Category: Hot Hatch

Has the new Honda Civic Type R sold out?

Honda Type R

We drive the “softer” new flagship variant in the Honda Civic stable.

Prrrrrrrrrah (whoosh) prrrraaaaah goes the first ever turbocharged Honda Civic Type R, a car we loved driving-despite us getting it so late in SA not too long ago. This car was basically the love child of VTEC obsessed drivers and the boost crazy car fraternity. “VTEC and turbo? Na fam, it’s too good to be true”, said JDM lovers. It wasn’t. That Type R was lit. We drove it on the track in Cape Town, we drove it on the road in Johannesburg and we raced it against a Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport as you can see here:https://youtu.be/NTJJVc0YO7k

As you can see, this car was the track champion, with a chassis setup so sweet, we had toothache for weeks after driving it (laugh, it’s funny). All good then? Not exactly. See, often times when a car is excellent on track it’s generally not so good on the road. This is something the first turbocharged Honda Civic Type R suffered from, bad road manners. It hopped, it hurt your back and in “R mode” it felt like being inside a Metrorail. Did we care? Not so much, because we’re petrol heads – that’s what chiropractors are for. Besides as journos we only drive the car for a week. What about those who owned these cars? They must’ve had the same complaints we had. We’re sure they did, because the new Civic Type R feels like night and day compared to the old one. Does this mean it’s sold out though? Traded comfort for hardcore driving feel?

Sell out or nah?

In short, no. We just put that title out there so you can read our review. Seeing that you’re here, you may as well hear us out. To cut a long story short, the new Honda Civic Type R looks different, feels different but has the same engine as the old car. On the outside, it still unashamedly looks like something that’s climbed straight out of Ultra. A large rear wing, three exhaust pipes and jagged edges tell the world that you’re ready to party. Surprisingly, driving the car on the road in normal mode is pretty…normal. You can hold a conversation; the seats are comfortable and the chassis feels like a normal Civic. Even in sport mode, the car is not back breaking at all. The rear legroom is plentiful, the boot is huge and the exhaust is not loud. A bit too quiet to be honest. Dezzi Raceway was where we had a chance to experience the car’s abilities and in “R mode” the car is still the same old beast it was. The only difference now is that it’s easier to drive. The chassis is still very pliable and you can point the nose where you want it, but you don’t work as hard as you used to in the old Civic Type R, with little compromise to the fun you’re having. An “auto blip” function has been added during downshifting, so there’s no need to “heel and toe”, which I personally enjoy doing but some may not have gotten the hang of it. The new car is also lighter, so even though it still produces 228kW, it covers ground very quickly. A smart suspension setup means that you don’t have a lot of torque steer as well, despite all the power going to the front tyres and the rubber on the car is sticky enough to point and squirt the car where you want it.

So, what’s the verdict?

This new Honda Civic Type R is honestly one the best hot hatch experiences out there at the moment. It’s also unique in that it’s one of the few manual cars you can get in this segment. The first one battled in terms of everyday appeal but this one is a huge improvement, if you don’t mind the stares. If you like the attention, you’ll love it. Besides, that rear wing can make for a perfect spot to put your coffee in the mornings, when waiting for your kids to climb in for the school run. It’s that versatile. No wonder why the car has won so many awards, it’s that good. Is it better than a Golf 7 R however? Stay tuned to find out.

Honda Civic Type R Pricing in South Africa

The base price for the Civic Type R is R627 900 and includes a 5 year/200000 km Warranty, a 5 year/90000 km service plan and roadside assistance for 3 years.

 

Hot hatch bonanza: Renault Clio R.S launched.

Renault Clio R.S South Africa

Renault Clio R.S launched in South Africa

The Renault Clio is a car that has won the heart of many a petrol head due to its boisterous attitude and nimble chassis. When it comes to hot hatches, handling is everything and that is something the fast Clio’s have always had on their side. Despite being late to the turbocharging game, the naturally aspirated Clio 3 was a car that still made grown men very happy. This was further amplified when the Clio 4 debuted with a turbocharged engine. Now with its recently face-lifted body, the new Renault Clio R.S comes out aggressively in two derivatives, LUX and TROPHY. Here’s what you need to know:

The Renault Clio R.S LUX is the more docile of the range, featuring 147 kW it still packs a punch, especially due to the fact that it’s mated to a fast changing 6-speed EDC gearbox. It rides standard on 17 inch wheels and looks just as good as the TROPHY, only a bit calmer. The TROPHY on the other hand produces 162 kW, has 18inch wheels and wait for it…an Akrapovic exhaust as standard. The TROPHY is also 20mm lower in the front and 10mm lower in the rear, compared to the LUX model – making it more eager to take corners faster. The R.S comes with a clever electronic differential to make sure you can put that power down effectively. As we all know, you’re only as good as the amount of traction you have, so if you can’t put your power down you may as well stay at home. To further aid that, the R.S has launch control so you can get off the line in a glorious manner, should you bump into a Ford Fiesta ST200.

The Renault Clio is a car that has won the heart of many a petrol head due to its

The Renault Clio is a car that has won the heart of many a petrol head due to its

Of course tech is a must in this segment and the Renault Clio R.S comes chockablock with cool toys to keep the little boy or girl in you alive. The R.S Monitor for instance allows you to play with various vehicle settings. R.S Drive lets you choose between a Normal, Sport and Race mode, the same way you would in other luxury marques. A 7-inch infotainment screen comes standard with features like USB, Auxiliary input and Bluetooth streaming too. The car also includes a keyless card system for convenient access into the vehicle. Obviously one can expect that Renault would make systems such as ESC, ABS and EBD standard, which they have, so you can rest assured that you won’t lock up into a tree under heavy breaking.

The Renault Clio is a car that has won the heart of many a petrol head due to its

 

We’ve saved the best for last – the new Clio R.S’s looks. Hands down, this has got to be one of the nicest looking hot hatches available. Who can say their fog lamps are LED’s in the shape of a checkered flag? Only R.S drivers. Yes, Renault seems to always have their bravery suits on when it comes to styling their cars. For instance, why not slap on some Gold/Yellow gloss paint? We think it’s great. Now to the serious stuff though. The question that comes to mind when considering all the features in this car is; will all this new technology not come at a cost? That cost is old school driving thrills. This refers specifically to the EDC gearbox which is the only option you have in the car. Does it leave you wanting for a good old manual gearbox? We can only answer that question once we’ve driven the car. Until then, the Clio R.S makes for some good eye candy.

Prices:

Clio R.S 200 EDC LUX: R379 900

Clio R.S 200 EDC TROPHY: R419 900

 

  

Details on the limited edition Ford Fiesta ST200 in South Africa

Limited Edition Ford Fiesta ST200 available in South Africa

The Ford Fiesta is a very popular car among the younger generation in South africa and this can also be said for the sportier and faster ST variant. The Fiesta ST is a very rewarding hot hatch to drive, producing 134 kW in a fantastic chassis, making it a very good option for many a racey South African.

If you own or are thinking of buying a Fiesta ST, part of the reason for that purchase is that you want to be a little different and stand out amongst a sea of Polo GTI’s but still enjoy a rewarding drive. Unfortunately the Fiesta ST is also a very popular car, so you’re not going to be doing much standing out, then…

Ford Fiesta ST200 South Africa

This isn’t necessarily the case with Ford latest hot offering, the Fiesta ST200. This is a Fiesta one would definitely stand out in as Ford are only selling 160 of these units in South africa.

The Ford Fiesta ST200 gets a little bit more of everything over the standard ST. It has different styling, more power and and even better handling. It is also more expensive at R339 900 but for a car that’s more rare in South Africa than a VW Clubsport S, it may be worth the money.

Ford Fiesta ST200 South Africa

In the performance department, the Fiesta ST200 receives an increase in power from 134 kW to 149 kW or 200 bhp exactly. Torque also increases with an extra 50 N.m, bringing the total to 290 N.m. If that’s not enough, 20 Seconds of overboost is also available which produces an additional 11 kW and 30 N.m. That’s a total of 160 kW and 320 Nm – nice!

The additional power means a 0-100km/h time of 6.7 seconds with an electronically limited top speed of 230 km/h. Helping you get to that speed, in a safe environment of course, is a shorter 6th gear ratio.

Ford Fiesta ST200 South Africa

The suspension receives updates as well with revised damper specs, increased stiffness in the rear twist beam and a bigger diameter front anti-roll bar. New settings have also been included for the Electronic Power Assisted Steering to improve vehicle response. All in all, a fantastic handling hot hatch has been improved even further.

Ford Fiesta ST200 South Africa

We can’t forget to tell you about the unique exterior and interior design elements either. The Fiesta ST200 is only available in Storm Grey, a colour which has been specifically introduced for this model. This is offset by Matt Black 17” Alloys, Red brake calipers, LED rear taillights and ST200 badging.

Stepping inside, one will find heated Recaro sports seats, dual-tone seat belts, illuminated scuff plates and privacy glass from the rear windows.

Ford Fiesta ST200 South Africa

From the images, we can see that the Ford Fiesta ST200 is still quite understated and would not be easily recognizable to everyone. It is definitely a unique Fiesta ST and isn’t too badly priced when one considers that it will be scaring Golf GTI’s at the lights!

Our first drive of the Facelifted VW Golf 7.5 GTI

VW Golf 7.5 GTI

South African Launch: Facelifted VW Golf 7.5 GTI

 

Whenever a new Golf is launched, there is excitement beyond belief. First and foremost, it’s been widely regarded as the benchmark in its class and for good reason. Its brilliant! Whether you are starting a new job, transporting kids to and from school, or want a car so that you can have space for your grandkids, it’s the best all-rounder and has remained that way for the last couple of decades. The latest version, or “facelift” in normal terms may be a slight improvement on the current Golf 7, but those small changes make for strides in comfort, luxury and of cause, sportiness.

Updated VW Golf GTI

We flew out to Port Elizabeth to sample the latest version and more specifically, the GTI and my oh my. It’s like your hot friend that was already a looker but decided to go and get a trainer  for a full year, and has come back looking like a model for GQ magazine.

The changes to the new  VW Golf 7.5 GTI are small, but they certainly make you notice it. The “GTI Line” in red now gets broken up and hugs the new LED headlights. Traces of the honeycomb grille finish off the bottom of the LEDs and give the eyes a more aggressive look. The front and rear bumper have also been tweaked for a sportier appeal with the cherry on top being  the new lights with progressive indicators. Small changes as mentioned, but overall, a more svelte athlete.

Updated VW Golf GTI

In the interior, you are immediately greeted by the new LCD electronic display in the instrument binacle which can be adjusted to suit. The examples that we sampled featured  the Discover Pro Navigation, in which the maps and directions sit right in between the rev counter and tachometer for easy viewing. The Discover Pro Navigation also comes with a 9.2-inch screen for vehicle operation with full touch and gesture control. With my basketball player hands, I couldn’t master the system but my driving partner, being a lady with lady like hands, operated the system with ease and I’m sure that with enough practice, I’d soon get the hang of it. The system is iPhone ready with Apple CarPlay and is as easy as 1,2,3 to use. Android Auto has been enabled but South Africans will have to wait until their phones are ready, as the software on android devices has not been enabled yet.

Updated VW Golf GTI

We drove the cars from the airport and stopped over in Jansenville for some lunch. This was a  relatively short drive, thanks to the uprated 169 kW instead of the current 162 kW from the familiar 2.0-litre TFSI motor. Torque has stayed the same at 350 N.m but the vehicle feels more peppy and angrier than what the figures suggest. The GTI 7.5, as it’s locally known, has no problem with bumpier roads, even at more  illegal speeds and turns in like a GTI should. Seats are just the right mix of sporty and let’s-drive-to-Cape-Town-this-weekend comfortable. Even though I have a back that could have come from a 95-year-old war veteran, not once did I reach for the Myprodol.

Updated VW Golf GTI

After reaching the venue and reflecting on the very short drive of 247 kilometers, we settled in and I tried to find fault with the VW Golf 7.5 GTI as there must be at least one black mark and yes, I did find it. It no longer comes with a manual gearbox! The urban warriors having to deal with Sandton traffic have got to VW and convinced them that the manual was redundant and only DSG boxes are on the cards for sunny South Africa. Train smash for a stubborn mule like myself but in the long run, it’s the better decision.

Updated VW Golf GTI

With the whole range being refreshed, it called for some engine changes as well. The 1.2 TSI has been dropped in favour of the new 1.0 TSI in both Trendline and Comfortline packages. This motor should be very nimble at 81 kW and 200 N.m of torque. Next is the 1.4 TSI with the same torque figure but with a bit more juice at 92 kW. This has the option of the DSG gearbox and I’m sure from a comfort, power and pricing perspective, this will be the pick of the bunch. Next would be the GTI and added from July will be the GTD – the 130 kW & 350 N.m diesel 2.0 TDI, as well as the R version. We weren’t given the exact figures for the R but expect more from the flagship Vrrpha!

Once again, the standard has been set and to be honest, many cars will run the Golf close and one or two will be faster, but none can come close to what the Golf and specifically the  VW Golf 7.5 GTI can offer as an everyday package. Expect it to stand head and shoulders above the competition.

2017 Honda Civic Type R Nürburgring Record

2017 Honda Civic Type R Nurburgring Record

2017 HONDA CIVIC TYPE R SETS NEW FRONT-WHEEL DRIVE LAP RECORD AT NURBURGRING

When we were given the chance to sample the Honda Civic Type R last year, we were all completely astounded by how engaging and raw it was. What Honda had created was a sheer masterpiece in front-wheel drive performance and bore little resemblance to Nora, Albert, Rita and the rest of the bridge club’s favourite runabout – the Honda Civic. Sure you could spot a Civic somewhere beneath the garish wing and blacked out wheels, but these two cars really could not have been further apart. Not only did this vehicle find favour with just about everyone who drove it, it also set an astounding lap time around the Nordschleife, beating the previous FWD champion and setting a blistering time of 07:50.63.

2017 HONDA CIVIC TYPE R SETS NEW FRONT-WHEEL DRIVE LAP RECORD AT NURBURGRING

Here we are in 2017 and having had its trophy snatched away by the Golf GTI Clubsport S in 2016, the Type R has returned with a vengeance. Featuring the same 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder motor found in the previous generation Civic Type R, the unit now produces 236 kW but the same 400 N.m as before, all this thanks to a bit of an ECU tune and a snazzy new exhaust which actually makes it sound a bit like a 5-pot, mmmmm. You can have a listen to that at the end of this video.

2017 HONDA CIVIC TYPE R SETS NEW FRONT-WHEEL DRIVE LAP RECORD AT NURBURGRING

The new chassis also means an increase in torsional rigidity of an impressive 38% and the torsional beam rear setup of the old Type R is gone, having now been replaced by an independent, multi-link system. What this brings to the tea party is much improved stability and control at speed, as well as a lower, wider and longer wheelbase.

Having set a record time of 07:43.80, it is clear that all of those little upgrades have done their job – it shaved some 3 seconds off the time of the Clubsport S.

Now all that’s left to do is wait for it to arrive in South Africa which should be during the course of 2018. So, in what colour will you be having yours, then?

 

 

Another Ford Recall In South Africa : The Ford Fiesta ST

Ford Fiesta ST South African Recall

It would seem that Ford’s baby hot-hatch is quite a lot hotter than we had originally anticipated, with the recall that affected 4 556 Ford Kuga’s making use of the 1.6-litre GTDi EcoBoost motor now trickling down to the Fiesta ST which makes use of that very same motor. This comes mere moments after Ford issued a press release noting that 63% of the affected Kuga’s have been tended to.

The expansion of the recall affects some 1 078 Fiesta ST models, produced between September 2012 and December 2014. This makes one wonder, then, what change was implemented to models produced from December 2014 onwards and, more importantly, for what reason these changes were put in place…

In their statement, Ford SA said: “a lack of coolant circulation could cause an engine to overheat, resulting in a crack in the cylinder head. A cracked cylinder head can result in a pressurized oil leak. Oil that comes into contact with a hot engine surface increases the risk of a fire in the engine compartment.”

To resolve this, affected vehicles will receive hardware and software upgrades, consisting of the fitment of a coolant level sensor with supporting hardware and software changes, free of charge to customers. These parts will, however, only be available by the fourth quarter of 2017 which could mean a toasty winter for many a ST charna. Boets will all be informed as soon as they are able to book their cabbies in for repairs.

Ford say that these vehicles are safe to drive, however, at the first signs of overheating, be it warning lights or rising coolant temperatures, the vehicle should be pulled to the side of the road, debussed and the engine compartment left closed.

Owners are also urged to conduct regular inspections of the cooling system and should endeavour to maintain a 50:50 coolant-water ratio as an added precaution.

In the event of an emergency, emergency services should be contacted immediately, followed by Ford’s Roadside Assistance (0861 150 250) a service which is available 24/7.

New Ford Fiesta ST in South Africa

2018 will see the arrival of the all-new Ford Fiesta ST aka the Ultra Mobile and if you listen carefully, you can already hear all the boets fist-pumping in anticipation of this auspicious occasion!

2018 Fiesta ST

Big news is that this new model is the first ever Ford Performance vehicle to make use of a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder motor and, while sharing a platform with the model it replaces, is the first Fiesta to feature selectable drive modes, enabling steering, engine and stability controls to be configured to Normal, Sport and Track modes. Yoh boet!

Unfortunately, along with the drive modes, we’ll have to put up with Ford’s nauseating and quite frankly miserable Electronic Sound Enhancement Technology which, in short, makes a dreary and depressing come through the vehicle’s speaker system in order to artificially enhance the sound of the engine. We have already been unfortunate enough to endure this in both the 2.3 Ecoboost and 5.0 V8 Mustangs and there’s not much to say really other than no. Just no.

2018 Ford Fiesta ST

Outputs of 149 kW and 290 N.m. are hugely impressive from a 3-cylinder motor and if you are able to block out Martin Garrix and the shocking sound enhancement, you might even be able to hear a fruity and characterful 3-pot thrum coming from within the engine bay on your sprint from 0-100 km/h which will take 6.7 seconds. A clever little motor, it is also able to shut off one of its cylinders during low-load conditions in order to save fuel, an industry first in a 3-cylinder motor, and thus resulting in emissions as low as 114 g/km.

The current generation Fiesta ST met much praise when launched in 2013 and was even crowned as Top Gear’s Car of the Year 2013. Unsurprisingly then, it still sells in droves to this day thanks to its loyal following of tank top owners and rave-goers. It also has one of the best front-wheel-drive chassis’ money can buy so it’s a good thing then that this will be carried over to the new model.

2018 Ford Fiesta ST

There is no word on pricing yet but we can expect to see the first units in South Africa during the first half of 2018.