August 15th, 2011 by Car and SUV
The 2011 BMW 1-Series M Coupe is certainly special, a one-off offering from the M-division that has raised suspicion from purists and excitement from badge fans. But what exactly makes it so unique? Is it because by being based on BMW’s entry level 1-Series a new M-car is more affordable than ever before? Or is it because of the 1M’s turbocharged engine and M3-borrowed running gear? Or maybe because it will be built for just one model year with only 14 units making their way to NZ? Or does it just go totally hard? Car and SUV had a chance to pilot the new 1-Series M on a rapid-paced voyage of discovery for the answers.
It hasn’t been an easy birth for the 1M, some have labeled it a parts-bin car because of its extensively shared components with others saying it’s cheapening the M range with its budget 1 Series donor body. But neither of these accusations is accurate. True the 1M is the new lightweight of the M Division stable but it’s quick, feisty and can throw a heavy punch when provoked. Read the rest of this entry »
August 8th, 2011 by Car and SUV
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. Read the rest of this entry »
August 5th, 2011 by Car and SUV
In the sensible world of mid-size automobiles Volkswagen’s Passat has always been a quiet achiever. A competent journeyman that possesses all round ability but isn’t one to snatch at the limelight. The Passat has maintained this image for 38 years and seven generations. It’s proved a successful tactic too, with more than 15 million Passats being sold globally, making it the 11th biggest selling nameplate in history. Not bad for the quiet kid, but it might not be enough anymore. The Passat is beginning to exhibit some more extroverted tendencies. First there was the go-hard Passat R36 model released in 2008 and then the Passat CC (Compact Coupe) gave the model a sleeker profile. Now for 2011 the Passat wagon/sedan has been reworked for its seventh generation with sharp new sheet metal, tweaked engines and more equipment. So will this latest Passat break the well-formed mold, or play to traditional strengths? Car and SUV took a week long test drive in a Passat TDI Wagon to find out more.
The most obvious visual change to the new Passat is the inclusion of VW’s latest corporate face. The chrome-edged grille is broad and blends into wrapped-back headlights to create a wider, lower look. The chrome work is repeated around the window line and under the front fog lamps and lower air dam. All the panels have been replaced in the new Passat and the result is a more angular and purposeful machine. The short front, creased flanks and higher rear end give the Passat an athletic stance. Detailing like a subtle rear spoiler, integrated roof rails and twin exhaust tips finish the modernised look nicely. The standard wheel fitment on our tested 4Motion Comfortline model are 17-inch alloys with 18-inch designs an available option. Read the rest of this entry »
July 29th, 2011 by Car and SUV
For most kiwis looking to buy a comfortable and practical family wagon the name Skoda doesn’t immediately spring to mind. But why not? Is it because buyers are still stuck in the eighties when Skoda wore the brunt of naff jokes about quality? Or perhaps because folks know Skoda is European and worry about durability and value for money? Whatever the reason, for many wagon buyers the Skoda Superb isn’t even on their radar. But it damn well should be. Skoda’s med/large size wagon has many of its competitors beat in some key areas and build quality is certainly one of them. With a frugal diesel engine and a four-wheel-drive system the Superb can travel to remote locations and it won’t cost a lot to get there. So does this fringe player deserve a new place as a major force in the wagon market? Car and SUV thinks so, and after spending a week with the newest addition to the Superb range – the 4×4 Combi, we’re ready to tell you why.
It may not be the sexiest wagon to ever pick up the groceries, but the Superb has everyman elegance and a sleek low look despite its generous proportions. It’s nicely balanced for a wagon without too much rear overhang and a tightly tapered hatch that gives few hints to the expansive cargo space within. It has a neutral face with chrome trim surrounding the corporate grille and acting as teardrops under its wrap around headlights. Bright fog lamps flank a wide lower air intake and a scalloped bonnet line leads into the raked back windscreen. Read the rest of this entry »
July 22nd, 2011 by Car and SUV
In the tough economic climate of 2011 carmakers need a full and strong repertoire of models to succeed. Holden knows this fact and has spent the last five years establishing itself as a brand with more to offer than just its Commodore flagship. The Captiva crossover has been key in helping Holden broaden its appeal since its debut in 2006. For 2011, it’s been updated with an extensive facelift and a new engine range, but will these changes tempt buyers away from competition like the Toyota Highlander and the Ford Territory? Recently, Car and SUV was surprised by the improvements and advancements Holden has made to its Series II Cruze small sedan, and was keen to see if it could repeat that success with the Captiva. After a week driving the new 2011 Captiva 7 LX we found the answers.
The 2011 Captiva is again built in two models (five-seat and seven-seat), with the larger Captiva 7 available in three trim levels – SX, CX and LX. Our test subject was the top dog of the pack, a Captiva 7 in highest-spec LX grade.
Visually the new Captiva has been worked over with some major cosmetic changes, particularly at the front. The LX model has a modern and aggressive appeal lead out by a new front grille, projector-style headlamps, wide blackened-out lower air dam and a more sculptured bonnet. The rear end changes are subtler and include new clear taillights and chrome trim with a low silver diffuser and twin tail pipes adding a sporty touch. Completing the top-spec look on the LX are chunky 5-spoke 19-inch alloys, plenty of chrome work and recessed front fog lamps. Overall, the styling updates are very effective in giving the Captiva a purposeful, contemporary look and offering buyers visual reasons to opt for the 2011 model. Read the rest of this entry »
July 22nd, 2011 by Car and SUV
Kia’s all new 2011 Picanto was launched at a press event in Auckland yesterday and Car and SUV was given a first drive in this much-improved micro machine.
With a tagline of “Clever Around Town” the new Kia Picanto is designed for city/suburban use and comes with eco credentials, more standard equipment and sharper driving dynamics.
The Picanto’s price tag is also very tempting with the base model available from $18,590. So what do you get for the money?
The Picanto is being sold in NZ in two trim specifications LX and the higher grade EX. The entry model is the LX with a manual transmission, this features a clever ISG (Idle Stop & Go) technology which switches off the engine when idling and instantly re-starts as the clutch is depressed. It’s an impressive feature to offer in a sub $20k vehicle and while it takes some getting used to, it functions well. With this tech and a small 1.2-litre petrol engine the manual Picanto returns a thrifty fuel economy figure of 4.3L/100km. This makes it the most economical petrol dedicated car in the NZ market – so running costs are extremely low. The automatic LX and EX model Picantos return a fuel economy of 5.3l/100km and 5.6l/100km respectively. Read the rest of this entry »
July 15th, 2011 by Car and SUV
Living with a small car isn’t the same challenge it once was. Small hatchbacks now make better use of their space, have livelier drivetrains and are much more assured on road. While traditional strengths like fuel economy and value for money, remain. With high fuel prices and more congestion on NZ roads the relevance of sub compact vehicles is greater than ever and competition among carmakers is fierce. Hyundai, while once known for producing no frills product, has undergone a transition into a maker of good quality vehicles at an attractive price. Will the new entry-point i20 small hatch be able to continue Hyundai’s burgeoning good reputation? Car and SUV thought so when driving the i20 at its launch, but has just spent a week living with the small hatch to make sure.
On sale at $25,990 for the manual and $26,990 for the automatic, the i20 is priced at a premium over the Suzuki Swift. This lands it squarely in Ford Fiesta, Honda Jazz territory and that’s a tough place to be. To arm itself, the i20’s focus is on being a solid all rounder and boasting key attributes ‘distilled’ down from Hyundai’s larger cars. Read the rest of this entry »
July 8th, 2011 by Car and SUV
Back in 1959 when the first batch of Minis rolled off the production line few assumptions followed the unique vehicle. Back then it would have been slightly fanciful to assume that over fifty years later this diminutive model would be still going strong. But to think that in 2011 there would be a diesel-powered Mini that needs less than four litres of fuel to cover 100km, well that would have seemed unbelievable. Mini’s latest Cooper D can do exactly that, but achieving an exceptionally low fuel economy figure isn’t always enough. Present day buyers want fuel frugality as well as more traditional desires like comfort, style and dynamic ability. Can the updated Mini Diesel deliver in full? Car and SUV took a spin in the 2011 Cooper D to see if the future has arrived.
Cosmetically the Mini hatch shape hasn’t been severely restyled since BMW first created the ‘new’ Mini back in 2001. There have been a number of modest tweaks and the 2011 facelift continues that tradition with some subtle changes inside and out. The front end is modernised with a new bumper arrangement that has a broad lower air intake and recessed fog lamps. Use of chrome trim on the air intake adds visual width and further chrome work on the grille and surrounding the headlights dresses it up nicely. At the back there’s new LED taillights and a replacement rear bumper. Read the rest of this entry »