Nissan Tiida


Goodbye Pulsar, Hello Tiida.... Saying farewell to an old friend is hard to do at the best of times, yet Nissan is confident that the tempting Tiida can fill the hole left by the popular Pulsar by providing a number of changes, including a stylish new look and a copious interior space.

Is the Tiida aimed at the Pulsar audience? Probably not - most of them have bought the new Honda Civic or upgraded to a Golf. If we are to believe the marketing campaign, fans of the TV show "Sex and the City" will be flocking to the car, thanks to its sexy body and smooth ride. But even if we were to believe Kim Cattrall's seductive claims, would this be enough to entice Pulsar buyers back, let alone drivers who are being courted by a range of increasingly impressive small cars from across Asia and Europe?

The Tiida (tee-dah) is an all-new vehicle with zero heritage, so finding a customer base won't be easy for Nissan, and there are many both within the walls of this office and beyond who believe the Australian marketing campaign that involves the promiscuous 40-something character from the City Sex TV show is masking the car's flaws. But that's mere conjecture. Right here, I have a Tiida of my own for a week, and the truth of the matter is that the Tiida a is capable motor vehicle, whose few shortcomings don't affect its overall desirability. The rebuttal to this argument comes in the form of "It's good, but not the best".

With a strong 4-cylinder engine, good fit and finish and happy image (it was called the 'Sunny' in some markets, after all), the Nissan Pulsar set the stage for the under $20,000 small vehicle in the last decade, and was a familiar face on Australian roads for more than 25 years. Can we learn to love the Tiida as much as its popular forebear? Sure we can, but we may have to persevere for another decade or so before it's truly embraced, and it won't be the easiest of objective for Nissan to complete if it doesn't rethink its marketing from the current "It's so sexy you'll faint"campaign to something more facts based, with more practicality.

Make: Nissan
Model: Tiida ST
Price: $19,990
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Engine: 1.8-litre, inline 4-cylinder, petrol
Seats: 5
Safety: 2 airbags (driver and front passenger front and side airbags)

A new exterior style blends Nissan's Japanese
sensibilities with Renault's Euro-French image,
and the interior has bags of room while all the
switchgear, knobs and dials are kindly intuitive

Engine: Engine: VW 2.0-litre FSI Turbo

The transversely mounted inline 4-cylinder engine has a 1.8-litre (1797cc) capacity, with aluminium alloy cylinder heads and engine block. Dual overhead camshafts (DOHC) actuate a total of 16-valves, supplemented by variable valve timing. The petrol-powered motor has an 9.9:1 compression ratio and will accept almost any grade of fuel, from 91 to 98 RON unleaded when filling the 52 litre fuel bladder.

Max Power: 93kW @ 5200rpm
Max Torque: 174Nm @ 4800rpm

Fuel Consumption: 7.6L/100km (combined)

Nissan's new small car is available from $19,990 for either the sedan or the hatch, which is a good start, and just for the record the name Tiida comes from the word tide. Something about ebb and flow...

Anyway, the Tiida is not based on the same Nissan C platform as the Renault Mégane, but the Nissan B platform, and the reason they look fairly similar in size is because the Tiida's B platform has had the wheelbase stretched, and this accounts for the interior's roomy interior.

The Tiida surprised me with its cabin, which in my view is one of the better interiors at this price point. It's grey-black colour scheme sounds fairly drab on paper, but it just seem to work for some reason, and best of all, it's big and roomy, with a rear bench seat that will impress many small car buyers (though the lack of a lap-sash central rear seat-belt is a shortcoming). It's the kind of breed that can match its European class mates, cars from Peugeot, Ford and GM; the 307, Focus, and Astra.

It also passes my initial feel good test: does the steering wheel feel good? Yes. Does the dash layout look right? Yes. Do the dash plastics feel good? Yes. Does it have a decent sounding stereo system. Yes! Does it have an appropriate badge to complete the picture? No.

I don’t want to sound like a badge snob – but for mine the Tiida would be more likely to get a long term guernsey in my driveway if it had a more prestigious badge wrapped around it. The concept of badge identity had never been so highlighted to me before, as the Tiida offers good quality at a value for money price and it's got a certain style that worked for me. Although the overall quality and build falls short of a VW Golf, the new Tiida could quite easily pass around town wearing VW badges and attract a premium in the showroom, and people would still step inside and say "Love the German quality".

I know that Mr. Torr reviews vehicles from a more enthusiastic perspective than myself, judging cars on how they accelerate, whether they corners aptly and if they can do rolling burnouts in second gear -- and if he was reviewing this car he'd probably pan it because it's not a class leader in any of these areas. But I'm a different kind of driver, and though I can see that the car has some issues, drivers spend most of their time inside their cars looking out, and the Tiida doesn't disappoint with its interior.

The Tida drives well around town and on the highway, it's 1.8-litre engine offering the kind of flexibility that only a lightweight small car can offer. All manual models feature a 6-speed gearbox, which I reckon is great idea, as it gives you a bit more acceleration with shorter 1st and 2nd gears, while the final 6th gear helps the Tiida to post pleasing fuel consumption figures - under 7.6L/100km on the combined cycle.

Enthusiasts may not be so happy about the manual transmission's shift action; it's got a clunky, mechanised feel to gear shifts, and makes a bit of noise as well. For an extra $2000, you can opt for the 4-speed auto, but for those after an attractive car that will commute from A to B without slurping down gallons of fuel, the manual Tiida will make sense.

In general driving conditions, the Tiida handles well, with accurate speed-sensitive power steering and nice wheel to steer with. Some will complain of the somewhat stiff suspension that undermines the car's ride quality over rougher surfaces, but I didn't think it was any worse than the generally sporty combinations of ride and handling that are provided by its small car competitors these days. Grip in the wet was a little suspect, but for the most part the car handles well enough. It won't win any awards, but it's chassis helps give you a good level of control over car and engine.

One point I would like to make concerning highway driving is that without a cruise control, my foot got very tired. More so than other cars without a cruise control, which may correlate with the seating position. I think that it is the angle and positioning of the seat and subsequent foot placement that makes for a tiring hold on the accelerator. That said, I'd rather have a tired foot than a sloppy driving position, and I liked how the driver sits in a more elevated position, as this gives the driver greater visibility of the road ahead.

Did I mention that I liked the interior look and feel? The materials have a European feel – no doubt influenced by the Renault design group– and the 4-speaker CD sound system is fantastic, making driving the vehicle a continually pleasurable experience. Other standard features in the entry-level ST model include air conditioning, remote central locking, twin front airbags, power mirrors and cloth seats, all of which rate as decent value in the sub $20,000 new car marketplace.

The exterior styling of the vehicle is different, and bit hard to digest at first, but I think it works. It's got a touch of Honda Jazz - the tall body - and a hint of Renault Mégane in the radically-styled grille section, which is cleft in twain. Another benefit of the new sheet metal is that it gives the car fantastic aerodynamics, which also helps it attain that 7.6L/100km figure. It's 0.29 coefficient of drag ensures that it is a class leader in aerodynamics, and this also translates to reduces wind noise entering the cabin.

Overall: 3/5

For mine, the Tiida is a four wombat scenario, but the Editor joined me for a few drives and said "this ain't a quad wombat car". Still, it's well priced, well built, and not bad to drive, and possesses an enviably large interior for such a little car. I really feel the car is a step up from the Pulsar in terms of both exterior and interior style, though because it's so young, it may take time for small car buyers to warm to it, and the competition isn't going to sit still during this 'getting to know you' period.

By my reckoning, you could ditch the badge, glue on an Italian or French badge, and charge another third of the price and you’d have a real European contender. And if you're not worried about badge value and not trying to best the neighbours or impress the boss, you could always buy two of them then. The Pulsar may be gone, and there may be animosity towards the Tiida because of this, but I think in time it could find a place in the hearts and minds of Australian small car drivers. Thank you for feeling good on the inside; thank you for your bold European looks.

It can be difficult saying goodbye to an old friend, but I think the Tiida is a good replacement vehicle for the Nissan Pulsar and with a new model update in the next 18 months or so, it could evolve into a real challenger for Toyota's Corolla, Holden's Astra and Ford's Focus as well.



  • Spacious Interior
  • Dynamic Exterior
  • Fuel Efficiency
  • Small boot
  • No Cruise Control
  • No ABS

2009 Lexus RX 350 & RX 450h

Lexus Press Release

Lexus RX 350 2009Lexus has today unveiled the next-generation of its RX SUV models at the Los Angeles International Auto Show. The new models are the double overhead cam (DOHC) V6 RX 350 and a hybrid RX 450h. The two models have been redesigned and restyled. Both models will go on sale in Australia. The RX 350 will be available in the first quarter of 2009 and RX 450h mid-year.

The RX range has been fitted with redesigned engines and suspension, and features significant safety improvements. Lexus claims benchmark improvements in innovation, safety, performance, comfort and efficiency.

In a Lexus first, the RX 450h is powered by a new, highly efficient 3.5-litre V6 Atkinson-cycle engine, replacing the 3.3-litre V6 in the current RX 400h. Total power output from the engine and electric motor is expected to be 220 kW*, 20 kW more than the current model.

The RX 350's petrol V6 engine has also been improved, developing 204 kW*. It is mated to an electronically controlled, sequential-shift six-speed transmission, replacing the five-speed automatic of the previous model.

Lexus RX 350 2009Lexus has made major improvements in its Lexus Hybrid Drive System. An exhaust heat recovery system reduces engine warm up time, allowing the petrol motor to be switched off earlier, more often and for longer periods to improve fuel economy and emission control. A cooled exhaust gas recirculation system reduces engine pumping losses to improve economy.

RX 350 and RX 450h feature different all-wheel drive (AWD) systems. RX 450h uses an AWD Hybrid Drive System which supplies the rear wheels with optimum torque. The RX 450h's rear mounted electric motor generator allows all four wheel wheels to perform regenerative braking, charging the hybrid battery more effectively. RX 350 features an Active Torque Control system, which optimises torque depending on driving conditions.

New double wishbone rear suspension is a feature of both models - increasing agility and stability. The design also allows for an increase in cargo space of 22 litres, while allowing for even easier loading. The front-end's MacPherson strut geometry has been revised.

Lexus RX 350 2009The new body styling claims improvements in comfort, manoeuvrability and fuel economy. A new undertray design contributes to a class-leading aerodynamic drag figure of 0.32Cd.

Lexus has made big advances in cabin ergonomics and operator safety systems. A newly designed wide-angle side view monitor system has a camera located under the passenger-side rear view mirror^ on selected models. The driver can check areas by simply selecting a button on the steering wheel.

The navigation system is a next-generation improvement. A world-first white organic LED multi-informational display ensures exceptional readability from a wide angle. Selected RX models will feature new heads-up display which reduces the need for excessive eye movement.

A new Lexus Remote Touch navigation controller and a steering wheel-mounted multi-informational switch improve driver on-road attentiveness. The Lexus Remote Touch navigation system is described as a breakthrough in improving interaction between the driver and the vehicle and uses adjustable "Haptic" feedback to assist the driver with selecting the appropriate function.

All models carry ten standard SRS airbags, including the Lexus exclusive twin-chamber front passenger airbag, and driver and front passenger knee air bags. Vehicles in the RX range will be available with Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management (VDIM), Pre-Collision System (PCS) and Intelligent Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS).

RX 350 is fitted with 18-inch aluminium-alloy wheels, while 19-inch aluminium alloy wheels will also be available on certain models. RX450h will have its own styling features, including optional 19-inch wheels, an exclusive grille and front bumper, blue-trimmed Lexus hybrid logos, blue tinted tail lamps and AFS LED headlamps.

Selected new models will feature exclusive Mark Levinson Surround Sound and dynamic radar cruise control.

Lexus Australia chief executive John Roca said the new RX range would build on the range's strong technology reputation. "The RX was the first vehicle to offer reversing cameras as standard in Australia, and the RX 400h was the first hybrid SUV anywhere in the world," Mr Roca said. "The all-new RX debuts a range of innovations to simplify the driver's and passenger's interaction with the vehicle, and improve safety. "Whether it is the Lexus Remote Touch system, or the all-new hybrid driveline, the next-generation RX leads the luxury SUV market on innovation, efficiency, comfort and safety."

* Pre-production figures only. Final specification may vary slightly.
^ Camera is designed as a driver assist device only and should not be used as a substitute for skilled driving practices.

Source: Lexus Press Releases

2009 Brabus Tesla Roadster

Brabus Press Release

Brabus Tesla Roadster 2009The first tuned electric car comes from Brabus: The first project of the future cooperation between Tesla Motors, Inc. and the new Brabus business division Zero Emission celebrates its world debut at the 2008 Essen Motor Show. Brabus presents an exclusive customisation program for the Tesla Roadster, the world's first electrically powered production sports car.

The new Brabus logo with added lightning bolt is the trademark of Brabus Zero Emission vehicles.

To give the sports car a more exciting sound the Brabus electronics specialists have developed a 'space sound generator.' The occupants on-board the Tesla Roadsters can choose from several simulated engine sounds including that of a typical V8 combustion engine, a racecar engine and two futuristic soundscapes named 'Beam' and 'Warp.' The volume of the sound is dependent on the momentary power output of the electric motor.

A custom-tailored Brabus tyre/wheel combination further improves handling characteristics. The two-seater is refined with weight-optimised Brabus Monoblock S light-alloy wheels in size 7Jx18 in front and in size 8.5Jx19 in back. Brabus technology partner Pirelli provides the corresponding P Zero Nero high-performance tyres in size 215/35 ZR 18 in front and in size 255/30 ZR 19 on the rear axle. These tyres were developed to deliver minimum rolling resistance.

Brabus Tesla Roadster 2009The two-seater also receives an even more striking exterior at Brabus. The customisation measures include a special high-quality 'matte white' paintjob. To give the mid-engine sports car an even more enticing face the Brabus designers treat the front apron to a lightweight carbon-fibre front lip and daytime running lights integrated into the front grille. Matte-white surrounds for the headlamps add interesting detail to the overall effect.

The sides of the Tesla are upgraded with Brabus entrance lights shaped like futuristic space lights. They are activated with the keyless fob or by pulling on a door handle. Brabus carbon-fibre air inlets add even more sporty flair. Immediately apparent in the rear are the Brabus rear wing and the Brabus rear diffuser, both made from light yet extremely strong carbon fibre. The round taillights are accentuated further by matte-white applications.

The Brabus customisation program for the Tesla Roadster also includes exclusive interior options. The range of products starts with scuff plates with illuminated Brabus logo. They are integrated into the top of the rocker panels.

Brabus Tesla Roadster 2009The company-own Brabus upholstery shop masterfully handcrafts exquisite custom interiors for the Tesla. The designers chose a combination of especially soft yet durable Brabus perforated lightweight leather and Alcantara. The cockpit features white seams to reflect the exterior colour. The vehicle floor is also upholstered with lightweight leather for added exclusivity.

The goal of the Brabus customisation concept for the Tesla Roadster is to define a potential limited edition as well as an individual tuning program for the Tesla driver.

Source: Brabus Press Releases

2009 Toyota TRD HiLux 4000SL

Toyota Press Release

Toyota TRD HiLux 4000SL 2008Toyota Australia's TRD division has transformed Australia's most popular ute into a tough yet sophisticated performance-enhanced vehicle.

The new TRD HiLux offers a unique "tough truck" experience with supercharged performance, Bilstein sports suspension, sophisticated ride, 17-inch alloy wheels, beefier brakes and strong, powerful styling.

Toyota Australia's senior executive director sales and marketing David Buttner said TRD HiLux delivers sports-truck credibility with real-world practicality.

"TRD HiLux is the ultimate active ute," Mr Buttner said.

"It offers scintillating performance and dramatic styling while still being able to carry a full load and perform a hard day's work," he said.

TRD HiLux is derived from the double-cab 4x4 version of the standard HiLux, which is the third best-selling vehicle range in Australia.

Toyota TRD HiLux 4000SL 2008Its 4.0-litre quad-cam V6 petrol engine is fitted with an intercooled Eaton supercharger, which boosts maximum power by 28.5 per cent to 225 kW and peak torque by 20.4 per cent to 453 Nm.

The engine, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, pumps out more torque than the standard engine's 376 Nm maximum from just above idle all the way to around 5700 rpm.

TRD HiLux accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 7.2 seconds.

Remarkably, the supercharged TRD HiLux returns official fuel-economy figures comparable with the standard HiLux at just 12.9 litres per 100km.

Mr Buttner said the target market was mainly men aged 30 to 39 who were actively seeking performance vehicles.

"Dealers have told us for some time there is a latent demand for a performance truck from Toyota.

"TRD HiLux will be the tradie's choice; it will also be the prestige choice of owner-operators and business proprietors."

The TRD-fettled HiLux creates its own segment as the only volume-production supercharged ute sold in Australia.

It is available in two grades, 4000S and 4000SL.

Both grades come standard with twin front airbags, ABS anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and mirrors, remote central locking and DataDot security.

TRD HiLux has specially calibrated monotube Bilstein shock absorbers and 17-inch alloy wheels with all-terrain tyres.

Other enhancements include larger front brake rotors and calipers, a TRD body kit, sports bar and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever.

"Drivers will notice a more compliant ride and flatter, more controlled cornering in a wide range of load and surface conditions.

"TRD HiLux has also improved the off-road capabilities with a wider departure angle due to the new TRD rear bumper," Mr Buttner said.

TRD HiLux 4000S is priced at AUD$59,990 and the 4000SL at AUD$64,990. The only option is metallic paint at AUD$300.

This is the second vehicle from TRD in Australia. TRD Aurion was launched in August last year.

Source: Toyota Press Releases

2010 Ford Mustang

Ford Press Release

Ford Mustang 2010Muscle goes modern for 2010 as the Ford Mustang – America's favourite muscle car for 45 years straight – hits the streets with a new exterior design; new world-class interior featuring well-crafted materials and updated technology; and a V8 with even more horsepower and an even throatier signature Mustang exhaust sound.

Combine those elements with the new Mustang's improved handling characteristics, more standard safety and technology features and its already-strong safety and quality performance and reputation, and it's easy to see how the muscle car known around the world delivers on the promise of fast, fun and affordable performance for a whole new era.

"More than 9 million customers have made Mustang one of the world's most beloved automotive and cultural icons," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. "Making sure this modern legend lives up to their expectations has been a driving force for the team, which went to great lengths – gathering customer input everywhere from race tracks to Main Streets in cities throughout the U.S. – working to create the best Mustang ever."

For 2010, the team delivered. "The new Mustang marks new levels of both power and refinement," said Paul Randle, Mustang chief engineer. "We've designed and engineered this to be the next classic Mustang that everyone talks about for years and years."

Ford Mustang 2010In true Mustang tradition, there is a "steed for every need." At launch, customers can choose from a V6 or V8 with their choice of coupe, convertible or innovative glass roof, plus several new options and features delivering the opportunity for customers to personalise their cleaner, meaner-looking Mustangs.

"The best Mustangs have always been the ones that connect young America with the spirit of the times – and the 2010 does exactly that," said J Mays, Ford's group vice president of Design. "The new Mustang is close to the magnetic center of the original, fully loaded with the swagger you'd expect, but with modern refinement and attention to detail like you've never seen in a muscle car."

It starts with the more aggressive grille, punctuated with the first new Mustang emblem since the car's introduction in 1964. Both the V6 and GT have brand-new sculptured front-end designs unique to each model. The headlamps and turn indicators, now integrated into one unit, are modern interpretations inspired by the 1970 Mustang. On the V6, the fog lamps are located on the lower fascia, while on the GT, the fog lamps are again located in the upper grille – but are smaller than the outgoing model, similar to the original lamps of the 1967-68 models that inspired them.

Ford Mustang 2010"We understand Mustang's heritage and iconic status it has in the world and as a symbol of Americana," said Peter Horbury, executive director of Design, The Americas. "We wanted to create a face that is more muscular but unquestionably, unequivocally Mustang and carry that spirit through to the entire car."

The exterior sheet metal, except for the fast-back roofline, is all new for 2010. At the front, the new headlamps, lower fascias, fenders and grille are capped by a powerdome hood that adds to the muscular appearance while functionally allowing for enhanced air cooling of the engine.

Mustang's washer-fluid nozzles are tucked into the cowl, while the antenna has been moved to the rear, both of which create a cleaner appearance while also reducing wind noise.

Front rear fenders feature taut, sculptured wheel flares, like a tight skin stretched over the wheels. A classic spear character line on the doors leads to a modern indication of "hip" rear fenders. "It helps give the car aggressive, forward direction, like it's ready to jump," said Doug Gaffka, Mustang chief designer.

Ford Mustang 2010The rear end design features aggressively angled rear corners, a sculptured decklid and prominent rear badge. A rear-view camera incorporated into the spoiler is available on some models.

A notable new tail lamp design features three LED bulbs firing sequentially from the inside for turn indication. The sequential bulbs were a distinct Mustang feature in the '60s and comeback to the 2010 for the first time since then. Locating the reverse lamps vertically creates a modern version of the Ford classic three-lens taillamp.

Source: Ford Press Releases