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Daewoo's recent acquisition of SsangYong has brought about some enhancements to the Musso four-wheel-drive wagon which are claimed to improve its looks and performance. Whilst Daewoo's version of the Musso is largely unaltered, they have made changes to the front lights and grille, removed the side panel cladding, altered the rear lights and modified the suspension. The mid size four-wheel drive segment is quite competitive, with no less than eight other similar sized vehicles, each looking for a share of the market.
Airconditioning, CD player, power steering, power mirrors and windows, plus a driver's airbag and central locking, are standard on all models. Previously available only in naturally aspirated form, the 2.9 litre five cylinder SOHC diesel engine made under licence from Mercedes-Benz, is now turbocharged and intercooled. The automatic transmission in the diesel model is a BTR unit, whereas the petrol model still uses the Benz transmission. In contrast to the petrol engined Musso's full-time four-wheel-drive system, the diesel model is available with only part-time four-wheel drive. Minor modifications to the front and rear suspension have resulted in a noticeably firmer ride, with improved handling characteristics. The distinctive and unique styling of the Daewoo Musso remains basically the same as the SsangYong version.
All seating is comfortable, except for the rear centre position, with acceptable head and leg room throughout.
The Musso is still only average off-road, being restricted by limited ground clearance and a combination of low engine power plus automatic transmission.
Serviceable items in the engine compartment are very accessible, with service intervals scheduled every 10,000 km.
There are no mind blowing changes as a result of Musso's new parentage, although the subtle differences are sufficient to give it a fresh identity. After ten years Land Rover has introduced the first major update to its Discovery four wheel drive model, with its Australian debut at this year's Melbourne Motor Show. Featuring new and improved engines, an all new automatic transmission, upgrades in suspension, security, comfort and safety, plus a host of electronic gadgetry, Rover is set to launch the Discovery into the 21st Century, competing against other mid-range four wheel drives such as Prado, Pajero, Jackaroo, Pathfinder, Jeep and Musso. The 4.0 litre petrol V8 has been retained as Discovery's base engine, with enhancements to the engine management system, cylinder block, crankshaft, pistons and fuel system, giving it an increase in power and torque, plus a reduction in emissions. The manual transmission has been upgraded to cope with increased torque, but the automatic is an all new ZF unit with torque converter lock-up, sport and normal modes for more precise shifting under acceleration, and a mode to enable manual shifting with a 'hold' facility when low range is selected. Although coil springs are used at the front and rear of the base models, self-levelling air suspension is available as an option in the rear. The four-wheel disc brake system employs a number of electronic controls all of which are an extension of the standard Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS). Occupant comfort is generally good as far as head and shoulder room is concerned, although legroom is somewhat compromised in all positions. Driving the new Discovery is a relatively easy and pleasant experience, in spite of the European column stalks, with good side and forward vision, plus clearly marked and easy to reach controls. With its rugged outdoor image the Discovery incorporates a number of improvements that enhance its on and off-road ability. Holden has widened the appeal of its award-winning Astra with the addition of a four-door sedan.
Pricing for the new sedans is the same as for Astra hatches; $20,990 for the City and $23,990 for the CD. On the safety front, both versions of the Astra come with driver and front passenger airbags, pyrotechnic front seat belt pre-tensioners, and a patented clutch pedal break-away system, and boast an advanced body design with special deformation zones and an occupant safety cell.
Other standard items include power steering, tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment, height adjustable driver's seat, six speaker sound system with speed dependent volume, remote control exterior mirrors and road speed sensitive intermittent wipers. CD versions add cruise control, power windows, a single CD player, heated and power operated exterior mirrors, and 15 inch alloy wheels (four only).
Though not quite as stylish as the five-door hatch, the Astra sedan is a neat little sedan that displays a European flair in its appearance. Quality of finish looked good throughout in the CD test car and the fully galvanised body promises long-term protection against corrosion.
Front seat comfort is reasonable, but from a personal point of view, I would prefer a bit more lateral support in the shaping and slightly longer cushions for more thigh support. As in many vehicles, the centre rear seating position is fairly uncomfortable, due to limited seat padding and floor hump intrusion. Though the Astra sedan is not fast in terms of acceleration times, its engine characteristics are such that it feels pleasantly responsive when called on to accelerate.
The only time the engine disappointed was with the air conditioning operating, when there was a tendency to hesitate when accelerating from low speeds.
With the optional anti-lock system, the test Astra's four-wheel disc brakes provided confident and secure braking during testing.
The Holden Astra sedan is a welcome addition to the Astra model range as it complements the hatchbacks without sacrificing any of those models' desirable features.
It's a big call but the Holden Commodore VF could well be the best car ever made in Australia.



Certainly few would argue that the VF qualifies as an ultimate evolution of the Commodore, a range that started in 1978. Very little has been carried over from the VE (think cabin glass, door skins, exterior mirrors, centre armrest lid and rear vents), with some 70 per cent of the VF being new.
The newcomer weighs in more than 40kg lighter, thanks to items such as aluminium bonnet and boot and redesigned lightweight aluminium suspension and mechanical components.
And for an electric power steering system, the VF has one of the best, being speed sensitive, nicely weighted and in full communication with the driver. Standard equipment includes Auto Park Assist (which autonomously steers the vehicle into parallel or reverse parking positions), Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB and AUX inputs, auto lights, voice recognition and dual-zone climate control.
But it's not just creature comforts and practical items - safety is paramount, with six airbags, electronic stability control, ABS and traction control fitted. In the great tradition of the Aussie family car, Holden's Commodore VF is very much complete.
A European make splitting a Holden and Toyota at the pointy end of the Large car class might not sit comfortably with some people but, make no mistake, Peugeot's 508 HDi Allure deserves the runner-up step on the podium. It delivers well above average in the critical area of comfort and high importance practicality, build and finish, ride, handling and braking. An impressive feature is the Available Parallel Parking Space Measurement system, which checks and advises the driver if there is sufficient space and the degree of difficulty required. Since its debut as the replacement for the V6 Camry, the Aurion AT-X has consistently been in contention for Australia's Best Cars awards success.
With the lowest price of our three 2013 finalists, the AT-X adds to its value for money proposition with best-in-class running and repair costs.
The latter has much to do with Aurion's last update, where design changes to the front and rear seats improved comfort and support, especially for taller drivers by way of more adjustment. So much so that, when put to the test in the proper environment, the handling a€“ particularly body control and grip a€“ is pushed to keep up. This will be short and sweet a€“ the BMW 4-Series Grand Coupe is almost exactly like the 3-Series, with the notable exception of having a hatchback-type boot and a roofline that mimics that of the otherwise-identical two-door 4-Series Coupe. Everything else is as per the 3- and 4-Series cars a€“ check our review of the BMW 428i here. This car will, according to BMW insiders, will "account for customer needs even more adequately than in the past".
Listed here are some of the businesses that make up the National Roads and Motorists'A Association family of businesses, products and services. The acquisition of SsangYong also increases Daewoo's penetration into the Australian market.
Contrary to normal pricing, the turbo diesel with manual transmission is the cheapest in the range at $41,500, whilst the petrol engined version with automatic transmission is priced at $47,000. Apart from transmission choice, the only other option listed is alloy wheels on the diesel models. On initial take-off throttle response is slow and this engine is inclined to be sluggish and harsh sounding whilst under load. In spite of its different origin, the BTR unit is similar in operation, with a tardy shift pattern and a selector lever gate which is still not ideal in off-road situations. This is selected by means of a rotary switch on the dash, enabling high range four-wheel drive to be engaged on the move, whereas low range selection requires the vehicle to be stopped and placed in neutral. The power assisted four wheel disc brakes remain unchanged, however they did suffer some fade and premature lock-up in our performance testing.
The size and shape of the grille and the front lights, now incorporating the turn signal lamps, are the main differences from the front view, whereas the side view has been enhanced by replacing the cladding with a fairing along the sill panel, and the modified rear lamps complete the new look from the rear. Most of the shortcomings evident in the previous version were in its off-road performance, and these still remain intact.
Although the 1999 Series II Discovery is longer and wider and all the exterior panels are new, the overall shape is still highly consistent with the Discovery's style since its inception in 1989. However, the combination of engine and transmission options provides a number of variations. The most significant change, however, is the new five cylinder, turbocharged and intercooled diesel engine.
A full-time four-wheel drive transfer case is employed, enabling selection of low range only when stationary and the gear selector is in neutral. This is designed to keep the vehicle level under all load conditions, including cornering, when the ACE system is fitted. Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) is now used to proportion the front and rear hydraulic brake pressures, according to the vehicle's load, Electronic Traction Control (ETC) inhibits wheelspin when traction is lost and Hill Descent Control (HDC) uses ABS controlled brake applications to maintain non-skid braking on steep downhill slopes. The second row centre position is suited only for short trips and the third row seating is for children only. With the increased power the engine is more responsive, although an increase in capacity would have made it that much better again.
Engine braking is still poor with the automatic models, but is saved by the Hill Descent brake control, which is excellent.


However, the incorporated electronic wizardry does remove much of the skill once required in driving. The sedan joins the Astra hatchback with the same choice of City and CD equipment levels and is powered by the same 1.8 litre DOHC engine, with the option of automatic or manual transmission. There's also a multi-function display with time, date, outside temperature and audio settings, plus six cup holders, rear seat reading lamps and a split-level glovebox. While the City's interior trim colours compliment exterior paint colours, the CD interior combines black velour with black plastics; a combination which I found to be too dark and sombre. Lifting the bonnet requires a fair amount of effort as it's heavy and not counter-balanced. Rear leg room is limited but good foot space under the front seats allows adults to fit reasonably well. Surprisingly, although a centre rear lap-sash belt is provided, the rear seat is not equipped with head restraints. As in most smaller cars, it's important to be in the right gear if best performance is to be expected.
The sedan is secure over all types of road surfaces and its precise handling and steering contribute to a pleasant driving experience. These include stylish looks, good build quality, pleasant driving characteristics, capable performance and handling, and a comprehensive array of safety and convenience equipment. Little wonder, then, that the volume selling SV6 sedan is our 2013 Australia's Best Large Car Under $60,000. This is despite the addition of more noise insulation and better quality interior materials. Over our typical patchwork quilt back roads, the SV6 doesn't ease out the bumps and creases as well as the other two finalists in its category. Tick the boxes also for Blind Spot Alert and Reverse Traffic Alert, Hill Hold Control and Hill Start Assist, Trailer Sway Control, parking sensors and reversing camera. Drive it with any purpose on a twisty, back road and the virtues of consistently-weighted steering and accomplished grip level and cornering capability become apparent. All cars come fitted with an automatic powered hatch, while a sensor-operated model is available as an option. This diminishes considerably once cruising speed is attained and it settles down as a comfortable touring vehicle.
Power to the front wheels occurs through automatic free-wheeling hubs only when a sensor detects loss of traction at the rear driving wheels. Although I would not consider it to be one of its more attractive features, the Musso can legally tow 1530 kg. The base Discovery with the V8 engine and manual transmission, is priced at $44,900, with options that include the new diesel engine at $1,500, automatic transmission at $2,600, Active Cornering Enhancement (ACE) suspension at $4,000, seven seat pack at $3,000 and 18-inch alloy wheels at $2,600. Surprisingly, the capacity of the new engine remains the same at 2.5 litres, although significant increases have been achieved with power and torque. Although head restraints are provided at all seat positions, they do hinder rear vision, along with the spare wheel and the large 'D' pillars. The automatic transmission was very smooth in operation, although I considered it was a little slow to respond in some situations. Alternatively, the Astra sedan would be well suited to younger families comprising two adults and two children. The new Astra sedan is well priced to compete with its opposition and is a worthy contender for anyone considering the purchase of a small to medium sedan. This and thick A-pillars that are still hard to see around, pretty well amount to the few criticisms.
Mated to a well-calibrated six-speed auto, it's keen to rev and delivers impressive performance. As with the 3-Series range, a mid-spec, more powerful four-cylinder turbo petrol powered 428i and a range-topping 435i six-cylinder single-turbo petrol variant are also available. Both swoopy-backs have a higher entry cost, but mirror the spec level of a suitably up-specced 3-Series.
The Grand Coupe is not discernably different behind the wheel than its close relatives, but it's a nice chance to refresh our memories of what is a very nice device.
The Discovery ES comes with automatic transmission only, at $64,000, where the optional diesel engine is $1,729 and 18-inch alloy wheels $2,998. In spite of the efforts to reduce the noise factor of the diesel engine, it is still quite noisy and not as smooth as expected. Our test vehicle was a base model with the diesel engine, automatic transmission, seven seat pack, ACE suspension and alloy wheel option, with a selling price of $58,600 plus on-road costs. Features of the new engine include computer controlled Electronic Unit Injectors (EUI), centrifugal oil filtration and a radical thermostat placement in the lower radiator hose.



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