High-spec Suzuki Swift RS added to NZ range

September 13th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Suzuki NZ has added a new highly-specified Swift to its model range – the Swift RS. Billed as a limited edition variant the RS receives extra luxury and equipment.

The RS version is based on the Swift five-door hatchback and is the first special edition since the arrival of the new generation series earlier this year. With its higher level of standard equipment, the RS is the most equipped Swift ever sold in New Zealand.

Extra features include a tilt and telescopic adjustable steering column, keyless locking and the push button start/stop function which is inherited from the Suzuki Kizashi sedan. There’s also a full climate control system with a digital readout replacing standard air conditioning on other Swifts, and the RS has Bluetooth hands-free mobile telephone connection. A six-speaker audio system includes a USB input for MP3 or iPod music player functions, and can be controlled by switches on the steering wheel.

Mechanically, the RS benefits from four wheel disc brakes, previously only available on the high performance Swift Sport model. The new 1.4-litre K14B four-cylinder engine introduced for the latest generation Swift is retained for the RS version. This powerplant produces 70 kW of power while averaging 5.5 litres/100 km in the combined fuel cycle, or 6.2 litres/100 km for the automatic. Continue reading “High-spec Suzuki Swift RS added to NZ range” »

Kia Rio 2012 Review

September 12th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The new 2012 Kia Rio was launched to NZ’s motoring media at a special event in the South Island last week and Car and SUV was there to sample this latest compact hatch.

The 2012 Rio will go on sale in NZ from the end of October with pricing starting at $22,990 and comes with fresh-faced design and plenty of equipment for the money. The Rio will be released in NZ in a five-door body shape (as tested) with a four-door sedan and three-door sports hatch following next year.

In terms of styling the new Rio has received Kia’s bold corporate face with the ‘Tiger Nose’ grille, raked back headlights and a wide lower air dam.  At the rear, there’s a built in hatch spoiler and a sharp rear windscreen angle giving a dynamic Euro appearance. The Rio has a purposeful, forward-leaning stance and a coupe-inspired roofline that adds to the sporty aesthetic. There’s some eye-catching touches like the door-mounted side mirrors and our tested top spec EX model features 16-inch alloys, privacy glass and LED daytime running lamps. The Rio body shape has grown in size over its predecessor, increasing 20mm in length to 4045mm, in width by 25mm to 1720mm and is 70mm longer in the 2570mm wheelbase. However, it sits 15mm lower in overall height to further the sporty look. Continue reading “Kia Rio 2012 Review” »

2012 Holden Commodore updated with new features and colours

September 12th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Holden’s engineering team is busy developing the next-generation Commodore dubbed VF, but with this new model still two to three years away, there’s plenty of time for more tweaking of the current VE model.

For the 2012 model year, the Commodore will receive two new colours, modest exterior and interior enhancements, plus the inclsion of the track-inspired FE3 sports suspension on Redline variants.

Selected models receive chrome accents to highlight the Series II front fascia, while Omega is fitted with new 16-inch seven-spoke alloy wheels. A new lip spoiler enhances the styling of the luxury focused Calais V. The SS V-Series Redline Edition gets new forged and polished 19-inch alloy wheels plus painted rear brake calipers.

In the cabin, there’s silver stitching on the optional Onyx and Razor leather interior trim while the Redhot trim also receives some treatment. The iQ multimedia system has been updated to be compatible with the latest smartphones.

Holden’s colour and trim team has introduced two new exterior colors named Perfect Blue and Chlorophyll. The new blue hue pays homage to Australian motorsport icon Peter Brock and his famous Formula Blue HDT Group A VK SS Commodore that was launched back in 1985. Continue reading “2012 Holden Commodore updated with new features and colours” »

Euro-market Honda Civic Type R Mugen gets 2.2-litre motor

September 12th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It was just last year that Honda tuner Mugen gave U.K hot hatch fans a limited run of the Honda Civic Type R. It was an exclusive machine with only 20 units produced and just 16 were sold to customers. Sales were low due to its hefty price tag of around NZ$77,000. Only hardcore fans could pay this much for a Civic.

For 2012, Mugen is back with a whole new engine for the Type R Civic and with the new model not due till next year, the tuner is going big on this final edition. The new motor is bored from 2.0 litres to 2.2 litres, with horsepower boosted 30% to 195kW and torque raised to 240Nm. Mugen views this special Civic as a tribute to Honda’s naturally-aspirated K20 engine, which has been at the heart of the company’s tuning efforts for years.

“Environmental pressures mean naturally aspirated engines are rapidly being superseded by other engine architectures and technologies,” Mugen Euro president Hiro Toyota said. “We may never see the like of the K20 in a mainstream production car again, so felt it only fitting we mark the occasion with this special 2.2 version of the Honda Civic Type R.” Continue reading “Euro-market Honda Civic Type R Mugen gets 2.2-litre motor” »

Ford Mondeo Titanium Hatch 2011 Review

September 9th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Mondeo needs little introduction. Since it took over Ford’s medium size sedan duties from the Telstar in the mid nineties it’s become a popular fixture on NZ roads. With strong four- and six-cylinder engines and broadly appealing styling the Mondeo has clocked up impressive sales through the years. But at times during its four generations, the Mondeo has taken criticism for being dull, vanilla and a bland sales rep’s car. When the current model Mondeo was released in 2007 it neutralized these complaints with fresh dynamic design and new technologies scored during Ford’s ownership of premium brands Volvo and Jaguar. For 2011 Ford has pushed the Mondeo a step further into the fun zone with tweaked ‘kinetic’ styling a twin-clutch transmission and more equipment than the NASA space program. So will the facelifted Mondeo spin sales reps and private owners into a frenzy? Car and SUV saddled up a top dog Mondeo Titanium hatch to find out.

When it comes to exterior styling the fourth-gen Mondeo was already a looker, so Ford has understandably played it safe with the cosmetic updates. Changes on the Titanium include new front and rear bumpers, a new bonnet and grille, revised taillights and modernizing LED daytime running lights at the front. The result? It’s the meanest looking Mondeo yet. The front aesthetic is particularly aggressive with its bulging bonnet line, wide-mouthed air dam and thin, blackened-out grille. At the rear, jeweled two-piece tail lamps and a low air diffuser extend the kinetic design. Continue reading “Ford Mondeo Titanium Hatch 2011 Review” »

Hyundai drops covers off next-gen i30 hatch

September 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The current model Hyundai i30 has proved a global sales success for the Korean brand and the next-generation model will be unveiled at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show.

The new i30 has a fresh design and a more distinctive appearance compared to the outgoing version. The exterior styling follows the Fluidic Sculpture design language of Hyundai’s i45 and Elantra models. There’s a large hexagonal front grille, wraparound headlamps, a bulging belt line and pumped out front wheel arches.

The interior is also modeled on Hyundai’s current product with recessed sports-style instrumentation, a prominent centre console and curvaceous dashboard. Continue reading “Hyundai drops covers off next-gen i30 hatch” »

Fiat reworks unpopular Punto for 2012

September 6th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Fiat’s super cute 500 is continuing to be a sales superstar in various global markets which has left its Punto sibling feeling like a bit of an ugly duckling. But Fiat is determined to keep the Punto looking sharp and has done some tweaking for the 2012 model.

The current Punto was first released back in 2005 as the Grand Punto, but it began to look its age. To combat this Fiat launched the reworked Punto Evo in 2009 but now that update isn’t selling anymore so its time for another update.

On the 2012 Punto, the black plastic mouldings have been dropped and the chrome trim on the nose. The interior has also seen some work and there’s two new engines on offer in global markets. Fiat’s popular 900cc two-cylinder unit can be  had and another 1.3-llitre MultiJet diesel has also joined the range. Continue reading “Fiat reworks unpopular Punto for 2012” »

2012 Porsche 911 gets officially revealed

August 24th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

After plenty of rumours, spy shots and leaked photos, Porsche has officially unveiled it’s 2012 911 (991) model.

While it may look very similar the new 911 has grown, with a wheelbase 100 mm longer than it’s predecessor. It also has a wider track at the front and a body made of aluminum-steel for reduced weight and greater rigidity. Standard wheel fittment is 20-inch rims and the side mirrors have moved to the top of the doors.

In the cockpit the reworked interior combines elements of the Porsche Panamera with the outgoing 997 model. The major changes here include a more pronounced, downward sloping centre console and entirely new switchgear.

The official word on power figures pegs the 3.4 litre boxer engine in the entry-level Carerra at 257kW. The higher-spec Carrera S uses a 3.8-litre motor that’s good for 294kW. Torque figures haven’t been released. Continue reading “2012 Porsche 911 gets officially revealed” »