Category: driven review

The Harvey Specter of cars: Volvo S90 D5 Review

Volvo S90 D5 AWD Review

Volvo S90 D5 Review

Over the past few years, the Volvo brand has undergone a regeneration. Combining their reputation of driving safety with swedish luxury has seemed to be their main goal, making sure the vehicles they build are the last word in safety, as well as beautiful in every way. The first vehicle to receive that treatment was the XC90, a luxury SUV which quite frankly blew a lot of people away with its design, styling and technology.

The Volvo S90 is the next vehicle in Volvo’s line up to receive this treatment, a luxury sedan bringing the fight to the likes of BMW’s 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and having driven both of those vehicles, the Germans should be worried.

My first thoughts when entering the cabin of the Volvo S90 were how similar the it felt to the XC90. It has a very clean and elegant feel. High quality materials emphasise the crisp finishings and buttons which are all centered around the 9.3” Sensus Connect Touch Screen. There are few buttons in the S90 thanks to this system which controls everything from the colour of the interior lights to the A/C system and like the XC90, it works very well, it almost feels natural.

Volvo S90 D5 Review

If the XC90 is the younger more beefy teenager, than the S90 must be the older man. It’s very elegant, a trait can be seen through the exterior design. It looks beautiful with its long and sleek style. The front end of the vehicle houses a large chrome grill which harkens back to that of the Volvo P1800, as well as the trademark Thor’s Hammer daytime running lights and while the rear end has received some criticism regarding its design, mainly that it looks sad, in the flesh it looks pretty good. A BMW 5 Series looks aggressive and sporty, whereas the S90 has an elegant and executive feel. It is very Harvey Specter – clean and crisp with nothing out of place.

Volvo S90 D5 Review

There are various engines available in the Volvo S90 and this was the first of two variants I was testing, the D5 AWD Inscription.  This is most powerful diesel engine currently available in the S90 and provides 173 kW and 480 N.m from its 2.0-litre Twin Turbocharged engine, which also features PowerPulse.

PowerPulse is a system currently exclusive to Volvo. It consists of a 2.0-litre canister which forces compressed air into the turbo to decrease spooling times dramatically, thus reducing and eliminating turbo-lag. This system seemed to work well when accelerating hard.

Volvo S90 D5 Review

Here’s the thing with the S90 D5, it didn’t make me feel like I wanted to accelerate hard or drive progressively at all. The Volvo made me feel very relaxed behind the wheel, I sort of pottered around everywhere, taking it nice and easy. The calm and quiet D5 gave of a very relaxing aura

At times I felt like a chauffeur, trying to give my passengers the most comfortable ride possible, even though most of the time I was the only person in the car. It was a fantastic feeling, as though I had escaped the South African road rush – I was in my own little luxury bubble and felt like I had all the time in the world. I could not even hear the chaos that usually consumes South African roads, but that probably had something to do with the 19 speaker Bowers and Wilkins sound system (Short video on the system here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSd5KcR0qf4)

Volvo S90 D5 Review

Add this to Volvo’s Pilot Assist, which needs an article for itself (find it here), and you have a fantastic vehicle. Driving a car for long distances can add to one’s stress and tension, but driving the Volvo S90 does the exact opposite.

The S90 D5 AWD isn’t badly priced either at R821,200 and also comes with some very good features as standard. One will find features as LED Headlights, Electric seats, Adaptive cruise control with Pilot Assist, climate control and Navigation. For an extra R65,000 a buyer can add the Premium Pack, which offers the following:

o Heated front seats with power-adjustable side supports

o Powered boot lid

o Power-folding rear seats

o Auto-dimming side and interior mirrors

o Visual Park Assist incl. 360-degree HD camera

o Bowers & Wilkins premium audio, 19-speaker

o Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Alert

o Park Assist Pilot incl. Park Out function

o Keyless entry and starting, incl. hands-free boot lid opening & closing

Other options I would recommend are the smartphone Integration with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – a R4 000 option.  The Volvo I tested also had a Head Up Display (R14 500) and Air suspension with the Active Chassis system( R17 500) expensive extras, but are most likely worth it and notably cheaper than equivalent options from competitor manufacturers. Spec an E-Class or 5 Series to the same level as this car and you’ll be truly shocked at the price difference. In terms of value for money, the S90 rules this segment.

Overview

The Volvo S90 is a wonderful machine and there isn’t much I can fault. The key could perhaps be made with higher quality materials , but that is the only item that felt a little cheap on this car.

Then there is the issue of who this car appeals to. Have Volvo done enough to attract a younger audience? Maybe. I still feel many buyers around 35 years of age and looking for a vehicle in this segment would still opt for a BMW 5 Series. This does not necessarily mean it’s a better car, because it isn’t. Everything about the S90 would appeal to a younger person, but the brand itself still has to work off its older appeal. Time will tell how this works out. For me, I would take an XC90 everyday of the week because it just has that younger feel.

How does the S90 D5 compare to  it’s more powerful sibling, the fiery,  235 kW S90 T6. Find out here:

 

 

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If Idris Elba doesn’t want to be James Bond, maybe the Aston Martin DB11 will convince him.

Aston Martin DB11 review in South Africa

We drive the Aston Martin DB11

Besides being one of the coolest people in Hollywood, Idris Elba is also a petrol head. If you don’t believe us, Google it. The fact that he is a car lover gives the makers of James Bond an even better reason to make him the next 007. If I were in the unique position to be considered for that role, I’d have a specific request though, besides being made to look taller – I’d want the lead car to be an Aston Martin DB11. We don’t need to explain why this car would be perfect for the next James Bond movie because Aston’s have long been synonymous with the 007 brand.

Old man gets some work done:

Let’s be honest, the Aston Martin brand was always the car for the “mature”. You know, the expensive cigar smoking, trench coat wearing types that look you up and down as you approach them. With technology and innovation making leaps and bounds, many manufacturers are looking to appeal to a different target audience nowadays. The internet has made many younger people wealthier so a sports car for the refined gentleman won’t appeal to that rich kid who swears by his Adidas sneakers and hoody from college. What that guys wants is something smart and powerful, something the Aston Martin DB11 is.

The new car has learned from its older siblings in terms of style and pizzazz, but its packaged in a different way. The DB9 and Vanquish for instance feel old school with their sonorous naturally aspirated V12 engines. Having driven a Vanquish recently, I can confirm that it’s quite an event-nothing beats the raw nature of the engine. The power delivery is a build up, giving you an exquisite crescendo at the end of the rev range. The only problem with that, is that in everyday traffic, you’ll barely reach that crescendo because of a little thing called traffic.

This is where the Aston Martin DB11 comes in, since it’s turbocharged it has boost very early in the rev range – allowing you to access the power easily. The car is a GT vehicle, meaning that it’s meant to be driven a lot. It’s not meant to be a Sunday car, but for it to be an “everyday car” it needs everyday features. The modes in the DB11 were made specifically for that purpose.

GT mode is the one you’ll use to go to the office,  Sport mode will be used by those who still want to go to the office but very loudly. Sport Plus mode will be used by those who still want go to the office but loudly and less comfortably. In whatever mode the Aston Martin DB11 is in, it’s never terrible though. It’s always good. Underneath it all, the car is basically a Mercedes-AMG GT and the people at Merc know a thing or two about comfort. The surprising thing is that the Aston drives better as an everyday car than the AMG GT. The engine is also nicer. A unique 5.2 litre V12 Twin Turbo is the life of the party and with 447kW/700Nm at your disposal, you won’t get bored easily. This engine makes any other Aston seem slow, but it still has soul.

Driving the DB11 teaches you that you don’t have to drive fast for you to enjoy a car with so much power. With your cell phone paired and the engine in its most docile mode, you often forget you have a weapon under your right foot. The 8 speed automatic gearbox adds to this as it can feel non-existent, but in Sport mode it changes quicker than you’d expect. The seating position also doesn’t make you feel like you’re in a long car, as does the Vanquish. Instead you’re surrounded by luxury and technology and you don’t feel like you’re driving “daddy’s car”. The Aston Martin DB11 has done well then to appeal to younger guys.

Sure it’s not as exciting as a super car but it’s not mean to be. It’s meant to offer everyday thrills nestled in luxury and sophistication. If I was a wealthy 35 year old, the DB11 would be a very tempting car to own. Better yet if I were Idris Elba, I think it would add to the James Bond swagger I would already bring to the role. Imagine the scene, Idris driving up to a lavish hotel, pulling up in the Aston Martin DB11 with a gorgeous girl. As the valet approaches he says, “park the old girl won’t you, but keep it running, I won’t be long…”    

 

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The New Volkswagen Up! : A fun city car with a hefty price tag

New Volkswagen Up! Car Review in South Africa

South African Car Review: New Volkswagen Up!

Volkswagen Up! Car Review in South Africa

With all the cars that come through The Motorist’s garage, sometimes it’s a good thing to be reminded of what real cars are and have a palate cleanser. You see, the life of a motor journalist is full of crème de la crème cars and we often forget about entry level vehicles and it’s those cars that you see more than your rear engined sports car.

We spent the week in VW’s new and revised Up! and yes, it reminded me of my post high school days. The car, the “move Up!”, is fun to drive and in the mindset of a girl/guy in the late teens early twenties, it’s the perfect run around. It has all the modern necessities like USB that connects to your mobile that your mate can control on the way to the joll. Its 1.0-liter three cylinder, 55 kW motor takes some little time to get used to but as mentioned, we are 20 years old today, remember? Being a three cylinder, and having seen this on most three-cylinder vehicles, they want you to explore the rev range and once you do so, the 55 kW aided by 95 N.m of torque isn’t too bad too live with and for a car that’s running from home, tertiary and to the next party, it’s got more than enough power.

New Volkswagen Up! Car Review in South Africa

Being a city car makes the Up! really pleasant to live with as well. It’s easy to park, something I made particular note of having just climbed out of a VW Passat which, as lovely as it was, was like driving an 18-wheeler when compared to the Up!.  Standard items on the specific Move up! is ESP, with hill hold control, ABS, ASR, EBD, 123 and even ABC. They have thrown the whole alphabet at this little car. Electric exterior mirrors, daytime running lights and radio with aux, Bluetooth and SD card also make a welcomed appearance. Clearly, I was born in the wrong decade. Our “starter pack” cars weren’t this cool. One thing I thought is that this is a car for a varsity student with parents with a fat credit card or deep pockets as the vehicle that we drove has a starting price of R180 400. The base Up! isn’t much cheaper either at R166 800. Yikes.

New Volkswagen Up! Car Review in South Africa

People have been polarized by the looks of the Up! but I think it’s a good looking small vehicle. Does it look like the BMW i3? Yes, but that is beside the point. For a week, I was 20 again, had my cap on backwards and had house and hip hop tunes blasting out the car like I had no bills and debit orders. It was a good week in the VW Up!

New Volkswagen Up! Car Review in South Africa

 

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Nissan Qashqai Driven Review in South Africa

We test drive the Nissan Qashqai

Once upon a time, a manufacturer decided to make a 4×4 that wasn’t actually a 4×4 and the rest became history. Few people could have predicted the success of the crossover when the Nissan Qashqai supposedly invented the segment in 2006. Well over a million Qashqai’s and a bajillion other crossovers later, the second generation Nissan Qashqai takes over from where the benchmark in its segment left off, building on its many strengths.

When replacing the original Qashqai, Nissan certainly had their work cut out for them but thanks to much improved build quality and styling, the Qashqai now gives off a much more premium feel than its predecessor. Good quality materials and very few rattles make the cabin a very nice place to be and while you won’t be writing abstract poems professing the innate beauty of its swooping plastic features or nice-to-push buttons, everything works just as it should, all while giving a pleasing tactile feeling.

Power comes from an array of motors, ranging from 1.2-litre turbo-petrols to 1.6-litre turbo-petrols and diesels. The model we had on test was the mid-range 1.5dCi Acenta Manual with 81 kW and 260 N.m although the laggy torque delivery and gear lever’s long throws came nowhere close to mirroring the vehicle’s sporty and dynamic looks. Frightfully economical, though, we averaged around 5.0 l/100 km over the period of a week which in the real world isn’t too far off the manufacturer’s claim of 4.2 l/100km.

Spec wise, the Acenta model we had comes standard with Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, a trip computer, xenon headlights, 6 airbags, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, auto-lights and windscreen wipers and the usual electronic aids.

A 6 year/150 000km warranty comes standard across the range, as does a 3 year/90 000km service plan.

Nissan Qashqai pricing in South Africa

Pricing starts at R354 900 for the 1.2T Acenta and rises to R454 900 for the top-spec 1.6dCi Acenta Auto. The model we tested is priced at R382 900 and is definitely the sweet spot in the range.

While the second-generation Nissan Qashqai has been on sale in South Africa for roughly 3 years now, it is still a very relevant product, more than capable of competing with some of its newer competitors. Despite the fact that its sporty looks are a bit deceiving, the Qashqai as a whole is a good quality product that reminds us of why the world fell in love with the original in the first place.

Nissan, good job.

 

The Opel MOKKA X: A Crossover For South African City Life.

Opel MOKKA X Driven Review

Crossover vehicles are becoming very popular, they bring the style of an SUV together with the compactness of a hatchback. They prove to be popular for those with young families or ones who just can’t stretch the budget for the real deal. Crossover’s look good, a little different from the everyday vehicle, are well-priced and are a better option for the city over an SUV.

So it’s not difficult to see, then, why this segment has literally boomed in the past couple of years and with more variants coming to market, there are many choices available. One of these variants is Opel’s kind of new MOKKA X.

I couldn’t quite get my head around the visual aspect of this vehicle when it first arrived on our doorstep. It has really nice design elements but also looks a little plumbly – a chubby teenager with a handful of candyfloss comes to mind. It definitely has sporty crossover elements and from some angles its looks great, whereas others are not so appealing. The exterior is still a little lukewarm for me, so let’s talk about the inside.

Interior

The interior of the MOKKA X was a great surprise. It isn’t what you’d describe as the lap of luxury, but it is refreshing. The car boasts a very simple, clean and sophisticated feel with striking visual elements that catch your eye. Along with the descent trim comes a nice steering wheel and the leather padding on the dash in the Cosmo edition is pleasing to the eyes. I felt very comfortable and relaxed in the MOXXA X cabin which I feel is very important. Especially if you’re the kind of driver who values comfort and aesthetics over performance, because this isn’t a performance car…

Opel MOKKA X Review

Driving

From a driving perspective, the MOKKA X feels like a city car. The steering is very light, so light in fact that I found myself scanning for a city steering button – it didn’t exist. This didn’t cause me any issues, though, and it made for a great turning circle and quick response when nipping around Durban – I rather enjoyed it.

To be honest, the whole driving experience in the Opel MOKKA X was fairly pleasant. As mentioned before, the MOKKA X is no hot cross over. With 103 kW and 200 N.m on tap from just 1 850 rpm, it’S no slouch and has ample power. These figures are produced by 1400 cc turbocharged motor which also returns impressive consumption figures at a claimed 6.0 l/100km combined.

Overview and Pricing

For me, The Opel MOKKA X is a crossover with a slightly city biased nature, which is a good thing. It has the space and style of a mini SUV, but drives like a city car with its responsive engine and nippy handling. This is not a bad point at all. As many people buy crossovers for the style anyway, with no inclination to actually crossover onto any other road surface than tarmac.

It boasts a good amount of space and has an impressive drivetrain. It is also very well connected with Carplay and Android Auto available. I had a blast in the MOKKA X! It’s a good fit for a young family and with a starting price of R317,500 it’s also very affordable.

  • MOKKA X 1.4T Enjoy 6MT

    R 317, 500.00

  • MOKKA X 1.4T Enjoy 6AT

    R 328, 400.00

  • MOKKA X 1.4T Cosmo 6MT

    R 357, 400.00

  • MOKKA X 1.4T Cosmo 6AT

    R 368, 100.00

 

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