Latest Road Tests and Reviews
Kiwis are waiting up to 12 months to buy the world’s first hybrid seven seat SUV – and are pre-purchasing them without a test drive in a bid to secure a vehicle. Volvo New Zealand Read More
Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) are set to receive a new more powerful V8 engine next year, and it will still be Australian assembled. With Euro IV emission controls set to come in on July 1 next year, FPV will finally retire the existing 5.4-litre Boss V8.
What is unclear at this stage is whether the new engine will be an reworked version of the current unit, which is rumoured to have exhausted its development capability, or an entire new engine. Two engines currently being developed by Ford US could form the base of the new FPV powerplant. One is a dual-overhead-cam direct-injection V8 and the other is a 6.2-litre single-overhead-cam V8 that could be converted locally to a dual overhead cam set-up. Either engine could be available in XR8 Ford models, that also requires a new or upgraded V8 to meet the mid-2010 emission standards.
The two Ford US engines may not be available in time for the mid-year FPV deadline. Either engine may require additional performance components to meet the sorts of power and torque figures being seeked by FPV.
FPV general manager Rod Barrett is keeping mum about the all-important powerplant, but has confirmed the replacement engine was under development at the company’s Campbellfield headquarters.
“We are pressing on, we have got engines here at the moment and we are currently developing our new engine which will be Euro IV on July 1,” Barrett has said. “This (existing) engine will go and there will be a new engine for us.” Mr Barrett went on to say that the engine would be unique. “I think you will be surprised when you see the engine come out,” he said.
“The engine will be hand-built over at FPV as it is now. That doesn’t mean the componentry can’t come in from somewhere else as it does now, but it will still be assembled at the engine plant.”
The big question now among staunch Ford fans is not so much about the origins of the new engine, but if it will be able to match the performance of the HSV V8 motors.
Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) are set to receive a new more powe ...
Now in its fourth generation the Mitsubishi Pajero has established itself as a true bruiser in the 4WD market. Never afraid to roll around in the mud the Pajero has taken top-honours in the Paris-Dakar Rally an epic eleven times (even though its namesake bears little resemblance to the on-road version). But durability and off-road prowess really isn’t enough anymore in a highly competitive market segment. Four-wheel-drives are now expected to offer refinement, fuel-economy and driving dynamics that can compete with increasingly popular crossover vehicles. The Pajero has been face-lifted for 2009, and is ready to go to work. Is the bullyboy still capable of beating off the competition or does off-road muscle still come at the cost of on-road manners?
A quick walk around reveals that although the classic SUV 2-box design has been retained the Pajero has been rounded and modernised but not at the cost of hardy good-looks. Elements of the Mitsubishi corporate face are reflected in the imposing front end dominated by the chrome slats that extend across the front grille. Bespoke front lights transition well into a raised bonnet. The Pajero’s side panels are rich with feature lines courtesy of thick body-coloured trim. With the facelift comes new side steps and mud guards. Wide wheel arches house 18-inch rims cloaked in 265/60R18 rubber. Out the back, Mitsubishi has continued with attaching the spare wheel to the swinging tailgate when many competitors now stow it under the body. The spare makes the tailgate heavier to deal with, but it is well secured and only slightly hinders rear-visibility. Overall the Pajero is a top looking 4WD with styling that reflects an awareness of both Mitsubishi’s current design language and its own model bloodlines.
Shift inside and the sharp design work continues with a dashboard that’s symmetrical and well laid out. Durable dark plastics mix together with chrome-like accents in a combination that’s neither too boring nor too busy. The plastics feel hardy, the centre storage bucket is large and deep, but not all storage compartments are well backed with one unable to hide the wires sitting behind it. The centre control stack has a high digital display that has dated looks but has some tricks to impress friends like a digital compass and an elevation reading, alongside trip computer functions.
The Rockford audio system sounds superb, is MP3 capable, has an in-dash 6-disc stacker, and with a rear-mounted subwoofer it’s easy to announce your arrival. Stereo controls take some getting used to but are repeated with steering wheel audio controls. Upholstery is generally soft and comfortable, but the front seats could benefit from greater lateral support. In the rear lays a third row of part-time seating that is pulled up from the floor – it’s an effort to set it up but has sash-seatbelts and is very useful for smaller passengers or children. The Exceed variant has a DVD player for the rear passengers and automatic lights and wipers added to the equipment list.
The Pajero has some smarts, but when the lunch bell rings and its time to get out into the playground, how does it go? Packed under the bonnet is an upgraded version of the 3.2L Direct Injection Common Rail Turbo Diesel power plant. Power has been kicked up from 127kW to 150kW, with torque boosted to 448Nm from 364Nm. Despite the extra power, fuel economy has also been improved with the Pajero only burning 9.2 litres per 100km combined. Towing capacity is still an impressive 3,300kg, though be aware that with the Pajero’s 3-tonne weight, if you pull anything over 1500kg you’ll need a class 2 license.
During acceleration the performance through the 5-speed automatic transmission was fair if not breathtaking. The engine offers healthy doses of mid-range torque, which are too often followed by turbo-lag before the measure is repeated. This makes the Pajero slightly jerky in its power delivery. That said, it’s still easy to drive and can keep up with general urban traffic.
The biggest disappointment from the Pajero motor isn’t in its performance (which is acceptable) but in its volume. The pre-facelift Pajero received stern criticism for this fault and Mitsubishi is quick to point out that cabin soundproofing had been improved for the 2009 model. Unfortunately it’s still too loud under normal driving conditions, when driving alone the quality stereo can drown it out, but with passengers it can be intrusive to conversations. The excessive noise serves to highlight the tranquillity of a rural destination once the engine is stopped, but it does negate the other areas of comfort that Pajero offers. Ride quality is impressive, on the firm side but generally very car-like with only serious dips and bumps being felt in the cabin. While handling is reasonable for a 3-tonne 4WD, the excellent ride quality promises a level of grip that isn’t quite delivered, and therefore care is required not to arrive at a corner 15-20kph faster than the Pajero is comfortable with. Active stability control mitigates chassis movement, but some body roll can be felt when changing direction.
Leave tarmac behind, hit the trail and any on-road roughness is traded for total mixed-terrain competence. Mitusbishi’s Super Select system makes the changes offering shifts between 2WD (rear) and 4WD high at speeds up to 100kph. Sitting underneath is one of the most comprehensive 4WD packages on the market with four-wheel independent suspension and a monocoque chassis. The Pajero is equipped with (for the acronym lovers) ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Engine Brake Assist Control (EBAC), Active Stability Control (ASC), Active Traction Control (ATC), Hill Hold Assist and a Rear Diff Lock.
The Pajero has a solid chunky feel, but if things go wrong there’s a bevy of airbags prepared for deployment. Side and front dual-stage driver and passenger airbags are fitted, plus curtain airbags.
One of the main criticisms we had with the previous model (read the review here) was the extremely intrusive traction control. This has been fixed in the current model.
There is no doubt the Pajero is an all round tough-guy in the 4WD market and styling is excellent inside and out. Smoother suspension and a more rigid body has sharpened up handling and definitely improved the ride. But the Pajero still has an old school feel, caused largely by a raucous diesel motor and inadequate soundproofing. For this reason it doesn’t feel as road focused as some of its competitors like the Ford Territory or BMW X5. There is no doubt the Pajero’s an accomplished off-roader and while it is a comfortable and usable daily driver, leaving the tarmac is the only way to really reveal its complete value.
Click through to the next page for a list of specifications
What we like:
- Exterior and interior styling
- Off-road capability
- Comfortable ride
What we don’t like:
- Noisy diesel motor
- Uneven power delivery
- Could be even more road-focused
Words and Photos, Adam Mamo
Mitsubishi Pajero Exceed (LWB) (2009) — Specifications
Displacement – cc 3,200
Bore and stroke – mm 98.5 x 105.0
Compression ratio 16.0:1
Max power (DIN) (kW/rpm) 150 @ 3,800
Max torque (DIN) (Nm/rpm) 448 @ 2,000
Fuel consumption – l/100km 9.2
CO2 – g/km 240
Dimension / weights
Overall length – mm 4,900
Overall width – mm 1,875
Overall height – mm 1,900
Cargo load space 2nd/3rd row flat (litres VDO) 1,758
Cargo load space 3rd row flat (litres VDO) 1,050
Wheel base – mm 2,780
Track front & rear – mm 1,570
Ground clearance – mm 235
Turning circle – m 11.4
Kerb weight – kg 2,345
Gross vehicle weight – kg 3,030
Towing unbraked – kg 750
Towing braked – kg 3,300
Fuel tank size – litres 88
Fuel type diesel
Approach angle – degree 36.6
Departure angle – degree 25.0
Ramp breakover angle – degree 22.5
5 Speed automatic with sports mode
Super select 4WD with 2 speed transfer
Final gear ratio 3.917
Rear differential lock
Front suspension – double wish bone with coil spring & stabiliser bar
Rear suspension – multi link coil spring with stabiliser bar
Now in its fourth generation the Mitsubishi Pajero has established ...
With the rumour mill working in overtime about the new 2010 Subaru Legacy, it’s now expected to make its debut at the New York Auto Show next month. The new Legacy will take several design cues from the concept car (pictured) shown in Detroit, including yet another nose-job that’s likely to filter through to the rest of the Subaru line-up in the coming years.
Apparently, the 2010 model will be available with a four-cylinder (likely a 2.5-litre with a upgraded turbo), with a choice of either a six-speed manual or a CVT gearbox. GT Premium and Limited trims will be available, along with an electric parking brake, 18-inch wheels, six new colors, iPod interface and Bluetooth connectivity. A double-wishbone suspension is expected to be fitted at the rear and cargo capacity is expected to grow substantially. Also, it’s rumored that both the new Legacy and Outback will be 3.6-inches wider than the outgoing model, with an additional four inches of rear-seat legroom but theres no word yet on total length.
If the 2010 Subaru Legacy does appear at the New York show, expect global sales to begin later in the year, with the Outback model following shortly thereafter.
With the rumour mill working in overtime about the new 2010 Subaru ...
Over the last few decades, automakers have made massive leaps forward in addressing safety issues, initially for front seat occupants and more recently for those in the back. Three point seat-belts are now almost universal for backseat passengers, as are head restraints. Curtain airbags are also becoming standard issue in most cars to provide extra protection when the car is impacted from the side. But there were still many injuries from rear seat occupants impacting into eachother in a collision.
Toyota has attempted to solve this by devising a new centre position rear air bag that deploys from a roof mounted console. The new bag deploys from the ceiling during a side impact to minimise injuries that can occur as one occupant is thrown into the other. Presumably the bag does not deploy if someone is actually occupying the centre position in the rear, because that could go all bad.
Toyota reports that this new bag will debut this year on a domestic market Toyota vehicle.
Over the last few decades, automakers have made massive leaps forw ...
The first production examples of the Lotus Evora have now kicked off with its aluminum chassis being fabricated at Lotus Lightweight Structures in Worcester, UK and final assembly taking place at Lotus’ Hethel factory. With the first cars scheduled for customer delivery in May, Lotus has released content lists for the Evora. The 276-hp Toyota-sourced 3.5-litre V6 with a 6-speed manual gearbox is standard. A close-ratio version of the gearbox will be available as an option. Cast 18-inch front and 19-inch rear alloys wrapped with Yokohama Advan Sport LTS rubber are the standard fitment, while forged wheels are available for a bit extra.
Other extra options include bi-xenon lights, power folding mirrors and body color door handles. The Evora can also be ordered with Tech, Sport and Premium packages that group the usual assortment of audio, navigation and interior trim upgrades together. The Sport pack also provides a switch that enables sharper throttle response and more slip from the traction control system, combined with other performance enhancements.
Lotus is planning to boost Evora production up to 34 units per week by July, assuming of course that there is sufficient demand.
The first production examples of the Lotus Evora have now kicked o ...
Holden’s VE Sportwagon has become the first Australian made wagon to receive a maximum five star safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).
The result reflects the long list of safety features found standard across the VE Sportwagon range including six airbags, rear park assist and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) which incorporates Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Electronic Brake Assist (EBA) and Traction Control System (TCS).
The Sportwagon range also has a steering column shroud energy absorber that helps to reduce driver knee injuries. The Omega model features a passenger seat belt reminder.
Holden New Zealand Managing Director Simon Carr said Holden had always been very confident in this vehicle’s real world safety capabilities.
“As a family car there should be no compromise in safety and the ANCAP endorsement is a very clear indication that with Sportwagon there is no such thing.”
GM Holden is committed to making the passenger seat belt reminder feature standard across the VE range from mid 2009 production.
Click here to read a road test of the Holden Calais Sportwagon
Click here to read a road test of the HSV R8 Tourer
Holden’s VE Sportwagon has become the first Australian made ...
After much rumour and anticipation it’s finally arrived: The Lamborghini Murcielago LP 670-4 SuperVeloce. Lamborghini has just released official info and pics on its latest mighty Murc, and this one sits up top. The LP 670-4 SuperVeloce is described by Lamborghini as “exceptionally purist”. The description fits as the LP 670-4 SV is more powerful, lighter and faster than the LP-640. As its name suggests, the LP 670-4 SV sees an increase in power to 670 hp and 487 lb-ft of torque from Lambo’s 6.5L V12, all of which was achieved by optimising the engine’s valve timing and tweaking the air intake system.
Combine the extra power with a weight decrease of 100 kg and performance figures begin to fall fast. 0-100 kph is now achieved in just 3.2 seconds and top speed is 341 kph with the standard, small spoiler. A larger “Aeropack Wing” offering more downforce is also available, but the additional drag drops top speed slightly.
The LP 670-4 doesn’t look like your average Murcielago. Up front the air intakes have been made larger for better brake cooling and the front spoiler extends much further out. The new engine cover features three hexagonal transparent polymer plates supported by a carbon fibre framework. The interior has also been upholstered entirely in Alcantara and features stitching that matches the exterior color of the car.
You can’t argue with a car that’s faster, lighter and more powerful than its predecessors, and the Lamborghini LP 670-4 SuperVeloce does all that and then some.
After much rumour and anticipation it's finally arrived: The Lamborghi ...
Just a few days ago, it was officially announced that Nissan would be heading back to the Green Hell a.k.a Nurburgring in an attempt to better the GT-R’s 7 minute, 29 second lap time. Now it looks like the company isn’t just out for personal improvement. Rather, Nissan is seeking total domination. A car magazine recently got some interview time with Chief Test Driver Toshio Suzuki. What does he have to say about heading back to Germany, complete with a 2010 Series II GT-R? Suzuki and the top brass at Nissan claim they’re aiming for Corvette ZR1-bettering times, which means at least a 7 minute, 26 second run.
Nissan fans are hoping for something in the 7:20 to 7:22 range. While that’s not impossible, it is very optimistic. Dropping nine seconds off a lap time at the ‘Ring’ would usually takes more than 5 extra horsepower and slightly stickier tires. All that’s missing now is Porsche to get involved and round two of the Porsche vs Nissan spat could flare up again.
Just a few days ago, it was officially announced that Nissan would ...