Toyota: 2014 Corolla GX and ZR sedan review

July 22nd, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

Buying a Corolla is a bit like buying Cadbury’s chocolate: it’s not flash, but it’s dependable. And you know that it’s going to make you fat if use it too much. It achieves its purpose with a minimum of fuss and with the knowledge you paid a fair price.

While the GX is milk chocolate (a little plain, but fills the gap nevertheless), the ZR is a dark, minty block with a slightly silkier texture. It’s still not the kind of chilli and kaffir leaf-infused chocolate that you’d buy in an upmarket boutique, but it does come with a fancier wrapper and more cocoa solids.

Buying a car often comes down to taste: it’s a rocky road to try to please everyone. So if you’re going to remove the wrapper on one of these Corollas, which one is it going to be? Continue reading “Toyota: 2014 Corolla GX and ZR sedan review” »

FPV: 2014 FPV GT review

July 6th, 2014 by Robert Barry

DSC_0047Video killed the radio star, and the rise and rise of the SUV has unfortunately also killed off the demand for the large performance executive and family sedan.

Which is a great pity, because for fast point to point, comfortable motoring, a grand touring sports sedan will out perform most mass market SUV’s. Continue reading “FPV: 2014 FPV GT review” »

Holden: 2014 VF Commodore VF Evoke sedan review

June 24th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

holden-commodore-evoke-sedan-2014-frontThe power was out because we had a proper storm. Proper storms are always good for debris-strewn photos, and that’s what you’ve got: the brilliant red of the Evoke against the green and brown of a billion leaves and twiglets strewn over West Auckland’s usually grey tarmac. Continue reading “Holden: 2014 VF Commodore VF Evoke sedan review” »

Audi: 2014 A3 1.8T Sport sedan review

June 11th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

audi-s3-sedan-2014-frontYou’d think that getting out of a 221kW Audi S3 and straight into a 132kW A3 might be a bit of a let-down, but it actually wasn’t bad at all.

In comparison to the S3, the A3 gets much nicer throttle mapping for the downshifts and a whole extra gear ratio with 7 on tap from the S Tronic gearbox. The available power from the 1.8-litre turbo engine means 7.3 seconds to 100kph, which is quite respectable and very usable in day-to-day driving.

Continue reading “Audi: 2014 A3 1.8T Sport sedan review” »

Skoda: 2014 Superb Ambition Hatchback vs Elegance Wagon Review

May 8th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

skoda-superb-tdi-125-elegance-wagon-rear-seatsIf you live in America and you know a man aged between 20 and 40 who is 7 feet tall (2.13m) there’s a 17 percent chance that they play professional basketball in the NBA right now. That means 1 in 6 males 7 feet tall or over in that age group play professional basketball. Continue reading “Skoda: 2014 Superb Ambition Hatchback vs Elegance Wagon Review” »

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

Page 1 of 912345678»