 8.6L/100km on our 70/30 urban to highway test. Hyundai quote 9.9L/100km for the urban cycle and 7.5L/100km on the combined from the 71.0L tank. Towing is rated at 2,000 kilos braked.

On The Inside It’s: A seven seater with the delightfully easy pull-strap system for the third row. The driver’s seat is manual lever arch in movement, not powered. For the Active-X, the extra trim means leather bolstering for the seats with black or dark beige being available. There is privacy glass at the rear. Being a Santa Fe, interior room is no issue. There is 995mm of head room for the centre folding row and 917mm for the third row. Leg room is 1,048mm to 1,120mm up front, and a whopping 1,001mm for the centre. The rear has 741mm. These are courtesy of the wheelbase of 2,765mm. 547L to 1,625L is the cargo space available. Thankfully, Hyundai fit a full sized spare wheel too.There is no DAB nor satnav natively, relying on smartphone connectivity to provide those. However a nice touch is the vented glove-box, rain sensing wipers, push button start, and auto headlights. The dash itself is a pair of deep scallops with a switchable binnacle design for right and land hand drive markets and this sits above a dark grey, diamond shape embossed, strip that runs from either side. There’s soft touch material for the rook lining and pillars. the front seats have seat pockets for the centre row passengers, who also gain a pair of charging sockets and airvents, including a roof mounted outlet.On The Outside It’s: Got a satin chrome finish to the door handles, courtesy light at night, and 10 spoke, dual blade, turbine style wheels of 18 inches in diameter. Hankook supplies the rubber at 235/60 from their Ventus range. Folding mirrors hide puddle lamps as well. The exterior is now around two years old, with the eyebrow LED driving lights that many people believe are headlights and use them that way at night. The actual headlights have been dropped further down to bracket the Hyundai grille in their own recessed section. A strong feature line joins the upper edge of the driving lights with the tail lights. Indicators here are down in the lower bumper rather than at a safer, eye-height level inside the tail lights.What About Safety?: It is typical Hyundai, meaning there is virtually nothing missing. Under their SmartSense banner, the Santa Fe Active-X has forward collision avoidance and autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot assist, driver attention warning, high beam assist, lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, rear occupant alert, and adaptive cruise control with stop-go. So if you manage to crash this you’ve stamped yourself as special, and not in a good sense. There is also a rear view camera with guidelines on the screen, tyre pressuring monitoring (across the range) and six airbags.What About Warranty And Servicing?: Warranty is standard at five years and unlimited kilometres. Servicing is variable and comes under a couple of options.

On The Road It’s: Mostly benign and easy to drive. The torque of the 2.2L is light-switch variable from a standing start, and requires both a gentle foot and an understanding of how some engines go from mild to wild. That peak torque is available between 1,750 to 2,750 rpm and it comes into play very quickly. What this means is a gentle squeeze of the go-pedal is required, otherwise it’s the more typical, and still annoying, deep breath then kapow as the torque suddenly arrives, rather than a more linear delivery. That’s the bad news.

Otherwise it’s as easy to drive as can be imagined. The eight speed auto surges, or “flares” in conjunction with the engine revs initially but is otherwise fluid, smooth, quick to react. the engine is a free-revver, allowing for bare flexing of the right ankle to see overtaking done easily, or simply waft along in relative quiet. Rolling acceleration is pin your ears back quick too, with the eight speed auto silently responding to the demand and dropping down through the cogs easily before climbing back up with the same sense of quiet.

Steering can feel heavy, which is strange given it’s quick in having just 2.5 turns from lock to lock. Heavy, though, only at very low speeds; get the Santa fe Active-X up and running and it lightens up slightly, with still a sense of weight in the effort.

Naturally there are drive modes and we drove ours mostly in Smart, the learning mode that adapts the transmission and engine package to suit the driving style. Otherwise there are also Sport, Comfort, Eco, which are preprogrammed and can be very handy depending on the intended drive route. The suspension itself seems more attuned to Sport with the MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear feeling quite taut. It easily absorbs the smaller yumps and bumps before tightening up, decreasing rebound and floatiness.The brakes bite well however the vented front discs are just 320mm. This brings in that fine line of measuring the speed against the rate of slowing, as more than once the brain said the effort was spot on yet the gap to the vehicle in front was closing quicker than expected.

At The End Of the Drive. The Active-X is that ideal gap-filler and also adds extra appeal to the Santa Fe. The spec level seems to fit the younger family that are tech-savvy by using teh smartphone compatibility for audio and navigation, but not necessarily chasing some of the upper luxury features. By having the seven seats, with the completely flat folding third row, it provides them that flexibility for the family as well.

 

2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT: Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A car that embodies every male stereotype when it comes to cars. Brawny, hairy chested, muscle-laden etc thanks to the powerplant and exhaust notes. There are a staggering eight variants of the Grand Cherokee and the SRT is the second from the top behind the slightly harder edged Trackhawk.

How Much Does It Cost?: List prices is $92,450 plus on road costs. Premium paint, such as the Diamond Black Crystal on our review vehicle, is $895. Using the Jeep website, it comes up with a drive-away price of $98,343.Under The Bonnet Is: 6.4L of pure joy. It’s the Hemi V8, one step down from the supercharged 6.2L V8 fitted to the Trackhawk. Running on 98 RON, it produces 344kW and 624Nm of torque at 4,100rpm. But there is a price to pay for that sheer exuberance. Our best economy figure was 12.3L/100km and that on a gentle highway run with a maximum speed of 80kph. The overall average was closer to 16.0L/100km from a 93.0L tank.

Jeep themselves quote 20.7L/100km on the urban cycle, 10.1L/100km for the highway, and 14.0/100km for the combined. the engine has fuel saving technology, effectively running as a V4 on cruise mode.

The transmission here is an eight speed auto, and apart from some staggering when cold, is as good an eight speed auto as you can get. It’s well ratioed to take advantage of the torque, and a 4.9 second sprint to 100kmh backs that up. There is launch control fitted and this dials the engine up to 1,800rpm before flinging the 2,289kg (dry) SRT to the horizon.On The Inside It’s: Packed with the bits and bobs you’d expect from a near $100K machine. There’s carbon-fibre look trim that spreads from door to door, stitched leather look trim on the dash, heated and vented seats, a heated steering wheel, aircon and USB ports for the second row seats, and a thumping Harman Kardon audio system. Front and centre is the UConnect infotainment system that doubles up on some areas with hard press buttons. It’s also home to the drive mode settings that are access from the centre console. There is a dial that provide easy access to the varying programs however it’s the 8.0 inch screen that shows the Street/Sport/Track modes for the engine, suspension, steering, and others, allowing personalisation across the board, so a driver can have Street steering, Sport suspension, and Track transmission.The seats are leather trimmed with the centre section a suede material. It’s immediately a warmer feel to the touch and for cold areas it saves that initial unwelcome cold thrill. The seats do warm quickly, as does the tiller, when activated. The centre console cup holders have blue LED lighting, and a nice convenient feature is the powered steering column. Up front is a 12V socket (one for the rear in the cargo bay) and a pair of USBs. These are hidden under a soft-touch door that’s the same alloy look material as the console.In front of the driver is a full colour LCD screen and Jeep have cleverly sectioned it off to display different kinds of information. The centre is the main dial for the rev counter and displays the launch control information. The left side shows the screen selected info graphic, the right the driven gear, top left the expected range and top right the temperature and more drive mode info. It’s a clever look and most effective, as it directs the driver’s eyes to the important info. Unusually, indication and wipers are on the same stalk, not a left and right lever setup Design wise the dash look is also easy on the eye, and the elegant “W” shape to the actual dash envelopes both front seat passengers.The second row passengers have plenty of room for legs, head, and shoulder, and having independent vents plus their own pair of USB ports emphasises the family friendly aspect of the Grand Cherokee SRT. There’s plenty of cargo space as well, 782L, with access via the standard powered tailgate. Jeep also fit a full sized spare here, thankfully. Oddly, the switch to lower the tailgate isn’t on the base of the door, like everyone else, it’s on the inside left. What this means is that any person pressing that needs to be quick to move out of the way.On The Outside It’s: Big, blocky, and imposing in the black over black colour scheme fitted. The badges are blacked out, the 295/45/20 Pirelli P-Zero rubber wrap blacked alloys, and at 4,846mm in length, it’s up there as one of the bigger SUVs. Having a height of 1,749mm means it stands tall against many and also means stepping into the Grand Cherokee SRT is easy. Wide opening doors also assist here.The bonnet has vents, nostrils, if you like. Unlike nearly everyone else, they’re functional, not merely a plastic garnish. This helps the big engine breathe at speed. The major design look hasn’t really changed in a few years so there are the same slimline headlights with integrated LED indicators, which dim the headlight running lights when activated. Underneath are a pair of LED cornering lamps.On The Road It’s: Largely dependent on which drive mode is selected. Street has a soft suspension feel, and the mass of the Grand Cherokee SRT becomes noticeable. There’s more body movement and at times it was a little stomach-queasy. Latch onto the Sport mode and immediately the big machine settles down, becomes more stable, and feels more controllable via the right foot.

That right foot is also responsible for the volume of the twin exhausts. It’s a muted, distant, rumble from start-up, although with an initial bark. Gentle driving has that subterranean rumble a constant, and it’s when the right ankle flexes in anger, that noise increases in volume and note, changing from that rumble to a full on fight between two lions. There’s a truly astounding feeling experienced as the pitch vibrates the rib cage, whilst simultaneously pinning the body back into the seats. Even with the windows up there is some serious pounding on the ears, and this brings in the hard edged snarl as revs climb.The steering wheel is on the large side, not just in the heft of the wheel but the diameter. It brings a bus-like feel to how the Grand Cherokee SRT is steered, with a more bent armed stance. It’s not uncomfortable but neither is it right for a longer armed sporting drive. This is important as the big tyres would tramline noticeably at times, with the wheel needing constant driver attention to overcome the pull of the rubber on the road.Having a variable suspension made testing them interesting. One long and flat road was home to the changes and it became obvious that the settings will appeal to different driver styles. As mentioned, Street came across as a softer and wallowy style, Sport noticeably tighter and overall our pick. Track goes tighter still and then becomes too jittery, too jarring, even on a relatively flat road. Of course, the name itself strongly hints at where its intended environment lays.Big Brembos haul down the SRT easily, and without fade constantly. The pedal has a light feel to start and progressively feels heavier as the pedal travel increases. Transmission wise, there is the SelecTrack off-road capability however there is no two speed transfer case in deference to its more tarmac oriented engineering.

Economy wise, it can be driven to a limit. On our return journey, the estimated range was 95km. The trip distance is 75km. We arrived at the changeover point with 90km expected range left and an economy of 15.6km/100km…What About Safety?: Jeep has ensured that the range lacks for nothing. Only the entry level model, Night Eagle, misses out on a driver’s kneebag, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Rear Cross path (Traffic) Detection. In a driving sense, the Night Eagle also misses out on the Adaptive Cruise Control. Otherwise, the range, including the SRT gets the full kit of safety features which includes Trailer Sway Control and Rain Brake Support.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years or 100,000 kilometres with a 12,000 kilometres or 12 month service cycle. Capped priced servicing is $399. Roadside assistance is now standard for the lifetime of the warranty.

At The End of The Drive. Jeep is undergoing a transformation, with a recognition of issues when it comes to customer service. We’ve been on the receiving end of nothing but marvellous service due to two previous review vehicles suffering serious issues.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT exhibited no issues at all. You’d expect that for a vehicle price knocking on $100K. It’s a product for a certain market, and the SRT’s heart is that big V8. It’s both the appeal and the letdown. The appeal because it’s so much fun to listen to, to experience the sheer urge and exuberance of that Hemi. The letdown is simple; that enjoyment is at a price, being how quickly the 6.4L engine can drain the tank.

However that engine shutdown feature can assist and hopefully at another time a proper highway cycle run can be driven, but we did see just how relatively efficient gentle driving could be.

The Grand Cherokee range can be explored here.

SUV Sales Pass 50% of Monthly Sales for the First Time

Australia’s new car market has seen a significant milestone – for the first time ever, over one in two cars sold last month were an SUV. Official data for July 2020 by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries showed SUVs comprised 50.4% of all new vehicles sold.

 

 

Taking a closer look

While SUV sales topped passenger vehicles some time ago – back in 2017, in fact – to see SUV sales now above 50% of the entire market tells us how far this format has come. It is a clear winner among Australian households right across the country.

In comparison, the performance of the passenger vehicle category continues to decline, accounting for just 25% of sales last month. With utes, vans and heavy-industry vehicles making up the other 25%, it looks like it won’t be long before passenger vehicles are on the outer altogether! One just has to look at the category back in 2012, when passenger cars represented 51.7% of all new car sales. How times have changed!

No one can say the trend has been slow moving either. Sure, SUVs have been around for a couple decades, but they have particularly risen to prominence across the last decade as the improving versatility and functionality of SUVs have all but underpinned their explosive growth.

With last month’s tally coming in at 36,500 SUV sales, that’s almost double what the industry recorded back in July 2010. Let’s not forget either, we are in the midst of the worst economic crisis of modern history, so we’re certainly not comparing apples with oranges here as back then, conditions were no worse.

 

 

Where to from here?

If it didn’t already make a lot of sense why every brand and manufacturer is pivoting towards the SUV category, then it should now. It’s what Australians want.

Designers are pulling out all the tricks to spur on this momentum and create vehicles that, in the eyes of motorists, appeal to all their senses. Gone are the old perceptions of SUVs being relegated to ‘soccer mums’ or strictly for off-road adventures. From just one SUV category a decade ago, the segment is now brimming with various offers, each pitched to the different needs of motorists from all walks of life.

The next milestone in sight? SUVs making up 50% of all new car sales across a calendar year. Guess what? It’s not likely to be all that far away!

Audi RS Adds Spice TO Q3 Range And Hyundai Gets Xtra Active

2020 Audi RS Q3 Sportback

Audi’s performance badge, RS, has been added to the Q3 range, as has the model’s first Sportback. Two of the most powerful Q3 derivatives have arrived in Australia to redefine the premium compact SUV segment: the all-new Audi RS Q3 and first-ever RS Q3 Sportback. Powered by a 294kW five cylinder with turbo, the pair are priced from $89,900 for the RS Q3 and $92,900 for the RS Q3 Sportback. Peak torque is spot on for the compact SUV, with 480Nm on tap and belting RS Q3 to 100kmh in 4.5 seconds. Audi’s fabled quattro AWD underpins both models via a seven speed S-tronic auto.

There will be little to ask for in the RS Q3, as 21 inch wheels, the RS Sport exhaust, a pair of RS bespoke drive modes, and an RS Sport suspension system are standard. Damper control, wheel-selective torque control, and a progressive steering ratio are also standard. Visual spice comes from a rejigged three dimensional looking grille, a bespoke blackout package, metallic paint, and matrix-LED headlights with RS specific surrounds for the indicators.

Passengers will sit in Nappa leather seats with honeycomb stitching, and stay warm or cool via three zone climate control. Cargo space has 40:20:40 split fold flexibility on sliding second row seats. Safety has a 360 degree camera, lane departure, rear cross traffic alert, and adaptive cruise plus AEB. Tech levels come in with an RS menu on a 12.3 inch screen for the virtual cockpit, a B&O 680W sound system pound tunes through 15 speakers, a wireless charge pad and smart app compatibility. 2 USB ports for both front and rear seat passengers allow charging on the go along with Audi connect plus services.

Buyers can select eight exterior colours, a matt aluminuim style package, a RS extended design package, and two service plan packages. There are three years or five years, and priced at $2,320 or $3,420.

“The all-new RS Q3 range is unique in its segment, combining its award-winning engine with exceptional design and incredible performance. The arrival of the first-ever RS Q3 Sportback extends on Audi’s high-performance portfolio range and debuts as the first vehicle to be offered within the compact SUV segment – an entirely new segment of vehicles that we are delighted to offer our customers.” said Paul Sansom, Managing Director at Audi Australia.

Deliveries start from July 24 and orders can be placed online via audi.com.au

2020 Audi RS Q3 Sportback

Hyundai’s popular Santa Fe has been given some extra oomph with the addition of the Active X. Powered by a 3.5L petrol V6 or torquey 2.2L diesel, it finds a home between the entry level Active and mid-spec Elite. Transmission is an eight speed auto driving the front wheels in the petrol, and all corners for the diesel. Pricing starts from $47,020 plus on-roads for the petrol and $50,050 plus on-roads for the diesel. Premium paint is $695, and buyers can specify for the Active X a dark beige interior at $295.
Standard features are extensive: 18 inch alloys underpin the Active X, with extra safety from front parking sensors incorporated into the standard Safety Sense system. Comfort comes from leather appointed seats, dual-zone climate control (with auto de-fog), rain sensing wipers, and cooling inside the glovebox. Puddle lamps and courtesy lights add both safety at night and visual appeal, and handy tech from folding mirrors and Smart Key access.

Exterior colours are seven, with the interior trim having a premium finish dashboard, fabric A-pillar covers and melange knit headlining. Black is also available for the interior as an option. extra value comes from a tyre pressure monitoring system, smart app compatibility, privacy glass for the rear occupants, and Smart Cruise Control with auto stop/start.
“Santa Fe Active X expands our award-winning family vehicle range, offering customers desirable features and technology at a price point that makes it unique in the large SUV market,” said Hyundai Motor Company Australia Chief Operating Officer, John Kett.

Capped price servicing applies to a 12 month or 15K drive cycle, and is $330 for the petrol for years 1,2, and 5, with $390 for years 3 and 4. The diesel is $435 for all years except year 4 at $499. The warranty is five years and unlimited kilometres. Roadside assistance is available for the first 12 months and when servicing with Hyundai, customers will also receive a 10 Year Sat Nav Update Plan, a Roadside Support Plan for up to 10 years and more.

Contact Hyundai Australia for availability and to book a test drive.

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.