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2020 Toyota Granvia VX: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A big box on wheels that has luxury inside. Toyota has taken the HiAce LCV that was updated in 2019, and given it a makeover on the inside, and a light tickle outside. In Granvia or Granvia VX specification, it can be fitted with either a six or eight seater configuration. We drove the VX with the six seats.

How Much Does It Cost?: Toyota’s website gives an area dependent costing. The Granvia in Ebony Pearl is circa $68,360, and with Crystal Pearl, Silver pearl, or Graphite is circa $68,990. Bump to VX spec and there’s $81,560 to $82,200.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.5L diesel, packing 130kW and a torque figure of 450Nm. That’s a peak available across a very narrow band of revs; 1,600rpm to 2,400rpm, to be precise. Powering the rear wheels via a six speed auto, economy is rated as 8.0L/100km on the combined cycle. Our final figure was 8.6L/100km. Given a dry mass of 2.6 tonnes, that’s an agreeable figure, and one that could be shaving a few bits here and there with a more modern eight or nine speed.On The Outside It’s: A box on wheels and there’s no disguising that fact. There are 5,300mm of length, 1,990mm, and 1,940mm of height and width that come into play, and with around 1,750mm from the leading edge to the beginning of the flat roof…well…it’s a box on wheels.

Up front there is a broad grin of chrome that replaces yet follows the lines of what is seen on the HiAce. Four horizontal chrome strips replace the two on the donor vehicle. The rear has a similar styling and broader taillights. In profile the Granvia has centre and rear glass, no panels as seen on the HiAce, and each side has a powered sliding door. The rear door is manually operated. Initially this seemed like an oversight however given the layout for the six seats….but, still…..Wheels are multi-spoked alloys and have Bridgestone Duravis rubber at 235/60/17.

On The Inside It’s: A curious mix of luxury and the basic structure of the donor van. There is gorgeous wood paneling in the door trims, passenger dash, and on the top of a truly dowdy looking centre console section, with plastic of that really basic look and feel. Yet it sits between and ahead of a total of six leather seats, with heating all round, and powered recliners in the middle. The second and third row seats slide, and this again raises a query about the non powered rear door, as it could allow entry and exit from that third row.The driver’s section has a seven inch touchscreen, piano black trim, and analogue dials in the VX. Again, it’s a missed opportunity where a LCD insert would have added just that little bit more of extra class. There are a few tabs for items such as the parking sensors and night light adjustment for the screen, and four that have no apparent use. The Drive selector is console mounted and there is manual shifting.The side powered doors have roll up/down window shades, and to activate the sliding mechanism it’s a soft touch push/pull on the door handles inside and out. Or there’s remote opening and closing from the key fob. Safety is covered with very audible beeping as the doors open or close.

Convenience is looked after by having USB ports for the rear rows, a separate air-conditioning system with controls on the roof behind the front seats, and cup holders for each seat. Each rear row seat also has its own map-light.On The Road It’s: Nice to drive up to freeway speeds. Above the legal limit it’s missing a key factor: confidence. There’s something about the way the Granvia VX is set up that has it feeling just fine until freeway velocities are called for. It’s simply doesn’t feel….right… it was the oddest sensation and one that couldn’t put our finger on. The speedo would indicate 110, 115, and it effectively then communicated “don’t go faster”. It was impossible to tell if it was a stability issue, the sensation of being seated at the height the driver is, the steering ratio that was fine at suburban velocities but not faster…..annoying? Mightily.

The steering is nicely weighted, and allows for easy three point turns. Navigating suburban roads, even with the near two metre width and 5.3 metre length, was also easy. helping matters was the relaxed attitude of the diesel, with that 450Nm peak torque barely above idle. The auto is typical Toyota with a swift and slick change, and holds gear for downhill runs. Manual changing makes no real difference in this part of the drive experience. The brakes are a touch grabby at times, meaning a gentler foot was required, and a softer press meant earlier braking. And here too a minor hiccup; retardation feedback wasn’t entirely forthcoming, with judgement of where the pedal needed to be pull the Granvia up not always corresponding to the rate the Granvia would pull up. Compounding the drive was the engine power reduction from the Active Yaw Control. This comes in when the Granvia VX would move across the road and cross white lines. This quickly became, in our eyes, a safety issue as the sudden power loss would slow the Granvia and gave rise to a potential impact from the rear. the other is that although thes eats would recline, in upright positions the rear view mirror was full of seats, not a clear rear glass.

What About Safety?: Safety is comprehensive. 9 airbags including both front seats, driver’s knee, front curtain shield x 2, rear curtain shield x 2, side airbag x 2. Blind Spot Alert, Lane Departure Alert, and Pre-collision alert with cyclist and pedestrian sensing make for a very good package.

What About Warranty And Service?: five years warranty and capped price servicing for the Granvia VX. Follow the service schedule and warranty goes out to seven years. Service intervals are six months or 10,000 kilometres with a cost (as of May, 2020) of $245.
At The End Of The Drive. It’s an absolutely ideal vehicle to be used as a courier of the well heeled from hotel to airport, from rock concert to hotel. The seats really are beautifully comfortable, and with a six seater configuration there’s room and flexibility aplenty. Around town it’s a doddle to drive. The downsides of the centre console and dash look and feel, plus the nervousness above 100kph hold the Granvia VX firmly in place as a suburban utility and a lovely one to be in. Check it out for yourself here.

Even More Motoring Matchmaking…

Matchmaking is addictive, so we’re going to keep going with our series where we match people up to the vehicles that suit them and their lifestyles best. This week’s theme is… well, see if you can figure it out!

Kia Carnival

The Modern-Day Clan: When Xavier and Elizabeth are asked about the number of children they have, the eyebrows inevitably go up and the question “Are you Catholic or something?” turns up – to which the answer is “Yes.” This is because there are at least five children in the family last time we counted. Or maybe six. Elizabeth was considering homeschooling the clan like some of their friends with equally large families but not always the same religious preferences do. However, St Patrick’s school ten minutes’ drive away (on a good day) does a good job. It may take ten minutes to drive there, but it takes at least an equal amount of time to round everybody up, make a general issue of schoolbags and lunches, make sure that they’re all strapped in properly and defuse any fights about who’s got the best seat in the vehicle. Needless to say, people-carrying capacity is the first concern of Xavier and Elizabeth when they go down to the nearest car sales yard (hang on a minute, I think Francis has headed over to drool at the sports cars – he’d better not scratch anything – and I’ll give you something to eat in a minute, Veronica; Bernadette, can you hold her for a bit while Mummy talks to the nice car salesman?).

Suggested vehicle for Xavier and Elizabeth (and the clan!): Mercedes Benz V-Class, Kia Carnival, Honda Odyssey, Hyundai iMax, Renault Trafic Passenger, Toyota Granvia, VW Transporter, LDV G10 People Mover

Fiat Ducato

Mr Fix It Professionally: Doug finished his apprenticeship way back. When and what he doesn’t know about plumbing could be written on the head of a plunger. He’s been in the plumbing business for many years now and it’s getting a bit harder to squeeze under a house to deal with a leaky pipe now that he’s traded his six-pack for a keg, but he manages. Doug is anything but squeamish and has seen the weirdest things flushed down toilets. He knows all too well that what sounds like a simple blocked pipe or burst water main may turn into a long and complicated job. This means that his everyday vehicle has to be able to take it all, from a selection of washers and screws through to lengths of pipe in all sorts of widths – and don’t forget the overalls, rubber gloves, gumboots and copious amounts of hand sanitiser and soap.  Doug knows the value of word of mouth advertising and being seen to do a good job, so he has to have a vehicle that has room to slap on some signage with his business name (Dirty Doug’s Drains & Plumbing) and contact details in nice clear lettering.

Suggested vehicle for Doug: LDV G10, Ford Transit, Mercedes Benz Sprinter, Toyota Hiace, VW Transporter, Renault Trafic, Hyundai iLoad, Renault Master, LDV V80, Fiat Ducato, VW Crafter

Suzuki APV

Miss Daisy Drives: Jessica is a romantic at heart. This is why she started her floristry business. She’s doing quite well and the delivery service is always much appreciated, especially now that she has added soaps and chocolates and other gifts into the mix of things she offers. Jessica may have started out with just a little hatchback but now that she has managed to land a few bigger clients and is building something of a name for herself, she needs something larger – something that can deliver the more extensive arrangements for weddings and big dos with ease. However, a big lumbering thing just won’t look right and anyway, some of those flowers are fragile and delicate when they come from the market first thing in the morning, so her vehicle has to be fairly agile as well as having good load space… and it has to be easy to park in a residential street for when she does door to door deliveries (that’s her favourite sort of delivery job).  It’s got to have good air conditioning as well. Jessica would adore it if she could find a suitable vehicle in her company’s signature colour of sparkly lilac but anything that looks cute, does the job and can fit a nice picture of flowers along with the contact details will do.

Suggested vehicle for Jessica: Fiat Ducato, Renault Kangoo, VW Caddy, VW Multivan, Toyota Hiace, VW Transporter, Ford Transit, Fiat Doblo, Citroen Berlingo, Suzuki APV

Motoring Matchmaking: More For The Blokes

Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder

OK, so you’re a guy who wants to get a new car but you’re not sure what to get that will suit your situation. Your heart wants a brand new Lamborghini supercar but that’s probably not actually going to be possible with your budget… and the boot space thing might be an issue.  So what’s right for you?

Here, we return to our series where we take (stereo)typical people and set you up with a set of wheels that suits your situation down to a T. This time, we focus on guys working in essential industries. Apologies in advance, but a Lambo isn’t one of the options, even if you deserve one for all your hard work during this weird time.

The Sheep and Cattle Farmer: Dave’s day may start at dawn and sometimes goes on half the night, but you can’t say that it’s boring. A typical day involves shifting stock; checking and fixing fences, water supplies and feed levels; and ensuring that the animals stay alive for long enough to bring in a profit.  Any set of wheels owned by Dave has to be versatile enough to provide a nice shady place to eat lunch (and keep said lunch somewhere where the dogs can’t get at it); cart around dogs, sacks of feed, fencing equipment and sick sheep; and maybe carry a carcass on the roof when the shotgun has had to come into play. Given the terrain where the vehicle has to go no matter what the weather is, decent 4×4 ability and ground clearance are a must.  When the time comes to head to town, there may or may not be a trailer involved, but it’s got to be able to take a load, and that includes the kids who wanted to come for the ride or need to get to netball practice or pony club. Looks are secondary factors but Dave wouldn’t mind something that scrubs up well… but not literally, as dirt and dust prove that you’re the real deal not some wussy city boy who only plays at offroading in the weekend.

Suggested vehicles for Dave:

Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton, Nissan Navara, Toyota Hilux, VW Amarok, Mazda BT-50, Mercedes Benz X-Class Ute

Mitsubishi Triton Ute

The Freight And Logistics Expert: Many years ago, Martin was a truckie but he’s now got his own trucking, freight and logistics company, and only drives the trucks if the business is getting a bit short-handed. Most of Martin’s days are spent behind the desk, negotiating contracts and doing all the thinking, negotiating and arranging parts of the job.  When it comes to heading to the office, Martin likes his comfort to make up for all those years of driving trucks with dodgy air conditioning back in the 1980s.  He also likes to drive something that looks sleek and smart – yes, it’s getting a teeny bit into show-off territory but he’s worked hard for this and he’s the boss. All the same, a little sports car just isn’t him: they’re just too low down and small, and Martin feels like he just can’t see anything properly or safely when you’re down that close to the road, a legacy of all those years of actual trucking work.

Suggested vehicles for Martin:

RAM 1500, Ford F-150, Audi Q7, BMW X5, Volvo XC90, Ford Ranger, Range Rover Sport, Mercedes Benz GLE SUV, Mercedes Benz GLS SUV, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Porsche Cayenne, Ford Everest, BMW X6, Lexus LX 570

Audi Q7 SUV

The Healthcare Worker: As a male nurse, Tony’s popular with all the older gentlemen who feel a bit uncomfortable about having women deal with their bedpans – and he’s also popular with some of the women who appreciate a bit of eye candy when they’re in hospital.  All the same, Tony isn’t there to flirt but to work, and the work’s pretty demanding.  In fact, by the end of his shift, Tony’s wiped out.  Coffee helps but Tony knows only too well what can happen if you nod off at the wheel in a vehicle that hasn’t got a high ANCAP rating – he’s had to help deal with the results.  This means that Tony wants something with all the active and passive safety features just in case.  A good stereo for blasting some energetic music is also greatly appreciated.  Because he does a job that, in the past, was considered to be a bit girly, Tony also wants a car that’s definitely masculine in its looks rather than some dinky-wee hairdresser’s car – he doesn’t want to turn up on somebody’s gaydar by mistake, thank you very much.

Suggested vehicles for Tony:

Subaru Levorg, Holden Commodore, Ford Mondeo, Mazda 6, BMW 5-Series, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Holden Colorado, Audi A4, Audi A5, Audi A6, Hyundai Sonata, Hyundai Santa Fe, Lexus RC-F, Volvo V50, Volvo V60, Volvo S60

Volvo S60

2020 Hyundai iMax Elite: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The passenger version of Hyundai’s durable iLoad commercial van is called iMax. There’s a pair of normal doors up front, a pair of sliding doors on the sides, and a rear horizontally hinged door. It’s exclusively diesel and auto for the drive-train, and in the Elite has eight leather covered seats.

How Much Does It Cost?: Hyundai’s website lists the iMax Elite as $48,990 driveaway as of April 2020. That’s with a Creamy White exterior. Go for Timeless Black, Hyper Metallic, and Moonlight Cloud (silver and blue), it’s $49,685 drive-away.Under The Bonnet Is: 441Nm of torque, and they’re on tap between 2,000rpm and 2,500rpm. The auto is a super smooth five speed unit, and although seemingly needing a cog or two extra, still manages to deliver a figure of that Hyundai quotes as 8.8L/100km for the combined cycle. Otherwise they quote 11.2L/100km for the urban, and 7.3L/100km on the highway, a figure where a seven or eight speed transmission would help. Considering a starting weight of 2,135kg and a GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) of 3,030kg, it’s a sterling effort however. Tank size is 75L. By the way, it’s a rear wheel driven beastie. Twing is rated up to 1,500kg braked.

On the Outside It’s: A van. But having four colours and not just a fridge white makes a difference. Contrasting panels low down bring a subtle two-tone experience visually. There are also 215/65/17 alloys and Hankook Ventra LT tyres, with the wheels looking more like they should be on something a little more sporting oriented. The sliding doors have pop-out, not sliding windows. Up front it’s a more modern look for the grille and headlight cluster, and there are driving lights set low down in the bumper.Overall length is 5,150mm, with width and height providing a reason why vans are described as boxy at 1,920mm and 1,925mm respectively. The sliding doors are manually operated, not powered, nor is the rear door powered. The washer fluid jets spray in three thin jets and could use more pressure.

On The Inside It’s: Not surprisingly quite roomy. Given the cubic shape of the are behind the driver and front passenger, leg, head, and shoulder room are better than adequate. Head room is 1030 / 1018 / 987 mm for the front, centre, and rear, with leg room measured as 70 – 1039 / 839 / 765 mm, with shoulder room at 1632 / 1695 / 1627 mm. The front and centre seats have a sunroof as well. There’s beige leather and plastic trim in the iMax Elite, plus there was carpet and carpet rugs over the normal linoleum style floor.

The centre row seats have the familiar front mounted pull-rod in order to slide them, and a manual handle down on the side to fold. This allows easier access to the third row seats. Behind them is over 800L of cargo space, so for a family, plenty of room for a pram, bags, shopping, etc. The driver’s dash display betrays the commercial origins, and oddly even down to not showing fuel usage nor a Trip B display. It’s a very basic speedo dial, rev counter, and fuel setup, and could really benefit from a higher class look.

Auxiliaries in the form of heat seating and venting, rear seat aircon controls, and USB port are found in the centre console, along with a pull out cup holder. There is, though, no dedicated space to hold a phone, even allowing for a shallow cavity up top. Audio via the basic Hyundai family 7.0 inch touchscreen is AM/FM only with no DAB, and again something that should be a little more upmarket by having that as standard. But there are apps for the smartphone access and Bluetooth for streaming. On The Road It’s: Very quiet, even under load. The iMax Elite hums along with little fanfare being drawn to it. It simply gets up, gets ready, gets going. It’s mightily smooth in the way it rides and handles, but the high up seating position and cargo-van softness in the suspension, plus the dual purpose tyres, mean some corners are, by necessity, taken at a slower speed that most other vehicles.

The five speed auto, even allowing for the fact it’s only a five-cogger, is superb. It is as smooth as you can get in changing ratios up and down. This applies as equally to flat highway runs as it does to climbing or descending sloping roads. There is a manual shift option via the gear selector but that was ignored purely because the ‘box does such a good job on its own.

There’s a bare minimum of turbo-lag from the get go. The maximum torque is pretty much where highway velocities have the revs rolling to provide it, which means a gentle press of the go pedal, that silken drop back a cog or two, and access to 441 torques is there. The lack of turbo-lag helps too, as it means less effort and time waiting for the engine to deliver helps in the overall driving presentation.The steering is in the Goldilocks zone; it’s not too heavy, not too light. This makes for three point turns on a suburban street, or in a loading zone much easier to deal with. It also made our excursion to a Blue Mountains lookout for a couple of photos via a gravel road as comfortable and unfussed as it should be. No bump steer, no tramlining in the gravel and mud, and a pose with Jessie and Nelson, (two local equine residents that gave the iMax Elite the hoof of approval), which was set up by reversing twenty metres or so, simple due to the just-right feel.

The brakes could do with some more bite and feedback though. There just wasn’t as much coming through from the pedal to state with certainty that the pressure being put down was gripping the discs as much as they could be. Ride quality is good enough, considering the iMax’s origins and the MacPherson strut/live five link rear axle.

What About Safety?: Hmmm….could be better. The spec sheet says side and front airbags for the driver and front passenger. It doesn’t say side/curtain airbags though. It’s rated as four stars by ANCAP. The second and third row seats all have adjustable head rest heights and the second row has ISOFIX mounts.What About Warranty And Service?: For the warranty, the Hyundai website says: If the vehicle has been used for private and domestic purposes and is not and has not been previously used for a commercial application, including but not limited to taxi, hire, rental, courier, security, driving school, tour, bus operator or emergency vehicle. Vehicles used at any time for “commercial application”, as defined in the vehicle warranty policy, are excluded. Passenger vehicles that are or have been used for a commercial application are provided with a 5 year/130,000km warranty (whichever occurs first). An iMax that is used or has been used for a commercial application is provided with a 5 year/160,000km warranty (whichever occurs first).

Servicing information may vary so contact your Hyundai dealership.

At the End Of The Drive. The old saying, “for what it is” applies to the Hyundai iMax Elite. It’s a people mover that is based on a light commercial vehicle. That needs to be taken into consideration. So, for what it is, it’s ok. It’s not possibly what it could be, but for what it is, it does well enough.Given it’s a sub-50K vehicle, a few extra touches would still have it well competitive in price and lift the overall appeal, perhaps just enough, to make a little bit more of a dent in SUVs that cost more and do much of the same role.

Check it out in more detail here.