Once upon a time cars came in three sizes: small, medium, and large. Once upon a time you could buy a Jaguar in just one size. Large. Now there’s a choice of SUV, sports, small medium and medium large and of course, large. The relatively new and all alloy XE (compared to the bigger XF) fits into the small medium size. Why small?It’s a compact sedan, with emphasis on compact. It’s just 4672 mm long, 2075 mm (with mirrors extended) wide and stands just 1416 mm high. That puts it right into the same ring as the BMW 3 series and Mercedes-Benz C Class. For two normal sized people in the front, there’s just enough room. For the two in the back, because it’s not really wide enough for three abreast to be truly comfortable, rear leg room is then severely compromised. With two sub ten year old children on the rear pews, the front seats have to be moved forward to provide some measure of comfort for them.Odd given the wheel base is a relatively large, compared to overall length, 2835 mm, an inch longer than the 3 series and 5 mm shorter than M-B’s C Class. Also, the British contender has a slightly larger turning circle than both, at 11.66 metres compared to 11 for the continentals.
Those same front seats become a problem for drivers even of average height, with the seats needing to be lowered to allow some head space…but that then compromised, somewhat, forward vision and the need to look out the window in certain parking situations, regardless of the reverse camera and guidance lines, because sometimes cars go forward into tight spaces and there’s the lingering doubt about clearance for the alloys and scraping on concrete…There’s also the matter of the steeply raked front screen, with the roof line meeting the glass directly over the driver and passenger’s head. Given the S had a glass roof, which drops the lining by a crucial inch or so, it just doesn’t work ergonomically. BUT, at least the designers have given the rear seat passengers a bit of extra head room.The interior design of the XE also intrudes into space; the flying buttress wraps around into the bottom of the windscreen nicely however it also curves in at the top along the doors, potentially making driver and passenger a touch liable for claustrophobia. Even the power window switches are oddly placed, perched uncomfortably on the top level of plastic.
With new automotive technology rampaging on it seems that we’ll be able to buy our own 3D-printed cars. The world’s first 3D printed car is called “Strati” and is made by Local Motors, and is reportedly going on sale during 2016.
Did you know that most vehicles that we drive around in today are made up using around 2000 parts? Local Motors indicate that the Strati is made up from just 40 parts. Mechanical parts like the suspension, motors and battery are sourced from a Renault Twizy – which is a battery-powered two-seater electric city car designed and marketed by Renault. Everything else on the Strati is made up of integrated single material pieces. These pieces include the exterior shell, frame and some of the interior features, which have been printed using ABS plastic that has been reinforced with carbon fibre.
Range Rover’s TDV6 is the entry level model to the Range Rover Sport family and has some omissions surprising to find in a luxury SUV. We’ll come to them shortly.
What’s important here is the engine. It’s an impressive piece of earth rotating machinery, with torque enough to twist Superman’s arm. What it also delivers is an engaging driver experience, aurally and physically, shoving the passengers backwards whilst reeling in the horizon, complete with a snarl from the exhaust and a most undiesel like growl from the front. Impressive stuff from a 2115 kilo machine.
The reason for the excitement is a V6 of 3.0 litres capacity; there’s a whopping 600 torques (peak) at just 2000 rpm with a suitably eyebrow raising 190 kW at 4000 revs. It’s the redline figure for this that raises the eyebrow further, with 6000 rpm the end of the line here. It’s a figure that only the most churlish and disliking of torque will see, or someone that likes to think about engines self destructing from revs, as that torque really is all you should need to know.
In one corner of the ring, we have the arch nemesis of taxi drivers and motoring manufacturers – the ridesharing phenomenon. In the other corner, we have the antihero of all ‘motorheads’ – the self-driving car. But as consumers and pundits alike take sides in this battle to determine the future direction of driving, is it possible the two will co-exist and operate in harmony?
On the one hand, ridesharing has been around for several years now and is far from a new concept. In fact, while everyone automatically thinks of Uber, and it is by recognition synonymous with ridesharing, other players have been operating in the market for just as long, or with a different purpose – a community focus, one that allows people to share costs, and reduce the burden on the environment, by riding together. In the US alone, 15 million consumers are anticipated to use a P2P transportation system this year.
BMW’s latest M car, the rear wheel drive, six speed manual transmission BMW M2, has taken out the coveted “Australia’s Best Driver’s Car” award.
The testing to find a winner was conducted by motoring.com.au, part of the Carsales Network. The cars are shipped to Tasmania and driven hard to evaluate them over the course of a week, including roads used during Targa Tasmania.
When you have a look at the cars on the road, most of them are typically roomy and comfortable to drive. The bulk of the cars seem to be medium-to-large vehicles, with a few small cars thrown in for good measure. With our ever increasing desire to buy a new SUV, perceiving that driving such a vehicle will make the drive a safer one, it seems that cars on our roads are increasing in size. Trends like the increasing SUV market suggests that consumers are really wanting that bigger vehicle with space and style to boot. So what are the factors making the cars bigger on our roads?
Toyota has long been regarded as the Corolla car company and that’s fair enough. However the brand also made its mark by producing the tough as nuts Landcruiser. Production and release goes back to 1951 with the FJ nameplate coming into being in 1954. It’s proven to be a solid and dependable vehicle, selling world wide and conquering the harshest environments. In the early 2000s a secret design group commenced work on a new “Rugged Youth Utility” vehicle. Sharing much of the Prado underpinnings, such as the ladder bar chassis, the FJ Cruiser quickly gained popularity after finally being exposed to the public and news broke of its off road capability.A Wheel Thing tested the FJ recently and found that the car’s off road capability is limited by the driver. Fitted with a swag of electronic aids (and, somewhat surprisingly, automatic only) plus a high and low range transfer case, it’s a high tech trekker with a low tech history.The powerplant is Toyota’s 200 “killerwasps” V6, albeit in four litre guise and pushing out the grunt via a five speed automatic, via the front wheels predominantly. A press of a button locks the REAR diff plus there’s a variable speed CRAWL control, allowing the driver to move at a slow but constant velocity across terrain. Backing that up is A-TRC, diverting torque to each corner on demand and adapting to the driven ratio, be it high or low range. Naturally there’s plenty of the normal driver aids such as brake force distribution, ABS, airbags and more. The off road ability is given extra oomph with approach and departure angles of 36 and 31 degrees, ground clearance of 224 mm and a side or break over angle of 29 degrees. The huge tyres, 265/70/17 in size, along with the near 2700mm wheelbase and track of close to 1900mm add their muscle to the Cruiser’s strength.
On the road it’s quiet inside the basically appointed cabin, with tyre roar muted until you push hard into a turn. It’s also a good idea to plan about a few seconds before hand, as the tyres, being a dual purpose setup, aren’t a fan of being told to turn hard on tarmac, protesting audibly. Being a high sidewall height helps absorb bump/thump and provides a smooth compliant ride. Acceleration is leisurely when under way, with peak torque of 380Nm coming in at a surprisingly high 4400rpm. It requires a severe prod of the go pedal to provoke some excitement in changing gears, with the engine and exhaust emitting a somewhat monotone drone. Seating is comfortable, supportive and easily adjustable whilst the dash is simply laid out with black on white dials.
Toyota is set to bid a fond farewell to the FJ Cruiser, a retro-inspired rugged off-roader that became an instant classic when it was launched in Australia in 2011.
The FJ Cruiser will end its production run in August with Australians having bought more than 11,000 vehicles at an average of 180 a month – a considerably higher rate than originally expected.
Race-cars and super-cars have plenty of power, and sometimes this can be a handful to manage when accelerating quickly away from a standstill. There is some special technology that new muscle cars now have which enables optimum power and traction for the best fast getaway. The better the launch control system, the faster the getaway. So how does a decent launch control system work?
Launch control is a clever piece of technology which acts electronically to balance the optimum ratio of power with enough traction so as to get the car moving forward from a standstill with minimal wheel spin. The quickest getaways come from the best systems that control the colossal levels of optimum power under hard acceleration with the amount of wheel spin. Wheel spin under hard acceleration suggests that the tyres are unable to grab at the road because of excessive torque reaching the driving wheels. Too much torque and power results in the tyres losing grip on the road, and there is a lack of forward motion at this point. Launch control systems, electronically, allow an input of an optimum amount of engine revs that will provide enormous but not too much power at the driving wheels. A rapid and defined engagement of the clutch also occurs so that a mistimed human clutch progression is nullified. Electronically managed wheel spin, at take-off, results in smoother, quicker acceleration.
The Toyota HiLux SR5 sits at the top of the tree for the popular range; A Wheel Thing tested the 4.0L petrol engined four door version recently and was left with the impression that Ford, Holden, Mitsubishi etc shouldn’t be worried…
For a four wheel drive capable ute, a torquey engine should be the go. This is where diesels are ideal for this class of car and yes, there’ll be those that will consider off roading going through a puddle on their front lawn, therefore a petrol donk is the go. Due to the high revving nature (3800 for peak torque of 376 Nm) and low gear ratios, the 4.0L V6 isn’t able to get the SR5 off the line all that quickly, needing something around 3000 plus to see something approaching alacrity…it wasn’t the thriftiest of things, as a result, with around 13.0L of its chosen 95 RON tipple per 100 km the end result from a 80 litre tank.