Mini officially reveals its 2012 Cooper Coupe

June 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mini has officially released images and specifications for its 2012 Cooper Coupe today and it stacks up as one fun machine. Built to be the quickest and most aggressive Mini in the range the Coupe is the first two-seater ever produced by the brand.

Mini’s Coupe will be available in three variants, the standard Cooper Coupe, Cooper S Coupe and John Cooper Works Coupe (pictured).

Exterior styling is consistent with the numerous spy shots circulating online and is has similarities to the Cooper hatch but some design cues all its own. Steep A-pilars push into a short, sloping rear roofline with an integrated roof spoiler. There’s a unique-for-the-brand speed-activated boot wing at the rear while up front it’s more familiar with the same round headlights and broad blackened grille. The coupe will also get a handful of unique colours.

In the compact cabin Mini’s Coupe keeps with the rounded theme but it’s adapted to fit into the smaller body shape. Replacing the rear seat in the standard hatch is a small cargo shelf with two integrated storage bins. Space in the hatch is understandably limited but longer items can pass through the rear bulkhead into the cabin if required.  Continue reading “Mini officially reveals its 2012 Cooper Coupe” »

Audi R8 GT Spyder let off its chain – expect 418kW

June 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Audi has let the latest version of its hardcore R8 GT supercar off the chain with details and images released of the new convertible version. It was only two months ago that Audi announced it would build a top tier roadster version of the R8 and already it appears to be completed.

Like the coupe variant, the R8 GT Spyder will use a tweaked version of the regular R8 V10’s 5.2 litre engine, boosting power to 418kW with 540Nm of torque.

The power is sent to all four wheels through Audi’s R tronic sequential automatically-controlled manual transmission and the well-proven quattro all-wheel-drive system.

Performance claims peg the R8 GT Spyder at hitting 100km/h in just 3.8 seconds, compared to 3.6 for the hardtop R8 GT and 3.9 seconds for the regular R8 5.2 FSI V10.

A range of weight-saving measures help the R8 GT Spyder achieve its performance figures with the special model weighing 85kg less than the standard version. Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic chips in for shedding the kilos and makes up the cover for the soft top, the rear spoiler and the rear bumper. However, the most effective weight-saving measure is the seats, which drop off 32kg. Continue reading “Audi R8 GT Spyder let off its chain – expect 418kW” »

BMW X3 xDrive 20d 2011 Review

June 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

BMW’s first generation X3 had life fairly well sorted. It was comfortably placed in the X-Series range beneath established big brother the X5 and the sportier X6. But life changed for the X3 with the birth of the X1 into the X-family. In response the new X3 would have to grow in size and refinement to create itself a new groove in the range. With this realignment in mind BMW has launched its second-generation X3 model for 2011. In the role of middle child the X3 is now bigger, handles sharper and has improved fuel economy. Car and SUV had a test drive in the new diesel-powered X3 20d to document its coming of age.

In terms of body proportions there’s definitely been a growth spurt for the X3 with a 28mm increase in width and a 11mm higher ground clearance at 212mm. There’s minimal change in height but at 4.65 metres in length and a widened track the X3 is dimensionally very close to the original X5. Despite the extra bulk and more equipment the new X3 is 25kg lighter than its predecessor – an impressive result for BMW engineers. Continue reading “BMW X3 xDrive 20d 2011 Review” »

Koenigsegg reveals Agera R supercar specifications

March 24th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

When Koenigsegg unveiled its brand new Agera R supercar at the recent Geneva Motor Show it received a lot of attention. With a flat white ‘Speed Racer’ style paint job and over 800kW on tap this is clearly a machine not for the feint-hearted. But the exotic Swedish automaker has only now released the full specifications, and they are suitably staggering.

Under the bonnet the Agera R is packing a 5.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine that produces a massive 691kW on standard 95-octane gasoline, but fill the tank with an E85 bio-ethanol blend and you’re going to get a whopping 820kW. All the power is distributed to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, that means a 2.9-second sprint to 100 kph.

The engine is a total beast but there is more to the Agera R than just straight line speed. The carbon-Kevlar body generates 300 kilos of downforce at 250 km/h helped by the car’s turbine wheels which are wrapped in specially-made Michelin rubber. According to Koenigsegg this supercar will also pull a neck-pulling 1.6 g around the skid pad – a figure that can’t be beaten by almost anything else on four wheels. Continue reading “Koenigsegg reveals Agera R supercar specifications” »

Mitsubishi ASX Sport 2010 Review

December 10th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Mitsubishi’s new ASX is huge, not in size but in importance for the Japanese brand. The recession has been tough on Mitsubishi but now its time to fight back and the ASX is being wheeled out as the weapon to turn the tables. The ASX name stands for Active Smart Crossover and the vehicle slots into the fast growing family compact crossover segment currently occupied by the Nissan Qashqai, Skoda Yeti and Hyundai ix35. Although it’s a niche market segment, it is one with broad appeal to buyers who want SUV styling and practicality but don’t need a rugged off-road battler or seven-seater capability. So the ASX is targeted at the right spot but does it have enough firepower to hit its mark? Car and SUV got locked and loaded into a new Mitsubishi ASX Sport to get the answers.

Mechanically, the ASX has borrowed heavily from the Outlander and Lancer models but the styling is all its own¦ well almost. Up front, the ASX receives the jet fighter front grille keeping it aligned with most of Mitsubishi’s current product. From the A-pillars back the ASX has a razor-cut modern character and while it uses the same platform as the Outlander it’s new-model charm will turn heads in this new segment. Puffed-out fenders and an upswept shoulder line give the ASX an athletic profile and fine detailing like chrome ringed fog lamps and 16-inch alloys add a feeling of quality. The ASX also comes with an in-built party trick in the form of durable front guards that pop back out without damage if knocked or pushed in. It’s exactly this sort of progressive detailing that makes the ASX stand out.

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Dodge Journey SXT 2010 Review

September 3rd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Is your home full of family members and pets but your bank account isn’t packed full of cash? If you answered yes, then read on because the Dodge Journey SXT may be the family hauler for you. The 2010 model year has brought some small updates for the American SUV and being priced just below the $40k mark it’s ready to continue forcing itself into the consciousness of thrifty kiwi buyers. Car and SUV played mum for a week in the Journey to find out if it had the durability and versatility demanded by New Zealand families.

From the outside the Journey’s styling and proportions are striking but difficult to define. It looks like a cross between an SUV and a people mover with a chunky face surrounded by pumped up sheetmetal. There’s a definite road-focus to the styling and its relatively low ride height and colour-coded body kit make no promises of any off-road credentials. Out front there’s the chrome Dodge signature grille with the Ram’s head logo stamped in, quad halogen headlights and fog lamps mounted in the square-jaw front bumper.  In profile the Journey shows off a large glasshouse, and pushed-out wheel arches that house 17-inch alloy wheels in base-model SXT form. The rear design is a touch softer boasting jeweled four-piece taillights and a lightweight single panel lift-gate with integrated roof spoiler. While the overall design isn’t as polarizing as the Nitro or Chrysler 300C the Journey is a handsome machine and looks more expensive than its price tag suggests.

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Gordon Murray releases details of new T.27 city car

May 31st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Gordon Murray has built a reputation as one of the most innovative engineers and designers in the automotive world. The man who created the McLaren F1 supercar was always going to get a lot of cred and his latest project is the new T.27 electric city car. The T.27 is the battery powered variant of the T.25, a model that is scheduled to debut shortly with a gas engine. Both models use the same basic architecture, and like the McLaren F1, they feature a three seat layout.

Murray’s firm is teaming up with Zytek Automotive, a UK-based engineering consultancy with strong experience in electric and hybrid powertrains. The car is just 7.9-foot long and has a 12 kilowatt-hour battery pack mounted under the seats and a 25 kilowatt electric motor pushing the back wheels. The clever part is that Zytek has managed to package the motor, single-speed transmission and power electronics into one small unit. The system is claimed to give the car a range of 100-150 kilometers and with the CO2 emissions are a combined 48 grams / kilometer.

The T.27 is claimed to have a super tight turning circle of just 19.7 feet and with its width of just 4.3 feet, three of them can fit into a single parking space perpendicular to the curb. The program first started late last year and the first running prototype is due to be completed in April 2011.

Volkswagen Golf R 2010 Review

April 16th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

In 1976 Volkswagen practically invented the hot hatch with its first Golf GTi, but despite its peppy nature it wasn’t really enough. VW then reinvented the hot hatch as a V6 with the Golf VR6 and the following Golf R32 but that still wasn’t enough. Now, still hunting down hot hatch perfection, VW has returned to its four-cylinder roots with devastating results. What’s spawned from VW’s latest efforts is an evolutionary machine that can lay claim to being the most powerful and hardest accelerating Golf ever built. Car and SUV took a drive in the simply named Golf R to sample its distinctive formula of practicality and pure excitement.

Where the outgoing Golf R32 had a naturally aspirated V6 hiding under the bonnet the new Golf R comes packing a turbocharged four in what’s best described as a ‘more from less’ approach. The hard-tuned 2.0-litre engine thumps out 199kW of power a 15kW increase over the outgoing R32 and 350Nm of torque a 30Nm increase. Maximum boost runs at 17 psi and all available grunt comes on at 6000rpm.

The engine isn’t an improved version of the current Mk VI GTi’s unit but is based on the older Mk V GTi mill. The block has been reinforced and the cylinder head replaced, new pistons, conrods, injectors and a new turbo are all used. The results are impressive and the Golf R will sprint from standing to 100 kph in just 5.5 seconds and won’t give up till it reaches a top speed of 250 kph.

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