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More Motoring Matchmaking

We know that the number of cars on offer these days, both new and second hand, is pretty overwhelming. This is why we do our best to match up the right car with the right person. This is one of the reasons behind our car reviews, so you can get an idea of what each new vehicle coming onto the Aussie market is like (and quite a few second-hand ones as well, as our archive of car reviews goes back to 2008). Nevertheless, even this can be a bit daunting if you don’t know where to start.

Mercedes Benz Logo

It’s all very well for motoring enthusiasts who know their Mazdas from their Mercedes (what is the plural of Mercedes? Mercedi? Mercedeses? Mercedoi?). But what about those looking for a new car who don’t know quite so much?

Mazda Logo

To help out this category of people, we’ve put together a collection of stereotyped people along with their motoring needs and a suggestion as to what car would suit them best.  As before, if you can relate to one of these stereotypes but you already have a particular car in mind that you want, then you can go ahead and ignore the suggestion – or if you can’t stand the type of car we suggest for some reason (e.g. you object to the imagery of a particular logo, such as the serpent swallowing a humanoid figure of Alfa Romeo), then feel free to reject our suggestions!

This time, it’s the gents’ turn…

The Professor: David is known at his university for his brilliant research and for his lecturing style, which is full of digressions and tangents but still manages to be interesting… if you’re into applied mathematics.  In terms of motoring, David doesn’t need to carry much, except the laptop, a briefcase of students’ papers to be marked (yes, even in these online days, there are some of these) and maybe a suitcase to be carried to the airport before a conference.  With nearby conferences, he may take another passenger with him.  Whether he’s driving alone or whether he has a passenger, David’s brilliant mind often finds driving tedious and if he’s not careful, he will be a bit slow off the mark at red lights because he’s been finding the square root of the registration plate number on the car ahead of him.  There also have been a few close calls at intersections and lane changes.  As numbers do it for him and he has been known to use his own motoring habits as raw data, he’ll collect all sorts of statistics from the car’s trip computer and use them to make up real-life examples for his undergraduate lectures.

Suggested vehicle for David: Lexus ES, Audi A6, Volvo S90, Mercedes Benz E-Class, Skoda Fabia, Skoda Octavia, Mazda6

Volvo S90

The Sportsman: You usually find Bryan out on the rugby field or a field for any code of football, as long as it involves getting muddy and sweaty, and possibly bloody as well. Either that or you’ll find him in the showers afterwards. Bryan is generous minded and is the first to volunteer to drive everybody he can fit into a vehicle to an away game… and he gets a few laughs out of being the designated sober driver after the match who videos everybody’s drunken antics and posting them on social media (hopefully in a private message or on something less permanent like Snapchat). As ferrying a vehicle full of muddy, sweaty and possibly intoxicated adults can get a bit… fragrant… the vehicle should be easy to clean. A good sound system is a must for everybody to sing along to (or at least make a noise that can loosely be described as “singing” but sounds more like a donkey in pain).

Suggested vehicle for Bryan: Honda Odyssey, BMW 2-Series Gran Tourer, VW Touran, Toyota Tarago, Kia Carnival, LDV G10, Hyundai iMax, Peugeot 5008, Skoda Kodiaq

Kia Carnival

Cop Wannabe: Stephen loves cop shows and movies, and he nurtures a few dreams of entering the force. If Stephen wasn’t stuck behind the desk in his job as an accountant at the moment and loaded with mortgages and responsibilities, he’d sign up to train as a rookie. In the meantime, he tries to live his fantasy out when he’s behind the wheel, filling in time stuck in traffic daydreaming about being hot on the trail of a desperate criminal. This fantasy is particularly vivid when he’s got the family dog (an Alsatian, of course) in the back as his “K9 partner”.  If it’s his turn to carpool the kids, he has been known to tell some of these vivid stories, suitably edited for tender ears, to the kids to entertain them on the way.  During the ride, he is quick to pounce on infringements by other drivers and any misdemeanours by the kids, such as opening doors. He adores gadgets and telecommunications that play into his dreams of being contacted by a dispatcher, even if the dispatcher is the wife asking him to stop in for bread, milk and cat food on the way back from work.

Suggested vehicle for Stephen: Audi RS4, Audi A6 Avant, Volvo V60, Volvo V90, Subaru Levorg, Subaru Outback, BMW 5-Series Touring, BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Suzuki SX4, Land Rover Discovery, Mazda CX-9, Skoda Kodiaq

Audi A6 Avant

 

How Does Stop-Start Technology Work?

Although they have existed for roughly 30 years, and there have been several concerted efforts to push the technology to the masses, stop-start systems have just started to become more popular in our cars. In fact, if you look at new-release vehicles coming to the market today, a fair portion of them are now banking on the technology, and that is outside the luxury segment of the market as well.

With a growing focus on fuel efficiency and sustainable driving, it’s little surprise that it’s only now we are starting to see this shift. According to manufacturers, motorists can save up to 10% on fuel efficiency. Despite this, in terms of practicality, motorists haven’t quite warmed to the technology. Let’s consider the ins and outs in a little more detail.

start-stop

 

What is a stop-start system?

Stop-start systems are a mechanism that is designed to control the operation of the engine. The purpose is to ensure that the engine is only functioning when the car is moving, and not when it is sitting idle. Therefore, when the car is sitting idle, like at traffic lights, the system will automatically turn off the car’s engine. The technology relies on a myriad of sensors to determine things like brake pressure, vehicle speed, gear changes and more. Once you are ready to move again, the system reactivates the engine.

You might be wandering, doesn’t a system that turns the engine off interfere with other functions of the car? Fortunately, the technology includes a bypass that enables things like air conditioning and the like to continue. Unlike some of the earlier iterations of the technology, or even examples from early last decade, today’s systems are ‘smart’ enough to react to changes in driving conditions, such that your car runs smoothly.

In the past there has also been concern around the potential for excessive wear that comes with stop-start technology. While there is no shying away from the fact that the more stop-start scenarios one endures, the more strain you put on various mechanical parts, manufacturers have found ways to mitigate if not offset this altogether. A large part of that strategy relies on a heavy duty starter and battery, while engine bearings are also lubricated to reduce friction with the crankshaft. So you don’t necessarily need to not worry on that front.

 

Does the technology help address emissions?

stop start 2Although lab testing will point to improvements as far as reducing emissions, the reality is always going to be found out in the field. So when it comes to improvements, in the majority of instances where a vehicle is idle for longer than a minute, stop-start technology will deliver fuel savings. Of course, however, there are more permutations to consider, so it’s not possible to say that there will be benefits in every scenario, particularly once driver behaviour starts to play a role in things.

While the prospect of fuel savings is something that can only help your hip pocket, don’t forget that replacement parts or repairs to the system could set you back more than you might otherwise normally be up for. Nonetheless, with the sheer volume of fuel that goes into our cars these days, an estimated 10% reduction is nothing to sneeze at, even if (most) ‘motorheads’ would prefer to have that engine ticking along at all times.

What Fee Structure Should Apply to Electric Vehicles?

Although electric vehicles have yet to become a common sight on our roads, early discussions have focused on the necessary incentives to push them to the public. Now, however, as network operators begin to roll out the critical infrastructure to support the uptake of EVs, a new question is emerging. That is, what fee structure should apply to electric vehicles?

To date, the majority of EV fast charging sites have operated with a fee structure that sees users charged at a per kilowatt hour rate. This means that motorists are effectively paying by the unit of energy they will consume. Consider it a similar strategy to the per litre fee charged at petrol stations. However, more recently, some operators have also begun to implement a second fee, which is a time-based charge.

This measure stands to act as a potential barrier for the uptake of electric vehicles, with affected motorists already voicing their frustration. It should be noted as well that this was an impediment that also sparked controversy in Norway, a well-established domicile for EVs.

 

 

What are we trying to promote?

Considering electric vehicles are one of the only segments of the new car market experiencing growth – even if from a very low base – we need to be proactive in ensuring that policy and regulation is aligned with the goals we have as a community. So if we want more and more drivers to switch over to EVs from ‘inefficient’ vehicles that consume too much fuel, our fee structure needs to be in the interest of road users.

One of the biggest obstacles we currently face is a lack of transparency in pricing. When you drive up to a petrol station, you know what sort of damage your wallet will be in for. On the contrary, EV charging doesn’t involve clear pricing, nor any clarity around the structure with which an operator may apply over their network. Furthermore, if you’re only just new to the electric vehicle landscape, good luck navigating which charging sites are equipped with DC rapid charging or AC destination charging.

 

 

Making sense of it all

In the end, however, kilowatt hour rates make sense. Everyone pays the same rate, regardless of what type of electric vehicle they are driving, without discrimination between a new and old EV. While our petrol-powered vehicles are effectively price-graded based on their age – with newer vehicles more suited to dearer premium fuels – this doesn’t work against motorists driving older vehicles as time-based fees do when it comes to electric vehicles. What’s more, charging a motorist for the time that they are connected but not charging, goes against the very notion that you get what you pay for.

The speed at which electric vehicles charge is largely out of the control of motorists, with older vehicles typically constrained on account of their in-built ‘rectifier’ componentry, as well as batteries that don’t necessarily feature pre-conditioning features found in newer models. EVs running smaller batteries are also up against it due to the need to recharge their battery to a higher percentage than those with a larger battery, which generally charge at a slower rate once they hit 70-80% of their charging capacity.

What’s clear is that if we really intend to promote electric vehicles as a next-gen driving option, we need to come up with a more equitable approach to charging electric vehicle owners. This can’t feature time-based fees as it simply perpetuates a divide between drivers that share the same vision to move towards more sustainable fuel technology. Why should anyone be penalised for that?

 

Korea Progression: 2020 Kia Sorento

Korea’s Kia has loaded up and fired broadsides in the battle to win a buyer’s heart in the thriving SUV passenger vehicle segment.

Kia Sorento.
Currently scheduled for an Australian release sometime mid-year, the updated Sorento has been given a substantial makeover. Key changes are to the exterior, particularly to the rear lights, front lights, and sheet-metal. There is a re-interpretation of the signature tiger nose grille, with a wider design that encompasses the headlights. The headlights have also been re-imagined with what Kia calls a “tiger eye” LED DRL, said to evoke the lines around a tiger’s eyes. The lower air intake is bracketed by a pair of wing shaped intakes that assist in funneling air around the sides of the 2020 Sorento.Kia’s added 10mm to the width taking it to a flat 1,900mm. It’s also longer by the same amount taking it to 4,810mm. The overhangs have been trimmed to give an impression of extra length and this has been helped by an increase in wheelbase length, up to 2,815mm from 2,780mm. Those changes hide the small 10mm increase in total height. Visually, the A-pillars have been pushed back making for a longer bonnet and a character line that draws the eye rearwards to the completely new rear lights. These are a more vertical styling and echo those seen on a premium U.K. brand, particularly with a three bar vertical theme. Underneath is a valance insert that gives the appearance of quad exhausts.Recognisable Sorento design cues and new ones are here. There’s the broad D-pillar at the rear, the poly-carbonate clad wheel arches, and the more modern “shark fin” window insert on the C-pillar. Sharper body mould crease lines also feature. Australian spec Sorentos will have a choice of seven exterior colours and four wheel sizes, from 17 to 20 inches in diameter.

Head inside and Kia’s designers have gone up a notch here. There’s an ultra-widescreen look for the driver and infotainment system, with a 12.3-inch digital driver instrument cluster paired with a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system. The engineers have placed a new haptic feedback system to assist in controlling some key features including the climate control. A new look has been applied to the centre stack too.Ambient lighting is now part of the mood-setting system for the interior. There is downlighting from underneath the dash and inside the door trims. Bose supply the sounds and smartphones have a wireless charge pad. Metallic look trim complements and contrasts with Nappa leather, embossed black cloth, or cloth and leather trimmed pews for a higher quality, more luxurious feel.

The new Sorento is based on Kia’s new third-generation ‘N3’ midsize SUV platform, providing superior space for people and cargo through more intelligent packaging. That platform is classified as a large car platform for Australia, by the way. The result is one of the most versatile and spacious cars in its class. It also allows a new range of engines including hybrids to be fitted to the engine bay. A PHEV, or Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, will also be available.

“Smartstream” is the name given. It will be a 1.6L turbo petrol engine, with a 1.49 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack and 44.2 kW electric motor. The new platform has the battery pack located under the floor below the front seat passenger. Peak torque is rated as 350Nm. Power is rated at around 170kW. Part of this power comes from Kia’s new Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) technology. This works on regulating valve opening time according to driving conditions, instead of operating on a fixed opening time. This boosts performance at low-to-mid engine speeds by between 2 and 3%, and enhances fuel efficiency by up to 3%. A diesel will be available for European markets and is currently yet to be confirmed for Australia. Transmission for the hybrid is a six speed auto and an eight speed for the diesel.

The new chassis has given more cargo space as well. Kia says an increase of 32% for the seven seater version and with all seats in use, up to 187L or 179L for the diesel or hybrid versions. There is also extra head, shoulder, and leg room. There’s more slide room for the second row, with an extra 45mm, and the third row armrest now has a smartphone tray.

Details and pricing will be confirmed closer to the expected release date.

How To Recycle A Car

One of several elephants in the room during the debate on whether or not electric cars should be subsidized or pushed more is the issue of what happens to the old ones that used internal combustion engines (the other elephants include the ones relating to how the electricity will be generated, where the materials for the batteries are going to come from and whether the national grid can handle the extra load). After all, we’ve all seen the junk yards where sad piles of rustbuckets from the early 1980s and written cars sit around going nowhere and doing nothing.  What happens to a car once it’s got to the end of its life and can’t be restored or repaired?

Mind you, it’s amazing what can be restored if people are keen enough. At her wedding, my cousin arrived in an antique car from the 1910s that had spent a decade or so as a chicken coop before being found by an enthusiast and lovingly restored to its full beauty – and it really was lovely!

Anyway, not all dead cars will be used for spare parts, which is the first thing that springs to mind when any car enthusiast thinks about what happens to old cars. Most of us amateur mechanics have headed down to the wrecker’s yard for a spare part or five. However, there are some bits that are no good for spare parts – quite a lot of bits in the case of something that’s been in a smash. The idea of all these car bodies sitting around and taking up space horrifies the environmentalist in me – and I’m the sort who thinks that the waste issue is a lot more serious than carbon emissions.

The good news is that despite those dreary car graveyards, there’s quite a lot on a car that can be recycled. In fact, 85% of the typical car body can be recycled.

The first thing that happens when a car is to be recycled is that the fluids will be drained, and they really do mean all fluids, not just any gas left in the tank and the oil in the engine and transmission. The coolant and what’s in the air conditioning will all be whipped out – and a lot of it can be purified and used in another vehicle. Used car engine oil can be used as fuel for shipping. The gas that activates the airbags will be carefully released – if the airbag hasn’t already gone off in the case of a crash.

Next, the vehicle is stripped of anything that’s still useful. This often includes the battery, the sound system and other electronic bits and bobs, the tyres (if they’re in good condition) and items that wreckers know to be popular and in demand. In fact, the car wreckers do a very good job of salvaging anything that can be salvaged. Even the floor mats are usually good enough to find a new home, as these hardly ever wear out.

Of course, not everything on a dead car can be salvaged and reused as is. But the job of recycling an old car doesn’t stop there. There are more materials that can be harvested from a dead car as part of the recycling process.  Most parts of a car can be recycled in some way.

The most obvious component of a dead car body is made of top quality steel. This is very straightforward to melt down and purify so it’s as good as new. Some stats claim that 30% of the steel produced around the world actually comes from recycled metal.

The real goldmine is the catalytic converter, which is almost literally a goldmine as it contains precious metals that can be salvaged from a non-working catalytic converter, and reused in other catalytic converters (obviously) and in jewellery.

What happens next to the car bodies?

The battery contains quite a lot of lead, which is why they weigh so much and why it’s no fun dropping one on your foot.  Getting the lead out is a fiddly process that should only be attempted by an expert, but it can be removed as the battery is stripped down, and the metal can then be reused, mostly in other batteries. The plastic casing, once the acid has been neutralised, is also recyclable.

Interior trim can also be salvaged. In the case of leather upholstery, this leather can be turned into fashion accessories, with handbags and belts being a common fate. In the case of fabric trim, this can be shredded and recycled into new furnishing fabrics.

Wiring is another source of metals, as wiring usually is made of copper. Wires in good condition can be used as is, or else the plastic coating is stripped off and the copper inside can be melted down and reused.

Dashboard plastics can be polymerised and turned into a new type of plastic that’s got all sorts of uses, including making outdoor furniture, like plastic picnic chairs.

Tyres used to be the big nasty when it came to recycling old car bodies because they’re so tough, but that’s no longer the case. There are all sorts of things that can be done with them. More or less intact tyres can be used by clever people to make garden furniture. Shredded tyres are used as safety cushions in children’s playgrounds for when someone falls off the swings.  In some parts of the world, the flatter bits are used as soles for footwear – they’ve got a really cool tread pattern! Grind the tyres up smaller and they can be used for the surfaces of running tracks or as roading material.

Glass is also very versatile, and can either be ground down to cullet (which is what you call ground up glass). The cullet can then be used for sandblasting ships to clean them or it can be used as road surfacing. Cullet can, of course, be melted down to produce fresh glass, including the safety glass used in vehicles. Windscreens also contain layers of plastic, and this can also be salvaged and recycled.

The big thing to remember is that one should never try to strip down a dead car for recycling unless you really know what you’re doing, as there are a lot of hazardous materials involved. Leave it to the professional wreckers for the most part. Things you can remove yourself safely enough unless you’re a complete idiot are the speaker system and any other electronic gadgets (especially if you put them in as an after-market upgrade), the fuel in the tank (siphon it out) and any of your personal belongings you left in the glovebox.

2020 Toyota Supra GT: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A car that is heavy with legend and officially reborn, for the Australian market at least. Toyota’s Supra was last available only in Australia as a special import with limited numbers, however the fifth generation is a “properly approved” model and developed with markets such as Australia in mind. There are two trim levels, GT and GTS.

How Much Does It Cost?: Our driveaway price starts from $91,640 for our location. That’s in plain non-metallic red. Go for the pearl white as supplied and that jumps to $92,165. The Recommended Retail Price is $84,990, and as prices state by state vary thanks to dealer and government charges, check out the Toyota website for your location’s pricing.

Under The Bonnet Is: An engine that continues the legacy. It’s a 3.0L straight six with twin-scroll turbo, and it’s got some serious mumbo. 250kW and 500Nm with the latter available over a broad 1,600rpm to 4,500rpm range. There’s some contention, though, as Toyota haven’t elected to use an engine from their own catalogue. And in honesty, it’s a bit of a storm in a teacup as Toyota don’t manufacture a straight six, so BMW was called in. There’s more than a few hints of that brand’s DNA in the bodywork, interior, and the car’s heartbeat. The transmission is an eight speed auto, and when warmed up, allows a 0-100 time of 4.4 seconds. VMax is limited to 250kph.Incredibly it somehow produces those numbers using standard 91RON unleaded, and produces a combined fuel economy of 7.7L/100km. Our best was an incredible 6.3L/100km. This was on a run from our HQ to the home of Australian motorsport, Mt Panorama and back. What was noticeable was the starting expected range figure and the expected range on return. In real terms, we managed to travel 300km and see an expected range change of just 120km.

On The Outside Its: Shorter than it looks. It’s just 4,379mm in length, but an overall height of 1,292mm makes it look longer, especially in the pearlescent white the review car had. It’s wide too, with 1,854mm overall, whilst the wheelbase is 2,470mm.There’s some BMW hints, particularly around the rear. Think Z4 and the upturned bootlid spoiler, a svelte and curvaceous rear, a double humped roof, and long nose in proportion to the rest of the body. There’s a sine wave line that starts at the base of the deeply scalloped doors, heads rearwards to form the broad rear wheel arches, and goes horizontal to form the tail light clusters. The long nose has a gentle and increasing radius curve from the base of the windscreen to form a broad snout, including an almost F1 style nose cone. There are plastic faux-vent inserts in the front and rear guards, bonnet and door skins. They’re not airflow positive, as in they have no actual holes for flow. Both ends have black diffusers, with the nose emphasising the F1 styling by blacking out the centre section under the nose to highlight a pair of angles airfoils.Wheels are 18 inches in diameter and have ultra sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber. Profile is 255/40 and 275/40, front and rear. During our time on the road, the whole package proved to be an eyeball swiveller, attracting positive attention everywhere the Supra GT went, including a couple of thumbs up from pedestrians and truck drivers alike.On The Inside It’s: Snug, efficient, and somewhat 1990s, all at the same time. It’s a strict two seater, with absolutely no storage space other than a pair of console cup holders, door bottle holders, and a cramped cargo area with 296L. It is a sports car, after all. There’s some visual reminder of that thanks to a carbon-fibre look inlay in the console itself. Aircon controls are minimalised, as are the headlight controls, oddly placed as buttons above the driver’s right knee.A push button for Start/Stop is hidden somewhere above the driver’s left knee, there are a pair of paddles on the steering column for manual gear selection, and the console houses a dial for accessing information on the smallish touchscreen. The layout isn’t instantly user friendly and on start-up, will not move from an initial driver warning screen until a OK button is tapped.
Buried within the menus are options for car settings where a driver can select suspension, steering, and engine modes, along with audio and navigation. A Sport mode button changes the engine and transmission settings, plus opens the exhaust system for that extra rumble and snap/crackle/pop.

Behind the beautifully supportive, heated, seats is a strut brace that provides extra body rigidity. This takes up a little bit of room and also makes reaching rearwards into the cabin somewhat awkward. To access the cargo area there is a button in the driver’s door and a tab in the hatch itself. The low overall height also makes entering and exiting the Supra GT a little difficult for those not as flexible as others.Ahead of the driver is a dash screen that looks lifted from a 1990s design. It’s not a modern look and is at odds with the car’s ability. The defining feature is a rev counter dial in the centre, leading off to the right like a keyhole. There is quite a bit of wasted space in this area, with a small LCD screen showing limited information on the far right, and effectively only which gear and drive mode right in the centre.The audio system is loud and clear, operated via the touchscreen, yet there is a strip of station storage buttons on their own above the aircon buttons and below the centre air vents. This is spite of the steering wheel audio selection buttons.

On The Road It’s: A revelation. Firstly, there’s that sledgehammer engine. 500Nm across a rev range that most drivers wouldn’t exploit in normal usage makes for an incredibly tractable driveline. The engine fires into life at the press of the starter and settles quickly into a quiet thrum. The eight speed auto needs some time to warm up in order to achieve maximum smoothness. When cold it’s indecisive, hesitant, jerky. On song it’s razor sharp and millimetre perfect in its crisp changes.The steering is the same. Although weighted to the heavy side, the rack is ratioed to a two turn lock to lock, meaning a bare quarter turn has the front end responding rapidly. The broad rubber, unfortunately, brings in a phenomenon known as tramlining. Anything in a road’s surface in the direction of travel that resembles a rut, a gap, a tramline, also grabs the front end and steers it where the ruts head. The rear end isn’t left out, with a few noticeable hops and skips on broken surfaces.

We took the Supra GT on a run out to Bathurst and a couple of laps around Mt Panorama. On coarse chip tarmac there’s considerable road noise. The newer and smoother tarmac reduces that considerably but there’s still considerable audio jam. The ride quality in Sport mode is jiggly, bouncy, and there is just enough compliance in Sport mode to ensure teeth aren’t shaken loose.

Hit the Sport button in the console and this opens up the exhaust’s throats. There’s a subtle change to the change of gears, but the more noticeable change is the soundtrack. There’s now the rasp, the crackle of the overrun as gears change on deceleration. Standing start acceleration is stupendous, and the rev range for those torques also means rolling acceleration is as easy as thinking about it. Look, squeeze, warp speed.It’s this kind of engine delivery that is, unfortunately, very necessary for Australian roads given the generally average driving standards allowed to pass as safe driving. On the overtaking lanes and still well within the posted limit, the Supra GT proved that a car of around 1,800kg will take those 500Nm and put them to appropriate use, moving past the line of slower vehicles almost as if they didn’t exist. Naturally, this kind of forward moving ability needs stoppers to suit. With 348mm amd 320mm discs front and rear, and a pedal calibrated to move with a breath and tell you how many microns of steel are on the disc’s surface, safe stopping is guaranteed.

It’s this part of the drive experience that showcase the engineering ability and power/torque delivery perfectly. As tractable as the Supra GT is for around town running, the highway is a better place to exploit its mightiness, and then there’s the economy. With the powerhouse in cruise mode, it equals the more passenger oriented cars for fuel usage.On the public road that is Mt Panorama when it’s not a motorsport weekend, the Supra GT can be eased through the super tight and falling away from under you section just after passing through Skyline. The posted limit is 60kph, and the Supra is simply unfazed by that requirement. The torque is more than sufficient to haul the car upwards along Mountain Straight just as easily as it does on a flat road. It’s unflappable here and in day to day driving, making the Supra GT one of the best all round sports intended cars we’ve tested.What About Safety?: It is, as the Americans like to say, loaded for bear. Active Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert, Reverse Camera with Back Guide Monitor, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, plus Adaptive LED Headlamps and Adaptive High Beam. There are seven airbags. The Forward Collision Alert system was jittery, with a couple of warnings related to parked cars on corners, not moving traffic.

Warranty And Service?: Capped price servicing and a five year warranty. Information on those can be found here.

At The End Of the Drive. Toyota’s marketing research team are worth every cent they’re paid. Like almost all of the cars available from the Japanese giant, the Supra is a car for a market. I’m not in that market, but by no means immune to the Supra GT’s allure and beckoning 3.0L finger. It’s a performance powerhouse, a superbly tuned chassis, has a cabin that says sports car (bar the retro driver’s display), and positions itself as a more than worthy successor to the legend and history of Supra. Check it out for yourself here.

Do the Latest Cars Still Need to be Serviced as Regularly?

Even for experienced car owners, or motorheads, car servicing can be an uncertain and difficult minefield to navigate. From capped-price servicing, to decisions on what parts to use and where to take the vehicle, or even the frequency with which your vehicle enters the garage – there are no shortage of decisions to consider.

First things first, servicing should be considered for what it really is – preventative maintenance. The purpose is to keep your car in good shape and identify any potential issues before they become a concern. As such, the key is to keep on top of your service schedule and book your car in regularly as per its recommended service intervals.

 

 

How often should I service my car?

An unfortunate habit that many motorists have gotten used to is waiting for a problem to arise and then taking their vehicle in for repairs as well as general servicing. The problem with this approach is, not only does preventative maintenance potentially help prevent an issue in the first place, but it can save you considerable money.

With that said, the latest cars are beginning to incorporate a slightly different approach to servicing. Whereas it was once necessary to take your car in for service every 6 months or 10,000 km, an increasing number of manufacturers are drawing service intervals out to as much as 12 months or 15-20,000km. In fact, some car-makers, like Renault, are quoting a service interval as high as 30,000km!

Of course, not every manufacturer feels the same way, with Mazda sticking to its recommendation of 10,000km based on the mileage its customer base clocks up each year, which certainly seems a little on the lower side of distances covered. But in the meantime, if you’re driving one of the latest cars on the market, you can probably rest easy knowing that your service probably isn’t required as often as some of your past vehicles, even if certain manufacturers are pushing otherwise.

 

 

 

Should I go to a dealer for servicing?

Another thing you may want to consider is servicing your vehicle through an independent mechanic. Motorists often feel as though they are obliged to take their vehicle to a dealership for servicing, or they will void their warranty. This is not quite true. If your car is affected by a warranty issue, the independent mechanic will refer you back to your dealer for the manufacturer to subsidise the work. Outside of that, independent mechanics can offer very competitive prices, particularly if they utilise aftermarket, rebuilt or reconditioned parts. They are now also set to receive greater data from manufacturers, which should only make their job easier and, in theory, even more affordable.

Transparency into the servicing process has also become a growing theme. Whereas previously a motorist would be flying blind with regards to the prices they would receive, servicing has become a little more structured. Drivers now have access to dealers who offer fixed or capped-price servicing programs, where motorists are provided with a price ceiling for their service, usually for a certain amount of years. As always, however, motorists need to pay attention to inclusions and exclusions, the eligible timeframe, the frequency of the service, as well as any other terms and conditions.

Finally, the other matter that has become more prominent is menu-based servicing. This details the specific components and labour included in your vehicle’s service and their respective cost(s). Effectively, it is an itemised breakdown. When referenced with prices for individual parts, this type of summation provides some insight to understand the margins your mechanic is charging.

 

It goes without saying that motorists have considerably greater scope to shop around and compare their service costs between service providers, or for varying makes of cars. With that said, motorists shouldn’t confuse price differences between different car manufacturers as being attributable to the mechanic or dealership. After all, there are a multitude of vehicle-related factors which play their part, not least of which concerns things like availability of parts and the frequency of servicing.

Subaru Unveils Updated Impreza and Hybridised XV & Forester.

Niche filler Subaru has finally joined the hybrid family. The XV hatch and Forester now have that propulsion as an option. They’ve also updated their Impreza sedan and hatch range. For the XV there will be one variant and in hybrid form only, whilst the Forester will offer two, in L and S AWD specification.

Forester will run the familiar 2.0L horizontally opposed four, as will the XV. Transmission remains as Subaru’s quite well sorted CVT. The Hybrid system has been dubbed “e-Boxer”, with a small capacity lithium battery linked to the petrol engine in a method called Motor Assist. There will be three drive modes available: Motor Assist EV driving, Motor Assist electric (EV) + petrol engine driving, and Petrol engine driving.

In pure EV mode it can reach speeds of up to 40 km/h before switching in the petrol engine. Economy, says Subaru, is down to 6.7L/100 from the 48L tank. Fuel is 91RON. That’s down from 8.1L/100km. XV Hybrid has an improvement of around 14% improvement for the urban cycle, and upwards of 7% for the combined. Forester’s improvements are 19% and 9% compared to the previous 2.5L variants.

Power is rated as 110 Kilowatts at 6,000 rpm and 196 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm with the electric energy part offering 12.3kW and 66Nm or torque. Naturally the electric system features regenerative braking energy harvesting. The battery is integrated into the floor and located where the spare wheel once resided. The petrol engine has Subaru’s AVCS, or Active Valve Control System. Pricing for the trio is: $35,580 for XV Hybrid AWD, $39,990 for Forester Hybrid L AWD and $45,990 for the Hybrid S. Those prices are manufacturer’s list prices.

Subaru’s X-Mode, for soft and wet weather road driving, has returned. This is again a switch operated drive mode, and will show on the driver displays to indicate its engagement. Forester Hybrid S also has Subaru’s SI Drive system, where different driving modes, Intelligent and Sport, allow for some driver tailoring. The touchscreen is 6.5 inches in L, 8.0 inches in S, and features DAB, Apple and Android apps, driver’s kneebag, and Subaru’s renowned EyeSight system.

Orders are being taken however the initial allocation has been presold, with May the current ETA for new stock.

The bodies for both have been slightly tweaked, as has the Impreza sedan and hatch. All models have been given a restyled grille, with the front bumper and fog lights changed as well, plus there are new alloy wheels. The tail lights for the hatch have been given a smokey glass appearance. Also, all Imprezas now have SI Drive.

The range remains as a four tier model. The entry level 2.0i model starts from $23,740 and $23,940 for sedan and hatch, whilst the 2.0i-L starts from $25,860 and $26,090. The 2.0i-Premium is $28,390 and $28,590 with the range topper 2.0i-S at $31,160 and $31,360. Again these are manufacturer’s list prices.

Apart from the looks there has been tweaks underneath for a better ride and handling package. Premium receives Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert plus Reverse Automatic Braking and Front View Monitor. The S gains front and side camera monitors, along with an auto dipping passenger side mirror when reversing.

All cars have a standard five year and unlimited kilometre warranty. Contact Subaru to book a test drive.

ŠKODA Electrifies With An Irish Twist.

Škoda has released details of their first electric vehicle and it’s to be a SUV. It will be called “Enyaq”. The name is derived from the Irish name ‘enya’, meaning ‘source of life’. Enya itself comes from the Irish Gaelic word ‘Eithne’, meaning ‘essence’, ‘spirit’ or ‘principle’. The ‘source of life’ symbolises the car manufacturer’s entry into the new era of electromobility and is in line with the Škoda brand’s history claim: ‘Driven by inventiveness –clever ideas since 1895’.

It’s to be built on the Volkswagen Group’s Modular Electrification Toolkit (MEB) platform and will be the first car from the brand to be built on this platform.. With its first all-electric SUV, Škoda is establishing a new nomenclature that combines the ‘E’ in reference to electromobility with the ‘Q’ that characterises the final letter of Škoda’s successful SUV family. With the new Enyaq, the Czech car manufacturer is taking another leap into the new era of electromobility in 2020.

Enyaq follows Škoda’s well-known SUV nomenclature. Like the names of Škoda’s successful SUV models Kodiac, Karoq, and Kamiq,names that have their origins in the language of the Inuit people living in northern Canada and Greenland, Škoda combines the future all-electric vehicles based on the MEB with the Irish language. The ‘E’ at the beginning of the name stands for electromobility whilst the ‘Q’ at the end creates a clear connection to the virtues of an SUV. The Škoda Enyaq is the next of the series of more than ten electric models that will be launched under the ŠKODA sub-brand by the end of 2022.

By 2025, Škoda expects all-electric vehicles and models with plug-in hybrid drives to account for 25% of sales. By 2021, the car manufacturer will have invested two billion euros in the development of electric models and a holistic, interconnected ecosystem for modern and environmentally friendly mobility solutions

Turbochargers For Beginners

It might look like a snail but with a turbo, your car certainly won’t be.

I could have called this post “Turbochargers for Dummies” but (a) anybody who is curious about how something works and wants to know more is not a dummy and (b) I don’t want to imply that those who want to have a vehicle with a turbocharger are dummies.

In any description or review of a new vehicle that’s got an internal combustion engine (petrol or diesel) or even a hybrid engine, you’ll probably come across the mention of a turbocharger somewhere in there.  However, what is the point of a turbocharger and how do they work?  Are they just a fancy luxury or do they actually do something useful and valuable?  If you’re new to the world of motoring or if turbos have just been something you’ve heard about over the years and never really thought about before, you could well be asking these questions.  After all, nobody is born known about how a car works and it’s not something they teach you at school.  (Maybe it should be something they teach at school – physics would certainly be a lot more interesting if you could see the practical applications.)

Back To Basics

Let’s start by going back to the basics of how an internal combustion engine (ICE) works.   An ICE can be thought of as the offspring of a cannon and a spinning wheel.  The cannon (the father of the engine) works by using a spark and a controlled explosion within a small space, which produces a massive amount of force that moves a load (in this case, the cannon ball) in a straight line.  Mama Spinning Wheel uses a crankshaft (piston), a drive wheel and a gearing system to turn that linear motion into useful rotational motion.

In your typical four-stroke engine, which was invented in 1867 by Nikolaus Otto, the explosion part of the process involves four main motions, referred to as intake, compression, combustion and exhaust or, more simply, suck, squeeze, bang and blow.  Get your mind out of the gutter.

Let’s look more closely at the intake stage of the cycle.  During the intake phase, the piston and valves allow a combination of fuel (petrol or diesel) into the chamber.  In a naturally aspirated engine, ordinary common or garden atmospheric pressure and suction push the air into the cylinder.  However, to make the process go more quickly and use fuel more efficiently, one needs some way of compressing and forcing the air into where you want it rather than relying on, essentially, gravity and air pressure.  This was a bit of a burning need when they started flying planes a bit higher than they did in, say, World War 1, and the atmospheric pressure was a lot less at altitude.  Compressing the air and forcing it into the business bits of the ICE is what a turbocharger does.

How Turbos Work

The next question is how the turbocharger does the job of compressing air and forcing air into the cylinders?  It uses a system originally developed in aeroplanes with turboprop engines.  This uses a fan system to slurp and pump air into the cylinder – the shape of the fan does this by altering the air pressure around the blades.  Seems ridiculously simple, right?

Bright sparks among you will have wondered what gets the fan moving to do this job of pumping the air in.  After all, you don’t get anything for free.  However, the original designers came up with a clever solution.  After all, during the final phase of the Otto cycle – the exhaust or blow phase – the waste air and other exhaust products (hopefully, there won’t be too many of these) is shoved out of the engine.  A basic turbocharger uses this exhaust air to drive the turbine part of the system.  This means that a turbocharger has two main parts: the turbine that harnesses the exhaust stream, which is hitched up to the second part: the compressor that takes in clean air.

There is a third part to a basic turbocharger that does more than just hold the two spinning bits together. This is the intercooler.  As anybody who’s used a bike pump has noticed, when you compress air, it gets hotter.  The problem with this is that as things get hotter, the molecules inside it move more and it expands – meaning it’s less compressed.  Cold air is denser than warm air, which means that it’s not just in your head if you find it harder going on the bike or jogging on a cold morning.  The intercooler is a kind of miniature radiator system that dissipates the heat energy created by compressing the air to keep it nice and dense.

Why Use Turbochargers?

So why do you need to have a turbocharger and get that extra air into your car engine, given that you don’t have the problems of a fighter jet operating at altitude? Is there any advantage to it for the everyday motorist?

The answer is, of course, a great big yes.  By shoving more air into the cylinders, the power delivered by the combustion (bang) part of the cycle is increased.  Power is the amount of force delivered every second, so the faster the engine burns, the more powerful it is.  This means that an otherwise small engine can get the oomph of something much bigger.  Because adding a turbocharger involves less weight than adding another cylinder or increasing the size of the cylinders (the other ways to make an engine more powerful), this improves the power to weight ratio.  It’s all about the POWER (I’m hearing Jeremy Clarkson inside my head at this point).

You may hear some people claim that turbochargers are more environmentally friendly than naturally aspirated engines.  This is a bit controversial and it’s not as simple as Turbo Good, Natural Aspiration Bad.  Quite simply, a 1.2 litre engine that is naturally aspirated will use less fuel than a turbocharged 1.2.  However, the turbocharged 1.2 litre will deliver a lot more power than the naturally aspirated 1.2 and will produce the power of a naturally aspirated engine that’s a lot bigger. Because it has delivered the oomph of a bigger engine without the demands of the extra weight that would be involved, the small turbo engine will consume less fuel than the naturally aspirated big one.  The turbocharger is a racing greyhound that needs to eat as many doggy bikkies as a big sooky mastiff but will win the race.

Of course, this is only a very basic introduction – for beginners – and turbocharger designs get a lot more complicated that that. You’ve got all kinds of fun variations like twin turbos, which can be in sequence or in parallel, as well as the issue of turbo lag and how to overcome it.