In urban SUVs, the front-wheel drive version is all you need
I'M CONSIDERING the new Ford Endura ST Line SUV when it's released next month. I'm not sure whether to get front-wheel drive or AWD. I don't go off-road or drive in snow, the worst it would tackle are wet city roads and the occasional trip to the country. Any advantage to AWD or should I invest the $4000 difference on some extras instead?
Peter Nixon, email
Go the front-driver. Cheaper to buy, it'll be lighter so more fuel efficient and easier on brakes, cheaper to service (once capped price services expire) and there's no AWD to go wrong. (Overseas model, known as Edge, pictured.) Modern stability control means you'll come no more unstuck on wet Sydney roads in the FWD than the AWD. Yours will be an urban SUV - splash out on some luxury options instead.
Josh Dowling's article comparing hatchbacks and SUVs missed one other factor. Most people my age, particularly women over 70, buy SUVs because of dicky knees and hips. Getting into low cars can be difficult and painful and with the extra height of an SUV, we avoid this. We choose small SUVs because we don't need enormous Toorak tractors.
Laurelle Williams, email
Your point hits home - I watched my parents-in-law eschew a Mazda3 for a Mazda CX-3 for the very reasons you state. Their argument? At their stage in life they're not bothered paying a few extra grand for the added ease of access.
My friend's Mazda CX-5 with Soul Red paint has an excessive amount of stone chips. Touch- up paint isn't available and I've heard of other owners having the same issue with Mazda's red. A panel beater has quoted $3000-$5000 to repair - but will it just happen again?
Rodger Armstrong, email
My friend's six-month-old Soul Red Mazda CX-5 already has 27 chips in the paint and they're getting bigger. She pulled a dead insect off the bonnet and the paint came with it. Her Mazda dealer has offered no help.
Trish Berghouse, email
Mazda's signature red paint is beautiful but this appears to be a growing problem. Mazda refuses to discuss individual cases, only suggesting owners should talk to their dealer or call its customer service on 1800 034 411. My local smash repairer tells me they need specific training to work with Soul Red, hence the heftier charge to reapply it.
A GOOD SLAP?
I drive a 2016 Holden Commodore VFII SSV. After a year of ownership I noticed very loud noises coming from the engine on cold start-up, especially in cold weather. The noise goes away after two minutes. My Holden dealer listened and diagnosed piston slap, which they said is not a defect or durability concern for this engine. Is there anything to worry about?
Richard Harris, email
The 5.7-litre LS1 V8 in the old VZ Commodore was quite prone to piston slap - an annoying knocking noise - but is less reported from your car's LS3 V8. My mechanic mate agrees it's very annoying but not harmful - but recommends you wait until the engine is warm and the noise subsides before driving off. Sit and enjoy the V8 burble a while.
I have a 2018 Audi Q7, which is terrific, but the navigation lacks such important safety features as railway crossings, school zones and red light cameras. I feel a car missing these shouldn't be allowed in this day and age when other cars have them. My Audi's a poor car, safety-wise, in my opinion.
Rob Paganoni, email
Satnav with such detail is still fairly recent technology, Rob, and although your car is new, the Q7 model has been with us for three years so suffers from slightly dated features compared to new examples. You make fair points but we can't rely on such technology to tell us everything. It assists us but doesn't rule us.
Too much effort is required to pull sun visors off their stowage clips in cars. I end up dangerously jerking the steering wheel when it finally unclips. A simple touch button spring loaded clip would solve this.
George Joyce, email
Fair call. Perhaps a luxury brand could invent a voice activated sun visor? Your move, Germany.
The Suzuki Vitara is in run-out and I'd like to know when the new model arrives. Will Suzuki extend to a 12-month service cycle rather than the current six-month services, which I find a pain?
Gerry Adams, email
The latest Swift Sport was launched this year with six-month service intervals, so it looks as if Suzuki is sticking with biannual checks, which is frustrating. At least services are cheap. The new Vitara lands in the first quarter of 2019 but no confirmed date yet.