Skoda Superb Combi 2010 Review

December 24th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The word Superb is defined in the dictionary as “admirably fine or excellent”, so it’s a big call to apply it to a motor vehicle. But this hasn’t stopped Skoda from using the name and its ability to produce quality vehicles remains most evident in the current model Superb Sedan and Combi (wagon). But what exactly is so exceptional about this machine that it can embarrass more expensive competitors and change brand perception in a single bound. Car and SUV spent a week with the load lugging Superb Combi to find the answers.

Visually the Combi is conservatively styled but it isn’t boring and despite lengthy proportions, appears nicely balanced. Up front, chrome trim frames the broad Skoda grille and a large single-piece bumper houses head lights, air dam and fog lamps. A deeply creased bonnet pushes into a raked back windscreen and indicator lights are repeated on the wing mirrors. Along the flanks more chrome trim is used and an elegant roofline tappers away into the rear hatch. Finishing off the luxury look is handy integrated roof rails and smart 18-inch optional alloys on our tested TDI 125 model (17-inch is standard). Overall, it’s a very sleek looking wagon and the design hides its length (4.8m) well, the only clue being a long rear overhang.

Continue reading “Skoda Superb Combi 2010 Review” »

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Spec C launched in Japan

December 22nd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

A Subaru Impreza WRX STI would be special enough for most of us but for the hardcore enthusiast it’s simply not exclusive enough. Always keen to help out, Subaru has just released the new extra rare Impreza WRX STI Spec C for the Japanese domestic market.

This latest Spec C version aligns the new model with the facelifted WRX which debuted earlier this year.

So what’s special about the Spec C?  For this new edition it includes an ECU remap and the addition of new ball-bearings for the twin-scroll turbocharger. That equates to new power figures of (227 kW / 304 bhp) and 430 Nm of torque from the 2.0 litre turbo unit.

There are also some driveline changes on the WRX STI Spec C with a mechanical rear LSD replacing the previous Torsen type as well as having the front chassis reinforced with a new cross member. It will be lighter too, losing weight through an aluminum bonnet, smaller battery and 18-inch light alloy wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza RE070 tyres in 245/40R18 dimensions.

Gold-colored Brembo brake calipers are standard and there are options available including Recaro sport seats. This edition is exclusive and only 900 examples will be produced.

Red Bull Trolley Grand Prix returning to Auckland Domain

December 22nd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Although most of us are more into high horsepower than no horsepower we can all appreciate a bit of good, clean fun. Powerless karting is set to return to NZ with the Red Bull Trolley Grand Prix making a comeback for 2011. The event began as the Red Bull Soapbox race in Belgium in 1999, and following its success, expanded to 25 countries worldwide. No strangers to shoddy DIY, Kiwis got into the event which has taken place in NZ twice, the last time being in 2005.

The Derby will take place on April 10th 2011 and will transform the Auckland domain into a winding race track that will test man and machine. After the days racing a new national champion team will be crowned, to achieve this feat they’ll need a healthy dose of courage, a creative trolley and have gravity as their new BFF.

Only the best 100 trolleys will make the grid but everyone is eligible to enter by heading to www.redbull.co.nz. Those keen will need to show their commitment, creativity and some imaginative flair, to get entries in by 31st of January 2011.

The Trolley’s are entirely person powered, without motor or pedal, relying on the innovation of their design and a large dose of gravity to blaze down the tracks at breakneck speeds. While slow and steady certainly doesn’t win this race it takes more than speed to impress on the day. Teams and their trolleys will be judged on three evenly weighted criteria; creativity (originality, innovation and design); performance (showmanship of the team before and during the race — including introduction skits, spins, crashes and costumes) and finish time (race time). Continue reading “Red Bull Trolley Grand Prix returning to Auckland Domain” »

Aston Martin asks fans to name next Le Mans prototype racer

December 22nd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Aston Martin is preparing a comeback to the cut-throat world of Le Mans racing, entering next year’s 24-hour endurance race with a new LMP1 race car. With a rich racing pedigree to protect it’s sure to be a competitive entry but the only problem is that Aston Martin is in need of a new, emotive name for its latest race car. So what? Well Aston is asking its fans to come up with a suitable moniker.

Aston Martin is giving its enthusiasts an opportunity to be part of the company’s history, and be in with a chance to win a range of Aston Martin and Aston Martin Racing merchandise by suggesting a name for this race car through the official Aston Martin website.

The tough part is that those who offer a suggestion need to give a reason behind their chosen name. The winner will be selected by a panel of judges and entries need to be received by January 3, so now is the time to strike.

With new regulations coming into play in 2011 Aston believes its car will stack up well against the diesels of Peugeot and Audi. Official details on the new Aston Martin LMP1 race car have not been released at this point – all that’s known is that it will burn gasoline. Development of the race car has been in progress for several months at Aston Martin’s race headquarters in Banbury, UK. Six cars are to be built, and the first will begin testing early next year. Continue reading “Aston Martin asks fans to name next Le Mans prototype racer” »

Nissan reveals new global sedan at Chinese show

December 21st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Nissan has officially revealed its new ‘global sedan’ at the Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition in China this week. Although Nissan’s new global sedan will be sold under the 2012 Nissan Sunny name in China, it could get a different name in the rest of the 170 countries it will be sold in. Here in NZ it could be called the Sunny or may even mean a comeback for the Pulsar nameplate.

The new model is aimed at appealing to young buyers and young families, combining what Nissan describes as an upscale interior design with spaciousness and quality materials. It features conservative styling with a prominent shoulder line, sweptback headlights, and Maxima-inspired taillights.

Nissan’s new model is powered by a 1.5-litre HR15DE engine with dual injectors coupled with a Xtronic CVT with an auxiliary transmission. It should produce around 75kW of power and 136Nm of torque. Suspension is managed by MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam rear. With this small engine this new global sedan is expected t be a class leader in fuel economy.

The Sunny will be produced by Dongfeng Nissan’s Huadu Plant in Guangzhou and will go on sale in China in January, before being launched in 170 markets worldwide. Continue reading “Nissan reveals new global sedan at Chinese show” »

Chevrolet Camaro launching in Europe with special edition

December 21st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The new Chevrolet Camaro is on the verge of its European launch and to help gain interest in the iconic American machine GM has teamed up with tuning firm Irmscher to release a limited production version of its i42 Camaro study.

First shown at the Essen Motor Show the i42 Camaro was built by Irmscher with help from Auto Magnus und Velocity Performance Parts. The special edition is based on the Camaro SS with its 6.2-litre V8 engine, but the i42 has a range of upgrades, the most important being the addition of a supercharger and a new custom exhaust system. The modifications increase power output to 509-horsepower and enables the i42 Camaro a 0-100km/h sprint time of about 4.0 seconds and a top speed of 275 km/h.

The brakes have also been upgraded and now use 380 mm front discs with 6 piston calipers and 355 mm rear discs with 4 piston calipers. There’s an adjustable sports suspension and the car now rides on new 22-inch alloy wheels with a unique black and silver design. The look is suitably finished with black racing stripes and matching “Since 68″ logos.

Depending on optional equipment the  Irmscher i42 Camaro will be sold in Germany from €49,000.

25-Year Anniversary tribute video to BMW’s M3

December 21st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

From the first E30 to the most recent E92, BMW’s M3 has never stopped evolving and never stopped seeking automotive perfection. It’s transitioned from the light, small, and motorsports-intended E30 M3 to larger, more powerful, and built equally for street and track, but some common traits remain. Where those traits lie and how strong they realistically still are is a topic of much debate, but this video included below sheds some light the development of this motoring icon. Choosing to dwell mostly on the classic E30 M3 the video shows off some racing footage and explains how the E30 laid the groundwork for the other M3s to come.

Click the box below to watch the video. Continue reading “25-Year Anniversary tribute video to BMW’s M3” »

2011 Mini Paceman concept – officially unveiled

December 20th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Rumours have been circulating about what concept Mini would launch at next month’s Detroit Auto Show with many guessing an even smaller Mini micro car. But today rumours have been put to rest with the announcement that Mini will take its new Paceman concept.

Based heavily on the upcoming Countryaman, Mini has removed the rear doors and turned it into a coupe. There are plenty of subtle styling tweaks, and Mini have created a new category for the vehicle labeling it the world’s first Sports Activity Coupe in the small-car segment.

Visually, the Paceman starts identically to the Countryman up front, where it uses the same grille as the higher-powered Cooper S Countryman. Behind the front clip, the Paceman has a shorter, more sloping roofline. Large 19-inch wheels are fitted, suggesting greater performance for the two-door edition. On the rear, the Paceman has more of a horizontal design theme, with a lower, smaller glass area and taillamps that wrap around and are turned 90 degrees from their vertical installation in the Countryman.

Even with the missing rear doors, the Paceman is the same size as its Countryman donor car, measuring the same 4110mm in length and 1789mm width. Thanks to the chopped roofline however, the Paceman’s height is shorter by 20mm at 1541mm.

Under the burly bonnet lays the same 1.6 litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine found in the brand’s John Cooper Works models, which produces 155kW and 260Nm of torque.

As with the Countryman, the Paceman also features Mini’s All4 permanent all-wheel-drive system, which can send up to the full 100 percent of power to the rear axle if the front wheels completely lose traction. The front axle also features an electronic LSD system to further improve grip. Continue reading “2011 Mini Paceman concept – officially unveiled” »

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