Month: Dec 2021

Is the updated Renault Koleos the right family pairing for the holiday season

Renault has increased their SUV portfolio extensively in the past few years, this experience has put them in good stead with the highly contentious segment. While offerings scattering the price range such as the Kiger, Captur and Duster compete well in their segments, Renault were in need of their own entry into the premium SUV C market. This is where their Koleos fits into the equation. After being on sale in our market for only 2 years with mediocre sales, minor updates to the vehicle have been implemented in the hopes of compelling consumers for what can be described as a handsome, spacious and comfortable option. 

While the Koleos nameplate has been around for 15 years, the second generation was first presented to the world in 2016 as a collaboration between Renault and Nissan. Using the Common Module Family (CMF)-CD platform as a basis, much of its underpinnings are shared with the Nissan X-Trail which includes its 2.5l naturally aspirated 4 cylinder motor, revelry to consumers terrified by the thought of French made mechanical machinery. 

Since its debut, this is the solitary engine our market has received which is mated to a CVT and now powers only the front wheels as opposed to a four wheel drive option from before. While figures are stated at 126kW of power and 233 Nm of torque, the powertrain selection feels sluggish and lethargic at highveld altitude. 

Combined fuel economy isn’t particularly stellar either when compared to its turbocharged competitors, with claimed figures of 8.1l/100 km while our real world test which was dominated by urban routes yielded 9.2l/100km. Expect a much lower number when travelling on the open road to far away destinations as the motor comes into its own after getting up to cruising speed with the X-Tronic CVT optimising efficiency.

While the upward trend for smaller displacements coupled with forced induction dominate the more premium SUV market, what the seasoned naturally aspirated motor in the Koleos provides is robust reliability and less moving parts packaged in a quiet and relaxing driving experience. This is a strong selling point in a vehicle that should on paper be cost effective to maintain into future ownership.

While the Koleos is there or thereabouts in terms of performance when compared to chief rivals like the Volkswagen Tiguan or Toyota Rav4, where this particular drivetrain excels is cruising on the open road which is done quietly and comfortably. In fact, the entire on road experience presents any occupants with a plush and pleasant journey which is compliments of the commodious interior and smooth CVT. 

When it comes to handling and ride quality, the Koleos enters a league of its own. The steering in particular is one of the standout experiences. Feedback to the driver is an applaudable balance in directness and weight; it is not too heavy to navigate in tighter spaces at slow speed but also not too light in higher speed scenarios. 

The suspension confidently soaks up anything you throw at it too. On any road surface we presented to the sizable SUV the imperfections and dirt paths were effortlessly rebuffed by the chunky tyres and supple suspension setup at moderate speed. While it is only front wheel drive, the 210mm of ground clearance and approach and departure angles of 19˚ and 26˚ degrees respectively makes the Koleos highly capable of traversing through some minor undulating terrain or mounting urban pavements without damaging the skid plates and rugged black trim which lines the base extremities of the lengthy car. 

On the topic of length, the Koleos holds the title for the longest wheelbase in class measuring in at 2704mm. Its overall length of 4672mm also creates a generously spaced interior allowing for ample head, arm and legroom of which passengers in the second row can easily equate to the experience of a first class airline seat. 

Unlike the X-Trail derivative on which it is based, it does not have a third row of seats but its voluminous boot area is rated at 464l and can grow to an impressive 1700l with the rear seats folded down. This can be done conventionally with seat-top mounted levers or with the assistance of boot mounted levers. The electronic Powerlift tailgate when fully raised does hang too low and requires physical maneuver for the height gifted to prevent any unpleasant encounters.

When it comes to exterior updates, not much has changed other than slightly re-designed bumpers and skid plates, revised head and taillights and two tone 18” alloy wheels for the top spec model. Most of the significant improvements have been implemented into the interior and operational features.

In terms of interior technology, the Koleos is available in two trim levels – Expression and the top of the range Dynamique which we had on test. Of the two, the Dynamique is well equipped with all the niceties a family would desire for the duration of a holiday. The comfortable front row of seats are equipped with six-way power adjustment and lumbar adjustability while an easy to reach vertical 8.7” touch screen utilizes R-LINK 2 Sat Nav and Multimedia system which is also operable through a voice recognition system activated from the steering wheel.

While the user interface of the system is an improvement from before, it still doesn’t feel as modern and smooth in operation as some of its competitors. The entire infotainment display as a whole also alludes to an aging design. Smartphone replication to familiar UI’s is available through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto via cable which can be done through either USB port which is now located under the center console.

Other niceties which are standard on the Dynamique trim include dual-zone climate control, smart-keyless entry, park distance control and a reverse camera which provides good resolution for navigating the lengthy SUV in small spaces. Occupant safety and driver aids are another impressive selling point of the Koleos, the 6 airbags enable an impressive 5-star EuroNCAP crash rating while the driver has ABS/EBD, blind-spot warning, stability control and a tyre pressure monitoring system to help keep things in check. 

While the Renault Koleos may have had a hard time lamenting a formidable competition to its chief rivals before the updated model arrived, the well-specced and inexpensive pricing of the brand new Haval H6 will make it even more difficult in the future.

The Expression 2.5 CVT 4×2 model has a retail price of R484 900 while our test model, the Dynamique 2.5 CVT 4×2 will come in at R534 900. Optional metallic paint will cost a meagre R2 522 but keep an eye out for specials Renault dealerships may be running which may present a discounted price. While the Haval may have the price advantage, the additional km in the Renault 5-year/150 000km mechanical warranty and 5-year/90 000km service plan may compel reliability conscious buyers in favor of the Koleos.

So where does that leave the flagship French option? Sadly, the changes implemented to the Koleos are mostly superficial in what remains an aging option in the segment which has revolutionized at an alarming rate. It will continue to sell, albeit in smaller numbers than before as it still provides a comfortable and enjoyable experience to those that give it a chance. The expected reliability and ease of maintenance of the Koleos make it a car that has the ability to remain with those who choose it in the years to come. For consumers looking for a mid-sized family hauler that is great for open road journeys and comfortable enough for tatty urban roads, the smooth and relaxing personality of the Koleos is worth giving a chance.

The NEW Polo GTI is coming and we have pricing!

Did you know that South Africa is the second largest market in the world for sales of the Polo GTI? Although we trail Germany in sales, if that doesn’t prove that we are die-hard GTI fans then i’m not sure what will! 
With that in mind, we are here to announce that pricing has been confirmed for the upcoming GTI, whilst also revealing what the rest of the Polo range will set you back


Arriving in dealers in January 2022, the range will comprise of 3 models:A 70kW 1.0TSI manual variant, which will retail for R311 800.Next up is the Life model which has all the same attributes as the above model, but with an increase of price by almost R40 000, retailing at R350 000.Lastly, and the one you’ve been waiting for, the GTI has a retail sticker of R489 900. 
In comparison to the outgoing model, the base Polo now comes standard with LED headlights and taillights, a new multi-function steering wheel and a digital dashboard display. App-Connect is now a standard feature in the new Polo, as well. 
Over and above the standard Polo, the Life model now comes with four additional standard features, which includes a digital dashboard display, Park Distance Control (front and rear), electric folding mirrors, and lumbar support for the driver and front passenger. 

The range topping GTI now includes the premium IQ.Light LED matrix headlights. Other standard features include Dynamic Chassis Control, dynamic front cornering lights, and the two-zone climatronic system. Autonomous emergency braking with is another welcomed standard feature in the new Polo GTI. 


But the news doesn’t end there! During Q2 of 2022, VWSA is planning to launch an all-new SUV called the Taigo. The newcomer is intended to slot in between the T-Cross and T-Roc. The Taigo was originally intended for Latin American markets but VW saw the potential in offering it to the other markets in the world. 
Based on the Polo platform, the Taigo will be powered by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol, which produces 85kW and 200Nm. It will be paired exclusively with a seven-speed DSG dual clutch automated gearbox. Further details, such as local spec and pricing, will be announced closer to the launch date. 

Defining ludicrous in the BMW M4 Competition

The polarizing BMW G80 M3 and G82 M4 have been in the market for quite some time now. Originally stirring up the automotive world at their initial unveiling with what BMW considers a bold choice in design, their imposing aesthetics have become subordinate to an overwhelmingly positive reception for their ability on the road. We spent a few days with the impressively quick M4 Competition model so we could understand just how ludicrous the new range really is. 

Since the exterior of the car seems to have been covered in more depth this year than the entire Covid pandemic was reported on last year, I thought it would be a good idea to first dabble on the overall driving experience. I spent two fleeting days with the M4 before being whisked away to Cape Town.

The entire flight to the Mother City consisted of reliving experiences behind the wheel, either bringing the S58 motor alive or simply trundling along in an attempt to keep the fuel consumption at a reasonable number. In both scenarios, onlookers simply can’t get enough and encouragingly spur the pig-nosed beast along. It remains a staple of Mzansi car culture despite its looks.

The most ludicrous portion of the driving experience is how easily it can pick up speed, which means any innocent jaunts on the highway or open road can very quickly turn into a run-in with law enforcement.

It may not be the segments most confident off the line with a 3.9 second sprint time but the strong 3.0-litre, twin turbocharged straight six very easily and effortlessly pushes the speedometer over and beyond the designated speed limit on any stretch of road you happen to traverse.

Power and torque is rated similarly amongst its chief rivals, an identical 375kW to the Mercedes Benz C63s while the Bavarian is equipped with 650Nm of torque, 50 more than the RS5 but also 50 less than the V8 powered Mercedes. Despite all of the power from the traditionally sonorous motor, I can only help but feel that it should sound better for the performance it produces. 

Where the new M4 Competition feels vastly superior is with its free-revving motor which has lightweight motorsport inspired components installed. The turbochargers provide peak torque from as low as 2650rpm while maximum power arrives at 6250rpm, ultimately rendering the experience identical to that of a naturally aspirated motor. This encourages the use of the full rev range and makes driving predictable and surprisingly easy to do considering the power on tap underneath the right foot. 

Helping the S58 motor shift into warp speed and into the clutches of the periled speeding cameras is done with the help of an automatic 8-speed ZF gearbox. This choice is the only disappointment in this unrivalled driving experience so far.

Not only is it a step backwards from the violent, but engaging dual-clutch transmissions (DCT) from the generation before but also a far more numb and docile experience of what drivers expect. BMW have incorporated a drive logic selector button on the shifting knob which adjusts the level of aggression accordingly but even the harshest setting provides no match for the bygone DCTs.

The one advantage this provides however, is the ability to use this car comfortably on a daily basis. In fact, the time spent shifting in slow moving traffic or mindlessly accelerating and decelerating from robot to robot on urban commutes is where the smooth transmission selection shines brightest.

The same can be said for the suspension, the three available driving modes dial it into the desired setting but in its most plush, it is unfazed by mild road imperfections. 

The good character balance continues when more exciting settings are selected. More lively steering, throttle input and suspension presents a car that is impressively capable of handling the twisties as much as it is for straight stretches of tarred surface. The firm suspension mitigates body roll around corners while the lightweight and lively rear-end characteristically tend to swing around, requiring a touch of counter steer to keep things in check. Its many capable personalities make it a highly usable performance car that is inherently fun to drive, even on a day-to-day basis.

As enjoyable as its on road experience is, this wouldn’t be an article about the new M3 and M4 if there wasn’t an insert about the exterior aesthetics. While the worst of the memes and jokes are behind us, the ludicrous statement that BMW intended to make was achieved. It doesn’t look like anything else on the road and has potentially forged a future design direction that the Bavarian brand is yet to perfect. 

That being said, the black on Sapphire Black Metallic finish seemed to conceal many of the niggles with the design choices. The imposing, air inhaling front kidney grilles are more concealed while the over-emphasised masculine linework stretching from the grille onto the bonnet is slightly more subtle. BMW purists who embrace tradition would also despair to know that the iconic Hoffmeister kink which is prevalent on the side glass on the C pillar of all that have come before this M4 has been inverted and looks generic rather than traditional.

In the time since its launch, many have become unperturbed with the imposing grilles. While this will always remain a subjective topic, a car that costs as much as R2 million should have you falling in love from the very first time and every subsequent occasion thereafter. Speaking of the price tag and remaining with the ludicrous theme, an entry level M4 Competition will come in at R1 957 388. It’s hard to believe that the once affordable performance vehicle, which stemmed from the humble roots of the original M3 E30 is now a smidge under R2 million without options. 

Keep in mind that add ons can push the number as high as R2.5 million, which is more or less where our press unit was priced at. With the M Carbon Exterior Package valued at R100 800 and the M carbon bucket seats coming in at R82 500, it is easy to understand why. Just like the styling on the exterior, the interior has been turned up to 11 and is a continuation of the ludicrous design theme.

Wild colour combinations, sunk-in seats and carbon fiber dominate the cabin but it simply doesn’t feel as plush and luxurious as something that is R2.5 million should. This is a number that quickly encroaches on the likes of a well specced BMW M5 Competition which for that price feels like better value for money.

That being said though, the experience in the cabin is completely immersive, especially in those carbon bucket seats which are tightly slung to the floor. The firm seat bolsters keep the front occupants secure albeit with limited comfort while anyone with the misfortune of sitting in the second row of seats will develop scoliosis during any journey from bending their neck to fit into the low slung C pillar.

There are other questionable choices with the M4 Competition that make me feel like it is neither here nor there. Obsessive amounts of lightweight carbon fiber have been used throughout the construction of the car while counter intuitive add-ons defeat its intended function.

For example; the racing inspired carbon bucket seats which allude to pure, lightweight racing interiors make use of heavy electric motors for adjustment. The same can be said with the electric tailgate while carbon fiber features in the form of a spoiler and rear diffuser are perched above and below it. 

The nonsensical thinking does not end at the comfort orientated features while we are on the topic of the rear diffuser. The intricately shaped, bumper mounted carbon fiber rear diffuser doesn’t really serve a functional purpose since a peak beneath the rear end will expose all the mechanical components and a bare underside which is incapable of producing aerodynamic advantage.

As good as this car may be, you can only begin to feel that it could be much better if it wasn’t trying to appease buyers who wanted comfort as well as buyers who wanted an experience.

While this is a car that can be used daily, real world fuel economy may inhibit this. Particularly with the price of petrol surpassing the R20 mark. I mentioned earlier in the article that sedate driving can keep the efficiency of the motor at a reasonable number but that is all relative. A claimed combined driving cycle can yield 8.8l/100km but any momentary spurts of excitement will position the optimistic claimed number out of reach. Even though automotive journalists commute more enthusiastically than most, our experience yielded double the claimed economy. Besides, if you wanted to drive sedately you would have made a sensible decision and bought a compact SUV.

This is still in essence as much a performance car as all of its predecessors were but it has priced itself further out of the range of a younger person who would purchase it purely for the experience. With the development of the M4 Competition, BMW has gone all out and chased numbers which are only truly attainable on track from its competition. With the aesthetics aside, there really isn’t much wrong with the car until you start going through the pricing. I think better value for money can be had elsewhere with enough leftover to buy a fun-to-drive hot hatch. Speaking exclusively coupes, I would rather spend my money on an Audi RS5 which may not have the all out performance of the M4, but can still provide as much fun for the majority of the driving you will do in it. The leftover cash as a bonus can complete the two car garage with the engaging BMW 128ti as a daily driver.