The Car Club
A recently article penned by Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) boss, Mike Underhill, about the use of energy saving tyres rang true to me.
Evidently you can save as much as 15c a litre by using low rolling resistance rubber, equating to as much as $500 over the life of the tyre. And secondly, the difference between a decent tyre and one purchased on cost alone can be as much as 18m in the wet (emergency stopping from 100 kmh). Moreover, a fuel consumption difference of up to seven per cent is possible between the worst and best performing economy-oriented tyres. EECA has subsequently launched an approval rating service for tyres, a tick awarded if the rubber meets certain criteria for fuel efficiency and braking in the wet.
Such an initiative should be applauded as it gives consumers some independent information on what they're getting for their money where previously they were relying on aspects like cost, brand loyality or a salesperson's recommendation.
Where the rubber meets the road is a key factor in car safety.
This year saw some fabulous new entries into the two-wheeled arena, though because of hype and presales we couldn't always get to ride and review all of them.
Examples include BMW's new S 1000 R, a naked litre fun bike we never threw a leg over, and a host of new Hondas, whisked away on a nationwide roadshow so we got no more than a taste of those.
Pity as the BMW and Honda's CB650F might well have been prime contenders.
First though, a quick recap of the hot contenders we actually did ride.
With the rejigged Car of the Year categories sorted, and the winners of each outlined a few weeks ago (check our previous post for a recap on how the six finalists were decided), it was time for one final test to find the best car of 2014.
To determine our overall winner six judges drive each of the contenders back-to-back, scoring them all out of 100 covering five broad criteria, the first of which is design. This takes into account styling, safety and whether the car meets expectations of a vehicle from its particular class.
Then we consider the performance of the powertrain, including its environmental impact, while driving dynamics assesses the vehicle's on-road handling, steering, ride quality and overall refinement.
Scores for practicality take into account the car's ergonomics, the ease of entry, passenger accommodations and the vehicle's overall versatility.
So what do you call a Mini hatch that has five doors instead of three?
Why, the Mini Cooper Hatch 5-Door, of course. Take the three-door, stretch the wheelbase, add two rear doors and you've the Mini for small families.
You can squeeze regular sized adults in the rear but don't expect them to sit happily there for too long. Sure, the headroom is fine but leg and foot room aren't as generous, and entry and egress are hardly wonderful either.
So what you have here is something ideal for two adults, and two kids beyond car seat years, but not yet teenagers.
Skoda continues to expand locally. The first five years in Godzone weren't flash, with fewer than 100 cars retailed in each 12-month period, and the brand experienced the same speed wobbles as every car maker during the GFC.
However, sales have been on the rise ever since, with over 500 units moved in 2011, and this year almost 800 Skodas will be retailed.
The forecast for 2015 is to top 1000 new cars and the five-year plan includes a two per cent share of the overall market, which will see Skoda push through the 2000-unit mark in 2020. Heady stuff.
Skoda believes it has the models to compete, particularly with a new Fabia due here in the first quarter - hopefully this time it looks better than a box - and a new Superb towards the end of next year. A bigger SUV than the likeable Yeti isn't due until the end of 2016.
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