DriveLife NZ's Enthusiast Driven Motoring Publication, Automotive News & Car Reviews Mon, 23 Apr 2018 00:59:53 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Todd Motors Group/Mitsubishi New Zealand Inaugural Heritage Day, April 15th 2018 Sun, 22 Apr 2018 20:00:14 +0000 Those New Zealanders around *cough* my age will have fond memories of Todd Motors. Their logo seemed to be everywhere, and they were a huge player in the New Zealand car industry, to the point of having 1,800 staff at their factory in Porirua, Wellington at its peak.

The company started in the early 1900s in Heriot, West Otago, in the South Island.

Heriot, West Otago

Then in 1987, John Todd, the  Managing Director of Todd Motors Group,  announced to New Zealand that they were selling 100% of the company to Mitsubishi Motors, with the new company called Mitsubishi Motors New Zealand (MMNZ).

The company certainly has gone from strength to strength, and now apparently there are more Mitsubishis sold to private individuals than any other brand. That’s a big claim to fame, when you take the rental car market out of the numbers.

After over 100 years in New Zealand via the Todd Motors brand or under MMNZ, it was decided it was high time to celebrate this achievement.

Neil O’Callaghan, convenor of the event and also MMNZ’s Technical Service Engineer, explained some of the background for the idea of the Heritage Day.

Dealership on Courtenay Place, Wellington

“The actual idea was from Roger White, who had worked for Todd Motors and then MMMZ for many decades. He had this thought, and it seemed like a great idea. It took me a week to come up with a name that would represent what we were trying to achieve, but we think Heritage Day says it all.”

But this was a first for MMNZ – so no one had really thought about what would happen. “We had a blank canvas,” says Neil, “and had no idea initially what we wanted to do for an inaugural event. We decided to start at the place where most of the action happened –Todd Park in Porirua. Then we’d go to Southward Car Museum as they have a long history in the area.”

While the organising was happening, all of a sudden a dealer unearthed some new old stock from under some shelving. So that meant it was time to have an auction to get rid of these parts from the 1950s, and also some other product donated by suppliers. The auction raised around $1500 for Wellington Free Ambulance.

Todd Park in Porirua, at one point employing 1,800 people

For this event, people travelled from wide and far once they knew what was happening.

“We’ve got our parts and service dealer from Russell McBride in Alexandra, he’s the furthest travelled. He drove a 1975 1850 Galant up for this event,” Neil told me.

There was also people from North of Auckland and Napier who came especially for the Heritage Day.

“There’s a YC Sigma here about 1978, that vehicle is a survivor, one owner from Oamaru,” says Neil. “The new owner who works at Mexted Motors was going to hot rod it, but the rest of the people at Mexted said ‘there’s no way you are going to hot rod that car’. That was good to hear. It’s pretty hard to find original cars from the 1970s or 1980s now.”

Part of this event included some family history from Mike Todd, and I managed to catch up with him after the event.

Mike Todd (left) with the 400,000th car assembled in New Zealand by Todd Motors – A Sigma GSR Turbo

Mike Todd

There’s no way anyone can say that Mike Todd could be considered simply a figurehead of the Todd Family. Mike is a true Car Guy. He has a small collection of 8 cars, including a 1972 ex-Rod Coppins E49 Valiant Charger that he brought along for the Heritage Day. He also owns a 1962 Sunbeam Alpine, and Mike restored both of these cars. His Charger and Alpine are both ex-Todd Motors franchise cars.

Mike was Executive Manager Marketing in 1987 at the time of handover to MMNZ, but resigned afterwards.

Drive Life chatted to Mike about the Todd Motors Group and Mitsubishi New Zealand.

Mike Todd with his E49 Valiant Charger he brought along to Heritage Day

What did you take from the Heritage Day?

Inside MMNZ, it intrigues me that there’s still such enthusiasm for the company and products, even though we don’t build cars here anymore. There’s such passion from the employees of MMNZ for the company, and they way they are treated there. Some of the people working there have been there a long, long time yet still get so much satisfaction from working for MMNZ. The organiser for the Heritage Day, Neil has been there over 40 years. It’s a good indication of a company doing it right by their employees.

I think it was obvious from the calibre of cars there today – and not just older British classics, but the number of older Mitsubishis – that there’s still passion for the Mitsubishi brand, and of course all those brands that the Todd Motor Group either imported or assembled in Petone and then Porirua.

So what does that mean for the future of MMNZ?

There’s some extremely exciting product that’s going to come from the Mitsubishi/Nissan/Renault merger. Time will tell, but there’s no doubt the whole landscape of car retailing in New Zealand, and the world, will be very different in a few decades.

Inside the Courtenay Place dealership

Heritage Day

After four terrible days of wind and rain, Heritage Day rolled around, and the sun was shining – and there was no wind at all. A little cold to start with for those in convertibles, but it was 100% one of those “can’t beat Wellington on a good day” sort of day.

As early as 830 in the morning, cars started to roll up to Todd Park in Porirua. There was a huge variation in brands and years, very much showing the history of Todd Motors Group and MMNZ.

I walked around, drooling over the 1973 GTO and then the 1991 GTO – both amazing cars for their day, plus the beautiful 1962 De Soto Diplomat, and so many other cars.

Starion & GTO – both extremely desirable cars

Funnily, I was talking to someone the other day that you never see a Mitsubishi Starion anymore, and then I see four, all at the Heritage Day. As an aside to this, Mike Todd tells me later he’s owned 3 Starions, including a wide body – naturally he regrets selling any of them. It was so good to see these four at the Heritage Day and looking great.

With over 100 cars on display, it was good to see that not only were there cars as good as they left the factory (sometimes better) but also some that were well used.

We all wandered into Todd Park for the auction, and also a talk from Mike Todd on the entire history of the Todd Family’s motoring interests, and it was bloody interesting stuff – complete with historical photos. This history wasn’t something that would be repeated any time soon, so it was a privilege to hear this from a Todd family member, rather than read about it in a book.

Immaculate Celeste on display inside Todd Park in Porirua, Wellington

After the formalities, each car did a slow cruise up to Southward Car Museum in Paraparaumu, for more drooling and some lunch – and also to take in the museum.

There wasn’t much more to the day, other than to hand out the award for People’s Choice. It was won by a certain 1965 Sunbeam Tiger owned by yours truly. It was well worth me going to this Heritage Day, and I do believe the value of my Tiger just increased. 😊

A great day, thanks to MMNZ, and hopefully not another 100 years before the next one.

Very rare Sunbeam Talbot Lotus

Droolworthy GTO at Todd Park

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1983 DeLorean DMC-12 – no going back Fri, 20 Apr 2018 21:00:30 +0000 I think it’s some sort of law, that when you are writing about a DeLorean, you have to mention a certain movie in the first paragraph. So – Back to the Future. There you go, it’s out of the way.

Mike Baucke and his wife Irene have owned a huge range of cars, always something a bit special; a Porsche 911 Targa, a Maserati BiTurbo coupe, a 1965 Ford Fairlane. So they were always keen on anything – European, American, German – they were an open book.

When they decided to buy ‘another’ unique car, they had some requirements. These included low manufacturing numbers, and especially a good story behind a car.

At the time, Mike and Irene were the owners/operators of The Surgery, a classic car restoration shop in Tawa in Wellington, and was doing some detailing work on this DeLorean.

“The owner mentioned he was looking to sell it, and it fit our criteria. Must have been the easiest sale ever.”

Their DeLorean is a 1983 model – last of the run, and according to Mike, “by the end of the three-year production run, they had ironed out most of the bugs”.

The DMC12 (its official model name) was only made from 1981-1983, when the company went bankrupt, in spectacular fashion. Those too young to remember won’t know that the owner of the company, John DeLorean, ended up being caught up sting (in a cocaine bust) to try and keep the company afloat. It didn’t work. He was charged, but was acquitted. But it was too late for the DeLorean company.

The car itself was called the DMC 12 because it was supposed to sell for US$12,000. It didn’t, by the way, in the end they sold for US$25,000. A slight difference.

Mike bought his car from a guy who owned it in the USA, and apparently the car had a lot of issues when he got it.

Luckily, there’s a company in Texas who is not just manufacturing parts, but are going to start producing entire cars. This meant parts are not a problem.

“Basically the previous owner went along to the parts company, and ticked lots of boxes for parts he wanted.” Mike has receipts from the previous owner for parts for a “substantial” amount for their car.

The previous owner bought the car when it was ten years old, then shipped it to New Zealand when he moved here. Mike and his wife have owned it for 9 months, with no mechanical issues so far.

One of those receipts is for a factory performance kit, which Mike thinks adds about 50hp to the car. It certainly seems to go well. I had visions of a slow, automatic DeLorean. It isn’t slow, it’s a manual – and it sounds great, thanks to the new factory performance exhaust system fitted by the previous owner.

I wasn’t the only one with this preconception of a DeLorean, says Mike.

“Lots of people, when they hear you have one, say things like ‘oh it must be a piece of shit’, but it’s not. It’s got a Lotus chassis, a Renault V6 motor and manual gearbox and the car was designed by the Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro – who incidentally never got paid.”

Standard output from the 2.9-litre V6 is 97kW (130hp). “Everything I’ve read about the car say they are a slug, but it really isn’t with the performance kit added.” Performance for standard cars when new wasn’t startling; 8.2 seconds to 100km/h for the manual and 10.2 for the auto. Still, that was 1983, so when you look at it that way, it was average – but perhaps not for a sports car that looked this fast.

Mike says people are often surprised it’s a left-hand drive car, but only 16 right-hand drive factory-authorised DeLoreans were ever produced.

There are 15” alloys wheels at the back, and 14” at the front. Apparently John DeLorean thought it would look more macho like that. The spare is a 14” front wheel. I expect you’d need to be very careful driving in the rain with the smaller spare on the rear.

“When they sold them initially, they were grossly overpriced so they made everything optional – right down to the radio. Our cars has upspec sway bars and suspension, as well as the factory lowering kit, so it sits a lot lower than those that don’t. It actually handles really well, after all it’s sitting on a Lotus Esprit chassis.”

He often takes the car across the Rimutaka Hill to the Wairarapa, and says he’s always surprised how well it handles. “Mind you,” he says, “it is built on a Lotus chassis and is very low.” How low? With the factory lowering kit, Mike’s DeLorean sits just 3/4 of an inch higher than a Ford GT40.

You would think being rear-engined, it would be a handful in the wet, and Mike has yet to drive it in the rain. He thinks it would feel like his 911 Targa, and likely he’s right. According to Mike, the board at DeLorean wanted the motor in the middle for better handling, but John DeLorean wanted the motor in the back so he could get his golf clubs in the car behind the seats. He won.

Mike hasn’t added any mods to the car, and other than replacing some of the rubbers, and doesn’t have any plans for modifying it. Some parts interchangeable from other makes, otherwise it’s ten days from the USA for any part he says.

It was obvious Mike just enjoys driving it, and of course talking to people who come up to him whenever he stops.

While we were having coffee and chatting, there was almost an endless flow of people driving past, seeing the car, then stopping and taking photos.

“People stop me everywhere, to take photos and ask questions. The most common question is ‘where is the flux capacitor?’”

That was interesting, as when we were taking photos, a guy in a van stops and wanders over – and without missing a beat, he asks where the flux capacitor is.

Original stainless steel cleaning kit that Mike got with his car

The car is like a magnet to certain ages Mike says, and it seems to be mid to late 20s. But he does get all sorts coming to talk about the car. It’s one of those fun cars that makes people smile. People will start a conversation at the drop of a hat he says.

With a total run of less than 9,000 cars built in Ireland, this is one rare car. No doubt Mike and Irene will have years more to enjoy it.

On January 27, 2016, DMC in Texas announced that it planned to build about 300–325 ‘new’ 1982 DMC-12 cars, each projected to cost just under US$100,000.

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2018 Lexus CT200F Sport – New Car Review Thu, 19 Apr 2018 00:00:34 +0000 I’ve always liked the look of the newer models of car that the CT200 is based on – they look sharp and modern.

When you add the Lexus treatment to the refreshed version of that car – it actually improves it. Futuristic looking even. But is it futuristic to drive?

And more importantly for me, it’s a hybrid – it was time to test the system out properly to see if it is really worthwhile. How much gas can I save driving a hybrid carefully?

The Range

There’s just two models in the Lexus CT200 range – the base model at $51,690 and the F Sport model at $62,690. Lexus New Zealand sent us the F Sport model to test.

Both are fitted with the same hybrid system as the Toyota Corolla, and both have the 1.8-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine as part of that hybrid setup. This includes a CVT transmission.

New to the 2018 CT200 is Lexus Safety System+, which includes pre-crash safety system, adaptive cruise control, auto high beams, lane departure alert, and vehicle sway warning.

The ‘base’ CT200 comes with standard equipment like a leather steering wheel, electronic brake force distribution, hill start assist, 17” alloys, rear spoiler, keyless entry and start, all windows auto auto up/down, auto wipers, DRLs, auto dimming outside mirrors (with heater, memory, reverse linked tilt, automatic power folding and puddle lamps), climate AC, 4.2” driver’s display, 10.3” central display, 10-speaker DVD/audio, and front and rear parking sensors.

The F Sport model then adds an alarm, alloy pedals, an 8-way electric driver’s seat with 3 memories, 4-way electric passenger’s seat, front seat heaters, some F Sport garnishing, sports tuned shock absorbers and springs, front and rear performance dampers, different alloys, 215/45 R17 Yokohama tyres, LED front fog lamps, LED headlights with auto levelling and headlight cleaners, and leather seats.

There’s no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay on either CT200 model.

There’s a range of colours you can pick for your CT200, and if you buy the F Sport model, you get to choose from a large range of interior colours too. Nine exterior colours are available, surprisingly only two greys, and then black, a couple of whites, red (Caliente), two blue hues and a stunning burnt orange called Lava (F Sport only).

First Impressions

Our test car, finished in Caliente with an Onyx roof, look stunning. Surprisingly, some people didn’t it, but they were firmly in the minority. In this shade of red, it’s quite the looker. Along with that black roof, it’s hard to walk past without taking a second look.

Hard to say if you would do that if it was finished in one of the whites or greys, but our test car looked amazing. Side-on, the wheels really help the car here; they are super-simple, but suit the overall design. A bit sporty but still elegant.

I must admit the CT200F makes me feel quite tall – it’s low down on the ground. It’s only 20mm lower than a hybrid Corolla, but it feels much lower than that.

The Inside

OMG – is that a pedal park brake? This felt so out of place in a high-tech, modern hybrid car, I thought I was dreaming. But I wasn’t – it’s a pedal alright, and is typical Lexus fare. So old school, it doesn’t line up with the rest of the car – but was the only thing that felt out of place.

The rest of the interior is very nicely done, helped along in our test car by the Chateau leather mixed with black on the seats, doors and console. It added a classy touch to the car, and all my passengers commented on just how great it looked. Lucky though for that Chateau leather, as the headlining and pillars are black, so it can be quite dark inside.

The tiny, sporty steering wheel feels great in your hands, with a small F Sport logo at the bottom of the wheel. Along with the racy wheel are the alloy pedals to keep you in a sporty frame of mind.

There’s a new, wider 10.3” central display in the CT200F, and it’s a delight to use. To control it there’s a joystick controller on the centre console, and just in front of it is a nicely padded wrist-rest, so using the joystick on the move isn’t a waste of time, with lots of bumping.

The display itself is crystal clear, and the menu system can be learnt in a few minutes.

There’s some ‘push and pop up’ seat heater controls on the centre console, and it’s completely variable from off to full, to help keep your butt warm.

There were more hard plastics that I could feel from the driver’s seat, on the console and doors especially. It didn’t feel in keeping with the Lexus badge, but they weren’t too obvious to see, but to touch they were.

It was good to see that CT200 has a CD player, as my wife often moans when a car doesn’t have one (i.e. most of them now). Audio quality was surprisingly good, with some excellent bass that can really vibrate the doors, if you want to. Happily, the audio stays on Bluetooth when you leave the car and come back, unlike some. This is how it should be.

Rear legroom is good, and according to my many passengers for the week I had the CT200, very comfortable too.

One feature many Lexus continue to have is the anti-slip mat in boot. It covers the entire boot area and instantly, nothing I put in there slid around. I even just chucked my laptop on the mat – normally a big no-no – and it didn’t move an inch. Such a simple thing, but so effective. Apparently it can be damaged a bit by big cases, so something to keep in mind.

The Drive

Jumping behind the wheel, the first thing I noticed was the tiny volume up/down and track up/down buttons on the steering wheel. After a week, I got used to them to the point where I didn’t have to look down, but they are miniature. Those with uh, chunky, fingers might find they have problems here.

The instrument display is nice and clear, but it was strange to see there is no digital speedo. With such emphasis on not going 1km/h over the limit, it’s almost mandatory now, but there are still cars out there without this – the CT200 included. Hopefully the next model will come with this.

I hit the motorway in the CT200F Sport, and noticed just how quiet it is inside. Wind and tyre noise are nicely subdued, even for a small car where it can be difficult to achieve this. It’s quite a serene car to drive. Helping this serenity along I guess is the hybrid system.

On the motorway, I noticed there’s no Blind Spot Monitoring, which felt like a surprising omission on a top-spec Lexus, even if it is the cheapest model in the range. There’s also no brake auto-hold, which we’ve come to expect on every new model now. It’s such a great safety feature, I was also surprised it wasn’t fitted.

Also, our test car’s adaptive cruise control wouldn’t work. Not the end of the world, and not something we see a lot of in a Lexus. I didn’t want to use it anyway, as I wanted the smoothest possible acceleration at any time, in an attempt to save gas. More on this soon.

I used the SatNav a few times during my week with the car. A trip to Kapiti in the CT200F, and driving on the ‘new’ Expressway, the SatNav showed me as being on farm land. I guess this needs updating. Bonus points though for the CT200 that the SatNav directions are shown right in front of driver in the instrument panel; it’s surprising how many manufacturers don’t do this.

I managed to get in a couple of longish trips in the car, and found the front seats to be extremely comfortable – soft but supportive. No complaints there at all.

The car can be a bit jittery over small bumps, but handles speed bumps with ease. It’s no limo ride but for a small car, it rides quite well on the whole.

We’ve all had a bit of a laugh when it comes to stated fuel economy. Manufacturers seem to have an almost unachievable goal when it comes to litres per hundred kilometres. I’ve lost count of how many cars I’ve tested, but I haven’t lost count of how many times I’ve actually exactly got the same ‘combined’ rating that a manufacturers says a car does: 1. Yes – one. One time only I’ve matched what they say a car should do – and one other time I got a better figure (Mazda MX-5 RF).

So, to the hybrid CT200F. We’ve tested hybrids before, and have never matched the stated rating. When Alan from Drive Life tested the Toyota Corolla hybrid in 2017, he got 5.2. Since the CT200F is based on this car, I might be struggling.

But this time would be different. I was determined to do whatever it took to hit the magic 4.1L/100km Lexus say the car should do. Bring it on.

To achieve this number, I left the AC off for the entire week, unless it was to clear the windscreen, and then it was off straight after that was done. If I was cold, I used the electric seat warmer. If it was hot and I was in town, I wound down a window. If it was hot and I was on the motorway, well I just put up with it. My passengers were not amused. But I was determined.

The Power zone on the Eco gauge was avoided like the plague – I kept that needle from swinging into the Power zone like my life depended on it. I also ran the CT200F in Eco mode for the whole week. Luckily, when you switch the drive mode to Eco, it says there even after turning the car off, so that was great. Was it slow? Oh yeah. But (just) bearably so, and at least I didn’t get tooted at (like I did in the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse in Eco mode). Remember this small car weighs in at 1845Kg.

I drove the car with the Drive Mode in B all the time I remembered to turn it on, to give it extra engine braking which equates to more charge into the batteries. This doesn’t stay on when you leave the car, so I had to remember to switch it to ‘B’ every time I started the car.

I made sure I anticipated the traffic as far ahead as I could, to make sure I could avoid touching that power killer, the brake. My week with the Lexus was a solid 50/50 mix of urban and open road, to the point where I’d place a bet on it.

So – did I achieve my target of 4.1L/100km? No. My average for the week was 4.9 over 350km. That’s still pretty good, but I’d love to know what I was doing wrong to not get to Lexus’ magical number. Since Alan got 5.2, I wasn’t that far off his score and yet I went to what I thought were great extremes to achieve maximum fuel efficiency. Does this mean that it’s unlikely anyone could ever get to 4.1L/100Km? Probably, but maybe if you lived in a completely flat town, you’d have a shot at it.

For the additional complexity and cost of the hybrid system, is it worth it? You are putting out less emissions, there’s no doubt about that. But the amount of time you can actually drive without the engine going isn’t as much as you might hope – I’m guessing at best 15%.

A Toyota Corolla 1.8 CVT has a combined rating of 6.1L/100km, so if you managed to achieve the stated number for the CT200, you’d be saving 2L/100km. Worth it? Your call on that one.

The Competition

Brand/Model Engine Power/Torque Fuel, L/100km Seats Boot space, litres (3rd row down where fitted) Towing capacity, Kg (unbraked/braked) Price – High to Low
Audi A3 e-Tron Sportback 4-cylinder, 1.4-litre turbo with hybrid system 110kW/250Nm 1.6 5 280 750/1400  $69,900
BMW 225XE Active Tourer 3-cylinder, 1.5-litre turbo with hybrid system 165kW/385Nm 2.1 5 n/a n/a $69,800
Lexus CT200 F Sport 4-cylinder 1.8-litre with hybrid system 100kW/142Nm 4.1 5 360 Not rated $62,690
Mini Cooper SE All4 Clubman 3-cylinder, 1.5-litre turbo with hybrid system 165kW/385Nm 2.3 5 405 n/a $59,990

The Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
  • Ride
  • General NVH
  • Central display
  • Sharp styling
  • No brake auto-hold
  • Pedal park brake doesn’t fit in with the tech
  • Perceived fuel economy
  • No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
  • Fairly expensive for the standard equipment list


What do we think of it?

Normally I can whip up this section with ease. Not so much with the CT200 F Sport.

It’s a nice ride, no doubt about that, and I loved the look of our test car in that colour.

But I really thought I’d get better fuel economy, after seven days of trying my hardest to.

And then there’s the cost; the F Sport is over $60K, which puts it among some tasty choices. Not just the cost, but missing safety items like Blind Spot Monitor and brake auto-hold at this cost is very surprising.

I had to think about the Lexus CT200 buyer; maybe the husband has a Lexus SUV, and his wife wants a Lexus too but hates the size of it; these are the ideal CT200 buyer. And she would probably be happy.

For me, it needs some more work on the whole packaging of the car.


2018 Lexus CT200 F Sport

Chevrons 3.5

Vehicle Type Medium-sized, 5-door hatchback
Starting Price $51,690
Price as Tested $62,690
Engine 1.8-litre, 4-cylinder DOHC petrol, hybrid power system
Power, Torque Combined power, 100kW


Transmission CVT
0-100km/h, seconds 10.9
Spare Wheel Space saver
Kerb Weight, Kg 1845
Length x Width x Height, mm 4355x1765x1455
Cargo Capacity, litres 360L
Fuel capacity, litres 45
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – combined – 4.1L/100km

Real World Test – combined – 4.9L/100km

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

Towing Capacity Not rated for towing
Turning circle, metres 10.5

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

Warranty 4 years, unlimited kilometres
ANCAP Safety Ratings 5 Star



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2018 Peugeot 5008 GT – New Car Review – Long Distance Mile Eater Mon, 16 Apr 2018 00:00:54 +0000 2018 sees the launch of the refreshed Peugeot 5008. A bit of a quiet achiever compared to others in the mid-size, Euro SUV segment, the 2018 5008 has a lot going for it, including 7 seats – with the 3rd row removable.

Peugeot sent us a top-spec GT (diesel) model to review.

This just happened to coincide with a trip over Easter to the South Island. It’s been a while since we’ve had a Peugeot SUV – the last was the 2017 2008, and I really enjoyed that car. I was desperately hoping the 5008 would be just as good, if not better.

A decent road trip was going to bring out the best – and worst – in the 5008.

The Range

There’s just two models in the 5008 range – the base $49,990 Allure, and the top-spec $59,990 GT. The Allure is petrol only, and the GT is diesel only. Interesting that Peugeot call it a GT but it’s diesel-powered.

The Allure is powered by a 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol motor, putting out 121kW of power and 240Nm of torque. The GT has the 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder BlueHDI turbo diesel, making 133kW of power and a decent 400Nm of torque, at a nice and low 2,000rpm.

Both models are fitted with a 6-speed automatic and meet Euro 6.1 emissions standards, and are front-wheel drive only.

At $49,990, even the Allure has a decent amount of standard features. For that money you get seven seats, trailer stability control, an electric park brake and hill start assist, Advanced Driver Detection Alert, active blind spot detection, active lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, a 180-degree rear-view camera, Grip Control (which includes Hill Descent Control, selectable terrain modes and mud/snow tyres), the Peugeot iCockpit (which includes a 12.3” high definition heads-up instrument panel, 8” touchscreen media system, satin chrome toggle switches and leather steering wheel).

SatNav is also standard, as is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, dual-zone climate-control AC, keyless entry and start, all windows auto up/down, wireless cellphone charging, a hands-free electric tailgate, tray tables for 2nd row seats, 2nd row window blinds, auto wipers and headlights, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, LED DRLs, auto high-beam assist, heated and electric folding rear-view mirrors, LED interior lighting, Blue Mood lighting pack, LED taillights, 18” alloys, and a 6-speaker premium stereo unit. For $50K, that’s some pretty good kit.

Moving to the GT model – other than the different engine – you get added to that list the Safety Pack (adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, advanced emergency braking, Park Assist, 360-degree camera), Alcantara upholstery, an 8-way electric driver’s seat with 2 memory settings, adjustable cushion length for both front seats, heated front seats, height adjustable passenger seat, and engine start/stop function. The iCockpit system in the GT moves up to ‘Amplify’ which means you can adjust the interior ambience and disperse fragrance through the cabin (more on this later). It also has an amplification of the engine sounds “to stimulate the on-board experience”.

The 5008 GT also comes with a massaging seat for the driver, with 5 different modes to choose from: Claw, Wave, Stretch, Lumbar, Shoulders – and you can adjust the level of the massage with 4 different levels. Would I be using this on the trip? Hell yes!

The GT also adds LED fog lights with cornering function, LED sequential front indicators, ‘Lion Spotlight’ in the wing mirrors (projected down), Alcantara instrument panel and door panel decoration, and 19” alloys. For the additional $10K over the Allure, the GT seems like the one to get.

Grip Control is optional on GT ($500) which reduces the wheels down to the 18” of the Allure.

You can pay $1199 for a 3-year/60,000km, Peugeot Assured Service Plan for either model.

First Impressions

When I went to pick up the 5008, my heart sank. There were five 5008 models sitting there, 4 of them grey or silver (a.k.a metallic grey).

The 5008 is a nicely designed SUV – it’s something different, funky and French – and grey. I understand that in New Zealand, grey and silver cars sell, but it doesn’t do the design of the car justice.

Anyway – yes it does look good, and certainly reminds me of the Peugeot 2008 and the 3008 – the front seems identical, just bigger. Nicely proportioned too, and the lashings of brightwork on the front, sides and rear of the car make it stand out from the crowd.

The front and rear are really where it’s at with the 5008 – the front, while looking so similar to the 2008 and 3008, looks fantastic. Modern, with some nice angles without going overboard into ‘too much’ territory. The way the LED DRLs follow the headlights down is very stylish. The rear too is very nicely done, those taillights set the whole rear of the car off.

Your overall sense of the 5008 is the size – this is not a tall, ungainly SUV, and yet it has seven seats. It almost looks low and sporty in the flesh.

Nelson Lakes

The Inside

Opening the door of the 5008, you see two things; a stylish, modern looking interior with lashes of suede on the dash and doors, and the second thing you notice is how dark it is in there. With no panoramic sunroof and black headlining/seats/dash, it’s a pretty dark interior.

Lightening it up a little are those pieces of Alcantara suede here and there – all my passengers commented on this, and all had a feel. At first it seems like it’s a little strange, but then you realise it looks (and feels) good. The suede on the doors is lit up at night with a nice blue hue, and looks very cool. It certainly makes the interior feel classy and expensive.

You do get some things that you don’t see on other SUVs, like the folding front passenger’s seat, allowing you to carry your wood back from the hardware store, up to 3.2 metres long. That’s a handy feature for some people.

Another handy feature is the removable 3rd row of seats. While it doesn’t give you a flat floor if you remove them, with the snap of a couple of levers, you can remove the 3rd row to give you lots more storage space – over 300 litres more in fact.

Centre-top of the dash is the 8” touchscreen, and this works perfectly well as far as the menus go. It’s a crisp, clear display too. You can select what you want (e.g. phone, SatNav, AC etc) using one of the ‘Satin Chrome Toggle Switches’ on the lower part of the dash. I must admit, these switches have a great tactile feel to them. You can feel the coolness of the actual steel toggles as you touch them. Nice.

One of the smaller toggle switches is to stimulate one of two sensual experiences while driving. Selecting this option allows you to pick options of ‘Boost’, or ‘Relax’, which will change things like sight, hearing, touch and smell. Changes to ‘sight’ means the interior lighting and display screens will change, while ‘hearing’ changes acoustic profiles for the audio system. Touch automatically turns on the massaging seat for the driver, while smell makes changes to the fragrance which is sent into the cabin.

Yes, you read it right. There’s some sort of fragrance sachets in the glovebox, and you can pick from one of three options, as well as adjusting the intensity. Pick from Harmony Wood, Cosmic Cuir, or Aerodrive. In all honesty, I couldn’t tell one fragrance from another for the whole trip away, even if I put the dispenser system on high. Those with more sensitive noses might pick up the differences.

A shame though that Peugeot haven’t bothered with any sort of Home Screen for the display. You pick your feature, and that’s it. I like it when there’s an overall home page to show you different things on the one screen, especially one this wide.

On this road trip, I left my phone charger behind for the first time, and only used the 5008’s Qi wireless charging. Sure, it’s a slow charger but being able to leave your phone charging without plugging it in is one handy (and lazy) feature.

Like we first saw in the 2008, the 5008 has Peugeot’s Heads Up instrument panel. Not a true heads-up display, Peugeot has taken a more simple approach of having the instrument panel above the steering wheel. This means the steering wheel is quite small, but it feels superb. Flat-bottomed, and it also has a flat top to clear the instruments. Does this approach for a heads-up panel work? Pretty much. Your eyes naturally fall just below the road to the speedo, as we all know you only need to watch your speed to be safe – or so we are told. It is an interesting answer to the problem – instead of the added cost and complexity of a heads-up display, just move the instruments up.

The instrument panel itself if a high-definition unit, 12.3” wide and customisable to a certain point. It is extremely clear and crisp. There are five different modes to choose from here: Dials, Minimal, Driving, Navigation and Personal, and you can pick from two colours; blue or copper.

For the Dials setting, as you would expect it’s an analogue rev counter and speedo, but you still get a digital speed readout with it. On the geeky side of things, when you switch from one of the other display types to Dials, they come up with a cool animation sequence. Weirdly, when you have the dash on Dials, the rev counter spins anti-clockwise. It took me a minute to see what was different. It still works, but it does look strange.

Minimal is also a good option. You get a big, fat digital speed readout, and little else. This would be great for a learner driver. Navigation mode almost takes over the whole display, giving you a wide and clear view of the roads and turns ahead, as well as the speedo readout of course.

Driving mode shows you the car in front, and how close you are, along with some other driving info, while Personal is programmable to show what you want.

‘Minimal’ instrument display

The Drive

Day One: Wellington to Hanmer Springs

It had been a while since we’d been on the ferry and I found out they now have an R18 area. Not that sort of R18 area, but one where no one under 18 is allowed, there’s comfy seats for all and ‘free’ food and drinks included in the cost. Sold!

With the crossing over and done with, it was time to hit the open road with the 5008. I had to remind myself this was the diesel model. Sure, it had the punchy, low-down torque of a diesel, but this BlueHDI engine is extremely quiet.

This is a time when adaptive cruise control comes into its own – and the 5008 GT does it perfectly. The only problem I struck here is that the cruise control is on a stalk. I have yet to find someone who prefers the stalk over having this on the steering wheel. Just after I picked the 5008 up, I hit the motorway and wanted to use the adaptive cruise control, but for the life of me could not see what the buttons did as these are completely hidden by the steering wheel spoke. It felt dangerous, so I waited until I stopped to crane my neck around to see what the controls on the stalk were. I got more used to it over the course of the trip, but still annoying when you compare the stalk to buttons on the front of the steering wheel. Did I get used to it over 2,500km of driving? Yes. Do I like the stalk now? No.

Not the end of the world though, and the miles passed by quickly. Stopping in Blenheim to grab a couple of coffees to go, I parked next to a Subaru Outback. Either the 5008 is small for a 7-seat SUV, or the Outback is huge – and it’s only a 5-seater. They were almost identical in length and height, even though the 5008 is FWD only.

Heading inland towards Hanmer Springs gave me a change to test out the handling for the car. It impressed me – and remember this is a front wheel-drive SUV, no fancy AWD systems helping here. It gripped, handled and rode very well. In fact the ride is a stand-out feature of the 5008. But the handling impresses too, I pushed the car harder and harder (where it was safe to) and it took it all in its stride. It is very much a slow in/fast out car. If you take the corner wrong you will get body roll and understeer, but get it all right and you are rewarded with a fun drive – for an SUV.

There’s just two driving modes for the 5008; Normal and Sport. On that twisty road, I tried out Sport mode. The reality is with a decent diesel engine with 400Nm of torque at just 2,00rpm, you are better off in Normal mode so the engine makes the most of the torque out of the corners, rather than holding the gears longer.

We pulled into Hanmer Springs later in the afternoon (and straight to the famous pools of course!), and feeling pretty refreshed. I’m not sure if it was the air freshener, or the massaging seat. For me it was the seat – it really did make a difference to our day’s drive.

Day Two: Hanmer Springs to Lake Tekapo

Today we would head down the coast on Highway 1 via Christchurch, then head inland at Ashburton. The only problem with this plan was that this was Easter – everyone else had the same idea. At one point, we were either crawling or were stopped, for 50 minutes. So boring.

But it did give me a chance to play with some of the 5008’s features. I worked out how to program in my own settings for the ‘Personal’ option for the instruments, so picked rev counter for the right display and a ‘dynamic display’ for the left one. The dynamic display showed me the power, torque and boost the engine was putting out at any time – cool. But it didn’t seem to go, until I worked out the car had to be in Sport mode for this to work. Bummer.

One other thing that was missing from the 5008 that really stuck out in stop/start traffic was the lack of brake auto-hold. The 5008 has an electric park brake, but no auto-hold function, so it was foot on brake every time the traffic stopped. I did use the adaptive cruise at times, and this would bring the car to a stop and hold it there, but once the traffic moved, the adaptive cruise wouldn’t work unless you were doing 30km/h. So it was foot on brake each time we moved. A bit painful.

Handy flip-down trays for the kids

The other thing that needs improving is the engine auto-off feature. For a start, and this isn’t specific to Peugeot, although the 5008 does this same thing. The issue is when you stop, and the engine auto-off kicks in. That’s fine. But then if you are stopped for a while (e.g. traffic jam) and put the park brake on, as soon as you lift your foot from the park brake, the engine starts again thinking you are moving off. It’s frustrating as the engine should just stay off until you hit the gas pedal. If you make sure you slip the car into neutral, then foot off the brake, it won’t start – which is good. But it means when you move you have to remember to stick it in Drive again.

We eventually made it to Christchurch, and headed straight for lunch at the Route 66 Diner in the centre of town. Some might remember we love to road trip in the US, so after seeing this place advertised decided it was a must-see place. We were impressed – endless coffee and very much an American menu. The place was packed too, and we had to take seats at the counter since every table was full. Well worth a visit.

Lunch done, we drove into the centre and parked up – my wife had not seen central Christchurch since the earthquake. It was great to see so much construction going on, but sad too to see how much is still left to do. Sobering.

That leather steering wheel is tiny, and feels great. I did find a few issues here though. The track/station change thumbwheel is on the right, while the volume up/down buttons are on the left side of the wheel. I lost count of the times I hit the track change thumb wheel, instead of the display change thumbwheel which is on the left – just above the volume up/down buttons. I thought this might be down to the whole left-hand drive/euro car thing, but if the steering wheel was on the other side, they would still be in the wrong position. I guess you’d get used to them being back-to-front after a while.

We cruised into Lake Tekapo to see it had changed quite a bit since we were last here – very commercial now, and like a mini-Queenstown or Wanaka. The place was packed – we had to keep reminding ourselves this was Easter, after all – but the evening was stunning. No wind, no clouds and a superb view of the lake. We contemplated heading down to the Church of the Good Shepherd for obligatory photos, but could see the car park was full to overflowing. We’d head down first thing in the morning instead, and beat the crowds.

Day 3: Lake Tekapo/Fairlie/Lake Pukaki

Can I just say that for us, ‘first thing’ means before 8am. We actually managed to get down to the church before 8, and already the crowds were building. Still, it was better than any other time of the day.

After breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road to go and pat Alpacas in Fairlie, a 30-minute drive west (not my idea).

Again, the 5008 impressed. I can’t get over how quiet that diesel motor is. In my notes, I wrote ‘imperceptible at speed’. If you are at almost any steady speed, you can’t hear this engine.

It was time for diesel, so we decided to gas up in Fairlie, our first of the trip. We’d done 760km so far and had averaged 6.2L/100km. In fact this would end up being our overall fuel consumption for the whole trip. Peugeot’s combined rating is 4.8L/100km so we were a bit off that, even though most of our travel had been on the open road. Still, this is less than the 7L/100km I got out of the little three-cylinder, 1.2-litre, petrol 2008.

First fuel-up in Fairlie

We grabbed coffee and donuts at the ever-popular Fairlie Bakery (check it out when you are passing through – great food!) and then headed back towards Lake Tekapo, stopping on the way in Kimbell, to check out an art gallery there. We aren’t particularly arty people, but after seeing some of the local artist’s work in the café, decided it was worth a stop. We didn’t see any prices – a good indication they were above our budget – but were amazed by the stunning landscapes, that we thought were photographs, but were oil paintings.

We drove through Lake Tekapo, and headed up the road to the Mt John Observatory and past it, to get better (less tourist-populated) views of the lake. It was worth it – it’s a reminder that the South Island has some stunning landscapes.

After yet more photos, we headed east and made it as far as Lake Pukaki for more coffee and photos.

That done, it was back to the hotel for a break, and wait for our shuttle to get us for the Mt John Observatory tours. We were told to dress up warm for this, and luckily we did. A slow crawl in a bus up to the top of Mt John meant much cooler temperatures for our night’s viewing. If you are stopping in Lake Tekapo, the observatory tour is well worth the money. Hint: If you have an SLR camera, take it. You will understand if you do the tour (but I can’t say why, here).

Lake Tekapo

Day 4: Lake Tekapo to Greymouth

Another late start, but what the hell. We hit the road to Greymouth at 1030.

Again we used the SatNav to get us places, and it worked almost flawlessly. Sometimes it did try and tell us we were in Australia and needed to be told we weren’t, but that only happened a few times. A shame though that the speed limit for the road you are on isn’t shown on either display, that would have been very handy. Otherwise using the Navigation setting of the instrument panel was a great way to see where the next turn was, and how far – as well as the digital speedo. I probably used the Navigation setting more than any other.

First stop for the day was the small town of Geraldine, where my wife had been ‘told’ to go to the Talbot Cheese factory shop, and the Barkers factory shop. I had full intentions of just eating the freebie samples in the cheese shop, but honestly they were that good and the prices surprisingly low, that we ended up walking out with armfuls of cheese.

Barkers too was excellent – great prices and a huge range of jams, spreads, and that sort of stuff. More armfuls leaving there too!

We kept cruising up towards Greymouth, with stops on the way for photos. We pulled over at the Rakaia Gorge for a few pics, and when leaving had to wait while some tourists decided they would park (yes, park), on the one-lane bridge to take photos. Let’s just say they weren’t very popular.

Today I reflected on the 6-speed auto of the 5008 as we headed over Arthur’s Pass. It’s a perfect gearbox, and reminded me of the BMW X3 motor/trans combo we recently tested. There are paddle shifters of course, and it was simple to use these for engine braking when heading down some of the steeper slopes. You can also switch the trans to manual mode by pressing the M button on the shifter. It’s not a DSG unit so is so much smoother than some of the other gearboxes out there, like the Skoda Kodiaq. This gearbox is perfect.

More miles driven, and time to head Arthur’s Pass. The Otira Viaduct is as impressive as ever, and we stopped just before it in the rest area to take a look – where there were a bunch of Kea, waiting to eat up some cars.

Otira Viaduct

That road though…a brilliant drive in the 5008.

We stopped in Arthur’s Pass for a coffee/toilet break, and I parked next to a Toyota Highlander, which made the 5008 seem like a toy in size. I think the 5008 has just as much second row legroom as the Toyota, and is a better drive.

We got stuck in some stop/go roadworks for a while, so more time to look around the cabin. Peugeot have really taking a fighter cockpit type of approach with the interior. With a very high centre console and that fighter-plane design shifter, it’s something different – and refreshing. There’s some piano black here and there (including the steering wheel), and those real metal toggle switches really give you the sense of being in a cockpit.

We made it to Greymouth in the late afternoon – tomorrow sees our last day of driving, to Picton and the ferry home.

Day 5: Greymouth to Picton

One of my favourite roads is the coast road from Greymouth to Westport. While my wife wasn’t too impressed (she let me know this), I really pushed the 5008 along where I could. Hard to believe this is a front-wheel drive SUV. It handles so well, and grips with it. Again, that diesel engine with all that low-down torque…awesome for pushing you out of a corner to keep body roll in check. Loved it. Brakes too are excellent, with good feel and modulation. Steering feel is above average.

That’s not to say it’s a fast car; it’s 0-100km/h time is 10.2 seconds, which is fairly slow by today’s standards. It doesn’t feel slow at all, and the midrange acceleration is excellent – this is where the 5008 shines. Passing people or gunning it out of a corner, the 5008 gives you a good push in your back while it accelerates away.

There is tyre noise when the car hits coarse ship seal though, and I noticed this every day. I’d be looking at something different than the Continental ContiSportContact tyres the car comes with, at the first change.

Today I was also reminded of one annoyance from the car’s audio system. The quality is very good, bordering on great, but it reverts to radio when you get out of the car. To get it back on to Bluetooth, you have to select Bluetooth again as a source. Drives all us car testers a bit crazy.

The Competition

All cars in our comparison chart are 7-seaters.

Brand/Model Engine Power/Torque Fuel, L/100km Boot space, litres (3rd row down where fitted) Towing capacity, Kg (unbraked/brakes) Price – High to Low
VW Tiguan Allspace BiTDI R-Line 4MOTION AWD 2.0-litre turbo diesel 176kW/500Nm 6.5 700 750/2500 $76,990
Toyota Fortuner Limited AWD 2.8-litre turbo diesel 130kW/420Nm 8.6  1059 750/2800 $68,990
Mazda CX-9 Limited AWD 2.5-litre turbo diesel 170kW/420Nm 8.8 810 750/2000 $64,995
Peugeot 5008 GT FWD 2.0-litre turbo diesel 133kW/400Nm 4.8 952 750/1500 $59,990
Kia Sorento Premium AWD 2.2-litre turbo diesel 147kW/441Nm 6.5 605 750/2000 $59,990
Skoda Kodiaq TDI Style AWD 2.0-litre turbo diesel 140kW/400Nm 5.7 630 n-a/2000 $58,290
Mitsubishi Outlander VRX AWD 2.3-litre turbo diesel 112kW/366Nm 6.2 477 750/2000 $56,990

The Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
  • Great engine/gearbox combo
  • Size of car/interior space comparison
  • Handling
  • Comfort
  • Design
  • Lack of engine noise
  • Ride quality
  • Heads Up instrument panel
  • Removable third row
  • No brake auto-hold
  • Tyre noise
  • No AWD option
  • Some ergonomics
  • Audio reverts to radio

What do we think of it?

The 5008 didn’t let me down. There were some things I didn’t like, but in reality – I didn’t really care. For me, it’s all about the driving experience, and this is where the 5008 GT shines. It’s a great driver’s car, and yet it can take seven people, has oodles of room, and is well priced.

But a buyer is going to ask – is it a Kodiaq beater? The top-range diesel Kodiaq is slightly less than the 5008 GT, and has AWD. It feels a much bigger car to drive than the 5008, but isn’t as refined with that DSG auto gearbox. Tough call – but if I was in the market and was looking at the Kodiaq, I’d certainly be test driving the 5008 GT before making my mind up.

In writing this review, I asked myself: If I was to do the same 2,000km trip again, would I happily take the 5008 GT?

In a heartbeat, yes.

drivelife car review chevrons four and half




4.5 Chevrons

2018 Peugeot 5008 GT

Vehicle Type Midsize AWD 7-seat 5-door SUV
Starting Price $49,990
Price as Tested $59,990
Engine 2.0-litre BlueHDI diesel, 4-cylinder
Power, Torque 133kW/400Nm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
0-100km/h, seconds 10.2
Spare Wheel Flat tyre repair kit only
Kerb Weight, Kg 1540
Length x Width x Height, mm 4641x1844x1646
Cargo Capacity, litres 952/2150 (3rd row removed)
Fuel capacity, litres 53
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – combined – 4.8L / 100km

Real World Test – combined – 6.2L / 100km

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

Towing Capacity 750kg unbraked

1500 kg braked

Turning circle, metres 11.2

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

Warranty 3 years, 100,000km

3 years Roadside Assist

ANCAP Safety Ratings 5 Star


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2018 Skoda Karoq Launch Fri, 13 Apr 2018 05:00:50 +0000 With the mid-size SUV market segment seemingly flooded, it would be hard for any manufacturer to launch an all-new model.

Skoda has had a very good run in New Zealand lately, especially with the Kodiaq SUV receiving the Car of The Year award in 2017.

Can Skoda launch a new mid-size SUV in a market segment that has so much choice?

Skoda New Zealand sent us along to the launch in Auckland in April.

Apparently 72% of Kodiaq buyers are new to Skoda – so that’s buyers who would otherwise look at ‘other’ brands coming to them. They are certainly hoping for a repeat with the Karoq, stealing buyers from other brands like Mazda and Holden.

Karoq Details

Skoda New Zealand says the primary target market for the Karoq is active young families, 35-45 years old with children 0-5 years old. The secondary market is active empty nesters, households 55-69 years old with adult children.

For those targets, for a start there’s just two models in the New Zealand line-up; the Ambition+ and Style. For both models you can add the Plus Pack, which includes Varioflex seating, a leather sport steering wheel, gearshift paddles and steel pedals at a cost of $2500.

Varioflex seating was last seen in the Yeti, and means that the second row of seats folds up or flat and is also sliding. With the second row folded up against the front seats, you get a very reasonable 1605 litres of space. With the Varioflex seat option, it also means you can remove each individual rear seat, and if you take them both out, this means a capacity of 1810 litres. To put that in perspective, the Kodiaq with the second and third row down is just over 2000 litres.

You can also remove just the centre seat and then slide the other two a little closer together, meaning more elbow room on each side for each of those two passengers.

The Varioflex option can be ordered separately for $1750.

Since the Karoq effectively replaces the Yeti, it’s similar in size, but is longer, wider, has a longer wheelbase, has slightly lower ground clearance and has a bigger boot.

Each model of Karoq has some good standard assistance systems, including parking sensors, a reversing camera, cruise control with limiter (adaptive cruise on the Style), front collision assist, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.

Connectivity includes support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on all models. There’s also the new Skoda OneApp, which allows the users to connect to the car and view info on driving, fuel cost, fuel efficiency, engine output, engine temperatures as well as other information.

There’s the usual Skoda ‘Simply Clever’ features, like the cargo cover in the boot that is attached to the tailgate, an umbrella under front seat, and the jumbo centre storage box which can be configured in multiple ways.

Engines are a mix of petrol and diesel. There’s the all-new 1.5-litre, four-cylinder turbo petrol motor putting out 110kW of power and an excellent 250Nm of torque. The Karoq is the first car to use this new engine, which is available in both the Ambition+ and Style models.

This new engine has APS, or Air Plasma Spray technology, and also has Active Cylinder Shutoff tech. The combined fuel rating for this 1.5 TSI motor is 5.6l/100km. It also means that the Karoq can get from 0-100km/h in 8.6 seconds, when its competitors are over 10 seconds.

You can option the Style with the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel motor, which also puts out 110kW but gets 340Nm of torque. This motor is only available with 4WD.

Both engines are fitted with a 7-speed DSG gearbox.

The Ambition+ with the TSI petrol engine retails at $38,990, the STYLE TSI is $42,990 and the diesel-engined Style TDI 4X4 is $48,490 Skoda New Zealand expects the Style TSI to be the biggest seller.

The Karoq has a 5 Star ANCAP rating – as do all Skoda models in New Zealand.

Drive Time

Enough talk – time to get behind the wheel. My passenger and I grabbed a 1.5-litre Style in Quartz Grey Metallic, and hit the road to Kumeu. I drove first, and can confirm this 1.5 motor is a gem. Quiet, torquey, smooth – very smooth. I prefer a DSG gearbox over a CVT any day of the week, but did notice that normal shunting that occur with DSG gearboxes when you travel at low speeds around town. On the motorway, the Karoq is a pleasure to drive, with good visibility out at all angles.

It really does feel like a smaller Kodiaq, and is all the better for that.

There was almost no wind noise, and general NVH seemed excellent. Sometimes that’s hard to achieve in a smaller car.

We switched places at the end of the motorway, and I got a good look around the cabin. Surprisingly, there’s lots more hard plastics than I expected to see, especially on the doors. The whole centre console is a hard plastic. They don’t feel cheap, but there’s very little padding or other materials used.

The TSI we were in didn’t have the $2500 optional panoramic sunroof, but still felt quite light inside, no doubt helped by the beige headlining and pillars.

I had a play around with the new widescreen display, which by the way has amazing clarity. I’m not sure of the resolution but it looks superb. SatNav is standard on the Style models, and the display has changed from other Skodas so you can now select your options from a carousel-type system, or if you prefer switch it back to the ‘old’ grid system.

We had lunch at Huntington Lodge in Waimauku, and then hit the road back to the airport.

This time we drove a 4×4 Style with the diesel engine. Oh I love the torque of this motor. Don’t get me wrong, that 1.5 has plenty but the diesel is dreamy. Punch it out of a bend and it gets up and goes. I managed to get on a few twisty roads, and the AWD system seemed to make the car sit better and handle better too. Still – let’s wait until we get one for a week to test before claiming too much.

This car also had the optional panoramic sunroof with electric blind, and if I was buying a Karoq, it would be hard to pass this option up. It really lets so much more natural light into the cabin.

All too soon, we were at the airport.


So, has the Karoq got what it takes to take on the Tucson, CX-5, ASX, Eclipse Cross, Equinox, Escape, H6, CR-V, Sportage, Qashqai, 3008, Forester, RAV4, and others?

No solid answers yet, but initial impressions are good. If it can be as good as the Kodiaq, it will be a contender to watch for.


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2018 Hyundai Kona Elite – Car Review – Intrepid Adventures Thu, 12 Apr 2018 00:00:52 +0000 The Kona is Hyundai’s all-new crossover SUV, and you’ve probably seen the ads saying it’s aimed at a group of people who they call “The Intrepids” who like to go on weekend adventures, and value experiences over possessions, but still want a new SUV to get there.

Recently I spent a week each with two different models of Kona to see where they took me.

The Range

There are currently four specs available in the Kona, starting with the 2.0 2WD at $31,990. This is powered by a 110kW 180Nm four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. Standard spec includes ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, ESC and traction control, stability management, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision alert, lane keep assist, driver attention warning, 6 airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners, auto lights, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, electric folding heated mirrors, manual aircon, half leather seats, and 17” alloys.

Move up to the 2.0 2WD Elite for an extra $5k and you add auto high beams, auto dimming rear-view mirror, auto wipers, front parking sensors, LED head and tail lights, solar glass, privacy glass, full leather, 10-way electric driver’s seat and 6-way electric passenger seat, wireless phone charging, heads-up display, keyless entry and start, climate control, auto windscreen defog and 4.2” colour driver info display, and 18” alloys.

Next is the 1.6t AWD at $36,990 with a 1.6-litre turbocharged GDI 4-cylinder motor producing 130kW and 265Nm, driving all four wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Other than the drivetrain the spec is similar to the above, with the Elite costing $41,990.

The range of colours for the Kona is excellent, taking a departure from the usual greys to include Tangerine Comet, Acid Yellow, Pulse Red, Blue Lagoon and Ceramic Blue. For the less intrepid there’s Lake Silver, Dark Knight (metallic grey), Chalk White and Phantom Black.  

First Impressions

I have to admit I’m not normally a fan of crossover SUVs, but in this case I’ll make an exception. I think the Kona is a great-looking car from all angles. I like the modern-style slim headlights with larger fogs underneath. I like the way they’ve carried this over to a similar design at the rear. Even the chunky grey plastic wheel arches suit it well, and I normally hate those. The 18” wheels look great, and I like the black roof and pillars, which contrast with the body and give it a different look to other cars in this class. And the colour options are excellent. As you’ll know, we like cars to be an actual colour here at Drive Life, and Hyundai have gone all-out, especially with the Acid Yellow on our 2.0l test car.

There aren’t many Konas on the road yet in New Zealand, so I had a lot of people walk up to ask me about it, especially in the yellow car. No-one I met had a bad thing to say about the looks, or even the colour. I expected the acid yellow to be a love/hate thing but I only met people who loved it.

The Inside

I have to admit the inside of the Kona is less exciting than the outside. Hyundai have kept things pretty simple here, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Apart from the light-coloured headlining, everything is very grey. There are some silver highlights on the dash which help a bit, but they don’t stand out much. The trim in general feels pretty solid but there are some plasticky bits that don’t give quite as much confidence.

The seats are clad in dark grey leather, perforated in the centre, and they are very comfortable. Supportive enough, but not too firm. They’re also three-stage heated for those cold mornings. The Elite gives you a 10-way adjustable driver’s seat (6-way electric for the passenger) so it’s easy to find the best driving position.

The leather-clad steering wheel adjusts in four directions, and has nicely shaped grippy bits at 9 and 3 where your hands sit. Phone and audio control buttons are on one side, cruise control on the other, and they’re laid out well so they’re easy to use.

The instruments are in the familiar style of two large analogue dials for rev counter and speedo with a 4.2” colour central display for trip computer, digital speedo etc. This all lights up in a soothing cool blue colour at night. In the Elite the digital speedo is pretty redundant as there’s a heads-up display which shows road speed as well as blind-spot and proximity warnings.

The central 7” touch screen is mounted high, and like several other manufacturers Hyundai have gone for the tacked-on look. The main functions have physical buttons and knobs for quick access, which I like. The screen is easy to navigate for various functions and settings, and gives a clear image for the reversing camera. There are moving lines on the rear-view image to help you park, as well as sensors front and rear. Surprisingly there’s no satnav built in, which is a fairly standard thing to have these days. There is Android Auto and Apple Carplay so you can use your phone’s satnav instead. I’m happy to report that Bluetooth pairing with my phone was quick and easy.

At the bottom of the central dash are two power sockets, as well as USB and aux inputs for the stereo, and a wireless phone charger in the Elite model. The system has six speakers and sounds really good, with good bass and clarity. Hyundai do seem to do standard stereos pretty well.

In the rear there’s very good leg room for a car in this class, and the 60/40 split rear seat is comfortable. The seat backs fold almost flat to expand the 361 litre boot up to 1143 litres for those bigger purchases. The standard boot is a good size and shape, and there’s a handy storage tray underneath the floor as well. I like that Hyundai include a first-aid kit and fire extinguisher as standard. Probably things you’ll never need but they’re good to have.

The Drive

On my drive home with a review car, one of the things I usually test first is the cruise control. The cruise in the Kona was a bit disappointing. It’s easy to set using the steering wheel controls, but it doesn’t show on the display what speed it’s set to. Surprising in a newly-released car. Also surprising in the top-spec Elite is that adaptive cruise isn’t included, given that the car has some pretty advanced safety tech already such as active Lane Keep Assist and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (auto braking if it detects an obstacle).

On the motorway, the Kona is a pleasure to drive. There’s a bit of road noise on the rougher roads that New Zealand has to offer, but the ride is good, soft enough to take care of bumps well, but not too soft. On twistier back roads, the softer suspension gives some body roll on corners, but not too much. I liked the way the Kona felt to drive. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly why, but it has a more European feel than other cars of its type, and in my book that’s definitely a good thing. It’s great around town too, and that tiny 5.3m turning circle makes negotiating narrow streets a breeze.

There are three drive modes: Eco, Normal and Sport. In a lot of cars, Eco mode just dulls the throttle to stop you accelerating as hard. The Kona’s Eco mode does do this but not as much as other cars, making it less irritating and more likely to be used. Sport mode, as you’d expect, sharpens the throttle and holds the gears for longer when accelerating, making the car that bit nippier.

The Kona isn’t an off-roader but it has a pretty good 170mm ground clearance, and the AWD version has a couple of features to get you out of a muddy field. There’s hill descent control, and a lockable differential, which could get you out of a sticky situation.

In general use, either engine is good, but if you want to have a bit of fun the 1.6t is definitely the better engine choice. The 4WD version is around 200kg heavier than the 2WD, but the extra 20kW of the turbo engine offsets that. Then there’s the fact it has almost 50% more torque, plus an extra gear to really pep things up. I wouldn’t say the 2.0l is under-powered but it can sometimes feel like it needs to drop down a gear where the turbo engine’s extra torque means it wouldn’t need to.

I found the Kona to be really good to drive. Other Crossover SUVs that I’ve driven have all left me with an overwhelming feeling of “meh” but the Kona is different. Someone at Hyundai has realised that these cars can be fun as well as practical, and has let the engineers inject some of that fun into the driving experience. This is especially the case with the turbo version, which feels really nippy and has enough go to put a smile on your face.

The Competition

Brand/Model Engine Power/Torque Fuel, L/100km Boot Space, Litres Price Highest to Lowest
Kia Sportage LTD 2.0l 4-cylinder 114kW/192Nm 8.2 466 $43,990
Hyundai Kona 1.6t Elite 1.6 litre 4-cylinder turbo 130kW/265Nm 6.7 361 $41,990
Honda HR-V Sport X 1.8 litre 4-cylinder 105kW/172Nm 6.9 431 $41,200
Mitsubishi ASX VRX 2.0 litre 4-cylinder 112kW/200Nm 7.6 393 $40,590
Mazda CX-3 Limited 2.0 litre 4-cylinder 109kW/192Nm 6.1 231 $40,195
Nissan Juke 1.6 litre 4-cylinder turbo 140kW/240Nm 7.4 354 $39,990
Jeep Renegade Limited 1.4 litre 4-cylinder turbo 103kW/230Nm 5.9 351 $39,990
Suzuki Vitara 1.4 litre 4-cylinder turbo 103kW/220Nm 6.2 375 $37,990
Holden Trax LTZ 1.4 litre 4-cylinder turbo 103kW/200Nm 6.7 356 $36,990
Hyundai Kona 2.0 2WD Elite 2.0 litre 4-cylinder 110kW/180Nm 7.2 361 $36,990
Peugeot 2008 Allure 1.2 litre 3-cylinder turbo 81kW/205Nm 4.8 410 $34,990
Toyota C-HR 1.2 litre 4-cylinder turbo 85kW/185Nm 6.5 318 $34,490
Ford Ecosport Titanium 1.5l 4-cylinder 82kW/140Nm 6.5 352 $32,990

The pros and cons

Pros Cons
  • Looks great
  • Comfortable
  • Lots of safety tech
  • Good to drive
  • Interior a little bland
  • Cruise control basic
  • No built-in satnav

What we think

I enjoyed the Kona more than I have any other crossover SUV. The driving experience and performance are good, it’s comfortable, and has plenty of equipment. There’s lots of interior space, and it looks great. It was definitely a popular car with everyone who saw it.

There are a couple of things I wish it had, namely smart cruise and satnav. It feels like Hyundai have gone all-out on the safety tech and not quite had enough budget left for a couple of extra driver aids. This is no bad thing of course, as it scored very highly in the ANCAP safety tests.

So in short – it’s a great little car, which you should definitely test drive if you’re looking at a crossover. The 2.0l version is good, but if you’re a driving enthusiast the 1.6t is definitely the one to go for.

Rating – Chevron rating 4 (out of 5)

2018 Hyundai Kona 2.0l 2WD Elite

drivelife car review chevrons four and half

Rating – Chevron rating 4.5 (out of 5)

2018 Hyundai Kona 1.6t AWD Elite

Kona 2.0 2WD Elite Kona 1.6T AWD Elite
Vehicle Type Compact SUV
Starting Price $36,990 plus on-road costs $41,990 plus on-road costs
Tested Price $36,990 plus on-road costs $41,990 plus on-road costs
Engine 2.0 litre 16 valve twin overhead cam with CVVT 1.6 litre 16 valve turbocharged twin overhead cam with gasoline direct injection
Power Kw / Torque Nm 110kW/180Nm 130kW/265Nm
Transmission 6-speed automatic 7-speed dual-clutch
0 – 100 kph, seconds Not quoted
Spare Wheel Space saver
Kerb Weight, Kg 1383 1507
Length x Width x Height, mm 4165 x 1800 x 1565
Cargo Capacity, litres 361 seats up

1143 seats folded

Fuel Tank, litres 50
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – Combined – 7.2 L / 100km

Real World Test – Combined – 7.7 L / 100km

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

Advertised Spec – Combined – 6.7 L / 100km

Real World Test – Combined – 7.9 L / 100km

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

Towing 600kg unbraked

1250kg braked

Turning circle 5.3m

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

Warranty 10 year/200,000km anti perforation corrosion body warranty

3 year/100,000km mechanical warranty

3 year/100,000km roadside assistance

ANCAP Rating 5 stars

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Project FZ12 : Fraser & Zac’s Hand Built Supercar – Part 32: Airbox Tue, 10 Apr 2018 00:00:06 +0000 So hopefully by looking at the pictures it will become obvious very quickly that this isn’t our final airbox design.   This airbox is for one reason and one reason only and that is to allow us to be able to start, run and give a basic tune to the FZ12’s beating V12 heart.

Lets call the design functional shall we, because it certainly isn’t pretty.   We aren’t able to settle on a final design for the proper airbox yet since we don’t have a roofline in place and we can’t do that until we’ve finalised the chassis and we can’t do that until the LVVTA come and ……….well you get the picture.

Zac as always provided the knowledge and equipment when it comes to anything composite we have to do, and we shaped a block of polystyrene.   Then I wrapped the polystyrene in tape and then Zac fibreglassed over that to give us a basic shape.   Once we had the shape we simply removed the polystyrene from the bottom leaving a hollow shell.   Once we had the basic shell it wasn’t any trouble at all to glue some flat sheet to the top where we planned on bolting the throttle bodies.

This was the end result.   As I said, she’s no looker, but will do until we can finalise a design when we’ll be making something much nicer out of carbon.


I had to drill and tap holes for the air intake temp sensor, MAP (manifold air pressure) sensor and a vacuum line to go to the fuel pressure regulator, but that was all really easy.

Next I needed to drill and tap the many holes along the bottom to allow me to bolt the main manifold plate to the bottom of the airbox to make an air tight seal.   You might remember that Mitch from O.L.S helped us a while back to laser cut a seal out of neoprene material and it worked perfectly.


Next was the very fiddly process of lining up all 12 intake tubes and tightening up all of the clamps.  This takes approx 1 hour to do from start to finish, so when I say fiddly, I mean it.

But as always seems to be the case with this stuff, you never seem to care about time or anything else once you’re done and you can see it all together and I’m super happy to know now that this is the last mechanical part we need to start this engine !


I suspect Chris from Prestige Tuning and I will be spending quite a bit of time together in the near future to get this thing fired up and given a basic tune.

I will cover this off in the next episode and let you know how it goes !


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 31

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

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2018 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo – Car Review – The niche driving machine Mon, 09 Apr 2018 00:00:34 +0000 Niche market segments are all the range now, and there does not appear to be any sign of them stopping soon. Whether it’s customers demanding more choice or manufacturers wanting and being not able to fill voids that previously could not be filled, the market and desire for these niche products continues to grow and grow.

The Range

The range is simple, in fact it’s so simple because there is only one Gran Turismo model available in New Zealand. And right now, it’s also the only new BMW 6 series model available too.

The 640i xDrive Gran Turismo starts at $155,600. It comes with a BMW Twin-Power Turbo 6-cylinder petrol engine, which produces 250kW of power and 450Nm torque. It also has a 8-speed sport automatic transmission with gearshift paddles that’s linked to the xDrive all-wheel drive system.

The range of equipment is vast, and for the price it should be. Standard equipment on the 640i includes M Sport package (includes M Sport braking system, sun protection glazing, M exterior styling package), 20-inch BMW M light alloy wheels in double-spoke style 648, run flat tyres, Comfort Access system, warning triangle and first aid kit, comfort front seats, through-loading system, exterior mirrors with automatic anti-dazzle function, ambient light package, Parking Assistant Plus package (includes Park Distance Control front/rear, rear view camera, parking assistant), adaptive LED headlights, High Beam Assist with selective beam, Driving Assistant Plus with Active Cruise Control, Navigation system Professional, BMW head-up display, Harman/Kardon surround sound system, BMW Connected Drive (including intelligent emergency call, Teleservices, Real Time Traffic Information, Concierge Service, Remote Services), wireless charging system, BMW gesture control, Multifunctional Instrument Display, Leather ‘Dakota’ upholstery, panoramic glass sunroof, electric rear seat adjustment, instrument panel in Sensatec and rear-axle air suspension.

You can also option the 640i with a Luxury Line package at no additional cost, which take the sport more edgy look away from the M Sport design. This gives you a front bumper and front ornamental design elements, tailpipe finishers and rear bumper embellisher in chrome ‘Luxury’ designation on front side panel (left and right). Door handles illuminated with chrome insert,  Kidney grille bars in chrome, window frame in chrome, B pillar in black high-gloss, tailpipe and finishers in chrome. LED fog lights, active seat ventilation in the front seats, exclusive leather ‘Nappa’ upholstery, sport leather steering wheel, front and rear door sill finisher illuminated with inserts in aluminium with ‘Luxury Line’ designation and 20″ light alloy wheels W-spoke style with high gloss polished finish

BMW have tried to keep the packages for the Gran Turismo as simple as possible. There are 3, which are the Innovations Package, Exclusive Package and Comfort Package. Both the Innovation and Comfort package had been added to our test vehicle.

The Innovations Package is $1450 and adds the BMW Display Key, Remote Control Parking and Apple CarPlay.

The Exclusive Package is $7,400 and adds the Adaptive 2-axle air suspension, automatic air conditioning with 4-zone control, Integral Active Steering and roller sunblinds.

The Comfort Package is $1650 and adds Seat heating front and rear, Steering-wheel heating and Ambient Air package.

As the 640i Gran Turismo focused so much on the interior experience, it’s no surprise to find that you have 9 different leather options, 5 Dakota and 4 Nappa leather. It also had 7 different interior trim colours and materials.

For the exterior of the car you have 11 colour options two non-metallic paints, Alpine White as on our test car, and Black. There’s 9 metallic paints, Carbon Black, Black Sapphire, Glacier Silver, Sophisto Grey Brilliant Effect, Mineral White, Mediterranean Blue, Royal Burgundy Red Brilliant Effect, Jucaro Beige and Bluestone. Last but not least, you get 3 wheel options.

First Impressions

When I heard we were getting the 640i Gran Turismo I instantly thought of the 6 Series Gran Coupe, and I was looking forward to driving that sexy car. And then one day, before I picked it up, it clicked. This was not the car we were getting, it was the old cousin of that odd 5 Series four door hatch that looked like it has been rear ended by a truck, repeatedly.

Cars in my opinion should always have good lines. And the old 5 Series Gran Turismo always looked odd, and even though the 6 series Gran Turismo does looks a bit better, it still suffers from the same odd appearance. Nice from the front, and then as you move around the side, you start to wonder what on earth were the designers thinking when they got to the side rear profile.

The Inside

This section is what the 640i is all about, and right from the moment you sit in, you know it’s going to be first class service all the way.

The first thing you see are the 20-way adjustable driver and passenger seats, both with highlighted piping and quilted leather that oozes luxury. As expected it did not take long to get comfy in these seats. I did however spend about 10 minutes playing with all the adjustments, just to see what’s on offer. I am pretty confident that anyone can get comfy in these seats in a very short amount of time. The Dakota leather are no cost options, and the Nappa are no cost options when combined with the Luxury line package and $1500 each when optioned with the Motorsport option

The experience in the rear of the cabin is very different to the front seats. The space in the back seats is epic. Being a tall guy and leaving the driver’s seat in my position, I am able to sit in the back and still have 5 inches of space between my knees and the seat in front. This is where most of the additional space achieved from using the 7 series platform has been alloted.

The panoramic roof, which is a nice standard option – aided in opening up the feeling of space in the back seats, making what could be a dark area very bright and spacious. It did not seem to cover as much of the roof as expected, I assumed this was due to the sloping fastback design.

Across the dash and doors there are Fine-wood trim in Poplar Grain Grey inlays. There are 7 trim options available, all of which are no-cost options – except for the piano black inlays that are $500. I personally did not like the Poplar Grain Grey inlays, and found it hard to believe it was real wood. It looked fake to me, so they would not be my trim choice.  

Below the dash and just in front of the cup holders is a wireless charging pad, which is a great place to store your phone when driving. Unfortunately for me, my Google Pixel does not have wireless charging. This is also one way you can charge the BMW Display Key. Once sitting on the pad, the blue light comes on, and very quickly recharging the key.

Having to recharge your key is something that car owners have never had to do before. I did not experience the key completely draining flat, but it’s something owners might easily forget to do.

This 640i has been optioned with the Comfort Package, which upgrades the standard seat heating in the front, to both front and rear seats, steering wheel heating and Ambient Air package for $1650.

The heated steering wheel is a bit weird. It’s not that BMW have made it weird, I mean the general idea. I likened it to sitting on on a toilet seat that that someone else has already been sitting on. It’s weird and not for me. It’s intended task of heating the wheel was achieved rather quickly once activated.

The Ambient Air options was something new to test. Our review car had two fragrances installed, Golden Suite, described as the Mystery of Fiery Armas and Blue Suite, described as Pure Pearls of Water. Either one can be selected via the iDrive system with the option of three dispersion levels. Once selected the fragrance is gently added to the air in the cabin. It’s not intrusive or as harsh as a toilet fragrance block. It’s a bit of a first world luxury item, but I liked it.

The boot had a lot of space, equal to a large sedan’s depth, while being more versatile thanks to the fastback hatch. It’s 610 litres and can then expand to 1800 litres with the rear seats folded. I was amazed at this, as it makes what is a very luxury-focused car, versatile for everyday life as well. You could easily pick up some large boxes or even timber from the local DIY if you really wanted too.

The Drive

Behind the wheel of this 640i was a rather uneventful experience. I don’t for a second mean it’s dull, I just mean that the entire vehicle is inline with the interior. It’s very calm, comfortable and relaxing experience.

The power from the BMW Twin Power Turbo 6-cylinder petrol engine was always delivered smoothly and evenly. Creating 250kW and 450Nm of torque, it never felt like there was a dip in power or not enough for the required road ahead. This engine was so quiet that I was sometimes unsure if the engine on. And even when the demand for power was made, the cabin remained a serene environment, never drowned with the drown of the engine.

Its 8-speed sport automatic transmission was also flawless, so quiet and smooth. It was pretty hard to even tell when it had changed gear, which became something you never seemed to notice. Like many of these systems, it came with paddles on the steering wheel. More of a gimmick, than something you would use. I don’t think I used them more then once or twice for the formality of testing them out. I just had no reason to leave the gear selection to the automatic system. It’s not a sport car I was testing, it’s a grand tourer.

Even though it was a big car at over 5 metres long, it never felt that big. The steering was light and smooth, and the visibility was great. This combined with the camera’s parking system made parking this yacht an effortless task.

The drive modes offered in the 640i look like they follow the typical BMW configuration until you start to explore them. You have Comfort, Comfort Plus, Eco, Eco Individual, Sport, Sport Individual and Adaptive. That’s right, Comfort and Comfort Plus, which shows you where the design focus of this car lies.

Comfort is the default mode like most BMWs, where the car is set to the middle of the range in regards to power delivery, suspension, dampers, noise and steering feel. Not an uncommon mode at all. However Comfort Plus did surprise me, as I had not expected it. It also triggered the question of why would one want to be just comfortable, when they can be even more comfortable. Surely no one would select just Comfort vs Comfort Plus. For 90% of the time I drove the 640i, it was Comfort Plus all the way. Was it different? Yes. By a lot? Not really. But you could tell that there was more damping and suspension absorption between the two modes.

Eco and Eco Individual, tried to offer you a more eco driving experience. The difference between Eco and Comfort was minimal at best. If anything it made the car a bit sluggish, which did not work for this type of vehicle. Also the dials on the driver’s display were a bit confusing, as they read out the RPM guage in L/100km. And I found it more distracting trying to achieve a more efficient driving style than it should have been.

Sport and Sport individual modes offered you a more sporty driving experience. This was more noticeable than the change to Eco, as it firmed up the car all over, and dropped the suspension by 10mm. It did not change into the next big M series car, but it make this yacht feel a bit more brisk and delivered a very good sporty feeling. Power delivery was sharper, but not lurchy, suspension was stiffer, but not rock hard, and the engine/exhaust noise was higher, but not annoying. I also love how the dash dramatically changed to the red M Sport mode. Sport mode and Comfort plus worked really well for the 640i.

Considering I had given up on the Eco mode I was surprised to see that my average fuel usage over the week I drove the 640i was 10.4L/100km. Compared to the advertised rate of 8.5 L/100km that’s not bad for a big vehicle that weighs just under 2 tons. It’s not the most efficient vehicle around, but it won’t cost the earth to run it either.

The Innovation Package that was included with our test vehicle came with the very cool and massive BMW Display key. This key is as cool as it is annoying. Cool for the obvious reason, it’s a remote key, with a lcd screen that can control and move the car. But annoying for the fact that anyone you explained what the key could do, would not believe you until you showed them. As luck would have it I did get blocked into a tight car park, and the key’s feature of being able to reverse it car out of the spot while standing beside it worked like a charm. It had the added bonus of another drivers jaw dropping open as he saw what was happening. I then jumped in and drove away. For the money I think it’s worth it, but you do have to keep it charged, which is just another thing to keep in mind.

The Competition – Midsize Luxury SUV

This is a niche market, but there are a couple of similar options out there, but your budget may not stretch to cover them all.

Brand/Model Engine Power/Torque Fuel, L/100km Seats Boot Space, Litres Price Highest to Lowest
Porsche Panamera 3.0L V6 turbo petrol 234kW/ 450Nm 7.6 4 500 $201,200
Audi A7 Sportback 3.0L BiTDi 235kW/ 650Nm 5.2 5 535 $159,900
BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo 3.0L V6 Petrol Twin Turbo 250kW/ 450Nm 8.5 5 460 $155,600
Jaguar XJ Luxury 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel 300kW/ 700Nm 5.7 5 478 $155,000
Mercedes-Benz CLS 400 3.0L V6 Petrol Twin Turbo 245kW/ 480Nm 8.0 5 520 $144,000

The pros and cons

Pros Cons
  • Luxury interior
  • Spacious cabin
  • Smooth, refined ride
  • Big boot
  • Massive rear seat space
  • Packed with toys
  • High spec as standard
  • Endless seat adjustments
  • Ambient Air Package
  • Coolest key fob in the market
  • Not the best looking of cars
  • M Sport package does not look sporty
  • Low centre console arm rest
  • No Android Auto
  • Somewhat pointless Eco mode

What we think

The big question for me with any car, is why would I buy this over another model or variant. As the 640i Gran Turismo is so niche, it’s a hard option for most people to fall on. So why would someone buy this car? If you were a middle aged or retired executive who has enjoyed large comfortable cars all their life, then something like this could be for you.

They would also be the kind of person who doesn’t bend to pressure or like to conform with the rest of society, and join the legion of SUVs that everyone else are buying. As you can see, it’s not for everyone.

But the 640i is a good car, maybe not so much to look at. The experience inside the car is very refined and opulent. It’s akin to driving a cloud with a great array of standard specs and a whole raft of additional options to make it your own. So if you’re after a big car that’s got luxurious comfort at its core, the 640i xDrive Gran Turismo is worth checking out.

Would I buy it? Thats a big No from me. And the reason is simple: I just don’t like how it looks. The 6 Series Gran Coupe has nicer lines, which was more my cup of tea.

Rating – Chevron rating (4 out of 5)

2018 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo

Vehicle Type Large 4-Door FastBack
Starting Price $155,600 plus on-road costs
Tested Price $172,950 plus on-road costs
Engine BMW Twin Power Turbo 3.0-litre 6-cylinder petrol engine,
Power Kw / Torque Nm 250kW/450Nm
Transmission 8-speed sport automatic transmission with gearshift paddles
0 – 100 kph, seconds 5.4
Spare Wheel Space saver
Kerb Weight, Kg 1845
Length x Width x Height, mm 5091 x 1902 x 1538
Cargo Capacity, litres 460 – seats up

1500 – seats folded

Fuel Tank, litres 70
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – Combined –  8.5L / 100km

Real World Test – Combined –  10.2L / 100km

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

Towing N/A kg braked
Turning circle 11.4m

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

Warranty 3 years warranty and AA Roadside Assist
ANCAP Rating 5 Star
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MIA Welcomes Government’s Mandatory Recall for at Risk (alpha type) Takata Airbag Inflators Thu, 05 Apr 2018 08:00:33 +0000 David Crawford, Chief Executive Officer of the MIA says ‘the Takata airbag recall is unprecedented in scale, it is a massively large and complex logistical issue affecting new and used vehicles with two different types of Takata airbags. The alpha type airbag inflator fitted to vehicles between 2001 and 2006 is more at risk of failure if activated than other types of Takata airbag inflators. Completion of the recall will require the cooperation of government and industry to undertake and the MIA welcomes the Government’s decision to make the alpha type airbag recall mandatory.’

The MIA undertook a stocktake of affected vehicles in New Zealand during March which revealed that there are around 11,280 New Zealand new vehicles with the alpha type inflator of which 6,485 have had the inflator replaced with 4,795 remaining to be completed. However, there are now 68,116 used vehicles with the alpha type inflator and while 22,494 vehicles had had the inflator replaced, there remains another 45,622 to be completed.

The issue is exacerbated by importers of used vehicles who have continued to import vehicles which have not had recalls closed out in the country they are sourcing their vehicles from. Mostly these vehicles have been proceeding through import compliance without checking and then on-sold to unsuspecting New Zealand consumers. It is then left up to New Zealand distributors to try and identify these vehicles and endeavour to manage a recall. Contrary to common misunderstanding, under New Zealand legislation New Zealand distributors of new vehicles are not obliged to undertake recalls of used imported vehicles. New Zealand consumer legislation places consumer obligations, including recalls, on the supplier of the goods, which in this case is the importer of the used vehicle. The MIA is not opposing imports of used vehicles, but these vehicles should not be on-sold to consumers with outstanding (open) recalls.

The MIA has a code of practice which encourages New Zealand Distributors to recall used imported vehicles when these vehicles have been imported prior to a recall being announced.

However, the continued importation of used vehicles with a known recall in the market vehicles are being sourced from, places an unacceptable burden on consumers. MIA welcomes the Government’s decision to prevent any vehicle with an open recall from passing compliance and entry into the New Zealand fleet.

Vehicle Numbers In New Zealand which were fitted with a Takata Airbag, by Alpha type and non-alpha type (as it March 2018).

Vehicles with Alpha Type Takata airbags Number of vehicles in NZ with Alpha airbags Number of alpha airbag recalls closed out Number of alpha airbag recalls remaining
NZ New Vehicles 11280 6485 4795
Used Imported vehicles 68116 22494 45622
Total 79396 28979 50417


Vehicles with Non-Alpha Type Takata airbags Number of vehicles in NZ with non-Alpha airbags Number of non-alpha airbag recalls closed out Number of non-alpha airbag recalls remaining
NZ New Vehicles 160150 59340 100810
Used Imported vehicles 212648 56472 156176
Total 372798 115812 256986

More information:

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Project Rusty – Rob’s Audi UR-Quattro – Part 34: Street Legal! Thu, 05 Apr 2018 05:00:25 +0000 When I wrote my last update I was about to drop Rusty off at The Toy Shop Wellington, and a couple of days later I was able to get the car there after 6pm when traffic was less busy. The journey was uneventful, which is good as the brakes were pretty poor.

I did make a new friend at the petrol station.

First on the list was to remove the calipers and master cylinder to get them tested. We ended up getting the calipers rebuilt and the master cylinder re-sleeved and rebuilt.

When they came back and were re-fitted, the brakes were better but the car had developed a scary habit of diving to the left or right under braking.

Eventually the issue was traced to an air lock in the power steering system, which is tied into the brakes in the quattro. Once the bleed process had been completed everything was working much better. And the Toy Shop chose to let me know by sending me this:

Absolute classic, nice one guys!

Next it was time to run through a WoF, and they found that the headlights were pointing at the sky and rear seatbelts weren’t retracting properly. Things that should have been picked up at the last WoF. Once these were sorted out, the WoF book was out, but a leak had developed from a pressure switch on the power steering. Sigh.

After another week’s wait, the parts arrived, were fitted immediately, and the next photo I got was this one:

As you might expect, I was ecstatic, and arranged to collect Rusty that evening.

In the time it had been there, Toy Shop had re-branded as Wellington European, and Rusty had the honour of being the first car photographed with the new sign.

Since then I’ve done about 60 miles in the car, all of them with a massive grin on my face. I love this car! It goes well, makes an awesome noise, seems to handle pretty well. I haven’t pushed it yet, but I like it a lot.

There’s a list of things still to do, including:

rear indicators are dim
Samco hoses to fit
Under-dash trims
Radio aerial not connected
Intercooler mounts broken
Slow coolant leak
Oil leak
Remove and re-fit both bumpers with proper support brackets and missing padding between sections
Rear wheels rub on back bumper on hard cornering
Fit headlight washers

So only 33 months and, er, a lot of dollars into this 12 month, $15k project, I’m far from finished, but I finally have a car I can drive.

Here are some photos from that first drive.

Follow the full Project Rusty build here.

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