November 15th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
It was back in 1999, that Mercedes-Benz revealed its first AMG-worked ML SUV – the ML55 AMG. During the following 12 years the performance SUV has sold over 24,000 units worldwide. Now the German brand is ready for the third generation of the series that will be called the 2012 ML63 AMG and will be officially revealed at this week’s 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show.
Powering the family-friendly beast is Mercedes’ 5.5-litre V8 biturbo engine that delivers 386kW of power and 700Nm of torque, representing an increase over the 375kW/630Nm output of its predecessor. If you need to do the school run even faster, there’s also an available AMG Performance Package boosts the V8 engine’s output to a crazed 410KW of power and 780Nm of torque.
With the “standard” package, acceleration from zero to 100 km/h takes just 4.7 seconds while top speed is quoted at 280 km/h. Estimated combined fuel is hardly frugal at 14.7l/100km.
Power is put to the tarmac through a permanent all-wheel drive system that operates at a ratio of 40:60 to the front and rear axle, and a standard AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS 7-speed automatic transmission featuring three driving modes – Controlled Efficiency (C) for improved fuel economy, Sport (S) and Manual (M). Continue reading “Mercedes-Benz reveals hardcore 2012 ML63 AMG” »
November 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Opel has unveiled its new Astra OPC known as the Vauxhall VXR in some markets. OPC stands for Opel Performance Centre and is the Euro brand’s in-house tuning division so this is the hottest Astra in the range.
The performance hatch is powered by a 2.0 litre turbocharged engine producing a huge 206 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque. These figures make it the most powerful Astra ever built and allow it a top speed of 250 km/h.
The large dose of power is sent exclusively to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. To help the hot hatch put that grunt to ground there’s a mechanical limited-slip differential on the front axle. The front suspension is a version of Opel’s ‘High Performance Strut’ suspension package and the car also comes with Opel’s adaptive suspension system FlexRide which includes a sports setting.
Visually the VXR is distinguished over its lesser kin by an aggressive body kit that includes aerodynamic front and rear bumpers, deep side skirting and a hatch spoiler. There’s also integrated dual exhaust outlets and XL-size alloy rims. Continue reading “Opel Astra OPC hot hatch debuts in Europe” »
October 26th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Rumors of an Audi TT-RS Plus have been floating around for a while, but new details are beginning to emerge about the even more performance focused coupe.
According to recent reports, the car will debut sometime next year with an upgraded 2.5-litre engine that will produce 283 kW. Weight-saving measures will also include dropping 60kg by removing the rear seats .
Away from the reduced weight and added performance, this mystery machine may also receive unique alloy wheels and a fixed rear spoiler. Continue reading “Rumours of mysterious Audi TT-RS Plus continue” »
October 19th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Volvo is preparing to put its V60 Plug-in Hybrid diesel car on sale in European markets from next year.
The Plug-in Hybrid has been built in close cooperation between Volvo Car Corporation and Swedish energy supplier Vattenfall.
“No industry or organisation can tackle the climate challenge all by itself. It is our mission to develop carbon dioxide-lean cars, but it is the society that is responsible for creating a sustainable future,” says Stefan Jacoby, the President and CEO of Volvo. “This project shows how cooperation between experts in different areas brings us closer to the transition from individually carbon dioxide-lean products to a climate-smart lifestyle.”
When powered solely by electricity, the V60 Plug-in Hybrid has a range of up to 50 kilometres. Continue reading “Volvo putting plug-in hybrid V60 on sale next year” »
September 15th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
More details of Subaru’s rear-wheel drive BRZ sports car have emerged at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
The BRZ Prologue concept has been designed to show the drivetrain beneath a transparent body. The unorthodox approach shows a fully new FA Boxer engine, exclusively designed for the car.
Subaru claims the 2.0 litre alloy engine’s light-weight, compact size and low centre of gravity produces strong handling stability and driving excitement. The engine sits 120 mm lower and is positioned 240 mm closer to the centre of the chassis than existing Subaru models.
The BRZ Prologue features MacPherson strut front suspension and double wishbones at the rear, and will rely on driving dynamics rather than power output to be successful. Continue reading “More details released on Subaru’s BRZ sports car” »
September 13th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Toyota NZ has revealed initial information of the facelifted 2012 Hilux which will be available in Toyota showrooms later this month.
Toyota NZ General Manager of Sales and Operations, Steve Prangnell said “Hilux has built its reputation around being unbreakable. We’re taking the tough and reliable truck that so many New Zealanders love and making it even better with a fresh line-up, improved safety and bold new looks. These latest changes will substantially improve the value of Hilux for our customers and further strengthen Hilux’s position as New Zealand’s favourite truck.”
A new model has been added to the Hilux range – a standard grade 4WD extra cab ute with a 3.0 litre turbo diesel engine and a five-speed manual transmission.
Cosmetic changes include a completely new Landcruiser-inspired front end, this means new guards, headlights, bumper, bonnet and grille. At the rear, there’s new tailights and a replaced rear bumper. There’s also new mirrors and alloy wheel designs. Continue reading “Facelifted 2012 Toyota Hilux on sale in NZ this month” »
September 13th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Fans of Ford’s performance offerings have something to celebrate this week with the official reveal of the new Focus ST. Known in NZ as the Focus XR5 Turbo, the new ST will debut in production guise at this week’s 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show and in the lead up, details and images have reached the web.
While the production hot hatch isn’t a significant departure from its concept predecessor, what’s really interesting is the inclusion of a station wagon body in the Focus ST range. Sadly, this performance wagon won’t reach as many global markets as the hatch and will likely be a European only offering, so don’t expect to see any down here in NZ.
Both the hatch and wagon feature the same 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder under the bonnet with a power output of 186kW and a healthy 360Nm of max torque. The high-tech engine comes mated to a 6-speed manual that pushes grunt to the front wheels only. That’s a lot of power for the front treads to handle so Ford has worked hard to avoid torque-steer issues with its electronic power assisted steering and torque steer compensation system. Both systems work together to minimize the wheel-tugging effects often associated with high power front-wheel drivers. Continue reading “2012 Ford Focus ST hot hatch unveiled in production form” »
September 13th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Suzuki NZ has added a new highly-specified Swift to its model range – the Swift RS. Billed as a limited edition variant the RS receives extra luxury and equipment.
The RS version is based on the Swift five-door hatchback and is the first special edition since the arrival of the new generation series earlier this year. With its higher level of standard equipment, the RS is the most equipped Swift ever sold in New Zealand.
Extra features include a tilt and telescopic adjustable steering column, keyless locking and the push button start/stop function which is inherited from the Suzuki Kizashi sedan. There’s also a full climate control system with a digital readout replacing standard air conditioning on other Swifts, and the RS has Bluetooth hands-free mobile telephone connection. A six-speaker audio system includes a USB input for MP3 or iPod music player functions, and can be controlled by switches on the steering wheel.
Mechanically, the RS benefits from four wheel disc brakes, previously only available on the high performance Swift Sport model. The new 1.4-litre K14B four-cylinder engine introduced for the latest generation Swift is retained for the RS version. This powerplant produces 70 kW of power while averaging 5.5 litres/100 km in the combined fuel cycle, or 6.2 litres/100 km for the automatic. Continue reading “High-spec Suzuki Swift RS added to NZ range” »