News: New look Holden Barina now in New Zealand

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Holden New Zealand continues its competitive push into the value end of the light car market with a fresh new look and feel for the Barina 3-door and 5-door hatchbacks, plus the addition of side impact airbags across the range.

Starting from $16,990, the upgraded Holden Barina hatchbacks, boasts a 1.6 litre powertrain and refreshed exterior and interior styling.

Most notably, the Barina 3-door and 5-door hatchbacks have been given a strong Euro-styled front and rear end treatments.

Inside, the interior is significantly upgraded and features an updated instrument panel, console and new fabric trim.

From a safety perspective, all Barina models receive ABS and driver, front passenger and side impact airbags as standard.

The Barina hatchbacks also get a cleverly packaged interior characterised by the new instrument panel which features a matt chrome-trimmed four-circle instrument cluster.

The Barina range improves occupant safety with the inclusion of side impact airbags for driver and front passenger, which extend upwards to provide head as well as thorax protection and complement the driver and front passenger airbags already standard.

Barina is powered by a 1.6 litre DOHC multi-point fuel injected engine that produces 76kW of peak power at 5800rpm and develops peak torque of 145Nm at 3600rpm.

The 16-valve 1.6 litre powerplant returns 7.0 litres per 100 kilometres (manual transmission) and 7.6 litres/100 kilometres (automatic).

Ventilated front disc brakes are standard with alloy wheels and four-channel ABS braking system.

Holden Barina recommended retail pricing (excluding ORC)

3-Door Hatch              $16,990           (manual transmission)
3-Door Hatch              $18,690           (automatic transmission)
5-Door Hatch              $18,990           (manual transmission)
5-Door Hatch              $20,690           (automatic transmission)

News: Revised Citroen C5 landing in New Zealand showrooms in September

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The new Citroen C5 will make its New Zealand show room debut on Saturday 6 September, providing the French car maker with a replacement for the model that started Citroen’s renaissance and which has proven to be a benchmark for comfort, safety and diesel performance.

The Citroen C5 paved the way for the success of the Citroen C3, C4 and C4 Picasso, as well as providing a show case for Citroen technology in a wide range of areas, from safety to suspension and advanced engine technology. Until the arrival of the Citroen C6, the Citroen C5 also maintained Citroen’s reputation for luxurious large sedans that could cross continents in supreme comfort.

Available as sedan and, in the form of the Citroen C5 Tourer, a wagon that continues Citroen’s long running history of large, capacious estate cars, the new C5 is an all new car that boasts a strong styling statement and a long list of advanced equipment and features, including the legendary hydropneumatic suspension in its latest form, Hydractive 3+, that has made Citroen a byword for ride comfort.

With diesel power playing a dominant role in the existing Citroen C5 — some 85 per cent of C5 sedans and estates sold in New Zealand are Turbo Diesel — the new car will further extend its diesel share with a six cylinder diesel available for the first time in the C5. The 150 kW 440 Nm 2.7 litre Twin Turbo V6 was first seen in the Citroen C6 and is now set offer a new level of diesel ability in the new C5 when it arrives in September.

“Our plan was to launch the new C5 in October,” explains Lawrie Malatios, General Manager for Citroen in New Zealand, “but we have managed to have our first installment of production earlier than planned and this has enabled us to pull forward our launch by more than six weeks. The new Citroen C5 has been warmly welcomed in Europe as a significant advance on the existing car and offering new levels of performance and economy in a stunning new body, so we expect it to be another success for Citroen in New Zealand.”

Prices and specifications for the new Citroen C5 will be announced when it goes on sale in New Zealand on Saturday 6 September 2008.

News: Volkswagen Caddy adds interesting roof feature

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Among the display of leisure vehicles and campers on the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles stand at Europe’s largest recreational vehicle show that starts in Düsseldorf, Germany this weekend will be an interesting Caddy Topos Sail design concept which takes its nautical theme to the extreme of having a wooden boat deck on its roof.

The Caddy Topos Sail design concept, based on the smallest model in the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle van range, uses design cues from classic yachts and has its multi-functional roof covered with wooden decking surrounded by aluminium roof rails.

The wooden sun deck on the roof is accessed via four matching wooden and aluminium steps in the Caddy’s tailgate, and to complete the design theme there are wooden inserts along the side of the vehicle and in the rear bumper.

Road Tests / Car Reviews: Volvo C30 S 2.4 2008 Review

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The last time I bought something from IKEA I was very disappointed. Not only did the bookshelf for my ever expanding library of car magazines (I tell my fiancee it’s for research) fall apart after a month, it didn’t look cool, which is what I thought smart Swedish design was supposed to do – be both well-constructed and aesthetically pleasing.

Unlike my furniture misadventure, the new Volvo C30 looks like it might be able to deliver on that promise.

The design inspiration for the C30 comes from the classic form of the Volvo P1800 ES, which was a station wagon version of the P1800 coupe. The P1800 coupe was the car that featured in the 1960s TV series The Saint which starred Roger Moore in his pre-Bond days.

Just like the old P1800, the C30 is a very stylish piece of design and takes several cues from the original.

The glass hatch at the back is one such feature, but in this case form rules function. The cargo space itself is not too bad, but the aperture is strangely shaped and makes putting large items in the back a bit ‘square peg in a round hole’. It will fit bags of groceries no worries, but you won’t fit big boxes or other bulky items in. The detachable boot blind in the back helps to reduce the paranoia of theft, but also makes putting tall items in the boot a bit of a pain.

The wide hips of the C30 pay tribute to the fins on the P1800 and give the car a very seductive look.

The side windows also play on the classic P1800 theme but they don’t do rearward visibility any favours, creating quite thick C-pillars that make parking a bit difficult.

These features aside the C30 follows the Volvo corporate look closely with the same front and rear treatments (especially in the lights) as the rest of the Swedish car-maker’s range.

Being a dark grey, the cabin of our base model test car is a little drab but the seats are very comfortable and the ‘floating’ silver centre console adds a spark of colour.

Interior architecture is neat and feels as solid as any Audi or BMW but without the flash.

The pictorial buttons for the climate control system are unique to Volvo and a great idea as well as being very easy to use. These are incorporated with the stereo controls on the floating console which has enough space behind it for wallets and phones.

Overall the interior is well-designed and purposeful with a feeling of solidity that runs right through to the driving experience.

Driving the C30 it feels incredibly stable, dense even, a feeling as unexpected as picking up a small piece of gold and discovering how weighty it is. It is a smallish car but at 1429kg it’s no lightweight, but this weight does play a role in making the car feel planted when driving.

Making your way at speed on patchy back-roads the Volvo is very composed and absorbs bumps with ease, gliding over New Zealand’s typically rough and undulating blacktop almost like a luxury saloon but without the wallow and roll associated with softly sprung large cars.

Push the Volvo into a fast corner and all you will find is a very safe form of understeer to curb your enthusiasm. It is a car that feels superglued to the road, very safe and very composed but not that sporty at all.

The 2.4-litre, 5-cylinder engine is very linear in its delivery and develops moderate power, but never enough to push you back into the seat. It sounds good too, with an off-beat idle that really starts to growl when you push it hard. The automatic transmission is a very smooth bit of gear that shifts firmly and lets you wind the engine to the redline without interfering by changing up early.

The C30 has sporting pretentions, by how it looks and the growly 5-pot, but it doesn’t deliver a proper sporting drive. With this in mind there is a hotter turbocharged T5 version of the C30 that uses the same engine as the Focus XR5 and could be the one to go for if sporty hatches are your thing

At $44,990 for the base S model (as tested), it is not cheap but it is a quality piece with Euro flair that will appeal to those more interested in looking good around town rather than a driver’s car.

Click through to the next page for full specs on the Volvo C30 S.

Price: from $44,990 (as tested).

What we like

  • Styling
  • Feeling of solidity when driving
  • Interior quality
  • Growly engine

What we don’t like

  • Perhaps a bit pricey
  • Bit drab inside
  • If you want overtaking power, buy the turbo version (or a Focus XR5)

Volvo C30 S 2.4i (125 kW)
Engine Type: Five-cylinder petrol
Power Train: Front wheel drive
Number of cylinders: 5
Engine Displacement: 2435 cc
Engine Bore: 83 mm
Engine Stroke: 90 mm
Max Engine Power: 125 kW@6000 rpm
Torque: 230 Nm@4400 rpm
Fuel type: Petrol
Acceleration (0-100) Five-speed Geartronic transmission: 8.8 s
Fuel consumption (city): 13.1 l/100km
Fuel consumption (highway): 6.6 l/100km
Fuel consumption (mixed): 9 l/100km
Emissions CO2: 214 g/km

Capacity
Fuel Capacity 62 l
Cargo Capacity 233 kg
Towing Capacity 1500 kg

Exterior dimensions
Height 1447 mm
Length 4252 mm
Width 1782 mm
Width inc Mirrors 2039 mm
Wheel base 2640 mm
Track Front 1548 mm
Track Rear 1544 mm
Turning Circle 11.1 m

Interior dimensions
Head Room Front 988 mm
Head Room Rear 959 mm
Shoulder Room Front 1390 mm
Shoulder Room Rear 1303 mm
Leg Room Front 1057 mm
Leg Room Rear 869 mm
Hip Room Front 1380 mm
Hip Room Rear 1146 mm

Words Ben Dillon, photos Darren Cottingham

News: Mazda Kazamai concept revealed in Moscow

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Designed with the Russian compact SUV market in mind, Kazamai gives a glimpse at where Mazda is heading with a possible future compact crossover.

In the first six months of 2008 more new cars were sold in Russia than any other European country making it Europe’s largest car market.

One of the country’s biggest markets is the sports utility vehicle (SUV) segment, representing 16 percent of the total sales volume in 2007. Between 2004 and 2007, the segment became 10 times larger and this growth is expected to continue over the mid-term in Russia. Mazda’s mid-sized sports crossover SUV, the CX-7, has been on the market for less than a year in Russia and has already found over 7,900 customers — easily Mazda’s largest market for the CX-7 in Europe.

Now, the Mazda Kazamai concept car addresses the growing popularity of SUVs in Russia and gives a strong hint at where Mazda might be going with a compact crossover SUV. Small, lightweight with dynamic styling, low-consumption, and a next-generation Mazda powertrain, it is meant to appeal to young, upwardly-mobile Russians with a strong sense of style and urban lifestyle demands.

Mazda Kazamai means ‘swirling crosswinds’ in Japanese, and was chosen to express the powerful yet nimble character of this stylish and compact crossover. Kazamai is dynamic and athletic looking on the outside and displays an evolved Nagare ‘flow’ design. Unlike previous concept cars, Mazda Kazamai’s styling represents powerful natural movements that are emotionally expressed through three-dimensional motifs stretching over the whole body, representing a fusion of design and functionality.

Mazda Kazamai is an impressive combination of packaging requirements and design aesthetics. With a width of 1,930mm and a length of 4,520mm, it is slightly larger than the current Mazda3, with room for SUV comfort and functionality on the inside. Yet, because it is only 1,500mm high, has a flat roofline and very short rear overhangs, it also has a sporty coupe look with the promise of driving fun.

The innovative body design features flared fenders that emphasise SUV-like strength and a cabin befitting a sports car. The wedge-shaped profile was designed to evoke the image of a sleek arrow cutting through a mighty wind. In particular, the body design between the front wheel arches and the roof pillars is intended to express the agility and dynamism of wind gusting along the side of the vehicle. The panel lines on the sides represent swift and elegant crosswinds, further accentuating the dynamic and stylish body design. The bonnet itself is lower in the centre than at the sides, which emphasises the car’s powerful front fenders that accommodate large, 22-inch diameter wheels with 265/45 R22 tyres.

The alloy wheel design continues the crosswinds motif with each spoke carefully twisted and larger at the perimeter than in the centre, providing a strong sense of movement. The five-point Mazda grille is integrated into the body to create a clean and light image which, together with the flared front lower sides, contributes to excellent aerodynamic characteristics. The aerodynamics are further improved by making the air intakes as small as possible. The side sill panels and rear combination light covers also help to control the wind flow and reduce drag even further.

Mazda Kazamai is not only a pure expression of speed and power, it also accommodates up to four passengers with compact SUV comfort and functionality. It was designed to fulfil many driver and vehicle interfaces so as to support the driver in enjoying safe and stress-free driving, with a well considered man/machine relationship, good visibility and an easy to operate cockpit. This is one of Mazda’s important areas of the Sustainable Zoom-Zoom plan.

The ideal powertrain match for the Mazda Kazamai concept would be the next-generation 2.0-litre direct-injection petrol engine, which Mazda engineers are currently developing. This engine delivers a balance of sporty driving — especially in a compact car like the Kazamai — with good environmental performance. Mazda Kazamai will feature a DISI engine based on the current Mazda CX-7’s engine, with advanced technologies to minimise energy loss and vastly improved thermal efficiency. Mazda’s next generation 2.0-litre DISI petrol engine also has combustion control technology and variable valve control that deliver strong torque throughout the rev-range for excellent engine response as well as superior fuel economy. A next-generation catalyst also ensures superior emissions performance.

This engine is coupled to a lightweight, next-generation compact six-speed automatic transmission that is highly responsive and delivers the direct feel of a manual transmission, and with four-wheel drive for superior traction. In combination with Kazamai’s next-generation aerodynamics and its lightweight body outlined above, this powertrain would deliver an estimated 30 percent improvement in fuel consumption and emissions (versus the current MZR 2.0-litre petrol) — without compromising driving pleasure.

News: Audi A4 Avant now in New Zealand

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Audi has officially launched the A4 Avant (wagon) version of the A4 series which offers a large cargo space of up to 1,430 litres.

The A4 Avant comes with the same engineering layout as the sedan; its newly developed five-link front suspension has been moved far forward. This provides for an ideal axle load distribution and thus for the highest degree of handling precision and agility.

Audi offers the A4 Avant with five engines options, of which two each are petrol and three are TDI units. While they provide ample power, their fuel consumption, compared to their predecessors, has been reduced by an average of more than ten percent — a convincing testimony for Audi’s efficiency strategy. The wide spectrum of drive train choices and the many sport and comfort technologies employed — inherited from the luxury class — make no secret of the high technical competence of the brand with the four rings.
Compared to its predecessor, the designers tweaked the proportions into a new sporty ratio. The front overhang was shortened, the hood and the wheelbase were extended visibly. The new A4 Avant measures 4.70 metres, nearly 12 centimetres more than its predecessor. It is significantly stiffer and safer than its predecessor, while, at the same time, dropping about 10 percent of its weight thanks to intelligent light-weight steel construction. In its 1.8 TFSI configuration, the new A4 Avant weighs in with a total of just 1,470 kilograms.

With a base size of 490 litres, the new Audi A4 Avant has a larger trunk than any of its immediate competitors. When the rear seat backs are folded down, the cargo space reaches up to 1,430 litres.  The rear backrest is split at a ratio of 40:60, with an optional separate ski bag. Audi provides a number of luxury features, like the optional electro-mechanical tailgate drive and luggage retainer set.

The ambience inside the new A4 Avant is light and spacious. The legroom in the back measures 895 millimetres — the best figure in the premium midsize segment. The same goes for the headroom of 971 millimetres.

The new Audi A4 Avant will be launched with two powerful and smooth-running petrol engines and three TDI units. The 1.8T, 2.0TDI and the 2.7 TDI models come with the 8 speed multitronic transmission.

The 3.0 TDI and 3.2 FSI variants come with the 6 speed tiptronic transmission and have quattro permanent all-wheel drive as standard.  Under normal driving conditions, this distributes the forces at a ratio of 40:60 between the front and rear axle. This emphasis on the rear end perfectly harmonizes with the overall dynamic character of the new A4 Avant. If needed, the self-locking centre differential transfers the majority of the torque to the axle with the better traction.
In the driveline of the new A4 Avant, the differential has moved directly behind the engine. It has switched places with the clutch or the torque converter. It was therefore possible to move the front axle 154 millimetres forward. This solution provides for a longer wheelbase, a shorter front overhang and a balanced distribution of the axle loads, thus improving handling in particular.

The dynamic suspension of the new Audi A4 was redesigned from top to bottom.  The pivot bearings and the five links per wheel making up the front axle are made of aluminum, just like the front crossmember, which gives the front end of the body more rigidity. The steering box is located far to the front and deep down so that the steering impulse can be led directly to the wheels via the tie-rods. The rack-and-pinion steering provides an immediate feel for the road, and its highly efficient servo pump improves fuel consumption by about 0.1 litre/100 km.

For the rear axle, Audi applied the track-controlled trapezoidal link principle of the larger A6 and A8 series. For the most part, the suspension is made of aluminum; the separate layout of the springs and shock absorbers produces subtle responsiveness.

A number of innovative technologies make the driving experience even more dynamic and exciting. The optional ‘Audi drive select’ control system accesses those technology components which affect the driving experience. It influences the engine’s fuel intake, the tiptronic shifting points, and the power steering assistance provided. With the push of a button, the driver decides if these components are to operate in a comfortable, medium, or sporty mode. If the car is equipped with the MMI operating system, a fourth mode is available, which the driver can individually program.

In connection with Audi drive select, there are two additional modular components. One of them is an adaptive controller for the shock absorbers that is linked to a sports suspension which lowers the body by about 20 millimetres. The second component is the optional ‘Audi dynamic steering’, which operates using a superposition gear. Depending on the driving speed, it varies the steering ratio continuously. In the limit range, it works with ESP to stabilize the new A4 Avant with small lightning-quick steering interventions. The system is also extremely useful when understeer occurs and when braking when traction is only available on one side. The leading-edge Audi dynamic steering system far surpasses solutions offered by the competition. Audi drive select can be ordered with dynamic steering, damper control or both.

The new A4 Avant has available many new new optional features compared to its predecessor such as panoramic glass sunroof, nagivation, TV reception, Bang & Olufsen sound system, Ipod preparation (standard on quattro models) adaptive lights and rear camera parking aid.

The Audi A4 Avant, already the most successful premium wagon in the midsize class worldwide represents 50% of the A4 range retails. Launched in August this year, the range is priced from $71,900 for the A4 1.8T multitronic. All models are available with the S line package.

News: BMW hydrogen-powered party ends after 6,400km across the U.S

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The BMW Hydrogen 7 – the first hydrogen-powered luxury sedan – has arrived in Los Angeles to finish a more than 6,400km cross-country journey featuring hydrogen-powered cars by the world’s leading automakers in the 2008 Hydrogen Road Tour. The purpose of the tour was to show that leading automakers and energy producers are doing their part to move away from fossil fuels to hydrogen, and showcase the cooperation among forward-thinking lawmakers, NGOs and the industry.

Logging an unprecedented “strictly hydrogen” cruising range of over 320 km, the BMW Hydrogen 7 mono-fuel completed the two-week, 31 city US tour with outstanding reliability, leaving only a trail of potable water vapour in its tracks. The 320km cruising range is equivalent to better than 9.4L/100km. In the BMW Hydrogen 7 bi-fuel vehicle, the cruising range topped 200km. By optimizing the combustion process in the mono-fuel Hydrogen 7, BMW achieved an increase in range of over 60% over the bi-fuel Hydrogen 7.

BMW provided a fleet of four hydrogen-powered cars — two BMW Hydrogen 7 mono-fuel vehicles that use only liquid hydrogen and two BMW Hydrogen 7 bi-fuel vehicles that can switch from hydrogen to gasoline. The four BMW vehicles along with the core BMW CleanEnergy team were on the road for the entire two-week tour.

The Hydrogen Road Tour is a partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Energy, the California Fuel Cell Partnership and the National Hydrogen Association. In addition to BMW, participants included Daimler, GM, Honda, Hyundai-Kia, Nissan, Toyota, and VW. Providing clean, domestically produced hydrogen fuel for this tour were Linde, BMW’s hydrogen fuel partner for the Tour, and Air Products.

“The miles covered on this tour are a highly valuable contribution to the nearly two million miles already logged by our global fleet of 100 BMW Hydrogen 7s. This tour has shown thousands of people that hydrogen is truly the best alternative transportation fuel, and hydrogen vehicles are approaching commercial availability. An internal combustion engine, powered by hydrogen should play an important role in the future of sustainable mobility,” said Tom Baloga, BMW Vice President of Engineering, US.

What was most noteworthy about the Hydrogen Road Tour was the partnership between the world’s leading automakers, key federal departments, influential non-governmental organizations and hydrogen fuel providers to bring the reality of practical, clean energy to our nation’s legislators and the public. The tour visited key members of Congress in their home states to allow them the opportunity to see and drive these vehicles.

BMW Hydrogen 7 was the only vehicle on the tour that stores liquid hydrogen to power an internal combustion engine. Hydrogen is one of the cleanest energy sources available. Essentially the only tailpipe emission is water vapour.

The tour fleet included the mono-fuel version of the BMW Hydrogen 7, equipped with a V12 internal combustion engine (ICE), which has been engineered to run exclusively on hydrogen. It was created to showcase the zero CO2 and low emissions potential and feasibility of a dedicated hydrogen internal combustion engine (ICE).

The Hydrogen 7’s V12 mono-fuel ICE produces no CO2 and near-zero emissions, while not sacrificing performance. In fact, the tailpipe emissions are so infinitesimal they pushed the limits of current emission testing technology.

Independent authorities, including the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), have confirmed these results. ANL conducted emission tests on BMW Hydrogen 7 mono-fuel vehicles in early March 2008 and found that not only were the emissions infinitesimally small but when running, the vehicle actually cleaned the air.

Recent studies have also confirmed the water emitted by the Hydrogen 7 is potable, i.e., safe to drink.

News: New Renault Sport Twingo to go on sale soon

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The new Twingo Renault Sport aims to opens up the Renault Sport thrill to a wider range of customers, while putting them in complete control.

The Twingo Renault Sport range is simple and attractive: sporty looks, a 133hp 1.6 litre 16V engine and a choice of two chassis (Sport or Cup). The car can be customized to every driver’s taste: exterior and interior Renault Sport detailing is available, along with a multimedia connection point.

From the car’s launch, Renault Sport Technologies will offer every customer a service that is unique in the hot hatch segment: Renault Sport Experience driving tuition. This driver training course reinforces Renault’s credentials as a socially responsible company and is available in several European countries. It teaches new buyers how to handle their new hot hatch, so they can get maximum enjoyment from Renault Sport’s cars in total safety.

In France, the start of sales will be on September 11th. No news though if Renault New Zealand will be bringing the Twingo here.