News: Aston Martin DBS arrives in New Zealand

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Aston Martin’s new DBS sports car has arrived in New Zealand with two examples recently delivered to their owners.

A sports car with genuine Grand Touring heritage, the 6.0-litre V12 powered DBS was officially launched in August 2007, and deliveries of the race-bred two-seater to customers in the United Kingdom and United States started earlier this year. Each DBS sold to date has a six-speed manual transmission with a six-speed Touchtronic automatic transmission option available from December this year.

Independent Prestige LMVD, the local distributor of the prestigious British marque, has already pre-sold their initial allocation of the DBS says general sales manager Greg Brinck.

“As you can imagine, this is a very highly sought-after motor car. Aston Martin has not defined the number of DBS that they will build in total, but they have said it will be a limited volume model,” says Brinck who adds that the DBS retails for around $500,000 NZD, “…depending on the specific options the customer selects.  There is an approximately six month wait for delivery if you were to order one today.”

The Aston Martin DBS was revealed to New Zealand customers at an extremely well-attended function at Independent Prestige on 30 July, with the Lightning Silver-coloured DBS quickly surrounded by eager Aston Martin fans. The vehicle is in New Zealand for Independent Prestige to use for customer demonstrations and media evaluation for a short period of time.

At the global unveiling of the DBS last year, Aston Martin chief executive officer, Dr Ulrich Bez, described the car as “…the ultimate expression of Aston Martin’s engineering and technical ability. The DBS offers pure performance without compromise. It delivers the complete driving experience and bridges the gap between our road and track cars — the DB9 and DBR9.”

Equally at home on a twisting mountain circuit as on the open road, the DBS is a true thoroughbred, says Bez. “The Aston Martin DBS is a 6.0-litre V12 powered, race-bred, two-seater shaped by the aerodynamic demands of high performance, with an exquisite interior that marries beautifully hand-finished materials with the very latest in performance technology.”

A combination of elegant design, innovative manufacturing processes, race-derived materials and components and Aston Martin’s unrivalled hand-build expertise makes the DBS a luxury sports car without equal. Every line, crease and curve conveys the enormous potential of the DBS, a seductive blend of refinement and raw power, provided by the hand-built V12 producing 380 kW (510 bhp/517 PS), a top speed of 302 km/h (191 mph) and a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time of 4.3 seconds.

The DBS is built at Aston Martin’s global headquarters at Gaydon, near Warwickshire in the United Kingdom, joining the current Aston Martin line-up which now comprises the elegant DB9, the agile V8 Vantage Coupe and the critically acclaimed Vantage Roadster — launched earlier in 2007.

The Aston Martin DBS will again feature in the latest James Bond movie. Following its pre-launch role in “Casino Royale” the DBS features in a spectacular car chase sequence in “Quantum of Solace” due for release in New Zealand on 27 November 2008.

News: Nissan GT-R V-spec coming soon

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For those who think the standard Nissan R35 GT-R isn’t fast enough, a hotter ‘V-spec’ version could be released as early as the end of this year in Japan with international sales starting in early 2009.

American magazine Road & Track say that the car will have 520bhp and 600Nm of torque and weigh 1640kg, but all this comes at a cost. US$130,000 (NZ$175,000) is the expected price which is a lot more than the ‘regular’ GT-R which costs from US$69,500 (NZ$ 93,000) in the States.

With the V-Spec it has been suggested that the GT-R could pull the Porsche GT-2 pants down on the around the Nurburgring by posting a sub 7m 25s lap. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

News: Audi release new TDi engine for A4

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A trio of latest generation 2.0-litre TDI engines are now available for the Audi A4 following the recent introduction of a third, 170PS version of the highly regarded common rail piezo-injected four-cylinder unit. The new A4 2.0 TDI 170PS slots in to the Saloon and Avant ranges above the recently introduced 120PS and 143PS versions and is available in front-wheel-drive and quattro all-wheel-drive forms.

With an output of 170PS, and 350Nm of torque delivered via a six-speed manual transmission from just 1,750rpm, the front-wheel-drive A4 2.0 TDI 170PS combines the ability to touch 62mph from rest in 8.3 seconds and continue to 240km/h with 5.3L/100km-plus economy potential and low CO2 output of 140g/km.

The new unit will be available in combination with SE or S line specification, each offering features including three-zone climate control, a 180-watt Concert CD audio system with 6.5-inch colour display and automatic headlight and wiper operation. Xenon headlamps with the LED strip daytime running lights that are now synonymous with Audi are reserved for the more performance oriented S line versions with their exclusive S line body styling and sports interior.

News: ‘New car’ smell could be a health hazard

Worst ‘new car’ smell for this year has gone to the Mitsubishi Eclipse Spider GT, which is thankfully unavailable on the New Zealand market.

To see if your car is making you sick, then the chart provided by www.healthycar.org might give you a clue.

Blogs: Let the auto-worker layoffs begin

A recession is partly a media-driven event. People start feeling the pinch because of some factor (e.g. high interest rates, high oil prices), then the papers start reporting the doom, or should I say, over-reporting the doom because journalists need easy sensationalist stories to write about. Apart from the Great Depression, it’s never usually as bad as is made out.

But what happens is that the sheep of the world that read the newspaper stop spending, and the first things to go are the toys and luxuries. Consequently Mercedes is cutting its production in the USA by about 40,000 units over the next 4 months. This will be predominantly the SUV range. General Motors (which is already in deep financial doo-doo) is laying off another 5,000 workers (big trucks just ain’t selling). Last week Chrysler announced 1000 lay-offs, and Nissan’s aiming for 1,200 over the next couple of months with a buyout package.

Sounds like it’s tough out there then! If you can’t make money in cars, what do you do? Well, in times like these it’s always good to remember three evergreen staples: fast food, beer and cigarettes. McDonald’s is now just about the cheapest place to eat, so people go there instead of restaurants (and McDonald’s sells highly addictive coffee to stressed commuters); beer and ciggies are also addictive and people are weak. So they spend their money on that, and save some for the bus (if they can’t afford the car). Of course, working in those industries may require you to sell your soul to the devil, depending on your ethics.

The world has a way of balancing everything out. People driving less and buying more economical cars will reduce the demand for oil. Less demand equals falling prices. Eventually the price of petrol won’t be talked about so negatively and people will begin buying luxuries again. The auto workers will hire staff, but the newspapers won’t report that. They only really report the bad news.

And ultimately, people once again buy cars like the enormous Land Cruiser I’m driving at the moment.

News: Suzuki launches the Jimny Sierra in New Zealand

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A new flagship version of the popular Suzuki Jimny has been added to the New Zealand line-up.

The Jimny Sierra replaces the JLX model and has a higher level of standard specification and increased safety equipment which includes Five-spoke, 15-inch diameter aluminium alloy wheels, shod with 205/70R tyres, anti-lock brakes, new seat upholstery fabrics and two new body colours.

While the Jimny can play the off-road game quite well, the small size of the car makes it easy to use in the city also.

Unlike most Sport Utility Vehicles, the Jimny has a strong, separate full-frame chassis and selectable four-wheel-drive with high and low gear ratios. This provides ten forward gear ratios and two reverse ratios for optimum use off road.

A Drive Select transmission allows the driver to shift from two wheel drive to four wheel drive on the move at speeds up to 100 km/h. All wheel drive is selected by the simple touch of a button on the dashboard.

There is 190mm of ground clearance for versatile use in difficult conditions, and a relatively short 2,250mm wheelbase enables the Suzuki to reach places inaccessible by larger four-wheel-drives.

The legendary go-anywhere ability of this smallest Suzuki vehicle has long proved a Jimny asset. The vehicle has a maximum approach angle of 42 degrees, departure angle of 46 degrees and ramp-over angle of 31 degrees.

Powering the Jimny is an efficient M13A 1,328cm3 four-cylinder motor, producing 63 kW of power and 110 Nm of torque.

The engine incorporates variable valve technology and has four valves per cylinder, twin overhead camshafts and multi-point fuel injection.

In the official combined fuel test cycle the manual 5-speed Jimny Sierra returns 7.2 litres/100 km while the automatic averages 7.6 litres/100km.

Dual front air bags, air conditioning, electrically operated windows and power assisted steering are standard.

Height adjustable front seat belt anchorages, front seat belt pre-tensioners, a collapsible steering column, side impact protection beams and steering lock are included in the standard safety equipment.

The Jimny Sierra SN413V manual launches in New Zealand with a recommended retail price of $20,500, with the automatic priced at $21,990.
A manual only entry-level Jimny retailing at a budget-beating $16,990 is still part of the local Suzuki line-up.

The Sierra nameplate has been used by Suzuki in selected export markets for several years, but this is the first time it has been marketed in New Zealand.

News: Wald release wild Mercedes-Benz C-class Black Bison edition

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Wald has released its latest Mercedes-Benz creation, the Black Bison, into the wild.

The Bison is based on the C-class sedan and features heavily reworked fenders which incorporate a healthy set of vents and a body kit that includes a huge rear spoiler reminiscent of the German Touring Series E190 2.3s.

The general online consensus is that the Wald revisions make an ugly car worse but here at Car and SUV we like it a lot.

News: New engine for Audi A5 coupe

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The power base at Audi is changing as a 180PS version of the all-new 2.0-litre TFSI unit takes over from the 1.8 TFSI in the A5 coupe — the latest step in an exhaustive engine development programme bringing average CO2 reductions of as much as 10 per cent for core Audi models within the past 12 months.

Derived from the 211PS version of the turbo charged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder FSI engine introduced earlier this month in the A5, and sharing its new, economy enhancing Audi valvelift technology, the new 180PS unit holds a 10PS power advantage over the 1.8 TFSI, and delivers its peak output 800rpm earlier. Torque also increases by 70Nm to 320Nm, which is available from 1,500rpm to 3,900rpm, ensuring that the A5 2.0 TFSI can out-accelerate its predecessor to 62mph by 0.6 seconds, taking 7.8 seconds to go the distance, and can continue to 240km/h

All-important fuel economy and emissions control have naturally taken a step forward compared with the outgoing model as well, the A5 2.0 TFSI registering 6.6L/100km in the combined cycle test — a 7.5 per cent improvement over the 1.8 TFSI — and emitting 154g/km of CO2, down from the 1.8 TFSI’s 169g/km — a 9 per cent reduction.

As pledged by Audi Board of Management Chairman Rupert Stadler this enhancement to the A5 engine range is evidence of the pursuit by Audi of a 20 per cent decrease in fleet-wide CO2 emissions by 2012.

Standard specification for the new A5 2.0 TFSI 180PS includes 17-inch seven-spoke alloy wheels, 3-zone electronic climate control, a 10-speaker Concert CD audio system, full Milano leather upholstery and rear acoustic parking. Sport models with sports suspension ride 20mm lower on larger 18-inch 10-spoke V design alloy wheels, and inside upgrade to sports seats.

Information on New Zealand sales is as yet unavailable.