Category: Car reviews

Maybach S600, a new level of luxury.

First Class at zero thousand feet.

The Mercedes S class has arguably been the crème de la crème of luxury vehicles for some time now. This car is Mercedes’ answer to the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 and Jaguar XJ. These vehicles are built to be driven long distances in the utmost of comfort.  You might also remember Maybach, a company purchased by Mercedes-Benz back in 1960. They released cars such as the Maybach 57 and 62, ultra luxury vehicles with an ultra-luxury price. To cut a long story short, they hardly sold any cars and produced their last vehicle in December 2012.

Mercedes are now reviving the brand as an ultra-luxury sub-brand of the S class, the same way the Mercedes AMG brand fits in. Mercedes have really pushed the boat out with this one; luxury is of critical importance with Nappa leathers covering almost every conceivable surface inside the vehicle. This is complimented by technology such as the “Cabin fragrance system”, an option which sends a scent into the vehicle at pre-set times. The scent is emitted in a way so as not to hang in the air or stick on clothes.

Along with this is other technologies such as the Ambient Lighting System with over 300 LED’s, silver champagne flutes, hot and cold cup holders, folding tables and of course, power executive rear seats which recline to a 45-degree angle. Rear entertainment systems are also included, you get the idea, everything is pretty top notch.

Powering this first class cabin is a bi-turbo 6-litre V12 engine, kicking out over 500 horses which will get you to 100 km/h in 5 seconds. Keeping everything smooth on your journey is the “Magic Body Control System” which uses the multi-purpose camera of Intelligent Drive to scan the road ahead for variations and bumps in the road. The system then informs the suspension components before the wheels reach them.

I could write all day about the innovations and exciting features on this car, in doing so I would probably crash the site. The S600 Maybach is an S-Class on steroids, luxury steroids that is. It’s hard to improve on what already is a fantastic car, but by giving that extra bit of refinement and quality, it makes a big difference.

Forever young: 40 years of the BMW 3-Series.

Driving the face-lifted BMW 3-Series.

Turning forty is big deal for many, it’s an interesting year because generally at forty years of age, many look back to see if they have done all that they strived to do in their lives. This is the case with BMW’s 3-Series. To begin with, one has to give credit where credit is due. The BMW 3-Series has for a very long time being the favourite of many South Africans in terms of the compact luxury sedan segment. This has been the case locally and to a large extent around the world. Now that forty years have passed, BMW have revitalised the range through a face-lifted version of the car. This update does not only affect the outward appearance of the new BMW 3-Series but the engines have gone under the knife too, and the results are very good.

In our previous article about the new BMW 3-Series, we discussed all the changes, you can read that article here. Now we want to discuss how those changes translate to the driving experience and if the update is something worth riding home about. First of all, let’s discuss aesthetics.

How does it look?

The face-lifted BMW 3-Series dons bright LED taillights and optional full LED head lights that sharpen the lines of the car very well. The new lights have the same impact that a bold frame has on an artwork, it makes the subject stand out and forces you to look. The revised bumpers add to the aesthetic appeal of the car too, giving the car a “fresh face” so to speak. Interior changes on the car are more subtle, with small trim changes added, but the cabin still retains its premium look and feel. Since the main focus on the updated BMW 3-Series was not the outside but rather under the bonnet, the biggest question we should ask ourselves is how the new car feels behind the wheel.

How does it drive?

The engines have all been reworked in this model, more power, more torque and different badges. As we mentioned in the previous article, the 316i, 328i and 335i are now models of the past. Welcome the 318i, 330i and 340i to the stable as their replacements with the 320i still remaining. On the diesel side, the 330d and the 320d badges remain too. We had the pleasure of sampling the top of the range 340i and the more humble 320i model, both of which were interesting cars to drive.

The 340i was fitted with the Sports Package, with all the extras you can think of. The best way to explain the power-train of the 340i fitted with the 8 Speed ZF Automatic (which is standard), is by likening it to double thick cream. You know the kind you get on desserts at very fancy places? The engine is a pleasure to drive on the road, it has a distinct smoothness to it coupled with boat loads of torque seamlessly distributed by the 8 gears onto the road.

What about the 320i?

The 320i on the other hand has a completely different feel to it. Since it’s the smaller 4 cylinder 2.0 litre turbocharged engine, it has a more youthful persona to it. You can grab it by the scruff of its neck and enjoy every bit of power it gives to you, whereas the 340i commands much more respect especially on the public roads we drove the cars on. Dynamically the 340i and 320i are very planted on the road, even at high speed. The setting you have the car in contributes greatly to the responsiveness, damping and steering feel of the car.

The Comfort setting is the one for everyday use, whereas Sport and Sport Plus are for those more rushed days and of course Eco mode is dedicated to making the car as efficient as possible. A very impressive point found in the revised version is how the damping on the car is never back-breaking, even in the “harshest” Sport mode. The steering feel of most modern cars is a topic that has led to many debates in the motoring world. Electric power steering has come a long way since it was first introduced to many cars a few years ago.

In the case of the BMW 3-Series, the weight of the steering in the car changes depending on the mode you’re in. More weight is added as well as more steering feel in the sportier modes, whereas the converse happens in the Eco and Comfort modes. Very enthusiastic drivers may long for the “good old days” of hydraulic steering, since that steering system provided more feedback to the driver. The same goes with manual gearboxes giving one the sense of being “one with the car”, but the reality is that future is here and the future likes automatics and electric power steering. That being said, what we have today still provides excitement on the road and comfort that we could have never experienced in the past.

The BMW 3-Series has matured with those that fell in love with it 40 years ago. The boy-racer mentality has been left behind for its less mature siblings, such as the 1 and 2 Series. This is a good thing considering that a new 3-Series will not cost you chump change, with a starting price R409 000 for the baby 318i and R656 000 for the 340i, any 3-Series client will expect a large measure of luxury and comfort. This is exactly what BMW gives those looking to buy in this segment. The majority of BMW 3-Series buyers are not going to drive these cars to their absolute limit on the road and BMW knows that. That is why the car’s set-up, that of being more comfort orientated makes perfect sense for the range considering the clientèle that will buy it.

A good 40 years indeed.

If the BMW 3-Series was a human being, it would surely have a smile on its face. It has accomplished a lot in forty years, selling over 14 million units since its humble days before features such as ConnectedDrive and Reverse camera were even thought of. The car has had good old days but it has better new days ahead of it too. The BMW 3-Series is the reason why we have such good cars from other brands in that segment, it has pioneered the way for many cars and even though the playing fields have levelled out in many ways, the badge is still part of the cream of the crop.

A unique little hatch: The Mazda 2 1.5 DE

The Mazda 2 1.5 DE is a surprising little car.

The Mazda brand is one that has won the hearts of many South Africans over they years. Decades ago, when currently middle aged people were younger, they raved over cars like the 323 and the 626. As a young person now, the brand to me has always been somewhat under the radar from a youth perspective. This is strange as their offering is quite good. Being that as it is, if I think small hatchback of course the first car that comes to mind is a Volkswagen Polo. That is why I was pleasantly surprised when I got behind the wheel of the Mazda 2 1.5 DE, a car with quite an interesting character.

What’s it up against?

First off I found it quite difficult to compare this car to anything in its segment, because there aren’t many small diesel hatchbacks that offer an automatic gearbox. If you don’t believe me, look at Volkswagen, Opel, Renault, Peugeot and Ford’s offerings. Between all of them, the choice of a diesel engine has been replaced by tiny three cylinder petrol engines with turbochargers. Volkswagen and Peugeot do offer diesels in their Polo and 208, but with manual gearboxes not automatics. So this revelation has made the Mazda 2 1.5 DE a unique car to drive and experience.

Does an automatic gearbox make it better than its competitors?

The automatic gearbox is a joy to have in the city. I felt this as I was stuck in traffic in Johannesburg CBD. Usually I would have wanted to scream bloody murder but because I had less work to do, I enjoyed my music. Speaking of music, this particular test unit had the MZD Connect system in it, which is a delight to have in terms of quality and features. Bluetooth and USB are included but the way the system works is what makes it a winner. Even the ergonomics of the system are very well designed, allowing you to navigate through options with minimal distraction.

Whilst on the topic of what’s inside the Mazda 2, I must mention how well built the cabin is too. Leather seats were fitted in this test unit and the seats are comfortable due to good bolstering. The only thing I would do without is the red striping on the seats, since the car I drove was metallic purple. If you buy a Mazda 2 with an exterior colour that would match the red striping, it could work. Space is adequate in the car, but the back seats can feel cramped depending on how tall your friends are.

How does the car drive?

The 1.5 litre turbo diesel engine fitted in the Mazda 2 produces 77 kW and 250 Nm. That torque is definitely what makes the driving experience of the car. The gearbox also works well with the engine, keeping you in the torque band with each shift. The only frustrating thing is that the car does suffer from turbo lag at times, leaving you waiting for the boost to kick in. As annoying as it can be, it doesn’t happen enough for it to ruin the driving experience. When in a rush, I found it best to keep the gearbox in manual mode and control the up shifts and down shifts myself. Overall, the feeling of a boosted diesel engine in a car that weighs very little is always a fun encounter, something I enjoyed about the Mazda 2 1.5 DE.

Is it value for money?

The Mazda 2 1.5 DE is the higher specification version of the Mazda 2 range. As a result, you will look at R259 000 for the car. For that price you do get a lot of car I must be honest. The Mazda’s competitors are similarly priced excluding the automatic gearbox, so one can say that Mazda has priced the vehicle fairly. Is it the car to choose against its competitors? That is totally up to you, all I can tell you is that the Mazda 2 1.5 DE is a good choice in its segment. The fact that in the diesel derivative, you will be looking at an average claimed fuel consumption of 4.4 l/100 km’s, definitely makes it a car to consider. If a diesel hatchback is what you desire and it must have an automatic gearbox, I guess you have no choice but to choose the Mazda 2 1.5 DE do you?

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Do you love cars or do you want to get to work?: The new Suzuki Ciaz.

Feature Friday: Suzuki’s answer to those looking for an affordable Sedan, the Ciaz.

Keep-It-Simple-Stupid. This is a phrase that has been told to many and said by many, for good reason too. When things get complicated especially in cars, it detracts from the purpose of a car being a car. There’s nothing worse than a car that drives terribly but tries to distract you with gimmicks to hide the fact that it’s a rubbish car. Good thing nowadays there aren’t many new cars that are very terrible. Then again you do get some cars that make you wonder why the manufacturer put more emphasis on the sound system than the gearbox.

The Suzuki Ciaz 1.4 GL is a car that uses the K.I.S.S. philosophy. It doesn’t try wow you in any way, but it’s very effective in its purpose, that of being a good quality sedan. You get two types of people in the car buying world, those who love cars and those who want to get to work. The majority of people want to get to work but that doesn’t mean that they don’t require some creature comforts such as Bluetooth, a solid ride and good build quality. For those looking at those qualities in a car whilst needing some space at the same time, the Ciaz will tick all the boxes. The biggest box the Suzuki Ciaz will tick, is the price box. With a starting price of R180 000 you can’t disagree that this car is probably one of the best priced cars in its segment.

This makes me think of Pick n Pay’s no-name brand items. To be honest, If you gave me a glass of no-name brand milk versus a glass of Clover Milk, I wouldn’t be able to tell you the difference. At the same time if you placed both products in front of me and asked me which one I thought was better, I would probably say the Clover milk. Why? Because since I was little boy, each time I opened the fridge the only milk I would see is Clover milk, so automatically I think it’s the best. That’s the biggest problem in South Africa, we’re too used to brand names so in terms of sedans, we think something other than the “Big Three” isn’t any good. The reality is that there are good cars out there that are spacious and comfortable at half the price.

Obviously the brands that are regarded as the sedan staples in South Africa offer more in terms of performance, comfort and prestige. Those cars are in a different league, they are premium brands but the attributes they have don’t come for free. That is why you will pay double for those cars. The “big three” can be regarded as organic milk, yes it has more nutrients, but normal milk won’t stop you from eating your Corn-Flakes. Many health fanatics only drink organic milk, which is okay if you can afford it, but some may not be willing to pay R40 for 2 litres of milk, or it may be out of their budget to do so.

The same goes with cars, what about those individuals who aren’t in the market for a premium sedan? Those who simply want reliability and spaciousness at a good price? For those who want to simply eat their Corn-Flakes, they have great choices such as the Volkswagen Polo Sedan, Honda Ballade and Chevrolet Cruze. These cars offer just that and they compete directly with the Suzuki Ciaz in terms of price and specification. The Ciaz definitely holds its own against these cars. the fact is that the Suzuki Ciaz 1.4 GL or GLX will not implode if you drive it quickly, it responds well for a car larger car with a 1.4 litre engine. The car will also not refuse to turn a corner properly. The safety belts will not fall off in an accident and the large boot will not reject your groceries, in fact many things will be welcomed in the boot. This car is the direct answer to an affordable sedan.

If you’re looking in this segment of car, you need to decide what kind of client you are. Do you love cars or do you want to get to work? For some it may have always been a dream to drive one of the “big three”. If you part of that group and want the status that comes with driving a brand name, buy the brand and pay the premium. If you’re a more simple person and you want a car that operates in a different segment but is still spacious, comfortable and gets you from A to B, the Suzuki Ciaz should be one of your top picks. The choice is yours.

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Baby firecracker – Audi A1 1.8 TFSI S-Line

Feature Friday: We drive the Audi A1 1.8 TFSI S-Line

It’s funny what perception does to the human brain and driving the Audi A1 1.8 TFSI made me realise that. This car is essentially a Volkswagen Polo GTI with a different body on it. Same engine producing 141KW and 250Nm, same 7-speed DSG gearbox and even the same noise that comes out of the exhaust pipes. That being said, since the packaging is different, the A1 commands a different level of respect. Why? The Audi is a premium brand, that’s why.

Does premium really matter?

A premium brand automatically carry’s more street credibility, especially amongst the target market that these small hot hatches appeal to. One can liken it to fashion. An Edgars suit can be made from the exact same fabric that a Woolworths suit is made from, but because Woolworths is Woolworths, one would generally gravitate toward that brand. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the suit from Edgars but when someone says “nice suit, where did you get it from?” it rolls off the tongue nicer to say “Country Road from Woolworths” doesn’t it?

All these analogies may seem quite trivial but as previously mentioned, for the clients buying these cars, it matters. That is why in the world of branding, packaging counts and the S-Line package is a very nice package indeed. Just looking at the car gives you the impression that it means business, the rear spoiler, the beefy bumpers and that red centre piece on the bottom of the front bumper make this little A1 look like a baby RS Audi. The silhouette of the Sportback A1 is longer due to two the added rear doors, that further enhances the look of the car making it more imposing in stature.

Is it practical?

The added two doors aren’t just for looks though, they add greatly to the practicality of the car. As cool as you look driving in the A1 S-Line, coming out of the rear when it’s a two door is never charming. The space in the rear is also much better in Sportback guise, making it definitely the one to go for. Although the car is geared for performance, comfort is not compromised. Even at speed the car sits firmly on the road giving you a feeling confidence behind the wheel but without braking your back, something it’s rival the Mini Cooper S is guilty of unfortunately. Technology wise like all other Audi’s, the sound system is superb, packing enough of a punch to annoy your neighbours as you drive in to your home if you live in a complex or an estate. Bluetooth and USB are available and the pop up infotainment screen can be closed into the dashboard for a flush look to the cabin.

Does it go fast?

As previously mentioned the car looks ready to fight, but does it deliver on its looks though? In short, yes. The long of it is this – the A1 1.8 TFSI gives you three options in terms of vehicle characteristic settings. You have a choice of an Eco, Comfort and Dynamic mode. After spending a few days with the vehicle I learned how to get the most out of it. The Dynamic setting was the best but the gearbox was better in Manual mode with me up-shifting and down-shifting myself as opposed to Sport mode which decides for you which gear is best. The only flaw I can fault Audi on with this car is the fact that you don’t have paddles at the back of the steering wheel to change gears as you would have had in it’s sibling the Polo GTI. The fact is that as much as this car shares many similarities with the Polo GTI, the Polo is not its direct rival. The BMW 118i Sport and the aforementioned Mini Cooper S are, as they play in the more premium segment too.

It’s only when you make that realisation do you see why the A1 is priced at R390 000. the options in the one I drove retailed the car at R440 000 due to navigation, S-Line kit and Sunroof and Bi-Xenon headlamps as added options. The A1’s rivals depending on specification are priced very similarly too, so if you’re looking to purchase a small hot hatch be prepared to pay.

It is worth it?

That is a tough question, as there are many factors to look at. I feel that it depends on the client, most people I know who drive cars like the new Mini Cooper S are clients who drive bigger cars but seek a small fast run around. So for a client like that an extra R50 000 isn’t a big deal. The truth is, if you’re looking for value for money there are other options in the R400 000 price bracket that could convince you to either buy the A1 or not. That being said, the A1 1.8 TFSI makes for a very good little fast car, it’s a great all rounder and an exciting little car to pilot everyday. If you do buy one and are annoyed that you paid a lot for it, all you have to do is look at it and you may feel better. Happy Feature Friday Motorists.

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Mercedes’ answer to BMW’s X6: the run down on the new GLE.

Thought Thursday: Mercedes Benz’s attempt at an SUV Coupé, the new GLE.

This car is Mercedes Benz’s attempt at blending an SUV with a coupé by taking different elements from both, the presence of a SUV but the sleekness and elegance of a coupé. Let’s be honest, Mercedes here had a look at the BMW X6 and thought “ hmm we can do something like that, maybe even better”.

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Have they done any better?

For me, this car looks a lot more attractive than the BMW X6,but that’s just my opinion. Nevertheless these two vehicles look remarkably similar in terms of body shape, have a look at the images and try tell yourself that they’re not similar, you can’t. Another point it shares with the BMW X6 is that you will either hate it or love it, this segment has no grey area. On paper I didn’t like it, but after seeing it in the flesh, I joined the latter camp.

What does the Mercedes Benz GLE offer to the market?

This beautiful German machine comes with a few power units to choose from. Firstly we have the fairly moderate V6 Diesel pushing out 190kW, the 350D is also the only diesel engine available. Mercedes offers more options in the petrol power plant department, well one more option to be precise. We have the 450 AMG 4MATIC COUPE, which is a 3 litre V6 petrol producing 270kW and 520Nm. This engine is Mercedes’ new introduction to the AMG Sports line, it is positioned in between the AMG line and the AMG Performance line. Mercedes says this engine allows clients to enter the world of AMG Driving Performance. Which is fair enough because this is a very nice engine which offers some good poke too. If you want more than 520Nm though, perhaps 900Nm is the number that tickles your fancy and 430kW is more appealing. Then your best bet is to opt for the classic “63” engine, which is now a 5.5-litre V8 twin turbo.

All that power, is it even manageable?

To keep all this power on the road, four wheel drive is standard and you can have things like Active Curve System with Active Roll stabilization or Agility Control Suspension with Amplitude Selective Damping System, (I know right). Basically what this all means is that the GLE has shiny new suspension parts that will enable you to go really fast around some bends, if you so please to do so. So now we know what engines are producing all that power, we also know what’s going keeps the tires on the road too. What about the bit in-between the engine and the wheels, yes the gearbox. Well as always with Mercedes Benz, there are options. We have the 7 speed AMG Speedshift which will be featured as standard in the GLE 63 AMG, or if you fancy more gears you can opt for the 9 speed automatic transmission otherwise known as the 9G-TRONIC (sounds like something from transformers). Nine gears really? I suppose in a world aiming at being green, more gears are the way to go. After all you don’t have to change them yourself, well you can but it’s not the same.

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So what is the verdict?

In all honesty this vehicle looks absolutely stunning. I love the bulky and aggressive front and the low rear end. It’s different and different is sometimes good. Mercedes Benz are really pushing the limits with their new cars I must say, I’m a fan. I’ve heard many people say they’re old mans cars but I have to disagree, with the new range of Mercs and with this vehicle in particular, they’ve fused classic Mercedes Benz luxury but with a young and sporty attitude. I’m sure this car will be popular with young sports stars around the world for sure, as they like big shiny things. The starting price for the V6 Diesel and Petrol version is a mean R1, 000,000. Add another R800, 000 to that for the stupidly fast V8. Let us know what you think of the new Mercedes GLE Coupe on our social media page. Until next time.

Hello Sunny: Quality time with the Opel Corsa Cosmo.

Opel Corsa Cosmo aka Sunny.

It’s not often that we name a press car, we only have it for a week so there generally isn’t enough time for us to get too attached to it. This wasn’t the case with the bright yellow Opel Corsa Cosmo aka “Sunny” that was delivered to us over the past week. First and foremost, the colour. It’s bright yellow and we have never been one to enjoy driving a car that makes you squint due to the brightness of its hue. That being said, the yellow paintwork on this car was almost a subliminal message from Opel about the character of this car. See many small cars now feature small three cylinder engines, which generally do the job depending on how many people you have in the car and how steep the uphill is.

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Opel on the other hand has chosen to do something that only a few manufacturers are doing, they have decided to turbo-charge their 1.0 litre three cylinder engine. The results? A nippy rev-happy engine that has no problems going uphill and lugging around humans of various shapes and sizes. The car feels like it loves to be driven and as a result, because you’re enjoying yourself behind the wheel, the yellow paintwork seems to add to the fun factor of it all.

Earlier we referred to people of different shapes and sizes, this is another positive aspect of the Opel Corsa, it can actually fit people in the back. We love it’s sibling the Opel Adam, but its limited space in the back makes the Corsa the more practical choice to have. As a young team at TheMotorist, space counts for us and many other people in our age group and life cycle. The thing about being twenty-something, is that being social is an important part of your life, you want the flexibility to say “let’s jump in my car” and it’s not a problem.

Another thing about being young in the times we live in, is that our lives revolve around technology, which is a good and a bad thing. The good part is that we’re tech-savvy but the bad thing is that we expect everything to be the same, whether it’s our cell phone or our vehicle. It’s almost as if Opel built the Corsa and filled it with the technology it has especially for young people. The Cosmo has all the bells and whistles as standard but if you want the car to feel complete, the optional park distances sensors are worth the extra money.

The infotainment system is a peach, the Bi-Xenon lights look great and really improve night time visibility and the cabin is modern yet simple. The car has a feeling of automation to it that makes you feel like you’re in a good place. The only feature I would leave out is the Advanced Park Assist 2, simply because you will use it less than you think. The system works well seven times out of ten but personally we think it’s easier to beef up your parking skills and do it yourself. The car is not huge so it parking itself is not exactly necessary, especially when you have the “City” steering mode which reduces the weight to the steering wheel, making it easier to turn the wheel.

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Driving the car everyday makes you think economically as the on-board computer tells you to shift up all the time. Even when you think you’re in the right gear, the car keeps instructing you to change up, teaching you to drive it in the most economical way. The start-stop system works well too but in heavy traffic it did eventually get on our nerves so we gave it a break.

So after a few days went by we looked forward to driving Sunny more and more, it hit us, we were attached. Yes it was yellow and yes people stared at it, but we didn’t care. We formed a relationship with that little car, we felt like it was working with us all the time and it feels good to get that feeling from a car. The fact that we were driving a car that cost around R245 000 with the features it had, also made us relax because sometimes driving a very expensive press car can be a bit intimidating.

Would we live with it? The article answers that question. Would we recommend it? The same goes for that question too. You don’t have to have it in Yellow, there are other colours too, but most times it’s nice to have something to brighten up your day…literally.

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Best of both worlds: The facelifted Audi Q3

Feature Friday: Audi Q3 2.0TFSI S-Line

Many people living in Johannesburg will complain that the city is too congested, I am one of those people. As someone born and raised in the big bad city, I often long for some open space and a fresh aired environment lacking noise. That is why one of my biggest dreams is to have a large piece of land overlooking nature and maybe even a barn. The problem with that, as someone who has been raised in the city, I am so used to having certain amenities at my disposal, so the lack of them could cause great frustration. The ideal scenario would be to find a place that has the best of both worlds, a place that is still open and farm-like but not too far from the city.

Am I asking too much? Some may say yes but exploring Johannesburg in the facelifted Audi Q3 made me realise that places like these do actually exist. When the Audi Q3 arrived at my house it seemed much smaller than what it looked like on the road. I was genuinely surprised. When I entered into the car I was even more surprised because the car provided very good space for it’s passengers despite its smaller stature. I almost felt like I was in a higher A3 with a bit more room in it and that isn’t a bad thing at all. The car I received was the S-Line package with all the sportier touches added to it, including lovely bucket seats. There is something about the combination of leather and alcantara that makes a cabin look more suave, perhaps the word alcantara itself is what makes me feel this way. It’s like the word cashmere, just saying the word makes one automatically seem fancier, a word you drop at dinner parties to impress friends.

Starting the car creates an audible burble of a refined petrol engine. The badging on the outside simple stated TFSI so I tried find out which derivative it was. Eventually I located a piece of paper listing all the specifications on the car, which had a healthy amount of extras on it. It was the 2.0 litre turbo 132kW version, fitted with the seven speed double clutch S-Tronic gearbox. The sum total of R 590 000 was the price of the vehicle I had in my driveway, a price which falls on the more expensive side of things I must say. Which brings me to my travels in and around Johannesburg. If you travel 15km’s north of Johannesburg after Kyalami, you enter into a different world. Everything slows down, there is empty land everywhere and the site of horses catches your attention. If you carry on for a few more kilometres you will be presented by a sign that says “Beaulieu”. This residential area is exactly what I have been longing for, it is basically farm life or rather “horse life” a few minutes away from civilisation. What a lovely area it is, with large homes and open land and the smell of fresh air coupled with the sound of nothing.

As I drove around my future suburb, the Q3 blended in nicely. The locals gave me that “you’re one of us” smile when I drove passed them. The area has a mixture of gravel road and tar, something the Q3 handled very well despite its low profile tyres and large rims. On the road is where the car is in it’s element though, very quiet and stately until someone is driving 25km/h in an 60km/h zone. When that happens it’s simply a matter of slightly squeezing the accelerator for all 320Nm to engage and you’ve overtaken effortlessly. After driving the car around for a bit, I realised that there were similarities between the area and the car I was driving. In what way?

The Audi Q3 is a peculiar car, it does not feel like a 4×4 but when fitted with the Quattro suspension, it is. It doesn’t look very big on the outside but is quite spacious on the inside. It is the right car for someone who does not want a sedan but at the same time doesn’t want a large 4×4. It is for someone who still wants the nimbleness of a sedan but the clearance of a larger car. It’s the perfect car for the undecided, people like myself who want a farm life but with the city’s convenience. It is a larger car that drives like a hatchback and even though it has a powerful engine, the 62l fuel tank is big enough for you not to really notice that all that overtaking is affecting your fuel consumption. Like Beaulieu the Audi Q3 offers something different for people, an alternative to the sedan without having to lug a big 4×4 around. The houses in Beaulieu cost well into the millions so I will have to play my cards right in order to afford living there one day, but the cost is justifiable in my mind. The same goes for the Audi Q3, cars in general are not cheap, most premium cars cost over half a million Rand, so for R90 000 more with some decent extras, you may just think it’s justifiable too. Happy Feature Friday Motorists.

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Mercedes’ C63 Coupé revealed, can it get any more powerful?

Thought Thursday: Mercedes’ C63 Coupé will produce more power than all it’s competitors

What do car makers and dictators have in common? They all want absolute power, but in the words of Spiderman’s grandfather, “with great power comes great responsibility”. This is especially true for our German friends trying to one-up each other in the power game. As most car lovers will know, the new Mercedes C-Class Coupé was launched a few days ago. Now we have more information to reveal regarding the flagship power house of the lot, the C63 Coupé. We want to talk about the “S” version of this car specifically. The “normal” version of the C63 Coupé will feature ONLY 345kW and 650Nm whilst the “S” version will produce 370kW and 700Nm of torque.

Let’s talk about these figures for a moment. The power this car produces is less than what the last version of the brutal normally aspirated C63 507 Edition produced. The difference though is that despite it producing a kilowatt or two less, the delivery of that power is very different, due to turbocharging. Now that the new C63’s are running 4.0l turbocharged engines, the car goes from being very fast, to down right ludicrous. As any car lover will say, bring on the power, more is better and better is more. That being said, a part of me is a tad concerned about all of this. I recently read a statement made by a very experienced journalist regarding how these super saloons and coupé’s should do away with being rear wheeled drive as standard.

To most enthusiasts that statement may sound like a slap in the face, but in reality, it makes perfect sense. The reason being that because the new engines are turbocharged, the maximum torque delivery of these cars is almost instant. This is good and bad. Good for producing insane acceleration, but bad for those who cannot handle it. The reality is that most C63 Coupé owners will not be die hard enthusiasts, a great deal of them will be wealthy individuals who want the latest and greatest. For that clientèle, having 700Nm of torque available to you and traction control being a simple press of a button to switch off, can mean potential injury. The fact is that all that power can mean too much car for most and even the slightest bit of “fast” driving can create a dangerous situation.

If these cars were to be all-wheel drive as standard, as they have them in the US, the danger lessens. For those who regard themselves as enthusiasts, they should have the choice to deselect the all-wheel drive setup and opt for the rear wheel drive setup when specifying their car with their dealership. If this was the case, it would mean for a safer, more manageable car for those who aren’t interested in going sideways and simply want a very fast car. At the same time the deselect option will still keep the enthusiasts happy too. This may be a reality soon, as the rumblings of the new BMW M5 have started and talk is that the car will have the exact setup we’re discussing now. I think it’s a good thing, because even now with the current BMW M5, many will agree that a very specific skill-set is needed to drive that car on it’s limit with the traction control off.

We look forward to the new C63 Coupé hitting our shores in South Africa. For those looking to purchase one, if you have not gone for advanced driving yet, we strongly recommend you do so. This will ensure your safety behind the wheel and increase your joy in owning such a car, because what’s the point in having all that power if you can’t handle it? Happy Thought Thursday Motorists.

Toyota’s Swiss Army Knife, the Auris XR.

Driving Toyota’s new Auris XR

The Swiss army knife was a very handy tool for soldiers during the war and has maintained the same level of usefulness for people today. The design has stayed the same over the years, a sharp blade, a screwdriver, scissors and a can opener. All these items fold snugly into the base of the knife. When folded the Swiss army knife can look quite deceiving, like it’s just any other item. Victorinox is a company that has been making Swiss army knives for years and over the years the product has been known for its reliability. Older versions of Victorinox Swiss army knives don’t look that amazing, even bland you may think but they still maintained the same level of reliability. Newer versions of the knives look quite good though, they have been reinvented and are now available in bright shiny colours. Who would think that a Swiss army knife can now be considered as something not only practical but also cool to have. Well the current range of Victorinox knives has made that possible.

Something similar has happened with Toyota, especially the current Auris. The Auris XR is the car we had to sample and it is surprisingly trendy. Toyota has been many things over the years, reliable and affordable being its two main attributes. I can now safely say that the new Auris can add “trendy” to one of it’s characteristics. As a person who falls under the youth category, I’m happy to say that I didn’t feel in anyway like I was driving my grandfathers car whilst piloting the new Auris. One of the biggest selling points found in the new Toyota Auris is the vast amount of creature comforts found in the car. Leather heated seats, touch screen radio, reverse camera and bluetooth are all standard in the car, making it a very comfortable car to be in. The car is also deceivingly large, so much so that five adults can comfortably sit in the car and not feel cramped. Externally the car is pretty too, Toyota decided on a more bold, sharper design on this new Auris and as a result, it has paid off well.

The only thing that makes the new Auris feel slightly dated is the use of a normally aspirated 1.6 litre engine producing 97kW and 160Nm. Since most of its competitors are now using small turbocharged engines, you long for the surge of torque found in the lower rev range that you get from the other cars. Being that as it may, the new Auris is not slow, it happily does the job around the city and an even better job on an open road since it cruises very comfortably. The Auris has never been punted as a performance car so it would not be fair to expect it to perform like one. We could find nothing wrong with the new Auris XR, instead we found many things that were right with the car. Yes it may not be as exciting to drive as some of the other cars in it’s segment, but driving this car makes me think that Toyota’s aim with the new Auris is not to make grown men feel like children. Driving this car makes one think that Toyota want’s people to feel like an adult in the new Auris. It is like a Swiss army knife, as much as Victorinox may offer you various bold designs, the point of the knife is to be practical. The same goes for the new Toyota Auris, the size of the car, its features and comfort make it a very practical car to own. The fact that it’s great on fuel and is well priced at R287 700 further seals the deal that this car is the Swiss army knife to the large hatchback segment. A great and practical item to have. Happy Feature Friday Motorists.

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