UPDATED: MG expands HS range in Australia; set to launch ZS EV

2020 MG HS Essence
2020 MG HS Essence

MG Motor Australia is approaching the second half of 2020 with the confirmed July arrival of the top-specification MG HS Essence SUV, and news that it will launch the company’s first fully electric vehicle, the ZS EV, in the last quarter of the year.

The MG HS is designed to be purposeful, sporty and perfectly at home on Australian roads. Featuring a premium design aesthetic combined with elevated levels of technology, the Essence fully encompasses MG’s offering of immense value to its customers.

The new model comes equipped with the marque’s high-tech driving aid assistance suite known as MG Pilot, featuring as standard across all variants, helping to make the driving experience relaxing and safe.

With a 5-Star ANCAP safety rating – coupled with its 7-year unlimited kilometre warranty and 7-year roadside assistance package – the HS range offers compelling value to MG customers. It will be priced at $36,990 plus on-roads.

“The MG HS has proved a popular addition to our range. Moving into the second half of the year, this range-topping yet value driven model is one we’re excited to bring to our customers, with a range of additional features we know they’ll enjoy,” MG Motor ANZ CEO Peter Ciao said.

The 5-seat MG HS Essence joins the current range, which includes the Vibe and Excite, and over and above the latter, adds an impressive panoramic stargazer sunroof, a 360-degree camera, a red interior option, and a sportier interior seating design.

2020 MG HS Essence2020 MG HS Essence
Inside the 2020 MG HS Essence

The second half of the year will also see the launch of the MG ZS EV, the company’s first fully electric vehicle, with the all-electric evolution of the marque’s best-selling compact SUV, the MG ZS, set to arrive in quarter four.

A family-friendly electric car, the ZS EV is designed for those who want all the advantages of a zero-emissions vehicle without compromising on practicality.

“We’re grateful for our customers ongoing support and warm reception to our innovative product range. Our continued growth, with new dealer partners and exciting new iterations like the HS Essence, provides more choice and better access for service and sales around the country,” Ciao added.

“As we move into the second half of the year, we’re delighted to continue in our partnerships with exciting sporting teams, but also reveal further exciting models to the Australian market.”

2020 MG ZS EV2020 MG ZS EV
2020 MG ZS EV


Toyota launches Kluger Black Edition

2019 Toyota Kluger Black Edition

IT’S presently very fashionable to have a ‘black’ edition in the car world. You know the ones; black wheels, black bits, special badging. Well Toyota has joined the fray, with confirmation of a dashing special-edition Kluger dubbed Black Edition.

The Kluger Black Edition includes exterior treatments featuring bold black hues that dial up the attitude – and appeal – of the family-sized seven-seat SUV. Based on the popular mid-grade GXL, the new arrival comes with stylish 19-inch gloss-black alloy wheels.

It also gets 245/55 tyres, black roof rails, a large black upper grille that straddles a body-coloured bumper, smoked back plates for the headlights and black lower side mouldings.

The Black Edition is powered by Kluger’s 218kW/350Nm 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with direct-injection technology for brisk acceleration and overtaking. It’s coupled with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The 2WD Kluger uses just 9.1-litres/100km while AWD variants are rated at 9.5-litres/100km2. Every Kluger is equipped with advanced Toyota Safety Sense technologies that help prevent or mitigate a collision in different traffic situations.

These include a pre-collision safety system, autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure alert, active cruise control and automatic high beam. Other safety features include seven airbags, reversing camera, blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.

Premium features in the Kluger Black Edition include tri-zone climate control, a power tailgate with separate-opening glass hatch, premium seat coverings and door trim, key less smart entry and start, and a 12-way power driver’s seat.

It also scores an 8-inch display screen with satellite navigation, digital radio, a 4.2-inch multi-information display and rain-sensing wipers.

The Kluger Black Edition will be available in eight paint shades with two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, is now in dealerships for $55,970 (2WD) and $59,970 (AWD). Both prices are plus on-roads.


Toyota GR Yaris set for global debut in January

2020 Toyota GR Yaris
2020 Toyota GR Yaris

INSPIRED by motor sport and engineered for the road, the new rally-inspired Toyota GR Yaris sports car will make its international debut at next month’s Tokyo Auto Salon in Japan.

The GR Yaris incorporates advanced technologies, knowledge and experience learned from Toyota’s title-winning participation in the World Rally Championship (WRC) where it competes under the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing (TGR) banner.

It will be the second pure sports-car model to be launched globally by TGR, following last year’s return of the legendary Toyota GR Supra.

Ahead of the world premiere, a prototype of the new car – camouflaged with the signature red-black-and-white TGR colours – will make the model’s first public dynamic appearance at the Fuji Speedway in Japan this Sunday as a highlight of the annual TGR Festival.

The GR Yaris is now in its final stage of development. A prototype was recently pushed to its limits by Toyota’s global president Akio Toyoda, using his TGR Master Driver code name, Morizo.

Toyota, through its TGR motorsport activities, is seeking to create ever-better cars and expand its passionate fan support by competing in a series of demanding races in a variety of categories on roads around the world.

In 2017, Toyota announced its return to the FIA World Rally Championship with the Yaris World Rally Car, leading to five wins and the manufacturer’s title in 2018 followed by the driver’s and co-driver’s titles this year.

TGR has delivered further motor sport success in the World Endurance Championship with Toyota TS050 Hybrid race cars, resulting in manufacturer and driver championships in 2014 and 2018-19. Toyota is leading both title races in 2019-20.

Early this year, TGR took Toyota to its first outright victory in the famous Dakar Rally with a Toyota HiLux driven by Qatari champion Nasser al-Attiyah.

Locally, TGR Australia driver Harry Bates became the youngest champion in Australian Rally Championship (ARC) history and, teamed with brother and runner-up Lewis Bates, delivered a fourth ARC manufacturer’s trophy in their turbocharged Yaris AP4 rally cars.

Further details of the Toyota GR Yaris will be announced in due course.


Kia reveals first-ever sportswagon

The all-new Kia Optima Sportswagon, Kia’s first ever D-segment tourer, will make its global premiere at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show (86th Salon International de l’Automobile) on 1 March.

INSPIRED by the Sportspace concept car it revealed last year, Kia has unveiled its first-ever touring sportswagon, set to make its debut at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show on March 1.

The Kia Optima Sportswagon offers the striking exterior design and high quality interior of the 2016 Optima sedan, with the added practicality of a 553 litre cargo space and appeal of a tourer bodystyle.

The Optima Sportswagon will be available with a choice of efficient and responsive petrol and diesel powertrains, including a high-powered GT model.

Due to go on sale across Europe in Q4 2016, Australian release information will be provided closer to launch.


Upgrades aplenty for new RC F

2018 Lexus RC F (Zinnia Yellow)
The new look 2018 Lexus RC F in Zinnia Yellow

THERE’S upgrades everywhere on the new 2018 Lexus RC F, with the sports coupe getting a host of significant improvements, an updated interior and an expanded range of safety technology.

The new RC F is now fully equipped with Drive Start Control to ensure smooth starts and optimal rapid acceleration when the driver is using the shift lever, with the control system manages power and torque delivery from the coupe’s high-revving naturally aspirated V8.

Coupled seamlessly with the eight-speed transmission, DSC enhances the coupe’s sublime rear-wheel-drive dynamics. And in a cool twist, the system won’t engage when traction control is off, so you can still have fun and drive ‘enthusiastically’.

A light in the instrument panel indicates when the system is operational. The RC F also gains a a custom mode for its Drive Mode Select, enabling drivers to set their preferred power train, chassis and air conditioning settings.

It retains its excellent active variable suspension system, while inside, the luxury interior now features a 10.3-inch display audio screen and the multimedia system has also been upgraded. The Lexus Remote Touch pad is larger, making it easier to use.

An improved Lexus Safety System+ (LSS+) suite of technologies for the RC F results in the pre-collision safety function being able to detect pedestrians as well as other vehicles, with improved radar active cruise control.

LSS+ also incorporates an upgraded lane departure warning function (LDW+) that now includes steering assist and steering-wheel vibration alert. Automatic high beam is also part of the package.

The RC F is distinguished by a 5.0-litre V8 engine producing 351kW of power and 530Nm of torque, as well as a stiff chassis, torque-vectoring differential and racetrack-developed suspension and brakes.

The paint palette now includes Zinnia Yellow, which was introduced with the flagship LC coupe while Titanium replaces Sonic Silver. The RC F Carbon’s 20-spoke forged high-grade alloy wheels have a new matte finish.

The halo V8 RC F is also offered with Carbon variant which applies carbon-fibre technology to its roof, active rear wing and interior trim for weight saving and added visual appeal. The bonnet is now aluminium, replacing carbon fibre.

Despite the higher specification, competitive pricing has been maintained for the RC F with prices starting from $138,100 plus on-roads, an increase of just $149.


Toyota confirms GR Yaris Rallye pricing ahead of March launch

2021 Toyota GR Yaris Rallye
2021 Toyota GR Yaris Rallye

Toyota’s special-edition GR Yaris Rallye performance car will be launched in Australia in March with an introductory offer of $56,200 drive away. The introductory offer price will only apply to the first 200 cars.

After they’re sold, the price will move to the official recommended retail price of $54,500 plus on-road costs. The GR Yaris Rallye promises an even richer experience for enthusiasts who want to take their cars to the track.

Building on the 200kW GR Yaris, the special-edition model is equipped with performance upgrades that make it an even more focused, high-speed performance package, designed for circuit racing.

It features circuit-tuned suspension, Torsen limited-slip differentials on the front and rear axles and 18-inch BBS forged alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S3 tyres.

Toyota also confirmed that any future stock of GR Yaris, potentially arriving in the second half of 2021, will be priced at the recommended retail price of $49,500 plus on road costs.

Speaking to media today, Toyota VP of sales and marketing Sean Hanley said the launch strategy for the Rallye was consistent with that adopted for the GR Yaris.

“Back in September, we announced our go-to-market strategy. We knew our official RRP made perfect sense with GR Yaris competing head-to-head against pure performance cars in the segment costing more than $50,000” Hanley said.

“But we weren’t content with that. We wanted to ignite the performance-car market. We wanted to broaden the awareness and appeal of the GR brand. And we wanted to support customers – many of whom we knew would be new to Toyota – by making GR Yaris genuinely attainable,” he added.

“By all accounts, we’ve achieved exactly what we set out to do. Our strategy was built on a significant local investment… an aggressive driveaway offer, limited to the first 1,000 cars. The first 1,000 were snapped up within a week – a remarkable response.”

Toyota responded to the extraordinary demand by releasing a further 100 cars – at a new price point, but still well below the RRP. It was a move, according to Hanley, that kept faith with the promise that the first 1,000 customers scored a very limited offer.

“We expect to deliver around 550 of these 1,100 cars by Christmas… and the balance by April next year. Not surprisingly, we’re keen to secure more cars, most likely in the second half of next year – and we’ll keep you posted in the coming months,” Hanley continued.

Toyota has confirmed that when those additional standard GR Yaris models arrive, they will be priced at the RRP of $49,500 plus on-road costs.

“That brings us to the remaining piece of the puzzle… the circuit-focused Rallye,” Hanley said. “Now, just as we did with GR Yaris, we want to excite as many fans as possible by ensuring this special-edition Rallye model is genuinely attainable.”


Maserati teams up with tailor to create Zegna Levante

2019 Maserati Levante Zegna Edition
2019 Maserati Levante Zegna Edition

IN the days before modern technology, talented artisans fashioned objects of great beauty with basic tools and bare hands. Today the tradition continues as Maserati teams up with Italian tailor Ermenegildo Zegna to create a limited edition Levante SUV.

Just seven of the Maserati Levante Zegna editions will make it to Australia, set to arrive here in December of this year, in a special edition model that embodies the finest craftsmanship possible.

The partnership between the two Italian companies has previously created bespoke interiors for the Ghibli and Quattroporte models, and now it’s the turn of the Levante, which for the first time features Pelletessuta woven leather.

Like a fine, made-to-measure suit, Pelletessuta was developed through the pioneering research of the Ermenegildo Zegna Style Centre and Maserati.

The three-dimensional woven strips of leather create a tactile surface, restoring light and texture and adapting to the sinuous surface of the Levante dashboard, sports seats and door panels.

Matched with a black Pieno Fiore interior, it delivers exceptional levels of luxury and craftsmanship for which Maserati is known the world over.

Based on the petrol V6 Levante GranSport, the Levante Zegna Edition also adds a unique Bronzo exterior tri-coat paint and Zegna badging on its B-pillars, 21-inch Helios alloy wheels, and subtle black brake calipers.

Inside, there’s a powerful Bowers & Wilkins audio system, a driver assistance package that includes autonomous braking and adaptive cruise control, and the Maserati Trident sitting proud on the headrests.

“The Levante Zegna Edition is proof that attention to detail and visionary innovation can create beautiful design,” says Glen Sealey, Chief Operating Officer, Maserati Australia and New Zealand.

“Through the longstanding partnership between Zegna and Maserati, we are the only automotive company to bring this ground-breaking Pelletessuta interior to market, and we’re delighted to have secured just seven of these models from such a limited global run.”

The Maserati Levante Zegna Edition arrives in Australia in the coming weeks, and will be priced at $170,000 plus on-roads.

2019 Maserati Levante Zegna Edition2019 Maserati Levante Zegna Edition
Inside the 2019 Maserati Levante Zegna Edition (overseas model shown)


SUV for Maserati

Maserati reveals first ever SUV

Maserati has revealed the first SUV to ever be released by the legendary car maker in its 100 year history, with the Levante set to make its debut at the Geneva International Motor Show on March 1.

The new model completes the existing range of saloon and sports cars, extending the offering together with the Quattroporte, Ghibli, GranTurismo and GranCabrio models.

The design of the Levante features clear associations with the Maserati brand and its distinctive Italian character: the aggressive front introduces new, tapered headlights separated into two elements, with the upper headlight unit connected to the radiator grille.

Maserati’s design signature is clearly visible on the sides: the three iconic air vents on the front wings, the trapezoidal C-pillar with the Saetta logo and the large, frame less door windows. The rear is dominated by the strongly tapered back window and streamlined shape, both typical of a high-performance sports car.

At a technical level, the Levante’s chassis is designed to combine the outstanding on-road performance typical of every Maserati with unrivaled handling even on very low-grip surfaces and an excellent off-road performance and ride.

The new SUV boasts a high level of content as standard, with all versions featuring: sophisticated electronic suspension with controlled damping and air springs, which can be set on several levels, Q4 intelligent all-wheel drive and eight speed automatic transmission specially calibrated for the brand’s new SUV.

When it comes to power units, the Levante is equipped with both petrol and diesel engines that are all Euro6-compliant. The Maserati Levante launch is planned for this northern spring in Europe, to be followed by the rest of the world and arriving in Australian and New Zealand early in 2017.


Mercedes-AMG releases new A 45 S and CLA 45 S; GLE 63 (S) Coupé

2020 Mercedes-AMG A 45 S
2020 Mercedes-AMG A 45 S

NOT one, not even two, but three models from Mercedes-AMG have been launched, two of which are available in Australia right now, including the new A 45 S and CLA 45 S. The GLE 63 (S) Coupé has also been unveiled in Germany.

The highly anticipated new generation Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 4MATIC+ hatch and Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ four door coupé turn up the power, posture and performance, continuing to improve upon the legacy of the previous generation.

At the heart of the 45 models sits a turbocharged four cylinder engine generating an incredible 310kW of power and 500Nm of torque. That power plant is paired with the new AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT-8G 8-speed dual clutch transmission.

The A 45 S 4MATIC+ sprints from zero to 100km/h in just 3.9 seconds (CLA 45 S 4MATIC+: 4.0 seconds). Active, fully variable AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive distributes power to rear axle wheels selectively via torque control.

Significantly, it enables excellent traction and creates the parameters for the spectacular new ‘Drift’ mode. It’s all thanks to a new rear axle differential featuring two multi-disc clutches, one for each rear wheel.

Also impressive is a carefully balanced torque curve and a high maximum engine speed (up to 7200rpm). The transmission has been configured for spontaneous acceleration in all speed ranges as well.

Depending on the selected driving mode, the driver receives a specific drive configuration with different accelerator and gearshift characteristics. The standard RACE-START function also allows maximum acceleration from stationary, in a highly emotive experience.

The result is consistently optimum traction, even in adverse road conditions. In a racetrack environment, this sophisticated solution enables extreme cornering manoeuvres, which makes power-sliding possible, for even more driving pleasure.

The new Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 4MATIC+ is designed with overt visual cues to its sporting prowess, including an AMG-specific radiator grille with a wider, lower contour and 12 vertical louvres, a clear indicator of AMG Performance family membership.

Wider front wings with flared wheel arches create space for the wider front axle, underlining an athletic appearance in combination with the front apron featuring a distinctive jet wing design.

Inside, the ground-breaking MBUX infotainment system first seen on the Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatch features sporty AMG specific design, sophisticated details and displays in emotionally appealing representations, rendered in brilliant 3D graphics.

This includes a race timer, a G-meter, engine data plus individual AMG displays such as visualisation of the driving programs, AMG TRACK PACE (the racetrack-specific virtual race engineer) and telemetry data.

The A 45 S 4MATIC+ features a Burmester surround sound audio system, an AMG Performance steering wheel in black DINAMICA micro-fibre with contrasting yellow top stitching, and heated electric sports seats in two-tone leather with identical stitching.

There’s also comfort control, brushed aluminium trim, key-less go and start, ambient lighting featuring 64 colours, dark tinted privacy glass and a panoramic glass sunroof.

Standard safety includes the driving assistance package plus, active distance assist with cross traffic assist, active lane change assist, and the parking package, which features a 360-degree camera, and LED headlights with adaptive high beam.

It retails for $93,600 plus on-roads. It’s coupe sibling, the new Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+, scores a wider front track, giving it a naturally self-assured stance. It means it doesn’t require the same frontal flares as the A 45 S 4MATIC+ too.

The CLA 45 S does share the AMG-specific radiator grille with the A45 S, but sports an expressive appearance all its own with jet-like external air inlets that show a family relationship with the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupé.

At the rear, the CLA 45 S scores a diffuser with four individual fins, and a boot lid-mounted spoiler. Its 19-inch diameter AMG alloy wheels are nine inches wide. The CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ otherwise shares the same high level of specification as the A 45 S 4MATIC+.

The Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ retails for $111,200 plus on-road costs. Both vehicles are on sale now.

Back in the motherland, an elegant and electrified coupé with superb agility and driving dynamics, and high traction all-wheel drive has been revealed, with the launch of the new Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 (S) 4MATIC+ Coupé.

At the heart of the performance SUV Coupé is the AMG 4.0-litre V8 bi-turbo engine, which has been electrified with an EQ Boost starter alternator and a 48-volt on board electrical system to deliver a particularly immediate response at start-up.

The base model delivers an output of 420kW, while the S variant offers an impressive 450kW. Agility is guaranteed by the AMG ride control+ air-sprung suspension, with active ride control providing roll stabilisation.

The fully variable AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive and the AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT 9G 9-speed automatic transmission, complete the package. The MHEV hybrid system adds an additional 16kW of temporary power and 250Nm of torque.

Visually, the exterior features an AMG specific radiator grille and special AMG exhaust system, with two rectangular high gloss chrome-plated twin tailpipe trim elements. The S variant gets fluted versions of the same trim elements.

Further individualisation options are available in the AMG Night package, including heat-insulating, dark-tinted windows, a front splitter, front and rear apron trim, inserts in the side skirts, mirror caps and window frames in dignified black.

In addition, the twin tailpipe trim elements are finished in elegant high gloss black. The typical look and feel of the brand is continued in the high quality interior of the GLE 63 Coupé, which is characterised by a resolutely sporty ambience.

The AMG seats are upholstered in Nappa leather, and provide optimum lateral support and have an AMG specific seat pattern layout, with an “AMG” badge in the front backrests. Other leather variants are optionally available.

The S variant is further identified by its grey seat belts and contrasting seat top stitching in silver grey. Individually adjustable ambient lighting comes as standard, with a three spoke AMG Performance steering wheel with aluminium shift paddles also on board.

In the base model, the steering wheel rim is lined in black Nappa leather, and in the S variant in Nappa leather/DINAMICA micro fibre. Both feature a black 12-o’clock marking, and AMG steering wheel buttons for instant access to go fast settings.

The centre console includes an AMG specific control unit with additional switches that are used to regulate the 3-stage ESP, the manual transmission mode, the adaptive damping system, the optional AMG Performance exhaust system and the vehicle ride level.

There’s also AMG brushed stainless steel sports pedals with rubber studs, and door sill panels and black floor mats with “AMG” lettering. A wide range of high quality interior trim elements are available for further individualisation of the interior.

Further information, pricing and options will be announced closer to its Australian launch, later in the year.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 4MATIC+ CoupeMercedes-AMG GLE 63 4MATIC+ Coupe
Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 4MATIC+ Coupe


Production of the third generation Bentley Flying Spur gets underway

2020 Bentley Flying Spur
2020 Bentley Flying Spur

IT shares only its name with its predecessor, but the third generation of Bentley’s luxury four-door Flying Spur grand tourer is now in handcrafted production, with the first customers receiving their cars in early 2020.

The all new model delivers the duality of sports sedan agility and modern limousine refinement, and is a technological tour de force of innovation, connectivity, passenger comfort and driver excitement.

Designed, engineered and built in Great Britain, the new Spur has undergone more than 1.6 million kilometres of development testing.

Bentley Motors board member Peter Bosch described the new Flying Spur as a leap forward in combining state of the art high technology with a modern ultra-luxurious interior and exterior.

“Every single example is an artisanal piece of art, handcrafted using the finest, authentic materials and surfaces that are unmistakably Bentley. The car truly delivers the duality of sports sedan agility and contemporary limousine refinement.”

The most advanced Bentley ever built, every single vehicle goes through a process that sees nearly 200 people handcraft every Flying Spur, through 84 different assembly stages at the company’s factory in Crewe.

Completely reinvented in 2019 to showcase a more purposeful and emotional design, the new look four door luxury sedan features an athletic stance thanks to an extended wheelbase, while a retractable Bentley ‘Flying B’ mascot makes its first appearance.

The cabin is unmistakably Bentley, with contemporary design lines flowing from the new wing-themed fascia through the passenger areas. Optimal comfort and style are delivered by completely new-design fluted leather seats, with diamond quilting throughout.

In the front, the unique Bentley rotating display is the central feature of an exquisitely crafted dashboard, while the centre piece of the rear seat experience is a state-of-the-art detachable touchscreen remote control that can operate all the major functions.

The application of light plays an integral part in the Flying Spur experience too, with a panoramic glass sunroof that stretches the full length of the roof and an innovative multi-configuration mood lighting system both available.

Three superlative audio systems, including a range-topping 2,200W Naim system, will equally satisfy those seeking the ultimate aural thrill. A wide range of advanced connectivity features are also available, as are cutting-edge driver assistance systems.

These include a night vision infra-red camera, traffic assist, and a head-up display, while electronic all-wheel steering is used for the first time in a Bentley, combining with active all-wheel drive and Bentley’s dynamic ride electric anti-roll system.

The new Flying Spur is powered by an enhanced version of Bentley’s 6.0-litre, twin-turbocharged W12, which sets the benchmark in performance, agility and dynamism for the segment.

Mated to an advanced dual-clutch eight-speed transmission, it has a top speed of 333km/h and can run the 0-100km/h spring in 3.8 seconds.