Top 10 automotive attractions at Fieldays
New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays is not strictly a car show. Or is it? There's been a phenomenal rise in Fieldays activity from the new-car industry over the past five years and in 2017 it looks like things are verging into the over-the-top category in terms of the elaborateness of the displays and sheer car-brand presence.
This is good news for car enthusiasts: if modern metal is your thing, Fieldays is the closest you'll get to a top-level Kiwi motor show: not just the familiar stuff, but also quite a lot that you won't see in a showroom. At least not yet.
Sure, the Fieldays focus is still on commercial and agricultural vehicles. But there's enough mainstream and, dare we say, enthusiast-oriented product to make it a great Kiwi motor show as well. Here are 10 automotive attractions we reckon are worth a visit.
HOLDEN COMMODORE MAGNUM UTE
Hero car for Holden at Fieldays is the Commodore Magnum ute: number one of 51 allocated to NZ and a vehicle that represents the last blast for both the Australian-built Commodore (which ends production in October) and the Aussie ute.
The name recalls the HDT Magnum of 1983; power comes from a 6.2-litre V8 and the new ute rides on suspension classified as "track capable" by General Motors.
HOLDEN ASTRA SEDAN
Holden's Astra four-door is being shipped to dealers as you read this. It's a sedan-cousin to the latest European Astra hatch and rides on the same platform, although it's from a different branch of the family: it has different styling cues inside and out and it's built in Korea. It's really the new Cruze and this model only wears the "Astra" badge in NZ and Australia.
Astra sedan comes in three models, priced from $30,990 to $38,490.
FORD MONDEO HYBRID AND ST-LINE
Never mind the Rangers and Mustangs (so very many), check out these two new Mondeos. The HEV (that's Hybrid Electric Vehicle) combines a 2.0-litre petrol engine with a 35kW electric motor and lithium-ion battery to return 3.9 litres per 100km in the Combined cycle. It'll cost $55,990 and be available to special order from October.
The ST-Line is more performance-oriented. It's powered by a twin-turbo diesel with 154kW/450Nm and comes dressed in sports body kit, on lowered suspension. Ford NZ plans to launch it in August - possibly as a wagon-only to start with, from $54,990.
Volkswagen NZ has been biding its time a little with the pure-electric Golf, waiting for an upgraded version with a 50 per cent larger battery capacity and greater range.
This is it: the latest e-Golf, with 36kWh battery and claimed range of 200km. It's not on sale to the public yet, although it has been trialled by selected corporate customers. Expect to see it in showrooms before the end of the year.
If any car brand could be called King of Fieldays, it would be Hyundai. The Kiwi-owned distributor has had a massive presence at the event for some years and is more retail-focused than most. It has even established a tradition of ringing a cowbell in the giant marquee every time a car is sold.
In keeping with that ethos, there's a huge number of new cars on site. This year includes the very newest: the i30, which is set for local launch in the next few weeks. It's a new-generation car that aims to take the Korean brand's mainstream small cars up a notch in quality and dynamics. Not to mention serving as a base for the forthcoming i30N hot-hatch.
JEEP FLAT TOP
Fiat Chrysler NZ has attempted to put some international glamour into Fieldays with a couple of concept vehicles from head office in the United States. The Flat Top is a one-off Wrangler created in 2013 that features a custom-made windowless hard-top, heavily upgraded interior and a host of hard-core off-road modifications.
The other is the Mopar ImMortal, another Wrangler that has a custom-built axle package giving it a huge amount of lift and even lower-ratio driving capability.
The all-new Rexton broke cover at the Seoul Motor Show back in March. It has gained incredible ground in styling and quality if the example on display at Fieldays is anything to go by. It has picked up some design cues from the brand's Tivoli, but at 4850mm in length it's a properly large SUV.
The new Rexton has a four-wheel drive system that favours the rear in regular operation, and automatic models drive through a Mercedes-Benz-derived seven-speed transmission.
Everybody's talking about Mercedes-Benz's forthcoming X-Class one-tonne ute. That's not here yet, but the German brand does have a pretty special ute to show off at Fieldays. The G-Professional cab-chassis is essentially a military-grade vehicle that's available to M-B clients all over the world - but NZ and Australia are the only markets where this $129,990 machine is being offered for public sale.
It's a very serious off-roader, but its real selling point is a GVM of 4490kg, which means the chassis can be customised for a variety of purposes.
MITSUBISHI TRITON HUNTSMAN
Mitsubishi NZ has pretty much thrown the book (well, an accessory catalogue) at the Triton pickup to create the Huntaway show vehicle.
It features a TJM front protection bar, custom wide fenders, roof and front-mounted Narva light bars, plus a Rhino Rack Pioneer roof tray and personalised decal. On DTM Fuel Ripper 20-inch wheels, the Huntaway stands over 100mm above a regular Triton. There's a custom undertray, Brembo brakes up front and rear discs from the Pajero Sport at the back.
Great Lakes Motor Distributors (GLMD) has been telegraphing the launch of a pure-electric version of its V80 van for some time now.
An example of the so-called EV80 is on display at Fieldays, ahead of the launch proper later this year. There are a number of battery configurations available for the vehicle, but GLMD favours a setup that allows for about 200km range between two-hour charges - the average daily mileage of Kiwi couriers.