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” »

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” »

Nissan Juke Ti 2012 Review

April 24th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

For a car that’s a shade under $34,000 I was surprised at just how solidly built the Nissan Juke feels to drive. But then, I shouldn’t be surprised: look at it. You could stick an M16 machine gun on the top, paint it in camo and it wouldn’t look out of place as a military rapid response vehicle.

Nissan says it’s a cross between a sports car and an SUV. This is not true – there’s nothing much sporty about 86kW and 158Nm of torque and it is slow. However, it does drive very well, it’s not that thirsty for its size – 6.3l/100km on the combined cycle (I managed 6.7) – and there’s enough room for four adults and some light luggage.

In a market where some manufacturers produce boring-looking vehicles Nissan has (if you exclude the more conventional Tiida and Wingroad, and the corporate-styled Maxima) elected to create Continue reading “Nissan Juke Ti 2012 Review” »

Behind the Scenes of Kia Concept Cars

February 28th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Ever wondered what it takes to create those concept cars that wow the motoring public at international car shows?

Wonder no more. Kia Motors has lifted the veil of secrecy by letting cameras behind the scenes to view how it turned a few fanciful sketches into its latest creation, the Kia Track’ster, which was shown off at the recent Chicago Auto Show.

The Kia Motors Design Studio in California agreed to let US motoring magazine Motor Trend film the 9-month process for its new internet venture, the Motor Trend Channel, shown on YouTube.

The Track’ster, which is based on the Kia Soul, garnered rave reviews at the Chicago event and hinted at the future direction Kia designers might take with the stylish crossover.

In a segment on Motor Trend Channel called The Downshift, which looks behind the scenes of the industry, the process of creating the Track’ster takes viewers back nine months before the Chicago unveiling. It starts at the Kia Motors design headquarters at Irvine, where all team members present ideas for future concept cars in the form of a colourful movie-style poster. The Track’ster stood out as the best idea, with its designers saying it was inspired by motor racing and, interestingly, details taken from snow ski boots and goggles!

From there, detailed sketches of the proposed concept car were finalised and then a 1/4 scale model created to give designers their first view of how their creation would appear in 3-D. The surface data of that model was scanned into a 5-axis milling machine that created a full-sized clay model of the Track’ster laid over a steel skeleton, which the designers could then hone by hand. The model was then scanned to computer and the details sent to specialist vehicle shop Aria Group to turn into the real thing, using an actual Soul, stripped back, as the base of the concept.

Individual components, such as the racing-style dashboard and the tool boxes and spare wheel well built into the rear of the car, were fabricated and laid out for the design team to inspect, before being fitted to the modified frame of the Soul.

Then it was painted, assembled and upholstered, and transported back to Irvine for the final sign-off and delivery to the auto show, where the stunning 3-door, 250-horsepower hatchback gained everyone else’s approval.

Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand, says the four-and-a-half minute video reveals a fascinating insight into the design process at Kia Motors and highlights the continuing evolution of the Kia brand.

“Kia, as a brand, has become synonymous with leading design and that really comes across in this footage, whilst demonstrating the meticulous process in creating a concept car,” he adds.

The footage, entitled ‘How To Build A Concept Car’ can be viewed at YouTube, by entering Motor Trend and The Downshift Episode 3 in the search box.

Peugeot reveals Mitsubishi-based 4008 crossover

October 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Peugeot has pulled the covers off its first foray into the compact crossover segment with its new 4008 model. The small SUV is scheduled for a global reveal next March at the Geneva Motor Show before going on sale in select markets from May 2012.

The 4008 will find a place in the Peugeot range below the larger 3008 and 4007 models and is based on the Mitsubishi ASX. It is the latest in a string of collaborations after the PSA Peugeot-Citroën group formed an agreement with Mitsubishi in early 2010.

Initially, the new crossover will be made available with four engines but we may not see all of them here in NZ. There’s an even split of two petrol and two diesel units. The petrol engines include a 1.6-litre unit producing 87kW and 152 Nm of torque, and a larger 2.0-litre with 112kW and 198Nm of torque. Both engines are mated to a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, with a CVT auto optional with the 2.0-litre motor. Continue reading “Peugeot reveals Mitsubishi-based 4008 crossover” »

Peugeot HX1 crossover concept revealed before Frankfurt debut

August 30th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Peugeot has revealed the striking lines of its latest concept car – the HX1 before it officially debuts at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. Peugeot claims the concept marks the future of crossover vehicles and can seat up to six adults.

The HX1 is certainly low-slung, it measures 4.95 metres long, 1.99 high and has a height of just 1.37 metres. Coefficient drag is a very low 0.28, making the HX1 very advanced in terms of aerodynamics. Achieving this figure is helped by clever tech in the side skirting and spoilers and also wheel blades that open up to form a flat surface.

Other tricks include five rear-hinged half-scissor doors and trick seating which can create a centre row by a set of pull out buckets integrated into the front seats.

Powering the HX1 is an all-wheel drive diesel-electric motor with a 2.2 litre HDI unit for a combined output of 220kW. The HX1 can travel up to 30km in full electric mode and has an economy rating of just 3.2-litres/100km. Continue reading “Peugeot HX1 crossover concept revealed before Frankfurt debut” »

Mazda reveals new CX-5 crossover ahead of Frankfurt debut

August 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda has just revealed its all-new 2012 Mazda CX-5 compact crossover ahead of its world debut at the upcoming2011 Frankfurt Auto Show.

The new crossover is based on the Minagi concept vehicle, which was revealed earlier this year, and is the first new model to use the ‘Kodo’ design language.

The CX-5 styling includes a new prominent corporate face with a five-point grille and touches of chrome trim. The word ‘Kodo’ means soul of motion in Japanese and there is plenty of dynamic flair to the CX-5’s shape. It also hints at the design of the next generation of Mazda’s hatchbacks and sedan models.

The CX-5 will also be the first model to feature Mazda’s new SKYACTIV green technologies which includes gasoline and diesel engines, manual and automatic transmissions and lightweight construction methods.

The engine range for the European-spec CX-5 will include the new SkyActiv-G 2.0 petrol engine and also the SkyActiv-D 2.2 diesel engine in two power outputs. The diesel models will push their power through a front-wheel-drive layout and a SkyActiv-MT manual transmission. Continue reading “Mazda reveals new CX-5 crossover ahead of Frankfurt debut” »

Audi considering Q5 crossover/cabriolet – seriously

May 11th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Is there really a market for crossover-cabriolet vehicles or is it just one niche too far? Nissan were the first to try and find out the answer with its Murano CrossCabriolet revealed late last year and now it would seem Audi wants a slice of that action as well.

Reports coming out of Europe are claiming that Audi is already at work on a cabriolet version of the Q5. While details remain scarce the new model will likely be based on the Audi Cross Cabriolet Quattro concept (pictured) which first premiered at the Frankfurt Auto Show back in 2007. The Audi Q5 cabriolet is expected to retain the two-door configuration of the concept, and should feature a soft-top roof. An electric motor will handle opening and closing the roof.

The Audi Q5 cabrio will not be an uncompromising driver’s car by any means, but more a highly styled cruiser with high quality materials and unique styling. Expect it to be priced accordingly. Continue reading “Audi considering Q5 crossover/cabriolet – seriously” »

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