Category: Safety

We drive the new Suzuki Ignis

Suzuki Ignis

On launch with the new Suzuki Ignis

I would have loved to have been in the room when the briefing on the new Suzuki Ignis was created. It would have been quite the meeting when the car designs came in. It would have been a shock, but a good one, I thought as I sat on a flight from Jozi Town to the beautiful, but waterless Cape Town for the local media launch of Suzuki’s latest vehicle!

We arrived in a semi-wet Cape Town in the evening and then made our way to a studio which could only be described as a “watch this space” moment for SA television where the Ignis launch happened. Besides the culling of a few local beers from the waiter, the night ran without glitch and when the Ignis was revealed halfway through a light supper, we were greeted by a design that is nothing short of amazing and youthful, backed by one of my favorite tunes, “Hey Hey” by Dennis Ferrer danced to by some “Panstula dancers”.

So, what do you get with this new offering from our Japanese friends? For a price of R169 000 of your hard earned Madiba’s, you get a Crossover hatchback with the 1.2-litre four-pot, an engine from the Suzuki Swift, with a power output of 61 kW and 113 N.m and yes, this won’t get you a new quarter mile record, but will keep up with traffic surprisingly well, and that is aided by having a kerb weight of just 850 kilograms. This translated into some good fuel numbers too, but to be honest, pointed into some curvy roads in the Cape, that went out of the window as we wanted to see what this little offering from Suzuki could do. This little car has a design that is robust and harks back to Suzuki’s from yesteryear.

In the Cape air, the little Suzuki Ignis immediately blazed its way from the beautiful accommodation in Tableview towards wine county. From a convenience perspective, you immediately feel at home as all you need is your phone cable and the vehicle comes alive as you have connection with ease. Being six foot and still carrying weight from December, space is not an issue but I did fail the “sit behind you test” thanks to my awkward torso to leg ratio. The model that we had was the GLX version which is the top of range model. The motor is the same but the changes are the spec level and for the extra amount of R20 000, you get among other things, LED headlights, as well as daytime running lights, folding electric mirrors, auto aircon, you get the drift. For an entry level vehicle, the Ignis is very well specced and you find yourself lacking for very little. Chasing the Suzuki Ignis through some very windy roads, highlighted that you will not be getting a dull drive. Most cars in this segment suffer from a surprising amount of understeer dialed into the chassis for safety reasons but we found this little car to be very flat though the corners and would welcome more power to explore the chassis a bit more.

There is an auto variant of the Ignis which Suzuki does stress is not a conventional Auto with a torque convertor but rather, a manual clutch system that has it clutch operated by robotics. All I could hear here was BMW’s SMG gearbox that had you nodding all over town and almost crashing while trying to parallel park. Hopefully, this will not be the case with the Suzuki Ignis and we will get to sample this gearbox in due course. We ended up at a wine farm which was a lunch and wine tasting (read responsible) were at the backdrop of one if the oldest family run wine farms in South Africa, the Ignis was right at home. We left the venue running slightly behind schedule heading direction airport and this spirited drive through some glorious roads proved that this will be a loved little car that will be fun to drive on a daily basis.

Knowing the South African market, Suzuki needs to market this little car well as if people get to experience it, they will sell loads of these. Being a car community that is very brand conscious who tends to favour the hijack favorite Polo Vivo, people need to look at other makes and realise that there is life, and awesome cars outside Germany and this little Ignis proves that. You get Japanese reliability, cheeky and quirky design and the 2017 European World Urban Car of the year and you have a recipe for success. Open your eyes SA, you have and awesome little car right under your noses. Test-drive one and see what we are talking about!

Volvo’s Pilot Assist in South Africa – Does It Work?

Volvo's Pilot Assist

We test out Volvo’s Pilot Assist on South African roads.

With autonomous driving being the latest technology craze to enter the automotive industry, many car manufacturers are jumping on the band wagon and giving it a go. In South Africa, the likes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Volvo all have vehicles on the road with semi-autonomous driving features.

I recently spend over 1 000 km behind the wheel of a Volvo S90, which has their semi-autonomous driving system called “Pilot Assist” fitted as standard.

Volvo’s Pilot Assist works in conjunction with the Adaptive Cruise Control and controls speed, braking, the distance from the vehicle in front and steering, with the latter being for 15 seconds before it requires human intervention.

As long as there are clear line markings on either side of the vehicle, Pilot Assist will work very well. The driver still needs to keep proper attention to the road and after 15 seconds, a hand needs to be placed on or touch the steering wheel for the system to remain active. The system also works on slight bends that one may encounter on the road, but it is best to keep the your hands steering wheel as on a slightly sharper bend the vehicle tends to drift wide.

The Pilot Assist system is very effective for long distance driving. I used it extensively on a road trip from Durban to JHB and found that the Adaptive Cruise Control, which works in conjunction with Pilot Assist, is probably one of the best I have used. For example, when using ACC and planning to overtake, enabling the indicator causes the vehicle to prepare itself for acceleration. As the move is made, the car begins to accelerate smoothly and efficiently . I’ve tested systems before that would not begin accelerating until the car has completed its move to the next lane with no obstruction ahead. This results in waiting for what seems like hours before the vehicle kicks down and gets going. If the road is busy, it also results in other drivers flying up behind, headlights flashing… you know the sort. So, this is a feature which I greatly appreciated.

Pilot Assist also excels when stuck in traffic – think of the commute to work in one of our busy cities. This system removes the obligation of constantly being on the accelerator or brake pedal while crawling along at 20 km/h. Pilot Assist will also make slight steering adjustments as the car creeps forward so one can sit back, relax and enjoy Swedish luxury.

It is not just a gadget, it’s something a driver can use everyday to make their journey that little bit easier. Adaptive Cruise Control works up to 200 km/h with Pilot Assist having a 130 km/h limit. The system isn’t perfect, but it definitely is a giant leap in the right direction.

 

Watch an animation of Volvo’s Pilot Assist below:

On a roll: Volvo’s new XC60 revealed.

The new era Volvo’s has already managed to revitalise the brand, making them no longer cars that appeal to a specific group of people.  The edgy designs of the XC90 and newly launched S90 both inside and out have proved that Volvo means business. These cars though are not the most important Volvo’s in the stable, rather the smaller XC60 has been the glory child for the brand. With over one million units sold globally since 2008, it’s safe to say the outgoing XC60 was a hit. The new version will hopefully be a worthy follow up. If it’s anything like its siblings, we’re confident that current Volvo owner s will love it, as well as newer and younger audiences.

The new XC60 carries on the simplicity of the new Volvos, with its engine line up. A variety of 2 litre petrol and diesel engines will be on offer. For those looking for a faster XC60, you’ll be happy to know that the T8 twin engine variant will be offered, packing a healthy 300kW of electric and petrol power.

For diesel lovers, the D5 has not been left out, giving you 173kW and PowerPulse technology.  Power aside, a Volvo would not be a Volvo without safety being at the forefront of its design. Technologies we’ve come to know such as City Safety will make their way into the new XC60, only this time there will be an added Steer Assist feature. The awesome Pilot Assist will definitely not be left out, allowing the driver to experience  a semi-autonomous mode until 130km/h.

Aesthetic appeal of the new XC60 is obviously subjective but we think it maintains the modern loveliness of current Volvos of today. It may not be the prettiest as the XC90 is stunning, but it sure is handsome. Seeing  the new XC60 live will be the determining factor as the S90 was a huge surprise because it looks much more stately in the flesh. Stay tuned to hear more developments around this car in the future, as it will be very relevant for its segment.

The practical choice: Suzuki Ertiga

The practical choice: Suzuki Ertiga.

Truth be told, there isn’t much in terms of appeal when it comes to people carriers. Cars that are built to fit as many individuals as possible normally look like taxis, and they’re often beige in colour too. Think of the Toyota Avanza, I haven’t seen a single one of them in any other colour besides beige and not once have I seen a happy family going on holiday in one. Instead, looks of fear and dismay are the expressions of occupants in an Avanza, purely because the taxi driver is normally attempting a life-threatening stunt.

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The smaller seven seating market is not one full of competition, though. If you were looking for something along those lines and you didn’t want the taxi driver stigma of the Toyota, you could choose a Suzuki.  The Ertiga is a car that can fulfil all your needs and the test car we received also happened to be beige. If I must be honest, when the car arrived at my offices I didn’t care much for it. The timing worked out that I had a fancier sports car with much more power at my disposal. Being young, you want to maintain a particular image, and the image of a crèche owner versus that of a successful businessman didn’t appeal to me. But it was only after a day of using all the fuel in my suave sports car, did the motor journalist in me kick in, and I did what all of us do…find the vehicle with the most amount of fuel in it. My personal car never has fuel in it because as mentioned, I am but a lowly journalist. So just like that, I had to swallow my pride and drive the Uber van.

Like any modern Suzuki, the Ertiga doesn’t scream excitement when you enter. What it does do is offer an ergonomically friendly setup. A radio that works easily, an air-conditioner that doesn’t require a degree and a Bluetooth system that easy to operate. After pairing up my phone and buckling in, I was set to find passengers, something the Ertiga needs for it to make sense. Naturally, I tried to find occupants that wouldn’t judge the fact that my social status had dropped immensely from the sports car driver to the delivery man. So I fetched my mother and siblings and off we went. The Ertiga’s 1.4-litre engine is not underpowered, but nor is it spritely. It’s around the middle where it’s just enough not to annoy you. It only has 70kW after all. The ride quality is as good as my couch, you don’t really know what’s going on under you, but you don’t care because it’s comfortable. Besides who wants to race around in a people carrier besides taxi drivers?

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The two most notable aspects of the Suzuki Ertiga is the practicality of the car and the fact that it runs on smiles and laughter. No seriously, in the week we had it, the car barely used any fuel. In fact, it’s so good on fuel I decided to park the sports car and use it every day because fuel savings over power win every day in the minds of cheap journalists. It’s not just journalists who think this way, though; the average person does too. This is where you see why this car makes sense for the person looking for its attributes. Some need a seven seater for business, others because of endless procreation. Whatever your reason is, surely you’ll want the car to be fuel efficient too. In the case of the Ertiga it’s fortunate to be more visually appealing than the Avanza, but maybe not as nice looking as Honda’s new BRV. The point we’re making is this, if you need the space and a measure of reliability at a reasonable price, the Ertiga is not a bad choice, it’s a practical one. You can also have it in another colour besides brown.

Prices:

Ertiga 1.4 GA: R189 900

Ertiga 1.4 GL: R215 900

Ertiga 1.4 GL AT: R231 900

Suzuki Baleno Launch

Suzuki launched its newest model last week, the Baleno. Believe it or not, there are two previous versions of this car that I am too young to remember, so this makes it Baleno number 3.

After a small 4 hour delay in Durban airport, we arrived in PE at 11 pm; this is when I first set my eyes on the Baleno, under the orange evening lights I made out the front end of Suzuki’s new hatch, Interesting, I thought. The next day I grabbed a proper look at the new Baleno, the design is of this vehicle is what Suzuki call ” Optical Flow,” it’s different and I liked the front end design of this car, the rear end not so much. I sometimes feel Suzuki are slightly missing the mark with vehicle design, the Swift Sport has always looked great and is the best looking car Suzuki make, the new Vitara Is also a looker, but some of the other Suzuki models lack in the looks department.

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The Baleno is not replacing the Swift; rather it gives another option to customers who find the rear passenger and boot areas in the Swift not spacious enough. It’s a bigger car which can be seen visibility from the inside and out when compared to a Suzuki Swift. Intriguingly,though, it’s also 110kg lighter. The Baleno will feature the 1.4 67kw engine found in other model variants and will come as GL and GLX models, with the option of a 4-speed auto in the GLX.

The GLX features exterior changes over the GL such as HID projector headlights and daytime running lights, chrome accents all around, front fog lamps, indicator signals in the mirrors, a rear spoiler and privacy glass for the rear windows.  The GLX also features 16-inch alloy wheels and rear disc brakes, with the GL only featuring rear drums.  The main interior changes with the GLX is the 6-inch color screen, and while the instrument cluster remains the same, Suzuki has added another color display, this time only 4-inches, which shows various driving data.  Keyless go is also a feature on the GLX,  along with fully automatic aircon and rear parking sensors. Safety wise, the GLX features six airbags to the GL’s mere two.

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Suzuki has priced this car competitively with the Baleno starting at R199,990 for the GL, R229,000 for the GLX and R244,900 for the GLX Auto. The new Baleno is covered by a standard three-year/100 000 km warranty, as well as a four-year/60 000 km service plan.

I enjoyed the drive in this car, and there are some features I liked, and some that I didn’t like so much, which I will discuss in my in-depth driving review in edition 07 of the TheMotorist digital mag. If you wish, you can subscribe here: TheMotorist Digital Magazine.

 

 

Launch Drive: Volvo V40 Face-lift.

Pilates, Woolworths, Goji-berry smoothies and gym tights traditionally sprung to mind at the utterance of the Volvo brand. Volvo South Africa recently invited us to Cape Town to remind us that this in fact, is not the case. When the V40 was launched in 2012 it signalled a new era for Volvo, but was an awkward mid-way stepping-stone between the woeful Ford era Volvo and what the Swedes refer to as the ‘New Dawn’ under Geely ownership. The XC90 was the first Volvo to see the crafty pencil work of Thomas “something or another” and now, with a bit of tracing paper and some new crayons, he’s had his way with the face-lift V40. It was never an ugly car and was arguably the ‘premium-hatch’ segment’s best kept secret, so you’ll probably be pleased to know, that remains the case. Yay!

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These days buying a premium hatch is much like a foray into the delightful world of confectionery selection. We all love a good cup of Joe, but everyone has varying tastes when it comes to what accompanies their brew…bru. So picture this – the BMW 1 Series is a croissant, without jam. The jam is optional and will cost you a lot of money but the basic product, even without jam, is a pointy, sharp and well-rounded thing that does the job brilliantly. Something every man and his dog can attest to.

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In the less exciting corner, we have the Audi A3 which without wasting time, isn’t that tasty. It instils an excitement much akin to that of a “Banting” option in the confectionery stand. That being said, it is very well built and solid. Mercedes-Benz offers their A-Class and GLA which to me are like a chocolate chip cookie…until you experience their Renault engines or harsh ride quality, only to realise that those chocolate chips were, in fact, raisins – oh the deception!

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Infiniti is keeping ‘mum’ about their Q30 which, apart from being a Merenault-Benzissan, will probably be a bit like a Pick ‘n Pay cake – it does the job, but it’s not the real thing and you know that what everyone actually wants is a Woolies cake.

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And so we are left with the Volvo. It can be fast or frugal and is very well built. Not quite as well built as an Audi, but definitely more rounded than a 1 Series. As for standard equipment, it just blows all its competitors out of the water. Pricing is pretty good too, starting at R337 700 for the T3 Manual Kinetic (it has very ugly wheels) and creeping up to R526 900 for the T5 AWD Geartronic Cross Country. Unbeknownst to many, it features 180kW and 350NM, which will give a few “boets” in their GTI’s a serious fright.

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Also new are an array of Polestar performance parts which are in essence “go-faster” bits that also look cool. Ranging from software to wheels and even a full exhaust system which sounds killer on just about any of the models. Pick of the bunch for me would be a Cross Country D4 which also pulls like a stabbed rat, thanks to its torquey disposition and the brilliant ZF 8-speed Gearbox.

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It might not be as dynamic as the rear-wheel-drive BMW 1 Series or as expensive as the Mercedes-Benz (because expensive seems to be in at the moment), but if you’re looking for unparalleled safety, value for money or a brown Volvo, then this is the car for you. Or your mum.

Suzuki Vitara meets a Tzaneen road trip.

A different holiday with a different car:

Is it just us, or does it feel like the last three months have gone by quicker than one can say the word  “holiday”? Yes it feels like a mere few weeks ago when the Johannesburg roads were quiet, the Durban roads were congested and the Cape Town roads were riddled with “Vaalies”. Fast forward three months later and we’ve hit another holiday season, one that is even more stressful than the one that precedes it, simply because of time constraints. The Christmas holidays give us enough time and money to spend numerous Rands on plane tickets, accommodation, and car hire. Whereas the Easter holidays are only a few days, there is no salary bonus and the school holidays are much shorter.

So where does this leave one in terms of choosing the right holiday destination? Especially in an unstable economic climate? Well a few months ago, we decided to embark on an alternate weekend getaway plan, one that did not involve the coast and peak season flights. Instead, we opted on a three-hour road trip to the ever so green town of Tzaneen located in the Polokwane region. The car used for this trip? Again we didn’t opt for a luxurious German SUV or a British seven seating vehicle. We got behind the wheel of the newly launched 1.6 litre Suzuki Vitara and proceeded to loaded the boot with the following items: Five sleeping bags, four tog bags (filled with all the necessities), numerous pillows, an espresso maker and of course, a burr grinder.

And off we went:

Now you may think that the 86kW engine of the Vitara would barely cope with a fully loaded boot and five humans, one of them who has not seen a gym in months. Surprisingly on the very straight road to Polokwane, the Vitara comfortably cruised along at legal (and not so legal) speeds. With a car full of humans, the air-conditioner and seating comfort play a vital role on the joy/annoyance levels of the occupants.

In the case of the Vitara, the air-conditioning proved so effective, we had to turn it down in the dead of summer, mind you this was amidst high energy car karaoke. When the endorphins from the chocolate finally abated and drowsiness came into play, our back seat occupants slumbered away like well-fed babies whilst the co-pilot and I chatted away about life, the economy and teenage heart breaks (you know, road trip stuff). Meanwhile the frugal Vitara steadily carried on silently, not disturbing our deep conversation or our dreaming passengers.

After driving a straight road for hours, we finally entered into Polokwane, our destination was now only 70Km’s away. This is where things got interesting because on route to Tzaneen is one the most stunning roads in the country, the Magoebaskloof pass. How would our humble friend do on this twisty road? The first few corners awakened our sleeping passengers, sudden silence filled the vehicle as I tried my best to get the most out of the Vitara without causing car sickness.

How did it do?

Dynamically the Suzuki Vitara does not disappoint one bit, as a compact SUV it’s fun, responsive and playful. The small engine did require a higher gear during the mountain pass and yes I did wish for more power but the car was fully loaded with passengers and luggage. Eventually we arrived at our accommodation for the night, the real test was happening the next day, driving to a camp site which required going through ten kilometres of gravel road.

The next morning our local friends had this look of worry in their eyes. Eventually they tried to convince me to leave the Vitara at our previous nights stop over, simply because they were unsure if the “cute” little car would make it. I reminded them of the lineage of this car and its sibling the Jimny, which has embarrassed many larger SUV’s on the dirt. They agreed and told me it was at my own risk. So off we went, a Toyota Hilux, a Toyota Prado and us in our the Suzuki Vitara in tow. A few kilometres in, my friends remarked at how each time they looked in their rear view mirror, all they saw was a red little car keeping up. Some spots required careful planning, with the bigger cars taking their time.

We simply sang along to our Bluetooth streamed music and gently got over whatever obstacle was in our way, similar to how the Jimny clears most off road obstacles. The thing about these Suzuki’s is that they have size on their side and extremely capable off-road abilities. By the time we reached our camp site, our Toyota Hilux driving friend could only sing the Vitara’s praises and any car person will know how difficult it is to convince a Hilux a driver.

Home time:

A few days later, we were on our way home. Once we reached Johannesburg, only having used a tank and a half of fuel, we all looked proudly at the Vitara. Not only had we not damaged a single thing on the GL+ we drove fitted with the Rugged Package, we all had a comfortable trip to and from our destination. We didn’t spent tons of money, we didn’t travel for long hours and we had lots of fun.

In the current economic climate, many are looking at buying down to save costs. Many are also looking at cutting down on expensive holidays. Stunning areas like Tzaneen and cars like the Suzuki Vitara give us hope that it’s not all doom and gloom. For a few thousand rand one can have a great weekend away. Similarly at a starting price of R239 900, one can get a great looking, capable and reliable compact SUV. If buying down for you means getting into a car like the new Vitara, then all we can say is happy savings.

Connect, Stow and Drive.

Is a Tweet, Text or Instagram post worth it?

Cell phones are a part of our lives, they are like a vital organ that we can’t do without. When we work, socialize, gym, go to bed and wake up, our phones are with us. There are also with us when we drive unfortunately. Using a phone whilst driving has been illegal for as long as we can remember, but it doesn’t stop the vast majority of us from texting, Whatsapping, calling or emailing while operating a vehicle. We have all been guilty of this offence at some point.

The chances of a person being caught using a cell phone while driving is very slim and similarly, we may think the chances of a serious accident are also pretty slim. What we may not realize is that 1 out of every 4 accidents are caused because of mobile phone usage. Take note of the true story below:

A delivery worker was driving on a busy highway called the A500 ,which is located in the Midlands area of the UK. While he was travelling in the outside lane at a speed of 60 mph (around 120 kph), the driver failed to notice the traffic ahead slowing down and stopping. Why? He was using his mobile phone. The Outcome? Sadly the delivery van ploughed full speed into a BMW 5 Series that was stopped in the traffic. This then started a “domino effect” and caused the BMW to hit the car in front and the forces killed the driver. The driver was not the only one affected, though, his wife of twenty-four years lost her husband and their two children lost their father.

The driver of the van didn’t wake up that day thinking he would ruin not only his own life but also the life of four other people. All this happened from a simple “mistake”. The van driver was not an evil person, he did not mean to kill anyone but he broke the law, and he had to face the consequences. A split second can change lives on the road and by using your mobile phone whilst driving, you are putting not only yourself but others in danger too.

If you have a Bluetooth system, which is very common in new vehicles today, then please set it up before you start to drive and stow your phone in a place out of sight. This will ensure that you’re not tempted to use it. Emails and messages can wait until you finish your journey and if it’s very urgent, you have the hands free system available to communicate. On long distance journeys, you can make regular stops at a fuel station if you feel the need to check your phone.

Why take the chance of ruining multiples lives for a message, a tweet or an Instagram post? You could be that driver that we spoke about in that story. Nobody wants an outcome like that weighing on their mind for the rest of their life. So please, connect it, stow it and drive safe Motorists

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Exploring in the Chevrolet Trailblazer

For the explorer: Chevrolet’s Trailblazer.

If you and your loved ones are in the habit of exploring, you will know that a small hatchback or sedan might not get the job done for your needs. In most cases, a large vehicle is required in order to fit the luggage, the tents, the skottel-braai and of course the people. This is where a car like the Chevrolet Trailblazer comes in. With a high ground clearance, mansion like space and a good old reliable diesel in the front, it can make exploring look like a walk in the park.

How does it drive?

Being a large vehicle, the driver needs to be aware of the fact that this is no city car when it comes to size. A class in parking may be needed to learn how to park the car in small shopping mall parking spaces. Also if you happen to not be blessed with a basketball players’ height, get used to plummeting to the ground each time you get out of your Trailblazer. Besides that, the car drives very well, comfortable enough for day to day activities and of course very comfortable on the open road, presuming this is where you will spend most of your time in the car.

What we loved most about the way the Trailblazer drives, is how the car didn’t suffer too much from body roll, which is good for tackling sweeping bends on far away roads. The 2.8 litre Duramax diesel engine fitted in our test unit didn’t disappoint us one bit as well. The 500 Nm of  torque was delivered in a timeous manner and the automatic gearbox is well mated to the engine too. Interestingly, one would not expect a car of this size to use a 4 cylinder engine, but times have clearly changed and the engine in the Trailblazer is in no way underpowered for the mass of the car.

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Practicality.

One of the most appealing qualities about the Chevrolet trailblazer, has got to be vast amount of useable space that the car offers. The car is a real seven seater vehicle, with seven adults being able to sit comfortably in the car. Some seven seat vehicles merely pose as “seven seaters” but in reality the last two seats are as big as those found in a 911 Porsche.

Up front the dashboard in the Trailblazer is not exactly fancy, it’s more functional than luxurious. That being said, the lack of expensive finishes has not impaired things like connectivity since the MyLink infotainment system allows you to pair your cell phone and enjoy all your road trip music.

One cannot judge the Chevrolet Trailblazer on not having a premium feel, instead the car has a boy/girl next door appeal to it. It’s not meant for pavement climbing, it’s meant for proper exploring. For its purpose, the lack of low profile tyres and shiny wheels makes perfect sense because African roads and low profile tyres should never be in the same sentence, nor should burr wood trim and mud.

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Verdict.

After considering what Chevrolet’s Trailblazer is built for, one realises just why this car makes a whole lot of sense. Add all that to a starting price of R 451 000 and the car starts to make even more sense for an explorer or someone with an extended family. All that space and practicality for that starting price? We say for what you get, the Chevrolet Trailblazer is indeed a bargain.

 

Driven: BMW’s new 7 Series

The art of luxury: BMW’s new 7 Series

In the world of art, artists often use their works to reveal what thoughts and feelings are going on in their creative minds. Their art becomes a means of communication between the viewer and themselves and how the artist wants to be perceived. For well acclaimed artists there is often that one work that most people remember them for. This work acts as a flagship for the artist, regarded as their best by the public. If cars were viewed the same way artworks are, the F-luxury segment would surely be regarded as the “pièce de résistance” for all car makers who participate in that segment. For BMW, the 7 Series has occupied that role as the flagship vehicle for the manufacturer.  After seven years, the outgoing 7 Series has been laid to rest and a new model has taken over the reign.

One word comes to mind when looking at the length of the car, the elongated nose and of course, the large chrome kidney grille. That word is presidential. Simplicity was of upmost importance when designing the car and it worked well to create an appealing shape that is both modern and classic.

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The most visually appealing exterior package is what BMW calls Design Pure Excellence. Chrome inserts around the whole vehicle and large shiny wheels make a statement that this is indeed a luxury car. The previous car had an understated look to it that was overshadowed by the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Now with the new 7 Series, you can park the vehicle next to the current S-Class and battle to choose one, because they both have that parliamentary look to them.

One automatically expects to see drivers in black suits standing outside the vehicle, waiting to open doors for you. Interestingly, that is exactly what happened on the last leg of our journey in the car when we were chauffeured to the airport. This allowed us to envision a life as a one of the “one percent” and it helped us draw the conclusion that the back seat of the new BMW 7 Series is one of its most prominent features.

The blend of technology, beauty and comfort come together to create such a good experience you wouldn’t mind being driven in your 7 series all the time. Optional electrically adjustable seats, rear entertainment screens and a detachable centre tablet would undoubtedly keep you very entertained until you reached your destination.

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Should you wish to drive the car yourself, you wouldn’t be sorry. Large vehicles have a tendency to make the driver very aware of the mass that is being controlled by their hands. This is not the case in  the new 7 Series. The loss of 130 kg’s due to BMW’s Carbon Core design has made the new car feel nimble, direct and malleable enough to easily navigate through corners at high speeds. From a dynamic point of view, BMW’s formula has not changed in the new 7 Series. The biggest difference between this car and the one it succeeds are the technological advancements that have been made.

Semi autonomous driving is something BMW have taken very seriously in the new car. The best part is that it actually works. Small steering inputs can be felt at each corner, breaking is applied and acceleration too when Steering and Lane Control assist is activated as well as Adaptive Cruise Control. Having these two assists on whilst on an open road allow you to enjoy your music ever more so through speakers supplied by Bowers and Wilkins or Harman Kardon, the choice is yours.

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Obviously you can’t enjoy your sound system if your ride quality is poor. Hence why BMW have equipped the new 7 Series with various suspension damping settings. The double air suspension in the car allows you to toggle between two Sport Modes, two Comfort Modes and a completely new Adaptive Mode that adjusts itself between a sporty and comfortable driving setting depending on how you’re driving.

Another very exciting feature in the new 7 Series is the Smart Key. The larger than normal key features a small colour screen that informs the driver of some useful information about the car. Don’t you hate it when you enter a car that has been sitting in the sun for a few hours? 7 Series owners won’t have to worry about that since the Smart key allows the driver to activate the fan before you enter into the car. Fuel range and other information can be seen by the driver long before they enter the car. The coolest feature available in the Smart key is Remote Parking. One can reverse their vehicle out of a parking lot without physically being in the car. Unfortunately South African specified vehicles do not have that feature available yet, but be prepared to see it in the near future.

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The next few months will also bring us the most exciting power plant in the range, the 750i/750Li. At the launch we had available the 730d and the 740i, both extremely capable engines that never left us longing for more power or torque. So why would the 750i be necessary you may wonder? For the level of client buying a car like this, it’s often a case of having the best. So even though the 240kW/450Nm in the 740i may be enough power, or the 650Nm/195kW in the 730d may do the job,  having 330kW/650Nm in the 750i make the world of a difference when it comes to driving the best.

BMW as the artist in our illustration want us to see that technology is at the forefront of their new cars. Using technologies from their i-Products and incorporating them in all their cars is something we can expect to see in the future. At the same time BMW wants us to see that they have not lost sight of the dynamic aspects of their cars, even with a large car like the 7 Series. This car or “work” is an opportunity to show-off the brand to customers. It’s to show us where the future of BMW is going whilst keeping elements of the car that made customers fall in love with the brand in the past.

Have they executed their vision through this “artwork” effectively? After spending some time in the front seat, driving the car fast and slow as well as using many of its technologies. And then to change roles and be driven in the rear of the car and imagine what life would be like as a back seat passenger. We can definitely say that the new 7 Series is BMW’s Mona Lisa.

Pricing:

730d:  R 1 356 500

740i:   R 1 339 000

750i:   R 1 755 000

750Li: R 1 893 500