Mazda: 2014 Mazda3 SP25 hatch & SP25 Limited sedan review

September 24th, 2014 by Robert Barry

The all-new Mazda3 is the third vehicle in the Mazda line to sport the Kodo – Soul of Motion design theme with the distinctive five-point grille that is now shared with the Mazda6, CX-5 SUV, and CX-9 SUV, as well as the recently revealed MX-5.

This third generation Mazda3 has grown longer and wider but more importantly it has matured and offers buyers more features and benefits than ever before. It does indeed set a new benchmark in the mass market small car (C segment) class with its mixture of safety technologies, head up display, and human machine interface. Continue reading “Mazda: 2014 Mazda3 SP25 hatch & SP25 Limited sedan review” »

MINI: 2014 Cooper S hatch quick drive

September 16th, 2014 by Richard Edwards

At the same time as I had the keys to the latest Mini Cooper S in my pocket, I happened upon a documentary from Britain’s BBC as to why the German automotive industry was so much better than their own.

Among a number of obvious reasons – vehicle quality, labour relations, arrogant management – was that the Germans work heavily to develop, and then protect, their brands.

And that work is clearly evident in the history of the Mini. BMW have managed to take what was an iconic small vehicle decades ago, and turn it into a brand, which in the space of a decade has become so strong that they can stick it to a range of vehicles with little but come round headlights and cutesy styling nods to the past.

Continue reading “MINI: 2014 Cooper S hatch quick drive” »

Skoda: 2014 Citigo review

September 5th, 2014 by Ian Ferguson

The Custard Yellow five-door Skoda hatchback parked on the roof top of the downtown building, almost appears as if it’s sneering at the bigger cars jammed around it in very tight spaces.

Outwardly the Citigo appears small, but that’s until you hop into it, and find a roomy and practical cabin indoors. Even Alec Issigonis [designer of the original Mini] could get a gin bottle from his liquor outlet to fit in the door recess. If it was Blue in our household it maybe referred to as the Tardis. Continue reading “Skoda: 2014 Citigo review” »

Hyundai 2-litre ix35 Elite versus i30 2-litre Elite 2014 review

May 4th, 2014 by Robert Barry

DSC_0023Never a company to be caught on the back foot, Hyundai New Zealand launched a plethora of 2014 model year cars last November, and two of the most interesting were the new versions of the front-wheel-drive series II ix35 Elite SUV and i30 Elite hatchback with a new 2-litre direct injection petrol engine.

And even more interesting, was the price point, each currently retails at $43,990, so Car and SUV decided to evaluate which offers the better value for money or driving experience.

DSC_0026The 2-litre engine which powers the front-wheel-drive ix35 entry level and Elite models, produces 122kW of power and 205Nm of torque, while the 2-litre engine in the i30 hatch produces 129kW of power and 209Nm of torque.

For 2014 the front-wheel-drive ix35 received a significant makeover, and hence it now known as the series II, and the 2-Litre Elite test car pictured on this page arrived in a fetching shade called Atomic Orange.

As well as adding two more colours to the ix35 range, Pure DSC_0041White and Cobalt Coast, Hyundai gave the ix35 series II a new headlight treatment with new bi-function projection type headlamps, and two new alloy wheel designs while making metal-effect roof rails standard across the range.

Inside the Elite series II models not only benefitted from a rear seat reclining function offering increased comfort of occupants, and the Elite models also received new soft touch front and rear upper door trims to differentiate them from non Elite versions.

DSC_0038I previously felt the cabin plastics of the ix35 were a bit cheap looking, Hyundai obviously had received such comments from other customers and have installed a new centre console which looks a lot better, yet is still wholly functional.

Additionally the series II ix35 has a new audio system, with integrated factory Bluetooth audio and telephony as well as a new supervision cluster. Hooking up a mobile phone is done within seconds and the softer blue lighting of the supervision cluster is a nice change from white or red as used by other manufacturers.

But it is the on road behaviour that has noticeably improved, the series II ix35 has also been subject to suspension improvements from the engineers at Hyundai Motor Company Australia in conjunction with their Korean based colleagues.

The series II ix35 has been fitted with the Mando suspension system as well as a re-calibrated electric power steering system (with three modes, normal, comfort and sport) which has sharpened up the steering response, as well as providing improved handling around corners and a far better ride quality overall.

You will occasionally feel lumps and bumps more sharply, but the trade off is that the car and driver feel more connected to the road than before, and the body control of this vehicle is far better.

Additionally the six-speed automatic transmission has also been fettled by the engineers and is now far more decisive and intuitive to change up or down on steep gradients than it was before.

Being an Elite grade model means the front-wheel-drive 2-litre ix35 enjoys the same level of specification as its larger engine all-wheel-drive siblings. Push button start, dual zone climate control, proximity key, heated front seats. reversing camera and sensors, electric folding external mirrors, and steering wheel mounted controls are standard features.

Boot capacity remains generous with 465 litres (VDA) with the rear seats in place and 1436 litres with the rear seats folded down.

There is more than enough room for mum and four soccer players plus all their gear in the ix35 Elite and the wonderful thing about leather seats is just how easily they wipe clean after carrying dirty, damp teenagers. A hot damp cloth is all that is needed to keep this interior looking pristine.

DSC_0067But if the series II ix35 2-litre Elite  is still a bit too soccer mum and practical for your tastes, then may we introduce the new 2-litre GDI i30 Elite hatch which also retails for $43,990.

Sitting at the top of the i30 line, the 2-litre GDI Elite hatch is differentiated from the 1.6-litre turbo diesel and 1.8-litre petrol hatches by a unique 17-inch alloy wheels and daytime running lights.

The 2-litre i30 is solely available as an Elite variant with a DSC_0072six-speed automatic transmission, and its GDI engine has been uprated to 129kW of power, which is amongst the highest in this competitive segment.

While the specification is very similar to the ix35 Elite, the i30 Elite hatch also receives satellite navigation with a 7 inch touch screen, and it too has received the Mando suspension upgrade which provides shaper response and a more involving drive.

Ride quality over most surfaces is pretty good, the DSC_0103suspension does a good job of insulating cabin occupants from discomfort, and at motorway speed this car is a quiet and comfortable cruiser that will happily tackle long distance runs.

Naturally because if its smaller dimensions the 2-litre GDI i30 Elite does feel a lot nimbler and sportier on the road than the ix35, but in fairness it’s a quite a different animal entirely, and we feel aimed at a much different audience.

Locally the C-segment hatch market is littered with some DSC_0104very well specified, and well priced competitors such as the Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Golf, Mazda3, Holden Cruze, Kia Cerato, Honda Civic, Subaru Impreza, Peugeot 308, and Citroen C4.

To make a statement against such competition, you need to have a really well specified and competitive offer, and we feel the i30 Elite more than warrants placing on the shopping list. Its the little touches such as the dinky wee electric parking brake, the reversing camera that pops out behind the H badge on the tailgate, and the multi-setting seat heaters that just make living with this car more and more enjoyable on a daily basis.

Not to mention that the car will sense the proximity key in your pocket as you approach it and will fold out it mirrors and turn on the puddle lamps for you. It might seem twee, but on a cold and wet morning its a nice touch.

In summary we felt while the i30 was by far the more involving car for a driver, in terms of value for money, none of the two cars bettered each other, and the choice between the two Elite models will come down to how well each suits the lifestyle and needs of the buyer.

Price $43,990

Pros

  • Well priced and well specified vehicles
  • i30 is a delight to throw around a winding road
  • ix35 is a great load carrier

Cons

  • Factory tyre choice could be better
  • Styling has become a little bit “me too”
  • Will the Hyundai name have enough cachet amongst the neighbour?

Words and pictures: Robert Barry

 

 

Road Tests / Car Reviews: Hyundai Accent Elite 2014 second review

April 21st, 2014 by Robert Barry

DSC_0005 Car manufacturers often find that a popular model will often become the victim of its own success, as each new generation of a car line becomes bigger and more expensive.

To a certain degree this applies to several Hyundai models, notably the new generation i30 which has matured into a competitor for the VW Golf and Toyota Corolla with specification and price tags to match. Continue reading “Road Tests / Car Reviews: Hyundai Accent Elite 2014 second review” »

Holden Cruze hatch arriving in NZ with five-star safety

October 6th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Holden’s Cruze hatchback will be arriving here in NZ shortly and will arrive with the highest possible five-star ANCAP safety rating.

Launching in November, the GM Holden designed and built Cruze hatch maintains the same safety standards set by the Series II Cruze sedan, which went on sale here earlier this year.

Like the sedan, the hatch receives the maximum safety rating thanks to a range of active and passive safety features included as standard.

Six airbags including driver and front passenger, front side impact and side curtain airbags, electronic stability control, anti-lock braking system, electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control and a collapsible pedal assembly system all come as standard kit.

The entire Cruze range benefits from a robust body structure and a advanced chassis system, which delivers accident avoidance capabilities. There’s also energy-absorbing load paths that protect the passenger safety cell and offer optimum protection in the event of a collision. Continue reading “Holden Cruze hatch arriving in NZ with five-star safety” »

Holden NZ announces new features and pricing for Cruze range

September 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Holden NZ is preparing to add the hatch version of its popular Cruze to the model range and has announced updated pricing and features for both hatch and sedan variants.

Holden will introduce Bluetooth as standard for all models of the Australian-built Cruze sedan and hatch broadening the vehicle’s appeal.

The integrated feature, will now be standard as part of the 2012 Cruze, on sale from early next year. Holden General Manager of Marketing, Matt Woodley, said the addition of the technology was in response to consumer demand.

“I think it’s clear that Bluetooth has become an increasingly important feature for many motorists so it made sense to make it standard on Holden’s best-selling small passenger car,” said Woodley. “Bluetooth is now standard across a number of Holden’s most popular carlines including Commodore, the all-new Barina and now we are happy to announce, Cruze.”

Two new colours will be introduced in the model upgrade and will be available on all Commodore and Cruze. Perfect Blue, a bright solid blue based on Peter Brock’s Formula Blue, will replace Voodoo, and Chlorophyll, a metallic teal, will replace Poison Ivy. Continue reading “Holden NZ announces new features and pricing for Cruze range” »

Ford Mondeo Titanium Hatch 2011 Review

September 9th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Mondeo needs little introduction. Since it took over Ford’s medium size sedan duties from the Telstar in the mid nineties it’s become a popular fixture on NZ roads. With strong four- and six-cylinder engines and broadly appealing styling the Mondeo has clocked up impressive sales through the years. But at times during its four generations, the Mondeo has taken criticism for being dull, vanilla and a bland sales rep’s car. When the current model Mondeo was released in 2007 it neutralized these complaints with fresh dynamic design and new technologies scored during Ford’s ownership of premium brands Volvo and Jaguar. For 2011 Ford has pushed the Mondeo a step further into the fun zone with tweaked ‘kinetic’ styling a twin-clutch transmission and more equipment than the NASA space program. So will the facelifted Mondeo spin sales reps and private owners into a frenzy? Car and SUV saddled up a top dog Mondeo Titanium hatch to find out.

When it comes to exterior styling the fourth-gen Mondeo was already a looker, so Ford has understandably played it safe with the cosmetic updates. Changes on the Titanium include new front and rear bumpers, a new bonnet and grille, revised taillights and modernizing LED daytime running lights at the front. The result? It’s the meanest looking Mondeo yet. The front aesthetic is particularly aggressive with its bulging bonnet line, wide-mouthed air dam and thin, blackened-out grille. At the rear, jeweled two-piece tail lamps and a low air diffuser extend the kinetic design. Continue reading “Ford Mondeo Titanium Hatch 2011 Review” »

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