May 30th, 2014 by Robert Barry
Many years ago, I used to give the Skoda management team a bit of grief about all of their press vehicles being black, which is one of the most difficult colours to photograph and challenging to keep clean and shiny .
Now we have a different team (yet still friendly and helpful) of people at the helm of Skoda NZ and the press cars of late have tended to be white ones. Continue reading “Skoda: 2014 Octavia RS TDI wagon review” »
March 5th, 2014 by Robert Barry
You could be forgiven for thinking that the new Barina RS is a track searing hot hatchback thanks to the current television ad that sees Greg Murphy revving the engine and screeching the tyres around the Highlands circuit in Cromwell.
Alas, do not be fooled by the power of the telly ad because the latest addition to the Barina hatch range is only a mild butter chicken rather than a scorching Vindaloo, its a warm hatch rather than a hot one, but nevertheless its still a very good steer that will curry favour with many.
By adding the 1.4-litre turbocharged engine from the Holden Cruze as well as tweaking the suspension package, upgrading the brake package to discs all-round and lowering the ride height, the Holden engineers, in conjunction with their US and Korean colleagues have created a sporty and responsive hatchback that is fun to drive in the city and beyond. Continue reading “Holden: Barina RS 2014 review” »
October 10th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Rotary fans worldwide took the news hard that Mazda was killing off its RX-8 without word of a successor – but now there is a small silver lining.
Mazda has just announced that it is releasing a final special edition of its RX-8 which could be the final rotary production cars ever built. Named the RX-8 Spirit R, this very collectable special edition will be limited to just 1,000 units, with sales in the Japanese domestic market only.
The Spirit R nameplate is familiar being also used for the final edition of the RX-7 and the RX-8 version will be sold in two variants – a six-speed manual version based on the RS model and the other with a six-speed auto based on the Type E model.
After it launches the Spirit R and the auto-only Type G will be the only RX-8 models on sale in Japan with production ending fully on June 12th, 2012.
Naturally, the Spirit R receives some special touches like an exclusive Recaro bucket seats and bronze 19-inch alloy wheels. Special equipment includes a sport suspension set-up, larger brakes with red calipers, new front headlights and Spirit R badges. Continue reading “Mazda releases end of line RX-8 Spirit R final edition” »
September 13th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Suzuki NZ has added a new highly-specified Swift to its model range – the Swift RS. Billed as a limited edition variant the RS receives extra luxury and equipment.
The RS version is based on the Swift five-door hatchback and is the first special edition since the arrival of the new generation series earlier this year. With its higher level of standard equipment, the RS is the most equipped Swift ever sold in New Zealand.
Extra features include a tilt and telescopic adjustable steering column, keyless locking and the push button start/stop function which is inherited from the Suzuki Kizashi sedan. There’s also a full climate control system with a digital readout replacing standard air conditioning on other Swifts, and the RS has Bluetooth hands-free mobile telephone connection. A six-speaker audio system includes a USB input for MP3 or iPod music player functions, and can be controlled by switches on the steering wheel.
Mechanically, the RS benefits from four wheel disc brakes, previously only available on the high performance Swift Sport model. The new 1.4-litre K14B four-cylinder engine introduced for the latest generation Swift is retained for the RS version. This powerplant produces 70 kW of power while averaging 5.5 litres/100 km in the combined fuel cycle, or 6.2 litres/100 km for the automatic. Continue reading “High-spec Suzuki Swift RS added to NZ range” »
April 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
The Ford Focus RS is a brutally uncompromising hot hatch that has unfortunately proved rare and illusive here in NZ. Sure there have been a few private imports but with Ford NZ’s decision not to sell the RS into our market we’ve missed out on another fast Ford.
That’s not the case over in Europe where the RS, now in its twilight years in current form, has proved popular for fans and tuners alike.
Horsepower merchants Anderson Germany is the latest tuner to go to work on the Focus RS and has built a machine to tempt those waiting anxiously for the next-generation Focus RS to be released. This reworked model is called the Ford Focus RS Black Racing Edition.
The Düsseldorf-based tuner takes a standard unit from the current generation Focus RS series and makes it look sinister and sexy. It comes in a matte black exterior finish with contrasting red highlights.
Modifications aren’t limited to the cosmetic and Anderson offers performance tuning on the RS, taking output up to a sketchy 309 kW, far higher than the standard 224 kW output on the turbocharged 2.5 liter 5-cylinder unit. That’s a fair whack of power going exclusively to the front treads. Continue reading “Ford Focus RS Black Racing Edition unleashed on Europe” »
October 21st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham
An exclusive limited-edtion, 620 horsepower German sports car sounds pretty damn attractive to most of us. So it didn’t come as a massive surprise that all 500 examples of the Porsche 911 GT2 RS have been sold. What is surprising is that it only took two months since the big nuts Porsche was first unveiled at the Moscow Auto Salon.
Why so popular? Well the GT2 RS isn’t just another 911 it’s Porsche’s highest performance, most powerful production car ever produced. The twin-turbocharged 3.6-litre flat-six powered 911 can run from 0-100 kph in a mere 3.5 seconds. It will keep going until it hits its ridiculous 330 kph top speed.
While it’s an amazing piece of German engineering the price tag is a equally amazing at $245,000 USD. But that hasn’t put off 500 eager buyers. Continue reading “Porsche 911 GT2 RS sells out in just two months” »
October 4th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham
The 2011 WRC is shaping up to be more interesting than it has been for many years with the adoption of the new Super 2000 rules for next year’s series. The latest machine built to the new specification is Fords Fiesta RS WRC which has been unveiled at the Paris Motor Show. It’s tiny, crazy fast, and a pure gravel-t0-tarmac rally machine.
Built around a 1.6-litre EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the Fiesta RS WRC likely achieves an output around 300kW from its small displacement, though Ford hasn’t announced the official power specs. The move to the smaller engine is driven by the WRC’s adoption of the Super 2000 rules for 2011, which mandates a maximum displacement of just 1.6 litres.
Designed by Ford of Europe with assistance from rally partner M-Sport, the Fiesta RS WRC is based on the Fiesta S2000 rally car that won the Monte Carlo Rally.
The go-hard Fiesta is preparing for its first shakedown run on gravel in Spain next week, though it has already conducted about 3,000 kms of testing with various engine set-ups. Ford WRC factory rivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen will be piloting the test vehicles. Continue reading “2011 Ford Fiesta RS WRC unleashed with 1.6-litre engine” »
July 28th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham
Hybrid vehicles are the way of the future it would seem and while the Toyota Prius is hardly an excitement machine, hybrid tech will shortly be in many performance cars. The latest vehicle to be apparently receiving electric power is the next-generation Ford Focus RS. It’s another sign of things to come, that one of Europe’s hotest hatches may come with a hybrid drive set-up similar to that of the Peugeot Hybrid 4.
Recent reports state that senior sources at Ford say that the automaker is in the early stages of developing a hybrid set up that would mate a 2.0 litre EcoBoost unit with an electric motor on the rear axle, turning the Focus RS into an all-wheel drive sport hatch.
The 2.0 litre turbo EcoBoost engine would spit out around 250 bhp for an ST variant (XR5 Turbo), while the RS version would feature the same amount of power for the engine, while the addition of the electric motor would provide for a significant amount of extra power and torque. Total output would probably top out at around 300 bhp, similar to the current RS variant.
Naturally the new set up would offer far better fuel-economy than the current Volvo-supplied 2.5 litre, 5-cylinder turbo seen in the current RS now, which Ford may no longer have access to since it sold Volvo Cars earlier this year.
Ford will likely provide more details on the next Focus RS when it debuts the Focus ST at the Paris auto show later this year.
Click here to read a Car and SUV review of the current model Focus XR5 Turbo.