Holden Malibu CDX 2014 second review

April 9th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

holden-malibu-cdx-2014-front-quarter

Our previous Malibu CDX arrived at Car and SUV test headquarters last August. Eight months on we’re revisiting it to see if we’re still as impressed.

holden-malibu-cdx-2014-sideThe Malibu is a large car masquerading as a medium-sized car in that it’s not as big as a Commodore therefore Holden doesn’t call it a large car. But it is roomy and comfortable enough for five adults. Continue reading “Holden Malibu CDX 2014 second 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” »

Honda Accord V6NT 2013 Review

November 9th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

The Accord V6 takes the NT and makes it better by putting a 206kW, six-cylinder motor under the bonnet. Now it’s got some overtaking credentials and doesn’t have the thin, strained engine sound that the NT has when you push it. In fact, it’s a pleasant, muffled V6 roar that’s accompanied by smooth, but not raging, acceleration.

honda-accord-v6-2013-rear-quarterThe 3.5-litre i-VTEC engine is hardly strained, and the 339Nm of torque is delivered in a progressive manner through a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine has VCM (Variable Cylinder Management) which shuts down cylinders that aren’t needed when you only require low power, thus reducing fuel consumption. Consequently the combined urban/extra urban fuel consumption is quoted at 9.2l/100km and that’s not far off what we achieved.

honda-accord-v6-2013-front-interiorWhile the NT gets a 5-speed ‘box, the V6’s six-speed is extremely smooth and well-matched to the engine. It learns your driving style so if you are aggressive with the throttle it will give you the lower gears earlier than if you’re just cruising.

Other than the engine and gearbox there’s very little that’s different in the V6, except that the passenger seat is now 8-way electronically adjustable as opposed to 4-way, you get a couple of chrome finishers on the exhaust at the back of the car as opposed to just one, and it’s a little heavier at 1667kg vs. 1572kg.

So let’s recap on the main points (and cover off some different information, so it’s a good idea to also read this review of the four-cylinder NT which will open in a new tab).

The three main safety features are:

  • Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) which monitors what’s ahead and will brake for you if it thinks you’re about to have an accident
  • Adaptive Cruise Control, which uses the same system as the CMBS to detect if you are approaching a slower vehicle ahead of you when using cruise control. If so, it will slow the car down to match their speed, keeping a safe distance, then can resume at the predefined speed once it’s out of the way. This is particularly useful in the rush hour crawl.
  • Lane Keep Assist System which uses a camera (LaneWatch Camera) to monitor the lanes and will provide gentle steering input back into the centre of the lane if it detects you are wandering out of the lane. This really is the first step towards having a driverless car because the system is good enough to keep you in a motorway lane for quite long distances with no steering input whatsoever, as long as the turns aren’t too sharp or the lines aren’t clear.

There are a number of other features that help with safety, too:

  • Active cornering lights – when you turn, additional bulbs illuminate in the direction you are turning. This makes it much easier to turn into darker driveways or parking spots.
  • Driver and passenger front i-SRS airbags, side airbags in the front seats with OPDS (Occupant Position Detection System) on the passenger seat, and full length side-curtain airbags
  • The full complement of Honda’s Vehicle Stability Assist (Electronic Stability Control plus Traction Control), ABS, Emergency Stop Signal (hazard light activation), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Emergency Brake Assist
  • Trailer Stability Assist
  • Tyre Deflation Warning System
  • Wing mirror-mount camera for blind spot monitoring. This is not as much use as you might think, and is bound to cost a lot if you break it.

honda-accord-v6-2013-sideAt the risk of this turning into some kind of features list, which you can get on Honda’s website, I’d better tell you how it drives. It’s smooth. And quiet. At any speed there’s really quite minimal road noise from the 235-width tyres, and even though they’re wrapped around 18-inch wheels there seems to be a good balance between it looking sharp, but not being bumpy.

honda-accord-v6-2013-screens

In the cabin the entertainment and vehicle parameters are centred around two screens, one of which is a touchscreen, and various functions can be controlled from it, such as the audio on your phone (if connected via USB or Bluetooth). The larger screen is used to display the reversing camera image which has three viewing modes, and the satellite navigation which, now I’ve got used to using Google Maps on my iPhone, seems very clunky (like most cars’ in-built sat nav systems). There’s a kind of joystick/jog wheel to control functions on this.

honda-accord-v6-2013-rear-seatsDriver and passenger comfort is excellent. There is plenty of legroom in the back, and in the front, both seats are heated and have 8-way adjustment. Instruments are easy to read and well laid out, and there are numerous cubbyholes for storage.

The design of the Honda is very ‘executive’, and the white pearl paint of our test car attracted some positive comments from passengers. From the side the look is very sleek with two strong forward-sloping lines forming a visual channel along the door.

Is there anything wrong with the Accord? Only really the ridiculous wing mirror camera. It’s not as useful as conventional blind spot monitoring system which would show an orange light in the wing mirror if a vehicle is in your blind spot. As soon as you indicate left the image takes over the large screen and it’s all just a bit distracting.

Other than that, though, it’s very difficult to fault. You get a three-year unlimited kilometre warranty so that’s going to suit those that like to rack up the travel. The design is inoffensive and well-proportioned, and the performance is pleasing.

Price: $60,000

Pros

  • Executive looks
  • Comfortable
  • Lots of room
  • Plenty of performance

Cons

  • Wing mirror camera will be expensive to replace, and doesn’t work as well as standard blind spot monitoring

Main specifications and features

  • Engine Type: 3.5 litre, 24 valve, SOHC, i-VTEC
  • Maximum Power (kW @ rpm): 206kW @ 6,200rpm
  • Maximum Torque (Nm @ rpm): 339Nm @ 4,900rpm
  • VCM (Variable Cylinder Management) for optimising power and efficiency
  • ACM (Active Control Engine Mounts) for smooth operation under VCM
  • Compression Ratio: 10.5
  • Bore x Stroke (mm): 89 x 93
  • 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Honda Genuine Navigation System with USB audio integration
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
  • Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS)
  • Collision Mitigation Brake System (CMBS)
  • G-CON (G-Force Control) Collision Compatibility body design
  • Seatbelts: 3-point ELR seatbelts (front and rear). E-pretensioners and height adjustable anchor points for front seatbelts
  • Smart Entry with push-button start
  • Combined – Australian Design Rules (ADR) L/100kms : 9.2
  • Urban – Australian Design Rules (ADR) L/100kms : 13.9
  • Extra Urban – Australian Design Rules (ADR) L/100kms : 6.4
  • Combined – Australian Design Rules (ADR) CO2 (g/km): 217
  • Weight (kg): 1667
  • Max Weight (kg): 2130
  • Boot capacity seats up (litres, VDA method): 457
  • Wheels: 18″ x 8″ Pewter Grey alloy wheels with 235/45 R18 98W tyres.
  • Twin exhaust pipes with chrome finish
  • Active cornering lights (ACL)
  • 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat with Memory and lumbar support
  • 8-way power adjustable front passenger seat
  • Heated front seats with two heat settings
  • Cargo luggage floor hooks: 4
  • Leather upholstery
  • Independent driver and passenger climate control air conditioning with i-Dual zone
  • Electric glass sunroof with tilt/slide function and integrated sliding shade, with onetouch open/close function and anti-trap
  • Auto dimming rear view mirror

 

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

Holden Commodore SS 2013 Review

November 6th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

Three friends and I headed to Hamilton and one of our road trip topics was riddles. You can cover some distance figuring out some serious conundrums and it’s better than playing I spy.

holden-commodore-ss-2013-rear-quarterThe situation the Commodore SS finds itself in is a conundrum, too. To all intents and purposes it’s a dinosaur; a heavy, front-engined, rear-wheel-drive V8 that doesn’t pretend that it will go off-road.

holden-commodore-ss-2013-bootTaking a look at the supposedly more highly evolved competition you see entire genera of vehicles like compact SUVs and crossovers – they’re new and trendy. They’re ‘evolved’. We appear to have moved on from the 1980s and people don’t want big four-door sedans.

People are wrong. The Commodore is every bit as safe as an SUV with its 5-star ANCAP crash rating, it handles better due to its lower centre of gravity, for the performance it has comparable fuel economy with SUVs of similar acceleration, and at $61,490 you can’t get a ‘performance’ SUV. It’s not going to fit as much luggage, but it does come with a large boot that’s enough for four people’s gear (495 litres).

holden-commodore-ss-2013-reversing-cameraThe Holden will park itself in parallel or right angle parks using Automatic Park Assist. You just need to control the throttle, brake and transmission. If you’re reversing out of a right angle park, the Reverse Traffic Alert warns you if a vehicle is approaching in your blind spots. And speaking of blind spots, when you are driving along, the Commodore constantly scans them and warns you using an orange light in each wing mirror if another vehicle might be in a place where you can’t easily see it. Continue reading “Holden Commodore SS 2013 Review” »

Holden Commodore SV6 2013 Review

September 27th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

When there are 120kph winds forecast and you need to get across a mountain range, what car will you turn to? You definitely wouldn’t want to be driving one of those ‘popular’ SUVs because you’d be knocked around like Mohammed Ali was using you for sparring practice.

holden-commodore-sv6-2013-rear-quarterYou also don’t want something small and light. No, you want something powerful, sleek and solid, like a BMW M6 or Audi R8. Or, if you only have $55,000 to spare rather than $250,000, this Holden Commodore SV6 will do quite nicely, too.

holden-commodore-sv6-2013-sideOn that night I traversed the Kaweka Range from Taupo to Napier, the trees were bending like peasants would bow to an Emperor, and there was already significant foliage littering the road. Heavy rain was forecast and I’d brought the journey forward to avoid the likelihood of a slip. The big Commodore took a beating but rarely missed a beat. Sometimes the gusts were strong enough to push it a third of the way across the lane but, in general, it held onto the road admirably.

holden-commodore-sv6-2013-front-interiorIn fact, there was more grip than I expected, even for a heavy car in the wet. When I applied too much power, the traction control reined the back end in. With the limited slip differential, grip out of all types of corners was fantastic. Add to the LSD electronic stability control (ESC), anti-lock brakes (ABS), and sports suspension and it creates a formidable handling package.

Other electronics include trailer sway control, and hill hold control. There was more grip from the 245/45R18 tyres than you’d need to explore under most circumstances Continue reading “Holden Commodore SV6 2013 Review” »

Holden Malibu CDX 2013 Review

August 23rd, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

Pleasantly surprised is what I was when I finally got in the Malibu. I had just been too busy to refresh myself with what the Malibu is all about and in my mind I was thinking is was (but hoping it wouldn’t be) a direct replacement for the decidedly average Epica. The Epica was quite a dreary car that we tested back in 2008 and the Malibu is anything but.

holden-malibu-cdx-2013-rqTaking a walk around the outside, there are some long lines that make this car look sleek. A rebadged Chevrolet Malibu, Holden bills it as a mid-sized car, but it gives the impression of being a large car. It’s also got that slight nose forward stance that delivers a bit of a sporty aura, and you can add those square afterburner taillights (á la Camaro) in to the design mix and you’ve got a rear end that’s visually distinct. There’s even a hint of BMW at the rear if you look from the side.

holden-malibu-cdx-2013-dashboardOn the inside, the 7-inch MyLink touchscreen dominates the dashboard. The MyLink system comes with Bluetooth connectivity and built-in app technology – think streaming radio, for example – and the screen doubles as the display for the reversing camera and general vehicle controls. The screen itself conceals a convenient cubby hole for a bit of extra dashboard storage.

Storage in the boot is 545l. The boot is long and not that deep, and perhaps slightly compromised by the 73-litre fuel tank (usually you’d get 60-65 litres in a mid-sized car). The long boot eats into the rear legroom. Rear legroom is not cramped, but it’s not as good as, say, a Honda Accord.

Continue reading “Holden Malibu CDX 2013 Review” »

Kia Cerato SX GDi Sedan 2013 – Review

July 20th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

Kia’s website instructed me to expect the unexpected regarding the Cerato, and I certainly didn’t expect the driver’s seat to be both heated and cooled in a car that costs a paltry $38,490. The passenger’s is only heated, so you will be able to gloat on a hot summer’s day as your unclad legs will not stick to the leather seat (which is also 10-way adjustable with two seat memories).

kia-cerato-sx-gdi-sedan-2013-rqFor your money you get a two-litre sedan packing a 129kW, 209Nm CVVT petrol engine with a theoretical fuel economy of 7.4l/100km. In reality Continue reading “Kia Cerato SX GDi Sedan 2013 – Review” »

Mazda Mazda6 LTD Sedan 2013 Review

May 28th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

If we’re talking movies, the last one in the trilogy is usually the worst. Most often it’s the first, and sometimes it’s the second (like The Empire Strikes Back and Aliens). This Mazda6 LTD sedan is the third in the trilogy of test cars Mazda NZ bestowed on us, but it’s no Return of the Jedi.

mazda6-ltd-sedan-rqWe started with the base model GLX, had a small intermission for an ice cream before getting the better-endowed GSX (both as station wagons), and now the Continue reading “Mazda Mazda6 LTD Sedan 2013 Review” »

Page 1 of 812345678