Volkswagen Golf R 2010 Review

April 16th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

In 1976 Volkswagen practically invented the hot hatch with its first Golf GTi, but despite its peppy nature it wasn’t really enough. VW then reinvented the hot hatch as a V6 with the Golf VR6 and the following Golf R32 but that still wasn’t enough. Now, still hunting down hot hatch perfection, VW has returned to its four-cylinder roots with devastating results. What’s spawned from VW’s latest efforts is an evolutionary machine that can lay claim to being the most powerful and hardest accelerating Golf ever built. Car and SUV took a drive in the simply named Golf R to sample its distinctive formula of practicality and pure excitement.

Where the outgoing Golf R32 had a naturally aspirated V6 hiding under the bonnet the new Golf R comes packing a turbocharged four in what’s best described as a ‘more from less’ approach. The hard-tuned 2.0-litre engine thumps out 199kW of power a 15kW increase over the outgoing R32 and 350Nm of torque a 30Nm increase. Maximum boost runs at 17 psi and all available grunt comes on at 6000rpm.

The engine isn’t an improved version of the current Mk VI GTi’s unit but is based on the older Mk V GTi mill. The block has been reinforced and the cylinder head replaced, new pistons, conrods, injectors and a new turbo are all used. The results are impressive and the Golf R will sprint from standing to 100 kph in just 5.5 seconds and won’t give up till it reaches a top speed of 250 kph.

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Peugeot 4007 Luxury 2010 Review

April 9th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Taking Japanese reliability and dressing it up in the latest French fashions is more than just a novel idea, it’s the answer to a pressing need. While Peugeot have a solid line-up covering most vehicle segments, it has never, till now, produced a 4WD. With the steadily growing popularity of compact crossovers Peugeot has taken action by teaming up with both Citroen and its far-east connection Mitsubishi. The end result is three different vehicles coming out of the same Japanese factory. While the Citroen version hasn’t made it to NZ, the popular Mitsubishi Outlander provides the underpinnings for Peugeots own offering — the 4007. Stretching into the crossover segment is a gamble for Peugeot but by using Mitsubishi’s proven platform it might just pay off. Car and SUV got into the fresh-faced 4007 to find out more.

The 4007 is offered in NZ in three variants, a base model version with five seats and a manual transmission, and two 7-seat automatic vehicles. For our road test with the 4007 we high-rolled in the top spec ‘luxury’ model.

While the 4007 rolls on the Outlander platform and shares almost all its sheet metal, the ace in Peugeot’s sleeve lays under the bludging bonnet. Where Mitsubishi only offers two petrol engine options in the Outlander, a slick turbocharged diesel unit powers the 4007. With a 2.2-litre displacement and Bosch common-rail injection the motor produces 115kW of power and 380 Nm of torque. Thanks to the full compliment of torque being available from just 2000rpm the 4007 accelerates with good urgency for a crossover vehicle. It also remains smooth at cruising speed and returns an impressive 7.3l/100km fuel economy.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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