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The Mercury Cars Guide : March 28th 2009
2— CARSguide Hand over keys with confidence NEIL McDONALD EVERYparent’s worst nightmare —letting their children drive the family car — could be a thing of the past. Ford Australia has at its finger- tips an innovative ‘smart’ igni- tion key that can be programmed to limit a car’s top speed, stereo volume and encourage teenage drivers and passengers to buckle up. The MyKey system effectively prevents hooning in the family sedan. Company spokesperson Sinead McAlary said the system, which is being rolled out on most Ford cars across North America, could eventually be adopted here. ‘‘But it is not something we’re looking at in the short term,’’ she said. The technology allows mums and dads to program a key that limits their car’s top speed to 128kmhandthe stereo to less than half the maximum volume. The system will also provide a low-fuel warning alarm and leaves all the car’s safety features, like traction control, switched on while being driven by a teenager. McAlary recognises the tech- nology has great potential here. ‘‘We are studying it but it’s early days,’’ she said. After North America, Ford in Europe is also looking to intro- duce the MyKey system. McAlary said there was a chance it could come here in the longer term via Europe, where Ford Australia sources its Fiesta and some Focus models. ‘‘A lot of it has to do with calibration of the technology,’’ she said. Once Europe adopts it, MyKey could more easily be adapted locally. General Motors has a similar system in its high-powered Cor- vette sportscar. SWEET: The latest MX-5 soft-top. on the road FIRST up, we’d have to say that the MX5 has no logical competitors this side of a Lotus. Of its closest rivals, perhaps the Nissan 350Z Roadster comes close but costing about $75,000, it is also a more expensive car. The Ford Focus Cabrio, Holden Astra Cabrio, Mini Cooper Cabrio, Peugeot 207CC, Volvo C70 convert- ible and Volkswagen Eos may match its open-air abilities and add two extra seats but as Takao Kijima says, they may not have that almost intangible ‘‘essence’’ that is an MX5. We’ve said before that theMX5is a masterpiece of design, packaging and dynamics and this carries over to the new car. The car’s styling was already good but the subtle changes have given the overall look a new lease on life and a more purposeful stance. Inside, moving the cupholders, making the armrests more comfort- able and the overall quality lift of the cabin are measured and well thought out. The car’s steering, suspension and dynamics remain impressive. On the road, the MX5 will bring a smile to any jaded driver who has tired of revenue-raising speed cam- eras and inattentive drivers. Unleash the two-seater in a corner and the chassis balance and grip is quickly apparent. The ride too is surprisingly com- fortable and supple. However, without driving the pre- vious model back-to-back it is hard to measure the improvements to the free-revving 2.0-litre engine. It feels strong, will happily sing right up to 7500 revs and on manual models, the ‘‘sound enhancer’’ does provided a meaty sound to the engine. While maximum torque is still produced at 5000 revs, maximum power is up 300 revs to 7000 revs. The biggest problem is perhaps deciding between the slick six-speed manual or well-sorted ratios of the automatic with its steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. Wemanaged to spend time in both the standard Roadster Coupe and Sports model, which adds Recaro sports seats and BBS alloys, which add a more customised look to the car. The comfort of the Recaros cannot be faulted but any generously propor- tioned drivers may prefer the stan- dard seats. The softer looking dark silver panel across the dash is an improvement over the previous piano black too. Despite work on reducing cabin noise on the Roadster, at highway speeds the noise levels are still disappointing. But that’s a very small niggle. The MX5 has won more than 180 awards in its 20-year history, includ- ing a listing in the Guinness Book of Records as the best selling open two- seater ever. NEIL McDONALD Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au Saturday, March 28, 2009 Third generation I NEIL McDONALD T says something about the Mazda’s resolve that the MX5 has remained true to its roots. The model is now more than 20 years old and in its third generation guise. But the sweetly styled sportscar has remained a lightweight two- seater, powered by a rear drive four- cylinder engine with perfect 50-50 weight balance. Mazda’snowretiredMX5program manager Takao Kijima says the company has resisted temptation to fiddle with the formula that has made the MX5 a worldwide success. Kijima knows what he’s talking about. Hewas the chassis engineer on the first MX5 when work started on it in 1986, culminating in its 1989 launch. More than 850,000 have been sold worldwide and it has won too many awards to list. Kijima admits that a bigger en- gine, maybe even a rotary, would give the car faster acceleration but its essence would be lost. ‘‘If we put a bigger engine in it would be amuchmore expensive car too,’’ he says. Specialising in cars... www.thecarmart.com.au 02 Commodore VX II Lumina 3.8lt auto, p/s, a/c, electrics, alloys. 96 Jeep Cherokee XJ Sport 4.0lt auto, p/s, a/c, electrics, towbar, outstanding in black. 01 Mitsubishi Lancer CE2 Coupe 1.5lt manual, p/s, a/c, 146,000km. 98 Holden Combo SB van 1.4lt manual, p/s, 128,000km. 96 Ford EF II Futura 4.0lt auto, p/s, a/c, electrics, 165,000km. 02 Kia Carnival LSwagon 2.5lt manual, p/s, a/c, electrics, 140,000km. 92 Toyota Hilux ute 2.4lt manual, p/s, 3 seater. 99 Daewoo Nubira wagon 1.6lt auto, p/s, a/c, electrics, c/lock. 04 Mitsubishi Triton GL tray 2.4lt manual, p/s, Be quick. $10,000 99 Ford Fairlaine Ghia 5.0lt auto, p/s, a/c, electrics, alloys, 156,000km, black leather, V8, stunning. David Strang 0404 724 986 Mark Patterson 0417 025 936 Todd Jackson 0419 514 956 Rob Sylvester 0418 124 226 (Finance) 98 Honda Accord sedan 3.0lt auto, p/s, a/c, electrics, alloys. Easy on-site finance available 01 Holden Astra TS CD hatch 1.8lt manual, p/s, a/c, electrics, alloys. 93 Daihatsu Charade hatch 1.0lt manual, 5 door, beat fuel prices. 90 Toyota Tarago Gli 2.4lt manual, p/s, electics, 7 seats. www.thecarmart.com.au 14 Derwent Park Rd, Derwent Park 6211 0566 12927jayne Under $8995 $6995 $6995 $10,995 $9995 $8995 $2995 $5995 $5995 $5995 $9995 $5995 $3995 $9995
March 21st 2009
April 4th 2009