2014 C7 Corvette to be conservatively updated

November 11th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

For Chevrolet fans the next-gen Corvette can’t come around soon enough, but it’s not scheduled to arrive 2013 as a 2014 model. While it’s still a few years off, there is plenty of wild rumour and speculation about exactly what form the new model will take. Will it use a turbocharged V8 engine, will it have a retro-inspired split rear window design? Nothing is certain, but recent reports have been leaking out from GM sources that it might not be as exciting as fans hope.

The reports are stating that the design of the next Corvette will be more evolutionary than revolutionary. The design won’t include anything as far out as a standard split window, and it probably won’t be offered as an option, either. The rumored new 5.5-litre V8 may not happen and the new Corvette could push on with the tried-and-true 6.2-litre V8 as its base engine. The rumour of a mid-engine layout was always a bit fanciful and has also been denied. Continue reading “2014 C7 Corvette to be conservatively updated” »

Lotus pulls covers off 2012 Exige S at Frankfurt show

September 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

British carmaker Lotus has dropped the covers on its heavily facelifted 2012 Lotus Exige S and Exige R-GT at this week’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

The reworked 2012 Lotus Exige S is powered by a 3.5 litre supercharged V6 engine that produces 257 kW (345 hp). It’s a huge amount of power for a car that weighs just 1080kg, so it’s power-to-weight ratio is very impressive.

In terms of styling the Exige facelift has a new one piece bumper/bonnet clip along with new headlights. The rear also receives treatment with an integrated boot lid spoiler, large bolt-on wing and lower diffuser.

The 2012 Lotus Exige S will go on sale in Europe with a choice of two options packages – Premium and Premium Sport – and three drive modes: Touring, Sport and DPM off. If you’re hell-bent on taking your Lotus to the track then a fourth drive mode, Race, can be bought as part of the Race Pack option. Continue reading “Lotus pulls covers off 2012 Exige S at Frankfurt show” »

New 2011 Honda V6 Accord goes on sale in NZ

February 23rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The new 2011 Honda V6 Accord has gone on sale in NZ and comes packing some new features and updated styling.

There’s a new front bumper, grille, headlights and reworked detailing on the boot lid and rear lights, as well as new wheel options. The standard equipment level has also been increased so all vehicles in the range have some luxury kit.

An improved ADR fuel economy figure of 9.9L/100km, parking sensors, USB audio integration for iPod or memory sticks and an easy to use jack-knife key are just some of the new enhancements to the 2011 Honda V6 Accord.

Honda has worked hard on its fuel efficiency  with the V6 Accord’s cutting edge i-VTEC 3.5 litre, 24 valve, high torque V6 engine delivering impressive power and torque figures of 202kW @ 6200rpm and 340Nm @ 5000rpm respectively.

The V6 Accord uses Honda’s VCM (Variable Cylinder Management) technology.  This system actively monitors throttle position, vehicle speed, engine speed, automatic transmission gear selection and other factors to determine whether three, four or six cylinders are needed to meet driver demand.  This provides maximum requested power and efficiency from the powerful V6 engines available. Whether maximum power is required (six cylinders), or moderate acceleration for mild hills (four cylinders), or if the vehicle is just cruising (three cylinders), the V6 Accord makes the change on the driver’s behalf. Continue reading “New 2011 Honda V6 Accord goes on sale in NZ” »

Kia releases teaser images of 2012 Picanto

December 14th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Few carmakers have worked as hard as Kia in the past few years. The Korean company has got busy earning credibility and sales in seemingly all market sectors. Kia is no longer seen as a no-frills brand and now offers higher quality products with attractive styling, but the Picanto is still waiting to join the party with a new model. There has been updates in the past couple of years but it hasn’t been enough. Now Kia is preparing the next-generation model and it is already looking sharp.

With a debut scheduled for the Geneva Motor Show next March, Kia has released a couple of stylised sketches of what we might expect from the new Picanto. If the new model can carry over even half of the edgy styling from these sketches, the Picanto could be reborn as a true player in the city car market.

Click here to read a Car and SUV review of the current model Kia Picanto.

Dodge Caliber SXT 2010 Review

October 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

In our highly competitive world sometimes you have to be that little bit different just to get noticed. Carmakers worked this out a while back and have recently given the automotive world some unique and progressive designs. This holds especially true in the hatchback segment where radical styling has almost become the norm. So how exactly does a new car cultivate a unique appeal in these diverse times? To get the answers, Car and SUV spent a week with the updated 2010 Dodge Caliber because it still looks like no other vehicle on NZ roads.

What makes the Caliber aesthetically different is a mixture of traditional Dodge DNA and a body shape that’s a mash-up of hatchback, crossover and sports coupe. Its styling talks loudly and offers a truly American take on the conventional hatchback. The Caliber announces its arrival with its signature Dodge crosshair grille. In profile it shows off pumped up wheel arches, a coupe like roofline and a front foot, pouncing stance. The squared-off rear features jeweled tail lamps a narrow back windscreen and a protruding chunky bumper.  Exterior changes to the updated Caliber are minimal but do include some subtle chrome trim and a new 17-inch alloy wheel design which helps give the 2010 model an even sharper edge.

Step inside the Caliber and the unique styling continues with a fully refreshed interior design. The instrument panel, centre console storage bin and door panel trims have all been redesigned using higher quality materials. The result is a cabin that is more modern and user-friendly. There are some nice touches like chromed surrounds for the instruments and air vents and smart LED lighting which illuminates the cupholders. The hot rod red plastic inserts in the centre control stack may not appeal to all tastes but it provides another unique feature and matches up with the stain-resistant red/black cloth used on the seats. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good to grip and has audio controls at your fingertips. Continue reading “Dodge Caliber SXT 2010 Review” »

Facelifted 2010 Nissan Qashqai on sale in NZ

May 27th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Nissan’s European-designed, British-built Qashqai compact hatch is evolving with the release of the 2010 model here in NZ. The new Qashqai comes packing a new look and improvements in specification and efficiency.

In Europe, and increasingly in New Zealand, the Qashqai has become a new alternative to both the traditional hatchback and the bulkier SUV. The Nissan Qashqai has notched up 600 sales in New Zealand since its launch a year ago, a significant achievement for what is still a niche segment model.

“The Qashqai has played a key role in reinforcing Nissan’s position as an innovator in the European market, and its introduction here has provided a spur to sales,” said John Manley the Managing Director of Nissan New Zealand. “It now accounts for almost 10 percent of our sales, and this is expected to increase with the arrival of the 2010 models. We see the Qashqai cementing its position as a design and innovation leader, providing an exciting alternative to traditional hatches.”

The arrival of the 2010 model brings new refinements and some additional specification as standarFor the top-of-the-range Ti model, the equipment list now includes new features such as standard panoramic sunroof, dual zone auto climate control air conditioning, 18-inch alloy wheels, Xenon headlights, and the Nissan Intelligent Key for keyless starting and entry/locking.

Aero efficiency improvements have reduced combined-cycle fuel consumption to 7.6l/100km for the CVT auto (a 0.29 l/100km saving over the previous model).

New features for the lower-spec Qashqai ST includes: steering wheel audio, Bluetooth hands free phone system, and drive computer controls and new exterior styling. Existing standard equipment on the Qashqai ST models include: Cruise control with steering wheel controls, air conditioning, disc brakes all round, ABS/EBD with Brake Assist, Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) and Traction Control System (TCS), MP3 aux input, and six airbags including front to rear SRS curtain airbags.

Continue reading “Facelifted 2010 Nissan Qashqai on sale in NZ” »

Ferarri 599 GTO officially revealed

April 9th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

For Ferrari fans the wait is finally over with the release of the first official images of the highly anticipated 599 GTO.

Designed to sit very high in the Ferrari range, the GTO features a 6.0-litre V12 engine pumping out 661 hp (493 kW) and 619 Nm of torque. This monster engine will push the 1495 kg supercar to 100 km/h in a scant 3.35 seconds, before reaching a top speed of 335 km/h. The 599 GTO lapped the Fiorano test circuit in 1 minute 24 seconds a time that’s a full second quicker than the Enzo.

To ensure the car remains stable at over 280kph, Ferrari has included special aerodynamic bumpers, a new front spoiler, an aggressive rear diffuser and F1-style ‘wheel doughnuts’. The wheel doughnuts are made of a disc which channels hot air and drag away from the brake discs.

Away from the aerodynamic tweaks, Ferrari has lightened the 599 by using thinner aluminum on the body, carbon-ceramic brakes, and a lightweight six-speed transmission (which can apparently shift in 60 milliseconds).

Interior appointments include carbon fibre gearshift paddles, a Virtual Race Engineer (a system that monitors the car’s status and gives feedback on vehicle performance), and a leather/alcantara steering wheel.

To read Ferrari’s lengthy press release on the 599 GTO and to see some more photos, click on the link below.

Continue reading “Ferarri 599 GTO officially revealed” »

Audi reworks TT for 2011

April 9th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Audi’s always fashionable TT model is getting a slight reworking for the 2011 model year. Both the coupe and roadster are to receive refreshed exteriors and interiors, along with a new 2.0-litre TFSI four-cylinder engine option which has 211 hp but will be keeping an eye on fuel economy. This will be the same four-pot that has started showing up throughout Audi’s range, and while its horsepower has been increased by  11 hp over the 2010 model, the use of Audi’s Valvelift system helps the engine generate som serious torque — 258 pound-feet. That’s a full 51 lb-ft. more than the outgoing model.

According to Audi the all-wheel drive TT will sprint to 100 kph in 5.6 seconds, so performance hasn’t been affected by the engine changes.

In terms of looks the changes are conservative. The 2011 receives bigger air inlets up front, a gloss black grille, and Audi’s LED daytime running lamps. At the rear there’s a new flat black rear diffuser, retouched taillamps, and new exhaust outlets. There are new colour options that include Scuba Blue, Oolong Gray, Volcano Red and Dakota Gray.

The interior hasn’t gone untouched either, with a trio of new cabin colors, special leather that resists solar heat, and some new aluminum trim.

To see more photos of the updated Audi TT click on the link below. Continue reading “Audi reworks TT for 2011” »