Kia Australia Revs Up Picanto, Cerato

The tiny Picanto has had a GT added to its name and is now fitted with a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre turbo engine that produces 74kW of power and 172Nm of torque, driving through the front wheels via a 5-speed manual gearbox.

The Picanto GT has been suspension-tuned for Australia by Kia’s local in-house ride and handling team, who were able to build off the basic Picanto’s Macpherson front strut and u-shaped rear torsion beam architecture to make the ride more dynamic. Through a more aggressive tune for the shock absorbers and a stiffer spring rate, the team said it was able to provide greater body control with better road feedback and improved ride comfort.

Changes to the steering mapping are said to give a quicker response and enhanced stability when under load, while lower-profile 195/45 R16 tyres improve both grip and predictability when pushing towards the limit.

The GT shares all the features of the current-generation Picanto, including the stiff body shell composed of 44 per cent advanced high-strength steels.

Kia has also added more sportiness to its Cerato sedan and hatch, installing a 1.6-litre turbo engine along with a ride and handling package providing, what the company says, it its most focused drive to date in Kia’s small car garage.

The Cerato GT has a “subtle yet distinctive” body kit, dual exhausts, paddle shifters, alloy sports pedals and a flat-bottomed leather sports steering wheel.

Its four-cylinder 1.6-litre turbo engine produces 150kW at 6000rpm and 265Nm of torque from 1500-4500rpm, all sent to the front wheels through a 7-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox. Sport mode is accessed by tipping the gear lever across to the driver, with aggressive gear shift characteristics and sharper steering maps.

The Picanto GT 5-speed manual is currently priced at $17,990 drive away, while the Cerato GT in either hatch or sedan is available now at $31,990 drive away.

‘Time-Warp’ Peugeot To Go Under The Hammer

An immaculately-preserved, completely original, one-owner 1991 Peugeot 309 GTi with 210 warranted kilometres on the clock is amongst the early entries for Barons’ Classic Winter Warmer sale at Sandown Park in the UK on 26 February.

The vendor bought the car new in 1991, but worked predominantly overseas and had a second car, so the Peugeot was barely used as the mileage clearly showed.

The car was kept garaged throughout its life and is in showroom condition.

The engine, electricals, interior, bodywork and more are as-new and, with a guide price of £8000 – £11,000, it could be the right opportunity to acquire a ‘new’, classic family sedan that might prove to be a sound investment for the future.

For more information visit www.barons-auctions.com.

UNSW Sunswift Solar Car Sets Guinness World Record

The UNSW Sunswift solar car team last week set a new Guinness World Record for the lowest energy consumption driving across Australia with an electric car.

The student team completed the 4100km journey between Perth and Sydney two days ahead of schedule and averaged 3.25kWh per 100 kilometres, well under the 5.5kWh/100km needed to set the record.

The Sunswift team’s aim for the energy cost was to be less than that of a single tank of fuel. The total costs for the trip turned out to be A$50.

Traveling an average of 600 kilometres each day, the trip was without incident – but ‘Violet’ proved difficult to control.

“Violet is lively on the road a lot, it’s not a production car and you have to kind of handle it like a horse in order to manage it on public roads. But we did it,” said Sunswift team member Hayden Smith.

Violet is the sixth solar car designed and manufactured by the Sunswift team and its first four-seat, family-oriented vehicle. It is five metres long, 2.2 metres wide and stands 1.2 metres high. The vehicle weighs 360 kilograms, thanks in part to its lightweight chassis of carbon fibre monocoque with foam and an aramid honeycomb core.

The car’s solar array consists of 318 SunPower monocrystalline silicon cells with a conversion efficiency of 22 per cent. They charge a modular lithium-ion battery bank that can be sized between 10 and 20 kilowatt-hours, powering twin rear wheel in-hub, brushless DC synchronous motors. Violet has a top speed of 140 km/h.

The car also has front and rear boot space, a reversing camera, parking sensors, an interactive display screen with GPS as well as other creature comforts such as air-conditioning.

“These students have pushed the boundaries of modern engineering and proven that solar powered cars are likely to be a big part of Australia’s motoring future,” said UNSW Dean of Engineering Professor Mark Hoffman, who met the team at the finish line in Sydney.

The team will be busy in the new year preparing for the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, which covers 3000km from Darwin to Adelaide.

The Sunswift Solar Car project has been running at UNSW for 23 years.

ANCAP Releases December 2018 Round Of Ratings

The Ford Focus, Hyundai Santa Fe, Genesis G70 and Jaguar I-Pace have all been awarded 5 stars.

“Brands have responded to a far more stringent test regime, further increasing the standard consumers expect when it comes to safety, with all 2018 ratings meeting five stars,” said ANCAP Chief Executive, James Goodwin.

The new Ford Focus scored well, with Child Occupant Protection standing out as its strongest area of performance.

“The Focus scored maximum points in destructive Child Occupant Protection testing and is equipped with both forward and reverse auto braking,” Goodwin said.

The electric-powered Jaguar I-Pace performed well, scoring five stars for all variants.

“The I-Pace is one of only a few models to offer an external airbag, which is designed to provide increased protection to pedestrians.”

An innovative new child occupant detection feature has been incorporated into the new generation Hyundai Santa Fe, alerting the driver when leaving the car if a rear seat occupant is detected to reduce the chance of a baby or young child being left in an unattended vehicle.

“It is encouraging to see vehicle brands incorporate innovative new safety features,” Goodwin said.

“Engineers identified two issues with the deployment of the curtain airbag in Santa Fe models fitted with a panoramic roof, with the airbag tearing and a portion of the airbag being caught on the upper belt anchorage. Penalties were applied to scoring of the side impact and oblique pole tests to reflect the increased head injury risk.”

“ANCAP notified the Australian vehicle standards regulator of the issue, resulting in a national recall to remedy models already in service. A production change has been implemented by Hyundai for new models.”

“The seven-seat SUV also lacks top tether anchorages for third row seating positions, leaving the third row unable to install child restraints and carry young children.”

The luxury medium car segment received a boost with a further five-star performer in the Genesis G70.

“The Genesis G70 is fitted with a well-performing lane support system, with Good performance recorded across testing, including some of the more critical emergency lane keeping test scenarios,” said Goodwin.

Five-star ANCAP safety ratings apply to all variants of Ford Focus (from December 2018), Hyundai Santa Fe (from July 2018), Genesis G70 (from 2018) and I-Pace (from December 2018).

Carlos Ghosn Arrested Over Allegations Of Financial Misconduct

Carlos Ghosn, chairman of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors, was arrested Monday in Japan over concerns he had underreported his income and misused company funds.

In a statement, Nissan said it had been conducting an internal investigation over the past several months regarding misconduct involving Ghosn and Representative Director Greg Kelly based on a whistleblower report.

According to the company, the investigation discovered that over many years both Ghosn and Kelly had been reporting their compensation in the Tokyo Stock Exchange securities report as less than what they actually received, the aim being to reduce Ghosn’s disclosed compensation.

Nissan also discovered “numerous other significant acts of misconduct, such as personal use of company assets” related to Ghosn, with “Kelly’s deep involvement  also confirmed”, according to a statement.

The company says it has been providing information to the Japanese Public Prosecutors Office and is fully cooperating with their investigation.

In a dramatic move, the company said CEO Hiroto Saikawa will propose to the company board to promptly remove Ghosn from his positions as Chairman and Representative Director, as well as removing Kelly from his own Representative Director position. The company cited the misconduct’s violation of its board of directors’ duty of care as the reason for the move.

The development heavily tarnishes what was a distinguished career for Ghosn, who helped restore Renault’s profitability in the late 1990s and executed the recovery of Nissan in just one year in the early 2000s.

Mitsubishi Motors Confirms New Australian Headquarters To Be Built In Adelaide

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation COO, Trevor Mann, has announced that a new Australian headquarters for the company will be constructed at Adelaide with a projected ‘move-in’ date from late 2020.

The announcement comes following an extensive national search to find a suitable head office location which would support the brand’s future business requirements.

At the announcement, Mann told the company’s workforce that while a relocation of its headquarters interstate was considered, Adelaide Airport was the smart choice for the future of the business.

“MMAL is successful in Australia and we know that the workforce is a key factor in that success, which is why we are keeping the national headquarters in South Australia, and creating a new facility located within the Adelaide Airport precinct to ensure MMAL can more efficiently support its dealers and staff interstate,” said Mann.

Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) CEO, John Signoriello said the new head office will provide state-of-the-art facilities and easier access for collaboration with our teams across Australia.

“MMAL is a national team that relies on collaboration with our regional staff and dealers to get our job done, therefore Adelaide Airport proved to be the logical place for our new headquarters,” said Signoriello.

Mann and Signoriello met with the South Australian Premier, Steven Marshall MP, to advise him of the decision to keep the Mitsubishi Motors Australia head office in South Australia and to thank the state government for their support.

As part of its investment in South Australia, the state government offered a grant of $2 million to assist MMAL in the construction and fit out of the new facility.

Premier of South Australia, Steven Marshall MP, said he was delighted that Mitsubishi Motors Australia decided to keep its headquarters in Adelaide.

“South Australia has been home to Mitsubishi for over 38 years and in that time has contributed significantly to our state and likewise, South Australia has been a major supporter of Mitsubishi,” said Premier Marshall.

“This decision is a significant vote of confidence in South Australians and the state government looks forward to continuing a productive and positive partnership with Mitsubishi.”

The new Mitsubishi Motors Australia headquarters will be located at the entrance to Adelaide Airport, with the company saying this allows efficient access for interstate dealers and staff to attend conferences and utilise state-of-the-art sales and aftersales training facilities.

High ANCAP Safety Scores For Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Mazda 6 And Lexus ES300h

ANCAP, Australasia’s independent authority on vehicle safety, has commended the safety specification and safety performance of the newly released Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Mazda 6 and Lexus ES300h – all achieving 5 star ANCAP safety ratings.

Assessed against the latest safety standards now in play across both the Australasian and European markets, each of the vehicles achieved strong scores in all key safety areas.

“The new A-Class offers excellent all-round safety performance,” said ANCAP Chief Executive, James Goodwin.

“It has achieved the highest Vulnerable Road User Protection rating to date with a score of 92 per cent, and has equalled the highest Child Occupant Protection rating, scoring 91 per cent.”

“Side chest-protecting airbags also extend to the rear seats as a standard feature on Australasian models, where it is offered as an option to European consumers,” he said.

“The Mazda 6 performed well for its protection of adult and child occupants, however some concerns were noted for smaller occupants seated in the rear, where the pelvis of the dummy slipped beneath the lap section of the seatbelt in the full width test – known as submarining – and a penalty was applied.”

“The autonomous emergency braking capability of the Lexus ES300h was its standout feature with full points scored for its ability to detect and avoid pedestrians in all test scenarios at day and night. Strong performance was also recorded for its cyclist-detection capability,” Goodwin added.

A penalty was also applied to the Lexus for submarining of the rear occupant in the full width frontal test.

Five star ANCAP safety ratings apply to all variants of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class (August 2018 onwards), Mazda 6 (June 2018 onwards) and the Lexus ES300h (September 2018 onwards).

Phase IV Falcon Breaks Ford Australian Muscle Car Record at Auction

A Ford Falcon GTHO Phase IV has broken the record for a Ford Australian muscle car, selling for A$2 million at auction over the weekend.

The extremely rare, one-of-only-three-in-the-world Ford Falcon GTHO Phase IV achieved A$2 million at Lloyds auction on Saturday night, smashing the previous record price for an Aussie Ford muscle car.

“This was a fantastic result for the classic car market which is growing from strength to strength. The anonymous Australian buyer is extremely excited about owning a piece of iconic Australian history,” said Brett Mudie, Chief Marketing Officer at Lloyds Auctions.

Legendary Bathurst winner Allan Moffat dropped the hammer in a ceremonial event with enthusiastic fans, alongside the auctioneer selling one of Australia’s rarest muscle cars to its new custodian.

“It didn’t surprise me that the car sold for this amount,” continued Mudie. “We were expecting it to smash the last record quite easily, with bidding already at A$1.5 million 3 days before the auction. The Phase IV’s limited number, immaculate condition, celebrity affiliation (with links to Fred Gibson and Allan Moffat) along with its chrome bumper all contributed to the car selling at this price and will underpin its value into the future.

“With the Phase IV and more strong bidding on Phase IIIs over the weekend, it really shows that the market is continuing to strengthen with an opportunity to own an enjoyable investment that seems to be rising in value at a faster rate than property.

“There is a clear trend if you look at the number of records broken over the last six months in particular. The people buying these cars are hard-working Australians looking for a reward but also looking for something to invest in. Cars in original condition, with chrome bumpers, celebrity affiliation or prominent history are the ones that are rising in value first as we have seen again at this auction over the weekend.”

In March this year an A9X Torana SLR 5000 sold for A$365,000, doubling the original record for this type of car. In June Australian cricketer Jeff Thomson’s old Ford Falcon GTHO Phase III was the first of its kind to break A$1 million in a public sale, followed by Peter Brock’s dual Bathurst winner which more recently sold for A$2.1 million.

Hyundai i30 Fastback N Revealed In Europe

Hyundai has revealed the new 2019 i30 Fastback N in Europe ahead of its official unveiling at the 2018 Paris Motor Show next month.

The five-door Fastback N is the second high-performance model from Hyundai’s N Performance division, following on from its sibling the i30 N hot-hatch, which arrived in Australia in March.

The new i30 Fastback N wraps the high-performance capability and driver appeal of the i30 N in a newly sporty five-door GT coupe shape.

The Hyundai i30 Fastback N incorporates many of the design signatures of its hatchback sibling. The i30 Fastback shape has been merged with the features of the i30 N five-door, such as the dynamic-looking N Grille, and N front and rear bumpers, both highlighted by a red character line. A blacked-out side sill further underscores the model’s sportiness.

The i30 Fastback N’s rear visual features a twin-muffler exhaust and a cohesive rear spoiler that flows neatly into the line of the lift back. A glossy black accent is inserted to highlight the spoiler and further develop the N performance theme.

The centrepiece in the new i30 Fastback N’s crisp, understated interior is the exclusive N steering wheel with characteristic red N stitching, which ties in with red stitching on the gear shifter and seats.

The i30 Fastback N’s high-performance focus does not bring cabin compromise. High practicality and everyday usability are ensured, with a generous with 450-litre cargo area, which expands to hold 1351 litres when the rear seatbacks are folded flat.

Mercedes-Benz Launches Its First EV – The EQC

Mercedes-Benz has launched its first electric car, the EQC, in Stockholm.

Touted first at the Paris Motor Show in 2016, the new EQ-prefixed models will go into full production in 2019 in Bremen, Germany.

The EQC features an all-new drive system with compact electric drivetrains at each axle. These give the EQC the driving characteristics of an all-wheel drive vehicle.

To reduce power consumption and increase dynamics, the electric drivetrains are configured differently; the front electric motor is optimised for best possible efficiency in the low to medium load range, while the rear one determines dynamics. Together, they generate an output of 300kW and a maximum torque of 765Nm. This allows the vehicle to get to 100km/h from a standing start in 5.1 seconds and reach a governed maximum speed of 180km/h.

The lithium-ion battery, which has an energy content of 80 kWh supplies the vehicle with power, with Mercedes-Benz claiming a range of more than 450km on a full charge under Europe’s old NEDC test cycle. Real-world range is expected to be slightly lower.

Mercedes-Benz says the EQC meets the highest requirements with respect to passive safety. In addition to the usual extensive programme of crash tests, the company says it applies further, particularly-stringent safety standards to the battery and all component parts carrying electrical current. The vehicle structure of the EQC has been adapted to suit the special requirements of the electrical components and battery and is “configured to achieve the usual high safety level”.

Mechanical protection of the battery begins with the installation position of the high-voltage battery beneath the vehicle floor, where it is surrounded by a stable frame that can absorb impact energy. Deformation elements are installed between the frame and the battery, and these are able to absorb additional forces in the event of a severe side impact. A battery guard in the front area is able to prevent the energy storage unit from being pierced by foreign objects. Placement of the heavy battery at the bottom of the car improves the vehicle’s centre of gravity, ensuring a stable and dynamic ride.

Electrical protection of the high-voltage system consists of a multi-stage safety concept that deploys in the event of an accident. The high-voltage system automatically shuts down, reversibly or irreversibly, according to the severity of the accident. There are also shutdown points where emergency teams can deactivate the high-voltage system manually.