Mazda releases fresh images of 2011 BT-50 ute

December 8th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Over the ditch, Mazda Australia has just released a swag of new images for its upcoming 2011 BT-50. Unfortunately the Japanese carmaker is staying tight-lipped on the details like powertrain options and performance figures and an official launch date in NZ or Australia is yet to be announced.

The new BT-50 was officially unveiled a couple of months back at the Australian International Motor Show to a mixed reception with opinion polarized by the ute’s radical exterior styling. The production debut is expected sometime next year with both single and dual-cab variants in cab chassis and veilside configurations.

Despite the secrecy Mazda has revealed that production for the new BT-50 will begin in June 2011 and the range is expected to be diesel only. Mazda’s will be launching both its Sky-G petrol and Sky-D diesel engines in 2011, making it very likely the new BT-50 will be powered by the new Sky-D diesel engine.

Check out the new images of Mazda’s BT-50 in the gallery below. Continue reading “Mazda releases fresh images of 2011 BT-50 ute” »

Hamann reworks the 2011 Porsche Cayenne

December 8th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

German specialist tuner Hamann, has just revealed its new body kit for the new generation 2011 Porsche Cayenne. Officially named the Hamann 2011 Porsche Cayenne aerodynamics package, the kit includes a new front spoiler with integrated LED daytime running lights, new side skirts, a rear bumper with an integrated diffuser and a reworked 100% carbon fibre bonnet with air scoops.

Packing out the guards are massive 23-inch alloy rims with 315/25 R 23 tyres. The ride height is lowered by 35mm and the Porsche SUV uses a modified air suspension set up.

The Hamann tweaked Cayenne Diesel recieves power upgrades as well including a re-mapped ECU that increases output to 202 kW between 4,000 and 4,400 rpm and 620 Nm of torque between 2,000 and 2,250 rpm. The standard model develops 176 kW at 4,000 – 4,400 rpm and 550 Nm at 2,000 – 2,250 rpm. To keep it sounding bold the reworked Cayenne is also fitted with a new, custom-made, exhaust system.

Pricing and availability has not been announced yet. Check out images of Hamann’s Porsche Cayenne in the gallery below.

BMW X5 xDrive 40d 2011 Review

November 19th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The first generation BMW arrived ready to party, and so it did. It partied like it was 1999, because it was. The good times didn’t end there either, and in the following years the X5 helped trailblaze what we now know as the luxury SUV category. Naturally it had its haters, those who said it had been beaten with the ugly stick and those who called it a “insert posh local area” tractor. But it proved resilient and broadly appealing and just recently clocked up a very impressive 1 million units sold worldwide. It was in 2006 that the X5 entered its second generation, while already well established it further built on the strengths of the first model. Now for 2010 the X5 has been given a visual refresh and a reworked engine line-up. Car and SUV spent a week with the new X5 xDrive40d to see exactly what’s new and find out if the big BMW has still got it.

Styling on the X5 has only been changed subtlety since the first-generation with the 2010 updates being a further tweak. Although the changes are minor they are effective and the X5 looks every bit as modern as competitors. The X5 nose hosts the most noticeable changes with a new front bumper sporting larger side intakes and repositioned fog lamps. There’s more colour coding in the sheet metal and LED tail lamps now feature a smart L-shaped design. Elsewhere it’s business as usual with clean, tidy lines and handsome styling that will offend very few. Our test vehicle looked particularly striking with its Alpine White hue maximizing the X5’s bulky dimensions and the optional aluminum running boards and 20-inch (19s as standard) alloy wheels.

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New 2011 Volkswagen Touareg now available in New Zealand

November 19th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Volkswagen has launched its completely redeveloped Touareg into the New Zealand market with a special event held this week.

The 2011 Touareg is coming out swinging into the competitive luxury SUV market with an updated range of engines that are up to 25 percent more fuel efficient. There’s also some clever new driver assistance and safety systems. The Touareg V6 TDI with 7.4 litre combined fuel consumption now posts among the best value in the segment.

The new standard model Touareg was lightened by over 200 kgs, but has greater torsional rigidity and is built lower to the ground with improved aerodynamics. Together with front end styling based on the new Volkswagen family face, this results in a smaller frontal area. All engines are now offered with a standard 8-speed automatic transmission.

The V6 TDI models feature VolkswagenŸs BlueMotion Technologies — which include a revolutionary start-stop system that automatically shuts off the engine when the car is stationary, a regenerative braking system which recycles braking energy and low friction tyres.

Also modified in pursuit of reduced fuel consumption was the standard all-wheel drive system. All new generation Touaregs have all-wheel drive (“4Motion”) with a Torsen limited-slip differential. The Touareg also has an “Off-road driving programme”, which – at the press of a button – tunes the ABS, EDS and ASR for off-road duty, activates Hill Descent Assist and adjusts the automatic gearshift points. The V6 TDI can also be ordered with an optional “Terrain Technology” package that includes a traditional transfer case designed for off-road duty. It includes reduction gearing and centre and rear differentials, each with up to 100 percent locking.

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Mini launches new Cooper D – NZ’s greenest car

November 5th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Mini has just launched a refreshed product range in NZ and headlining the new arrivals is the release of the greenest-ever model available for sale in New Zealand.

Fresh from success as the most fuel efficient vehicle in the recent EnergyWise Rally, the new Cooper D with its 1.6-litre diesel powertrain now sets a record as the first Mini with carbon emissions of less than 100 grams a kilometre (99g/km).

This new green engine also delivers a significant gain of 30Nm of torque, up to 270Nm, and a power increase of 2kW (up to 82kW).  Fuel consumption is a lowly 3.8l/100km.

“The rationale for buying Mini is clear cut and is one of the few vehicles where there is no ‘head versus heart’ argument,” said the Managing Director of BMW Group New Zealand Limited, Mark Gilbert. “Mini offers a dynamic go-kart like driving experience but also offers unbelievable fuel economy and excellent green credentials.  This superb new engine delivers considerably improved acoustic and consumption properties and will set new standards for fuel efficiency in this category.”

In addition to the new diesel powertrain, fresh visual enhancements include new alloy wheel options, a range of new colours and a variety of interior treatments which can be personalised to customer requirements.

Standard safety features include ABS, DSC, driver and front passenger airbags with occupant detector, side airbags for front seats and curtain head airbags. To meet new EU pedestrian safety guidelines, Mini is now 99mm longer to allow for larger deformation zones to reduce the risk of injury in a collision with a pedestrian or cyclist. The short overhangs and Mini proportions are still maintained, retaining the go-kart style that Mini is famous for.

All Mini variants now have new tail lights with LED technology to enhance safety in low-visibility conditions and offer a more contemporary appearance. The reversing light and rear fog lights are now located in the lower section of the rear bumper.

“These enhancements to Mini will make it an even more desirable proposition than ever before,” said Mr Gilbert. “Very few models can claim such widespread appeal and what has contributed to this success is that Mini is a fun vehicle which is very enjoyable to drive.”

The new Mini range is available from $38,900 and fans can purchase a new model through any one of four different retail channels.

To find out more go to www.mini.co.nz

Nissan Navara ST-X 2010 Review

August 20th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

When Nissan launched its current model Navara ST-X ute a few years back it came packing 403Nm of torque — the most in its class. It was a mighty figure that allowed ST-X owners bragging rights on building sites and rural pubs around our great country. Then Mitsubishi fought back unleashing its Triton ute with 407Nm of torque and there was a new sheriff in town. But the importance of this mini arms race clearly hasn’t been lost on Nissan because the 2010 Navara has been given a mild facelift, 450Nm of torque and a special badge branded on its hind quarter to let everyone know. Car and SUV saddled up with the refreshed Navara ST-X to see if it makes for a wild ride.

What’s most impressive about the jump forward in torque is that Nissan have retained the same engine with the same displacement and still achieved it. The 2.5-litre turbo diesel motor has received a new cylinder head design, an upgraded direct-injection system and a new variable-nozzle turbocharger. The end result is a 12kW increase in power to 140kW and the 12 percent gain in torque to 450Nm. Surprisingly fuel economy has also improved and is rated at 9.0l/100km combined with the automatic box that our test vehicle used.

The figures are impressive and so was the drive with the effortless and generous supply of torque being a defining characteristic. Almost anywhere in the rev range and at all speeds a prod on the gas pedal would bring on rapid acceleration and only minimal turbo lag. At open-road cruising speeds the Navara is settled and easily capable of quick overtaking manoeuvres. The motor while brawny is also fairly refined and happily potters along in urban traffic with minimal engine rattles or vibration entering the cabin.

Continue reading “Nissan Navara ST-X 2010 Review” »

Nissan Pathfinder 450T 2010 Review

August 6th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Sometimes if you can’t find a path you just have to make a new one and that’s exactly what Nissan did back in 1986 when it released the first generation Pathfinder. Now, three generations of Pathfinder later Nissan are still cutting that same path towards a large SUV that mixes a comfortable, well-equipped interior with rolled-up-sleeves off-road ability. For 2010, the third-gen Pathfinder has received a facelift that has brought aesthetic and mechanical upgrades to the single-variant model. So how good is this refreshed bastion of boxy styling? Car and SUV made tracks in the new Pathfinder 450T to find out.

Externally, it’s not immediately obvious that anything has changed with the no-nonsense design, but a closer look reveals some subtle differences. The facelifted Pathfinder is 80mm longer than its predecessor thanks to a new, more pronounced front bumper. The bonnet and grille are also new and Xenon headlamps have been added which boast auto leveling and headlight washers hidden in the bumper mouldings. Elsewhere the Pathfinder’s styling is generally straightforward and almost timeless in its traditional SUV two-box shape. One interesting design detail is the high, vertically mounted rear door handles that certainly look cool but may prove difficult to reach for children or midgets. Our NZ-spec Pathfinder is better dressed than most and comes with integrated roof rails, front fog lamps, side-steps and 17″ alloys which finish off the distinctive look.

Jump into the Pathfinder cabin and what’s immediately noticeable is the cavernous space, it’s wide and very long. Three passengers can fit on the rear seat with plenty of shoulder and legroom and air-con vents in the ceiling will keep them cool too. If that’s not enough the Pathfinder also comes with a third row of seats that easily fold flat into the floor to create a massive luggage area. The middle row can also be folded flat to make a 2-metre long loading bay — perfect for large cargo or taking a nap.

Continue reading “Nissan Pathfinder 450T 2010 Review” »

Honda to cease diesel engine development

July 19th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

It’s no secret how far diesel engines have come in the last few years. Old issues like rough running, nasty smells, loud operation and narrow power bands have all been ironed out. But after all that hard work, many automakers are now turning much of their focus on to electric and hybrid vehicles.

According to sources in Japan, Honda is joining the list of global automakers that have abandoned plans to move further into diesel power development. Instead, Honda will continue to focus entirely on hybrid basket, developing a new system for use in larger vehicles. Currently, Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist technology is used in the Civic Hybrid and the Insight.

Honda’s next hybrid system should further improve its current IMA tech, which has fallen short of the fuel efficiency and performance of rival Toyota, but is able to operate on the electric motor alone for longer stretches.

In addition to stopping development of clean diesel tech, Honda has also put the brakes on the new microcar plant in Japan that was to build future Kei cars for the domestic market.