Hulme CanAm invited to hill climb at Goodwood Festival

May 31st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

New Zealand’s only supercar the Hulme CanAm has just been confirmed for display and a demonstration at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed event in the UK. Lord March extended a invitation to Hulme Supercars to bring its CanAm Spyder which will be one of just 55 invited supercars on display. It will also be the first Australasian designed and built supercar to be driven on the famous Goodwood hill-climb track.

The Hulme CanAm Spyder has been named in honour of Denny Hulme, New Zealand’s only Formula One World Champion and double CanAm Champion. It’s exclusive with only 20 examples to be built and is designed to give the driver an experience as close as possible, to driving a Formula One car legally on the road. Tipping the scales at just 980kg the CanAm uses high-tech carbon/titanium/kevlar composite chassis and composite body panels. It also features F1 styled down force generating aero package and push-rod suspension to provide superior road holding, handling and ride comfort. Continue reading “Hulme CanAm invited to hill climb at Goodwood Festival” »

New Nissan Leaf TV ad mocks petrol power (+video)

May 31st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Electric cars are becoming impossible to avoid in the media and its only a matter of time before they reach NZ shores. The Nissan Leaf is a pioneer among this new breed of automobiles and is promoting its environmentally friendly nature in a new advertising campaign that pokes fun at petrol power.

In the TV commercial entitled “Gas Powered Everything”, Nissan mocks the internal combustion engine by showing an electricity free world where all appliances run on gas.

It’s clever stuff and shows regular people using petrol-powered alarm-clocks, microwave ovens, computers and other appliances. Towards the end, Chevrolet’s Volt car gets a serve too for being a gas-electric hybrid. Nissan can go getting all high-and-mighty about its Leaf EV, but what about Nissan’s performance cars like the GT-R which go through petrol like its all going to run out?

Pays not to think too much, just enjoy the ad clip below. Continue reading “New Nissan Leaf TV ad mocks petrol power (+video)” »

Audi may reveal 2012 A5 facelift at Frankfurt Show

May 31st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

According to recent reports, Audi will reveal its 2012 A5 facelift at the upcoming Frankfurt Auto Show this September. The updates should be shown in both coupe and convertible body styles, and will include new cosmetic and mechanical upgrades. Visually the new A5 will feature freshly designed headlights, with integrated LED daytime running lights, a new front bumper and a slightly re-styled front grille.

At the rear there will be new LED tail lights and a few other minor modifications. The cabin and switchgear is expected to stay predominately the same as the current A5 model.

Mechanically, a new engine option may be on the cars with a new supercharged V6 unit possibly replacing the V8 from the current S5. The remainder of the engines offered on the current A5 and S5 line-up will stay the same. Continue reading “Audi may reveal 2012 A5 facelift at Frankfurt Show” »

Ford NZ reveals All Blacks-inspired AB35 Fiesta

May 30th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The teaser ads have been on NZ TV’s for a few weeks now and Ford New Zealand has just revealed it’s All Blacks inspired limited edition AB35 Fiesta.

Binding in with Ford NZ, twenty All Blacks players helped personlise and tune the special Fiesta and the AB35 is now on sale at Ford dealers, with a price of $35,990. Like the name would suggest, Ford NZ has built 35 of the AB35 Fiestas with 34 going on sale today and one being auctioned for charity on Trade Me between 29th May and 8th June. Proceeds from the auction will go to three charities; Ford New Zealand’s official charity Variety – The Children’s Charity and the New Zealand Rugby Union’s official charity partners Plunket and KidsCan.

Chris Masterson from Ford NZ says the AB35 Fiesta project was created to celebrate the company’s 17-year sponsorship of the All Blacks.

“The AB35 project was all about showing our commitment to the All Blacks this year. We had a huge amount of fun designing this car and it is great to be able to finally reveal it to the public. The AB35 Fiesta represents the spirit of our brand. It’s a dynamic, premium car that’s small on price but big on features. People who get behind the wheel of this car will find it a fantastic driving experience, and show their support for the All Blacks,” said Chris Masterson. Continue reading “Ford NZ reveals All Blacks-inspired AB35 Fiesta” »

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster officially unveiled

May 30th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

After much teasing, prompting, rumour and speculation Mercedes-Benz has released full details and images of its new 2012 SLS AMG Roadster. The much anticipated drop-top will receive an official world premiere at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show this September.

The gullwing doors of the SLS coupe have had to go but even with conventional doors and body stiffening the convertible only weighs 40kg more than the hard top.

The three-layered fabric soft top will not eat in the roadster model’s boot area as its capacity remains the same with the roof either up or down, and is roughly the same to that of the SLS AMG Coupe. The automated top will come in a choice of three colors – black, beige and a classic red. It opens and closes in eleven seconds, and can be operated at speeds up to 50km/h.

Under the bonnet the roadster shares the coupe’s AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that sends power to the rear wheels. The naturally aspirated eight-cylinder engine produces 425kW and 650 Nm of torque. Apparently, even with the slight weight increase the quoted 0-100kph acceleration time for the roadster is 3.7 seconds, down 0.1 second from the coupe’s sprint time. Continue reading “2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster officially unveiled” »

Kia to sell first global hybrid car – may come to NZ

May 30th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Kia Motors is about to launch its first ever global hybrid car with the introduction of the Optima Hybrid into the U.S market next month.

The Optima Hybrid uses a Kia-developed powertrain with lithium polymer batteries that won’t need replacing for up to ten years or 240,000kms.

The Optima Hybrid will be a full parallel hybrid vehicle with its 2.4-litre GDi direct injection petrol engine mated to a small electric motor driving the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.  A special clutch is fitted between the engine and motor, enabling the petrol engine to be de-coupled from the powertrain so that Optima can be operated in zero-emission, full-electric drive mode from standstill up to 100km/h ( 9.2 seconds) or in a co-operative electric-petrol mode at any speed.

Together, the 2.4-litre petrol engine and 40kW electric motor produce a combined power output of 154kW and 265Nm of torque and when it’s running on electric alone produces no emissions. Overall combined emissions are estimated to be 99 grams of CO2/Kilometre.

Kia says the system’s configuration does not have a requirement for a high-capacity electric motor and generator, saving weight and cost. Fuel economy is rated at 6.2L/100km in the combined cycle. This is aided by lowering the car 5mm and including an ‘active air flap’ in the front grille, smooth under-floor panels, low-drag wheels and low rolling resistance tyres. Continue reading “Kia to sell first global hybrid car – may come to NZ” »

Weight For The Lights To Go Green

May 29th, 2011 by Tim Grimley

Thanks to a bit of jolly team building deigned necessary to spice up an otherwise unspectacular sales conference, last week gave me my first experience of Kiwi go-karting. And without wanting to come over all tall poppy-ish, I reckon that I may be harbouring a bit of a hidden talent. During my stint behind the wheel excursions into the tyre walls were expertly avoided, I nailed incredibly consistent lap times and caught the apex of every corner with almost surgical precision.

I also got absolutely stuffed.

The problem is this; for reasons known only to them, my employer has seen fit to recruit a number of people built along the lines of racing snakes. And this meant that they could enjoy a power to weight ratio similar to that of a Bugatti Veyron whilst my kart accelerated like a fat child on roller skates. Going uphill.

Not designed to move pie eaters

Admittedly at 95kgs no one could accuse me of having an entirely pastry-based diet, but I’m still a bit on the hefty side to ever give serious thought about making much of an impact on the race track. When it comes to the sportsmen at the top of that particular tree, less is most definitely more.

Take, for instance, Sebastian Vettel, the reigning Formula 1 World Champion who weighs in at a measly 58kgs. That’s about the same as a hamster which has spent a month on the cabbage soup diet. Then there’s Scott Dixon who, despite being a larger example of the breed, would still comfortably make the weight for under 85kg rugby whilst holding an average 3 year old child.

Not that this should necessarily come as a surprise. Given the extraordinary and expensive lengths that motor sport teams go to shed kilos from their cars in order to shave extra tenths of seconds from lap times, it would be a strange decision if they then chose to negate that benefit by putting a salad-dodger behind the wheel. Continue reading “Weight For The Lights To Go Green” »

Skoda Yeti TSI 2011 Review

May 27th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Skoda’s Yeti was first spotted on New Zealand terrain last year and was offered only in diesel engine/manual transmission form. Some were at first frightened by its unusual looks and segment-bridging body shape, but soon enough we all began to accept it. Quickly, people in the know went from accepting to admiring, and very soon the Yeti was scooping up nominations and awards both domestically and internationally.  Now for 2011, a second Yeti has reached our shores to form a two-strong Yeti pack with its diesel-powered pioneering sibling. This new Yeti is a full $10k cheaper and while it offers slightly less than the diesel model, its practicality and driver-friendly nature are shared.  Car and SUV was very impressed during its first Yeti encounter last year and again after a fresh sighting of the new-to-NZ petrol model. Now we can answer the questions of curious kiwi motorists.

So what the hell is it?
Good question, the Yeti is a small crossover vehicle or you could think of it as a high-riding hatchback. It shares its platform with the Volkswagen Golf and uses a 1.2-litre TSI engine that also has service in the Golf, Polo and the smaller Skoda Fabia. Continue reading “Skoda Yeti TSI 2011 Review” »

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