RS or Rally sport in Ford speak, emerged in the 1980’s during the glory days of World Rally Championships. My first memory of RS was the Escort RS2000 of the early 1980’s. The rear wheel drive Escort Brenda generation with a slanted nose grafted on and a special 2l motor in place of the venerable and trusty old Kent 1600. I’m sure I’m giving my age away here, but that RS2000 was the envy of my youth and my extremely macho 1979 Escort 1600 Sport.
2009 saw a limited number of previous generation Focus RS models reach SA. Many in a shade of lurid green that spelled business. Although reputed to be a handful to drive in anger, they were instantly snapped up and I’m certain are all ensconced in collectors garages around the country.
There has been much written in the overseas press about the new version and interest raised when it was confirmed that this would reach SA. It was with this knowledge and much excitement that I attended this launch.
Let’s start with a brief look at the fact that besides a large rear spoiler, you have to look pretty hard to spot the differences from its lesser brethren.
Bigger wheels and tyres, sure. Lower and different suspension, maybe to an expert eye. The RS blue brake callipers, if you order these. On the interior, a few extra gauges on top of the dash.
BUT, that’s not what the Focus RS is about. It’s all about the engine first. The 2.3L 4 cylinder Ecoboost Turbo. Same engine as the Mustang, but the wick gets turned up a bit further. It now has 257kW and 440Nm. Then add in the 4 wheel drive system that allows up to 70% of the power to the rear wheels and even 100% of that to a specific side under the necessary conditions.
The launch day was split into segments and I experienced the RS on a track first. Through some of the progressive sweeps, I kept realising that I could just keep going faster. I may not have set the fastest time of the day, but felt totally safe in the handling of the car at speeds way above my usual comfort zone. Switching the mode into track simply enhanced the feeling and performance.
Next we moved to the skid pan. Our first run through a slalom and handling course was with the car set in track mode. While allowing plenty of slide and fun, it was easy to keep the car under control.
The next run was in “DRIFT” mode. Only Ford could launch a car with a fun mode like this - totally impractical but addictive fun. This changes all the settings on the 4 wheel drive system and allows the rear end to pretty much control the car. The final stage on the skid pan was in Drift mode and going for full out drift. Talk about fun, although some were far more adept at this than others.
The final stage was a road route. Driven sedately in traffic, the 6 speed manual was easy and comfortable although you can obviously feel the harder and faster suspension and ride. When conditions allowed, the RS flew and handled the roads brilliantly.
SA will only be receiving 300 units out of the total planned build of the Focus RS. Reports are that the first batch was sold out before launch. The price of R699 900 must rate as the performance bargain.
ALAN ROSENMEYER - JULY 2016
There is an old saying that you don’t change a winning team or formula, so what does a motor manufacturer do with a model range that dominates a particular market segment for a period of 6 years?
Hyundai launched the H1 in bus and panel van formats in 2009 and have since sold some 13 000 examples, achieving a 21.5% market share of the large MPV segment, plus a volume growth of 6.3% in 2015 over the previous year. All this in a shrinking and very tough market and economic environment.
Maybe there is a simple answer.......don’t re-invent the wheel, just enhance the existing successful product. That’s exactly what Hyundai have done with the launch of this “ENHANCED” H1. The diesel version has been the volume seller and so they have concentrated here, although all versions have been enhanced to various levels. The diesel bus version was the only one available to drive on the launch so let’s concentrate on that.
The 2.5l 4 cylinder diesel engine puts out 125kW and a very impressive 441Nm. The torque is especially noticeable on overtaking or uphill sections as we experienced on the launch drive. As for the diesel, the only gearbox option is a 5 speed automatic. In my opinion, this is perfectly matched to the engine and also to this type of vehicle so that would be my natural choice.
The 2.5l 4 cylinder diesel engine puts out 125kW and a very impressive 441Nm. The torque is especially noticeable on overtaking or uphill sections as we experienced on the launch drive. As for the diesel, the only gearbox option is a 5 speed automatic. In my opinion, this is perfectly matched to the engine and also to this type of vehicle, so that would be my natural choice.
Hyundai have chosen to limit the diesel version with auto gearbox to a very high standard specification. Some examples of this level include driver, passenger and side airbags, full automatic climate control and full leather trim. The lower spec petrol version deletes the side airbags, has manual air-con and cloth trim and a 5 speed manual gearbox. The petrol version has 126kW but only 224Nm.
Let’s look at what has been changed on the new version:
New design alloy wheels
Leather steering wheel and knob
Folding type key
Glove Box cooling
Full automatic A/C
Electric folding mirrors
Jam protection and auto down driver window.
It is interesting to note that all the changes concentrate on safety and comfort without essentially changing the original formula.
On the road, you cannot escape the fact that this is a large vehicle that can transport up to 9 passengers in comfort and space BUT, it does not feel big from the driver’s seat. The auto transmission and massive torque of the diesel engine make for a very relaxed driving experience. Modern standards of power steering and brakes make it very light and easy to drive. Once again, I personally feel that this is the advantage of the automatic transmission and that a manual would be more of a chore than it’s worth.
Overall, the ride is very smooth and relaxed, leaving me in no doubt that this would be the perfect vehicle to transport a larger group on a long trip in extreme comfort and safety.
I do have 2 possible small gripes about the product. Firstly, the centre screen(infotainment) is very small and definitely old or low-tech. It looks out of place in a modern vehicle. Secondly, I believe that an additional lower spec diesel version could be a best seller for Hyundai. Having said that, this version appears to be a bargain when compared to the sector competition.
All versions also include the Hyundai 5 year/ 150 000km Manufacturer’s warranty plus a 5 year/ 90 000km service plan as standard.
H1 2.4 Petrol Manual R 482 900
H1 2.5 Diesel Automatic R 579 900
H1 2.5 Diesel 6 seater Multicab R 492 900
H1 2.5 Diesel 3 seater Panel Van R 441 900
ALAN ROSENMEYER - JANUARY 2016
50 years, 5 generations and 9.3 million units sold.......................................without ever building a right-hand drive version.
FINALLY, Ford Motor Company have decided to share their most special vehicle with the rest of the world that drives on the wrong side of the road, according to the good old US of A.
In case you haven’t worked it out, I’m talking about the Ford Mustang. The original “Pony Car” that was launched as a 1964 and a half model. The latest version was launched internationally last year and was planned to be built as a right-hand drive from the early stages.
The first 10 vehicles off the production line were in SA as the media launch vehicles, and what an event it was. I think this may have been among the most sought after launch invitations of the year. One of the most important features of this new model is the fact that this car was designed to compete with European cars particularly with respect to handling whilst keeping the American muscle car image.
The SA range consists of both coupe and convertibles and with 2 engine options. The 2.3l Ecoboost 4 cylinder produces an amazing 230 kW and 430Nm of torque. The big daddy 5.0l V8 ups this to 308kW and 530Nm. Both are so much more than adequate. Then, add in the multi-mode transmission which includes “track mode” with a few extra tricks. BURNOUTS ANYBODY?????
The biggest question in my mind after the launch was which model? After much personal debate, I think I would have to choose the V8 convertible. Purely because this is still the original American muscle car so the rumbling V8 should be part of the experience.
Ford SA should be applauded for bringing this very special car to our shores, even if it’s in very limited numbers, just because they could. The final AND biggest bonus is the launch prices. From R700 000 for the 2.3l coupe to R900 000 for the big daddy V8 convertible.
The queue starts from the left ................ behind me!
FORD RANGER LAUNCH
South Africans have always loved their bakkies and for the last 40 years Toyota have had it all their way.
However, during 2015, the bakkie wars have commenced with monthly skirmishes spilling blue blood instead or red.
Past generations may have been either Ford or Chevvy fans, but in the modern Mzanzi, it’s become Ford or Toyota. It’s the worst kept secret in the industry that a new Hilux is coming in Feb 2016, but maybe Ford have stolen some thunder by launching an extensive facelift of the Ranger first. Battle lines drawn, battle will commence again soon!
Of course, todays bakkies are not like those of the past. Top of the range double cabs are far more like family vehicles offering varying levels of space, comfort and luxury to compete with executive sedans. Plus, of course, the bonus that you can carry a ton on the back AND tow up to 3.5 tonnes with the 3.2.
Manufactured in SA and exported to 148 countries, the Ranger occupies a place of importance and pride for Ford Southern Africa. They have identified the demand to expand the range to include various base-spec models to compete at that end of the market. In all, new Ranger is being launched in a total of 33 derivatives.
So, what has been changed for this facelift? The bodywork, and particularly the front has been made more modern and much bolder. On the upper spec models, the interior has been improved and upgraded with new luxury and technology including Sync2 connectivity, although older dash design and technology is retained in the base models.
Engines are carried over from the previous version, but with extensive revisions particularly concentrating on efficiency and fuel economy. Improvements of up to 20% are claimed by Ford.Ford gave figures of 43% of sales being double cab, 42% single cab and 15% super cab versions, which shows how popular double cabs have become and that they often replace the family sedan due to their practicality and versatility.
On the launch in the Matroosberg area we experienced double cab versions with both the 3.2l and 2.2l diesel engines. The 3.2 now puts out 147kw and a massive 470nm with the 2.2 at 118kw and 385nm.
Firstly, I headed for the top of the range 3.2 Wildtrack with 6 speed automatic. On the open road, you have to keep checking that this is a bakkie, it’s a great cruiser. Later we got to experience the off-road ability. It literally can climb mountains. Engage 4x4, press the button for low range and go. Coming down it has Hill Descent Control. Simply press a button and use the cruise control buttons on the steering wheel. Look ma, no feet.
Next up was the 2.2 in 6 speed manual and I drove this on an extended section of dirt road. The Ranger took this in its stride, feeling completely safe, comfortable and at home. Personally though, I missed the bells and whistles of the Wildtrack version but its always a case of choosing the spec that works for you.
With a price range from approximately R230 000 ranging up to R597 000 for the top of the range, Ford have ensured that there must be a version to suits your needs and desires.
The war continues, Ford have launched their major offensive and shown their hand. Toyota, its now all up to you.
ALAN ROSENMEYER - OCTOBER 2015
The B segment is probably the busiest and most fiercly contested market segment in South Africa. The need for affordability without sacrificing safety and comfort gains importance daily in our strained economy. There are numerous players in this market, with new products and versions being launched regularly.
Tata has been represented in this market, but were largely handicapped by being limited to old, maybe even obsolete, vehicles that struggled to remain competitive. With the launch of the new Bolt, Tata intends to remedy that situation.
Traditionally, the B segment has been dominated by
hatchback versions with very few sedan options. Tata have boldly launched the Bolt in both variants, to give buyers the preference that they choose.
To begin, both body styles are neat, modern and attractive looking. A single engine option is the 1.2l 4 cylinder turbo giving 66kw and 140nm of torque coupled to a 5 speed manual gearbox. Safety is taken care of by the inclusion of ABS brakes, corner stability control and dual airbags, whereas comfort includes air-conditioning with fully automatic temperature control on the XT luxury versions.
Load space is 210l in the hatchback with seats up and 360l for the sedan.
The launch started from OR Tambo and included a fuel economy challenge for the drive to Zwartkops Raceway. The route included freeway as well as urban sections with many stops and robots. Instead of quoting claimed fuel economy for the Bolt, I am proud to report that my co-driver and I achieved 4.1l/100km for this route. This made us the runaway winners of the challenge, although numerous other cars were in the mid 4’s. Real world economy figures that auger well for buyers and owners of the Bolt in the future.
Overall, the Bolt felt like a very well put together car offering good space, comfort and equipment, especially in the XT version which even
includes a touchscreen infotainment system.
Looking at prices, the hatch versions start at R132995 and R142 995 for the luxury XT. Sedans are R142 995 and R152 995 for the XT. Included are a 5 year/ 100 000km warranty plus a 2 year/ 30 000km service plan.
Tata are commencing an aggressive launch and marketing programme in SA, and if the Bolt is the start then I’m looking forward to seeing what will follow.
ALAN ROSENMEYER OCTOBER 2015
Stop and stare
Ford have just released the all new Figo in the sub B segment. The Figo was first launched in 2010 with a facelift in 2013. Somehow, it always semed to be positioned as the baby sibling of the Ford Fiesta.
Now in 2015, Ford has given the Figo a whole new design language and DNA of its own.
Design was central to the new model, followed by quality, styling, technology, innovation, safety, fuel efficiency and cost of ownership.
The new model is available in both a hatch and sedan variants with a pretty powerful 1.5l engine offering loads of torque.
The hatch is targeting the 55% female and 45% male market. Looking at the fairly young, the hatch would be most desired by students and first time job seekers who would be looking at a safe, economic and affordable means of transport. The new Figo certainly offers great value for money.
The Sedan targets a 50/50 male and female split looking at young families or in my mind, an older, retired couple.
The 2015 Figo design is sleek and aerodynamic to lessen drag co-efficiency and increase fuel economy. Stylish chrome detailing and long sweeping headlights coming through from the Fiesta personality.
This new model comes in three new variants;
At the top of the range is the Titanium followed by the Trend and then the Ambiente. Plus, there are options of Diesel, Petrol, manual and auto.
The petrol version offers a power train a fantastic 82kW engine pumping out 136Nm of torque. The fuel economy is seriously impressive and key for the tarket market at just 5.9l / 100km.
The refined TDCi diesel engine ( my personal favourite ) delivers 74 kW with an amazing 4.1l / 100km.
The all-new FIGO's PowerShift automatic transmission gives you the fuel-efficiency of a manual transmission with the ease of an automatic. It uses a dual-clutch shifting system designed for smooth gear changes and superior fuel-efficiency. On the launch I found the autobox does tend to want to hunt for 2nd and 3rd gear at lower mileage, but once travelling over 80km/hr the box is pretty seamless.
Safety is key for this Marque’s new Figo and includes;
6 airbags Drive-away locking mechanism Perimeter alarm Hill-launch assist ESP ABS High-stress steel cage Tinted windows Immobiliser Ergonomics
Depending on which of the 3 variants you are experiencing, there is definiteley a feeling of spaciousness and comfort. New features within the range include a brilliant concept called SYNC. This system allows one to pair a Bluetooth-enabled phone, use text-to-speech technology and play music. All this just using your voice! I found it easy to set up and manage and it’s an incredibly safe way to connect considering the age of this market and how much they rely on their mobile phones.
Another innovaitive concept is the MyFord Dock. Situated unobtrusively on the dash the dock allows you to store, mount and charge your phone, MP3 Player or SATNAV system.
There is also a snazzy little tray with a rubber mat to store your phone or sunglasses on.
WENDY ROBINSON NOVEMBER 2015
I do believe deep down, many a man, has desired to take on the persona that is Bond, James Bond. A world filled with mind – blowing car chases, incredible gadgets and most importantly gorgeous women falling all over you. Always shaken and never stirred.
For more than half a century Aston Martin has been the sports car of choice for the world’s most famous spy, James Bond. Now, the luxury British brand is celebrating the release of the movie Spectre alongside with launch of the strictly limited DB9 GT Bond Edition.
Limited to 150 examples worldwide, the highly desirable model is based on the recently launched DB9 GT. Designed to offer the best of what DB9 can be, the DB9 GT delivers world-class grand touring and hand-built excellence.
Sadly, SA has only been allocated 3 of the 150 and they have already been sold!
The 6.0-litre V12-engined grand tourer features unique Spectre Silver paint; sterling silver Aston Martin badges front and rear; and discreet ‘007 Bond Edition’ exterior badging
These features build on the elegant styling of the DB9 GT which includes unique ten-spoke gloss black diamond turned 20-inch alloy wheels; bright aluminium bonnet vents, side strakes and grille; carbon fibre front splitter and rear diffuser, and grey brake callipers.
Inside, the DB9 GT Bond Edition continues its subtle homage to James Bond with unique numbered sill plaques featuring the familiar 007 logo; gun barrel embroidery on the 2+2’s rear seat divider and a special Bond Edition start-up screen on the new model’s AMi II touch-sensitive Aston Martin infotainment system.
These embellishments add to the car’s already luxurious interior environment which includes unique fluted leather; an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel and a satin carbon fibre centre console surround.
The DB9 GT Bond Edition’s 6.0-litre V12 engine is capable of generating 540hp at 6750 rpm, and 620 Nm of torque at 5500 rpm. Rest to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds with a top speed of 295 km/
The DB9 GT Bond Edition’s 6.0-litre V12 engine is capable of generating 540hp at 6750 rpm, and 620 Nm of torque at 5500 rpm. Rest to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds with a top speed of 295 km/
As part and parcel of the package each owner is presented a finely-crafted 21” Globe-Trotter trolley case finished with an embossed leather luggage tag, the collector’s car also includes an Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150m James Bond Limited Edition watch complete with a unique Aston Martin strap. This epitomizes super, sexy styling to the nth degree.
The new DB9 GT Bond Edition is available to order in markets around the world from today, priced at R3.6M.
Bucket list item – I think yes.
WENDY ROBINSON - OCTOBER 2015