Nissan Altima Ti 2014 review

March 7th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

nissan-altima-ti-2014-front

Did you love the Nissan Maxima? If so, you’re going to have to get used to a new name in town because the Altima Ti is the replacement.

Yes, Nissan has canned the Maxima as its mid-level executive offering, instead giving the Altima (which, if you remember, used to be a pretty average car) a bunch of bells and whistles and some sleek styling.

nissan-altima-ti-2014-around-view-monitoringWe don’t get the gruntier V6 Ti-S in New Zealand; we have to settle for the four-cylinder 2.5-litre 127kW Ti with its CVT gearbox and fuel economy of 7.5l/100km. I achieved 9l/100km during my week of driving, but I never put it in Eco mode. Continue reading “Nissan Altima Ti 2014 review” »

Nissan Juke Ti-S 2013 Review

February 11th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

IMG_2746

We drove a Juke Ti back in April 2012 and our main complaint was that it was slow, and that’s not surprising seeing as the standard Juke has a piffling 86kW at 6000rpm. The gods of grunt have waved their hands over the Juke Ti-S, though, endowing its 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine with a turbocharger which lifts power to 140kW, and four-wheel drive to make sure it gets it all to the ground.

IMG_2742It’s like the difference between firing an air rifle and a bazooka.  Gone is the need to try to force the pedal through the firewall to get any kind of acceleration because torque is also substantially increased from 158Nm at 400rpm to 250Nm in a nice flat band from 2000-5000rpm. The Juke Ti-S seems like it gets to 100kph in around 8 seconds which is pretty respectable for this type of car; the Ti languishes like a tortoise, taking around 12 seconds to get to 100kph. Continue reading “Nissan Juke Ti-S 2013 Review” »

Mercedes-Benz C200 Dynamic Sedan 2013 Review

January 31st, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

Your entry into the Mercedes-Benz C-class starts with the C200 at just under $70,000, and you can go right up to the C63 AMG which is a beast of a car at just under $167,000. At the fiscally sensible end of the scale the C200 comes in three flavours: C200, C200 CDi (diesel-powered), and C200 Dynamic (our test car).

mercedes-benz-c200-dynamic-sedan-rear-quarterThis Dynamic model gets 18-inch wheels, satellite navigation, a glass sunroof and electric seats with 3 memories per side. Everything about the seats is electrically adjustable. The other big improvement over the standard C200 are the headlights. It has Intelligent Light System with Bi-Xenon headlamps, Active Light System, variable light distribution, headlamp cleaning system and dynamic headlight beam control. Basically, as you turn the wheel, extra lights illuminate to the side of you to help you see as you turn. Continue reading “Mercedes-Benz C200 Dynamic Sedan 2013 Review” »

Kia Cerato 1.8 SX Hatchback 2014 Review

January 28th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

We drove the Cerato sedan a while back, and now the Cerato is back with a hatch version and some new tricks, most notably a sat nav sitting in the middle of the dash.

kia-cerato-sx-1.8-hatch-2014-rear-quarterKia is continuing its modus operandi of providing cars that punch above their weight. The design is well-sorted, and there are no issues with quality. If you want the 1.8-litre SX, like our test car, the price has increased a little since the last version and is now $37,490. There’s a model above – the 2-litre, which is $40,490 (used to be $38,490) and that gets an extra 19kW, 31Nm of torque, alloy pedals, sun roof, paddle shifters and a few other niceties. Continue reading “Kia Cerato 1.8 SX Hatchback 2014 Review” »

Nissan Pathfinder Ti AWD 2014 Review

January 21st, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

Nissan’s seven-seat Pathfinder Ti comes with all-wheel drive to get the 190kW and 325Nm of power from the 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine via the CVT gearbox to the ground. It’s a big beast, and you can tow 2700kg on a braked trailer, which gives plenty of options for the large family to have large adventures.

nissan-pathfinder-ti-2014-sidenissan-pathfinder-ti-2014-rear-quarterAt just over 5m long, just under 2m wide and almost 1.8m tall you should check it will fit in your garage or parking space. But what that means is that inside the Pathfinder it is spacious and comfortable. It feels large to drive, though, with steering inputs seemingly delayed a fraction until the beast responds – something that many SUVs suffer from, and this one is two tonnes, so has some weight that can shift arround.  The driving position itself is commanding. There is excellent forward visibility. Continue reading “Nissan Pathfinder Ti AWD 2014 Review” »

Mitsubishi Lancer GSR 2013 Review

January 15th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

Back in 1997 if you wanted a fast but cheap road car you had a huge number of choices. Subaru Legacy RS, GT, and WRX; Nissan Skyline GTS-t and GT-Four; Nissan Pulsar GTi-R; Honda Integra Type R; and Mitsubishi Galant VR4, and Evo I, II and III. You could also get a version of the Evo with a 1.8-litre engine: the Lancer GSR.

mitsubishi-lancer-gsr-2014-rear-quarterThe GSR looked very similar to an Evo I. In fact, many people put Evo I and Evo II body kits on their GSRs, and worked the engines up to well over 300kW. The GSR was much cheaper than an Evo, and you still see them around today (more so than older Subarus, which is a testament to how strong the 4G93 engine is).

mitsubishi-lancer-gsr-2014-side17 years on, while I look back at my time owning performance cars with affection, I’m sitting in what could (or should) be the spiritual successor to those point-and-shoot turbo sedans of my youth. Except I’m not. The Lancer GSR might have the huge spoiler and the sharp body kit, but that’s where it stops.

mitsubishi-lancer-gsr-2014-front-interiorIt’s now a family car with sporty pretentions. It’s got a CVT gearbox and that’s not very sporty, although it does help with fuel economy around town. Quoted fuel economy is 7.3l/100km combined. I couldn’t get anywhere near this, hovering around in the high 9s. This isn’t particularly flash from a car that’s only pumping out 115kW and 201Nm. Acceleration off the line isn’t brisk, but overtaking performance is OK. Continue reading “Mitsubishi Lancer GSR 2013 Review” »

Hyundai ix35 2.4 Elite AWD Series II 2014 Review

December 28th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

The time to update the ix35 arrived a little before this new model. We last had an ix35 back in 2010 and since then the crossover challengers upped their game and the ix35 slipped down the rankings in terms of its competitiveness. We noted the strong engine, sharp styling, economy and equipment levels in the review (which you can read here), so how does this update treat the ix35?

hyundai-ix35-2.4-elite-awd-rear-quarterThe styling hasn’t changed significantly – headlights and alloys, both with more modern detailing, plus new colour options and roof rails – so you won’t notice much difference. Hyundai is working on colours that are branding statements themselves and you can have yours in Atomic Orange, Remington Red and a few other more muted tones.

The ix35’s styling has aged well in its short lifetime, and all that was needed was a freshen up. And so we have this model which is essentially a facelift.

hyundai-ix35-2.4-elite-awd-front-interiorOn the inside there’s a slightly larger LCD between the rev counter and speedometer which shows the trip computer. The steering wheel features a couple of buttons for answering a Bluetooth-connected phone, plus a button to change the steering feeling to one of three modes (Flexsteer) – something that helps fix the vague steering we noted in the previous review. The rest of the interior is virtually identical.

The new audio system will stream audio via Bluetooth, and you can plug your phone in as well as use more conventional audio sources. Continue reading “Hyundai ix35 2.4 Elite AWD Series II 2014 Review” »

Volvo V60 D4 Luxury 2013 Review

December 11th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

Buy a Volvo with City Safety and in some countries you get a discount off your car insurance because insurance companies know that it has reduced crashes in XC60s by 22%. Insurers in New Zealand are lagging behind (probably trying to maintain their profits), but there might come a time soon when systems such as Volvo’s, or Subaru’s EyeSight attract a nice discount as they virtually eliminate at-fault minor fender benders.

volvo-v60-d4-luxury-2013-rear-quarter-lowThis technology will ultimate also improve our traffic flow because there’ll be less opportunity to rubberneck. At the moment, though, not every manufacturer has a system like City Safety which brakes automatically for you at speeds up to 50kph if it detects you’re about to trade paint with another vehicle, or worse, squish a pedestrian.

volvo-v60-d4-luxury-2013-front-interiorSafety features aside (because it’s kind of a given when you talk about Volvos), the V60 is a station wagon that sits between the S series sedans and the XC series SUVs. You can get into one for a shade under $67,000, and the top of the line is the $87,000 R-Design. Our test car is the diesel D4 which is $69,990, plus it has the most popular options package. This bumps the price up to $77,210 with heated front seats, bi-xenon active bending lights, 18-inch alloys, electric passenger seat, alarm, navigation and some trim upgrades.

The driving experience is smooth with a pleasant wave of 400Nm of torque that is good at highway speeds on overtaking duty, but a little sluggish off the line followed by a burst of torque steer. The 120kW engine gets you too 100kph in 9.4 seconds which is a little tardy and would be improved dramatically if it was more spritely from rest. The five-cylinder, two-litre diesel has a grunty tone when pressed. Fuel economy is 6l/100km combined and that’s OK for a car this size.

volvo-v60-d4-luxury-2013-rear-seatsThe V60 excels at touring. Put it on the smooth expanses of motorway (that are still, unfortunately fairly rare in New Zealand), and it will devour the miles while delivering entertainment from a number of sources including Bluetooth streaming from your phone. It’s no slouch on the backroads, either, but it’s definitely exudes more of a plushness than a swift sportiness. Around town it performs well once you learn the correct throttle control – the large amount of available torque can mean it gathers momentum quicker than you’d expect with small throttle movements. Continue reading “Volvo V60 D4 Luxury 2013 Review” »