It's Saturday. Another review. I sat down and as I was about to write I realised I knew very little about the car I had just driven. Well, I knew about its build, its owner and its colour, but only horrible whispers of its conception. A 1972 VW, built in a factory in Clayton, the very area I studied in for three years. It was actually assembled by Nissan at the time, which explains the very intruguing fact that this colour isn't a VW code but a Nissan one: Aquamarine Poly - obviously marketing hadn't tampered with the colour name by calling it Sunrise Torquoise or Regal Penisberry. The original Beetle was of course developed by Porsche and commissioned by Adolf Hitler, which explains why so many called it the Hitler Mobile. Catchy. Poignant. A 'car for the people' this was, despite the atrocities of a World War, cleverly designed and it makes sense as to why they built it, refined it, for 57 years. Luckily, none of that magic is lost in this 49 year-old beauty.
And what a handsome devil it is. In a market where tweens continue to buy '98 Discoveries, '06 Delicas and '88 Volvo 240s 'for the vibe' it is astonishing why they have yet to flock to this...aquamarine beauty. The curved lines, the sweeping front, cute lights that emanate a face; this car was born to make heads turn. And how can we forget the twin exhausts rearing out the back, or the white walls, or the side grills or the chromed bumpers! It will grow on you like a rash, make you smile from ear to ear, trigger a conversation with an elderly man as you witness his eyes glisten, the golden memories of the early 70s rolling through his cathartic heart. I'd just hate to see a Beetle that wasn't loved as this one.
Much like the Pajero but reduced by about 110%, the Beetle's interior is deathly old-school. The turqouise steel from the outside is brought in, a dashboard painted at the same time as the exterior. In terms of storage, there ain't much but it's honest work. A glove box and a foot well, that's it. And while your latte spills all over the Cruella-endeared seats, your phone slides off the thin dashboard and through the adjacent triangular window (and it will be open, trust me, no AC on a Spring day can get surprisingly sticky), you'll be so busy massaging the clutch, the manual gear stick, that you won't even care.
And who doesn't like a challenge when it comes to the dash's WW2 technology. I always took pride, being a young stout, working out my Mother's state-of-the-art infotainment system within minutes; if only I knew it would work the other way.I never quite worked out how to work the radio, nor did I figure out the three mystery buttons in the middle of the car. Also, there's a latch in the glovebox that I hope to God did not set off the nukes in North Korea because it was surprisingly satisfying to switch on and
off as my Brother drove along.
Power & Silk
The owner informed me the engine could logistically work on diesel. That should be enough to sum it all up. It isn't exactly fast, and I truly believe it couldn't reach 85 kph, nor did I want to try as you will soon read when I type of its safety. And I suppose being manual, the 'silk' of the engine depends largely on the wit of the driver's left leg.
However, despite its lack of power, the shaky gearbox and the humming that extends from the engine, through the seats and directly in to your genitals, not once was I concerned (as I would be in other vintage vehicles) that the engine would seize, explode or rupture. It still feels as tight as the day it came out of the factory but one wonders if this is due to the owner or the car...
Comfort & Safety
As mentioned previously, the engine does give some orgasmic exhileration whilst seated in the driver's area. This may become extremely comfortable for the driver but I would be more concerned for the comfort and safety of the passengers; I may be speaking alone here but I do not enjoy an edged driver, but that's just me.
No airbags, a seat belt that was once called 'the wheelchair maker' and a dashboard made of steel. Honestly, how much safety do we really need anyway.
Now for a monologue. It's midday, the sky is clear, you can see new buds forming on the trees as you drive down a side street. Tarmac. It's only been a few minutes but you've managed to reach 50kph. Ahead, a group of pink galahs ponder the road, seeking crushed seeds and dander. Surely they would move out of the way, they have at least ten seconds, yet they do not move. 7 seconds. No movement. 3 seconds. No movement. Dear god. You slam the brakes hard yet the car continues to propel forward. Your foot hits the floor but nothing. The galahs are within metres as your foot pumps violently. Finally, salvation. The right brake is applied on to the wheel but the car lists right as a result. The involuntary response is welcomed though. The car gets out of the way, your heart slows and those fucking idiot birds live another day.
Average price for same model: $14,500
Average price for same model: $68,000
Average price for same model: $65,000
Average price for same model: $3,000
Average price for same model: $4,800
First off, it is a handsome hatch. The carved bonnet lines, the angular headlamps, the suave LED lights, the beautiful big alloys and the creased sides make the Astra a very appealing car to look at...in the right colour. , These subtleties are simply lost when the Astra is painted in red or white which, of course, are the base colours of this German-made hatchback. Naturally not every angle is a peach but overall, it's something you'd be happy to look at over and over again. Strangely, the Chevy Americano influence has creeped in to the Opal design with Holden adding chrome to the grill and door frames for any model above the R+, the base model. That said if you hate poorly placed chrome as much as I do, you do get the best looking model for the cheapest price.
The best feature of the Astra interior is space. As a reasonably tall person I have always found the higher selling hatches, the VW Golf or the Hyundai i30, to be cramped; it is a hatchback after all. However, thanks to a cleverly sloped windscreen, the car being slightly wider than its rivals, as well as thoughtfull design the Astra feels incredibly spacious while driving and it has a surprising amount of legroom in the back.
The plastics aren't low quality, I can't stress that enough, but they aren't high quality either. The sort of plastics prone to scratching. Holden/Opel/GM have also used a shiny black finish on parts of the dashboard that leave a myriad of fingerprints and oil marks; Renault does this with their Cleo/Megane as well and I have never understood why, it looks 'fine' but you're constantly carrying around a microfibre towel to keep it clean. It also seems to have wasted the middle dashboard with a shallow phone-sized slot instead of a cigarette lighter or a storage box you would expect to get in other hatchbacks of a similar price.
First off, the Audi SQ5 will never look as good as it's relatives such as the A5 or even the Q2. In fact, seeing the latest revamped models makes me question whether the old styling was better than the new. Cars like the Kia Cerato or the Hyundai i30: their latest designs begging for boredom as opposed to 'a.e.s.t.h.e.t.i.c'. Unfortunately, the SQ5 falls into this category. You can tell the people at Audi have really tried to make this SUV look as sporty as possible, the black grill, the 18 inch low profile alloys and the black roof but the body just isn't right. It feels like a masticated middleman between the previous shell and the current shell you can get in 2020; sort of like the front cover of an Animorphs book. So what is to be said of dear rat boy? It's not a pretty sight.
The interior speaks a little differently, however. The seating and sides conduct a symphony of leather and stitch: a very nice cabin to be in. And thank god they've lined the dashboard with carbon fibre, that should help with the car that weighs just under 2 tonnes. As you'd assume from an SUV that costs well over $100k, the finish is sublime; it isn't exciting nor is it eye-catching but lovely to sit in, like being hugged by a suicidal cow that's just been groomed. The biggest drawback is the infotainment system. Of course, the screen is massive but it isn't touch so Audi has had to overcompensate with an array of buttons, knobs and even a trackpad. The system settings are easy to use and it does come with Apple Carplay and Android Auto but the radio and media are, like many high end german cars: counterintuitive. I spent 3 days driving this around and I still couldn't figure out how to save a radio preset. Don't even get me started on the wheel buttons.
Power & Silk
You would think an AWD, 2 tonne SUV would be as quick as butter sliding down a gravelroad but this couldn't be further from the truth. It's powerful; every gear change a beautiful grunt erupts from the exhaust, breathing fire and mortar, yet they're smooth and precise. And having AWD makes you feel grounded despite the car being 1.6m tall, so you can really punch it even on wet and windy roads. However, its weight and size does come in to question when driving through corners: a little...sluggish. You want it to go faster, you want it to be the speed demon envisioned by the Avant but it just isn't. It's a cushy 5-seater monster that beats to the rhythm of every feeling and thought I have ever had towards an SUV: underwhelming and unnecessary. And no matter how perfect the engine is, it will always be undermined by the shell. It is a great engine and it has great power, but it belongs in a wagon or sedan not an SUV.
Comfort & Safety
This is the most secure car I have ever driven but perhaps because it is the newest car I have ever driven. Nevertheless the car comes with AEB, cameras that somehow show you the car from a bird's eye view, ACC, and lane departure. The best feature, one that will most likely never be used, is the cars ability to slow down on a motorway and edge itself to the side of the road if the driver fell asleep, became unconscious or had a heart attack. I've always wondered if, in a car like this, if it were even possible to have a crash (of course excluding the other 'drivers' on the road, a factor one can never exclude).
Comfort-wise... no. It isn't comfortable. Having a sports SUV means that you have sporty suspensions sporty tyres and sporty alloys meaning you not only feel the bump in the road you can hear it's dreams and ambitions as well. The firm leather upholstery doesn't help either. The cabin isn't any more spacious than an A3 and to be honest you're not getting much more legroom in the back when you compare it to a hatchback or wagon. Give it only five seats and there aren't many reasons to get this car at all... like any SUV.
I like a good Audi. They have the style and build quality that can sometimes tear it apart from the German trio. But this sQ5 doesn't live up to that standard. It's heavy, it's big, it's cramped and it's firm. It leaves you wanting more but also less. You want more power more space and more comfort and you want less tech, less fuel consumption and less complexity. If you do want an SUV perhaps take a gander at a regular Q5 or better still a Volvo XC60 or even better yet: a proper car.
It is a beautiful car to look at. Of course, the Porsche sticker doesn’t hurt but even so, every angle of the Boxster is subtle, curved, as though the shell is ready to dance, intertwine, with the very wind itself. Naturally, the front hasn’t deviated from Porsche’s standard ‘beetle’ design (nor should it, ain’t broke, don’t fix) but the back is absolutely stunning. It has hips; literal hips that smoothly align with the cusp of the boot, flared with dynamically refined tail lights and beautifully laden letters that read Porsche. You enjoy looking at it, you enjoy driving it, knowing that you have the prettiest car on the road. It’s a great colour, too; a cross between midnight and black acid, that highlights the curves of this german convertible. And it’s taken me this long to mention it’s a convertible. And this car was built, from the ground up, to be one not a Cascada, Mustang or S40 that was originally a coupe, hatch or sedan. Consequently, you get the perfect convertible.
The technology is heavily outdated compared to current cars but even so, the infotainment system is fairly confusing. I still believe that in order to pair my phone to this car, I have to summon demons from Lazarus with the blood of a virgin lamb. But to be honest, it doesn’t matter. This car wasn’t made to be driven every day, used like a normal car. It’s been made to cherish the skies, bathe in the wind, and draw your heartbeat to the max. And the open roof, tied with an eager engine, means you thoroughly enjoy sitting within an array of leather, polished chrome and carbon fibre. Strange as you wouldn’t expect it from a luxury German sportswear.
Power & Silk
You would think a 6 cylinder flat engine would be enough for a two seater convertible. Which is good because it is. Having the engine mounted in the middle also means you feel incredibly low, sticking to the ground to give you the balance and confidence you need when you put your foot down. It also means when you hit 6,000rpm you can hear the beautiful note of a proper Porsche engine sweeping through the tarmac vines of Invermay, Victoria.
Comfort & Safety
Yes, all that. It’s a Porsche, of course it’s safe. Probably. I mean, it doesn’t have AEB, ACC, lane assist but it does have airbags and these magical things called breaks which can stop the car before you run over your favourite Grandmother.
Buy it if you can. This is a magnificent car in a class of its own. It is a statement of the owner, a personal hobby that reminds you of the joys of driving even on days that mightn't be so friendly.
I'm not going to say it's ugly. But it is a 4x4 Japanese SUV so it's not amazing. That said, the looks grow on you day by day: that square stance, the tall body and that dull yet fading paintwork. Especially when the likes of Kia, Hyundai, VW and Suzuki seem to all be leading down the same dark, square-designed path. And let's not forget the sheer...care put in to keeping this puppy... clean. And the one I found has a mutlitude of stickers laiden across it's back, their origins spanning the great states and territories of Australia. I'm guessing it's been around but to be honest the only question I had to the owner before picking it up was "does it run?"
The technology is... it's not there. Although it does have an after-market radio system; having used it and ejnjoyed its many idosynchrases, I would avoid Pioneer at all costs, this one's panel pops off as soon as I want to change it to modern rock, classical jazz or the forbidden 105.5.
The electric windows do work, however, with plenty of storage and little hidey-holes in the cabin to pack your twoing ropes, straps, leather harnesses, surfboards, first-aid kits and butt plugs.
Power & Silk
It has a V6 and all cylinders seem to work in harmony; if you're looking for power there isn't much: like setting off on a bicycle that has hand cranks instead of pedals. The overdrive function, amazingly, still works but she struggles if you need to turn a quick corner or make a dubious right hander with a bounding Tarago coming the other way.
The gearbox in this car is surprisingly smooth, as is transmission and the power is only amiss when you need to drive it on proper roads. However, once you do take it off the beaten track, like the Otway National Forest, the power seems ample and the engine feels careful. The steering has quite a bit of play in it which is perfect when you're on the road with ADHD and need a sensory device to interact with.
Comfort & Safety
Surprising for its age, the Pajero is quite comfortable. It bounces and bobs over even the steepest of pot holes with the velvet seating keeping you in a state of...rivalled luxury. I will admit the speedometer does begin to harmlessly scream once you clock past 80 but with the whistles of the disintegrating sunroof and the roaring, stifling engine you could fire a gun in that cabin and I would only feel the bullet. Note to self: don't pick up a hitchhiker in the middle of nowhere named Elroy.
This isn't a safe car by any modern standard. While the narrow body is great for slipping past narrow brush roads in the outback I would hate to know how it would handle if I were to swerve to avoid a child or a deer or a deer child. And thank god you don't have to deal with any of those pesky airbags or brakes since the Pajero has neither.
This particular Mitsubishi Pajero is a staple of its time. While a great many men and women of Victoria opt for the Nissan Patrol or the...yeah, really all I see on the road right now (from this timeline) are beaten up, dangerously-raised Nissan Patrols. However this drive proves there is always a healthy alternative, that is (since the last time I checked) cheaper and often in better condition than the rusty Nissans you may lunge at on Carsales or dare I say Facebook Marketplace. So if you need a discount offroader with loads of space and an exhaust that doesn't give you mining-lung diseases, this review may be the answer.
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Please note: car valuations are the median value, prices vary depending on condition.
i found some cars, here's what i...found out about them
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Holden's infotainment system is fairly standard, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, DAB, radio etc etc, however it does have a few quirks. For one, you can change the proportion of sound coming from each speaker in the car which is perfect, and I mean perfect, when you have A)friends in the back playing 'bangers' while you're trying to enjoy the longevity of hearing, B)a small pupper in the back that's sleeping so you don't want to wake them or C) when you have a song like 'Warm' by SG Lewis and you want to feel the bass travel from your back directly to your balls. Another quirk is the ability to play video or photo from a USB, which is great if you have kids or little cousins.
Power & Silk
The model tested today was the R+ (base) that holds a 1.4 litre engine, absent of a DSG gearbox like any other European model would offer but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The DSG in the Golf of the same year is quite glitchy especially in city traffic: endlessly changing gears. The Astra, however, has a very smooth transmission. And with its turbocharger it is a fun car to drive but you do often wonder if the 1.6L, despite it's poor fuel economy, would be as my Mother would say, "zippy." But in the smaller engined model, driving normally with only a few bouts of rampant acceleration I was able to set an average of 5.5l/100km. Most importantly, the Astra does have a feature that should be in all cars no matter how low they are on power, no matter how cheap or expensive: a Sport button.
Comfort & Safety
Although the alloys are quite pretty they are quite large which means the tyre is quite thin. As a result, you do hear a small amount of road noise and the ride isn't as cushioned as it should be so really it comes down to the preference of the owner: do you prefer comfort or fashion?
For a 2017 base hatchback, impressively, the Astra does come with lane assist and AEB, with the very useful forward collision alert system; at first I thought this was a 'hat on a hat' feature since the car already had auto emergency braking until the car in front of me hadn't functioning brake lights and decided to suddenly stop. Life saver.
Another comforting aspect of the Holden Astra is its build quality. I know it may be prejudicial to tarnish the quality of a hatchback if it's made in South Africa, Mexico or Thailand. Nevertheless it is comforting to know that the Holden Astra is assembled in Germany, a place where rules and instructions are held to a high degree. And unlike the Astra sedan, the hatchback is an Opel, not a Chevrolet, so at least you know the knobs won't fall off.
I like the Holden Astra. I like the colour I like driving it I like how it is an alternative but solid choice tio make if you want a good-value car. So if you're tired of seeing VW Golfs everywhere on the road and you don't want to buy something Korean because the looks, let's face it, leave a lot to be desired I would suggest giving considerable thought to the Holden Astra hatch.
The aesthetic each model offers is amazing in its polarity. And although the base model is bereft of the punchy 1.6L engine it has the best wheels, the best front (chrome free) and the best price.
Of course the elephant in the room hasn't been mentioned: Holden has left for a pack of cigarettes and I don't think they're coming back. But this car is still being sold in Europe so I have faith that despite what your fears may tell you, the Astra isn't at all a bad purchase, and I truly believe quality engineering and build will mean you'll be able to run it right past 2030 without any mechanical issues at all.
What i've found so far
Writer, reviewer, car enthusiast
Carsguide, Wheels, WhichCar, Drive, Octane and Carsales. These are the companies yet to reply to my emails, calls and letters pleading to work, intern, slave and pay just to be able to step in to their doors. So here we are.
I love the automotive industry because I hate walking. But also because it's special: constantly changing and adapting; an industry that is slow but steady, that offers technological progress with the capacity of pure elation and freedom when you use it.
It was the one thing my Father and I could bond over, the one thing that made visiting the farm bearable, given the chance to shunt Dad's 22 year old Pajero through the paddocks of Ascot. It was the motor car that took me to school, that took me to my graduation, family vacations, the station to achieve liberation.
I remember every car I've been in, our 92' Commodore, 73' Beetle, the Territory, Jetta, Magna, 307, G6E, X5, SQ5, E-Type, S-Type, Boxter, Astra, WXR, Golf, Tucson, 6, 308, 4008, Sx4, Swift, Focus, CR-V, Camry Wagon, tghe list is perpetual . The charm, the power, the style, the class. Like many of you, I have always been drawn to the exchange of metal and oil, a symphony of design, engineering and innovation.
Every car has something to say and here I am, listening.