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The Mercury Cars Guide : September 19th 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009 Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au ---9 Mum and dad car buyers return in a small way NEIL McDONALD IT is a sign of the times that small cars, off-roaders and Japanese utes filled all Top 20 sales spots last month. As mums and dads cautiously flex their buying power and return to the market, the Toyota Corolla was again the most popular car, edging out the Holden Commodore by 330 vehicles to be August's number one seller. Apart from the Corolla, the bulk of the top 20 sales spots were filled by popular, fuel-efficient small cars like the Mitsubishi Lancer, Mazda3, Hy- undai i30, Holden Cruze, Toyota Yaris, Ford Focus, Subaru Impreza and Mazda2. August's sales figures show that more Australians have bought a Toyota Corolla this financial year than any other new vehicle. Including the Corolla, Toyota managed to snare three of the top six sales positions. Its workhorse HiLux and family Camry managed to grab fifth and six spots. The Nissan Navara and Mitsu- bishi Triton joined the HiLux in being among the most in-demand recreational vehicles on the road. Dealers are reporting waiting lists of up to three months for specific HiLux, Navara and Triton models and Mitsubishi has had to fast-track the introduction of its 2010 Triton to meet demand. Apart from the Corolla, buyers are also queueing up for the i30, Mazda3, Lancer and new Cruze. The Cruze followed up its first full month on sale with another near- 2000 sales result last month. Holden executives report a strong order bank for its newest small sedan, as well as the new direct- injection Commodore range. Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries execuive director An- drew McKellar says he is buoyed by the renewed confidence of private buyers. The strong demand also carries over from business buyers taking advantage of the Federal Govern- ment's tax break, he says. ''The effectiveness of the stimulus measure is being reflected in the supply constraints experienced on some models,'' he says. However, off-road sales were a mixed bag. Luxury SUVs grew by 241 sales last month, a 19.2 per cent increase while medium size off- roaders also recorded a modest 1.6 per cent increase. Among the best performers were the Holden Captiva, Toyota Kluger and Prado and Nissan Murano. However, large off-roaders slumped by 21 per cent. Year-to-date, the overall market of 603,843 vehicles is running behind the same period last year by 14.2 per cent or 100,151 sales. Aussies first to see new Prado Australians love a good four-wheel drive, and Toyota decided that we would be first to get a gander at their new Prado. Stuart Martin reports UNVEILED: The Prado will have impressive capabilities for on-road driving and four-wheel drive. ... it's a huge market here --- the fourth largest in the world overall. That's pretty significant ' STYLE MACHINE: The all-new Toyota Prado has fresh styling with improved aerodynamics. RESPECT for the Australian four- wheel drive market has resulted in the new Toyota Prado being un- veiled in Australia before it is seen by the rest of the world. Even its home market was an hour or two behind the official Sydney unveiling of the newest addition to the off- road arm of Toyota's range. Toyota's executive sales and marketing director Da- vid Buttner says Australia was the fourth-largest market for LandCruiser --- behind the Middle East, Europe and China. ''It's important because they do the testing here, we always bring vehicles in for accessory fitment, you have to make sure of that, but it's a huge market here --- the fourth largest in the world overall --- that's pretty signif- icant. We'd be close to the best per capita,'' he says. The fourth-generation Pra- do aims to provide more grunt, with less fuel use; the renowned SUV model has retained a ladder-frame chas- sis but is aiming at better on- road manners while main- taining the off-road ability for which it is renowned. The new model will go on sale in November and is 80mm longer, 10mm wider but 15mm lower than the current model, which was the best-selling SUV in Australia for 2008 and is currently the top-selling medium SUV. The Japanese car maker says the new Prado's four- litre V6 petrol engine, which makes up just 20 per cent of the car's sales, will get vari- able valve timing on both inlet and exhaust valves to improve fuel economy, as well as generating 10 per more power. The company is also boast- ing of fuel consumption im- provements for the more pop- ular turbodiesel engine, with the combined cycle claimed to fall below nine litres per 100km. Mr Buttner says the com- pany was aiming to retain the off-road ability for the 10 per cent of customers who use it for four-wheel driving and improving its on-road ability. ''The off-road capability is really important because that's the heritage of the car, while only 10 per cent might go off-road, they know their spec and they use it. ''It's only 10 per cent but you don't want to go way from that, you still want a rugged SUV while at the same time satisfying the 90 per cent of people looking for ride, comfort and handling of a passenger car --- we're confident it can achieve that,'' he says. While final specification is still being determined, the new model will get some flow- down features from both the Lexus and LandCruiser side of the company, with the Australian-developed kinetic suspension, off-road ''Crawl'' technology and external cam- eras likely to be added to a safety features list that will include seven airbags, ve- hicle stability control and traction control as standard. The new Prado, which will be offered in three and five- door guises from its Novem- ber launch, is expected to be available with rain-sensing wipers, automatic HID head- lights, adaptive cruise con- trol and the choice of an electronic 4WD system of the more conventional set-up with diff locks. Toyota executive director sales and marketing, David Buttner says the company is keeping its powder dry for the November launch. ''We are launching a three- door as well, they will both be launched in November, we'll reveal full details then, but we think there is an oppor- tunity there,'' he says. ''We'll talk about the en- gines in November, we have dual VVTi in petrol and some minor improvements in the turbodiesel, which we'll talk about down the track, its not 100 per cent carry-over.'' Mr Buttner says the major- ity of Prado normally sell with a diesel engine and the company expects that will continue. ''We are getting a lot of strong interest without knowing price. There are a lot of early-adopters who want to be the first to update from their current Prado.'' ''It runs about 80 per cent diesel, 20 per cent petrol, and we expect that to continue,'' he says.
September 12th 2009
September 26th 2009