BMW 320d 2012 Review

October 27th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

The entry level model to BMW’s 3 series is surprising, mainly because if you’ve driven older base model 3s like the 318s from a few years ago you’d be expecting something kind of lacklustre and limp.

This obviously didn’t sit well with BMW. The base model is likely to be the best-seller, especially in Europe, where diesels are far more accepted, and you want to put your best precisely engineered Germanic foot forward.

BMW has cranked up Continue reading “BMW 320d 2012 Review” »

Suzuki Swift Diesel 2012 Review

July 30th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

Suzuki’s best-selling small car, the Swift, has received a 1248cc diesel heart which shuns fuel like beauty queens shun calories. As such, the Swift can claim 4.2l/100km fuel economy which puts it near the top of the pile.

If you’re familiar with the Swift you’ll know it is New Zealand’s best-selling small car, and for good reason. Its compact, attractive design, around-town practicality, go-kart-like handling and low price has won admirers from all ages, genders and socio-economic backgrounds.

Petrol engines are never stupendously economical, though. Now we’re all aware of fuel economy it has become a driving factor in which car to buy. In the petrol vs diesel argument, diesel Continue reading “Suzuki Swift Diesel 2012 Review” »

Hyundai Santa Fe Elite CRDi 2012 Review

July 4th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

This is the big guy of the Hyundai range: a powerful SUV that aims to give seven occupants a swift and comfortable journey. Leather heated seats, heated steering wheel, rear air conditioning, dual climate control air con in the front, and centre console cooler box help keep the vehicle’s interior at the perfect temperature. There’s even a ‘cluster ioniser’, whatever that is.

The inside is appointed tastefully. Faux carbon fibre dashboard inserts would usually be dismissed as a little tacky because this isn’t Formula 1, but in the Santa Fe they seem perfectly natural. Four LCDs display air conditioning, stereo, clock and trip computer. The driving position is Continue reading “Hyundai Santa Fe Elite CRDi 2012 Review” »

Thrifty Diesel Joins Kia Rio Range In New Zealand

June 26th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

The diesel version of the all-new Kia Rio has now gone on sale in New Zealand and is one of the most economical new cars in the country, priced at just $24,990.

Equipped with an advanced 1.4-litre diesel engine and Kia’s EcoDynamics package, which includes intelligent Idle Stop & Go technology to significantly reduce fuel consumption and lower carbon emissions, the Rio CRDi achieves an impressive 4.3L/100km (55mpg) and a low CO2 level of 113g/km.

The new generation, four-cylinder 1.4-litre diesel engine was developed especially for Kia in Europe and features a double overhead camshaft design with the latest common-rail high-pressure fuel injection system. With a swept volume of 1,396cc, it is equipped with a wastegate turbocharger that is reduced in size to deliver a more compressed forced air charge into the engine, for greater efficiency and responsiveness.

Derived from Kia’s U2 diesel family, it develops 66kW at 4,000rpm and 220Nm of torque across a broad 1,750 to 2,750rpm range, giving the new Rio a flexible and lively performance, combined with great fuel economy.

In addition to the Stop & Go technology, the EcoDynamics package also includes low rolling resistance tyres, a drag-reducing front grille, a gearshift indicator and rear spoiler. A smooth, six-speed manual transmission is fitted as standard.

Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand, says the arrival of the diesel model provides a further boost to the Rio range, which is already one of the brand’s best sellers in this market.

“Rio is going remarkably well for us in New Zealand, thanks to the desirability of the sporty design, high specification level and attractive price point. And with petrol prices set to rise again shortly, the appeal of the diesel model has just got better,” he says.

Like the rest of the Rio range, the CRDi benefits from a re-engineered suspension system that is based on European specifications, with the emphasis on sporty handling and an assured ride. Brakes are all-round discs, providing superior braking performance. And in addition to the safety of ESC stability control, like all Rio models the CRDi features Hill Assist Control to prevent it momentarily rolling backwards when pulling away up steep gradients.

Equipment levels within the roomy cabin are high and the standard features on the Rio CRDi include high-tech daytime running lights for increased safety, reverse warning sensors, heated/powered door mirrors, remote locking with in-built car alarm, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, two-way steering column adjustment, split folding rear seats, rear luggage cover, trip computer, Bluetooth and a MP3-compatible/radio/CD audio system with USB and AUX ports.

In common with all Kia passenger cars, the Rio CRDI is covered by a comprehensive Five Year/100,000km Warranty Programme and a 24/7 Roadside Assistance Programme.

Suzuki Swift Diesel Earmarked for Arrival in New Zealand

March 16th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Suzuki is introducing its first ever small diesel-engined passenger car to the New Zealand market.

A diesel powered Swift five-door hatchback will add a new dimension to the country’s top selling light car.

Suzuki New Zealand is currently evaluating the new Swift supermini diesel and is finalising plans to have the highly economical car on sale by mid-year.

With a fuel consumption figure of 4.2 litres/100 km (67.3 miles per gallon) in the official combined cycle test, the diesel will be the most economical model in the Swift range.

It will also pack more engine torque, underscoring the car’s brisk performance, especially in the critical mid-range. The diesel has 46 per cent more torque than the 1.4-litre petrol Swift.

An additional bonus is the environmentally friendly CO2 emissions level of 109 grams/km, the lowest of any Swift variant.

The 1.3 Swift DDiS uses a high tech four cylinder, 16-valve Fiat-designed diesel which Suzuki builds under license.

This second generation, common rail turbocharged motor is a development of the Multijet power plant which won the International Engine of the Year award in 2005.

More recently the 55 kW (75 bhp) engine was updated with a new fuel injection management system that has up to eight injections per cycle instead of five.

The advanced injection controls high engine pressures up to 1,600 bar without being tied to engine speed or the quantity of fuel injected.

Thanks to a balanced hydraulic servo-valve, the innovative common rail injectors are able to more precisely control the quantity of diesel injected into the combustion chamber, with a faster and more flexible sequence of injections than was previously possible.

By reducing the amount of time between injections, these injectors optimise fuel introduction to the chamber and therefore make the diesel combustion process more gradual. This has a positive effect on fuel consumption, emissions, and noise, vibration and harshness.

The new generation fixed geometry turbocharger, combined with the advanced Multijet injection system, ensure the best possible turbo function at any engine operating level.

“We are excited about the arrival of the Swift diesel which is capable of a driving range of at least 800 kilometres, and will have a specific attraction to fleet and business users,” said Tom Peck, General Manager of Marketing for Suzuki New Zealand.

“Not only does the engine comply with stringent Euro 5 emission levels, but also offers lively performance allied to outstanding economy.

In the open road official Extra Urban fuel cycle, the Swift diesel returns a remarkable 3.6 litres/100 km (78.5 miles per gallon), while the Urban cycle figure is 5.1 litres/100 km (55.4 miles per gallon).

A Swift diesel driven by journalists Dave Randle and Peter Cracknell finished second overall in the 2011 MPG Marathon event in Britain, averaging a remarkable 3.27 litres/100 km (86.4 miles per gallon) 3.27 litres/100 km (84.6 miles per gallon) over a challenging 600 kilometre route that included major roads, motorways and dual carriageways. A second Swift diesel returned 3.34 litres/100 km (84.6 miles per gallon).

Recently launched in Europe, the diesel Swift is gaining a reputation for smoothness and response, with the maximum torque of 190 Nm available from as low as 1,750 rpm. The Swift accelerates from a standstill to 100 km/h in 12.7 seconds, and has a top speed of 166 km/h.

Pricing and specification will be announced closer to the launch date.

Jaguar XF Diesel becomes most efficient Jag ever

November 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

A British team has crossed the U.S.A, from New York to Los Angeles, in a Jaguar XF 2.2 Diesel averaging an incredible 4.49 litres/100 kms over 4,480 kms – making it the most efficient Jaguar ever built.

Finishing in Los Angeles, California, the journey – the equivalent of travelling from London to the Sahara – took in 11 states, three time zones and eight days. Yet the XF only required four stops for fuel – its peak economy of 4.21 litres/100 kms being achieved on the penultimate day of the trip.

Paul Alcock, XF Project Manager, Jaguar Cars, who was present throughout the journey, commented: ‘This project was designed primarily to test the potential economy of the XF 2.2D. The incredible figures achieved by the car were accomplished through making every element of the new XF as efficient as possible – from its aerodynamics to its four-cylinder 2.2-litre diesel engine linked to an eight-speed gearbox.’

Driven by independent testers, David and Alexander Madgwick, the XF 2.2D was a standard UK registered, right-hand drive vehicle. In the course of the coast to coast adventure, the car maintained an average speed of 85.2 km/h incorporating a multitude of real-life scenarios including the busy roads exiting New York and, towards the end of the trip, entering Los Angeles, road works, high winds and a climb to 2217 metres above sea level. Continue reading “Jaguar XF Diesel becomes most efficient Jag ever” »

Peugeot 508 2.2 HDi GT 2011 Review

November 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Peugeot 508 is an excellent touring car. Let’s give praise where praise is fully due: I would happily drive from Auckland to Wellington in this car, and I’m the impatient type who usually flies.

New Zealand gets three different models of the 508: a two-litre turbodiesel sedan, a two-litre turbodiesel stationwagon, and the version you’re reading about now, which is the 2.2-litre GT turbodiesel sedan. They start at $54,990 and end up at $65,990. So is this 508 worth it?

If you’re after a largish touring sedan with good fuel economy, plenty of accoutrements, smooth handling and the power to get past when you need it, the 508 stacks up. It even won a trophy in Germany in 2010 putting it above 18 other cars in its class.

But in my opinion, that does not make it perfect because, in typical Gallic style, the French have taken an awesome car and made it ‘quirky’. It starts with the choice of kit. The driver’s seat massages you. It’s nice (apart from the unusual noise it makes which isn’t really drowned out by the radio). This is useful on long journeys, but what’s even more useful is sat nav, and that’s noticeably absent. There’s not even a place to put it, which means you need one of those aftermarket ones which starts making the interior of your car look like a window display at Dick Smith.

Secondly, I quite like a head-up display which projects the speed onto the windscreen, and the 508’s HUD works well. Except what I really want is a place to put my water bottle, and some storage in the front (the glovebox and central binnacle each have room for one croissant only, and there are only two tiny compartments to put a phone or other junk).

Thirdly, the instrument layout is absolutely perfect, but why do we still have the early 2000s LCD in the dash? It’s not quite clear what’s going to appear on that screen as opposed to the really good screen that’s part of the instrument cluster, and what’s really needed is a reversing camera, or at least some kind of visual representation of reversing because you can’t see much out of the rear window.

Finally, the design. Look at the front – it’s beautiful; a hint of Maserati. It’s understated, sleek. Look at the side – expertly crafted with a prominent shoulder line running the line of the window right to the tailgate. But the back looks unfinished, bulbous, slightly large and out of proportion.. Fortunately, though, this means that you get a good sized boot.

We’ve covered off my gripes, and they might seem minor to you, but the Peugeot 508 has some very stiff competition, even in the bells and whistles department, with cars like the Ford Mondeo Titanium (which is much cheaper). But what it does better than the Mondeo is cruising. The 508 is excellent to drive. It progresses smoothly (and relatively quietly for a diesel); forward motion is provided by a 150kW 2.2-litre turbodiesel that produces 450Nm of torque. This feeds through a six-speed gearbox which almost always is in the right gear for the conditions, unlike some automatics, but is slightly sluggish off the line. However, there’s a sports mode if you need more instant movement, and for it to chop down earlier and change up later.

Handling is very good – not sports car-like, but very good nonetheless. This is helped by 18-inch wheels.

There are plenty of buttons to control all aspects of the audio equipment, the speed limiter/cruise control, trip computer, various options for hands-free phones, and automated high beam.

Safety features abound on the latest Peugeots and it has a 5-star Euro NCAP rating for adult and child safety, and it scored 97% for safety assistance. There are six airbags, whiplash-protecting headrests, and directional b-xenon headlamps.

The passengers are spoiled in the 508. Rear passengers have blinds for the side windows and the rear window. They also have their own air conditioning and directional reading lights. The front passenger can set a completely different air conditioning setting to the driver.

Why would you buy the Peugeot 508? If you want a sleek, comfortable car that’s a notch up the ladder from a Mondeo and arguably smoother than a Volkswagen Passat, this is going to tick the boxes, especially if you have kids to transport. It’s going to impress your colleagues.

You’d also buy it if you like driving long distances and you want a frugal touring car. The tank is good for at least 750km on a long journey. We averaged around 6.3l/100km on a mixture of round town and longer journeys. We saw figures in the low 4l/100km range on the motorway, which is excellent for a car this size.

Who will buy it?

You’d buy it if:

  • you like French quirkiness, or feel sorry for them that they lost the rugby
  • driving gives you a bad back
  • you do a lot of kilometers driving one or two children around, but hate SUVs
  • you’re a bit older and want something that handles well without rattling your fillings
  • you can get a company car and you want something different that’s a talking point, but looks the part on a mid-exec level.


Lots of interesting features

Very smooth ride

Plenty of power, but it’s still economical


Wrong choice of kit spoils what could have been a really amazing car

Rearward visibility is not fantastic

Price: from $54,990.

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

Peugeot reveals new 208 supermini

November 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

With high fuel prices and congested main centres the small hatch B-segment market has become a key war zone for car makers. It’s an area Peugeot has long been strong in and it’s latest weapon in the fight is the new 208 which has just been revealed and will replace the current 207 series.

This latest Pug will go up against the Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris and VW Polo. While the overall dimensions have shrunken Peugeot claims that the interior volume has increased.

In terms of styling the 208 adopts Peugeot’s latest design language, the main highlights include a “floating” grille, raked back headlights and “boomerang” style tail lamps. The 208’s profile is also more sculptured, and overall, the new model looks sufficiently more advanced than the 207 it replaces.

The 208 will be built in two body styles when it launches next year, a three- and five-door. The three-door model is distinguished by pronounced side curve that extends all the way back to the rear lights, a slightly more sloped roofline, thicker C-pillar and a smaller glasshouse. The three-door 208 will tip the scales at just 975kg, a full 170kg lighter than its predecessor. Continue reading “Peugeot reveals new 208 supermini” »

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