Kia pushes ahead with RWD sports sedan concept

August 22nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

There has been rumours floating around for a long time about a mysterious Kia rear-wheel drive sports sedan. Back in July things heated up with reports that this concept may debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Now it’s clear that not only is there a Kia sports sedan concept, but it looks suitably staunch as well. Kia’s latest concept has been announced for a Frankfurt debut and the fist images of the four-door coupe have been released.

The swooping design borrows heavily from the Optima sedan with a high belt line and lengthy chrome strip. The fastback design features four seats in a 2+2 configuration.

“I believe the car is a strong statement from Kia: We are ready to fast forward to an all-new chapter,” says the automaker’s design chief, Peter Schreyer. Continue reading “Kia pushes ahead with RWD sports sedan concept” »

Mini Countryman Cooper S ALL4 2011 Review

May 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mini’s new Countryman has been launched amid serious anticipation and with a tough task ahead. To really succeed it requires people to reconsider everything they know about a brand they instantly recognise and mostly admire. When the Mini first appeared in 1959, it was a budget car for the people, a distinctive machine that was attainable and the world loved it. Then in 2001 BMW reinvented the Mini in a modern form, some people weren’t so hot on it, many others were, but we all got used to this new Mini and grew to accept it. Now, in an understandable effort to broaden its model range and appeal, Mini has launched its new Countryman. With four doors and significantly larger dimensions it comes asking new questions of the public. Can people accept that Mini as a company is more than just one model with different variations? Can the Countryman be a viable option for practical-focused families and modern lifestyles? Will it still retain enough appeal for Mini enthusiasts and offer traditional go-kart-style driving dynamics? Car and SUV strapped into Mini’s top spec Countryman ALL4 in search of the answers.

Minis are most famous for being mini in stature so it’s no surprise that many folk are getting all caught up on the Countryman’s plus-size proportions. For the record it’s 4,110mm in length, 1,561mm in height and is quite wide at 1,996mm. This makes the Countryman 381mm longer, 128mm higher and 104mm wider than a regular modern Mini. Think of it as a large hatchback or a small crossover vehicle. Continue reading “Mini Countryman Cooper S ALL4 2011 Review” »

Rumours Toyota is developing a four door FT-86

September 7th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Speculation has entered the motoring world as an anonymous Japanese source has tipped there may be a four-door version of the Toyota FT-86 in the works.  While details are scarce its reported the sedan will be virtually identical to the coupe. This will mean we can expect a naturally powerful 2.0-litre boxer engine aligned with a six-speed manual transmission and ADVICS brakes.

Expanding the FT-86′s base to include two more doors would expand the potential market for the car, though its rear-wheel drive system will work against it in that regard, as the trends suggest consumers of low-to-mid-range vehicles tend to look for front-wheel drive vehicles.

The source also speculates a 3.6 litre H-6 engine from the Subaru Outback could be dropped in. However you couldn’t imagine there being any room for this. If that were to go ahead, the car would be more like an entry level luxury car, as the pricing and performance would easily surpass the reach of the typical mass market sedan.

However, if Toyota has green-lighted this, don’t expect anything until at least before 2013 as the FT-86 coupe itself isn’t due out until late 2011. Continue reading “Rumours Toyota is developing a four door FT-86” »

Production of Honda’s four-door Civic Type-R to cease

April 21st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

First there was no replacement NSX Supercar, then the S2000 become an extinct beast and now Honda is ceasing production of its Civic Type R four-door model. While we didn’t see this go-hard Civic here in NZ by the end of August 2010, no one in Japan or Europe will either. The car was being manufactured at the company’s Suzuka factory in Japan, while the previous model had come off Honda’s Swindon, Wiltshire, UK, production line.

The four-door Type R had some go too and unlike its three-door hatchback sibling with 150 kW, the four-door Type R’s 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine was gifted more power for a rating of 168 kW. Drive was of course at the front wheels and arrived through a 6-speed manual transmission.

The Type R badge is still worn by what’s left of Honda’s performance models, it was first offered with the iconic NSX back in 1992. The first Civic Type R appeared in 1997 and proved instantly popular.