News: Ford Falcon is NZ Car of the Year

Ford Falcon XR8 FG fq

The latest FG-series Ford Falcon has been judged New Zealand’s Car of the Year by the country’s leading motoring writers and broadcasters.

The FG-series Falcon, which was launched in mid-2008, is the first iteration of the long-standing Falcon family to have won New Zealand’s top automotive accolade.

In reaching their decision, members of the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild gave consideration to the wide range of Falcon variants — from the standard saloon models to the high-performance FPV derivatives.

As well as performance and handling, the facets under consideration included suitability for the task for which Falcon was designed, its value for money, ease of operation, economy, along with its level of home comforts, quality of finish, safety accoutrements and visual appeal.

“It is worth noting that the Falcon’s win is quite an achievement when you consider it was designed and built on a much tighter budget than any of the world cars which were also finalists,” said Guild president Jacqui Madelin.

Unlike ‘world’ or European awards, the NZ Car of the Year judges cars across a broad range of local conditions.

“A major point of difference with this award is that it embodies the opinions of professionals in their field from across the country, each of whom has assessed the car on roads in their own region,” Madelin said.

“The car that comes out winner must, therefore, excel from many different perspectives, and in a range of Kiwi-specific conditions.The FG-series Falcon does that, but is also noteworthy in other respects; it is, for example, the first Australian- designed -and -built car to achieve the maximum five star occupant protection rating in ANCAP crash testing.”

The FG-series Falcon was one of nine finalists for this year’s New Zealand Car of the Year award, which is open to new models launched in New Zealand during the 12 months prior to 1 November 2008. The others were the Fiat 500, Honda Accord Euro, Hyundai i30, Jaguar XF, Mazda 6, Nissan X-Trail, Subaru Forester and Volkswagen Tiguan.

In our own Car and SUV survey which has received votes from the public, the Ford Falcon has dominated the competition with 30% of the total votes.

Recent past winners of the title, which is now in its 21st year, have been the Mazda 2 (2007), Porsche Cayman (2006), and Mazda MX-5 (2005).

In recognition of the FG Falcon’s title win, Ford New Zealand will be awarded the Peter Greenslade Trophy, named after the now deceased motoring editor of The Press in Christchurch, who was one of the instigators of the Car of the Year award in the late 1980s.

Click here to read a road test of the FG-series XR8 Falcon

Click here to read a road test of the FG-series G6 Falcon

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News: Toyoda grandson to take charge at Toyota

The Associated Press is reporting that Toyota will once again have a Toyoda running the company. Akio Toyoda, the 52-year-old grandson of Toyota Motor Corp’s founder, Kiichiro Toyoda, is reportedly about to be voted in by the board. If everything goes to plan, he will officially take over the presidency in June. It will be the first time in 14 years that a Toyoda will lead the company. Akio is known for being a lot more laid-back than the typical Japanese executive, which may go some way to rejuvenating the company.

Current president Katsuaki Watanabe is on his way out as Toyota faces its first projected operating loss in the company’s 70-year history. Toyota sales have slumped and the automaker has had to cut production and lay off temporary workers. Although Toyota remains predictably tight-lipped on the move, it’s expected that Watanabe will become a vice chairman, with current chairman Fujio Cho keeping that position. Toyoda has been an executive vice president since 2005, so will be well prepared for the job.

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News: Holden Commodore is Australia’s best selling vehicle for 2008

Holden Commodore 2008 fq

For Holden 2008 brought good-news and bad-news, the Commodore has once again won the title of Australia’s best-selling vehicle. With this announcement, the Australian arm of General Motors has extended the Commodore’s run as best seller to 13 years straight. That’s the good news part. The bad news is that the 51,093 sales in 2008 are the model’s lowest total since it first debuted in 1978.

Australia’s second-best-seller is the Toyota Corolla, and the small car put up a very strong fight to wrest the title from Holden. There were a few main factors that helped retain the crown for the Commodore, including the introduction of the Sportwagon bodystyle and the October launch of Holden’s $29,990 (AUS dollars) driveaway deal. Fuel prices also dropped towards the end of the year, and that likely helped swing the momentum back towards the Holden from the more fuel efficient Corolla. The Commodore vs Corolla battle is set to rage again in 2009.

For Holden 2008 brought good-news and bad-news, the Commodore has ...

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News: New Subaru Legacy concept goes to Detroit

Subaru Legacy concept fq

The Detroit Auto Show is now under way over in the States with concept cars being eagerly shown off. Sitting among the legions of American metal is the latest incarnation of the Subaru Legacy. The new Legacy concept is sporting what is likely to be the new face of the Legacy, complete with funky-shaped headlamp lenses and a burly new nose. According to Subaru, that paint colour is called “Ultimate Silver” and the overall design theme is “High Definition,” for what that’s worth. Power comes from the automaker’s 3.6L six-cylinder boxer engine mated to an AWD system.

Inside, it’s loaded with technology, with a multitude of displays available to the four occupants, including the driver. The instrument panel gets a multifunction touchscreen display instead of a traditional centre control stack and super small side mirrors house cameras that display the cars side view in the rear view mirror. Rear passengers get their headrest-mounted LCD screens and their own touchscreen control interface. Away from the obvious show-car technology, the basic shape and interior layout are likely to make it into the production car when it is eventually debuted.

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Road Tests / Car Reviews: Suzuki Grand Vitara Ltd 2008 Review


It was in the paper recently that Australians are being encouraged to eat camel meat. From an initial 6000 that originally trekked the north-south route through Australia in the late 19th Century, and helped build Australia’s great railway, the Ghan, the population has swelled to between 700,000 and a million — those camels sure like getting it ‘on’ in the stinking hot weather more than us humans do.

And to a chorus of ‘speak for yourself’ I proffer my next astute observation: if each camel is holding an average of 100 litres of water in its body (they’re known to drink up to 70 litres at a time and that’s all stored in the blood, not the hump as some people believe), that’s 100,000,000 litres of water walking around in belching, flatulating quadrupeds. That sounds like a huge amount, and it is — it’s 40 Olympic swimming pools’ worth — a small lake!

Why am I telling you this? Suzuki flew a batch of us journalists out to Ayers Rock and the surrounds to sample the new Grand Vitara in something a bit more challenging than the traffic-calming chicanes of Grey Lynn. It was a choking haze of red dust kicked up by our convoy of Grand Vitaras that concealed frequent salvos of cunningly place ruts in the arid landscape. Add into the mix a landscape that doesn’t vary significantly for several hundred kilometres, spattered with termite mounds and prickly Spinifex grass, it is anything but lush, the vegetation grasping for life and sipping through a very narrow straw.

Life’s tough in the outback, and therefore a good metaphor for the Grand Vitara. It is undoubtedly better than the previous model — especially the longer wheelbase version that’s our current test car. I drove all the models on some moderately challenging terrain. Only once did it fail to get up a slope, and that was on road tyres with an angle that made me think twice about attempting it.

But it’s not the ruggedness that will appeal to most Grand Vitara purchasers — it’s the comfort levels, fuel economy and safety. Fortunately these have also been improved. The new Vitara drives more like a car — not quite like a car, but not far off. This means it’s more stable through the corners, and the short wheelbase version doesn’t pitch so much on bumpy roads. The five-door long wheelbase version (like our test car), is the one to go for, though, with the 2.4-litre VVT four-cylinder engine. It’s gruntier than the previous car, shovelling 122kW of power through all four wheels. This new engine is mated to the four-speed automatic gearbox from the previous model. The engine range is said by Suzuki to be quieter than before, with the V6 showing a 2dB reduction in volume. Suzuki will tell you it’s significant, but 3dB is considered the threshold at which people notice a change in volume, so it’s probably only significant over very long journeys where noise fatigue would become an issue.

Electronic stability control is standard, as is six airbags, ventilated disk brakes all round, and cruise control. A useful function (which also makes the Grand Vitara a proper four-wheel drive) is the locking differential and low-range ratios so you can really get axle deep in the sand. The V6 Ltd top-of-the-range model also features a hill descent mode, which we put to good use on a steep off-road track in the outback.

Passengers are accommodated nicely. There’s enough room for five people without too much problem, and a substantial boot which also features a marsupial-like hidden pouch in the floor so that you can put items like a laptop out of view.

This 2.4-litre Ltd version gets leather trim, a sunroof, mirror-mounted side indicators and a seven-speaker (plus subwoofer) sound system. In the hot desert sun, you’ll welcome the climate control air conditioning. The information display has been moved from the centre console into the instrument cluster – making it easier to keep an eye on instantaneous fuel consumption, average fuel consumption, driving range, temperature, trip meters or average speed – and freeing up some room in the dash for a centre speaker

Where the long wheelbase model excels is over the rutted roads. At one point, on an unrestricted road, we were going one hundred. Miles per hour. The Grand Vitara felt almost like Luke Skywalker’s Land Speeder in the arid Tatooine gliding unflustered over the corrugations. Fortunately there were no Womp Rats to worry about (Star Wars in-joke), and we just had to pay attention for kangaroos, and the aforementioned camels.

Except that in my whole time there, and despite taking a helicopter trip and keeping my eyes metaphorically peeled, I did not see one camel. I consoled myself with the fact that the Grand Vitara is an enjoyable drive, even on less-than-ideal roads, and that despite my disappointment, I wouldn’t get the hump.

Suzuki pretty much initiated the compact SUV segment, but it now has to contend with the likes of Honda’s CR-V and Toyota’s RAV4, both of which are excellent competitors. With a slightly better price and a good specification, Suzuki is proving it offers the value for money required in today’s market.

Click through to the next page to read the full specifications of the Suzuki Grand Vitara range.

Price: $40,400 (2.4-litre Ltd)

What we like

  • At this price, it’s great value
  • It’s better than the previous model

What we don’t like

  • Still a bit of body roll
COMFORT 2.0 JLX 2.4 JLX 2.4 Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Power steering O
Electric windows & exterior mirrors O
Remote central door locking O
Keyless entry, keyless start & security system O O O
4 speaker CD audio system O O O
7 speaker 6 CD audio system with subwoofer O O
Illuminated steering wheel audio controls O
Climate control air conditioning O
Electronic slide/tilt sunroof O O
Cruise control O O O O
INSTRUMENT PANEL 2.0 JLX 2.4 JLX 2.4 Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Tachometer O
Digital clock & outside temperature gauge O
Fuel consumption display O
Lights-off reminder O
Door ajar & low fuel warning lights O
Digital tripmeter O
INTERIOR 2.0 JLX 2.4 JLX 2.4 Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Height adjustable steering wheel Urethane Urethane Leather Leather Urethane
Interior garnishes Silver Silver Silver/wood Silver/wood Silver
Map lights O
3 position cabin light with fade O
Sunvisor with vanity mirror & ticketholder x 2 O
Sunvisor slide-out shade extension O
Seat lifter – driver’s side O
Reclining & sliding front seats O
Detachable head restraints – front & rear O
Seat material Fabric Fabric Leather Leather Fabric
Reclining & tumble-folding rear seats 60/40 O
Assist grips / coat hooks O
Driver’s footrest O
Remote fuel lid opener O
Cupholders 6
Overhead console with sunglasses storage O O O
Lockable glovebox O
Console box with storage / storage pockets O
Underfloor storage compartment & toolbox O
Rear luggage cover O
EXTERIOR 2.0 JLX 2.4 JLX 2.4 Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Green tinted glass O
Multi-reflect plus halogen projector  headlamps O O O O
Self-levelling high density discharge headlamps O
Auto-activating headlamps with washers O
Front fog lamps O O
Integrated door mirror turn signals O O O
2 speed & variable intermittent wipers/washer O
Rear window defogger/wiper/washer O
Roof rails O
Spare tyre cover Full cover
Wheels Alloy
SAFETY 2.0 JLX 2.4 JLX 2.4 Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
4 mode 4WD O
SRS front dual airbags O
SRS side and curtain airbags O
ABS with EBD and brake assist O
Electronic stability programme (ESP®) O
Hill hold and descent control O
Decoupling brake pedal mechanism O
Collapsible steering column O
Front seatbelts – ELR with pre-tensioners & force limiters O
Rear seatbelts – 3-point ELR x 3 O
Height adjustable front seat belt anchors O
ISO FIX child seat anchorage x 2 O
Child seat tether anchorages x 2 O
Engine immobiliser O
Side impact beams O
High-mounted stop lamp O
DIMENSIONS 2.0 Manual 2.0 Auto 2.4 JLX / Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Overall length mm 4500
Overall width mm 1810
Overall height mm 1695
Wheelbase mm 2640
Tread Front mm 1540
Track Rear mm 1570
Ground Clearance mm 200
Minimum turning radius m 5.5
Approach angle deg 29
Ramp breakover angle deg 19
Departure angle deg 27
WEIGHTS 2.0 Manual 2.0 Auto 2.4 JLX / Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Curb weight kg 1575 1590 1620/1670 1753 1660
Gross vehicle weight kg 2100 2170
Braked towing capacity kg 1850 1700 2000
ENGINE 2.0 Manual 2.0 Auto 2.4 JLX / Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Type J20A J24B N32A F9Q
Cylinders 4 6 4
Number of valves 16 16, WT 24, WT 8
Displacement cc 1995 2393 3195 1870
Bore x stroke mm 84.0 x 90.0 92.0 x 90.0 89.0 x 85.6 80.0 x 93.0
Compression ratio 10.5 : 1 10.0 : 1 17.0 :1
Maximum Output (EEC net) Kw/rpm 103/6000 122/6000 165/6200 95/3750
Maximum Torque (EEC net) Nm/rpm 183/4000 225/4000 284/3500 300/2000
Fuel distribution Multi-point injection Direct injection
Fuel consumption – Combined (L/100km) 8.8 9.1 9.9 10.5 7.0
CO2 emissions (g/km) 199 210 234 249 185
TRANSMISSION 2.0 Manual 2.0 Auto 2.4 JLX / Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Drive system 4-mode full time 4×4
Type 5-speed 4-stage electronic 5-stage electronic 5-speed
Gear ratio 1st 4.545 2.826 2.826 3.520 3.854
2nd 2.354 1.493 1.493 2.043 2.135
3rd 1.695 1.000 1.000 1.401 1.411
4th 1.242 0.688 0.688 1.000 1.000
5th 1.000 0.717 0.784
Reverse 4.431 2.703 2.703 3.224 3.854
Final gear ratio Diff 4.100 5.125 5.125 3.583 4.300
Transfer gear ratio High 1.000
Low 1.970
CHASSIS 2.0 Manual 2.0 Auto 2.4 JLX / Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Power assisted Steering Rack & pinion
Suspension Front MacPherson strut & coil spring
Rear Independent multi-link & coil spring
Brakes Front Ventilated disc
Rear Ventilated disc
Tyres 225/70R16 225/65R17 225/60R18 (Ltd) 225/60R18 225/65R17
CAPACITY 2.0 Manual 2.0 Auto 2.4 JLX / Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Seating 5
Fuel tank Litres 66
Fuel type 95 RON 91 RON Diesel
Luggage capacity Max Volume (litres) 1386
Seats raised (VDA method) (litres) 398
Seats tumbled (VDA method) (litres)

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

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Nissan: Nissan Tiida Sport 2008 Review

When killing time in front of the television I occasionally stumble across a reality TV show named Wife Swap, where two wives/mothers are taken from their homes and well¦ swapped. The effects of this are always suitably dramatic as a household has to adapt to an all-new matriarchal style. With its new Tiida, Nissan has pulled a wife swap of its own by retiring the Pulsar and swapping it for the unfamiliar Tiida. The Pulsar was an evergreen favorite on our streets for over two decades and was the type of reliable car passed around families and always trusted with a heavy workload. Now, the Pulsar is gone and has left behind some large high-heels for the new mistress to fill.

One look from any angle reveals that the Tiida has some styling charm, but falls short of being totally gorgeous. Strong lines and sharp angles give the Tiida an almost manic appearance. But with its split grille and intricate light-clusters front and back the Tiida could never be accused of being plain. The quirky styling has an obvious European flavour courtesy of co-development between Nissan and French partner Renault. The wheelbase has been lengthened by 65mm over the Pulsar and the Tiida sits noticeably taller resulting in a huge interior space for its class. Another benefit of the new form is fantastic aerodynamics that help attain an impressive 7.6L/100km fuel economy.  Overall the exterior is modern with a strong sense of style if not quite the wow factor really needed at the meet and greet stage.

Step inside and the extroverted exterior is quickly forgotten, replaced by an understated and refined cabin. Grey/black matte plastics mingle with touches of metal-look silver to provide a warm relaxed atmosphere. Dash layout is intuitive and user friendly, the instrument dials are large, separately housed and easily read. Fit and finish is strong with a feeling of quality to all touch surfaces and moving parts. The class-leading interior spaciousness manifests itself in generous headroom and a comfortable seating layout. Front seats are wide and supportive and the rear bench is capable of seating three adults without the banging-elbow discomfort that often plagues small cars. The middle rear seat is equipped only with an out-of-favour lap belt, which may put off the safety conscious. The driving position is elevated and up right which adds to the good visibility created by generous windows. The rear hatch has a large, well-shaped loading area, and the rear seat back has a useful 60/40 split to increase luggage capacity. The Tiida’s interior is very comfortable, well positioned and potentially hardwearing making it a match for the Pulsars practicality.

When faced with the daily chores the Tiida gets the job done, its 1.8-litre 16-valve DOHC four-cylinder produces 93kW and 174Nm or torque. The engine is flexible round town but has little true pace. That said, it feels comfortable in the low-rev range and is a capable motorway cruiser. The four-speed automatic transmission has a smooth shift action and remains attentive, but can be guilty of shifting up prematurely and robbing the driver of an edge more performance.

The Tiida is equipped with an electric power steering system that is light and razor sharp if not entirely consistent with the vehicles overall relaxed driver experience. Generally the Tiida’s handling characteristics are sound with ample grip in most conditions and minimal understeer when pushed hard. There is an acceptable level of body roll, which is a negative effect from the Tiida’s tall stance and accented further by the elevated driving position. Pliant suspension keeps the Tiida honest over bumps and uneven road surfaces, but it’s a firm set-up and not ideal on gravel or loose roads. The Tiida is a refined, no fuss, and predictable car to drive and unlike an episode of Wife Swap there are no dramas.

The Tiida brings a good standard equipment level for its $29,450 price tag, ABS brakes with EBD (electronic brake force distribution), seat belt pretensioners, air-con, keyless entry, and a CD stereo. The Sport variant is dolled up with a rear roof spoiler and alloy wheels.

It may take a while to forget the Nissan Pulsar but the Tiida is a worthy replacement with a character all its own. There are strong hints of French styling and European refinement, leaving no doubt that the Tiida is born from Nissan’s marriage to Renault. If you’re after a true sports hatch with power and dynamic handling, you will have to look elsewhere. If you’re in the market for a highly practical, spacious, easy to drive car with a touch of flair and a good price then accept the Tiida into your family for its merits and don’t look back.

Click through to the next page for a list of Nissan Tiida Sport specifications

Price: $29,450

What we like:

  • Spacious, refined interior
  • Precise steering
  • Easy to drive

What we don’t like:

  • Over styled exterior
  • Body roll
  • Underpowered

Words and Photos Adam Mamo

Nissan Tiida Sport (2008) – Specifications


DOHC 16 valve with CVTC
Capacity (cc) 1797
Max power kW@rpm 93@5,200
Max torque Nm@rpm 174@4,800
Bore x stroke (mm) 84.0 x 81.1
Compression ratio 9.9
Emission control — 3 way catalytic converter
Induction — sequential multi-point fuel injection
Fuel tank capacity (litres) 52
Recommended fuel — unleaded 91 RON or higher
Fuel Consumption (litres/100km) to ADR 81/01excl. 7.8
CO2 Emission (g/km) LTNZ Standard Manual 174 Automatic 178
Emission Compliance Standard Euro 3

Suspension & Steering

Front — independent McPherson struts with stabiliser bar
Rear — Torsion bar with coil springs
Steering system — power assisted, rack and pinion
Turning circle (m) 10.4


Power assisted front discs
Rear drums
Anti-locking brake system (ABS)
Electronic distribution (EBD)
Brake assist (BA


Wheelbase (mm) 2600
Overall length (mm) 4205
Overall width (mm) 1695
Overall height (mm) 1535
Track Front/Rear (mm) 1480/1485
Ground clearance 115
Tare weight unladen (kg) (manual/automatic) 1120/1136
Towing Capacity (braked/unbraked trailer) (kg) 1000/600
Luggage capacity (l) 289

When killing time in front of the television I occasionally stumbl ...

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Road Tests / Car Reviews: Toyota Aurion AT-X 2008 Review


What do you get when you put together 4 friends, camping equipment, 1 chilly bin a few dozen beers, fireworks, sleeping bags and a trip up to Pakiri beach planned? You don’t just have all the means for a great weekend away, you also have the basis for a full test of a large car’s ability. On this mission the Toyota Aurion AT-X was to play the roles of transporter, guardian and entertainer for the journey ahead.

Prior to departure I glanced over the Aurion before the dust and road dirt would steal its city-shine. In styling the Aurion makes little attempt to mask its large proportions. Like a tuxedo-wearing bouncer the Aurion is muscular but well dressed. Built on the Camry platform the Aurion was gifted a new head and tail, and this works well achieving a flat, fluent look throughout. Neutral in stance and clean cut at the front, the rear styling shows more flair; a sloping rear windscreen leads down into a high boot line that houses two wrap-around rear lights a chunky bumper and twin oval exhaust pipes that hint at the Aurion’s performance capabilities. A final check over the 16-inch rims and Dunlop Sport tyres, and we were clear to load the Aurion up.

Fitting all the gear into the Aurion was its first challenge. The boot is voluminous and had a good shape that pushed fairly far into the cabin, however, the opening was quite small with larger items requiring some jiggling to fit through and some old-fashioned interior boot hinges intruded on available space. But the Aurion’s boot was big enough to swallow up our gear leaving the cabin free for passengers only.

The Aurion feels like a large car inside but despite good legroom front and rear, feels like it’s unable to match the Commodores or Falcons. The cabin is basic and smart with dark cloth and thick black plastics. The contrasting bright-silver plastic is relentless climbing up the centre stack and infecting elsewhere. Drivers seat is electronically adjustable – it could use more lateral support, but was wide and comfortable for the journey. The instruments are easily read and illuminate well; the air-con and stereo controls are simple and functional. Interior storage options are bountiful and everyone found prime positions for water bottles, sunglasses and paperbacks.

Time to make tracks and find out if the Aurion has some go to match its show. The 3.5-litre 24-valve V6 is a beastly six-cylinder smacking out 200kW of power and 336 Nm of torque, this is good enough to take the Aurion from standing to 100kmh in mid 7-second territory. Maximum torque isn’t available until 4700rpm so low-down performance can seem lazy, but that’s quickly forgotten once the revs start climbing. With class-leading fuel economy figures of 9.9L/100km and a 70-litre fuel tank I knew no petrol stops would be required. Once we’d left the traffic lights of Auckland behind, the Aurion proved itself as a legit open road gladiator with passing lanes its Colosseum. Power was effortless and smoothly delivered with the growling V6 unafraid of exploring the upper limits of its rev range. It could do all this while still being quiet and comfortable enough to accommodate some rear passenger napping mid-journey.

We made the turn at Warkworth from SH 1 to more twisting roads, for the Aurion’s final test before we reached our destination. Well mannered through the turns the Aurion couldn’t quite mask its size in terms of agility. Grip was solid with the Aurion only showing a hint of understeer when pushed. Steering was precise and even offered some feedback on bumpy corners. The Aurion’s front-wheel drive status is a point of difference with its competitors, but it pulled itself well through the bends despite the heavy motor sitting over the driving wheels. As the roads tightened further and sweeping corners changed into hairpins the Aurion’s gearbox occasionally proved too eager to shift up a gear and had to drop itself back down to keep up momentum. That said, in regular driving situations the gearbox is very good at making the most of the engine with closely spaced ratios. There is also a manual override on the automatic transmission that makes holding the vehicle in a specific gear simple. The final few miles of the trip were done on gravel roads the Aurion’s ride was absorbent and had no issues keeping good grip.

Getting to our destination was a success, but if we encountered any bad luck along the way, the Aurion is guarded with an armoury of safety features. Six airbags, traction control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force and brake assist are included as standard. An impressive equipment list for an entry-level variant.

Aurion means tomorrow in Greek, and as the sun set on Pakiri beach I knew that the next day’s return trip would be easily gobbled up by the large Toyota. Around town, motorways, twisty open roads and even gravel, the Aurion proved itself a capable, comfortable no-nonsense worker far more content with cruising along on straight roads than being thrown through tight corners. With solid Toyota build quality the Aurion should seldom need attention and will fight to the bitter end.

Click through to the next page for a full list of specifications

Price: from $43,990

What we like:

  • Safety features
  • Raw power
  • Balanced and comfortable ride
  • Good economy for engine size

What we don’t like:

  • Interior colour scheme
  • Premature gearbox up-shifts

Words Adam Mamo Photos Darren Cottingham

Toyota Aurion AT-X (2008) – Specifications


Brief Description V6, 24 Valve, DOHC, Chain Drive with Dual VVT-i
Aspiration Normal
Location Front
Capacity 3456 cc
Engine Size 3.5 litre
Bore 94.0 mm
Stroke 83.0 mm
Compression Ratio 10.8 1
Number of Cylinders 6
Number of Valves 24
Max. Power 204 kW
Max. Power Max. 6200 rpm
Max. Torque 346 Nm
Max. Torque Max. 4700 rpm

Fuel System

Induction Type Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI)
Fuel Type Petrol
Tank Capacity 70 Litres
Octane Rating 91 Unleaded
Emission Control Standard Euro IV
Fuel Consumption – ADR 81/01 (Combined) 9.9 L/100km
CO2 Emissions – ADR 81/01 233 g/km


Front MacPherson struts and stabiliser bar;  Front suspension tower brace
Rear Dual link strut and hollow stabiliser bar


Description Engine speed sensitive power-assisted rack and pinion steering
Ratio Max. 16.0
Min. Turning Circle (Tyre) 11 m
Turns Lock to Lock 3.2

Wheels and Tyres

Wheels 6.5JJ x 16″ Alloy Wheels
Tyres 215/60 R16 steel belted radial ply tyres
Spare Wheel 6.5JJ x 16″ Steel Wheel
Tyre Brand Dunlop: SP Sport 300 E Michelin


Overall Length 4825 mm
Overall Width 1820 mm
Overall Height – Max. 1470 mm
Wheelbase 2775 mm
Track – Front 1575 mm
Track – Rear 1565 mm
Overhang – Front 965 mm
Overhang – Rear 1085 mm
Minimum Running Ground Clearance 150 mm
Interior Length 2130 mm
Interior Width 1525 mm
Interior Height 1200 mm
Seating Capacity 5
Luggage Capacity (VDA) 504 L
Gross Vehicle Weight 2110 kg
Kerb Weight 1585-1590 kg
Max. Towing Capacity Braked 1600 kg
Max. Towing Capacity Unbraked 500 kg
Max. Download on Towball 160 kg

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News: New transparent pricing for Ford Territory in New Zealand


Ford Territory now joins Mondeo, Focus and Falcon in using the Ford Transparent Pricing strategy. Pricing of the award winning SUV is now structured in a way that provides greater transparency so the recommended retail price is a more realistic reflection of what the customer will actually pay for the vehicle.

The new prices for Territory product are:

Territory TX RWD $42,990
Territory TX AWD $48,490
Territory TS AWD $51,990
Territory Ghia AWD $57,990
Territory Ghia Turbo AWD $63,990

This pricing strategy was initially applied to the new Ford Mondeo on its introduction to the New Zealand market in late 2007 and then to the Focus and Falcon following their product launches in June this year. It has been well received by dealers and consumers and the next step of rolling out the structure is to apply it to the Territory, says Richard Matheson, Managing Director of Ford New Zealand.

“The application of this pricing structure to the Mondeo was really just a test. But it has been embraced by the dealer network and consumers and the introduction of the new Falcon and Focus this year provided the perfect opportunity to extend the structure to other product,” says Matheson.

“We believe the time is right to now apply the pricing structure to the Territory. In doing so, we are creating a less complicated, more positive sales experience that gives customers the best possible value up front.

Ford Territory now joins Mondeo, Focus and Falcon in using the For ...

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