Tag: The Motorists

Honda Civic

Honda Civic Driven Review

Motorist Digital Magazine – Edition 08

There are few things in this world which are more reliable than a Honda. I have often said that not even a playschool teacher could rival Honda’s sterling reputation for trustworthiness, and that is quite a statement to make! In the same breath, though, one may argue that aside from their fast cars, of which there aren’t very many, Honda’s are a bit pedestrian. This is something which has traditionally been mirrored in their buyer base aka the zimmer-frame brigade. Granny and Grandpa love a good Honda and that’s not a bad thing! You see, unless your mum or dad were begotten of a rock and roll legend or drug abusing good for nothing, grandparents tend to be rather sensible people, and we all know that a sensible motorist is a clever motorist. Motoring is not a cheap exercise, so why not buy a car that’s both practical and reliable?

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Sensible and petrolhead are very seldom uttered in the same sentence and that can be attributed to the fact that you’d sooner find a turbocharger or a new intake in my Christmas sock than a Christmas cake or whatever normal people like as sock-fillers. I am, then, the very last person you’d ever expect to see smiling in a sensible Honda so you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to see my pearly whites gleaming back at me in the rearview mirror of the all-new Honda Civic.

The new Civic is a very good looking car with its swoopy headlights and sloping roofline – thankfully the drive is as pleasant as it is to look at. The model range is made up of three models, namely Comfort, Sport and Elegance. The Comfort model is powered exclusively by a 1.8 litre NA motor delivering 104Kw and 174Nm. It’s a powerplant with which we’re familiar and while you won’t be winning any post-bowls drag races, it does a god job in the Civic. The Elegance model can be had with the same 1.8-litre motor or Honda’s new and much praised 1.5 litre turbo unit. The Sport model is only available with this motor and what a powerplant it is. 127kW (170bhp) and 220Nm are the figures and when provoked, it’ll hustle the Civic from 0-100km/h in a not too shabby 8.2 seconds, yet return a claimed fuel consumption of just 5.9l/100km. I managed an average of 7l/100km during my week with the car which isn’t terribly far off.

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The only gearbox available is a CVT and while I generally liken CVT’s to a trip to the dentist, the low-down torque and linear power delivery of the 1.5 litre turbo-four lends itself well to the droning CVT’s efficient nature. In fact, you hardly notice that it’s a CVT while pottering around and when you floor it, you’re rewarded with a continuous surge of acceleration without the changing of gears, just like in a Koenigsegg Regera. Sort of.

What I liked most about the new Civic wasn’t its punchy motor, eye-catching looks or technology-laden interior, what got to me was just how easy it is to like. My first car was in fact a Honda. Sold as a Civic overseas and a Ballade in South Africa, the SR4 in code speak, was a real crowd pleaser in Luxline trim with its grey leather and electric windows. The new Civic reminded me of this, as well as why people buy them. My gran bought hers because she said it had “nice lines” and after she shuffled off it was passed down, eventually finding itself in my garage.  I still have it and it’s as good as new, barring a few bumps and dents from when Rosemary went blind and started driving by sound.

What I hope for this new Civic, though, is that not only the elderly and sensible will take to it, but everyone shopping in its segment. It really has come a long way from the previous generation model which was wonderful all on its own. Not only is the new Civic reliable, practical and sensible, it’s now exciting!

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Pricing:

Civic Sedan 1.8 Comfort – R330 000
Civic Sedan 1.8 Elegance – R370 000
Civic Sedan 1.5T Sport – R430 000
Civic Sedan 1.5T Elegance – R460 000

 

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Opel MOKKA X: In tune with it’s siblings.

To be honest, I was not the biggest fan of the previous Opel Mokka. There was nothing particularly wrong with the car; it just felt much older than the current offering by Opel, which is very technology driven. Opel’s recent rebranding has completely changed the face of the brand. Cars which were beginning to become irrelevant have all of a sudden become the some of the smartest and best looking in each segment they operate in. The Adam, for instance, is a car that rivals more premium products and offers even more features than its competitors. That is why when I first drove a Mokka a year ago, I felt underwhelmed because I had already sampled the new Opel’s.

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Upping the standard:

The updated MOKKA X looks similar to the first model regarding body shape, but the front end has been completely redesigned. The design language used in the current Opel Astra can be clearly seen on the car. Edgy lines make the exterior modern and more in tune with its siblings. The interior has also been revamped, adding optional nifty touch screen infotainment systems that can be integrated with an Apple or Android device with ease.  The seating position in the MOKKA X is perfect for a family orientated car, which it is. It also offers plenty of space bags, groceries and of course, babies. The rear 60/40 split also make it easy to load larger objects in the car, so it makes a great deal of sense from a practicality perspective.  As much as the car looks more like an MPV, Opel claims the car to be a compact SUV. The “X” in MOKKA X will be seen more in the future in other SUV models to be launched by Opel.

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Tech it out:

Opel has become famous for packing premium technology in cars aimed at the masses. Again this was seen in cars like the Opel Adam and Corsa. The MOKKA X now joins the team. Like the current Opel Astra, lighting technology is one of the most prominent changes in the car. The optional system features full LED beams that are adaptive and 30% brighter than the halogen system. The system is similar to that used in premium SUV’s, whereby it can selectively illuminate specific things. It also features eight different modes for whatever driving scenario you’re in. Features such as Tourist Mode, Country light and Town light make for a versatile system for long distance trips and city driving. When it comes to media, the top of the range IntelliLink system, available on the Cosmo derivative features navigation and Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto integration.

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Same engine, different models:

Throughout the entire range, the MOKKA X features the 1.4 turbocharged engine that’s been doing the rounds in some of the newer Opel’s. It features 103kW and 200Nm which can be selected in either manual or automatic for both the Enjoy and Cosmo models. The average claimed combined fuel economy of the range sits around the 5.9l-6.5l range between the manual and automatic. The responsiveness of the engine is more than adequate for the target market of this car. I personally preferred the automatic over the manual, something I didn’t enjoy about the previous Mokka. The power delivery is smooth and gear changes are clean and quick. Comfort levels remain very similar to the lower specification Enjoy with smaller wheels, versus the higher specification Cosmo with its 19-inch wheels. The Cosmo is definitely the more visually appealing model, but the Enjoy can also hold its own.

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As a whole, the refreshed Opel MOKKA X is a welcome improvement. The car is sharper concerning look and feel, and it offers great features that are functional for drivers and passengers. At a starting price of R317 500, it’s also great value for money. For that price, you get a five year 90 000km service plan as standard throughout the range. Well done Opel, your nose powdering should go a long way to impress current Opel customers, as well as attract new ones.

 

Pricing:  

New Opel Mokka X Retail price incl. VAT
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

 

New MINI too mature for its own good?

Up until now, nearly every single one of my pieces on here has been a review or repost of some sort mostly cars, occasionally tech. Today, however, I write a desperate plea, a plea which I am 100% sure will go completely unnoticed by the group of people to whom it is directed…anyway!

Cult cars – people love them.The Jeep Wrangler, the Volkswagen Beetle, Fiat 500, Land Rover Defender, Mini Cooper, every single Saab, ever – the list goes on. Some of these vehicles disappeared into the abyss, only to make a retro and snazzy comeback 30 years later, except for the woeful New Beetle, while some just carried on and on and on with a bit of plastic being added to the dashboard here and there. They’re great, all of them, and each ‘cult car’ appeals to a different type of person for various reasons.

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I am a huge fan of Mini’s, and I even have one. It’s black, and his name is Sebastian, and yes he may have been made by the German’s but anyone with half a motoring brain will realise that modern MINI’s are great. Well, sort of… The original resurrection of the MINI name by BMW in the early 2000’s was a shot in the dark for them, but couple German engineering with a cheeky brand identity and you’re sure to find success. Part of this success, however, is down to how great MINI’s are at many things – they’re cute, fun to drive and have loads of appeal.

The original new MINI, the R50/R53 was BMW’s first attempt at this, so they played it safe and borrowed bits from other manufacturers. It was nippy and little and rattled a lot but golly it was a sweet looking thing and reminded us of why we loved the original Mini so. Engines from Chrysler were probably not the best idea but huge success meant that the next model, the R56, would see more BMW and less…not BMW.

Horrendously unreliable, plasticy, expensive to maintain, expensive to buy and, not to mention, VERY unreliable were certainly not the reasons why the R56 was such a success, but nobody cared. And to this day, nobody cares and R56’s are still regarded amongst MINIacs as MINI’s hay day.

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Francisco drives one too, it’s also black, and we both love how boosty and unassuming our cars are. They’re properly quick and just the right size to be thrown around, gripping in the corners just like MINI’s do., with a throaty growl and street-cred to match.

But now we arrive at the bit where I beg and plead. In my opinion, the new MINI Cooper S is too soft. The F56 is fast and reliable and finally has a BMW motor so it won’t break but it’s so big and too refined and to be honest, nowhere nearly as fun as an R56. There’s very little about the F56 that’s actually MINI and it’s a shame. As an everyday car, it’s great but having recently had the new Fiat 500 on test, I found myself lamenting in the fact that the new MINI is just too much. It’s too big, too expensive and too much (I never thought I’d ever say this) of a BMW.

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The time has come for MINI to make the Rocketman Concept – a little runabout with a punchy turbo motor, cheeky looks and MINI handling, not 1 Series handling. The 500 with its grumbly two cylinder motor, diminutive proportions and the reasonable asking price is an incredibly sensible town car. If your name is Fiona and you run a florist. I certainly do not fit that description, though and look ridiculous in a Fiat 500, especially in the sort of blue your gran would describe as ‘soothing’.

So please, MINI, make us a manly and sensible city runabout?

Good Made Better: Audi’s New A3 Range Updated

Good made better: Audi’s new A3 range updated.

If you stood next to the first generation Audi A3, you would be shocked to know that it was introduced to the market nearly twenty years ago. Yes, it’s been almost two decades, and it’s been an excellent run for the brand. Locally, a total 51 400 units have seen themselves into the homes of new owners. The car has also grown from the simple days of the 90’s to a very refined product. The A3’s refinement has been its major selling point for years now. With competitor brands marketing a more sporty persona and others selling a more “people’s car”, the Audi has always retained a certain level of class. That class though has often made the brand seem a bit blander compared to similar products. For those who have driven Audi’s though, they tend to stick with the brand for a very long time. The question is why?

We had the opportunity to answer that question for ourselves when we were reacquainted with the latest iteration of the A3 hatchback and sedan. Subtle changes make for a more streamlined look,  but the same shape remains. New front headlights and taillights make the car look modern, and its refreshed looks are welcome as this segment is very competitive.

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Internal changes: The most notable changes in the new A3 range are the engines which have been overhauled to produce more power and be more fuel efficient. Naturally, petrol-heads will gravitate toward the 228kW Audi S3 but more on that later in another article. What interested us most was the entry model to the range, which now has a 1.0 TFSI three-cylinder engine powering it. With 85kW and 200Nm, the baby A3 offers enough torque to drive happily. For any city dweller, this configuration makes the world of sense.

On the other hand, if you’re worried that the 1.0 litre is too small you can have the 1.4 TFSI with features 110kW and 250Nm. Again if you feel that configuration is too little power, you can then have the 2.0 TFSI which shares the same power output of the new A4 at 140kW and 320Nm. A personal favourite of ours was the 2.0 TDI variant which only has 103kW but features 340Nm; that surges you wherever you need to go. It also only consumes 4.5 litres/ 100km on average while doing so.

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Comfort throughout: Whatever A3 hatchback, Sportback or sedan you choose, you’ll be happy to know that the entire range feels as solid as Audi’s reputation. There’s a distinct level of silence that you experience while driving the new A3 and it creates a rather soothing feeling. The standard dynamic suspension does well to soak up bumps while not also feeling to “couchy” on the road. The interior may not be the most inspiring to sit in, but it cannot be faulted in terms of quality.

There is a wide array of options to choose from, but many features come as standard on each model.  Things such as Xenon headlights, cruise control and Audi’s MMI plus system are features that you don’t have to pay for.  The most notable new feature in the updated A3 range is the option of Virtual Cockpit, something we have all loved to use in the A4 and Q7. This digital dashboard is probably the most intuitive system out there and it’s a “must have”  for any tech-loving driver. If you want to make your Audi A3 more visually appealing too, you’ll be happy to know that you can still specify your car with the S-Line package which gives it a more aggressive look and some larger wheels.

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To answer why many Audi drivers remain loyal to the brand. We personally believe that it’s about assurance. Yes, excitement is great and it always nice to drive something that sets your hair on fire. The reality though is that our day to day lives are not exciting unless you’re a race car driver. What Audi offers then is the option of excitement in cars like the S3 and RS3, but for the everyday person the updated A3 is a car you would love to wake up to every day and live your life.

 

 

Hyundai Increase Tucson Range with Diesel Models

The Hyundai Tucson has proven to be a very popular car in 2016 and was also recently named a finalist for the SGMJ Car Of The Year 2017. The Tucson may now appeal to an even broader market as Hyundai have introduced a further two models in the Tucson range.

The first of these new diesel models is the Tucson 1.7 executive turbodiesel producing 85kw and 280Nm of torque, which will peak between 1250 – 2750rpm. The 1.7 Executive is fitted with a 6-speed manual gearbox and will have a starting price of R439,000.

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The second model is the Tucson R2.0 Elite, featuring a 2L turbodiesel producing 130kw and 400Nm of torque, peaking low in the rev range between 1750-2750rpm.  This model will feature all the standard options which are supplied with the Elite petrol variants, including 18″ alloy wheels. The R2.0 Elite model will feature a six-speed automatic gearbox and will start at R519,000.

Hyundai’s 5-year/150 000 km manufacturer’s warranty, enhanced by the additional new groundbreaking 7-years/200 000 km drivetrain warranty, comes standard with the all-new Hyundai Tucson package, as well as roadside assistance for 5-years or 150 000 km.

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Our New Mobile Application & A Free Copy of Edition 06.

There has been much happening in TheMotorist offices recently, our goal is to provide our readers and viewers with great motoring content which can be accessed and viewed easily.  In helping us to do this, we have released our Motorist mobile application! This is exciting times and will allow our readers to get The Motorist digital magazine directly on their mobile device, in an easy to read format.

To celebrate this, we are giving away our latest edition 06 magazine for free, for a limited time. Our featured article this month involves a crazy trip with Isuzu through Namibia, so why not give it a read. Head over to this link ( Get your issue here)  and fill in the details, we will send you over an email with everything you need.

Have an awesome weekend Motorists!

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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.

 

 

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 finished off by an electric front winch. The interior is still luxurious but has more rugged, out there kind of feel. The Powerful Adventurer is the kind of vehicle which would be loaded up with surfboards and driven over the border into Namibia when the Skeleton Bay surf is firing. Both variants will contain the classic Mercedes tech such as online connected drive systems, lots of sensors, fancy suspension systems and the like. Regarding engines, Mercedes have said top-of-the-line models will be powered by a V6 Diesel, coupled with a very technical four-wheel drive system.

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Mercedes are aiming the X Class at five markets with one of them being the successful adventurer/extreme sports person.( They will need to be successful to afford one of these) Another target market is active families with an “affinity” to premium products( See above, once is a while cross-border holiday). The X class is also aimed at trend-conscious individualists, business owners and landowners in South Africa.

These vehicles are targeting for a late 2017 launch, the question for me is price, the X class is a much more premium vehicle than the R600k Wildtrack, so how much more is it going to cost? Unfortunately for most, I feel this vehicle is going to be out of their league.

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Performance on the rocks: JLR’s Ice driving academy in Sweden.

For those that have attended an advanced driving course, you know how it generally involves a lot of driver briefing and hot weather, especially in South Africa. There’s nothing like coming home sunburnt with a certificate to tell the world that you know what ABS braking does. Jaguar, on the other hand, have tried a different approach to this whole thing. They have opened an ice driving academy in Sweden, so you can drive your favourite Jaguar on the rocks. Cars like the F-Type, F-Pace and Range Rover Sport will be made available to drive in slippery sub zero temperatures. Of course,an expert on all things ice related will accompany to teach you how to best handle these cars in such conditions. We’re sure this driving academy must be fun, considering that back home the best part for many doing an advanced driving course is the skid-pan.

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For those not into modern day cars, you’re not left in the lurch because there is the option to drive some vintage Jag’s and Land Rovers as well. This must be a tad bit more intimidating because most  classic cars don’t feature the safety equipment we have in modern cars today, so it may be advisable to bring some extra underpants. One thing is for sure, you’ll come out a better driver and you’ll most likely have a great time. The not so fun part will be paying your R38 000 for this course because that’s what it will cost you in our money.  Yikes.

Find out more here : http://www.jaguar.com/experience-jaguar/iconic-experiences/ice-drive-sweden.html

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G30 BMW 5 Series leaked.

In days of yore when the likes of Leykor and British Leyland were wreaking havoc on your garage floor, a leaking vehicle wasn’t an uncommon occurrence. Thankfully, for the most part, the only leaking we need to worry about these days is that of images before a car’s actual unveiling. BMW’s next generation ‘G30’ 5 Series has just been leaked a day before it’s official unveiling and apparently the Chinese are to blame. What is very evident is that BMW’s designers have gone the tracing paper rout à la Mercedes-Benz with the new Fiver which is now more in line with the design language of the brutish yet elegant 7 Series. BMW’s new ‘CLAR’ cluster architecture underpins the G30 shedding roughly 100kg’s off F10’s kerb-weight thanks to carbon-fibre and aluminium being such lighties.

Engine-wise one can expect the usual slew of BMW TwinPower power plants with force-fed 2.0-litre fours and 3.0-litre sixes in both petrol and diesel guise being the big-sellers. For those who enjoy a ginger-shot in the morning and think that leaves are a meal there will also be a hybrid version, likely making use of the 2.0-litre unit found in the X5 xDrive40e and your wall-socket. What we’re actually excited for, though, are the V8 motors. Both the 550i and M5 should make use of updated variations of the N63 motor, with the M5’s S63 reportedly churning out over 450kW through, for the first time on an M5, an optional xDrive system. If you’re a heathen, tick that box.One can expect to see the new Five on our roads during the first half of 2017, kidney-grills and all.

 

One can expect to see the new Five on our roads during the first half of 2017, kidney-grills and all.

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