Month: August 2017

Volvo’s not so new S60 Polestar

Volvo S60 Polestar

The not so new Volvo S60 Polestar

So as you’ve gathered from the title, Volvo has done some fettling to their now aged but fast S60, and this is probably very important, but first some context. In around July of 2011, Volvo’s Smurf blue enthusiasts and fast car boffins Polestar, created a fast version of the S60, a car which you bought mostly because its cheap to buy used and you couldn’t afford a German car, but I digress. Polestar did some meddling with the transversely mounted 3.0-litre straight-6 turbo mill from the T6 and thus created the S60 Polestar. At the time it made an impressive 258 kW and 500 N.m, enough to rival to the likes of the BMW 335i and Audi’s S4. The big blue Swede was an interesting take on the performance sedan and offered a rather lovely package with pretty impressive numbers thanks to AWD and the big power, such as the 0-100 km/h sprint time, in the really serious sub-five category with 4.9 seconds and the usual pegged 250 km/h top speed. It was rather impressive & given its novelty, it presented itself to 25 South Africans as the top choice. Polestar called it “The car that their racing drivers drove to work.”  South Africa, being ever late to the party, only got the Swede in 2015 but it was rather well received, selling out before even hitting the shores.

Volvo S60 Polestar

Fast forward to 2016 and Volvo’s new DrivE ethos was now in full strength and the pursuit of lightweight driving dynamics had meant gone were the large displacement engines and in the new 24-kilogram lighter 2.0-litre engine with twin charging replacing the now defunct straight-6, thus ditching the rather sonorous noise it made for a supercharger whine and trubo whoosh. Linked to this impressive mill was an 8-speed box with flappy paddles. This not only meant a new engine and some new tricks to the dampening and the like, but a much more refined drive thanks to the more responsive gearbox. Although well specced, it still looks nearly identical to what it did when the car launched some years before. This coupled with the limited numbers again, and driving dynamics and performance figures that were not quite as good as the now updated rivals, meant that the S60 Polestar may not have sold as quickly as everyone had expected, but they still sold. This ultimately meant the S60 was a good offering but not the best car in the segment, just a memory, only to fade away much like it has, or has it?

Volvo S60 Polestar

Now, Volvo has done some fettling once again to the S60 Polestar, as a last hoorah if you will. 30% more downforce will grace another 23 models destined for South Africa, as well as a single V60. Thats right, we’re getting a whole Polestar wagon, Just like the one used as the safety car in the WTCC championship. The Swedes have made 250 changes to the air cutting abilities, including a front splitter, rear spoiler and side skirting, all finished in Carbon fibre. Also new are carbon fibre wing mirrors and 20-inch gloss black wheels.  Another loud hue in the form of a Bursting Blue exterior colour has been added, and,more importantly recognising the need for some attention on the dated interior, Volvo has added new charcoal leather with blue stitching, just what the ol’ girl needed.

Volvo S60 Polestar

There’s no denying that in a straight-line, the S60 Polestar will still do a good job of keeping up with the Germans, with the new model dashing to 0-100 in 4.7 seconds and a top chat of 250 km/h, limited of course, the S60 is not slow and still pretty rapid in the corners. If the current or previous model – I get confused sometimes – was anything to go by, it should be loud as the Cyan Racing blue paint. Given that this is Polestar’s first attempt at a fully fledged road car, it’s a rather good attempt and we’re looking forward to what’s yet to come from Volvo’s go-faster department.

Volvo S60 Polestar

Volvo S60 Polestar Pricing in South Africa

Pricing will be released closer to the launch, which will be later this year, but given that the previous models’ bargain pricing was just above the R700 000 mark, you can expect this to be competitively priced too.

Toyota Corolla RUNX TRD

Toyota Corolla RUNX TRD

We throwback and drive the Toyota Corolla RunX TRD

Those of you born in the late 80’s and to some degree the early 90’s will understand the shift in motoring focus from the high RPM small capacity atmospheric 20V engines, to the smaller, polar bear friendly turbo mills. See, back in what I’d describe as the good old days, the likes of the Sentra 200STi and Corolla RSI and RXI where the best way to get to places in a hurry. These were the ultimate in cheap, reliable, fast cars, far cheaper than the Germans and an absolute hoot with whizzy little engines with rather silly redlines.  Toyota knew this all too well as we loved the RSI and its 4AGE-20V engine, so much so that when they canned it and replaced it with the bloated Corolla, it was considered a great loss to the world of motoring, This was until 2003 when they slotted a 141 kW @ 7800 RPM and 180 N.m,  1.8-litre naturally aspirated 16V engine into the humble RunX, thus creating the RSi.

The Runx RSi has always been a car that I’ve wanted to own, having driven them plenty times both at the coast where they run GTI’s very close with a few breather mods, and up at altitude, where they run GTI’s very close once more. The drive I’ve always lusted over, however, is the more elusive TRD model. Toyota Racing Developments took the RSi and made everything just a little bit crisper and added some proverbial ‘Vuma’, with a short throw shifter and a set of TRD specific wheels. This lust led me to the hands of a generous owner, sporting a Black TRD with a 63mm sports exhaust,  IJEN cold air induction kit and lightened fly wheel, all mine for the day. Standard the car posted a 0-100 time of 8 Seconds and a top speed of 230km/h. Figures that don’t sound all too impressive, but in the real world this is a seriously fun car.

Driving Impressions

Picking up the car, the vehicle’s unassuming looks suggest nothing out of the ordinary and driving in town, it feels like the typical cold pudding drive that the normal models possess.  It looks like a typical RunX, no flares, no nostrils just some subtle touches like the rear spoiler and the larger wheels. On the inside, the same theme runs its course – the RunX has absolutely nothing interesting about the interior, just a small TRD logo on the on the floor mats and gear knob, but under the skin are stiffer springs and a TRD strut bar. This was very clearly a RunX before it was a TRD project. Interestingly enough, I enjoyed this, the calm nature of the car it was nothing to ring home about, a great ride, loads of space and a light clutch it was great, reminded me a lot of my mother’s Corolla of the same era. This was until a 1.4TSI Polo GTI appeared in my side view mirror at a red light. No sport buttons, no Traction Control to worry about just you and the car. The light turned green and I buried the tiny accelerator into the carpet. The front wheels scrabbling for grip as the Rev’s climbed 4000, 5000, all leading to the epic climax of the glorious VVTL-I system, which kicks in at 6200r/pm. The Variable Valve Timing and Lift-intelligent system transform the engine from potter around town mode, to ‘Kill all hatches’. The car changes it’s demeanour, a more aggressive cam profile takes over and it barks away viciously to the 8 300 rpm Rev limiter. The Polo was not far behind but through the aid of DSG, it was fast catching up but at no point did it ever make the pass. It was deadly close by the time traffic approached but more importantly, the young buck in the Polo was red with rage as though a 10-year-old grocery getter had vomited all over his Twin-charged GTI moniker.

The car is a proper riot, the engine comes alive the harder you push it and frankly, I did a fine job of kicking it about. Driven like this, the TRD is an incredibly quick car and the short throw shifter is precise and direct, very easy to bang the close ratios together in a delicious soufflé like treat.  The chassis feels light and agile like ones riding on the back of an excitable rabbit.  The steering is a tad bit light but is still very good at telling you where the front wheels are pointing.  A point to note is that unlike modern day turbocharged hatched, first-time drivers will be surprised at how hard you have to push the car to make fast progress, flat foot shifting at rev limit is the only way to ensure you stay in lift and the car doesn’t fall on its face. It required an incredible lack of vehicle sympathy as if you want to get the old girl in a hot and bother, you do have to be rather rough. Front end grip is bang on, as the grip is helped by the relatively light weight and the way the power is delivered means you can get on the gas earlier and enjoy the climb to the ‘Lift’ off that the car provides. If I had a single complaint it would be the tiny pedals that make heel-toe shifts somewhat a challenge but it’s very much an enjoyable car, still more than enough to surprise the smaller hatches and catch them out in the game of Robot Jousting. The engine loves to rev and rewards you for doing so but it’s rather easy to fall out of the sweet spot and kill all the fun. In 2017, the TRD is now ten years old but still possess the ability to teach the 2ZZ-GE a lesson. Not forgetting that it’s still a Toyota and on my quest to find one suitable for the test I came across many with over 300 thousand km’s on the clock. That still felt super tight and ran just like new.  

Toyota Toyota Corolla RUNX TRD Pricing in South Africa

Early pre-facelift RSi’s start at around R80 000 with later 2007 TRD models still fetching around R150 000. This is no small amount of money and given the way these need to be driven to deliver rapid progress, the issue of damaged transmission synchros and replaced engines will become common on cheaper and older models.

A major problem with the RunX RSi/TRD is that the engines are thirsty for oil and starvation of oil will result in almost immediate failure, but the only way this can happen is through an over-rev, but I loved the RSi and frankly still do. Nowadays, hot hatches are rather quick so one needs to be awake for you to get the car moving really quickly, but do it right and you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank!

Spring is coming! There’s a convertible for everybody.

A convertible for everybody.

Ah! Us South African’s love a good drop-top, don’t we? I mean , what’s better than cruising in the summer heat, feeling sticky whilst the leather seats give us 3rd degree burns? The reality is convertibles should be marketed as winter cars locally, because thankfully we have sunshine and a cool breeze to accompany us. This is assuming you live in Johannesburg, if you’re from Cape Town…eish askies. So, for those looking to get into summer looking fabulous, here are some cars that you might like. We’ve catered for ranging budgets here, so here goes:

Toyota Aygo X-Cite: R 189 500

Coming in at under R200K, this is a car aimed at the young, wild and free. Wild may be an overstatement since it only has a 1.0 litre engine and I don’t know if you can technically call it a convertible, but it will still allow you to feel the wind in your hair. Overall the Aygo X-Cite is an accomplished little car. It’s from a reliable brand, has great connectivity options and is well priced considering the price of anything nowadays. For someone starting out, it’s a decent drop-top to go for.

Toyota Aygo

Fiat 500C: R 240 900

If you can’t spend more than R300K and you happen to be what the youth refer to as a “hipster”, then the Fiat 500C is right up your alley. It has the “I only drink almond milk” appeal to it. Jokes aside, this is a good little car with trendy looks and a summer vibe. It only has a 0.9 litre turbocharged engine but it will still get you from A to B. Again, this is a youthful car, or rather, for someone who doesn’t require much space, as it is compact. It has all the safety features you need and you  also allows you to pair your phone and jam some Katy Perry.

Fiat 500 C

Mazda MX5 Roadster: R 441 700

In theory, this car was meant to be under R400K but we’ll let that extra bit slide. The MX5 really needs no introduction, it’s a small, visceral car that has tons of personality. For decades, the MX5 has offered thrills with its normally aspirated engine and terrific gearbox. The new one doesn’t disappoint toot, too. With it comes a BOSE sound system, heated leather seats and a big grin. It doesn’t have too much power but has enough to keep you driving. If you want some fun at under R500K, this is one great choice.

BMW 2 Series Convertible: R 600 084

Literally scraping the R600K mark, the 2 Series Convertible is a winner in SA with BMW being a brand of aspiration and all. The 220i is what you can get for that money and it gives you a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that has enough power to match its good looks. It’s only available with an 8-speed automatic gearbox so cruising is a stress free thing since all the work is done for you. Those looking for more power have a 230i to choose from and if that’s not enough then there is the M240i, but those cars cost much more. The people’s choice, then, is the 220i since it offers the performance and the looks at a palatable price.

Mercedes C Class Convertible/ Audi A5 Convertible/ BMW 4 Series Convertible -/+ R700 000

These three cars are start at the same price bracket of approximately R700K. All are German engineered and all offer 2.0 litre turbocharged engines as a starting point. There’s really no point is us telling you what’s better than what because it’s all subjective after all, there is no bad car amongst these three. What we can tell you is that all three cars appeal to different people. BMW has always been associated with dynamic driving, whilst Audi is the more chicer option. The Mercedes-Benz is stereotypically the classy car but all of them do the same thing, basically. They are luxurious, they have great standard kit and they carry enough swag to make people look. Isn’t that the whole point of having a drop top? Either way, these are three very good cars indeed.

Audi A5 Convertible

Is The Porsche 911 GTS All The Porsche You Will Ever Need?

Porsche 911 GTS

Porsche 911 GTS: All The Porsche You Need?

Flying through the cradle of mankind as the sun is lowering in the sky, onto the brakes and a delightful downshift brings more music to my ears – another crackle and pop from the Sports Exhaust system. Turning through the next bend is just as enjoyable as the rear follows the front, planted to the tarmac with inconceivable grip. The yellow McLaren MP4-12C ahead pulls a little further away before the next bend appears, we enter faster this time, drawing the bumble bee in closer again.

Porsche 911 GTS

I’m starting to realise why the car I’m driving is part of a brand which has arguably produced some of the the greatest sports cars the world has ever seen. Is this all the Porsche you would ever need? This ran through my mind while the GTS produced more evocative sounds and lightning fast gearshifts.

There are faster Porsches than this, a thought which is actually quite hard to conceive, the question still remains though, is the Porsche 911 GTS all the Porsche you need?

Porsche 911 GTS

The answer to that is quite possibly yes. You see, unlike a GT3, it has 4 seats ( 2 adults + 2 children) and unlike the Porsche 911 Turbo, it will set you back less than R2 million. It is, however, blisteringly fast. You will hit 100 km/h in the time you can count to about 3 and let’s be honest, can you really tell the difference between 2.7 seconds and 3.4? Maybe, but straight line speed isn’t all the hype, even if you can repeatedly launch the Porsche from a standstill with a simple, no caffuffle system until kingdom come – gone are days of clutch replacements after 5 rare moments of bliss.

Porsche 911 GTS

The Porsche is special, not because its rapid or because of its charming looks or even because it delivers just a magical driving experience. It’s a combination of all three, and more.

Power delivery is noticeably different to other turbo-charged sports cars, power and torque build as the revs increase similar to that of a naturally aspirated setup, there is no instant spike of torque. In fact under, 3 000 rpm the Porsche doesn’t have much at all, but in this car you don’t spend much time in the lower range anyway, it kind of eggs you on and says “push me, I dare you”.

Porsche 911 GTS

The three driving modes really help to set the mood with normal, sport and sport +. If you are looking to leave the week behind with a flat-6 symphony and driving dynamics similar to that of a racecar, then sport + is the place to be, while keeping it all fairly under control – not that’s it’s easy to unstick the rear of the 911 GTS due to the sheer amount of grip available. It’s worth noting that in the centre of the mode dial is a little button – called Sport Response, once pushed every ounce that the Porsche 911 GTS can provide is at your disposal for just 20 seconds – use it wisely. Another turn of the mode dial will engage sport mode, which is a little step back but still encourages a spirited drive and gives the pops and bangs from the sports exhaust system which we all seem to love. Then there is normal mode which as the name suggests, is probably the most boring mode to be in. For me though, this is where the magic happens.

Porsche 911 GTS

Why? Because normal mode displays one of the 911’s most beautiful strengths – being able to drive it every day, comfortably. The cabin is a very nice place to be and the systems are fairly easy to use. With the engine response and noise toned down inline with gearbox easing off, the 911 can be driven like a normal car. Further to this, the suspension also has a little more give and with the touch of a button the front end can be raised for those nasty sleeping policeman, especially as the GTS runs 10 mm lower than the standard 911.

Porsche 911 GTS

Conclusion

When you buy a Porsche, you are not just buying a sports car, you are buying into a brand, a lifestyle and of course, heritage. It may be subliminal but this is also transferred through to the driver right from when you hit the start button.

Of Course, a GT3 is a thoroughbred track day aimed vehicle, whereas the Turbo S is more powerful, faster and features 4-wheel drive – which isn’t always a bonus. Both of these vehicles come with the increased price tag which may be out of reach for many and that is the other beauty of the 911 GTS – it’s terribly quick, terribly fantastic to drive and terribly well-suited to everyday use. The GTS certainly isn’t the fastest, nor is it the most expensive sports car on the road, but from a pure driving experience it really could be one of the most special – it’s a true sports car and could be all the Porsche you ever need.

MINI JCW Countryman and Clubman Experience

John Cooper Works MINI Countryman

MINI JCW Countryman and Clubman

George is a small South African town, located on the east coast of South Africa. Wedged in between Knysna and Plett, this area is one of my favorite spots to visit while experiencing its endless forests and gracious mountain ranges. It’s also pretty cold this time of year and I very quickly realised this as I stepped off the plane, unprepared. Hoping my not so tough english skin would bare the brunt was probably a long shot, but heading inside to meet my friends at MINI SA and grab a decent cappuccino certainly helped!

After the usual formalities, we brunted the cold again (well just the english lad in the t-shirt) to meet the new John Cooper Works Clubman & Countryman. A total of six cars were lined up – 3 of each variant. Two routes were planned for each model, as even though they both feature the same 2.0-litre engine with outputs of 170 kW and 350 N.m, the Clubman & Countryman have their own appeal and are suited to different kinds of adventures. What better way to experience these vehicles than driving them in a place where they are most at home.

Up first for us was the the MINI John Cooper Works Clubman. Now, I must admit, when this car was first revealed some years ago, I really was not its biggest fan. Seeing the model now, wind swept in George, featuring a new design, additional JCW styling and a 10mm drop in ride height changed my opinion of the once dubbed “MINI Hearse”. Maybe as I advance in years my taste is becoming more accustomed. Let’s be honest, the Clubman definitely has that “Hipster appeal” and I rather like it.

 MINI John Cooper Works Clubman

A dynamic route was picked for the JCW Clubman, and as we headed towards the mountains, I was slowly customising to the JCW setup. I found the Clubman to have quite a little bit of road noise and a firm suspension – even in its softest driving mode. However, I did remind myself that this is a John Cooper Works, designed for the non-conformer and based on over 58 years of racing heritage, it really should not be any other way. Anyone looking for a comfortable drive should be looking at Cooper S down.

 MINI John Cooper Works

There was much to take in on the morning drive and being an avid photographer, I enjoyed the picturesque landscapes that surrounded us. In terms of driving, I was impressed with how the Clubman performed on Robinson’s pass. It handled the tight and twisty sections of tarmac with ease and provided a very enjoyable driving experience, especially in sport mode, which also provides a lovely audio track of pops from the exhaust system. MINI’s unique All4 system, which transfers power between the front and rear axles instantly to suit the driving situation and provide as much grip as possible, worked well in getting the Clubman out of corners. We experienced the JCW Clubman in a way inline with its purpose, to explore the great outdoors while also providing a spirited driving experience.

John Cooper Works MINI Clubman

With 250 km down and with the rain starting to pour, we headed into the wonderful town of Knysna. Even with the golden and brown textures that glace the hillsides from the recent fires, it is a still a beautiful location to visit and the MINI’s stood out nicely against the backdrop. We pulled into the Turbine hotel for a spot of lunch and judging by the dirt and dust covering the Countryman’s, we were in for a treat in the afternoon.

John Cooper Works MINI Clubman

I touched on MINI’s ALL4 system earlier, but this system really stood out on our second driving route which consisted of long, rough dirt roads bending through the mountains with pretty treacherous drop offs on the side. These were the kinds of roads many probably don’t know exist and while driving and I could not help think of the many who travelled these ways many moons ago with other means of transportation.

MINI John Cooper Works Countryman

The Countryman rides higher than the Clubman and is much more suited to the cross-country, rugged terrain. Considering the fact that these JCW models are more sports emphasized, I was pretty impressed with the comfort levels across this rough terrain which was only made worse by the very wet conditions. If the front wheels lost grip and understeer was starting to occur, the ALL4 system would transfer power to the rear wheels to maintain grip and control. This system was definitely emphasized on the wet, loose conditions as traction is lost much more easily and happens in what could be described a slow-motion, allowing us to experience the system in action.

MINI John Cooper Works Countryman

The climbs and drops on these tight roads were definitely a fun experience, however, I did have to remind myself not to stare at the glorious scenery and snow topped mountain tips for too long but I learned that the Countryman is not as fragile as I thought it was, and can definitely handle itself when the going gets rough.

Tech & Systems

Technology is at the forefront on the MINI brand- the recently updated MINI connected system enables a wider and easier user experience. Vehicle data is transferred to the driver’s mobile device providing information such fuel, range and even live ETA’s to destinations and meetings marked in your calendar. It is very similar the BMW System but with a MINI spin and I enjoy the way the systems and menus are set out and designed. It is not just a menu or a graphic, it is a MINI menu, totally unique. This is consistent throughout the system and design, even through to the driving modes in which Green, Mid & Sport all have their own graphics and displays. It’s very well thought out and plays in line with the brand nicely.

MINI John Cooper Works Countryman

Overall

A very well planned day resulted in great driving experiences from two similar but very different cars. Both variants have ample space for family, luggage and anything else you might want to pack. Which car you pick really depends on your location, are you an intrepid traveller who keeps to the open road but is looking for a distinctive, eye catching vehicle? Or do you like to a live a little on the dirty side and have the freedom and confidence you can go off the beaten track whenever you feel like it? Well, only you know the answer to that, but rest assured which ever JCW you pick, your road ahead will be a fun one.

 

MINI John Cooper Works  Pricing in South Africa 

 

John Cooper Works Clubman ALL4 6-Speed Manual: R558,612

John Cooper Works Clubman ALL4  8-Speed Sports Auto: R584,516

John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4 6-Speed Manual: R610,612

John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4 8-Speed Sports Auto: R636,510

 

BMW 440i vs Audi S5 – Decisions decisions.

BMW 440i Coupe South Africa

BMW 440i vs Audi S5

Do you have a R1million to spend on a coupe? Are you torn between a BMW 440i or an Audi S5? Well, you’re in good hands, TheMotorist is here to help you decide…

If only things worked like that. You read an article online. You make your mind up and off you go into either an Audi or BMW dealership and you drive away as the sales team cheers you off. Firstly, sales people don’t cheer you off, by the time you’ve driven off they’re just super glad they don’t have to talk about discounts with you anymore. I digress. The truth is, if you’re going to spend R1 million, you kind of know what you want. Right? Also, we all have preferences – so if you’re an Audi guy, get the S5 and if you like Beemers, give them a ring. What we want to do in this article is objectively compare the two models and see what comes out on top. So first and foremost, the looks.

BMW 440i Coupe South Africa

Who’s the fairest of them all?  

The 4 Series is a hit in SA. Everywhere you go people are driving these things. The problem we have with the 4 Series is that besides the amount of exhausts you have and the badge in the rear, they all look the same. Obviously, you have different model lines to choose from, but we wish the 440i had something about it that says, “I’m a 440i, not a 420i!!!”. Don’t tell me the two large exhausts are the differentiator because non-car people won’t even notice that. The S5 at least has different outside trimmings compared to the standard S Line models, so you can notice a slight difference. Again, it’s not huge because Audi loves to keep things low-key but you do have four exhaust pipes on the S5. So there’s that. The interiors on both cars are top notch, but the S5 has nicer seats and the BMW has a nicer dashboard. The S5 does have Apple CarPlay so that’s a big win, but BMW’s infotainment system also works really well. Whatever you do in both cars, you always need to go for the higher spec sound system. Audi calls it 3D surround and BMW has Harman Kardon.

The engines:

The only reason why you’d be buying either an S5 or a 440i is because your co-worker has a lesser model and you want to show them who’s boss, no? Either that or you’re a petrol head and fancy yourself some speed. This is the trickiest part between choosing between these two cars because both have SUCH nice engines. The Audi sounds nicer since it’s a 3.0 V6, but BMW’s new in-line 3.0 6 cylinder “B58” is the Greek yogurt of the range, so pure and creamy. Both cars feel just as fast and understandably so as you get 240kW in the 440i and 260kW in the S5. The BMW may have less power, but you’d have to be mad woke to notice a real difference. Where the difference comes in, is the drivetrain setup.

Quattro VS RWD:

The age-old debate between 4WD and RWD is a long standing one. We all love a good “slidey” RWD car but ask yourself, when am I going to do big slides in my car? If drifting is a concern, then the 440i is the obvious choice. But answer me this, do you attend many track days? Do you have access to an airfield? Do you have an endless budget for tyres? If you answered no to two of those questions, then RWD vs 4WD shouldn’t be your concern. “But don’t Quattro’s understeer?” You may wonder. Anything understeers if you come into a corner too quickly. The fact is that both the S5 and the 440i handle beautifully on regular roads and twisty ones, the average person will enjoy both cars at speed.

BMW 440i vs Audi S5

So, what’s the best then?

Again, both packages are very good indeed. The Audi wins when you’re sitting inside the car, but the BMW looks better on the outside. The Audi sounds better and has one hell of an engine, but the BMW’s engine is just as good. Money talks and this is where most decisions are made. The S5 will cost you R928 000 whereas the 440i will cost you R864 976. Both those prices don’t include options but an approximate difference of R60 000 between the two is interesting. If you’re financing, it’s not going to be a huge difference, either way you’re in for a big installment. What would we take home? I hate to say it but the BMW 440i is our top pick and before you scream “We knew it!”, the decision is based largely on the following: It’s all good and well to buy a new car but a time will come when you need to get rid of it. This is where the BMW wins because it’s biggest disadvantage is also its biggest advantage. There are many 4 Series models on the roads so you may lose out on the exclusivity you’ll have in the S5, but there is a bigger demand for the 4 Series in the used market. This means that when the time comes for you to trade in your 4 Series, you’ll get a better trade in value over an S5, purely because of the demand. For that reason, we’d drive away in the BMW. Besides that, both cars are a very good match for each other.

New BMW M5 officially revealed: Where to from here?

New BMW M5

New BMW M5 officially revealed

“Who needs a supercar when BMW’s new M5 and Mercedes AMG’s E63 are around?”

Let’s just begin with that 0-100 km/h time of 3.4 seconds. Like. Uhm. What? Basically, if you’re a speed chaser, you don’t need a supercar. With cars like the new M5 around, the only real reason you would want a supercar would be because you would like the aesthetics and attention that comes with a car such as that. That is understandable because for some, nothing beats being in a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. For those, however, who happen to have children and other dependants and a general lack of R6 million, these new age super saloons will do you just fine.

New BMW M5

Predictable looks:

Unlike the likes of the M4/M3, the look of an M5 has become quite predictable. Many renderings of the car look very similar to the finished product. BMW has always kept the design of the car understated, with slightly wider fenders and flares here and there and of course the signature four exhaust pipes we’ve seen on every M5 since the E39. Let’s not lie to ourselves though, the G90 M5 looks good. The 5 Series range in general looks great so it’s not mind blowing to see that the M5 has followed suit. Where the G90 really shines with regards to its design, however, is the interior. I mean, look at those seats. Mmm mm mm!

New BMW M5

The good stuff:

Besides the way it looks, the real reason we care so deeply about the M5 is because of its ability to hunt supercars, as well as the fact that it can probably kill you if you’re not nice to it. Anyone who drove the F10 will attest to its ability to humble even the most skilled, should you be brave enough to stand toe to toe with it with no assistance activated. The G90, though, may be the most controllable M5 yet.

New BMW M5

The reason why this will be the most forgiving M5 is because it has M xDrive fitted to it. This system is 4WD but allows for all the power to be sent to the rear wheels, depending on the mode you’re in. As a result, in 4WD mode you can confidently exploit all 441 kW & 750 Nm from its 4.4 litre Twin Turbo V8 and not run into a tree of sorts, as the rear slides uncontrollably and your hands are all over the place trying to remember how Chris Harris does it. We all knew that this next M5 was going to have a 4WD system because you simply can’t have so much power in a RWD car and tell an average driver to go and play. That does create a problem for those that want to enjoy some skids, or rather the idea of skidding around town, however. So, to keep everyone happy, the G90 can toggle between different modes. It’s funny how we read about this setup months ago from BMW, but Mercedes-AMG were the first to do it in the segment with their E63 S, which I’m sure grinds the people at BMW. Anyway, it doesn’t matter who did it first, what matters is who does it best. From what we hear about the E63 S, the system works amazingly, not interrupting in anyway. You can be sure that the G90 will do the same, though, as BMW loves a good drift.

Besides going sideways, the benefits of having a 4WD car are simple, more traction all the time. In real world conditions, nothing beats being able to put your power down and having confidence in your car, something these new super saloons will allow you to do.

New BMW M5

All in all, the G90 M5 is the fastest production BMW to date. The question is, where to from here? Are we really going to have a sub 3 second super saloon sometime in the future? Maybe even in the G90 generation, especially since BMW loves their special editions. Who knows? All we know is that we live in a crazy, power-hungry time. What matters most is not the figures but rather how the car will make you feel behind the wheel. There’s something very satisfying about a large car that can handle in a way that defies physics and keeps you entertained at the same time. The real fight between this car and the Mercedes-AMG E63 S is not which is the fastest, but rather what’s the most entertaining. Time will tell…

New BMW M5

BMW M5 Pricing in South Africa

The M5 will be available in South Africa during the first quarter of 2018 with a approximate price of R1.8M. The BMW M5 First Edition, featuring a unique Frozen Dark Red Metalic Paintwork will also be available in very limited quantities in SA, with only 400 being produced worldwide. The cost of the First Edition is approximately  R300k on top of the standard model.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Edition C Released in South Africa

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Edition C

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Edition C

What does one do when they want their new car to look and feel like the powerful, top of the range model, but just can’t reach the lofty price tag? Well, Mercedes-Benz seems to have the answer, it’s called the C-Class Edition C.

Edition C is a new and unique model added to the C-Class range offering luxury trim lines and options for exterior and interior, providing more individuality and sportiness.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Edition C

Exterior

The exterior of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Edition C features the AMG sports package, including 18-Inch 5 Spoke Light Alloys and full LED Headlamps and rear tail lights. Further to this, sports suspension comes standard to emphasise the sporty drive.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Edition C

Interior

The interior of Edition C has been based upon Mercedes-Benz’s luxury Avantgarde line. A trim of open-pore black ash and aluminium grace the interior, with a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel finishing things off. For added appeal, interior features such as ambient lighting are included to go along with comfort options such Active Park Control and the Electronic Mirror Package.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Edition C

The edition C is available across the whole sedan range for both petrol and diesel variants. If you are looking at purchasing a C-Class but fancy something a little different without the price tag of an AMG Variant, then the Edition C could be right up your alley!

Mercedes Benz C-Class Edition C Pricing in South Africa

C 180 Edition C R614 600

C 200 Edition C R639 900

C 250 Edition C R667 000

C 300 Edition C R 707 200

C 220 d Edition C R667 100

C 250 d Edition C R696 300

First Drive Of The New Honda CR-V

New Honda CR-V

New Honda CR-V: First Drive.

Certain things come to mind when you think of a Honda. Reliability, precision and your grandparents. The Japanese way of making bullet proof cars is something Honda has done right for many years, but certain models in the brand are still perceived as a fit for a more elderly market, and therefore, less exciting. This is a harsh statement to make, especially considering Honda’s effort to make their newer products more exciting. Perhaps we need to give them a break? Well, judging by the new Civic, we’re convinced that the stigma needs to be laid to rest. Following through with fresher products, we now have a new Honda CR-V that we’ve driven. From a styling perspective it looks modern and has some interesting lines. When it was first launched in the 90’s, the CR-V came at a time when SUV’s weren’t all the rage. As a result, it was ahead of its time, causing people to gain interest in the car. Fast forward to 2017, every brand and its dog is releasing an SUV/crossover of sorts, so competition is tough.

New Honda CR-V

Where does it fit in?

At a starting price of R422 900, it comes in competitively considering its size. It is neither a compact SUV, nor is it very large, making it ideal for young families in need of enough space. A large push has been made by Honda to make the brand more premium. This can be seen in the interior of the new CR-V as the use of hard plastics has been replaced by nicer to touch materials. An infotainment system similar to that in the Civic is used as well, giving you Bluetooth audio as well as USB functionality. Being a family orientated car, rear luggage space is a generous 522 litres and the rear seats can be split 60:40. Overall, the interior feels retro, certain things remind you of the Hondas of old but just modernised.

New Honda CR-V

What’s on offer?

Johannesburgers will be happy to know that the 1.5 Turbocharged engine has been made available in the new CR-V. It’s the same one you’d find in a the current Civic, so you get a pleasant 140 kW/240 N.m. Coastal dwellers,however, will be happy to have the 2.0-litre atmospheric engine which develops 113 kW/189 N.m. The 2.0-litre is offered in Comfort and Elegance specification. Both variants come with a decent amount of standard spec such as safety features like ABS, Hill Assist and driver fatigue assist. The Elegance does come with a larger infotainment screen and leather seats. The same goes for the 1.5 Turbo engine, it is offered in two variants – Exclusive and Executive. The 1.5 Turbo CR-V’s are All Wheel Drive, whereas the 2.0-litre models are Front Wheel Drive. All models use a CVT gearbox which still tends to drag its feet but is made better with paddle shifts which mimic a standard automatic transmission.

How does it drive?

The new Honda CR-V is undoubtedly a comfortable car to sit in. One could easily spend hours behind the wheel and not get cabin fever. The NVH levels are low, the sound system is good and the car makes sense ergonomically. As a city commuter or a weekend getaway car, this car makes sense. Again this has a lot to do with the premium push that Honda has made, which has resulted in a good overall package. Dynamically, the car also feels very planted with very little body roll even in sharp corners. A lot has been done in terms of suspension development to create an agile car for its class.

New Honda CR-V

Overall:

The new Honda CR-V comes from a heritage of much-loved vehicles in certain parts of the world. In the US for instance, the car sells tremendously well. South Africans do have their favourites which operate in this segment and the new CR-V may battle to persuade some to jump ship. Those, however, who know the brand and what it stands for will welcome this new CR-V with open arms. It is well accomplished and has a lot to offer to its target market.  

 

Honda CR-V Pricing and in South Africa

CR-V 2.0 Comfort                          R422 900

CR-V 2.0 Elegance                         R477 900

CR-V 1.5T Executive                       R584 900

CR-V 1.5T Exclusive                       R626 900

The range is backed by a comprehensive five-year/200 000 km warranty, as well as a five-year/90 000 km service plan.

Also included is a three-year AA Road Assist package. Scheduled services are at 15 000 km intervals for the 2.0-litre models, and 10 000 km for the 1,5-litre turbo variants.

The New Fiat Panda 4X4

The Fiat Panda 4X4

A very short four years ago, Fiat reintroduced the cute mini-SUV that is the Panda to the South African market once again. This model was a fun way of cutting through the gridlock of the city as the 4X4 models had been ditched in favour of more market friendly FWD models, namely the humorous Panda Easy and the Panda Lounge.

PANDA 4X4

This week saw the introduction of the new facelifted model and the reintroduction of the most compact way to traverse mountains and get you through the roads less travelled. The facelift sees the return of the Panda 4X4, and as the name suggests, all-wheel drive is now offered by a “Torque on demand system”, supplemented by an Electronic Locking Differential (ELD) that aids in the provision of traction. More 4X4 trickeries include 150mm of ground clearance, model specific bumpers with integrated skid plates, protective side mouldings, and flared wheel arches. A three-mode terrain response system, designed to help assist in adventures, is also offered. On the interior, the 4X4 features a green fascia that encompasses the instruments and storage bins. The choice of either green, pumpkin or beige upholstery complement the leather door cards to add to the funky nature of the vehicle. Equally, two new flavours will be added to the palette of colours, these being Orange and Tuscany Green.   

PANDA CROSS

The top-spec duties are taken up by the Panda Cross which looks as though it’s been carbo-loading, boet, with its aggressive and rugged appearance. The skid plates and protective panels are available with an optional ‘Cross Plus Pack’ that allows for an Ultrashine silver colour to certain parts of the body work. The tow hooks are now finished in red and at the rear, the bumper now comes with underbody protection and a chrome tail pipe. The wheel arches and side mouldings with a ‘Cross’ embossed badging are complemented by roof rails to finish the rough and tough look. The Cross comes with different Lights and Fog lamps that feature LED daytime running lights in the lower section of the front bumper and Ground clearance is upped to 161 mm. A set of 15″ alloy wheels replace the steel rims of the lesser Easy and Lounge models.

DRIVETRAIN

Powering all models of the Panda is a 2-cylinder 0.9-litre TwinAir engine lifted from the 500. The Easy and Lounge Models feature an output of 63 kW and 145 Nm, driven through a 5-speed manual with drive to the front wheels or “panda paws” and is said to return consumption figures as low as 4.2 l/100km. The 4X4 features the same 63 kW engine, but has 6-ratios and returns 4.9 l/100km.

The Panda Cross offers an additional 3 kW to make 66 kW, driven through a 6-speed manual and is claimed to return the same figure.

INTERIOR

The Panda Easy and Lounge feature a Bluetooth UConnect radio system with audio streaming, MP3 player, USB and voice recognition. Steering controls are optional on the Easy and Lounge and standard on the All-wheel drive models. The 4X4 model features a titanium finished dashboard, which is silver on the Cross.

 

Fiat Panda 4X4 Pricing In South Africa

Fiat Panda 0.9 TwinAir Easy: R184 900

Fiat Panda 0.9 TwinAir Lounge: R199 900

Fiat Panda 0.9 TwinAir 4×4: R229 900

Fiat Panda 0.9 TwinAir 4×4 Cross: R249 900

Inclusive in the price is a 3-year/100 000 km warranty and 3-year/100 000 km service plan with service intervals being every 15 000 km.