News Wrap: All the latest from May 2020
News Wrap May 2020.
Here’s Unsealed 4X4’s News Wrap May 2020, with all the latest news from the world of four-wheel driving.
Images purporting to show the new face of the 2021 Toyota HiLux have been leaked online.
The images were originally published by Milele Motors, an international exporter of vehicles to Asia and Africa. Milele claims the images came from from an internal Toyota marketing brochure, and they appear to match up with spy shots of a disguised Toyota HiLux that was spotted testing in Thailand earlier this year.
The 2021 HiLux is expected to be a heavily revised version of the current model and, if accurate, the leaked brochure images show a HiLux with a far more prominent grille, as well as a refreshed rear-end with a reshaped tailgate, new rear bumper, and new LED taillights and turn signals.
The 2021 HiLux is expected to be officially unveiled around July this year. Chances are it will retain the current HiLux’s 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine, albeit with some upgrades to boost refinement and performance.
What do you think of the styling of the new Lux?
Great Wall Motors to launch P Series Ranger and HiLux rival in Australia later this year.
Despite the massive impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus on the world’s automotive industry, Great Wall Motors (GWM) has managed to ramp-up production in China and sales for the brand are up a claimed 499% in March 2020 compared to the previous month, with 60,048 vehicles sold.
Notably, sales of the all-new P-Series pick-up, called Pao in China (which translates as Cannon) were up 431% in March, with 5503 units sold. This is the vehicle that GWM hopes will make it one of the top-three pick-up manufacturers in the world, and in Australia it will be pitched as a serious competitor for the likes of the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger.
Launched in China late last year, the new ute is slated for an Australian launch towards the end of this year. It’s based on GWM’s P71 separate-chassis platform (shared with the Haval H9 4×4 wagon) and will feature a strut-type independent front suspension and a live-axle rear-end. While the P-Series comes with coil-springs in China, it’s likely at least some Aussie-spec variants will have leaf springs, and it’s been reported that the Australian arm of GWM has requested a minimum a one-tonne payload and at least a 3000kg towing capacity.
The P-Series ute is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine (140kW/360Nm) in China but Unsealed 4X4 has been told that Australian-market variants will get a four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. While the turbo-diesel engine’s capacity and power and torque figures have not been announced at this stage, more details will be revealed soon.
Like the petrol-engine variant, the oiler will be mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission and the P Series will have a full-time 4×4 system with a lockable centre diff and a two-speed transfer case. The auto will have four driving modes: Auto, Economy, Sport and 4 Low, and there will be a rear diff lock option to maximise off-road capability. It will also feature an electric/auto park brake.
The P Series Double Cab is about the same size as a Ford Ranger, measuring 5410mm (L), 1934mm (W) and 1886mm (H); for reference, a Ranger XLT Double Cab measures 5446mm (L), 1867mm (W) and 1821mm (H). The P Series tub is a claimed 1520mm x 1520mm compared to Ranger’s 1549mm x 1560mm. At 3230mm, the P Series wheelbase is only 10mm longer than Ranger.
GWM Australia’s PR Manager Edward Mason-Jeffries would not confirm if the Cannon nameplate would be applied to the P Series ute when it’s finally revealed here later this year, but suggested an announcement would not be too far away.
What is clear is that the top-spec versions of the P Series will be seriously well equipped, with standard safety inclusions such as 360-degree cameras, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control. It may even offer some level of aided driving, environment awareness, programmed decision-making and other advanced driving functions.
For those who love advanced technology, top-spec variants of the P Series ute feature a large centre touchscreen and what’s known as V2X technology, allowing for functions such as intelligent voice control and intelligent dynamic information services. The interior design looks to be pretty special, with quality trim and fittings, rear air conditioning vents, various power outlets and a number of storage pockets and bins.
It’s likely that right-hand drive production of the P-Series, including those destined to be sold in Australia, will eventually take place in GWM’s new Rayong, Thailand plant. This facility used to produce the Holden Colorado, and GWM bought it from General Motors after the US-based manufacturer decided to get out of right-hand drive vehicle production.
If you can put up with the music, you can check out some footage of the P Series in action here or if you’d like to see a Chinese celebrity by the name of Black Cat running alongside a P Series, hit this link, but be warned, there’s a fair bit of patriotic flag waving at the end of the clip, which has obviously been filmed for the Chinese market.
There are currently 45 Great Wall dealers in Australia and while it might take a few years for GWM to get up to speed with the likes of Toyota and Ford, there’s no doubt the P Series ute is the Chinese manufacturer’s most serious contender to date. The fact the P Series will likely undercut HiLux and Ranger on price by a fair whack won’t hurt its chance of success either.
Mahindra has updated its MY2020 PikUp headlined by a revised front-end and added features.
The MY2020 Mahindra PikUp has been given a new signature grille, static bending projection headlights, LED DRLs (daytime running lights) and a new fog light assembly, along with a range of equipment upgrades.
The PikUp is available in two specification levels: S6+ and S10+. Both are powered by an mHawk 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that makes 103kW of power at 4000rpm and 330Nm of torque from 1600-2800rpm. It’s mated to a six-speed manual gearbox which in turn delivers power to the wheels via a part-time 4×4 two-speed transfer case. An Eaton auto-locking mechanical rear differential completes the driveline package.
The PikUp is a pretty basic bit of kit, with traditional separate chassis architecture, independent front suspension with torsion bars and a live-axle rear with leaf springs. It’s this simplicity and growing reputation for reliability that has seen it become popular with rural buyers around the country. It offers respectable off-road capability thanks to good low-range gearing, the aforementioned locking rear diff and decent ground clearance.
The 4×4 Single Cab S6+ with aluminium tray costs $27,990 drive-away and now features standard cruise control, Bluetooth phone connection, upgraded seat fabric and driver’s seat height adjustment. It’s also available with a new-for-2020 Pastoral Pack for $35,990 drive-away, which adds a winch compatible steel bull bar, a bash plate, side brush rails, a snorkel, a tow bar, canvas seat covers and vinyl floor covering.
The Dual Cab S10+ costs $32,990 drive-away and it scores an upgraded seven-inch touchscreen with a high-resolution reversing camera and standard Satnav. It comes with a factory tub or can be ordered with a range of optional aluminium or steel trays.
Mahindra offers a five-year/100,000km warranty on the PikUp with five-years of roadside assistance and a four/year/55,000km capped-price servicing program. For more details head to the Mahindra website.
Diesel Care is passing on big savings allowing diesel 4×4 owners to power up for less using a Steinbauer Power Module.
The Steinbauer factory in Austria recently announced price reductions of up to 45 per cent on power modules in an effort to help the economy stay afloat, keep cashflow moving and offer continued support for its customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the company’s Australian distributor Diesel Care is passing on those savings to Aussie four-wheel drivers, which are available until 30 June, 2020.
Diesel Care says the Steinbauer Power Module is one of the easiest and safest ways to modify a modern diesel engine’s performance, which is achieved by electronically changing the engine management system’s parameters. The diesel experts attest that the Steinbauer Power Module is “a highly advanced, completely programmable electronic computer module. No footprint is left on the ECU, each module is programmed to a specific vehicle, ready to plug in and experience the results.”
The Steinbauer Power Module is a plug-in unit. There are several advantages of this set-up and, as demonstrated by Diesel Care, “The device is separate to the vehicle Electronic Control Unit (ECU) and is connected into the system harness by means of connector plugs.
“They’re sometimes called “piggy-back” systems and can be removed easily unlike other forms of power enhancement such as ECU remapping, also known as flash tuning. Remapping is the practice of downloading a different map into the vehicle’s ECU and opens up the possibility to change many parameters of a vehicle’s performance.”
Unsealed 4X4’s Pat Callinan recently met with Gavin Bradford from Diesel Care to discuss some of the common issues found when trying to diagnose a diesel 4×4 that has been remapped. According to Gavin, the biggest concern in the workshop is trying find a problem that may not actually be in the vehicle but in the remap.
“When we start to diagnose vehicles, we’ll ask our customers to get it back to standard before we start to work on them, otherwise we can spend lots of time and money chasing a problem that’s not actually there,” explains Gavin.
Taking a vehicle back to standard after a remap can be challenging and costly. In most cases the vehicle will have to be returned to the company that performed the reflash, or it will have to be taken to a dealer workshop so it can be set back to standard. Another problem that can arise is when a vehicle goes back to the dealer for its regular service, ECU updates are often performed, which can result in the loss of a reflash.
The above issues are not a problem with fitment of a Steinbauer Power Module because it can be easily disconnected to revert back to standard, allowing for easy troubleshooting.
With current restrictions in place due to social distancing, the Steinbauer Power Module can be ordered online and delivered safely for an easy install at home in your own shed, or it can be purchased through Diesel Care’s wide distribution network.
Diesel Care has over 70 years working with diesel engines and provides the most relevant knowledge and technical advice for both customers and qualified mechanics in this everchanging industry.
Volkswagen’s most kitted-out Amarok yet, the limited-run Amarok V6 580S, will go on sale in June priced from $70,990.
No doubt hoping to reinvigorate sales after the new-car market took a massive hit in April, Volkswagen will launch its most kitted-out Amarok yet, set to go on sale in June this year.
The highly specified Amarok V6 580S builds on the standard equipment of the top-spec Amarok Ultimate by adding a body-coloured moulded styling bar, a roof-mounted light bar with two 86W LED light bars, a premium roll cover and the option of signature Carbon Steel Grey metallic paint. It’s also available in Candy White and Deep Black Pearl effect colours. Inside, the Amarok V6 580S’s interior is no-less special with ‘Art Velour’ seat trim and heated front seats.
“Customers have always chosen the Amarok V6 for its power, off-road capability and domestic duty drivability, but one of the other aspects our customers have come to expect from the Amarok is just how well-kitted it is, in any spec,” Volkswagen Australia’s Nick Reid said.
“The Amarok V6 580S raises the bar yet again with a host of high-value special features that are not only practical, but lift the on-road presence of the most powerful ute in its class,” Reid added.
Limited to just 200 examples, the Amarok V6 580S is powered by Volkswagen’s 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 that produces class-leading peak power and torque figures of 190kW (200kW on overboost) and 580Nm respectively. The engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and the Amarok V6 has a full-time 4×4 system with a Torsen centre differential.
Other standout features on the Amarok V6 580S include 20-inch Talca gloss-black alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, front and rear park distance control front and a reversing camera. As well as the Art Velour seat trim and heated front seats, the Amarok V6 580S also gets black headlining and pillar trims, and Climatronic air conditioning.
Want to buy an Amarok from home? That’s right! You no longer have to head to a dealer to buy a new ute because Volkswagen has expanded its online configuration and purchasing capability.
If you don’t feel like driving all over town looking for a new ute, no worries, because now you can buy an Amarok from home. That’s right! All you have to do to purchase a new Amarok, or any other Volkswagen for that matter, is go to the Volkswagen online ordering website, drop a $500 deposit and then the designated dealer will make contact within 48 hours to complete the purchase and manage the vehicle delivery.
Buyers can choose from vehicles already in stock using the website’s Stock-Locator tool or they can configure their own vehicle, including the new Amarok V6 Core 500 manual variant we tested recently.
“This works for the customer in terms of greatly increasing choice and further enhancing ease of purchase,” Volkswagen Director Customer Experience and Marketing Jason Bradshaw said.
“Our Dealership Partners, which are always the completion point of purchase and delivery, also directly benefit from these enhancements, ensuring that they are able to fulfil their customers’ needs in an even more timely manner.
“The degree of flexibility and interactivity in Volkswagen’s online ordering capability is unmatched by certain comparable brands. There is additional functionality in development to further advance the experience for customers.”
But what if you have a vehicle to trade in on a new Volkswagen? Not a problem. Jason Bradshaw said the trade-in valuation component of the website came online four weeks ago, and since then more than 1000 people had submitted their details and agreed to dealer contact.
“Those are leads that our dealers would not otherwise have had,” Jason Bradshaw said, adding, “While it is reassuring that 54 per cent of these valuations have been completed by existing Volkswagen customers, it’s encouraging that the remainder are being completed by owners of rival brands.”
To buy a ute from the comfort of your home, head to the Volkswagen online ordering website.
Insurance company AAMI has released its latest data highlighting the location of Australia’s animal collision hotspots, and it shows that those living in the nation’s capital should take extra care when driving.
The information on Australia’s Animal Collision Hotspots is particularly pertinent heading into the winter months because, according to the insurer, there is usually a 15 per cent jump in animal strikes between May and August each year.
“Now is the time for drivers to keep their eyes peeled for wildlife crossing roads, and be extra vigilant especially at dawn and dusk when visibility can be difficult, and nocturnal animals are more active,” AAMI’s Head of Motor Claims Anna Cartwright says.
The data on Australia’s Animal Collision Hotspots was compiled from analysis of more than 21,000 animal collision claims in the 12 months between 1 February 2019 and 31 January 2020, and it revealed that Canberra is the country’s most dangerous hotspot. At a state level, New South Wales accounts for almost one third of all animal-related vehicle accidents, closely followed by Victoria.
This winter could be especially bad when it comes to animal strikes after the recent devastating bushfires that have left many native animals displaced.
“As we head into winter, we may see increased activity, particularly from nocturnal wildlife as they cross roads in search of food and water, which we saw after the drought, increasing the likelihood of them being hit,” Kristie Newton from WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service) says.
“As native animals come closer to the road to feed, drivers should be extra vigilant especially near water sources like creeks or gullies where thick fog can occur and reduce drivers’ visibility,” Ms Newton warns.
Here is a list of the five animal collision hotspots in each state as ranked by the AAMI data:
New South Wales
- St George
- Margaret River
- Port Augusta
- Mount Gambier
- Coober Pedy
- George Town
Australian Capital Territory
This infographic video shows where the animal collision hotspots are, and it offers some sage advice on how to avoid an animal strike and what to do if you can’t.
It seems the team at Unsealed 4X4 was not the only one that thought a few DIY videos would be a good idea while locked down by the crappy coronavirus.
The Narva Garage DIY series provides some great advice on auto-electrical tips and techniques.
The short videos are are aimed at providing quick and informative answers to some common auto-electrical questions, as well as safe and best-practice DIY advice. They are generally around one to two minutes duration and are hosted on Narva’s website, Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Launched just before the COVID-19 lockdown, the Narva Garage series is aimed at helping people feel more confident with auto-electrical products and services, as well as understanding some of the associated terminology such as lux and lumens in LED lighting and what relays do in vehicle-starting systems.
“The simplified language used in each video retains a broad appeal and may even assist industry professionals and retailers in explaining auto-electrical concepts to their customers,” Narva Marketing Manager, Jake Smith says.
The series is hosted by workshop owner, mechanic and 4×4 specialist Adam Adler, who won the ‘Face of Narva’ competition, along with co-presenter and competition runner-up Ross Watson.
“With COVID-19 lockdown still in force, Narva Garage may help the more restless car enthusiasts and DIY’ers to grow their knowledge, ignite passion in an idle project or have a shot at something new,” Jake Smith added. “In upcoming episodes, viewers can catch a behind-the-scenes look at the sophisticated testing labs in Narva’s Research and Development Centre, located in Melbourne. This facility, which is ordinarily closed to public viewing, is home to some very special and advanced testing equipment which is critical to the development of Narva’s product range and reputation for quality.”
The Birdsville Races have been cancelled for 2020 but event dates for next year have been confirmed.
The organisers of one of Australia’s most iconic outback events have today announced that the Birdsville Races have been cancelled for 2020.
Known as the Melbourne Cup of the outback, the Birdsville Races have been held since 1882, and consist a two-day spectacular of outback thoroughbred racing. The event was scheduled for 4-5 September this year but has been cancelled due to the lingering effects of coronavirus.
“It is with heavy hearts that we have made the difficult decision not to stage the Birdsville Races this year,” Gary Brook, Vice President of the Birdsville Race Club said. “As much as we were holding onto the hope that we could run them, we’re at a point where we’ve had to concede defeat. The health of our patrons, and those who live in Outback Queensland, is of paramount importance to us – and it is impossible to know what the status with Covid-19 will be come September.”
“We have been following the Queensland Government’s roadmap for easing of restrictions, and with the easing of restrictions on mass gatherings not currently part of the roadmap, it is too much of a stretch to expect that by September we could safely host thousands of people in Birdsville,” Brook conceded.
“We contemplated a range of options, and even considered moving the event to late September or early October, however the consensus now is that it will still be too soon to allow us to run the event. And with the heat that comes to the Simpson Desert region in November and December there is no way we could go any later,” Gary Brook added.
“The Birdsville races is one of Queensland’s iconic events and forms part of our identity as a state,” Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said.
Next year… the race is on
The good news is that race organisers have announced the dates for the running of the 2021 Birdsville Races, which will take place on 3 and 4 September 2021.
“The Birdsville races is one of Queensland’s iconic events and forms part of our identity as a state,” Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said.
“Every year, the pictures from the Simpson Desert are beamed around the world and the annual pilgrimage has become a true bucket list item for so many people.
“Racing has a key role to play in driving Queensland’s post-pandemic tourism recovery and we look forward to seeing Birdsville return bigger and better in 2021.”
The Birdsville Races typically attract more than 7000 annual visitors to Outback Queensland to enjoy the region’s yabby races, street parties and various other events that lead into the big Friday and Saturday race days at the iconic Birdsville Race Track.
Organisers are anticipating that those numbers could grow significantly in 2021. The Birdsville Bakery will be open once again and the Birdsville Hotel will once again act as the resident watering hole for racegoers.
The on-sale date of tickets to the 2021 Birdsville Races will be announced in the coming months with race entry and trackside hospitality options also available for pre-purchase.
For more details see the Birdsville Races website.
Funding has been awarded to have the Outback Way sealed.
Funding has been awarded to two central Australian businesses to begin the task of having the Outback Way sealed. The Outback Way, as it’s known, is a transcontinental highway running from Laverton in Western Australia, through Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, and on to Boulia and Winton in Queensland. For years the route has been considered by many as a long short-cut, due to it being mostly dirt that’s subject to consistently changing road conditions, resulting in many travellers avoiding it and instead making the run south around the Simpson Desert via South Australia.
This is all about to change with the first 41km stretch of the Outback Way to be sealed with bitumen, with the Wongutha Way Alliance (being a broad group of local Aboriginal people) celebrating the beginning of the road upgrade. In consultation with local elders, the planned (and now funded) upgrade works are expected to provide benefit to the people who reside in the area, as well as provide interstate connectivity for tourists, local communities and the freight industry. This will in turn assist the local economy into the future.
The project initially includes reconstruction of the pavement and sealing of the road surface, which is the first leg of what is expected to be an entire Outback Way upgrade. The sealed road will essentially create Australia’s third trans-continental highway, with the Western Australian Minister for Transport, Rita Saffioti saying the Great Australian Road will provide the ‘ultimate Aussie outback experience’ for many who have not wanted to brave the unsealed roads.
“The Wongutha Way Alliance is the first of its kind, and embodies our commitment to providing long-term, sustainable employment opportunities for West Australians in the most remote parts of our state,” Ms Saffioti said. “It is pleasing to see the commitment made by this joint venture in both training and guiding trainees on this project.”
As many would attest, travelling from Alice Springs in the Northern Territory via the Plenty Highway through to Queensland is almost a rite of passage for modern outback explorers, with the road conditions bringing many unstuck over the years. So if you’re keen to get out before the bitumen is laid and the road is sealed, the Outback Way from Laverton through to Winton is a mighty fine drive at the moment; or you can hold off until more is sealed and do it a little more comfortably.
Map credit: Johnny Appleseed
Mahindra Black Edition mHAWK PikUp
Mahindra has launched a Black Edition mHAWK PikUp based on the Indian manufacturer’s top-spec dual-cab 4×4 S10+ model but packed with a bunch of extra features.
The Black Edition mHAWK PikUp retails for $39,990, which is $7k more than the $32,990 4×4 S10+, but it has a significant amount of additional equipment including a steel bull bar, side steps, alloy sports bar, 17-inch alloy wheels, black flares, a custom decal kit and a tub-liner.
As outlined in our earlier news piece on the recent launch of the refreshed MY2020 Mahindra PikUp, standard kit on the 4×4 S10+ (and therefore also the Black Edition mHAWK) includes cruise control, Bluetooth phone connection, driver’s seat height adjustment, seven-inch touchscreen with a high-res reversing camera and satnav.
All PikUp models are powered by a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that makes a claimed 103kW of power at 4000rpm and 330Nm of torque from 1600-2800rpm. The only transmission option is a six-speed manual gearbox and the PikUp has a basic part-time 4×4 system with a two-speed transfer case. Aiding off-road capability is a standard Eaton auto-locking mechanical rear differential.
Optional extras include a 2500kg tow bar, a choice of aluminium or steel trays (in place of the standard tub), brush rails, snorkel, suspension upgrade and underbody protection.
All Mahindra PikUps are covered by a five-year/100,000km warranty with five-years of roadside assistance and four-year/55,000km capped-price servicing. For more details head to the Mahindra website.
Mazda BT-50 up to $10k off in early EOFY nationwide deals.
Mazda says customers stand to save thousands of dollars with driveaway pricing applied to a range of models including the BT-50 4×4 ute, with savings of up to $10k on the Dual Cab XT 4X4 manual model.
That’s a huge saving, with the BT-50 Dual Cab XT 4X4 manual priced at a bargain $37,490 driveaway!
According to Mazda, dealers Australia-wide are open and well stocked with vehicles available for delivery before 30 June, meaning customers can take advantage of further tax time savings, including the instant asset write-off.
There are also further savings to be had on 2019-build models across the Mazda range.
The driveaway deals are national and are available at Mazda dealerships around the country, which remain open with strict social distancing and hygiene measures in place to protect customers and staff alike.
For more information and the full list of offers visit www.mazda.com.au/offers.