Archive for the ‘All’ Category


After a week driving the Hyundai i40 wagon it was easy to see why it has been winning awards around the world knocking other rep-mobile station wagons off the top of their class lists. Cars that were once the best are now second best to this stunning offering from Korea. And what has the i40 knocked off the perch in the UK for the best wagon, or estate as they call it? The Skoda Octavia Estate, Volvo V50 and amazingly one the most popular cars for years for fleet buyers, the Ford Mondeo Wagon.


My initial thoughts on the Suzuki Splash were ‘yep, this needs to go for big splash off a short pier’. I was unimpressed with the front end styling as it is lacking any form of standout design and seems very dated and uninspiring. The equipment level also gave the same feeling of ho-humness, it’s basic as basic can be as far as modern cars are. Sure it has acronyms like ABS and EBD, but that’s where all the extras end. Other than air-conditioning the interior is just as bland. Suzuki hasn’t even bothered with a tachometer instead opting for a single large speedo with the fuel gauge and trip computer incorporated into the LED display. The stereo is AM (but who uses that anymore), FM and has a CD player but is lacking an Auxiliary input which, in all honesty, should be a standard with all cars in this day and technological age.


We tested the Holden Cruze sedan last year and whilst it is a very good car I have to be honest I wasn’t totally sold on it. For some strange reason with the hatch I feel a little more attached. I have learnt to get used to the 1.4iTi engines slight lag although this tends to be a tad annoying when negotiating round-a-bouts, half way around you’ll tap the accelerator for a wee bit more oomph and not a lot happens, then the turbo kicks in with a bit more power than you want or expect. With most drivers this won’t be an issue and the lag will be almost unnoticeable, I for one could easily learn to live with it. Other than that it is a very good and enjoyable little power plant and economical to boot with an average of 6.4 litres of fossil fuel consumed per 100kms.


…but that depends on who you are. The facelift 2012 Kia Soul certainly isn’t my cup of green tea latte, yep, that’s the name of the test cars colour, and will be the same for others but there is no doubt people that like funky, out of the ordinary, stand out cars will buy these in droves. In the same class as the horrid Nissan Cube, Toyota bB, Sicon xB (Toyota) and Daihatsu Materia, it sure would be a no brainer to choose the Kia Soul. Its ‘chic-ness’ should appeal to the townie types, hairdressers, café owners and Ponsonby regulars. While some of my work colleagues seemed to think I looked gay in it (not the old and true meaning of the word), there is no denying it turns heads. I do like the bold 4×4 looks, the rear end I found especially nice.


…wear it. While testing the all-new 2012 Kia Picanto someone said to me that it looked like a shoebox, I had to correct them as the size of this cute little package is more akin to the contents of a shoebox. Not the pair of the contents, just the one. I have never been a fan of small cars and a small car certainly won’t fit my lifestyle at present with two little ankle biters that need conveying around to various activities, but if I was a little further along in my years and the little money gobblers had long left home this is certainly one small car I would lust after. There’s certainly plenty of comfortable space in the rear seats for them it’s just that the boot space isn’t big enough for all the other bits and pieces that need to tag along with them. If I was down to one child it would be a different story thanks to the split rear seats adding more luggage space.



Not that they ever left really. But they have resurrected their small sports coupe that we haven’t seen since the Honda CRX from the ‘80’s and ‘90’s. While the CRX was a great little, affordable sports car it really was nothing more than a warmed up two-door Civic, even so it was very desirable for the boy racers of the time, and still is today, although you might struggle to find a good example that hasn’t been tampered with. Now Honda is back with the very smart, technically speaking, wedge shaped CR-Z. (more…)

Most of you might remember the ads for Rio underwear from years gone, “You can get away with anything in Rio” or “It costs less to live in Rio”. Well the same rings true for the 2011 Kia Rio. Although many might consider it just a typical shopping cart like most other hatchbacks, that couldn’t be further from the truth. On looks alone the Rio stands out from the rest following on with Kia’s aggressive styling seen in their other models with its mean looking grill and smart alloy wheels the Rio looks as though it would be more at home going sideways on a back country gravel road than trundling through a shopping mall car park. Unfortunately the performance doesn’t quite match those stunning looks, don’t get me wrong here, it’s no slouch around town and can keep up with, and surpass, most similar hatches on the open road but with such aggressive styling one can’t help but wonder if there should be a hot version for the boy racer buried deep inside of go fast freaks like myself. I can just picture one of these loaded up with advertising decals and a dust cloud tail wagging behind.


In this day and age with not a hell of a lot of money floating around it’s good to know there are cars like the Holden Cruze SRi. Not because they are cheap, there are cheaper cars that will comfortably carry a load of groceries from the Pack N Don’t Save to your humble abode. But with a retail price of $36,900, the SRi as tested is nothing to be sneezed at. It’s good because of a couple of things, depreciation and economy. (more…)

Jetblack, Kiwi’s on speed.

Posted: October 20, 2011 in All, Events

Unveiled on the 17th of October 2011 at The Cloud, Auckland, was a full scale model of New Zealand’s very first attempt at breaking the world land speed record, the Jetblack.

Jetblack is a childhood dream of founder and project director Richard Nowland, a 30 year old Auckland business man. Richard has gathered together a team comprising of some very brainy people who will be lending their expertise to the project. There are many involved but some of the main experts in their field are:

RNZAF Wing Commander Stephen Hunt who will be driving the Jetblack. Stephen has an impressive CV including being an ex-RAF Harrier pilot and has flown numerous tours in far flung places such as Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq, these tours included night strike attacks and offensive air support.

Richard Roake, Aerodynamics specialist.

Glynne Bowsher, wheel design.

RNZAF Wing Commander Frank Dyer, lead designer.

The plan for Jetblack’s attempt to smash the world land speed record is to make the first attempt by 2016. This project is more that just going after a record that has stood since Thrust SSC’s Andy Green set it at 763mph back in 1997, it’s also about show casing “New Zealand’s engineering and innovation capabilities”. This will be a great way to showcase kiwi’s can do attitude and keep New Zealand’s technologies and know-how at the pointy end of world class design.

Some of the stats for Jetblack:

Carbon fibre monocoque chassis

Turbofan engine 17-20,000lb thrust range

2 x 20,000lb thrust hybrid rockets

Length: 12.9m

Width: 2.5m

Height: 2.65m to the top of the tail fin and 1.65 for the body

Weight: estimated to be around 3,500kg empty

Wheels: 850mm diameter forged aluminium, no rubber here!

More details can be seen at

Thanks to Rod Johns & Andy Gillingham for the camera work & editing.

Optima Prime

Posted: September 28, 2011 in All, Kia, New Car Reviews

Well this was a test drive with a difference. Unfortunately I wasn’t in a position to complete a thorough test as per usual along a typical ‘B’ road out to some fantastic Auckland location with a scenic back drop that’ll help create photo’s that compliment how good the 2011 Kia Optima is. Pretty much the extent of this test drive consisted of heavy motorway traffic after picking the car up, constant trips between home and the hospital thanks to our seven week young son coming down with bronchiolitis, with the odd trip to the day job for good measure, and more motorway traffic taking the car back. The photo’s themselves were a rush job on the way to drop the car off.