October 4, 2006

Mitsuoka Orochi Supercar

What the? Yep thats what I thought too, Mitsuoka of Japan has come up with this ugly, ugly supercar:

Mitsuoka Orochi

The mid-engined Orochi sports car, along with the car’s production plans, pricing, and specifications were released today by Mitsuoka. To begin with, its good to know what Orochi means, well, apparently its the name of an eight-headed serpent out of Japanese folklore. The car initially appeared in 2001 in concept form and hasn’t really changed much in the last 5 years.

So it looks like a supercar, but is it a super car? Hell no! The Orochi is powered by Toyotas 3MZ-FE 3.3L V6 engine which is found in the more common Lexus RX vehicles. The tuned engine makes a small 230 horsepower and is connected to a Toyota 5-speed automatic. Mitsuoka says that it picked efficiency and ease of use ahead of high performance.

Mitsuoka Orochi

The big Japanese monster weighs an enormous 1.5 tons and costs around $89,000 USD or at current exchange rates, roughly $116,000 AUD. Who would want one? Not me!

Posted by alborz under Car News, Supercars on October 4, 2006 Comments (0)
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October 4, 2006

Audi R8 coming to Australia

I mentioned the Audi R8 a few days ago, and today Audi has announced that this beautiful supercar will make its way down under for the Australian International Motor Show.

I am pleased to announce that the R8 completes Audi’s glittering line-up of supercars at the Australian International Motor Show,” confirmed managing director, Joerg Hofmann today.

Audi R8

I have to say, the Australian International Motor Show is going to rock this time around! Not only are we getting the R8 but we get to see the rband new Audi TT Coupe and the soon-to-be-launched S6 and S8 models. And if that wasn’t enough, we even get to see Audi’s Le Mans winning the R10.

Confirmed for a very limited sale in Australia, the new R8 is likely to arrive on our shores in the second half of 2007. Pricing and specification is yet to be confirmed.

Bring on the Supercars!

Posted by alborz under Car News on October 4, 2006 Comments (1)
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October 3, 2006

Australian Drivers Speed

Okay, its official, Australian Drivers Speed. A survey of 5,000 Australian drivers showed that more than 50% drive up to 20km/hr over the speed limit if they are running late, only 15% said they only speed during an emergency.

The survey which was conducted for insurers Budget Direct gave some real figures about real world driving situations. The Police force are more than aware of these figures, and even more so, I believe they are aware of the fact that speed camera’s do little to safe lives. Nonetheless, the causes of speeding are never addressed, instead more and more speed cameras are put in place to save lives.

Budget Direct Insurance managing director Michael Weston explains why he believes more and more Australians are speeding:

What’s happening, what were seeing, we did a similar survey on road rage a number of months back and what were seeing is that as traffic problems and as traffic congestion increases people become less and less patient, they’re tending to speed more to make up for lost time,” he said.

Australian Drivers Speed

However, even though people are willing to speed to get to where they are going, they are not willing to park in a disabled zone when they get there:

“Eighty-three per cent of the people surveyed said that they would never under any circumstances park in a disabled parking space. There was only 8 per cent of the people nation-wide that admitted they had done it at some point in time in the past so it does show that when it comes to parking, particularly disabled parking, people are very courteous. he said.

Nonetheless, I would say that this is partially due to the inability of proving ones disability (disability sticker) whilst speeding has a much lower chance of being caught and does not undergo the same social stigma that parking in a disabled zone does.

Posted by alborz under Statistics, Safety on October 3, 2006 Comments (0)
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October 2, 2006

Thieves Stealing Your Car’s Gadgets

In this day and age, stealing a car isn’t what it used to be, no longer can thieves simply hot wire a car to start up, they need a lot more than that to disable the cars stock alarm systems and in most cases, its just not worth it. So stealing new cars is gone out of fashion. Nonetheless if they can’t steal your car, they can sure as hell steal whatever you’ve got inside it. However even that days of having your car broken into for your wallet are long gone! These days, its your Sat Nav, and half your dash board thats being stolen!

Australian insured AAMI (owner of Just Car Insurance) said that they have noticed a spike in internal parts being stolen as technological gadgets get more & more expensive. eBay seems to be the place to be selling these systems. Property Crime Squad commander, acting Detective Superintendent Tim Stirling, said while motor vehicle theft was declining nationally, stealing from motor vehicles had risen across NSW this year.

“One reason for this is the rise in the number of high value and portable electronic equipment in cars, such as GPS,” he said. “This is indicative of opportunistic thieves, rather than organised crime gangs.”

Thieves Stealing Your Car Gadgets

The picture you see here is a brand new 2006 Mitsubishi Pajero 4WD. As you can see the theives didn’t leave much behind. Apparently the thieves stole so much from the car, that the insurance wrote of the $60,000 car! Can you imagine that? a brand new car with no body damage what so ever being written off?

According to the owner a hand-held electric saw was used to cut out the dash panel before everything was stolen from the vehicle. NRMA Insurance head of industry research Robert McDonald said GPS units and airbags now topped the list of targets since stereos had become harder to fit between different car models.

Who would think that someone would break into your car to steal your airbag? However gievn they cost anywhere between 1500 to 8000 to replace, you can see where there is a market! Police in Sydney’s inner west have put out a warning for car owners as more and more airbags are stolen from vehicles, As nine Toyota Corolla sedan owners found out recently.

AAMI spokesman Selina O’Connor said interiors, including seats and trimmings, are being used more and more in “rebirthing” cars. The idea of stealing a vehicle, and changing it enough so that it can’t be identified from any of its original parts.

“In the case of the dashboard it may have been stolen to replace a dashboard on a damaged car or for the wiring and instrumentation which sits inside the dash, which is also valuable,” she said.

So what can you do? Park your car somewhere safe, its hard sometimes, and it seems like the car alarms are now detering theives from stealing the car itself, but instead giving rise to a new kind of thieves, not worried about your wallet, but more keen on your GPS or airbags!

Posted by alborz under Statistics on October 2, 2006 Comments (0)
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October 2, 2006

Subaru Boxer Turbo Diesel

Subaru Boxer Turbo DieselI love Subarus. Maybe its because I own one? Maybe its because its that “bang for your buck” philosophy or perhaps its the AWD system in the subbies that makes me feel nice and warm inside. Whatever it is, Subaru has a few fans here at Car Advice.

So with some anticipation I am glad to say that Subaru are moving into the world of Diesel, and better yet, they are doing it Subaru style. Subaru has confirmed that the development of the world’s first horizontally opposed diesel engine, the Subaru Boxer Turbo Diesel, is almost complete!

Subaru says that the Subaru Boxer Turbo Diesel engine maintains the excellent balance of Subaru’s trademark horizontally opposed engine, which has been perfected over the past 34 years.

The superb rotational balance of the horizontally-opposed engine allows low vibration because the pistons counteract each other to cancel it out,” Subaru Europe President Hiroyuki Ikeda said.

Moreover, with its firmly supported crankshaft, the crankcase construction is strong enough to resist huge combustion pressure. The horizontally opposed engine’s character is proving an excellent match for a diesel engine.

“Also, the adoption of a thin journal for the crankshaft and turbo charger placed under the cylinder block enhances all the advantages of the Boxer Engine, which are low centre of gravity, low vibration, high rigidity and compactness.

“This delivers diesel’s powerful torque from the engine to the wheels, and increases traction, making the Subaru Boxer Turbo Diesel yet another achievement of Subaru’s advanced technology.

“Last but not least, the Subaru Boxer Turbo Diesel boasts lower CO2 emissions in consideration of the environment,” Mr. Ikeda said.

The Subaru Boxer Turbo Diesel engine will be unveiled at next year’s Geneva Motor Show.

No production timetable has been announced.

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October 2, 2006

Honda Accord VTi Special Edition

Honda announced that it will offering a limited run version of its ever popular Honda Accord. The Accord VTi Special Edition will retail from $32,790 and comes standard with:

  • Front fog-lights
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Leather seats (only available on the Special Edition)
  • Power driver’s seat
  • Leather steering wheel (only available on the Special Edition)
  • Metallic paint
Honda Accord VTi Special Edition

The current accord retails for around $30,490. Honda says only 1200 of the Accord VTi Special Edition will be available from October 1st at Honda dealers around Australia. The Accord is powered by a 2.4 Litre 4 cylinder engine putting out 118kW of power and 218Nm of torque. The Accord gets a 9.8L/100km fuel rating for combined city and highway driving.

If you’ve ever thought about buying an Accord, the limited edition is well worth the extra ~$2,300! And if you just bought one and paid a lot more for all those extras, go back to Honda and complain that no one told you this special edition was coming out! If you want more info click here

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September 29, 2006

Mitsubishi Pajero 2007 MY07 Specifications & Pricing

When I originally posted a brief update about the upcoming 2007 Mitsubishi Pajero (MY07) I didn’t think anyone would care! Nonetheless, that has been the post popular page on this website for the last few days, so I thought, I can do all of you Pajero lovers some more service and post the specifications and pricing on the new MY07 Pajero range!

  • Two new 3-door models re-introduced
  • New sophisticated exterior design,
  • New modern interior with added features,
  • New petrol engine with massive increase in power and torque
  • New quieter, more efficient diesel engine

Mitsubishi has just released its NS Pajero 7-seat SUV with a complete make-over for the exterior design, a new modern interior, two new engines that are Euro 4 compatible, and re-introduced two 3-door models to inject additional excitement into the model range. All this has been achieved while retaining Mitsubishi’s acknowledged leadership in 4WD systems and technology that ensures drivers can explore Australia safely and reliably.

The re-introduction of the 3-door models to the Pajero product line-up – the first time since 1999 - is one of the most exciting product additions to the Pajero, and indeed the Mitsubishi, range in 2006. The three-door model adds sportiness to the Pajero brand, and is the closest product that consumers can buy to the acclaimed Pajero Evo that races across the harshest terrain in Europe and Africa in the Dakar rally.

However, the complete Pajero range’s desirability has been enhanced through a new skin. The new front end design is both rugged and prestigious, and is accentuated by the stylish headlamps, grille and front bumper designs that give Pajero a powerful, ground-hugging stance. The squarer lines of the front fenders combine with the new grille, bumper and handlamps to give the vehicle a more modern and sophisticated look. At the rear the wheel carrier is now centrally located, and mounted in a lower position to provide greater visibility through the rear windscreen, as well as allow the rear combination lamps to be fully operational in their normal position.

NS Pajero has also been completely re-designed inside, with the new instrument panel giving the modern sporty feel of a luxury sedan with the functionality of a progressive SUV.

The blue illumination provides a relaxing atmosphere, and the aero-inspired high contrast binnacle highlights the luxurious finish that is felt through the quality steering wheel controls and shift levers.

All the expected features – power steering, power windows, power exterior mirrors, cruise control, remote keyless entry with encrypted immobilisation and multiple storage compartments and cupholders – have been incorporated in to NS Pajero. All models also feature a multi mode display - including trip computer, weather information, and compass – for which the car has become well known.

NS Pajero is still a seven-seater with a 2-3-2 layout. It now offers heated seat warmers standard on the VRX and Exceed models, and a 8-way power driver’s seat is now standard on VRX as well as Exceed.

The second row is a 60:40 split and tumble arrangement that folds flat with the floor. The rear squabs are tilt adjustable and the headrests are height adjustable in all three positions.

Pajero’s third row seat carries two occupants and has fold, drop and recline functions. It can stow under the cargo floor, or can be removed from the vehicle altogether.

A number of other creature comforts have been added to NS that set it apart from its competitors. For example, automatic air conditioning is standard across the range, and rear air conditioning is now available on VRX as well as standard on Exceed. The new system features an easy to use control centre on the console that includes a electronic display providing air flow information.

Pajero sports an in-car entertainment system developed jointly with Rockford Fosgate, a leading car audio brand in the United States, specifically for Pajero. Optimally matched to the interior’s acoustical characteristics, the 650-watt amplifier, twelve speaker (including sub-woofer) DSP system blows away conventional factory-fitted systems with powerful, clear sound. The doors have been stiffened to deaden unwanted vibration. This system is standard on Exceed grade and boosts Pajero’s showroom appeal.

Steering wheel audio controls are standard on the R and X (3-door), VRX (5-door) and Exceed (5-door) models. The audio antenna is now integrated into the rear windscreen glass.

The rear seat entertainment system is now factory fitted and includes an auxiliary input jack. This feature is fitted on Pajero Exceed and is ideal for entertaining children on long and short trips.

An electronic tilt/slide power sunroof option is reintroduced on NS Pajero in response to consumer demand. It is available on R and X (3-door), VRX (5-door) and Exceed (5-door) models but cannot be combined with rear seat entertainment.

Hands-free mobile phone system with Bluetooth connectivity will be available across the entire Pajero range. Fitted as standard equipment on Exceed models and as a dealer fitted accessory on other models, this feature allows hands-free operation of mobile phones.

Side and curtain airbags are standard on Exceed and available across the complete model range.

However, Pajero has not only taken a leap forward in style and specification. Two new engines also give significant leaps in power and torque, while being more efficient and economical. Both are Euro 4 compatible.

The 3.8 litre 24-valve V6 MIVEC (Mitsubishi’s variable valve timing) petrol engine produces maximum power of 184kW at 6,000 rpm (a massive 23.5% increase on the previous engine at an increase of 1000 rpm), and maximum torque of 329Nm at a very low 2,750 rpm (up 6% from 310Nm at 3250 rpm on the NP Pajero). It is an extremely driveable and flexible engine that is Euro 4 compliant and LPG compatible.
The new diesel engine that replaces the previous class-leading 3.2 litre Direct Injection Diesel is a common rail version of the 3.2 litre diesel that was first seen in Australia in ML Triton when it was launched in July this year. It is quieter and delivers improved efficiency over the previous Di-D engine.
This 3.2L CDi DOHC 16-valve common rail inter-cooled turbo diesel engine is Euro 4 emission compliant and pumps out 125kW of power at 3800 rpm, and impressive torque of 358Nm at a very low 2000 rpm.

Both engines can be mated to either a 5-speed fully synchronised manual transmission, or Mitsubishi’s 5-speed INVECS II ‘Smart Logic’ automatic transmission with ‘Sports Mode’ sequential shifting function. Mitsubishi was the first manufacturer to introduce automatic transmissions with sequential shifting into 4WDs, and this came as a direct result of its motorsport experience.

Drive is put to the ground through the acclaimed ‘Super Select II’ drive-train that incorporates all the features of MATT® that is standard across all models. MATT® Incorporates ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Engine Brake Assist Control (EBAC), Active Stability Control (ASC), Active Traction Control (ATC), Hill Hold Assist (on automatic models) and a Rear Diff Lock is available for safely negotiating low traction surfaces.

Pajero’s 4WD system can be engaged, and dis-engaged, on the move at speeds up to 100km / hour, and includes 2WD high range, 4WD high range, 4WD low range, and 4WD high and 4WD low ranges with locked transfer.

Wheels and tyres have been upsized from 16” or 17” (depending on model) to 17” or 18” (depending on model), as have the brakes. NS Pajero 5-door brakes are 333mm ventilated discs with four-pot callipers at the front, while the rear brakes are 333mm ventilated discs in drum with one-pot calipers.

The 3-door variants get 290mm ventilated discs with two-pot calipers at the front and 305mm ventilated disc in drum rear brakes with one-pot calipers.

Suspension for all variants is the proven double wishbone with coil springs at the front, while the rear is multi-link with coil springs. A stabiliser bar is fitted at both the front and rear, and are attached to the sub-frame to isolate bumps and vibrations.

Pajero’s power assisted rack and pinion steering combines with the suspension to give neutral, responsive handling and good traction at all times, with a turning circle of 11.4 metres (kerb to kerb) for the 5-door models and 10.6 metres for the 3-door variants.

Safety has not been neglected and NS Pajero has a raft of safety features as standard equipment. They include ABS with EBD, Active Stability Control, and six airbags, are available on the base model. Mitsubishi’s RISE (Re-inforced Impact Safety Evolution) body construction provides the best occupant protection in the event of an accident and three-point lap/sash seatbelts are fitted to all seating positions. The ELR driver and passenger belts include pre-tensioners and force limiters as standard, and the seat belt anchors are height adjustable. The two outer second row belts are both ALR/ELR, while the centre belt is ELR. The third row belts are both ELR.

NS Pajero is available in a range of nine colours – White, Warm White Pearl (P), Cool Silver (M), Champagne (M), Envy (P), Red Metallic (M), Deep Blue Mica (P), Gunmetal (P) and Black Mica (P). Three of these are new colours (Champagne, Envy, and Deep Blue).

Because of Pajero’s long list of standard features the only options are:

Option Price R X GLX VRX Exceed
Side and curtain airbags

$1,000

Std

Tilt and slide power sunroof

$2,000

-

Family Pack (Side & curtain airbags,rear seat entertainment, rear air conditioning control, rear park assist)

$3,000

-

-

-

-

Rear Diff Lock
(Std on all diesel LWB, optional on all petrol LWB and all SWD models)

$500

Metallic or pearlescent paint
(Depending on model)

$300 - $400

Introduction of the new NS Pajero range is staggered, with the 3.8 litre V6 petrol manual and automatic, and 3.2 litre diesel manual 5-door variants available from early October, while the 3.2 litre diesel automatic 5-door and the two 3-door models will become available in November.

Pricing has been set at:

Model Price
3-door
R 3.8 litre V6 5-sp a/t

$40,990

3.2 litre dsl 5-sp a/t

$42,990

X 3.8 litre V6 5-sp a/t

$47,990

3.2 litre dsl 5-sp a/t

$49,990

5-door

GLX 3.8 litre V6 5-sp m/t

$49,490

3.8 litre V6 5-sp a/t

$52,490

3.2 litre dsl 5-sp m/t

$51,490

3.2 litre dsl 5-sp a/t

$54,490

VRX 3.8 litre V6 5-sp m/t

$54,990

3.8 litre V6 5-sp a/t

$57,990

3.2 litre dsl 5-sp m/t

$56,990

3.2 litre dsl 5-sp a/t

$59,990

Exceed 3.8 litre V6 5-sp a/t

$68,990

3.2 litre dsl 5-sp a/t

$70,990

The introduction of the NS Pajero range is a great story that builds on the enviable reputation that Pajero has always enjoyed for its driver enjoyment. It has a reputation that has been hard-earned in the crucible of intense and torrid off-road championships throughout the world, and provides street presence and value for money to go with its proven reliability and durability. It is these features that allows Mitsubishi to offer its industry-leading 5 year / 130,000 bumper-to-bumper, and 10 year / 160,000 kms drive-train warranty with confidence. To add to that confidence Mitsubishi also provides 5-year roadside assistance as standard across the Pajero model range (Premium Roadside Assistance for Exceed).

Posted by alborz under Car News on September 29, 2006 Comments (0)
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September 29, 2006

Audi R8 Supercar

When you think of Audi you don’t think of supercars, but I guess it helps to know that the VolksWagen Audi group actually created the worlds best and fastest supercar, the Bugatti Veyron. Yes, its owned by VW/Audi. Anyway, this isn’t regarding the mighty Veyron but instead, the little known Audi R8.

Audi R8 Supercar

The Audi R8 has:

- a high-revving V8 FSI engine
- quattro permanent four-wheel
- an aluminium body
- and options like adaptive dampers and ceramic brakes.

Audi says that they didn’t skim on costs when it came to the R8, and everything has been designed to ensure optimum driving dynamics.  Audi chairman, Ferdinand Piëch, says:

I started it when I returned to Audi as chairman in 2002. I have overseen the design and engineering teams for the past four years. Everyone has been looking forward to this day, the world premiere of our first mid-engined sports car. It is a key moment in the history of Audi.

The waiting is now over! The R8 is on display at the Paris Motorshow. Hope it makes its way down under for the Sydney  motorshow!

Posted by alborz under Car News, Supercars on September 29, 2006 Comments (0)
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September 28, 2006

Volvo V50 T5 AWD Road Test

2006 VOLVO V50 T5 AWD ROAD TEST

Test Model: 2006 Volvo V50 T5 AWD with Six-speed manual transmission.

Options fitted:

  • Body kit – no price as yet – it looks natural, so maybe, depending on price
  • Laminated side windows - $490 – yes, but should be standard kit on this car
  • Metallic Paint -$1350 – probably, but I’d take a look at the four no-cost colours first.

Recommended Retail Price: $57,950 there is no additional charge for the Five-speed Geartronic Auto and that’s something other car makers should be adopting.

On Road Price: Around $65,000

Where it sits: It’s the top spec in the V50 range although this model starts at: $42,950 for the V50 S

Quite possibly, one of the world’s best lifestyle wagons, with enough performance DNA to satisfy the keenest drivers.

Volvo has been building safe cars since 1927, I mean these guys invented the three-point seat belt back in 1959 and have continued to lead the way in automotive safety in both cars and now SUVs.

Volvo 850R

Contrary to popular belief though, Volvo has built, and continues to build, cars which are exciting to drive with performance, a key ingredient. Don’t laugh, many a time when driving the “hot” Volvo 850 R, in loud Canary yellow, in the mid 1990’s did I notice gob struck drivers who seemed outraged that a Volvo family car would dare pass them on the highway. And pass them I did, with ease. The 850 R, although box shaped, even handled well, with minimal body roll when pressed hard into corners.

Volvo S40Of course at the same time, Volvo was racing two 850 family wagons in the super competitive and downright aggressive, British Touring Car series, and even won a couple of rounds. When they switched to the Volvo S40 in 1998, they did the unthinkable. They won it!

If you’re still not convinced, even Brocky raced an 850. Game over.

brocky volvo

The fact is, and don’t let anyone tell you any different, Volvo build stylish cars which go hard and sound good.

Take the V50 T5 AWD which I tested recently. To properly describe this car, you would have to call it a sports wagon or Estate, as they call them in other parts of the globe.

Volvo 1800

Volvo builds Estates that look better than most sedans, including their own. They wrote the book on stylish wagons and have been doing so, since their first attempt in 1971, which was the gorgeous P1800ES. The car was designed off the P1800 sports car made famous by the TV series, The Saint, staring Roger Moore. Younger crew will have heard of this guy, from the more recent Hollywood movie of the same title, staring Val Kilmer, who incidentally, also drove a quick Volvo.

HOW IT GOES

I tested the six-speed manual version, which only about fifteen percent of buyers choose. I actually thought it would be less, given Australia is fast becoming like the US, where manual shifts are a factory option. The five-speed Geartronic Auto with manual shift capability, is the preferred choice in this country. Don’t get me wrong, the six-speed close ratio box in this car is a fine piece of engineering and dead easy to use (foot peddles are too small for my liking) but if you have to crawl to work each day, in bumper-too-bumper traffic, then my money would be on the auto.

2006 Volove V50 T5

The V50 T5 AWD is a reasonably serious sports machine. Under the bonnet is a transversely-mounted, 2.5 litre turbocharged, five-cylinder, all aluminium engine pumping out 162kW and a decent 320Nm dose of the all important torque.

Turbo-lag is virtually non existent, even when you engage the lead foot and give this car some serious hurry-up. More a Volvo thing, with light turbo boost, paired up with a fairly high compression ratio which works it all out smoothly, making the V50 an easy car to live with. There’s no torque steer to speak of, nor would you expect any, with Volvo’s clever Haldex drive system, determining how much power is needed at front or rear wheels. It’s quiet too. Even shifting at near redline, you can barely hear the engine working, apart from a soft growl and road and wind noise barely register. All this, mated to smooth gearbox, with a properly wide torque band, allows the V50 T5 AWD to put its considerable power down without fuss and within seconds, you are hurtling towards your destination at a rapid pace. Zero to 100km/h takes a fraction over seven seconds and you’ll top out at a swift 230km/h, on a race track, we hope. If you feel the need to drive a compact, five-door family wagon at a speed higher than this, then you might try some specialised therapy.

HOW IT HANDLES

One of the best handling cars I drove in 2005 was the Volvo S40 T5 AWD. If the Super Touring Car series was still around in Australia, the S40 T5 would be a contender. You know why? Because chassis tuning experience from the power packed S60 R formed the basis of both the S40 and V50 cars, and Volvo was out to exceed handling performance and steering control of previous cars.

2006 Volove V50 T5

What you probably didn’t know, and one of the reasons why Volvo wagons are so sorted in the driveability department, is that they are designed ahead of the sedan version. With the S40 and V50 sharing just about everything, I was expecting similar road manners from the V50, notwithstanding its estate body.

I can think of very few family wagons or sedans for that matter, with the cornering versatility and general ride characteristics of the V50 T5 AWD. Superior handling is only possible if the steering is precise and drivers get enough feedback from the steering wheel. There are more than a few performance cars around which might go like the clappers, but share a common vagueness in the steering, which undermines the package. Mitsubishi’s EVO 1X is the benchmark in this department although, perhaps a little too precise for a station wagon.

Steering on the V50 is electro-hydraulic which provides a high level of driver feedback along with exceptional steering control and feel.

Suspension settings on this car are a little firmer than on non-turbo versions of the V50, but the reasonably compliant ride, doesn’t suffer unduly with the upgrade.

I tried several times to unsettle this car through some tricky chicanes, but that was never going to happen. Chassis tuning and AWD are a couple of reasons. Another, is due to Dynamic Stability Traction Control, Volvo’s take on stability control which ensures the car maintains its line through bends, with minimal body roll.

Whilst the brake discs aren’t massive, they are absolutely sound. After all, Volvo is the Ministry of Safe, and stopping in the shortest possible distance, is a company pre-requisite.

STYLING

2006 Volove V50 T5After the P1800 ES, Audi was known as the carmaker that built elegant and stylish wagons/estates particularly with their 100 series Avants, as they call their wagon versions.

Volvo retained the crown in 1993 with the launch of the pretty 850 Wagon and in my opinion, has retained its position on the throne ever since.

The V50 T5 AWD is pure Swedish elegance. Broad shoulders, curvaceous and aerodynamic, with a few sports styling cues to let you know that this car is ‘different” from the rest of the flock.

It’s mostly about subtlety with this car although, the seventeen inch alloys along with twin, large diameter exhaust pipes, give you a hint, but nothing too obvious.

The front light assembly with the Bi-Xenon’s look twenty-first century and the high-set, V70 style rear lights add strength to the overall look.

The roofline curves away slightly at the rear of the car which adds to the sleek design of this car, as does the roof rails which of course are a useful bit of kit when talking wagons.

Although elegant, the V50 T5 AWD has a robust, Volvo look about it, and that’s something you wouldn’t want them to loose.

BEHIND THE WHEEL

“If you want to be innovative, there’s no point in looking at what the competition is doing” is what Volvo’s Design Director said when discussing the interior design of the V50, “it is far more valuable to look at what there are not doing” he went on to say.

Climbing inside the V50 T5 AWD for the first time is like walking into one of those Scandinavian design stores. Every component inside this car appears to reflect cutting edge design, in appearance, function and operation.

2006 Volove V50 T5

The ‘piece de resistance’ is the free floating central console, which houses all the major switchgear. It’s an ultra-thin, free standing piece, with a brushed aluminium face that looks more like a Bang & Olufson audio control unit. I don’t quite know how they engineered this, but the design is light years ahead of the competition.

Comfort plus, is how you would describe the sports seats in the V50 T5 AWD. Volvo understands ergonomics and orthopaedics so driver and passengers alike; will appreciate the design of these pews especially after hours in the car. The only point I need to make here is that in a “go fast’ variant such as the T5 AWD, I would like a little more side bolster support in the driver’s seat.

There’s a nice continuation of the ‘real’ brushed aluminium inlays around the electric window lifts and door handles, together with the gearshift, on the auto. That’s a pleasant change from the metal look ‘plastic’ trim which is now common place in many cars.

The standard leather covered, sports steering wheel feels good, although nothing outstanding. There is however, an optional wheel, which would be right at home on a $200,000 German supercar and at just $380 plus a small labour charge, that’s an option I’d happily go with.

As I’ve already said the centre console is the standout feature in the car, but the rest of the switchgear is stylish in a minimalist sense and very functional, which means you probably won’t need to refer the owner’s manual in the V50. Again, it’s a nice change from the button overload you find in other prestige rides.

INTERIOR COMFORT

The V50 T5 AWD at $57,950 is about luxury as much as safety. It’s a first class fit out with some electronic witchcraft usually seen in cars more expensive than this, especially when you’re talking Estates.

You start with leather and not just any leather. It’s a soft but firm texture and feels plenty thick, like it will last for years. Other features include Bi-Xenon headlights and rain sensing wipers although there’s no “auto headlights on” function and frankly, there should be, and it should be standard on this model variant.

Other goodies include the usual prestige inventory of electronic climate control, electric mirrors (heated) and windows, which are one-touch up and down on all four from the drivers console, auto dimming rear view mirror, front and rear armrests with cup holders and an electrically adjustable driver’s seat which is heated along with the front passenger seat.

The ignition key is quite a tricky bit of gear. It’s not a key in the traditional sense, but rather an electronic fob with remote functions, that docks into an ignition slot in the centre facia. More about that later.

I’ve always found the sound systems in Volvo cars to be in the premium class, and the standard 12 speaker, in-dash 6 CD stacker in the V50, doesn’t disappoint. The sound reproduction from this unit is one of the most natural I’ve heard, with zero distortion, even at unsociable volumes.

SPACE, STORAGE AND PRACTICALITY

Even though the V50 T5 AWD is a compact wagon, it’s still a wagon, so there’s flexibility and way more space than in most similar size sedans in this class.

Whilst there’s reasonable space behind the rear seats (417 litres) the luggage area can be increased substantially by virtue of the design. Fold the rear seats flat as they do, and you now have 1307 litres of space to fill up. Better still, if you or your kids surf, the front passenger seat can fold flat allowing you to carry up to a 3m long board. Of course, the rear seats are split/fold, allowing load space efficiency.

2006 Volove V50 T5

There’s room for five people in the V50 although, four adults could travel in comfort. The legroom in the rear seats isn’t overly generous (although comfortable enough) but I suspect that’s true for most vehicles in this segment.

Knick-Knack storage is less than what you’d expect in a wagon, with a smallish centre console box and even smaller front door pockets. There’s a clever hiding space behind the floating console which could hide an ipod or phone, but the glove box is CD size only. There are no rear door pockets but there are storage nets behind the front seats and some space in the rear centre armrest.

SAFETY FEATURES

It’s a Volvo; they build the safest cars on the planet!

What is it with the Swedes and the safety thing? I’m told the answer lies in two parts. First, a moose weighs in at 379kg and that’s a big animal. You see, there’s a lot of moose in Sweden and Swedes have a nasty habit of running into these Moose, hence the need for serious collision protection in a car.

Secondly, Sweden is a safe place. They have enjoyed over 250 years of peace. They are a caring society which looks after its people. Accident prevention and workplace safety are taken to levels that would put the ACTU out of business, and healthcare is utterly free of charge. Oh, and if your pregnant, they’ll give you a year and half paid parental leave.

That’s why they have this safety thing going and for my money, it’s a good thing.

There are so many safety systems built into the V50 that it’s hard to know where to start but here’s part of the list;

  • Safety Cage – a web of steel profiles to protect occupants
  • Side-Impact Protection System, SIPS – distributes crash forces over a wider area of the car along with additional reinforcement all over the car.
  • Protection in collisions involving larger vehicles – Useful if you get hit by an SUV or other large vehicle
  • Inflatable Curtain, IC protection of heads in a side impact.
  • Safety belts with pre-tensioners and all seat belt reminders.
  • Child safety - The V50 has two integrated child booster seats on board
  • Whiplash Protection System, WHIPS – built into the front seats to reduce back and neck injury if hit from behind.
  • Adaptive Airbags – airbag inflation is tailored to the force of the impact along with the steering column which collapses thereby reducing injury in accidents.
  • Energy Absorbing Interior – All panels and door sides padded with energy absorbing materials
  • Protected Zones – further protection in a frontal crash
  • Crumple zones – energy absorbing zones
  • Pedestrian Protection – absorbs crash energy for anyone colliding with front of the car.

And, to help avoid a crash in the first place, there is ABS with Emergency Brake Assist together with Dynamic Stability and Traction Control.

One other thing, don’t look for the ignition slot in usual place, its not there. You’ll find it on the left hand side of the steering wheel, where it can’t damage your knees in the event of a crash!

COST OF OWNERSHIP

I looked at the rival cars from Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW and the V50 T5 AWD is quite the bargain when you factor in the AWD capability which only the Audi shares.

The Mercedes-Benz C 200 K Estate costs $68,890 and that’s with a 1.8 litre, 4 cylinder powerplant. The BMW 323i Touring costs 71,500 but that’s with a 6-speed auto transmission and a 2.5 litre, 6 cylinder engine, and the Audi A4 Avant 2.0 litre TFSI quattro tiptronic, will set you back $71,450 or considerably more than the V50 T5 AWD.
There’s no doubt that Volvo has got a fair dose of cachet in the prestige market and the resale on the V50 T5 AWD should be above average.

Combined city/highway fuel consumption is listed at 10.2 l/100km which sounds good, but real world figures are always slightly higher.

MY OPINION

The combination of class leading performance, safety and versatility, in a luxury package, priced well below the competition, is more than enough reason to test drive the V50 T5 AWD.

By Anthony Crawford

Posted by alborz under Behind the Wheel on September 28, 2006 Comments (1)
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September 28, 2006

Kia cee’d Unveiled

I have mentioned the Kia cee’d a few times now, there was the original Kia Cee’d post which was then followed by the somewhat … oddly named Kia Cee’d Sporty Wagon. Anyway, Kia today finally gave some official press shots of the new Kia car. Kia says the car is designed in Germany as is set to change the preception of Kia’s cheap image.

Kia cee�d Unveiled

“Our Kia teams in Germany and Korea have designed the new cee’d to surpass the expectations of Kia customers and to attract European consumers who have not yet considered our brand.” Jung-Moon Park, Senior Executive Vice President and COO Kia Motors Corporation.

“They have created a truly competitive vehicle that is stylish and practical. I am sure that the new Kia cee’d will have great appeal to people all across Europe, while demonstrating our brand’s Power to Surprise,” concluded Mr Park.

Okay, so I’ll admit, the car looks great. But I mean, its … a Kia! The problem with Korean cars has usually been that the front and rear seem like they are designed by a completely different people, and someone has to make the call as to match which rear design to the front design. And they usually get it wrong!

Nevertheless, I’ll give Kia some credit, if we are to learn anything from history, and we should, it should be obvious that Korean cars are going through a similar stage to that of Japanese cars some 30 years ago. They are starting to shed their reputation as cheap and nasty cars and join the rank of Japanese manufacturers.

With rumous of Hyundai (which owns Kia) launching their own Luxury brand to compete with the likes of Lexus, I can only imagine that quality control must be on the rise!

Anyway, check out the photos! I like it!

Kia cee�d Unveiled
Posted by alborz under Car News on September 28, 2006 Comments (0)
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