Category: Latest News

Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI R Line – First Drive

Rewind 20 years and anyone claiming to have had a vehicle with a 1.0 – litre 3-cylinder motor producing 81 kW and 200 N.m would have been labelled a madman. If they were to continue, stating that this revolutionary vehicle would sip just 4.4 l/100km and exhibit refinement to match the then contemporary E39 5 Series, the automotive community would have locked them away in a Corolla in solitary confinement until they came around.

Having now grown accustomed to the trend of downsizing, most of the above doesn’t really come as a surprise to both the public and motoring scribes alike. What does come as somewhat of a surprise is that the vehicle boasting all of the above figures isn’t even a brand new vehicle, but rather an updated version of a car that’s been on sale in South Africa for the past 8 years. There’s no denying that the Volkswagen Polo is the most impressive vehicle within its segment and now it has been given quite a nice little final hoorah if you will.

Its full name is the Polo 1.0 TSI R-Line and it features VW’s hugely impressive 3-cylinder 1.0-litre unit, mated to the 7-Speed DSG gearbox we’ve come to know and love. Along with its the drivetrain, the Polo has also been visually tweaked with a smattering of R-Line goodness in the shape of R-Line design front and rear bumpers, R-Line sill extensions, a rear diffuser, chrome exhaust tip and 17” alloys. 8 years on, the Polo is still a handsome thing and while the interior on this model is much the same as the rest of the range, it remains a superlative example of build quality and tactile pleasure.

Set to make its way into a number of VW Group Products, the 1.0-litre unit features active balancing shafts which cancel out the inherent vibrations within a 3-cylinder motor. It’s a very smooth unit which delivers maximum torque from just 2 000 rpm.  Due it being lighter than the locally produced 1.2-litre unit alongside which it is offered, it’s a free-revving and spritely motor and is surprisingly characterful thanks to the triple thrum emanating from behind the bulkhead. A claimed consumption of just 4.4 l/100km is 0.5 l/100km less than that of the 1.2-litre motor, yet 25 N.m more torque is on offer.

While pottering around town, the low-down torque and the slickness of the DSG transmission really do make it all a bit effortless and brisk bursts between traffic lights actually bring a smile to one’s face. Dynamically, the chassis handles the twisties with aplomb and the sometimes rough and constantly undulating roads along our test route in the countryside of Port Elizabeth were where the Polo did better than expected. Its high-speed stability is far superior to that of its competitors and again, this is all thanks to a well-sorted chassis and incredible refinement, as well as the use of Volkswagen’s XDS Electronic locking diff which you can certainly feel doing its bit in the corners and comes as standard on this model. If I were to briefly sum up how the Polo drives, I would have to say that it is confidence inspiring and effortless, and can be different things to different people. The R-Line package adds an impressive duality to the Polo in that it can be sporty and playful if that’s what you ask of it, as well is comfortable and docile if its economy and a leisurely drive you’re after.

Other standard features include the usual raft of safety features, rest assist, 4 airbags (6 optional), air-conditioning, multi-function steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, sports seats with drawers beneath them and a front-centre armrest with storage compartment.

Priced at R290 200, it comes in at the same price as the already available 1.2 TSI Highline Auto but offers a different box of frogs to that vehicle. Yes, it is rather pricey, but you certainly get your money’s worth – just remember that if you were to tell someone in 1998 that your Polo would be able to match their 523i in all but size and thirstiness, it’d be back to the Corolla for you!

Say Hello to the new AMG-43’S

The 43 series in Mercedes-AMG’s line up has proven to be a popular engine choice for those who want a little more performance than a non AMG variant can provide, but are not yearning for a fire-breathing AMG-63, we can call this the middle ground.

If you didn’t know, the middle ground provides some nice numbers, 270 kW and 520 N.m to be exact from a 3-litre V6. Power is delivered through a Nine-speed gearbox and Mercedes’ four wheel drive system. Jokes, aside, it is a great setup and Mercedes-Benz have now added the AMG-43 variant to a number of models.

The 43 series is now available for the C-Class Coupe and Cabriolet, as well as the GLC and GLC Coupe, GLE and GLE Coupe and finally, the SLC Roadster.

All the 43 Series models can expect AMG sports suspension as standard in the shape of Air Body Control. They will all, bar the SLC,  feature a 4MATIC system with 61% percent of the power being delivered to the rear axle. Further to this, the AMG sports braking system,  AMG Dynamic Select and sports exhaust system are all fitted as standard.

The AMG-43 series is a great option for those wanting a taste of the AMG experience. As always, when we get behind the wheel of these machines, we will post a full driven review. For more latest news on cars in South Africa, visit our Latest News section.

 

Pricing is as follows:

           Mercedes-AMG C 43 4Matic sedan – R858,400

           Mercedes-AMG C 43 4Matic coupé – R928,100

           Mercedes-AMG C 43 4Matic cabriolet – R1,050,300

           Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 roadster – R1,037,400

           Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 4MATIC – R960,400

           Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 4MATIC Coupé – R1,070,900

           Mercedes-AMG GLE 43 4MATIC – R1,206,700

           Mercedes-AMG GLE 43 4MATIC Coupé – R1,297,500

On a roll: Volvo’s new XC60 revealed.

The new era Volvo’s has already managed to revitalise the brand, making them no longer cars that appeal to a specific group of people.  The edgy designs of the XC90 and newly launched S90 both inside and out have proved that Volvo means business. These cars though are not the most important Volvo’s in the stable, rather the smaller XC60 has been the glory child for the brand. With over one million units sold globally since 2008, it’s safe to say the outgoing XC60 was a hit. The new version will hopefully be a worthy follow up. If it’s anything like its siblings, we’re confident that current Volvo owner s will love it, as well as newer and younger audiences.

The new XC60 carries on the simplicity of the new Volvos, with its engine line up. A variety of 2 litre petrol and diesel engines will be on offer. For those looking for a faster XC60, you’ll be happy to know that the T8 twin engine variant will be offered, packing a healthy 300kW of electric and petrol power.

For diesel lovers, the D5 has not been left out, giving you 173kW and PowerPulse technology.  Power aside, a Volvo would not be a Volvo without safety being at the forefront of its design. Technologies we’ve come to know such as City Safety will make their way into the new XC60, only this time there will be an added Steer Assist feature. The awesome Pilot Assist will definitely not be left out, allowing the driver to experience  a semi-autonomous mode until 130km/h.

Aesthetic appeal of the new XC60 is obviously subjective but we think it maintains the modern loveliness of current Volvos of today. It may not be the prettiest as the XC90 is stunning, but it sure is handsome. Seeing  the new XC60 live will be the determining factor as the S90 was a huge surprise because it looks much more stately in the flesh. Stay tuned to hear more developments around this car in the future, as it will be very relevant for its segment.

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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A New Level Of Luxury: The Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman

As you may know, Mercedes and Maybach has re-joined forces to create cars of extreme luxury and customisation for a special type of customer. Over the past year they have released some exquisite vehicles. Earlier this week, Mercedes-Maybach released the G 650 Landaulet, which you can read about here, and now another model has arrived.

I would like to introduce to you the Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman, a longer limousine styled S-Class. The Pullman is not a new vehicle, it has been around for 90 years but of recent times, had disappeared until now.

The Pullman is a very long vehicle. At 6.5 metres it is 125cm longer than the S-Class long wheel base, 105cm longer than a Mercedes-Maybach S600 and is 41cm longer than a Rolls Royce Phantom LWB. This is a car doused in luxury. Many features on this car would be an optional extra on a standard S-Class, but not with the Pullman. For instance, it provides features such as the PartitionWall with Electrochromatic glass, the refrigerated compartment and the centre console featuring four champagne flutes.

Power closing doors are also standard, along with power curtains, a Burmester 3D surround sound system and the panoramic roof with sky control, once again Electrochromatic. The occupants can choose to have the glass transparent or blue. Further to this and as expected, is a full rear entertainment system featuring an 18.5 inch power retracting flat screen. And if it’s not all play and you need to do business during your travels in the Pullman, stow away tables are also included.

The Pullman can also seat four occupants in the rear with two electronic controlled seats becoming available in a conference type rear facing fashion. When these are not needed, they can be electronically reclined to provide even more space.


 Customisation

With almost everything you could image in a luxury car as standard, what is optional? Well for one, you can change the wheels, for £10 000. But that is just scratching the surface, you can request your Mercedes-Maybach Pullman in any exterior colour you like.  For example, you can have the colour of your Maybach to match your spouses eyes, if you wish. Not bad for £5k. On the inside, Mercedes-Maybach do offer a range of different and more expensive leathers, but they also state that virtually any other leather or colour is available.

Your personal family crest or initials are also available to have stitched or embossed into the seats, or other areas by luxury craftsman. Mercedes state that with this vehicle, anything the customer requires they can have, such as an additional fridge, a walk through centre console or even lambskin floor mats.


The Mercedes-Maybach Pullman is clearly an ultra luxury vehicle for a very select person. It reminds me of how we don’t just have super cars now, we have hyper cars. The Pullman is a hyper luxury car and Rolls Royce should be worried.

How’s it’s made?

To order a Pullman, you first need to order a Mercedes-Maybach S600. This is the donor car, many parts such as the engine and other interior components are used. Mercedes don’t state exactly how it is done, but they do say that it’s not cut in half and stretched, but built on an individual platform.

Power train and Performance

The Pullman uses the V12 Twin Turbo, producing 390kw or 530bhp. This is a lower output then other Mercedes vehicles that use the same engine and is probably for safety, due to the size of the vehicle. Torque is also down at 830Nm,but still quite plenty. The Pullman weighs in at just over 3 tonnes, but will still do 0-100km/h in around 6.5 seconds, delivered though an automatic 7G gearbox.

Price

If your wondering if you can stretch the budget this year, here is the price. £522,000. Yes that is in English pounds. So with today’s exchange rate of R16.5, that puts this car at over R8 million. Yikes.

 

If you don’t know what to do with your money, we have just the car for you.

If you don’t know what to do with your money, we have just the car for you.

Mercedes-Maybach is the brand of choice when you want something utterly lavish. If it’s not limousines they’re supplying then its drop top G-Classes. What!? Yes, you read correctly. If you have enough money you can get a drop top G Class! If the current G-Class range was not braggadocios enough with its exhausts on the side, you can now get it without a roof. What a time to be alive.  This is the first Mercedes-Maybach SUV to be created and what a way to make an entrance.

Being the owner of a car like this means you’ll have something super exclusive as only 99 of these models will be made. The name of this convertible G Class is the G650 Landaulet, which means “a car with a folding hood over the rear seats.” The G650 is powered by a V12 engine so you can only imagine the kind of power this tank will have. If you really want to know you’ll have 463kW (620bhp) and 1000Nm at your disposal. Not too shabby huh?

This car only seats four, so you’ll have to pick your friends wisely. Those you choose to ride with you will want to sit in the back as the Landaulet has S-Class seats in the rear. If your occupants are thirsty, they can use the individual cup holders which can either cool or heat a drink up. How insane? But wait there’s more, the rear seats also have their own table and a business console which has controls for you to operate the glass partition that can separate the rear of the car and front. Last but not least there are two monitors in the rear and a feature called the G Cockpit which operates various features like the soft top mechanism.

This is not the first Landaulet created by Mercedes as they have been other types of this car in the past. One thing is for sure, there hasn’t been one with this kind of glamour in it. The funny thing about this car is that it can still off road like any other G-Class, you’ll simply be more stylish as you do it a G650 Landaulet. With 450mm of ground clearance you’ll be able to look down on the peasants in their cheap 4×4’s as you drinks are kept cold and your V12 sings your praises. Oh, how we wish we owned a mine or something that will give us many millions. Even if we did, as South Africans the G650 will not be available here. No worries then, we would park it in our Monaco home.

Updated Mazda BT-50

Mazda’s goal when they first introduced the BT-50 was to supply with South Africa with a lifestyle vehicle, which would appeal to business users but also a wider range of customers, those such as families and adventurers.

This is where the Bakkie market has changed over recent years, they are not only designed with the primary function of a workhorse vehicle. Bakkies today are more stylish, with more features and technology to appeal to a wider audience, the surfers, climbers, hikers of this world Or the camping family who ventures off to various places of our beautiful country.

In light of this,  Mazda has released the updated BT-50, and it’s aimed at the recreational type of buyer.

Exterior

As with most updated vehicles, the updated BT-50 has a sportier look and feel, the major changes to the Mazda include the front end, side steps, rear lights and 17” Aluminium wheels.

Personally, I’m not yet a big fan of the rear end, and we all know how important that this. My biggest grind is with the rear lights, I do not like the design and style, but maybe it will grow on me.

Interior

Technology is the biggest change here with the BT-50, on the base SLX Model options such as Bluetooth, steering wheel controls and cruise control has been added.  The SLE Models have even greater technology enhancements with options such as a rear-view camera, auto dimming mirror, electric seat adjustment, dual zone aircon, auto headlights, rain sensing wipers and parking sensors added to the standard list. The top of the range SLE models adds features such as Load Adaptive Control, Hill Launch, Decent Control, Trailer Sway and Rollover Mitigation.

Drivetrain 

The 2.2l Mazda engines in this range produce 110KW (147BHP) and 375Nm of Torque. If this is not enough, you can opt for the 3.2L engine with provides 147kw (196BHP) and 470Nm of torque.

Models

All models come with  3-year unlimited KM warranty, 3 – year service plan and 3-year roadside assistance.

BT-50 DBL 2.2L 6MT 4X2 HR SLX 441,600

BT-50 DBL 2.2L 6MT 4X2 HR SLE 477,700

BT-50 DBL 2.2L 6AT 4X2 HR SLE 497,700

BT-50 DBL 3.2L 6MT 4X4 HR SLE 541,700

BT-50 DBL 3.2L 6AT 4X4 HR SLE  555,700

For a full spec list, visit here:  http://www.mazda.co.za/cars/mazda-bt50-facelift/

Porsche’s acquired taste is back

Let’s be honest, for many a Porsche is on their bucket list of cars to own. As a result this has caused people to work hard in order to reach this goal. Reaching this goal usually takes time, unless you’re one of those IT geniuses who develops an app and sells it for millions after a year. If not and you go through the “usual” route to find monetary success, chances are you’ll be closer to middle aged when you can afford a new Porsche. The problem with that is that by the time you’re financially able to buy the car, you may have little things called children. Those things take up space, so your dream of owning a 911 can quickly be dashed. Do you then settle for a Cayenne? Possibly, but there is another option,  the Panamera.

When the Panamera first launched, people didn’t know what to do with themselves. Their facial expressions resembled those of people who had just eaten caviar for the first time, or Bovril. The majority of people thought the car was hideous. That being said, the cars sold very well around the world. Perhaps the looks grew on us? Personally we feel any large car will look terrible if it’s not specified correctly. A basic Panamera with small wheels is not a thing of beauty. Throw in some large wheels to fill the arches and the GTS package styling, then you’ve got something that looks great. Why are we telling you this though? Well the acquired taste is back, and it’s bigger and better. 30mm longer and 5mm wider to be exact.

Aesthetically the car has the same overall shape as before but it’s become sleeker. There is a kink in the rear that separates the boot from the overall body, making it seem less station wagon-like. The design lines are sharper and more defined and much more modern altogether. The headlights remind us of the the Porsche 918 Spyder, with the rear looking more like the current 911 range. Nine models are available ranging from the base Panamera to the the Panamera Turbo Executive. The entry point Panamera features a 3.0 litre Turbocharged V6 (243kW/450Nm), with the S  variant featuring a 2.9 litre Twin-Turbo V6 (324kW/550Nm). The big boy Turbo Executive will give you a 4.0 litre Twin Turbo engine producing 404kW and a whopping  770Nm. All models have an Executive variant which is 15cm longer, making it the Panamera you get chauffeured in should you feel inclined.

The new Panamera has one of the nicest interiors in its segment. With the correct options ticked, you can have a tech-fest in the car that combines class and sportiness. For instance there is a rear touch-screen that will control the 4-Zone climate control. You have the option of Bose or Burmester sound systems and you can have the sporty 911-esque seats too, as well as rear entertainment. As we mentioned, choosing the right exterior options on your Panamera is a must. Small wheels are no no, whereas the larger wheels are a big yes. The car also has a James Bond like rear wing that presents itself at speed. As it lifts, it has two pieces that become one, instantly making you look cooler than your non Panamera driving friends.

Like caviar, the Panamera will always be that love/hate car. Which is good because you don’t want anyone to feel “meh” about your vehicle, so those who don’t like it can jump. Porsche doesn’t really care we can imagine, as long as people are buying, they’re happy. This new Panamera is bound to be a bigger success than the previous model because it looks much better and it’s a Porsche after all. It’s a bucket list car remember?

Mercedes-Benz Straight Six Engines Are Back

In days gone by, Mercedes-Benz were the last word in refinement. Silky smooth straight sixes were the order of the day and while slightly less practical to package than a V6 motor of equivalent capacity, the inherent benefits of a straight six over a V6 made it worth the long bonnet. Because people hate long bonnets.

It would seem, however, that BMW are the only big manufacturer to produce straight six motors these days. Ford Australia did for a while, but they don’t exist anymore and neither do TVR…

This is strange because while a V6 motor makes packaging a breeze thanks to its compact dimensions, it becomes very complicated due to the inherent vibration issues caused by two banks of cylinders with yaw moments on different axis. Balancing shafts can easily cancel out these vibrations but this means that more inertial mass is required to spin the engine – ie: you need more power.

The great news, then, is that Mercedes-Benz are back on the straight-six train as announced towards the end of 2016 and the new M256 promises to be a powerhouse of note. A part of their new range of modular engines, the new six will arrive alongside petrol and diesel straight-fours, straight-sixes and a petrol V8. They all have identical bore spacing and interfaces to vehicle which cuts production costs.

Back to the M256, it features a host of new technology, most notable of which is the Inline Starter Generator or ‘ISG’. The ISG is a 15kW electric motor which drives the crankshaft, starts the internal combustion engine when start/stop is enabled, recovers energy during coasting and braking and acts as a generator for the 12v electrical system. It can also reduce the load on the engine which aids performance and economy.

It is also part of the 48v electrical system which comprises an electric air-conditioning compressor, electric auxiliary compressor and electric water pump which means there is no need for a belt-driven accessory drive. This means that engine length is reduced which, as I have already mentioned, causes packaging issues with the straight-six motor.

Another brilliant up-side to the whole electrification thing is that the 48v compressor is essentially a supercharger which doesn’t have a parasitic effect on the combustion engine. So at low RPM’s, the compressor kicks in and provides boost up until the big exhaust driven turbo kicks in. Expect figures of around 304 kW (407bhp) and 501 N.m and remarkable efficiency, we hope.

Expect to see this exciting new motor in the updated Mercedes-Benz S-Class before trickling down into the rest of the Mercedes-Benz stable.