Good To The Last Drop

October 4th, 2011 by Tim Grimley

When I look at New Zealand functioning on a daily basis, it strikes me as nothing more than a minor miracle in action. There are – give or take – about 4.4 million of us knocking around the various islands that make up the nation and of this merry band about 500,000 are enjoying retirement, a further 900,000 are under working age, 285,000 are currently between jobs and 7,000 are experiencing a temporary loss of liberty at the pleasure of our judicial system.

Employing some very basic man maths, this leaves 2,708,000 people to ensure that everything requires doing in the 268,670 square kilometres of Aotearoa gets done. And the miracle is that – once Auckland’s trains are taken out of the equation – by and large, it works.

The farming community maintains a strong enough breeding programme to see we don’t fall short of milk and beef, enough people learn to wear suits to fill the corridors of Wellington, multiple generations of baristas keep Jafaland in lattés and there are still enough Kiwi grafters are left over to ensure the important stuff – cleaning streets, maintaining utilities, automotive journalism and so forth – gets done.

The countdown for petrol has begun

But there are some areas where it is always good to have a little help from time to time and one of these is Chartered Accountancy. Thanks to more people needing boxes ticked at certain times of year, the current Mrs Grimley’s firm – and I suspect others like it – fly in support staff from the various corners of the globe to pick up our bean counting shortfall.

The latest – a pair of South Africa’s finest which have been trained to answer to the names ‘Albertus’ and ‘Claire’ – arrived seven months ago and slotted rather neatly into our lives. In our short time together we’ve had numerous days out, a romantic weekend on Great Barrier Island and even managed to share the joys of the Rugby World Cup. And now they’re going.

My life has been made so much richer by my new friends that I’d simply convinced myself that they would be around forever. And the sudden, crushing realisation that this is not going to be the case is shaping to leave a hole that, until the old miracle healer Time works his magic, will be a huge scar on my landscape. Continue reading “Good To The Last Drop” »

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado VX Ltd 2011 Review

October 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

For 2011, Toyota’s Land Cruiser is celebrating 60 years of production in various rugged forms. This anniversary year has seen the introduction of the brawny FJ Cruiser, it’s seen special events and even journeys across NZ. But more importantly for Cruiser buyers are the extras you get when purchasing any new Land Cruiser before the end of the year. To mark this landmark occasion Car and SUV got reacquainted with the 2011 Land Cruiser Prado to check out the latest deals and rediscover exactly what makes this model line off roading royalty.

The special anniversary deals on the Land Cruiser range don’t include extra equipment or larger alloy wheels but concentrate on extended warranty and free servicing plans. If you buy a Land Cruiser in 2011, you’ll receive a 60-month warranty, a 60 month/75,000km service plan, 60 months worth of WOF checks and AA Roadservice for, you guessed it 60 months. So what you simply get is 5 years of guaranteed trouble-free motoring, and that’s certainly worth a lot. The offer is available on any model in the Land Cruiser range including our tested petrol-powered Prado VX Limited. Continue reading “Toyota Land Cruiser Prado VX Ltd 2011 Review” »

Kia Optima EX 2011 Review

September 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

First there were the days of Kia vehicles being a no-frills low cost alternative to the major Japanese brands, but that didn’t last. Kia then became a genuinely viable option against Japanese competitors albeit at a lower price point. But Kia isn’t content just to stop there and with models like the new Optima it’s making an ambitious play at moving ahead of the pack. However, getting the formula exactly right in medium sedan segment comes with a high degree of difficulty. Medium sedans aren’t increasing in popularity in this country so Kia is hedging its bets with a single model offering; the well equipped EX. Does this Korean cruiser have the mechanical package to back up its striking looks? After a week piloting the 2011 Optima, Car and SUV thinks so – here are the reasons why.

Exterior Design – Dead Set Stunner
The Optima’s dimensions and wheelbase are larger than its predecessor but its styling is much tighter. There’s plenty of Euro influence, from the chrome trim around the window line to the vents on the front wheel guards. The Optima also showcases the best elements of Kia’s current design language lead out by the now distinctive ‘tiger nose’ grille. Bordered with chrome the grille sits above a wrap-around lower intake, recessed fog lamps and LED running lights. A coupe-like roofline and scalloped lower door panels define the Optima’s flanks. Upswept C-pillars and an advanced stance finish off the dynamic bodywork.  Filling the guards are distinctive 18-inch alloys retained from the concept version of the Optima, they will divide opinion but are unique and certainly add extra bling. Continue reading “Kia Optima EX 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” »

Renault Fluence 2011 Review

September 2nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Renault brand is striving to re-establish itself as a stylish alternative to more mainstream machinery in NZ with its success relying on three key models. There’s the well-known Megane hatch, the seen-it-round Koleos crossover and now, a small/med sedan named the Fluence. While the Megane is pegged to be the volume seller, it’s booted brother the Fluence has been given the tough task of pulling its weight in a market segment that’s recently become more dynamic and much more competitive. Can this Euro four-door trouble more established foes like the Mazda3 and Holden Cruze? Renault wants to find out and gave Car and SUV a test drive in the Fluence for a taster of French motoring in Aotearoa.

The Fluence is based on the Renault/Nissan C platform (like the Megane) and is manufactured in South Korea by Samsung. It’s available in NZ in one specification – petrol engine with an auto CVT transmission. At 4.6 meters long it’s large for the segment and offers more passenger and cargo space than most key competitors. Continue reading “Renault Fluence 2011 Review” »

Ford Focus 2012 Review

August 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The all-new 2012 Ford Focus has been unveiled at a media event in Melbourne last week and Car and SUV was there to put the third edition of this popular hatch through its paces.

The Mk 3 Focus will arrive in NZ with two body styles, a five-door hatchback and a sleek four-door sedan. Expect a wagon version to arrive in March next year.

There’s a lot to like with the new Focus, the practical cabin and sharp driving dynamics remain, but it now offers a higher level of features and also ultra modern styling. It’s a powerful example of the ‘One Ford’ approach that will see the Focus sold in 122 markets globally. The Focus’ C-Platform will also underpin at least ten vehicles in the future and account for two million units of production by 2012. The numbers getting thrown around are big, but Ford are justified in having confidence in the new 2012 Focus. Continue reading “Ford Focus 2012 Review” »

Toyota FJ Cruiser 2011 Review

July 1st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It’s rare that any vehicle triggers a confused response from the average kiwi but the Toyota FJ Cruiser is one machine that can. With retro-inspired styling and unconventional angles the FJ Cruiser body has a brave disregard for low-key Kiwi tastes. Many Kiwi’s find themselves torn between loving it or loathing it. The Toyota badge draws us in, instantly recognising the FJ as a vehicle that must be reliable and practical like our much-loved Corolla or Hilux. But on closer inspection this Toyota seems different, it appears strangely familiar but clearly favours form over function, it’s bulky and flashy and we just don’t know. Toyota has certainly thrown the NZ market a curveball with its FJ Cruiser. In an attempt to avoid mass confusion, Car and SUV had some seat time in this distinctive off roader and brought back the results.

New Zealand is late in receiving the FJ Cruiser with it first released in the States back in 2006. It began life as a design concept paying homage to the original FJ40 Land Cruisers of the 1960s but its popularity led to full production. Built with the U.S market firmly in mind the FJ comes to us in one specification but with nine body colours on offer but the roof must be white. Continue reading “Toyota FJ Cruiser 2011 Review” »

Skoda Yeti TSI 2011 Review

May 27th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Skoda’s Yeti was first spotted on New Zealand terrain last year and was offered only in diesel engine/manual transmission form. Some were at first frightened by its unusual looks and segment-bridging body shape, but soon enough we all began to accept it. Quickly, people in the know went from accepting to admiring, and very soon the Yeti was scooping up nominations and awards both domestically and internationally.  Now for 2011, a second Yeti has reached our shores to form a two-strong Yeti pack with its diesel-powered pioneering sibling. This new Yeti is a full $10k cheaper and while it offers slightly less than the diesel model, its practicality and driver-friendly nature are shared.  Car and SUV was very impressed during its first Yeti encounter last year and again after a fresh sighting of the new-to-NZ petrol model. Now we can answer the questions of curious kiwi motorists.

So what the hell is it?
Good question, the Yeti is a small crossover vehicle or you could think of it as a high-riding hatchback. It shares its platform with the Volkswagen Golf and uses a 1.2-litre TSI engine that also has service in the Golf, Polo and the smaller Skoda Fabia. Continue reading “Skoda Yeti TSI 2011 Review” »

Page 1 of 212