Holden Commodore SS 2013 Review

November 6th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

Three friends and I headed to Hamilton and one of our road trip topics was riddles. You can cover some distance figuring out some serious conundrums and it’s better than playing I spy.

holden-commodore-ss-2013-rear-quarterThe situation the Commodore SS finds itself in is a conundrum, too. To all intents and purposes it’s a dinosaur; a heavy, front-engined, rear-wheel-drive V8 that doesn’t pretend that it will go off-road.

holden-commodore-ss-2013-bootTaking a look at the supposedly more highly evolved competition you see entire genera of vehicles like compact SUVs and crossovers – they’re new and trendy. They’re ‘evolved’. We appear to have moved on from the 1980s and people don’t want big four-door sedans.

People are wrong. The Commodore is every bit as safe as an SUV with its 5-star ANCAP crash rating, it handles better due to its lower centre of gravity, for the performance it has comparable fuel economy with SUVs of similar acceleration, and at $61,490 you can’t get a ‘performance’ SUV. It’s not going to fit as much luggage, but it does come with a large boot that’s enough for four people’s gear (495 litres).

holden-commodore-ss-2013-reversing-cameraThe Holden will park itself in parallel or right angle parks using Automatic Park Assist. You just need to control the throttle, brake and transmission. If you’re reversing out of a right angle park, the Reverse Traffic Alert warns you if a vehicle is approaching in your blind spots. And speaking of blind spots, when you are driving along, the Commodore constantly scans them and warns you using an orange light in each wing mirror if another vehicle might be in a place where you can’t easily see it. Continue reading “Holden Commodore SS 2013 Review” »

BMW 650i 2011 Review

February 14th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

The halo coupe in BMW’s range has been reworked. The controversial looks of the 6 Series that was reborn in the mid-2000s have thankfully gone, and have been replaced by a car whose design is beautiful and sleek, finally matching its contemporaries.

If you are flush enough to be in the market for a car that starts at $236,000, there’s not that much choice – only Porsche, Jaguar, Maserati and Mercedes make serious contenders at this price – and you can’t really go wrong anyway. Your purchase is not a practical one. If it was, you wouldn’t buy the BMW 650i, because the boot size is average, the two back seats have no legroom, and you will spend more money at the petrol station than if you buy the almost as sleek diesel Audi A5 for half the price.

But you have elevated yourself above practicality. The aforementioned foibles are irrelevant as this is a sports tourer, and it’s also unlikely to be your only car. You don’t need function, you need aura combined with power and comfort. The BMW emanates that profusely. With the M design pack (20 inch alloys, M leather steering wheel, M aerodynamics package, etc) this car is a stunner. It’s longer than you expect, and that just adds to its presence, making it look lower and more muscular. In fact, the photos don’t do it justice. I found myself more often than not glancing back at the BMW, admiring it when walking away from it. Continue reading “BMW 650i 2011 Review” »

BMW unleashes 6-Series Coupe into NZ market

October 10th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

BMW has released its new 6 Series Coupe in the NZ market with the sports-focused GT car slotting into the German car maker’s expanding model range.

Powering the BMW 650i is a 4.4-litre eight-cylinder engine which develops a maximum 300 kW and peak torque of 600 Nm.  It is partnered with an eight-speed Sports automatic gearbox as standard. Steering wheel paddles are included and M gearshift logic.

“The all-new BMW 6 Series Coupe is the perfect mix of performance and pleasure and over-delivers on all expectations,” said the Managing Director of BMW New Zealand, Mark Gilbert. The design of the Coupe epitomises BMW dynamism, as one only has to note the stance of the new model to understand its potential.  As anticipated, its all-round performance is exhilarating and the aural experience created by the optional M-Sport package featuring unique exhaust tuning has to be heard to be appreciated.

The new 6-Series has extra length and width over its predecessor and a 5-millimetre lower height to produce a low-slung and athletic design. Continue reading “BMW unleashes 6-Series Coupe into NZ market” »

FPV GT Black Limited Edition – 8 units heading to NZ

August 9th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

FPV’s  black-on-black GT Concept proved a hit at the recent Australian International Motor Show, and FPV has just announced that it will send the model into production. The car will launch as FPV’s most limited edition vehicle to date and be named the 2011 GT Black.

Based on the black-on-black FPV GT Concept this special Falcon will be put into limited production of just 125 units with just 8 coming over the ditch to New Zealand.

The GT Black will make use of the standard supercharged Boss 335kW GT engine, but receives a number of styling tweaks.

“We were totally blown away by the positive feedback received from fans and show-goers on our Concept,” FPV General Manager Rod Barrett said. “We knew we had a winner with the black paintwork and we wanted to action something immediately. The GT Black is the beginning of some exciting times ahead as we continue to work on new product and design enhancements to reflect the needs and wants of the market.”

With all black finished styling, black alloy wheels, black tail pipes and all-new matt black striping decals the GT Black sticks to its theme and creates a menacing figure. It will only be available in one colour – black. Continue reading “FPV GT Black Limited Edition – 8 units heading to NZ” »

Mercedes-Benz reveals variable-displacement V8 engine

July 22nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

With many auto makers dropping cylinders off their larger engines Mercedes-Benz was rumoured to be developing a hardcore turbocharged V6. But those rumours have now proved false with news that Mercedes is set to continue with a naturally aspirated V8 engine in the next generation of the SLK AMG.

Details have been released before the new sportscar debuts at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show. The latest AMG powerplant, labeled M152, is based closely on the M157 engine that already sees use in the new CL63 AMG and its four-door brother – the S63 AMG. But the M152 is different in a few key areas, first of all, is the removal of the twin turbochargers. It also uses a new air intake, cylinder heads, valve drive, oil system, crankcase and, most importantly, a Formula One-derived cylinder deactivation system. This new system allows it to cut back to just four cylinders when required and with only four pistons firing, fuel economy is markedly improved. Continue reading “Mercedes-Benz reveals variable-displacement V8 engine” »

Kia to build rear-driving V8-powered coupe?

July 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

A rear wheel drive sports coupe with a V8 powerplant will catch the interest of most driving enthusiasts, but what if the car is built by Kia? It’s difficult to know how such a vehicle would be received but the Korean carmaker could be willing to find out, if new reports prove true.

Kia has a new K9 sedan set to go on sale in global markets from next year. The K9 platform could lend itself to a rear-wheel-drive layout and even a V8 motor. But Kia wants to go even sportier and apparently will release a pair of RWD coupe concepts to check public interest and reception. Is it just crazy enough to work? Kia plans to find out at the Frankfurt Motor Show with its first coupe and then reveal a second concept at the Detroit Auto Show next January. If the hard-to-please sportscar crowd think the concepts are a fair punt then a production model could be prepared for sale by 2015.

BMW reveals official details and images of 2012 M5

June 17th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

With leaked photos doing the rounds online, BMW has decided to drop the official images and details on its fifth generation 2012 M5.

The much-anticipated super saloon comes packing BMW’s a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine behind its double kidney grille. It shares this powerplant with the X5M and X6M high performance SUVs and the V8 replaces the previous M5′s exotic 5.0-litre V10 unit. The new high-revving engine packs a heavyweight punch with power output of 415kW and peak torque of 680Nm. This marks a huge 30kW and 150Nm increase over its predecessor. Fuel consumption has also been improved with a quoted figure of 9.9l/100km combined.

Transferring power to the rear wheels is a seven-speed M dual-clutch transmission linked up to an electronically controlled multi-plate limited-slip differential. A manual transmission is expected to be added at a later date.

Performance figures are impressive with the new M5 sprinting to 100km/h in 4.4 seconds, 0-200km/h (124mph) in 13.0 seconds and a limited top speed of 250km/h. If you have to go even faster the optional M Driver’s package raises top speed to 305km/h. Continue reading “BMW reveals official details and images of 2012 M5” »

Fiat’s tiny 0.9-litre motor wins ‘International Engine of the Year’ Award

May 19th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

With a displacement of just 875cc Fiat’s twin-cylinder gasoline ‘TwinAir’ motor seemed an unlikely choice for the International Engine of the Year Award but the little engine that could has taken the top honours. The much coveted award is decided by a jury of 76 journalists and industry experts from 36 different countries and Fiat’s mini mill was highly praised. The Jury were sold on the TwinAir’s low emissions, high fuel economy and strong power output for its size. The TwinAir scooped four awards in total that included “Best New Engine 2011”, “Best Green Engine 2011”, “Best Sub 1-Litre Engine” and the “International Engine of the Year 2011” grand award.

Fiat’s two-cylinder champion uses turbocharging to develop 63kW of power and currently sees service in the Fiat 500 and 500C, with further applications planned. Fiat will also introduce two other versions of the motor, a naturally aspirated variant producing 48kW and a higher-performance turbocharged variant with 78kW.

This year’s awards event was held yesterday (May 18th) at the Engine Expo in Stuttgart, Germany. Other big winners included BMW with the carmaker taking out four awards. The honours included winning the “3-litre to 4-litre” category with the 4.0-litre V8 unit used in the M3, the “2.5-litre to 3-litre” division for its 3.0-litre DI Twin Turbo mill, the “1.8-litre to 2-litre” category for the 2.0-litre Twin Turbo diesel engine found in the 123d and X1, and lastly the “1.4-litre to 1.8-litre” category for the popular 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo engine co-developed with PSA Peugeot Citroen, powering the Mini. Continue reading “Fiat’s tiny 0.9-litre motor wins ‘International Engine of the Year’ Award” »

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