Posts Tagged ‘cars’

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With the demise of the Australian built big bangers, the Commodore and Falcon, we in New Zealand and Australia are left with a gap in the market and a hunger for rear wheel drive sports sedans to give us the thrill of power and the feeling that only a front engine rear drive layout can give, plus being able to have the convenience of a family sedan. Without of course spending crazy amounts of hard earned cash on European equivalents.

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Peugeot 4008 005

 

For a car that is essentially a Mitsubishi, it is amazing how different it really is. The Peugeot 4008 shares almost everything with its Japanese sister with the outer shell being the main obvious difference. And a fantastic difference it is, I for one am totally sold on the 4008’s looks whereas the ASX looks chunky and lumpy the 4008 has a more of Remuera tractor look that should, and in most cases no doubt, never ever go off road any further than a pothole on Ponsonby road.  This is unfortunate with these nice looking 18 inch alloy wheels, as fitted to the Feline model we tested, never being lucky enough to see a muddy farm track for the 4008 is actually a fantastic machine to bump over grassy knolls or splash through fresh cow pats.

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2012 Hyundai Veloster 015

 

I was wondering how it would be testing the 2012 Hyundai Veloster with having to squeeze two children and their car seats, one rear facing, into the back seat. Being a coupe I was expecting the usual useless back seat where for any human to be seated they would have to be legless, and by legless I don’t mean out on a bender in town legless. I needn’t have worried, for the Veloster has ample room in the rear and easily accommodated the little rug rats and their seating requirements as easily as most larger family transportation devises, headroom could be an issue though for taller bipeds. Then there is the boot space. Once I had the seats in and saw how well they fitted I assumed all this space would have to be created at a loss to luggage capacity in the hatch area, incorrect. We managed to fit in our largest pushchair for our youngest ankle biter with room still for a couple of shopping bags and other bits and bobs.

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Often on New Zealand roads one can feel like a pinball in a pin ball machine. For us today was no exception thanks to an ignorant and arrogant Audi A4 Avant driver.

Ticking along nicely through Auckland’s spaghetti junction heading home after a nice family outing with our two young children, daughter 5 and son 1, sitting just under the posted 80kph speed limit through this part of the motorway network due to the not too busy but not too light traffic flow when all of a sudden this silver euro wagon flies past our right hand side and cuts in front of us leaving a very small gap, probably only a couple of inches, between my right front and his left rear. Had I not braked there would have been an almost guaranteed sharing of silver and red paint.

Ok, after flashing of headlights and sounding of our horn, and yes, an angry hand gesture or two from me and my wife the driver of the Audi saw fit to brake heavily, on the motorway, in front of us, with traffic behind us. His vehicle came to an almost complete stop which saw me having to brake even heavier than before and swerve slightly to the left to avoid what could have been a very serious accident. We came to within an inch of hitting the back of this 2006 Audi before he accelerated, can’t help but think if he hadn’t driven off when he did we might not be here now, not to mention our two young children. There were cars behind us, as I mentioned before, and when I looked up after being able to continue I checked the rear-view mirror to see this black VW Passat very close behind, I hate to think how close they came to connecting to our Renault.

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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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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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