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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 or phone 03 365 0531.


Triumph of tech




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



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 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.


Pretty darn brisk




On the outside, the standard Q7 has been given a stylistic nip and tuck by Audi’s S department, giving you a more square-jawed looking front and rear, along with a set of blasting tailpipes. The HD Matrix LED headlights also look the business.

Under the bonnet lies a 4.0-litre V8 Bi-Turbo diesel engine with 320kW/900Nm of torque, mated to Audi’s excellent eight-speed Tiptronic box sending that epic grunt to all four wheels by quattro all-wheel drive.

Inside, Audi’s latest gen MMI infotainment system and virtual cockpit is just as slick as ever and the nav utilises Google Earth, which gives you accurate traffic reports.

The SQ7 is also a full seven-seater, with the rear seats folding away to reveal a cavernous boot.

You can raise and lower the car at will thanks to air suspension.

Having the 20-inch wheels over the optional 22s makes for a softer ride.

Audi’s ride comfort has certainly improved from previous generations, with the SQ7 soaking up all the bumps with considerable ease.

Plant boot and 900Nm of torque comes in one big lump above 1600rpm, resulting in this leather-clad cathedral reaching the national limit in 4.8 seconds, which is pretty darn brisk in anyone’s book.

There is a slight delay as the turbo pressure builds but if you leave it in sport, the power delivery is more seamless.

The V8 burble is torrent of symphonic bliss but somewhat subdued compared to the previous gen.

The SQ7 is a hefty fella, but despite the girth, it can corner and handle the bends very well indeed, thanks to four-wheel steering which comes into play while at speed.

The rear wheels turn in the same direction as those at the front, allowing you to eat up copious amounts of bendy bitumen, all with as little body roll as possible.

The SQ7 is also a peach when soaking up motorway miles; the level of quietness and refinement while cruising at the national limit is almost peerless.

Prices start at $184,900 and even in standard spec, the new SQ7 is a great all-rounder of a premium SUV, but the extra grunt and sportier edge takes a great package and runs with it, putting it squarely on anyone’s SUV shortlist.


Plenty of power



Ushered into to the boardroom, we were given an extensive breakdown of the specifications.

It’s a seven-seat SUV with more spin than a very spinny thing! With a 3.0-litre six-cylinder, 243 kW and 700Nm, it also has plenty of power.

The Burmester surround sound system with 13 speakers blows your mind, with 590 watts of sound and ambient internal lighting in 64 shades, beautiful leather interior with oak wood trim and a sunroof for that wonderful open-air breeze.

To be honest, there is a hell of a lot of luxury packed into what doesn’t feel like a seven-seater.

Its increased size is more than made up for in the power and handling capabilities, but the increased room makes for a REAL seven-seater, not like most of the tiny rear two seats of other brands.

The test drivers were given the keys to take the vehicle for a drive to The Glass House, the home of Brick Bay Wines in Warkworth, north of Auckland, a stunning restaurant and the gateway to the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail.

With the Mercedes GLS 400D, you simply insert the location into the navigation system and away you go; very easy to use!

It was a hot day, making the seat cooling device with a back massage system a very welcome addition.

That’s right, passenger and driver get a back massage by using hand signals, so you can turn this function off and on without losing sight of the road.

After a couple of hours of driving, I felt better than when I got in the car!

It’s a very solid drive and you can actually get a variation with an increased suspension if you really want to go hardcore off-road.

The design features vents in the front grille which increases it aerodynamically and it’s got a lovely line for such a large SUV.

A standout feature for me was the one button push that folds all rear seats down electronically; and no, it has sensors so it won’t squash the kids in case of accidental ignition.

With all rear seats stowed away and loaded to the roof, the capacity reaches 2400 litres; that makes for a whole lot of options.

I said to Jarrod from Mercedes that I could put a mattress in the back and go camping.

He didn’t look impressed; the Mercedes GLS 400D is, after all, much too classy for such an endeavour.

It comes in at $166,700 before on road costs which isn’t everybody’s price point but if you want the ultimate luxury of Mercedes SUV, it’s hard to look at anything else.



Grand Tourer with attitude


Aston Martin has gone two steps further to separate the V12 from the V8 in the line-up. Enter the $355,000 DB11 AMR; the Grand Tourer with the attitude that the DB11 V12 always should have.

Where does the AMR come in? These three initials stand for Aston Martin Racing, a name given to faster, race-inspired Astons of recent years.

The AMR also officially replaces the standard DB11 V12 in the range.

Under the bonnet, the 5.2-litre twin turbo V12 gets 22kW more than the outgoing DB11 V12, bringing total power output to 470kW/700Nm.

Coupled to Aston’s slick eight-speed-automatic gearbox, zero to 100km/h is dealt with in 3.7 seconds. Sure, you will be doing 11.4L/100km, but that is not why you bought one is it?

The AMR gets a larger front anti-roll bar, the rear suspension has been retuned to give a sportier feel, the dampers both front and rear have also been revised for the same reason, and that V12 is even louder.

Inside, you do get all the fruit as before, but the Mercedes switchgear and infotainment screen feel a tad out of place in a car which costs in excess of $350,000. Sure, it is very responsive and will do the job of working the nav, Bluetooth etc, but it just doesn’t feel bespoke enough for the AMR.

With a high transmission tunnel and hip-hugging leather chairs, you do feel rather cocooned by your surroundings. In fact, the driving position as a whole is nigh on perfect. Though, the lack of a glovebox is odd.

As per the Vantage, you can fiddle about with the damping and engine modes by pressing the two buttons on either side of the wheel, with three modes, GT, Sport and Sport Plus, available for

With a wheelbase of 2802mm, and 4739mm from nose to tail, the DB11 is certainly no point-and-shoot sports car.

That said, around town, the AMR, despite its sportier pretensions and feeling bigger than it actually is, manages to be quite easy to manoeuvre and doesn’t feel daunting by any means.

With the engine and dampers in GT mode, the AMR can eat up the miles, but in the flowing twisting country backroads, the AMR tweaks make themselves known.

You can carry a great deal of speed into each bend, with little effort required to coax it into the corner. Plus, when you lift off, the exhaust crackles like a far-off battlefield.

Switch the dampers and engine into Sport Plus, and the AMR gets serious. Those mods to the chassis and the suspension makes it live and supple.

Steering weights up beautifully and standing on the anchors means you come to a dead stop in quick succession.

The DB11 no longer suffers from middle child syndrome. The AMR package turns the DB11 V12 from a fine tourer into a seriously desirable sporting package.


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.



Ferrari California: A serious supercar

Pressing the red starter button, your immediate surroundings are engulfed by a torrent of mechanical symphonic bliss; press the throttle and the revs rise, bringing with them a fiery Italian bellow. You are pinned back in the seat as you unleash the Ferrari California, one of the best value Ferrari supercars on the market today.




The California was first launched in 2009 and was the start of a new era for the Italian marque. With a 4.3-litre V8 mated to a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox, the California is the best package of sports car and open road tourer around. With a 2+2 layout, a folding metal hard top, and a big boot, you and your significant other can have a blast on your way to Queenstown.

Whether on wide open motorways or tight switchback mountain passes, the Ferrari California is nothing short of a luxurious cruiser which transforms into a snarling Ferrari with all the adrenalin that comes with 70 years of passion and motorsport pedigree.

At $169,995, this 2011 example has to be one of the best Californias on sale anywhere in New Zealand. With 35,000km and that gorgeous black with cream leather and carbon trim combo, this beast is nothing short of stunning. Oh, and it drives even better than it looks.

Get in touch with Christchurch European before this prancing horse leaves its stable. The team also have a red and blue example coming real soon, so be sure not to miss out on an Italian icon.