The Volvo Concept Coupe

volvo concept coupeDo you remember the Volvo P1800 coupe from the 1960s? Obviously these days that original P1800 design looks very dated but back in the days when it first hit the streets it looked almost futuristic and it certainly stood out in a time when car design was not all that exciting.

Well if you remember that original P1800 then Volvo has a treat for you … the latest Volvo Concept Coupe. Volvo says that you can think of this Concept Coupe as the next generation P1800 and I would suggest that we’re going to see this Concept Coupe go into production in the near or two.

Unlike most concept cars that are designed to really push design and technology limits the Volvo Concept Coupe seems to rely a lot on current technology while looking at the possibilities of Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture.

Volvo also says that their Concept Coupe is just the first of three concept cars that will explore Scalable Product Architecture.

volvo concept coupe dashboardVisual impact
What we see in the Volvo Concept Coupe is a change in proportion. The distance between the axle and the dashboard has been extended and the cabin has been moved slightly further back.

The bonnet and the cabin roof have been lowered and the Concept Coupe rides on 21-inch wheels and if you really want to get into the designers’ headspace as this car came together it might help to think of a lion … even at rest it’s obvious what a lion is capable of doing.

The grille is quite different to what you might expect in a Volvo but it still carries the unmistakable Volvo emblem and the headlights are certainly moving away from what we expect headlights to look like.

If the Volvo Concept Coupe is to make it into product it’s unlikely that we will see some of the same design elements in the production model. While a leather instrument panel and some high quality carpet could be carried into production I doubt that we will see the inlays of naturally aged wood or the handcrafted crystal gear-lever.

The portrait aspect of the touch screen in the centre console it certainly a step away from current thinking in just about every make and model of car where landscape or square screens are the norm.

In the Volvo Concept Coupe the touch screen interacts with the adaptive digital display and HUD in front of the driver.

The engine
As you would expect in a concept vehicle like this one the Concept Coupe is powered by something more advanced than just a normal petrol engine.

The Volvo Concept Coupe is powered by a petrol plug-in hybrid with supercharger and turbo and this is teamed with an electric motor mounted on the rear axle. With this combination the Concept Coupe has a combined output of around 400bhp and over 600Nm or torque.

This combination is a test of Volvo’s plans to use electrification to create the most powerful versions in the new 4-cylinder Drive-E group of engines. Volvo suggests that these engines will “take power figures up into V8 territory.”

Now if only the original P1800 had that sort of power to play with.



By | September 2nd, 2013|Featured, Volvo|0 Comments

The Hyundai i30 SR

Hyundai i30 SRThe new Hyundai i30 SR has been launched and it’s definitely looking interesting.

All too often car makers stick a sporty badge and some sporty bling on a basic model and call it a sports sedan but that doesn’t seem to be the way Hyundai have gone with the i30 SR. Hyundai have started with the i30 Elite and built from there.

Sure there’s the sports equivalent of bling in the form of 17-inch machine-face alloy wheels, a special front grille and alloy-faced pedals but there’s more to the i30 SR than just that.

The engine
There’s a new, more powerful naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder engine that delivers 129kW of power and 209Nm of torque. That’s an increase of 19kW of power and 31Nm of torque compared to the previous 1.8-litre engine.

Hyundai have coupled that engine to a 6-speed manual transmission (a 6-speed auto is available as a $2200 option) and that delivers acceleration figures of 0-100km/h in 7.7 seconds … 1.4 seconds faster than the i30 Elite fitted with the 1.8-litre petrol engine

Acceleration figures for the Hyundai i30 SR fitted with the optional auto transmission are a little slower although still faster than an auto-equipped 1.8-litre Elite.

Combined fuel economy for the manual is 7.2L/100km  and 7.5L/100km for the auto.

Hyundai i30 SR

Hyundai Australia’s engineers have worked with Sachs … a leading shock absorber manufacturer … to develop special front dampers for the i30 SR and these have been combined with unique front springs to provide responsive steering and good ride qualities over most surfaces.

The front springs that now come with the new Hyundai i30 SR are four percent stiffer than those on the rest of the i30 petrol models.

The interior of the new i30SR features alloy sports pedals, black leather/leatherette upholstery and a power-operated driver’s seat with electric lumbar support.  A sunroof is available as a $2000 option.

The price for the new Hyundai i30SR starts at $27,990 for the manual version. The auto transmission and the sunroof are extra, metallic paint is also extra and you need to add delivery and government charges to that figure too.

By | August 28th, 2013|Hyundai|0 Comments

The Proton Suprima S Hatchback

Proton Suprima S hatchbackProton has come a long way in a relatively short time and I don’t expect that this post about the all new Proton Suprima S hatchback will generate the same level of abusive comments that our report on the Proton S16 and its lack of safety features generated.

The Proton Suprima S hatchback has just been unveiled in Malaysia and this is quite a neat looking vehicle that should appeal to a wide range of drivers here in Australia.

The Suprima S hatchback is powered by a 1.6 litre turbo engine that churns out 103kW of power and 205Nm of torque and puts the power to the road via Proton’s 7-speed ProTronic gearbox.

Safety features for the Proton Suprima S hatchback include six airbags, anti-trap power windows, ABS, ESC with traction control and the top of the range model will also come to Australia with rear parking sensors and reversing camera.

All those goodies give the Proton Suprima S hatchback a 5-star ANCAP safety rating  and buyers will undoubtedly be impressed by the 5-year warranty, 5-year roadside assist and 5-year capped price servicing that Proton is offering with this model.

No pricing or release date have yet been set for Australia but Proton in Australia expects the Suprima S hatchback to do well in the hotly contested small car market.

Suprima S hatchback

By | August 28th, 2013|Proton|Comments Off on The Proton Suprima S Hatchback

Inflatable Seatbelts Are Coming

inflatable seatbeltsThere is absolutely no doubt that seatbelts save lives and any driver or passenger who still believes that he or she doesn’t really need to wear a seatbelt is showing clear signs of the onset of insanity.

Yes I know they can be a pain if you’re jumping in and out of your car and if you don’t have them adjusted properly they be uncomfortable but what is nuisance value or discomfort when the option is dead?

However, while seatbelts undoubtedly save lives they can also inflict some minor injuries during accidents and they can leave behind some nasty bruises because crash forces are concentrated in the narrow area covered by the seatbelts.

While airbags can reduce those crash forces for front seat passengers up until now rear seat passengers have been left on their own to take whatever bruising is coming their way but at least for anyone riding in the backseat of a new Ford Mondeo things will soon change.

inflatable seatbeltsFrom the second half of 2014 … when Ford releases the all new Mondeo … Australia will see the introduction of inflatable seatbelts for rear seat passengers.

In normal operation, apart from what appears to be extra padding, these new inflatable seatbelts look little different to the seatbelts we have now. They also operate in just the same way but if an accident occurs these new inflatable seatbelts will deploy in just 40 milliseconds.

The inflated seatbelt’s increased diameter is more effective in holding the rear seat occupant in place and at the same time spreads the crash forces over five times more body area and so any injury caused by the seatbelt will be reduced. The inflatable seatbelt will also reduce head, neck and chest injuries.

If deployed the inflatable seatbelt’s airbag breaks through the belt fabric and expands sideways across the body. The airbag in the seatbelt fills at a slower rate than the dash airbags fitted to our vehicles because the seatbelt airbag is already close to the wearer so there is not the same need to bridge a gap similar to the one that exists between front seat occupants and the dashboard.

Now that Ford has introduced this technology I wonder how long it will be before we see inflatable seatbelts appearing in other models on the Australian market.

inflatable seatbelts

The seatbelts after the airbags have deflated

By | August 15th, 2013|Ford Australia, Technology|0 Comments

Ford EcoSport SUV Comes to Australia

Ford EcoSport comes to AustraliaAs if Ford doesn’t have enough SUVs in its line up … now there’s going to be yet another … the Ford EcoSport … due to hit the showrooms in December this year. But will Australian’s buy it?

Of course the Ford EcoSport isn’t exactly aimed at your average Australian SUV buyer … when we think of Australians and SUVs we tend to think big and Asian … or at least bigger than the EcoSport. And the EcoSport is built in India and comes with a 1.0 Litre engine … things that may discourage people from buying it.

Obviously Ford isn’t completely crazy though  … they are going to offer the EcoSport here in Australia with an optional 1.5 Litre petrol engine for all those who can’t get their head around the idea of driving a car with such a small engine.

And the Ford EcoSport is also going to come with a useful piece of technology that no other maker offers in the small SUV class so maybe there will be enough interest to translate into reasonable sales figures.

So what will we see when the Ford EcoSport arrives in December? A rugged but small SUV that has been around for a year or so and has been selling well in India. The standard 1.0 Litre EcoBoost engine delivers similar performance to a 1.6 Litre engine but with 20 percent better fuel economy.

Even Ford … in their press release … admits that the 1.0 Litre EcoBoost engine is small. They’re happy to tell you that it’s “tiny enough to fit on a sheet of A4 paper” and they’ve managed to wring 92kW of power and 170Nm of torque out of it.

For those who really can’t see themselves admitting to their friends that their new car has a tiny engine Ford has a 1.5 Litre petrol engine with twin independent variable camshaft timing available as an option.


Other features include electric power-assisted steering with comes with what Ford calls “Pull-Drift Compensation” to make it easier to handle in tight parking spots and tight U-turns. And if you ever do take your EcoSport SUV off road then you will have peace of mind knowing that Ford says that the EcoSport can wade through 550mm of water.

Small vehicles of any type tend not to stand up well to unpleasant meetings with bigger objects but Ford says that the EcoSport is especially strong because the body is made up of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel.

If that’s not enough then the suite of airbags fitted to the EcoSport will give you added protections. There’s the usual driver and front passenger airbags along with side and curtain airbags. There’s alos a driver’s knee airbag … that should be useful if you’re tall.

Technology does feature in this vehicle and apart from the usual Bluetooth, and driver-assist systems there’s also Ford SYNC. This gives the driver the ability to operate some functions by voice control. I’m sure you’ve seen it before in some of Ford’s ads for the Mondeo so I won’t go into it here but it is something that no one else offers in the class and it is something that will appeal to some people.

Ford says that we’ll learn more about the Ford EcoSport closer to the launch date … and hopefully get some more images to show you … so if you’re in the market for a small but rugged SUV then stay tuned.

Back in 2012 I suggested that the EcoSport would sell well here in Australia and despite my tone in this article I still think it will … but we haven’t seen a mad rush towards smaller engines in the time between that first article and this one so maybe the idea of a 1.0 Litre engine is still a bit too much for many Australians to cope with.

By | August 14th, 2013|Ford Australia|0 Comments

The Holden Trax

The Holden TraxThe Holden Trax will be available in showrooms across the country from early September and it’s certainly going to add some interest to the small SUV market.

Not only is it coming into the market with a 5-star ANCAP safety rating but it’s also bringing a level of technology that Holden describes as “best-in-class” . Even the base model will have a suite of tech goodies that are usually reserved for models further up the range.

The Holden Trax will be offered in two trim levels starting with the LS that will carry a recommended retail price (not including dealer and government charges) of  $23,490 for the manual model and $25,690 for the Active-Select auto model. The recommended retail price for the Holden Trax LTZ will be $27,990.

When you look at the list of standard equipment in the Trax LS … which comes with a five-speed manual transmission as standard … and then compare it with the extras you get in the LTZ I think most people will happily settle for the LS six-speed auto option added in.

Even though the Holden Trax is built in South Korea an Australian engineering team from Holden has spent over two years working to produce a vehicle that is suited for Australian conditions. The suspension has been tuned and the engine calibrated for our conditions and the same setup will be used on the models that will go into the Russian, South African and New Zealand markets.

the instrument cluster in the Holden Trax

The body
The Holden Trax is 4278mm long and 1776mm wide. It’s 1674mmm high and it has a wheelbase of 2555mm. The kerb weight for the base model is 1356kg while the auto transmission adds another 15kg.

With all seats in the upright position there is just 356 litres of luggage capacity … remember, this is a small SUV … but with the rear 60/40 split-fold seats folded down the luggage capacity goes up to 785 litres and with the rear seats fully folded out of the way the luggage capacity increases to 1370 litres.

the luggage space in the Trax

Suspension and steering
The suspension in the Holden Trax features a McPherson strut arrangement at the front and a compound crank rear axle.

The mounting bushes on the rear axle have been tuned locally to reduce noise levels on dirt roads and the front struts and rear shocks have also received a lot of attention to ensure that the Trax can handle our rougher roads.

The Holden Trax is fitted with electric power steering that gives the vehicle a turning circle of 10.9 metres. The steering has also been tuned to handle our conditions. Particular attention was paid to the amount of feedback driver’s receive when travelling over dirt roads.

Urban drivers weren’t forgotten either and the steering at low speeds is quite light so it won’t be a chore to drive in tight urban environments.

Dashboard on the Holden Trax

The engine and transmission
The 1.8 litre double overhead cam, 16-valve, four cylinder petrol engine ECOTEC petrol engine is currently the only one available for the Trax. This engine produces 103kW of power and 175Nm of torque.  It’s not a new to Australia … It’s already been seen here in Australia in the latest Holden Cruze so local mechanics are familiar with it.

Despite having a cast iron cylinder block this engine is still considered to be lightweight thanks to a hollow frame. Other features of this engine include the double overhead camshaft with four valves per cylinder, dual continuously variable camshaft phasing, lightweight camshaft tappets with reduced friction, variable intake manifold, an electronically controlled cooling system, oil-water heat exchanger and piston-cooling oil jets.

Around 90 percent of peak torque will be produced in the 2,400 to 6.500rpm range and the fuel consumption figures are interesting. Usually the auto version produces better figures than the manual but not in this case. The manual version of the Holden Trax will produce 7.0L/100km on a combined cycle while the auto can only managed 7.6L/100km.

The fuel tank in the Trax will hold 53 litres.

Drive is through the front wheels and the transmission is via a five-speed manual box in the LS (auto is $2200 optional extra) and a six-speed auto box for the LTZ. There is no option for a manual box in the LTZ.

The interior and technology
seating in the Holden TraxThe front seats are contoured and obviously designed to offer support when cornering and the front seats in the Holden Trax LTZ are heated.

The passenger seat features a handy storage tray for things like your iPad or tablet. I’m sure that this is a feature that most buyers would be quick to use because there’s nothing worse than hunting for your iPad or tablet when you’ve slipped it under one of the front seats to keep it out of sight while you’re out of the car.

The dashboard features ice blue illumination and includes an instrument cluster that features a digital LED speedo and a very prominent analogue tacho.

The centre stack seems to dominate the front of the Holden Trax. It features a seven-inch touch-screen that’s linked to Holden’s MyLink infotainment system that gives drivers access to the widest range of apps available in an Australian vehicle.

Included in those apps is BringGo, a navigation system that has functions that include Google Places search … so now you can have Google right there in the car with you.

There’s also USB with iPod connectivity, Bluetooth etc. and of course air conditioning and ISOFIX child seat anchorage system are included as standard.

Of course the Holden Trax comes with all the safety options you expect to find in a vehicle that has a 5-star safety rating including Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist, Electronic Stability Control, ABS, EBD and traction control, six airbags, break-away brake pedal and three-point seatbelts

The Trax also comes with rear parking sensors and a rear view camera as standard … and the camera display appears on the screen in the centre stack where it is easy to see.

The Trax has been designed with a strong and stiff body that includes a multi-load path crash structure. The structure of the seat frames and the headrests have been designed provide added protection from whiplash injuries.

The rear of the Holden Trax

If the reality of driving a Holden Trax is as good as the hype says it is then Holden could be on a real winner here. A small SUV has certainly been missing from the Holden range and the Trax could be what a lot of people are looking for.

All images are of the LTZ and provided by Holden

By | August 14th, 2013|Featured, Holden|0 Comments

Goodbye Opel?

image76924_aThey came with some fanfare and some great vehicles … they built a network of 20 dedicated dealerships – they sold 541 vehicles in 2012 and a further 989 vehicles up to the end of June this year … and now Opel is folding up their tents and going home.

It seems that Opel can’t bring their cars into the country at a price point to make their business economically viable … in other words they’re just not competitive enough to stay here … so they’re off.

Well maybe not quite … there is a hint that some of the Opel range may be available with a Holden badge but we’ve seen Holden badged Opels come and go over the years so I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Blink and you’ll miss them.

By | August 2nd, 2013|Opel|0 Comments

New Suzuki Compact SUV

Suzuki-SUV-conceptIf you can think beyond 2 wheels when you think of Suzuki the next thing you will probably think of is compact SUVs.

Let’s face it, over the years Suzuki has produced quite a few SUVs that most people would describe as ‘compact’ but in September Suzuki is going to unveil a new compact SUV concept and if you read between the lines of the press release you might begin to think that Suzuki is thinking even smaller.

Of course Suzuki have released a couple of promo photos but they’re just a teaser. They don’t really show anything (other than it’s a 4-door) and there’s no real indication of the size.

However the iV-4, as the concept for the new Suzuki compact SUV is known as, is said to embody the ruggedness of an SUV while inheriting various design features from earlier Suzuki models and yet this “personal compact SUV … conveys a sense of modernity and innovativeness”.

We’ll know just how much of that is hype September when the new Suzuki compact SUV is unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show.


By | July 31st, 2013|Featured, Suzuki|Comments Off on New Suzuki Compact SUV

The New Mazda 3

The new Mazda 3Although it’s not set to arrive Australia until early 2014 we now have a preview of what we’re going to be getting in the new Mazda 3.

What we are going to be getting is not a mid-life rebuild but a whole new vehicle that Mazda says has been designed from the ground up.  One glance at the body and you can see that it’s definitely new and very striking and hiding under the skin is a full suite of Mazda’s SKYACTIV technologies.

The body
While the wheelbase of the new Mazda 3 is 60mm longer, 40mm wider than the model it replaces the overall length and width of the vehicle remains the same although it is15mm lower than the car it replaces. The wheels have been moved closer to the corners and highlighted with flares over the wheel arches.

The smiling grill … a signature of recent Mazda vehicles is retained but now the front number plate has become part of the grill.

The new Mazda 3 grille

The headlamps have been redesigned and there is now a distinct line that flows from the headlights, down under the grill.

The prominent nose and the low curves of the cabin are going to appeal to a lot of buyers and it’s interesting that Mazda have chosen red as the colour for these previews.

We all joke about red making a car go faster but the fact is that red is the colour for passion and this is a body shape that goes well with red. There’s no doubt that Mazda wants to continue on with the sporty theme that they start

The engines
Two petrol engines will be offered with the new Mazda 3. The SKYACTIV-G 2.0 litre produces 114kW of power and 200Nm of torque will be the standard offering. The SKYACTIV-G 2.5 litre engine that develops 138kW of power and 250Nm of torque will be available as an option.

The new Mazda 3 side view

The interior
A new dash comes with the new Mazda 3 and the top of the range version will feature and Active Driving Display that features the tacho as the focus of the instrument panel with the speedo set low to one side. Other models will have a more standard layout for their instrument cluster.

On selected models some of the information displayed in the instrument cluster will also be displayed on a clear panel vertically mounted about the meter hood. Unfortunately the new Mazda 3 press kit that was available to us did not contain any photos of the dash

We’ll also see a new car connectivity system in the new Mazda 3. This system will feature a 7-inch screen, improved controls and Bluetooth. Phone, SMS and email will all be available through this system.

The rear view of the new Mazda 3

The front seats have been redesigned to be less imposing for rear-seat passengers and the backs of the front seats have been shaped to allow more leg room for those in the rear seats. Those rear seats have had 50mm added to their height to improve comfort. And the rear seat passengers’ feet have not been forgotten. The mounts for the front seats have been spaced further apart to give rear seat passengers more room for their feet.

It looks as though the new Mazda 3 might be quite a car and it will be interesting in today’s economic climate to see what price tags they carry when they hit the showrooms next year.

By | July 4th, 2013|Mazda|0 Comments

Peugeot Blitzes Pikes Peak

Peugeot wins at Pikes PeakEarly this month we reported here that Mitsubishi was heading for the hill climb at Pikes Peak in the US with their new electric car and a strong desire to take the top spot and perhaps set a new course record.

Unfortunately for Mitsubishi Peugeot rained on their parade when Sebastian Loeb took their 208 T16 up Pikes Peak in an incredible 8 minutes and 13 seconds. The previous record of 9 minutes and 46 seconds had only been set the year before.

The Pikes Peak course is 20km long … it includes 159 corners … and Loeb’s average speed in his 875 horsepower Peugeot 208 T16 was 145km/h.

Watch the video and take a ride with Sebastian Loeb as Peugeot blitzes Pikes Peak … but don’t be fooled by how easy the course looks at the start. About 5 minutes in you’ll begin to notice that you can’t see anything but sky on one side of the road … and there aren’t many barriers … and his average speed is 145km/h.

By | July 3rd, 2013|Peugeot|Comments Off on Peugeot Blitzes Pikes Peak

Flywheel Technology for Cars

Volvo flywheel technology for carsFlywheels have been around in toy cars ever since I was an ankle-biter but flywheel technology for cars … as a form of propulsion … has not been something that most car makers have done more than think about.

However flywheel technology for cars has been something that has been exercising the minds of various Volvo engineers for quite some time. As far back as the 1980s Volvo was experimenting with flywheel propulsion in a 260 and steel was the material of choice back then and weight was the major problem.

Of course since then new and lighter materials have become available and right now Volvo is experimenting with flywheels made from carbon fibre and weighs in at just 6kg and we’re not talking about something that takes up a whole lot of room either … Volvo’s flywheel technology for cars uses a flywheel that is just 20 centimetres in diameter.

It might be lightweight and it might be small but the fuel savings that this technology is delivering is impressive. When combined with a 4-cylinder turbo engine Volvo’s flywheel technology reduces fuel consumption by up to 25% when compared to a similar vehicle powered by a 6-cylinder engine and delivers an extra 80 horsepower.


How it works
Volvo’s flywheel technology for cars allows the normal engine to power the front wheels while the flywheel powers the rear wheels through a specially designed transmission.

The flywheel operates within a vacuum to ensure minimum friction and during braking the engine is turned off and the flywheel can spin at up to 60,000 revolutions per minute. Energy from the flywheel is stored.

When the vehicle begins to move again the flywheel’s stored energy is transferred to the rear axle and is sufficient to power the car for short periods and when that energy is depleted the engine cuts in and takes over powering the car.

This type of technology is best suited for the stop start driving that you normally encounter in urban areas and Volvo believes that it’s possible to have the engine turned off for around half the driving time.

While the economics of flywheel technology for cars is going to appeal to lots of drivers it’s also going to appeal those who like to make a fast getaway from the lights. Flywheel technology delivers fast acceleration … so fast that the time it takes to accelerate from a standing start to 100km/h is cut by seconds.

Volvo is yet to announce when their flywheel technology for cars will begin to appear in their petrol and diesel models some of the technology has already found its way into Volvo’s second series C30 electric car.

flywheel technology for cars

By | July 1st, 2013|Featured, Technology|0 Comments

The Car That Parks Itself

Autonomous driving - the car that parks iteselfVolvo call it autonomous parking … it’s a package that they now have in a concept car … but in every day terms what Volvo have developed is the car that parks itself.

Not only will the car park itself but the driver doesn’t even have to be in the car … watching the car … or even thinking about the car for that matter … while it is parking itself. The driver doesn’t even have to find a parking spot because the car will do it for him or her.

And it doesn’t matter that the driver doesn’t know exactly where the car is located because when the driver wants to leave and drive somewhere else the car will come to the driver. At all times when the car that parks itself is in autonomous mode … i.e. without the driver in control or even in the car … the car is interacting with itse surrounds via sensors that detect stationary and moving objects around it.

Speed and braking are all governed by that is safe in the environment around the car.

While this all sounds like the sort of automotive technology that is years away it’s coming in 2014. Volvo currently plants to incorporate a small part of this technology … autonomous steering … in the 2014 XC90 model.

By | June 30th, 2013|Featured, Technology|0 Comments

Mitsubishi MiEV Goes to Pikes Peak

mitsubishi-MiEV-IIWhen we think of Mitsubishi and electric vehicles it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking about their little urban runabout … the i-MiEV … but there’s a lot more to Mitsubishi electric cars than that and this year we’re about to see something a whole lot bigger take on Pikes Peak.

Pikes Peak is the internationally famous hill climb track in Colorado and this year Mitsubishi wants to do better than the second place in the Electric Division that they achieved last year. This year they’re aiming for overall first place.

To achieve that outcome Mitsubishi are taking their MiEV Evolution II to the Peak and it’s going with specially designed high-output motors powered by high-capacity battery.

All that power will be controlled by S-AWC (Mitsubishi’s acronym for super all-wheel control) integrated vehicle dynamics control system that will control a front and rear drive train with a motor for each wheel which obviously makes this a 4WD.

Along with the S-AWC the Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution II comes with active yaw control to give the vehicle added cornering capability … active stability control that automatically controls brake force to each wheel.

There’s no doubt that it’s a serious piece of machinery that can really accelerate … but when you watch the video of the final tests before Mitsubishi shipped their MiEV Evolution II off to America there’s one thing missing.

There’s just no engine noise … there’s no roaring exhaust … nothing terribly exciting at all … but it sure does go.

By | June 24th, 2013|Electric Vehicles, Featured|Comments Off on Mitsubishi MiEV Goes to Pikes Peak

Holden Malibu 2013

Holden MalibuHolden first announced that the Chevy Malibu was first coming to Australia back in 2011 and finally it’s just about here. In fact it’s so close to arriving in the showrooms that Holden have announced pricing and equipment levels.

The Holden Malibu as it will appear in Australia is a Korean-built  four-door, front-wheel drive sedan powered by a 2.4 litre petrol or 2.0 litre diesel engine.

It will be available in two equipment levels … the entry level will be the Malibu CD and the top of the range will be the Malibu CDX.

Pricing will start at $28,490 for the entry level petrol Malibu CD and at the other end of the scale pricing for the Malibu CDX diesel will start at $35,990.

All prices are manufacturer’s recommended price and on-road costs and government charges are extra.

The body

The Holden Malibu is 4865mm long, 1855mm wide (excluding the mirrors) and it stands 1465mm high. The wheelbase is 2737mm with a front track of 1583mm and a rear track of 1585mm. Luggage capacity is 545 litres and fuel capacity is 73 litres.

Kerb weights for the CD are 1583kg for the petrol version and 1659kg for the diesel while the CDX weights in at 1610kg for the petrol and 1684kg for the diesel.

Holden Malibu side view

The engine

The Korean-built petrol engine is a 2.4 litre DOHC 16-valve, 4-cylinder unit that develops 123kW of power at 5800 rpm and 225 Nm of torque at 4600 rpm. It features an aluminium engine block and cylinder head.

Cam phasers for both intake and exhaust valves are also fitted as are digital sensors to provide greater precision in the data supplied to the onboard processor. Deep inside the engine there are oil-cooling jets to ensure optimal piston cooling and they will also give added long-term durability.

Holden Malibu petrol engine

Fuel consumption figures for the petrol engine on a combined cycle are 8.0L/100km and CO2 emissions are 192g/km

The German built diesel engine is a 2.0 litre common rail turbo. It features an electronically controlled turbocharger complete with intercooler that lowers fuel consumption and emissions and a diesel particulate filter system that Holden says will be maintenance-free for the life of the vehicle.

Holden Malibu diesel engine

Fuel consumption figures for the diesel engine on a combined cycle are 6.4L/100km for the CD and 6.5L/100km for the CDX. CO2 emissions for the CD are 170g/km and 172g/km for the CDX.


Both the CD and CDX diesel and petrol versions are fitted with a 6-speed Gen 2 automatic transmission with Active Select. There is no manual version available.

Steering and Suspension

Although this version of the Malibu is built in Korea it will come with a specially tuned suspension for Australian conditions that includes a McPherson Strut with lower ‘L’ arm as well as aluminium alloy front knuckles and lower control arm.

The diesel version of the Holden Malibu comes with hydraulic power steering while the petrol version has electric power steering.


The Holden Malibu comes with all the usual safety features, ESC, ABS, EBD, traction control, brake assist, 6 airbags, energy absorbing steering column, three-point seat belts in all seating positions, and a brake pedal that breaks away in an accident.

All models are fitted with a reversing camera and rear parking sensors as standard.

The brakes on the petrol version of the Holden Malibu 16″ ventilated discs on the front and solid discs on the rear while the diesel version comes with 17″ ventilated discs front and rear.

Both Malibu models feature sensor key technology and push-button start as well as auto headlights. Rain sensing wipers are standard on the CDX models.

Holden Malibu dashboard


The Holden Malibu comes with power height adjustable seats for the driver and front passenger as standard. The front seats are heated … standard on the CDX … and offer a choice of three heating levels.

Holden’s MyLink Infotainment system is standard across the range and features a 7″ full-colour touch-screen, the usual radio/DC capability, audio streaming via Bluetooth, phone integration and phone book support as well as Pandora and Stitcher apps.

Holden MyLink Infotainment system

One interesting feature of the Holden Malibu is the multiple hidden storage compartments in the passenger compartment … including one behind the touch-screen. These are easily accessible for people inside the car but effectively hide items from prying eyes outside the car.

It will be interesting to watch the sales of the Holden Malibu. Will the demand be there right from the start and continue on … or will we see a repeat of the initial high demand and then drop-off that we saw in the Holden Cruze?

Holden Malibu rear view

By | June 12th, 2013|Holden|0 Comments

Toyota Camatte57s Concept

Toyota Camatte57s concept carWell here’s a concept car with a difference. While many concept cars tend to end up looking like kiddie’s cars the Toyota Camatte57s Concept was designed to be exactly that.

This concept was built with the idea of providing an opportunity for parents and children to experience the fun of driving and car customisation together.

The body is made up of 57 lightweight panels that are all detachable to allow for quick colour and design customisation and a roadster design was chosen to give better all-round visibility and to let kids of all ages to enjoy the feeling the wind in their hair.

Seating is in the form of a triangle and Toyota have used that arrangement to allow children to be supervised more closely as they drive the vehicle.

Yes, Toyota has designed this concept to be operated by children as well as adults and both the accelerator and the brake pedal can be adjusted so that children can reach them. Any adult sitting in the rear-right seat will also have access to the brake and to the steering wheel.


Power for the Toyota Camatte57s Concept is supplied by an electric motor.


Don’t expect to see this car on Australian roads any time soon but do expect to see more examples of cars that their owners can customise. Toyota already has the Rukus in the showrooms and that’s been designed for customisation.


By | June 11th, 2013|Toyota|0 Comments

2013 Toyota RAV4

new 2013 toyota rav4There’s a new Toyota RAV4 on its way to Australia in the first quarter of 2013 and it’s bringing three new engines with it.

Actually it’s about time Toyota did something about the engine in the RAV4 … the current petrol engine has always seemed to be a little heavy on fuel for a vehicle of the RAV4′ size and the lack of a diesel has been a little hard to understand.

New Engines
However all that is about to change with a new range of engines that includes a 2.2-litre 4 cylinder turbo-charged common-rail diesel, a 2.5-litre 133kW 4 cylinder petrol engine similar to the engine currently fitted to the Camry Altise and a 2.0-litre 102kW petrol engine similar to the engine fitted to the Corolla Ultima sedan.

Toyota haven’t yet said what the fuel consumption figures will be for the petrol versions but they say that fuel consumption figures for the diesel version will  dip ” below 6.0 litres/100km”.

The standard transmission for all three engines will be a 6 speed manual box.

A 6 speed auto is available for the diesel and the 2.5-litre petrol version and the 2.0-litre petrol version is available with Toyota’s MultiDrive Sport CVT 7 speed sequential manual box.

the new toyota rav4

Body changes
A look at the accompanying photos will show any body changes that Toyota has planned but one that may not be so apparent, even though it’s glaringly obvious once it’s pointed out is the change to the rear of the Toyota RAV4. The spare wheel has disappeared … it has been moved to under the cargo floor and a one-piece tailgate that hinges at the roof has been added.

The new Toyota RAV4 will come with seven airbags, an improved driving position, better all-round vision and an advanced all-wheel drive system.

the rear of the new 2013 toyota rav4

Premium features
Top of the range variants of the new Toyota RAV4 will get a power-operated tailgate, blind-spot monitor, rain-sensing wipers and an electro-chromatic rear vision mirror.

It’s hard to believe that the Toyota RAV4 has been around since 1994 but it has and almost 200,000 of them have been sold in Australia since then. If looks are anything to go by the new RAV4 will certainly be just as popular as all the models that have gone before it.


By | December 3rd, 2012|Toyota|Comments Off on 2013 Toyota RAV4

2012 Series II Holden Captiva 7 LX Review

2012 Holden Captiva 7 LXThis is the second Holden Captiva we have had for review and I have to say that I approached it with some trepidation. The original Holden Captiva we tested was one of the first Captiva models to hit the market and to put it bluntly … we were not impressed.

It may have been the particular vehicle we had for the test but that first Captiva left us with some negative feelings about the vehicle that were definitely hard to shake off.

However the 2012 6-cylinder Series II Captiva 7 undid all those negative memories. That’s not to say that the Series II Captiva 7 is perfect … only one of the three drivers associated with Aussie Motoring that drove it was impressed … but in our estimation it is definitely a huge leap forward when compared to the first Captiva.

The vehicle we had for this test was the top of the range 6-cylinder Series II Holden Captiva 7 LX and the only option on the vehicle that we could identify was a factory-fitted towbar.

If you’re coming from a small car … one of our drivers regularly drives a Corolla … then the size of the Captiva 7 may catch you by surprise. It’s easy to think of this vehicle as being fairly compact … from the outside it does look that way … but once you’re in the driver’s seat you begin to realize that it’s a little bigger than you thought.

What we liked about the Captiva
All drivers were impressed by the visibility. You get such a good view from the driver’s seat that you tend to forget that the vehicle does have a nose that projects some way beyond the windscreen.

The sideview mirrors are big and they really do give you a good view of what’s on the left and right of the vehicle. The main rearview mirror also gives you a good view of what’s behind you and on the test vehicle it was fitted with auto-dimming so idiots with high-beam and/or fog lights aren’t as much of a nuisance as they might otherwise be.

The rear of the Series II Holden Captiva LX

The Series II Holden Captiva LX is also fitted with a reversing camera and it really does give you a great view of what’s behind you when you’re reversing. The image is displayed in the large screen at the top of the centre stack and that really does get a big tick of approval from me. I see no point in displaying a reversing camera image in the rearview mirror where light and reflection tend to make it hard to see.

The front seats that caused us so much discomfort in the first Captiva we tested were comfortable and provided plenty of adjustment. Tall drivers will have no problems … but you wouldn’t want to be a passenger in the second row of seats if the driver and passenger are tall. There’s not much legroom if the front seats are as far back as they can go.

Climbing into the third row of seats in the Series II Holden Captiva 7

The layout of the dashboard was also quite good and you’re not overwhelmed with irrelevant information. You get all the information you need and if you want more it’s not hard to find it but it’s just not there in your face.

With the third row of seats folded flat there’s 465 litres of luggage space and 930 litres with both rows of seats folded down.  There are also several places where you can tie down or secure anything you might be carrying in the back so some people might find that the Series II Captiva 7 could double as a delivery vehicle.

Pulling the third row of seats up after they have been folded flat was a breeze … it’s a pity the same thing couldn’t be said about the second row of seats.

Things we didn’t like about the Captiva
When are Australians going to lose their fascination with leather seats? All three drivers had the same opinion after driving the Captiva on relatively mild days up here in Queensland.

If you’ve got hemorrhoids there’s a quick way to get rid of them if you happen to own any vehicle that has leather seats. Go park it in the sun for a couple of hours and then sit on the leather seat and you’ll burn the hemorrhoids off … it might be bloody painful but it’s faster than the other option.

Fuel consumption figures for the Series II Holden Captiva 7

Scary urban fuel consumption figures

Fuel consumption was a major cause of unhappiness among the drivers. The 6-cylinder Series II Holden Captiva 7 has a 3.0-litre SIDI direct injection V6 engine coupled to a 6-speed auto transmission that on our vehicle had a truly frightening thirst. The transmission comes with a choice of standard or Eco mode and even though we spent most of our time driving it in Eco mode the fuel consumption figures were not good.

Fuel consumption figures for the Captiva 7 LX

The last highway fuel consumption figures we recorded. The figures from the first lot of highway driving were in the 11s

Holden says that you can expect to get 10.1L/100km on a combined cycle. Our best figures were in the mid to high 13s around town and the mid 10s on the highway no matter how conservatively we drove.

And to top that off we found the Captiva to be sluggish regardless of which mode we were operating in.  We did think that with a 6-cylinder engine the vehicle would have been fairly lively but that wasn’t the case in the text vehicle.

Gear changes in the auto box were good but the vehicle we tested seemed to have a noisy dislike for driving at a steady consistent speed when it was in Eco mode. There was plenty of whirring and whining coming from the transmission … although you probably wouldn’t hear it if you had the sound system running.


Holden Captiva 7 steering wheel

Two of the cruise control buttons are tucked away out of sight behind the buttons you can see on the right hand side

No one seemed to like the access to the third row of seats either. Of course that access is going require someone to fold part of the second row forward while people are climbing into the back but the second row of seats don’t slide forward so access is cramped and folding the second row back into position was not easy because the seats are heavy.

And then there are the proximity sensors … well not so much the sensors as the noise they make. The warning buzzer is on by default so every time you turn the ignition on in a crowded garage or parking area the buzzer will sound. Of course you can turn it off but as soon as you select reverse the buzzer is activated again.

One driver didn’t see that as much of a problem … perhaps her garage is neat and tidy … but that buzzer drove the other driver and me crazy.

Like all modern vehicles the Series II Holden Captiva has a number of controls on the steering wheel and most of them are quite visible and easy to use. However there are four controls … two on each side … that are actually mounted out of sight on the side/rear of the steering wheel and two of them are part of the cruise control.

Those controls were so out of sight that none of us ever engaged cruise control despite the fact that a lot of the distance we covered in the Captiva was highway driving.

The Series II Holden Captiva 7 comes with big screen satellite navigation system that’s easy to see and understand but sadly it’s years out of date for anything north of Brisbane. Speed limits were wrong … too high in some places and too low in others … and you wouldn’t want to rely on this system if you’re looking for a service station and thinking you might be able to get a little further before you had to stop for fuel.

The bottom line
One of our three drivers … a young professional thinking of starting a family … and looking for a new vehicle put this on her short list. The other two thought that for a vehicle worth in excess of $40k it was a little lacking.


plenty of luggage space in the Captiva 7 LX

A standard removalists packing carton can stand upright in the back of the Captiva 7 with only the third row of seats folded flat

Look around at other vehicles in the same category and you may find something better for less although you may not find anything better if you really do need that extra row of seats.

By | October 26th, 2012|Holden, Road Tests|Comments Off on 2012 Series II Holden Captiva 7 LX Review

Mahindra Pik Up Crash Test

Yesterday’s announcement by the Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia that they would only insure and finance vehicles that have been rated by ANCAP with 4 or 5 stars (reported here) could have some interesting ramifications for automotive sales in Australia.

If other insurance and finance companies follow suit then you can say goodbye to a number of brands that are trying to establish a foothold here. At least one Chinese brand has a range of vehicles on the market that rate no better than 3 stars and Indian manufacturer Mahindra has one that rates 4 stars while the Manindra Pik Up can only muster 3.

But don’t for a moment think that this is a problem faced by some of the fringe brands … the previous Isuzu D-Max ute could only muster 3 stars.

Big 4WD utes like the Mahnindra Pik Up may look sturdy but when it comes to keeping passengers safe some of them don’t do as good a job as you might think. Just look at what intrudes into the driver’s side of the cab in this Mahindra Pik Up crash test.

By | October 24th, 2012|Mahindra, Movies|Comments Off on Mahindra Pik Up Crash Test

ANCAP Ratings and Car Insurance

There has been a very interesting development regarding car insurance that was announced today.

The Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia (RAC WA) have announced that from now on it will only insure or finance cars that have been rated by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) and awarded an ANCAP safety rating of either 4 or 5 stars.

The announcement applies to cars manufactured in 2012 and beyond and aims to encourage car buyers to check the ANCAP safety ratings before purchasing a new car because the RAC WA believes that when policy holders are driving safer vehicles there will be a significant effect on the road toll.

Whether or not this decision will be adopted by other insurers is yet to be seen but if it is we could see some Asian manufacturers disappear from the Australian market.

By | October 23rd, 2012|General News|Comments Off on ANCAP Ratings and Car Insurance

How Quiet are Electric Vehicles?

We’re all told that electric vehicles are quiet but until you’ve driven in an electric vehicle it’s hard to comprehend just how quiet they really are.

Here’s a video taken in a Ford Focus EV that will give you some idea of the very low noise levels in electric vehicles. Listen as this one accelerates from a standing start to 110km/h

By | October 23rd, 2012|Electric Vehicles, Movies|Comments Off on How Quiet are Electric Vehicles?