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With many European car makers deciding to introduce diesel versions of their new luxury models into Australia, it would seem a logical step for Peugeot to do the same - given that they have been at the forefront in the latest thinking in diesel design and innovation for many years.
Peugeot introduced the first Diesel Particulate Filter in 2000, which has overcome the diesel particulate (black soot) problem that has plagued the industry forever.
Powered by a two litre turbocharged diesel engine it features the latest common rail diesel injection technology to maximise power and torque.
Pricing for the new 407 range starts at $42,790 for the 407 ST four-cylinder petrol engine manual.
Peugeot lay claim to the 407 range boasting one of the highest levels of standard features in its class, and although the diesel Executive version comes in $6500 cheaper than the three litre SV its specification level is still high.
The HDi Diesel misses out on the nine setting electronically variable suspension, xenon headlamps, the high end audio system and some interior detail has also changed.
Climate control airconditioning with vents to the rear seats, power external mirrors that are heated, cruise control, remote central locking, electric windows, all with one touch operation, electric and heated seats, park distance control and retractable side and rear sunscreens are just some of standard inclusions on the diesel version tested.
Because the 407 HDi shares the same body as its petrol engine cousins, interior space is the same.
When loading luggage into the 407 you need to be careful to avoid scratching the top edge of the rear bumper, as the bar is slightly higher than the load lip. The driving position for the manual HDi was excellent; clutch and gear lever operation was simple and straightforward. Peugeot's steering column switchgear has been often talked about when reviewing their range of vehicles. At first glance they all appear the same and it's difficult to distinguish the different functions. One of the aces for Peugeot in the 407 range is the Five Star Euro NCAP safety rating - the highest available score. The build quality on the 407 tested was excellent; paint finish was equal to any vehicles in the luxury class tested recently. The 407 comes standard with remote central locking, a rolling code immobiliser, a lockable glove box and an automatic boot lock that is activated once the vehicle is underway. The two litre turbocharged diesel is a double overhead cam, 16 valve design that sounds like a modern hi tech petrol engine in its specification.
Around town the 407 HDi provides a quiet refined driving experience, with little discernable evidence of it being powered by a diesel engine. The 407 HDi misses out on the nine setting variable electronic suspension used on the three litre SV. Passengers will still have a comfortable journey as the firmness doesn't compromise the ride quality thanks in part to the comfortable front and rear seats and generous leg room. The 407 uses double wishbone arms on the front suspension and the rear is a multi arm design.
A lot of people ask whether or not a diesel engined vehicle is noisy especially when considering a luxury car purchase. The Peugeot 407 ST HDi is an interesting addition to the already well credentialled 407 range.
Bob Graziano, President and CEO of Ford Australia, reckons the relatively cool reception the Kuga received when it was first launched to the motoring public in early 2012 won't adversely affect buyers perception of the all- new range launched last week. In Australia we will see a line-up that comprises 2WD and AWD versions with petrol and diesel engines and the choice of three specification levels.
A result of a design competition between Ford's international design studios, the new Kuga is longer, lower and narrower than the old version but sits on the same wheelbase.
Inside there is more cargo space and the design team worked on improving overall refinement, reducing wind noise, and engineering a stiffer chassis to provide better handling. If you're familiar with the Ford Focus, you will feel right at home in the Kuga (they share the same platform after all). I was able to get behind the wheel of most of the variants, and the entry level manual 2WD Ambiente impressed.
In terms of ride and handling, with 106kg less to carry, and riding on slightly higher profile 55 series 17in tyres, the 2WD Ambiente felt right at home on the drive loop out of Adelaide. The range topping Titanium diesel with the six-speed automatic impressed with its slick shifting and overall on-road quietness, but at $47,740, it is pricey compared to some of the other diesel SUV competition.
Subaru has released its 2001 model year Liberty range, with technical and cosmetic changes, plus new features and extra equipment. This test was conducted on the top-of-the-range Liberty Heritage wagon and amongst this model's new features is Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC). VDC is a vehicle stability system that utilises the vehicle's ABS electronic control unit to monitor road wheel speed, steering position, lateral G forces and the vehicle yaw rate.
In extreme situations, the VDC activates to control each wheel individually, via braking, engine output, and the all-wheel drive system. Externally, the 2001 series Liberties get subtle changes to the front bumper design, while RX and Heritage models now have projector-type fog lamps, colour-coded side protector strips and new design five-spoke alloy wheels.
Inside, the RX model gets new trim, while all Liberties now have silver-surround instruments and a dark woodgrain console finish. The keyless entry system now includes visual recognition through the hazard lights, and the ignition surround and interior lights now illuminate when the car is unlocked. In addition to the safety benefits of VDC in the Heritage model, all 2001 model Liberties have extra reinforcement in the B-pillars for improved side impact protection. Though vehicle durability has never been an issue with Liberties, the latest models are further strengthened by an increase in front cross-member thickness, a thicker front stabilizer bar, changes to the gearbox bracket shape and an extra engine mounting plate.
All Subarus sold in Australia have full-time all-wheel drive and these days, all Liberties come standard with dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, cruise control, central locking, power steering, six-speaker sound system with CD player, and power-operated windows and exterior mirrors. Though there are times when just a little more power would be welcome, the 2.5 litre 'boxer' engine generally provides the Heritage wagon with enough performance to satisfy the requirements of most buyers. Subaru engines have relatively strong low speed torque, which in turn provides good low speed response and makes these cars pleasant and easy to drive. With the combination of full-time all-wheel drive providing excellent traction in all conditions, a well-sorted suspension system and high quality tyres, the Heritage wagon (like all Liberties) handles very well over varying road surfaces. The vehicle stability system in the Heritage is additional insurance against losing control should there be an unexpected change in driving conditions, or if for some reason, the driver makes an error. Far from resting on its laurels, Subaru has once again improved its award-winning Liberty range, to put even more pressure on the opposition. The test Heritage's VDC system, along with the new model's extra body strengthening around the B-pillars, and its refined airbag sensor technology, complement the already highly impressive safety package of all-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes and dual airbags. Factor in its many luxurious appointments, the high quality finish and an excellent track record for reliability, and the Liberty Heritage wagon represents a very attractive alternative to many of the more expensive medium-size luxury cars available.
Running costs - high-tech and luxury imported models can be expensive to service, repair and insure.
If you need room for sleeping - most passenger-vans and wagons can be converted to provide a bed. Extra costs include stamp duty, registration, insurance, extended warranties (optional) and dealer delivery charges.
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First launched back in 2006 and having notched up 15,500 sales, the Holden Captiva was definitely due for a refresh. Front-on you'll notice the external changes: a re-designed front grille, projector-style headlamps, and a new bonnet.
The model line-up hasn't changed a€“ there are still two variants, the Captiva5 and Captiva7, with the 5 and 7 denoting seating capacity. The Captiva 7 has three specification levels, SX, CX and LX; the SX is available in 2WD only.
Next up is the CX and, again, the buyer can choose between petrol or diesel, the difference being that the petrol is the latest V6 instead of the four-cylinder. Key changes to the model line-up include side curtain airbags standard across the range (although the side curtain airbag doesn't extend to the third row in the seven-seat model).
Underneath, Holden engineers have made running changes to the suspension and steering, most notably the adoption of variable-assist power steering. Inside, the driver is still confronted with a huge steering wheel, but the introduction of the electric hand brake, now with a simple lever located in the centre console, has improved the Captiva ergonomically. Developing 190kW and 288Nm, the 3.0-litre V6 SIDI engine boasts all the improvements seen in the recently upgraded VE Commodore range. We didn't get a chance to drive the American-designed and built 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, but a full review is planned later in the year. Finally, the Captiva, with stiffer springs and roll bars, feels more at home outside the school zone.
The Mazda CX-9 was launched here in Australia back in 2007 and with its seven seat configuration it took over from the old Mazda MPV people mover as an alternative for big families who wanted to remain loyal to the brand. The base Classic gains some extra functionality to its audio system and now features a USB input and Bluetooth that includes audio streaming, with a price increase of just $100 compared to the outgoing model. Key external changes include the more upright Kodo 'soul of motion' design front grille and headlamps, that incorporate daytime running lights, and at the rear you'll find redesigned tail lamps and bumper.

The interior has been enhanced with an array of new finishes including an improved white illuminated finish to the main instruments and a re contoured leather wrapped shift lever.
By adopting the corporate nose, the CX-9 from front on looks very Mazda CX-5-esque with its five horizontal bars and large emblem mounted high in the centre. The interior is understated and refined, the detail changes have improved on what was already a high scoring interior in terms of build and finish quality. The CX-9 is a genuine seven seat option, and while access into and out of the third row requires some dexterity, once you are seated the third row is comfortable with plenty of legroom for adults.
The refresh adds to the list of positive attributes for the CX9, space, comfort, and safety and standard features. Just when the opposition seemed to catch up, Toyota took another jump forward with its new 100 Series LandCruiser, and has set new standards for which its opponents can strive. Along with some very obvious changes in the styling of the all-new 100 Series, Toyota has introduced a new power plant to its model line-up, changed some of its model designations and improved general performance and comfort levels. The starting price for the 100 series is $47,460 for the Standard six cylinder petrol wagon, and the most expensive GXV V8 automatic wagon is $89,000. The 4.5 litre six cylinder petrol engine has been given a revised cylinder head and exhaust system to boost the torque and power output even further. Toyota claims increased strength and durability in all its transmission assemblies and this follows through to the transfer case and the drive axles. Four piston front brake callipers have been reintroduced on all models, and the front discs have been increased in diameter. Anti-lock brakes, air bags and impact absorption areas of the body and chassis are the main safety features of the 100 series. All models are fitted with an engine immobiliser with a transponder fitted in the ignition key, and are prewired ready for the optional Toyota Vehicle Security System (TVSS). Though appearing to be similar in body shape and size, the 100 series Cruiser is slightly longer, wider and higher than the 80 series. Front end styling has been upgraded to feature a new grille, bumper, bonnet line and large, single, square headlights. Front and middle row seating is quite comfortable with adequate head and leg room for most people.
Storage is limited in the rear when the third row seating is in place and when folded against the side.
Dual controlled Climate-Control air conditioning is standard in the GXV whilst manually controlled air is optional in all other models. Seated behind the wheel of the 100 Series, one has a definite feeling of control and comfort.
Though undeniably big and heavy, the new Cruiser does not feel cumbersome when being driven. Handling on all road surfaces has certainly improved, with stability and predictability being the key features. Braking distance is excellent for a vehicle of its size and mass, and as expected, quite a deal of heat and a subsequent small increase in pedal pressure is generated in bringing this 2.4 tonne mass repeatedly to a halt during our brake fade test. Anti-lock brakes combined with a stable ride and handling package, make this vehicle a capable off-road performer. As all other models including the Standard retain the 80 series suspension design, with some modifications, wheel travel is excellent and engine braking with the manual transmission is maintained.
The Dunlop Grand Trek tyres, whilst offering good on-road performance, offer little grip in mud or sand.
Once the plastic cover on top and the large splash tray under the V8 engine are removed, access to serviced items is improved, however, general access is not good The six cylinder engine compartment is a more service friendly environment with good accessibility. Undoubtedly Toyota LandCruisers will be purchased with towing in mind, and the 100 Series should not disappoint in this area. If big, with the ability to go most places on or off-road, is what you need, it is hard to go past the LandCruiser 100 series wagon.
If you want the ultimate in comfort on and off-road, you can choose the more luxurious GXL or GXV models, but if it is a more practical, go anywhere performance you need, without the fancy bells and whistles, you can consider the Standard or RV levels, with manual transmission. Listed here are some of the businesses that make up the National Roads and Motorists'A Association family of businesses, products and services.
The new Peugeot 407 ST HDi Diesel is an exiting new vehicle in many ways; Peugeot has been able to put their latest diesel technology into one of the most striking looking vehicles around.
Fitted with Peugeot's latest Diesel Particulate Filter the 407 ST HDi reduces emissions to better the Euro Four emission standard for diesels which doesn't come into force until 2006. Door pockets are reasonably sized; there are two map pockets on the rear of the front seats. The seat base and backrest are soft enough, yet designed in a way that help keep the driver in place along twisting roads.
The new 407 carries over the same four stalks around the leather bound steering wheel as with earlier models. The long raking front windscreen pillar, which sometimes can restrict vision on other vehicles, was not an issue for the 407. Eight airbags are fitted to the 407; driver and passenger front airbags, front and rear side airbags and full length curtain airbags are standard across the whole 407 range. Detail touches like the cut out in the fuel filler cap and boot release in the rear lettering adds to the overall impression that the 407 is a very classy vehicle.
Forget about starting off in second gear - this is no old fashioned diesel that lumbers along.
I was initially reluctant to dive out and overtake as you would with a conventionally powered vehicle, but with 320 Nm of torque available from 2,000 rpm, there was no need to worry. It utilises a conventional damper setup and this change has resulted in the ride being a little firmer than the SV.
Both front and rear designs incorporate a number of alloy components into the design to reduce weight.
Luxury vehicles should provide high levels of refinement in terms of noise insulation and in this area the 407 HDi certainly doesn't disappoint. As an overall package the Peugeot 407 ST HDi is a complete vehicle and despite a couple of criticisms, is an enjoyable vehicle to drive that as an alternative to a petrol powered should be considered.
Launching a new nameplate like the Kuga, when it was at the end of its model life in every other market, probably wasn't the best idea, and the turbo engine was genuinely thirsty. The all-new model here is known as the Ford Escape in America, and in their market the new European inspired design replaced a more rugged, tough and functional model that sold close to 2,000,000 units since its launch back in 2001. Kicking the Kuga range off is the Ambiente 2WD powered by the 1.6-litre 110kW Eco Boost petrol engine, with a price of just $27,990.
If you are keen to venture off-road, the new Kuga uses Ford's latest torque vectoring AWD system which varies torque to the loaded wheels when cornering. I think the interior designers have done a better job inside though and the Kuga has a cleaner, less chaotic layout. In the rear, comfort levels are also high and there is plenty of legroom and headroom for adults.
A Normally on the shorter first drives it's the higher specced models that get the plaudits.
With an expanded line-up that includes an entry level 2WD under $30,000 and a new petrol engine offering large fuel consumption savings compared to its predecessor plus the option of a diesel in some models, on paper the Kuga looks the goods.
There are also some changes to dashboard trim colours, and the GX's dial-type airconditioning controls have clearer markings. Find out what's involved in buying a new car and what you should do to get a car that's right for you. Check the prices of common spare parts (eg oil and air filters etc) and insurance premiums. Enjoy!:)Some cool new cars images: New Audi R8 in racing red, beautifully presented and arranged! But the big news sits beneath the bonnet: three new engine and transmission packages that replace the ageing, thirstier petrol and diesel units. The 2011 Holden Captiva Series II has been freshened up inside as well, improvements have been made in safety, and the pencil has been sharpened in terms of pricing. That said, the old pricing didn't put off buyers; the volume-selling top-of-the-range LX diesel accounted for 50 per cent of Captiva sales. The interior has a redesigned centre console and new, soft-touch plastics throughout the cabin.
Springs and dampers have been re-calibrated, to reduce body roll, and the front and rear sway bars are now stiffer.
Matched to a new six-speed auto, (the old one only had a five-speeder) the engine is a big step forward for Holden, and we were very impressed with its performance and the transmission's adaptability. Previous models were light and uncommunicative, but the new variable-assist steering rack has gone a long way to improving things.
In 2009 the range had a refresh and in 2010 some additional mechanical tweaks were introduced to reduce fuel consumption. They include the entry level Classic 2WD, which is the cheapest at $44,525, the 2WD Luxury jumps to $52,980.

The Luxury version is the volume seller accounting for around 60% of sales, and like the Classic receives the audio upgrades, as well as an improved Sat Nav system as standard. The 2WD Classic rides on 18in alloys and the rest of the range sits on new design 20in alloys. We drove the top specced Grand Touring, and were impressed by its smoothness and quietness and overall driving refinement.
The basic Standard model can be purchased with either diesel or petrol six cylinder engines, both with manual transmission only. Airconditioning is standard in only the top of the line GXV and an option in all other models at $2,569. The 4.2 diesel engine has also been modified and is no longer available with a turbocharger. With an increase in capacity, and two camshafts per bank operating four valves per cylinder, this would be the most advanced, high tech engine used in an off-road vehicle.
The front and rear suspension in the Standard through to GXL is basically the same as the 80 Series with some minor modifications.
ABS models use the Lexus type hydraulic booster, incorporating the actuator, booster and proportioning valve in the master cylinder. Previous add-on wheel arch flares have been discarded and incorporated in the guard panels. Large rear lights that wrap around into the tailgate, a high-level stoplight mounted externally at the top of the tailgate and a new bumper complete the rear treatment.
Third row seating when fitted, however, is fairly cramped and suitable only for small adults or children. All-round vision from this position is very good, hampered only by the rear head restraints and the third row seats when folded. The steering and all controls are light and easy to operate, feeling more like a sedan car.
I would have to question the wisdom of owning a GXV V8 when the six cylinder petrol engine is likely to give better fuel economy, and the engine power and torque is only marginally lower. However, in the more severe situations the independent front suspension has its limitations with wheel travel, and the auto transmission is lacking in engine braking. Warranty is now fixed at 3 years or 100 000 km, without the separate periods for drive trains, etc that existed previously.
Toyota's recently increased towing capacity of 3500 kg has been retained in the 100 Series, but for the time being, NSW owners will have to be content with the regulation 2185 kg for the GXV and 2130 kg for all other models.
With the improvements included in this latest model, coupled with a freeze on last year's pricing, it certainly warrants a high position on the large 4WD wagon priority list.
The 407 ST HDi diesels slip in between the entry model and the three litre V6 407 SV petrol.
The rear seats can be folded down and if the seat bases are removed, (a simple operation), it gives an almost flat cargo area that measures 1600mm. No need to think that because it's a diesel you need a heavy-to-operate truck-like clutch to handle the torque. It's a collection of oddly shaped paddles and rotary switches for audio, cruise control, wipers and lights.
Forward vision was unobstructed, although the long sloping bonnet and large frontal overhang is a reminder to the driver to be cautious when parking. ABS braking with electronic brake force distribution as well as electronic stability control is standard. Leather trim on the seats and doors further enhance the classy, luxury feel - the attention to detail once again is top class.
The V6 engine in 407 SV developed 290 Nm of torque so with the diesels 320Nm at 2,000 it promised to deliver similar performance levels. The excellent two litre turbocharged engine provided plenty of power all the way to its 5,000 rpm limit. On test the 407 HDi proved to be a competent performer and felt more consistent through a range of corners than the electronically aided SV tested earlier. Measured cabin noise levels were slightly higher than the V6 petrol powered 407, but the test conditions weren't ideal as the track conditions were wet and wet conditions can increase readings. However the new range, with all new petrol and diesel engines and an expanded line-up provides Ford with a much better shot second time around. That's a massive price reduction of $11,000 compared to the outgoing Trend version in the old line-up. Slide into the front seats and you will be surprised by the amount of support they provide with firm side bolstering you would normally associate with sports cars rather than SUVs. The rear door opening is wide enough for loading in the kids or groceries without becoming a drama. If you don't mind shifting A gears yourself you will find the combination nicely balanced with a light clutch and almost sporty gear lever throw, and the ratios appear to be A matched ideally to the engines lower power output. Add a Five-Star ANCAP safety rating, and a few features normally found in premium brands like the hands free tail gate operation and the emergency assistance system, with the new range there is something to suit nearly everyone.
New engines, revised sheet metal and additional features usually attract a premium, but the Captiva Series II has actually been reduced by $2000 across the board. It's only a five-seater with fewer features, but has an attractive starting price of $27,990. The top-spec LX has the same engine choices but gains additional features, like leather trim, 19-inch alloys and satellite navigation.
It also feels a lot quieter in the cabin at higher speeds, so NVH has obviously been improved; the old unit was noisy and pretty crude in comparison with other SUVs at the time.
That being one of the few areas that the CX-9 struggled in compared to similar sized competition and especially the ones that offered a diesel engine option.
AWD models include the Luxury, priced at $57,480, and the range topping Grand Touring that is priced at $63,828 which includes the Luxury car tax slug. Mazda's "Zoom Zoom" still exists and the CX-9's on road dynamics, even with much newer competition in the market, are still amongst the best going around. RV and GXL models have either six cylinder petrol or diesel engines with a choice of manual or automatic transmission, and the GXV has the new petrol V8 in automatic transmission only. Anti-skid brakes (ABS) are standard on GXL and GXV, but optional on RV at $1000, and Dual Airbags (SRS) are standard on GXL and GXV, but optional on Standard and RV models at $1490.
The combination of a new cylinder block, crankshaft, pistons, combustion chamber and injectors has resulted in an increase in torque, improved emissions and still further noise reduction. However, for all this effort, it produces just 5 kW and 23 Nm more than the six cylinder petrol engine.
The GXV, however, whilst utilising the same rear suspension as all other models, has adopted an independent suspension with double wishbones and lower torsion bars in the front.
Panel and paint finish is excellent, although in our test vehicles, colour did not extend into the engine compartment. The manual box is a little notchy and truck-like, but easy to use, and whilst first gear is quite low, it is very useful for ascending or descending those steep pinches off-road. The rear seat is well shaped and the rear leg room is adequate even when the front seat is adjusted back for taller drivers.
Jumping in and driving the 407 for the first time they can all be somewhat confusing and it takes a while behind the wheel to really get used to their operation. Steering is a variable hydraulic design and around town it's nicely weighted - light enough to make parking easy whilst still providing good feedback to the driver on the open road.
On test the brakes performed well with braking distances comparable to best in class, the pedal feel was progressive and gave a consistent feel. Via a button mounted in the backrest, the seats can fold forward and although they don't fold completely flat into the floor, they offer a reasonable amount of extra cargo space.
The flagship Grand Touring is $2,223 more but included are Mazda's new suite of safety features called I-Activesence. Our test Standard model with airconditioning and fabric seats, and the GXV with optional moonroof, were priced at $50,329 and $92,020 respectively.
Eight seater models have a generous two stage centre console glovebox in addition to the regular glovebox and door pockets. The controls for the heating and ventilation have a display in the centre of the dash to indicate the mode set.
The head rests have an active function built in to reduce whiplash in the event of a collision. This system features a single camera mounted high in the front windscreen, allowing it to detect objects ahead and alerting the driver to a possible collision via warning lights and an audible chime.
A diesel touring version is available (auto only], and also slots in between the four and six-cylinder configurations price-wise.

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