BMW X6 xDrive 40d 2011 Review

April 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

There was a time when dance music was just dance music, it was electronic, it had a beat and it made you want to get up and get funky. But then like many things, genres and sub genres began dividing it up as the masses searched for what’s new and cool. Now we have house music, drum and bass, dub step and many others which all sound the same to ageing ears. This 21st century ‘genrefication’ has reached much further than dance music and infected the car world creating niche vehicles like the crossover and the mini van. BMW, never one to miss a trick, decided to create a sub genre all its own, coining the term ‘Sports Activity Coupe’ and populated it with a lone offering – the X6. When the X6 went on sale in 2008 critics claimed it was a niche too far and that there was no demand for such a machine. But the X6 came packing attitude, dynamic ability and didn’t need anyone’s approval to be what it is. For 2011, BMW have added a new six-cylinder diesel engine to top the X6 diesel range and named the model the xDrive 40d. Car and SUV had a chance to tune in and test drive the polarising X6 40d listening closely to the rhythm of its fresh beat. Continue reading “BMW X6 xDrive 40d 2011 Review” »

Nissan X-Trail TL 2011 Review

April 19th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

‘Strength through simplicity’ isn’t a tag line that Nissan uses for its current X-Trail range, but it’s a line that in many ways reads true. Since it’s inception in 2001 the X-Trail has been a tidy seller for Nissan and its likeable blend of practicality and usability has put a fair few people into SUVs over the years. For 2011, Nissan has given its second-generation X-Trail some mechanical upgrading, an interior refit and a nip and tuck to the boxed-back exterior design. The net result is the further graduation of an already solid package. Car and SUV tagged in on a new diesel X-Trail TL to put it through its paces.

Exterior Lines

It may be a bit sharp-angled for some tastes, but the X-Trail has an on road presence all its own. Distinctive light clusters front and back are distinguishing features and a strong flat roofline highlights the X-Trails profile. A big glasshouse lets in a ton of light but tinted rear windows keep it cool inside. 18-inch standard spec wheels fill up the high guards and a redesigned chrome grille adds bling. Other exterior revisions include a new front bumper and those unmissable rear LED lights. Overall the exterior tweaking has given the X-trail a modernised, more purposeful look and realigned it closer to the rest of Nissans current range. Continue reading “Nissan X-Trail TL 2011 Review” »

BMW 535d M-Sport 2011 Review

April 15th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Pound for pound BMW 535d is certainly a tough act to beat. For its many highlights one factor stands above the rest, its balance between huge amounts of torque while maintaining frugal fuel economy. A sleek, purposeful design and a lush, luxurious cabin are the cream on the top. But the ability to offer stimulating sports performance while sipping away on just 6.1 litres of diesel for every 100km travelled, that’s what makes the 535d the most progressive model in BMW’s 5-Series range. Car and SUV has been a fan of BMW’s diesel offerings since driving the impressive 335d and was interested to see how the same powerhouse motor worked in the larger 5-Series body.

Like its little brother, the 535d is built with some serious performance DNA. Under the long bonnet lays BMW’s latest 3.0-litre diesel engine, it’s an ultra-modern mill in a traditional in-line 6-cylinder configuration. While its power output of 220kW sounds only mildly exciting it’s the all alloy engine’s 600Nm torque figure that tells the true tale of the tape. Acceleration is effortless and with maximum torque available from 1750rpm, instant and absolute grunt is always waiting beneath the driver’s right foot. Continue reading “BMW 535d M-Sport 2011 Review” »

2011 Ford Territory Review

April 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Ford Australia and NZ has just launched its 2011 Territory at a press event held in Canberra. The 2011 Territory is a result of a $230 million AUS investment by Ford that saw 800,000 kms of testing to extensively update its popular mid-size SUV. Car and SUV was there to experience the mechanical, design and equipment upgrades that feature in the reworked Territory.

At first glance the 2011 Territory may look like little more than a facelift of its long-serving predecessor but under the surface major changes have made the Falcon-based SUV a much more tempting prospect. The big news is the inclusion of a diesel engine for the first time in the Territory range. For use in both all-wheel and rear-wheel-drive variants is Ford’s 2.7-litre Duratorq TDCi turbo diesel motor. It’s a competent unit that produces 140kW of power and 440Nm of peak torque from 1900rpm. It’s also quite smooth and fairly quiet being helped by extensive sound-deadening as part of the upgrades. Fuel economy isn’t bad either with the diesel mill achieving 8.2l/100km combined in rear-wheel drive form and 8.8l/100km in all-wheel drive guise. That figure drops to around 6.5l/100km while motorway cruising and with a 75-litre tank it will be a long time between filling up. Towing capacity for the diesel Territory is 2700kg braked for the all-wheel drive model and 2300kg for the rear driver.

While Car and SUV would certainly prefer the diesel option, some people still love their petrol powered SUVs, for them there is an inline six-cylinder engine shared with the current FG Falcon. This unit pumps out 195kW of power and 391Nm of torque. While it doesn’t feel as well suited to the Territory as the diesel mill it’s a strong free-revving motor and is offered as the standard powertrain. Fuel economy figures for the petrol Territory are 10.6l/100km combined. The petrol model is available in rear-wheel-drive only and has a towing capacity of 2300kg. Continue reading “2011 Ford Territory Review” »

GM previews next global ute with Colorado concept

March 22nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

General Motors has just revealed the first details and images of it’s next-generation midsize ute truck. Ahead of an official unveiling at the Bangkok Auto Show GM has revealed the new ute in Chevrolet Colorado form but expect a new re-badged Holden Colorado in the future.

The concept truck is an extended-cab mid-size ute which features a prominent grille, polished aluminum accents, and LED-infused headlights. Elsewhere, there’s a body-color tonneau cover and 20-inch alloy wheels with Cooper Zeon off-road tyres.

Like the next-gen Ford Ranger the styling of GM’s new ute is sure to stir some controversy as all the best and worst designs do. But Chevrolet’s global vehicle line executive Brad Merkel said of the design, “Although this is a show vehicle, the basic proportions convey the vision for the next-generation Colorado that we will bring to market.”

The Colorado in concept form features a 2.8-litre turbodiesel engine, five-speed manual transmission 20-inch wheels and all-wheel drive.

The Colorado cabin was an area of criticism for the current model and that has been addressed with the new concept vehicle. The interior is apparently high quality and has a motorcycle-inspired instrument cluster, leather seats, dark wood trim, and chrome accents. Other highlights include a dual-zone climate control system and an infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen display. Continue reading “GM previews next global ute with Colorado concept” »

Holden reveals Series II Captiva – on sale in March

February 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Holden has unveiled its new Series II Captiva range just over a week before it goes on sale in NZ on March 1st. During a press event in Australia’s Yarra Valley Holden officially revealed the facelifted Series II Captiva and let keen journalists have some time behind the wheel.

Both the Captiva 5 and the larger Captiva 7 has received a interior and exterior styling tweaks and the range gets new powertrains with modern petrol and diesel engines mated to six-speed transmissions. These changes will combine to give the Series II Captiva even wider appeal.

The higher-performing new generation petrol and diesel engines combined with strongly competitive pricing is the big story for the updated Captiva. There’s more power on tap across the range, complemented by fuel efficiency gains on all models.

The seven-seat Captiva 7 range now offers three new powertrain options including a price-leading 2.4 litre four-cylinder petrol variant, a 2.2 litre turbo diesel and the Commodore-proven, Australian-built 3.0 litre Spark Ignition Direct Injection (SIDI) V6.

Captiva 5 buyers get the choice of a turbo diesel powerplant for the first time while refinements to all Series II models mean quieter cabins and improved ride and handling quality. Continue reading “Holden reveals Series II Captiva – on sale in March” »

Diesel powers BMW to top of NZ premium car sales

January 28th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Fresh sales data from 2010 has confirmed what industry experts were expecting — that BMW was number one for sales of new diesel models in New Zealand among premium brands.

BMW recorded an all-time record number of diesel sales for the year with 746 units, finishing almost 50 ahead of Audi (699) and more than 480 ahead of Mercedes Benz (262).

This equates to 66% of the total BMW model mix being diesel powered (746 diesel units as percentage of 1133 total), up from 24% in 2005. For the overall new car industry in NZ, diesel accounted for only 31% of total sales.

“BMW offers a superior range of diesel models featuring torque-laden fuel efficient powertrains emitting fewer carbon emissions, but importantly without compromising BMW’s ultimate driving experience,” said the Managing Director of BMW Group New Zealand, Mark Gilbert. “Diesel plays an important part of our Efficient Dynamics story and it’s heartening our customers recognise the environmental and efficiency benefits available to them through selecting a diesel powered BMW, not to mention outstanding towing capability.”

The most popular three diesel models in the BMW range for 2010 were the 320d Sedan, the 118d Sports Hatch and X5 xDrive 30d SAV, showing the widespread popularity and application of diesel power across a variety of body styles.

“The surge in demand for diesel is represented in our model mix which now contains 31 different BMW vehicles with a diesel engine, compared with only 11 five years ago,” said Mr Gilbert.

Click here to read Car and SUV reviews of current BMW diesel models.

Being safe just got sexy – Volvo S60 sedan launched in NZ

December 16th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The all-new Volvo S60 has been officially launched into the New Zealand market at a special press event held in Auckland yesterday. Volvo’s sleek sedan was put through its paces during some road testing and a series of safety drills, but it’s already clear the S60 has much more to offer than ground-breaking safety features.

The new S60 is looking to raise the stakes in New Zealand’s mid-size premium car market with its coupe-style looks, sharp on-road dynamics and of course, world-first safety innovations.

The first cars are being delivered to customers before the summer holiday period, with the S60 D5 AWD (Turbo diesel All Wheel Drive) priced at $71,990 and the S60 T6 AWD (Turbo petrol All Wheel Drive) at $79,990. A front wheel drive S60 T5 will be added to the range early next year at $63,990.

For those who like to get some speed up the top-spec S60 T6 is a true sports sedan using a turbocharged six-cylinder 3.0-litre petrol engine that pumps out 224kW of power, 440Nm of torque and will do the sprint to 100kph in just 6.1 seconds. Mated up to a six-speed auto transmission it’s a potent performer. The S60 D5 uses a five-cylinder diesel mill with twin-turbocharging that produces a solid 151kW of power and 420Nm of twist, the D5 takes 8.1 seconds to 100kph and returns 6.8l/100km combined fuel economy.

For safety enthusiasts there is plenty to like about the S60 with new primary and secondary safety innovations, the all-new S60 sedan is the most high-tech Volvo yet seen. World-leading dynamic safety technology, including extended functionality to its Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) system to include Advanced Stability Control (ASC) – a first for this segment – is complemented by two pioneering safety innovations: Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake, and Volvo’s City Safety, which was first seen on the Volvo XC60.

In terms of exterior design the S60 has been styled to attract. Its coupe-like profile incorporates a steeply raked windscreen and a roofline that flows in one smooth sweep into the taillights. Volvo design director Peter Horbury says ‘You are almost surprised to see that it has rear doors.’

On the road, the S60 is the sportiest Volvo sedan yet made. ‘The ride is firmer and yet it is much better controlled. I would say comfort has actually been increased,’ says Egbert Bakker, technical expert responsible for vehicle dynamics at Volvo.

The all-new Volvo S60 has one of the most advanced stability control systems – part of Volvo’s high-tech Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) – reducing the likelihood of wheel spin or skidding. Corner Traction Control increases on-road agility by automatically braking the inner driven wheel as extra power is applied to the outer wheel. This ‘torque vectoring’ improves turn-in, thus reducing understeer.

Continue reading “Being safe just got sexy – Volvo S60 sedan launched in NZ” »