The 3rd generation of the Tucson (although the 2nd was named IX35) was recently launched in South Africa. Building on the sales success of the previous versions of one of the most popular medium SUV’s offered in our market.
Besides a far more modern exterior styling, a major emphasis of this version was to move the interior to new levels of comfort and refinement as well as to introduce more modern and, in the case of the test vehicle, more powerful engine options to the range.
To start with the exterior appearance, it has been sharpened and, in my opinion, made more modern and even aggressive looking. Items such as daytime running lights (DRL) add to the modern appearance. Overall, a very neat and handsome example of this type of vehicle.
In Elite specification, the interior becomes a great place to spend your driving time. Whether acting as “Mom’s taxi”, commuting or on the family holiday, all the bells and whistles are included. From full leather trim, dual-zone climate control, electric seat adjustment and a double sized panoramic roof with opening front half to plenty of space in the rear and a boot that can range from 296 to 1088L depending on seat configuration. I was particularly impressed with the look and feel of all interior fittings, giving a feeling of an upmarket vehicle.
My only real gripe with the Tucson remains the totally inadequate and outdated infotainment system fitted to the vehicle. Apparently, an upgraded version is now available at an extra cost of approximately R15 000. Quite honestly, in the top version at least, this should be standard and I am sure that Hyundai SA are doing everything possible to have this included in the standard specification.
This version also offers the excellent 7 speed dual clutch
automatic transmission which I found to be extremely smooth and relaxing in
commuting duties. With an unusually high
proportion of my test being rush hour commuting, fuel consumption was 9.2 l/
100km. The transmission also offers a
mode button which changes the setting to “Sport”. Using this button could be
addictive as it changes the shift patterns to a much more aggressive setting
plus adds a pleasant, throaty growl to the exhaust note.
On the safety front, the Elite version includes ABS brakes and 6 airbags plus extremely useful lane departure warning and even cross traffic warning when reversing. The reversing camera is included in the rear-view mirror and although smaller than many, it combines the camera function with the important fact that you should not rely on this but still be using your mirrors. Although the AWD system fitted to this range topping version does not make it a proper “rock-climber” it certainly adds to the road holding ability and stability of the vehicle. Added peace of mind is part of this deal.
Overall, it’s not surprising that the Tucson has been a major sales success in its market segment and the new version can only build on this success. Hyundai’s market leading 7 year/ 200 000km warranty plus a 5 year/ 90 000km service plan back this up.
World-wide the motor industry is always looking for new emerging markets to target as their next growth-point. South Africa is no exception and this has seen the birth and explosion of an entire new market sector.
A massive number of potential customers who have grown up daily putting their lives in the hands of Kamikaze taxi drivers, usually piloting un-roadworthy vehicles that don’t even offer seat belts, let alone modern safety features that we have come to expect as standard on today’s vehicles.
This scenario has seen the birth of an entire new market segment, now known as the Sub-B segment in our market. Identified as having enormous growth potential from a huge pool of buyers who can now afford to buy their own vehicle and take control of their own lives and safety. Obviously finance is limited for these buyers, so price is EVERYTHING. The Ini Bounce retails at R132 995.
Tata were among the early manufacturers to identify and enter this market and the Vista is a prime example. It is a relatively spacious hatchback offering all the space, comfort and convenience that this category buyer requires.
A distinctive feature of the Vista is the centrally mounted instrument panel (possibly to eliminate the need to re-engineer for left and right hand drive). I must admit to a touch of confusion, especially at night, when simply looking at a blank, dark area through the steering wheel. Very quickly though you become used to looking to the centre where many upmarket cars now have their infotainment screens anyway.
The Vista Ini is powered by a simple 1.4L 4 cylinder engine with modest outputs of 55kW and 114Nm. The light and smooth 5 speed gearbox helps you to keep the revs up to ensure that the engine stays in the torque band, this provides more than adequate performance for town and freeway driving.
Creature comforts include power steering, air-con and central locking, making the Vista a fairly pleasant place to spend your commuting time.
Particularly in the interests of safety, I must cover the Ignis version of the Tata Vista in this review. With outputs increased to 66kW and 114Nm, the crucial differences are that this version includes ABS braking and 2 airbags to the mix. Add a sound system and front electric windows as well in the price of R153 995 and this is still a very affordable vehicle. As always, everything comes down to affordability.
For added peace of mind and budgeting purposes, both versions include a service plan in the purchase price as well.
For first-time buyers, students or simply those with extremely constrained budgets, the Sub B segment has become the go-to when looking for a new car. The Tata Vista is certainly a player in this segment and is a must to be considered before you commit your hard-earned cash.
“this little giant killer grew up between the 1959
original and the new version”
Around 2003, in a classic example of international motor
industry politics, BMW re-launched the classic Mini onto world markets. Of
course, in the way of the world, this little giant killer grew up between the
1959 original and the new version.
Besides the growth in sheer size, engine outputs grew to match with Cooper S at 140kW and JCW versions reaching 180kW. This is all far removed from the tiny 1000cc capacity of the original that ruled at Monte Carlo in the early 1960’s.
Fast forward to the recent, and rather quiet, launch of the latest variant in the current Mini range. It’s modern little 1.2L 3 pot turbo engine produces a rather modest 75kW and 180Nm of torque. Then, it’s fitted with skinny little 15 inch wheels and tyres.
On paper this all sounds rather underwhelming, but I’m not the first journo to tell you that we don’t test cars on paper. We, and you, live with our cars every day. So, we need to see and feel what each car is like to live with.
Let me start by telling you that the base price of the One is R50 000 below the 100kW Cooper version. You get the same 2 door hatch bodyshell and very distinctive interior and dashboard layout. Cloth seats as opposed to leather and only a radio and Bluetooth in the big centre dial instead of the full infotainment system of the bigger (more expensive) siblings.
These are some of the features that you lose, so what’s the gain? Besides a very healthy saving on price. In my humble opinion, the One is the closest spiritually to the original. The smaller wheels and skinny tyres bring back far more of the original, direct, go-kart handling characteristics. A further bonus is that they also give a MUCH softer ride. A definite advantage to me for daily commuting.
The One comes with a very smooth and light-acting 6 speed manual gearbox. You must remember that 75kW is not exactly under powered so there is still more than sufficient performance for most, especially in urban use, and stirring the gearbox is a pleasure.
At a base price of R 272 000, the Mini One is still not exactly cheap, but it is very competitive in the Boutique Hatch market segment. As always, be VERY careful when looking at the options list or you may as well simply buy a Cooper. However, a well-specced One needs a close look for anyone else to realise that you bought an intelligent bargain.
ALAN ROSENMEYER - JULY 2016
The Pony galloped onto the MotorMatters driveway in stealth mode, menacing looking in a shade of charcoal/ black that is named “Magnetic” in the brochures. In bright yellow or orange, the Mustang screams LOOK AT ME.....in this hue, it’s simply menacing.
A brief look back into history, the Mustang was one of the most successful model launches ever with the actual launch brought forward because of unprecedented public interest. Intended for the 1965 model year, the first cars sold are now described as 1964 ½ models. These specific cars command a hefty price premium among collectors today. Over the next 50 years, Mustang has evolved, not always totally successfully, through successive generations. Although little issues like the 1973 fuel crisis resulted in down sized engines, it’s always been the V8 versions that embraced the true vision of an American Muscle Car.
When Ford Motor Company began planning the new 5th generation Mustang with its launch to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Mustang, it was immediately obvious that this version had to encompass 2 worlds. It must simultaneously be a true American Muscle Car but also a Ford World Car with styling, handling and quality to match. This was proven by the decision that the design was the baby of Fords design studios in Germany.
During the planning phase of the new model, the concept of producing Mustangs in right hand drive was born. (The story behind this is a full story in itself). It has taken the full 50 year history of Mustang for RHD versions to be produced officially in the Dearborn factory. The civilised world can finally celebrate the PONY.
South Africa receives the Mustang in 2 body versions and with 2 engine options. Our test vehicle was the Coupe with the 2.3L 4 cylinder Ecoboost turbo engine. To the uninitiated, a 4 cylinder Pony sounds like sacrilege. BUT....what an engine this is. Using all the latest technology, power is rated at 233kW and a massive 430Nm. Add in the fact that the engine is far lighter than the V8 version, and this actually makes the “baby” version a far more balanced and better handling machine.
The engine reacts immediately and there is a massive thrust when the turbo kicks in. It even has a great growl, especially with the Sport mode engaged.
BUT, and this is a very big but.........a true American Muscle Car is supposed to have a big, lumbering and growling V8. Don’t despair, the GT version comes with the “full fat” 5L V8 with 306kW and 530Nm. The fact that 80% of the Mustangs sold in SA so far have been V8’s proves this point. In many ways, the Ecoboost version is being done an injustice because it is superb and could proudly stand alone in the marketplace.
Looking at the exterior design, the design team ensured that there are many references to the original version. The coupe lines echo 1964 and small cues like the 3 vertical tail lights on each side ensure that this could never be any car other than a Mustang. I tried to imagine what it must look like when it cruises into your rear-view mirror on the freeway. Menacing is the only word in my mind.
Moving to the interior, the multi-powered electric seats ensure that any driver can get comfortable behind the wheel. Those unlucky to be relegated to the rear may find entry and egress rather awkward and ungainly but the deep buckets were described by friends as very comfortable, once you are there.
The test car was the 6 speed automatic version. A 6 speed manual is available in both engine options. Flappy paddles are standard as well as multi-modes for the transmission. I tried the standard mode as well as sports mode. This changes the engine mapping, holding gears a bit longer and definitely make the shifts a bit more snappy. Plus, you get that deep growl from the exhaust under acceleration. There is a race track mode plus wet/snow mode, I did not get the chance to try these. I tried the standard mode as well as sports mode. This changes the engine mapping, holding gears a bit longer and definitely make the shifts a bit more snappy.
make the shifts a bit more snappy. Plus, you get that deep growl from the exhaust under acceleration. There is a race track mode plus wet/snow mode, I did not get the chance to try these.
Modes are accessed via a toggle switch on the lower dashboard, alongside the next toggle which allows you to set your steering feel between standard, comfort or sport.
One complaint is that, like many other cars, these settings default to standard or comfort every time you start the car.
Overall handing was excellent, whether cruising in comfort mode or pushing on through the twisties or through my favourite sweep and dip. The Mustang took all in its stride.
For the rest, the interior includes all the creature comforts we expect from modern cars. Even if the standards are not quite up to the best from Europe (I found no faults or issues, but some motoring journalists will differ).....who cares. IT’S A MUSTANG.
If you are concerned with fuel economy, over a distance of 400km of mixed driving I averaged 9.8L/100km. I did not spare my right foot, so think this is a great result, and can be easily matched.
At the end of the day, my debate would not be whether to buy a Mustang or not. It would simply be which version. In my mind, it would be the V8 GT or nothing and I’ll take the convertible version while I’m about it. If you are going to drive a car that screams LOOK AT ME, then please do a proper job of it.
ALAN ROSENMEYER - JULY 2016
"The Volvo XC90 range is the reigning SA Car of the Year for 2016 and despite some controversy over this title in recent years, this vehicle quickly restored my credibility in the title."
In spite of the fact that the car arrived resplendent in bright red paintwork ( a colour that I believe should only be licensed to Ferrari and Alfa Romeo), the R-Design body kit adds greatly to making this large vehicle look sleek and aggressive. The kit adds colour-coded side skirts and extra large 20 inch wheels as external enhancements.
Climbing up into the cabin of this family sized SUV, you are immediately struck by the level of luxury and technology. Multi-adjustable electric seats with memory function ensure that any driver will very quickly find their ideal driving position. Faced with the configurable TFT screen dashboard in front of you, you know this SUV means business. Then remember the levels of safety and driver aids for which Volvo is famous and you begin to feel at home.
Moving to the centre of the car, you are faced with a large, tablet-like screen. Using now familiar touch control, this is the electronic heart of the vehicle. From set-up functions, through the enhanced Bowers and Wilkens infotainment system to full navigation and then into systems such as the self-parking parallel parking system and, of course, the reverse camera. Making use of many of these systems makes the vehicle feel as if it shrinks around you and you very quickly forget the sheer size of the vehicle that you are piloting.
Mentioning safety again, I was particularly impressed by the additional Heads-up display which is part of the R-design package. This gives speed, navigation and speed limit information and is backed-up by this being repeated in the centre segment of the dash as well. There are no excuses for taking your eyes off the road whilst being fully informed. The vehicles contains so many more safety features that I cannot list them all, but includes active cruise control with emergency braking function, lane departure warning, cross-traffic warning system and so many more.
Looking at the technical side, Volvo somewhat surprised the market by launching the new XC90 with a range of 2 liter, 4 cylinder engines only. Many were sceptical of this in the large SUV, but I can happily report that the T5 version, falling in the middle of the range, has very healthy outputs of 187kW and 350Nm of torque. Coupled with a very smooth 8 speed automatic transmission , this is more than adequate and would ensure comfortable cruising ability for days on end.
The XC 90 provides a multi-mode function to the transmission offering: eco, comfort, off-road (essentially low range) and dynamic modes. Dynamic mode especially changes the attitude of the engine, giving a deep growl under acceleration and simultaneously tightening up the steering feel to enhance handling. Changing modes also changes the instrument display with information and colouring to suit. Taking the vehicle through my favourite dip and sweep, the sure-footedness of the all wheel drive system ensured far higher than average speed with a little body roll from the heavy and high body, but still remaining extremely comfortable. Without fully testing off-road ability, it handled my favourite rough dirt road section with aplomb and in supreme comfort. The suspension travel and large wheels taking this comfortably in their stride and ensuring that driver and passengers suffer no discomfort.
Looking to passengers, the XC90 is a full 7 seater, with the rearmost seats folding easily into the boot floor when not needed. The middle row provides adjustment that allows you to increase legroom for those dispatched to the far rear so that they can travel comfortably. The middle row is treated to the luxury of individual climate control for left and right.
Luggage space is massive with 5 seats and still very adequate with 7 in use. A neat touch in the luggage area is the fold-up flap with elastic straps to hold parcels in place and ensure they do not slide out of reach while driving. Finally the electric closing of the rear hatch is a boon to the vertically challenged of the world.
For this test period, I made a decision not to treat this as an economy run, so fuel economy figures are as quoted by the manufacturer at 7.6 L/100km. If you are concerned about fuel economy, Volvo offer their superb 4 cylinder turbo diesel engines as an alternative. Although I haven’t tested the diesel version, my opinion is that this could be even more suited to the vehicle type. That could take the XC90 from a merely superb rating to GREAT.
Volvo XC90 T5 AWD Geartronic R 926 900
R-Design Pack 54 000
Total Price as Tested R 980 900
5 Year / 100 000km Full Maintenance Plan included.
ALAN ROSENMEYER - JUNE 2016
The modern South African love affair with bakkies started in the 1960’s with the arrival of Toyota. Prior to this, the only vehicles of this type were the large American versions that have now become so popular with customisers and restorers. The Toyota’s introduced SA to the concept of a small and often basic workhorse.
In recent times, bakkies have become larger, more sophisticated, more luxurious and WAY more expensive. In many cases they have become substitutes for family vehicles with the versatility of still being able to carry loads. This has left a very large gap in the market for a basic type of vehicle that is needed for working purposes only.
Since Tata entered the SA market they began with a range of basic 1 tonners such as the Telcoline and now the Xenon. Over time they have added more versatile and luxurious versions of these to cater to the market.
However, in these tough economic times, price becomes more relevant so Tata recently introduced the tough little Super Ace. Priced at the lowest end of the market, it easily undercuts all other 1 tonners and competes, ON PRICE, with the half ton offerings in the market.
This is really a big, little truck. With a cab-forward design, it offers a very large load-area and full 1 ton carrying capacity. For ease of loading, the bak is even fitted with dropsides.
Looking inside the cab, there are 2 seats separated by a wide centre console, so there is no option for carrying 3 upfront. The gearshift is placed higher than usual for this type of vehicle and falls very comfortably to hand. The DLE version includes air-conditioning and even electric windows. As a safety feature, doors lock when you start the engine.
Coming to the engine, the Super Ace is powered by a 1.4 l turbo-diesel with extremely modest outputs of 52kW and 135Nm. It definitely will never win any drag races, but that’s exactly the way you want a vehicle that you entrust to a driver for delivery and work purposes. The engine never felt strained during the test period and cruised happily at 100km/h along the freeway. The 5 speed manual transmission was a bit reluctant shifting down from 3rd to 2nd and this required a very slow and deliberate action. This could be limited to the test vehicle. The clutch and other controls are light and easy and includes power steering.
From a ride perspective, driving a load vehicle unladen always results in a bumpy and bouncy ride. I didn’t get the opportunity to test the Super Ace with a load but believe that it will handle a load very capably and that this would actually make the ride far smoother. Progress in this vehicle will always be leisurely whether carrying a load or not.
The Super Ace is offered in 2 versions, only separated by features such as the air-conditioning and electric windows. A very important standard item on both versions is a 3 year/ 60 000km service plan. This offers both peace of mind as well as budget planning for the business buyer.
PRICES : Super Ace DLS R 159 995 Super Ace DLE R 169 995 AS TESTED
ALAN ROSENMEYER - JUNE 2016
Check out the video .....
The new version of the Volkswagen Caddy was
launched in South Africa at the beginning of this year in 2 variants, the
standard plus the long-wheelbase Maxi. The test vehicle was the top of the
range Maxi in luxury Trendline spec.
My first impression of the Maxi was gratitude that the vehicle was a rich metallic brown and not white (this would have made me feel like “white van man” driving it). This impression was based on the fact that the Caddy is, in fact, based on a van and then made into a 7 seater family vehicle. As you read on, you will see how wrong first impressions can be.
The test car is endowed with the VW group 2.0l TDI diesel engine with very adequate outputs of 103kW and 320Nm of torque. (No mention to be made of Dieselgate, so I won’t quote manufacturers figures for fuel economy). The transmission is the brilliant VW DSG dual clutch which endows the vehicle with a smoothness way beyond what I expected from a vehicle of this type. Both in traffic or cruising on the freeway, all shifts were ultra smooth and barely perceptible. During a 4 day test period involving commuting and freeway cruising, I averaged 7.5l per 100km. Freeway cruising was at a very easy and comfortable 120km/h.
On the inside, let’s start with the driver who is well catered for in a comfortable seat and faced with a well-laid out fascia. The touch-screen infotainment system includes Bluetooth, but not navigation.
impressed included the effective air-con as well as auto-on headlights as well
as the (optional) bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights.
As a family vehicle, the Caddy Maxi makes life easy by providing sliding rear doors on both sides. The middle seat provides plenty of legroom and is split 2/3 and 1/3 with either section able to fold and tumble forwards for access to the 2 rearmost seats. These seats would be very comfortable for youngsters, but possibly a bit short on legroom for adults. Headroom is abundant throughout the vehicle.
Moving to the back of the vehicle, the Maxi version offers 2 vertically split doors opening to the sides. Unusually for a 7 seater vehicle,with all 7 seats in use there is a large 530L luggage area which can be expanded by folding down seats in any number of combinations with the final result giving a massive van type cargo area.
The Caddy Maxi Trendline 2.0TDi DSG is priced at R423 300. This is very competitive for a full 7 seat vehicle with good luggage space as the Caddy falls squarely between many smaller 7 seaters with compromised luggage space and other far larger, and more expensive, 7 and 8 seater MPV’s.
A 3 year/ 120 000km warranty plus a 3 year/ 60 000km service plan are included in the deal.
ALAN ROSENMEYER - JUNE 2016
2.0TDi Trendline 81kW R372 500
Alltrack 2.0TDi 81kW R 387 600
Alltrack 2.0TDi Auto 103kW R 419 000
Maxi 2.0TDi Trendline 81kW R 392 400
Maxi 2.0TDi Trendline Auto 103kW R 423 300
In a market that consists of niches and nowadays, sub-niches, the Suzuki Jimny stands out as being completely unique and without any direct competition in South Africa.
Looking at this tiny little vehicle with an outsized heart, you could be forgiven for dismissing it as irrelevant and unnecessary in our market, BUT, that would be missing the whole point. As a bonus, the Jimny actually offers proper 4 wheel drive PLUS even low range. This at the touch of a button in the true modern manner of doing things.
Do NOT buy a Jimny if you are looking for a practical family car. For a youngster looking for funky, fun transport, or if you have a mild to medium adventurous streak, you are the target market.
Suzuki originally launched the earlier version (SJ 410) to South Africa in the early 1980’s. It very quickly built a reputation for being a great fun vehicle and has since evolved and grown up (but only a little bit) into the Jimny of today.
To cover the technical aspects, the Jimny is powered by a 1.3L 4 cylinder petrol engine with modest outputs of 63kW and 110Nm, so it’s obviously no ball of fire in the performance stakes and I would be wasting my time quoting performance statistics. Suffice to say that you will struggle to get speeding fines on a freeway. This is exaggerated even further in the automatic version which has an old school 4 speed transmission. The manual version offers a 5 speed box.
Again, considering a Jimny for performance purposes, is entirely missing the point. Travelling on highways becomes an extremely relaxed affair. Being in a hurry is simply not an option. My stress levels were certainly reduced while cruising in the Jimny.
An outstanding aspect of the Jimny is its off-road ability. To quote an off-road instructor when asked if the Jimny was capable of certain obstacles on a 4x4 course : “it should’nt be capable of that, but somebody forgot to tell it!!!!!!!” Having experienced a manual Jimny on that course and being confident in its abilities, the automatic transmission can only make it even easier for the driver by eliminating the issue of clutch control.
The modern Jimny surprises by offering far more creature comforts than expected including effective air-conditioning, electric windows all round and a sound system which incorporates Bluetooth telephony. Don’t look for a modern touchscreen infotainment system, it’s not there. Access to the very comfortable 2 seats in the rear requires some gymnastics, and the vehicle offers ABS braking and driver and passenger airbags.
If you plan to travel in the Jimny, I suggest you plan to use the front seats only as the boot offers a miniscule 120L with the rear seats in use. Dropping the 50/50 split rear seats increases this to a maximum of 776L.
ALAN ROSENMEYER - MAY 2016
As time has passed, these manufacturers and importers have realised that South African buyers seek quality at any price level and are not prepared to compromise on this. This has resulted in rapid progress in these areas, this can only be good for the buyer.
Chery was one of the first Chinese importers to launch cars into South Africa and have slowly expanded their range, offering larger cars whilst keeping the standard of more spec for your money.
The Chery J2 was launched a while ago and then the Swag model was added with even more value for money added to the package. The J2 is a spacious B-segment hatchback with a 1.5L 4 cylinder petrol engine. Outputs are moderate at 71kW and 140Nm and a 5 speed manual gearbox. Overall, all controls are very light and easy,making this a very easy car to drive around town. My only issue regarding performance was the fact that while the car will cruise comfortably at 120km/h on the freeway, any incline immediately requires a shift down into 4th. It’s not a hardship with the light clutch and gearshift but something that a buyer will have to accept.
As stated earlier, the J2 offers exceptional equipment levels for the price. Starting with ABS brakes and 2 airbags plus a 2 year/ 30 000km service plan. The Swag version is priced at R159 995, exactly R10 000 above the standard version. The extra investment buys you a long list of extra items:
Touchscreen infotainment system
Living with the J2 Swag for a week, I was constantly aware of the fact that many of the above items are usually only available on far more expensive cars. If I have to think of issues that disappointed, there are very few but one is the fact that the infotainment system does not accept a standard USB stick.
Driving the J2 for the period included a good stretch on some rather poor quality dirt roads and the car impressed with good ground clearance, important on a road with “middelmannetjies”, as well as
Value is a relative term,
...and nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to buying a new car in South Africa. In current terms, the lowest priced vehicles available are sourced from China and India. Initially, most motorists were scared of vehicles from these sources and often with very good reason.
being very stable and comfortable handling on this road. An interesting feature linked to the navigation system is the voice reminder whenever you exceed the speed limit on the road on which you are travelling. Personally, if I owned the J2 Swag, I would look for a button that turns this off!
Overall, Chery have produced a car that is definitely a contender in the B-segment, at a price that is a relative bargain in the market. If you took the individual prices of the extra items added to the Swag version, then it’s very difficult to understand how the price premium is only R10 000.
ALAN ROSENMEYER MAY 2016
In fact, this version
is very close in size and more importantly, space than the last generation of
bigger brother, the X3.
This may all sound rather confusing, but not in the modern world of shared platforms in the motoring world........try getting your head around the fact that some BMW’s share a platform with the latest generation Mini.
Then try getting your head around the fact that the 2 series Active Tourer is BMW’s first front-wheel drive car. SACRILEGE is a word often used BUT......hold it, because the X1 is still rear wheel drive and this particular version has BMW’s x-drive 4 wheel drive system so all is ok again in the world order of motoring .
Another aspect of platform sharing is that it enables manufacturers to produce far more derivatives and styles of vehicles, so we have the previously mentioned 2 series Active Tourer being the MPV and the X1 the SUV both offering very similar space but VERY different driving experiences.
By now I am sure you are totally confused, so let’s concentrate on the very handsome and not exactly small, dark blue X1 that arrived for testing. Equipped with the 2l turbo petrol engine used throughout many of the ranges, it puts out a very adequate 141kW and 280Nm. If that’s not enough for you, the range topping 25i offers 170kW and 350Nm from the same engine with the turbo turned up a fair amount.
For my tastes, the 141kW version certainly proved more than
adequate in all usage combining with BMW’s standard silky smooth 8 speed
automatic box to provide ultra smooth motoring whether fighting Jozi traffic,
commuting, cruising or pushing on through the twisties.
Another fact of life when testing many cars today is studying the specification lists and working out what is standard or what options are available for the particular car you’re testing. Then study the cost of the options and decide which you need or which you simply want. The price of your shiny new pride and joy can escalate quicker than the rand can fall during “Nene-gate”. Many options are safety items that I believe are essential and I think will soon become standard ...... these are the ones you need. Look at items like upgraded headlights, lighting systems and braking options.
The test car had enhanced lighting which I always appreciate plus a panoramic sunroof. Maybe not an essential but something I happen to really like. Many modern cars have very dark interiors and the sunroof brightens up your environment. Speaking of the interior, it takes only a few seconds inside the X1 to appreciate the sheer quality and fit of the entire vehicle and to realise that you are in a premium quality car.
Our test also included a country drive with 4 adults on
board. The X1 provided more than
adequate space and comfort, confirming its suitability as a family vehicle for
both daily use as well as holiday trips. Another extra, especially useful in my book,
is the self-closing rear hatch at the touch of a button.
Fuel consumption for a week’s motoring was 8.5l per 100km. Considering that this included a mix of all driving conditions, I believe that this is a very fair figure for real-life usage and a good consumption for such a smooth and comfortable vehicle.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed my week with the X1 finding it to be a more premium vehicle than I had expected. Personally, I may sway towards the diesel version over the petrol which offers 1 extra kW and 120Nm of torque for an extra R19 000 on the purchase price ......... while consuming almost 25% less fuel. Whichever you choose, this is a vehicle to transport your family in safety while offering lots of extra ability and safety if you choose to go onto dirt roads or similar.
X1 sDrive 181 R 454 400
X1 sDrive 18i Auto R 471 900
X1 sDrive 201i Auto R 514 500
X1 sDrive 20d R 501 000
X1 sDrive 20d Auto R 519 900
X1 xDrive 20i Auto R 564 000 (R 684 500 as tested)
X1 xDrive 20d Auto R 583 000
X1 xDrive 25i Auto R 630 000
All vehicles include a 5 year/ 100 000km Maintenance Plan
ALAN ROSENMEYER - APRIL 2016
X1 sDrive 181 R 454 400
X1 sDrive 18i Auto R 471 900
X1 sDrive 201i Auto R 514 500
X1 sDrive 20d R 501 000
X1 sDrive 20d Auto R 519 900
X1 xDrive 20i Auto R 564 000
(R 684 500 as tested)
X1 xDrive 20d Auto R 583 000
X1 xDrive 25i Auto R 630 000
All vehicles include a 5 year/ 100 000km
The French have always been that little bit different when it comes to car design, and Citroen tended to be at the front of that queue. Then, for a number of years, Citroen went mainstream and became rather boring. Luckily, in recent times, Citroen seem to have got back their “mojo” and the Cactus is a prime example.
At first glance the Cactus is yet another slightly raised B to C segment hatchback. Does’nt sound too special, does it? Then the subtle, and not so subtle, differences start to show. On the outside, the “Air-Bumps” are the most obvious. Some may think they look a bit like they’ve just been “stuck on” as an afterthought. I think that this has got to be one of the most practical innovations in recent years. Hands up those who have returned to your car in a parking area and found little nicks and scars on your car caused by careless, but nameless, others. The “air-bumps” on the sides, and in the bumpers, are designed to absorb such without damage to your car. I personally compare them to training wheels on a bicycle.
Looking to the interior, a few features again stand out from the crowd. From the leather pull-handles on the inside of the doors to the suitcase style cubby hole on the dashboard. Just that bit different. Then look at the instrument panel in front of the driver, a digital display that only shows your speed, fuel gauge and a gear change indicator.......so where is all the info so crucial to all modern cars? A large centre-screen takes care of everything else , from air-con settings to the full infotainment spectrum. It’s all there and can be controlled on the touch-screen or via steering wheel controls.
The Cactus uses the Peugeot Citroen Groups buzzy little 3 cylinder, 1.2l turbo engine, offered in 2 states of tune in the range. In the range topping Shine version tested, this puts out 81kW and 205Nm. There is certainly no lack of go in this vehicle and ensures that you can make good use of the very smooth 5 speed manual gearbox to keep the engine buzzing on the open road. From a ride perspective, the Cactus has the typically somewhat softer French ride but can still handle a few twisties with a bit of verve. I would put it in the comfortable category over my familiar test route towards Hartebeespoort.
An oft-quoted feature of the now common smaller turbo engines on the market is exceptional fuel economy. These can be achieved........but only with VERY careful driving and basically taking all the fun out of your driving. Where they do score is in normal commuting duties where the turbo will seldom engage and then economy is the order of the day. A sticker on the windscreen of the car quotes 4.4l per 100km. Making full use of the engines potential during a week of driving, the figure was reading 7l/100km. You certainly can get closer to the claimed figure but I would rather have far more fun while still recording a very satisfactory figure. Compare this to cars with similar outputs 20 years ago and you would have struggled to achieve 10l/100km.
Due to the need or desire to make raised hatchbacks look more stylish and rakish, the Cactus suffers from a negative that afflicts many of its competitors. Lack of headroom in the back seat due to the sharply sloping roofline. Certainly not a problem for young families.
Overall, the Cactus, which was a deserved finalist in the 2016 SAGMJ Car of the Year, is definitely an alternative choice in a market segment that offers so many options. If you tend to like the not so ordinary, like I do, then it is certainly an option to be considered.
ALAN ROSENMEYER - MARCH 2016
C4 CACTUS 60kW FEEL R 224 900
C4 CACTUS e-THP 81kW FEEL R 259 900
C4 CACTUS e-THP 81Kw SHINE R 284 900 AS TESTED
All models in the range include a 5 year/ 100 000km Service Plan
Presenting the LUV
To avoid any further confusion, let me interpret for you. LUV means Lifestyle Utility Vehicle. Very appropriate but I also believe that many of the young mothers who may drive these will come to LUV this (not so) little Suzuki Ertiga.
Every time I test a Suzuki, it emphasises the fact that they seem to have a perfect recipe for producing smaller, practical well-built and really honest vehicles at value for money prices. Well, the Ertiga hits that mark yet again.
So what is the Ertiga, and especially, what is a Lifestyle Utility Vehicle? How about a vehicle that’s only 3.67m long but can seat up to 7 in comfort? Admittedly at the expense of luggage space, but this becomes more than adequate if you drop the rearmost 2 seats and make do with a 5 seater. During my test period, we travelled with 6 adults on board and all had more than adequate space and comfort, including those in the 3rd row.
The Ertiga is powered by a 1.4l 4 cylinder that produces 70kW and 130Nm, figures that are right in the ball-park with many competitors (still no small turbo from Suzuki.......but I think that may change before too long). This may not be a powerhouse, but it certainly is sufficient for this vehicle. As loads increase the only penalty may be a bit of extra use of the very smooth and easy 5 speed manual gearbox. If this is too much of a chore for you, then opt for the automatic version for an extra R16 000.
Although at the very competitive end of the pricing spectrum, safety is fully provided with ABS and 6 airbags as well as the full complement of seatbelts including the 3rd row of seats. Suzuki also cater for the more basic, people mover market category with the more basic GA model. This is mechanically identical but minus many creature comforts but priced R26 000 lower.
In summary, as stated earlier, Suzuki’s recipe for providing honest, value for money vehicles is proven yet again. If the Ertiga meets your requirements, take a look before putting down your hard-earned cash.
ALAN ROSENMEYER - MARCH 2016
"Sublime is the first word that comes to mind within seconds of setting yourself comfortably behind the wheel of the new Jaguar XF"
The looks have not changed much from the
previous model but, underpinned by
Jaguar’s new platform, the car is marginally smaller while actually providing
more interior space.......especially in the back seat.
The XF range starts with the 2l diesel and petrol engines and is topped by the 3l supercharged petrol in 2 states of tune. The range topping version, as tested, offers a massive 280kW and 450Nm of torque. Talk about a massive fist in a velvet glove. Would a quoted 0-100km/h time of 5.3 seconds impress you from a large luxury saloon?
The XF 3.0 S, to quote its full name, could almost be described as schizophrenic. On the one hand you have your large, comfortable saloon that offers every conceivable luxury, performance and safety specification that you could ever desire. THEN.......you have a growling, spitting cat that offers performance to compete with the rest of the best. It really is a case of “you pay your money and you take your choice”.
We only had the XF for a shorter test period than usual, so we decided that an open-road country trip was in order. Pointing the car towards Dullstroom and cruising at speed limits (most of the time) truly shows the ability of the car to cover long distances with ease and in utmost comfort. Plus, the phenomenal overtaking power and acceleration when needed. All this while consuming approximately 10l per 100km.
The car imparts a feeling of safety and almost of superiority while you are cruising. Taking note of only a few of the many features, I always enjoy the operatic touch of the gear selector rising up to meet your palm in the centre console after a prod of the start button. This is accompanied by the gentle swivel of the air vents on the dashboard. Somehow, this imparts a feel-good that is hard to explain.
A feature that I have only experienced in a few cars but which I believe should become commonplace for purely safety reasons must be the supplementary navigation display in the centre of the dashboard instrumentation. The Jaguar XF adds a Heads-Up function to this as well. It has made me take note of the fact that even looking at a screen in the centre of the car equates to you actually taking your eyes off the road for a brief moment.
All models in the range feature an extremely smooth acting 8 speed automatic transmission with modes ranging from eco to sport plus, all at the touch of a button. The changes to engine-mapping and shift points can be felt immediately. Due to the open road trip, I generally left the car in the standard/ comfort mode although I HAD to experience sport mode a few times.
Because the S is the range-topping version, the list of standard items would require a book to list. A bonus on this vehicle is the fact that everything is standard, so price comparisons to competitors become more difficult. At a list price of R 1 186 803, it actually feels like value for money against some similar vehicles . The BMW M5 puts out far more power with 423kW but starts at R1.48M. Perhaps the Audi S7 with 331kW at R1.257M. Mercedes offers the E63 AMG with 410kW at R1.57M.
As a personal opinion, I feel that the Jaguar XF S is, possibly, not as overtly about brute power as in the BMW or Mercedes, but rather to be looked at as a spacious luxury cruiser that offers stupendous performance when the mood may take you. The rest of the time is for enjoying the smoothness, luxury and features whilst never forgetting the beast that can be unleashed with the simple prod of your right foot.
In my book, a final bonus is the relative exclusivity of the Jaguar relative to its natural competitors in the market.
ALAN ROSENMEYER - MARCH 2016
ALFA ROMEO GIULIETTA 1750TBi QUADRIFOGLIO VERDE
" Jeremy Clarkson once said that you cannot call yourself a Petrolhead until you have owned an Alfa"
I owned one a long time ago, so it’s great to get the opportunity to test one of their latest offerings.
The Giulietta has been around for a few years with a recent facelift and fits squarely into the C segment hatchback category. Of course, the first thing that makes an Alfa special is the engine. In the top of the range QV version, they fulfil this criteria by using the engine straight out of the stunning 4C sports.
In this car, the turbo 4 cylinder puts out 177kW and 340Nm of torque putting it very squarely in the “hot hatch” category of the C segment. The only transmission option is a 6 speed automatic with the requisite “flappy paddles” that can be used very effectively when you want to push on, especially through some twisties.
The car displays typical Alfa sporty, but slightly firm, suspension that contribute to ride and excellent roadholding. The QV proved to be among the best handling cars in its class, both on my favourite bad road section to Hartebeespoort as well as through a long downhill sweep near home.
Another feature of modern Alfas is the “DNA” switch, being their interpretation of a multi-mode transmission. With the “A” setting essentially reserved for European type winter conditions, the choice remains between ‘Normal” and “Dynamic”. Leaving the car in N for the first part of the test period, it seemed as though there was a hesitation on pull-away. As the old saying goes........read the manual first!!!!!!!! The QV has a standard launch control system, so there is a momentary hesitation before the front wheel drive grips and then pulls off like a terrier being unleashed.
Taking a look at life inside the car, being the top of the range means that you are left wanting for (almost) nothing. At this price point, the centre infotainment screen and system are a generation behind with the lack of navigation being a glaring omission. The standard, high-backed sports seats were extremely comfortable BUT are not very kind to passengers in the rear. Between the sharp, sporty styling and the seats, it means that the rear accommodation is very claustrophobic. Legroom is adequate, but headroom is also compromised by the “coupe-esque” shape.
This also creates issues with blind-spots and needs care in this regard. A blind-spot warning system would be of great assistance in this car.
Various tests have produced fuel economy figures of around 7.2l per 100km for the Giulietta QV and I’m sure this can be achieved if driven with care. However, any Alfa, and especially this car, does not encourage slow and careful driving. This is a car made to be driven and enjoyed. With the car in “Dynamic” mode there is power in abundance with the transmission holding onto gears if left in self-shifting mode. After a full week of mixed motoring including freeways as well as commuting, I achieved just under 10l per 100km.
There is no doubt that the Giulietta QV is flawed but I believe that it would be totally spoiled by any attempt at compromise to make it more like the norm.
1.4TBi Distinctive R 365 900
1.4TBi Exclusive R 398 990
1750TBi Quadrifoglio Verde R448 990 AS TESTED
All models include a 3 Year/ 100 000km Maintenance Plan as standard
ALAN ROSENMEYER - MARCH 2016
The first model to reach SA bearing this badge is the new i20 Sport.
The current generation i20 has been available for about a year and, in a market segment where many competitors look similar or too alike, the i20 cuts a fairly distinctive figure. In my opinion, it stands out from the crowd. Now, add an aggressive, but very neat , body kit and some large and attractive alloys and it becomes even more individual and different. PLUS, don’t forget some neat and discreet N badges on the sides and rear to remind onlookers that this car is a bit special.
A few generations ago it would have ended here, but like a few competitors, Hyundai have taken the Sport theme a bit further. This is no longer a standard B segment hatchback, it’s been given a steroid lift. Especially in the exterior looks department. I believe that Hyundai have succeeded in this part of the mission.
Although the i20 does not compete with any models from BMW, I would like to draw a parallel here (this is not limited to BMW, others fall into the same category). BMW offer buyers M Division upgrades on all their models and then they offer the “FULL-FAT” M CARS. In the same way, I feel that Hyundai could develop the N division. The i20 Sport as tested would then fall into the N Division class and imagine a halo model full N20 using the 150kW motor from the Veloster Turbo. I would not profess to have the knowledge of whether this is feasible from an engineering perspective.
Back to the i20 Sport, the power has been increased from 74kW to 85 and more importantly, the torque from 133 to 160Nm. The difference in in-gear acceleration is clear. With a positive, short throw 6 speed gearshift the boy-racer awakens at every opportunity. Add in a trick exhaust with sporty sound and it’s a great car for a bit of fun at every pull-off. The suspension has also been stiffened and retuned for very quick turn-in and sharper handling. This is achieved, although at the expense of ride comfort, especially over a few bumps and ruts.
Returning to my opinion of this being an N Division “conversion”, I think Hyundai have missed a trick by making no changes to the very neat and comfortable interior of the car. Behind the wheel, there are no visual clues until you prod the accelerator and either hear the sound effects or notice the far more urgent acceleration. The interior is crying out for some sporty touches and an extra instrument or badges. Most owners would like their passengers to see this as well. Speaking of the interior, I feel that the infotainment system is a generation behind and lets the game down a bit.
Over a week of mixed usage, I averaged fuel consumption of around 7.8l/100km. This was for city driving and an open-road run. With any car offering added performance and acceleration, consumption can climb drastically if you want to “play” more often. Driven normally, the extra torque can ensure reasonable economy.
The i20 Sport falls squarely into a new sub-niche in the market being the B-segment Sport. The price of R 253 900 is competitive against the opposition, especially if you consider that it’s a premium of only R 21 000 over the 1.4 fluid model. Simply adding the body kit and alloys would cost you more without taking into account the engine and suspension upgrades. Plus there is the 3 year/60 000 km service plan AND Hyundai’s latest market leading 7 year/ 200 000km warranty.
As always, there are trade-offs for the added looks and performance. I definitely appreciate the extra power and feel that the visual enhancements are tasteful and aggressive. At my age, I’m not sure about my daily commute with the exhaust note or the extra hard suspension.
Hyundai i20 1.4 Fluid Manual - R 232 900
Hyundai i20 1.4 Fluid Automatic - R243 900
Hyundai i20 1.4 Sport - R253 900
ALAN ROSENMEYER - FEBRUARY 2016
The Wrangler is not only proudly, and typically, American. It reminds me of Texas. Big, brawny and almost larger than life.
The Wrangler is not a small vehicle - it’s not meant to be. From the signature 7 slat grille and round headlights to the high and proud stance, it proclaims its presence. From every angle it simply states that it’s here and willing to tackle any obstacle that you care to throw at it with its high stance, large wheels and rough and tough appearance.
The Wrangler is proudly based on the original Jeep concept, so the SINCE 1941 legend is most appropriate to this model. However, Jeep have taken the vehicle by the scruff of its neck in many ways and dragged it along with progress over the last 70 years. Yes, it has the aerodynamics of a (very large) brick and an almost vertical windscreen, but you’ll be grateful for this if you attempt some proper off-roading.
The Wrangler has the unusual feature of having the ability to remove the roof panels in various sections. Not very common on a 4 door vehicle. Personally, I found the prospect of this process far too daunting, so did not attempt it. The presence of the folding soft-top in the boot area is definitely a compromise as it seriously imposes upon boot space and is a large barrier when loading luggage into the otherwise large space behind the rear seats.
Speaking of loading, the Wrangler has an unusual split rear door. The bottom half, with spare wheel attached, opens to the side and then the top glass section lifts upwards. I found this quite convenient in allowing me to load most items through the bottom section only, having to squeeze items underneath the soft-top.
Life on the inside has been brought up-to-date as far as possible. There is stretch-out space for 5 passengers and from the drivers perspective items such as a touch-screen infotainment system are provided. Behind the wheel, it took a few days to get used to the highly sensitive steering which requires constant attention and minor corrections.
From a technical point the Wrangler has Jeeps’ 3.6l V6 pushing out 209kW and 347Nm through its 5 speed automatic transmission. This provides very adequate progress on-road and cruising at 120km/h is effortless. Traffic is made easy with the auto although this is still a very large vehicle especially when it comes to parking. This task is eased by the standard reverse camera and park assist system.
For off-roading the Wrangler provides the old fashioned transfer box style system with a second lever for selecting 2H/ 4H or 4L options. The lever needs a very firm and heavy hand to change between systems. This could be seen as positive in the aspect that you cannot make this change accidentally. There is a hill descent control system as well, although I did not have the opportunity to test this. On a short field excursion, in 4L, the Wrangler quickly showed that it is highly capable and with a “feet off” strategy it simply plodded its way along assuring me that nothing was going to impede progress.
With the vast choice of vehicles available to modern motorists, I firmly believe that it always comes down to a few issues. Price is always the first and at R 540 990, the Wrangler Sahara is well priced against similar competition.
Far more important are your personal needs and requirements and this is where the buyer is the only person who can make the decision. If you are looking for a large vehicle that is unquestionably capable of proper off-roading then this must be on your short list. In my dream garage, the Wrangler or similar has a definite space BUT you need to consider very carefully if you could live with this type of vehicle as your every day commuter.
Note that I have not commented on fuel consumption for this vehicle as I believe that it is unfair to prejudice the capabilities of this type of vehicle by looking at this figure. Secondly, consumption will vary widely depending on the type of usage.
Wrangler 3.6L Sahara 2 door - R 494 990
Wrangler 3.6L Sahara 4 door - R 540 990 AS TESTED
Wrangler 3.6L Rubicon 4 door - R 566 990
Wrangler 2.8 CRD Sahara - R 601 990
ALAN ROSENMEYER - FEB 2016
However, BMW are not a company to sit on their laurels and expect success. Constant updates and improvements have ensured that the 3 series has always retained its place as one of the main contenders in the class. Their ability to identify and address shortcomings and criticisms is to be admired, as is the absolute determination to retain their title as the DRIVER’S car in the class. Having said all of this, and while admiring all about the 3 series, it is not without fault in my humble opinion.
The latest versions of the 3 series have addressed issues such as the lack of passenger space in the rear. I found this to be more than adequate and, in fact, very spacious. Luxury abounds in the vehicle, and this is where my criticism starts ....... What is standard on this car and what only appears on the EXTREMELY long options list?
To discuss the full options list would require me to write a book, so I will attempt to divide them into 3 categories: safety items; performance items; luxury items. I believe that certain items in each of these categories should even be standard as they are essential, especially in the safety category. To list a few of these in no particular order:
Extended light package
Lane change warning
Active cruise control with stop/go
Head-up display---this includes navigation
Full BMW connected drive system
From the performance category, I would single out the following:
Adaptive M suspension
As for the luxury category, it is simply a matter of personal choice and taste.
As for the car itself, the 320 diesel engine is something special. Putting out 140kW and a stonking 400nM, there is no lack of performance potential and this is to be relished. Covering approximately 700km in my week with the car, I made liberal use of the adaptive suspension moving constantly between eco mode and into sport and sport +.
You feel a definite surge of power as you move into the higher modes and the car simply becomes more eager in every aspect. YET, with all this use of the available power the fuel consumption for the week was a miserly 5.8l/100km. I always refer to a real world figure, and this is among the best I have achieved. Then take into account that this is not a small, underpowered city car but is genuinely a larger family sedan falling squarely into the sports executive category.
In summary, I have to return to the specification and pricing issue. The base price for a 320D manual is R479 000. The price of the test vehicle was R751 600. Obviously, this is a massive difference and to repeat my earlier comment, I believe that many of these extras SHOULD be standard, especially in the safety category. The question becomes where you need to go in this regard and where you will stand at trade-in time. If you do not keep the car for an extended period, you will tend to lose out on the value of costly extras on trade-in. So, in the limited time ownership scenario you must be prepared to pay for extras that you want or desire.
Overall, the 3 series, and in particular the 320D will always remain at or near the top of the class in its category. This, in spite of extreme competition from so many competitors and pretenders to the throne. In fact, there are too many to mention here. All I can say is that you would never go wrong with this choice.
List Price : R 479 000
Price as tested: R 751 600.
ALAN ROSENMEYER - FEBRUARY 2016
0PEL CORSA 1.4T SPORT
In the not very distant past, many motor manufacturers took the “cooking” versions of their popular models, added a few go-faster stripes, possibly a rev counter, mag wheels and a body kit and then added the word SPORT to create a halo model.
It seems that times have changed now, Opel have added most of the items as above to their popular B segment hatch but then gone a lot further by including a “hot” new motor with 1.4 litres, and a turbo producing 110kW and 220Nm. Quite a gain over the standard 85kW versions.
Result.........in the left corner, introducing the OPEL CORSA 1.4T SPORT.
Perhaps I have over-simplified this a bit, but the 1.4T Sport does boast many features over and above its smaller siblings. Starting with a quick shifting 6 speed manual gearbox, items such as hi-density discharge headlights with auto function and a really fat, flat-bottomed steering wheel. On the outside you get upmarket 2-tone mag wheels and side skirts to add to the body presence. All this for a selling price of R270 000.
Living with the Corsa Sport for a week gave me the opportunity to really experience life with a smaller car offering above average performance and features. The 1.4T engine definitely prefers a few revs to unleash the turbo and then turns into a taut handling little flyer.
The 1.4T engine definitely prefers a few revs to unleash the turbo and then turns into a taut handling little flyer. Good fun through a few twisties, that fat wheel feels good in your hands.
The bonus for the more practically minded is the fact that this is still a 5 door B segment hatchback with all the advantages that this configuration offers. Good space for 4-5 passengers and the versatility of split folding rear seats if load capacity is needed.
Another difference from the Sport concept of the past is that the modern version must also include luxuries and high tech, the Corsa Sport does not disappoint here either. From the multi-function steering wheel to the touchscreen infotainment system including a reverse camera, they are all there. One letdown in my opinion is that the navigation system needs to be driven via a smart phone. Way beyond my limited tech savvy, so simply left alone. Hill start assist is starting to become a common feature and is fitted. I wish this tech was around when I went to pass my driver’s licence.
Another feature on this car that is not yet common in this price bracket is the multi-mode type selection. On the Corsa Sport there are 2 buttons, offering eco-mode as well as a CITY button that lightens the steering and controls for ease of driving in traffic conditions.
A small criticism is that Eco mode is the default mode when you start the car and you have to switch this out to achieve the standard, more responsive setting that I chose to use most of the time.
Opel offers an upgrade pack that includes blind spot warning in the rear view mirrors, park distance control front and rear and an upgraded reverse camera system. This was fitted to the test car and carries a price premium of only R5000. I believe this is excellent value for such upgrades to your safety and convenience.
Opel Corsa 1.4T Sport R 270 900
ALAN ROSENMEYER - FEBRUARY 2016
In the late 80’s, Suzuki successfully marketed the Vitara in South Africa. The vehicle steadily grew over time and became the Grand Vitara, offering off-road ability with added space and luxury. This left a gap in the range which has, recently, been partly filled by the smaller but luxurious SX4. Roll on late 2015 and the Vitara makes a return to sunny SA.
With many design cues reminding us of the original but in a thoroughly modern package. Add in the fact that this is offered at very attractive, value for money pricing. All models in the range are offered with a single engine option, a 1.6L four cylinder rated at 86kW and 151Nm. It may not be a ball of fire, but coupled with a very light and smooth 5 speed manual gearbox (6 speed automatic is also available), this is no penalty in everyday driving. The test vehicle provided was the middle of the range GL+.
Some of the features of this model include alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and the contrast roof colour treatment (my opinion is that the vehicle would look far less attractive without this). Top of the range GLX models add safety items like Hi-density headlights plus luxuries like leather trim and a panoramic roof (again an item that I would spec). Lower models in the range have front wheel drive, but Suzuki’s AllGrip, 4 wheel drive system is available on top end models. I can report that the 2 wheel drive version is extremely capable on dirt roads with the typically raised body and ride height of the SUV style contributing.
With 5 passengers plus overnight luggage, it handled a fairly bad piece of dirt road with ease and without any stress. From a passenger and space point of view, as always , you have the option of extending luggage space by dropping the rear seats in a 60/40 split. With all seats occupied, legroom is more than adequate for 3 adults in the rear.
Suzuki have , until now, resisted the trend towards small turbo engines yet they still manage to provide exceptional fuel economy. In 10 days of driving including the overnight trip plus lots of town and freeway driving, I returned a figure of 7.2 l per 100km. This is what I term real world consumption and most owners should be able to achieve this easily.
In summary, I believe that Suzuki have a winner on their hands here. The GL+ version may not have all the bells and whistles like multimedia touchscreens but at the price I would not complain.
ALAN ROSENMEYER JANUARY 2016
Many cars are, or have become, legendary for many different reasons. Most are justified or well-earned, and occasionally they are totally inexplicable. I am truly happy to report that the Land Rover Defender falls squarely into the former category.
The Defender has been around for a very long time (the late 1940’s if my memory serves me) and has earned its stripes over the years. Now, VERY SADLY, it is being forced into retirement by ever changing and more demanding safety and emissions standards. Whatever comes next from Land Rover has much to live up to.
I will not spend much time discussing the obvious and stupendous strength of the Defender, nor its virtually unstoppable off-road ability. These simply go without saying, so lets discuss what its like living with this very special vehicle.
The Defender is a large vehicle and the 110 is the long wheelbase version. There is space for 5 to sprawl in comfort and even the folding extra 2 seats are comfortable although this obviously compromises luggage space. Luggage space is more than adequate as a 5 seater though.
You obviously sit high and proud in the Defender, but I was immediately surprised by how light the steering was on road. The 6 speed manual gearbox will not be rushed in any way and requires a fairly heavy and deliberate hand to ensure smooth progress. Then, there is the old fashioned but effective second lever for engaging low range etc. Again this requires a very deliberate action on the driver’s part.
Something that immediately struck me when I jumped (literally) into the drivers seat was the total lack of ANY buttons on the steering wheel. When last did I drive such a vehicle? However, after a short time driving, I felt that this suits the Defender perfectly. Having said this, you also feel that you are not lacking any creature comforts with very effective air-con and a good sound system.
I took the opportunity to take an open-road trip in the Defender and as long as you are prepared for very relaxed cruising (about 110km/h seems to be its comfort zone), it handles the trip very comfortably and capably. All versions of the Defender sold in SA make use of the same 2.2l turbo diesel engine with outputs of 90kW and 360Nm of torque. As stated above, its happy to cruise all day at a leisurely pace and the torque is sufficient to pull you through or over almost any obstacle.
The second part of our Defender Road trip was in the Pilansberg Game Reserve and I chose some fairly rough trails and tracks to test the Landy’s ability. Once again, it never skipped a beat and I was surprised how relaxed I was behind the wheel even when tackling the tougher sections of road.
FAREWELL TO A LEGEND, I’m proud that I was given the honour of testing one of the final versions.
Defender 110TD Station Wagon Heritage R 680 600
ALAN ROSENMEYER - DECEMBER 2015 -
The Swift was originally launched as a B segment hatchback range from Suzuki. As a solid and attractive range it quickly gained popularity leading to Suzuki expanding the range with numerous extra offerings. This included a quirky sedan version dubbed the Dzire.
When expanding the range, both hatch and sedan versions were sourced from the Maruti Suzuki plant in India allowing them to add the smaller engine 1.2l version at a bargain price. There are small design differences between the Japanese and Indian sourced vehicles and a few quality and trim issues but the baby siblings offer exceptional value for money. The hatchback versions feature what is referred to the “Helmet” type styling which is quite a distinctive look in a segment where most choices look rather similar.
Our test period commenced with the bargain version in Dzire sedan format. The 1.2 l offers 63kW and 113Nm so is certainly no slouch in a smaller and light body. With a very light and easy to operate 5 speed manual gearbox, the claimed fuel economy is 5.3l per 100km. In a full week of mixed driving, I achieved an amazing 5.9l per 100km without any special effort. In summary, a perfect bargain B segment town car with good space, a comfortable ride, enough features to keep you happy and exceptional economy. Included in the price is a 2 year/ 30 000km service plan.
Next up was the hatchback 1.4 GLS version. Made in Japan, you do get a noticeably more upmarket feel and finish within a very similar environment. One neat trick is the false floor in the boot area giving you an extra and secure area for hiding valuables and laptops or similar. The 1.4l engine ups the outputs to 70kW and 130Nm, this may not sound like a big increase from the 1.2, but the car definitely has a lot more get up and go. Again the 5 speed manual is extremely smooth and light in everyday use, making this a very easy car to drive, even in traffic conditions.
Claimed fuel economy for the 1.4 is 6.0l per 100km and I very easily achieved 6.7 during my time with the car. The service plan on this version extends to 4 years/ 60 000km.
Last up was the big brother of the family. The typical “breker” looking for fun, performance and looks. The test car could’nt be missed with large SPORT graphics but it actually suits the character of the car. (I’ve seen a version minus the graphics and it is far more discreet). The engine increases to 1.6l with a large gain to 100kW and 160Nm. Add in the 6 speed short-throw gearbox and this is a car that begs to be driven a bit harder than its little brothers. The front suspension and steering are all tightened a bit to improve performance and this is achieved without much sacrifice in the everyday respect.
Overall, the Suzuki Swift family includes a sibling suited to every member of your family. From the “Baby” 1.2l versions in hatch or sedan, through to the sensible middle sibling in the 1.4 and then to the “Breker” Sport, there will be an option to meet your needs. There are additional automatic options available in both 1.2 and 1.4l.
ALAN ROSENMEYER - DECEMBER 2015
Getting the opportunity to test the Ford Focus ST back to back with the Hyundai Veloster Turbo has been a very interesting experience. The 2 cars are simultaneously so similar yet so different.
Most buyers in this category would do well to look at both before making a buying decision, yet I believe that they appeal to two totally different buyer profiles. Let's begin with the Focus ST. 184kw and 360nm can never be sneezed at. These figures place it squarely in the "hot - hatch" category.
In contrast, the Veloster turbo offers 150kw and 265 nm, maybe better categorised as a "warm-hatch", although it certainly is not lacking in power. When releasing the ST version of the Focus at the recent facelift, Ford clearly stated that they were making the car a bit more "hard-core". While improving the already impressive handling and road - holding abilities, the ride is somewhat hard and , maybe, twitchy. What you want from a performance oriented vehicle without doubt......BUT.......what about living with it as your everyday drive? Taking living, and driving, in Jozi into account, the 6 speed manual is a pleasure when driving the ST as it's meant to be driven. Again, what about the daily commute? Maybe I'm getting old, but I want a high tech dual clutch automatic for commuting duties. Personally, I think the Focus ST could be missing a trick by not having this option. Turning to the Veloster turbo, the common feeling was that the naturally aspirated version was lacking in power. I feel that the turbo goes a long way towards addressing this. The question will always remain though, could they have done more?
With the 7 speed DCT gearbox, my commuting concerns are assuaged. Also, as a daily driver, the Veloster turbo feels far more relaxed to live with. There are "flappy paddles " to use when you want to push on a bit and they are effective and fun through the twisties. However, there is no doubt that the Focus will leave the Veloster far behind when pushing on.
Finally, let's look at the "looks" and styling. The Focus ST, is a highly practical 5 door family hatch with abundant space and practicality. In ST 3 guise it's also fully equipped so adds the luxury touch as well. In contrast, the Veloster is an anomaly in the market. Since Mini decided to go mainstream with the latest Clubman, it's the only asymmetric 3 door vehicle available on our market. It's a coupe with added practicality and, in my humble opinion, certainly looks the coupe part. Add the centre exhaust of the turbo and I think it looks the part. Specification wise, both cars have most safety, luxury and comfort items that you can desire. Looking at prices, the ST 3 comes in at R 421 900 and the Veloster turbo at R 407 400, both as tested. There is the option of the Focus ST 1 at R 381 900 (same technically, minus spec) while the Veloster turbo 6 speed manual is R387 400.
In summary, these are 2 such different cars that making a choice is almost impossible. I'm going to be a coward. I would take a Focus ST 3 as a weekend toy to really enjoy driving PLUS a Veloster turbo DCT to use for commuting during the week.
Particularly when it comes to cars, I have always been drawn to the different or not the most common cars. I love being different. Even if it’s a popular range, I’m always drawn to the most unusual derivative. The Toyota Auris has long been an anomaly in the South African market, selling very small numbers relative to its Corolla cousin. Since the launch of the facelifted version a few months ago, there suddenly seem to be many more on the road. In my opinion, this is well-deserved due to the massive improvements and quality upgrades seen on the latest version.
Back to my opening comments, right at the top of the Auris range is the Hybrid version. I don’t think Toyota expects to sell many of these, but its the halo model of the range. The technology is actually quite familiar, being taken straight out of the Prius. Its a 1.8l petrol engine supplemented with electric power giving a total output of100kw and 142nm of torque. This compares to the 1.6l petrol versions 97kw/160kw.
The other major difference in the vehicle is the very special automatic gearbox which is essentially a CVT. At the start, I must make it clear that this is not a plug-in electric like the Nissan Leaf or BMW i3. The electric aspect is recharged while driving so there is a minimal range running on electric power only. The electric motor supplements the petrol engine in most circumstances. There is the almost silent pull-away or coasting in a parking lot, but on the open road it behaves far more like any other car. EXCEPT for the fuel consumption, but more of that later.
Being the halo model in the range, the Hybrid is fully loaded as you would expect from a C-segment hatch. Comparing to the petrol CVT version, the Hybrid has a few extra features:
· LED Daytime Running Lights
· Bi-LED headlight as opposed to Bi-Halogen
· Retractable side mirrors
· Auto Rainsensing windscreen wipers
· Park distance control front and rear
· Panoramic Glass Roof with powered blind (this extends the full length of the passenger compartment)
Looking to price, the Hybrid retails for
R60 000 more at R367 500 compared to R307 700. Having looked at
all the extra features, the biggest difference will be in your running costs
during the ownership period. Taking into account that both vehicles have a
standard 5 year /90 oookm service plan
and 15 000km service intervals, it’s all going to come down to fuel
Looking to the manufacturers claimed combined cycle fuel consumption figures the Hybrid is listed at 3.9l/100km opposed to 6.0l /100km for the petrol version. Finally CO2 is 89g/km against 139g/km in the petrol version.
Note that the above are the claimed figures, so let's look at real life. I tested the car for a week and covered 700km. This included town and traffic commuting duties plus an open road run with the cruise control set at
the national speed limit. Total combined consumption for the full period was 5.4l/100km with a best of 4.6 for the open road run. This from a spacious family sized hatchback with all the luxury features and top grade finishes. Note that the dual zone climate control system was always operating at full capacity. At the end of the day, the question remains whether you can make a business case for the extra purchase price for the hybrid version? If you factor in a saving of, say, 2l/ 100km what annual distance would you need to cover? If you are environmentally conscious, what value do you place on 89g/km against 139? My personal conclusion goes back to my opening comments. The exclusive features added to the hybrid model carry a value. Personally, I love seeing a vehicle running as economically as possible and the final prize would be the exclusivity of the Auris Hybrid.
ALANROSENMEYER OCTOBER 2015
FORD is on a roll in South Africa at present, shown by their rapidly increasing sales allied to market share. Apart from the Leisure/ bakkie market, there has been major activity on the car side as well.
Take a look at the Ford Focus range. It has always had a reputation as being among the best with regard to handling and roadholding. After the facelift earlier this year, the ST models, in particular, received attention in this area to tighten up this aspect and to emphasise their ascendancy. Overall, I believe that they have succeeded.
From my first drive in the Focus ST, this is a car that puts a BIG grin on your face. Its Fun with a ca[ital F. It’s perfectly capable of pottering along at 2000 revs in any gear, but it responds with alacrity and a smile on its face as soon as you summon up those horses that are waiting to be unleashed. AND, there are plenty of those with 184kw and 360nm of torque available at the prod of your right foot. The response is virtually instant and I could not feel any turbo lag if I felt like a bit of fun. Add this to the improved handling and roadholding and you begin to understand the potential in this car.
The responsive acceleration coupled with a very quick steering rack makes for great fun through corners and sweeps. I have a personal little downhill sweep that I take every test car through, the ST was one of the quickest and most stable cars that has gone through there, plus it felt like there was plenty more capability in reserve.
The “hot hatch” category is a popular one in SA and the Focus ST must be considered in the same breath as all its competitors. Among these, you have to look at the Golf GTI, Renault Megane and others. Its not quite at the level of the Mercedes A45 AMG or Audi S3, but price must be a factor here too.
So lets talk price......... The ST3 version as tested retails for R421 000 and there is the cheaper ST1 version at R381 000. The 2 versions are mechanically identical with the ST3 adding certain features starting with SYNC2 connectivity. Other features added to the ST3 include, high density bi-xenon adaptive headlights, dual zone automatic air-conditioning, full leather Recaro front seats plus more. Overall, the Focus ST competes with other hatches in terms of luxury.
The Focus ST can almost be described as schizophrenic, its a relatively comfortable, spacious and fully equipped family hatch BUT at the prod of the accelerator it turns into a sporty car that I named the “#Grin Inducer”. It’s just so much fun to enjoy the power and handling that this car is so easily capable of providing. There is a button to turn off the DSC “nanny”, but I reckon you need to be either brave, stupid or on a race track to attempt this.
As an everyday drive, the only fault that I can find with this car is that the
highly responsive steering causes a over-large turning circle. This
can be a nuisance in parking situations but I would consider it a small price
to pay to live with this car.
This holds the car completely stationary on pull-away without the need of the hand-brake. I’m sure so many of us wish this was available when we did our drivers licence tests. With a car like the Focus ST, I don’t
believe that fuel economy should ever be an issue. For those that want to know,
after a full week and 500km of urban and open road use (very similar to what
should be normal usage for all owners), and definitely not sparing those horses
hiding under the bonnet, my average was 9.2 l/100km. Certainly not the lightest
car I have tested, but good value for the power and FUN factor provided.
In the 70’s and 80’s, Ford sold numerous cars like the Escort 1600Sport and many “sporty or special” versions of the Cortina and later the Sierra. Most of these provided the show and some of them, the go. In the Focus ST, Ford has put it all together.
ALAN ROSENMEYER NOVEMBER 2015