Naturally, as humans, we have high expectations of certain things. If for example, you had booked a few nights at a top 5-star hotel you would expect the room, food, and service to be excellent. Maybe you decided to treat yourself and fly business class, once again you have certain expectations that you expect to be met. These same thoughts ran through my head before the Volvo XC90 arrived at our offices. I never really have expectations when testing new cars because I prefer to have an open mind on every vehicle I drive. When the car comes with the title “Car of the year 2016” though, it’s kind of hard to ignore. My expectations were high as I had never driven an XC90 before this and was excited to find out what all the hype was about.
The XC90 I drove was the T5 R-Design in Onyx Black Metallic, wow it’s a looker. I don’t mind saying that this car is one of if not the best looking SUV on the road right now. The R-design sports body kit and 20-inch wheels set this car apart. I fell for this car before I even drove it and that does not happen often. The technical aspect of this car is advanced with world first items such as pedestrian and cyclist detection, to the head up display. It’s got the lot! One thing I really enjoyed in this car which I struggle to enjoy in others, is the Sensus connect touchscreen infotainment system. Many of the full touch screen systems in cars today annoy me as they often don’t work properly. They can be difficult to use which distracts from the road. The Sensus system is different, It works well and is very responsive.
Behind the wheel
Driving this vehicle is an experience you don’t often get, but it’s one you will remember. The 187 kW provided from the 2L 4-cylinder power plant is nearly perfect for the size and weight, big SUV’s don’t always need to be overpowered monsters. I found the XC90 to be very driver based, everything focuses on you and the non-intrusive head up display finishes this feeling off. It’s not just the tech that makes this car great, though, it’s also how it drives. Remove half of the gizmos and you would still get the same experience every time you drive it. It makes me feel like I am in command of a futuristic spaceship, I feel in charge on the road and that is an awesome feeling to have. The driving performance of this vehicle is also very enjoyable, it accelerates and handles well for its size and this fits in with the sporty design. If batman drove an SUV, this would be it.
The problem with the XC90 is that there is no problem. I went looking for issues or things I didn’t like and the only issue I found was that the ambient lighting system in the doors and footwells don’t change colour like the overhead ambient lights. Pretty insignificant I know. Apart from that, the attention to detail is on point, even the start/stop switch is worthy of an award. My 300 words are long gone, but I’m going to finish with this. This is one very special vehicle.
Often, one will misread a situation or underestimate a task to be undertaken, but such foolishness very seldom results in a catastrophe. That is, unless you think it wise to ask a fashion blogger to accompany you on the launch of Mitsubishi’s limited-run Pajero Legend II.
The launch in question consisted of a calm freeway drive to an off-road course, followed by a competitive morning of extreme-ish off-roading which all demonstrated the Pajero’s adaptability, highlighting its multifaceted appeal and renowned duality.
New for 2016, the Legend II sports R50 000 worth of extras as part of the R759 900 purchase price, options which include a heavy-duty protection plate below the engine, another below the gearbox assembly and heavy duty rock sliders on the LWB model. Yokohama Geolander dual-purpose tyres are also fitted. A heavy duty Bosal tow bar, Pajero stamped chrome nudge bar and keyless entry, Garmin nüviCam and a full set of rubber mats all form part of the Legend II package. All of this is supplemented with a 3-year/100 000kms mechanical warranty, as well as a 5-year/100 00kms maintenance plan.
Mitsubishi’s tried and tested 3.2 DI-D turbo-diesel motor does duty here, offering up 140kW and 441Nm from just 2 000 rpm. This motor can also run on 500ppm diesel which makes for unhindered traversing in climates with lower quality diesel. This motor is impressive in its refinement and returned an impressive 9l/100km on our trip to and from the off-road venue.Mitsubishi’s Super-Select II 4WD system is standard as would be expected, offering a wide range of locking diffs, everything you’d need to tackle a mountain or pavement which was proven to us during our stint off-road. This is where the Pajero impressed most.
Creature comforts and interior refinement are remarkable for this sort of vehicle, be it on or off the beaten track. This was highlighted by the fact that my fashion conscious co-pilot felt tempted to name the Pajero in a jiffy, despite its bold looks and brutish nature. The only glaring criticism I had of the Pajero was its reluctance to get going under heavy acceleration, during an overtaking manoeuvre for instance, but then again, it’s hardly a sports car, is it?
Without laying too much blame on my lovely navigator, no level of driving prowess can prepare you for hand gestures while blindfolded and her all-important Snapchat story on a 30° incline, but all that this demonstrated was the Pajero’s jaw-dropping capability and ability to turn the most inexperienced off-roaders into Dakar champions in five seconds flat. All this while still being able to get us home in pure luxury and comfort!
Did we win? No. Did we get last place prizes in the form of snazzy braai kits? Of course.
Stylish and trendy are not two words that comes to mind when you think of a Honda Civic. For different generations the nameplate can mean different things. The more advanced in age may think of the reliable Ballade they loved once upon a time. Whereas the younger folk may picture a sporty hatchback and things like VTEC technology. The new Honda and Civic can be called somewhat stylish and even trendy too.
Upon looking at the lines of the new Honda Civic, one gets the sense that the brand is trying to marry the two generations interests with the new car. On the one hand, you have a sedan that offers great amounts of space and practicality. On the other hand you have a sporty model that features a 1.5 litre VTEC turbocharged engine. How does all this work out?
The new Civic has a choice of four models, Comfort, Elegance, Executive, and Sport. The Comfort and Elegance are softer in appearance and have normally aspirated 1.8-litre four-cylinder engines producing 104 kW and 174Nm. The Sport is more noticeable as it has a stylish rear wing and larger wheels to match the aggressive body styling, whilst the Executive is premium in appearance. Powering the Sport and Executive is a 1.5 litre VTEC Turbocharged four cylinder that makes 127kW and 220Nm. All models in the new Civic range use a CVT gearbox that is surprisingly non-obtrusive and easy to work with.
How does it drive?
Comfortably. The most notable thing about being behind the wheel of the new Honda Civic is just how you never tire of the car. It is a vehicle that can be comfortably taken on a long trip. Even in the Sport model, it is less about performance and more about refinement. Yes, the performance is there but more for usability instead of excitement.
Spending the day in the new Civic left us feeling confident that this 10th generation version will appeal to current Honda owners, as well as attract new customers. The segment this car operates in is one that is quite competitive. With its new design and modern technologies though, the new Civic may be able to hold its own. While it’s pricing for the top of the range Executive model may be a tough pill to swallow, the entry level Comfort model seems much more reachable for average buyers.
*For the full review of the new Honda Civic, catch our latest issue of TheMotorist Digital Magazine next month.
Eight months into 2016 and Mercedes-Benz, along with their newly named ‘Mercedes-AMG’ division continue their new-car onslaught, this time with a slew of trendy and rapid two-doors. A delightful event was recently held at Zwartkops raceway where journalists were given the chance to sample Stuttgart’s newest sportscars.
Mercedes-Benz recently decided to throw the entire alphabet at its range, the latest victim being the SLK, now known as the SLC. Despite its drastic name change, only the eagle eyed will be able to spot its rounded new face and snazzy grille, this is still the SLK your hairdresser knows and loves. Sort of. At R680 000, the SLC200 is the base model and serves up 135kW and 300Nm from its 2.0 litre 4-pot turbo. This is the same engine doing service in the mid-range SLC300, albeit with 180kW and 370Nm. Gone is the potent V8 of yore, replaced by a more modern 3.0 biturbo V6 dishing out 270kW and 520Nm, ensuring a 0-100km/h dash of just 4.7 seconds. This has been dubbed the SLC43 and will be the first of the ‘43’ AMG’s to hit our shores at a little less than R990 000. How exciting?
Since 1954, the SL has arguably been the last word in uncompromised grand touring and this is something that shines through brighter than ever in the updated SL. Similar to the SLC43’s biturbo V6, the unit propelling the SL400 appears here in 270kW and 500Nm guise and is more than enough to displace your wig with prices starting from R1 440 743. With its silky smooth 9-speed auto, 700Nm of torque and a classic V8 burble to match the SL’s silhouette, the SL500 makes short work of beach promenades and Clifton driveways. The range spans all the way to the SL65 with a tyre-eating 1000Nm of torque – that is, if you have R3.2 million lying around.
C63 & C63 S Coupe
With 350kW and 650Nm at the mercy of your right foot, the Mercedes-AMG C63 and C63 S Coupe are the bahn stormers BMW’s M4 has been dreading. An AMG rumble and balanced chassis adds to what is already a competent coupe, now with extra grrrrr and a price to match it’s pace – R1 268 700 for the C63 and R1 382 000 for the C63 S Coupe. The C63 Convertible joins the rest of the range later in 2016.