The folks from “Merc” have chosen the right time to reveal their summer bodies with an array of drop-tops now available to the South African market. From Mercedes-Benz, we have the C -Class Cabriolet and the S-Class Cabriolet which have both let their hair down. The C-Class Cabriolet is undoubtedly the most important of the two as it’s more accessible to the general public. As a result, this car should be the volume seller amongst all the cabriolets offered by Mercedes-Benz. It also operates against strong contenders such as the BMW 4 Series Convertible, a car loved by many a South African. The S-Class Cabriolet, on the other hand, is a tastefully luxurious affair, limited to those who have the means to enjoy the lavish offerings it features. As a result, this is a very exclusive car but offers rich brand heritage and a specific grandeur that only be achieved by this type of car.
Looking at both the C-Class and the S-Class, there is a noticeable similarity in design language. They have styled the cars to have a father and son appeal, both looking very sophisticated and handsome. The interior keeps to the chic theme of the exterior with modern and clean lines on the fascia and luxurious seats to match. The aim is to keep you driving with the top down, so measures have been taken to ensure a comfortable open-air experience. AIRCAP is one of the systems used to do this. This feature reduces interior turbulence in the car while driving to stop your ears from exploding, a feeling not loved by many. Another handy feature for the colder months is AIRSCARF, a feature known to many Mercedes-Benz Cabriolet drivers. This feature heats up the neck area of the person seated, allowing them to keep the top down even when the weather is frosty. If it does get unbearably cold or hot, you’ll be happy to know that it only takes 20 seconds of the soft-top to open and close on both the S-Class and C-Class. The difference is that you can operate the mechanism up to a speed of 60km/h in the S-Class and only 50km/h in the C-Class.
They see my floating, they hatin…
Another cool feature about these new Cabriolet’s is the AIRMATIC suspension that is optional on the C-Class and standard on the S-Class. This electronically controlled air suspension can be adjusted depending on which mode you want the car in. An option of ECO, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, and Individual is available, with Individual allowing you to customise the setup. The suspension is not the only smart thing in the S-Class though, an all new intelligent climate control system called THERMOTRONIC allows the occupants to have a fully automatic air-conditioning system. By using 12 sensors and 18 actuators, the system can provide optimum air distribution when the top is up or down. As a result, there will no longer be a need for a driver to save a setting for the car, it knows how best to keep you cool, literally and figuratively.
If the fancy looks of these new convertibles are not enough for you and you seek a little bit more power, you’ll be happy to know that there’s an answer. On the C-Class side, you have the C43 4MATIC which produces 270kW of power. If that’s still not enough, you can get the full blown C63 and C63 S cabriolets. The C63 produces the same 350kW you’ll find in the sedan and the S version makes a healthy 25kW more, giving it 375kW. The S-Class also has AMG versions with the “entry level” AMG being the S63 which ONLY makes 430kW and 900Nm whereas the S65 produces 463kW and (wait for it) 1000Nm.
So the long and short of all this is that if you want some drop top Mercs, you’re spoiled for choice. Whether you’re a slick executive or an Oligarch, Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG will have something to keep you busy with this summer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
A few months back I was in the driving seat of the Peugeot 308 GT-Line Manual. I really enjoyed that vehicle, it looked great with the GT-Line styling, the interior was simplistic with extremely comfortable massaging seats (Even my wife mentioned them ). My only issue with this car was that infotainment system is finicky. Through this digital screen is also the only way to control A/C, which can be a hack to control when driving. Apart from that and the fact that the Tachometer needle travels in the wrong direction, all was good.
Last week wasn’t much different, apart from that this time I had the Automatic model, in Ruby Red. Please don’t buy this car in Ruby Red, it looks awful and does not accentuate the exterior styling of the GT-Line at all, which I think looks great on the car. I was intrigued to drive the Automatic model, for one main reason. A few months back I drove the 208 Automatic was deeply disappointed, (you can find that article in 04 of our Digital Mag) The Automatic box was not up to standard in that vehicle, and I had a slight worry I would experience the same in the 308. I acknowledged that the 308 is a much more expensive car and all should be okay. Indeed, it was, the Auto box is pretty decent on this vehicle, its smooth and works well with the 96kw/230Nm 1.2 Turbo, an engine I am very fond of and has also just won International Engine of the Year, for the second year running. Do note that if you opt for the 308 Active line, power in this model is reduced to 81kw/205Nm.
If I am picky I would say that there needs to be more resistance between Park and Reverse to stop little mishaps happening, it is very easy to push right through. Below the gear lever you will even find a little Sports button, but like all sports buttons on most nonperformance based cars, the difference Is hardly noticeable. John Whittle has a full in-depth review in the November edition of our Digital Magazine.
Another BMW M4 you wish you could have.
For those who have great means but weren’t worthy an of invitation to own the BMW M4 GTS, there is hope. Enter the M4 DTM Champion Edition, a celebration of DTM success by BMW in honour of Marco Wittmann. In 2014, Marco won his first championship title and now in 2016 he has done it again. BMW sure knows how to say well done, in this case they’ve done this:
The M4 DTM Champion Edition features a power output of 368kW and 500Nm, which means the 0-100km/h sprint will take you 3.8 seconds. The way the car delivers this power is through the same water injection system in the M4 GTS. As we know, colder air going into an engine means better performance. This special edition is not limited to more power only, as visual and aerodynamic features have been added. The iconic BMW colours are present on the bodywork, as well as different front and rear splitters and a large rear wing which creates a look that is both beautiful and badass. The interior makes use of race car style bucket seats and a role cage too.
The M4 DTM Champion Edition is limited to 200 units worldwide, which makes it a super exclusive car to own. You can also have it in any colour you want, as long as its Alpine white. Another great feature about the M4 DTM Champion Edition is the rear lights, which are identical to those of the M4 GTS. So at least the majority of the people who will only see the rear of the car, will have a great view to look at (We hope these taillights will be available on normal M4’s too soon).
What will this beauty cost? You’re looking at roughly R2.3 million. Ouch.
In 1962 the first ever turbocharged passenger cars came to the market, some of you might remember them. The Chevrolet Corvair Monza and the Oldsmobile Jetfire. These vehicles didn’t last long due to reliability, over coming years after their release turbocharged cars would come and go and many manufacturers went down the turbo route. This came to an end though because they were not yet as efficient as naturally aspirated engines and turbo lag was also very prominent.
Things started to change when the first Turbo Diesel came to the market In 1978, the Mercedes- Benz 300 SD, followed later by the turbodiesel VW golf in 1981. Since then, turbocharged vehicles have steadily become more popular, especially in performance based cars as it is much easier to produce more power. In more recent times as technology has improved, turbocharging is now being used as a way to reduce emissions in our everyday vehicles. Smaller engines can be utilized, and exhaust gasses provide a way to spool turbos.
Even with the turbocharged setup producing more power and becoming increasingly popular, here are six reasons why the naturally aspirated engine is still a much better choice :
Noise – To this day, there is nothing better than the sound of a naturally aspirated performance engine. It’s generally louder and quite frankly sounds better. With the addition of individual throttle bodies, the sound gets even better. Turbocharging reduces the noise and brute of an engine; Formula 1 is a prime example. Give me an naturally aspirated V8,V10 or V12 engine any day!
Revs – N/A engines can rev much higher and produce power much higher up in the rev range, meaning longer gear ratios and less time spent shifting. Only very recently with the improvement of technology have we seen turbo engines starting to rev a little higher. The noise of a V8 at over 10,000rpm is something dreams are made off.
Throttle Response – even with the reduction of turbo lag is recent times, you cannot beat the throttle response of an N/An engine, it gets even better with a fly by wire system!
Fastest Nurburgring lap time – the fastest ever production car lap time was set by an N/A car – the Radical SR8 LM. Its peak power comes in at 10500rpm and hit the limiter at 12500rpm.
Fewer things to go wrong – With turbocharged setups comes more technology, more moving parts, more pipes, more sensors and more complex electronic mapping. More chance of things breaking and going wrong!
N/A is special – There may have been a time when a turbocharged car was special, but times have changed. Everything nowadays is being turbocharged, and it’s just not unique anymore, it’s common. No one likes common, hence why Porsche built the 911 R, a truly special N/A vehicle. Stick a turbo on it and It kind of loses its mojo.
There you have it, some of my reasons as to why naturally aspirated engines trump the turbo setup.
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.
Edition 05 of TheMotorist digital magazine is here!
Our latest digital magazine has arrived. This month we have great motoring content for our readers, including a driven feature on the BMW M4 GTS.You can access and subscribe to the digital magazine at this link: https://goo.gl/XDDL2m
Utter the words Griffith, Cerbera, Tuscan, Tamora, Typhon and Sagaris to any common or garden human and they’ll ask why you’re listing the ingredients of a McDonalds burger patty, but say even one of those within earshot of a petrolhead and they’ll pucker up like a nipple in Nepal.
Founded in 1947 by a fellow by the name of Trevor, TVR quickly became renowned for their bespoke and typically British sports cars, and by typically, we mean unreliable. So much so that the company closed down in 1965. And then reopened in that same year under new ownership. And then changed ownership in 1981, and again in 2004. Despite all the chopping and changing, though, TVR still managed to be the third-largest specialised sports car manufacturer in the world at one point or another.
Long story short – owner number 4, a fellow by the name of Nikolay, half-heartedly left the brand chugging along until he sold it in 2013 to a little syndicate, led by a TVR owner and, most importantly, an outright petrolhead, Les.
So now that we’ve all been schooled in the history of Trevor (see, I put the vowels back) what you need to do is sit up and take notice. TVR is back and set for a 2017 unveiling and Les says the new TVR will bring back everything that we loved about their cars of yore – outrageous styling and brown pants performance. The key to this, however, isn’t big Les himself (he made his money in gaming) but rather the team he’s put together…Cosworth and Gordon Murray are to the automotive world what the
Cosworth and Gordon Murray are to the automotive world what the Zimmer frames and grasshoppers are to the Toyota Camry. Making use of Gordon Murray’s carbon fibre chassis and clever aero, the reborn TVR will be both strong, light and efficient. Once production gets up to pace, the carbon chassis will become an option with the standard models making use of an aluminium tub and fibreglass panels.
Cosworth are the crafty wizards in charge of the powerplant and word is that they’ll be using Ford’s tried and tested Coyote V8, with a bit of a fettling of course. A good old manual gearbox is the order if the day and buyers can expect this midway point between Lotus and Aston Martin to be a well thought out blend of luxury, technology and simplicity so as to guarantee reliability. But don’t be fooled, this is going to be one seriously lairy rebirth. Are you excited because boy oh boy are we! Trevor, we’re ready for you.
The VW Polo is probably one of the most popular cars on South Africa roads, especially with the young generation. It’s a small hatch, its German – which makes it extremely reliable and its reasonably priced.
A problem that I find with these little hatchbacks is that the audio quality is never great. The majority of people that drive these cars are young adults, many young adults love music, especially when cruising around and on road trips. Whether it’s hip-hop, Jazz, Pop, Dubstep, Classical ( everyone has room for a little bit of classical), there is nothing worse when you pump up the volume and with that increase comes distortion, crackle, and hiss. You wanted to listen to your favourite tracks on your way to work. Instead, it sounds more like firework show on New Year’s Eve, not great.
VW have fixed this issue by teaming up with Beats Audio. You know, those bright pink, red, yellow, orange, black, and white colored earphones you see the hip kids and “cool Dad’s” wearing. Beats Audio knows their stuff when it comes to sound and in conjunction with VW, has introduced the Polo Beats – a VW Polo with seven speaker – 300 Watt sound system.
Here is the not so good part, The Polo Beats differs from other Polo’s with different 16” wheels, red door mirrors, dark red tail lights, beats side film and a beats badge on the b-pillar. After looking at the images, it doesn’t look as bad as first thought. The interior also has changed with Beats sports seats and a few other bits such as a leather steering wheel and coloured seatbelts. In fairness, it looks pretty good. Personally, this should have also been available as an option extra rather than a sperate model; I’m sure the whole Beats branding might put a few people off.
It will, however, be an optional extra in the new VW UP released later this year. We may see it as an optional extra in future Polo models. Not everyone wants red wing mirrors.