Month: Dec 2019

Aston Martin DBX unveiled in South Africa

Aston Martin DBX Front

Aston Martin DBX unveiled in South Africa

Aston Martin DBX revealed in South Africa

Aston Martin South Africa has used the opportunity to reveal its brand new 1,217m² Melrose Arch premises to coincided the reveal of DBX – Aston Martins First SUV. With the support and collative investment from the Daytona group, The New facility serves to highlight the brand’s commitment to the South African Market with the new facility spanning two floors, with a premium lounge feel that exists to simplify and modernise the purchasing experience, boasting a 9-car display and room for both new models and the Aston Approved Timeless programme.

Aston Martin Regional President SA and the UK Philip Eaglesfield said: “As a business, we are working to future proof our business structure and part of that is responding to the growing emphasis on experiential luxury. When we refreshed the Company’s Corporate Identity in 2018, we wanted to ensure that customers could access a relaxed but sophisticated environment. The development in Johannesburg has achieved our brand vision of providing a space to explore and connect with the brand, but remains unique, relevant to the market in South Africa and instantly recognisable in its own right.”

2020 ASTON MARTIN DBX In South Africa

The DBX’s reveal showcased the first interactive experience for the South African market and allowed for a pre-production model “hands-on” experience. Showcasing the new model’s dynamics and uncovered a tantalising Stratus White Pearlescent Paint scheme that in an almost pageantry nature, which exhibits the sheer mass of the DBX and how it comes together beautifully to hide this. an unmistakably Aston Shark-like nose with signature grill heritage is carried through and the lines make the car sleek. The size is very well hidden and the low roofline creates a large SUV coupe feel towards the rear quarter and the line slopes into the ducktail-like Vantage like the rear. In the Flesh, the DBX is a terribly beautiful alternative to the typical premium SUV. It fees a touch smaller than the likes of Cayenne Coupe or Audi’s Q8

The interior is well-appointed with similar ultra-luxury feels shining through. Plush feeling materials, Leather trimmings, and uber comfy seats feel well designed for both support and comfort. Rear space and light are well catered for and there’s clear thought put into the rear given the SUV focus. The Mercedes Benz Collaboration is not limited to the engine with the 10-inch TFT drivers display and the 12.3-inch Touchscreen infotainment lifted from the Germans. A panoramic sunroof is standard and the frameless doors combine with the space to make it feel less confined. Littering’s of exposed naked carbon are everywhere and hint to the sporting heritage that the Aston Martin name holds.


Dynamically DBX is driven by Mercedes AMG derived 4.0 Litre Bi-turbo V8 producing 405kWs and a laughable 800Nm, enough for a Zero- 100 time of 4.5Seconds and a top speed of 291km/h. Despite the 2.2-ton weight, DBX managed a sub 8 second time around the Green Hell.

Aston Martin DBX Pricing in South Africa

Prices start at R3.6 million and orders have begun with the first deliveries due in March of 2020.

Nissan adds extra pep to the Micra Range

June 2018 saw the launch of Nissan’s latest version of its smallest and if not often underwhelming offering, the Micra. The new model aimed to shift the pensioner or rental car image, by offering new tech, drive platform and importantly a new fresh look that would be able to keep up if not contend with the likes of VW’s Polo and stablemate the Renault Clio 4 on which it’s based. The new Micra recipe was pretty simple, Cash in on the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, save on production costs and make it a Clio 4 with a lovely new body, also makes use of Clio’s 66kw 3-cylinder turbo petrol, and done. There’s nothing major to fault as it proved a good package with a competitive price tag but the underpinnings, realistically could have been the greatest flaw, given this engine can’t be faulted on anything other than its sheer lack of oomph once you lived with it in the real world. Now, don’t get me wrong it’s not a matter of a catastrophic lack of muscles that compromises the car to nothingness, no, just you find yourself having to work the 3-pot a touch harder than you would in a comparable rival, thusly affecting fuel consumption and just the overall driving experience has given the combined driving experience is rather engaged feel, and unlike the gutless motor in that it actually creates more joy that gripes.

Well, seemingly Nissan gets that too and fittingly has given the Micra range 3 additional variants, all of which to make use of an all-new DIG-T 1.0L motor. Offering 84kw and 180nm (with an additional 20 newtons on over boost), this is sent through the front wheels via 6-speed manual box, all pretty standard stuff. The extra poke is joined by some additions to specification levels, this is where the Micra comes into its own, with a long and extensive list of standard features, with the flagship model tested ticking off big-ticket items in this segment, the likes of Keyless entry, 360-degree camera, rear park assist, automatic LED lighting, automatic single-zone climate control, heated ‘Invigorating Red’ leather seats contrasted with the Black exterior paint scheme.  I rather enjoyed the Bose Personal Soundsystem which offered a sound experience that is pretty impressive for this price point with lots of clarity and enough bass for most, the headrest-mounted “UltraNearField” speakers are a bit of a gimmick but, as they add to the sound experience somehow I guess I like them too.

The new models now feature Sports suspension which is lower by 10mm and offers some rather impressive driving dynamics, the steering is well-weighted proves to be a good match to the rest of the package.  The additions to the power haven’t transformed the driving experience drastically, the motor still feels a touch lethargic and thusly a few extra revs before changing gears is often required when trying to make brisk progress. If you have a look at the B-segment you’ll understand that this is possibly one of the most tightly contested and overly saturated segments on the market, with lots of very different cars that all do and offer rather different things.  The Micra is subject to those rules, it offers value for money, a strong badge, vast spec levels and various vs price points and that’s pretty much what you need in such a tightly contested sector. The New engine doesn’t transform the Micra into anything it wasn’t before, a good contender for your money, the difference is now you can have a black one.

Pricing in South Africa

With the entry-level Visia Turbo starting at R252 800, the Micra suggests a decent amount of affordability when compared to the segment leaders. Good value for money and high levels of specification, even the Top Trumps Tekna plus is an impressive package given the standard trim.

66kW Turbo Visia: R252 800.00

66kW Turbo Acenta: R279 400.00

66kW Turbo Acenta Plus: R295 400.00

84kW Turbo Acenta Plus: R305 900.00

84kW Turbo Tekna: R326 300.00

84kW Turbo Tekna Plus: R336 900.00

New BMW 1 Series- 118i Review

It’s almost impossible to mention the new one series without the mention. FWD platform UKL2 that underpins the likes of Mini and X1. The New and of us right now only other option other than the New M135i in SA before 2020. You see the issue is the niceness of the 1 series was always the RWD and chassis combination, it allowed for the joy that at a point was only reserved to a select group of vehicles given the layout. 50:50 weight distribution, RWD, 6-speed manual option across the range, it was rather brilliant given a meagre 116i offered a driving experience that was comparably better than most in class. More engaging than an A3, less dull than a Golf and still a premium badge.

Now Power comes from a 1.5 litre 3-cylinder that produces 105Kw and 190nm mated to an 8-speed auto. Longitudinally mounted engines by nature need a longer bonnet and thusly a shorter hood gives way to the familiar face with the larger grill. F-series 1 mantra may have carried RWD DNA but by no means does that render the 1 series a terrible car. What may be lacking in the ability to create some variation of driver engagement and with enough stabs at the DSC button some pretty interesting moments now days gone.
The new Platform results in the 2-series active tourer (MPV) are not shared and can be translated into this model. That means That’s the first collection of thoughts one comes to when you climb into the driver’s seat. The low, planted seating position is a bit off in comparison to the previous model but the sense of overall space in the cabin is vast. Not that it’s a much bigger car but the change in the profile means the cramped, and somewhat dark feeling is no longer exists. More arm room, light and overall spatial confinement are gone. In an RWD hatch, The boot given the limited space needs to accommodate for differentials, transmission tunnels and as a direct result, one has a smaller boot and less rear legroom. Rear seat passengers need not be limited to short people or children given the reason you still bought the car was the cause of this appeal, has grown to 380litres leading its class.


Tech! oh glorious Tech, towards the runout of this model the interior began to feel dated, granted all the features one would expect-generosity with the options list required- but the new cabin leans heavily on the new BMW synergy that all the models share. You still get a lovely thick leather wheel and BMW’s Live Cockpit pro (R26 900) is at its most refined yet, the Heads up display, and wireless charging very nice options to have but can be ditched through better selection with options, for example, saving you about R12k, therefore once again careful with the options. It’s on par with the likes of MBUX and the long list of connectivity offered with its gesture control trinkets to top it off.


On the Road the new 1 – series is rather composed and not lacking in anything with respects to the drive. Its planted and drives as a “BMW would”. A statement very true despite FWD but at this point, you should understand the importance of holding on to this is a bit silly now. Expansion of the range is obviously to follow but the important thing to understand is the move to FWD has changed the car into a bit of a more serious contender although for the more mundane models making them somewhat cut and paste by the previous mantra. The new model is a vast improvement, yes but having not yet driven the M135i X-drive but the engines vast power leads to some interesting thoughts of hope and interesting competition to the A35 which at present big brother A45 and A45 S BMW has no answer to, and given the extensive focus on M2 and it still holding on to RWD through to the next generation hope should not be lost Purists.
Prices start at R481 909.51 for the standard 118i rising to Sport R502 609, M Sport R514 609 models respectively

Audi’s Q8 gets the much-deserved RS treatment

VW’s MLBeveo Brillant origins and cut and paste mantra make for a hell of a recipe for fast Luxury SUV. Sharing DNA with Bentley, Lamborghini, and Porsche, Audi cousin may upset the order somewhat with the brands largest and most powerful heart transplant candidate – the 4.0 litre V8 Biturbocharged 48V boosted is aided by a Hybrid-Electric system, good for 441kW and 800 Nm. The excessive propulsion results in 3.8 seconds zero to 100 km/h, 13.7 to 200 and 250 km/h German handshake gate shot after that. Keys to the said gate are explored through the optional Dynamic Pack, allowing the 305Km/h Top Speed to match the Bentuga Speed and Urus. Power is delivered to all four wheels via 8-speed automatic box. A centrally mounted centre diff is fitted standard with the option for a Quattro sport diff with torque split capabilities to the tune of 70% to the front and 85% rear. The 48V system is shared with Audi stablemates offers the same regeneration of energy and the engine off-coast up to 160km/h and cylinder deactivation. 

The facts are simply that the Q8 RS is monstrous, Ingolstadt’s RS divisions have now claimed fastest production SUV lap time on the Green hell, with an official time of 7 minutes and 42,2 seconds around the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Oliver Hoffman, Audi Sport Boss had high praise for tasteful creation the bespoke news the RS Q8 offers, calling it a “high-performance car”.

The delicate process of infusing the look of the large SUV and drizzling’s of the heritage the Brand beholds the RS Q8. The Audi Sport treatment has brought to the fold the typical need for larger frontal air takes and black single-frame grille. The track remains unchanged but width growing 10 mm and 5 mm in the rear through sudo-wide-body effect. The rear hosts the most striking part of the Q8, the infusion of the sharp angular lines ‘The hockey stick’ black panel as a node to the Original Quattro as the official Audi Sport cherry pop. The LED Light integration that makes the standard model so grasping fused with large diffuser and the quad exhaust and bumper placed air ducting hinting the extra girth. 

The fit and trim of the standard Q8 not forgotten with the treatment extension compromising the 23-inch optional alloy wheels, large composite disc brakes and optional carbon ceramics. Adaptive air suspension in combination with the live-link suspension front and rear with damping control standard. Ride height can rise 90nm during off-road conditions and all-wheel steer is standard.  

Inside the SUV the Audi simplicity is the best approach of digital display overload and button-less user interfaces, Virtual cockpit closes off the package stupendously. Given the RS nomenclature Alcantara sports seats, RS-leather wheel with RS 1 and 2 storable dynamic settings buttons, optional RS based heads-up display with lap and shift indicators. The vast dimensions mean around 1 755 litres of total load space. 8 Drive-select modes are available with 2 RS-specific. The drive select system features eight modes, including two RS performance modes and an off-road option.

With rivals like the new Mercedes-Benz GLE 63S, X6M, and Porsche Cayenne coupe it needs to be all that it promises to be to take the fight to the extensive list of rivals given the bullet train brisk. 
Launching in the latter half of 2020 in South Africa 

V8 4.0 TFSI: 441 kW / 800 Nm

Engine: 4.0-litre V8 Bi-turbo 48V-hybrid Belt-driven alternator system
Gearbox: 8-speed Torque Converter Auto
Fuel economy: 12.1L/100 km (claimed)
Power/Torque: 441 kW/800 Nm

The New Era of Audi Fastbacks – 2020Audi RS7

2020 Audi RS7

The new year brings with it the need to keep making fast wagons and Sportback’s, in response to pressure from 600hp Barnstormers such as the BMW M5 and Merc’s E63.

Audi has confirmed the dates for the launch of both S7 and the full cream RS7 Sportback. First seen internationally in October, it lent the brands 4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 offering 441kW and 800Nm driven through Quattro-AWD with sports differential and 8-speed Automatic, to a 48 Volt Mild-Hybrid Energy regeneration system from the rest of the A7 range.

The 48V belt-driven alternator starter brings forth the idea of the true performance attributes that a Biturbo V8 posses, off-set by the system that is set to combat fuel economy through cylinder deactivation and coasting with the engine switched off at up to 160Km/h.

The idea may be conceptually sound but only a drive of the car will express its effect. Typical of any serious version of a sports production car the overall width has expanded to the tune of 40mm. Sharing only the front doors, roof and the rear tailgate on fastback models. Optional 22-inch fill each corner accommodatingly seamlessly integrating the aerodynamic and cat-eye touching sleekness. The 20mm lowered ride height is key to the standard adaptive dynamic air suspension and all-wheel steering with up to 5 degrees opposite directional movement at low speed and same direction at speed.


Internally Premium RS-embossed leather sport seats with colour cross-stitching. Alcantara touches on the flat-bottom steering wheel and gear selector provide a clear explanation of the focus here. The Steering allows for the storage of RS1 and RS2 settings via buttons allowing dynamic configurations. Being a modern flagship Audi, the focus on Light, tech and dynamics is astonishingly impressive. The three displays serve to create an uncluttered environment, with endless integration of technology. MMI user interfaces, driver-assist systems, adaptivity, LTE connectivity, virtual cockpit, its all rather vast. 2+2 was offered in the Sportback at its initial debut but so too the typical 3-seater rear beach. The large oval exhausts, LED Matrix lights and a darker tint of Sportback rear lights, fit into the lines of the car and the darkened elements and touches through the entirety of the car in a way that makes it a terribly pretty car.

Powertrain

The most important aspect of this car is the powertrain, and the 4.0Litre V8 propels the RS7 to a 3.6 Second 0-100, which frankly is laughable given the rapidness offered among this and its peers in consideration to the 2065Kg weight. Quattro’s latest rendition offers the ability to spilt power in a 40:60 Front/Rear with a maximum of an 85% rear split is possible. The shove on offer will drive you to an optional extra Top Speed 304Km/h. To bring the massive car to order as standard ten piston breaks are fitted 440mm Carbon Ceramics are available as options.


The numbers suggest an impressive car and at this point and having sampled product few of The Audi Era, and the new A7 as a whole and the cabin is just a wholesome meal of technologic brilliance the way it comes together is very well executed. Audi is making some very good cars right now and the RS7 sounds like that magic is translated, I do fear what the true drives experience behind the 48V works in such a performance-focused machine but only next year will tell, but the duality offered by the frankly “Return on the great” M5 Competition and the equally action movie star E63 S with the large executive salon that they all pull off so well.

Audi RS7 Pricing

Pricing will follow its September 2020 Launch in Sportback trim with an Avant joining later.

  • Engine: 4.0-litre V8 Bi-turbo 48V-hybrid Belt-driven alternator system
  • Gearbox: 8-speed Torque Converter Auto
  • Fuel economy: 11.4L/100 km (claimed)
  • Power/Torque: 441 kW/800 Nm

Is the 48Volt Mild-Hybrid System the future?

Notably, in many of the new and imminent 2020, chassis and models are the internal use of a “48Volt Mild-Hybrid system” that allows for energy recuperation and regeneration in a way that merges standard engines and electric/hybrid systems.

Systems make use of a belt-driven starter generator that serves as the traditional starter for the engine but also serves as a generator. Energy is stored in 48V lithium-ion batteries, and kinetic energy is recycled in converted into electrical current that drives the motor and improves the dynamics of Stop/Start tech, through better and higher speed engine deactivations.
Systems have small differences in how they operate, but the basic principles remain. The MEHV (Mild Electric Hybrid Vehicle) is becoming a phrase that we should all become somewhat familiar with given its application. I’ve driven a few cars with this system at this point, and frankly, the benefits of what is claimed in fuel consumption are rather small at present, but the additional boost is something that is best felt and offers real value, despite weight considerations.

The best application of this tech that I have sampled thus far is the Mercedez E53 AMG, being the first of the AMG model line up,
Affalterbach’s 3litre inline six-cylinder petrol “twin forced induction” engine boosts 320Kw and 520 Nm with the system adding 16kW and 250Nm under “EQ boost”.
Practically this means you start the car and it’s an almost instantly the engine comes alive. It’s a very swift process which is vital given this works with a stop/start system that allows for when lifting off the throttle the engine switches of and the car glides making use of the system even it speed.

Given the systems ability to shut off the engine, the idea is fuel consumption, lower emissions and the ability to use smaller engines to provide power akin to much bigger motors. The issue is the system does work, but in the real world the re-gen is there, and you find the cruising on the freeway with the engine off a bit of an adjustment, but a stab at the throttle and it awakens very quickly. This is all well and great but the issue of additional weight given the need for extra equipment and more importantly the scary notion of how many performance offerings now have or will have this system make it a somewhat of a controversial yet exciting move. VW’s Golf 8 will employ the same tech in a large portion of the range and its growing in popularity across the board, so the tech is only going to grow and advance.

The argument merely exists in power vs economy advantage, some of these systems and the EQ boost abilities make this method rather crucial, in that they can transform the performance as 250Nm is no easy feat. Understand this its a cheat code to power and I feel most cars will adopt this in some way and with some refinement and the advancement it will likely see through the significant manufacture support it has will become a widespread thing. The E53 AMG, for example, is a torque monster and overtaking in this car makes it feel far more rapid than the numbers suggest. There will be no replacement for displacement, and the E63 would make this car a tiny spec in the rearview, but it makes this a far better car and makes a lot of sense once you’ve sampled the tech.