Toyota reveals first ‘kei’ car for Japanese market

September 27th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota will make its first entry into Japan’s popular minicar or “kei” car segment with its new Pixi Space. The diminutive vehicle has been supplied Toyota’s Daihatsu subsidiary under an OEM agreement reached last year.

The Pixi Space will be offered in two trim levels, base model “L” and higher-spec “X” trims, and a sportier variants named the “Custom X”, “Custom G” and “Custom RS”.

The Pixi Space is powered by a 660cc petrol engine which adheres to Japan’s kei car regulations. The Custom RS sports model is offered with a 660cc turbocharged engine. All models use a CVT transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive.

Until now, Toyota was the only large domestic carmaker in the Japanese market to not have a kei car in its ranks. This had previously been left up to Daihatsu.

Under Japanese regulations, to belong in the “kei” car segment, a vehicle be must be powered by an engine with a displacement of less than 660cc and measure up to 3.4 meters long, 1.48 meters wide and 2 meters tall.

The advantages of owning a Kei car include lower taxes and insurance costs and also parking benefits.

2012 Ford Focus – NZ pricing announced

September 22nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Ford NZ has just released the recommended retail pricing for the all-new 2012 Focus. The first variants of the all-new Ford Focus arrive at dealers in late October the Focus wagon arrives in March 2012 and the Focus ST hot hatch is due in the second half of 2012.

The new Focus is a key model in the Ford range and has been expanded to include a new high-series Titanium variant, offering a more luxury-focused trim level.

“The all-new Focus raises the bar for expressive design, affordable innovation, superior quality, responsive performance and exceptional fuel economy,” said Chris Masterson, Marketing Manager, Ford New Zealand.

New Zealand Focus line up and RRPs are as follows (all models are fitted with a Powershift six-speed auto transmission): Continue reading “2012 Ford Focus – NZ pricing announced” »

Ford drops details and photos of Falcon FG MkII

September 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Ford has revealed the first photos and details of its upcoming FG Falcon MkII range this week ahead of it reaching NZ showrooms late this year.

The updated Falcon brings new technologies, an enhanced safety package, new exterior design appointments  and the first global application of EcoBoost engine technology in a rear-wheel drive vehicle. It also heralds in the debut of Ford’s global 2.0-litre four-cylinder Ecoboost petrol engine which will be offered in the FG Falcon from next year.

The MkII Falcon will showcase some of Ford’s latest tech like a new 8.0-inch colour touch screen and integrated audio, phone and navigation functions and a more comprehensive occupant protection package.

“The improvements made to the award-winning Falcon range with the introduction of FG Falcon MkII have made a great car even better,” Ford New Zealand Marketing Manager, Chris Masterson said. “FG Falcon MkII builds on the success of the FG Falcon program, as well as the recently released new Territory range, by offering New Zealanders more equipment and the latest technology innovations, while continuing to deliver outstanding performance, fuel efficiency, refinement and safety.” Continue reading “Ford drops details and photos of Falcon FG MkII” »

Lotus pulls covers off 2012 Exige S at Frankfurt show

September 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

British carmaker Lotus has dropped the covers on its heavily facelifted 2012 Lotus Exige S and Exige R-GT at this week’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

The reworked 2012 Lotus Exige S is powered by a 3.5 litre supercharged V6 engine that produces 257 kW (345 hp). It’s a huge amount of power for a car that weighs just 1080kg, so it’s power-to-weight ratio is very impressive.

In terms of styling the Exige facelift has a new one piece bumper/bonnet clip along with new headlights. The rear also receives treatment with an integrated boot lid spoiler, large bolt-on wing and lower diffuser.

The 2012 Lotus Exige S will go on sale in Europe with a choice of two options packages – Premium and Premium Sport – and three drive modes: Touring, Sport and DPM off. If you’re hell-bent on taking your Lotus to the track then a fourth drive mode, Race, can be bought as part of the Race Pack option. Continue reading “Lotus pulls covers off 2012 Exige S at Frankfurt show” »

Kia unveils V6-powered GT Concept Car

September 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Kia has officially unveiled its rear-wheel-drive concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It’s a striking machine with some styling cues taken from the muscle car era of the 1960s and 1970s.

The Kia GT is another example of the Korean brand’s new design-led direction and hints at its next generation of cars. The our-door sports sedan draws inspiration from the Kia Kee concept car, first shown at the same event in 2007.

“At the onset of this project,” says Gregory Guillaume, Kia’s European Design Chief, “the design team was inspired by the spirit of iconic 1970s GT cars: sumptuous and elegant vehicles capable of whisking passengers from Paris to the South of France in effortless style and at high speed.  We wanted to create something similarly graceful, athletic and confident, but not aggressive or overbearing.”

The 4.690 mm long and 1.890 mm wide concept car has a front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout and is given different proportions compared to a front-wheel drive car. Continue reading “Kia unveils V6-powered GT Concept Car” »

More details released on Subaru’s BRZ sports car

September 15th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

More details of Subaru’s rear-wheel drive BRZ sports car have emerged at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

The BRZ Prologue concept has been designed to show the drivetrain beneath a transparent body. The unorthodox approach shows a fully new FA Boxer engine, exclusively designed for the car.

Subaru claims the 2.0 litre alloy engine’s light-weight, compact size and low centre of gravity produces strong handling stability and driving excitement. The engine sits 120 mm lower and is positioned 240 mm closer to the centre of the chassis than existing Subaru models.

The BRZ Prologue features MacPherson strut front suspension and double wishbones at the rear, and will rely on driving dynamics rather than power output to be successful. Continue reading “More details released on Subaru’s BRZ sports car” »

Facelifted 2012 Toyota Hilux on sale in NZ this month

September 13th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota NZ has revealed initial information of the facelifted 2012 Hilux which will be available in Toyota showrooms later this month.

Toyota NZ General Manager of Sales and Operations, Steve Prangnell said “Hilux has built its reputation around being unbreakable. We’re taking the tough and reliable truck that so many New Zealanders love and making it even better with a fresh line-up, improved safety and bold new looks. These latest changes will substantially improve the value of Hilux for our customers and further strengthen Hilux’s position as New Zealand’s favourite truck.”

A new model has been added to the Hilux range – a standard grade 4WD extra cab ute with a 3.0 litre turbo diesel engine and a five-speed manual transmission.

Cosmetic changes include a completely new Landcruiser-inspired front end, this means new guards, headlights, bumper, bonnet and grille. At the rear, there’s new tailights and a replaced rear bumper. There’s also new mirrors and alloy wheel designs. Continue reading “Facelifted 2012 Toyota Hilux on sale in NZ this month” »

2012 Ford Focus ST hot hatch unveiled in production form

September 13th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Fans of Ford’s performance offerings have something to celebrate this week with the official reveal of the new Focus ST. Known in NZ as the Focus XR5 Turbo, the new ST will debut in production guise at this week’s 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show and in the lead up, details and images have reached the web.

While the production hot hatch isn’t a significant departure from its concept predecessor, what’s really interesting is the inclusion of a station wagon body in the Focus ST range. Sadly, this performance wagon won’t reach as many global markets as the hatch and will likely be a European only offering, so don’t expect to see any down here in NZ.

Both the hatch and wagon feature the same 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder under the bonnet with a power output of 186kW and a healthy 360Nm of max torque. The high-tech engine comes mated to a 6-speed manual that pushes grunt to the front wheels only. That’s a lot of power for the front treads to handle so Ford has worked hard to avoid torque-steer issues with its electronic power assisted steering and torque steer compensation system. Both systems work together to minimize the wheel-tugging effects often associated with high power front-wheel drivers. Continue reading “2012 Ford Focus ST hot hatch unveiled in production form” »