Month: February 2017

The New Audi Q2 : It Really Is Untaggable

You have probably seen the advertising campaign for the new Audi Q2 – #untaggable is what they call it and that is exactly what it is. The Audi Q2 is difficult to define, where does one place it? What do you compare it to? These were questions that all ran through my mind during the launch of the Q2 in Cape Town.

So what exactly is it?

Audi define the Q2 as a compact SUV, which fits into the premium A0 section of the market. It could easily be described as a crossover, or even a sporty hatchback. Audi South Africa don’t view this car as having a direct competitor and it’s easy to see why. Over the course of the launch, it started to become clear what this car is and the type of person it is aimed at.

The Audi Q2 has a very youthful feel about it, it’s hip, funky, extremely stylish and very “out there”- you could say.  This car is not aimed at the type of person who would buy a Q3 or Tiguan for example, those cars, although great, come across as vehicles suited for a small family, but more notably, they are not particularly exciting either.

Enquire about a new or used Audi vehicle at Audi Centurion here!

The Q2 is aimed at the younger market, an audience in their twenties who are designers, creators and are starting out in the business world – these are the kind of people who I envision would be interested in being untaggable, or at least sitting in it on the daily commute.  The interesting thing about the Q2 is that it is very similarly priced to the bigger Q3, but appeals to a totally different audience. So in effect, the Q2 is not a lesser car, (albeit a little smaller) when compared with the Q3, it just has a different purpose.

Styling

The Q2 is nothing like you have seen before, it has edgy design and sharp features. Prominent design features which you will notice are the concaving lines along the side – a unique feature to the Q2 which gives it a different look to anything you will currently find on the road. An Edition #1 version of the Audi Q2 is due for release later this year, this model will feature a unique Quantum Grey Colour, which looks very similar to Nardo Grey, with a little bit of sparkle.

The Q2 is the first of new Audi models to feature this design style, and we can expect future models to follow a similar pattern. Audi have a big 2018 planned with a host of new and updated models, including the Q8.

Step inside the new Audi Q2 and it will feel very similar to the interior of the Audi A3 and other Audi models, there is nothing that would strike you as new or majorly different – it looks and feels very Audi-ish with a clean design and classy feel. The optional sports seats are a nice option to have and were comfortable, they also filled the cabin nicely and added to its visual appearance.

The Audi Q2 will also be available with Pilot Assist, which is the fully digital dash display which allows different views for Car Information, Music and Navigation. This is paired with the 12” TFT screen on the Dashboard. For the record, the Pilot Assist is one of my personal favourites. The Q2 is the only vehicle in its segment to offer a TFT binnacle and it’s an option I’d certainly tick.

The interior is let down slightly by the door cards, They look and feel a little cheap as the lower portions are covered in hard, black plastic. It would have been nice to feature some Alcantara or leather like other areas of the interior. I do understand the reasons behind it though, cost being one of them.

In terms of space, the rear seating area was limited in this regard so if you are tall, unlike me, you may find it quite cramped. The boot space is adequate though with 405-litres on offer, which expands to 1050-litres with the rear seats folded.

How Does It Drive?

The Q2’s we had for the day featured Audi’s 1.4 TFSI engine, which produces 110kw and 250Nm. This is a proven engine in other cars, such as the A3 and it performed as expected. Power delivery is smooth through both the 7-Speed S-Tronic Automatic and the 6-Speed manual transmissions. I did feel that it lacked torque at low RPM, especially in second gear, which was something that I also noticed on the 1.0L variant. This could also have something to do with the COD (Cylinder On Demand) technology which is built into the 1.4 Engine. This feature disables Cylinders two and three at loads of up to 100Nm from 1400rpm with the S-Tronic, and from 2000rpm with the manual variant.

The Chassis and the suspension is where everything comes together and the Audi Q2 really impresses, because it has a high design, one may think that handling would not be one of the car’s best assets.

The Q2 was rigid and as we drove along the bumpy Bainskloof Pass, the car did not feel unsettled with the suspension absorbing the rough surface, even under braking and sharp bends, the Q2 performed well. It has a sharp and accurate turn-in and a very neutral feel, only getting out of shape and providing just a little understeer on one heated occasion. You can enter a corner at speed and trust that the little Q2 will handle it well.

The 110kW produced by the 1.4 TFSI coupled with the great handling and chassis of the Q2 makes for a fun car, which suits its overall persona down to the ground. A young buyer will not have to be worried about getting bored with the Audi Q2.

Driver Assists

Audi have given the Q2 some of their driver assist packages as optional extras. The first of these is Pre Sense which uses a front radar system to detect hazardous situations with other vehicles and pedestrians and will apply braking if necessary. Park Assist is also available, which does a little bit more than the name suggests and will basically park your Audi Q2 for you. Further to this, Cross Traffic Rear Assist helps when reversing from parking spaces, by sensing other cars which could potentially cross your path. Audi also offer Side Assist and Adaptive cruise control on the Q2 to finalize the driver assist packages.

Powertrains

The Q2 is currently only available as the 1.4 TFSI variant. The 1.0 TFSI and 2.0TDi will be available from May, producing 85kW and 200Nm and 105kW and 350Nm respectively. Unfortunately, a Quattro option will be not available in South Africa due to market placement and cost of the vehicle, however it will be available overseas.

Price

Here is where things get interesting, with a starting price of R434 500 for the 1.0L base model and rising to R565 000 for the 2.0 TDI model, the Q2 is not a cheap car. Yet, it is aimed at a young market.

Audi plan to solve this issue with attractive finance offers and a special guarantee buy-back specifically for the Q2. Audi have done their research and I am positive that the Q2 will work for them. The price is a big drawback for the younger market, especially with a well- specced vehicle. However, Audi do feel confident that it should not be too much of an issue – only time will tell.

  • Audi Q2 1.0T FSI manual: R 434,500
  • Audi Q2 1.0T FSI S tronic: R 453,000
  • Audi Q2 1.0T FSI Sport manual: R 464,500
  • Audi Q2 1.0T FSI Sport S tronic: R 483,000
  • Audi Q2 1.4T FSI Sport manual: R 511,000
  • Audi Q2 1.4T FSI Sport S tronic: R 529,500
  • Audi Q2 2.0 TDI Sport S tronic: R 565,000

Enquire about a new or used Audi vehicle at Audi Centurion here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The young executive: Mercedes-Benz CLA 200

I must confess, the CLA is not my favourite Mercedes-Benz. I always found it to be oddly shaped and awkward – it looks like the uglier younger brother of the CLS. That being said, my opinion of the car changed after driving the face-lifted CLA 200, a car that I thought I would’ve hated. See, most of our interactions with Mercedes’ products have been with their hardcore Mercedes-AMG range. The likes of the A45, GTS and C63 are a lot to take in. The C63 was the best when it came to living with the car, but the others were just unpleasant from a daily driving perspective. So getting the “bottom of the range” CLA was a welcome idea and when it arrived – it looked much better in appearance than I expected. It had the optional AMG Line fitted to it, making it very sporty looking. The larger bumpers with red accents on the front and rear give the illusion of something much sportier than the 1.6 litre Turbocharged engine up front.

The interior of this specific car was also quite lovely. A combination of leather and cloth on the sport seats looked great and the overall cabin was a nice place to be. Being in this business of reviewing cars can make you feel rather numb as you hop in and out of various machines each week. When you drive a car that makes you feel good, you tend to remember it and funnily enough, the CLA made me feel this way. See, I’m a young person that lives in the North of Johannesburg, a part of town that measures status as a very important thing. In the week of me driving the CLA, I noticed that others’ perception of me was different to when I drive other cars.

Stepping out of a sporty looking Mercedes-Benz aimed at young people gives you a good feeling, as though you’ve achieved something others haven’t. That’s the thing about cars like the “ordinary young folks’ Mercs”. The A and CLA Classes are cars for young executives. If you drive the AMG variants of these cars, it’s not the same because the price tag of those cars often creates debate in the car world. If I drive a CLA 45, people would ask why I didn’t buy an RS3 Audi for instance, or even a used BMW M4. But if a drive a CLA 200 that looks great, people respect the fact that I chose to spend my R475 000 on this car with less debate. It’s strange.

For somebody who isn’t a performance freak or even a car enthusiast but still wants the feeling of exclusivity, cars like the CLA 200 make perfect sense. Even more sense than an A Class because it offers more practical value. The little engine is also quite punchy with 115kW and 250Nm. Although the AMG Line makes things firmer, the ride quality was not too compromised, but ever so slightly sportier. Considering all these things, my mental checklist started ticking things off. Does it look good? Yes. Does it have enough space for a little one? Yes. Does it say I’m successful? Yes. Lastly, is it affordable? Kind of. Well if you’re that young executive and you’ve got a good job, you’ll most likely be looking at cars within the R500 000 mark, so if that’s the case then, yes.

It was refreshing driving a regular Mercedes-Benz. The brand has come a long way to create products that appeal to a younger market. This is a tricky market that Mercedes has been able to appeal to in terms of status. Many things aside, the most important thing most young people wonder about driving a specific car is “what does it say about me?” In the case of the updated CLA range, it can make people say, “That person is doing well for themselves”. As vain as this sounds, we live in a vanity driven society and if that’s what the Mercedes-Benz brand appeals to, they’ve got a winning product.

Ferrari’s stubbornness strikes again: 812 Superfast.

Ferrari’s stubbornness strikes again: 812 Superfast

The trend of downsizing may be slowing down but it’s still something most manufacturers are doing when developing a new car. Not Ferrari though, specifically when it comes to their V12 engine. The Ferrari V12 is something special to most petrolheads and it’s great to see that it won’t be dying anytime soon. Think of cars like 575 M and the F12 TDF, would you want that sound to be no longer? Of course not. Well then you’ll be happy to know that the 812 Superfast is going to be revealed soon at the Geneva Motor Show.  This car uses a 588kW (800hp) and 718Nm 6.5 litre V12 to power the Berlinetta. It is as Ferrari puts it “the new benchmark in the mid-front-engined sports car segment”.

So it’s fast as you can expect, with the name Superfast you can’t really expect anything less. The Superfast uses Variable Geometry Intakes which if it uses a similar setup to the LaFerrari, means it uses a single tube per cylinder bank that can change its length depending on engine speed. This gives the car the choice to use a longer intake manifold under load and a shorter intake at higher rpm. You still with us? If not it means the car gets the right amount of air at the right time, making it superfast all the time. See what we did there?

Other cool features in the 812 Superfast are Side Slip Control, which allows you to drift without crashing. The Virtual Short Wheelbase system also makes the car more nimble and the Superfast makes use of Electric Power Steering. Oh, and it also uses a double clutch gearbox to make sure that all those horses don’t get wasted. So much so it does a 0-100km/h in a time of 2.9 seconds, not bad for a car that’s not extremely lightweight.

The most controversial aspect of this Superfast is the looks – some have mentioned how it has a bit of Corvette in it. We get where they’re coming from because if you squint your eyes, you can see it. Knowing the folks at Fezza, they’ll probably say the Corvette was inspired by the 812. Anyways, all that matters is that the Ferrari V12 still lives and if Ferrari can have it their way, it will probably live on for as long as possible. Yay for more cylinders!

 

A Seven Year Project: Pagani Huayra Roadster

Give Horacio Pagani a wand and a robe and one could be forgiven for thinking that he is in fact a magical professor – what with his curvaceous silver locks and chiselled visage, he really does fit the role of Snape’s vertically challenged brother. However, with the unveiling of the Huayra Roadster, I am starting to question his muggleness more than ever…

Nothing could have quite prepared anybody for the sheer pornography that is the Huayra Roadster – from its squared off face to swishy bits above the taillights, it is a completely different box of frogs to the Huayra Coupe and that wasn’t exactly a Gremlin either.

Horacio himself recently described this project as having been the most difficult they have ever worked on, a statement which makes complete sense once you delve into what went into this work of art.

The project began in 2010 with the simple idea of creating a Huayra without a roof. Three years later, all the design work was scrapped and they began from scratch with the goal of creating a vehicle lighter than the Coupe still in mind.

Power comes from the M158 Twin Turbo V12 from Mercedes-AMG, built especially for Pagani and producing an immense 592 kW and over 1000 N.m from its 6.0-litres. All that torque is available, too, from just 2 400 RPM. This allows the Roadster to sprint to 100 km/h in under 3 seconds, obviously a relevant figure…

This power is fed through a new single-clutch automated manual transmission developed for the Huayra BC and while not as immediate as its double-clutch counterparts, its lightweight construction offsets the slower shift time allowing a better power-to-weight ratio than if a double-clutch unit were to be used. The gearbox is also mounted transversely which reduces the polar inertia of the vehicle, just in case you were wondering.

Most impressive, however, is that the Roadster is some 25% lighter than the Coupe, yet 50% more rigid. A feat like this is almost unheard of in the automotive sphere, especially when one considers just how wiggly a car becomes when its roof is removed.

Other highlights include special Pirelli tyres with Horacio’s initials on them (how ostentatious) new carbon-ceramic brakes, a new ESP system and two roofs – one a glass and carbon-fibre jobby which only fits into one orifice in the vehicle – the one above your head – and the other a tent which can quickly be erected in the event of sudden moisture.

Only 100 will be made and they have all been sold for a ridiculous outlay of $2.8 million Dollars.  I now urge you to zoom into these images and ogle at the attention to detail that has gone into this vehicle.

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A New Level Of Luxury: The Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman

As you may know, Mercedes and Maybach has re-joined forces to create cars of extreme luxury and customisation for a special type of customer. Over the past year they have released some exquisite vehicles. Earlier this week, Mercedes-Maybach released the G 650 Landaulet, which you can read about here, and now another model has arrived.

I would like to introduce to you the Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman, a longer limousine styled S-Class. The Pullman is not a new vehicle, it has been around for 90 years but of recent times, had disappeared until now.

The Pullman is a very long vehicle. At 6.5 metres it is 125cm longer than the S-Class long wheel base, 105cm longer than a Mercedes-Maybach S600 and is 41cm longer than a Rolls Royce Phantom LWB. This is a car doused in luxury. Many features on this car would be an optional extra on a standard S-Class, but not with the Pullman. For instance, it provides features such as the PartitionWall with Electrochromatic glass, the refrigerated compartment and the centre console featuring four champagne flutes.

Power closing doors are also standard, along with power curtains, a Burmester 3D surround sound system and the panoramic roof with sky control, once again Electrochromatic. The occupants can choose to have the glass transparent or blue. Further to this and as expected, is a full rear entertainment system featuring an 18.5 inch power retracting flat screen. And if it’s not all play and you need to do business during your travels in the Pullman, stow away tables are also included.

The Pullman can also seat four occupants in the rear with two electronic controlled seats becoming available in a conference type rear facing fashion. When these are not needed, they can be electronically reclined to provide even more space.


 Customisation

With almost everything you could image in a luxury car as standard, what is optional? Well for one, you can change the wheels, for £10 000. But that is just scratching the surface, you can request your Mercedes-Maybach Pullman in any exterior colour you like.  For example, you can have the colour of your Maybach to match your spouses eyes, if you wish. Not bad for £5k. On the inside, Mercedes-Maybach do offer a range of different and more expensive leathers, but they also state that virtually any other leather or colour is available.

Your personal family crest or initials are also available to have stitched or embossed into the seats, or other areas by luxury craftsman. Mercedes state that with this vehicle, anything the customer requires they can have, such as an additional fridge, a walk through centre console or even lambskin floor mats.


The Mercedes-Maybach Pullman is clearly an ultra luxury vehicle for a very select person. It reminds me of how we don’t just have super cars now, we have hyper cars. The Pullman is a hyper luxury car and Rolls Royce should be worried.

How’s it’s made?

To order a Pullman, you first need to order a Mercedes-Maybach S600. This is the donor car, many parts such as the engine and other interior components are used. Mercedes don’t state exactly how it is done, but they do say that it’s not cut in half and stretched, but built on an individual platform.

Power train and Performance

The Pullman uses the V12 Twin Turbo, producing 390kw or 530bhp. This is a lower output then other Mercedes vehicles that use the same engine and is probably for safety, due to the size of the vehicle. Torque is also down at 830Nm,but still quite plenty. The Pullman weighs in at just over 3 tonnes, but will still do 0-100km/h in around 6.5 seconds, delivered though an automatic 7G gearbox.

Price

If your wondering if you can stretch the budget this year, here is the price. £522,000. Yes that is in English pounds. So with today’s exchange rate of R16.5, that puts this car at over R8 million. Yikes.

 

Fiat 500 0.9 TwinAir Pop Star

I have spoken about cult cars before and how they somehow manage to attract both car-nuts and car-nots. There is one car, though, that I feel manages to attract more car-nots than car-nuts – the Fiat 500. In 2007, Fiat decided to go the same route as BMW with the MINI brand and Volkswagen with the New Beetle. They reinvented a vehicle which was incredibly popular back in the day, but with modern engineering and, don’t vomit, “retro” styling. I hate that term, but that’s exactly what it is.

As you can imagine, the 500 was an instant hit and while it may have taken South Africans a moment to warm to the little newcomer, the rest of the world went bananas for it. Barring the Americans, of course. While it never really appealed to those of us who enjoy driving briskly, the trendy and fashion conscious set loved how adept the 500 was at karting their quinoa salad take-away home from Tashas.

The 500 recently underwent a not too insignificant revision and goodness has it transformed the 500. I was never the biggest fan of the pre-facelift’s asthmatic motors and while the 1.4 litre NA motor’s 74 kW might sound okay, the 131 N.m offered was not. I adored the concept of the 500 but always felt that there were a few shortcomings.

Enter the refreshed Fiat 500, now available with 2-cylinder sewing machine engine (not really) and a little turbocharger. The Pop Star model we had on test offers 63 kW and 145 N.m which is in fact less power than the previous 1.4 litre naturally aspirated motor and only 14Nm more torque, but said torque is now available from just 1 900 rpm as opposed the previous motor’s lofty delivery close to the 6 000 rpm redline. The higher-spec Lounge model has the same motor, albeit in a higher state of tune with 78 kW. This punchy motor, displacing a mere 900c, makes easy work of running around town and if you’re not too heavy footed, Fiat claim a combined average fuel consumption of just 3.8 l/100km which is impressive. Of course we didn’t achieve anything close to that figure which we put down to the fact that you still have to boot it a little to get moving, hence our average of 7.0 l/100km. A 1.3 litre turbo diesel motor is also expected to join the line-up at some stage.

Aside from the brilliantly characterful motor, the minor styling upgrades have done a world of good for the Cinquecento – it’s adorable. LED daytime running lights have now been incorporated into the smaller set of headlights which are actually the high beams and minor tweaks to the rear as well as an array of new colours and wheel options come together to create a rather endearing little thing.

Inside, the air vents have been redesigned and things have been moved around a little to incorporate FCA group’s all too familiar Uconnect infotainment system. It works just as well as the one found in Ferraris and Jeeps and should you go for the Lounge model with its 7” TFT instrument cluster, you’ll have quite the techy looking 500. Sound deadening materials have also been increased to minimise cabin noise and here too, different trim options can be had to best suit the trendy human who would buy this sort of car.

Prices start at a not too heady R179 900 for the Pop model and work their way up incrementally to R280 900 for the 500C 0.9 TwinAir Lounge Auto. I reckon the 500 TwinAir Pop Star is the sweet spot in the range with nice to haves such as xenon headlights and PDC should you be unable to confidently manoeuvre your 3cm long vehicle. All models come with a 3 year/100 000 km warranty and service plan.

A better looking seven seater: Honda’s BRV.

Why is it that people carriers are always terrible looking? Besides Uber drivers, suburban parents will find these cars quite appealing, so it’s important for these cars to have some sort of an aesthetic appeal. I’m sure those parents don’t want to be mistaken for taxi drivers after their kids have been dropped off? Take for instance the Toyota Avanza, it’s bland and brown. The Suzuki Ertiga is not as bland, but also brown…most of the time.  What are your other choices? Well,  Honda have recently replaced the Mobilio with the new BRV and we had it for a week to see if it’s any good. Here’s what we concluded.

It’s practical:

If you happen to not believe in birth control, this is the car for you. You can fit seven people inside with some boot space leftover. If you need the boot expanded, you can drop the third bench and add more groceries, or bags, or whatever people with large families carry around. Besides offering vast amounts of space, the BRV offers one of the most modern cabins in its segment. The Elegance model we drove featured leather seats, an infotainment system and a manual gearbox. Power is supplied by a 1.5 litre normally aspirated engine which pulled the big car with ease. It’s not fast but nor is it “I can’t go up this hill” slow.

Design:

The BRV doesn’t have the dimensions of a taxi, thank goodness. It’s long and quite high. It looks like a station wagon with a raised ride height. Compared to its rivals, it also looks the most modern of the lot and for the first time, the car we had on test was not brown. So it seems like there is some sort of hope for this segment aesthetically. Don’t get me wrong, the BRV is not the car young petrol-heads will have on their wall, but it may be on the mental wall of those looking for a large car at a good price.

It’s economical:

Every new Honda we’ve driven with a 1.5 litre engine seems to not like fuel. This is good because we don’t like spending money on fuel. The BRV has a combined fuel consumption of 6.2litres/100km. These figures are very seldom on the money with most cars but we can report that with daily driving around town as well as some longer trips, the BRV never bothered us for extra fuel. In fact, we returned the car with a decent amount of fuel for the people of Honda to return to their offices with and even stop by Pretoria if needed be.

It’s comfortable:

No the Honda BRV doesn’t have amazing steering feel, nor does it turn into corners in a phenomenal way, that’s because it’s not meant to. It’s a car meant to carry people in comfort, which it does. Commuting in the BRV gives you a quiet ride and a suspension that soaks up bumps and suburban humps, that’s all that matters. For those keen on the occasional family trip you’ll be able to do so with ease. Simply pair your phone and sing along to your streamed tunes.

 Overall:  

The BRV is a car that makes sense for those needing more space. It ticks many boxes and as a result, we think it’s a good car indeed. It may not have a strong visual appeal, but last we checked visual appeal wasn’t needed to drop the kids off at school, store more luggage and fit extra human beings. Practicality does all that, for that purpose the BRV works very well. At a starting price of R238 900, that’s a lot you’re getting for a good price.

 

 

If you don’t know what to do with your money, we have just the car for you.

If you don’t know what to do with your money, we have just the car for you.

Mercedes-Maybach is the brand of choice when you want something utterly lavish. If it’s not limousines they’re supplying then its drop top G-Classes. What!? Yes, you read correctly. If you have enough money you can get a drop top G Class! If the current G-Class range was not braggadocios enough with its exhausts on the side, you can now get it without a roof. What a time to be alive.  This is the first Mercedes-Maybach SUV to be created and what a way to make an entrance.

Being the owner of a car like this means you’ll have something super exclusive as only 99 of these models will be made. The name of this convertible G Class is the G650 Landaulet, which means “a car with a folding hood over the rear seats.” The G650 is powered by a V12 engine so you can only imagine the kind of power this tank will have. If you really want to know you’ll have 463kW (620bhp) and 1000Nm at your disposal. Not too shabby huh?

This car only seats four, so you’ll have to pick your friends wisely. Those you choose to ride with you will want to sit in the back as the Landaulet has S-Class seats in the rear. If your occupants are thirsty, they can use the individual cup holders which can either cool or heat a drink up. How insane? But wait there’s more, the rear seats also have their own table and a business console which has controls for you to operate the glass partition that can separate the rear of the car and front. Last but not least there are two monitors in the rear and a feature called the G Cockpit which operates various features like the soft top mechanism.

This is not the first Landaulet created by Mercedes as they have been other types of this car in the past. One thing is for sure, there hasn’t been one with this kind of glamour in it. The funny thing about this car is that it can still off road like any other G-Class, you’ll simply be more stylish as you do it a G650 Landaulet. With 450mm of ground clearance you’ll be able to look down on the peasants in their cheap 4×4’s as you drinks are kept cold and your V12 sings your praises. Oh, how we wish we owned a mine or something that will give us many millions. Even if we did, as South Africans the G650 will not be available here. No worries then, we would park it in our Monaco home.

Updated Mazda BT-50

Mazda’s goal when they first introduced the BT-50 was to supply with South Africa with a lifestyle vehicle, which would appeal to business users but also a wider range of customers, those such as families and adventurers.

This is where the Bakkie market has changed over recent years, they are not only designed with the primary function of a workhorse vehicle. Bakkies today are more stylish, with more features and technology to appeal to a wider audience, the surfers, climbers, hikers of this world Or the camping family who ventures off to various places of our beautiful country.

In light of this,  Mazda has released the updated BT-50, and it’s aimed at the recreational type of buyer.

Exterior

As with most updated vehicles, the updated BT-50 has a sportier look and feel, the major changes to the Mazda include the front end, side steps, rear lights and 17” Aluminium wheels.

Personally, I’m not yet a big fan of the rear end, and we all know how important that this. My biggest grind is with the rear lights, I do not like the design and style, but maybe it will grow on me.

Interior

Technology is the biggest change here with the BT-50, on the base SLX Model options such as Bluetooth, steering wheel controls and cruise control has been added.  The SLE Models have even greater technology enhancements with options such as a rear-view camera, auto dimming mirror, electric seat adjustment, dual zone aircon, auto headlights, rain sensing wipers and parking sensors added to the standard list. The top of the range SLE models adds features such as Load Adaptive Control, Hill Launch, Decent Control, Trailer Sway and Rollover Mitigation.

Drivetrain 

The 2.2l Mazda engines in this range produce 110KW (147BHP) and 375Nm of Torque. If this is not enough, you can opt for the 3.2L engine with provides 147kw (196BHP) and 470Nm of torque.

Models

All models come with  3-year unlimited KM warranty, 3 – year service plan and 3-year roadside assistance.

BT-50 DBL 2.2L 6MT 4X2 HR SLX 441,600

BT-50 DBL 2.2L 6MT 4X2 HR SLE 477,700

BT-50 DBL 2.2L 6AT 4X2 HR SLE 497,700

BT-50 DBL 3.2L 6MT 4X4 HR SLE 541,700

BT-50 DBL 3.2L 6AT 4X4 HR SLE  555,700

For a full spec list, visit here:  http://www.mazda.co.za/cars/mazda-bt50-facelift/

South Africa, give the VW Passat a chance.

I first drove the new Volkswagen Passat in 2016, the model I drove was the 1.4 TSI and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with that vehicle. Although I do remember saying that when the 2.0 TDI comes, it will probably take the Passat up another notch. I was correct.

For me, the Passat has two purposes, it’s a family car but also a highway machine. It’s built for laying down kilometres and not missing a beat. A person will look at purchasing a Passat for one of these reasons, or both.

For the family orientated buyer, the Passat is not a bad choice at all. It offers lot’s of space, modern technology, good safety and even a built in child seats in the rear. The downside is that the Passat starts at R468,200 for the petrol variant and R493,000 for the diesel model. These prices maybe out of reach for the normal South African family.

For the sales rep or businessman who uses the roads often and driving as a pivotal part of his work, the Passat is a great fit. In my home country, the Passats are extremely popular cars, mainly driven by people working for large corporations, driving my kilometres up and down the country on a daily basis.

The diesel model I drove recently, fits well into this category. With the R-line package, the Passat is striking, it has a sharp design and just oozes a professional feel.  The interior of the Passat follows suit with a clean design and good technology, such as the App Connect system and Park Assist.

How does it Drive?                

I always forget how a Passat feels until I get back the wheel of one. It feels different from other vehicles in it’s segment. It’s softer and lighter on its feet. For example, even applying the brakes is a smooth process, the same goes for its acceleration, it’s very linear. It feels refined and cautious on the road, it wasn’t designed to be driven very fast, it was designed to be driven for long periods of time. That being said, the car is very driver comfort focused and the overall feeling is one that relaxes you.

The best place then to test the VW Passat is on the open road, and that’s what I did. We had meetings for a few days in Johannesburg, so instead of flying I drove the Passat. Having experienced all the technology offered in these cars, I noticed that there were two optional extras the Passat I drove lacked. This was the Active Driver Display which gives you a digital dashboard and secondly, Adaptive Cruise Control.

The digital dashboard provides a more visual element and makes it easier to see and control certain vehicle data or elements. This means less time fiddling with the steering wheel controls, something that is important during a long drive.

The second option, Adaptive cruise control is a feature that I used on the new Tiguan and loved it. Driving to Jozi from Durban isn’t a bad drive, but over the many times I’ve done it, I find it hard to use the standard cruise control, something this Passat had.  There are lots of trucks, hills, fast cars, slow cars, speed cameras, etc. All these factors mean that cars are forever overtaking,  slowing down, speeding up and pulling out. This makes the drive frustrating because you can be on the brakes quite a bit, which deactivates the cruise control. When all is clear, you need to reactivate it again and if you hit the wrong button, it will set it to the speed that you are currently travelling, not the speed you want to be travelling. So most of the time it’s just easier to not use it at all. This is not just the standard Passat system that has this problem, these things would happen with any standard cruise control system. This is why I much prefer to have the Adaptive Cruise Control as it assists when all these factors come into play. It too is not a perfect system just yet, but it works damn well.

In terms of fuel economy, this car sips, something most people will buy the diesel version for. VW claim a combined cycle of 5 litres/100km. After arriving in JHB and driving around the city for a few days, when I returned to Durban, I got had average of 5.4 litres/100km. Pretty good if you ask me.  The 2.0 TDI performed well and it boasts 130kW/350Nm, which is more than enough for what this car was purposed is.

 

 

Just give the Passat a chance.

For such a great car, it doesn’t sell as well as it could, and you don’t see too many on the roads locally. In South Africa, we love our brands, especially when it comes to cars. When the Passat’s rivals are vehicles like the BMW 3 series, Mercedes C-Class and Even the Audi A4, you know it’s in for a hard time. The thing is, the VW Passat does quite a lot of things better than the cars mentioned above, for a cheaper price at that.

More motorists should give the Passat a chance, forget about how your friends will look at you, or what your side-chick will think. It’s a great option and will benefit your wallet too. Honestly I think it even looks better than some of it’s rivals. It’s not up to me though, it’s your money. The old car was certainly more grandfather-like in appeal, but with this new one, grandad is dead and his much cooler son has taken over.