Suzuki Swift Sport 3-door 2013 Review

June 2nd, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

Nothing says “I love driving enthusiastically by myself” like a car that makes it difficult to get passengers in. Of course, just having one door would be the perfect statement, but the impracticality would ensure this Suzuki Swift Sport would quickly be bumped off the best-sellers list.

Suzuki-swift-sport-rqThere are cars I drive where I enjoy company – big, comfortable SUVs and plush sedans – and there are cars where I wish everyone would just sod off and let me cane it through the twisty bits. This car deserves a caning more than a Continue reading “Suzuki Swift Sport 3-door 2013 Review” »

Honda Jazz 1.3S Sport 2011 Review

October 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Although it still seems like a new model line for Honda, the popular Jazz has been around for 10 years already. To keep things fresh for Jazz fans, Honda has refreshed its sub-compact hatch with styling tweaks, new colours and extra equipment. When the second-generation Jazz reached NZ shores in early 2008 it had mums nationwide swooning and quite a few Grandmas too. The Jazz was affordable, practical and cute – healthy sales followed. But that was 2008, since then the Jazz has come up against some tough competition like updated version of the Ford Fiesta, VW Polo and the rampaging Suzuki Swift.  Will the 2011 facelift be able to maintain the Jazz’s place within the affections of NZ mums? Car and SUV belted into a 2011 Jazz 1.3S Sport to find out the answers.

While Honda’s facelifts are sometimes criticized for being too subtle the Jazz receives visual updates in a few key areas. At the front there’s a more modern bumper and a replacement grille that joins new headlights. It’s a similar situation at the rear where restyled taillights sit above a new bumper. The result of the changes is a hatch that not only looks sleeker but also is also more aerodynamic. Our 1.3S Sport model received some striking extra features like a sportier grille, rear hatch spoiler and a full body kit with deeper side skirting. 15-inch alloy wheels are standard and door handles and mirror caps are nicely colour-matched. Continue reading “Honda Jazz 1.3S Sport 2011 Review” »

Land Rover hands over fleet of Rugby World Cup vehicles

August 22nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Last Friday, Land Rover handed over a special fleet of vehicles to Rugby World Cup Ltd (RWCL) in a ceremony outside Eden Park Stadium. As Official Vehicle of the Rugby World Cup, Land Rover has provided 30 vehicles to tournament organisers and officials. This special fleet is made up of Range Rover Sports and Land Rover Discoverys.

The vehicles have been specially customised with RWC branding, number plates and commemorative badging to celebrate the association throughout New Zealand.

Kit McConnell, Tournament Director of RWCL, was presented with the fleet by Land Rover at Eden Park, which will host the first game on Friday 9th September. “The provision of the Official Vehicles by Land Rover is key to the successful running of the Rugby World Cup and will be put to good use to ensure that the Tournament is run smoothly over the next couple of months,” said Mr McConnell.

In addition to the vehicles being supplied to the RWCL, Land Rover is also supplying another 42 vehicles for Land Rover VIPs and international media use during the tournament, bringing the total number of Land Rovers and Range Rovers imported specifically for the tournament to 72. Continue reading “Land Rover hands over fleet of Rugby World Cup vehicles” »

New Suzuki Swift sport previewed before Frankfurt debut

August 11th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Suzuki has given hot hatch fans a preview of its upcoming 2012 Swift Sport ahead of its official debut at the Frankfurt motor show next month.

When Suzuki unveiled its S-Concept earlier this year, it was a styling exercise to show what the next Swift Sport may look like. Some of the concepts bold styling has remained and some has been dropped. The pumped out wheel arches are gone, as are the vented quarter panels and giant wing. What has been kept is the striking front bumper and smoked headlights.

Under the bonnet the 2012 Swift Sport will feature a 1.6 litre M16A engine developed exclusively for the sportier model. The four-cylinder petrol unit will produce 100 kW of power and 160 Nm of torque. That’s a 30kW/20Nm increase over the standard new-model Swift and a 8kW/12Nm increase over the previous Swift Sport.

The engine will be connected to a six-speed manual gearbox. Continue reading “New Suzuki Swift sport previewed before Frankfurt debut” »

New 2012 Suzuki Swift Sport on track for next year

July 18th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The new-model Swift in its regular form has been on sale in NZ for a few months now and is proving popular with Suzuki on track to launch its new 2012 Swift Sport early next year.

While official details haven’t been released, there have been leaks revealing that the new model will be a three-door hatch with styling cues borrowed from the S-Concept (pictured).

Power is expected to come from a naturally aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing around 100 kW. The standard transmission will be a six-speed manual box but if 100kW is too much power for you to shift through – an automatic transmission will be an available option.

Development and testing of the car is currently taking place at the Nurburgring race track in Germany, mostly centering on a new aerodynamics package, stiffened suspension and uprated Brembo brakes. Continue reading “New 2012 Suzuki Swift Sport on track for next year” »

Honda Accord V6 2011 Review

June 24th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Since the late 1970s the Honda Accord has been a bit of an institution on New Zealand roads. We have seen various numbers and variations of all eight generations of the Accord with the fifth instalment even being assembled locally in Nelson. But things have changed for the Accord over the years; it got larger, more powerful and is no longer the cost-conscious option it once was. Honda also doubled down with the Accord and split the model line into the more American market focused Accord V6 and the smaller, sharply packaged Accord Euro. So where does that leave NZ’s long serving Honda? Well it’s in good shape, sure it’s become a higher-priced mid/large luxury cruiser but it’s got loads of kit, an intelligent powertrain and for 2011 – an enhancing facelift. Car and SUV got reacquainted with the 2011 Accord V6 VL Sport to see exactly how far this mainstay has come.

Visually, the Accord’s athletic design has received a modest refresh. Changes include a new thickly chromed grille, restyled front bumper and modernised headlights. At the rear the two-piece taillights are also new and there’s some fresh detailing around the boot. Design and packaging are strengths of the Accord V6, and in tested Sport form it is one handsome devil. The Sport upgrade includes deeper front, rear and side skirting which really brings out the Accord’s aggressive, sleek lines and renders it long and low. The chrome work around the window line and through the grille is just enough bling to draw the eye, but not enough to spoil the low-key aesthetic. Finishing the look is chrome-tipped twin exhaust outlets and new 10-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels shod in 225/50 rubber. Continue reading “Honda Accord V6 2011 Review” »

Rumours: Holden developing go-fast Cruze SS

March 23rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It’s been rumoured for some time now and in Singapore a cosmetic version was released (pictured), but the sports-focused Cruze SS could be closer to reality than ever before.

Holden looks set to take the reins on building a higher-performance Cruze with the SS name plate already being mentioned. While nothing is certain at this stage if Holden gets to work on a Cruze SS it could be on the road in just one year.

Currently, Holden has been developing a revised suspension and steering setup for the Cruze. There is also talk that the 1.6-litre turbo engine found in the Astra in Europe is a possibility for the Cruze as well.

But it’s another possible engine option that has performance car fans excited – the 208kW 2.0-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder from the Opel OPC Concept shown at last year’s Paris Auto Show.

Holden’s ultimate plan for the Cruze is to eventually compete directly with the Mazda3′s range, with sport and standard powertrains, hatch and sedan bodystyles, and a range of trim levels. That plan won’t be possible in all markets, but Holden’s powertrain and suspension work could prove very valuable for GM.

If the Holden Cruze SS does make it to production don’t expect it any sooner than the end of the year. Till then check back for more info as it becomes available.

2011 Honda Jazz goes on sale in NZ

March 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Honda NZ has just landed its updated 2011 Jazz sub-compact hatchbacks. The latest version of the popular model comes with fresh styling to the exterior and interior, new features, new colours, Electronic Stability Control and a 5 Star Euro NCAP Safety rating.

There are now seven colours for Jazz buyers to choose from, with the addition of Fresh Lime Green, Sunset Orange and Storm Silver. The styling updates affect the Jazz’s front and rear bumpers, grille, headlights and tail-lights.

New standard features on the 2011 Jazz range include Electronic Stability Control (Honda’s VSA), improved look and feel to the interior upholstery, trip computer integration with the steering wheel controls and passenger seat-belt reminders. The interior and dash layout upgrade includes amber interior and instrument panel lighting to enhance the driving experience.

The Jazz 1.3S model now comes standard with 15” alloy wheels, rear spoiler and cruise control, while all 1.3 and 1.5 litre models receive new dynamic styling to the front and rear bumpers, grille and lower skirts.

The i-VTEC engine, combined with either the 5-speed automatic transmission or 5-speed manual (1.3S models only), remains unchanged. The 1.5 litre Jazz achieves power of 88kW and torque of 145Nm, and the 1.3 litre, power of 73kW and torque of 127Nm.  Racing inspired paddle shifters on the steering wheel allow gear shifts in automatic mode or full manual operation in ‘Sport’ mode for driver control.

Winning the Small Car Class in the recent AA Energywise Rally demonstrates the fuel economy potential of the Honda Jazz.  Its fuel economy figures are 5.8, 6.6 and 6.7 litres per 100km respectively for the Jazz 1.3S manual, Jazz 1.3S automatic and Jazz 1.5 Sport. Continue reading “2011 Honda Jazz goes on sale in NZ” »

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