Australia Post Goes Electric

Renault Kangoo electric vanIf you’re as old as I am you’ll remember the days when the Postmaster General’s Department … the predecessor of Australia Post … ran a large fleet of small column-shift Bedford vans in major urban areas.

They were generally driven all over the suburbs as if the devil was running close behind and … if you happened to be the passenger … you clung to anything you could get your hands on because your life probably did depend on your grip.

These were in the days before OH&S regulations … there were no seatbelts and entry and exit for driver and passenger was via large sliding doors that only ever seemed to be closed in heavy rain.

Yes those were the good old days and most of us who travelled in those vans do remember them with some fondness. Of course those days are long gone and yesterday Renault and Australia Post announced a whole new era in small red delivery vans.

Starting in June Australia Post will take delivery of a small group … 2 in Melbourne and 2 in Sydney … of Renault Kangoo Z E vans. These zero emission fully electric vans are the first Renault electric vans to be introduced in Australia and Australia Post will use them for parcel deliveries.

While the company is obviously using the trial to showcase the Renault Kangoo electric van to the Australian marketplace Australia Post is looking a variety of metrics to see if fully electric vans are the way to go for suburban work in the future.

Tech Specs
The Renault Kangoo electric van is powered by a Synchronous AC electric motor with a maximum power output of 44 kW (60hp).

The power is supplied by a Lithium Ion battery that requires 6 to 9 hours to reach maximum charge and that gives the vehicle a range of between 80 and 125 km.

So the days of the red Bedfords might be long gone but remember, this is an electric vehicle and electric vehicles have some fairly sparkling acceleration so maybe we’ll see a Renault Kangoo electric van being driven like in days of old when the devil was just behind and gaining fast.

Renault Kangoo electric van

By | May 27th, 2014|Renault|0 Comments

Volvo Estate Concept

Volvo Estate ConceptThe Volvo Estate Concept has me worried … either that or I’m getting old … because I’m beginning to like the look of the latest vehicles coming out of Sweden.

Of course the yellow box has been gone for years (although my brother-in-law still owns one). Despite the fact that it was so last century it still lingers in the back of my mind and sends cold shivers down my spine whenever I hear the word ‘Volvo’ mentioned.

It’s hard to accept that such a sleek looking piece of the car maker’s art could possibly be related to those ugly yellow boxes … but they are and the Volvo Estate Concept is the latest offering.

But you do have to ask yourself … who would want a 2-door station wagon?

volvo-estate-concept-dashboardPerhaps the answer to that one is that this concept will probably never see the production line and it’s not the body that’s important here but the interior … and more particularly … the dashboard.

Gone are the usual buttons, switches and knobs … and that’s got to be a good thing because they become confusing … distracting … and downright dangerous.

In the last couple of years there seems to have been some sort of competition running between manufacturers to see just how many buttons they could add to the dashboard of each new car but perhaps Volvo has called a halt to all that.

In the Volvo Estate Concept almost all those buttons are gone … they’ve been replaced by one large tablet-like touchscreen in the centre console. Sadly that could be just as distracting but what can car makers do … apart from introducing voice control that’s more than just cosmetic?

The only buttons that remain on the dashboard of this concept are the volume and play/pause on the sound system (something that Volvo describes as “crucial), hazard warning lights and window heaters.

And what’s that in the back of the Volvo Estate Concept? It’s all the pieces you need to play the Swedish game called ‘Kubb” and if you don’t know the rules then you will find them printed on the transparent floor.

volvo-estate-concept-boot

As I said at the start, it’s not the body … or the game of Kubb and its transparent floor that we’ll see in the near-future … it’s the dashboard and that touchscreen that we may see in Volvos on the production line.

By | February 28th, 2014|Featured, Volvo|0 Comments

The Proton Exora

proton-exoraI would hate to be trying to raise a family these days. The cost of living is rising at an incredible rate while income levels are not keeping up with those costs that families simply cannot avoid.

The cost of transporting a family is one of those unavoidable costs … if you have more than two kids then finding an affordable vehicle that will fit them all in is a real challenge but now Proton’s new people mover … the Proton Exora … delivers an affordable people mover back within the reach of many families.

Of course there are going to be some people that remember the low safety ratings of some early Proton offerings but those days have gone and the Proton Exora comes with a four-star ANCAP safety rating.

A look at the safety features on the Exora shows that this is a vehicle worth considering if you have a family to move but there’s no doubt that there’s still room for improvement in the safety department.

proton exora side view

The Proton Exora is a five-door, 7 seater with a stylish body and a flexible interior that comes in two variants. The entry level model is the GX with a drive-away price starting at $25,990 and for an extra $2,000 you can drive away in the top of the range GXR … although the extras that boost the price of the GXR may be features that most families will pass on.

The engine
Both variants are powered by the same turbo-charged 1.6-litre DOHC 16-valve engine that produces 103kW of power at 5,000rpm and 205Nm of torque between 2000rpm and 4000rpm. The engine is coupled to a six-speed CVT auto box … a manual transmission is not available in either variant.

This engine/transmission combination returns 8.2L/100km on a combined cycle and that sounds quite reasonable but most people movers spend their time doing short trips around the ‘burbs so the average fuel consumption for most owners will be higher.

The fuel tank holds 55 litres and the engine is tuned to run on standard unleaded petrol.

The body/chassis
Proton makes much of the fact that they now own Lotus and Lotus suspension specialist have had a lot of input into the design of the chassis on the Proton Exora. The front suspension includes McPherson struts and coil springs with gas dampers and a stabiliser bar while the rear suspension features a torsion beam.

At the front the Proton Exora features large triangular headlights and a contoured front bumper while at the rear the large tailgate ensures that there’s easy access if you have large items you want to squeeze in.

proton exora dashboard

The interior
Seating in the Proton Exora is what has become almost standard for small people movers … two-three-two with 50/50 split-fold on the rear seats and 60/40 on the middle row. When in the upright position the backrests on the rear seat are fixed while the backrests are adjustable on the second row.

Upholstery in the GX is cloth while the GXR gets leather trimmed upholstery.

The middle row of seats can be moved forward to allow easy access to the rear seats and Proton says that, unlike some other smaller people movers, the Exora offers good leg room for rear seat passengers.

Both the second and third row seats fold flat to increase the luggage space.

As you would expect, air conditioning is standard across the Proton Exora range and there are a total of eight vents throughout the cabin. Also standard across the range is a roof-mounted DVD player that takes an SD card or USB stick.

Only those who have tried to keep a large family entertained on a long trip will appreciate the importance of that DVD player.

Other features that are standard across the range include height adjustable steering wheel with audio and mobile controls, multiple storage areas including two big glove boxes, non-glare material on the top of the dash and a recessed fold-away hook that can be used for tethering bags.

Safety
Standard safety features across the Proton Exora range include:

  • Electronic stability control
  • Traction control
  • ABS with EBD
  • Seat belt pre tensioners (front)
  • Speed sensing door locks
  • Dual front and dual side (front) airbags
  • Remote keyless entry and central locking
  • Alarm system and immobilizer
  • Rear fog light
  • Turn indicators on side mirrors
  • Collapsible steering column
  • Rear parking sensors

Additional safety features on the Proton Exora GXR include:

  • Rear view camera
  • Daytime running lights
  • Folding side mirrors
  • Cruise control
  • Follow-me-home-lights

exora rear view

The bottom line
We’ve already looked at the price that is sure to make the Proton Exora attractive to families but that’s not where the value stops. Buyers also get five years or 75,000km free servicing … five years or 150,000km free roadside assist … and five years or 150,000km warranty.

 

By | December 8th, 2013|Featured, Proton|0 Comments

The Audi Sport quattro

Audi Sport quattroAudi quattro … the name and the car dominated the world rally scene for years. The first Sport quattro appeared in 1983 and with 225 kW of power and four-wheel drive there was nothing that stood in its way.

An Audi Sport quattro even conquered Pike’s Peak in 1987.

Since then Audi have moved on to other things and the Sport quattro has faded into history but now Audi have revived the name with a stunning plug-in hybrid drive coupe that produces more than twice the power of the old Sports quattro.

The body
The original Audi Sports quattro was a boxy short-wheel based little monster that was definitely eye-catching for its time. Back in those days the box was THE design but of course these days the box is so dated s to be almost quaint so while Audi may have revived the Sports quattro name they certainly haven’t revived the design.

The box has been replaced by a sleek low-slung design that is just as eye-catching as the original Sport quattro. This concept in 4,602mm long, 1,964mm wide and 1,386mm high. It has a wheelbase of 2,784mm.

A feature of the Audi Sport quattro concept are the headlights that feature Audi’s new Matrix LED technology. This technology uses individual LEDs working in tandem with lenses and reflectors to always deliver the right amount of illumination.

The door handles on the quattro concept are also interesting. They sit flush with the door but extend when … as Audi puts it …”a hand approaches”.

The passenger cell combines high-strength steel panels and cast aluminium for structural elements while the other panels are made from either carbon fibre-reinforced polymer or aluminium.

audi-quattro-concept-rear

The engine
The Audi Sport quattro features a plujg-in hybrid drive that produces 515 kW of power and 800 Nm of torque. All that power is transferred to the rear wheels via a 8-speed tiptronic auto transmission and a sports diff.

Audi suggests that fuel consumption for this vehicle will be around 2.5L/100km which is rather amazing considering that the combustion engine in this vehicle is a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8.

However that engine is fitted with a cylinder on demand system that shuts down four of the eight cylinders when the load on the engine does not require full power and there is also a stop-start system that shuts the engine down completely when the vehicle is stopped in traffic or at lights.

And located between the V8 and the transmission is a 110 kW electric motor that is charged from a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery that will give the Sport quattro range of 50km running only on electric power.

Drivers have the ability to choose between three different modes … electric, hybrid and sports. In sports mode the car operates on the combustion engine alone.

When both the electric motor and the V8 combustion engine are configured to operate together in hybrid mode the Audi Sports quattro lives up to the image that goes with the name and can hit 100kmh from a standing start in just 3.7 seconds and has a top speed of 305kmh.

audi-quattro-concept-dash

The interior
The interior of the car is all about the driver and all important instruments and displays are all clearly visible and some of the information can also be shown as virtual 3D displays

Perhaps too much has been done to simplify the dashboard. Just look at all the controls that are now located on the steering wheel and think about how you would handle that at high speed or in heavy traffic.

The bottom line
Will we see the Audi Sports quattro concept go into production? We just might because there’s not a lot of technology in this car that’s ground-breaking … the headlight technology is reportedly going to appear in the coming mid-life upgrade to the Audi A8 … so perhaps next year or the year after we’ll see the Audi Sport quattro name appear on a production model once again.

 

By | December 4th, 2013|Audi, Featured|0 Comments

2013 Nissan Micra Road Test

Nissan Micra road testDoing a full road test on a car the size of the Nissan Micra ST-L is not a lot of fun for anyone here at Aussie Motoring HQ.

You see … we’re all tall and we’re not located in a capital city … in fact we’re about three to four hours drive from the city … and cars this size are usually not built for tall drivers on long trips.

So road testing something the size of the Nissan Micra is not very high on the list of cars we want to road test and we try to avoid them.

However, when one just magically appears in your driveway and you have to actually drive it somewhere to get it back to the person who left it there … well you can always fit in a quick road test can’t you?

The Nissan Micra ST-L that I drove was the latest 4-door manual sedan and it had just over 4,o00 km on the clock.

Overall Finish
The 2013 Micra ST-L comes to us from India … previous models were built in Indonesia … but the overall finish of the car I drove was excellent and the finish was equal to anything I’ve seen on Nissan’s coming from Japan.

There were however, two issues that I did notice about the car I drove. It had been thoroughly cleaned inside and out in Brisbane and yet, by the time it drove up the Bruce Highway to our location, there were quite noticeable signs of dust across the dashboard and on the instruments.

The second issue was the inset rubber mat on the driver’s side. The stitching that holds the mat to the carpet is inset by perhaps 10 millimetres from the edge of the mat and that allowed the edges of the mat to start rolling up. It made the floor in front of the driver’s seat look a little shabby.

The engine
The Nissan Micra is powered by a 1.2-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine that produces 56kW of power and 100Nm of torque. That was coupled to 5-speed manual transmission in the car I drove (a constant velocity auto transmission is available as an option).

I found the car surprisingly fun to drive with the manual transmission although the 1.2-litre engine quickly runs out of puff on any sort of hill when you’re in fifth gear. On the flat it’s fast … on the hill in any gear it becomes a little slower so expect to be busy with the gear lever in anything but flat terrain.

I can only guess at what it would be like to drive the automatic version of the Nissan Micra but I wouldn’t expect it to be a lot of high-adrenalin fun.

The clutch in the manual Nissan Micra caught me off guard too. It’s very … and I mean very … light and fortunately no one was around to watch as I backed out of the driveway and then tried to proceed in a forward direction.

If anyone had been around they would have seen the Micra I was driving trying to emulate a kangaroo and it’s been many a long year since I last managed to do that. By the first corner I had mastered the clutch … at least I thought so … but I did have a quite a few revs on and maybe I spun the wheels … just a bit.

I didn’t get to spend long enough in the car to get any useful fuel consumption figures but the economy gauge that’s part of the dashboard was telling me that I was running at about 8L/100k.

Nissan Micra ST-L

Handling
On good tar the ride was wonderful … smooth … comfortable … just what you would want on a town car. But city roads are a far cry from some of the main roads around here and I soon discovered that the ride of the Nissan Micra on the average bumpy road around here was somewhat choppy … and hard … and I didn’t like it.

Despite that the car handled well … you can point it into a curve or corner at a reasonable legal speed and know that it’s going to come out the other side still pointing in the right direction and your passenger won’t be looking for the escape hatch.

As you would expect in a vehicle this size, the turning circle is tight … just nine metres according to Nissan.

The body
I’m neutral about the body shape. It seems to me that the designers wanted to be just a little bit quirky with the look of the Nissan Micra but still have something that was conservative enough to appeal to older drivers … and let’s fact it … not every Nissan Micra is going to be sold to a trendy young thing.

Older city drivers are going to be interested in the Micra because of its price tag, it’s size and it’s fuel economy and Nissan wouldn’t want to scare them away with something that was too quirky.

Whether it’s quirky or not you do get good all-round vision from the driver’s seat and big rear-view mirrors let you see what’s behind you too.

nissan-micra-stl-dash

The interior
The Nissan Micra I drove was a 4-door so there’s not going to be a huge amount of legroom for the driver. When I jumped in the car I found that the seat was fairly upright and already set all the way back and even though I felt as though my knees were almost up around my ears I left it the way it was.

I wasn’t uncomfortable and the driver’s seat certainly supported me everywhere I needed it to but … for me … it’s definitely a city car. I would not take it on a long trip.

The dashboard layout is simple and easy to read. All the important gauges are right where you can see them and the fuel gauge is incorporated into the driving computer so it will even tell you when it’s time to fill up … and how many kilometres you’ve got left till you run out of fuel.

Don’t expect big things from the boot in the Nissan Micra … remember, this is a small car however it does hold a surprisingly large amount of stuff if you pack it correctly. The Micra I tested arrived with enough luggage for two adults for four nights … and it was all packed neatly in the boot.

If just two of you are travelling in the car you can always fold the back seats down for even more luggage space.

And tucked in a well under the boot is a full-size spare.

nissan-micra-boot

The bottom line
If I was getting on in years, didn’t do any driving outside of the city or town limits and I wanted a car that was both economical and cheap to buy then maybe I would look at the Nissan Micra … and if there was just a bit more legroom for the driver I might actually buy one.

By | December 1st, 2013|Featured, Nissan, Road Tests|0 Comments

Hino at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show

hino-concept-busThe 2013 Tokyo Motor Show has been and gone and there was plenty there to interest everyone … including commercial operators

Electric and hybrid vehicles were the theme for Hino at the show this year and one of the most interesting vehicles was the Hino Poncho Mini … a concept for an electrically powered small bus for congested urban areas.

This concept is a full electric vehicle with the battery packs fitted along the chassis so there’s no intrusion by the engine or transmission into the space available for passengers. This means that the Poncho Mini has a no-step flat floor and that makes this bus very easy to board … by everyone.

Hino is looking at hybrids as well and a plug-in hybrid version of its popular Melpha bus was on display too. There’s no doubt that as environmental issues become more important we’ll see more plug-in hybrids and electrically powered buses on our streets.

Hino hybrid bus

Hino had a third bus on display that doesn’t look all that much from the outside but it’s what is on the inside that makes this bus something special. This S’elega tour bus is fitted with what’s been missing from buses all over the world for far too long … advanced pre-crash safety systems.

This Hino S’elega tour bus is fitted with a system that monitors driver awareness and alerts drivers to dangerous situations such as unintended lane departures. A tired driver and a big bus drifting across lanes is not something you want to see and it’s time that this sort of safety equipment was standard in all tour buses.

Hino heavy mine truck

And if you’re into BIG trucks then you wouldn’t have been disappointed with the Hino 700 series mining truck. Any truck that’s almost 10 metres long and has a gross vehicle mass of 50 tonnes is going to need a big engine to move it and the 700 Series truck is no exception.

The Hino 700 Series truck that was on display is powered by a 12.9-litre engine that produces 480 horsepower. To get all that power to the wheels Hino uses a 16-speed automated manual transmission.

HINO+Celega

 

By | November 30th, 2013|Commercial|0 Comments

Holden Barina RS Hatch

Holden Barina RS HatchWhile the Barina has been a fun car it’s always been lacking a bit of grunt straight off the showroom floor but now that’s all changed … now we have the Holden Barina RS and if you were looking for something in the light car segment with a lot of get up and go then the Barina RS hatch is for you.

While not a whole lot has changed on the outside if you look under the bonnet you’ll see that this is a Barina on steroids … turbo-charged, fuel-injected steroids … and at the same time you’re going to get great fuel economy too.

The engine
The Holden Barina RS is powered by the same 1.4-litre turbo-charged fuel injected engine that you will find in the Holden Cruze. Holden have coupled that fiery little engine to a six-speed manual transmission (a six-speed auto with Active Select is available as an option).

On the outside
The ride height of the Holden Barina RS is 10mm lower than the others in the Barina range and there are new 17-inch alloy wheels that are only available on the RS along with unique front and rear fascias fog lamps and a new exterior body colour called ‘Orange Rock’.

Barina RS interior

The suspension on the RS has also been tweaked with stiffer shocks absorbers and performance-tuned dampers with increased spring rates.

On the inside
The Holden Barina RS has a piano black finish to the interior, heated leather trimmed front seats with RS branding, leather gear shift knob and sports pedals.

Holden Barina RS rear

The bottom line
The Barina RS is only available as a hatch and the starting price for the manual version is $20,990 plus dealer and government charges. If you want the auto you’re going to be looking at a price that starts at $23,190.

The Holden Barina RS went on sale this week.

By | November 16th, 2013|Featured, Holden|0 Comments

The Toyota 86 Gets Tough

Toyota 86 sports carAny model by any manufacturer can handle normal town and country driving … at least it should be able to. And you can always tart them up and slap on some fancy graphics and call them a race car.

But if you really want to prove how tough a car really is you take them rallying. Getting airborne over a few speed humps on a street circuit is nothing compared to taking flight on a rally course and that’s where the Toyota 86 sports car is headed.

Unfortunately we’re not going to see a Toyota works team in action in the World Rally Championship but Toyota Motorsport in Germany is taking the Toyota 86 sports car and turning it into a full-blown rally car for any private customer who wants one.

The car will be known as the TMG GT86 CS-R3 and under R3 regulations it must have a six-speed sequential gearbox, limited slip dif, modified engine, adapted brakes and other modifications.

The first rally version of the Toyota 86 will be available for the 2015 rally season and, with rear-wheel drive, it’s going to be an exciting car to watch.

By | November 14th, 2013|Toyota|0 Comments

The Chrysler 300S

Chrysler 300SIf you’re looking for a new car that makes a big, bold statement then one of the few remaining cars that will do that for you is the Chrysler 300.

It’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea and some may think that it’s a little too big and bold but it certainly sells well in Australia.

And for those who find the Chrysler 300 a little on the conservative side … those who want to make an even bigger and bolder statement … we now have the Chrysler 300S.

From its 20-inch gloss black alloy wheels to its bright red leather upholstery there’s nothing subdued or under-stated about the Chrysler 300S

The exterior
On the outside Chrysler has taken the standard 300 body and added a black chrome grill with platinum surround, black headlamp bezels, body-coloured door handles and side mirrors, a boot lip spoiler and badging with black accents.

Chrysler 300S interior

The interior
If you can look beyond the bright red upholstery … why bother with red highlights when you can just splash that colour all over the upholstery … you will find that the centre console, steering wheel and door panels are finished in Piano Black. The burl wood highlights found in the standard 300 range have been replaced with a matte carbon hydrographic accents in the 300S.

Other unique additions to the interior include sports pedals and heated sports front seats.

The Chrysler 300S also comes with bi-xenon headlamps with automatic high beam control, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, heated and cooled front cup holders and heated rear seats.

There’s also a memory system for the driver’s seat, exterior mirrors, steering column and radio. A navigation system and reversing camera are incorporated in the 8.4-inch screen at the top of the centre stack.

300S rear

The engine
The Chrysler 300S is powered by Chrysler’s 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine that produces 210kW of power and 340Nm of torque. This engine is coupled to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

The bottom line
And if the Chrysler 300S makes the statement that’s right for you then you can have one for just $47,500 plus dealer delivery and government charges.

Actually that’s not such a bad price for what you get … although not everyone wants to make that much of a statement when they’re driving down the road.

 

By | November 13th, 2013|Chrysler, Featured|0 Comments

Kia Soul EV

Kia Soul EVBack in 2011 Kia announced the Kia Ray EV … Kia’s first electric car … but it was only for domestic consumption and not much of that.

To help Kia gather some real-world experience in electric vehicles the Kia Ray EV was supplied to government departs to be operated as just another part of the government fleet.

Kia hasn’t said a great deal about electric vehicles since then but now things are about to change because we’re about to see the Kia Soul EV … an electric car that has been developed for the real world … including overseas markets.

The Kia Soul EV is based on the new 2014 model which Kia says is going to be quite different to the first-generation Soul. The basis of the new Kia Soul will be the latest Kia cee’d with a longer wheelbase, stiffer body shell and upgraded suspension.

An electric car from Kia

While the photos show a heavily wrapped vehicle Kia says that the Soul EV will have “head-turning styling and exterior features that project a cutting-edge image and discreetly highlight it’s electric powertrain.”

What that hype translates into in reality is yet to be seen but what we do know that the Kia Soul EV will come with projection type headlamps, LED positioning lamps, LED rear combination lamps and aerodynamic 16-inch alloy wheels.

electric Kia Soul

On the inside
There’s a special Supervision instrument cluster and centre stack with an 8-inch display screen. Recycled materials will be used inside the vehicle wherever possible.

Under the hood
The Kia Soul EV is powered by an 81.4kW electric motor that produces 285Nm of torque and drives the front wheels via a single speed constant ratio gear reduction unit. 0 to 100km/h in something less than 12 seconds is not mind-blowing but it’s certainly not mind-numbing in a vehicle that is obviously designed for city driving.

Power for the electric motor comes from a high-capacity 27kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack that will give the Kia Soul EV a range of around 200km.

Charging time for the battery is quite reasonable too. the Soul EV can be charged from a normal 240 volt household supply in five hours if the battery is fully drained. If you happen to have a 100kW power outlet you can fast-charge the Soul EV in just 25 minutes.

Kia Soul Electric - side view

Safety
These days car makers are thinking more about safety for pedestrians who may not hear an electric vehicle approaching and Kia has decided to add some noise to the Soul EV.

A Virtual Engine Sound System has been included in the Soul EV and this system will emit an audio alert at speeds below 20kim/h or when the car is reversing. At higher speeds there will be no extra noise and Kia says that the Soul EV is “extremely quiet inside.

At the moment the Kia Soul EV is being tested in Korea, Europe and the USA and Kia plans to put the car into production early in 2014.

Details such as price and when we’re likely to see the Kia Soul EV in Australia have yet to be announced.

electric soul

By | November 12th, 2013|Featured, Kia|0 Comments

Cordless Charging for Electric Cars

Cordless charging for electric carsWhat if plugging your electric car into a power point was not the fastest way of fully charging your car? What if you didn’t need heavy cables and big plugs to charge your electric car?

What if there was a way to have cordless charging so that all you had to do was park your car in your garage and the charging happened automatically?

Cordless charging for electric cars is not a fantasy … cordless charging for electric cars is here now … although only at the research stage and it’s being done by a group of companies that include Volvo, Bombardier Transportation and the European coach builder, Van Hool.

So how does cordless charging for electric cars work? The short explanation is that you simply place the car over a charging device and the charging starts automatically.

The longer explanation of cordless charging for electric cars is that the energy is transferred from the charging device to the vehicle’s battery via an electromagnetic field. This system needs two induction coils … one in the charging device and the other in the vehicle.

The coil in the charging device creates an alternating electromagnetic field that the coil in the vehicle picks up and converts back into electrical energy that charges the battery.

how cordless car charging works

While this technology has already been used in a number of ways around the home it has not yet been used commercially to charge anything as big as the battery in an electric vehicle.

The research found that the test vehicle … a Volvo C30 Electric could be fully charged using the cordless technology in just 2.5 hours.

Although there is no common standard for this type of technology Volvo will continue with the research because they see cordless charging for electric cars as having great potential.

induction charging for electric cars

 

By | November 11th, 2013|Electric Vehicles|0 Comments

Renault Master High Roof Van

Renault Mast High Roof VanJust when you thought that van roofs couldn’t get any higher the Renault Master High Roof is added to the Renault range of commercial vehicles.

Not only do you get 36% more space in the Renault Master High Roof van but you also get rear-wheel drive and dual rear wheels … a first in the Master range. The rear axle rating in the new Master High Roof van is 3,200kg and the vehicle can tow another 3,000kg.

Load space in the Renault Master High Roof van has been increased to 17 cubic metres and the payload has been increased to 2134kg which means this van can really carry a big load.

Despite the size and the carrying capacity the unladen weight of the vehicle has been kept down to ensure that the gross vehicle mass is just 4,500kg which means that the vehicle can be legally driven by anyone who holds a normal passenger car licence.

Although just because they can doesn’t necessarily mean they should. Based in a tourist town we see a lot of people driving big campervans who are way out of their comfort zone.

high roof Renault Master

The engine
Let’s face it … in a van this size you’re probably not going to want sports car performance but you are going to want plenty of grunt and that’s what you get with the standard 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine that produces 110kW of power and 350Nm or torque between 1500rpm and 2750rpm.

This engine is coupled to your choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or a new ZF six-speed auto that uses an electric actuator to engage the clutch so that you get a better level of control when moving at very low speeds in tight situations.

Dimensions and Loading
We’ve already mentioned some of the dimensions but here are a few more of the ones that are important to commercial users.

The Renault Master High Roof van shares the same wheelbase as the normal LWB model in the Master range but the overhang has been increased by 650mm and that gives you an interior load length of 4,383mm, a width of 1,765mm and an internal height of 2,048mm.

The rear doors open to 270 degrees and that means that a forklift can be used to load the van. The passenger side sliding door is 1,270mm wide and 1,684mm high. A driver’s side sliding door is an option.

Renault High Roof Master

Safety and other goodies
The Renault Master High Roof van comes with an Isringhausen suspension seat as standard equipment for the driver. There’s nothing quite like a good seat when you’ve got to travel long distances in a commercial vehicle.

Standard equipment includes dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, electronic stability control with ASR traction control, cruise control and speed limiter, steel bulkhead with window, remote central locking, multifunction trip computer, Bluetooth and reverse parking sensors.

You can add to those safety features in the Renault Master High Roof with the Safety and Security Pack that includes auto headlights, rain sensing wipers, fog lights and alarm.

From there you can step up to the Premium Pack which gives you sat/nav, a reversing camera (something that really should be standard equipment in a vehicle this size) and some extra storage compartments.

Price
Well the Renault Master High Roof is a big commercial vehicle so the price tag fits the size To get into the manual version the price starts at $50,990 plus dealer and government charges and you can add another $2,000 for the auto.

The new High Roof Master is here in Australia and ready for delivery.

 

By | November 7th, 2013|Featured, Renault|0 Comments

The 2013 Volvo XC60

Volvo XC60Time flies and we’ve already reached the point where we are looking at the half-life upgrade for the current model Volvo XC60 and the this upgrade offers some interesting new features … most of which are either under the hood or in the interior.

The exterior
On the outside the Volvo XC60 gets a new headlight design and a free-flowing, uncluttered panel surface while the XC60 R-Design gets a redesigned nose, slightly different paint on the grill and a “refined” R-Design emblem.

All-new 20-inch Ixion II wheels are also now available on the XC60 R-Design.

The interior
The Volvo XC60 gets new upholstery colours, new wood inlays, a new headliner and silk metal frames around air vents and light controls. The option of sports seats has also been added to the new XC60 and now there are three different ways of opening the power-operated tailgate.

The XC60 R-Design comes with the new sports seats as standard. The standard upholstery is full leather or there’s a free option of cloth and perforated leather

Safety features
Corner Traction Control is now standard across the range but oddly Hill Descent Control remains as an option.

The XC60 R-Design chassis has been stiffened and the shock absorber springs and anti-roll bars have been tweaked to make them firmer and more balanced

Volvo XC60 front

The engine
There are four engine options (two petrol and two diesel) for the Volvo XC60 starting with the T6 petrol engine that delivers 224kW of power and 440Nm of torque. This is coupled to Volvo’s second-generation six-speed Adaptive Geartronic transmission.

The XC60 R-Design has the same T6 petrol engine but it has been Polestar-optimised and now has a displacement of 3.0 litres and produces an extra 20kW of power and40Nm of torque

The XC60 is also available with the 2.0-litre GTDI T5 petrol engine that produces 177kW of power and 320Nm of torque.

From there the Volvo XC60 moves into diesel propulsion with a Polestar-optimised D5 engine for the R-Design that produces 169kW of power and 470Nm of torque that drives through a six-speed Adaptive Geartronic gearbox.

The standard D5 diesel engine is used for the lesser Volvo XC60 and it delivers 158kW of power and 440Nm of torque.

There is also a five-cylinder D4 diesel engine available for the XC60 that delivers 120kW of power and 400Nm of torque at just 1500rpm.

Volvo XC60 interior

Technology
Volvo’s Adaptive Digital Display which first appeared in the new Volvo V40 now makes its appearance in the XC60. This display uses a Thin Film Transistor crystal display to give the driver personalised information and drivers have the choice of three different themes for the display.

XC60 R-Design owners have a different set of themes to what appears in the XC60.

The XC60 now comes with permanent high beam thanks to Volvo’s new Active High Beam Control. This system save the driver from having to switch from high to low beam if a car is approaching at night and it works through a projector module integrated into the headlamp.

This module assesses how much of the high beam needs to be shaded out when there is an approaching car or when the XC60 is closing on a car travelling in the same direction.

There’s also new software that extends the Volvo XC60’s ability to detect and slow the car if there is a cyclist in a dangerous area ahead of the car. The system will even bring the XC60 to a halt if a cyclist swerves in front of the car and a collision is imminent.

The same technology can also detect pedestrians who step in front of the car. If the driver does not respond by applying the brakes the system will do it for him.

Volvo’s City Safety system is also standard across the XC60 range. This system works at speeds up to 50km/h and automatically applies the brake if there is a danger of rear-ending the car in front.

Volvo XC60 rear

The bottom line
The entry level Volvo XC60 starts at $58,990 and you can add another $2,000 for the entry level diesel while the top of the range petrol XC60 starts at $61,990 and you can add another $8,000 for the diesel version.

The Volvo XC60 R-Design diesel version will set you back $73,990 and you can add another $5,000 for the petrol version. While Volvo’s press release did not mention dealer and government charges I believe that the above price points do not include these charges.

By | November 4th, 2013|Featured, Volvo|0 Comments

The New Citroen C3

Citroen C3The New Citroen C3 has arrived in Australia and if you were expecting something a little quirky … a little different … and maybe a lot more fun than all the other small cars out there then you’re not going to be disappointed.

Citroen has always delivered something different and, while you won’t see a Citroen C3 cruising down the expressway on three wheels you will see something that certainly does stand out from the crowd. Even the way Citroen mix and match the engine and transmission options is a little different in the C3

Range
The Citroen C3 is available in two equipment levels and two engine/transmission levels. The entry level C3 is the PureTech Seduction Manual and it comes equipped with a 60kW 1.2-litre, three-cylinder (yes … just three cylinders) engine that delivers 118Nm of torque at 5,750rpm

The 12 valve multi point fuel injected engine is matched with a five-speed manual gearbox and that combination delivers fuel economy of just 4.6L/100km on a combined cycle.

If you want auto transmission then you will start with the Auto Seduction C3 and you’re going to be sitting behind a 88kW, 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine coupled to a four-speed sequential auto-adaptive auto transmission.

This combination develops 160Nm or torque at 4,250rpm and returns 6.6L/100km on a combined cycle.

The same engine powers the top of the range C3 … the Exclusive.

citroen c3 side view

Equipment levels
Even the entry level Citroen C3 is well equipped and features a Zenith windscreen, LED daytime running lights, front fog lights, full-size spare, cruise control with speed limiter, manual air conditioning, leather steering wheel, multi-function trip computersix airbags and more.

If you move up to the C3 Seduction automatic you get all of the above plus special rims and a space-saver spare tyre. I’m not sure if you could class a space-saver spare as something worth having but but it’s there anyway.

When you step up to the exclusive you get everything in the base model plus the dinky toy spare, 17-inch rims, a front centre armrest (it may sound strange but personally that’s something that is definitely worth having) automatic air conditioning, rear-view camera, rear-park assist, satellite navigation, automatic wipers and automatic headlights.

citroen c3 dash

Safety
Safety features on the new Citroen C3 include ventilated front disc brakes, ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution, emergency braking assistance, electronic stability control and six airbags

So what’s quirky and different about the Citroen C3? Just take a look at the photos taken inside the car and imagine driving down the street with all that expanse of glass over your head. That’s not a sunroof … that’s the Zenith windscreen.

I’m betting that you won’t want to call Windscreens O’Brien if you get a crack in that expanse of glass … but I still think that it’s worth having.

citroen c3 windscreen

The bottom line
If the quirky Citroen bug has bitten you then be prepared to pay a reasonable price for your car. The Citroen C3 Seduction Manual is $19,990 plus dealer and government charges. The Seduction Automatic is $22,990 plus dealer and government charges and the Exclusive Automatic is $25,990 plus all those nasty charges.

However … if you’re quick Citroen has a special deal going on the entry level C3 and until December 31 you and drive it away for just $19,990.

Would I do it if I wanted a small car? I would certainly be tempted and it would be on my test-drive list.

By | November 2nd, 2013|Citroen, Featured|0 Comments

2013 Renault Megan Entry Model

2013 renault meganeIf you have a yen to drive a small car that’s not only classy but not what everyone else is driving then the 2013 Renault Megane range is definitely worth looking at.

It’s even more attractive now that Renault have completed the Megane range with their entry level model that features a 1.2-litre four-cylinder, turbocharged, fuel injected petrol engine that comes a drive-away price tag of just $19,990.

For that price you get some impressive technology and a fuel consumption of just 5.6L/100km on the combined cycle.

Of course great fuel consumption and a small motor are not going to translate into sparkling performance but 0 to 100km/h in 10.9 seconds is not too shabby and the engine produces 97kW of power at 5,500rpm and 205Nm or torque that comes in at 2,000rpm.

renault-megane-front

The Renault Megane gets that power to the road via a six-speed manual transmission and manages to produce just 132g/km of CO2.

Unfortunately Renault is not going to hold the entry level Megane at that $19,990 drive-away low price for long. At the moment Renault has indicated that that introductory price will only last till November 15.

2013 Renault Megane rear

 

By | October 14th, 2013|Renault|0 Comments

The BMW i3

bmw i3The BMW i3 is the company’s answer to what comes next in a future where more and more people are going to electricity to power their cars and free them from the grip of the petrol companies … and it’s here in Australia right now.

Well … a pre-production version is but more of them will be in the showrooms in a few months time.

The BMW i3 also introduces BMW i … a new sub-brand that BMW has launched to cover their range of electrically powered vehicles. It seems that, while conventionally powered vehicles will be around for a while yet, BMW believes that electrically powered vehicles are going to grow in popularity and may not be a passing phase as so many seem to think.

The body
There’s no doubt that BMW haven’t been afraid to bring some futuristic concept car styling to the i3 and that goes way beyond the way the vehicle looks.

The BMW i3 is actually two modules … the passenger cell and the chassis and drivetrain… joined together. The body is made from light-weight carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic and features opposing doors and no B-pillar.

bmw i3 sedan

The carbon fibre is an extremely rigid material that can absorb a lot of the energy that’s generated in an accident and that enables the body to withstand some impressive impacts without getting bent out of shape.

A feature of the i3 is what BMW describes at its “black belt” The “black belt” runs from the bonnet, up over the cabin and down over the rear of the car.

The BMW i3 is 3,999mm long, 1,775mm wide and 1,578mm high.

i3 chassis

The chassis
The chassis of the BMW i3 has also been designed to be strong and light-weight. It’s made up of aluminium and other light-weight components and, as a totally electric vehicle, it’s curb-weight is just 1,195kg.

That’s a figure that BMW says is comparable to a similar conventionally powered vehicle that has a full tank of fuel.

The engine
The BMW i3 comes in two versions. The completely electric vehicle is powered by an electric motor that develops 125kW of power and is fed from a lithium-ion battery pack that sits under the floor of the vehicle.

It takes 3.7 seconds for the vehicle to accelerate from 0 to 60km/h and 7.2 seconds for the vehicle to accelerate from 0 to 100km/h

This combination gives a range of between 130 and 160km and BMW suggests that the average customer would only need to recharge their vehicle two or three times a week. The range can be extended by as much as 20km operating the vehicle in Eco Pro mode and a further 20km can be added to the range by operating it in Eco Pro+ mode.

BMW i will supply a wall-mounted box for charging and the i3 can also be charged from a conventional power outlet.

The BMW i3 will also be available fitted with a small petrol engine to extend the range to around 300km. The petrol engine is a 650cc two-cylinder unit that develops 25kW of power and is mounted close to the electric motor above the rear axles.

This engine is designed to begin recharging the battery as soon as the level drops below a specified point.

The electric motor also switches from drive to generator depending on what the vehicle is doing at the time. It also adds to the braking effect at low speeds and coasts when the vehicle is running at higher speeds.

i3 interior

The interior
Inside the car you will notice that there’s no centre tunnel for the transmission and, when that’s combined with the wide-opening doors, no B-pillar and specially designed seats, the result is a fairly spacious looking interior.

The interior of the BMW i30 features naturally treated leather, wood, wool and other renewable and recycled raw materials. The seats have a thinner backrest and the weight has been kept to a minimum to help keep the total vehicle weight down.

The driver’s seat is slightly raised to give the driver a better view in city traffic.

Most controls are mounted on the steering column while the instrument cluster and iDrive display are free-standing.

rear view of the bmw i3

ConnectedDrive and price
BMW will be offering new ConnectedDrive features with the i3 and the key to these will be a SIM card that will be fitted as standard. More information about these and other features along with the pricing will be released closer to the vehicle launch.

The BMW i3 is definitely going to be an eye-catching car. While the looks and technology may be a bit too futuristic for some I’m sure that this vehicle will have plenty of appeal.

 

By | October 3rd, 2013|BMW, Featured|0 Comments

The New Golf GTI

golf-gtiIf you’re a Golf GTI fan then this month in the one you’ve been waiting for because October is THE month the new Golf GTI will be released in Australia.

The very first Golf GTI was released way back in 1976 and it had just 81kW of power … the new Golf GTI has twice that power, a whole lot more torque and faster acceleration than ever before. The new GTI needs just 6.5 seconds to reach 100km/h.

Technology has come a long way since that first Golf GTI and such features as Driver Fatigue Detection, Driving Profile Selection, Adaptive Cruise Control and Extended Electronic Differential Lock that are all included on the new GTI were just science fiction back in 1976.

The body
As you would expect the Golf GTI shares the same body with other models in the Golf range but of course there are some differences.

The GTI gets, red-painted brake callipers, smoked rear lights, a lower front spoiler with black aerodynamic louvres, chrome tipped exhaust tail pipes (left and right), red chrome strip and GTI badges on the radiator grill, black side sill panel extensions, rear bumper with black diffuser and a rear roof spoiler with black aerodynamic extensions.

18×7.5inch alloy wheels round complete the GTI ‘look’ of the new Golf. There’s more to the body than just a hot ‘look’ … as with all models in the Golf range the GTI comes with side intrusion protection and a rigid safety cell that is further protected by front and rear crumple zones.

The GTI weights in at 1,380kg for the manual or 1,356kg for the auto.

golf-gti-side-view

The engine
The new Golf GTI is powered by a 2.0 litre 4-cylinder inline turbocharged direct injection petrol engine that powers the front wheels and delivers 162kW of power between 4500rpm and 6200rpm. Maximum torque of 350Nm is available between 1500rpm and 4400rpm.

Of course an engine like this is not going to run on anything but premium unleaded with a minimum of 98RON.

Getting all that power to the road surface involves a 6-speed manual transmission as standard or a 6-speed dual clutch auto … with paddles … as an option.

More power and more torque often means more fuel consumption but Volkswagen have been able to achieve the exact opposite with the new Golf GTI. Internal engine modifications including a new thermal management systems have produced a 19 per cent improvement in fuel economy.

The manual GTI returns 7.7L/100km in city driving and 5.3L/100km on the open road while the auto version returns 8.3L/100km in the city and 5.5L/100km on the highway.

The engine on both the auto and manual version of the GTI is fitted with a Stop/Start system that automatically turns the engine off when the vehicle is stopped in traffic and the automatically turns the engine on as soon as the accelerator is depressed.

golf gti

Suspension
The suspension on the new Golf GTI includes what Volkswagen calls Adaptive Chassis Control and it’s only available on the GTI. This system incorporates electrically controlled dampers that constantly adjust to the road conditions, the driving situation and driver’s requirement.

There are three settings … Normal, Comfort and Sport … and this system is part of the Driver Profile Selection.

Interior
Once again Volkswagen have included a unique fabric in the upholstery in the new Golf GTI and there’s also a leather upholstery and door trim available as an optional extra. Of course sports seats with additional side support are standard in the GTI.

The rear seats split 60/40 to give you more luggage space. With the rear seat fully upright there’s 380 litres of luggage space and this increases to 1270 when the seats are folded.

Brake, clutch and accelerator pedals all have an aluminium finish, some switches have chrome highlights and there are decorative inlays on the instrument surrounds, centre console and passenger side dashboard and doors.

golf gti dashboard

The Golf GTI dashboard displaying a warning from the Driver Fatigue Detection System

Dual zone automatic climate control air conditioning with air quality and humidity sensor and dust/pollen filters is standard on the new GTI.

The instrumentation includes all the usual displays incorporated in a multi-function colour display that includes screen transitions with animations and a lap-timer.

The sound system controls and satellite navigation system are incorporated into the centre stack that includes a 5.8-inch colour touch screen. The sound system includes eight speakers and the driver can also control it from buttons mounted on the steering wheel.

Controls for the dashboard displays, the cruise control and mobile phone are also mounted on the steering wheel. The GTI steering wheel features leather trim with red stitching and brushed aluminium inserts.

Safety
The new Golf GTI comes with a full suite of safety features including all the standards and a few you may not have seen before.

The Driver Fatigue Detection System is standard across the entire golf range. It automatically analyses the driving characteristics and warns the driver if those characteristics indicate possible fatigue. If the warning is ignored it is repeated after 15 minutes.

The Driving Profile Selection gives the driver a wide range of settings to choose from that adjust the way the car operates and handles.

Three-point seat belts are fitted for all occupants and the belts for the driver and front-seat passenger are height adjustable and fitted with pre-tensioners and belt force limiters.

The airbag system includes driver and front-passenger airbags and side airbags, driver’s knee airbag and side-curtain airbags front and rear.

centre stack in the new golf gti

Pricing
Pricing for the new Golf GTI starts at $41,490 (the manufacturer’s recommended retail that does not include dealer and government charges) for the 6-speed manual and you can add another $2,500 for auto and then there are a number of options that can really take the price up.

 

By | October 2nd, 2013|Featured, VW|0 Comments

Renault Fluence Gets a Mid-life Makeover

2013 Renault FluenceI’ve always been something of fan of Renault cars even though their appearance could be described as a little quirky.

Back in the mid-1970’s I owned a Renault 12 that took me over a lot of country kilometres … both tar and dirt … and I suppose that was perhaps one of the less quirky designs that have come out of the Renault design studio at that time. Even if it was a little boring to look at it was exciting to drive with great acceleration and handling.

Personally I tend to like those quirky designs … they say something about Renault and about people who buy their products … they’re not afraid to be different. Unfortunately though there’s nothing all that quirky about the Renault Fluence … with the exception of the name.

However the Renault Fluence is selling here in Australia and it’s selling in enough numbers for Renault to want to release the latest version. There’s not a whole lot that sets it apart from the previous model but then that’s what you get in a mid-life makeover

On the outside
On the outside there’s a restyled grill and new headlamps at the front and a chrome strip at the rear. Both the 16-inch alloys on the Dynamique and 17-inch wheels on the Privilege have undergone some changes too,

On the inside
It’s on the inside that most of the changes have occurred. There’s now a new digital dashboard fitted to both models in the Fluence range and it’s just a little bit quirky so there’s hope yet for the Renault Fluence.

The radio and the cloth upholstery on the base model … the Dynamique … have undergone a change and Bluetooth connectivity allows mobile phones to feed music into the Arkamys 4-speaker, 2-tweeter sound system.

Interior of the 2013 Renault Fluence

The top-of-the-range model … the Privilege … has new leather upholstery along with a 7-inch full colour touch screen that connects the driver with the audio, satellite navigation system and other in-car systems. A new Bose audio system has also been added.

A new assisted parking brake has been added to the Renault Fluence Privilege and rear parking sensors and a colour reversing camera with guidance system have been added as well.

Smart-Card Key
The Renault Smart Card Key system in the Renault Fluence has been upgraded so that as long as the card is close to the vehicle the doors will unlock automatically and the push-button starter on the dashboard can be activated.

A sensor in the car communicates with the Smart Card Key so that if the driver moves away from the car the doors will automatically lock until the key comes back into range.

Rear of the 2013 Fluence

Prices
The 2013 Renault Fluence starts at $23,143 (manufacturer’s list price) for the base model Dynamique with manual transmission and $25,143 for the automatic while the Privilege with CVT auto starts at $30,298.

The prices are interesting but the look of the car … well …

 

 

 

 

By | September 26th, 2013|Renault|0 Comments

Kia Picanto LPG

Kia Picanto LPGIn the past cars at the Kia Picanto end of the small-car category have been able to produce some impressive fuel economy figures simply because of their size.

Cars of that size don’t need big engines so you almost get great fuel economy by default but we’re starting to see that the market in some countries … especially Europe … are wanting even better fuel economy plus much lower emissions.

Now that can produce some problems for car makers … how do you pack more technology to produce those lower figures into a car this size?

Some car makers are looking at hybrid technology but Kia is going in a different direction … they’ve now released the pilot model of a new addition to the Kia Picanto range … and this Picanto needs two fuel tanks because it operates on petrol and LPG.

The engine
The Kia Picanto LPG is powered by a modified version of the standard three-cylinder 1.0-litre Kappa engine.

This modified version of the standard 1.0-litre engine comes with an additional fuel system to handle the LPG. The extra system includes a solenoid valve, vaporiser (that converts the LPG into a gas) a gas filter and an injector module.

The modified engine for the Kia Picanto LPG shares the same continuously variable valve timing, cast aluminium block, off-set crankshaft, long-life timing chain and low-friction valve springs as the normal fuel powered engine.

kia picanto lpg engine

Two fuel tanks
Obviously if the Kia Picanto LPG runs on two different types of fuel then it’s going to need to fuel tanks. The 35-litre tank for normal fuel is located just ahead of the rear axle … as it is in all Picanto models while a pressurised 27-litre tank for the LPG is located below the boot in the space that was once occupied by the spare tyre.

I guess when you have such limited space to work in if you want to add something extra then you have to take something out and in this case it’s the spare tyre. Instead of a spare tyre you get what Kia refers to as a “tyre-mobility kit” … let’s just hope that if you get a puncture it’s not a really big one.

The extra fuel tank and the extra equipment at the other end of the Picanto adds an extra 51kg to the weight of the vehicle and this much extra weight in a small car is obviously going to have an impact on performance.

To ensure that the Picanto LPG is a lively little performer Kia have lowered the final drive ratio by 8.6%. 0-100kph takes 14.5 seconds and the LPG version of the Picanto has a top speed of 150kph.

kia picanto lpg dashboard

Drivers can switch between fuel tanks on the Kia Picanto LPG simply by pushing a button on the dash and there are a couple of new additions to the instrument cluster on the Picanto LPG dash … two fuel gauges and two warning lamps when the fuel is running low.

Kia

Two versions
The Kia Picanto LPG will be available to three and five-door versions and two equipment levels … LX or EX. Fuel economy in LPG mode is 5.81/100Km with a CO2 emission level of 100g/km. Those numbers drop to 5.61/100Km and 97g/km if the vehicle is equipped with automatic stop-start.

The Kia Picanto LPG will go on sale in parts of Europe later this year. There are no Picanto models in the Kia range here in Australia so it’s unlikely that we’ll see the Kia Picanto LPG but we may see the technology at some time in the future in another Kia model.

And even if Kia doesn’t bring the technology to Australia it may only be a matter of time before some other car maker does.

 

By | September 12th, 2013|Featured, Kia|0 Comments

Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R

Toyota Yaris Hybrid-RI don’t know about you but when I see the word Yaris I begin to think of little old ladies … little old men … Sunday drivers …. and before long I’m yawning and nodding off for a Grandpa nap. But if I ever get to see this little monster … the Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R in the flesh … there’ll be no Grandpa naps for me.

Oh no … there’ll be nothing like that … just a burning desire to get into the driver’s seat and put the pedal to the metal and let the 1.6-litre 4-cylinder turbo combine with the two electric motors to lay rubber down the street.

Unfortunately, while I may get to see the Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R … and I might even be allowed to touch it … it’s unlikely that I’ll ever get to drive the thing because it’s a concept car and no manufacturer wants to see their concept car in the sweaty palms of a scribbler like me.

But I can dream and if this hybrid ever makes it into production then the only thing standing between me and a red-hot go would be my wife.

Ok so let’s put dreams aside and let’s look at the reality of the technical details.

Under the bonnet
To produce the Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R Toyota have combined their very popular Yaris hatch with high-performance engineering and advanced hybrid technology that Toyota developed for their Le Mans racing programme.

The direct-injection turbo has been adapted to racing conditions and ,when combined with the 1.6-litre 4-cylinder engine, it develops 224kW (300hp) of power and 420Nm of torque. Then when you hook that up to those two electric motors you get 313kW (420hp) of power.

The petrol engine powers the front wheels while the two electric motors power the rear wheels and just so a driver has some hope of staying below the legal speed limit in the Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R Toyota has thoughtfully given the car two driving modes.

These modes are controlled from a button on the steering wheel and with a push of that button the driver can select either “road” or “track” mode and in ‘track’ mode the rear electric motors can reach their combined maximum peak power.

Toyota Yaris concept

There’s also a third, smaller, electric motor located between the engine and the six-speed manual transmission that can operate as an advanced traction-control system.

At low speeds, or in a curve, when the engine power and torque exceed the grip potential of the front wheels, the motor can convert torque from the petrol engine into electric energy and direct it to the rear wheels.

The twin rear electric motors can also enhance handling characteristics during cornering by altering the distribution of torque between the left and right rear wheels, achieving the same effect as an intelligent torque vectoring differential.

Depending on the radius of the curve, the system can send more torque to the outside rear wheel, apply more braking force to the inside wheel or even brake and accelerate each wheel independently to promote a better driving line and to limit understeer.

If there is sufficient charge in the battery the Yaris Hybrid-R can even be operated in full electric mode for short distances.

2013 Toyota Yaris concept

On the outside
New headlights, a wider front grille and details picked out in black and blue are highlights of the Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R concept as are the BIG air intakes that direct the airflow onto the brakes for cooling.

The brakes themselves are grooved and perforated with six-piston callipers on the front and four-piston callipers on the rear.

If you happen to be at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week you’ll get to see the first showing of this hot little Yaris.

 

 

By | September 4th, 2013|Featured, Toyota|Comments Off on Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R