2011 Nissan X-Trail updated for NZ market

August 19th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Late 2010 will see the launch of the new 2011 model Nissan X-Trail, which undergoes a series of extensive updates to maintain its position in the New Zealand SUV market.

The changes refresh X-Trail’s exterior styling; improve the interior perceived quality and functionality, as well as mechanical and aerodynamic changes. These revisions contribute to X-Trail’s improved economy and CO2 emissions.

The most obvious changes have been made to the frontal aspect of X-Trail, with completely redesigned grille, new headlights and bumper assembly. The lower part of the bumper is also angled further outwards, indicating a more solid stance.

At the rear, the X-Trail’s distinctive vertical lights have been updated to incorporate LED light technology for the running lights and braking.

In profile, the X-Trail’s stance has been updated by an increase in wheel size, with a ten-spoke 18 inch alloy wheel design which is also wider, now up to 225/55R18 in size, giving the X-Trail more stance to the road. A 17 inch alloy wheel is fitted to some variants, a new design featured for the 2011 model.

In the interior, the design has been updated with new materials and colour coordination. The materials used for the switch surrounds on the steering wheel, around the gear selector and on the door-mounted armrest have all been upgraded, while thicker, soft-touch materials have been chosen for the cloth seats.

Across the entire X-Trail range, all models now feature a 6CD in-dash autochanger with MP3 CD compatibility and auxiliary input, along with integrated Bluetooth handsfree phone system. All models feature steering wheel controls for audio, Bluetooth phone, drive computer and cruise control.

With optimised underbody aerodynamics, X-Trail’s drag coefficient is reduced from 0.36 to 0.35 and the X-Trail’s environmental impact has been lessened, with noticeable improvements in CO2 output and fuel consumption. These aerodynamic enhancements along with other improvements in the drivetrain result in fuel economy improvements of 2% for the petrol variants, and almost 9% for the diesel variants.

Full specification and pricing will be released closer to the New Zealand launch date, later this year.

2011 Mercedes-Benz CLS leaks out before official debut

August 18th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

There’s been plenty of spy shots and speculation surrounding the upcoming next-gen Mercedes-Benz CLS sports sedan but there’s been no official material sourced from the Stuttgart automaker.That’s just changed with official images of the 2011 Mercedes-Benz CLS surfacing online ahead of its Paris Auto Show debut next month.

The new images are taken from a official brochure that reveals an expected continuation of the new Mercedes styling language previewed in April’s Shooting Break concept and the SLS AMG.

The sectioned-off headlamp design has remained intact and there’s a prominent new upright grille. The generous use of LEDs should look great on the road at dusk.

Inside, the CLS continues to use its four-seat arrangement with a center console that extends the full length of the cabin.

Mercedes has kept tight-lipped about the technology powering the new CLS, although it’s rumoured to use the company’s new 225kW/368Nm 3.5 litre direct-injected V6, possibly along with a twin-turbo 4.6 litre V8 option that produces 320kW and 700Nm.

An AMG variant will probably be on the cards and will be motivated by the same 400kW 5.5 litre V8 currently appearing in new and updated AMG models.

Now that these leaked shots have hit the web, official images and details may quickly follow, before its scheduled Paris debut. Stay tuned.

2011 Kia Sportage officially unveiled for NZ

August 6th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Kia NZ has officially announced the arrival of it’s third generation Kia Sportage, that comes with a suspension system tuned for NZ roads. The 2011 Kia Sportage will go on sale in New Zealand from October 1, with the launch date taking into account the rise in GST, thus avoiding buyer confusion over fluctuating pricing. Firm prices are yet to be announced, but they are expected to be competitive, with the entry model targeting the $32,990-to-$34,990 bracket.

“New Sportage couldn’t arrive at a better time — the market is picking up and buyers are looking for excitement and inspirational styling, which Sportage has in abundance,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand.

“It’s an active lifestyle vehicle with attitude. The styling is edgy, resembling a sports coupe, yet when you climb inside, the new Sportage is extremely roomy, practical and packed with thoughtful features, such as a reversing camera on most models.

“With the recently introduced Sorento R, Cerato sedan and Koup, and now Sportage, we can now offer among the most advanced and stylish range of vehicles in New Zealand.”

The rakish European styling of the 2011 Sportage continues Kia’s efforts to be seen as a “youthful and sporting” brand. Its lines have been taken from the adventurous Kia Kue concept vehicle that did the motor show rounds throughout 2007, including the unusual rear slanting C-pillar that increases the view of rear passengers.

Longer, wider and lower than the previous model — by 90mm, 15mm and 60mm respectively — and with a 10mm longer wheelbase, the third generation Sportage is roomier and more powerful than previous models.

Continue reading “2011 Kia Sportage officially unveiled for NZ” »

Third-generation Kia Sportage arriving in NZ soon

July 28th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

With a new bodyshell, new engines and fresh styling the upcoming Kia Sportage is an urban-friendly compact CUV that is ready for New Zealand lifestyles and will consume less fuel and emitting less CO2.

Set to go on sale in NZ this October the Sportage is longer, wider and lower than the previous model — by 90 mm, 15 mm and 60 mm respectively — but the all-new design successfully retains the key SUV features — a commanding driving position, heightened sense of security and powerful road presence — that made the second-generation Kia Sportage so popular.

The previous Sportage was introduced in 2004 (2005 in New Zealand) and marked a huge step forward for Kia. Over the next six years, Sportage attracted thousands of new customers to Kia, and achieved global sales of more than 860,000 units.

Now, under the direction of Kia’s Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer, the Kia design teams have created a third-generation Sportage, incorporating Kia’s new design DNA and many features from the 2007 Kia Kue concept car, to make the new Sportage immediately identifiable.

“With the all-new Sportage, we have created a five-seat compact SUV with maximised customer appeal. It is urban-friendly and fully in tune with changing consumer expectations and demands,” says Hyoung-Keun Lee, President, Kia Motors Corporation.

Continue reading “Third-generation Kia Sportage arriving in NZ soon” »

Ford launching new Focus with ST hot hatch variant

July 23rd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

As the official launch of the 2012 Focus draws closer, Ford is planning on uncovering several variants of its newest hatch. And at this year’s Paris Motor Show, the Blue Oval will reportedly kick off proceedings with the debut of a new Focus ST – known in NZ as the XR5 Turbo. The new Focus ST is expected to be powered by an uprated version of the 2.0-litre Ecoboost inline-four which is the same engine fitted to the Mondeo — but with output boosted up over the current 200 horsepower.

In ST form the engine should produce about 250 hp and near on 260 pound-feet of torque, with max torque arriving low in the rev range to help balance high-revving shenanigans with respectable around-town driveability. The ST should reach 100kph in under six seconds with much improved economy over the outgoing model.

It was earlier this year that Ford acknowledged that it was developing a “global” performance version of the new Focus, but hasn’t stated what markets it will be offered in. Although NZ has missed out on the top dog Focus RS in the past the ST will most likely find it’s way down here sometime soon.

Click here to read a Car and SUV review of the 2010 Ford Focus XR5 Turbo.

More refined 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer arriving in NZ next month

July 20th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer is due in New Zealand next month and will be 20% quieter than its predecessor.

“Significant upgrades to insulation have made a very noticeable difference to sound intrusion,” said MMNZ head of sales and marketing strategy Daniel Cook. “The improvements are in response to feedback from our customers and will have a direct improvement on occupant comfort.”

Together with the sound reduction, the four-strong Lancer model range gains mechanical brake assist, which aids the driver in heavy braking situations, and automatic driver’s window function. A further useful introduction is the programmable welcome home exterior lighting, which allows the driving lights to remain on for 30 seconds while exiting the vehicle.

All but the sports orientated VRX have received further refinements to suspension springs and dampers for a more comfortable ride. VR and VRX have a revised one-touch keyless entry system and larger side air dams give both variants a sportier look. VRX also receives a stereo USB port for external music players.

“Lancer is a cornerstone model for us and has many loyal customers,” said Mr Cook. “These improvements will certainly make their decision to purchase easier and combined with our industry-leading 10/5 Diamond Advantage New Car Warranty with five years roadside assist, it’s a very persuasive package.”

The 10/5 Diamond Advantage New Car Warranty provides ten years or 160,000km — which ever comes first – cover on the drive train and five years or 130,000km cover on the whole vehicle.

Pricing for the 2011 Lancer range remains the same.

Lancer Pricing

2.0 ES Manual               $27,990
2.0 ES CVT Auto          $29,990
2.0 SX CVT Auto          $32,500
2.0 VR CVT Auto         $35,500
2.4 VRX Manual            $38,500
2.4 VRX CVT Auto       $39,990

- Lancer sedan and hatch hold the same RRP for each respective variant

Click here to read a Car and SUV review of the Mitsubishi Lancer ES

Click here to read a Car and SUV review of the Mitsubishi Lancer VRX

BMW reveals 2011 X3 M Sport package

July 20th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Coming just one week on from BMW revealing its 2011 X3 (read news) is details and images of the M Sport package that will accompany the international launch of the vehicle next year.

Showing off hints of a possible future X3 M model, the M Sport package consists of a reworked sportier front bumper with larger intakes and adds a faux diffuser to the rear bumper. The window frames and and roof rails get some gloss black treatment, and 19-inch M Sport alloy wheels fill the guards.

Where the standard X3 features uncoated bumper inserts and wheel arches for that hardy go-anywhere look, the X3 M Sport package is more sports road-focused with brings body-coloured trim.

Performance upgrades are limited to the handling set-up with the X3 M Sport getting a lower, stiffer M Sport suspension package.

Interior features include a M-branded steering wheel, a short-throw gear shifter, gear shift paddles for the xDrive35i version, sports seats, ‘Pearlpoint’ cloth-leather interior trim and an anthracite roof liner.

The X3 M Sport will firstly debut overseas in the middle of 2011, with NZ receiving the package after a local X3 launch next year.

BMW pulls covers on new 2011 X3

July 16th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

BMW has just officially pulled the covers off its all-new 2011 BMW X3. The first change is a switch to BMW’s next-generation ‘F’ model codes with the new F25 X3 succeeding the outgoing first-generation E83, launched back in 2004.

Visually, the new X3 borrows more design elements from the larger X5 as well as some style from its little brother, the X1. The X5′s wider, tougher stance is nicely repeated, while a number of the X1′s newer styling language also features on the 2011 X3′s body work.

The new X3 is larger than its predecessor in all directions, measuring 12mm taller, 83mm longer, 28mm wider and sitting 12mm higher. Its wheelbase has increased too, measuring 2810mm – up 15mm on the outgoing model. Although dimensions have increased, weight has dropped with the new X3 weighing around 20kg less thanks to the extensive use of aluminium parts.

The new X3′s cabin follows the same brand-wide design language featured in BMW’s other recent models, and features the latest iDrive system and an 8.8 inch display in the centre stack. Interior space is bigger all round, including rear storage which now measures 550 litres with the rear seats up, and 1600 litres with them dropped.

When the new X3 launches internationally later this year, it will be with a variety of engine options including BMW’s new N55 single-turbo 3.0 litre inline-six, producing a thumping 228kW and 400Nm of torque.

BMW says the N55 engine will take the 2011 X3 xDrive35i to 100km/h in just 5.5 seconds, on its way to an electronically-limited top speed of 240km/h. Fuel consumption isn’t bad either and is quoted at 8.8 l/100km.

The xDrive28i isn’t far off ‘fast’ either, making its way to 100km/h in 6.7 seconds, thanks to its 180kW 3.0 litre inline-six.

The xDrive20d should prove popular and is powered by a 2.0 turbo-charged four-cylinder diesel, generating 135kW and 380Nm of torque, paired with a six-speed manual transmission or BMW’s eight-speed automatic. The diesel will reach 100km/h in 8.5 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 210km/h. Fuel consumption is listed at 5.6 l/100km on the combined cycle.

BMW says it will also launch a range of four-cylinder petrol engines next year.

The new X3 also features BMW’s third-generation xDrive all-wheel-drive system, offering improved stability-control and a 40/60 front-rear torque-split that is now controlled by an electronically-actuated multi-plate clutch steplessly varying torque between the axles. The strut-front and multi-link rear suspension arrangement that featured in the updated version of the outgoing X3 is also on board, with basic upgrades including optional Electronic Damping Control.

The EDC system incorporates electronically-variable shocks that stiffen under heavy cornering loads, or as required by the driver through controls in the cabin. Drivers can also use the EDC system to adjust torque-split with the Performance Control functions, switching to a 20/80 front/rear bias in steady-state cornering, while also applying the brake to the inside rear wheel and directing more power to the outside.

Optional in the outgoing model, the new new model gets Servotronic speed-sensitive power-steering as standard.

BMW is expected to reveal pricing and availability for the New Zealand market closer to the new X3′s launch later in 2010. Till then check out some images in the gallery below.

Click here to read a Car and SUV review of the 2010 BMW X1.