Isuzu: 2014 MU-X and D-Max 4×4 LS-T review

December 15th, 2014 by Robert Barry

Isuzu Ute first introduced its luxury specification seven-seat MU-X SUV to the New Zealand market just in time for the National Fieldays, and the one-size-fits all variant is available from dealerships for $65,990. Continue reading “Isuzu: 2014 MU-X and D-Max 4×4 LS-T review” »

Renault: 2014 Koleos 4×4 2.5-litre review

September 11th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

I’m constantly intrigued by new words and whenever I review a car I find out the etymology behind the name. Koleos is Greek and, as far as I can tell, spelled κολεός. Try putting that in Google Translate and, well, you’ll find a very Latin name for a very female part of the body.

But I digress, and today I’m driving around in a black Koleos. It’s a medium-sized SUV with a few Nissan X-Trail underpinnings that has proper off-road four-wheel drive capabilities, although looking at the tyres and given the amount of rain we’ve just had I’m not that keen on driving on anything that isn’t at least a partial product of fractal distillation. Continue reading “Renault: 2014 Koleos 4×4 2.5-litre review” »

Jeep: 2014 Cherokee Limited V6 review

July 31st, 2014 by Robert Barry

When the first pictures of the new Jeep Cherokee leaked out of America, many people including myself looked at it and wondered what the design team had been smoking on their tea break.

The square boxy KK series Jeep Cherokee as we all knew it, had been consigned to the rubbish bin, replaced by a modern and contemporary-looking SUV that wouldn’t look out of place in the showroom of any Korean, Japanese, or European brand.

The radical exterior design of the new KL series Cherokee divides the rugged lower body and smooth upper body by the key waterline feature and a waterfall bonnet says Jeep. Continue reading “Jeep: 2014 Cherokee Limited V6 review” »

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.


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” »

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