Dodge Caliber SXT 2010 Review

October 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

In our highly competitive world sometimes you have to be that little bit different just to get noticed. Carmakers worked this out a while back and have recently given the automotive world some unique and progressive designs. This holds especially true in the hatchback segment where radical styling has almost become the norm. So how exactly does a new car cultivate a unique appeal in these diverse times? To get the answers, Car and SUV spent a week with the updated 2010 Dodge Caliber because it still looks like no other vehicle on NZ roads.

What makes the Caliber aesthetically different is a mixture of traditional Dodge DNA and a body shape that’s a mash-up of hatchback, crossover and sports coupe. Its styling talks loudly and offers a truly American take on the conventional hatchback. The Caliber announces its arrival with its signature Dodge crosshair grille. In profile it shows off pumped up wheel arches, a coupe like roofline and a front foot, pouncing stance. The squared-off rear features jeweled tail lamps a narrow back windscreen and a protruding chunky bumper.  Exterior changes to the updated Caliber are minimal but do include some subtle chrome trim and a new 17-inch alloy wheel design which helps give the 2010 model an even sharper edge.

Step inside the Caliber and the unique styling continues with a fully refreshed interior design. The instrument panel, centre console storage bin and door panel trims have all been redesigned using higher quality materials. The result is a cabin that is more modern and user-friendly. There are some nice touches like chromed surrounds for the instruments and air vents and smart LED lighting which illuminates the cupholders. The hot rod red plastic inserts in the centre control stack may not appeal to all tastes but it provides another unique feature and matches up with the stain-resistant red/black cloth used on the seats. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good to grip and has audio controls at your fingertips. Continue reading “Dodge Caliber SXT 2010 Review” »

Toyota Prius ‘Generation X’ celebrates 10th Anniversary

October 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

To mark the Toyota Prius’ 10th birthday a special edition named the ‘Generation X’ has just been launched into the UK market. It’s claimed to be the most exclusive Prius ever built and only 1,000 examples will be produced. It will be offered in a choice of two paint finishes – White Pearl and Astral Black and will come with a price tag of £26,150 ($55,450 NZ).

The special Prius will feature plenty of extras like a special body kit with a unique aerodynamics package, including a front, rear and side skirts, black alloys, and dark-tinted privacy glass. The interior of the  Generation X showcases a high-quality black leather upholstery badged with a 10th anniversary logos.

The standard equipment list of the Generation X is impressive and includes HDD satellite navigation, parking monitor, Bluetooth, 17-inch alloys, Intelligent Park Assist, and cruise control.

BMW working on 1-Series convertible facelift

October 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Early details of the updated BMW 1 Series Convertible facelift have shown up on the web as the updated version has been spied in the open. Taking into account the areas on the facelifted vehicle that BMW engineers were keen to cover, there is a lot of speculation which areas have been restyled.

The 1 Series Convertible facelift will most likely have a freshly designed front bumper, with a more aggressive look, new air vents and a replacement lower front grille. The headlights and rear light clusters have also had a re-designed, with the rear lights now upgraded to LEDs. The interior of the car will also receive treatment, not least the addition of the Connected Drive system.

The world debut of the BMW 1 Series Convertible facelift is predicted for the Detroit Motor Show at the beginning of next year.

UK team smashes 1963 London to Cape Town driving record

October 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

A three man British driving team in a Land Rover Discovery, led by adventurer Mac Mackenney, has smashed the London to Cape Town overland driving record by nearly two days. The 10,000 miles across 20 countries was achieved in 11 days and 14 hours and 11 minutes. The previous record had stood for almost 50 years.

The London to Cape Town event was one of the last great driving challenges taking the team through some of the most inhospitable areas and difficult road conditions to be found anywhere in the world. The overland attempt was dedicated to raising funds and generating awareness for Help for Heroes and was supported by Chevron Lubricants.

The three man team of Mac Mackenney, his brother Steve Mackenney and Chris Rawlings, started from the RAC Club in London’s Pall Mall on Saturday, 16th October and arrived at the AA building in the centre of Cape Town at 11.29 BST on Thursday, 28th October.

The attempt was also supported by two patrons, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, OBE and Sir Stirling Moss OBE. Sir Stirling said, “Congratulations to Mac, Steve and Chris for breaking the 47 year old London to Cape Town record, an outstanding achievement by three adventurers who pushed the boundaries of driving endurance and won.”

The original 1963 record was set by Eric Jackson and Ken Chambers in a Ford Cortina GT and Eric, who is now retired, said, “I know how difficult the trip is and I have great admiration for Mac and the team and whilst I’d like to have kept the record for a lot longer I am delighted for Mac, Steve and Chris.”

Citroën to produce Metroplis concept for Chinese market

October 28th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The Chinese market is proving a lucrative one for luxury car brands and with this in mind Citroën has decided to enter. But instead of releasing a luxury version of it’s more popular volume models, Citroën is going in much harder with a tailor made machine.

According to recent reports out of Europe and China, parent company PSA/Peugeot-Citroën is ready to  jump-start its Asian operations by building a production version of its Metropolis concept, the first design penned by the company’s Shanghai-based design team. First unveiled in China back in May, the Metropolis shows the plan for Citroen to reinvent itself as an upmarket brand with extra appeal to upscale Chinese buyers.

When it heads into production, the Metropolis is expected to carry the DS9 nameplate and will top the DS range the massive executive limousine. While the concept featured a compact V6 mated to an electric motor and seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the production version could make use of any powertrain used in the range. The vehicle will most likely sit on a modified platform borrowed from the outgoing Citroën C6 and Peugeot 407. It will likely be built in China at the joint-venture facility announced last July with Changan Automobile Group.

If the Metropolis/C9 will make it to European or North American markets is at this stage, unknown.

Kiwi-made Paddock Hacks TV show trailer (+video)

October 28th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

There appears to be a growing number crazy kiwi blokes out there getting into paddock hacking. But what exactly is this paddock hacking all about? Well, it involves taking an old crapper car, getting it running again, stripping it down, then racing it like it’s stolen through paddocks and various unchecked terrain until it’s completely busted. Sounds like fun right? Well plenty of us seem to think so and that’s why we are the first nation in the world to have a TV show dedicated to paddock hacks.

While it is just a pilot at this stage, the first trailer for Paddock Hacks has been revealed online and it’s already gathering global interest. At this stage much is unknown about the show, like the racing format and regulations but also how exactly thrashing old japanese cars through paddocks can make good viewing for a whole TV season. But it can’t be any worse than Shortland Street and for now, the preview trailer is pretty awesome and somehow makes you proud to be a kiwi.

Check out the teaser video below and be sure to let us know your thoughts on paddock hacking and this new TV Show in the comments section. Continue reading “Kiwi-made Paddock Hacks TV show trailer (+video)” »

Subaru reveals STI-equipped Forester tS exclusively for Japanese market

October 28th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

It probably won’t ever make it down here to NZ, or any other market outside of Japan, but the new JDM Subaru Forester tS deserves a closer look. Based on the Forester S-Edition, the tS is given the go-faster treatment with a range of upgrades and STi parts including a modified suspension that sits 15 mm lower than usual, 17-inch alloys, a front spoiler and some special tS badging.

In the cabin there are STI sport seats that use a combination of leather and Alcantara as well as a leather-wrapped sports steering wheel and a modified instrument panel.

Motivation comes from a 2.5-litre turbocharged boxer engine matched up with a five-speed automatic transmission.

Japanese customers won’t be limited to just Subaru Blue for colour choice with  four exterior colors offered. It will be an exclusive ride too with Subaru planning on producing just 300 examples. The cost? Well it’s not a cheap steer with the base-model costing 3,450,00 Yen ($56,550 NZ).

Check out the gallery below for more images of the Subaru Forester tS.

Continue reading “Subaru reveals STI-equipped Forester tS exclusively for Japanese market” »

Brabus lays claim to world’s fastest sedan title with SV12 Biturbo

October 27th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Your average Mercedes-Benz is not going to be a slouch in the performance department, if it’s an AMG model its going to be damn quick. But for some people out there, even an AMG is still not enough power to terrorise the streets. For those people specialty Benz tuner Brabus is willing to push the performance on Mercedes vehicles further than any sane individuals would require.

The latest product from Brabus is the freshly unveiled SV12 R Biturbo 800 which has claimed the title as both the fastest and most powerful sedan on offer, anywhere. To achieve this mark, the German tuner has tweaked the Mercedes 5.5-litre V12 from the S600 to 6.3 liters, fitted a new crankshaft, camshafts, cylinder heads, air intake, exhaust, turbochargers, quad interoolers and bigger pistons, and remapped the ECU. The result of this extensive work is a massive 587kW and 1,047 pound-feet of torque. The gut-turning torque was actually too much and Brabus had to electronically limit it to 811 lb-ft. But performance was unaffected with the 0 to 100kph sprint covered in a mere 3.9 seconds and its Autobahn-ripping top speed is electronically limited to ‘only’ 350kph.

Bigger brakes have been fitted to help tame the beast, as well as an upgraded limited-slip differential. A full aero kit also helps with downforce and bangs home the “I’m the baddest” look.

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