The weekly segment where I answer your car questions (and give it to a couple of nuts, right at the end)
This week's questions:
QUESTION 1 - HYUNDAI SHILL? MOI?
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I’ve watched some of your videos. You’re not a real journalist. You’re just a shill for Hyundai - Terry
Shill, noun - an accomplice of a confidence trickster or swindler who poses as a genuine customer to entice or encourage others.
Response: "In my view, that comment (and you’re entitled to believe it, Terry) but that comment emerged from the rectum of a bull and went ‘splat’ on the ground shortly thereafter. I don’t get any kickbacks from any car companies. I don’t accept any of the industry’s corrupt inducements to review the products favourably. I just call it like I see it. And like Jeep, I don’t hold back. (Although, I haven’t broken down yet - so that’s a key point of difference.)
"The macroeconomic snapshot here is that Hyundai has shot from 50,000 sales in Australia to 100,000 from 2007 to 2014, inclusive - across the gulf of the GFC - and the market has been essentially stagnant in that time. Double the sales. Double the market share - in a market that hasn’t grown, overall. Hyundai’s on fire. That's worth reporting - and it's happening for a reason.
"Hyundai’s been winning sales from brands that are asleep at the wheel, like Honda, Nissan and Mitsubishi, and brands that are dead from the neck up, like GM Holden and Ford.
You can’t do that unless the product is red hot. You can’t. And the latest Hyundais are very impressive vehicles. Santa Fe, Tucson, i30, Veloster - very smart consumer choices either leading or close to leading their respective segments, in my view.
"But I am not a Hyundai evangelist. Bugger that. If they were paying me under the table, they’d be very disappointed to hear this: In my view, every Hyundai i20 should come with a free bumper sticker. [SHOULD’VE BOUGHT A MAZDA2].
"And Genesis: A really nice luxury car, which, statistically, nobody wants, and which, statistically, nobody will ever want. A rolling marketplace anachronism. A clinically insane boardroom-hubris-driven decision, swimming well against the tide of foreseeable commercial outcomes. Honda invented this busted-arse business model with the Legend, and it was a good car that nobody wanted, too. What were they thinking?
"Let’s not forget the i40 petrol. Skins on rice custards breathe a sigh of relief when this car drives past. (No threat there.) If we were to momentarily detain ourselves personifying the petrol i40, we’d have to make it a middle-aged fat man, you’d most likely find him parked outside the nearest erectile dysfunction clinic. It’s not exactly potent.
"Conclusion? I'm most probably not a shill for Hyundai."
QUESTION 2 - DUAL CLUTCH TRANSMISSION
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What’s a dual-clutch transmission - and what’s with the horror stories I hear about them? - Enrico
Basically, dual clutch transmissions are better for performance driving, delivering fast, positive shifts, but they aren't as refined as traditional automatic gearboxes for low-speed manoeuvering or in traffic. They're basically two parallel gear-trains, with predictive computerised preselection of the next gear.
They can be made quite reliably, but Ford and Volkswagen have done a great job delivering a series of very unreliable DCTs to the world - nearly spoiling it for everyone else.
QUESTION 3 - PREMIUM POVERTY?
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I just got a new job, and I can finally afford an Audi Q3 TFSI - just under $60k drive-away in NSW. You don’t have a review - how come? - Angela
This is a very simple concept: The Germans can'g built a good value car for $60,000. They just can't. The plan is: get you in the door for $60k, and get you to tick as many boxes as possible from the $40,000+ box of options (or better yet: buy a car in stock now with $30,000 in options fitted).
This is how premium poverty works. You buy a 'premium' car with the badge, for $60k, and it's just not as well equipped, nor as good, as a Japanese car for $10k less. See:
Subaru Forester smash Mercedes-Benz GLA >> and
Mazda CX-5 smash Audi Q3 >> plus
Mazda3 murder the Mercedes-Benz A-Class >>
QUESTION 4 - HAUTE COUTURE?
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Just like to say your shirt collar and Tie look ridiculous did your taylor run out of collar material LOL - Forex
Response: "Forex, after thousands of appearances in news and current affairs on Channel 7, Channel 9, the ABC, Sky and even SBS, and thousands more hours on talk radio, I’ve pretty much come to terms with the fact that they don’t invite me back because of my raw sex appeal or my commitment to cutting-edge haute couture. Sadly, I have to fall back - every damn time, like a broken frigging record - on a less glamourous excuse for turning up: I just happen to know what I’m talking about. If you want glamour, that’s extra."
Two more epic nuts at timecodes 22:30 & 23:00 in the video.
QUESTION 5 - CAN I SELL CARS?
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I work at a dealership - just a yard worker there. When talking to one of the dealers there he said a customer wanted a car for $6000 instead of the listed price of $7000. He invented another customer willing to pay $6500, even though this second customer does not exist. Clearly it’s just a way to get a higher price for the vehicle. Does this seem wrong or is it just me? They want me to get into the sales area over the few coming months, but I don't think I can say that to someone's face. Curious what you think about this - Mat
A healthy moral compass is not an asset for a budding young car salesman. Learn the top 20 ways to beat a car dealer >>
QUESTION 6 - NITROGEN: IT'S A GAS, MAN
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Got new tyres the other day. The tyre shop wanted to sell me nitrogen to fill them up, for an extra $40. They said the tyres would last longer and the ride would be smoother. I went with air, because at the time it felt like a con. Now I’m second-guessing myself. Should I have gone with nitrogen? - Judy
Tyre retailers upsell nitrogen inflation to consumers all the time, and it's a con - a complete waste of money.
Air - the stuff you're breathing right now - is almost 80 per cent nitrogen. So, 80 per cent of the purported benefits of nitrogen inflation come with every free 'air' inflation.
The fact is, the physics of a nitrogen inflated-tyre are (in practise) exactly the same as filling with air. Tyre retailers latch onto pseudo-science to get punters to drop $40 on nitrogen. More mythbusting in this report:
Top 10 motoring myths >>
QUESTION 7 - SAFETY & VOLVO
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Last question: Safety seems to be your biggest concern when buying a new car. I’ve got three kids, and I agree with you. I'm looking at an Volvo XC60 - what do you think? - Anita
Safety's important - but so is value, performance, customer support and reliability. Thankfully, these are not mutually exclusive propositions.
Volvo's a sideshow exhibit at the automotive theme park. Porsche and Peugeot out-sell Volvo - and that's saying something. There's no real evidence that Volvo is safer than other brands, dollar-for-dollar.
Volvo was fire-saled by Ford in the GFC, and bought by the Chinese, principally as a technology asset. There's better buying in the marketplace.