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The Driverless Audi At The Racetrack

Driverless AudiWell, I guess we saw this one coming as soon as the driverless car concept started becoming more than being reserved for use by science fiction authors.  Audi has been doing some tinkering to find out if a driverless car can get faster lap times than a conventionally driver car.

For most of the designers and other boffins playing around with driverless cars (i.e. Google, Volvo and Toyota), safety is the main idea.  Human error is the main cause of car accidents, so by getting technology to do it, the human error is thus eliminated (although I’m reminded of the saying that came out in the 1980s: To err is human but if you really want to stuff things up, use a computer).  However, when Audi started modifying an Audi RS7 to make it into a driverless car, the idea was to see if a fully computerised driverless car could do it faster than a real person.

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Is A Hybrid Vehicle Right For You?

hybridEver since Toyota came out with the landmark Prius, the first hybrid car to really capture public attention, more and more manufacturers have been coming out with hybrid engines. Everybody’s doing it, from Mercedes-Benz to Nissan (well, not quite everybody, but you know what I mean).  You might be running your eyes through the reviews we have here at Private Fleet and wondering if a hybrid will be right for you. Surely, you ask yourself, a hybrid will be cheaper to run and better for the planet.  Why shouldn’t I buy a hybrid car?

The answer to this question is yes and no.  It really depends on you and your situation, just like it does for any other vehicle.  To help you find out whether you should consider a hybrid, ask yourself the following handful of questions:

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Holden Racing Team Lose Out As Holden Drinks Red Bull.

Holden has confirmed its commitment to Supercars and motorsport in Australia, announcing a new three-year deal with Triple Eight Race Engineering to form the Red Bull Holden Racing Team from 2017.

triple8-redbull2014

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What’s Driving the Push for Ethanol Fuel?

Despite years failing to gain traction at the bowser, the NSW government recently paved the way for changes that will renew its efforts to increase the availability and uptake of E10 petrol across the state. For those unfamiliar, in 2007 the NSW government set a mandate for 6% of all fuel sold across the state to be E10.

To date however, uptake has been limited to well below 3%, as motorists shun the product in favour of premium fuels. Through laws, which are expected to come into effect from September, businesses which were previously exempt from selling ethanol-blended fuel will now be required to sell the product. It has also been announced that in 2017, $4.5m will be spent on advertising to clarify the “myths” surrounding E10.

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Private Fleet Car Review: 2016 Suzuki Vitara Turbo 2WD

2016 Suzuki Vitara Turbo 2WD profileSuzuki’s Vitara range has been given some extra spice with the addition of the 1.4 litre BoosterJet turbocharged engine. Available in AllGrip 4WD or front wheel 2WD, it also comes in a range of eye catching colours and subtle differences to the standard Vitara range. A Wheel Thing gets intimate with a fiery metallic orange and black 2WD version of the Suzuki Vitara Turbo.2016 Suzuki Vitara Turbo 2WD engineThink 1.4L engines and you’d be forgiven for thinking that there’d be less pull than oil on an iceblock. Instead there’s a surprisingly useful 220 torques from the BoosterJet powerplant, plus 103 kilowatts. You get a choice of one automatic transmission and that’s a six speed too. It’s a mostly well sorted drivetrain however there’s a couple of bumps: there is bump steer, a measure of torque steer but only if pushed, the transmission drops down gears too readily when descending hills and there is some indecision when it comes to finding a gear on upshifts on certain throttle settings.

When everything works together, it’s a smooth and linear acceleration, typical of turbo engines and the pace certain belies the engines relatively small size. However, the Vitara is not a heavy car at 1160 kilos (2WD, 1235 kg AllGrip) so it’s a fabulous torque to weight ratio. Final fuel consumption figures were 5.7 litres of 95 RON unleaded for every one hundred kilometres, from the 42 litre tank. Suzuki quotes 5.9L/100 km for the combined cycle.

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Suzuki Goes Back To The Future For The Baleno.

Suzuki has resurrected a nameplate that, in its day, managed to sell solidly. The Baleno has returned, bringing with it both a familiar yet updated look and splashes of modern technology. There’s a two model range with a GL manual and auto and the range topping GLX Turbo.Baleno GL 1

Here’s the skinny on the revamped Baleno.

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Private Fleet Car Review: 2016 Suzuki Swift GL Navigator

2016 Suzuki Swift Navigator night profileUnder the Suzuki banner, Swift is a nameplate that has been a staple of the brand and was, once, shared by Holden as a Barina. Allegedly, Holden had the lowest warranty return of any of their vehicles when using that car as a source…In the latter half of the “noughties” Suzuki revamped the Swift, giving it a look not dissimilar to a couple of well known smaller cars. They even released a sports version, with a (then) grunty 1.6 litre engine and a six speed manual as the only transmission option.2016 Suzuki Swift Navigator profileSince then there’s been some slight bodywork changes, such as headlights and tail lights faired back into the sheetmetal. A Wheel Thing takes on the mid spec GL Swift in 2016, called the Navigator.2016 Suzuki Swift Navigator engineUp front is a non turbo 1.4 litre engine, with 70 kilowatts at 6000 rpm and a reasonable, for the engine’s size, 130 torques at 4000 rpm. Suzuki, however, hobble it by fitting a four speed automatic (there is a five speed manual as standard) to the test car. It’s here where either a five or six speed auto OR a properly calibrated CVT would be a better option, as to get anything resembling overtaking speed requires a solid press of the go pedal. It drops from fourth to second in order to get something happening. A better spread of gears would help, one should think.

At least, like all of the Suzukis tested by A Wheel Thing, you can wave an oily rag at one and cover a fair distance. The Swift is no different, sipping 5.5 litres of 91 RON per one hundred kilometres of distance driven for a combined cycle, from a 42 litre tank in the manual and a slightly higher yet no less worthwhile 6.2 for the auto, says Suzuki. A Wheel Thing was in a mainly urban environment and saw 400 klicks at a half tank used.2016 Suzuki Swift Navigator front seatsInside it’s a mix of textured and shiny black plastic on the dash (visibly reflecting in the windscreen), cloth covered seats in a dark grey and charcoal weave, no centre console as such but a couple of bottle/cup holders, cruise and audio controls on the tiller plus Bluetooth for the phone and audio. The Navigator gts its name due to the stylish seven inch touchscreen with (surprise) satellite navigation and CD. 2016 Suzuki Swift Navigator dashIt’s intuitive to use, looks good but has a really odd programming where the warning screen you need to touch to view everything else stays on until you touch it. All. Of. The. Time. It doesn’t auto switch off, unlike other brands, to display the satnav or radio screens, for example, it’ll stay there until you turn the car off.

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Metal Beasts: Cars That Are Named After Animals

beetleWhen the marketing team for a new vehicle put their heads together, they put a lot of thought into the name. At least that’s the theory. With some marques, they stick with a system of numbers and letters that let you know some of the details about the car, such as the engine size (this is the preferred method of Mercedes-Benz and BMW).  Other manufacturers pick an actual name: a word that will stick in the memory of potential customers and possibly capture what the spirit of the vehicle is.  Often, the design team look to the animal world for images of beauty, speed and possible danger; alternatively, they give them cute, cuddly names that are likely to appeal to the more family-friendly segment of the market.

Here’s a selection of vehicles that have already been named after animals:

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Red Centre Nats Continues The Street Machine Tradition

It’s said that the very first car race happened just a few minutes after the second car came off the production line. It’s also said that the first modifications to make a car go faster came just after that first race….by the driver that came second.

It wasn’t long after that when drivers began to modify their cars for looks, not just pace. And thus was street machining born. Aussie based magazine, “Street Machine” begat the now iconic Summernats, Australia’s largest street machine festival, in Canberra…that’s now given birth to an event that’s based in the centre of the country and has already been run once. September 2016 sees the return of the Red Centre Nats.

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Tesla Australia Releases Model X Pricing.

Tesla Model X 75DTesla recently unveiled the Model X, their fully electric SUV. There will be four models in the range: 60D, 75D, 90D and P90D. The latter is expected to offer over 460 kilometres of battery powered range, a zero to one hundred kmh time of 3.4 seconds, thanks to all wheel drive grip, and a top speed limited to 250 kmh.Tesla Model X interiorTesla Australia has released pricing for the Model X, on a state by state basis. Prices start with the recommended retail price (RRP), then include luxury car tax (LCT) and follow up with stamp duty (SD), registration costs (RC) and compulsory third party insurance (CPI).

For the Model X 60D:
Australia wide: $111900.00 RRP, with LCT $122812.20 starting price.
Victoria: $6396.00 SD + $376.00 RC + $503.00 CPI = $130087.20
New South Wales: $5425.00 + $575.00 + $623.00 = $129255.20
Queensland: $2458.00 + $366.40 + $329.60 + $125966.20
Australian Capital Territory: $0.00 + $1146.00 + No CPI + $123958.20
Northern Territory: $3687.00 + $613.85 + No CPI = $127113.05
South Australia: $4856.00 + $285.00 + $449.00 = $128402.20
Tasmania: $4916.00 + $241.03 + $338.00 = $128307.03
Western Australia: $7982.00 + $493.00 + $409.35 = $131696.55

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