News: Vauxhall introduces new technology for mid-price cars


Vauxhall has introduced a dual-function camera that not only reads speed limit and no-overtaking signs and displays them on the instrument panel, but also alerts drivers when they unintentionally veer out of their lane. Known as Traffic Sign Recognition and Lane Departure Warning, the two systems improve driving safety, reduce stress and can even prevent costly speeding tickets.

“These new features follow Vauxhall’s philosophy of enhancing driving excitement by assisting drivers without reducing their level of control,” explains Hans Demant, Managing Director of GME Engineering. “That means the system gives drivers information, but it doesn’t intervene.”

Known as the Front Camera System, the wide-angled, high-resolution camera and processors were jointly developed by Vauxhall/Opel engineers and specialists from supplier Hella. The camera, located between the windscreen and the rear-view mirror, detects road signs and lane markings. It’s not much bigger than a mobile phone, yet can take 30 pictures per second. Two signal processors filter and read the photos.

Depending on light conditions, the Traffic Sign Recognition function begins to repeatedly read signs at 100 metres. It starts by focusing on circular patterns then identifies the numbers inside them via contour comparison. When a match is found in the car’s software, the sign is displayed in the instrument panel; it will even prioritise a no-overtaking sign over a speed limit warning sign.

When the Lane Departure Warning function is turned on, it uses a second signal processor and software to read traffic lanes and record a driver’s normal lane-changing behaviour, taking into account steering input and indicator usage. If any deviation is detected, an audible and visual warning is sent from the instrument panel, preventing hazardous situations, such as a driver falling asleep at the wheel.

The Front Camera System, featuring Traffic Sign Recognition and Lane Departure Warning will be available as an option on the new Insignia, with other Vauxhall models benefiting from the system in future.

Blogs: Knee-jerk reaction over ‘big’ cars

I’m sure in certain areas it’s highly fashionable to have a small car. It’s for ‘the environment’. But it doesn’t seem like it in Herne Bay/Ponsonby, where I drive through every day, dodging the mothers in their big M-Class Mercs and Range Rovers. The newspapers are awash, though, with people trading down their big cars for smaller, more economic machines, which is blatantly ridiculous. The well-to-do already know this, which is part of the reason they have cash.

A basic understanding of economics would say that if you have to sell out of your perfectly good large car and take a $5000 bath, then have to buy a possibly inferior small car just to save $20/week, that it’s going to be a long time and a lot of dissatisfied motoring later before you’ll have paid it back.

Everyone’s trying to sell big cars right now. Dealers won’t trade some of them in, or if they will, they’re offering next to nothing for them. People are predicting the death of the muscle car. GM is thinking of selling off Hummer!

Now, when the masses are stampeding in one direction, the smart money heads in the other. Hummer will most likely be sold to the financially astute Indians – the Amercans ceding control of another valued brand overseas. Hummer will grow once the oil speculators are neutralised and the price returns to sensible levels.

Others will buy one of Holden’s new W427 7-litre hyper muscle cars and sit on it for 20 years until it’s worth a couple of million.

Just like housing is going through the bursting of a bubble, oil’s bubble will burst. But, before then, people will adjust their expectation of what is an acceptable price of fuel. The psychological barrier of the $100 fill will be broken and will become the norm. People will start buying large cars again, just like they do in every other country. I will still have to dodge the large four-wheel drives dropping off kids in Herne Bay and Ponsonby

Mazda: Mazda6 Limited 2008 — Road Test

Mazda Mazda6 my08 fq

I knew I’d have the Mazda6 on my birthday for a couple of months prior. My choice of birthday car wouldn’t usually be a mid-sized, 2.5-litre, four-cylinder hatchback with a reputation as a rep-mobile. No, I want something with tyres like steamrollers, an engine that makes old ladies want to stay indoors and wag their finger at the youth of today, and acceleration like being flung from a trebuchet.

But, while I’ve got older and started to notice that my body is in a state of mild decay, Mazda’s second-generation ‘6 has got quite a bit better. The problem for its competitors is that the first-generation was very good; almost too easy to drive, with sure-footed handling, adequate power, stylish looks and the sense that you knew exactly what it was doing on the road. This new Mazda6 is brilliant¦with one caveat: the automatic gearbox doesn’t do it justice. But, hell, I’ve got the manual Limited hatchback, and my left arm is primed for the slick shifting six-speed ‘box.

The destination was Rotorua. A quick jaunt from Auckland across to the sulphurous and smelly geothermal paradise to soothe my aging bones in the hot springs, have some time away from the computer, and spend some quality time with my other half (who is adamant she comes second to the computer during the week).

Our hotel overlooked the Whakarewarewa thermal area and the famous Pohutu Geyser. Even in the drizzling windy conditions hordes of Japanese tourists clamoured to establish the best tripod positions in front of the bubbling mud pools. A steaming, squelching mud pool with its concentric-ringed vents and conical mud volcanoes perfectly represents the first of Mazda’s Japanese three design motifs it applied to the new Mazda6: yugen (ethereality that is reminiscent of the gracefulness of nature). The other two are rin (dignity of form that communicates calm determination and strength) and seichi (exquisiteness expressed through precise craftsmanship and quality).

Despite all the nature-inspired flowing lines the car manages to be both bolder and more aggressive with its flared wheel arches and angular swept-up shoulder line. Riding on the same 18-inch alloys that the CX-7 wears, it is slightly longer, wider and taller than its predecessor, and has a 50mm longer wheelbase for improved interior room, and driving stability.

Design improvements flow through to the interior where sporty dials complement the leather seats. There’s the real sense that everything is screwed together carefully. It’s also quieter. Mazda quotes a 3dB reduction, down to 35DbA, with less vibration as well.

Driving dynamics are improved over the previous version. Performance is 0.9 seconds faster to 100kph (8.0 seconds), fuel economy has improved to 8.6l/100km, there’s 125kW and 226Nm on tap (3kW and 19Nm more), and it’s the best part of $2,000 cheaper than the equivalent predecessor.

Dynamic stability control, six airbags, ABS, electronic brake assist and active head restraints join a significant reengineering of the Mazda6’s cockpit to improve safety and rigidity (which is improved by 45%).

Because most new cars nowadays are pretty good, it can often come down to the minor imperfections in a car — what are the things that will really annoy you. I’ll assume that the vast majority won’t care that the automatic version loses a bit of the edge — it’s still a good car — and the only thing I can find that’s annoying about the Mazda is that there are no reversing sensors, something I would expect any car in this price bracket to have.

We don’t get the Honda Accord Euro until the end of next week, so I can’t claim that total domination in the segment belongs to Mazda. However, it is better dynamically than the Mondeo — its principal rival produced by part-owner Ford.

You can’t go to Rotorua without doing some extreme sports, and despite the hot pools both of our bodies felt decidedly second-hand at the end of the weekend. We drove back to Auckland in the pouring rain, looking up at the bleak sky through the power sunroof, being thankful that leather seats are comfortable, and the driving position excellent.

Reflecting on my time with the Mazda6 I came to realise that perhaps it was the perfect car for a birthday trip. Passenger comfort and space is top class; it’s quiet and economical on long journeys; and the specification is good for the price, with dual climate control, chunky-sounding 6-disc 240W Bose stereo with auxiliary input, electric leather seats, and cruise control. Unlike Rotorua, there’s nothing really stinky about the Mazda6.

Click through to the next page to read the full specifications of the complete Mazda6 range.

Price: from $46,695

What we like

  • Great styling
  • Good Bose stereo
  • Quiet and composed
  • Relatively frugal for a 2.5-litre engine
  • Manual gearbox is fantastic
  • Cheaper than its predecessor

What we don’t like

  • If you must buy the auto ‘box, you’ll find performance is dulled
  • No reversing sensors

Features & Specifications

Overall Length mm 4,755 4,755 4,785
Overall Width mm 1,795 1,795 1,795
Overall Height mm 1,440 1,440 1,490
Overhang — Front/Rear mm 980/1,050 980/1,050 980,1080
Wheelbase mm 2,725 2,725 2,725
Track — Front/Rear mm 1,570/1,570 1,550/1,550 1,570/1,570
Ground Clearance — laden mm 122 122 122
Cargo Volume — rear seats in use (VDA) L 519 510 519
Transmission Availability 6MT/ 5PS. EAT 5SP. EAT 5SP. EAT 5SP. EAT 6MT/ 5SP. EAT 6MT/ 5SP. EAT 5SP. EAT
Engine Type MZR I4 DOHC 16-valve MZR I4 DOHC 16-valve MZR I4 DOHC 16-valve
Displacement cc 1,998 2,488 2,488 1,999 2,488
Fuel Tank Capacity L 64 64 64
Recommended Minimum Fuel Type 91RON 95RON 95RON 91RON 95RON
Fuel Economy — EC Combined (MT/SP.EAT) L/100km 7.7/8.2 -/8.7 -/8.8 -/8.8 7.8/8.5 -/8.9
Emission Standard — Target Euro 4 Euro 4 Euro 4
Emission Output — CO2 Value (MT/SP.EAT) g/km 182/194 206 206 208 208 185/201 211
Maximum Power kW/rpm 108/6,500 125/6,000 125/6,000 108/6,500 125/6,000
Maximum Torque Nm/rpm 184/4,000 226/4,000 226/4,000 184/4,000 226/4,000
Suspension Type – Front/Rear Double Wishbone/ Multi Link Double Wishbone/ Multi Link Double Wishbone/ Multi Link
Brake Type – Front/Rear Ventilated Disc/Solid Disc Ventilated Disc/Solid Disc Ventilated Disc/ Solid Disc
Brake Diameter — Front/Rear mm 299/280 299/280 299/280
Gear Ratios — MT/SP.EAT 1st 3.454/ 3.620 -/3.620 -/3.620 3.454/ 3.620 -/3.620
2nd 1.842/ 1.925 -/1.925 -/1.925 1.842/ 1.925 -/1.925
3rd 1.310/ 1.285 -/1.285 -/1.285 1.310/ 1.285 -/1.285
4th 0.970/ 0.933 -/0.933 -/0.933 0.970/ 0.933 -/0.933
5th 0.795/ 0.692 -/0.692 -/0.692 0.795/ 0.692 -/0.692
6th 0.717/- - - 0.717/- -
Reverse 3.198/ 3.405 -/3.405 -/3.405 3.198/ 3.405 -/3.405
Final 4.388/ 3.863 -/3.863 -/3.863 4.388/ 3.863 -/3.863


Wheel Size 16x6J 17x7J 18×7.5J 17x7J 18×7.5J 16x6J 17x7J
Tyre Size 205/ 60R16 215/ 50R17 225/ 45R18 215/ 50R17 225/ 45R18 205/ 60R16 215/ 50R17
Full Size Spare Wheel Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Front Fog Lamps - Y Y Y Y - Y
Fixed Intermittent Wipers Y - - - - Y -
Variable Adjustable Wipers - Y Y Y Y - Y
Auto Rain Sensing Front Wipers - - Y - Y - -
Auto On/Off Headlamps - - Y - Y - -
Electronic Sunroof - - Y - Y - -
Dual Exhaust with Chrome Extensions Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Sports Appearance Package (Front and Rear Sports Bumpers, Side Skirts, Rear Spoiler) - - Y - Y - -
Body Coloured Exterior Mirrors Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Body Coloured Exterior Door Handles Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Rear Window Print Antenna Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Power Windows — Front/Rear Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Power Mirrors Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Cruise Control Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Manual Air Conditioning Y - - - - Y -
Front Dual Zone Climate Control - Y Y Y Y - Y
Driver Seat Adjust — Slide/Lift/Recline Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Passenger Seat Adjust — Slide/Lift/Recline Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
8-way Powered Driver Seat Adjust - - Y - Y - -
Adjustable Headrests — All Seats Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
MP3-compatible CD Audio Y - - - - Y -
MP3-compatible 6CD Audio - Y Y Y Y - Y
Premium BOSE audio system - - Y - Y - -
Number of Speakers 4 6 8 6 8 4 6
AUX audio connector for MP3 players Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Remote Audio Control - Y Y Y Y - Y
Trip Computer with Speed Alert Warning - Y Y Y Y - Y
Keyless Entry with Retractable Key Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Immobiliser Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Leather Steering Wheel - Y Y Y Y - Y
Cloth Seat Trim Y Y - Y - Y Y
Leather Seat Trim - - Y - Y - -
Tilt and Telescopic Steering Wheel Adjust Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Sunvisor with Vanity Mirror Y - - - - Y -
Sunvisor with Illuminated Vanity Mirror - Y Y Y Y - Y
Lined, Lockable Glove Box Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Illuminated Entry Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
60:40 Rear Seat Split Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Karakuri Seat Release - - - Y Y Y Y
Tonneau Cover - - - Y Y Y Y
Cargo Net - - - - - Y Y
Roof Rails - - - - - Y Y
Roof Moulding for Rails/Carrier Y Y Y Y Y - -
Rear Roof Spoiler - - - - - Y Y
4-Wheel ABS with EBD and EBA Y Y Y
Dynamic Stability Control Limited Models Limited Models Limited Models
Front, Side & Curtain SRS Airbags Y Y Y
3-point Seatbelts — Front/Rear Y Y Y
Front Pretensioners and Load Limiters Y Y Y
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchors Y Y Y
Seatbelt Warning System — Front/Rear Y Y Y
High Mount Stop Lamp Y Y Y
Collapsible Brake Pedal Y Y Y
Mazda Genuine Scheduled Servicing (3 years/100,000km) Y Y Y
Mazda Genuine Factory Warranty (3 years, unlimited kilometres) Y Y Y
Mazda On Call Roadside Assistance (3 years, unlimited kilometres) Y Y Y

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

Mini: MINI Cooper Clubman 2008 Review

Mini Clubman Cooper fq 2

The new MINI Cooper Clubman sits outside the Car and SUV offices proudly showing off a stylized two-tone rump with double cargo doors. It’s a very different rear end to the regular MINI. In fact there hasn’t been a rear end since Jennifer Lopez’ that has caused so much talk around this office. However unlike J-Lo’s universally praised study in design excellence, opinion is still divided about the MINI Clubman’s bum.

I believe that you either get the ‘booty’ concept or you don’t. Personally when I first saw photos of the Clubman, I wasn’t taken with the styling, but seeing one in the flesh has made me reconsider to the point that now I think it looks alright. I can imagine the hotter Cooper S Clubman with a loud exhaust and big wheels making speedy deliveries through tight city streets. Awesome.

The interior is a strong point for all MINIs and this one is a nice place to be with a quality feel that seems to pervade all BMW stuff. The leather seats look sporty and are comfortable while the adjustable steering wheel provides a sporty, low driving position. Even the backseat is ok for 180cm+ people, which is partly why BMW decided to stretch this MINI.

The collection of circles that make up the interior is very cool while the ‘mood lighting’ control is interesting as you can change the colour of the lights on the interior door handles and next to the rear view mirror. The interior door handles hinge to the side and you have to pull them backward which is a bit awkward.

‘Funky’ is the adjective used by most who saw the Clubman, though some who saw the ‘Incredibly Mini’ tag on the number plate suggested a less flattering adjective to follow ‘Incredibly’.

We tried the cooking model Cooper Clubman with an 88kw engine and 6-speed automatic transmission.

The engine while feeling a bit lethargic, sounded rorty and really liked to rev and of course we let it. The engine note even sounds a little similar to the original Mini, with a hint of Ford Escort BDA rally car thrown in.

MINI quotes figures of 5.3 and 9.4 l/100km for highway and city driving respectively for the auto though we couldn’t verify this as there’s no trip computer.

The handling hasn’t been affected by the increased length in the Clubman (24cm) and it is still as chuck-able and secure as a regular MINI. It craves curves and rewards the driver with sublime composure on all but the most rutted roads where mid-corner bumps can produce a hint of understeer. The darty front end does give the feel of a big go-kart and grip through 205/45/17 tyres is impressive. Brakes are very good and pull the Clubman up well. Just make sure any loads are secure!

The Clubman definitely still has that sporting MINI DNA and is an absolute hoot to drive on twisty roads. It would be great to try the faster Cooper S Clubman with a manual gearbox.

Less inspiring is the 6-speed automatic transmission which around town with the auto in ‘Drive’ likes to go directly to 6th gear. This combined with the lack of fireworks under the bonnet means it needs to be revved to keep up with traffic. If you flick the gear level to the left to activate ‘sports mode’ things get much better. Paddles behind the steering wheel make for much more effective and satisfying progress although how they work can be a little confusing at first in that left and right do the same thing. Thumb the top of the paddle forward to change down, and pull back to go up. Once you get used to this, though, it is very easy to use — more intuitive in fact than having one paddle for up and one for down – and although the changes aren’t Ferrari-fast they do the job.

The MINI Clubman is different to the regular MINI as it is heavier and a little longer to add backseat space. The ‘Clubman door’ is an interesting concept that, like the Mazda RX-8, swings out after the front door is opened to help rear seat passengers enter and the driver to stash gear in the back. Why it is only on the drivers side I’m not sure, as I wouldn’t use it to let passengers out the drivers side for safety reasons. It seems that it would be better to have the door on both sides.

The double doors at the back are the main feature of the Clubman and are the main criticism of those concerned with the Clubman’s aesthetics. As a functional idea they are good but the space in the boot is ‘handy’ rather than huge. The doors also limit rearward visibility but this is something that you get used to.

It is a great handling car, fantastic fun to drive, easy to park and has a funky interior.
So it all boils down to whether the look of the Clubman appeals to you or not. Like I said at the beginning, you either get the ‘booty’ concept or you don’t.

Price: From $40,900

What we like

  • Rorty engine
  • Great handling
  • Quality interior
  • Sporty driving position

What we don’t like

  • Mood lighting was distracting
  • Standard automatic mode
  • Long list of options can make it expensive
  • Love it/hate it styling

MINI Cooper Clubman

From: Manual $40,900

Automatic $43,900


Type (cylinders / valves) In line / 4

Effective Displacement (cm3) 1598

Power output kW (hp) 88 (120) at (rpm) 6000

Max. torque (Nm) @ rpm 160 / 4250

C02 emission -EU (auto) 163 (143)

Exhaust emissions classification (auto) EU4


Drag coefficient (Cd) 0,34

0-100 km/ h (sec), (auto) (9,8)10,9

Maximum speed in km/h, (auto) 201(195)

Fuel consumption

EU, in town Litres/100km  (Auto) 8,1(9,4)

EU, out of town Litres/100km (Auto) 4,8 (5,3)

Fuel consumption / Range (ltr /100km / km) 6,8 / 590

Technology & Information

3-way catalytic convertor fully controlled, heated lambda sensors

Cornering Brake Control

Power steering, electronic speed related

Manual 6-speed transmission

Dimensions – MINI in Millimetres

Length (mm) 3937

Width (mm) 1683

Height (mm) 1426

Luggage capacities (m3) 0,260 – 0,930 0

Fuel capacity (litres) 40

Safety & Vehicle Protection Features

Electronic vehicle immobilization (EWS IV)

3rd Headrest in rear

Runflat indicator with passive monitoring of all 4 wheels with status indicator light

Crash sensor, to activate hazard warning lights and interior lighting and to unlock doors

Follow me home function

Airbags for driver and front passenger, 6 airbags as standard; 2 front, 2 side and 2 curtain airbags

Electronic Braking Force Distribution control

Pyrotechnic belt buckle tensioners, for automatic belts front

Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)

Sports suspension settings

Emergency spare wheel (3 1/2J x 15 tyres (deletion of MINI Mobility system)

Alarm system; for monitoring doors, engine-compartment lid and tailgate, including interior- movement sensor, tilt sensor and siren with emergency power supply

Warning triangle with first-aid kit

Park distance control rear (PDC)

Fog lights integrated into the front bumper

Front passenger airbag deactivation

MINI tlc ( 5 Year / 80,000 kilometre Scheduled Servicing)

Words Ben Dillon, photographs Darren Cottingham

News: Jaguar X-Type diesel coming to New Zealand


Jaguar’s entry level model gets a fresh new look for 2008, along with a host of new features inside and outside the vehicle. With significant revisions including nearly 500 new components, the new generation X-Type retains all the original car’s strengths, and adds some new ones of its own for $64,990.

A torquey diesel engine mated to a six speed automatic transmission is the highlight of the revised Jaguar X-Type range.

“The X-Type 2.2D provides Kiwis with an alternative prestige car with all the benefits of the latest diesel technology,” said Wallis Dumper, the Managing Director of Motorcorp Distributors, the New Zealand distributor for Jaguar.

“It’s a great alternative to a Japanese or Australian executive car,” said Mr Dumper. “And it offers tremendous value for money at thousands less than the cheapest equivalent diesel engined German luxury car.”

For the first time in New Zealand, the new X-Type offers diesel economy and power – pairing a 2.2 litre diesel with a six-speed automatic, and the one-touch control of Jaguar Sequential Shift – broadening the new model’s appeal to buyers. The new X-Type automatic diesel combines high levels of refinement with optimised performance and economy, and even greater luxury.

With 366 Nm of torque, the X-Type diesel has more pulling power than any other model in the X-Type range. And with it coming as low as 1800 rpm, the torque is available for every day driving situations.

The 2.2 litre diesel is paired with a new six-speed automatic gearbox, which has the added attraction of ‘one-touch control’ Jaguar Sequential Shift, for manual gear changes.

The six gear ratios are chosen to deliver refined cruising while maintaining sporty performance – the balance that Jaguar research shows an X-Type owner wants. The diesel automatic can achieve maximum torque in all six gears, utilising optimum gear change points to ensure best use of the available torque. In the new X-Type, the 2.2D automatic can accelerate to 100kph in 9.9 seconds, and has a maximum speed of 208km/h, a combined economy of 6.9 itres/100km (41 mpg), and a CO2 rating of 184g/km with the aid of a particulate filter.

The low revs torque flattens hills on the open road and provides instantaneous throttle response for safe over taking manoeuvres.

The standard sports suspension anchors the X-Type to the road while still providing the fluid ride that all Jaguars are known for. And the variable ratio power steering provides good feedback at all road speeds.

The new X-Type also introduces significantly upgraded electronic features, from improved Bluetooth® connectivity to ‘Generation 5′ parking aids, uses new technology that allows the sensors to be smaller, neater and body coloured.

The new X-Type announces its arrival with a fresh new look that reflects Jaguar’s new design language. The frontal styling introduces a new ’3D’ bright mesh grille, with a bold frame and body coloured outer surround that echoes the design themes of both the XJ and XF. And the new X-TYPE is proud of its Jaguar identity, with a new Jaguar ‘growler’ emblem prominently mounted within the mesh grille.

In profile, new sill shapes connect the re-styled front and rear bumpers and visually lower the new X-Type’s centre of gravity, giving it a more purposeful, sporting stance. There is a subtle body-coloured rear boot-lid spoiler.

The new door mirrors offer maximum functionality, including power fold back. They also include integrated side repeaters – again, a feature common to the new XJ and XF. The new X-Type introduces a new 18 inch five-spoke alloy wheel the Abaco – while the exterior colour palette is available in the new Ultimate Black, along with Liquid Silver, Shadow Grey and Indigo Blue.

There are front fog lights, automatic headlights and rain sensing windscreen wipers.

A sporty interior trim includes soft grain leather, usually reserved for the Jaguar hero models such as the XJR and XF SV8, with twin-needle diamond stitching for the centre cushions, in Warm Charcoal leather with Stone stitching. The seats have ten-way adjustment with driver’s seat memory function, and the luxurious diamond-stitching pattern repeated in the matched door trims.

The instrument cluster has a sportier look – similar to that of the new XF – with new silver metallic overlays, new pointer hubs and new bezel shapes, plus a combination of green dial illumination and white pointer illumination, just as in the XK.

Standard features include traction control with dynamic stability control; anti lock braking with electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assist. There are six airbags, pre-tensioners for all seat belts, remote two stage central locking, an intrusion and perimeter alarm and engine immobiliser.

Cruise control, a trip computer, automatic air conditioning, a split folding rear seat to extend the boot’s luggage capacity is also standard equipment.
With the diesel option the X-Type is a Jaguar with broader appeal than ever.

News: BMW M-division delivers 300,000th vehicle in 30 years

BMW M3 fq

Munich. 30 years, 300 000 vehicles and a BMW M3 Coupe — these are the most significant earmarks of a remarkable anniversary. Three decades after commencing with the assembly of their first series production model, the BMW M GmbH has now delivered its 300 000th vehicle. The alpine white BMW M3 Coupe was handed over to a customer in Regensburg. This East Bavarian town is also the location of the BMW plant in which the high-performance sports car is produced.

The anniversary vehicle marks a further milestone in the success story of the BMW M GmbH. The number of customers who choose to purchase a BMW M model still continues to grow. Nevertheless, driving a car boasting the M logo remains an exclusive experience. In the year 2007, BMW M GmbH automobiles accounted for around one percent of the BMW Group’s overall turnover worldwide.

The tremendous success of the BMW M GmbH began with a limited production car. In 1978 the company, which was established six years previously as the BMW Motorsport GmbH, presented a mid-engine racing car, featuring a straight six-cylinder power unit that was utilised in the newly founded ProCar series. The car was also produced for reasons of homologation with a 204 kW/277 bhp road version. The two-seater car, which had long become a legend and which, in its anniversary year, was recently abundantly honoured at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2008 at Lake Como, was the fastest German series production sports car when launched. 445 BMW M1 cars were produced up to 1981, one of them being the Art Car designed by Andy Warhol.
Other models included in the range as from 1984 achieved considerably higher production figures. It was then that the BMW M GmbH corporate philosophy, which is still applicable to this day, was established. The aim was to develop high-performance automobiles, which were suitable for everyday road traffic and would fascinate through discrete aesthetics and drive and suspension technology directly inspired by motor racing. This applied unreservedly to the first BMW M5 with a 210 kW/286 bhp straight six-cylinder power unit for example. Thanks to its performance and its understatement factor, the saloon car was extremely popular amongst business travellers.

Two years later, a further M model laid the foundation stone for a new vehicle category. The BMW M3, ancestor of the current fourth model generation, caused a stir both on the road and on the racetrack. It is the most successful touring car ever utilised in motor sports, also becoming a huge commercial success within a very short time. 17,000 first-generation BMW M3 automobiles alone were sold. To this date, the car, which is currently available as the BMW M3 Coupe, the BMW M3 Saloon and the BMW M3 Convertible, accounts for the largest proportion of overall BMW M GmbH vehicle sales.

During the course of the first ten years, around 35,000 BMW M automobiles were put on the road. In 1994, five-digit figures were achieved for the first time within a year. Since then, record sales figures have been consistently achieved, with sales of all BMW M GmbH models continuing to rise further with each new generation. Worldwide purchases of the new BMW M3 alone exceeded 4,000 in the first four months of the current year — even before the market launch of the BMW M3 Convertible and the new M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic. The USA is the most important market for BMW M automobiles, and on the European continent the high-performance sports cars are much coveted in the UK, Germany and Italy.

The vehicle portfolio of the BMW M GmbH currently comprises nine models, all featuring engines with individual characteristics derived from the high-revving concept. The BMW Z4 M Roadster and the BMW Z4 M Coupe boast a straight six-cylinder with 252 kW/343 bhp, the BMW M5, and the BMW M5 Touring, the BMW M6 Coupe and the BMW M6 Convertible all feature a 373 kW/507 bhp V10 engine. Both power units are series winners of the “International Engine of the Year Awards”, which the new 309 kW/420 bhp V8 engine utilised in the BMW M3 was also able to seize in its category this year.

News: Renault launches Laguna wagon in New Zealand

Renault Laguna SW

An economical yet torquey diesel engine coupled to a six speed automatic transmission is the cornerstone of the Renault Laguna Wagon which is being launched in New Zealand.

It is the only model of the mid-sized French car available at launch, boasting a comprehensive specification, with one of the highest five star European NCAP crash testing safety ratings, four star child occupant protection and a combined cycle fuel consumption of just 7.1 litres/100 kms.

The Laguna Wagon 2.0 dCi Auto will provide an alternative for executive car buyers who don’t want a Japanese brand and who cannot justify the extra expense of a German marque. The motor’s maximum torque of 340 Nm arrives at just 2000 rpm, making it ideal for over taking on the open road and pulling strongly up hills, or idling around town in stop — start city traffic. A particulate filter is standard. Servicing is only required annually or every 20,000km.

The motor has CO2 emission of only 188 grams per kilometre. It is priced at $54,990.

News: Citroen wins awards for security

Citroën has picked up more awards than any other manufacturer at this year’s British Insurance Car Security Awards at Thatcham’s Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre, the world’s leading test centre for security, theft-proofing and insurance research.

Citroen won the vehicle security awards for no less than four different models, demonstrating Citroën’s commitment to security across its range.

Citroën’s C6 picked up the top spot in the Executive class for the second year in a row, as did the C4 Picasso, clinching the Compact MPV accolade. The popular C4 and the soon to be launched in New Zealand Citroën C5 dominated the family vehicle categories, taking both the Small Family and Family titles respectively.

Citroën’s success at this year’s event means the Company has now received an unprecedented fourteen security accolades since the British Insurance Car Security Awards were launched just five years ago.