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” »

Subaru: 2014 WRX Premium review

May 21st, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

DSC_0064As a former WRX STI owner I always look forward to driving the newest incarnation. Mine was a version 4, back in the late 1990s, and I loved it as much as I loved Star Wars when I was kid. Until now I’ve been stuck in that halcyon era of big noise, big exhausts and torquey turbocharged boxer engines. I might just have changed my mind. Continue reading “Subaru: 2014 WRX Premium review” »

Toyota: 2014 Land Cruiser Prado VX V6 review

May 13th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

toyota-land-cruiser-prado-2014-rear-quarterOne of those ads out there says that big is good. This Land Cruiser is so big that each one they build has a bottle of champagne cracked across its bow and is released from the factory down a slipway. Continue reading “Toyota: 2014 Land Cruiser Prado VX V6 review” »

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” »

Nissan Juke Ti-S 2013 Review

February 11th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

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We drove a Juke Ti back in April 2012 and our main complaint was that it was slow, and that’s not surprising seeing as the standard Juke has a piffling 86kW at 6000rpm. The gods of grunt have waved their hands over the Juke Ti-S, though, endowing its 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine with a turbocharger which lifts power to 140kW, and four-wheel drive to make sure it gets it all to the ground.

IMG_2742It’s like the difference between firing an air rifle and a bazooka.  Gone is the need to try to force the pedal through the firewall to get any kind of acceleration because torque is also substantially increased from 158Nm at 400rpm to 250Nm in a nice flat band from 2000-5000rpm. The Juke Ti-S seems like it gets to 100kph in around 8 seconds which is pretty respectable for this type of car; the Ti languishes like a tortoise, taking around 12 seconds to get to 100kph. Continue reading “Nissan Juke Ti-S 2013 Review” »

Hyundai ix35 2.4 Elite AWD Series II 2014 Review

December 28th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

The time to update the ix35 arrived a little before this new model. We last had an ix35 back in 2010 and since then the crossover challengers upped their game and the ix35 slipped down the rankings in terms of its competitiveness. We noted the strong engine, sharp styling, economy and equipment levels in the review (which you can read here), so how does this update treat the ix35?

hyundai-ix35-2.4-elite-awd-rear-quarterThe styling hasn’t changed significantly – headlights and alloys, both with more modern detailing, plus new colour options and roof rails – so you won’t notice much difference. Hyundai is working on colours that are branding statements themselves and you can have yours in Atomic Orange, Remington Red and a few other more muted tones.

The ix35’s styling has aged well in its short lifetime, and all that was needed was a freshen up. And so we have this model which is essentially a facelift.

hyundai-ix35-2.4-elite-awd-front-interiorOn the inside there’s a slightly larger LCD between the rev counter and speedometer which shows the trip computer. The steering wheel features a couple of buttons for answering a Bluetooth-connected phone, plus a button to change the steering feeling to one of three modes (Flexsteer) – something that helps fix the vague steering we noted in the previous review. The rest of the interior is virtually identical.

The new audio system will stream audio via Bluetooth, and you can plug your phone in as well as use more conventional audio sources. Continue reading “Hyundai ix35 2.4 Elite AWD Series II 2014 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” »

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