Kia Cerato Koup SX 2010 Review

April 1st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

‘Fortune favours the bold’ is how the old Latin proverb goes and Kia’s new Cerato Koup is attempting to prove a new relevance for the dated sentiment. The two-door coupe is a body shape that many carmakers have dabbled with in the past but in the current economic climate are weary of. Kia has recognised a gap and seen an opportunity to reinforce the message of its Soul model — that Kia now makes design-focused vehicles. The Koup represents Kia’s first foray into the two-door sports car market and while there is little doubt it’s a ballsy move, is it one that will see fortune follow? Car and SUV got the tyres spinning on the low-slung Koup to find out the bottom line.

Exterior styling is without doubt the Koup’s biggest strength and even the harshest badge snob will admit it’s a handsome machine. The Koup is lower, shorter and lighter than the four-door Cerato sedan on which it’s based and shares a single body panel — a scalloped bonnet. The ascending beltline, high rear deck and low roof give the Koup genuine presence and an athletic stance. The aggressive styling kicks off from the front with Kia’s corporate grille sitting above a gaping lower bumper inlet and fog lamps. Out back, flattened rear lights and a pronounced boot lip draw the eye, with a twin exhaust tip blowing out street cred. The sporty look is finished off with bespoke silver/black 17-inch alloys that highlight the black exterior trim. Overall, the Koup’s styling is boldly unique and works as a rolling billboard to inform the world just how far Kia has developed.

Continue reading “Kia Cerato Koup SX 2010 Review” »

Hyundai Santa Fe CRDi Elite 2010 Review

March 26th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Hyundai is currently completing a transformation from bit player in the NZ car market to unstoppable juggernaut. Key factors in the change have been raw enthusiasm and a workmanlike attitude. Just like any tradesman, Hyundai understands the importance of quality tools and its heavy hammer is the Santa Fe SUV. First launched back in 1999 the Santa Fe has helped smash up negative brand perception for Hyundai and has proved a solid revenue source selling over 2 million units worldwide. In 2009 the Santa Fe was NZ’s best selling SUV, knocking away stiff competition from the Toyota Rav4 and the Holden Captiva. Now, for 2010 the second-generation Santa Fe has been given a facelift, but will it keep breaking new ground? Car and SUV made use of a refreshed Santa Fe to get the answers.

Cosmetically, the Santa Fe was, and still is a smart looking SUV. The grille, both bumpers and light clusters have all been updated but the sheet metal remains the same. While the vehicle’s flanks are still well chiselled the updates have given the Santa Fe a smoother more rounded face. The chrome framed grill, and revised front bumper with fog lamps has helped refresh the exterior look. At the rear, new red and clear four-piece tail lamps look great as do the twin chrome tail pipes. Newly designed 18-inch wheels fill the guards and silver integrated roof rails add function to form. Overall, the changes are fairly subtle but have modernised the Santa Fe’s aesthetic and are bold enough to distinguish it from older versions. It’s not what you’d call a boxy SUV but it’s also not feminised in any way, Hyundai has found a good balance.

Continue reading “Hyundai Santa Fe CRDi Elite 2010 Review” »

Mitsubishi Triton GLS 2010 Review

March 26th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Talkback radio is usually the domain of the lonely and sometimes angry, but it is still a system with its own merits. While a radio audience is generally passive, talkback gives listeners the chance to not just stress an opinion but also actively change the landscape of the show. Radio may seem a far cry from the NZ utility vehicle market but it’s the talkback dialogue between Mitsubishi and its customers that has resulted in some vital changes to the facelifted Triton ute. To check the results of this mid-cycle refresh, long time listeners but first time drivers Car and SUV dialled up a new 2010 Triton GLS and took a long drive.

The biggest news for the updated Triton is lying under the bonnet where the previous 3.2-litre diesel engine has been replaced with a 2.5-litre unit for all the 4WD models. This may at first seem an odd response to customers wanting more grunt but the smaller diesel engine increases power 11% to 131kW and torque is up 17% to 400Nm in manual form. With the automatic transmission torque is rated at 356Nm. This increase is made possible by a fresh design to the engine’s internals and a hard-boosting variable geometry turbocharger.

Continue reading “Mitsubishi Triton GLS 2010 Review” »

Mitsubishi Outlander VR 2010 Review

March 17th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

For its first generation Mitsubishi’s compact/medium crossover was known as the Airtek, but that name didn’t stick and by its second generation was dropped. Its replacement was equally unique, part highlander, part outlaw, the ‘Outlander’ nameplate was introduced. Like the adventurous moniker would suggest the Outlander was capable of reaching higher ground regular cars couldn’t while still having enough pace to easily enable law-breaking speeds. Late last year the Outlander had a mid-cycle facelift and swaggered back into town with new styling, engine tweaks and a few new tricks. Car and SUV saddled up with the reworked Outlander to see what’s new and check it still had the goods to be NZ’s best selling medium SUVs.

While the upgrades are deeper than a new front end, that’s where the most noticeable change exists. The new ‘jet fighter’ front grille is robbed off the Lancer and although you couldn’t call it pretty, it gives the Outlander a purposeful, staunch presence. Other exterior updates include a new bonnet with character lines that lead into the grille, colour-coded door mirrors, side-sills and a new rear bumper. Our VR model test vehicle was finished off with silver integrated roof rails, front fog lamps and smart 18-inch alloys. Overall, the Outlander is a handsome SUV, it makes use a fairly standard boxy shape but the upgrades have helped release individuality from those confines.

Continue reading “Mitsubishi Outlander VR 2010 Review” »

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 2010 Review

March 12th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Like many off road vehicles Toyota’s Land Cruiser began life as a military developed machine and has a history that stretches all the way back to the Second World War. The Prado is the lighter sibling to the full-strength Land Cruiser and has a family tree which retreats only as far as the 1980s. But the Prado can mix it up off road and still fit easier into one place the big mud-munching Land Cruiser can’t — suburban garages. Now in its fourth generation the Prado is marching back into the NZ market with familiar styling and a few new tricks in its backpack. Car and SUV mounted up with a top-spec Prado VX Ltd to see what it’s made of.

In terms of exterior appearance the new Prado is a clear evolution of the outgoing model, dimensions have increased in length (80mm), width (10mm) while height has decreased (15mm). This gives the Prado a stocky, assured stance and a more streamlined body shape with under-body panels has reduced the aerodynamic figure to 0.35Cd. A new three-dimensional grille, teardrop headlights and a curvaceous bonnet shape make for a modern face. In profile the Prado has a high beltline and flared rear wheel arches giving a robust look. Integrated roof rails and privacy glass are handy additions and on the Ltd model 18-inch alloys and side steps are included. Out back, LED tail lamps and a high rear spoiler round off what’s a curvy yet tough aesthetic.

Continue reading “Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 2010 Review” »

Jeep Patriot 2010 Review

March 12th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Back in January of 1991 the World’s attention was directed at the Middle East where the American military had begun its operation Desert Storm against the forces of Saddam Hussein. One of the battles within the war raged between surface-to-air missiles, namely the unfavoured Iraqi ‘Scud’ rockets that were intercepted and destroyed mid-air by the American’s elegantly named ‘Patriot’. A fascinating skirmish ensued with every sinister Scud missile brought down by a Patriot missile before it could reach its desired target. Now, the true success of the Patriot missiles during Desert Storm is disputed but back in 1991 it was a work of pure public relations genius.

The Patriot moniker lay dormant for many years until Chrysler’s Jeep marque brought it back in 2007 for its new budget-priced crossover SUV. For 2010 the Patriot has been given a thorough facelift and is ready to return to battle in this competitive market segment. But will this Patriot have the firepower to seek-and-destroy its rivals? Car and SUV went on a reconnaissance mission to find out more?

Continue reading “Jeep Patriot 2010 Review” »

Kia Sorento R Ltd 2010 Review

March 5th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Kia is currently shifting from a bit player to a serious force in the NZ car market with its keenly priced vehicles and a rapidly modernising range. Where Kia got one of its first big breaks was with the Sorento medium-sized SUV. Released in 2002 the first-generation Sorento helped put Kia on the map and went on to sell more than 900,000 units globally.  For 2010 Kia has released the new Sorento R and it comes carrying high hopes that it can again fight its way to contention in a very competitive segment. The Ford Territory, Nissan X-Trail, Holden Captiva and close relative Hyundai Santa Fe are all pushing their case. To stand out the Sorento will need sharp looks, strong mechanicals and to offer good value. Car and SUV spent a week with the new Kia Sorento R to find out if it delivers.

Continue reading “Kia Sorento R Ltd 2010 Review” »

Porsche Panamera S 2010 Review

March 5th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Porsche makes great sports cars and that’s a fact. It’s why the company has experienced longevity and why the 911 is the world’s most recognisable ride. But Porsche knew it had more to offer the automotive world and developed the Cayenne SUV. The Cayenne has proved a sales success for the German firm but it’s still not enough. Now Porsche is filling out its range with an ambitious entry into the luxury sedan segment with the new Panamera. Rather than making a confined four-door coupe the Panamera is designed to be a true ‘gran turismo’ automobile, uncompromising in its cabin space and road trip practicality while still offering traditional Porsche driving characteristics. It sounds great on paper but has this demanding ideal been achieved? Car and SUV slid into the Panamera’s leather driver’s seat to seek out the answers.

For all the technology and power a modern Porsche has on offer it’s the styling that is always called into question before a key is turned or a spec sheet browsed. From when the first concept sketches were revealed critics have been shouting ‘ugly’ at Porsche’s first four-door sedan but in the flesh it’s not so simple. What’s noticed first is the car’s dominant size and presence; it’s a big machine that’s 1931mm wide, just 1418mm in height but almost 5 meters in length. The Panamera has typically elegant Porsche styling cues at the front and rear particularly around the light clusters and bumpers. However, view the vehicle in profile and elegance turns to awkwardness. While the front end is low the rear is high with a fastback look that is muscular but ultimately unbalances the Panamera. An upswept window-line and thick rear pillars help ease the odd overall shape but it’s the rear styling that will polarize opinion. Exterior quality is excellent with gleaming paintwork, tight shut-lines and 5-spoke 19-inch rims finishing the look. Love it or hate it, the Panamera is a true head-turner that offers the eye both familiarity and novelty the same glance.

Continue reading “Porsche Panamera S 2010 Review” »