DriveLife New Zealand's Enthusiast Driven Motoring Publication, Automotive News, New Car Reviews and Used Car Reviews Thu, 16 Aug 2018 00:00:05 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 2018 Skoda Karoq TSI Ambition + – Car Review – the Yeti’s successor Thu, 16 Aug 2018 00:00:05 +0000 Skoda’s first small SUV, the Yeti, was around for eight years, starting with a rather quirky look, with its circular front fog lights, then being facelifted to a more sensible Skoda corporate face. The Yeti name has now been dropped for its replacement in favour of Karoq – derived from native American words to match its bigger sister, the Kodiaq.

We liked the Kodiaq so much that we gave it two car of the year awards. How would the smaller SUV compare?

The Range

Our review car was the entry-level model TSI Ambition +, priced at $38,990. It comes with a 110kW/250Nm 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine which drives the front wheels via a 7-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission. Standard spec includes 7 airbags, brake assist, cruise control, lane keep assist, blind spot detect, rear traffic alert, parking sensors all-round with reversing camera, keyless entry and start, LED headlights, auto lights and wipers, rear privacy glass, electric folding heated mirrors, and 18” alloys.

Step up to the Style spec at $42,990 and you also get adaptive cruise, drive mode select, electric tailgate with kick-to-open function, dual-zone climate, sunglasses holder, electric memory front seats, and satnav. If you were to option a base spec with all this it would add around $7500, so an extra $4k is a great deal.

Finally there’s the 4×4 turbo diesel in Style spec at $48,490. This has a 2.0-litre 110kW/340Nm engine. The diesel gets to 100kph 0.7 seconds slower, but has a combined fuel economy of 5.2l/100km compared to 5.6 for the petrol.

Skoda’s configurator lists 14 colours available including the rather fetching Lava Blue Metallic you see on our review car.

First Impressions

The Karoq is a good-looking car, well-proportioned, and wears the Lava Blue well. It has a decent chunky look to it without going too overboard. Use of chrome is pretty minimal, with just the grille and window outline done in the shiny stuff. I like that: it adds a bit of class without going too far. Similarly with the grey plastic around the bottom – it’s not over-done like on some cars.

The Inside

The inside of the Karoq will feel familiar to anyone who has been in a recent VW or Skoda. It has the family look and feel, but Skoda have added a few of their trademark “simply clever” features. For example there are hooks in places you wouldn’t normally find them (like on the B pillars) , and there’s a little clip at the side of the windscreen to clip parking tickets in place.

The dash is a pretty simple layout with a large central media screen and a few buttons below for the various functions. This is the base spec, so instead of climate control you get three knobs for hot/cold, fan speed and air direction, you know like cars used to have? The system works well, but I’m surprised Skoda didn’t just go for climate control across the range.

The stereo is very good, surprisingly so on an entry-level car, it’s clear, with good bass and no distortion even if you crank it up. Bluetooth operation was flawless and it doesn’t revert back to radio like a lot of cars. You can also search by artist or track via the main screen when using Bluetooth, which is a feature most cars don’t provide

The instrument cluster is the familiar two-dial analogue layout, with a colour screen in the centre. They’ve kept it simple, so the dials are nice and clear and easy to read. The info screen in the centre is used for trip computer and various functions, including a digital speedo, which I like to have.

There’s a storage bin in the top centre of the dash with a pop-up lid, as well as a coverable storage cubby for a phone at the bottom, with USB and a power socket inside.

The seats look great with their cross-hatched stitching, and are very comfortable, with some side support. Seats in base model cars can be a bit, well, basic, but these are really good. There’s even lumbar support adjustment on both sides – normally the passenger loses out.

The rears are also comfortable, with good leg room for a car this size, and they even get an aircon vent of their own. This is becoming more common but a lot of cars still don’t have it. The rear seats are 60/40 split-folding, but there’s no pull-down armrest (much to my daughter’s disappointment).

Boot space is a generous 521 litres, and expands to a huge 1630 litres with the seats folded down. In the boot you get a few more nice features included, like storage bins at the sides, a removable torch, power socket, clever velcro luggage holders, and the sturdiest bag hooks I’ve ever seen. There’s even an extra bag hook that clips onto the child seat tether bar.

Talking of child seats, there’s ISOfix mounts in the rear seats, and also the front passenger seat, which I haven’t seen before. Other Skoda features include the ice scraper in the petrol cap, phone pockets on the front seats and elastic straps in the door pockets to stop things from rattling or falling out.

Under the boot floor you’ll find a can of tyre weld and an electric pump instead of a spare wheel.

With the higher spec Style model you get an electric tailgate, but Ambition buyers have to open and close it themselves, sorry! The pull handle is a really nice design though – made of rubber and it hangs down by about 10cm, making it easier to grab than handles on most SUVs.

The Drive

As with most cars I review, my first experience of the Karoq was in traffic after collecting it. First impressions? Very quiet, good ride quality, and it felt bigger than I expected, roomy inside and high off the ground. Visibility all-round is good, and you get plenty of technological help too, with blind spot warning lights in the mirrors and rear cross-traffic alert when reversing. This is so useful when reversing out of my drive!

Parking is made easier by sensors front and rear linked to a top-down display on the centre screen showing where the obstacles are as well as having arcs to show where your wheels are pointing. It’s not a top-down camera view like some cars but it’s very useful, and there is a reversing camera, which is nice and clear.

Skoda have take done away with the VW/Audi/Toyota style third stalk for cruise control and integrated the functions into the indicator stalk. This sounds like it would be complicated but I think it’s a better way to do it. In my Audi I find myself indicating when what I want to do is change the cruise speed. It also reduces the number of thumb controls on the steering wheel, so you have stereo controls on the left, and phone and trip computer controls on the right. The cruise works well but is the older style, so not adaptive, and you have to keep an eye on it drifting over the set speed down hills.

There are two modes for the transmission – D and S. In Drive, the Karoq feels like it’s tuned for efficiency and has a bit of a squashy-throttle feel off the line. If you need to set off quickly you have to give it a bit of jandal, then it goes well. The 1.5-litre turbo engine makes 110kW, which is plenty to get to going in normal use. There’s an electronic parking brake, which can be set to engage automatically, and this works well with the engine stop/start function so you can take your foot off the brake and the engine won’t re-start until you touch the throttle. It can be a little jerky when starting the engine, disengaging the parking brake and setting off. The Karoq’s stop/start has the familiar VAG car habit of turning the engine off when you haven’t quite stopped, which can be a little disconcerting.

With the transmission in Sport mode, the Karoq feels more nippy and willing, but also holds onto the gears higher into the rev range, so it can feel like you’re over revving it. I left it in Drive for the majority of the time I had the car.

The shifter can be pushed to one side and used in manual mode, and I did try this a couple of times on back roads. The Karoq isn’t meant as a back-road driver’s car but it does pretty well, with less body roll than you might expect, and performance isn’t bad either.

But back to how this car is meant to be used.  I drove the Karoq for a week, with a mix of town driving, commuting and a couple of longer trips. The ride is comfortable – firm but not too firm, handling and steering, all good. Not outstanding, but just really competent. Not once did it do anything that irritated me, and this is definitely a good thing! I didn’t manage to match Skoda’s quoted 5.6 litres per 100km, I averaged 7.1, but for a reasonably large SUV I think that’s pretty impressive.

The Competition

Brand/Model Engine Power/Torque Fuel, L/100km Seats Boot Space, Litres Towing Capacity, Kg Price Highest to Lowest
Nissan X-Trail ST 2.5 litre 4 cylinder 126kW/226Nm 8.1 5 565 1350 $39,990
Mazda CX-5 GLX 2l 4 cy


115kW/200Nm 6.9 5 455 1656 $39,995
Skoda Karoq TSI Ambitioin + 1.5 litre petrol turbo 110kW/250Nm 5.6 5 521 1500 $38,990
Seat Ateca Style 1.4 litre 4 cylinder turbo 110kW/250Nm 5.4 5 485 2000 $38,900
Kia Sportage LX Urban 2.0 litre 4 cylinder 114kW/192Nm 7.9 5 466 1500 $35,990
Hyundai i30 1.6 litre 4 cylinder 94kW/156Nm 6.8 5 380 1200 $35,990
Honda HR-V S 1.8 litre 4 cylinder 105kW/110Nm 6.6 5 431 1999 $29,990
Suzuki Vitara 1.6 litre 4 cylinder 86kW/156Nm 6 5 352 1200 $29,990

The pros and cons

Pros Cons
  • Clever Skoda features
  • Comfortable
  • Quiet
  • Good to drive
  • Great stereo
  • LED headlights Excellent
  • Manual aircon
  • Can feel a bit sluggish off the line

What we think

I’m really not an SUV person, but I liked this car. In fact I liked it more than some cars that cost twice as much. It’s quiet and comfortable and has plenty of space for your family and their stuff. And those clever little Skoda touches really endear you to the car and make it more special.

The 1.5-litre turbo engine is a good little unit, efficient but with enough power when needed, and the Karoq drives and handles well.

I think if you can stretch to it, the Style would be a better buy to get radar cruise, climate control, satnav and a power tailgate (amongst other things), but the entry level Ambition+ has a good spec and a lot of features that more expensive cars don’t always have.

drivelife car review chevrons four and half
Rating – Chevron rating (4.5 out of 5)

Skoda Karoq TSI Ambition +

Vehicle Type Small SUV
Starting Price $38,990 plus on-road costs
Tested Price $38,990 plus on-road costs
Engine 1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power Kw / Torque Nm 110kW/250Nm
Transmission 7-speed DSG
0 – 100 kph, seconds 8.6
Spare Wheel No – electric pump and tyre repair can provided
Kerb Weight, Kg 1,318-1,399
Length x Width x Height, mm 4382 x 2025 x 1603
Cargo Capacity, litres 521 seats up

1630 seats folded

Fuel Tank, litres 50
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – Combined – 5.6 L / 100km

Real World Test – Combined – 7.1 L / 100km

Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+

Towing 1500kg braked
Turning circle 10.2

Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+

Warranty 3 years warranty or 100,000km long life servicing up to 2 years or 50,000km

Extendable to 5 years for $1700.

ANCAP Rating 5 stars

]]> 0
Project FZ12 : Fraser & Zac’s Hand Built Supercar – Part 36: Pump the brakes Tue, 14 Aug 2018 00:00:48 +0000 First of all I have to start with apologies for the lack of articles over the last 6 weeks or so.    Unfortunately real life took over from car life and I simply wasn’t able to post progress, but I’m back now and ready to report !

We’re getting close to having the “mechanical” side of the build done.   There will of course be small amounts of fabrication to be done to mount the body etc and roll cage bars for the windscreen and roof but they’re fairly small and we can’t do them until the body is on.

The last parts of the mechanical puzzle is to mount the new brake booster (which this article will cover) and then accessories such as power steering, ride height and ABS pumps.   Then there is the aircon evaporator and brake / hydraulic lines and new radiators……..oh man, that’s actually quite a list !

With all that said, there’s no other way than to keep plugging away.   Unfortunately sometime our schedule is driven by when parts are arriving but this time I have what I need.   Originally we were going to use a Corvette C5 drum / vacuum based brake booster.   This was because we are using Corvette based suspension, brakes, ABS etc so it was common sense to try and use their brake booster also.  Unfortunately for us, we simply don’t have the space for the Corvette unit so I needed to start looking for a new solution.


After spending numerous days hunting around for a smaller drum / vacuum based booster I came across a similar issue I’ve dealt with lots in this project.   I know what I need physical size wise, but everyone you deal with just wants to talk part numbers or chassis numbers and doesn’t have the info when you say you’re looking for a brake booster with a 300mm diameter for instance.   It’s really frustrating, but understandable that suppliers don’t have that level of information.

Luckily in this scenario it made me investigate alternative methods to boosting the brake forces and I came across a company called Powerbrake Service.   They are specialists in building and servicing a Bosch design of hydraulic brake booster which is smaller and more flexible than the normal vacuum based boosters and also allows you to boost the brakes without needing to lift the throttle to build vacuum since it’s powered by the spare hydraulic capacity from the power steering pump.


You can hopefully see the small silver cylinder in the photo above.   This is charged with compressed gas and is charged by the pressure from the power steering pump.   Instead of the hydraulic fluid going from the power steering pump to the steering rack and back to the pump, it first comes to this pump as normal, but then goes to the booster and then back to the pump.   This means the booster can recharge if needed from the excess pressure from the rack and so doesn’t effect the rack at all and doesn’t put any extra load on the pump. Simple.

So first I needed to make a mount for the new booster.  Even though it is physically smaller than the Corvette booster it is quite heavy so will need a strong / well supported mount.   I started with your traditional cardboard template and then once I had it close I drew up something to 3D print as I needed something a little bit more sturdy to get closer to the final shape.


Next I went to our friends at O.L.S to laser cut my model from 5mm steel and I tacked it in place.


Next I needed to create some more bracing to allow for the large amount of pressure that will come from the pedal being pressed down.   It’s amazing to see even 5mm steel move when pressed under heavy brake loads, so I wanted to be proactive about bracing the plate.


For the moment that was the brake booster mount done.   Then I moved onto a special reservoir cap for the clutch master cylinder.  Usually the cap for the master cylinder is a cheap looking plastic thing from Willwood, but I wanted something better, but more importantly something that allowed us to use braided hose to match everything else.

I designed something up in Fusion 360 and 3d printed a sample to test.   You can see in the photo below the stock plastic item then my 3d printed version and then the final CNC machined unit that Melbar Engineering made for me from my Fusion 360 model.


Here’s what it looks like in place.


The next episode is going to be all about the accessory pumps like power steering, ride height and ABS etc, but for now I needed to move the battery from its location at the front to the rear.   Originally I wanted to keep the battery in the front for weight distribution reasons, however it was taking up what little free space we had at the front so we had to compromise and trade a little more weight in the rear for usable space at the front as I am trying to keep at least a small front trunk / boot space to carry some soft bags etc.

So I started by making a basic battery tray from some square box section and some offcuts from the O.L.S bins !    I am really happy with the result.


It will need some small braces, but for now it’s very solid.   I needed to create a strap to go over the top of the battery and so once again, I started with a 3d print and then had O.L.S laser cut one from 5mm aluminium.


That’s it for now.   Things are progressing as you can see and so hopefully life will allow me to keep up the new episodes and we’ll be finished the mechanical side of things soon enough.


Please feel free to comment or ask questions,  I really love sharing and discussing our build and cars in general with other readers.

If you’ve missed the last part of our story then click here FZ12 – Part 35

or if you want to go right to the beginning then click here FZ12 – Part 1

]]> 0
The 2018 Automobile Council is still bringing Classic and Modern together Fri, 10 Aug 2018 05:00:35 +0000 For the third year running the Automobile Council brings classic and modern together in Tokyo. One of the few classic car shows in Japan, the Automobile Council is slowly building a reputation as the go-to show to buy and sell classic car, ogle at the latest and greatest, and get away from the summer heat. 

Held at the Makuhari Messe conventional hall in Chiba, the same place where the Tokyo Auto Salon is also held, it’s still a smaller and more intimate show compared to the Auto Salon. The Automobile Council only takes up two of the eleven halls available at Makuhari Messe but hopefully they’ll be able to fill up more in the future. 

The inaugural show kicked things off well with incredible displays such as the McLaren F1, LaFerrari, Prince R380, and multiple Toyota 2000GTs. It was one of the best ways to kick off a new show. I had hoped the cars each year would get better, last year’s was decent with Zagatos galore, a RUF, a Lagonda, several NSXs, and a Porsche 906. Sure, there wasn’t a  F1 or LaFerrari but it’s hard to follow up on a start like that. 

This year there was no sign of any sort of hypercar. I guess that’s still in keeping with the theme, this is a ‘classic meets modern’ show and modern doesn’t necessarily mean supercars. Not that there weren’t any on show; Nissan showed off their trick new Formula E car proudly in the centre of their stage while Aston Martin brought along their new DBS Superleggera. 

I’m not convinced by it. Okay, it’s the best they could do with the DB11 base. It does have a very cool stance and presence but the Vanquish it replaces was a much more beautiful and elegant car. I’m also adamant about the use of the ‘Superleggera’ badge and name. 

I get its a homage to Touring Superleggera who made bodies for some of Aston’s iconic cars including the DB5, but if Touring Superleggera today had no input on this new DBS then that’s just a case of putting a badge on a car with no meaning other than for the sake of putting a badge on.

Luckily there were other Aston Martins around the show that were much prettier to distract me like this AR1 Zagato. This car was made simply because customers in North America weren’t too happy the DB7 Zagato coupe wasn’t made available to them. AR1 literally means American Roadster 1, hence the unsightly US-spec reflectors on the bumper of this car. Still, it’s an Aston with a Zagato badge.

Also displayed at the Atlantic Cars Limited area was this DBS from the 1970s in what appeared to be a weird lifestyle-lounge setup. Note the 007 coffee table book on the, erm, coffee table. Very apt.

Over at Bentley they had one of 24 BenSport La Sartre coach built cars on display. While it may look like an old car, the coach built bodywork is very much new and modern. Think of it as part restomod, part coachbuilder. BenSport take an existing Type R or Continental chassis, upgrade the engine, gearbox, transmission, power steering, brakes… the works and put on this hand-made aluminum body inspired by a Bentley race car that never came to fruition. Pretty cool and beautiful if you ask me.

Cool and beautiful is also how I’d describe the new Bentley Continental GT. Finally, they’ve designed a Conti GT that’s befitting of the name. It’s the perfect blend of masculine sportiness with the gentlemen elegance one would expect from Bentley. It’s just a very good looking car and I’d have this among its peers of luxury Grand Tourers.

Over at the Japanese manfuacuters, Toyota seemed to have missed the memo and only displayed classic cars. No matter though because there had this weird Sport 800 concept which had an opening canopy. Yes, the whole roof slides open. There are no doors. I’m not surprised that didn’t catch on.

There was also this fantastically cool 2000GT Speed Trial car. The yellow and green livery, yes it’s like the Harrods F1 livery, also inspired one customer to spec their Lexus LFA in the same colors. Respect.

Toyota also showed their ‘7’ racing car, the company’s first purpose-built racer.

Mazda brought along the Kai Concept, a preview of what to expect for the next-generation Mazda3.

Over at Nissan, the MID-4 Concept from 1987 looked a bit like the inspiration for the Honda NSX. It was a development prototype experimenting with four-wheel drive technology in a mid-engine package. This car also introduced technologies that’d be used in future Nissan cars such as four-wheel steering and the VG30DETT engine that’d be used in the 300ZX.

Of course, the first Skyline GT-R had to make an appearance too.

Honda didn’t have any of their legends (pun intended) such the NSX or Type Rs. Instead, they just showed the generations of their Honda Legend sedan.

Subaru had a display of the evolution of their SUVs from the Leone to the new Forester. There’s still something very cool about the 90s Forester though.

Right, back to the exotics and this Ferrari 348 GT Competizione Corsa caught my eye. O.Z. wheels, a silly rear wing, and a roll cage? Yes please. This one was being offered for ¥60,000,000 or about $800,000. Yikes.

Pop-up headlights and fog lights? Yes please! I’ll have more of that.

Apart from the manufacture displays, most of the cars at the Automobile Council are for sale. So if you like something you see on the day you’re there, you can make an offer and might just be able to drive it out of the show.

The perfect car for all your Parisian picnic needs.

I don’t know what this colour is but it’s very lovely and BMW needs to paint more cars in this shade of red.

I mean, it doesn’t get more 80s than this lineup. Well, okay maybe throw in a Countach there for good measure.

“Sold as is”.

I’m usually a Ferrari guy but given the choice between these two I’d happily take the Porsche and use the change to buy a F430 instead.

The Defender is literally the definition of “classic meets modern”. A shame it’s been killed off now.

The very pretty Honda S600 sporting those desirable red Honda badges.

A proper Ghibli. Not the watered down, sell out modern version.

When AMG made properly cool cars with properly cool wheels. 

$2.6 million and all this can be yours.

The E-Type is just going to be one of those cars that’ll be forever timeless.

A Morgan Three Wheeler. For all the unique and quirky cars Japan has, there aren’t too many of these driving around.

Not too many American cars at this show but it’s hard to miss them.

Possibly my favorite variant of the original 911. Well, this and the Carrera RS of course.

I do love a shooting brake.

Proper use of the Superleggera badge on the Lancia Flaminia Touring. 

Cortina, innit?

Pick your colour.

That looks inviting…

Very D-Type esque.

Finally, we’ll end on another classic meets modern duo. On the right is a Nissan Cedric Special, one of the official cars from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. On the left is a Toyota Mirai, what will probably be one of the official cars that’ll be used for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. A true sign of how far cars have advanced.

While this show may not have the star cars like it once did, it still a great place to visit to appreciate and feel nostalgic about classic cars. It won’t be long until the cars we see around us now will be in a show like this when they’re all replaced by soulless autonomous and electric mobility things.

]]> 0
Hyundai launch all-new Kona Electric Wed, 08 Aug 2018 20:41:29 +0000 New Zealand’s first 100% Electric compact SUV

The Kona EV is potentially the most eagerly-awaited EV for this year. With the promise of a ‘real world’ range of 400km, I know of one car dealer who has sold five of them – before they were launched and before the price was known.

Today sees the launch of the Kona EV and also the pricing.

Hyundai New Zealand General Manager Andy Sinclair says, “The Kona Electric cleverly blends ground-breaking electric vehicle technology with New Zealand’s favourite body style, the SUV. We are excited to launch a true zero-emission electric driving option which doesn’t compromise on the design, style and space that sets Kona apart from the crowd.”

In the short term, New Zealand will only take the extended range 64kwh version of Kona Electric with a realistic ‘real world’ driving range of over 400 km on a single charge. The battery can be charged from empty to 80% in just 75 minutes using a DC rapid charger.

Sinclair adds, “The driving range of over 400km is really significant when considering a typical outdoors kiwi lifestyle. We wanted to ensure that an owner in Auckland can head off for a weekend in the Coromandel and drive back to Auckland – all on a single charge.”

The new Kona Electric model is a direct development of the technology from the award-winning IONIQ, which launched in February 2017 and was the top selling new EV in New Zealand last year. The IONIQ received more than five New Zealand Car of the Year category awards in 2017.

But here’s the cruncher: The Kona Electric is priced from $73,990 plus on road costs and features  standard equipment in line with the Kona, such as the SmartSenseTM safety package, Hyundai’s suite of active and passive safety technologies including the Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Following Assist and Blind Spot Collision Warning.

So is $74K for a base model small EV SUV going to sell? Probably, but probably not in the numbers that Hyundai would like.

The car’s ‘infotainment’ system has connectivity through both Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto® accessible by the dash mounted LCD touchscreen with simple and seamless integration of the owner’s smartphone.

The Elite model will retail for $79,990 plus on road costs, and includes all of the features of the Entry model plus it comes equipped with an eight-speaker premium sound system by Krell, Leather Interior (instead of Cloth), Heads Up Display, Power front seats, 8” Touchscreen Display (instead of 7”), Heated & Ventilated front seat, Heated Steering Wheel, LED Headlights with Smart High Beam function and Front Parking Sensors.

Kona Electric arrives as New Zealand’s EV charging network undergoes rapid expansion that is encouraging more New Zealand businesses and public to adopt EVs as part of their vehicle fleets.

The Kona EV is available for pre-order now.

]]> 0
Mercedes-Benz X-Class 350d V6 due December Tue, 07 Aug 2018 00:00:39 +0000 December finally marks the arrival to New Zealand of the much-anticipated V6 X-Class Ute. With an extensive range available, the only thing missing was the powerful V6, this new model may start to turn new buyers heads from the typical mmarket-leadingbrands.

The new X 350 d 4MATIC has a six-cylinder engine, 7G-TRONIC PLUS 7-speed automatic transmission, and 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive.  

The 3.0-litre 190kW (258 hp) six-cylinder diesel engine in the new X 350 d can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.5 seconds. It offers a maximum torque of 550Nm between 1400 and 3200 rpm, meaning that you will have plenty of torque at low engine speeds.

The 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive system offers a low-range reduction gear and a differential lock on the rear axle. This ensures good performance and traction on a wide range of driving surfaces. It is also fitted with a central differential, which can distributes the drive force between the front and rear axle at a torque distribution of 40 to 60 percent.

The 350d will have three all-wheel-drive modes to choose from: 4MAT, 4H and 4L. In 4MAT the torque distribution is continuously adjusted between the axles as the road conditions dictate.

The X 350 d 4MATIC is available in two equipment lines; Progressive, and Power, Progressive starts at $81,205 and Power starts at $88,325.

Progressive features all of the standard options from the 4-cylinder model, plus KEYLESS-GO and 2-zone Climate air conditioning.

The Power model features all of the standard options from the 4-cylinder model plus an aluminium dash trim and black roof liner.

Further customisation is possible with a wide range of optional extras such as leather seats, styling bar, hardcover, hardtop, stowage box, load bed liner, load-securing rails in the load bed, and an underguard. With the introduction of the X350 d 4MATIC a new sports bar is available, which can be combined with a roll cover in black or silver.

It’s definitely a lot of coin for a V6 ute, but many don’t seem to mind spending it these days. Will the X-Class stand up against the consumer-accepted V6 utes? Only time will tell.

DriveLife will tell you on the fist chance we get to do a full review on the Mercedes-Benz X-Class.

]]> 0
2018 Suzuki Swift Sport – New Car Review – is it Leaner, Meaner, Swifter? Mon, 06 Aug 2018 00:00:04 +0000 Whoever invented the Suzuki Swift car game should be shot. For those who don’t know, this is a kids’ car game. So when you are in the car with someone else and you see a Suzuki Swift, you punch the other person’s arm. It’s like the Yellow Car game, but you get hit more. This is because there are a lot more Suzuki Swifts than there are yellow cars.

Everywhere you go, New Zealanders seem to love the Swift. And with good reason – they are a great-driving little runabout, and did very well in our $20K Challenge a few years back, almost beating the Skoda Fabia to the top spot.

Of course, we now have the new, 4th generation Swift – freshened-up design, new motors, new interior and 90Kg less weighty.

Rob tested the RS model last year and wasn’t that impressed with it.

Can the new Swift Sport model win hearts like the ‘old’ model did? Suzuki New Zealand sent us a Swift Sport to find out.

The Range

There’s four models to choose from here, with a mix of automatics and manuals thrown in. Great stuff Suzuki, still having manual cars – even our test Swift Sport was a manual.

At the base of the range is the GL model, in both 5-speed manual (at just $19,990, too) and CVT automatic at $21,990. These are both fitted with a 1.2-litre petrol motor, which manages 66kW of power and 120Nm of torque. At just 870Kg, the Swift GL is a lightweight car.

Next up is the CVT-only GLX hatchback – same motor, but a different trim level, and priced at $24,500.

In the middle of the range is the $25,990 RS model, that has a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol motor and a 6-speed auto transmission – no manual option here. This motor puts out 82kW of power and a decent 160Nm of torque.

Top of the range is the Sport, either in 6-speed manual ($28,500) or 6-speed auto ($29,990).

Both are fitted with Suzuki’s excellent 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder BoosterJet turbo-petrol motor we last saw in the S-Cross. It has an output of 103kW of power and an excellent 230Nm of torque – in a car that weighs in at 970Kg.

Feature-wise, the base GL model is fairly basic, but then it is under $20K. The manual model comes with electric windows, power mirrors, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, Bluetooth, leather steering wheel, body-coloured mirrors, rear privacy glass, LED DRLs, 15” steel wheels. The CVT GL adds some extras to this, like SatNav, a reversing camera, also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Weirdly the CVT has a 5-star ANCAP rating, while I presume the manual is a 4-star – it isn’t stated.

As you would imagine, the CVT-only GLX ups the ante, with 16” alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, weaving alert (that’s weaving in your lane, not the other sort), and lane departure warning.

The auto-only RS definitely adds more value at $25,990, with a telescoping steering wheel, electrically folding mirrors, keyless entry and start, a six-speaker audio system, climate AC with a pollen filter, paddle shifters, LED projector headlamps, auto on and auto levelling headlamps, 16” polished alloys, and auto high beam assist.

So, to the Sport at just $28,500 for the manual. On top of this, it adds alloy pedals, sports seats, 17” alloys, twin exhausts, and a rear upper spoiler – plus that lovely engine of course.

First Impressions

Wow – as I went to pick up our test car, well let’s just say it stood out from the sea of boring grey and silver cars. This Champion Yellow colour has been in the Swift Sport range for over ten years, and it still looks great – and suits the Swift perfectly. This yellow is only available on the Sport model, so if you see a Yellow Swift, you know it’s the Sport version instantly.

A quick glance in the window of the car showed my second nice surprise – Suzuki had sent us a manual model! This test had already started well.

Looking at the back of the car, those twin exhausts look awesome. It’s a trademark Swift Sport look, and they do it well.

While the shape is distinctly Swift, Suzuki have done an excellent job of updating it without losing anything. It’s still fresh, fun and funky – especially in yellow – and will keep buyers happy.

The Inside

I had not long dropped off a Subaru Outback test car, so after that it was like getting into a sports car. It’s not super low-down, but it feels it.

While I love the yellow paint, the red interior trim on the Sports model does seem to clash some.

Yellow paint + red interior bits…

The seats and carpets are black, the headlining is beige, but there’s quite a bit of sporty red plastic trim dotted around the cabin, and also red stitching on the seats, gear change boot, mats and steering wheel. I love contrasting stitching in car interiors, but the red with the yellow was a bit hard on the eyes.

While feeling sporty – especially with those high-backed front seats – the cabin can feel a bit sparse when looking at it. There’s also lots of hard black plastic about the cabin – and then you remember this car is only $28,500.

For me, the only ‘real’ extras are climate AC and adaptive cruise control, but hey for the money, just having adaptive cruise is a huge bonus. I could mention a number of cars that cost over $60K – and some at over $80K – that don’t have adaptive cruise.

Sitting in the driver’s seat, the rev counter has a full-on red background, and the instrument cluster itself has a glowing red line around it. If that doesn’t scream ‘sporty’ to you, then the flat-bottom steering wheel and alloy pedals just might.

There’s a manual handbrake in the usual place, and up front is a 7” central touchscreen display. This uses Suzuki’s usual infotainment system, and it works very well, with a clean and crisp display. So simple to use, even some of the older generations will work it with ease. Or they can always ask their grandchildren.

There’s no volume knob anywhere, it’s either use the steering wheel controls or the slider. Actually, there’s no buttons at all in the centre of the car, except for the air con controls. Up front there’s a single USB port, as well as a 12V power socket and an AUX port.

Behind you is a 60/40 split rear seat, and rear legroom is actually pretty good, considering this is a short car.

The boot is quite deep, but short. There’s no spare tyre here, but a puncture sealant kit instead.

Unfortunately – and this isn’t only a Suzuki thing – there’s a huge piece of polystyrene in place of a spare. The thing is there’s still so much wasted space here, it almost seems pointless to not have a spare. A better design here would work wonders, and would allow a lot more storage for all that crap we haul around in our boots (and never use).

I did like that when you go to close the boot, there’s a pull handle on either side. Simple thing, but having it only on one side – which is the norm – is a bit of a pain at times. I don’t recall seeing this before, but have wanted some manufacturer to do this.

The Drive

The Swift Sport has always been about the Fun Drive. Does the new model deliver on that promise? 100%. We loved the 1.4 BoosterJet engine in the S-Cross. Take that engine, stick a 6-speed manual gearbox on it in a car weighing in at 970Kg and you have the recipe for a totally Fun Drive.

Incredibly torquey, and with that light weight, always a blast and always – always – so easy to drive. While some might poo-poo the manual gearbox, with the mixture of weight and torque, you don’t really need to change gear much anyway. Dare I say it – this gearbox in this car with that engine makes a mockery of owning an automatic, even in a city.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with Suzuki’s 6-speed auto ‘box – it is excellent – but in this car, a manual is the way to go.

It’s just so easy to tootle around town in 5th gear, and accelerate away cleanly and crisply. Often I went straight from 4th to 6th gear without hesitation; the engine can handle this very comfortably.

Needless to say, with the light weight and 103kW of power, this car can really move it.

Full-throttle acceleration will see plenty of wheel spin and axle tramp, but it still gets away quickly. Accelerating just that little bit too hard through a corner will also return wheel spin, in a nice, controllable way.

I don’t think I can say it enough – this is a brilliant, fun car to drive.

So when you hear the name ‘Sport’, you would assume that not only can it accelerate quickly, it can also handle a twisty road, right? I took the Sport to my Favourite Handling Road to test it out. All in the name of fair reporting, of course.

Being a weekday, there was almost no traffic about as the Swift and I tested out its handling, braking, cornering. I’ve got to mention that torquey engine again – it makes it so much easier.

Sure, you can change down to second gear for a tight corner, but there’s no need; leave it in third, and let the torque of the engine send you out of the corner.

Even Monarch butterflies are attracted to the Swift Sport

As I got further along using a higher gear, I tried using fourth gear instead. It was almost as good as third. Sure, I didn’t get much engine braking coming into a corner, but even relatively sharper bends at 20 to 30km/h could be taken in fourth, and the Swift would easily accelerate cleanly out the other side.

Cornering isn’t quite flat, but it’s pretty darn close. I have no complaints in the handling department, other than too much wheel spin if you do use lower gears and come out of a bend with too much gas.

Brakes too are a dream here – with a manual gearbox and light weight, they don’t need to do much, but they are up to the task anyway; good feedback and easily modulated. Spot on.

Steering as well – excellent. Great feedback through the wheel at all times.

This road also showed how good those sports seats are – they have excellent side support and just the right padding in just the right places. Perfect.

Over my week with the Swift Sport and especially on that twisty road, it reminded me of some classics, past and recent, like the MX-5, or even an original Golf GTi. So much fun, and the driver gets really involved with actually driving the car. Couldn’t ask for more than that.

I have to say, the pedals weren’t quite right for me for heel-and-toe gear changes, but after a week with the car I had it sorted, but it would have been even better if they were adjustable.

Okay, enough going on about just how good the engine/handling/steering/brakes are on a twisty road – what about using the Swift Sport as a Daily Driver? In my notes, I kept writing the word ‘excellent’ next to anything I was describing. And yes, it’s excellent as a daily driver, in general.

One example of this is the adaptive cruise control – it’s awesome having it on a sub $30k car, but even better the adaptive cruise stays on when you change gears. I’ve only seen this once before, in the Honda Type R, and it’s so good to see this work properly. Adaptive cruise itself in the Swift Sport is the same as any other car, and works just as well. To even have it in the mid-spec model is incredible. Huge ups to Suzuki for doing this.

So it’s a manual gearbox, but for some reason there’s no Hill Start Assist. I don’t have any issues with hill starts with a handbrake, but hill start assist would have been nice at times. Weirdly, the auto model of the Sport has hill start assist – go figure that one out.

Visibility out of the car is on the most part pretty good, except for the chunky C pillars. They are pretty wide, and this really comes into play when you are backing out of an angle car park. There’s a lot of back and forth, trying to see if any cars are coming.

I know it’s only a $28,500 car, but it would have been nice if all the electric window switches on the driver’s door were illuminated, and also only the driver’s window has auto function, and it’s only auto down. I’m being picky though, I know.

Still sitting in the driver’s seat, there’s a driver’s information display (DID), which is always handy, but it’s a bit lacking in some areas. You do get things like a power and torque display, two types of fuel meters, average speed, a clock, and a motion sensor. That sounds like a lot, but I didn’t really use them. The Motion Sensor display is a type of G-Meter display, but with no numbers, and no memory, so it just shows you on a radar type of display how much forward or back, left or right movement the car is in.

More importantly in these days of having to watch our speed and not the road, there’s no digital speedo. I really missed this, especially since the main speedo goes up to 260km/h, and so you can imagine the numbers are really tightly packed in there, making it a bit difficult to read at a glance. A digital speedo in the DID is a must.

Still on the DID, it’s great that the Sport has SatNav as standard, but a shame that any directions for SatNav aren’t shown in the DID. Also, the current speed limit isn’t shown on the SatNav screen or in the DID.

For the weight of the car, the ride is excellent – that word again. I thought for a while it was a bit too jittery, and at times it is. But keep in mind this thing weighs less than a ton, so making it ride as well as it does is impressive.

Still on the day to day, there’s automatic headlights, but no auto wipers. No biggie, and hey there are cars we test at $60K that don’t have auto wipers. At least the headlights are auto high-beams, which is a bonus.

You’d think with such a short car, the turning circle would be good. It is beyond good, and at just 5.1 metres, U-turns can be done pretty much anywhere. Perfect city car specs, that one.

Still on the plus side, wind noise is minimal, ditto road noise, even on the motorway. The engine can be a little noisy, but never obtrusive. No doubt some sacrifices have been made in the sound insulation department to save weight.

I found the Swift really low geared, and this showed on the motorway. At 100km/h, the engine is doing 2700rpm. This means great acceleration on the motorway, even in 6th gear. But it does mean a little more engine noise than you might get in a car doing 1,000rpm less at the same speed.

Over my week with the car, I managed to get 7.1L/100km out of it, over 300km of mixed driving. Suzuki claims a combined rating of 6.1, so I wasn’t too far off that. You do need to watch the fuel though, as there’s just a 37-litre fuel tank.

The Competition

After a hot-hatch under $30K? Slim pickings, but at least you do have options.

The Jazz doesn’t really count as a hot hatch, but I’ve included it anyway.

Brand/Model Engine Power/Torque Fuel, L/100km Seats Boot space, litres (3rd row down where fitted) Price – High to Low
Volkswagen Polo R-Line 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder petrol turbo 85kW/200Nm 4.7 5 N/A $32,990
Ford Fiesta Sport Special Edition 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder petrol turbo 92kW/170Nm 5.3 5 276 $28,840
Suzuki Swift Sport 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder petrol turbo 103kW/230Nm 6.1 5 265 $28,500
Skoda Fabia TSi Sport 1.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol turbo 81kw/200Nm 4.5 5 330 $27,990
Honda Jazz RS Sport 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol 97kW/155Nm 5.8 5 359 $27,190

The Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
  • Engine smoothness, power delivery, torque
  • Handling/brakes/steering/ride
  • Looks
  • Value
  • Adaptive cruise control at this price
  • Supportive seats
  • Cluttered speedo
  • Chunky C pillar
  • No digital speedo

What do we think of it?

I can see why there are so many Swifts on the road. For the money, the Swift Sport is – you guessed it –  excellent.

Suzuki’s 1.4 BoosterJet is the benchmark in small-capacity, turbo-petrol motors. So much torque, so smooth, so willing.

If Suzuki were heading to take the Swift recipe and improve it without breaking anything else, they’ve nailed it on the head.

This is the cheapest car I’ve reviewed this year – and I haven’t given a 5-chevron review to any car this year. But the time has come.

The Swift Sport in a manual is a brilliant car. No more need be said.

2018 Suzuki Swift Sport (manual)

Chevrons  5.0

Vehicle Type 5-door small hatchback
Starting Price $19,990
Price as Tested $28,500
Engine 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol
Power, Torque 103kW/230Nm
Transmission 6-speed manual
0-100km/h, seconds 7.5
Spare Wheel None
Kerb Weight, Kg 970
Length x Width x Height, mm 3890x1735x1495
Cargo Capacity, litres 265/579
Fuel capacity, litres 37
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – combined –  6.1L/100km

Real World Test – combined –  7.1L/100km

Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+

Towing Capacity

Kg, unbraked/braked

Turning circle, metres 5.1

Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+

Warranty 3 years or 100,00km

5 years powertrain warranty

5 years Roadside Assist

ANCAP Safety Ratings Not stated

Yellow paint + red interior bits…

Even Monarch butterflies are attracted to the Swift Spot



]]> 0
2018 Seat Ateca FR – Car Review – Sporty Spaniard Thu, 02 Aug 2018 00:00:35 +0000 Who are Seat, you might ask? In Europe they’ve been around for many years, but they are new to New Zealand. The cars are made in Spain but they’re part of the VAG group along with VW, Skoda and Audi. The first car to be launched here is the Ateca compact SUV. Seat (pronounced say-at) give us one for a week to see what we thought.

The Range

Currently you have four options, starting with the Style spec, at $38,900, which comes with a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine making 110kW and 250Nm. It’s front-wheel drive with a 7-speed DSG transmission. The standard spec is quite impressive, including cruise control, brake assist, pedestrian protection, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, rear camera, airbags at the  front, side, curtain and driver’s knees, ASR, ABS, ESC, electronic diff lock, Apple Carplay, Android Auto and MirrorLink, dual-zone climate, auto-dimming mirror, shifter paddles, Auto lights and wipers, heated electric mirrors, rear parking sensors, and 17” wheels.

Next up is Xcellence spec, at $44,900 in front-wheel drive or $52,900 in four-wheel drive. This spec has a 2-litre turbodiesel, making 140kW and 400Nm, also with a 7-speed DSG transmission. Extras over Style spec include adaptive cruise, top-view camera, sports front seats, heated front seats, LED headlights (dipped and main beam), keyless entry and start, electric tailgate, chrome exhaust pipes and 18” wheels.

Finally we have the FR (short for Formula Racing) at $50,900 which comes in four-wheel drive only and has a 2.0-litre petrol turbo engine making 140kW and 320Nm. It’s interesting that the petrol and diesel make the same power but the diesel is 0.4 seconds quicker to 100, achieving it in 7.5 seconds. The FR is similar to Xcellence spec with a few minor differences, such as a sports steering wheel and different wheel design. It’s hard to see where the extra $6k goes, and this makes the diesel look like a much better deal.

The brochure lists thirteen colours available, including two blues, two whites, grey, silver and black, beige, brown, red, and a rather striking yellow.

First Impressions

Our review car was the FR spec, in Velvet Red, and it’s a handsome-looking thing. There are some family resemblances to its VAG siblings such as the Tiguan and Karoq, but it has a distinctive Seat face, which we’re soon going to see a lot more of. I’m not a huge fan of the contrasting silver lower trims, but that’s down to personal taste.

The Inside

Inside the Ateca, the VAG family resemblance is clear, and that’s certainly no bad thing. The Seat interior is very reminiscent of current generation Skodas and VWs, but with red highlights and stitching. It’s all rather nice, with piano black trims and a scattering of chrome.

The perforated leather-clad sports steering wheel has a flat bottom and lovely shaped grips at nine and three. There are fewer buttons on the wheel than a lot of cars as Seat have gone with a stalk for cruise control rather than buttons. I’m not a huge fan of this, I’d rather have more buttons, but after a bit of familiarisation it’s just as easy to use the stalk.

The main dash is a pair of large, clear analogue gauges for speedo and rev counter, with a 3.5” colour digital display in the centre which can show various displays including digital speedo, radio info, satnav directions etc.

The centre console has an 8” touch screen,  used for the entertainment system as well as various car settings and displays, plus the top-down and rear-view camera systems. It’s a good resolution and easy to use. There are even G-force meters, an oil temperature gauge and a lap timer for those SUV track days.

The 8-speaker audio system performs well, with clear sound and good bass. I had no trouble pairing my phone via Bluetooth and it worked as it should, automatically returning to Bluetooth when I got into the car each time. There are also two USB ports, aux input, Apple Carplay and Android Auto included as standard.

The front sports seats are very comfortable, just soft enough but with side support when you need it. I really liked the alcantara centres and the red stitching highlights. Both front seats include lumbar support adjustment, a feature that the passenger often misses out on in a lot of cars. There are storage drawers under the front seats too. The rear seats are also comfortable, with good legroom. Rear passengers get their own air vent and another two USB ports. The rear seats are 60/40 split folding for larger cargo loads.

Pop the electric tailgate and there’s a pretty generous 485-litre boot, which includes bag hooks and tie-down loops, though the bag hooks are only really good for a single carrier and not great for the larger re-usable bag handles. There are a couple of lower sections at either side which are handy for stowing bottles to stop them rolling around.

The Drive

When I first picked up the Ateca and set off down the road I thought it was a diesel! The TSi petrol engine is surprisingly rattly-sounding when it’s cold. Once it was warmed up it wasn’t as noticeable. It certainly picks up well and feels nice and torquey, which is also partly why it fooled me at first. There are the usual selection of drive modes: Normal, Eco and Sport. Plus because this is the four-wheel drive version you get Offroad and Snow. I suspect these last two will not be used by 90% of buyers, and I didn’t get a chance to test them out in the week I had the car.

The radar cruise control system works well, making a stop/start traffic commute a much more relaxing proposition. Talking of which, the engine stop/start function can be a little enthusiastic when you come to a halt, stopping the engine before you’ve completely stopped. This seems to be a common feature of VAG cars.

In the week I was driving the Ateca, most of my driving was around town, the school run etc. This is the sort of use that cars like this are great for. The high driving position gives good visibility, it’s comfortable, practical and easy to hop in and out of. The top-down 360-degree camera view is great and makes parking easy.

The suspension is a little soft, which means the ride is good, but there is a bit of body roll on corners if you press on. On the motorway it’s comfortable and road noise is pretty well insulated. When I took the Ateca for a bit of a blast on a back road it surprised me, by feeling much more sporty than I expected. You can have some fun in this car, it’s not just a grocery getter!

My fuel usage was a little over the quoted figure at 9.4 litres per 100km but as I said it was mostly around town, so this isn’t unreasonable.

The Competition

Brand/Model Engine Power/Torque Fuel, L/100km Seats Boot Space, Litres Towing Capacity, Kg Price Highest to Lowest
VW Tiguan TSI R-Line 2.0 litre 4 cylinder turbo 132kW/320Nm 7.8 5 615 2200 $68,990
Hyundai Tucson Elite Limited 2.0 litre 4 cylinder turbo 136kW/400Nm 6.8 5 488 1600 $63,990
Mazda CX-5 Lmited 2.5l 4 cy


140kW/251Nm 7.5 5 455 1656 $55,495
Kia Sportage GT-Line 2.0 litre 4 cylinder turbo 136kW/400Nm 6.8 5 466 1500 $54,990
Nissan X-Trail Ti 2.4 litre 4 cylinder 126kW/226Nm 8.3 5 565 1350 $53,490
Seat Ateca FR 2.0 litre 4 cylinder turbo 140kW/320Nm 7.0 5 485 2000 $50,900
Skoda Karoq TSi Style 2.0 litre 4 cylinder turbo 110kW/250Nm 5.7 5 479-588 2000 $48,490

The pros and cons

Pros Cons
  • Equipment level
  • Interior
  • Torquey engine
  • Surprisingly sporty feel
  • Noisy engine when cold

What we think

There are a lot of SUVs around these days, and the Seat is a strong contender in its segment. It’s well-priced and comes with a good range of standard features. It’s good-looking, practical and drives well enough to have a little bit of fun. It’s a good all-rounder and would make a great family car.

Rating – Chevron rating (4 out of 5)

2018 Seat Ateca FR

Vehicle Type Compact SUV
Starting Price $50,900 plus on-road costs
Tested Price $50,900 plus on-road costs
Engine 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Power Kw / Torque Nm 140kW/320Nm
Transmission 7-speed DSG dual-clutch
0 – 100 kph, seconds 7.9
Spare Wheel Space saver
Kerb Weight, Kg 1589
Length x Width x Height, mm 4363 x 1841 x 1625
Cargo Capacity, litres 485 seats up

1579 seats folded

Fuel Tank, litres 55
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – Combined – 7.0 L / 100km

Real World Test – Combined –  9.4L / 100km

Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+

Towing 750kg unbraked

2,000kg braked

Turning circle 10.8m

Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+

Warranty 3 years/100,000km
ANCAP Rating 5 stars

]]> 0
2018 Volkswagen Touareg New Zealand launch Mon, 30 Jul 2018 21:00:56 +0000 We joined Volkswagen New Zealand at Bracu in the Bombay Hills. On a stunningly clear day, this olive vineyard was the perfect location for the launch of the 2018 Touareg.

Tom Ruddenklau, General Manager for Volkswagen New Zealand, started the launch with a general state of the nation with some stats on sales and the future products for New Zealand. There has been huge growth from VW between 2009 to 2018, which Tom said is starting to plateau. This more than likely due to the market saturation of SUV’s.

The Info

The market in New Zealand as of mid-2018 is split up as passenger vehicles at around 27% with 21,000 units. SUVs take up the largest section of the market at 42%, around 32,000 units. The Ute segment is rapidly growing due to the V6 Amarok at 38%, which is 20,200 units. The remaining 7% is commercial vans and 4,100 units.

“This year, we were not prepared for the consumer reaction to the new Tiguan and struggled with stock to meet the demand. This has left VW down 4% of over last year’s sales,” says Tom. He was confident that the second half of the year to be huge for VW with the large supply for Tiguan available and all new Touareg.

The new Touareg is going up against the heavy hitters of the large SUV market; Land Rover Discovery, Range Rover Sport, Volvo XC90, X5 and Q7. The new Touareg will focus on the large SUV market, which is currently 56% of the SUV market, mid-size now has the Tiguan All Space at 15% and the small SUV market at 9% with the standard Tiguan.

Tom also let us in on a new product that will be hitting our sources later in the year. The New T-Roc R-Line arriving in September will help to complete the SUV family that VW offers. They will start with one spec, an R-Line at $51,990 with a 2.0-litre, 140kW TSi, which we will hopefully get a chance to drive later in the year.

The 3rd generation flagship Touareg was introduced to us by Rasika Verleijen, Volkswagen New Zealand Product Manager. There will be two models available immediately; the TDI V6 and the TDI V6 S. The TDI V6 starts at $96,990 and comes with a 3.0L diesel-turbo with 170kW of power and produces 500Nm of torque. The TDI V6 S starts at $107,990 and comes with the same 3.0L diesel engine. The S creates 210kW and 600Nm of torque. They will also offer a V8 R-line variant which will become available in 2019.  

Built on the MLB platform which is shared with the Audi Q7, Bentley Bentayga and Porsche Cayenne, the new Touareg will be 77mm longer and 44m wider than the second generation model. However, in the flesh, the older model’s design seemed bigger than the new model.

With a new refined, premium and clever interior, and massive tech improvements, they hope to achieve a target of 10% of the New Zealand large SUV market. And even though VW is still trying to move past the dark shadow of the global diesel issues, they believe that the new Touareg defines success, in an understated way, much like great New Zealanders.

There have been significant changes to the new Touareg which were covered under 4 main headings: Design, Performance & Driving, Advanced Safety, and Infotainment & Interior.

Design: the exterior of the new Touareg has had a dramatic style change, following in the modern, sleek footsteps of the latest Tiguan.

Performance & Driving: this covered the two new engines that were offered. Standard on the S but optional on the V6, the new model offers air suspension and an electromechanical anti-roll bar stabilisation system. The air suspension allows the diver to lift the car, providing an extra 70mm clearance, and can also be lowered 15mm when in sports mode.

The electromechanical active roll bars aid in reducing the side lean when cornering in such a large vehicle. As standard, the Touareg now comes with all-wheel steering, which at low speeds increases the agility and manoeuvrability while also providing a reduced turning circle to 11.1m.

Advanced Safety has seen a lot of technology upgrades from the previous model, starting with class-leading LED Matrix headlights, which have 128 LEDs per headlight, active high beam assist and active cornering lights. These are standard on the V6 S but optional on the V6.

A first for VW is an optional Night Vision package that is displayed in the driver’s dash. This has a thermal imaging camera to detect pedestrian, cyclist, and animals up to 130 metres ahead, long before the driver can even see them. Also new to the Touareg you can now option a Windshield Head-up Display, which shows important information directly on front of the driver. Standard on the V6 S while optional on the V6

All models come with a Monitoring Cross Traffic feature, which works at junctions and exists to help with poor visibility and minimise accidents. For larger vehicles, features like this are very handy.

Informatainment and Interior showcased the new Innovisison cockpit with a 15-inch touchscreen that wraps towards the driver and a 12.3” TFT active info display in the driver’s dash. This is standard in V6 S and optional in the V6. The other new feature is the optional ambient interior lighting which offers you a range of up to 30 colours.

The Touareg is available in 8 different colours; Two whites, silver, blue, gold, brown, black, and grey. There are also two interior trim options; Raven (light brown) and Soul (dark grey).

The Drive

Once the briefing had finished it was time to see what the new Touareg was like to drive.

There were only two Touaregs in the country, both V6 S models, howev,er neither of which had the air suspension or electromechanical active roll bars. These two will be the only two in New Zealand without them as they are pre-production models, and once stock arrives they will have both of these options as standard.

Behind the wheel of the new Touareg you feel very at home if you are an existing VW customer. For what is a large vehicle, it does not feel big nor does it feel heavy and cumbersome to control. If I am being honest, it almost feels just like the smaller Tiguan to handle. On the back roads of the Bombay Hills, the Touareg handled very well for its size, which made me excited to eventually test a V6 S with the air suspension and active roll bars.

The engine in the V6 S was the 210kW, 3.0L single turbo-diesel. This engine produces 600Nm of torque and its linked to the 4-Motion all-wheel-drive system by an 8-speed tiptronic gearbox. The power delivery was nice, it did not feel like 600Nm when taking it slow out of corners, but once you got over 2500 rpm the power curve became a lot more noticeable. At speed and in sports mode the engine was very responsive and predictable, leaving the driver feeling confident about the road ahead.

The new Innovision cockpit envelopes the driver with two massive screens. A 15inch central screen and a 12-inch driver display. Both of these display a huge amount of information for the driver and passenger. It’s not too dissimilar to an iPad. It has windows that can be edited to display different information, and in these windows, you can swipe left and right to see additional information. This system allows you to edit all the major aspect of the vehicle, which can even be done by the passenger while the driver is focused on the road ahead.

As this was a taste test we only had a short time to play with it. I imagine we could spend a few hours looking through all the menus and configurable options available. We look forward to having a more in-depth look at this in a full review.

What we think

The new Touareg goes on sale next month, and it will be an interesting one to watch. It’s obvious that the V6 S is the best value for money, however, this is just over the $100k which may be a big divider for some. That and the fact it’s a 5-seater in a predominately 7-seat SUV market could mean it’s a bit of a struggle for some to justify.

I think it will do well in New Zealand as VW has shown great advancement in lifestyle technology, which is a big attraction for many of today’s buyers.

We will be keen to get the new Touareg for a more in-depth review later in the year.

]]> 0
2018 Tesla Model S P100D – Car Review – Simply ludicrous Mon, 30 Jul 2018 00:00:01 +0000 Our time has finally come to review the Tesla Model S P100D. This has been extremely long awaited, so much so that we were worried that we may not have much to review due to all the publicity and YouTube videos across the internet.

But that didn’t discourage us from taking the P100D for a week to see what all the hype was about.

The Range

The model S is available in New Zealand in three model variants: the 75D which starts at $124,795, the 100D which starts at $155,045 and the P100D which starts at $214,645. All three models from the outside look exactly the same, the only difference is the badge on the back.

The 75D comes with dual electric motor and a 75kWh battery, which offers a range of up to 490km. It has a 4.4-second 0 to 100 km/h and a top speed of 225km/h.  

The 100D  comes with dual electric motor and a 100kWh battery, which offers a range of up to 632 km. It has a 4.3-second 0 to 100 km/h and a top speed of 250km/h.

The P100D also comes with dual electric motors and a 100kWh battery, which offers a range of up to 613 km. It has a 2.7-second 0 to 100 km/h and a top speed of 250km/h.

The range of options is also the same across the range. There are seven paint colours, with Solid Black a no-cost option. Midnight Silver, Obsidian Black, Deep Blue, Silver are at $1500 each. Pearl White and Red are both $2300 options.

The roof comes as standard with a solid glass roof. This can be upgraded to a have a panoramic sunroof for $3100.

For the wheels you have four options, with 19” silver wheels are standard. They can be upgraded to 19” Sonic Carbon Slipstream Wheels for $2300, or the 21” Sonic Carbon Twin Turbine Wheels for $6900. Finally and exclusive to the P100D, you can option it with the 21” Black Arachnid Wheels for $6900.

The interior has six options, the standard one being the black textile interior. In the 75D and 100D this can be optioned with carbon fibre inlay for $400, while it is a no-cost option on the P100D. The 75D and 100D have four other interiors to choose from: White Premium, Black Premium, Black Premium/ Light Headliner and Cream Premium. Each of these options is $5100. On the P100D you have the choice of Black Premium and White Premium as no-cost options.

Each variant comes as standard with the premium upgrades package. This consists of medical-grade HEPA air filtration system, premium audio system and sub-zero weather features including a heated steering wheel, wiper blade defrosters and washer nozzle heaters.

The last four options are the Enhanced Autopilot ($7,700), Full Self-Driving Capability ($4600) and rear-facing third row ($6100); and, exclusive to the P100D, a carbon fibre spoiler as a no-cost option.

First Impressions

As Tesla does not have a dealer in Wellington, we arranged to meet the Tesla representative at the InterContinental Hotel. As I walked up to the hotel, the Model S P100D stood out in bright red.  It was noticeably long and sleek compared to the vehicles around it. You could tell it was different, but you could not tell why.

Overall our review car was a pretty good looking bit of kit and I couldn’t wait to jump in and start our review. But before this happened, the Tesla representative took me on a comprehensive guided tour of the vehicle and its features. Once completed, we said our goodbye and it was time to hit the road and begin our review.

The Inside

When you jump in the Model S the first thing you are confronted with is the massive 17” vertical touchscreen. It’s rather eye catching at first—or eye distracting, as there is so much info on there. But more about that later.

The interior is nice and clean, while also being rather sparse. There are no buttons; or rather, I should say, it does not have the usual buttons that decorate most dashboards. There were two that I could find, one either side of the main display screen. One was for the hazard lights and the other was to open the glove compartment.

The rest of the dash was made up of carbon fibre inlays, some air vents and a leather bound frame. It was nice, but not exactly luxury, or what I have come to know as luxury. It felt no different to any of the $50k+ cars we review, with the major difference being the massive touch screen. From a design point of view, it really did not integrate well.

The seats were pretty good, well made and shaped with great support. I found it easy to get comfy in the P100D, making for an enjoyable week behind the wheel. Both front seats only had basic adjustments settings, seat forward and back, seat up and down, seat backrest forward and back and lumbar support. The head rest could also be adjusted manually. No leg rest adjustment which is great for taller people and common in most luxury cars these days. Overall the seats were good.

The space in the back was ok in length, but not great for a tall person. The floor was higher due to the space the batteries took up in the floor, which made people in the back feel a bit cramped, especially for taller people and I found it tight when sitting in the back. However, I found getting in and out of the back easier than the front, as the front windscreen is raked more steeply than normal, making it easy for tall people to bang their heads if they don’t duck. This reminded me more of sports cars or supercars which have similarly raked windscreens.

The cabin itself had a decent amount of storage available. Under the main screen there were two cubbies, a large one with dividers for extra cup holders and another which allows access to the USB ports for phone charging. This second one, when open, can double as a cradle for your phone with the right cable or attachments. I assume this would be a Tesla accessory sold separately, however I could not find any info on their site. The armrest also had two cup holders and another storage area under the armrest itself. I was surprised to see that the doors did not have any storage cubbies at all, front or back.

The roof in the P100D was optioned with the sunroof. Regardless of where you sat, the entire roof was glass. This made the cabin very open and feel spacious. There was a bar in the middle of the roof which split the solid roof of the rear to the sunroof in the front. Much like any other panoramic sunroof, it tilted up, slid back, everything you would expect of it. I would consider this a “must have”, but I have always been partial to an opening sunroof in cars.

The boot or boots provided very a healthy combined capacity of 894 litres. Having no engine in the front allows for 150 litres in the front boot on top of the already generous 744 litres in the rear, which, for a sedan, is enormous and probably the largest in its class.

As far as the interior goes, that’s it. The only two things left to cover are the driver display and the central touchscreen. So back we go to the central touchscreen, and what it’s all about. The screen itself is split into three sections: the top menu buttons, the display screen applications and climate control menu at the bottom. The two top and bottom menus stay static, while the centre section changes from either a full screen of info or is split in half with a top and bottom showing different applications.


The top menu consists of (from left to right) Audio, Navigation, Calendar, Reports, Internet, Cameras and Phone. Audio allows you access to the radio, music from your phone and Spotify. And thanks to the unlimited internet provided by Tesla, you can stream Spotify for free all the time. I used this all the time, and it was awesome.

Navigation is simple – they use Google Maps – thanks again to the internet connection. This is where you can take advantage of the split screen, which can allow you to have the navigation open while still having access to the audio menus.

The calendar was not tested as we didn’t have any entries.

Reports allowed you access to vehicle monitoring info. This tracked the vehicle’s efficiency while it was driven, or how the power had been used, economically or excessively. They were very detailed and one could lose a lot of time looking over them to make the most of the power available in the car.

The camera allowed you to see out the rear view camera, which could be done while the car was moving too, which was odd.

And last but not least was the phone, which gave access to settings for syncing your phone or Bluetooth devices.

At the bottom right hand corner of the screen there was a button called Controls. This gave you access to all of the vehicle’s selectable features. This is where most of the buttons that might be found on a regular dash are stored away. In here there are 6 main menus; Sunroof, Suspension, Driving, Cold Weather, Trips, Displays, E-Brake & Power Off.

The sunroof menu was pretty cool, as you could by touch slide back on the image of the car and open the sunroof. This is the sort of cool forward thinking I like from Tesla. Not using what everyone else does, but still offering an easy option.

Suspension allowed you to set the vehicle’s height into 5 settings, Low, Standard, High, Very High and Jack.

Driving gave you access to a range of acceleration, steering, traction control and regenerative braking options. This is also where you can select the famous Ludicrous mode for maximum battery power and the eye watering 2.7 second 0-100 km/h.

Cold Weather has an array of heated seats, heated wipers and heated steering wheel options. Trip had more information about the current and previous trips you had taken.

Display controls the display itself, with brightness and day and night modes. Clean mode which turned the screen off so you can wipe all those fingerprints off.

E-Brake & Power Off had options for the hand brake and to power off the entire vehicle.

The driver’s dash was also another impressive display. This panel was divided into three sections of information. The Map information; on the left, the car’s state or position on the road in the middle and the vehicle’s info on the right.

The map was nicely integrated into the side of the display and it was super easy to use when requiring navigation.

The central section displays the car’s state or position, so if the door is open it would display that it’s open. When driving it would display a road with the road lines either side and your position on the road. If you drove over the line, the car would display that it’s over the line. It also showed other vehicles around you, which was rather impressive, picking up cars that were over 50m away from the front of the car. On the right you had the driver’s information panel, which could cycle through a range of options from average power use to range etc.

The one thing that I really liked from the driver’s dash, was the display when parking. Many other cars with sensors around it, displaying if you’re close to something or not. However it went one better, instead of just beeping louder, it also displayed a measurement of how far you were away from the object, which I thought was great, as you’re not always sure with the sensors how far you have left between you and an object.

The menus and options are really endless, and I could carry on for another few hundred words. All in all the tech was by far the most impressive I have encountered in any car on the market.

The Drive

Driving this Tesla was weird. Well weird if you are not used to an electric vehicle. It was very quiet, and just wafted along with a strange eeriness about it. I was impressed already, as I could hardly tell if the car was on or not. The only thing that confirmed it, was the fact I was travelling down the street. This was partly thanks to the massive battery in the floor which also acted as a large dense sound deadening insulation. Even normal tyre noise was less than you would typically expect.

On the move the Tesla is no harder or more difficult to drive than any other typical car on the road. The only thing you might find you need to get used to is the regenerative braking. Unlike a the BMW i3, the Tesla’s regen braking is not as strong, so you do still need to apply the brakes when coming to a stop, where other electric cars take full advantage of the energy created from braking and are more aggressive. I didn’t mind it, but would have prefered if the regen braking was stronger and could not find any options to change this.

It was obvious that this was a heavy car, you could tell by how the car moved in the corners. This had an unexpected effect on the car’s feel. Due to the heavy batteries’ low position in the car, it created a low centre of gravity. This gave the car a very planted and almost sports car-like feel when driving around. When you went into a corner, there was very little body roll. The disappointing side of this is that it was the only part that felt like a sports car. There was not much feel from the rest of the car, like you would get with many sports or performance cars. Whether it was due to the heavy sound deadening or the fact that everything was electric – even the steering – there was just not a lot of driver feedback or feel when behind the wheel.

As a daily cruiser, I found the P100D was very comfortable, relaxing to drive and easy to use. I often get asked what are the cars like to drive, and sometimes it’s hard to remember. The P100D was one of these undramatic vehicles, except for ludicrous mode of course. It was able to do all the normal tasks you want a car to do well and effortlessly. It’s clear as day why many people are keen to make the move from combustion engines to fully electric.

While driving at night I always found the central screen too bright, even in its auto brightness setting and night mode. This may have just been the size of the screen, but the glow from it was too much, and I had to manually lower it down anytime I was driving at night.

And while we are on the subject of night driving, what’s the deal with the rear view mirrors? This car didn’t seem to have any auto or manually dipping mirrors, not the side and not the main rear view mirror. On their site, it lists that it has both, but I they did not seem to work and could not get them working during my test. 

The time had come to test the famous Ludicrous mode. As we don’t have access to a closed runway or closed of streets I waited till late one night and found myself a wide empty desolate industrial street. I stopped the car, made sure I was strapped in and was ready to give it everything. I had selected Ludicrous mode earlier as I had heard that it helps to give time for the batteries to heat up. Not sure if this is true or not, but it can’t hurt.

And in 3… 2…. 1 I stomped my foot all the way the floor. And 2.7 seconds later I was at 100 km/h and I got straight on the brake and stopped. Holy mother of God, that was mental fast, my heart was pounding. I had been in many fast cars, but that was so far the fasted I had probably every accelerated. Formula 1 cars can accelerate at these sorts of speeds. My hands were shaking a bit, as it was hard to comprehend how fast that really was. In the space of time it takes most of us to unlock our phones, this car had gone from stand still to 100km/h. It’s mental, or as Tesla say, it’s Ludicrous. I will admit it was fun, and very impressive. However I would be somewhat worried about giving many of our day to day drivers this kind of power. Many of them already struggle with the average cars they already have.

The Competition – Large Electric Sedan

So what does the Tesla Model S compete with? Many say it competes with everything, for the most part they are right. However it’s not all apples to apples, bit more like apples and oranges. The Tesla is an impressive car, but it’s not a luxury performance car. Yes it’s fast, but that’s just one aspect of performance. Is it luxurious when compared to equally priced models? Not really.

The Tesla comes off a bit cheap and lacking in plush features, so it’s hard to say where it really sits. And as it’s the only EV currently available on the market in this price bracket all we can do is show you what else you can get for that sort of money.

Brand/Model Engine Power/Torque 0-100km/h, seconds Seats Fuel, L/100km Boot Space, Litres Price Highest to Lowest
Porsche Panamera 4S 2.9L V6 Turbo 324kW / 550Nm 4.2 4 8.2 500 $275,300
Audi RS7 4.0L V8 TFSi 445kW / 700Nm 3.7 5 9.5 535 $224,900
Tesla Model S P100D 100kWh Battery / AWD N/A 2.7 5 N/A 894 $214,645
Jaguar XJR 575 5.0L V8 Supercharged 423kW / 700Nm 4.4 5 11.1 479 $199,900
BMW M5 4.4L V8 Twin Turbo 44kW / 750Nm 3.4 5 10.5 530 $199,900
Mercedes-AMG E 63 4.0L V8 Bi-Turbo 420kW / 750Nm 3.5 5 9.3 540 $199,900
Lexus GS F 5.0L V8 351kW / 530Nm 4.6 5 11.3 480 $169,900

The pros and cons

Pros Cons
  • The powertrain of the future
  • Impressive performance figures
  • Sleek exterior design
  • Clean interior design
  • Cool media screen
  • Forward-thinking technology
  • Extra boot in the front
  • Very quiet interior
  • Tight fit for tall drivers due to the sloping windscreen
  • Nothing really premium about the interior for the price
  • Rear passengers space cramped with a high floor
  • The early adopter price
  • Lots of options that are normally standard in this price range

What we think

Is the P100D the untamed unicorn that the internet hype has built? No, not really, and here is the hard truth why.

The car itself looks pretty good and has a clean interior design. The back seats are not that roomy, less so for tall people as you lose floor space from the batteries. And it lacked some basic features seen on the most basic of cars available in the market today, which is annoying when you have to live with it day to day

It also looks exactly the same, in every way, as the 75D which is $88,150 cheaper. The value and quality is really not visible for the price they are asking of $214,645. Not one person who sat in the P100D could believe its price tag. And the options push the price up again, many of which are standard on other vehicles in that price bracket.

Most people hang on to the fact that Tesla have the ability to outrun a supercar to 100km/h. Yeah sure that’s great, but how often would you actually use that feature in the day to day? It’s tech is super impressive, and its powertrain will definitely be a part of the future of automotive technology. But that’s kind of where the impressive stuff ends.

I am not hating on the brand. I fully believe that focusing on the tech was the intent of Tesla Motors founder, Elon Musk. His plan was not to take on the bigger established brands and push every last one of them out of the industry. No, his plan was to divert the course of automotive development. Which he has, with each and every Tesla model and the growing cry from consumers for more EV vehicles.

If this car was $100k cheaper it would probably be the go-to car for many people looking for a midsize or large sedan. This is my biggest issue with it. Yes the tech might be expensive, but if you label your car as high end luxury, it needs to stand side by side with what the rest of the market offers at that price. And right now, it only stands above in regards to its tech.

So what does this all mean? This car, right now, can only be justified by people with very deep pockets or the must have early adopters. And both of them would buy it just for the sake of having the hype built branded Tesla, and its performance figures. No one is buying these to have the latest luxury car, or to save the planet, and if they think they are, they should look at how battery material is mined.

For the rest of us, the P100D is still too far away. There are plenty of other vehicles out there for much less, if the goal is to drive a fully EV vehicle.

The tech is right on point, but the packaging lacks a lot in quality and value when compared to other products in that price range, it just doesn’t add up for me.

Rating – Chevron rating (3.5 out of 5)

2018 Tesla Model S P100D

Vehicle Type Large 4-Door EV Sedan
Starting Price $214,645 inc on-road costs
Tested Price $234,645 inc on-road costs
Engine 100 KWh Battery with Performance All-Wheel Drive
Power Kw / Torque Nm N/A
Transmission Single-speed 9.73:1 step-down transmission
0 – 100 kph, seconds 2.7
Spare Wheel None
Kerb Weight, Kg 2250
Length x Width x Height, mm 4980 x 1964 x 1440
Cargo Capacity, litres 150 – front boot

744 – seats up

1795 – seats folded

Fuel Tank, litres 0
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – Energy Consumption –  98 Wh/km

Real World Test – Energy Consumption –  203 Wh/km

Towing N/A
Turning circle 11.4m

Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+

Warranty 8 year, infinite kilometre battery and drive unit warranty

4 years 80,000 kilometre limited warranty

ANCAP Rating 5 Star


]]> 0
The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupé and Cabriolet arrives in New Zealand Fri, 27 Jul 2018 20:00:29 +0000 I may be driving a sub-$30K Suzuki Swift this week, but that doesn’t mean I can’t lust after the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet.

Not long ago we attended the New Zealand launch of the new S-Class, and were suitably impressed. You’ve got to hand it to Mercedes-Benz (MB); their German opposition bring out some incredibly technologies for cars, but MB can still astound with some of the tech they are developing.

Not all of it is safety-related, like the heated door armrests and centre console. Is this overkill? I’ve experienced the feeling of these two things, and while I initially thought it was a step too far, after trying out heated armrests and centre console, they’re a must-have from me.

So now, the S-Class Coupé and Cabriolet have arrived in New Zealand, with “an extensive list of standard new inclusions derived from the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Saloon and the flagship Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.”

So really, you’re buying a Maybach. That must justify it to your Significant Other, surely? If that doesn’t work, just remind them that Christmas is coming up real soon.

The Mercedes-Benz S 560 Coupé and Cabriolet will both be appointed with front Active Multicontour Seats, which use inflatable chambers to provide adjustable lateral and lumbar support, including a lumbar massage function and active lateral bolsters to support occupants during cornering. Energizing Comfort Control, which combines music, seat controls, temperature and fragrance to create pre-set ‘moods’ for occupants, is also fitted standard. A new steering wheel includes touch controls for all multimedia and instrument functions for the first time, in conjunction with a new widescreen display.

Other new features include wireless charging for mobile devices, ambient interior lighting featuring 64 different colours and 10 colour schemes, the sporty AMG Line package, 20-inch AMG alloy wheels, plus Traffic Sign Assist, a safety feature that combines navigation and camera data to display the prevailing speed limit and visually remind the driver if they exceed it.

In addition, occupants of the S 560 Cabriolet can enjoy the Warmth Comfort Package as standard, which includes heatable armrests and front centre console, and a heated steering wheel.

These new additions join a long list of standard inclusions on both models such as exclusive nappa leather upholstery with seat heating and cooling for front seat passengers, a quality Burmester sound system with 13 speakers and a total output of 590 watts, a digital TV tuner, the Comand Online system with a 12.3-inch multimedia display and full smartphone integration, Parktronic active parking assistance, Distronic active cruise control, power-closing doors, and an array of safety equipment including eight airbags, active blind spot and lane change assistance, active steering and braking assistance, and the Pre-Safe accident anticipatory protection system.

The S 560 Coupé is also fitted with the Magic Body Control suspension system including a curve inclination function, a fixed glass panoramic roof, and nappa leather upholstery. The S 560 Cabriolet gets Airscarf necklevel heating for front seat passengers, an electronic wind deflector, an electronically retractable multi-layer soft-top, and automatic rollover protection.

Both vehicles are fitted with a new 4.0-litre biturbo V8 making 345kW of power and 700Nm of torque in conjunction with a 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission.

The Mercedes-AMG S 63 Coupé and Cabriolet now add the AMG Driver’s Package, which lifts the governed top speed to 300km/h, and an AMG Performance steering wheel, while the S 63 Coupé replaces Magic Body Control with airmatic-based AMG Sports Suspension.

Other standard equipment includes AMG illuminated door sill panels in brushed stainless steel, 20-inch AMG 10-spoke forged wheels in titanium grey, an AMG high-performance composite braking system, an AMG sports exhaust, and red brake calipers.

A new 4.0-litre biturbo V8 makes 450kW and 900Nm via an AMG Speedshift MCT nine-speed automatic transmission.

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupé and Cabriolet range is now on sale.


S-Class Coupé range

Mercedes-Benz S 560 Coupé $257,600 MRRP

Mercedes-AMG S 63 Coupé $303,300 MRRP

S-Class Cabriolet range

Mercedes-Benz S 560 Cabriolet $276,100 MRRP

Mercedes-AMG S 63 Cabriolet $330,100 MRRP

]]> 0