Category: Car reviews

New Volkswagen Polo vs Peugeot 208 GT-Line

Volkswagen Polo

New Volkswagen Polo v Peugeot 208 GT-Line

“Cool”, “eye-catching” and “snazzy” are just a few words than can be used to describe both Volkswagen’s new Polo and the updated Peugeot 208 GT-Line. These hatchbacks play in a competitive market, each manufacturer has their own version of what they perceive that market wants. For those looking in this segment, there needs to be a balance between fun factor, functionality, technology, practically and appearance – a tough ask in my opinion. That being said, a lot of those attributes are on offer in many cars operating in that segment. So, building a hatchback that meets those requirements is easy, but selling it in South Africa is a different story. In a country where the Volkswagen Polo is the bread and butter, how does the “Frenchie” stack up? Let’s get down and dirty.

Peugeot 208

Looks

This reminds me of the common topic of argument among boys and men. Jennifer Anniston or Angela Jolie? They are both beautiful women in different ways. The same rings true with the new Polo and Peugeot 208. The Polo, on the one hand features an edgy design which gives off a “young professional” look. The 208 GT Line on the other hand is curvier and quirkier, creating a fun overall appearance.

Volkswagen Polo

Interior and Technology

While both vehicles boast good quality interiors, the experience is totally different. The new Polo features a typically clean Volkswagen look and the 8” Composition Media display really adds a nice premium touch. It’s also built into the dashboard resulting in a classy, clean look. Opting for the optional Active Info Display further adds to the premium feel of the new Polo cabin, the 11” display replaces conventional dashboard dials and provides a completely different interface for the driver. This option brings features not normally associated with a hatchback in this segment.

Jumping in to the 208 GT Line results in an unusual but sportier environment. The dashboard is high, the steering wheel is small and located particularly low. After a short while pulling leavers and twisting nobs, I found a low seated driving position that I enjoyed. The sporty appeal, supportive seats and small diameter steering wheel offer something different from the Polo and once you’ve settled in, it becomes rather enjoyable.

Both cars offer Apple CarPlay, (Android auto is compatible but still not available in ZA) but in terms of usability and interface responsiveness, the VW Polo comes out on top.

Driving

The 208 produces a nippy 81Kws of power and has a nimble chassis. The front end of this vehicle stood out to me as it was very positive and provides plenty of grip. Combine this with the sporty driving position and driving 208 GT Line is a fun affair. If you are one who enjoys a good twisty road, the 208 might be your weapon of choice. The manual variant in the Peugeot is what we preferred, as the automatic had a mind of its own. On the other hand the DSG gearbox in the Polo is class leading and definitely the one to get, especially if traffic is a reality of your life.

When it comes to the Polo, it produces 85Kw and is slightly calmer in its approach. It’s the more grown up car out of the two and doesn’t have as much of a sporty appeal, but rather a gentleman-like persona (The optional R-Line package may spice things up). I say this a lot, but the Polo has a young professional aura about it, which is excellent for the “up and coming”.

What you choose depends on the type of person you are. Both the Volkswagen Polo and the Peugeot 208 GT Line are good cars, they both look great, drive well and offer unique packages as well as a host of tech. A major factor for consideration is what sells more. The simple rule of thumb is, “if it sells more, it will trade in better” – supply and demand. Looking at Polo sales compared to the Peugeot in that aspect makes it the obvious choice for when you want to sell it. If you’re buying with your heart however, you may be swayed by the appeal of the Peugeot, it is a great looking car after all. That being said, the Polo is rather handsome as well. Choose wisely.

 

Peugeot 208 Pricing in South Africa

208 ACTIVE 1.2 PureTech BVM 60kW MT                  R 224 900

208 ALLURE 1.2 PureTech BVM 60kW MT                 R 239 900

208 GT-LINE 1.2 PureTech BVM 81kW Turbo MT       R 259 900

Pricing includes a three-year/100 000 km warranty and 3 year/ 45 000km service plan.

Ends

 

Volkswagen Polo Pricing in South Africa

1.0 TSI 70kW Trendline                                     R 235 900

1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline                                 R 264 700

1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline DSG                         R 280 700

1.0 TSI 85kW Highline                                      R 286 200

1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSG                              R 302 200

The new Volkswagen Polo models come standard with a 3 year/45 000km Service Plan, 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty. Service Interval is 15 000km.

 

The South African Motoring Experience 2017

South African Motoring Experience 2017

 TheMotorist Attends the South African Motoring Experience 2017

Following a turn-out of 51 000 patrons last year, Kyalami Proves year and year again to be the hub of all motoring shenanigans. 2017’s Festival was different to the years past given the strange partnership with a Boat show, which was ‘same, same but different’; although it was the Motoring Experience S opposed to the Festival of Motoring, which only takes place every second year. Nevertheless, the boats were still a very popular attraction and reminded many that boats are rather cool. The largest attraction without a doubt was the Pit Lane, test drives and ride alongs which allowed for anyone off the street to have either the experience of driving some of their favourite cars on the track or have the trained drivers hurl them around at breakneck speeds. Unsurprisingly the waits were long and plentiful but warranted by the smiles on hundreds of faces afterwards, suggesting that this was all worth it.

South African Motoring Experience 2017

Personally, the long quest for smiles proved a bit too daunting and I opted for a ride in the more exclusive stuff that I hadn’t yet sampled namely the Lexus LC 500 on a track which was a rather enlightening experience with the GT being a lot less luxury cruiser and more Apex bruiser on the track. The space in the rear was not amazing and more so when you have a racing driver attacking Sunset Corner at 180km/h plus and your face feels like it’s coming off, and knees rather numb. The was the usual mix of V8 Jags and Range Rovers, AMG Merc’s, fast VW’s and RS Audi’s to sample around the track but no BMW – partly due large to their own exclusive M Festival next month and the presence of new faces to the festival’s Pit area. The likes of Suzuki, BAIC, Haval and even Peugeot’s 3008 SUV were taking to the track, all of whom offering the chance to sample a track driving experience and most importantly for the manufacturer, a chance to drive their latest products.  Having again sampled the larger portion of their offerings, the three the stand out model for me by-in-large the Haval H6 and H6C, which for a Chinese entry into the market is really impressive, good road manners, good power and even when kicked around on a track still proved well put together with no rattles or squeaks to my nit-picking ears.  Another surprise was the debut of the BAIC X25, which again drove rather well, and this was a view few shared me and the drivers. There was a fair amount of shove from the 85 kW-1.5 Litre engine, enough to make the drive fun enough on track but again I was surprised at the level of refinement, both in the chassis and in the interior, proving that the Chinese are most defiantly upping their game in terms of vehicle manufacturing.

Moving around the festival, there was much to see from all the manufacturers; interactive experiences of active safety systems, tandem attacks at the Skid pan and even Aerobatics stunts from the very loud Puma Energy stunt planes. Cell C’s Supercar Zone was another clear favourite with the presence of a rather young looking man in a suit with the keys to Aston’s DB11 and a Malaren 570S. The Suited Youth would turn them on and allow for rev’s and pictures in the machines, much to the approval of the crowd. In the same room was Bentley’s new Continental GT Speed, an Aventador S, and and  R8 V10 Sypder, all in bright colours aside from the black 911 Turbo hidden in the corner.

4X4 Fans were not forgotten as a short shuttle ride took you to the mud and dust where the diff locks and hill descent controls were more important. Providing an in-depth look into the more slow paced stuff, where speed is not the objective. On showcase was the New Pajero Sport, which was highly capable on the track and yet still rather well appointed and less rudimentary than the previous models. With striking looks and very clear off-road ability and comfort, it’s an interesting alternative to the likes of the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Everest.  The 4×4 track was rather tricky and difficult with all kinds of grip testing and axle twisting stuff and the likes of the VW Amarok V6, Nissan Navara and the G range of Mercedes-Benz SUV’s, with the exclusion of the tamer GLC and GLA. The Renault Duster made an appearance and proved it’s not as soft as one would think but lacking in low-range and hill-descent control, and instead of a very skillfully footed instructor and a slightly different track with only the Plucky little Suzuki Jimny keeping up with the behemoths that were the double cabs and Diff-look toting SUV’s.

In the various rooms and looking points, the list of exotic cars and classics that we saw last year was not as extensive with no ‘Porsche Room’ and 918’s just a hall with exhibitors trying to sell you car related stuff at inflated prices, like an Automotive rand show, well I thought this until I saw a few classic Ferrari’s Like the 264 Gt Dino and older brother 308 GT4. Race 1 brought a large collection of wide-body super and hyper-cars, but overall internally not as great as 2016.  

Overall, this year’s festival as a day out in the sun with the family or as the group of enthusiasts is an ideal way of spending your day if you like keeping up to date with the trends of the motoring world. I wouldn’t miss it at all but as always, the rather lengthy queues in the pits, even from as early as 10 am, do mean you must be rather patient if you want a ride around the track but for the experience, it’s difficult to rival. If I was to break it down in terms of highlights, low lights and a numerical rating out of 10, it would be simple, The KIA Stinger 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 coupe on the track and the ever developing Chinese were standouts for me, as were the dynamics of the X25 BIAC and H6 Haval and 2018 Nissan 370Z which is rather dated but still quick. The Lengthy queues and pricey vendors of refreshments no so much but forgivable, overall a solid 8 from The Motorist.

The next event will be the BMW M Festival in October and we’ll most definitely be there, providing the ins and outs to the happenings of the day.   

The Chevrolet Lumina SS Ute – the Australia-American love child.

Chevrolet Lumina SS Ute

Chevrolet Lumina SS Ute Driven Review

Fewer things scream “Merrrica” more so than the fabled V8 motor. Large, boisterous and incredibly charismatic, all combined with the warm fuzzy feeling you get inside, knowing that you have very angry and deaf neighbours. This is the stuff of petrolhead dreams, in theory at least. The enormity and thirst of a V8 in a country like South Africa is a rather silly notion to the average person. This primarily due to the underlying fact that at around R12.86 for a litre of 95 unleaded, it’s rather hefty on the pocket. More so if you have the joys of 16l/100 km while driving your noise machine around town. But nonetheless, the V8 is simple, uncomplicated and rather cool.

So what happens when you combine a 6.0-litre V8 shafted from a Corvette and another uncomplicated thing, the ute, or half-ton bakkie to you and I. This sounds like a rather ponderous mess, but GM didn’t think so when they introduced the Chevrolet Lumina SS UTE, as a performance variant that cost far less than the typical German alternatives. Years later, I have finally sampled this machine in its final SSV rendition and have managed to compile some rather interesting thoughts.

Interior

This is by no means the best element of the bruiser, as it does consist of materials found in far cheaper cars, but the list of standard features is comprehensive, like the standard touchscreen radio with iPod/USB/Mp3 and Sav nav. The two power leather buckets are rather well bolstered and the list of safety and convenience features is long and inclusive. Auto-lights and wipers, Cruise control, six-airbags and storage behind the two front seats.

Driving Impressions

The V8 Swansong is where this big-ol’ girl comes to life, even cruising around town, you are constantly reminded by this deep rumbling baritone of whats lurking under the bonnet. A generous 6.0-litres, good for 270 kW and 530 N.m, all of these horses driving just the rear wheels, and after much searching, in the configuration of the test car, a ‘stick shift’, enough for a 6.5 second robot dash and a rather un-bakkie like 240 km/h. When driving spiritedly, the Ute is incredibly accomplished, both as a bakkie and more so as a proper full-cream sports car. The V8 provides very linear and constant power all the way to the red line and doesn’t really feel like you are standing on a bomb that explodes and vomits power at your spine, but instead a sustained machine-gun fire, it’s still rather good at ‘killing you’ so to speak. Silly metaphors aside, It’s quick, period. The steering is good, but feels strangely numb and is not the greatest at communicating the direction of the tyres, but does the job fairly well.  The brake pedal did get a bit soft when really pressing on, even with the 335 mm Brembo vented-discs hidden under the 19-inch chrome drug-dealeresque wheels. Getting this car to behave is the tricky part, turning off the driver aids is like strapping yourself to the tail of an excitable shark, eager to turn around and show its digestive tract. The rear end skids about and powerslides are initiated at the slightest touch of the loud pedal and the sheer brutality of the torque lets you pin its giant haunches way out there in fantastic hero like slides. It’s a complete laugh, and you’ll marvel at the amount of fun you can have and just how quickly it humbles many a 2-seater sports car.

Final Thoughts

The SS Ute could only be a product of a country that really loves beer because simply it makes no sense what so ever. Two seats, a thunderous V8 and all in all, a bakkie that can take corners far too quickly for most and makes rather rubbish drivers like myself look like DK’san himself Keiichi Tsuchiya, in mammoth smokey skids. Realistically, I think this would grow tiring, because the best consumption figure I managed was a rather high 11 l/100 km on the freeway in top gear, and the owner tells me the rear tyres are down to the steel belting after a rather scary 40 000 kms. This is a silly car; it would cost you more money than an aggressive cocaine habit and is just as likely to kill you.

Chevrolet Lumina SS Ute Pricing in South Africa

Early 5.7 models start from as little as R140 000 and range all the way up to R550 000 for the later facelifted  6.0 SSV.

 

New Look and More Tech – All New Discovery Driven

All new Discovery

All New Discovery Driven

All new Land Rover Discovery

The saying “don’t fix what’s not broken” went completely out the window with Land Rover’s design team when they were constructing the All New Discovery. We’re so used to the car’s iconic tall and boxy shape, it was a huge surprise when the new one launched and looked like the lovechild of a Range Rover Sport and a Discovery 4. So much so, there has been a huge outcry of differing opinions on social media. Some say that the car isn’t appealing, whilst others have embraced the new design language. I am on the fence at the moment as there are some elements which I like and others that puzzle me. Take, for instance, the front end, personally I think it looks great. Modern and quite pretty are the words I would use. The rear was nearly there for me but it’s the silliest thing that irks me, the number plate. The previous Discovery’s made use of a square number plate, placed to the side of the car. This looked fine but now they’ve substituted it with a standard size number plate, but still placed to the side of the car and it now looks skew to me. My eyes simply can’t adjust.

Another thing all consumers will have to adjust to, is the pricing of modern large SUV’s in general. This new Discovery starts at R992 540 for a 3.0 TDV6 S. If you want more kit, be prepared to be spending around R1.1 – R1.3 million. As expensive as this seems, this is on par with the German competition, some of which only offer five seats instead of seven.   

Going back to the new Discovery’s looks, overall the design is really not bad, but it’s a massive departure from the old car. The interior is a lovely place in which to be, roomy, of high quality and did I mention roomy? Yes the new Discovery is not short on space, but has the Discovery ever been? Not really. Besides the finishes, the infotainment system is similar to that found in modern JLR products, only better. The All New Discovery also comes loaded with technology, ranging from a seat folding app to a waterproof bracelet that acts as the vehicle’s key, so you can engage in sports and lock the main key in the car. The list goes on but an article on all the tech the car has will give you the full breakdown. What’s most important is the question you’ve been wondering since the car was first revealed with softer looks. Can it still hold its own in the rough stuff? Judging by our drive, we can confirm that the car’s Hyde Park aesthetics don’t mean it’s not afraid to get dirty.

Our launch drive route included a variety of activities including standard highway driving and rough gravel roads, as well a semi intense off-road course. The latter included going off-road whilst towing a trailer and treading some deep water. With a ground clearance of 283 mm and a wading depth of 900 mm, the large vehicle can get into some interesting angles and basically swim too. Towing can be a pain for most, but the new Discovery makes it an easier task with Tow Assist which integrates the rear view camera for easy latching. Thereafter, the vehicles air suspension is able to raise and drop onto the hitch, making the job capable for a single person to do.   

All new Land Rover Discovery

What this means is that the versatility of the car remains and is further amplified in the model. You would have no problem taking your new Discovery into remote areas. Off road systems like Hill descent control and All Terrain Progress Control basically do all the work for you, taking the nervousness of going off-road away. The ladder frame has also be done away with and replaced by a Monocoque construction, meaning that the car is lighter on its feet. This can be felt on the road as there is no sluggishness in its power delivery in both the petrol and diesel variants. The former is a sweet sounding 3.0 Supercharged V6 which produces 250 kW, whilst the 3.0 diesel is all about torque of which it produces 600 N.m. An 8-Speed Auto gearbox supplies drive to all four wheels in a seamless manner.  The way the car feels on gravel is very impressive, even at speed, you don’t feel like a visit to the chiropractor will be necessary afterwards. Instead, the optional massaging seats in the 3.0 TDV6 HSE Luxury we drove made this experience more comfortable.

All new Land Rover Discovery

Our experience of the all new Discovery has made us realise the need for manufacturers to please two parties in this segment. On the one hand, you have die hard Land Rover fans that have trusted this brand to take them to various places around the world. This camp may be sceptical of the design but impressed by the car’s capabilities. As an off road vehicle, it does what you would need it to do, and then some. On the other hand, you have the city SUV owners who want aesthetics and creature comforts. The peculiar design will resonate with this market as Evoque owners and even Range Rover owners may look at the new Discovery as their next car. In the higher spec variants such as the HSE Lux or the First Edition, you can have a great number of features in the car. The downside is pricing as a First Edition will set you back just under R1.5 million. Our pick would be the 3.0 TDV6 HSE, at approximately R1.25 mil, it’s is in the middle in terms of pricing and comes with some good features too. In conclusion, the new Discovery has managed to blend two worlds successfully, giving us an adventure ready package with quirky aesthetics. Who knows, maybe we’ll get over the rear in the end.

All New Discovery Pricing in South Africa

All New Discovery  S – R980,000

All New Discovery SE –  R1,109,250

All New Discovery HSE – R1,223,000

All New Discovery HSE Luxury – R1,314,000

All New Discovery  First Edition – R1,440,000

Spec your Land Rover Discovery Here

If Idris Elba doesn’t want to be James Bond, maybe the Aston Martin DB11 will convince him.

Aston Martin DB11 review in South Africa

We drive the Aston Martin DB11

Besides being one of the coolest people in Hollywood, Idris Elba is also a petrol head. If you don’t believe us, Google it. The fact that he is a car lover gives the makers of James Bond an even better reason to make him the next 007. If I were in the unique position to be considered for that role, I’d have a specific request though, besides being made to look taller – I’d want the lead car to be an Aston Martin DB11. We don’t need to explain why this car would be perfect for the next James Bond movie because Aston’s have long been synonymous with the 007 brand.

Old man gets some work done:

Let’s be honest, the Aston Martin brand was always the car for the “mature”. You know, the expensive cigar smoking, trench coat wearing types that look you up and down as you approach them. With technology and innovation making leaps and bounds, many manufacturers are looking to appeal to a different target audience nowadays. The internet has made many younger people wealthier so a sports car for the refined gentleman won’t appeal to that rich kid who swears by his Adidas sneakers and hoody from college. What that guys wants is something smart and powerful, something the Aston Martin DB11 is.

The new car has learned from its older siblings in terms of style and pizzazz, but its packaged in a different way. The DB9 and Vanquish for instance feel old school with their sonorous naturally aspirated V12 engines. Having driven a Vanquish recently, I can confirm that it’s quite an event-nothing beats the raw nature of the engine. The power delivery is a build up, giving you an exquisite crescendo at the end of the rev range. The only problem with that, is that in everyday traffic, you’ll barely reach that crescendo because of a little thing called traffic.

This is where the Aston Martin DB11 comes in, since it’s turbocharged it has boost very early in the rev range – allowing you to access the power easily. The car is a GT vehicle, meaning that it’s meant to be driven a lot. It’s not meant to be a Sunday car, but for it to be an “everyday car” it needs everyday features. The modes in the DB11 were made specifically for that purpose.

GT mode is the one you’ll use to go to the office,  Sport mode will be used by those who still want to go to the office but very loudly. Sport Plus mode will be used by those who still want go to the office but loudly and less comfortably. In whatever mode the Aston Martin DB11 is in, it’s never terrible though. It’s always good. Underneath it all, the car is basically a Mercedes-AMG GT and the people at Merc know a thing or two about comfort. The surprising thing is that the Aston drives better as an everyday car than the AMG GT. The engine is also nicer. A unique 5.2 litre V12 Twin Turbo is the life of the party and with 447kW/700Nm at your disposal, you won’t get bored easily. This engine makes any other Aston seem slow, but it still has soul.

Driving the DB11 teaches you that you don’t have to drive fast for you to enjoy a car with so much power. With your cell phone paired and the engine in its most docile mode, you often forget you have a weapon under your right foot. The 8 speed automatic gearbox adds to this as it can feel non-existent, but in Sport mode it changes quicker than you’d expect. The seating position also doesn’t make you feel like you’re in a long car, as does the Vanquish. Instead you’re surrounded by luxury and technology and you don’t feel like you’re driving “daddy’s car”. The Aston Martin DB11 has done well then to appeal to younger guys.

Sure it’s not as exciting as a super car but it’s not mean to be. It’s meant to offer everyday thrills nestled in luxury and sophistication. If I was a wealthy 35 year old, the DB11 would be a very tempting car to own. Better yet if I were Idris Elba, I think it would add to the James Bond swagger I would already bring to the role. Imagine the scene, Idris driving up to a lavish hotel, pulling up in the Aston Martin DB11 with a gorgeous girl. As the valet approaches he says, “park the old girl won’t you, but keep it running, I won’t be long…”    

 

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The New Volkswagen Up! : A fun city car with a hefty price tag

New Volkswagen Up! Car Review in South Africa

South African Car Review: New Volkswagen Up!

Volkswagen Up! Car Review in South Africa

With all the cars that come through The Motorist’s garage, sometimes it’s a good thing to be reminded of what real cars are and have a palate cleanser. You see, the life of a motor journalist is full of crème de la crème cars and we often forget about entry level vehicles and it’s those cars that you see more than your rear engined sports car.

We spent the week in VW’s new and revised Up! and yes, it reminded me of my post high school days. The car, the “move Up!”, is fun to drive and in the mindset of a girl/guy in the late teens early twenties, it’s the perfect run around. It has all the modern necessities like USB that connects to your mobile that your mate can control on the way to the joll. Its 1.0-liter three cylinder, 55 kW motor takes some little time to get used to but as mentioned, we are 20 years old today, remember? Being a three cylinder, and having seen this on most three-cylinder vehicles, they want you to explore the rev range and once you do so, the 55 kW aided by 95 N.m of torque isn’t too bad too live with and for a car that’s running from home, tertiary and to the next party, it’s got more than enough power.

New Volkswagen Up! Car Review in South Africa

Being a city car makes the Up! really pleasant to live with as well. It’s easy to park, something I made particular note of having just climbed out of a VW Passat which, as lovely as it was, was like driving an 18-wheeler when compared to the Up!.  Standard items on the specific Move up! is ESP, with hill hold control, ABS, ASR, EBD, 123 and even ABC. They have thrown the whole alphabet at this little car. Electric exterior mirrors, daytime running lights and radio with aux, Bluetooth and SD card also make a welcomed appearance. Clearly, I was born in the wrong decade. Our “starter pack” cars weren’t this cool. One thing I thought is that this is a car for a varsity student with parents with a fat credit card or deep pockets as the vehicle that we drove has a starting price of R180 400. The base Up! isn’t much cheaper either at R166 800. Yikes.

New Volkswagen Up! Car Review in South Africa

People have been polarized by the looks of the Up! but I think it’s a good looking small vehicle. Does it look like the BMW i3? Yes, but that is beside the point. For a week, I was 20 again, had my cap on backwards and had house and hip hop tunes blasting out the car like I had no bills and debit orders. It was a good week in the VW Up!

New Volkswagen Up! Car Review in South Africa

 

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Volkswagen strikes back: Volkswagen Amarok V6 launched in South Africa

Volkswagen Amarok V6

Volkswagen Amarok V6 launched in South Africa

Back in 2010 when Volkswagen announced that the Amarok will only feature 2.0 litre engines, bakkie lovers were up in arms. “We need more power! We need more displacement!” the angry hoards and picketers screamed, forming a mob and carrying flaming objects whilst protesting toward their local VW dealers. Well that’s what we assume happened in certain parts of town where anything under 3.0 litres is an insult to someone’s manliness. This burning issue however was not really about power, because despite the Amarok 2.0 TDI producing 132kW and 440Nm, what people had a problem with was the size of the engine. So much so, the Amarok didn’t really take off as well in South Africa as VW had hoped it would. People are still buying the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger in droves, don’t forget the Isuzu KB as well. As a result Volkswagen have seen the need for change, drastic change at that. What, then, could be more drastic than a bakkie that produces 165 kW/550 N.m? How about a bakkie that produces 180 kW and 580 N.m on over-boost? Yes the new Amarok V6 is in a different performance league when it comes to pick-ups available in South Africa.

Bakkie SUV?

To be honest, the Volkswagen Amarok has always had a few advantages over its rivals, but it seems as though those advantages weren’t ever enough. Take for example the cabin and ride quality, there is nothing agricultural about the car. Instead, the Amarok is arguably the best dual purpose lifestyle bakkie out there. People don’t care however, people want power. That is why the combination of the updated cabin and the engine are a match made in bakkie heaven as you get the best of both worlds. A large touch screen infotainment is now offered in the Amarok, giving you features like Apple CarPlay as well as Bluetooth and other smart features. Ergonomically you feel like you’re in a Golf up front, of course the rear seats are still more “truckish” but purely because you have a load bin behind you and nothing’s going to change that. The overall interior and comfort levels in the V6 are fantastic, you’d swear you’re in an SUV, especially without the rackety noise of the 2.0 TDI.

 

Is all that power necessary?

No. There is no real need for all that power, unless you plan on ploughing the fields in the morning or towing your mobile home with you. Quite honestly, the power offered in the 2.0 TDI is sufficient for the average bakkie owner. The thing is though, once you put your foot down in the V6 and you feel the surge of torque – you realise that this is not power you need, it’s power you want. Once you’ve experienced it, you don’t want it to go away. The powertrain offered in the V6 Amarok can be best described as a very rich dessert, a chocolate mousse even. If you’re not a lover of chocolate mousse, you need to rethink your entire life and maybe even see someone about that.
Oh by the way, it’s not only power that’s changed in the Amarok, the front end looks different too…slightly. The entire range has been face-lifted, with minor changes giving the car a fresher face. The choices are as follows: Comfortline, Highline, Highline Plus and Extreme. The engines range from a 103kW 2.0 TDI to the 132kW 2.0 TDI and then of course, the V6 we’ve been crushing over. If money is no object and you only want the best, the top of the range Extreme model is available. This will equip your Amarok with Satellite navigation, 20 inch wheels, Bi-Xenon headlights and even 12 way adjustable “ergoComfort” seats as some of the standard features.


All these features sound like items you would get in an SUV, but that’s what the bakkie market wants. Thankfully you can still go into Africa and see the dusty sights in your Amarok. The car features an Electronic Differential Locking system for great traction but a diff lock button is still available for those really sticky situations. An Off-Road button can be selected for hardcore terrains and this allows for features like hill descent control to be activated and other nifty features such as off-road ABS as well.
If your Amarok is equipped with ESC, you get a feature called Electronic Trailer Stabilisation which assists when loss of traction occurs whilst towing. Speaking of towing, you’re good for 3300kg, which is great especially for those who enjoy a spot of caravanning. Depending on which Amarok you get, there is the choice of a 6 speed manual gearbox for the 103kW and the 132kW, but the V6 is only offered with the 8 speed automatic gearbox and only in 4Motion as well. The 2.0 TDI’s can be opted as RWD or 4Motion, with the 4Motion being the best off road choice, as it uses a Haldex system to utilise all four wheels for better traction.

Best bakkie out there?

Answering that question with a yes or no depends on your needs. As a lifestyle bakkie for the city and open road, the Amarok has always been a leader when it comes to comfort and trim levels. For the real hardcore off-roaders, some still prefer the likes of a Toyota Hilux. You can’t blame them because there are very few bad bakkies out there. The addition of the V6 engine has made the Amarok the best bakkie in terms of its powertrain. The new Nissan Navara still has one of the best chassis out there but again, it’s all subjective. The biggest problem facing bakkies today is cost and the Amarok V6 is not cheap. Nor is any other top of the range pick up either. An asking price of R748 600 for the Extreme is a hard pill to swallow. If it makes you sleep better at night, think of these fancy bakkies this way: if you own one of them, you don’t really need an SUV anymore. You have all the creature comforts of an SUV but the off road attributes of a bakkie, giving you a car you can do more with. Who would’ve thought that one day this segment would be so demanding? The fact that Volkswagen actually went ahead with the development of this car proves that if people complain enough, eventually they get what they want.

 

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Nissan Qashqai Driven Review in South Africa

We test drive the Nissan Qashqai

Once upon a time, a manufacturer decided to make a 4×4 that wasn’t actually a 4×4 and the rest became history. Few people could have predicted the success of the crossover when the Nissan Qashqai supposedly invented the segment in 2006. Well over a million Qashqai’s and a bajillion other crossovers later, the second generation Nissan Qashqai takes over from where the benchmark in its segment left off, building on its many strengths.

When replacing the original Qashqai, Nissan certainly had their work cut out for them but thanks to much improved build quality and styling, the Qashqai now gives off a much more premium feel than its predecessor. Good quality materials and very few rattles make the cabin a very nice place to be and while you won’t be writing abstract poems professing the innate beauty of its swooping plastic features or nice-to-push buttons, everything works just as it should, all while giving a pleasing tactile feeling.

Power comes from an array of motors, ranging from 1.2-litre turbo-petrols to 1.6-litre turbo-petrols and diesels. The model we had on test was the mid-range 1.5dCi Acenta Manual with 81 kW and 260 N.m although the laggy torque delivery and gear lever’s long throws came nowhere close to mirroring the vehicle’s sporty and dynamic looks. Frightfully economical, though, we averaged around 5.0 l/100 km over the period of a week which in the real world isn’t too far off the manufacturer’s claim of 4.2 l/100km.

Spec wise, the Acenta model we had comes standard with Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, a trip computer, xenon headlights, 6 airbags, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, auto-lights and windscreen wipers and the usual electronic aids.

A 6 year/150 000km warranty comes standard across the range, as does a 3 year/90 000km service plan.

Nissan Qashqai pricing in South Africa

Pricing starts at R354 900 for the 1.2T Acenta and rises to R454 900 for the top-spec 1.6dCi Acenta Auto. The model we tested is priced at R382 900 and is definitely the sweet spot in the range.

While the second-generation Nissan Qashqai has been on sale in South Africa for roughly 3 years now, it is still a very relevant product, more than capable of competing with some of its newer competitors. Despite the fact that its sporty looks are a bit deceiving, the Qashqai as a whole is a good quality product that reminds us of why the world fell in love with the original in the first place.

Nissan, good job.

 

Who said a half tonner can’t be cool?: Nissan NP 200 ICE Driven

 Nissan NP 200 ICE Driven Review in South Africa

 

Never in a million years would’ve I have thought a half tonne bakkie would be something that appeals to me. Honestly these kind of cars are usually bought out of need, not want. Perhaps you’ve started a small business and you need something that’s going to keep going and going. Or you’re the kind of guy that loves to spend time outdoors? Either way a half tonner can solve all your problems.

For me to fully understand the appeal of this car, I had to put myself in the shoes of someone who needed one. The ICE version of the NP 200 is what we were given and honestly, at first I thought it looked corny. It was only after five minutes of driving the thing did I appreciate not being behind the wheel of a plain white one, as there are some many on the road.

 

How Does It Drive?

The ICE edition comes with some nice features such as a front nudge bar to end move taxis out your way. It then has a sporty looking set of wheel, leather seats and blue paint to show the world how “cool” you are. It also comes in silver paint if the blue is too out there for you. The best thing about driving such a bakkie is that the size of it makes it very “get up and go”. It’s really a car that you don’t think too hard about driving because it’s so small. The ICE edition we drove was the 1.5 litre DCI engine which is like a little Jack Russell, it nips at the heels of other drivers in traffic. With only 62kW/128Nm, the lightweight body of the car makes it feel like more. It also seems to run on magic as I battled to get the fuel gauge to move, despite running around aimlessly trying fill the load bin. The ICE is also available with a 1.6 litre petrol engine which should be quite good, but won’t have the great torque spike that the diesel has.

 

In my attempt at trying to be a half tonne bakkie owner, I found myself with the urge to move stuff. I became a pest to my friends, offering to move a desk, dispose of the trash etc etc, to see how much stuff I can fit in. I do occasionally cycle so even my worn out ride bike got a chance to see how effective the NP200 ICE. The rubberised bin is a nice standard feature from Nissan as a scratched up load bin is the equivalent to a grandmothers cracked heels, not nice to look at and difficult to fix

Final Thoughts

Overall I can say I was quite pleased with this little bakkie. It’s the bakkie you’ll want if during the week you run a small business and in the weekend you need to live with the car. The NP200 has a  decent radio and air-conditioning system and a punchy little engine. It’s still very much a no frills car even though it offers all the frills in the range.

For those business orientated guys, you’ll be happy to know that you have a 6 year/150 000km warranty on the car, so you can put this little workhorse to work. I for one can see why some families have one of these half tonners in their garage. From a practicality perspective, it’s always handy having something small with loading capacity at your disposal. The NP200’s father, the iconic Nissan 1400 would be proud to see it’s kid following in daddies footsteps. It’s a great little thing indeed.  

 

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The Opel MOKKA X: A Crossover For South African City Life.

Opel MOKKA X Driven Review

Crossover vehicles are becoming very popular, they bring the style of an SUV together with the compactness of a hatchback. They prove to be popular for those with young families or ones who just can’t stretch the budget for the real deal. Crossover’s look good, a little different from the everyday vehicle, are well-priced and are a better option for the city over an SUV.

So it’s not difficult to see, then, why this segment has literally boomed in the past couple of years and with more variants coming to market, there are many choices available. One of these variants is Opel’s kind of new MOKKA X.

I couldn’t quite get my head around the visual aspect of this vehicle when it first arrived on our doorstep. It has really nice design elements but also looks a little plumbly – a chubby teenager with a handful of candyfloss comes to mind. It definitely has sporty crossover elements and from some angles its looks great, whereas others are not so appealing. The exterior is still a little lukewarm for me, so let’s talk about the inside.

Interior

The interior of the MOKKA X was a great surprise. It isn’t what you’d describe as the lap of luxury, but it is refreshing. The car boasts a very simple, clean and sophisticated feel with striking visual elements that catch your eye. Along with the descent trim comes a nice steering wheel and the leather padding on the dash in the Cosmo edition is pleasing to the eyes. I felt very comfortable and relaxed in the MOXXA X cabin which I feel is very important. Especially if you’re the kind of driver who values comfort and aesthetics over performance, because this isn’t a performance car…

Opel MOKKA X Review

Driving

From a driving perspective, the MOKKA X feels like a city car. The steering is very light, so light in fact that I found myself scanning for a city steering button – it didn’t exist. This didn’t cause me any issues, though, and it made for a great turning circle and quick response when nipping around Durban – I rather enjoyed it.

To be honest, the whole driving experience in the Opel MOKKA X was fairly pleasant. As mentioned before, the MOKKA X is no hot cross over. With 103 kW and 200 N.m on tap from just 1 850 rpm, it’S no slouch and has ample power. These figures are produced by 1400 cc turbocharged motor which also returns impressive consumption figures at a claimed 6.0 l/100km combined.

Overview and Pricing

For me, The Opel MOKKA X is a crossover with a slightly city biased nature, which is a good thing. It has the space and style of a mini SUV, but drives like a city car with its responsive engine and nippy handling. This is not a bad point at all. As many people buy crossovers for the style anyway, with no inclination to actually crossover onto any other road surface than tarmac.

It boasts a good amount of space and has an impressive drivetrain. It is also very well connected with Carplay and Android Auto available. I had a blast in the MOKKA X! It’s a good fit for a young family and with a starting price of R317,500 it’s also very affordable.

  • MOKKA X 1.4T Enjoy 6MT

    R 317, 500.00

  • MOKKA X 1.4T Enjoy 6AT

    R 328, 400.00

  • MOKKA X 1.4T Cosmo 6MT

    R 357, 400.00

  • MOKKA X 1.4T Cosmo 6AT

    R 368, 100.00

 

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