2018 Holden Equinox LTZ-V: Car Review

As Holden transitions from a builder to an importer, an important part of the plan to do so successfully is to increase and improve its model range. The new Commodore is being rolled out, the new Astra sedan and hatch is in showrooms and the long serving Captiva is slowly being wound back as the new nameplate for the mid sized SUV takes over. Here is the 2018 Holden Equinox LTZ-V.The five model range starts with the LS. With the  manual it kicks off the range at $27990 RRP (plus ORC). It’s $2000 for the auto. The LS+ is a $3000 premium over the LS and the first of the LT range at $36990. The LTZ/LTZ-V are $39990 and $46290 respectively. The AWD option on the LTZ is an extra $4300 however it’s standard on the LTZ-V and selected via a button in the front centre console.It’s a choice of two engines available. Both have a turbo and are a 1.5L or 2.0L capacity. A diesel is due later in 2018. The 1.5L will be found in the LS and LS+ with the 2.0L servicing the LT range. The LTs come with a nine speed auto as standard with the LS getting a six speed manual and auto.The auto has no paddle shifters nor side movement for manual changing. The selector in the LTZ-V has a + and – rocker switch on the top of the rather long throw selector. Holden say the Equinox should see the ton in around seven seconds. It’s slick and smooth under most driving situations however was caught out sometimes from start, with hesitant, jerking, unsure decisions initially.

The 2.0L produces 188kW and 353 torques  with that peak torque on tap between 2500 – 4500 rpm. The 1.5L isn’t far off with 127kW and 275Nm. The preferred tipple of the 2.0L is 95RON. Combined fuel consumption is quoted as 8.4L/100km from the 59L tank in the LTZ-V. It’s 55L in the others. Economy finished at 9.0L/100 km in the near 1700 kilo plus cargo machine..The LTZ-V gets plenty of high level tech and comes well loaded with standard equipment. However there’s really not that much to differentiate between it and the other LT models. A full length glass roof is one obvious difference. Driver friendly Advanced Park Assist in the LTZ and V is another. Auto levelling LED headlamps, LED tail lights, remote engine start (all LT models) and chrome roofrails complete that. The roof itself is moved via two tabs and they don’t have the same edge feel to know when you’ve got hold of them.The interior of the LTZ-V is a nice place with Heating AND venting for both leather front seats. They look a little slabby but aren’t noticeable in lacking support. Surprisingly, gratefully, they’re there for the rear leather clad seats too with rear seat passengers getting a pair of USB ports, a 12V socket, rear air vents and a 230V socket. It’s of a different configuration than the Aussie 240V sockets so a converter for anything like a portable fridge will be needed.Full colour LCD screens greet the driver and passengers in the LTZ-V and light up in vivid blue. It’s a dash mounted eight inch touchscreen with Holden’s MyLink system on board for apps and entertainment, including a Bose speaker system to complement the DAB audio and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. The layout is clean and usage is largely intuitive. The sound itself is as expected from Bose and the sensitivity of the DAB tuner is better than that found in Kia’s Stinger. The upper dash is also Euro influenced, with the sweeping arc that runs from door to door and stitched soft material look and feel. There’s even a notch in the front console for wireless smartphone charging for compatible handsets.

The smaller screen for the driver has info made available via the rubberised arrows on the right hand spoke of the heated steering well. It’s not as easy to navigate as the same found in say a Mitsubishi or Kia but does the job well enough.All four windows are auto down, however just the driver gets auto up, which in a top of the range vehicle is an odd decision. The tail gate is power operated and can be opened and closed from afar via the remote plus there’s a tailgate height dial in the driver’s door near the bottle holder. Foot operating openin is available however is intended for use when your hands are full. There’s 848L or cargo space, a hidden storage locker between the main floor and space saving spare, and increases to 1796L with the rear seats folded.

Safety levels are high across the range with Autonomous Braking from the LS+ upwards, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning. Following Distance Indicator and Forward Collision Alert with Head Up Alert (flashing red lights) and a vibrating seat cushion that gets input from the parking sensors is there as well. There’s no driver’s kneebag however. It’s this level of tech and features that has a slightly confused feel for AWT about the range structure.Outside it’s a mix of corporate GM and hints at the Astra sedan as being the base sheetmetal, especially at the rear. The noticeable Vee shaped nose and grille structure leads to a bonnet with deep scallops either side, a crease line from the top of the front wheel arch which joins the door handles front and rear to the tail lights. There’s a difference at the rear windowline, much like Ford’s Territory, in that the thicker part of the rear window is the C pillar, where the rear door meets the end of the car, rather than above the tail lights.

It’s a good sized vehicle too at 4640 mm in length and 2725 mm in wheelbase. That allows for a very good 1040 mm and 1008 mm leg room front and rear. Shoulder room front and rear is also good with 1452 mm and 1410 mm. The tailgate opens up from a handy 740 mm above ground level.Ride and handling from the McPherson strut front and four link independent rear is on the slightly taut side. It was never harsh but noticeable in that smaller bumps transmitted more into the cabin. The steering has a weighty feel, with minimal understeer at speed, but somehow the steering translates into a wider than expected turning circle which makes parking and three point turns not as easy as expected. It’ll shift lanes well enough though and do so with minimal fuss.

Being a predominantly front wheel drive car there were also occasional chirps from the front tyres when launched. Corners at speed were despatched with indifference, straight line stability is spot on, and that taut suspension pays for itself when dealing with the varying surfaces of the roads travelled, with dips, wallows, undulations, almost unfelt.The rolling stock is a decent size, with 19 inch alloys wrapped in 235/50 Ventus Prime rubber from Hankook. Although city oriented they did a credible job getting through and over enough rock, sand, gravel, and mud to show some off road cred. With AWD selected, the gear selector moved into L, and Hill Descent mode engaged, the LTZ-V, although not a dedicated off roader, managed some parts of AWT’s test track with only a few moments of will it/won’t it.Warranty is starting to lag, with just three years or 100,000 kilometres on offer. There is however a choice of extended warranty, for 12/24/36 months. There’s also free roadside assist for the first year with another two for free if you get your car serviced by Holden.

At The End Of The Drive.
Holden is still in a period of shaking down what it will deliver to Australian car buyers. With the LT and LS+ to be reviewed separately, the Holden Equinox LTZ-V has made a solid enough impression. It’s the similarity of features in the LT level that may not though have many people opting for the V spec with the glass roof and AWD systems as standard. With over $7000 difference between the two these two features on their own may be seen as unnecessary enough for many to not spend that extra.

There’s no doubt though that the 2.0L engine, the transmission, and the general fit and finish is high enough to wipe away any lingering doubts. Certainly, compared to a Japanese brand that will be also reviewed separately, it’s far ahead of what that car has and in LT form will more than likely have both the features and price point that will meed customer expectations.
Here’s where to find more: 2018 Holden Equinox

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2018 Kia Stinger Si V6 and GT-Line Turbo Four: Car Review

There’s been few cars released into the automotive market that have divided opinions as much as the new 2018  Kia Stinger. Available in three trim levels and with a choice of two engines mated to the single transmission offered, an eight speed auto, the Stinger spent a fortnight with A Wheel Thing, in V6 twin turbo Si and top of the range GT-Line turbo four.The Si sits in the middle of the V6 range and is priced at $55990 plus on roads and options. The GT-Line with the turbo four is the same price and came clad in a gorgeous $695 option Snow White Pearl paint. There’s the standard seven year warranty and capped price servicing over the seven years, with the V6 being a total of $221 over the turbo 4.The V6 is the driver’s pick and backing up the four straight after sees it suffer in comparison. The 3.3L capacity V6 has a peak power figure of 272 kW at 6000 rpm and a monstrous 510 Nm of torque from 1300 to 4500. The four in comparison is 182 kW at 6200 rpm, and maxes out a torque figure of 353 Nm between 1400 to 4000 rpm. Although the V6 has a tare weight of 1780 kilos versus the four’s 1693 kg, it gets away cleaner and quicker, overtakes quicker, and will comfortably beat the four to the ton. Surprisingly, the required fuel is standard ULP and comes from a 60L tank.

Consumption is quoted for the V6 as 10.2L/14.9L/7.5L per hundred for the combined/urban/highway. The four isn’t much better, at 8.8L/12.7L/6.5L. AWT’s final figure for the six was 11.6L/100 km and for the four a slightly more reasonable 9.3L. These figures are slightly disturbing, in all honesty, as they’re more or less line-ball with the V8 engine seen in Holden’s VF Commodore and over the slightly bigger naturally aspirated 3.6L V6.There is a trade-off for that consumption and in the case of the V6 it’s the extraordinary driveability it offers. Off the line, and bear in mind it does offer Launch Control, it’ll see the 100 kmh mark in a quoted 4.9 seconds. There’s absolutely no doubt in that claim apart from a possibility it’s conservative. On a 48 hour trip to Dubbo in the central west of New South Wales, those 510 torques were so very useable in overtaking, with times to get up and pass and doing so safely compressed thanks to that torque.By having such an amount available through so many revs makes general, every day, driving unbelievably easy, with such a docile nature it’ll happily potter around the suburbs as easily as it will stretch its legs out in the country. The throttle setup is responsive to a thought, and there’s a real sense of urgency in how it all happens. There’s a bi-modal exhaust and this cracks a valve in the rear pipes allowing a genuine crackle and snarl from over 2500. Otherwise it’s a vacuum cleaner like woofle that can become wearying very quickly.The four, as mentioned, suffers in comparison, lacking the outright flexibility the bigger engine has. Note: “in comparison”. On its own the 2.0L turbo four, as found in the Optima GT and the sibling Sonata from Hyundai, is a belter. Paired against the big brother 330 it is slightly slower, slightly less able, slightly less quick to get going from a good prod of the go pedal as it waits for the turbo to spool up. Overseas markets do get a diesel and this is potentially the engine that Kia should replace the petrol four with. As long, as long, as it offers comparable performance to the V6.

The eight speed auto in both cars is a simple joy to use. All of the words that mean slick and smooth can be used here. Changes are largely unfelt, rarely does the backside feel anything other than forward motion as the ratios change. And naturally there’s different drive modes. Comfort is the default with Eco, Sports, Custom (GT-Line) and Smart the others and accessed via a dial in the console. However, somewhat confusingly, you can access a menu via the seven or eight inch (trim level dependent) touchscreen and set the steering to Sports, engine/transmission to Sport, and suspension to Sport yet have the driver’s display show Comfort from the dial setting.In Sport, the transmission doesn’t change any more cleanly but will hold revs longer and feels as if the shift points themselves change. There’s no manual shift mode as such; what this means is that the gear selector doesn’t have a side push or buttons to do a manual change. There are paddle shifts and once used doesn’t stay in manual mode but reverts quickly back to auto. What this means for the driver is simple piece of mind and not having to worry which mode the transmission is still in.Roadholding and handling from both was nigh on nearly impeccable. BUT, and it’s an odd one, the V6’s mechanical limited slip differential rear had more of a propensity for skipping sideways even on flat and relatively settled surfaces. A slight bump, a ripple, and the rear would move just enough to alert you of it. The Stinger has a big footprint though, with a 2905mm wheelbase inside the 4830mm overall length.Track front and rear also helps at over 1650mm minimum, as do the offset tyres of 225/40 & 255/35 on 19s for the Si and GT-Line six and GT-Line four. The others have 225/45/18s. And it’s McPherson struts front matching the Aussie tuned multilink rear that provide the superb roadholding the Stinger exhibits. The steering is precise, well weighted, en pointe, and tells you exactly how the road is feeling.There’s Launch Control on board as well and it’s a fairly simple matter to engage. Traction control gets turned off, the car must be in Sports mode, AND the computer must be happy with the engine temperature. It’ll also limit the amounts of attempts. Brakes in the V6 come courtesy of Brembo, however seats of the pants says the brakes in the four cylinder equipped Stinger are just as able.Design wise the Stinger foreshadows and continues a coupe like look for a five door sedan or four door hatchback. It’s a long, flat, E-Type-ish bonnet that has two faux vents. Apart from aesthetic reasons they’re pointless. Why? Because there’s vents in the front bumber into the wheelwell and from the rear of the wheelwell that exits from vents in the front doors. The roofline tapers back in a gentle curve before terminating in a rear that’s a cross between an Audi A5 and Maserati. The rear lights themselves are Maserati and LED lit front and rear in the GT-Line. Inside there’s plenty of legroom in the rear, a slightly compromised cargo space at 406L due to the hatchback style, a power gate for the GT-Line, and a stylishly trimmed interior. Plastics, for the most part, look high quality, and the overall presence echoes something from Europe, perhaps Jaguar, in this case. The central upper dash mounted seven inch touchscreen that looks as if it rises and falls, ala Audi, for example. It’s mostly intuitive, clean to read and use, but sensitivity needs to be upped as sometimes two or three taps were required to activate a menu. There’s DAB radio and here there’s a minor hiccup.With other brands tested with a DAB tuner, in comparison the one used in the Stinger also lacked the sensitivity found in others, with dropouts in more areas in comparison. There’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus voice recognition, with the middle and top range Stingers having nine or fifteen speakers with under front seat subwoofers. Harman Kardon is the feature brand in the GT-Line. As an overall presentation is pretty damned good, yet there’s still a sense of, in the top of the range GT-Line especially, that it lacks a knockout punch, and doesn’t seem to visually say this is a premium vehicle.The menu system on the touchscreen includes safety options such as voice warning for school zones, merging lanes and such like. Although an eminently worthwhile feature it became tiresome very quickly. Thankfully the voice presentation can be deactivated. Extra safety comes in the form of a forward camera and 360 degree camera depending on the model. The 360 degree version superimposes a Stinger top down view into the picture on one side of the screen and shows whichever camera view selected in the other. It’s super clear and immensely handy for parking. Another Euro feature is the rocker and Park button design for the gear selector. Foot on brake, press a tab on the selector, rock forward for Reverse or back for Drive. Inexplicably, the GT-Line had more issues correctly selecting Reverse or Drive.Only the driver’s seat is electrically powered however both front seats are vented but only in the GT-Line (for the Australian market, this is a must) and heated. A slight redesign has these operated via simple console mounted rocker switch that lights blue for venting, red for heating. Across the range they’re supportive, comfortable, and do the job well enough, along with the ride quality, that you can do a good country drive and feel reasonably good at the break. The GT-Line also features two position memory seating and a pad for smartphone wireless charging for compatible smartphones. It’s a leather clad tiller and the GT-Line gets a flat bottomed one but the material felt cheap, as did the buttons under the three central airvents in comparison to the good looking interior design.Even the base model is well equipped for safety; there’s seven airbags for all models, front seatbelt pretensioning, pedestrian friendly AHLS or Active Hood Lift System before moving to Lane Keeping Assist and Advanced Smart Cruise Control (with forward collision alert and autonomous braking) in the V6 Si. The GT-Line gets Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, High Beam Assist, and Dynamic Bending Headlights.Naturally there’s Kia’s class leading seven year warranty and the fixed priced servicing. The turbo four is cheaper from start to finish, with a gap of just three dollars for the first, two for the second, before the third service opens it to fifty. The final service sits at $785 for the V6 and $696 for the four.

At The End Of The Drive.
The easiest way to consider this is that, as a first attempt, Kia have just about nailed it. Just about. It’s a big car, seats four beautifully, rides as good as one should expect, goes like a scared rabbit in the V6 and a not quite so scared rabbit in the turbo four, is well equipped, and is utterly competitive for the features on price. Its biggest sticking point is one that’s completely inescapable and has already caused derision and division. It’s this: KIA.

Far too many people have locked themselves into the thought process that says Korea can’t built a competitor for the outgoing Commodore or the fading from memory Falcon. Ironically, as many have pointed out, detractors will have typed their sneering comments on a Korean built phone or have a Korean built TV. It’s also not unexpected that those slinging arrows from afar won’t avail themselves of the opportunity to test drive. More fool them.

However, for a first attempt, like any first attempt, there’s room for improvement. A lift in presence to say more how the car should be perceived is one, and fuel efficiency needing a VAST improvement is another. The last one is something both Kia’s marketing gurus and Australia’s luddites need to work on. That’s that a Kia CAN be this damned good. The 2018 Kia Stinger is that damned good car.

Car Review: 2018 Kia Sorento Si

A Wheel Thing and Kia continue their long and proud association with the 2018 Kia Sorento Si seven seater spending a few days in the garage before two weeks of Stinger. The car provided has a RRP of $42990 plus metallic paint (Metal Stream) at $595 for a total price of $43585.There’s been some minor changes, both visible and non, compared to the previous model. The petrol engine has increased in size to 3.5L, up from 3.3L. Peak power of 206 kW is seen at 6500 rpm, and peak torque of 336 Nm comes in at 5000 rpm. This means the 4800 mm long, 1932 kg Si, capable of towing 2000 kilograms, has fuel consumption figures of 14.2L per 100 km of standard unleaded from the 71 litre tank around town. Get out on the highway and that drops by nearly half to 7.6L/100 km for the 2WD Si. A new eight speed auto is to thank for that and, quite simply, the combination of turbine smooth engine and silky sweet auto is superb.The Si is the entry level model of a four model Sorento range and comes well loaded with standard and safety equipment. Hold on:  A digital and analogue dash features across the range, as does an eight inch touchscreen (up an inch on the previous model) with DAB audio, satnav, safety audio settings for driving, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with voice control, multi-function steering wheel controls, three 12V and two USB sockets, six airbags including side curtain, Driver Attention Alert, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, and metallic look interior trim. That last one is an issue in the Australian climate as heat soak lends itself to burned fingertips. There’s six cup holders (two per seat row), four bottle holders (one in each door pocket), and a cargo blind is standard as well.The interior itself has received a mild freshen up, with new look plastics, a redesign to the look for the steering wheel and its controls, even the touchscreen and surrounds have been mildly massaged. It’s clean and elegant to both look at and touch. What’s missing from the inside is privacy glass for the rear seat passengers. Although the Si’s seats are cloth there’s no heating or venting until the GT-Line level. However dual zone climate control is standard from the Si up. It’s manual seat adjustment for the Si and Sport, with the SLi gaining power seats and two position lumbar support. The GT-Line goes to four way adjustment and thigh support.Leg room is always good for the front seats and good enough for most in the centre. The folding rear seats are compromised by design for leg room but wouldn’t be used, one would suspect, for anything other than city style journeying.  As always though Kia’s bent towards simplicity when needed is seen here with simple pull straps employed to raise and lower the third row seats. When they and the mid row seats are folded, there’s a huge 1662L of cargo space available.Outside the Sorento has also been given a light massage. The tail lights have been changed in look as has the front bumper, with a smooth scallop underneath the restyled headlights. A slimmer look to the headlight structure which incorporates the LED driving lights and a restyling to the bumper’s design bring a fresher look to the exterior overall. The rubber is from Nexen, being 235/65/17, and is also the smallest tyre/wheel combination of the four.Although they’re a high sidewall, there’s still plenty of chirping from the front even from what could be called a medium throttle application. That speaks more about the tyres themselves than the engine, given the high revs needed for peak torque. Ride quality, as a result, is somewhat spongy, soft, with a reasonable rebound from the front end over some rather large speedbumps. The rear seems somewhat more tied down in comparison.

The chassis itself is beautiful. Taken through a downhill rural road that has a mix of sweeping curves, tightening radius corners, and a couple of straights long enough to wind up before braking, it holds on and changes direction with minimal weight transfer. Even on the somewhat spongy Nexen rubber, there’s little to no doubt that you can throw the Sorento Si around and come out the other side.The Drive modes are accessible via a tab in the centre console and have AWT wondering why they’re still offered. In all of AWT’s exposure to such they’ve been barely and rarely used and moreso to find out if they made a difference to the actual feel of driving. There’s Comfort/Eco/Sport/Smart, with the last an adaptive system to road and driving conditions. Sport holds gear longer and loads up the steering, Eco is designed (and more suitable for) long distance driving as would Comfort suit as well.As mentioned, the engine and transmission are utterly harmonious in their partnership. Light throttle application has the big machine underway easily and with no perceptible change of ratio. Light the candle and the Sorento will scamper away with alacrity. There’s no vibration in the driveline and absolutely no sense of strain or stress. Jaguar’s V12 was known for its smoothness and this combination would be on a par.

On an uphill run, where traffic ahead slows forward progress and then clears, a moderate shove of the go pedal has a momentary hesitation, a deep inhale, before launching forward with surprising speed.

As always there’s Kia’s seven year warranty, seven year roadside assistance package, and capped price servicing for seven years or every 15,000 kilometres.At The End Of The Drive.
The Kia Sorento Si is for those that want an SUV to move people but don’t want a people mover. The fact that it’s not an off-road oriented car, due to its 2WD and no transfer case, means it’s likely to be used for ferrying the kids to and from school and to sports activities on the weekend. And this highlights the Achilles heel of the Sorento Si with a petrol engine. Economy was never been a strong point of the 3.3L and an urban figure over over 14.0L per 100 km doesn’t aid the cause. AWT finished close to 11.0L/100km which is more reasonable but still largely unacceptable.

But if fuel consumption is something not to be fussed about, and a large, comfortable, well equipped, good handling and driving SUV is what appeals, this is one that ticks far too many boxes to be ignored. Here’s where you can find more: 2018 Kia Sorento information

 

2018 Suzuki Swift Sport Readies For Release.

It’s been hotly anticipated since Suzuki updated its iconic Swift range for 2017 and now it’s here. The 2018 Suzuki Swift Sport, complete with 1.4L turbocharged petrol engine and six speed manual or auto, is sharply priced at $25490 or $27490.

The BOOSTERJET engine produces 103 kilowatts and 230 Nm of torque, with a quoted fuel consumption of 6.1L/100 km for a combined cycle thanks partly to a weight reduction of eighty kilos compared to the previous model. The auto will come with paddle shifts.

Ride and handling is improved, with a lower and wider stance in the chassis. The Sport will roll on 17 inch polished alloys and will turn night time to day time with LED head lights. There’s also LED daytime running lights, twin chrome tipped exhausts, and a sports body kit comprising rear diffuser, side skirts, and black honeycomb grille.

Inside there’s Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Suzuki’s user friendly seven inch touchscreen with satnav, climate control, Bluetooth and USB sounds connectivity, keyless Start/Stop, and red stitched semi-bucket seats.

The chassis has new safety engineering with TECT, Total Effective Control Technology for greater energy dissipation in the event of an impact. A five star safety rating comes courtesy of six airbags (no driver’s kneebag), stability control, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.

Outside there’s a choice of five colour choices: Pure White Pearl, Champion Yellow, Super Black Pearl, Mineral Grey and Speedy Blue.

There’s Capped Price Servicing for five years and should a customer ensure their Swift Sport is serviced under that plan, the warranty gets extended from three to five years.

The 2018 Suzuki Swift Sport is available for test drive and orders from your local Suzuki dealership.

Korea Goals At Detroit Motor Show

If it’s January it’s Northern American car show time and Detroit stands at front and centre as one of the biggest. It’s a time where the car makers showcase what’s new and the two from Korea have been no different. Kia shows off a new Cerato and Hyundai unveils an updated Veloster.

Kia.
Cerato has received a substantial exterior update and wowee it’s a good looker. It’s sharper, edgier, sports a slimmer grille design and exudes sophistication in bucketloads. In profile it echoes the Stinger, with a longish bonnet and shortish tail proportionally, joined by a deep scallop in the doors. There’s further design cues from the bigger car, with the bonnet sporting a pair of eye-catching creases sitting over the restyled grille and assertive looking lower valance. There’s now two air intakes on either side and house relocated indicators. Headlights with a choice of LED or projection lamps will be available.The rear has been restyled as well, with LED lights as standard, while the indicators and reverse lamps are separate and located below them. Extra visual appeal has been added with a horizontal bar, similar to that seen on the Sportage, joining the lamp clusters.

Overall length has been increased by over eighty millimetres, taking it to 4640mm. This allows extra leg room and cargo space. Headroom goes up to 1440mm with width just shy of 1800mm. Interior changes start with a redesigned console housing an eight inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Wireless smartphone charging will be made available and Harman Kardon have stepped up to offer a 320 watt sound system. Airvents are inspired by the aeronautic industry and interior finish is increased with softer materials. Seat frame strength has been increased without gaining weight plus denser foam for better support has been fitted.

Underneath the Cerato has extra “hot stamped” components and a higher percentage (54%) high tensile strength steel. The chassis is sixteen percent stiffer as a result, which also aids ride and handling. Suspension changes and upgrades to the brakes have been enabled to provide better feedback.

The engine features an Atkinson cycle and a cooling system for the Exhaust Gas Recycling to help with power and emissions. Kia have also developed their first in-house CVT as well. Combined fuel economy, as a result, drops to 6.7L/100km.

Safety goes up a notch with the inclusion of Blind Spot Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Forward Collision Avoidance and Smart Cruise Control.

The new Cerato is due for Australia towards the end of 2018 and full specs and pricing will be made available then.

Hyundai.
Hyundai’s evergreen example of quirkiness, the Veloster, has been transformed thanks to a massive reworking to the exterior. With style cues shared with the i30’s update, the Veloster retains its unique 2+1 door configuration yet looks fresh and new. It looks lower, flatter, sharper as well, with a longer bonnet balanced by a more emphasised rear quarter curve. The overall look is more purposeful and muscular.The grille is enlarged and enhanced, with LED headlights to be available along with LED driving lights. LED tail lights will also be available. Wheels are 18 inches in diameter and do a better job of filling in the wheel arches. The rear air diffuser is more pronounced and is bracketed by exhaust tips with a “phatter” look.The previously V shaped motif style in the interior is gone, replaced by a classier look and feel yet retains the driver’s cockpit ethic. With the Turbo model a difference in colours highlights the driver’s section further.Engine wise, the 2.0L petrol engine also gets the Atkinson Cycle, with peak power and torque sitting on 110kW and 179Nm, albeit at a high 4500 rpm. Transmission will be either a six speed manual or six speed auto. The Turbo engine is a smaller yet more potent beast, with a 1.6L capacity delivering 159kW and a flat torque figure of 264Nm from 1500 to 4500 rpm plus an overboost that raises torque by 10Nm. The six speed manual will be offered alongside a seven speed dual clutch auto with both transmissions designed in-house. There’s even a new audio feedback system that pipes intake and exhaust sounds to the cabin in an effort to further enhance the driving experience.

Torque Vectoring Control will be standard on Veloster and will partner with a revised steering ratio and calibration for better handling. Along with 18 inch alloys and Michelin Pilot Sport rubber the Veloster should take all a driver can throw at it and more.

Safety will come from a similar equipment list to the Cerato, with Forward Collision Assist, Blind Spot Warning, Driver Attention Warning, and Rear Cross Traffic Warning. A rear view camera with guidelines will be standard across the range. There’s six airbags as standard which means the driver’s kneebag will not be on board.Entertainment comes from the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto enabled touchscreen with international spec models receiving satellite radio and HD audio upgrades. A Head Up display may be available for the Aussie market also as will wireless charging. Again, pricing and specifications will be made available closer to release.

Car Review: 2018 Mitsubishi ASX XLS Diesel AWD

Mitsubishi has a long and proud history with off road capable vehicles and continues that with the ASX range. A Wheel Thing spends time with the top of the range 2018 Mitsubishi ASX XLS, complete with the same 2.2L diesel as found in the Outlander, and seven speed CVT plus a six speed manual lower in the range.The range itself also offers a petrol 2.0-litre engine, and will power down via the front wheels or come with an all wheel drive system. It’s a mid-sized five seater, in the same bracket as theToyota RAV4. Mitsubishi is offering driveaway pricing deals at the time of writing, with the range starting at an easy on the wallet $24,990 for the LS 2WD petrol. Our test car is priced from $39,990.The engine is good for 110kW, and 360Nm between 1500 to 2750 rpm, making normal driving as easy as blinking. The CVT is well sorted, taking the right foor command and turning it into forward motion easily. The torque allows quick acceleration however doesn’t seem to be as comfortable with overtaking as Suzuki’s Vitara. Economy is good too, with a final figure of 5.9 litres of diesel consumed per 100 kilometres.

Inside, the ASX clearly shows its family oriented design, with leather accented cloth seats, digital radio, a sliding cloth screen for the full length glass roof, plenty of bottle and cup holders, USB charging ports BUT dips out on rear seat air vents and ventilation for the from seats, an almost unforgivable oversight for the Australian market. The plastics are hard to the touch, needing a more modern feel with padding and a softer feel where padding isn’t required. Also, the ovoid design of the console is now showing its age, needing a move to a more human encompassing design. However, cargo room is also looking good, with room for shopping, bags for the weekend way and suchlike, with 393L available with the rear seats up and increasing to to 1143L with the seats folded. Being a compact car in overall length, rear leg room is slightly compromised, with anyone from 180 cm and up maybe feeling a little cramped, but there’s plenty of head and shoulder room, front and rear.Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available, as are DAB/AM/FM (no CD) as is Bluetooth streaming via the 7.0-inch touchscreen. But the reliance on the two smartphone apps means no built in sat nav, even though GPS, showing the coordinates but no navigation, is there. And currently the apps have to be accessed via the phones being connected with cables, a somewhat clunky method and untidy as well.Being the top of the range means loading up with plenty of safety features and the ASX XLS gets the supreme pizza, with Forward Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, and Euro style flashing brake lights for the Emergency Stop System. Autonomous Emergency Braking is not yet fitted to the range however. A reverse camera is standard across the range, as are the ISOFIX child seat mounts and pretensioning seatbelts, Hill Start Assist, and seven airbags including driver’s kneebag.

Back to the driving habits and it’s a typical diesel; floor it and it’ll hesitate as the turbo spools up before kicking the tyres into action. Breathe the right foot over the throttle and you can watch the numbers change quickly and quietly. Economy is rated as 6.0L/100km on a combined cycle from a 60-litre tank and with the ASX being a middleweight, at 1540kg before fuel and passengers, there’s a useable torque to weight ratio. As a result it’ll get off the line, even with the CVT, with a solid rush.When it comes to dimensions, there’s a 2670mm wheelbase hiding inside that compact body, meaning you’ll get a sure footed handling and composed ride in combination with the struts and multi-link suspension. Rubber is from Bridgestone, and they’re 225/55/18s. Exterior styling owes much, like the original Outlander, to the Lancer sedan, with the ASX sporting the same sharp edged, bluff prow. At each corner up front are almost vertical LED driving lights and there’s splashes of chrome. It’s assertive and appealing.The ASX is easy to live with on road, with the steering being light, but attached enough so you don’t find you’re missing out on contact with what’s happening up front. Point and shoot style is how the ASX XLS works and the flexibility of the peak torque makes city driving an absolute doddle. The CVT has no manual mode available via the gear selector, so if you use the paddle shifters you’ll need to quickly slide into Neutral and back out (NOT recommended) to bring it back to Drive, or, when stopped, pulling both paddles back until it re-engages Drive. Although the AWD system is front wheel drive biased, the AWD button mounted in the centre console will direct drive to the rear on demand. If you wish to utilise all of that torque for towing, the ASX XLS will do so up to 1400 kilograms.At The End Of The Drive.
The ASX has received a nip and a tuck here and there over its life however it’s now, like its “doner” car, showing signs of age. Yes, it’s still comfortable and roomy enough for a family of four however the dash design and plastics now lag behind competitors. It’s a fantastic city oriented car with a frugal, punchy, diesel but the value of the Mitsubishi ASX XLS is also beginning to be questionable. In no way is it a bad car, it’s just now not as good as other choices.
Here is where you can get more information: 2018 Mitsubishi ASX range

Car Review: 2018 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S Sedan

Subaru‘s new for 2017 advertising campaign, Subaru Do, features the hatch and sedan version (starting at just under $25K) of their evergreen Impreza, in the same flaming red colour (one of eight for the 2018 Subaru Impreza range), so the prospective buyer can see the external difference between the two as they flick between them. What’s not so obvious is the refinement to the shape and certainly to the inside compared to the just superseded version. A Wheel Thing takes the red sedan, in 2.0i-S form, for a week after two weeks of the high riding hatch version, the XV.The interior changes are subtle; noticeable yet subtle, and it’s only when you have the previous and current version side by side that you see things such as a relocation of the armrest on the doors, the centre console storage bin (with two USB charging points), the redesign of the air-con and centre dash, even the sweep of the dash itself (with a lovely looking stitched style for the material) as it meets the windscreen glass. S spec also gets a sunroof with aircraft style overheard tabs for operation.You’ll get an eight inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, set below the info screen as is traditional with the Impreza and its siblings (XV, Impreza hatch, Levorg, WRX)some obviously plasticky buttons (a slight step back from the indecisive touch tabs on the previous system), but there’s still room for a hard copy sound in the form of a CD slot. No DAB at the top end is an oversight, given the sheer variety of stations available.The plastics have a higher quality look and feel to them and the controls on the steering wheel have been redesigned for a more obvious yet stylish look. Even the seats seem to have a different feel. The seats in the S were black machine made leather, again with no cooling, and with all doors and sunroof shut, do not make for a comfy pew to plant the backside.Outside it’s tail lights and headlights, with the 460L boot and tail end receiving the C shaped LED inserts. It’s here that a slight oddity in the design manifests, with the reversing lamp in its own little section below the other lights in the cluster. It adds an awkward and unbalanced look to what could otherwise be an otherwise slim look as the trimmer cluster design would finish off the pert backside of the sedan nicely.

The headlights have been streamlined further, with the S getting LED illumination plus a chrome strip above the halogen globe driving light for an extra touch of visual class. The refinements, as well as the overall profile, have the sedan looking more rakish and coupe like. It’s a tighter, cleaner, look with an overall more cohesive presence, including a slight reprofiling of the shut-line for the rear doors.The 2.0L engine is a willing revver and the CVT in the sedan, much like the XV, is easy to use, easy to drive, and works well. However, this particular transmission was somewhat indecisive and juddery. However, it’s worth noting that this behaviour was more noticeable when it was cold and hadn’t been driven. Manual mode, again, seems to make little difference in speed of change.

However, when everything is in synch, the 115 kilowatts and 196 Nm work to deliver an average fuel consumption around town of 8.4L/100 kilometres from the fifty litre tank holding standard 90RON unleaded, or a combined figure of a more reasonable 6.6L/100 km. AWT saw those figures in the real world.Ride and handling showed the sedan’s rear end somewhat less prone to the bottoming out as experienced in the XV yet still doesn’t feel as tied down as the front. What you get is more travel at the rear and when loaded up with a standard load of groceries, it’s on the bump-stops just that little easier. The steering lightens just a little though, thankfully ensuring you’re still in contact and being told what the front wheels are doing. With no weight in the back, it’s naturally more connected, with a small measure of sponginess the further left or right you wind on lock.

The all wheel drive system that underpins Subaru is noticeable for feeling like…a rear wheel drive car at some times and a front wheel drive at others. Never does it feel as if it’s confused nor confusing for the driver. Grip isn’t compromised either, thanks to Yokohama‘s brilliant Advan rubber, in this case a 225/40/18 set on gorgeous ten spoke alloy and painted wheels.

It’s a chassis that’s adroit, supple, and when thrown into a long sweeper has the Impreza S flat and composed. You’ll get the same unflappable attitude over unsettled surfaces with each corner working to damp out the ruts and bumps nice. There’s the same sense of confidence in the brake system, with  bite straight away and then a easy progression through the travel.The Eyesight system fitted to CVT equipped models is a ripper; not only can it sense a vehicle’s distance ahead of yours, it’ll activate an emergency sound if you’re too close and the computers sense you haven’t touched the brake. It’ll allow distance related cruise control and will also alert if the vehicle in front, when you’ve stopped, has moved on. There’s a swag of other safety features including Blind Spot Alert, parking assistance from front and rear sensors (not fitted to all models though), Hill Hold Assist, Lane Change Assist and more.

There’s seven airbags including the driver’s knee, and load limiting pretensioning seatbelts up front. Naturally it adds up to be a safe car to be in and comes with a five star ANCAP safety rating. That’s backed by a three year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with a five year warranty an option (talk to your dealer or broker) which is available to be transferred to a new owner within the warranty period.At The End Of The Drive.
There’s really not a lot to find fault with inside the Impreza sedan in 2.0Li-S spec, including a great price (at the time of writing) of $33K driveaway. No DAB, (a first world problem), no cooling in the seats (a must for an Australian market car), and a softish ride are more than balanced by good looks, great dynamics, useful economy, and a classy style & finish to rival other Japanese, Korean, and European competitors.

In fact, with the Impreza for 2018, Subaru can put this in the middle of that group and smile broadly, in full confidence it will more than hold its own. The sales figures reflect that for 2017, with the XV variant leading the charge whilst the sedan itself is up by 163% on a Year To Date basis, with 988 new homes for it in October, plus the brand itself celebrates its 34th month in a row of increased sales.

Here’s where you can go for more info and book a drive: 2018 Subaru Impreza range