3500 kays in the UK

Posted on January 19th, 2013 in diesel,Driving Emotion,Economy,hyundai by Julian Edgar

I’ve just come back from driving 3500 kilometres around the United Kingdom, done in 3 weeks.

The purpose was a family holiday, where we just happened to see as many engineering marvels as we could in that time and distance – something that was achieved, and will be covered in an upcoming AutoSpeed series.

A lot of the driving time was spent on the excellent freeway (“motorway”) system that exists in Britain. These roads are typically four or six lane highways – here in Australia, they’d all be marked (and enforced) at 110 km/h. And in the UK, the posted motorway limit is in fact 70 mph (113 km/h).

But the kicker is that people actually travel at 80 – 85 mph (about 135 km/h). Despite there being plenty of traffic sped cameras, and an occasional police car, the enforcement is set at a level where these speeds are fine.

And boy, does it ever make a difference to travel time when you can sit on 135 km/h in the right-hand lane!

The drivers are disciplined, courteous and aware – average for average, much better than drivers in Australia. In those 3 weeks, much of it in wet and windy weather conditions, I saw very few accidents and witnessed even fewer driving mistakes.

The Australian politicians who believe that any higher limit in (most of) Australia than 110 km/h would kill swathes of people – I wonder if any of them have driven overseas (as opposed to being chauffeured) while on their international ‘study trips’…

The car we had for the trip was a Hyundai i40 diesel ‘Blue’ wagon.


It was brand new, with only delivery kilometres on the odometer. Well-equipped in the guise we had it, it came with seat warmers, excellent navigation, dual climate control, leather, colour instruments LCD, parking sensors – and so on.

The diesel was coupled to a manual 6-speed box, that was slightly notchy when cold and always had an overly long throw. Not over-endowed with power, the car turned in a fuel economy in the low Fives in litres/100km – really excellent with the car heavily laden and often driven at speed.

Driving mostly on highways disguised one of the shortcomings of the engine – its off-boost performance (say up to 1500 rpm – and a low redline in a diesel, remember) was woeful, and the transition to on-boost torque sudden and lacking progression. In urban conditions, and especially where a sudden spurt of power was needed from a standstill, the car could border on dangerous.

Interior packaging was very good, with one exception – as with many current cars, the window sill line was too high, especially in the back. Even sitting on a booster seat, my 8-year-old son could only just see over the window line – stupid.

Ride and handling were also fine for our purpose. Grip levels weren’t huge (low rolling resistance tyres?) but with good stability control, there were no issues. Ride quality was excellent – but remember, that was with 3 people and lots of luggage. Less heavily laden, the ride would have been harsher.

I thought it a superb car for the purpose to which we put it. In fact, the Hyundai struck me as a very well built car coming from a maker with perhaps 50 years of designing and building cars behind them. Interesting, when even 5 years ago some Hyundais were dubious at best.

I’ve been shooting photos for publication for over 30 years, and I knew the trip would need lots of pics taken. However, I didn’t really want to lug around my digital Nikon SLR – so I bought a new camera. After much consideration and reading of reviews, I got a Canon G15.

What a superb little camera!

Its ability to shoot with high quality in very low light, often without flash, is exemplary. This ability comes from having a fast lens (unusual in pocket cameras), high lens quality at all apertures (again unusual in this class) and having sufficient modes to match the needs of a professional – or the rankest of amateurs. I particularly like having exposure compensation on an instant-access dial – I less like not being able to quickly modify flash output.

Especially in difficult, contrasty or low light conditions, the camera performed very well indeed.

Which workshop will be the first?

Posted on June 9th, 2008 in diesel,Driving Emotion,Economy,Engine Management,hyundai,Opinion,Power,Turbocharging by Julian Edgar

Here in Australia, major car modification workshops are generally well established. That’s said in the light of full knowledge that workshops come and go; but equally, others build a strong reputation and live on for decades. Some even span two or three generations of the one family.


I know that you can always find customers to denigrate any workshop, but places like Turbo Tune in Adelaide, Nizpro and Beninca Motors in Melbourne, MRT in Sydney, ChipTorque on the Gold Coast, and Romano Motors in Brisbane are longstanding workshops with good reputations.


And I wonder which Australian business – either these or others – will be first: the first to realise that there’s money to be made in specialising in a new-age of car modification.

Dear Hyundai PR Manager…

Posted on October 10th, 2007 in Driving Emotion,hyundai,Opinion by Julian Edgar


Tiffanny Junee
Manager, Corporate Communications and Media,
Hyundai Motor Company Australia


Re today’s telephone conversation in which you expressed unhappiness about this blog post http://blog.autospeed.com/2007/10/05/the-gravy-train/#comment and suggested that as a result of the post, you would need to carefully consider before deciding whether or not to make available a previously booked press car.

I believe that all that is written in the blog post is factually correct. I take note of your point that the iPod contained the i30 media kit (something that was not apparent when it was switched on); however, since the same material was available on the provided CD, I still believe the gift of an iPod to attending journalists was completely inappropriate. I have added a ‘PPS’ to the blog post to cover this matter.

Your expressed perspective that, as an independent journalist, I am free to write whatever I wish appears at odds with your apparent horror at my blog post. You said to me that you thought the blog post was an attack on Hyundai; I consider it to be utterly appropriate that readers should know how your launch was conducted.

That other new car launches may be held in a similar manner simply confirms to me that journalists are doing their jobs poorly by not communicating such corporate behaviour to their readers. I am certain that all readers would like to know when journalists are presented with gifts and other benefits.

If you believe it appropriate that on a new car launch journalists should be given an iPod nano to communicate your press package, and be treated to a four-course, chef-prepared lunch, then clearly you would have no problem with my disseminating these points to readers.

Regarding the long distance drive in a Hyundai i30, a proposal that was discussed at the launch and in a subsequent phone conversation. After giving this some consideration, I have decided to withdraw my offer of undertaking an 8000 kilometre test drive in your car. Simply put, after our conversation this morning, it would leave a bad taste in my mouth.

I stated to you at the i30 launch that I believe Hyundai is likely to achieve great success in the next five years. That remains my perspective, at least on its cars.

Julian Edgar B. Ed, Dip T (Sec), Grad Dip Journ