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The new Nissan Leaf electric car will be
available next year from 89 dealers
across Australia, including 27 regional
centres, as Nissan makes a concerted
effort to take EVs to the mainstream.
Despite the small number of EV sales
in Australia, over the past eight years
Nissan has sold 360,000 Leafs in 51
markets. The new Leaf has a 40kWh
battery (up from 24kWh), giving it an
average range of 270km, according to
Nissan’s testing. It’s also more powerful,
a 110kW/320Nm powertrain propelling it
from 0–100km/h in 7.9 seconds.
The company commissioned a great
deal of market research in Australia,
which found attitudes to EVs have
changed markedly in the past five years.
Almost two-thirds of Aussies say they’re
more willing to consider an EV for their
next purchase than they were in 2013. A
similar number say they’d only consider
buying one from an established
manufacturer (such as Nissan).
While concerns remain about public
charging infrastructure, Nissan has
partnered with Jet Charge to roll out
chargers at dealerships and install them
in consumers’ homes. The company’s
research also shows Australians drive
a daily average of 38km, meaning a Leaf
owner might ideally only need to charge
their car once a week.
MOST DRIVERS TODAY have vehicles with
an extensive suite of active and passive safety
systems. Previously only available on premium
cars or as an expensive option, technology
such as anti-skid brakes, airbags, seatbelt
pretensioners, traction control and electronic
stability control, is now standard.
Since the 1990s, the Australasian New
Car Safety Assessment Program (ANCAP) and Monash
University’s Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR) have helped
motorists make more informed choices about safety when
deciding which vehicle to buy. ANCAP (ancap.com.au)
provides a rating on a new vehicle’s ability to protect
occupants and pedestrians in the event of a crash, and also
whether it provides active safety assistance items such as
autonomous emergency braking. The Used Car Safety Ratings
analyse police-reported road crash records and rate the risk of
serious injury or death in that particular vehicle; one star
means ‘very poor’ safety, while five stars indicates ‘excellent’.
The latest UCSR guide is available on roadsafety.transport.
nsw.gov.au and has a great selection of affordable vehicles with
driver protection ratings of good or excellent. If you need an
affordable small car, Hyundai’s i30 (2007-2012) and Holden’s
Cruze (2009-2016, pictured above) start as low as $4000 and
$5400 respectively, with mileage of around 150,000km. If
you’re after something newer with fewer kilometres,
Volkswagen’s Golf (2013-2016) has a five-star UCSR rating and
is on the market from $10,300 with 75,000km on the odometer.
Need something larger for the family or a highway
commute? Both the Holden VF Commodore (2013-2016) and
Ford Falcon FG (2008-2016) will eat up the kilometres and not
burn a hole in your wallet in running costs, while providing a
reassuring five-star UCSR rating.
The skyrocketing popularity of dual-cab utes has gone hand-
in-hand with a higher level of safety features, and the Ford
Ranger (2011-2015) and Mazda BT-50 (2011-2015) are excellent
examples. Both share much of their mechanical architecture
and safety technology, while Holden’s older Colorado (2008-
2011) also has a five-star UCSR rating. Colorado prices range
from just over $10,000 and the popular Ranger from $25,000 .
However, don’t just rely on safety ratings. Even the safest
vehicle won’t perform to its potential if its tyres are worn,
under-inflated or a questionable brand. If in doubt, it’s a good
idea to buy a fresh set.
ADVICE FOR YOUR LIFE ON THE ROAD
Tim Pomroy analyses the latest data to pick the safest used cars on the market
NEW LEAF TO DROP IN 2019
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