The Road Ahead : June July 2007
PRICE: $107,800 ENGINE: 3.2-litre, FSI direct injection, V6 POWER: 188 kW @ 6500 rpm TORQUE: 330 Nm @ 3250 rpm 0-100 km/h: 7.9 secs 80 km/h-STOP: 26.3 m FUEL (ADR FIGURE): 9.7 litres/100 km FOR: Engine, transmission, build quality. AGAINST: Rear leg room, shallow boot. BMW X3 2.5si Ford Falcon XT sedan Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 Audi Cabriolet 3.2 V6 Those bullish Bavarians have eked out an existence for luxur y four- wheel-drives similar in size, price and philosophy: the X5 and sibling X3. X3hasm atured with cosmetic surger y, new magnesium-aluminium petrol engines and improved quality. The efficient, power ful entr y- level engine is smooth and willing, especially above 2500 rpm. Steer clear of the manual. Its heavy clutch and long-throw gearbox is more tiring than the clever automatic. A taut ride enhances handling but delivers low-speed, rear-end thump. Its steering, balance and nimbleness plus beaut brakes are strengths. This BMW excels on unformed roads but lacks wheel travel and off- road grip for major adventures. There's ample safety gear and security, however X3 falls off the pace for comfor t, features and space. Chris Bishop Jeep's most ambitious high- rider ignores convention. It is frighteningly fast and terribly thirsty. Even toting 2171 kg, its massive Hemi V8, all 6059cc of it, provides outstanding per formance. Jeep's specialised torque propor tioning 4WD system shifts from a mainly rear-wheel bias to the front end slickly and without fr ying tyres. A ground-hugging stance annuls off- roading however, in combination with tweaked suspension and steering, provides positive handling. This SRT- 8 rides admirably on 20-inch rubber, although its bulk tests the brakes. It offers plenty of safety gear. Positives include spor ty and suppor tive front seats, handy space and practicality, and build quality. Expect high running costs, tiresome ergonomics and tr ying times filling up with top-grade premium petrol. Chris Bishop Hand on hear t -- I took no pleasure from driving around, sunny day, roof down, in the smar t Audi Cabriolet. Well, maybe a little. The Audi's 3.2-litre, direct-injection V6 delivers lively per formance. The Multitronic CVT gearbox works seamlessly, allowing the engine to give its best. There's a manual mode with seven preset ratios and steering wheel paddle shifters, ideal for spor tier driving. The Audi proves surefooted over twisty roads, with well-weighted, responsive steering and good grip. The electro-hydraulic roof folds smar tly (21 secs) and can be operated when driving at up to 30 km/h. Rear passengers may struggle for leg space and roof folding operations can also deliver them a 'clonk' on the head from one of the roof bars. Build quality is excellent.John Ewing Ford's series II BF Falcon has receded into the shadows somewhat in all the hype surrounding Holden's VE Commodore. But in most areas, it holds its own against the VE. Series II brings minor cosmetic changes, but XT sedan buyers can now option the smooth ZF six-speed auto for an extra $1500 over a four- speed auto. The 4.0-litre engine offers strong per formance and plenty of torque. The suspension offers capable handling and a ride that cossets occupants from the poor sur faces on some of Queensland's roads. Like its immediate Falcon predecessors, ergonomics and comfor t are top notch, but minor build quality discrepancies persist. Our test car's highway fuel consumption impressed, dipping below 8 litres/100 km. John Ewing PRICE: $37,490 (6-speed auto) ENGINE: 4.0-litre, DOHC, dual VVT, inline 6-cyl. POWER: 190 kW @ 5250 rpm TORQUE: 383 Nm @ 2500 rpm 0-100 km/h: 7.3 secs 80 km/h-STOP: 26.4 m FUEL (ADR FIGURE): 10.2 litres/100 km FOR: Per formance, refinement, ride, ergonomics. AGAINST: Build quality, retained values. PRICE: $65,900 ENGINE: 2.5-litre, in-line 6-cyl., Valvetronic POWER: 160 kW @ 6500 rpm TORQUE: 250 Nm @ 2750 rpm 0-100 km/h: 10.7 secs 80 km/h-STOP: 24.4 m FUEL (ADR FIGURE): 9.9 litres/100 km FOR: Brakes, handling, safety, security. AGAINST: Manual gearbox, space saver spare. PRICE: $85,990 ENGINE: 6.1-litre, Hemi V8 POWER: 313 kW @ 6000 TORQUE: 569 Nm @ 4800 0-100 km/h: 5.5 secs 80 km/h-STOP: 25.1 m FUEL (ADR FIGURE): 16.4 litres/100 km FOR: Per formance, ride, seats, equipment. AGAINST: Thirst, ergonomics, running costs.
April May 2007
August September 2007