Toyota Blade Master-G 2007 Review

February 4th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

What’s in a name? Often there isn’t much to a name really, it’s a handle or a tagline used simply so we have a term for referring to something or someone. But there are other times when a name is a clue, referring to origin or even character or purpose. So when Toyota named its go-faster Corolla the ‘Blade Master-G’, it’s more than just a name, it’s a statement. Like a cross between a gangster rapper and a samurai warrior is the Blade a vehicle designed to entertain, to frighten, or to cut up anything who gets in its way? Is the tough name all talk or has this Japanese domestic market special got some bite to back its bark? Car and SUV got behind the wheel of the new to NZ, Toyota Blade to find out exactly what makes it tick.

From the outset the Blade is an extremely interesting prospect. Tailored mainly for the Japanese market it’s being imported in small numbers to NZ through Toyota’s successful Signature Range. Based on the Corolla hatch, the Blade is a genuine performance variant, something we haven’t had here for quite some time.

So will the Blade be noticed among the populous ranks of tenth-generation Corollas here in NZ? It would take a keen eye to spot the Blade, that said, it’s not entirely a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The proportions are the same as the standard Corolla but key differences lay in the Blade’s front and particularly rear lights, which are more striking, clear lens. The front bumper and grille is more bulky and aggressive than the standard Corolla and side skirting adds to the low, athletic demeanor. Finishing the look is unique Blade badging and 17-inch 5-spoke factory rims that almost fill out the guards. Overall, the Blade design is a mix of the familiar and the foreign, Toyota has some success in making the Corolla look sportier but it’s still unlikely to strike fear into other hot hatch owners. Continue reading “Toyota Blade Master-G 2007 Review” »

Toyota Highlander 2011 Review

January 28th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

“There can be only one” is the tagline from the cult classic Highlander movies of the 1980s and 1990s. Unfortunately for Toyota’s SUV which shares the same name, there are many more than just one in the market segment it occupies. In fact, the mid-size car-based SUV battleground is one of the hardest fought in the current automotive climate and it’s only getting fiercer. After a recent mid-life update the Toyota Highlander is going back to war, fresh-faced and with some new moves. But will it be enough to slash away rivals to become NZ’s SUV champion? Car and SUV mounted up with the Toyota Highlander to find out more.

The visual changes to this weekend warrior are fairly subtle. There’s a more defined nose with frowning headlights and a new chrome grille. At the rear restyled tail lamps flank replaced bumper trim. The rest of the Highlander’s sheetmetal remains unchanged. Our tested Limited model had some high-spec extras like rear privacy glass, front fog lamps, integrated roof rails and striking 19-inch five-spoke alloys. Overall, the upgraded Highlander is a sharp looker, it’s well proportioned with a safe, neutral design that avoids being either too rounded or too boxy.

Step inside the Highlander and you’re greeted by a spacious environment with three rows of seating ready to accommodate seven occupants. Even the third row will fit smaller adults comfortably and there are plenty of small storage areas and cupholders throughout the cabin. The centre row of seating is versatile and can be slid forward and back, it also splits 40:20:40 allowing the middle seat to be removed creating a luxury feel for six people. Luggage room is useful in five-seat mode with 580-litres on offer. There isn’t much cargo space left with all seven seats required but no less than other vehicles with three seating rows. Continue reading “Toyota Highlander 2011 Review” »

Toyota NZ recalling 1300 Avensis vehicles

January 26th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota New Zealand has announced the recall of 1300 Avensis vehicles. Toyota dealerships require the cars to replace the fuel pipe after receiving advice from Toyota Japan that some pipes may have been thinner than specified when they were fitted to the new car.

Paul Carroll, General Manager of After Sales for Toyota New Zealand, says pipes which are thinner than specified could crack over time and eventually leak fuel.

“Only 119 cases of defective pipes have been found in the 1.3 million Avensis worldwide, but Toyota is taking a precautionary approach and replacing the pipes at no charge to the owners.”

The owners of Toyota Avensis sold new in New Zealand from 2003 to 2008 will be notified by letter and asked to contact their nearest Toyota dealer.

Toyota retains title of world’s largest automaker

January 25th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It was a tough 2010 for Toyota, the year was marked by repeated recalls including the single largest recall in automotive history (read news). Despite these major meltdowns, Toyota managed to remain the world’s largest automaker last year. According to recent reports, the Japanese manufacturer amazingly saw its sales actually rise by eight percent to 8.42 million units in total if you include sub brands Lexus, Hino and Daihatsu. That figure beat out second placed General Motors, which saw its sales increase by 12 percent with 8.39 million units sold.

Toyota’s sales did drop in the lucrative U.S. market by 0.4 percent due mainly to safety concerns, but the automaker saw large increases in China. The company’s sales in China jumped by 19 percent, but by comparison General Motors did even better with a Chinese sales increase of 29 percent.

Bronze medal winner Volkswagen, meanwhile, managed to sell 7.14 million vehicles worldwide during 2010, further confirming its place as the third-largest automaker in the world. That figure marks a 14 percent increase over 2009, and VW says that it fully expects to see sales increase by at least five percent more in 2011.

Toyota is also optimistic forecasting its sales to hit 8.6 million vehicles in 2011.

Toyota shows off high-tech 3D carbon fibre loom (+video)

January 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Do you love carbon fibre? Who doesn’t, it’s five times stronger than steel and four times lighter – what a miracle of technology. It turns out that Toyota is pretty keen on carbon fibre too and to prove it to the world it has released a video showing for the first time their space-age carbon fibre loom.

Usually we’d leave this sort of thing to those who like watching Mega Structures on TV and doing maths for fun but this is some seriously amazing stuff. The clip gives a glimpse of the machine Toyota uses to weave its more tricky carbon fibre components like the various body parts of the new Lexus LFA supercar. The parts produce are more crucial than just the boot spoiler and even include the A-pillars.

Toyota was able to build those components thanks to the high-tech loom’s ability to weave the carbon fibre in three dimensions and create true 3D objects. The Japanese carmaker plans to use this carbon fibre loom to build various other components that will help bring down the weight of its high end models, which in turn will increase efficiency and decrease fuel consumption.

Apparently, Toyota didn’t really want to show this clip, because of fears it would reveal some of its secrets. So don’t go building a 3D carbon fibre weaving loom in your back yard.

Check out the clip below of the loom creating parts for the Lexus LFA supercar and see exactly why the LFA costs half a million dollars. Continue reading “Toyota shows off high-tech 3D carbon fibre loom (+video)” »

Toyota NZ marking Land Cruiser 60th anniversary with epic Kiwi journey

January 17th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

For 2011 Toyota New Zealand is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its legendary Land Cruiser.

The Land Cruiser is an iconic model for Toyota and has been part of New Zealand’s forestry, farming and off-road heritage for nearly six decades.  As a key part of its celebrations, Toyota is challenging television presenter Marc Ellis to drive a new FJ Cruiser, which is unashamedly a tribute to the original FJ40, from Cape Reinga to Bluff — entirely off tar sealed roads.

The adventure dubbed ‘Top to Bottom — Off road’ is a tribute to the legacy Land Cruisers have forged after 60 years, says Neeraj Lala, Toyota’s Assistant General Manager of Marketing and Product.

“In many ways, this trip reflects the celebrated Kiwi spirit of giving things a go. Toyota believes ‘if you dream it, you can do it’, and we’d like New Zealanders the length of the country to help us make the dream a reality. Perhaps they can open up a private track or suggest a secret route the vehicles can use to avoid a road, offer a splash of petrol if things get tight in the back country, or they might just like to invite some weary travelers in for a hot cuppa.”

Ellis will set off down Ninety Mile Beach on 21 February. Meeting up with the intrepid travelers at points along the way will be a fully restored Kiwi classic — a late 1970s FJ40 Land Cruiser which Toyota bought from a customer after a long search for the classic and will give away to someone who helps the team achieve its goal.

“It’s quite fitting for the new FJ Cruiser, which un-mistakenly descends from some of the most iconic Land Cruiser models, to be the vehicle to attempt this epic journey,” says Neeraj Lala.

Toyota expects the team to take 16 days of driving to reach the southern tip of New Zealand, via seven checkpoints. Ellis is set to meet national and local legends on the way.

Ellis has been challenged to only use back country roads, farm trails and tracks. If he wants to go on tar seal he has to earn credits to do so by meeting further challenges.

The vehicles will head south on the North Island’s western side as far as Taranaki, traverse the island to Hawke’s Bay, and on to the South Island via Wellington. From Picton, the FJ Cruiser will go through the centre of the South Island high country and the heart of Otago.

Continue reading “Toyota NZ marking Land Cruiser 60th anniversary with epic Kiwi journey” »

Toyota and Subaru FT-86 sports car likely launch late 2011

January 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

There is little doubt that the FT-86 sports car is the most exciting new model to wear a Toyota badge in nearly ten years. But there has been doubts on when and if the FT-86 will enter production. Those concerns have been addressed in a recent article by a Japanese newspaper which revealed that the FT-86 will make its debut later this year, along with its jointly developed Subaru twin.

Developed in a unique partnership between Toyota and Subaru, the upcoming FT-86 sports car won over audiences and gathered much interest in concept form at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, but its road to production has been broken up by uncertainty and a ‘on-and-off-and-on-again’ battle.

Speaking with the Japanese paper, Fuji Heavy Industries President, Mori Ikuo, reportedly confirmed that both models are nearing the end of testing.

Ikuo claimed that the production FT-86 (which some reports suggest may be called ‘FR-S’ in Toyota form) will be “very comfortable and fuel-efficient”, benefiting from a low centre of gravity for proper sports-car handling.

Exact technical details haven’t been announced, although it is known that both models will be powered by a Subaru-developed 2.0 litre turbo-charged boxer engine. The Toyota version will be a rear-wheel driver while Subaru’s model is likely to receive an AWD system. Some reports claim power figures in the region of 200kW.

Check back for more updates on this new model, till then feel free to drool over the images in the gallery below. Continue reading “Toyota and Subaru FT-86 sports car likely launch late 2011” »

Toyota NZ adds V6 petrol engine to LC Prado range

January 13th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota NZ has just added a new 4.0 litre V6 petrol engine to its popular Land Cruiser Prado line-up. The NZ spec Land Cruiser Prado is currently available in three grades — GX, VX and VX Limited — each powered by a 3.0 litre common rail turbo diesel engine.

Available exclusively in the top-of-the-line VX Limited grade, the new petrol engine will be available from early 2011.

Toyota New Zealand General Manager of Sales and Operations, Steve Prangnell said, “When we launched the new model Prado last year it was then a diesel-only line-up as the price of petrol was skyrocketing. Since then we have had many customers ask for the Petrol version so we are responding to the voice of the customer by introducing this 4.0 litre V6 version. We’re giving our customers the power they want, with the advanced features provided by the VX Limited grade package.”

Prado’s 4.0 litre 1GR-FE V6 petrol engine delivers 202kW of power at 5,600rpm and 381Nm of torque at 4,400rpm. Mr Prangnell said, “With 202kW, this is the first standard Prado available in New Zealand to break the 200kW barrier. It’s a truly impressive SUV, and perfect for the active kiwi lifestyle coupling impressive off-road capability with everyday utility and comfort.”

The petrol Prado will tow up to 2,500 kilograms with a braked trailer, and 750 kilograms with an unbraked unit.

Like all new Prado models, the petrol Prado has an ABS system with Brake Assist (BA) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) function to optimise brake-force distribution regardless of vehicle load condition. Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Active Traction Control (A-TRC) are also standard. Active Traction Control (A-TRC) limits wheel-spin when starting off or driving on all types of low-friction road, such as on mud or snow.

Continue reading “Toyota NZ adds V6 petrol engine to LC Prado range” »