Hyundai NZ launches updated Santa Fe

November 27th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Hyundai Santa Fe Launch fq

Hyundai New Zealand officially launched its facelifted Santa Fe model at a special event yesterday.

The biggest change for the updated Santa Fe is the new R-Series engine and transmission.

“With over 30 percent more power and a 10 percent  reduction in fuel consumption, the R-Series engine now puts out more power than many rugged 4×4 utilities on the market –  the difference on the road is unbelievable’” says Hyundai Santa Fe Launch bothTom Ruddenklau, National Sales Manager Hyundai New Zealand.

Since its launch in 2000, more than two million Santa Fe’s have been sold globally and 4,260 here at home – that says a lot about the success and popularity of the model.  In New Zealand it’s been the number one selling diesel SUV for 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 YTYD.  With the new model arriving and being better than ever before, that success is sure to continue.”

This 2010 Santa Fe has already proved itself in terms of fuel economy. It took Hyundai Santa Fe Launch ftop honours in the SUV class at the transcontinental Global Green Challenge recently; delivering less than six litres per 100 kilometres in the Australian outback.

The Santa Fe comes with a choice of three engines; the all-new 2.2 litre R-Series diesel engine which delivers 145 kW of power at 3800 rpm, and 436 Nm of torque at 1800 — 2500 rpm. The 2.4 litre Theta II MPI petrol engine which produces 128 kW at 6000 rpm and 226 Nm of torque at 3750 rpm and the 3.5 litre Lambda II MPI petrol engine producing 206 kW at 6300 rpm and 335 Nm of torque at 5000 rpm.

The R-Series diesel engine in particular is Hyundai’s newest and most advanced engine development. During its development Hyundai built over 500 prototype engines during the 42 month-long development period, encompassing a wide variety of performance and emissions tests and endurance assessments.

“The Santa Fe is the first of Hyundai’s models to have the new R-Series diesel engine fitted and proves Hyundai’s diesel development capabilities really are Hyundai Santa Fe Launch sworld-class. With diesels becoming cleaner and more fuel efficient all the time, there’s a growing demand for diesel power plants which Hyundai is working to meet,” says Ruddenklau.

New features on the 2010 Santa Fe include a proximity key with a push button start. Other new features include a reversing camera and rain sensing wipers, electric seats, and full i-pod connectivity.

Hyundai New Zealand continues its stance on safety standards across its range; the Santa Fe has an advanced Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) as well as Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD), which applies the optimum pressure to individual brakes in all braking situations.

Retail pricing for the Santa Fe petrol models start at $52,990 and from $58,490 for the R-Series diesel model.

To find out more, click here to check out the Hyundai NZ website.

Toyota updates Aurion range in NZ

October 8th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota Aurion 2010 fq

Toyota has enhanced the look of its Aurion sedan range for the NZ market. Upgrades include a new look bumper and grille designs for the four model range as well as new rear combination lamps.

The Sportivo SX6 model has updated front headlights and new stylish clear lens rear combination lamps.

For additional comfort and safety, climate controlled air conditioning is a new feature incorporated into Aurion’s Sportivo SX6 model.  Reverse cameras are now standard on Aurion’s Sportivo SX6 and Touring models, with both models displaying a reverse camera monitor on their audio unit screen.

The audio system in the AT-X, Sportivo and Touring has been upgraded to support Bluetooth telephone. Bluetooth audio playback is also available for the Sportivo SX6 and Touring models, enabling music to be played from an MP3 player via Bluetooth connectivity.  Additionally in these two models, the audio system includes a six disc MP3 / WMA CD changer, with auxiliary and USB input jacks.  The AT-X and Grande also have an auxiliary jack added.

For greater convenience, audio and phone controls have been added to the steering wheel of the Aurion AT-X, along with a new instrument panel for all grades.

All models sport new alloy wheel designs and new seat fabric to complete their updated look. ¨The new look AT-X, Sportivo SX6 and Touring models are available now while the updated Grande will be available from November.

The Aurion has just been awarded a five star safety rating in the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP), Australia’s leading independent vehicle safety assessment programme.

Mazda RX-8 2008 Review

December 7th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

mazda-rx-8-fq2

In Japan there is an old saying, “A nail that sticks up is a nail that is knocked down.” Mazda boss Tuneji Matsuda didn’t care much for this expression back in 1961 when he broke away from his piston-preferring peers and brought the fascinating but (at that stage) flawed Wankel Rotary engine to Japan. Matsuda was thirsty for the success of the rotary engine, so he solved its problems, put it into production and let it dominate the Mazda range in the Cosmo.  When the 1973 global oil crisis hit it was the rotary’s thirst that forced Mazda back into conventional engines.

Matsuda’s desperate grasp at individuality within a conformist industry within a conformist society was an act of rebellion that enriched the motoring world. Now, over forty years after the first mass-produced rotary vehicle and numerous generations of Mazda models later there is only a single currently produced survivor of Matsuda’s rebellious rotary legacy, the Mazda RX-8.

In 2003 the most advanced version of the rotary engine, the 13B Renesis, was dropped into the then new RX-8. For this year’s 2008 model tweaks have been made to the Renesis engine, but Mazda has chosen to focus on improving low-rev engine response and torque delivery rather than increasing raw power. The engine remains strong, producing 170kW@8200rpm of power with 211Nm of torque, and will rocket the RX-8 to 100km in 6.4 seconds. These figures don’t tell the whole story of how rapid the RX-8 can be. The Renesis engine is a high revving temptress that draws the driver into the renegade rotary attitude. To get the most from the RX-8 you need the tacho up around a totally unsociable 8,500rpm but this smile-inducing fun comes at a price.

Poor fuel economy almost killed the rotary during the ‘70s and although now improved it still remains the RX-8’s Achilles’ heel. An average consumption figure of 12.5L/100km isn’t great, but get those rotors spinning around the 9,000rpm redline and the RX-8 will drink like an arts major on student loans day. Despite Mazda’s work on low-end torque, getting caught in the wrong gear remains frustrating. However, gear changes are a pleasure using the RX-8’s 6-speed manual transmission, shifts are short, neat and have a fulfilling mechanical feel. The revised model’s gearbox offers closer-ratio lower gears and a higher sixth-gear for motorway cruising. The RX-8 is perfectly capable running the straight line of the motorway, but get it on some twisty roads and it will groove to its own beat.

Handling is exceptional, the rear-wheel-drive RX-8 grips the road with flawless balance and poise, proving that much of the magic from Mazda’s MX-5 has found its way into the RX-8. This is largely helped by a perfect 50/50 front/rear weight distribution that allows the tail end to be lively on request, but ultimately controllable. The already sharp steering has been further improved in the 2008 RX-8 and underbody aerodynamics has also received treatment reducing high-speed lift and aiding stability. So Mazda’s outsider knows how to sprint and knows how to dance, but how does it look?

The rotary spirit has smashed its way out of the engine bay and exploded all over the rest of the vehicle. The RX-8 has interior and exterior aesthetic tributes to its rotary motor starting with a rotor shape set into the bonnet line. The car’s oversize front fenders have been toned down but still pull away from the rest of the vehicle and follow a low line underneath the rounded doors over widened rear guards to link up with a bulging rear bumper. New 18-inch rims add to the bling and twin exhausts sitting below intricate rear-light clusters finish the look. Overall the RX-8 sits sleek and flat with more curves than Nikki Watson holding a beach ball and a flagrant disregard for any so-called styling rules.

The RX-8’s rear-hinged suicide doors work equally for form and function, helping any unlucky passenger who needs to shoehorn into the small back seat. Symbolic rotor-shape cues are continued on the inside with a custom gear knob and plastic inserts in the front seats headrests. The interior has been improved for the 2008 model with modified seating and harder wearing materials used on high impact surfaces. Grand piano glossy black plastics and contrasting silver surrounds give the rogue rotary a touch of class, but the plastics seemed to scratch easily. Seats are well bolstered and comfortable with eight-way power adjustment for the driver. An electric sunroof, a 6-disc CD player with 300-Watt amplifier, and side airbags are standard fare on the 2008 RX-8.

The RX-8 deserves some credibility as a hard-nuts sports car, but it can also be quite docile in unsporting scenarios; a light clutch makes stop-start commuting bearable, and while it’s low-slung and low-roofed, all round visibility is good.

In 1961 Tuneji Matsuda had greater plans for the future of the rotary engine than just a single Mazda model, but the RX-8 remains the final disobedient outpost of his vision. Now the RX-8 is a unique prospect, not just to those who crave the alternative, but also to anyone who enjoys exciting motoring. The RX-8 sticks out with its style, engine sound and pace, if you want to knock it back inline, you better be coming with a large hammer and even then you won’t catch it.

Click through to the next page for a list of specifications.

Price: $55,350

What we like:

  • Exciting driving experience
  • Unique vehicle
  • Exceptional balance and handling
  • Affordable sports car

What we don’t like:

  • Low-end torque
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Platform could handle more power and speed
  • Auto is slower

Mazda RX-8 (2008)  – Specifications

Engine

Front midship Renesis
2 rotors in-line, naturally aspirated, multi-sideport

Engine capacity cc: 1,308 (654 x 2)
Compression ratio: 10.0:1
Maximum power kW: 170 @ 8,200rpm
Maximum torque Nm: 211 @ 5,500rpm
Fuel system: Multipoint electronic injection
Fuel tank capacity L: 65
Fuel consumption L/100km: 12.9
Recommended fuel: Premium unleaded (min. 95 RON)

Chassis and Suspension

Weight distribution Front:Rear: 50:50
Brake type – Front and Rear: Ventilated disc
Brake diameter Front mm: 323 Rear mm: 302
Suspension Front: Double wishbone with mono-tube shock absorbers and torsion bar stabilisers
Rear: Multi-link (five links per side) with mono-tube shock absorbers and torsion bar stabiliers
Steering: Rack drive electric power assisted (engine revolution sensing) rack and pinion
Turning circle – Kerb to kerb m: 10.6
Tyres: 225/45R18 91W
Wheels: 18 x 8.0 JJ (alloy)

Dimensions

Overall length mm: 4,470
Overall width mm: 1,770
Overall height mm: 1,340
Wheelbase mm: 2,700
Ground clearance – Laden mm: 101
Track Front mm: 1,500
Rear mm: 1,505
Cargo room Volume L: 290
Kerb weight kg: 1,402

Words and Photos, Adam Mamo

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