ZF reveals world’s first nine-speed auto transmission

June 13th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It wasn’t long ago that a six-speed auto transmission was very special indeed, then seven-speed boxes came along, followed by eight-speed and now ZF has unveiled the world’s first nine-speed automatic transmission.

Called the 9HP, the ground-breaking transmission has been designed for front-wheel-drive vehicles with transversely mounted engines. It will help automakers reach fuel economy standards with a fuel usage decrease of up to 16% versus a now standard six-speed box.

Apparently the 9HP is versatile in its applications and can handle all-wheel-drive service and also hybrid power. It’s also capable of being used with stop-start technology to sip away on even less petrol. It can accommodate torque outputs that range from 280 to 480Nm. Continue reading “ZF reveals world’s first nine-speed auto transmission” »

New Holden Malibu revealed in Chevrolet form

April 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Holden’s new medium-sized sedan, the Malibu, has made its international debut at the Shanghai Auto Show amid much anticipation.

The reveal, conducted by Chevrolet, saw the veil lifted on the new-generation model that will be sold in up to 100 countries including Australia next year. A decision has not yet been made on whether the Malibu will be sold here in New Zealand. If it is, the Malibu will replace the unpopular Epica in Holden’s lineup and will compete against segment heavyweights like the Ford Mondeo and Mazda6.

The Mailbu will be powered by a range of 4-cylinder engines, with more details to be released shortly. Over in the States the Malibu will be offered with a new direct-injected 2.5 litre four-cylinder Ecotec petrol engine producing 141kW and 245Nm of torque.

The exterior design has taken inspiration from Chevrolet’s iconic Camaro muscle car and also some styling cues from the Cruze. The wide stance, twin exhaust tips and integrated spoiler give it strong road presence. Continue reading “New Holden Malibu revealed in Chevrolet form” »

VW design boss lets slip on new Kombi

November 25th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

It might just be time to dust off the dream of a new Volkswagen Kombi with news that Klaus Bischoff, chief designer for VW, believes a new version of the classic Camper is a fundamental part of his job. This rumour isn’t new and has certainly come around before, but with the success of the New Beetle’s ten-year production their may be a sound business case for a full Kombi revival.

At one point, there were plans to offer a production version of the 2001 Microbus concept that made waves at that year’s Detroit Motor Show, but potential costs put an end to that project. Now, a new Microbus seems back on, according to Bischoff, and Volkswagen is trying to figure out how conventional or creative to go with it. Volkswagen design offices around the world are being asked to offer input to help develop a vehicle with broad influences. At this stage possible platforms and powertrains are unknown but if it all goes ahead a new Kombi concept is likely in 2012.

Chrysler looking to resurrect the Barracuda badge

November 10th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Something quite special for the muscle car scene happened at the recently held SEMA show in Las Vegas. Ralph Gilles, the big cheese at Chrysler’s Dodge brand in the states came out and told a crowd of Mopar-obsessed fans that a resurrection of the classic Barracuda may be on the cards.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds, especially with Dodge already re-released the Challenger, which was the Barracuda’s fellow pony car sibling from 1970 through 1974, so the new vehicles platform has already been developed. The bigger question is how exactly would Chrysler differentiate the two models if they shared a platform and featured similar styling? Also, how would the model fit into the current Chrysler range? Being that the Plymouth brand was phased out from the Chrysler Group’s portfolio back in 2001, if the ‘Cuda brought back from oblivion, it would most likely be marketed under the Chrysler brand.

“There’s a lot of pressure on us to bring the ‘Cuda back,” said Ralph Gilles, he added that “the customers have been stomping their feet for it.”

This is the second occasion that the Chrysler Group has looked into bringing back the ‘Cuda nameplate, but due to ownership changes and of course, last year’s bailout, the company was forced to put all plans on hold. But now, with improved financial stability it could be time for this motoring icon to return to the fold. Stay tuned.

Suzuki releases images and details of new 2011 Swift

June 14th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Suzuki has just unveiled the next chapter in its success-story Swift model.

While the new Swift looks like a facelift of the outgoing model it is a entirely new vehicle and Suzuki clearly don’t want to depart significantly from a winning formula.

There are no official photos of the interior at this stage, but rumours are suggesting that the dashboard design is heavily inspired by the Suzuki Kizashi sedan.

Underneath the sheetmetal, is an all-new platform that increases the 2010 Swift’s wheelbase by 50mm to 2,380mm and the car’s overall length by 90mm to 3,850mm. Other dimensions have also increased with the new Swift being slightly wider (+5mm) and taller (+10mm).

According to Suzuki extensive use of higher strength steel makes the new bodyshell lighter and stiffer than before.

Along with the new platform, the 2010 Swift also gets a new petrol unit and a revised diesel engine. A 1.2-litre petrol engine with Dual VVT (Variable intake and exhaust valve timing) replaces the outgoing 1.3-litre unit. It produces 94-horsepower at 6,000rpm, slightly more than the outgoing 1.3-litre unit, while torque is also improved to 118Nm (87 lb-ft) at 4,800rpm.

Fuel consumption for this engine on the combined cycle is 5.0 l/100km, for the manual transmission model, an improvement of 0.8lt/100km over the previous 1.3-litre unit. An optional automatic transmission will be available from launch.

A revised 1.3-litre diesel engine will be on offer in some markets and produces 75HP and has a combined fuel consumption of a mere 4.2lt/100km.

A replacement for the popular Swift Sport model is also planned by Suzuki.

Suzuki Alto coming to New Zealand in 2009

August 19th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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The new generation Suzuki Alto mini-car is set for a New Zealand launch next year.

The stylish five-door hatchback goes into production in October and makes its world debut at the Paris international motor show the same month.

Destined to be a significant international car, the new front wheel driven Alto is the fifth world strategy car from Suzuki, following the success of the Grand Vitara, Swift, SX4 and Splash models.

Suzuki expects annual production of the Alto to reach 960,000 by 2010, with around 100,000 units destined for European markets.

As the smallest world car yet from Suzuki, the highly efficient Alto is totally in tune with today’s needs.

The thrifty car is characterised not only by low running costs but also for its strong styling and European flair.

Prominent ornate headlights, a bold front end with a deep grille, teardrop roofline, high metal-to-glass ratio and flared wheel arches provide a highly distinctive look for the new Alto.

“This fresh styling creates a sense of dynamism even when the car is stationary,” said Tom Peck, General Manager of Marketing for Suzuki New Zealand Limited. “We have every reason to be highly enthusiastic about the arrival of this new car which we expect to have here by mid 2009.”

The new Alto is based on the funky A-Star concept car, recently shown at a number of international motor shows.

Powering the latest Suzuki passenger car will be a Euro 5 compliant one-litre engine with CO2 emissions lower than 109 grams/kilometre.

The lightweight, aluminium K10B engine displaces 996cm3 and has three cylinders.

Alto was a pioneer of mini-cars in New Zealand, with the first generation version going on local sale in 1979.

The early models were built in many countries worldwide and were also assembled in New Zealand into the eighties.  Alto played a significant role in establishing the brand locally as an automobile manufacturer.

Suzuki is the leading international manufacturer of mini-cars in the world and the twelfth largest motor manufacturer.  The marque is represented in 190 markets and has achieved nine years of consecutive growth.

In addition to the unveiling of the new Alto in Paris, Suzuki will also display two hydrogen fuel-cell models — the SX4 FCV and the Crosscage which has an air-cooled fuel-cell system.

‘New car’ smell could be a health hazard

August 1st, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Worst ‘new car’ smell for this year has gone to the Mitsubishi Eclipse Spider GT, which is thankfully unavailable on the New Zealand market.

To see if your car is making you sick, then the chart provided by www.healthycar.org might give you a clue.