Mitsubishi Triton Review

In some ways the Mitsubishi Triton is an instrumental part of the ute brigade.

It is one of the least refined of the modern, established group of purpose-designed utes �?" as opposed to utes based off passenger car platforms �?" yet it is also one of the cheapest, so this Mitsubishi will most pertinently force the pricing hand of Chinese manufacturers wanting to sell their very �??green�?? utes locally.

Although the Mitsubishi Triton range extends from $20,990 for the 4�?2 cab chassis manual to $48,240 for the GLX-R 4�?4 double cab automatic tested here, it doesn�??t even take hardcore bartering on the dealer forecourt to reveal sharper deals than that; they�??re simply advertised cheaper in the classifieds.

Mitsubishi Triton 9

Even the before-bargaining RRP of the Triton GLX-R 4�?4 double cab is lower than that of top-spec rivals, all of which, with the exception of the $47,700 Isuzu D-Max auto, retail at beyond $50K.� The Mitsubishi is more highly specified than the D-Max, though, adding climate control, privacy glass, Bluetooth audio streaming nudge bar and a sports rear bar over it (and others in the class).

Also standard are 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, side steps, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift lever, cruise control, and, crucially for strictly OH&S-compliant worksites, stability control and side/curtain airbags. (Incidentally, on the Triton range only the GL misses stability control, but only this GLX-R gets side/curtain protection).

The Triton GLX-R can also be had with a five-speed manual for $45,740, instead of the five-speed auto tested here. Either manual or auto can be further specced with a ($3550) Luxury Pack with leather seat trim, electric-adjust driver�??s seat, body-coloured side mouldings and a diff lock, or just the latter for a stand-alone $750; in the ute class only the Volkswagen Amarok, Mazda BT-50, Ford Ranger and Holden Colorado can be optioned with the off-road-enhancing lockable diff.

Mitsubishi Triton 3

Going back the other way, if you can sacrifice some tradie-cred and get past the HR department, the $40,990 manual/$42,990 auto Triton GLX 4�?4 dual cab makes do with 16-inch steelies, while missing the above acoutrements, but it is perhaps more in tune with the Triton�??s unpretentious personality.

There are plenty of other options, like forgoing off-road ability but retaining five-seat practicality in the Triton GLX 4�?2 double cab for $31,990 manual/$33,990 auto; or go two or three seats at the front only, and replace body tray with just the chassis, for less than $30K, the GL 4�?2 priced at $20,990 manual-only, and the GLX 4�?2 $25,490 manual/$27,490 auto.

While only the base GL cab chassis gets a 2.4-litre petrol four-cylinder engine, all the other 4�?2 grades make do with a 2.5-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder. Except only the 4�?4 versions gets the �??Hi Power�?? version that raises outputs to 131kW of power at 4000rpm and 350Nm at 1800rpm (or 400Nm at 2000rpm on the manual transmission), up 31kW/36Nm (or 86Nm for the manual).

Mitsubishi Triton 11

In terms of power, the Triton is bang-on average for the class, adding a kilowatt to the D-Max diesel and giving away a kilowatt to the Amarok 2.0-litre and Colorado engine. It also comprehensively beats the HiLux�??s 120kW, while also affording an extra gear inside the automatic transmission.

Turn the table to torque, and the Triton 4�?4 manual beats all except the five-cylinder diesel BT-50 and Ranger and the V6-engined Navara�??s benchmark 550Nm. The auto we�??re driving, however, loses 30Nm to the D-Max, 70Nm to the Amarok and 170Nm to the Colorado (which, by contrast, gets less torque as a manual).

Regardless of its outputs, the Triton diesel is among the noisiest and slowest diesel engines in the class. Plenty of vibration streams through the steering wheel and pedals, accompanied by a nasally induction noise when pressed.

Mitsubishi Triton 6

Do press it, and a timed 13.4-second 0-100km/h leaves the Triton grasping the wooden spoon for class performance. Compared with the other diesel utes we�??ve timed it is only within three-tenths of the HiLux auto, but about a second or more adrift of everything else.

While the BT-50 shares the Triton�??s time, the Mazda has a manual transmission; the Ranger that shares the same engine but had a six-speed auto (also available on the BT-50) clocked 12.6 seconds to the same increment.

The closely priced D-Max recorded a surprising 11.5 seconds, meanwhile, so if straight line speed for bugger-all cash is the priority, the Isuzu beats the Mitsubishi. Unfortunately the Triton is also thirsty, exceeding its 9.6L/100km combined consumption claim �?" also the highest in class �?" by a fair margin, recording 13.4L/100km on test.

Mitsubishi Triton 10

The Triton is a mid-fielder for servicing costs, however, asking $1950 over four years. The only utes cheaper are the HiLux ($1020), Colorado ($1180), Ranger ($1560), and, contrary to the Volkswagen servicing-cost horror stories, the Amarok, though it beats the Mitsubishi by a scant $17. Not coincidentally all of the above have fixed-price servicing programs.

It�??s a middle-order finish for towing, too, with a 3000kg maximum haulage matched by Amarok, Navara and D-Max. It beats HiLux by 500kg, and loses to the Ranger, Colorado and BT-50 by the same figure.

You might not guess that the Triton is the longest of the utes (at 5389mm) and has the narrowest tray (1470mm), but you could take a stab at the Mitsu being a mid-fielder for all other dimensions.

Mitsubishi Triton 1

Certainly nobody would pick the Triton as having the tightest turning circle in the class �?" at 11.8 metres �?" after experienced what is by far the worst steering in the class.

Many ute buyers may not prioritise steering feel �?" if you did, you�??d only buy the direct, consistent Ranger and BT-50 �?" but everyone will be affected by a slow rack ratio that requires huge amounts of arm twirling to negotiate 90-degree street turns and parking manouevres. In addition to being slow to turn, the steering is also vague.

On rough roads, the suspension feels rudimentary, bouncing occupants over undulations and descending into harshness over successive scars in the road. Yet body control is lacking and handling is of the old-school variety �?" in that, there is none to speak of.

Mitsubishi Triton 5

The single upside is that the Triton is relatively settled on smooth surfaces, and is less receptive to small imperfections on the road. The cabin is also well made, even though the plastics are cheap and the green dot-matrix display will have those born in the 1980s tearing-up with Windows DOS nostalgia.

The seats are comfortable, and the rear decently roomy �?" again, average for the class.

While the on-paper specifications reveal the Mitsubishi Triton as a mid-fielder, and the price and equipment list propels it well ahead, on the road is where the GLX-R 4�?4 double cab automatic really falls behind. Still, it is comfortably ahead of the current crop of Chinese utes, so keep those new manufacturers honest by bargaining hard and picking up an old-school ute cheap�?�

GM developing 300km-plus EV to rival Tesla Model S

General Motors is developing an electric vehicle to challenge the Tesla Model S, with a 300km-plus range and a more affordable price.

US media reports GM�??s EV will have a single-charge range of over 320km and be priced �??around�?� US$30,000 ($32,000).

Tesla�??s luxury Model S starts at US$71,070 ($75,900) before federal tax credits in North America and offers its owners a335km� range from its base 60kWh battery that generates 225kW and 430Nm. The range of the top-spec 310kW/600Nm Model S with its 85kWh battery rises to 426km, however, it commands a US$12,500 ($13,350) price premium.

Tesla Model S - 1

GM vice president of global product programs Doug Parks broke the news of the planned EV but did not reveal when the car was destined to launch.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Parks said while the technology is currently available, the cost of batteries remains too high to be able to execute the model today at the US car maker�??s targeted price.

Even for the highest current global EV seller, Nissan, the issue of expensive and inefficient batteries is a problem, with others such as Tesla, GM and Volkswagen all working on advancing the technology to improve costs and driving range.

Chevrolet Volt

In Australia, the Nissan Leaf costs $39,990 driveaway (until October 30) and has a range of 175km. This leads the local EV range war ahead of the $48,800 Mitsubishi i-MiEV with 150km and the $59,990 Holden Volt�??s 90km EV range, though the range-extender Volt does claim a combined range of around 600km.

In response to recent claims from Volkswagen that it will become the electric vehicle market leader by 2018, Nissan executive vice president Andy Palmer told CarAdvice at last week�??s Frankfurt motor show, �??yeah but we say that too, don�??t we? One of us is going to be right�?��?�

Porsche Australia celebrates 50 years of 911

A convoy of more than 100 Porsche 911� models has crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge in celebration of the iconic rear-engined sports car�??s 50th anniversary.

Beginning in Millers Point and finishing at Taronga Zoo, the celebratory Porsche� 911� trek� organised by Porsche� Cars Australia and the� Porsche Club New South Wales, was intended as a� gift to the Stuttgart-based manufacturer and formed part of the German marque�??s� global �??50 Years of 911�?? celebrations.

Leading the convoy, escorted by NSW Police force�??s fully-marked Panamera, was Porsche�??s World Tour 911 �?"� a pristine 1967 model from the Porsche Museum in Germany.

Porsche 50 years of 911 - 6

Also present were two 1973 Carrera RSs, a 1993 964 Speedster, several 2010 911 997 GT2 RSs and the second-ever 911 delivered to Australia (in 1965). The total convoy was valued at more than $15 million.

One northbound lane of the bridge was reserved for the parade, which took place at 8am on Sunday.

Similar parades have taken place in Paris, Geneva, Stuttgart, Shanghai, London and Sao Paolo, though Porsche Cars Australia says the convoy in Sydney was the most �??audacious�?� yet, measuring around� 1.5km long nose to tail.

Porsche 50 years of 911 - 4

A stray� Nissan Navara� did make its way into the convoy, but apart from that, all reportedly went off without a hitch.

In another nod to the 911�?�s longevity, Porsche officially unveiled its� 50 Years Edition� model at last week�??s Frankfurt motor show.

Click on the Photos tab for more images.

Car magazine drives at 130km/h in campaign to raise speed limits

Wheels magazine has driven from Melbourne to Sydney at speeds up to 130km/h in the latest episode of its campaign to have Australia�??s highway speed limits raised.

The magazine recruited British motoring journalist Ben Oliver for the drive, aiming to demonstrate that travelling at higher speeds on good quality roads can be completed safely and has the potential to lower the road toll.

Wheels claims raising the limit to 130km/h on Australia�??s best highways would help reduce fatigue and mean drivers spent less time on the road, thereby reducing their chances of being involved in a crash.

Oliver�??s story features on the cover of the latest edition of the magazine, boasting: �??We drove Melbourne to Sydney at 130km/h, didn�??t die and didn�??t get booked�?�.


For the purpose of the story, Oliver drove at the signposted speed limit at all times except in 110km/h zones where he travelled at 130km/h, as indicated by the speedometer in his Volvo S60 Polestar test car. He slowed to the speed limit for fixed speed cameras to avoid being automatically snapped.

Oliver completed the circa-776km journey along the Hume Highway in six hours and 23 minutes; an hour and 11 minutes faster than a control car that stuck to the speed limit at all times.

Oliver, who regularly drives legally at higher speeds in Europe, was the first to admit that a blanket 130km/h limit for the Hume Highway was not the answer.

�??There was nothing the Volvo couldn�??t handle with 95 per cent of its ability in reserve, but a newly qualified driver in a worn-out car in the dark and rain might get into trouble sooner at these speeds,�?� Oliver writes. �??A variable limit would seem right�?��?�

But �??the greatest danger�?�, according to Oliver, is the fact that �??on those laser-straight, perfectly surfaced stretches of the Hume, even 130km/h felt safe enough to be dull�?�.

�??I marvelled at the staggering wrong-headedness of the constant roadside signs warning drivers of the dangers of fatigue when an unnecessarily low limit forces them to remain behind the wheel for longer.�?�

Failing to attract the attention of the boys in blue and having saved more than an hour, Oliver concluded, �??Your speed limit is nuts�?�.


While not planning to penalise Oliver despite his admission of guilt, NSW Police has condemned the action as �??reckless�?�.

�??This stunt has potentially endangered other people�??s lives,�?� NSW Police commander of traffic and highway patrol John Hartley told News Limited. �??Speed is still one of the biggest killers on our roads.

�??It�??s a deliberately reckless action. We take a dim view of what is clearly a stunt. It sends a bad message to other drivers and could have had tragic consequences.�?�

Wheels�?? online petition to increase the limit to 130km/h has attracted more than 11,000 signatures on its way to its target of 15,000.

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray: Euro-spec muscle car tackles Nurburgring

The European version of the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is undergoing testing at Germany�??s Nurburgring just ahead of its expected on-sale.

The US manufacturer says a team of its technical experts led by Chevrolet Europe technical manager Patrick Herrman are currently assessing two Corvette Stingray coupes in Europe, with both cars being driven on track and on road.

General Motors vehicle dynamics engineer Jim Mero said the demanding Nurburgring race track is perfectly suited for its purpose of fine-tuning the ride and handling characteristics of the European-spec Corvette Stingray.

�??We are paying particular attention to the suspension set-up and the steering at Nurburgring,�?� Mero said.

�??European roads are quite distinct and different from those in the US, and so are driving habits.�?�

Chevrolet Corvette Nurburgring Testing - 3

Ranging in price from 69,990 euro ($100,176) in Croatia, France and Germany to 79,990 euro ($114,473) in Spain, all European Corvette Stingrays come fitted as standard with the Z51 performance package.

A $2800 ($3000) option in the US, the pack includes an electronic limited-slip differential, dry-sump oiling system, integrated brake, differential and transmission cooling, and unique aero upgrades.

Standard again for Europe but optional in the US are Magnetic Ride Control with Performance Traction Management ($1922) and a performance exhaust ($1280) that sees power and torque of the 6.2-litre V8 engine rise 4kW and 6Nm to 343kW and 630Nm.

Chevrolet said in June that with the Z51 performance pack installed, the Stingray is capable of accelerating from 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds, braking from 100km/h-0 in 32.6m, sustaining a cornering force of 1.03 g, and covering the quarter mile in 12 seconds with a final speed of 191.5km/h.

Corvette Stingray testing at Nürburgring

Despite recording numerous laps of the iconic 20.8km Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit, Chevrolet is yet to reveal any specific lap times. Suspension tweaks aside, though, it�??s unlikely the �??Vette will come close to the 6min57sec time� the� 661kW/1273Nm� Porsche 918� set earlier this month �?" the first approved road car to lap under seven minutes.

European sales of the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray are due to begin in late September.

In the US, the Corvette starts from $51,995 ($55,680).

Citroen, Loeb to race together again

Citroen and Sebastien Loeb will team up once again to tackle the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) in 2014, in a first for� both team and driver.

The decision to enter the WTCC presents new challenges for� Citroen Racing and Loeb, with their long-standing relationship set in the sport of rally.

Citroen Racing team principal Yves Matton said the team was still committed to rallying and would continue to work hard to try and get the best possible result in this year�??s World Rally Championship.

�??Competing in a category for the first time, starting from scratch, gives our division a superb challenge,�?� Matton said.

�??Work has already begun in our Versailles technical centre and is set to be stepped up in the coming weeks.�?�

Sebastien Loeb

Loeb said he was pleased the 2014 WTCC deal had been confirmed.

�??It�??s a bit of a dream to think that we are going to write a new chapter in our history,�?� Loeb said.

�??I have used this transitional year to try out various experiences and to improve my track driving skills.

�??I don�??t expect to win straight away, but I am determined to get there one day.�?�

Since ending his WRC career as a full-time driver with Citroen at the end of the 2012 season �?" after claiming nine consecutive world titles �?" Loeb has proven successful in a 407kW/800Nm Citroen DS3 XL, a McLaren MP4-12C GT3 and in two guest appearances in this year�??s WRC.

The Frenchman will also take on the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado on June 30, behind the wheel of a 652kW, 875kg Peugeot 208 T16 that can reach 100km/h in 1.8 seconds.

Chrysler 300 SRT Core: stripped-out muscle car delivers 347kW for $56K

The stripped-out Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core has been unleashed, offering all the performance of the flagship SRT8 at a significantly lower price.

Developed specifically for the Australian market, the $56,000 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core is $10K cheaper than the SRT8 on which it�??s based.

Despite the lower pricing, the 300 SRT8 Core delivers the full 347kW of power and 631Nm of torque from its 6.4-litre Hemi V8 engine, giving it a serious bang for your buck advantage over the highly specified range-topper.

The Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core�??s sharp pricing sees it undercut the all-new HSV Gen-F ClubSport by almost $5K. The Canadian-built muscle car also outguns its Australian rival by 30kW and 81Nm.


SRT8 Core customers are asked to make a number of sacrifices from an equipment perspective to justify the $10K saving, however.

The Core misses out on the flagship SRT8�??s two-mode adaptive damping system, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitor, rear cross-path detection system, and satellite navigation, as well as its heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated and cooled cupholders, and boot cargo net and mat.

The 300 SRT8 Core also gets a basic audio system, with the number of speakers reduced from 19 to six; cloth upholstery rather than Nappa leather with perforated suede; and �??All-Season�?? rather than �??Three-Season�?? performance tyres.

Fiat Chrysler Group Australia says the Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core will be a permanent addition to the range, designed to offer a �??more accessible 300 SRT option for dedicated performance enthusiasts�?�.

Click the Photos tab for more images.


Webber all but confirms Ricciardo to claim Red Bull F1 seat

Mark Webber has all but confirmed fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo will take his seat next season following his exit from the Infiniti Red Bull Racing team after seven years with the Formula One team.

Speaking with Australia�??s Channel 10 prior to the Belgian Grand Prix�??s main event at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday, 36-year-old Webber announced, �??The decision�??s made.�?�

�??We all know who it is. I�??m happy with that decision. It�??s good for him and good for Australia.�?�

Mark Webber - Lifestyle

The remark appears to be good news for 24-year-old, and current Toro Rosso driver, Ricciardo, however, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner maintains the West Australian is far from having secured the drive for 2014.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Horner said, �??There is plenty of speculation around but nothing has been signed yet�?�.

�??Mark is not privy to all of our discussions with the drivers but when we are comfortable to announce the decision then we will announce it,�?� Horner said.

Daniel Ricciardo - Action

That announcement is not due to come before Round 12 of this year�??s championship at Monza in Italy on September 6.

With rumours still rife about Webber�??s replacement, speculation remains around the possibility of either Ferrari�??s Fernando Alonso or Lotus�?? Kimi Raikkonen spoiling Australia�??s celebrations.

Departing Red Bull to drive for Porsche in the 2014 World Endurance Championship, the notoriously loose-lipped Webber, who has previously driven for Minardi, Jaguar and Williams, has notched up 207 race starts,11 pole positions and� nine career wins to date.

Formula E signs wireless charging deal for 2014 season

The all-electric FIA Formula E championship, set to debut in 2014, has signed a sponsorship deal that aims to see wireless charging used extensively in the electric racing series.

The deal with wireless technology developer Qualcomm, hopes provide wireless charging for the series�?? electric vehicles through a system dubbed �??Halo�??.

Using the �??Halo�?? technology, a coil built into the race cars picks up and converts an electromagnetic field emitted by a copper pad buried underground into electricity.


To be used first with only the category�??s safety car, there are plans for all Formula E cars to be charged using Halo by the second or third year of competition.

One major advantage of wireless charging is the potential to eliminate �??refuelling�?? stops during competition. Qualcomm says it is possible that pads could be built beneath a racetrack, allowing cars to be constantly recharged during a race simply by passing through each pad�??s electromagnetic field meaning fewer disruptions for viewers.

Of course, such an exercise would be costly, and is dependent upon the early success of the electric series.


Aside from wireless charging, Qualcomm also plans to provide Formula E�??s telemetrics system.

This system would allow data to be collected about each vehicle �?" such as the car�??s tyre pressure, engine performance, brake fluid levels, speed, and torque figures �?" on a nanosecond-by-nanosecond basis. Information would be relayed to race teams, who would be able to plan their races in real time.� Set up as an app, the telemetrics system would also allow viewers to further engage with the race by displaying the same data on fans�?? personal smartphones.

It was announced earlier this year that Renault will supply the electric powerplants for all championship racers as the official technical partner of Spark Racing Technology.

Formula E is scheduled to begin in London in September next year. Races will also be held in nine other cities worldwide. Each race will involve ten teams, each with two drivers, racing against each other in one-hour blocks.

Formula E�??s chief executive Alejandro Ageg told the BBC, the sport is hoping to attract a younger audience than Formula One and promote the rapid development of electric vehicles.

Lexus looking smaller than NX SUV

The man behind the dramatic Lexus LF-NX concept says the company could make an even smaller SUV to challenge the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLA.

Asked about the potential for a compact SUV during a media round-table at the Frankfurt motor show, Lexus design division project general manager Takeshi Tanabe responded: �??Why not?�?�

�??Things are getting smaller and smaller,�?� Tanabe-san said. �??If you look at Mercedes GLA, it is even smaller.�?�


Larger than originally expected at 4640mm long, the LF-NX concept �?" set to be transformed into the Lexus NX for production from 2014 �?" is almost identical in size to the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 that compete in the premium mid-sized SUV segment.

It leaves space for an even more compact model like the GLA, Audi Q3 and BMW X1, all of which are roughly 150-200mm shorter �?" making them more practical for city life �?" and embrace sleeker crossover styling rather than a taller SUV stance.

The premium compact segment is currently growing faster than any other SUV segment in the world. BMW sold almost 80,000 X1s in the first half of this year, up 23 per cent compared with the same period in 2012.

The Q3 outsold the X3, X1, Q5 and Range Rover Evoque in Europe last year to claim the title of the best-selling premium small/medium SUV, raking up more than 70,000 sales in the region alone.


Year to date, the Q3 is Audi�??s highest-selling model in Australia, accounting for almost 20 per cent of the brand�??s sales.

Though less popular than its larger X3 and X5 siblings, the BMW X1 has enjoyed 27 per cent growth in Australia this year, making it the local division�??s fastest-growing SUV.

Arriving somewhat late to the party, the A-Class hatch-based Mercedes-Benz GLA made its official debut in Frankfurt this week. It goes on sale in Europe later this year before reaching in Australian showrooms in the second quarter of 2014.

Land Rover Defender successor on track despite brand�??s silence

No news on the next-generation Land Rover Defender is not necessarily bad news according to the company�??s key directors, who insist the program to replace the iconic off-roader is still on track.

The British SUV maker has been largely silent about its Defender successor since unveiling the polarising DC100 concept at the last Frankfurt motor show in 2011.

The current Defender �?" a vehicle that can trace its roots back to 1948 �?" will cease production in a little over two years�?? time due to tightening safety and emissions regulations in Europe.


Land Rover director of programs Murray Dietsch insists the brand is unwavering in its commitment to continuing the Defender legacy with an all-new model.

�??At a very senior level in the company there is an overwhelming desire to have Defender continue in some form in the future,�?� Diestch says, �??and it�??s not just a view that�??s shared by one person, there�??s an enormous number of people in the company that want to see Defender continue.

�??Could you have a Land Rover company without having Defender in it? The answer is no.�?�


While expected to launch early in the second half of the decade, Dietsch admits the new Defender may not be ready in time to directly replace its predecessor, potentially leaving a hole in the company�??s line-up.

�??We�??ve not made the connection to when its successor will be available and when the current car ceases production �?� and it would be premature for us to do that,�?� he said.

�??You�??ve got to keep in mind that Defender, while �?� we sell cars in 177 countries around the world, we don�??t sell Defender in 177 countries �?� so having it directly linked is possibly ideal but not imperative.�?�

Dietsch says while the current Defender is unable to be sold in some markets �?" notably North America �?" the new model will meet global standards and won�??t face any constraints.

�??Any new product we would not want to limit ourselves from the 177 markets that we sell into, so we would develop anything new without any restrictions on it,�?� he said.


Land Rover says Defender sales have continued to tick along at approximately 20,000 units per year for the past five years, and Dietsch says even at that level it remains profitable for the company, admitting it would be �??silly�?� to build the car at a loss.

While acknowledging that Land Rover stands to make considerably more money from vehicles like the Range Rover Evoque �?" which topped 100,000 global sales last year, more than any Land Rover in one calendar year in history �?" Dietsch says sales numbers are only a small part of the Defender story.

�??It�??s probably more about the brand reputation and what we do with Defender than actually market penetration,�?� he said.

�??There�??s not talk of let�??s cut our losses or anything like that. Defender is quintessentially Land Rover. We think it�??s a product that Land Rover can�??t do without.�?�

The exact form the new model will take remains largely unknown, though Land Rover global brand director John Edwards poured cold water on the suggestion Defender would branch out to become its own sub-brand like the luxury Range Rover division, instead remaining a Land Rover brand model.

Mercedes-Benz unhappy, concerned with V8 Supercars team

Mercedes-Benz AMG has questioned the viability of its third-party V8 Supercars team following a dour and controversial season.

Erebus Motorsport, run by Westfield-founder heiress Betty Klimenko, a major customer of AMG, was approved the right to use a Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG body shell as the basis of her private V8 Supercars team in September 2012 by the German operations, despite vocal opposition from the local Mercedes-Benz management team. The team has since, however, been consistently beaten by Holden and Ford, and more recently, second-newcomer Nissan.

Currently, the three drivers of Mercedes-Benz AMG products, Tim Slade, Lee Holdsworth, and Mero Engel, are, within 28 cars on the grid, sitting at 21st, 26th and 28th place respectively.

Tobias Moers (below), head of overall vehicle development and board member of Mercedes-AMG, responded at length to the question of whether the Stuttgart-based performance division is happy with the way Mercedes-Benz AMG is represented on the V8 Supercars grid.

Tobias Moers

�??That�??s a complicated question,�?� he began.

�??Honestly �?� no we�??re not today, it�??s not really good where we are today in that race series, that�??s clear, there is no sense to talk about we�??re happy with that. No we�??re not happy.

�??The thing is when Erebus started �?� the target was one of the first [top] 10 [results]. Get that and then the chequered flag is coming.�?�

He referred to the indication that Mercedes-Benz AMG would eventually see higher placings in V8 Supercars rounds, but that has not since eventuated.

Erebus Motorsport V8 Supercars - 8

Moers admits that �??we had a problem at the beginning there, we underestimated everything in the series, that�??s the truth.

�??We changed [the engine] �?� the powertrain wise the car is now capable. We still have an issue with the fuel consumption. But that problem or that issue will have everybody that�??s come new into the racing series.�?�

V8 Supercars management has since made mandatory a number of fuel-stop entrys within a race to allow the multi-valve engines, such as Nissan and Mercedes-Benz use, to be on an increasingly equal playing field than the remaining field�??s overhead valve engines.

But, Moers said, the efficiency inequality is because the Mercedes-Benz engine is forced to run at a compression ratio suitable for the existing Holden and Ford engines.

Erebus Motorsport V8 Supercars - Engine 2

�??I think sooner or later they�??ll have to change something with that,�?� he opines. �??Because we have �?� the compression ratio, at 10:1 �?� that�??s two-valve compression ratio, that�??s one issue and they have to change something.

�??It�??s always complicated if you step into a racing series that is pretty good/settled, so they have to do some arrangement, because of Nissan and then they have some arrangement with the ethanol, and they won the last two races and we have a discussion �??is it fair for the other ones?�??�?�

In addition to the engine characteristics mandated by V8 Supercars management, Moers also cites a lack of tuning experience being a factor in hampering the Erebus team�??s success.

�??We have to discuss it with the team because Winton on that small circuit, 1.8 kilometres with 20 corners, the [Erebus] car�??s setup wasn�??t good so we had a lot of understeer �?� there is still something to do.

�??There�??s a need for discussions with that cars.�?�

Erebus Motorsport V8 Supercars - 6

The Erebus Motorsport team has a two-year contract with Mercedes-Benz AMG, which runs out late next year. Although with Ford likely to pull the pin on V8 Supercars involvement it makes the inclusion of Mercedes-Benz even more crucial, Moers is unequivocal about the requirements needed to renew the Erebus contract next year.

�??They have to [win],�?� he begins.� �??The aim is to win. If you race a car in a race series you have to win, you have to believe that you sometimes can win.

�??So we�??ll have to discuss with the team another time. But there�??s always a discussion going on, there must be a breakthrough sooner or later, that�??s clear�?�.

Unless major changes are made at Erebus Motorsport and with its drivers�?? ability to win races, it appears the Mercedes-Benz AMG venture into V8 Supercars will be extremely short-lived.

Mercedes-Benz defends electric vehicle strategy versus BMW �??i�?? brand

Mercedes-Benz product R&D manager Dr Thomas Weber has shrugged off suggestions that the production Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive shown at the Frankfurt motor show represents an inferior electric vehicle solution to BMW�??s dedicated �??i�?? brand of bespoke electric vehicles.

�??The B-Class is we believe the perfect cars for families,�?� begins Weber.

�??Compare the [BMW] i3 with the B-Class �?" four-seater [versus] five-seater; 140-160km range [versus] 200km of range. A powerful drivetrain from Tesla inside.

�??It�??s a clear message to change only what is necessary to change.�?�

Mercedes-Benz B-Klasse Electric Drive / Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive

The B-Class Electric Drive retains its five-seat capability and regular boot volume as the lithium-ion batteries are �??sandwiched�?? between the cabin floor and chassis in what Mercedes-Benz calls an �??Energy Space�??.

Where Mercedes-Benz has partnered with Tesla for its electric motor and battery technology, BMW has designed and built its own electric motors for its models, which is something Weber also says doesn�??t make the Mercedes-Benz strategy inferior.

�??To make it clear, we have a relatively wide range of alternatives available for our hybrids, and for the Smart we do the electric motor in cooperation with Bosch �?� Only for the B-Class we do Tesla inside, with a clear strategy to change only what is necessary to make it a Mercedes-Benz.

�??The clear strategy is to use Tesla, not to change Tesla. Brand-wise, Tesla is sexy, Tesla is an innovator, is a partner. We will help Tesla to survive �?� we use the hardware and we use the knowledge of our engineers to make this a Mercedes-Benz drivetrain.�?�

Mercedes-Benz B-Klasse Electric Drive / Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive

But Weber added that it was decided early on that Daimler would not purchase Tesla outright.

Although first shown at the New York motor show in March, the production Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive has since been upgraded as a final-release version for the Frankfurt motor show.

Previously claiming 100kW of power and 300Nm of torque from its electric motor, and a sub-10 second 0-100km/h, the ready-for-production B-Class Electric Drive now produces �??provisional figures�?� of 130kW and 340Nm, and gets to triple-figure speed in 7.9 seconds.

As before, the B-Class Electric Drive claims a total driving range of 200km and has a top speed of 160km/h.

Mercedes-Benz B-Klasse Electric Drive / Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive

With plug-in recharging capability, the B-Class Electric Drive takes 1.5 hours to charge to 100km using a European 400V power socket, and �??under two hours�?� for a 240V outlet found in the US.

Using a smartphone app with an internet connection, B-Class Electric Drive owners can also check the current charge of the car and estimated range, or individually cool or pre-heat the vehicle remotely.

Citing the generous-for-an-electric-vehicle range and fast-charge capability of the B-Class Electric Vehicle, and the research showing the daily driving of customers, Weber also took an indirect shot at vehicles such as the Opel Ampera (nee Holden Volt) and Audi A3 e-tron, saying �??one thing is clear today �?" we don�??t need a range extender.

�??It only adds cost and weight.�?�

Mercedes-Benz B-Klasse Electric Drive �?

Weber also says electric vehicle technology will move quickly enough to make dedicated elecric vehicles viable even for those who want to travel longer distances and not pay a premium over a traditional petrol or diesel car.

�??In a short period of time we will double the capacity of the battery and the price will be half, come to 2020. The same thing will happen on the electric motor side�?��?�

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive will go on sale in the US and Europe from early next year, but the company�??s local arm has stated that an Australian introduction is unlikely due to a lack of legislation and infrastructure supporting EVs.

Nissan tackles Volkswagen electric claims, commits to increasing Leaf range

Nissan has hit back at plans by Volkswagen to become the electric vehicle market leader by 2018, while reaffirming its own aim to increase range to 200km on Leaf and introduce four new electric vehicles to market within two years.

Speaking at the Frankfurt motor show, Nissan executive vice president Andy Palmer started by recalling history.

�??What did our friends at VW call it [growth of electric cars]? �??Ludicrous�?? I think the word was used in 2010.� They�??ve proven our argument correct, except we�??ve got a four-year start on them.

�??We�??ve got cars in the market, we�??ve gone through all the teething pains of launching in hot countries, cold countries �?� We�??ve got 75,000 cars out there connected to the internet, it�??s a huge advantage.

�??And they don�??t have one single car yet�?��?�

Volkswagen e-Golf - 2

About Volkswagen�??s bold claim to become the number one electric vehicle manufacturer within five years, Palmer responded �??yeah but we say that too, don�??t we? One of us is going to be right�?��?�

�??It�??s gone a long way in two-and-a-half years,�?� he says, both in terms of the number of electric vehicle offerings in the pipeline from manufacturers and also the changed attitudes.

�??From people saying this is failed technology, it�??ll never take off, every month your sales have failed.

�??It�??s not a question anymore, the question is how much of your portfolio is going to be EV, when�??s the next one coming, to the ones [manufacturers] that haven�??t got the technology, �??why don�??t you have the technology?�?? so I think we�??re in a very good space.�?�

Nissan-Andy Palmer_lores

Asked whether Palmer (above) feels threatened by dedicated-EV upstart Tesla, he responded with �??I welcome them.�?�

�??Them among any other players have made EVs cool. The fact that some people have gone up there, in a space we don�??t occupy [luxury segment], and basically created a halo around a brand that is pure-EV.

�??I think it�??s complimentary. And we both enjoy now the ability to sell credits to other guys that didn�??t move with us. So respect to Elon [Musk �?" founder].�?�

Palmer also maintained the brand�??s commitment to introducing four new dedicated electric vehicles in the next two years, including a new Leaf, e-NV200 taxi (below), Infiniti LE and �??in the mid-term�?� a city car to rival the Chevrolet Spark EV that will share hardware with the Renault Zoe.

Nissan to Create Integrated Mobility Solution for NV200 Taxi wit

The challenge now, Palmer tells, is to increase battery capacity without adding more size and weight. He confirmed the Nissan Leaf will soon get another upgrade increasing its range to at least 200km to match the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive, and exceed the all-electric version of the BMW i3, both of which were shown at the Frankfurt motor show.

Battery technology is moving �??much faster than I ever believed,�?� according to Palmer. �??We imagined a four year cycle for a battery, then we were on a two year cycle, now we�??re modifying the battery every year.

�??At some point in the future we can be priced equal to a gasoline competitor without the need for incentives.�?�

The executive vice president therefore maintains Nissan has no regrets in investing heavily into electric cars, rather than providing more hybrids for the market.


�??If you want to be a �??me too�?? �?" there�??s plenty of �??me toos�?? out there actually there�??s another Japanese car manufacturer they did a car called the Insight, remember that? No, exactly �?" so it�??s easy to be �??me too�?? it�??s much more difficult to be brave and carve out your own space.

�??I say Nissan to you guys you�??re probably going to say GT-R or Leaf. I say Toyota, you�??re probably going to say Prius. Volkswagen? Might say diesel engines.

�??Two years from now you say Nissan, you�??re going to say connected, electric, autonomous. Because that�??s our road map. You�??ll be getting the opportunity in two years to experience that the development is real, that we�??ll be able to demonstrate it in different locations.

�??Electric and cars is inevitable as tax and death�?�.

Mercedes-Benz AMG boss confirms GLA45 AMG, plans SLC-Class

The newly-appointed head of Mercedes-Benz AMG,Ola Kallenius,has confirmed the performance division will add the Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG to its line-up next year, along with an SLS AMG replacement and other bespoke sports cars down the track.

Speaking at a round-table interview at the Frankfurt motor show, Kallenius reaffirmed AMG�??s position to reach 30 models and beyond 30,000 units by 2017, which coincides with the Affalterbach company�??s 50th anniversary, up from last year�??s 22 models and 20,000 sales.

�??We will actually launch even more cars next year than we�??re launching this year,�?� begins Kallenius.

�??For the five years here [between 2012 and 2017] it�??s eight new models without the predecessor, one of which you can see the series version as a world premiere here today in Frankfurt.� It�??s no great secret that we�??re going to give that [GLA-Class] the same treatment as we gave the A45 AMG.�?�

Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG Spied - 6

Not only is the GLA45 AMG now confirmed, but Kallenius went further, describing it as a �??next year car�?�.

The GLA45 AMG will use the same 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine found in the A45 AMG, which produces 265kW of power and 450Nm of torque.

Kallenius (below) cited history when asked whether, following on from AMG�??s first foray into building a four-cylinder hot hatch, whether the creation of a four-cylinder SUV was a step too far for AMG.

�??When we launched the original ML55, it was the first true performance SUV. A lot of people said, �??Performance and SUV? Does that really match?�??. Now the performance SUV as a whole is 40 per cent of the performance segment �?" it�??s unbelievable.�?�

Ola Källenius, Daimler AG

Despite this push towards SUVs, however, Kallenius refused to confirm that the second of the planned seven new models AMG will introduce in the next four years will be the new-generation Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class

�??GLK �?� there are no plans for that. What the future brings we shall see. We have not made any ultimate decision in one or the other direction, the ML covers a pretty wide spectrum there in the middle, and we thought we should focus on the ML.

�??Now we have the GLA at the entry point, whether there�??s space in between at the performance level �?� don�??t know, no current plans at this stage.�?�

When it was put to Kallenius that the introduction of another six new AMG models in the next four years and considering that performance SUVs are hugely popular would make the GLK AMG a prime candidate for the AMG treatment, he replied, �??funnily enough it�??s not the first candidate �?� we have enough imagination to fill up that 30 [models] before you know it.�?�

Mercedes AMG SLC 2

When questions turned to the higher, proper sports car end of the AMG business, Kallenius confirmed that not only will the brand eventually produce a next-generation flagship to replace the SLS AMG, others are also in the pipeline, such as the smaller, 911-challenging SLC-Class spied here.

�??We probably won�??t do a �??Volkswagen Golf 5, 6, 7�?� with the SLS because of the unique Gullwing doors and so on and so forth. It�??s not something you just do one after the after.

�??I am not suggesting we should wait 55 years to do the next gullwing car, but certainly not straight after the one we have done now. That needs to sit in automotive history as its own chapter.�?�

Kallenius stated that �??there will be more stand-alone sports cars from Affalterbach�?�, which all but confirms the long-spied SLC-Class, smaller sibling to the SLS AMG and codenamed C190, will make production.

Mercedes AMG SLC 6

Designed as a Porsche 911-beater, the SLC-Class will likely use a twin-turbo V8 engine as Mercedes-Benz AMG has confirmed that a V6 engine is not currently being developed, but the existing normally aspirated V8 engine is being phased out.

The coupe is expected in 2015, about the same time as the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG is replaced. A roadster version is also likely to follow.

Nissan Juke Review

Tablet computers weren�??t cool until the Apple iPad came along, and now the Nissan Juke is aiming to do the same thing for compact crossovers.

Despite it�??s unquestionably contentious looks, since its launch in 2010 the Nissan Juke has proved immensely successful, attracting buyers around the world to a car with a fair bit of attitude. The Juke is a miniature SUV that doesn�??t conform to the norms of car design, one that found more than 230,000 buyers just last year.

Nissan JUKE

It�??s set for an Australian arrival in October (2013), but instead of waiting for it to come to us, we found ourselves taking it for a drive in the Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro, California.

Australian-delivered Nissan Jukes will be offered with a choice of two 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engines, though the vehicle is also available with a 1.5-litre turbo diesel in Europe.

Nissan JUKE

The turbocharged petrol Juke, which shares its engine with the Nissan Pulsar SSS, delivers 140kW of power and 240Nm of torque. The naturally aspirated model is a significant downgrade at 86kW and 158Nm.

The Juke is likely to be priced from the low-$20,000Ks for the naturally aspirated front-wheel-drive base model and finish in the high $30Ks for the all-wheel-drive turbo. This pricing strategy would see it at a similar (but slightly higher) pricing point than the recently launched Nissan Pulsar.

Nissan JUKE

The base model is offered in a manual but the all-wheel drive is offered only with an automatic gearbox.

Unlike the Thai-built Pulsar, the Nissan Juke models set for Australia are built in Sunderland, United Kingdom. (A factor that may also have an effect on pricing.)


The Nissan Juke is not a car for everyone. It�??s meant to be different; it�??s a radical rethink of what an SUV could look like and for that reason it tends to evoke that love-it-or-hate-it emotion in most. For us, we love it.

There�??s no denying that cars have all started looking similar. This is partially a result of advanced aerodynamics and partially because of safety regulations. So it�??s with open arms that we hope to welcome the horridly unique Juke to Australia.


Behind the wheel the Juke is more like a typical car than an SUV. In fact, it�??s really not an SUV in any sense except that it tends to sit up higher than your average hatchback. This sub-compact SUV market is sure to get crowded soon with the arrival of the Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur, Ford Ecosport, Holden Trax and so on.

This is precisely why the Nissan Juke is an excellent choice in this segment; it�??s a wannabe-SUV with attitude.


For our review we took the 1.6-litre turbo AWD model to the outskirts of El Toro, covering suburban and mountainous terrain. First impressions? It�??s pretty good. There�??s a certain overall refinement to the car that�??s hard to pinpoint to any one particular feature but the interior quality is up there for a car in this price category �?" even though there are no soft plastics to be seen.

Frankly, the main issue with the interior is that it doesn�??t follow the outlandish style of the exterior.


It many ways the interior looks like any other car, so while the rest of the world sees you as a rebel, behind the wheel, you may feel like a conformist.

Although this is an AWD turbocharged and jacked up hatchback, it�??s not exactly what we would call sporty. With a 0-100km/h time of about eight seconds, it�??s more than quick enough, but just a second or two shy of being lively.

Nissan JUKE

The continuously variable transmission (CVT) �?" which has one gear that expands or retracts depending on demand �?" seems to suck the life out of the 1.6-litre turbo, while making far too much noise in the process.

At full acceleration it felt and sounded as though our Juke test car was fiercely vibrating while the CVT held the revs for maximum power and torque extraction. It�??s less than ideal and certainly a weakness. A standard six-speed automatic transmission or a dual-clutch unit would have been a better choice.


Off the line the Juke is reasonably quick and can even show a bit of torque-steer despite the all-wheel-drive platform. It behaves well around bends, responding to the slightest steering input while providing excellent feedback in the process.

Ride quality is plush yet not too soft, though it�??s hard to tell given how good the roads are in California.


The Nissan Juke isn�??t very big. The rear legroom is adequate at best, able to accommodate two adults but definitely not ideal for three. The boot, too, is tiny at just 251 litres (no chance of fitting a full-size pram) but you can fold the rear seats down to improve that to 550 litres.

The Nissan Juke will no doubt turn heads when it lands in Australia. It�??s the sort of vehicle you buy if you want to get noticed. Practically, it�??s ideal as a city car for singles or couples without kids �?" or even as a second family car.


The car�??s popularity has led to the Nissan Juke Nismo, which Nissan Australia currently says is not on the local agenda, but we suspect will make it downunder in due course. Of course, if that�??s not enough grunt, the Nissan Juke R �?" which borrows its components from the Nissan GT-R �?" is also on offer if you�??re a middle-eastern sheik.