November 11th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
When the Suzuki Swift arrived in NZ it began giving the beat-down in sales numbers to almost every other hatchback in our market. Even the Toyota Corolla struggles to match the Swift’s sales figures. A key reason behind the Swift’s success is its affordability, but for some it’s still not affordable enough. For those folk there is now a second, cheaper Suzuki option. No, not the Alto, a third option then – the Splash. Suzuki has sandwiched the Splash hatch between the superstar Swift and the entry-point Alto. Priced from $17,990 the Splash undercuts the base model Swift by $2,500 but shares the same platform. While it’s not a brand new model, having been offered in Europe for the past three years, it’s new to NZ. An interesting character for sure, and being marketed as the Swift’s little sister, it’s arrived with big expectations. Car and SUV spent some time with this Swift understudy to discover what sort of sister the Splash really is.
In terms of exterior styling, the Splash isn’t the prettiest member of the Suzuki family but it does have a certain upright appeal. The front is quite fluid with wide-eyed headlights and a trendy split grille but the Splash’s rear is squarer than a Dungeons and Dragons convention. That said, it’s an inoffensive design that borrows glimpses of style from the Swift. Details that give it away as a budget model include the black plastic door handles and side mirrors and also the 15-inch steel wheels – but the silver wheel covers match up nicely. Continue reading “Suzuki Splash 2011 Review” »
October 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Although it still seems like a new model line for Honda, the popular Jazz has been around for 10 years already. To keep things fresh for Jazz fans, Honda has refreshed its sub-compact hatch with styling tweaks, new colours and extra equipment. When the second-generation Jazz reached NZ shores in early 2008 it had mums nationwide swooning and quite a few Grandmas too. The Jazz was affordable, practical and cute – healthy sales followed. But that was 2008, since then the Jazz has come up against some tough competition like updated version of the Ford Fiesta, VW Polo and the rampaging Suzuki Swift. Will the 2011 facelift be able to maintain the Jazz’s place within the affections of NZ mums? Car and SUV belted into a 2011 Jazz 1.3S Sport to find out the answers.
While Honda’s facelifts are sometimes criticized for being too subtle the Jazz receives visual updates in a few key areas. At the front there’s a more modern bumper and a replacement grille that joins new headlights. It’s a similar situation at the rear where restyled taillights sit above a new bumper. The result of the changes is a hatch that not only looks sleeker but also is also more aerodynamic. Our 1.3S Sport model received some striking extra features like a sportier grille, rear hatch spoiler and a full body kit with deeper side skirting. 15-inch alloy wheels are standard and door handles and mirror caps are nicely colour-matched. Continue reading “Honda Jazz 1.3S Sport 2011 Review” »
October 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Things haven’t always gone to plan for the Ssangyong Motor Company. Even with a name that means double dragons in Korean, Ssangyong has struggled to generate any real firepower in the motoring world. Rioting, receivership and changing ownership have all held back Korea’s fourth largest carmaker, but now in the hands of Indian firm Mahindra things are on the up. Ssangyong appears more determined than ever to advance its status from a fringe player into a serious brand capable of stealing sales off more established Korean and Japanese competitors. It’s working too with Ssangyong reporting a 53% increase in global sales for the first half of 2011. An important instrument in this turn around has been the 2011 Korando small SUV, which has become a fixture on NZ streets. Car and SUV spent a week with the latest Korando to see exactly what this comeback kid is made of.
Ssangyong styling has at times been accused of being erratic with awkward proportions but the new Korando opts for a more conservative approach. This doesn’t mean its boring and being penned by car design legend Giorgetto Giugiaro there’s plenty to draw the eye. The Korando face is particularly purposeful with its low-placed mesh grille and large, wrap around headlights. There’s a character-lined bonnet and a raked back windscreen, which gives the Korando a sporty stance. Pushed out wheel arches and hardened black plastic cladding add familiar crossover touches along the flanks and at the rear, a subtle hatch spoiler and chrome trim feature. Continue reading “Ssangyong Korando SPR 2011 Review” »
October 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Since its release in 2004 the Ford Territory has become one of the success stories of the Australian car manufacturing industry. It’s found a home in the garages of many families here in NZ as well as across the ditch and has even performed duties as an emergency response vehicle. But after seven years cruising the streets how can the Territory stay desirable in a SUV market that’s packed with machinery from Japan and Europe? By offering a diesel engine option for the first time for starters, backed up by a modernising facelift, equipment upgrades and a greater emphasis on refinement. Has Ford’s $230 million dollar investment in the new Territory paid off? Car and SUV was certainly impressed by the 2011 Territory at its launch event earlier this year and got some more seat time to take a closer look.
Looks are a good place to start because in terms of styling the Territory has really shifted up a gear. The familiar proportions remain but there are now some calculated injections of Ford’s current kinetic design language. At the front there’s an all-new face with new upper and lower grilles, the headlights, bonnet and front bumper have also been replaced. These fresh touches give a wider and more muscular frontal appearance. At the rear Ford has deftly wrapped the three quarter glass around to the rear windscreen, hiding the D-pillar and giving it a slick look. New horizontal taillights replace the previous vertical design and also wrap into the rear guards. There are some more subtle general tweaks as well, like vents on the front fenders and indicator repeaters in the wing mirrors. Our tested top-spec Titanium model was dressed up further with chrome trim on the front grille, LED front lights, tinted glass and 18-inch Y-Spoke alloy wheels. In terms of design it’s a very successful facelift, the 2011 Territory looks ‘right now’ modern and dynamic while retaining its same staunch road presence. Continue reading “Ford Territory Titanium 2011 Review” »
October 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
For 2011, Toyota’s Land Cruiser is celebrating 60 years of production in various rugged forms. This anniversary year has seen the introduction of the brawny FJ Cruiser, it’s seen special events and even journeys across NZ. But more importantly for Cruiser buyers are the extras you get when purchasing any new Land Cruiser before the end of the year. To mark this landmark occasion Car and SUV got reacquainted with the 2011 Land Cruiser Prado to check out the latest deals and rediscover exactly what makes this model line off roading royalty.
The special anniversary deals on the Land Cruiser range don’t include extra equipment or larger alloy wheels but concentrate on extended warranty and free servicing plans. If you buy a Land Cruiser in 2011, you’ll receive a 60-month warranty, a 60 month/75,000km service plan, 60 months worth of WOF checks and AA Roadservice for, you guessed it 60 months. So what you simply get is 5 years of guaranteed trouble-free motoring, and that’s certainly worth a lot. The offer is available on any model in the Land Cruiser range including our tested petrol-powered Prado VX Limited. Continue reading “Toyota Land Cruiser Prado VX Ltd 2011 Review” »
August 19th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Hyundai began distancing itself from a budget brand reputation years ago with fresh product that began to turn heads. It’s offerings kept getting better, and now the Korean carmaker has broken into a full sprint as it continues to buffer an already strong range with good quality, no nonsense vehicles. The latest addition to this expanding stable is the all-new 2011 Elantra small sedan that enters the fray as the fifth generation of the nameplate. Compact sedans are rarely known for being exciting machines but the new Elantra’s slick bodywork immediately separates itself from more conservative competition. Does it have the brawn and the brains to back up the sexy sheetmetal? Car and SUV spent a week with the new Elantra to find out.
For most potential buyers it’s the Elantra’s shape that will pierce their interest despite the lack of any sharp edges. It’s an elegantly worked collaboration of creases and coupe-inspired curves. Hyundai’s ‘fluidic sculpture’ design language is in full force with the Elantra and gives it a strong family resemblance with its larger i45 sibling. Details like a broad lower air dam, pumped-out wheel arches and ascending shoulder line make the Elantra look wide and low. Continue reading “Hyundai Elantra 2011 Review” »
August 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Ford New Zealand has just announced that it will be putting the Ford Kuga small SUV on sale in NZ. The European-built Ford Kuga, will be available in top-spec Titanium trim and is expected to arrive at Ford dealers from November to join the already launched Mondeo, Territory and Focus Titanium models. Pricing for the Kuga Titanium is $53,990.
“This is big news for us and we’re very excited,” said Chris Masterson, Marketing Manager, Ford New Zealand. “The Kuga has done very well in Europe since its introduction in 2008, often topping sales charts. Locally, the small SUV market has seen substantial growth in the last few years and now with a European-proven design we have a highly compelling offer for customers in this market. As an attractive, well-designed and fully-capable crossover vehicle, the Kuga Titanium will be hard to beat. Customers will be impressed, as will our competition.”
The Ford Kuga is based on Ford’s acclaimed C-car architecture which it shares with the Ford Focus. Standard specification includes a full-time AWD system and safety tech like an Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) that combines Anti Rollover Mitigation (ARM) and ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD). Continue reading “Ford Kuga Titanium coming to NZ – November arrival” »
August 15th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
The 2011 BMW 1-Series M Coupe is certainly special, a one-off offering from the M-division that has raised suspicion from purists and excitement from badge fans. But what exactly makes it so unique? Is it because by being based on BMW’s entry level 1-Series a new M-car is more affordable than ever before? Or is it because of the 1M’s turbocharged engine and M3-borrowed running gear? Or maybe because it will be built for just one model year with only 14 units making their way to NZ? Or does it just go totally hard? Car and SUV had a chance to pilot the new 1-Series M on a rapid-paced voyage of discovery for the answers.
It hasn’t been an easy birth for the 1M, some have labeled it a parts-bin car because of its extensively shared components with others saying it’s cheapening the M range with its budget 1 Series donor body. But neither of these accusations is accurate. True the 1M is the new lightweight of the M Division stable but it’s quick, feisty and can throw a heavy punch when provoked. Continue reading “BMW 1 Series M Coupe 2011 Review” »