Toyota announces powertrain details for FT-86

May 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

To keep Toyota/Subaru fans interested new information has been released on the upcoming FT-86 sports coupe a.k.a Toyoburu.

Toyota has confirmed that its rear-driving affordable sports car will go on sale next year and will be powered by Subaru’s latest 2.0-litre 4-cylinder boxer engine fitted with Toyota’s D-4S technology. It’s a real team effort here and Toyota’s D-4S tech consists of direct injection combined with port injection for more power.

Unfortunately output figures still haven’t been released, stopping us armchair critics from judging the FT-86 before it even reaches production. But Toyota is amping everyone up by claiming that its D4-S technology “results in increased horsepower and torque without sacrificing fuel consumption and environmental performance.”

The engine itself will come from Subaru’s with an improved 2.0-liter horizontally opposed gas motor, in its current Impreza guise this motor only puts out 110kW and 197 Nm of torque, but in the case of the FT-86, output is expected to be bumped up significantly. The real tragedy here is that the FT-86 won’t be turbocharged, not at first, anyway.

For changing gears the FT-86 will be offered with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission. “The manual will offer quick and precise shifts with a short-throw, while the automatic transmission will feature sporty shifts controlled by steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifts,” said Toyota. Continue reading “Toyota announces powertrain details for FT-86” »

Mazda3 updated with SkyActiv-G engine and exterior tweaks

April 26th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Mazda3 has been long criticised for its heavy fuel use but all that is now set to change with Mazda’s new SkyActiv-G petrol engine.

The 2012 Mazda3 has just made its debut at the 2011 New York Auto Show and is the first production use for the all-new 2.0 litre four-cylinder SkyActiv-G petrol engine.

The new motor will combine with the Skyactiv-MT six-speed manual transmission and the SkyActiv-Drive six-speed auto to chase down better fuel economy.

To achieve greater efficiency the SkyActiv-G engine uses multi-hole injectors and a higher compression ratio of 12.0:1. Power hasn’t decreased but has been bumped up to 115kW from 108kW for its predecessor, and torque has increased from 182Nm to a round 200Nm.

The new fuel consumption figures when paired with the SkyActiv-MT manual transmission is listed at 8.7 l/100km for urban driving and 6.0 l/100km on the motorway. The current MZR 2.0 litre petrol engine is quoted at 10.8 and 6.2 l/100km respectively, when combined with a six-speed manual transmission. Continue reading “Mazda3 updated with SkyActiv-G engine and exterior tweaks” »

Honda restarts next-gen NSX development

April 26th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Good news for fans of Honda’s long-dead NSX supercar with fresh reports that the model line is on the way back from oblivion.

At the recent Shanghai Auto Show the Japanese automaker revealed plans for the development of a new hardcore sports car that will become spiritual successor to the iconic NSX.

Honda Motor Company president, Takanobu Ito brought the big news and said the new car won’t feature the stonking V10 engine that had been planned for the next NSX, as the company scrapped this project back in 2008. But Ito did promise that the future NSX would be “exhilarating to drive and also environmentally friendly”. With those words in mind,  it’s likely the car will use an electric motor to boost power for a conventional gasoline engine, much like the CR-Z sport hybrid. But unlike the limp CR-Z, the NSX successor will be positioned as a full-blood high-performance hybrid vehicle.

The initial plans for an NSX successor were cancelled by former Honda president Takeo Fukui, who told fans it was a cost-saving measure. Before the project was shelved the new car was expected to have a front-mounted V10 engine pumping out at least 500 ponies. It was this drivetrain, in concept form, that was later used by the Honda HSV-010 GT racecar. Continue reading “Honda restarts next-gen NSX development” »

Kia Cerato Hatchback LX 2011 Review

April 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Cerato is proving to be the slow burner of the Kia range with another variant now on offer – a hatchback. The four-door hatch will join the sedan and Koup in the Cerato range. But there’s more to this story than just whacking a different body shape on to Kia’s well serving Cerato platform. Kia’s new hatchback represents its full-scale entry into the most popular and hardest fought market category in NZ. Facing down more established rivals like the Mazda3, Ford Focus and VW Golf is no easy task, so how can the Cerato hatch expect to hold its own? By implementing the same strengths that run throughout the entire Kia range, distinctive design, high equipment levels and aggressive pricing. Car and SUV spent some seat time in the new Cerato hatch LX to see if its got what it takes.

In the past few years Kia has become intensely design-focused with very good results and the Cerato hatch doesn’t let the side down. While it uses the same wheelbase as the sedan, the hatch body is 190mm shorter due to less rear overhang.

At the front the two variants look almost identical both using a chrome-ringed Kia corporate grille and recessed fog lamps in a wide lower air dam. From the A-pillar back the hatch is its own car and has been styled with a modern, sporty focus. Broad shoulders, an upswept window line and bulky bumpers give the Cerato hatch a wide, athletic look and genuine road presence. At the rear the angles sharpen, and there’s attractive features like large two-piece taillights, a hatch spoiler and a black plastic diffuser. Continue reading “Kia Cerato Hatchback LX 2011 Review” »

New Holden Malibu revealed in Chevrolet form

April 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Holden’s new medium-sized sedan, the Malibu, has made its international debut at the Shanghai Auto Show amid much anticipation.

The reveal, conducted by Chevrolet, saw the veil lifted on the new-generation model that will be sold in up to 100 countries including Australia next year. A decision has not yet been made on whether the Malibu will be sold here in New Zealand. If it is, the Malibu will replace the unpopular Epica in Holden’s lineup and will compete against segment heavyweights like the Ford Mondeo and Mazda6.

The Mailbu will be powered by a range of 4-cylinder engines, with more details to be released shortly. Over in the States the Malibu will be offered with a new direct-injected 2.5 litre four-cylinder Ecotec petrol engine producing 141kW and 245Nm of torque.

The exterior design has taken inspiration from Chevrolet’s iconic Camaro muscle car and also some styling cues from the Cruze. The wide stance, twin exhaust tips and integrated spoiler give it strong road presence. Continue reading “New Holden Malibu revealed in Chevrolet form” »

Subaru breaks out XV concept vehicle at Shanghai show

April 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

For any Subaru fans out there wanting a glimpse of the future for their favoured brand – here’s the new XV Concept. The covers have just been pulled off this latest crossover concept at the Auto Shanghai 2011 motor show.

What exactly is it? It’s a compact crossover vehicle based on the same platform as the upcoming 2012 Subaru Impreza. Keen enthusiasts will already know that a high-riding Impreza XV variant already sells in some markets globally.

Features of the concept vehicle’s design include popped out wheel arches, full length glass roof, integrated roof rails and lower body cladding – all features that suggest a focus on practicality and off road ability. Flashing it up is Subaru’s latest hexagonal grille, hawk-eye headlights, 19-inch light alloy rims with clear blue centre caps and a matte ‘Electro Yellowgreen’ finish.

No surprises under the XV’s bonnet with Subaru’s 2.0-litre horizontally opposed Boxer engine turning all four wheels through a symmetrical AWD system. Power is shifted through a CVT transmission.

In the cabin, light leather treatment contrasts with the darker tones of other cabin features. There’s a large touch panel multi-function display in the center console for easy navigation and audio control while displaying vehicle information. Continue reading “Subaru breaks out XV concept vehicle at Shanghai show” »

Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 – five cars heading to NZ

April 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 is the latest and most modern Mopar offering of this well known nameplate and a few of these brand new vehicles are now on their way to NZ.

To kick off 2011 model-year production, Dodge has built 1,100 Inaugural Edition models of the Challenger SRT8 392, all with exclusive content. Only 5 of these will make their way to New Zealand’s shores this month, 4 of which already have homes.

With only one out of the five Challengers left for sale, prior to arrival, Todd Groves Divisional Manager of the Chrysler portfolio in New Zealand, is confident the SRT brand can become a vehicle kiwis will aspire to own. “It’s an honor to facilitate the entry of these specialised vehicles into the New Zealand market and to be able to provide our discerning customers with their very own slice of muscle car heaven. Being such a small market on the international scale, NZ is often overlooked for allocation of exclusive vehicles like these, but this time we managed to make it happen for our SRT fans and I’m really proud to be a part of that.”

On the outside, Dodge is offering unique customisation for those first 1,100 owners. Two colors and fullbody stripe combinations include Deep Water Blue with standard Stone White stripes or Bright White Clear Coat with standard Viper Blue stripes. All Inaugural Edition models will ride on standard 20-inch SRT-exclusive wheels that feature a polished face and satin black painted pockets. Continue reading “Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 – five cars heading to NZ” »

Volkswagen reveals its new-again 2012 Beetle

April 19th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The original VW Beetle was in production for decades and the new Beetle didn’t do too badly either with a production run of over 12 years. Now, the next-generation Beetle has been revealed in a set of images and promo videos before its official debut at the Auto Shanghai show later this week.

This next-generation 2012 VW Beetle, has now dropped the word ‘new’ from its name and comes out 73 years after the launch of the original Beetle in 1938.

The 2012 VW Beetle differs in styling from the previous generation with a lower-slung more unisex design with a flatter roof and more upright back end. The overall styling is less bulbous and sharper cut when compared to its predecessor. In terms of size th new Beetle is also wider than its predecessor by 8.4 cm and longer by 15.2 cm.

The interior has also been given a complete refit with many cute features like the dashboard vase dropped. There’s highlights like a flat-bottomed steering wheel, an extra top-hinged glovebox and optional navigation systems on a 6.5-inch screen. There’s also talk of a sunroof that has 80% larger glass than on the previous model. Cargo capacity in the hatch has also been increased to 310 litres. Continue reading “Volkswagen reveals its new-again 2012 Beetle” »