News: 2010 Mazda3 – more details released

Mazda 3 fq

Mazda has released a few more details on its 2010 Mazda3 just two days ahead of its official unveiling at the LA Auto Show later this week.

As with the out-going model there will be a base 2.0-litre engine that comes standard along with an optional larger unit, now enlarged to 2.5 litres. The displacement increase matches up to a power increase, raising power output to 167hp from 156. Both engines sit under a newly-domed hood and breathe air from a grinning front grille that seems to be the new car’s most controversial styling feature.

Both a four-door hatch/wagon and a sedan will be offered, but only the sedan will go on show this week in LA. Check back as we bring you more news from the LA Auto Show.

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News: Fiat | NZ Car of the Year | 500

Ford Mustang 2010 fq

Ford today finally took the wraps off its modestly revised 2010 Mustang range, which includes updated hardtop and convertible models. On display this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the new ‘Stang has a thoroughly updated exterior and an improved cabin.

The 2010 Mustang is at once the same and different. Like the 2005-09 model, it’s immediately recognisable as Ford’s famous pony car. If anything, it looks even more like a late ’60s Mustang thanks to some additional curvature in its lines, especially along the belt-line. At the same time, it also looks more contemporary. The designers have improved the aerodynamics and reworked many of the design details. What may be even more important for drivers of the Mustang is an all-new interior that finally dispenses with cheap, hard plastics and looks like it was designed in this century.

When the 2005 Mustang debuted, one of the biggest and most justified criticisms was its interior, specifically the cheap materials and hard plastics. Those criticisms are completely banished in the 2010 Mustang. All the plastic surfaces on the dash are now soft to the touch and pleasant to look at. Even the trim across the dashboard is aluminum rather than metallic-finished plastic.

In true Mustang tradition, there is a “steed for every need.” At launch, customers can choose from a V-6 or V-8 with their choice of coupe, convertible or glass roof,

The 2010 GT retains its 4.6L three-valve V8, which has now been bumped up to 315 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. The air intake has been reworked so that fresh air is drawn from behind the grille rather than from the wheel well. The duct from the air filter box to the throttle body has been straightened and smoothed out to reduce flow restriction. The whole car has also been stiffened and new sound insulation has been added for a quieter driving experience.

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News: Finalists announced for NZ Car of the Year Awards

Fiat 500 fin

The time has arrived for the 2008 NZ Car of the Year awards and nine vehicles have been shortlisted for New Zealand’s biggest automotive accolade. Among the finalists is the FG Ford Falcon reinforcing its popularity here in NZ, and the stylish Fiat 500.

Votes will be submitted by all members of the Motoring Writers Guild of NZ and finalists will be judged on various criteria. These criteria include how well the vehicle performs its allotted role; styling; interior design and accommodation; fit, finish and quality; ride and refinement; performance; road-holding and handling; value for money; active and passive safety; environmental responsibility.

The winner will be announced on Monday the 12th of January 2009.

The full list of finalists:

Fiat 500
FG-series Ford Falcon
Honda Accord Euro
Hyundai i30
Jaguar’s XF
Nissan X-Trail
Subaru Forester
Volkswagen Tiguan

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News: Toyota adds 16th Hilux

Toyota Hilux SR5 fq

Hilux now has a new two wheel drive model to boost up its range; a 3.0 litre turbo diesel extra cab utility with manual transmission. That brings the Hilux range to a grand total of 16 different model variants. The six petrol models, both two wheel drive and four wheel drive, now all comply with the Euro IV exhaust emission standards.

Changes have also been made to the existing models with the exterior for both the two wheel and four wheel drive variants featuring a new headlight design, matched with a new front grille design and new look front bumpers. The four wheel drive SR5 models have newly designed alloy wheels and all SR5 models have the addition of audio and multi information display steering wheel controls. A limited slip differential, already standard on the rest of the two wheel drive range, has now been added to the 2.7 litre petrol single and double cab models. Cruise control is now a standard feature on the four wheel drive 3.0 litre turbo diesel SR5 double cab with manual transmission and the two wheel drive 4.0 litre V6 petrol SR5 double cab with manual transmission. A new exterior colour has also been added with blue metallic replacing the current dark blue metallic.

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News: Vauxhall Insignia wins European Car of the Year Award

Vauxhall Insignia

The Insignia, the all-new family car from Vauxhall/Opel, has been voted 2009 Car of the Year — by the narrowest possible margin. The Insignia polled an impressive 321 votes to beat this year’s other favoured contender, the Ford Fiesta, by a solitary point. The Volkwsagen Golf, on 223 points, was third.

“This is the closest COTY competition for years,” comments Ray Hutton, president of the 59-strong jury of senior motoring journalists drawn from 23 European countries. “Car of the Year has often been decided narrowly, but it is eight years since another Ford, the Mondeo, was beaten by a single point by Alfa Romeo’s 147.” To underscore the closeness of the 46-year-old competition, the Vauxhall/Opel Insignia received most votes from 20 of the international jurors, while the Fiesta was placed first by 19 of them.

“We are delighted to be able to deliver good news at such a tough time,” says Steve Cropley, editor-in-chief of Autocar, COTY’s British-based sponsoring magazine, “The market’s the toughest we’ve seen for 20 years, but nothing alters the fact that the Insignia is a great car. However, this result is undoubtedly something of an upset. The Ford Fiesta seemed to many a winning contender. But in the end, the Insignia deserved to triumph and it did.”

Points allotted to the other COTY finalists were VW Golf 223, Citroen C5 198, Alfa Romeo MiTo 148, Skoda Superb 144 and Renault Megane 121. The competition’s first stage was in October, when jurors chose seven finalists from a field of 37 contenders. To be eligible for COTY, a car must be launched within the past 12 months and must be available in at least five European countries.

The COTY jury is made up of 59 senior motoring journalists from 23 countries. Their objective is to choose the most outstanding new car to go on sale in the past 12 months. Jurors vote twice:  first to select a short-list of seven from the new cars launched in Europe, then again to choose the winner.


2008                        FIAT 500
2007                        FORD S-MAX
2006                        RENAULT CLIO
2005                        TOYOTA PRIUS
2004                        FIAT PANDA
2003                        RENAULT MEGANE
2002                        PEUGEOT 307
2001                        ALFA ROMEO 147
2000                        TOYOTA YARIS
1999                        FORD FOCUS
1998                        ALFA ROMEO 156
1997                        RENAULT MEGANE SCENIC
1996                        FIAT BRAVO / BRAVA
1995                        FIAT PUNTO

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News: American Motors lives on

AMX fq

American Motors became extinct back in the ’80s, but the small car company created some very cool vintage American iron. When the muscle car era was still in full swing, AMC was a player with its Javelin, which went up against some stiff competition in the form of the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Trans Am. Later, the Mopar boys introduced the Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda into the mix, muddying the waters that much more. Though AMC had some success with its pony car, the AMX was quite possibly AMC’s most famous production vehicle. Based on a shortened version of the Javelin’s platform, the AMX had just two seats and was enitrely about performance. The car turned into something of an icon for the automaker, and remains a valued collectors ride.

AMC enthusiasts have long speculated on a possible return of the AMX, and though it seems extremely unlikely, they wanted to indulge the fantasy further. So AMC Club members commissioned Jeff Teague, a designer who just so happens to be the son of classic AMC designer Dick Teague, to come up with his ideas of Javelin and AMX revivals. Check out the Gallery for the results.

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News: Murphy to drive Holden in AA Energywise Rally


Greg Murphy is due to lead Holden’s fuel efficiency quest in this year’s AA Energywise Rally. Hot off the track from the 13th round of the V8 Supercar Champs Greg will team up with journalist John Maslin in the Astra CDTi.

Holden has also entered its new Epica diesel a mid-sized sedan which will be driven by journalist Robert Barry. The 4 cylinder 2.0-litre diesel variant is the latest addition to Holden’s growing diesel range and delivers fuel economy of 7.6 litres per 100km.

Holden is developing more alternate fuel options and fuel saving technologies than at any time in its history. Recently the company announced that it will introduce Active Fuel Management on all of its V8 Automatics in early 2009. In a combination of town and highway driving, the technology can deliver fuel savings of up to one litre per 100 kilometres, with potential for even better results at constant cruising speeds.

In another fuel efficiency development, Holden has also just announced that it has upgraded its Alloytec V6 engine on Omega and Berlina models within the VE Commodore range. The improvement offers fuel savings (ADR 81/01) of up to 0.4 litres per 100 kilometres for petrol models and 1.3 litres per 100 kilometres for LPG.

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News: Audi A4 goes longer for Chinese market


Audi has just introduced a special long-wheelbase version of its new A4 only for the Chinese market, joining the long-wheelbase A6 that has been available in China since 2000.

The Chinese crave a little extra length, but this is the first time a vehicle in this size class has been elongated. Labeled as a premium car in China, the Audi A4L’s wheelbase is 2.36 inches longer than the standard A4, most of the extra legth is added to rear-seat legroom. The A4L will be built in Changchun, China and will feature a special chassis designed to cope with sometimes-rough Chinese road conditions. Engine options will be the 180-hp 2.0 TFSI four-cylinder and the 265-hp 3.2 FSI six-cylinder. The Audi A4L will debut at the Guangzhou Motor Show on November 18, and should be in Chinese dealerships by January 2009.

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