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Author: Nicholas Henare

New take on a sporty classic

It’s not the typical jump-in-and-go-get-Fish’n’chips, but you will soon spot Maserati’s new range like the Ghibli, Quattroporte and Levante around the place with a more unified look.



Maserati started producing cars in Bologna in 1914 with the iconic trident as its bonnet’s standard.

It’s a luxury car brand making 75,000 globally yearly. Now, the brand has confirmed substantial changes in styling to their entire range are in store.

First, we’ll see a new front grill and light cluster on the two sedans and SUV. Inside, there is a new generation Maserati Intelligent Assistant – I wonder if it will give you the best pick on Italian restaurants?

Based on Android and not the almighty Apple, the big question is how far will the enhanced driver assist technology go?

The Ghibli sports sedan is also coming in a hybrid, Maserati’s first go at electric.

But don’t fret – with a complete range including V6 and V8 petrol, four-cylinder hybrid and V6 diesel powerplants, with rear-wheel and four-wheel drive, there’s pretty much something for everyone.

Then there is the MC20, named China Performance Car of the Year 2021. The highly anticipated awards were officially announced recently in Guangzhou.

Closely followed by both industry insiders and consumers, the awards aim to promote the continuous improvement of China’s automotive industry and market.

A jury comprised of 41 authoritative judges from the automotive media measure each vehicle against overall and market performance, as well as other key factors.

The MC20 is a very sexy beast though and, like you, I would love to get behind the wheel to get the full experience.

Developed by the Maserati Innovation Lab and produced at the historic plant in Modena, MC20 is 100 percent made in Italy.

Its superb looks conceal an uncompromisingly sporty soul, with the new 630 horsepower V6 Nettuno engine that delivers 0 to 100km/h acceleration in under 2.9 seconds.

Let’s say that again, 2.9 seconds!

With a top speed over 325km/h, that’s Christchurch to Ashburton in 16 minutes. “Sorry officer, was I speeding?”

The patented engine has been developed, designed, and built entirely in-house. With the new super sports car MC20, the trident brand officially started a new era.

The more I look at the images, the more I think I have a Maserati sporty soul.



The perfect fit

The name Kamiq originates from the language of the Inuit people, native to Northern Canada and Greenland. It means, “something that fits perfectly”. And I think that says it all.



I live a pretty busy life, which means I need a car that is easy-to-use and equipped to deal with all my requirements for passengers and cargo.

When I went through the briefing of the Skoda Kamiq with the team at Miles Continental, the word “compact” kept getting used.

Now, compact means small but that’s not what the Kamiq felt like at all.

Comfortable and easy to drive, Skoda really do nail simplicity with style and at a very competitive price.

There are three variations in the range, starting with the Ambition at $30,990 with 85kW up to the Monte Carlo, at $42,990 with 110kW, which is what I
got to play with. It is a turbo petrol and has 250Nm of torque and a five-star safety rating – which is always a good thing.

My love started with my 2018 car of the year being the Superb, so adding another good car to the Skoda range makes sense.

What’s left to say if you’re hunting for a fun, compact SUV? This fits perfectly.


In your glass: Big Daddy’s Liqour

A sophisticated tipple never goes astray. Metropol writer Nicholas Henare discovers the best drops at Big Daddy’s liquor stores this month.


Chivas Regal 18 years

Chivas Regal was founded in 1786, with its home being in the Strathisla distillery at Keith Moray in Speyside, Scotland and is the oldest continuously operating Highland distillery.
Chivas Regal has been a market-leading Scotch whisky aged 12 years and older in Europe and Asia Pacific. This blended whisky has been the world’s fourth best seller since 2016 and the winner of numerous awards and accolades.
When you first get the waft of this whisky classic, an elegant multi-layered aroma of dried fruit, spices and buttery toffee touches the nose. And that first taste? Exceptionally rich and smooth. A velvety dark chocolate palate with elegant floral flavours and a gentle sweet mellow smokiness. The finish is rich, elegant, and long. A truly complex blend with 85 flavours in every drop. A fine addition to any whisky shelf.

700ml, $89.99



The Glenlivit 12 years

The Glenlivit is an exceptional whisky with vibrant aromas of summer meadows and tropical fruits, notably pineapple. With floral notes, there is also smooth and sweet fruit tones of fresh peaches pairs, vanilla, marzipan and fresh hazelnuts. The iconic whisky expression representing this iconic brand’s Speyside-house style.

700ml, $64.99





Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish gin

This fine gin has a lot of bang for buck. A great taste of oriental botanicals it has an exceptional gin taste that will get your guns going. Made in a shed at the edge of a lake by a small Irish town, this gin really is bespoke with a mix of great citrus and gunpowder tea. Drumshanbo…BANG!

700ml, $89.99






Fords London Dry Gin

Distilled in London at Thames Distillers, Fords Gin is a collaboration between eighth generation Master Distiller Charles Maxwell and Simon Ford at the 86 Company. A modern take on a classic, Fords starts with a traditional base of juniper and coriander seed and is balanced by citrus, florals and spices that are steeped for 15 hours before being distilled. Each creates the perfect, versatile base for any gin-inspired cocktail.


700ml, $59.99




Whitley Neill Floral

A London dry gin made with African botanicals including extracts from the Baobab Tree (known as the Tree of Life). It is made in a one-hundred-year-old copper pot still, and straight from the family recipe book – eight generations later. Try with tonic and a slice of orange on a hot summer day.

700ml, $54.99





Big Daddy’s Stores

Blenheim Road
280 Blenheim Rd, Riccarton
(03) 343 1523

Brougham Street
151 Waltham Road, Sydenham
03) 3665737

227 Linwood Avenue, Linwood
(03) 381 3660

205 Hills Road, Shirley
(03) 386 0528

60 Queenspark Drive, Parklands
(03) 383 2478

7 Halswell Road, Hillmorton
(03) 338 7733

28 High Street, Rangiora
(03) 310 8200


Model Performance

I love the Mini for a load of reasons but when the Mini Electric three door hatch turned up as my last review for 2020, I wondered how the electric performance would compare against the standard Mini.




An iconic brand loved with a passion by their owners, the stoic love of Britain is emblazoned almost everywhere you look with Mini. On the Mini electric it’s the rear taillights, but on several I’ve seen, the whole roof is the good ol’ Union Jack.

The difference permeates the interior also, those round shape finishings even go to the door handles which confused more than one passenger I took for a drive; is it a door opener or a heating vent?

There are cool sunroof controls and a HiFi Harmon Kardon system that rocks your favourite drive tunes. But what about that all important drive?

It has three drive modes; sport, normal and green mode. Sport is just a whole lot of vroom, winding down to green mode which is the most economic use of the battery life.

I quite liked this mode as I used it as a form of braking for corners and tight turns while at the same time replenishing the battery.

$59,900 plus ORC makes this a remarkably interesting option for anyone wanting an electric vehicle with bling.

You really can bespoke it to make it your own. And that is what I noticed a lot while driving – every Mini I saw was different.

Just the way its owner wanted it. How much fun is that? Which is exactly what this car was for me: Fun to drive, fun to take people out in, fun to look at.

Selena Andreassend at Mini on Moorhouse Avenue walked me round the car to show me a few features.

What was really cute, was the wheel rims are shaped like a three-point plug. So is the charging port cover – and I’m very happy to inform you it charges through a standard garage plug overnight.

It has a 233km range which gives you plenty of opportunity to recharge during the day and there’s no stress with, “Uh oh! I’m low on charge!” like I’ve had on other electric vehicles.

Series one is already sold out and series two sounds like it’s going to be just as popular.

The electric wave is sweeping the industry and what a wonderful addition to the Mini fleet. Zero to 100 in 7.3 (it felt much faster than that but who am I to argue), 135kW and 270Nm.

Overall Mini hasn’t sacrificed anything on its conversion to electric, if anything it’s better than it was before. I was worried about losing what Mini is as a brand. I shouldn’t have been. This is the best Mini ever!


Putting the car in care

I can be accused of being a bit of an automotive snob. Most of the time I’m reviewing high-powered style machines where we are looking at 0 to 100km/h in under six seconds. This is not one of those reviews.





As I sighed at the spec sheet that stated 58Kw and 102Nm torque as David Boyd from Mitsubishi on Moorhouse Avenue sat in the passenger seat giving me “highlights” I drifted back to the memory of the Mitsubishi Mirage of my youth.

It has been around for many a decade and I still remember the iconic shape of the late ‘80s. Introduce the new Mirage 2020 and what do we have?

The new facelift gives it a change from our last model, but the biggest changes lays in its rear bumper and front grill.

The 7-inch touch screen display is very functional and to be honest, I was quite surprised by the amount of bang you get for buck on this. Lane departure system and revision camera, 1.2L, 15-inch alloys and Apple Car Play with quite a comprehensive interaction.

I mean, I’m sitting in a car that comes in under $22,000 right? This has got systems cars twice its price struggle for. Hmmm, time to take the test drive.

The thing that really blew me away is I spent days driving it around the city and then took it to Hanmer Springs for the weekend. When it got near empty, I filled it up – for $60! That can’t be right, but it was.

This is not the usual rip-snorter high specification luxury car that I am used to driving and it is not aimed at me.

This is the great car that is reliable, cost effective and easy to drive, protecting you with features designed to keep others safe as well.

This is the car you want your kids to drive, your grandma or someone you want to look after. The protection and systems are built to look after people who want to get from A to B with little effort and cost.

It’s got enough room to do most things, but this is not an SUV or luxury sports car.

This is a car, plain and simple. For $21,990 plus on roads you’ve got a not just good, but a great, little get around vehicle.

My car snobbery put aside, this isn’t a car for me – this is a car for someone you care for.


In Focus

The team at Ford are always delivering a great range of vehicles to suit everyone’s needs. The Ford Ranger currently sits at number one in New Zealand, but now it’s time to drop the spotlight on the Ford Focus ST, a hatch with the exhilaration of a Mustang.


This is a multi-award winning car in AA New Zealand Car of the Year Awards.

Not only does it have multiple drive modes, it also ticks the aesthetic boxes.

A panoramic sunroof with visor; exceptional lines starting from the bonnet all the way to its hot rear; Porsche-style alloy rims in metallic grey just accentuate the great colour of ruby red. I just had to test drive.

Recaro sport seating was another brilliant feature with the wonderful white stitching on exquisite leather. Even the door panels were that little bit more lush.

Operationally, dial gear change is always a challenge for me as I have a manual as my personal car and I’m a bit of a control freak. Fumbling around to do three point turns on a busy Christchurch street can be a challenge. You can say it makes the interior “cleaner” – but I still love a gear lever!

You can change gears at your fingertips with the paddle shifters, which help when cornering, and it has got some real up and go.

With an eight-speed automatic, 206 kW and 420 Nm it doesn’t feel like a four cylinder, 2.3L – and you certainly need those front ventilated disc brakes!

There’s a heads-up display which makes you feel like a fighter pilot not taking your gaze off the road.

Combine that with all the added sports features and you’ve got a little rocket.

There’s also improved acceleration from the last model, and the very smooth gear changing made for a great test week.

Taking a trip on my favourite test road to the Sign of the Kiwi put it next to the VW Golf GTi as one of my favourite agile performance vehicles.

Hill start assist is also an asset, even though I’m old school on hill starts. And even though I really don’t need the satellite navigation system, I can imagine it’s a great addition for those that do.

The interior is tidy and very sporty with leather trim. There’s a lot of bang for buck with the price at $59,990 plus on road costs.

With the options on this, it would be hard to go past a test drive with Hemi Peek and the team out at Avon City Ford. It’s great hatchback at a great price.


Join the Rayvolution

Being an automotive writer, I’ll have a go at anything; especially when it has an element of fun – and wheels.


With the advance of technology and capability of new and improved battery life we are seeing a surge of cost-effective electric vehicles.

This of course brings into the limelight the electric bicycle.

I have not ridden one before so when Greg Sneddon from Rayvolt offered me the opportunity to test one for a bit, I did. On a beautiful day in the garden city, I had a run through with the Rayvolt Cruzer.

Rayvolt are based in Spain and produce a wide range of what I would call bespoke, steampunk-style bicycles.

Think gun metal, Clockwork Orange and English racing green, along with leather seating and carrier bags to provide a very “yesteryear” feel.

Download the ELVA app to customise all your settings, from speed right through to effort ratios. It also has music and a GPS.

I decided to just go with the fastest option with the least amount of effort and I was off on a thrill of a ride. Using 13 electric cells with 48V and 10.5 Amp Hours (ah) on the standard battery and 48.21 on the duel – you have quite an amazing range of 120km.

Sailing round North Hagley park was sheer exhilarating fun. Overall, the experience was well worth it; 10 out of 10 and that’s just for fun.

Yesterday’s charm, tomorrow’s technology, today’s fun. If you’re looking at an electric bicycle, you might as well join the Rayvolution.


The Ultimate VW Challenge: Tiguan vs T-Cross R-Line

Here is the challenge: you’re loading up for a weekend trip with three women to go to Maruia Springs. You’ve got pillows, blankets, makeup bags, bags for shoes, bags for clothes, bags for swimming…basically everything bags.


They have had time to prep so it’s my job – while they have a few wines – to fill the Volkswagen Tiguan from Miles Continental, like a real-life Tetris video game.

Luckily for me, the 1395cc Tiguan TSI Comfortline 2WD has plenty of boot space for its $41,385 price tag. The rear tailgate opener also comes in handy.

On the road, the cabin space up front is amazingly comfortable and drive wise it handles beautifully – you wouldn’t even notice all the gear loaded up.

The 8-inch touch glass screen display with Apple CarPlay is making it easy for the girls to flick between Spice Girls and Beyoncé with the easy-access USB for charging.

It felt gentle to drive and comfortable over a long distance, the lane assist was there but not full on like some brands, and the climate control air conditioning worked impressively well.

With parallel park assist, a five-year 150,000km warranty and 17-inch Tulsa alloys making it look pretty, it has all the bells and whistles.

Before we got to Maruia for a beautiful platter (Tom Tulk is an exceptional chef) the girls wanted to visit Reefton Distillery to try the Little Biddy gin tasting. Now, this is quite a journey with some windy turns and uphill grades.

The Tiguan handled it beautifully, an incredibly smooth drive with the suspension perfectly in tune with the road. Back at Maruia, we parked up next to the pools and relaxed after a good five-odd hour drive.

Now here’s the tricky part: repeating the experience but with three teenagers in the Volkswagen T-Cross R-Line.

The T-Cross R-Line starts at $43,490, is a 4-cylinder inline turbo at 110kW and 250Nm front wheel drive 7-speed.

The exterior is a little boxier in shape with the R-Line having a funkier bumper system than the standard.

Now, the audio system is almost identical and what surprised me was the boy’s choice in sound was identical to the girls.

With everything packed up, there seemed like more available room in the T-Cross than the Tiguan, but the boys did pack a bit lighter. On the open road it handled well.

Which was better? They are almost the same price, they almost have the same features, they performed almost identically.

At the end of the day I think it’s going to come down to personal choice. I guess you must test drive it for yourself at Miles Continental.


An electrifying ride

When I picked up the Mercedes EQC 4matic from Armstrong Mercedes the only thing that rattled my head was that name, EQC. Something that, when I posted on Instagram, I got a few messages about.

Jack Prebble Media


But as this beautiful machine glided out onto the motorway and I placed my foot on the brushed alloy AMG accelerator, all bad reminders were left 5.1 seconds behind me as this beautifully lined, refined electric vehicle took off.

I had Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy pumping through the 13-speaker, nine-channel, 590w Burmester surround sound system with the interior AMG lighting system turning to a cool blue.

Gripping the multi-function Nappa leather sports steering wheel, that gnarly little smile crept onto my face and I knew I was in for a great day on the road.

Being fully electric, the EQC has a range of 354km, with the emergency AC-DC adapter for a backup option.

The electricity on a low output standard house plug just does not have the juice to power the battery fast enough if you are exceeding, like me, 80km a day.

You can recharge at stations around the city, but I highly recommend you install the Wallbox charging system.

This is a stunnin

g electric vehicle: a 300kw duel electric engine 0 to 100km on 5.1 (but it feels much faster than that), 4Matic all-wheel drive, 760Nm torque – all with a base price of $142,000.


I was going to write shocking to be funny but that would make it sound bad, and it is not in any way at all.


Jack Prebble Media

My model had some up-spec roller sun blinds and 21-inch multi-spoke wheels. The multi-spoke wheels are a total stunner as was the diamond white paint job.

Now it’s not often an up-spec spins my wheels, forgive the pun, but it really does give a bespoke look to an already outstanding vehicle.

Back to back with the standard model there is quite a different look to it and damn it, it is sexier.

I took my friend Lisa out to get a woman’s perspective on it. After a lovely lunch at Botanic we took a leisurely drive. Afterward I asked her what she thought.

The verdict? “Luxurious with impressive lighting and super sexy rose gold air vents, girls love that.”

She went on to wax lyrical: “A gorgeous car, great lines. I absolutely loved it and it’s the first car I’ve been in, in ages, that I would really like to own.”

Believe me, this woman knows what she wants so this is a five-star rating.

It gets a five-star from me with the reminder that you must install the Wallbox home charging system.

If you’re making a choice on electric vehicles this year, please finish with the Mercedes EQC 4matic. It is an electrifying vehicle. Badumdum.

Jack Prebble Media


Top of its automotive game: Skoda Karoq

Skoda was founded in 1850 as an arms producer before later moving into transportation in 1895.



It was Skoda that produced the velocipede bicycle and the later Czech-designed Panzer 38(t) armored vehicle became one of the world’s best at the time.

The 1960s saw an increase in exporting from Czechoslovakia, with models like the Octavia Super and in the 70s and 80s it was the Rapid and Estelle that were the big sellers.

Today Skoda is one of the world’s best car developers, with revenue in the billions.

Now part of the Volkswagen family, Skoda is at the top of its automotive game.

The 2018 Superb was my personal car of the year with some outstanding features and ‘bang for buck’. It’s a theme that has continued with the new Skoda Karoq 110kW MY20.

With a price point of $44,990 for petrol and $50,990 for diesel, you can start going over the list of features and it’s got everything it takes to tick the box as a great value, strong performing family SUV.

Automatic tail gate opening is also a good start. The turbo petrol version seems to be quite economical on gas.

The 110kW provides enough power and 250 Nm, enough torque; 0-100 in 8.8 isn’t a Ferrari but it’s not meant to be one!

The cabin has a simple but elegant interior with lots of room and expansive windscreen and Apple car play and connectivity are downright easy.

The lines are so good, it took me a good five minutes to find the USB point hidden under a cover near the centre console.

With a five-year warranty up to 150,000km, it seems like a pretty simple buy.

Electric folding, heated side mirrors are great for the winter days and the Skoda carpet lighting on the doors allow you to look for the puddles when stepping out after a good rain.

Leather seating isn’t standard, but you can up spec the whole car including alloys and steering wheel for an extra $3,500.

The breaking assist is nice and gentle too, airbags, side assist and reversing camera are all there, so for the safety conscious, you get a lot for this low price point.

It’s simple and cost-effective and these days, simple and cost effective are very important. Check it out at Miles Continental for your own test drive.