Drag Race: 2012 Lexus LFA vs 2010 Nissan GT-R

June 7th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The $400,000 Lexus LFA vs the Nissan GT-R – which one is the king of the JDMs.

The 2010 Cadillac CTS-V

June 3rd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The worlds fastest production sedan. 556 HP supercharged V8, 0-60 in 3.9 seconds

Hyundai ix35 CRDi Elite 2010 Review

May 31st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

So what’s new about the Hyundai ix35? Well, pretty much everything, including the name. The ix35 is an all-new model for the Korean carmaker and is set to replace the popular Tucson here, in the NZ market. The ix35 is a sheet-metal representation of Hyundai’s bold charge from bare-bones carmaker to a builder of stylish and desirable product. But even for an in-form Hyundai the compact soft roader market segment is hard fought by established competitors like Toyota’s Rav4 and the Honda CR-V. The ix35 has got the fresh-faced looks to get into the ring, but does it have the ability to come out on top. Car and SUV tag-teamed with the new ix35 CRDi Elite to test its metal and its mettle.

Penned at Hyundai’s European Design Centre in Germany the ix35 has a distinctive Euro flair to its aesthetic. Using Hyundai’s new ‘fluidic sculpture’ design language the ix35 is busy with dramatic crease lines and multi-sided shapes. Up front an aggressive grille, raked windscreen and pumped up bonnet signal dynamic intent. Swollen wheel arches and an ascending belt line dominate the profile view and out back wrap around jewel-stone tail lights and a roof spoiler finish the modern look. The Elite tested model is given added appeal by chrome work on the front grille and door handles with 18-inch 5-spoke alloys filling the guards. Overall it’s a curvaceous modern looking vehicle which will appeal nicely to image conscious buyers, it also isn’t overtly feminised — a potential hazard within the class.

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Nissan Navara ST-X refreshed for 2010 in NZ

May 31st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The Navara ST-X ute has been reworked for 2010 and even has a new badge that reads 450. This subtle badge refers to 450 Newton metres of torque meaning the latest rendition of Nissan’s ST-X ute has reclaimed a place as the most powerful and torquiest ute in the class.

The 2.5 litre turbo diesel motor which powers the 4WD model now comes with 140 kWs, a 12 kWs increase, while the torque rises from 403 Nm to 450 Nm. At the same time there are improvements in fuel economy and lower emission levels.

“With class-leading diesel power and torque, improved fuel economy, lower emissions, more safety equipment, better quality and a refreshed visual appeal, the new Navara is well-positioned to attract even more customers to its ranks,” says John Manley the Managing Director of Nissan New Zealand.

“It offers performance and equipment advantages over its closest rivals that the market will find hard to ignore, particularly versions equipped with the new high-output turbo-diesel engine,” Manley said.

The exterior and interior design has been refreshed and more luxury equipment such as dual zone climate control air conditioning plus a full complement of active and passive safety features including ESP stability control are now included.

The common rail engine was tuned by Nissan’s R&D team. The output increases are combined with decreases in economy and apparently because exhaust emissions are also reduced, refinement levels are increased.

The changes include a new direct injection system, which operates at 2000 bar, up from 1800 bar. This increase in pressure means the fuel spray is atomised to an even finer degree, resulting in more complete combustion. A new cylinder head with parallel ports increases the swirl efficiency of the combustion process, smoothing the intake and exhaust flow, while a new variable nozzle turbo (VNT) with electric control replacing the previous vacuum system.

The 2WD diesel models have also benefitted with power rising from 106 kWs to 120 kWs and the torque increasing from 356 Nm to 403 Nm.

The 198kW V6 4.0-litre petrol engine currently offered in the ST-X continues unchanged.

The Navara ST-X is available with a six speed manual gearbox or a five speed automatic, which also has a manual mode.

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Toyota Land Cruiser 200 VX 2010 Review

May 28th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The Land Cruiser 200 is the King Kong of the Toyota range, boasting all the strengths of normal SUVs but with a physical presence and brute force all its own. As a descendent of the original Japanese military spec Land Cruiser the 200 has six decades worth of dirt running through its veins. But as the Land Cruiser has matured, some badge fans have said all the new luxuries and fancy styling has distanced the LC from its mud-munching roots. So is the Land Cruiser 200 still king of the jungle, capable of thumping its chest and cutting through any terrain? Or has it become softer than a beer-bellied slug? Car and SUV spent a week on the move with the 2010 Land Cruiser 200 to find out more.

The first thing that strikes you with the 200 is its bulky presence; for NZ it’s a giant of an SUV. Over the various generations the Land Cruiser has got larger and larger and now cuts an intimidating shadow. Up front it has a wide gaping grille with wrap around halogen headlights and a flat bonnet line. Flared guards and a high waist dominate the flanks and it’s a squarer look at the rear with a split tailgate and red-jeweled lights. Luxury exterior touches include chrome bright work on the side mirrors, grille and hatch grab bar. 18-inch alloys and tinted glass finish off the look.

Climb inside and there is an impressive amount of space on offer. The dark leather seats are flat but wide and separated by a massive centre storage box/armrest. All three rows of seating get air vents and 3-point seat belts, meaning 7 occupants can travel in comfort. The third row seating offers ample headroom and decent leg room for anyone under 6-foot it also has cup holders and handgrips. The back row is side mounted and splits in half to fold away while the second row is slide and recline adjustable. With the third row stowed away there’s a huge 700-litre cargo area available.

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2010 Nissan Pathfinder goes upmarket in NZ

May 28th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Nissan’s revised Pathfinder is getting a facelift for 2010 along with a power increase and new equipment. The price will stay the same at $76,800 for the mid-sized, seven seater 4WD Sports Utility Vehicle.

Nissan has rationalised its Pathfinder range to a single high specification model based on the outgoing Ti version. It will only be available with a turbo diesel engine and a five speed automatic gearbox.

New features on the revised Pathfinder include Xenon headlights with washers, intelligent key operation, an auxiliary input for iPod operation and Bluetooth hands free phone system with the main controls on the steering wheel.

The other big change is under the bonnet where Pathfinder gets the same engine as the Navara ST-X ute with a 2.5 litre power plant. Power is up 11 percent to 140 kWs from 128 kWs and torque has risen to 47 Nm from 403 to 450 Nm. Fuel economy has been lowered by 1.3 litres per 100 kilometres to 9.0 l/100km and CO2 emissions are down 38 g/km.

Visually the Pathfinder has a new front for 2010 with a new bonnet, bigger grille and bumper which adds 80 mm to the Pathfinder’s length.

The Pathfinder’s cabin has also received attention. There’s new leather seat upholstery and chrome highlights to the instrument binnacle which receives new dials. The steering wheel boss has illuminated controls for the audio system and Bluetooth hands free phone system. The audio system itself now has a six CD in dash auto changer with an auxiliary MP3 player input jack.

The 2010 Pathfinder retains all the following standard safety features; electronic safety programme, hill descent control, hill start assist and six air bags. The ABS brakes also have brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution. All seven seats have three point belts with pretensioners and load limiters on the front seat belts which have height adjustable shoulder anchorages. There are anti intrusion door beams and front and rear crumple zones in the chassis — body in the event of an accident.

In the cabin there are also steering wheel controls for the cruise control, sound system and drive computer. The cruise control now features a Speed Limiter and the dual zone climate control air conditioning has added rear outlets, while the front leather seats have power operation. There is a sun roof with blind, 17 inch alloy wheels, side steps, front fog lights and folding door mirrors with indicator repeaters and puddle lamps.

Finally, a new colour, Black Pepper has been added to the range.

To find out more click here to visit the Nissan NZ website.

Mitsubishi Challenger Exceed 2010 Review

May 21st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

In the automotive world there are still some tough tasks waiting to be truly mastered. Like making a V8 engine that’s economical, or designing a cheap convertible sports car that isn’t labelled as a hairdressers ride. For Mitsubishi, the new mid-size SUV Challenger represents another difficult venture. Slotting into the range between the Outlander and the Pajero, the Challenger is designed to offer the elusive correct mix of soft roader comfort and cabin feel with fierce off road prowess. Car and SUV got into the all-new Challenger to see if it’s solved this complicated equation.

Visually the Challenger leaves no doubt about its off road aspirations with a chunky, tough look all round. Based on the Mitsubishi Triton’s tough ladder chassis it has a neutral ute-type stance and is tall (1,840mm) with a high ground clearance (220mm). Front-end styling is shared with the Triton but the top spec Challenger Exceed (as tested) receives chrome trim on its Mitsubishi family grille. Chrome and silver touches also feature surrounding the fog lamps, on the door handles and side mirrors, side steps, front scuff plate and17-inch alloys. Elsewhere exterior practicalities include a wide vertical-opening rear hatch, integrated roof rails and rear tinted glass. Overall, the Challenger’s ute underpinning give it the size and elevated stance of a serious off roader, it has a rugged high-waisted appeal that’s modern but not overly rounded or extravagant.

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FPV F6 E 2010 Review

May 21st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Did Dirty Harry ever wear a police uniform when following leads and cracking heads? No, he wore brown sports jackets. And did James Bond ever wear a fully camouflaged jump suit when attending a cocktail party? No he didn’t. We all knew Bond had the firepower to shoot up the place, and he often did, but why signal leery intent too early. Ford Performance Vehicles isn’t usually known for styling restraint, but has followed this low-key image concept with its new F6 E model. FPV’s regular F6 turbocharged six-cylinder machine has become a success and accounts for more than 40% of all FPV sales, but the conspicuous styling hasn’t been sweet to all tastes. Enter the F6 E that offers the same thundering performance albeit wrapped up in a bespoke suit rather than a wife-beater singlet and black jeans. Car and SUV went undercover with the F6 E to investigate further.

From the outside less is more for this sleeper-styled sedan but there are still styling clues that distance it from lesser Falcon-based models. It has the same burly front and rear bumpers as its flashy F6 brother but the ‘racoon eye’ light surrounds and black rear diffuser are now colour coded.  The rear wing from the F6 has been dropped in favour of a boot lip spoiler and the 5-spoke 19-inch alloys are finished in shadow chrome. The front grille is blacked out and there are classy chrome touches on the bonnet’s front edge, boot grab bar and framing the windows. At a glance it’s a smooth looking sedan but a closer look reveals a massive intercooler hiding behind the front air dam and huge brake rotors with bright red Brembo callipers. Like a heavyweight boxer in a tuxedo, it’s impossible to completely hide the power within.

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