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January 2013 Newsletter

2012 Toyota 86 GTS

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Recently crowned 2012 Drive car of the year, the new coupe is the most dramatic Toyota newcomer in many generations and ticks all the right boxes from its styling to driving enjoyment and the crucial starting price. The 86 is one of the most enjoyable cars you will drive, combining excellent grip and balance with a magnificent ride and steering that keeps you totally in touch with the road.

Toyota Australia has delivered by providing value without going crazy. With a price tag from $29,990 up to $35,490 making it very affordable for what it is. It is meant to be experience by as many driving enthusiasts as possible and this value will certainly help that.

The 86 packages everything from seven airbags to alloy wheels, air-con and power steering, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes. The pricing is just the icing for the 86 fans who have created an over-full waiting list in Australia.

boost2Toyota promises five-star ANCAP for the 86 and backs it with seven airbags including protection for the driver’s knees, solid work on the front end to protect pedestrians, and big brakes with ABS and ESP stability control. But its trump card is the dynamic ability which means an 86 driver has far more ability to avoid a potential threat than someone in, say, a Camry.

The steering and chassis balance are the highlights, and what makes the car so enjoyable. We got an early taste with some low-speed drifting in Japan last year but, on real roads with real challenges, the 86 clearly has the right stuff for Australia. But it’s not perfect. Even for the price.

2012 Range Rover Evoque

boost3The new Range Rover Evoque is a vehicle that pushes the boundaries for the off-road specialist – it’s also the smallest, lightest and most efficient Range Rover ever made. It’s a nice vehicle to drive on-road is certainly a improvement. Priced at $59,875 this is set to be a great seller.

It all starts with the design, which is arguably the most important aspect for many car buyers. First impressions include the ultra slim headlights and modern grille work, a coupe-like profile that draws the eye towards the rear with its narrowing glass work, finished off with flared wheel arches to give it a stocky stance.

There’s also stitched fabric on almost every surface including the dashboard, a stylish instrument cluster with translucent elements, comfortable leather-clad seats and an uncluttered center stack thanks to an electric park brake. The steering wheel is lavish, covered with smooth leather and high quality buttons for cruise control and Bluetooth, and the high riding position provides a good view of the environment ahead.

boost4There are several standard features such as keyless entry, push-button starting and hill start assist that make living with the Evoque that little bit easier, while LED fog lights and 17-inch alloy wheels add a little eye candy to the exterior. Climate control air-con is nice, as is the touch-sensitive map lights and voice control recognition for Bluetooth telephony.

Also impressive is how well the Evoque navigates tight inner city laneways and dense traffic, and after piloting the car through various environments, it becomes clear the vehicle’s natural habitat is the urban jungle.

For an SUV the Evoque is remarkably easy to live with and has the sort of fit and finish you’d expect of a premium German brand. It’s fun to drive and retains sufficient practicality despite the show-stopping design

Toyota Camry Hybrid H

boost5Recently taking out the title of Best Medium Car under $50,000 in the “Australia’s Best Car” awards and Drive Family car of the year, the Toyota Camry Hybrid is not one to be overlooked. With price tags starting at only $34,990 if there is to be a car that can finally and permanently place hybrid technology into the mainstream of vehicle buyers, this is it.

This Hybrid has been given a huge tick of approval for consumers. When designing this new model, Toyota has hatched something more than a little special for the mid-size family category. It impresses on nearly every measure that matters. Aside from its ability to bypass a petrol pump, you’d never know about the battery in the boot – it is, quite simply, a very fine car.

The interior was designed to impress and has certainly has succeeded. Designed with seats and door trims, brushed metal highlights and classy leather-stitched dash is really quite superb, with nicely-placed controls and serene composition of lines and surfaces..

Also, importantly, there is an airy spaciousness evident from both passenger and driver’s seat, with very good vision all round, that adds to the enjoyment of the drive. In both H and HL models, the seats are well shaped, offer good under-thigh support, and are easily set just right.

The Hybrid can also drive on the electric motor alone perfect for getting quietly around car parks and grid-locked city streets. It’s quiet and road noise suppression and overall refinement.

It’s also firm down below but free of jarring and ‘crashing’ over poor and broken surfaces. Overall this new Toyota in its tuning for Australian roads and for dynamic balance and compliance, the new Camry Hybrid can take the game up to some of the premium Europeans.

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Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 SE

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Fresh from winning the 2012 Best All-Terrain Four Wheel title in the Australia’s Best Car Award for the eighth year in a row was the Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 SE!.

Land Rover’s Discovery 4 is fast becoming an iconic vehicle, and the design changes from Discovery 3 to 4 helped soften the look inside and out. For 2012 the tweaks have been kept to a minimum, and include new steering column stalks with chrome bezels and a new pebble-like design for the smart key. More than that, the entry-level audio system has been upgraded to incorporate a colour..

Thanks to its unique blend of luxury, refinement and unstoppable off-road ability it seems buyers are continually falling in love with this four wheel drive. Priced at $95,000 this vehicle is constantly developing and evolving to keep up with today’s consumer’s wants and needs. This price tag generously reflects the standard of equipment used to manufacture this luxurious 4WD.

Inside, the Land Rover blends rugged practicality with tasteful luxury. The chunky controls and high-class materials impress, while the lofty and comfortable driving position gives you a great view of the road. Recent updates include the rotary gear selector and simplified controls for the excellent Terrain Response system.

boost8On the move, refinement is first-rate and the Land Rover is an extremely accomplished long-distance cruiser. Take into account its mighty off-road ability, and few cars are as versatile as the Discovery. Plus, the new eight-speed automatic gearbox reduces its thirst for diesel considerably, although the car remains less efficient than its rivals here.

The Discovery is an exceptionally versatile vehicle: a grade-one off-roader, proper seven-seater and rapid and luxurious way to cover distances. The 2012 model sees significant improvements to the ride and handling.