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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.



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.




Storm the Palisade

Big seven-to-eight-seater luxo SUVs are fast becoming the cash cow of many automotive brands. This is the Palisade, Hyundai’s spearhead at this segment.



The turbo diesel engine in my Limited felt very strong and eager to get going. Keep it between 1600 and 4000rpm, and you make brisk progress despite the girth. The Palisade’s eight-speed auto box on hand sending drive to all four wheels via Hyundai’s proven HTRAC AWD system is very smooth. However, the gear selector buttons on the centre console were not terribly responsive.
As far as cabin refinement goes, the Palisade shows just how far Hyundai has come in the last decade. Features like the 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system are easy to use and everything you touch feels akin to some in this segment costing twice the price.
The on-board kit is a Palisade triumph too. Heated and ventilated seats, power sunroof, heated steering wheel, wireless charging, Apple carPlay/Android auto, blind spot collision avoidance assist, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision avoidance, which at speeds of up to 80km/h, will put the brakes on quicker than you could yourself. Though I was not tempted to try it! The rear ‘Captains Chairs’ were another treat, able to recline and move forward and back so one could strike the optimum Captain Kirk pose.
The Palisade is probably not the most engaging of drives, but then again it is not meant to be. Off the beaten track, its multi terrain control drive modes sends optimum torque to which ever corner needs it most. It is a great system and a doddle to use.
All in all, there is much to like about the new Palisade. The price is up there, but those after a luxurious yet frugal SUV, should definitely keep the brochure on this one.




Price: $114,990
Engine: 2.2L Four Cylinder Turbo Diesel
Power and Torque: 174kW/440Nm
Transmission: Eight Speed Automatic
Drive System: All-Wheel-Drive
Fuel Consumption: 7.3L/100km
Wheels: 20inch Alloys
Weight: 2057kg
Towing Capacity: 2200kg
Dimensions: 4980mm (L), 1975mm (W), 1750mm (H)


Celebrating stirling service: Kendal Vehicle Services

Kendal Vehicle Services; Burnside’s Auto Super Shoppe has been servicing northwest Christchurch now for over 25 years having just celebrated its big 25th plus one birthday in April (delayed due to Covid-19).



Business Manager Carol Bradley has been at the helm since 1995, and her tight-knit team lives and breathes everything automotive. With modern equipment including engine diagnostic equipment, the business is able to undertake all manner of repairs, servicing, and fine tuning to ensure your favourite wheels are always running smoothly.

While automotive servicing and repairs make up the core of the company’s business, what really sets it apart is the way it embraces the community, supporting the likes of Burnside West Junior Cricket, Russley Golf and various other community fundraising initiatives including Nurse Maude Hospice through Carol’s Business Networking group BNI Phoenix.

KVS is a proud representative of the MTA and the premium Auto Super Shoppe group so you can rely on open and honest advice. If you need further convincing, check out the glowing Google reviews and judge for yourself.


Ring to fix that ding: RO Jones Panelbeaters

No one likes to be in this situation. You are driving along minding your own business and suddenly wallop! Someone has hit you from behind. Or maybe you were feeling under the weather and didn’t see that letterbox when backing out of your driveway. Either way, it is going to leave a mark or two.



However, a quick trip to RO Jones Panelbeaters, right in the very heart of the city, will ensure your daily driver or weekend toy will soon be brought back to health.

RO Jones has gained a sterling reputation for being one of the foremost automotive body shops in Christchurch. Its motto of “got a ding, give us a ring” certainly rings true with a dedicated team able to put right everything from a few scratches to major dents and impacts.

The team works with all major insurance companies, and if your car is in its care for a while, RO Jones will sort you with a courtesy car or van to meet your needs.

Whether taking out rust from the A pillar, or removing those rear end dents, these are the panel beaters that can help.

Check them out on Facebook.


Classy Euro Cars: Christchurch European

The journey from street side to the main office goes something like this. BMW X5s on the left, Range Rover Sport on the right. A few steps forward. Wow, Porsche 911 in front, Audi RS6 at the rear. Finally, to top it all off, a yellow Lamborghini Gallardo and bright red Ferrari F12 soaking up the admiring glances. Want to know the most amazing thing of all? They are all for sale at Christchurch European.



Christchurch European. It means exactly what it says. Very possibly, it’s one of the biggest ranges of European vehicles to suit any budget or preference in New Zealand.

The choice is staggering, Jaguar, Land Rover, BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Porsche, Volkswagen, Aston Martin, Maserati and as mentioned before, even the raging bull of Lamborghini and the prancing horse of Ferrari make up the stable.

Niki and his team take into account just what kind of European vehicle you are after and will happily steer you in the right direction. With finance, insurance, and a comprehensive on-site workshop, you get all the advantage of a main dealer but with the best of all the major brands on one site.

After a European family run-around? A terrain conquering luxury SUV? Or a low-slung automotive adrenalin pump? You know where to go.


New look, same quality service: Honda Cars

Honda Cars Christchurch has been part of the Christchurch inner city landscape for over three decades. Residing in the same place on the corner of Montreal and St Asaph Street, shifting only once across the road briefly after the 2011 earthquake, has been New Zealand’s biggest volume Honda dealer.



The showroom was given a 12-month overhaul by Calder Stewart Construction in conjunction with Lonsdale Architecture, and this year has received top honours at the 2020 New Zealand Commercial Project Awards.

The Gold Award-winning showroom is very much a case of ‘the same, but different’. In other words, the layout is the same as it always has been, but that is where the similarities end.

The aim of the project was to retain all the familiarity of the old showroom but with added modern design touches and compliance with the latest earthquake standards, rather than simply demolishing the existing showroom and starting from scratch. This also meant the team of sales staff, mechanics, parts and technicians could still feel at home as before.

As the dealership faces north, it was logical to let as much light in as possible. The large glass windows allow for this, leaving Civics, HRVs and Type Rs basking in the glow of the day. From the outside, the first thing you notice is the outer façade stretching from end-to-end on the top half of the showroom.

From a distance, it reflects a modern and forward-thinking facility. However, look closer and you notice it is full of Honda heritage.

Each waving panel is made up entirely of retro-inspired emblems. Inside, customers have access to the café and waiting area; the perfect place to unwind while your Jazz or Civic Type R is getting the works in the servicing department. Talking of service, the company still retains the highest level of customer service satisfaction.

With plenty of parking on site and a modern and inviting award-winning showroom built to the highest possible standards. this business is here to stay.


Lost your keys? Access Lock Specialists Ltd

The way we keep our cars locked up, secure, and still in our driveways, has changed dramatically within the last 20 years. Two men who know this are Roger Barriball and Richard Nind, who established Access Lock Specialists Ltd in 2007.



At this time, laser cut transponder keys and keyless entry into vehicles were just starting to take off, but so many cars were yet to fully embrace this technology.

Today, not only do most cars come with these keys, most have also moved into proximity (smart key) technology using “push to start” ignitions.

The car simply recognises you have your key or fob with you and allows the car to be unlocked and started without inserting a key.

However, while this technology makes fumbling in our pockets for our car keys a thing of the past, it still cannot prevent keys being lost or stolen.

Roger and Richard know transponder keys and smart key fobs better than anyone and can help if you require a new smart key or spare for your car.

Staff can programme the required key to match your individual car’s on-board computer. The specialists also recommend having two key fobs handy.

Operating from its showroom and workshop at 170 Waterloo Road, Hornby, and its mobile workshop vehicles staff will come to your rescue, not just for automotive keys, but also the home and business locks and safes.

For more information and a full list of services, or to purchase online visit the website.


Beaming all the way

If you are a car enthusiast, the BMW M Town is the ultimate in driving experiences; a global event that has BMW devotees fizzing at the opportunity to experience all elements of the new releases. As Metropol’s motoring writers, Ben Selby and I were lucky enough to be invited to Hampton Downs Racetrack near Hamilton last month to try out the best that BMW has to offer.



The slalom (taking road cones as fast as you can) was an agility test and I had a great time in the convertible Z4. Highly responsive and fun with the roof down, it handled well.

Next was the off-road in the X7 M50i. The all-terrain four-wheel drive featuring X-drive made this all too easy, although incline descent using the automatic decent feature and speed control plus the camera system had me doing things I wouldn’t try at home. Seeing just how much untapped potential there is in a beast like that was great.

The racetrack element was – of course – what we were all most looking forward to. International BMW drive instructor, Mike Eady and his team kept us safe.

The car range included the M5 Competition sedan, a V8 petrol capable of 0 to 100 in 3.3 seconds, with 750 in torque and 430 kW of evil at $234,300.

The M8 Competition coupe has similar specifications but a price point of $342,900 The shape on this is just hotness and the performance and holding were something else.

I was driving all models in a tweaked sport mode, giving me softened steering but acceleration and breaking at top performance.

The M8 stood out as the best performer, but it was the new M3 and M4 Competition models which took my eye and my drive experience.


The M xDrive system and Active M differential – complete with M – specific traction control, link up with the dynamic stability control (DSC) system to ensure precisely judged interaction for the driving situation in hand.

The M4 is certainly quick off the mark, and a touch bouncy at speed. Insert big smirk on my face here.

The new larger “kidney” grills and flared rear wheel arches have prompted mixed reaction. But, change is good and I think it is going to grow on everyone.

Coming in at $168,990 for the M3 and $172,990 for the M4, the models sell in a range of colours named after the world’s racetracks.

I love the M4 in Sao Paulo yellow and the M3 in Isle of Man green. It just pops.

With 260 participants taking part in the week-long event, it was great to be a part of a well-organised motoring occasion.

Ben took out the premium award, scoring a wonderful BMW race helmet, but I was the bad boy who drove too fast and hit to many road cones in the slalom. Next year Ben, next year!


This is no old goat

Prior to Subaru New Zealand’s marketing campaign for the new Outback, I am ashamed to admit I hadn’t realised what the acronym GOAT meant. It does of course mean, ‘Greatest of All Time.’ With the new Outback, Subaru claims it is the GOOAT. So, is this the ‘Greatest Outback of All Time’? Let’s see.



The new Outback gets a few styling tweaks front and rear. This is probably the best looking Outback for some time.

Under the bonnet is a 2.5L boxer four-cylinder petrol engine like before, but this one is 90 percent all new. Power has risen to 138kW and 245Nm of torque. The SLT gearbox gains a gear, making it now an eight-speed set up. Subaru also claims a combined fuel figure of 7.3L/100km, and towing capacity increases to two tonnes.

Standard kit is generous with Subaru’s fourth generation EyeSight safety system combining lane centring function, speed sign recognition and lane departure warning. There are also directional LED headlights, rear cross traffic alerts, blind spot monitoring, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and reverse automatic braking.

While the interior itself is very similar to before, the first thing you notice when inside is the large tablet-style 11.6 touchscreen infotainment system. This is by far the highlight of the new Outback’s cockpit, as it was very clear and intuitive.

My test car was the flagship Outback Touring which boasts niceties such as heated Napa leather, electric sunroof, heated steering wheel, and a rather good Harman Kardon sound system which gives one the closest experience to hearing Pink Floyd live.

The driving position is more natural this time around and the level of quality materials used for the switchgear and trim is much improved too. This is easily the most refined Outback yet.

On the road, that refinement translates well into the drive itself. Honestly, the new Outback feels a completely different animal to the previous generation.

The nearly all new boxer four-pot is quieter and peak torque comes in low down in the rev range, leaving you seldom exceeding 2500rpm. Tweaks to the suspension and dampers have resulted in less body roll. Ride comfort has been improved too.

Heading on to the gravel trails and dusty inclines behind McLeans Island, it was time to play with X-Mode.

Subaru’s off-road modes deal with all manner of terrain well, with X-Mode sending power and torque to where it is needed most. You also gain the addition of deep snow/mud settings to the mix.

The entry level Outback kicks things off at $49,990, the mid-range Outback X is $54,990, and my flagship Touring tops out the range at $57,990. In summary, the new Outback exceeds all expectations. Honestly, I was not expecting to like it as much as I did. The GOOAT? Absolutely.