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Great things come in small packages


Since Chinese firm SAIC resurrected MG, the British namesake has been increasing its New Zealand presence in a big way and the most popular MG on Kiwi streets right now is the MG3 Supermini.

 

At a seriously low starting price of $17,990, the MG3 offers astonishing value.

Under the bonnet sits a 1.5 litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 82kW, mated to a four-speed automatic gearbox.

It’s not the most refined engine and trans combo, but the power gets put down well enough for city driving.

Standard kit across the range includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, a four-speaker Yamaha Digital Sound system, reversing camera, cruise control and rear parking sensors.

Styling wise, the MG3 looks clean cut, but seems to mimic the style of its Japanese rivals.

However, touches like the 16-inch alloys, chrome bumper accents and rear spoiler on the top spec Excite, look good.

On the move, the steering is weighted well and in the twisty stuff, the MG3 can be a bit of a giggle.

Plus, while some interior plastics are quite hard, the MG3 still provides decent surroundings.

The MG3 shows real promise and manages to epitomise bang for your buck. All we need now is a sportier MG3 GT.


 

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.


 

Top of its automotive game: Skoda Karoq


Skoda was founded in 1850 as an arms producer before later moving into transportation in 1895.

 

 

It was Skoda that produced the velocipede bicycle and the later Czech-designed Panzer 38(t) armored vehicle became one of the world’s best at the time.

The 1960s saw an increase in exporting from Czechoslovakia, with models like the Octavia Super and in the 70s and 80s it was the Rapid and Estelle that were the big sellers.

Today Skoda is one of the world’s best car developers, with revenue in the billions.

Now part of the Volkswagen family, Skoda is at the top of its automotive game.

The 2018 Superb was my personal car of the year with some outstanding features and ‘bang for buck’. It’s a theme that has continued with the new Skoda Karoq 110kW MY20.

With a price point of $44,990 for petrol and $50,990 for diesel, you can start going over the list of features and it’s got everything it takes to tick the box as a great value, strong performing family SUV.

Automatic tail gate opening is also a good start. The turbo petrol version seems to be quite economical on gas.

The 110kW provides enough power and 250 Nm, enough torque; 0-100 in 8.8 isn’t a Ferrari but it’s not meant to be one!

The cabin has a simple but elegant interior with lots of room and expansive windscreen and Apple car play and connectivity are downright easy.

The lines are so good, it took me a good five minutes to find the USB point hidden under a cover near the centre console.

With a five-year warranty up to 150,000km, it seems like a pretty simple buy.

Electric folding, heated side mirrors are great for the winter days and the Skoda carpet lighting on the doors allow you to look for the puddles when stepping out after a good rain.

Leather seating isn’t standard, but you can up spec the whole car including alloys and steering wheel for an extra $3,500.

The breaking assist is nice and gentle too, airbags, side assist and reversing camera are all there, so for the safety conscious, you get a lot for this low price point.

It’s simple and cost-effective and these days, simple and cost effective are very important. Check it out at Miles Continental for your own test drive.


 

Waxing Lyrical


Many have been waxing lyrical about the Subaru XV. With a new XV due out later in the year, Subaru have given the current generation a few tweaks, here’s what’s what.

From $36,490, the XV comes with a strong 2.0L four-cylinder boxer engine with 115kW/196Nm. Add this to Subaru’s asymmetrical all-wheel-drive and a seven speed CVT gearbox, and you get 7.0L/100km, with the same good looks and 17-inch alloy wheels unique to the premium spec vehicle.

Inside, everything feels solid, and just very well put together when compared to others in this class.

In terms of space, there is oodles of it. Boot space is commendable at 310L.

The XV comes with Appale CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, along with lane change assist, high beam assist, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot detection, electric sunroof, heated leather seats, and Subaru’s latest generation Eyesight Driver Assist System.

At speed, the four-pot boxer pulls well.

The CVT box is actually more responsive than first expected. With some CVT gearboxes, the feeling of performance gets lost in translation, but Subaru’s unit is actually rather good, providing crisp changes.

Ride comfort is also very good, with the XV managing to soak up the bumps nicely.

Thanks to the all-wheel-drive which Subaru have honed over the years, you can get down and dirty with ease.

The XV Premium still represents great buying for those after a five-seater soft roader, thanks to great tech and refinement and it can tackle the moderate rough stuff like few others.


 

Definitive one stop shop


Whether you are the custodian of an immaculate restored Mercedes 300SL, or your A-class needs a good once over, the team at KBL Automotive, has you covered.

Previously trading as Kevin Burt Limited, it has been Canterbury’s definitive German car specialist since 1976.

With many loyal enthusiasts choosing KBL Automotive above all others, it really is the definitive one stop shop for your Mercedes, BMW, Audi or Volkswagen; in fact, any motoring member of the EU!

With a tightly knit team of mechanics, technicians and other industry professionals with 60 years of experience between them, the company is the only choice for caring for your priceless German classic or daily Euro run-around, offering licenced dealership quality and using genuine factory parts.

Their workshop on 324 St Asaph Street in the heart of Christchurch’s CBD comes complete with all the latest auto electrical and auto diagnostic equipment. KBL also has a full complement of specialist factory tools to undertake a wide variety of services.

Whether your transmission needs attention, your air con needs re-gassing, or your European pride and joy needs a good service and WOF, you can’t go wrong with KBL Automotive. European courtesy cars are also available.

For more information, visit their website www.kblautomotive.co.nz or phone 03 365 0531.


 

Triumph of tech


I WAS HAVING A GREAT CONVERSATION WITH KAROL ABRASOWICZ-MADEJ FROM BMW RECENTLY ABOUT WHERE HE THOUGHT THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY WAS HEADING AND I WALKED AWAY WITH THE WORD INNOVATION AS KEY.

 

 

Electric vehicles, yes but more in the very way we use the technology and how that will interface with individuals.

We already have UBER, but imagine a future where the UBER is driverless and you can choose the type of vehicle you want to be picked up in.

With 5G communication availability, this scenario is no longer the stuff of science fiction, but it’s actually technology that many of the large motoring companies already have in development.

I can already see a future where the average person doesn’t require a garage, insurance or vehicle maintenance; one where the roads are less congested and the vehicles safer.

Some of the interfaces I’ve had with the latest vehicles on the road demonstrate just how close this reality is. What does surprise me is how quickly it is happening.


 

Staggering Superleggera


THE ASTON MARTIN DBS SUPERLEGGERA IS NOTHING SHORT OF STAGGERING. ASTON MARTIN’S NEW FLAGSHIP IS WINNING FANS EVERYWHERE, INCLUDING THIS WRITER AFTER A MERE TWO DAYS IN ITS COMPANY.

 

Aston Martin DBS | Photo: Drew Gibson

 

The DBS Superleggera is based on the same platform as the DB11, but don’t think for a moment it’s the same car.

The giveaway is in the name, Superleggera, which in Italian means Super Light.

The DBS weighs in at 1800kg, but thanks to lots of carbon fibre bits and bobs, it weighs 75kg less than the DB11.

Its textbook coupe lines are some of the most muscular and toned of any Super GT.

Think of the DBS as the car equivalent of Jason Statham in a Saville Row suit.

However, the handiwork of Aston Martin design guru Marek Reichman features function as well as form.

Side vents, which hark back to Aston design of yesteryear, channel air up over the wing mirrors, through gaps in the rear three quarter, and out through the lip spoiler at the rear.

This ‘Aeroblade’ system provides 180kg of downforce at speed.

Providing said speed is a 5.2L twin-turbo V12 and Aston’s slick ZF eight-speed auto box.

This engine and gearbox combo are an all-conquering powerhouse, with a gargantuan 533kW and 900Nm of torque.

You could attach that to your garage and still reach 100km/h in 3.4 seconds. Top speed? The far side of 330km/h!

Inside you still get Aston’s incredible quality and craftsmanship, and looking ahead you see that long muscular bonnet stretching to the horizon.

The switchgear is all previous gen Mercedes, which does the job fine, but feels a tad last week in a car costing $465,000.

On the flipside, once you fire up the DBS, the ensuing V12 bellow is nigh on one of the most primeval soundtracks of any car on sale today.

Around town it is incredibly docile, just watch the low nose on speedbumps, but when you hit the great wide open, you need to be awake.

To say the DBS is quick would be a severe understatement, all it takes is for you to stray above 2,000rpm, and you are fed the kind of acceleration capable of rearranging your fillings.

Each shift is crisp and you realise the car you wanted to overtake is now a spec in your rear-view mirror.

The carbon brakes slow you down with breath-taking precision and in Sport Plus, despite being a big Grand Tourer, you can eat up bendy bitumen with pinpoint accuracy.

The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera is lightyears ahead of its DB11 and Vantage counterparts in Aston Martin’s family of supercars. It might be too much oomph for some people, but those wanting the ultimate in refinement, luxury and earth-shattering speed, should look no further than what is very possibly, the greatest Aston Martin road car yet.

Aston Martin DBS | Photo: Drew Gibson

 

Not just another car club


THE AVID CAR CAFFE IS NOT JUST ANOTHER CAR CLUB. SINCE INCEPTION IN 2018, THANKS TO CHRISTCHURCH AUTO DETAILERS – AVID GROUP – AND A CORE GROUP OF PASSIONATE PETROL HEADS, IT IS NOW 250 OWNERS STRONG.

 

 

The reason why Avid Car Caffe is so popular is simple, the group does not pander to a particular brand or type of car.

So, whether you have the latest supercar, or a lovingly cared for five-door hatch, the passion you have for your car is what Avid Car Caffe is all about.

“The goal is to bring people together and share their love of cars and bikes in a casual non-competitive environment, support other owners and offer ways to enhance ownership through gatherings, car care tips and product advice,” says founding member Bryn Thompson.

Avid Car Caffe meets up every month to experience each other’s cars, over a piping hot cup of complimentary coffee.

“Our gatherings are held on the last Sunday of each month in the early morning, so owners can plan and then have family time in the afternoon.

We have also been supported by some of Christchurch’s leading dealerships and car related companies and many have invited the group to be hosted at their premises,” Bryn says.

Joining in on their most recent car meet, gave us a unique chance to meet fellow members and find out more about why they love Avid Car Caffe.

According to member Alan McKinney, the group is a breath of fresh air for local petrolheads.

“The Avid Car Caffe is all about loving cars and promoting car culture in Canterbury. We are united by our love of all things automotive,” Alan says.

The sheer variety of cars was astonishing, from a Morris Minor Drophead, right up to a one–of–a kind Ferrari 250 Testarossa.

Group member Craig Ryan owns a new Tesla Model X and what impressed him the most is just how open the group is to accepting all cars, even if they produce zero emissions.

“I love coming to the group because of how welcoming everyone is. It’s great to have people recognise why I love the Tesla and I love being able to share it with like-minded people,” Craig says.

“Everyone is so open and gets so excited about so many different types of cars,” says another member, Nick de Lautour.

After a day in the company of some of the most passionate car fanatics in Canterbury and experiencing some truly amazing cars from all makes and eras, needless to say this motoring scribe will be back for seconds really soon.