NZ Car of the Year Award – finalists announced

November 22nd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Ten cars, ranging from mainstream models from Japan and Korea through to exclusive European luxury machines have been selected as finalists for the 2010 New Zealand Car of the Year Award.

Voted for annually by more than three dozen established motoring journalists, each of whom is a member of the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild, the award is the country’s most comprehensive. It is also the most respected by the car industry itself, being the embodiment of the opinions of experts representing every automotive medium.

This includes the motoring sections of the country’s major daily and weekly newspapers, several automotive websites, car and lifestyle magazines, and a number of radio and television outlets.

Over several months, the Guild’s Car of the Year committee has assembled its shortlist of finalists, which has been selected from all new models launched in New Zealand during the 12 months prior to 1 November 2009.

The cars on the 2010 shortlist include (in alphabetical order) the new Audi A5, the latest iteration of the BMW 5-series, Hyundai’s recently launched iX35 small SUV, the radical new Jaguar XJ saloon, and the Kia Sportage SUV. A pair of Peugeots — the striking new RCZ sport car and 3008 crossover – have also made the cut as finalists, as has the second-generation Porsche Cayenne, the Skoda Yeti mini-SUV and Suzuki’s first full-sized saloon, the Kizashi.

Continue reading “NZ Car of the Year Award – finalists announced” »

BMW X5 xDrive 40d 2011 Review

November 19th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The first generation BMW arrived ready to party, and so it did. It partied like it was 1999, because it was. The good times didn’t end there either, and in the following years the X5 helped trailblaze what we now know as the luxury SUV category. Naturally it had its haters, those who said it had been beaten with the ugly stick and those who called it a “insert posh local area” tractor. But it proved resilient and broadly appealing and just recently clocked up a very impressive 1 million units sold worldwide. It was in 2006 that the X5 entered its second generation, while already well established it further built on the strengths of the first model. Now for 2010 the X5 has been given a visual refresh and a reworked engine line-up. Car and SUV spent a week with the new X5 xDrive40d to see exactly what’s new and find out if the big BMW has still got it.

Styling on the X5 has only been changed subtlety since the first-generation with the 2010 updates being a further tweak. Although the changes are minor they are effective and the X5 looks every bit as modern as competitors. The X5 nose hosts the most noticeable changes with a new front bumper sporting larger side intakes and repositioned fog lamps. There’s more colour coding in the sheet metal and LED tail lamps now feature a smart L-shaped design. Elsewhere it’s business as usual with clean, tidy lines and handsome styling that will offend very few. Our test vehicle looked particularly striking with its Alpine White hue maximizing the X5’s bulky dimensions and the optional aluminum running boards and 20-inch (19s as standard) alloy wheels.

Continue reading “BMW X5 xDrive 40d 2011 Review” »

BMW drops details on new 6-Series convertible – in NZ next year

November 19th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Details and images of the all new BMW 6 Series convertible have been released ahead of its launch in New Zealand in mid 2011.

Styling has been upgraded and has a broader appeal than the outgoing model with a sweeping bonnet, set-back passenger compartment, long wheelbase and flat waistline showing refreshed proportions for BMW’s newest machine.

Bigger in all directions except in height the new 6 Series is 75mm longer, 40mm wider and 10mm shorter top-to-bottom than its predecessor while its wheelbase has also stretched to 2855mm.

Powering the BMW 650i is a 4.4-litre direct-injected eight-cylinder engine which develops a maximum 300 kW and peak torque of 600 Nm.  It is partnered with an eight-speed Sports automatic gearbox as standard.

The 0-100km/h sprint is now covered in less than 5 seconds, completing the run in 4.9 seconds which shaves a few hundredths off the 5.2 seconds of the outgoing model.

BMW has stuck with and electronic opening fabric roof in the new 6 Series convertible model, it can open in 19 seconds and close in 24 at speeds up to 40km/h.

“The BMW 6 Series Convertible is crafted with meticulous attention to detail, offers leading-edge technology and also boasts unrivalled driving dynamics,” said the Managing Director of BMW Group New Zealand, Mark Gilbert. “We are confident this vehicle will establish a niche following amongst connoisseurs of fine motor vehicles.”

Continue reading “BMW drops details on new 6-Series convertible – in NZ next year” »

Paul ‘The Modfather’ Weller creates unique Mini for charity

November 17th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Like its near relation BMW, Mini likes to dabble a bit with art cars. Often they team up with top fashion designers to produce a one-off model which are then auctioned off for the benefit of HIV/AIDS research and awareness. That said, the latest special Mini is something different entirely.

For this unique model, Mini got in touch with British musician Paul Weller. Often known as “The Modfather,” Weller was a member of successful bands The Jam and The Style Council before embarking on a solo career. This is the first time Weller has lent his hand to automotive art.

Weller’s inspiration for the design – which features bold pink and brown stripes across the car’s entire body and is finished with a single silver line running up the bonnet and over the roof – comes from the colours in a Ben Sherman shirt he designed for the clothing brand some years ago.

Mini UK’s Director, Jochen Goller says “Both Mini and Paul Weller are synonymous with the quintessential British mod scene. That’s why we were the ideal match to create this unique car.”

Paul Weller said “I’ve always loved and driven Minis so when I was given the opportunity to design a bespoke Mini Cooper I wanted to create something that reflected the mood and colours associated with the Mod era, which was also the classic Mini’s hey day. I’d already expressed these colours in a shirt I designed for Ben Sherman a few years ago, so it made sense to me to continue the theme using a Mini Cooper as a palate.

The special pink-striped Mini he designed is being auctioned online to benefit the War Child and Nordoff Robins charities.

Check out more images of the Modfather Mini in the gallery below. Continue reading “Paul ‘The Modfather’ Weller creates unique Mini for charity” »

BMW Unscripted – Sabine Smitz, Queen of the Nurburgring

November 9th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

BMW Unscripted – Sabine Smitz, Queen of the Nurburgring

BMW announces production plans for Megacity vehicle

November 8th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The BMW Group is expanding its plant in Leipzig (150km southwest of Berlin) to make it the first location in Germany equipped to handle the large-scale production of zero-emission electric cars.

In the period up to 2013, around €400 million will be invested at the plant in new buildings and machinery for the production of the Megacity Vehicle (MCV) and some 800 jobs will be created in the process.

The plant expansion was launched on Friday by German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel and Dr Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, together with the Prime Minister of the German state of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich, and the Governor of Washington state in the US, Chris Gregoire.

“By producing the Megacity Vehicle in Germany the BMW Group is demonstrating a clear commitment to Germany as a high-tech location. With this vehicle we are revolutionising automotive design and production, and offering our customers the first purpose-built electric vehicle for urban areas. This will be the world’s first volume-produced car with a passenger compartment made from lightweight CFRP, as less weight enables a longer range,” explained Reithofer.

“We made a conscious decision to produce the car in Germany, at our plant in Leipzig — our newest and most cutting-edge facility with the most flexible structures,” he added.

The Megacity electric vehicle will have its body panels formed from carbon fiber, but also its structure. The Megacity will become the first high volume vehicle with this type of construction. Previously, carbon fibre structures have been limited to race cars and supercars like the McLaren F1 and the new MP4-12c.

Continue reading “BMW announces production plans for Megacity vehicle” »

BMW working on 1-Series convertible facelift

October 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Early details of the updated BMW 1 Series Convertible facelift have shown up on the web as the updated version has been spied in the open. Taking into account the areas on the facelifted vehicle that BMW engineers were keen to cover, there is a lot of speculation which areas have been restyled.

The 1 Series Convertible facelift will most likely have a freshly designed front bumper, with a more aggressive look, new air vents and a replacement lower front grille. The headlights and rear light clusters have also had a re-designed, with the rear lights now upgraded to LEDs. The interior of the car will also receive treatment, not least the addition of the Connected Drive system.

The world debut of the BMW 1 Series Convertible facelift is predicted for the Detroit Motor Show at the beginning of next year.

Rossin-Bertin Vorax is Brazil’s V10-powered Supercar

October 26th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Brazil is well known for a few things like it’s fancy football and bubble-butted women but not for its supercars. That may be set to change with the Rossin-Bertin Vorax that will make its debut at the Sao Paulo Auto Show shortly. There’s no doubt the styling won’t be to all tastes but the Vorax has some serious credentials with a carbon fibre body and aluminium chassis. According to its makers, it will weigh just 1,300 kg and be powered by a hard-tuned 5.0-litre V10 lifted from the current BMW M5.

Although untested at this stage, the “base model” 425 kW Vorax should reach 100 km/h in just 3.8 seconds and go on to a top speed of 330 km/h. Meanwhile, the harder core 559 kW supercharged variant can do just 3.6 seconds to 100kph and a 372 km/h top speed.

The creators of the Vorax wanted to build a supercar that could compete with the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche – a ambitious goal.

Production of the Vorax coupe will begin at a manufacturing plant in Blumenau, Brazil later this year or early 2012. A convertible version is scheduled to follow the coupe a year later. The plan is to sell between 500 and 1,000 Voraxes for around US$409,836 each.

Check out images of the Rossin-Bertin Vorax in the gallery below.