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The ultimate cars for a road trip

After another turbulent year thanks to our good friend Covid, a detoxifying summer road trip is on the agenda for many of us.

Most of us know where we’re going or which roads we’re going to take first, but what about the car? Let’s say we all won the lottery and are going through the best road trip cars for a Kiwi summer.

BMW Z4

The BMW Z4 is our choice for sporty top-down driving.

Damien O’Carroll

The BMW Z4 is our choice for sporty top-down driving.

The BMW Z4 is probably the best sporty drop-top if you want something faster than an MX-5 but cheaper than a Ferrari Portofino. It uses the same engine as the Toyota Supra, a 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder with turbocharging and 285 kW / 500 Nm, which is really enough for most types of high-spirited driving. The automatic transmission may put off some enthusiasts, but it’s actually a boon if all you want to do is relax and soak up the sun and warm air.

CONTINUE READING:
* Sunday trip: BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra
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* This is the new face of New Zealand’s best-selling vehicle
* Hyundai reveals New Zealand pricing for Ioniq 5

The active cruise control and the lane keeping system from BMW are also very good for these cruise moments, and the Bavarians typically pack a lot of high-quality comfort into their machines.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 (the one with the solar roof)

Really, any of the Ioniq models are good choices.  We just want the solar roof.

Damien O’Carroll / stuff

Really, any of the Ioniq models are good choices. We just want the solar roof.

An electric car on a road trip is actually a good thing, and Hyundai’s new Ioniq 5 is one of the best electric cars in New Zealand. Especially the front runner Limited AWD with solar roof. It won’t fully charge the battery, but it can travel more than 6 miles just by sitting in the sun, which will help reduce range anxiety. Bet on more than 400km in total after a full top-up.

The Limited AWD doesn’t have the greatest range of the Ioniq models, but the solar roof helps bridge the gap, and its 225 kW and 605 Nm of output mean it’s a pretty quick thing. Ideally, we put the solar roof on the rear-wheel drive version for even more range and more driving fun, but Hyundai isn’t (yet) doing that.

Ford Ranger

The new Ranger arrives in 2022 and we expect it will continue to be a best seller.

Delivered

The new Ranger arrives in 2022 and we expect it will continue to be a best seller.

The Ranger has always been recognized for its drive and drive, so its place on this list is well deserved. Also, a new one is coming in in 2022 so I’m going to cheat on it and add this one too.

It has excellent pulling power, good fuel economy (considering it’s a diesel, see you next year, when a hybrid petrol version may or may not arrive) and lots of tech on board. I don’t really have to keep telling how good the Ranger is considering it has been the top selling in New Zealand for the past decade, so I won’t.

VW station wagon

You don't necessarily need the wedding bands, but the combination still manages to make them look good.

thomas curryer / Unsplash

You don’t necessarily need the wedding bands, but the combination still manages to make them look good.

An ultimate road trip vehicle doesn’t have to be new. There are plenty of older models that would qualify for this list, but the station wagon gets the nod. It’s roomy enough to house you and all of your friends, as well as their luggage, and looks brilliant even 70 years after it premiered in 1950.

It might not have the grunt of a modern day people mover, but who cares about speed when you look this good? Plus, if you’re familiar with tools, you can put a small bed in, which is even better for long summer trips.

Seat Leon Sport Tourer

You can get a power-up Cupra version of the Leon Sportstourer, but the vanilla version is still very good.

Damien O’Carroll / stuff

You can get a power-up Cupra version of the Leon Sportstourer, but the vanilla version is still very good.

There are two versions of the Leon Sportstourer, one is the Hi-Po Cupra and the other is the more pedestrian-friendly Seat. We choose the Seat because it is cheap at $ 44,990 (and qualifies for the state clean car program discount of $ 2030) when it goes live on Jan.

It uses a 1.5 liter four cylinder with mild hybrid technology to keep fuel consumption down, and it really works – 6.0 l / 100 km is achievable, if not less. The handling is great, there’s enough power to have a bit of fun, and because it’s a station wagon there is plenty of storage space.

Audi RS 6

The Audi RS 6 does pretty much everything you need.  Except rock crawling.

Damien O’Carroll / stuff

The Audi RS 6 does pretty much everything you need. Except rock crawling.

An Audi RS 6 is at the top of most wish lists for good reasons. It has a massive twin-turbo V8 for performance, it looks brilliant (if a bit edgy), and it’s a station wagon. Who doesn’t want a family van that can overtake most sports cars on the road?

Apart from the Taycan Cross Turismo Turbo, there is nothing else like it. Which is also very cool by the way, but costs $ 300,000 compared to the Audi’s $ 225,900. We could change our minds next year when the Taycan Sport Turismo hits the market …

Jeep Wrangler

The gladiator is a wrangler with a tray.  Both are very good at what they do.

Nil Bijoux / Stuff

The gladiator is a wrangler with a tray. Both are very good at what they do.

If you don’t mind a bumpy ride on the road and you feel like beach rays, you’ve come to the right place with the tried and tested Wrangler. It happily takes bumpy roads, even places where there is no road, and brings you back home. You could swap for the gladiator if you wanted more utility.

The right off-road suspension and tires mean the Wrangler is great at navigating rough terrain, and while it’s neither an EV nor a screaming V8, there are still plenty of things to like. For example the Freedom Top, perfect for ventilated hoons on Ninety Mile Beach. However, it really takes an eagle and the American flag engraved on it.

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