Shift your Focus to a Ford
Your reader Gordon James asked about replacing his Holden Cruze SRI 1.6 Turbo hatch and definitely not wanting CVT or dual-clutch type automatic. Why not a Ford Focus? The auto is no longer a Powershift, from my understanding a sixspeed conventional auto and just what he is looking for. I have a Fiesta 2012 manual and have had no issues with it over 67,000km so far. I think it’s just the Powershift transmission in the Focus and Fiesta that’s a problem, the rest of the cars are fine and they drive well. Dave Torkington, email Thanks for the tip, it’s a good one.
I don’t understand the fascination with Holden and Ford. They’re leaving. They’re business wasn’t a success. If they were good cars, people would buy them, and they’d still be in existence. In the Carsguide you had a Which Car? on wagons and the reader didn’t even ask you about a Holden Commodore, yet you put it in your verdict. The Renault Megane and Skoda Octavia wagons were not considered, wrongly I think, as they too are great cars for what the reader is wanting and they can save a bit of money. Konstantinos Minopoulos, email I included the Commodore as a Wildcard because it is a great car and exceptional value at the moment. Ford and Holden are going out of business because the world, including Australia, has gone SUV crazy instead of buying sedans and wagons.
The Peugeot 508 station wagon is also a contender in the mid-sized family-car class. The Allure version’s standard kit and finish goes beyond expectations and would even rival the far more expensive Germans. Getting around 1000km on a tank of diesel is heaven and the 2.0-litre diesel is more than enough, albeit with a little lag at take-off. Steven Thomas, email It’s not my favourite but I can understand why you like it.
I have enjoyed your comments over the years and would like your opinion on the European car makers who are going to flood our country with their products due to the demise of our car industry. What peeves me is all the advertising these Euro car companies are showing in the media with left-hand drive cars in European conditions which are so different to our environment. I think they should be advertising righthand drive cars in Australian conditions and, if not, I for one will not buy their cars. Terry Burman, email The real flood of imports is coming from Thailand and Korea, not Europe. On the subject of foreign TV commercials, it was deregulation from the 1980s — of advertising, not the motor industry — that allowed companies to spend their money on airtime and not local production. It’s not restricted to cars, as you can see from shampoo and perfume spots, and it’s not just Euro companies as Holden has also been using overseas material for some of its imports.
PRICE NOT RIGHT
If I had $420,000 to spend on a car it’s not going to be on a Honda, or a Nissan. Glenn Busch. You’re not the only reader who thinks Honda’s NSX and Nissan GT-R are overpriced.
IT’S COMMON CENTS
I have to agree with Robert Phillips’ comments in Carsguide. I’m not a Honda fan but I think you have your favourite car builders and Mazda is top of the list. Warren Voyce, email The price of the Honda is over the top. Take the British price — 125,000 — then do the currency conversion, add luxury car tax and other charges and, according to a reputable importer, you get an Australian sticker of $300,000, not $420,000. As for being a Mazda fan, I rate the Kia Sportage ahead of the CX-5 and the Volkswagen Golf as a better car than the Mazda3.
NOTE OF DE-SPARE
What is the story with spare parts for the Kia Sportage? I had a 2010 model from new and just recently had a problem with the radio and was quoted over $2000 with a wait for the part to be sent from Korea. I got it fixed at a car radio store for $500. I have since bought a new Sportage, only to find the parking sensors aren’t working and again the part has to come from Korea. So far I have been waiting a month and still don’t know the arrival time of the part. Is this always the same or just the service centre? Dennis Wilson, email It’s not just the dealer and it’s not just Kia. Most companies keep only fast-moving parts in stock and have to order anything else, which means sea freight delays.
I have just read the latest reviews in the Carsguide of the Mercedes-Benz C200 Coupe, Toyota HiLux Workmate, Infiniti Q70 S and Mercedes-Benz 200D and wonder why these vehicles are wearing Victorian numberplates that are well over three years old. How can they be recently released models? I know how old the numberplates are because we bought my wife’s Suzuki SX4 in October 2014 and the new rego is similar. James Wilson, email There is nothing sinister or underhand here. Car companies rotate their plates on to their newest models to make life a little easier for their fleet administrators.
I know some manufacturers manipulate fuel economy by such things as disconnecting the alternator, overinflating tyres, turning off the aircon etc but do they also do the test with a realistic load and on a realistic trip with hills as well as flat roads? Have I reason to be sceptical of economy figures, especially for small cars? Surely, to be realistic, an average load of at least two people and luggage should be on board. Do your road tests include a realistic load? I would think small cars would suffer more than big cars in this respect, having to keep your foot buried on the accelerator to keep up. I am guessing this is why actual economy is up to 50 per cent higher than advertised. Ross Hewett, email The test figures are done in a laboratory, with the car on a rolling road, like a dynamometer. Real-world test numbers are coming but there is no international standard yet for testing. Our road tests cars are driven as realistically as possible, which often even means bicycles and scooters in the back and three youngsters on the back seat.
SHED SOME LIGHT
Am I being taken for a ride by Mercedes-Benz on a replacement headlight? I was driving my near-new GLC 250 and a bird hit one of the headlights and broke the perspex cover but there is no other apparent damage. The real damage came later when my local Benz dealership quoted for the repair: $3634 for the part and $530 labour, making a cool $4580. Two more bird strikes and I’ll have spent as much on repairs as the cost of a new city runabout. Bertie, email The dealership has now sharpened the quote but most companies now only sell headlamps as complete units. Yours is among the highest of the hi-tech, including a set-up to turn the lights for corners, so it’s costly.
Automatic choice: Ford Focus; Skoda Octavia wagon, below