August 7th, 2012 by Car and SUV
When I picked up the Aurion after having Toyota’s Camry i-Tech for a week my first thought was why would anyone purchase an Aurion when the Camry is more comfortable and better specified? But a journey from Auckland to Feilding and back gave me the answer: you buy the Aurion because you want the sensible aura of a Toyota but you want a swift sedan with sportier styling and handling that will make short work of overtaking dawdling holidaymakers.
The Aurion makes the Camry feel Read the rest of this entry »
October 3rd, 2011 by Car and SUV
For 2011, Toyota’s Land Cruiser is celebrating 60 years of production in various rugged forms. This anniversary year has seen the introduction of the brawny FJ Cruiser, it’s seen special events and even journeys across NZ. But more importantly for Cruiser buyers are the extras you get when purchasing any new Land Cruiser before the end of the year. To mark this landmark occasion Car and SUV got reacquainted with the 2011 Land Cruiser Prado to check out the latest deals and rediscover exactly what makes this model line off roading royalty.
The special anniversary deals on the Land Cruiser range don’t include extra equipment or larger alloy wheels but concentrate on extended warranty and free servicing plans. If you buy a Land Cruiser in 2011, you’ll receive a 60-month warranty, a 60 month/75,000km service plan, 60 months worth of WOF checks and AA Roadservice for, you guessed it 60 months. So what you simply get is 5 years of guaranteed trouble-free motoring, and that’s certainly worth a lot. The offer is available on any model in the Land Cruiser range including our tested petrol-powered Prado VX Limited. Read the rest of this entry »
September 16th, 2011 by Car and SUV
Kia has officially unveiled its rear-wheel-drive concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It’s a striking machine with some styling cues taken from the muscle car era of the 1960s and 1970s.
The Kia GT is another example of the Korean brand’s new design-led direction and hints at its next generation of cars. The our-door sports sedan draws inspiration from the Kia Kee concept car, first shown at the same event in 2007.
“At the onset of this project,” says Gregory Guillaume, Kia’s European Design Chief, “the design team was inspired by the spirit of iconic 1970s GT cars: sumptuous and elegant vehicles capable of whisking passengers from Paris to the South of France in effortless style and at high speed. We wanted to create something similarly graceful, athletic and confident, but not aggressive or overbearing.”
The 4.690 mm long and 1.890 mm wide concept car has a front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout and is given different proportions compared to a front-wheel drive car. Read the rest of this entry »
September 5th, 2011 by Car and SUV
Holden has made slight fuel-efficiency improvements across its V6-powered Commodore range with a model year 2012 update on-sale early October.
The Commodore Omega sedan, powered by the 3.0 litre SIDI V6 engine, achieves new fuel economy of 8.9L/100km, down from 9.1L/100km on the previous model.
Fuel consumption has been an area of development and improvement since the launch of the VE range in 2006. Fuel economy on the entry-level Omega sedan has improved 18% over the life of the model with the addition of Spark Ignition Direct Injection (SIDI) technology, calibration improvements and other weight saving and aerodynamic tweaking.
With the model year update all Commodore vehicles will become flex-fuel capable, with 3.6L SIDI V6 engine powering models like the popular SV6, now also able to run on bio-ethanol/E85; a blend of up to 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent petrol. While Bio-ethanol isn’t available from many service stations yet, it can be found at some Gull service stations.
Speaking at the Alternative Fuels Summit in Australia this week, Holden Chairman and Managing Director, Mike Devereux, said Holden had taken a leadership position, advocating for and stimulating demand for bio-ethanol. Read the rest of this entry »
July 27th, 2011 by Car and SUV
For many years in the States the main decision facing car buyers was to choose a six- or eight-cylinder engine in their favoured vehicle, but those days are now gone. The rising cost of fuel is a key factor in the shift to smaller engines also advancements in technology and more power from 4-cylinder motors has eased the change.
This huge swing in popularity to four-cylinder engines has been highlighted by a recent report from IHS Automotive. According to its findings, in the first half of 2011 more than 43% of passenger vehicles sold in the US were equipped with four-cylinder engines, compared to just 30% five years ago. In 2006, V6s had a 43% market share but four cylinders’ sales rose and those of six-cylinders declined, with four-pots becoming the most popular engine type for the first time in 2009.
So where does that leave the mighty V8? Well, in terms of new car sales it’s not looking good. Now V8-power only accounts for one in every six new cars sold, in 2005 that number was one in every three. Read the rest of this entry »
July 1st, 2011 by Car and SUV
It’s rare that any vehicle triggers a confused response from the average kiwi but the Toyota FJ Cruiser is one machine that can. With retro-inspired styling and unconventional angles the FJ Cruiser body has a brave disregard for low-key Kiwi tastes. Many Kiwi’s find themselves torn between loving it or loathing it. The Toyota badge draws us in, instantly recognising the FJ as a vehicle that must be reliable and practical like our much-loved Corolla or Hilux. But on closer inspection this Toyota seems different, it appears strangely familiar but clearly favours form over function, it’s bulky and flashy and we just don’t know. Toyota has certainly thrown the NZ market a curveball with its FJ Cruiser. In an attempt to avoid mass confusion, Car and SUV had some seat time in this distinctive off roader and brought back the results.
New Zealand is late in receiving the FJ Cruiser with it first released in the States back in 2006. It began life as a design concept paying homage to the original FJ40 Land Cruisers of the 1960s but its popularity led to full production. Built with the U.S market firmly in mind the FJ comes to us in one specification but with nine body colours on offer but the roof must be white. Read the rest of this entry »
June 24th, 2011 by Car and SUV
Since the late 1970s the Honda Accord has been a bit of an institution on New Zealand roads. We have seen various numbers and variations of all eight generations of the Accord with the fifth instalment even being assembled locally in Nelson. But things have changed for the Accord over the years; it got larger, more powerful and is no longer the cost-conscious option it once was. Honda also doubled down with the Accord and split the model line into the more American market focused Accord V6 and the smaller, sharply packaged Accord Euro. So where does that leave NZ’s long serving Honda? Well it’s in good shape, sure it’s become a higher-priced mid/large luxury cruiser but it’s got loads of kit, an intelligent powertrain and for 2011 – an enhancing facelift. Car and SUV got reacquainted with the 2011 Accord V6 VL Sport to see exactly how far this mainstay has come.
Visually, the Accord’s athletic design has received a modest refresh. Changes include a new thickly chromed grille, restyled front bumper and modernised headlights. At the rear the two-piece taillights are also new and there’s some fresh detailing around the boot. Design and packaging are strengths of the Accord V6, and in tested Sport form it is one handsome devil. The Sport upgrade includes deeper front, rear and side skirting which really brings out the Accord’s aggressive, sleek lines and renders it long and low. The chrome work around the window line and through the grille is just enough bling to draw the eye, but not enough to spoil the low-key aesthetic. Finishing the look is chrome-tipped twin exhaust outlets and new 10-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels shod in 225/50 rubber. Read the rest of this entry »
May 16th, 2011 by Car and SUV
Recently, to prove Volvo is no longer a maker of safety obsessed, vanilla vehicles, pro race driver Jonny Reid lapped Hampton Downs in the new S60 T6 sedan. Big deal you might say. Well he did do it blindfolded (click here to view video). Some may see this stunt as little more than a cheap promotional trick, but it illustrates the redefining new direction the Swedish carmaker has taken. An awareness, pride and continuation of Volvo’s safety innovations remain but the new top-spec S60 T6 has been given eye-catching, flowing design, serious power output and sporting dynamics. Car and SUV wasn’t given a blindfold, or time on a racetrack but did get a drive in the very same S60 T6 that lapped Hampton Downs. Here are the results.
Volvo’s solid and boxy design language is now almost fully extinct and the S60 shows more curves than a hip-hop video. A dipping front end with two-piece headlights and a broad signature grille give the S60 a modern and distinctive face. A steeply raked windscreen and coupe-like roofline define its low-slung profile. At the back end, wrap around taillights and a subtle boot lid spoiler are features. Contrasting hard plastic cladding is used to good effect on the S60’s lower edges, this helps give it genuine sporty appeal. It also combines with the widened rear panels and high boot deck to create an athletic stance. Like a sprinter paused in their blocks the S60 looks alert, muscular and dynamic. Other signals of go-fast intent include 7-spoke 18-inch alloys and dual, integrated exhaust tips. Any aesthetic concessions aren’t required in owning a new S60. Particularly in T6 form, it’s a sexy machine and Volvo has achieved it without resorting to more generic styling, it’s distinctive but still clear in its origins.
In the cabin, the coupe theme continues with a cosseting sports-inspired atmosphere. A high centre armrest dissects driver and shotgun passenger with all switchgear placed close to hand. The build quality has a bulletproof feel and the materials are mainly high-grade with the exception of some harder plastics. There is a luxury feel in the S60 cabin and while it can’t quite match pricier European brands it’s a step up from more direct Japanese competitors. The waterfall control stack is a highlight being finished in brushed metal and housing the majority of buttons and dials. A recessed 7-inch screen displays all main information in full colour and is positioned high for easy checking on the fly. The control system interface isn’t immediately intuitive but with regular use drivers will learn its ways. The instrumentation is Spartan but effectively designed with two large dials surrounding digital displays that offer vehicle information. Phone, cruise and audio buttons are housed in a thick leather-wrapped steering wheel. Read the rest of this entry »