The Indications Aren’t Good

June 25th, 2012 by Tim Grimley

It seems that I have been completely incapable of making consecutive journeys in the same motor vehicle this week. Because the motoring menagerie at Grimley Towers currently exceeds the headcount of people and the driveway is thinner than a politician’s promise, a convoluted automotive ballet is required if you want to free up a particular vehicle for a trip to the shops. And because none of the current fleet is a Suzuki X-90 or a Volkswagen Beetle, I will happily grab the keys for whichever is closest to the road.

The current Mrs Grimley however, is a little more choosy and refuses to drive anywhere in my ancient Mercedes citing such unreasonable excuses as it has to be started with a screwdriver and currently has the weight of Ben Tameifuna in damp wood in the boot. As such she will happily spend any amount of time shuffling cars in order to avoid having to pilot the Panzerwagon, which means my next drive becomes a bit of a lottery.

How hard can it be?

The net result of this is that I change my steed more often than I change my socks – it may surprise those who know me to find out this is a daily occurrence – and this is all well and good, but eventually I end up getting to a corner.

There are a number of factors regularly blamed for deaths and accidents on the roads of New Zealand but drugs, drink, tiredness and mobile phones all pale into insignificance compared to the scourge of indicators. Yes, I know that as a responsible driver I should be completely familiarising myself with my vehicle before setting off, but after making four consecutive journeys in four separate cars with four different steering column layouts it takes about two minutes before I’ve completely forgotten the stalk configuration and am smearing dry filth across my windscreen.

Therefore rather than keeping myself fully aware of all the possible dangers when negotiating bends I’m far too busy screaming obscenities at the indicators and attempting to peer through a haze of bird poo and tree sap. This means a good proportion of my journey is spend completely blind to the road ahead – either through incandescent rage or avian faeces – and the only way I know what carnage I’ve inflicted is to count the number of readily identifiable pieces of wildlife stuck in the radiator grille when I finally stop.

Clearly this is not an ideal state of affairs and something that should really be rectified. While the excessive infrastructure changes necessary and bloody minded national pride may clap the irons on us ever deciding exactly which side of the car a steering wheel should be on, it would be relatively easy to set a convention on where the indicators should be located.

Of course, this means it won’t happen. In any situation where the end result really doesn’t matter one way or the other, people have a habit of developing very strong opinions and will pointlessly argue the toss until the end of time. So for the time being, I guess I’ll just have to make a bit of extra effort when changing cars to always get it right.

Except when it’s left, obviously.

Holden Cruze hatch arriving in NZ with five-star safety

October 6th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Holden’s Cruze hatchback will be arriving here in NZ shortly and will arrive with the highest possible five-star ANCAP safety rating.

Launching in November, the GM Holden designed and built Cruze hatch maintains the same safety standards set by the Series II Cruze sedan, which went on sale here earlier this year.

Like the sedan, the hatch receives the maximum safety rating thanks to a range of active and passive safety features included as standard.

Six airbags including driver and front passenger, front side impact and side curtain airbags, electronic stability control, anti-lock braking system, electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control and a collapsible pedal assembly system all come as standard kit.

The entire Cruze range benefits from a robust body structure and a advanced chassis system, which delivers accident avoidance capabilities. There’s also energy-absorbing load paths that protect the passenger safety cell and offer optimum protection in the event of a collision. Continue reading “Holden Cruze hatch arriving in NZ with five-star safety” »

GM introduces new front centre airbag (+video)

October 5th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

If you think that having up to nine airbags in your car will keep you safe, you’re probably right but just to make sure General Motors has developed a new type of airbag.

GM’s latest safety innovation is a front centre airbag which is designed to keep the driver in place during a far-side impact. It will also prevent front occupants from smashing their heads together in a collision. Bet you wish you had one now.

The first cars to see the new airbag will be U.S spec models like the Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia beginning in 2013. The tube-shaped airbag deploys out of the drivers seat between driver and passenger and inflates in the centre of the vehicle.

Doing the research behind this new technology GM analysed American National Highway Traffic Safety data, which revealed that far-side impact crashes accounted for 11 percent of the belted front occupant fatalities in non-rollover incidents between 2004 and 2009. Those deaths represent 29 percent of all fatalities in side-impact crashes. Continue reading “GM introduces new front centre airbag (+video)” »

UK to raise motorway speed limit – will NZ follow?

October 4th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

“The faster you go, the bigger the mess” and “Speed Kills” are some of the hard-hitting messages we receive through public service television advertising but is going a little bit faster really that dangerous. Over in the UK the powers in charge don’t think so and a new plan has been revealed to increase the open road/motorway speed limit.

The announcement was made by UK Transport Secretary Philip Hammond who revealed the plan raise the national speed limit on motorways from 70 to 80 mph (112 to 128 km/h) beginning as early as 2013.

“I want to make sure that our motorway speed limit reflects the reality of modern vehicles and driving conditions, not those of 50 years ago”, said Hammond. “While we must ensure that our roads remain among the safest in the world, we must also consider the huge economic benefits that can be created by shortening journey times.” Continue reading “UK to raise motorway speed limit – will NZ follow?” »

Toyota Hilux SR5 2011 Review

May 24th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota’s long-serving Hilux ute is a bit of a legend really. Not just for its ongoing sales success but also for the stories of ridiculous robustness and unlikely war zone application. Crossing the Sahara desert without a drop of oil or having surface-to-air missiles launched off their decks, some Hiluxs certainly have to earn their reputation.  But the Hilux’s battles aren’t just fought by militias in Africa or the Middle East it’s caught up in a war right here in NZ. The dominance of Toyota’s pickup is no longer total, it faces threats from all sides, the torque thumping Nissan Navara, Great Wall’s low rent V240 and the slick VW Amarok.

How can the Hilux best arm itself for the challenges ahead?

With a new safety package on its top spec SR5 model double cab, that’s how. Sure, it’s not as exciting as another 50Nm of torque from its diesel mill or some fierce new exterior styling but safety upgrades extend the Hilux’s appeal as a true work/play proposition. It’s also reason enough for Car and SUV to get back behind the wheel of a Hilux and revisit this ageing superpower of the ute segment. Continue reading “Toyota Hilux SR5 2011 Review” »

BMW High Security Vehicles

June 21st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

BMW is well known for dynamic and premium driving pleasure. BMW cars also fulfill international safety standards. In Munich, BMW also develops very special vehicles, which may save lives in a complete different way

Eye Camera reads signs

December 17th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham
Opel Eye informs drivers about speed limits; warns when they veer out of their lane. First in Opel Insignia and soon in other models

Opel Eye informs drivers about speed limits; warns when they veer out of their lane. First in Opel Insignia and soon in other models

Ford won’t match Holden for ute safety

September 23rd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Ford FG Falcon Ute airbags

Ford Australia has just confirmed that it won’t be increasing the number of airbags in its range of FG Falcon utes. There was speculation on whether Ford would offer side and curtain airbags as standard. This came after another recent announcement from Holden that the entire 2010 Commodore ute line-up will feature six airbags from the factory.

In base-model guise, the Ford Falcon ute currently scores 4-Stars in ANCAP tests. To achieve a 5-Star rating a vehicle must pass a side-impact pole test.

Ford is offering an optional safety package that includes side, head and thorax airbags for its FG ute range, and stability control is available on base model utes as a factory option. Now its been revealed that there’s no plans to make these safety features standard for all model variants.

In justifying the decision, Ford Australia President and CEO Marin Burela said ute customers preferred to have the extra safety kit available, but did not want it fitted as standard if it meant a price increase.

Mr Burela also said that Ford Australia would be keeping a keen eye on how buyers react to Holden’s new safety-enhanced Commodore ute over the coming months, and making the safety pack standard-fit across the Falcon ute range wasn’t entirely out of the question.

The FG Falcon sedan range currently has a full 5-Star ANCAP rating.

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