Car Reviews

Car reviews

There is a new way to gauge the appeal of cars. Forget 0 to 100km/h performance times, or how fast the roof goes up or down on a convertible. The new measure of success is zero to 36,000 social media followers in five minutes. That's how long it took for a selfie of a female colleague with the new Holden Cascada to go viral. Much better connected than I am, the budding reporter who hobnobs...Read more
Changing the name of the popular SUV could be a gamble - but Hyundai holds some handy cards. What's in a name? Hyundai is about to find out. Its ix35 is the second-best selling SUV in the country this year, behind Mazda's CX-5 . And if current buying trends continue, one of them eventually could be Australia's most popular nameplate. So it's a brave move to change the name of the ix35 to Tucson -...Read more
The second edition of the "everyday supercar" is sublime and stupendous. Supercars are like lingerie: sexy to look at, exciting to take off and the cost is inversely proportional to the amount of space they occupy. The Audi R8 fits the above criteria. However, the Audi engineer I'm talking to takes pains to emphasise this is an "everyday supercar". At the launch of the second generation R8 at the Algarve racetrack in Portimao, Portugal, we...Read more
The climate was right for Ferrari to build a faster, cleaner supercar. Here's an upside for global warming. Without Europe's increasingly stringent emissions laws, the world would not have one of the fastest Ferraris ever built. It's not to be equated with a Toyota Prius , of course, but the 488 GTB is Ferrari's idea of saving the planet. Ferrari has been forced to join the rest of the world's car makers in downsizing engines...Read more
Challenging looks, big thirst and no diesel option make the eight-seater a conspicuous target It's no secret Nissan has been struggling to sell its gas-guzzling, V8-powered Patrol . But that hasn't stopped its luxury offshoot releasing a more expensive and even thirstier version, in the guise of the Infiniti QX80. The eight-seat wagon is targeted at the Lexus LX570 , in turn a luxury version of the Toyota LandCruiser . Designed primarily for the US,...Read more
The self-made man who buys the bling-mobile can be an active driver, not just a steerer. In the past I've gone too easy on the Chrysler 300C. I've wanted it to be better than it was, treated it like a favoured child, and cut it some slack as a result. I know this because I've just driven a 300C that is (mostly) what I wanted from the get-go, with a driving experience that's more about...Read more
The Sorento lays claim to being the new family SUV benchmark. Call it the class ceiling. Some brands, no matter how much they've improved over the years, can't seem to make it on to shopping lists. Kia is among them. The Korean brand has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years but still finds it hard to attract interest in its larger, more expensive cars and SUVs. The Rio and Cerato small cars...Read more
Ford needs to blow its trumpet — especially for the likes of the punchy ST hatch. A week with the Focus ST shows me what's gone wrong at Ford. And it has nothing to do with the cars. The new ST is a little ripper thanks to a tweak this year that improves the cabin and its comforts, as well as compliance in the chassis. So it must be the Blue Oval brand's sales and...Read more
Imagine hanging by your feet from the window of a skyscraper. That's the fear I feel as I look at the ground far below. I'm inching slowly down what feels like a near-vertical face on a man-made off-road course, my seat belt almost choking me. I'm convinced gravity will take over at any moment. The back of the car will slowly shift its weight above my head and the car will slam on to its...Read more
If I remember rightly, some years ago at its zenith, the Holden Jackaroo was voted the best performing off-roader on bitumen by an Australian motoring magazine. Somebody at HQ must have been going through the files because the Jackaroo's slightly distant successor, the Colorado 7, has been upgraded to match its outstanding off-road capability on the street. In fact, the whole range of Colorado trucks and SUVs has been given the once-over taking it to...Read more
Based on the smaller Jazz, Honda’s HR-V is a better bet for small families The first generation HR-V was an oddball two-door all-wheel-drive hatch that couldn’t go far off road at all. No wonder it was killed off in 2002 after less than three years on sale. Honda is back with an all-new HR-V and this one is far more sensible. The engine drives the front wheels only, there are four doors and the body...Read more
The latest Audi TT is very different. It's a retro car that's finally been brought up to date and is a lot better for the change. It's sharper looking, a much sharper drive, more roomy and a car that is — finally — more than just a fashion accessory. In some ways, it's a lot like the Volkswagen Beetle . Please excuse the history lesson, but both cars arrived when retro was big — just...Read more

Latest used car reviews

Anyone doubting the improvement in Kia should take a look at the TD Cerato. It would be unrecognisable to those who remember the first cars the Korean carmaker launched here. It looks good, is solidly built, and performs as well as any of the rivals it competes with in the small car market. NEW There has been a marked change in the styling of Korean cars in general, and Kia in particular. Not surprisingly it's...Read more
Mention Alfa Romeo in conversation and you're sure to get a mixed response. The Italian brand has plenty of admirers willing to wax lyrical about its sensuous styling and fabulous handling, but there are probably as many who would happily condemn it for poor build quality and dodgy reliability. There's no question that the brand has had its issues over the years and has left many owners disappointed, but it's also fair to say that...Read more
The recent introduction of the third generation Audi TT coupe and the imminent arrival of the open-top roadster has created quite a stir of publicity about the seriously stylish sportscar. To the extent that quite a few trade-ins are already appearing in the used-car yards. So here are some hints, tips and historical info to help you get yourself into a terrific TT. We won't go into the all-new Audi TT MY15 here for obvious...Read more
Toyota largely built its enviable reputation for toughness and reliability on big, lusty four-wheel drives like the Prado . Regarded as the LandCruiser's little brother, the Prado is a big wagon that is able to cope with life in town. NEW It can accommodate up to seven in reasonable comfort, with some space left over for carrying the sort of gear a family on the move often has to take with it. The 150 Series...Read more
The introduction of the hugely successful Toyota 86 in 2012 has revived the long history of sporting models from the Japanese giant. Amongst these is the purebred Mid-engined Runabout 2-seater named the Toyota MR2. When launched in 1987 the MR2 was promoted as an excellent choice for those hankering after a mid-engined, two-seat Ferrari but with a rather more limited budget. True sportscars and all Formula racing cars have a mid-mounted engine to provide the...Read more
The new Camry released in 2006 was locally made and aimed at capitalizing on the shift from big sixes to smaller fours as buyers tried to combat spiraling fuel prices. NEW It seemed that overnight buyers no longer equated size with value-for-money, and smaller cars were in high demand. Looking to cash in Toyota dropped the six-cylinder engine option from the Camry and made it a four-cylinder only model. The Camry has always been aimed...Read more
The CR-V has long been a favourite with Australian SUV buyers and has consistently sold well for a long time. There's no secret to its success, it has a high-riding driving position, it handles with the assurance of a car, and has a cabin capable of accommodating a family of five with space left over for luggage. NEW The CR-V was offered in three levels of fit-out, consisting of the base model, and the Sport...Read more
Today's Jeep Wrangler can trace its ancestry directly back to the famed World War II Jeep, "the car that won a war". Obviously there have been improvements and refinements over the years, but these have been done with an eye on the heritage. Wrangler is a real off-road vehicle, a vanishing commodity in these days of people movers dressed up with big wheels and macho bodies. Just pull off the Jeep's soft-top, be prepared to...Read more
Audi is often in the forefront of vehicle design and the A3 is a classic example. The company was the first of the upmarket German marques to make the bold, some thought foolhardy, move to smaller, relatively affordable cars. Prior to the Audi A3 you had to spend upwards of $60,000 to get into one of the big make Germans. The A3 dropped the starting price to under $40,000 (keep in mind we are talking...Read more
Like a comfy old cardigan Australia's small car buyers continue to turn to the Toyota Corolla , despite a plethora of worthy rivals now on offer in a very crowded market. There's something reassuring about a nameplate that has been around almost 50 years, particularly one that has built an enviable reputation for reliability and trouble free motoring as the Corolla has. NEW The Corolla began as a small car, but over time has grown...Read more
It seems the Lancer has been around forever, much like the Toyota Corolla , but unlike the small Toyota it has never commanded a lot of attention from buyers. Those who know recognise it as a solid, well-built, reliable small car that makes sense, but it's a car that has blended into the background rather than stand out from the crowd. NEW The CJ model that arrived in 2007 was a big step forward for...Read more
Like to drive something out of the ordinary in a small car? Such as a French car with plenty of style and excellent performance, if you opt for the ultra-hot variants? Then the Renault Clio should sit somewhere high on your used-car shopping list. Clio is generally reliable and is put together well enough, though often not quite to the standard of the Japanese and Korean cars of the same size. Then again, the Renault...Read more

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