DriveLife https://www.drivelife.co.nz New Zealand's Enthusiast Driven Motoring Publication, Automotive News, New Car Reviews and Used Car Reviews Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:25 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 2019 Audi Q8 – New Car Review – a worthy addition to the family https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/02/2019-audi-q8-new-car-review-a-worthy-addition-to-the-family/ https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/02/2019-audi-q8-new-car-review-a-worthy-addition-to-the-family/#respond Fri, 15 Feb 2019 23:00:19 +0000 https://www.drivelife.co.nz/?p=42146 The Audi Q8 was one much-anticipated car last year. It looked stunning in the photos, and the specs seemed good. You sure get a lot for your money with the Q8.

But really, what would it go like? Is it all bling with no substance? It’s been too long since we’ve had an Audi to review, and this was one I was really looking forward to.

The Range

There’s a total of one model in the Q8 range – the $149,900 quattro TDI – so this should be easy. Audi New Zealand have kitted it out pretty well, with a good list of standard features.

Powering the car is a twin-turbo, V6 diesel motor giving you 210kW of power and an excellent 600Nm of torque, starting at 2,250rpm. I like those numbers. There’s an 8-speed automatic gearbox behind the motor, with paddle shifters if you feel inclined.

Underneath the car, there’s adaptive air suspension fitted as standard to keep the car riding smooth.

There’s a relatively long list of standard features, then another long list of options to personalise your Q8. As standard, you’ll get adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, active lane assist with semi-automatic vehicle control in an emergency, pre-sense front collision avoidance with turn assist, lane change assist with exist warning system and rear traffic alert, automatic high beams, front and rear parking radar, a 360-degree camera system, front cross traffic assist, electrically folding and heated exterior mirrors with memory function and auto dimming.

But wait, there’s more. All Wheel Steering, LED DRLs, automatic headlights and wipers, roof rails, towbar prep, HD LED matrix headlights, LED rear lamps and indicators, two-zeon AC, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Audi Virtual Cockpit with 12.3” screen, auto-dimming and frameless rear-view mirror, heads-up display, keyless entry and start, electric luggage compartment cover, power tailgate,  electric front seats with lumbar support and memory function for both front seats, heated front seats, electrically adjusting tilt/telescopic steering wheel, a 10.1” main central screen and an 8.6” lower central screen – both with haptic feedback.

You also get as a standard an Ambient Lighting Package, which includes contour as well as ambient lighting for the centre console, front and rear illuminated sill plates and interactive colour profiles.

There’s a multitude of wheel options starting at $4,000; a sports version of the adaptive air suspension, Night Vision Assistant, a panoramic roof, a Bang & Olufsen Advanced sound system, digital TV, and a heated steering wheel – as well as other options.

Our test car was fitted with the flat bottom steering wheel option (no cost), heated front and rear seats ($1,100), 4 zone AC ($2,250), 22” rims ($11,500) and the S Line exterior package at $8,000. The S Line package includes sports bumpers roof spoiler, trunk protection in stainless steel, S Line logos, door sill trims with S Line logo, headlight washers. Also thrown in are sports front seats, the sports air suspension option, inlays in matt brushed aluminium, headlining in black cloth, Valcona leather, and sports front seats with an embossed S Line logo. This moved the base $149,900 price up to $173,250.

First Impressions

It’s got to be said, it does look as good in real life as it does in photos. It seems smaller than the Q7, and in reality it is, being 66mm shorter (but is 27mm wider). That sloping back – almost a fastback – looks awesome, but you are left feeling it’s not going to be as practical as the Q7.

Then I opened one of the rear doors. Frameless doors? I was sold. I love frameless doors, and wish all cars had them. They just look so cool when you open them, even with the windows up.

This is a car that definitely turns heads. It seemed everywhere I went, people looked. Part of this might be down to the excellent, Navarra Blue colour of our test car, but I think more of it is because of the 22-inch rims that our test car was fitted with. While being a $11,500 option, they looked absolutely stunning, and hand on heart they are the best alloy wheels I’ve ever seen. They are intricate, but still simple and even at 22 inches still suited the car. I lurved them so much, and felt good every time I returned to the Q8, and spied those rims.

The Inside

Time to get inside, and first impression? The steering wheel has a very flat bottom. We’re used to flat bottom steering wheels, but this one was almost at the extreme, like they’d lift the tape up higher than ever before where they started to flatten it out. Still, it feels good in your hands, and that’s the main thing.

Our review Q8 was all black inside, including the pillars and S Line option of cloth headlining, which did make it a little claustrophobic. A panoramic sunroof would have made a huge difference here. The finish on the doors has lashings of suede, which feels great to the touch and looks good too. Every passenger I had had a feel, and commented on the richness of it. In fact, most of the surfaces you can touch while sitting in the driver’s seat are quality materials, with very few hard plastics to be felt, as it should be in a car starting at $149,000.

There’s some fake wood on the doors and down the centre console. Thankfully it’s not over done or in your face, and adds that little touch of class.

There’s quite a bit of piano black in the interior, and on the passenger’s side of the dash is a laser-cut quattro emblem, that looks very cool indeed. It’s backlit too, and you can of course choose from a multitude of colours for the emblem, and the LED strip lights running down the sides of the doors.

At the rear of the centre console is a cubby, but it’s on the miniature side, with a Qi wireless charging pad for your phone, and then USB slots, and an SD card slot. Thankfully, the holder for your cellphone does hold the phone there while it’s charging. We’ve had some cars with Qi wireless charging capability, where the phone slides around and stops charging.  There’s not much more room in here for anything else, maybe a wallet and that’s it. It’s a large centre console, but there’s no other storage in it.

If you do leave your phone on the charger, and then open the door to leave the car (as I have done many times) you do get a nice female voice reminding you, “your telephone is still in the vehicle”. This saved me more times than I’m going to admit.

The bottom-rear of the centre console is used up by the digital display panel for the rear passengers, allowing them to control their own heat settings, which the ability to have it different for left and right rear passengers. Our test car also had the optional rear heated seats, and these were controlled by the same panel.

There is another good-sized cubby on the right hand side of the steering wheel, so that’s one other place to store your junk. The glovebox is pretty reasonable in size too.

Speaking of the rear passengers – they are treated like royalty back there, with legroom bordering on limousine dimensions. You shouldn’t be getting any complaints from your rear passengers about being cooped up. There’s just the five seats in the Q8, but you can still slide the rear seats forward to give yourself more cargo room.

Not that you’ll need any – cargo room is pretty generous at 605 litres with the rear seats up. The rear seats slide front to rear as well, in case you need more space.

When you do open the electric tailgate, the parcel tray cover will electrically retract for you, then will put itself back when you close the tailgate. Handy stuff and it impresses friends no end.

Under the rear floor is a space-saver spare, that you need to pump up if you are going to use it, but there is a pump provided.

Got a big, heavy load to stick in the back of your Q8? Hit the ‘suspension lower’ button at the rear of the car to get the Q8 to drop down for you. You can raise it again if you want, but the car will return to its proper height (determined by the drive mode) when you start it, anyway.

The Drive

On starting the car, your eyes are drawn to those two central displays – an upper display and a lower one. The clarity is simply excellent, to the point where it’s hard to believe they are displays. You can customise them a little too, with the ability to create shortcuts from certain things in the top display – like a favourite radio station – and have it set as its own button the lower display.

I’m not sure that Audi’s way of doing this is better or worse than say a C Class or S Class Mercedes Benz, but they work well and very quickly become second nature to use. You can’t ask for more than that.

You can pinch and zoom, drag, rotate (SatNav), on the touchscreens, as well as swiping left or right. It was quite handy when reversing to be able to rotate the car using your fingers on the screen.

The Q8 has an active driver’s display, meaning you can pick from a selection of items of what you want to see. I generally left it on SatNav, just because it always looks cool to have a full-colour, high-resolution map spread between the speedo and rev counter. I love that Audi have a single button on the steering wheel called, ‘view’. Hit this, and the speedo and rev counter shrink right down to make the map spread right across the display. Great stuff.

And really, you don’t need the speedo showing anyway, since you have the heads-up display (HUD) to view. I love a HUD, and like frameless doors, wish all cars would have them. One day.

I’ve got to say though, it was a bit of a mixed bag with the Q8 HUD. You get your speed shown and also any SatNav directions, but that’s pretty much it. I would have thought at least I’d see the current speed limit shown on the HUD, since the only way to drive safely is to not speed (so we are told), so this was a bit of a missed opportunity for me. You do get the current speed limit shown on the central display (not even the active driver’s display has it) but that’s too far away from the driver’s vision to be useful. Next update please, Audi.

One bonus that the HUD On the Q8 does do that many do not, is a collision indicator. Following too close? The car icon on the HUD will go red to warn you, and it’s big and bright enough to catch your eye. If you aren’t using adaptive cruise control, this is a fantastic safety feature.

Heading out of the dealership, I was immediately impressed with the ride. I thought 22-inch rims on 40-profile tyres would be a recipe for lots of sharp bumps, but the Q8 rides brilliantly well. I’m sure the adaptive air suspension helps a lot here, but it rides a lot better than it should.

As I rolled up to a red light, something happened that I would struggle to get used to during my week with the car; the auto engine-off function kicks in before you stop. I’m sure it’s great at saving diesel, but it feels so wrong. Okay, I did get used to it, but it still felt wrong to be gliding along with no engine running in a non-EV.

This ‘Intelligent Coasting’ feature isn’t just for getting to the traffic lights. The Q8 uses coasting where it can, at speeds from 55 to 160km/h.

Speaking of engines…yes, that V6 twin-turbo diesel is a gem. Almost always quiet – ridiculously so on the motorway – powerful, silky smooth. There’s not much more to say – it’s brilliant. It feels like a petrol V6 in some ways, and man, hit that gas pedal and it shoots off like a rocket when in Dynamic mode.

About that; you get your drive normal mode selection, like Comfort, Dynamic, Sport, Auto. But in anything but Dynamic, there is a pause from when you hit the gas pedal until when you start moving. I couldn’t put it down to turbo lag, since the engine hadn’t started doing anything yet.

This maybe a fuel saving feature, but it felt disconcerting sometimes to hit the gas, and then wait. I drove the car in Dynamic mode most of the week because of this. And hey, in Dynamic mode it boogies like a bat out of hell.

We expect a diesel to be good at low revs, and the Q8 does the rest of the range too; midrange acceleration is excellent, and passing cars on the open roads is a breeze. Floor it, and it goes.

The gearbox too did that thing that some do, when you accelerate out of a corner, and it hunts for a gear before picking one. Not the end of the world, but not something you’d expect in a high-end SUV.

I hit the motorway, and switched the adaptive cruise control on. I had a love/hate relationship with the cruise control on the Q8. Cruise control on a stalk? Not many like those, and it feels old fashioned. But the adaptive cruise on the Q8 is so intelligent in its operation, it takes my prize for being the smoothest I’ve come across. Too many times, adaptive cruise is jerky as it races up to a car, then (I exaggerate for effect) slams on the brakes. I wish I was joking, and don’t get me wrong – we all love adaptive cruise control, it’s such a safe way to travel. The Q8 has it sorted, with a super smooth drive when using it.

The cruise stalk on the Q8 also does the speed limiter, which I did use, but not too often. It works, it’s a nice to have but I don’t know of many people that use it when you have adaptive cruise to use.

I took the car out to Makara for a Sunday coffee – this is a windy road with tight corners. My wife was with me, and since she gets car sick easily (argh), I took it easy. I probably went faster than I’d go in another car, since the Q8 sits quite flat, even though it’s an SUV. No doubt that low profile tyres come in to play here. I never got the opportunity to drive it in anger on any twisty roads, but the AWD grip (let alone the grip from those 285/40 tyres) is certainly there and my gut feeling is it’d do just fine.

The Q8 comes with all-wheel steering, which means the rear wheels can turn up to a maximum of 5 degrees. At low speeds, turning circle is improved as the rear wheels turn in opposite direction to front. At high speeds, the handling and stability is improved, with the rear wheels turning in the same direction as front. Could I notice the difference? If I’m being honest, no. But the Q8 feels big, and it handles quite well, and parking wasn’t an issue for me. The turning circle on the Q8 is 12.2 metres, which is on the normal-to-high side for a vehicle this big, so it doesn’t look like all-wheel steering has improved this area. The jury is out on the all-wheel steering – I think we’d have to have the car for longer to get a good feel for it.

One thing I noticed on that drive though – this thing is wide. More than a few times, the Q8 was over the white lines in the centre of the road and over the white line on the left side of the car too. It felt big, especially when we came across a Highlander coming the other way. Part of this is down to the ‘quattro blisters’ – those rear guards are flared out to give you a hint of the original Audi quattro. And they do actually remind you of that car, but that does mean they stick out a fair way.

With full driver assist features turned on, one feature I really liked was the warning when you exceeded the speed limit for the road you were on. At first I couldn’t work it out what was going on, but then it clicked. When you exceed the speed limit too much, the accelerator pedal shakes a little under your foot. Yes, I did nearly soil myself the first time it happened, but after that? I appreciated it. It was a simple and effective way to know you needed to slow down. You can turn this off if you want.

As I said, the steering wheel feels great in your hands, and its controls are well designed too. After a day in the car, I never needed to look down again, they worked that well. It was just the right mixture of types of buttons and the way they moved. It all just worked, as it should. Another feature I loved? That there is a single button on the steering wheel that I could program to what I wanted. Excellent stuff, Audi. I set it to the 360-degree camera. Sure, there’s a button for this on the centre console, and the camera comes on when reversing, but when I wanted to see what was in front of the car, or simply where the white lines were, I could hit that steering wheel button and the camera came on.

One more observation on the steering wheel; your fingers can block the fuel and temperature gauges. These are on the extreme left and right of the dash, and either your fingers or the spokes blocked them. Not completely, but enough to be annoying. The Q8 has a pretty decent range with an 85-litre tank, but it was something I felt they’d got the design wrong on.

Speaking of the 360-degree camera, it has a party trick. You’ve got the camera on, you see an image of your Q8 on the screen, so you put your foot on the brake, and the brake lights on the screen come on. Switch on your left indicator, and the left indicator comes on on the screen car too. Pointless? A little, but passengers liked watching it.

Seat comfort is top class, and I could easily see myself driving to Auckland without any issues with the seats. All of them are great, although it would have been nice to have the vented seat option. Some days, getting back into the Q8 with that black leather seating…let’s just say it burned a little. Side support is good, but not great. I think if you were really chucking the car about on a twisty road, they’d struggle to hold you in.

The controls for the seat adjustments are on the seat bases, except for the electrically-adjustable cushion extension, which you must do from the centre screen. Our car didn’t have the massaging seat option, unfortunately.

SatNav is a doddle to use, simple and clear. You can enter an address using a swype type of system, but the onscreen keyboard is just as quick, if not quicker.

Naturally there’s blind spot monitoring (BSM) on the Q8, and Audi uses the system of a light on the inside of the exterior mirror body, instead of on the mirror glass itself. This is fine in general, but the BSM light itself was far too dim – a few times it was on, and I went to change lanes. Luckily a head check meant I saw a car there in my blind spot. These lights need to be brighter. They were great at night, but in the daytime they are difficult to see.

Noise wasn’t really an issue; the car is extremely quiet on motorway, with just a hint of wind noise from A pillars. The low-profile tyres were generally very quiet, except for coarse chip seal, which catches most tyres out.

I setup my own driver profile in the Q8; we’ve used these before in BMWs, Volvos and others. For the Q8, it means you can set your own AC, interior and exterior lighting, central locking, parking aids, driver assistance settings, seats, mirrors, steering wheel, HUD and instrument cluster preferences. That’s quite a list. When you go to start the Q8, it asks you via the driver’s display if your name is [insert your name here]. If you aren’t, you can select your preset profile and everything changes – just for you.

There’s electrically-assisted doors in the Q8, and they’ve made them quite the safety feature. If you open a door when the car is stopped and there is a vehicle coming alongside you, the LED strip lighting in the door will glow red as a warning, as well as the blind spot monitoring light on the front mirrors, if you are opening a front door. If you continue to open the door with the warnings, its opening will be delayed. This is great for kids getting out on the roadside of the car, who may not think to look first. I’m pretty sure there’s a few adults that do this too – I’ve certainly driven past my fair share.

Fuel economy? Audi suggests an overall rating of 6.8L/100km. Over my week with the Q8, I managed 8.2L/100km, which is a pretty average variation of what manufacturers claim.

The Competition

Brand/Model Engine Power/Torque

kW/Nm

Towing capacity, unbraked/braked (Kg) Number of seats Cargo capacity, litres Fuel L/100km Base Price – High to Low
Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic V6 twin- turbo diesel 225kW/700Nm NA/3,500 5 780 7.0 $161,900
Audi Q8 V6 twin- turbo diesel 210/kW/600Nm 750/3500 5 605 6.8 $149,900
Porsche Cayenne V6 turbo petrol 250kW/450Nm NA/3500 5 770 9.2 $147,800
Mercedes-Benz GLE 350d 4MATIC Coupe V6 turbo diesel 190kW/620Nm NA 5 NA 7.2 $146,900
BMW X6 xDrive30d V6 turbo diesel 190kW/560Nm 750/3500 5 NA 6.0 $144,500

The Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
  • Eye-catching design
  • Cruise control smoothness
  • Seat comfort
  • Performance
  • Stunning (optional) 22” wheels
  • Rear legroom
  • Ride quality
  • Active Driver’s display
  • Central displays’ resolution
  • Infotainment system operation
  • Steering wheel controls
  • Can hunt for a gear sometimes
  • Cruise control stalk
  • Blind spot monitoring lights too dim

The Verdict

I struggle a bit with the buyers of the Q8 – you have to ask yourself, why not pay less money and go to the bigger, 7-seat Q7? Then again, if you don’t need/want 7 seats, and want something that has a real style about it, the Q8 ticks that box.

Then you look at the opposition. All 5 seaters, and yet, they still sell. There is a market for the Q8 after all.

Will the Q8 take buyers away from the likes of the BMW X6 or Mercedes-Benz GLE 350d? No one can say yet, but it may only take one drive.

The Audi Q8 is a worthy addition to the Audi New Zealand range – and it deserves to do very well.

drivelife car review chevrons four and half

 

 

 

2019 Audi Q8

4.5 Chevrons

Thank you to both the vendor and real estate company for the use of this property for our photo shoot.

Vehicle Type 5-door, medium-large AWD SUV
Starting Price $149,900
Price as Tested $173,250
Engine V6 twin-turbo diesel
Transmission 8-speed sports automatic
Power, Torque 210kW/600NM
0-100km/h, seconds 6.3 seconds
Spare Wheel Space saver
Kerb Weight, Kg 2,145
Length x Width x Height, mm 4986x1995x1705
Cargo Capacity, litres 605/1755
Fuel Economy, L/100km Advertised Spec – combined – 6.8

Real World Test – combined – 8.2

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

Fuel tank capacity, litres 85
Towing Capacity

Kg, unbraked/braked

750/3500
Turning circle, metres 12.2

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

Warranty 3 year warranty

12 year anti-corrosion warranty

ANCAP Safety Ratings 5 star

 

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Lexus UX – model launch https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/02/lexus-ux-model-launch/ https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/02/lexus-ux-model-launch/#respond Thu, 14 Feb 2019 21:00:41 +0000 https://www.drivelife.co.nz/?p=42197 Lexus New Zealand has launched a totally new model, the UX. While Lexus still has the smaller CT200 (which will continue production for the time being) the UX is an all-new model, based on the GA-C platform, with a low centre of gravity, alloy doors, bonnet and front fenders. The rear hatch is made of a mix of polymer resin and aluminium.

DriveLife went to the launch of the UX in Auckland on Valentine’s Day.

Paul Carroll, Senior General Manager of Lexus New Zealand, was first up to give us the rundown on sales of luxury SUVs, both globally and nationally.

As far as Lexus goes, global sales are up to almost 700,000 units. This is up 20% up on their 2014 numbers.

The US accounts for almost 50% of all Lexus sales, and the brand is number 4 in Australasia. Last year, Lexus sold 160,000 cars in China, which is 23% of all sales.

Globally, the RX and NX are their top sellers. The sales of sedans are slowly dropping (the IS and the GS), however the ES model still remains high, and is popular in Asia and the USA.

Still looking globally, a quarter of Lexus production is hybrids, while in New Zealand that number is much higher at 45%. “Kiwis really like a hybrid drivetrain,” says Paul.

The luxury car segment accounts for around 10,000 sales per year New Zealand, with Lexus taking an 8.3% slice of that. They expect to sell 200 UXs in 2019.

Still in that luxury car segment, but looking at SUVs only, there were 650 sold here last year, with 64% of all luxury car sales now SUV. This is up from 35% just 5 years ago. Lexus as a brand takes 74% of this segment.

The UX figures high on future plans, with Paul adding that “the UX will add another string to our bow in the luxury SUV market.” He expects half of UX sales to come from previously non Lexus or Toyota buyers. Where are they coming from? Think Q2, X2, XC40, EPACE, and GLA.

Since the UX has already actually been launched, they’ve sold 60 of them in 6 weeks, with 70% of those hybrids.

F Sport model

UX DETAILS

Dion Woison, Team Leader of Product Planning Lexus New Zealand, gave us the more technical run-down of the all-new model. Apparently, the UX represents the future of Lexus, so money is on the table here and now.

In case you were wondering, UX stands for Urban Crossover.

There’s a total of seven models for sale – two petrol-only versions and a full five models that are hybrids. You can see where Lexus believes the future lies, for the time being at least.

The UX200 is the base model, fitted with a 2-litre petrol engine, pumping out 126kW of power and a good 205Nm of torque. Those are respectable numbers. Combined fuel economy on the non-hybrids is rated at 5.8l/100km, and the hybrid 4.5 to 4.8l/100km (dependent on FWD or AWD).

When you have the hybrid powertrain, you get 135kW of combined power.

The engine is fitted with the ‘Direct Shift CVT’ that we first saw on the new Corolla, and includes a ‘real’ first gear for starting off.

There’s a signature grille that is unique to the UX, as well as “flared front and rear fenders to give it an agile and sporty stance” according to Dion.

Across the back, there are 132 LED lights that make up the taillights, and they look very cool indeed.

There’s 3 new colours for the Lexus brand with the UX; Blazing Carmelian, Terrane Khaki, and Celestial Blue. There are also 2 unique (optional) colours just for F Sport buyers.

A plug-in EV model will be coming at some point, but no dates could be confirmed, other than “maybe early 2020s”.

One claim to fame (and rightly so) for the UX is Lexus’ Safety System Plus package. This includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision autonomous emergency braking (AEB), Lane Tracing Assist, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Road Sign Assist, automatic and adaptive high beams, adaptive headlights, and lastly vehicle, pedestrian and cyclist detection.

Lexus claims that Lane Tracing Assist does not need any white lines, and will recognise the sides of the road regardless of any lines.

The big selling point, is that all the safety features in Safety System Plus are standard across the range.

MODELS

The two petrol models available are the base UX200, and then the UX200 F Sport.

In the hybrid range, there’s the FWD range of the UX250h, UX250h F Sport, and UX250h Limited. At the top end is the AWD models of UX250h and UX250h Limited.

One thing Lexus always does well is a range of colours and interior textures – and the UX is no stranger to either. There’s a good range of 12 colours available; yes, some terribly boring silvers and greys, but some amazing ones like the new Terrane Khaki – and shade of green that stands out from the crowd, in a good way.

Interiors come in a range too, with one of the launch cars with a bright-red interior that looked stunning. Definitely my pick if you want to move away from the all-too-common black leather.

There’s seven different interior trims to choose from.

All standard models include the following features: triple drive modes; 18-inch alloy wheels; front and rear parking sensors; smart key entry and push button start; eight speaker sound system; 10.3 inch EMV display; satellite navigation; 7-inch multi information display; front seat heaters; ten-way driver and eight-way front passenger seat electric adjustment; dual zone climate air conditioning; and rain sensing wipers.

The F Sport models add a customisable drive mode in addition to new Sport S/Sport S+ drive modes: adaptive variable suspension; F Sport alloy wheels; adaptive high beam; sports front seats with ventilation; leather accented interior; F Sport pedals, steering wheel paddles, bumpers and grille design; head-up display; and triple LED headlights with dynamic levelling and cleaners.

The Limited models get a 13-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system; sunroof and Japanese paper textured instrument panel finish.

PRICING

UX200 FWD $59,900

UX200 FWD F Sport $69,900

UX250h FWD $62,900

UX250h FWD F Sport $72,900

UX250h FWD Limited $72,900

UX250h AWD $65,900

UX250h AWD Limited $75,900

 

The verdict? As always, we’ll wait until we do a full test (we’ll have a hybrid UX on test shortly) however at first look at the specs and pricing, Lexus has set a cat among the pigeons when it comes to its competitors.

 

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2018 Lexus ES 300h Limited- Car Review – Refined Fuel Efficiency https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/02/2018-lexus-es-300h-limited-car-review-refined-fuel-efficiency/ https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/02/2018-lexus-es-300h-limited-car-review-refined-fuel-efficiency/#respond Sun, 10 Feb 2019 23:00:49 +0000 https://www.drivelife.co.nz/?p=42140 In December of last year, I got the opportunity to test drive the new Lexus ES 300h Limited. It’s in a market full of long wheelbase Germans offering various degrees of luxury sedans for any wallet size.

Would the new ES 300H have what it takes to stand out from the crowd and make you rethink your options?

The Range

There are two models available in New Zealand for the Lexus ES, the 300h and the 300h Limited. The ES 300h starts at $76,990 and the ES 300h Limited starts at $92,990.

The main visible difference between the two models are different wheels; the 300h comes with 17” alloys and the 300h Limited comes with 18” alloys. The second difference is with interior trim options; the 300h Limited has twice as many trim options to choose from.

They both come with the same hybrid engine and produce the same power, 160kW and a combined fuel consumption of 4.6L/100km.

The unseen differences are in the suspension; the 300h Limited is spec’d with front and rear performance damper, which are not available in the 300h. The 300h Limited also comes with triple-zone climate control, power rear window shade, heated steering wheel, dual-stage adaptive high beam system, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitor. The 300h has a 10-speaker sound system, while the 300h Limited comes with a 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system.

In the 300h the driver and passenger both have 8-way power adjusted seats with 2-way lumbar support. The 300h Limited comes with 10-way for the driver and 8-way power adjusted seats for the passenger, both have 4-way lumbar support.

With a price difference of only $16,000, it would not be hard to justify the additional expense for the higher spec model.

First Impressions

I like the Lexus brand, but I do sometimes wonder about the colour options they have available. Knowing that the ES300h was a large luxury car that might be considered by professional businesses, you tend to find the colours can be a bit bland. As expect once I got to the dealer, the car was for want of a better word, a watery silver. I found out later that the name of this colour was Ice Ecru. It’s not a bad colour, nor is it a great colour.

However, I grew to like the exterior colour more once I got into it. The interior was cream, brown and bamboo. This interior package was called Rich Cream and Bamboo, which I really didn’t like. My wife nailed it in one: cream and baby poo brown. This car would have looked so much better in black and bamboo or black and Shimamokua, which is black leather and dark wood finish. Mixed feelings to this start, but I must remember its an option which can be changed and that there are people out there that like this combination too. Personally, I would have selected the Deep blue exterior paint with the black and bamboo interior finish.

Regardless of the colour selection, the car itself looked pretty sharp, and longer then expected. An elegant upmarket look to its overall design, I also liked how the grill and wheels worked well together. The Lexus grill is a love or hate thing, I do like them, and this one works in with the sophisticated design of the ES 300h Limited

The Inside

Regardless of the colour selection inside the ES 300h, the interior was really nicely laid out and had a good quality finish to it. The colour did make the cabin feel bright and spacious, but it was still hard to like that much brown. The central console widescreen was nicely set into the dash with some other features from the Lexus model range.

The LC dails left and right above the instrument cluster were a really nice touch. There were not a lot of buttons or feeling of clutter in the cabin, I found that you had just what you needed and the rest was hidden away in optional menus. I did however had one issue with the bamboo, which looked good, but the end of the dash had a brown plastic cap on them which totally destroyed the look of it trying to be real bamboo. My 2 cents to the design team would be to run the pattern around the corner and not have the caps at all.

It was great to see the trackpad back in the ES300h, first tested in the RC when it was released a few years ago. I personally prefer this system of interactivity with the media system, over the mouse or dail like systems. This feedback touch pad is so easy to use even when you’re not looking at it. Thanks to the feedback system, as you move your fingers around the screen there is a feedback pop to your finger when you move over a button. This makes it easy to move through the menus once you are used to their locations, as it’s just by number. It’s also a nice clean designed pad, which sits nicely into the centre console.

The steering wheel has seen some updates too, thankfully the cruise control buttons has been moved from the awkward stalk to the wheel itself. This made me happy, as I never like that stalk and always felt like it was a difficult way to use cruise control. Even though this car is running a CVT gearbox, it spec’d with gear selection paddles on the wheel. It’s really not needed or of any use in a car like this.

Inside the back is where some of the magic seemed to be, as the environment changed a lot from the front seats. In the front you are in charge, in control, but in the back you are being looked after, and escorted to your destination. The space in the back was rather surprising, even for a guy of my height. I was able to sit back and even stretch out my legs. As I was sitting behind the front passenger seat, I even had the ability to move the front seat further out of the way by the button on the side of the front seat. Pretty cool idea, but probably not ideal for kids.

The rear centre console had a selection of options. You had control over the volume of the radio, the temperature of the third climate control zone in the back, the rear window shade and the rear heated and cooled seats. Pretty fancy options, for a sub $100k sedan

The sound system in the limited was exceptional, the 17-speaker Mark Levinson system is hard to beat for overall audio clarity and range. I also like that its setup not to hear the sound from each speakers location, but to hear it combined in your head. This may sound odd, but there is a difference, when you can pinpoint the location of the speaker by the sound it makes, it’s not ideal. I did not have this problem in the ES 300h Limited.

The boot was a nice generous size with a good opening. Not as deep as I would have hoped for a big car like this. It’s a power open and close boot lid, which can also be opened via the key fob. As standard it comes with the Lexus anti slip cargo mat and safety kit.

The Drive

The big question for me was around the engine: would the new 4-cylinder hybrid engine be enough to pull around this big, heavy car. I was surprised to find that it was enough, if only just enough. Around the city the hybrid engine worked amazingly well, allowing smooth starts from traffic lights until additional power was required from the engine.

It’s not a car to drive fast in, but when you do need some power it is there. Getting onto the motorway I put my foot down to see what would happen. Overall pickup was good, nice steady acceleration up to the speed limit. The engine did get a bit noisy when in the higher rpm, it was not irritating, the sound was just unexpectedly high for a big car, as it’s a small engine.

All of the safety and information systems worked well together for the driver. Blind spot monitoring, lane assist, cruise control setting were all nicely laid out on the head up display. I found that I never needed to look at the main instrument cluster that much at all.

There is a section of motorway under construction between Porirua and Tawa which has a horrific temporary road in place for day to day traffic. This temporary road is very bumpy and it has been a good section of road for me to test how well different cars handle it. Some do ok, and some are really bad. But the ES 300h Limited surprised me as we drove along this section of road at the temporary speed limit of 70kph. It was almost like the road was smooth, which i knew all too well it was far from being smooth. But the ride and feedback in the car were of a nice, slightly undulating road. I was impressed, as the only other car to come this close to smoothing out the road surface was the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

To sum it up, driving the 300h Limited was somewhat boring. I choose this word carefully as it does not mean its bad, just not interesting. For a car like the ES300h Limited, this is exactly what you want. I don’t recall a single thing I didn’t like about driving this car, nothing annoyed me, nothing frustrated me either. It did everything I wanted and asked from it, and it did it in a refined hybrid-car way. I never expected it to be exciting; it’s a hybrid and a LWB luxury sedan. It’s goals are different, which are all about bringing the driver and passengers to their destination in relaxed luxury environment.

I had been invited to a large company’s end of year Christmas party, and thought what better way to go then to be dropped at the door in a luxury Lexus. I had to ask Fred from the DriveLife team to help and drive us into the event. From the rear seats the car feels enormous, with heaps of space and a very nice sized centre armrest. The entire feeling from the rear was of luxury and comfort, and the ride quality was second only to the recently tested Mercedes-Benz S Class at three times the price.

How it handled the bumps in the road was impressive. When we arrived at the event it was nice to see that we were the only one arriving like this, amongst a sea of white Prius taxis. It turned heads, as people wonder who was arriving in that car, which showed us that it’s not always the type of car you arrive in, but how it looks.

The Competition – Large Luxury Sedans

The LWB market is a niche one, but there are a couple of similar options out there. As you can see there is a rather large difference in price between the typical German models and what Lexus offers.

Brand/Model Engine Power/Torque Fuel, L/100km Seats Boot Capacity Litres Price Highest to Lowest
Audi A7 Sportback 3.0L BiTDi 235kW/ 650Nm 5.2 5 535 $159,900
BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo 3.0L V6 Petrol Twin Turbo 250kW/ 450Nm 8.5 5 460 $155,600
Jaguar XJ Luxury 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel 300kW/ 700Nm 5.7 5 478 $155,000
Mercedes-Benz CLS 400 3.0L V6 Petrol Twin Turbo 245kW/ 480Nm 8.0 5 520 $144,000
Lexus ES 300H Limited 2.5L 4-cylinder 160kW 4.6 5 454 $92,990

The pros and cons

Pros Cons
  • Good power and great efficiency
  • Quiet cabin, little road noise
  • Large luxury rear cabin
  • Such a smooth ride
  • High-quality seats, really comfy
  • Limo-like environment
  • Big boot
  • Amazing sound system
  • Limited interior finish options
  • Noisy engine when under high rpm due to small size

What we think

We all know that the selected interior colour was not for me, but the car as a whole was rather impressive. More so than I thought it was going to be. After testing life in the back seats, it really changed my perspective of the car and its purpose.

Is it a good family car? Probably not, but it is a perfect car for businessmen who might need to work on the move, loads of space in the back, a smooth ride and quiet cabin.

The downside was the interior and exterior options, I felt they were a bit limited compared to some of the other vehicles available in the market.

For such a big heavy luxury vehicle the ES300H drives really well offered a smooth passenger experience and elegant comfort.

If you’re after a LWB luxury car, the Lexus ES300h is worth checking out.

Rating – Chevron rating (4 out of 5)

2018 Lexus ES 300h Limited

Vehicle Type LWB Luxury Sedan
Starting Price $92,990 plus on-road costs
Tested Price $92,990 plus on-road costs (factory options only)
Engine 2.5-litre 4-cylinder with In-line Dynamic Force / Petrol Hybrid Electric
Power Kw / Torque Nm 160kW/ NA
Transmission Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission
0 – 100 kph, seconds 8.9
Spare Wheel N/A
Kerb Weight, Kg 2150
Length x Width x Height, mm 4975 x 1865 x 1445
Fuel Tank, litres 65
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – Combined –  4.6L / 100km

Real World Test – Combined –  5.6L / 100km

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

Turning circle 11.40 m

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

Warranty 4 year unlimited kilometre warranty

6 year anti-corrosion warranty

4 year unlimited kilometre service plan

ANCAP Rating 5 Star

 

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1986 Toyota Corolla GT Liftback – blast from the past https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/02/1986-toyota-corolla-gt-liftback-blast-from-the-past/ https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/02/1986-toyota-corolla-gt-liftback-blast-from-the-past/#comments Fri, 08 Feb 2019 19:00:47 +0000 https://www.drivelife.co.nz/?p=42122 One of my most memorable drives on any road ever, is not in a $250,000 BMW M5, or a Honda Type R, or a Mercedes Benz AMG. The year was 1986, and I drove a Hertz rental front-wheel drive Toyota Corolla 1.3 manual – the base model – from Auckland to Wellington. The best part of that trip was the road from Kihikihi to Mangakino in south Waikato – it starts off with long sweepers and plenty of straights, then turns into some gnarly, twisty bends – second gear stuff.

It’s a road that really pushes any car, with on and off-camber corners, climbs and dips with corners everywhere.

That little Corolla was unbelievable. It stuck to the road, and when it wasn’t stuck, it let me control it beautifully. The feedback from the steering was incredible. I still smile when I think of that one drive.

Since then, I’ve driven quite a few tasty cars over that same road, yet none have equaled the fun I had that day in that little 1.3-litre Corolla. True story.

Recently I found out that someone I knew had a 1986 Corolla GT Liftback. For those too young to know, the GT Corolla Liftback was made for one market in the world only – New Zealand – and only for two years, 1986-1988. Sure, there was the Japan-built 3-door GT hatchback, and South Africa put the 4A-GE motor in the liftback body (and called it the Avante), but no one else in the world got the 5-door liftback body with the legendary twin-cam 4A-GE motor and called it a Corolla GT.

Just 180 of these cars were built, mainly because of the cost; in 1986, they retailed at $38,000. For a new Corolla at that time, that was a whole heap of cash.

Since then, many have rusted away, or been stolen/smashed up – no one knows exactly how many are left.

Provin and his 1986 Corolla GT Liftback 

The year was 1988, and Provin was searching for something to replace his Daily Driver. A friend stopped in to see him, driving a gold 5-door Corolla GT Liftback – a car that Provin didn’t even know had existed. It ticked both his boxes – family friendly, and sporty. Just what he was looking for.

So the hunt was on to find one. He searched local newspapers (this was 1988, people – no TradeMe Motors and no internet for the masses) and saw one advertised in the Dominion. It was finished in Metallic Blue, was a 1986 model and was with the original owner – someone who worked for the Australian Embassy in Wellington.

“I called the guy up and asked to go for a look at it,” says Provin, “and when I met him he looked at me and said ‘you aren’t driving it’.” Provin was a mechanic then, and obviously the overalls he was wearing didn’t project a man who could afford to buy the GT.

So, first impressions? “I opened the bonnet there it was – I saw the ‘Twin Cam 16 valve’, I wanted it. I didn’t tell the guy at the time but I didn’t care about even riding in it – I wanted it, end of story.”

But he did go for a ride, and then went money-hunting.

“He took me on the motorway for a spin, and I loved it. The amount he was asking $23,000, I offered him $20K. He agreed to this, but then went on to instantly want a $1,000 deposit – there and then.” For those younger readers, this was 1988 – ATMs were unable to give him $1,000. “He took me around some of my friend’s places to gather the $1,000, and I gave it to him.”

After he bought the GT, Provin and his wife did lots of trips to Auckland see family. “I had a brother who owned a new 2-litre Toyota Cressida. “Honestly, I thought he’d drag us off, since we were loaded up with stuff. As we went up the Ngauranga Gorge, I looked in the mirror and couldn’t see him. He was miles back.”

And 31 years later? The GT has done now 277,000K, and either Provin or his wife drives it every single day, as can be seen by the wear and tear on the leather seats. Still, his wife refuses to drive an automatic so for the moment the GT is perfect.

He hasn’t really had any problems with the car in all those KMs, except for a vacuum valve, and had to do a head gasket after the wrong anti-freeze got put in the car.

In 31 years, he’s done normal maintenance things like wheel bearings, and shocks. His GT is not modified at all, it’s totally stock standard and that’s how he likes it.

It was time to go for a drive. We pulled away with me driving, in search of a location to take some photos. Instant memories – the first front-wheel drive Corollas felt like a go-kart, and they still do. Low to the ground, fantastic steering feel – even in the suburban streets, and brakes that need a solid push.

That 4A-GE engine, with its Yamaha-designed head, has a reputation as a bullet-proof motor that is smooth and willing – and it deserves that reputation. Even with maximum torque at 4,800rpm, the GT can glide along a 60km/h in 5th gear, and still accelerate smoothly.

Provin’s GT has the first generation ‘Blue top’ 4A-GE motor, so it’s fitted with the T-VIS system, which means the intake manifold has dual intake runners and butterfly valves that open at 4,200rpm.  The overall effect is better fuel atomisation and therefore better fuel efficiency. When new, this motor developed 88kW of power at 6,600rpm (it redlines at 7,500) and 131Nm of torque.

But the numbers don’t talk about the character of the engine. It sounds good, it loves to rev and is incredibly smooth – truly one of the great engines of all time? I think so.

The brakes, while needing a solid push compared to a modern car, are discs on all wheels, and will certainly pull you up when you want them to. I think we’ve all just gotten a bit soft with modern cars.

Finding an unmolested, genuine Corolla GT is bloody hard. Finding a 5-door GT Liftback that’s not been modified and has had only two owners? Ten times harder.

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New Zealand pricing for the new Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupé https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/02/new-zealand-pricing-for-the-new-mercedes-amg-gt-4-door-coupe/ https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/02/new-zealand-pricing-for-the-new-mercedes-amg-gt-4-door-coupe/#respond Thu, 07 Feb 2019 20:45:34 +0000 https://www.drivelife.co.nz/?p=42110 Tell me this design doesn’t get your heart racing. Yet another two AMG models for New Zealand, both equally impressive in design and specifications – not to mention power trains.

The first four-door sports coupé solely developed by Mercedes-AMG is set to arrive in New Zealand with the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4MATIC+ able to sprint from standstill to 100km/h in just 3.2 seconds. The Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupé combines unique design, high comfort and outstanding sports car engineering with an athletic, four-door fastback layout. It is the sports car that combines the unparalleled performance of Mercedes-AMG with a body style also designed for day-to-day use.

“The new AMG GT 4-Door Coupé blends the impressive racetrack dynamism of our two-door sports car with maximum suitability for everyday use. It has a unique way of embodying our brand core, “Driving Performance” and with its systematic configuration it will attract new customers for Mercedes-AMG,” commented Tobias Moers, CEO of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.

The AMG GT 4-Door Coupé is the latest member of the Mercedes-AMG GT family of performance-oriented sports coupés and convertibles, which includes the two-seat, two-door GT, GT S, GT C and track-focused GT R models. The GT models are descended from the SLS AMG ‘Gullwing’, the first car developed in-house by AMG, which itself is a homage to the iconic Mercedes-Benz SL roadsters of the 1950s and ‘60s.

Mercedes-AMG GT 53 4MATIC+ 4-Door Coupé

The model range kicks off with the Mercedes-AMG GT 53 4MATIC+ 4-Door Coupé, with an inline six-cylinder engine featuring EQ Boost technology and making 320kW of power and 520Nm of torque in combination with an AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT nine-speed automatic transmission. Power is delivered via 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive and an AMG Performance Exhaust System. The AMG 53 4MATIC+ will reach 100km/h in 4.5 seconds from standstill.

The AMG GT 53 4-Door Coupé also features the AMG DYNAMIC PLUS driving mode package, AMG RIDE CONTROL+ suspension, EXCLUSIVE Nappa leather upholstery, and 20-inch AMG multi-spoke alloy wheels. Among a comprehensive list of standard inclusions are a 14-speaker Burmester surround sound system, AMG Performance front seats (heated and cooled) and AMG Performance steering wheel trimmed in Nappa leather and DINAMICA microfibre, AMG Track Pace software, wireless phone charging, MULTIBEAM LED headlights, and yellow-painted
AMG brake calipers.

An suite of safety features includes Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC, plus other active technologies including Active Blind Spot Assist, Brake Assist with Cross Traffic function, Lane Change Assist and Steering Assist. Nine airbags, a 360° Camera, and the PRE-SAFE accident anticipation system round out the list.

The Mercedes-AMG GT 53 4MATIC+ 4-Door Coupé will start from $236,900 MRRP in New Zealand, with options including the AMG Exterior Chrome Package ($2,500 MRRP), AMG Exterior Carbon-fibre Package ($9,500), AMG Night Package ($2,500), Luxury Rear Package ($5,300), and Warmth Comfort Package ($1,300).

Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4MATIC+ 4-Door Coupé

The new Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4MATIC+ 4-Door Coupé is the world’s fastest series production four-seater on the legendary North Loop of the Nürburgring, with a time of 7:25.41. At its heart is a 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 making 470kW and 900Nm. Allied to the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT nine-speed auto and the fully variable 4MATIC+ system, it can sprint from standstill to 100km/h in just 3.2 seconds. Rear-axle steering, an active dynamic engine mount, 21-inch AMG cross-spoke forged wheels, AMG carbon-fibre trim, power-closing doors and an AMG Performance steering wheel trimmed in black DINAMICA microfibre are also fitted as standard.

The Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4MATIC+ 4-Door Coupé is priced at $326,600 MRRP and option packages include the AMG Exterior Carbon-fibre Package ($9,500 MRRP), AMG Night Package ($1,500), Luxury Rear Package ($4,600), Warmth Comfort Package ($1,300), AMG Aerodynamics Package ($7,300), and AMG Carbon Package II ($11,600).

A further option available exclusively to owners of the AMG GT 63 S 4-Door Coupé is the Edition 1 Package, which includes the AMG Aerodynamics Package, special 21-inch AMG cross-spoke forged wheels in matt black with a high-sheen finish,  AMG sports stripes, climatised front seats, Exclusive grey/black Nappa leather with seatbelts in yellow, two individual rear seats, and AMG matt carbon-fibre trim. The Edition 1 Package adds $5,900 (MRRP) to the purchase price.

Both variants of the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupé are scheduled to arrive from mid-2019.

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ŠKODA’s new high-performance SUV, the Kodiaq RS to start from $71,990 + ORC https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/02/skodas-new-high-performance-suv-the-kodiaq-rs-to-start-from-71990-orc/ https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/02/skodas-new-high-performance-suv-the-kodiaq-rs-to-start-from-71990-orc/#respond Tue, 05 Feb 2019 19:11:57 +0000 https://www.drivelife.co.nz/?p=42089 The Kodiaq has gathered a strong following in New Zealand, due mainly to its sharp initial pricing and also of course taking out the 2017 Car of the Year award.

For 2019, ŠKODA is bringing us an RS model – apparently the fastest 7-seater to go around Nürburgring’s Nordschleife track. That some claim to fame, and we are now looking forward to getting one to test.

The first SUV in the portfolio of ŠKODA RS models with its 176 kW and 500Nm bi-turbo diesel engine, but also with its motorsport inspired design, highlights in high-gloss black and 20-inch Xtreme alloy wheels.

The New Zealand Car of the Year 2017, the ŠKODA Kodiaq has been given the RS treatment which includes fitment of the most powerful production diesel engine in ŠKODA history.

The core of the ŠKODA Kodiaq RS’s powerful 2.0 TDI is its two-stage biturbo technology. The 2‑litre engine features two complementary turbochargers connected in series. The first is a high-pressure exhaust gas turbocharger with a small turbine, a small compressor wheel and electronic turbine blade adjustment. This structure allows for an immediate response, even at lower engine speeds.

The second turbo is a low-pressure charger. With its large turbine and compressor wheel, it achieves a considerably higher boost pressure of up to 3.8 bar at high engine speeds, which increases the engine output considerably. At lower engine speeds, the chargers work in two stages. The low-pressure charger is responsible for the pre-compression of the air drawn in; the high-pressure charger is responsible for the main compression.

At high engine speeds, only the low-pressure charger is used in single-stage operation. Structured in this way, the turbo system apparently guarantees continuous power output with a short reaction time and high peak values.

The ŠKODA Kodiaq RS features the most powerful brake package in the ŠKODA range, with 17-inch brake discs front and rear with RS specific large 2-piston callipers in red providing a strong braking performance. The brake package is clearly visible thanks to the unique, lightweight 20” Xtreme alloy wheels.

The latest features and technologies are available in the Kodiaq RS – it’s the first model in the ŠKODA range to come with Progressive Steering with RS configuration, supposedly giving the Kodiaq RS better handling and agility in curves.

ŠKODA’s RS engineers developed specific suspension and drivetrain settings for the new Kodiaq RS**. This RS configuration paired with the Dynamic Chassis Control offers several  modes that change both the stiffness of the shock absorbers and other vehicle settings to create what Skoda says is a “powerful and engaging driving experience everyday”.

The Kodiaq RS is already a record setter on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife track – the world’s most challenging racetrack. With racing driver Sabine Schmitz at the wheel the Kodiaq RS was put to the test coming in at 9 minutes, 29 seconds and 84 hundredths of a second. It’s the fastest seven-seater SUV to complete the Nordschleife.

Styled with plenty of black accents – its striking radiator grille, its roof rails, window frames and wing mirrors all come in high-gloss black. The rear is shaped by two visible tailpipes below the bumper and a reflector that extends across the entire width of the car – the distinguishing feature of all ŠKODA RS models.

In addition to unique RS engine, drivetrain and suspension components, the ŠKODA Kodiaq RS comes with many ‘firsts’ – the first ŠKODA available with a full Digital Instrument Panel, the first ŠKODA SUV available in Race Blue Metallic and with the heated sports steering wheel and as standard.

The Digital Instrument Panel also comes as standard. The 10.25” display screen gives drivers the option to customise the panel with 5 different display layouts.

The ŠKODA Kodiaq RS comes fitted with the Simply Clever features of the Kodiaq that we’ve all come to know and love, from the door edge protectors, Area View giving you a 360-degree view of the vehicle and the handy Virtual Pedal.

It’s also the first-ever ŠKODA model to offer Dynamic Sound Boost. This sophisticated system uses the data from the car electronic board systems and varies and intensifies the sound of the engine depending on the selected driving mode. This results in a “captivating and emotive acoustic experience”.

With 7 seats as standard and a 5 Star Euro NCAP Safety Rating, the ŠKODA Kodiaq RS comes with a a good range of safety and driver assistance systems to keep Kiwis and their families safer on the road, all of which come standard. These include area view cameras for enhanced situational awareness, Park Assist, Lane Assist and Autonomous Emergency Braking.

The all-new Kodiaq RS starts from $71,990 MRP plus on-road costs*, including a 7 speed DSG transmission, 4×4 capability and Digital Instrument Panel.

In New Zealand, the Kodiaq RS is also the first ŠKODA to be launched using online reservation. The first units available have just been released for RS fans who want to be in pole position for customer deliveries. Customers can reserve at www.skodafinance.co.nz/skodadeposit/ by placing a $300 refundable holding deposit.

*Maximum Retail Price (MRP) excludes on road costs and any optional extras. On road costs are determined by the Authorised ŠKODA Dealership.

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GALLERY: Behind the Scenes at Tokyo Auto Salon https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/02/gallery-behind-the-scenes-at-tokyo-auto-salon/ https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/02/gallery-behind-the-scenes-at-tokyo-auto-salon/#respond Fri, 01 Feb 2019 04:00:23 +0000 https://www.drivelife.co.nz/?p=42043 Every year the Tokyo Auto Salon gets bigger and better. But bigger and better also means more hectic crowds and cars displayed in tighter spots. That makes it hard to be able to see all the cars without any interruptions. That is, until the show ends and everything gets packed up.

 

The pack up of TAS is just as impressive as the show itself. In true Japanese efficiency a show that housed in 11 halls of the Makuhari Messe convention centre, where over 900 cars were displayed, and where more than 330,000 visitors over three days gathered, is disassembled in a matter of hours.

 

Automotive photographer Aaron Chung (Instagram @aaronchungphoto) was there at the pack to capture some of the cars before they headed back to their owners and garages, without any distractions from crowds and show girls.

 

Credit: Aaron Chung

Bright colours and Lamborghinis were still the rage at TAS 2019. There weren’t any crazy new styles, more of the same as we’ve seen in previous years, but still pretty crazy.

Credit: Aaron Chung

Two surprises at TAS2019 were the pair of Koenig Specials Competition Evolution. Packing a twin-turbo flat-12 engine, these have 1000hp. Displayed on the Roberuta booth, these had the company’s air lift system installed. Because even with 1000hp you still need to go over speed bumps.

Credit: Aaron Chung

The epitome of 80s supercar tuning

Credit: Aaron Chung

Morohoshi-san’s Aventador LP720 is back in another crazy iteration.

Credit: Aaron Chung

Even after all these years it’s still attracting crowds left, right, and centre.

Credit: Aaron Chung

We can’t get enough of these Koenig Specials. Truly special things.

Credit: Aaron Chung

Liberty Walk showed off Version 2.0 of their 458 kit, resembling GT racers. Gone are the riveted over-fenders and in their place is a more silhouette style wide body. Personally, I’m a fan. It shows Liberty Walk are thinking outside the box and wanting to expand their image.

Credit: Aaron Chung

Giving an original Ferrari 308 GTB their infamous over-fender look was one way to bring attention to their stand. Purely a one-off in the same light as the widebody Miura concept they showed last year, it’s a unique take on a classic Ferrari. It’s not to everyone’s taste for sure but I applaud the balls to do this to an appreciating classic.

Credit: Aaron Chung

Another modified classic was this full carbon fibre body Porsche 911. It truly was a thing of beauty with carbon fibre work that’d make some Italian exotic drool with envy.

Credit: Aaron Chung

The Anija Zonda is back looking crazier than ever before with the addition of a roof box. It’s also got rid of its scaley bodywork for a smoother finish. Who says exotics can’t be practical?

Credit: Aaron Chung

Toyota and TOM’S brought out the good stuff ahead of the Mark 5 Supra’s debut at the Detroit Motor Show only a day after TAS.

Credit: Aaron Chung

Catch it while you can, Liberty Walk’s Aventador 2.0 kit is limited to 40 worldwide.

Credit: Aaron Chung

The new Suzuki Jimny was a tuner favourite at TAS2019. The Liberty Walk kit for it was one of the most popular at the show.

Credit: Aaron Chung

Peekaboo!

Credit: Aaron Chung

Some great Supra racing cars were on show at TAS, as well as a camouflaged prototype of the A90.

Credit: Aaron Chung

The Lexus UX has only been out a few months and already bodykits are coming out for it.

Credit: Aaron Chung

2JZ with 5 manpower.

Credit: Aaron Chung

Imagine this with a Castrol livery. YES PLEASE! No doubt we’ll see a lot of A90 Supra projects at the next Tokyo Auto Salon. And that’s TAS done for 2019. Thanks to everyone who made it possible, looking forward to seeing what’s in store for 2020.

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2019 McLaren 720S Spider Asia Pacific Launch – Welcoming The 325 kph Drop Top https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/01/2019-mclaren-720s-spider-asia-pacific-launch-welcoming-the-325-kph-drop-top/ https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/01/2019-mclaren-720s-spider-asia-pacific-launch-welcoming-the-325-kph-drop-top/#respond Tue, 29 Jan 2019 04:00:37 +0000 https://www.drivelife.co.nz/?p=42025 McLaren is on a roll. Last year they launched the track-oriented version of the Senna, the Senna GTR, at the Geneva Motor Show. In the summer, the 600LT was introduced to compliment the Sports Series range, while the Speedtail became the third model in the Ultimate Series. 2018 saw McLaren sell 4806 cars worldwide, a 43.9% increase over the previous year. Japan, McLaren’s fourth largest market behind the USA, UK, and China accounted for 222 of those sales. 

To kick things off in 2019 McLaren chose Japan as the first market in the Asia-Pacific region to show their latest car, the 720S Spider. McLaren hopes to keep up their upwards momentum with the launch of a convertible that can do over 320 kph with the roof down. Because there are far too many millionaires in the world won’t settle for convertible that can’t break the 200 mph barrier. I’ve reviewed the 720S coupe here last year and was blown away by the performance, handling, and usability of it. The Spider promises the same experience but with extra headroom. 

The numbers are staggering. Powering it is the same 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 as the coupe producing 537kW/720hp and 770NM of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox. That’s enough to get it from 0-100 kph in 2.9 seconds (identical to the coupe) and 0-200 kph in 7.9 seconds. Top speed, with the roof off, is 325 kph and a mind boggling 341 kph with the roof on. 

What’s even more impressive is even with the retractable hardtop, the Spider is only 88kg heavier than the coupe. That’s thanks to McLaren trick Monocage II carbon fibre tub which retains the rigidity of the coupe without the need for heavy strengtheners in the chassis. The roof itself is a thing of beauty. It’ll open and close in 11 seconds at speeds up to 50kph and can be optioned with electrochroamatic glass so it can be darker or brighter at the touch of a button. Clever. 

But what I like most about McLaren is they’re so full of these techy, geeky engineering yet are able to combine all that nerdiness with a beautiful, sculpted, almost art-like design. The 720S is a jaw-dropping thing to look at but the Spider adds just that little bit more drama. The launch colour, Belize Blue, is a true thing of beauty on its own. The depth and the sparkles of the paint is truly something to behold.  

One of my favourite features of the 720S Spider are the glass pillars behind the buttresses to give better visibility. The 720S coupe has quite possibly the best visibility of any supercar, the glasshouse just makes it so easy to see out of. They’ve tried to work the same magic with the Spider. I remember in the 570S Spider it was difficult to see over my shoulder when merging because of those buttresses, but they’ve solved that with the 720S. 

If it’s anything like the 720S Coupe to drive, and from experience McLaren taking the roof off their cars only enhances the driving experience, it’s going to be phenomenal. The 720S still remains to this day the most impressive car I’ve driven. The grip, the ride comfort, and the steering were all equally as impressive but it’s the speed and power that dominates. It’s blisteringly fast. With the roof down, I can only imagine how that would feel like. 

The 720S Spider goes on sale in Japan in March with prices starting from an equally impressive ¥37,888,000 ($504,891). With prices for the 720S Coupe being rather similar in Japan and New Zealand, expect it to be in the half million dollar ballpark when it lands in New Zealand later this year too. It’s a lot of money for sure, but compared to rivals it’s a performance bargain. But is it worth the extra over the 570S Spider though, a favourite of mine, well I’ll just have to find out soon. 

 

 

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2018 VW Touareg TDI V6S – Car Review – Looking to the future https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/01/2018-vw-touareg-tdi-v6s-car-review-looking-to-the-future/ https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/01/2018-vw-touareg-tdi-v6s-car-review-looking-to-the-future/#respond Tue, 22 Jan 2019 23:00:21 +0000 https://www.drivelife.co.nz/?p=42002 The Touareg feels like it’s been around since the dark ages. We all know the shape, and since 2002’s first-gen model and the 2010 second-gen model it’s really not changed that much. The third-gen 2018 model has put a stop to that with a whole new redesigned look to the interior and exterior. The much loved Touareg is back, but will it hit all the same tick boxes that the successful first and second-gen model did?

The Range

In New Zealand there are two models available; the TDI V6 and the TDI V6 S. Both models have all-wheel drive with VW 4Motion, 8-speed tiptronic gearbox and the same 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel engine.

The visual difference between the two models are small, the only obvious changes are larger wheels and the LED matrix headlights. The insides are different, with the new Innovision cockpit coming as standard on the TDI V6 S. This changes the dynamic to the interior to feel a lot more modern than the standard dashboard on the TDI V6.

The TDI V6 will start at $94,190 and the engine is setup to deliver 170kW of power and 500Nm of torque. The TDI V6 S will start at $109,390 and the engine is setup to deliver 210kW of power and 600Nm of torque. Both models have the same tow rating of 3500kg braked and 750kg unbraked.

Both models are well spec’d, with the TDI V6 S having the following items as standard over the base model: It comes with LED matrix headlight, LED tail lamps, privacy glass side and rear, Innovision cockpit with 15” central display and windshield head-up display. Not bad for a price difference of $15,200.  

The big feature that VW have that’s only available on the TDI V6 S is the Electromechanical active roll stabilisation. This comes as part of the 4 corner air suspension system and adaptive chassis control, all wheel steering and the 48-volt active roll stabilisation system.

There are 3 wheel options; 19” Esperance, 20” Montero and 20” Nevada. 3 interior colour options: Raven, Atacama Beige and Soul. For the exterior you have 8 paint options: pure white, antimonsilver metallic, aquamarine blue metallic, sand gold metallic, tamarin brown metallic, deep black pearlescent, silizium grey metallic and oryx white pearlescent.

For a full list of standard and optional extras, please follow the link to Touareg page on the VW New Zealand website. LINK

First Impressions

Our review car came in antimonsilver metallic, unsure how to really say the word, but the colour itself was nice. Nothing to loud or fancy, but it had a nice finish and contrasted well with all of the chrome trim.

The new Touareg is a big unit, and its big wheels and strong lines makes it feel even bigger than many other SUV’s on the market. I really liked how they integrated the new LED matrix headlights into the grille.

Overall this is one good looking SUV, and I couldn’t wait to jump into and see if all the changes will be a winning combination.

The Inside

Inside the new Touareg V6S is unlike any other VW vehicle, which showcases the future for the VW family. The new Innovision cockpit dominates the dashboard; it’s a large twin screen display panel, with one 12.3” screen for the drivers display and a 15” screen as the central console. Both are designed to look like they are one unit that sweeps across the dashboard. This system is visually similar to the Tesla’s or Volvo’s central console and Mercedes-Benz S-Class displays.

The Innovision cockpit is great – really well thought out layout and intuitive. If you have a smartphone or tablet, using this system will become second nature to you. The screen layout has a selection of main menu options across the top, air-con and seat heating controls along the bottom. It also had a large command button in the middle of the bottom to bring you back to the main menus. The rest of the screen was broken up into a grid of box that you could customise what you want displayed. This ranged from the navigation map, to your phone and contacts, radio or media your listening too, clock, weather, vehicle options, tire pressure and off-road settings. There are many more options, but you get the idea, it’s really customisable which is awesome to see. Many vehicles still lock you into a set layout, but VW are really pushing forward to allow you make this environment your own.

This review car was equipped with the $3000 night vision package. The main focus for this is not so that you can drive in the dark with no lights on while looking at the dashboard – it’s a safety feature which uses its thermal camera to detect people and larger wild animals up to 140m ahead of the car. It will also outline them in the display, highlighting them even if they are not illuminated by your headlights. If the vehicle detects a person or animal heading towards the road ahead of the vehicle it will flash a warning to the driver and the LED matrix headlights will target the illuminate the person or animal. The car also prepares its braking system in the event it’s required to do an emergency stop if the person or animal moving towards the path of the vehicle. It’s an impressive system, one that may not be used a lot in New Zealand, but it’s exciting to see where the future is going with some of these features.

The rest of the cabin is more inline with the current VW range, nice comfy seats in the front and back. The front seats had a bit more depth to them with deeper side supports, unfortunately not reflected in the rear. The space in the back is really good for tall people, thanks to the ability to slide the rear seats back and forward like the front can. We had no issues using our baby seat, which allowed the front passenger seat to remain in a reasonable position, unlike some other large SUV’s.

There was a good amount of storage space in the doors and central console. There was enough room to have a drink, phone and wallet if need be. something that’s not always offered in some of the vehicles on sale these days.

The boot is huge, offering up a staggering 810 litres of storage. It was nice to see that it was not another 7-seater – the market is starting to get too flooded with these 7 seat options, which if you needed or not, take up valuable boot space. I am glad that VW are not trying to do the same here, leaving you with a huge flexible boot.

Due to the size of the new model, the boot is higher off the ground that some might like. For easy access while lifting items in and out of the boot, you are able to lower the back of the Touareg for a more ideal height. I was a bit surprised to see that a vehicle with such a good boot didn’t have lay flat rear seats when they folded down. Not a deal breaker, just a bit of an oversight I felt.

The Drive

Once you have everything set up in the new Touareg, you find that the extras screens and head-up displays are not distracting at all –  in fact they all work very well together. With the ability to even have the Navigation map display on the driver’s dash, you can have all the info you need while the passenger uses or interacts with the central display.

The new Touareg is a big unit, and it does feel big from the driver’s seat. The large flat bonnet rolls out to each corner making the vehicle feel rather wide. I never had any issues with it, however there was a noticeable feeling that this car has a big footprint.

The power from the 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine was nice and smooth, which is due to the new 8-speed tiptronic gearbox. It’s not a sporty vehicle, even though its a S, which could be sporty or just special. The engine always had the right level of power to get you going, in sport mode it just made more noise while not feeling like it was going much faster. The engine was noisy enough as it was, so I rarely used sport mode during my review as the default comfort mode was just right.

Speaking of the gearbox, there was two things about it that I was not sure about. Both of these were in the cabin, the paddles on the steering wheel and the T-bar gear shifter. The paddles were for want of a better word, pointless. If you have more than 6 gears and it’s not a performance vehicle, paddles become a bit pointless to use. You can’t not have them in your Touareg, but you will find that you never use them. The T-Bar gear shifter was on the fence for me; I like the design of it, it was clean and unobtrusive, but it was big and bulky to use and never really felt natural. I may have gotten used to this over time, but it just felt odd.

At the bottom of the central console there are two dials, one for height adjustment and once for drive modes. On the left you have the height adjustment for off roading or ease of entering and existing the vehicle. On the right you have the drive mode selection which offers standard, sport, eco and several offroad settings. I am not sure these where the best placement for them, as they are at the base of the console, above the gear stick might have been a more ideal position.

The only feature I found to be a bit intrusive was the lane assist. I have tested this feature on many vehicles, and generally don’t mind having it there as a driver’s aid. However the system in the Touareg was a bit grabby a times, pulling me into the centre of the lane, when I was in full control with both hands on the wheel. It never did anything serious or dangerous, but you could feel the tug from it from time to time, when I didn’t think it was required.

I was told that our review car had the works, which included the new Electromechanical active roll stabilisation. This was a $10,000 option which combines 4 corner air suspension, adaptive chassis control, all wheel steering and a 48-volt electromechanical active roll system, Sounds fancy. The ride was very smooth and noticeably level, very minimal – if any body roll for such a large vehicle. It was hard to really say how well this system works as it requires a back to back test with a vehicle without it. The overall ride quality was great, but I am unsure if it’s worth the $10,000 price tag without more testing. Be sure to test a vehicle with and without it to see how much difference you’re really getting.

I had to take this car on a night drive so that I could test the LED matrix headlights and the night vision system. I wa impressed with the LED matrix lights, really bright and clear. Their ability to move around and light up the areas of the roads where required while not blinding oncoming traffic was great. Its up there with the best of the systems available on the market today. The night vision system I found more of a gimmick then a useable tool. It might be a case of right time right place; regardless it worked well, and showed the road ahead, further then the lights did. I also have experienced it highlighting several cows in nearby fields as I drove down some unlit back roads. Cool feature, not sure if it’s something you should option for your Touareg though.

The Competition

Brand/Model Engine Power/Torque Fuel, L/100km Seats Boot Capacity

Litres

Towing Capacity, Kg Price Highest to Lowest
BMW X5 xDrive30d 3.0L V6 turbo diesel 195kW/ 620Nm 7.2 5 650 3500 $135,200
Audi Q7 V6 TDI 3.0L V6 turbo diesel 160kW/ 500Nm 5.8 7 770 3500 $117,400
Mercedes-Benz GLE 250 d 2.2L i4 turbo diesel 150kW/ 500Nm 6.0 7 690 3500 $112,900
Volvo XC90 R-Design 2.0L i4 turbo diesel 177kW/ ?Nm 5.9 7 1102 2500 $110,900
VWTouareg TDI V6S 3.0L V6 turbo diesel 210kW/ 600Nm 8.1 5 810 3500 $109,390
Land Rover Discovery Pioneer Edition 3.0L V6 turbo diesel 190kW/ 600Nm 7.5 7 1137 3500 $99,990
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado VX Limited 2.8L V6 turbo diesel 130kW/ 450Nm 5.9 7 540 3000 $91,990
Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 3.2L V6 turbo diesel 200kW/ 315Nm 9.8 5 1027 2200 $91,990

The pros and cons

Pros Cons
  • Strong, modern looks
  • Hugely high-quality interior
  • Impressive handling
  • Top of the line features
  • Latest safety and driver’s aids
  • Led Matrix headlights
  • Innovision cockpit
  • Great value for its price
  • Lane assist issues – bit grabby
  • Rear seats do not go flat
  • Strong diesel sound


What we think

It’s definitely all new –  not much seems to have passed through from the precious model other than the name. A long time coming, but it’s has been worth the wait. It’s a great looking large SUV packed with all the latest gadgets and features you really need. The price is not cheap, but the value can really be seen.

If your budget can push over $100K, it’s the right choice for those who don’t want a ute, but instead something nice and comfy but not too egotistical.

I think the new VW Touareg will do well in New Zealand and I expect to see many of them on the roads in 2019.

Rating – Chevron rating (4 out of 5)

2018 VW Touareg TDI V6S

Vehicle Type Large SUV
Starting Price $109,390 plus on-road costs
Tested Price $122,390 plus on-road costs (factory options only)
Engine 3.0-litre Turbo Diesel V6
Power Kw / Torque Nm 210kW/600Nm
Transmission 8-speed tiptronic
0 – 100 kph, seconds 6.1
Spare Wheel Full-size light alloy spare wheel
Kerb Weight, Kg 2070
Length x Width x Height, mm 4878x1984x1702
Boot Capacity 810
Fuel Tank, litres 75
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – Combined –  8.1L / 100km

Real World Test – Combined –  10.5L / 100km

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

Towing 3500 kg braked
Turning circle 12 m

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

Warranty 3 year / 45,000 km mechanical warranty
ANCAP Rating 5 Star
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Extended Drive: 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/01/extended-drive-2019-mitsubishi-outlander-phev-vs-outlander-vrx-diesel-vs-outlander-ls-2-4-petrol/ https://www.drivelife.co.nz/2019/01/extended-drive-2019-mitsubishi-outlander-phev-vs-outlander-vrx-diesel-vs-outlander-ls-2-4-petrol/#respond Sun, 20 Jan 2019 23:00:11 +0000 https://www.drivelife.co.nz/?p=42004 Back in September 2018, John from Drive Life tested out the Mitsubishi Outlander VRX PHEV, and overall he was pretty impressed, giving it a 4.5 chevron rating. High praise from the man who has an Audi RS6 as a Daily Driver.

Then in December, I had to drive from Wellington to Auckland and back – and was lined up to take the Outlander VRX diesel on that trip, then keep it for a week. That plan didn’t happen, so Mitsubishi teed me up with the base LS 2.4-litre petrol model, then switched me into the VRX diesel for a few weeks when I got back.

No sooner had I got out of the VRX, and there was an Outlander PHEV waiting for me to use for three weeks over the Christmas break.

What could be better than that? Comparing the base model petrol, to the top-spec VRX diesel, then into the ‘base’ PHEV, plugin hybrid?

And so this is a story about my drive in the PHEV over Christmas, and comparing it to the other two models.

 

The Deal

First off, let’s talk about cost. The XLS ‘base’ model of PHEV has an RRP of $60,990, which is around $5K more than the top-spec VRX diesel ($56,990). The RRP of the VRX PHEV is $67,990. If you were in the market for an SUV, then the price difference over the diesel might really sway to you avoid that PHEV – that’s an $11,000 difference, and you lose two seats in the process.

But here’s the thing; Mitsubishi NZ have been running a special for a while now, with the XLS PHEV priced at $50,990 and the top-spec VRX PHEV priced at $55,990 – a grand cheaper than the VRX diesel.

Unless you absolutely need seven seats, your choice of SUV just got a whole lot harder.

Having driven both – which is better? A shame we didn’t get the VRX PHEV to compare apples and apples, but hey – we know what the specs are – you can read them here, in my review of the VRX diesel – so on the whole, doesn’t matter at all.

I covered 1,600km in the base model petrol, another 500km in the VRX diesel, then 850km in the PHEV – one Outlander after another. I think that gives me the edge in calling this fight, and deciding on the winner.

 

The Drive

When I picked up the PHEV, I did notice I was missing a few things that I liked in the VRX diesel, like heated seats and an electric tailgate. But I survived the hardship. The XLS-spec PHEV has most things you need, although blind spot monitoring was sorely missed.

One item I liked over the VRX was the suede/leather seats. I found the black leather in the VRX cooked my butt sometimes, after getting back into the car on a hot day. Not so in the PHEV – suede is always a great option for the centre of the seats, at least.

Another thing is does have that is needed is adaptive cruise control. However, like in the VRX, it beeps when a car pulls into or out of your lane when you are using adaptive cruise, which can become annoying.

But what about the PHEV side of things? There’s only a small capacity battery in the Outlander PHEV – just 12 kilowatts. Compare this to the Prius Prime at 8.8kW, and the Outlander PHEV looks much bigger. But with that extra weight, fully charged will take you 54km, according to Mitsubishi. But if it’s hilly or you hit the motorway, expect this figure to drop pretty quickly. You can adjust the regenerative braking amount using the paddles though, and this is always a good feeling, scoring some free power from going down hills. But you never get the same amount of range back that you used going up the hill.

While you can adjust the brake regen using the paddle shifters, you can also use the funky and cool gear lever. I do prefer this gear lever over say the Toyota Prius Prime; it’s much simpler and you can switch between drive/reverse etc without looking down. But I do wonder why you’d use the gear lever to change your brake regen, when it’s right there on the paddles. I think dropping that function from the gear lever would make things even simpler.

So, going up and down hills kills your range – big time. We live in Wellington, so that must factor into the buying decision quite a bit? Not really. In the first week and a half, we didn’t use any petrol at all. Not a drop. Every trip, I pushed the EV button to force the car to use battery only, no matter how hard I pressed the accelerator down.

Why didn’t we use any gas? We didn’t do long trips, and any motorway driving was short, so we always got home on a single charge.

A shame though that the Outlander PHEV doesn’t remember you had it in EV mode when you got out of the car – you have to manually select it every time you start the car. Ditto for the brake auto hold function – it doesn’t remember the setting you left it in. To be fair, not many cars do remember this, but it’s so handy when they do. Just to have a setting in the menu system to be able to force the car to remember things like this would be nice.

After a week and a half of driving around town, we hit the highway to go to Waikawa, a 200km round trip. We left home with 47km of full battery charge, and the engine started when we hit 33km from home – the motorway took all our juice. By the time we got home again, our EV ratio (of which we were proud when it stood at 100%) was sitting on 61%, and we had used fuel at 5.5l/100km.

That’s still a good number for a larger SUV, but not quite the claimed 1.7l/100km.

A few days later we hit the road again, this time heading to Castle Point, a 350km round trip. I must say, the handling on the petrol or diesel Outlander is very good – better than it should be – but the PHEV model is better again. We were following a late model Prado on that windy road, and he was all over the place, using up half the other lane at times to get around corners. We stayed on our side of the road the entire trip, and could have easily outpaced him.

I barely used my brakes at all on that road, using brake regeneration instead, and I’m am sure we could have taken most of the corners at double the posted advisory speed, if we had wanted to.

It may be only a small battery pack, and I’m guessing here, but that low-down weight of the PHEV seems to make it handle better than the petrol or diesel version.

On getting home from Castle Point, our fuel economy was 5.8l/100km, and our EV ratio had dropped to 52%. One thing I picked up on in my time with the PHEV, is that when using the adaptive cruise control, the car will turn off the regen setting you have on for the brakes, which is fine, but when you take adaptive cruise off again, it doesn’t put the setting back on. Not the end of the world, but I always drive with max regen, so found myself turning it back on quite regularly.

When John reviewed the VRX Outlander PHEV, he managed to get 69% EV out of it, and covered 1000 km with 398km of petrol still left in it. I did 850km, and had to put petrol on it.

So it all depends on use, as anyone would guess.

As is always the case with a hybrid, or plug-in hybrid, it’s the short trips where they shine. And let’s be honest, most of us do short trips anyway. This is why John got such a good result, and how we managed to get away with a week and a half of not using any petrol. This is the case with the Outlander PHEV too, but in this case you get a medium-large SUV and all the practicality that goes with that.

 

The Verdict

I shouldn’t have suggested I could call a winner on this one, and I hate to do this, but…it all depends.

Need seven seats? The PHEV won’t be on your list.

Need to tow? The PHEV won’t be on your list, with a maximum braked tow rating of 1,000kg.

But if those two things don’t factor in, I’d be going for the PHEV. A VRX model at a grand less than the diesel? No brainer.

Yes, yes, it wasn’t as economical as I thought it would be, or hoped it would be. But it has the potential to be very economical.

I see the Outlander PHEV won the 2018 DriveLife Eco Warrior award – and it deserves it. If you don’t want to spend $75,000 on the Kona EV and need more space than that – it’d be very hard to go past the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

So what about the base model petrol vs the VRX diesel? That’s a big price difference, and let’s be honest – you would probably be comparing the base model petrol to the base model diesel, but I’ve got to say, I was extremely impressed with the 2.4-litre petrol XLS Outlander – another Outlander I could easily live with.

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