Nissan Qashqai Ti 2010 Review

July 30th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Being named after a nomadic tribe of people it’s fitting that Nissan’s Qashqai has undergone a mid-cycle facelift and a movement towards an even more modern look. Selling in massive numbers in Europe, the small crossover has gained good traction here in NZ with 600 sales already achieved since its launch. The 2010 facelift is more a well-calculated nip and tuck than a butcher’s chop, with subtle changes both inside and out. Will the refresh move the quiet achieving Qashqai on to even greener pastures? Car and SUV spent a week living with the top-spec Ti model to find out more.

Visually, the major changes are at the Qashqai’s front where a new bumper, bonnet, honeycomb grille and headlamps distinguish it from its predecessor. The changes bring a smoother less awkward and more modern look while retaining its unique appeal.  At the rear differences are less obvious but the taillights have been replaced with new LED 2-piece units and the tailgate spoiler has been tweaked to help reduce aerodynamic drag. The Ti tested vehicle also includes front fog lamps and rolls on some nicely suited 18-inch alloy wheels. Overall the Qashqai remains a distinctive machine thanks to its bold styling but also its stocky dimensions and off road styling cues like the low black plastic mouldings and raised ground clearance.

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Alfa Romeo MiTo now priced below $35,000 in NZ

July 30th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Following the launch of the range-topping Alfa Romeo MiTo Quadrifoglio Verde (QV), the Italian car maker has re-positioned its prestige small car so that not only is the MiTo now available with a recommended retail price of $34,990 plus statutory charges and on road costs, the new entry level MiTo is now powered by the 114 kW engine.

“The arrival of the 125 kW MiTo QV has enabled Alfa Romeo to provide a double win for drivers looking for a small car that can boast a unique 100 year heritage,” says Lawrie Malatios, General Manager of Alfa Romeo in New Zealand. “Not only is it now possible to buy a MiTo with a recommended retail price plus on statutory charges and on road costs below $35,000, that car now offers the 114 kW powerplant.”

The entry level MiTo is now powered by the new 1.4TB 114 kW unit, delivering its maximum power at 5500 rpm along with a maximum torque of 230 Nm at 3000 rpm, which enables it to accelerate from 0-100 kmh in just 8.0 seconds and reach a top speed of 215 kmh. Around town, drivers can achieve 8.5 l/100 km, while motorway journeys and the combined cycle are 5.3 l/100 km and 6.5 l/100 km respectively.

The Alfa MiTo is fitted with 17″ alloy wheels — similar to those that appear on the Alfa 8C Competizione —inside, the Mito features sports cloth upholstery and sports dials with white illumination and a carbon fibre effect dashboard. The MiTo comes with the Blue&Me hands-free system with voice recognition, and media player with USB port and front fog lights.

Situated beside the gearlever, a three-position switch alters the behaviour of vehicle dynamics with the system working on engine, steering, suspension, and gearbox.  This creates three different vehicle behaviour modes based on the driving style best suited to the situation, terrain or the wishes of the driver.

Continue reading “Alfa Romeo MiTo now priced below $35,000 in NZ” »

Kiwi owners unaffected by overseas Toyota Land Cruiser recall

July 30th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota New Zealand says drivers of the Land Cruiser here in New Zealand are not affected by an overseas recall of LC100 models.

Paul Carroll, General Manager After Sales, said “The Land Cruiser is an iconic off road vehicle used all over New Zealand. The version sold here was not specified with the active steering system used in vehicles being recalled, so owners here have no cause for concern.”

Toyota is working with the New Zealand Transport Agency to identify if any used imported Land Cruisers from the affected production period are on the roads here.

“If there are, the owners will be contacted and the vehicles repaired free of charge,” Mr Carroll said.

Click here to read a Car and SUV review of the 2010 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado.

Click here to read a Car and SUV review of the 2010 Toyota Land Cruiser 200.

Design Q gives Range Rover luxury treatment

July 30th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

What can you do if you find the $185,000 Range Rover simply too common to take? Sure, you could take your megabucks and buy some 22″ alloy wheels or get the interior customised in extravagant materials like baby sperm whale leather, but where’s the class? The style?

Now for a very select group of very wealthy buyers, aftermarket tuners Design Q has turned the high riding Rangie into the total luxury machine. The company calls its creation the Q-VR, and it makes use of an extended Range Rover platform. Along with extra leg room, the additional inches in wheelbase allow for a unique set of doors that hinge on the top and bottom to provide very easy access.

Other luxury extras include a humidor, a mini spa and a drink chiller, to create the closest thing to private jet you can get on four wheels. Design Q hasn’t revealed details on how much this luxury cruiser is likely to cost, but it should be somewhere between “crazy expensive” and “you’re joking right?”

Porsche 918 hybrid heading into production

July 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

It’s just be made official that Porsche put its radical 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid concept into limited production.

“Reflecting the overwhelming response from the public and customers to the Concept Study, the Supervisory Board gave Porsche’s Board of Management the mission to develop a production model based on the car already presented,” Porsche said in a statement just released.

The money men at Porsche calculated that in order for the car to be produced, the company needed a minimum of 1,000 orders. Reports in the beginning of  July stated that at least 2,000 individuals had placed non-binding expressions of interest for the supercar.

“Production of the 918 Spyder in a limited series proves that we are taking the right approach with Porsche Intelligent Performance featuring the combination of supreme performance and efficient drivetrain concepts,” said Michael Macht, President and Chairman of the Board of Management of Porsche AG.

“We will develop the 918 Spyder in Weissach and assemble it in Zuffenhausen. This is also a very important commitment to Germany as a manufacturing base.”

The concept version of the mid-engined two-seater 918 Spyder utilised a plug-in hybrid drivetrain comprising of a mid-mounted 500HP 3.4 litre V8 petrol engine, and electric motors located on the front and rear axles with a combined output of 218-horsepower.

The company claims that the hybrid supercar should return an impressive 3 litres/100km economy with CO2 emissions of just 79g/km. In terms of performance the 918 should reach 100km/h in just 3.2 seconds and continue on to a top speed of around 320km/h and will lap the Nurburgring faster than its predecessor, the Carrera GT.

Porsche hasn’t announced when it will introduce the production version of the 918 Spyder, which is rumored to carry a price tag of around $630,000 ($871,000 NZ).

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Toyota FT-86 still scheduled for 2011 launch

July 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Contrary to recent rumours, Toyota’s eagerly anticipated FT-86 is still scheduled for a 2011 launch. Toyota recently held at press event in Japan in order to get some things straight about its Toyota G’s performance vehicles. Naturally, there were many questions about the FT-86 (or FR-S). Although it was reported a few months ago that the sports coupe would be delayed until 2013 for design and powerplant reasons, now it’s back on schedule with a release date of November 2011.

Clarity on the lineup was offered as well, there will be three spec levels  with at least two engine options, and the mid-range model is expected to cost around 2.5 million yen ($39,550 NZ). The top dog model will be a turbocharged variant which will add appeal to drifters and tuners. Apparently, there will be no hybrid drivetrains — that tech is being reserved for a different sporty product.

Check back as we bring you more info on the development of the FT-86.

Kiwi man becomes world’s best at parallel parking (+video)

July 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

You might think you’re pretty damn good at parallel parking. Well we all do really, it’s in the blood, but now one kiwi male can actually lay legitimate claim to being the world’s best at parallel parking.

Local hero Peter Bell has parked a Toyota Corolla in a space that’s just 27 cm longer than the car, on the set of the NZ Smashes Guinness World Records TV show at the North Harbour Stadium in Auckland. He didn’t just back it in nice and gentle either, Bell ripped up the handbrake and put the Corolla into a 180-degree spin into the park in one tidy piece of work.

The previous record for the tightest parallel parking was held by the Chinese and it was set at 32 cm, which represents the space remaining between the parked car, and the two vehicles in the front and at the rear. Bell’s first attempt took him to a new tightest parallel parking world record of 31 cm. The following attempts got him even further setting the new Guinness World Record of 27 cm.

Watch the video below to see the record breaking parking and to see the show’s host Mark Ellis almost wet himself with fake excitement. Continue reading “Kiwi man becomes world’s best at parallel parking (+video)” »

Graphical look at Fiat’s new 900cc turbocharged 3-cylinder engine

July 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

A graphical close up of Fiat’s new 900cc turbocharged 2-cylinder engine

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