DriveLife New Zealand's Enthusiast Driven Motoring Publication, Automotive News, New Car Reviews and Used Car Reviews Sat, 20 Apr 2019 05:48:54 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 2019 Mazda CX-3 GSX – New Car Review – Honey, I shrunk the CX-5 Thu, 11 Apr 2019 00:00:06 +0000 The whole CX range seems to be a winning recipe for Mazda; we love the CX-5, recently naming it “still the medium SUV King”, the CX-8 went down a treat with John, as did the CX-9 Takami.

But what about the baby of the family, the CX-3? I must admit, it’s not a model I’ve spent much time with, but they sure are a popular small SUV, as you see them whizzing about the cities.

Mazda have given the CX-3 a bit of a facelift and a tech and mechanical boost; it now gains the excellent G-Vectoring Control (GVC) system for better ride and handling that its bigger siblings already have.

But does this translate down? Can the CX-3 simply be a smaller CX-5, and just as good?

The Range

Like the others in the CX range, you get to choose from four models; the entry-level GLX ($31,995), then the GSX ($36,995), the Limited ($40,195), and the top of the range, the ‘luxurious’ Takami ($41,695). All models run the same engine and transmission, a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine that develops 110kW of power at 6,000rpm, and 195Nm of torque at 2,800rpm. All models run a 6-speed automatic.

There’s just one all-wheel drive version of the CX-3 (the GSX AWD at $38,695) otherwise all are front-wheel drive.

Thrown into the mix here is a ‘leather’ version of the GSX, called the GSX Leather ($38,295) and you guessed it – it has a leather interior, as well as a few other options (listed below).

As far as updates go, there’s some new 18” alloy wheels for the CX-3 GSX, and all models new front and tail lamp design, piano black door and pillar garnish, and new dashboard decoration.

There’s been improvements in noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) by increasing the thickness of the front and rear door panels, rear doors glass and a denser headliner in the cabin.

Base models are fitted with a reversing camera, 16” alloy wheels, Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE safety features like Advanced City Brake Support (Forward), blind spot monitoring, dual chrome exhausts, a roof spoiler, an electric park brake with autohold function, a 7” touchscreen display, 6-speaker audio, Internet Radio Integration (Stitcher, Aha), keyless entry and start, cruise control, traffic sign recognition, Smart City Brake Support Reverse, and hill start assist. You can add a couple of options to the LGX of SatNav and apple CarPlay/Android Auto capability.

Moving up to the GSX model, there’s 18” alloys now, as well as LED headlamps, LED DRLs, LED tail lamps, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, power folding exterior mirrors, an Active Driving Display (a sort of heads-up display), climate AC, leather steering wheel and shift knob, SatNav, front and rear parking sensors, proximity keyless entry, and a fuller package of i-ACTIVSENSE Safety to add in Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Forward Obstruction Warning, Smart Brake Support, Smart City Brake Support (reverse), blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, traffic sign recognition and finally, Secondary Collision Reduction.

If you want the GSX Leather, you get the full leather package along with heated exterior mirrors, heated front seats, 10-way power driver’s seat with 2 memories, side-sill garnish in silver, and a 2-position memory for the Active Driving Display.

Still two models to go; the Limited will also give you privacy glass, a Premium 236-watt Bose sound system, an option of white or black leather, and some additional i-ACTIVSENSE items, namely adaptive LED headlights, lane departure warning and driver attention alert.

Lastly, the Takami. There’s different 18” alloys on this model, as well as ‘Aged Merlot Nappa leather’ trim, an automatic day/night mirror, an electric sunroof, and some different trim options.

Note that if you do want the superb Soul Red Crystal, you’ll need to pay a premium of $300 – it’s worth it. If you are a grey kind of person, you can also fork out an extra $300 for a special kind of grey, called Machine Grey (replacing Meteor Grey Mica).

First Impressions

When I went to pick up the test car, there was a dull grey CX-3 sitting there, ready to go. I could only wish it wasn’t that car, but was the CX-3 parked next to it in Mazda’s stunning Soul Red Crystal.

And it was ‘my’ car.

Pictures can’t explain just how great this colour looks; it looks excellent on the CX-5 and CX-9, and just as good – dare I say it, better – on the CX-3. The proportions of this small SUV seem to suit Soul Red Crystal like no other colour.

The front has had the latest family treatment, totally looking like a shrunken CX-5 now. That’s no bad thing, either; the CX-5 is a stand-out in frontal design.

It really does just look like a smaller CX-5, and I like it.

The Inside

Yup, shrunken CX-5 or 8 or 9. Total deja-vu moment, if you’ve driven any of the CX range. The car feels incredibly narrow when you are sitting in the driver’s seat; it’s not tiny, but it doesn’t seem that far to the left side of the car.

Great that there’s ivory-coloured headlining, as the rest of the interior is black. The seats are a mix of cloth and leatherette, and look comfy enough.

Since this is the GSX model, there’s a ‘sort of’ heads-up display (HUD), which is a piece of plastic that pops out of the dash when you turn the ignition on. More on that later.

Even though this is their smallest SUV, there’s still some really nice materials used in the cabin. Still sitting in the driver’s seat, there’s padded leatherette on the dash, doors and console, and it looks great – classy and a little bit expensive-looking.

The quality of the finish too is right up there; it looks well-built, with tight gaps around any joins.

There’s a CD slot right there in the dash, which I don’t remember seeing on any other CX cars, but my wife liked that.

In the centre-top of the dash, there’s a tacked-on display, it feels a little small at 7” but is in keeping with the size of the car.

For your music and charging needs, there are 2 USB ports up front, as well as an AUX port and a 12-volt socket.

Being a pretty small car, there’s no actual centre cubby in the CX-3, instead the arm rest lifts up to reveal an open sort of pocket thing, with two cup holders in front of that.

I was surprised at the amount of rear legroom in the CX-3. It looks a little tight, but I had a 6-foot something person in the passenger’s seat at one point, and there was still easily enough legroom for an adult passenger in the back seat.

The boot isn’t huge at just 264 litres, but it’s par for the course when you have an attractive but space-sucking sloping rear end. It looks great, but it’s not boot-space friendly.

One unfortunate item is the high loading height. It’s a fair way up to lift anything into the boot of the CX-3.

The Drive

We’re used to modern petrol engines being fairly noisy on the outside at idle, and the CX-3 is no exception. I remember the CX-5 petrol sounded exactly the same (it has the same 2-litre engine but with slightly less power and torque). Still too early to call just yet, and this was with the windows down.

Pulling away from the dealership, the narrowness of the car came into play – it’s a great around town car. Over my week with the CX-3, I came to appreciate its lack of width more and more, as it zipped through Wellington’s tight streets without raising a sweat.

A small drawback of this narrowness are the sun visors; since the car is narrow, so are the sun visors, and I did notice on the motorway sometimes they weren’t big enough to block out the sun. Sliding visors would be a perfect solution for this.

The GSX model is fitted with adaptive cruise control, and a huge round of thanks to Mazda New Zealand for making this move. There’s still far too many cars costing far more than the CX-3 GSX that don’t come with adaptive cruise control.

Mazda calls their system Mazda Radar Cruise Control, but the generic term is adaptive cruise control, and it’s shorter to type. Mazda’s is one of the better ones, and the CX-3 is now fitted with stop/go functionality, so it will bring the car to a complete stop, and just a tap of the gas pedal will see it return to adaptive cruise control. This is great in stop-start traffic, and saves lots of stress, while you concentrate on steering and let the car do the rest.

The HUD does the job, although I still prefer a ‘real’ HUD. While it sits too low to be as effective as a real HUD, that does mean that (for my height) the speed and other info is shown on the piece of plastic just below the lip of the bonnet, where it’s quite dark. This might not seem much, but HUDs that project onto the windscreen can be affected by bright sunlight sometimes.

And it’s amazing what Mazda can fit on this HUD. Your speed, the current speed limit, a warning of any cars in your blind spot, what speed you’ve set cruise control at, as well as the distance for spacing you’ve set the cruise control to – it’s all there, on a tiny piece of plastic. It’s quite impressive.

So with a 2-litre engine in this small SUV, you’d think it go like a pocket-rocket. Yes, and no. It can be ‘peppy’ but that’s as far as I’d go. It still feels like a heavy car for its size – it weighs in at 1297Kg. Don’t get me wrong, stick it in Sport mode and it wants to go, and it doesn’t really feel like it’s ever wanting for more power, but it’s not the pocket rocket you might think it’d be, or that it looks like it should be.

It’s got a good kick of torque at low revs, then it flattens out a bit around 3,000-4,000rpm, then it gets a second wind at 5,000rpm. It can move along nicely if you prod it, but it’s happier just tootling around town.

There’s another reason it’s happier not being pushed along. Probably my biggest takeaway from the CX-3 was the engine noise. At cold idle, it sounds like a diesel. Once you get moving it’s better, but under load up any hill and the engine lets itself be known.

On the motorway at cruising speeds and a steady throttle it’s fine, ditto plodding around town on the flat. But hills are not its friend, and brings out the engine noise. It’s the same if you plant the boot on an on-ramp and wind it out; it will go and pick up speed nicely, but it doesn’t feel good as the engine noise goes up as well.

This is surprising, as Mazda have released the 2019 model with NVH improvements – but I’m not sure they’ve pulled it off.

I did use the CX-3 in Sport mode a few times, but for me it felt like all it did was hold the gears longer and I didn’t want to do that. The low-end torque is plenty enough to avoid high revs. The Suzuki S-Cross with its 1.4-litre BoosterJet engine has it all over the CX-3 in this respect; the S-Cross is quick, quiet and silky smooth. Oh, to have that motor in the CX-3.

Road noise can be a little high too, and it’s definitely not a CX-5 in that respect. The CX-9 is my large-SUV benchmark for cars in that price range for road and tyre noise, and the CX-3 is a mile away from that. It’s just not as refined as the other CX models, and I think this is where I felt a bit let down. I was expecting it to be the same.

But I’ve got to keep in mind it is hard to make a smaller car quiet, and when they are it’s noticeable.

Driving-wise, things are generally very good. There’s a big rev counter in the middle of the dash, with a smaller digital speedo. You don’t need a bigger speedo since you have the HUD.

Visibility is good too, although the rear flanks are fairly high, and the window forward of the C-pillar is tiny. This is where blind-spot monitoring comes into its own.

Mazda always brings decent steering wheel controls to the party, and the CX-3 is no exception. Standard Mazda fare, and they work well. After a short time, there’s no need to look down at the buttons anymore.

Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control (GVC) is now a part of every CX-3. GVC links all the parts of the car that relate to driving – chassis, brakes, engine, transmission etc, and this linking enables the car to handle much better, as well as adding driving safety too. Does it work? On the CX-5 and CX-9, yes. You can really chuck those cars around, and they stick, and yes, they do handle.

One of the other benefits of GVC is that your passengers don’t get thrown around in their seat as much, as GVC controls the car much better.

So what about the CX-3 and GVC? Yes, it feels better than the previous model. I didn’t get the opportunity to test it out on one of my favourite roads, but overall you could feel this is a chassis that works. Mazda has done well to ensure GVC is being included in all its models.

Fuel economy in the CX-3 over 500km worked out at 7.7L/100km. Mazda claims 6.3, so that’s pretty close.

The Competition

I’d hate to be in the market for a small SUV…so many choices.

Brand/Model Engine Power/Torque


Number of seats Cargo capacity, litres Fuel L/100km Base Price – High to Low
Mitsubishi ASX VRX 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol 112/200 5 393 4.6 $40,590
Nissan Juke Turbo 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder petrol turbo 140/240 5 207 7.4 $39,990
Honda HR-V RS 1.8-litre, 4-cylinder petrol 105/172 5 437 6.7 $37,500
Mazda CX-3 GSX 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol 110/195 5 264 6.3 $36,995
Hyundai Kona Elite 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol 110/180 5 332 7.2 $36,990
Holden TRAX LT 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder petrol turbo 103/200 5 356 6.7 $35,490
Haval H6 LUX 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol turbo 145/315 5 N/A 9.6 $34,990
Peugeot 2008 Crossway 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder petrol turbo 81/205 5 410 4.8 $34,990
Suzuki S-Cross Prestige 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder petrol turbo 103/220 5 440 5.9 $33,990
Ssangyong Tivoli Limited 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder petrol turbo 94/160 5 N/A 7.2 $31,990

The Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
  • Overall handling
  • Interior space
  • Quality of finish
  • Overall ergonomics
  • Fantastic looks, especially in Soul Red Crystal
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • GVC
  • Engine noise
  • Road noise
  • High-loading boot lip
  • Small boot

The Verdict

Mazda will sell the CX-3 on looks alone. Stick it in Soul Red Crystal, and it’s a stand-out car among others.

It’s nicely finished with nice materials inside, drives well, and it’s a car you love to see in the car park.

It’s a shame (for me) it’s let down by the amount of engine noise, and then road noise on certain surfaces. As I said, I’ve been spoilt with the refinement and NVH levels of the CX-5, CX-8 and CX-9; I expected the CX-3 to be the same.

Then again, it’d be hard to find an unhappy CX-3 buyer. I feel confident to say most will be more than content with the car.


2019 Mazda CX-3 GSX

4.0 Chevrons

Vehicle Type Small SUV
Starting Price $36,995
Price as Tested $36,995
Engine 2.0 litre in-line 4 cylinder 16 valve DOHC S-VT petrol (SKYACTIV-G) engine
Transmission 6-speed (SKYACTIV-Drive)
Power, Torque


Spare Wheel Space saver
Kerb Weight, Kg 1,297
Length x Width x Height, mm 4275x1765x1535
Cargo Capacity, litres 264/1174
Fuel Economy, L/100km Advertised Spec – combined –  6.3

Real World Test – combined – 7.7

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

Fuel tank capacity, litres 44
Towing Capacity

Kg, unbraked/braked

Turning circle, metres 10.6

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

Warranty 5 years Mazdacare warranty unlimited km

5 years Roadside Assistance unlimited km

Mazda Servicing for 3 years/100,000km

ANCAP Safety Ratings 5 Star


]]> 0
2019 Ford Endura Titanium AWD – Car Review – American Luxury Sun, 07 Apr 2019 23:45:53 +0000 As the replacement for the Ford Territory, the rest of the world know this car as the Ford Edge. Now available in Australia and New Zealand, it’s being sold under the model name Endura.

Can the Endura stand up to the legacy of the old Territory and how will it compare to other brands in the massively expanding SUV market?

The Range

In New Zealand, there are 4 variants of Endura to choose from. The range starts with the Endura Trend FWD ($53,490) and the Endura Trend AWD ($56,490). It then moves up to the sports and luxury model, the Endura ST-Line AWD ($64,990) and the Endura Titanium AWD ($69,990) .

All Endura models come with the same 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine that produces 140kW of power and 400Nm of torque. They also all have the same 8-speed automatic transmission.

Each variant builds on the spec of the previous one. Stating with the Trend FWD, the main features are adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, integrated active noise control, push button start with keyless entry and a towbar. The Trend AWD adds intelligent all-wheel drive to the line up already available in the Trend FWD.

Moving to the ST-Line you get a bit more again, 20″ alloy wheels with black inserts, black trapezoid front grille and surround, enhanced park assist with pull out assist, perpendicular park and flankguard, front heated & cooled seats with 10-way power adjust (driver & passenger), full sports inspired body styling kit, Miko Suede perforated seats with leather accents and sports-tuned suspension.

The Titanium is one more step above the ST-Line, focusing on the luxury market. You get adaptive Bi-LED headlights, blind spot monitoring system (BLIS) with cross traffic alert,  

dual panel power open panoramic glass roof with power shade, heated 2nd-row seats, power tailgate with handsfree operation, premium B&O 12-speaker audio and rear DVD Headrest Entertainment system.

The list of options for all Ford Endura variants can be found on the Ford New Zealand website. LINK

First Impressions

My first impressions were a bit skewed, as I normally try to avoid any info about the vehicle before the pickup. However, the forms for the review car had the details and colour of the car on it. Ingot Silver, not the most exciting colour I thought to myself.

Upon first glance, I must say, Ingot Silver looks great. It really highlights the strong shapes and forms of the Endura. It was also offset nicely by the two tone colour on the lower front / rear bumper and side sills. This gave it a big strong stance and rather eye-catching too.

I liked how this car looked, it was big, without feeling big. I was keen to get behind the wheel and see what else this new Endura had to offer.

The Inside

Climbing into the huge Endura, you notice that it has a high spec level and luxury feel. First thing was the seats, wow they felt really nice. It had a sumptuous, rich comfy feel to them, not too soft and not firm, just right. The space just for the driver was huge, made even bigger as the driver’s seat pulls back when entering and exiting the car.

Both front seats are heated and cooled, which is standard on the Titanium and ST-Line spec. Everyone I had as passengers mentioned the comfy seats and how nice the Endura looked. Great start for the new Endura

The rear seats were just as nice, perhaps not as sculpted as the two front seats but they all felt just as comfy. They were also heated, which was great to see. No cooling back there, but the leg room was to die for, it was massive. Even with the driver’s seat set back in a tall driver’s position, I could sit in behind and my knees didn’t even touch the driver’s seat. That’s impressive, and that is also what many of the 7 seaters SUV’s lack these days. The focus is on getting 7 seats in, not about how average people will feel when sitting in them.

To add to the impressive rear space, the two front seats have DVD Entertainment System built into the back of the headrests. Both screens come with wireless headphones too. This is perfect for the kids on small or long trips. It’s a plus if you only have two kids, they don’t have to share. This really took me by surprise, as its standard on the Titanium spec Endura. It’s hard to find these options on luxury SUV’s these days, and if you do they are usually expensive options.

Back in the front, I found myself on the fence about the gear selector dial. It was somewhat like the Jaguar/Land Rover gear selector dial, with a lot more chrome. The functionality worked ok, and the removed gear stick made the cabin feel more open. Over the course of the week, I got used to it, with my actions become more fluid. I did put it in the park a lot when looking for reverse. This happened on sunny days when it became impossible to see the light in the dial so that you could see what selection you had made.

The central media screen in was a bit disappointing when you put it in perspective to the rest of the vehicle. It’s a full-colour LCD screen, and the UI or interface has been designed to use around 3 shades of blue. The only app the seemed to use more colours was the navigation map. This made the interface feel very dated. When compared to other SUVs at this price tag, their interfaces are more visually appealing and colourful.

Where the media screen lacked the B&O 12-speaker audio system made up. For those who don’t know, B&O is a top-shelf brand that caters for the upper class with an expensive line of audio equipment. The system in the Endura was impressive, sound quality was great, clarity was amazing and the bass was perfect. It has to be the best sound system available in this price bracket.

The panoramic glass sunroof was perfect, almost the full length of the main cabin. My one and a half-year-old daughter loved this, especially in the rain. This is an impressive option to have as a standard spec level, in many other vehicles, even more, expensive vehicles it would be a $3k-$5k option.

Navigating the menus and options was easy enough by the touch screen. There was a home screen that shows the map on half of the screen and on the other side the radio and phone linked via Bluetooth. All of the features and options are typical of this kind of vehicle, with only one odd item encountered. When using my phone, the previous dialled list reset every time I started the car. It did not seem to source the list of dialled numbers from my phone. Hopefully, this is an option, but I was unable to find anything.

The driver information cluster was nice, oddly more thought-out compared to the central media screen. On the left, you have an RPM gauge and on the right, you have a speedo. Within and between these dials, there are LCD screens. Inside the speedometer, there is a display that indicates what safety systems are enabled; lane assist, cruise control, etc.

There is also the fuel gauge at the bottom of this display. In the middle there is a menu that allows you to select and display different information, I left this on the digital speedo most of the time. On the right, it displayed a needle for the RPM gauge, however, when selected you could display other info like the fuel consumption.  

The rear seats have a typical 60/40 split, which also allowed the seat back to be adjusted for comfort. When the seats are up, the boot boasts an impressive 800-litre capacity. And when the back seats are down, this grows to a whopping 1688 litres. There won’t be many things you can’t fit in the back of this SUV. We found the boot space really good even with a large buggy. If there are items in the back, you can cover them with a pull-over parcel shelf.

The Drive

Behind the wheel of the new Endura, you felt in control and safe. Visibility was good all around, aided the standard blind spot monitoring system and cross traffic alerts systems. This beast is actually nice and easy to drive.

Power from the diesel engine was great. Nothing mind-blowing, but its 140kW of power and 400Nm of torque never felt sluggish. What was also nice about this engine, is that it didn’t really sound like a diesel. It did not sound as quiet as a petrol engine, but it was somewhere in between. Diesel is great for range, and over the week in the Endura, and the 400km I travelled, there was still more than half a tank left. Ford state it has a 6.7 L/100km combined fuel rating, I managed to maintain 8.2 L/100km. I felt this was pretty good for such a large vehicle, however I think if the engine came with auto stop/start it would help to improve those real-world figures.

The ride was great, very comfy, with enough feel from the road to allow feedback. The vehicle itself felt high, but there was a distinct lack of body roll during my daily drives. I was never left feeling that I needed to hang on to the wheel as we went around the next bend. The ride quality was also reflected in the sound level within the cabin. Road noise was minimal and wind noise was barely audible. This was a very peaceful, relaxing place to be.

The steering wheel had a lot going on, most of it was easy to use. The buttons under the left and right direction thumb toggles where a bit awkward to get at. I found that I had to lift my hand from gripping the wheel just to trigger some of these buttons. There is room to simplify this, as I feel they might have tried to put too many buttons on the wheel. Of course, it also has paddle gear selectors on the wheel, why we will never know. It’s just not required on this sort of vehicle.

One item that surprised me for the spec and price of the Titanium, was that it did not come with any auto-hold park-brake. Really… almost every other SUV on the market has this, why doesn’t the Endura? I found this out the hard way too when getting out of the vehicle on my driveway which has a slight incline. The entire vehicle rolled forward until the park gear kicked into place. This seems like an oversight to me, why not have this, when there are so many other options in the Titanium-spec Endura.

In the centre of the new gear shift selector was a button labelled with an S. This can only be Sport mode, and it wouldn’t be right of me not to fully test this feature. Before testing this I remembered that it’s diesel and not a performance diesel. I set my expectations low and pressed it. It was a good thing I did have low expectations, as the only thing that changed was the gear change, remaining longer in a lower gear for higher RPM. I am not even sure if it was responding faster or just being noisier. Thankfully I knew to go into this part of the test, it was not a sporty vehicle.

Over the week, I started to notice a sloshing sound, at first I didn’t know where or what it was. But then it clicked, it was the diesel in the tank moving around. It’s been a long time since I have heard the fuel in a car moving around, and very surprised that I heard it in this vehicle.

The Endura is a big vehicle, but it’s not as big as it feels. I am used to driving many different sizes of vehicles, and this was one of the first that I was unsure about in multi-storey car parks. I found that the curve of the bonnet towards the centre and the high position of it, made it feel like the front was further away from the driver. The large windscreen and its position aided this feeling too. I got used to it, but there were a few moments with my head out the window to check for the kerbs on the multi-story ramps.

The Competition

It’s great to see that there are still some large SUVs that are not forcing you to have seven seats. If you don’t want seven seats or even need them, why waste the space and cost on having them? This is a great small family large SUV, something which is becoming harder to get these days. The downside to this price bracket is that the competition has a lot of really great alternative options.

Large SIze SUV (5 Seats)

Brand / Model Engine Power kW/Nm Fuel L/100km Number of seats Boot Capacity Litres Price Highest to Lowest
Mercedes-Benz GLC 250d 2.2-litre 4 cylinder turbo diesel 150kW/500Nm 5.7 5 550 $99,3600
VWTouareg TDI V6 3.0l V6 turbodiesel 170kW/500Nm 8. 5 810 $94,190
Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 3.0l V6 turbodiesel 184kW/570Nm 7.5 5 782 $84,990
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Diesel 2.2-litre 4 cylinder turbo diesel 154kW/470Nm 4.8 5 525 $79,990
Land Rover Discovery Sport 2.0-litre 4 cylinder turbo diesel 110kW/430Nm 6.5 5 525 $78,500
Ford Endura Titanium AWD 2.0L Turbo Diesel Engine 140kW/400Nm 6.7 5 800 $69,990
Nissan Pathfinder Ti 4WD 3.5-litre, petrol V6 202Kw/340Nm 10.1 5 453 $69,990
Holden Equniox LTZ-V 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, turbocharged petrol 188Kw/353Nm 8.4 5 846 $56,990

Pros Cons
  • Great equipment level
  • Smooth ride
  • Luxury feel and comfy interior
  • Open and spacious inside
  • Modern strong styling
  • Massive boot space
  • Good build quality
  • Lots of storage and cubbies
  • Central display already feels dated
  • Feel bigger then it is (high bonnet)
  • Gear selector dial, hard to see selection light
  • Hearing diesel sloshing around in the fuel tank
  • No auto hold electric park handbrake

What do we think?

There is a lot that I liked about the new Ford Endura, how it looked, its ride and the spec level. But like most of us, we are not perfect. There are some niggly things that took the shine off its overall appeal. None of them are deal breakers, hopefully, these items will be addressed in the next update. I say that because the Endura is a really good SUV, but it wouldn’t take much to make it a great SUV

I enjoyed my time driving the Ford Endura, it’s comfy, spacious and practical. Overall this new SUV is a head-turning modern SUV for today’s small family. A fitting model to carry on from the legacy of the old Ford Territory,

If you’re looking for a large 5 seater SUV, you have to try it. You might find that this one ticks all of your boxes.

Rating – Chevron rating 4 out of 5


2019 Ford Endura Titanium AWD

Vehicle Type All-wheel drive 5-door SUV
Starting Price $69,990
Price as Tested $69,990
Engine 2.0L Turbo Diesel Engine
Power, Torque 140kW/400Nm
Transmission 8-speed automatic transmission
Spare Wheel Space Saver
Kerb Weight, Kg 2017
Length x Width x Height, mm 4834 x 1981 x 1741
Cargo Capacity, litres 800 litres

1688 litres (second row seats down)

Fuel tank capacity, litres 64 litres
Fuel Economy, L/100km Advertised Spec – Combined – 6.7 L / 100km

Real World Test – Combined – 8.2 L / 100km

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

Towing Capacity

Kg, unbraked/braked

Turning circle, metres 11.6

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

Warranty 3 years FREE Servicing

5 year Factory Warranty

ANCAP Safety Ratings 5 Star


]]> 0
2018 Toyota Corolla Hatch ZR Hybrid – Car Review – Could have been a hot hatch Sun, 31 Mar 2019 22:45:23 +0000 We have seen the Toyota Corolla Hatch SX before, and now we take a look at the other end of the scale at the ZR Hybrid.

2018 Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid Hatch


The Range

The Corolla does come in hatch, sedan and wagon variants, but we are just going to focus on the hatch, otherwise we will be here all day. It does show though how versatile the Corolla really is by coming in so many different sizes. Surely there is one for everyone.

So onto the hatches; even here you have a wide selection to pick from: there are 2 categories, the petrol set have the GX, SX and ZR and the hybrid set have the GX and ZR. Let’s go through them.

Starting with the petrol set, we have the GX at $29,990. The GX is the base model Corolla hatch and comes with the 2-litre 4-cylinder engine which has 125kW of power and 200Nm of torque, 16” silver metallic alloy wheels, triple LED parabola headlights, air conditioning, black fabric seats, 8” colour TFT touchscreen display with 6 speaker radio, Bluetooth, SUNA satellite Navigation and a reversing camera.

Moving onto the SX, which starts at $32,490 and is the middle of the petrol range for the Corolla hatch. It is fairly similar to the GX with some of the differences being the addition of paddle shifters on the now leather steering wheel, accompanied by a leather gear knob. Some of the other features of the SX are auto folding mirrors, push button start, auto dual zone a/c, Qi wireless charger and a smart key.

2018 Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid Hatch

And finally for the petrol range we have the ZR coming in at $37,490. Again the ZR comes with a lot of the same things as the SX except for 18” dark silver metallic alloys, LED headlights, sports front seats (which can be black or black/red leather suede accents and heated), soft synthetic leather door trim, synthetic leather front armrests with contrasting stitching, piano black front door garnish with satin silver accents, black headlining, satin silver plated door handles, auto dimming rear view mirror, 8 speaker JBL radio, three-ring meter with 7.0” colour multi-information display, and colour head-up display.

Now to take a look at the hybrid side of the line up. There are only 2 hybrid models, the GX Hybrid and the ZR Hybrid.

The GX HYBRID at $32,990 is almost identical to the petrol version except for the obvious engine change, now being a 1.8-litre petrol hybrid engine with a total output of 90kW, it also gets the push button start and dual zone A/C.

The ZR HYBRID at $38,490 follows the petrol ZR exactly coming with all of the same features, the only difference being the hybrid engine.

2018 Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid Hatch

First Impressions

There is only one first impression you can have with this car: red leather interior. Normally we would only really be talking about the exterior but you can see the red leather from the outside so I have not wavered too far off course, more on that later. Back to the looks of the car, simply it looks great. It really has stepped out of the norm for what a normal hatch should look like and I appreciate it. It’s aggressive yet won’t kill you, it’s almost space age design yet still modern.

The ZR came in Crystal Pearl, which is one of those colors that seems to move around in the white spectrum depending on what the light outside is doing. Sometimes it’s a brilliant white and other times it’s almost grey.

2018 Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid Hatch

The Inside

Now back to the red leather. It is by far one of the most striking things that you see when you first open the door which does make it stand out but also makes you think, this is different than normal for a family hatch. And you would be right – this is no ordinary family hatch.

First of all you’re getting leather and suede seats and leather steering wheel. Your instrument cluster has a 7-inch screen for all your important information. You have an 8-inch touch screen display for your infotainment system with 8 JBL speakers.

Below that you have all your a/c controls and then your wireless phone charger and next to that are the controls for the heated seats. The cream of the crop of technology in this car is the colour Heads Up Display (HUD). I feel this is insane to be able to get not as an optional extra and for only $38,490. It’s not that long about you would be looking to spend close to $100,000 if not more for all of these features.

2018 Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid Hatch

Now you might be thinking this sounds all too good to be true, and there are some drawbacks. The first loss you have is the rear seats. There really is not a lot of leg room back there. Even less so if you have me (6”5’) in the driver seat, nobody could sit behind me. But even with a “normal” sized person the the front passenger seat it would really only be kids and other “normal” sized people would fit but I would not want to be there for a long trip.

The second loss some might say is the size of the boot which is up to 300 litres over its GX brother, but still one of the smallest in class. This can be a personal thing however. If you’re not one for wanting to be always able to carry a lot of things then for the most part you would most likely be fine. If you have kids with big sports bags or need it to carry the golf clubs every weekend then you might have a bit of a disadvantage.

2018 Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid Hatch

The Drive

Another added feature of the Corolla is keyless entry and push button start, which makes life a breeze, you no longer have to take keys out to unlock or start the car, you just have to have them on you. I just need to get the same setup on my house and then I will never need to find my keys again, just need to know they are on me somewhere.

Starting that car you get a nice little chime and a start up animation happens on the instrument cluster and on the HUD simultaneously. As usual with Hybrids, you’re then left in silence, with a little “ready” message on the screen telling you the car is ready to drive.

Pulling away even gently you may not notice the electric engine kick in and make that first initial movement seem so smooth before handing back to the petrol engine. It just makes for a much more enjoyable and smooth acceleration. To be able to achieve this in cars before electric engines, they would have had to put a massive engine just so it would have the high amount of torque needed to move off slowly at such low revs.

Of course if you want to be a little more spirited with your driving then the electric engine also helps here by giving you again that first initial bit of power the same moment your foot goes presses on the accelerator. This allows the car to rev up the engine to give you the power you wanted but without you having to wait for it.

2018 Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid Hatch

And then on the other side you can be green, sitting in the car in silence with while stuck in slow moving or stopped traffic. It’s the best of both worlds, I for one can’t wait to see what is coming in the next 10 years in the automotive industry as we look to more electric and hybrid power.

Anyway speaking of silence, that is another thing with the new Corolla Hatch. They seem to have some serious sound deadening, when you close the window it’s almost like you have turned on some noise cancelling headphones. Makes its really easy to have a conversation without having to shout over road noise and just makes your trip even more calming, even if you are stuck in traffic going nowhere.

Over the time I had the ZR for review I kept coming back to one thought: God what would this be like if they stuck a turbo on it. I really want to know because I feel this car with a turbo would be up there with a Golf GTI the long time reigning king of Hot Hatches. I the fact that I own one personally should give you some idea that that was not easy for me to say. But I truly mean it, if this had a turbo I think it would be a car worthy of a shot at the King’s crown, and lets not forget you would be saving about $16,000. That’s something to think about. That is only compared to a GTI, we don’t have the GTE in NZ but that would probably be a little bit more again.

2018 Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid Hatch

The Competition

Brand/Model Engine Power/Torque kW/Nm Fuel, L/100km Boot Space, Litres Price Highest to Lowest
Audi A3 Sportback e-tron 1.4L Turbo Petrol + Hybrid 150/350


1.7 280 $69,900
Mini Countryman SE All4 1.5 litre Petrol + Hybrid 165/385 2.3 405 $59,990
Hyundai IONIQ 1.6 Hybrid 1.6L Petrol 77/147 3.4 443 $46,990
Toyota Corolla Hatch ZR Hybrid 1.8L Petrol + Hybrid Not available 4.2 300 $38,490


The pros and cons

Pros Cons
  • Looks great and good colour
  • Good fuel economy
  • Lots of technology
  • SatNav being available
  • Keyless entry and push button start
  • Quiet on the road
  • Easy to park
  • Not much rear legroom
  • Small boot
  • SatNav not user friendly
  • No Android Auto or Apple Carplay
  • Not a Hot Hatch
  • No parking sensors

2018 Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid Hatch

What we think

I was surprised how much difference there was between the SX tested previously to this ZR Hybrid of the Corolla Hatch. Considering there is only $6000 between them they are 2 vastly different cars. To me it is well worth the money to upgrade to this car for all the extra features you get plus hybrid to help you save a little more on fuel. There are a few things letting it down, even some simple ones like parking sensors but overall this is a brilliant piece of kit for the money


Rating – Chevron rating (4 out of 5)

2018 Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid Hatch

2018 Toyota Corolla Hatch ZR Hyrbrid


Vehicle Type Hatch
Starting Price $38,490 plus on-road costs
Tested Price $38,490 plus on-road costs
Engine 1.8 -litre 4-cylinder, In-line, 16-valve double overhead cam

Toyota Hybrid System 90kW

Power kW / Torque Nm N/A
Transmission Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission
0 – 100 kph, seconds N/A
Spare Wheel Space Saver
Kerb Weight, Kg 1360
Length x Width x Height, mm 4370 x 1790 x 1435
Cargo Capacity, litres 300 seats up
Fuel Tank, litres 50
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – Combined – 4.2 L / 100km

Real World Test – Combined –  5.4 L / 100km

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

Towing Not Rated
Turning circle 9.4m

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

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


]]> 0
2019 Kia Rio GT Line – New Car Review – new and (mostly) improved Thu, 28 Mar 2019 01:39:46 +0000 There’s a new Kia Rio in town, and at last it’s got some guts to go with the looks – and it needed it. When we tested the Rio Limited back in 2017, the 74kW motor and 4-speed automatic meant it was a car that would struggle everywhere.

Not so with the new model – at least in the GT Line version. With its 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder turbo-petrol motor and 7-speed automatic, it has the potential to actually match its looks.

But – will it deliver?

The Range

There’s five models to pick from in the Kia Rio range; LX manual ($22,490), LX automatic ($23,490), EX automatic ($25,990), LTD automatic ($26,990), and then the top of the range, GT Line automatic ($28,990). Interesting that the GT line is exactly $1,000 cheaper than the Suzuki Swift Sport auto.

All but the GT Line share the same 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder engine from the previous model, with no change in that 74kW power output. At least though that 4-speed automatic gearbox has gone, and in its place is a 6-speed auto. Much better. In the LX manual model, it’s a 6-speed manual ‘box.

The GT Line does away with the 1.4, and instead has a 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder turbo petrol engine, with just 14kW more power. But the ace up its sleeve is torque; the 1.4 models output 133Nm of torque, and the GT Line bumps this up to 171Nm – extremely respectable for a 1.0-litre engine.

Fuel economy for the 1.4s is 5.6 for the manual, and 6.0 for the auto. The GT Line should return 5.4L/100km, according to Kia.

Rims on the base LX are 15” alloys, the EX models move up to 16” and the LTD and GT Line goes one more inch to 17” alloys.

It may be a small car, but there’s still lots of safety assist features, as well as comfort items. Standard equipment across the range includes Autonomous Emergency Braking, lane keep assist, blind spot detection, hill start assist, remote keyless entry, reversing camera with moving guidelines, leather steering wheel, a 7” colour touchscreen, 6-speaker audio, cruise control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, AUX/UB inputs, steering wheel mounted controls for audio and cruise control, aircon, and automatic headlights.

If you stump your cash to get the EX model, you’ll also get LED rear taillights, Satnav with SUNA live traffic updates, auto windscreen defog, auto-dipping rear view mirror, auto wipers, and push-button start.

The LTD model then adds LED DRLs, automatic headlamp levelling, projector headlights, privacy glass, and alloy pedals.

The GT line doesn’t add too much to this, other than the different engine/transmission combo. But you do get Kia’s signature quad LED front fog lights, a roof spoiler, dual exhausts, and a D-shaped steering wheel.

First Impressions

Funny that our 2019 test car was finished in the same metallic Signal Red that our 2017 test car was. And it looked just as good too, especially at the front with Kia’s signature for the GT Line model – four LED fog lights. They look sporty as hell, and set the front of the car off nicely.

For the GT Line, there’s a ‘gloss black and satin chrome tiger nose grille’, a gloss black roof spoiler, and unique 17” alloy wheels.

The rear looks a little sporty with dual exhaust tips, and a more rounded design than the previous model.

There’s 8 colours to choose from, all of them subdued colours like silver, black, grey. But there is a white, ‘Urban Green’ and a striking Spring Yellow. The Rio is definitely one of those cars that suits a brighter colour.

It’s hard to deny the 2019 Kia Rio GT Line isn’t a good-looking car.

The Inside

An all-black interior is always a hard sell – but at least the Rio has a beige headlining to lighten up the interior. I expect Kia was going for a sporty look with the all black as well, and from the inside you can see straight away who they are targeting: Suzuki Swift Sport buyers.

Nice to see some contrasting stitching on the seats and steering wheel, and there’s also some grey piping on the seats to help break up the black.

The leather, flat-bottom steering wheel – complete with GT Line logo, and alloy bits – feels nice to the touch, and is just the right size.

Up on the dash is what I think is supposed to be some carbon fibre, that Kia calls a “carbon-fibre effect finish”. It sort of looks like that, but it does have a textured finish to it. As soon as any passengers get into the Rio GT Line, their hand moves up to have a feel of it.

There’s a 7” central display of nice clarity, and again standard Kia infotainment system, complete with SatNav built-in. Also standard is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, kudos to Kia for making sure these are included.

Looking down, no fancy-pants electric handbrake here – Kia have stuck to an old-school manual handbrake, perhaps expecting a few handbrake slides, or just to save money. Still, it’s easy to use, and falls to hand nicely.

You get a single front USB and AUX posts up front, the first two things in any car my daughter looks for.

For a car under $30K, there’s a good mix of different plastics used, although it borders on just a few too many hard plastics. You can see that Kia have had a crack at making the GT Line sporty – the contrasting stitching, the alloy pedals, and the, uh. Actually that’s about it as far as the interior goes. You don’t get red-backed gauges like the Swift Sport, or the in-your-face splashes of red in the cabin.

Rear legroom is about right for this class of car, but it’d be tight if you had a tall driver in there.  The boot feels big, and is certainly bigger than the Swift, when it’s 325 vs 265 litres. Far bigger too than the 2019 Corolla, with its 208-litre boot space.

The Drive

Instantly, this is a better car than the last one I drove. I still remember my last test Rio – I accelerated (generous term) away from the dealership, and knew it was going to be a slow week.

Not so the GT Line – that little, 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo motor is as eager as hell, just wanting to go. It’s such a world away from my last Rio experience it’s not funny. It may only have 88kW of power – just 14kW more than the 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder – but it now has 171Nm of torque, up from 133Nm.

So, yes – it’s not got a whole lot more power, but it does have a whole lot more torque, and it shows. This is the little engine that could, and matched up (finally) with a 7-speed auto, it can be a great combination.

I say ‘can be’, as there are some issues with everyday driveability of the GT Line. To put it nicely, it can be a jerky drive, especially around town. We’re used to some jerkiness in dual-clutch (DCT) automatic gearboxes, and the GT Line is certainly in there with the same problem. The engine – while being so much better than the 74kW version – doesn’t help here, with a lumpy idle at times, and while it can sound nice and rorty like only a 3-cylinder can, it can also be quite vocal.

Speaking of vocal, the level of tyre and road noise is on the high side too, and coarse chip seal will see a reasonable amount of noise generated by the Continental tyres.

But I do have to give it credit where it’s due, accelerating hard on an onramp will give you some nice engine noise, and on the motorway it’s a serene ride. But it’s the jerkiness I keep coming back to – a good first effort, but needs refining.

So that little engine gives the car some credibility to wear a GT badge, but I was confused about the rest of it. There’s no paddle shifters, there’s no Sport mode for the transmission. You do get dual exhaust tips for that GT touch, but there’s not too much else which says it has the right to wear a GT badge. Kia claims this is because it’s not a ‘proper’ GT model, hence “GT Line”. Apparently, it’s for models “that have sporty styling and equipment, rather than true GT performance.” But for most of us, when you stick GT on the badge, it should be a GT.

Even though there are no paddles, the shifter falls perfectly to your hand, and has a nice feel to it. There is a manual mode at least, even if there is no Sport mode.

On the daily drive, it’s mostly good with generally excellent visibility out of the car, except for a bit of a chunky C pillar, but blind spot monitoring as standard helps here. The ride can be pretty jiggly at low speeds, which can be a little wearing after a while. The suspension itself is quiet, but potholes and other imperfections on the road will be felt. This all feels the same as the previous model.

The dashboard is extremely clear and uncluttered, with a big digital speedo right in the middle.

The steering wheel controls are standard Kia fare, and work very well. After a few hours with the Rio, I barely ever looked down at the controls again. Having an up/down control for volume, track/station and speed for the cruise control is how it should be.

Speaking of cruise control, there’s no adaptive cruise here, just standard cruise. This is certainly where the Swift (even the mid-spec model has adaptive cruise) and Corolla (standard across the range) have it over the Rio.

The infotainment system too is standard Kia, and works simply. I still like how easy Kia makes it easy to be able to split the screen, so you can have SatNav on one side, and audio on the other for example. When using the SatNav, you get nice, big graphics of motorway interchanges and lanes so you know exactly where you need to be. A shame though that the turn-by-turn directions aren’t given in the driver’s information display.

The stereo was a revelation for a car at this price point. There’s excellent separation, with clear output at higher frequencies through the tweeters mounted in the A pillars. Thankfully, the Rio reconnects to Bluetooth quickly and automatically when you get back in the car. I see in my review of the previous model this was an issue, so great to see manufacturers listening, and making changes.

Fuel economy in a 1-litre car should be good, but add a turbo and it’s going to have some effect on that. Over my 300km in a week, I managed 7.1l/100km. A fair way from Kia’s claim of 5.4, but well over half my driving was city bound, so that’s going to have some bearing on it.

The Competition

It may cost more, but the Polo GTI with 320Nm of torque is a great benchmark.

Brand/Model Engine Power/Torque


Number of seats Cargo capacity, litres Fuel L/100km Base Price – High to Low
VW Polo GTI 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo 147/320 5 351 4.7 $38,990
Toyota Corolla ZR hatchback 1.8-litre, 4-cylinder /hybrid 72/142 5 208 4.2 $38,490
Suzuki Swift Sport 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder turbo 103/230 5 265 6.1 $29,990
Mazda 2 Limited 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder 81/141 5 250 4.9 $29,695
Kia Rio GT Line 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder turbo 88/171 5 325 5.4 $28,990
Peugeot 208 Allure Puretech 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder turbo 81/205 5 348 4.5 $27,990
Skoda Fabia MPI Sport 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder 81/200 5 330 5.9 $26,990

The Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
  • Performance for engine size
  • Fun drive
  • Design
  • Steering wheel controls
  • Simple infotainment operation
  • Jerky at low speeds
  • Engine can be noisy, lumpy
  • Top spec but no adaptive cruise control
  • Road and tyre noise
  • Doesn’t feel like a GT
  • Jiggly ride

The Verdict

It’s funny how on paper, you read about a car and believe it’s going to be so good. I found this same scenario with the Kia Soul. I liked the 2.0-litre Soul, but it was fairly slow. Then the Soul Turbo came along and I thought ‘this is it’. But it wasn’t quite as I had expected.

It’s the same with the Rio GT Line; great specs on paper, but the coarseness of the engine and the jerkiness of the transmission let it down.

It’s still very much a fun drive, and has a lot going for it, but I think I’ll wait for the next new-and-improved version to come out. If Kia can refine this car some, it will have a nice car in its hands.


2019 Kia Rio GT Line

3.5 Chevrons

Vehicle Type Small, 5-door hatchback
Starting Price $28,990
Price as Tested $28,990
Engine 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder turbo petrol
Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch (DCT) automatic
Power, Torque 88/171
Spare Wheel Space saver
Kerb Weight, Kg 1,195
Length x Width x Height, mm 4065x1725x1450
Cargo Capacity, litres 325/980
Fuel Economy, L/100km Advertised Spec – combined –  5.4

Real World Test – combined – 7.1

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

Fuel tank capacity, litres 45
Towing Capacity

Kg, unbraked/braked

Turning circle, metres 10.2

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

Warranty 5 years, 100,000km

5 years Roadside Assist

ANCAP Safety Ratings 5 Star


]]> 0
Project Gigawatt – Back to the Future Delorean – Issue no.1 – 10 Mon, 25 Mar 2019 22:45:47 +0000 I have been a car and movie geek for as long as I can remember and for over the last 20 years I have been collecting 1:19 scale diecast models with over 70 model cars in my collection. After seeing the advert to build a 1:8 scale version of the Back to the Future Delorean from My Collectables, I said ‘that’s for me’.

Before we go too far, let’s get the critics and haters out of the way. Yes there are 130 issues, yes it will take over 2 years, and yes it does cost a bit. But like any business that’s selling a product for a profit, you don’t have to buy it if you don’t want too. You may want it, and you may think it’s expensive, but so are Lamborghinis. I would like one, but I can’t afford it and I don’t complain to them about how expensive they are.

So I thought it would be pretty cool to document this build just like some of the other build projects we have on DriveLife.  As there are a lot of issues, I thought it best to break these build articles down into groups of 10 issues, which allows me to go over a few of them in detail and the parts that have been delivered with them.

Once I signed up, I was not really sure what to expect, and one day a large box arrived at my door. In this box was the first 5 issues, and a lot of parts for the 1:8 scale model. Before opening any of the issues I could see that the parts were pretty well detailed. I was looking forward to the road ahead as the issues and parts continue to arrive.

As far as format goes, I thought I would break down each issue with a small description and photo of on what parts are in it and any other interesting info that tags along.

Issue 1 – Rear bumper, licence plate and right rear light

Right, here we go, into the frist collection of parts for the rear bumper. I was instantly happy with the level of quality of both the plastic and metal pieces. This issue comes with a nice screwdriver for assembly too. The large section of the rear bumper came together very easily, however the rear light and licence plate was a bit tricky. I did not see why they supplied two stickers to put on the licence plate, it was very fiddly due to the size, this could have been printed. The lights were tricky, but the detail was great, each section of the light getting the correct lens colour.

In issue 1 there is an interesting article on how they came up with the design for the time machine for the movie

Issue 2 – Right rear quarter panel and left rear light

The second issue was a bit quicker to make, as the rear quarter only had two plastic trim elements to assemble. It did however come with the rest of the rear lights to finish off the bumper and allow me to attach the license plate surround.

Issue 2 continues with interviews on how they designed the time machine.

Issue 3 – Front tyre

The front tyre was quick and easy to assemble, loving the detail on the exterior of the wheel hub and tyre wall.

Issue 3 covers the history of how Steven Spielberg became involved in the movie and how they cast the role for Marty McFly.

Issue 4 – Mr Fusion

This was the first issue to have a lot of small intricate pieces, I was looking forward to building Mr Fusion. This part was slow going, as you needed a bit of force to screw in the screw tight enough, but without breaking the pieces you are holding. There was also one rather fiddly bit where you needed to add two springs to the latch that held Mr Fusion in place. The only part of this I was not happy with was the lid of Mr Fusion, which just sat on, with nothing holding it in place. I could see this getting lost easily as it was clear plastic. I think I may find a way to attach it down the road.

Issue 4 covers how they came up with the details within the time machine and how they cast the role for Doc Brown.

Issue 5 – Left front suspension and brake

On to some more mechanical parts, building the first of the front suspension towers. This was a rather tricky piece, as the suspension spring was tough and needed a lot of force to hold down while it was screwed in place. A bit sore on the fingers due to the small parts, for any children out there, this is one for the grown ups to do. Loving the detail, and I noticed the brake disc is held in place by a magnet, allowing it to tilt down. This must be to allow the wheels to change to hover mode, nice.

Issue 5 has an article on how they cast the role for leading lady Lorranie Baines and how they developed the look for time travel.

Issue 6 – Right front suspension and brake

This was a rinse and repeat of the last issue, all the same problems and just as tricky. I manage to cut myself when the screwdriver slipped while attaching the suspension spring. It needs a lot of force and that screw driver is small and sharp.

Issue 6 has an article on how they cast the role for Biff Tannen and location scouting for the movie.

Issue 7 – Steering rack, linkage and front plate

Not a complex part to make but a tricky one to put together. The screws that attach the linkages need a bit of pressure, and as the rack always wants to roll out of the way it can be fiddly to get the screws locked in place.

Issue 7 has an article on how they cast the role for Principal Strickland and visual effects behind the famous time travel tyre flames.

Issue 8 – Anti-roll bar and bottom plate

There was not much to build in this issue, the bottom plate needs to plastic fixing plates attached and that’s it. The anti-roll bar is all plastic, so be careful with it, as you don’t want to break it.

Issue 8 has an article on how they cast the role for future girlfriend Claudia Wells and what it was like to drive the time machine.

Issue 9 – Front tyre

This is the same as the one in Issue 3, which now gives us both front tyres.

Issue 9 starts the first of the filming production diary.

Issue 10 – The frame

This is where the effort of the last 10 issues start to pay off. The main part supplied is the chassis frame. Which allows us to mount the left and right front suspension towers, steering rack and linkages, anti-roll bar, front plates and both front tyres.

Most parts went together as expected, however attaching the wheels was a lot trickier than expected, as the brake discs can fold out for hover mode, this means that it’s not a very stable part to work with. This also requires a lot of force to tighten up the screw so the wheel does not wobble. It was exciting to see it start to come together, and the scale and weight of the model.

Issue 10 continues the production diary and how they came up with Biff’s crew.

Models progress to date

It’s early days, but the first 10 issues have had some really interesting parts in it. It was great to get the frame, before having too many bits and pieces. I am really happy with the details and quality of the parts. I am looking forward to more of the body and what other mechanical challenges lay ahead.

]]> 0
2018 Toyota Corolla Hatch SX – Car Review – Has Everything Changed? Sun, 24 Mar 2019 22:45:04 +0000 Toyota’s new Corolla Hatch as been launched with the slogan of “Nothing’s changed, except everything”. Let’s dive into the 2018 Corolla Hatch SX and see if this is true.

2018 Toyota Corolla SX Hatch

The Range

Having a closer look at the Corolla range. The Corolla does come in hatch, sedan and wagon variants, but we are just going to focus on the hatch otherwise we will be here all day. It does show though how versatile the Corolla really is by coming in so many different sizes. Surely there is one for everyone.

So onto the hatches; even here you have a wide selection to pick from: there are 2 categories, the petrol set have the GX, SX and ZR and the hybrid set have the GX and ZR. Let’s go through them.

Starting with the petrol set, we have the GX at $29,990. The GX is the base model Corolla hatch and comes with the 2-litre 4-cylinder engine which has 125kW of power and 200Nm of torque, 16” silver metallic alloy wheels, triple LED parabola headlights, air conditioning, black fabric seats, 8” colour TFT touchscreen display with 6 speaker radio, Bluetooth, SUNA satellite Navigation and a reversing camera.

Moving onto the SX, which starts at $32,490 and is the middle of the petrol range for the Corolla hatch. It is fairly similar to the GX with some of the differences being the addition of paddle shifters on the now leather steering wheel, accompanied by a leather gear knob. Some of the other features of the SX are auto folding mirrors, push button start, auto dual zone a/c, Qi wireless charger and a smart key.

And finally for the petrol range we have the ZR coming in at $37,490. Again the ZR comes with a lot of the same things as the SX except for 18” dark silver metallic alloys, LED headlights, sports front seats which can be black or black/red leather suede accents and heated, soft synthetic leather door trim, synthetic leather front armrests with contrast stitching, piano black front door garnish with satin silver accents; black headlining; satin silver plated door handles, auto dimming rear view mirror, 8 speaker JBL radio, three-ring meter with 7.0” colour multi-information display, and colour head-up display.

Now to take a look at the hybrid side of the line up. There are only 2 hybrid models, the GX Hybrid and the ZR Hybrid.

The GX Hybrid at $32,990 is almost identical to the petrol version except for the obvious engine change, now being a 1.8-litre petrol hybrid engine with a total output of 90kW, it also gets the push button start and dual zone A/C.

The ZR Hybrid at $38,490 follows the petrol ZR exactly coming with all of the same features, the only difference being the hybrid engine.

2018 Toyota Corolla SX Hatch

First Impressions

My first impressions is of the colour, Volcanic Red. This is a great colour really sticks out and makes the car look great. The colour really highlights the curves and sharp angles that the car has which I feel would be lost in some of the darker colours.

Looking at the car from the rear, I do get reminded of hints of the Mk2 Seat Leon R which also had the vertical slits in the bumper that were made to look like air vents. The Corolla has smaller, less prominent vertical slits in the rear bumper which act as rear reflectors. But the same really rounded rear corners as the Seat.

The other thing I noticed while looking at the back was the rear lip; the rear bumper pushes out about 4-5 inches from where it meets with the boot lid when closed, I felt it was a strange design choice but what would I know about design? ha ha.

Looking around the rest of the car you can see it is a Corolla, you can see the progression of the design over the last few years just getting in more sharp angles and longer curves.

2018 Toyota Corolla SX Hatch

The Inside

Getting inside the SX Hatch it’s a nice clean and simple layout. The cloth seats are good with a somewhat hexagon pattern on the inserts which I liked, almost reminded me of my Golf GTi’s front grille.

Once you are seated you are greeted by the leather steering wheel and large speedo of the instrument cluster, which is a nice touch that does make you feel like you are not in a base model car. To the left of the large centre speed dial is the rev counter and then to the right of it is the 4.2” colour Multi-Information Display.

In the centre you have the 8” touchscreen display for the radio/multimedia system which unfortunately does not support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The lack of support for this still baffles me in the Toyota line-up. However they do have support for mobile assistance function for Apple Siri and Google Now, which can aid you in replying to messages hands-free.

Toyota have covered SatNav themselves which, let’s remember not too long ago used to be a luxury but is now available even in their base model GX. I have discussed Toyota’s SatNav before in the Toyota Camry hybrid SX and unsurprisingly being it has only been a month or so since I drove it there is not much difference in the system. It was still not too intuitive to use and it still had areas that were out of date by a fair bit. So I won’t go on about it again but it would be nice to see some updated maps at least.

2018 Toyota Corolla SX Hatch

Below the centre console is another great feature to see in cars of this price range, a wireless Qi phone charger. These can be great as it removes the nastiness of messy wires dangling around and enables you to always get a top up of power on the go. The problem however that most Qi car chargers have including this Corolla is that you need the phone to be in a small area for it to charge. Unfortunately as soon as you drive off or go around a corner, not even at any great speed the phone slides out of the charging area and you are no longer getting a charge. It might be better if your phone case had a more grippy surface like a leather case or similar. But I do not, I just have a plastic case and my phone was sliding all over the place.

The only other safety issue I have with how some of the Qi chargers are implemented is that I feel they should have a cover or as some have done but them inside the armrest, so that if you are in an accident the phone does not become a projectile inside the cabin causing more harm.

You do find when you get around to the boot that there is one downside with it. The boot is smaller than average. The main reason for this is that to accommodate the spare tyre they have had to raise the floor of the boot. So it is smaller but being honest I never found that I was left not having enough space. Granted I did not pick up a bunch of people from the airport or get a couple bags of compost from the garden centre but for most day to day use for me it was fine. I dont have one to test with but I image it might be a tight squeeze for a buggy.

2018 Toyota Corolla SX Hatch

The Drive

Getting on the road the car feels good, the steering is light and easy, which is what you want for a small city car to get you through all the twisty streets back alleys and parking structures.

Speaking of parking this thing is so easy to park; first it’s a hatch so makes it easy for parking anyway and it’s got a good turning circle of 9.4m which made it a breeze getting in and out of some of the tightest parking spots I know in wellington.

On thinking back about driving this car I actually found it hard to come up with talking points. In some cases you might think that is good there was nothing wrong and you would be right. I found it easy to drive and very little effort was needed to drive it even in slow inner city traffic.

The other side of things does point out that there was also nothing incredibly memorable about driving this hatch, which for me is not the best because I am such a hot-hatch fan – but this is not a hot hatch so it does not need to be aggressive and be able to attack every corner. It needs to be easy to get used to, easy to drive, easy to park and not make it feel like you’re driving a tank.

And the Corolla does all those things. It’s not trying to be fast and flash and lairy it’s performing a function and it performs it well. One thing that I did remember however, was the lack of road noise. It was really quiet inside which is unusual for somewhat entry-level family hatch, especially with New Zealand’s notoriously noisy roads. I have driven cars twice the price of this and they were not as quiet, so it did make for a pleasant driving experience.

2018 Toyota Corolla SX Hatch

One other point I would like to talk about is something that has a been a bit of theme in small family cars of late: adding a “Sport” button. To me the engines in these cars are made to be just right, to have the right amount of power to be able to do what you need but also tuned to not be having to use masses amounts of fuel to achieve it. The engines are built for purpose, so I get a little confused when the go and put a sport button in the car.

I will be honest, I kind of forgot the sport button was even there for the first few days but when I did remember it, I tried it out and not a lot happened. The accelerator might have gotten a hair more responsive and the engine held on to lower gears a bit longer but it was not like it changed the dynamics of the car a whole lot. It would be just a ‘feel better’ kind of button, just giving you the satisfaction of having pushed it.

Flip over now to economy, I found over the course of the week that I had it I did a fair bit more of city driving than highway driving. So having the hybrid would have helped here but even at that I probably only used about ⅓ of a tank of fuel. My final score for fuel economy was 7L/100km, which is about what I would expect for my driving when 6L/100km is the advertised number.

2018 Toyota Corolla SX Hatch

The Competition

Brand/Model Engine Power/Torque Fuel, L/100km Boot Space, Litres Price Highest to Lowest
Audi A3 Sportback 1.4L Turbo Petrol 110kW/250Nm 4.9 380 $50,900
Mercedes A180 1.6L Turbo Petrol 90kW/200Nm 5.8 340 $49,800
VW Golf TSI Comfortline DSG 1.4L Turbo Petrol 92kW/200Nm 5.5 380 $37,490
Seat Leon 1.4 Turbo Petrol 110kW/250Nm 4.9 380 $35,900
Hyundai 1.6 Hatch 1.6L Petrol 94kW/156Nm 6.8 395 $35,990
Ford Focus Trend 1.5L EcoBoost Petrol 132kW/240Nm 6.7 316 $35,340
Toyota Corolla Hatch SX 2.0L Petrol 125kW/200Nm 6.0 208 $32,490
Honda Civic SX Hatch 1.8L Petrol 104kW/174Nm 6.4 400 $32,990
Mazda 3 GLX 2.0L Petrol 114kW/200Nm 5.8 308 $32,795
Holden Astra Hatch R 1.4L Turbo Petrol 110kW/240Nm 5.8 360 $30,990
Skoda Rapid Sport Spaceback 1.4L Turbo Petrol 92kW/200Nm 5.5 415 $29,990
Suzuki Baleno GLX 1.4 VVT Petrol 103kW/220Nm 5.4 355 $23,990

2018 Toyota Corolla SX Hatch

The pros and cons

Pros Cons
  • Looks great and good colour
  • Good fuel economy
  • Good technology
  • SatNav being available
  • Keyless entry and push button start
  • Quiet on the road
  • Easy to park
  • Not much rear legroom
  • Small boot
  • Not exciting
  • Sport mode
  • SatNav not user friendly
  • No Android Auto or Apple Carplay

2018 Toyota Corolla SX Hatch

What we think

The Toyota Corolla Hatch SX is a good small hatch that has modern style and technology for a reasonable price. It is super easy to drive and very versatile for a small family. It is lacking a little bit in rear leg room so if your kids get a bit too tall it could be a problem. But with usable boot space and being so nimble and easy to drive the the Corolla SX makes for a good small family hatch. So I think I would have to agree nothing has changed, except everything.

Rating – Chevron rating (3.5 out of 5)


2018 Toyota Corolla Hatch SX


Vehicle Type Hatch
Starting Price $32,490 plus on-road costs
Tested Price $32,490 plus on-road costs
Engine 2 -litre 4-cylinder, In-line, 16-valve double overhead cam
Power kW / Torque Nm 125/200
Transmission Direct-shift Continuously Variable Transmission
0 – 100 kph, seconds N/A
Spare Wheel Space Saver
Kerb Weight, Kg 1360
Length x Width x Height, mm 4370 x 1790 x 1435
Cargo Capacity, litres 208 seats up
Fuel Tank, litres 50
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – Combined – 6.0 L / 100km

Real World Test – Combined –  7.0 L / 100km

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

Towing Maximum Braked: 1300kg

Maximum Unbraked: 450kg

Turning circle 9.4m

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

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


]]> 0
2018 Honda NSX – Car Review – The Best Super Sports Car Money Can’t Buy… Yet Sat, 23 Mar 2019 19:00:07 +0000 People don’t like things they don’t understand. I can’t recall any other supercar in recent years that’s been received with such mixed and divided opinions quite like the new Honda NSX. Some people loved it, some less so. It didn’t help that Honda had prolonged releasing the sequel to the iconic first-generation NSX for so long.

They had teased us with various concept cars and a racing car prototype that never ended up in production. At one point it was even rumoured to have a V10 engine to go head to head with the Lexus LFA but something called the global financial crisis happened and Honda had to take a step back and rethink their next move.


In 2012 Honda unveiled the NSX Concept at that year’s Detroit Motor Show to give a preview of what was to come. The production car was shown three years later at the 2015 Detroit Motor Show and went on sale in 2016. That is, except for New Zealand. Honda New Zealand have delayed the local launch of the NSX several times, despite it being available in Australia for some time now. So since I’m in Japan I thought I’d see what all the fuss was about.


The Range

Since the launch there’s only one variant of the NSX to keep it simple. You only get the choice of a coupe body style and one choice of drivetrain; a 3.5-litre twin-twin-turbo V6 assisted by three electric motors. Power is sent to all four corners via a 9-speed dual clutch transmission. That’s more than you really need.

Prices for the NSX start from ¥23,700,000 in Japan, which is equivalent to about $315,000 Kiwi dollars. That puts it squarely against similarly powerful super sports cars such as the McLaren 570S, Mercedes-AMG GTR, Nissan GT-R Audi R8 V10, and Porsche 911 Turbo. The difference being the NSX is the only one with hypercar hybrid tech in this segment.


First Impressions

First impressions are important and this is where people struggle with the NSX. They’d approach it in the same way they’d approach the original and that’s just not right. Whereas the first one was a New Sports eXperimental, then this new one is a New Sport eXperience. In the same way something like the Mercedes SL has completely changed ethos over the years (Sport Light, it is not), the new NSX should be given the same courtesy of being separated from its predecessor.

Whereas the previous NSX was a car that completed against its contemporaries, with the best technology available at the time and was priced accordingly, this new one does the same but in the 21st Century. From the outside it’s clear this is a product of the current times. The design is crisp and striking. It’s a handsome looking car. It’s not groundbreaking in its design but it’s not offensive either, much like the original car. Although, time will tell if the second generation will age quite as well as the original.


Regardless, this thing turns heads everywhere it goes. People are often shocked to see the Honda badges on it but at the same time this is possibly one of the only truly exotic supercars you could leave parked on the side of the road without worrying about it being vandalised. Because after all, since it says Honda on the front it can’t be that flash.

The Inside

Certainly, if would be vandals were to look inside they’ll be greeted with a very Honda looking interior. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a perfectly functional interior and the fit and finish was adequate. However, for a car costing upwards of $300,000 you’d want it to “wow” every time you got in it. I mean it’s all lovely and nice, especially with the brown leather on my test car, but compared to rivals you get the feeling it could’ve been a lot more special.



The driving position is one of the strong points of the NSX’s interior; it’s quite literally perfect. It’s nice and low but not to such an extreme where you can’t see out the thing. Visibility is great, the windscreen comes down deep so you get a great view out front. Unlike other supercars seeing out the side windows isn’t like looking through a letterbox either. There is a bit of a blind spot over your shoulder but other than that it’s just like any other Honda.

Despite being quite low and strictly a two-seater, the NSX can be a comfortable cruiser too. Certainly, it’s an ideal daily driver. The seats were comfortable and you get two (detachable) cupholders. There’s all the usual creature comforts as standard including dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated power seats, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, sat-nav, a reverse camera, and an auto dimming mirrors. You get the necessary driving aids such as traction control, ESC, and cruise, but you don’t get anything that interferes with the driving experience such as lane assist. I liked that.


What it did lack was some in-cabin storage. There’s actually not many places to put things inside. You’ve got a glovebox, a minuscule central storage bin that’ll only fit a phone, and don’t even think about door bins. However, nowhere to put anything behind the seats either. Unlike other mid-engine cars there’s no luggage space up front because of the electric motors. The rear boot is quite small too, though it’s big enough for a set of golf clubs or two weekend bags.


There’s also a lack of buttons inside, everything controlled via touch screen infotainment. The only buttons are for the climate controls and gear selectors. This high-tech supercar does away with an old fashioned gearstick and instead uses buttons to select gears. It’s quite easy to use and is certainly easier to use than the buttons in a McLaren 570S. That said, it’s a shame the steering wheel mounted paddles felt too plasticky for my liking.

The Drive

But that didn’t hamper the driving experience at all because that was very much to my liking. The NSX is utterly brilliant but then again, what else would you expect these days? What surprised me most was how bloody quick it is. 427kW from a twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 hybrid doesn’t seem like a lot anymore when 700kW+ hypercars are becoming the norm and when you can get a Jeep with 520kW, but the NSX managed to be more impressive than its numbers would suggest.


The initial surge you get when you introduce the accelerator pedal to the floor mat was mind boggling. It was McLaren level of performance as the the engine, turbos, and electric motors propel you into hyperspace. There’s zero drama, one second you’re in one place and the next you’re being slingshotted into the distance. Power delivery was linear, up to a point. You’d be forgiven for thinking it had no assistance until you got past around the 5,000 rpm region where it’d catapult you with a tsunami of power. There’s no VTEC here but the hybrid and turbo assist was almost like a virtual VTEC. The dual-clutch transmission is fast acting, making sure there’s no lag when you floor it. Left to its own devices it’s quiet and intuitive, in manual mode the shifts are instantaneous. This was one of the best dual-clutch gearboxes I’ve experienced.


As if that wasn’t enough, Honda’s high-tech SH-AWD system felt like it was doing its job in keeping the NSX stuck to the road. I don’t quite understand how the clever torque vectoring works by using the various electric motors for the front wheels and petrol engine for the rear wheels, but the result was simple and effective. It gave you the confidence to just keep pushing the NSX knowing you’ve got the electrics maintaining grip. It just felt so planted all the time.

Straight line performance was never going to be an issue in a car like this but where the NSX really shined was when the roads got all twisty. Don’t let the 1725kg weight fool you, the NSX felt as nimble as a cars that were 300-400 kg lighter. In many ways it felt like a more stable and reliable 570S, and if you’ve read my review of the 570S before you’ll know that’s the highest praise I could give any car. The steering was responsive and direct, it didn’t have as much mechanical feel as the McLaren on the count of it being electrically assisted but my god it was up there.


It literally felt like there was nothing up front, you’d turn the wheel and the car would follow immediately. You could dive the nose straight into a corner and have the confidence it won’t understeer. As cliche as it sounds, it was like driving on rails. There was fluidity in the way the NSX moved through corners. It was planted at all times and egged you to keep going towards its limits. I took the NSX to a mountain road popular for drifting and while it gripped around all the corners, it never stopped making me smile. That, to me, is the most important thing a car can do.


You could have fun with this without needing the skills of a F1 championship-winning driver. It’s precise and predictable, the car will only ever misbehave if you’re doing stupid things with it at stupid speeds but even then, correcting it is easy peasy. It’s an exotic mid-engine car that’ll make you look and feel heroic. I was surprised how willing it was to be thrown around and abused, and how easy it was to do so. It’s great to think about driving an exotic supercar hard around fabulous roads but in reality, it’s hard to be comfortable doing so because the width and value of the car are constantly in the back of your mind. In the NSX, that wasn’t the case. It felt like a zippy sports car.


The drive modes themselves transform the characteristic of the car, Sport+ being the most extreme and most McLaren-ish. Even the noise and volume is similar to the 570S. The ride is a tad stiff in this mode but never uncomfortable, it’s never NISMO GT-R stiff. Sport is best middle ground with all that performance and slightly softer damping. Comfort is great for long distance motorway cruising as it makes the engine quieter and ride all that more comfortable.

It’s a proper jack of all trades this car. On the one hand it can be a proper driver’s car on a mountain road, a comfortable GT cruiser on the motorway drive back into town, and being a hybrid, a perfectly usable daily driver in the city. It’s got the exotic looks (especially in this blue metallic paint with the chrome wheels), it’s got hypercar hybrid tech, proper supercar performance, McLaren-matching handling and grip, grand touring comfort, daily usability, and Honda reliability. What could possibly go wrong?


Move over 570S, I have a new favourite in this segment.


The Competition

Brand/Model Engine Power/Torque Fuel, L/100km 0-100 kph, seconds Price – High to Low
Porsche 911 Turbo 3.8-litre flat six twin-turbo petrol 397kW/660NM 9.1 3.0 $354,000
McLaren 570S 3.9-litre V8 twin-turbo petrol 419kW/600NM 10.7 3.2 $339,000
Audi R8 V10 5.2-litre V10 petrol 449kW/560NM 12.3 3.2 $330,100
Mercedes-AMG GTR 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo petrol 430kW/700NM 11.4 3.8 $320,000
Honda NSX 3.5-litre V6 twin-turbo hybrid petrol 427kW/646NM 9.9 3.2 $315,000 (approx)


The Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
All round usability

Incredible performance

Brilliant ride and handling

Hybrid tech in this segment is mega

Head turning looks

Honda reliability

It does cost a lot for something with a Honda badge

Interior doesn’t look as special as rivals

Lack of storage space

       • Not yet available in New Zealand


What do we think of it?

t’s the only supercar you’d want or need for everyday driving. The R8 might have a howling V10, and as brilliant as that engine is, the rest of the car just doesn’t do anything for me. The AMG GTR doesn’t even come close to being as rounded as the NSX, while the reliability issues on a McLaren would worry me. The Porsche 911 Turbo, long heralded as the best supercar to daily, is still a contender but it doesn’t have the NSX’s head-turning looks.

Yes, $300,000+ for a Honda is a lot. Yes, it’s not even for sale in New Zealand yet and sure it’s made in Ohio instead of Japan. You’ll also have to explain to everyone why you bought one of these instead of the usual suspects – but who cares. This is a fantastic car in its own regard and one that might not immediately have the legendary status of the first NSX but a car we’ll look back on in 20 years as being ahead of its time by bringing hybrid tech into the super sports car segment. Dare I say it, this might be Honda’s LFA moment.


If my imaginary lottery win garage had only one space it’d be used to keep an NSX. It’s really that brilliant.


drivelife car review chevrons four and half

Vehicle Type Supercar
Starting Price ¥23,700,000 (approx $315,000)
Tested Price ¥25,000,000 (approx $332,600)
Engine 3.5-litre V6 twin-turbo, petrol engine + 3 electric motors
Transmission 9-speed dual-clutch transmission with manual mode
0 – 100 kph, seconds 3.2
Spare Wheel Tyre pump
Kerb Weight, Kg 1,725
Length x Width x Height, mm 4490 x 1940 x 1215 mm
Cargo Capacity, litres 125
Fuel Tank, litres 59
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – Combined –  8.1L / 100km

Real World Test – Combined –  12L / 100km

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

Turning circle 10.8m

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

ANCAP Safety Ratings N/A
Warranty N/A


]]> 0
2019 Mazda CX-9 Takami AWD – Car Review – Higher than the rest Wed, 20 Mar 2019 22:45:51 +0000 Takami, loosely translated as ‘Higher than the rest’ is Mazda’s new top of the line luxury variants. The concept is that any model bearing the Takami name is part sports vehicle, part luxury cruiser. These variants are currently available across the Mazda6, CX-3, CX-5 and our current review vehicle the CX-9.

Will the Takami variant make this CX-9 stand out from the rest?

The Range

The latest range has done away with the FWD version, so now all 3 models are AWD. It starts with the GSX ($56,695), then to the Limited ($65,295) and finally the Takami ($67,895) our test vehicle.

All share the same engine – the all-new 2.5 SkyActiv-G turbo four-cylinder. There are no diesel options for the CX-9 range. This engine offers 170kW of power, 420Nm of torque and a combined fuel consumption rating of 8.8 litres per 100km.

The GSX model is pretty well specced, with a bit more in the Limited and all of the goodies in the Takami. As standard, the GSX gets full leather, 3-zone climate AC, cruise control, electric and heated front seats, driver’s electric lumbar adjustment, voice command system, 6-speaker audio with BlueTooth, a leather steering wheel, an 8” touchscreen central display, keyless entry and start, SatNav, dual exhaust tips, DRLs, electric park brake, Hill Launch Assist, automatic LED headlights and auto wipers.

The Limited goes further with an electric tailgate, electric tilt/slide sunroof, adaptive cruise control, a 12-speaker 294-watt Bose audio system, the option of ‘natural stone’ leather, 2 memory positions for the driver’s seat, Adaptive Headlamps, proximity keyless entry, heated side mirrors, rear privacy glass, lighting signature tail lamps, rear pull-up windows shades, Active Driving Display (HUD) and one-touch power windows front and rear. That’s quite a bit of extra kit for the $7K over the GSX.

The Limited model also has an incredible amount of driver assistance and safety features; Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Smart City Braking, Radar Cruise with Stop/Go function, Forward Obstruction Warning, Smart Brake Support, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Watch Assist, Driver Attention Alert, and a 5-Star ANCAP rating.

The Takami, which is $2600 more than the Limited, offers Nappa leather seats, “ultrasuede” trim on the dash and doors, authentic Rosewood panels and genuine aluminium trims. Also a 360-degree view monitor, a heated steering wheel, ventilated and heated front seats. Mazda also indicates that the Takami offers a quieter, calmer ride, both engine note and road noise are well suppressed for quiet cruising

The Takami range comes complete with 3 years free Servicing, a 5 year factory warranty and a 5-Star ANCAP Safety Rating to keep you and your passengers safe.

First Impressions

There is no mistaking the Mazda CX-9, it’s a bit of a beast. Slab faced with a chiseled chin, it’s ready to take on the very worst that the everyday family can throw at it. I loved the shape back when it was launched in 2016, it’s aged well and it still looks great today.

Most of the team at DriveLife prefer our Mazdas in the stunning Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint, sadly this review car has Jet Black Mica. It still looked great, but it’s hard to beat that amazing red.

On the face of it, there was really not a lot that indicated this model was the new Takami spec. The visible difference can be seen between the GSX and the Limited, with larger wheels, different headlights, chrome trim running boards and chrome trim front bumper. From what I could see, there was nothing outside the CX-9, not even a badge to indicate that this was a Takami. I was curious to now why Mazda would do this, since they identify the Takami variant as their top spec that’s higher than the rest.

The Inside

I am generally a simple man when it comes to interior colour selections. Black is my go to, with some white or tan which both heavily depend on the vehicle. The Takami seems to only come with one leather option, Nappa Leather Auburn. Auburn as a hair colour is nice, but as a leather interior colour, not so much. Depending on the time of day or the sun light direction, it looked like light brown or off red. I did not like this colour, my wife did not like this colour and most people who got in started the conversation with, “Oh, thats different”.

I was unsure if you can select the other trim levels for the Takami, however it would beat the purpose as the Nappa Leather option is only available for the Takami in Auburn. Moving past the colour, the Nappa Leather was really nice to touch, soft and comfortable.

Since the full review of the Limited Fred did back in 2016, 2016 Mazda CX-9 – Car Review – Super Smooth SUV not much has changed inside the the CX-9. The only visible differences are the wood inlay and digital driver’s dash that come in the Takami.

My time with the CX-9 was never arduous, once inside you were always comfy, had enough space not to feel cramped and a safe feeling. This safe feeling came from the size of the CX-9 and how far everything around you seemed to be from the outside world. I can see why they have no problem selling them; feeling safe will be high on the list of family criteria.

The media screen has since become a bit dated, smaller than most seen in other SUV’s and not as well integrated. The UI is also a bit clunky at times, some of this was due to not being used to it, but some was down to the interactive design, which could be improved. The screen size didn’t matter too much, only when using the Satellite Navigation. I always felt that a more square screen would have helped to show more roads ahead compared to the widescreen style its has now.

The sound system in the Takami was impressive, the 12-speaker Bose audio system in the Limited is fantastic. My own Audi has a Bose system and I love it’s clarity and volume. The system in the CX-9 had more speakers than my Audi, and sounded great, if not better.

You get some good media options with the CX-9: USB, phone, radio, Aha, Pandora and Sticher.
All models come with 4 USB ports – two in the front, and two in the middle console. I was surprised though that there’s no Android Auto or Apple Car Play capability – I would have thought at this level, it would be standard equipment or at least an option like other brands

Fred never liked how you got in and out of the third row during his review. However things have changed, which means Fred was not the only one who had issues with it. Now getting in and out of the back is a bit easier. The seats don’t flip forward, but moving the upright of the middle row back and seat forward is now a much easier action. Even for a big guy, I didn’t find it too bad getting in and out of the back row. Leg room is still the same, not ideal for taller people, but I guess most will use this row for kids.

Middle row legroom is much better, as you could slide the seat forward anyway, on a long trip. On the middle row, the rake is adjustable so that’s one bonus for those long trips. As a family SUV, the CX-9 was one of the better ones we have tested. Even with the baby seat in the back, the front passenger seat didn’t have to move that far out of the way unlike most SUV’s. Add to this the ability to slide the second row, gave my wife and the baby even more room in the back for baby bags, toys and the like. My wife even mentioned that we didn’t even have this much space in the BMW X5.

Boot space is always a challenging one for us with 7-seat SUV’s. Is there much of a boot with all rows in use or do you sacrifice space for seats? In the CX-9 with the third row up, the boot is reduced to 230 litres, and smaller than the previous model. With the third row down the boot space grows to an impressive 810 litres. With the middle row down the rear space becomes a whopping 2016 litres.

The Drive

Even though the CX-9 is a bit of a monster in scale, you quickly forget that its powered by a 2.5-litre 4 cylinder engine. Surely it needs more power than that, but this engine pushes out 170kW of power and 420Nm of torque. So the answer is clear, you don’t need more power, it’s already there compared to the 321Nm of torque from the previous generations V6 engine.

With a smaller more efficient engine, comes smaller fuel consumption figures. The advertised figures are 8.8 litres per 100km, over the period of my review the best I achieved was 10.0. Not bad from a small engine in such a big vehicle.

The performance figures are not affected much from this engine, getting the CX-9 to 100km/h in 8.6 seconds, which is not too shabby for a two-ton 4-cylinder SUV. On top of that, it is incredibly smooth. So smooth you think it’s hiding a V6 under the hood somewhere. Got to love this engine.

Noise level in the cabin is minimal – wind noise is almost non-existent, suspension noise and general NVH is top class. On the motorway, it is so quiet, making it easy to talk to anyone, regardless where they are sitting inside.

Daily driving the CX-9 is so easy, the engine and gearbox make this machine effortless to use. You never feel like you need more power, it’s already there, ready to get you going. The automatic has a Sport mode, but as is common with cars with this much torque, it’s all a bit pointless. Sport mode holds the gears longer, which seems great but when maximum torque is at 2,000rpm it’s not going to change the driving feeling as Sport mode would indicate.

The AWD system is great, no matter the weather thrown at this beast, it just kept doing the daily run. General driving is not affected by the size of the car – you don’t feel like it’s as big as it is. Handling of the CX-9 was pretty good – small body roll through the corners, but still good and better than you would expect for the size and weight of this SUV.

The additional 360-degree camera parking system did help, as it’s nice to see what’s around you at ground level. You don’t want to damage those big rims on an unknown curb. This system is not as good as some of the other ones in the market, but it did the job well enough. This would also benefit from a larger central media screen

Fred had found the steering heavy on the open roads, I have to say I did not experience this at all. It was not heavy or light, it just felt right, or what it should be. Maybe this has been updated since the time we tested the Limited model.

I only managed 400km in the CX-9 before it went back. It average 11.5l/100km from a 50/50 mix of open road and around town. What surprised me most, was that the fuel level indicated half a tank to go. I could only hope this would deliver another 400km.

The Competition

The CX-9 had always placed itself well in the market, with a high-quality product for a really good price. However, since the Takami is touching on $70k, it opens up other options that may not have been available for lower budgets.

Brand / Model Engine Power kW/Nm Fuel L/100km Number of seats Boot Capacity Litres Price Highest to Lowest
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado GX 2.8-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel 130 / 450 8.0 7 N/A (553) $70,990
Hyundai Santa Fe GDi Elite 2.4-litre  4-cylinder turbo 138 / 241 9.3 7 N/A (547) $67,990
Kia Sorento Premium Petrol 3.5-litre V6 petrol 203 / 336 10.0 7 142 (605) $67,990
Mazda CX-9 Takami 2.5-litre 4-cylinder twin turbo 170 / 420 8.8 7 230 (810) $67,895
Skoda Kodiaq Sportline 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel 140 / 400 5.7 7 270 (630) $62,990
Mitsubishi Outlander VRX 4WD 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel 140 / 400 5.7 7 128 (463) $56,990
Honda CRV AWD Sport 2.2-litre 4-cylinder turbo 140 / 240 7.4 7 150 (522) $48,990
Haval H9 Ultra 2.2-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel 147/ 441 6.5 7 140 (605) $47,990
Nissan X-Trail ST-L 2WD 2.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol 126 / 226 8.1 7 135 (445) $44,990

Pros Cons
  • Well equipped
  • Smooth and comfy ride
  • Easy to drive, even for its size
  • High-quality interior
  • Overall build quality
  • Really quiet interior
  • Higher than expected real-world fuel consumption
  • The price moves it up into a more competitive market
  • Nothing to say it’s the Takami spec
  • Smaller sat nav screen

What do we think?

The CX-9 is a great vehicle; its big, spacious, has seven seats and does not cost the earth. I really like it, it’s got a great shape and feel to it. It also feels big and solid which makes you feel safe.

The only downside to the Takami, is the increasing price, knocking on the door of $70k. It does offer more options for this additional cost, which are good value. If you can afford the Limited, then the Takami might be worth pushing the budget out for. However, if your budget only allows for the GSX, it’s a hard sell to make the jump of $8,200 to the Takami.

It’s a no-brainer option to try if you’re in the market for a seven-seater SUV, but I am not sure that the Takami will be for everyone.

Rating – Chevron rating 4 out of 5

2018 Mazda CX-9 AWD Takami

Vehicle Type All-wheel drive 5-door SUV
Starting Price $67,895
Price as Tested $67,895
Engine SKYACTIV-G 2.5 litre turbo in-line, 4-cylinder, 16 valve, DOHC S-VT petrol engine with i-stop and i-ELOOP
Power, Torque 170kW/420Nm
Transmission SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6-speed automatic with Manual Mode
Spare Wheel Space Saver
Kerb Weight, Kg 2000
Length x Width x Height, mm 5075 x 1969 x 1747
Cargo Capacity, litres 209 litres

742 litres (third row seats down)

Fuel tank capacity, litres 74 litres
Fuel Economy, L/100km Advertised Spec – Combined – 8.8 L / 100km

Real World Test – Combined – 11.5 L / 100km

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

Towing Capacity

Kg, unbraked/braked

Turning circle, metres 11.6

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

Warranty 3 years FREE Servicing

5 year Factory Warranty

ANCAP Safety Ratings 5 Star


]]> 0
Reaching new heights with the new Lamborghini Huracan EVO – Japan Launch Fri, 15 Mar 2019 04:00:35 +0000 It only seems like yesterday since the Lamborghini Huracan was first introduced. But that was 5 years ago and since then Lamborghini has sold more than 10,000 Huracans around the world. That’s 40% more than the Gallardo making the Huracan the most popular model to come out of Sant’Agata. So now it’s time for the Huracan to get an update. 

Welcome to the Huracan Evo. Think of it was the LP560 Gallardo compared to the original Gallardo. It’s like a mid-life update but Lambo threw everything at it. Hence the Evo(lution) rather than revolution. Facing stiff competition from McLaren, Ferrari, and Porsche, the Huracan Evo takes the exiting Huracan Performante drivetrain and wraps it up in a more usable and less hardcore package. 

You still get Lambo’s naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 now producing 470kW and 600NM of torque. On par with the Performante. Power is sent to all fours via 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. That’ll get the Evo from 0-100 km/h in just 2.9 seconds, 0-200 km/h in 9 seconds, and on to a top speed of 325 km/h. So while it might not have fancy hybrid tech or turbo trickery, this old N/A engine still has got some life left in it. 

With Japan being one of Lamborghini’s top three biggest market, and the Huracan being their biggest seller, launching the updated Huracan Evo in Tokyo so soon after its debut at the Detroit Motor Show was quite a big deal. To show the new heights they’ve reached with the Evo, Lamborghini unveiled the Huracan Evo to Japanese media and customers on the 52nd floor of the Mori Tower in Roppongi, Tokyo. Funnily enough, right above the Ferrari Japan office but I’m sure that was a coincidence. 

The headline new feature for the Evo is something called Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata (LDVI). It’s basically a new brain for the car which controls, monitors, and predicts the car’s dynamic behaviour. It’ll read the driver’s inputs such as steering, throttle, and gear, as well as external conditions such as road surface grip and will predict the best driving set-up for the next moment. The aim is to make the car behave in a more intuitive way. 

For the first in its class, the Huracan Evo comes with rear-wheel steering in an aim to reduce understeer. That was something I noticed in the Huracan LP610-4, push into a corner too fast and you’d be greeted with understeer. Hopefully the Evo’s LDVI, rear-wheel steering, and newly adapted aero makes this Huracan a more neutral handling car.

The new design gives the 5-year old Huracan design a breath of fresh air while at the same time implementing new aero parts such as a new front bumper to allow better airflow and a duck-tail style spoiler incorporated into the rear. It doesn’t feature the same ALA system as the Performante and SVJ, perhaps they’re saving that for the next hardcore version of the Huracan Evo. The launch colour is a new four-layer paint called Arancio Xanto. 

Inside, the Huracan Evo gets a major overhaul now featuring a shiny new 8.4-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay. The touchscreen replaces the vast array of buttons and switches that clogged the previous Huracan’s dashboard for a cleaner look. Everything from the entertainment, navigation, and optional track telemetry can be accessed on the touchscreen. 

Prices for the Huracan Evo in Japan start from ¥32,230,000 ($423,000), which is more or less in the same ballpark as the NZ-spec Huracan at $415,000. Deliveries of the Huracan Evo in Japan is expected in the third quarter of the year. 

]]> 0
ZB Holden Commodore – One year on Thu, 14 Mar 2019 19:00:27 +0000 When Holden New Zealand calls you up and says, “hey it’s been a year since the launch of the new Commodore. Do you want to come to Pukekohe racetrack and drive them around?”, there are two answers;

  1.       Yes
  2.       Hell yes!

I went with the later, and flew up to Auckland for this event. It was going to be a difficult day, but I’d struggle through it.

First was a catch-up at Holden New Zealand HQ, then it was off in range of five Commodores – all V6 AWD models, except for one four-cylinder. We switched around cars and drivers a few times, taking in the countryside via Clevedon and Hunua – and the Commodores lapped it up.

This V Tourer will soon be on the track…

Corners, undulations, bumps mid-corner – it didn’t seem to faze the big wagon. I had high hopes for these cars on the track.

Once we arrived at Pukekohe racetrack, there were three more V6s, which meant we almost had a car to ourselves for the duration of the track drive – but still switching after three laps in each.

After a short driver’s briefing, we headed out to grab a car each. All were AWD models, which was sure going to help with cornering. I grabbed a VXR, which was adorned with a new, ‘Black Edition’ package. This is a limited edition package, to celebrate one year of the ZB Commodore, and is only available on the RS-V and VXR models.

The Black Edition carries no cost – it’s available to the first 40 Commodore buyers starting in April. This Black Edition was revealed at the racetrack, and comes with black stuff, like gloss-black inserts on the grille, window surrounds and front side vents – and a Black Edition badge on the boot. So yes, it’s all cosmetic but it does look good on the car.

I’ve driven the V6 and diesel ZB Commodores so far, so it was a déjà vu moment, getting into the VXR.

I checked the odo of the VXR I was in – it had done 83km from brand new. In fact, every Commodore I drove this day had done less than 200km. I guess we were running them in.

Within a minute we were off, following Mike Eady, an advanced driving instructor and race car driver from Heading out to the track and flooring it, the V6 growl kicked in. I dare anyone to say the Commodore V6 doesn’t sound good. Every time I heard that engine growl, I liked it more and more.

Black Edition VXR

We did some easy laps first, including taking the cars through a bit of a slalom, and it reminded me how settled the chassis in the ZB Commodore is. Turn-in is excellent, and it handled the cone slalom without any drama. We upped the pace on the next lap, and still the car remained poised and composed, even with heavy braking into the hairpin, it’s hard to unsettle the car.

Back to the pits was next, then a car swap. I jumped into a Calais V Tourer, not exactly a car made for the track, and a surely a long way from the VXR? After I got into the car, someone jumped into the passenger seat – none other than Greg Murphy. So, no pressure at all not to stuff up. Greg was great though, giving me tips on improving my lines and braking, all totally relaxed. I didn’t stuff up, didn’t spin out, so it was all good. My Man Card was still intact.

In the V Tourer, the chassis felt similar to the VXR. It stuck, and booting the hell out of it coming out of a tight bend saw little wheel spin, and plenty of grip.

We did our laps, then switched cars again, as I got into a base model V6 AWD liftback – thankfully Greg got into another car. I wasn’t sure I could handle that pressure again. Like the others, there was very little difference in handling characteristics. There probably were differences, but it felt like it was handling just as well as the other models, even with changes with suspension and tyres/wheels.

Our track time went on like this – laps, then switch cars. Anyone who doesn’t appreciate the ZB Commodore and just how good it is, hasn’t driven one. The chassis is top of the class, that V6 engine is sweet and is happy at the redline, gear after gear (I can testify to this). We worked that 235kW V6 to the redline of 6,800rpm when we could.

Our last run of the day, I was back in the VXR, and then three others – including Greg Murphy, in the back seat – got into it as well. Let’s just say I was hoping hard I wouldn’t do something wrong. Something really wrong, like spin out – or worse. I could just picture the headlines, “Greg Murphy killed on racetrack by rookie driver”.

But no – even four-up, the VXR handled just as well as with me only driving. Performance was down, but barely noticeable. It impressed me greatly, and while my race lines were still needing improvement, I did okay. I did have to brake earlier with the extra weight, but overall it was a competent car on the track with the extra passengers.

Once the track day was over, time to head back to Holden New Zealand, and then the airport.

Finally, I sought out the four-cylinder car, and took the wheel – with two passengers. This was my first-ever drive behind the wheel of the four-cylinder car. Quiet, responsive, smooth. You would never guess this car was running a four-cylinder motor. Low-speed torque was excellent, as was overtaking power and cruising on the motorway was as quiet as can be.

There are those out there that are adamant that this – V6 or four-cylinder –  isn’t a ‘true’ Commodore, and it should have been called something else. Rob Trubiani – Holden’s Technical Integration Engineer – Vehicle Dynamics, Vehicle Development – summed it up beautifully: “I can see both side of the conversation,” he said, “how some people see this as a Commodore, while others do not. I love the passion of the people that say it shouldn’t be called a Commodore. But in the end, it’s Holden’s large sedan, so it’s called a Commodore, no matter where it’s made.”

Perfectly put, I thought.

Holden deserves to sell a lot more Commodores – on the road or on the track, it’s simply a great car.

Footnote: These cars with low kilometres on them, and driven on the track? They are going to be put out as Holden staff cars – not put out to be sold.


]]> 0