Month: Mar 2020

Porsche 718 GTS: Now with 4.0 Litre flat-six power

Porsche 718 GTS Steering Wheel

What you need to know about the Porsche 718 GTS

TheMotorist talks about the new 2020 Porsche 718 GTS and provides an Introduction & Specs

If you’ve driven the Porsche 718 in Cayman or Boxter guise, you may understand that the engine is maybe the most significant issue with the car’s ability to create authentic, purist driver engagement. The turbo 2.5 Boxer engine feels somewhat out of place, not in power or even the delivery but the theatrics that the engine should provide in a sports car. The older generation of engines poses serious auditory evocation as it climbs through the rev range and on to redline. A statement even that maybe is better emphasized by the fact that the engine feels like a power plant and not a heart like it should, making the experience less engaged compared to before. 

Porsche 718 GTS Boxster Rear

Purists were properly upset with not only the engine but so to the sacrilegious name 718, lifted from the 1950s and 60’s single-seater racers. The package makes a great deal of sense given the dynamic chassis and ability and the pure rapidness but lacking somewhat in emotive connection, with the more comfortable less on the edge feeling not dulling the car. 

Porsche 718 GTS Cayman Front

Porsche 718 GTS Performance

Seeking redemption Porsche has taken the Cayman GT4 drivetrain and 6-speed manual gearbox to create the 2020 Porsche 718 GTS. Power is rated at 294kW and 420Nm which when translated into acceleration results in a 4.5second 0-100 and a 295km/h top speed.

Dynamically, the Porsche 718 GTS ride height is lower 20mm from the standard 718 and 718 T, with a torque-vectoring limited-slip differential to keep the 265/35 R20 rears in check. Upfront, red brake callipers and vented cross-drilled disks with the optional Porsche Composite Ceramic Brakes available at extra cost.

Porsche 718 GTS Interior

Internally the Porshe 718 GTS benefits from the addition of Alcantara cladding through the cabin, with inserts on the steering wheel, centre console and seats. Carbon trim is accentuated throughout the interior of the Porsche 718 GTS, with the optional interior package with the choice of Chalk or Charmine red seatbelts, seams and embroidering in the headrest with the GTS insignia.  The Sport Chrono package with upgraded Porsche Track Precision App is fitted standard for the track hero. Sports exhaust with the twin tailpipes allow the 4.0litre to roar as it should but, for traffic and pottering around town the Bose Sound System will provide more than enough noise. 

Porsche 718 GTS Pricing in South Africa 

No prices have been announced as yet but expect a premium over the midrange Porsche 718 T and a lower price than the uber focused GT4 model. Find your local dealer here.

We drive the Volkswagen Amarok Canyon V6 – It’s Fast!

Volkswagen Amarok Canyon V6 Driven Review

I’ll be honest, I don’t want to be that Bakkie guy.  As an Englishman in South Africa, words such as “Bru”  and “Voetsek” have already been adopted into my language. I feel like I’m holding onto my culture by the skin of my teeth and owning a bakkie would simply tip me over the edge, another tick on the scorecard.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to own one.  I see all the benefits, the practically &  space along with the offroad ability and pulling power, I also think they look pretty cool and really slot into the “South African” lifestyle pretty smoothly.

VW Amarok V6 Canyon Edition

Sadly, after spending a week with the Volkswagen Amarok V6 Canyon addition, I’m fighting a losing battle. I’ve always been a fan of the Amarok, in my opinion, it’s one if not the best looking bakkie on the road and up until recently I’d never properly sampled the V6 variant.

So what’s the Amarok Canyon edition all about?

The first thing you’ll notice about thE Volkswagen Canyon Amarok V6 is the ‘Honey Orange exterior paint, it’s exclusive to the Canyon. I’m not the biggest fan of this color, but from those I’ve asked, it seems a fan favorite.

Black exterior trims such as the door handle, radiator grille,  widening wheels arches, new design matte black styling bar and matte black side tubes add a nice contrast to the exterior color and improve the look. I’d love to see this spec with a white exterior color…but I don’t think that wish will be granted.

VW Amarok V6 Canyon Edition rear

Finally, the Amarok canyon has massive arches, and I personally don’t think the 17″ Aragua alloy wheels fill said arches enough. In comparison to the vehicle, the alloys look small. The addition of bigger alloys or a meatier offroad tyre would really compliment the overall style.

The Amarok features an interior with technology more likened to one of its passenger vehicles rather than its commercial range, and the honey Orange theme is carried through with hints and splashes of the color in the seats, stitching, seatbelts and steering wheel.

How does the Volkswagen Amarok V6 Canyon Drive?

If you’re worried about lack of on-road performance when buying a bakkie, The Volkswagen Amarok Canyon V6 will cure your sleepless nights.  With a 165kW and 550 N.m available all the time, the Amarok doesn’t hang around. It pulls like a trooper from the get-go, and in-gear acceleration makes the vehicle very pleasant to drive on the open road. On top of this, the 3.0 V6 has an over-boost mode,  which produces a hefty 180 kW and 580 N.m for 1o seconds when you put your foot to the floor. Do this from stand-still and you’ll be a little taken aback – we were!

VW Amarok V6 Canyon Edition Driving

It’s very well known the Amarok is one of the comfiest bakkies around and this is no different with the V6 Canyon version. What’s even more impressive is that the Amarok runs a conventional leaf spring suspension setup, similar to that of many other ” workhorse ” orientated bakkies. The Amarok’s lifestyle competitors such as the Nissan Navara and Mercedes-Benz X-Class use a 5 link suspension system which is known to be much more comfortable and more passenger vehicle orientated. Having said this, the comfort margins between the Amarok and its direct competitors are negligible to say the least.

Coincidently, I needed to move around 30 boxes when I had the Amarok on test and the vehicle didn’t skip a beat under load and the braking was on point. I especially enjoyed the protected rear bin, it’s hardwearing and smooth making it a breeze to slide boxes and other items in and out.

The Volkswagen Amarok Canyon V6 runs with a permanent 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system which seems very capable. My only gripe would be that the gearbox is sometimes a little delayed when putting it into reverse and this causes the vehicle to roll forward slightly, and a letter from my body corporate asking why I ran over the newly planted bushes…

Volkswagen Amarok Canyon V6 Pricing in South Africa

Coming in at R799,000 the Amarok is not cheap, but what modern lifestyle bakkie is? For that price you get a very complete vehicle that can service you from a lifestyle, safety, family & work orientated lifestyle. There’s plenty of power on tap, along with creature comforts and luxuries to keep everyone satisfied. It’s my pick of the bunch and while I can’t imagine why you would need a faster Amarok, the 190kW version heading to our shores soon is really going to take the cake.

The Volkswagen Amarok Canyon V6 comes standard with a 3 year/ 100 000km manufacturer warranty, 5 year/ 90 000km Genuine Automotion Service Plan and a 6-year anti-corrosion warranty.

Comparison Vehicles

Other vehicles you may consider:

We Drive the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Sports Tourer

Our driven review on the Mercedes-Benz B200 AMG LINE Sports Tourer

The B-class has always been somewhat of a strange offering to the market from Merc, with the first generation being a bit of a sandwich box MPV in a world of SUVs and hatchbacks. Understand even is South Africa where badge loyalty still exists, even in tough economic times, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class has always been the underdog to the smaller and more conventional hatch, even in its first iteration. Now with the new models and the new Merc ethos which is filled with MBUX based tech, line ups that are designed to drive home a more holistic vehicle which features that are lifted from more expensive models where does the updated B-Class fit?

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Sports Tourer front

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Sports Tourer shares the same platform as the New A-class but has an increased bulk and feels like a much larger car given the standard A-class hatchback dimensions when contrasted with that of the more MPV-like feel of the B-Class. The Driving position is higher, and Merc claims the driver sits 90mm more elevated than in the A-Class and this is felt, with the all-round visibility improving over the standard car on which it’s based. The Increases to the roofline and doorway entry space makes the B-Class easier to get in and out of in-line with the Minivan appeal. The B-class does outshine the smaller counterpart. 

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Interior

Internally the cabin is very much in line with the New Merc interior architecture with everything lifted directly from the A-Class, and the theme of MBUX connectivity still shines through. The options with respects to the driver information display being slightly altered for this model, and offering the opportunity of 3 screen sizes. A twin 7-inch, a 7- and 10.25-inch display or the Widescreen Twin 10.25 Display fitted to our test car, with the optional heads-up display. The MBUX optional connectivity with the “Hey Mercedes” Voice prompts proved its intuitiveness and works rather well for simple things with more complex tasks requiring a few attempts. Still, it’s all rather marvellous like MBUX is, sadly it’s an option but on well worth the extra change when spec’ing one.

The Aviation inspired vents to carry through and appear to milled singular pieces of aluminium(like) vents. The option for ambience lighting with 64 colours can be optioned and can be somewhat of irritation and so to fairly calming at other points with the lights just making traffic surfing a touch more friendly on one’s mood. The seats fitted to the test car- the optional ‘Energising Seats’ – which additional support and two-tone leather, proved very comfortable and helped soak-up the harshness of the ride. Even with our AMG spec Test car with 19” Inch wheels was impressive even on rougher roads.

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Sports Tourer Rear

The new range consists of B180 and B200 powered by the same 1.33Litre Renault sourced engine, with either 100kW and 200Nm or 120kW and 250Nm respectively. Both engines are mated to a 7-Speed DCT dual-clutch transmission and promise equal fuel consumption at 5.4/100km.

Diesel options are powered by the same 2.1Litre diesel from the Merc range, in two states of tune producing 110kW and 320Nm in the B200D, and a healthy 140kW and 400Nms mated to an 8-Speed DCT gearbox. Having sampled the B200, 1.33Litre petrol we can conclude the drive and overall dynamic is very similar to the A-Class. The engine pulls strong, and it has a bit of turbo-lag when pulling off from stop streets and robots, but once in its stride with the low max torque availability does tend to hide this well enough for most. The Dynamic Select does change up the characteristics of the drive and when in Sport almost, eliminates this issue all-together.

Steering proved too light, but again through the same system can be firmed, to the point where some real confidence in where the wheels are pointed can be had. Being a Minivan its almost pointless to attack the corners with full-on AMG aggression, but the AMG Line and the small ride height drop and larger wheels made the car rather progressive and reduce body roll very well.

The optionally available driver Assist packages with the Active brake assist, Lane Keep with Blind Sport Assist, Emergency Brake Assist systems are at this point understood to be very useful and often needed for South African roads and additional safety but sadly for us still options.  

Mercedes-Benz B200

Mercedes-Benz A-Class VS B-Class?

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Sports Tourer’s appeal is what drives the B-class home for those it appeals to, in my view and most the A-Class counterpart will be a better car to love and live with but given the differences in lifestyle towards it’s geared. For example, fitting a child seat and pram in the boot (which fits with ease) is less easy to do with the A-Class, increased visibility for less of a claustrophobic feel in the rear, a larger boot and just a larger feeling cabin makes the B-Class shine brighter, to those it needs to. It serves better as a small family car, and this may be where it makes the most sense. 

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Sports Tourer Boot

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Sports Tourer Pricing In South Africa

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Sports Tourer Starts pricing at R526 900 before the all-important options list, with the diesel B220D starting at R559 100, making it almost identical to the pricing of the A-Class equivalent in all reality. Still, the slight tweaks make it a better family orientated vehicle. Spec yours here

Datsun GO CVT Driven

It was just November of last year where Datsun uncovered the facelift and CVT automatic introduction of the Datsun Go. An Undertaking moreover due to the Datsun Go being the vehicle of choice for arguments about safety and how many A-Segment competitors are making vehicles like the Go appear dated and struggling to convince more value-driven consumers. Now given a chance to spend a week with the Go CVT the opportunity to spend a week with one would be a chance at redemption would be through the voice of low running costs. A most importantly better road dynamics that made the genesis of the Go so poorly reception in the pool of public opinion but still a fair contender in the market, nevertheless.

The Datsun Go has come a vast way as a platform, highlighted by the improvements that the facelift aimed to showcase in late 2019. The introduction of the VSC traction Control and the strengthening to the body frame aimed to improve driving characteristics, Car Play and Android Auto connectivity and interior improvements that provided decent progress from the front seat bench and “Twist and Pull” handbrake beginnings. The issue here is the sad understanding that even by budget car standards, the Safety element of cars like the Go rather concerningly, still lack any crash safety ratings and the high road fatalities in a country like ours doesn’t fair well for a smash. The Go has been rather popular in the segment despite its barebones approach to motoring. The spec improvements have brought the vehicle up to date with respects to competitor offerings.

The Cabin is now a better place overall and additions like better-shaped seats, more hard plastics to make the NVH exposure far better overbearing and acceptable build quality overall. The Lack of multi-function steering wheel at this price point makes little sense, and I found myself wishing for audio controls given the Carplay and Andriod Auto user-interface. The USB through with the system is accessed it rather well hidden under the centre console, and provides for endless hours of entertainment with respects to playing “find the port”. Itself is slow to responses and prompts but well enough. The seats are a bit hard, and this is especially the case in the rear, where the cramped legroom is an additional feature to the experience.

What’s the Datsun Go like to drive?

The simple understanding that the A-Segment has always had Automatic variations and this not being a new concept is not the view one should view the GO with but moreover the choice for the CVT and dealing and living with the gearbox. The steering is very light, which makes the tiny dimensions a blast in tight spaces and when parking but sheer pain at all other moments but a liveable offence. The tagline that sells the CVT, “like and Auto but smoother” is genuine and a big part into the effortless shifting experience that the car possesses. Sadly, this doesn’t remove from very evident lack of progress, even when under full throttle and the loud and irritating drone of 5000Rpm+ when trying to do simple tasks like getting up to speed or overtaking. This lack of progress means the relationship with the pedal and how hard you press it is not an accurate depiction of what acceleration is possible even when unladen. The 57kw and 104Nm of torque struggles, when paired with the gearbox as very little rapid progress can be made, gaps in traffic are matched with noisy 3-cylinder attempts and constant failures. Ride quality is nothing to fuss over with the general ability to deal with bumps and rough surfaces ok enough for most. The most considerable enhancement is the greater stability at speed. Where previously would be significantly blown about by wind and the very body-roll inherent nature but a vast improvement over the Go’s of the past, with enough confidence to inspire throwing it into low-speed corners and hanging on as the bodyweight rolls and shifts about.

The summary to the Datsun Go Story must end with the appeal behind a budget car and how it fits into a budget. The Entry point for purchase is rather high at R188 300 for the CVT LUX. This may be the most pressing issue with the Go given the A-segment penny-pinching intent. The higher cost of ownership due to the high 7.5Litre/100 Fuel consumption best achieved, far off the 5.5L claimed. This number was profoundly affected by driving style, and at points, outright thirsty, due to the ramblings of all 57Kw’s trying to break free from the CVT oppression.

Pricing in South Africa

The Datsun Go LUX CVT prices from R188 300 which makes it a high entry point to the A-segment and with better offerings from other manufactures the allure of a brand new car may not be that great with the Datsun and your money should ‘Go’ somewhere else sadly.