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Is it Time for Extensive ‘Lemon’ Laws?

As recently as last month, consumer advocates and legal groups were once again campaigning for the introduction of extensive lemon laws. Australian consumer laws have long been considered inadequate for motorists who purchase new vehicles, only to see their purchase turn out to be a dud – in fact, a ‘lemon’.

This time, the lobbying extended further, with several groups joining together to put pressure on the government to make the necessary changes. With bodies such as the Consumer Credit Legal Service and Legal Aid NSW behind the push, are motorists overdue a change in legislation?

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Please Fasten Your Seatbelts

seatbeltWe all know that seatbelts save lives.  Why the Swedish inventor of the three-point seatbelt, Nils Bohlin of Volvo , didn’t get one of the Nobel Prizes for his invention, given the number of deaths his invention has prevented is something of a mystery.  He did get a medal of some sort during his lifetime and was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame, so that does give him some of the recognition he deserves.

However, there are those idiots who still don’t wear seat belts. One wants to bang the heads of these idiots against a wall until they see sense, except that (a) this would result in a serious assault charge and (b) if they keep on not wearing seatbelts, they’re going to bang their own heads against the steering wheel, dashboard or worse one of these days.

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2017 Hyundai Veloster Street Turbo: Private Fleet Car Review

Hyundai’s quirky four door hatchback, the Veloster, has been given a limited edition model run of just 200 units. Painted Dazzling Blue Mica and given some cool looking black clad alloys, the Veloster Street Turbo spent a week with Private Fleet.With a starting price of $35750 plus on roads for a six speed manual version and $2500 for the seven speed dual clutch auto, the Veloster Street Turbo is off to a tough start. Using the outgoing Veloster SR Turbo + as a base ($34750 + ORCs), as Hyundai have realigned the Veloster into a two tier range, means that some extra equipment is required to justify the cost.Here’s what you get: push button Start/Stop, keyless entry, dusk sensing HID xenon headlights, LED running lights, tyre pressure monitoring, a seven inch navitainment touchscreen (but no RDS, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto or digital), leather appointed seating with colour coded inserts, colour coded plastic highlights on the door grips and centre console, blue seatbelts, branded door mats and Street badging on the fenders and the sweet looking Ray Grams Lights 18 inch alloys. Being based on the SR+ you’ll get steering wheel mounted phone controls, Bluetooth streaming, heated AND ventilated (huzzah!!!) front seats and a punchy eight speaker sound system.Up front is the same 150 kilowatt/265 Newton metre 1.6 force fed four. That’s connected to the aforementioned six speed manual and this, unlike the recently tested i30 SR, has a far better manual selector feel. There’s a proper sense of movement and placement, a satisfying “snick” to the gate and a real mechanical feel overall as opposed to the numbness experienced in the i30 SR.That torque is available between 1750 and 4500 revs, and compared to the last time Private Fleet and Veloster Turbo partnered up (Veloster Turbo review 2015) didn’t seem to move the car along as quickly. Perhaps it would be the manual versus the auto, it simply didn’t feel as wound up. Having said that, it still provided a tractable and useable driving style, with a smooth and fluid torque delivery.The ratios in the manual are closely stacked, meaning revs drop only minimally when changing, and also means you can keep the engine spinning and take advantage of the torque from 1750 onwards. It helps that the clutch has a decent pressure requirement to push and that the pickup point is appropriately mid travel. The combination allows a sporting aimed driver to bang through the gears and see 100 kmh reasonably quickly. Given that the car isn’t that heavy as well, at around 1400 kg, the overall fuel consumption figure of 7.9L/100 km was reasonable from the fifty litre tank.Inside, apart from the blue trim, the Veloster remains much the same. The design and look of the plastics is dating and not well, there’s sharp edges on the door grab handles however the deeply bolstered and very comfortable bucket seats make up for that. Being the oddity that it is in regards to entry and exit, the driver has slightly less issue in getting in and out thanks to the single door on the right hand side. Those using the left side, especially the rear door, will have to duck their head and slide across the centre rear seat mounted cup holders in order to fill the space behind the driver. Rear head room, thanks to the steeply raked roofline, is a touch tight for average sized humans, ok for kids but would be, erm, difficult to deal with for anyone of a bigger frame. There is, though, a 320 litre cargo space and a space saver spare to consider.There’s more refinement in the suspension, with a taut yet supple suspension combination providing a ride that errs on the side of sport but with just enough give to not rattle the fillings on smooth roads. Toss the Veloster Street onto anything else and expect a choppy, jiggly, teeth rattler. That initial level of sporting compliance disappears and there’s even some sideways skip when covering a corner with ripples or broken surface, even with the 225/40/18 Hankook rubber.Hyundai painfully continues with the three mode power steering and it’s rare that any one the modes (Comfort/Sport/Normal) tend to be on the money. Sport generally comes over too heavy, Comfort too light and well, just like the porridge, Normal is generally all you need for a reasonable facsimile of a communicative tiller setup.

At The End Of The Drive.
Given the dollars required, one could buy the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ, a Renault Clio, or a Mazda MX-5 and have some seroes to spare. The Veloster’s aging interior is one thing, the exterior looks are another. The engine is usable but, in honesty, not the firecracker A Wheel Thing remembers. Their is a respectable five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, 12 months roadside assist, plus you’ll get a complimentary first service at 1500km. There’s also a lifetime service plan with scheduled services with prices ranging from $159 to $259 for the first three years or 45,000km. They’re due due every six months or 7500km.
There’s an undeniable appeal about the Veloster, however, with sales consistent and even a quarter of these two hundred already sold since release. More info can be found here: 2016 2017 Hyundai Veloster range and info

Tesla Takes The Next Step To Hands Free Driving.

It’s a topic that is cropping up more and more in conversation: will self driving cars become a reality? Nowadays the jury is leaning towards when, not if, and Tesla is at the front of the charge (no pun intended). Self-driving vehicles will play a crucial role in improving transportation safety and accelerating the world’s transition to a sustainable future. Full autonomy will enable a Tesla to be substantially safer than a human driver, lower the financial cost of transportation for those who own a car and provide low-cost on-demand mobility for those who do not.Tesla Model X

As of mid October 2016, all Tesla vehicles produced in the factory – including Model 3 – will have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver. Eight surround cameras provide 360 degree visibility around the car at up to 250 meters of range. Twelve updated ultrasonic sensors complement this vision, allowing for detection of both hard and soft objects at nearly twice the distance of the prior system. A forward-facing radar with enhanced processing (Tesla radar) provides additional data about the world on a redundant wavelength, capable of seeing through heavy rain, fog, dust and even the car ahead.

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Blue Oval Blues: The Demise Of An Icon.

October 7, 2016, just before 10 am in Melbourne, Victoria. We knew it was coming, we tried to deny it was coming but, inexorably, it arrived. The final Australian built Ford was rolled off the assembly line and the factory fell silent.
91 years. Three million, eight hundred and fifty three thousand, four hundred and thirty seven Falcons later, the last being an blue XR8 Sprint (an homage to the nameplate from the late 1960s), it’s over. Prior to the Sprint, there was a white Territory and a blue XR6. These cars were sold at an auction, raising money for charity. The FG-X Falcon XR6 sold for $81500, the ute XR6 went for $81000 and the Titanium Territory was passed to its new owner for $68500. However, there were three cars that Ford built without ID plates, making them unsaleable and will be kept by Ford for display in their

But there’s much more to Ford in Australia that the events of October, 2016. It’s not commonly known that Ford Australia was founded as an outpost of Ford Canada, a then separate part of Ford USA, as Henry Ford had granted manufacturing rights to Commonwealth countries, except for the UK, to Canadian investors. The very first cars built were assembled from CKD (complete knocked down) kits imported from Canada. These were built in a disused factory from June of 1925, just three months after Ford USA announced that Geelong would be the home of the Australian outpost. The car? The famous “Model T”.The-first-Ute-was-a-Ford

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Hyundai i30 SR: Private Fleet Car Review

Hyundai‘s i30 has quickly become a staple on Australian roads, taking the fight up to Ford’s Focus, Kia’s Cerato and Toyota’s Corolla. It’s an award winning car and for good reason, with a high quality level of fit and finish plus Australian tuning for the ride. Hyundai’s bundled everything into one package for the manual i30 SR and it comes out the other side holding its head up high.What a buyer will find in the near 1300 kilo SR is Hyundai’s non turboed Nu 2.0L gasoline direct injection engine, with peak power and torque of 124 kW and 201 Nm. Naturally, both come in at high revs, with 4700 of them needed to see peak torque. The transmisson is a six speed manual and it’s here, in the car provided, that something didn’t feel right. The gate mechanism is loose, sloppy, undefined, and changing from second to third to fourth and back feels as if the selector is moving up and down, not left to right to left.The clutch itself seemed initally quite soft and lacking in any real spring pressure, with a seemingly indeterminate pickup point on the travel, with the subsequent revving of the engine past where a normal pickup would bring them down telling the story. When it all gels, however, it’s smooth and usable, it just lacks a real presence.In amongst all this is a frugal powerplant, with a combined total, from the 50 litre tank, of just 7.0L per 100 kilometres. If you’re in freeway mode, 5.5L/100 km is what Hyundai quotes and around town is where a lighter foot may be needed, at 9.5L/100 km.The test car was painted Brilliant Red, matched by the Start/Stop button’s surround. Otherwise, the interior is standard i30, save for red additions and stitching to the seats, and alloy pedals. There’s a seven inch full colour navitainment touchscreen, sans RDS, a peculiarly Korean thing. There’s an impressive list of tech: Apple CarPlay is on board, as is Bluetooth audio, auto head lights, rain sensing wipers, dual zone climate control air conditioning, and auto windscreen defogging. There’s a reverse camera, hidden under the boot mounted badge that folds out and in. It’s a tad noisy and momentarily distracting. Behind the tail gate is 378 litres of usable cargo space, expanding to just over 1300 when the 60/40 split rear seats are folded.Outside there’s LED DRLs in the front, an SR badge on the rear along with two on the front flanks, gorgeous gunmetal grey tuning fork style alloys at 17 inches in diameter, shod in 225/45 Nexen rubber. It’s Hyundai’s fluidic design in profile with the headlights flowing back into the guards, bracketing the newish corporate grille that is a one piece design. It’s cohesive, good looking and suits the colour the test car was covered in.It also cuts a fine figure on the road. Hyundai’s engineered a wonderful road holding chassis, with tenacious grip, a beautifully weighted steering feel using the Normal mode (it feels too artificially heavy in Sports, too light in Comfort), a ride quality that balances front and rear in the way the SR rebounds from bumps and undulating roads, thanks to revalved dampers and retuned springs. Even on unsettled and broken surfaces, it ducks and weaves through them with aplomb, exhibiting a high level of body control. And although it’s a normally aspirated engine, there’s enough pluck in the powerplant to provide enough performance without seeming underpowered. Rev through the numbers and there’s a steady pull through the range without running out of puff at the top end.

At The End Of The Drive.
The SR raises the i30 above the entry level and sits comfortably below the Premium, offers a well thought out feature list and priced from $25590 plus ORCs it’s a good value package. On the road it’s a solid handler, with a willing enough engine, with the weakspot being the lacklustre gear selector. Work around that and the i30 SR stands out as a suitable alternative to the Japanese big sellers. Go here:Hyundai i30 SR for more info.

Why Don’t Car Ads Target Women?

Just in case you haven’t noticed, this is 2016 (the latter half of 2016 at that).  This isn’t Saudi Arabia. In other words, there are just as many women as there are men holding drivers’ licences in this part of the world (although I haven’t checked the exact stats).  However, the people who make the car ads don’t seem to have caught up on this.  Pause and think about all the car ads that you’ve seen recently.  Not many of them feature women as the driver, except for a few for people-movers that show Mum ferrying around tons of kids (has anyone told these advertisers that this isn’t the 1950s?).

This situation was nicely highlighted by a team of comedians (female ones) from across the Tasman in this rather popular video clip (please excuse the four-letter words) that parodies a Holden Colorado ad:

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Was an Exit Ford’s Only Option?

Last week marked the end of an era for the automotive industry within Australia. After 91 years, the blue oval badge that many Australians came to love called time on the local manufacturing of its vehicles. The day was a bittersweet moment. On the one hand, the brand, the company and its tireless employees were recognised for their invaluable contributions over the years.

Sadly however, an abundance of job losses as well as the demise of a true Australian icon will leave a void within the nation’s proud history and culture. The manufacturer’s peers are in no better position, with Toyota and Holden also approaching the end of local production in 2017. But was this the only option available? Was it possible for Ford’s local manufacturing operations to be spared a lifeline?

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HSV Clubsport R8 Track Edition: Holden Special Vehicles Goes To Bathurst

There’s a calling that emanates from a relatively innocuous hill in the central west of New South Wales. But this bump in the earth’s surface, just to the south of the former gold mining town of Bathurst, is home to a road that doubles as a race track and, once a year, becomes the home of “The Great Race“. That calling, to a place known as “The Mountain”, to Mount Panorama, entices the faithful and the dedicated with their almost tribal allegiances to a driver or a team, and since the 1990s, has coloured their blood red or blue exclusively. You’re either a Holden bloke or a Ford bloke, such is the Special Vehicles, HSV, was born out of the breakdown in the relationship between car manufacturer, Holden, and its formerly favourite son, race car driver Peter Brock. Brock had taken over the running of the Holden Dealer Team and had formed an after market division, which eventually lead to Holden breaking off their supply deal. In 1987, Holden signed an agreement with Scottish born driver and businessman, Tom Walkinshaw, forming a joint venture that was named Holden Special Vehicles.2017-hsv-clubsport-r8-track-edition-bonnet-badgeOne of the first products of that union was based on the Holden VL Commodore; HSV fitted an aerodynamically tested body kit, painted in a silver with hints of blue. Known colloquially as “The Batmobile” due to the add ons, the Holden VL Commodore SS Group A SV would set the tone for many of the following products.2017-hsv-r8-clubsport-track-edition-sill-badgingIn 2016, HSV unveiled two limited edition models. Using the Clubsport as the donor, there is the Limited Edition SV Black, available in both sedan and ute bodies. The other is a car that harkens directly to the history of motorsport and was driven in Bathurst, the HSV Clubsport R8 Track Edition. Clad in “Sting” red paint, with yellow AP Racing brake calipers visible through gunmetal grey “Blade” alloys at 20 inches in diameter, the Track Edition makes for an ideal way to nod at Australia’s diverse and rich motorsport Panorama is unique amongst the world’s motorsport circuits; its peak is 874 metres above sea level and there’s a height differential of 174 metres between the peak and the lowest point of the track, the starting straight. There’s slopes as tight as one in six and a corner said to have the highest tyre load of any race circuit in Australia plus the fastest corner in touring car racing. There’s a couple of cold isn’t cold is the warmth the place generates for the fans of motorsport that make the annual pilgrimage “out west”. There’s good natured rivalry, with supporters of the red and the blue sharing campsites, gags, memories and, importantly, a love of a good Track Edition packs a 340 kW/570 Nm 6.2L LS3 V8, pinched from Chevrolet. There’s a real transmission, a six speed manual, with an almost too light clutch. It’s unlike older cars, where the joke ran along the lines of being able to tell a HSV owner due to the size of the calf muscle in the left leg. It’s easy to push and balance on the throttle when required and it helps that the gear selector is couched in a definitive feeling gate mechanism. There’s a satisfying snick/snick/snick as you change up or down, as satisfying as the sound of a cold one being opened in the camping grounds.2017-hsv-r8-clubsport-track-edition-bootIt’s a big heart, the LS3 V8. There’s a bore of near as dammit 104 mm, a stroke of 92 mm, with a free revving nature to boot. That peak power comes in at a typically high 6000 rpm, and the peak torque at 4600 rpm. It’s a gentle upwards slope for that torque, though, with just over 400 of them waiting to be told what to do at just 1000 revs. Just like the denizens that pack The Mountain every October, it’s easy going, relaxed, unfussed…until it’s pushed. Leave it in sixth at legal speed and press the loud pedal. It’s called the loud pedal for a good reason. There’s a low, long, subterranean, growl that builds and builds and builds from the front, as the induction system sucks in litres and litres of air, mixing with dinosaur juice and spitting out the remains via the quad exhaust.2017-hsv-r8-clubsport-track-edition-engine-badgeThat quad exhaust is linked to a dial in the humble looking cabin. There’s a choice of Touring, Sport and Performance. Leave the dial on Touring and at idle you’d be pressed to say the engine’s running. Move it to either of the other two and a pair of baffles open in the inner banks of the mufflers, opening the throat of the LS3 and letting the world know it’s an eight in a vee. From a standing start and driven the way a muscle bound car should be sees license goodby speeds reached in a few seconds, a roaring, chest thumping snarl from both ends as you pluck the gears, easily finding each cog as the beautifully weighted selector falls to hand and the clutch and accelerator dance in unison. At Northern Territory legal speeds, the engine is barely ticking over at 2000 rpm.2017-hsv-r8-clubsport-track-edition-front-seatsThe MacPherson struts up front and multilink rear end are sprung with linear rate coil springs and for a car weighing over 1800 kilos it’s adept, comfortable in the ride, eats unsettled surfaces and totally undermines any perception that a muscle car should be uncoordinated in the way it drives. Even the electrically augmented steering is light, two fingertip light and responds instantly, changing the direction of the red machine instantly, as the Continental 275/35/20 tyres grip at either end of the 2915 mm wheelbase.2017-hsv-r8-clubsport-track-edition-boot-wingThe suspension is taut, specially engineered to give an intoxicating mix of Supercar inferring ride, a superbly flat stance into corners and that slow in/fast out response a track aimed driver expects. In fact, the whole package is genuinely one your gran could drive, it’s that docile to use when not exploring the outer limits of the ability the Track Edition has. The car industry uses the term “surprise and delight” to describe certain aspects of a car and that applies to the way the HSV flows on the road.2017-hsv-clubsport-r8-track-edition-bathurst-hell-cornerInside, the lack of visual differentation is a surprise and not entirely a delight. HSV eschews the fabric stitched into the centre line that the donor vehicles have but has stayed with the dash mounted fabric found in the Holden SS. There’s the standard dash plastic and layout, with Holden’s MyLink touchscreen systen with Pandora and Stitcher apps. HSV’s EDI, Electronic Driver Interface, didn’t seem to be enabled in this car. There’s a thumping Bose sound system, beautiful in its clarity buck lacking a DAB tuner.2017-hsv-r8-clubsport-track-edition-touchscreenIt’s hard to suggest any changes however as 2017 beckons and with it the knowledge that Australia’s Own will close the doors as a big car maker down under.2017-hsv-clubsport-r8-track-edition-pole-positionIt’s an engine of many personalities, the LS3, just like those found around the camp sites at The Mountain, especially those at the top, called Skyline. A Wheel Thing commentated from the tower there in the mid noughties, alongside the great Barry Oliver, with an enduring memory being watching Army helicopters doing aerobatics…below the level of Skyline. 2017-hsv-clubsport-r8-track-edition-bathurstIt provides a sweeping vista north, across the circuit, over Bathurst itself and east to the western fringe of the Blue Mountains. Regulars will have their campsites setup with heaters, fencing, signs, and the obligatory ambers on ice. There’s jackets adorned with badges, faces adorned with beards, and kids faces wreathed in smiles when the HSV R8 Clubsport Track Edition visits the top of The’ve got the dial set to Touring, so as to not draw the ire of the campers as we seek a suitable site for some pictures. Photo session over, it’s into the campsite and espy a site with both the blue and red colours on the flags. Photographer Scott grins and says he has an idea. Moments later the rear of the red car is up against the fenceline, with a horde of the curious swarming over the car. They note the working bonnet air vents, the lack of visual identification that it’s a Track Edition outside, door sill and centre console the only places Track Edition is mentioned.2017-hsv-clubsport-r8-track-edition-front-left-wheelThere’s an eyeballing of the body coloured and black wing, the contrasting black inserts in the front bumper against the red and the slim black skirting along the sills of the near five metre long machine…a Ford bloke nudges his Holden mate and points towards the yellow six piston calipers from AP racing with HSV embossing, visible through those “Blade” alloys. Comments are made about the gloss black highlight of the bonnet badge, with the consensus being that it looks wrong. “Where’s the chrome?” asks one. Another in the crowd asks “Howsitgomateorright?” A nod, a smile and then the inevitable question…”Can we check out the donk?”2017-hsv-r8-clubsport-track-edition-engineThe aluminuim bonnet is lifted and instantly the population around the car doubles, as does the number of cameraphones. The engine’s being quietly idling in the background, feeding the dual zone aircon a steady flow of cooling air inside, across the non heated or cooled leather seats and suede wrapped steerer.2017-hsv-r8-clubsport-track-edition-bonnet-ventsIt takes only a moment’s breath before “Goonmategiveitago!” The 6.3L alloy block snarls in response, effortlessly sending the mechanical needle spinning past the over emphasised numbers on the tacho, eliciting a cheer from the red lion faithful, an appreciative nod from some of the blue oval brethren, before one grins, walks away, and starts up his blue oval badged V8 to answer the challenge issued by the HSV. It’s no contest, say many, the red car sounds best.2017-hsv-clubsport-r8-track-edition-tail-lightsThere’s a price to pay for that exuberance. You can’t call 6.2 litres of Chevrolet’s finest economical, unless you own Saudi Arabia. Even those few stabs on the throttle have shifted the fuel needle, as fuel is sucked in from the 71 litre tank, nestled near the 496 litre boot.. The LS3 prefers a liquid diet of 98 RON unleaded and will show nothing less than 12.0L of liquid gold being consumed for every 100 kilometres covered, and that on the return trip from The Mountain on a greasy highway after light crowd have dispersed, with many words of thanks, plenty of pictures taken, and thoughts turn towards the coming weekend of endurance racing at the Mountain. HSV is inextricably linked with the history of the place, with Tom Walkinshaw himself having raced in a Jaguar XJ-S. The Track Edition, at $68990, is a wonderful nod and counterpoint to The Great Race, with Holden Special Vehicles building just 150 of the car for Australia and six for New Zealand, making it a rarity, unlike the variety of characters found around Mount Panorama.2017-hsv-clubsport-r8-track-edition-left-front-quarter-skylineHSV was born, in a way, of The Mountain, so it was fitting to take the Track Edition there. The place is iconic, there’s names etched forever into the history of Mount Panorama and motorsport runs deep in the souls of those that journey there every year for their annual pilgrimage. That’s the allure of The Mountain and the allure of HSV.

Go here for the latest in HSV’s range:

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Weird, Wild and Wacky Concept Cars – Maybe

It’s a pity that the Tokyo Motor Show only comes around every two years.  This is because this particular motor show is famous – or should that be notorious – for revealing some rather unusual concept cars.  Yes, the world also gets to see some great new developments from the top Japanese manufacturers and designers, but we also love looking at and laughing at some of the downright crazy ideas that some designers come up with.

Mind you, are they that crazy? After all, speculation, imagination, exploring the limits of what’s possible and trying new things is how new technologies are invented.  However, some ideas are crazier than others.  Take the following offerings from the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show.

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