Prac­ti­cal Veloster has panache, too

The Advertiser - Motoring - - ROADSIDE ASSIST -

I’m re­luc­tantly look­ing to move on from my 2015 Mazda MX-5 1.5-litre. I’ve had a few back trou­bles lately and I’m find­ing it dif­fi­cult to get in and out. Also, the mis­sus thinks it’s not prac­ti­cal given we also have a seven-year-old and there is not much boot space and I have to agree with her for once. I’m look­ing at a Hyundai Veloster turbo, which I re­ally like. We only need to get three peo­ple in the car and the back seats are prob­a­bly only prac­ti­cal for lit­tle kids or short peo­ple as I al­most hit my head when I get in the back. What are your thoughts on the Veloster? Should I look at some­thing else? I’m re­ally look­ing for a car that’s sporty, small and rel­a­tively fuel ef­fi­cient as I do mostly city driv­ing, with a min­i­mal cost when trad­ing in the MX-5. Mal Tal­bot, email The Veloster is not as sharp to drive as the MX-5 but it has a sporty feel with the turbo en­gine and my sev­enyear-old

I want to find out about chang­ing my Nis­san Navara D40 tim­ing chain. Var­i­ous an­swers on the net say from 100,000-300,000km or more. Do they need chang­ing? I’ve done 103,000km. I’m told the job costs about $4000.

en­joyed be­ing in the back, es­pe­cially with the ex­tra door on the pas­sen­ger’s side — which looks silly but is sur­pris­ingly prac­ti­cal.

VITARA ROCKS

I am con­sid­er­ing buy­ing a Subaru Forester as I’m keen to start do­ing some off-road driv­ing and the size suits my needs, par­tic­u­larly for around-town driv­ing. I am only in­ter­ested in a man­ual trans­mis­sion and want to spend about $25,000 so am hop­ing to find a good sec­ond-hand op­tion. Subarus seem to be re­li­able cars and have a long his­tory of all­wheel drive but should I be con­sid­er­ing other op­tions? Cate Dug­gan, email A Forester is great for the city but not the right choice for se­ri­ous off-road use. It’s more of a cross­over, fine for gravel and sandy tracks but not for se­ri­ous rock crawl­ing or gi­ant mud holes. You would be bet­ter served by a Suzuki Grand Vitara if you want to get se­ri­ously away from the bi­tu­men.

BAL­ANCED VIEW

When I was in the mo­tor­cy­cle trade I was al­ways told to match the yel­low dot on the tyre to the air valve on the wheel to min­imise wheel weights when bal­anc­ing, as the yel­low dot marked the light­est part of the tyre. But I have no­ticed with car tyres that when fit­ting they don’t seem to worry about match­ing the dot with the air valve as much. Would this re­sult in us­ing more weights for bal­anc­ing or should I de­mand that the tyre be re­fit­ted cor­rectly? Phil Hid­dle, email You are right and Terry Smith, a sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion tyre ex­pert, has ex­tra de­tail: “Fit­ting it that way is not as crit­i­cal with car and 4WD tyres as it is with bike tyres. The rea­son is a nar­row bike tyre is only af­fected by a static out-of-bal­ance, or the heavy spot on one side, and you sim­ply put a weight on the op­po­site side to stop the vi­bra­tion. With wider car and 4WD tyres we now get static and dy­namic out-of-bal­ance and the dy­namic is­sue needs to be di­ag­nosed elec­tron­i­cally by a bal­anc­ing ma­chine.”

WIPER SWIPE

When I took my Ford Ter­ri­tory in for its first ser­vice the dealer called to say the wiper blades needed chang­ing. I told them to get lost and changed the blades my­self 10 years later. Mark Find­lay, email Some deal­er­ships have been chas­ing ex­tra money-mak­ers for a long time.

UN­WEL­COME TER­RI­TORY

Re the diesel Ford Ter­ri­tory. We bought a new one, which was great un­til the en­gine broke down with less than 72,000km on the speedo and less than four years old. The cost to re­pair was more than $5000 and Ford, in their “gen­eros­ity”, came to the party with an of­fer of less than $1000 to help re­pair it. Colin Glen­nie, email We’re still fans of the Ter­ri­tory de­spite your ex­pe­ri­ence and the age of the diesel en­gine.

HIGH VALUE

Your com­ments that SUVs are favoured by the el­derly with dodgy knees and hips are cor­rect but their pop­u­lar­ity is also due to the fact that a lot of own­ers reg­u­larly have to ferry grand­chil­dren. Chil­dren un­der six have to be in an ap­proved child seat in Vic­to­ria and these are complex to fit — the ini­tial fit­ting is usu­ally done by an ex­pert so are gen­er­ally just left in place. Even the younger and fit­ter par­ents find bend­ing down to strap a child into a car seat dif­fi­cult, which also ac­counts for the pop­u­lar­ity in wealth­ier sub­urbs of large SUVs, whose own­ers have no in­ten­tion of tak­ing them off bi­tu­men roads. Charles Clarke, email

MERCY DASH

I have a 2005 Toy­ota Prado, bought new. It has trav­elled only 113,000km. It has al­ways been garaged and ser­viced reg­u­larly with all ser­vices con­ducted by Toy­ota deal­ers. I re­cently no­ticed the dash­board was be­gin­ning to crack around the front airbag and I note, from pre­vi­ous com­ments in your col­umn and a re­view of the in­ter­net, this ap­pears to be a com­mon fault with the Prado. I have asked both the dealer and Toy­ota Aus­tralia cus­tomer ser­vice to con­sider re­plac­ing the dash as it would ap­pear to be a de­sign fault. Un­for­tu­nately both have de­clined to as­sist. Richard Tucker, email I have had suc­cess with other Prado own­ers and will def­i­nitely be tak­ing your case di­rectly to the peo­ple at Toy­ota Aus­tralia who have helped in the past.

FERRY SER­VICE

Re your Which Car story on buy­ing a con­vert­ible. I am also in my 60s and have also wanted a change to a con­vert­ible. In your ar­ti­cle you did not men­tion the Mercedes SLK. I have just bought one, af­ter look­ing for a cou­ple of years, and I flew to Melbourne and drove the car home to Sydney. There are so many mod­els with var­i­ous engines, also many colours to choose from, and most have been pam­pered and never driven in anger. You can spend a lit­tle to a fair amount on choice, many have good op­tions and most are in su­perb con­di­tion and are very re­li­able pro­vided they are ser­viced. Peter Hoy­card, email The SLK is a fun lit­tle car, like a grown-up Mazda MX-5, but the peo­ple who asked about a con­vert­ible also wanted the po­ten­tial to carry ex­tra pas­sen­gers at times.

JEEP AL­TER­NA­TIVE

I have been look­ing for a late-model six-cylin­der petrol SUV. I don’t want a diesel, de­spite the deal­ers’ ef­forts to sell me one, and my rea­sons are a whole other let­ter. I quite like the look of the Jeep Chero­kee Trail­hawk, which seems good value for money and is well op­tioned, but I have heard some neg­a­tive opin­ions of them. Should I be con­cerned? Paul But­ler, email Jeep has taken a bat­ter­ing in re­cent years for poor qual­ity and the Chero­kee is still not rec­om­mended by Cars­guide, un­less your pri­mary mo­ti­va­tion is se­ri­ous off-road driv­ing. Even with­out a diesel, you can get great per­for­mance and econ­omy from the lat­est gen­er­a­tion of turbo four­cylin­der petrol engines in­stead of an old-fash­ioned six.

Sporty feel: Hyundai Veloster, left; and Mercedes SLK

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