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” »

Mitsubishi Triton GLS Sport Double Cab 2WD Auto Review

December 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Not everyone needs the 4WD capacity of a ute, so enter the 2WD models which are cheaper but still retain some of the rugged abilities of their big brothers (along with similar load hauling capacities.)

Capable of carrying 1000kg in the tray, the 2WD GLS is only 25kg shy of the 4WD GLS – not much penalty there – and you can still tow 3000kg as long as the trailer is braked.

The GLS has a five-speed automatic gearbox, unlike the 4WD manual GL Triton we tested recently. This is much smoother and more tractable; much better on the road and more convenient, too. Despite the 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine still producing 133kW you don’t get the initial push of acceleration like you do in the manual (perhaps due to the 51Nm less torque), but getting away from the lights quickly isn’t the first thing on a ute driver’s mind, particularly as it will upset whatever load is in the back.

On the inside, the GLS comes with some premium features over the GL and GLX models, including passenger vanity mirror, map lamp, centre multi-display meter, sunglasses pocket, two extra speakers (bringing the total to six), climate control, cruise control and Bluetooth phone integration with steering wheel controls.  The seats are slightly more contoured and there’s also an electric rear window which is useful for slightly longer loads (as long as they’re not a danger to the cabin occupants), and to get more airflow through. The rear window and rear passenger windows are tinted.

Passengers and the driver are well catered to in an accident with six airbags ready to deploy. That’s if the electronics don’t save you first, though. The Triton comes with electronic brakeforce distribution, active stability control, anti-lock brakes and a 4-star ANCAP crash test rating. EBD reduces stopping distances, while ASC modulates each wheel’s brake individually if it detects understeer or oversteer, making the Triton extremely difficult to spin.

On the outside, the GLS’s differences include more chrome trim – wing mirrors, radiator grille, rear step bumper – front fog lamps, and colour-keyed bumpers. The GLS sits on smart-but-functional 16-inch wheels wrapped in 245/70 profile tyres. These are grippy enough in the dry, and when it’s wet the traction control takes care of the inevitable lively rear end when unloaded. The overall length is 100mm longer than the lesser models and, at 5385mm, this is going to challenge some garages. It certainly makes it tricky in tighter car parks, so you may want to plump for the optional parking sensors. Reversing sensors should be standard these days; rear visibility is not particularly good, and the mirrors, while fairly large, just don’t compensate for that.

The GLS rides better than the GL Double Cab we tested. It’s smoother on the road with its uprated sports suspension, less noisy, and overall just easier to drive. There’s usually a fuel consumption penalty in these types of vehicles when you choose the automatic over the manual, and the Triton isn’t an exception. Go for the manual 4WD GLS Sport and you get 8.3l/100km; go for the automatic 2WD GLS Sport and it’s 9.4l/100km. The automatic 4WD is 9.6l/100km.

It has the useful Bluetooth hands-free phone integration and cruise control, and along with its inherent practicality the 2WD Triton is bound to remain popular with urban tradespeople who don’t need heavy duty suspension or 4WD and want an easy-to-drive automatic whilst travelling in heavy traffic.

Pros

  • Capable ute with excellent towing capacity

Cons

  • Equivalent 2WD Ranger XLT is $2000 cheaper

Price: from $50,890+ORC for the top-of-the-line 2WD GLS. Base model starts at $34,790

Our test vehicle had the optional tow bar fitted.

GENERAL GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
MODEL CODE RF3GLX22 RF3GL47 RF3GLX47 RF6GLS47
CAB STYLE Single cab Double cab
TRANSMISSION Manual Manual / Automatic Automatic 5-speed
TRAY STYLE Chassis Wellside
MODEL CODE RF3GLX22 RF3GL47 RF3GLX47 / RF4GLX47 RF6GLS47
ENGINE GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
ENGINE 2.5L Common Rail Intercooled Turbo Diesel 2.5L High Power
DISPLACEMENT (CC) 2,477
MAX POWER KW@RPM 102 @ 4,000 133 @ 4,000
MAX TORQUE NM@RPM 319 @ 2,000 356 @ 2,000
FUEL CONSUMPTION – L/100KM 8.2 8.2 / 8.6 9.4
CO2 – G/KM 214 214 / 224 245
TANK CAPACITY (LITRES) 75
EXHAUST EMISSION REGULATION EU-STEP4
HIGH EFFICIENCY AIR FILTER WITH PRE FILTER All models
TRANSMISSION GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
TYPE 5-speed manual 5-speed manual / 4-speed auto 5-speed auto with Sports Mode
GEAR RATIO (1ST) 4.313 4.313 / 2.842 3.789
GEAR RATIO (2ND) 2.330 2.330 / 1.495 2.057
GEAR RATIO (3RD) 1.436 1.436 / 1.000 1.421
GEAR RATIO (4TH) 1.000 1.000 / 0.731 1.000
GEAR RATIO (5TH) 0.788 0.788 / - 0.731
REV 4.220 4.220 / 2.720 3.865
REAR AXLE RATIO 3.917
DIFFERENTIAL - LSD Hybrid Type -
SAFETY GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
AIRBAGS Driver & passenger (Passenger on/off switch) Driver, passenger, side & curtain (Passenger on/off switch)
BRAKING SYSTEM ABS, EBD, ASC & ATC ABS & EBD ABS, EBD, ASC & ATC
SMARTBRAKE All models
IMMOBILIZER All models
CHILD SEAT ANCHOR 1 2
CHILD PROOF LOCK ON REAR DOORS All models
FRONT SEAT BELTS WITH PRETENSIONER 3 point ELR & centre lap belt 3 point ELR with adjustable pillar height
REAR SEAT BELTS - 3 point ELR & 3 point centre belt
SEAT BELT WARNING LAMP All models
SUSPENSION (HIGH RIDER) GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
FRONT Wish bone with coil spring & stabiliser bar
REAR LEAF SPRING Heavy duty Sports
STEERING GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
POWER STEERING All models
3 SPOKE STEERING WHEEL
TILT ADJUSTABLE
Urethane with Cruise control Leather with audio, cruise control & hands-free Bluetooth
BRAKES GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
FRONT / REAR BRAKE 16″ disc / 11.6″ drum
PARK BRAKE TYPE Dash Floor
WHEELS GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
WHEEL TYPE 16″ x 6.0 alloy 16″ x 6.0″ silver steel 16″ x 7.0″ alloy
SPARE WHEEL – FULL SIZE Silver steel
FRONT & REAR TYRES 205R16 HT 245/70R16 HT
HYDRAULIC JACK & TOOL SET All models
EXTERIOR GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
FRONT BUMPER – COLOUR KEY Across the range Body colour with lower silver panel
HALOGEN HEADLAMP All models
FRONT FOG LAMP - GLS only
RADIATOR GRILLE Black 2-bar Chrome 2-bar Chrome sports
WHEEL ARCH FLARES - Body colour
MUD GUARDS Front only Front & Rear
SIDE STEPS - Flat Sports
DOOR MIRROR ELECTRIC CONTROL Black Chrome
SIDE PROTECTION MOLDING (BODY COLOUR) - O
DOOR HANDLES Black Chrome
REAR STEP BUMPER - Alloy Chrome sports
REAR CENTRE STOP LIGHT - Tailgate
FRONT SKID PLATE & ENGINE UNDER TRAY All models
FRONT TOWING HOOK X2 All models
INTERIOR GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
DASH & DOOR TRIM – SWITCH PANEL Black Silver
DOOR HANDLES Black Chrome
SEAT TRIM GL / GLX Type GLS Type
FRONT SEATS Bucket & 2-person bench seat Bucket Sports bucket Sports bucket high-grade trim
SEAT ADJUSTMENT Manual slide & recline Manual slide, recline with driver height adjuster
REAR SEATS - Bench type with centre arm rest
SEAT HEAD REST All positions
FLOOR COVERING Vinyl Vinyl / Carpet Carpet
GEAR SHIFT LEVER Urethane Leather
COMFORT & CONVENIENCE GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
ENTRY SYSTEM Keyless entry remote x 2
ELECTRIC DOOR WINDOWS All models
ELECTRIC REAR WINDOW - GLS only
HEATED REAR WINDOW WITH TIMER All models
TINTED REAR & REAR DOOR WINDOWS - GLS only
CENTRAL LOCKING All models
ASH TRY AND LIGHTER All models
FOOT REST All models
AIRCONDITIONING Manual Full auto
PASSENGER SUNVISOR VANITY MIRROR - GLS only
GRAB HANDLES Front x 1 Front x 1 & Rear x 2
INTERIOR LAMP Front Front & Rear Front & Rear with Map Lamp
COURTESY LAMP ON ALL DOORS All models
WINDSCREEN WIPER, TWO SPEED WITH VARIABLE INTERMITTENT All models
HEADLIGHT ON ALARM All models
ACCESSORY SOCKET IN CONSOLE BOX - All models
SPEEDO & TACHOMETER WITH DIMMER Black trim Silver trim
CENTRE MULTI DISPLAY METER - O
STORAGE GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
GLOVE BOX WITH KEY AND LAMP All models
FRONT DOOR POCKET WITH BOTTLE HOLDER All models
REAR DOOR BOTTLE HOLDER - O
PASSENGER BACK SEAT POCKET - O
FLOOR CONSOLE - Large type with lid Large type with lid & silver trim
CONSOLE CUP HOLDERS - 2
REAR SEAT CENTRE ARM REST CUP HOLDERS - 2
SUNGLASS POCKET - O
AUDIO & MEDIA GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
SPEAKERS 2 4 6
SOUND SYSTEM AM/FM radio single CD AM/FM radio with CD, MP3, audio input,& USB port High Spec AM/FM radio, CD, MP3, Bluetooth, audio input & USB
BLUETOOTH HANDS-FREE TELEPHONE SYSTEM - Integrated with stereo system Voice activated with steering wheel controls
PILLAR ANTENNA All models
DIMENSIONS / WEIGHTS GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
OVERALL LENGTH WITH WELLSIDE (MM) Dependent on tray fitted 5285 5385
OVERALL WIDTH (MM) 1750 1800
OVERALL HEIGHT (MM) 1775 1780
WHEEL BASE (MM) 3000
TRACK FRONT & REAR (MM) 1505 x 1500 1520 / 1515
GROUND CLEARANCE (MM) 200 205
TURNING RADIUS (M) 11.8
KERB WEIGHT (KG) 1460 1755 1750 / 1760 1785
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT (KG) 2750 2760 2760 2780
MAXIMUM GROSS COMBINATION MASS (KG) 5175 5185 5185 / 5700 5700
PAYLOAD (KG) 1280 1005 1010 / 1000 995
MAXIMUM FRONT AXLE LOAD (KG) 1260
MAXIMUM REAR AXLE LOAD (KG) 1800
SEATING CAPACITY – PERSONS 3 5
APPROACH ANGLE – DEGREE 33
RAMP BREAKOVER ANGLE – DEGREE 26
DEPARTURE ANGLE – DEGREE Dependent on tray fitted 21.0 22.0
TOWING BRAKED (KG) 2500 3000
TOWING UNBRAKED (KG) 750
WELLSIDE FEATURES & DIMENSIONS GLX SINGLE CAB GL GLX DOUBLE CAB GLS SPORT
CAB PROTECTOR Dependent on tray fitted Body colour -
WELLSIDE INNER HOOKS Dependent on tray fitted 6 x hooks all models
WELLSIDE INTERIOR LENGTH (MM) Dependent on tray fitted 1505
WELLSIDE INTERIOR WIDTH (MM) Dependent on tray fitted 1470
BETWEEN WHEEL ARCHES (MM) Dependent on tray fitted 1085
WELLSIDE INTERIOR HEIGHT (MM) Dependent on tray fitted 460
WELLSIDE FLOOR HEIGHT FROM GROUND (MM) Dependent on tray fitted 850

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

Mazda BT-50 GSX 4×4 Double Cab 2012 Review

December 9th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda’s passenger car grin has been transplanted across to its commercial ute brethren to standardize the corporate family look. I had the great fortune to get out of the latest Ford Ranger XLT and into the Mazda BT-50. The BT-50 is based on the Ranger so it’s no surprise that much of the switchgear is the same, you get the same 6-speed gearbox, and you’ll enjoy almost all the features that the Ford has (including its off-road capabilities).

For a full overview of the Ranger, head off here (opens in a new window), and carry on reading for the BT-50. If you’ve driven a previous BT-50, the new one is a large jump forwards. Unlike the Hilux, which usually only makes incremental improvements, the Ford Ranger platform has provided the new BT-50 with a solid base.

Most utes on the market look like a block with the corners chiseled off, so it’s refreshing to see that manufacturers like Mazda will have a go at producing something different. Fortunately it didn’t end up like the Ssangyong Actyon at the front, but the looks still push boundaries and may polarize people.

The exterior has good fit and finish, and the GSX model does look sharper than the GLX which sits beneath it in the range. Our test car had an aftermarket canopy and towbar fitted. The GSX model gains 17-inch alloys, chrome door handles and wing mirrors, side steps in aluminium finish, and front fog lamps.

Storage is excellent. The tub is deep (513mm), long (1549mm) and wide (1560mm). Continue reading “Mazda BT-50 GSX 4×4 Double Cab 2012 Review” »

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