2016 Holden Calais review

Let’s cut to the chase: this Calais is a land barge. A luxurious, highly annoying land barge.  Because Holden have dived so deep into the US parts bin, it doesn’t feel like an Aussie car anymore. There are so many beeps and bongs I keep expecting the car to ask me if I want fries with that. There are many, many ‘features’ that just plain irritate me. But let’s keep it nice and start with the good stuff. Compared to previous models, the interior is top notch. The Alcantara and leather appointed interior is comfortable and stylish.   Gone are the ‘like it or lump it’ footy team colours. The interior is actually cohesive and er, top notch. On a drive from Brisbane to Noosa, the air conditioning didn’t miss a beat and it was smooth sailing. The driving position is not bad either. The seats unlike their German contemporaries are comfortable. That old Buick V6 donk wheezes along in relaxo mode with a good old fashioned 4 speed auto, no CVT nonsense and picks up like buggery when you bury the right foot into the firewall. Boot space? Easily big enough to accomodate our baby gear and holiday bags for a week. No problems there. But then the annoyances kick in. This car is so soft I swear it has a jelly centre. I think it should be the Holden Kalais Krispy Kreme Stay Puft (yes I watched Ghostbusters the other day) edition. Sure it steers OK at highway speed. But around town it sounds and steers like a barge. The blind spot warning is very useful. Because the...
Why Hyundai will join V8 Supercars

Why Hyundai will join V8 Supercars

Australia, one of the most competitive car markets in the world. Also one of the highest levels of car ownership as our public transport if highly average. So how do you disrupt and differentiate in a crowded market place? The tried and true ‘race on Sunday, sell on Monday’ method. V8 Supercars with its Car Of The Future program has already attracted Nissan, Volvo and AMG Mercedes (oh we’re not meant to mention the Mercedes bit. Success has many fathers, failure’s always a bastard). But who’s next to chomp at the bit of Aussie motorsport? My money is on Hyundai to enter V8 Supercars. This is based on nothing but speculation but here’s why: The Genesis platform has a V8 in the US. So they’re eligible. Hyundai have been on the periphery of motorsport for a while. Mostly in rally based events. Now would be a good time to step up to something more mainstream. It’s highly likely that a V8 Genesis and possibly the 2 door sports coupe are on Hyundai’s product road map. Especially if Ford are bringing out the Mustang imminently. The brand is about 30 years old in Australia but is neither premium or bargain basement anymore. Now that the Chinese are moving into the bottom end of the market, it’s time to show Aussie Hyundai fans some love. Otherwise you’re just another manufacturer. Racing shows that you’re committed to forging a reputation in a market and an emotional connection to a brand. It would forge Hyundai’s reputation as a reliable manufacturer (or possibly break it, but let’s stay positive!). Handy when you’re competing against the Japanese There’s no...
Nissan Qashqai review

Nissan Qashqai review

Babies change everything. Consider me well out of my comfort zone. So for this holiday I decided to rent a safe, reliable Corolla for a trip to Byron Bay. Much to my surprise we were upgraded to a brand new Qashqai. Maybe with a baby this car will make sense. Or is it still a fat girl’s cankle with some bling? OK so the obvious joke first: it’s a Nissan Qashqai ST. They left the HI out between the S and the T to save money. There’s plenty of other places they’ve saved money too. Like the choppy suspension and body roll. Sure it has 8 gears and a colour screen, but these are not the things that make a great car. They make a car age prematurely when the new model comes in next year. For a car so high off of the ground, I have maybe an inch or two of head room (I’m 5’11” ish and the local basketball team aren’t returning my calls). It’s not roomy with a flat down baby seat either. My wife only has a few inches lead room. So there’s no real advantage here. Is there anything positive about it? Is it practical? Well the boot is quite big. So it’s great for accommodating prams. It’s the perfect height for changing nappies etc.  Fit and finish in the cabin is good quality and there’s nothing that you can’t wipe baby accidents off of (with a car that is so choppy over bumps, this is VERY necessary). With the back seats, it’s really easy to get bubba in and out of his...
Neil Young Special Deluxe review

Neil Young Special Deluxe review

Here is what I knew about Neil Young previously. He’s Canadian, old, cantankerous and a bit of a hippy. I care little for these attributes. But when I saw this book claiming to be a ‘life time in cars’ it piqued my interest. So Canada’s given us Allanis Morrisette, Justin Bieber, Tiffany and Nickelback. Oh and he played with 90s bands like Pearl Jam that never floated my boat. What could possibly go wrong? After reading Brian Johnston’s Rockers and Rollers, I’m a fan of this ‘rock and roll cars’ sub genre. That book is massively funny. It’s my go to book when I’m bed ridden, sick and need cheering up. Even if this is only about the second book in it I’m aware of. I bought it on face value alone. So here goes… Turns out Neil Young grew up in an interesting time to be a rev head. His life was about with woody surf vans, Jeeps, big finned Cadillacs, sporty British convertibles and a smathering of big Buicks. Lots of big sexy Buicks. Even the odd hearse or two to carry all his gear around in. Some were dumped reluctantly by the side of the road. Others painstakingly restored but never reassembled. Some were bought just because they looked so sexy just rusting there in the barn. What makes this book unique is that I haven’t finished reading it yet but I had to write something about it. It’s clearly pretty readable. To date I’ve not been much of a fan of Young. That could very well change. He’s illustrated the book himself and it’s punctuated...
Predicting classic cars in 2030

Predicting classic cars in 2030

Reading Unique Cars December issue, they made the point very clear that predicting this stuff is very difficult. Armed with an 1990’s book, probably found in a garage sale somewhere, some poor author’s predictions were resolutely shot down in flames with an arsenal of smart arsery and hindsight.  So naturally I thought I’d have a crack and share in the future embarassment. The challenge is they’re much harder to pick now than ever. You don’t see cars on the race track now. So HSVs and FPVs miss the mark and well and truly the point. They’re not classics because a V8 Supercar barely resembles the road car. As the costs appreciated, many of these guys will be AMGs and BMW M series by now. But what about the special editions, such as the Ford Cobra? Well there’s more investors than owners that just fang them and that’s never good news. If you haven’t seen one in a wreckers yard or up a telephone poll then it ain’t gonna be collectible. They will never appreciate just because baby boomer has moth balled one in a car cocoon in case their super fund goes bunk. Frankly you’d be better off investing in getting Charlie Sheen to mind your cocaine stash. One could argue classics ended with plastic bumpers. To a large extent you’d be right. Cool was stamped in metal and not moulded in plastic. But logic isn’t part of the equation. But what makes a classic car? In my opinion, it’s something that was cheap and plentiful, cool and relatively affordable. They’re the cars that made little kids stop and...

Volkswagen Passat – it has a big boot

It has a big boot. That’s about all you can say about this car. It’s an unusual way to start a car review but if you have any interest in cars, please stop reading now. Driving the Passat is like death of a thousand paper cuts via your accountant. It’s beige inextremis. In other words it’s deathly boring. I was driving this car by default as it’s what was on offer at Hertz Montreal. Given I only needed a car for the day to drive from Montreal to Quebec it was no big deal. It had a big boot (trunk if you’re American) and took all our luggage. I mean it took 2 full size suit cases and fairly large cabin bags effortlessly. With what it costs to rent cars here, that will have to do. Clearly this is not a German built Passat. While it looks like it was hewn from solid stone from the outside, inside the plastics feel a little sub par. This car has 60,000 on the clock and the door skin was feeling a bit flimsy. So fit and finish isn’t great. It just feels a little bit cheap. The seats weren’t exactly rock hard like other Euro Volksys either which is a bit strange. So these Mexican built cars really aren’t as solid as their Seth Efrican or Euro forebears. When it comes to the driving it’s uninvolving to say the least. It’s gutless when putting along in city traffic. Sure it cruises at highway speeds well enough. But the noise levels with winter tyres was at times unbearable. Worse still the noise...