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Author: Nicholas Henare

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.

 

PHOTOS JACK MORGAN MODEL AMELIE FROM PORTFOLIO MODELS

 

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.

 

 

PHOTOGRAPHY JACK PREBBLE MEDIA.

 

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.


 

Simple but elegant


When you’ve driven every Mitsubishi over the course of a year, one thing seems to be constant – simplicity, despite this simplicity, every vehicle from the Triton to the Pajero is packed to the brim with everything you need from a modern vehicle.

 

 

The Pajero Sport is no different.

This seven-seater has loads of room, quite the step up from its predecessor and that extends upwards, with my son Tom and I both gasping as we drove into the second floor of the Westfield Riccarton mall carparking building, convinced we were going to scrape the roof!

The Pajero Sports 20 MY’s power tail gate is always an asset and great for loading groceries, sports gear or school kit on a wet day.

A cool feature is you can use a smart phone app to open it too!

That same app can also be used as a vehicle locater, operation assist and vehicle information device.

How many times do you forget where you’re parked at said car park?

Front heated seats are good on the drive on the chilly mornings as well.

The new grille design gives the front end a little bit more polish and the lines on the vehicle have changed too.

It’s the wheel clearance on it that gives it such height and I’ll be honest, I took it for a little off-road test and it performed well, both in 4-wheel drive and 2-wheel drive.

There’s a 220-volt power plug in the back which means that if you take it off-road, you can power an electric pump for air beds or a little cooker or… whatever.

The 8-inch multi-functional display is adaptable for what you want to prioritise and, as always, Apple Car Play makes it easy on the iPhone user.

The sensor technology is also great, with a reversing camera and three-dimensional display so you know exactly where your car is in relation to curbs and obstacles.

There’s nothing worse than damaging your precious alloy wheels on curbs and this function will help you avoid this.

You’ll find 135kW of power and a whopping 437 Nm of torque on this beast, so towing the boat won’t ever be a problem.

Mitsubishi has a real knack for refining all the necessities into a simple but elegant package.

All that even comes at a good price, currently $59,000 plus on roads.

I could wax lyrical about the little details about the Pajero Sport but at the end of day, Mitsubishi really does have a version of the SUV/Utility vehicle for everyone.

What do YOU need?


 

Triumph of tech


I WAS HAVING A GREAT CONVERSATION WITH KAROL ABRASOWICZ-MADEJ FROM BMW RECENTLY ABOUT WHERE HE THOUGHT THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY WAS HEADING AND I WALKED AWAY WITH THE WORD INNOVATION AS KEY.

 

 

Electric vehicles, yes but more in the very way we use the technology and how that will interface with individuals.

We already have UBER, but imagine a future where the UBER is driverless and you can choose the type of vehicle you want to be picked up in.

With 5G communication availability, this scenario is no longer the stuff of science fiction, but it’s actually technology that many of the large motoring companies already have in development.

I can already see a future where the average person doesn’t require a garage, insurance or vehicle maintenance; one where the roads are less congested and the vehicles safer.

Some of the interfaces I’ve had with the latest vehicles on the road demonstrate just how close this reality is. What does surprise me is how quickly it is happening.


 

A luxury lifesaver


FORTUNATE TO HAVE THE MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER SPORT FOR TWO WEEKS, I REALLY GOT TO USE IT TO ITS FULL CAPACITY.

 

It’s one thing getting to drive something small and sporty, but when push comes to shove, the opportunity to take on a seven-seater with heaps of space ended up being a lifesaver.

Throw the seats down and you’ve got an extreme amount of space to carry everything you could possibly need.

Taking a group of friends to Diamond Harbour’s Sunday music festival, there was plenty of room for picnics and people.

That’s also where the 4×4 comes in handy, crossing paddocks and rough terrain with ease.

It’s also when you figure out how stable she stays fully loaded on the open road, just how pleasant the sunroof is, that the automatic boot is a godsend when trying to juggle picnic baskets and gear, and that power and simplicity of design make for a great experience, not just a good one.

Can you believe that all this comes in at under $39,900 without on-road costs?

I really pushed the boat out sharing the experience with family and friends, but it was such a good one, with the comments of those that joined me including “Oh this is nice” or “It feels great in the back!”

Now I’ve driven 7-seaters that cost four times as much in the last few months, but if you’re looking for a great looking seven-seater family option with class, you’ve found it here.