Three of a kind


I am think­ing of buy­ing a new car next year and want a sta­tion wagon. I’m keen on the Subaru Out­back Pre­mium but never see it re­viewed, so won­der what you think. I’m also con­sid­er­ing the Mazda6 wagon and Volkswagen Pas­sat, so which is the best? I like the look of the Out­back but am a novice when it comes to the fea­tures and me­chan­ics. Glenn, email You are choos­ing from a good line-up as all three of your con­tenders get The Tick from me. My per­sonal rank­ing puts the Pas­sat ahead of the Out­back but there is no rea­son not to go ahead with the Subaru.


We have a Hyundai i30 CRD bought with five-year war­ranty but the ra­dio, which stopped work­ing, ap­par­ently only has three years of war­ranty. I went to Hyundai cus­tomer ser­vice after the dealer told me I had to pay for the ra­dio and should have been told this. We weren’t. Con­tacted again, the deal­er­ship agreed to re­place the ra­dio only after the used car sales man­ager got in­volved. I know con­sum­ables such as brakes and tyres are not cov­ered un­der war­ranty but it makes you won­der what other parts are not cov­ered and if say­ing there is a five-year war­ranty is a lie. Noel & Pauline White, email I was shocked to hear this and then have it con­firmed by Hyundai Aus­tralia. Cars­guide be­lieves the fiveyear war­ranty should cover the ra­dio, since there is none of the “wear and tear” that af­fects tyres and brakes, even if it is de­tailed in the Hyundai Ser­vice Pass­port to­gether with two years/40,000km for the bat­tery. So, in­stead of The Tick, Hyundai gets The Kick from Road­side As­sist.


Are the Mercedes sales­peo­ple telling the truth that there are de­liv­ery is­sues for all mod­els with head-up dis­plays? They say it’s be­cause of Ja­panese sup­ply is­sues. Lester Pearce, email Mercedes-Benz spokesman Jerry Sta­moulis replies: “Due to the earth­quake some months ago in Ja­pan our sup­plier wasn’t able to pro­duce enough head-up dis­plays. Ve­hi­cles were ei­ther de­layed or are now ar­riv­ing with­out the head-up dis­play.”


Re over­seas TV com­mer­cials in Aus­tralia. There are worse ads — one in par­tic­u­lar for Kia pro­motes bad be­hav­iour. The ad I re­fer to has a woman driv­ing, another fe­male be­side her, and kids in the back. They are on a sub­ur­ban road and the driver is singing, frol­ick­ing, hit­ting out a tune on the steer­ing wheel. It is an ap­palling ex­am­ple of inat­ten­tion yet Kia re­fused to yield de­spite ap­proaches from NSW Roads Min­is­ter Dun­can Gay and oth­ers con­cerned with road safety. I’m sur­prised Kia per­sists with it be­cause it’s a poor look. Mind you, it wouldn’t stop me buy­ing a Kia if I was look­ing at a new car. Ron, email The Kia spot is just a bit of fun and I like it. Some­times peo­ple get far too se­ri­ous and worry too much.


We are in the mar­ket for a Mazda CX-5 and won­der­ing if and when a new model would be re­leased. Dar­ryl Jones, email There is noth­ing of­fi­cial from Mazda Aus­tralia but the CX-5 is now more than four years old and that points to a new re­place­ment in the sec­ond half of next year. If you’re buy­ing now, en­sure you also test drive the new Kia Sportage — I give it The Tick and rate it ahead of the CX-5.


I’m driv­ing a Mercedes CLA 200 coupe which I have loved driv­ing but now want a new car. It’s only me in the car, un­less I am car­ry­ing grand­chil­dren, and I do very low mileage but I’m strug­gling to find some­thing I love. I have test driven so

many things be­cause I’m look­ing at wag­ons and small SUVs to put grand­chil­dren in with­out a strug­gle. I have tried the Mercedes GLA 180 — what is your opin­ion? An­gela, email The GLA is my favourite in the Mercedes-Benz baby-car line-up and it gets The Tick. But you should also test drive the new Infiniti Q30 and QX30, which share the me­chan­i­cal pack­age of the A-Class fam­ily but with a lit­tle more com­fort.


It’s pos­si­ble to tint the win­dows on a Holden Colorado but peo­ple need to be pa­tient. The side win­dows need to be tinted and dried off the car. Al­low one week, prob­lem solved. If the tint peo­ple won’t pull the win­dows out, take the car to a panel beater. Mick Hot­son, email A great tip for the Colorado fan wor­ried about los­ing fac­tory tint.


Re un­suit­abil­ity of space­savers. I will not have a car with­out a full-size spare, after hav­ing a hire car that got a punc­ture at the start of a long week­end. The car was vir­tu­ally un­us­able for three days. Re­cently, I was driv­ing a hire car in Amer­ica when a fallen rock smashed a wheel near Death Val­ley. I ended up driv­ing, over sev­eral days, about 600km to have the car changed. Les Thomp­son, email This is one topic that con­tin­ues to get peo­ple pumped up.


Merc-ed out, I’m a baby boomer want­ing sun­shine, fun and change. I thought a Mercedes CLA sedan would do the trick but after my 190E, C180 and C220, I want a change. But a lot of the lit­tle fun ma­chines from Europe, like Skoda Fabia, and Ford Mus­tang from the US, have no open­ing sun­roof. With the world’s love af­fair with al­fresco din­ing, you’d think the brains in car-mak­ing would fig­ure: “It’s the fresh air they want, stupid.” I’m look­ing at Fiat’s 500C and Mazda’s MX-5 and pray­ing the big trucks won’t tail­gate me. John, email The eas­i­est ques­tion on record. Get an MX-5 and you’ll have all the sun­shine and fun you want. The only prob­lem will be choos­ing be­tween the 1.6 and 2.0-litre en­gines. Most pre­fer the “big­bore” en­gine but I like the en­gage­ment you get with the smaller one.


I am look­ing at buy­ing a com­pact SUV, likely a Suzuki Vi­tara. How does it com­pare with oth­ers in the class? Jim Cowan, email The new Suzuki is pretty good, apart from the con­stantly vari­able trans­mis­sion, and gets The Tick. But you should also test drive the Mazda CX-3, which tops the class, or the Honda HR-V if you need more space in the back.

Subaru Out­back, left; Mercedes-Benz GLA

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