Citroen C3 – diesel class

December 20th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

The new Citroen C3 – the cleanest diesel in its class

How diesel engines work and combustion theory

December 19th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Information on how diesel engines work and combustion theory with gas engine references.

Subaru expand Legacy and Outback diesel range

September 25th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Subaru Outback 2010 f

Subaru has expanded its All Wheel Drive Legacy and Outback model ranges with the launch of a diesel model of both cars to complement the 2010 new generation Legacy and Outback petrol models launched last month.

The two cars share the larger new generation Legacy and Outback chassis and body platform.  They follow an initial launch of Legacy and Outback diesels late last year.

“The launch of our first ever Boxer Diesel models last year was a toe in the water exercise,” said Graeme Woodlands, the Managing Director of Subaru of New Zealand. “We were pleasantly surprised how well they were accepted by the market with sales from the two models about 15% of our sales over that period.”

The cars come with officially measured overall fuel consumptions of between 5.9 and 6.4-litres per 100kms and meet Euro4 emission levels. Drivers can keep an eye on their progress with an economy gauge and the fuel consumption read out.

The Outback Boxer Diesel is now one of the most economical 4WD SUVs available in New Zealand with fuel economy of just 6.4-litres per 100km. And the Legacy Boxer Diesel is one of the most economical medium sized diesel cars available locally with the Legacy 2.0D Sedan rated at 5.9 l/100km and the Legacy 2.0D Wagon rated at 6.1 l/100km.

The Outback 2.5i CVT petrol model recently launched last month was the most efficient petrol-powered Medium SUV in New Zealand.  The Outback 2.0D Boxer Diesel model is now the most efficient diesel-powered Medium SUV in New Zealand according to official fuel economy figures.

Since the original diesel engine models were introduced last year, changes have been made to the 2.0-litre motor to further reduce emissions, weight and NVH and improve fuel efficiency. The engine is still rated at 110 kWs at 3600 rpm, with 350 Nm of the all-important torque available from a lowly 1800 rpm.

To find out more about the new Subaru diesel range, click here to visit the Subaru NZ website.

Subaru adds diesel to Forester range

September 18th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Subaru Forester Diesel

Subaru has added a diesel engined variant to its Forester compact SUV model range here in NZ.

With 350 Nm of torque at a lowly 1800 rpm, the Forester 2.0 Euro spec model is powered by the same 2.0-litre Boxer Diesel engine used in the new generation Legacy and Outback diesel.

The Forester 2.0D Euro spec comes as a single model with a six speed manual gearbox at $45,990.

“Having a diesel model in the compact SUV market is becoming increasingly important,” said Graeme Woodlands, the Managing Director of Subaru of New Zealand.

“It offers customers the chance to access a more economical option with fewer emissions.”

The Forester Boxer Diesel has an overall fuel consumption of 6.3 litres/100 kilometres under EC regulations with emissions of 167 grams/km, making it one of the more economical and green compact SUVs.

In fact of all the diesel-powered SUV’s available on the New Zealand Market, Forester is one of the most efficient available, only being surpassed in terms of fuel economy by Toyota’s RAV4

Forester is one of the few compact SUVs to come with a permanent All Wheel Drive system, while many of its rivals offer part time systems where the 4WD has to be engaged manually or is only done automatically once wheels begin to slip.

The Forester offers strong handling and control on all road conditions. With its All Wheel Drive system, low slung Boxer engine and consequent low centre of gravity and symmetrical drive train combining to provide better handling than many road-only passenger cars.

The Forester diesel is now available from your local Subaru dealer.

Ford complete development of Scorpion V8 engine

September 1st, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Ford Scorpion V8 s

The recent problems Ford has had with its long-time heavy duty diesel engine supplier Navistar will soon be coming to an end. The 2011 edition of the Ford Super Duty pickup truck is set for an all-new diesel V8 designed in-house and code-named Scorpion. The next time Ford has any reliability issues with its big diesels, it can only blame itself.

Very little is being retained from the outgoing powerplant, officially the Scorpion retains the Power Stroke badge, but that and a V-configuration of eight-cylinders are all that’s kept. The Scorpion engine makes use of some new technologies that have been appearing on other recent engines, both gas and diesel units, as well as adding a few new tricks, particularly the turbocharger. The biggest change is the move to an inside-out layout. Since the early days of the V8s, most engines have had the intake system mounted in the valley between the banks with the exhaust on the outside. More recently there has been a trend to switch this around like BMW’s new turbocharged gas V8 and GM’s Duramax 4500.

The Scorpion will have a 6.7-litre displacement and will be used from 2011.

Techart tweak Porsche Cayenne diesel

July 9th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Porsche Cayenne diesel techart fq

If you want your Porsche Cayenne to be a true powerhouse then buy the range topping Turbo S with 550 horsepower. If that’s not enough, there are plenty of aftermarket tuners willing to take it even further, but if you were looking for power and speed without sacrificing too much fuel, for the most part you were advised to look elsewhere. A big SUV isn’t exactly the ideal platform for fuel economy or great performance, until it’s put into the hands of the Porsche tuning maestros at Techart.

Boosting output from 240 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque to a hefty 290 hp and 465 lb-ft, the Techart Cayenne Diesel improves the 0-100kph time of 8.3 seconds to a handy 7.7 seconds, all without harming the vehicle’s fuel economy or emissions numbers. That’s some clever work, but apparently the most impressive part is the enhanced torque curve that provides the Cayenne with accessible power from as low as 1,000 rpm.

Techart has got into the exterior mods as well with a unique Aerokit 1 for the diesel sport-ute, graduating its stance while improving airflow, and finishing it with giant 21-inch alloys or optional 22s. The British tuning house offers a complete turnkey model at £55,500 with the body kit and engine mods, or can fit an existing diesel Cayenne with the Aerokit for £15,000 and the engine kit for £2,500.

Audi ceases plans for R8 V12 TDI

May 7th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Audi R8 V12 TDI

When Audi’s R8 V12 TDI was unveiled at the 2008 Detroit Motor Show, the automotive world was excited by the idea of a fuel-efficient, torquey and potent diesel vehicle that could rival Lamborghinis and Ferraris in performance. Now sadly new reports say the global industry downturn has claimed the diesel-burning R8 as its latest victim.

At 5.5L and 373kW/1001Nm of torque, the R8 TDI’s V12 engine was a modern and inspiring unit. Based around the company’s dominating Le Mans diesel engine design, the V12 TDI was expected to be a sure hit with high-performance aficionados and diesel lovers. When a second concept was revealed at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show, many thought the car was bound for production.

But the high-tech V12 engine and the research and development that goes into it equate to mammoth costs – costs that are just too high for a road-going car to warrant. Audi is quick to point out that just because the market isn’t currently at a level that could make the car a successful business proposition doesn’t mean it won’t be at some point in the future. And it won’t be letting its diesel racing technology languish in the mean time, so while the R8 V12 TDI may be dead, it could still be part of Audi’s plans for the future.

Toyota RAV4 Diesel 2009 Review

March 5th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham


In 1994 the first generation RAV4 (Recreational Activity Vehicle 4WD) was released and rapidly swept into the consciousness of New Zealand’s female population. The RAV4 possessed an uncanny ability to change a women’s perception of a car as just something to go from A to B, to seeing it as a lifestyle accessory. Carrying Toyota’s reputation for reliability and its obvious exterior durability was enough to gain husbands, boyfriends and fathers ticks of approval, and that’s why so many Kiwi men have wives, girlfriends and daughters who at some stage have owned a RAV4. Through the late 90s the RAV4 was rivaled only by the Suzuki Vitara for Kiwi women’s 4WD affections. Where the Vitara had a more traditional 4WD 2-box shape, the RAV4 had more colourful styling with a rounded shape and large-windows for being seen.  Now, the third generation RAV4 has sauntered into the NZ marketplace, but are its moves smooth enough to make it a real hit with the ladies, or has its sex appeal been sacrificed for modern practicalities?

Good looks count and while the RAV4 has kept its curved charm, dimensions have noticeably swelled. Extra length and width have resulted in a vehicle that sits now firmly in the small-medium 4WD segment, and with only a 4-door version on offer those seeking a cute micro 4WD will have to look toward Suzuki or Daihatsu. That said, the RAV4 is well proportioned and sleek carrying a low 0.33 coefficient drag – impressive for an SUV-styled contour. Well-rounded front and back, the RAV4 achieves a sporty look thanks to a raked-back windscreen and large headlights that are reclined into the front guards. The generous windows still feature but are tapered off at the back leaving a wide rear pillar. Ruby-jeweled headlights flank a usefully large tailgate. While the black/grey bumpers were part of the older model’s charm, now colour-coded exterior moldings and spare wheel casing give the RAV4 more formal attire. Exclusive 17-inch alloys finish off the new look. Overall, there is no argument the RAV4 has gained in size but the accompanying makeover is effectively disguising, and the lower, wider stance looks sharp and adds greater stability than its predecessors.

With its clean-cut passable looks, the RAV4 will inspire many to find out what’s on the inside. The larger exterior dimensions pay dividends with a light and spacious cabin, which can seat three adults comfortably in the back.  The rear seat can be slid back and forward to adjust available boot space, and the seat can be folded flat with a quick-pull leaver giving an impressive 1469-litre capacity (586 litres with seats up). The interior quality is markedly improved over that of former RAVs with many soft touch materials used and firm movement to everything that opens and closes. Brushed aluminum look trim mixes with dark plastics on a two-tier dashboard that creates a sense of functional flair. There is an overall feeling of strength to the cabin’s appointments so the RAV4’s reputation for long-term durability should be maintained. The seats are supportive and although the driving position allows for excellent visibility it is very upright and perched making it difficult for taller drivers to get comfortable.

The RAV4’s equipment list is impressive with a 6-disc CD changer, cruise control, trip computer, climate control, fog lamps and a glove box cooler. An on/off switch for the passenger airbag furthers the vehicle’s family appeal.

Once well acquainted with the RAV4 why not check out under the bonnet. A 2.2 litre 4cyl turbo-diesel sits up front, producing 100kW of power at 3600rpm. With common-rail injection and a healthy 310Nm of torque, the RAV4 offers ample mid-range pulling power. It’s no rocket ship off the line but will reach 100kph in a reasonable 9.3 seconds. The motor is a very useful unit around town but on the open road the RAV4’s porky 1585kg kerb weight is more noticeable and will require the driver to work the gears frequently. Fuel economy is very frugal only sipping away 6.6l/100km combined – one of the RAV4’s greatest strengths.

An automatic transmission is not available on the RAV4 yet, something Toyota will be working overtime on. The manual transmission does have a long throw, but finds the gear easily and partnered up with a light clutch pedal is totally user-friendly.

When it comes to ride and handling the RAV4 has favourable on-road manners, and would be hard to match for true car-like feel within the 4WD segment. The suspension doesn’t feel floaty even with the vehicle unladen and absorbs potholes and bumps well. On twisty roads, body roll is evident but the RAV4 never feels out of its depth changing direction at reasonable speeds. While cruising the RAV4 maintains a decent level of refinement, wind and road noise are minimal and the diesel motor, although audible remains generally unobtrusive.

Most RAV4s will only leave the tarmac to get two wheels on the kerb of a narrow city street, but if you must get dirty with your RAV4 it has legitimate off-road capability. An Active Drive System is standard including Active Torque Control (ATC) that automatically transfers torque between the front and rear wheels whenever necessary for optimum traction. Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Electric Power Steering are also ready to get involved. My only gripe with this system is the electric steering that I found to be over-lightened and vague therefore negating driver input.

Safety credentials are all in check with driver and passenger front airbags, side airbags, front and rear curtain shield airbags and a driver’s knee airbag all standard equipment.

So has the RAV4 still got it? Yes it does, it has much more in terms of equipment, refinement and pulling power now than it did in the past but a price has been paid. It’s not the lady-killing lothario it once was because the RAV4 has matured into a sensible 4WD at the cost of the fun attitude that attracted many to the first generation. Without a 2-door variant on offer its official – the RAV4 has grown up. The increased dimensions and practicality show it no longer desires single women and now requires a family to put it to full use. That said, it remains a very good vehicle and will prove popular for the many buyers looking to hit that sweet spot between car-based station wagons and truck-based 4WDs.

Price: from $38,690

What we like:

  • Strong exterior and interior quality
  • Great fuel economy
  • Favourable on-road manners

What we don’t like:

  • Vague lightweight steering
  • Diesel motor lacks power
  • Lost some character

Words and photos: Adam Mamo

Toyota RAV4 Diesel (2009) – Specifications


Model Code 2AD-FTV
Type: In-line, 4 Cylinder, 16 Valve, DOHC Chain Drive
Aspiration: Turbo Charged
Capacity: 2231 cc
Engine Size: 2.2 Litre
Bore: 86.0 mm
Stroke: 96.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 16.9 : 1
Number of Cylinders: 4
Number of Valves: 16
Max. Power: 100 kW
Max. Power: Max. 3600 rpm
Max. Torque: 310 Nm
Max. Torque: Min. 2000 rpm
Max. Torque: Max. 2800 rpm
Fuel System: Induction Type Common Rail Direct Injection
Fuel Type: Diesel
Tank Capacity: 60 Litres
CO2 Emissions – EU directive 70/220/EEC (Combined) 173 g/km
Fuel Consumption – EU directive 70/220/EEC (Combined) 6.6 L/100km


Battery: 12 volts
Alternator: 130 Amps
Starter: 2.0 kW
Ignition Type: Electronic Direct Ignition System (DIS)


Transmission Code: EA64F
Transmission Group: 6MT
Description Active Torque Control 4WD System with 6 Speed Manual Transmission and Lockable Rear Coupling
Drive Type: On-Demand 4WD with Lockable Rear Coupling
Rear Differential: Type Standard with Electronically Controlled Coupling
Clutch Type: Single Dry Plate with Diaphragm Spring


Front: MacPherson struts with hydraulic shock absorbers and stabiliser bar
Rear: Double Wishbone Trailing Arm type with hydraulic shock absorbers, coil springs & stabiliser bar
Steering: Description Engine speed sensitive power-assisted rack and pinion steering
Ratio Max. 14.4
Min. Turning Circle (Tyre): 10.2 m
Turns Lock to Lock 2.8


Brake Type Power assisted with tandem master cylinder & dual diagonal split hydraulic system
Front: Ventilated Disc
Rear: Solid Disc
ABS Standard
Mechanisms Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), and Vehicle Stability Control + (VSC+)
Hand Brake Centre Floor Type Mechanical Parking Brake

Wheels and Tyres

Wheels: 7J x 17″ Alloy Wheels
Tyres: 225/65 R17 Steel Belted Radial Ply Tyres
Spare Tyre: 225/65 R17 Steel Belted Radial Ply Tyres
Tyre Brand: Bridgestone


Overall Length: 4395 mm
Overall Width: 1815 mm
Overall Height: Std. 1685 mm
Wheelbase: 2560 mm
Track – Front 1560 mm
Track – Rear 1560 mm
Overhang – Front 860 mm
Overhang – Rear 975 mm
Min. Ground Clearance: 180 mm
Approach Angle: 28 degrees
Departure Angle: 24 degrees
Interior – Length 1820 mm
Interior – Width 1495 mm
Interior – Height 1240 mm
Loadspace Length: 785 mm
Loadspace Width: 1335 mm
Loadspace Height: 991 mm
Seating Capacity: 5
Luggage Capacity Boot: 450 litres
Gross Vehicle Weight: 2190 kg
Kerb Weight: 1585 kg
Max. Towing Capacity Braked: 2000 kg
Max. Towing Capacity Unbraked: 750 kg