Month: September 2017

New beginnings for Ford? Facelifted Kuga is here.

New Ford Kuga

New beginnings for Ford? Facelifted Kuga is here.

So, there’s a new (read facelifted Kuga) and it’s near impossible to discuss the new Ford Kuga in South Africa, without referencing the controversial “Kuga Fires” in the old car. As you know, this terrible situation led to a massive recall and even greater reputational damage to the brand. So, you can imagine how awkward it must be then, to make a happy occasion of the new Kuga launching in South Africa. The problem faced with Ford now is, how do you move on? How do you rebuild the trust that has been broken? These are the questions the product manager in SA has had to ask himself as we sit in a press conference during the launch. At the point, I am incredibly grateful to be on my side of the fence and not his.

New Ford Kuga

Where to from here?

In a nutshell, this is what the Kuga recall has accomplished. The campaign’s first phase has reached 93% of affected customers and Ford is actively looking for the remaining 7%. This recall affected 1.6 EcoBoost vehicles built between May 2012 and September 2014. A second phase was also initiated which included hardware changes as well in the vehicles. To further show their commitment to their clients, when the facelifted Kuga arrived in South Africa, the affected customers were given first preference to experience the car. Normally, the motoring media are given the vehicles to give their unbiased opinion on the car, but things were switched up this time – which is probably good because the customers come first, not the media.

So, since the affected customers have already driven this car, they’ve already probably formulated an opinion on it. New consumers on the other hand maybe still weary of the nameplate, for obvious reasons such as potentially bad resale value. Before getting into the looks and how it drives, we need to discuss the fact that this new car comes in cheaper than the previous one, approximately 7% cheaper. Ford will tell you that “the Rand has been good to them” but in reality, this is another way to rebuild that trust, which again is a good thing for the consumer. One more thing, the engine that caused all the issues is not even available in the facelifted Kuga and was on run-out in the previous one too. That hopefully eliminates any worries in the eyes of potential customers. Okay, now let’s chat about the new car.

New Ford Kuga

What’s new?

What is on offer now in terms of engines is the 1.5 litre EcoBoost, the 2.0 TDCI, as well as the 2.0 EcoBoost for those that want a lot of power. As usual, different trim packaging is available in the form of Ambiente, Trend and Titanium specification. Manual gearboxes are available on the 1.5 EcoBoost but the two 2.0 engines use automatic transmissions. In terms of tech, the SYNC 3 infotainment system is standard on Trend and Titanium models. This means you get Apple CarPlay and optional navigation. The functionality of Apple CarPlay in my mind makes in built navigation useless as Apple’s system uses its own maps which work very well. A Driver Assistance Package available on the Trend and Titanium will give you Blind Spot Detection, Lane keep/departure warning and Adaptive Cruise Control. All of which work well as our drive in the car revealed.

On the outside, the new look of the Kuga may fool you to think it’s a new car. It’s only a facelift but it does look pretty. The front and rear end has been redesigned, making it look sharper and more aesthetically pleasing. The interior is also of a good standard, not as premium as its rivals, but not cheap in any way. In this segment, there is a lot of competition so your choices are vast. The likes of a Volkswagen Tiguan or Mazda CX5 are tough competitors.

New Ford Kuga

 

So then, how does it drive?

On launch, the 1.5 EcoBoost automatic was available as well as the 2.0 TDCI. The 1.5 is front wheel drive only, whereas both the 2.0 engines are all-wheel drive, via a Haldex system. The little 1.5 is probably the best bang for buck for those looking for a large car with a raised ride height. If you’re a city dweller that barely does any off-road driving, you won’t need more than the 110kW/240N.m on offer from the engine. At R427 900 it comes in attractively too. Comfort levels are good and dynamically the car handled the 150km test route with ease. A slight wind noise here and there was apparent but we were in Eastern Cape after all. Overall however, the most complete package is the 2.0 TDCI. The powertrain in this car is very capable. With 400N.m you’re sorted for any situation, be it general overtaking in the city or long-distance driving. This engine feels better mated to the automatic transmission than the 1.5 EcoBoost, mainly due to the added torque.

Overall, the facelifted Kuga is a good car. It was never a bad car to begin with in terms of its capabilities or attributes. In fact, before the “Kuga Fires” incident, it was a highly recommended vehicle. Now that the old engine is gone, a new design is here and the pricing is lower – it’s simply a matter of allowing time to heal the wounds. Consumers are not as difficult to crack as they seem to be, one day Ford will look back on this situation and think, “That Kuga really showed us flames”. Pun intended.  

 

Ford Kuga Pricing in South Africa

Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Ambiente 6MT FWD            R368 800

Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Ambiente 6AT FWD             R381 900

Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Trend 6MT FWD                  R406 400

Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Trend 6AT FWD                   R427 900

Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi Trend 6AT AWD                          R483 900

Ford Kuga 2.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6AT AWD              R497 900

Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi Titanium 6AT AWD                     R506 900

 

 

Volvo is on a roll! Welcome the new Volvo XC40

XC40

The New Volvo XC40

It’s no secret by now that Volvo are on a serious roll, with some of their recent models being the most handsome vehicles on the roads. Their recipe has almost been perfected and while they have always managed to retain their own identity, for some it was perhaps just a little too far removed from the Germans – because of course we all want to be like them…

XC40

The XC40 is the latest offering from the crafty Swedes and its set to take on the likes of Mercedes-Benz’s GLA, the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3, albeit in Swedish fashion, literally.

Unveiled in Milan, Volvo were clever in waiting for all the hype of the Frankfurt Motorshow to die down before letting the world set their eyes on their new baby SUV, thus taking centre stage and wowing the world with its chic design and handsome proportions.

The interior promises to revolutionise the way we think of space within a car, providing ample space for things like bottles, handbags, a space designed specifically for your cellphone, with induction charging, ad a removable waste bin within the centre console to minimise cabin clutter and litter – how clever?

XC40

Based on Volvo’s new CMA modular platform, it is Volvo’s first foray into the C Segment Premium SUV space with this platform set to find use across Volvo’s 40 series, as well as in electric vehicles to come.

At launch, D4 and T5 derivatives will be on offer with the range expanding into both hybrids and fully electric derivatives down the line. It goes without saying that Volvo’s impressive array of safety features, of course, are present, systems we have become familiar with in both the 60 and 90 range of Volvo’s.

XC40

Volvo Care is another new innovation from the brand which sees its debut in the XC40 which is said to make vehicle ownership as “transparent, easy and hassle free as having a mobile phone.”  Down payments and price negotiations are apparently a thing of the past with Volvo Care which, after a monthly flat-free subscription, will include access to a range of niceties such as service pick-up, refuelling, cleaning of your vehicle and e-commerce delivery to your Volvo, as well as access to car sharing facilities thanks to Volvo on Call and new digital key technology.

XC40

While GLA, X1 and Q3 are direct competitors, there is a good chance that potential non-premium brand shoppers might consider the XC40 due to its size and likely competitive pricing.

Production begins in November so expect local units to hit South African shores within the first quarter of 2018.

We Drive the hot R56 MINI JCW GP

My afternoon with the R56 MINI JCW GP

The Police officer asked, “Sir, Do you know how fast you were going?” to which I stupidly replied “I don’t know, but a lot faster than you” – Interesting story that, but first; the R56 MINI JCW.

This was the stiletto sized hot hatch boxer with the charisma and heart of a size 12 Timberland boot. It punched so far above its weight it was silly and, well, I loved the thing. I drove it like a wasp in the summer, ready to sting far bigger and far more “manly” hatches. I also loved the silly little 1.6-litre engine and all its 155 kW and 260 N.m, the with additional 20 N.m on over-boost. It was incredibly good fun and the most fun was the warm fuzzy feeling you get after toughly annoying GTI’s and their everyman point and go DSG gearboxes. It’s a car I loved so much that I tried to buy one myself, until I found out how much they cost then I didn’t like it at all, in fact, I quite hated it – because I couldn’t have one nothing else. In my, mind MINI exists only to make me angry and as they were doing a good job of this, the only way they could improve on my frustration was to make an even more hardcore Jean Claude van Damme version, dubbed the GP2.

The GP was the JCW on anabolic steroids, an extra 5kws pushing power to 160 kW from the same 1.6 PSA motor, as well as fully adjustable coilover suspension, a rear chassis strengthening bar where the rear seats were and extra sticky slivers of rubber on a set of 17-inch light-weight bespoke wheels. All this and a set of plush yet supportive Recaros and fat brakes. This was the ultimate and the hottest version of the car I properly love for all its mannerisms and now it was even better because all of the rubbish that got in the way of the pure unadulterated driving experience was left on a shelf at MINI. I wanted one, hell I wanted simply to drive one but with only 2000 built and the hand full brought to our shores, it meant this was only a dream, until now!

Driving Impressions

Picking up the MINI from the dealer, I knew the only thing I wanted to do was spend the day beating it up and hopefully under the conditions of the exchange of my first born child, they would let me take it home forever.  Much elation came over me as I was handed the keys and eager to get going  I pushed the Stop/Start button and the GP unassumingly came life. This was an impeccable example having covered just 28 000 km’s since it left the showroom in 2013. Leaving to the car to warm up I mulled the numbers in my head, 0-100 in 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 242km/h, this was no baby hatch and the pursuit for suitable robot jousting candidates and winding roads began.

 

Initially, the picking were sparse, nobody wanted to play and although splashing Ubers in their Corollas was fun it was a waste of time. Having given up the search for a play mate I approached the three robots leaving the busy parts of town and heading towards the twisties. A quick look at the temperature gauge that read 31 scorching degrees I began to think about what I fancied for lunch, this was until a white facelift focus ST lined up to my left and the thought of food disappeared instantly – does he want some I thought? And the aggressive rev he let of said he indeed did.  Before I knew it the light went green and we both launched the cars hard, scrabbling for grip the revs climbed as I grabbed second, he edged ahead but not by much, a bumper at most, and all I could think was “Mooooonica” as the ST’s lead stayed constant until the next light. Again we lined up, this time I was far more determined and serious his 184kw was a big mountain to climb but I was keen and stupid enough to try. I turned the aircon and the radio off, held the ASC button down for the least electronic interference possible and held the rev’s at 2 and a half grand, ready. The light again went green and this time I got the perfect launch, and as he grabbed second I got my nose ahead and after a full attack of second and third we both slammed on the breaks with the ABS fighting and tugging away at the wheel violently but we got the cars to stop and lined up the third and final time.  This time no eye contact was made, it was just all seriousness and all go, Green and again a fantastic launch but sadly as I went for second all I got was rev’s and no go – Mishift! Damn. Indicating away to my winding road a friendly ‘tot’ helped me express my gratitude and away I went.  The smile was back, I knew the corners would be a great way to finish off my fun with the ST. a quick pit stop allowed me to ready myself and the car. Maximum attack mode was on again, I hit the road hard and approached each corner so quickly, I shrill would shot up my neck but each time it carried me through, perfect grip, perfect steering weight and perfect amount of brakes, it was amazing so amazing that a sweat began to break and all that could be heard in the cabin was my deep, focused breathing and the burbles and pops from the hot exhaust chasing the 6500Rpm redline on the over run.

My run was incredible and at the end of the road, I stopped for a coffee to ponder my thoughts. My initial review was as follows “ It’s amazing if you don’t have a wife or kids buy one now” the end, not all too impressive but I didn’t really wanna spend my time with the GP drinking coffee, I wanted to drive so a last stab at the road was in order.

R56 MINI JCW GP

Again I took on the twisties and again I loved every aspect of the car, quickly I got in the zone and was moving now, only slowing down to overtake rows traffic. One of these overtakes was again a white facelift ST, who I guess this time thought this was the tie-breaker and wanted his revenge. I knew this is where I would destroy him. Having driven the ST I knew I had more grip and could get onto the power far earlier.  He tried his best to stick with me but the clear white car in the reflection quickly became a blur and eventually a spec. Traffic building and the end of the run looming I slowed to a crawl to let him catch up – only to gloat and let him know he had been chopped, but like any sore loser he could only offend to get back at me, which he did, very well.

As the ST approached I notice a blue flashing coming from the dashboard, “well this is bad”, I thought, and I pulled over to the side awaiting my impending doom, The same ST that I had jousted with and later chopped was an undercover Flying Squad Police unit. The burly man approaching my window, my leg began to shake on the clutch and as I buzzed down the window a deep voice asked “Sir, Do you know how fast you were going?” to which I stupidly responded, “ I don’t know, but a lot faster than you”. Not my brightest moment but then again I’m not a bright man, now noticing all the police antenna and the lights behind the grill and windscreen.  The officer laughed and “don’t worry if I had one of these I’d drive like that too, enjoy your day” as he returned to his ST and I drove off.

R56 MINI JCW GP

MINI John cooper Works GP Pricing in South Africa

The limited numbers have meant the GP has kept its value rather well, which the few examples on the market now being very low mileage and super clean. Prices start in the Late R300 000’s and climb to the early R400’s. Honestly if I could I would buy one now, as these are hidden gems are will very likely become rather expensive as collectors given to snap them up and hide them away. I can’t yet so I hate it the GP most – Absolute legend of a car this!

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet Facelift

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet Facelift

Not too long after its introduction Merc has recognised the need to update and sprinkle some new life into their flagship Grand Tourer, The S-class Coupe and Cabriolet models. The Sedan having received the same treatment a few months ago, the life has now reached the two door counterpart.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe

The largest and most announceable differences are to the exterior where a new front and rear bumper design with air channelling air ducts which replace the chrome front splitter and add a far sportier flair to the overall front end profile. The facelifted models also gain the new “Panamericana” grille with vertical chrome stakes and revision to the rear end. The twin tailpipe finished in chrome that was exclusive to the V12 now extends to all models and replaces the dual exit exhaust of the previous model. The other changes to the external look include redesigned side skirts and sills and a greater selection of Wheel designs. The Lights have to be treated with the paint brush as the OLED units have now been redesigned and have varying degrees of brightness depending on the driving condition. The addition of two new lower spec models which have joined the line up with the S450 being powered by their new V6 turbo and the S560 uses the new V8.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe

Under The Hood

The S450 will be powered by their 3litre turbo V6 producing 270 kW and 520 N.m of Torque. In line with the AMG move to the smaller more efficient engines, the 4.0 Litre V8 will replace the now ditched, older 5.5 V8 and add additional 20 Kw’s over the older model. The new Nine-speed automatic we saw in the New E63s will lift to turn over a combined fuel consumption figure of 9.3L/100km. The top brass S65 will keep the 463 kW, 1000 N.m V12 and still use the same Seven-speed automatic.

Tech and interior

The S-class cabin remains a rather well appointed and statesmanly with the only new edition being the new steering wheel and seats. The twin 12.3 digital dashboard and display remains the same and options will include carbon fibre trimmings, Carbon-ceramic brakes and even a Track pack with lap time recording.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Pricing in South Africa

Prices for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe and Cab start at an eye watering R2.3 Million, that’s before all the fancy options.

Discovery SVX – The most off-road focused Discovery yet!

Discovery SVX

Discovery SVX

Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations unit has created what they have dubbed the most capable Discovery ever. Making use of JLR’s famed 5.0-litre Supercharged V8 boasting 386 kW & 625 N.m, the All New Discovery takes on some important modifications in the interest of go-anywhere characteristics. The major changes include an increase in ground clearance, a suspension lift, increased wheel articulation and larger walled all-terrain focused tyres. Further adjustments include the use of an enhanced version of the Terrain Response 2 System with Active Roll control, through the Hydraulic Active Roll Control system.

Launched at the Frankfurt Motor show, it will fall into the current Special Vehicle Operations range in amongst the SVAutobiography and the Range Rover Sport SVR and will be built at the SVO technical centre in the UK as from early 2018.

The list of 4×4 goodies is long and comprehensive and will include the usual in premium off-roading in the form of active and electronic centre and rear locking differentials, Hill descent control, Electronic Traction Control, Adaptive Dynamics, All-Terrain Progress Control and variable ratio electric power-assisted steering. The familiar ZF eight speed auto with variable speed transfer box has also undergone minor revisions to allow for the software to work best with the new changes The SVX will sit on a set of beefy 275/55 R20 Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tyres on forged aluminium alloy wheels.

Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations Managing Director John Edwards had this to say about the SVX;

“SVO designers are embedded within the Land Rover team and have worked with our engineers to unleash their own passion for adventure to create another truly desirable and versatile vehicle in the Land Rover line-up.”

SVO Director Mark Stanton Added;

“The SVX product line gives us a fantastic opportunity to deliver the ultimate Land Rover all-terrain capability in a dynamic and distinctive manner, creating a rugged and versatile SUV that the whole family will love: effortless, unstoppable and connected, whatever the terrain.

“Discovery SVX is designed to reward off-road driving enthusiasts with the next level of all-terrain capability, without compromising comfort and practicality.”

 

Land Rover Discovery SVX Pricing and Availability in South Africa

With the Current Disco range starting at R980 000 for the base S and climbing all the way to the R1 314 000 HSE LUXURY, expect the price to be between R1.5 million and R2 million. Expect models to arrive bright and early in 2018.

 

The hypercar of all hypercars: Mercedes-AMG Project One

Mercedes-AMG Project One

Mercedes-Benz AMG Project One

At one time or another, we have all fantasized about driving a Formula1 racing car on the road, I know I have. The sheer noise, brutal acceleration, and damn right craziness is something that would really drive the neighbors crazy. and set your hair on fire, in a good way.

Of Course, we know that driving a literal F1 car on the roads would be practically impossible, so let’s jump to the next best thing, the Mercedes-AMG Project One. Mercedes have been teasing us recently for what feels like an eon with very obscure images, but promised great things,  and low and behold, great things have been delivered.

The AMG Project One features a 1.6-Litre V6 enginethe difference here, though, is that this 1.6L-litre motor is derived directly from the 2015 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 racing car, plus an additional four electric motors, one situated on the turbo to eliminate lag and provide better throttle response than a naturally aspirated V8, another connected directly to the engine and two further electric motors to power the front wheels. The result? Staggering performance.  

Total power output is somewhere around the 1000 bhp mark (740 kW) with the two front motors producing 240 kW just on their own. Here is our favorite fact though, 0-200 km/h is said to be completed in just under 6 seconds, with a top speed eclipsing 350 km/h.

Power is delivered to the rear wheels via a new, madefromscratch, hydraulically activated 8-speed gearbox which can be operated in automatic mode, or manual via the shifter paddles. The AMG Project One does feature different driving modes which range from a full electric drive (with a range of 25 km) to highly dynamic for the most outright performance characteristics.

To make sure all of this power is put down effectively, the AMG Project One will be fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, specifically designed for the Project One. The front tyres will be 285/35 ZR 19 with the rears being much larger at 335/30 ZR 20. The forged wheels these tyres will be mated with are also unique and feature carbon fibre semi-covers for increased aerodynamic efficiency and carefully placed ventilation slots for more effective cooling of the weight-optimised ceramic high-performance compound braking system.

We can see from the images that the MercedesAMG Project One is a truly stunning car. Large, wide air intakes dominate the front end and give it a very aggressive look, and as the car slopes around, many Mercedes-Benz design cues come into play with large, bold wheel arches and a streamlined appeal. The rear-end houses long, thin aggressive rear lights and is very much dominated by the rear diffuser and a central, single exhaust, just like that of a F1 car. We can’t forget that unique roof scoop either, which draws massive amounts of air into the engine and also looks pretty awesome!

The interior is very minimalistic, but also very futuristic. You will not find one component in this car that is there just for visual purposes, every part has a function. The Formula 1 like steering wheel is adjustable, as well as the pedals and the backrests so the driver can achieve their most preferred driving position. Two digital screens also feature, but apart from that, a host of carbon fibre, small storage areas and A/C controls, power windows and the Mercedes COMMAND system, there is not much else to it.

Mercedes-AMG Project One Pricing

Pricing is said to be over $2.5 Million Dollars and all of the 275 models to be made are already spoken for. You will have to take yours into AMG every 50 000 km’s for a full engine rebuild, if you plan on driving it to that extent.

BMW X7 SUV hints to a full sized X5 big brother.

BMW X7

BMW X7 SUV

Ahead of the Frankfurt Motorshow later this month leaked images of  BMW’s X7 IPerformance SUV concept, have come to light giving some interesting perspective to their new 7-series based full sized SUV. Due to arrive in international markets next year, the X7 will likely be based on a version BMW’s CLAR modular platform that underpins the current 7 Series.

BMW X7

The Key indications to the X7 production model are the simplicity through which the design is carried through, which allow for ques, typical of BMW design language to be very clear and apparent yet in effect still feel new. The clever design of the vehicle doesn’t hide the fact that this is no small car and the overall size and dimensions will not be overly friendly to the concept of the Undercover parking lot or Parrell parking in the CBD.

Interior Design

The concept makes use of the typical extravagance that is the very notion of a ‘concept car’ interior, but the main points to understand is the level of simplicity and the high-quality materials to be used. The use of light and space are used to conceal the cavernous exterior proportions rather well. This is through the large panoramic roof and the use of clever mood- lights that help add light to the cabin and give it the same effect as looking up at the sky light on a summers evening – or in fact the ceiling of a 7 Series, from which the system was undoubtedly lifted.

BMW X7

Infotainment will be handled through a driver focused 12.3 Inch Screen that serves as an instrument cluster and a smaller one that the centre console. Rear seat entertainment includes an additional two screens likely optional fair but an effective addition gives the SUV’s Child hauling destiny.  The usual mix of high-quality woods and metals is used to make up the cabin but the largest and most interesting is the number of seats totalling 6, and in fact suggesting to the 7 that will likely be available on the production model.

BMW X7 Availability in South Africa

Early production models will hit international markets as early as 2018, with no confirmed dates as to when we will receive the X7, but we should get the bruiser at some point in 2018.

 

TVR are back! Welcome the new Griffith.

TVR Griffith

The New TVR Griffith

In 2013, TVR was taken over by entrepreneur Les Edgar. The brand needed a revival and this man took up the challenge, promising to keep in line with the brands rich heritage of sports cars.

It’s been four years since TVR’s new administration walked in the door and TVR have now released their first car since the takeover and it’s called the Griffith. This car is all about the Spirit of Driving which is shown by a front engined 5.0 V8 with power driven to the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual gearbox. This, along with the TVR Griffith’s 50:50 weight distribution and full ground effect aerodynamics thanks to a flat floor means that the new TVR has all that’s required to be a very exciting car indeed. We can’t forget it’s weight at just 1 250 kg which was made possible due to a carbon composite structure and body panels.

TVR Griffith

So what does all this result in? Well TVR have not released exact figures but after the Ford Coyote 5.0-litre V8 has visited Cosworth for a bit of fiddling, mainly a new flywheel, clutch, dry sump lubrication system and ECU tuning, we can expect a power to weight ratio of 400bhp/tonne,  a 0-100km/h dash of under 4 seconds and top speed that will eclipse the 200 MPH (320km/h) mark. So in short, it’ll live up to everything we have expected from TVR over the years.

TVR Griffith

The exterior has been designed to be striking but also extremely efficient. It still features the classic sports car look – it actually looks like a very modern TVR, taking styling cues from the previous TVR Griffiths’. It really does look great and has some epic features such as side exit exhausts and large frontal air intakes. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the new Griffith is the rear end – its wide, low and mean and many a fast car will be spending time behind the TVR Griffith so of course it needs to look the part.

TVR Griffith

You won’t find any steering wheel doo dabs, reversing which whatss or Bang and Kardon sound systems here either, the TVR does feature a much tidier interior than its predecessors, but it is still very basic. One can expect a TFT instrument display, keyless entry and rotary controls for ancillaries such as A/C, as well as lots of suede.

TVR Griffith

TVR Griffith Pricing

The TVR Griffith will cost 90,000 Great British Pounds which equates to just over R1.5 million of our South African Rands. Production will only start in late 2018, with deliveries taking place in early 2019 – a long time away then, but definitely worth the wait!

BMW M3 Competition Package: Worth the extra money?

BMW M3 Competition Pack

BMW M3 Competition Package Driven

When you’ve ruled a segment for decades, it’s hard to keep pushing the benchmark forward. BMW has been in this position for many generations now with the competition having closed the gap significantly. Remember the normally aspirated C63 AMG? Yes, the one that caused a fair bit of confusion for E92 M3 drivers. That was one stunning car, from its noise to its looks. It proved to be one hell of a rival for the M. Now we have the likes of the turbocharged Mercedes-AMG C63 and the infamous Alfa Romeo Guilia Quadrifoglio Verde. The competition has done a great deal of catching up and some have even questioned if the M3 is still the benchmark. The facelifted M3 is a stunning piece of kit, the obvious choice for those who need some space and performance, packaged with aggressive styling and shiny 20-inch alloy wheels. That’s what tells passers-by that your M3 is a Competition Package, besides an M3 badge finished in black.

BMW M3 Competition Pack

Internally, the difference comes in the form of more power, 331 kW to be exact. 550 N.m is a boat-load on the chassis of the M3, so much so that the vehicle is in constant attack mode, looking for any excuse to light up the rear wheels. This particular example we drove was finished in Sakhir Orange paintwork and had an aggression to it that we’ve never experienced in an M3/M4, and we’ve driven many an M3. Despite the added power and louder exhausts, one’s got to ask the question, is the Competition Package worth the extra money? At R135 000 more than a standard M3, the reality is that with the Competition Package, the added power is not the only thing the vehicle gives you. The whole car feels somewhat different. Anyone who’s driven an M3 will tell you that you can’t drive that car in anger with a nonchalant attitude. Do that and you’ll end up on YouTube under the “BMW fails” title. The Competition Package is still as lethal, but somehow slightly more forgiving, probably due to the larger rubber fitted to it. These larger wheels offer more grip, making the car more controllable in modes such as MDM, which allows for slight slippage of the rear wheels.

BMW M3 Competition Pack

The biggest appeal of the M3 is its practicality, you can really use this car as a parent who loves thrills. It’s also comfortable in the right setting, namely “Comfort” which keeps everything normal. Oh, in terms of interior changes, the CP has slats in the front seats, giving the seats a different look and the opportunity for back seat passengers to tickle the driver with ease. (Yes, we know that’s weird). Some experimenting is essential to find the perfect balance between comfort and speed for everyday driving scenarios. We found that a throttle setting of “Sport” with “Comfort” dampers and “Comfort” steering was best for the daily commute. With that, we saved our M1 mode. M2, on the other hand, was a bit riskier, dampers were still “Comfort”, steering “Sport” and throttle set to “Sport Plus”. Lastly, we had the car in MDM mode, just to keep us feeling alive. Our gearbox settings were rarely in the most lethal “Level 3” setting as this was just ridiculous. In the most brutal gearbox mode, the car mimics the E60 M5 days, with its “shove you in the lower back” type of gear changes.

BMW M3 Competition Pack

As much as the standard M3 is a great car, the Competition Package is very special. The car feels more complete and looks better as those wheels fill the car out beautifully. Very little is wrong with the M3, but it has become an acquired taste for many. Gone are the days of the E92’s composure and that fact alone has put some off the car, as they might feel like it’s too much effort to exploit all the car’s power. For the brave, the M3 remains a massive thrill as its razor-sharp nature can be intoxicating. Our experience in the car was very enjoyable. We love the fact that you can be civilised when needed, but a complete hooligan when the opportunity arises.

BMW M3 Competiton Package Pricing in South Africa

At approximately R1.4 million with a few extras, it’s not cheap but boy is it a rewarding car to drive.

New Bentley Continental GT revealed!

New Bentley Continental GT

New Bentley Continental GT

Following the success of the past two models, Bentley, master craftsmen of bespoke road lounges to the well-off, has reinvented the Continental GT to create what they call the “Definition of Grand Touring”.  The new Bentley Continental GT is based on an all new Volkswagen-Audi Group MSB platform, much like the one used to underpin the latest Porsche Panamera.

The largest differences in terms of the design elements of the GT are the elements drawn from the EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept car. The front end takes heavily from this, making use of the same sleek clean cut lines and overall shape while making use of the latest in lighting technology in the form of LED Matrix Headlights with integrated Crystals to ensure light is transferred in the most efficient way, providing intense frontal illumination. At the rear, the most important change would be the move to the rounder style of the tail lights that feature the same Crystal integration. The vehicle’s lines are less muscular and are sharper and acute, more in line with the coupe nature of the GT and in fact the essence of EXP 10 which has been transferred in this model, a clear contrast when compared to the older model.

Whats New?

The New GT is very much a new project and has received a ground up re-envisioning, and as such has received Audi Group’s 48V electrical system, dubbed Bentley Dynamic Ride, which powers the anti-roll bars and a new three-chamber air spring suspension system that has a greater volume with the aim of increasing both vehicle comfort and dynamics when pressing on, thus ensuring that this is still a properly capable sports car. In line with the move to more modern and lightweight vehicle design, Bentley has made use of lightweight aluminium on the exterior panelling, resulting in an 85kg weight saving.  

Drivetrain

Powering the GT is the hand crafted 6.0 Litre Twin-turbo W12 engine lifted from the Bentayga, offering 467 kW @ 6 000 rpm and 900 N.m from 1 350 rpm to 4 500 rpm. These figures are good for properly fast figures of 0-100 km/h in 3.7 secs and a top speed of 333 km/h.  In the interest of efficiency, new additions include cylinder deactivation and the use of Stop/Start technology.

Technology

In the pursuit of the creation of the most bespoke product possible, Bentley have thrown an extensive list of technology and innovation at the new GT with the interior receiving a key new feature in form of  the new 12.3” Bentley Rotating Display, which serves as the main control means of the dashboard navigation, media and telephone and infotainment. While it’s the same unit to be found in the new Panamera and Upcoming Cayenne, it benefits from a unique-to-Bentley software with gamefication etc. This is complemented with a digital and configurable dashboard, a concept similar to Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. Other additions are the option of Three sound systems; the standard 10-speaker 650 Watt Bentley unit and a Bang & Olufsen system featuring 16 speakers with a 16-channel 1 500 Watt amplifier and the first automotive application of the BeoSonic control interface, which doesn’t mean much to most but I’d imagine is great. The top spec Naim system features an ear drum piercing 2 200 Watt and includes 18 speakers and two Active Bass Transducers.

The list of driver aids is very long and encompasses a lot of passive and active features such as High Beam Assist, Blind Spot Warning up-to 250 km/h, Exit Warning which warns vehicle occupants of objects approaching from the rear when opening the doors, optional City Specification including Traffic Sign Recognition, Rear Crossing, Traffic Warning, Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Assist Night Vision and a Heads Up Display.

2018 Bentley Continental GT pricing in South Africa.

While international orders have begun, there is no word yet on pricing but expect the first examples to land in early 2018.