Month: Nov 2019

The Return of the Hyundai Atos

A short trip back to February of 2005 revealed the launch of the then-New Hyundai Atos in South Africa. A supermini that served as the little brother to the tasteful Getz and thankfully shared in the beginnings to the Korean wave of brilliance in the early 2000s, that transformed their brand. The range has expanded somewhat at present-day, meaning the new age return of the appellation has a rather different market to contend with and a tricky role to fill. Consumers demand far more from cars than basic wheels yet the contrasted conundrum and greatest hindrance in the South African vehicle market is pricing and at R159 900 Atos becomes a promising perspective.


The New 2019 Atos 1.1 Motion. Atos returns as a 1.1 4-cylinder with a total output of 50kw and 99Nm, which when matched with a low kerb weight of 870kg and snappy responsiveness to the way the car moves about at city speeds makes progress brisk enough. There’s a bit of character with the looks clear Hyundai design language at the front end. The list of standard features is rather impressive and despite the entry-level market contention, the build quality transforms into so much more than numbers can translate. A 7-inch touch screen display with Apple car play and Android Auto with screen mirroring for Google maps navigation, USB and Smart Bluetooth connectivity that reads Whatsapp messages. Front electric windows, steering mounted stereo controls which when streaming Audio and allow for full integration even when streaming via apps like Youtube music. In practice, it feels best in class and the experience replicates a far more expensive user interface interaction.


Dynamically the Atos shines brighter than its main A-segment rivals Renault Kwid and Datsun Go which is the largest division of the class. The Atos feels planted and stable and even a touch cheeky; the additional cylinder removes some of the noise, vibrations and overall harshness to the car. This smoothness transforms the car intensely and the feel that true thought was put into the overall driving experience blares through. Fuel consumption at a real-world 6.2L/100 enough to offer real promise with respects to economy, and not far off the claimed 5.9L/100. Atos extra sense of refinement translates to stability at freeway speed and very little of the drive is affected by the wind or passing trucks, a statement not true all A-segment vehicles even to this day. Atos is not without shortcomings cabin space is limited in the rear with legroom being an issue of taller folk but it offers enough comfort for most. The meagre 235litre boot will prove a challenge with a large suitcase filling the space entirely. The lack of steering adjustment (rake or reach) means the seating position needs some time to get used to.


Pivotally in this class is the element of safety and standard ABS, EBD and 2 airbags are contrasted with the ultimate problem that exists cars of this class. Sadly the 2-Star Global NCAP Crash test rating means it does not shake this image. Despite the safety concerns the verdict concludes the Atos as a rival for the best car in the segment, brilliant driving dynamics, build quality that carries the strength of the Hyundai brand, through unrivalled aftersales support. The 7year/200 000km warranty with roadside assistance adds real value at such a budget-constrained price point, happily dropping the “free insurance gimmick” and making this a properly sorted car. Such a tightly contested segment will be glad to receive more offerings like Atos combining the genuine cheap car thrills that make cars of this class really clever, in tough car markets and make so much financial sense to limited budgets. Offering a genuinely well-executed package, toughly enjoyable and possibly the best brand-new entry-level car.

Pricing in South Africa
Atos 1.1 Motion R159 900
Standard with a 1-year service plan with 15 000Km intervals, 7 year/200 000Km Warranty, and 7 year/150 000Km roadside assistance.

MINI’s John Cooper Works GP 3

Mini’s John Cooper Works Division has taken to the latest rendition of the Mini JCW to create their hardcore GP 3 once again. As the third instalment to the R53 and R56 versions of GP 1 and 2, the GP 3 follows in the footsteps of the previous models as tasty track specialist weapon for those not light-hearted, and free of frivolous afflictions that require practicality and compromise.


Dubbed as the most powerful and fastest production Mini ever, the TwinPower 2Litre turbocharged engine has its outputs boosted to a rather serious 220kW and 450Nm. Driving the front wheels through an 8-speed Automatic Gearbox equipped with a mechanical Torsen Limited-slip diff exclusively. Controversially the option for a third pedal will remain a distant memory of the previous models, as Mini boss’ have sighted the increased development cost and attribute a small percentage of sales to ditching the manual altogether. Nevertheless, the numbers suggest a 0-100 sprint of 5.2seconds and a potent top speed of 265Km/h. Enough to make the GP 3 a properly serious machine and scare off many far larger and more expensive cars capturing some of the character the GP pigeonholes.


The 2020 GP 3 prototypes have mustered a sub 8 minute time around the Nurburgring Nordschleife, enough to hint at some serious driving tenacity. Typical of any ultra-focused performance GP variant it has its fair share of aerodynamic sills, spoilers and lips. Featuring a front bumper with increased airflow, fender flares with arch-based air channels made from recycled carbon composite, a floating two-tone rear wing and rear diffuser.

The rear seat once again is ditched for a rear strut brace to improve chassis rigidity and several GP specific niceties are littered throughout the interior, 3D printed paddles, GP badges on almost any surface possible. The new model will once again have a limited production run with 3000 units globally.


South African production numbers and pricing have yet to be announced but the GP 3 will reach SA in very limited numbers once again and having privileged enough to have driven the previous models, much like many cant wait.

MINI John Cooper Works Clubman & Countryman

MINI JCW Clubman Review

New MINI John Cooper Works Clubman & Countryman

Mini has just launched the updated versions of their Clubman and Countryman models, and although some manufacturers are guilty of skimping when it comes to updates – Mini is not one of them.

MINI JCW Countryman
Current norms dictate that when a car receives a facelift it receives slightly more power and very minor aesthetic updates, however, Mini have challenged the status quo by giving the new Clubman JCW a new powerplant (Same as M35i) which forks out 55kW more than the outgoing version. Despite the extra ponies, the car remains composed with Minis ALL4 version of all-wheel drive. This means that although the extra power allows the driver to have some fun, it still remains one of Mini’s more mature products in the line-up.

MINI JCW Clubman Rear
At the launch, we drove both the Clubman Cooper S and the Clubman JCW respectively along the same roads to ensure as close a comparison as possible. The Cooper S, even though its down on power when compared with the JCW, still manages to be engaging, and can be shaken loose on corners while still giving the driver enough input to be predictable. Our Clubman Cooper S test unit did suffer from torque steer at wide-open throttle, though this didn’t detract too much from the
thrill-factor. The JCW, however remained composed no matter what command was sent through the steering wheel. We put it through its paces and the AWD coupled with a specifically redesigned chassis refused to allow the car to step out of line.

When you get into the drivers seat of this version, it is unmistakably JCW. The seats are partially wrapped in alcantara, the JCW logo is tastefully interspersed around the cockpit, the steering-wheel has been beefed up and has colour coded stitching and the instrument cluster hints that this is the ultimate Mini performance machine. A reminder of this is given upon start-up when the new exhaust system burbles and pops. This did seem a bit gimmicky though as there was no burble during actual driving. That being said, between the blow-off of the turbo and the actual exhaust note (which has been carefully tuned) the sound of this car could appeal to anyone from mature, level-headed adults through to the boy-racers at the other end of the spectrum.


Even though Mini have followed suit with a touchscreen infotainment system, they have kept all of the physical buttons with clear icons/labels, allowing ease of navigation and familiarity while incorporating a more modern system. We did notice that the main control bezel rotated the opposite way to nearly every other car we’ve seen. This, however once we were acquainted with, was no longer an issue.

Overall, the Clubman JCW is an strong value proposition. The 6 door setup and long wheelbase means that this can be an exceptional travel companion for you and your family. I dare say that the sheer thrill made possible by the new powertrain and practicality of this driver’s car means that it may have finally stated its case in being a possible alternative to the Golf R.

MINI JCW Highlights:

  • The Clubman JCW is propelled from 0 – 100km/h in just 4.9 seconds.
  • Cogs are selected through a responsive 8 Speed Steptronic sports transmission.
  •  A newly added mechanical differential means the power is put down on the road more
    effectively.
  • Mini have added a bigger brake-rotor system which WORK (Warning: switching from the
    Cooper S to the JCW and not tempering your pedal input can result in minor whiplash).
  • New exhaust system which emits a rather pleasant note. Sporty yet not obnoxious.

MINI JCW Facts:

  • R642,000
  • 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo-petrol engine
  • 225kW
  • 450Nm
  • 7-litres/100km

MINI JCW Pricing in South Africa

Prices for the new MINI John Cooper Works Clubman and MINI John Cooper Works Countryman start from R642 000 and R708 000, respectively.

Mercedes Maybach GLS 600

The Collaborative efforts of both Mercedes and Maybach have Revealed their rival to the likes of the Rolls Royce Cullinan and the Bentley Bentayga. This GLS will be the most luxury-focused SUV. Driving all four wheels through the familiar 4matic system is a 4.0 litre V8 tweaked for Maybach application and producing 410 kW and 730Nm linked to a nine-speed automatic. Much like many other new Mercedes AMG products a 48 Volt system. The system allows for the EQ boost, which is an elaborate explanation to an additional 16kW and more substantially 250NM from the surge of power offered from the electrically driven turbine and. A this makes the 600 good for a 0 – 100 of 4.9 seconds and the typical 250 km/h cap.

The Size of the GLS has always been a minor drawback to the smaller cheaper name younger brother, but in this application makes a lot of strong arguments for its broad shoulders. The 5.2 metre long, 2.0 meters wide and about 1.8 meters tall, it provides an interior space that beholds ‘lots of room for activities’ and even more so with the front passenger seat that can be reconfigured to increase legroom. More comfort features include air suspension that lowers and lift the car upon the opening of the doors, aluminium retracting running boards that hide away when not needed. The 600 comes standard with Air suspension but has the optional Maybach Drive programme that offers a fully active system and a more cushioned ride.

The Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 4 Matic offerings will boast both a 4 and 5 seat configuration, and the promise of the use of best materials and luxury-focused drive and insulation are key focus points. Discernable for the standard model by the distinct Maybach treatment that is the addition of chrome around the windows, and door sills, 22 and 23-Inch wheels and eight new two-tone colour combinations for the exterior. Internally its business as usual with high-quality fitments and finishes and optional extra’s to transform your GLS 600 into a 4.9 Second Lounge seat, with the rear seats offering climate, massage and reclining options as standard 

The GLS 600 will reach South Africa but only in the latter half of 2020

How important is the Datsun Go CVT to South Africa?

How important is the Datsun Go CVT to South Africa?

Datsun GO, what I could do is the clickbait-esque approach and create a platoon of clever metaphors about how underwhelming or terrible it. But after some careful pondering and zen-like meditation, I concluded the following: The Datsun GO is an honest car, therefore, an honest review. A pitty honest isn’t very interesting.

Go launched in 2014, a barebones entry-level A Segment offering into personal mobility. Driven by a 1.2 Litre 3-Cylinder engine that produced 50kw and 104nm at best. It offered sparse safety but seating for 5 small people, fuel economy, and a branded version of the phone holders that you can buy at the traffic lights where the radio should have been. In 2016 we got the Go plus, a 7-seat MPV version that allowed your whole family to be a road traffic statistic given the extra space and the very nervous platform.

A 2018 Facelift changed the GO image somewhat and the famed ‘‘safety pack’’ (ABS, EBD AND AIRBAGS) optional extra was deleted and both become standard fitment. We gained the 14-inch Diamond-cut alloys, a then 6-inch touch screen radio, with all the usual teeth and holes form music in and output, LED Day-time running lights and some extra options for spoilers and body kits. Overall the car was refined a bit more with more insulation and suspension reconfigurations for less scary driving experience and Indonesia got the CVT.

Present-day: Given the need for entry-level affordable cars, vehicle markets have grown. The car is so much more than a tool, thusly the reason most with a modicum of decent information on cars of the near future is salivating at the golden curves that are the silhouette of 2020. This is the new era of cars where the world is your oyster and scares of automotive diversity. The air has this tinge of electricity, some kind of childish joy that we all feed off. This joy for some comes in a rather smooth box.

DATSUN GO CVT LAUNCH

Is Adding a CVT enough to be taken seriously?

The car now has VDC (Nissan’s traction control), Rear park assist, an extra inch on to the screen, making 7-now with Apple Car Play and Android Auto and 7 more Kw’s of power to bring the total to a lofty 57. Climbing into the updated cabin, the necessary tech creates a more enticing space. It’s not Mercedes Plush, and you sometimes don’t know where to put your arms but hay. Like most A-segment cars, the design focus is to appeal to a market that has crippling budget arguments against car ownership. R1999 per month ads and ”free” 1-year insurance is a deal-maker to a low-income budget. This is the frame of mind where the GO CVT comes into its own.

To the untrained perspective, the GO is a cheap way of moving about in poor safety but with the pleasure of the features or bribes that are placed there to distract you from the ultimate peril, one finds themselves in sometimes given the driving dynamics and mannerisms of the GO. Acceleration requires patience and rather pointless at freeway speeds, the noise is not linked to an increase in any kind of forward swiftness. The honest perspective is more engaging, given it says the car is not aimed to be anything other than a cost-effective principle both ways. The addition of the CVT claims to drop fuel consumption from 5.5L/100 to 5L.

Now ponder this I remember living 3 odd months with a brand new KWID AMT company car in a previous life-the largest rival to GO CVT. R100 would be enough to muster my daily trip from the Eastrand to Pretoria and back for 2 out of the 6-day week. I should exclaim that’s not very impressive, what was, the fiery passionate hate I had for the thing. I drove it flat out almost every day for the first month. Running through a set of front brakes (R300 fitted) and managed to cover around 6000km in that car. I hated the lofty feel at speeds over 110km/h, I hated the lack of a headlight buzzer that meant I often awoke to a dead battery. Having No ABS caused many close scares and Yellow light lotteries but most of all the Automated Manual Transmission. I remember the sadness of having to guess and lift every time the car needed to change gear. It was the worst transmission I’ve ever experienced cause the absence of the lift would result in the atypical rock back and forth upon each shift. Now given I didn’t choose to have that car I hated it but understood I needed to love it; a love reciprocated with 4l/100 when driven tamely.

CVT makes a lot more sense now given 35 Litre tank would cost you less than R570 bucks to fill up and once you learn the CVT will mean the engine drones on constantly. The car still feels sometimes feels again nervous. Rolling around on its wheels at speed. It’s ultimately a city car but the route that was planned for the launch allowed for some truly dynamic testing enough to inspire confidence, even more, to worry more about the radio than my lack of NCAP stars at the sight of lorries given the Airbag would be pretty useless in that aspect.

GO and other A-segment cars are important in a country like ours, with about 579 configurations of GO sold last month. The bulk serving as the financial transition from commuters to Motorists allowing them the freedom that four wheels can provide, if you understand the public transport system. The Go seeks to beat out the equally problematic Kwid stablemate and the new Atos but will likely have its one fair share of the shine.

Pricing in South Africa

With 1 Year Subsidised insurance, 6year/150 000km warranty standard across the range,

GO

MID                                                                                                           R159 100

LUX                                                                                                           R170 200

LUX CVT                                                                                                   R184 200

GO PLUS

MID                                                                                                           R 169 500

LUX GO PLUS                                                                                          R180 800

LUX GO PLUS CVT                                                                                  R194 800

Porsche Macan Turbo – just how good is it?

Is the new Porsche Macan Turbo as good as the competition?

We drive the new Porsche Macan Turbo in South Africa

This obsession with SUV’s and speed is one that will never end. The really fast stuff began with the likes of the Mercedes Benz ML63 AMG, Porsche Cayenne Turbo S and BMW X5M. Let’s not forget the underdog Jeep Cherokee SRT8. That generation of fast and large SUV’s proved that big and tall objects can move at a rapid pace, as rapid as some sports cars of that time too. Fast forward to 2019 and this “fast and large” ethos has watered down to the mid-size variants of various premium brands. There are now quick, fast and simply silly options available for the affluent driver who doesn’t want something too big, but also requires reasonable space. The two biggest names playing in the silly space is the MercedesAMG GLC 63S and the newly launched BMW X3M Competition. Both these vehicles produce 375kW, both accelerate fast enough to outrun an apocalypse, and both cost a pretty penny. Whilst I have spent a good amount of time in the Mercedes-AMG, “SamTheMotoristhas driven both BMW and Mercedes and he can confirm that they feel equally as ballistic.

Porsche Macan Turbo South Africa

 

I, on the other hand, have recently sampled Leipzig’s new kid on the block, the Porsche Macan Turbo. On paper the Porsche is the “slowest”, with the Merc achieving a sub 4 second 0-100 times, 3.8 seconds to be exact – whilst the X3M does a 4.1 second run and the Macan completes the sprint in 4.3 seconds. Here’s the thing, the Macan is exactly 51kW down on power compared to its rivals. This leads me to the point I want to make, how the Porsche manages to allow the driver to extract all of it power, with Golf GTI ease of drive. See whilst the Mercedes is an occasion to pilot, it’s rapidness keeps you awake. Always. The car is loud, it’s hard and it never stops reminding you that it’s an AMG. If a hardcore experience is what you’re after, the GLC probably takes the cake. If we can liken the various cars in this class to utensils, the Merc would be a meat tenderizer – it just wants to bludgeon everything in its sight. The Macan however is like a razor-sharp carving knife with 600N.m and a 7-speed PDK gearbox, giving you the ability to finesse the roads in an inch perfect manner – something I happily did on the launch in Cape Town.

See there’s this thing Porsche do with their cars, no matter the size or the engine. A driver-focused experience is always a top priority. The “just right” philosophy can be seen in the development of the Macan Turbo. It certainly doesn’t feel as fast as the Mercedes in a straight line, but it doesn’t have to. It offers you the right amount of power, all the time. In a straight line, it hauls, in corners it stays flat and you can get on top of the V6 twin-turbocharged powerplant, without it feeling like it’s going to bite you. The Macan Turbo’s power and chassis combination make it a very accessible SUV to throw into corners, should they arise. The beauty of all this is that with a flick of a switch you can calm it all down and listen to the V6 purr away, as you explore some creature comforts offered in the Porsche.

Porsche Macan Turbo Rear South Africa

The interior is minimalistic and very high quality. Metals are metal, switches click with sturdiness – German engineering is very apparent. The Macan is also millennial-friendly, with Apple CarPlay making it easy to connect and the infotainment system reacts with the confidence of any VW/Audi Group product. Ergonomically it all makes sense and it’s all geared around the driver. Your passengers aren’t left out though. There’s enough space for the taller ones and enough boot space for babies as well. It’s not vast inside the Macan Turbo, but it sure is cozy.

Porsche Macan Turbo Interior South Africa

Being a Porsche, there’s a feel-good factor involved when driving this car. It’s a combination of the brand appeal and the excellence of the product. This is not just a fast, mid-sized SUV, it’s a car that can be used day in and day out without getting tiring because the Pitbull of an engine up front wants to play all the time, such as is the case in the Mercedes. That’s where I feel the Porsche has the upper hand, the same upper hand it’s siblings such as the 911 have – you don’t get tired driving these cars. It’s not all about the power, it’s about the balance between occasional hooliganism and the real world. The Porsche Macan Turbo works in the real world. At approximately R1 650 000, it’s not back pocket money.

Porsche Macan Turbo pricing in South Africa

The Porsche Macan Turbo works in the real world. At approximately R1 650 000, it’s not back pocket money. The BMW comes in as the cheapest at R1 495 000, the Mercedes is the most expensive at R1 668 420 – leaving the Porsche in the middle. This segment is not a bargain game though, it’s a badge game and we all know which keys shine brightest in this situation. What’s most impressive about the Macan Turbo is how it can stand toe to toe with its competitors, whilst packing much less power. Sometimes less is more.  

Spec yours here