First European owner Andy Burchall built his first motorcycle when he was 15 years old, using a box of old parts he bought.
“Mum and dad were pretty convinced I would never get it going, but I put it together and it worked,” he says. “And then I used to sneak out to ride it.” Motorcycling is in his blood. “It’s addictive – it’s like a disease that you either have or you don’t – and if you’ve got it, you can’t get rid of it.”
With 25 years in the motor trade, Andy is an engineer by profession. His passion for the industry is reflected in First European, which he took over five years ago with his wife, Teresa. Transforming it into a centric hub for motorcycle enthusiasts, they added Throttlestop Coffee Club upstairs to create a social space for customers, offering fresh barista-made coffees, food and comfortable seating.
“We wanted to provide more of a community atmosphere, rather than just a bike shop – have a coffee and chat while your bike is being serviced. Many of our regulars have made friends here and we also often provide a range of events for our customers, including ‘shop rides’ every third Saturday of the month.” The expert team are the official sales and servicing agents for Royal Enfield, MV Agusta, Benelli, and SWM motorcycles. From customised, retro and classic bikes, to used bikes, scooters and superbikes, First European also offers a wide range of clothing and accessories.
The man out for a walk came up to me and asked, “wow, how many houses is this thing worth?” The ‘thing’ in question was this 2008 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder.
When the Gallardo was launched in 2004, it was Lamborghini’s first small car since the 1980s’ Jalpa. It would go on to become Lamborghini’s most popular car ever, with 14,022 being produced before production ended in 2013. Countless special variants also evolved, such as the gorgeous open-top Spyder. Designed by Belgian, Luc Donckerwolke, the Gallardo’s lines still look crisp and modern. Sure, there are no scissor doors, but the Gallardo still makes for a stunning looking piece of kit. Sitting inside, you are surrounded by a sumptuous cabin. Plus, the rampaging bull on the steering wheel is a stark reminder of Taurean company founder, Ferruccio Lamborghini.
As the Gallardo was made under Audi ownership, the switches and buttons for the centre console all come from the A8. Everything has a quality feel to it, from the sat nav to air con. Though in the Spyder, the best air con comes from putting the roof down.
Twenty seconds later, with the roof stowed away behind you, it’s time to hit the blacktop. Turn key and the 5.0-litre V10 with 382kW, awakens. This beating heart, coupled with either a six-speed open gated manual, or paddle shift E-Gear gearbox, allows the Gallardo to reach the national limit in 4.3 seconds and see the far side of 315 km/h flat out.
The Gallardo Spyder is still a true automotive adrenalin pump, thanks to acceleration that would re-arrange your fillings, gorgeous looks and that amazing spine-tingling noise. A grand day out it certainly was.
Picking up the Mercedes A200 hatch from Armstong Prestige, I was invited to be shown a few things about the connectivity in the vehicle but declined due to the fact I’m a bit “I’ve got this, how hard can it be” I must admit.
I was wrong and should have spent some time with their knowledge. It’s the next stage of driving with an intelligent interface. The statistics are all there, 1322cc, four-cylinder, 120kW, 250 Nm direct injection, turbocharged seven-speed automatic, with sports seats and 18-inch, five twin spoke alloys with duel exhaust. The front wheel drive starts at $60,900. It features hill start assist where if you take your foot off the brake while on a hill it gives you a few seconds to put your foot on the accelerator, so you don’t roll back. Simple ideas are sometimes the best.
The voice activation system gets a bit too eager. It turns on when you say, “My Mercedes” and while driving it logged on with “What can I help you with?” after we said, “My Monday’s looking busy”. Having spent the last few months driving more expensive, more powerful vehicles with more features, I was expecting the A200 to be a little ‘tame’ but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s got some good torque; being red must have made it quicker. But its speed is paired with great looks thanks to all that brushed aluminium, a great sunroof and those beautiful Mercedes slopping angles that make it look… sexy.
SLIGHTLY FEMININE WITH A LITTLE TIGER UNDER THE HOOD
The dashboard interactivity is where the A200 is really dynamic though with a massive amount of options available from a 26cm touchscreen, kind of like a giant iPad. Navigating this is a little sensitive for my liking, with a centre console touch pad rather than the old dial system, but that could just be that I’m a bit old and not quite as cool as I should be. The only thing that did give me the odd question was the aggressive lane assist system that gave a rather jarring brake when I ‘deviated’ from my lane. Here in Christchurch we are all aware that sometimes you just can’t stay in a lane with the roadworks around and, when you get a braking system cutting in, that can get a bit annoying. Still, it is there to keep you safe, so I’ll let them away with it.
The interior is black leather with great stitching and cool LED lighting trim. All in all, my week with it showed that as we get further on with technology, luxury car brands like Mercedes will keep pushing more and more options for you to make your experience more responsive. At this price range, there is a lot going for the A200. I think it a great option up against the Audi A3; slightly feminine with a little tiger under the hood.
On 18 to the 26 August, Pebble Beach in California was privileged to host the Mercedes-Benz unveiling of the Vision EQ Silver Arrow show car during Monterey Car Week. The event attracts car afficionados and collectors from all over the world.
The one-seater vehicle also pays homage to the successful record-breaking W 125 car from 1937. A work of art as much as a high specification vehicle, the paintwork in alubeam silver is reminiscent of the historic Silver Arrows which, for weight reasons, did not have a white paint layer. The interior is dominated by traditional, high-quality materials such as genuine leather, polished aluminium and solid walnut. The digital cockpit, meanwhile, points directly into the future; it includes a curved panoramic screen with back projection, as well as a touchscreen integrated into the steering wheel. This year’s Monterey Car Week was a real flashback to early 1900s in style, with several models unveiled harking back to that time.
“Over 80 years ago, the historic Silver Arrows demonstrated that Mercedes-Benz was a pioneer when it came to speed thanks, among other things, to their streamlined shape,” says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer at Daimler AG.
The EQ brand is shaped by a distinctly avant-garde aesthetic. This arises from the combination of a previously unknown beauty, the conscious clash of digital and analogue elements, as well as the seamless merging of intuitive and physical design.
Falling in the fine space between tradition and modernity, the interior of the Vision EQ Silver Arrow represents the values of Progressive Luxury, a constant theme with Mercedes in its core brand but even more effervescent in its prototypes. The design idiom combines timeless aesthetic appeal with futuristic vision. When the driver’s cockpit is folded forwards, it provides a view of the surprisingly wide interior.
Double screen and virtual racing, the driver of the Vision EQ Silver Arrow is encompassed by a large panoramic screen on which a 3D image of the surroundings is projected from behind, giving it an almost computer game feel from the cockpit. For this a virtual racetrack is superimposed onto the real roadway on the panoramic screen and the driver sees their opponent either ahead of them or behind them as a “ghost”.
The Virtual Race Coach assistance function helps you become a better driver by giving instructions during the race. This soundless Silver Arrow has an output of 550 kW (750 hp). That’s about 25 percemt faster than a Ferrari 458, so not one to be trifled with. Retro art at its finest. Now, how do I get a test drive?
Metropol catches up with Kevin Burt, who has provided specialist Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi repairs for 35 years.
What is your opinion of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi vehicles?
Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi are the premium European marques. They are world leaders in technological development with engineering that is second to none. That is why we specialise in them.
What skills are needed to be able to repair these vehicles?
Completed qualification in automotive engineering. This enables the technician to build their skills by utilising ongoing training to embrace new technology.
What are some of the major changes you have seen in the motor industry over the years?
One that stands out to me is the increased use of plastic in all vehicles, including engine, transmission and major body components. Another change is the tremendous progression of electronic technology in the vehicle much of it operating inconspicuously and unseen by the motorist.
What is your opinion on the electric vehicle and its future?
As with most aspects of the motor vehicle, electric vehicles are not new. In fact, Henry Ford’s wife Clara owned and operated an electric vehicle as early as 1908. Henry Ford’s Model T did not have an electric starter, so the electric car was simpler to operate. The advent of the “self-starter” led to the demise of the electric car. The modern electric car has its place, but I feel the technology needed will have to improve greatly to displace the internal combustion engine in the near future.
The next generation of business entrepreneurs have been showcasing their creative achievements at St Thomas of Canterbury College for charity. The event, supported by RT Motors, is the result of St Thomas’ after school young enterprise programme.
RT Motors Founder and Manager Jack Thompson says the event will give young visionaries the experience of creating a unique product and finding ways to promote it.
“The St Thomas of Canterbury College students carried out research to come up with a product idea that’s sustainable, eco-friendly and in demand, and hereby execute production and sales through marketing,” Jack says.
Once the product has been created and a market found, the next step is for the students to promote their hard work at public events such as the Riccarton Market.
With a profit share from the students’ product going to the Canterbury West Coast Air Rescue Trust to support the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, these future leaders in business are working hard to not only blaze their own trail but ensure others can too.
For more information about RT Motor Company, visit www.rtmotors.co.nz or phone 03-384 4856.
Every time Suzuki announces a new Swift, people notice. But when Suzuki raises the curtain on a new Swift Sport, many sit up like meerkats keeping watch. There is a good reason for this kind of reaction, the Swift Sport is, and always has been, a cracker of a hot hatch. Now into it’s third generation, it’s time to give Suzuki’s newest pocket rocket a good going over.
For 2018, the Swift Sport has been on a diet with the new model weighing in at 970kg; 90kg lighter than before. The Sport also sits on lower springs and the 17inch sports alloys and new honeycomb grille are nice touches. Rear door handles are now hidden in line with the windows and the Sport still retains its lovely rear diffuser and twin exhausts.
Under the bonnet, the Swift Sport leaves behind its naturally aspirated roots in favour of turbo power. The Boosterjet 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine, despite having a name like a toddler’s car seat, is a real peach. Power and torque have also gone up to 103kW and 230Nm respectively, while returning 6.1L/100km.
Inside, the semi-bucket seats feel and look the business while still managing to house your rear in relative comfort. You sit relatively high but despite this there is still sufficient headroom. All interior features feel slightly angled toward the driver too which is a nice touch.
Moving off and you realise that extra torque thanks to the turbo was long needed. At speed I found myself short shifting below 4,000rpm most of the time. A stark contrast from the previous 1.6-litre N/A model, which left you ringing its neck right to the redline in order for you to make serious progress. Plus, heel and toe shifting via the short throw six speed box is great fun.
The term go-kart was invented for a car like the Swift Sport. With acceleration likened to a jack russell pulling at the lead, well weighted direct steering, and the ability to corner almost flat thanks to its lowered stance and Suzuki’s new HEARTECT chassis, you have the confidence to push hard and know it won’t bite back. Rides much better too.
At $28,500, 2018 Swift Sport ticks so many boxes, more so than any of its predecessors. By making the new car easier to live daily without sacrificing the fun, Suzuki has churned out yet another epic little all-rounder. In terms of bang for your buck, they seldom come better than this.
You have got to admit, Mazda has a real knack for giving us great all-round cars in a variety of segments – the CX5 is no exception. Since the original was launched in 2012, the CX5 left so many of Mazda’s national clientele, and motoring scribes like yours truly for that matter, utterly smitten. This was down to a great blend of willing engines, refinement, technology and value.
For 2018 Mazda has built on that winning formula to great effect. The CX5 has undergone a sleek stylistic nip and tuck. This has been achieved by lower centre of gravity, a wider, cleaner grille and thinner LED head and taillights, giving a more powerful stance than before.
Under the bonnet you get a multitude of engines to choose from, in either FWD or i-ACTIV AWD. These range from the 2 and 2.5-litre petrol units, to the 2.2 litre diesel producing 129kW.
My test car was the range-topping 2.5-litre petrol (140KW) with Mazda’s new Cylinder Deactivation Technology. This system allows the engine to shut off two of the four cylinders when not needed, ie. traffic or low speed parking etc.
All engines are coupled to Mazda’s silky smooth SKYACTIVE transmission. This contains a new shift logic programme which will predict the driver’s intentions based on throttle or vehicle and engine speed, ensuring that each shift is perfectly matched to however you drive.
In terms of safety, with the new CX5 you are well catered for. On both GSX and range topping limited models you get i-ACTIVSENSE technologies with Advanced Smart City Brake Support – Forward (ASCBS-F), Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) and Traffic Sign Recognition.
Hop inside and you notice the sheer visibility front and rear, thanks to a higher driving position and smaller A-pillars. While taller folk may find it a squeeze in the back, there is still plenty of room to slob out for most.
Quality and refinement has been a CX5 hallmark for years and its business as usual in 2018. Every switch feels solid and well built. The infotainment system and its features are also easy to understand and operate.
On the move, the CX5 is totally unique amongst its competitors. There is little to no road noise and the Cylinder Deactivation at low speed is not noticeable at all. In fact, you would think it wasn’t there. Ride quality is supple and comfortable too.
Steering is a tad vague but still manages to be direct. At high rpm, the 2.5-litre petrol sounds harsh, but quickly settles down to a reassuring hum at speed. Also, the AWD system works hand in hand with engine data and wheel speed to ensure you have plenty of grip on every road surface.
Prices for the CX5 start at $39,475 for the entry point GSX 2WD. Not flawless, but will certainly leave plenty of its competitors playing catch up in years to come.
John Cooper was born 17 July, 1923 so there was no better excuse to grab the new Mini Cooper S Hatch SE to see what it could do. When John Cooper and Sir Alec Issigonis sketched out the initial design on a table cloth in 1956, they really hit on what would become an iconic automobile.
From 1964-1967 it went on to win international races, including three wins at Monte Carlo – no small feat for such a little beast. Growing up with the 1969 movie, The Italian Job, the first thing I wanted to do was test its ‘Go Kart’ style abilities, so I hit the hills.
Agile is an understatement. It’s a six-speed manual transmission, 141 kW nimble mover. Louis Warburton from Christchurch Mini had set the Halo lighting to flare as a rev-metre and the entire interior lighting system was very impressive. The 8.8-inch touch screen has a split-screen option, allowing your passenger to use the screen while you use it to focus on the drive. My two sons loved it.
I’m not sure if it was its low centre of gravity or just its incredibly stable power, servotronic speed related steering, but the handling on uphill and downhill corners was stunning, handling everything I threw at it with ease.
These days bespoke versions of the car you want are pretty much stock standard but with the Mini Cooper S, three-door hatch version, I really don’t see the need for adapting the standard. With the air intakes in the bumper and the bonnet, rear apron diffuser, central twin pipe exhausts and custom rear spoiler with the metallic Satellite Grey paint job, 17-inch alloys, there are 15 variations on rims alone, and lounge leather seating, it was just too darn cute.
The interior cabin is simple and stylish with a quality finish. The innovative technology built into the navigation system and the LED headlights driving assistant system were the only things I didn’t spend enough time investigating; I can see they’re great, but I was just having to much fun driving it!
There’s not much difference in room between the three-door and the five-door, so it really comes down to convenience when choosing between the two models. John Cooper’s son, Michael Cooper started the John Cooper Works to maintain the integrity of Mini moving forward and its alliance with BMW means that Mini has a character of its own, with the integrity of solid background engineering.
Looking where the brand is now and how the performance was on my little drive, I really think it has everything right. It’s a fun car, for people who want to have fun driving it
The Honda NSX is not everyone’s first thought when it comes to a super sports car, but for those in the know, it’s up there amongst the very best. Launched at the 1989 Chicago Motor Show, the NSX (New Sports Cars eXperimental) was Japan’s first mid-engine production supercar aimed squarely at the likes of Ferrari and Porsche.
Combining low slung aerodynamic lines, a screaming VTEC V6 engine producing between 201kW and 216kW of power, a lightweight aluminium body and design input by the late great Ayrton Senna, the NSX appealed to the enthusiast drivers of the day, who weren’t phased about badge prestige.
This 1995 example, on loan for a day by Dutton Garage, was a rare chance to get up close and personal with a cemented member of Honda’s greatest hits album.
Get into the NSX for the first time and you quickly notice how sumptuous the cabin is. The leather clad seats offer plenty of lateral support and levels of comfort usually found on something with twice as many doors. The driving position is low slung though head room is a tad restrictive. Rear visibility is very generous, thanks to the F16 fighter jet inspired cockpit.
Turn the key and the 3.2 litre VTEC V6 growls into life before purring comfortably at idle. Moving off is more of a workout than expected due to the lack of power steering and laughable turning circle. Around town the NSX is extremely usable. Once the steering lightens up, you are quickly slicing through traffic with ease.However, once you plant boot on the open road, Honda’s engineering genius becomes all too real. While not rapid and sharp by today’s standards, the NSX is still a proper giggle factory. Thanks to the blood curdling howl of that amazing V6 engine, all the way up to its 8,000 rpm redline, short shifting via the short throw bolt action rifle-esque five-speed gearbox is seldom practiced.
As spine tingling its straight-line oomph and noise is, the NSX plays its ace card when those straights turn into fast, tight corners. The NSX tracks well and true, the lack of power steering means that steering feedback is quick and communicative.
Having the Senna developed chassis on hand means you can devour tight hairpins at an alarming rate. Simply stand on the anchors, down-shift to second, turn in and you rocket out of every bend grinning from ear to ear with that torrent of symphonic bliss echoing behind you.
The NSX was never a sales success for Honda, with customers rarely exceeding triple figures during each year of its 15-year life. Despite this, its exclusivity, real world practicality and thrill-a-minute driving experience, add up to one hell of a package. The Honda NSX is not perfect but shows that you don’t need a flash badge to make a proper supercar.