Chinese ute’s Ford Ranger copycat fail
BEWARE OF KNOCK-OFFS
This ute I spotted in Papeete, Tahiti, looks aggressive and tough like a Ford Ranger Wildtrak. I assume it's Chinese. Why wouldn't they bring it to Australia rather than the frilly-dilly unsafe utes now imported from China?
Dennis Bright and Jan Hodge, email
This is the lesser-spotted Huanghai N3A ute and you're right, it is made by Chinese outfit SG Automotive. The brand is renowned for copying other manufacturers' SUVs, utes and vans. This example resembles a hotchpotch of designs "borrowed" from mainstream utes. It may look tough but rest assured it'll be a shocker for build quality and safety.
I love my 2017 Ford Mustang but I concede I don't use it to its full potential, or enjoy its fuel consumption. I'm thinking of downsizing to an Abarth 124 Spider, but cannot gather much information on them regarding performance and reliability. Your thoughts?
Adrian Major, email
At last, a sports car fan! I had a happy test in the Abarth, enjoying its beauty and characterful turbo performance, but its 125kW is well down on your Mustang's 339kW. The Spider hits 100km/h in 6.8-seconds, so may suit as it's less mongrel than your Mustang. You can drive away the Abarth for under $40,000; good value I'd reckon. It's still a new-ish model so I've not heard of reliability problems. The warranty is short at three years. Test a Mazda MX-5 before committing to the Abarth as its character may suit you even better.
Re Mundane Octane, what about "truck diesel" over regular diesel fuel in a passenger vehicle?
Chris Wanless, email
The pumps for truckers squirt out the same diesel fuel as passenger vehicle pumps at the servo, just with a faster flow. Premium diesel is costlier but don't expect a jump in performance or fuel economy as you would with premium unleaded. Premium diesel's extra cleaning properties may make using it occasionally beneficial.
NOT IN MY TANK
Re Mundane Octane, the basic reason you shouldn't use E10 fuel is there's less energy in a litre of ethanol than a litre of normal hydrocarbon fuel. You won't travel as far, even if E10 costs less. It can also absorb water and hence cause corrosion.
Hannes Jurmann, email
LOOK AT THE SCOREBOARD
You regularly recommend the Skoda Kodiaq seven-seat SUV but I hardly see one on the road. I do see thousands of Toyota Klugers. You never mention Klugers, instead choosing other Europeans such as Peugeot and VW. I don't see many of them around either. Why the disparity between journalist choice and public choice? Perhaps out here in buyer land, priorities are different. I wouldn't trust Skoda's resale and the Toyota has the powerful engine people want - you guys apparently eliminate it as too thirsty. Toyota dealers are everywhere and there's huge demand for used Klugers. The public has spoken. Please stop trying to make the Skoda happen.
Matthew Sunderland, email
Fair points. The Kluger outsold the Skoda more than tenfold last year (14,743 against 1346) and you're right, Skoda's depreciation will be greater. We can only write what we find and compare our objective experiences in rival models. It's still the public's choice as to which car they want to buy and own. Popularity doesn't mean it's the right choice - Married At First Sight was Australia's highest rating TV program after all.
Re your Porsche 911 review. The first Porsche was built some 71 years ago, not 56 years ago as written. Do your research. You can get the history by visiting the Porsche museum in Stuttgart, Germany. It and the Mercedes museums are outstanding.
Dave Miles, email
Rest assured I'm enough of a Porsche nerd to know all of the above. My article actually stated the first 911 was produced 56 years ago, not the first Porsche. That was the 356/1 of 1948, displayed at, as you rightly say, the excellent Porsche museum.