March 10th, 2016 by Darren Cottingham
Some car companies are doing everything they can to tempt people away from buying compact SUVs and crossovers.
Skoda’s new Fabia wagon is a front runner in the offerings that are both value-priced and well-featured, mainly because it’s got a tremendous amount of cargo space and it handles better than any compact SUV this side of sixty grand. Continue reading “Skoda 2016 Fabia TSI wagon review” »
September 22nd, 2015 by Darren Cottingham
A hippie chick once told me she lived her life without expectations and I told her that was rubbish because everyone has expectations – you expect you can walk over your lawn without falling into a pit of sharpened bamboo spears, for example. Having expectations frees us from uncertainty and constant worry. Continue reading “Toyota: 2015 Corolla GX station wagon” »
July 2nd, 2015 by Darren Cottingham
Buttons and dials need to be manufactured and assembled. Each button needs its own design and graphic, each dial must be smooth, and then they have to occupy space on the dashboard, so the layout needs to be ergonomic, intuitive and easy to reach for the driver. Continue reading “Peugeot: 2015 Peugeot 308 SW Allure review” »
June 18th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham
Every time I read Calais, I immediately think Dover. They were the two ports at either end of the ferry across the English Channel to France, until it was superseded by the Channel Tunnel, which was wholly more efficient (than the ferry, that is, not France…although France has a reputation of being inefficient).
I wonder whether that’s how the Holden Calais-V feels: usurped by changing technology and a move towards smaller, more efficient cars. It would be wrong, though. There’s something noble about being on the waves, using brute force against the elements. Continue reading “Holden: 2014 Calais-V Sportwagon review” »
December 2nd, 2013 by Darren Cottingham
Mention a Legacy GT Spec B to anyone of my generation (born in the ‘70s) who had an interest in cars when they were in their 20s and you’ll be regaled usually with fond memories of either ownership, mates who owned one, or the intoxication of the throbbing boxer engine. For those of you who remember the Friday night cruises up Queen Street, those old four-cylinder turbo Legacys in both sedan and wagon form were a fixture of the scene from 1989 through to the early 2000s. It was the mixture of capacious storage and the power to win the traffic lights grand prix that made them so appealing. But times move on and the Legacy isn’t any longer the fantasy car of practical boy racers. But should it be? We drove the Legacy X just a few weeks ago. It was quite good, but lacked the old Subaru character and certainly wasn’t fast. Now we’ve got our mitts on this Legacy GT B Premium spec, and it somewhat redresses the balance. It harks back to those original performance Legacys with the bonnet scoop and the kind of acceleration that frightens your granny. Neither the scoop or performance are extreme like they were on some of the Subaru WRX STI models in the past, but they’re there to remind you that in this Legacy the engine needs more than just the air that flows through the grille, and it will reward you with smiles. This vent channels cold air onto the top-mounted intercooler, which improves the turbo’s performance. Power is 195kW and 350Nm from the 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol motor, and it’s driven through a five-speed automatic. This is much better for this type of car than Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT gearbox, but it’s not the most responsive of gearboxes, especially when you compare it to, say, a DSG gearbox in a Volkswagen. 0-100kph feels like it’s in the low 6-second range, though no figure is given by Subaru. It’s not lightning fast off the line, but better when you’re moving. Gear shifts need to be anticipated because they’re a little slow even in manual mode. Continue reading “Subaru Legacy GT Spec B Premium Wagon 2013 Review” »
November 11th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham
Skiing, mountain biking, kayaking, wakeboarding: they all need either long or cumbersome equipment, and transport to places where proper tarmac can be sparse. They need a vehicle that’s an enabler. The Outback 2.5i Sport is that vehicle. With four-wheel drive, plenty of ground clearance and a practical station wagon body, it’ll take a family or a group of mates for adventures.
The Outback 2.5i Sport is a raised version of the Legacy 2.5i Sport and is the step below the Forester in terms of off-road capability (the Forester has a few more mm of ground clearance and some extra driving modes to help in the real rough stuff).
As well as Symmetrical All-wheel Drive, Subaru’s main safety feature is its EyeSight Preventative Safety System. This consists of a camera either side of the rear-view mirror. The cameras capture a three-dimensional image and can tell if a car is braking ahead of you, or if you’re about to run into a pedestrian. If automatic braking intervention is required, EyeSight can make that decision before you’ve even had time to react to help reduce or diminish the severity of a frontal collision.
EyeSight also takes over the throttle pre-collision, and provides active cruise control, lane departure warning and lead vehicle start alert (when the car in front of you moves out of the way while you’re under adaptive cruise control, or you are stationary and the car in front moves away it beeps to let you know). Continue reading “Subaru Outback 2.5i Sport 2013 Review” »
October 17th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham
Four-wheel-drive station wagons are good if you like skiing and other outdoor pursuits – you lead a life a little less boring. Your adventures might see you on softer or more slippery ground, but you don’t want to have the inconvenience, sloppy handling and poor fuel economy of an SUV.
The 320d comes with xDrive which is BMW’s all-wheel-drive system. This means that the 135kW 2-litre turbodiesel has no chance of overwhelming the available traction, even though there’s 380Nm on tap. It also means it scores a slippery 0.32 coefficient of drag which leads to some fairly frugal motoring: 4.5l/100km (when using the Eco Pro mode, which can reduce fuel consumption by 20% if you follow its tips, too).
Eco Pro adjusts the accelerator pedal and gearbox parameters. Shift points are changed, heating and climate control systems are modified to take less power from the engine, and you are given feedback on the display as to how much Eco Pro is contributing to fuel consumption savings.
Consumption is also enhanced by the auto stop/start function, which stops the engine when you are stationary, and brake energy regeneration which captures energy when braking and helps charge the battery. Capturing braking energy means that the engine has less load under full acceleration because it doesn’t have to charge the battery at the same time.
Put it in sport mode, and you should be able to achieve 0-100kph times of around 8 seconds as the 8-speed gearbox swaps its super-slick cogs. Continue reading “BMW 320d Touring xDrive 2013 Review” »