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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!


 

Lavish restoration


Enzo Ferrari described the Jaguar E-type when launched at the Geneva Auto salon in March 1951 as “the most beautiful car in the world.” If you take a look from pretty much any angle, it is easy to see Enzo was right.

 

Now I am an Avengers fan. The 1961 English TV series, not the Marvel version, and that’s where you first see the E-type in the marketplace. Fast at 240km/h and sexy as hell, this isn’t your go to the supermarket to pick up a loaf of bread…or is it?

Jaguar Classic has unveiled its first matched pair of E-type 60 Collection cars and revealed full specification details for the 12 expertly restored and sympathetically uprated 3.8-litre E-types built to celebrate 60 years of the iconic sports car.

The E-type 60 Collection cars are restored and refined by the experts at Jaguar Classic in Coventry, and combine flawless quality and exceptional engineering know-how.

The most significant mechanical upgrade is a specially developed five-speed manual gearbox which features synchromesh on all ratios, helical cut gears and a reinforced cast aluminium casing for enhanced reliability and greater durability as well as closer gear ratios and smoother changes.

The 265bhp 3.8-litre six-cylinder XK engine benefits from an authentic 1961-style alloy radiator, with electric cooling fan and electronic ignition for everyday usability, as well as a polished stainless steel exhaust system.

This new exhaust system is dimensionally identical to the standard mild steel system but produces a slightly deeper tone and offers greater longevity.

In addition to the centre console, the bonnet badge, clock face within the tachometer, fuel cap and chassis plate are all finished with a commemorative E-type 60 logo created by Jaguar Design, featuring the years 1961 to 2021. A light beech-rimmed steering wheel, as fitted to 1961 cars, features a 24-carat gold horn push.

Every car is supplied with a tailor-made E-type 60 car cover, tool roll and jack storage bags to complete the enhancements and exemplify the attention to detail lavished on each vehicle.

In summer 2022, the six customers and their guests will take part in the ultimate E-type pilgrimage, creating their own set of E-type memories in classic English style. Now, if someone could loan me one, there’s a loaf of bread in a supermarket in Timaru I need to go and get.


 

Making art out of machine


As you are cornering the hill section from Akaroa to Christchurch, you are very aware there is something special at play. Perhaps it is the monster M twin turbo V8 engine with M differential and electric power steering, or perhaps it’s the luxury cabin. It’s probably everything.

 

PHOTOS JACK MORGAN @SHOTSBYJACK_

 

I guess that’s why BMW sales have jumped 50 percent in the year to December, and why it’s the only premium car brand to register 2000-plus cars in New Zealand last year.

The BMW X6 has 460kW of power with 750Nm of torque. That is something similar to the top line of any luxury sports cars and wow, you can really feel it. The eight speed M steptronic transmission is smoother than silk.

The luxury cabin has leather merino seating, lumbar support and cooling system meaning your journey is done in pure comfort.

That’s the package you’re getting for $231,900 though. Everything is top of the line.

With high roof rails in high gloss shadowline, the 21-inch bi colour alloy rims and that beautiful downward slope on the tail – you’ve got an SUV which almost overloads the senses.

The team at Christchurch BMW joked about telling the police I was on the road and to keep an eye out for me. But you really do need to keep an eye on your speedometer.

New Zealand is getting a great variety of BMWs hitting our shores, I caught up with Karol Abrasowicz-Madej, Managing Director at BMW Group New Zealand, to chat about it.

“2020 has been an extraordinary year for all of us, but we adapted to the times,” he says. “Our team pivoted our campaigns to boost the spirits of New Zealanders even as we entered lockdown, and further extended our offers to give customers more value.”

The X6 is just one of a plethora of great vehicles heading our way and who can’t get excited by the M3 and M4 heading our way with new kidney grills and flared rear tails.

Love it or hate it (I love it) the new changes are just pushing a great brand forward and when you’re sitting at the top of Sugarloaf watching the sunset behind a beautiful piece of machinery like the X6 M competition, you really are grateful that there is a designer out there making art out of a machine.

 

 


 

Style personified


When it comes to style, BMW have been pulling my heart strings for years. It was my second car and there is just something special about every new design model that comes out. This year is seeing a plethora of change, a shift personified in the 2 Series Gran Coupé.

It is bold in character, stylish and refined all at the same time. I picked up the M 235i xDrive from Christchurch BMW and straight away noticed its agility, even in inner city driving.

M Performance means this car has a bit of bling: M sport brakes work stunningly, M sport seating in Dakota leather adds fit and comfort, and M sport steering handles with ease.

It really is the finer things. Not to mention, 0 to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds on an 8-speed automatic, four-cylinder engine. And a running torque at 45Nm.

I called it my little rocket ship, because that’s what it felt like driving up to Mount Somers for the weekend. The open road was sublime in sport mode.

You feel like you’re in a race car and that can be a problem as you look at the heads-up display and realise you should perhaps be going a bit slower.

“But you get lost in it; the smooth, effortless drive of an amazing performance vehicle.

After being couped up with Covid-19, getting on the road with the Coupé is the ultimate driving experience. With a cost of $91,400 its performance felt closer to $150,000.

I had it in the Seaside Blue hue, which was not everyone’s cup of tea but when we photographed it, you realise that that colour really does pop. But there are also nine other colours to choose from, just in case.

A phone app allows the car to automatically unlock when you exit or enter a prescribed unlocking zone.

Which may sound a bit silly, but this was one of my top features.

Did I lock the car? Who cares?! I never have to worry about that again!

Lastly, the panoramic sunroof makes it feel wide and open in the cabin. A stunning option to test drive.


 

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.


 

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

 

Nick in the City

Nick in the City


I’m fortunate enough to be on the coal face of the development within the city and of course spent some time going over the new Town Hall.

 

Nick in the City
ALI HARPER WILL BE JOINING TIM BEVERIDGE AS PART OF HIS ACCLAIMED THE MUSIC IS BOND SHOW

 

I can’t say that I’m not excited by what will be my first visit for a function. Tim Beveridge is bringing his acclaimed The Music is Bond to the Christchurch Town Hall on 16 March. The sexiness and fun of 50 years of James Bond comes to life in an exceptional show featuring the best in musical talent from Canterbury with a superb cast including Jackie Clarke, Ali Harper, Caitlin Smith and backed by the magnificent sound of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

Tim says, “I am very excited to be returning to the Christchurch Town Hall. It’s probably going to be a bit emotional to be back there after having had so many wonderful experiences performing there with the CSO”. “I also first met my wife there!”

I stood amazed the last time I saw Tim belt out a stunning rendition of Tom Jones’ Thunder ball and every piece is stunningly crafted by the Christchurch symphony Orchestra to perfection. Yes, it’s true I’m a BIG James Bond fan but the music here is timeless.

With the talented performers debuting this music in Christchurch’s stunning new performance venue there’s no better excuse to come and check out what the new Town Hall has to offer.

 


Book early at www.ticketek.co.nz and have a few martinis, shaken not stirred, before you go.


 

Bread & Circus

The circus comes to town: In the city with Nick


Having been involved in media for the last thirty years, I’m aware this time of the year is a brilliant time to get into Christchurch and soak up the juice that is events in the city.

 

Bread & Circus

 

The Buskers Festival has always been a top favourite of mine and the re-invention, Bread and Circus, promises more excitement than ever.

Bread & Circus will run from 10 January to 3 February 2019. The festival kicks off with an intensive 10-day programme full of exciting free events, exceptional ticketed shows, a large-scale spectacle and world-famous busking pitches. The ticketed programme and festival hub will then extend into February.

With more than 50 talented performers from around the world, including 22 of New Zealand’s finest, it’s hard to pick favourites.
Mayor of Christchurch, Lianne Dalziel says she’s delighted that Strut & Fret are bringing their 20 years plus experience to breathe new life into Christchurch’s beloved World Buskers Festival, bringing Bread & Circus, a festival of world-class performances, to the heart of the city.

“The team at Strut & Fret have promised me that Bread & Circus World Buskers Festival will integrate the old and the new, with elements that everyone knows and loves, and a new range of phenomenal features to elevate the festival to a whole new level.”
This summer’s festival is bigger and bolder than ever before, with 527 performances and 90 hours of roving performers, an increase from 344 performances earlier this year. The number of buskers doing free street performances will double from 14 in 2018 to 29, with talent from New Zealand and around the world.

 


Nicholas Henare
Nicholas Henare