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” »

Nissan Pathfinder Ti AWD 2014 Review

January 21st, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

Nissan’s seven-seat Pathfinder Ti comes with all-wheel drive to get the 190kW and 325Nm of power from the 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine via the CVT gearbox to the ground. It’s a big beast, and you can tow 2700kg on a braked trailer, which gives plenty of options for the large family to have large adventures.

nissan-pathfinder-ti-2014-sidenissan-pathfinder-ti-2014-rear-quarterAt just over 5m long, just under 2m wide and almost 1.8m tall you should check it will fit in your garage or parking space. But what that means is that inside the Pathfinder it is spacious and comfortable. It feels large to drive, though, with steering inputs seemingly delayed a fraction until the beast responds – something that many SUVs suffer from, and this one is two tonnes, so has some weight that can shift arround.  The driving position itself is commanding. There is excellent forward visibility. Continue reading “Nissan Pathfinder Ti AWD 2014 Review” »

Kia Carens EX 2013 Review

September 30th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

Given the hypothetical situation that I had six children I could drive a Mazda Bongo Friendee, or I could give a child away and plump for the Kia Carens with only seven seats. I realise that the Bongo Friendee, which was produced from 1995 to 2005 would be a lot cheaper to buy than a brand new Carens, but the Carens does sit at the bottom of the price range for new seven-seat vehicles and as it’s not a minimum of eight years old like the Mazda, it comes with a raft of safety features like vehicle stability control and better crash protection (5-star EuroNCAP) that will be much more preferable for my remaining five children.

kia-carens-gdi-2013-rqPlus, if I was out at a dinner party and someone asked me what I drove I would have to make my excuses and leave immediately if the phrase I had to mumble was ‘a Bongo Friendee’. How embarrassing!

So, people with prodigious loins, stop producing when you get to five children and you can own the quite astoundingly adorned Kia Carens for the sensible price of a smidge under thirty-eight grand. Sounds great, right? Well, it is and it isn’t.

kia-carens-gdi-2013-sBecause it’s so cheap you will have to accept slightly less engine refinement and fuel economy than you might expect from its 2-litre, 122kW petrol engine. 7.9 litres per 100km on the combined cycle sounds alright, but in reality it’ll be in the 9s. However, when you do the calculations compared to other seven seaters, like the Toyota Prius V, even if they’re a litre or two  per 100km more efficient, you’ll have to do a lot of driving for them to be better in the long run.

The engine can sounds a little strained when you’re trying to wring some overtaking performance out of it when loaded (but then it would, with only 213Nm of torque).

The (only) other problem with the Carens is Continue reading “Kia Carens EX 2013 Review” »

Hyundai Santa Fe 3.3 V6 Elite – Review

June 16th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

Comfort in our vehicles is an incrementally improving thing. Every year the bar that measures what equipment should come as standard is raised, and that leads to heavier and heavier vehicles that are more and more complex.

Hyundai Santa Fe Elite V6 2013 rqHyundai’s effort to raise the bar is to put heated rear seats and three rows of air conditioning in its Santa Fe SUV, a vehicle that’s less than seventy grand, but punching above its weight in the plushness stakes. Sure, this is a long way from the vibrating Continue reading “Hyundai Santa Fe 3.3 V6 Elite – Review” »

Holden Colorado 7 LTZ 2013 Review

February 22nd, 2013 by darren

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While most SUVs are tending towards the ‘soft-roader’ approach, Holden’s Colorado 7 will take you off the beaten path, along with up to three tonnes of whatever you want to pull.

Holden-Colorado-7-rq The seven-seater segment seems to be busting at the seams with options. We’ve recently had the Mistubishi Outlander and Mazda CX-9, and I swapped the Colorado for a Kia Sorento with seven pews. Who is having all these children? At least with the Colorado you Continue reading “Holden Colorado 7 LTZ 2013 Review” »

Peugeot 308 SW 2012 Review

February 1st, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

Sometimes it’s not practical or desirable to have an SUV because of parking, fuel economy and certain ‘social pressures’ meted out by people that pedal everywhere and grow courgettes. And you might be too fashion conscious to have an MPV/people mover. So what do you do with your 4 or 5 progeny when you want to take them to zoo?

This particular scenario is where 7-seat station wagons come into their own: if your life circumstances or beliefs prevent you from preventing life, there’s a fashionable, fuel-efficient, practical, environmentally friendly option waiting for you to take the keys, and it comes in the shape a Peugeot 308 SW.

But let’s get something clear: by ‘fashionable’ we don’t necessarily mean ‘pretty’. The Peugeot is not the best looker, even though in stretched form it’s certainly sleeker than its hatchback brothers, but it’s tidy from most angles and does carry a European badge and that means a lot in certain circles. It’s also a fact that the Peugeot of today looks a lot better than the Peugeot of three years ago – the design is moving in the right direction.

Fuel efficient it definitely is. Cruise quietly along the motorway at 100kph in the 2-litre turbodiesel and the 163 horses sip only 5 litres per hour. And with 340 torque monsters churning away, there’s some pep if you need to get moving. This is a nice improvement over the previous 308 SW we tested back in 2008.

Practical is its middle name. Seven seats ensure that you don’t have to leave anyone behind, and all the rear seats can be completely removed if you want a station wagon to transport DIY supplies on the weekend. The full cargo capability is 2149 litres. It’s also got lots of airbags and every type of emergency braking, stability, and traction control system you need to keep it on the black stuff and out of the trees. Continue reading “Peugeot 308 SW 2012 Review” »

Peugeot 4007 Allure SE 2012 Review

January 27th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

Funnily enough, when I walked up to Peugeot to pick this 4007 up, I casually glanced in its direction and thought, why has someone parked an Outlander there? You see, I’d only seen the 4007 in front three-quarter and rear-three quarter view, and both of those slightly obscure its Outlander origins.

If you’ve read any of the Mitsubishi Outlander reviews we’ve written then you’ll know that it’s a solid SUV contender, and the 7-seat option adds practicality. However, what Peugeot does to make the 4007 is take it and make it better. It’s like a ‘finishing school’ .

Gone (praise the deities) is the slightly annoying CVT gearbox (the main thing I don’t like about the Outlander). In its place is a conventional 6-speed, dual-clutch automatic with a sport mode and a leather-bound gear shifter. The sport mode, as you would expect, changes down earlier and up later, but in typical French fashion it’s fairly ambivalent, and this actually works well. Some manufacturers overdo it on the sports mode; Peugeot has given it just enough extra verve to make it useful.

Second, possibly because of the revised weight distribution it definitely feels slightly less wallowy, but doesn’t compromise on comfort. The suspension setup on the two vehicles is the same – a Macpherson strut up front and multi link with stabilizer at the rear.

Third, there’s an aftermarket satellite navigation system by Pantera which forms part of the rear view mirror. In theory (and when it’s working), this is a really good system. It’s easy to see – you’re used to glancing at your rear view mirror – and it’s touch screen, with a fairly intuitive interface. It didn’t work all the time though; the signal dropped out occasionally and I couldn’t find the reason why as it was a clear, sunny day. The system also includes phone integration and will play music.
Fourth, Peugeot has some customleather seats made here in NZ, and they’re wide and comfortable. Continue reading “Peugeot 4007 Allure SE 2012 Review” »

Nissan Qashqai +2 2010 Review

October 22nd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

It’s always nice to have a little bit more. Like chocolate bars that come in ‘king size’ allowing that all-important extra bite. Or that mini-series on TV that begins with a double episode. Whatever way you look at it, a good thing is only really bettered by more of a good thing. With that in mind Nissan has taken its current good thing, the big-selling Qashqai and given it just a little bit more size. The enlarged Qashqai +2 now has the space for a third row of seating, allowing two more passengers and boosting total potential capacity to seven occupants. While the Qashqai was a gamble at the start being billed as a modern alternative to the traditional hatchback it was a risk that paid off handsomely, with more than 500,000 sales globally. Then it was facelifted for 2010 and has since been well received again. But is this larger +2 model a step too far? Car and SUV spent some time with the part crossover, part people mover to get the answers.

At first glance it’s difficult to distinguish the Qashqai +2 from its standard sibling, but look closer and its dimensions are clearly chunkier. The +2 is 211mm longer to allow for the extra seat and the wheelbase has increased by 135mm. Additionally the body is taller with a flatter roofline allowing for better headroom throughout and there’s a handy 55-litres of extra cargo space.  In terms of exterior design the +2 differs little from the standard model and benefits from the smoother look brought with the recent mid-cycle facelift. Raked headlights at the front and LED two-piece fittings at the rear help give the Qashqai a distinctive look but the standard 16-inch alloys struggle to fill the raised guards. The larger Qashqai boasts some practical features like integrated roof rails, tough black plastic mouldings all round, and longer rear doors than the standard model to help entry and exit from that third row of seats.

Continue reading “Nissan Qashqai +2 2010 Review” »