Be Careful With Advice Or Your Name Could Be Mud

July 10th, 2012 by Tim Grimley

If I’m honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to this Saturday. You can fake all the bravado you want to your friends, but when push comes to shove, only a true mental case would actually look forward to putting on a pretty Heath Robinson superman costume composed mostly of women’s undercrackers and crawling through an assortment of freezing swamps.

The Tough Guy and Gal Challenge is one of those events that seems like an absolute hoot sometime around January when severely intoxicated. What a laugh it would be to go for a bit of a jog through the countryside, occasionally pausing to wade through a few streams and finish off with a warm shower and a tincture or two.

Yeah, she’ll be right….

Reality comes with a fairly savage bite when the day comes around and you realise that the actual process involves standing in a series of chilly queues with several hundred people waiting to be shoved into what purports to be water, but actually smells like an outbreak of equine dysentery at the Melbourne Cup. However, despite everything I managed to haul myself around the course and after a freezing shower in the car park, was readying myself for the tincture stage of proceedings when things suddenly took a dramatic turn for the worse.

‘Hey Tim, you know a lot about cars don’t you?’

There is nothing more certain to strike fear into my heart than hearing these words, because the end result is always one of two things. Either someone wants to introduce their Uncle Norris who has spent the last twenty years rebuilding an MG using only his teeth and is dying to spend the next twenty explaining to someone every step of the process in minute detail or even more terrifyingly, they want to talk about a car purchase.

As you well know, people are fairly precious about their beloved automobiles and I’ve yet to discover a way of telling someone that they are a mush-brained berk for choosing a Holden Barina over a Ford Fiesta that doesn’t result in some degree of umbrage being taken. It’s all well and good to take a swipe at a global motor manufacturer who, despite having a small African defence budget to play with, still turn out a rotter of a motor, but I’ve never liked breaking an individual’s heart by telling them that they would have been better off investing their hard-earned wedge on a decent pair of walking boots and a bus pass. Thus, in order to maintain some semblance of integrity, I’m forced to conduct the entire conversation with vague hand gestures and phrases along the lines of “It’s very you”.

Would you take advice from this man?

Although even that is preferable to what I was actually asked: what used car someone should buy in the first place. While I could – and occasionally do – bang on for longer than is socially acceptable about the comparative merits of various manufacturers’ current model range, how a car stacks up several years down the line can be a bit of a lottery.

Take for example the greatest car I have ever bought. It was a Volvo 740 and that was down to the fact it could slide around roundabouts at 20kph with a wardrobe in the back, make your bottom warm on cold mornings, had an entertaining overdrive button on the gear lever in lieu of a fifth gear and only cost $700. It was a thoroughly magnificent beast and is the car I regret selling over all others. Even with 400,000km on the clock it ran like a dream and I would have happily sold it to my best friend, such was my trust in its Nordic abilities.

Although this was a sale unlikely ever to go through due to the fact my best friend refused to get in it. Despite all of the plus points mentioned above, less than careful previous owners meant it had one or two minor foibles such as the roof lining randomly falling off, every door, window and the sunroof leaking like a baby and the whole thing reeking of damp labrador.

If the earlier caretakers had put a smidgen more effort into basic upkeep and not keeping sodden pets in the back it would have been perfect. A car is only as good as the people who have used it and until the day someone starts vetting the social and mechanical standards of people, the process of purchasing an older vehicle will always be a bit of a lottery.

And therefore if faced with the same situation, I can only recommend you take the option I did; resort to abject cowardice and come up with a solution that you are absolutely confident no-one will buy. My recommendation of the Renault Laguna station wagon as a safe, practical, fun and reasonably economical family option was totally on the mark, but there is not a cat in hells chance anyone spending $10,000 of their own money would risk one over the likes of Subaru’s Legacy or Nissan’s Primera.

I’ll admit it was pretty shameful behaviour for one dressed as a superhero, but after that mud run, I was happy to get out of sticky situations in any way I could.

Subaru Impreza 2.0i-SL Sedan 2012 Review

June 29th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

In the last few years Subaru has managed to turn around the ugliness of Imprezas of yore and fortunately they no longer make you want to stab your eyes with chopsticks like the bug-eyed version 7 did back in 2000. On the whole, this new Impreza 2.0i-SLsedan is not a bad looking car, except that from some angles the chunky arches look out of proportion with the rest of the dimensions.

On this top-of-the-line SL those arches are filled with 17-inch wheels wrapped in 205/50 R17 tyres. These are driven by Subaru’s excellent Symmetrical All-wheel Drive which features active torque splitting to make sure the right amount of power is going to all wheels. In the WRX STI this is useful in any conditions, but with the Impreza SL’s Continue reading “Subaru Impreza 2.0i-SL Sedan 2012 Review” »

Outback Diesel Auto Around The Corner

May 23rd, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Subaru will introduce its first automatic transmission diesel variant in the Outback early next year.

The Outback 2.0-litre Boxer Diesel with the Subaru Lineartronic™ Transmission (SLT) will build on the manual diesel variants of Outback and Forester.

It will be the first time Subaru has offered an automatic diesel in New Zealand.

“Our Diesel Outback has been the most economical diesel 4WD at the last two Energywise economy rallies,” said Wallis Dumper, the Managing Director of Subaru of New Zealand.

“But we also know the diesel market is dominated by automatic transmission models, so the addition of the diesel automatic Outback for Model Year 2013 is significant news for Subaru.”

“We know there’s massive pent up demand for auto diesels,” said Mr. Dumper. “Particularly in rural and regional areas, so it’s a great opportunity for us to meet the needs of those customers.”

“The Lineartronic transmissions in our petrol cars are a huge hit, typified by the new XV and Impreza, so we can only see good things for Outback auto diesel.”

“We’re very excited and we suggest customers pre-order with dealers to ensure early delivery.”

Pricing and specification are yet to be announced.

Unique Legacy For Rural Use

May 1st, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Subaru has unveiled a new New Zealand-bound Legacy variant at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition.

The Model Year 2013 car features a new grille, front bumpers, and sporty sills with chrome-type highlights, exclusive 18-inch wheels and ride height raised 60 mm.

Interior detail changes include black metal-type centre panel, centre console and steering switch panel, while the electronic park brake and SI-Drive switches are relocated for easier use.

“This new Legacy variant will be ideal for kiwi rural roads,” said Wallis Dumper, the Managing Director of Subaru of New Zealand. “We have a huge percentage of unsealed surfaces and the extra ride height adds to its capability in regional and rural areas.

“Another key aspect of this new Legacy variant is that the hip point is 70 mm higher than the current sedan, making entry and exit easier, which should really suit some of those traditional Calais and Fairmont drivers who you witness climbing out of their “gravel-rashed” vehicles in most rural communities.”

“Only three markets in the world – Australia, China and New Zealand – are getting this new variant, recognising some of the unique road conditions experienced in these countries.”

“It is still an enlightening statistic that a lot of our rural roads are unsealed, about a third in fact”.

“Obviously our All Wheel Drive Legacy is a great choice for these conditions and the new variant with its extra ground clearance makes an even stronger case, plus it provides a suitable environment for the farming executive of today”.

“We see its main market to be in rural areas, but it will also be ideal for those with tricky driveways, those who travel with trailers, boats and caravans, or just those who want a sedan where you can sit a bit higher.

“The new variant will initially be available in New Zealand with a 3.6 litre engine with potential for the smaller 2.5-litre engine at a later date.”

Pricing and release dates will be advised later.

Mr Dumper added: “While other Legacy in the range will retain their existing ride height, some of the other enhancements in the new variant will be shared by other Legacy in the MY13 line-up when it goes on sale later this year.

“This new variant gives us another opportunity to bring something different to market and judging by the success of our other recent offerings, including XV and Impreza; we can see a lot of potential.”

Getting Shirty

April 23rd, 2012 by Tim Grimley

Thanks to the demise of the summer season and its entourage of evening sporting activities, my social programme has recently relocated to the pubs and bars of the Auckland region. And being no stranger to the brewer’s craft, this is a situation that sits very comfortably with both me and my rapidly expanding waistline. Given that my circle of friends consists largely of drunks – they would be alcoholics if they could be bothered to go to meetings – I usually have to make little more effort than to sit back and wait for the text message or e-mail that informs me of the time and location of the next bacchanalian extravaganza.

But every so often I find myself facing a slightly perplexing social conundrum. Rather than simply diving into the nearest dive for the purposes of inspecting the bottom of several pint glasses, someone will get delusions of grandeur and insist we visit a flash restaurant or some other achingly fashionable venue where one is compelled to wear a collared shirt.

And being a man in his 30’s, I have absolutely no idea how I should do this.

Untucked I suspect

Not so many years ago, there was only one way to wear a shirt – untucked and with only as many buttons done up as it took to stop my dad beating me into tidying myself up. But now, on the few occasions where pre-social preening is necessary, I sometimes find myself standing in front of a mirror wondering if it wouldn’t look a darn sight more presentable if I stuffed all the excess material into the waistband of my Levi’s.

I accept that this has the potential to be a slippery slope and before too long I won’t be seen in public wearing anything except tweed trousers with a waistband at approximately nipple height, but even this would be better than turning into one of those social retards who desperately cling onto their youth despite it clearly being left behind in years that began with ‘nineteen ninety’.

And because the current Mrs Grimley has started one of her regular pining sessions for a Subaru Impreza WRX, this puts me on difficult ground.

As a petite, attractive, blonde lady-creature, this choice of vehicle holds absolutely no problems for her – pretty women in fast cars are essentially wheeled Viagra – but for me it’s the stuff of nightmares. The WRX Impreza should have been one of the great working man’s heroes; it has a devastating combination of power, pace and handling all of which comes wrapped up in a package that won’t give your bank manager angina. But thanks to a good proportion of the owners being people who are unsure how to operate a baseball cap and still follow their mothers’ edict of buying clothes to grow in to, it is essentially a car for tossers.

Clearly if you’re young you can get away with this – if you aren’t dressing or acting in some way like a victim of an overenthusiastic lobotomy then there is something wrong with you – but by what stage does this get out of jail expire? I’d love to have a WRX as a plaything and weekend driving tool, but ideally I don’t want to end up looking like a tool as well.

If anyone has an answer to this dilemma, I’d love to hear from you. The only solution I’ve come up with so far is to simply sell up and relocate to west Auckland where the culture is much more accepting of gentlemen with a penchant for performance. Although on the plus side it should sort out the shirt issue too. ‘In’ or ‘out’ really doesn’t matter; anything goes as long as it appears to have been stolen from a lumberjack.

BRZ – Going, Going, Almost Gone

April 19th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Subaru’s all new BRZ sports car is selling out fast. The first shipment of the much anticipated BRZ two door coupe which is due to arrive here in December is rapidly being snapped up by buyers.

Before going public, Subaru of New Zealand offered these cars to Subaru customers via the internet. Subaru customers had the chance to secure one of the 12 cars prior to public release. Wallis Dumper, Managing Director of Subaru of New Zealand said “The response took us by surprise as 8 units were snapped up within 6 hours”

Those outside Subaru’s customer base will have to move quickly to secure the final 4.

To secure a BRZ customers simply visit where they can choose their colour and personalised euro plate preference, and pay a $1200 deposit to secure one of the twelve units due in December.

The final price has not been established between Subaru of New Zealand and Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) the maker of Subaru vehicles, but Subaru of New Zealand has indicated that it would be below $60,000.

The first twelve BRZ’s also come with a bonus three year service plan, personalised Euro style number plate and an exclusive track day experience.

Features include 17 inch alloy wheels, limited slip differential, dusk sensing Xenon headlights, an engine immobilizer, ventilated disc brakes on all wheels, Vehicle Dynamics Control, cruise control and dual zone climate air conditioning.

The front midships mounted Boxer engine develops 147 kWs and the car has been a sellout success in Japan. International motoring magazines have described the BRZ as the best Japanese sports car since the NSX.

Further shipments of the BRZ will be available in 2013.

New Subaru Impreza Arrives in New Zealand

April 3rd, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Subaru’s all new fourth generation Symmetrical All Wheel Drive Impreza has arrived in New Zealand

Both hatch and sedan offer large improvements in fuel efficiency and emissions, and introduce multiple new features including, fuel-saving Auto Stop Start, a new generation horizontally opposed Boxer engine, interactive Multi-Function Display computer options and a choice of Subaru Lineartronic™ Transmission (SLT) and six-speed manual gearboxes.

The Impreza is priced from $34,990 for the 2.0i manual sedan and hatch.

New Impreza is the most efficient generation of Subaru’s small car to date and with its unique Subaru Lineartronic (CVT style) transmission it consumes just 6.8 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres in the combined cycle, a massive 22 per cent better than the superseded Impreza automatic. The six speed manual consumes just 7.1 l/100 km (combined), which is 20 per cent better than the outgoing five speed manual model.

Emission reductions are even more impressive – Impreza with SLT produces just 157 grams of CO2 per km, 24 per cent ahead of the outgoing four-speed automatic. The manual produces 164 g/km – a 21 per cent improvement.

Inside, soft touch surfaces, high-grade switchgear and generous occupant space distinguish Impreza, which also offers the option of a premium Multi-Function Display, with a vast array of information at the driver’s fingertips.

The Impreza line-up comprises of four models. The 2.0i comes with the choice of Lineartronic (SLT) or six-speed manual transmission, Auto Start Stop, paddle shift (SLT-only), steering wheel audio and cruise controls, climate control air conditioning, Bluetooth*wireless technology, USB connection, Multi-Function Display (fuel efficiency, temperature and clock), body coloured wing mirrors and door handles.

The Impreza 2.0i-L adds premium Multi-Function Display with reversing camera, dual zone climate control air conditioning, chrome front grill, 16-inch alloy wheels, centre console box with sliding armrest, leather trim steering wheel/gear shift, rear privacy glass and front fog lights.

The Impreza 2.0i-S adds (to 2.0i-L specification): upgraded speedometer, upholstery and trim; alloy pedals, chrome-type front fog light surrounds, chrome-type door handle inserts, indicators in wing-mirrors, chrome-type fog light surround and rear garnish (sedan-only), side skirts and 17-inch alloy wheels.

The range topping 2.0i-SL has in addition to the “S” model factory fitted satellite navigation, electric sunroof, leather trim and power driver’s seat.

“Our all-new Impreza will attract new customers to the brand with its focus on improved exterior styling and interior space, comfort and design,” said Wallis Dumper, the Managing Director of Subaru of New Zealand.

“Additionally, it’s more fuel efficient, environmentally friendly and better equipped.

“Impreza sends the strongest possible message that Subaru’s new design direction is a winner on so many fronts, from technology to quality, comfort, efficiency and style.

“Combine those factors with Subaru’s All Wheel Drive, safety, durability, engineering and retained value, and you can see that Subaru is firmly committed to growth combined with quality products.
“The all-new Impreza is surprisingly spacious internally so those driving previous generation Legacy and Outback models that are after a comparable sized car internally will be pleasantly surprised given the generous space on offer in these new models.

“Impreza appeals to people with both an urban lifestyle and a spirit of adventure. Factor in the choice of sedan and hatch variants with advanced new engine and transmission options, and you emerge with a truly modern, stylish and economical package.

“Fuji Heavy Industries have done a great job on producing a cabin with panoramic views and a sense of space housed in its small car dimensions. This is a fantastic feat when you consider the level of structural strength and safety inherent in Impreza’s design.

“The quality of interior materials, including the soft-touch dashboard treatment, reflects FHI’s commitment to raising the bar.

“The designers are also encouraging greater awareness of economical driving styles via the information shown in the Multi-Function Display, particularly the premium version in Impreza 2.0i-L and 2.0i-S and 2.0i-SL.

“We are delighted by the significant advances represented by new Impreza and that’s already been reflected in the level of showroom interest since details started emerging last year. Based on that feedback we see a bright future for a car that is a cornerstone of our range.”

Subaru offers an All Wheel Drive option to customers considering European cars with similar economy but in a complete 2.0 litre value package. This car presents a great alternative to the 1.6 or 1.8 litre front wheel drive only cars and comes with the added value of Japanese reliability.

Impreza highlights include an auto stop start fuel saving feature with the engine restarting in as little as 0.35 seconds. Fuel economy is 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle with just 157 grams of CO2 per km for the SLT model.

The Lineartronic SLT transmission with steering wheel paddle shift is smoother and 10 per cent more fuel efficient than the superseded four-speed automatic while the six speed manual has a short stroke gear lever for easy shifting, producing great efficiency.

The new third generation Boxer motor produces 110 Kilowatts at 6200 rpm and 196 Newton metres at 4200 rpm. The long-stroke design delivers approximately 10 per cent better fuel economy due to engine changes alone.

A dual active valve control system provides performance and efficiency gains, with an 18 per cent reduction in piston weight, 20 per cent reduction in connecting rod weight for major low and mid-range torque improvements. The motor is Euro 5 compliant.

Impreza’s body is about 10 kgs lighter, but its bending stiffness has been increased by around 25 per cent. The stylish hawk eye headlights provide a greater spread of light.

The sedan will have particular appeal to those in want of a sleek styled car that has leg room for passengers but still leaves space in the garage. The hatch features the benefits of more utility space.
Impreza’s extended wheelbase has resulted in a spacious widebody cabin for a small car with ultra low noise vibration and harshness to enhance comfort. And there is high quality, soft touch materials used on the dashboard and door trims.

A wide field of vision is a significant safety benefit and the large cargo area is not compromised by child restraints which attach to the rear seat backs.

New Impreza has a five star ANCAP crash test rating, with seven airbags, including a driver’s knee SRS airbag. A reversing camera is standard on 2.0i-L, 2.0i-S and 2.0i-SL models.

Impreza’s body and chassis structure are strengthened at critical points to reduce the likelihood of occupant injury in heavy impacts. Together with precise steering, this delivers a sense of stability.
Subaru’s new design direction, reflected in Impreza, includes excellent field of vision from the cabin, aided by pillars located further forward and door mounted wing mirrors, reducing blind spots.

BRZ Production Starts

March 20th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), the manufacturer of Subaru automobiles has started production of its sports coupe, the BRZ and the similar Toyota 86 at its Gunma Main Plant near Tokyo.

FHI and TMC first agreed on business collaboration in October 2005 when Toyota took a 16.7 percent share holding in FHI.

After the companies expanded their cooperative ties with new agreements related to development and production in April 2008, they then began four years of development of the Boxer engine BRZ based on a shortened Impreza chassis.

At the ceremony, TMC President Akio Toyoda said, “I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the ceaseless efforts of all FHI people and staff who were involved in the development, production and preparations for both models. The Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 would not have been successfully developed without collaboration between FHI and TMC. We started the alliance for mutual growth in 2005. Now I’m delighted to see that our alliance has borne fruit.”

FHI President Yasuyuki Yoshinaga, after extending his gratitude to all participants at the ceremony, said, “the car symbolises our corporate strategy in two significant aspects: good progress of our alliances; and advancement of our “select and focus” approach. The start of production today made a huge step for us, but it is not our goal. By constantly refining both models, TMC and FHI hope to nourish each model to be loved by customers all over the world for a long time to come.”

Subaru’s Gunma Main Plant, where minicars were previously manufactured, was recently renewed for the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 production. FHI plans to produce the Impreza at the same plant by March 2013.

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