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2019’s Hot Picks

2019’s Hot Picks

It’s a New Year, with a new line-up of hotly-anticipated vehicles on the automotive horizon. While 2018 was pegged as the year of the SUV, it seems 2019 will be all about electrification, with a new crop of hybrid and full EV models in the pipeline.


2019’s Hot Picks


We’ve got our top ten picks that you can expect to see hitting the roads this year.

  1. 2019 Ford Ranger
  2. Mercedes GLA
  3. Audi A4
  4. BMW 1 Series
  5. Audi RS 7
  6. Honda CR-V hybrid
  7. Ferrari 488 Pista Spider
  8. Mazda 3
  9. Lexus LC F
  10. 2019 Mini Cooper


Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

A Happy Hybrid: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Like a long awaited follow up to a band’s first big album, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is back. In 2014, I had the opportunity to be amongst the first in the country to drive the original Outlander PHEV and, for the time, the plug-in electric hybrid SUV had no equal. Now, with EVs and plug in hybrids becoming a common sight on our roads, can the Outlander PHEV still cut it? Mitsubishi NZ lent me a PHEV over the Christmas and New Year period to find out.


Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV


The new PHEV consists of two spec levels, the XLS at $60,990 and the range-topping VRX at a very special current price of $55,990. Both the XLS and VRX have a good selection of standard kit on hand. Features like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and a reversing camera are much appreciated. Inside you get push button start, keyless entry, dual zone climate control and rain sensing wipers. A clear and concise 7’’ touchscreen Infotainment system supports Apple CarPlay & Android Auto and Bluetooth Connectivity too.

The VRX comes with leather heated electric seats, LED headlights, power tailgate, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot warning, lane change assist, multi around view monitor, rear cross traffic alert and ultra-mis-acceleration mitigation system.
The direct drive plug-in electric and petrol set up makes a welcome return. Both XLS and VRX come with Mitsubishi’s 2.0-litre DOHC MIVEC Petrol engine and twin motor 4WD electric drive system. Power output is 88kW/189Nm. As the PHEV has no gear box, drive is sent to all four wheels via the electric motors. The petrol engine then becomes a generator if needed.

Styling-wise, there is very little to distinguish the PHEV from its conventional petrol counterparts. Only the subtle blue PHEV emblem on the boot and front guards give the game away. The new Outlander is significantly better to look at than the previous generation.

Inside, the switch gear is easy to operate. Instead of a conventional rev counter you have an eco gauge which displays when you are using or charging the battery. A-Pillars are a tad intrusive but visibility itself makes up for this no end. Plus, 463 litres of boot space is nothing to be sniffed it.

On the move, the PHEV is still very car-like to drive. The shift paddles can be used to control the level of regenerative braking which in turn charges the batteries. Whether around suburbia or the motorway, the PHEV still provides you with sublime silent running, with average fuel consumption of 1.7-litres/100km.

While it no longer has the market all to itself, the Outlander PHEV is still a fantastic plug-in package. Plus, the VRX is pretty darn close to its petrol sibling when you factor in price. All in all, Mitsubishi has pulled the rabbit out of the hat once again with the Outlander PHEV.



Mercedes A250

Up a Notch: Mercedes A250

Picking up the vehicle from Armstrong Prestige, I went over everything before I left the yard. Easy to install the phone, check; a beautiful dash-based display with the standard Mercedes touch pad, check; silver metal trim and suede seating with really nice red stitching, check; 165kW, 350Nm 191cc, 4-cylinder, turbocharged engine, check; stunning 18-inch 5-star alloy rims with two-tone colouring, double check.


Mercedes A250


Now let’s see how she performs. Off up the hill to get that first heart-pounding acceleration, it offers superb cornering and plenty of power. After my last experience in the A200, the A250 takes it up a notch in both looks and drive experience. Increasing it by 45kW and 100Nm of torque may not sound like much, but it’s a definite improvement on agility and feel.

The A250 has a smaller feel but there’s plenty of room for four adults on a trip and it’s a good looker, with nice lines on the exterior. I liked the A200, but where it fell down for me was performance, which the A250 more than corrects, giving it the power to go with the looks.

Not a bad price either for what you’re getting with fuel consumption of 6.6 Litres per 100km.  All in all, it’s a great car and if you’re a family traveller or a person wanting a smart, great technology-filled vehicle at a great price, this is the one.



Leading Edge Automotive

Getting the Automotive Edge: Leading Edge Automotive

At Leading Edge Automotive, it is years of experience that gives them the ability to repair prestigious brands like Audi, Mercedes, BMW, VW and all leading European automotive names. When taking your precious asset in for service or repair, you can rest assured that the knowledgeable team at Leading Edge not only has the know-how but also the technology to do the job right, first time.


Leading Edge Automotive


With the summer heat putting the real pressure on your air conditioning system, are you taking your system for granted? Does it seem like it’s not as cool as it used to be? Did you know that you should have it serviced every two years? On average you lose 10 percent of the refrigerant gas that’s required to condition your car every year. The team at Leading Edge checks this in a service. It’s knowledge like this that puts the team above others in the market.

Leading Edge not only services but takes care of warrants of fitness, auto electrics, tyre and wheel alignments, brakes, steering and suspension and so much more using the latest diagnostic equipment.  All work is guaranteed and the team of skilled, professional people with a wide, up to date European car knowledge base are going to know what your car needs to get the job sorted.

You can find Leading Edge at or phone 03 366 3384. Find them at 480 Selwyn Street, just down from the Z Station on Moorhouse Ave; one of Christchurch’s leading automotive specialists.




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.”



Volkswagen Amarok

A Firm Foothold: Volkswagen Amarok

In less than a decade, the Volkswagen Amarok has gained a firm foothold in one of this country’s most competitive segments, the ute.


Volkswagen Amarok


For 2018, VW has breathed new life into the Amarok with an updated V6 Highline and flagship Aventura. Miles Continental allowed me to compare both these models back to back to see how they stack up. The 2018 Amarok V6 range starts at $69,990 for the base model, the Highline at $78,990 and the new Aventura at $89,990. Getting up there yes, but there is certainly a lot of truck for your buck, especially when up to 3.5 tonnes of whatever can be towed to your heart’s content.

Under the bonnet lies the 3.0-litre TDi V6 juggernaut. Both Standard and Highline Amaroks make do with a hefty 165kW/550Nm, while the Aventura gets 190kW/580Nm, with 200kW available on over-boost. The Aventura will also reach the national limit in a mere 7.3 seconds too, making it the fastest and most powerful ute on sale in New Zealand. VW also claims 9.0L/100km (Highline) and 8.6L/100km (Aventura) respectively. Features like dual zone climate control, auto driving lights and reversing camera come as standard on the entry model, while the Highline benefits from LED daytime running lights, parking sensors front and rear, sat nav, chrome highlights and leather trim.

The Aventura gets even more with shift paddles, chrome side steps, 20-inch alloys, stop/start technology, sports bar and the option of the striking Ravenna Blue colour scheme as featured on my test car. The Amarok also is able to lug around more then a tonne of stuff courtesy of that sizeable rear deck. Starting up with the conventional key (no keyless entry here), the V6 purrs very un-diesel like into life. Getting up to speed, the immense get-up-and-go of the V6 becomes all too real. Between 3500 and 4000 rpm, the extra 10kW overboost kicks in, making overtaking a breeze.

The eight-speed automatic box is simple and straight forward, offering slick changes from gear to gear. In the bends, the combination of VW’s 4MOTION four-wheel-drive system and ‘Servotronic’ steering, means the Aventura corners more car-like than you would initially expect. The only trade off is a slightly firmer ride. Off the beaten track in off-road mode, the Amarok is also very capable. Climbing every mountain and fording every stream will soon become your forte.

In summary, for those wanting to make a statement, the new Aventura is the only way to go. However, I’d be more than happy with the V6 Highline. Either way, you still end up with one of the most rugged, yet refined utes on our roads today.



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.



yoogo Share

Sharing is Caring: Yoogo share

As the electric car movement heats up in New Zealand, a local start-up has chosen Christchurch as the first city in the country to launch its innovative, future-focused car sharing initiative. Cantabrians using Yoogo Share have already saved 50 tonnes of carbon, or the equivalent of more than 20,000 litres of petrol being used.


yoogo Share


For Kirsten Corson, getting behind the wheel of a traditional combustion engine vehicle is akin to driving an old tractor. But put her behind the wheel of an electric car and she’s a happy woman. Not surprising then that she is helping more Kiwis experience the thrill of going electric, as the General Manager of Yoogo Share, the company behind New Zealand’s first 100 percent electric car sharing service.
Launched in Christchurch in February, Yoogo Share has brought 100 pure electric vehicles (EVs) to eight (and counting!) locations throughout Christchurch. It’s free to join and there are no membership fees; simply sign-up (membership criteria applies), get sent a Yoogo Share access card, then book and drive the vehicles as and when needed.

Christchurch City Council initiated the service when they put out a tender in 2017 for electric car sharing as part of the city’s rebuild. Fast forward to early 2018 and Kirsten found herself officially launching Yoogo Share alongside Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Yoogo Share business members love driving the electric cars for getting to meetings and running errands. A more convenient option than ride hailing or public transport, they’re also great fun to drive. Plus, you only pay for the time you use the car, with all other costs including insurance and storage covered by the hourly rate.


Get the first hour of your booking free for up to five bookings to test drive the electric cars


Meanwhile, for private members, the shared electric cars are a great alternative to a second car, with many families choosing to sell their second car that often sits unused. For people who commute to work via public transport, walking or cycling, the cars are ideal for those times when you do need a car such as picking up shopping or longer journeys when public transport isn’t an option. So why share? With petrol prices higher than ever before and the high cost of purchase for electric cars, you can drive an electric car without having to buy one. In fact, no insurance, WOF, registration, repairs, maintenance or fuel costs. Plus, with no tailpipe emissions, Yoogo Share is helping improve Christchurch’s air quality.

With 50 tonnes of carbon savings already under their belt, Yoogo Share’s members are expected to make 100 tonnes of carbon savings by Christmas. To mark the milestone, the company partnered with the Department of Conservation, Meridian Energy and Hyundai to help restore the Evans Pass valley, planting 1,000 native trees to represent the kilometres travelled by Yoogo Share members.

To try out the electric car sharing experience, the first hour is free for 1,000 bookings for Yoogo Share private members, thanks to their energy partners in Canterbury, Meridian Energy. Private members can get the first hour of their booking free for up to five bookings, giving everybody the opportunity to try Yoogo Share cars. So what are you waiting for? After all, sharing is caring.



Yoogo Share