News: Mazda puts name on X-Factor

news-8-dec2Mazda New Zealand has signed a deal to partner with top-rating entertainment show The X-Factor for next year’s season.

Mazda will be an integral part of the show by contributing to the series winner’s prize package, providing a brand new car to drive away.

The winner will also receive a recording contract with Sony Music Entertainment New Zealand. Continue reading “Mazda puts name on X-Factor” »

News: Theft from cars down but commonsense still needed

The number of thefts from cars has dropped in the last decade but common sense is still needed by drivers says an automotive insurer.

More than one-third of Kiwis say they leave valuable possessions in their car that are vulnerable to opportunistic thieves, says an AA Insurance survey.

The 2014 AA Insurance Drivers Index, which interviewed 1,000 Kiwi drivers aged 18+ years online, found that 38% of respondents admitted they sometimes leave items such as laptops, iPods, GPS, bags or other valuables in their parked car. Continue reading “Theft from cars down but commonsense still needed” »

News: Intelligent safety systems now an aftermarket option

IDAS_Front_CC_RVEAdvances in safety systems have seen intelligent technologies added to new vehicles – such as lane departure warning and front collision warning.

A new system being launched by Retro Vehicle Enhancements – allows such technology to be added to all vehicles.

Such systems have been seen as such an improvement to safety that leading motoring bodies have been critical of vehicles launched without them. Continue reading “Intelligent safety systems now an aftermarket option” »

News: NZTA modernises crash analysis system

emergency_services_personnel_survey_the_scene_of_a_1358490156The New Zealand Transport Agency has selected Unisys to lead the modernisation of the national crash analysis system (CAS).

The new system will automate the input, sharing and analysis of critical data captured at road accident scenes to help identify patterns and hot spots.

Each year there are approximately 30,000 road crashes reported in New Zealand of which around 10,000 involve injuries. Continue reading “NZTA modernises crash analysis system” »

News: Subaru scores an ANCAP double-header


Subaru has added two more 5-star Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP) safety ratings to its line-up with both the Outback compact SUV and the Legacy joining the top ratings club.

ANCAP crash tested the 2015 Subaru Outback, the results of which also apply to the Legacy, which is built on the same platform.

The all-wheel-drive Outback compact SUV will be available for sale in New Zealand from February 2, 2015, and the all-wheel-drive Legacy sedan will launch here in April 2015. Continue reading “Subaru scores an ANCAP double-header” »

News: Official Cash Rate remains unchanged for now

featureThe Reserve Bank today left the Official Cash Rate unchanged at 3.5% but its says that further increases will be expected next year as inflationary pressures increase.

The New Zealand distributors of new light commercial and passenger vehicles, as well as the used car and light commercial vehicle importers can breathe a sigh of relief for now, thanks to interest rates remaining unchanged but the Reserve Bank warns that the Kiwi dollar is overvalued.

Despite the fall in dairy prices which are expected to recover in 2015, it says New Zealand’s economic growth is running at an annual rate of around 3½% thanks to the momentum of domestic demand and the ongoing growth in consumption and construction activity. Continue reading “Official Cash Rate remains unchanged for now” »

Honda: Honda: 2014 CRV Sport N

Honda CRV Sport 2014 front quarter

Sometimes it’s good to get a press vehicle with more than 20,000km on the clock because we journalists don’t exactly spare the horses and you can really tell what a real-world example would be like at 40,000km.

Honda CRV Sport 2014 badgeIn the case of the CRV, it faired very well. It still felt like a new car, but had loosened up nicely. Often we drive cars with less than a couple of thousand kilometres on the clock and they can feel a bit like they’re just warming up and would pull a muscle if all power and fury was available.

Not that much power and fury is available in the CRV. OK, there’s a bit of power, but it’s gentle and comforting rather than raucous and angry. There’s 140kW on tap at 7000rpm and that makes for confident overtaking power when you need it, but it’s not overkill. The N’s motor channels it through a 5-speed automatic gearbox with gear and grade logic (i.e. it detects when you are going Honda CRV Sport 2014 front seatsdownhill and holds it in a lower gear to avoid the speed creeping up). You can change gears yourself using the paddles on the steering wheel, too.

The quoted fuel economy is 8.7l/100km, presumably using the ECON drive assist mode, because I didn’t get near that.

The interior has Honda’s signature all over it. The only blot on the landscape are the slightly naff graphics in the satellite navigation. There are convenient phone-sized receptacles and cup holders between the front seat passengers, while the gearstick is half on the dashboard rather than directly above the transmission tunnel.

The instrument cluster is very clear – a big speedo in the middle that surrounds a trip computer on a small dot matrix screen. It’s not that modern, but it’s very functional. The rev counter, temperature gauge and fuel level play a supporting role one the sides.

The audio system connects to your phone and gives you multiple options for music sources – Bluetooth, radio, SD card, USB.

The seats are wide and comfortable. They won’t support your sideways momentum much if you start throwing the CRV around, but the CRV isn’t designed for rapid changes in direction. In the back there is an almost limousine level of legroom. The rear seats are the ‘one touch magic’ variety where you just need to pull a lever to have them fold down automatically. Check out this video:

This creates a very large loading area with a perfectly flat floor. The boot capacity is 556 litres with the rear seats up.

Honda CRV Sport 2014 rear quarterThere are 6 airbags and Honda’s version of electronic stability control (Vehicle Stability Assist) which brakes each wheel independently to prevent you from spinning. If you go for the Sport NT it adds driver assist aids such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist System and Collision Mitigation Braking System. It gets a 5-star ANCAP crash test rating.

Exterior design is best described as ‘safe’. There’s nothing offensive. It looks like an SUV without any particularly strong design cues. You could probably stick a different badge on the front and fool 90% of people. The front and side views are much better than the rear. It’s apparent when you do look at the rear from the outHonda CRV Sport 2014 sideside that the rear window has a small aperture and this becomes very apparent if you try to manoeuvre without using the reversing camera.

The CRV is four-wheel drive when it’s needed. In everyday driving there’s only power to the front wheels, but once they start to lose traction, power is transferred to the rear wheels and you get the benefit of additional security on slippery surfaces. Coupled with its 170mm ride height, you’ll find that you can get a little way off the road.

Honda has improved the CRV since the last model. There’s more power, better fuel economy, and some extra safety features (especially if you go for the NT). It’s a solid performer, but with stiff competition from the likes of the Mazda CX-5, it doesn’t stand apart from the crowd. If anything, it suffers from being a little bit anonymous. But if you have teenage kids (and teenagers seem to be extremely tall these days) they are going to really appreciate the large legroom in the back. There’s plenty of boot space, and the four-wheel drive gives you that bit of extra confidence on adventure excursions. But most of all, this CRV seems to have survived 20,000km of being a press runabout and demo car without any obvious signs of degradation, and that’s impressive in itself.

Price: $51,700


  • Large and comfortable, especially in the back


  • Seems a bit anonymous

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham


News: 85% would be inclined to buy an electric car if cost same


Most people would be willing to buy an electric car if they were the same price as a petrol one, according to a recent survey.

The Pulse “Energy for Life” survey found that if electric cars were more available at a reasonable price, the uptake in New Zealand could be as high as anywhere else in the world. These results may surprise auto makers as only 15% are saying they would not buy electric over petrol if equally priced.

This result is particularly noteworthy since New Zealanders seem unaware that electricity for transportation is cheaper than petrol. The majority hold the incorrect view, as 64% of respondents thought that electricity used in cars is the same or more expensive than petrol. Continue reading “85% would be inclined to buy an electric car if cost same” »