In days of yore when the likes of Leykor and British Leyland were wreaking havoc on your garage floor, a leaking vehicle wasn’t an uncommon occurrence. Thankfully, for the most part, the only leaking we need to worry about these days is that of images before a car’s actual unveiling. BMW’s next generation ‘G30’ 5 Series has just been leaked a day before it’s official unveiling and apparently the Chinese are to blame. What is very evident is that BMW’s designers have gone the tracing paper rout à la Mercedes-Benz with the new Fiver which is now more in line with the design language of the brutish yet elegant 7 Series. BMW’s new ‘CLAR’ cluster architecture underpins the G30 shedding roughly 100kg’s off F10’s kerb-weight thanks to carbon-fibre and aluminium being such lighties.
Engine-wise one can expect the usual slew of BMW TwinPower power plants with force-fed 2.0-litre fours and 3.0-litre sixes in both petrol and diesel guise being the big-sellers. For those who enjoy a ginger-shot in the morning and think that leaves are a meal there will also be a hybrid version, likely making use of the 2.0-litre unit found in the X5 xDrive40e and your wall-socket. What we’re actually excited for, though, are the V8 motors. Both the 550i and M5 should make use of updated variations of the N63 motor, with the M5’s S63 reportedly churning out over 450kW through, for the first time on an M5, an optional xDrive system. If you’re a heathen, tick that box.One can expect to see the new Five on our roads during the first half of 2017, kidney-grills and all.
One can expect to see the new Five on our roads during the first half of 2017, kidney-grills and all.
Way back in 2007 a car came along which changed everything. Performance wise, this vehicle destroyed almost anything that was put against it, its acceleration was blistering and it’s on track performance was mind blowing. This vehicle was probably one of the most technically advanced cars of that era, many called it “the supercar slayer”. Yes, I’m talking about the Nissan GT-R R35. Recently at the SA Festival of Motoring, the new 2017 Edition was released with some slight adjustments and Refinements.
In the performance area, the hand built 3.8L V6 twin turbo has a power increase from 397 KW to 408 KW and a small torque increase of 4nm, bringing the total to 632 NM. This power increase comes from increased turbo boost and individual timing control on each cylinder, Nissan say these upgrades will also provide more performance in the mid-high rev range.
Along with the performance upgrades, the gearbox and gearshifts have also been improved. These two factors added with Nissan’s state of the art launch control system gives a 0–100kph time of under 3 seconds, that’s Porsche Turbo S territory. Nissan has also added a new titanium exhaust system which unfortunately is “enhanced” by Nissan’s Active Sound Enhancement System, fake sound does not do it for me.
Handling upgrades have also taken place with a more rigid suspension structure and chassis to further improve track performance, Nissan also claims they have improved the everyday drive and comfort of this 2017 model.
Nissan has also worked on the interior with their aim to make it more “upmarket” and simplified. The upmarket feel has been introduced with Nappa leather and “real” carbon fibre, sound dampening and an acoustic glass windshield has also been installed to keep unwanted exterior noises out. I do wonder though if the acoustic glass will improve my wife’s in car singing voice ? after all, it is acoustic.
In their aim to simplify, Nissan has reduced the number of buttons in the cabin from 27 to 11 with most of the functions moving to an 8” touchscreen display. As long as the audio and A/C controls are not digitally controlled then I’m happy, that really gets on my wick.
The 2017 GT-R will be available from September with the first batch already sold out. The Premium Edition comes in at a price of R1 950 000 and the Black Edition at R2 050 000. The supercar slayer is edging towards supercar prices!
Naturally, as humans, we have high expectations of certain things. If for example, you had booked a few nights at a top 5-star hotel you would expect the room, food, and service to be excellent. Maybe you decided to treat yourself and fly business class, once again you have certain expectations that you expect to be met. These same thoughts ran through my head before the Volvo XC90 arrived at our offices. I never really have expectations when testing new cars because I prefer to have an open mind on every vehicle I drive. When the car comes with the title “Car of the year 2016” though, it’s kind of hard to ignore. My expectations were high as I had never driven an XC90 before this and was excited to find out what all the hype was about.
The XC90 I drove was the T5 R-Design in Onyx Black Metallic, wow it’s a looker. I don’t mind saying that this car is one of if not the best looking SUV on the road right now. The R-design sports body kit and 20-inch wheels set this car apart. I fell for this car before I even drove it and that does not happen often. The technical aspect of this car is advanced with world first items such as pedestrian and cyclist detection, to the head up display. It’s got the lot! One thing I really enjoyed in this car which I struggle to enjoy in others, is the Sensus connect touchscreen infotainment system. Many of the full touch screen systems in cars today annoy me as they often don’t work properly. They can be difficult to use which distracts from the road. The Sensus system is different, It works well and is very responsive.
Behind the wheel
Driving this vehicle is an experience you don’t often get, but it’s one you will remember. The 187 kW provided from the 2L 4-cylinder power plant is nearly perfect for the size and weight, big SUV’s don’t always need to be overpowered monsters. I found the XC90 to be very driver based, everything focuses on you and the non-intrusive head up display finishes this feeling off. It’s not just the tech that makes this car great, though, it’s also how it drives. Remove half of the gizmos and you would still get the same experience every time you drive it. It makes me feel like I am in command of a futuristic spaceship, I feel in charge on the road and that is an awesome feeling to have. The driving performance of this vehicle is also very enjoyable, it accelerates and handles well for its size and this fits in with the sporty design. If batman drove an SUV, this would be it.
The problem with the XC90 is that there is no problem. I went looking for issues or things I didn’t like and the only issue I found was that the ambient lighting system in the doors and footwells don’t change colour like the overhead ambient lights. Pretty insignificant I know. Apart from that, the attention to detail is on point, even the start/stop switch is worthy of an award. My 300 words are long gone, but I’m going to finish with this. This is one very special vehicle.
Stylish and trendy are not two words that comes to mind when you think of a Honda Civic. For different generations the nameplate can mean different things. The more advanced in age may think of the reliable Ballade they loved once upon a time. Whereas the younger folk may picture a sporty hatchback and things like VTEC technology. The new Honda and Civic can be called somewhat stylish and even trendy too.
Upon looking at the lines of the new Honda Civic, one gets the sense that the brand is trying to marry the two generations interests with the new car. On the one hand, you have a sedan that offers great amounts of space and practicality. On the other hand you have a sporty model that features a 1.5 litre VTEC turbocharged engine. How does all this work out?
The new Civic has a choice of four models, Comfort, Elegance, Executive, and Sport. The Comfort and Elegance are softer in appearance and have normally aspirated 1.8-litre four-cylinder engines producing 104 kW and 174Nm. The Sport is more noticeable as it has a stylish rear wing and larger wheels to match the aggressive body styling, whilst the Executive is premium in appearance. Powering the Sport and Executive is a 1.5 litre VTEC Turbocharged four cylinder that makes 127kW and 220Nm. All models in the new Civic range use a CVT gearbox that is surprisingly non-obtrusive and easy to work with.
How does it drive?
Comfortably. The most notable thing about being behind the wheel of the new Honda Civic is just how you never tire of the car. It is a vehicle that can be comfortably taken on a long trip. Even in the Sport model, it is less about performance and more about refinement. Yes, the performance is there but more for usability instead of excitement.
Spending the day in the new Civic left us feeling confident that this 10th generation version will appeal to current Honda owners, as well as attract new customers. The segment this car operates in is one that is quite competitive. With its new design and modern technologies though, the new Civic may be able to hold its own. While it’s pricing for the top of the range Executive model may be a tough pill to swallow, the entry level Comfort model seems much more reachable for average buyers.
*For the full review of the new Honda Civic, catch our latest issue of TheMotorist Digital Magazine next month.
Eight months into 2016 and Mercedes-Benz, along with their newly named ‘Mercedes-AMG’ division continue their new-car onslaught, this time with a slew of trendy and rapid two-doors. A delightful event was recently held at Zwartkops raceway where journalists were given the chance to sample Stuttgart’s newest sportscars.
Mercedes-Benz recently decided to throw the entire alphabet at its range, the latest victim being the SLK, now known as the SLC. Despite its drastic name change, only the eagle eyed will be able to spot its rounded new face and snazzy grille, this is still the SLK your hairdresser knows and loves. Sort of. At R680 000, the SLC200 is the base model and serves up 135kW and 300Nm from its 2.0 litre 4-pot turbo. This is the same engine doing service in the mid-range SLC300, albeit with 180kW and 370Nm. Gone is the potent V8 of yore, replaced by a more modern 3.0 biturbo V6 dishing out 270kW and 520Nm, ensuring a 0-100km/h dash of just 4.7 seconds. This has been dubbed the SLC43 and will be the first of the ‘43’ AMG’s to hit our shores at a little less than R990 000. How exciting?
Since 1954, the SL has arguably been the last word in uncompromised grand touring and this is something that shines through brighter than ever in the updated SL. Similar to the SLC43’s biturbo V6, the unit propelling the SL400 appears here in 270kW and 500Nm guise and is more than enough to displace your wig with prices starting from R1 440 743. With its silky smooth 9-speed auto, 700Nm of torque and a classic V8 burble to match the SL’s silhouette, the SL500 makes short work of beach promenades and Clifton driveways. The range spans all the way to the SL65 with a tyre-eating 1000Nm of torque – that is, if you have R3.2 million lying around.
C63 & C63 S Coupe
With 350kW and 650Nm at the mercy of your right foot, the Mercedes-AMG C63 and C63 S Coupe are the bahn stormers BMW’s M4 has been dreading. An AMG rumble and balanced chassis adds to what is already a competent coupe, now with extra grrrrr and a price to match it’s pace – R1 268 700 for the C63 and R1 382 000 for the C63 S Coupe. The C63 Convertible joins the rest of the range later in 2016.
The 4×4 is the one car that has always been hailed as the big bad wolf in the industry. This is because cars of this nature normally use large fuel guzzling engines. Times have changed recently though and Volvo has helped shape the change, by using one of the largest cars in the market. Since the launch of the all new XC90, the public’s reception of this car has been nothing but good. Awards such as the Wesbank COTY 2016 and the Cars.co.za “Best Premium SUV” award proves this, as well as numerous other international awards.
The use of 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol and diesel engines in such a large car is one of the most important features of the XC90. These small engines have drastically improved the fuel consumption of the range. Now to be even more efficient, Volvo have thrown in an 9 kWh Lithium-ion battery pack to their powerful 235kW petrol engine. As a result, a combined power output of 300kW from both engines gives the car immense power and a claimed fuel economy figure of 2.1 litres/ 100km! (Sounds crazy right?) Realistically, we achieved around 5.5 litres/ 100kms but that was toggling through all the modes and driving in the city. Even at that figure, that is a remarkable number to achieve in a seven seating SUV.
Regarding aesthetics and design, the T8 keeps the same look and feel that its siblings have. It’s available in Momentum, Inscription and R-Design Package. What is standard in the T8, apart from other things is a sunroof and a crystal gear knob (fancy right?).
How does is drive?
Silently. When the car is in “Pure” mode, you can hear the passengers swallow, which may be disturbing but quite amazing too. The car is still as comfortable as any other XC90, the only difference is that it’s much quieter. You can travel up to 43km in full electric mode and when you put the car in “Hybrid” mode, you get a combination of both petrol and electric power. If you’re in a hurry and you’re fully charged, you’ll be happy to know that in “Power” mode you can use all 300kW to get going quickly. Even in “beast mode”, the T8 maintains a level of civility and sophistication through smooth power delivery.
When you’ve hit a load shedding situation and you’ve run out of electric power, you can charge up at home to give your car life again. The good news is that if you do travel longer than the 43km electric range, you do have internal combustion to get you home.
What does the future hold?
Cars like these are very important to the industry, because they represent the future. Obviously as systems progress, this technology will keep getting better and more affordable to the general public. Soon we’ll even be able to go further with hybrid cars and it’s nice to see that Volvo are once again at the forefront of the change. That being said, other companies like BMW now offer a competitor, such as the X5 40e. This car uses a similar setup and we’re sure that it’s only a matter of time until other brands join the club. The T8 XC90 is still as good, still as pretty and still as elegant as it’s always been, only now it’s more efficient. It’s awesome to see the biggest car use the least amount of fuel, it’s a moving paradox.
Getting older is a funny and weird thing. You start to notice changes in not only how you view the world but also, how you use it. Not only do I not drink beer any more (let’s be completely honest, it doesn’t taste nice and most of us drink it to fit in) but my choice in cars has swayed a bit too. Not only do I look at performance and how the car makes me feel, but I find myself looking at the boot space of a car and asking my wife strange questions like, “do you think a pram will fit in the boot?” and “does it come standard with ISOFIX” I mean ISOFIX, really!?
This was worsened when we had the new Audi Q7 on test. To be honest, when our editor said, “you need to drive this car!” I was a little taken back by just looking at it. The previous Q7 had left me feeling underwhelmed and it was just too big. Sure it could do what the other SUV’s could, but in my opinion it wasn’t as refined as its competitors, and it felt dated too.
So off I went, leaving my BMW 435i in the basement and into the boxier new Q7. Man, was I surprised. What immediately struck me were the proportions of the car. Yes it’s big, but the car seems to have shrunk from its predecessor. Visually, it’s sleek and understated, it also has those lovely day time running lights due to the optional Matrix headlights that seem to have been taken straight out of the movie Tron. I walked around the new Q7 and felt like Joey from the sitcom Friends as I asked the car “How you doin?” (If you don’t get that joke, you’re too young.)
The surprises kept on coming as I got more acquainted with the car. The premium interior trim, long dashboard, ease of controls and most importantly, Audi’s biggest party trick the Virtual Cockpit all impressed me. Despite all of this I was still sceptical because I still remember how the old girl drove, surely it’s still a tank that’s an absolute mess to park? Wrong again Richard.
This latest model, with its 3.0 TDI producing 185kW and 600Nm, made me think of the “as smooth as a hot knife through butter” cliché. It glides and gets up to speed very quickly. After a few hours, I didn’t miss my 225kW daily drive at all. There are some back roads on my adventurous route home and I decided this was going to be a good challenge for the new Q7. I dove in aggressively to the first of many sharp corners and the steering feedback as well as the suspension setup surely hides the cars’ weight and it proceeded to devour the bends in a way a 4×4 shouldn’t. It seemed to look back at me and say, “is that all you’ve got?” All of this is due to the lower centre of gravity on the new Q7 compared to the previous car, as well as a weight reduction of 325 kilograms.
Another test was the “wife test”, since most wife’s have the biggest influence in car choices. So I picked up my wife and found an excuse for us to go out for dinner and I pleasantly found out that I wasn’t the only one to be bitten by the Q7 bug. The feature that she liked the most? The fact that the car does not feel big inside and is therefore not intimidating to drive or to be a passenger in. What didn’t she like? The fact that new Q7 didn’t look as exciting as other SUV’s on the road, something we agreed to disagree on. So the car had so far passed some key tests.
To say I was impressed by the new Q7 is an understatement. My current favourite SUV was the not so new Range Rover Sport TDV6, but this new Q7 I found was more exciting and dynamic. I’m glad that the ugly duckling now has a chance of becoming the “prom queen”, but we can’t give it the crown until we drive the new Volvo XC90, a car that is the current SA Car of the Year. That being said, the new Q7 is better at everything than the car it replaces and yes it can fit a pram in the boot and it does have ISOFIX. The good thing is that despite it making me indulge in my mature desires even more, it still made me feel young. Which is a lot to say for a car intended for families. Starting at R907 000, it’s competitively priced in its segment too.
The C-segment has been going through a war for many years now. The majority of those years have been ruled by one brand, the BMW 3 Series. During this time, Mercedes’ C-Class has been in competition with the Bavarian dictator and they have always come off second best in terms of driving dynamics and excitement but have always led in terms of comfort. Meanwhile the Audi A4 has always been the conservative’s choice amongst the lot and as a result, has had a specific audience to itself. With technology progressing and cars getting better and better, the distinct differences in cars within this segment have lessened, making brand loyalty the biggest decision maker for the consumer.
All of a sudden, though, a smaller more exclusive brand has entered the war and their offering has narrowed the gap even more. That brand is Jaguar and the new XE is their contender in this segment. After spending a week behind its wheel we were left wondering if the big three may need to make space for a fourth.
Is it really that good?
Yes, the Jaguar XE is a lovely vehicle. From the way it looks to the way it drives, makes it a very appealing package indeed. Add that to the fact that the nameplate it bears is one that denotes sophistication, class, and luxury. The engine line-up is similar to that of its competitors too, ranging from small 2.0 turbocharged petrol and diesel engines to a brutish 3.0 V6 Supercharged power-plant in the top of the range S model.
We had in our care the 177kW 2.0 i4 Turbo with the R-Sport package, a magnificently beautiful car that is as refined as it is good looking. It’s not all looks with the XE though, the car can manoeuvre its way around bends in a confidence-inspiring way. Dynamically the XE is without a doubt one of the best cars in its segment. It’s comfortable too, our Bavarian friends have often sacrificed comfort for dynamics in their Sports Packages, whereas the XE has a better sense of balance between the two.
Elephant in the room:
It is a fact that all car prices in South Africa are reaching a point where most of us will have to take up cycling in the future. Being that as it is, the price of the Jaguar XE is its proverbial 6th toe. The car is simply too expensive compared to the competition. We were distracted by its looks and charm but when we eventually looked at the price of the car, we were astonished at the base price of R695 000 for the model we drove. That is the only flaw we have for the car, besides that one would be nit-picking to fault anything else about the car.
So we’ve established that it’s good, but is it good enough to justify the price? It depends on two things. Firstly and most importantly, the depth of your pockets and secondly what you’re personally looking for in a car. It is a fact that the Jag is the most exclusive car to own in the segment, especially since every second car you see is a 3 Series and every third is a C-Class. So if you want to put your keys on the bar counter and feel special, then the XE may sway you quite a bit. At the same time, as we previously mentioned the gap is so narrow and the competition’s cars are great, so the majority of people would rather save some money and buy the competition.
So is there room for a fourth space in the club? From a volume perspective unfortunately not, the top three will most likely outsell the Jaguar XE purely because of South African brand loyalty. What is nice though is knowing that there are options out there for the consumer and that the German’s products aren’t the only ones that are well built, stylish and exciting. What the Jaguar XE has done is throw a spanner in the works for the segment. It has elements of all the big three mixed with some Jaguar sauce and packaged very well. The result? A gourmet C- Segment car, but like all things gourmet you pay a premium for it.
Audi’s new Q2 promises to bring a wild side to the compact Crossover segment.
Audi has often been dogged for playing it too safe when it comes to the design of its vehicles. The upcoming Audi Q2 unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show seeks to shut the mouths of critics with its radical design. Geometric design elements make for a modern looking compact crossover that has a cute but rugged look to it. The car will also be quite customisable in terms of design, which should keep all the hipster clients happy.
Bold design is not the only thing going for the Q2, various technologies are a key feature for new the car. The much loved Virtual Cockpit will be available as well as Audi’s Presence safety technologies. Part of these safety features is pedestrian detection and vehicle occupant bracing for potential accidents. Other cool media features include a Wifi hotspot and Audi’s Smartphone Interface.
Engines & Drivetrains:
Surprisingly Audi have not left out the 2.0l TFSI engine for this car despite it being quite compact. The choice of a 1.0l three cylinder engine as well as 1.4l will be available. Diesel engines are also included with a choice of a 1.6l as well as a 2.0l TDI being offered. Customers will have a choice between a permanent all wheel drive version and a front wheel drive setup. The Q2 will also feature a revised dual clutch transmission which promises to be more refined.
When when when?
Expect to see the Q2 mid-2017 with the market launch happening early next year. With compact SUV crossovers becoming ever so popular, Audi’s little tyke should do well in the South African motoring climate. The words “compact” doesn’t mean the Q2 will be very small in stature, with a 405-litre luggage compartment, the Q2 will have a big enough boot to make the school run possible.
The launch of the new Audi A4 is very important for the brand since the car is a volume seller in the Audi stable. In the South African automotive landscape, competition is very high within the D-Segment vehicles. The most popular cars in this segment are made up of what people like to refer to as the “big three” which is BMW’s 3 Series, Mercedes’ C-Class and Audi’s A4.
The A4 is the last to be updated between the three as BMW and Mercedes’ models are two to three years old already. Now is the time for Audi’s A4 to shine, after seven years in production, the B8 model is now a thing of the past and the new B9 is here to shake things up. The question is, will it be able to hold its own up against the ever so popular BMW and the ever so classy Mercedes-Benz? What has changed?
From the outside looking in, the new Audi A4 keeps very similar lines to the previous model, with the most notable change being in the front and rear end of the car. Sharp clean lines are prominent in the design and the car looks clinically beautiful in the typical Audi understated way. Packaging wise, customers have three options, a standard model, the “Design Line” and the “Sport Line”. The visual differentiators are not large but the handling characteristics of the car change according to the package chosen, with the “Sport Line” having the firmest and most dynamic suspension.
Engines & Technology
Under the bonnet is where you see the progress made in the new Audi A4. The previous generation featured a 1.8 litre turbocharged engine with 118kW, yet the new entry level is a 1.4 litre turbocharged engine which makes 110kW/250Nm. Due to smarter construction methods and materials, the new car is lighter than the car it replaces so the power to weight ratio is very similar if not better.
The 2.0 litre turbocharged version remains, this time featuring 140kW/ 320Nm. The figures for both engines may sound very conservative for a car of this class, but the way the car performs in either 1.4l or 2.0l guise tells a totally different story. The power-train is incredibly refined , giving you a very rich experience behind the wheel. The new A4 is also very dynamically intuitive and allows the driver to exploit the cars capabilities as we did around various mountain passes in the Western Cape of South Africa.
The comfort levels of the new Audi A4 are of the highest standard, add that to the state of the art technology in the car and you soon realise that Audi have outdone themselves with this new A4. The dated nature we had in the old car is gone, this is no mere face-lift, it’s a new car. Sitting inside, one is reminded of the new Q7 in terms of interior design. A fixed infotainment screen was chosen over the pop-up found in the Q7.
A selection of media, vehicle information and optional navigation can be fiddled with through Audi’s MMI infotainment system. The most impressive technological feature in the new A4 has got to be the optional Virtual cockpit which displays various features through the digital dashboard. A personal favourite of ours was the full screen navigation option available on the cockpit which aids driver focus on long journeys. The technological features don’t end there, standard safety technologies include Presence City, secondary collision brake assist and the adjustable restraint system.
There is no argument that the new Audi A4 is a beautifully designed vehicle which is more efficient and dynamically capable than the car it replaces. No one can question the abilities of this vehicle, the potential problem lies in the perception of the Audi A4 in South Africa. The BMW 3 Series comes with a cult following and so does the Mercedes C-Class. Brand loyalty will be a very big determining factor for the sales on the new A4. The new model is capable enough to gain more market share than the previous car, so it’s simply a case of Audi marketing the car in a more appealing way.
A 2.0 litre diesel derivative is on the way as well as a more powerful 185 kW 2.0 litre turbo, so this will do well to increase the portfolio of the model. The future looks bright for the Audi, the new A4 has set a new standard for the brand in this segment. We look forward to what will be coming in the new future as there more exciting vehicles from on the way from the German stable.