Foton: 2014 Tunland 4×4 double cab ute review

January 27th, 2015 by Robert Barry

There was a moment during my week with the Foton Tunland 4×4 where I realised, that if I’d driven down the road with a blind fold on, I could momentarily be forgiven for believing I was behind the wheel of a current generation Toyota Hilux, because the noise of the engine, the power delivery, the feel of the transmission shift, and the steering feel and ride quality were very similar if not damned near identical. Continue reading “Foton: 2014 Tunland 4×4 double cab ute review” »

Ford: 2014 Ranger Wildtrak Review

September 26th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

The Ranger Wildtrak is the top-of-the-range ute for when you have to look like you need a ute, but you’re not going to be doing hard-core driving that will damage its many accessories and prominent livery.

We first drove the Ranger back in 2012 (read review here). It was the XLT which is the model down from the Wildtrak and we said it set a new benchmark in utes as it was a huge leap forward from what the likes of Mitsubishi and Nissan were offering. Continue reading “Ford: 2014 Ranger Wildtrak Review” »

Toyota: 2014 Hilux V6 SR5 review

May 22nd, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

toyota-hilux-sr5-2014-frontSome 38 years ago the Hilux was unleashed onto New Zealand’s roads. Today, there are as many variants of the 2014 model as there are the days of Christmas: Double cab or single cab, four-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive, petrol or diesel, wellside or chassis, manual or automatic, special TRD edition or one of the standard range? So, should Santa replace Rudolph and Blitzen with a Hilux to tow his sleigh? Continue reading “Toyota: 2014 Hilux V6 SR5 review” »

Holden Colorado LTZ Crew Cab 2012 Review

September 28th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

The top of the range 2WD Holden Colorado is the LTZ, designed to appeal to urban tradespeople, those that need to tow large loads like race cars and boats, and those that won’t need the off-road capability of four-wheel drive.

The 2WD models are available in single cab or crew cab (4 doors); 4WD models have the option of a ‘space cab’ which is a 2-door, but with rear seats. Space cab gives an extra 300mm of tray space over the crew cab option.

Its urban leanings are confirmed with the additional kit you get over the more agricultural focused 4WD models, or the base model LX (which can be had for as little as $44,400). You’ll be up for $49,900 RRP and for that the additional exterior features include fog lamps, LED tail lamps, projector headlamps a sports bar in the tray and side steps.

The tray comes with a soft tonneau cover which Continue reading “Holden Colorado LTZ Crew Cab 2012 Review” »

Nissan Navara ST-X 550 2012 Review

June 2nd, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

Taking it to the Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50 is a bit of a daunting task so Nissan has upped the power stakes. How’s 23 more kW and 80 more Nm of torque? The ST-X 550 (for the 550Nm of torque) is fast for a ute – it’s no HSV Maloo, but a Maloo isn’t a proper off-roader with 4WD low range. All this power would be fine, but it also rides like a ute on its leaf springs and the traction control light is a frenzy of activity in the wet as it tames the 170kW.

The Nissan tips the scales at over 2177kg and you can feel it in the corners. The steering is heavy and it leans into any change of direction. Chuck another 833kg in the tray and hook up 3000kg (as long as it’s a braked trailer) and you’ve got six tonnes to deal with. And that’s where you’ll need Continue reading “Nissan Navara ST-X 550 2012 Review” »

Toyota Hilux 2WD Dual Cab 2012 Review

March 15th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

Aimed squarely at the urban tradesman, the Hilux was almost immediately pressed into service helping me move a large number of items from one storage place to another, including things like a ladder and garden tools. Our test Hilux had been fitted with a number of useful SR5 options such as a roof rack, security alarm, reversing sensors, nudge bars in stainless steel, rear corner protectors, side running boards, a custom cab, towbar, monsoon windows, alloys, a clear acrylic bonnet protector and more. These added significantly to the visual appearance of the Hilux, and added significantly to the price (see the table below).

If you don’t need four-wheel drive because your working life involves visiting the suburbs, you’ll benefit from the extra efficiency that not having to drive all four wheels gives you (8.1 litres per 100km as opposed to 8.3l/100km) and, if you’re like me, you’ll enjoy the five-speed manual gearbox and sense of connectedness with what’s going on that is often lacking in today’s vehicles.

The gearbox grabs the power from the 3-litre turbodiesel which sucks air into the intercooler via a bonnet scoop. It produces 126kW and 343Nm which gives it adequate acceleration for getting out of junctions in the city. A limited slip rear differential helps keep the power to the ground, but no Continue reading “Toyota Hilux 2WD Dual Cab 2012 Review” »

You Can’t Be Sedan The Man

February 12th, 2012 by Tim Grimley

As we have now been in New Zealand for an extended period of time, the current Mrs Grimley has decided that it would be a good idea to keep a record of all the places that we have managed to visit. Given that I have a memory span roughly comparable to the average pet fish, I agreed that some kind of log may be useful and envisaged a quiet weekend pottering about whilst she occupied herself with a scrap-book and glue stick, cataloguing the rainforest of receipts, photographs and miscellaneous tourist bumph that has accumulated in various drawers.

Not so. It turns out that her plans were on a somewhat grander scale which involves a map so large it could be used to keep frosts off Otago rugby pitches in winter. And not content with simply pinning it to the wall, she has deemed it is necessary for me to construct a frame so that it can hang in our study and inform anyone who should be passing – with the aid of a complex array of coloured stickers – the exact extent of our travels.

Not a man drive

So I’ve got to buy a new car then.

While I am deeply in love with my current terrible Mercedes, a jaunt to Mitre 10 earlier today reminded me that there are very good reasons why anyone with even a smidge of aspiration to manliness should not own a sedan. To start with, trying to force the lengths of dado and backing board necessary to build a frame so big that it may require council consent into a sedan is a bit like trying to arm wrestle an orang-utan. It can be done, but the end result is going to be messy.

So it proved to be; what should have been a very simple job involving a bit of paint and glue now necessitates delicate surgery to reassemble a pile of firewood into something approaching useable timber. If a vehicle is completely incapable of assisting with even the most basic of DIY tasks, then its use to a man is somewhat limited.

And it certainly doesn’t stop with DIY – a decent station wagon, ute or van will happily swallow essential items of mancrap such as surfboards, kayaks and snowboards all of which would need a generous tweak from a car crusher before they could comfortably slide into the Merc.

Better. Much better

Yes, I know there have been wonderful inventions such as trailers and roof racks, but they fly in the face of all that is man. Men act on impulses and whims – they throw things in the back of the car and head off to the beach, bach, hardware store or sporting venue of choice. Male nature does not involve hitching up and securing trailers or trying desperately to remember back to their days in the Scouts to ensure the load being lashed to their roof does not become State Highway flotsam.

Sedans impinge on the male spirit by restricting our impulses and causing us to – horror of horrors – think and plan ahead. This clearly will not do and as such the search for a replacement vehicle starts now. Fortunately in the mean time, the Mercedes has just enough room for the glue and nails needed to finish off the picture frame.

Mazda BT-50 4WD Double Cab Limited 2012 Review

January 20th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

We tested Mazda’s new BT-50 a few weeks ago, but in its lesser GSX guise. This week we’ve had the luxury Limited version which adds leather and reversing sensors.

It was interesting to have a second bite at the Mazda as often your perceptions change over time. I’m not a huge fan of utes – I don’t even own a pair of wellies – but the Mazda feels so car-like that you start to appreciate the benefits of having that extra height in traffic, among other things. It’s a big beast (200mm longer than the previous model) – not really designed for manoeuverability – but with the reversing sensors it’s way more palatable in the city. And that’s where this ute probably will live. Tradespeople aren’t going to worry about leather interiors; this is going to be bought by someone who wants to tow a boat or horse float (it’ll tow 3350kg on a braked trailer), while all their nautical or equestrian accessories can be accommodated in the tray.

For this new BT-50 Mazda has taken the corporate nose and grafted it onto a commercial vehicle. Porsche attempted this, putting the 911 nose onto the Cayenne (which has been beaten with the ugly stick). Mitsubishi has done it putting the Lancer Evo X nose onto the Outlander (which looks purposeful with its chiseled handsomeness). Has the corporate Mazda face transplant worked for the BT-50? Kind of. From some angles it does look a bit awkward, but it’s also striking. Awkwardness is a trait of many a car design from the wrong angle – Peugeots and Renaults are notorious for this. I like the BT-50 better the second time round though. It’s growing on me. Continue reading “Mazda BT-50 4WD Double Cab Limited 2012 Review” »

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