Nissan Leaf makes history in claiming European Car of the Year award

November 30th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

In a historic moment for Nissan and zero emission vehicles, the 100% electric Nissan Leaf has been awarded 2011 European Car of the Year.

The world’s first mass-marketed, affordable, zero-emission vehicle for the global market beat 40 contenders to win motoring’s most important accolade. This is the first time in the 47-year history of the annual competition that the award has gone to an electric vehicle. Nissan Leaf’s rivals included vehicles from brands such as Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Dacia, Ford, Opel/Vauxhall and Volvo. The jury included 57 motoring journalists from 23 European countries.

Victory for the battery-powered Leaf, marks Nissan’s first win since the Micra took home the award way back in 1993.

“The jury acknowledged today that the Nissan Leaf is a breakthrough for electric cars. Nissan Leaf is the first EV that can match conventional cars in many respects,” said HÃ¥kan Matson, President of the Jury, Car of the Year.

Nissan Motor Co President Carlos Ghosn was suitably happy and said, “This award recognises the pioneering zero-emission Nissan Leaf as competitive to conventional cars in terms of safety, performance, spaciousness and handling. It also reflects Nissan’s standing as an innovative and exciting brand with a clear vision of the future of transportation, which we call sustainable mobility. With three other electric vehicles in the pipeline from Nissan — and with the imminent market introduction of four additional electric vehicles from our Alliance partner Renault — Nissan Leaf represents a significant first step toward a zero-emission future.”

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HSV starts exporting into Singapore market

November 30th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Holden Special Vehicles has just announced that it will begin exporting into the Singapore market through local dealer Harvest Automobiles.

Harvest Automobiles will retail HSV vehicles in the Singaporean market, and the launch has been 18 months in the planning. In announcing the export opportunity HSV’s Managing Director, Phil Harding says, “This is really exciting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it shows that we are beginning to overcome the export challenges that came about as a result of the GFC — people are becoming more confident around starting new business ventures. Secondly, it shows that a home grown performance vehicle can find niche markets in a variety of international settings.”

Phil Harding added that he believes the new E3 range has reached a new level of specification that makes it attractive in international markets,”The request from Harvest is for the highest specification possible. With the recent launch of E3 we are pleased that our exceptional list of features are now able to meet the demands of this new customer base. In addition, all the vehicles heading for Singapore will all be fully optioned with our SV enhancements,” he said.

Harvest Automobiles’ new HSV showroom is located at 3 Leng Kee Rd., the established heart of Singapore’s premium automotive trade. In targeting HSV, Managing Director of Harvest Automobiles, Daniel Au says, “I have long been familiar with Holden Special Vehicles, and when we were looking at expanding our line-up of brands I felt it was a great opportunity. I am very confident that the car culture of Singapore will be very excited about this niche offering, and I have already sold my first allocation of vehicles.”

In respect of the number of vehicles he expects to sell in his first twelve months, Au is playing his cards close to his chest, “For the first 12 months it will be all about getting the brand established and delivering great service. We believe there is significant scope to grow as long as we deliver a premium sales and service experience. Our clients know HSV is a niche vehicle, and expect the special attention that comes with this type of purchase. We are gearing ourselves up to deliver,” he said.

The launch will be punctuated with a Gala Event at Singapore’s Changi Exhibition Centre.

Darren Bowler, General Manager of Sales for HSV, who established the new relationship says, “We will kick-off with the launch evening, and the following day we will be conducting driver training and V8 Supercar passenger rides on our purpose built track at the Changi Exhibition Centre. With Garth Tander and Greg Murphy supporting, our Singaporean guests will get a real understanding of what the HSV brand is all about.”

Turners Auctions selling prestige and exotic cars this weekend

November 30th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Turners Auctions is giving Kiwis another chance to live the high life with 20 high-class cars coming to auction in the last Prestige Auction of the year.

The collection of vehicles is estimated to be worth $2 million and features the pinnacle of prestige motoring, a Rolls Royce Phantom, as well as some of the world’s most exotic supercars.

“The 20 cars on offer represent the finest brands in motoring and would make a great buy for anyone looking for a vehicle with flair and distinction,” says Graeme Roberts, Turners CEO.

“Six of the vehicles are convertible and would be perfect for a sophisticated summer road trip.”

The 2003 Rolls Royce Phantom is in mint condition and is expected to fetch between $240,000 and $300,000 at auction, far below the $1 million price tag that it was bought for in 2003.

Another striking vehicle up for grabs is the 2008 Bentley Continental GT. This six-litre, 12 cylinder stunner has a meagre 15,000km on the clock and would be a great addition to the garage this Christmas.

For those who live life in the fast lane, the 2004 Ferrari 360 Modena F1 is the perfect toy. The convertible looks brilliant in black and can turn even the most mundane commute into a thrilling joyride.

The 90’s will be remembered for many things, the Spice Girls, Forest Gump and Jonah Lomu, but it was also when Lamborghini unleashed the Diablo. Turners has a stunning example of a 1997 Diablo VT Roadster. The 5.7 Litre, V12 manual is in immaculate condition and is one of only eight VT all wheel drive roadsters in the world.

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Audi Quattro concept – promotional video released

November 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Audi has just released a promo video for its new Quattro concept, the vid offers insights into the birth of the retro-inspired concept car.

The popular Quattro concept was unveiled this year at the Paris auto show as a celebration of the famous rally car that introduced all-wheel-drive to the sport. The concept is in essence a shorter A5 that has been stiffened, lightened and received various updates.

Power comes from a 2.5-litre engine producing 408 hp and 480 Nm of torque. Official 0 to 100 km/h acceleration time for the concept is quoted at 3.9 seconds.

While Audi has not officially announced that it will put the Quattro concept into production, it’s received massive interest and various inside sources have confirmed that it will reach the streets in the future.

Check out the promotional video below. Continue reading “Audi Quattro concept – promotional video released” »

Gran Turismo 5 racing game finally released – return of WRX STI sedan

November 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Sony has finally released Gran Turismo 5 in the NZ market and while there are hundreds of cars to choose from the new Subaru WRX STI sedan is that little bit special.

The much anticipated racing game launched last week and had the WRX STI sedan included in its extensive car list. An STI sedan has not been available since 2007, but has now made its comeback.

So what? Well, the original Playstation was credited with popularising the WRX STI in North America, before it was launched into that market several years after it first appeared in New Zealand.

The new WRX STI has also been a sales success since its launch, when four-door sedan variants were reintroduced. In Japan, 2400 sedans and hatches have been sold since debut in July, double those initially forecast.

Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subaru vehicles, says featuring the WRX STI in Gran Turismo 5 is an effective and entertaining way to raise awareness of the model and introduce more people to the adrenaline-pumping WRX STI.

Since the first series was introduced in 1997, Gran Turismo has been highly popular not only among video game fans worldwide, but also professional racing and rally drivers.

So now you know what to ask Santa for Christmas this year – Gran Turismo 5. You could ask for a Subaru WRX STI but it may not fit in his sack.

Kia Sportage dominates NCAP safety tests with 5-Star mark

November 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The all-new Kia Sportage has been awarded the maximum 5-Star rating in the latest Euro NCAP safety tests.

In the tests, which were made more stringent last year to reflect the four main areas where injuries occur, vehicles are awarded points for how well they provide passenger and pedestrian protection. In surpassing the tough 2010 tests, the Kia Sportage scored better than premium European luxuries models, including the Mercedes-Benz GLK, Audi Q5 and VW Tiguan. Sportage obtained scores of 93% for Adult Occupant Protection, 86% for Child Occupant protection, 49% for Pedestrian Protection and 86% for Safety Assist, which are among the highest to be awarded in the compact 4×4 class.  The Sportage received praise for having Electronic Stability Control (ESC) fitted as standard in most markets — all new Kia cars sold New Zealand have been equipped with ESC as standard for at least three years.

“These latest results from Euro NCAP highlight Kia’s commitment to ensuring exceptional levels of safety in its vehicles, which is very comforting to New Zealand customers” says Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand.

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It’s back – all new Nissan Micra launched in NZ

November 26th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The new 2011 Nissan Micra has been launched into the NZ market at a special event held earlier this week.

This latest Micra is the fourth generation to wear the badge and represents an entirely new chapter in the history of Nissan’s compact city car. Set to appeal to loyal buyers, its distinctive looks have been restyled it also boasts improved quality and dynamic abilities.

Designed specifically to make day to day urban driving as simple as possible, it delivers good dynamic performance for a small hatch and has comfortable suspension tuning, light power-steering and confident braking. Those driving characteristics are backed up by high levels of convenience and good equipment levels.

Nissan NZ is marketing the Micra around simplicity: it’s simple to purchase, simple to own and simple to live with. The all-new Micra is a simple car to live with, with three-year scheduled servicing reducing the ongoing costs of ownership. Plus Micra is full of features that, combined with thoughtful engineering, make living with the car on a daily basis a simple exercise. From easy egress to a practical luggage compartment, and good levels of visibility from the cabin.

Since its global launch earlier in 2010 the all-new Micra has been a phenomenal sales success. In the Japanese domestic market alone, orders for the Micra totalled at over 20,000 vehicles after just six weeks.

It is Nissan’s first model to use the company’s new V-Platform and the first to be built not in Japan or Europe, but rather in four manufacturing plants in China, Thailand, India and Mexico. The Micra for New Zealand will be sourced from Nissan’s plant in Thailand.

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Aston Martin reveals new Vantage GT4 track weapon

November 26th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The reworked 2011 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 has just been revealed with a revised engine and aerodynamic tweaks. Aston’s latest GT4 race car is powered by a new 4.7 litre V8 engine with increased power and torque output (the exact figures have not been revealed, yet).

The Vantage GT4 racer continues to be based on the V8 Vantage road car, including its aluminum chassis, base engine and suspension design. Also included are race-developed Bosch ABS and traction control systems.

The aerodynamic changes up front include a new splitter that helps increase downforce and direct cooling air to the brakes and radiator. At the back, Aston Martin added the V12′s larger boot ‘flip’. The 2011 car also gets a new carbon fibre diffuser and rear underfloor, which apparently create an area of low pressure under the rear of the GT4, thus increasing downforce while also channeling more air through a new rear-mounted high capacity transmission oil cooler.

Along with it’s own one-make series, the new Vantage GT4 car will be eligible for the European GT4 Cup and any other GT4 Series globally.

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