Try A Jimny, You’ll Be Converted

April 1st, 2011 by Tim Grimley

It is with some enthusiasm that I watch the new craze of hand-wringing that is sweeping the country in the build-up to RWC 2011. Will the waterfront look nice? Is party central going to be a) up to standard or b) even up in the first place? How will our transport infrastructure deal with the influx of egg-chasing fanatics trying to access Eden Park? People have become so fixated on the potential banana skins waiting to slip up the whole shooting match that they’ve forgotten to ask the most important question of all.

Does it really matter?

Barring a few overly precious journalists and merchant bankers complete with trophy wives who will be frequenting the corporate boxes, do rugby fans give a stuff about the window dressing that everyone else seems in such a tizz over?

Steve wasn't too happy about handing over the keys to the Jimny

Speaking as a Pom who has for many years occupied the terrace at Leicester Tigers – arguably the biggest rugby club in England in every way – the answer is “probably not”. Despite the clubs’ status it still has stands made from wood and scaffolding, comes with bugger all in the way of parking facilities and offers no food more glamorous than chicken tikka massala pie; absolutely none of which stops people showing up in their droves for every single game.

I suspect you could upholster each seat with barbed wire and greet supporters with a punch in the face and there would still be queues on match days. The simple draw of having a few beers and a good laugh with some mates whilst watching top class rugby (please remember that we from the northern hemisphere still appreciate the noble arts of rolling mauls) is what really appeals – anything beyond that is rather unnecessary.

And come November, when all is done and dusted, while a few hacks may be cooing over the canapés or bitching about  transport, the majority of stories will be coming from the fans regaling their friends with tales of all the interesting people they met, watched rugby and got drunk with. Which begs the question, why spend millions on redeveloping the waterfront when, if you want people to have a really good time, you could simply hire enough marquees to turn the main street in Kingsland into an Oktoberfest-style beer tent and be done with it? Flamboyant extravagance is all very well, but what people really get their teeth into is a bit of good old fashioned, back to basics fun. Continue reading “Try A Jimny, You’ll Be Converted” »

Suzuki to unveil two new models at New York show

March 30th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Suzuki Kizashi has been a success in the NZ market with steady sales and various automotive awards, but it hasn’t been as well received in all markets. Now, in a bid to renew interest and give the Kizashi fresh hype, Suzuki has announced it will be taking it “to the next level” at the New York Auto Show.

What does that mean? Well no one really knows yet but Suzuki will take two new concept models to next month’s New York show. No details have been released yet but many suspect Suzuki will reveal a production version of its Kizashi Turbo concept car which was first shown last year.

This special concept featured a turbocharged 2.4-liter engine that produced 179kW of power and 330Nm of torque. The concept car got special treatment like a boot-mounted spoiler, a revised suspension set-up and 19-inch Enkei alloy wheels. If the turbo concept does go into production it will be a smooth move for Suzuki because a high-performance Kizashi would help build appeal for the whole range. Continue reading “Suzuki to unveil two new models at New York show” »

New model Suzuki Swift already dominating NZ car sales

March 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The new generation Suzuki Swift has only been on sale in New Zealand for one month but has already snatched the top sales spot.

Launched on February 5, the latest Suzuki hatch matched the top selling position of its predecessor by being the most favoured new car choice among Kiwi buyers.

“New car buyers – particularly private motorists – have voted with their wallets,” said Tom Peck, General Manager of Marketing for Suzuki New Zealand. “Consumers have realised the good value package presented by the new Swift with its better economy and the fact that it is recognised by Euro NCAP testing as one of the safest cars in the world,” he said.

Suzuki took 9.7 per cent of the total new passenger car market, a record high for the franchise. At the same time, Suzuki was third best selling new car make for the month, its highest ranking yet.

“Swift has been the number one selling car to private buyers in New Zealand since 2008 and for the last six years has been the nation’s favourite small car,” said Mr Peck. “We are delighted with the early sales performance of the new model which is more than living up to the reputation of the highly successful out-going version.”

A total of 351 new Swifts went onto local roads in February, according to the official figures from the Motor Trade Association. The next best sellers were the Hyundai i30 (310), Toyota Corolla (212) and Holden Commodore (191).

The local sales achievement came within days of Suzuki Motor Corporation announcing the two million sales milestone had been reached by the Swift, six years and three months after the introduction of the model. Continue reading “New model Suzuki Swift already dominating NZ car sales” »

Suzuki Swift S-Concept paves way for 2012 Swift Sport

March 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

With the new generation Suzuki Swift recently reaching our shores many were left asking when we will see the new Swift Sport. That question has been partially answered this week with Suzuki releasing its Swift S-Concept at the Geneva Motor Show.

At this stage the S-Concept is being described as a design study and Suzuki has given very little away in terms of technical details. However expect many of the design cues on the concept to find their way through to the next Swift Sport.

Suzuki added just the right amount of sporty styling under that garish yellow paintwork, such as revised fascias, new lights, a large rear wing and fifteen-spoke 18-inch alloys wrapped around beefy 225/45 R18 tyres. Inside, there’s Recaro sport buckets and seating for four accented by carbon fibre trim. All up, it’s not a bad looking hot hatch, at all.

Nothing official has been released about what will be hiding under the bonnet of the next Swift Sport but power for the concept is provided by a 1.6 litre four-cylinder engine, mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Output for the engine was not revealed, although it is likely a version of the 92kW four-cylinder M16A engine used in the current Swift Sport.

In Japan, the regular 2011 Swift is powered by a choice of 1.2 petrol and 1.3 litre diesel engines, producing 70kW and 52kW respectively. But the Swifts we get in NZ are powered by a new 1.4 litre engine, delivering 70kW and 130Nm of torque. Continue reading “Suzuki Swift S-Concept paves way for 2012 Swift Sport” »

New Suzuki Swift Sport being added to updated range

February 10th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

With the release of the new generation Swift there has been a lot of speculation on weather Suzuki will indulge fans with a genuine sports version of the popular model. Now according to reports coming out of Suzuki there will be a 2012 Swift Sport and it will have a more powerful engine than the rest of the range.

What is unclear is what the engine will be, it could possibly be a re-tuned version current Swift Sport’s M16A 1.6-litre motor that produces 92kW or even an entirely new engine.

A turbocharged or supercharged powerplant seems unlikely, but with the new Swift having downsizing to a 1.4 litre powerplant, a reworked version of the old Swift’s 1.5 litre M15A inline four is also possible.

The new Swift Sport will ride on a firmer suspension set- up and feature stiffer springs. So expect lively driving dynamics. Suzuki’s engineers are also looking at keeping weight down, but the new next-generation Swift Sport is not expected to save any weight on the outgoing RS Swift Sport. Continue reading “New Suzuki Swift Sport being added to updated range” »

All-new 2011 Suzuki Swift goes on sale in NZ

February 4th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Suzuki Swift has been New Zealand’s top selling small car for more than six years now and for 2011 it’s received a comprehensive make-over.

While the new model Suzuki Swift changes from the wheels up, it is a clear evolution of its highly successful predecessor. Changes to the exterior design are subtle making for an instantly recognisable vehicle but the fifth generation Swift may be more different to drive than to look at.

Apparently, there’s more usable interior space, improved ride and handling, benefits in fuel economy and higher levels of safety for the new 1.4-litre Swift five-door hatchback.

“Remarkably, while the new model is larger than before and has higher levels of equipment, it actually weighs less,” said Bill Grice, chief executive officer for Suzuki New Zealand. “Suzuki’s most highly acclaimed world car takes another step forward to secure its continued popularity, especially in New Zealand where the model has been an on-going hit,” he said.

Code named AZH414, the latest Swift is 3,850 mm long – a 90 mm increase on the outgoing RS415 model. The wheelbase is up 40 mm to 2,430 mm, body width increases only slightly to 1,695 mm, and overall height rises 10 mm to 1,510 mm. Continue reading “All-new 2011 Suzuki Swift goes on sale in NZ” »

Stability control now standard on all new NZ Suzuki cars

January 28th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Suzuki NZ has just taken a step up the safety ladder with the announcement that electronic stability control will be fitted on all its new passenger car models sold in New Zealand.

The technology, is now standard specification across the Suzuki range, from the least costly Alto hatchback to the most expensive Kizashi executive sedan.

“We are delighted this potentially life-saving feature is included in all our new cars,” said Tom Peck, General Manager of Marketing for Suzuki New Zealand. “ESP is the most important step forward in motor vehicle occupant safety since the seat belt and we have made it our mantra for it to be available to more New Zealand motorists,” he said.

Arrival of the all-new sixth generation Suzuki Swift with standard ESP on each variant has completed the availability of the safety technology on all passenger models marketed by the brand.

According to several international safety agencies, one-third of fatal road accidents could have been prevented by ESP. From September this year, ESP will be mandatory on all new cars sold in the United States. It will also be a requirement in Australia by November 2013, and in Europe by 2014.

The technology features a series of sensors mounted at each wheel, on the steering wheels and in the centre of the car. These sensors constantly measure information at the rate of 50 times a second.

When understeer or oversteer is detected, ESP reduces engine torque and applies hydraulic pressure at the target wheel to ensure smooth, safe driving. Continue reading “Stability control now standard on all new NZ Suzuki cars” »

Suzuki Swift tops NZ hatchback sales race for sixth year

January 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Suzuki Swift has romped ahead in the New Zealand new car sales race for the sixth successive year. NZ’s love affair with the Swift seems far from over with the small hatch posting a 17 per cent sales gain over the previous year while total Suzuki car sales increased by 14 per cent.

Still going strong even after six years, the fifth generation Swift hatchback is the most successful Suzuki passenger car model ever sold in New Zealand. Last year it was a key factor in Suzuki increasing its total new car sales by 22 per cent to a record market penetration of 7.1 per cent.

Suzuki sold 4,411 cars in 2010 compared with 3,612 in 2009 and maintained its position as the sixth best selling passenger franchise. Not only did the European inspired Swift outsell all other super-mini cars last year, it was second overall to the Toyota Corolla in all model sales.

“In a tough private buyer market the popularity of the Swift and the benefits of Suzuki’s real value pricing policy shone through to consumers” said Tom Peck, General Manager of Marketing for Suzuki New Zealand.

Amazingly, more than 20,000 examples of the current generation Swift are now on New Zealand roads. Continue reading “Suzuki Swift tops NZ hatchback sales race for sixth year” »