October 5th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham
Look closely at the front grille and air splitter and you see the types of curves and air inlets that you expect on an F1 car. And it doesn’t stop there because there are vanes and little details all over the place like on the side of the rear lights. This is the IS300h F Sport, a 2.5-litre hybrid IS-series Lexus with all the fruit. That’s probably what the F stands for: Fruit.
But for similar money you could have the base model IS350 (shown on the left – the remainder of the images in the article are the IS300h). The purpose of this article is to tell you which one to go for: the lesser-powered IS300h plus the trimmings or the brawny but more basic IS350 which will smoke the tyres and give you grins with its 3.5-litre V6. The IS300h F Sport weighs in at $91,995, whereas the IS350 is $94,995 – barely a difference at this kind of money.
A beautiful line ascends gracefully from the side skirt through an imaginary chord across the rear wheel, along a panel intersection and into the rear light cluster. It’s one of the best executions of this design trick that I’ve seen and it draws your eye up around the rear of the car which is a perfectly executed tail that looks both executive and sporty.
Drop yourself into the bucket seat and it wraps itself around you. The seats are both supportive and comfortable, and a great balance between gripping you enough and not restricting your movement.
In the F Sport a central circular dial dominates the centre of the instrument cluster and in normal or eco mode it contains a gauge that measures how economically you’re driving and how much power is either being directed to the battery or drawn from it. Either side of the dial are information displays for the trip computer. Switch the Lexus into Sport or Sport+ mode and this centre ring slides to the right giving a larger screen area to the left. This will now show all manner of information ranging from what is playing via Bluetooth from your phone through to servicing information in an interface that is well-designed.
Look inside the IS350 and you get a more standard-looking set of dials without the fancy graphics that accompany the change in driving mode – they’re a bit too Camry-ish in my opinion. The IS350 only gets three modes (eco, normal and sport) whereas the IS300h F Sport adds a Sport+. Continue reading “Lexus IS300h F Sport and Lexus IS350 2013 Review” »
August 17th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham
As a piano player I’ve often used the excuse of ‘play a mistake, play it again, call it jazz.’ In fact, Miles Davis said “If you’re not making a mistake, it’s a mistake.” So, will Jazz Hybrid ownership provide you a lilting and harmonious melody, or a seething pit of arrhythmic dissonance?
You can only get the Jazz Hybrid with a 72kW 1.3-litre IMA i-VTEC engine. It’s full of ‘economy-enhancing technology’ like VCM (variable cylinder management) for optimising power and efficiency, and drive-by-wire electronic throttle control, according to Honda. And, of course, it’s connected to the hybrid-y electric bits.
The engine is accompanied by a CVT gearbox, as is becoming popular. This is quite noisy under full acceleration. The Jazz is destined to be a town car driven shorter distances, so a CVT is the sensible choice with its superior fuel economy on the urban runs. You can expect your fuel economy to sit in the 5-6l/100km range. I achieved 5.3l/100km driving from Ponsonby to Arkles Bay and back into Whangaparaoa (about 40km of urban and motorway driving), without trying to drive economically, and without having the eco switch turned on. That’s not bad, but Honda claims 4.5l/100km, so obviously I’m a leadfoot.
You can’t instruct it to drive under just battery power. Instead, the Jazz turns off the engine as you’re coasting to a stop, and thus saves petrol when you’d ordinarily be burning it at the lights, plus it will provide some power during cruising by managing the petrol engine. Continue reading “Honda Jazz Hybrid 2013 Review” »
July 9th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham
Lexus has set out to build a world-class luxury saloon car, and it has succeeded. Should you add one to your already luxurious life?
Back in 1989, I was still too young to drive, but I remember when the first Lexus was launched. The culmination of six years of work by the Toyota subsidiary resulted in a car that laid waste to the competition in terms of build quality and performance. Its only problem at the time was brand cachet.
That’s long gone, though, and Lexus is truly recognised as a luxury brand. As the flagship model in Lexus’s line-up, the LS600hL acquits itself with aplomb because the interior is spectacularly comfortable. The driving experience is Continue reading “Lexus LS600hL 2013 – Review” »
November 9th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham
Whether it’s by happy accident or you’ve planned it, your four or more children put you in a small minority in New Zealand. Strictly speaking, having lots of children isn’t the most environmentally friendly thing you could do. Fortunately Toyota has created a seven-seat Prius v that will help atone your ecological transgressions.
Typically you’d choose an SUV, like a Toyota Land Cruiser or Holden Captiva 7, or a minivan to transport your kids. Universally, though, these will Continue reading “Toyota Prius v S-Tech 2012 Review” »
September 3rd, 2012 by Darren Cottingham
If there are any vehicles that are poised to reap the best market acceptance from hybrid technology, it should be SUVs. People like SUVs because of their practicality, but they don’t like stupendous fuel bills and that’s one of the reasons why sales of traditional SUVs have struggled recently and will continue to do so as the price of fuel increases.
If you are considering a Lexus LX450h, though, you’re probably unconcerned at the extra one or two thousand dollars a year in fuel bills you’ll save over purchasing a non-hybrid SUV. Chances are your other car is a Euro model with a large engine and the Lexus SUV will be for more practical duties like going snowboarding (it has a snow mode) or taking the kids to school. Therefore the hybrid badge on a Lexus SUV is because Continue reading “Lexus RX450h F Sport 2012 Review” »
August 1st, 2012 by Darren Cottingham
The top-of-the-line Toyota Camry i-Tech is a hybrid with no performance compromise. There’s not a whole lot of price difference between the Camry i-Tech and the Prius i-Tech (only a couple of grand), but while the Prius i-Tech is packed with more features (adaptive cruise control, heated seats, head-up display and a few other comfort items), the Camry focuses more on the driving experience.
A back-country drive through Tahuna, Otway and Te Aroha gave the Camry some serious Continue reading “Toyota Camry i-Tech Hybrid 2012 Review” »
July 23rd, 2012 by Darren Cottingham
There’s an interesting exercise in brand pricing going on with the Prius i-Tech. You can get into the Prius range with the Prius c for around thirty-one to thirty-five thousand, but then there’s a big jump to the base model Prius at fifty grand, and if you want this tricked-out i-Tech verion, it’s $54,490 (online price).
Coincidentally this is only $10 less than the base model Lexus hybrid (the CT200h), but if you plump for the top-of-the-line CT200h F Sport which has similar features to the Prius i-Tech you’ll pony up $72,000.
So, your decision is whether to Continue reading “Toyota Prius i-Tech 2012 Review” »
July 20th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham
Today I read a scathing dissertation on global warming in Rolling Stone magazine. The main thrust of the article was that the globe simply can’t tolerate a 2% rise in CO2, but the oil companies are too politically powerful to be legislated against and that any change in our oil consumption habits has to be driven from the population. But in the Herald today it said that half of New Zealanders are ‘sloth-like’. So it’s not going to suddenly happen due to us all deciding to bike to work.
It’s going to happen eventually, though, because Continue reading “Toyota Prius c 2012 Review” »