Lexus IS350: Can it Compete with a 3 Series or C Class?

2013 Lexus IS 350 F Sport

2013 Lexus IS 350 F Sport steering wheel2013 Lexus IS 350 F Sport

2013 Lexus IS 350 F Sport 2013 Lexus IS 350 F Sport

 

Yes Yes Yes oh YES: sexy looks, comfy seats, classy cabin

Oh dear me no: old engine, Bluetooth/usb issues, moody cursor controller

Gorgeous isn’t it? Some hate the lines swooping and dipping from front to back but I think they are stunning. To get the full picture you might consider other offering like BMW’s 3 series and Audi’s A3 (and A4 and A4 and A6 and A7) that are just a touch on the bland side. Although Mercedes Benz has released the delicious new C Class, I’m still leaning towards the Lexus. Let’s just say it is too close to call.

On a serious note: The wheelbase is 70mm longer, there are more airbags, the body is 10kg’s lighter and there is a new electric power steering system. These and other changes are meant to add a touch of value and luxury to the Lexus experience. You see, Lexus is meant to have a sense of occasion. They want you to feel that you’ve arrived. You never ever want to hear the phrase “so, why didn’t you buy a Merc?” or “gosh, and you didn’t want a BMW?” because that is the market shamelessly targeted, and why not. One important thing to note is that what the Germans make you pay extra for, comes as standard in Lexus.

Our 350 F Sport had oodles of extra stuff like: Keyless smart entry/start, radar cruise control, bi-xenon headlights, LED day lights, lane departure warning, proximity warning etc. The IS has an extra 85mm of legroom over the old model and feels more spacious in the rear than any of the Germans. And, any old auto maker can stick in a pair of heated front seats in the front, but Lexus has the chutzpah to pump cool air through them at the flick of a button.

The classy cabin has a club-like atmosphere. The leather is 2013 Lexus IS 350 F Sport front seatssofter than a baby’s bum and is wrapped around anything that doesn’t move. I suspect Lexus has pulled a fastie by using Pleather on some surfaces. Still, if you can’t tell, it doesn’t matter. The perforations which allow wafts of arctic air make the seats look even more luxurious.

The best part about buying a Japanese car is that it needs no conversion to be driven here.

Think about it: Every car made in Europe or the USA has the steering wheel on the left-hand side. That means all controls are in the wrong place. Most importantly the turn indicator is on the right-hand side, so you won’t be hurtling down the highway with wipers waving like demented Rabbitohs fans. For an extra 3 grand you can have your IS as a hybrid hybrid. There take THAT Germany!

Every IS has Satnav controlled by a Touch pad on the console. It is a massive jump from the fiddly toggle joy-stick it had previously but is still a bit of a faff, making easy tasks difficult. Because there are no pre-2013 Lexus IS 350 F Sport interiorselect radio station buttons, selecting a specific station can be a bit of a kafuffle because it’s is under a menu somewhere. If you get really desperate, there is the tuning knob. Unlike some of the Germans, you’re able to give the knob a good twist to get to a station. The other way is to select either Favourites or Full Station List from the menu, then use the steering wheel or console buttons to scroll. It is very chi chi and takes a bit of getting used to. I love the centre analogue clock which posh auto makers appear to be falling in love with all over again.

Sometimes doing something just because you can seems a frivolity too far. Such is the case with the instrument panel. The LCD screen displays whatever info the driver desires but the centre dial is a physical ring which moves when a button on the steering wheel is pressed. Why? It would be easier just to have one large LCD divided at the whim of the driver. Instead, pressing a button marked with little squares causes the ring to slide to one side allowing a larger single area of screen for various statistics. Personally, I think there is far too much info at a driver’s fingertips.

I like the cabin very much. It is classy and feels expensive.

The Drive:

The first few days was spent trying to make the USB/Bluetooth streaming play nice. To my chagrin I discovered that the IPhone 5 confuses the audio system no end, so the driver has to choose either USB or Bluetooth. He then has to disconnect which ever option he didn’t choose. This is a dreadful oversight considering the number of IPhone owners who might want a Lexus. If you don’t disconnect, which ever option you chose will eventually stop working.

We decided to take the Lexus to a family wedding. Gay boys and weddings can be hit and miss, and this one was quite remarkable, in one way or another. Jervis Bay is pretty enough, but country locations lack the convenience most of us are used to. A single pub and only one Coles and both close early. Mental note: If you’ve been to a wedding where you chose not to eat, have a few nibbles in the fridge for later, or drink incontinently.

Jervis Bay is a large inlet containing many smaller picturesque bays. It resembles the Greek Islands with pristine blue waters and blinding white beaches. Getting there via the Princes Highway (please note it is 2013 Lexus IS 350 F Sportprinces not Princess highway) can be a truly hairy experience. The trip out of Sydney is usually a slow one. The federal treasurer is quite wrong, poor people do drive, and they drive quite some distance. You wind you way through dreary suburb after dreary suburb, dreary traffic after dreary light. Once out of town, the trip turns from bumper-to-bumper, to post-card pretty. We relied on the Satnav once past the Gong, but she can be moody, especially if you fail to notice the “other” route options.

We were on the clock because we couldn’t leave Sydney until after an early morning commitment. Instead of taking the prettier Royal National Park route, we stuck to the dull-as-dish-water highway. We were mildly concerned at a truck sitting about a metre off the back bumper for 10 kilometres at 100KPH. Neither of us thought to video the incident but it highlights the offhand way truck drivers treat the roads and other drivers. Before you say it, yes we were overtaking slower drivers, and we were at the speed limit. We were perfectly entitled to be where we were but the truck driver obviously felt otherwise. We pulled into the left lane once past the caravans and P platers and watched the truck disappear into the distance at very much more than the legal limit. Perhaps he had somewhere to be.

The aging engine is very capable but not terrible economical. Rather than update the engine, Lexus added an 8 speed auto. As good as the auto is, Lexus should look at a smaller turbo’d unit because under the botnet feels a bit low-tech. The auto is superb but in normal mode wants to get to 8th as quickly as possible. It is annoying beyond belief but in sports mode your economy takes a nose-dive. You chose.

Once past the Gong, the lady in the dash board became insistent we turn off the aforementioned highway. Pretty though it was, the scenic route was much longer but gave the IS a decent workout.

The corners were a joy with the new power steering having much more feel than electric units previously. The adjustable settings make the throttle, transmission and suspension adjust to a more spirited trip. Again, anything other than normal makes the fuel use climb alarmingly.

We arrived in plenty of time. We got out of the car feeling fresh after a 2.5 hour trip. We parked at the kerbside angled parking spot and stood bereft at the sight of out 60’s motel staring back at us. What a 2013 Lexus IS 350 F Sportdepressing sight it was. For those who know Husskinson as the charming bayside town, there is a certain allure of beach and bay. However, that does not extend to the motel untouched since the Whitlam administration, and its sad exterior. Anyone hoping for more from the interior would have been even more depressed. It’s a note to always check ratings and reviews before booking. Doors slammed and feet thumped overhead making sleeping nothing more than a distant hope.

I awoke next morning to take a walk on the beach. As I walked along the cracked cement path I longer to get Lexus IS 350 Jervis Bay gaycarboysinto the Lexus and drive off. Then I remember hubby still asleep. I got to the front of the motel and stood gaping at what looked like a crime scene. The car had been taped off during in the night. Barriers had been erected as if the graves of a serial murderer had been found in the park near the beach. We were trapped in the middle of a surf event we hadn’t known about. After an interesting wedding the night before, I had had enough. I marched inside and roused hubby. Fifteen minutes later we had backed through the tape, negotiated the barriers and were heading away from that awful nightmare.

 

We discovered the gorgeous villages in and around Berry and stopped for a Maccers brekky but were both so tired, all we wanted was our own bed. Many of the roads were closed for a charity bike ride between Sydney and The Gong. It seemed much of New South Wales wanted to be active, and all we wanted was sleep.

The Lexus performed beautifully but we did not. The trip marred a brilliant drive

Conclusion:

I like the IS 350 very much. It handles like the sporty Euros whose sales it aims to take. The package is a good one with a long list of standard inclusions. The cabin is on a par with the Germans and the exterior is stunning. The question is would I buy one over a new C Class or 3 series. I could only answer by driving one after the other, then looking at the standard gear. For me, the badge is irrelevant because I love the IS 350 very much.

Would I buy one? Please see above.

Price IS 350 range $72,286 – $92,656

Engine econ fuel 3.5 V6, 233kw, 278Nm, 9.7l/100k, std unleaded

Trans 8 speed auto driving rear wheels

0-100 6.6secs (unofficial)

V6 Power: Lexus’ new RC 350 Coupe, and the V8 RC F

2014 Lexus RC 350 - F Sport (left), Sports Luxury (right) and Luxury

2014 Lexus RC 350 F Sport2014 Lexus RC 350 Luxury

2014 Lexus RC 350 F Sport ambient lighting2014 Lexus RC 350 F Sport ambient lighting

2014 Lexus RC 350 Sports Luxury interior2014 Lexus RC 350 Sports Luxury steering wheel

2014 Lexus RC 350 Sports Luxury rear seats folded2014 Lexus RC 350 Luxury

2014 Lexus RC 350 Luxury2014 Lexus RC 350 Luxury

 

Lexus has launched its all-new global coupe, the RC 350, the most emotive vehicle it has produced since the LFA supercar.
It is the latest vehicle to herald the reinvention of the Lexus brand ahead of its 25th anniversary.
As with other recent offerings from the marque, RC 350 takes Lexus in a new direction with its styling and drive experience, and is designed to engage with a younger audience.
RC 350 is not an adapted sedan; it has been designed as a coupe from the ground up.
It has an involving chassis to deliver driving pleasure, a high output drivetrain with smooth, responsive power delivery and a bold, show-stopping styling package.
2014 Lexus RC 350 Sports LuxuryRC 350 provides the segment with a new, compelling alternative.
Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley said the introduction of the RC 350 was a necessary step in lifting the brand’s ability to stir emotions.
“The RC 350 is a very important vehicle for us – it provides a clear aspirational target and injects a stronger connection to the brand, combining with its strong quality and innovation hallmarks,” Mr Hanley said.
“Our LFA supercar from 2010 previously embodied Lexus’ passion and acted as an emotional drawcard, and it was one of the most important models we’ve ever produced. However, it was off limits to most buyers.
“This new vehicle brings a portion of LFA’s excitement to a more attainable market segment, and it will boost the brand’s appeal even further,” he said.
Lexus RC 350 follows Lexus’ ‘Y’ strategy across its three model offerings: starting with Luxury followed by two arms with F Sport and Sports Luxury.
It offers a high level of standard equipment, beginning with the $66,000* Luxury grade.
F Sport ups the ante with the Lexus Dynamic Handling system which incorporates Variable Gear Ratio Steering and Dynamic Rear Steering, as well as unique interior and exterior treatments.
Sports Luxury adds Adaptive Variable Suspension, its own 19-inch alloy design, 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio, Shimamoku ornamentation, power front seats with driver memory and semi-aniline leather accented trim.
RC 350’s Lexus firsts include a significantly upgraded Blind Spot Monitor# which can detect vehicles within a range up to 60 metres.
It also introduces a unique paint application technique together with new custom colours – Infrared and Cobalt Mica (blue).

Dodge Journey: Who’s a big Boy then?

2014 dodge journey gaycarboys  (2)

2014 dodge journey gaycarboys  (4)

2014 dodge journey gaycarboys  (13)2014 dodge journey gaycarboys  (14)

2014 dodge journey gaycarboys  (15)2014 dodge journey gaycarboys  (16)

2014 dodge journey gaycarboys  (17)

2014 dodge journey gaycarboys  (1)2014 dodge journey gaycarboys  (3)

Yes Yes Yes oh YES: smooth Pentastar V6, rear seat DVD player, spacious, great value

Oh dear me no: moody 6 speed auto, lots of plastic inside, no driver’s footrest, not terrible economical

Is the Journey a cross-over or SUV, a 4WD or people mover, or more simply, a mum’s taxi? It drives the front wheels only, so it isn’t a four wheel drive and it doesn’t have a whole lot of ground clearance so it isn’t really a cross-over. As near as I can tell it just a very roomy station wagon. However, I like its chunky style and the “get out of my way” stance on the road. From the outside, the Sherman-tank has and air of command and looks as roomy as it feels inside.

First a brief history: After being founded in 1925 and trading with varied success for many decades, the Chrysler became bloated and old fashioned, like all American car makers. They found Americans preferred any cars other than those made in America. Things started going very badly pear-shaped and the good ship Chrysler, one of the Yankee big 3, sailed into uncharted and uncertain waters. In order to stem the flow of their financial haemorrhage, they “merged” with Daimler Benz AG in the late 90’s to form Daimler Chrysler AG. Poor Karl would be most upset. Time was called on this marriage after a brief 9 years. Chrysler was a single girl once again and this lasted for a few years before Fiat, the handsome Italian, came calling. They dated for a short while before announcing their engagement with the marriage being completed only weeks ago. She kept her maiden name as a thoroughly modern girl does and joined it with the handsome Italian to become Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, but their friends call them FCA, sort-of like Brangalina. I imagine this marriage will be long lasting because Italians go all “dolce-vita” when things get a bit eggy.

So, there you have it. The upshot is, that Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge voraciously hoovered up the technology-obsessed German minds that made Mercedes Benz a force to be reckoned with. The Fiat marriage makes FCA the 7th largest carmaker in the world and adds the economies of scale that massive cross platform development brings. There are the concomitant benefits in many extra models for little or no cost, and the vast distribution network which grew overnight when joined together. It’s a win/win no matter which way you look at it.

Jeep, particularly the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee, have been sprinkled with bit of Mercedes Benz magic. The same goes for Chrysler. Dodge however doesn’t seem to have had the same care lavished upon it. While it looks OK for such a large multi-use wagon, the interior feels a trifle downmarket compared to the Jeeps. Then I saw the price, $36,575 to $40,877 drive-away, and it all came into focus. That’s cheap for a huge chunk of well-appointed metal like this.

2014 dodge journey  interior gaycarboys  (6)2014 dodge journey dashboard gaycarboys  (7)

The interior looked like good value when you see a power-adjusted drivers’ seat, smart entry/start, U-connect infotainment system and a bunch of safety stuff once only found in cars costing 10 times as much. To top it all off you the cabin has lots and lots of cow to make it feel a little more sumptuous, however that doesn’t make the plastic components seem any better. If you feel so inclined you can opt for the full length sun roof and a 3rd row of seats for the in-laws. You can decide later whether or not you tell them the seats are actually there as they fold neatly away. I don’t imagine most of us would want our hunny next to us and the parents and in-laws taking up the rest of the cabin. A 10 minute trip would feel as if it took a lifetime to complete.

2014 dodge journey gaycarboys  (12)Around town, the Journey was easy to manoeuvre especially considering her voluptuous figure. You sit nice and high with oodles of adjustment at the touch of a button. The passenger misses out on the electric seat adjustment because where those motors would normally live, there is a huge under-seat storage bin instead. You can easily throw couple of six-packs in by lifting the seat squab. As if that wasn’t enough, the 2nd row of seats have an under-floor bin on either side. Dodge says each is large enough to store 2 six-packs with ice. You could keep six 6-packs on board for long trips which is2014 dodge journey rear entertainment and air con controls gaycarboys  (8) genius. You’d have enough cold water and coke for several days travel but you would be stopping every half an hour for loo breaks. Perhaps one bin could be used for tasty snacks instead.

In the city you tend to notice the 6 speed auto is a trifle moody. It is very moth most of the time but thumps into gears when she is having one of her hissy fits. She is frequently caught in the wrong gear, and when you put your hoof down, she slams into the right gear. On the highway no such problem exists. Because she is so spacious, you could take your man, plus a couple of chums, and enough luggage to fill a jumbo jet. The blokes in the back could watch a DVD without troubling anyone else. The entertainment system drops down from the roof with the sound coming through wireless headsets. Although the driver’s view through the rear-view mirror is obscured by the screen for the duration, it’s worth it to keep the whining from the back seats to a minimum.

2014 dodge journey gaycarboys  (9)2014 dodge journey gaycarboys  (10)

 

If you have the optional 3rd row of seats, you can access those by moving the second row of seats forward like you do the front seats in a coupe. It’s really quite clever. They are handy but are normally not for adults on long trips, unless the adults are of a compact stature.

2014 dodge journey gaycarboys  (11)

The excellent U-connect infotainment system allows you to pair your phone in a smidge under 10 seconds with no need for a pin if you confirm the connection on both the system and the phone. The big friendly 2014 dodge journey gaycarboys  (18)screen has an easy to use layout. I like things fast and simple with as few menus as possible. The sound from it is impressive considering the price. I didn’t fiddle with the rear DVD system as I doubt in my hands it would never get used. If it doesn’t fire up first go I tend to lose interest.

 

The fuel economy is not overly brilliant around town, but it is quiet and very well equipped.

My only real beef is absence of a footrest for the driver. Because you sit so high, you find yourself moving your foot close to the seat so you don’t unceremoniously slide forward. You get used to it but it seems such a silly omission.

Corners are comfy at speed as long as they don’t get to busy. There is a lot of bulk and it feels bulkier the tighter the corners get. She never feels like she is going to let go, at least not under normal circumstances, and the electronic nannies take care of misdemeanours that occur if you are caught out.

The aging Ford Territory and Toyota’s new Kluger are among the other 2 wheel drive offerings around the same price range. The Journey seems better equipped for the price.

Would I buy one? No, I’d prefer a Jeep even if it costs a few shekels more and hasn’t quite the same space.

Power/torque: 206kw/342Nm

Engine/Trans: 3.6L V6 Pentastar/6 speed auto

Price: SXT $$36,757, R/T $40,877

Kia’s King of the road: K900 gives big German Barges a run for their money

 

 

k900  banner

k900  front qtrk900  front

 

k900  driving

 

k900  gear selectork900  seat control

k900  rear seat controls

 

 

k900  rear

k900 sidek900  3 qtr

 

 

Modern and Elegant, the K900 Signals a New Era for Kia and Advances the Brand to New Levels of Sophistication

  • Highly intuitive and advanced technology combine with superb craftsmanship and materials to boldly announce Kia’s entry into the rear-drive premium-luxury sedan segment
  • All-new V8 flagship debuts with 420 horsepower1; V6 model produces 311 horsepower
  • Flagship Sedan Accompanied by Complimentary Scheduled Maintenance

IRVINE, Calif., February 11, 2014 – The all-new 2015 K900 is poised to challenge the rear-drive luxury sedan segment with an extensive list of standard equipment, world-class accommodations, premium driving dynamics and stunning design that will redefine consumer perception and expectations of the Kia brand.

k900  indicator mirror“This year marks Kia Motors’ 20th anniversary in the U.S. market, and the all-new K900 is a symbol of how far the brand has come and the next bold example of the challenger spirit that has benefitted Kia over two decades of growth and maturation,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of sales and marketing, KMA.  “Kia’s rise over the last five years has been fueled by a willingness to challenge the status quo with vehicles such as the Optima, Sorento and Cadenza, which have brought new and more affluent customers to our showrooms and dramatically raised the profile of the brand while maintaining our value proposition.  The K900 is the next logical progression for Kia. It demonstrates what Kia is capable of and will help redefine what the Kia brand stands for.”

Offered with a V6 or a V8 engine, the K900’s list of standard equipment will feature first-class accommodations and advanced technology.  The range-topping V8 equipped with the VIP Package will add additional luxury amenities including reclining outboard rear seats.  The K900 Premium V6 will launch at a later date with an available Luxury Package and Technology Package.  The all-new K900 V8 Luxury and V8 VIP are expected to go on sale during the first quarter of 2014 with a V8 Luxury model starting at $59,5002 excluding $900 in destination charges.  Pricing for the V6 model will be announced closer to launch.

The K900 comes with a three-year, 37,500-mile complimentary scheduled maintenance program at participating Kia dealerships.  Covering the first five service visits, the complimentary scheduled maintenance program is available to customers who either purchase or lease a new 2015 K900 and complete the maintenance work for their vehicle at participating Kia retailers. As an added benefit, K900 customers may enjoy the use of a Cadenza or K900 loan vehicle during their service visit3.  The no-cost scheduled maintenance program, which excludes wear and tear items such as tires and brakes, complements Kia’s industry leading 10-year/100,000 mile new-car warranty and Roadside Assistance program4.

k900  seatsElegant Exterior Design
The first glance of the K900 is designed to leave an indelible impression.  The long 119.9-inch wheelbase and wide 63.8-inch front and 64.1-inch rear track of the V8 translate to considerable road presence.  In profile, the swept rake of the greenhouse, subdued cut lines along the doors and high rear deck lid lend a muscular tension to the sheet metal.  The K900 V8’s standard 19-inch multi-spoke chrome wheels are shod with 245/45R-19 tires up front and 275/40R-19 tires at the rear. 

Kia’s signature grille resides nearly vertically in the smoothly contoured front fascia.  A chrome halo surrounds the dark chrome inner elements, which hints at the power and potential behind it.  Airflow-smoothing underbody panels mounted beneath the nose, engine bay and cabin help reduce drag and improve efficiency.

Standard on the V8 are adaptive LED headlights. With 16 LED bulbs providing powerful, natural light for k900  interiorenhanced luminosity, the beams, which adjust to follow the bends in the road, shimmer beneath crystal clear lenses that pull back deeply into the front fenders. Soft-glow LEDs frame the multi-faceted headlights.  Mounted low and at the far corners of the nose are sleek LED daytime running lamps and LED fog lights.  Similar use of LED technology can be found at the rear of the K900.  The trapezoid taillights offer defused LEDs for the brakes and bright LEDs for the turn signals.  A tasteful chrome bezel cuts high across the K900’s standard powered rear deck lid, adding elegance and lending visual width.  The standard power and heated rearview mirrors integrate auto dimming, LED turn signal indicators and Blind Spot Detection System (BSD)5 in a smooth, aerodynamic form that helps reduce wind noise.  The rear bumper is accented with fully integrated dual chrome-tipped exhaust ports that mimic the shape of the taillights.

Opulence Within
k900  rear seatsOpen the door to the all-new K900 and the same sense of elegant sophistication can be found within the luxuriously appointed cabin.  The three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel is substantial and features controls for audio, cruise control, entertainment, and vehicle information.  A heated wheel is available on the V6 and standard on the V8.  Standard high-grade leather is found throughout the cabin on the V6, which can also be optioned with soft Nappa leather in black or white with contrasting piping.  The V8 K900 arrives with standard Nappa leather.  Soft-hue LED interior illumination is standard across the K900 line.  Genuine walnut (with black Nappa leather) or poplar (with white Nappa leather) wood trim sweeps across the dash and door panels, beautifully complementing the richness of the interior and is available on the V6 and standard on the V8.  A 12-way adjustable driver’s seat, including power lumbar support, is standard on both the V6 Premium and V8 Luxury models, and a 16-way power adjusted driver’s seat features power headrests and cushion extender for added thigh support as part of the V6 Technology Package and the V8 VIP Package.  The front seats feature standard multi-stage heating and ventilation for individualized comfort in all climates.

k900  roofThe K900’s executive-class accommodations continue at the rear of the cabin. Standard features include multi-stage heating for the outboard seats.  Accessing a panel within the center armrest, rear-seat passengers also have the ability to control the vehicle’s ventilation system and may even fold the back cushion of the front passenger seat forward with the touch of a button.  K900 passengers may also operate the standard power rear window sunshade, and retractable rear side window sunshades are standard across all models.  A full-length panoramic roof with power retractable sunshade is standard on all V8 models.  Opting for the V8 VIP Package takes rear seat comfort to another level.  Both seats offer multi-stage heating and cooling, have the ability to independently recline and incorporate power lumbar support and lateral headrest adjustability.

Sophisticated, Intuitive Technology and Safety
Well known for providing intuitively placed controls and easily accessible technology, Kia continues this tried-and-true practice in the 2015 K900.  On the V8 VIP, front and center for the driver is the largest TFT instrument panel ever offered in a Kia vehicle.  At 12.3 inches, the full-color LCD screen is at once easy to read and easily configurable, featuring different themes depending on the drive mode selected. Also included with the V6 Technology Package and V8 VIP package is Kia’s first Head-Up Display (HUD).  The k900  consoleinnovative full-color, height-adjustable display “floats” just over the leading edge of the windshield providing the driver important information such as vehicle speed, turn-by-turn navigation, and alerts including the Blind Spot Detection System (BSD)5 and Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS)5.

First-class in-car entertainment comes standard in the form of a 900-watt Lexicon high-fidelity audio system, the most powerful and advanced system ever offered by Kia.  An audiophile’s dream come true, the Lexicon system features a trunk-mounted 12-channel digital amplifier, 17 speakers, including a center channel and an inverted subwoofer located in the rear parcel shelf.  The inverted design helps reduce encroachment into the trunk.  The speaker arrangement is custom designed for the interior of the K900 to optimize sound quality for every seat in the house.  Standard infotainment features include Bluetooth®6 hands free accessibility, HD RadioTM7, three-month complimentary SiriusXM satellite programming8 along with AUX and USB ports conveniently accessed through a soft-close genuine wood-covered panel in the center console.

The audio system, along with standard navigation and Kia’s exclusive UVO eServices9 telematics software, are all viewed through a 9.2-inch full-color screen that is accessed through a new standard Driver Information System (DIS) found in the center console.  Using a simple rotary knob surrounded by intuitively placed direct-access buttons, the DIS falls naturally to the driver’s right hand, allowing immediate access to the K900’s wide range of advanced systems, including entertainment and voice-command navigation functions.  All K900s come standard with a power-operated trunk lid. A slim credit-card-style smart-key entry system that welcomes the vehicle owner by automatically extending the outside rearview mirrors and activating perimeter lighting is standard on all but the V6 Premium.

Front and rear park-assist sensors and cameras are standard across the line for enhanced confidence and convenience5.  Auditory cues notify the driver as the vehicle approaches an object with the tones emanating from the speaker located closest to the object.  The parking display also indicates distance to the object via green, yellow and red lines, providing a visual aid to the driver.  The V8 comes standard with Kia’s first Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) system5, which provides an audible warning to the driver if oncoming cross traffic is detected from the rear while the K900 is in Reverse.  Working in conjunction with RCTA is Blind Spot Detection (BSD), which is standard on the V8 and available in the Technology Package on the V6.  Opting for the VIP Package nets the new Surround View Monitor system5, which utilizes four discreetly placed wide-angle mini-cameras at the front and rear and within the outside rear view mirrors.  The cameras provide a crystal-clear view of anything within several feet of the K900, providing potential safety benefits as well as easier maneuvering in tight spaces.

A Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS) is standard on the V6 Technology Package and both V8 models.  The camera-based LDWS monitors the K900’s position and provides an audible warning to the driver when the vehicle begins to drift too close to the lane markers.  First introduced on the Cadenza, the K900 is available with radar-based Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC)5. Included within the V6 Technology Package, and VIP Package on the V8, ASCC adjusts vehicle speed to help maintain a set distance to the vehicle in front and even has the ability to bring the K900 to a full stop.  For added convenience, the system will also automatically accelerate the vehicle once traffic allows.

The K900 introduces Kia’s first use of Advanced Vehicle Safety Management (AVSM)10. Integrating the control of various vehicle monitoring systems, including the Electronic Stability Control (ESC), seatbelt mechanisms and multiple warning systems, the AVSM can alert the driver to danger, pre-pressurize the braking system and activate the Pre-Safe Belt (PSB) system11, depending on the anticipated level of a collision risk.  If a potential collision is detected, AVSM warns the driver in three stages: an audible alarm, a visual warning on both the HUD and TFT LCD cluster and a cinching of the front seatbelts.

Flagship Performance
A flagship should be equipped with the proper running gear, and the all-new 2015 K900 lacks for nothing.  The K900 introduces the first V8 engine offered in a Kia sedan.  The Tau DOHC all-aluminum 32-valve five-liter engine produces 420 horsepower.  The engine is designed for efficiency with Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) and dual CVVT variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust.  A special tuned air intake improves airflow while a roller-type timing chain and Teflon® coated crank oil seal reduce frictional losses.  The fast-heating catalytic converter helps reduce emissions and is of a lightweight design.  The V8 is mated to a new smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission.  Shift mapping is variable depending on the driver-selectable settings of Eco, Normal and Sport, and each mode also adjusts the electric steering’s sensitivity.

The 3.8-liter Lamba V6 produces 311 horsepower, making it the most powerful V6 in the Kia lineup.  A three-step Variable Intake System (VIS) is designed to provide optimum low- and mid-range torque.  Similar to the V8, the Lamba V6 features GDI and CVVT technology to help improve efficiency.  A variable-load oil pump maintains optimum pressure at both low and high speeds.  Like its more powerful sibling, the V6 also is mated to the same eight-speed transmission with gear ratios tailored to best match the engine application.

An advanced five-link fully independent front and rear suspension soaks up road imperfections while also managing to communicate what’s happening at each corner.  Mounted on a sub-frame to isolate road shocks, the front suspension has coaxial coil-spring shock absorbers and a new friction bearing in the steering column to enhance straight-line stability and steering precision.  At the rear, the suspension sub-frame also houses the differential, and the coil springs and shock absorbers are separate units, allowing for negative camber for improved cornering ability.

The rear-drive layout of the K900 encourages spirited driving, and the solid chassis, consisting of 75 percent high and ultra-high tensile strength steel, utilizes advanced manufacturing methods that result in a body shell with exceptional strength and torsional rigidity.

The K900 V8 includes as standard equipment staggered P245/45P-19 front and P275/40R-19 rear tires on 19-inch chrome alloy wheels while the V6 rides on 18-inch alloy wheels shod with P245/50R-18 tires.  NVH is kept to a minimum with standard laminated front and side window glass and generous use of sound reducing materials.

The Infiniti Q50 is Now on Sale in Australia

Infiniti Q50 S Premium (1)\Infiniti Q50 S Premium (5)

Infiniti Q50 S Premium (4)

Infiniti Q50 S Premium (3)

Infiniti Q50 S Premium (2)

ALl models are crammed full of hi-tech goodies:-

  • All-new model sets a fresh direction in design, performance and technology for a new generation of Infiniti vehicles
  • Choice of two powertrains for Australia: 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder; 3.5-litre petrol/electric V6 performance hybrid
  • Offers world-first technologies designed to enhance the driving experience, including Direct Adaptive Steering™, Active Lane Control™, Predictive Forward Collision Warning and Back-up Collision Intervention
  • Infiniti InTuition™ – Fully customisable digital environment for linking various driver settings and driving characteristics to Intelligent Key
  • Infiniti InTouch™ next-gen smart connectivity features dual touch-screens and an array of advanced functions, features and custom apps

Melbourne – The Infiniti Q50 sedan is now on sale in Australia.

Building on Infiniti’s legendary sports sedan styling, performance and technology, the all-new 2014 Infiniti Q50 is designed to create a new, distinct level of customer engagement – propelling Infiniti in a bold new direction as a brand and as a provider of a unique luxury performance experience.

The Q50 is the first all-new Infiniti model to be released in Australia. Its arrival sees the brand enter Australia’s highly competitive and prestigious Medium >$60k segment (according to VFACTS) with a sedan model rich in style, technology, performance and value.

“The all-new Q50 sedan is a true driver’s car that embodies everything Infiniti stands for: seductive design, agile performance and high-level intuitive technology,” said Peter Jones, Managing Director and CEO of Infiniti Cars Australia. “This exceptional car pushes the boundaries of what defines a premium sports sedan and sets a new direction for Infiniti.”

Infiniti Q50: Range, prices, equipment
The Infiniti Q50 is available with a 2.2-litre diesel engine or a Direct Response 3.5-litre petrol/electric performance hybrid drivetrain. Both come fitted with a seven-speed automatic transmission. The Q50 2.2d uses a torque convertor connection to the transmission and has a rear-wheel-drive configuration. The Q50 Hybrid uses a dual-clutch connection and is available in both rear-wheel drive (in S trim) and Intelligent All-Wheel Drive (S Premium).
There are three trim levels for the diesel-powered Q50 2.2d – GT, S and S Premium – with the Q50 Hybrid available in two grades: S (rear-wheel drive) and S Premium (Intelligent All-Wheel Drive).

As expected, every Q50 model comes with a generous list of standard equipment. In addition there is an optional Enhancement pack for the Q50 2.2d designed to give the buyer as much flexibility and choice as possible. For full details of all standard and optional equipment, please refer to the separate information sheets in this press kit. The following lists highlight some of the standard inclusions in each Q50 model grade:

The entry-level Q50 GT comes comprehensively equipped and includes the following:

  • 17-inch 5 twin-spoke light alloy wheels
  • Infiniti InTouch™ dual touch-screen displays
  • Infiniti InTouch™ in-car navigation system with Traffic Messaging Channel (TMC)
  • LED headlights with integrated Daytime Running Lights
  • Bluetooth3 audio streaming and mobile connectivity
  • Advanced Climate Control System (ACCS) with auto-recirculation
  • Infiniti Drive Mode selector (Standard, Snow, Sport, Personal)
  • Active Noise Control (ANC)
  • Digital radio (DAB+)
  • Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
  • Leather-faced seating upholstery with electric front seat adjustment
  • Intelligent Key (I-Key) with smart access and enhanced memory

The Q50 S adds to this extensive list of standard features:

  • 19-inch triple 5-spoke light alloy wheels (Q50 3.5h Hybrid)
  • 18-inch 7 twin-spoke light alloy wheels (Q50 2.2d)
  • Direct-Adaptive Steering (DAS) with Active Lane Control
  • Sport-tuned suspension (Q50 Hybrid only)
  • Opposed-piston sport brakes and regenerative braking system (Q50 Hybrid only)
  • Magnesium-modified paddle shifters
  • Studio on Wheels® by BOSE®: 14-speaker premium audio system with Advanced Staging Technology®
  • Electric sunroof with sliding sunshade
  • Sports front bumper

The high-grade Q50 S Premium adds even more equipment, including:

  • Intelligent All-Wheel Drive (AWD) (Q50 Hybrid only)
  • 19-inch triple 5-spoke light alloy wheels (Q50 2.2d)
  • Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC) and Distance Control Assist (DCA)
  • Forward Collision Avoidance (FCA), Predictive Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Forward Emergency Braking
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Departure Prevention (LDP)
  • Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and Blind Spot Intervention (BSI)
  • Back-up Collision Intervention (BCI)
  • Around View Monitor (AVM) with Moving Object Detection
  • Active Front-lighting System (AFS) with High Beam Assist

Finishing the look of the Q50 is the availability of eight exterior paint finishes – Black Obsidian, Moonlight White, Liquid Platinum, Graphite Shadow, Hagane Blue, Chestnut Bronze, Venetian Ruby and Malbec Black. All finishes feature Infiniti’s innovative Scratch Shield self-healing paint technology.

Q50 design: an inheritance of riches
In a departure from the familiar design themes of the segment, the Infiniti Q50 stands out for being something different, its high tension surfaces and powerfully flowing lines finding their inspiration in natural forms rather than geometry. As a result, the Q50 is a far more emotional design than its competitors – a fresh face whose self-confidence is summed up by its striking new headlight signature and distinctive crescent-cut C-pillar.

The Q50 embodies in a spacious four-door sedan body many of the design cues of Infiniti’s trilogy of exceptional concept cars – Essence, Etherea and Emerg-E – that over the past four years have helped define the brand’s uniquely seductive and individual appeal.

“The Q50 has Infiniti design DNA running through it,” says Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti Executive Design Director. “A concept car to us is far more than a motor show indulgence. It is the canvas on which we paint our production car dreams. Now with the Q50 we see those dreams become real.”

But it is not only the Q50’s exterior design that has been influenced by the Infiniti concept car trilogy – the interior too has benefited from designs and materials from Essence, Etherea and Emerg-E.

“Concept cars make the ideal test bed for the craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology that no Infiniti would be complete without,” added Alfonso Albaisa. “The materials and designs explored in the concept cars have had a big impact on the Q50, and are a large part of the reason the interior is so special.”

Painstaking attention to detail and a high-quality finish are further examples of the influence the concept trilogy have wrought on the Q50. For example, the Q50’s body brings not just a flowing new elegance to the class but construction techniques so precise that panel fit is among the best available.

The Q50’s shape is aerodynamic as well as seductive, with the zero lift concept body achieving an excellent Cd of 0.26 in GT specification.

From concept to reality: the genesis of Q50’s design

Headlights (Etherea, 2011) The Q50’s distinctive headlights have changed little since they first previewed on Etherea. With that concept as with the Q50, the lights are very much the car’s “eyes”. Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti Executive Design Director, says: “The lights allow us to define the Infiniti face more clearly than ever, providing a unique visual signature, day or night.” The light clusters incorporate daytime running lights formed out of a crescent of LEDs, a motif mirrored at the back where the lights are tautly stretched around the car in a way reminiscent of Essence.

Crescent-cut C-pillar (Essence, 2009) One of Essence’s most distinctive design cues, the crescent-cut C-pillar is used on the Q50 in its purest and most powerful form yet, injecting dynamism into the profile and ensuring the mid-size sedan will always be instantly recognisable.

Three-dimensional double-arch grille (Essence 2009 and Emerg-E, 2012) The Infiniti double-arch grille – the top span representing the profile of a typical Japanese bridge, the lower span its reflection in the water – has long been an important part of the Infiniti “face”. For the Q50, this grille takes on a more three-dimensional look with more gravity and depth following the lead set by the design of the Essence concept with its distinctive, highly crafted steel mesh finish.

Deep body section (Essence, 2009) With its deep and steep body section the new Infiniti Q50 has some of the most complex surfaces of any car in its class. It is the result of inheriting design influences successfully advanced with Essence, whose wave-like body sections make the big luxury coupe’s styling so dramatically advanced and effective. For the Q50 the results are just as effective, with the car benefiting from particularly powerful shoulders.

Asymmetrical cabin layout (Essence, 2009, and Emerg-E, 2012) A driver focus in the cabin is an important part of any Infiniti – as is a welcoming and relaxing front passenger compartment. Essence, and later Emerg-E, managed to achieve both in the same car with a novel Yin-Yang approach, and it is this which the Infiniti Q50 brings into the showroom in production form. The result is an asymmetrical front compartment of two distinct areas, delineated by a line that curves elegantly across the centre console.

Interior finishes (Essence, Etherea and Emerg-E) Modern interpretations of Japan’s rich arts and crafts tradition are part of the appeal of Infiniti concept cars, and many have had a direct influence on the Q50, such as the aluminium inlays called Kacchu whose textures are based on intricate woven patterns.

Powerful looks, powerful platform

The powerful looks are based on an equally powerful platform, a bespoke version of Infiniti’s latest chassis technology. Double wishbone front suspension and multilink rear (with Dual Flow Path shock absorbers) guarantee handling poise and precision whilst improving ride comfort. Handling is further enhanced by a stiffer body structure and, thanks to many aluminium components, lower body weight.

Sport versions, with their re-profiled front bumper section and even sharper looks, get sports-tuned suspension as well as upgraded brake rotors with 4-piston front calipers and 2-piston rear calipers. All Q50s have been designed to work with latest-generation run-flat tyres for the convenience and safety of owners.

Interior design: technology in perfect harmony
The Q50’s interior has an emphasis on natural elegance, spacious rear passenger accommodation and the signature craftsmanship, attention to detail and premium materials that set every Infiniti apart. In the design, there is a clear focus on the person behind the wheel, reinforcing the driving appeal at the heart of every Infiniti.

A dual cockpit feel is achieved by a dashboard that flows around in a subtle “double wave” formation and by an asymmetrical centre section. With soft curves, contrasting surfaces and a precision finish, the design is both welcoming and also driver-centric. All key controls are located to be operated so the driver does not need to change driving posture.

Enhancing the in-command feeling is a control layout that majors on ergonomic human/machine interface. This is in part thanks to the Q50 being one of the first cars to feature dual touch-screens, leading to a significant de-cluttering of the dashboard.

With a generous wheelbase of 2850mm, the Q50 has plenty of room for adult passengers front and back; rear kneeroom is among the best in class. Particular attention has been paid to easy entry and egress. The rear seat is split 60/40 (not Hybrid) for when extra luggage capacity is needed, and there is access to the boot via the centre armrest (not Hybrid) so that long objects, such as skis, can be carried along with rear seat passengers.

Seats that are out of this world
Infiniti engineers relied on NASA space research in order to solve an age-old problem: how do you design a seat that remains fatigue-free on the longest of journeys?

Infiniti found the secret lay in replicating the neutral posture the body adopts in a zero gravity environment. NASA research shows this posture imposes the least amount of loads on the body, allowing the same position to be maintained without discomfort for long periods.

Through a joint research program with Yamazaki Laboratory at Keio University, using a seat simulator and a musculo-skeletal model for seating analysis, Infiniti engineers came up with a new design and structure for the “spinal support” front seats fitted in the Q50.

Offering continuous support for the spine from the pelvis to the chest, the seats have been shown in tests to improve a person’s circulation by 15 per cent, allowing many more people to be able to travel long distances in the Q50 without discomfort.

Infiniti Q50 Direct Response Hybrid
The Q50 Hybrid’s homologated figures confirm what Infiniti has long believed – that for the ultimate ‘no compromise’ approach to both performance and efficiency in a petrol engine nothing beats hybrid power. At least hybrid power when it comes in the unique form of Infiniti’s Hybrid technology.

Direct Response technology – a powerful electric helping-hand applying extra torque to the powertrain exactly when it is needed – guarantees the Q50 Hybrid a place in the top echelons of European high performance sports sedans. From a standing start 0-100km/h takes just 5.1 seconds (rear-wheel drive), faster even than the Infiniti Q70 Hybrid.

The 268kW Q50 Hybrid shares the same intelligent dual-clutch Direct Response system and seven-speed automatic transmission as the Infiniti Q70 Hybrid, but with certain changes to improve performance, extend its electric-only range and allow for an outstanding cargo capacity for a hybrid in this class. The Adaptive Shift Control automatic transmission features Downshift Rev Matching and manual shift mode via steering column-mounted magnesium paddle shifters.

Outstanding performance is matched by a remarkable level of efficiency – with fuel consumption on the combined cycle of 6.8 l/100km (RWD) and CO2 emissions of 159g/km (RWD)1. The Q50 Hybrid is available in both rear and all-wheel drive forms in Australia.

True to Infiniti form, the Q50 Hybrid retains the linear response and sporting sound central to a performance car, convincingly delivered by Infiniti’s famed 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with its distinctive exhaust bark, wide rev range and peak outputs of 225kW of power and 350Nm of torque (98RON petrol).

Partnering this V6 engine in the Q50 Hybrid is a high-efficiency 50kW/290Nm electric motor.

Direct Response technology means the Q50 Hybrid can combine its exceptional pace and sporting prowess with an extended zero emissions mode at low speeds, making it both the perfect open roads tourer and silent, electrically-powered, zero-tailpipe emissions city commuter. The Q50 Hybrid is capable of cruising at speeds up to 100km/h in electric mode.

Impressively, the Infiniti engineers have been able to package the hybrid control hardware and new-for-the-Q50 lithium-ion battery pack in an innovative new way in the rear of the car, allowing for a generous 400 litres of boot capacity, whilst maintaining optimum weight distribution for enhanced driving dynamics.

Engine output for the Infiniti Q50 Hybrid is summarised in the table below. Model Petrol Engine Electric Motor Total Power Total Torque

Model

Petrol Engine

Electric Motor

Total Power

Total Torque

Q50 Hybrid RWD

3.5l V6, 225kW, 350Nm

50kW,290Nm

268kW

546Nm

Q50 Hybrid AWD

3.5l V6, 225kW, 350Nm

50kW,290Nm

268kW

546Nm

Fuel consumption and performance figures for the Infiniti Q50 Hybrid are summarised in the table below.

Model

Fuel Cons.1

CO2 Output1

0-100km/h

Emissions Class

Q50 Hybrid RWD

6.8l/100km

159g/km

5.1 seconds

EU5

Q50 Hybrid AWD

7.2l/100km

169g/km

5.4 seconds

EU5

NOTE: Performance and fuel consumption figures shown for Q50 Hybrid achieved with 98RON petrol.

Infiniti’s first four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine
The Infiniti Q50 is the first Infiniti to benefit from the brand’s collaboration agreement with German auto-maker Daimler AG. The 2.2-litre direct-injection four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine has been modified by the Infiniti engineering teams to ensure engine response is in line with Infiniti’s emphasis on performance.

Unique Infiniti engine parts include air inlet, intercooler, low-pressure fuel system and after treatment system, oil pan, engine mounts, and engine control unit (ECU). Visible engine items are in addition unique to Infiniti. The block, turbocharger, exhaust and injection system are common with the Mercedes-Benz version.
The engine offers highly competitive power (125kW) and torque (400Nm) whilst retaining a low CO2 output (138g/km1) and fuel consumption (5.2-litres per 100km1). Like the engine, the standard-fitment seven-speed automatic transmission has been tailored to Infiniti’s specific requirements.

For the first time in an Infiniti vehicle, start-stop engine technology is available. The high-efficiency turbo-diesel engine in the Q50 2.2d cleverly switches itself off when the car is brought to a stop in traffic and re-starts quickly the moment the driver begins to lift their foot from the brake pedal. The system contributes to the Q50 2.2d’s impressively low fuel consumption rate. This start-stop function is not offered in the Q50 3.5h Hybrid as the Infiniti Direct Response Hybrid system manages the operation of the 3.5-litre V6 in low-speed traffic, deciding when to use power from the internal combustion (IC) engine and when to use the electric motor.

Engine output for the Infiniti Q50 2.2d is summarised in the table below. Model Turbo-diesel Engine Power Torque

Model

Turbo-diesel Engine

Power

Torque

Q50 2.2d

2.2l, 4-cylinder

125kW

400Nm

Fuel consumption and performance figures for the Infiniti Q50 2.2d are summarised in the table below.

Model

Fuel Cons.1

CO2 Output1

0-100km/h

Emissions Class

Q50 2.2d

5.2l/100km

138g/km

8.5 seconds

EU5

World’s first steer-by-wire production car
Infiniti is bringing steering into the 21st century with world-first electronic steer-by-wire technology. Having its debut on certain models in the Q50 range, Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) is a key ingredient in making the Q50 one of the most dynamic sports sedans on the market as well as offering the driver the ability to customise steering feel for the first time in this class.

Light for manoeuvring, firmer and more agile for sporty driving and challenging roads, Direct Adaptive Steering makes all options available via simple touch-screen controls. Uniquely in the class, both steering weight and response (gearing) can be tailored, with all settings stored for each driver in the Q50’s sophisticated memory.

Direct Adaptive Steering works by electronically transferring the driver’s input to the front wheels where a high-response actuator drives the steering rack. By eliminating the mechanical losses that can slow the responses in conventional systems, steering response is faster and vibration at the steering wheel non-existent. All this is achieved with retention of feedback from the road that is central to every Infiniti’s performance feel.

Steering is adjusted on a touch screen as part of the Infiniti Drive Mode Selector. Depending on the model, there are up to four pre-set modes plus a personal setting that allows the driver to mix and match effort and response to suit individual driving style and type of road.

As a result and in defiance of conventional car steering compromises, the Infiniti Q50 with Direct Adaptive Steering is as stable and stress-free to steer on a motorway as it is reassuring and rewarding to handle on a mountain pass – or as light and easy to manoeuvre in a crowded car park.

Direct Adaptive Steering comes with triple-mode back-up (three separate electronic control units), 400,000km of real-world test distance behind it and the failsafe of a mechanical steering linkage. In normal use a clutch disengages this mechanical link so it cannot corrupt the steering response.

Direct Adaptive Steering is standard on S and S Premium model grades.

Active Lane Control steers a safer path
A further benefit of Direct Adaptive Steering is that it comes with Infiniti’s latest driving technology, Active Lane Control (ALC). ALC is the most effective and sophisticated lane-keeping system yet developed because it is the only one to use the steering to ensure the car stays between lane markings. Other systems rely on the vehicle’s Electronic Stability Program (ESP) to apply braking force on one side of the car in order to alter its course.

ALC uses a camera to detect the lane the vehicle is travelling in. The information is processed and relayed to the steering control unit which instructs the steering actuator to make any necessary corrections. The effect has been described as the car feeling “magnetised” to its lane.

Apart from the obvious safety benefits in the mitigation of unintended lane departure, ALC adds to the Q50’s dynamic appeal with its firm on-centre steering feel and enhanced feeling of control. It has a positive influence too in making driving less tiring by reducing the need for continuous steering input owing to crosswinds or minor camber changes in the road surface.

Like all Infiniti technologies, ALC and DAS are designed to support the driver rather than insulate them. The driver always has the choice of how the car is set up – ALC intervention can be mild or full depending on preference.

Safety Shield: more complete than ever
The Q50’s dynamic envelope is completed by the availability of more high-tech systems under the Safety Shield umbrella, all of them designed to enhance the drive and assist in preventing accidents. The newest, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, is another world-first technology: it doesn’t just react to the speed/distance of the car in front, but also the car in front of that.

Other safety-related systems available on the Q50 include:

  • Forward Emergency Braking – The forward emergency braking system can assist the driver when there is a risk of a forward collision with the vehicle ahead in the travelling lane.
  • Active Trace Control – This system senses driving based on the driver’s steering and acceleration/braking patterns, and controls brake pressure at individual wheels to help smooth vehicle response.
  • Back-up Collision Intervention™ (BCI) – The Back-up Collision Intervention system can help alert the driver of an approaching vehicle or objects behind the vehicle when the driver is backing out of a parking space. If the vehicle determines an impact is imminent it can apply the brakes to bring the vehicle to a stop. It functions in reverse below approximately 8 km/h.
  • Active Front Lighting System (AFS) – Headlights that change direction based on steering input to improve visibility when cornering at night.
  • High Beam Assist – High Beam Assist will operate when the vehicle is driven at speeds of 35 km/h and above. If an oncoming vehicle or leading vehicle appears in front of the Q50 when the headlight high beam is on, the headlight will be switched to the low beam automatically.
  • Around View Monitor (AVM) – The Around View Monitor system shows the position of the vehicle on the upper screen from multiple angles using cameras at the front, rear and side of the vehicle to assist with low speed manoeuvring of the vehicle.
  • Intelligent Cruise Control with Full Speed Range – The Intelligent Cruise Control system maintains a selected distance from the vehicle in front up to the set speed.
  • Distance Control Assist (DCA) – The Distance Control Assist system brakes and moves the accelerator pedal upward according to the distance from and the relative speed of the vehicle ahead to help assist the driver to maintain a following distance.
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Departure Prevention (LDP) – warns the driver that the vehicle is beginning to leave the driving lane and can help assist the driver to return the vehicle to the centre direction of the traveling lane.
  • Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and Blind Spot Intervention (BSI) – The Blind Spot Warning and Blind Spot Intervention systems can help alert the driver of other vehicles in adjacent lanes when changing lanes, and if active help return the vehicle into the lane of travel to reduce the chance of collision.

Infiniti Q50: The car with App appeal
Offering all that people like best about smartphones and tablet computers, the Infiniti Q50 takes staying in touch while on the move to a new level of convenience. This new-generation system offers a number of apps and delivers seamless connectivity with a user interface that any tablet owner will find second nature to master. Called Infiniti InTouch™ the core system is standard on every Q50. In essence, the car becomes an extension of the driver’s smartphone.

Infiniti InTouch™ is as intuitive to use as an iPad and as functional as the latest smartphone, seamlessly integrating on-board hardware with off-board services using the driver’s smartphone as the portal. Options for operating the system include not just the easy-to-use lower touch-screen but also enhanced voice recognition, a central console commander, and steering wheel switches.

From March, Facebook and Google can be loaded into InTouch™. Infiniti has set up its own app store, App Garage, where Q50 owners can choose from a wide variety of applications, with more to become available over time. Every aspect of the system is upgradeable, so the Q50 owner will be able to benefit from the latest software and apps.

Key aspects of Infiniti InTouch™ (depending on market) include:

  • For iPhone and Android platforms, with more to be added
  • Email and calendar capabilities
  • Automatic synchronization with Google calendar
  • Upgradeable with software updates
  • Dual touch-screens with finger-flick zoom/scroll
  • Fully customisable appearance and layout
  • Designed to work with Facebook and Google; more apps expected to be available in time

Central to InTouch™ is the lower touch-screen on the centre console, leading to a significant de-cluttering of dashboard buttons. Importantly, however, physical buttons for basic climate control and radio functions are retained.

The top touch-screen is 8-inches and shows a navigation map. The bottom 7-inch touch-screen displays the preloaded apps (some available from March 2014): Inbox, Calendar, Clock, Compass, Driving Performance (for dynamic analyses that include g-force and fuel flow) and Maintenance Note (everything from tyre pressures to the car’s complete service history).

The lower, 7-inch touch-screen also displays controls for the car’s ancillary systems, such as climate control and music. Infiniti is ensuring that only apps appropriate for in-vehicle use are able to be loaded. No advertising is permitted.

The apps are optimised to work inside a car with the emphasis on a clear and simple user interface, so they may display differently in the car and not all functions from the phone app may be available. To get started all a new Q50 owner has to do is download the free Infiniti InTouch™ companion app to synchronise Q50 with their smartphone. Once paired, the owner can then select more apps.

There will be no charges for apps or accessing content (over and above normal phone service provider charges) for the first owner in the first year. After that subscription charges may apply depending on apps loaded and content accessed.

The system has been designed to be highly customisable with the screens’ layout, appearance, and content all easily changeable so each Q50 becomes unique to its owner.

Both screens respond to finger-flicks to zoom in or scroll through pages, while InTouch™ boasts the very latest voice recognition software ensuring highly accurate results. InTouch™ recognises full-sentence voice commands, negating the need to enter into a tedious question and answer session.

Infiniti InTouch™ also keeps Q50 drivers connected. For example, drivers can contact a friend on Facebook with a message to meet up. The car will navigate the driver to their location. Also, drivers who are in the office getting a route for a complicated new journey can use Google Maps and select the option “Send to car” to ensure that route will be loaded in the car’s navigation system, waiting for them when they are ready to set off.

The car that never forgets
The Infiniti Q50 is a car with a great memory for names. And faces, and seat positions, and cabin temperatures and routes home, even whether the driver prefers an ABC or a QWERTY keyboard. Depending on model, Infiniti’s all-new premium sedan will not just welcome the driver aboard by name; it can even display photographs of friends and family on one of the car’s dual touch-screens.

The Infiniti Q50 takes the idea of a car with a memory to a whole new level in the premium mid-sized class. Thanks to 96 selectable settings across 10 functions, possible permutations for personalisation run into the millions, syncing car and driver far more comprehensively than any rival can manage.

The Infiniti Q50 can remember the personal settings for up to four people – three registered users and one guest – covering the areas of life on board, dynamic performance and safety technology.

The concept behind this bespoke digital solution is called Infiniti InTuition. And it is just as simple to use as it sounds, with the car doing all the hard work and the few controls that do exist being entirely intuitive to use.

Central to Infiniti InTuition is Infiniti’s advanced Intelligent Key (i-Key). Each of the two i-Keys supplied with every Q50 stores personal settings for two different drivers. The information is saved automatically and can easily be updated, or deleted, on the touch screens. Tailoring the personal profiles extends to a facility to load up to 16 photographs.

Infiniti Drive Mode Selector
The new Infiniti Drive Mode Selector is fitted to every Q50 model. Operated by a switch on the centre console, the selector offers performance choices that include Standard, Sport, Eco (not diesel), Snow and Personal.

Personal is the custom setting where a driver can choose his or her ideal performance feel, not just engine and transmission changes but also steering characteristics, even on Q50 models not equipped with Infiniti’s steer-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering system. Non-DAS-equipped Q50 models use Infiniti’s Hydraulic-Electric Power Steering (HEPS) system and drivers can select either a “standard” or “heavy” steering characteristic using the Drive Mode Selector.

The Infiniti Q50 can also remember each driver’s preferences for the host of advanced technologies working away behind the scenes to enhance the drive and keep the car out of trouble. Where these systems offer control choices – ranging, for example, from a simple on/off to the level of electronic intervention required – the settings are stored and automatically engaged whenever that driver is behind the wheel. This guarantees that, whoever is driving, the car’s electronic systems – many of which form part of the Q50’s innovative Safety Shield – will always be perfectly set for that driver without the need to press buttons or scroll through menus.

Life on board offers even more personalisation options – all of which the Q50 will recognise as that driver every time he or she gets behind the wheel. Depending on model, favoured driving position (seats, steering column, exterior mirrors), climate control, navigation routes and options, and preferences for the Infiniti InTouch™ communication, entertainment and information functions can all be set and stored. Screen displays, language, colours, photographs and shortcuts can be chosen, too – the system will even remember whether the driver prefers Fahrenheit or Celsius and an analogue or digital clock.

Q50 and BOSE® put you in the best seats in the house
Infiniti cars with Bose® surround sound are renowned for their ability to recreate the acoustics of a live concert. Thanks to a world-first development by Bose, the new Infiniti Q50 takes the music to another level – by ensuring listeners don’t just feel to be part of the performance, but to be enjoying it from the best seats in the house.

The “front-row effect” is the result of Advanced Staging Technology®, a key component of the Q50’s custom-designed 14-speaker Bose Sound System (where fitted).

Advanced Staging Technology works by separating components of the music and distributing them across the Q50’s array of hi-tech speakers in a way that most faithfully resembles the staging of the actual performance. In technical terms, an advanced signal processing algorithm directs the musical components to their ideal locations on the “soundstage”. This is achieved via a dedicated channel of custom equalization for each of the high performance speakers.

The result is each instrument is separated with a precision never before achieved; creating the impression the orchestra – or band – is playing on a much wider stage. Rihanna, the Rolling Stones or Rachmaninov all sound just as fine.

Advanced Staging Technology® is just one element of the Q50’s Bose sound system, the latest joint project between Infiniti and Bose in a collaboration that dates back to 1989.

Other key features include

  • 14 high performance speakers – a “five across” system of tweeters and Twiddlers on the dashboard and front doors, woofers and Twiddlers in the front doors, two wide-range speakers and two woofers in the rear doors and rear shelf and a 25.5cm subwoofer in the rear shelf.
  • Bose Centerpoint® 2 Surround Technology – this enables listeners to enjoy a surround sound experience from almost any stereo source, including radio, CDs and MP3s.
  • Bose AudioPilot® 2 Noise Compensation Technology – using a strategically placed microphone in the vehicle cabin, AudioPilot constantly monitors and adjusts music levels to compensate for vehicle speed and the effects of unwanted external sounds.
  • Bose® Active Sound Creation – utilises the sound system’s speakers and amplifier to reduce unwanted engine and powertrain noise while creating the precise powertrain sound characteristics specified by Infiniti.

A brief history of Q
The letter Q has been synonymous with Infiniti since the luxury performance brand from Japan launched its first model, the iconic Q45 sedan, almost a quarter of a century ago. Since then the letter has been an integral part of Infiniti’s success story in markets such as the USA.

Now the Q50 is the first of a new generation of Infiniti models that once again will be known by the letter Q or, for the crossovers, by QX.

Like Q, QX also has its roots in Infiniti’s past, with the QX4 SUV model of 1997.

Infiniti Q line-up

  • Q30 (Concept stage, production in Sunderland, UK, from 2015)
  • Q50 (all-new sports sedan, on sale in Australia from February 2014)
  • QX50 (formerly Infiniti EX crossover; not sold in Australia)
  • Q60 (formerly G Coupé and G Cabriolet)
  • QX60 (formerly JX SUV, in US and Russia; not sold in Australia)
  • Q70 (formerly Infiniti M sedan)
  • QX70 (formerly FX crossover)
  • QX80 (formerly QX56 SUV in US and Russia; not sold in Australia)
  • Q100 (Infiniti Red Bull Racing F1 car)

The Q50 is the first Infiniti to be badged according to this new nomenclature, but other models will follow soon to build a complete Infiniti Q model range – right up to the Infiniti Red Bull Racing F1 car driven by Infiniti Performance Director Sebastian Vettel.

Australian prices
The Infiniti Q50 2.2d GT is priced from $51,900* (MSRP). Between February and April, this Q50 model is available with a promotional estimated drive-away price of $55,900**. The Q50 3.5h Hybrid is priced from $67,900* (MSRP) and will be available in both rear-and all-wheel drive.

Au

Enter Honda’s V6 Accord: It’s a great car Sans Gravitas

Honda Accord VTiL V6 2014 (1)Honda Accord (2)Honda Accord (1)Honda Accord (6)

From the Iphone: A dusty country track and farm building

2013 Honda Accord2013 Honda Accord2013 Honda AccordHonda Accord (7)2013 Honda AccordHonda Accord VTiL V6 2014 (2)Honda Accord VTiL V6 2014 (5)Honda Accord VTiL V6 2014 (9)Honda Accord VTiL V6 2014 (6)Honda Accord VTiL V6 2014 (8)2013 Honda AccordHonda Accord VTiL V6 2014 (7)

When I mentioned to the boys that I was testing the Accord this week, I got WOOTS and hoots and jeers. They said some most unkind things about the Accord being boring and dull and not the sort of car that a gay boy would be seen in. However, gayboys come in all shapes and sizes and have much in the way of good taste. Most of us can turn the shabby in to chic, the boring in to brash, and the tinny in to tremendous. It’s all a matter of paradigm.

OUTSIDE:

The exterior of the all new Accord is quite conservative. It looks more modern than the model it replaced and is aimed at the well healed

Accord has put on a bit of weight since it was first sold as a medium sized hatch with a 2 speed semi-auto in the ‘70’s. In fact the big Honda is now a fully-fledged “Executive Saloon”, a term I am loathed to use. It conjures a sense of entitlement and privilege and powder-wigged flunkies dropping peeled grapes into your mouth while you breathe in the right direction. No, the Accord is more honest than that. It is now a properly defined premium luxury transport.

The V6 has man-sized 18” wheels to fill those big muscular arches, and a stance that says “I’ve arrived. I hate fuss and if you don’t like it you can naff-off!” There is no hiding the Japanese-ness about the metalwork. The front is aggressive, but like many Hondas before it, looks a little too big for the car to which it has been fitted. I was not a fan of either end of the car but our time together brought about a change in my attitude. The top model has new-fangled LED headlights and LED running lights for day-wear. For evening-wear, the rear end is the place to be where the LED lights sparkle. The line of light traces its way along the bottom edge of the lens in an Audi-esque kind of way. It’s all very classy.

The Cabin:

Inside, Honda adopted the “less is more” approach to interior design. I’m not keen on fake wood but there it is. For plastic wood, it isn’t too bad. It is thoughtful ergonomics that make the controls work. The Satnav, audio and climate control are controlled from the central command centre with secondary controls on the steering wheel. Also on the steering wheel is an adjustment for the Active cruise control which uses radar to keep a safe distance from the car in front as well as warning of impending doom. Should the Honda come over all cautious, it will throw out the anchors to avoid collision while flashing a warning in the display. You hardly need lift a finger and with the Satnav set, you only have to steer the accord letting the electronics take care of the rest.

I’m pleased to see (and feel) a good quality leather on the seats, doors, console and dashboard. There is an acre of cow covering everything in creation with metallic highlights adding a certain verisimilitude. The 8-way power adjustment adds further refinement. The cabin genuinely feels like a luxury contender. There will no doubt be many of you turning your nose up at the thought of a Honda being considered in those lofty circles but the ambience is undeniable. It is tasteful and club-like. And, by club, I mean the kind where gentleman imbibe from the top shelf, and their jackets are casually thrown over the seatbacks, not the DOOF-DOOF twinks-dancing-with-shirts-off kind of club.

The Drive:

There are two engines available, but only the V6 can be had at the uber lux end of the range. The 2.4L has 129 KW and has a 5 speed auto and the V6 has a more respectable 206 KW with a 6 speed auto. I’m disappointed at the lack of a 6th speed in the 4 cylinder models which seems a bit mean of Honda. It’s worth noting Accord’s mega-sexy stable mate, Accord Euro, only comes in the 2.4L option. Australia is the only market to be offered both the larger Accord and the smaller Accord Euro sold side by side.

The ride is extremely smooth but the handling suffers with the chassis tuned to the luxury rather than the sporty. If you want a sporty handler move on, there is nothing for you to see here. It’s on the road where some of the knickknacks make themselves known to you. The left hand door mirror has a nifty camera in it which displays on the centre LCD screen whenever you turn the left indicator on. You can manually operate it from the button on the end of the indicator stalk too. It gives a clearer view along the side of the car where bike riders and P platers often lurk just out of sight. The same screen displays the view rearward as you reverse but can be toggled through three aspect modes including one which points straight down.

In the era of electric parking brakes, Honda persists with the truly awful foot peddle. It is difficult to activate the parking brake if you have very long legs and seems archaic when a small button can be fitted to the centre console to do the same job. Parking a car should not require a level of physical dexterity that would make a Cirque du Soleil performer proud.

On the highway you can feel the road surface but it does require a bit of imagination. Honda have worked hard to provide a level of isolation in a kind of magic carpet kind of way. Brisk cornering elicits an alarming amount of body roll, but a no stage do you feel as though she will let go. If she was so inclined, her electronic nannies would whip the wayward behaviour back into line. The steering lacks Hondas usual directness and is a little disappointing, but both it and the ride feel unaffected by dirt roads. We spent a bit of time in the NSW Southern Highlands and visited dirt roads in varying states of repair. The Accord just wafted along in other-worldly comfort so the trade-off for handling feels somewhat justified. That is not to say it handles badly but the body roll can feel alarming at times. It would be a pleasure to take the V6 on a good old Aussie Road trip. There is plenty of room in the back for a couple of the chaps and luggage.

Should you find yourself being driven round by your very own powder-wigged flunky, the back seat can be instantly converted into a personal VIP room by raising the electric shade blind on the rear window, and the manual shade blinds on the rear side windows. While being driven to an exclusive function at Sydney Town Hall, we sipped Tanquers and Tonic. It feels good to see the streets quietly passing by knowing those outside can’t see in. Canoodling is not advised. Even with the blinds raised the rarefied environs of the comfy rear accommodations create a mood of confidence and privacy but it can come unglued in a jiffy. As we discovered to our regret, when the flunky selects reverse the rear blind automatically retracts. Don’t be caught in a Duchess of York moment when it does.

In my opinion Honda should be making much more of this spectacular 3.5 V6. It’s frightfully clever because it shuts off the fuel to cylinders that aren’t needed. For cruising, only 3 cylinders are used switching to 4 for a little boost. The full beast is unleashed only when needed. The driver is blissfully unaware that this goes on under the bonnet, just as it should be. One wonders why all 6 cylinder cars don’t do this.

The smaller 2.4L is a favourite and we love it especially in the smaller Accord Euro so is also well worth a look.

The boat has been pushed well and truly out to keep the cabin as quiet a grave. Active Noise Cancelling, first seen in Honda’s superb but short-lived Legend, makes the cabin almost silent. A microphone gathers sound from inside the cockpit and plays back an inverse wave through the speakers. You aren’t aware of it happening but it works the same way the headphones which can block a jet engine without even changing gears.

Honda took two big hits when the tsunami wiped out one assembly plant in Japan, then the Thai flood, wiped out another but they have come back stronger with good value and a quality build.

The Accord handles acceptably for a large premium saloon and is loaded with technology. The silky V6 is superbly smooth and the 6 speed auto is silky and intuitive. The Lane-watch (left hand mirror camera) is brilliant and the active noise cancelling is a sensation so it’s a shame that more Accords are not on the road. It is every bit as comfy as a BMW and the same price as the new VF Calais.

Would I buy one? No, I’d still take either the CRZ or the Accord Euro if I had to buy a Honda, the VF Holden Calais otherwise. I certainly wouldn’t shell out $80,000 more to buy and BMW or Mercedes badge just for the sake of it. I like those brands very much but there are good cars cheaper. Honda simply doesn’t have the gravitas of the Euro barges and in a way it’s a shame.

VTi 2.4-litre saloon: $31,490
VTi-S 2.4-litre saloon: $33,990
VTi-L 2.4- litre saloon: $41,490
VTi-L ADAS 2.4- litre saloon: $44,990
V6L 3.5- litre saloon: $51,990 (The test car)
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Engine: 3.5L V6 207KW
Transmission: 6-speed auto, FWD
consumption: 9.2L combined/100km

Calais: Reinvented, Rejuvenated and Rejoicing.

 

VF Holden Calais (2)VF Holden Calais automated parking controlVF Holden Calais Blind Spot WarningVF Holden Calais door mounted controlsVF Holden Calais frontVF Holden Calais rearVF Holden Calais HUD Heads Up Display

BELOW: Fire damage along the Hume Highway west of Sydney

VF Holden Calais M5 hume hwy fire damage(3)VF Holden Calais M5 hume hwy fire damage(4)VF Holden Calais M5 hume hwy fire damage(5)VF Holden Calais rear seatVF Holden Calais (13)VF Holden Calais (6)

 

Calais: Reinvented, Rejuvenated and Rejoicing.

Who remembers the ads from 1978? No? Holden built suspense for months teasing us with a commercial voice over saying “Commodore is coming” but nothing else. No one knew who or what the Commodore was. There was no indication that it was a car, or that it was from Holden. It could easily have been an ad for a new drink, or a boat, or even a smart resort. It might also have been where ladies with faces like handbags could gather, dressed in white tee shirts with shiny gold writing. They’d spend their husband’s money like it was water and drink Riesling as Chardonnay was yet to reach our shores. This was Holden’s way of busting out of the Kingswood era which seemed to last an eon. Commodore was so different from the creaking dinosaur it was replacing.

Holden tried the same thing with its bright new VF. There were treasure hunts and teaser shots which were part of a stratospherically expensive campaign created by Gen Y geeks with dime-a-dozen marketing degrees.

Let’s be honest, VE Commodores looked great on the outside but had a disappointing interior. It felt nasty and the audio system sounded like some of the speakers had failed or were made in China. Apart from the sad quality, no design point was worse than the handbrake. The phenomenally stupid form-over-function execution of such a simple device constantly jammed fingers, and other vital organs, in a vice-like pinch as you wrenched the thing into parking position. Why? Didn’t someone notice such a ridiculous mistake? It would seem not.

The top model is the Calais and I was among many who thought the money asked for it should have delivered a better experience. It wasn’t special enough. After all, it was the same slightly shabby base-model interior dressed up with acres of animal hide.

And “lo”, Holden listened:

The VF isn’t merely a major facelift, tummy-tuck, and lipo of the VE, it’s a new model which just happens to share some of the same parts. It’s a revelation.

What’s new:

I could rattle on about the suspension settings, the engine specs and other boring technical stuff, but none will tell you exactly how fabulous the VF is.

The front and rear are completely new. The shape has completely changed with clever rethinking of the lights and bodywork. The rear now has a sinuous organic feel to the lights and upper boot lid lip. The line running down the C Pillar forms a line at the rear which then travels along the boot. The waste line runs just beneath it never quite meeting the boot lip, but instead forming a protruding edge which is the top of the tail lights and lower edge to inbuilt mini spoiler. The affect is deliciously sensual and thoroughly modern.

The silhouette has a premium feel. You get a sense that Holden actively went after the Eurosnobs with the Jaguaresque side vents. They look like they suck vast amounts of air into a finely honed engine built by god himself. The 19” wheels look enormous and fill the wheel arches, giving Calais and muscular and commanding stance. It looks impressive before so much as a button has been pressed. It looks fast and comfortable but here is the kicker, $44,139 (Calais), $51,429 (Calais V V6), $57,729 (Calais V V8) drive away is all you’ll pay. That’s almost ten grand cheaper than the model it replaced. The front has sexy new headlights and LED running lights which add to the drama. The classy exterior looks like it costs far more than it actually does. The premium feeling Holden was so obviously going for has been a complete success. The bonnet, bootlid and some of the suspension is now crafter from lightweight aluminium, another first for and Australian car. 1702kg for the Calais isn’t too bad for a car of this size.

The exterior is gorgeous, but it is the glamorous interior which has seen the most remarkable transformation. The design and execution has propelled Commodore and Caprice into another realm in a single leap. Forgetting the technology for a moment, the interior design had the class level dialled up a notch or ten. The leather-clad steering has a flat bottom, which I find annoying to use, but it’s beautifully made and the switchgear is now standard across the range. The standardised design is intuitive and is easy to use because it feels very familiar. The cabin is common throughout the range, including the Caprice. This means Calais is now really a short wheelbase Caprice, rather like the old days when Statesman De Ville was a stretch Kingswood, albeit with only the boot being the bit that was longer. The wheelbase was the same as the station wagon, but as usual I’ve digressed.

Despite the cabin being common throughout the range, Holden has upped the ante by bringing the quality up to a level that you no longer feel the need to apologise for. My only problem was the hood lining, which although practical, doesn’t feel luxurious. It’s the same “fabric” as one would expect to be found a sports car, and a cheap sports car at that, and it has no place in a posh model. There is perforated leather and a kind of suede on the dash and doors. I have a deep fear that it’s going to need careful attention to stay clean. The “A.D.D.” among us are going to need an on-board kit to manage little accidents. One thing though, those girls who insist on sitting in the passenger’s seats with their feet up on the dashboards should be instantly and rigorously ejected regardless of speed. Not only is it dangerous, but their pongy feet are disgusting, their knees would be forced through their faces in a front end prang, and suede is a bugger to clean.

There is the similar finesse as one might expect in more expensive Europeans, but Calais costs less than half of a similar BMW 5 series or Mercedes E class, and is considerably better looking. Of course the build is cheaper. It would be churlish to suggest otherwise, but the gap in quality is now not so marked. There is still the odd bit of cheap plastic here and there but at this price that can be forgiven. Passat

The leather electric seats are heated to keep your bottom toasty even on the coldest days. Although they are comfy, they are not as soft as I would have liked. Despite this, they feel firm rather than hard, even after several hours in the saddle. The climate control, also standard in all models, is controlled via the console, but some of the functions in a menu in the MY LINK system. You set the default fan speed in the “config” menu while the temperature and other functions are set in the usual way with the usual buttons. Why? I can’t think why an automatic climate control system needs a default fan speed. Doesn’t it manage itself? Won’t it go up and down like a bride’s nighty?

With the same cabin and equipment level as Caprice, mega-geeks with god complexes have lavished Calais with gadget-attention. Nobody talks about the safety stuff under the bonnet anymore because you won’t get 5 star safety ratings from ANCAP without stability control and enough airbags to fill a space shuttle. Besides, it is nowhere near as interesting as the things you can see and touch. “My Link” has a big full colour LCD with far more function than the previous IQ infotainment system.

Among the mind-bogglingly useful inclusions are:

ü blind spot waring when changing lanes

ü crash alert when too close to the bloke in front

ü lane departure warning if you wander too close to an lane line

ü Automatic parking

ü Electric hand brake

ü Fully automatic climate control

ü Auto dipping mirrors for reverse

ü Memory electric seats

ü an alert that warns of oncoming vehicles when you are reversing out of a parking spot and tells you what direction they are coming from

The latter is so useful. How many times have you come out of Bunnings to find a gorgeous hot and sweaty tradie parked either side of you? Their big, manly, butch Toyota Hiluxes are impossible to see round and you want to back out but can’t see a thing. Fear not, Calais can see where you can’t. Select reverse, the mirrors dip, and back you go, slowly. If Calais senses an old lady in a Mini Classic bearing down on you because she has glasses like cock-bottle bottoms and can’t see you, it flashes a warning. A symbol appears in the reversing camera monitor complete with direction indicator of the offending old lady’s Mini. A quick dab of the brakes and disaster is averted.

But that’s not all, the crowning glory is the automated parking system which steers the amply proportioned saloon into either a parallel or 90° car park. All you have to do is man the throttle and brake following the instructions issued via the small LCD which is mounted between the speedo and tacho. It works well, but the 90° manoeuvre feels completely unnecessary to me. If you can’t get a car into a shopping centre car park, you ought to hand in your license. Some queens get into the most awful flap when parking!

Had you told me even a year ago that such marvels would adorn an Australian made car, I’d have laughed, yet here we are. Ford is trying the same thing with the Falcon ujpdate so it remains to be seen if it is the same level of improvement. Falcon’s cabin is even more monk-like than the old Commodore, and the plastics look even cheaper. There are teaser shots of a very sexy front end, which is great because the current Falcon front is as plain as unprinted pyrex.

After a week of nimble city driving, we unleashed the new Calais on the M5 and headed out of Sydney, which meant braving the M5 east tunnel and its inevitable crawl. Once clear of it, we hurtled along the highway in quiet comfort, and it was very very quiet. The steering felt quite delightful and is now electric to facilitate the automatic parking. Little men in long lab coats spent hours coming up with settings for the little men in white overalls to apply to the suspension. The softness took me somewhat by surprise. Modern cars of late have seen fit to tune the damping at a jaunty setting. Even the most gentle of undulations causes your molars to come away and your vital organs move permanently from their original positions. Calais on the other hand does none of these things. It wafts along soaking up bumps like Aladdin’s carpet, but is much less breezy.

Like all Commodores, Calais feels planted at any speed and is particularly at home on a road trip, although handling is not as it is for the uber-sporty SSV. The soft settings are built for everyday comfort not roaring around the racetracks, and your kidneys will thank you for it.

The 3.6 V6 in the base model is my favourite GM engine. It has just the right mix of power, torque, and fuel economy. The 3.6-litre produces the same 210kW as the VE, but at 6700rpm instead of 6400rpm, with 350Nm of torque at 2800rpm down from 2900rpm. On the highway we managed 7.8L/100k which would give you 900k’s (ish) on a tank though I wouldn’t want to push her that far. The auto in sports mode is a belter. It holds gears longer and makes the changes quicker. Sadly, the 3.6 still sounds a bit like a taxi. The brakes feel progressive so there are no nasty surprises but when you bury your loafer into the Axminster, Calais takes over and applies full pressure. Even on a damp section of tarmac, the Holden stops fast and straight with no hint of wayward behaviour. Holden has come so far since those early days when my Kingswood under the same situation would have flown off the road in protest. Not only did we feel very comfortable but also very safe.

The Heads Up Display is a clever idea which projects snippets of info onto the windscreen. You can scroll through to change what’s displayed but most of the time leaving it with current speed will also show the current speed limit. Very handy indeed. As part of the display, you SATNAV will give instructions by temporarily changing what’s on the screen. You can leave the sound muted most of the time because the music is muted each time a direction is given and is very annoying. Should you want the directions again you can repeat them and again they will be flashed onto the HUD.

If I was being uber critical, I might like the climate control given some more thought. It seemed to be too cold or too hot and the vents don’t have a lot in the way of adjustment. Left and right is fine, and down is no problem but they only come up as far 90°. There is no way to point them upward. It seems a silly thing but why fall at the last hurdle. The previous SSV had circular vents so could be twisted to point anywhere you wished so it seems silly to have gone backward in such a basic thing as ventilation.

WOULD I BUY ONE?

Yes, gladly. It’s by far the best current Holden and as Holden suggests, is the best Australian built car ever. It’s a big claim but it’s a big car, and I like it very much. Its classy exterior reflects what’s going on inside and under the bonnet. A smooth diesel option would widen the appeal because all similar sized Euro saloons have the option to burn oil instead. What about a small turbo? The turbo Falcon G6e feels properly quick from a similarly sized engine. But, as it is Calais is a big, long legged tourer that’s also at home round town.

Finally, a home-grown offering that doesn’t make you want to put your head in your hands while muttering “almost, you almost got it”.

Holden Calais
Price: from $39,990
Engine: 3.6-litre V6
Power: 210kW
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto
Fuel consumption: claimed 9.0L/100km
Weight: 1702-1730kg

Holden Calais V8
Price: from $52,990
Engine: 6.0-litre V8
Power: 260kW at 5600rpm
Torque: 517Nm at 4400rpm
Transmission: 6-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 11.5 to 11.8L/100km
Weight: 1778kg