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Range Rover at the 2012 Australian International Motor Show

October 19th, 2012

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The all-new Range Rover from Land Rover was unveiled for the second time in the world at the 2012 Australian International Motor Show yesterday.

Fresh from its world unveiling at the Paris Motor Show in September, the all-new Range Rover will be a highlight of the Australian International Motor Show as it shows off a new modern interpretation of the classic Range Rover design cues.

The all-new SUV has been engineered from the ground up and is the most capable and refined Range Rover ever, capturing the innovative and iconic design of the original model, but with a bold evolution.

Land Rover has ensured the all-new Range Rover sits at the pinnacle of SUV refinement, with a spacious and luxurious interior, enhanced all-terrain performance and a truly composed driving experience.

The all-new Range Rover will be the world’s first luxury SUV with a revolutionary lightweight all-aluminium monocoque body coupled with all-new aluminium front and rear chassis’, resulting in a dramatic weight saving of up to 420 kilograms.

This in turn results in significant enhancements in performance and agility, along with a transformation in fuel economy and CO2 emissions.

“Land Rover really did change the global automotive landscape when it launched the world’s first luxury SUV, the classic Range Rover over 40 years ago,” said Russ Tyrie, Show Director.

“Evolutions of this model over the years saw exciting increases in refinement, performance and comfort – and the fourth generation Range Rover certainly takes luxury SUVs to the next level.

“We are very excited that it will be revealed at the Australian International Motor Show, which also marks the first time it is seen in the Southern Hemisphere.”

Land Rover will also conduct the Australian reveal of the 2013 Freelander 2, which has had a premium overhaul to increase driver comfort, convenience and enjoyment.

Featuring new exterior design features, upgraded equipment levels and a new lightweight petrol engine, the five-star Euro NCAP safety-rated 2013 Freelander 2 is sure to impress all who see it.

The 2012 Australian International Motor Show will be held at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour from October 19-28, 2012.

For further information about the Show and to purchase tickets, visit www.motorshow.com.auu which is also compatible with all android and Apple mobile devices.

The Australian Style Queen Opens Up Her Fabulous Life

August 13th, 2011

 

 

It sounds like a dream; styling some of the world’s biggest stars including Kirstie Alley for Dancing with the Stars, Kristin Chenoweth (Glee, Wicked The Musical, Broadway) for the final Oprah season and having Blake Lively wear your designs, but for Aussie fashion icon Sophia Banks-Coloma, it’s is all in a days’ work. With ten years of fashion experience in New York, L.A and Australia, Sophia is a formidable force in the fashion industry, with many labelling her the Aussie Rachel Zoe.

With international success as a highly established creative director, designer and stylist, and a wealth of acknowledgement in the industry; recognised by Forbes as one of its Top Ten Undiscovered Designers on the rise in 2009, and Harpers Bazaar Style leader two years running, it seems the world is her oyster.

Sophia’s fascination with fashion began at just 10 years of age when she enrolled in fashion drawing classes. Even after leaving school and moving to New York to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Sophia always knew her passion lay in fashion.

Sophia became co-owner of award-winning Hollywood hotspot Satine Boutique, styling celebrity clientele including Nicole Ritchie, Scarlett Johansson, Michelle Williams and Rachel McAdams to name a few. Sophia and business partner Jeannie Lee would also frequently provide internationally renowned stylist Rachel Zoe with their key fashion tips and trends.

Sophia’s style is influenced by her global travels and, with Sophia’s strong Australian roots, the Satine showroom regularly showcased Aussie designers including Sass and Bide, Fleur Wood and Camilla and Marc.

Sophia’s mantra is simple: “Buy what flatters you, not just what is trendy. If you are uncomfortable in it, don’t buy it; otherwise that is exactly how you will end up looking – uncomfortable.”

In 2008 Sophia, keen to put her skills as a designer to full effect, launched contemporary label Whitley Kros. The label has since established itself as a celebrity favourite, worn by the likes of Katy Perry, Blake Lively, Taylor Swift and Kate Hudson, and featured on U.S reality TV show ‘The Hills’. Testament to Sophia’s eye for detail and the brand’s innovative designs, Sophia was a semi finalist in the Ecco Domani Fashion Award and her collection was selected as a Mercedes Benz highlighted fashion show – a huge accolade for a designer.

Sophia is currently involved in the costume design for a new film by Academy Award winning Director Barrie M.Osbourne (Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Matrix and the new Great Gatsby) starring Amber Heard (Drive Angry 3D, Rum Diaries), Kellan Lutz (Twilight) and Shiloh Fernandez (Red Riding Hood). The film ‘Syrup’ is due to launch in Australia in 2012.

As with every successful person, Sophia has her own influences:

“I hugely admire Haider Ackermann and Riccardo Tisci for their great designs, Hubert Givenchy for creating the best dresses ever seen this century, and Coco Chanel for being such a rebel! In terms of style icons, I love Cate Blanchett for her elegant beauty and Charlotte Gainsburg for her effortless style. It could be said that all of the above have acted as a collective muse for my various fashion projects!”

With luxury fashion houses including Dior, Chloe, Cartier, Roland Mouret and J Mendel already lined up to provide the wardrobe for her latest venture, it seems her admiration is reciprocated, with design houses clamouring over themselves to be a part of her projects.

What an amazing woman and a fortunate opportunity to delve into the world of one of the worlds best stylists.

This is the incredible Sophia Banks-Coloma…

Sophia on Work

What projects are you currently working on or have in the near future?

I just finished the movie ‘Syrup’ in New York, designing all the wardrobe. It is an amazing project staring Amber Heard, Kellan Lutz, Shiloh Fernandez and Britanny Snow. It was a great project to work on – the director overheard me doing an interview for MTV and decided put me in the movie as the TV host interviewing one of the actors!

I am also working on dressing a number of celebrities for the red carpet and some image revamps for various new clients.

You are currently working on a movie starring Amber Heard, is this your first movie and what was your reaction when you found out?

Yes it was my first movie, and it was exciting and terrifying all at the same time. When I was pregnant I would watch the Devil Wears Prada and would think if I had the opportunity to work on a movie like that I would do it. A year later I was sitting with the director of ‘Syrup’ at the Chateau Marmont discussing the movie and he asked me to work on the costumes.

You’ve achieve incredible results for many of the brands you have worked for, landing them in major magazines around the world – how have you managed such success?

I never look around and say ‘gee I am so successful’, I am always striving for more and trying to do more things so I don’t really think about it. Right now I am thinking about two new film projects and a some fabulous new clients.

For 10 years you have been working with Hollywood’s A-List, who are the ones you really loved working with – or even loved to hate?

Kirstie Alley has been great, we started working together at the beginning of Dancing With The Stars show and it was great to see her weight transformation.

I loved Amber Heard on this latest movie, she is so beautiful, graceful and elegant – a real old Hollywood star, I am sure she will be getting an Oscar soon.

You travel a fair bit between the US and Australia, how do you manage?

I have travelling under control, especially with my daughter. We even ship our bags ahead…. We have a whole travel plan.

You are married to Marcus Coloma, who appears on hit shows like CSI and One Tree Hill, how long have you been married and how did you meet?

 

My brother’s friend, Nick Bosher (creator of beached whale) was staying with us in the USA and he went to an acting class and met my husband. They hit it off and decided to go for a run and he brought Marcus over – the rest was history.

Does Marcus ask for your fashion advice all the time?

All the time….. When he was filming Syrup in New York, he would call me and ask, ‘What am I wearing to this premier?’- I’d say the Black Jacket, Blue tee, and the Brown boots- I tell him what to wear all the time.

He says he can’t shop or get dressed without me.

How do you maintain a life balance between work and home?

I have to turn off my phone and on Sundays we have a family day. I’m also lucky to have a studio at my house, so I have Coco around me all day and she can come say hello whenever she wants.

My husband and I like it best if we are working together as then we get to spend lots of time together- otherwise we have date night.

My Mother/Father always told me…

My father and mother both always told me to there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do and that I could never really lose, by reaching for the stars. They showed me anything was possible, they live life, they take risks, they are adventurous and always changing …. That has given me the guts to do things most people would think are crazy and brought me here to this point now.

Sophia on Food

Which foods and drinks most excite your taste buds?

Chocolate and coffee. I live for these things. I can not get enough chocolate.

How often do you eat out and cook at home?

I am sad to say we don’t really cook at home, only occasionaly. We had someone cooking for us a little in Los Angeles, before we left so we could have family meals. But the last three months have been in New York…..I don’t know if anyone in that city actually owns a frying pan!

What is one of your best cooking tips?

Hmmmmm…… wear heels, so if your food tastes terrible you will look good.

Sophia on Fashion

Being a leading fashion stylist, working with names some people could only dream of working with, you need to look the part. What would you normally wear to feel comfortable, but also look fashionable showing your experience and authority?

I have to say that in New York I did have to learn to adjust my style, as wearing killer heels on set for 12 hours was not going to be easy. So for long days I wear wedges or platform sandles… YSL has a really comfortable pair of sandles.

I do always try and look good, I wear cropped trousers to be casual but always with some heels. I have to admit I suffer for fashion a little, I had to do a interview on the set for WWD and I had just bought a new Celine outfit- wool pants and shirt- but yes I still wore it in 100 degree heat.

I love hats, and will always wear one if my hair is not done- that’s my cheat.

 

Fashion must-have’s?

Cropped pant trousers look so chic with a shirt tucked in and a great heel. Plus burgundy nails.

Which celebrity wardrobe do you think is spot on?

 

Amber Heard, Dianne Kruger and Cate Blanchett.

What is your favourite piece of clothing or accessory?

Right now my burgundy Celine Bag, my Birkin bag, a new Celine outfit and a navy lace dress by The Row.

Sophia on her Home

Who or what influences you most in home décor?

I design my house like my wardrobe which is good and bad. I love wallpaper so have lots of it . I also try and go a little more classic as I will have the urge to decorate my house yellow or burgundy for the color of the season and then want to change it about six months later.

Do you have one feature in your home you love most?

The front entrance has yellow wallapaper with birds on it and the dining room has black wallpaper, which I think it really mysterious.

Do you think rules in fashion also apply to the home?

Yes but on a different scale. There are fashion rules, such as certain things make you look larger. In houses certain things will make a room look smaller and clutered and others will make it feel larger and spacious.

Sophia on Lifestyle

Where did you grow up?

Australia.

Where is your favourite place to relax in Australia and the US?

Anywhere in Australia- I love it. But mostly Sydney with my family and Palmbeach.

In the USA – Big Sur in northern California, Florida on the beaches and Palm desert at a spa.

What car(s) do you drive, best thing about the car and why you bought it?

Lexus Hybrid- I love big cars and I really wanted a Range Rover as that is my favorite car, but I bought the Lexus for the environment.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Handbags

Where would your ultimate holiday destination be?

The Maldives. I’m actually going to be going soon and I am so excited it is to a new resort – I just have to find the time to go.

 

The one thing I can’t leave home without is…

My iphone, lip gloss and a great handbag.

If you could be a fly on the wall of any celebrity home, who’s wall would you like to sit on?

The royal family.

Three pet hates?

1. Airport Security

2. Dropped Phone Calls

3. Changer over time for the taxi in New York when it is raining – fashion disaster.

The Gracious, Gorgeous and Giving Carly Crutchfield

October 11th, 2010

Carly Crutchfield is one remarkable person. At the age of 20, she had already done more then what many of us would do in our entire lives. She bought and sold companies, traveled the world and get her self on the track to being one very successful millionaire.

Because of her choices in life and her vaule for life itself, she decided it was time to give back. Recently starring on channel 9‘s The Secret Millionaire, Carly gave away a small fortune to people she didn’t even know, but needed al the help they could get. Watching Carly was truly inspirational and she proves that you can achieve what you want in life.

A beautiful, caring women, a natural on the small screen and an inspiration to many  this is Carly Crutchfield and all the things about her fabulous life…

Carly on Life

What projects are you currently working on or have in the near future?

In terms of development we currently have $250 million in projects under way throughout Australia. We have a new charity initiative, www.secretgiftangels.com.au which we are very passionate about.

We are committed to increasing the level of property and financial education amongst Australians and we are about to launch a new free training program PROPERTY UNIVERSITY, which is very exciting.

Tell us more about your successful company, CCORP…

CCORP was borne out of the fact that I loved what I was doing, but hated doing it alone. I wanted to be a property developer but on a bigger level and with a group behind me.

Our company culture is very unique, its high energy, fast paced and we believe nothing is impossible. We work very hard and we play pretty hard to.

We are Australia’s largest property development education company and one of the fastest growing development groups in Australia.

CCORP also has a property investment division and finance division. We spend a lot of time ensuring our clients are educated. A lot of people are making investment decisions without truly understanding what they are deciding upon. I have seen a lot of self inflicted poverty in Australia – people getting themselves into massive debt and financial pressure because they do not understand money, investments and property. This is something people need to be educated on. The more our clients know, the easier it is to help them achieve their financial goals.

You were recently on The Secret Millionaire, tell us more about this experience and how this experience affected you and your life…

It was such a priviledge to be involved and I loved it! It was a completely unique experience. Although I have done a lot of charity and volunteer work before, this was so different. I was taken out of my comfort zone, as my phone, money, computer etc were confiscated and for that time it was solely about confronting an area, its problems, families, groups and thinking about how I could help.

I was inspired by the resilience and positivity of the people I met. Since the show I have been overwhelmed by the feedback. I have received thousands of emails, letters and messages. I have also received many requests for help, money and jobs. This has made it even more real to me that there are a lot of people out there who need help. It has motivated me to take my life, business and foundation to a whole new level and start making headway in solving some issues in Australia and the world at large.

What advice would you give someone if they were thinking of a career in your industry?

It’s hard work. You need to believe in yourself, have persistence and thick skin. You need to be willing to handle risk and experience the highs and the lows. But if you can, it is incredibly rewarding, exciting and fruitful.

If you want to give property development a try, you need to educate yourself. The more you know, the easier it is and the more money you make. The less you know, the more money you are likely to loose. To start learning about property development, come to one of my workshops or order my free DVD. Visit www.ccorp.com.au or call 02 9371 4799.

Is there a charity/cause that is close to you and if so, why?

In terms of a charity organization I would have to say my own foundation, CFOUNDATION. In terms of a cause, there are so many situations in the world that need attention and help. One area I am very passionate about is Human Rights, or the lack of human rights that exists.

How do you maintain a life balance between work and home?

I might spend a week working 20 hour days and then I’ll take a week off and either travel or relax at home and just do an hour or two of work a day. I schedule in holidays and book flights so nothing else can sneak into the schedule.

My Mother/Father always told me…

Work hard and believe in yourself.

Greatest lesson learnt?

Don’t regret anything. It’s a waste of time and a waste of a learning experience. You can create anything you want to tomorrow as long as you’re not looking back on how you should have done things yesterday.

What is one quality you have, that you hope your children will get and carry through life?

Persistence. I don’t take no for answer, I think impossible is nothing and I don’t give up. You can get through anything and create phenomenal results with that mindset.

Carly on Fashion

What is a fashion trend you hope will never resurface?

Nothing really, bring it all back! It’s hilarious to watch life regurgitated with a new point of view. Who would have thought we would be wearing shoulder pads again!

Your thoughts on Australian fashion in comparison to International fashion?

I think there is a more relaxed and whimsical vibe to Australian fashion, which suits our lifestyle. International fashion tends to be heavier and harder edged.

Which celebrity wardrobe would you love to raid and why?

Victoria Beckham would have an incredible wardrobe, but again very hard edged – I’d say her bag collection would be phenomenal (although mostly Hermes). Fergie would have a great cross selection and more rocky edge and I hear her shoe closet is amazing.

What is your favourite piece of clothing or accessory?

At the moment I am obsessed with Chanel earrings, I have about 35 pairs. Clothing wise, a dress I bought from Mackenzie Mode, which is perfectly tailored for my body.

Carly on her Home

What is your one design rule you like to stick to around the home?

Keep it unique, create interesting spaces and focal points. Mix items, textures and colors – don’t try and match everything. I’m not a fan of catalogue houses that look like everything was bought in the one store straight off the floor display. A home should show personality, stories and memories.

Do you have one feature in your home you love most?

I have a wall full of sepia photos all in white frames. There are about 60 frames in varying sizes containing pictures of my friends, family and favourite memories. I created the wall about 2 years ago and it’s got a great energy while also being architecturally beautiful.

Who or what influences you most in home décor?

The beach would be my biggest influence in my home and second to that art. I tend to pick a painting for a room and decorate around that. The art has center stage in my home, and so it should. Art’s a powerful thing.

Carly on Food and Drinks

Which foods and drinks most excite your taste buds?

I am obsessed with soda water and I love a good glass of French champagne. My wine of the moment is pretty much any Italian Pinot Grigio.

Food, all of it – my personal trainer knows I like food! I had a Wagyu steak in Melbourne recently which was incredible.

How often do you eat out and cook at home?

I travel a lot, which means eating out a lot. If I am home, I eat in about half the time and out half the time.

Though at the moment I am on a full on detox. So I get all my meals prepared for the day.

Signature dish?

I rival anyone to out cook me Mexican-fiesta style! My roast isn’t too bad either.

Carly on Lifestyle

Where is your favourite place to relax in Sydney?

At my home, or the beach.

What car do you drive, best thing about the car and why you bought it?

I have a few cars, but I usually only ever drive my Range Rover Sport. I bought it because it’s big and I can get lots in it! It’s also a really smooth drive. I also have a Prius but interestingly enough the Range Rover is more carbon efficient.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Art. I take a lot of pride in my collection and look forward to growing it. I think art is a powerful thing. It can completely change the vibe of a room. The art in my home is very relaxed. The art in my office is very contemporary and pop. You walk into our offices and feel an intense energy – a lot of that is from the people, but they bounce off and are inspired by the art.

Where would be your ultimate holiday destination?

I am dying to go to Africa and do a full Safari. I am heading to Venice with my boyfriend for New Years which I am really excited about.

The one thing I can’t leave home without is…

My phone and laptop. I get nervous thinking about it.

What frustrates you most about Sydney?

It’s all good. The frustrating things give Sydney siders something to talk about.

Favourite beach in Sydney and why?

Bronte for breakfast, Camp Cove for family vibe, Coogee rockpool for my dogs, and a secret eastern suburbs hideaway I cant tell you about is my favourite for a day of sunbathing, swimming and reading.

If you could be a fly on the wall of any celebrity home, who’s wall would you like to sit on?

Bono. The way he has “used his power for good” is pretty incredible.

Three pet hates?

1. Being limited to “5 or less” items when going into fitting rooms in stores. I only want to make one trip to the fitting room.

2. The loop strings sewn into the shoulders of women’s dresses, clothes etc. So annoying.

3. People smoking at the exits of buildings so when you walk outside of the building you walk straight into 30 cigarettes being smoked.

Meet Romel Kouyan – Smart, Sexy And Successful

August 16th, 2010

Romel Kouyan, one of the most down to earth people I know. He has the time of day for anyone, he cracks me up constantly with his silly gags and ridiculous jokes. Always dressed in designer clothing and scents, driving the hottest car at the time and eating at the best restaurants. He has worked damn hard for it though. Romel is probably the most business minded person I know as well.

There’s no messing around with Romel. When he says he will do something, he does it. Because of this, he has created himself a mini Empire of successful businesses of the things he knows best.

Switched on, funny, strikingly good looking and a true figure of class and sophistication. This is Romel Kouyan…

What projects are you currently working on or have in the near future?

I’m working on many at the moment… My companies, Romel Management and Paparazzi – Celeb 4 A Day keep me very busy. I am always working on new ideas I can implement and am currently putting in a brand new package at Paparazzi for Brides and Grooms looking at getting the celebrity treatment on their special day.

Who or what influences you most in Fashion and home décor?

I can’t say that I’m influenced by anyone in either. I am however influenced by the mood I am in at the time. For me fashion is about wearing something that feels right. If I’m feeling out there and think a chandelier would look great on me, then that’s what I will wear!

A couple of years ago I was attending an awards night and I wore a cashmere throw as a sarong. It kept me very warm and looked amazing. I have no reservations. If I feel like doing it, ill do it!  My home however has to feel calm with good energy flow throughout all the rooms. It must be lightly lit with hundreds of Aveda soy candles. So I can’t say that I follow trends at all. I am my own trend!

What is your favourite piece of clothing or accessory?

My favourite piece of accessory would have to be a belt that was made for me by many bike chains. As for clothing, I’d have to say my new Gucci suit, but it changes every week.

Do you have one feature in your home you love most?

Yes my 10 foot mirror.

Which foods and drinks most excite your taste buds?

It depends… If I’ve been out drinking it would have to be McDonalds. Lots of it! If I’m feeling really hot, then its seafood. Oysters in particular.

What is your greatest extravagance?

My brand new Range Rover!

Greatest lesson learnt?

Always have good balance in life…

What advice would you give someone if they were thinking of a career in your industry?

Be passionate, creative, competitive, and always make sure you have honest people around you who have your best interest at heart.

How do you maintain a life balance between work and home?

When you are a young business there is no balance. Your business is all you should focus on. If I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea I will get my Blackberry and document it otherwise it drives me crazy.

Which celebrity wardrobe would you love to raid and why?

Jean Paul Gaultier and Alexander Mcqueens. Except I wouldn’t be raiding it, I’d be stealing it all.

How did you get into doing what you do?

I was scouted at Home Nightclub by model scouts from New York in 1997. I then flew to the States where I lived and worked as a model for 2 years. It pretty much snow balled from there on.

What is your one design rule you like to stick to around the home?

Mirrors mirrors mirrors… Lots of them and the bigger the better! Nothing like seen all of you!!

My Mother/Father always told me…

That I didn’t have what it takes to do what I’m doing right now. Weren’t they wrong!!

Is there a charity/cause that is close to you and if so, why?

Yes lots! Any charity that raises money to find a cure for Cancer and Aids… Also, children and animals are very close to my heart.

Where is your favourite place to relax in Sydney?

My bedroom.

How often do you eat out and cook at home?

I love to cook, so I eat home quite often. But I do enjoy great food at a good restaurant.

Signature dish?

Hmmm I’d have to say seafood! Prawns cooked with garlic, chili’s and coriander.

Your thoughts on Australian fashion in comparison to International fashion?

I think we have a very cool and unique style in Australia. We have definitely come a very long way.

The one thing I can’t leave home without is…

My mobile phones.

What frustrates you most about Sydney?

Its boring and conservative… Hence why Paparazzi – Celeb 4 A Day kicks arse. I just feel that there needs to be more good drama on Sydney streets.

If you were Clover Moore, what would be the first thing you’d inject money into fixing?

I’d inject quite a lot of money in sending out fashion police 24/7 to confiscate all fake designer hand bags. I’m so over looking at it.

Favourite beach in Sydney and why?

Hmmm I don’t have a favourite. They are all great. We are very blessed to have the beaches we do here.

If you could be a fly on the wall of any celebrity home, who’s wall would you like to sit on?

Kylie Minogues…. I don’t think we ever see the real Kylie… Any excuse really. She’s adorable.

Three pet hates?

1. Bad manners

2. People spitting on the streets

3. People picking their nose in public. I don’t get it!

What is your one diva/divo demand?

Lots of cameras where ever I go and scented candles. I usually get my PA to carry one in each hand every where I go. Kidding!

Only cos I can’t get her to agree to it.. I am slightly scared of her as she has more muscles than I do so I don’t push it with her. I’m too scared of her back hand.

Where would be your ultimate holiday destination?

I love going to Byron…

What is one quality you have, that you hope your children will get and carry through life?

My persistence and drive.

When was the last time you cried?

I can’t remember to be honest… I do cry quite a bit though…

What is a fashion trend you hope will never resurface? (eg. Hyper-colour shirts!)

I think all trends are good and can work on the right person.

What car do you drive, best thing about the car and why you bought it?

A Range Rover… I love its size. I bought it cos I liked it.

If you were in a position where millions and millions of children globally admired you, what would be the one thing you would want to be a role model of? (eg. Body image, drugs etc…)

I’m very anti drugs so I’d love all kids to know that you do not need drugs to have fun.

What is your favourite website?

AdrianErdedi.com of course!!!

www.celeb4aday.com.au

www.romelmanagement.com.au

The Sexiest Little Baby On The Road – Fiat 500 Convertible

August 6th, 2010

With a history spanning over more then 50 years, the Fiat 500 came back and took the European car market by storm a few years back. It was then introduced into Australia around 18 months ago and wasn’t welcomed as warmly as it was in Europe – mainly because of price.

But now because of lower pricing and new models, they have become a little more attractive to the Australian market.

Now you’re probably wondering why the hell I have stepped foot inside a car like this, when I am test-driving cars like Jaguars, Range Rover’s and BMW’s. But it is the celebrity influence that has sucked me into test-driving the Fiat 500, which is undoubtedly one of the cutest little teeny weeny cars on the road. It’s the likes of Elle MacPherson and Paris Hilton that got me onto the car. Yes – I was sucked in the way Fiat intended – brilliant marketing!

Now where do I start with this little toy car? I start with changing my mind set and not be so critical, the way I am when I get into $200,000 cars.

No navigation, no heated seats, no leather seats, no 12 airbags and definitely no super charged engine. A big YES to pure, Italian joy! Once the sardine-tin folding roof of the Fiat 500 Convertible was completely opened back onto the rear parcel shelf, I felt like a child again waiting to get on the roller-coaster at Australia’s Wonderland. It’s a weird feeling. In a way you feel like you have left all masculinity in the showroom, but you feel slightly glamorous because of all the heads that turn when you drive this cutie around. What those people are thinking is probably what I think when I have seen them around… “How embarrassing”.

Smooth lines, bubbly charisma, with high class looking touches, this car is so irresistible. When I get in the car, I feel like I’m driving a men’s version of the Citroen Pluriel. Well, as manly as a man’s Fiat 500C can get with the flamboyantly standout white interior, steering wheel and instrument cluster. I think the thing that makes this car attractive is the colour combinations available. You can get great interior and exterior colours, and customise it like a Mini Cooper. You can get decals for the exterior and personalise the inside. I particularly love the Funk white interior, Pearlescent white exterior and Ruby Red roof. Sexy!

Getting in the car, the door is slightly tinny, but that’s expected for a car of it’s class. The seats are comfortable and supportive, but look abit big for the car. The head rests bother me, they look like they were a last minute addition. They are hard and uncomfortable.

The car feels solid for a tiny thing that weighs only 940kgs. It’s quiet and smooth. For a 1.4 litre petrol engine, it has guts. But I’d hate to have more then one person in the car, I think it would lag a little with a full car. But in saying that, there are other cars on the market that have similar engines and drive a lot worse with just 1 passenger, so this engine isn’t too bad at all. I drove the Dualogic transmission, which has 5 gears which can be changed with a tap of the cute gear stick. Dressed with enormous 16” wheels, ABS and Electronic Brake Distribution, the car stops much faster then it takes off! Much to my suprise, it also has Stability Control, 7 airbags and Traction Control… Which leads me to the drive…

Although the car feels solid, it’s a little bit bouncy and loose driving around corners and over bumps. You feel almost certain that you won’t leave the road, but you still have a slight inkling that it may just not stay on the road because of it’s weight around tight corners at speed.

The interior is FUN! No fancy LCD’s, no technical paddles, levers, buttons and pretty lights. But even without all the technical bits that I love, the interior is still FUN! One feature I love is the fascia on the dash, it’s a whiteboard! You can write all over it with whiteboard markers and rub it off! I love that. The car has all the little features you’d expect, climate control, CD player, USB/MP3 input on centre console, chrome bits and pieces, rear-parking sensors, Bluetooth and leather steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth controls (and one of the best looking steering wheels I’ve ever seen in white!!).

Likes: It’s looks, it’s beautiful. One of the cutest and aesthetically pleasing cars on the road. No it’s not a Porsche or a high priced performance car, but WOW, this car has prominence on the roads. It’s just divine. It’s a joyous car to drive. It is a cheap small convertible, but for some reason doesn’t have the tackiness of similar cars like the Mitsubishi Colt CC or the Citroen Pluriel.

I love the roof and how it works, the whiteboard dashboard is super cool and I LOVE the white steering wheel and colour combinations available.

Dislikes: I’ll be honest – I really couldn’t fault this car. It’s a small in size, small engine, mid-priced, non-serious fun car. You would buy it knowing this. You would buy it knowing you’re spending a little bit of extra cash on a car that turns heads, but isn’t for space, performance – or anything really?!

Would I buy it? Good question. Probably not. If it were given to me I’d drive it, but as a guy, I wouldn’t buy it. Just over 500,000 have been sold since 2007 and 70% of those owners are women. So I’m more then likely not going to buy it. But I do have to admit, I’m in love with this car.

Price: The Dualogic (Automatic) that I drove is $35,990 drive away! Not bad.

Final say: This car is just great. It makes you feel great, it’s bright, light and free. The only annoying thing is every time you drive it, you want to trade the landscape of Parramatta Road for an Italian village with cobble stone lane ways, little Italian bakeries, cafes and deli’s. A little poochie on the front seat, a beret and organic groceries on the backseat. Bliss. Absolute pure bliss.

My Teenage Dream Car – Range Rover Sport TDV8

June 17th, 2010

When the Range Rover Sport first came out about 5 or more years ago, I was set on the fact that it was my dream 4WD. It’s now 2010 and is it still my dream 4WD? You’ll just have to read on to find out.

The big black Range Rover Sport TDV8 Luxury sits in the glossy showroom, with it’s suspension lowered so I can easily climb in at a normal height. I opened the door, it’s tall and narrow, I expected there to be more door considering the car sits big and chunky. But the door is quite compact and reminds me somewhat of the Mercedes Benz B-Class. Closing the door, it shut nicely and solidly. Once it’s shut, I’m completely surrounded by a dark interior of buttons, knobs, screens and leather.

Sitting in the drivers seat, I felt in control of everything – the dash, the seating, the passenger seating, the view and the vision by turning my head and through the mirrors. I felt like I had complete control of everything happening around me both inside and outside the cabin.

The dash. Heavily angled from windscreen down toward the centre console, it seems almost aircraft like, but with complete symmetry. Unfortunately, the main LCD screen which controls navigation, music, video and vehicle configurations is like it’s made for the rear-middle passenger to use. It faces on an angle up towards the sunroof, and positioned facing the middle of the two front seats. I found it had to access easily, and found that I had to stretch my arm to reach for it. I also found that the anti-glare screen was hard to see because of the way it was positioned, reflecting light straight off it. I also don’t like the way it is buried between the two air-conditioning vents on either side of it.

Once you get past that issue of visibility, and you actually use the navigation via the touch screen and knobs below the screen, it’s quite good to use. Simple, clean and quick. There is no delay like many other cars I’ve driven. But again, I’ve had to stretch over to use the buttons on the far left of the cluster.

Air-conditioning is easy to use and it’s not incorporated into the main screen thankfully, which means I can do what I need to do immediately. It’s also dual-climate which is great.

All the usual functions like the compartments, gears and electronic brake are all easy to use and in easy reach.

Between the two seats, below the electronic brake sits the function for the vehicle handling, suspension and terrain settings. Here you can adjust the height of the car, you can choose how you want the car to perform both on and off road and you can choose how you want it to perform and tackle specific terrains. I found it fairly easy to use, but if I owned it, I would probably read the book to understand it and take full advantage of it.

The instrument cluster is also good and informative, with another screen showing the car’s dynamics and all the other little bits of information. The car has computers constantly monitoring it, and this info is all produced on this screen.

The seats. Comfortable, supportive and easily adjusted to suit my seating position. Unfortunately, I feel like the car punishes tall people, not by making it uncomfortable, but by making it hard to use the dashboard because of the angle it’s on. The further back you need to sit, the harder it is to use. But the seats are superb otherwise – in the front. It’s a different story sitting in the back. The seats in the back are for two normal sized adults and one 5 year old. The mechanical bits and pieces, like the hinges and rails are all visible, which makes it feel a little sub-standard.

The doors. As mentioned above, they are tall and narrow, not necessarily a design flaw, but possibly a little tough for much larger people. That aside, and I don’t envisage it to be a common problem, the only annoying thing I found about the doors was the location of the electric window buttons. They sit as far away from easy reach as possible. Again, having to reach as far forward as possible, towards the side wing mirrors. Also in the unlikely event that you leave your window open and water comes in, those buttons will be the first thing to get damaged. In a bid to do things differently, I don’t see a reason to change it and it’s not made it any easy for the driver, or any other passengers as all the buttons front and back are in the same positions.

All the doors are otherwise luxuriously covered in leather with wood grain inserts.

The body. It’s one big illusion, it sits wide and sits long, but it’s not really wide or long. It’s sporty, it’s rugged, it’s agile, it’s sexy, it’s hefty and it means business. Big 20” wheels and wide tyres add to the illusion of it being a massive vehicle. But be careful which colour you choose inside and out, it can change the look of the car dramatically.

The drive. Vicious. Ferocious. Aggressive. Easy.

The Turbocharged Diesel is excellent. Being a 3.6 litre V8 (being replaced by a 4 litre later this year), with 200kW, this thing flies. It’s not the quickest car to accelerate, but look how much weight it’s carrying! But in terms of power, geez this thing goes. It sounds great too. It’s got that vicious beastly sound, which is prepared to flatten any contenders. Towing a boat or horses wouldn’t be too much of a struggle for it either, but I think considerable weight, up-hill in a diesel will possibly struggle a bit.

The interior ride is smooth, quiet and enjoyable. The interior is bright and light because of the high seating position and lots of glass, the air suspension makes bumps smooth and soft and the visibility is great. Parking is easy, with the aid of front and rear sensors and camera.

The thing that astonished me the most, was the way it drives and how it feels when you drive it. It’s like driving a mid-sized car – this is where the whole ‘illusion’ of it being a big car comes into it. The best way to describe it would be like driving a Mercedes C-Class, it’s just a mid-sized 4 door sedan. Nothing complex about it. Driving the Range Rover Sport was much the same. Effortless and manageable.

I now understand why all the Eastern Suburbs yummy mummy’s drive one to drop the kids off at school.

Likes: Big car looks, mid-sized car feel. Powerful diesel engine. Seating comfort for front occupants. Extensive interior and exterior options for colour and wheels. Sexy and agile looks. Looks great, and will look great for a long time to come. Easy to drive, a practical car with all the attributes of a performance vehicle.

Dislikes: I’m sure I made these clear above. But it’s got to be the access to simple things like navigation, electric window buttons and knobs on the dash. The fairly unattractive rear seats that look like something out of a Tarago. The small boot, the boot space in most other 4WD’s of its kind are much longer and deeper.

Would I buy it? I know those issues above annoyed the hell out of me, but yes I would still buy it. I have loved the car for a long time, so would have to fulfil my strong desire to own it.

Price: The Range Rover Sport TDV8 – $149,990

Final say:
I really enjoyed this car, it’s got presence on the road and I love the feeling and sound of power under the big hood. I would definitely buy one, but I would have to spend a fortune customising it to look original as there are so many of them on the roads and they all look so generic. It’s like buying a Mini Cooper (hardtop).