Category: Connectivity

Volvo XC90 Excellence

Of late, the term ‘Swede Speed’ has been used more than Oral B in a nunnery but let’s not forget what the polar-neck brigade are best at…Swede tweed.

Ever since conception in 1915 as a ball bearing manufacturer, Volvo has become a by word for left of field design and superb quality. In 1927, the first Volvo rolled out of the factory in Gothenburg and straight into a wall of bricks. Not really, but if you were to ask anyone what Volvo is known for, they’d say safety, comfort and Swedish design. Safe and suave, then, are the reasons we like Volvos and while the general consensus is that Volvo’s are for yummy mummies, anyone who can look past that perception will know that it’s difficult to find a more rounded motor car. If you’re not getting my ball bearing puns by now then that’s your own fault.

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The Volvo XC90 when launched in 2002 was an instant success because it blended all the things people like about Volvos with seating for 7 and a shocking GM 4-speed gearbox. And despite the aforementioned gearbox being very woeful, the original XC90 is still in production today in China because it’s that good! It’s also very old, though, which is why the rest of the world grew bored of the XC90 with sales dwindling for a few years before the new XC90 rolled in. And boy did the XC90 roll all over its competitors, sweeping up countless awards internationally, one of which was South Africa’s prestigious Wesbank Car of The Year 2016. Well-priced, impressive looks and great standard spec are all things that we at TheMotorist love about the XC90 and following its local success, Volvo Car South Africa think it’s time for the Range Rover to roll over…

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The Volvo XC90 Excellence is now available in South Africa and you’ll be pleased to know that they have been inundated with an order. Yes, just one. Volvo promises one of the most luxurious models in the brand’s 89 year history and they’re probably right. It’s kitted out with everything bar a toaster and a swimming pool and is offered exclusively with the T8 Twin Engine powertrain. Snazzy kit includes ‘distinctive cup holders’ which feature heating and cooling, individual and fully adjustable, heated, cooled and massaging rear seats with footrests and little tables in the backs of the front seats. Special champagne flutes are also thrown in and are fashioned from the same Orrefors glass as the gear knob – something which I’ve always wanted in a car.

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Power comes from a 235 kW, 400 Nm supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder Drive-E petrol engine and is fed to the front wheels through an 8-speed transmission. The rear wheels are connected to a 65 kW, 240 Nm electric motor which allows for all-wheel drive should you feel the need to go off-roading in your lounge. Total output is an impressive 300 kW and 640 Nm which will be sure to propel you and your gear knob flutes with grace and pace to 100km/h in a brisk 5.9 seconds! All this while returning a claimed fuel consumption of 2.5l/100km.

As with any Volvo, a vast array of safety features comes as standard. ABS, EBD, BAS and HAS are some of the three-lettered delights thrown in for nothing and it’ll even drive itself up to 130km/h. The City Safety autonomous emergency braking system also caters for large animals and all isn’t lost should they be riding a bicycle in front of your moving Volvo. The XC90 is so safe, in fact, that it received a 97% score in its Euro NCAP crash test for adult occupants and 87% for child occupants – best in its class.

The features on this XC90 pretty much matches the spec of a Range Rover L Supercharged SVAutobiography, yours for a cool R3.6 Million.

So what does all of this Swedishness cost, you ask?

Oh, R1.5 Million.

 

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Peugeot 308 GT-LINE Automatic Review

The more time you spend with a vehicle, the more you get to know it and learn about it.  In issue 04 of TheMotorist, I tested the Peugeot 308 GT-Line, the manual variant. I recently got behind the wheel of the Automatic variant, which features the same three cylinder- 1200cc turbo motor. After my bad experience in the Peugeot 208 Auto I was slightly worried that the same faults with that vehicle would follow on into the 308. The 208 Auto was not a great box at all, the issues with that vehicle arise when pulling off, but mainly also when coming to a stop in traffic or at a junction.

More than 90% percent of the time I experienced a juddering feeling, much like when the engine speed is too low for a certain gear. Imagine slowing to a stop while in 3rd gear, that was feeling. It bothered me so much that at certain times I even went for the none existent clutch pedal, giving my wife minor whiplash as I proceeded to hit the brake pedal with left foot force. You may say this is driver error, but after driving manual vehicles for the few weeks before driving the 208, your instinct is to head for the clutch pedal when a car feels like its going to stall.  From then on I had to constantly remind myself that this an automatic vehicle, just with a gearbox fit for a kids fisher price trike.

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Fortunately, the 308 Auto does not suffer from this problem; it provides a comfortable drive, smooth gear changes and decent all-around performance. This, though, is expected of course as the Peugeot 308 is a much more expensive vehicle. Many features are the same, the tachometer travels in the wrong direction, A/C controls are still digital, and you can’t connect Bluetooth devices unless the vehicle is stopped. They don’t tell you that, though. So you end up fiddling through the menus trying to figure out how to connect your mobile device. Still, with no luck, you pull out the manual, picture the scene. Now you are flicking through a paper book as big as a Harry Potter novel while trying to negotiate a complex digital screen. Added to the fact that you are travelling at speed on your way to work, sleepy-eyed, just wanting your Bluetooth connection to work so you can be a “safer driver” and call your wife. That might be an exaggeration, but the point I’m making is that little things like this don’t need to be over complicated, especially in today’s world of connectivity.

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All in all though, the 308 is a great car. Personally, I don’t like the Ruby red color as I feel it does show off the GT-Line body kit as well as the Nacre White, but that is all down to personal preference. Not only is the exterior styled well, but the interior is also a great place to be, nice lines and a very sporty feel, most of all it doesn’t feel cheap. One of my favorite features on the 308 GT-Line is the seats, they look sporty and hold the driver and passenger well but on top of that, they are extremely comfortable. A massaging function is also included, it’s a kind of gizmo that gets used a few times and then forgotten about, but it something to tell your friends about right?

The other issue that nags me about this vehicle is the lack of space in the glove box, they are obviously not designed to fit your overnight bag, but in the 308 the design is very strange and leaves little room for small items.

The 308 GT-Line starts at R357 900, if you don’t feel like the fancy spec you can opt for the Active line. It is not only the spec that is different on this vehicle, there is also a reduction in power from 96kw to a mere 81kw. The final option in the 308 range is the GT – featuring a 1600cc 151kw Motor, the only transmission option here being a 6-speed manual.

Peugeot 308 GT-Line
1.2 3 Cylinder PureTech Turbo
96 kw/230Nm
4.8l/100km
Starting from R357,900

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Why the Toyota Hilux TRD prototype would be a major seller in South Africa

The bakkie market in South Africa has undoubtedly got a very loyal fan base. Month in and month out there are thousands of pick-ups sold in the country, with the two biggest competing brands being Ford and Toyota. Ford has risen to the top recently because not only is their offering very capable, the Ranger also looks very good. It’s the closest South Africans can get to a hardcore looking truck without paying the premium of importing something like a Dodge Ram. In fact I personally know people who have bought the Ford Ranger purely based on its looks. Most of them have probably not even used low range on their cars but as long as they look the part, their happy. Some have even taken their Fords to another level by adding the infamous Raptor kit, making it even more menacing in appearance.

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The ruggedness of the Ford Ranger Wildtrack is something the Toyota Hilux is missing. The Hilux is a pretty car but note the use of the word pretty, something that shouldn’t be said of a bakkie. What the Hilux needed in South Africa was the look of the Hilux TRD prototype that was revealed two years ago in Bangkok. This Hilux is what our market needs because it looks fantastic. Flared wheel arches, a larger and more aggressive bumper and tasteful bits in black make for an aesthetically pleasing look. To add to that, there is black side skirting on the car and red stickers on the bonnet and on the side of the vehicle. The reason why this car would do well in the country is because the traditional bakkie buyer is not the only person interested in this type of vehicle nowadays.

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The traditional buyer is one that is looking for quality and reliability, something Toyota has gotten right over the years. Generally, these buyers will use their cars on various terrains and the cars will be used to their full capacity. The newer bakkie buyer though is generally more lifestyle based, so the car needs to work well for a weekend getaway whilst doing a good job as a normal daily drive. As a result, aesthetic appeal has become of significant importance for many buyers hence the success of the Ford Ranger. If the Toyota Hilux TRD were to come into production and was sold in South Africa, it would be a great answer to the Ford. The merger of the reliable nameplate coupled with some amazing looks would make for a very appealing product. The question then is will Toyota make this rugged machine? If so our Toyota lovers would be very pleased. Especially since the range already sells a boat load every month.

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Kia Sportage 2.4 SX

In life, there tend to be good things and bad things. A Thai massage is a good thing. 2007 Britney was not a good thing. It goes even further, though, because stemming from this, you get poor imitations of both the good and the bad. Your decrepit great  aunt mangling her arthritic hands into your back is a poor imitation of a Thai massage and, arguably, Miley’s switch from Albany best of both to the short haired wench straddling wrecking ball she is today is a poor imitation of 2007 Ms Spears.

Years ago, before any of us at TheMotorist roamed the earth, cars were pretty straight forward. You could either have a comfy one, a sporty one or an American one (which was none of those things, just plastic) and that was that. Fast forward to modern times where shoes are called ‘Yeezy’s” and Rihanna feels that an assortment of burps constitute lyrics, and we are just spoilt for choice! Almost every major economy produces a vehicle, and you needn’t choose between comfy and sporty because there are these new things they make called crossovers, the purpose of which is to just be as many things as possible, apart from American, while still getting you from A to B with an odd school-run in between. Think of it like this – Air Maxes look like sporting shoes, but were never intended for anything more sporting than a brisk amble and in the same vain, a crossover looks like a 4X4 but can only really negotiate Sandton City and Saxonwold speed-humps.

Up until recently, KIA’s attempt at the Crossover, the Sportage, was a bit of a Miley. It didn’t look as nice as the Japanese or European offerings and had the sexual appeal of your arthritic great  aunt, and while you could get them with a V6 once upon a time, Air-Maxes doth not a sexy geriatric make…

Enter Peter Schreyer – not familiar? His HB pencil can be thanked for a few Volkswagens and Audis, including the original TT and since his arrival at KIA in 2007, they have been making some snazzy looking cars. Couple this with an engineering department who has finally woken up and we arrive at the new KIA Sportage, and it’s lovely.

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Some say it looks a bit like a Porsche Cayenne but there’s nothing wrong with that and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a nicer crossover to sit in. A comfortable but not wallowy ride coupled to an assortment of engines, ranging from asthmatic to pokey and staid to state-of –the –art, there’s a Sportage for everyone. The model we had on the test was the 2.4 SX AWD AT offering a wholesome 135kW and 237Nm of torque. Standard spec is impressive with rear PDC, Bluetooth connectivity, and auto-headlights making notable appearances. Our well-specced SX model came with nice-to-haves, too, such as power-folding side mirrors and a panoramic sunroof large enough to tan under.

Without sounding ridiculous, though, the action of the gear selector imparted a premium feel, something which many of the Sportage’s competitors could learn from and its ride was neither crashy nor nauseatingly soft. The same can be said for the rest of the vehicle which, bar its plastic door handles, is very rapidly approaching the realm of the premium brands.

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To be concise – for the second time in a row now, the KIA Sportage is no longer an imitation of a good thing, but rather an actual good thing and the new one just cements this sentiment. I wouldn’t be surprised if the German three see some serious competition from the Korean two within the next five years.
Ooh, controversy.

Pricing:

2.0 Ignite – R369 995
2.0CRDi EX – R487 995
2.4GDI SX AWD – R557 995
2.0CRDi SX AWD – R567 995
1.6T GT-Line AWD – R599 995
Warranty: 5-years/unlimited km
Service plan: 5-years/ 90 000 km

A Mercedes-Benz Bakkie – Would you buy one?

Over recent years we have seen the Pickup or Bakkie market change, instead of the classic workhorse, Bakkies are used more for commercial and private sectors, simultaneously. Not only have they adapted into vehicles that look and feel great, they also have plenty of space for passengers, especially the double cab models.

Mercedes have cottoned onto this and released the first concept images of their new  X – Class. Mercedes say they will change the segment of mid-size pickups by releasing the world’s first premium Bakkie, fair enough. There are two model variants, the first being entitled “stylish explorer.” As you can see from the designs, this is a more upmarket urban vehicle which maybe gets used for a cross-border family trip once in a while. The interior is true Mercedes style with leathers, woods, and shiny metal. Although being a Bakkie, I can’t imagine this vehicle will be lugging around too much construction/building materials during its life. I feel its more aimed at the owner or big boss of a construction company or architectural firm, maybe once in a while a spanner and screwdriver might slip into the back.

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The second is the X Class “powerful adventurer.” This vehicle, as the name suggests have been aimed at those kinds of people who like to go out, explore and conquer many terrains and lands. This model is my kind of vehicle; it features massive ground clearance, big, chunky off-road tires measuring 35 inches high, by 11 inches wide, the wild offroad styling is f