BMW X6 xDrive 40d 2011 Review

April 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

There was a time when dance music was just dance music, it was electronic, it had a beat and it made you want to get up and get funky. But then like many things, genres and sub genres began dividing it up as the masses searched for what’s new and cool. Now we have house music, drum and bass, dub step and many others which all sound the same to ageing ears. This 21st century ‘genrefication’ has reached much further than dance music and infected the car world creating niche vehicles like the crossover and the mini van. BMW, never one to miss a trick, decided to create a sub genre all its own, coining the term ‘Sports Activity Coupe’ and populated it with a lone offering – the X6. When the X6 went on sale in 2008 critics claimed it was a niche too far and that there was no demand for such a machine. But the X6 came packing attitude, dynamic ability and didn’t need anyone’s approval to be what it is. For 2011, BMW have added a new six-cylinder diesel engine to top the X6 diesel range and named the model the xDrive 40d. Car and SUV had a chance to tune in and test drive the polarising X6 40d listening closely to the rhythm of its fresh beat. Continue reading “BMW X6 xDrive 40d 2011 Review” »

Nissan Micra Ti 2011 Review

April 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Chihuahuas are considered cute, even laughably so, right up till the moment they bite you. Once those pin-like teeth are nibbling on your leg, there is no doubt left in your mind that however harmless the Chihuahua looks it’s still an animal. What Chihuahuas are to the dog kingdom the Nissan Micra is the same for the automotive world, it’s compact, it’s cute but it still has the most of the same abilities and bite as any other car. The Micra story began back in 1982 when a boxy first-generation model was built to battle the Honda City. It would go on to have two more generations and become known for its budget price tag and quirky styling. Now, for its fourth generation this super-mini has toned down its radical design and is baring its teeth to its competitors in the light segment through strong equipment levels and improved practicality. Car and SUV took the new top-spec Micra Ti for a run to see if it has the bite to match its bark.

The new Micra is set to be a true global car for Nissan, with sales planned for 160 countries worldwide and production at four different factories. With this broad focus in mind, the Micra design is now much more conventional. The bug eyes remain but are better molded into the bonnet line and there’s a more discrete single-bar grille.  A wider lower air dam and fog lights on the Ti spec model give it a sporty, more purposeful face. Along the flanks it’s fairly tame with nice colour coding on the wing mirrors and door handles, with 15-inch 7-spoke alloys filling the guards. Out back there’s an integrated hatch spoiler with stop lamp, vertical taillights and a wide-opening hatch. The new styling slims the Micra down compared to its bulbous predecessor but a keen eye will notice that the new model is larger in wheelbase, width and length. Even with the more subdued styling the Micra won’t blend into the background, particularly when finished in ‘Spring Green’ like our extroverted test vehicle. Continue reading “Nissan Micra Ti 2011 Review” »

Rush Hour Traffic? It’s For The Dogs

April 29th, 2011 by Tim Grimley

My commute received an unexpected highlight this week when, on Wednesday, I found myself travelling alongside a ute with a dog tethered in the back. Looking like a cross between a labrador and a fairly major surgical accident he was clearly well used to travelling in this manner, to the point where he had even invented a new game to help pass the time.

It's a dog's life

Standing in the shadow of the ute’s cab, panting was undertaken until a foaming mass of foul saliva had built up, at which point he would thrust his head into the air stream and try to direct the white, rabid slush onto the windscreen of the car behind. To his credit, he was a reasonable shot and would have no doubt gone on to cause slobbery carnage at some juncture had the traffic not come to its usual halt at Ellerslie.

Denied of his sport, Bonzo (I’d named him by this point) decided that the captive audience of commuters should be treated to a display of Olympic standard scrotum licking which he launched into with great gusto before curling up in a ball, tucking his nose up his bum and going to sleep.

And this is exactly why we should be investing more heavily in public transport.

Over the Easter holiday, myself and the current Mrs Grimley took a trip up to Northland. But rather than sit in the bank holiday queue from Waiwera to Wellsford a decision was taken to pull out the map and journey across the lesser roads that haphazardly criss-cross the north island. Continue reading “Rush Hour Traffic? It’s For The Dogs” »

Zagato unveils Viper-based Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale

April 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

About a month ago it was announced that Zagato was building a new TZ3 Stradale,  now the Milanese design house has revealed the first photos and details of its newest creation.

Zagato’s TZ3 Stradale is an Alfa Romeo bodied sports car based on the platform and mechanical hardware of the hardcore, but out of production Dodge Viper ACR. Power comes from the top-spec Viper’s same 447kW 8.4-litre V10 engine mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox and a full race-spec suspension. The TZ3 Stradale uses an all new and all carbon fibre body with the most distinctive design feature being the classic Kamm-tail layout. While this coachbuilt Viper doesn’t actually use any mechanical pieces from Alfa Romeo, its design puts a decidedly contemporary spin on years of collaboration between Zagato and Alfa.

The TZ3 Stradale is Zagato’s second and final tribute to the 100th anniversary of Alfa Romeo (1910-2010), which started in 2009 with the presentation of the 8C Competizione-based TZ3 Corsa that took out the Villa D’Este Design Concept Award in 2010. Continue reading “Zagato unveils Viper-based Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale” »

The Future of motorsport? Nismo RC electric race car

April 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Electric cars haven’t really made their way into motorsport circles just yet but that doesn’t mean there’s not parties already pushing for full EV racing classes. Some are even going so far as to suggest that the technology could be used in F1 first and then filter down to lesser motosport divisions later. Western Springs speedway would certainly get much less noise complaints if it was electric-powered cars lapping the dirt oval. But before all that, the first step would be to organise the first fully electric racing class and Nissan have taken the first steps towards it.

Nissan have recently unveiled its Leaf Nismo RC (Racing Competition) concept at the New York Auto Show. The prototype racing hatchback has lost a couple of doors from the production model and nearly four inches out of its wheelbase, but it’s wider and longer with a minimal ground clearance of just 2.4 inches.

The dedicated racer also gets a full carbon fibre monocoque bodywork with removable front and rear sections, fixed windows, LED headlights and taillights and a driver-adjustable rear wing. Nissan says the racing special weighs just 938kg – around 40 percent lighter than the production Leaf. Continue reading “The Future of motorsport? Nismo RC electric race car” »

Chevrolet Corvette updated for 2012 (+video)

April 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The 2012 Chevrolet Corvette has been revealed for keen badge fans with some subtle tweaks and updates to the hard-serving C6 platform. The enhancements are aimed at improving the Corvettes on-track performance and on-road comfort levels.

Michelin Pilot Sport Cup Zero Pressure tyres are now optional on both top spec variants – the Z06 and Zr1. Chevrolet claims that the new rubber should be good for an eight-percent gain in lateral acceleration (more than 1.1g) and will make for shorter braking distances.

The Z06 also gets some fresh optional gear like performance traction control, a full-width rear spoiler and a carbon fibre bonnet. The top dog ZR1 receives taller gearing in the fifth and sixth ratios to maximize fuel economy and possibly push out the top-end as well.

The entire 2012 Chevrolet Corvette line now benefits from a slightly reworked interior that includes a new steering wheel and new seats. The racing pews have more supportive bolstering along the sides and microfibre inserts are now available for the first time as well. The new steering wheel features leather-wrapped spokes and all models receive contrasting coloured stitching and more padded centre console and armrests. Interior appointments have been considered a weakness of the C6 Corvette and this changes should go some way to change that opinion. Continue reading “Chevrolet Corvette updated for 2012 (+video)” »

Team Lotus buys Caterham – celebrates with special edition Seven (+video)

April 28th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Confirmation has arrived that Team Lotus has now purchased British sportscar maker Caterham Cars. Both companies lay a claim on Colin Chapman’s legacy without any actual support from Lotus Cars itself but now can form a stronger unit.

The acquisition by Tony Fernandes, Kamarudin Meranun and SM Nasarudin, the men behind the Team Lotus Formula 1 squad, from the shareholder consortium led by Corven Ventures, will see the legendary lightweight sportscar manufacturer expand its brand profile and product family.

The acquisition will not only signal the continued development of the legendary Seven, but will provide Caterham with the platform to apply its philosophy of ‘adding lightness’ to new models for the 21st Century.

As custodians of Colin Chapman’s two-seater Seven since 1973, Caterham has been responsible for the evolution of a car originally conceived as a ‘fit for purpose’ race-car for the road in 1957.

To celebrate the tie-in, Caterham is preparing to launch a special edition run of Team Lotus Sevens, it will be exclusive with only 50 examples to be built – 25 for the UK and 25 for overseas. The unique package can be added to any variant in the Seven range, and comes with the same green-and-yellow livery as the team’s Formula One race cars and a special plaque in the cabin, along with a commemorative book and an invitation to tour the team’s factory in England.

Check out images and a video below.

Continue reading “Team Lotus buys Caterham – celebrates with special edition Seven (+video)” »

Updated 2012 Jaguar range and XKR-S coming to NZ

April 27th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Jaguar has introduced upgrades across its range of 2012 models at the recent New York Motor Show and the updated machines will be available in NZ by the end of the year.

The XF sports sedan has received powertrain updates to improve performance and economy. There is also a new interior look and exterior design. The XJ luxury sedan now has a Rear Seat Comfort package offering a limousine experience. The new 300km/h XKR-S now tops the XK range.

“Substantial changes and improvements have been made across the XF, XJ and XK ranges bringing performance, refinement and economy to new levels” says Paul Ricketts, Brand Manager of Jaguar New Zealand “While fresh design enhancements strengthen the appeal of Jaguar’s latest line-up.” said Mr Ricketts.

The XF, now receives new front and rear revisions to its appearance that bring it in line with the flagship XJ. The supercharged XFR features further unique design enhancements that signal the performance available in this range-topper. Continue reading “Updated 2012 Jaguar range and XKR-S coming to NZ” »

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