Mini refreshes model range for 2011

June 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The second generation of BMW’s modern Mini has been tearing up the streets for a couple of years now and it has just received a subtle refresh. With the exception of the newly introduced Countryman crossover, the remainder of Mini’s lineup including the hatchback, Clubman and convertible models has received a subtle facelift with fresh styling updates and new diesel engines for the 2011 model year.

All variants of the Mini have been given a new front bumper design to refresh the face and improve pedestrian protection by larger deformation zones, new light elements in the headlamps, redesigned side gill housings with indicators, restyled rear bumpers and LED tail lights now on all models. There are five new paint colors on the Mini pallete and fresh alloy wheel designs to choose from.

Inside, there are redesigned controls for the centre console, steering wheel, air conditioning and audio systems. There are new materials and colours including six new upholstery choices, and two new interior color lines for door cards and side panels.

Sitting under the bonnet, there’s an all-new 1.6-litre diesel engine that shares the same internals and variable turbine geometry as BMW’s 2.0-litre diesel units. When used in the Mini, it will be offered with two output ratings – 90HP in the Mini One D and 112HP in the Cooper D.

The diesel engine will also feature for the first time in the Mini Convertible.

The refreshed 2011 Mini will go on sale globally from September.

Ford unveils facelifted 2011 Mondeo with more powerful engines

June 28th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Ford in Europe has released the first official photos of the refreshed 2011 Mondeo, along with some details on the mechanical updates. This unveiling precedes the official public premiere at the 2010 Moscow Auto Show at the end of August.

All three Mondeo body shapes receive a subtle redesign with new engines and more equipment. In terms of visual changes the only major change is a reshaped front fascia with a larger trapezoidal lower grille similar to the Fiesta and the upcoming 2012 Focus, as well as refreshed headlights with LED daytime running lights. At the rear, the tail lights also include LED technology and all body styles get a new rear deck lid.

No photos of the interior have been released yet but Ford says that there’s a new “flow-through” centre console design, revised door treatment featuring flush and integrated door release handles, a different central overhead console with ambient lighting and higher grade trim materials.

New interior features include a a new satellite navigation system and a Premium Sound System option which incorporates a 265-watt, eight-channel amplifier unit.

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Toyota launches facelifted Corolla Sedan in NZ

June 22nd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota has just facelifted the sedan version of New Zealand’s most popular car the Corolla. Apparently the reworked Corolla is boasting a more sophisticated design, a higher quality interior and advanced, user-friendly equipment.

Toyota New Zealand General Manager of Sales and Operations, Steve Prangnell said, “We’re very pleased with the fresh new look of this facelift Corolla Sedan, and we’re confident that the new Corolla sedan offers customers the right mix of style, specification and value”

The Corolla sedan is available in GX and GLX grades with a 1.8 litre petrol engine and 4-speed automatic transmission.

EXTERIOR

Corolla sedan’s new front features a redesigned bumper, radiator grille and lower grille. New headlights finish off the front look.

At the rear, there are significant changes to the combination lamps, bumper and license plate garnish. New to the facelift model are door mirrors with integrated side indicators.

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Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG gets reworked exterior

June 16th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

With so much hype around BMW’s M-badged X5 and X6, as well as the recently reworked Porsche Cayenne range, Mercedes-Benz’s super-fast sport SUV has been out of the limelight. The ML63 AMG has just had a facelift and the top-rung ML will retain the same 6.2-litre naturally aspirated V8 that features in much of the AMG lineup. This motor produces 503 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque in this application.

While an all-new AMG M-Class is on the cards for the next couple of years, for now, Mercedes-Benz has refreshed the ML63 with some subtle exterior tweaks, including darkened headlamps and taillamps, a refreshed hood and tweaked front and rear underguards finished in chrome. After that, not much else is different, the seven-speed AMG Speedshift transmission still sends torque to all four wheels that measuring 20 inches with 21s as an option.

In the ML AMG’s next generation, the German automaker should make use of its brand new twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8, this is good for around 544 horsepower and a thumping 590 pound-feet of torque.

Even though high-powered SUVs don’t make an awful lot of sense these days, there is still a market for them and they are still pushing forward. Continue reading “Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG gets reworked exterior” »

2010 Nissan Pathfinder goes upmarket in NZ

May 28th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Nissan’s revised Pathfinder is getting a facelift for 2010 along with a power increase and new equipment. The price will stay the same at $76,800 for the mid-sized, seven seater 4WD Sports Utility Vehicle.

Nissan has rationalised its Pathfinder range to a single high specification model based on the outgoing Ti version. It will only be available with a turbo diesel engine and a five speed automatic gearbox.

New features on the revised Pathfinder include Xenon headlights with washers, intelligent key operation, an auxiliary input for iPod operation and Bluetooth hands free phone system with the main controls on the steering wheel.

The other big change is under the bonnet where Pathfinder gets the same engine as the Navara ST-X ute with a 2.5 litre power plant. Power is up 11 percent to 140 kWs from 128 kWs and torque has risen to 47 Nm from 403 to 450 Nm. Fuel economy has been lowered by 1.3 litres per 100 kilometres to 9.0 l/100km and CO2 emissions are down 38 g/km.

Visually the Pathfinder has a new front for 2010 with a new bonnet, bigger grille and bumper which adds 80 mm to the Pathfinder’s length.

The Pathfinder’s cabin has also received attention. There’s new leather seat upholstery and chrome highlights to the instrument binnacle which receives new dials. The steering wheel boss has illuminated controls for the audio system and Bluetooth hands free phone system. The audio system itself now has a six CD in dash auto changer with an auxiliary MP3 player input jack.

The 2010 Pathfinder retains all the following standard safety features; electronic safety programme, hill descent control, hill start assist and six air bags. The ABS brakes also have brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution. All seven seats have three point belts with pretensioners and load limiters on the front seat belts which have height adjustable shoulder anchorages. There are anti intrusion door beams and front and rear crumple zones in the chassis — body in the event of an accident.

In the cabin there are also steering wheel controls for the cruise control, sound system and drive computer. The cruise control now features a Speed Limiter and the dual zone climate control air conditioning has added rear outlets, while the front leather seats have power operation. There is a sun roof with blind, 17 inch alloy wheels, side steps, front fog lights and folding door mirrors with indicator repeaters and puddle lamps.

Finally, a new colour, Black Pepper has been added to the range.

To find out more click here to visit the Nissan NZ website.

Facelifted 2010 Nissan Qashqai on sale in NZ

May 27th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Nissan’s European-designed, British-built Qashqai compact hatch is evolving with the release of the 2010 model here in NZ. The new Qashqai comes packing a new look and improvements in specification and efficiency.

In Europe, and increasingly in New Zealand, the Qashqai has become a new alternative to both the traditional hatchback and the bulkier SUV. The Nissan Qashqai has notched up 600 sales in New Zealand since its launch a year ago, a significant achievement for what is still a niche segment model.

“The Qashqai has played a key role in reinforcing Nissan’s position as an innovator in the European market, and its introduction here has provided a spur to sales,” said John Manley the Managing Director of Nissan New Zealand. “It now accounts for almost 10 percent of our sales, and this is expected to increase with the arrival of the 2010 models. We see the Qashqai cementing its position as a design and innovation leader, providing an exciting alternative to traditional hatches.”

The arrival of the 2010 model brings new refinements and some additional specification as standarFor the top-of-the-range Ti model, the equipment list now includes new features such as standard panoramic sunroof, dual zone auto climate control air conditioning, 18-inch alloy wheels, Xenon headlights, and the Nissan Intelligent Key for keyless starting and entry/locking.

Aero efficiency improvements have reduced combined-cycle fuel consumption to 7.6l/100km for the CVT auto (a 0.29 l/100km saving over the previous model).

New features for the lower-spec Qashqai ST includes: steering wheel audio, Bluetooth hands free phone system, and drive computer controls and new exterior styling. Existing standard equipment on the Qashqai ST models include: Cruise control with steering wheel controls, air conditioning, disc brakes all round, ABS/EBD with Brake Assist, Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) and Traction Control System (TCS), MP3 aux input, and six airbags including front to rear SRS curtain airbags.

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Toyota refreshes RAV4 diesel SUV in NZ

May 24th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota has enhanced its diesel RAV4 model with a bolder new look. The new chrome-accented front design emphasises RAV4 diesel’s wide track and stable stance.

The horizontal bar-type radiator grille design has been widened and is framed by new headlights which are integrated into a new bonnet and front bumper design.

Filling the wheel arches are newly designed 6-spoke 17″ alloy wheels that highlight the facelift model.

In the RAV4 interior there are no changes. Safety wise the RAV4 diesel is available with Vehicle Stability Control Plus (VSC+) and Traction Control as standard specification, as well as a full airbag package with driver and passenger front, side, driver’s knee and front/rear curtain shield airbags.

The 2.2 litre diesel engine hasn’t increased power and provides 110kW of gruntand 340Nm of torque delivered exclusively through a 6-speed manual gearbox. RAV4 uses just 5.8 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres while emitting 154 grams of CO2 per kilometre.

Toyota’s RAV4 is also available with a petrol engine in standard and Limited grades with the choice of manual or automatic transmissions. Specifications for these models remain unchanged.

The recommended retail price remains unchanged for all models.

Click here to read a full Car and SUV road test of the Toyota Rav4 diesel

2012 Nissan GT-R to recieve even more power

May 21st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

With its arch nemisis, the Porsche 911 Turbo, now packing a 530 horsepower punch, the Nissan GT-R’s 485 power output is starting to look like it’s just not enough. So to counter the German threat the R35 is expected to receive some major changes for the 2012 model year. The reworking should see some new aero bodywork, suspension and brake upgrades, and a retuned 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 that’s likely to output over 500 ponies.

Main visual differences should be a new front splitter and rear diffuser design. The six-speed dual clutch transmission should also receive an update to handle the extra performance.

The 2012 Nissan GT-R will go on sale globally from early next year.