October 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
In the past decade Audi has become a car-manufacturing powerhouse with entries into almost every motoring category. But for all its new models one of its most important and defining vehicles remains the A6. The executive cruiser now enters its seventh-generation and with lightweight construction, sleeker styling and extensive mechanical upgrades, is ready to resume its long fought battle with BMW’s 5-Series. Does the 2012 Audi A6 have the dynamic ability and first-class luxury appointments to dominate its high-end division? Car and SUV buckled into the driver’s chair of the new A6 TDI Quattro to find the answers.
A glance across the new A6 reveals an understated and smooth aesthetic that’s acutely awareness of its own bloodlines despite being a clean-sheet design. Following on from the A8 flagship and the A7 four-door coupe the new A6 embraces Audi’s corporate design language. The bold Audi gloss black grille sits prominent at the front and is flanked by frowning headlights and recessed fog lamps. Broad shoulders define the sides with chrome trim drawing the eye to an elegantly curved roofline. The rear features a subtle boot spoiler, wide two-piece taillights and twin chrome exhaust tips signaling performance intent. The clean and mean look is finished off with 18-inch V-spoke alloy wheels. There are no radical risks in the A6 exterior design, just a continuation of the conservatively muscular styling that works well for Audi and its legions of brand fans. Continue reading “Audi A6 TDI 2012 Review” »
August 5th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
In the sensible world of mid-size automobiles Volkswagen’s Passat has always been a quiet achiever. A competent journeyman that possesses all round ability but isn’t one to snatch at the limelight. The Passat has maintained this image for 38 years and seven generations. It’s proved a successful tactic too, with more than 15 million Passats being sold globally, making it the 11th biggest selling nameplate in history. Not bad for the quiet kid, but it might not be enough anymore. The Passat is beginning to exhibit some more extroverted tendencies. First there was the go-hard Passat R36 model released in 2008 and then the Passat CC (Compact Coupe) gave the model a sleeker profile. Now for 2011 the Passat wagon/sedan has been reworked for its seventh generation with sharp new sheet metal, tweaked engines and more equipment. So will this latest Passat break the well-formed mold, or play to traditional strengths? Car and SUV took a week long test drive in a Passat TDI Wagon to find out more.
The most obvious visual change to the new Passat is the inclusion of VW’s latest corporate face. The chrome-edged grille is broad and blends into wrapped-back headlights to create a wider, lower look. The chrome work is repeated around the window line and under the front fog lamps and lower air dam. All the panels have been replaced in the new Passat and the result is a more angular and purposeful machine. The short front, creased flanks and higher rear end give the Passat an athletic stance. Detailing like a subtle rear spoiler, integrated roof rails and twin exhaust tips finish the modernised look nicely. The standard wheel fitment on our tested 4Motion Comfortline model are 17-inch alloys with 18-inch designs an available option. Continue reading “Volkswagen Passat TDI Wagon 2011 Review” »
July 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
For most kiwis looking to buy a comfortable and practical family wagon the name Skoda doesn’t immediately spring to mind. But why not? Is it because buyers are still stuck in the eighties when Skoda wore the brunt of naff jokes about quality? Or perhaps because folks know Skoda is European and worry about durability and value for money? Whatever the reason, for many wagon buyers the Skoda Superb isn’t even on their radar. But it damn well should be. Skoda’s med/large size wagon has many of its competitors beat in some key areas and build quality is certainly one of them. With a frugal diesel engine and a four-wheel-drive system the Superb can travel to remote locations and it won’t cost a lot to get there. So does this fringe player deserve a new place as a major force in the wagon market? Car and SUV thinks so, and after spending a week with the newest addition to the Superb range – the 4×4 Combi, we’re ready to tell you why.
It may not be the sexiest wagon to ever pick up the groceries, but the Superb has everyman elegance and a sleek low look despite its generous proportions. It’s nicely balanced for a wagon without too much rear overhang and a tightly tapered hatch that gives few hints to the expansive cargo space within. It has a neutral face with chrome trim surrounding the corporate grille and acting as teardrops under its wrap around headlights. Bright fog lamps flank a wide lower air intake and a scalloped bonnet line leads into the raked back windscreen. Continue reading “Skoda Superb TDI 4×4 Combi 2011 Review” »
May 19th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Us Kiwis are suckers for a nice station wagon and Audi has given us all something to admire in its sleek new 2012 A6 Avant. The latest estate model has just been revealed at an event in Berlin, Germany with photos and specs released.
The new A6 Avant is larger with improved interior space but is lighter and more fuel efficient. To achieve the weight-reduction over its predecessor the A6 body is now 20 percent aluminum and also uses a composite construction that integrates high-strength steel for safety. This new lightweight approach to construction means the new A6 wagon is up to 70kg lighter than the model it replaces depending on the powertrain installed. The base model A6 2.0 TDI Avant weighs 1,640kg.
The A6 Avant powertrain options include six engines and four transmissions for various global markets but don’t expect all of them to come to New Zealand. The entry-level engine is a 2.0-litre TDI turbo-diesel four-cylinder that produces 131kW, and achieves a fuel economy of just 5.0l/100km combined. There is a larger diesel mill on offer with a 3.0-litre displacement and twin-turbocharging, its available in various power outputs ranging from 152kW to 233kW. In its most powerful form the TDI motor will take the A6 Avant from 0-100km/hper hour in a mere 5.4 seconds. Continue reading “Audi officially reveals all-new 2012 A6 Avant” »
May 4th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Porsche has released specifications and a initial batch of images for its new Panamera Diesel model with news that it’s coming to NZ.
Under the bonnet of the newest Panamera variant is a specially tuned version of Porsche’s 3.0-litre V6 TDI engine. Power output is rated at 184 kW between 3,800 rpm and 4,400 rpm and there’s 550 Nm of torque on tap from 1,750 rpm to 2,750 rpm. Shifting gears is an eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission that turns the rear wheels. Performance figures are quoted at 6.8 seconds for the 0-100kph sprint and a top speed of 242 km/h. The new engine features various technological innovations, such as common rail direct injection through piezo valves, electrically controlled variable geometry turbochargers (VGTs), controlled exhaust gas recirculation, oxidation catalyst and particle filter.
The diesel variant will join the S Hybrid as the most fuel-efficient models in the Panamera range and with the help of a start/stop system achieves a fuel consumption figures of 6.5 l/100km combined. With an 80-litre fuel tank, the Panamera Diesel offers a theoretical driving range of 1200km from a full tank. An impressive result for performance focused large sedan. Continue reading “Porsche Panamera Diesel arriving in NZ this September” »
November 19th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham
Volkswagen has launched its completely redeveloped Touareg into the New Zealand market with a special event held this week.
The 2011 Touareg is coming out swinging into the competitive luxury SUV market with an updated range of engines that are up to 25 percent more fuel efficient. There’s also some clever new driver assistance and safety systems. The Touareg V6 TDI with 7.4 litre combined fuel consumption now posts among the best value in the segment.
The new standard model Touareg was lightened by over 200 kgs, but has greater torsional rigidity and is built lower to the ground with improved aerodynamics. Together with front end styling based on the new Volkswagen family face, this results in a smaller frontal area. All engines are now offered with a standard 8-speed automatic transmission.
The V6 TDI models feature VolkswagenŸs BlueMotion Technologies — which include a revolutionary start-stop system that automatically shuts off the engine when the car is stationary, a regenerative braking system which recycles braking energy and low friction tyres.
Also modified in pursuit of reduced fuel consumption was the standard all-wheel drive system. All new generation Touaregs have all-wheel drive (“4Motion”) with a Torsen limited-slip differential. The Touareg also has an “Off-road driving programme”, which – at the press of a button – tunes the ABS, EDS and ASR for off-road duty, activates Hill Descent Assist and adjusts the automatic gearshift points. The V6 TDI can also be ordered with an optional “Terrain Technology” package that includes a traditional transfer case designed for off-road duty. It includes reduction gearing and centre and rear differentials, each with up to 100 percent locking.
Continue reading “New 2011 Volkswagen Touareg now available in New Zealand” »
June 7th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham
Why don’t we have Yetis in New Zealand? That’s a question seldom asked here. I mean we have enough crazy people to see them and it was Sir Ed Hillary that first climbed the highest peak in their native Himalayan region, surely he could have organised safe passage for at least one. But we still don’t have any Yetis¦ until now.
Skoda has come to the rescue and made its new Yeti crossover vehicle available to all curious kiwis. So is this latest product from the world’s most underrated automaker really a dynamically competent, uniquely styled and keenly priced specimen? Or is that just fantasy? Car and SUV tracked down one of NZ’s very first Yetis to find out more.
At first glance the Yeti is distinctive and modern but probably won’t scare anyone. Its nose is the Skoda corporate grille that sits between uniquely designed headlight clusters. Character lines crease the bonnet and a colour-coded B-pillar breaks up the wraparound glass house. It’s neutral in stance and is fairly restrained but still displays soft roader styling cues like enlarged wheel arches, black plastic protective skirting, integrated roof rails and nudge plates front and rear. The rugged yet refined look is finished off with 5-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels. Overall, it’s a well-defined vehicle, while it won’t suit all tastes, it’s square back, chunky bumpers and four-eyed face have an unorthodox charm.
Continue reading “Skoda Yeti 2010 Review” »
January 18th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham
Volkswagen has won the Dakar Rally for the second time in succession and including 1980 for a third time. After a ‘showdown in blue’ the Volkswagen duos and their TDI powered Race Touareg prototypes celebrated a one-two-three podium lockout at the finish of the toughest challenge in motorsport. In the process, Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz triumphed by only 2 minutes 12 seconds ahead of his team mates Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk in a thrilling finale on the closing 202 kilometre sprint on the 14th and final rally day. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford claimed third position. Last year’s winners Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz finished seventh.
VW remains the only manufacturer to have won the car category of the Dakar Rally with diesel power. TDI technology was already dominant in 2009 in Argentina and Chile. In addition to the efficiency of the Volkswagen Group’s diesel direct injection technology the Race Touareg’s reliability was the key to the 2010 “Dakar” victory: Despite the extreme demands the powerful 300 hp Race Touareg proved to be not only the most robust, but also the fastest vehicle: Seven of 14 possible stage victories and eleven days in the lead were credited to the four-wheel drive racers from Wolfsburg.
The result of the rally kept observers and fans alike on tenterhooks up to the finish line: Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz, Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk and Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford led in this order since the fifth Dakar Rally stage. However, at no point did any driver duo have an unassailable lead. In a strong final burst Al-Attiyah/Gottschalk edged ever closer, repeatedly taking seconds from their Volkswagen team mates Sainz/Cruz and, in doing so, staged a hard but fair duel for the leading position. The Qatari/German duo made up ground specifically in the dune sections — which once again formed one of the “Dakar’s” core elements — while the Spanish duo Sainz/Cruz controlled proceedings on the fast, twisty gravel sections.
As varied as the fight in the overall standings was — two stage wins went to Sainz/Cruz, four to Al-Attiyah/Gottschalk, one to Miller/Pitchford. So challenging proved the 32nd running of the Dakar Rally: In addition to the varied stages across soft, in part powder-like sand and through towering and endless dune fields of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile there were also gravel sections and tracks through enormous boulder fields on the agenda. The multi-faceted acid test with its terrain changing several times a day, two Andes crossings, passages through the world’s driest desert, the Atacama, as well as parts of the legendary Pampa.
For the new “Dakar” champions Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz a winning streak continued in front of millions of fans lining the daily stages in Argentina and Chile. As newly formed duo in the Volkswagen Race Touareg the Spanish pair remained unbeaten in their third competition together and secured a new superlative in “Dakar” history: Never before have two Spaniards won the legendary desert rally’s automobile category.