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BMW X3 xdrive30i

Elegantly exceptional: our writer Nick Henare reviews the new BMW X3 xdrive30i

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.

BMW X3 xdrive30i

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.

Citroen C3

Return to form: Ben Selby reviews the 2018 Citroen C3

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.

Citroen C3

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.

Citroen C3 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.

Lexus NX

Hot property: The Lexus NX needs to go home with you

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 NX

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.

Mercedes A180

A sporty little number: Mercedes A180

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?

Mercedes A180
Mercedes A180

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.

Mitsubishi 2018 ASX

Bang for your buck: Mitsubishi 2018 ASX review

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.

Mitsubishi 2018 ASX
Mitsubishi 2018 ASX: HOW THEY DO IT AT THAT PRICE I’LL NEVER KNOW!

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.

2018 Ford Mustang

A pop culture icon: 2018 Ford Mustang review

Last year’s Cup Week I was selected by Hertz as an Ambassador for the 2017 Ford Mustang. It was a great insight into the passion Ford owners have for the iconic motor vehicle. All week questions fired at me would have me running to Ford to fill the gaps of knowledge.

2018 Ford Mustang

There’s Facebook pages dedicated to owners, fun events and drives every month and a real respect amongst owners for different versions. From 1965 to the present, the Ford Mustang is a pop culture icon. The debate over what is was named after, the horse or the P51 plane, still rages on, but in the end it’s a work of art.
This year’s model is on the way and I can’t say I’m not excited to get back in the hot seat. Ford’s legendary 5.0-litre V8 engine has been thoroughly reworked, with more power and the ability to rev higher than any Mustang GT before.
The 2018 Mustang GT has 33kW more power than its predecessor, delivering a peak of 339kW – around 450 horsepower – as standard. This power increase has been achieved with the first application for Mustang of Ford’s new dual-fuel, high-pressure direct injection and low-pressure port fuel injection on a V8 engine.
The 5.0-litre Coyote V8 also packs 556Nm of torque, while the EcoBoost delivers 224kW with 441Nm torque. This made an impressive combination as I took last year’s model around Ruapuna. It’s a stable performer on handling, cornering and steering. This year’s model is out soon. Keep an eye out, you’ll notice it.

Volvo XC60

New kid on the automotive block: Volvo XC60 review

Volvo’s history is littered with the wacky and wonderful, but in musical terms, its greatest hit single of recent years has to be the XC60 SUV, the Swedish firm’s best selling model ever. Now, there is a new XC60 on the block, boasting more tech, more comfort and more style than ever before.

Volvo XC60
A NEW XC60 ON THE BLOCK BOASTING MORE TECH, MORE COMFORT AND MORE STYLE THAN EVER BEFORE

The new XC60 is built on Volvo’s ‘Scalable Platform Architecture’ which it shares with its bigger sibling, the XC90 and, both inside and out, the XC60’s stunning lines leave it almost identical to its flagship brother, apart from some rear light cluster tweaks.
The XC60 shares a range of 2.0 litre engines made up of two diesels (D4 and D5) and the T5 and T6 petrol. The addition of a very clever top of line T8 Twin-Engine utilising plug-in electric hybrid technology has also contributed to the new XC60’s bragging rights. Our test car was fitted with the T5 petrol engine with 187kW of grunt and 350Nm of torque, while returning a very respectable 7.3litres/100km.
Our car also featured the range topping R-Design style package, which includes a sportier chassis, gorgeous 5-triple-spoke alloy wheels, matte silver door mirrors made for a visual feast when passing shop windows.
Interior appointment is something Volvo does extremely well. Every button you press oozes quality and the centrepiece touch screen infotainment system is clear and easy to operate. The XC60 comes with plenty of kit as standard but the optional Premium Pack would definitely be worth considering, which includes air suspension, heated front seats, tinted glass and the truly epic Bowers and Wilkins Sound System, which endured plenty of Hans Zimmer while on test.
Front and rear, the XC60 is very spacious with copious amounts of head and legroom. Boot space is good but not massive at 635 litres, though unless you are hauling tombstones, this is not really an issue. Plus the size increases to 1,432 litres with the rear seats folded flat.
Moving off and you feel snugly cocooned within the cabin, leaving it easy to see that Volvo is pathological about your safety. Volvo’s proven City Safe system is always on alert, ready to detect if a car is too close in front and put the brakes on quicker than you would yourself. Coincidentally the XC60 was named 2017’s safest car by Euro NCAP with their coveted five star safety rating.
On the move in comfort mode and despite the sporty Pirelli P-Zero rubber, every pothole and rough surface feels almost non existent. Performance can best be described as brisk but not super sporty. Then again, the XC60 is more about relaxed progress. In the bends the car does feel heavy, but turn in is crisp and sharp in dynamic mode. One would happily head to Wanaka and back in one of these.

The all new PEUGEOT 5008

A well thought out package: Peugeot’s 5008 review

Flushed with the success from its European Car of the Year winning 3008 soft-roader, Peugeot has decided to revisit that winning formula and give its slightly bigger 5008 the same treatment – and it seems to have pulled it off.

The all new PEUGEOT 5008
The all new PEUGEOT 5008

The 5008 boasts more space inside and thanks to two more foldaway rear seats, you have a fully-fledged seven-seater. That said, the new 5008 is pretty much identical in style, whether inside or out, to its slightly smaller 3008 counterpart, and that isn’t exactly a bad thing.
Two levels of trim are on offer, the Allure and sportier looking GT, with prices starting at $47,990 for the Allure discussed here. The 5008 features the same engines as the 3008, with both petrol and diesel available. The 1.6 litre petrol in our test car produces 120kW of grunt and will return a combined fuel figure of 7.3L/100km respectively. Despite being front wheel drive only, the 5008 contains five driving modes, normal, mud, sand, snow and ESP off; all of which tailor the engine’s power output to suit the conditions.
The interior is easily one of the 5008’s best features. I loved it for its quality touches, complemented by futuristic angles and layout. One could easily see James Kirk doing the school run in one of these. All models get an easy to use touch screen infotainment system coupled with Apple Carplay, Android Auto, 3D Sat Nav, Dual Zone Climate Control, Blind Spot Detection and Keyless Start as standard kit, plus the 12 inch HD driver display and its features are clear and concise.
Inside there are oodles of nooks and crannies for storage, including compartments under the rear passenger foot well. Plus, the extra rear seats can be stored away or removed completely, giving you a whopping 780 litres of boot space.
Front and rear, the seats themselves offer plenty of lateral support without sacrificing comfort and the extra length in the wheel base over the 3008, 4641mm, means the 5008 has more space for you to slob out. Head and legroom front and rear is generous even, believe it or not, for the extra seats in the rear.
On the move and with la petite steering wheel in your mitts, you would be forgiven in thinking you were driving a hot hatchback, rather than a seven seater SUV. Steering is nicely weighted and quite responsive, whether in town or on your way to Akaroa, though not what you would normally expect from a car in this class.
It’s on the open road where the 5008 really shines with excellent ride comfort and the eager 1.6 litre petrol engine pulls well. Not the USS Enterprise by any means, but commendable performance for a big car nonetheless.
Though not for everyone, the new 5008 gives you willing engines, superb comfort and tonnes of space for lugging things about. All in all, a well thought-out package which complements its award winning younger sibling perfectly.