Search Results for ""

Grey Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid front end Long Term Log: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, Part 1

Time on test: 6 weeks
Total test time: 12 weeks
Mileage on test: 1,500km
Fuel economy on test: 6.2L/100km

The latest Toyota RAV4 burst onto the SUV scene earlier this year, sporting better driving dynamics, a more plush interior, and an emphasis on fuel-saving hybrid engines. We were so impressed with the RAV4 that we’ve brought one into our long-term fleet.

Wearing three hybrid badges – one on the tail, two on the flanks – the new 2019 Toyota RAV4 certainly doesn’t shy away from demonstrating its fuel-saving cred. And so it should: hybrid power is the RAV4’s major unique selling point in the crowded Australian car market. You’ll find a plethora of decent choices with petrol or diesel engines, but the RAV4 is the first really affordable hybrid SUV to be brought to Australia.

Nutmeg leather option on Toyota RAV4 Cruiser
Our RAV4 Hybrid features the rare ‘Nutmeg’ interior option.

If that results in real fuel savings at the bowser, then hybrid tech is likely to be embraced by a much larger cohort of Australian car buyers. The low running costs of hybrid Toyotas have long made them a mainstay of this country’s taxi fleet but making hybrid engines appeal to the substantial number of private SUV buyers out there is a big priority of the new RAV4.

We’re six weeks into a twelve week run at integrating the new Toyota RAV4 into our lives, where it’s doing diverse duties – some weeks as a commuter, some as a long-distance road tripper and even some as a light off-roader.

Grey Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid driving
We’ll be subjecting the RAV4 to a number of driving disciplines.

From the RAV4 range, We chose the high-specification but remarkably affordable RAV4 Cruiser AWD grade, which goes for $39,140 with a conventional petrol two-litre, while adding the hybrid battery pack (that also beefs up the petrol engine to 2.5-litres) costs another $2,500. AWD adds a further $3,000. Wearing graphite grey metallic paint and a contrast sandy leather interior, our RAV4 hits the road at $49,624 driveaway.

Given this SUV weighs in at a hefty 1,710 kg before you load passengers and cargo, we were a little sceptical that a small electric motor and battery would provide enough motivation in the RAV4 to prevent the old-school, non-turbo petrol engine from carrying most of the load most of the time.

After all, the RAV4 AWD’s battery capacity is fairly modest – 1.9kWh, with the two electric motors mounted on the front axle producing 88kW and the rear electric motor – added if you opt for AWD – producing 40kW. It’s fascinating to compare those stats to the cheapest all-electric SUV offer – the $60k Hyundai Kona Electric, which has 64kWh of capacity and produces 150kW of power.

Grey Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid front end
Do you need the Cruiser, or will a lower-spec grade do? We’ll find out.

If our first month-and-a-half of motoring is a guide, though, these concerns were unfounded. The hybrid system is more than powerful enough to take over during significant tracts of driving – especially at town speeds, where the RAV4 takes off from a stop in pure-EV before the engine kicks in, usually around 25km/h. We’re finding that once we have built up to about 50km/h, a lift of the throttle re-engages EV mode where it is happy to mostly maintain pace with the engine off.

The real beauty of hybrids over their more sophisticated full-electric counterparts is that this system requires no management from the driver. Charging the battery is done mostly by braking, with the occasional use of the petrol engine as a generator.

Grey Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid rear end
Is the new RAV4 now the easiest medium SUV to recommend? We’ll see.

With around 60% of our first 1,500km being spent in-town, our current fuel economy of 6.2L/100km is very low for this segment and is within a reasonable margin of Toyota’s official claim of 4.8L/100km. Also impressive is the fact that town economy doesn’t seem to suddenly blow out with four passengers and cargo aboard.

This sort of economy figure is achievable by the most frugal of turbo diesel SUVs, but the petrol engine used by the RAV4 produces cleaner emissions and doesn’t actually require a particularly economical driving style to reproduce. We haven’t been deliberately light on the throttle!

We’re looking forward to the second half of our test, where we’ll continue to monitor our RAV4’s fuel consumption and resulting CO2 production, but also delve into more depth about this SUV’s upgraded interior, how practical the new RAV4 is, and whether you actually need a Cruiser grade – or if the cheaper GX or GXL are a better buy.

Read more

2020 Audi Q3 Sportback front end orange Audi Q3 Sportback coming to Australia in 2020

Audi’s first small-size coupe-SUV will debut in Australia in the first half of 2020. The Audi Q3 Sportback takes the as-yet-unlaunched second-generation Q3 SUV, lops part of the tailgate off and adds a little extra muscularity to the rear fenders.

In contrast to the more traditional and upright 2020 Q3, the Q3 Sportback features a longer, lower and more rakish roofline. Joining the Audi Q8 (reviewed here) as the brand’s second coupe-SUV, the Q3 Sportback marks yet another iteration of the front-drive MQB chassis within Ingolstadt’s range.

2020 Audi Q3 Sportback rear end orange
A chopped roofline joins pumped-up rear-end styling.

With the conventional Q3 arriving before the end of 2019, the Sportback will arrive around six months later, though specifics relating to the engine and pricing of the ‘coupe’ variant are not yet known. Expect pricing to kick off around $55,000.

It is likely, however, that the Q3 Sportback will be offered with a premium engine in relation to the Q3 range and it will likely be all-wheel-drive only. In Australia, our money would be on the ‘45 TFSI’ engine – a two-litre turbo petrol producing 169kW/350Nm. Globally, a diesel will also be offered badged ‘35 TDI’, making 110kW/340Nm.

2020 Audi Q3 Sportback interior
The Sportback’s cabin largely mirrors that of the new Q3.

Later there is the potential of a lower-specification turbo petrol, which will uniquely pack a 48-volt mild hybrid system that will marginally cut fuel use.

Inside, the Sportback comprehensively borrows from the standard Q3’s interior, with a standard 10.1-inch central touchscreen and digital instrumentation in one of two grades. In Australia, expect to see the higher-end ‘Virtual Cockpit’ driver’s display measing 12.3-inches included as standard.

2020 Audi Q3 Sportback boot space
530 litres of boot space is nothing to sneeze at.

At 4.5 metres in length, the Q3 Sportback is more similar in size to medium SUVs from the next size up than a small crossover, but the additional length results in a spacious boot capacity of 530 litres. An electric tailgate will be available and will likely be stasndard in Australia.

Expect more news on the Sportback front once the standard Audi Q3 launches in second-generation form later this year.

Read more

2020 Kia Seltos grey front end Kia Seltos fully revealed, coming to Australia in October

Kia Motors has revealed some key details about the all new Seltos set to compete in the ever-growing Small SUV market segment. The Seltos is set to square up with strong selling Mitsubishi ASX, Nissan Qashqai, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-3, and upcoming CX-30. The 2019 Kia Seltos is due on Australian shores in October 2019 and although pricing is not confirmed, we expect it to start at around $25,000 driveaway for the S model, with the top GT Line model costing a little under $40,000 driveaway.

Having taken their time entering the small SUV segment and having studied successful vehicles on the market, there will be no excuses to perform once the Seltos reaches Australia. Kia CEO Han-Woo Park has stated that “the Seltos is an important car for Kia as it will play a central role in our international growth.” 

2020 Kia Seltos grey rear end
The Seltos has a more upright rear end than many small SUVs.

The Seltos is being offered with two engine choices in Australia, a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated ‘Smartstream’ engine producing 110kW/180Nm in the base model that will be mated to a CVT gearbox driving either front or all wheels. In the higher trim models a peppier 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine that produces 130kW/265Nm that has been a performer in other Kia and Hyundai models driving either the front or all four wheels through a seven speed dual-clutch gearbox. 

The Seltos’ exterior is boxy, though eye-catching with Kia’s signature LED lights and ‘tiger nose’ grill which lend the Seltos a distinctive look. As for subjective good or bad we’ll hold off commenting until we can see one in the metal, though for better or worse it does bear some resemblance to Skoda’s current crop of SUVs.

2020 Kia Seltos interior black tan
The cabin strikes toward upmarket territory.

Kia are claiming “class-leading space” with the new Seltos and that certainly stands true in the boot department, offering huge boot space of 498 litres, significantly bettering direct rivals (Mitsubishi’s ASX offers 393 litres) and even rivaling its bigger Sportage brother. Cabin storage is good too, with plenty of cubby holes, a 60:40 flat folding rear seat, and a boot floor that can raise or lower by 110mm. The Seltos’ wheelbase is generous at 2630mm which will offer good legroom for rear-seat passengers, and the square roofline should afford a usable rear seat even for the taller crowd.

In the small SUV market segment the Seltos offers stand-out safety equipment. Included standard is ESC, and 6 airbags, with optional AEB, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise, forward collision warning, rear cross traffic alert, driver fatigue warning and level two autonomy in the form of Kia’s ‘Lane Follow Assist’. Although exact specifications are yet to be confirmed for Australian models, we can expect sharp pricing across the board on safety features. As for ride and handling the Seltos is equipped with Macpherson strut front suspension teamed with torsion beam rear suspension in front wheel drive variants, with a more sophisticated multilink set-up for the all wheel drive models, closely mirroring its Hyundai Kona cousin with which it shares a platform. 

2020 Kia Seltos boot space
The Seltos will claim the largest boot in class when it arrives in Australia.

Aiming at “youthful, tech-savvy buyers” kia has equipped the Seltos with a comprehensive suite of tech. A large 8.0 inch touchscreen and Apple Carplay/Android Auto come as standard, with an optional – and biggest-in-class – 10.25 inch touchscreen display available with split-screen functionality that allows multiple sources of information available on screen together. Thankfully, Kia has kept the HVAC controls separate from the touchscreen which should allow easy and fuss-free adjustment. Other optional tech includes wireless smartphone charging, an 8.0 inch head up display including nav and other info, and the option of a Bose premium audio system.

Kia’s choice to chase the small SUV market is likely to be lucrative, as it’s a segment that has and will continue to grow in Australia as passengers cars become less popular. If the excellent practicality, safety features, tech, and value the Seltos offers can be teamed with a solid drive and decent interior quality it could be set to topple the apple cart of well established players in the market, but we’ll have to see how that plays out when we get our hands on one.

Read more

2020 Audi SQ7 TDI front end grey Audi SQ7 facelifted: 320kW V8 diesel beast

Following news of next year’s update to the general Audi Q7 range, Ingolstadt’s biggest performance vehicle will undergo a similar nip/tuck for next year. The 2020 Audi SQ7 will arrive in Australia “in the first half of 2020”.

The heart of the SQ7 has been retained – a twin-turbocharged four litre V8 diesel producing 320kW/900Nm. Those outputs do not change over the pre-facelift version, though internal fettling means the 0-100km/h sprint does drop by 0.1sec to 4.8 seconds.

2020 Audi SQ7 TDI interior quilted seat
There has been a dramatic shift in the interior design of the updated Q7.

That’s pretty staggering for an SUV that weighs more than 2.5 tonnes. The claimed fuel consumption of around 7.6L/100km does increase marginally due to the additional strictness of the new European WLTP emissions testing regime.

As with the pre-facelift SQ7 TDI, this large SUV uses a 48-volt electrical system with a compressor that spins up the engine’s turbochargers almost instantly, to reduce lag.

Wide 285/45 tyres are standard, with wheels measuring at least 20 inches. The brake discs are a huge 400mm for the front axle and 370mm in the rear. Go for an even larger wheel and there is room for upgraded 420mm front brakes.

2020 Audi SQ7 TDI rear end grey
The alterations to the SQ7’s rear end are subtle.

Easily the most considerable changes to the 2020 update are aesthetic. The front-end design differs quite significantly, as does the all-new interior, while the rear end styling receives more subtle revisions to the taillights and apron.

Inside, there is a shift in philosophy around the cabin technology, with a single high-mounted central screen replaced by dual lower-mounted touchscreens. High-end Bang and Olufsen audio is available.

Australian-delivered SQ7 TDIs are likely to have the S Performance Seat fitted as standard, though this is an option overseas.

2020 Audi SQ7 TDI side on
The facelifted SQ7 is slightly longer than the car it replaces.
Read more

BMW X1 small SUV now more affordable

The four-strong 2019 BMW X1 small SUV range has come in for a major facelift, with massaged looks front and rear headlining the aesthetic changes. Two of the four available grades have seen their pricing reduced, while only the fastest petrol model has become dearer.

A larger grille sees the X1 aligned more closely with its X3, X5 and X7 siblings in the ‘wagon-bodied’ BMW SUV range, while the LED headlights switch to a hexagonal shape and the tail light graphics are updated.

New taillight graphics make it easy to spot an updated X1.

All four grades have been retained in the facelift, with a sole turbo Diesel engine offering a more frugal option for high-milers.

The entry level remains the turbo three-cylinder sDrive18i, which has fallen in price by $1,400 to $44,500 (plus on-road costs). Sharing the Mini’s turbo 1.5-litre three-cylinder, now making 103kW/220Nm. Standard specification includes wireless smartphone charging, an 8.8-inch touchscreen with navigation and wireless Apple CarPlay, LED headlights, artificial leather seating, and low-speed AEB.

The interior remains largely the same as the pre-facelift version.

From there, it’s a $5,400 step into the diesel X1, called sDrive20d – this is a two-litre turbo unit producing 110kW/330Nm, with other specification mirroring that of the aforementioned sDrive18i.

Second from the top is the sDrive20i, which utilises a two-litre turbo petrol to make 141kW/280Nm. This grade falls in price by $2,400 to $48,500 before on-roads. Specification at the 20i level moves up to include a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen, a head-up display, power tailgate, and upgraded lighting that bundles adaptive technology for the headlights and ‘X1’ puddle lamps.

The flagship X1 xDrive25i is the sole grade that sees its price increased, by $2,000 to $62,900 before on-road costs. This car makes 170kW/350Nm from its two-litre turbo. Additionally justifying the considerable $14,400 upgrade over the 20i is greater equipment in the shape of AWD, real leather seating with heating and electric adjustment up front, keyless entry and start, 19-inch wheels, and dual-zone climate control.

This is the upmarket xDrive25i grade – the sole X1 with AWD in Australia.

2019 BMW X1 facelift Australian pricing

X1 sDrive18i: $44,500

X1 sDrive18d: $49,900

X1 sDrive20i: $48,500

X1 xDrive25i: $62,900

Read more