V40 to debut at Geneva Show

February 29th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Volvo Cars will reveal the all-new Volvo V40 at the Geneva Motor Show next week.

The all-new V40 is designed to take on the competition in the Premium Hatchback class with sharpened features and characteristics from larger Volvos wrapped in a sleek, compact package.

“The all-new V40 is the first new model that is fully developed according to our human-centric, Designed Around You strategy. Charged with an outstanding set of high-tech features it definitely will give our toughest competitors a headache,” says Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation.

Volvo, with the regular launch of striking new models, was the fastest growing luxury car brand in the world in 2011. The V40 is expected to continue that momentum as it comes on stream progressively from June. Its New Zealand launch is expected in the last quarter.

The V40 is a modern, expressive car with a Scandinavian luxury look and feel, a high-quality aura and meticulous attention to detail. The new, fully graphic instrument cluster with personalised layout and Continue reading “V40 to debut at Geneva Show” »

Holden Barina Sedan 2012 Review

February 29th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

We reviewed the hatchback Barina back in December, so what’s the big deal with the new sedan version? Well, the big deal is the voluminous boot. It’s large enough for you to take up a career as a mafia hitman and not bother driving to the woods between targets. In fact, at a whopping 502 litres, it’s bigger than a Commodore’s boot by six litres.

Despite its new-found booty, it’s manoeuvrable, and easy to judge the corners. I had a gig at Cornwall Park on a very sunny day and I managed to park the Barina in a space 12 inches longer than the car (if that), even without parking sensors. The omission of parking sensors is annoying, though. All cars should have them these days.

Quite often when you take a hatchback and stick on a boot the result looks like you’ve taken the cutest little Maltese cross and strapped a beer fridge to its backside. This isn’t the case with the Barina. Aside from looking a little blunt at the front end, the lines work really well, with the rear window segueing nicely into the boot lid. The strong crease in the flank and the line across the boot combine with the stubby nose to give a sense of forward motion when standing still. The naked headlights give the Barina a styling edge and the whole aura of the car has gone from a definitely Continue reading “Holden Barina Sedan 2012 Review” »

Production Commences on All-New Dedicated LPG Commodore

February 29th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Production commenced yesterday on the all-new dedicated LPG Commodore at Holden’s Vehicle Operations in Elizabeth, South Australia.

The new LPG system will be available in models across Commodore variants for New Zealand customers including Sedan, Sportwagon and Caprice.

Plant Launch Operations Manager, Tony Sylvester said the introduction of the new LPG Commodore to the plant required a number of operational and technical enhancements that were integrated into the build process to accommodate the new model and technology.

“A number of changes across the site were made with the introduction of this model including unique body panels, changes to the facia assemblies moulded in our Plastics operations and a completely new fuel system put into place in General Assembly,” he said.

Previously the LPG fitment of the dual fuel vehicles was completed off line however, the introduction of the dedicated LPG system now required the capability to fuel vehicles with LPG during the build process to enable the car to be driven off the end of the line.

Holden has taken an innovative approach to overcome the cost and complexity of adding an additional fuel line into the plant. Holden Engineers have worked with the tank supplier to come up with the solution of providing pre-fuelled tanks which are then installed as part of the build process on the Chassis Line.

“By having the LPG tanks pre-fuelled when supplied has eliminated the need to install an LPG fuel line in the plant resulting in reduced costs for the program, increased productivity and has ensured that the introduction of the new model into the plant is smooth as possible,” Mr Sylvester said.

Holden’s Ecoline was launched in 2008 in order to create better fuel efficiencies for today and next generation fuel advances for tomorrow that are not only better for the environment and affordable for the typical family but also to provide greater options from the Holden brand.

Four years later, Holden’s philosophy has not changed and the all-new dedicated LPG system perfectly epitomises the future-friendly strategy.

The dedicated LPG fuel system joins the line-up of Ecoline badged models currently produced at the Elizabeth plant that includes E85 capability across all Commodore and Caprice models, Spark Ignition Direct Injection (SIDI) on V6 models, Active Fuel Management (AFM) on automatic V8 models and a 2.0-litre diesel offering for the Cruze sedan and hatch.

“Whether it is performance, economy or size as the main driver for the customer’s purchase we have the flexibility and skill at our South Australian facility to build a variety of combinations to meet their needs,” Mr Sylvester said.

New Zealand technology company, Propane Performance Industries, has been working closely with Holden over the past two years to prepare for the launch of LPG Commodore and CEO Andrew Rodwell said it has been an exciting time.

“We have developed a great working relationship with Holden and we feel proud to have been a part of this incredible innovation and being able to provide our services to such an iconic car company,” Mr Rodwell said.

The introduction of the dedicated LPG Commodore is the latest model launch for Holden Vehicle Operations that in the last 12 months has seen the launch of the locally made Cruze sedan and hatch line-up, model year enhancements to the Commodore and the introduction of the Chevrolet Police car program.

The all-new dedicated LPG range will be available in dealerships from next month.

BRZ to debut in Japan’s GT series

February 28th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Subaru’s BRZ GT300 has undergone successful testing in preparation for its debut in Japan’s Super GT series which starts in May.

Running in just 4 degrees centigrade temperatures at the Fuji Speedway, the shakedown of the all new sports coupe which will compete in the GT300 class for cars with less than 300 horsepower was a success.

The BRZ GT 300 has been developed to take advantage of SUBARU’s characteristically low centre of gravity.

“The development and engineering capabilities of SUBARU / STI have created a wonderful car,” said R&D SPORT Team Director Shinji Motojima.

“The regulations have changed a little for this year to allow for a larger restrictor diameter. So, I expect races with faster top speeds. This year’s challenge for the 2-litre turbo BRZ is how competitive it can be against cars with larger displacements on the straights.”

Motojima said he expected the BRZ to have the advantage in cornering and braking performance.

Tetsuya Yamano, one of the drivers said he was aiming for podium places at four tracks in particular – SUGO, Motegi, Suzuka, and Autopolis – where the BRZ’s handling was expected to provide an edge.

He will share the driving duties with Kouta Sasaki, his team-mate from 2011.

“The car certainly looks cool, so our mission is to match speed with the appearance,” said Sasaki.

Behind the Scenes of Kia Concept Cars

February 28th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Ever wondered what it takes to create those concept cars that wow the motoring public at international car shows?

Wonder no more. Kia Motors has lifted the veil of secrecy by letting cameras behind the scenes to view how it turned a few fanciful sketches into its latest creation, the Kia Track’ster, which was shown off at the recent Chicago Auto Show.

The Kia Motors Design Studio in California agreed to let US motoring magazine Motor Trend film the 9-month process for its new internet venture, the Motor Trend Channel, shown on YouTube.

The Track’ster, which is based on the Kia Soul, garnered rave reviews at the Chicago event and hinted at the future direction Kia designers might take with the stylish crossover.

In a segment on Motor Trend Channel called The Downshift, which looks behind the scenes of the industry, the process of creating the Track’ster takes viewers back nine months before the Chicago unveiling. It starts at the Kia Motors design headquarters at Irvine, where all team members present ideas for future concept cars in the form of a colourful movie-style poster. The Track’ster stood out as the best idea, with its designers saying it was inspired by motor racing and, interestingly, details taken from snow ski boots and goggles!

From there, detailed sketches of the proposed concept car were finalised and then a 1/4 scale model created to give designers their first view of how their creation would appear in 3-D. The surface data of that model was scanned into a 5-axis milling machine that created a full-sized clay model of the Track’ster laid over a steel skeleton, which the designers could then hone by hand. The model was then scanned to computer and the details sent to specialist vehicle shop Aria Group to turn into the real thing, using an actual Soul, stripped back, as the base of the concept.

Individual components, such as the racing-style dashboard and the tool boxes and spare wheel well built into the rear of the car, were fabricated and laid out for the design team to inspect, before being fitted to the modified frame of the Soul.

Then it was painted, assembled and upholstered, and transported back to Irvine for the final sign-off and delivery to the auto show, where the stunning 3-door, 250-horsepower hatchback gained everyone else’s approval.

Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand, says the four-and-a-half minute video reveals a fascinating insight into the design process at Kia Motors and highlights the continuing evolution of the Kia brand.

“Kia, as a brand, has become synonymous with leading design and that really comes across in this footage, whilst demonstrating the meticulous process in creating a concept car,” he adds.

The footage, entitled ‘How To Build A Concept Car’ can be viewed at YouTube, by entering Motor Trend and The Downshift Episode 3 in the search box.

The Peugeot 208 GTi Concept – Return of an Iconic Legend

February 28th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Peugeot will present two expressions of the Marque’s upmarket trend in the supermini segment. These concept cars interpret the generation leap already defined by the 208 but in different contexts. The XY Concept is intended for city dwellers who love distinction and refinement, whereas the GTi Concept re-generates an iconic legend.

The LED headlamp design gives these concept cars the impression of having an iris. The rectangular headlamp units, when used on main beam, appear to have a ‘feline pupil’ … a technological and precise expression that is fully identifiable with the lion Marque.

This precision continues with the integrated style components adorning the bodywork. Wheel arches have wing extensions, and bodywork with sills enhance the stance.

GTi Concept: The re-generation of a legendary icon

Instantly characterised by being the performance icon of the 208, the 208 GTi concept features chequered-flag motifs that embellish the metal mesh of the grille, and the lower bar proudly affirms its origin by displaying the French ‘Le Tricolour’ flag or the Union Jack when in the UK.

Other distinctive exterior features include: double chromed exhaust tailpipes, aero lower bodywork spoilers and lower sill skirt extensions that all capture the signature badging. Placed within the grille is the brushed aluminium GTi Concept logo that can also be found on the rear quarter panels, as a salute to its illustrious predecessor – the legendary 205 GTi.

On the inside, the passenger compartment is a true GTi environment, with a characteristic sports leather stitched steering wheel, the treatment of which is replicated on the sides of the gear lever, double stitching in the seats and enhanced with LED backlighting to the surrounds of the high-tech instruments. The sports seats are trimmed with Nappa leather on the outer section, and cloth in the centre with an embossed tartan motif, and a leather head restraint.

The red perforated leather steering wheel continues the check motif, and has a pronounced lower flat section, which carries the GTi Concept logo set in an aluminium ring. To complete the sports interior, the fascia capping is dressed in Alcantara with grey stitching, the roof lining is entirely black and the pedals are aluminium. The centre console architecture and ventilation vents all feature a graduated red to black effect, and the chequered-flag theme is also present on the aluminium door crossbars.

The GTi Concept takes its propulsion from the powerfully-compact RCZ THP 200 engine. Combined with a six-speed manual gearbox, the 1.6-litre THP engine puts its driver at the controls of a machine that captivates the potential for a great driving experience. Like all 208s, a small steering wheel greets the driver and with the GTi Concept, this accentuates the dynamic capability of this car with the enhanced power available. With the raised instrument panel in line of sight, the information is clearly visible from the dials that have a brushed aluminium background and very precise graduations.

The GTi Concept also benefits from the improvements that characterize the 208, taking full advantage of its compactness and lightness, delivering road-holding that is both excellent and precise. To enhance the dynamic experience, it has a 36mm wider track, at the front and at the rear, and a rear roof spoiler to generate down force at speed. For optimum braking performance, the GTi Concept is equipped with four discs; 302mm diameter at the front and 249mm at the rear, set off by red-painted brake calipers.

XY Concept: Urban chic

Powered by a 1.6-litre e-HDi engine, developing 86kW and equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox the XY Concept transports its occupants in a refined environment, with a Crimson colour treatment applied to exterior bodywork and the decorated interior.

Special ‘Pulsion’ paintwork means the XY Concept appears to constantly change, depending on the distance and the position from which it is viewed. This ability to transform is the result of an exclusive method, based on the very precise application of sixteen coats of paint and lacquer.

The passenger compartment is trimmed with crimson stitched leather on the dashboard, armrests, steering wheel rings, gear lever gaiter and sides, and with stripes on seat inserts and floor mats, while the panoramic glass roof is edge-trimmed in black leather.

Pearly grey leather pleated seats feature five metal rings, which pinch and tighten the material. This precision in the working of the material continues with an exclusive steering wheel in leather, with crimson micro-stripes with a chrome insert in the lower section. Bathed in the natural light provided by the panoramic glass roof, with white ambiance lighting, the finishing touches to the interior add a ‘gunmetal’ aesthetic treatment to the door crossbars, steering wheel decorations and vent trims.

The XY Concept rides on exclusive dual-effect 18” allow wheels complementing its ‘Pulsion’ colour and special detailing with coloured chrome decorating the panoramic glass roof trim. The lower window edge and the quarter panel are finished off with a special grille treatment with three horizontal chrome bars.

The new 208 will be launching in New Zealand in September 2012 and we are in discussions now with the factory about securing the stunning New 208 GTi for production and expect to see a vehicle for sale in NZ in early 2013. We understand the first 208 GTI concept vehicle will be unveiled to the public at the Geneva Motorshow next month.

Expectations are that this New 208 GTi will more than deliver on meeting the high benchmarks set by its predecessors the 205, 206 and 207 GTi and will again become the benchmark for stylish performance hot hatches. In fact, the news has us wondering if Peugeot will rekindle its interest in the WRC rounds.

Iconic RX-8 Limited Edition SPIRIT R in NZ

February 28th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Mazda has announced that the RX-8 ‘SPIRIT R’ Special Edition is now available in New Zealand.

In advance of Mazda RX-8 production ending in June 2012, SPIRIT R will be the final special edition model, offering a striking commemoration for Mazda’s iconic four door, four seater rotary engine sports car.

SPIRIT R is named after the final limited edition Mazda RX-7 and this pedigree is reflected in stylish features that include an exclusive Recaro seat design and custom 19-inch alloy wheels.

The Mazda RX-8 SPIRIT R has a 6-speed manual transmission with exclusive features such as Bilstein sports suspension, distinctive red front and rear brake callipers.

Exterior features include 225/40 R19 89W tyres and 19-inch alloy wheels finished in stunning bronze with black centre cap. Front, side and rear spoilers improve aerodynamics and add street appeal. Black bezels within front and rear combination lamps and front fog lamps bring the race car to the fore and a SPIRIT R badge on C-pillar seals it in the Mazda history books.

The SPIRIT R is a sports car that means business with custom designed interior fittings. Distinctive SPIRIT R Recaro bucket seats are trimmed with black and red leather for effect. In addition, contrast red stitching on the steering wheel, gear shift, parking brake and door trim, set this RX-8 apart from the rest.

The limited edition RX-8 is available in three exterior colour options, Aluminium Metallic, Sparkling Black Mica and Crystal White Pearl Mica.

This vehicle is available in very limited numbers and for the same price as the standard model at $56,695 plus on-road costs. Every new RX-8 Spirit R comes with mazdacare as standard, including 3-years/100,000km (whichever occurs first) Mazda Scheduled Servicing, 3-years unlimited kilometre Mazda Factory Warranty and Mazda On Call Roadside Assistance.

Low Voltage Disconnect Ideal For Auxiliary Batteries

February 24th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Projecta released two low voltage disconnect (LVD) units for fitment to auxiliary batteries, which are now available in New Zealand.

Providing the ideal solution for protecting expensive deep cycle batteries from excessive discharging, the units automatically disconnect the load when the LVD when the voltage has dropped to the disconnection point. When deep cycle batteries run down to very low power levels they can be difficult to re-charge without professional equipment and it may also reduce their serviceable life.

The 12V 30A Low Voltage Disconnect is ideal for 4WD vehicles, camper trailers and smaller caravan applications whilst the 12V 50A model is designed for larger caravans and motorhomes. They are also suited to marine use.

The voltage detection on these new units is fully adjustable to best suit the application and multi-coloured L.E.D’s provide a clear indication of the connection status.

Both the 30A and 50A units have potted electronics to prevent the ingress of water and dust, are compact in size and each comes complete with robust mounting points built into the housing.

The Projecta Low Voltage Disconnect units are available from leading automotive accessory and caravan/motor home outlets throughout New Zealand under part numbers LVD30 and LVD50.

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