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?
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.
In 2011 BMW introduced its ‘i’ brand to incorporate all of its electric plug-in vehicles or hybrids. Last year I was fortunate enough to drive the exceptional i8. This month I was introduced to its zippy little cousin, the unique BMW i3.
The base model of the i-range, the i3 also has a bigger brother: the i3s. Looks-wise, it’s a bit like a ‘cube’, with unique suicide doors that open up, revealing no centre pillar and rear seats that can be laid flat to allow an amazing amount of storage space in the boot area. It also has a surprising amount of leg room and a large front windscreen.
It’s packed with loads of great details like the carbon fibre chassis and hemp interior panelling, making it not only light, but also a little bit greener.
The concierge system is a BMW service that allows you to connect with someone to assist you if you are lost or need assistance. Yes! Even if you’re looking for good Indian food in another city! Crazy, huh? The Li-ion battery is 33kWh and, although that doesn’t sound very powerful, I felt it was more than enough for getting around town.
And that’s really what this is; an easy to park, no petrol cost, rear view camera, turn cycle of 9.9 meters, town mobile. With petrol prices around $2.30 a litre, most of us are thinking of options. Charging from your garage wall socket, easy to use, a $77,200 starting price, all with a 200km range.
Although comments about how it looked were not super complimentary, I found it cute with its 19-inch BMW i-light alloy wheels, turbine styling, easy connectivity and simplicity of use being great features. Its keyless entry and start were good, but the ignition switch, park and gear lever sit behind the steering wheel on what people would call a column shift.
That was a little annoying, I thought, though the reasoning I guess is so that you are constantly thinking about being on/off or driving so you don’t make the mistake of leaving it in drive and having it roll away. Unlike a fuel car, it doesn’t give you clues when you take your foot off the accelerator that it’s still in gear.
Charging time is not long but like your phone, you’re going to have to make sure it’s put on the charger at the end of the day. Even though it has regeneration power options when driving, you do have the option of quick charge and that takes about 15 minutes at locations that offer them. This is BMW’s mass production electronic offering for the day to day vehicle and in my opinion, it’s good! To take a test drive, go and see the wonderful Mary or Lorenzo at Christchurch BMW to try for yourself. Good driving.
The man at the Rangiora Caltex was in awe. “Wow beautiful car mate! It’s a Stingray aye?” One could not fault him on his observation skills, for the car in my care for the day was a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, one of the true giants of automotive Americana.
The Corvette is the definitive all-American sports car. Having been in continuous production since 1953, very few people, petrolheads or not, haven’t heard of Chevrolet’s wild child. While countless variants have come and gone, each of which have their equal share of fans, the second-generation Corvette Stingray represents, for many, the Corvette’s finest hour.
This 67 Stingray, supplied by Waimak Classic Cars, has all the muscle and style of Muhammad Ali. Whether you take in the beefed up rear haunches, pop up headlights, shark gill like side air vents, text book long bonnet with sloping rear coupe lines, or the wrap around rear window (earlier models had a split rear screen), a Stingray is a car you can gawp at for hours.
Like Ali in the ring, the Stingray’s 5.2-litre 327 Cubic Inch V8 packs a punch. While many lust after the 427 Big-Block, the workhorse 327, in this writer’s opinion, provides more than enough grunt than is needed. Producing a claimed 300 hp, it’s mated to a three-speed automatic box, which happens to be silky smooth.
The Stingray’s cabin is one of simplicity. The wood rim wheel and simple white on black instruments stare at you, while the oversized analogue clock takes centre stage. Other options include a sideways mounted push button AM radio and electric windows.
Hold the brake pedal, turn the key and that delicious V8 triumphantly fires. At idle you can almost hear every single cylinder firing. Ah the grumbling bliss of a simple small block.
Once in drive and on the move, you quickly remember you are driving a fifty-year-old American car, and all which that implies. Steering is very vague and you won’t be coming to a stop quickly, but you forget all that the moment you give it stick.
Feed in the power and that muscular bonnet, which seems to stretch to the horizon, rises with ease. In the bends it actually tracks well despite the complete lack of steering feel and its prehistoric leaf spring suspension set up.
However, the Corvette comes into its own when out for a cruise. Whether rumbling around your local suburban stomping ground or at 100km/h along a straight North Canterbury road with one arm on the wheel and one out the window, the Stingray makes you giggle as it turns heads and devours the miles.
Then as soon as it arrived, it was gone. And, as this writer watched it rumble away, the words from the man at Caltex rang loud and clear, “What a beautiful car”. And the Corvette Stingray is just that. Beautiful.
The last time we saw a Mitsubishi ‘Eclipse’ it was during early noughties and it was a soft, wallowy coupe built for the American market. Now though, like it did with the Mirage, Mitsubishi has resurrected the Eclipse brand to showcase its latest sports soft roader, the Eclipse Cross.
For those after something smaller than an Outlander, yet bigger than an ASX, the Eclipse Cross fills a gap in an ever-growing niche market for the Japanese manufacturer.
Visually the Eclipse is the Marmite of the motoring world – its edgy styling won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the distinctive sharp angles and one of a kind tail section brings a real statement to the Mitsubishi family.
The range consists of four models, starting with the entry point 2WD XLS at $41,690 and finishes with our test car, the top of the range AWD VRX at $47,590.
All variants come standard with Mitsubishi’s infotainment system with seven-inch screen, Apple Car Play and Android Auto. All infotainment functions are controlled by a mousepad in easy reach of the driver, though it does require a frim press. Other standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, lane departure warning, and reversing camera.
The VRX we tested, thanks to its $5,900 premium, over-the-entry-level XLS, comes with adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, heated electric seats and a very clear and concise head-up display.
The interior itself, for driver and passengers, is a nice place to be. Leather chairs are very supportive and sitting upright makes for a good driving position. Rear passenger headroom is a tad restrictive due to the sloping roof line and 374 litres of boot space is modest at best. However, drop the 60-40 split rear seats and this increases to 653 litres.
All models also share Mitsubishi’s all-new 1.5-litre MIVEC turbo petrol engine with 112kW of power and 254Nm of torque. Mated to an eight-speed CVT auto, you will be returning fuel figures of 7.3L/100km.
On the move, power delivery from the MIVEC Turbo is linear and very smooth. Electric power steering does lack in feel but still manages to be sharp and precise. The high riding stance means you aren’t as planted in the bends and it does get a bit wobbly, but thanks to the AWD system, there is plenty of grip on hand to keep you out of the trees.
The Eclipse Cross shines best when cruising motorways and suburbia. On the former, simply set the adaptive cruise control at 100km/h and the engine just hums as you waft along on a wave of torque. Plus the addition of suspension and damper tweaks makes for a sublime ride.
All in all, thanks to a sweet power unit, good levels of equipment, and that love or hate styling, the all-new Eclipse Cross, despite a few niggles, is well-worth considering.
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.
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.
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.