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Author: Nicholas Henare

As good as it gets


Mitsubishi is renowned for being a solid, sturdy build – especially when it comes to their Outlander range.

 

 

It’s increasingly going from a rural vehicle to an urban one; ideal for the family that needs something to tow the boat, caravan, jet ski or bikes. The new PHV has increased handling, power and off-road capabilities; its 2.4L engine delivers to even the most discerning SUV expert.

As a hybrid, its EV range is up to 55km. There is a fast-charge option and it’s ideal if you want a day-to-day vehicle that is electric, but with the peace of mind that you can flick to fuel should you need to.

With a starting price of $52,990 it provides a lot of bang for buck when it comes to an SUV with real off-road capabilities. A fleet vehicle for quite a few companies, it’s an SUV that can be relied on to get the job done, which is why it’s an award-winner.

Style-wise it’s got some fine lines and the interior is as good as it gets. With 130kW and 332Nm of torque there’s nothing I can say that’s bad about it. It handles well and has great hybrid performance in day-to-day running. Mitsubishi, you just keep getting better.

 


 

Toast to champagne


At this time of year, we are turning our heads to celebrations; Christmas parties and family get-togethers. Regardless of the event, nothing says celebration like the most prestigious of wines: champagne.

 

 

A severe set of winters in the 49th parallel north in the 1600s saw the French offloading late-fermenting, sweet – about 30 grams of sugar per bottle – slushy pink bubbly stuff to the English. Surprisingly, they started to really love it.

It wasn’t until Dom Pérignon refined the process in 1662 and the invention by the English of a bottle that could take the pressure of the bubbles that the beverage began to take its modern form.

Today there are 260-odd champagne houses in France and each has a rich history; from the story of Clicquot, a woman widowed at 30 with a young baby who invented the riddling process and built a fierce empire, to the tale of Jean-Rémy Moët who became famous as a supplier to Napoleon and his armies.

Most champagne is comprised of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier, but what champagne is best, and why? What do you choose for that special moment when you celebrate?

I’ve been fortunate enough to taste some of the best that the world of champagne has to offer and it all comes down to personal taste and style. At a recent Laurent Perrier masterclass, I sampled the Cuvée Rosé, Grand Siècle, the Ultra and La Cuvée; all stunning champagnes but I found base champagne the Ultra was my favourite. My go-to is Veuve Clicquot but many of my friends prefer Moët or Dom Pérignon. The choices per brand are also wide. Do you go for a vintage? A rosé? A Brut? Here are some highlights that stand out for me this Christmas.

Moët & Chandon is set to unveil its holiday-season collection to mark the 150th anniversary of its flagship expression, Moët Impérial. This limited-edition bottle is dressed for the holidays in a shimmering gold leaf sleeve. Veuve Clicquot Pencil and Clicquot Pencil Rosé also have special cases, one that keeps your bottle chilled for up to two hours! Then there’s the biggie, the new limited-edition collaboration between Dom Pérignon and Lenny Kravitz. Dom Pérignon is 2008 vintage only – it’s hard to get hold of and retails for $300.

Napoleon Bonaparte would take Moët to each battle. After all, he was said to say, ‘In victory you deserve it; in defeat you need it’. Salut!

 

 


 

A whole lot of grunt


Need a seven-seater family vehicle that can tow a caravan, boat or jet ski? The new Mercedes Benz GLE 300d is just the vehicle for you.

 

 

I picked it up from Armstrong Prestige and I have to say, I was quite intimidated by the size of it. Its exterior has beautiful lines and I loved the obsidian black (there’s black then there’s black!).

Its 500Nm of torque is perfect for towing and 180kW means it’s got plenty of power. The base model starts at $128,200 plus ORC but mine was specced up to $150,450 with 22-inch AMG multi-spoke wheels, paint job, luxury seating and AMG sports package. It looked mean.

Formidable is probably a better word than mean. A lot of my female friends wanted the Audi Q7 but quickly changed their minds when they saw this. I found this perplexing, but fact is the ladies liked it; it’s big enough to fit the family in and something with a whole lot of grunt.

 

 


 

Hottest happenings


There are some exciting things on the horizon as the inner city comes back to life. Nicholas Henare checks out some of spring’s finest.

 

 

The Riverside Market is opening on 30 September, just in time for spring, and is set to become the centre of food and activity in the city; a place where the people of Canterbury can come together and celebrate our amazing city and enjoy an incredible collection of local businesses. There’s a slice of the amazing cultures that make up our Canterbury community with flavours from around the world, including Argentinean, Greek, Chinese, French, Japanese, Thai, Indonesian, Turkish, Nepalese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Indian, Malaysian, Indonesian and Turkish. There’s also a fantastic selection of local businesses in the surrounding laneways ranging from gifts and fashion to streetwear and tattoos!

 

Photography by Nay Hauss

 

One event close to my heart is Hard-ly Speaking. An event aimed at changing the conversation for men in Ōtautahi, the format is simple: over the course of the evening, six diverse men speak for four minutes each. There are no hard and fast rules – just a unifying belief in the value of celebrating honesty and vulnerability, and of course, locally provided eats and drinks in an epic location. The last event saw men sharing a frank discussion about topics that we often shelve due to their sensitivity. The event is on at Christchurch BMW, 104 Moorhouse Avenue, this Thursday 19 September from 6pm to 8pm. Tickets are $55 and worth every cent. Guest speakers are Tyla Harrison Hunt, Isaac Gieson, Colin Mansbridge, Trevor Hone, Mike Brown and Gary Moore.

 

Photography by Malia Rose Photography

 

On Thursday 24 October, a fine selection of North Canterbury wineries from across the region are coming to the Christchurch Town Hall for the annual Taste North Canterbury – a springtime extravaganza celebrating the best of locally grown drops. Head along to experience incredible wine, delicious artisan eats, top notch tunes from local DJs and a whole lot of fun – get hyped on being part of New Zealand’s coolest little wine region! This awesome event is a great way to support local producers and get a taste of the beautiful wine being made right on our doorstep. Taste North Canterbury is for everyone – serious wine fanatics, foodies, and people who get buzzed on local experiences! From 5pm to 8pm at The Limes Room, Christchurch Town Hall. Tickets $49.

 

 

A stand-out drive


When reviewing a new car, it’s the details that make it stand out from the pack. Models are getting good at all-round driving ability. The Focus is no exception.

 

 

Apple Car Play should be a standard in all vehicles now and the Focus’ sound is brilliant; I connected in less than eight seconds. Avon City Ford’s Hemi Peek gave me the rundown as always, but it really was me playing around in the car that made it fun.

I ask friends what they think. Charlotte didn’t like the passenger seat flooring but loved the big mirror on the visor; I guess that’s a woman’s prerogative. My son Tom loved the panoramic sunroof as did I. It was a good solid drive at 134kW, and 240Nm made it agile and fast off the mark, plus there was plenty of room inside for real estate gear and family materials.

It has pretty good lines too and tinted glass gave it a sexy look. The heads-up display (HUD) felt like a nice addition but the price was a great one at $41,990 plus ORC. The one thing I loved was economy. You don’t really notice it when you’re driving around, but I took a couple of friends up to play in the snow at Porters Pass and it hardly made a dent in the petrol. Add the fact that despite a boot full of food and sleds we were still all comfortable and it just goes to show what a great little runner it is.

So, overall impression of the Ford Focus? A bloody good car.

 


 

Packing some punch


I asked Hemi Peek at Avon City Ford what he thought were the three top features of the Ford Endura Titanium; “A solid drive with a luxurious cabin, hands-free automatic power tailgate opening and easy interactive display”.

 

 

Well he wasn’t wrong. The 2-litre turbo diesel is also packing some punch in acceleration; with 140kW and 400Nm torque, it’s good off the mark. There’s plenty of room in the back and, coming in at $69,900 plus ORC, it’s competitive for like-minded models on the market.

I drove the hell out of it and hardly touched the full tank in a week. I did struggle with the dial gear change at first but soon got used to it. Its simple but elegant interior was a pleasure to sit in, as were its luxurious seats. I guess the catch phrase of ‘Affordable Luxury Awaits’ really says it all. It “feels” good; two-tonne towing capacity and a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty are added bonuses.

It might be my aggressive Christchurch driving, but the pre-collision assist and pedestrian detection work really well! The driver’s and passenger’s seats come with a rear seat entertainment screen for watching movies on the long drive for the kids and, as a family SUV, it fits the bill well. The week I had it was glorious and sunny, so I got to enjoy the sunroof for all that it is. |

The Ford Endura Titanium is everything it says it is; loaded with features you just don’t get on every SUV model, even the more expensive adversaries.

 


 

A dynamic set


It’s all about class with Mercedes and, with two of the brand’s top-line models getting major improvements, it makes me wonder how far you can take it, especially when the starting point is an already dynamic set of cars – the AMG A45 and CLA 45.

 

 

The CLA 45 is a stunning example of a coupe. New changes include a completely redesigned engine, four-cylinders with 310kW/500Nm; new cars are generally half that.

You’ll also find an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission with launch control and a new, fully variable AMG Performance 4MATIC+ system featuring active torque vectoring at the rear axle; that’s a mouthful of change. You also have drift mode but why you would want to drift a beauty like this is beyond me.

Meanwhile, unique panels from the A-pillar forward, wider front guards to accommodate broader track wind tunnel-tested AMG Aerodynamic package increases downforce for high-speed stability. Revised suspension with AMG Ride Control adaptive dampers provides a smoother ride.

With new improvements to the drive, the classy interior and interactive systems haven’t needed to be touched. After all, as we’ve seen from the Mercs of the past year, they have everything pretty much sorted.

 


 

Happy Birthday Hilton!


There are some fantastic hotels in the Garden City – The George with its Pescatore and 50 Bistro, Rendezvous with its height, the Heritage Christchurch with OGB, Distinction Christchurch Hotel with Gumption Restaurant & Bar and Chateau on the Park – Christchurch, a DoubleTree by Hilton with its history.

 

 

I was at the Hilton recently, reminiscing about an interview I did with the late great Jon Gadsby. He had reflected on the Chateau’s glorious past and we both shared stories of mischief and mayhem.

This year Hilton is celebrating 100 years of history as the world’s first hotel chain. Hilton’s legacy began on 31 May 1919, when New Mexico-born Conrad Hilton travelled to Texas with plans to buy a bank. While that deal fell through, Hilton’s pioneering spirit did not falter – he instead bought the hotel where he had been staying.

Through the times, good and bad, Conrad continued adding new hotels to his collection, becoming the first hotelier to appear on the cover of TIME magazine. Soon, Hilton hotels would circle the globe, introducing and popularising innovations that in many ways created the modern hospitality industry. This includes now customary amenities such as room service, a central reservation system, airport hotels and the much-loved mini bar.

We’ve lost so much built heritage in Christchurch, so it’s nice to reflect on the history we do have.

I’m sure Chateau on the Park – Christchurch, a DoubleTree by Hilton has a few more good stories in her yet. Happy birthday Hilton!

 


 

What’s in the cellar?


There’s a gentleman at FreshChoice Merivale’s Wine Cellar, Andy Gutschlag, who has a real understanding and appreciation for finding the perfect partnership between food and beverages. We caught up with Andy about his top tips.

 

 

 

Can you tell us about yourself?
I have spent most of my life in Christchurch. After graduating as a primary school teacher, I lived in Taiwan for two years working for a New Zealand Export Company. Part of my role was based in Asia and Europe, where I developed a love of sharing wine and food. I really follow ‘when in Rome’.


How did the Cellar idea come about?
Craig, the store owner, has always dreamed of the day we could open the Cellar. He has been collecting wines for the last 15 years for the sole goal of sharing them with our customers. They have all been stored in an offsite cellar, under perfect conditions.


How do you choose what to purchase?
We taste a lot of wine and travel to different wine regions to find new products. Planning must be at least five years ahead to ensure we have the best wines to add to our cellar.


Tell us about the range. What are your favourites?
That’s a hard question! I am a big fan of shiraz, especially the Barrosa Australia, and the Rhône Valley in France. I’m also a bit of riesling freak. Now I’m enjoying chardonnay from around the world. I try to list wines that people can match with great food and share with friends. If I had to pick a favourite now it would be the Rockford Basket Press Shiraz.


What should laymen on the street know when buying a good wine?
Taste different wines and fine a style that you enjoy, then get out of your comfort zone and try something new every so often. Find a retailer that will listen to you, share what you like and give feedback on any suggestions they give you. Share your wines with friends, enjoy them with great food and create a few good stories!


What are your rules when buying wine?
Drink what you enjoy, not what someone tells you to enjoy. Share your wines surrounded with great friends and loads of foodie experiences. Every so often take a risk and try something new. Just enjoy the moment.

 


 

A New Player in Town


There’s a new 100 percent electric vehicle entering the market and Nicholas Henare has the inside scoop on the vehicle that is making ‘electric’ more accessible than ever before.

 

 

Competing with the BMW i3 and the Nissan Leaf which have already established themselves, we’re now seeing Renault coming into its own with an improvement to the Zoe – it is a more high-performing power player than ever, notably thanks to its increased power and radius of action.

Its assertive design gives it even more character. The new Zoe offers a wide range of high-tech equipment serving both the driving comfort and the on-board experience. Driving 100 percent electric takes on a new dimension and a noteworthy addition to Zoe is the 10-inch driver’s display – a unique feature available right from entry level. Zoe has a Z.E. 50 battery which takes its range up to 390 kilometres.

 

 

It now also offers fast direct current charging, an addition to the alternating current charging options already available at home or on the street. Zoe incorporates a more powerful 100 kW motor, perfectly suited to the fast lane and to the intrinsic charms of electric driving, as well as many driving aids designed for comfort and safety.

With Renault Easy Connect, Zoe responds to our ever-more connected lives. It combines the new Renault Easy Link multimedia system and the My Renault app, offering drivers a range of applications and services designed to accompany them throughout their daily activities. It’s a good competitor to consider and the range is getting better and better with each new brand. With Tesla’s new price point, electric is accessible now.