The chance to drive the new Ford Endura range around Queenstown earlier this month was a great opportunity to put the five-seater, twin turbo, 2 L performance diesel through its paces on some great terrain.
Winding through the Crown Range to Wanaka, I got a real feel for how smooth the new generation platform will run in New Zealand conditions.
Called the ‘Edge’ in the northern hemisphere, the Endura is an SUV that can provide the power and torque needed for a great drive and will fill an important space in the Ford product range.
Refined and spacious, yet with a very capable boot space, I could see a strong resemblance to the Landover Discovery Sport in both looks and performance, with a price tag starting at $73,990.
The high profile of the bonnet and the 20-inch rims make for appealing eye candy but with an 154kW/450Nm engine and electronic stability program (ESP) that made cornering and drive through very pleasurable on such a challenging drive, it’s much more than just a good looker.
I was going to try it on the rough gravel road to Cardona ski field but was way laid at the Cardona Distillery, a must see when in Otago, testing the orange liqueur, vodka and gin. The silver-lining of this hold up was that I got the opportunity to find out what the passenger experience is like while my companion on the trip drove back.
Key features include leather trim and seating, Apple CarPlay, eight-inch colour touch screen, heated seats – great for those cold Queenstown mornings – and with a great satellite navigation system in such a quiet cabin, you hardly heard the drive. Overall the experience was brilliant; a worthy addition to the Ford line-up and a great option for someone looking for a quality SUV.
From the outside, the new BMW X3 xdrive30i is a good-looking BMW X3, but on the inside… spectacular! I opened the door to a combination of black and cream leather and trim with great lines and elegant features.
The centre dashboard incorporates Apple Car play with an interactive media system which was easy to use and, combined with the Harman Kardon sound system, enjoyable.
I took it to Mount Somers and really got the feel of a solid driving vehicle – four cylinders with 185kW of torque; it’s sturdy with power right when you need it.
Driving a new car, I’m looking for outstanding features and, on the way back, I encountered one. An accident logo appeared on the screen on the trip computer. Sure enough, we discovered there had been an accident. The feature enables you to navigate around accidents and road works with its interactive online system.
Featuring gesture control, heads up display and driving assistant, it’s loaded with top of the line features. The sunroof is pleasant, and the automatic rear opening and closing is such a great feature for busy people getting family/work loaded and unloaded.
With so many bespoke options among the variant models, 10 different types of alloys alone, there’s an option for everyone. Now I’ve been a fan of BMW since the 1980s, so you’re preaching to the converted, but this has been a standout SUV based on its interior features and pure driving pleasure. It’s great to see and feel quality when you drive. The BMW is stocked right to the sunroof on all this.
When it comes to the automobile, the road to success has been paved with innovation and, although one could argue the automotive vehicle’s modern incarnation works in much the same way as its early predecessors, there’s no denying that it is an industry which continues to push the bounds of technology.
At its heart, the manufacturing processes behind vehicle production are becoming quicker, cheaper, safer, more efficient and better for the environment, with the automotive industry estimated to be 90 percent cleaner than 20 years ago, despite epic increases in production.
The resulting products too are more creative, clever, cleaner and colourful than ever before. We look at the driving forces behind this innovative industry.
TRUCKS TOP CHARTS
In New Zealand, the land of the long white cloud is becoming the land of SUVs and utes, with the best-selling vehicles of the Kiwi automotive charts for the past three years consisting of almost no traditional cars.
The leader of the automotive pack for the past three years, the Ford Ranger headed both the light-commercial and overall new-vehicle sales segments for 2017, ahead of the Toyota Hilux.
The popularity of these beefed up vehicles shows no sign of abating, which brings us to our next automotive trend…
There’s an SUV in the range of almost every mainstream manufacturer now and their ‘souped up’ styling is having an increasing influence on the design of other vehicles, as standard car models become rugged versions of their more traditional rides, with raised suspension and additional body cladding.
In fact, Crossover Utility Vehicles (CUVs) are becoming the darlings of urban forecourts, with the craze expected to continue to increase throughout 2018 as even more manufacturers get in on the action. Often more affordable to purchase and cheaper to run than traditional SUVs, they still offer the raised ride and high driving position we’re craving.
No longer is vehicle shopping a one size fits all affair, with colour customisation proving increasing popular. Manufacturers are accommodating the market’s desire for unique colour combinations and never before have there been so many possibilities.
A popular player in the ‘baby SUV’ market, the Citroen C3 Aircross offers 85 creative combinations, while Nissan offers more than 100 for both the exterior and interior of the small city runaround, the Micra.
HYBRIDS GO HUGE
There’s been a significant increase in interest in petrol hybrids and, as more models hit the market, we can certainly expect this trend to continue.
The longer battery ranges of plug-in hybrids and electric cars further increases their appeal and, as engines get smaller, more economical and cleaner without losing any power, they are getting attention on the mainstream market.
Vehicles are getting smarter, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto heading towards ubiquity in 2018. Making the apps you use on your smartphone available every time you get behind the wheel, options such as Bluetooth, sat-nav and parking sensors – once the domain of premium brands – are now standard features in most new vehicles coming into the market.
And better yet, wireless charging is increasingly common, as the number of smartphone handsets with this capability increases.
SAFETY AS STANDARD
We have seen many more vehicles offered with safety features such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and blind spot detection as standard or at least as an affordable option.
With a greater emphasis being put on safety as a selling point for cars we should begin to see more advanced safety tech as standard as the year goes on.
Strong customer relationships are one of the pillars of commercial success, but Armstrong Prestige has taken this concept to the next level.
The company recently flew some of its best customers down to Warbirds Over Wanaka, cooked up a storm with celebrity chef Annabel Langbein and got the ladies out on the track to experience some of their finest vehicles with Ladies Day at Ruapuna.
There are, of course, great vehicles constantly showing up too, with the all new X-Class that arrived mid-April. Just one of the new models in the Mercedes-Benz family, the highly anticipated top of the range utility vehicle is catered to light commercial applications.
“It features a rare combination of striking looks, raw power and beautiful interior design – including intelligent networking, high ride comfort and refined finishes,” Armstrong Prestige’s Simon Spencer Xu says.
The new AMG Performance Centre is now set to open mid-June. The second showroom to be built in New Zealand, it’s the Christchurch incarnation of a global initiative giving dedicated space to Mercedes-AMG product, with motorsport-themed display areas and specialist staff trained at AMG headquarters in Affalterbach. In conjunction with the Performance Centre opening, Armstrong’s showroom is also getting a makeover.
There is always something to look forward to down at Armstrong Prestige, with a team of sincere people genuinely dedicated to getting you into the right vehicle and continuing to provide the latest in quality vehicles and service.
For more information, visit the showroom at 6 Detroit Place, phone
03-343 2468 or visit armstrongmotorgroup.com.
Ever since the 2CV, Citroen’s resume is filled to the brim with fun compact cars full of character. Being a former Citroen AX GT owner, I am happy to supply a reference for this. However in recent times, Citroen’s small C3 range, which began in 2002, began to slowly lose that ‘joie de vivre’ which made the line up unique. Now though, the all-new C3 is here with more tech, willing engines and, of course, plenty of character and style from $26,990.
Whether you factor in the two tier light cluster coupled with thin LED daytime running lights, or the floating roof design, available in contrasting colours, the C3 is a funky visual return to form for the French manufacturer. This form is also functional, with the air bump panels on the driver and passenger doors, first seen on the C4 Cactus. This means that shopping mall car park door dings are a thing of the past.
The Puretech 1.2-litre turbocharged three cylinder engine is the C3’s sole engine choice, producing 81kW and 205Nm of torque. This coupled with a six speed automatic box gives you combined fuel figures of 4.9L/100km.
Inside we find a simplistic and stylish cabin. The luggage strap inspired door handles really stand out and the amount of head and legroom is certainly generous. The new C3 is 82 mm longer than its predecessor and bootspace has increased to 300 litres. The centre 7-inch touchscreen infotainment unit houses the controls for the climate control, media interface and Bluetooth, and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Other tech includes Lane Departure Warning and Citroen’s optional ConnectedCam system. This utilises a HD wide angle camera with 16GB memory to take photos and record videos while on the move. Perfect to prove any accident you may have wasn’t your fault.
On the move, the C3’s award winning turbo three cylinder engine is a real peach. Its raspy exhaust note sounds mechanical and alive above 3,000rpm. A sweet reminder you are driving a car, not a hairdryer. Power delivery is relatively brisk but not rapid by any means. That said, it comes alive when you give it a boot full while overtaking.
A bit of body roll in the bends shows the C3 is definitely geared more for ride comfort. Its soft suspension manages to soak up all the potholes and bumps you could imagine. Steering does possess a lack of driver feedback but is certainly quick and precise, ideal when negotiating those often treacherous multi storey car parks.
In summary, the 2018 Citroen C3 will not be everyone’s cup of tea. However it still manages to hold its own in a fiercely competitive market, providing a well-priced, spacious, refined, fun little package with all the zest and charm that small Citroens of recent times have been lacking. Put simply, Citroen is back.
First European has welcomed an Italian racing legend into its Sydenham showroom and it offers all the luxury, speed and good looks one could expect from the Italians.
With an illustrious past, MV Agusta first rose to prominence in the early twentieth century when it belonged to a pioneer of the fledgling aeronautics industry, count Giovanni Agusta. Agusta aircraft production soared during the First World War before the focus turned from aircraft to motorcycles post-World War II and a world champion was born.
The glory years for MV Agusta were from 1948 when Franco Bertoni won the 125 cc in the Italian Grand Prix, to 1976 when Agusta retired from Grand Prix racing at the end of the 1976 season, having won 270 Grand Prix motorcycle races, 38 World Riders’ Championships and 37 World Constructors’ Championships.
After a few years off the track, 2004 marked the company’s return to racing and to victory and every year has been a little bit better for this racing legend.
MV Agusta has taken the bold step of adding the initials of the company’s racing department – Reparto Corse – and the move signifies the exceptional quality and styling which is directly derived from its efforts at the World Superbike Championship.
There’s an exciting range of five Reparto Corse special edition models available from MV Agusta, from the high-end F3 RC supersport in both 675 and 800 versions, to the new special Brutale 800 RR Pirelli, the updated version of the rare and collectable Dragster 800 RC and the F3 800 has joined the gang.
To find out more, visit First European at 114 Carlyle Street, Sydenham or phone 03-3662201.
Dubworld has been one of Christchurch’s most trusted Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda specialists for more than a decade.
Located at 65 Disraeli Street, Dubworld has earned an award-winning reputation by providing local owners of Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda vehicles a one stop shop for repairs, service and mechanical know-how. The team’s professionalism, great customer service, experience and enthusiasm for these cars is second to none.
With more than 30 years’ experience between them, Dubworld’s professional mechanical team – led by owner and manager Nathan – knows just about everything there is to know about Volkswagen models. Repairs on brakes, suspension, clutches, engine tuning and ECU diagnostics is just some of the work Nathan’s team can carry out on your vehicle.
Plus, the team can break everything down for you, so you can understand how your car performs. Dubworld also offers courtesy cars to keep you mobile while your vehicle is being worked on.
As an authorised repairer for mechanical warranty companies, Dubworld’s workshop is filled with the latest specialised tools which allow specific work on all late model Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda vehicles.
Whether you are after a wheel alignment, WOF, basic service or mechanical repair for your Golf or Octavia, Dubworld is your one stop shop.
For more information visit www.dubworld.co.nz, call 03-365 3744 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When Lexus launched the NX back in 2014, it very quickly became hot property for buyers in the luxury compact SUV market, with its groundbreaking design, quality and attention to detail. Fast forward to 2018 and the old favourite has been given new life by way of a few updates, so we went to find out exactly what’s what.
Lexus has a unique design philosophy that couldn’t be more Japanese. The same striking Transformer like angles and curves carry on, but it offers an updated front end, accompanied by the trademark wide grill and LED headlights are fitted as standard.
There are four models that make up the revised NX range. The entry level NX300 in two-wheel drive, the NX300 in four-wheel drive, the F-Sport and the Limited spec, with the latter two available with an optional hybrid set up.
The NX300 AWD featured in our test, is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder engine producing 175kW of grunt and 350Nm of torque. Mated to a six speed automatic box, the AWD returns 5.7L/100km respectively. A 2.5 litre petrol engine works in conjunction with hybrid models and eco, normal and sport drive modes still make an appearance.
The major overhaul as far as tech is concerned is with driver safety, with all models now coming standard with adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam headlights, lane keep assist, lane departure alert, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring.
The 7-inch infotainment screen, displaying sat nav, air con, media and other bits and bobs has grown to 10.3 inches, giving much more clarity. Plus the Mark Levinson sound system, which has been a regular feature in past models, makes a welcome return. All features can be controlled via Lexus’ laptop like touchpad, though this is not quite as cutting edge as I was expecting.
The sumptuous heated/air-conditioned leather chairs are perfect for slobbing out on the commute home. For rear seat passengers, head room can be a little restrictive however, this can be remedied by titling the electric reclining 60/40 split folding rear seats.
On the move, the turbo four pot pulls well, with most of its 175kW coming to life low in the rev range. The new NX range benefits from retuned suspension so cornering smoothly is an effortless pastime.
Select sport mode and flick down a paddle for the often mandatory overtake and the NX performs this task with ease. The NX’s coup de grace is ride quality, even the pothole-ravaged roads of Christchurch are hardly noticeable. Simply stick it in eco mode and waft away.
Prices for the 2018 NX range start at $82,400 and, after spending a week in its company, the Lexus NX’s little updates all add up to make a better all rounder and leaves little doubt that it’s future in this very competitive market is secure.
I drove up to the film set of ‘Monster Man’ in the Mercedes A180, a film I play a pretty rough Maori fella in. Not quite the picture you get of a driver of this refined, elegant little vehicle is it?
Gumboots, unshaven with a Swanndri and beanie: quite the contrast to this 90kW, 200Nm 0-100 in 8.6 seconds, 5.8 litre athletic performer. However, I got the chance to drop gumboot on the accelerator all the way to the Hurunui and found it a pleasure to drive.
It’s a looker – like me, right! – with all the style you expect from Mercedes. A relatively affordable price, with entry level at $47,900. It’s a hatchback, but you wouldn’t know that from the front with its sleek grille. It was great on fuel consumption and even though I’m not a great fan of column shift, most other features make it a good all-rounder.
There’s room for school bags, groceries – and real estate signs! The sunroof gives an open cabin feeling and the black and silver interior creates a nice clean feel. Exterior lines and profile are nice too.
Things that get the tick? Sunroof, automatic tension adjusting seatbelts, interior, dash interaction, steering and acceleration controls, refined interior and iPad style display. It has its place in the Mercedes fleet: it’s a sporty number for around town and I liked the open road performance. Talk to the team at Armstrong Prestige about a test drive. If you’re after comfort, sportiness and safety features, you’re not wasting your time.
This year’s new model Mitsubishi 2018 ASX was a real surprise to review. It’s a small SUV but what I discovered was the only small thing about it was the price, with a cost of only $26,000.
For that price, one might expect low end features; the ASX was anything but. At 112 kW it had plenty of power to zip around in. It’s a 2L and seemed to be really good on the petrol too. It was a smooth all-wheel drive and plenty of room in the cabin for the kids and all their gear.
Interior seating has changed from a fabric version in last years to a funky stitching and leather trim. The rear has been upgraded too taking it from a rather ‘normal’ look to something a little bit more special. A nice set of alloys too, so overall the whole package was a pleasant surprise. iPhone integration on an easy to use 7” touch screen with two USB connection charger/audio ports left me thinking that the ASX has everything that the modern driver looks for. How they do it at that price I’ll never know!
Cargo room was enough for anything my family can throw at it. Yes, it doesn’t have the auto rear opening door like its more expensive competitors, but it would tick a lot of boxes on someone looking for an SUV and I still can’t get over the bang for buck you get from this vehicle. Good on you Mitsubishi ASX, go you good thing.