Toyota: 2014 Land Cruiser Prado VX V6 review

May 13th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

toyota-land-cruiser-prado-2014-rear-quarterOne of those ads out there says that big is good. This Land Cruiser is so big that each one they build has a bottle of champagne cracked across its bow and is released from the factory down a slipway. Continue reading “Toyota: 2014 Land Cruiser Prado VX V6 review” »

Hyundai 2-litre ix35 Elite versus i30 2-litre Elite 2014 review

May 4th, 2014 by Robert Barry

DSC_0023Never a company to be caught on the back foot, Hyundai New Zealand launched a plethora of 2014 model year cars last November, and two of the most interesting were the new versions of the front-wheel-drive series II ix35 Elite SUV and i30 Elite hatchback with a new 2-litre direct injection petrol engine.

And even more interesting, was the price point, each currently retails at $43,990, so Car and SUV decided to evaluate which offers the better value for money or driving experience.

DSC_0026The 2-litre engine which powers the front-wheel-drive ix35 entry level and Elite models, produces 122kW of power and 205Nm of torque, while the 2-litre engine in the i30 hatch produces 129kW of power and 209Nm of torque.

For 2014 the front-wheel-drive ix35 received a significant makeover, and hence it now known as the series II, and the 2-Litre Elite test car pictured on this page arrived in a fetching shade called Atomic Orange.

As well as adding two more colours to the ix35 range, Pure DSC_0041White and Cobalt Coast, Hyundai gave the ix35 series II a new headlight treatment with new bi-function projection type headlamps, and two new alloy wheel designs while making metal-effect roof rails standard across the range.

Inside the Elite series II models not only benefitted from a rear seat reclining function offering increased comfort of occupants, and the Elite models also received new soft touch front and rear upper door trims to differentiate them from non Elite versions.

DSC_0038I previously felt the cabin plastics of the ix35 were a bit cheap looking, Hyundai obviously had received such comments from other customers and have installed a new centre console which looks a lot better, yet is still wholly functional.

Additionally the series II ix35 has a new audio system, with integrated factory Bluetooth audio and telephony as well as a new supervision cluster. Hooking up a mobile phone is done within seconds and the softer blue lighting of the supervision cluster is a nice change from white or red as used by other manufacturers.

But it is the on road behaviour that has noticeably improved, the series II ix35 has also been subject to suspension improvements from the engineers at Hyundai Motor Company Australia in conjunction with their Korean based colleagues.

The series II ix35 has been fitted with the Mando suspension system as well as a re-calibrated electric power steering system (with three modes, normal, comfort and sport) which has sharpened up the steering response, as well as providing improved handling around corners and a far better ride quality overall.

You will occasionally feel lumps and bumps more sharply, but the trade off is that the car and driver feel more connected to the road than before, and the body control of this vehicle is far better.

Additionally the six-speed automatic transmission has also been fettled by the engineers and is now far more decisive and intuitive to change up or down on steep gradients than it was before.

Being an Elite grade model means the front-wheel-drive 2-litre ix35 enjoys the same level of specification as its larger engine all-wheel-drive siblings. Push button start, dual zone climate control, proximity key, heated front seats. reversing camera and sensors, electric folding external mirrors, and steering wheel mounted controls are standard features.

Boot capacity remains generous with 465 litres (VDA) with the rear seats in place and 1436 litres with the rear seats folded down.

There is more than enough room for mum and four soccer players plus all their gear in the ix35 Elite and the wonderful thing about leather seats is just how easily they wipe clean after carrying dirty, damp teenagers. A hot damp cloth is all that is needed to keep this interior looking pristine.

DSC_0067But if the series II ix35 2-litre Elite  is still a bit too soccer mum and practical for your tastes, then may we introduce the new 2-litre GDI i30 Elite hatch which also retails for $43,990.

Sitting at the top of the i30 line, the 2-litre GDI Elite hatch is differentiated from the 1.6-litre turbo diesel and 1.8-litre petrol hatches by a unique 17-inch alloy wheels and daytime running lights.

The 2-litre i30 is solely available as an Elite variant with a DSC_0072six-speed automatic transmission, and its GDI engine has been uprated to 129kW of power, which is amongst the highest in this competitive segment.

While the specification is very similar to the ix35 Elite, the i30 Elite hatch also receives satellite navigation with a 7 inch touch screen, and it too has received the Mando suspension upgrade which provides shaper response and a more involving drive.

Ride quality over most surfaces is pretty good, the DSC_0103suspension does a good job of insulating cabin occupants from discomfort, and at motorway speed this car is a quiet and comfortable cruiser that will happily tackle long distance runs.

Naturally because if its smaller dimensions the 2-litre GDI i30 Elite does feel a lot nimbler and sportier on the road than the ix35, but in fairness it’s a quite a different animal entirely, and we feel aimed at a much different audience.

Locally the C-segment hatch market is littered with some DSC_0104very well specified, and well priced competitors such as the Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Golf, Mazda3, Holden Cruze, Kia Cerato, Honda Civic, Subaru Impreza, Peugeot 308, and Citroen C4.

To make a statement against such competition, you need to have a really well specified and competitive offer, and we feel the i30 Elite more than warrants placing on the shopping list. Its the little touches such as the dinky wee electric parking brake, the reversing camera that pops out behind the H badge on the tailgate, and the multi-setting seat heaters that just make living with this car more and more enjoyable on a daily basis.

Not to mention that the car will sense the proximity key in your pocket as you approach it and will fold out it mirrors and turn on the puddle lamps for you. It might seem twee, but on a cold and wet morning its a nice touch.

In summary we felt while the i30 was by far the more involving car for a driver, in terms of value for money, none of the two cars bettered each other, and the choice between the two Elite models will come down to how well each suits the lifestyle and needs of the buyer.

Price $43,990

Pros

  • Well priced and well specified vehicles
  • i30 is a delight to throw around a winding road
  • ix35 is a great load carrier

Cons

  • Factory tyre choice could be better
  • Styling has become a little bit “me too”
  • Will the Hyundai name have enough cachet amongst the neighbour?

Words and pictures: Robert Barry

 

 

Road Tests / Car Reviews: BMW X5 M50d 2014

April 21st, 2014 by Robert Barry

DSC_0066For those people who wanted to buy a large luxury SUV (or SAV in BMW parlance), the biggest conundrum was did they plump for the diesel version or the petrol version.

Obviously at this end of the luxury market paying for fuel was not necessarily a large consideration for buyers, it was more about which fuel suited their lifestyle and vehicle use. Continue reading “Road Tests / Car Reviews: BMW X5 M50d 2014” »

Road Tests/Car Reviews: 2014 Range Rover Sport SDV8

April 15th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

range-rover-sdv8-2014-front The Range Rover Sport is a sleeker, meaner entry point into the Range Rover experience. When you want a Range Rover with all the frills, but you want it forty grand cheaper than an actual Range Rover, the Sport fills that gap.

Continue reading “Road Tests/Car Reviews: 2014 Range Rover Sport SDV8” »

Range Rover Evoque TD4 Black Design Edition 2014 Review

March 12th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

Hoi polloi: it’s the Ancient Greek word for the commoners, plebeians and the great unwashed. When you drive an Evoque Black Design Edition, you’ve elevated yourself above this, yet you still have credibility because it’s got the Land Rover badge which is a bastion of workhorse utility. But it’s not your typical boxy Land Rover you’d drive with a peak cap and a Swanndri. This is the Duchess of Cambridge: she’s got the cocktail dress, but you know there’s a pair of wellies in the boot.

range-rover-evoque-td4-dynamic-2014-rear-quarterAs you get comfortable with being one of the hoi oligoi – the few – you’ll need the ability to circumnavigate your dominion, and fortunately the Evoque comes with some off-road smarts to get you to all four corners. Continue reading “Range Rover Evoque TD4 Black Design Edition 2014 Review” »

Land Rover Discovery 4 Black Limited Edition 2013 Review

February 20th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

land-rover-discovery-4-black-front-quarter

At $130,250 I’m as likely to go roving over the land as I am to wear my favourite business shirt while doing judo. However, with the limited off-roading I dare do in the Discovery 4 Black, which consisted of a verified ‘safe’ bit of beach and some fairly non-challenging rocks, I can confirm that it has abilities that normal cars don’t have on terrain that will throw you around and pin you to the mat.

land-rover-discovery-4-black-front-interiorFive Terrain Response modes help the air suspension adapt to the requirements. Leave it in the standard mode and you’ll get through most obstacles, but there are options for low gear ratios, raising the suspension up to 125mm for a total of 310mm for extreme off-road, and lowering it by 50mm to allow easier entry for passengers. Bashing through the rocks? Put it in the rock crawl mode which gives lighter braking. In ruts and mud? Put it in the mud mode for better ground clearance. On the beach? Put it in sand mode to give better launch control to stop you digging yourself a hole. Continue reading “Land Rover Discovery 4 Black Limited Edition 2013 Review” »

Nissan Pathfinder Ti AWD 2014 Review

January 21st, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

Nissan’s seven-seat Pathfinder Ti comes with all-wheel drive to get the 190kW and 325Nm of power from the 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine via the CVT gearbox to the ground. It’s a big beast, and you can tow 2700kg on a braked trailer, which gives plenty of options for the large family to have large adventures.

nissan-pathfinder-ti-2014-sidenissan-pathfinder-ti-2014-rear-quarterAt just over 5m long, just under 2m wide and almost 1.8m tall you should check it will fit in your garage or parking space. But what that means is that inside the Pathfinder it is spacious and comfortable. It feels large to drive, though, with steering inputs seemingly delayed a fraction until the beast responds – something that many SUVs suffer from, and this one is two tonnes, so has some weight that can shift arround.  The driving position itself is commanding. There is excellent forward visibility. Continue reading “Nissan Pathfinder Ti AWD 2014 Review” »

Hyundai ix35 2.4 Elite AWD Series II 2014 Review

December 28th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

The time to update the ix35 arrived a little before this new model. We last had an ix35 back in 2010 and since then the crossover challengers upped their game and the ix35 slipped down the rankings in terms of its competitiveness. We noted the strong engine, sharp styling, economy and equipment levels in the review (which you can read here), so how does this update treat the ix35?

hyundai-ix35-2.4-elite-awd-rear-quarterThe styling hasn’t changed significantly – headlights and alloys, both with more modern detailing, plus new colour options and roof rails – so you won’t notice much difference. Hyundai is working on colours that are branding statements themselves and you can have yours in Atomic Orange, Remington Red and a few other more muted tones.

The ix35’s styling has aged well in its short lifetime, and all that was needed was a freshen up. And so we have this model which is essentially a facelift.

hyundai-ix35-2.4-elite-awd-front-interiorOn the inside there’s a slightly larger LCD between the rev counter and speedometer which shows the trip computer. The steering wheel features a couple of buttons for answering a Bluetooth-connected phone, plus a button to change the steering feeling to one of three modes (Flexsteer) – something that helps fix the vague steering we noted in the previous review. The rest of the interior is virtually identical.

The new audio system will stream audio via Bluetooth, and you can plug your phone in as well as use more conventional audio sources. Continue reading “Hyundai ix35 2.4 Elite AWD Series II 2014 Review” »

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