Ford Focus ST 2013 Review

September 7th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

There is no point in buying the Ford Focus ST if you don’t like excitement. You will also want to give it a very wide berth if you look at manufacturer-supplied fuel economy figures and think that you’ll want to drive sensibly enough to match them. You won’t. Oh no, you’ll be taking long drives by yourself. The ST will be your secret lover and you will be burying those aluminium pedals into the carpet so you can adore the sonorous four-cylinder turbo howl from the two-litre EcoBoost motor.

ford-focus-st-2012-rqThis sound is piped into the cabin rather than letting the firewall transmit the acoustics, and you notice a definite change in engine tone as the revs rise. 184kW and 360Nm of torque means 100kph will come up in 6.5 seconds if you’re good enough at swapping cogs in the six-speed manual gearbox, but it’s not the acceleration that’s the high point of the Ford’s performance, it’s the cornering.

ford-focus-st-2012-front-interiorDirect steering is the foundation of any car that feels sporty, and the Focus has it. Only when the torque threatens to overwhelm the front wheels do electronics intervene and you lose a little bit of the connection, but basically the Focus is at home on a long sweeper or a tight switchback and everything in between. And when you’ve finished with that, put your sensible hat back on and you can cruise back home at motorway speeds getting fuel economy under 8l/100km. My trip from downtown Auckland to Whangaparaoa town centre and back achieved 7.8l/100km; Ford quotes 7.2l/100km combined. Continue reading “Ford Focus ST 2013 Review” »

Nissan Pulsar ST Hatch 2013 Review

August 2nd, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

What you really want for a road trip is the top-of-the-range car, not the base model, but the $29,990 Nissan Pulsar ST acquitted itself nicely on a weekend away to Rotorua. I’m not saying I wouldn’t have relished the chance to punt the turbo SSS version through State Highway 1B, but that can wait for another day because I was glad for the better fuel economy.

nissan-pulsar-st-hatch-2013-interiorThe Nissan reports the petrol consumption in kilometers per litre rather than litres per 100km. We achieved approximately 14km per litre on the trip back from Rotorua to Auckland, which converts to a moderately respectable 7.1l/100km. This is nowhere near the 6.7l/100km combined cycle figure Nissan quotes, but not bad considering it has a naturally aspirated 1.8-litre petrol engine mated to a CVT gearbox (not as efficient on the open road as a standard auto ‘box), and carrying all that extra weight. Nissan would have produced that test figure driving on an almost empty tank with a driver made of helium.

nissan-pulsar-st-hatch-2013-rqThe mud might have been hot and bubbling in Rotorua, but you can’t really say that about the Pulsar’s performance. The engine produces 96kW and 174Nm and you have to work that pedal into the carpet to get overtaking performance. Fortunately the Continue reading “Nissan Pulsar ST Hatch 2013 Review” »

Ford reveals five-door Fiesta ST concept

November 4th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Ford first previewed its upcoming Fiesta ST in concept form at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show with a three-door version of the hatch.

Now, Ford has a more production-ready model for the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show, it’s a hatchback-variant and will give Ford fans a better taste of the hot hatch.

In Ford’s official press release it states that “The five-door Fiesta ST Concept shows the promise for a globally available performance model.”and goes on to say, “The Fiesta ST Concept shows in the most dramatic way possible that the qualities that define an ST are not limited to one model [the Focus ST]. The potential for delivering the ST experience to an even wider audience is laid bare by this exciting new concept,” he added.

Despite these near-assurances Ford hasn’t officially confirmed production for the Fiesta ST.

Like it’s three-door stablemate the five-door concept gets the same styling treatment with a bespoke front end, aerodynamic bodykit, lowered suspension and flared wheel arches with 17-inch alloy wheels. Continue reading “Ford reveals five-door Fiesta ST concept” »

Ram range boosted by 1500 Mossy Oak hunting edition

October 27th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Ram continues to expand its range of brawny pickup trucks with more special editions and extra models over in the States.

Next year the popular Power Wagon line will be expanded with the addition of ST and Laramie trim levels. ST guise is a no frills specification designed for companies and government agencies that need a rugged truck without too many luxuries.

The Laramie trim rolls includes leather seats, a premium audio system and plenty of wood-grain in the cabin. The exterior of the truck is treated to body-color fender flairs and chrome mirrors and bumpers.

Ram also plans to roll out a 1500 Mossy Oak Edition (pictured). Those readers into hunting may recognise the Mossy Oak brand name as one of the leading companies in the camouflage industry. This new addition will will boast a tub liner and a tail gate wrapped in the Mossy Oak Breakup Infinity camo pattern. In the cabin the treatment continues with door panels finished in camo, and the Mossy Oak logo embroidered on the seat headrests. With all that camo trim the only risk is that your truck will get shot by accident. The Ram 1500 Mossy Oak Edition will cost USD $39,910 ($49,800 NZ). Continue reading “Ram range boosted by 1500 Mossy Oak hunting edition” »

Fresh-faced Ford Fiesta ST concept revealed

September 15th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Following on from the reveal of the new Focus ST (read news), Ford has backed it up by showing off its new Fiesta ST concept.

The younger brother to the sporty Focus has been unveiled at this week’s Frankfurt Motor Show and shares much of the character of its larger sibling. The Fiesta ST has been revealed with a production-ready look and Ford is “seriously looking” at putting it into full production.

As a hotter version of current Fiesta the ST concept gives Ford fans a glimpse of the new styling direction for the entire Fiesta model range. Under the bonnet there’s Ford’s 1.6-litre turbocharged EcoBoost four-clinder engine sending power to the front wheels. Output is a healthy 135kW with 240Nm of torque. Shifting the gears is a six-speed manual box and 0-100km/h sprint time is expected to be less than seven seconds. Continue reading “Fresh-faced Ford Fiesta ST concept revealed” »

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” »

New video of next-gen Focus ST hot hatch

March 24th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Not much new info has been released on the 2012 Ford Focus recently but that doesn’t mean it’s fallen of the Car and SUV radar. After driving the NZ-spec Focus XR5 Turbo last year (read review) we have been a big fans and we’re quick to jump on any details about the next-gen model.

To keep us all going Ford’s European arm has released a video of its upcoming Focus ST sport hatch that’s expected to reach global markets early next year. While there’s nothing different or new about this model that was first introduced at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, it’s still nice to revisit it.

For now, the ST is the hottest version of the new Focus (until Ford builds a harder-core RS version) and will be powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine producing 184kW and 360 Nm of torque. The show car was equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox driving the front wheels, but it’s very possible that the production model will also be offered with a dual clutch transmission.

Check out the video below and photos in the gallery. Continue reading “New video of next-gen Focus ST hot hatch” »

It’s back – all new Nissan Micra launched in NZ

November 26th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The new 2011 Nissan Micra has been launched into the NZ market at a special event held earlier this week.

This latest Micra is the fourth generation to wear the badge and represents an entirely new chapter in the history of Nissan’s compact city car. Set to appeal to loyal buyers, its distinctive looks have been restyled it also boasts improved quality and dynamic abilities.

Designed specifically to make day to day urban driving as simple as possible, it delivers good dynamic performance for a small hatch and has comfortable suspension tuning, light power-steering and confident braking. Those driving characteristics are backed up by high levels of convenience and good equipment levels.

Nissan NZ is marketing the Micra around simplicity: it’s simple to purchase, simple to own and simple to live with. The all-new Micra is a simple car to live with, with three-year scheduled servicing reducing the ongoing costs of ownership. Plus Micra is full of features that, combined with thoughtful engineering, make living with the car on a daily basis a simple exercise. From easy egress to a practical luggage compartment, and good levels of visibility from the cabin.

Since its global launch earlier in 2010 the all-new Micra has been a phenomenal sales success. In the Japanese domestic market alone, orders for the Micra totalled at over 20,000 vehicles after just six weeks.

It is Nissan’s first model to use the company’s new V-Platform and the first to be built not in Japan or Europe, but rather in four manufacturing plants in China, Thailand, India and Mexico. The Micra for New Zealand will be sourced from Nissan’s plant in Thailand.

Continue reading “It’s back – all new Nissan Micra launched in NZ” »

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