Toyota’s Top to Bottom NZ off-road adventure reaches the Bluff

June 2nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota NZ’s FJ Cruiser ‘Top to Bottom’ off-road adventure reached the Bluff on Monday, concluding the adventure for Marc Ellis and his support crew. The special journey was part of 60th Anniversary celebrations for Toyota’s iconic Land Rover and included two weeks trawling over 4,980 kilometres of rugged off road country.

In typical Land Cruiser fashion the new, retro-inspired vehicle survived in good nick, except for a healthy caking of mud, a cracked windscreen, one blown tyre, and a some dog wee where the farm dogs from Molesworth Station got a bit over excited as they checked out the inside of the FJ Cruiser.

The off-road challenge, with Marc Ellis at the helm of a specially fitted-out new FJ Cruiser, restarted on 15 May at Puhoi, north of Auckland, and journeyed through Waikato, King Country, Taranaki, Wairarapa, Wellington, Marlborough, Canterbury, and Otago. Continue reading “Toyota’s Top to Bottom NZ off-road adventure reaches the Bluff” »

New Mazda RX-9 could use Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain

May 26th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda’s next rotary powered machine is often the subject of rumour and speculation with claims that the RX-Series of vehicles may end with the RX-8. But fresh reports are suggesting that there will be an RX-9 and what’s more, it will use a hybrid drivetrain borrowed from Toyota.

These latest rumours have some weight behind them because last year an agreement was signed between Mazda and Toyota that would have the Zoom-Zoom company licensing the same hybrid tech that powers the Prius. Back then, Mazda announced that its first hybrid vehicle would reach the market in 2013. But nobody really thought it would come in the form of an RX-9.

Naturally a rotary engine will still spin under the vehicle’s bonnet, but it will likely take on a low-powered form with the hybrid system adding extra grunt. Doesn’t sound so flash right? Well not when you consider the rotary motor’s traditional design flaws of weak torque at low rpm, leaky seals and high fuel consumption. If the borrowed hybrid system can solve these issues it may be what saves the rotary engine from production car extinction. Continue reading “New Mazda RX-9 could use Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain” »

Toyota Hilux SR5 2011 Review

May 24th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota’s long-serving Hilux ute is a bit of a legend really. Not just for its ongoing sales success but also for the stories of ridiculous robustness and unlikely war zone application. Crossing the Sahara desert without a drop of oil or having surface-to-air missiles launched off their decks, some Hiluxs certainly have to earn their reputation.  But the Hilux’s battles aren’t just fought by militias in Africa or the Middle East it’s caught up in a war right here in NZ. The dominance of Toyota’s pickup is no longer total, it faces threats from all sides, the torque thumping Nissan Navara, Great Wall’s low rent V240 and the slick VW Amarok.

How can the Hilux best arm itself for the challenges ahead?

With a new safety package on its top spec SR5 model double cab, that’s how. Sure, it’s not as exciting as another 50Nm of torque from its diesel mill or some fierce new exterior styling but safety upgrades extend the Hilux’s appeal as a true work/play proposition. It’s also reason enough for Car and SUV to get back behind the wheel of a Hilux and revisit this ageing superpower of the ute segment. Continue reading “Toyota Hilux SR5 2011 Review” »

Toyota’s larger Prius V goes on sale in Japan

May 17th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Despite severe production and supply issues after the Japanese earthquake/tsunami disaster Toyota has just put its Prius V on sale in its domestic market.

The second model in Toyota’s growing Prius range will be sold in Japan as the Prius Alpha. The new Prius V is based on the current third-generation Prius but is a larger vehicle and will be sold with seven- and five-seating capacities. It also features a much more advanced lithium-ion battery pack. Even in five-seater form, the Prius V offers an impressive 60 percent more luggage capacity than the standard Prius. It also is longer and higher which means extra head and legroom for passengers.

Mechanically the Prius V differs little from the standard model using the same 1.8 litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine matched with an electric motor. Power output for the petrol engine is rated at 73kW and 142Nm, with the electric motor chipping in another 60kW and 207Nm of torque. Continue reading “Toyota’s larger Prius V goes on sale in Japan” »

Toyota’s profits drop 77% after Japan earthquake

May 12th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Like all Japanese carmakers, Toyota has been severely affected by the March 11 earthquake that saw huge damage and loss of life in Japan.

Despite plant shutdowns the world’s largest carmaker still announced profits of $314 million USD for the first three months of 2011, down 77 percent versus the same period in 2010. The $314 million profit is only a fourth of what analysts were expecting Toyota to make. With very low sales through the quarter, profits have been affected as a result.

While the announcement is disappointing for Toyota, things are set to get worse with even lower numbers expected for the period through to June. Supply issues are still hurting Toyota, with many plants running at only 50-percent capacity and some not running at all. These supply issues will see less stock being shipped to big markets like the U.S. and China which will lead to much lower revenue.

Toyota is fighting hard and says that production should ramp up to 70 percent of capacity by June, which is ahead of previous estimates. Continue reading “Toyota’s profits drop 77% after Japan earthquake” »

Suzuki Swift dominates NZ new car sales in April

May 10th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Suzuki Swift, is re-establishing its dominance as the top selling passenger vehicle in the New Zealand market. The Swift was the number one new car choice in April, according to Motor Industry Association figures, with total sales 66 per cent ahead of its nearest rival – the Toyota Corolla.

A new version of the Swift was launched in New Zealand in February and has reignited the strong sales figures achieved by its predecessor in the last six years. In year to date sales, the Swift is still running second overall to the Toyota Corolla.

“Total new car sales in New Zealand for the opening third of this year are up by 11 per cent but the average sales rate for new Swifts is 29 per cent higher,” said Tom Peck, general manager of marketing for Suzuki New Zealand.

“Swift has a well established history in our country dating back 27 years. However, it was the arrival of the fifth generation model in 2005 that really saw the car take off,” he said. Continue reading “Suzuki Swift dominates NZ new car sales in April” »

Toyota HiAce ZX 2011 Review

May 6th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

While a dog might be a man’s best friend and diamonds a girl’s for any tradesman it’s a good van that plays the role of best buddy. Interior space, comfort, practicality and most importantly reliability are all factors for tradies to consider when choosing a suitable van mate. But for many there is only one trusty stead that appeals, the Toyota HiAce, with no substitutes accepted. But why is the HiAce the default decision for so many tradesmen, courier drivers and shuttle van proprietors? Car and SUV saddled up with the heavyweight of Toyota’s HiAce stable the ZX to find out more.

Exterior design may not be the secret behind the HiAce’s success, while no van is a sexy beast the HiAce aesthetic is boxy, basic and in ZX form – burly too. She’s a big rig with a length of 5.38 metres and an extended height of 2.28 metres, wheelbase is 3.1 meters and it tips the scales at around 3.2-tonnes. The exterior styling has changed little on the fifth generation HiAce since its debut back in 2005 but there is a new black front bumper, reworked halogen headlights and a silver-barred grille that goes some way to giving this workhorse a more modern face. With a low side profile and a thin section of green-tinted glass, there is also plenty of prime real estate on the HiAce for sign writing. Standard wheel fitment is 15-inch steel rims that are hidden behind six-spoke silver wheel covers. Continue reading “Toyota HiAce ZX 2011 Review” »

Toyota announces powertrain details for FT-86

May 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

To keep Toyota/Subaru fans interested new information has been released on the upcoming FT-86 sports coupe a.k.a Toyoburu.

Toyota has confirmed that its rear-driving affordable sports car will go on sale next year and will be powered by Subaru’s latest 2.0-litre 4-cylinder boxer engine fitted with Toyota’s D-4S technology. It’s a real team effort here and Toyota’s D-4S tech consists of direct injection combined with port injection for more power.

Unfortunately output figures still haven’t been released, stopping us armchair critics from judging the FT-86 before it even reaches production. But Toyota is amping everyone up by claiming that its D4-S technology “results in increased horsepower and torque without sacrificing fuel consumption and environmental performance.”

The engine itself will come from Subaru’s with an improved 2.0-liter horizontally opposed gas motor, in its current Impreza guise this motor only puts out 110kW and 197 Nm of torque, but in the case of the FT-86, output is expected to be bumped up significantly. The real tragedy here is that the FT-86 won’t be turbocharged, not at first, anyway.

For changing gears the FT-86 will be offered with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission. “The manual will offer quick and precise shifts with a short-throw, while the automatic transmission will feature sporty shifts controlled by steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifts,” said Toyota. Continue reading “Toyota announces powertrain details for FT-86” »