Ford Focus 2012 Review

August 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The all-new 2012 Ford Focus has been unveiled at a media event in Melbourne last week and Car and SUV was there to put the third edition of this popular hatch through its paces.

The Mk 3 Focus will arrive in NZ with two body styles, a five-door hatchback and a sleek four-door sedan. Expect a wagon version to arrive in March next year.

There’s a lot to like with the new Focus, the practical cabin and sharp driving dynamics remain, but it now offers a higher level of features and also ultra modern styling. It’s a powerful example of the ‘One Ford’ approach that will see the Focus sold in 122 markets globally. The Focus’ C-Platform will also underpin at least ten vehicles in the future and account for two million units of production by 2012. The numbers getting thrown around are big, but Ford are justified in having confidence in the new 2012 Focus. Continue reading “Ford Focus 2012 Review” »

Audi updates A5 and S5 for 2012

July 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Audi has revealed extensive 2012 updates for its sporty A5 and S5 coupe range.

A more aggressive front end is the most obvious change with redesigned headlight clusters along with a new front bumper and subtle changes to the grille. Updates to the rear a more subtle and include revised tail lights with optional LEDs. The models clean and sharp profile remains unchanged, but 17-inch alloys are now standard on International models (NZ spec may differ).

Inside, there’s a new steering wheel and tweaks to the instrument panel and centre control stack. The gear stick on auto models has been changed and the MMI infotainment system upgraded. There’s also a new ignition key and air-con controls.

Mechanically, the 2012 A5 gets a new rear suspension setup along with a revised electromechanical power steering system.

Engines options include the base model 125 kW 1.8 litre TFSI unit which has  been revised to deliver improved fuel-economy at 5.7 l/100 km. Step up to the 2.0 litre TFSI engine and output remains unchanged at 157kW, while a new 200kW 3.0 litre TFSI V6 has joined the range. Continue reading “Audi updates A5 and S5 for 2012” »

Peugeot reveals AWD diesel-hybrid 508 RXH wagon

July 12th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Peugeot’s new 508 RXH diesel-electric hybrid has been revealed with photos and details released by the French carmaker ahead the model’s world debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

The RXH heralds in a new nameplate but also comes with all-wheel drive thanks to a Hybrid4 diesel electric drivetrain.

The hybrid setup features a turbocharged 2.0-litre HDi diesel engine which works with a 28kW electric motor to give a combined output of 147kW and 450Nm of torque. The diesel engine drives the front wheels while the electric motor handles business at the rear axle, allowing the 508 RXH a four-wheel drive mode. The hybrid setup also allows the wagon to run on a pure electric mode although Peugeot has not revealed the vehicle’s “zero-emissions” range. Economy is rated at 4.2 litres of diesel per 100km combined, with emissions at 109 g/km of CO2.

The 508 RXH rides on high suspension and comes with unique styling features like a bespoke front bumper with vertical LED lights, 18-inch wheels, under body plastic mouldings and chrome roof rails. Interior features include electric front seats, heads up display, a panoramic glass roof and satellite navigation. Continue reading “Peugeot reveals AWD diesel-hybrid 508 RXH wagon” »

Mini Cooper D 2011 Review

July 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Back in 1959 when the first batch of Minis rolled off the production line few assumptions followed the unique vehicle. Back then it would have been slightly fanciful to assume that over fifty years later this diminutive model would be still going strong. But to think that in 2011 there would be a diesel-powered Mini that needs less than four litres of fuel to cover 100km, well that would have seemed unbelievable. Mini’s latest Cooper D can do exactly that, but achieving an exceptionally low fuel economy figure isn’t always enough. Present day buyers want fuel frugality as well as more traditional desires like comfort, style and dynamic ability. Can the updated Mini Diesel deliver in full? Car and SUV took a spin in the 2011 Cooper D to see if the future has arrived.

Cosmetically the Mini hatch shape hasn’t been severely restyled since BMW first created the ‘new’ Mini back in 2001. There have been a number of modest tweaks and the 2011 facelift continues that tradition with some subtle changes inside and out. The front end is modernised with a new bumper arrangement that has a broad lower air intake and recessed fog lamps. Use of chrome trim on the air intake adds visual width and further chrome work on the grille and surrounding the headlights dresses it up nicely. At the back there’s new LED taillights and a replacement rear bumper. Continue reading “Mini Cooper D 2011 Review” »

Volkswagen Amarok Highline 2011 Review

June 24th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It’s never easy being the new kid in class, if you want proof just ask Volkswagen’s new Amarok. As the first European entry into NZ’s hard fought ute segment the road ahead is rocky and steep for the Amarok. With the Volkswagen Group as a parent and some advanced tech in the Amarok’s genes it’s arrived loaded with interest and high expectations. But there are some established names and large egos to measure itself against in the NZ ute playground. So will the other kids like the new Amarok? Probably not. Should the other kids be worried? Absolutely. Car and SUV spent some time in the top spec Amarok Highline to see if this upstart has brought its A-game.

Under the Bonnet
The word Amarok means ‘wolf’ in the Inuit language and this is one wolf not content to just join the pack, it wants to do things its own way. Firstly, it has a smaller engine than its peers and is powered by a 2.0-litre twin turbo diesel unit. But that doesn’t mean its caught short on output figures; there’s 120kW of power on tap and 400Nm of max torque available from 1500rpm. That’s a fair whack of grunt for a ute of any engine size. It nearly matches the torque of the larger displacement mill in the Mitsubishi Triton (407Nm) and beats the Hilux’s 2.5-litre unit (343Nm) but can’t knock the Nissan Navara (450Nm) off its lofty perch.

The Amarok gets its high torque output from a linear twin turbo system that has the turbos engaging at different points in the rev range and overlapping briefly. The advantage of the smaller displacement engine comes with increased diesel economy. Official figures rate the Amarok at using just 7.8 litres per 100km and while that may prove a tough figure to chase down when carrying a heavy load or travelling gravel roads, it stacks up favourably against those same rivals. Continue reading “Volkswagen Amarok Highline 2011 Review” »

Renault facelifts Koleos SUV for 2012

June 24th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Renault has just revealed the facelift version of its Koleos SUV for the 2012 model year.

The refreshed Koleos features a thoroughly revised front end with a new chrome grille and slimmer, sportier headlamps. The side mirrors now include LED turn indicators.

In terms of power the Koloes will be built with three engine variants. Two diesel mills, the dCi 150 with a 110kW power output and the dCi 175 which pumps out 129kW.  For petrol fans there is a 125kW TR25 petrol engine that completes the small range. Exactly what Koleos variants will be offered in the NZ market hasn’t been announced.

The Koleos will continue to be built as either a 4×4 all-wheel drive or a 4×2 front drive model. There’s also a new colour on the Koleos palette, Cayenne Orange as pictured. Continue reading “Renault facelifts Koleos SUV for 2012” »

Peugeot 308 HDi 2011 Review

June 10th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

While it’s never managed to kick the same foothold into the NZ car market as its 207 supermini sibling, the 308 hatch has diligently chipped its way into the consciousness of kiwi car buyers. In our hardest fought market segment, dominated by Japanese metal, the 308 remains a refreshing alternative and has won its fans accordingly. It reached showrooms for the first time back in 2008 and now, has been updated with a reworked Euro 5 compliant diesel engine. Car and SUV had some seat time in the French family hatch to reconnect and feel the impact of the cleaner, greener 2.0-litre diesel motor.

With European emissions regulations changing to the stricter Euro 5 standard earlier this year Peugeot has got with the program on its 308 diesel range. The results have reached us here in NZ with the new 308 diesel hatch not just releasing less emissions (down to 120g) but with more power too. The turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel mill has had a power increase of 20kW to 120kW and a torque bump of 20Nm to a solid 340Nm in total. Can you notice the difference? You bet. The 308 HDi is a livelier performer, it gets off the line quickly and the high torque output makes it responsive at most speeds. There is a slight hesitation waiting for the turbo to spool up, but you won’t be left hanging long. While you wouldn’t call the 308 HDi a hot hatch, the power bump up has certainly given it a more muscular bend. That said, it remains a nicely refined diesel motor with very little vibration and noise once warmed up. Continue reading “Peugeot 308 HDi 2011 Review” »

BMW X3 xDrive 20d 2011 Review

June 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

BMW’s first generation X3 had life fairly well sorted. It was comfortably placed in the X-Series range beneath established big brother the X5 and the sportier X6. But life changed for the X3 with the birth of the X1 into the X-family. In response the new X3 would have to grow in size and refinement to create itself a new groove in the range. With this realignment in mind BMW has launched its second-generation X3 model for 2011. In the role of middle child the X3 is now bigger, handles sharper and has improved fuel economy. Car and SUV had a test drive in the new diesel-powered X3 20d to document its coming of age.

In terms of body proportions there’s definitely been a growth spurt for the X3 with a 28mm increase in width and a 11mm higher ground clearance at 212mm. There’s minimal change in height but at 4.65 metres in length and a widened track the X3 is dimensionally very close to the original X5. Despite the extra bulk and more equipment the new X3 is 25kg lighter than its predecessor – an impressive result for BMW engineers. Continue reading “BMW X3 xDrive 20d 2011 Review” »