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The SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) is the evolution of what was once known as the four-wheel-drive (4WD). SUVs range in size beyond the usual small, medium and large, while their shape can either be that of a practical wagon or a style-focused coupe. They also come with the option of all-wheel drive or two-wheel drive.

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Tesla Model Y 2024 review: Long Range
The world used to belong to the Tesla Model Y with it being pretty much the only mid-sized electric SUV on the market in Australia for some time, but now rivals in the form of Kia's EV5, the Polestar 4, Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra threaten its popularity. In response Telsa has dropped the price and updated the suspension for a more comfortable ride. But is it enough?[read-more-default-title]Why we're wrong about Tesla | OpinionAnd... we're back. New 2024 Tesla Model 3s officially recalled to resolve ADR issue as deliveries resume for fixed carsBargain EV incoming! Tesla's cheap electric car is finally coming in 2025 with 'Project Redwood' Tesla Model 2 to take the fight to China and BYD in Australia: report We tested the Long Range variant of the Tesla Model Y to find out and answer some other questions along the way such as how practical is it, is the value for the money good, what's its range and how much energy does it use?
Ford Mustang Mach-E 2024 review: Select long-term | Part 3
It’s our last month with the Mach-E, and this car has made its mark.In my mind, it’s worked its way from a cynical use of the Mustang badge to possibly the front-running electric SUV in its class.Don’t get me wrong. It’s not as affordable as some of its rivals, and it also objectively doesn’t have the same value list of features as, say, the Kia EV6 or Hyundai Ioniq 5, but there’s something much more subjective about this car.[read-more-default-title]Ford Mustang Mach-E 2024 review: Select long-term | Part 1Ford Mustang Mach-E 2024 review: Select long-term | Part 2Not for America! Shelby cranks Ford Mustang Mach-E GT up to 11, but not how you might expectIt’s more than a list of features, it’s an EV which is so lovely to drive. I’m not even talking about things like ride quality (which continues to be very good), or the enthusiastic steering. It’s even the fact it is 9.0mm less wide than an EV6, and therefore much easier to park in the confines of a unit block or underground parking garage.It’s also the styling which has grown on me. At first, I found the curvy lines off-set with the square three-bar lights at the rear a somewhat awkward mish-mash of Ford’s European SUV line-up and its American influences, but the more I looked at it over the three months I had it, the more I liked it.I also looked forward to hopping in its plush interior, which is also a step above its Korean rivals in terms of comfort and finish. It proved a comfortable tourer on the long journeys of part two of this review.Which Mustang Mach-E is the best value?This one. The base Select ($72,990, before on-roads) has everything you really need in the Mach-E range. Honestly, the ridiculous 600km range available in the mid-grade Premium ($86,990) feels unnecessary, especially given this base one gets close to its 470km claim in the real world (see part two for more on that).It’s one thing to have plenty of range for cruising on the freeway, but at the same time I didn't feel a constant need to charge the Mach-E to cover daily duties.With the range as it was, I only needed to charge it once every three or four weeks if I wasn’t venturing outside the city. You might get longer out of the larger battery option, but why? It doesn’t seem like it’s worth the extra outlay unless you’re a frequent interstate traveller.The performance on offer is also on-point. Yes, the Mach-E is heavy and feels it, but the 198kW/430Nm available at the rear wheels is plenty, and certainly enough for a little oversteer antics when called for.Again, the top-spec GT’s absurd 358kW/860Nm is way more than anyone needs, complete with grippy tyres and all-wheel drive.While it’s dollops of fun (I sampled it at the launch), it demands track velocities to stretch its legs.How does it compare to its rivals?It’s more expensive, for one, but it’s also well equipped, very sharp to drive, and importantly rides well. I had the chance to drive its latest opponent in the mid-size EV SUV category, in the form of the Subaru Solterra.The Solterra comes in all-wheel drive only and is more affordable than the Mach-E Select in its base form, and it’s one of the few EVs which actually rides better, too.But it also offers nowhere near the range or performance, so it’s better suited for buyers who don’t value those traits as much.The EV6 and Ioniq 5 are more tech-y, offering faster charging courtesy of their 800-volt architectures, as well as external V2L features and internal three-pin outlets. Great for powering household appliances, or even just your laptop when you’re on the road.This is one feature I missed in my time with the Mach-E, as I’d often spend time while charging working on my laptop with the air conditioning on in the EV6 or its smaller Niro sibling.Actually, one thing which continually stood out about the Mach-E is how it reminded me of a certain locally-built Ford. It has much of the same rear-wheel drive long-distance touring character, and occasionally cheeky attitude.What didn’t we like about the Mustang Mach-E?A whole bunch of little things, but no deal breakers. As mentioned in the previous chapter, the glass roof, which has no cover and heats up the cabin rapidly on a hot day, is one. The buttons in place of door handles are another. Sounds like an unnecessary fuss if the power is drained down to nothing.I also found the expansive bodywork and gloss black highlights started to look particularly gnarly after a layer of grit built up on them. It takes away from the car’s overall design, and proves it will be hard to keep clean as it would only take a few days before the shiny factor wore off after each clean.I also frequently ran into a small but very annoying glitch with the wireless Apple CarPlay where it would work fine except for the audio connection. To be fair, this might be a fault with CarPlay’s software or some firmware issue which Ford isn’t entirely responsible for but it doesn’t tend to do it on other models. It could only be overcome by completely re-starting the car or forcing it to forget your phone completely and re-connecting it. Frustrating at times when you want to just hop in and listen to a podcast.Also, the greyscale interior, dominated by the huge portrait-oriented touchscreen, continued to divide those who I took for a ride in the car. Some because it didn’t look or feel like a Mustang and others because it was just too much touchscreen for them.Another issue I ran into was placement of the charging port. It’s behind the front left wheel arch, which can present problems when it comes time to plug in.Often, the large, heavy DC cables had trouble reaching, particularly if the pylon was on the right-hand side of the vehicle.This occasionally led to some situations where I’d have to park on an awkward angle to even get the cable to reach, or have to reverse out and try another bay.It’s an annoying but surprisingly frequent issue for longer electric vehicles.Is the Mustang Mach-E efficient?We covered a total of 2678km in our three months with the Mach-E and it spent a while kicking around town, but also a significant amount of time on freeway journeys.While I’ve seen higher and lower on a trip-by-trip basis, the Mach-E’s total overall average consumption landed at 16kWh/100km.This is impressive, not only because it’s better than the combined claim of 17.8kWh/100km, but also because of the amount of freeway travel (which should be less efficient given the lack of regen). For reference, anything below 20kWh/100km is ahead of par for a big, heavy EV like this, and I’d expect the achieved 16kWh/100km on a much smaller vehicle.This speaks to the Mach-E’s efficient motor and rear-wheel drive set-up, its low drag coefficient and appropriate temperature management for its battery, all of which have a significant impact on consumption.The trip computer also has a neat feature which shows you where your high-voltage energy was spent. Mine said seven per cent went to climate use, eight per cent went to powering accessories, and three per cent was lost to the exterior temperature needing to be compensated for.I also found, thanks to the sheer size of the battery and accurate range, I would simply let it drain down to below 20 per cent before using a fast DC charger, rather than constantly maintenance charging on a local 11kW AC unit.I have no way to charge it at home, but thanks to some forward-thinking charging infrastructure at my local shops, this didn’t present a problem.At the max 150kW charging speed this process takes a little over 30 minutes, while on a 50kW unit, which I used more often, it’s a little over an hour.
Alfa Romeo Tonale 2024 review: Veloce PHEV long-term | Part 1
The 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 is a truly significant new model for the famous Italian brand for a couple of reasons.Firstly, the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 is an example of Alfa Romeo’s first small SUV, which is an entry-level segment that should deliver the premium marque significant incremental volume.Secondly, the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 is exactly that: a plug-in hybrid, which is something that Alfa Romeo has never offered before.[read-more-default-title]Petrol-sipping swansong: Iconic Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale reborn as modern supercar, and you can't have one"Maybe we've known it all along?": Alfa Romeo closing in on 2024 launch of small electric car SUV to challenge Mercedes EQB and Volvo EX30Can Alfa Romeo be Italy's Tesla?Needless to say, expectations are high for the Veloce PHEV Q4, as not only does it have to help drive sales for Alfa Romeo alongside the rest of the Tonale line-up, it’s also its first meaningful step towards a zero-emissions future.With all of that mind, I’ve been handed the keys to an ‘Alfa White’ Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 for three months to conduct a long-term EV Guide review that will detail what it’s really like to live with the Italian supermodel.In this first instalment, I’m going to focus on what the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 has to offer on paper, covering its pricing and features within the context of its competitive set. To finish, I’ll touch on plug-in hybrid life for the first time. Let’s get to it, shall we?Is the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale PHEV Q4 worth it?It’s an interesting question. At $78,500 plus on-road costs, there’s no denying the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 costs a lot for a small SUV, even a plug-in hybrid one – and that view doesn’t really change with the lens of the premium segment.See, the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4’s biggest competition doesn’t come from other plug-in hybrids. Instead, it comes from fully electric vehicles, including the 230kW/494Nm BMW iX1 xDrive30 ($84,900) and 300kW/660Nm Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Motor ($85,990), both of which also have all-wheel drive.For reference, the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 uses a 132kW/270Nm 1.3-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine to drive its front wheels via a six-speed torque-converter automatic transmission. It also has a 90kW/250Nm electric motor to drive its rear wheels. Of course, as part of a series-parallel hybrid system, those two power sources can operate independently of one another or in tandem, depending on the conditions. When combined, up to 208kW of power is available, with Alfa Romeo not quoting a total torque figure.As a result, the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 can complete the 0-100km/h sprint in 6.2 seconds. While that is quite encouraging, the iX1 xDrive30 takes 5.6s and the XC40 Recharge Twin Motor just 4.9s. So if it’s straight-line performance you’re after, it’s hard not to recommend spending an extra $7000 or so to get the German or Swede – and that’s before you even take into account the other advantages of going fully EV.But even within the context of the Tonale line-up, the flagship Veloce PHEV Q4 still doesn’t make a lot of sense from a value point of view. The mid-range Veloce ‘mild hybrid’ and its 118kW/240Nm 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine is priced from $58,900, which makes for a whopping $19,600 difference between it and the PHEV.To be fair, Alfa Romeo Australia is at pains to point out that the Veloce PHEV Q4 comes standard with the Lusso pack (a 14-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system, a heated steering wheel and eight-way power-adjustable front seats with heating and cooling), which is a $4500 option for the Veloce mild hybrid. It also includes the $2500 panoramic sunroof, but even so the plug-in hybrid premium is still a very challenging $12,600. Point being, you’re not going to recoup that investment in fuel savings anytime soon – but more on that later.So, what else do you get for your spend? Well, there’s adaptive dampers, dusk-sensing LED lights (including adaptive LED Matrix headlights), rain-sensing wipers, 19-inch alloy wheels, four-piston Brembo brake callipers finished in red, auto-dimming power-folding side mirrors with heating, keyless entry, rear privacy glass and a power tailgate.Inside, a keyless start and a 10.25-inch touchscreen multimedia system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, TomTom satellite navigation and digital radio feature. And then there’s the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, wireless smartphone charger, dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, full-grain leather sports steering wheel, aluminium column-mounted paddle-shifters, pedals and door sills; and ambient lighting.Advanced driver-assist systems extend to autonomous emergency braking (with pedestrian detection), steering assist (with lane keeping), adaptive cruise control (with stop and go functionality), traffic sign recognition, active blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, high-beam assist, driver attention monitoring, rear seat reminder alert, park assist surround-view cameras, front, side and rear parking sensors, and tyre pressure monitoring.Six airbags (dual front, side and curtain) also go some way in helping the Tonale achieve the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating under the 2022 protocol – but the Veloce PHEV Q4 remains unrated, as the further independent testing required for its unique plug-in hybrid system is yet to be conducted in Europe, let alone Australia.So, what don’t you get overall? Well, the Veloce PHEV Q4 misses out on the space-saver spare wheel the rest of the Tonale line-up gets. Instead, there’s a tyre repair kit, which is nowhere near as handy. Otherwise, it’s very well equipped for the segment.And when it comes to aftersales support, the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 comes with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is on par for the premium segment these days. It also gets five years of roadside assistance.Service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. Capped-price servicing is available for the first visits, with the total cost $3100, which averages out to $620 per visit – that’s reasonable for the premium segment.PHEV charging dilemmas and consequences…Time for a confession: I live in an apartment building, which is hardly the best place to live with a plug-in hybrid.Now, I’ve lived with several fully electric vehicles with no issue, as public DC fast chargers are increasingly available in inner-city Melbourne, where I reside.But plug-in hybrids are a different kettle of fish as public AC chargers are quickly being outnumbered. And the ones that do exist in my area, bar one, require you to bring your own Type 2 to Type 2 cable, which is a problem for me and the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 I have the keys to, because it didn’t come with one.To be fair, a 3 Pin to Type 2 cable was provided, but that’s only useful if you have access to a domestic power socket, which are few and far between in apartment building car parks like mine.Point being, I’ve only been able to plug in and charge the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4’s 15.5kWh battery on four occasions in my first month of ‘ownership’. And even then, the highest capacity I drove away with was 35 per cent, as a 7.4kW AC charger takes 2.5 hours to fully charge all of the cells and I don’t ever intend on taking that long to do my weekly shop.The upshot of this is I haven’t been able to take full advantage of the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4’s WLTP-rated 60.5km electric-only driving range, which you need if you’re going to come close to achieving its fuel consumption claim of 1.5L/100km on the combined-cycle test.That said, I have been taking advantage of one of the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4’s two e-Save modes, opting to use the internal-combustion engine (ICE) as a power generator for the battery. But I’ve primarily only done so when travelling at highway speeds to maximise efficiency, as the ICE would be running then anyway.As a result, I averaged 7.0L/100km over 958km driving in my first month (249km of which was electric-only), when I rarely ventured outside of the city limits. Again, that’s not a fair indication of what the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 is capable of, but it is indicative of the consequences of not consistently charging a plug-in hybrid’s battery the ‘right’ way.It’s worth nothing that if the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 also supported DC fast charging, none of the above would be a problem, as I would be in same position as I would be in if it was a fully electric vehicle, but that’s currently not the case with many plug-in hybrids, which is a shame.The good news is, though, that Alfa Romeo Australia is kindly sending me a Type 2 to Type 2 cable so I can take advantage of more public AC chargers in my second and third months with the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4, so I look forward to reporting back with much better fuel consumption. Stay tuned. Speaking of which, in the next instalment of this long-term EV Guide review, I’m going to share my thoughts on the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4’s stunning design and deep-dive its sub-par practicality. I’ll be saving my mixed driving impressions and overall verdict for the third part. Until next time! Acquired: March 1, 2024Distance travelled this month: 958kmOdometer: 3517kmAverage fuel consumption this month: 7.0L/100km
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