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In Focus


The team at Ford are always delivering a great range of vehicles to suit everyone’s needs. The Ford Ranger currently sits at number one in New Zealand, but now it’s time to drop the spotlight on the Ford Focus ST, a hatch with the exhilaration of a Mustang.

 

This is a multi-award winning car in AA New Zealand Car of the Year Awards.

Not only does it have multiple drive modes, it also ticks the aesthetic boxes.

A panoramic sunroof with visor; exceptional lines starting from the bonnet all the way to its hot rear; Porsche-style alloy rims in metallic grey just accentuate the great colour of ruby red. I just had to test drive.

Recaro sport seating was another brilliant feature with the wonderful white stitching on exquisite leather. Even the door panels were that little bit more lush.

Operationally, dial gear change is always a challenge for me as I have a manual as my personal car and I’m a bit of a control freak. Fumbling around to do three point turns on a busy Christchurch street can be a challenge. You can say it makes the interior “cleaner” – but I still love a gear lever!

You can change gears at your fingertips with the paddle shifters, which help when cornering, and it has got some real up and go.

With an eight-speed automatic, 206 kW and 420 Nm it doesn’t feel like a four cylinder, 2.3L – and you certainly need those front ventilated disc brakes!

There’s a heads-up display which makes you feel like a fighter pilot not taking your gaze off the road.

Combine that with all the added sports features and you’ve got a little rocket.

There’s also improved acceleration from the last model, and the very smooth gear changing made for a great test week.

Taking a trip on my favourite test road to the Sign of the Kiwi put it next to the VW Golf GTi as one of my favourite agile performance vehicles.

Hill start assist is also an asset, even though I’m old school on hill starts. And even though I really don’t need the satellite navigation system, I can imagine it’s a great addition for those that do.

The interior is tidy and very sporty with leather trim. There’s a lot of bang for buck with the price at $59,990 plus on road costs.

With the options on this, it would be hard to go past a test drive with Hemi Peek and the team out at Avon City Ford. It’s great hatchback at a great price.


 

The Ultimate VW Challenge: Tiguan vs T-Cross R-Line


Here is the challenge: you’re loading up for a weekend trip with three women to go to Maruia Springs. You’ve got pillows, blankets, makeup bags, bags for shoes, bags for clothes, bags for swimming…basically everything bags.

 

They have had time to prep so it’s my job – while they have a few wines – to fill the Volkswagen Tiguan from Miles Continental, like a real-life Tetris video game.

Luckily for me, the 1395cc Tiguan TSI Comfortline 2WD has plenty of boot space for its $41,385 price tag. The rear tailgate opener also comes in handy.

On the road, the cabin space up front is amazingly comfortable and drive wise it handles beautifully – you wouldn’t even notice all the gear loaded up.

The 8-inch touch glass screen display with Apple CarPlay is making it easy for the girls to flick between Spice Girls and Beyoncé with the easy-access USB for charging.

It felt gentle to drive and comfortable over a long distance, the lane assist was there but not full on like some brands, and the climate control air conditioning worked impressively well.

With parallel park assist, a five-year 150,000km warranty and 17-inch Tulsa alloys making it look pretty, it has all the bells and whistles.

Before we got to Maruia for a beautiful platter (Tom Tulk is an exceptional chef) the girls wanted to visit Reefton Distillery to try the Little Biddy gin tasting. Now, this is quite a journey with some windy turns and uphill grades.

The Tiguan handled it beautifully, an incredibly smooth drive with the suspension perfectly in tune with the road. Back at Maruia, we parked up next to the pools and relaxed after a good five-odd hour drive.

Now here’s the tricky part: repeating the experience but with three teenagers in the Volkswagen T-Cross R-Line.

The T-Cross R-Line starts at $43,490, is a 4-cylinder inline turbo at 110kW and 250Nm front wheel drive 7-speed.

The exterior is a little boxier in shape with the R-Line having a funkier bumper system than the standard.

Now, the audio system is almost identical and what surprised me was the boy’s choice in sound was identical to the girls.

With everything packed up, there seemed like more available room in the T-Cross than the Tiguan, but the boys did pack a bit lighter. On the open road it handled well.

Which was better? They are almost the same price, they almost have the same features, they performed almost identically.

At the end of the day I think it’s going to come down to personal choice. I guess you must test drive it for yourself at Miles Continental.


 

An electrifying ride


When I picked up the Mercedes EQC 4matic from Armstrong Mercedes the only thing that rattled my head was that name, EQC. Something that, when I posted on Instagram, I got a few messages about.

Jack Prebble Media

 

But as this beautiful machine glided out onto the motorway and I placed my foot on the brushed alloy AMG accelerator, all bad reminders were left 5.1 seconds behind me as this beautifully lined, refined electric vehicle took off.

I had Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy pumping through the 13-speaker, nine-channel, 590w Burmester surround sound system with the interior AMG lighting system turning to a cool blue.

Gripping the multi-function Nappa leather sports steering wheel, that gnarly little smile crept onto my face and I knew I was in for a great day on the road.

Being fully electric, the EQC has a range of 354km, with the emergency AC-DC adapter for a backup option.

The electricity on a low output standard house plug just does not have the juice to power the battery fast enough if you are exceeding, like me, 80km a day.

You can recharge at stations around the city, but I highly recommend you install the Wallbox charging system.

This is a stunnin

g electric vehicle: a 300kw duel electric engine 0 to 100km on 5.1 (but it feels much faster than that), 4Matic all-wheel drive, 760Nm torque – all with a base price of $142,000.

 

I was going to write shocking to be funny but that would make it sound bad, and it is not in any way at all.

 

Jack Prebble Media

My model had some up-spec roller sun blinds and 21-inch multi-spoke wheels. The multi-spoke wheels are a total stunner as was the diamond white paint job.

Now it’s not often an up-spec spins my wheels, forgive the pun, but it really does give a bespoke look to an already outstanding vehicle.

Back to back with the standard model there is quite a different look to it and damn it, it is sexier.

I took my friend Lisa out to get a woman’s perspective on it. After a lovely lunch at Botanic we took a leisurely drive. Afterward I asked her what she thought.

The verdict? “Luxurious with impressive lighting and super sexy rose gold air vents, girls love that.”

She went on to wax lyrical: “A gorgeous car, great lines. I absolutely loved it and it’s the first car I’ve been in, in ages, that I would really like to own.”

Believe me, this woman knows what she wants so this is a five-star rating.

It gets a five-star from me with the reminder that you must install the Wallbox home charging system.

If you’re making a choice on electric vehicles this year, please finish with the Mercedes EQC 4matic. It is an electrifying vehicle. Badumdum.

Jack Prebble Media

 

Upping the game


After nine years, we have a new Toyota Yaris. The first of Toyota’s new TNGA “B” Platform, and it happens to be rather nice.

 

As far as looks go, the Yaris is more rakish and aggressive than its predecessor, with a gaping whale shark-esque grill and frowning headlights, it certainly looks like this urban supermini wants to be a sports car. It also sits 10mm lower and the wheelbase is longer by 40mm.

My test car was the base GX petrol priced at $25,990. Under the bonnet sits an all-new 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine producing 88kW of grunt and 145Nm of torque.

Transmission comes in the form of a rather slick CVT. Fuel consumption is also rated at a decent 4.9L/100km.

The new Yaris gets a fair amount of kit as is standard, such as dynamic radar cruise control, active lane keep assist, eight air bags, and a new Pre-Collision System.

The latter works by alerting the driver of crossing pedestrians or cyclists at hard-to-see intersections.

The cockpit itself is a mixture of durable plastics and funky design touches.

The driving position is low and comfortable, while visibility is decent all round.

My only gripe was slightly intrusive A-pillars.

On the move, the three-pot engine is incredibly refined throughout the rev range, and when you select PWR mode, a firm foot can bring the horizon closer at a brisker rate than first expected.

The Yaris GX has certainly raised its game and proved the old warrior has plenty of life left in it.


 

A model makeover: Honda Cars


The Honda CRV has been with us for many a moon, and for many SUV owners, it remains a crowd favourite. The CRV has been given an automotive nip and tuck for 2021, so what exactly has changed?

 

Well the outside benefits from a few styling tweaks, such as a redesigned front and rear lip, European style exhausts and new look 18-inch alloys.

Grunt for all models comes from a 1.5L turbocharged VTEC four-cylinder engine with 140kW/240Nm mated to Honda’s CVT transmission.

It is quite a refined power unit, and pulls strongly above 2,000rpm.

The range starts at $39,990 for the CRV Touring and tops out at the $51,790 CRV AWD Sport Premium. However, the level of kit you get as standard is quite impressive.

Hands Free Electric Tailgate, intelligent dual zone climate control, advanced display audio with 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Garmin Sat Nav, LED daytime running lights, parking sensors front and rear, reversing camera and lane watch camera.

Honda’s sensing safety gizmos also come as standard across the range. The Sport Premium, my test car, gets AWD, leather trim, and 19-inch sports alloys.

The Sport and Sport Premium also get wireless charging for the first time, too.

The CRV manages to still drive very nicely, although it is most at home commuting or motorway cruising.

All in all, these little tweaks have transformed the CRV from a decent SUV, into a very desirable package.


 

Very sweet turbo


When we think of big SUVs from Mercedes AMG, big V8-bellowing all terrain missiles spring to mind.

BRAD LONGWORTH

 

In curry terms, the range topping GLE 63 AMG is the full chicken vindaloo, hot and spicy.

Whereas the $180,100 GLE 53 AMG is more of a chicken madras, in other words, a milder offering in terms of performance. Under the bonnet sits a very sweet turbo 3L straight six.

The turbo part of the equation refers to a single turbo, electric compressor and EQ Boost generator, making the GLE 53 a mild hybrid.

Grunt is rated at 320kW/520Nm. Also, Mercedes’ Speedshift 9-speed automatic gearbox and 4-Matic four-wheel drive make a welcome appearance. Fuel consumption is rated at a combined 9.4L/100km and zero to 100km/h is despatched in 5.3 seconds.

Styling wise, AMG’s tentacles are everywhere. The front spoiler is more aggressive, and the optional matte black AMG alloys on my test car look epic. Inside, AMG sports leather chairs make for a comfortable yet supportive place to sit and the AMG performance steering wheel is lovely to hold.

Standard kit includes the latest MBUX infotainment and voice recognition system, side-by-side 12.3-inch digital screens, a head-up display, heated front seats, ambient lighting with 64 colours and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Safety kits provide active parking assist, active brake assist with cross-traffic alert, steering assist, lane change assist, active blind spot assist and traffic sign assist.

On the move and you do make brisk progress, but as this is the AMG Lite, things aren’t as rapid as you would first expect, not slow but not rapid. However, selecting Sport or Sport Plus makes a big difference, especially as it activates AMG Active Exhaust, allowing you to hear more of that glorious sounding turbo six.

On the straight and narrow, the AMG Ride Control with air suspension offers a supple ride but feels a bit soft in the bends. Putting the adaptive dampers in Sport Plus will firm things up well enough. If you decide to leave the beaten track, then trail and sand modes are available, that said the average GLE 53 owners won’t be climbing every mountain and fording every stream.

There is plenty to like about the new Mercedes GLE 53 AMG, however if I wanted a GLE with some AMG goodness, I would go whole hog and get the V8 every time.


 

Chevrolet’s Latest Coup


When GM made the decision to pull out of all right-hand drive markets after the demise of the Holden brand, needless to say a few gearheads were less than overjoyed with the news. Therefore, there is a chance this facelift Chevrolet Camaro could be the last new GM product we get through HSV dealers in New Zealand. Oh, and it also happens to be a beast of a muscle car.

 

On the outside, the facelift Camaro 2SS has been given a stylistic nip and tuck.

A more pronounced mouth with the Chevy bowtie badge as the centre piece makes for a more aggressive front, and the revised taillight cluster and new alloys look the business.

Under the bonnet sits the hefty LT1 6.2L V8 with a fairly substantial 339kW of grunt and 617Nm of torque.

The biggest change mechanically is the addition of a new 10 speed automatic gearbox. It’s very good by the way, but more on that in a bit.

Inside you get a very driver-focused cabin, containing nods to Camaros of the past while still feeling up to date.

You sit very low and sports car like in the seat and the small steering wheel feels good clasped in your mitts.

Standard kit includes 20-inch alloys, Brembo brakes, LED running lights, Apple Car Play/Android Auto and dual zone climate control.

Fire up the LT1 V8 and you make everyone within a few 100 metres of you aware of your presence.

Blip the throttle and it bellows like a proper V8 road burner should. Touring mode allows you to cruise along in comfort with the V8 burble slightly subdued in the background.

The LT1 V8 also shuts down four cylinders if they aren’t needed, returning combined fuel consumption of 11.5L/100km.

Change up to Sport and things get racier and louder; put it in Track mode and the steering and throttle response sharpens up, plus the shifts on the 10 speed box become quicker.

In Track mode you can make mincemeat of bendy bitumen; a welcome sensation as Camaro’s of old were never that great at the twisty stuff.

The 2SS stays planted and gives you the confidence to push harder. Sure, you can cruise in the Camaro, the ride is comfortable too, but it feels more at home having its neck wrung.

Despite niggles like some excessive tyre roar and intrusive wing mirrors when turning at a junction, the 2SS Camaro is a damn fine continuation of a muscle car legend.

Fingers crossed it will stick around in the New Zealand market for some time yet.


 

A compelling package


When the all-new Mazda CX30 made its debut in New Zealand, it was launched online, thanks to COVID-19. However, after waiting patiently, we finally got a taster of Mazda’s new SUV. Mazda says the new CX30 slots perfectly between the CX3 and CX5 in its SUV line-up. However, with the CX3 and CX5 offering such a compelling small and mid-sized SUV package, do we really need an SUV in between?

 

 

The CX30 is essentially a raised version of the Mazda3 hatch.

However, despite looking almost identical to the more grounded 3, the CX30 has actually shrunk by 70mm and features an entirely new rear end.

Like the Mazda3, the CX30 is available in three trim levels, the GSX at $41,490, GTX at $44,990 and the top end Limited at $49,990.

The GTX featured here is, according to the team at Blackwells Mazda, the most popular model in the range.

The entry level GSX gets FWD and a 2.0L four-cylinder Skyactiv engine with 114kW/200Nm, but the GTX and Limited get the bigger 2.5L unit and AWD.

With 139kW/252Nm, it is nothing short of sublime. Plus, you will be sipping the juice at 6.8L/100km thanks to the aid of cylinder deactivation.

Toys are something the CX30 is very generous with.

All models get the i-Activsense safety package as standard kit, which gives you a plethora of gizmos keeping you on the straight and narrow.

These include lane-keep, active cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and active emergency braking.

The GTX also gets Intelligent Speed Assistance, front parking sensors and off-road mode.

The latter is down to the fact the GTX and Limited are AWD. The Limited also gives you leather trim and a thumping Bose stereo system.

Head and legroom are not as generous compared with the CX5 and, with 430L, neither is boot space.

That said, the seats themselves cocoon you like few others and the overall ambience of the CX30’s cabin feels like the car costs double its asking price.

Plus, all the switchgear actually feels satisfying to touch.

Once you are up and running, you quickly realise just what an utter peach that 2.5L Skyactiv engine really is.

Coupled with the uber slick six speed automatics transmission, cruising around suburbia has never been so refined in this price bracket.

Acceleration is not rapid thanks to the lack of a turbo, but from 2,000 to 4,000 rpm, you are able to waft forward at a considerable rate.

Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control steering allows you to have a sublimely comfortable ride without being wobbly in the bends. It really is the best of both worlds.

Despite the space niggles, the CX30 still manages to be a sublime all-rounder. The CX30 is the Mazda SUV we didn’t think we needed, but really glad it exists.


 

A serious love affair: Honda Civic Type R


Kiwis have a serious love affair with Honda’s hot hatch – the Civic Type R. Since the first Civic Type R to be sold new in New Zealand was released in late 2017, more than 200 have been sold, making it one of the bestsellers in the class and proving its sales performance is as strong as its on track performance.

 

 

To celebrate the Type R’s double century of sales success, Honda New Zealand is offering a special, New Zealand-exclusive Type R endowed with Mugen parts.

Mugen – which means ‘Without Limits’ – is the organisation responsible for manufacturing Honda’s OEM parts such as body kits and sports exhausts.

It has become an international motorsport success, with highlights including powering Formula 1 victories along with numerous other two and four wheel championships.

“The 5th Generation Type R, although solely offered with a manual transmission, has been a sales success, thanks to its perfect balance of Honda’s sporty, yet practical DNA,” Honda New Zealand Marketing and Product Manager Matt Woodburn says.

Mugen equipped Type Rs start from $64,990 – including the front underspoiler, side underspoilers, rear underspoiler and carbon fibre/FRP tailgate spoiler with Mugen emblem.

This pricing is inclusive of all related costs to sourcing, painting & fitting the parts, making this one of the most affordable Mugen packages globally.


 

No.1 in car washing: Auto Express Wash


Quickest, cleanest, greenest

 

 

Using the latest technology and a state-of-the-art water reclaiming system, Auto Express Wash has revolutionised the way we keep our vehicles sparkling clean.

Located at 530b Sawyers Arms Road, the company has streamlined the car washing process, eliminating any hard work, queues or delays.

Once you’ve checked in at the paystation, your vehicle connects to the Express Tunnel Wash conveyor system and your car is clean in just four minutes.

Auto Express Wash recycles 80 percent of water used, as well as stocks biodegradable soaps and detergents.

The efficient reclaiming system also means they only use the required amount of water needed during each wash.

Multiple cars can use the car wash at once, meaning up to 200 can be cleaned at the site per hour.

As well as the car wash, you can also opt for the Super Dry & Shine polish service, a Silicon Tyre Shine, and a six-bay vacuum area is also available for customer use.

While you’re visiting Auto Express Wash, also look into their Barking Clean Self-Serve Dog Wash; Air Care Sanitiser; fleet and corporate options, and pre-paid wash cards.

For more, call 0800 5333 555 or email info@autoexpresswash.co.nz.