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Porsche's deep-breathing soft-top gets the maker's first turbo four in 40 years.Laughing Lars the Porsche test driver pins the accelerator pedal of the 718 Boxster to the floor. They're not flashy but these popular picks are at the peak of their game in the showroom.Popularity is often scorned. Stroll through Toyota head office and you'll come across the term Kaizen, or continuous improvement. Skoda Fabia is a European machine that's offered at a lower price than anything in its class from that continent. We came away from our week with the smart little Skoda Fabia wagon impressed by the quality of finish, solid on-road feel and the semi-sporty handling. Topping out BMW's impressive M performance vehicle lineup are the M6 twins in coupe and convertible variants. They sell in the $300 grand bracket so will be, um, fairly exclusive with BMW hoping for about 50 sales a year of each. If you do buy one, you can feel good within yourself for contributing around $100 grand to the Federal Government's Luxury Car Tax so us wage hacks don't get stung as hard - as if. Inside is a treasure chest of goodies you simply don't get further down the food chain including safety equipment to keep you in your lane, change to high beam automatically and keep you entertained through a 12 speaker audio system.
Did I mention internet connectivity, high end satnav, head up info display and park distance control. Both cars look sensational on the road, big, imposing and powerful all of which they unequivocally are. The M6 is basically a shorter wheelbase M5 under the skin sharing the same powertrain and all the same dynamic technology and luxury kit. The cars have adaptive suspension, variable steering, multi mode transmission and adaptive limited slip differential with its own multi plate clutch. The flow of power comes from a 4.4-litre, V8 petrol engine with two, twin-scroll turbochargers, variable valve timing and variable lift, direct fuel injection and other technology designed to optimise performance both in sporty terms and emissions.
Naturally, safety isn't lacking either with a full array of primary and secondary equipment designed to either help avoid crashing or surviving in one piece if you're in one. Having said that, the cars belie their bulk in drive feel offering an engaging drive that's almost totally electronically modulated. Dynamics on these cars and indeed most BMW M cars is carried out at Germany's legendary Nurburgring race track. Their drive feel will appeal to the most discerning driver as will the level of luxury in the cabin. Developed by General Motors' (GM) in Detroit , the prototype FJ retained the basic FX shape, but that was about all.
What is less commonly known is that General Motors Holden (GMH) was planning a more radically revamped car as early as January 1950, barely 18 months after the FX hit the showrooms, just in case sales of the FX started to slip.
This image clearly shows that designers planned significant changes, making the car look wider, longer and lower in the true tradition of American styling trends. To achieve the desired shape stylists gave the car a substantial wrap around rear window and squared-off the shape of the boot. The rear mudguards, previously rounded and falling away from the body to the rear bumper bar, were lengthened and straightened. The front guards were reshaped into a more linear style. Overall this gave the impression of a longer car without actually adding to length. At least 60 versions of the grille were drawn.
The image here shows just one version .On the wall in the background are more of the grilles drawn for consideration. It is always interesting to speculate what would have happened if Holden had decided to go forward with a major reshaping of the FJ.
The changes would have brought the FJ more into line with early 1950s Chevrolet styling themes.

That all changed with the i30, the first Hyundai that was a decent drive, well put together and capable of selling on substance alone. That price is there to try and lift sales, something that seems to be working because Skoda sales in Australia have finally started to move upwards after years of sitting at too low levels.Skoda is built by the Czech marque with an automotive history that dates back over 120 years. It scores an EU5 emissions rating and even has engine stop start to cut fuel consumption in city driving. Launch control is at the other end of the spectrum aided by the super slick shifting seven speed dual clutch transmission (with paddle shift). You can't really tell except for the over active stability control system that intervenes too early and too often in all modes except off. Apparently, there's a half off mode for the Dynamic Stability Control system that you need to nail for optimum driving. The accountants would have added up the numbers and concluded that less change meant less cost with no loss of sales in a car starved market. The engine has been through Europe's finest finishing school, where hard-to-please German engineers gave it a classier accent than any Subaru.Porsche hired a test track owned by tyre giant Michelin in the south of France for the 718 Boxster's preview before the Geneva motor show.
Purists argue that biggest doesn't necessarily mean best.In the car industry popularity equals success.
For the doubters, there was a five-year warranty.But it still sells best when there's an unbeatable deal on the table.
Unlike the Neo, it gets a standard reversing camera, and a $1500 safety pack includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and auto braking.Other goodies include satnav, fog lamps, seven-inch screen and internet radio apps. These days it is part of the Volkswagen Group and most of the out of sight components are sourced from the German giant.Fabia was virtually all-new when launched in Australia in July 2015. There are taxi rides in the new car, plus workshops to quiz engineers and designers.To emphasise the boxer four's importance, the Boxster's exterior has a new, more toned look. SUVs may be the latest craze but the humble hatchback is still the main game in the new car market. It comes as a hatchback and wagon, interior space is something in which Skoda has specialised for many years.
This month, it's $21,990 for the Active X model, which adds leather, alloy wheels and other goodies. It's easy to see how buyers get talked up to a Maxx.The cabin is the most attractive of the three — in the front. The engine can get a bit buzzy and the noise is exacerbated by the continuously variable transmission, which makes the engine drone more noticeable.VERDICTAt the recommended retail price, the Hyundai is the first out of this contest.
Cargo carrying capacity in this small vehicle is 1125 litres with the rear seat backs folded for the hatch, and 1370 litres for the wagon.
That's roughly $6000 off.The April update added a bigger screen, retuned suspension and standard reversing camera across the range. It's still a very good car but a fraction off the pace on the road and a little dated inside.
Many small to medium SUVs have less usable room.Our test vehicle was Fabia 66TSI manual station wagon with a price of $17,140 plus on-road costs.
Styling tweaks brought the front end look into line with more recent Hyundais.Inside, the i30 is showing its age.
But if it were to stay at $21,990 drive-away (about $4500 less than the Corolla and $6000 less than the Mazda3), it would be the winner.The next battle is tougher to call. The hatchback range starts at $15,990 plus on-roads.DesignThe third generation Skoda Fabia takes a new direction in overall styling, the hatch is 8mm shorter, 90mm wider and 31mm lower than its predecessor. The centre screen is smaller than the other two here and the layout doesn't feel as modern.

It also gets only one seat back pocket.The Mazda's engine wins back points — it's more sophisticated, more powerful, quieter and more economical, thanks to stop-start technology that shuts down the engine at lights. The Corolla is roughly $1500 cheaper and the recent update has narrowed the Mazda's advantage on the road and in the cabin.
The rest, they say, should go to their colleagues from the engine department.On wet-surface circuit, Lars shows off the handling that makes the new 718 Boxster so quick around the 'Ring.
It's still easy to use and well laid-out — and now connects to the Pandora music app — but lacks a little pizazz. The push-button starter on the dash makes the car feel more modern too.On the road, the Mazda is the pick, although the margin of victory is much tighter than it once was. It's also much cheaper to service, with six services costing less than three at Mazda.However, the Mazda's more powerful engine that is also slightly more efficient, and has more technology, including standard satnav and stop-start. Six body colours are available, including standard Candy White and Corrida Red; and metallic Race Blue, Magic Black, Quartz Grey and Moon White.
And there's evidence of cost-cutting in the rear, with no middle armrest and plastic instead of cloth seat backs.On the road, it's much the same. It feels the most relaxed on the freeway, while on country back roads it delivers a firm, controlled but comfortable ride.The steering is lighter and, while lacking the feel of the Corolla, is still precise.
Many components are identical, including such vital parts as connecting rods but the 718's turbo setup is entirely different.With four cylinders, Porsche's engineers explain, a single turbocharger works best.
For the 911's closely related six, twin turbos are the right solution.The switch to smaller displacement turbo engines is for the usual reason. The suspension, tuned for local conditions, is pretty well sorted, feels comfortable and composed but doesn't feel as sporty as the others through the corners. The boosted engines are inherently more efficient, delivering a 13 per cent reduction in fuel consumption when combined with Porsche's superb seven-speed PDK double-clutch transmission. This pleases emission-watcher governments in Europe and elsewhere.Turbocharging of course also brings more power and stronger performance.
This pleases fun-seeking Porsche drivers everywhere."You know, after driving this engine I don't miss the old ones at all," Lars remarks in the middle of one long slide. Owners who trade their old Boxsters for the new 718 are bound to agree with him.Blast from pastWhy 718?
Whenever the distance is too short, Front Assist gives audio and visual warnings - then automatic stops if the driver still doesn't do the right thing.The body has a rigid feel that bodes well for long lifeThere's a multi-collision brake system that reduces the risk of the vehicle becoming involved in a subsequent collision following the initial crash. The 718 is a Porsche sports car from the past with a mid-mounted flat-four engine, as in the new Boxster.
This tries to prevents a follow-on crash or at least reduces the speed at which this collision occurs.When the multi-collision brake is activated it automatically turns on the brake lights and hazard lights.
The driver can override the system by accelerating or initiating emergency braking.DrivingAgain, the Czech's determination to provide good interior space shows through.
Three across the back seat will need to be good friends, though. On our usual drive route in city, suburban and country traffic the free-spinning 66kW TSI motor responded well, taking even steep gradients in its stride thanks to the low-rev grunt provided by the turbocharger. Nevertheless we wouldn't be surprised to see one at the first facelift.Handling is neat and predictable, there's good steering feel and until you push really hard the dynamics are pretty well neutral.

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26.05.2014 admin

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