Archive for the ‘New Car Reviews’ Category

With modern technology as it is today it is a wonder why some car makers are still sticking with technology that really should have gone the way of the Dodo.

Holden and Ford have seem to have hung on to what was once a great economical option and sure, once Arabs started popping each other off in order to get control of the world’s oil supplies, which resulted in petrol prices reaching record highs, it was definitely the cheaper option, and motorists, and in particular taxi drivers, had fuel conversion specialists rushed off their feet installing LPG systems.

 

 

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Is it just me or does the Holden Barina Hatch look like it’s designed to look like it belongs in an addictive computer game? Just add some feathers and a slingshot and you have an upset bird ready to attack some egg stealing piggies!

In reality you won’t need the slingshot because the Barina has enough power to squash those pigs with one dab on the go pedal. With its 1.6 litre DOHC 16 valve engine producing 85kW and 153Nm there is enough power to get you from point A, sitting next to your fearless feathered friends, to point B, into an unstable structure used in a vain attempt to protect some kleptomaniac popping pigs. (more…)

As I have mentioned before I am not huge fan of small cars but there are few that I do find to be quite fun to zip around in. The 2012 Holden Barina Spark is one of those cars. It’s nippy, comfortable, economical and has some very funky styling on the interior which is a massive change from the bland grey on grey most cars have.

As you would expect for a car in this class it’s not overly big on equipment but there are a couple of surprises in the Spark that I certainly didn’t expect to see. The comfortable and colourful seating were clad in grey and red Sportec trim but even more surprising than that was the heated seats. Usually an option saved for more luxurious cars it was a wee bit of a shock to see this fitted here, not that I’m complaining, I do like to have my butt cheeks toasted whilst heading off to work in the early hours of a chilly winter’s morning.

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I’ve tested a few diesels now and generally not only do most of them sound like they should be towing 30 tonnes of logs across the countryside, the odd one feels like it is doing just that. This isn’t the case here with the 2012 BMW 320d. Sure, from outside the car, the pedestrian you’re about to run down will hear the familiar diesel clatter and get out of the way, while inside you’ll never notice the truck like soundtrack.

The performance of this two litre TwinPower four cylinder Turbo diesel is nothing truck like at all. On the centre console there’s a rocker switch with Eco Pro and Sport written on it, there are four settings here starting with the most economical option which enables BMW’s EfficientDynamics technology. The next setting is the comfort mode, the default setting when you start this euro beauty, this makes everything perfect for day to day driving and commuting, almost like the car is effortlessly picking you up with a soft velvet glove and placing you gently at your destination.

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We have recently tested the Kia Rio 1.4 Automatic and a wee bit later we tested the Kia Picanto 1.2 Manual ISG. Now, it would seem, these two cars have been heading along the highway towards each other, crossed the centre-line and smashed themselves into one machine, the Kia Rio 1.4 Manual ISG. The standard Rio auto is a great car and economical enough although I felt it did lack a little something. That something, it would appear, is the manual gearbox. Kia have imported the ISG technology into the Rio with rather surprisingly pleasant results, whereas the original Rio achieves great fuel economy (6.4 litres per 100k) the fitment of a manual shifter and the Instant Stop & Go wizardry have reduced the economy to a frugal 5.3 litre/100k.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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…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.

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…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.

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