Hey Good Looking; Style And Function Highlight Pro_cee’d GT Good Design Award



MY15 Kia pro_cee'd

Kia’s stunning pro_cee’d GT has stepped up to the mark to win an Australian Good Design Award in front of international design glitterati at a gala event in Sydney.

Having been elevated to the finals through the initial judging three weeks earlier, the stylishly eye-catching pro_cee’d GT took the next step by winning one of only two Good Design Awards allocated to mainstream cars.

The judges were taken by the pro_cee’d GT’s sharp styling _ “the designers have found an elegant balance between beauty and aggression in the overall styling, the end result is a car that looks fast even when standing still” _ its functionality _ “this car easily lives up to the GT nameplate, performance and handling is spot on for a car of this size and market positioning” _ and its quality _ “fit, finish and materials (both interior and exterior) exceed expectations”.

And a final accolade, not just for the pro_cee’d GT but for the brand: “Kia just keeps getting better and better at design – love this car.”

The 1.6-litre turbo, 150kW, 265Nm pro_cee’d GT was penned at Kia’s European Design Centre in Frankfurt under the guidance of head of design Peter Schreyer and is manufactured at the Zilina plant in Slovakia. Australia is the only market outside of Europe to have access to the pro_cee’d GT. It is available from $29,990 rrp.

The Good Design Awards is Australia’s longest standing national design award and promotion program, and one of the few forums for professional Industrial Designers and manufacturers to showcase their design expertise to national and international audiences.

As a result of more than 50 years of design benchmarking, the program has focused on progressively raising the standard of design and innovation in Australia.

Today, the Good Design Awards are highly regarded by business, industry, academia and government for their important role in setting a benchmark for the design profession and for driving competitiveness in Australian business. Internationally, the program is respected for its rigorous design assessment process.

A few Shots: A Day Out With The Jeep Freedom, a photo essay

Unedited and untouched. Prior to writing the story, this is what a day in a Jeep can be like. From city, to a country house mansion for a light tasty (but $32 for a pie and beer is a bit much) lunch. The Briars played host to our posse before heading down a track. All of this just a hop and a skip from Sydney.Jeep Freedom (5)

ABOVE: The Jeep Freedom on a lonely bush track

BELOW: The Briars Country House Hotel. Have a pie and beer for $32

Briars (8)Briars (9)


Briars (1)Briars (2)

Briars (4)Briars (6)

Briars (5)

Briars (10)Briars (7)

BELOW: A bush track in the recently burnt-out NSW Southern Highlands

Jeep Freedom (17)

The NSW bush regenerating after a fire.

Jeep Freedom (1)Jeep Freedom (2)

Jeep Freedom (3)

Jeep Freedom (4)Jeep Freedom (6)

Jeep Freedom (7)Jeep Freedom (8)

Jeep Freedom (9)Jeep Freedom (10)

Jeep Freedom (11)Jeep Freedom (12)

Jeep Freedom (13)Jeep Freedom (14)

Jeep Freedom (16)

Renault Floride Leads the 2014 Sydney’s Mardi Gras Parade

Renault Megane CC (5)


2012-Renault-Megane-CC-Floride-2Renault Megane CC (2)Renault Megane CC (4)Renault Megane CC (1)


Renault Megane CC (6)Renault-Megane-CC-Floride-41Renault Megane CC (3)2012-Renault-Megane-CC-Floride-3



Many of you will have seen the Mardi Gras parade recently. I’d like to express a big thanks to Renault Australia and to Northshore Renault for registering a Megane Floride Convertible for the occasion. We handed the car back still glittering from the night. The car carried some of the very marchers from the first protest march in 1978. I was chuffed to see the Renault as the first vehicle in the parade.

The Floride CC was originally destined for Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore and Alex Greenwich MP but when Mardi Gras asked us if we minded if the Megane led the parade, we said yes.

Thankfully the rain held off and once again Fred Nile was denied yet another mass wet Tshirt contest. Oh how he doesn’t see the irony.

I wanted to make a few observations of the Floride as our drive was limited:

The Good: 5 things

· Attractive retro interior

· Cvt smooth

· Smooth easy to use folding metal top

· Super comfy ride

· Comfy seats

The not so good: 5 things

· 103kw engine needs more power for such a heavy car

· some of the plastics didn’t feel quite right

· Steering wheel doesn’t adjust out far enough

· When wet roof opens, water tips into the boot

· Metal roof takes most of the boot (common with all metal folding roofs)

Renault floride cc

*1,997 cc 2.0 litres 4 cyl petrol

*Emission control level EU5, 187 (g/km) carbon dioxide level

*6.5 star greenhouse rating, 6.5 star air polution rating and 3.5 star GVG rating

*Fuel consumption : 10.8 (l/100km) urban/city, 6.5 (l/100km) country/highway, 8.1 (l/100km) combined and 741 km vehicle range.
*Power: 103 kW , @ 6,000 rpm; 195 Nm @ 3,750 rpm primary.

Price $45,990

Yes, the Sexy, Retro is Here : All-New Ford Mustang

2014 Ford Mustang (10)2014 Ford Mustang (8)2014 Ford Mustang (2)2014 Ford Mustang (1)2014 Ford Mustang (11)2014 Ford Mustang (7)2014 Ford Mustang (6)


2014 Ford Mustang (9)

2014 Ford Mustang (3)2014 Ford Mustang (5)2014 Ford Mustang (4)

  • 5.0-litre V8 anchors the all-new Ford Mustang lineup with power and torque fit for the iconic brand
  • New 2.3-litre EcoBoost® brings turbocharging to Mustang with exceptional power and torque and projected class-leading fuel efficiency
  • Manual transmissions provide smoother shifting, automatic transmissions feature steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters

SYDNEY, Australia., Dec. 5, 2013 – The all-new Ford Mustang offers a choice of engines available with either manual or automatic transmissions that make it a great all-around performer no matter how you mix and match.

Less is more, EcoBoost comes to Mustang

The new 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine brings turbocharging to the Mustang powertrain lineup. Designed to meet the needs of drivers looking for outstanding performance and fuel efficiency, this EcoBoost engine has been developed specifically for Mustang. The intake manifold and turbocharger housing are optimized to provide better breathing and higher output in Mustang.

With a projected 227kW @ 5550 rpm (US spec) and 407Nm of torque(US spec), this EcoBoost engine fits the bill for a true Mustang powerplant.

“This EcoBoost engine delivers the healthy output that Mustang drivers expect regardless of the speed,” said Scott Makowksi, EcoBoost powertrain engineering manager. “This EcoBoost engine might be small in displacement, but it delivers where a Mustang driver expects it with a broad, flat torque curve and great driveability under any conditions.”

The newest member of Ford’s global family of EcoBoost engines, the 2.3-litre continues to take advantage of state-of-the-art technologies including direct fuel injection, twin independent variable camshaft timing and turbocharging to produce big-engine power and torque with improved fuel efficiency.

This is the first Ford engine to utilize a low-inertia twin-scroll turbocharger that provides quicker boost response while enabling lower emissions and improved efficiency. The cylinder head features an integrated exhaust manifold that separates the inner and outer pairs of cylinders into each inlet passage to the turbo.

Keeping the exhaust pulses separated from the next cylinder in the firing order eliminates mixing losses and maximizes pulse energy to the turbine wheel. The result is quicker torque delivery when the driver needs it for passing maneuvers and similar performance to a twin-turbocharger configuration.

The separated exhaust ports also enable the exhaust valves to stay open longer for reduced pumping losses that improve specific fuel consumption by about 1 percent.

With more than 227kW and 407Nm of torque pumped out from such a small engine, in a car where drivers are more inclined to use it, ensuring durability was critical. Enhancements to the Mustang EcoBoost engine to withstand the added stresses include:

  • Forged-steel crankshaft
  • Piston-cooling jets
  • Steel piston ring carriers
  • Premium bearing materials
  • Upgraded valve seat materials
  • Forged-steel connecting rods
  • High-pressure die-cast aluminum cylinder block with ladder-frame bearing caps
  • Deep-sump, die-cast aluminum oil pan

The beating heart of a pony

No Ford Mustang engine lineup would be complete without a great V8 engine at its core. The 5.0-litre V8 powers into a new generation with a host of upgrades that enable it to breathe better, especially at higher engine speeds. Many of these changes are derived from the lessons learned in developing the special edition 2013 Mustang Boss 302.

Getting air into the cylinders and exhaust out is the key to generating more power and torque from any engine, and that has been the focus of development on the V8, which features:

  • Larger intake valves
  • Larger exhaust valves
  • Revised intake camshafts
  • Revised exhaust camshafts
  • Stiffer valve springs – ensures that the valves close completely at high rpm
  • New cylinder-head casting – revised ports that provide a straighter path to the valves for less-restrictive intake and exhaust flow; combustion chamber modifications accommodate larger valves
  • Sinter forged connecting rods – lighter and more durable for high-rpm operation
  • Redesigned piston tops – deeper cutouts clear the new larger valves
  • Rebalanced forged crankshaft – supports higher-rpm operation

These upgrades are projected to generate more than 313kW @ 6500 rpm and 529Nm of torque (US spec).

A new intake manifold includes charge motion control valves to partially close off port flow at lower engine speeds. This increases the air charge tumble and swirl for improved air-fuel mixing. This results in better fuel economy, idle stability and lower emissions.

The variable camshaft timing on the intake side now has a greater range of adjustment available thanks to mid-lock phasers. This enables better optimized control of the valve timing over a broader range of engine speeds and loads for improved fuel economy and emissions


More than most drivers, Mustang owners like to take control and shift for themselves. Whether they select a fully manual gearbox or the updated automatic transmission, the experience will be better than in any previous pony.

The Getrag manual has a new shift linkage design for shorter throws and improved precision. The shift lever is now positioned closer to the driver and away from the cup-holders so the driver has a clear path for shifting.

Mustang blends outstanding all-around performance and everyday usability. Drivers who prefer to let the car handle the shifting during their daily work run, but still want to take control when the roads get twisty, will appreciate the new steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles with rev-matching downshifts that are now standard with the Select-Shift six-speed automatic transmission.

The automatic also features a redesigned case with cast-in ribs that help make it stiffer and reduce the weight. Internally clutches have been optimized and operating temperature has been increased to reduce friction. The output shaft is now supported by a ball-bearing that enables a top speed of 249 kph for Mustang GT.

With a choice of powertrains to match driving styles and lifestyles, the new Mustang has contemporary technology under the hood to match its modern design and remain quintessentially Mustang.

Cars Kill Cities (from progressive transport’s blog)


60 cars 60 bike riders 60 bus pax in munster

OK, I’m finally getting a chance to make another post.  I have temporarily relocated to Mountain View, CA and have been up to my eyeballs in work, both ‘real’ work and research work.  It’s nice to get back to this blog.

Cars do not belong in cities.  A standard American sedan can comfortably hold 4+ adults w/ luggage, can travel in excess of 100 miles per hour, and can travel 300+ miles at a time without stopping to refuel.  These are all great things if you are traveling long distances between cities.  If you are going by yourself to pickup your dry cleaning, then cars are insanely over-engineered for the task.  It’s like hammering in a nail with a diesel-powered pile driver.   To achieve all these feats (high capacity, high speed, and long range driving), cars must be large and powered by fossil fuels.  So when you get a few hundred (or thousand) cars squeezed onto narrow city streets, you are left with snarled traffic and stifling smog.

Even if you ignore the pollution, cars simply take up too much space.   Next time you are stuck in traffic behind what seems like a million cars, try to imagine if all those cars where replaced by pedestrians or bike riders.  Suddenly, the congestion is gone.

60 Cars, 60 Bike Riders, and 60 Bus Passengers in Munster, Germany.

But why am I complaining about traffic?  Traffic only affects those stuck in it, right?  Once all cars go electric, essentially eliminating inter-city air pollution, then there will be no more problems for pedestrians, right?  Wrong!!  Probably the biggest problem with cars in cities is that they require huge amounts of land for storage (a.k.a. parking).  Here is a photo of Midtown Atlanta between 5th street and 12th street.  This is one of the densest and most pedestrian-friendly ares in the entire state of Georgia.  The red blocks indicate parcels of land that are 100% dedicated to car storage.

red marks amount of land taken up by parking in atlanta

Red Squares Indicate Land that is 100% Dedicated to Parking in Midtown Atlanta

Dedicating all this land to car storage basically reduces the density by about half, doubles the average distance between locations, and reduces walkability.  Throw in the 16-lane interstate and the 45+ mph traffic on most of these streets, it becomes exceedingly hard to believe that this is one of the most walkable areas in the entire state.  Such is life for pedestrians in a car-dominated city.

It wasn’t always this way.  Atlanta, like all cities, used to be walkable and people actually lived IN the city instead of commuting 50 miles every day.  But as more people moved away from the city, the more Atlanta had to become like a suburb, being retrofitted to handle all the automobile infrastructure required by a million 40 hour-a-week temporary citizens.  The result of this retrofit is a wasteland of asphalt and isolated neighborhoods, a slow decimation that has rolled along since the innovation of the automobile.

Contrary to how it may sound, I do not want to rid the earth of cars.  I just want to use them smarter.  Do you really need a 2-ton vehicle to pickup your dry-cleaning?  Probably not.  Although I do see the appeal in loading a family of 6 into an SUV and traveling to Florida for vacation.  That is a totally reasonable use of an automobile.  What I really want  is clean, walkable, safe, affordable, and family-friendly cities and towns.  In a strange way, I kind of want to live in Mayberry.

In the next post, I promise to discuss a few ideas that may get us a little closer to this goal

CR-Z: A naughty, wicked, evil pleasure, and it’s a hybrid!


Isn’t she pretty? When I first saw the CRZ in concept drawings, I wondered if something that looked as jaw droppingly delicious would ever make it into production and if it did, would it be any good. The problem with most hybrids and electric cars is their ability induce most people to lapse into a coma with their mind-numbing dullness. I first saw the CRZ in the carpark under Honda’s Sydney office. I knew then there was something special waiting for me even though I wasn’t due to drive her for several weeks. Honda CR-Z Sport SIDE

Doesn’t this shot look like Sound of Music?

Honda CR-Z luxury centre consoleHonda CR-Z luxury dash and seatsHonda CR-Z luxury dash buttonsHonda CR-Z luxury rear and panoramic roofHonda CR-Z luxury rearHonda CR-Z luxury shallow bootHonda CR-Z luxury side viewHonda CR-Z luxury speedo and dashHonda CR-Z luxury speedo in normal modeHonda CR-Z luxury speedo in sports mode

Then the day arrived. It’s was with much anticipation that I clutched desperately at the keys which would either confirm or dash my hopes of a week spent in ecstasy. I usually spend a little time walking around the car when I’m getting into something brand new, but I couldn’t resist the urge to jump in and get going. Most hybrids have a CVT autos so we can deduce they have add something essential to the function of stop/start. Stop/start is the ability of a car to stop the engine when the vehicle comes to a halt, and start it in an instant when it’s time to move off again without the driver having a big panic attack. Imagine looking like a complete tit when your shiny new piece of technology utterly fails to proceed (a Rolls Royce term for breaking down) and you’re holding up the peak hour traffic. After a few kilometres I got used to the fact that there aren’t any gears and that’s because there are no gears. The poor little engine screams its head off when you sink your boot in when you do give it some wellie but she sure takes off. Most hybrids have a distinct lack of excitement in the performance department, CR-Z however has no such anxiety. That’s not to say that the 91kw output is in hot-hatch territory either. Our distinctly un-scientific 0-100 runs measured about 8.5 seconds which some will say is a trifle ordinary for a car meant to be a performance model. It feels faster when you’re behind the wheel and that great sporty engine note is drifting into the cabin.


There are definite signs of Honda-ness about the styling. The highset rear end of the wedge houses a split rear window with an annoying bar across the lower section. Because of the angle of the window this bar is exactly in the middle of your field of vision from the drivers’ seat. The Honda people assured me it wouldn’t be in my way, but it is. The odd thing is you get used to it. It doesn’t disappear by any means but it does seem much less intrusive after a few hundred k’s.

Of course if you don’t like wedge shaped cars then you’ll need to move on, there’ll be nothing for you to see here. If you like wedges then you’re in luck. The LED’s across the headlights look great in the day time but it’s the rear treatment I think is particularly successful. The band of glass between the lights gives a glimpse of the traffic coming up on you from behind but from the inside the rear view appears to be much smaller. Is it me, or does the rear vaguely resemble the other Hybrid from Honda, the Insight? Just in front of the shark fin the glass continues onto the panoramic roof . The roof doesn’t open fully although the internal sunshade can be retracted if you fancy a bit of a tan. On a hotter day the heat can be a bit relentless so for my money the sunshade stays firmly shut.

While giving a nod to the fab sporty Hondas of the past, the CRZ looks thoroughly cutting edge. It’s about as far from European same-ism dull-as-dishwater-family-hot-hatch as it’s possible to get. Sticking a leather seat and revved up engine in a family hatch does not make it interesting, it just makes it fast, the CR-Z is interesting from the word go.


The Luxury is chock-a-block full goodies. The cabin is snug to say the least and the back seat is only fit for extra David Jones bags, no humans need apply. We managed to squeeze one of the boys into the back seat but he immediately turned into Mrs Grundy and whinged solidly for 15 kilometres. Even a moderately tall driver leaves only enough room between the back and front seats for a magazine to be passed easily between. No, I think you’re better off thinking of CR-Z as a 2 seater with a nicely padded parcel shelf.

Honda decided a “teenaged gamer” inspired dashboard would give the hybrid a touch of youthful appeal, and it works spectacularly well. There are elements of fun such as the pale blue LED lit lines which run across the dials and can only be there for decoration and I love it for that. The lower left LCD can be scrolled through to display various modes of information but most mesmerising is the power usage diagram. It reminds me of the Starship Voyager showing ships’ functions. Most hybrids do it but CR-Z does it surrounded by enough LED’s to put Vegas to shame. It can be quite hypnotic and as fun to watch as the Satnav is. On the subject of Satnav, unlike many infotainment systems, the CRZ uses one which isn’t fully integrated into the cars’ systems. It includes a DVD player so much fun to be had for your passenger on a long trip. Sadly we don’t have street names mentioned in the voice instructions. Very few systems manage it and it’s something I would have thought would be ubiquitous by now. Rather cleverly, the system flashes a 3d graphic if on multi lane roads to ensure you take exactly the correct route. It’s a thoughtful touch which helps when you’re faced with 6 or 7 lanes in each direction as you are the north end of the Harbour bridge.

The infotainment module which includes bluetooth streaming is easy to come to terms with. I like a friendly system which doesn’t require an advanced degree in electronics to make simple functions happen. Pairing your phone is straight forward and using the Music Streaming is as simple as selecting your device. It will start playing wherever you left off and pause/fwd/rwd can be done from the screen but changing albums or playlists has to be done from the device itself. I also used the voice dial in the phone rather than trying to get the contact list stored on-board. This is something you could fiddle with given time but I simply don’t have the hutzpah to be bothered trying. The speedo seems to be in the form of an HUD (headsup display) in the centre dial right in front of the 3-colour lightshow, but I defy you to fathom how it works. Green for sensible driving, blue for normal driving and red for “I don’t give a rats about the environment” driving which in my opinion only further tempts you to leave it in sports mode.

On a non-technology note, the interior has real metal highlights. This makes a pleasant change from the plastic tat usually served up in sub-50k cars and most of the rubbish EuroTrash hatches. The leather is good quality and the front seats are well padded to ensure you don’t slide too violently in corners.

All in all, a comfy cabin if a little on the cosy side, with the dash well laid out in an xbox/WII/PSP kind of way. Honda’s quality and eye for detail proudly exhibited in a cutting edge show of thoroughly modern auto design.

I love it.

The Drive:

This is where most hybrids fall flat on their faces. They have the performance of a kitchen sponge and the handling of a blancmange. If we must have electric power steering it may as well be sharp, and the CR-Z is that. Parking speeds provide oodles of boost but on the road you just point your nose and the car follows. The ride is firm but not uncomfortably so and the handling is brilliant for a hybrid. It can get pernickety if you meet a bump in a tight corner though it never loses grip which is quite important in a car meant to be thrown into corners with gay abandon.

The combined power amounts to a modest 91KWs. Normally you don’t associate 91KWs with hot-hatch performance and our decidedly un-scientific 0-100 test indicated 8 secs to 100 kph which sounds leisurely but felt much quicker behind the wheel. We are told to expect 4.3 l/100k combined but as is usually the case with claimed fuel figures we were not able to get within cooee of it.

As per usual the Grand Pacific Drive test yielded a rewarding afternoons’ entertainment. Most folk will prefer the “sports” option, where everything comes to life just as much as being in “economy” causes more than a little gloom to descend on the proceedings. I confess most CVT’s leave much to be desired. Because there are no gears as such the poor engine screams its tits off but doesn’t change tone as the speed picks up. Imagine you’re at a set of lights and your engine has switched itself off, so there you are with only your inner thoughts for company. You will eventually wonder if the flame will re-light when the time comes but by the time your foot has moved from brake to accelerator the engine has leapt into life and bobs-your-uncle. You press your Nike into the carpet and the old girl shoots forward and you’re away. About 8 seconds later you’re at 100kph. The torque is helped no end with the assistance of the electric motor. Electric motors have an inherent torque which helps CR-Z get a wriggle-along.

I know it’s not rare these days but the inclusion of auto headlights and wipers is is welcome and for a change work extremely well. The other touch I loved was at my usual vantage point high above the boiling surf and jagged rocks, I was able to reach into the glove box and pull out a coke chilled by a sensibly placed air cond outlet. How cool is that? I’m sorry, it had to be said.

I’d describe the drive as stimulating and thoroughly enjoyable and even, quite unusual for a hybrid, engaging. I love it for all its quirks.


Hybrids have a well-deserved reputation as being dull dull dull. CR-Z is not that. It has killer looks, a great interior and drives like a proper sports car. If pressed you can shove an extra person in the rear for a quick airport run, something you can’t do in a two seat car. The handling is fab and the performance great especially for a hybrid. The Luxury is a trifle on the pricey side at around 44k but after a week in the saddle I was sad to see it go and I have never said that about a hybrid.

I loved it and would recommend it without so much as a skerrick of hesitation. We have the 6 speed manual in a few weeks to round off the duo. It’s the only manual hybrid on the market and if it’s only half as good as the CVT we are in for a treat.

Here are the full specs

$34,750 – $40, 790 PLUS GOV AND DEALER CHARGES