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Motoring News

HYUNDAI SONATA N LINE

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Hyundai Sonata i30 N Line
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HYUNDAI SONATA N LINE

Hyundai has reinvented the Sonata as a turbocharged sporty coupe.

By CHRIS RILEY

The Hyundai Sonata dates all the way back to 1989 in Australia.
Now in its eighth generation, it started life as a medium-sized four door sedan that offered family-friendly motoring for a budget $19,990.
More than 30 years later, the latest Sonata N Line, launched in December last year, has undergone a transformation — to emerge as a highly desirable turbocharged sports machine.
There’s just the one fully equipped model priced from $50,990 plus on-roads (for a white one). At the moment you can grab one for $55,654 driveaway, which includes metallic paint, normally a $595 extra.

STYLING
With the latest model Sonata N has adopted the low-slung lines of a coupe, sitting low and wide with aggressively sculpted curves.
The wide, droopy face with its bold cascading glossy black grille evokes classic Italian sports cars of yesteryear.
At the rear, an LED strip across the boot ties the LED tail lights together to create a sense of width and striking night-time appearance, with twin tailpipes integrated into each side of a diffuser-style lower treatment.
A Sports body kit, LED headlights, DRLs and tail lights, and 19-inch alloys wrapped in 245/40 Continentals complete the picture.
There’s four colour choices; White Cream, Hampton Grey, Flame Red and Midnight Black, and only white is free.
One small annoyance is the lack of an exterior boot release.

INTERIOR

Hyundai Sonata i30 N Line

Hyundai Sonata i30 N Line Interior

Inside the cabin is trimmed in an upmarket combination of suede and black Nappa leather, with decorative N Line badging.
The dash incorporates a free-standing 10.25-inch touchscreen and separate 12.3-inch configurable LCD hi-res colour instrument binnacle.
Creature comforts include heated and ventilated, power-adjustable front seats, heated outer rear seats, dual-zone climate control air conditioning and a panoramic glass sunroof.
Profiles store multiple driver preferences, for settings such as seat and side mirror positions, HUD and driving mode settings, navigation history, and active Bluetooth device and radio station settings.
Other nice touches include auto high beam, adaptive cruise control, wireless smartphone charging, Head-Up Display plus front and rear park sensors, with Surround View Monitor with Rear View Monitor and Parking Guidance.
Although upmarket, the cabin is a bit monotone and glare makes some controls hard to see.
The driver’s door handle is easy to fumble, while the handbrake switch is buried down and to the right of the wheel.
The head-up display is almost invisible with polarised sunglasses.

INFOTAINMENT
A 12-speaker Bose premium audio system surrounds the occupants with three speakers up front, three on each side and three in the rear.
The system features CenterPoint surround technology, which splits music into multiple channels, to fully immerse occupants in a surround sound experience.
The infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, along with satellite navigation, AM/FM and digital radio, Bluetooth audio streaming and you can use voice command for text messages.

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The Smartstream 2.5-litre turbo-petrol engine delivers 213kW of power and 422Nm of torque, the latter from 1650 through to 4000 rpm. That’s more than the excellent i30 Fastback N, which is good for 206kW and 392Nm. Of course, Sonata is larger and weighs more — but you get bragging rights.
The engine is paired with a ‘wet’ eight-speed dual-clutch transmission developed specially for N vehicles, featuring shift-by-wire, push-button gear selection as well as paddle shifters.

SAFETY
Standard SmartSense technologies include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Junction Turning Assist function, Driver Attention Warning and Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance-Assist systems.
It also features Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist and Lane Following Assist systems, and Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go.

DRIVING

Hyundai Sonata i30 N Line

Hyundai Sonata i30 N Line

The addition of a turbocharger, different cylinder head and revised internals contribute to significantly better performance compared to the 142kW of the standard naturally aspirated engine in the previous model.
With 422Nm of torque, N Line has stacks of low and mid-range grunt and pulls strongly all the way to redline, with fast, snappy changes from the twin clutch transmission.
It does however display a slight hesitancy when you back off, then almost immediately hit it again. But then, you’ve got to remember that it has a twin clutch.
With launch control, the dash from 0-100km/h takes 6.2 seconds, pretty quick for a car that was once a mum and dad special.
Drive modes include normal, sport, sport+ and custom, while shifting between modes changes the look of instruments to reflect each mode.
In addition to changing the cluster, toggling through them alters the steering weight and the speed and strategy of the transmission shifts.
With a kerb weight of 1636kg, suspension is MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear, with monotube rear dampers that deliver rapid response, making the car more agile than you might expect for the size.
To bring Sonata to a stop, engineers have added larger front and rear brake calipers and discs, 345x30mm ventilated front and 325x12mm solid discs rear.
Yes, you might have picked up on the fact that active sound means the engine note is enhanced artificially, but you know what? I don’t mind. It simply makes the driving experience more engaging and that’s what really counts.
With claimed fuel consumption of 8.1L/100km we were using 9.1litres during our test period.

SUMMING UP
Is it worth it? Drive it and see what you think. Sonata N Line makes all the right noises and has all the right moves.
It will be a shame if this car does not get the attention it deserves, primarily because of the name and associated baggage.
Say Sonata to someone and it conjures images of a boring, four-door econobox. Quite frankly, they should have ditched the name to make the transformation complete.

MODEL RANGE
Hyundai Sonata N Line: $50,990
Note: This price does not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Hyundai dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Hyundai Sonata N Line, 4-cylinder turbo petrol, 8sp automatic, FWD)

ENGINE:
SmartStream G2.5
Capacity: 2.5 litres
Configuration: In-line four
Maximum Power: 213kW @ 5800 rpm
Maximum Torque: 422 Nm @ 1650 – 4000 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.1L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 188g/km

DRIVELINE:
8sp Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT)

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4900 mm
Wheelbase: 2840 mm
Width: 1860 mm
Height: 1445 mm
Turning Circle: 11.0 metres
Kerb Mass: 1636 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 60 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc 345mm x 30mm
Rear: Solid disc 325 x 12 mm

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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