Sav­ing on a spare tyre just leaves me flat

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By PAUL GOVER

SO now I know the price of a full-sized spare tyre in Aus­tralia. I didn’t have to drive to a Bob Jane T-Mart, I just talked to a cou­ple of car com­pany chiefs.

The ac­tual price varies a bit, but they say it comes in some­where be­tween one star and 40L. How’s that? Well, a full-sized spare can help a new car achieve a five-star safety rat­ing but it can also gob­ble up as much as 40 litres of boot space.

But, for buy­ers, the lug­gage loss can be off­set by a very mar­ginal im­prove­ment in fuel econ­omy.

I learn th­ese sur­pris­ing facts from Nick Se­nior, chief of Subaru Aus­tralia, as I test-drive his rip­ping new Forester. It will be the Ja­panese brand’s favourite car this year, and for years to come, tak­ing over from the smaller but trendier XV in a re­flec­tion of our col­lec­tive ob­ses­sion with SUVs.

Subaru buy­ers de­mand full-sized spares and that’s what they get in the Forester, just like the BRZ sports car and all the rest.

Toy­ota has ripped the spare out of its 86er twin, a de­ci­sion about to be re­versed for Aus­tralia, but there are plenty of rea­sons com­pa­nies do it.

It saves them money, pri­mar­ily. But it also means they have more space in the back end, which is im­por­tant in baby cars and haulers which need max­i­mum bag­gage ca­pac­ity.

A space-saver, or no spare at all, can also mean a 25kg weight sav­ing and that has a di­rect im­pact on econ­omy. But there is a bonus in stay­ing full-sized.

‘‘A full-sized spare can help with rear crash pro­tec­tion,’’ says Se­nior. ‘‘It’s also a pri­or­ity for a lot of peo­ple in Aus­tralia. They drive a long way and they want se­cu­rity.’’

The full-sized spare de­bate has raged for years, fu­elled by Holden’s de­ci­sion to make one an op­tion in the VE Com­modore and BMW’s move to rough-rider run­flat tyres in many of its cars.

It’s true flats are much less com­mon to­day than they were in the past – I only had two in 2012 de­spite driv­ing 150-plus cars over more than 100,000km – but you still have to won­der.

I took an in­stant dis­like to the Volvo S60 when I dis­cov­ered there was no spare in the car, and I was dis­mayed to see the cramped boot in the Subaru XV.

The new Forester is bet­ter, but 40L is still a lot of space to sac­ri­fice.

Flat tyres are a lot less com­mon th­ese days but a spare is still a must

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