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Motoring News

GRAND ENTRANCE BY GRANVIA

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2019 Toyota Granvia.
The Granvia shoulders the load previously taken by the Toyota Tarago people-mover.
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GRAND ENTRANCE BY GRANVIA

By DEREK OGDEN

It’s ta-ta, Tarago; and a big hello to the Granvia. ‘Big’ being the operative word, for at more than five metres long, almost two metres tall, and tipping the scales at more than two-and-a-half tonnes, the new Toyota people-mover is no shrinking Violet.

While the Tarago paid its dues in the people mover market for 36 years, the Granvia takes the vehicle far beyond the friendly family transporter into the high-end hospitality and corporate buyers who appreciate style, cabin comfort and premium features.

The Granvia has six or eight seats, quality cabin and advanced safety systems that take the vehicle into modern minibus territory.

Available in two specification levels – Granvia and Granvia VX – the entry-level six-seater comes to market for $62,990, plus on-road costs, while the range-topping VX six and eight seaters share the $74,990 price tag.

All make us of the same engine, a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel, mated with a six-speed automatic transmission. The six-seater flagship VX was on test.

STYLING

2019 Toyota Granvia.

The Granvia shoulders the load previously taken by the Toyota Tarago people-mover.

Forget the run-of-the-mill people movers such as the Carnival, Odyssey and assorted Mercs and VWs, Granvia has a style all of its own. The radiator sets the trend with a truck-like grille with chrome finish.

The slab sides enable sliding doors on either side to open and shut smoothly, under electric power in the VX, while large windows let in lots of light to highlight the light-coloured upholstery the test VX and give all six occupants an expansive view of the passing scenery.

A high-lift tailgate opens up to give access to the cargo area – but more of that later. Up-to-the-minute touches, including auto LED headlights, taillights, fog lamps and daytime running lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, and chrome garnishes add premium touches to proceedings.

INTERIOR

2019 Toyota Granvia.

The Granvia shoulders the load previously taken by the Toyota Tarago people-mover.

Comfort and convenience take top billing in the Granvia VX cabin. The six-seater features a spacious rear cabin with four individual captain’s chairs with armrests, reclining backrests and a sliding seat base of more than 50 cm ensuring easy access and the ability to accommodate a variety of passengers in comfort.

The four captain’s chairs, along with the driver’s seat, are all power-operated with the rear seats incorporating a power ottoman leg rest, adjustable headrest and solid armrests with all seats finished in a luxe quilted leather-accent upholstery.

Further welcome additions include keyless smart entry and start, front and rear climate control, rear sun shade blinds, nanoe dehumidifier, leather-accented / woodgrain-look steering wheel, synthetic leather / woodgrain-look door trim, front and rear, 12-volt accessory sockets and six rear USB power points.

INFOTAINMENT
A 7-inch touchscreen display takes in satellite navigation with SUNA live traffic, Bluetooth connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus 12-speaker Pioneer audio with AM / FM / digital radio and CD player.

Voice recognition and Siri Eyes Free are available and Aux and one front and six rear USB ports make up the options.

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
As befits a people moving limo, the Granvia is powered by a refined 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine that delivers 130 kW of power at 3400 rpm and 450 Nm between 1600 and 2400 rpm to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.

Toyota says, thanks to stop / start engine system, fuel consumption is just 8 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined urban / highway cycle, while emitting 211 g/km carbon dioxide.

SAFETY
All Granvias tap into Toyota Safety Sense driver assistance features, which include pre-collision safety system with pedestrian detection (day and night) and cyclist detection (day only), high-speed active cruise control; lane departure alert; road sign assist; and automatic high beam.

Other advanced safety inclusions are blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera with guidelines, panoramic view monitor, auto-dimming digital rear-view mirror and nine airbags.

DRIVING
The beefy Granvia takes up a good ‘acreage’ on the road and has a wide 12 metre turning circle, so a clear view all round is important. Front and sides are okay but it runs into trouble behind, with the plush seats blocking the majority of the rear window.

And, while entry and exit through the two automatic sliding side doors is made easier by the up to 50 cm opening, while access to the rear luggage area is a different matter. The absence of power to the liftgate makes opening and closing a hefty task.

On the move, there’s little fault to the Granvia, apart from pedestrian take-off. Things look up as the minibus stretches its legs. Wind noise intrudes at higher speeds and watch the speed on tight bends – understeer and body roll are twin traps for the unwary.

Pulling up is safely taken care of large ventilated discs on each wheel, with twin-pot callipers up front and single calliper brakes on the rear. Braking system is backed up by a range of technologies including anti-lock brakes, vehicle stability control, traction control, hill-start assist and trailer sway control.

Also on board is an electronically-controlled limited-slip diff that applies the brakes to individual wheels to ensure drive torque is delivered to the rear wheel with the most grip.

SUMMARY
I cannot see many Granvias parked in the average suburban driveway, let alone tucked away in garages. They are more likely to be on duty on premium hotel forecourts. However, for those who are loath to leave the comfort of the lounge, the VX ticks the majority of boxes.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL LINE-UP
Granvia 6-seat $62,990
Granvia 8-seat $64,990
Granvia VX 6-seat $74,990
Granvia VX 8-seat $74,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Toyota dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Toyota Granvia VX 2.8L turbocharged, 4-cylinder diesel, 6sp automatic, RWD, people mover)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 2.755 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 130 kW @ 3400 rpm
Maximum Torque: 450 Nm @ 1600-2400 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.0 L/100km
CO2 emissions 211 g / km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 5300 mm
Wheelbase: 3210 mm
Width: 1970 mm
Height: 1990 mm
Turning Circle: 12.0 metres
Kerb Mass: 2605 kg (6 seat)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 70 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Five years / unlimited kilometres

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Nissan Keeps All Options Open for Qashqai SUV: Petrol, Hybrid, and Electric

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Nissan Keeps All Options Open for Qashqai SUV: Petrol, Hybrid, and Electric

 

By Jeff Gibbs

Nissan is set to maintain a versatile approach for its Qashqai SUV, continuing to offer petrol, hybrid, and electric powertrains to cater to varying market demands. While the next-generation all-electric Qashqai is on the horizon, Australia is likely to continue with petrol and e-Power options for the time being.

Continued Production of All Powertrains

Nissan’s Sunderland plant in the UK will keep producing the Qashqai for global markets, complemented by production in Dalian, China, for the local market with partner Dongfeng. The Sunderland facility supplies Qashqais to over 100 countries, including Australia. Speaking to Australian media, Nissan’s Senior Vice-President and Chief Planning Officer for the AMIEO (Africa, Middle East, India, Europe, and Oceania) region, Francois Bailly, confirmed that the electric Qashqai will not replace existing models but will be produced concurrently to meet diverse market needs.

Electrification Strategy and Market Adaptation

Bailly emphasized the variability in market readiness for electrification. “The markets around the world are so diverse, there’s a speed of electrification that we could imagine different technologies at the same time in different markets,” he said. However, he did not confirm the all-electric Qashqai for Australia specifically, noting the growing but still relatively low EV market share in the region.

Current and Future Qashqai Offerings in Australia

In Australia, the Qashqai is available with two powertrain options:

  • A 110kW/250Nm 1.3-litre turbo-petrol engine.
  • A 140kW/330Nm e-Power range-extender hybrid, which pairs a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor driving the front wheels.

For emissions-restricted markets like Europe, the Sunderland factory also builds a mild-hybrid version.

The facelifted Qashqai, expected to arrive in Australian showrooms by the end of the year, will likely retain the current powertrain options. It will feature updated exterior styling, improved cabin materials, and a new Google-powered infotainment system, although the latter is yet to be confirmed for Australia.

Investment and Production Plans

To prepare for the new all-electric Qashqai, Nissan has invested an additional £30 million ($AU57.7 million) in the Sunderland plant to accommodate the installation of heavy battery packs and high-voltage components. The Qashqai EV will share the production line with the internal combustion engine and e-Power hybrid versions, as well as the Juke small SUV and the upcoming new-generation Leaf crossover. This strategy allows for a seamless transition from the current Qashqai to the new models, ensuring continuous production of the popular SUV.

In conclusion, Nissan’s multipronged approach with the Qashqai ensures that the SUV remains adaptable to market trends and consumer needs, offering a blend of petrol, hybrid, and electric options. This flexibility positions the Qashqai to effectively meet the demands of diverse global markets, including Australia.

 

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Cadillac’s Future Sedans: Embracing Electric Power

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Cadillac’s Future Sedans: Embracing Electric Power

 

By Jeff Gibbs

Cadillac, the luxury arm of General Motors (GM), has reaffirmed its commitment to sedans, hinting at a future where these models could be electric. This revelation was made by Mike Simcoe, GM’s Vice President of Global Design, during a recent media roundtable. Simcoe, an Australian and former design boss of Holden, emphasized that while SUVs dominate the market, sedans remain a vital part of Cadillac’s future, potentially powered by batteries.

A New Generation of Sedans

Despite the industry’s heavy lean towards SUVs, Cadillac is preparing to introduce a new generation of sedans. These models will be a key part of Cadillac’s lineup in the coming years, according to Simcoe. “We will certainly have a sedan in the portfolio at some point in the future,” he confirmed. This statement underscores Cadillac’s intention to diversify its offerings beyond the ubiquitous SUV trend.

The Celestiq: Cadillac’s Luxury Electric Sedan

Cadillac already offers the Celestiq, an electric vehicle that it refers to as a sedan. However, the Celestiq, priced at $US340,000 ($AU520,000), is designed to compete with ultra-luxury brands like Rolls-Royce and Bentley. This places it out of reach for most consumers, signaling Cadillac’s ambition to produce more affordable electric sedans that can cater to a broader market segment.

The Need for Affordable Electric Sedans

Simcoe indicated that while the luxury market appreciates high-end electric sedans like the Celestiq, there is a significant opportunity for more affordable electric sedans within Cadillac’s lineup. He remarked on the dominance of SUVs, calling them a “necessary evil” due to their market prevalence and practicality. However, Simcoe pointed out that many consumers, particularly those with higher disposable incomes, still desire a second vehicle that isn’t an SUV. This opens the door for sedans, especially those that are electrically powered.

Current Sedan Offerings and Performance Models

At present, Cadillac’s sedan lineup in North America includes the CT4 and CT5. These models, particularly their performance variants, are powered by twin-turbo V6 and supercharged V8 engines, aiming to rival BMW’s M3 and M5. These sedans showcase Cadillac’s commitment to performance and luxury, a tradition it aims to continue even as it shifts towards electric powertrains.

Cadillac’s Return to Australia and Electric Future

In a significant move, Cadillac announced its return to the Australian market in late 2024. This return is marked by an exclusive offering of electric vehicles, aligning with the global shift towards sustainable transportation. While Cadillac previously committed to transitioning to an all-electric lineup by 2030, recent updates indicate that petrol-powered models will continue to be manufactured into the new decade. This dual approach allows Cadillac to cater to diverse market needs while progressing towards a greener future.

Conclusion

Cadillac’s reaffirmation of its commitment to sedans, coupled with its strategic pivot towards electric vehicles, highlights the brand’s adaptive and forward-thinking approach. By continuing to innovate in the sedan segment and introducing more accessible electric models, Cadillac aims to maintain its legacy of luxury and performance. As the automotive industry evolves, Cadillac’s blend of tradition and innovation positions it well to meet the demands of modern consumers and sustain its competitive edge in the luxury market.

 

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BYD Sets Third Australian Sales Record in Four Months

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BYD Sets Third Australian Sales Record in Four Months

 

By Jeff Gibbs

In a significant achievement, BYD has set its third Australian sales record in four months, with close to 2000 electric vehicles sold last month. The momentum is set to increase further with the introduction of a new range of hybrid cars.

Record-Breaking Sales Record Performance

BYD’s sales in Australia continue to soar, driven by the growing demand for Chinese-branded cars. The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) reported that 1914 BYD electric vehicles were sold in May 2024, marking a 32% increase compared to May of the previous year. This remarkable performance underscores BYD’s rapid expansion and acceptance in the Australian market.

Upcoming Hybrid Models

The boost in BYD sales is expected to be further amplified by the upcoming launch of a new range of plug-in hybrid vehicles. This range includes a family SUV, the Sealion 6, and a utility vehicle (ute), both of which were announced last month. Although deliveries of the Sealion 6 plug-in hybrid SUV have not yet started, anticipation is high, and its introduction is expected to drive sales even higher.

Top Sellers and Market Dynamics

In May 2024, the majority of BYD’s reported sales were electric vehicles, with the Seal sedan leading the pack at 1002 units sold. This was followed by the Atto 3 with 737 units, despite a year-on-year decline of 49%, and the Dolphin with 175 units. BYD’s previous best monthly sales were recorded in March 2024 with 1622 deliveries, and in February 2024 with 1549 vehicles.

Despite BYD’s impressive performance, Tesla remains a formidable competitor, delivering nearly twice as many cars as BYD in May 2024, totaling 3567 vehicles. However, BYD’s sales trajectory is notable, with a 67% increase over the first five months of 2024 compared to the same period in the previous year. This growth positions BYD to potentially surpass 20,000 deliveries by the end of the year, though this falls short of their goal to double sales year-on-year.

Rapid Market Penetration

BYD’s rapid market penetration is unprecedented for a new automotive brand in Australia. It took BYD just one year and seven months to report more than 1900 new vehicles sold in a month. In contrast, other emerging brands such as MG, LDV, and GWM took significantly longer to achieve the same milestone, highlighting BYD’s exceptional growth rate.

Industry-Wide Trends

The rise in electric vehicle deliveries in Australia is part of a broader trend. Year-to-date, electric car sales have increased by 26.8%, totalling 40,636 vehicles. This follows a temporary dip in April 2024, the first since the pandemic. Electric vehicles accounted for 8% of new vehicle sales in May 2024, reflecting their growing popularity.

Similarly, plug-in hybrid sales have surged by 118% year-to-date, reaching 6099 deliveries. Although starting from a lower base, this growth indicates a strong interest in hybrid technology among Australian consumers.

China’s Position in the Market

China remains the third-largest source of new motor vehicles sold in Australia, trailing only Japan and Thailand. This places China ahead of other major automotive exporters like South Korea, Germany, and the United States. Sales of Chinese-made vehicles have risen by 7.9% year-to-date compared to the same period last year, further solidifying China’s role in the Australian automotive market.

Conclusion

BYD’s continued success and rapid growth in the Australian market illustrate a significant shift in consumer preferences towards electric and hybrid vehicles. With new models on the horizon and a strong sales trajectory, BYD is well-positioned to capitalize on the growing demand for environmentally friendly transportation options. This momentum not only sets a new benchmark for emerging automotive brands but also contributes to the broader adoption of sustainable technologies in Australia.

 

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