Saab Humbug

December 23rd, 2011 by Tim Grimley

Once again we find ourselves at Christmas. A time of peace to the world, joy to all mankind and general festive overindulgences for the purpose of gaining suitably flabby midriffs around which we can base our hopelessly overoptimistic January resolutions. But amongst all this good will and gastronomic excess, it is also a time where we should spare a thought for those not as fortunate as ourselves.

The advent period is never a good time to be the recipient of bad news, so we can only imagine the pain of those at Saab who have just found out that after 64 years of car production, it is very likely that they will be taking a one-way trip down the gurgler of history.

Where did it all go wrong?

On the surface of it, it seems that the evil behemoth General Motors is to blame. Firstly, they sold Saab to Spyker – a small Dutch concern that was not particularly adept at making money from its low-volume efforts at sports car production and had a business plan for the Swedish motoring giant that, with hindsight, was probably dreamed up following a particularly intense session in one of Amsterdam’s “coffee shops” – and then when it was blatantly obvious everything was turning to custard, barred the obligatory rescue package from the Orient.

But like the heinous and evil mother who decided it was the fault of government agencies that she had beaten her children inside out and then locked them in a wardrobe, the people at Saab would do rather better to engage in a little more navel-gazing than finger pointing.

Firstly it must be noted that the bosses at GM were in a pretty difficult position. In the week when it was revealed the USA misses out on US$250 billion of revenue a year due to industrial espionage, it was never going to be a good look to gift wrap the Chinese a Saab-load of your technology. Potential suitors could certainly have been chosen with a lesser degree of desperation.

But even if an agreeable knight in shining armour had been found, Saab really didn’t deserve to continue.

For the last few years, Saab has survived by wheeling out a succession of very slightly improved vehicles cobbled together from whatever could be found in the GM parts bid and some inadvisably offensive chrome trim. While this may be enough to put you on the same playing field as the Fords and Toyotas of this world, Saab has long been pitched against far more rarefied opposition. And when lined up against the equivalent models from German and high-end Japanese manufacturers, it has been apparent for some time that the Swedes don’t even come close to being competitive.

Ah. That'll be it.

And that only left them with their last line of defence to fall back on – “quirkiness”.

As far as I can tell, Saab’s reputation for embracing the wacky is based entirely on one car – the 99 Turbo. Others may point to their earlier, aircraft inspired vehicles, but I prefer to view these as inspirational and visionary in their use of aerodynamics rather than downright crazy. The 99 Turbo was different; it was a front wheel drive car with a turbocharger manufactured at a time when chassis engineers had absolutely no idea how to make them work properly and as a result the driving experience was rather lairy. And despite being around in one shape or form since the late 1960s, the styling still appeared to have been dropped from space.

Saab had a car that was genuinely exciting, interesting and desirable, but rather than move on they favoured evolution over revolution and refined the looks and performance to the point when they became rather too mainstream. And with that unique selling point watered down beyond the point of all recognition, hope was gone.

Maybe at some point down the line, the Saab name will find its way back onto the roads – even if only as a branding exercise for an emerging manufacturer – but for now at least it seems destined to become a ghost of not only Christmas present, but the foreseeable future too.

Mitsubishi Triton GLS Sport Double Cab 2WD Auto Review

December 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Not everyone needs the 4WD capacity of a ute, so enter the 2WD models which are cheaper but still retain some of the rugged abilities of their big brothers (along with similar load hauling capacities.)

Capable of carrying 1000kg in the tray, the 2WD GLS is only 25kg shy of the 4WD GLS – not much penalty there – and you can still tow 3000kg as long as the trailer is braked.

The GLS has a five-speed automatic gearbox, unlike the 4WD manual GL Triton we tested recently. This is much smoother and more tractable; much better on the road and more convenient, too. Despite the 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine still producing 133kW you don’t get the initial push of acceleration like you do in the manual (perhaps due to the 51Nm less torque), but getting away from the lights quickly isn’t the first thing on a ute driver’s mind, particularly as it will upset whatever load is in the back.

On the inside, the GLS comes with some premium features over the GL and GLX models, including passenger vanity mirror, map lamp, centre multi-display meter, sunglasses pocket, two extra speakers (bringing the total to six), climate control, cruise control and Bluetooth phone integration with steering wheel controls.  The seats are slightly more contoured and there’s also an electric rear window which is useful for slightly longer loads (as long as they’re not a danger to the cabin occupants), and to get more airflow through. The rear window and rear passenger windows are tinted.

Passengers and the driver are well catered to in an accident with six airbags ready to deploy. That’s if the electronics don’t save you first, though. The Triton comes with electronic brakeforce distribution, active stability control, anti-lock brakes and a 4-star ANCAP crash test rating. EBD reduces stopping distances, while ASC modulates each wheel’s brake individually if it detects understeer or oversteer, making the Triton extremely difficult to spin.

On the outside, the GLS’s differences include more chrome trim – wing mirrors, radiator grille, rear step bumper – front fog lamps, and colour-keyed bumpers. The GLS sits on smart-but-functional 16-inch wheels wrapped in 245/70 profile tyres. These are grippy enough in the dry, and when it’s wet the traction control takes care of the inevitable lively rear end when unloaded. The overall length is 100mm longer than the lesser models and, at 5385mm, this is going to challenge some garages. It certainly makes it tricky in tighter car parks, so you may want to plump for the optional parking sensors. Reversing sensors should be standard these days; rear visibility is not particularly good, and the mirrors, while fairly large, just don’t compensate for that.

The GLS rides better than the GL Double Cab we tested. It’s smoother on the road with its uprated sports suspension, less noisy, and overall just easier to drive. There’s usually a fuel consumption penalty in these types of vehicles when you choose the automatic over the manual, and the Triton isn’t an exception. Go for the manual 4WD GLS Sport and you get 8.3l/100km; go for the automatic 2WD GLS Sport and it’s 9.4l/100km. The automatic 4WD is 9.6l/100km.

It has the useful Bluetooth hands-free phone integration and cruise control, and along with its inherent practicality the 2WD Triton is bound to remain popular with urban tradespeople who don’t need heavy duty suspension or 4WD and want an easy-to-drive automatic whilst travelling in heavy traffic.

Pros

  • Capable ute with excellent towing capacity

Cons

  • Equivalent 2WD Ranger XLT is $2000 cheaper

Price: from $50,890+ORC for the top-of-the-line 2WD GLS. Base model starts at $34,790

Our test vehicle had the optional tow bar fitted.

GENERAL GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
MODEL CODE RF3GLX22 RF3GL47 RF3GLX47 RF6GLS47
CAB STYLE Single cab Double cab
TRANSMISSION Manual Manual / Automatic Automatic 5-speed
TRAY STYLE Chassis Wellside
MODEL CODE RF3GLX22 RF3GL47 RF3GLX47 / RF4GLX47 RF6GLS47
ENGINE GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
ENGINE 2.5L Common Rail Intercooled Turbo Diesel 2.5L High Power
DISPLACEMENT (CC) 2,477
MAX POWER KW@RPM 102 @ 4,000 133 @ 4,000
MAX TORQUE NM@RPM 319 @ 2,000 356 @ 2,000
FUEL CONSUMPTION – L/100KM 8.2 8.2 / 8.6 9.4
CO2 – G/KM 214 214 / 224 245
TANK CAPACITY (LITRES) 75
EXHAUST EMISSION REGULATION EU-STEP4
HIGH EFFICIENCY AIR FILTER WITH PRE FILTER All models
TRANSMISSION GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
TYPE 5-speed manual 5-speed manual / 4-speed auto 5-speed auto with Sports Mode
GEAR RATIO (1ST) 4.313 4.313 / 2.842 3.789
GEAR RATIO (2ND) 2.330 2.330 / 1.495 2.057
GEAR RATIO (3RD) 1.436 1.436 / 1.000 1.421
GEAR RATIO (4TH) 1.000 1.000 / 0.731 1.000
GEAR RATIO (5TH) 0.788 0.788 / - 0.731
REV 4.220 4.220 / 2.720 3.865
REAR AXLE RATIO 3.917
DIFFERENTIAL - LSD Hybrid Type -
SAFETY GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
AIRBAGS Driver & passenger (Passenger on/off switch) Driver, passenger, side & curtain (Passenger on/off switch)
BRAKING SYSTEM ABS, EBD, ASC & ATC ABS & EBD ABS, EBD, ASC & ATC
SMARTBRAKE All models
IMMOBILIZER All models
CHILD SEAT ANCHOR 1 2
CHILD PROOF LOCK ON REAR DOORS All models
FRONT SEAT BELTS WITH PRETENSIONER 3 point ELR & centre lap belt 3 point ELR with adjustable pillar height
REAR SEAT BELTS - 3 point ELR & 3 point centre belt
SEAT BELT WARNING LAMP All models
SUSPENSION (HIGH RIDER) GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
FRONT Wish bone with coil spring & stabiliser bar
REAR LEAF SPRING Heavy duty Sports
STEERING GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
POWER STEERING All models
3 SPOKE STEERING WHEEL
TILT ADJUSTABLE
Urethane with Cruise control Leather with audio, cruise control & hands-free Bluetooth
BRAKES GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
FRONT / REAR BRAKE 16″ disc / 11.6″ drum
PARK BRAKE TYPE Dash Floor
WHEELS GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
WHEEL TYPE 16″ x 6.0 alloy 16″ x 6.0″ silver steel 16″ x 7.0″ alloy
SPARE WHEEL – FULL SIZE Silver steel
FRONT & REAR TYRES 205R16 HT 245/70R16 HT
HYDRAULIC JACK & TOOL SET All models
EXTERIOR GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
FRONT BUMPER – COLOUR KEY Across the range Body colour with lower silver panel
HALOGEN HEADLAMP All models
FRONT FOG LAMP - GLS only
RADIATOR GRILLE Black 2-bar Chrome 2-bar Chrome sports
WHEEL ARCH FLARES - Body colour
MUD GUARDS Front only Front & Rear
SIDE STEPS - Flat Sports
DOOR MIRROR ELECTRIC CONTROL Black Chrome
SIDE PROTECTION MOLDING (BODY COLOUR) - O
DOOR HANDLES Black Chrome
REAR STEP BUMPER - Alloy Chrome sports
REAR CENTRE STOP LIGHT - Tailgate
FRONT SKID PLATE & ENGINE UNDER TRAY All models
FRONT TOWING HOOK X2 All models
INTERIOR GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
DASH & DOOR TRIM – SWITCH PANEL Black Silver
DOOR HANDLES Black Chrome
SEAT TRIM GL / GLX Type GLS Type
FRONT SEATS Bucket & 2-person bench seat Bucket Sports bucket Sports bucket high-grade trim
SEAT ADJUSTMENT Manual slide & recline Manual slide, recline with driver height adjuster
REAR SEATS - Bench type with centre arm rest
SEAT HEAD REST All positions
FLOOR COVERING Vinyl Vinyl / Carpet Carpet
GEAR SHIFT LEVER Urethane Leather
COMFORT & CONVENIENCE GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
ENTRY SYSTEM Keyless entry remote x 2
ELECTRIC DOOR WINDOWS All models
ELECTRIC REAR WINDOW - GLS only
HEATED REAR WINDOW WITH TIMER All models
TINTED REAR & REAR DOOR WINDOWS - GLS only
CENTRAL LOCKING All models
ASH TRY AND LIGHTER All models
FOOT REST All models
AIRCONDITIONING Manual Full auto
PASSENGER SUNVISOR VANITY MIRROR - GLS only
GRAB HANDLES Front x 1 Front x 1 & Rear x 2
INTERIOR LAMP Front Front & Rear Front & Rear with Map Lamp
COURTESY LAMP ON ALL DOORS All models
WINDSCREEN WIPER, TWO SPEED WITH VARIABLE INTERMITTENT All models
HEADLIGHT ON ALARM All models
ACCESSORY SOCKET IN CONSOLE BOX - All models
SPEEDO & TACHOMETER WITH DIMMER Black trim Silver trim
CENTRE MULTI DISPLAY METER - O
STORAGE GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
GLOVE BOX WITH KEY AND LAMP All models
FRONT DOOR POCKET WITH BOTTLE HOLDER All models
REAR DOOR BOTTLE HOLDER - O
PASSENGER BACK SEAT POCKET - O
FLOOR CONSOLE - Large type with lid Large type with lid & silver trim
CONSOLE CUP HOLDERS - 2
REAR SEAT CENTRE ARM REST CUP HOLDERS - 2
SUNGLASS POCKET - O
AUDIO & MEDIA GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
SPEAKERS 2 4 6
SOUND SYSTEM AM/FM radio single CD AM/FM radio with CD, MP3, audio input,& USB port High Spec AM/FM radio, CD, MP3, Bluetooth, audio input & USB
BLUETOOTH HANDS-FREE TELEPHONE SYSTEM - Integrated with stereo system Voice activated with steering wheel controls
PILLAR ANTENNA All models
DIMENSIONS / WEIGHTS GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
OVERALL LENGTH WITH WELLSIDE (MM) Dependent on tray fitted 5285 5385
OVERALL WIDTH (MM) 1750 1800
OVERALL HEIGHT (MM) 1775 1780
WHEEL BASE (MM) 3000
TRACK FRONT & REAR (MM) 1505 x 1500 1520 / 1515
GROUND CLEARANCE (MM) 200 205
TURNING RADIUS (M) 11.8
KERB WEIGHT (KG) 1460 1755 1750 / 1760 1785
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT (KG) 2750 2760 2760 2780
MAXIMUM GROSS COMBINATION MASS (KG) 5175 5185 5185 / 5700 5700
PAYLOAD (KG) 1280 1005 1010 / 1000 995
MAXIMUM FRONT AXLE LOAD (KG) 1260
MAXIMUM REAR AXLE LOAD (KG) 1800
SEATING CAPACITY – PERSONS 3 5
APPROACH ANGLE – DEGREE 33
RAMP BREAKOVER ANGLE – DEGREE 26
DEPARTURE ANGLE – DEGREE Dependent on tray fitted 21.0 22.0
TOWING BRAKED (KG) 2500 3000
TOWING UNBRAKED (KG) 750
WELLSIDE FEATURES & DIMENSIONS GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
CAB PROTECTOR Dependent on tray fitted Body colour -
WELLSIDE INNER HOOKS Dependent on tray fitted 6 x hooks all models
WELLSIDE INTERIOR LENGTH (MM) Dependent on tray fitted 1505
WELLSIDE INTERIOR WIDTH (MM) Dependent on tray fitted 1470
BETWEEN WHEEL ARCHES (MM) Dependent on tray fitted 1085
WELLSIDE INTERIOR HEIGHT (MM) Dependent on tray fitted 460
WELLSIDE FLOOR HEIGHT FROM GROUND (MM) Dependent on tray fitted 850

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

A Bridge Too Far (+video)

December 17th, 2011 by Tim Grimley

Despite prodigious temptation to the contrary I have, so far, managed to avoid devoting an entire week’s article to the subject of the Victoria Park Tunnel. Yes, there may have the odd snipe about the intellectual capacity of the average Jafa motorist not being up to the distinctly un-taxing concept of subterranean motoring, but by and large I have left the subject well alone.

One driving factor behind this decision was the sheer volume of work devoted to the matter already. And there are only so many ways the motoring press can articulate their frustrations about the mush-brained, oxygen thieving, wastes of space who navigate a certain section of State Highway 1 without a degree of monotony setting in.

What NZTA says you'll see (NZTA graphic)

But even more importantly, the tunnel really isn’t the big news. Yes, it may be irksome now that every afternoon the main arterial road of the country is slowed to a crawl by people apparently on the lookout for Taniwha, but trust me this will be a drop in the ocean compared to the chaos that will be caused on 9th January.

The more observant amongst you may have noticed that this is the date on which the new dual flyover arrangement taking southbound traffic over Victoria Park opens; splitting traffic going to the CBD, State Highway 16 and continuing on State Highway 1.

The roadway planners must clearly have thought they were onto a good thing. Traffic heading onto the harbour bridge would have plenty of time to position itself correctly, thus ensuring three orderly flows of vehicles can dissolve one of the most problematic bottlenecks in Auckland.

Sadly, the roadway planners were wrong. Anyone travelling south from the North Shore will be all too aware that before their first early morning latté it is a minor miracle if the average Auckland motorist is aware enough to get changed out of their pyjamas before leaving the house, never mind make a conscious decision about which is the correct lane to be in. Even now, when the option is much more limited, there is a constant concertina of braking cars as someone remembers at entirely the wrong moment that their journey plans for the day involve Hamilton and not Queen Street.

What Jafas see

With this choice soon to be multiplied, it wouldn’t surprise me if some become so confused – this is happening on what will be the first hazy day back after Christmas for many – that they simply abandon their cars and start walking. And from what we have learnt from the tunnel, even those who manage to get their heads around the concept of following road signs are likely to slow down to the speed of a tree sloth in particularly uncomfortable shoes in order to really appreciate the new set up. For bloody weeks on end.

Given the contempt Aucklanders are treated with by much of the nation it pains me to admit it but, when it comes to motoring at least, we’re simply too stupid to cope with this level of change.

Although on the upside, it should stop everyone moaning about the tunnel for a while. That is until they open the third lane anyway.

Toyota Yaris YRS 2012 Review

December 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

In the 1959 edition of The Observer’s Book of Automobiles, Stirling Moss, O.B.E wrote in the foreward, “In this compact little volume, the editor has contrived to present the more prominent and interesting of the world’s cars in a non-technical manner understandable to even the youngest enthusiast. It is interesting to be able to compare the cars of this country with those of the USA, France, Germany, the USSR and even Japan…”

Even Japan! Oh Stirling, how your words seem to naïve fifty years later. The Japanese entrants in the book were the Prince Alsild De Luxe Saloon and Toyota’s Toyopet Corona ST10, Crown De Luxe RS21 and Crown RS20 Sedan – all small cars by today’s standards; not that much bigger than the Yaris we’re testing today.

But today’s Yaris would no doubt baffle drivers of 1959’s Japanese cars, even though the Yaris itself isn’t packed with technological spec like if you’d bought a Toyota Aurion. Bluetooth phone connectivity and iPod integration would be totally alien.

But enough of the intra-century comparisons as we should be comparing the Yaris with its running mates like the Suzuki Swift, Holden Barina, Honda Jazz, etc. Continue reading “Toyota Yaris YRS 2012 Review” »

Eastnor Castle – the heart of every Land Rover

December 16th, 2011 by Karen Joy Provo

Land Rover is celebrating 50 years of using the Eastnor Castle estate in Herefordshire as its centre for off road testing and development.

Tucked away in rural Herefordshire, this historic piece of English countryside is still an important tool in the research and development of new Land Rovers as well as offering a completely unique Land Rover driving experience to members of the public.

In 1961, Land Rover first chose the 5,000 acre Eastnor Castle estate located near Ledbury, Herefordshire to assess the off-road credentials of their vehicles. Half a century on, the tradition continues, with Eastnor playing a pivotal role in the research and development of Land Rover’s outstanding all-round capability and class-leading off road performance.

As well as the cars themselves, Eastnor has been instrumental in developing an impressive collection of Land Rover technologies; such as Anti-lock Brakes, Adjustable Air Suspension, Electronic Traction Control, Hill Descent Control and Terrain Response® – many of which were world firsts in the 4×4 sector.

The tradition of testing all Land Rover models at Eastnor continues to this day. The Range Rover Evoque was the most recent model to complete its off-road apprenticeship and a large part of the Evoque’s technology, including MagneRide™, was proven on the estate, where ride dampers were tested extensively.

Terrain Response® offers drivers optimal vehicle set-up (electronic and mechanical), and performance, under a variety of off-road conditions.

Whether driving in mud, ruts, rocks, sand, grass, gravel or snow, Terrain Response® has the appropriate setting, and will optimise ride height, engine torque Response®, Hill Descent Control, Electronic Traction Control and transmission settings, ensuring a safe and controlled passage across any terrain.

The Eastnor estate provides the ultimate test for all these conditions and is instrumental in the continuing development of this technology.

Eastnor has been used as not only an ideal off-road engineering ground, but since 1989, as an off-road learning centre for the emergency services, explorers, humanitarian societies such as the British Red Cross and, more recently, the general public.

Customers and fans of the brand can now book drive experience days to hone their on and off-road driving skills with tuition from a team of highly qualified Land Rover Experience instructors. Eastnor is one of over 30 centres around the world, and hosts over five and a half thousand visitors every year participating in half or full days, beginner and intermediate training as well as exciting night drives. Over a third of these visitors have travelled from overseas, keen to experience Land Rover in its heartland.

MINI at the NAIAS Detroit 2012

December 15th, 2011 by Karen Joy Provo

The NAIAS 2012 is the venue for the world premiere of the MINI Roadster. The first open-top two-seater in the MINI model range provides a spontaneous, unadulterated recipe for urban driving fun. A contemporary take on the compact, open-top sports car concept, the MINI Roadster boasts advanced drive and chassis technology, and a classical, manually operated soft-top roof which can be opened and closed quickly and easily.

The design and technology of the MINI Roadster are geared squarely to laying on open-top driving fun for two. With its inspiring agility and cutting-edge efficiency, expressive design and remarkable practicality, the youngest MINI representative gives the brand’s traditional qualities a fresh new twist. All of which will see the MINI Roadster unveiled at the NAIAS on 14 – 22 January 2012 welcomed not only as an attractive addition to the current model range, but also as the world’s first premium model of its kind in the small car segment.

The market launch of the MINI Roadster adds a sixth model to the MINI family, and the increased variety in its ranks presents MINI with additional ways of winning over new target groups for the brand and its products. Ten years after the introduction of the MINI to the US market, the British brand has established itself as a byword for infectious driving fun within compact dimensions and earned itself a growing community of fans. The US has been the most important single market worldwide for MINI cars for several years now; the brand has not only added consistently to its model range over recent years, it has also steadily increased the number of MINI dealers in the USA. The result has been a succession of new sales records.

The MINI Roadster: two seats, unlimited driving fun.

The MINI Roadster embodies a sporty driving experience of enviable purity and spontaneous open-top fun for two. The latest model to join the MINI line-up treats the small car segment to another refreshing shot of innovation. Smile-inducing agility, compact dimensions and low fuel consumption endow the new model with an exceptional skill-set for the challenge of urban mobility. Added to which, its variable-use luggage area gives the driver extra freedom when it comes to carrying sports gear or setting out on trips for two.

The body design of the two-seater MINI sees the hallmark design language of the brand’s cars repackaged within the proportions of a compact roadster. Parallel lines, athletically taut surfaces and harmonious curves combine with a distinctive, low-slung silhouette to give the MINI Roadster an elegantly stretched figure. Time-honoured MINI characteristics, such as its large circular headlights, hexagonal radiator grille, side indicator surrounds and vertically stacked rear lights, flag up the brand identity of the new car. However, the Roadster also adds some distinguishing features of its own to the mix, including a strikingly stepped boot extending from behind the passenger compartment and a heavily raked windscreen.

Stylistically, the robust soft-top roof of the MINI Roadster follows in the classic British roadster tradition. When opened, it folds down flat behind the seats, keeping the car’s elegantly sweeping lines intact. This layout encompasses a clear visual separation of the car’s boot (capacity: 240 litres) from the passenger compartment, while a wide through-loading system behind the seats enhances practicality. Plus, the high-opening tailgate and low boot sill makes it that much easier to load up items of luggage.

Together with the reinforced windscreen frame, two stainless steel roll-over bars provide optimised occupant protection in the event of the car turning over. The safety equipment on board the new MINI Roadster also includes front airbags and head-thorax airbags integrated into the outer sides of the seat backrests, three-point inertia-reel seatbelts including belt force limiters and belt tensioners, and a Tyre Defect Indicator.

The MINI Roadster will be available with a choice of two powerful and efficient petrol engines when it is launched in the US market.  The model line-up will include the MINI Cooper S Roadster (135 kW) and the sharpest performer of all, the MINI John Cooper Works Roadster, whose powerplant develops 155 kW. State-of-the-art technology ensures that both model variants produce a combination of zesty power development and exceptional fuel economy. In customary MINI style, the Roadster channels the engine’s power through to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. Alternatively, the MINI Cooper S Roadster can also be specified with a six-speed automatic as an option.

A quality of chassis technology unparalleled in the small car segment, including Electric Power Steering and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), combines with the torsionally rigid body (complete with special strengthening elements) and the car’s lower centre of gravity to deliver addictive agility and unbeatable active and passive safety. The aerodynamic balance of the MINI Roadster is optimised by an active rear spoiler, which extends automatically when the car reaches 80 km/h.

The wealth of standard equipment can be complemented by a selection of high-quality extras, the typically MINI variety in the range of optional equipment and accessories, giving owners the best possible tools to adapt their cars precisely to their personal style.

Variety breeds success: the MINI model range for 2012.

The popularity of the MINI brand is based on an unmistakable product range which engenders a strong affinity between MINI fans and their cars. The model range captures the imagination of contemporary target groups who are not only looking for high standards of quality and technology in their choice of compact car, but also want to express their own individual style. The expansion of the MINI family to include six models allows the brand’s hallmark expressive design, agile handling and premium quality to be combined with the specific qualities of various vehicle characters. The traditional MINI concept has now been expanded beyond the MINI, MINI Convertible and MINI Clubman to include the MINI Countryman, which was conceived purposefully to meet the requirements of additional target groups. The first MINI to come with four doors, a large tailgate and, if desired, ALL4 all-wheel drive, has given the brand’s growth an extra boost in the USA, as elsewhere. And over recent months, another model devoted to the provision of sporty driving fun – the MINI Coupé – has built on this momentum. Now the Coupé is set to be joined by another two-seater, in the form of the MINI Roadster.

Whatever the type of MINI, a range of engine variants and a package of equipment compiled according to the customer’s requirements ensure that all MINI drivers can look forward to a car that fits the image in their mind’s eye as closely as possible. In addition to the extensive range of exterior paint finishes, interior colours, seat variants and comfort-enhancing equipment, a host of factory-fit exterior design options, model-specific interior trim elements and Colour Lines give customers all they need to configure their car precisely to their personal preferences. An additional opportunity for personalisation is provided by the exceptionally rich selection of accessories. This far-reaching potential for individualisation is another of those special features that shapes the character of the MINI brand. The scope for customers to tailor their car to their own specifications is also attracting increased interest in the US market, as word spreads that every MINI can be enjoyed not only as a byword for driving fun, but also the expression of personal freedom and individuality.

The annual North American International Auto Show is one of the world’s most important car shows. As the traditional curtain-raiser to the year, it will point the way for the entire automotive industry once again in 2012. Over 150 exhibitors from every corner of the earth will come together in Detroit’s Cobo Center to present new models and other product innovations. The organisers are expecting more than 5,000 media representatives from around the world to attend the event, along with some 750,000 members of the public.

BMW Group achieves record sales in November

December 13th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Media Release

  • Total 2010 sales exceeded by end of November
  • Record sales year achieved: 2007 sales record surpassed
  • Robertson: 2011 target of more than 1.6 million vehicles in sight

The BMW Group continued on its successful course in November – sales climbed to 138,978 vehicles, an increase of 7.7% over the previous year (prev. yr. 129,001). Global sales of BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brand automobiles rose to 1,510,862 (prev. yr. 1,319,808) units in the first eleven months of the year, 14.5% more than in the same period last year and a new record for the company. 

Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Sales and Marketing: “This was our best ever November sales month, with growth right across the world. We have already sold more vehicles in the first eleven months of this year than in the whole of 2010 and we have also broken our sales record from 2007 (1,500,678). This puts our record sales target for the full year of more than 1.6 million vehicles well within reach. In November, the main impetus for growth came from the BMW X3, the BMW 5 Series and the BMW 6 Series – with further momentum from the new BMW 1 Series, which has been available on the market since 18 September and has already received several awards from automotive media.”

BMW brand: best-ever November

The BMW brand also reported the best November in its history. A total of 115,124 vehicles were delivered to customers worldwide in the month under review – an increase of 6.4% (prev. yr. 108.185). BMW deliveries climbed 12.9% from the start of the year to 1,252,205 units (prev. yr. 1,108,710).

The BMW X3 broke through the 100,000-unit mark for sales to the end of November. With 106,103 vehicles sold, this highly-successful model grew at a rate of 157.3% (prev. yr. 41,242). The BMW X1 also remained on track for success, with 115,185 deliveries since the start of the year (+25.7%/prev. yr. 91,622).

A total of 283,065 BMW 5 Series vehicles were delivered to customers between January and November – an increase of 52.1% (prev. yr. 186,060). The BMW 5 Series remains the clear leader in its segment. The BMW 7 Series also continues to perform well, with year-to-date deliveries of the BMW flagship reaching 61,529 vehicles (+6.8%/prev. yr. 57,587). The new BMW 6 Series reported strong gains: Sales for November soared 733.5% to1,392 automobiles (prev. yr. 167). Customer response to the new BMW 1 Series has also been very positive: Sales rose 7.7% to 15,234 units in November (prev. yr. 14,148).

MINI brand: record November

The MINI brand can also look back on its best November ever. In the month under review, global sales climbed to 23,534 vehicles (+14.6%/prev. yr. 20,541). Volumes rose 22.4% (255,595/prev. yr. 208,816) in the first eleven months of the year, with sales growth in virtually all markets. The MINI Countryman continued to perform well, with 8,200 deliveries in November (+96.9%/prev. yr. 4,164). The new MINI Coupé also got off to an excellent start: More than 2,300 (2,347) units have been sold since its market launch in October.

Markets: balanced growth across all regions

The BMW Group made gains in all regions and virtually all markets in the year to the end of November. In Europe, the region with the Group’s highest sales, retail volumes increased 8.3% to reach a total of 775,834 units (prev. yr. 716,610). The company also experienced rigorous growth in Asia, with 342,176 vehicles sold (+33.4%/prev. yr. 256,443). China’s dynamic sales growth continued: Sales have risen over 40% since the start of the year to 215,023 vehicles (40.7%/prev. yr. 152,866).

In Germany, the number of new BMW Group vehicles registered in November rose by 2.8% to 25,705 (prev. yr. 25,007). A total of 270,116 new vehicles have been registered since the start of the year – a substantial increase of 11.1% (prev. yr. 243,176). BMW brand registrations climbed to 233,660 units in the first eleven months of 2011(+9.0%/prev. yr. 214,389). A total of 22,491 new vehicles were registered in the month under review (+0.4%/prev. yr. 22.395). The MINI brand also reported strong growth in November with an increase of 23.0% to 3,214 vehicles (prev. yr. 2,612).

The U.S. also recorded positive sales growth. A total of 272,873 vehicles were sold in the year to the end of November – 14.6% more than the previous year (238,157). 26,271 vehicles were delivered to customers in the month under review (+14.8%/ prev. yr. 22,883).

The so-called BRIKT countries – Brazil (+49.0%/ 13,153), Russia (+38.8%/ 27,018), India (+62.6%/ 8,692), Korea (+44.0%/ 25,203) and Turkey (+59.7%/ 13,704) – reported high double-digit sales growth for the year to the end of November.

BMW Motorrad on record course: Already exceeded 2010 total sales.

In the year to the end of November, BMW Motorrad delivered 100,054 motorcycles (prev. yr. 94,283) worldwide – an increase of 6.1% and already 2,007 more than the total sales for 2010. BMW Motorrad delivered 6,112 motorcycles last month (prev. yr. 5,883 / +3.9%). With the expected December sales, BMW Motorcycle will reach its target for this year. With sales of over 103,000 motorcycles, the white and blue motorcycle brand will deliver more vehicles than ever before in its nearly 90-year-old history.

Husqvarna Motorcycles delivered 7,956 motorcycles in the first eleven months of 2011 (prev. yr. 10,266 / -22.5%). November accounted for 1,181 deliveries (prev. yr. 1,650 / -28.4%).

BMW Group sales in/up to November 2011 at a glance

  In Nov 2011 Comp. to prev. year Up to/incl. Nov 2011 Comp. to

prev. year

BMW Group Automobiles 138,978 +7.7% 1,510,862 +14.5%
BMW 115,124 +6.4% 1,252,205 +12.9%
MINI 23,534 +14.6% 255,595 +22.4%
BMW Motorrad 6,112 +3.9% 100,054 +6.1%
Husqvarna Motorcycles 1,181 -28.4% 7,956 -22.5%

 

 

Holden Barina 2012 Review

December 12th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Barina just got meaner. All poetic attempts aside, the new face of Holden’s Barina leads its sportier pretences, and it works. In our review of the previous Barina Spark we noted ‘brave and modern exterior design.’ Reading between the lines, this means that the design could have left some of you a tad cold, and to be honest, it did have a mish-mash of lines.

The meaner Barina, though, has no such trouble. The design is much more purposeful and coherent. From the new exposed angular headlights and creased flanks to the wheel arches that accentuate the tasteful alloys, the Barina has an attitude that moves it away from the feminine and into neutral territory. Yes, you can still drive this if you are female of any age, but it’s masculine enough, too.

The external design features rear door handles situated just behind the rear window. All doors open freely and getting in and out of the Barina is easy. Continue reading “Holden Barina 2012 Review” »

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