Month: Oct 2019

Is the New Volkswagen T-Cross a budget Tiguan?

Volkswagen T-Cross

Volkswagen T-Cross Driven Review

We drive the new VW T-Cross in South Africa

With consumers always in search for something new, exciting and different – the current crop of crossover vehicles on offer in SA tend to tick the correct boxes for many. This segment gives you vehicles that look like small SUV’s, some of which are actually quite capable off road, whilst others can merely climb Sandton pavements. Other brands simply offer funky styling that screams adventure and #livingyourbestlife. Mainly aimed at a younger professional audience, crossovers need to be a value proposition to those who may not want a fully-fledged SUV but have outgrown their hatchback. Enter the new Volkswagen T- Cross.

Watch our VW T-Cross Review Video here:

Volkswagen T-Cross Front

The name suggests it all, this Volkswagen is a bigger Polo on steroids, with a unique look to it that is both striking and good looking. Having driven it on launch and spending time with a bright orange unit on test for a week, we’ve come to the conclusion that this is one impressive vehicle. Surprise surprise, another good Volkswagen – you’d swear this company sells thousands of cars in South Africa per month. Sarcasm aside, the new T-Cross is built on the MQB platform, giving it dimensions that fall within a Tiguan and a Polo. Having team members of varying proportions, no one complained about the size offering of the T-Cross. Instead, as a cyclist, I was able to ditch the bike rack and simply drop the back seats – unlocking 1281litres of storage space, enough for my roadie to sit comfortably. When the back seats are up, you’ll have 455 litres, which should be enough for all two and a half children of yours.

Volkswagen T-Cross Back

Inside the T-Cross is the usual Volkswagen story. Quality materials. Plastic yes, but durable plastics that don’t seem cheap. Depending on the specification you choose, you can customize your dashboard. For instance, the Energetic Orange unit we had on test, featured an orange dashboard and some fine metal bits – creating a quirky and premium feel. Technology-wise, the unit we had featured Apple CarPlay, a decently sized infotainment system, Bluetooth, USB, aux and whatever millennials want in a vehicle. Starting up the T-Cross you’ll notice the rasp of a 3-cylinder engine. Being a boosted engine, you’ve 85kW/200Nm mated to a 7 speed DSG gearbox. This configuration is nice for day to day driving and when the vehicle is moving the power on offer is reasonable and offers enough for cruising and overtaking, our only complaint would be that on pull off and low-end acceleration, the T-Cross can be sluggish at times. Apart from that, we really can’t fault it from a driving perspective. The T-Cross is comfortable enough for long journeys, it’s effortless to drive and it even has an element of fun in it. It has a likeable personality to it that is reflected in its overall design.

If you do find the 85kW variant lacking when it comes to power, do not fear. A 110kW version is coming to South Africa in the near future which will offer more usable power throughout the rev range and will be even better suited for the open road. We’ve had the pleasure of sampling this engine in the new Audi A1 and that version turned out to be the pick of the bunch for us. Aesthetic wise, there’s a range of colours to choose.  Favourites such as Reflex Silver Metallic, Pure White and Deep Black Pearlescent, can be selected. For those looking to express themselves more, options such as Makena Turquoise Metallic, Flash Red and Energetic Orange are available – with matching interior trim as well.

The T-Cross is no Tiguan, but it certainly bridges the gap between VW’s hatches and SUV’s by providing more space and flexibility at a good price point. Out-grown your Polo but a Tiguan is out of reach? Your answer is the T-cross.

Volkswagen T-Cross

It may sound like we’re singing the praises of this car strongly, but the fact is that the German outfit has delivered time and time again on price, reliability, and product across the range. Nothing has changed with the T-Cross either, they just seem to understand the consumer and deliver on the wants and needs of South Africans.  They say the “proof is in the pudding”, VWSA has already sold 850 units in the first week due to pre-orders and aggressive marketing campaigns. Need we say more?

Volkswagen T-Cross Pricing in South Africa

The 110kW model will be available from the first quarter of 2020, while the entry-level 70kW T-Cross will be available in the second quarter of 2020.

1.0 TSI 85kW Comfortline DSG®       R334 600

1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSG®             R365 000

1.5 TSI 110kW R-Line DSG®               R403 500

The T-Cross comes standard with a 3 year/120 000km warranty, a 3 year/ 45 000km Volkswagen Service Plan and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. Service interval is 15 000km.

Learn more here.

Watch Our Video Here: <iframe width=”835″ height=”470″ src=”” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>

BMW 530 MLE Unveiling

BMW 530 MLE Unveiling South Africa

How does one define a legend? Is it perhaps a certain level of achievement that needs to be reached before legendary status can be granted? Or is there a correlation between immediate success and longevity of that success?

How about the progenitor of an entire performance division? The vehicle from which BMW’s M division would descend?

In South Africa, we wanted to race BMW’s, however, BMW didn’t have a racing division. A renowned racing driver by the name of Jochen Neerpasch was enlisted by BMW and soon after that two BMW E12 5 Series’ were prepared for racing. As racing regulations in those days stated, homologation vehicles needed to be created in order for a vehicle to qualify for racing and as such, 110 530 MLE Type 1 vehicles were produced in 1976 by BMW Motorsport as limited edition “homologation” vehicles.

Such was the success of the 530 MLE that 117 Type 2 MLE’s were produced at BMW Plant Rosslyn in 1977. Little did anybody know that this would be the spiritual successor to the original super saloon, the spectacular BMW M5.

Fast forward to 2018 where after years of searching, chassis number 770100 (unit 100) was found and acquired. Having been owned by 530 MLE racing team manager Peter Kaye-Eddie, the matching numbers MLE was in a serious state of disrepair after years of neglect. 

Enlisting the help of BMW Group South Africa employees who assembled the original 530 MLE’s, Luis Malhou of Custom Restorations undertook the gargantuan task of restoring this homologation legend to its former glory in October 2018. A year later, the completed vehicle was unveiled at the end of the production line at BMW Plant Rosslyn to a group of factory employees and motoring media. 

Accompanying the restored MLE were other vehicles significant to BMW in South Africa such as a 1969 BMW 2000 SA, a 1986 BMW 745i which featured the M88 motor for our market only, a 1986 BMW 333i which was our answer to the E30 M3 which was never sold on local soil, the last BMW 3 Series to have been produced at plant Rosslyn (number 1 191 604) and the very first BMW X3 to have been built at BMW Plant Rosslyn which now supplies Europe with BMW X3 units.

SO there you have it, the story of the forgotten BMW 530 MLE – arguably the most important motor vehicle in the history of BMW M.

New Audi A1 – Just a VW Polo that went to private school?

New Audi A1 South Africa

New Audi A1 Driven Review

We drive the all-new Audi A1 in South Africa

Let’s be honest, as much as Audi and Volkswagen are separate manufacturers, we all know they share the same DNA, with Audi being the more premium of the two, of course. Much like stepchildren sharing a single parent, similarities will be noticed between the kids. If the shared parent has a huge nose and strong genes, people won’t be bamboozled if the kids inherit the “shnoz” too. That’s just how life works.

So, as a consumer, driving the new Audi A1, you can’t help but wonder how similar it is the current Polo TSI? Thankfully for the VW/Audi progeny, the genes have been good looking for the most part. In the case of the new Audi A1, this vehicle lucked out as it inherited some charming features from older siblings such as the Q8 and the new Q3. 

Truthfully, the two cars shouldn’t really compete with one another, as the A1 is up against more premium marques, with its direct competitor being the MINI Cooper. It’s the family link that may make consumers who are “in the know” draw these comparisons between the Polo TSI and the A1. For that reason, we can’t avoid this conversation, even though it shouldn’t be happening. It all depends on the type of consumer that you are though. 

For some, perceived value for money is extremely important, for others, branding is everything. Judging by South African consumer behavior, brand strength will be a major factor for A1 buyers, because owning an Audi or any other premium brand, is considered an achievement. That alone is something you can’t take away from a car buyer. So yes, when stepping into the new A1, you may notice one or two switches that resemble or mirror those that you’d get in Volkswagen, but overall this new A1 does offer an impressive package both inside and out.  

What’s on offer: 

With the new Audi A1, a lot has changed. Looking at this car is a good time. Gone is the softer design, which has been replaced by aesthetics that can even make a “boet” want to drive one, provided it has the S Line package – which adds a sportier look. Those longing for something more basic can opt for the standard model, whereas those looking for something in between can do with the Advanced model. Think of your model choices like “trappe van vergelyking”, with the S Line being “die beste”.

Climbing inside the new A1, you’ll be presented with the latest Audi interior architecture. It’s quirky, it’s modern and it’s a great place to sit inside. Materials feel good on the hands and doors happily thud with weight when you close them. In modern hatchbacks, it’s not about having plastics in the interior, it’s how those plastics are presented and the quality of those plastics as well. In the new A1, it’s a job well done as you feel like you’re in a quality product, as opposed to the nasty shiny chrome used in other cars which generally age as badly as an over-tanned senior citizen. 

How does it drive? 

The new 1.5 TFSI engine in the 35 TFSI variant is on offer in the new Audi A1. This model gives you a power output of 110kW/250Nm, which when mated to the S tronic gearbox, works seamlessly. Without even getting into the more powerful 40 TFSI model, I can tell you that this model is the sweet spot in the range. It’s got enough shunt to tick all the boxes and save you some cash. The entry point into the model is the 30 TFSI which gives you 85kW/200Nm from a 1.0 turbocharged engine. All models available currently use the S tronic gearbox, so your left leg can rest assured that it won’t ever feel the wrath of South African city traffic again. The overall ride quality of the range is good, with impressive nimbleness and a good feeling of weight, meaning more confidence during windy times. I’ve personally seen a 6-foot man sit in the back of this new Audi A1. For my average height self, space is never an issue for me, but I’m told there’s enough of it by those taller than me. 

The naughty 40…

If power is your thing, you may consider the 40 TFSI, which is the most powerful A1 you can get. Producing 147kW/320Nm, it moves around swiftly whilst making some nice sounds on the upshifts and meaty burbles on the downshifts. The engine gives the A1 some extra character and sportiness. It feels like a Polo GTI wearing a more expensive suit, a good thing indeed. Despite this, my money would still go to the 35 TFSI to keep the costs down. That’s the tricky thing about the segment this car operates in, if you’re heavy handed on the options – you’ll pay the price…literally. 

Audi do offer specific packages to make choosing the right extras easier. For instance, if you fancy some extra gizmos you can have the Technology Package which gives you Virtual Cockpit, Smartphone interface and Audi Sound System all bundled in one package for R9 900. At a starting price of R359 900 for the 30 TFSI, the new A1 is not a “cheap” car. It’s for buyer that’s looking to break into the premium market, so there’s a different mindset about how much you spend in this market. 

Model for model, the A1 and MINI range are very similarly priced whilst offering a similar quirkiness. MINI relies heavily on the brand power they have to sell cars in SA, as well as the fact that their cars are good. MINI owners know that their vehicles represent a lifestyle, a way for its drivers to express who they are on four wheels. Perhaps the new A1 will make that clientele think twice? Where there are certain similarities between itself and a Polo TSI, the badge is the real decider. Saying I drive an Audi sends a different message compared to saying I drive a VW. Facts. That is why I’m insistent on the 35 TFSI, because that model has a different appeal because it’s not heavily performance-focused. 

However, when it comes to the hot hatch world, where the MINI Cooper S’s and the A1 40 TFSI’s come into play, driving a Polo GTI still wins the argument. The Polo GTI and the A1 40 TFSI are two very similar cars. The GTI brand power is so strong in South Africa, it will be a car that is considered by those looking for a hot hatch. Hence why I say this comparison is very buyer dependent. If you’re in the market for a great looking compact premium vehicle, the A1 is a good choice indeed. If you’re looking for a compact hot hatch, everything changes simply because the Polo GTI exists. Besides the brand power of that vehicle, it’s also locally built and the VW brand benefits from that when it comes to pricing, compared to its sister company Audi that is a full importer. Being that as it is, consumers don’t think too deeply about these things. It’s simply a matter of what the heart wants. We’re just here playing devil’s advocate. 

The long and the long of it is that the new Audi A1 looks the part, feels the part and even drives the part too. It’s not cheap, but it is appealing. It’s a very good answer to the guys at MINI, will it be the preferred choice? Time will tell. 

Audi A1 Pricing in South Africa

  • Audi A1 30 TFSI S tronic at R 359,900
  • Audi A1 30 TFSI Advanced S tronic at R 373,900
  • Audi A1 30 TFSI S line S tronic at R 388,900
  • Audi A1 35 TFSI S tronic at R 429,900
  • Audi A1 35 TFSI Advanced S tronic at R 443,900
  • Audi A1 35 TFSI S line S tronic at R 458,900
  • Audi A1 40 TFSI S line S tronic at R 488,000