Renault’s top-selling model – the Koleos medium SUV – is now available with a choice of two engines, with a powerful yet frugal diesel joining the line-up in September.

“The Koleos has always been our top-selling model in Australia,” said Renault Australia Managing Director, Justin Hocevar. “And with the arrival of a diesel engine to complete the line-up, there’s no question that Koleos will continue to go from strength to strength. The second-generation Koleos launched here in August 2016, which was its global sales debut, demonstrating how important this model is in the continued expansion of Renault’s business in Australia. Since then, we have sold over 2,600 units and orders keep flooding in.

“It’s no surprise, as the Koleos ticks so many boxes,” said Hocevar. “It has the rugged, robust characteristics of an SUV wrapped in a stylish distinctive exterior, combined with interior refinement you’d expect from a more expensive, high-end vehicle. Its feature list is as long as your arm and its safety credentials are top-notch.”

The Renault Koleos Diesel is available in one variant with 4X4 driven wheels and All-Mode 4X4-i technology. It features a 2.0 litre turbo charged engine, delivering 130kW of power and 380Nm of torque, with fuel economy of 6.1 litres/100km and CO2 emissions of 159 g/km.

This 2.0 litre diesel engine is smooth and powerful yet much quieter than most diesel engines. It also features an Energy Package with Smart Electrical Management and variable capacity oil pump.

The engine is mated to the same XTRONIC Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) as the petrol-powered Koleos. This transmission avoids the ‘rubber band’ feeling of conventional CVTs to provide on-demand acceleration thanks to a wider ratio spread. A manual mode is also available to further enhance its dynamic drive. It is calibrated differently to work with the torque characteristics of the diesel engine.

The Koleos Diesel also benefits from extended service intervals of up to 30,000km or 12 months, just like its petrol-powered cousin.

The Renault Koleos Diesel mirrors the specification level of the top-selling Intens variant of the petrol-powered Koleos. It features the Advanced Driver Assist Systems (Blind Spot Monitoring, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Advanced Emergency Braking Inter-urban), Easy Park Assist (hands-free parking), Pure Vision LED headlights with auto high/low beam, hands-free power tailgate, electric panoramic sunroof, BOSE® audio system with 12 speakers, subwoofer and digital amplifier, leather upholstery with heated/ventilated front seats and ambient cabin lighting, just to name a few.

The Koleos Diesel has the addition of automatic engine stop/start, however does not feature remote engine start. The new Renault Koleos Diesel is available for the Manufacturer’s List Price of $46,990, excluding dealer delivery and statutory charges.

My Drive this week was the Subaru Forester. This car is one of the more popular compact off-road four wheel drives, and for the 2015 model year update Subaru made the drastic change of lowering prices across the range, with some variants dropping by as much as $3,500. The other hallmark addition was an automatic gearbox being added to diesel variants. This was a long time coming and should help boost the Forester diesel’s appeal.

The 4th generation Subaru Forester has been around with us for almost two years now, so the updated version I’m looking at today is the first update in this model’s history.

The exterior gets a single tweak – a shark fin radio antenna, which refines the look of the car just a little bit more. That’s the only exterior update.

Inside, the main change is the new, integrated centre console, which looks far better than the previous slot-in module and allows for a larger 7.0-inch LCD touchscreen. Other minor changes were made to add a more premium effect to the cabin, including the use of piano black and silver highlights. Otherwise you’ve still got the roominess and comfort the Forester previously offered – leg room is decent both front and back, while the load carrying capacity of 422 litres is quite generous.

So, let’s take a look at this new automatic box. Quick rundown first – the Forester’s 2.0 litre turbo diesel engine produces 108 kW of power and 350 Nm of torque. The automatic is a CVT, meaning unlimited ratios, although under strong throttle it will start imitating a stepped gearbox so that you feel like you’re going faster. It’s a trick, but most people like it, so that’s all that matters really. It’s a Subaru, meaning all four wheels are driven at all times, and fuel consumption officially averages 6.3 L/100km in combined driving.

Funnily enough, the Forester driving experience is quite similar to the Outback diesel I tested earlier this year. Off the mark performance is a bit average thanks to some turbo lag, but once you get going the strong torque of the diesel really comes into its own and gets you moving quickly. Kick-down reaction is quite decent, so overtaking manoeuvres on motorways are easy to execute. High speed driving is quite refined, although slightly noisier if you’re sitting in the back, and real-life fuel consumption is also reasonably close to the rated one, with my score being 6.9 L/100km (in combined usage).

The always-on four-wheel drive helps considerably for handling. The Forester is very well composed around corners, hooking admirably and staying pointed where you want it to go. The brakes also work well, pulling the car up quickly when needed.

Diesel Foresters are now available in two variants, the L and S. L model diesel Foresters get the 7.0-inch touchscreen I mentioned earlier as standard, as well as dual zone climate control air conditioning, cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, multi-function display in the instrument cluster and USB/Bluetooth audio with Pandora support. The S adds to this with HID headlamps, proximity keyless entry, sunroof, satellite navigation, leather trim and electrically-adjustable front seats.

Pricing for the Forester range now starts from $29,990, although a diesel L starts from $33,490 with a manual gearbox. Throw in another $2,000 for automatic, while a fully-kitted S automatic will set you back $41,490. All prices are before on-road costs.

The Forester makes for a great family car, and it can certainly handle a reasonable amount of off-roading if you want to go camping or just enjoy the great outdoors. It’s on sale now.

19 September 2015
Albert Malik

The clarification and solution of the diesel issue is progressing. The Volkswagen Group has presented specific technical measures for the EA 189 engines affected with a displacement of 1.6 and 2.0 litres to the Federal Motor Transport Authority. This means that correction measures have been fixed for the majority of the vehicles affected. In the development of the solutions, the focus was on maximum customer-friendliness. After implementation of the technical measures, the vehicles will comply with the applicable emissions standards. The final technical solution for the 1.2-litre diesel engine will be presented to the Federal Motor Transport Authority at the end of the month and is expected to comprise a software update.

The technical measures developed for the EA 189 diesel engines affected have been presented to the Federal Motor Transport Authority. Following an intensive examination, these measures have been ratified by the Federal Motor Transport Authority. This means that there is now clarity regarding the correction of the irregularities for the majority of vehicles affected.

  • A “flow transformer” will be fitted directly in front of the air mass sensor on the 1.6-litre EA 189 engine. This is a mesh that calms the swirled air flow in front of the air mass sensor and will thus decisively improve the measuring accuracy of the air mass sensor. The air mass sensor determines the current air mass throughput, which is a very important parameter for the engine management for an optimum combustion process. In addition, a software update will be performed on this engine. The time needed for the implementation of the technical measures is expected to be less than one hour.
  • The 2.0 litre engines will get a software update. The pure labour time for this measure will be around half an hour. Thanks to advances in engine development and improved simulation of currents inside complex air intake systems, in combination with software optimisation geared towards this, it has been possible to produce a relatively simple and customer-friendly measure.

The objective for the development of the technical measures is still to achieve the applicable emission targets in each case without any adverse effects on the engine output, fuel consumption and performance. However, as all model variants first have to be measured, the achievement of these targets cannot yet be finally confirmed.

Based on these technical measures accepted by the Federal Motor Transport Authority, the necessary service concepts are currently being developed for the EU28 markets concerned . The aim is to implement the required technical update in the first vehicles during a recall from January 2016. According to the current assessment, all measures in the course of the recall for all engine variants will extend over the whole calendar year 2016.

Volkswagen will ensure that the time needed to implement the technical measures is as short as possible for all customers. In addition, Volkswagen will contact all customers and endeavour to consider individual customer needs during the implementation of these measures to avoid any disadvantages for the customer such as possible curbing of their mobility. In connection with this, the Volkswagen brand will thus ensure that all customers are offered appropriate replacement mobility options free of charge. For example, since the beginning of October, all Volkswagen customers have been able to check for themselves whether their vehicle is affected by the diesel issue. At every customer can enter their vehicle identification number to obtain clear information.

With these defined measures, technical solutions are already available for the majority of all Group models affected in Europe with EA 189 engines. At the end of this month, corresponding measures will be presented to the Federal Motor Transport Authority for the 1.2-litre 3-cylinder diesel engine as well. Based on the approach of the Volkswagen brand, the Group's other brands – Audi, SEAT, ŠKODA and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles – are also planning corresponding measures for their affected vehicles.

In addition, until 31 December 2016, Volkswagen AG is expressly forgoing the right to plea on the grounds of statutes of limitations in respect of any warranty or guarantee claims due to the software installed in vehicles with EA 189 engines, as long as the rights to make any such claims have not already expired. Volkswagen customers will therefore not be disadvantaged by any waiting. One thing is certain: the vehicles remain technically safe and can therefore be driven on public roads without any limitation.

Peugeot Australia has introduced drive away pricing on its entire diesel 508 range, saving customers almost $6000* over the standard recommended retail price. The 508 Allure Touring and GT models join the existing drive away offer on 508 Allure sedan, with the biggest savings available on 508 Allure Touring models.

Savings to customers on each model based on purchase in New South Wales include:

  • Allure Sedan - now $44,990 drive away ($5782 saving)
  • Allure Touring - now $47,990 drive away ($5932 saving)
  • GT Sedan - now $59,990 drive away ($3172 saving)
  • GT Touring - now $62,990 drive away ($3471 saving)

The drive away offer follows closely off the back of the introduction of an all-new Euro 6 compliant, powerful and efficient BlueHDi diesel drivetrain for the GT models. Based on official fuel use figures, the 508 GT sedan will offer a driving range of 1636km^ from a single tank of fuel, with the GT Touring offering a 1565km driving range. The new 2.0L turbo-diesel BlueHDi drivetrain develops 133kW and 400Nm to propel the vehicle to 100km/h in 8.6 seconds.

Compared to the outgoing Euro 5 turbo-diesel 2.2-litre four-cylinder for GT models the new drivetrain slashes fuel consumption to 4.4-litres of fuel per 100km (down 1L per 100km), reduces C02 emissions to 114g per-kilometre (previously 140g/km) yet maintains a sub-9 second sprint to 100km/h. The 508 GT will join other Euro 6-rated models, including select Peugeot 308 models, featuring PSA’s award winning PureTech turbo-petrol and BlueHDI diesel models. Allure and Allure Touring models continue with a proven Euro 5, HDi, turbo diesel developing 120k and 340Nm of torque, offering a range of 1260km from a single tank.

Earlier this year the same Peugeot’s 508 sedan and touring models scored a key win in Germany’s largest independent used car reliability study, the 2015 GTÜ (Gesellschaft für Technische Überwachung mbH), used car report. Competing in the middle-class (mid-size) the Peugeot 508 bested the Skoda Superb and Mercedes C-Class for the category win for vehicles one to three years of age. The largest used car report in Germany collates data from 5 million general inspections, conducted by GTÜ’s (Society for Technical Supervision mbH) accredited and independent vehicle inspection agents, covering 240 vehicle makes across seven categories.

As standard, all 508 models are fitted with:

  • Quad-zone climate control
  • Satellite navigation with 7” touch screen display
  • Reverse camera
  • Leather seats with front seat heating
  • Leather trimmed steering wheel and gear knob with aluminium accesnts
  • 8 speaker audio with Bluetooth and USB connectivity
  • Rain-sensing wipers and auto headlamps
  • Keyless entry and start
  • 6 airbags
  • Tyre pressure warning sensors
  • Full complement of safety equipment

*savings based on drive away price in New South Wales, savings may vary state to state depending on local statutory and insurance costs.
^* Fuel consumption will vary depending on driving conditions/style, vehicle conditions and options/accessories. Source of fuel consumption data: ADR81/02 combined cycle.

My Drive this week was the Jaguar XF luxury sedan. If you love Jags, well, this car is essentially the easiest way to get into the range, with XF sedans available from just under 70,000 dollars retail. This facelifted model has been on the market for three years now and we’re likely to see another update later on in the year, but the current model available right now is no slouch at all. It’s a beautiful car, with smooth lines flowing throughout the design from front to back. The headlight style was flattened out versus the previous model, with an assertive front face and rectangular grille rounding out the design up forward. The classy look continues down the back, with a long, thick line of chrome flanked by large red taillights. The shark fin antenna up top compliments the look.

Jumping inside reveals the full luxury roots of the XF. The materials used here are just what you’d expect, with soft-touch surfaces throughout in different forms depending on the variant. Inexpensive options will come with a combination of leather and suede-style cloth upholstery, while more premium ones get liberal doses of leather across the car. The seats are extremely supportive, soft and comfortable. Even after a long drive in the car, I just didn’t want to get out. There’s also a decent amount of rear leg room, and the seats are angled back nicely so you can relax and enjoy the drive.

The variant type will also decide what dashboard and other trims you’ll get, but they’re all a combination of an aluminium and wood look. The air conditioning vents rotate and fold away flush into the dashboard by themselves when you’re not using the climate control air conditioning, while the gearshift – or rotating gearknob should I say – is flush with the centre tunnel until you turn the car on, when it slowly rises out of the tunnel, ready to do your bidding.

There’s quite a few different powertrain options available with the XF, but my test drive was a car with the three litre V6 turbo diesel engine. It produces 202 kilowatts of power and a huge 600 Newton-metres of torque, mated to an eight speed automatic gearbox by transmission specialist ZF. Torque is sent to the rear wheels and boy is there a lot of it. It might not be at maximum level off the line, but it’s still reasonably responsive until you get to 2000 RPM, when the XF nails you in your seat and rumbles towards motorway speeds. The diesel rumble is very refined; perceptible in the background but flattened out and controlled very well. What makes you notice the rumble however is the idle stop/start functionality, which makes the Jag whisper quiet when it’s stopped. It comes back to life the moment you take your foot off the accelerator though, so it’s ready to go anytime.

The eight speed gearbox is a smooth shifter, and it also has a manual mode controlled by paddle shifters on the steering wheel. In practice though I was happy to leave it on auto, as the high number of gears and low shift point of diesel engines meant far more upshift clicks than I could be bothered to make. Call me lazy, I’m sorry.

I’d rather worry about handling the car, because the XF’s handling was simply beautiful. It’s poised, it’s focused, and it’s sharp. Despite the size and 1.7 tonne weight, the XF will go wherever you send it, going around corners with confidence and ease. It stops sharply too, thanks to large vented disk brakes on the front and back.

The XF is very well equipped, with standard features including bi-xenon HID headlamps, rain sensing wipers, heated power mirrors and dual-zone climate control air conditioning. There’s also electronic steering wheel adjustment, an electric parking brake, satellite navigation and a 250 watt sound system that sounded simply awesome. There’s quite a few options as well, including DAB digital radio, DVB digital TV, adaptive cruise control and heated front seats.

The Jaguar XF with three litre diesel engine can be had from a hair over $91,100 dollars plus on-road costs. A beautiful, refined and powerful car that doesn’t break the bank with a Jag badge on it. Not bad at all! That’s it for me this week.

August 22nd 2015
Albert Malik

Peugeot Australia will lead the transition to Euro 6-compliant vehicles in Australia. The roll out of Euro 6-compliant powertrains will be driven by the adoption of PSA’s efficient yet powerful range of PureTech petrol and BlueHDi diesel engines. This roll out will coincide with model updates or full model changes and will commence with a new Euro 6 turbo-diesel for 508 GT models, replacing the previous Euro 5 2.2 litre turbo-diesel. The new 2.0L turbo-diesel BlueHDi drivetrain develops 133kW and 400Nm to propel the vehicle to 100km/h in 8.6 seconds.

Compared to the outgoing 2.2L Euro 5 turbo-diesel the new drivetrain slashes fuel consumption to 4 litres of fuel per 100km (down 1.3L per 100km), reduces C02 emissions to 105 grams per kilometre (previously 140g/km) yet maintains a sub 9 second sprint to 100km/h. The new drivetrain is due to arrive in Australia late in quarter three, with final pricing to be confirmed closer to introduction. The 508 will join existing Peugeot 308 models, featuring PSA’s award winning PureTech turbo-petrol and BlueHDI diesel models, as Euro 6 compliant.

John Startari, General Manager of Peugeot Australia, said that the marque is committed to offering practical, powerful, efficient and low emissions drivetrains across as many models as quickly as possible. “With over 125 years of drivetrain development and engineering experience this is our opportunity to leverage PSA Peugeot’s lead in development and rollout of powerful and efficient drivetrain technology,” said Startari. “The Peugeot 308 range was the first to receive PSA’s awarded PureTech and BlueHDi range of drivetrains in Australia and they are proving to be winners with customers, with over 85 percent of all 308 vehicles sold specified with the Euro 6 drivetrains,” said Startari

In 2014, Peugeot globally offered 20 vehicles at the lowest levels of CO2 in the world in their power class, placing the marque in the top 3 of the European CAFE rankings with a record average of CO2 emissions at 109.5 grams of CO2 per km.

My Drive this week was the Subaru Outback. The Outback is one of the early trend setters; it was one of the first, if not the first jacked-up wagon with underbody strengthening for off-roading, and it proved popular enough that many car companies have now copied the idea, bringing out similar models themselves. The Outback I’m looking at today is now in its fifth generation, and Subaru continues to refine the model, gradually improving all the little niggles people have pointed out on previous models. The result is a car that comes pretty close to perfect, although unfortunately is not quite there yet.

Let’s start with the exterior. Subaru has played it safe, choosing not to mess with the design mostly. The headlights and front grille have been reshaped a little, while the same can be said for the rear taillights and bumper design. Not much more to talk about here so let’s go inside. Here, it’s a different story. The interior has become a little bit more upmarket, although the quality of the materials used are a lot better now. The instrument cluster adopts the “two-dial, one screen” design being used by virtually everybody on the market, while the centre console has gone for a gloss black look with touch-sensitive buttons used to operate the infotainment system on its large LCD screen. While it’s better than previous generations, the processor is significantly underpowered, leading to delays between screen transitions in some cases, especially when using the navigation system.
The seats are supportive and there’s plenty of leg room in the front and back. The front seats offer a fair bit of adjustment in multiple directions, however the back seats can only be folded flat to add more room to the cargo space at the back, although at 512 litres it’s already quite decent.

There’s three engine options – a 2.5 litre four cylinder petrol, a 2.0 litre four cylinder turbocharged diesel, and a 3.6 litre six cylinder petrol. All of them are paired with a CVT automatic gearbox, although the diesel engine can also be mated to a six speed manual. My test car today is the diesel with CVT automatic, and at least from the spec sheet, I suspect this combination will be the pick to go for. The diesel produces 110 kilowatts of power and 350 Newton-metres of torque from as low as 1600 RPM. While this is really early in the rev range, the Outback diesel somehow still manages to have pretty bad turbo lag off the mark. This is the only stain on an otherwise excellent score sheet. Once you’re moving, the engine and CVT are both responsive. The CVT holds the engine in its most efficient rev-band for the application, but floor the pedal and it switches to a simulated old-fashioned transmission with fixed gears to eliminate the “droning effect” most people hate about CVTs. Not the most efficient way of accelerating, but a great way to get everyone on side.
Being a Subaru, power goes to all four wheels. Being an off-road car, Subaru has added a new thing called X-Mode, which combines hill descent control with active torque vectoring. While I wasn’t able to test it in the limited time I had the car, the idea is to carefully go down unsealed hills with lots of holes and other unsmooth terrain automatically.
Handling on sealed roads however was pretty decent, considering the jacked up nature of the Outback. At high speed the Outback is still reasonably quiet and generally a nice place to be.

The Outback is divided into two variants for each engine type – a base model and a Premium grade. Standard features on the base model include climate control air conditioning with rear air vents, cruise control, automatic wipers and headlights, electric parking brake, leather steering wheel with paddle shifts and a six speaker audio system with Bluetooth support. While the petrol models also get engine idle stop-start and Subaru’s Eyesight driver assist system standard, these are missing from the diesel model for some reason, which is a real shame. Premium variants add electrically adjustable front seats, a large sunroof, folding mirrors, proximity keyless entry, LED headlights and satellite navigation with support for the Pandora music streaming system.

The cheapest Outback variant is in fact the diesel manual, which starts from $35,490 dollars. Add $2,000 for the CVT automatic and $6,000 for the Premium variant. The Outback is on sale now.

April 25th 2015
Albert Malik