Road Tests/Car Reviews: 2014 Range Rover Sport SDV8

April 15th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

range-rover-sdv8-2014-front The Range Rover Sport is a sleeker, meaner entry point into the Range Rover experience. When you want a Range Rover with all the frills, but you want it forty grand cheaper than an actual Range Rover, the Sport fills that gap.

Continue reading “Road Tests/Car Reviews: 2014 Range Rover Sport SDV8” »

Range Rover Evoque TD4 Black Design Edition 2014 Review

March 12th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

Hoi polloi: it’s the Ancient Greek word for the commoners, plebeians and the great unwashed. When you drive an Evoque Black Design Edition, you’ve elevated yourself above this, yet you still have credibility because it’s got the Land Rover badge which is a bastion of workhorse utility. But it’s not your typical boxy Land Rover you’d drive with a peak cap and a Swanndri. This is the Duchess of Cambridge: she’s got the cocktail dress, but you know there’s a pair of wellies in the boot.

range-rover-evoque-td4-dynamic-2014-rear-quarterAs you get comfortable with being one of the hoi oligoi – the few – you’ll need the ability to circumnavigate your dominion, and fortunately the Evoque comes with some off-road smarts to get you to all four corners. Continue reading “Range Rover Evoque TD4 Black Design Edition 2014 Review” »

Land Rover Discovery 4 Black Limited Edition 2013 Review

February 20th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

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At $130,250 I’m as likely to go roving over the land as I am to wear my favourite business shirt while doing judo. However, with the limited off-roading I dare do in the Discovery 4 Black, which consisted of a verified ‘safe’ bit of beach and some fairly non-challenging rocks, I can confirm that it has abilities that normal cars don’t have on terrain that will throw you around and pin you to the mat.

land-rover-discovery-4-black-front-interiorFive Terrain Response modes help the air suspension adapt to the requirements. Leave it in the standard mode and you’ll get through most obstacles, but there are options for low gear ratios, raising the suspension up to 125mm for a total of 310mm for extreme off-road, and lowering it by 50mm to allow easier entry for passengers. Bashing through the rocks? Put it in the rock crawl mode which gives lighter braking. In ruts and mud? Put it in the mud mode for better ground clearance. On the beach? Put it in sand mode to give better launch control to stop you digging yourself a hole. Continue reading “Land Rover Discovery 4 Black Limited Edition 2013 Review” »

Mitsubishi ASX Sport 2.2D diesel 4WD Review

December 5th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

We had an ASX Sport almost two years ago now, albeit a petrol one (read the review here). On the face of it, there’s not a huge amount of difference, except that it doesn’t seem as comfortable (more about that later). The reversing camera image has moved from the rear view mirror to the large screen in the centre of the dashboard. The central console area has been redesigned and utilises the space much better. The steering wheel has a slightly better feel and the buttons that control the cruise control and stereo are arranged to be marginally easier to use without looking at the wheel.

mitsubishi-asx-diesel-2013-rear-quartermitsubishi-asx-diesel-2013-front-interiorYou still get paddle-shifters behind the wheel which control the six-speed automatic gearbox that is hooked up to the 112kW, 366Nm 2.2-litre turbodiesel. That is plenty of torque and it results in competent overtaking performance and reasonably constant cruise control speeds (engines lacking in torque struggle under cruise control in hillier terrain). However, it sometimes feels like it holds a high gear too long as you slow down and you get that low frequency vibration that, if you were in a manual car, would signal that you should change down a gear. You can use the paddles to quickly flick it down or up a gear if you need to.

Fuel economy is quoted at 5.8l/100km combined. Our primary journey was four people and light luggage to Mount Maunganui in which it achieved low a 5l/100km figure.

There are seven airbags (including a driver’s knee airbag) plus four-wheel ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution and active stability control – pretty much the same as the previous model.

Rural owners will appreciate the scratch resistant bumpers. Ironically, someone backed into our test ASX while it was parked and definitely left a scratch on the bumper – perhaps it could have been worse. Continue reading “Mitsubishi ASX Sport 2.2D diesel 4WD Review” »

BMW 320d Touring xDrive 2013 Review

October 17th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

Four-wheel-drive station wagons are good if you like skiing and other outdoor pursuits – you lead a life a little less boring. Your adventures might see you on softer or more slippery ground, but you don’t want to have the inconvenience, sloppy handling and poor fuel economy of an SUV.

BMW-320d-xDrive-Touring-rear-quarterThe 320d comes with xDrive which is BMW’s all-wheel-drive system. This means that the 135kW 2-litre turbodiesel has no chance of overwhelming the available traction, even though there’s 380Nm on tap. It also means it scores a slippery 0.32 coefficient of drag which leads to some fairly frugal motoring: 4.5l/100km (when using the Eco Pro mode, which can reduce fuel consumption by 20% if you follow its tips, too).

BMW-320d-xDrive-Touring-front-interiorEco Pro adjusts the accelerator pedal and gearbox parameters. Shift points are changed, heating and climate control systems are modified to take less power from the engine, and you are given feedback on the display as to how much Eco Pro is contributing to fuel consumption savings.

Consumption is also enhanced by the auto stop/start function, which stops the engine when you are stationary, and brake energy regeneration which captures energy when braking and helps charge the battery. Capturing braking energy means that the engine has less load under full acceleration because it doesn’t have to charge the battery at the same time.

Put it in sport mode, and you should be able to achieve 0-100kph times of around 8 seconds as the 8-speed gearbox swaps its super-slick cogs. Continue reading “BMW 320d Touring xDrive 2013 Review” »

Toyota RAV4 GXL AWD 2013 Review

July 31st, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

It’s not really a soft roader because it has a lockable differential to augment its all-wheel drive, so if you put a decent set of off-road tyres on it, you’ll get to some remote places. There’s also 167mm of ground clearance (22cm more than an Aurion) and a 132kW, 233Nm 2.5-litre petrol engine to help you pull your way through the mud.

toyota-rav4-gxl-2013-rqThe RAV4 GXL’s off-road smarts continue with Downhill Assist Control, and that backs up the other safety electronics: ABS, Brake Assist (BA), Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRC), and Hill-start Assist Control (HAC). Seven airbags are fitted as standard.

toyota-rav4-gxl-2013-rear-lightThe engine returns 8.5l/100km (Toyota’s figures, presumably when driving in ECO mode) and emits 198g/km of CO2. You can take control of the 6-speed automatic transmission and move the lever to S mode for sequential changes.

Fitting with the trend of almost every other new automobile, the RAV4 has thick rear pillars and swoopy lines that make it difficult to judge when reversing. Fortunately there is a reversing camera with static guidelines and four sensors on the rear bumper to make sure you don’t run into anything.

The seats are large – almost too large for someone like me who has an aerodynamic body shape. If you’ve been at the pies, though, you will appreciate the RAV4’s seat width. It feels like it’s been engineered for the American market, and this flows through to the soft(ish) suspension that rides very well on NZ’s rough roads, but makes it feel a little like an SUV in the corners. Continue reading “Toyota RAV4 GXL AWD 2013 Review” »

Suzuki SX4 LTD i-AWD 2013 Review

April 3rd, 2013 by darren

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This top-of-the-line Suzuki SX4 brings with it switchable four-wheel drive that improves its versatility and matches its slightly raised stance. As a recreational vehicle you can strap a couple of mountain bikes on the (optional) roof rack and get fairly deep into the backwaters of New Zealand. It also makes it a viable second car option for rural residents and those who experience snow and ice frequently.

suzuki-sx4-rqThe SX4 can be switched between 2WD for better fuel economy, automatic all-wheel drive and locked diff for the super slippery workout. Apart from in those Continue reading “Suzuki SX4 LTD i-AWD 2013 Review” »

Ford Territory TDCi Titanium 7 Seat 2013 Review

March 26th, 2013 by darren

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Ford has played it safe upgrading the Territory. It keeps the previous model’s excellent proportions, unlike, for example Mitsubishi which has made a bit of a wide-hipped frump out of the seven-seat Outlander. It’s a large car that’s based on the Falcon chassis but it feels completely different to a Falcon.

Ford-Territory-Titanium-rqThis TDCi Titanium model usually comes with 17-inch wheels with 235/60R17 tyres, but our test car sat on some futuristic-looking 18-inch alloys wrapped in 235/55R18 tyres. These, theoretically, should give plenty of grip, even for the two-tonnes of bulk that needs to change direction, but the suspension is set to super-comfort mode (great for cruising, but not for rapid directional changes), therefore Continue reading “Ford Territory TDCi Titanium 7 Seat 2013 Review” »

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