Month: August 2018

We Drive the New Ford EcoSport

Ford EcoSport

New Ford EcoSport Driven

What’s in a name, I mean, people have all sorts of interesting names these days and gone are the good old days of a ‘proper Christian name.’ The same can be said for cars with absurdities such as ‘Qashqai’ and ‘Superfast’ springing to mind. Imagine humans were named in the same vein as Ferrari’s – “Meet my son, Superfreckly and my daughter, Mediumround.”

 

Mind you, at least we know that the Superfast is indeed super-fast and that a 5 Series is larger than a 3 Series, yet smaller than a 7.  What a time to be alive.

Enter Fords economical and sporty EcoSport. It’s not what you might think, though – the ‘Sport’ in EcoSport suggests a more ‘sporty’ lifestyle as opposed to track day toy, but we already knew that.

Ford EcoSport

The Ford EcoSport has been a hot seller in South Africa since its initial release in May 2013 and now having received its third and most significant update, promises to continue its streak of strong sales. The numbers speak for themselves with the Ford EcoSport accounting for as much as 14% of Ford sales in South Africa. It also leads in its segment making up for 38% of its segment, down from 49% initially. In short, the EcoSport is popular in our market so there’s no doubt that the improved design, quality and safety of this vehicle will stand it in good stead.

Design wise, the most notable differences can be seen at the front of the vehicle and in the cabin. The new hood with power dome sits above a new and distinctively Ford grille and the standard HID headlamps with LED daytime running lights (Trend and Titanium models only) contribute to more premium look up font. New colours and alloy wheel options are available, too.

Having received quite the revamp, the cabin of the new EcoSport really is a lovely place to be. New instrument clusters, SYNC screen options and a new steering wheel with standard paddle shifters (on auto models sit amongst other updates such as new interior materials, a completely redesigned instrument panel, newly designed climate control console and ambient lighting below the instrument panel.

Both petrol and diesel variants are available, however the diesel is only available in base Ambiente guise. This is because in this segment, petrol is still king and as a result, the Ford EcoSport’s line-up reflects that.

Ford’s tried, tested and triumphant 1.0-litre EcoBoost motor does service in the petrol model and having won Engine of the Year 6 times, that’s a good thing. It provides punchy low down torque and always feels eager to get going, yet returns an impressive claimed 5.4 l/100km. Figures of 92 kW and 170 N.m are more than ample and the petrol motors have been paired wonderfully with either a 6-speed manual or all-new 6-speed automatic transmissions.

For those who still insist on a bit of oil burning, the Ambiente model is only available with Ford’s 1.5-litre TDCi motor, mated to a 5-speed manual with figures of 74 kW, 205 N.m and claimed 4.6 l/100km.

Safety wise, all vehicles benefit from the usual array of standard safety equipment such as ABS, EBA and ESC. Dual front, side and curtain airbags are standard across the range with Trend and Titanium models receiving a driver’s knee airbag too.

In terms of spec, the whole range is pretty sorted. Ambiente models receive SYNC 1 with Bluetooth and voice control, electric windows all-round, steering wheel audio controls, Ford audio with 6 speakers and 2 USB ports, rear PDC, rear fog lamp, remote central locking, a trip computer and 16” steel wheels with covers.

 

In addition to this, Trend models receive a black grille with upper chrome, roof rails, body colour mirrors and door handles, SYNC 3 with 6.5” Touchscreen, LED daytime running lights, 16” alloy wheels, front and rear fog lamps, Hill Launch Assist, Roll Stability Control, Tyre Pressure Monitoring, and a leather gear knob and steering wheel.

In addition to all of that, Titanium models come specced to the hilt with silver roof rails, lower body cladding in black with chrome inserts, power adjustable folding exterior mirrors with puddle lamps, 17” alloy wheels, auto headlamps, rain sensing wipers, Keyless start, cruise control with adjustable speed limiter, electronic climate control, SYNC 3 with 8” touchscreen with navigation, Ford Audio with 7 high-end speakers, centre console with covered bin and sliding armrest and ambient lighting.

To wrap this up, Ford have taken what was already a popular and capable lifestyle vehicle and given it the updates needed to keep it fresh for the next while. The EcoSport is refined, fun to drive, practical and well put together, well equipped and now with its new face, handsome too.

Ford EcoSport Pricing in South Africa

Pricing starts at R264 500 for the 1.5 TDCi Ambiente manual and stretches to R339 900 for the 1.0 Ecoboost Titanium automatic.

All vehicles come standard with Ford Protect’s comprehensive 4 years/120 000km warranty, 5 years/unlimited km corrosion warranty, 3 years/unlimited km roadside assistance and 4 years/60 000km service plan. Service intervals are 15 000km.

 

New Mercedes-AMG C43

Mercedes-AMG

New Mercedes-AMG C43 First Drive

For those not in the know, the Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-Benz range can become quite confusing. Walk into a dealership and ask for a “fast Mercedes” and you will most likely find yourself presented with a myriad of models and a vast range of numbers – such as 65, 63, 53, 45 and 43. Fortunately, it’s articles like these that’ll hopefully provide a little insight – so that if you do go looking for a “fast Mercedes”, you’ll have done the math and know which number you’re looking for. Or at least have an idea.

Mercedes-AMG C43

 

Today we’re talking about the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class. It’s a facelift, so it’s not entirely a new vehicle, but they call it new – so let’s roll with it. To start the launch off, we embarked into some countryside areas around the outskirts of JHB, to sample these new models in a quiet setting. The model I focused on was the C43, naturally.

The 43 range offers a 3.0l V6 Twin Scroll Turbo, which produces 290kW and 520 Nm – reaching 100km/h in approximately 4.7 seconds. Driving not only a C43, but the “43” motor in general, was a first-time affair for me. While this vehicle could be classed as a “baby” AMG when compared with the mighty C63, it certainly doesn’t sound like it. In a good way.

This V6 purrs like a Cheetah being scratched by a very large garden rake. Again, in a good way. There was never really a time when I wanted to turn the Active Exhausts off, as chasing this noise through the higher rpm range through a total of 9 gears was becoming just short of addictive. Plus, it’s also slightly quieter than its V8 older brother, so when pottering around town you can leave the active pipes on and not get a headache. Do I prefer it? I haven’t yet decided.

Mercedes-AMG C43

While I could bark on about this all day, it’s time to discuss some of the new features found on the C-Class in general. While snapping at the gears and chasing that sweet V6 sound, you’ll find yourself holding onto a new steering wheel – one which was first found on the S Class and E Class. I love the finish, styling and premium feel it gives you, as it features metal, leather and these hi-tech thumb touch-pads for scrolling through various menus on the digital display. It’s also a standard feature across the whole range, not just the AMG models.

Turn you attention to the fascia and you will also notice the new 12.3-inch instrument cluster. As common as they are becoming on new premium vehicles, each manufacturer has their own take on these digital consoles. Through this system, the driver can browse and adjust most settings and features on the vehicle. AMG variants provide a striking yellow design with a layout that simulates the classic round dials that we all know and love. The display can show you pretty much anything the heart desires regarding the vehicle and while live tyre pressure and the ambient temperature is…cool? Viewing live power, torque and boost levels were something that interested me more.

Mercedes-AMG C43

From the outside, a new redesigned front bumper and diamond grille differentiate the C43 compared to other models. The new 84 LED multi-beam headlights add subtle changes too. With the option of the Ultra Range system, these provide light for up to 650m and also feature the blanking out technology which means Hi-Beam can be selected all the time without dazzling other road users. New tail-lights are also apparent, as well as various rear bumper designs – depending on the package you select.

So, what’s it like then driving the face-lifted C43? Apparently, it’s just like the pre-facelift variant, only prettier and faster. Even though it’s an “AMG”, the vehicle is pretty comfortable when the driving modes are relaxed and set to comfort, dial in the sport modes and the C43 comes alive and provides the sharp AMG driving feel. There is more power on tap, which means the trees blur quicker on a straight line. The car still features Mercedes’s 4Matic system but this time sending 69% of the power to the rear wheels which improve the vehicle dynamically. This provides a nice balance as the power is still accessible all the time, unlike it’s older brother the C63, which likes to wiggle around corners. This is actually a good thing, because only those who know how to do the “AMG dance” should try going toe to toe with one, should they be brave enough. The C43 then is the safe bet among the fast C-Class variants, so if you want to just get on it, this may be the one you should ask for at a dealership.

The new Mercedes-AMG C43 Vehicle Pricing in South Africa:

Sedan                       Coupe                                  Cabriolet

R948,500                  R983,500                             R1,100,000