Mazda: 2015 Mazda6 Skyactiv-D Limited wagon

March 16th, 2015 by Robert Barry

Disclaimer: Writer is predisposed to cars painted in metallic silver, as well driving diesel engines, and is particularly fond of station wagons or SUVs.

Despite their best efforts, there is always a distinctive clatter to a diesel engine when starting up and idling and the new Mazda6 Skyactiv-D is no exception, but it is still one of the most refined units you’ll come across in the mid-size mass market. Continue reading “Mazda: 2015 Mazda6 Skyactiv-D Limited wagon” »

Jeep: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Diesel Limited review

February 26th, 2015 by Robert Barry

It’s quietly amusing to those of us with long memories, that the marriage of Daimler Chrysler and Mitsubishi ended in a fairly nasty and expensive split while the recent union between Fiat and Chrysler-Jeep seems to have worked rather well thus far. Continue reading “Jeep: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Diesel Limited review” »

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” »

Kia: 2014 Sportage Urban Limited review

August 18th, 2014 by Robert Barry

More and more private and fleet buyers are beginning to cotton on to the fact that they don’t need to have an all-wheel-drive SUV.

What they can have now is a front-wheel-drive version with all the bells and whistles, normally found on a top specification 4×4 variant.

Kia Motors New Zealand was among the first to introduce front-wheel-drive SUV models to this market segment with its second generation Sportage Urban in base LX and mid-range EX grades. Continue reading “Kia: 2014 Sportage Urban Limited review” »

Jeep: 2014 Cherokee Limited V6 review

July 31st, 2014 by Robert Barry

When the first pictures of the new Jeep Cherokee leaked out of America, many people including myself looked at it and wondered what the design team had been smoking on their tea break.

The square boxy KK series Jeep Cherokee as we all knew it, had been consigned to the rubbish bin, replaced by a modern and contemporary-looking SUV that wouldn’t look out of place in the showroom of any Korean, Japanese, or European brand.

The radical exterior design of the new KL series Cherokee divides the rugged lower body and smooth upper body by the key waterline feature and a waterfall bonnet says Jeep. Continue reading “Jeep: 2014 Cherokee Limited V6 review” »

2012 Jeep Cherokee arrives with new diesel engine

October 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The new 2012 Jeep Cherokee goes on sale in New Zealand this month with a new diesel engine option and a range of upgrades.

The 2012 Jeep Cherokee is available in NZ in a single specification level – the high grade Limited. It goes on sale with a choice of diesel or petrol engine variants.

As well as the familiar 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine which produces 151 kW @ 5,200 rpm and 314 Nm of torque @ 4,000 rpm, the Cherokee now offers the new 2.8 DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder Common-Rail Diesel (CRD) engine which produces 147kW at 3600 rpm and 460 Nm of torque at 1600 rpm.

The new diesel engine offers improved performance and economy with 13% more power over the previous model yet uses 12% less fuel. Jeep’s quoted combined fuel consumption figures for the Cherokee diesel are 7.9 L/100km and 206g/km CO2.

Jeep continues to push its 4×4 heritage in the Cherokee by offering the Jeep Trail Rated four-wheel-drive system –Selec-Trac II.

Selec-Trac II is a shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive system. Select-Trac II operates in 2WD, 4WD Auto, 4WD Low and Neutral. To back it up the Cherokee features independent front suspension with rack-and pinion steering and a five-link rear suspension set-up. Continue reading “2012 Jeep Cherokee arrives with new diesel engine” »

Suzuki Swift Ltd 2011 Review

June 17th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Suzuki Swift may be a lightweight in stature but it’s a heavyweight in terms of new car sales. Since 2005 when the compact hatch first reached our shores it’s battled hard with the much-loved Toyota Corolla for new car sales supremacy. Some months it won, some months it finished runner up but along the way more than 20,000 Swifts found their way into kiwi garages. That’s an impressive figure, but it’s just a fraction of the more than 2 million Swift’s that have been sold globally. So how did a one-time minnow car company like Suzuki do it? Simple really, with the Swift, Suzuki got the value-for-money ratio absolutely perfect. Now for 2011, the next-generation Swift has arrived in NZ and is already generating sales of more than 10 vehicles a day. Car and SUV joined the masses in getting behind the wheel of a new Swift to find out if Suzuki can really improve on a winning formula.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is how the old saying goes and it must have been in the minds of Suzuki designers when they penned the new model. The design is a safe evolution of its predecessor and only a keen eye will catch the differences at a glance. But take a closer look and the new model is more curvaceous and dynamic with a new front end including new wave-shaped headlights and a widened front grille. Along the flanks the glass profile narrows from the front windows to the rear, giving the Swift a more athletic stance. A- and B-pillars are still blacked out for a floating roof look and side mirrors and door handles are smartly colour matched. Rear design is defined by new red and clear tail lamps that push towards the back doors, a subtle hatch spoiler and bulky bumper. Our tested high-spec Swift Ltd was further dressed up with 16-inch alloy wheels and front fog lamps as standard kit. The Swift is available in 7 different colours with our test subject looking particularly dapper in ‘Boost Blue’. Continue reading “Suzuki Swift Ltd 2011 Review” »

Lexus IS350 2011 Review

May 6th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

In 1989 Toyota decided to create its Lexus premium division and many fans of the dominant European brands scoffed in unison. They wondered and doubted exactly how Lexus would develop class overnight. But Lexus was running a different playbook and knew that class would come with time, what it needed from the offset was character. It’s this distinctive character that has charmed many buyers over the years including those who purchased the popular second generation IS250. But as elegant, distinctive and well appointed as the IS250 is, for some it just didn’t pack a sluggers punch in terms of performance. Lexus recognised the opportunity to introduce a more powerful IS model and now the better-endowed IS350 has reached NZ shores. With a larger engine and two specification levels the IS350 is cutting a new edge into Lexus’ character. Car and SUV took a drive in both the IS350 Limited and F-Sport to experience their charms first hand.

Under the bonnet both IS350 variants are the same, sporting a longitudinally mounted 3.5-litre V6 engine. While many performance-focused machines are now turbocharged this V6 stays naturally aspirated and has a suitably smooth feel. It’s strong too, utilising tech like direct and port injection to achieve a power output of 233kW with 378Nm of torque. That’s good enough to take the IS350 from standing to 100kph in just 5.6 seconds and it feels every bit as rapid as this figure would suggest. It’s a far angrier and more purposeful machine than its IS250 stablemate and with 80kW more power and a full litre more displacement, visual appearance is the only characteristic the two IS models share. Continue reading “Lexus IS350 2011 Review” »

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