Kia Picanto LX ISG 2011 Review

November 11th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Working to a budget is an art form in itself; it requires discipline, sacrifice and the ability to hunt down cheaper alternatives. The global recession has increased the legions of budget-conscious kiwis and for these dollar-saving masses there is a new stead – the 2011 Kia Picanto. The Korean city car is now in its second generation and offers a giant leap forward in quality and comfort. Priced from $18,590 the Picanto is one of the cheapest new cars in the country but it is running costs where this micro machine shines brightest. Hyped up by an advertising tagline of “Clever Around Town” Car and SUV decided to put the new Picanto through an examination to see what sort of grades it could achieve.

The Picanto exterior styling has a shrink-wrapped charm and while suitably cute it also features some sporty design cues. There’s an ascending belt line that links colour-matched door handles and gives it a progressive stance. At the rear, uniquely shaped, vertical taillights sit between an integrated hatch spoiler and a chunky bumper. But it’s at the front where the Picanto is a real caricature of Kia’s current design language. The corporate tiger-nose grille sits flanked by huge, raked-back headlights and a gaping low air dam finishes the distinctive look. Our tested base-spec LX manual model received some touches not usually found in a sub-$20k vehicle like front fog lamps, colour-coded mirror caps and 14-inch 8-spoke alloy wheels.   Continue reading “Kia Picanto LX ISG 2011 Review” »

Kia Rio 2012 Review

September 12th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The new 2012 Kia Rio was launched to NZ’s motoring media at a special event in the South Island last week and Car and SUV was there to sample this latest compact hatch.

The 2012 Rio will go on sale in NZ from the end of October with pricing starting at $22,990 and comes with fresh-faced design and plenty of equipment for the money. The Rio will be released in NZ in a five-door body shape (as tested) with a four-door sedan and three-door sports hatch following next year.

In terms of styling the new Rio has received Kia’s bold corporate face with the ‘Tiger Nose’ grille, raked back headlights and a wide lower air dam.  At the rear, there’s a built in hatch spoiler and a sharp rear windscreen angle giving a dynamic Euro appearance. The Rio has a purposeful, forward-leaning stance and a coupe-inspired roofline that adds to the sporty aesthetic. There’s some eye-catching touches like the door-mounted side mirrors and our tested top spec EX model features 16-inch alloys, privacy glass and LED daytime running lamps. The Rio body shape has grown in size over its predecessor, increasing 20mm in length to 4045mm, in width by 25mm to 1720mm and is 70mm longer in the 2570mm wheelbase. However, it sits 15mm lower in overall height to further the sporty look. Continue reading “Kia Rio 2012 Review” »

Kia Cerato Hatchback LX 2011 Review

April 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Cerato is proving to be the slow burner of the Kia range with another variant now on offer – a hatchback. The four-door hatch will join the sedan and Koup in the Cerato range. But there’s more to this story than just whacking a different body shape on to Kia’s well serving Cerato platform. Kia’s new hatchback represents its full-scale entry into the most popular and hardest fought market category in NZ. Facing down more established rivals like the Mazda3, Ford Focus and VW Golf is no easy task, so how can the Cerato hatch expect to hold its own? By implementing the same strengths that run throughout the entire Kia range, distinctive design, high equipment levels and aggressive pricing. Car and SUV spent some seat time in the new Cerato hatch LX to see if its got what it takes.

In the past few years Kia has become intensely design-focused with very good results and the Cerato hatch doesn’t let the side down. While it uses the same wheelbase as the sedan, the hatch body is 190mm shorter due to less rear overhang.

At the front the two variants look almost identical both using a chrome-ringed Kia corporate grille and recessed fog lamps in a wide lower air dam. From the A-pillar back the hatch is its own car and has been styled with a modern, sporty focus. Broad shoulders, an upswept window line and bulky bumpers give the Cerato hatch a wide, athletic look and genuine road presence. At the rear the angles sharpen, and there’s attractive features like large two-piece taillights, a hatch spoiler and a black plastic diffuser. Continue reading “Kia Cerato Hatchback LX 2011 Review” »

Ford New Zealand enhances Fiesta range for 2011

November 25th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Ford NZ has officially launched its updated Fiesta range for the local market at a special event held yesterday. The popular Fiesta range sees a number of additions and enhancements for the 2011 model year including a diesel power train option and the introduction of an all-new six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission.

The 2011 Fiesta range has been on sale since 1 November and now offers small-car buyers a wider choice with improved performance and style.

Chief amongst the 2011 Fiesta’s changes is the addition of the new PowerShift automatic six-speed transmission. The new transmission introduces an efficient and smooth-changing double dry-clutch option to the petrol variants that offers the convenience of an automatic with the fuel efficiency of a manual. Effectively, PowerShift consists of two transmissions working in parallel, each with its own clutch unit. This leads to less torque interruption and a more consistent, smoother drive. This new transmission will be available with the standard-fitment 1.6-litre petrol engine.

The 1.6L petrol engine delivers 89kW and 151Nm of torque and like its diesel siblings, fuel consumption is low, with both the PowerShift and manual petrol derivatives using just 6.1-litres per 100km combined.

The Fiesta line up also includes the expansion of diesel power train beyond the already announced ECOnetic model. The efficient 1.6-litre diesel engine is torque-rich — 200Nm — and very fuel-efficient, consuming just 4.4-litres per 100km combined. Partnering the diesel engine is a five-speed manual transmission. Meanwhile, the five-door Fiesta ECOnetic will continue to offer the greenest option for drivers at 3.7-litres per 100km, making it New Zealand’s most fuel-efficient vehicle.

Continue reading “Ford New Zealand enhances Fiesta range for 2011” »

Isuzu NZ adds single cab model to D-Max ute range

October 20th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Isuzu NZ has now included a single cab model in the D-Max range. The single cab variant now joins the four D-Max double cab models to further broaden the appeal to Kiwi tradesman.

Two further new models are expected to be added shortly.

“Tradespeople depend on their pickup every day and it needs to fit their specific needs precisely,” said the General Manager of Isuzu, Greg MacDonald. “For many, a single cab on the base chassis is perfect; they will tailor it to their own use from there.”

The new single cab D-Max will use Isuzu’s 3-litre diesel engine. It will be an LX model, the lower-spec variant, as that’s what tradespeople sought.

The cab-chassis will be followed next month by an auto transmission variant of the LS model two-wheel-drive which is currently available only in manual.

By December an entirely new shape will join the Isuzu D-max lineup: a Space Cab which is an extended single cab, in 4WD.

And further dealerships will be added to the Isuzu D-Max network as well.

The entire Isuzu D-Max operation incorporating the national import company and all dealerships are entirely New Zealand-owned and operated.

Mr MacDonald says that resonates with many people. “Whether they are farmers, tradespeople, weekend warriors or families carrying people and household items, D-Max fits the lives of Kiwis ¦ and they like to know they are dealing with New Zealanders at all levels of the local operation,” he explained.

Click here to read a Car and SUV review of the 2010 Isuzu D-Max ute.