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A refreshing highlander


 

For some, a Highlander is a rugby player from the deep south, to others, an 80s fantasy film starring Sean Connery. To Toyota, a Highlander is a mid-sized SUV, and a big seller.

 

Sarah Weber

 

For 2021, the Highlander has been refreshed for the fourth time, with a recent launch in Auckland and Paihia to show what’s new.
The new Highlander is being built at Toyota’s US plant in Indiana, and New Zealand and Australia are the only right-hand-drive markets getting it. Styling wise, with its wide grill and wing-like spindle, it does have a whiff of “the land of the free”.

The range starts at Toyota’s Driveaway Price of $60,990 for the entry level GXL 3.5L V6 Petrol and finishes at $74,990 for the high end 2.5L four-cylinder Limited ZR Hybrid. Two variants of the petrol are on offer, but Toyota is championing the three GXL, Limited and Limited ZR Hybrid options to spearhead its sales.

Longer by 60mm and 5mm wider, it also weighs 75kg less than the previous generation. The interior is well laid out, with all the switchgear for the infotainment system being very intuitive. It comes with a plethora of standard kit including LED headlights, rain sensing wipers, hill start assist, parking sensors all around, reversing camera, blind spot monitoring, keyless entry with push button start, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

Toyota’s safety sense package is standard across the range with pre-collision system with autonomous emergency braking, emergency steering assist, lane tracing assist, lane departure alert, radar cruise control, curve speed reduction, and road sign assist. The ZR Hybrid has other goodies such as a marvellous panoramic roof, heated and ventilated leather seats, sat nav and an impressive 11-speaker JBL sound system.

Our drive started at Emirates Team New Zealand HQ on Auckland’s Viaduct and we made our way north to Paihia. The Hybrid was certainly frugal on the juice, however it felt distinctly softer in the corners despite the torque delivery of petrol and electric power being linear and responsive. By contrast, both the GXL and Limited petrol models felt sportier in the corners, but you don’t get the same level of straight-line grunt.

Then again, as we made our way from Paihia to the amazing sight of 2000-year-old kauri tree, Tane Mahuta, the Highlander showed it was never about devouring bendy bitumen, but more about being a comfortable and solid performer on a long trip, which it managed quite well.

As far as first impressions go, the latest Highlander, thanks to the levels of kit and the inclusion of Hybrid could very well tip the segment in favour of Toyota. I’m looking forward to testing it out on Canterbury roads soon.

 


 

Defying the limits


 

Your pulse is racing. You’ve managed to figure out how the butterfly doors open so at least you can slide into the McLaren GT.

 

Photo: SHOTSBYJACK

You have been shown the button that raises the vehicle in case you need to go across a judder bar or up an angled driveway without tearing off the underside of the car because it’s THAT low. You’re clenching the key as you ease into the sports leather seating of

McLaren’s mid-engine V8 supercar Grand Tourer (GT) and push start.

WOW! Seconds later the exhilarating roar of the engine brings the biggest smile to your face as you leave AVID car detailing at 59 Harmen Street where Giltrap Motor Group has brought some of its finest cars to Christchurch to share with autophiles like me. There are three modes. Comfort, Sport and ‘my insurance policy won’t cover that one’. I’m sticking to comfort until I hit the motorway.
Stopping at the start of the 100km sign, I drop it into sport and put my foot down. Immediately I’m pushed back in my seat, and oh what a comfortable seat it is. The 4-litre V8 reaches 100kmh with its 612 horsepower in 3.2 seconds. I didn’t see that myself, but I don’t doubt that it is true.

Motorways are great for slow curving speed bends but it’s the Port Hills where I test its agility. I leave early to hit the sunrise at Godley Head so photographers Harrison Fann and Jack Morgan have the best lighting to capture its angled beauty. Every bump and turn is felt, and the car hugs the ground as each wheel knows exactly what to do.

My main fear is overdoing it. I had a friend who wrote his off, sending it into a ditch so I’m very aware that as good as I think I am, the car might have other ideas. Shaun Summerfield from Giltrap was right though, don’t be afraid. The car’s designed to do most of the work; you just point it in the right direction and watch as you corner as if it is on rails. ABS and driveline traction control keep this puppy safe. Jordan Darrow from Auckland McLaren says: “The McLaren GT is the every day supercar with an emphasis on comfort and being lightweight” and I agree.

Accelerating out of a tight corner in the GT is arguably every car-lover’s dream; it’s almost impossible to describe it. Cool? Nah! Super Cool! Using the metal paddles for a manual option raises it a whole nother thrill level.

The Bowers and Wilkins sound system is blasting out my favourite drive music, yet the sweetest sound is hearing the engine roar as I purposely corner in lower gears. You can choose your sound options at no extra cost, even if the engine itself is music to your ears.

There’s room enough to throw your golf clubs in the back plus space for luggage too. The McLaren GT comes with a nice glassy tailgate but no “there’s my engine” flashiness. It is totally refined, and its angles are pure art. The carbon fibre body is strong and light and less angled than its racetrack equivalent. Yes, sexier!

Standing watching the sunrise above Scarborough was breath-taking. Combine that with the experience of driving a supercar at the top of its game and you have my number one drive of all time.

The cliché is right: It is the journey not the destination… in a McLaren Grand Tourer V8.

 


 

 

Cruise into Mega Motorcycles: Mega Motorcycle Centre


Mega Motorcycle Centre has become a hub for Canterbury motorcyclists and anyone who loves bikes. Formerly known as Budget Motorcycle Spares, it has grown, as the new name suggests, into a biker’s paradise of mega proportions. “Mega Motorcycle Centre is very much a one stop-shop for everything to do with motorcycling,” says Mega Motorcycle Centre’s Sam Davison.

 

What started a shop for spares, accessories, and riding apparel, has grown exponentially into a fully-fledged engineering facility with engine tuning, dyno testing and other mechanical work.

“We can carry out any form of mechanical tuning or upgrades to your bike,” says Sam.

Also, Sam, Dennis and the team of tight-knit mechanics and technicians are some of the most passionate motorcycle enthusiasts around. They know their stuff and can take on everything from a simple service to a full engine rebuild.

Mega Motorcycle Centre also welcomes any brand of bike into the shop. The team knows what unites keen motorcyclists is the love of the ride, regardless of what they are into.

So, whether you get your kicks on your Harley-Davidson Softail Cruiser, or your Ducati 916 Sports Bike, you are more than welcome at Mega Motorcycle Centre, 334 Wilsons Road, Waltham, Christchurch.

 


 

Is your ride road ready? Leading Edge Automotive


Spring is here at last. The days are getting longer and best of all, the weather is getting warmer.
Now is as good a time as any for a road trip in our own backyard. However, making sure your wheels are tip top before you hit the road is paramount.

 

At 480 Selwyn Street, Leading Edge Automotive can provide you with the servicing, diagnostics and mechanical know-how to give you peace of mind motoring while traversing the open roads of New Zealand. Leading Edge are specialists in late model European cars but are more than capable of working on all makes and models.

Leading Edge can do it all. The team’s latest diagnostic equipment can pinpoint any problem and reveal the best way to remedy it.

Their experienced team of technicians are always acquiring new skills and attending advanced training seminars, such as specialised electric vehicle training, to build on their already vast knowledge of technology and how complex components work and interact.

Leading Edge Automotive also provide you with a courtesy vehicle from its fleet of 10, which also includes the very popular all-electric Nissan Leaf.

So whether your spring journey is a few hundred kilometres, or just around the block, Leading Edge Automotive will give your car the onceover it deserves.


 

Prevention better than the cure


With the summer heat putting the real pressure on your air conditioning system, are you taking your system for granted? Does it seem like it’s not as cool as it used to be? Did you know that you should have it serviced every two years?

 

On average you lose 10 percent of the refrigerant gas that’s required for air conditioning your vehicle every year.

The team at Leading Edge checks this in a service. It’s that knowledge that puts them above others in the market.

They will also replace the cabin filter which becomes blocked with pollen, dust and road grit, giving you fresher, healthier air inside the vehicle.

Here’s a tip: Leading Edge recommends running your air conditioning system regularly, even in the winter, as the refrigerant contains a light mineral oil to keep the compressor properly lubricated.

Leading Edge not only provides services but also takes care of warrants of fitness, auto electrics, tyres and wheel alignments, brakes, steering and suspension and so much more, using the latest diagnostic equipment.

All of their work is guaranteed and the team of skilled, professional people with a wide, up-to-date knowledge base of European, Japanese and electric cars are going to know what your car needs to get the job sorted.

With 10 free courtesy cars, give them a call today.

You can find Leading Edge at 480 Selwyn Street, just down from the Z service station on Moorhouse Avenue or phone 03 366 3384.