Motoring news June 2016

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Illustration Mini badges available

MINI badge

MINI has taken the whole personalisation thing a step further with customer-created badges.

Order the new MINI Convertible, for example, and you can choose the background and name to have on your car.

The badges clip into the grille, so everyone will know exactly who is behind the wheel. We’re not sure how a “Bruce” or “Marge” badge will go down once you’re trying to sell it…

Side view of the MX-5 hardtop

MX-5 hardens up

The Mazda MX-5 family is expanding with the imminent arrival of the hard-top version, unveiled at the recent New York motor show. To be called RF, for retractable fastback, it replaces the soft-top with a clever folding hard-top that doesn’t affect the already tight boot space.

And it will still be the fastest folding hard-top in the world, with a claimed retraction time of 12 seconds.

No talk of pricing yet but expect a premium of a few thousand dollars over the soft-top models.

The MX-5 RF will also only be offered in Australia with the more powerful 2.0-litre engine, leaving the 1.5-litre exclusively for the soft-top.


Front view of the Holden black edition

Holden's black edition

With just 18 months to run until the Australian Commodore is killed off, Holden is ramping up the inevitable limited edition models. The latest addition is the Black Edition, which adds sat-nav and a head-up display to the popular SV6 and V8-powered SS models.

As the name suggests, there are also plenty of black trim details, including parts of the grille and 18-inch wheels. Black Editions cost an extra $1000.

Front view of the VW Tiguan

VW's tech push

The first all-new Volkswagen since the emissions scandal will go on sale in Australia in September. The new Tiguan SUV has been a long time coming, replacing the model that first arrived in 2008 and has had various updates since then.

Along with a suite of five four-cylinder engines, the Golf-based Tiguan is all about tech, with a customisable 12.3-inch screen for the dash, wireless charging for compatible phones and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Pricing is yet to be determined.

Dashboard view of the BMW hybrid car

BMW plugs in

There’s plenty of action due soon when it comes to plug-in hybrid cars, which can be recharged from household powerpoints and driven for up to 50 kilometres on electricity before reverting to an onboard engine.

BMW is the latest to jump on board with its electric models X5 xDrive 40e and 330e. The six-cylinder X5 and four-cylinder 3-Series – each with an electric motor and battery pack – use a claimed average of 3.3 litres and 2.1 litres per 100 kilometres, respectively.

Front view of a Kia picanto

Picanto arrives

Kia is making a pitch for sales in the micro car market, which includes the Suzuki Celerio, Nissan Micra, Mitsubishi Mirage and new Holden Barina Spark. The Kia Picanto arrives years after it went on sale overseas – and just a year before an all-new model is due here – and as a single $14,990 drive-away model. Unusually at this end of the market, there is no manual option, with a four-speed automatic the sole transmission. Power comes from a modest 1.2-litre 63kW four-cylinder engine.

Written by Toby Hagon
June 01, 2016