Holiday Flashback – Touring in the Hyundai iMax CRDi

Last year,  my family travelled to the Gold Coast from Sydney in the Hyundai iMax CRDi thanks to Paul Wakeling Hyundai.  This is my review from the adventure…seems like only yesterday!

The Hyundai iMax is so incredibly spacious - fits 8 people comfortably and all their luggage.

The annual summer holiday road trip conjures up images reminiscent of a B-grade horror movie. Hot and sweaty family members frustrated and on the verge of killing each other. Sharing their limited space for endless hours in a crowded metal box and all to the spine-chilling looping soundtrack of “Are we there yet?”

However, this year’s trip to the Gold Coast was to be a welcome break from that nightmare.  This year my family was driving up in the new Hyundai iMax and we were actually looking forward to the trip as much as the destination.  Our travelling tribe consisted of three adults, two teenagers and two young children and we had originally planned to take two cars.  Now with the iMax we were able to travel together, share the driving and save money on fuel.

Our concern with having only one vehicle for seven people was predominantly luggage space.  Many people movers have plenty of passenger room but compromise on space in the luggage area.  Our jaws dropped at the sight of the massive 851 litre boot in the iMax which had more than enough room for all our luggage plus a stroller.
We put the booster seat in the third row, loaded up the kids with their pillows and blankets and hit the open road while it was still dark and quiet.

The kids were quick to get comfy in the spacious seats and sleep for the first few hours of the trip.  The middle row of seats reclined for additional comfort and there was plenty of leg room.  Independent rear seat air conditioning let the kids in the back alter the temperature in their space.

The Hyundai iMax CRDi has a diesel engine which offers amazing power as well as fuel efficiency.  With a van loaded up to capacity with passengers and luggage I expected sluggish performance, particularly on inclines, however, this couldn’t have been further from the truth.  The iMax travelled effortlessly and smoothly the whole way.  Up hills, the diesel engine powered away at speed without the need to go down a gear!  I was very impressed.

Diesel has become a popular option for many reasons, but mainly for its fuel efficiency. The distance from Sydney to the Gold Coast is approximately 1,000km. The iMax has a 75 litre fuel tank and does about 8.5 litres/100km. The price for diesel per litre at this time was $1.25 so the total price for the trip up was roughly around $110.00.

Diesel cars chug like small trucks when you’re idle but once in motion the iMax travels smoothly and quietly. The iMax definitely doesn’t handle like a truck either.  Reverse parking large cars is a little scary, however, with Rear Park Assist, Power Steering and decent sized mirrors, parking was a breeze.

Other additional stand out features of the iMax include cup holders galore (good sized ones too), practical storage compartments such as over head for sunglasses and dual glove compartment.  Sliding doors on both sides, 6-speaker CD/MP3 audio system and interior lights everywhere (even on the driver and passenger vanity mirrors). All this luxury encased in a sleek exterior available in four stylish colours, grey titanium, sleek silver, blue diamond and ceramic white.

Overall, it was very easy to see how the iMax Turbo Diesel Manual rose above the likes of Honda Odyssey Luxury, Mitsubishi Grandis VR-X and Toyota Tarago to take out Australia’s Best People Mover in 2008 (and 2009). and at only around $46,220 drive away it also wins my vote on true value for money.

HOLIDAY ‘MUST HAVE’ :  The Schneider roof mounted DVD player.  It doesn’t come standard but is truly worth installing for peace and quiet from bored passengers in the back. It includes two infrared wireless headphones and is Playstation compatible.

Enjoy the Christmas & Summer holidays and drive safely!

*Hyundai iMax CRDi courtesy of  Paul Wakeling Hyundai Mill Rd Campbelltown – 02 46 28 1444


Great Wall Motors X240 SUV

I’m sitting here at the launch of the new X240 SUV the latest addition to the Chinese brand Great Wall Motors who have only been in Australia since June this year.

Great Wall Motors launched with only a range of Utes, V240 and SA220, which have done very well, and are expanding in style into the passenger market with the new SUV X240.

I’ll elaborate more on features later but just wanted to give you a glimpse at what you can get for $23,990!

Cruze-ing in the new Holden Cruze CD Diesel and CDX Petrol

Cruising in the new Holden Cruze - CDX Petrol auto shown

Cruising in the new Holden Cruze - CDX Petrol auto shown

Who would drive the new Holden Cruze?

The new Holden Cruze appeals to a range of people from ’empty nesters’ to first-car owners because of the affordable price tag.

The Cruze is particularly ideal for women who do a lot of city driving because of the practical size, fuel efficiency and stylish, good looks.

First impressions

The Cruze has the distinctly solid, yet sleek, Holden front and modern lines, which flow back to a nicely compact boot. It’s no wonder the Cruze has become a popular choice in the small-to-mid-size car range.

The interior is equally impressive with the contoured cloth sports seats in the front of the CD and heated leather seats in the CDX, chrome trim, and ice-blue illumination on the instrumentation against the dark tones (gives it a very sporty feel).

My favourite features

Quite a bit of thought has gone into the Cruze design by Holden and offers practical features such as:

* “Follow Me Home” illumination, which allows you to program your headlights to stay on for up to 3 minutes after you leave the car. That’s just enough time to let you open your front door at night and get safely inside. Very clever!

* The 400 litre-boot belies its compact exterior and has remote keyless entry, which is a big help when your hands are full.

* The multi-function steering wheel gives you the convenience of controlling the audio system and cruise control without taking your eyes off the road.

* MP3 Plug and Play functionality allows you have all the music you want to hear on your iPod played on the car audio system.

* Automatically locking doors provide added personal safety on the road.

* Reverse Park sensors in the CDX

* Have I already mentioned the heated leather seats in the CDX???

CDX Cruze auto interior - heated leather seats, chrome trim on dash and intrumentation cluster

CDX Cruze auto interior - heated leather seats, chrome trim on dash and intrumentation cluster

The Drive

The CD Diesel manual encountered some turbo lag on the lower gears but quickly gained power, particularly on the open road. The chug of the 2.0-litre diesel engine could barely be heard in the cabin, which offered a smooth, quiet ride.

The front seats were snug, comfortable and supportive and the manual transmission offered nice, smooth gear changes.

Although designed for safety, I found the Cruze CD compromised somewhat on visibility and could have used rear-park sensors, which come standard in the Holden Cruze CDX model.

The automatic transmission seemed to take a considerable amount of power from the CDX Petrol. The manual was lovely to drive with smooth gear changes, however still lacked the power of the diesel.

Both cars felt solid on bumpy roads and hugged curves and corners nicely. Maneuverability was exceptional for parking in tight spaces and city driving.

Fuel economy

Fuel economy is a big selling feature of the Holden Cruze with the CD Diesel using around 5.7 litres of fuel per 100km. The petrol model uses slightly more at 7 litres per 100km but still travels more efficiently and cheaper than other 4-cylinder cars.

Safety features

The Holden Cruze proudly boasts a 5-star ANCAP rating, which is the highest rating possible. All the essential, evasive safety acronyms are offered including ESC (Electronic Stability Control), 4-wheel disk brakes with ABS (Anti-Lock Brake System), Traction Control (TCS), Brake Assist (BA) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD).

Should you be involved in an accident, there are 6 airbags: front driver and passenger; dual-front-side; and dual-side curtain. The high-strength construction of the body includes front and rear crumple zones and reinforced single welded unit passenger safety cell.

Room for business and pleasure

The Holden Cruze is a comfortable ride for 5 people with reasonable leg- and head-room for front and rear passengers. There’s also ample space in the 400-litre boot for sports equipment, groceries and school bags.

60/40 split fold rear seats allow more space for larger items or holiday luggage. Handy storage compartments include the sunglasses holder in the front and front seatback pockets. There are 4 cupholders – 2 adjustable ones in the front centre console and 2 in the rear centre armrest – plus 4 bottle holders in each door pocket.

How ‘Green’ is the Holden Cruze?

CD Diesel (manual)

Overall rating:                                    3.5/5 stars
Fuel consumption – combined:   5.7 litres/100km
CO2 emissions:                                   149g/km
Air pollution rating:                         5/10 (10 being the best)
Greenhouse rating:                           7.5/10 (10 being the best)

CDX Petrol (manual)

Overall rating:                                    3.5/5 stars
Fuel consumption – combined:   7.0 litres/100km
CO2 emissions:                                   166g/km
Air pollution rating:                         7/10 (10 being the best)
Greenhouse rating:                           6.5/10 (10 being the best)

Rating from

Other things you should know

The Holden Cruze comes in 2 models – CD and CDX, which both look great in the each of the 8 colours offered. Think: Arctic White, Chilli Red, Carbon Flash Black, Mercury Silver, Iced Blue, Moroccan Blue, Light Gold, and Pewter Grey.

The CD and CDX model both offer the 4-cylinder, 1.8-litre ECOTEC engine; while the CD model offers a 2-litre Turbo Diesel option.

The price ranges from $23,990 for a Cruze CD Petrol manual to $28,990 for the CDX Petrol Auto. Metallic paint is extra.

The latest news to come from Holden is that they are introducing a diesel variant to the CDX in 2010.  That would definitely be my Cruze of choice.  The luxurious CDX interior combined with the power of diesel, in a manual of course!

Launch of the new Holden SIDI Commodore

janina-commodoreI had the pleasure of attending the launch of the new Holden Commodore. Being my first car launch – I had no idea what to expect. However, once at Melbourne Airport there was no time to ponder as I was whisked away in a coach full of equally curious attendees for our 2-day introduction to the new and improved MY 2010 Holden Commodore VE and VM models; and the new SIDI (Spark Ignition Direct Injection) engine.

We were warmly greeted by Holden staff including Holden’s new Chairman and Managing Director Alan Batey. Mr Batey’s opening message was clear – Holden are looking to a future of reduced dependence to foreign fuel and developing cleaner alternatives including electric, hybrid, biofuels and fuel cell technology. He emphasised that this launch was about the present and the innovation Holden is making available to today’s driver.
The Power and the Passion

The morning featured presentations by Holden’s top engineers and executives who were genuinely excited about the new SIDI engine technology. A cutaway SIDI engine demonstrated how the new technology increases fuel efficiency by directly injecting fuel into the combustion chamber producing less CO2 emissions while offering more power and refined performance. Admittedly, the technicalities of how this all happens were a little over my head but the fact that this meant saving dollars at the fuel pump needed no further explanation.

The new SIDI engine offers up to 13 per cent better fuel efficiency than the previous engine averaging 9.3 litres/100km from 11.2litres/100km. Keeping in line with Holden’s view to a greener future, the reduction of carbon emissions from the new engine has improved up to 14 per cent with 221g/km from 256g/km on the Omega Sportwagen.

A Drive in the Country

After lunch, we were escorted to the colourful convoy of new V6 Commodores lined up outside and together with our Holden navigators, proceeded our mini-drive around the country roads of outer Melbourne.

The weather had turned and it was raining as we began our drive, which provided a good test ground. The combination of refined suspension and new Bridgestone Turanza low roll resistance tyres provided good handling and comfortable ride through wet, bitumen, gravel and dirt roads.

The new SIDI engine provided power off the mark, which gives you confidence to cross that tricky intersection in city traffic or overtake on the open road. The new engine is also a lot quieter than its predecessor and to me felt equally, if not slightly more, powerful. The new 6-speed automatic transmission was also smooth and seamless suffering no lag or loss of power between gear changes.

I was especially keen to get behind the wheel of the SV6 Ute, as I’d never driven one, and was surprised to find it handled as well as the sedan or Sportwagon. Actually, sitting in the driver’s seat looking forward, it’s hard to distinguish the difference between the models. All were comfortable, stylish, sporty and spacious and easy to drive and park.

Lean, Mean Green Machine

Day two started with an early breakfast in preparation for our drive from Melbourne to Albury. The day was split into four legs, driving different models on each and we were competing against each other for the coveted title of Most Fuel Efficient Driver.

Not being the overly competitive type, I chose to drive as I would normally and still ended up averaging between 7.5 and 8.5 litres per 100km, which although impressive, wasn’t enough to even achieve third place.

Those who drove more conservatively achieved an average of up to 6.8L/100km on some parts of the drive, which well and truly takes the SIDI into 4-cylinder fuel economy territory. This is quite a revolution for the Commodore which has, up till now, been perceived as a ‘fuel guzzler’ and lost some popularity over the past couple of years to smaller cars.

Holden successfully demonstrated that the SIDI engine was indeed the real deal in terms of fuel efficiency by driving the MY 2010 Commodore Omega SIDI from Melbourne to Sydney on one tank of fuel – that’s around 900km on a 73-litre tank!

Less fuel consumption also means less CO2 emissions and the gives the MY 2010 Holden Commodore V6 SIDI the thumbs up with a 5.5 Greenhouse rating and overall 4 stars.

Safety First

The MY10 VE and WM Commodore range still boast 5-star ANCAP ratings with a bevy of safety features including ESC, ABS, TCS, EBD and EBA plus 6 airbags; and are anticipating a 5-star rating, pending ANCAP testing, on the V6 Ute which now boasts 6 airbags as standard.

The Sedan and Sportwagon each have 3 child restraint anchor points in the back and central locking and child lock rear doors.
Sporty Style

While there has been no change to the overall body of the Commodore, it remains contemporary and sporty, safe and spacious. Holden have, however, introduced two new metallic colours to their already popular spectrum – Poison Ivy, a sophisticated and eye-catching green, and Wildfire a light burnt orange that sure to be popular in the sportier models.

The interior is conservative but sporty with a no-nonsense, uncluttered dashboard and easy to read trip computer. The steering wheel feels nice and solid and comes with audio controls. There are various options in interior colour and trim across the range. The seats also comfortably accommodate people of all sizes, which is an important fact to consider for growing families.

Standard features across the range still include:

* Cruise control

* Power windows and exterior mirrors

* Light sensing headlights

* Multifunction Driver Display

* Steering wheel audio controls.
Room to Move

The Holden Commodore has always been popular with families and companies because of its spaciousness. The Commodore still boasts a large 496-litre boot for all your gear and plenty of leg and head room to seat 5 adults comfortably in the sedan. The Sportwagon offers a generous 2000 litre boot volume with the second row of seats folded flat.

Other handy storage features include sunglasses holder, large centre console compartment with two cupholders and fold down rear seat centre “ski” hatch.

A Little Extra Luxury

Who doesn’t like to feel spoiled?  The Commodore range really does have something for everyone. For those who appreciate the finer things in life combined with practicality, performance and fuel economy, the Calais V-series is definitely one for the shopping list.

As well as all the standard features, the top of the range Calais V-Series sedan and sportwagon offers luxurious features such as:

* Leather heated seats

* DVD player

* Rain-sensing wipers

* Driver seat and mirror positioning with memory for three

* Front and rear park assist

* Luggage net in boot

* Door entry lights

* 11 speaker, 6-disc CD/MP3 audio system

* Dual zone climate control

* Bluetooth for mobile phones.

Holden are unashamedly setting about wooing back families with the new V6 SIDI Commodore 3.0- and 3.6-litre range from its 4- and 6-cylinder competitors and after 2 days in the driver’s seat of the new range, I was convinced that Holden are well and truly back in the running to conquer this segment and remain Australia’s favourite car for the 14th year in a row.

Another reason to put the Commodore on your list is price. The only increase in price on the new range of V6 Commodores is the Omega and Berlina models by $700. The rest remain at 2009 prices.


Berlina (auto):                           $43,490 RRP
Omega sedan (auto):              $39,990 RRP
Omega Sportwagen (auto):  $41,990 RRP


SV6 Sedan (manual)       :      $42,790 RRP
Calais V     (auto)             :      $48,290 RRP
Calais V Series (auto)     :      $56,790 RRP
SV6 Ute     (manual)        :      $38,490 RRP
SV6 Sportwagon (auto) :      $45,790 RRP
Calais V Sportwagon (auto)  :      $58,790 RRP

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