NISSAN MICRA 2007 – 2013

2007 Nissan Micra

  Nissan Micra is a small hatchback with the sort of cheeky styling that appeals to many. Aimed chiefly at being a city car, it nevertheless works fine on motorways, as well as country roads that are in decent condition. Micra was sold in Australia in the mid 1990s but was too expensive, didn’t sell well and was later withdrawn. Nissan Micra reappeared downunder in December 2007 when an all-new model was introduced. More realistic prices and the aforementioned cheeky looks made it a success this time around. Micra has… Read more

KIA SORENTO 2003 – 2013

2012 Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento is a mid-sized South Korean 4WD with modern styling that defied the trend when it was launched in June 2003. Even as recently as that most 4WDs had squared-off shapes suggesting they were based on trucks – which quite a few were. The Koreans were just beginning to enter what has now proven to be an era of ultra-sleek shapes, and Sorento gave us cues as to what was approaching. However, Kia Sorento’s sleek shape didn’t reflect its underpinnings, the Sorento was a real ladder-frame, transfer-box 4WD with… Read more

LEXUS GS 1997 – 2013

2012 Lexus GS 350 F Sport

Lexus GS300 is an upmarket Japanese sedan with a fair bit of sportiness in its makeup. It’s aimed at people who can’t afford a BMW 5-Series or Mercedes E-Class, or who do have the cash but like to be seen in something different. There’s no doubt the Lexus designers benchmarked the BMW as their first cars used a straight six engine and rear-wheel drive. Later models, from 2005, use a more space efficient V6 setup. These are big, smooth cars that make excellent touring machines and aren’t overly challenged on… Read more

MAZDA RX-8 2003 – 2013

2003 Mazda RX-8

Mazda’s RX-8 is a pure bred sports machine with many fascinating features. It’s a real breath of fresh air, moving off in all sorts of unusual directions at a time when other designers are scared of doing anything away from the mainstream. Outside and inside the Mazda sports hardtop is delightfully different. Different to look at, different to drive – and most certainly different in its rotary powerplant. Mazda RX-8 is a four-door sports coupe, not a two-door as its sleek lines suggest. The small back doors (which don’t have… Read more

SUZUKI SX4 2007 – 2013

2012 Suzuki SX4

Suzuki SX4 is a neat crossover between a hatchback and station wagon, with the added advantage that it can handle mild off-road running. Given that Suzuki has been a major player in the 4WD market in Australia for many decades you can rest assured that the Suzuki SX4 is the real deal. You wouldn’t call the SX4 a 4WD in the true sense of the word, indeed, the company tells us the ‘4’ in the title doesn’t stand for 4WD, but for 4 seasons. Not all SX4s in Australia have… Read more

HOLDEN MONARO 2001 – 2006

2004 Holden Monaro VZ

A two-door Commodore Coupe in concept form was shown at the 1998 Sydney Motor Show and was the undoubted star of the show. Three long years later the third-generation Holden Monaro hit the road in December 2001. The new Holden Monaro shared most of its platform with the Commodore sedan, but the body was 100 mm shorter than the sedan’s. Monaro can seat two passengers in reasonable comfort in the back seat, headroom may be problem, legroom is fine for most people. The interior is more distinctive in its finish… Read more

FORD FOCUS 2003 – 2013

2011 Ford Focus

Despite being a huge success in Europe the Ford Focus hasn’t enjoyed the sales success it deserved in Australia. Ford Focus finally first reached Australia in September 2002, several years after its European launch and continues to this day. It comes as no surprise that Ford Focus is truly European in the way it rides and handles and keen Australian drivers just love them. Many buyers downsizing from a Falcon chose Focus ahead of an Asian car for this very reason. Ride comfort is pretty good for a small-medium car… Read more

MERCEDES-BENZ E-CLASS 2004 – 2013

2009 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

  The Mercedes E-Class is a prestigious medium-large car that’s been reinvented in recent years. Once a conservative model, it has become pretty stylish as the Germans aim for a wider range of buyers. Body choices in the E-Class are many and varied: four-door sedan, five-door estate wagon, two-door convertible and two-door coupe. Sedans are still in the majority but coupes and convertibles are becoming increasingly popular. The Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class is a close relation to the convertible and coupe models so is also worth consideration. Wagons have a good load… Read more

ALFA ROMEO 159 2006 – 2012

2010 Alfa Romeo 159 sedan

Alfa Romeo is undergoing a major resurgence in Australia, one that began midway thorough 2012 when the Italian factory took control here; previously a private importer did that job. The number of dealerships is expanding rapidly and spare parts and servicing are freeing up as more mechanics are being trained in the marque. Alfa Romeo 159 is a stunning looking sedan with its Italian flair penned by the famed Giugiaro. The frontal shape is one of the best ever, even by Alfa’s high standards, and owners say they are continually… Read more

TOYOTA PRADO 1996 – 2013

2009 Toyota Prado

A sensible cross between a full-on 4WD and a passenger carrying SUV, the Toyota Prado is built by the Japanese company that’s now in its sixth decade in the off-road field in Australia. Prado is almost as capable in heavy-duty off-road work as its big brother LandCruiser, but provides better comfort and handling than the Cruiser. Not a lot better mind you, these Toyotas are nowhere near the same class as the big SUVs from Audi, BMW and Mercedes in the on-road dynamic stakes. Parking can be a problem until… Read more