Sunday, May 20, 2018

Loflyt Review: That Korean Sting

Hyper Bold

Michael McWilliams

18 May 2018

There are few cars that have been hyped as hard as the Kia Stinger, but there's a reason for the hype. This isn't just a change in presence for Kia. It's a much need injection of sport into a portion of the market consumed by SUVs. 

The accessible performance sedan lives (again).

I know I'm not alone in the feeling that something died with the passing of Australian manufacturing. The Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore were the last pockets of resistance against the incessant global appetite for high riding practicality. But those corporate battles for passion over the power of increased profitability were lost. The doors are closed, if not the wounds.

The Kia Stinger does not replace either of those cars. Nor does it out BMW a BMW (for what that's worth these days). The Stinger presents a watermark example of what a modern RWD sport sedan should be. Rigid, powerful, demonstrably fast in a straight line, and a measured dose of mongrel through the corners.

The example I drove was the 330 Si in Deep Chroma Blue. For 56k AUD you get the twin turbo inter-cooled G6DP 3.3 directed injected V6, which cranks out 272kw@6000rpm and an ass shoving 510nm from 1300 (yes, you read that right)- 4500 rpm. Stamp your boot onto that throttle and you instantly recognise (and are thankful for) the need to have 255/35/R19 rubber keeping the rear axle in line. As Russel says, "At my signal, unleash hell". And so ensues the sprint to 100, done and dusted in 5 seconds, though I doubt anyones assertion that they relented there... 
You can roll out the guns for as long as your courage allows, but you quickly exceed the point were you should be looking over your shoulder. There's a good chance that you'll be steering somewhat with your right foot, and a good chance that you'll want to do it again. 
225/40s up front are ably assisted by brembos, to help return everyone back to reality.

Let's not pretend that the Kia isn't a fine looking piece of gear, but it's clear that the motor is the star of the show. Spectators coo at the exterior, passengers giggle nervously, and eventually laugh out loud at the performance. 

Comfort wise the 330 Si manages to present a decently premium cabin, with supportive seats and a thumping sound system. There's enough room for four adults, though the rear seat will feel compromised for some.  Up front, the driver is treated to a nice sized wheel and low set driving position. The brushed silver look on black almost manages an art deco vibe, though the screen sitting proud of the dash seems more like a forced brand design addition than something integral to the product.

The liftback design constantly feels like a surprise because it's kind of new here... well, since the demise of the Telstar TX5. Okay so maybe it's just uncommon for me. Either way, the practicality is clear when it comes to loading shopping in the back. It means the whole luggage space is usable and you don't have to bend down to reach the back corner. Add in the standard Kia 7 year unlimited km warranty, and the practicality is right up there with anything from the SUV kult.

This car isn't about practicalities though. It's aiming for passion. That means creating an environment for the front row, which feels special, and allows them to be a little selfish. The Stinger does well in this department, by making the controls purposeful and easy to access prior to departure. Pilot assist tools are on the right hand side behind the wheel, with ESP program and shifter selection on the left.

The Shifter is well shaped for the hand, and the starter button has the solid aluminum reassurance that you are starting a machine, rather than turning on a stereo.  The whole thing feels like you are slotted in the breach ready to fire. There is a sense though, that you are programming for launch.

When you've made your selections, checked your mirrors and warned your passenger, you can keep both hands on the wheel, and use the paddle shifters to stoke the fires. This steel-springed version doesn't rely on electrickery to get you around a corner. It's limited in compliance which demands the driver take note and care of the road surface. Not harsh, but an ever present firmness as a reminder that, yes, you can take that corner.

If you are keen on sport, it's best to adjust the drive mode accordingly, because default/comfort mode is for numpties. Sport is a much more appropriate intent, and the Stinger responds with more squirt at better angles. Slotted behind the long bonnet, it feels pendulum like when you push those big rears but could do with more sharpness up front. You can't stand on the nose and tip. It's more like stand on the brembos and swing.  

It's no great stretch to imagine falling in love with this car. Dreamy good looks, prodigious torque and seating position that immerses the driver, all add up to a winning package. 

Prices start from $46,990 for the 200S, and stretch up to $60,000 AUD for the 330 GT. That seems a little sharp compared to out going local performance sedan prices, but those horses have bolted. 

In its own right, the Stinger is a car that car people can fall in love with as a daily. And just as importantly, it can get non-car people to fall in love with driving gain... now, about that third pedal...


The Good:
Performance, comfort, technology and all that toooorrrqquue;
Looks superb
Same outstanding 7 year unlimited KM warranty

The Bad:
A little narrow in the second row, middle seat is raised;
Price kind of.... but not really;
Sticky outy screen looks a bit awks
More front end pointiness please (but similarity may come with more seat time...) 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Small Victories

Small Victories

Review: Hyundai i30 o'clock

08 March 18

Michael McWilliams

Is this the model to bring Hyundai another fistful of trophies?
...well it didn't win COTY, perhaps it's enough to win hearts and minds.

The first time I drove an i30, I wasn't very impressed. It was a GD series ActiveX spec which relied on mediocre looking alloys supplementing a few trinkets in order to move some low priced units.

There's was no shock and awe, but it left me nodding, with my internal monologue settling on a score of "that's ok. Not too bad". Straight after, I jumped into the base model 7 spd DCT turbo diesel. It was silver with wheel covers and not a fancy piece of tech in sight.

Nonetheless, it immediately elevated my opinion to "ooh, they really know what they are doing".

The 7 speed DCT had it's niggles (as all DSGs do), but there was a clear sense that the level of control across that front axle was robust. And the fuel economy blew my socks off, returning 4.2l/100kms (56USMPG) on my daily run to Brisbane.

Third time around the buoy, was the 2.0 Direct injected SR. A little bit gruff, a little bit noisy and excitedly pointy, the last iteration of the i30 GD5 Series II was the last time I drove a normally aspirated 4 cyl that still felt like it wanted to play around the top end.

It was a strong run for the GD series. There were months breaking 5000 units, and it has no doubt created another generation, not just ready to buy again, but to recommend the Korean brand to their friends and family.

Next Generation

The new PD series though, that is something else. This is the start of the era when people stop saying "that's nice for a Korean car" and start wondering why they are paying so much for the competition.

The new i30 has a diverse range on offer, with the poise and technology to hold it in good stead against most competitors. These are the cars which create an expectation for future Hyundai products.

Active Improvements

The entry model i30 is now called the "Go" which you can slide in under the 20k mark, but it's an arbitrary limbo, so stick your neck out and try the Active. I first got my hands on a white auto, and to be honest, it was a little underwhelming to look at. That's because the biggest money has been spent on the way it drives.

Gone is the entry level 1.8 MPI of the previous generation. In its place is a modest tuned 2.0 direct injected petrol unit backed by a traditional 6 speed automatic. The pairing makes light work of most regular duties, and can be encouraged to push on when there's a break in the traffic.

Comfort is quite good but for some reason the head rest seems more pronounced than others. It makes the cabin feel like you're sitting very upright. As a result, the dash, with the straight up and down touch screen feels a bit too close for comfort.

The base model wheel was also rather plasticky, matching with other interior plastics, which detract from the overall feel of the cabin, but not the driving experience. 

Nonetheless, I had zero problems operating the GPS (standard in the Active!) and Android Auto, though I am desperate for the day when Android Auto and Apple Car Play go wireless (this year allegedly). The touch screen is ample, and controls are intuitive. 


Size wise the Hyundai has remained a compact option. The interior fits my family just, but all preferred the Tucson that we drove over Christmas (no surprise there).

The dimensions though, do make the i30 a great city option. Maneuverability is excellent, and the traditional style auto is well matched to urban life. I even preferred the higher profile tyres which are pothole proof (virtually) meaning dodgy roads are not really of concern.

The whole package elevates the new i30 to a very comfortable spot in the market. Best of all, even this base model drives well enough that regular humans will feel the difference, and hopefully appreciate how a decent car feels to drive.

Active Wear

The headline for the SR model is the 1.6 direct injected turbo. It's pulls hard enough to make you want to back off, and corners like you need to lift. There's no great roar or noise so you end up going faster than intended. 

I had a few moments where I was reminding myself of the old adage: a superior pilot uses superior judgment to avoid situations that require superior skill. 

BYO courage. I ignored my advice.

The DCT gearbox swaps cogs fast enough for fangio and for the most part, will pick them before you do. While the front isn't as pointy as I like, it was probably due to the higher entry speed afforded by the hairdryer whistling away beneath the bonnet.

It remains composed on most occasions though I'd appreciate a little more untidiness. 


Of course the SR I drove was packed to the gunwales with everything from Lane Keeping Assist, Emergency Automatic Braking and the devils cruise control (Radar Cruise). That means the SR pilot can pay even less attention to the road than ever before. Conditions permitting, the car keeps you on the straight and narrow. There are caveats with that which I shall cover in a vid, so subscribe here-> (Yube LOFYT).

Other niceties include a better quality, and rather colourful trim, including orange seat belts (yes I liked them!). The memory drivers seat was upside every which way adjustable and heated and cooled. I had no real trouble getting comfortable, but was often distracted by the moon roof, which I kept staring up through, just because I could.  

The Full Quid

The range starts at 19,990 for the Go 6M 2.0DI petrol, but for a measly $995 clams you're into the Active spec. Diesel is a $2500 option on either and yes, they can both come with a manual (huzzah! thank you at least for the choice!), or $2700 for the diesel auto option as it is an upgrade to the DCT. 

There are a plethora of additional combinations, numbering 14 in total when you include the shiny new N Performance GTI/WRX/CivicTypeR  competitor, topping out at $40k. There's even a cushy Elite diesel for those who would rather sip and coast, than point and shoot.

For me though, the sweet spot lies with the SR 1.6T 6M, at a rather agreeable $26k. You miss out on the fancy roof, but it will still drive like you shouldn't, whenever you want to. 

Chicken Dinner

The change from the GD to PD series was not only a generational leap for the i30, it was almost a segment jump. In my humble opinion, it doesn't really matter if the i30 wins Australia's most popular car, COTY, Australia's Best Car, or whatever other gong is being thrown around. 

What the i30 is really winning is credibility, and that pays off well after the dust has settled in the trophy cabinet. 

Disclosure: Hyundai loaned me these vehicles each with a tank of fuel. I used it all and then some :-P

Check out more on Instagram: #I30Oclock

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

To the Grand Canyon and Back Again


I took a trip down to L'America to trade some drinks for a pint of gold. Apparently I wasn't very good at discerning lyrics when I was a kid, but this song formed in my mind what the hell America was really about. Could it be true? Could L'America change my luck? Could it teach me how to... find myself?

I'm betting there is not a corner on this earth that has not been influenced by film, or music, or the politics of America. Such is its influence that people from all corners of the globe see fit to comment on its behaviour as if they had some stake it.

The biggest problem is, with 300,000,000+ souls in the US, you are bound to have some ...controversial spokespersons, whether you want them or not.  That which is preached loudest from the tower, defines those who dwell within, and L'Americas greatest export is preaching. Even worse, most of the stories the rest of the world gets about America, if it's not about picking fights with Kim Jong Un, are the kind of news stories that are played after the weather. For example, elevator footage of Jay-Z getting his ass kicked by his sister in law, or, some kid almost getting hit by a car in the local quicky-mart by a run-away weiner mobile replica.

Accordingly, America wears a kind of stigma: You're noisy, opinionated, rude, pushy, self righteous, crass, deluded and ignorant of anything outside your own border.

All of the above is a stereotype of course, and Australia has one too. Ours is slightly less insulting than the American one, but includes more beers and homicidal animals.

I'm happy to say that stereotypes only last up until the point you test them. More often than not, your first attempt at proof will fail.

Similarly, when I picked up the 2017 Buick Lacrosse premium with my mum [mom] and my son, I had a stereotype in my head which failed the moment I tested it.

First Impressions

I've seen plenty of press shots of course (which I instantly disliked), but face to face the front of the Lacrosse has a very cohesive presence. Everything looks like you would expect. Tastefully proportioned and jeweled active headlamps, straddle a grille adorned with a well presented tri-colour [color] badge. The chrome touches are restrained but present, as are the fog lamps and a fantastic Forest Metallic finish. That paint!

In profile the Lacrosse appears elongated thanks to a pronounced nose, but panning around reveals those classic American coke bottle hips, once again displaying its wares without having to shout about it. The big wheels were familiar, similar in design to the top spec Astra, though the Buick danced on 20 inch hoops. 245/40R20 Bridgestone Potenzas to be precise.

From a visual standpoint, again the Lacrosse managed to hit the extremity without appearing gauche. Only the portholes left me a little cold, but I understand the demands of tradition (another trait of America that will play out later).

Overall the Lacrosse comes across as a clean presentation with a good quality feel. I'll leave a question mark over the tail lights though. They appear unfinished. In this spec, in that colour, as a truck driving tweeker mentioned as he bounced past at a service station; "that's a full bodied automobile".

The Lounge

The trunk had no trouble taking luggage for two adults and one kid. If I had bought the whole family, I'm betting a SUV (or gasp, a wagon) would have been more appropriate. Bonus points for the storage under the centre console and a big centre bin.

Nonetheless, I jumped in the wrong [left] hand side and sunk into the beige leather drivers seat. It may have been the fact that we'd just flown 14 hours from Brisbane to LAX, but the seat felt goldilocks good. Presentation of the rest of the interior was intuitive, as was operation of the MyLink/Intellilink system. The woody trim looked pretty grandpa spec but not enough to annoy.

A few adjustments of the all electric seat had me in the best spot I could achieve, but there was the imposition of the A-pillar. Maybe it was simply because normally I'm closer to the other A-pillar, but generally speaking, the Lacrosse has quite a swept back roof line. In time, my concern faded in to an after thought.

There was no such complaints from my passengers. Mum was comfortable enough and my son had already passed out in the capacious rear seat. This was, after all, the first time he'd flown through time and arrived three hours earlier than he departed. He also only slept for 20 minutes for the whole flight.

The 1 hour 20 minute trip from LAX to our hotel in Anaheim was uneventful, that is, if you weren't part of the accident that created the crawling though well mannered jam of traffic.

Road Manners

The funny thing about LA is just how flat it is, and conversely how awful the roads are. Seriously, some parts of the highways in and around LA were so rough, in Australia we would use them as warnings that you are coming to an intersection and needed to stop. The frequency of expansion joints was no doubt accentuated by the 20 inch wheels and low profile rubber which translated to quite a bit of road noise. It's not quite as bad as some of Australias coarse chip bitumen, but even with the active dampers set to comfort, I was reaching for the excellent Bose stereo...

The true test would come when we finally headed towards Arizona and the biggest (literally and figuratively) icon that America has to offer: the Grand Canyon. Our only timeline was to be back in LA to catch a cruise ship in eight days time. That meant we just put Grand Canyon Village into the GPS and hit go. I'll leave the details of the first four days in LA to a story later told, but let me just say that we did both Disneyland Parks in two days.

Blasting east into the desert toward the Grand Canyon was like shedding a saccharine cocoon.

Just as we left the outskirts, we touched base with some other icons, such as an hour in Walmart, but it was the hills and landscape that truly made me feel like I was on an American road trip. Well that and the over-sized tourist trap concrete dinosaur towering over a defunct roadside restaurant, not to mention the dishwater that America swears is coffee. But the rawness of the terrain was something new.

It was becoming clear that Kingman would be our first stop, so when reception would allow, mum jumped onto the Buicks internal 4G Wifi network with her ipad to search for hotels. I hadn't mentioned wifi to my son yet as he was happy scary passing motorists on the highway with his Walmart approved halloween mask.

As we hit some way point on the GPS and started heading North, it was clear we were becoming more secluded. We paused and got out to stretch our legs at an intersection somewhere that I don't quite recall, and only one solitary vehicle passed us by. A sense of liberation washed over me and the fairy floss [cotton candy] encased deep-fried sensation of Disneyland had passed.

I had miles of open road ahead of me, and a willing 310 HP V6 American sedan seemingly built exactly for this purpose.

Statutory Limitations

As with driving in any new country, your capacity for risk analysis doesn't change. Judging of speed, handling and exploitation of what you have under the bonnet (and the right foot) all meet with the same driver. What does change is law enforcement. In Australia, if you are caught by the Police exceeding the speed limit by say 10 miles an hour, that's a couple of hundred dollars down the toilet. If you are caught doing that more than 4 times in 5 years, that's your license gone. Meanwhile in the desert, everyone (noting the infrequency we actually encountered people) is doing 80-90 mph, where it's posted at ~65.

We sat on 70 when mum was awake and between 80-90... when she wasn't. However, her slumber (and therefore my comfort) has disturbed when we wafted across a country sweeper with something less than absolute confidence. With the Lacrosse active dampers set to comfort, the sedan doesn't give me the feedback I am used to. Neither the tiller, nor the seat really keep you up to date, and as with any vehicle where comfort is the priority, driver inputs can often require more corrections.

I dialled up the dampers to sport, which allowed more road noise in to accompany the increased confidence. It mustn't have been too much of an imposition, because mum went back to sleep, and I went back to chasing the now fading horizon.

Once again the environment evolved as the sun went down. Surrounding hills changed colours and shapes until they become silhouettes and blended into a single mass, contrasting against the now properly lit country night sky. Dead ahead, the projector headlights are on the straight and narrow illuminating afar, but still not enough to see the end of the road. To either side, you can see the pale blue of the star light on the plant pocked desert sand. Straight up, through the panoramic sunroof, is a depth of stars that warrants inspection. But I am on a mission... dinner. So it's right foot pushed a little harder. The Lacrosse is flying just a little above cruising speed. I get the sense that this is where it does it's best work.

Long Term Relationship

The next day we travelled along route 66 and ran into some awfully tacky tourism. Route 66 is an icon on its own, though I doubt many realise [realize] the reality of it until they arrive. It's a long and at times winding road, which in a land yacht from 1959 would be a pretty taxing affair. Folks must have arrived at their destination in desperate need of sustenance. Cracking the lid off an ice cold Coke would truly have been a relief. In a modern car like the Lacrosse, motorists need to lured in by overt signage and attribution to days gone by. Mostly it was overdone and some towns were more desperate than others. There is the danger of lost romance, but you just need to remind yourself, it's about the road, not the never-ending line of shot glasses that are technically the same as the ones you see in the next town, just with a different name on them.

I needed encouragement to pull over. In all honesty I probably could have driven 75% more each day than we did. It was more to do with passenger comfort (read: boredom) which defined where we bedded each night, until we hit the Grand Canyon.

What an amazing sight....whelp, get back in the car. Let's do some more touring. :D

Okay it didn't quite pan out that way, but I think you are getting my point. I never tired of the Lacrosse. In fact as my familiarity grew , the more drawn I became. If the Grand Canyon wasn't so grand, we probably would have only stayed for the afternoon, such was my eagerness to get back behind the wheel. We actually came back the next day, then stopped in at the West Rim on the way to Vegas. (again, see more of this in a later story)

Stereo A-Typical

In the end I spent 10 days with the Lacrosse and 21 days in just that little south west corner of the US. What did I learn? Y'all like to say y'all, but more than that, y'all have a clear expectation about how everything should be, then execute the shit out of that thing until it's bigger than anyone else could possibly imagine or sustain. The same goes for the adherence to societal conventions. Crossing the street needs to be performed in accordance with the counter that says how long you can take, lest you experience the wrath of thy horn. There are burgers everywhere and franchises are distributed like street lights: one on every corner. And they all basically make the same thing.

There is nothing wrong with that, of course, as long as you are looking for something that's already on the menu. My mum asked for a cup of tea at Universal Studios and the server had to call for assistance!

Australia is on a similar tangent, but with less resources, we end up weeding offerings down to the lowest common denominator. The Lacrosse inadvertently is the personification of this concept. It is executed as well as a mid-large size V6 Buick sedan could be expected to be executed. It dots all the 'i's and crosses all the 't's, achieving standards but not pushing any of them. It's a solid car that wont set the world on fire.

Ultimately though,I measure the success of a product by its ability to enable the driver to achieve their objective, irrespective of whether that objective is daily commuting or transiting the South West corner of a desert.
The Lacrosse kicked all the goals I aimed it at, with a well mannered growl under the boot, and a comfortable suite to relax in during the LA crawl. It drank a little more than a Turbo 4 or a hybrid, sitting around 8.7 L/100kms [27USMPG] but it tickled my preference for normally aspirated conveyance.

It's not the kind of car to move markets, but it is the type of car to attract traditionalists. And it was the type of car which showed me that sticking to the script allows you enough time to... find yourself, on the remote highways of America. Despite the sedan market rapidly getting crushed by the #SUVKULT, the Lacrosse was the perfect weapon for the job.

Its clean execution of what a US highway road tripper should be, is just part of the reason why I already want to go back.

P.S. Big thanks to Buick and Michael Accardi for sorting out a little piece of America to come with us on our holiday.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Take Your Medicine

If they had cancer and I had the cure in a pill, they still wouldn’t eat it.

This was the response a colleague gave me on my inquiry with respect to his presentation at a trade show. The cure he was talking about is a concept that reliability professionals have been relying on for decades: Reliability Centred Maintenance (RCM).

However, most frustratingly for my colleague, attendees were listening but were totally unwilling to take their medicine.

Reliability Centred Maintenance is the conceptual framework that allows maintenance managers to create the most cost effective maintenance strategy for their operating environment.
It is the same concept employed across the world that has resulted in exponential improvements in air travel safety.

For the record, here are the seven RCM questions:
1.       What does it do (determine expected performance for operating environment)?
2.       How can the asset fail (define modes of failure, such as reduced braking ability or reduced output)?
3.       What causes the failure (define causes such as heat, friction, short circuit, crack)?
4.       What happens when the asset fails (brakes can’t stop, tank leaks etc.)?
5.       What are the consequences of each failure (safety/production risks)?
6.       How can we predict or prevent failure (maintenance monitoring or actions)?
7.       If you can’t be proactive, what else can be done?

In the hands of a trained practitioner, these questions can optimise the maintenance strategies of an entire organisation, and ensure that you renew/replenish critical components before they fail. Additionally, through a proactive education campaign, this can ensure that maintenance managers also understand the consequence of running their equipment too hard.

Two of the primary upshots are, less unplanned maintenance due to reduced failures, and, reduced downtime due to predicted appropriate spares holdings and service scheduling.

They all sound like positives right? Sure, but as any good professional knows, every function has a cost. The cost of RCM is primarily incurred when investing in the right resources and people to help your organisation.

In line with the hopes and dreams of managers that want something for nothing, the cost of handing an RCM book to your maintenance manager and assuring them that “he/she’s got this” is far, far, lower than getting a consultant in to do the job for them.

Unfortunately, initial cost is only one side of the equation. The truth of the matter is that you WILL NOT get the same value out of your investment, from someone trying to learn and implement RCM principles from scratch.

As I learned during my short tenure with an Asset Management consultancy, mature practitioners don’t need to recite the seven questions. The logic behind the questions becomes instinctive, and once you have that instinct, the road to optimisation is the only logical path.

And therein lies the problem for my colleague (being that he was overtly mature). What was logic for him may as well have been written in binary for the audience. They could only see the cost, which can be a very bitter pill to swallow.   

The benefit of getting the right people to optimise maintenance will be seen, not only in plant uptime and availability, but in the culture of your maintenance organisation. This is a long term benefit that continues to pay dividends long after the initial investment has been repaid many times over.

Of course the consequence of the third option (doing nothing) is death so…... 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Long Road to Redemption

On instagram (@LoflytKULTURE) I recently asked what it will take for potential customers to forgive Holden for what ever trespasses they have perpetrated, and judge the products on their merit. It’s an interesting question because their road to ill repute is different to that of other brands. At the turn of the century Holden where the second most trusted brand in the country.
Let’s take Hyundai for example. They have been in the country for 31 years, and are now in a position where they are the third most popular brand in the country. In fact, they are the most popular brand in Australia which doesn’t have a light commercial truck (read pick up or ute).
I have many stories about people who have sworn off the South Korean manufacturer thanks to unreliable products that have come apart in owners hands.
Most recently, however, I saw a middle aged guy looking at an i20 for sale on the side of the road.
"Nothing remarkable about that" I hear you say.
I concur, but parked next to it was his i30, a few years old but in good condition.
Is it too much to assume that he is considering the i20 for his son/daughters first car?

Of course, this isn’t limited to Hyundai. Every manufacturer needs to earn their chops. That includes a period of self-improvement which often requires a domestic product acquiring the functional demands of foreign markets.
I’ve recently spent a great deal of time behind the wheel of many South Korean products, and each one draws me a little closer to that point where I no longer regard them as a second choice.
Rather, I now have the Kia Sorento as a lead runner in my families quest to replace our much loved Holden Commodore wagon. More on that another day, but 5 years ago, they didn’t even feature as a third string option.
So what has changed to allow the Sorento a look in? Why do I consider the Elantra GT a worthy daily commuter? Why did I recommend a co-worker look at an Optima GT?
Was it marketing? Well I just searched my brain for a memorable Kia ad…. still searching……”we’re living in the back of the carrr” (nope that’s the catchy earworm Mitsubishi ad).

It must be the product then. Having driven the Sorento extensively, I can’t say it’s a match for the Commodore wagon, but as with the other Kia products, it has the basics right.
So perhaps it's not the product... well, not just the product.
The reality is that all of those things make up a brands reputation. When you back it up with a segment leading warranty, just like Hyundai (5 years) and Kia (7 years), the result is trust.
That is what the Koreans are earning, year after year.
Equally, that is what Holden has lost recently, as they allowed older generation Korean products to die on their vine/lots.
I've driven the new Astra, and it is very good. The RS has an amazing amount of technology, drives like a Holden should, delivers exceptional economy, and even manages to provide a solid amount of value despite immigrating all the way from Europe.
But that is not enough. More new product, better marketing and longer warranty, is the only way Holden is going to earn back the consumers trust, and claw their way back to the top.
Oh, and time. There are no shortcuts on the road to redemption.
See more Korean Stuff here: #KOREADRIVEN
See more of the Astra here: #INSTASTRALOGIC

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Hit For Six

The irony of most non-Australians not understanding the title of this article is not lost on me, nor is that irony misplaced.

Hitting a cricket ball out on the full is worth six runs, kind of like a home run.

The term, just like "home run", is regional and not necessarily appreciated by Canadians or Fijians, both of which have terrible international cricket teams.

Meanwhile, ask me which sport involves face dodging or butt caps and I'll head straight to google (It's Lacrosse apparently which also includes ground balls, D cuts and a poke check).

Many moons ago, cars were equally diverse and regional. Globalisation is technically kind of new and most vehicles went where they belonged (eg, British cars followed the British empire).

It's the proliferation of trade that has allowed new and amazing cars to become available anywhere in the world. For example, the Holden Commodore has been sold in every continent on Earth and is currently sold as a niche model in the United States. 

Likewise, the most ubiquitous mid sized car on Earth, is currently built in Australia for supply to Middle East, Pacific Islands and New Zealand. Our Camry engines are even delivered into Asia (surprising considering the density of manufacturing in that region). In fact the Camry is the most exported car from our sun burnt shores. 

That popularity is replicated in the domestic market with a top 6 finish last year, beating long time representative of Australian blokiness, the Holden Commodore. 

In return, our puny market has a ridiculous amount of competitors all vying for our cash. A borderline ridiculous 65 manufacturers! 

I've never hidden my preference for Commodores. Having owned seven and reviewed quite a number of them on, I appreciate their mile eating capability and in particular, engines that give credence to their associated stereotypes.

Never once have I attempted a donut, nor have I sought to impress a young lady with a line locky.

I do, however, indulge in other Commodore-esque activities like perfect exploitation of round-a-bouts, steering with the loud pedal and night flying excursions on long country sweepers.

Now feel free to call me biased, but I can't seem to ween myself off rorty 6 cylinder normally aspirated motors. That seems to be a major problem, because V6s are right up there with sugar, on societies hit list of things that must die. 

Currently, down my end of the market, the gruntier choice is typically a turbo or gasp, a turbo diesel (!). 

I've been behind the wheel of some of Europes decent oil burners (thanks Jaguar and Volvo for the opportunity) and been left mildly amused. No doubt both instances ultimately could wind up and carry enough speed to vanish in to the distance, using barely a sniff of the devils fuel, but they didn't really get my heart racing.

Some turbos even have plenty of power delivered in an authoritative shove in the back. Swift? For sure. Engaging? I don't know. I can't really hear what's going on....whoooosh.

They get you from A to B faster but that has never been the point. I need all my senses filled, even if it empties my wallet a little faster. 

So what ARE my options in the future? We know the Commodore has but 5 months (!) left of being made EVER. It's replacement will have a V6 flagship which should come in around 60k but will electrickefy everyone into thinking it's an admirable compromise for the loss of a national icon...

It appears that I'll be waiting for the next Camry to come out. That's right, the much maligned global king pin of steady-as-she-goes, Toyota, oft considered the brand that relies on porridge and refrigerators, will be one of very few manufacturers that will offer a V6 option for regular punters in Australia.

If they actually let the Aussies tune the suspension, it should be an absolute hoot, because the Aurion that I drove in March was everything an Aussie car should be: rorty, pointed, gruff, borderline unwieldy and too much fun for the national speed limit. 

Toyota have been in Australia since 1958 and the most Australian car they built is the last one. One that nobody (aside from the Police) buys. 

The Sportivo Aurion has a foot operated park brake, simple somewhat creaky plastic centre console and the illusion of sport seats. For that it should be burned at the stake.

Conversely, the torque steer is diabolical which requires and rewards all your attention, whilst the suspension keeps everything flat and responsive. The eye seering red paint and insectoid projector headlamps make baby jeezus cry and you can fit adults in the back seat. 

Moreover, there is a sunscreen on the back window that I can retract at the push of a button so I can flip you off when you mouth profanities at my round-a-bout skills. 

It's real world practicality mixed with actual real world feels and I miss it. Even my wife misses it! If it was a wagon, we'd probably buy it.

Imagine how much we are going to miss it's compatriots when they all die come October.

I think I need a bundy.

See more of this and some historic Toyotas on my IG tag (it's a link, just click it->): #TOYOTAREKISHI

If you're crazy enough, buy an Aurion here: For $44k some people will think you're the po po and the rest of society will think you're responsible.

Find me here: 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Swings and Roundabout Numbers

Loflyt Calculatron Numbers: 2016

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec (av) YTD Nov 2016 Est
Toyota 12453 16191 17849 16567 17201 22083 17465 18560 16716 16348 18162 17235.91 189595 206830.9 1
Mazda 10016 10205 10228 8461 9608 12455 8460 9258 12009 7921 9825 9858.727 108446 118304.7 2
Hyundai 7001 7701 9700 8643 9005 12300 7603 6536 9319 8704 7991 8591.182 94503 103094.2 3
Holden 6824 7340 8355 6710 7405 11376 7071 7667 8564 7521 7750 7871.182 86583 94454.18 4
Ford 5504 6656 6481 6842 6584 8316 6894 6849 7280 6508 6827 6794.636 74741 81535.64 5
Mitsubishi 5007 6681 6519 4178 6154 8726 5412 6136 6701 5227 5875 6056 66616 72672 6
Nissan 5563 5989 5811 4044 5585 6781 5304 5616 5177 5543 6341 5614 61754 67368 7
Volkswagen 4241 4922 5316 4732 4565 5933 4193 3893 4380 4869 4862 4718.727 51906 56624.73 8
Subaru 3405 3538 4825 3156 4002 5135 3356 3362 4050 4140 4141 3919.091 43110 47029.09 9
Kia 3116 3067 3366 3025 3542 5170 3555 3710 3687 3543 3573 3577.636 39354 42931.64 10
Mercedes-Benz 3099 3236 3728 3303 3373 3942 3180 3295 3565 3477 3584 3434.727 37782 41216.73
Honda 2898 3279 3421 2107 2663 5265 3198 3090 3783 3404 3502 3328.182 36610 39938.18
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec YTD Nov
Hilux 2341 3261 3897 3384 3675 4613 3136 3311 3209 3352 3839 3456.182 38018 1 41474.18
Corolla 2758 3455 3612 2959 3333 4427 3427 3554 3423 3210 3245 3400.273 37403 2 40803.27
i30 1852 2461 4198 4143 3771 6432 2216 1864 2741 2718 2514 3173.636 34910 3 38083.64
Ranger 2418 2655 2960 2973 3115 4078 2874 2964 2903 3217 3410 3051.545 33567 4 36618.55
Mazda 3 3722 3354 3145 2512 3243 4112 1501 2818 3491 2191 2877 2996.909 32966 5 35962.91
Commodore 1242 2331 2559 1908 2255 3054 1874 1952 2366 2101 2088 2157.273 23730 6 25887.27
CX-5 1750 2156 2252 1675 2117 2643 1933 1902 2662 1612 1956 2059.818 22658 7 24717.82
Camry 3049 2172 2458 2135 2957 12771
Triton 2165 2740 2021 2858 2246 12030
Accent 2034 1726 2189 2009 1995 9953
Tucson 2065 1849 2209 1845 7968
Golf 1692 1752 1811 1753 7008
Nissan Entrail 1991 1655 1938 5584
Colorado 1691 2397 4088
RAV4 1825 1766 3591
Navara 1670 1752 3422
CX-3 1604 1744 3348
Land Cruiser 1982 1982
ASX 1781 1781