Toyota Hilux 3-litre diesel 4×4 2011 Review

November 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Always check if something doesn’t feel right. It’s a lesson I had a gentle reminder of when I took the new Hilux to the in-laws’ farm on the Coromandel Peninsula. I’ve driven various models of Hilux before and they’ve always been accomplished, reliable utes, so the snap oversteer at low speed in the wet coming up the winding hill on Auckland’s Domain was a bit of a surprise. The traction control deftly reined it in a fraction quicker than I could apply opposite lock – that was unusual as we were only doing 20-25kph.

The second reminder was that on the open road the Hilux was ‘jiggly’…overly so. But I put this down to it being a ute with nothing in that back, and that if there was half a ton of hay and sheep in there it would settle the suspension down. Driving up the Thames coast wasn’t particularly pleasant at times, but you wouldn’t expect the Hilux to be a demon in the corners.

Once at the farm, which has some nice steep tracks, we decided to do a bit of light off-roading, even though the supplied tyres are barely mud oriented – really just chunky road tyres. Some light rain that had passed over the hard-packed clay soon made the going treacherous and we hit a small drainage rut that slid the Hilux sideways towards a stand of manuka that, while sparing us from dropping down a steep bank, wouldn’t have made the paintwork that flash.

I made the executive decision that we should probably stop at that point, as my significant other (who grew up on the farm) knew that the track got worse further on, and we were having small moments of being out of control.

As there was nowhere to turn around, reversing 150m back up the track was the only option. Except that putting it in reverse yielded zero grip and saw us edging perilously sideways towards the trees. “I’m letting some air out of the tyres,” I said, secretly hoping that the embarrassment of having to be pulled out by the family’s digger like one previous visitor who lost his ute down a bank wouldn’t become a reality. Continue reading “Toyota Hilux 3-litre diesel 4×4 2011 Review” »

Toyota to sell hydrogen-powered car by 2015

November 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota brought hybrid motoring to the masses with its Prius and other car makers are still in the process of catching up. But emission regulations are getting tougher and now, even Toyota is seeking out ways to offer even “greener” cars.

All-electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf are an option for eco conscious buyers. But Toyota is looking further into the future and plans to  launch a new fuel cell model in Europe by 2015.

Many of the major carmakers have dabbled in hydrogen-powered cars building fuel-cell concepts and prototypes. It was Honda that has come closest so far by launching the FCX Clarity in 2008 – but it’s only available for lease for a limited number of customers.

Toyota’s zero-emissions hydrogen car will apparently be sold to customers in four years’ time but in limited numbers. Not surprisingly the research and development on hydrogen power doesn’t come cheap and these cars will come with a high price tag. Continue reading “Toyota to sell hydrogen-powered car by 2015” »

Subaru reveals BRZ STI Concept Coupe

November 2nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Performance car fans have been waiting to see it for months and finally the first images of the Subaru BRZ Concept have been released before its world premiere at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show on November 16.

In STI-badged concept form these images show a concept vehicle which has much of the styling predicted for the upcoming BRZ coupe. Both the BRZ and its development brother the Toyota FT-86 will be shown in production form at the Tokyo Motor Show next month.

Subaru isn’t saying much about specifications but has stated that the BRZ will have a very low centre of gravity and be a “pure handling delight.” The naturally aspirated 2.0-litre flat-four engine is expected to produce over 150kW and be linked to a 6-speed manual gearbox, and possibly, a 6-speed automatic transmission driving the rear wheels. Continue reading “Subaru reveals BRZ STI Concept Coupe” »

Subaru BRZ rumoured to have more power than Toyota FT-86 brother

October 27th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The joint development of a lightweight sports coupe between Subaru and Toyota has provided much rumour and speculation. While Toyota has shown its hand at every opportunity with its FT-86 concepts, much little is known about Subaru’s mysterious BRZ. But with both cars set for world premiers at next month’s Tokyo Motor Show, interest has reached fever pitch.

Up until now, Toyota has tantalized us with three versions of its RWD coupe, while Subaru has revealing only a transparent concept in Geneva and Frankfurt with very little details.

Now Subaru, which has performed most of the engineering work providing the 2.0-litre flat-four engine that will power both cars, has revealed some very interesting facts in a recent interview. Continue reading “Subaru BRZ rumoured to have more power than Toyota FT-86 brother” »

2012 Toyota Yaris launches into NZ market

October 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota has launched the all new Yaris hatchback into the NZ market, with reworked styling, improved performance and new equipment.

Toyota New Zealand’s Neeraj Lala said “This is an exciting time for Toyota – the launch of our best ever small car. Following on from the success of the current Yaris, and the Echo before it, we’re offering New Zealander’s the best combination of design and value in a city-sized package.”

“Small vehicles make up around 13 per cent of the New Zealand new vehicle market, attracting cost-conscious buyers and those moving away from larger vehicles. We’re confident that this new Yaris will appeal to a broader range of drivers with its blend of value for money features and Toyota’s innovative packaging.”

This new generation Yaris offers a more gender-neutral look in terms of styling. More efficient design sees Yaris gain interior space without sacrificing its compact exterior. Continue reading “2012 Toyota Yaris launches into NZ market” »

Toyota Hilux team sets record South Pole crossing

October 19th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It happened in December of 2010 but just this week Guinness World Records has recognised a new world record for the fastest overland journey to the South Pole.

Last year two modified Toyota Hilux trucks travelled 2,307 kilometers across the Antarctic High Plateau in 108 hours. Sounds pretty easy, right? Wrong, the average speed for the tough trip was just 21km/h which gives an indication of the extreme conditions the drivers had to deal with.

The expedition was organized by the Kazakhstan National Geographic Society and The Antarctica Company, and the crew was four strong. It included Konstantin Orlov and Stanislav Makarenko from KNGS, Andrey Myller from TAC, and Hlynur Sigurdsson from Arctic Trucks – the off-road tuning company that built the vehicles. Continue reading “Toyota Hilux team sets record South Pole crossing” »

Toyota building hybrid LMP1 racer for Le Mans assault

October 17th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota has been the front runner in hybrid-powered passenger vehicles for many years and is now setting its sights on hybrid race car domination. The company’s racing division, Toyota Motorsport, announced today that it will enter the 2012 World Endurance Championship with a new hybrid weapon.

The last time Toyota competed in Le Mans racing was in 1999, before the Japanese automaker abandoned its GT-One program to focus on Formula One.

Now, Toyota is busy developing a brand-new, gasoline-electric hybrid racer that will compete in the top LMP1 class. The chassis is in development with Toyota Motorsport at its Cologne, Germany headquarters, which previously served as the Formula 1 base. The prototype race car’s hybrid powertrain will be engineered in Japan. Continue reading “Toyota building hybrid LMP1 racer for Le Mans assault” »

Toyota Corolla takes back No.1 sales spot in NZ

October 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Toyota Corolla has taken back the number one sales spot on the NZ national sales charts, both for the month of September and year to date. The Corolla has faced stiff competition this year from the new 2011 Suzuki Swift and the pair have dueled it out for total sales supremacy.

Official data for the month of September shows Corolla outsold all other passenger and commercial vehicles, and Toyota’s Hilux ute took a strong second place. It was a very strong month for Toyota with four vehicles in the sales top 10 – the others being the Highlander SUV and the Hiace van.

Steve Prangnell, general manager Sales and Operations, said the sales figures reflect the full recovery of Toyota’s international supply chain, which slowed for several months after Japan’s earthquake and tsunami. “To have Hilux at the top of the overall year to date table, and Corolla a strong second, is incredibly pleasing. It shows Kiwis trust the Toyota brand and keep turning to the vehicles they know and love.” Continue reading “Toyota Corolla takes back No.1 sales spot in NZ” »