Month: July 2015

The future is now – New age Motor Journalism

Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond have welcomed the future…

One of the biggest problems with being a generation Y’er is the gap that exists between us and the generation that birthed us. Unlike the Baby boomers or even the early generation X’ers, we have grown up in a very different world. There are pros and cons to being part of generation Y and X, for instance one of the cons is how we are generally impatient people, due to technology playing a large role in our lives. That same con is also a pro because our generation has embraced new technology fully and as a result our world has become more streamlined, much smaller in terms of communication and much more instant.

As a result, the way we do things has changed completely, even the way we entertain ourselves. My mother talks of times when the whole family would congregate once a week around a small device with antennas and wait for some programming to come on. Thereafter it was back to a blank screen emitting white noise. I do wish I could have experienced the lack of television dependency that was there at that time.  Then I realise that I wouldn’t be able to get fast access to cars that were launched this week or watch Chris Harris powerslide whatever he is power sliding at that time. I also wouldn’t be able to see what my role models were tweeting about and what crazy story Jalopnik had for me today.

The past generations lives seem so simple and for someone who is bombarded with so much media, it seems like they had it better from a “peace and quiet” point of view. Really though, I think if the generation Y’ers spent a week in the 50’s and 60’s, they would die of sheer boredom. In today’s day and age, even most of good ol television is boring. With the internet and platforms such as Youtube and Netflix, you can hand pick what you want to see and when you want to see it. That is why I must admit, I wasn’t following Top Gear the way I used to for the last few years. The reason being that since it was on television and it played on a Sunday evening, I was often out with my mates at that time. Even if I recorded it on the decoder, sitting on the couch and watching it seemed like a shlep. When I did watch it, I watched it purely for the laughs and not for the new cars because I had already seen the car they were testing on Chris Harris’s channel months before. So when news broke out that Jeremy, Richard and James had signed with Amazon Prime, this made me smile.

“Welcome to the future gentlemen” is what I would say to the three if I knew them personally. This shift into a digital platform could be very interesting for them as it opens them up to a world of new possibilities. The internet is like what the double clutch gearbox did to the manual, of course enthusiasts still long for manuals but the gearbox in a 911 Porsche GT3 doesn’t make you sorely miss it. It’s more convenient, it’s faster and it’s here to stay, much like the internet. One thing about a double clutch gearbox is that it’s not free, you have to pay a premium for them. The same applies to platforms such as Amazon Prime, they aren’t free and that can potentially be a problem.

Remember that one time that the Drive Channel moved to a subscription platform and everyone lost their minds? I have an eery feeling that the same could happen with this new show. There is nothing wrong with expecting people to pay for good quality content, the problem is with our generation and our expectations. Mediums like YouTube have made us spoiled, so we expect a lot for free. This isn’t right but a lot of things aren’t and to expect millions of people to adopt a new attitude is not a days work. So let’s hope this new show by Jeremy, Richard and James will be received well. For now, all we can do is wait. I’m excited to see legends such as them buy into new age media such as the internet. Hopefully this can be a turning point for countries such as South Africa to warm up to the idea that everything in the future will be online.

Parents who don’t deserve to be parents…

Thought Thursday: Stupid parents driving their children around without car seats.

Getting punched in the face is not a nice thing to happen to you. When I was eight years old, I was punched in the face, by a thirteen year old overweight boy. You know the type of kid I’m talking about, the stereotypical bully. Although I cannot remember if the incident was an actual case of bullying, because I do remember slapping him in the face before I got punched. I may have left that part out in the incident report. The odds were against the thirteen year old though, I was a small spectacle clad child with a sweet Colgate smile, who did no wrong and he was well, an ugly kid. The fact of the matter though is that even if I did slap him, the slap of an eight year old versus the punch of an overgrown thirteen year old made the case fall in my favour.

The real drama was not the incident though, what happened after that is what made this scuffle a big deal. This fracas happened at a sports day and parents don’t like to see small children getting hurt by big children. When something like that happens, a “mob mentality” ensues and parents get riled up very easily and inevitably, a huge scene is caused. It’s only natural for parents to feel this way, small children are so timid and vulnerable, especially when they’re wearing Harry Potter style glasses. If you asked any parent what they would do if they found out that their child was being abused somehow, their reactions would be very similar. No sane person would allow their child to be hurt in any way and rightfully so.

So you can imagine why it boggles my mind and infuriates me at the same time when I see a small child standing on the centre console of a car whilst it’s parents drive along happily. That same parent would kill anyone who tried to harm that child because they love their child. So why on earth would you allow your child to potentially be killed in a car accident because of your negligence? Not even negligence, I should say down right stupidity. What a double standard it is to say “I love my child” and then to allow them to walk around in a moving car. The interesting thing is that I see this sight often and it’s different races, cultures and classes of people too. Parents who allow this may as well be allowing their kids to be punched in the face by strangers. Getting punched is still not as harsh as getting flung out of the windscreen of your car when you crash. That is why I am glad that we can now report cases like these when we see them and the parents will be fined heavily for this. As of two months ago, it is a law to have your child in a baby seat if your child is under three years of age. So if you’re not doing so, you’re breaking the law.

The problem with laws is that people will still break them. People still take calls when driving and text behind the wheel all the time. Often times those who do that very stupidly don’t realise how serious it is and they slip up, but what about your beautiful innocent child’s life? There shouldn’t have to be an awareness campaign for such things, parental instincts should kick in automatically with issues like these. It’s common sense. If you’re not okay to have your child hurt by anyone, you shouldn’t be okay with them not sitting in a baby seat. Period. Motorists, if you see this type of thing happening on the road, feel free to take a picture and post it on the wall of our Facebook page, so we can name and shame these parents and get them reported. As much as we would like to punch parents who do this, we cannot take the law into our own hands, so this may be a good place to start. Happy Thought Thursday Motorists.

Image taken from www.bubhub.com.au

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: Michèle Mouton

Women Wednesday: Michèle Mouton

Have you ever heard of the “Race of Champions”? If you have, we’re going to tell you about it anyway. It’s an international Motorsport event that is held each year. The thing about this event is that unlike other Motorsport events, people like David Coulthard, Sebastian Loeb and the late Colin Mcrae have all participated in it. Imagine all your favourite WRC, Formula One and Moto GP racers put up against each other in identical cars on a track. Sounds awesome doesn’t it? Well that’s exactly what Race of Champions is. The event has taken place all over the world now since the late 80’s.

Who started this amazing event? A sweet looking lady by the name of Michèle Mouton. Her experience in organising such an event doesn’t come from being in the events business, it comes from being in motorsport. It comes from winning the iconic two-litre prototype class in the 24 hours of LeMans in 1975. It comes from winning the legendary Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 1985. It comes from being the first ever women to win a major rally title, the German Rally Championship. Her experience being FIA’s manager for the World Rally Championship during 2011 may have also helped. Need I say more?

Yes, Michèle Mouton is a legend, a wolf in sheep’s clothing so to speak. It just goes to show that you don’t have to be messy and oil stained to be a rally driver, or a male too. Michèle is a wonderful example of the large contribution that women have made in the world of racing and motoring in general. If it weren’t for her, the Race of Champions wouldn’t exist, so all petrol heads owe her a big thank you. It’s an awesome feeling to know that a now 64 year old lady can probably still show many young racers a thing or two on a track. I wonder where Formula One would be if it were in the hands of someone like her? As we know, things are often more organised and less chaotic when there is a ladies touch involved. Happy Women Wednesday Motorists

The Technology Behind You Getting a Fine

Tech Tuesday: Speed Cameras and how they work.

There’s nothing like travelling on the highway, minding your own business on your way to wherever you’re going and then FLASH, you’ve just gotten a ticket. Automatically you slam the brake as if that will reverse time and the fine will disappear. When you realise that it’s too light late you then go into the different stages of grief.

Denial: “I’m sure it wasn’t me they flashed, I wasn’t doing more than 120” you think to yourself, but you’re unsure, that Katy Perry song had you distracted.

Anger: “Who do these cops think they are? They’re so busy looking for people speeding but they don’t do anything about taxi drivers!” You scream to yourself, but deep down you know you’re wrong.

Bargaining: “Please God don’t let it be me that they fined, I promise if you let it be someone else, I’ll go to church every Sunday” you pray, because you may or may not have been travelling over 160 kph.

Depression: “I knew one day this was going to happen, I just hope I braked below 160 kph, if not they’ll come arrest me at home” you think to yourself, knowing it was definitely you they fined.

Acceptance: “It is what it is, whatever happens will happen, isn’t the post office still on strike? I hope they’re still on strike so they won’t deliver the fine to my house” you say hoping that it gets lost and never makes it your house.

If you’ve ever wondered how our friends in orange, blue and white manage to fine us, especially on the highway, well here is a brief explanation. Most speed traps use a camera with a radar system which fires a frequency on the road and picks up what speed each moving object is coming at. Once the radar picks up that you’re above the speed limit, it then captures your number plate and the rest is history. These radar systems can pick up vehicles on multiple lanes and capture individual vehicles because of the angle that they’re set-up at, so no you can’t dodge a fine if there are other cars next to you.

The other type is the fixed cameras such as the ones at stop lights. These systems use embedded wires on the road that can detect speed and again if you’re over the limit or you’re crossing the stop light when its red, it will capture your vehicle. The last type which are more rare are the average speed cameras. These are notoriously known on the N3 on route to KwaZulu Natal. These cameras use maths and a picture to decide if you’re eligible for a fine or not. Once you pass the first set, a picture of your registration is taken and the system knows that it should take you a specific amount of time to reach the next set of cameras. When you reach the next set another picture is taken. If you have gotten there before the average time it should take you if you were driving the correct speed, you will be fined.

It’s that simple, well it’s not really simple but you understand what we mean. There are many devices on offer to help you detect a speed camera, but really the best option is to slow down. From an expensive point of view, it’s better to slow down. From a safety point of view, it’s better to slow down, even if you are an excellent driver and you can handle yourself, it’s the other person that you can’t handle. Lastly from a stress point of view, it’s better to just slow down. No-one wants to go through the stages of grief over a fine, worse yet no-one wants officer Mazibuko and Oom Piet visiting their house. Happy Tech Tuesday.

Image courtesy of www.iol.co.za

Will the Audi RS3 rule Greece?

Modded Monday: The Audi RS3 is coming to South Africa

In ancient Greece, different nations lived close to one another. For instance, the Athenians and the Spartans. These two cities spoke the same language and had some similarities but they also had their differences. The Athenians were a creative group of people who valued education, arts and sciences. The Spartans were a simple people who were focused on war and trained to be warriors from an early age. Does the saying “This is Sparta!?” ring a bell. Yes, these are guys we’re talking about. Besides them, there were other cities like Corinth and Thebes. All these cities wanted one thing, to rule Greece entirely, so there were many wars that happened because of this. Other wars happened in that time regarding other matters too, but the objective was the same, absolute power. That is why today we have movies like 300, Troy and Clash of the Titans.

Well history repeats itself, in one way or another. Even in the motoring world, the war for absolute power is the same theme. In the days of Greek warfare, many legends gained prominence as a result of their success in war. People like Alexander The Great, Achilles and Perseus have been written about and their stories have been told many times over. In the motoring world, legends like the Opel 200 TS, the BMW 325is and the original MK1 Volkswagen Golf GTI are legends who have also had their stories told to generation after generation. The war is not over, the fight is still strong and more legends are to come. Recently we have seen heroes like the BMW 1M, the Audi RS3 and very recently the Mercedes A45 step up to claim figurative Greece and be the ruler of the hyper hatches.

Step into 2015 C.E and a new generation of warriors are being bred and one of them is about to reveal himself. This new warrior shares very similar characteristics with the one before it, but promises to be better. More power, better handling and new shiny armour is what its creator has told us. A 2,5litre 5 cylinder engine producing 270kW and 465Nm of torque are the figures and a 0-100Kph time of 4,3 seconds is claimed. This new warrior is called the Audi RS3 and it’s hitting our shores very soon. What is it up against? Mercedes’ facelifted A45 hatchback and BMW’s  M2 coupé. Let’s not forget about the Ford Focus RS and the Honda Civic Type R.

The RS3 sticks to the same design cues of its predecessor, simple and understated. A few clues here and there show you that it is ready for war. Flared wheel arches, larger air intakes and brushed silver bits are subtle give-away’s that this is not a normal Audi A3. Start up the new Audi RS3 and the distinct purr of a transverse 5 cylinder engine is audible, a very different sound to its four cylinder younger sibling, the S3. Will the new Audi RS3 claim Greece versus its competitors? Only time will tell. The war has already begun overseas, but the ultimate test will be when the car launches on our South African soil. Until then, get ready and stay tuned. Happy Modded Monday Motorists.

2015-audi-rs-3-sportback_100494268_l 2015-audi-rs-3-sportback_100494270_l

Mercedes Benz’s facelifted A45 is fashionably powerful

The world of luxury runs across many spectrums. Be it cars, fashion, real estate or jewellery. Often times people who enjoy a certain type of luxury also enjoy another. For instance, someone who is a fan of sports cars could possibly be a fan of luxury watches or bespoke tailoring. Some brands have known this for some time now and as a result they have managed to merge the various interests of their consumers. By so doing they have been able take their brand from being perceived as a brand specialising in one thing, to a brand known for its lifestyle attributes.

At the end of the month, the Mercedes Benz fashion week will commence. This week will consist of some of South Africa’s most talented designers. Names such as Craig Native, Adriaan Kuiters and David Tlale will all showcase their work at the MBFW. Being a fashion designer is not an easy job, as glamorous as it seems, making sure your products are viewed as some of the best means a tremendous amount of hard work behind the scenes. Sourcing the right quality materials and using the best manufacturing methods, whilst incorporating creative designs is part of the process of being a great fashion designer. Marketing your products and measuring up to international standards is another aspect of the business. Those international standards are not child’s play, that is why the competition is so tough and you need to be always adapting to stay in the game.

Similarly, developing an engine that creates 280kW of power and 475Nm of torque from a 2.0litre turbo is not simply a case of turning up the boost. The thing is that when Mercedes Benz offers so much power from a small engine to its clients, that engine needs to last. Reliability is of key importance, so when the A45 had its recent power update in the facelift, Mercedes needed to make sure that it is also reliable enough too. That is why Mercedes had to fit a new valve assembly, shorten the gear ratios and change how the turbo boosts. In the performance hatch world, the standards keep getting raised very often. They hyper hatch segment is at its most competitive, with the likes of Audi releasing their RS3 soon. BMW is also developing their M2 and even though it is not a hatch, it will be thrown into the ring with the Mercedes and the Audi for a fight till the death. Who will be victorious? Only time will tell, for now if your’e looking into purchasing a Mercedes Benz A45, you’ll have a fitter machine to choose. According to Mercedes, the car will average 6.9l per 100km too, which most Mercedes A45 clients won’t see because when you buy an A45 you don’t buy it for its fuel consumption. That figure is simply a nice thing to know.

So as different as fashion and motoring are, there are many synergies between the two. Both are high pressure industries driven by trends and the power of the consumer. Little wonder why Mercedes has chosen to be part of one of the most well known fashion shows in the country. Mercedes is showing us that they’re not only interested in selling you a car, they’re interested in selling you a lifestyle. In the new Mercedes A45 you’ll definitely be fashionably powerful and there’s no harm in looking good and going fast.

Till trade in do us apart: GM’s Complete Care Package

A nuptial ceremony is no doubt a serious affair, seriously stressful yet seriously beautiful…at times. One does not simply get married, unless you’re from a culture of arranged marriages. Generally a dating period precedes the famous “I do” and “Till death do us apart”. The actual marriage day is filled with happiness, nervousness and good advice. One thing that most people will tell you, is that this is the beginning of something beautiful, which it is. If you have many wise people at your wedding, they will also tell you that the wedding, as important as it is, is not the main thing. The focus should be what happens after the wedding, after the honeymoon is over. When you’re looking into your persons eyes and declaring your undying love, you don’t think about how they will leave the kitchen cabinets open all the time or how they will forget to put the toilet seat down. Worse yet, if you get married in haste you wouldn’t have had the time to see if this person is in fact a sociopath or you may think they simply like a drink or two but they’re actually an alcoholic.

That is why it’s always good not to rush into things such as marriage, you need to take your time and do your research to see if the person is really “the one”. There’s nothing like being stranded far away from home, in a broken down car, at night and you’re almost sure you can hear a wolf howling a few metres away from you. You try and dial the emergency services number supplied in your owners manual but all you hear is a loop of the soundtrack used in the Egoli TV series. Eventually you call a tow truck company and a pony-tailed man proceeds to come and assist you. After you’ve paid him your entire lives savings for the services rendered, you realise that the honeymoon is over and your car is only on 9 000km old.

Buying a car is much like a marriage, if you don’t do your research and buy in haste without reading the fine print, you may find yourself seeking a divorce. The only problem when that happens is that the dealership will tell you that you still owe R10 Million on the car and they’re only willing to pay you R55 000 for it. That is why the correct after sales system needs to be in place when you buy a car, whether it’s a maintenance, service or any plan. Whatever plan is in place, it needs to ensure that you’re sorted if something goes wrong after the purchase. General Motors rolled out a system that seeks to do this in all their plans. They call it the Complete Care Package, a package that seeks to provide the best after sales system for any GM client. This system is not very new, it has been available for some time in many of their cars, but they want to make sure that their clients understand that they’re covered in specific events. For instance, road side assistance and warranty. For example, if you have a flat tyre and your car is covered under the Complete Care Package, you can call the manufacturer for assistance. Or if a specific part breaks down, depending on the circumstance, the Complete Care Package will cover it.

You may think this is not all that new and you’re right, it isn’t. The reason why we’ve decided to write about this is because like many marriages, you hear that so and so promises to love and cherish and respect each other but after a few years they’re divorced. The same applies to some car companies, when you’re about to buy you get promised a wide array of things. Until no one answers the phone when you’re broken down and are about to get eaten by wolves whilst the Egoli soundtrack plays in the background. General Motors are going to actively campaign this program to their customers and potential customers in various ways. So they’re putting their heads on a block to say that they will keep true to their promises. This is good as it works as a pledge to the public. So since they’re so confident in their offering, this Complete Care Package sounds like it will be a good thing for GM customers, from now “till trade in do us apart” and even after that. A GM client buying a used car from their stable with the Complete Care Package still active will also enjoy the benefits from the program. Well, good on General Motors for inspiring their clients to say “I do” to their cars.

Women Wednesday: Leona Chin

We’re going to keep this weeks Women Wednesday segment short and sweet. The short of it is that Leona Chin is featured. Who is Leona Chin? To put it simply, she’s a lady who likes to travel sideways for a living, yes she’s a professional driver who specialises in drifting. Besides drifting, she’s participated in other types of race car driving such as rally, autocross and gymkhana. On her biography she says she got into the sport of drifting through chance, by someone who offered to teach her the sport in exchange for her website building skills. You read correctly, someone basically said to her, “if you build me a website, I will teach you how to drift”. Did her teacher do a good job? Well here’s the sweet part, you can decide, because below is a video of her pranking a driving instructor who thinks she’s new to driving, until…

One more gear to brag about: Nine speed automatic

Technology Tuesday

Ah, the old discussion about gearboxes. A topic so heavily discussed by car people both young and old. Long ago, it was a cause to brag when you told someone you had a five speed gearbox. My grandfather was in awe in his later years when he found out that many cars now had six speed gearboxes. The debate was mainly between the automatic camp versus the manual camp though. Those for the automatic punted the effortless driving experience it created and the ease of driving an automatic. Those against the automatic judged it for its poor fuel economy and the lack of connection it created for the driver. Both parties were right, but in the time we’re living in, things have changed.

Automatic gearboxes have become the preferred choice for the majority, even if you are an enthusiast. The reason for that is because companies such as ZF have refined the automatic gearbox so well, you get the best of both worlds in one package. Of course you cannot heal and toe in an automatic and you don’t feel the same sensation that you feel when your’e manually changing gears. The reality though is that even if you’re a hardcore enthusiast, your’e not in “race” mode all the time. Most times you will be in “traffic” mode, “family” mode and even “it’s Friday and I’m exhausted after a long week” mode. So like it or not, the automatic is the gearbox to choose.

Enthusiasts don’t have much to winge about too since the automatics on offer nowadays in many cars aren’t sluggish, fuel guzzling and annoying as they used to be. The eight speed automatic made by ZF and found in cars such as BMW are amazing to drive. Now ZF offers something even better, a nine speed automatic. Why on earth would you need a nine speed gearbox you many wonder? Fuel economy for one and a better driving experience too. The ZF nine speed is apparently 16% more fuel efficient than a six speed automatic gearbox. In terms of better driving experience, someone once illustrated it this way, he said “a gearbox is like a manual labourer, the more tools he has, the better he can do his job”. This is very true because with right amount of gears and the right settings on the gearbox, your car will always be in the right gear for the task it needs to do.

This gearbox is available in  South Africa on cars such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport (New Freelander) and Jeep’s new Renegade but not many other cars in our country are using it at the moment. I’m sure in time though we will see more cars using the nine speed automatic soon, when they do, people will have one more gear to brag about, for good reason too. Happy Technology Tuesday.

*Photo courtesy of www.autoenthuse.com

Off-Roading never looked so cool: Modifying a Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler is a car that has been around for decades, for good reasons too. The car is best known for it’s exceptional off-roading capabilities and has won many awards as a result. Interestingly the Jeep Wrangler is known to hold very good trade-in value, a quality rare in SUV cars. The shape of the Jeep Wrangler has remained very similar throughout the model changes over the years. That has worked very well for Jeep because with time the car has gained a retro appeal that is unique to the Wrangler.

Nowadays, the trend has been to go back to what is “old-school” and reinvent it in a cool, new and exciting way. This trend has been seen in fashion, music and of course cars. The Jeep Wrangler is one of those cars that has received this treatment over the last few years. When the Jeep Wrangler is modified with certain “bits and bobs”, one cannot deny that it looks pretty hardcore, gaining you automatic street cred. So for this week we have listed a few modifications you can do to your Jeep Wrangler to turn it from good to great. The best part of these modifications is that there are functional and will enhance your off-roading experience, whether you’re climbing mountains in Lesotho or climbing pavements in Sandton

Suspension and Tyres

The first step to making your Jeep Wrangler stand out, is to lift the suspension. This can be done through a kit that upgrades your springs and shock absorbers, creating lift in your car and improving your ground clearance. So when you’re facing boulders in your travels, your Jeep will have no problems. The kit also gives your Jeep Wrangler more height as you roll down 4th avenue in Parkhurst which will help you locate parking easier on a Friday night. One more thing, your tyres. You can’t off-road properly without the right tyres, so a set of all terrain chunky tyres will help you do just that. There are many brands to choose from, these tyres will further enhance your mountain climbing and hardcore appeal on the streets.

Lighting

The Jeep Wrangler has excellent lighting capabilities as standard. Who knows though, perhaps in your travels you may need some lighting assistance or a taxi driver may cut you off and you may need to blind him. Either way, getting some extra lighting will always be beneficial in your Jeep Wrangler.

Wrapping 

The thing about off-roading is that it can be tricky business. You may need to go through some tight spots and that may involve a thorn-bush or two. City off-roading is very tricky too, car parks are known for “haters” who may want to key your beloved Wrangler. These two scenarios may cause scratches on your paint and no one wants any scratches on their Jeep Wrangler. That is why we suggest you apply a wrap on your car since it will protect the original paint on your vehicle, it may also enhance the cool image your car already portrays-just saying. You can get whatever colour wrap on your Wrangler nowadays, matte black is a classic favourite amongst many, it is elusive and most importantly very hardcore looking.

Results

As mentioned earlier, doing certain modifications to your Jeep Wrangler can be very beneficial to your off-roading experience. By just applying the three modifications listed above, your Jeep Wrangler is ready for anything. Roadtrips, civil wars and even coffee runs will never be the same. If you want you can even remove the rear roof from your car, making it a semi-convertible. If you’re an extreme off-roader you can even remove the doors off your Jeep Wrangler. So if you own a Jeep Wrangler and do these modifications, when people see you they will think, “that person is all about adventure” even though you will be on your way to the gym. Happy Modded Monday!

full-metal-jacket-jeep-starwood-motors-2

photos courtesy of www.starwoodmotors.com