Ford Focus XR5 Turbo 2010 Review

April 23rd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Like many Kiwis, this writer long had a thing for Ford’s hotter versions of its small passenger vehicles. This fancy has over the years been partially satisfied, once by owning a Laser S and soon after an Escort XR3i. But for each occasion my wants were appeased there have been other fast Fords that I have regrettably never tasted. I’m not alone in my passion either, there’s something in the sporty Fords that really appeals to us here in NZ. Is it the reasonable priced attainability? Or is it the sleeves-rolled-up, blue-collar nature of these machines?

The answers may lay with Ford’s current go-fast offering in NZ – the Focus XR5 Turbo. While it’s not the top-spec Focus RS, which never made it here, the XR5 is no softie and I had a weeklong date with the hot hatch. So we set off on a quest to see if the XR5 shares the same assets of its revered ancestors.

Now in its second generation the Focus has undergone a facelift that has brought with it a more purposeful aesthetic. While only sharing minimal design DNA with its Escort forefather the XR5 has a refreshed face with reworked headlights and a flatter looking grille. At the rear it’s all business with a new tailgate and diffuser-styled bumper sitting above the twin exhaust outlets that signal speedy intent. Finishing the athletic look is a wide body-kit and distinctive Y-spoke 18-inch alloys. Overall, the XR5 is a real looker; it encompasses all the muscular styling cues hot hatch buyers look for and despite being in the latter stages of its lifecycle appears modern and suitably aggressive.

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Subaru Impreza WRX widens body for 2011

March 24th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The new 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX has been upgraded for the latest model year, and has picked up the same widebody design as the high-performance STI verision. The new widebody look will become standard on both the WRX sedan and hatch making for a more aggressive look. The official unveiling will be at next month’s New York Auto Show.

Front and rear tracks have been widened by 38mm, firmer rear subframe bushings and wider 17 inch wheels and tyres should amount to improved grip in the 2011 model. The standard wheels are now 17’s and are fitted with chunky 235 mm rubber. The extra width does result in a weight increase of around 15kg over the outgoing 2010 model.

The drivetrain has been left unchanged remaining at 195kW and 343 Nm of torque coming from the car’s 2.5-litre turbocharged engine. Subaru’s trademark symmetrical all-wheel drive system naturally remains as standard, as does a viscous coupling locking center differential.

Inside, all WRX models are equipped with aluminum-alloy pedal covers, sports bucket seats, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, and iPod/USB connectivity.

The 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX should find it’s way to NZ in the final quarter of 2010.

Mitsubishi Outlander VR 2010 Review

March 17th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

For its first generation Mitsubishi’s compact/medium crossover was known as the Airtek, but that name didn’t stick and by its second generation was dropped. Its replacement was equally unique, part highlander, part outlaw, the ‘Outlander’ nameplate was introduced. Like the adventurous moniker would suggest the Outlander was capable of reaching higher ground regular cars couldn’t while still having enough pace to easily enable law-breaking speeds. Late last year the Outlander had a mid-cycle facelift and swaggered back into town with new styling, engine tweaks and a few new tricks. Car and SUV saddled up with the reworked Outlander to see what’s new and check it still had the goods to be NZ’s best selling medium SUVs.

While the upgrades are deeper than a new front end, that’s where the most noticeable change exists. The new ‘jet fighter’ front grille is robbed off the Lancer and although you couldn’t call it pretty, it gives the Outlander a purposeful, staunch presence. Other exterior updates include a new bonnet with character lines that lead into the grille, colour-coded door mirrors, side-sills and a new rear bumper. Our VR model test vehicle was finished off with silver integrated roof rails, front fog lamps and smart 18-inch alloys. Overall, the Outlander is a handsome SUV, it makes use a fairly standard boxy shape but the upgrades have helped release individuality from those confines.

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Maybach to receive final facelift

March 16th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

If recent reports coming out of the UK are to be believed, Maybach is set to get the axe very shortly. But there is still time for one last trick and all three models from the ultra-luxury division of Mercedes-Benz are set to receive facelifts this year. The last round of high-class Maybachs will be revealed in late April at the Beijing Motor Show.

Changes are expected to be very minor with new grilles and LED lights being the main differences from the sedans currently on sale.

Why is the Maybach on death row? Because high price tags have resulted in slow sales combined with hard financial times it simply isn’t the right environment for a ultra-luxury car brand to flourish. Also, Mercedes-Benz has big plans to expand the S-Class range, which includes adding higher-spec versions which will go some way to replacing Maybach’s current offerings. The new S-Class is set to arrive in 2014. Till then click the link below to check out some images of the high-rolling Maybach.

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Lotus Elise gets facelift for 2011 model

February 18th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

For the first time in more than seven years, the track-day warrior Lotus Elise is receiving a major facelift. And if you've noticing a few styling cues lifted from the Evora, your not wrong at all.

The striking new front fascia isn't there to help create a new-look uniformed range, it's actually mainly about efficiency. Thanks to the smoother, lower nose, restyled headlamps (complete with daytime running lights), larger grille and side ducting, new engine cover and reworked rear lines, the 2011 Elise's coefficient drag figure has been reduced by four percent.

The 1.8-litre engine remains, pumping out 192 hp in its naturally aspirated form and 217 hp when equipped with a supercharger. A new Toyota-sourced 1.6-liter engine will be made available for the first time with 134 hp (at 6,800 rpm) and 118 pound-feet of torque (at 4,400 rpm), which should result in a 0-100kph time of around six seconds. A six-speed manual remains standard on all models, and new lightweight forged wheels are available as an option, along with cruise control.

The 2011 Lotus Elise should be distributed globally from this April, expect sales to begin later this year.

Toyota Aurion Sportivo 2010 Review

February 12th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The word Aurion has the ancient Latin meaning of ‘first light’ or ‘tomorrow’ and Toyota Australia had the future in mind when it developed, produced and released its large car effort back in 2006. Based on Camry underpinnings and sheet metal but with a larger front and rear the Aurion was set to cut into the large sedan market dominated by the Falcon and the Commodore. Offered exclusively with a V6 powerplant the Aurion wasn’t optimally positioned for the current climate where smaller more fuel-efficient vehicles have rapidly gained in popularity. But Toyota is pushing on with the Aurion and the 2010 range has received a mid-life refresh. Car and SUV spent some time with the sports-focused Aurion variant the Sportivo to see what’s new and what lays ahead for this Aussie born battler.

The 2010 model year changes to the Aurion range are all appearance and equipment based with the vehicles’ mechanicals remaining the same. In terms of exterior looks the Sportivo has been sharpened up and the sporty persona maintained over its more conservative siblings. Frontal styling changes are the most obvious with a wider honeycomb grille and trapezoidal low air intake. Black plastic framed fog lamps also feature strongly as do new halogen headlamp lenses. At the rear new clear taillights are distinctive in their modern, after-market style. Rounding off the refreshed look are smart 17-inch split five-spoke rims. All up, the changes reinforce the Aurion’s athletic presence, and maintain its look of a steroid pumped Camry.

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2010 Mazda6 facelift revealed

January 26th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda has just announced that its facelifted version of the 2010 Mazda Atenza would go on sale immediately in Japan. The car will be officially introduced internationally at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show as the 2010 Mazda6.

The mid-size car comes in body shapes, a four-door sedan, five-door liftback, or five-door wagon.  Its “grinning” front end, including a new front bumper, brings the Mazda6 inline with the Mazda3 but the grinning front styling isn’t crazy happy like the 3, more mildly chuffed. More significant changes are at the back, where the car now sports a completely remodeled bumper, light clusters, and tailpipes. Inside, the car now has a single color interior instead of the contrasting tones in the 2009 model, giving the interior a more serious look.

Powerplant options include a new, more efficient petrol 2.0-liter DISI1 unit replacing the current 2.0 engine. Mazda’s MZR 1.8- and 2.5-liter petrol engines have also seen some tweaking.  The MZR-CD 2.2-liter turbo diesel, on offer ranging from 127 to 178 horsepower, has modifications to make it more efficient and clean.

Some new features include adaptive lighting, hill assist, and an adjusted chassis. The Mazda6 will get its international premiere at the Geneva Motor Show in March, and will go on sale in international markets soon after.

Check out images of the updated Mazda6 in the gallery below.

Nissan Qashqai facelift revealed

December 8th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Nissan Qashqai 2010 fq

Nissan has revealed its updated Qashqai crossover hatch, due to go on sale mid next year.

The refreshed Qashqai receives an upgraded aggressive front end, with new headlights, grille and bumper.

Out back styling remains largely unchanged, however the taillights gain new LED lenses, and small tweaks for improved aerodynamics and reduced drag.

The drag coefficient on the Qashqai has dropped from 0.34 to 0.33 with the 2010 update.

Inside, the instrument cluster has been redesigned and a new drive computer lives between the main dials.

Low-level lighting has been fitted around the front footwells, to assist with nighttime visibility when entering or exiting the 2010 Qashqai.

Noise, vibration and harshness has been improved for 2010, with the addition of an ‘acoustic’ windscreen and a new multi-layer insulation material fitted around the front bulkhead.

More information is likely to be revealed as the launch for the 2010 Qashqai draws closer.

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