2011 Hyundai Elantra REview

June 17th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Hyundai NZ launched its all new Elantra compact sedan at a press event, held at the Fieldays show, yesterday. The Elantra comes with big expectations for Hyundai but the high hopes seem justified – because the 2011 Elantra is a solid all-round package.

Hyundai hopes to install the Elantra as New Zealand’s number one selling compact sedan, but does it really have what it takes to match Holden’s much-improved Cruze or established competitors like the Mazda3? Car and SUV got some seat time in the new Elantra to find out more.

The Elantra goes on sale in three trim levels A6, A6 Elite and A6 Elite Limited. The entry model Elantra A6 comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, cloth interior trim, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and audio streaming, six speaker stereo with iPod inputs, steering wheel audio controls, manual air conditioning and cruise control. It carries a price tag of $35,990.

The A6 Elite model adds 17-inch alloy wheels, full leather interior with electric drivers’ seat, keyless entry and start, a subwoofer for the stereo, dual-zone climate control, reversing sensors, heated seats front and rear, and rain-sensing wipers. The well-equipped Elantra Elite is priced at $39,990. Continue reading “2011 Hyundai Elantra REview” »

Lexus IS350 2011 Review

May 6th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

In 1989 Toyota decided to create its Lexus premium division and many fans of the dominant European brands scoffed in unison. They wondered and doubted exactly how Lexus would develop class overnight. But Lexus was running a different playbook and knew that class would come with time, what it needed from the offset was character. It’s this distinctive character that has charmed many buyers over the years including those who purchased the popular second generation IS250. But as elegant, distinctive and well appointed as the IS250 is, for some it just didn’t pack a sluggers punch in terms of performance. Lexus recognised the opportunity to introduce a more powerful IS model and now the better-endowed IS350 has reached NZ shores. With a larger engine and two specification levels the IS350 is cutting a new edge into Lexus’ character. Car and SUV took a drive in both the IS350 Limited and F-Sport to experience their charms first hand.

Under the bonnet both IS350 variants are the same, sporting a longitudinally mounted 3.5-litre V6 engine. While many performance-focused machines are now turbocharged this V6 stays naturally aspirated and has a suitably smooth feel. It’s strong too, utilising tech like direct and port injection to achieve a power output of 233kW with 378Nm of torque. That’s good enough to take the IS350 from standing to 100kph in just 5.6 seconds and it feels every bit as rapid as this figure would suggest. It’s a far angrier and more purposeful machine than its IS250 stablemate and with 80kW more power and a full litre more displacement, visual appearance is the only characteristic the two IS models share. Continue reading “Lexus IS350 2011 Review” »

Toyota HiAce ZX 2011 Review

May 6th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

While a dog might be a man’s best friend and diamonds a girl’s for any tradesman it’s a good van that plays the role of best buddy. Interior space, comfort, practicality and most importantly reliability are all factors for tradies to consider when choosing a suitable van mate. But for many there is only one trusty stead that appeals, the Toyota HiAce, with no substitutes accepted. But why is the HiAce the default decision for so many tradesmen, courier drivers and shuttle van proprietors? Car and SUV saddled up with the heavyweight of Toyota’s HiAce stable the ZX to find out more.

Exterior design may not be the secret behind the HiAce’s success, while no van is a sexy beast the HiAce aesthetic is boxy, basic and in ZX form – burly too. She’s a big rig with a length of 5.38 metres and an extended height of 2.28 metres, wheelbase is 3.1 meters and it tips the scales at around 3.2-tonnes. The exterior styling has changed little on the fifth generation HiAce since its debut back in 2005 but there is a new black front bumper, reworked halogen headlights and a silver-barred grille that goes some way to giving this workhorse a more modern face. With a low side profile and a thin section of green-tinted glass, there is also plenty of prime real estate on the HiAce for sign writing. Standard wheel fitment is 15-inch steel rims that are hidden behind six-spoke silver wheel covers. Continue reading “Toyota HiAce ZX 2011 Review” »

Updated 2011 Honda Accord Euro goes on sale in NZ

April 18th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The 2011 Accord Euro has gone on sale in NZ with upgraded styling and is set to continue its run as a highly regarded model in the mid size sedan segment.

Since its original addition to Honda New Zealand’s model line-up in 2003, the Accord Euro has scored points for its premium performance.

The 2011 updates include fresh new styling to the front bumper and grille, headlights, detailing on the boot lid and rear lights, along with new wheel designs.

The 2.4-litre i-VTEC petrol engine continues with a 148kW power rating and peak torque of 234Nm at 4,400 rpm matched to a 6-speed manual transmission or a 5-speed automatic transmission, depending on the model. The 5-speed automatic transmission has a straight ‘P R N D S’ gate with steering wheel mounted shift paddles for self-shifting.

Fuel economy is rated at 8.9 L/100km for both the manual and automatic sedan, whilst the Tourer’s is 9.1 L/100km. In Honda’s local real-world driving Optimal NZ Drive Test, the Euro sedan achieved a figure of 6.49 L/100km and 6.53 L/100km for the manual and automatic respectively, whilst the Tourer got down to  6.36L/100km. Both variants also performed well at the recently held AA Energywise Rally with the Sedan achieving 7.54L/100km and the Tourer 7.50L/100km. Continue reading “Updated 2011 Honda Accord Euro goes on sale in NZ” »

BMW 535d M-Sport 2011 Review

April 15th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Pound for pound BMW 535d is certainly a tough act to beat. For its many highlights one factor stands above the rest, its balance between huge amounts of torque while maintaining frugal fuel economy. A sleek, purposeful design and a lush, luxurious cabin are the cream on the top. But the ability to offer stimulating sports performance while sipping away on just 6.1 litres of diesel for every 100km travelled, that’s what makes the 535d the most progressive model in BMW’s 5-Series range. Car and SUV has been a fan of BMW’s diesel offerings since driving the impressive 335d and was interested to see how the same powerhouse motor worked in the larger 5-Series body.

Like its little brother, the 535d is built with some serious performance DNA. Under the long bonnet lays BMW’s latest 3.0-litre diesel engine, it’s an ultra-modern mill in a traditional in-line 6-cylinder configuration. While its power output of 220kW sounds only mildly exciting it’s the all alloy engine’s 600Nm torque figure that tells the true tale of the tape. Acceleration is effortless and with maximum torque available from 1750rpm, instant and absolute grunt is always waiting beneath the driver’s right foot. Continue reading “BMW 535d M-Sport 2011 Review” »

Renault stages bold comeback into NZ market

April 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

“Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years” is how the famous LL Cool J rap lyrics roll and today they ring true for car brand Renault who has unveiled a bold strategy for increasing sales in the NZ market.

After minimal sales in New Zealand last year, Renault is punching off the ropes and expanding its model range with vehicles positioned in very different core market segments. Renault’s offerings will include the new Fluence sedan, Megane Hatch, Megane Coupe-Cabriolet and the Koleos SUV. The new-to-NZ models were unveiled as part of a press event held in Auckland yesterday.

The models have just gone on sale as Renault adopts “Drive the Change” as its brand positioning statement, a phrase to reflect its new direction into the NZ mainstream motoring environment.

“Drive the Change” expresses the fundamental values of the Renault business culture – enthusiastic, innovative and human,” says Renault Cars General Manager, Stephen Kenchington. “Renault is investing proactively for growth with the all-new European styled and engineered Renault Mégane Hatch, the segment-reshaping Fluence Sedan, and stylish and chic glass-roofed Mégane Coupé-Cabriolet and Koleos SUV.”

“For the ultimate in European enthusiast sports machines, Kiwi drivers will be offered the visually exciting, muscled and toned new Mégane RS 250 Cup or Cup Trophée models. These will re-set the benchmark in terms of performance, equipment, attainability, as well as head-turning good looks that really stand out.” Continue reading “Renault stages bold comeback into NZ market” »

Peugeot 308 CC 1.6 2011 Review

April 1st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

For some people buying a product is as simple as knowing it’s original manufacturer. If they want fleece-lined footwear they buy Ugg boots, if they want a flying disc they buy a Frisbee and if they want to hear Knocking on Heaven’s Door they buy a Bob Dylan CD. If these same people were in the market for a coupe cabriolet (CC) vehicle with a folding hard top, then they would have to buy a Peugeot. Why?

Peugeot has a long history as an innovative automaker and was responsible for the very first metal retractable roof vehicle in the mid 1930s. While the 1934 Peugeot 401 Eclipse is fairly basic by modern standards, the concept of open-top motoring with hard top practicality remains as relevant as ever. To see just how far coupe convertible vehicles have come, Car and SUV plays purist with Peugeot’s latest offering, the 308 CC.

When the 308 CC first touched down in NZ it was only available with a 2.0-litre diesel mill, now for 2011, Peugeot is offering the 308 CC with a peppy petrol powertrain. It’s an exciting prospect for those who want top down motoring but have a diesel phobia. More about the mechanicals later, firstly lets examine what really drives the 308 CC – dramatic style.

Peugeot’s convertible coupe is a visual feast of curves and shapes with a pouncing stance and sporty design cues. At the front, a chunky bumper features recessed fog lamps and an exposed middle section with a toothy chrome air intake. Squinting headlights, pronounced Peugeot badging and dipping bonnet lines round off a highly styled front aesthetic. At the rear, large jeweled taillights dominate with a distinctive LED illumination. A subtle boot spoiler houses a high brake light and a broad plastic diffuser signals speedy intent. Continue reading “Peugeot 308 CC 1.6 2011 Review” »

Honda Insight S 2011 Review

April 1st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Honda’s new Insight hybrid is a little like the Terminator – a character made famous by the sci-fi films of the same name. Like the staunch film figure the Insight is here on earth to terminate something – excessive fuel usage. And like the film’s character the Insight isn’t the first model but is stronger, and more advanced than its predecessor. But unlike the Terminator we’ve seen on screen, the Honda Insight isn’t going to be killed off after two hours. The Insight represents a genre of vehicle that is here to stay and while Toyota’s Prius may be winning the battle so far, it feels like the hybrid wars are just beginning. Honda’s Insight is a machine that’s important for the future so Car and SUV enlisted for a test drive today.

The first generation Insight, a two-door coupe is a rarity on NZ roads, but is easily spotted because it looks odder than a $3 note. For the sequel, Honda has opted for a more practical four-door hatchback body shape and few of its predecessors styling cues remain.

Up front, Honda’s corporate face is accented by blue-tinted headlight lenses and a grinning front bumper with recessed fog lamps. Along the flanks, flattened wheel arches are partially filled by 15-inch 7-spoke alloy wheels – standard on our tested S spec model. At the rear an almost flattened rear windscreen works into a tinted vertical glass panel in a look that’s reminiscent of the second generation CR-X. Despite the aggressive styling, the windows are large and visibility is very good all around, including its radical rear. There are clear similarities in wedge like shape between the Insight and Toyota’s Prius caused by both cars’ designers chasing down optimum aerodynamics. Continue reading “Honda Insight S 2011 Review” »