Subaru Forester 2.0D Euro Spec 2010 Review

June 18th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Returning us to high school days, you might recall the first day back at school after the long summer holidays. There was usually some kid who during the break experienced a sudden spurt of maturity and returned much bigger and more grown up than ever before. It’s a similar scenario for the third generation Subaru Forester that now only scantly resembles the boxy first model that’s become a bit of a cult favourite here in NZ. Proof that as Subaru strives to be a more mainstream global brand its products are being designed with a broader, more sensible appeal. The new 2010 Forester is also available with a diesel engine option and although Subaru is a late bloomer into diesel power it’s an impressive motor on paper. Car and SUV spent a week with the oil-burning Forester 2.0D ‘Euro Spec’ to measure its growth and mark its report card.

Let’s duck straight under the Forester’s scooped bonnet where the 2.0-litre 4-cylinder diesel engine provides all-wheel motivation. With this new unit Subaru has continued its commitment to a horizontally opposed boxer configuration albeit in diesel form. Power output is rated at 108kW with a muscular 350Nm of torque available from just 1800rpm. It can lay claim to being the world’s first diesel boxer engine and gives the Forester an intriguing character. Off the mark it’s no rocket ship, but once the revs rise on the turbocharged engine there is generous mid-range torque on offer. Unlike some turbo diesels the Forester needs to be pushed and held higher in the rev range to extract its best performance. If you don’t, it can get bogged down, especially if it falls below turbo-range at around 1500rpm. This requires working the gears which makes for a more involving drive.

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Toyota Yaris Edge 2010 Review

June 18th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

In a world of mass production and broad appeal design finding an edge is not an easy task. But this hasn’t stopped carmakers from exploring small additions and various tweaks for their existing vehicles in the pursuit of stimulating sales. In the case of the Toyota Yaris the extra kit has come in the form of a special edition package named Edge. The new Toyota Yaris Edge has expanded the Yaris range in NZ and claimed a place as the highest-spec variant in the line-up. So what exactly gives this Yaris the edge over its siblings and what is Toyota giving you for the extra coin? Car and SUV revisited the Yaris to find out exactly what the Edge is all about.

Priced at $31,800 the Edge commands a $2,800 premium over the standard 1.5-litre Yaris ($28,990), so where’s the extra money going?

Mainly into exterior aesthetics, not quite to a ‘pimp my ride’ level but enough to keep the Yaris looking dapper as it gets into the latter stages of its lifecycle. Additions for the Edge include front fog lamps, handsome 15-inch alloys (the standard model rolls on steel rims), and a full sports styled body kit. What really sets the Edge apart from other members of the Yaris clan is the athletic look that comes with the body kit. It’s a comprehensive fit-out with front and rear bumper skirting pieces, side skirts and a roof spoiler at the rear. There’s also a replacement front grille that gives the Edge its own face. The body kit extends the Yaris’ natural lines well and with the vehicle’s raked back windscreen, high waistline, and stumpy bonnet it has a pouncing stance.

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Suzuki SX4 Ltd Sporthatch 2010 Review

June 11th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

When most people think of a compact hatchback made by Suzuki it’s one model they usually have in mind — the Swift. But the Suzuki range has another small hatch within its ranks named the SX4. Riding higher than the Swift and with a larger engine the crossover-inspired SX4 hasn’t been able to match the Swift’s popularity since it was first introduced back in 2007. Back then, some claimed the SX4 was too thirsty for a small car and commented on the absence of a stability control system. Now for 2010, the SX4 is fighting back with a revised model range that features a CVT transmission, improved economy and better safety credentials. Car and SUV spent a week in the facelifted SX4 to see if it’s ready to emerge from behind its Swift sibling’s sizable shadow.

So what’s new on the 2010 model? Well, plenty, just not much in terms of exterior sheet metal. Some subtle tweaks feature up front in a new grille design and on our tested Ltd-spec model, sharp 17-inch alloys fill the guards. Elsewhere it’s a smart-looking hatchback with a tall but progressive stance, raked back headlights and a distinctive wrap-around rear windshield. The Ltd Sporthatch receives extras like front fog lamps and a sports-styled skirting kit with high mounted rear spoiler. Overall, the SX4’s looks aren’t exactly groundbreaking and while slightly generic, do still carry a broad modern appeal.

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Nissan 370Z Roadster 2010 Review

June 7th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Nissan’s Z cars have a lengthy history that’s been groundbreaking, if not always successful. It all kicked off back in the late 1960s when the 240Z was launched and changed the way the world viewed Japanese performance cars. Before this break-through vehicle Japanese sports cars were often seen as too small, uncomfortable and worse — underpowered. The 240Z threw that perception into its six-cylinder engine and burnt it up, but not every Z car since has been as well received. Now the new 370Z is the sixth vehicle to wear the iconic ‘Z’ badge and the coupe has received raving reviews, but can the roadster variant keep pace? Car and SUV spent some time with the 370Z’s soft-top sibling to find out if it’s pure Japanese sport car or just a very expensive hair dryer.

From the outside the Roadster isn’t a large departure from the Coupe: it’s brawny, bold and, while curvaceous, isn’t at all feminine. The 370Z has ironed out much of the awkwardness that the preceding 350Z was criticised for. The shark tooth look up front is purposeful and a long bonnet with raked back headlight clusters ooze style. At the rear it’s big booty time with a high deck and wide swollen guards that are pinched off by a nearly vertical rear bumper. With so much visual mass at the rear the 370Z is athletically stanced and possesses massive road presence. The look is finished off by perfectly matched 19″ Rays alloys and a Z badges on the front guards that moonlight as indicators.

When it comes to the roof, the 370Z looks better with it dropped, but it remains a commendable effort. It’s longer and tapers off more gradually than the roof on the 350Z roadster. It also uses a lined high-quality fabric rather than vinyl and houses a glass rear window. To lower or raise the roof requires no latches or manual input and is done with the push of a button by an electro-hydraulic system. It’s a busy affair as the roof clunks through its movements. It can also be performed from the outside of the car by holding down the door unlock button. There is a solid feel to the roof and its mechanism, once in place, up or down, there is no creaking or noise from any joining points.

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Skoda Yeti 2010 Review

June 7th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Why don’t we have Yetis in New Zealand? That’s a question seldom asked here. I mean we have enough crazy people to see them and it was Sir Ed Hillary that first climbed the highest peak in their native Himalayan region, surely he could have organised safe passage for at least one. But we still don’t have any Yetis¦ until now.

Skoda has come to the rescue and made its new Yeti crossover vehicle available to all curious kiwis. So is this latest product from the world’s most underrated automaker really a dynamically competent, uniquely styled and keenly priced specimen? Or is that just fantasy? Car and SUV tracked down one of NZ’s very first Yetis to find out more.

At first glance the Yeti is distinctive and modern but probably won’t scare anyone. Its nose is the Skoda corporate grille that sits between uniquely designed headlight clusters. Character lines crease the bonnet and a colour-coded B-pillar breaks up the wraparound glass house. It’s neutral in stance and is fairly restrained but still displays soft roader styling cues like enlarged wheel arches, black plastic protective skirting, integrated roof rails and nudge plates front and rear. The rugged yet refined look is finished off with 5-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels. Overall, it’s a well-defined vehicle, while it won’t suit all tastes, it’s square back, chunky bumpers and four-eyed face have an unorthodox charm.

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Hyundai ix35 CRDi Elite 2010 Review

May 31st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

So what’s new about the Hyundai ix35? Well, pretty much everything, including the name. The ix35 is an all-new model for the Korean carmaker and is set to replace the popular Tucson here, in the NZ market. The ix35 is a sheet-metal representation of Hyundai’s bold charge from bare-bones carmaker to a builder of stylish and desirable product. But even for an in-form Hyundai the compact soft roader market segment is hard fought by established competitors like Toyota’s Rav4 and the Honda CR-V. The ix35 has got the fresh-faced looks to get into the ring, but does it have the ability to come out on top. Car and SUV tag-teamed with the new ix35 CRDi Elite to test its metal and its mettle.

Penned at Hyundai’s European Design Centre in Germany the ix35 has a distinctive Euro flair to its aesthetic. Using Hyundai’s new ‘fluidic sculpture’ design language the ix35 is busy with dramatic crease lines and multi-sided shapes. Up front an aggressive grille, raked windscreen and pumped up bonnet signal dynamic intent. Swollen wheel arches and an ascending belt line dominate the profile view and out back wrap around jewel-stone tail lights and a roof spoiler finish the modern look. The Elite tested model is given added appeal by chrome work on the front grille and door handles with 18-inch 5-spoke alloys filling the guards. Overall it’s a curvaceous modern looking vehicle which will appeal nicely to image conscious buyers, it also isn’t overtly feminised — a potential hazard within the class.

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Toyota Land Cruiser 200 VX 2010 Review

May 28th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The Land Cruiser 200 is the King Kong of the Toyota range, boasting all the strengths of normal SUVs but with a physical presence and brute force all its own. As a descendent of the original Japanese military spec Land Cruiser the 200 has six decades worth of dirt running through its veins. But as the Land Cruiser has matured, some badge fans have said all the new luxuries and fancy styling has distanced the LC from its mud-munching roots. So is the Land Cruiser 200 still king of the jungle, capable of thumping its chest and cutting through any terrain? Or has it become softer than a beer-bellied slug? Car and SUV spent a week on the move with the 2010 Land Cruiser 200 to find out more.

The first thing that strikes you with the 200 is its bulky presence; for NZ it’s a giant of an SUV. Over the various generations the Land Cruiser has got larger and larger and now cuts an intimidating shadow. Up front it has a wide gaping grille with wrap around halogen headlights and a flat bonnet line. Flared guards and a high waist dominate the flanks and it’s a squarer look at the rear with a split tailgate and red-jeweled lights. Luxury exterior touches include chrome bright work on the side mirrors, grille and hatch grab bar. 18-inch alloys and tinted glass finish off the look.

Climb inside and there is an impressive amount of space on offer. The dark leather seats are flat but wide and separated by a massive centre storage box/armrest. All three rows of seating get air vents and 3-point seat belts, meaning 7 occupants can travel in comfort. The third row seating offers ample headroom and decent leg room for anyone under 6-foot it also has cup holders and handgrips. The back row is side mounted and splits in half to fold away while the second row is slide and recline adjustable. With the third row stowed away there’s a huge 700-litre cargo area available.

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Jay Leno adds 2011 Ford Mustang GT to his famous garage (+video)

May 27th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

As one of the world’s most famous ‘car men’ Jay Leno was always going to get his greedy hands on the new 2011 Ford Mustang GT. So he’s just taking delivery of the latest car to enter his enviable garage. It’s not the first Mustang in Leno’s stable — he also owns a mint 1965 Shelby GT350 that he claims is one of his favorite cars to drive. Now the newest generation 5.0 is joining it. To celebrate and share his impressions with the world Leno has filmed another episode of Jay Leno’s Garage.

You might be surprised to hear how the comedian reviews the car. He also compares the new Mustang to some high-end metal from Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

Click the link below to check out the new episode of Jay Leno’s Garage. Continue reading “Jay Leno adds 2011 Ford Mustang GT to his famous garage (+video)” »