Toyota: 2014 Hilux V6 SR5 review

May 22nd, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

toyota-hilux-sr5-2014-frontSome 38 years ago the Hilux was unleashed onto New Zealand’s roads. Today, there are as many variants of the 2014 model as there are the days of Christmas: Double cab or single cab, four-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive, petrol or diesel, wellside or chassis, manual or automatic, special TRD edition or one of the standard range? So, should Santa replace Rudolph and Blitzen with a Hilux to tow his sleigh? Continue reading “Toyota: 2014 Hilux V6 SR5 review” »

Toyota Hilux 3.0TD 4×4 Double Cab 2014 review

April 30th, 2014 by Ross Mackay

14ToyotaHilux-1-1From humble beginnings as the robust, reliable, farmer’s friend, the Toyota’s double-cab Hilux is now a bona fide 5-ANCAP star sophisticate, as much at home in the suburbs as it is ‘on the range!’ Continue reading “Toyota Hilux 3.0TD 4×4 Double Cab 2014 review” »

The Kids Aren’t Alright

June 18th, 2012 by Tim Grimley

Jug-eared master of the tap-in goal and Mexico ’86 World Cup Golden Boot winner Gary Lineker has set Twitter alight thanks to his use of the terminology “sick” to describe the fixture between England and Sweden. Despite living in a world that has made us blasé to such miracles as space travel, stem cell therapy and the I-pad, it seems the sight of a 51 year old man using a bit of teen lingo is too much for the online population to swallow.

Quite right too – a man of that age really ought to know better.

If you look for the word ‘sick’ in the dictionary, you will find the official definition is something along the lines of ‘afflicted with ill health or disease’. There are other interpretations too, which mention phrases such as ‘mentally, morally or emotionally deranged’, ‘inclined to vomit’ and ‘deeply affected with some unpleasant feeling’. There is nothing in there to hint that any situation necessitating its use will be anything other than a wearisome burden on your day.

Sick.

Yet when placed in the hands of ‘yoof’, exactly the opposite applies. A situation deemed to be ‘sick’ is one that is crazy, insane, wicked, choice, cool or simply sweet as, bro. While this is may appear strange and confusing, it can actually be explained away very easily; young people are just not right in the head. Although before you start hunting out your soapboxes from which to harangue me, this is not just another uniformed swipe at the much maligned youngsters of today – this is the voice of experience. I used to be a youth myself and as far as I can remember I was as dumb as a post.

My idea of fashion was wearing not much more than a pair of plaid beach pants, which I rather elegantly teamed up with bleached blonde hair (although occasionally red or blue) and lamb chop sideburns that would shame Noddy Holder. So I looked like a complete tit. And my idea of a quiet night out involved drinking my own body weight in alcohol to the backdrop of music by the Shamen. This meant that not only did I look like a moron, but I also sounded like one and spent a large portion of the time acting like a very, very drunken one.

But it was in sober moments that my circle of friends and I produced our most dazzling moments of dullness – we went out and bought cars. No self respecting teenager should ever have a monumental motoring budget, but even with the miserable financial resources at our disposal, we bought some absolute rotters. The dregs of motoring society – Metro, Allegro, Favorit, Beetle, Sunny, 126, AX – adorned our driveways as we cocked a snook at the desire of society for better cars.

But there was one that always eluded us: Lada. And although time has brought with it nose hair and three day hangovers, I’ve never quite managed to shake the desire for some Communist motoring in my life. So when a fine looking example of their Niva 4×4 showed up on Trademe this week, I was unable to stem the flow of juices from my temptation gland and took the beast for a test drive.

It was shocking. By the time I’d negotiated the driveway and made it to the end of the street, my biceps were burning from the effort of turning the steering wheel and my ears were bleeding from the cacophony coming from under the bonnet. Each pothole lined up a fresh set of osteopathic treatment and an attempt to negotiate a roundabout required so much effort that I developed a nosebleed.

After barely 3 kilometres I knew I had to give up and head back before I did myself some permanent damage, but because I was so grateful to have worked the Dickensian transmission into any form of gear – 2nd as it turned out – I simply left it there, so even this short journey took about a week.

There will still be something effortlessly cool in the utter awfulness of the Lada – and all of equally crappy motors that I coveted in my youth – but it seems that with the experience of years I have developed enough common sense and physical frailty to recognise when the cons far, far outweigh the pros. And while it is mildly reassuring to know that I’ve developed into a mature, well-rounded human being who is capable of separating the wheat from the chaff when it comes to cars, the knowledge that the dumb enthusiasm of youth is gone forever leaves me feeling, well, sick.

Mazda BT-50 GSX 4×4 Double Cab 2012 Review

December 9th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda’s passenger car grin has been transplanted across to its commercial ute brethren to standardize the corporate family look. I had the great fortune to get out of the latest Ford Ranger XLT and into the Mazda BT-50. The BT-50 is based on the Ranger so it’s no surprise that much of the switchgear is the same, you get the same 6-speed gearbox, and you’ll enjoy almost all the features that the Ford has (including its off-road capabilities).

For a full overview of the Ranger, head off here (opens in a new window), and carry on reading for the BT-50. If you’ve driven a previous BT-50, the new one is a large jump forwards. Unlike the Hilux, which usually only makes incremental improvements, the Ford Ranger platform has provided the new BT-50 with a solid base.

Most utes on the market look like a block with the corners chiseled off, so it’s refreshing to see that manufacturers like Mazda will have a go at producing something different. Fortunately it didn’t end up like the Ssangyong Actyon at the front, but the looks still push boundaries and may polarize people.

The exterior has good fit and finish, and the GSX model does look sharper than the GLX which sits beneath it in the range. Our test car had an aftermarket canopy and towbar fitted. The GSX model gains 17-inch alloys, chrome door handles and wing mirrors, side steps in aluminium finish, and front fog lamps.

Storage is excellent. The tub is deep (513mm), long (1549mm) and wide (1560mm). Continue reading “Mazda BT-50 GSX 4×4 Double Cab 2012 Review” »

Skoda Superb TDI 4×4 Combi 2011 Review

July 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

For most kiwis looking to buy a comfortable and practical family wagon the name Skoda doesn’t immediately spring to mind. But why not? Is it because buyers are still stuck in the eighties when Skoda wore the brunt of naff jokes about quality? Or perhaps because folks know Skoda is European and worry about durability and value for money? Whatever the reason, for many wagon buyers the Skoda Superb isn’t even on their radar. But it damn well should be. Skoda’s med/large size wagon has many of its competitors beat in some key areas and build quality is certainly one of them. With a frugal diesel engine and a four-wheel-drive system the Superb can travel to remote locations and it won’t cost a lot to get there. So does this fringe player deserve a new place as a major force in the wagon market? Car and SUV thinks so, and after spending a week with the newest addition to the Superb range – the 4×4 Combi, we’re ready to tell you why.

Exterior Design
It may not be the sexiest wagon to ever pick up the groceries, but the Superb has everyman elegance and a sleek low look despite its generous proportions. It’s nicely balanced for a wagon without too much rear overhang and a tightly tapered hatch that gives few hints to the expansive cargo space within. It has a neutral face with chrome trim surrounding the corporate grille and acting as teardrops under its wrap around headlights. Bright fog lamps flank a wide lower air intake and a scalloped bonnet line leads into the raked back windscreen. Continue reading “Skoda Superb TDI 4×4 Combi 2011 Review” »

Holden Colorado “Tough Has A New Name”

December 19th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Holden Colorado – tough has a new name. A powerful 4×4 towing capacity


Jeep 4×4 Park voted top off-road venue

September 9th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Jeep Woodhill 4WD Adventure Park

Just one year after opening to the public, the Jeep Woodhill 4WD Adventure Park is proving to be a big hit with visitors and has just been voted the top off-road venue in the Auckland region.

A survey carried out by the Auckland Regional Council saw the Jeep park gaining significantly more support and recognition than any other local recreational 4×4 venue.
“It’s a big vote of thanks to the efforts we have put in to make this place an interesting, fun and safe experience for owners of four-wheel-drive vehicles and their families,” says Roger Winslade, the man behind the project.

“The support and use of the park has been going from strength-to-strength and we are looking at a number of new ideas to make it an even better attraction.

The off-road venue was created in mid-2008 with support from Jeep, to cater for the thousands of 4×4 owners who live within easy reach of Woodhill, half-an-hour to the west of Auckland. There are more than 100 kilometres of 4×4 trails over 2250 acres through the forest, ranging from easy driving to tough tests on the sand-based terrain.

As well as attracting individual owners, the park also caters for groups and clubs and is the official venue for the Jeep 101 training courses run through Jeep dealers, where Jeep owners are instructed on the safe and enjoyable way to enjoy the off-road capability of their vehicles.

David Smith, General Manager of Chrysler New Zealand, which oversees the Jeep brand in this market, says he is delighted with the public and council recognition of the park.

“We recognised the need for a professionally run four-wheel-drive venue in New Zealand and were happy to put our support behind it — Roger and his team deserve the results they are now achieving,” adds Mr Smith.

Mr Winslade says the Jeep Woodhill 4WD Adventure Park is viewed as the ideal way to enjoy four-wheel-driving without causing damage to fragile land and the environment, because the venue is a working forest that is planted on sand and is designated as an official recreational area.

Visitors to the Jeep 4WD park will be able to enjoy new experiences planned for the coming year, including the use of a commercial sand quarry at the southern end of the forest, which can be made available for special events, such as a mini off-road trials area. Another former quarry is being set up for night-time four-wheel-driving for members of off-road clubs.

To visit the Jeep Woodhill 4WD Adventure Park website, click here.

Jeep takes the cake in UK SUV test

August 28th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

jeep-cherokee-wrangler

Jeep has won the top prize in three categories of the UK’s biggest on and off-road test of 4×4 vehicles.

4×4 Magazine reviewed 67 vehicles for their annual ‘4×4 of the Year’ test and awarded marks in 10 key buying areas: on-road, off-road, comfort, safety, economy, loading, interior, styling, towing and value-for-money.

John Carroll, Editor of 4×4 Magazine, said: “This test aims to put the latest vehicles through a rigorous test and measure them in real world on- and off-road situations. In a market swamped with new 4x4s, Jeep has retained its mastery in three key segments — Budget, Mid-size and Extreme — with the Patriot, Cherokee and Wrangler.

Jeep Patriot: winner of Budget 4×4 of the Year

The judges said: “The Patriot is a huge step for Jeep — after all, the US brand built its reputation for ‘proper 4x4s’, with low range gearing and classic styling. However, in today’s green and cost-conscious climate, the Patriot opens up the Jeep legend to a wider audience. This is primarily thanks to a VW-sourced 2.0-litre turbodiesel that stretches fuel economy to over 6.8L/100km, considerably higher than anything a production Jeep could muster in the past; likewise, CO2 is well below average.”

Jeep Cherokee: winner of the Mid-size 4×4 category

“The all-new Cherokee takes Jeep to a new level. Few will quarrel with the new-look interior, which feels both roomier and is decked-out with smarter materials and comfier seats. Gone is the clumsy stable-door tailgate, replaced with a top-opening one-piece item. The rear screen still pops open separately while the boot space is more practical for loading too.

“An improved 2.8-litre turbo diesel provides torque aplenty with smooth six-manual and auto shifters, plus a revised suspension set-up that offers a better on-road drive. Best of all, though, is the Selec Trac II adaptive 4WD system with low range and hill descent control, cementing Jeep’s off-road advantage in this sector.”

Jeep Wrangler: winner of Extreme 4×4 group

“The descendant of the original 4×4 comes out on top as an extreme plaything and lifestyle vehicle. It rivals the Defender for showroom-spec off-road ability and the low-down torque of its 2.8-litre diesel means it comes pretty close to the Land Rover on rough terrain; the Americans will be wondering why they didn’t have a diesel rock-crawling Wrangler sooner. The interior is comfortable and roomy for the driver and front passenger, compared with the Defender’s, and the Wrangler is faster and smoother on-road than the Land Rover. It’s more nimble off-road than the Patrol and doesn’t have that laboured on-Tarmac feel that seems to plague the big Nissan.

“The Jeep is well appointed, with airbags (which the Defender doesn’t offer) and optional sat-nav, automatic gearbox and a soft-top. Price is a plus. It’s a deserving winner.”

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