Ford Mustang Bullitt

The Ford Mustang Bullitt arrives in Australia in October 2018

Those of you who do know what a 1968 “Bullitt” Mustang Fastback is will drool at the latest announcement from Ford Australia. From October 2018, a Ford Mustang knows as the Mustang Bullitt celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Steve McQueen iconic movie will be on sale here in Australia.

No Ordinary Mustang

This is no ordinary Mustang (not that Mustangs are ordinary in any guise). Based on the Mustang GT, this monster green machine will be the most powerful Mustang ever sold here by Ford Australia. The 5 litre Coyote-derived V8 engine churns out 345kW of power and generates 556Nm of torque.

For the petrol heads, the engine has been upgraded for heightened performance with an Open Air induction system and intake manifold with 87mm throttle bodies, Ford Racing air-filter and a Powertrain Control Module shared with the Shelby Mustang GT350 (oh yeah !!!).

The Bullitt is only available in a 6 speed manual transmission but has been tricked up for the enthusiast with Mustang’s rev-matching system. Coupled to the Active Valve Exhaust, this thing has a heart-stirring soundtrack and the mumbo and performance to match. It stops on the proverbial dime too with bright red Brembo brakes all round (it’s not the colour that makes the difference; as we all know, red makes things go faster, not slower).

The Tech

Ford Mustang Bullitt in Australia


OK, having Bullitt badges all over the beast is not that tech but there is trick suspension (called “MagneRide) and an array of snappy kit including 8” full colour reversing camera, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control.


Ford Mustang Muscle Car


You also get Apple and Android compatibility as well as native satellite navigation. What would Frank have thought with all of this at his fingertips ?




For those youngies who have no idea what I’m talking about, Google “Bullitt the movie” on your iPad/Smart Phone/Tablet or click on the YouTube video for the movie trailer.

One for the Collectors

Bullitt car review

There will only be 700 of these Dark Highland Green collectables (yep, harking back to the old Model T days: have any colour you want as long as it’s dark green) each with a unique Bullitt number etched into the passenger’s side plaque. The stark white cue ball gear knob may not be to everyone’s taste (a little bit “meh”) but there’s no denying its origin !




Ford Mustang Bullitt in Australia


The rest of the instruments and controls make the heart race inspired by the (cue Ford’s Marketing Arm) “Le Mans winning” Ford Performance GT sports car. Bring it on !



The Damage

You really do get fair bit of kit with this number AND you are buying a classic collectable in modern form. At a touch under AU $74,000 (list price), this is really worth considering if you’re in the market for a high-performance Mustang with that little bit “extra”.

My Closing Thoughts

Would I have one ? In a word, yep BUT…………. I would have to test drive it first around the burbs, on the highway and on a track just to make sure it is right for me. I’m sure you’re with me on this ! Now where’s a street around here with big hills and dips ?




Oh, for those interested in nostalgia, check out the recent Mustang Bullitt launch in the USA


And continuing the theme, Jay Leno’s take on the same is interesting

By | July 13th, 2018|Ford Australia|Comments Off on Ford Mustang Bullitt

Two Beautiful Jags

A couple of weeks ago a friend took delivery of a new Jag and there’s no doubt that it’s a rather nice car but somehow it just doesn’t do all that much for me.

It’s luxurious, comfortable, full of safety features and expensive but … where’s the passion?.

If I had that sort of money to spend on a car I just might buy a Jag too but I wouldn’t be heading for the nearest Jag dealer; I’d be heading for Shannons November auction because they have two beautiful Jags.

They might be almost 30 years old and not as luxurious as a modern Jag but they come with loads of passion.

1971 Jaguar E-type

The first Jag is a stunning red 1971 Jaguar E-Type 4.2 Series 2 Roadster and it is expected to bring somewhere between $140,000 and $160,000.

Jaguar XK120

The second Jag is definitely more elegant. It’s an XK120 Roadster that was restored some years ago. It is likely to bring somewhere between $100,000 and $115,000

And the prices for both cars point to another reason why buying an older Jag might be better than buying a new one … these Jags might be old but they are increasing in value.

By | October 15th, 2017|Jaguar|Comments Off on Two Beautiful Jags

Hyundai Kona SUV

Hyundai Kona

Just when you thought that there couldn’t possibly be room for another small SUV in the Australian marketplace along comes the Hyundai’s offering … the Hyundai Kona with a price tag that sets it apart from many of its competitors.

At $27k drive away the Hyundai Kona is definitely not the cheapest in its class but it does comes with some interesting technology. But are the buyers in the small SUV market all that interested in technology over price point?

Hyundai says that it wants to appeal to the emotions of potential buyers rather than bedazzle them with all that technology and I guess we will just have to wait and see if that will work.

Hyundai Kona rear

The range
As with all Hyundai SUVs the Hyundai Kona SUV will come in three trim levels; Active, Elite and Highlander. An optional safety pack will be available for the Active.

Each of the trim levels will be available with two drivetrain combinations.

A 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine coupled to a six-speed auto transmission driving the front wheels will probably be the drivetrain combination of choice for most buyers but there is also be a 1.6-litre Turbo-GDI engine coupled to a seven-speed dual -clutch transmission driving all wheels available for those who want to be a little different.

Hyundai Kona engine

The engines
The 2.0-litre engine features multi-point fuel injection and Atkinson Cycle technology to deliver better fuel economy without any loss of power or torque.

That combination produces 110 kW of power and 180Nm at 4,5000rpm and, when paired with the six-speed transmission, that combination takes the vehicle from 0 to 100km/h in 10 seconds flat. That’s hardly breathtaking but it’s not too shabby.

The turbo-charged 1.6-litre engine offers more spirited performance and will do 0 to 100km/h in 7.9 seconds. Along the way it will produce 18% more power and 47% more torque than the 2-0-litre engine.

Power output is 130kW at 5,500rpm and torque is 265Nm at 1,500rpm and doesn’t reduce till the engine reaches 4,500rpm.


Hyundai Kona gearshift

Different drivetrains mean different suspensions for the Hyundai Kona SUV.

Independent MacPherson strut design in common for the front suspension in both drivetrains but things are quite different at the rear.

The front-wheel-drive versions feature torsion beam suspension while the all-wheel-drive version features dual-arm, multi-link suspension to give a smooth ride over a broad range of road surfaces.

Let’s face it, even if you’re never going to take the Kona off-road you’ll still encounter that “broad range of road surfaces”.


Hyundai Kona safety features

Safety features on the Hyundai Kona include:

Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist,
Blind Spot Collision Warning,
Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning,
Lane Keeping Assist,
Driver Attention Warning,
High Beam Assist,
Electronic Stability Control with Vehicle Stability Management,
LED Daytime Running Lights,
Emergency Stop Signal
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System
Rear-view camera and park assist

While many of those safety features are missing from the Active model they are available in a safety pack that looks to be well worth the extra money.

And if all that isn’t enough to stop you having an accident then the six airbags that are standard across the range should go some way to keeping you safe.


Hyundai Kona multi media

There was a time when actually driving a vehicle took up all of our attention but those days have gone and it’s important that we have plenty of infotainment to stop us from becoming bored.

To help keep you entertained the Hyundai Kona as a 7-inch tablet-style touchscreen that gives you access to advanced connectivity features such as Bluetooth and audio streaming, iPod and smartphone connectivity through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Hyundai Kona dashboard

Hyundai want the Kona SUV to be a technology leader in the small SUV class and to achieve that they have included a range of features that were once the domain of larger luxury vehicles.

Standard on the Kona Highlander is a Head-Up Display that projects drive-related information onto a clear glass panel behind the instrument display. It’s designed to give maximum visibility without being distracting and you can turn it off simply by pressing a button.

LED headlights designed to follow the direction that the steering wheel is pointed is also part of the mix along with wireless smartphone charging.

Hyundai Auto Link is also part of the technology suite in the Kona SUV. This handy features connects the Kona to your smartphone and gives you access to everything from real-time diagnostics … including things such as tyre pressure … to automatic access to roadside assistance if needed.

Electrically adjusted driver’s and passenger seats … with a total of 10 adjustment settings … are designed to make things as comfortable as possible for drivers and passengers.

Climate control on the Elite and Highlander models add to the comfort levels and the system features an automatic windscreen defog function for added safety.

Hyundai Kona interior

Hyundai says that the Kona has plenty of space for five occupants … they don’t actually five adults … and luggage space is limited to just 361 litres with the back seat in place.

However the rear seat can be totally folded and that lifts the luggage space to 1143 litres and the rear seat also has a 60/40 split-fold feature.

Perhaps the mostly interesting interior feature of the Hyundai Kona is the ability for owners to change the height of the boot floor. The lower setting gives more cargo space while the upper setting gives a totally flat loading area when the rear seats are folded.

So will people buy emotion and technology over price point in a very competitive market? We will just have to wait and see.

Side view of the Hyundai Kona SUV
By | October 14th, 2017|Hyundai|Comments Off on Hyundai Kona SUV

Land Rover Discovery

Land Rover Discovery – still impressive after all these years

It seems that Land Rover likes to show off the pulling power of its latest Discovery model by using it to tow unusual things.

At the launch of the Discovery back in 1989 the first Discovery was used to tow a train and Land Rover went back to the rail theme again last year when it towed another train a short distance.

This year the Land Rover Discovery outdid itself with perhaps the most impressive display of pulling power yet.

Of course, you can’t show how well you can do something without having a good headline to attract attention and, for this feat Land Rover’s PR Department came up with this gem:

Land Rover Discovery tows 110-tonne road train across the Australian Outback

Unfortunately, Australia’s outback is a little bigger than just 16km so it didn’t quite make it across the outback … but it did tow this monster 110 tonne road train for 16km on a closed stretch of highway.

It had to be closed for the test because no Land Rover Discovery Td6 is rated to tow more than 3,500kg on a public road and no road train is permitted to haul more than 4 trailers … the test rig had 7 and the prime mover plus 10 extra tonnes of ballast.

The prime mover had to be left on the front of the trailers because, without it, the trailers had no brakes … a scary thought when you have 110 tonnes of road train about to run right over the top of you.

So, despite the fact that this towing test only ran for 16km … and not across the Australian Outback … it is still an impressive piece of work by the Land Rover Discovery and it did it all with a standard 190kW 3.0-litre diesel engine with four-wheel drive engaged.

Oh, and in case you were wondering; the trucking company won’t be using Land Rovers to haul their trucks any time soon. The maximum speed the Discover could reach with 110 tonnes behind it was just 44km/h.

Land Rover Discovery tows a 110 tonne road train


By | September 26th, 2017|Land Rover|Comments Off on Land Rover Discovery

Holden Astra Sportswagon

Holden Astra Sportswagon

Holden Astra Sportswagon

A little history
There was a time in Australia when there were no SUVs. Back then, if we wanted something that would carry the family and give extra room for luggage we bought a station wagon … and lots of Australian’s bought station wagons.

Back then, if you were a car manufacturer who wanted to appeal the widest customer base you had a station wagon in every vehicle size in your catalogue.

But then along came the SUV and marketers did their best to convince us that we didn’t need … or want … a station wagon anymore.

Pretty soon station wagons disappeared off the showroom floors. Some manufacturers still offered them but it might take a while to get one for you while other manufacturers ditched them entirely.

That was the path that Ford took with their Falcon station wagon despite the fact that they had always been quite popular. Of course, they still had a wagon in their range but it was a Mondeo … a smaller vehicle that had less room than the Ford Falcon wagons of days gone by.

Holden was different … they bucked the trend and stuck with a station wagon in the Commodore range. They promoted it hard and kept on developing it and the Commodore wagon turned into a beautiful piece of machinery that I loved to drive.

Lots of other people loved the Commodore wagon too … just look around while you’re out driving and you will see plenty of them on the road

It did everything right. It had looks, it had power to spare, it was quite economical to drive … more economical than many of the Japanese SUVs … it was very comfortable, it was quiet inside and it was built to give you every possible bit of storage space possible.

And now Holden is bringing out another station wagon … not in it’s big-car range but down in Astra range … and it looks every bit as good as the Commodore wagon.

Holden Astra Sportswagon dashboard


The Holden Astra Sportswagon will be available in Australia in October. It was designed in Opel’s Russelsheim headquarters and is built in the UK at one of Vauxhall’s plants.

It not only offers loads of carrying space for people who don’t have a need for a bigger vehicle. With the real seats folded the Astra Sportswagon gives you 1,630 litres of boot space.

Astra Sportswagon interior


Safety and comfort
The Holden Astra Sportswagon comes with a full suite of safety features that would have made early station wagon owners green with envy.

The range of safety features includes Auto Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist and Forward Collision Alert in addition to a Rear View Camera – all available as standard across the range. All combine to offer a full five star ANCAP safety rating.

Astra Sportswagon interior

The Astra Sportswagon is powered by a 1.4-litre turbo engine with six-speed automatic transmission that produce 110kW and 240Nm of torque.

Astra will give you all of that and only ask for around 5.9l/100kms of fuel so running the Astra will be light on the pocket.

Holden Astra Sportswagon blindspot monitoring

The Astra Sportswagon range
There will be two versions of the Astra Sportswagon available in Australia.

The LS+ auto has a price tag of $25,74 while the LT Auto carries a price tag of $29,940

LS+ Equipment Levels

1.4-litre turbo engine (110kW/240Nm)
6-speed Auto standard with Stop/Start
16-inch alloy wheels
Leather Steering Wheel
Rear Park Assist / Rear Camera
Holden Eye forward facing camera
AEB City Stop
Lane Keep Assist
Forward Collision Alert
Forward distance indicator
Phone projection (Apple CarPlay/Android Auto)
Digital Radio (DAB+)
Rain sensing wipers
Electrochromatic Mirror
7-inch colour touchscreen
Projector headlamps with LED DRL’s
Six speaker premium audio
Cruise Control – with Speed Limiter
60/40 fold flat rear seat
Express Up/Down Windows

LT Equipment Levels (additional to the LS+)

17-inch alloy wheels
Leather Interior Trim
Hands-free power liftgate
Passive Entry & Push-Button Start (PEPS)
8-inch colour touchscreen
Embedded satellite navigation
Climate Control
Side Blind Spot Alert
Advanced Park Assist (automatic park)
Heated Outside Mirrors

Colours available

Absolute Red
Nitrate Silver*
Cosmic Grey*
Phantom Black*
Heron White
Darkmoon Blue*

* Prestige paint – $550 premium

By | September 26th, 2017|Holden|Comments Off on Holden Astra Sportswagon

The Electric E-type Jag

electric E-type JagThe E-type Jag … it’s one of great British sports cars of all time and it still turns heads today. And if you’re looking to invest in an old car then you could do worse than shell out the many thousands of dollars that they now fetch at auction.

But what about an electric E-type Jag? Hmmm is there such a beast and will it turn heads as it rolls down the street?

Well answer to those questions are yes … and probably not.

Yes, Jaguar is producing an electric E-type Jag. It will look the same. It will even have the same dimensions as the E-type that because the factory has taken a restored Series 1.5 Roadster and built a state-of-the-art powertrain into it but …

Where is the throaty roar from an engine that promised … and delivered … everything that we expected? Of course, it’s not there. It’s been replaced by an almost silent power train and, as we are learning from Formula 1, the magic is in the raw sound that that makes no apology for being loud and angry and challenging us to dare drive the bloody thing like we stole it.

Sadly I doubt that the electric E-type Jag will ever turn a single head because no one will hear it go by.

Why would anyone do this?

front view of the electric E-type Jag

So why has Jaguar decided to build one? Why would they take the car that Enzo Ferrari described as “the most beautiful car ever made” and tear it apart? Probably for no other real reason than because they could.

Why else would you take an almost perfect sports car and turn it into something less than the original?

And it will be less … it will definitely be less powerful because “… we have limited the vehicle’s power output. We believe this provides the optimum driving experience.”

To be fair, the electric E-type Jag will have better acceleration than the original. It will reach 100kph from a standing start in 5.5 seconds and that’s 1 second faster than the original E-type … but then it should. Electric cars have better acceleration than conventional vehicles.

Technical details 

E-type Jag 220kW electric motor

The electric powertrain develops 220kW of power and at the heart of it is a rather hefty 40kWh lithium-ion battery that weighs about the same as the original XK six-cylinder engine that it replaces. A new propshaft transfers the power to the diff and final drive.

The range is not great. You will get about 270km out of a fully charged battery and charging time is around 6 to 7 hours. I wonder if that’s 270km of driving an E-type like it should be driven?

the electric E-type Jag dashboard

The power train and battery have been designed to fit into the space originally taken up by the conventional engine and gearbox. The suspension and brakes are unchanged and the drive, ride and handling is about the same as an original e-type.

And all they have ended up with is something that is a mere shadow of its former self. It might look like the real thing but the electric E-type Jag is definitely not a head turner.

side view of the electric E-type Jag

By | September 10th, 2017|Jaguar|Comments Off on The Electric E-type Jag

Kia Stinger GT

Kia Stinger GTThe latest sports sedan to roll off Kia’s production line is this one … the Kia Stinger GT … and you should be seeing it in Australian showrooms by the end of September.

The Kia Stinger that will arrive in Australia will be powered by a 3.3-litre V6 twin turbo engine that drives the rear wheels via an 8-speed transmission.

Final specs are still undecided by the V6 engine is expected to produce 272kW of power at 6000rpm and an impressive 510Nm of torque from 1300rpm through to 4500rpm.

How will that power handle Australian conditions? That’s yet to be seen but the Australian version will come with a local suspension and tuning package to suit our roads.

And just to add even more incentive to buy the Kia Stinger GT … if you needed any … this car will come with a 7-year warranty, 7-year capped price service and 7 years of roadside assist.

Pricing is yet to be decided but it’s a Kia so it’s probably going to be affordable.

Kia Stinger GT

Front view of the Kia's sports sedan

Dashboard for the Kia Stinger

By | January 17th, 2017|Kia|Comments Off on Kia Stinger GT

Muscle Cars Dominate

Shannon’s latest auction was held back on December 5 and, as always, a lot of beautiful and interesting machinery went under the hammer.

This 1932 Ford Victoria hot rod coupe sold for $53,000 dollars.

1932 Ford Victoria hot rod coupe


This beautiful right-hand drive 1936 Auburn 653 Phaeton sold for $104,000.

1936 Auburn 653 Phaeton


But, as always, it was the muscle cars that attracted a lot of attention from the bidders.

If you had $112,500 you could have walked away with this restored 1973 Holden Torana LJ GTR XU-1

1973 Holden Torana GTR XU-1

And the top seller at the auction was this 1971 Ford XY GT Falcon 351 V8 automatic sedan that sold for a cool $127,000

1971 Ford XY GT Falcon 351 V8

By | January 4th, 2017|General|Comments Off on Muscle Cars Dominate

Hyundai’s New WRC Car

Hyindai's new WRC car - a Hyundai i20 couple

It’s hard to believe that you could mention the Hyundai i20 and world rallying in the same breath. There just doesn’t seem to be any touch-points for those two subjects and yet that little, soft looking town car has taken Hyundai almost to the top of world rallying in 2016.

And the car you see above is the car that Hyundai believes will keep them there in 2017.

Hyundai started its assault on the World Rally Championship back in 2014 and this i20 coupe is the car for the 2017 series.

There is no doubting Hyundai’s commitment to rallying; while they were busy working their way into a winning position for 2016 they were also testing the i20 version for the 2017 series and had completed over 6,000km when they unveiled their new car last month.

Even as I write this, more testing is going on and it will continue right up until the first event on the World Rally Championship calendar in January 2017.

Among the changes introduced in the new i20 Coupe is improved aerodynamics, increased engine power from 220kW to 280kW and the return to an active centre diff.

Hyundai will be fielding a team of three of these vehicles and it will be interesting to see if they can meet the challenges that a new vehicle brings and still retain their place in the Championship.

Hyundai 120 coupe built for the 2017 World Rally Championship

By | December 5th, 2016|Hyundai|Comments Off on Hyundai’s New WRC Car

It’s a Volkswagen Jim …

Volkswagen's new future - the VW Arteon

Meet the face of Volkswagen’s future … the VW Arteon.

Volkswagen’s top of the range four door coupe will be a showcase for the brand’s tech and design and to meet that criteria you are going to see a car with an Active Info dash coupled to a head-up display that, according to VW, will be the most advanced driver interface to date.

The VW Arteon will be powered by a 206kW turbo charged 4-cylinder engine that puts its power to the road via a 6-speed DSG transmission coupled to VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system

Inside the car you will see a 9.2-inch multi-media screen, ventilated front seats and Nappa upholstery.

And when will you be able to by the VW Arteon?

The car will make its first appearance at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2017 and it will go on sale in Australia in October, 2017

By | November 29th, 2016|VW|Comments Off on It’s a Volkswagen Jim …

Australia’s Cheapest Car

It was Australia's cheapest car - the Honda N360 sold here as the Honda Scamp

In 1968 the Honda N360 arrived in Australia and the marketing message was that this was Australia’s cheapest car. It cost just $1397 and to go with the cheeky price tag it had a cheeky name … the Scamp.

The Honda Scamp was powered by an air-cooled, four-stroke 354cc, alloy overhead camshaft two-cylinder engine that Honda had developed from the engine that powered the Honda CB350 motorcycle. Top speed was 115kmh and fuel consumption was a miserly 4.7L/100km

That small engine put out just 23kW of power through the front wheels via a three-speed automatic box that was way ahead of its time.

A gearbox way ahead of its time
Honda’s automatic transmission allowed drivers to choose between manual and automatic gear changes. That’s a feature that is available in almost all automatic cars these days but back in the 1960s it was

The designers at Honda set out to design a vehicle that gave maximum space to the driver and passengers and minimum space to everything else so the N360 was the perfect example of a design that had a wheel in each corner and every available inch of non-human space crammed with equipment.

How often do you find a vehicle design that puts the spare wheel in the engine compartment?

The motoring press of the time praised Honda for the design and the high level of features that were standard but some of the things that we take for granted these days were options on the Honda N360.

If you wanted foglamps, carpeting, a tacho, a clock and reclining seats you had to pay extra.

The vehicle sold well in Australia despite the fact that we were living in a period when Holdens and Falcons were everywhere. Today only a handful of these amazing little vehicles remain on Australian roads.

The Honda N360 first appeared at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1966 and it went on sale in March 1966 so this is the N360’s 50th anniversary.

By the time production ceased well over million Honda N360’s had been sold world-wide.


By | November 28th, 2016|Honda|Comments Off on Australia’s Cheapest Car

Buick Avenir

Buick avenirFew people would look at the Buick Avenir, the latest concept car from GM that was unveiled at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, and think that GM’s Australian design studio could have had anything to do with it but they certainly did.

Not only did the design for the body of the Buick Avenir come from GM’s Australian design studio but the vehicle itself was built here in Australia and that raised some interesting challenges because the unique interior was designed in the United States.

And if you’re looking at the exterior of this concept and wondering where you’ve seen it before then step back to the 1971 -73 Buick Riviera and think of that unusual boat-tail design. There are many other design features in the Buick Avenir that clearly mark this car as a Buick yet at the same time some of those features have been modernised.

The grille is a modern interpretation of another Buick concept car, the 1954 Buick Wildcat II and designers suggest that the Avenir could be just as ground-breaking as the WildcatII

The interior
Inside the Buick Avenir the premium leather seat covers, ambient lighting and the unusual four-place seating leave no doubt that this concept was designed to be a luxury car.

The Avenir is also big on technology and the simple dashboard layout clearly shows that this is a vehicle that takes a lot of the hassle out of driving. The most important information is displayed in front of the driver while less important information is kept out of sight till it’s required.

The information systems in the Avenir are also designed to be accessed via smart phones and that information is available and synchronised within seconds of the vehicle being started.

Buick Avenir Interior

Engine and transmission
The Buick Avenir features the latest direct-injected V6 engine with Active Fuel Management that deactivates cylinders when they are not required. The transmission includes a nine-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shift that transmits power to all four wheels via a twin-clutch system but under normal operation the vehicle is rear-wheel drive.

Will we ever see the Buick Avenir in production? I think that it’s quite likely that we will see a car with a similar body shape roll off the production line but I doubt that things like the seating will be quite so cutting edge. If the Avenir does hit the streets then GM Australia will have played quite a large part in getting it there.

By | January 12th, 2015|Featured, Holden|0 Comments

Hydrogen Powered ix35 Fuel Cell Arrives in Australia

hyundai-ix35-fuel-cellWhile several other manufacturers have had hydrogen powered vehicles in Australia on a short-term basis Hyundai has now imported the first hydrogen powered vehicle that will remain here permanently.

It comes in the form of a Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell that will be used for testing and demonstration drives starting in early 2015. It will be fuelled from Australia’s first purpose-built refueller that will be installed at Hyundai’s headquarters in Macquarie Park, Sydney.

How it works
Hydrogen, stored in the fuel tank of the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell, is mixed with air and converted to electricity by what is known as a fuel cell stack that is located in the engine compartment at the front of the vehicle. The electricity that is produced then powers the ix35’s electric motor.

The combination of hydrogen and electricity develops 100kW of power and 300Nm of torque and gives the current vehicle a range of over 590km with no emissions. The only thing that comes out of the exhaust pipe is water.

While the ix35 Fuel Cell that has been imported into Australia will be used for testing fuel cell powered ix35s are already being used by private customers across Europe and across parts of America.

Technical details
The ix35 Fuel Cell that has come to Australia uses a Proton Exchange Membrane or Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) in the fuel cell . The membrane separates two electrodes (an anode and a cathode) and oxygen is passed over one electrode while hydrogen is passed over the other.

The hydrogen reacts to a catalyst on the electrode anode and is converted into negatively-charged electrons and positively charged ions. These electrons flow out of the cell to be used as electrical energy while the hydrogen ions move through the electrolyte membrane to the cathode electrode where they combine with oxygen to produce heat and water.


Safety concerns
There has always been some risk in using hydrogen, just as there’s a risk in using petrol but there are arguably less risk in using hydrogen than using petrol.

Hydrogen is a gas that dissipates quickly when it comes into contact with the air and even though it is stored in the fuel tank under pressure as high as 10,000psi the tanks are specially constructed to handle that pressure and Hyundai has crash-tested over 30 vehicles to ensure the safety of the stored hydrogen.

Of course you can say that all these tests were conducted under controlled conditions but there have been a number of unplanned tests that involved heavy rear-end collisions in city traffic where the fuel tanks remained intact.


The ix35 Fuel Cell accelerates from 0-100km/h in 12.5 seconds and has a top speed of 160km/h. Because it is electric it produces very little drive noise and does not have a conventional gearbox. Refuelling takes about the same time as filling a normal petrol tank and, while 594km is the rated distance the vehicle can travel without refuelling, a distance of 700km has been achieved under test conditions.

Hyundai is already the first car manufacturer to mass-produce hydrogen powered vehicles that are in daily use in the United States and Europe and now they are keen to test one of these vehicles under Australian conditions.

By | December 28th, 2014|Featured, Hyundai|Comments Off on Hydrogen Powered ix35 Fuel Cell Arrives in Australia

The Hyundai Veloster Mid-Engine Concept

If the Hyundai Veloster mid-engine concept car was being graded on looks then you would have to say that it’s not going to score very highly … and I’m not just talking about the paint scheme here.

hyundai veloster-mid-engine conceptAlthough Hyundai have built this concept with the idea of exploring the possibilities of the Veloster chassis, the mid-engine concept car is 75mm wider and 59mm lower than the current model while the length remains the same.

That tends to make the Hyundai Veloster mid-engine concept look a bit too chunky for a sports car. Of course that’s just my opinion … I’m sure that others would have an entirely different view and if Hyundai ever decides to turn this into a production model it may sell in big numbers.

The mid-engine concept has certainly been given more power than the current tubo Veloster. The current model cranks out 150kW from a 1.6-litre engine while the concept has a 2.0-litre turbo charged engine that produces 220kW.

Interestingly Hyundai have opted to include lightweight aluminium wishbone suspension combined with a high-rigidity body structure and that might not be a such a good idea if for the rough roads we have to deal with.

But of course Hyundai says that this vehicle is not related to any future production model but if it were then we could expect to see the high performance shocks and brakes continued through into production.

hyundai veloster mid-engine-concept

There’s no indication of what the top speed might be for the Hyundai Veloster mid-engine concept but you can be sure that it will be fast and it’s going to need something special in the braking and handling department.

By | May 30th, 2014|Featured, Hyundai|0 Comments

Fiat Abarth 50th Anniversary Model

fiat-abarth-50th-anniversary-modelOk … so what I want to know is how on earth do they keep this thing on the road? It’s not much bigger than a pregnant roller skate and it has a top speed of 225km/h!

Maybe it’s a good thing that there’s only going to be 50 Fiat Abarth 50th Anniversary models brought into Australia and you’re probably going to be slightly crazy just to fork over $45,000 dollars (plus rego and government charges) for what is basically a four cylinder 1.4-litre car.

Oh of course the Fiat Abarth 50th Anniversary model is  turbo-charged and features an overboost function that takes the power up to 132kW at the press of a button. It also just happens to have a special exhaust so you can really hear the power.

And if that’s not enough the interior is designed to take you back … in a very modern way … to the Abarth of 50 years ago. There are rather vivid red and white leather seats and the interior panelling is a rather vivid red too.

There’s also a sunroof, automatic climate control and a bunch of other stuff including a hi-fi system with controls mounted on the steering wheel along with litany of other minor features that makes the specs for this car sound impressive.

Among the more important specs is electric power steering with a “sport” function, gear shift paddles on the steering wheel, sports tyres, rear parking sensors, a car cover, special edition sunglasses and luggage too.


I’m not so sure about the luggage … but then I prefer to travel light … one backpack and my packing is done … but I do like the idea of the car cover. Not everyone has the luxury of off-street covered parking and if you’re going to shell out $45k+ on this little monster then you’re going to want to protect it.

And maybe that’s going to be the selling point for Fiat Abarth 50th Anniversary model … not that it’s some fancy reminder of a bygone era … but that it is a little monster that will do 225km/h and sound like it at the same time.

By | May 29th, 2014|Featured, Fiat|0 Comments

Toyota Advances Hybrid Power Technology

hybrid power technologyYou might be wondering what Toyota’s entrant in next month’s Le Mans 24 hour race has to do with hybrid power technology … after all race cars are more about burning fuel than conserving fuel.

You might also be wondering what Toyota is doing about hybrid power technology. Sure they produced the Prius and the hybrid Camry but is that all there is to hybrid power technology? Have they gone cold on the technology?

Well the short answer to that question is a resounding … no! And Toyota’s entrant in the Le Mans 24 Hour race is proof that Toyota is working hard to use hybrid power to save even more fuel.

At the heart of the hybrid power technology found in the Prius and the hybrid Camry is the power control unit that governs the flow of electricity from the battery to the motor during acceleration and from the motor back to the battery when the car is braking or slowing down.

Unfortunately the amount of electricity that moves to the motor or back to the battery is not 100 percent of the electricity stored or generated and around 20 percent of that power loss can be attributed to the semi conductors … the computer chips … in the power control unit.

And that is what Toyota has been working on … and testing in their Le Mans 24 Hour cars.

The new hybrid power technology incorporates a new generation of computer chips that will cut power loss and increase fuel economy by as much as 10 percent. At the same time the size of the power control unit will be reduced by a whopping 80 percent.

On the left is the old power control unit and on the right is the new, smaller one

On the left is the old power control unit and on the right is the new, smaller one

While it will still be some time before we see the new power control units in production they are undergoing some rigorous testing and next month’s race will be one of their major tests to date.

The new unit in the TSO4O Hybrid has led to an increase in power of around 18 percent while fuel consumption has been cut by 25 percent.

Testing of the new units under normal road conditions is expected to begin within the next year so Toyota hasn’t gone cold on the development hybrid power technology. In fact they are pushing ahead with it and the future for hybrid power looks interesting

By | May 28th, 2014|Hybrid Vehicles|Comments Off on Toyota Advances Hybrid Power Technology

Australia Post Goes Electric

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Renault Kangoo electric van

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

Volvo Estate Concept

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

The Proton Exora

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

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

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

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

proton exora side view

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

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

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

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

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

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

proton exora dashboard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Standard safety features across the Proton Exora range include:

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

Additional safety features on the Proton Exora GXR include:

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

exora rear view

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


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

The Audi Sport quattro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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