Festival fires up the west

Sydney Festival■ Archie Roach
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Archie Roach is celebrated as one of Australia’s most gifted artists. Since his 1990 debut he has released more albums and toured with the likes of Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg and Patti Smith. At the festival, Roach will perform songs from his new album Into The Bloodstream and will be accompanied by a 13-piece music ensemble and a 10-voice Gospel choir. Date: Australia Day, at The Parade Ground at Old King’s. Cost: Free.

■ Briefs

A disorderly line-up of Australia’s finest performers and mischief-makers in a circus-infused variety show for the not-so-faint- hearted. Date: From January 18 to 27 at the Salon Perdu Spiegeltent, in Prince Alfred Park, Parramatta. Cost: $40.

■ Lah-Lah

Lovable characters Buzz the Bandleader, Lola the dancing double bass, Tom Tom the drums, Mister Saxophone and Squeezy Sneezy the accordion join their ring leader Lah-Lah in a musical spectacular that kids will love. Date: Australia Day, January 26, from 7pm, at The Parade Ground at Old King’s. Cost: Free.

■ Leah Flanagan

Leah Flanagan will sing a collection of songs from her latest album Midnight Muses. The album was inspire by poet Sam Wagan Watson’s award-winning work Smoke Encrypted Whispers. Date: January 20 at the Salon Perdu Spiegeltent. Cost: $30.

■ Lianne La Havas

Londoner Lianne La Havas will perform her neo soul teamed with folk-pop hits which feature off her Mercury Prize-nominated album, Is Your Love Big Enough?. Date: January 22 and January 23, at 7pm, at the Salon Perdu Spiegeltent.

Cost: $35.

■ The New Mendicants

Norman Blake and Joe Pernice, who make up The New Mendicants will have you in awe when they perform new material.

Date: January 26 at 7pm and 27 at 5pm, at Salon Perdu Spiegeltent. Cost: $35.

■ Parra Opening Party

The heart of Parramatta will be transformed into an extravaganza. Bring the kids and enjoy an afternoon of music and activities in and around Riverside Theatres. Explore The Megaphone Project along Church Street; listen to a symphony of car stereos by composer Matthew Timmis in Car-Cophony and visit Prince Alfred Park. Date: January 19.

Cost: Free.

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Past graces and haunts historical sites in district

Elizabeth Farm Norine Collins and Trevor Patrick at Hambledon Cottage, Rosehill. Picture: Gene Ramirez
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St Bartholomews Church, Prospect. The church contains the tomb of explorer, William Lawson. Picture: Peter Rae

Elizabeth Farm

WESTERN Sydney is home to many historical sites for residents and tourists to enjoy its heritage, arts and culture in buildings and open spaces.

A great place to start is the Blacktown Arts Centre and the Visitor Information and Heritage Centre in Flushcombe Road.

People are directed to the Alroy Tavern at Rooty Hill Road, Plumpton; the Battle of Vinegar Hill Monument at Windsor Road, Rouse Hill, the Blacksmith Shed at Nurragingy Reserve in Doonside; Minchinbury Place at Great Western Highway in Minchinbury; Prospect Reservoir, Rouse Hill House and Farm in Rouse Hill; St Bartholomew’s Church at Prospect, The Manse at Mt Druitt; and The Royal Cricketers Arms Inn at Prospect.

One of the historical highlights is a hair-raising ghost tour on New Year’s Eve at Blacktown’s historic Saint Bartholomew’s Church from 6pm. A guide will take people through St Bartholomew’s Church graveyard which is home to the graves of many early settlers, most famously William Lawson, one of the first group of Europeans to cross the Blue Mountains, and Thomas Willmot, the first shire president of Blacktown.

The night starts at 6pm and costs $35 a person. Dinner at the church is at 6.30pm, followed by the ghost tour and to finish just before the fireworks at midnight to welcome in the new year.

You can spend a beautiful night out at St Bartholomew’s, and if it’s a clear night, you may see the spectacular fireworks display over Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River.

Ghost tours are conducted by The Guides of St Bartholomew’s. Bookings are essential. For more information or bookings contact 9839 6000.

The best introduction to Parramatta’s heritage sites and stories is at the Heritage Centre at 346A Church Street Parramatta.

You will find information about area’s history explained through photos, stories and artefacts. There is a local studies library, a gallery space, activities, workshops, and a visitor information centre providing maps, guide books and advice.

■Experiment Farm Cottage stands on the site of the first land grant in Australia, made in 1789 by Governor Phillip to James Ruse.

■Elizabeth Farm is a rare example of an early Australian colonial bungalow built in 1793 for John and Elizabeth Macarthur, pioneers of the Australian wool industry.

■Hambledon Cottage was built by John Macarthur in 1824 as a second house on his Elizabeth Farm Estate.

Its many early occupants include Sir Edward Macarthur, Archdeacon Thomas Hobbes Scott and Dr Matthew Anderson.

■Step back 190 years in time, to when Governor Lachlan Macquarie was governor and visit historic Lancer Barracks . Lancer Barracks has been home to the 1/15th Royal NSW Lancers for well over 100 years, giving rise to their nickname, he Parramatta Lancers

The Lancers is Australia’s oldest surviving and most decorated regiment.

For more information, call 9635 8149, during business hours or 0416 026 816 after hours .

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Ferry ride secret’s out

Great family outing: Brett Dunne (right) and partner Julie Sloan take their boys Clancy (front) and Sam on a tour of the Parramatta River. Picture: Gene RamirezWORD is starting to spread with tourists that a ride on the Parramatta Ferry is one of Sydney’s best-kept secrets.
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Until recently tourist guide books ignored the Parramatta River service in favour of more popular ferry journeys to Manly or Balmain.

But attitudes towards the Parramatta River are changing thanks to a big clean-up and tourist numbers are growing with people wanting to cross the city in a more leisurely manner.

One family keen to get off the beaten track was Cobar couple Brett Dunne and his partner Julie Sloan.

The pair took their children to Sydney for the first time in December with their youngest son Sam needing an operation at Westmead Children’s Hospital.

Following the advice of a hospital nurse Mr Dunne decided to take a different route on their way back to city.

“It’s a great way to see the city and get away from the busy roads and train lines,” Mr Dunne said.

“Coming from country NSW we enjoy a bit of water because we’re so used to seeing fields of red dirt.”

Hopping on at Parramatta Charles Street interchange, the Dunne family lapped up the warm boating weather on their one and a half hour journey to Circular Quay.

Mr Dunne said the ferry let his family escape the busy crowded streets and sail under the Sydney Harbour Bridge for some essential tourist photos.

“I drive a road-train back home and my partner is a full-time waitress so it’s nice to relax and unwind a bit,” Mr Dunne said. “My boys Sam and Clancy seem to like it.”

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Lane appeals murder conviction

Keli Lane is appealing her conviction for murdering her baby.Former Australian water polo representative Keli Lane has formally lodged an appeal against her conviction for the 1996 murder of her baby daughter, Tegan.
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And Lane is now set to make an application to be released on bail pending the appeal hearing.

Lane was found guilty by a Supreme Court jury in December 2010 after a four-month trial – a decision which has caused considerable debate within the legal fraternity and the wider community.

Tegan’s body was never found and therefore no cause of death was ever determined.

On Friday Ms Lane’s solicitor, Ben Archbold, formally lodged eight grounds of appeal.

This included the argument that the trial judge, Justice Anthony Whealy, should have instructed the jury that manslaughter and infanticide were alternative charges to consider when deciding on their verdict.

Lane’s defence team, which Mr Archbold said would be led by defence barrister Winston Terracini SC, will also argue that the Crown Prosecutor in the case, Mark Tedeschi, QC, reversed the onus of proof in his closing address by positing a series of questions that he said the defence had to answer.

In criminal trials the prosecution must prove a person’s guilt, rather than the defence proving their innocence.

“Keli’s confident because she hasn’t done anything wrong,” Mr Archbold said.

“She really does maintain her innocence. It’s been a long fight and she’s looking forward to her appeal and she’s excited by it.”

He said the defence team would also lodge an application for bail which they expected to be heard early next year.

“We believe that the grounds of appeal warrant her being on the outside. It’s going to be a lengthy appeal … a person shouldn’t remain languishing in custody.

“There’s been no baby found, there’s been no cause of death – nothing can be ruled out.”

The developments come after the trial’s presiding judge, retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Whealy, QC, revealed to Fairfax he did not personally believe the Crown had proved its case against Lane, and he was unconvinced of her guilt.

Lane, the trial heard, had multiple secret pregnancies in the 1990s, two ending in termination and two in adoption. Tegan was born at Auburn hospital on September 12, 1996, and within hours of her discharge two days later, Lane appeared at a friend’s wedding without the infant. The child has not been seen since.

Among the points to be argued on the appeal is that the guilty verdict was unsafe, as it cannot be supported by the evidence.

In documents seen by Fairfax Media, it is submitted that the body of Tegan Lane – if she is dead – has never been discovered, or located, meaning that the Crown cannot point to any deliberate act done by Lane to cause her death.

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She says, he says: Nissan GT-R

How much? $170,800 plus on-road and dealer costs
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Vital statistics: 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6; 404kW/628Nm; 6-speed dual clutch automatic transmission; 11.7L/100km and 278g/km CO2

She: I’ve always admired this beast from afar – it cuts a mean Stormtrooper-tough figure on the road, and the designer in me loves those uncompromising, wind-tunnel-derived angles. I spent most of my driving time in awe of the power, and that mechanical whine. Are you as enamoured of Godzilla as I am?

He: I’m not falling over myself to the same extent. But it is a reasonably impressive beast. Beast being the operative word. I agree it looks the part with a menacing demeanour. But it’s the figures and ability that get me drooling more – 404kW, four-wheel-drive and some incredible engineering to make it all work.

She: So true – it wouldn’t be such a “hook in and hold on” power ride without some serious tech under the bonnet. But unlike other performance car manufacturers who sink plenty of time into safeguarding the driver from overzealous out-of-control moments, the GT-R has been known to chew up and spit its drivers, especially on the track. I found the stability control and other interventions fairly harsh and grindy for a $170k vehicle.

He: Yeah they can get aggressive, but that’s because they have to. Even a quick stab of the throttle builds some serious pace, which means you arrive at the next bend carrying genuine speed. At no point does the GT-R feel undernourished when it comes to acceleration. But I do get a bit tired of the performance claims – 2.8 seconds to 100km/h. We couldn’t get close even when using every megabyte of software.

She: Yes, the launch figures are a far cry from our track times. But as a mere mortal pilot, I really like the way this car focuses on driver ergonomics. The whole wheel and instrument bank is adjustable, which really works for shorties like moi, and the paddles are in the perfect spot, with leather edging making them some of the sleekest flippers around. Then again there’s that seat, with its barely upholstered rods pincering each thigh into place. That took a bit of getting used to.

He: Performance aside, one thing I love with the GT-R is that brilliant data centre with all sorts of funky stuff – G-forces, pedal positions and the temperature of just about every component on the car. It gives it a hint of race car feel and brings a bit of PlayStation to the car.

She: I love the instrumentation and the way the graphics mirror the nature of the car. And how is that Bose sound system? The awesome audio is standard for Australia. I also wouldn’t mind the fancier leather offered as an option overseas. I’d also option some legroom in the back if I could.

He: Yeah comfort and practicality are not a GT-R’s forte. My biggest issue is how it behaves on the road. Sure, they’ve made the suspension more compliant, but it’s still very firm and is accompanied by plenty of tyre roar. The gearbox is also a race track special – it blasts through the gears brilliantly when you’re flipping the paddles but is pretty dopey if you stick it in D for drive.

She: It’s a bone-rattling kidney-smasher on unkempt roads and a noisy ride on the highway at speed – perhaps the Bose is there to sweeten that deal. Despite a few daily drive concessions like the reversing camera (which you absolutely need to park this thing), it’s really a car for special occasions and track play. Otherwise it’s a lot of cash for a car that subjects its passengers to a relentlessly loud, bashy drive. Does it tempt you?

He: If I had a (really) big garage and plenty of cash a GT-R would be on my wish list. But I’d struggle to live with it day to day.

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Quick spin: Peugeot 208 Allure Sport

The car: Peugeot 208 Allure Sport
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From: $26,490 plus on-road and dealer costs

Vitals: 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo; 115kW/240Nm; 6-sp manual; FWD; 5.8L/100km and 135g/km CO2.

What is it?

Peugeot’s range-topping 208 city hatch model with a performance bent thanks to a turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

What does it say about me?

I’m still loyal to the brand despite the problems I may have had with my fickle old 207.

What doesn’t it say about me?

That I value reliability over style and panache.

Who else is buying it?

Previous Peugeot buyers (they’re a loyal, forgiving bunch) but also younger types who like a bit of style and technology. There will be plenty who are sold on it as soon as they sit in it.

What colours does it come in?

The most eye-catching are a blue, a bright red and a cherry cola-style hue known as black red. We would have that one.

If it were a star, who would it be?

Audrey Tautou, the star of French film Amelie. She’s cute, delightfully playful and a bit cheeky.

Why would I buy it?

Because you like the look of the standard five-door version, but the combination of automatic gearbox and non-turbo engine is just too slow for you.

Does it cost too much?

Probably. The fact it is pretty close to the same money as the Volkswagen Polo GTI – which is a more powerful and more focused hot-hatch – means there’s not a whole heap of room above it for the 208 GTI.

Will I get a deal?

Nope. It’s brand-spanking new, and they aren’t likely to be selling them in bulk. Peugeot does have fixed-price servicing on this car, so don’t let the salesperson make you think they are giving you a good deal by lining that up for you.

Any gadgets I can brag about?

The big seven-inch touch-screen media system, which takes the place of the humble CD player and replaces it with an interface for Bluetooth or USB audio players. Stupidly, though, the high-res screen isn’t used as a reversing-camera monitor. It should be, because rear vision is terrible in this thing.

Will it let me down?

Some French cars have a history of problems with electrics, and this one’s high-tech digital media system does push the boundaries a bit.

Is it safe?

Mostly. It has six airbags, reversing sensors and stability control, but misses out on the seemingly simple addition of a reversing camera.

Will it get me noticed?

We certainly got a few glances – probably because not many people have seen a 208 on the road before. But it’s not quite as eye-catching as, say, the Citroen DS3 D-Sport.

Will I get carjacked in it?

Carjackers don’t generally go for a pretty little French car as a getaway vehicle.

How’s the cabin ambience?

The interior is one of the best in its class, with stylish finishes and a smart dash layout that puts the instrument cluster above the steering wheel, so you look over it rather than through it. It can be noisy inside over coarse chip surfaces, though.

What’s the stereo like?

Rubbish if you like listening to CDs – there’s no disc slot. But overall it was easy to use on most counts.

Does it go?

Sure does. The 1.6-litre turbo engine is the same unit seen in the Citroen DS3 D-Sport, Mini Cooper and BMW 1-Series (albeit in a different state of tune). It’s not a thumper, but it builds speed without fuss and sounds great.

Does it like corners?

Indeed. It holds on nicely through the bends, and Peugeot’s innovative mini steering wheel makes piloting the Pug through them quite simple. Parking’s a cinch, too.

What about bumps?

It’s not the most sophisticated when it comes to dealing with a mid-corner bump, but overall the ride is quite good.

What about service stations?

We saw decent consumption on our 900-kilometre trip to the country. In fact, it did just over 700 kilometres on about 45 litres (averaging 6.5L/100km). But it does have a thirst for premium fuel.

Would you buy one?

No, I’d buy the Citroen DS3 D-Sport. It’s a bit more focused and its appearance lights my fire more than the Pug does.

The spin

“The Peugeot 208 is a true ‘re-generation’ in car design on all levels; architecturally, stylistically, technologically, ergonomically, and environmentally speaking.”

The translation

It’s nothing like the 207, we promise.

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Head to head: Ford Mondeo v Opel Insignia

Ford Mondeo Titanium Wagon: From $48,490 plus on-road and dealer costs; 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel; 120kW/340Nm; six-speed dual-clutch automatic; FWD; 6.2L/100km and 165g/km CO2.
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Opel Insignia Select Sports Tourer: From $48,990 plus on-road and dealer costs; 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel; 118kW/350Nm; six-speed automatic; FWD; 6.0L/100km and 157g/km CO2.Value

Ford

Slightly cheaper, with standard gear including sunroof, blind-spot warning system, lane departure warning system, radar cruise control, cornering headlights with automatic high-beam, foglights, daytime running lights, body kit, sports suspension, 18-inch wheels, smart key with push-button start, leather trim, heated front seats, front and rear parking sensors, electric driver’s seat adjustment. Seven airbags. No rear camera.

Opel

$500 more. Matches most equipment of Mondeo, but adds bigger 19-inch wheels, sports seats, electric park brake, bi-xenon headlights with cornering function and satellite navigation as standard. Misses out on the high-tech safety warning systems and radar cruise control. No rear camera. No sunroof or smart key, no electric seat adjustment. Six airbags.

Winner: FordInside

Ford

An ageing interior but still practical and comfortable. Lots of storage and heaps of space in the rear seat make it a viable family wagon. Huge boot space of 542 litres. Some may find the interior design dull.

Opel

A nicer looking interior with a lot more bling at first glance, but the buttons can be confusing and there are some highly reflective surfaces that can reflect sun into the driver’s eyes. Significantly less space in the back seat. Smaller (but still reasonable) 500-litre boot and smallish boot opening.

Winner: FordUnder the bonnet

Ford

A great diesel engine with excellent flexibility and a top-notch six-speed dual-clutch auto that hardly ever makes a mistake. Quieter at idle with little vibration through the seat, and isn’t as vocal when the revs rise. Fuel consumption is marginally worse but not enough to sway us to choose the Opel.

Opel

A strong engine with linear power delivery that makes for comfortable motoring. Strong pulling power from low in the rev range. Six-speed auto does a good job of choosing gears in most instances. Very good fuel consumption for a family hauler. Can be noisy under heavy throttle and there is some noticeable diesel grumble at idle.

Winner: FordHow it drives

Ford

A sporty drive, but more liveable in everyday urban situations than the Opel. It finds the ideal mix of cornering ability and comfort, with superior road-holding and on-road refinement, decent steering feel and a good ride at low speeds despite its 18-inch wheels.

Opel

More focused on fun than family. Big wheels and sports suspension mean the ride isn’t great over lumpy sections, and can pitter-patter from side to side. It does offer a commendable experience through corners, though, with the body sitting flat and the steering offering good weight and feel.

Winner: FordStyling

Ford

Due for a revamp next year, but to our eye it still looks contemporary enough. Nowhere near as eye-catching as the Opel, though.

Opel

A very nice looking station wagon, with smooth lines and sleek finishes. It has been around since 2009 in Europe, but still looks very fresh.

Winner: OpelVerdict

Ford

An oldie but a goodie. Still offers excellent value as a family car, and oodles of practicality too.

Opel

Newcomer’s good looks and reasonable equipment list aren’t enough to get it across the line against the stalwart Ford.

Winner: Ford

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Star and car: Geoff Lawson

Former Australian fast-bowler Geoff Lawson and his Ford Mondeo.The low-down: A lively paced swing bowler and qualified optometrist from Wagga Wagga, Lawson was once regarded as Australia’s leading quick.
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Career Highlights: International debut in 1980-81; 180 test wickets for Australia; part of the 1989 Ashes-winning tour; coach of Pakistan in 2007, leadiing the team to the ICC World Twenty20 final.

Memorable moments: “Bouncing” Geoff Boycott; having his jaw broken by Curtly Ambrose; receiving an Order of Australia in 1990 for services to cricket.

Current gigs: Involved with online coaching site www.centrewicket南京夜网; cricket pundit for Sky Sports and commentator for ABC Radio.

What was your first car?

It was a two-tone pink Holden EK, cost $100. My old man owned a garage and we were able to piece it together and keep it on the road with fencing wire and Paddle Pop sticks, as you do. I had it from the time I was in fifth form in high school until I played Sheffield Shield cricket. When I got into the state cricket squad, Tooheys were our sponsors and I used to put Tooheys stickers all over the rust spots, just to cover them up.

What happened to it in the end?

I took a year off uni to go to England to play league cricket and I left the car with my mates. We did the rego transfer into their name – $4 it cost – and it broke down the next day, never to go again.

What are you driving now?

A European model Ford Mondeo. I was at a race day with my son at a track outside Goulburn and [race driver] Andrew Miedecke was there and we were having a chat. I ended up buying the car from him, even though his dealership was in Port Macquarie. But it’s a good car. It’s got the essentials: a boot big enough to put two or three sets of golf sticks and/or the cricket gear. And I fit in it, which is my major criteria for buying cars. You’ve got to be able to fit in when you’re six-foot-four with a dodgy back.

What’s your ideal car?

I did have a drive of a Rolls Royce last year. We played this charity cricket game in the Barossa, and one of the sponsors drove a couple of them over. He let me drive one from Adelaide Airport up to the Barossa. I think it retailed in Australia for $996,000. It was the most nervous hour-and-a-half drive I’ve ever had, but it was so smooth. You hardly knew you were moving. There was no engine noise, no vibrations from the road. It was like you were floating. It was a superb vehicle to drive. I can see why they cost that much when they drive that well.

What’s your favourite drive?

Port Elizabeth to Cape Town via the Garden Route is especially spectacular. I’ve done it about four times. If you want to stop at a beachside resort town, you can do it. Or if you turn inland you end up in the dry, arid interior within about 10 Ks. Then from 50 Ks out you can see Table Mountain in the background and you just drive straight towards it. It’s quite unique.

Vital statistics

3: the number of years I’ve had my Mondeo.

3: the number of Honda Accords I’ve owned.

Car lover gauge – 2

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High five: top-selling SUVs

Sports utility vehicles are purpose-made for the quintessential Australian lifestyle.
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The blend of flexibility and off-road versatility they offer are a perfect match for a spot of camping, a bit of sport and regular trips to the beach.

And it shows in the sales charts. Sales of compact SUVs are up by 32 per cent this year in a market that is up by only 10 per cent, and the boom is unlikely to end soon, as all-new entrants come in and some of the existing players bring in new versions of popular models.

As 2012 draws to a close, we’ve had a look at the five best-selling compact SUVs in Australia this year, and run the eye over a couple of new versions of once-popular models that could shift the market in 2013.

Nissan’s X-Trail has led sales in the category this year, ahead of Mazda’s CX-5, which is close behind despite giving its competitors a head start in the sales race by not hitting forecourts until February.

Toyota’s RAV4 and Subaru’s Forester are still selling well, despite the fact that new models are just over the horizon.

Nissan also has another hit on its hand with the more city-friendly Dualis, which was spun off the same platform as the chunkier X-Trail.

Here are the top five in order of sales:

Nissan X-Trail

The Nissan X-Trail is on track to be the top-selling compact SUV for this year despite the fact that the current model has been largely unchanged since late 2007.

The key to its success in recent months has been some radical pencil-sharpening. You can buy one for about $27,990 drive-away at the moment. That’s less than the recommended retail price and a saving of roughly $4000.

That’s a tempting incentive, but the X-Trail is showing its age against more polished newcomers.

It is the only top-selling compact SUV to have a four-star ANCAP crash safety score and its fuel economy can’t compete with its closest challenger, the CX-5.

The car received a mild facelift in 2010, but mechanically little has changed, which means its on-road dynamics are off the pace in 2012.

The job of staying on top will get even harder next year, with the Mazda CX-5 on track to overtake it and new versions of the RAV4 and Forester likely to give it a hard time.

Mazda CX-5

Mazda’s CX-5 gave its rivals a head start this year and has rounded up all but one in the sales race.

It has won fans with its combination of above-par road manners, sharp styling and fuel-saving features that helped it to win Drive’s Car of the Year trophy as the Best SUV Under $40,000.

The Mazda’s stop-start system and Skyactiv technology help the diesel version achieve 5.7 litres per 100 kilometre fuel economy, while the base petrol car uses just 6.4L/100km.

One of the few criticisms levelled against the CX-5 was that its 114kW, 200Nm, 2.0 litre, four-cylinder engine lacked grunt. But that engine has been discontinued for 2013, and replaced by a 2.5-litre four with 138kW 250Nm.

The other question mark against the CX-5 is linked to its diesel engine, which has problems relating to its oil levels, but Mazda assures us a fix has been found.

Toyota RAV4

Toyota revealed the look of its new RAV4 at the Los Angeles motor show in November. The new model shares elements of Toyota’s new look with the Corolla and Camry.

It will also have some significant mechanical changes, mainly under the bonnet.

The thirsty 200kW V6 used in the current RAV4 will be swapped for a fuel-efficient 2.2 litre four-cylinder diesel turbo diesel that should give the car sub 6L/100km fuel use figures.

Toyota has not yet revealed power figures for the diesel RAV4, which has never before been offered in Australia. The offer of a diesel option is sure to boost sales.

Front-drive models will also use a Corolla-sourced 102kW 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder, while the Camry will donate its 2.5 litre, 133kW engine for use in all-wheel-drive cars.

The all-wheel-drive versions are expected to offer a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions, while the base car will carry the Corolla’s six-speed manual or continuously variable transmission.

Nissan Dualis

Nissan’s Dualis shares much of its underpinnings with the more rugged-looking X-Trail, but looks worlds apart with a hatchback aesthetic that has proved particularly popular with buyers looking for a smaller SUV.

Dualis is the smallest among the top five compact SUVs, but it has versatility that belies its size.

The car is available in two or four-wheel-drive and gives buyers the option of a third row of seats in the form of the Dualis+2.

The Dualis+2 blurs the lines between motoring’s traditional hatchback, people mover and SUV segments.

Despite its relative age, the Dualis beat the Mitsubishi ASX, Suzuki SX4 and Subaru Impreza XV in a small SUV shootout last year and continues to be popular with buyers.

Subaru Forester

Subaru has dumped conventional automatic gearboxes for CVT transmissions in its 2013 Forester range and like Toyota, it will offer a range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines.

The Forester has been the most successful car in Subaru’s Australian history, and the new model should bring customers back to the brand.

Unlike many of its rivals, Subaru has stuck to its guns and will continue to sell the all-wheel-drive Forester without offering a two-wheel-drive option.

Next year’s all-new Forester is larger than the current model and will feature improved engines as well as a six-speed manual option on the base 2.0 litre Forester X, though other models are likely to be CVT-only.

The existing Forester’s 108kW, 350Nm diesel uses just 5.3L/100km of fuel, a figure that the new car should be able to better.

Petrol-powered Foresters will feature stop-start systems to help them keep pace in the race to use less fuel and high-spec examples will be loaded with technology including electric assistance for off-road driving, and Subaru’s Eyesight system, which can alert drivers of potentially dangerous objects and brake to avoid them.

We’ve had a pre-production drive of the new Forester and found that it is still capable off the beaten track, though it is more suited to the city life.

Mitsubishi Outlander

Mitsubishi’s Outlander was a top-five seller a few years back and is another compact SUV that offers seven-seat versatility as an option.

The brand released a new version of its SUV in November and it could have a serious impact on the Australian SUV market. Run-out sales of the superseded model saw the Outlander soar above the CX-5 and X-Trail to be the best-selling SUV for October 2012, though it couldn’t repeat the feat in November.

Outlander has a new look that has not met with universal acclaim, and it doesn’t offer the driving dynamics of the Mazda CX-5 or the value of Nissan’s X-Trail.

As with many of its rivals, Mitsubishi uses continuously variable automatic transmissions in the Outlander range, but for the top-spec diesel which has a conventional six-speed auto.

The Outlander dropped its flagship V6 model in favour of a turbo diesel V6 with 110kW and 360Nm.

The all-wheel-drive diesel offers 5.8L/100km fuel economy and is the pick of the range, but it costs $12,000 more than the entry-level front-wheel-drive base car and the sticker price can reach beyond $50,000.

Honda CR-V

Honda’s CR-V was also a top-five seller but has slipped with the rest of the brand in the past couple of years.

The Japanese brand has sold more than 5.5 million CRVs since the car’s launch in 1995, including 130,000 in Australia. The Thai-built, fourth-generation CR-V was launched last month and is available for the first time with two-wheel-drive.

A 2.0-litre, 114kW four-cylinder motor puts power to the front wheels in the base CR-V, while a stronger 2.4-litre, 140kW engine gets four-wheel-drive models moving.

The new CR-V is about small changes under the skin rather than a revolutionary new approach to soft-roading.

It’s an approach that should be safe with buyers, who will have to make do without features such as stop-start fuel-saving technology that give competitors a green edge.

The five best-selling compact SUVs for 2012, and the deals manufacturers are offering:

* Drive away pricing for private owners in Sydney.

** Plus on-road and dealer costs

For more car reviews, video and news download the free Drive app. It updates every Friday with seven pages of fresh content from the Drive team.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

How to smile

The festive season brings with it a few inevitabilities – indulgence in delicious food, annoying Christmas carols, and giving or receiving an unwanted present.
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And then there’s the Unhappy Snappee.

Every family has one – the person who refuses to smile for the birdie, looks sternly at the lens, or barks at anyone even attempting to include them in a picture.

How to get them involved in a happy snap or two as part of Christmas celebrations?

“The key is to relax,” according to photographer Alex Kennison from Savvy Studios.

“But some people will always be uptight and nervous in front of the camera – generally those people have had bad photos taken by friends and family all their lives and are now a bit paranoid.”

Kennison says that in that case, candid photographs will always look better than forced smiles.

“Try getting the kids to take photographs. Kids are often less threatening than adults … and Nanna will always smile for the grandkids.”

Kennison photographs weddings, parties, anything, and has some helpful hints for both the subject and the photographer.

Tips for the subjectTake fewer “selfies” – ie, self-portraits with your smartphone camera. Kennison says such photos are actually taken at an unflattering angle, because the phones’ wide-angle lenses distort your features. “Everyone’s so used to taking selfies, they’re used to looking like that.” Instead, get someone to use a proper camera from a distance, and zoom in on your face for a more natural, flattering angle.If you can, find a close friend or family member, someone you trust, to take the photo. It will help you feel more relaxed.If you’re worried about a double (or triple!) chin, position your body side on to the camera, then turn your head back towards it, looking slightly upwards. The movement stretches your neck and creates a more defined jawline.Smile with your eyes. This is crucial, according to Kennison, particularly if you worry about your teeth. “You can smile with your mouth closed and it still works, as long as you have smiling eyes.”If you’re really nervous, try having a little drink. “People will be more inclined to smile and enjoy themselves in front of the camera with a little bit of alcohol in their system.” But that is NOT carte blanche as Kennison says things can get ugly fast. “Half the time they’ve got their eyes closed, or they’re falling over. I’ve almost lost equipment.”

Tips for the photographerEngage the subject in banter. Try to find out things about them, or ask them to share memories or stories. Recalling details will ease their nerves, and provoke emotion, which then comes through their expression.Make jokes. Kennison suggests Borat impressions, or asking everybody to say “knickers!” instead of “cheese”. “Bad dad jokes like that really work well.”Focus on the image as a whole – foreground, background, the emotion of the subject, relationships between the subjects if there are more than one – it will help the subject realise you are not focusing on their perceived physical flaws.It’s the person who takes the photo, not the camera. If you invest in a good quality dSLR camera, put in some time learning how to use its settings. “The appreciation of the art of photography has been lost in this digital age,” says Kennison.

Toothy grins

If you don’t smile because you’re worried about exposing your teeth, Andrew Wong from the Australian Dental Association Queensland says it may be time to visit a dentist.

“The vast majority of dental problems are preventable,” says the Ipswich-based dentist, recommending brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, getting six-monthly check-ups and maintaining a healthy diet with limited sugar and acid.

“Keeping the levels of bacteria in the mouth low can prevent periodontal or gum disease, which reduces the body’s ability to fight infection,” says Dr Wong.

Smoking not only stains your teeth yellow, but can cause oral cancers. It’s another good reason to quit.

Tooth-whitening is an option to improve colour, but it’s recommended to do it through a dentist to ensure the right application of chemical lighteners.

Composite fillings can be used for minor chips and cracks; composite or porcelain veneers for more severe fractures or discolourations.

“Crowns can be put over teeth to strengthen them and change their shape, but we only do that if the tooth is badly broken down,” says Dr Wong.

Orthodontics is another way of improving your smile, with the old-school metal mashers replaced with clear brackets, or even braces that attach to the inside of your teeth. Sequential aligners are a series of clear moulds that the wearer changes frequently to slowly move their teeth into a more desired position.

Dr Wong says while many remain scared of the dentist, a large number of procedures these days are relatively painless.

“It’s important for you to establish what you want with your smile, and to make sure the dentist understands and can deliver that,” he says.

“And always try the most conservative treatment first.”

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Synthetic drugs warning

Queenslanders have been warned of the increasing risk posed by synthetic drugs, particularly cannabis and amphetamine varieties.
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In a new report on the illicit drug market by the Crime and Misconduct Commission, methylamphetamines (in some forms known as “gooey” or “ice”) and MDMA (known as ecstasy) are re-emerging as the major problems in Queensland.

Most methylamphetamine in Queensland is produced domestically in illegal drug labs, using “precursor chemicals” imported from China, Thailand, Cambodia and India.

Queensland has Australia’s major problem with illicit drug labs – with 50 per cent of Australia’s drug labs exposed in Queensland.

While traditional cannabis and heroin are losing their appeal, cocaine has increased as a drug threat for the first time since 2004.

Queensland still has an established heroin market, with the most concentrated activity occurring in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

The supply of heroin in Queensland relies heavily on links to Sydney and Melbourne.

But the study warns the emerging trend is for “synthetic” drugs, which mimic the effect of ecstasy and amphetamines.

“Tablets marketed as ‘ecstasy’ may contain a range of harmful substances other than MDMA including piperazines and drug analogues,” the report says.

“One of the most harmful substances found in ‘ecstasy’ tablets has been the highly toxic PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine), which has been linked to deaths.”

The trends are revealed in the CMC’s latest research, released on Friday, on the eve of one of the biggest user periods of recreational drugs, the Christmas-New Year period.

The CMC’s assistant commissioner, crime, Kathleen Florian, said they believed organised crime was targeting “niche” markets to improve profits.

“The most pervasive form of organised crime activity in Queensland is the sale and distribution of illicit drugs,” Ms Florian said.

She said organised crime groups were identifying “niche markets” and then targeting vulnerable user groups or regions.

“They rarely focus on one commodity and will seek alternative suppliers to meet demand, often mixing drugs with a range of highly toxic or untested substances, which means taking any of them can be like playing Russian roulette.”

It warns that synthetic drugs that mimic the effect of ecstasy and amphetamines are now being detected by police.

The study, Illicit Drug Markets 2012, shows:Methylamphetamine type stimulants are now rated a “very high” risk.Pharmaceuticals have jumped from a “low” risk to almost a “high” risk in three years.Synthetic cannabis and synthetic stimulants have jumped from “low” to “high” risk in three years.Performance and “image-enhancing” drugs have appeared as a “medium” threat.Traditional cannabis and heroin are still rated as “high” threats, but are declining.Cocaine is increasing for the first time since 2004 from a “medium” to a “high” threat.

Cannabis or old-fashioned marijuana is still the major drug problem in Queensland by volume, and is a major problem in some north Queensland indigenous communities. It is widely viewed as a “background” drug, used with many other pills, amphetamines or “harder” drugs.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Merry Hoffmas from Supanova

Actor and singer David Hasselhoff is coming to SupaNova Gold Coast in April.Dust off your red speedos, fire up your talking car – David Hasselhoff is coming to town.
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The star of Baywatch, Knight Rider and that infamous drunken cheeseburger YouTube video has been announced as special guest for the 2013 Supanova event on the Gold Coast in April.

The Hoff was a TV institution in the 80s as Michael Knight, crime-fighting partner of K.I.T.T the talking Trans Am in Knight Rider.

He hit mega-stardom in the early ’90s as Mitch Buchannon on Baywatch, the chief lifeguard at a Los Angeles beach that featured pneumatically-enhanced lady lifeguards who ran in slow motion and delivered CPR on an alarmingly frequent basis.

More recently, the 60-year-old’s appeared as himself in a number of movies and TV shows, showing a good sense of humour about his own celebrity status.

He’s been a judge on Dancing With the Stars, America’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent, and has appeared in a number of stage musicals, including Chicago in London’s West End and Jekyll and Hyde on Broadway.

The Hoff was particularly popular as a singer in Germany, and even sang his single Looking for Freedom on the partly-demolished Berlin Wall on New Year’s Eve 1989, while wearing a flashing jacket, which was the style at the time.

That same song will feature on the soundtrack of the upcoming movie adaptation of the epic Cloud Atlas, which indicates if nothing else that the Wachowskis have a great sense of humour.

If you don’t think The Hoff has enough geek cred for Supanova, may we draw your attention to a 1998 telemovie called Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

That’s right, The Hoff was Nick Fury BEFORE Samuel L. Jackson.

Coincidentally, Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. starred Garry Chalk, who will also be coming out as a Supanova Supastar. His cartoon cred extends to voicing Optimus Prime in the Transformers series of the 1990s.

Eliza Dushku (Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Natalie Tena (Tonks in Harry Potter and Osha in Game of Thrones) are also heading our way for the pop culture festival, which runs April 20 and 21 at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Businesses are very much appreciated

Ian Saunders is quick topoint out that sponsorship by local businesses is very much appreciated and needsto be made public and acknowledged at every opportunity. Last week it wasTransfield Services with the donation of two new boards and this week GerryMaguire from GJ Gardner Homes came up with a hefty donation of $2500.
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GJ Gardner Homes were keen toget involved in a community based organisation and since Gerry has history withEsperance Goldfields SLSC it was a logical choice. His children Jake and Elliewere members from 2000 to 2006 and Gerry helped run juniors during those years.Last year Gerry organised $500 to help out to repair skis. This year histhoughts were to donate a percentage of houses sold during the months of Maythrough to December. Thus he was keen to present the monies to Ian Saunders asthe President of Esperance Goldfields SLSC, last Sunday and the sum of $2500.

The AJ Read Marathon was runon Sunday under magnificent conditions. Ian Saunders stepped in the starter’sbox this week explaining the rules and the course. This was a 500 metre swim,200 metre wade followed by a 1000 metre run by individuals or teams. In theindividuals, the gazelle Lucy Oorschot, showing true grit and determinationtook out first place with Sharon Henning second. The old man of triathlonsGraham Donovan led the men’s brigade first home. The team’s results saw thecombination of Sean Hazeldean and Cameron Saunders in first place. Specialmention goes to the team of Jack Oorschot, Angus Barter and Lachlan “TheRocket” Kerr for finishing a well deserved third place. We look forward to nextweek’s Ian Saunders Memorial Swim ?

The young rowers had achallenging experience at the Navy Series at Port Bouvard last weekend. But;but with Oversby and Brien as sharing the “chief de mission” duties one wouldhave considered that a pre requisite when towing a trailer would be to bringthe spare tyre? Imagine this. 10 pm Sunday night, 8 km out of Ravensthorpe,tyre blows, rubber peels off rim, sparks fly. Ask the “chief de missions” thisSunday what happened next?

This Sunday sees Santadropping in for a lightening visit, the Chrismas Cake Regatta and the IntraPatrol Challenge. We’ll all need to Monday off to recover!

this week Gerry Maguire from GJ Gardner Homes came up with a hefty donation of $2500.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.