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BMW i3

Electrically charged: this little electric BMW is all powered up and ready to go

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.

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.

BMW i3Although 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.

Stingray

Chevrolet’s wild child: The Stingray

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.

Stingray

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.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Resurrecting a classic: Mitsubishi brings back the Eclipse and our writer Ben Selby has given us the run-down on it

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.

Mitsubishi 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.

Mitsubishi Eclipse CrossThe 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.

Cars and Coffee

A clever automotive combo: Cars and Coffee

Let’s be honest, the closest most of us get to experiencing a million-dollar member of supercar royalty is when saying “On the way to work this morning, a brand-new Lamborghini went past me”.

Cars and Coffee

However, on 13 May, the inaugural Christchurch Cars and Coffee event took place at Garden City Helicopters’ new state of the art helicopter and private-jet facility. This gave fellow petrolheads the chance to see not just three or four, but 60 plus rare and exotic classic and supercars up close and personal. Naturally, we couldn’t pass this up.
Cars and Coffee is a worldwide phenomenon, with regular events taking place globally every year. Each event is designed to bring together owners and enthusiasts of dream cars for a meet and greet over a coffee or two.
Flushed with the success of Cars and Coffee’s New Zealand launch at Auckland’s Viaduct last year, car obsessed event founders Ian Chan and Sean Young were determined to bring that action south. “We were blown away at the success of the first New Zealand launch in Auckland back in 2017, so we had no doubts that Christchurch would be just as successful, if not greater,” Chan says.
“Our mission was always, and still is, to bring the C&C brand to all of New Zealand. We all know that little old New Zealand has a great presence of supercars and classics and our goal is to give New Zealand the opportunity to shine on the global C&C platform.”

Cars and CoffeeLined up for all to see were so many greatest hits of current and classic automotive mecca. Thoroughbreds like Ferraris 458 and F12, Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, McLaren 650S Spyder, a gorgeous Lancia Stratos Replica, and countless Porsches, including a very tasty 911 RSR, kept Euro enthusiasts, and myself, very happy.
Lovers of American Iron were also spoiled, with ZR1 Corvettes, Mustangs, a Cobra, and a 600 Horsepower Camaro attracting green eyed stares. Also, the new Honda Civic Type R and legendary NSX showcased Japan’s fastest toys.
Sean has a deep knowledge of Christchurch’s supercar scene and knew there would be a big turnout. “Well we know for a fact there is a high calibre of cars present in Christchurch. Anything from your latest Astons, Lamborghinis, Ferraris such as the F12, Porsche GT3s, to the likes of true classics such as Lancias, 930 turbos, Morgans, Fords… the list goes on. We want to bring out the best of Christchurch, that’s for sure.”
Can we expect another Christchurch Cars and Coffee in the future? “We are aiming to make the event bi-annual at least but would love to see more in the calendar year,” Sean says.
All in all, Cars and Coffee Christchurch provided all the entertainment a passionate petrolhead could have on a Sunday morning. Oh, and the coffee was terrific too.

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.

HOLDEN SUV

An automotive overview: change and challengers in the modern motoring world

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.

NISSAN NAVARA
NISSAN NAVARA

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…

HOLDEN SUV
HOLDEN SUV

 

CROSSOVER CRAZE

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.

CLEVER CUSTOMISATION

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.

VEHICLE APP-EAL

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.

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.

First European

A luxurious launch: First European adds prestigious MV Agusta to it’s collection

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.

First European

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.

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.