Month: Feb 2020

Driven: 2020 Toyota CH-R facelift

The Toyota CH-R has been an attractive model and prospect for those looking for a funky crossover, with a quirky exterior and strong Toyota heritage in South Africa. The CH-R stands out for its ability to fit all this trick styling and yet be a typical Toyota in that its build to a very high standard and provides a comfortable dependable choice. Being a now midlife vehicle how does the 3-Year refresher improve its stake in the highly contested segment it exists within.

Looking back at the 2017 launch of the “Coupe High Riding”, the most considerable part of the lust the little Toyota showcases is the design, and this is even after a facelift mainly the same. Injected with an enhanced sporty fare the front bumper now hosts a bumper colour front chin-lip. The headlights are now standard with LED running lights with the fog lights shifting within the lower section of the redesigned bumper. At the rear with sharp lines that make the coupe-like rear flow better into the new back LED lights and Gloss rear spoiler.

The major update to the platform come through the safety upgrades on the Standard and Plus models. The Now six airbags come standard on the range, inclusive of front passenger knee airbags. The Spec Luxury gets the Toyota Safety Sense system, comprehensive of all your blind-spot monitoring, lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, a pre-crash system, radar-guided adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist needs.

Inside, the use of new higher-grade materials takes precedence, and the funky theme continues with a contoured roofliner with the Rhombus shape that can be seen throughout. The hard plastics are still there but better hidden and softer and less scratchy. The push feel remains but doesn’t make statements with class-leading contention. The seats feel redesigned and are softer and more comfortable. Understandably the rear feels dark and tight given the small rear windows the space is fair which will help with this but the small rear doors and sloping roofline do limit access and after the family car of the compactness of the vehicle.

The 4.2Inch infotainment gains CarPlay and Andriod Auto. The screen is angled towards the driver and having function buttons of the sides makes it easy to control, but the system despite allowing app access like GoogleMaps and Waze is still a bit lacking in intuitiveness. As standard, a 15GB data package (monthly top-ups are available at cost) which provides to be useful when network is limited but allows suffers from connection issues at points.

What’s improved about the drive?

The launch of the updated CH-R found journo’s in George on a 600Km small-town Grand Tour, which given the distance and amount of driving proved several critical reminders as to why this Sub-compact is such a fantastic combination of sporty, dynamic and comfortable. The facelifted model retains the 1.2Litre Turbocharged engine shared with the Corolla Hatch, producing 85kWs and 185Nm mated to a CVT transmission in the Luxury trim at test. The engine is smooth, and the power delivery is rewarding at most, given it gets the crossover moving at a rate that allows you to be confident overtaking and building speed. The most distinctive element is the power progression and mid-range pull when making your way up to freeway speeds. The large 18”-inch wheels interference very little when at speed but the roar at lower rates is noticeable. The time spent with the CH-R included some spectacular mountain passes that ushered the genuinely dynamic chassis to shine through. Steering inputs are direct and precise and the weight increases well with speed, the C-HR is very planted. When driving with a passion not familiar to a sub-compact, it responded very well and remained very comfortable when driving sedately.

CH-R’s European success is not without reason. As the Sub-Compact market gets more saturated with entrants and competitors, one should remember CH-R was one of the early cars to capture the brilliance that created this segment. Now it does this better than ever before. With the promise of a Yaris based replacement and a Gazoo Racing version of the CH-R, this is a platform at speaks leaps and bounds.

Facelifted 2020 CH-R Pricing in South Africa

Pricing kicks off at R371 100 for the entry-level model, climbing to just under R480 000 for the top trim Luxury CVT, which makes may make the Rav4 Bigger brother somewhat appealing at that point. When compared to a direct competitor Like VW’s T-Cross and Suzuki Vitra, it makes for an interesting departure with very high spec and driving dynamics.

Toyota C-HR 1.2T                              – R 371 700

Toyota C-HR 1.2T Plus                      – R 403 000

Toyota C-HR 1.2T Plus CVT              – R 415 100

Toyota C-HR 1.2T Luxury CVT          – R 476 600

The turn of the Dark Horse – VW’s plans for 2020

VWSA recently made use of the Premium drive experience as a catch-up and information session for South African Media, and TheMotorist was in attendance. The Premium drive made clear, numerous elements with respects to the dubbed Premium products and product range nevertheless. While combining the event with being introductions to the Dark Label versions of the Toureg, smaller sibling the Tiguan and the Lesire bakkie of the year Amarok Grand Canyon powered by the 190kW 3.0TDI v6 that makes it the most rapid and Amarok in V6 still the most desirable in class. The fact of the matter is VW is smashing it with respects to South Africa and the market. The T-Cross is the best selling in class, beating excellent offerings; from Kia Seltos, Hyundai’s Creta and H2 Haval’s as the value offering. 

The understanding that 22.7% of all vehicle sales locally was VW’s tally.
The year ahead is apparent with the mission towards autonomy. Throughout the year various test Golf 8 mules have been spotted Globally and even in SA, following its 2020 Q4 launch.

GOLF 8 GTI, GTE AND GTD

With Golf 8 in standard and GTI, GTE and GTD having been revealed ahead of their official Geneva debut. The MK8 GTI boasting 180kW and 370Nm with a performance pack variant with a likely 221kWs-Both unit receiving power from the familiar EA888 powerplant with a 6-speed manual as standard and the option for an updated drive-by-wire DSG box. GTE will also keep its 1.4Litre turbo petrol with the electric motor assistance. The dual powertrain is suitable for a GTI matching 180kW, and 400Nm.No acceleration or performance figures have been revealed for the performance variants, which interestingly enough will be the first offerings to reach our shores with the new Golf 8. The swansong for the Mk7.5 GTI platform the TCR which was confirmed for March will arrive before the new model later in the tyre with a few of the 300 units making there way to South Africa with a 700k plus price tag, 5.6 Second 0-100 and 264Km/h top speed.

Tiguan and Toureg Black Edition

The recent “Black style pack” offering to the Tiguan and Toureg offerings have allowed for slight tweaking to the familiar faces, that transform and add some serious aggression and volume to the vehicles. In Tiguan guise, the R-Line kit takes on black air intakes, a new updated front grille, black window trim and side-mirrors, black roof rails, and sports suspension. 19″ Sebring” alloy wheels remain the only option for the comfort, while the larger 20″ Suzuka alloy defaults the Highline. 

E-GOLF & ID.3

The move to electrification by VW in South Africa is growing to be a considerable movement and investment from VW into support and infrastructure. This is garnered the need for a fleet of Press E-Golf’s and the Later 2021 launch of the ID.3 EV vehicle. The idea is the E-Golf and launch of WE Connect intelligence vehicle connectivity will usher the era of smarter cars with remote access to diagnostics and vehicle information. This being key to EV ownership, given the need for access to charging and how this process is intuitive.

Haval H2 Facelift – Launch Drive

Haval’s introduction to South Africa in May of 2017, with the H2, created a bit of a wave in terms of what the Chinese car is or instead was—proving to be the most successful model for the brand locally with around 7235 units finding homes. Understandably so given in China 10 000 units for the last four years leave dealerships making it the 3rd best selling model in its class.
The H2 finds itself a contender in a very brand focused market against the stiff competition from the likes of the Ford Ecosport, Hyundai Creta, Renault Duster and VW’s T-Cross. The key behind the H2 success is value for money, and the new model picks up brilliantly where the old one left off.

What’s New?

The facelift is rather comprehensive in keeping the H2 image fresh, the revised front end, with a new chrome grille, bonnet and front bumper design with integrated foglights and ditching the Hawk style headlights for a modern slim design. The rear also gets a new taillight design with a chrome strip linking them. A new rear splitter design and chrome exhaust tips and an overall sophisticating about it: New 18-inch alloy wheels complete the look rather well, and the facelifted H2 is a beautiful thing without trying too hard.

Internally standard spec is rather plentiful for a car of this price, with the touch screen infotainment with Bluetooth, SD slot and Apple CarPlay exclusively. Additionally, a rearview camera, with Rear PDC, tyre pressure monitor. Keyless entry and go and Panoramic sunroof on the top-spec Lux makes the H2 stand out when compared to rivals standard spec. Importantly for a car aimed at families in South Africa is the extensive safety, ABS, EBD, brake assist and Vehicle Stability Control and 6 airbags are standard across the range. 

Behind the wheel

The H2 offers a single-engine lineup, comprised of a 1.5-litre turbo petrol, delivering 105kW and 202Nm driving the front wheels. Possibly the most surprising element is the powertrain’s ability to speak volumes for the level of development and refinement that has been put into the car. The cabin feels wholesome, and the soft-touch door cars and dash makes the vehicle feel more prominent and more expensive than the price may suggest. The steering is well-weighted, and the coastal route of the R44 ring road allowed for some proper dynamic testing. Despite the strong winds doing there very best to unsettle the car laterally the H2 still pitched its nose with no fuss and even when pushing harder more of the target market will it drove better than a few of the rivals which become very light at the front. During overtaking and kick down, it provides ample thrust with truly impressive in-gear acceleration. Once an understanding of the traditional auto’s kick down tendencies are understood, it tends to carve through traffic, however, at the expense of fuel consumption which rose from 8.9L/100 when driving somewhat sedately, to 10.8L/100 when pressing on at freeway speeds with a powerful headwind.

The Haval brand is far more expansive than most South Africans are aware, the drive of the H2 is more akin to an established manufacturer. Considering the H2 serves as a budget offering is a powerful statement and truly does make it an affordable car with very impressive in class spec and drive. The facelift will likely help make rivals worry, given how impressionable the vehicle has become. A reliable dealer network and aftersales support make this a serious contender for best in class, given how quickly that has been able to make a sizeable impression. It would be fair to say more time behind the wheel will create a better understanding of the package and how it fits into the daily commute and the family haul duties. But with the limited time spent, it does lead to the question of brand snobbishness and its necessity if the budget options are this good.

Pricing

Prices in South Africa Start at just under R270 000 for the base City Manual and are inclusive of a 5-year/100 000km warranty, 5-year/60 000 km service plan and with 5-year/unlimited km Roadside Assitance.     

City 6-Speed MT R269 900,00

Lux 6-Speed MT R294 900,00

City 6-Speed Auto R304 900,00

Lux 6-Speed Auto R329 900,00

2020 Mercedes Benz GLB Range

The endless onslaught of SUV’s for the South African Market and the equally infinite marketability of a vehicle of such a design has resulted in the Stuttgart giant Mercedes to create a kind of ‘Mini-me’ version of the GLC, dubbed the ‘B’. The GL terminology is indicative of the SUV origins and the B to indicate where it will fit into the range. Merc’s range is a bit tricky at the moment, but the GLB falls part of the target market as stablemates A class, A-class sedan and CLA. Offering an additional 10 centimetres on the B-class Platform and extending a total length of 4634mm, while providing the elevated SUV driving position that has become the typical statement of a vehicle of this class and design with a 1658m height. 

The GLB offering aims to take on the VW Tiguan directly into its crosshairs with its compact design and the well put together compact Merc package that offers the option of extended versatility through the ability to spec an additional row of seating. The range will comprise of the GLB 220d and the GLB 250. Later the GLB 35 AMG will join the lineup and serve as the range-topper.

Drivetrains

The engines are shared with other models within the range, and the tried and true motto means the GLB 220d makes use of the familiar 2.1Litre turbodiesel motor, producing a maximum output of 140kW and 400Nm paired to an 8-speed DCT automatic. These numbers are suitable for a 7.6 second 0-100 sprint time and a top speed of 217Km/h. The GLB 250 makes use of a 2.0Litre Turbo producing 165KW and 350Nm, which equate to a relatively brisk sub-7 second 0-100 and a 236Km/h top chat. In the interests of efficiency and fuel consumption cylinder deactivation and Start aim to lower consumption and emissions.

Drive is to all four corners through optionally available 4Matic which ultimately under typical drive situations and in Eco and Sport, splits power 80:20 between the axles and when in sport 70:30. In Off-road mode is the power split equally 50:50 through the Dynamic Drive Select which alters the 4Matic and characteristics and allows the ABS-system to assist with low traction situations.

Internally the GLB brings out its origins through the typical New-Generation Mercedes interior roots raining clear. Aluminium vents and design trim elements, and the combination of quality materials are to be expected throughout. The options list serves as your proverbial oyster, and this way almost endless connectivity and customisation are available. The 10.25″ Display and MBUX user interface offering the option of Augmented Reality Navigation, Wireless charging, hard drive storage and bundles of optional features. The passive and active safety elements not forgotten, and encompasses DISTRONIC Active Adaptive cruise control, PARKTRONIC with Park Assist, Lane Keep Assist, Hill Assist as some highlights. LED headlamps with adaptive High beam Assist are standard throughout the range, with the option for Multibeam LED lights as an option. The key feature of the optional 3rd row of seating has been designed with passengers of up to 1.68meters.

GLB 35 AMG

The Range Topper 35AMG takes the speed and driving dynamics to another level with the 228kW 2.0litre turbo petrol powering all for wheels through 4Matic AWD, Enough to propel the sandwich like SUV to 100Km/h in 5.2seconds and on to the 250Km/h Limiter. Standard features and specifications on the AMG model are more extensive than the standard model and rides of a set of 20″ inch alloy wheels.

Specs and Pricing in South Africa

GLB 220d GLB 250 4Matic

Power/Torque: 140kW 400Nm 165kW 350Nm
Fuel Consumption:5.4L/100 7.4/100
Acceleration: 7.6 6.9
Top Speed: 217 236

Pricing has yet to be announced but with struggling rand value the desire to make this a R600-650k Tiguan rival may prove difficult.

The Surprise that is Kia Seltos

The subcompact SUV and its incredible popularity with respects to the South African Market is honestly rather astounding. Put simply; manufactures are chomping at the bit to get in on the action, with Kia not wishing to be late to the party, the Seltos rather quietly joined our markets in November. The VW T-Cross formula, proving in December, with 632 units finding new homes that Kia South Africa would be silly not to jump in the deep end.

So the new Seltos, think of it as a smaller Sportage and (Kia’s now best seller). Compact dimensions that make it thin enough to be a B-segment SUV to take the fight to the likes of VW, Ford Ecosport and its cousin the Hyundai Creta. 510 units found homes in its first retail month, and the debate has almost concluded to an outright brawl given its brilliance.

The range is powered by choice of the familiar 1.6litre 90kW and 151Nm engine, mated to either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed Auto, in the entry and mid-spec Ex and Ex+, good for an 11.2 second 0-100 time and a 175km/h top chat. The top-spec GT-line gains a 1.4Litre Turbocharged motor that produces a healthy 103kW and 242Nm. The turbo mill is paired exclusively to a 7-speed DCT transmission, and all models drive the front wheels with the latter making use of a 2WD “Terrain mode”, that makes use of the traction control system to create three low grip driving options namely; sand, snow and a regular road use mode. The healthy power and torque figures result in a swifter 9.7 second acceleration time and a 187km/h top speed. Standard specification is the highlight of cars of this segment and the notion that is the power of Kia’s impressionable sales presence in our market.

The entry-level Seltos offers An 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, with Apple Carplay and android auto, Bluetooth with voice recognition and linked to a 6-speaker system with USB charging ports front and rear. The entire range comes equipped with automatic headlights with LED daytime running lights and front fog lights incorporated into a muscular and athletic front end with the signature Kia ‘Tiger Nose’. Steering mounted controls, electric mirrors and windows tops of the list of standard spec rather well. All models come with six airbags, two front, two side and two full-length curtains for the rest of the vehicle. The EX+ adds leather on both the seats and the doors, electrically folding mirrors, a centre console with a storage bin in the centre console and an extra inch to make 17 on the alloy wheel option.

The Top Spec GT-line adds an extra level of specification to the range, GT-Line Exclusive features and touches like satin, gloss black and red trim, 17-inch crystal cut alloys that hide red brake callipers, full LED lighting up front, and 3D dimensioned indicators. A Bespoke leather interior with red accents and mood lighting with six different colours and D-shaped leather steering wheel featuring cruise control. Keyless entry and start to conclude the extensive list of standard trimmings.

What is the Seltos like to drive?

On launch both the 1.6 in EX+ auto and the GT-line were available to sample; beginning with the later the GT-line, one finds themself in a cabin, that is a lovely space to be. Standard spec and value for money equation coming up and the only thing I felt myself wanting for was automatic climate control and a panoramic roof with the connectivity elements coming into fruition tenfold. The large leather wheel, supportive leather seats and the sporty vibe are played through rather well, and the cabin feels like it would be at home in a larger vehicle or more premium segment. The keyless entry and start make for swift and rapid entry and getaway. The GT-line is rather dynamic for a car of its class, weight and stature, with the engine and transmission parring making for such an effortless integration of the overall driving experience. There a strange connection that builds between you and a car that does as its told, and this Kia Suv does that incredibly effortlessly. The sharp and twisty Franschhoek pass proved to be ‘not enough’ to unsettle the Kia and the 242Nm’s, and slick gearbox proved rather fantastic at the overtake and pass. When driven hard, it responded rather well with good grip and the Drive mode dial by the gear leaver changing the driver characteristics enough to make the car very engaging. The swiftness and ease of the drive that the GT-Line provides are very hard to rival in this class, and the only comparable vehicle is the VW T-Cross, but the options list expansiveness makes that a rather pricey affair. Sadly the drive of the rest of the range is not as dynamic or engaging, but the average consumer will be far more concerned with the value aspect that the car offers. The steering weight and body roll is nothing that one needs to write home about. The biggest let down is the 1.6 90Kw motor, it feels very underpowered and makes the driving experience far more demanding through having to work the revs to get the car moving which happens rather leisurely even at the coast, as gingerly as the 11.2 acceleration suggests 

Verdict

With such competitive pricing, it’s tough to fault the Seltos, sure the 1.6 Motor is not well suited to the vehicle and maybe if one is reaching the option for Automatic climate control would be nice. Still, its a brilliant thing and the numbers suggest the market knows this too.

Corolla Quest Facelift – Fresher, beefier, and more vuma!

Back in 2014, the Corolla Quest moniker hit the South African market as a new perspective into affordable and Uber reliable transportation for fleet and passenger buyers. It provided transport that offered a great badge in the nose that stood for a brand with some acute ability to tug at the emotions of South Africans and enough credibility to bring out the typical book of Toyota review words, ‘Dependable’, ‘Reliable’ Great dealer support’ and boot space. Based on the 10th generation of the corolla, the ‘Polo Vivo’ effect meant, the basic shape, design and engines remained in a new guise that is designed for a local market. The 1.6 from the Auris and everything else from the corolla with more copy past friendly door cards, bumpers, seat designs with less plush feeling trim birthed the Quest of old. The ‘Cheapness’ of a vehicle is typically an Achilles heel of sorts. Still, given the competitive pricing that the Quest offered and the bigger 11th gen Corolla serving as the right model to buy if focused on anything other than pricing, Quest makes sense, it some serious cents if you catch my drift. 

The Current 11th Gen Corolla range has always been a rather interesting option for the South African market given it offered one of the better 3 box sedan options on the market, in a market that prefers SUV’s and chases the term ‘elevated driving position’  when making vehicle purchases. Toyota is aware of this but once again combats this with numbers that simply can’t be trumped in terms of value. Using the same formula that worked so well the first time the new model takes the existing platform, with the 103kW and 173Nm 1.8litre engine and mates it to either a six-speed manual or a CVT and that’s about it. Three trim levels are offered Quest, Prestige and Exclusive with contrasting equipment levels

Cosmetically the changes are slight with the model looks almost identical to the outgoing facelifted model, with the addition of the slight tweaks to the front bumper to make clear denotations between trim levels, with the lower-spec models making use of black grill pieces and the rest of the line up now featuring colour coding and losing the front fog lights.
At the Rear, the number plate guard now is body colour and not chrome platted and the addition of the quest and exclusive badging respectively. Internally again changes are few and far between with the only major difference I was able to note on the Top Spec exclusive models on test was the foam wheel which now replaces the leather which preceded it. All the materials have been altered and fettled with local suppliers taking presidencies to achieve the goal of decreasing the price of the Older Corolla, while seamlessly making it the New Quest.

Spec levels on the new quest are impressive and the standard model features, dual front airbags with drivers and passenger knee airbag protection, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) with Hill Assist Control (HAC), ABS, EBD, Isofix, LED daytime running lights and rear fog lights are standard across the board. Radio with CD/USB and AUX integration and 4 door-mounted speakers. 15-Inch steelies with hub caps, remote central locking and follow me home lights. The Prestige model adds the upgraded Touch Screen interface with Bluetooth and DVD interface with 6 speakers. Creature comforts line, Cruise control, reverse camera, fabric and leather combination seats and larger 16-inch alloy wheels. The top-spec Exclusive gains LED headlamps, keyless entry and start, automatic single-zone climate control leather seats and rains sensing wipers.

Dynamically the Quest is refined enough to make communing even over long distances effortless, which with the CVT option is the most accurate depiction of the performance. The Drone is dampened well and the NVH is very low and makes the Corrolla feel very well put together. Overtaking is swift enough and the engine does enjoy being revved with the power being up top, With the 4000Rpm peak torque. The manual has a very light clutch with a very early engagement which takes a second to get used to, but obviously with the comfort bias is not going to be an issue for more fighting their way through traffic. Fuel consumption even with the larger engine is low with the route combining city, open road and intense traffic a 6.9L/100 in the CVT and 7.2 in the manual makes the car frugal enough for a car of its class.

In summary, the pun about the 2020 Corolla Quest making cents remains true, and the large boot, decent performance and great road dynamics make it feels more of a car designed to be better than it is or feels, though a bit dull it’s not intended to set your world on fire just get you around rather comfortably and with very little in the way of complaints. The lack of Sat-Nav is an irritation at times but later models will have better app integration sorting that out.

2020 Toyota Corolla Quest Pricing in South Africa
Arriving in dealers March of 2020, All models come standard with a 3year/45 000Km Service plan and 3year/100 000KM warranty.
QUEST R249 900
QUEST CVT 270 400
QUEST PRESTIGE R286 500
QUEST PRESTIGE CVT 296 800
QUEST EXCLUSIVE R307 400
QUEST EXCLUSIVE CVT R314 700