Month: April 2018

Tiguan Allspace – Because we all need more “space”

Tiguan Allspace South Africa

Who needs more space? We live in a world where we need larger “clouds”, more memory on our phones, a bigger Netflix library and for photographers, an endless amount of hard drives. In short, more space is always more welcomed.

We embarked on a drive from Durban to Karkloof Spa in the Natal Midlands in a vehicle which offers more of exactly that, space. Befittingly named, the new Tiguan Allspace won’t help if your 256 GB IPhone X has run out of memory, but if you always find yourself with one bag (or person) too many on a family road trip, it will probably come in handy.

VW Tiguan Allspace

So what is the Tiguan Allspace? Volkswagen used the wonderful base that is the standard Tiguan and simply made it 215mm longer. While there are ever-so-slight design changes, the overall look and feel is pretty much identical to the normal wheelbase Tiguan which most seemed to love.  While 215mm might not sound like much, it equates to an increase in boot space volume of 115-litres which provides much more storage space, or two seats – the Tiguan Allspace gives you the option to choose.

While the Allspace is 7-seater vehicle, anyone that resembles a teenager or adult will really struggle to fit. The rear seats are much more suited for younger children and while you may feel like this really narrows down the uses, there are many scenarios in which they will come in handy. When not in use the third row of seats fold completely flat and I feel this is a setup which many will enjoy – giving you spacious seating for five occupants and plenty of boot space.

As with the normal wheelbase Tiguan, the Allspace is lovely to drive with my favourite model being the Highline variant, as it is paired with a 2.0-litre 162kW petrol engine and VW’s world famous DSG gearbox. The vehicle is practical, but the powertrain offers the element of fun we all enjoy and sometimes crave. The 110kW diesel variant also on offer was really was impressive to drive. Smooth, quiet and “torquey” are all great words to describe this option – whilst also being a cracker on fuel. I however spent much more time with the new 132kW petrol option now available in the Allspace Comfortline, as we had a short but fiery love affair down the South Coast of Durban.  While shy on power when compared with the Highline, the performance on offer is plenty for most situations and is a really cool option for those a little more conscious of price and fuel economy.  There is also fourth option – a 110Kw 1.4 petrol which falls into the Trendline model. LED daytime running lights, the Lights and Visibility Package, Front Underbody Protection, chrome trapezoidal panels around the tailpipes and privacy glass, come as standard on the normal wheelbase Tiguan.

If I can sup up the Tiguan Allspace up in just a few words, it would be “Beautifully Practical”. It offers the vibe, looks and personality that the normal Tiguan offers, but just with more space. Honestly, I can’t see a reason why I would choose a standard Tiguan over the Allspace, as the extra space makes a big difference. While the only compromise would really be a slightly higher price if you opt for the Allspace, in the long term, I think it’s worth it.

Tiguan Allspace

Karkloof really put the Tiguan Allspace into perspective for me. Driving through amazing landscapes with your family or friends is what this car is about. Going further, more comfortably with the people that mean the most. While I would love to own a Tiguan,  the only reason I could justify purchasing one now is if I started a family…I will chat to my wife tonight.

Is Haval the next Chinese automotive renaissance?

Haval H2

Haval is proving many sceptics wrong

Stigmas are a difficult thing to shake off, especially in the South African car market. Take for instance French cars. People still feel that the likes of Renault battle to source parts and owners will wait for months for a headlight. This however, is not the case. In fact, the turnaround times for these parts are on par with most major brands in SA. Which brings me to my next point, Haval – GWM’s luxury SUV arm. Generally speaking, GWM doesn’t have the most impressive appeal in our country. People automatically associate Chinese cars with low-quality products and as much as this may have been the case in the past with other Chinese brands, Haval has proved many sceptics wrong. Honestly, I was one of those sceptics. Locally, cars are more than mere objects of transportation – they’re symbols of who we are, what we represent etc. As a result, many South African’s have grown up believing that if you want reliability, you buy a Toyota. If you want agility, you buy a BMW and if you want class, you guessed it – Mercedes-Benz is your best bet. Things change. Once upon a time, KIA and Hyundai were foreign brands in SA, with sceptics weary of these Korean brands. Look at them know. Rio’s, Tucson’s, and Picanto’s are usual sights on our roads.

New beginnings:

The Haval brand is only 16 years old, making it quite new as the brands it competes with have been around for much longer. In China, the brand has done exceedingly well, to the point of being called China’s no.1 SUV brand. The model we were given to drive was the H2, a mid-sized SUV powered by a 1.5-litre turbo engine – giving you the option of a manual and double clutch gearbox. Our car had the latter gearbox, one that worked very well. First impressions? Before even starting the vehicle, opening and closing the doors gives you a solid thud, a sound akin to a well-built vehicle. Sitting inside is the car feels somewhat familiar. It’s the familiarity you get from other quality vehicles in this segment. Space wise, you and your family will be sorted, as the interior is spacious and the luggage space is decent too. There are no jarring plastics that make you cringe and most of all, no cheap plastic smell that is apparent in other popular cars in this segment. This vehicle even had leather seats. So far so good.

Looking at the H2 is a pleasant thing to do. The vehicle possesses American style SUV attributes, especially with its GMC styled front end. Passers-by were just as intrigued by the vehicle, as it doesn’t look like many of the SUV’s you see on local roads.

Infotainment and technology is a big thing in almost every vehicle segment, so you’d expect that a vehicle marketed as a premium product would come with a few creature comforts. Again, the H2 impressed with keyless entry, reverse camera, a touch screen radio, folding mirrors and “Push-To-Start” functionality. The touchscreen system works well and is responsive enough to not frustrate you. Bright blue may not be everyone’s favourite hue, but it’s definitely liveable. Thankfully, pairing the Bluetooth system does not require a degree – something that puts me off certain systems.

Haval H2

Driving impressions:  

105kW/220N.m is a conservative output considering the size of the car. That being said, the 1.5-litre performed well under various loads. Turbo is apparent, but after the torque kicks in, it maintains the surge well enough to get you through the city comfortably. Speaking of comfort, the ride quality in the Haval is another winning attribute this vehicle possesses. Damping is soft, cushioning well known bumpy roads in Johannesburg. Dynamically, the vehicle doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall apart when driven briskly – even though it’s not a car meant to be driven hard. The reality is, one day when you’re in a rush, it’s good to know that your car can handle a fast corner or two. During a week’s test, I managed to not use all the fuel provided in the vehicle (full tank on delivery). The vehicle can be driven in an “Economic” mode but I preferred driving it in “Standard” mode, which felt less sluggish.

Overall:

After a week spent in the Haval H2, I can say I’m part of the converted. We all love a good underdog story and the Haval is one that has the potential to have a very good outcome. It’s up against much public scrutiny in this country, but it proves itself and even outshines other vehicles it competes with. Change is good and by the looks of it, it’s coming. It may not be overnight, but if the brand markets itself correctly and focuses on specific target audiences, they have the chance of being the next Kia and Hyundai. If a Chinese automotive renaissance its coming in SA, Haval will be leading it.

Haval H2 Pricing in South Africa

Haval H2 City Manual: R249,900

Havel H2 Luxury Manual: R274,900

Haval H2 City Auto: R284,900

Haval H2 Luxury Auto: R309,900

New BMW M5 driven – Bigger, faster, better?

New BMW M5 Driven

The definition of a purist according to the trusty internet is someone who, “insists on absolute adherence to traditional rules or structures, especially in language or style”. That would best describe most BMW aficionados to the letter. It is for this reason why there was a huge outcry from BMW fans when the brand first decided to turbocharge M products. Over time, the anger subsided and the die-hard fans soon saw the benefit of the new direction that BMW took.

 

A resurgence of this panic ensued recently, when the configuration of the new BMW was announced. Not only would it carry on with a forced induction motor, but now – it would be the first thoroughbred M saloon car to have all-wheel drive (The M760li is not an M Performance vehicle). Did the public miss something? Did we wake up in a strange alternative universe straight out of Black Mirror? No. And for good reason.

BMW M5 Generations

You see, for you to understand this new thought process you would have to go back to the previous generation BMW M5, the F10. Having had the privilege of driving one every day for some time in the past, this M car was one that demanded great respect. The relationship between your right foot and the accelerator pedal was normally where the tension brewed. One a cold day, with the rubber at odds with broken tarmac on our infamous roads, the vehicle would snap into oversteer or simply bog down with the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) intervening and stopping that tree from humbling the often over-eager driver. But catch the vehicle on a warm day, with the right amount of tyre tread and the M5 would come into its own. It would gladly come along for the school run, and then change into Mr Hyde whilst leaving 295 section black lines at will – often accompanied with a trailing sports car in its cloud of smoke. It was a weapon, but a weapon that needed all the checks and balances in place, for you to get the best out of it. One of those checks was a huge bravery pill as the mass of an M5 and the power it produced could easily become a handful for most. It was a matter of time then, when the limit of power that could be sent to the rear axle, would reach its limit for a car such as this. Many would agree that the limit was reached with the F10 and its last iterations, such as the Competition Package. I’m sure the Audi guys sent out their “we told you so” emails to both Mercedes and BMW when they decided to go the all-wheel drive route.

Enter the F90 M5 with M xDrive. Kyalami raceway made for the perfect backdrop for the new M5’s local introduction. Cars like these often don’t need much of a press briefing as journalists have read up on all the specifications way before the time of launch. From an engine technology perspective, the revisions are just that, revisions. Even aesthetically, the F90 is not a major departure from the F10. The new car has followed in the footsteps of its predecessor of being a silent bruiser. The quad tailpipes, three-piece front air dam, rear spoiler and more pronounced wheel arches are tasteful, but discreet signs that you are not about to get behind the wheel of a regular 5 series with M sport package. Power driving this new M5 is the tried and tested 4.4l twin turbo V8 – this time producing 441kW/750N.m.  Mated to this motor is a ZF 8 Speed single clutch gearbox. Having experienced this configuration on the current X5/6M, you would be hard pressed to tell that this wasn’t a double clutch gearbox.

We went out on the first sighting laps just to get the various temperatures up and make sure that there weren’t any nasty surprises on Kyalami’s pristine asphalt. Warm up laps done with, Sport Plus was engaged – sharpening throttle response, dampers as well as steering feedback. Letting all this power loose came with a natural expectation of drama, but the weirdest thing happened. A sense of purpose that’s never been experienced in an M5 took over. The balancing act of keeping an almost two tonne beast on the black-stuff was no longer required. The sense of impending death was gone, replaced with no-nonsense straight line performance. In 4WD Sport, the new BMW M5 has reached a new level of grippy performance. With a road long enough, the vehicle gives you that tunnel vision experience, that you get from a supercar. The ability to shorten straights and have corners appear much sooner than you anticipated is nothing short of frightening. Should a vehicle this big be able to do this? The Bavarians certainly think so, especially since their friends from Affalterbach have done the same with the Mercedes AMG E63 S, but that’s a story for another day. The 0-100km/h sprint in the new M5 is claimed at 3.4 seconds. Yikes. The 0-200km/h run is achieved in 11.1. You read that correctly. What’s most impressive is the manner in which the vehicle does this. This performance is now accessible. All the time.

BMW M5 Dash

This begs the question, is this still a proper M car? Aren’t M’s meant to shred tyres and behave badly all the time? Things have changed. The target audience of an M5 is a mature audience, one that requires safety, luxury and refinement. When all that is taken care of, the vehicle then needs to perform like a sports car. Tough ask, right? The M5 now gives you that. During the cool down lap, the vehicle in its most normal mode is as docile as a 530d. However, engage 4WD Sport and you will find the DNA of its predecessor coming to the fore. Around corners, the front end turns in sharply, allowing you to accurately place the vehicle where you want it. The front wheels are not obtrusive, but rather pull you out of corners – working with the rear wheel biased setup of the vehicle. As a result, you can carve a better line and feel confident whilst doing it. In 4WD sport, the rears are still keen to light up, but in a very controlled fashion. For someone handy, this may be your favourite setting. But wait, there is more – 2WD mode. At the launch, the journalists weren’t allowed to use this mode as driving skills differ, which means the risk increases too. In this mode, DSC is automatically switched off, which is a scary thought.

BMW M5 Drifting

To demonstrate this, BMW very wisely brought in GTC BMW driver, Gennaro Bonafede, to show what the super sedan could do. In this mode, you’ve basically got a more powerful F10, one that is followed by a cloud of smoke. That being said, the vehicle still possessed tons of grip as Gennaro proved. So as much as that the setting is meant for fun, 2WD mode, doesn’t make the car undrivable.

BMW M5

Overall impressions.

The BMW M5 has for long been hailed as the benchmark in this segment. The competition has closed the gap over the years, especially with the likes of the new E63s around. Will the new BMW M5 remain the king? A more thorough test will be needed to conclude that. For now, we can tell you that this is the most accessible M5 since the e39. With a starting price of R1 732 300, we’re not referring to price but rather performance. The addition of M xDrive adds a new dynamic to the car, a welcome one for the average driver. This change has not ruined it for the enthusiast too, as the vehicle can still be exploited via the rear axle like M5’s before it. Altogether, you have a large nimble and blisteringly fast M5.

 

New BMW M5 Pricing in South Africa

The new BMW M5 starts at R1 747 500 and is available now.