If you old enough to remember the origins of the Mercedes-Benz Viano you’ll understand the all-important 3.0V6 CDI model. Back in the day, 150kW was more than plenty for a van. It made the V6 excellent candidate for the “get out of my way” double flash in the right lane with 440Nm and more mid-range punch than a decently trained boxer. Fast forward to the present day, the V300d aims to return this feeling to the many families and through no fault of its own, tender-entrepreneurs that eat the backwards-facing seats and a mobile business class lounge travel up.
The key change to the V300d is the replacement of the powerplant, with the brilliant but aged 2.1litre Turbodiesel being swapped out for the more modern 2.0Litre Turbodiesel from the E-Class. Offering 176Kw and 500Nm the 2.1Ton van will accelerate from 0-100 in 8.5 seconds and top out at 215Km/h. These are numbers that would scare any Kia Picanto out of the right lane in a hurry.
With seating for 8 in standard guise, the v300d comes standard with LED intelligent lighting, 19-inch alloy wheels two-zone (front and rear ) Climatronic climate control, satellite navigation, Parktronic Park Distance Control, and multi-function steering wheel. The Exclusive model gains additional creature comforts such as Distronic adaptive cruise control, 360-degree camera and a full length sliding Panoramic sunroof.
Mercedes-Benz V Class in South Africa
The V Class range consists of the Avantgarde, Avantgarde AMG Line and Exclusive trim levels with the option of V200d, V220d, V250D and the V300d range topper.
Inclusive of PremiumDrive maintenance plan that covers a contribution maintenance plan during the first five years / 100 000 km. V200d – R977 913 V220d – R1 022 382 V200d AMG Line – R1 046 177 V220d AMG Line – R1 090 646 V250d – R1 099 606 V250d AMG Line – R1 167 870 V220d Avantgarde – R1 335 144 V250d Avantgarde – R1 382 928 V220d Avantgarde AMG Line – R1 388 785 V250d Avantgarde AMG Line – R1 436 569 V300d – R1 440 203 V300d Avantgarde AMG Line – R1 515 183 V300d Exclusive – R1 645 880
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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:
The creme de la creme of motor vehicles, you don’t get better than a Rolls-Royce. It falls into the same category as the private jet in air travel or the luxury yacht that parks off at Clifton beach. So when TheMotorist was offered the chance to sample the best that money can buy in the ultra luxury segment, we looked forward to experiencing what it feels like to be part of the one percent.
The Rolls-Royce Dawn was the variant we had the keys to and that said vehicle has an approximate price tag of R10m. Yes, for that kind of money expectations are high. A buyer of such a car demands the best in comfort and quality on the road. That buyer expects unrivaled luxury and prestige, but even then, does all that which comes with owning such a car justify the cost?
For starters, there certainly isn’t anything like this on the road. It’s distinctively long bonnet and large square face, (all centered by the Spirit of Ecstasy) give the Dawn a look that’s hard to miss. When driving this vehicle or even being a passenger, you feel like you own every square cm of tarmac that you grace with your presence. You will have no problem then committing minor road offenses, such as cutting in front of people in traffic. When you do, no one even questions your actions. The rich really do have it good. It’s quite a pleasant experience really, because instead of the usual middle finger protruding from the driver’s side window, many attempt a wave similar to that of the Queen herself. Charming.
The exquisite exterior styling and design of the Dawn is rather elegant yet simple. It doesn’t shout with crazy lines, noises or colors like a supercar, because it doesn’t need to. It’s like a work of art – the epitome of class.
The team discussed the fact that whatever car parks next to the Dawn at a traffic light, be it a Ferrari or even a Maybach, the Rolls-Royce trumps it, every time. It would have to be a very special car to take attention off the Dawn. In terms of luxury, not much comes close.
The interior really is a sight to behold, soft cream leather covers most surfaces and the Rolls we drove had an optional wood finish called “Canadel”. It was designed to give the effect that you were aboard a luxury yacht. The result is a very modern and chic appearance, created by merging metal, leather and wood. The subtle trimmings in the vehicle are sublime, from the glass numbered buttons used for selecting radio stations, to lambswool carpets so thick that you can run your hands through them like a L’oreal shampoo advert.
Our favourite feature on the Dawn however is the doors. They open in the opposite direction to a normal vehicle, meaning that the hinges are behind the passengers, rather than in front of them. Closing the doors happens at the touch of the button, with motors bringing the doors in and closing them for you as you maintain a blasé look as if it’s the norm.
This design of the doors is actually ingenious. We all know that when exiting a vehicle one sometimes knocks the lower door panels or sills with their feet. With this design though, that problem is totally eliminated, thus leaving your perfectly chromed door-sills unscuffed. Entering and exiting the car is a much easier experience.
From our personal experience, we have never felt road comfort like we did in the Rolls-Royce Dawn. It felt like the suspension had been replaced with large bubbles as we floated merrily on our way. When the throttle was applied, one doesn’t think that powering the vehicle is a 6.6L V12 engine because the throttle response isn’t sharp, it’s not supposed to be. The power is fed in smoothly, allowing the car to comfortably gain speed. If you think the V12 is a loud, gurgling, fuel eating monster, you would be wrong. It’s a silent fuel eating monster. When the taps are opened from standstill, the Dawn will hurry along from 0-100km/h in just 4.9 seconds, which is impressive for a 3 tonne car. The same goes for the braking system, it feels different to other luxury vehicles. Whatever the speed, it comes to a completely smooth stop, almost as though it is tempering the brakes for you. Performance is not the reason why you buy a Rolls though, you buy a Rolls for luxury, heritage and status.
The transmission has a feature which is definitely worth noting, it uses satellite maps to read the road ahead. For example, If a sharp hill is upcoming, the Dawn recognises this and automatically selects the lower gear just in time. It will then save this information for the next time the car travels on that route. The benefit of this is a seamless ride at all times, with reduced lag in engine and gearbox response.
The transmission has a feature which is definitely worth nothing, it uses satellite maps to read ahead. For example, If a sharp hill is upcoming, the Dawn recognises this and automatically selects the lower gear just in time. The Rolls-Royce Dawn will then save this information for the next time the car travels on that route. The benefit of this is a comfortable and pleasant ride at all times, with no lag in engine or gearbox response.
So, is the Rolls-Royce Dawn worth its price tag?
In short, yes. Don’t get us wrong, the Rolls-Royce Dawn is not perfect. For example, the rear seats of the vehicle. The seating position and seats themselves are not as comfortable as the front seats and are noticeably firmer. Understandably, this is not a Ghost so rear seating is not a priority. The infotainment system is based on the BMW system and it feels a little dated compared to other luxury vehicles. But these minor things won’t deter someone looking for a car like this because from the driver’s perspective, it’s difficult to fault.
A Rolls-Royce client is not just paying for an ultra-luxury car, they are also paying for the brand and the exclusivity that comes with it. Only the wealthiest own Rolls-Royces, and they are priced accordingly.
In recent times with the Mercedes-Maybach revival, those cars may one day step on the toes of the fabled British brand. For now, though, very few cars are at the level of a new Rolls-Royce. The brand stands on its own, a level above everything else.
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.
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.
Like cars, cell phones are constantly being changed and upgraded with names like “S” and “Edge” being added to the end. So one can’t help but ask if these changes are really worth replacing the current phone with the new one. This has just happened with the new iPhone 6S. So is the S any different to the current one?
What has changed?
A lot. Firstly they have changed the glass of the phone, making it stronger to avoid those “night- out” breaks that leave your phone looking like Spiderman webbed it. Secondly it’s faster, it has a 64bit chip that makes the phone 70% faster at CPU tasks and 90% faster at graphics task. So hopefully gone will be the days of playing hang-man with your iPhone as you look at a bitten apple whilst the phone reboots. Thirdly, the Touch ID has been upgraded too, giving a faster response to the finger.
Wait, there’s more…
The two biggest new features on the new iPhone 6S is the camera and a new feature called 3D Touch. Let’s start with the camera, it’s a 12MP camera that can shoot in 4K (YES 4K!!!) and the front camera is a 5MP that is made specifically for FaceTime (long distance relationships ftw). There is a nifty feature called Live-Photo which allows a normal photo to show movement in it when pressure is applied to it.
3D Touch is a game changer as it is an entirely new feature which allows you to do more on your phone through by applying pressure on the screen. For instance you can preview an image by applying pressure on it to show it in full screen, when you let go the image will go back to it’s normal size. Or on your home screen when pressure is applied to the screen, more options are populated the same way right clicking on a mouse does on a PC. This feature can be used in various apps on the phone as a multi-tasking tool. From a software point the new iPhone 6S uses IOS9 which is obviously the best IOS currently.
If you’re someone who is technology crazy, it’s obviously worth the upgrade. The new features will definitely be useful to you. From a performance perspective too, having a faster phone is always better than a slower one, especially if your current iPhone is prone to hanging. If you’re about to upgrade, wait for the iPhone 6S to hit South Africa. The iPhone 6S will be available in the normal size and the Plus version too. If you’ve just gotten into a current iPhone 6, be happy with what you have because you can’t keep up anyway.
Road-tripping shouldn’t affect your feet if you have the right shoes.
If you asked many people what are their favourite driving shoes, the Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars will definitely make the top 5 list. In our opinion, a good driving shoe needs to provide comfort but should not create a feeling of detachment between the driver and the foot pedals of the car. This is especially the case in a car fitted with a manual transmission. The driver needs to feel involved in the process, having full control of the vehicle. The Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars iconic shape has not changed but the way the shoe is made has been updated to give you a more comfortable shoe to wear, walk, party and drive in.
The Chuck Taylor 2’s are fitted with a Lunarlon Sockliner which gives added cushioning and support so your feet can go on for longer. The shoe is also fitted with a padded Non-Slip tongue which is great because there is nothing more annoying than the tongue of a high top moving around all the time. The inside lining of the shoe as well as the canvas has also been strengthened to be more durable so that your Chuck’s can last you longer. You know you have a winning shoe if you don’t have to change the design radically in decades. So next time you’re about to go road tripping, get your self a set of Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars 2’s for a comfortable ride.