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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.


 

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

 

Upping the game


After nine years, we have a new Toyota Yaris. The first of Toyota’s new TNGA “B” Platform, and it happens to be rather nice.

 

As far as looks go, the Yaris is more rakish and aggressive than its predecessor, with a gaping whale shark-esque grill and frowning headlights, it certainly looks like this urban supermini wants to be a sports car. It also sits 10mm lower and the wheelbase is longer by 40mm.

My test car was the base GX petrol priced at $25,990. Under the bonnet sits an all-new 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine producing 88kW of grunt and 145Nm of torque.

Transmission comes in the form of a rather slick CVT. Fuel consumption is also rated at a decent 4.9L/100km.

The new Yaris gets a fair amount of kit as is standard, such as dynamic radar cruise control, active lane keep assist, eight air bags, and a new Pre-Collision System.

The latter works by alerting the driver of crossing pedestrians or cyclists at hard-to-see intersections.

The cockpit itself is a mixture of durable plastics and funky design touches.

The driving position is low and comfortable, while visibility is decent all round.

My only gripe was slightly intrusive A-pillars.

On the move, the three-pot engine is incredibly refined throughout the rev range, and when you select PWR mode, a firm foot can bring the horizon closer at a brisker rate than first expected.

The Yaris GX has certainly raised its game and proved the old warrior has plenty of life left in it.


 

Caring for your pride and joy: KBL Automotive


When it comes to taking care of your German car, look no further than KBL Automotive. KBL, formerly Kevin Burt Ltd, really is the definitive one stop shop for your Mercedes, BMW, Audi or Volkswagen.

 

 

Incorporating all the latest dealer diagnostic equipment, your C-Class, A4 or 3-Series will be well catered for, thanks to a team of qualified technicians and engineers with 60 years of experience between them.

Whether in for a service, repairs, or a general once over, KBL can do it all.

The team has have also tread into tyre sales and fitting, with many brands on offer to suit your European car. KBL also have a full complement of specialist factory tools to undertake a wide variety of services.

Also, a classic Mercedes is always welcome, with many owners of classic Mercedes models throughout the South Island choosing KBL as their garage of choice.

So, if your rare SL280 Pagoda, or 500 SEC needs a service or touch up, KBL can give your pride and joy the definitive once over.

The garage is also an approved repairer for all mechanical warranty companies and WINZ.

They carry out the warranty recommended and approved servicing and can undertake the claims and any repairs required.

For more information, visit online or call (03) 365 0531.


 

A model makeover: Honda Cars


The Honda CRV has been with us for many a moon, and for many SUV owners, it remains a crowd favourite. The CRV has been given an automotive nip and tuck for 2021, so what exactly has changed?

 

Well the outside benefits from a few styling tweaks, such as a redesigned front and rear lip, European style exhausts and new look 18-inch alloys.

Grunt for all models comes from a 1.5L turbocharged VTEC four-cylinder engine with 140kW/240Nm mated to Honda’s CVT transmission.

It is quite a refined power unit, and pulls strongly above 2,000rpm.

The range starts at $39,990 for the CRV Touring and tops out at the $51,790 CRV AWD Sport Premium. However, the level of kit you get as standard is quite impressive.

Hands Free Electric Tailgate, intelligent dual zone climate control, advanced display audio with 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Garmin Sat Nav, LED daytime running lights, parking sensors front and rear, reversing camera and lane watch camera.

Honda’s sensing safety gizmos also come as standard across the range. The Sport Premium, my test car, gets AWD, leather trim, and 19-inch sports alloys.

The Sport and Sport Premium also get wireless charging for the first time, too.

The CRV manages to still drive very nicely, although it is most at home commuting or motorway cruising.

All in all, these little tweaks have transformed the CRV from a decent SUV, into a very desirable package.


 

Very sweet turbo


When we think of big SUVs from Mercedes AMG, big V8-bellowing all terrain missiles spring to mind.

BRAD LONGWORTH

 

In curry terms, the range topping GLE 63 AMG is the full chicken vindaloo, hot and spicy.

Whereas the $180,100 GLE 53 AMG is more of a chicken madras, in other words, a milder offering in terms of performance. Under the bonnet sits a very sweet turbo 3L straight six.

The turbo part of the equation refers to a single turbo, electric compressor and EQ Boost generator, making the GLE 53 a mild hybrid.

Grunt is rated at 320kW/520Nm. Also, Mercedes’ Speedshift 9-speed automatic gearbox and 4-Matic four-wheel drive make a welcome appearance. Fuel consumption is rated at a combined 9.4L/100km and zero to 100km/h is despatched in 5.3 seconds.

Styling wise, AMG’s tentacles are everywhere. The front spoiler is more aggressive, and the optional matte black AMG alloys on my test car look epic. Inside, AMG sports leather chairs make for a comfortable yet supportive place to sit and the AMG performance steering wheel is lovely to hold.

Standard kit includes the latest MBUX infotainment and voice recognition system, side-by-side 12.3-inch digital screens, a head-up display, heated front seats, ambient lighting with 64 colours and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Safety kits provide active parking assist, active brake assist with cross-traffic alert, steering assist, lane change assist, active blind spot assist and traffic sign assist.

On the move and you do make brisk progress, but as this is the AMG Lite, things aren’t as rapid as you would first expect, not slow but not rapid. However, selecting Sport or Sport Plus makes a big difference, especially as it activates AMG Active Exhaust, allowing you to hear more of that glorious sounding turbo six.

On the straight and narrow, the AMG Ride Control with air suspension offers a supple ride but feels a bit soft in the bends. Putting the adaptive dampers in Sport Plus will firm things up well enough. If you decide to leave the beaten track, then trail and sand modes are available, that said the average GLE 53 owners won’t be climbing every mountain and fording every stream.

There is plenty to like about the new Mercedes GLE 53 AMG, however if I wanted a GLE with some AMG goodness, I would go whole hog and get the V8 every time.


 

Premium all-rounder


The Mazda CX30 blew us away a few months back when we tested the mid-range GTX and flagship Limited. So, what about the base GSX? Is the bare essentials CX30 worth your time?

 

The GSX at $41,490, gets a very refined 2L four-cylinder Skyactiv engine with 114kW/200Nm. Mazda’s i-Activsense safety comes as standard which features lane-keep, active cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and active emergency braking.

Front and rear passengers can slob out in comfort, but 430L is average boot space at best.

However, the feel of a premium cabin for this kind of money is peerless. On the move, the 2L four pot pulls well, but the 2.5L petrol in the GTX and Limited, is that little bit more refined by comparison.

Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control steering is light and still manages to be direct and communicative. Plus, with the smaller alloys on the GSX, ride comfort, while very supple before, is even more comfortable.

The GSX is a great all-rounder as starting point in the CX30 line-up, but thanks to the higher spec $44,990 GTX’s 2.5L Skyactiv engine, forking over the extra $3K would be a no brainer.


 

Sublime wagon, cool ride


Wagons will always be much cooler than SUVs. One manufacturer whose history is littered with wagons is Volvo. Here is their new V60 Estate T8 AWD R Design, and it is something mighty special.

 

Volvo V60 T8 Test Drive in Luleå, Sweden

The T8 part means a 2.0 four-cylinder petrol engine with supercharging and turbocharging, coupled to a plug-in 64kW battery pack, electric motors, and eight-speed Geartronic automatic.

Power figures of 311kW/670Nm are very generous, and 0 to 100km/h time of 4.5 seconds is sports car quick.

Being a plug in, the V60 can run up to 40km on just electric power, ideal for the daily commute.

Outside there are no flashy bits or carbon fibre add-ons here, just subtle details like the “Thor’s Hammer” daytime running lights.

The R Design 19-inch five triple spoke alloys, front grille, gloss black wing mirrors are the only indication of hidden sporting prowess.

Inside, a very clear and concise 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system greets you.

Kit includes Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, 360 Reversing Camera, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Information System with Steer Assist, Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Oncoming Lane Mitigation, Park Assist, and Volvo’s City Safe braking system.

My test car, valued at $114,900, also came with the optional $6500 Premium Pack.

This means tinted windows, full panoramic sunroof, and a rather epic Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound System, which is the closest you will get to hearing the works of Hans Zimmer live. Pop the boot and you find another Volvo wagon hallmark, space, 529L of it.

On the move, you barrel along in distinct quiet. Weighing in at 2200kg, it is a hefty fella, but very planted. Select “Polestar Engineered Mode” and the barrelling becomes a rapid waft, while no track day hero, the T8 can cover ground in quick succession.

In the bends, her steering is responsive but somewhat lacking in feedback.

That said, blasting point to point is not what the V60 T8 is about. Will the V60 T8 R-Design be a big seller for Volvo? Probably not.

Is it still a sublime wagon for those who want something totally unique? Absolutely.


 

Definitive one-stop-shop: Hammonds


We have all been there. A slight lapse of concentration by you or someone else and before you know it, your pride and joy is no longer factory fresh. Hammonds Collision Centre knows these things can happen, which is why it’s still Christchurch’s leading panel and paint repair shop.

 

Located at 46 Battersea Street, Sydenham, Hammonds Collision Centre has prided itself as being the Garden City’s definitive one-stop shop for all things panel, paint and mechanical.

From the moment you hand your car to Scott Blackadder and the team, you can be safe in the knowledge of their decades of expertise and award-winning bodywork know-how.

Whether it’s your faithful Toyota Starlet, or your Concours-winning Mustang, Hammond’s Collision Centre offers body and mechanical repairs, WOFs, servicing, and insurance repairs.

Also, if you have just purchased a car which needs a thorough ground up restoration, Hammond’s can do that, too.

Hammond’s also can deliver you to your place of work in the CBD and pick you up again once your vehicle is ready to go.

They also have a fleet of loan cars and even e-scooters to make sure your busy life is not interrupted.

So, give Hammond’s Collison Centre a call today on 03 366 1809 and experience for yourself why Hammond’s is the definitive choice for all things panel, mechanical and paint.