Toyota Corolla 2.0 Diesel 2008 Review

August 30th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


When the Toyota Corolla was released in the mid-1960s, it was a cheap and cheerful small vehicle that was reliable, frugal and easy to drive. It was a vanilla ice-cream car that while not being the most exciting flavour available, still satisfied the masses.

It appealed to the driving public so much so that since 1966 more than 32 million Corollas have sold worldwide. In fact a Corolla is sold somewhere in the world every 40 seconds.

The base Corolla principles of reliability (a Toyota hallmark) and frugality have never engendered the model with any great styling appeal, which has been fine given that most competitors were until recently just as plain. The thing is now though there are a great many small cars that combine quality engineering and great styling. The Mazda3, Citroen C4 and Honda Civic are just some examples. Toyota has seen this too and added some nuts and a drizzle of caramel topping to make the new Corolla a bit more special.

The latest iteration of the Corolla is a departure from the bland econo-box styling of its predecessor. While the exterior styling of the Corolla is a little sharper than before, the real surprise is the interior.

Toyota has taken a leaf out of the funky Honda Civic’s interior design playbook with a combination of smart looking but practical elements that make the inside of the Corolla very appealing.

Features like the small screens in the middle of the speedometer and tachometer that display the trip computer information help to make the Corolla more enjoyable than before.
The high downward-arching centre console is the main attraction of the interior.

It houses the gearshift and handbrake in a curving column that features space underneath to stash small items — perfect for caramel sundaes.

The gearshift looks high but the shift lever falls to hand very easily. The shift quality is not very mechanically satisfying — it doesn’t invite you into the heart of the driving experience — but it is light and easy to use with six well-spaced ratios.

The seats are adjustable, as is the steering wheel, and it is easy to create a comfortable driving position.

Diesels always confound the expectations of those of us who are used to a petrol diet. When driving the Corolla you only really need to use the power between 1800-3000rpm as, although the car will rev to 5000rpm, those extra revs do little to accelerate progress.

The engine is a 2-litre diesel unit (a 1.4-litre is also available) which, while being a little rattly, is smooth in its delivery.

The fuel economy of a diesel appeals to the miser within us all and we managed a commendable 5.6L/100km on the combined cycle (Toyota claims 5.4L/100km) with 6.8L/100km around town.

With fuel prices being the bane of our lives it is nice to know road-trips have not been consigned to the ‘too expensive’ basket when cars like the Corolla are on offer.

The Toyota Corolla diesel is a good car for commuting, especially for those people who drive on the highways a lot. It is a great feeling knowing that this car costs so little to fuel and can get you a great distance on one tank.

At $38,990 it is not that cheap but with the level of efficiency and power available from the diesel engine and very nice interior styling, the Corolla ain’t ‘plain vanilla’ anymore.

Click through to the next page for full specs on the Toyota Corolla Diesel 2.0.

Price: from $26,150 ($38,990 as tested).

What we like

  • Frugality
  • Interior styling
  • Torque

What we don’t like

  • Rattly engine
    A touch expensive
  • Engine Type: In-line, 4 Cylinder, 16 Valve, DOHC
  • Bore 86.0 Stroke 86.0
  • Capacity 1998 cc
  • Compression 16.8 : 1
  • Euro 4 Emission 140 g/km
  • Fuel Tank Capacity 55 litres
  • Fuel Type Diesel Injection Type Common-rail Direct Injection
  • Maximum Power 93 [email protected] rpm
  • Maximum Torque 300 [email protected] rpm
  • 6-Speed Manual transmission with Shift Indicator Light
  • Front Wheel Drive
  • Single Dry Plate with Diaphragm Spring
  • Gear 1 Ratio 3.538
  • Gear 2 Ratio 1.913
  • Gear 3 Ratio 1.218
  • Gear 4 Ratio 0.860
  • Gear 5 Ratio 0.790
  • Gear 6 Ratio 0.673
  • Reverse Ratio 3.831
  • Final Ratio 3.777 / 3.238
  • Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRC)
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Brake Assist (BA) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD)
  • Driver and passenger front, side, driver’s knee and front/rear curtain shield airbags
  • Front seat belts with pre-tensioners and force limiters
  • Child restraint ISO fixing points with tether anchors
  • 16″ steel wheels
  • Multi-reflector halogen headlights
  • Body coloured front and rear bumpers
  • Body coloured door handles
  • Green tinted side and rear glass
  • Air conditioning
  • Single disc MP3/WMA CD player with 6 speakers
  • 3-spoke leather steering wheel with audio controls
  • Fabric seat material
  • Optional “Exclusive” package includes: Smart entry & start system, climate control air conditioning, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dipping inside rear view mirror, auto-off headlights, heated exterior mirrors, rear armrest with cup holders, 16″ alloy wheels
  • Flush windscreen moulding for reduced wind resistance
  • Graphite coated wiper blades reduce “chatter”
  • Radiator retractor protects the cooling unit in an accident
  • UV reducing window glass
  • Double sealed door opening create an effective noise barrier

Words Ben Dillon, photos Darren Cottingham

Audi R8 GT3 for the race track could spawn a road-going version?

August 29th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


For the first time, Audi Sport will offer a racing sports car specifically developed for customer use in the form of the powerful 500 hp plus GT3 version of the Audi R8 which will be available from late 2009.

The release of this car has sparked speculation that Audi could use it as a test for the feasability of a road-going R8 GT3 to compete with the likes of the Porsche 911 GT2/GT3 and Ferrari 430 Scuderia.

“The R8 is the first production Audi bearing the name and genes of a successful racing sportscar and is therefore an excellent base from which to build up our first big customer sport programme,” explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. “Ever since the R8 was unveiled we’ve been inundated with enquiries about a race version. With the Audi R8 we will offer customers a racing sportscar equipped with high-calibre technology and the typical Audi qualities, but which is nevertheless easy to handle.”

The Audi R8 conforms to the production-based GT3 regulations allowing the car to be fielded in numerous national and international race series.

Because the GT3 regulations prohibit the use of four-wheel drive the Audi R8 comes with the typical GT rear-wheel drive. The power is transmitted via a newly developed six-speed sequential sports gearbox.
The suspension uses almost exclusively components from the production line.

A comprehensive list of safety equipment guarantees the highest-level of passive safety. A modified front end and a large rear-wing generate the required downforce for the race track.

The Audi R8, which bears the project name “R16” within Audi Sport, was developed under the direction of Audi Sport.

Mid August, the first prototype successfully completed a roll-out in the hands of Audi factory driver Frank Biela.

The first test races in various European racing series are scheduled for the 2009 season.

Hyundai Genesis earns top U.S crash safety rating

August 29th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


The U.S car safety rating body the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has awarded five-star crash test ratings, the highest government rankings under the agency’s New Car Assessment Program, to the all-new 2009 Hyundai Genesis for both frontal and side-impact crash tests.

“Genesis was engineered with a lightweight but strong body shell, featuring ultra-high tensile steel, laser welding, and advanced adhesive bonding,” said John Krafcik, vice president of Strategic Planning and Product Development, Hyundai Motor America. “Add eight airbags and electronic active head restraints and you can see the focus we placed on designing Genesis for occupant safety. These five-star results are just one indication of the dedication Hyundai engineers place on safety.”

Maintaining Hyundai’s emphasis on delivering leading safety technology, Genesis boasts world-class active and passive safety features that both prevent accidents and maximize the well-being of its occupants in the event of a collision. The Genesis continues the Hyundai tradition of standardizing key life-saving safety technology, with features such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), eight airbags and electronic active head restraints.

ESC compares the driver’s intended course with the vehicle’s actual response. It then brakes individual front or rear wheels and/or reduces engine power as needed in certain driving circumstances to help correct understeer or oversteer.

Genesis’ eight airbags include advanced dual front airbags, front and rear seat-mounted side-impact airbags, and roof-mounted side curtain airbags for both front and rear outboard seat occupants.

Hyundai is the first popular brand to offer electronic active front head restraints, a standard feature on the 2009 Genesis, which are an improvement over mechanically-based active head restraint systems. Until now, electronic active head restraints could only be found on select Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus models. Active front head restraints have been proven by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to help prevent whiplash.

Genesis is brought to a halt by large four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD).

Volkswagen takes 3rd place from Ford in world rankings

August 29th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

The Volkswagen Group has taken its place among the world’s top three automakers thanks to the Wolfsburg-based company’s outstanding delivery figures in the first half of 2008. Rival Ford has to settle for fourth position.

“We are delighted that the Volkswagen Group has made it to the global automobile industry’s top three for the first time. This shows that we are on the right track with our ever-stronger international presence and, above all, our product program. We will systematically push ahead with our growth course even in the present difficult market environment,” Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, commented.

With 3.31 million vehicles delivered in the first half of 2008, the Volkswagen Group increased deliveries in the first six months of this year by 7.2 percent, moving up to third place in the global vehicle sales ranking and overtaking its rival Ford, which announced vehicle sales of 3.22 million for this period.

Suzuki Vitara launch: camping in the Outback

August 28th, 2008 by darren

There’s nothing like getting away from the horrible Auckland winter weather for a sunnier clime, and that’s just what we did when Suzuki invited us to be at the Australian launch of its new Vitara.

We flew into Sydney last Saturday and stayed at the airport Stamford Plaza, ready to take an early flight to Ayers Rock (Uluru) on Sunday morning. Looking down from the plane, there’s a whole lot of sand and scrub out there. Ayers Rock airport was a chilly 13 degrees, despite it being a clear blue sky. A bus transfer took us to the resort, built in the late ’80s and now showing its age.

Having not bothered with the lunch on the flight, I accidentally gatecrashed a private function, ‘borrowing’ some of the food, until I was informed of my misdemeanour.

A press conference in the afternoon, where we had the opportunity to ask questions of the Japanese visitors, was short and sweet. The Suzuki representatives were adamant the new car had much better road manners, was quieter and better featured. We would have to wait until the next day to find that out, though.

The sun was getting low by that time and we were bussed to a dining location in the outback overlooking Ayers Rock. A didgeridoo player set the scene and we watched the shadows lengthen as the sun set.

We made our way down a narrow path to our dinner location. The rapidly plummeting temperature made the Suzuki-supplied beanies essential. Dinner, a large buffet with kangaroo, crocodile and other more conventional fare, was followed by an astronomy talk. I have never seen the Milky Way so vividly – with zero light pollution, the sky sparkled with the light of distant suns.


5:30am was the wake-up call for our helicopter ride to King’s Creek Station, taking in Ayers Rock, the Olgas, and a large salt lake (Lake Amadeus).

The Vitaras were parked at King’s Creek Station, ready for a thrashing over some severely corrugated roads, a good section of smooth, flowing curvaceous black-top, and an off-road section. The Vitara was capable of more than 120kph on the dusty, rutted, bumpy roads without any concern. And on the open road it was smooth and unflustered to a much higher speed than that. Very impressive.


The final part of the day’s journey was a moderately easy off-road course next to our campsite, where we spent the remainder of the afternoon chatting and taking photos. With a meal of barramundi inside me I retired to my ‘luxury’ tent. Camping in the desert isn’t the most comfortable experience – getting up in the middle of the night to liberate some of the drink consumed earlier is an experience fraught with the danger of every plant having some kind of thorn or spine. And then you have to get warm again in the 2-degree cold.

The following day we drove to Alice Springs and took the flight back to Sydney, then on to Auckland. It was a fantastic trip, and well worth it for the new Suzuki Vitara. More will be revealed in the road test, coming soon!!


Jeep takes the cake in UK SUV test

August 28th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


Jeep has won the top prize in three categories of the UK’s biggest on and off-road test of 4×4 vehicles.

4×4 Magazine reviewed 67 vehicles for their annual ‘4×4 of the Year’ test and awarded marks in 10 key buying areas: on-road, off-road, comfort, safety, economy, loading, interior, styling, towing and value-for-money.

John Carroll, Editor of 4×4 Magazine, said: “This test aims to put the latest vehicles through a rigorous test and measure them in real world on- and off-road situations. In a market swamped with new 4x4s, Jeep has retained its mastery in three key segments — Budget, Mid-size and Extreme — with the Patriot, Cherokee and Wrangler.

Jeep Patriot: winner of Budget 4×4 of the Year

The judges said: “The Patriot is a huge step for Jeep — after all, the US brand built its reputation for ‘proper 4x4s’, with low range gearing and classic styling. However, in today’s green and cost-conscious climate, the Patriot opens up the Jeep legend to a wider audience. This is primarily thanks to a VW-sourced 2.0-litre turbodiesel that stretches fuel economy to over 6.8L/100km, considerably higher than anything a production Jeep could muster in the past; likewise, CO2 is well below average.”

Jeep Cherokee: winner of the Mid-size 4×4 category

“The all-new Cherokee takes Jeep to a new level. Few will quarrel with the new-look interior, which feels both roomier and is decked-out with smarter materials and comfier seats. Gone is the clumsy stable-door tailgate, replaced with a top-opening one-piece item. The rear screen still pops open separately while the boot space is more practical for loading too.

“An improved 2.8-litre turbo diesel provides torque aplenty with smooth six-manual and auto shifters, plus a revised suspension set-up that offers a better on-road drive. Best of all, though, is the Selec Trac II adaptive 4WD system with low range and hill descent control, cementing Jeep’s off-road advantage in this sector.”

Jeep Wrangler: winner of Extreme 4×4 group

“The descendant of the original 4×4 comes out on top as an extreme plaything and lifestyle vehicle. It rivals the Defender for showroom-spec off-road ability and the low-down torque of its 2.8-litre diesel means it comes pretty close to the Land Rover on rough terrain; the Americans will be wondering why they didn’t have a diesel rock-crawling Wrangler sooner. The interior is comfortable and roomy for the driver and front passenger, compared with the Defender’s, and the Wrangler is faster and smoother on-road than the Land Rover. It’s more nimble off-road than the Patrol and doesn’t have that laboured on-Tarmac feel that seems to plague the big Nissan.

“The Jeep is well appointed, with airbags (which the Defender doesn’t offer) and optional sat-nav, automatic gearbox and a soft-top. Price is a plus. It’s a deserving winner.”

Volkswagen Passat CC on sale in New Zealand now

August 28th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


Volkswagen is extending the model range of the Passat car line by adding a third variation the Passat CC, which is on sale in New Zealand now with deliveries expected to start in October.

Its fully independent body design, an interior that has sporty individual bucket seats in the rear too, an impressive powertrain and technological highlights worthy of the luxury class, meld together to create a unique vehicle in the Passat’s market segment. The Passat CC (Comfort Coupe) is an elegant sedan and a dynamic coupe simultaneously. The concept and design of this Volkswagen are defining fresh, new directions beyond the mainstream.

The coupe philosophy is reflected in the interior with its four seat layout. In both the front and rear, ergonomically designed sport seats of the highest calibre are used. Overall, it can be said that Volkswagen has succeeded in further refining seating comfort and controls on this four-door coupe.

The engine in the Passat CC is a 3.6 litre six cylinder delivering 220 kW at 6,600 rpm.

It develops maximum torque of 350Nm from 2,400 rpm and accelerates the four-door coupe to 100 km/h in just 5.6 seconds. The Passat CC V6 is offered with the latest generation of 4Motion full-time all wheel drive and is shifted via the automated DSG dual clutch transmission.

The Passat CC has a RRP of $88,990.

New look Holden Barina now in New Zealand

August 28th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


Holden New Zealand continues its competitive push into the value end of the light car market with a fresh new look and feel for the Barina 3-door and 5-door hatchbacks, plus the addition of side impact airbags across the range.

Starting from $16,990, the upgraded Holden Barina hatchbacks, boasts a 1.6 litre powertrain and refreshed exterior and interior styling.

Most notably, the Barina 3-door and 5-door hatchbacks have been given a strong Euro-styled front and rear end treatments.

Inside, the interior is significantly upgraded and features an updated instrument panel, console and new fabric trim.

From a safety perspective, all Barina models receive ABS and driver, front passenger and side impact airbags as standard.

The Barina hatchbacks also get a cleverly packaged interior characterised by the new instrument panel which features a matt chrome-trimmed four-circle instrument cluster.

The Barina range improves occupant safety with the inclusion of side impact airbags for driver and front passenger, which extend upwards to provide head as well as thorax protection and complement the driver and front passenger airbags already standard.

Barina is powered by a 1.6 litre DOHC multi-point fuel injected engine that produces 76kW of peak power at 5800rpm and develops peak torque of 145Nm at 3600rpm.

The 16-valve 1.6 litre powerplant returns 7.0 litres per 100 kilometres (manual transmission) and 7.6 litres/100 kilometres (automatic).

Ventilated front disc brakes are standard with alloy wheels and four-channel ABS braking system.

Holden Barina recommended retail pricing (excluding ORC)

3-Door Hatch              $16,990           (manual transmission)
3-Door Hatch              $18,690           (automatic transmission)
5-Door Hatch              $18,990           (manual transmission)
5-Door Hatch              $20,690           (automatic transmission)

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