metropol » old » auto

Tag: auto

Mazda CX8

A handsome SUV: Mazda CX8

Mazda has a real knack for making well-equipped, attractive and fun to drive SUVs. With the five-seater CX5 leading its class and the larger flagship CX9 selling well, Mazda bring us its all-new CX8, a full seven-seater medium SUV which fills a gap for Mazda in a fiercely competitive segment.


Mazda CX8


Prices start at $53,495 for the entry level 2WD GSX. This increases to $55,955 if you want four-wheel drive. My test car was the range topping 4WD Limited at $62,495. Both GSX and Limited come standard with Mazda’s newest SkyActiv 2.2-litre diesel engine with 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque. This is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. On the outset, the CX8’s fluidic styling takes the best bits of the CX5 and CX9, creating a rather handsome SUV. Though at first glance it would be hard to distinguish the newcomer over its smaller brother.

Inside the same feeling of quality and refinement which adorns Mazda’s range, makes a welcome return. The leather trim is sumptuous and the high transmission tunnel leaves you cocooned by your surroundings. Interior fit and finish are first rate, though headroom is quite restrictive, especially in the rear.  Mazda has been very generous in providing the CX8 with a tonne of standard kit. The base model gets all of Mazda’s latest i-ACTIVSENSE safety technologies, including a new Traffic Sign Recognition system and Intelligent Speed Assistant. There’s also Smart City Brake Support, Forward/Reverse autonomous emergency braking, Lane-keep Assist, Departure Warning System and Blind Spot Monitoring.


Mazda CX8

Other standard features include Mazda’s 7.0-inch infotainment system, head-up display, automatic LED headlights, three-zone air-conditioning, digital radio and Bluetooth, satellite-navigation and rear parking sensors. In fact, the only feature missing is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The CX-8 also contains 209 litres of boot space and, with the those extra two seats in the rear folded down, this increases to a sizeable 742 litres. On the move, the Skyactiv diesel engine is a gem. At cruising speed at 1600rpm, the noise is almost non-existent, while the linear powerband means the power is always there when you need it. Acceleration itself is brisk and remarkably refined, plus around town, I was averaging 7L/100km, which is pretty impressive.

In the great wide open the CX8 continues to impress. It features the same suspension and steering set up as the CX9. This includes Mazda’s new G-Vectoring Control set up, which means corners require no real effort to negotiate. Body roll is kept at a minimum which is great for a high riding car and ride quality is sublime too.

So, is the Mazda CX8 worth considering? Of course. Despite no petrol option and slightly restrictive headroom for those extra seats, the CX8 provides Mazda with yet another hit in this ever-growing and vastly competitive market.



Ferrari Portofino

An Italian beauty: Ferrari Portofino

The sound of a Ferrari Portofino V8 engine when you drop back into second gear on the motorway as the 591-horsepower engine prepares for what you are about to do is exhilarating.


Ferrari Portofino


The top is down on a beautiful Canterbury day. You’ve been at a winery up near Waipara enjoying the company of not just car enthusiasts, but Ferrari enthusiasts. You put your foot down on the accelerator and those ponies thrust you past the car in front with total accuracy and speed. I was fortunate enough to be invited to be part of Continental Ferrari’s visit to Christchurch in early October and got the opportunity to take a Ferrari GTC4Lusso and a Ferrari Portofino out to see what they could do. The Ferrari GTC4Lusso is 507 kW and ramps up from 0-100 in 3.4 seconds. A stunning 4-seater, tourer, it is an Italian beauty with jaw-dropping refinement. Everywhere you look it’s like a work of art. Everything can be refined to your specification.

I noted some of the other vehicles, about 12 in total, had been personalised. There were a couple of 458s that I had a hard time recognising and Neil from Ferrari explained that, “If you own one, you want it to be YOUR one, so we bespoke them for the client”.I spent some time with Doug Price who owns a 1995 Ferrari F355 GTS; the first Ferrari with power steering and gear linkages. Doug was fantastic, briefing me for a good half hour about his F355 and explain the ethos of the club. “We all love Ferrari Nick. Old or new, it doesn’t matter; the drive, the sound, we just love them.”

He pretty much personified all the club members; approachable, down to earth men and women who are totally passionate about the Ferrari brand. I was joined on the drive back by Robert Pegg from Ferrari in the Ferrari Portofino; a two-door convertible twin-charged V8 3,855 litre, seven-speed dual clutch, 0-100 in 3.5 seconds with a top speed of 320kph. The only official dealer for Ferrari in New Zealand since 1973, Continental Cars officially opened a dedicated Ferrari Service Centre here in Christchurch last year. It also operates as a base to display the very latest Ferrari models and hosts local drive activities with its South Island Ferrari owners.

I got given the nickname ‘showpony’ once. But the only showpony that day was the prancing pony that is Ferrari. It is the ultimate in automotive style and performance. Getting back into my car was completely deflating. But I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity. Everyone should drive a Ferrari at least once in their life, shouldn’t they?



Lexus UX

Dynamic Attitude: Lexus UX

It’s Lexus’ answer to the compact SUV segment; a segment which has an offering from almost every single car brand.


Lexus UX


But the new Lexus UX, which will be introduced to the New Zealand market early next year, manages to stand out in the crowded market with a raft of brave new design elements and the efficiency of a petrol and self-charging hybrid system. Designed to appeal to younger buyers who seek what is new and exciting and relevant to their lifestyle, the UX is infused with dynamic attitude.

“The UX is likely to be the first Lexus for many customers, but also their first luxury vehicle,” Senior General Manager of Lexus New Zealand Paul Carroll says. “It is designed for the modern urban lifestyle with a fresh, contemporary and dynamic take on luxury driving.”



Holden Equinox LTZ-V

Aussie Lion: Holden Equinox LTZ-V

The Holden Captiva wasn’t much to shout about. Against the competition, it sadly failed to cut the mustard in terms of design, function and driving dynamics. Clearly a re-think was required and Holden has responded brilliantly with the all-new Equinox.


Holden Equinox LTZ-V


Aimed squarely at the Mazda CX5 and Honda’s HRV, the Mexican built Equinox, which sits firmly between the smaller Trax and larger all-new Acadia, is leading Holden’s charge in the intensely competitive mid-sized premium SUV market, but is it any good? Styling wise the Equinox is a big improvement over its Captiva predecessor. Its unmistakable American lines certainly help the Equinox stand out. Inside and out, the Equinox is generously well equipped. My test car was the range topping LTZ-V AWD petrol at $56,990. This gets you 19-inch alloys, LED headlights, Hands Free Tailgate and Semi-Automatic Parking.

The LTZ-V contains a barrage of safety kit too. Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, are all a welcome addition to your commute. Plus, the driver’s ‘Haptic Seat’ will vibrate if a hazard in your path is detected. Inside there is a panoramic sunroof, heated/cooled front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, leather trim and Holden’s MyLink infotainment system with digital radio, sat nav and wireless phone charging. The standard Bose stereo also provides you with the closest audio experience to hearing Led Zeppelin live.

These aforementioned toys are all easy to get your head around, though interior quality is sadly lacking with a number of buttons and switches feeling a tad second rate. However, the Equinox claws back with a gargantuan amount of interior space. Whether you factor in the front and rear seats, or its 846-litre boot (which can be increased to 1798-litres with 60/40 split seats folded flat), this cat has more than enough room to swing one. On the move, the Equinox does rather well. The nine-speed automatic box shifts up and down smoothly, and the punch from its 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with 188kW and 353Nm of torque is epic.

From low down to beyond the mid-range, the combination of power and torque left me barrelling along much quicker than expected. However, its combined 8.4L/100km fuel consumption figures mean it does like to drink and infrequent torque steer keeps you on your toes. The LTZ-V is actually a full-time front wheel drive car until you activate the AWD mode on the centre console. Steering can be vague, but in the corners themselves the Equinox, despite a kerb weight of 1778kg, tracks well and true, especially in AWD mode.

Despite the minor drawbacks, the Holden Equinox LTZ-V has a lot going for it. With plenty of grunt, features and class leading interior space, this Holden SUV is well worth considering and proof there is plenty of life in the Aussie lion yet.



Auto Express Car Wash

State of the art: Auto Express Car Wash

There’s a new player in town when it comes to getting your car cleaned and it’s a game-changer.


Auto Express Car Wash


Auto Express Car Wash, next to Burger King at 530B Sawyers Arms Road, offers the most technologically advanced car wash operation in the New Zealand marketplace. It’s a simple process with state of the art technology which is easy to navigate and easy on the budget. You drive up, align your car and the conveyor system guides your vehicle through eight stages of automatic washes. You simply sit back and relax. With six bay vacuum areas as well, there’s no waiting to get your interior clean.


Auto Express Car Wash

With hands-on service and a smile from the passionate Auto Express Car Wash team, your tyres will shine and your bumper will gleam. The 200 horsepower dryers alone are worth going through the process. Recycling 80 percent of the water and using biodegradable detergents, the company strives to be green. You can also limitlessly wash your car per month starting at $49 a month with pre-paid wash cards so you never have to stress about your vehicle looking pristine again.


Auto Express Car Wash

Whether you’re driving an Aston Martin DB9 or a Suzuki Swift, Auto Express Car Wash team will look after your vehicle. Phone 0800 5333 555 for further information or head in during open hours (8am to 6:30pm) and make it the quickest, cleanest and greenest way to keep your car looking great.



Mercedes A200 hatch

Top of the Class: Mercedes A-Class

After months of anticipation, the all-new Mercedes A-Class is finally here. Able to be viewed at Armstrong Prestige at 6 Detroit Place, Addington, the new A-Class completely redefines modern luxury in the compact class, and brings a revolution in interior design.


Mercedes A200 hatch


The all-new A-Class’s clean and stylish design cues mean you are sure to stand out in traffic or in your favourite restaurant car park.
All models of the new A-Class are powered by a new selection of efficient petrol engines in conjunction with Mercedes’ proven seven speed DCT transmission. The A200 powered by the new M 282 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine which produces 120kW of power and 250Nm of torque. Combined fuel economy is just 5.7L per 100km.

The new A-Class gets a tonne of new kit as standard; new 18-inch aero alloy wheels, MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) multimedia system with widescreen cockpit made up of two 10-inch infotainment screens, in conjunction with a touchscreen central display with the latest in satellite navigation. LED headlights with Adaptive High Beam Assist also come as standard. The new A-Class also leads the pack in terms of safety. Nine air bags, Active Brake Assist, Active Parking Assist, Active Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Detection and the all-important reversing camera.

The A200 is priced at $60,900 and with the sportier A250 on the way, now is as good a time as any to visit Armstrong Prestige to secure yourself the new benchmark of the luxury compact segment.



Christchurch European

Drive the Best: Christchurch European

If you’ve had your eye on a sleek new Ferrari, or are in the market for an Aston Martin or a Porsche, Christchurch European can help make those dreams a reality.


Christchurch European


Founded in 2006, Christchurch European has built a nationwide reputation for providing the best range in late model and competitively-priced luxury European motoring. Offering one of New Zealand’s biggest selection of European vehicles, at any one time up to 200 vehicles will be on site for you to choose from. But, if it’s something particularly special you’re after, the experienced team can also source and import vehicles to order thanks to their access to Worldwide supply.

Christchurch European Director Niki Mills says the range features unique, high-spec cars, that cover all brands and bases, including Land Rover/Range Rover, Jaguar, BMW, Audi and Maserati to name a few. “We’re not aligned to any one brand, so we give people more choice and options in that respect,” he says.

Specialising in European vehicles to suit all budgets, finance and extended warranty packages are available. Many vehicles are also still covered under their respective factory new-vehicle cover warranties from new. On arrival, all vehicles are independently complied and inspected by VTNZ, detailed to a very high standard, and it also has its own specialist European vehicle mechanic and auto-electrician on-site.


Keep an eye on the company’s website,, which is updated daily with exciting new additions to the shop floor. For more information, phone 03 366 8328, or email


Toyota Corolla

An Oldie but a Goodie: Toyota Corolla

When Toyota invites you to the national launch of a new Corolla, it’s not an offer to refuse. So, I found myself flying to Toyota New Zealand’s HQ in Palmerston North to be among the first to get acquainted with the newest edition of New Zealand’s favourite car.


Toyota Corolla


More than 44 million Corollas have been built over 50 plus years and these days, one is sold somewhere in the world every 15 seconds. In our neck of the woods, 25.6 percent of our national car fleet are Toyotas and close to 155,000 of those are Corollas.  On the first day of the national launch, we were given a tour of Toyota New Zealand’s parts warehouse. It is mind-boggling to see all the Toyota parts and accessories packaged and ready for delivery to dealerships throughout the country. We also got to see the 2018 Corolla up close for the first time.

There are three spec levels on offer for the new Corolla; the entry point GX, mid-range SX and top end ZR, with the choice of petrol (GX, SX, ZR) or hybrid powertrains (GX, ZR). The range starts at $29,990 for the GX Petrol and tops out at $38,490 for the ZR Hybrid.
Styling wise, the new car has a lower and wider stance than before. Chiseled edges, a more rounded rear and steeply raked screen gives a more muscular presence, which in this writer’s opinion is a good thing. The GX and SX get 16-inch alloys, while the sportier looking ZR gets some very pretty 18s.




Inside, the Corolla exudes a new level of upmarket feel. A simplistic design contrasts to a clear and concise infotainment system and buttock-hugging chairs, which on the ZR are leather and suede, are certainly very comfortable. Head and leg-room are good too. Safety kit, including Lane Departure warning, Dynamic Radar Guided Cruise Control and Road Sign Assist, also adorn the new car.
The next day of the launch event, it was drive time. I started out in the range-topping ZR Hybrid. The 1.8 litre hybrid system, shared with the new Prius, (90kW) is the most economical in its class at 4.2l/100km while emitting 97g/km of C02.

The steering is a tad vague however, thanks to Toyota’s new TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform, the lower centre of gravity makes for a more planted feeling in the bends. The eight-speed Direct Shift CVT changes well and the ride is supple and refined.
Swapping over to the SX Petrol, I found the new 2.0-litre Direct Force four-cylinder engine to be quite perky and eager to go, making driving round the Wairarapa a real giggle.


Power has gone up 21 percent to 125kW and torque up 15 percent to 200Nm. As far as first drive impressions go, the 2018 Corolla did not disappoint. Can’t wait to give both petrol and hybrid versions an in-depth evaluation on Canterbury roads real soon.



First European

Motorcycling in his blood: First European

First European owner Andy Burchall built his first motorcycle when he was 15 years old, using a box of old parts he bought.


First European


“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.


Visit for more information.



Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder

Automotive adrenalin pump: Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder

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.


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.