So the Audi RS3 has been for sale in South Africa for the last month or so and it’s causing quite the stir. It is the only super hatch available that features a five-cylinder engine. As a result, the noise that comes out of the exhausts is rather delicious and unique.
The RS3 is up against Mercedes’ A45 bruiser which has been recently tinkered with to create more power, 280 kW to be exact. BMW seems to be on the back-foot this time as their M135i only pushes 240 kW while the RS3 produces a hefty 270 kW. The Bavarians at BMW do have the long awaited M2 coming soon, and even though it’s a coupé, it will be compared to the Audi and the Mercedes. There’s more; Ford also has a hyper hatch waiting to be unleashed in South Africa, the Focus RS, so it seems like 2016 will be quite the showdown.
For now, though, we celebrate Audi South Africa’s stunning hatchback that can catapult you to 100 km/h in just 4.3 seconds thanks to the Quattro drivetrain fitted as standard. For a measly R710 000, you can give a new RS3 a loving home. Chump change indeed.
Little brother vs. Big Brother: The new Suzuki Vitara.
Being the older brother is what I do best. Growing up, I always got things first between my three siblings. I got to decide what we watched on holiday by “booking” the DSTV as well as the Television for the day. I also bullied my siblings into doing what I wanted by threating to expose their petty secrets to our parents. It’s safe to say; I had this under control. Yes, there were/are challenges, but in my mind, the pros far outweigh the cons. My siblings were known as “Richard’s brother” or “Richard’s sisters”, what a great title to have.
Fast forward the to the Launch of the all new Suzuki Vitara that we at TheMotorist were invited to, and my hard earned spot at the top of the sibling podium was occupied. This was done by non-other than my “little” brother, Francisco, the other half of our magazine. It all started when I met the other journalists also attending the launch. “You are Francisco’s brother aren’t you? You look just like him.” Correction, he looks like me, I’m the original. The feeling of annoyance lurked deep inside me until the sensational looking little SUV was introduced to us. It looked better in the flesh than on the promotional video they showed us.
Now that I was distracted by the car, I started to enjoy my day in beautiful George and Knysna, not worried that I was nameless, just my sibling’s brother. The day began with a drive from the venue in George, and up the beautiful mountain passes in the surrounding areas. My first impressions in the new Vitara were how comfortable the ride was, the seating position was perfect for a 6-foot male, and the 1.6-litre engine was surprisingly peppy. My driving partner asked me to try and not kill her, as she had previously driven with my heavy footed brother before. I reassured her that I was going to show her how the older, more mature older brother drives. On the blacktop, the new Suzuki Vitara showed off by how quiet the cabin is on the road. It’s no performance car, but for a 1.6 litre four pot, it has some vooma. It had no problem getting up top speed, and once I figured how the cruise control worked, the drive was a s pleasant as a Sunday.
When we turned off onto the gravel, that’s where the Suzuki Vitara started flexing its muscles. It took on all sorted of bumps, pot-holes and rifts on the roads with the greatest of ease. Since the cabin is well insulated, despite all the dust and muck flying about; we were able to hold a conversation without any strain to our vocal cords. Things took an interesting turn when my driving partner moved to the captain’s chair. Now from what she told me about my brother I expected an easy gravel road drive, something relaxed that would give me the chance to get more acquainted with all the toys offered in the car.
What happened next was not what Francisco’s brother expected! The Suzuki Vitara 1.6 GL+ went from a very comfortable family vehicle to a makeshift rally car. My driving partner was very comfortable behind the wheel at these speeds. Meanwhile, my right foot was looking for the imaginary brake pedal. What blew me away was how this little car was soaking all of this in. Here I thought that Suzuki had replaced the old Vitara with a compact pavement climber, but what I was seeing here made me realise that this little car would give more expensive cars a run for their money on this terrain.
Things came to a well-welcomed halt when travellers blocked the mountain pass with a blown tyre, and that’s when I requested the driver’s seats again, but at that stage, we were at the end of the pass and were back on the tarmac. The rest of the drive was as relaxed as the scenery, and our lunch in the heart of Knysna allowed me to not only take everything regarding how beautiful our surroundings were, but also to realise that we as consumers are spoilt for choice. With more and more vehicles emerging in various segments, it comes down to personal choice.
The new Vitara truly encompasses the spirit of the original compact SUV that was launched 27 years ago. Comparing the two models made reach epiphany, I am like the original Vitara since it all started with me. The original paved the way for the new fun and exciting model that came after it. The same goes with my siblings and I. As a result; this new Vitara is as good as it is because it has learned from its older sibling and taken its traits and enhanced it. It’s only fair then to pay respects to the original. I am ready to take all the credit. Sadly if you were to compare the two models back to back, the new Vitara would win the hearts of people since it’s young and hip. Poor original Vitara, you’ve done so much for this new car yet you’re now the “new Vitara’s brother”.
In all seriousness, though, the new Suzuki Vitara is an excellent little car in this hotly contested segment, and hopefully, more people will have an opportunity to sample it through a test drive. Hopefully, that will get people out of the psychological rut of blindly buying cars simply because of the brand behind it. Five models are available for purchase, the GL, two GL+ models, and two GLX models. All models offer different features and options. For the GL+ and the GLX, Suzuki’s AlllGrip 4×4 suspension is available, giving you more traction on the road but especially off-road. Two-tone colour combinations are also available in the GL+ and GLX as well as the choice of a 6-speed automatic gearbox for the FWD GLX. For those looking for a small, good looking and fun to drive SUV, the Vitara is an excellent choice to buy. After all, it’s based on a really good original.
Sometimes in life, we all long for something different. Whether it’s a different flavour of ice-cream, a different restaurant to eat at, or even a different car to drive. In the car department, choosing something different to what many people buy can be a risky thing. The reason being that firstly, the fact that many people drive a specific car means that the car is a good. If that weren’t the case, many people wouldn’t buy it, would they? Secondly, having many of the same brand of a car on the road means that when the time comes for you to sell the vehicle, it will fetch a good trade in value because there will be a demand for it. So usually sticking to the norm is the safe way to go about things. The problem with that is that the norm can get boring at times. Sometimes, having something that is different to everybody else is exciting because of just that, it’s different. Take for example the Kia Cerato Koup.
When you think of a good looking coupé car to buy, your mind doesn’t automatically think Kia does it? Usually, we all want something German, something with some status so we can casually put our keys on the table during a night out and watch our friends reactions when they see we drive a…No one can blame you for taking this route when buying a car, because, besides the bragging rights, the German’s do have a good reputation to fall back on. A reputation that is not usually cheap, unfortunately, and if you don’t have the budget for that reputation, what do you do? Do you buy the very basic model from that brand simply because of the brand, or do you try to look for another option?
If you’re someone who falls part of the latter group, then perhaps the Kia Cerato Koup is something you would consider. The fact is that this car is very good at what it does, it looks good, drives very well and lastly, it won’t cost you the same amount as your mortgage. In fact, after spending time in the Kia Cerato Koup, we found ourselves wondering why there aren’t many more of these cars being sold in South Africa. For R370 000, you get 152 kW/265 Nm of power, a short-throw 6-speed manual gearbox, a comfortable ride and some good features too. Yes, the car does not cost chump change, but it certainly offers a great deal of car for the money. The engine is punchy and refined, the car has a sporty nature to it and it has a feel good factor about it that makes you smile. The dashboard is quite basic but the seats are great and supportive.
We live in a visual world, so things must look good in order for them to have appeal. The Kia Cerato Koup ticks that box six love, with one of its strongest points being that it looks great. It’s no dumb blonde though, if it needs to get up and go it will do so willingly. At the same time, it’s not built cheaply either, it feels premium. Even though it’s a coupé, it’s not a tight fit too, so your passengers can feel just as glamorous as you do when driving in it. The Koup is one of those cars that make you think before going the “normal” route. It makes you question why you should be like everybody else. All we’re saying is that there’s nothing wrong to be different at times, and if you can look good whilst doing it, why not?
Not just a great personality: Volkswagen South Africa’s new Passat.
Most people have experienced what it’s like to be set up with a potential boyfriend or girlfriend. It’s awkward and uncomfortable. When this happens, there is usually a build up to the first “date” and this build up often involves a great deal of selling. Your friend or friends that are facilitating all this tell you about all the good things and they omit the bad. At this point, it’s a known fact that if the phrase “he/she has a great personality” is the biggest selling point, chances are the person you’re being set up with is not good looking. We’re not supposed to be shallow in life and focus purely on beauty, but it’s always easier to get to know somebody who is easy on the eyes. The person does not need to look like a model, but it’s nice to see that he/she tries to do the best with what they’ve got.
This has been part of the problem for Volkswagen South Africa when it comes to the Passat over the years. The car has always been the one in its segment with “the great personality” and as a result in South Africa, it’s always battled to get a date to the matric ball. As mentioned before we shouldn’t be shallow when looking for relationships but when it comes to cars, we have every right to be. A car needs to have a want factor, something that makes you say “that’s hot” and the Passat has lacked that over the years. Not to say it’s been an ugly car, but it can be likened to the introverted girl or guy who doesn’t put much effort in presenting themselves to others in an appealing way. This has been the opposite with its competitors, the “big three” who have always made an effort to be dolled up and present themselves as the “cool kids”, making them the popular ones in school or in this case, the roads.
The new Passat has been launched by Volkswagen South Africa recently and it has undergone an extreme makeover. The nerdy glasses have been replaced with contact lenses, the old polo neck and sweatpants have been done away with and replaced with a new wardrobe. The results? A car that makes you say “that’s hot”. This is especially the case when the new Passat is kitted with the R-Line Package, this package acts as the little black dress that makes everyone look. The “think new” slogan that’s marketed with the new Passat shows that Volkswagen has thought deeply about the importance of creating a “want one” factor for the car, something the likes of Mercedes, BMW and Audi have accomplished over the years with their cars.
So we’ve established that the car looks good, but besides that, what’s new in the B8 Passat? Everything. The car is built on the MQB platform, which makes it lighter through the use of more lightweight materials such as metals found in the engine and suspension. The total weight difference between the new and old model is 85 kg’s. Despite the car’s new physique, it’s longer on the inside yet shorter on the outside as well as lower than the car it replaces. As a result the car offers great interior space for its five occupants. The extra space comes with a great view as the cabin is a great place to sit in physically and aesthetically, with modern lines and good quality materials creating a premium feel.
To add to the interior experience, the new Passat comes with a host of new features which modernise the car even further. One of the most notable being the optional Active Info Display which is a fully digital instrument cluster that offers the driver various modes to view such as navigation, entertainment and economy. The cluster adapts to whatever mode it’s set in and is automated with the centre 6.5 inch colour infotainment system which comes standard with Bluetooth. The option of Head Up Display is also available in the Passat, which enhances the technological prowess of the car too.
Since the new Volkswagen Passat has undergone such drastic changes, does it mean that the car has lost its great personality? Not at all. The new Passat retains a comfortable ride quality but adds some nifty driving aids such as Automatic Multi Collision Braking System (which applies the brakes on the car after an accident has occurred to prevent a secondary collision), Adaptive Cruise Control and Driver Alert System. Driver Profile Selection is standard on all Passat’s, allowing you to choose between economy, sport, normal and individual mode to suit your driving style.
The engines in the Passat are very refined and quiet, with a 1.4 TSI (110 kW), 1.8 TSI (132 kW) and the current flagship 2.0 TSI (162 kW) being the choices to choose from at the moment. A 2.0 TDI option will be available mid 2016. The current offering is well matched to the car, with all the engines providing enough power to get the car moving smoothly and comfortably. All models except the 1.4 TSI are fitted with the DSG gearbox as standard, with the 2.0 TSI being given the faster 6- Speed DSG found in the Golf GTI. In the case of the 2.0 TSI, the Golf GTI DNA has been imprinted in the car, giving it a sporty edge that the other engines cannot match.
The 2.0 TSI also comes as standard with lovely the R-Line package, but the R-Line kit is available from the 1.4 TSI up-words. The new Passat’s handling characteristics are impressive, combining suppleness with sportiness very well. At speed the vehicle is quiet, giving you the illusion that you’re doing much slower speeds than you really are. Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) which adjusts vehicle damping is standard in the top of the range 2.0 TSI which also comes standard with the XDS limited slip differential to improve handling dynamics. The 2.0 TSI is a sure rival for the likes of the BMW 330i, the Mercedes C300 and the recently launched Lexus IS 200t. Whereas the other models are sure to create some competition for the big three’s lower end models.
Overall the new Passat is a wonderful vehicle in its segment. It has already claimed the title of Eurpean Car of The Year 2015 which speaks for the car immensely. This comes as no surprise as the car offers a great deal of features and quality for the segment it operates in. The new Passat also happens to be priced competitively compared to its rivals. Being that as it is, the deciding factor is how the market receives this new Passat in South Africa. Has it managed to get out of the “old man” stigma it has carried for a long time now? We certainly think so. Now it’s up to Volkswagen South Africa to market the car as something hot and not the fact that it only has a great personality. If they can succeed in changing people’s perception of the Passat, maybe people can finally see that blind dates aren’t always a bad thing.
The original Honda NSX was Honda’s first venture into performance engineering for road cars. It was powered using the same VTEC technology that ran in the original McLaren-Honda F1 car. The body, chassis and suspension were all manufactured in aluminium, the first of its kind. The shape and Cab-forward cockpit were inspired from an F-16 fighter jet. Further to this, a 3.0 litre V6 24 valve VTEC engine was dropped right in the middle of this lightweight machine, just like the F1 Car.
What made this vehicle extra special, though, was that before production the legendary one and only Ayrton Senna tested this car. He tweaked it to perfection, and at the end of his testing period, the chassis had been tightened by 50 percent. In the end, the Honda NSX was a road race machine with the approval of one of the best drivers to ever walk the earth.
And now, it is back. It seems fitting that just as McLaren and Honda have re-ignited their Legendary F1 Partnership, a new NSX is born. This time it brings F1 inspired hybrid technology with three electric motors, one for each front wheel and a third to aid braking, gear shifting and acceleration. These electric motors are assisting the main power pant, a mid-mounted Twin Turbo V6. All in all, Honda claims over 550bhp with instantaneous torque. Sending drive to the wheels will be a new 9-speed dual clutch gearbox.
The chassis is very light, with a multi-material structure and has a very stiff carbon fibre floor. The vehicle also features four drive modes: Quiet – which can be driven using all-electric power for short distances, Sport & Sport + for a more positive vehicle and finally Track mode if you want to unleash the beast.
Honda’s goal for this vehicle is to have the excitement of the Ferrari 458 but for the price of a Porsche 911. This may seem like a tall order, but hopefully, they can pull it off.
A Chevrolet Cruze is not a poster car, let’s just be honest. You don’t wait long for one nor is it a car that makes you say “oooh, that’s nice.” It’s one of those cars one sees on the roads often and wonders why there are so many of them. We soon learned why this is the case, when a “hatchback” version of the car arrived to be test driven by us. The model provided was the 1.4 T LS manual, which makes 103 kW and 200 Nm.
Upon looking at the car, one doesn’t realise how big it is until you’re sitting in it. Space is not a problem in this car; space is what this car offers a lot of, especially in the “hatchback” with its wide opening boot. The reason why we keep saying “hatchback” sarcastically, is because this car is just as big as any sedan but has a funny hunchback thing going on at the rear, making it a “hatchback”. Anyway.
As mentioned before, we wouldn’t be rude to say that the Cruze is not an exciting car but after spending time with it, one does get a great deal of satisfaction from it. We don’t really know why, because it’s not as if it’s ludicrously fast, nor is it fun to drive. The biggest reason why we think it’s so good and it sells so well in South Africa is because to put it simply, it works. For starters, the seats in the Chevrolet Cruze are made of the same material found in your grandmother’s couch. The level of comfort you find in this car is brilliant. To top it off, driving it around Sandton for a week, we forgot that speed bumps existed, the car just swallows them up and for a second we even thought the government fixed the roads.
Secondly, the engine. Even though its a small 1.4 turbo carrying a big body, the engine works. Very well we must say. It gives you just enough power to happily drive it around without thinking it’s underpowered at any point. Besides, you’re too busy relaxing in the seats to even think about going fast. Another great aspect of having a small engine is better fuel economy. The people at General Motors were very surprised to receive their car back with half a tank of petrol in it, something unheard of from a journalist. The “Eco” mode with its stop-start feature came in handy.
As the week came to its end, we realised that we were quite sad to see the old Cruze leave. In the stressful city we live in, as nice as it is to have a high-performance car or a big SUV, it can be a bit limiting since there isn’t much of an opportunity to use those type of cars to the best of their abilities. With the Chevrolet Cruze though, you simply pair your phone with the radio, sit back, relax and enjoy just how effective the car is. Yes, it may not attract stares or impress your girlfriend or boyfriend, but that was not Chevrolet’s intention when making the car. For what it’s made for, being a large, comfortable and fuel efficient sedan/hatchback, the Chevrolet Cruze is one of the best in its segment. With a starting price of R 262 500, you get a whole lot of car for the money. So next time you see a Cruze on the road, you know why.
The BMW X1 is the car you buy if you want an SUV style vehicle, but don’t want the size or have the budget for an X3 or X5. The new X1 uses a similar configuration to the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer; it is front wheel drive. Something recently embraced by the BMW brand.
Firstly, it looks fantastic. It’s dynamic, sporty and remarkably spacious. BMW have been very clever with the new X1, the seating positions have been elevated, which means drivers and passengers have a better all round view, add this to larger window surfaces, and you get a spacious feel.
A great stand-out feature for the sporting person is the flat folding passenger seat, the backrest can be folded completely forward. The benefit of this is that any item up to 2.5 meters in length can be transported with ease. If you suddenly feel some beach vibes and want to take your longboard for a wave, no problem. This fixes the issue of scraping and scratching the interior as you would usually try and force an object such as a surfboard at a slight angle into the vehicle. This also takes away the possibly of decapitation as the said object flies around the car at head height.
The rear seats control this method of using space well, with the pull of a small handle, the rear seating arrangement slides forwards and backwards. If you are heading on a road trip with friends, you can slide the seats back for extra legroom, but if you and a buddy are off to go diving on the coast, slide the seats forward and use the extra boot space for your gear. There is one downside to this; it enables your other half to have more room for shopping bags.
As always you have the classic BMW lines such as the Sport line, X line and M Sport line, with lots of optional extras such as the 8-inch navigation screen, Harmon Kardon loudspeaker system, reversing camera and so on. Engine choices range from S Drive 18i, S Drive 20i and the X Drive 20i and 25i.
Overall this is a smaller but spacious SUV, which is flexible and dynamic. It does not only suit families but young explorers who like to surf, ski and dive to name a few.