Mercedes-Benz reveals hardcore 2012 ML63 AMG

November 15th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It was back in 1999, that Mercedes-Benz revealed its first AMG-worked ML SUV – the ML55 AMG. During the following 12 years the performance SUV has sold over 24,000 units worldwide. Now the German brand is ready for the third generation of the series that will be called the 2012 ML63 AMG and will be officially revealed at this week’s 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Powering the family-friendly beast is Mercedes’ 5.5-litre V8 biturbo engine that delivers 386kW of power and 700Nm of torque, representing an increase over the 375kW/630Nm output of its predecessor. If you need to do the school run even faster, there’s also an available AMG Performance Package boosts the V8 engine’s output to a crazed 410KW of power and 780Nm of torque.

With the “standard” package, acceleration from zero to 100 km/h takes just 4.7 seconds while top speed is quoted at 280 km/h. Estimated combined fuel is hardly frugal at 14.7l/100km.

Power is put to the tarmac through a permanent all-wheel drive system that operates at a ratio of 40:60 to the front and rear axle, and a standard AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS 7-speed automatic transmission featuring three driving modes – Controlled Efficiency (C) for improved fuel economy, Sport (S) and Manual (M). Continue reading “Mercedes-Benz reveals hardcore 2012 ML63 AMG” »

Nissan Murano facelifted for 2012 – on sale now

November 2nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Love it or hate it the Nissan Murano has become a permanent fixture in the medium-sized SUV market and has just been facelifted for the 2012 model year. Nissan has upgraded the Murano with new front styling, new design alloy wheels, and improvements in specification.

On sale now, the 2012 Murano features a new grille, front bumper and headlamp design. New, multi spoke 18 inch alloy wheels are introduced and new design rear taillights, new silver roof rail design and the addition of rear privacy glass. A large, electrically-operated dual-panel glass sunroof is now added, covering almost two-thirds of the roof panel.

Inside, there’s been revisions to the instrument panel and central display screen improving functionality and ease of use. The leather seats are now heated for driver and front passenger and electric adjustment for the steering column has been added.

The BOSE audio system in Murano is now offered with a 2GB music server and USB and iPod input via the Murano’s central display screen controls.

Carried over is the electrically operated tailgate, which can be opened and closed via dash button or the key. There’s also power flip-up rear seats which are lowered by a handle but they now return to their upright position at the push of a button, located in the luggage area or on the dashboard. Continue reading “Nissan Murano facelifted for 2012 – on sale now” »

Mini Roadster officially revealed

October 31st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mini is continuing to expand its model family. The latest addition to the range is the Mini Roadster, this convertible variant is the sixth model in the brand’s current line-up and the first open-top two-seater in its history.

The two-seater features a manually-opening soft-top roof and plenty of unique packaging to appeal to Mini fans. As you’d expect it offers the high-handling abilities expected of a Mini and broad scope for individualisation.

The three-box body structure has a stepped rear end and a sweeping roadster look thanks to heavily raked A-pillars and a waistline rising up slightly along the length of the body towards the flat rear end. The Roadster sits 20 millimetres lower than the standard Mini Convertible.

The Roadster pushing its handling credentials with a bespoke chassis set-up, low centre of gravity, torsionally rigid body and optimised aerodynamic properties. Electronic tech includes Electric Power Steering and DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) as standard, DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) with EDLC (Electronic Differential Lock Control) optional. There’s also roll-over bars in polished stainless steel and an active rear spoiler that extends automatically at 80 km/h. Continue reading “Mini Roadster officially revealed” »

Rumours of mysterious Audi TT-RS Plus continue

October 26th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Rumors of an Audi TT-RS Plus have been floating around for a while, but new details are beginning to emerge about the even more performance focused coupe.

According to recent reports, the car will debut sometime next year with an upgraded 2.5-litre engine that will produce 283 kW. Weight-saving measures will also include dropping 60kg by removing the rear seats .

Away from the reduced weight and added performance, this mystery machine may also receive unique alloy wheels and a fixed rear spoiler. Continue reading “Rumours of mysterious Audi TT-RS Plus continue” »

2012 Toyota Yaris launches into NZ market

October 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota has launched the all new Yaris hatchback into the NZ market, with reworked styling, improved performance and new equipment.

Toyota New Zealand’s Neeraj Lala said “This is an exciting time for Toyota – the launch of our best ever small car. Following on from the success of the current Yaris, and the Echo before it, we’re offering New Zealander’s the best combination of design and value in a city-sized package.”

“Small vehicles make up around 13 per cent of the New Zealand new vehicle market, attracting cost-conscious buyers and those moving away from larger vehicles. We’re confident that this new Yaris will appeal to a broader range of drivers with its blend of value for money features and Toyota’s innovative packaging.”

This new generation Yaris offers a more gender-neutral look in terms of styling. More efficient design sees Yaris gain interior space without sacrificing its compact exterior. Continue reading “2012 Toyota Yaris launches into NZ market” »

McLaren already testing next-generation F1 road car

October 19th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

With McLaren’s MP4-12C now on sale through the company’s growing global sales network its on to the next project for the brand. The next new car in development is the successor to the now legendary McLaren F1. If recent reports coming out of the UK prove true the first prototypes of this much anticipated machine are already being tested in various regions of Europe.

Nicknamed the Mega Mac, the new F1 is ambitiously being built to beat all other performance exotics that are available right now including the top dog Bugatti Veyron. Ferrari, Porche and Pagani aren’t running scared just yet but they are certainly on alert. To beat the pack McLaren is looking at a 5.0-litre V8 powertrain similar to the MP4-12C’s motor, it will be mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and produce a power output of around the 600kW mark.

With that sort of grunt expect the 0-100km/h sprint to be covered in around 2.9-seconds and a terrifying top speed. The Mega Mac chassis will be a carbon-fibre monocoque design with F1-style pushrod suspension and plenty of electronic aides to keep the beast on track. There will be a raft of high-tech equipment including a built-in video camera for recording high-speed shenanigans. Continue reading “McLaren already testing next-generation F1 road car” »

Audi A6 TDI 2012 Review

October 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

In the past decade Audi has become a car-manufacturing powerhouse with entries into almost every motoring category. But for all its new models one of its most important and defining vehicles remains the A6. The executive cruiser now enters its seventh-generation and with lightweight construction, sleeker styling and extensive mechanical upgrades, is ready to resume its long fought battle with BMW’s 5-Series. Does the 2012 Audi A6 have the dynamic ability and first-class luxury appointments to dominate its high-end division? Car and SUV buckled into the driver’s chair of the new A6 TDI Quattro to find the answers.

A glance across the new A6 reveals an understated and smooth aesthetic that’s acutely awareness of its own bloodlines despite being a clean-sheet design. Following on from the A8 flagship and the A7 four-door coupe the new A6 embraces Audi’s corporate design language. The bold Audi gloss black grille sits prominent at the front and is flanked by frowning headlights and recessed fog lamps. Broad shoulders define the sides with chrome trim drawing the eye to an elegantly curved roofline. The rear features a subtle boot spoiler, wide two-piece taillights and twin chrome exhaust tips signaling performance intent. The clean and mean look is finished off with 18-inch V-spoke alloy wheels. There are no radical risks in the A6 exterior design, just a continuation of the conservatively muscular styling that works well for Audi and its legions of brand fans. Continue reading “Audi A6 TDI 2012 Review” »

Ssangyong Korando SPR 2011 Review

October 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Things haven’t always gone to plan for the Ssangyong Motor Company. Even with a name that means double dragons in Korean, Ssangyong has struggled to generate any real firepower in the motoring world. Rioting, receivership and changing ownership have all held back Korea’s fourth largest carmaker, but now in the hands of Indian firm Mahindra things are on the up. Ssangyong appears more determined than ever to advance its status from a fringe player into a serious brand capable of stealing sales off more established Korean and Japanese competitors. It’s working too with Ssangyong reporting a 53% increase in global sales for the first half of 2011. An important instrument in this turn around has been the 2011 Korando small SUV, which has become a fixture on NZ streets. Car and SUV spent a week with the latest Korando to see exactly what this comeback kid is made of.

Ssangyong styling has at times been accused of being erratic with awkward proportions but the new Korando opts for a more conservative approach. This doesn’t mean its boring and being penned by car design legend Giorgetto Giugiaro there’s plenty to draw the eye. The Korando face is particularly purposeful with its low-placed mesh grille and large, wrap around headlights. There’s a character-lined bonnet and a raked back windscreen, which gives the Korando a sporty stance. Pushed out wheel arches and hardened black plastic cladding add familiar crossover touches along the flanks and at the rear, a subtle hatch spoiler and chrome trim feature. Continue reading “Ssangyong Korando SPR 2011 Review” »

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