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Journeys : Aug Sep 2010
Life on the move First drives Darren Moody gets an early taste of some new vehicles Hyundai i45 The Hyundai quest for global domination continues with the release of the latest all-new model YF Sonata -- although in Australia it stays with the current nomenclature i45. Australia only gets one power-plant at this stage, a 2.4L direct injection petrol engine producing 148kW with ma ximum torque of 250Nm. The 2.4L is the first vehicle in this category to get a direct injection petrol engine. It's a willing worker that comfortably pushes the i45 from rest via the standard six- speed auto, to cr uise fairly effortlessly on the highway. Like its competitors, engine noise increases in the higher rev range. I usually don't comment too much on the appearance of the car but on this occasion the i45 is striking -- it follows on from Hyundai's 'fluidic sculpture' design trend. It does stand out from the crowd and provides that prestige look. Hyundai has an enviable safety record across the range in recent times. The i45 gets plenty of safety features as standard, including multiple airbags, stability control, ABS, EBD and more. The i45 hasn't been crash-tested yet but I would be surprised if a 5-star NACAP rating wasn't achieved. Interior fit-out is good, with soft-feel plastics used throughout. On release, only the mid and top-spec models were available, both with standard leather interior and too many other standard features to list, but you typically expect this from Hyundai, making the i45 a great value-for-money proposition. Ride and handling are a couple of things the Korean manufacturer hasn't quite come to ter ms with in some of their range. While the i45 is improved in this area and the average city highway cruise won't show any flaws, on a typical country road, ride and balance are compromised. I'll reser ve my final judgment on the i45 until a more comprehensive drive is available, but my first drive indicates it isn't class-leading. Prices for the base model Active start at just under $30,000 up to the top-spec Premium, chock-full of features and value at just Skoda Superb wagon After our recent review on the Skoda Superb, I can report that the Superb Wagon has now been added to the model range. As previously mentioned, the Superb offers plenty in the way of space, comfort and features. The addition of the wagon to the range enhances space even further, but the biggest bonus I see is that the vehicle no longer has the awkward rear-end of the sedan. With the recent demise of the locally-built Falcon wagon and the dow n-sizing of the Commodore Sportwagon, the Superb Wagon offers a viable alter native in ter ms of space, with 633L of luggage area, expanding to 1865L with the rear seats folded dow n. With additional headroom for front and rear passengers there is plenty of space for larger families. The range retains the same engine options, from the powerful but ultra-economic 125kW 2.0L turbo (TDI) diesel, 1.8L turbo petrol TSI producing 118kW or the range- topping all wheel drive 191kW 3.6L V6 FSI petrol. Transmission for the diesel and V6 is a 6-speed DSG while the 1.8L petrol gets a 7-speed DSG. There are two specification levels -- the base level Ambition and up-spec Elegance. All wagons come standard with nine airbags and all the other safety features you would expect from a premium brand, resulting in a 5-star ANCAP rating. To top off the features list, all wagons get electronic park assist as standard. And all this with Audi/ Volkswagen build quality! Well, what's not to like? Volkswagen Polo It has to be said that I have never been a big fan of V W Polo. Despite being entry- level vehicles into the V W range, they always felt like poor relations. The release of the fifth generation Polo might just change my mind on that. I often apply a five minute test to newly- released vehicles as a gauge of their quality. First, a quick walk around the car to check exter nal fit, with a keen eye over the paint finish. I open and close all the doors to listen for that often talked-about 'thud' when closing. Then a few minutes in the driver's seat to take in the surroundings, fittings, materials and ergonomics. The verdict? This vehicle is unmistakably a Volkswagen and has certainly stepped up a class from the previous model. V W offers the Trendline (3-door) and Comfortline (5-door) variants. There's a choice of engines ranging from a 1.2L 66 kW turbo diesel TDI; an upgraded (but largely car ry-over from the previous model) 1.4L 63kW petrol; and my pick, the 1.2L turbo petrol, producing 77kW while returning official combined-cycle economy of 6.3L/100km. Transmission s offered include five and six-speed manuals along with an optional seven-speed direct-shift gearbox DSG. Missing from the model lineup at this stage is the GTI and the ultra-economical 'Bluemotion' turbo diesel. Unfortunately V W rates Australia as a hot climate, so we may not see the Bluemotion, but I feel confident we will see a GTI before the end of the year. A short drive in all models shows VW understands Australian road conditions, with a firm but compliant ride and good feel and weighting in the steering. The 1.2 petrol turbo with the DSG is the standout for me. It offers lively performance if pressed, but will return excellent fuel economy under nor mal driving conditions. under $38,000 (plus on roads). With direct competitors Liberty, Camry, Mazda 6 and the newly released Su zuki Kizashi sharing a very competitive market segment, I'm sure all will lose sales to i45. The 250Nm of torque in the diesel offers effortless highway cr uising and is more than at home in city and stop-start driving. While improved from the previous model, the 1.4L is the engine weak link. You really need to push it to get reasonable perfor mance, but that would be at the expense of decent economy. Volkswagen's Product and Marketing Manager Vlad Dimic believes that safety shouldn't be an option and V W backs this up with the Polo getting a comprehensive safety features list, including multiple airbags and stability control standard on all models, which wasn't the case previously. New Polo achieves a 5-star ANCAP rating across the range. 21 August / September 2010
RACT MNJ June July 2010
Oct Nov 2010