Category: Featured

Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TSI & TDI – First Drive

 

Introduced in 2007, the Volkswagen Tiguan was an instant success and as many had anticipated, VW’s foray into the crossover segment most certainly paid off with nearly a million units having been sold globally in its first 3 years of production. There was no reason for the Tiguan to do anything but excel, especially in the South African market where Volkswagens are so highly regarded and crossovers outnumber station wagons 9 to 1, but despite all this the Tiguan wasn’t all smiling toddlers and glitter, or was it…

For many, the biggest issue with the first generation Tiguan was that it may have been envisioned as a more rugged and capable Golf, but you’d sooner find a man named Terece pulling into a Sorbet Man than the great outdoors. It was great, but more likely than not a mum’s car thanks, in most part, to its looks.

In 2016 the Second Generation Tiguan was launched in South Africa and as it’s based on VW Group’s MQB Platform, we already knew that it was going to be a meticulously engineered vehicle. Having been on sale for a couple of months now, demand is higher than supply which is a good thing and everyone is clambering for a Tiguan from rugged execs to chic fashionistas, and this comes as no surprise. It’s also a finalist in the Wesbank SAGMJ South African Car of The Year 2017. Whether in R Line, Highline or Comfortline trim, the Tiguan is a handsome and sophisticated thing and adds some character to an otherwise bland and predictable segment. For Francisco’s long-term review of the Tiguan at launch, click here.

At launch, the only derivatives available were the 1.4 TSI motors in 90 kW and 110 kW guises. The rest of the range has now made its way here and along with the 2.0 TDI and 2.0 TSI motors, 4Motion AWD is now available. From launch, the Tiguan has offered an impressive package and that’s no different here with LED Headlights and Taillights, Sport-comfort seats, 3-zone Climatronic Climate Control, Ambient Lighting, 6.5” Composition Media, Silver anodised roof rails and 18” alloy wheels all featuring as standard fitment on 4Motion models. In terms of off-roading equipment, hill-descent control accompanies the usual ensemble of driving modes, namely ECO, Sport, Comfort and Individual. 4Motion Live has three 2 modes, Snow and Off-road mode, as well as an automatic setting which will select the most appropriate of the two depending on road conditions.

The R Line Package adds a sport suspension system, 20” alloy wheels, R-Line bumpers, side sills and wheel housing flaring, a body coloured rear spoiler and black headlining.

We were afforded the opportunity to sample both diesel and petrol models, each of which have a differing appeals and are all welcome additions to the Tiguan range.

With 162 kW and 350 N.m on tap, the 2.0 TSI model really is a wolf in wolfs clothing and unlike the previous generation Tiguan’s 2.0 TSI derivative now has the looks to go with the performance. Sprinting from 0-100 km/h in 6.5 seconds, this model exhibits impressive straight line speed, but where we were most surprised was in the bends where minimal body-roll and spot-on damping make for a truly thrilling and engaging driver’s car, something which we didn’t quite imagine from the Tiguan when we initially tested the 1.4 TSI models. Claimed combined average fuel consumption is 7.8 l/100km and pricing for the Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TSI 162 kW starts at R542 200.

The two diesels on offer are the more sensible options, both displacing 2.0-litres with outputs of 105 kW / 340 N.m and 130 kW / 380 N.m. with claimed consumption figures of 6.1 l/100km and 6.4 l/100km respectively. While you might not be surprising any GTI’s at the lights in the 2.0 TDI’s as you would in the 2.0 TSI, you will be impressed by how little engine noise enters the cabin, NVH is an area where VW has always excelled and the Tiguan benefits from this. In both states of tune, the 2.0 TDI motor offers maximum torque from just 1750 RPM which is useful for those who have large things to tow such as caravans, if you’re into that, and boats. Prices for the 2.0 TDI 105 kW Comfortline start at R523 800 and R549 500 for the 2.0 TDI 130 kW Highline.

The cabin is impeccably put together and is difficult to find fault with, and the same can be said for the 7-speed DSG to which all of these motors are matched. In fact, it is difficult to find fault with most of the vehicle, not even pricing as it is slightly cheaper and significantly nicer than all of its competitors.

A job well done to VW, then. Not only is the Tiguan the capable car that it always was, it is now one of the most desirable on the road.

Space With Your Pace – Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

Many moons ago, if you wanted space for your things, you needed a shooting-brake. Designed to cart Archibald, Terence the rest of the yoohoo brigade and all of their guns and dogs to and from their shoots, the shooting break was the epitome of utilitarian coolness with its space and pizazz. Then, for some odd reason, an unfortunate turn in the history books lead to the uprising of the station-wagon.  For those of us fortunate enough to have been given the gift of sight, though, the station-wagon was a bit of a conundrum because while it had all the space in the world for hoarders to return from antique fares with things that they didn’t need, they also had an aesthetic appeal somewhat akin to that of a hoarder. Dogs, guns and the idle rich were quickly replaced by Julia Roberts in waist-high denims and 2.4 vomiting children with the appeal of practical motoring just a glimmer on the horizon.

Right through all of this, though, hunting folk still needed to cart their hounds and rounds around so while numbers of shooting-brakes seemed to dwindle, coachbuilders, in the UK in particular, kept the art alive. Fast forward to the 21st century and now we are utterly spoilt for choice!

Station wagons are no longer ugly but, more importantly, the shooting brake is well and alive and Porsche have just pulled the covers of their much anticipated Panamera Sport Turismo.

Essentially a Panamera with a big booty, literally, the Sport Turismo shares its underpinnings with its rakish counterpart but now with added practicality. Not to say that the Panamera wasn’t already an appealing and practical thing, but now with an additional 20-litres of loading space, you can carry up to 1 390-litres of, well, anything really. The first Panamera to offer seating for 5 humans, the Sport Turismo boasts a 4+1 seating configuration which means that 4 adults and 1 smaller adult/child can experience one of the finest interiors ever to be found within a Porsche.

For those unable to manage their luggage compartments, a luggage compartment management system is available which comprises two rails integrated into the loading floor, four lashing points and a luggage compartment partition net.

A segment first, the Sport Turismo’s spoiler is of the adaptive kind and can be extended depending on the driving situation, generating up to 50 kg of additional downforce on the rear axle. Above 90 km/h when in Sport or Sport Plus, the roof spoiler automatically assumes the “performance position” which is a cool way of saying it moves by 1 degree. If not in either of these modes, “performance position” will automatically be assumed above 170 km/h. Cleverly, the roof spoiler is also able to alter its angle by anything up to 26 degrees in order to minimise wind noise when the Panamera’s panoramic sunroof is open – try saying that fast.

Five motors are available at launch with outputs ranging from 243 kW in the Panamera 4 Sport Tursimo to 404 kW in the Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo. Aside from the sea of test-units we have recently been spotting all over South Africa, expect to see the first units on our shores towards the end of 2017.

A Seven Year Project: Pagani Huayra Roadster

Give Horacio Pagani a wand and a robe and one could be forgiven for thinking that he is in fact a magical professor – what with his curvaceous silver locks and chiselled visage, he really does fit the role of Snape’s vertically challenged brother. However, with the unveiling of the Huayra Roadster, I am starting to question his muggleness more than ever…

Nothing could have quite prepared anybody for the sheer pornography that is the Huayra Roadster – from its squared off face to swishy bits above the taillights, it is a completely different box of frogs to the Huayra Coupe and that wasn’t exactly a Gremlin either.

Horacio himself recently described this project as having been the most difficult they have ever worked on, a statement which makes complete sense once you delve into what went into this work of art.

The project began in 2010 with the simple idea of creating a Huayra without a roof. Three years later, all the design work was scrapped and they began from scratch with the goal of creating a vehicle lighter than the Coupe still in mind.

Power comes from the M158 Twin Turbo V12 from Mercedes-AMG, built especially for Pagani and producing an immense 592 kW and over 1000 N.m from its 6.0-litres. All that torque is available, too, from just 2 400 RPM. This allows the Roadster to sprint to 100 km/h in under 3 seconds, obviously a relevant figure…

This power is fed through a new single-clutch automated manual transmission developed for the Huayra BC and while not as immediate as its double-clutch counterparts, its lightweight construction offsets the slower shift time allowing a better power-to-weight ratio than if a double-clutch unit were to be used. The gearbox is also mounted transversely which reduces the polar inertia of the vehicle, just in case you were wondering.

Most impressive, however, is that the Roadster is some 25% lighter than the Coupe, yet 50% more rigid. A feat like this is almost unheard of in the automotive sphere, especially when one considers just how wiggly a car becomes when its roof is removed.

Other highlights include special Pirelli tyres with Horacio’s initials on them (how ostentatious) new carbon-ceramic brakes, a new ESP system and two roofs – one a glass and carbon-fibre jobby which only fits into one orifice in the vehicle – the one above your head – and the other a tent which can quickly be erected in the event of sudden moisture.

Only 100 will be made and they have all been sold for a ridiculous outlay of $2.8 million Dollars.  I now urge you to zoom into these images and ogle at the attention to detail that has gone into this vehicle.

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Fuel Customs and the Original Fiat 500.

Rock up at a bar and tell a potential taker-home that you have a yellow Lamborghini in the parking lot and the first image to pop into their mind will probably be a small banana. Because it’s yellow, of course. Tell them that you have a Fiat 500, however and you needn’t try any harder, unless you have one of the newer ones. Then you shouldn’t be out in public, especially if it’s finished in hearing-aid brown. The original Fiat 500 just has an appeal unmatched by anything. Older Mini’s come close, but who’s likely to be more romantic, Archibald or Giuseppe?

Time for a history lesson:
Launched in 1957, the Fiat 500 was an immediate success and the answer to economical post-war mobility. You could also get a positively capacious station wagon one called the ‘Gardiniera’ which had a generous 10cm longer wheelbase than the ‘coupe’. Between 1957 and 1975, nearly 4 million units were produced. Clearly a popular car then, but this comes as no surprise. Thanks to its clever packaging, it was both puny and practical. Three motors were available during the 18 years of the Cinquecento’s production – all air-cooled, rear mounted and varying in displacement from 479cc to 594cc. Ranging between 9.7kW and 17kW, these motors weren’t exactly powerful, but then again they only had to cart around 500kg’s. 500cc’s, 500kg and 500 seconds to 100km/h (not really).

The original 1957 model was called the Nuova 500 with the 500 D, 500 F, 500 L and 500 R being introduced throughout the vehicle’s lifespan. Changes included the addition of a sunroof, ashtrays, washer fluid pump and a few exterior trim and panel changes. In certain years, the engines also saw slight changes but the most significant changes were the omission of the suicide doors for the 1965 ‘F’ model in favour of safer and more conventional front-hinged doors and the addition of a synchromesh gearbox in 1972 for the ‘R’ model.

Now, before you curse the fact that you’ve paid for a history lesson or turn over to our exciting review of Volkswagen’s new Tiguan, this is where the good stuff starts!

Fuel Customs:
In the heart of Sandton’s industrial hub, Wynberg, is a remarkable operation by the name of FUEL Customs. Here, a fellow with an impressive moustache, Trevor Woolfson, along with Louw Du Toit and Devon Randall give ‘romantics’ a new lease on life and gosh they are good at what they do, restoring Fiat 500’s to ‘better than new’ condition, usually to a customer’s spec. Leather seats, disk brakes and significantly more reliable engines, albeit original, are a few of the magical goodies they bestow upon these charming vehicles. Trevor and Louw manage the bodywork and interiors and Devon the engines.

 

After an expertly brewed cappuccino amongst their ‘ready for delivery’ vehicles, Trevor gave me a full tour of their small but efficient operation.

“This is our scrapyard” he remarks while gesturing at the pile of Lotus 7, Alfa Romeo Spider, Fiat 500, Abarth 600 and BMW E9 or ‘Batmobile’. Quite the scrapyard if you ask me. Talking me through the acquisition process, he explains that if they see a 500, they buy it. They’re rare as hen’s teeth these days so they’re snapped up at every opportunity and even in scrap condition, they’re still worth a pretty penny at around R50 000 a pop but you can’t really put a price on a legacy like the 500’s.

Using two different projects as a comparison, one in seemingly ‘good’ condition and the other so rusty it looks like a turd, he explains that the turd is in fact in better condition, despite its ‘cancerous rust’. A saddening occurrence that they encounter far too often are vehicles which are half-heartedly restored or patched up with more polyfiller than a celeb’s face, often badly too. This makes for tricky restoration work and hides many gremlins, especially the aforementioned rust. In this case, body panels are just replaced as it works out far more cost and time effective to just import and replace.

We then move on to a Fiat 600 (they do a few of these too) where he explains that again, rather than trying to patch up someone else’s shoddy electrical job, it’s better to just replace the lot. “The whole idea of these cars is that they’re meant to be used so there’s no point in compromising on quality, a mistake which will most certainly come back to haunt in the future.” explains Trevor.

Speaking of quality, the attention to detail which is paid right through the entire restoration process is truly phenomenal. Nearly all of the parts are either imported from Italy or fabricated in-house so as to achieve an almost 100% original product.

We then take a quick jaunt out the back of the workshop where in-amongst a row of pending projects sits a newly re-welded shell of a 500, on its roof. Nearly all of the body panels on this particular model have been replaced and it is plain to see that this car has probably seen more licks of paint than the podium of a stripper-pole – another previously-rushed job.

Back in the workshop, we make our way along the end of their production line. One of the vehicles is perched up on a jack with its wheels off, allowing me to catch a glimpse at the meticulous installation of the disc brakes. Also imported from Italy, the setup is designed specifically for the 500 and allows for a safer and more modern system to be installed, without detracting from the overall experience. Once the wheels are back on the vehicle, there is no visible difference to an original with its flaccid drum-brakes.

All in all, these vehicles can take up to 4 months to complete with prices for a fully-specced (no lane-keep here, sorry) Fiat 500 nearing the R400 000 mark. Pricey, yes, but worth every penny and far cheaper than a banana mobile or an Air-Max and gold-chain magnet (that other famous Italian brand).

Trevor explains that customer colour preference is rather interesting and usually comes in waves. “A client will walk in and see a finished red car, and he’ll want a red car. Another client will then spec a green one, only for the client after him to see that green one and then want a green one.” People want what they can see and this I can understand because wow would I love to own one of these. FUEL are to the 500 what Singer are to the 911 – true artists.

As well as the Fiats, FUEL also work on slightly smaller restoration products which take between 3 and 4 weeks to complete. Also in the workshop during my visit were 2 Alfa Romeo Spiders, one a Duetto, an Imperial Maroon Jaguar Mark 2, a Mercedes-Benz W123 which looked factory fresh, a Sunbeem Alpine and an Alfa Romeo 156 with its ‘Busso’ V6 on full display! As if these weren’t eye candy enough, a clutch of Vespa’s could also be found next to all of this, fitting as that’s where both Trevor and Louw’s routes lie. They’ve now been running FUEL for the past 2 years and share their premises with Devon who operates under the name ‘Performance Racing Developments’.

Other interesting finds in the workshop were an incredibly valuable Fiat 600 Multipla (not as eye-searingly ugly as the repugnant, modern-day interpretation) and a tastefully restored 1969 ‘Bullnose’ Mini, complete with racing seats and a 2.0-litre 16-Valve Toyota motor, scary stuff!

The costs involved in running an operation such as this are eye-watering, complete with body shop, spray booth, scrapyard and delivery bay, but with die-hard petrolheads Trevor, Louw and Devon at the helm, FUEL Customs represents the pinnacle of restoration through passion. Go and check them out on Andries Street in Wynberg, just a stone’s throw from Sandton. Their coffee is good, too!

 

Fuel Customs

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