Month: December 2017

We roadtrip with VW South Africa and visit the Gerhard Volksie Museum!

VW Golf GTD

We visit the Gerhard Volksie Museum while road tripping with VW South Africa.

A few weeks back we embarked on a roadtrip with VW South Africa, encompassing historical landmarks and an interesting quiz. Our journey took place from JHB to Bloemfontein. This activation wasn’t really a launch, but more of a way to kick-back, relax and enjoy some great cars and have fun at the end of a long year.

The “Amazing Race” involved completing various tasks, finding the answers to certain questions and also capturing specific types of images, all while being as creative as possible. These activities needed to be completed on our way to bloemfontein as we were acquainted with VW’s new Golf range, the R, GTI and GTD.

With the first day spent behind the wheel of the GTD, it was good to reflect on what this car is all about. The statement of “ Diesel GTI” is a very bold one to make, and in my opinion, the GTD doesn’t live up to that title from a performance perspective. The performance figures are not bad at all however with 130kW and 350Nm, on top of that, the GTD pulls off nicely with a heap of low-end torque. It simply doesn’t have the exciting demeanor that a GTI possesses. It’s a much calmer experience, whilst the GTI is more of a boy racer.  

This doesn’t make the Golf GTD a bad car at all, in fact from a handling perspective, it’s right up there with a GTI. I feel many expected more from this car in terms of performance and when it didn’t give them what they wanted, they simple wrote it off. This isn’t a fair assumption in my book, if we take the GTD for what it is, it’s a fantastic vehicle. For starters, the aesthetics are on par with that of its more powerful siblings, it features the latest tech of the 7.5 which is a big improvement over the Golf 7. Overall, it’s a wonderful car to drive, especially on a long road. Smooth and comfortable are words that come to mind when it comes to the GTD. If you’ve experienced previous iterations of VW’s fast diesels you realise that the GTD is progression of that, with a GTI chassis fitted to it.  

So far so good, the Amazing race proving to be enjoyable. Things got livelier that evening as we headed to a local shabeen for a reflection on the day, with the rest of the group and much needed Chesa Nyama. As you can see, my pale British self has truly embraced South African culture.  

On our second day, we swapped the GTD for the R and headed towards the direction of Johannesburg. First things first though, we headed to a local Volkswagen museum. It seemed strange for all of us find a VW museum in the middle of nowhere, until we arrived and saw the vehicles on display. My word.

The Gerhard Volksie Museum situated in the Free State was one of amazement. Gerhard’s operation focuses on air-cooled VW’s such as original Beetles, Karmann Ghias and Kombi’s. The vehicles on display were fantastic, from fully restored Kombi’s to amazing Beetles in many colours. There was also some special treasures to be found such as an old-school ambulance with just 40,000kms on the clock and one of the last CITI Golf’s ever produced with a mere 1500 kms under its belt.

I personally took a liking to the many Kombi’s on offer, which were beautifully restored and ready to hit the road. Gerhard even mentioned that many of them would make it to Cape Town without skipping a beat – I’ve been negotiating with my wife ever since. To put the cherry on the cake, we all jumped at the option to sample a vehicle, I opted for the Kombi. I must say, I don’t think any other classic vehicle has put such a smile on my face. It featured on oversized steering wheel, a confusing 4 speed gearbox and no seatbelts, but yet it was such a pleasure to drive.

Our road trip came to an end with the last stretch of around 300kms in the Golf R – the most powerful of all the Golf variants on offer. I must be honest, the R maybe the fastest, but it certainly isn’t my favorite model in the range. Its quick and sounds great, but the four-wheel drive system has an ever so slight numbing effect, I would personally opt for a GTI if I had to pick from the three. it just offers more driving enjoyment and excitement for my hooligan tendencies.

Overall it has been a good year for the VW Brand, with the release of many models which have been a huge success for them. There have been hints of an even better 2018 with more new and exciting cars on the way, so we look forward to seeing what is literally just around the corner.

Meet the McLaren Senna, a 789hp road-legal track car.

McLaren Senna

McLaren Senna – The ultimate road-legal track car

Any automotive vehicle named after one of the most legendary racing drivers to ever live, surely sounds like it’s going to impress. When that racing driver is the late Ayrton Senna, known as one of the fastest men to grace the circuit, it needs to do more than just impress, but rather blow us away. Welcome the McLaren Senna, the second vehicle in McLaren’s Ultimate Series, dubbed the ultimate road-legal track car.

McLaren Senna

You commit yourself to such a level where there is no compromise. You give everything you have; everything, absolutely everything.” – Ayton Senna

McLaren vehicles are known for their everyday supercar usability, the McLaren Senna is not that type of car. McLaren designed this vehicle to provide the purest connection between driver and vehicle and deliver the most intense circuit experience of any road going McLaren.

The exterior design immediately gives off a sense of speed, seriousness and performance. You may disagree, but the front end strikes me as a combination of a McLaren 720s and the Gumpert Appollo. Its sharp, edgy and features a multitude of scoops, lines and crevasses for aero purposes. In fact, McLaren says you cannot follow a single line from the front to the rear without it passing through a functional air intake or vent. It’s undoubtedly beautiful body is short and features a huge rear wing. HotWheels comes to mind, and we all know from our childhood days how awesome HotWheels cars were.

McLaren Senna

The visual carbon fibre elements are stunning, but what’s even more outstanding is that the lower half of the door side can be specified with glass as a replacement to the carbon fibre panel, increasing the sense of space inside the cabin and amplifying driver connection.

McLaren Senna

Sounds pretty wild, doesn’t it? It is. Over 789 hp (588kW) and 800Nm can be expected from the 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged v8, which is the most powerful internal combustion engine produced by McLaren for a road-going vehicle. It also features dry sump lubrication and a flat-plane crankshaft. There’s more, the McLaren Senna Is the lightest McLaren since its rebirth with a dry weight of just 1,198kg, it’s also the strongest thanks to the improved carbon fibre Monocage III chassis. Further, everybody panel bolted to this chassis isalso  made from carbon fibre, resulting in a power to weight ratio of nearly 500 kW per tonne.

McLaren Senna

With this level of power, you can imagine that much grip is required, and this comes in the form of ground-breaking front and rear active aerodynamics. Every part of the vehicle is not just an element of visual design, but rather an aid in an aerodynamic capacity to optimise downforce and balance. Assisting the active aerodynamics and the unmissable double diffuser is the RaceActive Chassis Control II (RCC II) hydraulic suspension system. This system compromises of double wishbone suspension and hydraulically interconnected two-valve dampers, which allow for bump and compression to be controlled individually. There is a Race Mode of course, which brings into play a lower ride height, lower centre of gravity and much stiffer suspension. This mode is activated by a roof-mounted switch. Comfort, Sport and Track modes are all accessed via the centre console.

McLaren Senna

Along with many elements of this car, the braking system is also the most advanced system ever fitted to a McLaren vehicle. We are not told much, just that it uses Carbon Ceramic discs and motorsport technologies. Bespoke Pirelli P Zero™ Trofeo R tyres are the choice of rubber, fitted to an ultra-lightweight race inspired alloy wheel.

As much as the McLaren Senna provides ground-breaking performance, McLaren also wanted this vehicle to provide a driving experience like no other. Noise contributes massively to this factor and McLaren engineers decided that the full mechanical symphony of the engine needed to be a sensory experience.  The driver will experience high-frequency sounds caused by rushing air into the roof-mounted intake, all while low-frequency engine sounds are transferred into the cockpit through unique engine mounts, which make it seem as if the V8 is sitting right alongside the driver. We can only imagine the noise provided by gear changes using the dual-clutch, seamless-shift, seven-speed gearbox.

McLaren Senna

Now, all we need to know is how fast it can go around Nurburgring!

McLaren Senna Pricing and availability

The McLaren Senna will be hand-assembled in, Production will be limited to 500 vehicles, each costing from £750,000 or R13.6M (at the time of writing) and all are already allocated.

 

Updates to the 2018 Ford Ranger

2018 Ford Ranger Fx4

Ford Ranger Updated for 2018

The locally produced and very popular Ford Ranger has undergone updates for the fast approaching year of 2018. The updates are as follows:

Front Park Assist

Front Park Assist is now fitted as standard on all Ranger XLT and Fx4 models. This will complement the rear sensors and camera and provide increased safety for tight manoeuvers.

Fx4 Treatment 

The Fx4 kit was previously only available on the Ranger 3.2 Double Cab XLT 4×4, but due to popularity, the Fx4 treatment will now be available in limited quantities on all XLT models, including the 2.2 and 3.2-litre variants – both manual and automatic.

The Ranger Fx4 also sees new styling changes in the form of black finishes across the front grille, fog lamp bezels, exterior mirrors, roof rails, as well as the door and tailgate handles. Ford didn’t hold back with the black touches, as the alloy wheels, side steps, rear bumper and tubular sports bar also receive this effect.

Spay-in Bed Liner

For the first time, customers can spec a spray-in bed liner directly from the factory as a cost option. This is the same product used on the Ford F 150 since 2008 and aligns with Ford’s Ford’s stringent engineering specifications. A benefit to this is that minor and major repairs to the spray-in liner can be done at Ford dealerships and is covered by Ranger’s standard four-year/120 000km warranty.

Ford Ranger 2018

Why we all need to make peace with South African Taxis.

South African Taxi

The daily taxi war.

Before everyone comes after me with pitchforks and burning torches, I would just like to put a little disclaimer out there. In this article, I am not condoning illegal or unroadworthy vehicles – which put the lives of others in danger. This includes overloading, or driving in a manner that can cause harm to others.

So here goes…

It is a daily part of the average South African’s life, especially those who commute via a motor vehicle. It is a battle which we all inevitably lose and one which we probably all need to let go of, I am talking about the fight against the South African taxi driver. Whether it’s big or small, seats 6 people or 15, the issue is less with the car but rather the driver. A taxi driver is a taxi driver. More often than not, this person plays by his rules and the rules of his fraternity. Whatever those rules are however, the role of a taxi in South Africa is crucial.

This form of transport plays a massive role in our economy, transporting many people to and from work on a daily basis. South Africa needs them as much as they may annoy us, and I’m sure that many reading this article experience this annoyance on a daily basis.

These annoyances can range from taxi drivers cutting in front of your vehicle, or stopping in the lane to make pick ups or drop offs – causing havoc for the vehicles behind. Using the emergency lane, to the classic “turning off the road, cutting across opposite traffic and turning back onto the road” at an intersection, to gain a jump on those stuck at a red light. We have all been in a similar situation and it drives us crazy, often resulting in shouting, cursing or worse.

South African Taxi

The solution?

There is one solution, and while it won’t completely alleviate the problem, it will help to reduce our own personal road rage and stress levels.The solution is to make peace with South African taxis. Does that mean no shouting, arguing, hand gesturing or even fighting every time a taxi does something even remotely annoying? Yes. Why you may ask? Well it is relatively simple.

You see, no matter how big your tantrum is, how many expletives you utter, or how many times you roll down your window and use a range of hand gestures, you are only ruining one person’s day, yours.

Do you really think a taxi driver cares about your abuse? They don’t, they couldn’t give a hoot (pun intended). They get told off by everyone on a daily basis and the fact is, no matter how many road users give them abuse, they are never going to change. At the end of the day, they also have families to feed and need run hectically tight schedules to try and make money. Ask yourself this question, how crazy would you drive to feed your children? Of course, putting anyone’s life in danger is never justifiable, but we will never understand what goes on in the life of a taxi driver, unless we’ve lived that life. Your anger, fists or bullets isn’t worth you risking your life in an altercation. Is it?

So as much as it sucks to take it on the chin, ignore it and let it happen. Half the time the offence committed against us is not worth the outburst. Is that taxi trying to cut in front while you are late for work? Don’t fight it. Driving down the emergency lane and you feel like swerving to stop him? Don’t bother. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your daily commute because in the long run, one or a thousand motorists hurling abuse and getting stressed is never going to change a thing. Pray that when the offence is being committed, the police do what they’re paid to do. After living and driving in South Africa for 4 years from the U.K, I’ve gone through the various stages of grief, battling this daily war with taxis and I respect every motorist enduring the same fight. Quite recently I have tried this care-free approach as I face Durban’s Umgeni road on a daily basis. The result? I look five years younger already.

What you get for R3M: Range Rover SVAutobiography

Range Rover SVautobiography

Range Rover SVAutobiography

A short while ago, Jaguar Land Rover introduced their 2018 Range Rover model. Now they’ve released another variant of this model, the SVAutobiography. Let’s just say it’s very, very nice.

The SVAutobiography is a variant developed by SVO, ( Special Vehicle Operations) Jaguar Land Rover’s “tuning” division. With the fast coupes, they make them faster and with the new Discovery, they made it  more adventurous. With the Range Rover being the staple of luxury in the brand, it would only make sense for SVO to make it, well, more luxurious.

There are many “Luxurious” cars on the road, but few fall into a certain class. We can call this the “Chauffeur Class”, where one sits in the rear and gets driven, rather than driving themselves. The Range Rover SVAutobiography definitely fits into this class, I mean what’s the point of spending in excess of R3m if you can’t enjoy it right?

In the rear one will find executive seating, which offers 40-degree recline, a hot stone massage function, heated calf and foot rests as well as a 22-way seat adjustment. This is perfect then for the 1.2m of legroom the SVAutobiography offers, if you opt for the long-wheelbase model that is.

There is no room to squeeze a person in between the rear seats either, as a fixed central console runs the length of the interior cabin. From this central console one will be able to carry out functions such as power close the rear doors, or access the hidden fridge which can hold two wine bottles. Electrically deployable tables are also a feature which graces the rear cabin, and the right-hand rear seat folds to accommodate long items, if you’re a CEO who likes a spot of surfing.

Range Rover SVAutobiography

Every Range Rover SVAutobiography will be hand-finished exclusively at the SVO Technical Centre in Warwickshire, UK. Three engine engine derivatives will be available, including the Jaguar Land Rover’s hybrid engine, the P400e, along with a 4.4l SDV8 and the 5.0L V8 Supercharged engine. No offical pricing for South Africa has been released, but with UK pricing starting at £168k, don’t expect anything elss than a R3m price tag.