Month: January 2016

“Look at me!” says the new Peugeot 208 GT-Line.

Unashamedly stylish: Peugeot’s updated 208 GT-Line.

If being glamorous is your thing, then Peugeot’s refreshed 208 may be the car for you. In GT-Line guise, the car comes with a plethora of shiny aesthetic items. Chrome lining, dramatic black and red interior and a modern cabin make you instantly fall in love with the styling of the new car. The proverbial cherry on top of our test unit, was the unique textured paint which drew looks from passers-by at almost any place the car was parked.

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The GT-Line in Peugeot’s 208 really distinguishes the car against its more normal siblings. This is obviously a good thing. For petrol heads though, it can create some disappointment because as fast as the car looks, it only has a 1.2 litre turbocharged engine that is not built for speed, but rather for comfort and refinement. The engine in the GT-Line is perfect for those not performance orientated because the torque in the car is just enough to get you around town without having to make the engine scream.

The 208 GT-Line also offers two gearbox options, a 5-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic. The model we tested was fitted with the latter. This gearbox was effective in traffic since our left foot was able to rest, but we prefer a manual in cars that use small engines such as the 208 GT-Line. The reason for this is because a manual gearbox allows you to explore the engines full capabilities in terms of being in the right gear at all times, especially in a small engine which relies heavily on the turbocharger for torque. As a result the automatic tends to be either in too high of a gear or the converse, which can be frustrating. Although if you’re in an enthusiastic mood, the selection of a “sport” mode can be made, which adapts the gearbox to work better with the driver in rushed times.

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As mentioned, the 208 GT-Line is not the performance flagship of the range, so one can’t be too critical because the car doesn’t live up to our boy-racer ambitions. If going fast is your thing and you still want the charming good looks of the 208, Peugeot has something else for you. That answer comes in the 147 kW, 1.6 litre turbocharged 208 GTI. As an everyday car, the GT-Line makes a great deal of sense. It is well sized, well built and relatively well priced at R 272 900. That price range barks up the tree of the likes of the current Polo TSI, which is the best-selling car in this segment.

That being said, the Peugeot appeals to a slightly different target market. The eccentric and the artistic are the ones who would truly appreciate the car for what it is, because like them, it’s different. In a world where we all want to stand out and be noticed, the GT-Line, especially with its interesting-to-touch textured paint is a car that says “look at me”.

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The low-down on the new Porsche 911

What’s changed with the new Porsche 911?

When you hear the three digits 9-1-1, a few things may come to mind. Sadly it’s the date of one of the worst terrorist attacks the world has ever seen. It’s also a popular emergency services number. For some though, the numbers mean something good, something exciting.

The best thing that I personally relate these three digits to, is the Porsche 911. Interestingly Porsche had originally named the first vehicle the “901” but Peugeot complained because of their numbering system which had a 0 in the middle, so Porsche replaced the 0 with a 1 and a legend was born.

My earliest memories of a Porsche 911 was my father squeezing me into the front boot space and closing the lid to show our neighbour that it could actually hold some kind of capacity. From a young age the 911 was my favourite, I even named my first pet rabbit “Porsche” but sadly it escaped and then got eaten by a fox.

I digress, the 911 have been produced since 1963 and the 911 Turbo since 1975. It is agreed that this range of sports cars is up there as one of the greatest of all time.  Since the start, the core of  the “911” has never changed, a rear engine setup with 6 cylinders. There was a time in history where I lost a little love for the 911, I felt like they could not get the design of the front end right, I didn’t like it. In recent years though, with the return of the classic round headlights, the design stole my heart again.  Now in 2016 Porsche have updated its current 911 range and the changes are as follows:

What’s new?

The new Porsche 911 is as beautiful as ever, and the rear end has an even sharper and more aggressive look. From a design point of view, these vehicles haven’t really changed much over time. They’ve evolved in small ways but as always the 6 cylinder horizontal engine is stuck right in the back where the boot normally is. Besides subtle design changes, the engines are where the biggest changes lie with turbochargers adding extra boost to the car. Many enthusiasts have been in two minds about this move since many loved the razor sharp nature of the normally aspirated car.

Options have not changed with two variants being available in the Carrera range. The normal Carrera is the baby and the S is the upgrade. The standard 911 Carrera will push 272 kW (380 Bhp) and the Carrera S supplies 309 kW (420BHP).  Another change has to do with the drive-train options available in the new 911. A client has the option between rear wheel drive and a four-wheel drive setup. All these updates will definitely change the way the new car handles on the road and more importantly, how the car put’s its power down.

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Wait, there’s more.

Another new option is the Sports Exhaust System which apart from allowing the twin turbo motor to shout a little louder, the two twin tail pipes are replaced by two single pipes located in the centre of the vehicle with a small space in between. One more noteworthy point is that the Porsche Active Suspension Management, (an electronic damping control system called “PASM”) is now fitted as standard on all models. It’s evolved a little, but definitely for the better.

How much will it cost?

A 911 Carrera will set you back at least R1.2 Bar, whereas the Carrera 4S Cab will start to hurt you at a minimum of R1,6 Million. You can double that figure for the top dog 911 Turbo S. It may sound like a lot, but it’s all relative. Some may even say it’s a small price to pay for one of the most iconic sports cars ever built. Long live the Porsche 911.

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MSO’s McLaren 650s Spider Al Sahara 79

McLaren’s Special Operations 650S

The phrase “Special operations” gets us rather excited, especially when it comes from McLaren. If a standard McLaren supercar isn’t  exciting and special enough for you, you can always have one from “MSO” – McLaren Special Operations. MSO Creates cars around an owners’ precise tastes. They can either provide subtle bespoke customisations or even build you an ultra-exclusive limited edition one-off model. How awesome?

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Recently MSO released a custom 650S at the Dubai Motor Show, inspired by the style that Dubai encompasses. This custom 650S features a carbon fibre front splitter,rear diffuser and side intake vents. The vehicle also features a unique white gold paint finish, this is achieved with the addition of 24 carat particles added to the paint. True Dubai style right?

Just in case you forgot what the fancy paint looks like whilst seated inside, this finish continues on the interior with a body coloured steering wheel, centre console and door panels. Complimenting those bits is black and almond white upholstery, leather, of course. Dark gold switch-gear and heating vents add the finishing touches to this middle eastern styled vehicle. The name of this highly customised car? It’s called the 650S Spider Al Sahara 79 (write that down before you walk into the showroom if you’re looking to get one).

When you start adding any form of gold to a car it has the risk of becoming over the top, a bit “rapperish”, but McLaren got this one right. Clean and simple with a touch of class. This vehicle is missing one thing though to give it a true Middle eastern theme, that is the addition of 24 carat gold rims. Maybe. The 650S Spider Al Sahara 79 now joins its other siblings from the special MSO factory, ranging from custom McLaren F1’s to custom P1’s. We love special versions of already special cars.  Cars like these are aimed at the type of customer who thinks owning a “plain old supercar” as just too common. Most of us won’t ever have the opportunity of ordering a personalised McLaren, but at least we can dream…or look. And with gold bits in your paint job, look we shall.

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iPad Pro: What is it like to live with?

The new iPad Pro : Hands on review.

A better name for the new iPad would probably be the “iPad Juice”, because Apple have really pumped some steroids into this one. I’ve been using the new iPad for a month now. Do I like it? I love it.

First of all, this new iPad Pro is rather large, so if you only plan on reading books, checking your email and feeding your Jelly Splash addiction, then this is not the iPad for you. On the other hand if you’re a designer, photographer or something along those lines, or if you frequently work on the move then you might want to carry on reading.

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In the case of the iPad Pro, size does matter and the 13inch retina screen makes the world of a difference. Add 4gb ram and faster processer to that and you quickly realize that it’s a dream to work on.

It feels light in the hands and not cumbersome at all, it handles Raw photographic files very well and with virtually no lag, Adobe’s new line of design apps work really well too. I’ve also been typing Word documents on this device using the onscreen keyboard. Now I’ve heard a few people say that it isn’t that great, but interestingly I’ve had no issues and found that it’s a breeze to work on. (Apple Magic Keyboard is also available).

One of the best features on this machine though, is being able to use two apps at the same time. I’ve used this a few times and the screen is definitely big enough to work on both easily. This cuts out the need to change apps when looking for or entering information. As a photographer I didn’t have any use for the new Apple Pencil as that is aimed more at designers and artists, so I have yet to try this nifty  addition out.

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Sadly, as is always the case with Apple, the gear is not cheap. The 128gb Wi-Fi version that I use, set me back around R 16 000. If you want to add the Apple Pencil to your toolbox you will need to budget for another R2000. Yikes. The Apple Magic keyboard designed for the Pro will also set you back another R3500 and the basic Apple covers are not far off that price either. It’s a bit of joke but it’s to be expected. It’s like buying a premium car, you can’t expect budget prices.

Funny enough, the money you will spend on an iPad Pro could also be used to purchase a MacBook. One would seriously need to weigh up your requirements to see what would be the best option. As stated previously, I personally use the iPad Pro to backup and edit Raw files. The transfer speed using the new Apple card reader is also very fast, so for that use it works really well. Apart from that I’ve been writing, reading, emailing, planning and watching a bit of Netflix.

There are also specific apps designed for the iPad Pro and they can make quite a big difference. I still have my iMac in the office for heavy duty work, but for when I’m on the move the iPad Pro is the really the “bee’s knees”(yes I said that).

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Isuzu KB300 DTEQ LX: It’s Bakkie time Boet

We drive Isuzu South Africa’s KB300 DTEQ LX

Some countries refer to it as a “pickup”, “truck” or a “ute” but here in sunny South Africa, we call it a bakkie. This type of vehicle has been the back bone of many industries, servicing the needs of many businesses. Over time though, the bakkie has gone from being just a bouncy commercial vehicle with the bare necessities, to a fully fledged road car with softer suspension, leather seats and smart infotainment systems. One such bakkie is the current Isuzu KB Series. With humble beginnings and basic looks, this pickup has grown to be a good looking and diverse vehicle which easily transitions between being a workhorse and a road car.

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Work and play:

The Isuzu KB comes in three different cab configurations, a single cab, extended cab and of course the family friendly double cab. We had the pleasure of testing the extended cab KB300 D-TEQ LX 4×4. The intelligent drivetrain fitted in the 4×4 allows for the driver to engage the front axle through a dial when a more challenging terrain presents itself. This is especially useful for buyers who need a car that can go off-road on a whim and with a towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes, the Isuzu KB is also capable of heavy duty work.

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Although softer on the eyes, the Isuzu KB is no lightweight. Traditional bakkie drivers have always preferred larger displacement, so the KB300’s 3.0 litre which develops 130 kW/ 380 Nm produces enough grunt to keep all the “boets” happy. Mated to a 5 speed manual gearbox, torque is readily available. A KB250 is also available with a smaller 2.5 litre engine (100 kW/320 Nm) for those not needing the extra oomph.

Does it drive like a car or a bakkie?

No matter how hard manufacturers try and make their pickups’ more car-like, a bakkie will always drive like a bakkie. This is especially the case when there is no load at the rear, the car will always have a bounce to it. That being said, the levels of refinement in these cars have reached a happy medium between a pair of blue overalls and a business suit. To say that the Isuzu KB300 is not comfortable would be a lie, it drives very well and we personally loved the sheer height of it on the road. For a shorter person, the step bar proved very useful upon climbing into the cabin and the “suicide doors” in the extended cab made it easy to load and unload tools/groceries/animals into the back.

The large load box in the extended cab is also ideal for a multitude of applications. Whether you’re lugging concrete or moving house, there is ample space all the time. Of course to keep your load box scuff free, a good rubberising would be advised.

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 Verdict:

The extended cab Isuzu KB300 D-TEQ is a very capable vehicle that falls smack bam in the middle of those not looking for a double cab but need an extra bit of space. At the same time, Isuzu have not sacrificed creature comforts in the car, making it more of an all rounder. Those creature comforts will cost you R451 800 though, but some may reason that for a “best of both worlds” car, it’s not too badly priced. So for those with an active lifestyle and a need for a work bakkie, the KB300 extended cab is a good choice in its segment.

Citroen South Africa’s C4 Cactus: A proper hipster car

Citroen South Africa’s space aged plant.

If there’s one thing we can give Citroen, is that over the years they’ve been the one car maker that couldn’t give anything about what the average person considers as the norm. As a result, to say they have created bold designs would be an understatement. Think of all the cars that Citroen South Africa has brought here. For instance, remember the Citroen DS? Yes the car almost everyone’s grandfather owned. It looked like a large roach that had self-levelling suspension. Yet today, you look back at the design of the DS and the inner *hipster (see footnote) in you comes out, urging you to source one, restore it and drive it around with a large beard on your face.

Many will agree that Citroen’s designs have always been somewhat ahead of the times. Nothing has changed with one of their new cars, the C4 Cactus. Need we say more? With a name like Cactus for a car, one can’t expect anything less than a ridiculously interesting design, perhaps with protective Airbumps on the doors so no one scratches your Cactus in a parking lot. Oh wait, that’s exactly what Citroen did with this car. On first impressions, we looked at it and thought “yuck”, then after some time we realised that the only reason why we gagged was because we were in shock. After some more time we even started to think the C4 Cactus was oddly good looking. “Are we losing our minds?” we thought, as the character of the Cactus charmed us to the point where we couldn’t believe that a car named after a plant could induce such big grins behind the wheel.

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This is mainly due to the fact that upon entering a Citroen C4 Cactus, you feel like you’re in the future. The cabin is flat, wide and so very space age that they may as well throw in R2D2 to ride shot gun with you. Everything in the car is controlled by one screen. This includes the air-conditioning, the radio and the central locking too. And then there’s the driving experience, it feels very light behind the wheel, and not in a bad way. You almost feel like you’re gliding around, possibly the same feeling our grandfathers had in their DS’s. The model we had was the top of the range Shine Puretech with the 81 kW 1.2 litre turbocharged engine.

 

One would think that because the engine is quite small, the Cactus would be as fast as its namesake, but it’s the complete opposite. That little engine must’ve eaten all its vegetables because it packed a small punch enough to make us burst out in laughter at just how ridiculously quirky this car is. The Cactus is the best laugh R294 900 can buy you in this segment. How can you not smile when telling people you’re meeting up with to look out for a white Cactus approaching?

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As good as the Cactus is as an experience, and as good as it is to drive on a long road and in town, the only frustrations we have with it, was the fact that the steering wheel is not reach adjustable, and at high speed, the roof racks tend to get noisy. Besides that, the car is a very unique blast to drive. No wonder it’s a finalist for the 2016 SAGMJ Car of the year. Citroen South Africa must be very pleased about that. The fact that the small engine sips fuel is another aspect that really impresses. At the end of the day all these little things about this car come together to encompass what Citroen has always strived to be, which is to be different.

Who knows, perhaps a few decades from now our children will be looking for old Cactus’s/Cacti to restore so they too can embrace their inner hipster. Till then, if you want something otherworldly, spacious and scratch resistant, then the C4 Cactus may just be up your ally. For me information on the car, click here.

*Hipster: “Artistic” men and women who detest the “mainstream”. They’re generally identifiable through their vintage clothing, round wooden glasses and large Asterix and Obelix-like beards.

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Jerry Seinfeld gets coffee with President Obama.

Coffee with the President:

Jerry Seinfeld is best known for his 90’s comedy show that put him on the map. He is also known for his various stand up comedy shows that he has done over years. You may have also heard that Jerry Seinfeld is a car lover, so much so that over the years he has amassed himself quite the collection. You can see some of the cars he has here. Not too long ago he started a show that interviews comedians and prominent figures in the world whilst driving them in a specific car. He takes them out for coffee and asks them various questions about their lives etc etc. Well quite recently, he managed to pull off quite an interesting interview with the President of USA, check out the video below to see how it went. It turns out President Barack Obama is quite the Corvette fan. Any petrol head will agree that nothing brings car lovers together better than a simple drive and a coffee.