Anybody who knows me will know what I think of the BMW M5 – it’s flipping marvellous! With each generation, BMW has managed to wow the world with one marvel or another, be it the fastest saloon in the world, a V10 for the whole family to enjoy or independent throttle butterflies for each cylinder. If none of this enough, one just has to look at the past 5 M5’s, each of which has had a completely different appeal but with the same core ingredients – four doors, lots of power, delicious balance and rear-wheel drive.
So you can imagine the absolute chaos amongst the M5 die-hards when BMW announced that the F90 generation would feature all-wheel drive. Cue the pitchforks. But not all is lost…
Dubbed M xDrive, it works in conjunction with the DSC system to allow for 5 different setups when combining either DSC on, MDM and DSC off with 4WD, 4WD Sport and 2WD. Yes, you can have 2WD only #relief.
Connected to whichever assortment of wheels you choose is the latest version of the now familiar S63B44 twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8, now churning out over 450 kW and 700 N.m. All this power to all four wheels should result in 0-100km/h in the region of 3.5 seconds and brutal in-gear acceleration. Controversially, and there’s always controversy with an M-car, the F90 will only come with a ZF 8-Speed automatic. Yes, that’s right, a torque converter. Automatic gearboxes are so slick these days that the added production and maintenance costs of a dual-clutch system are no longer necessary in order get the required performance. M-DCT systems are known for overheating after a few full-bore launches but there’s no need to worry now thanks to the inherent strength of a torque converter setup.
What will it look like? A 5 Series with a big chin and four exhaust tips. What will it cost? Many many of your Rands. Will it be worth it? You bet your aunt Felicia.
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:
Hermanus is a beautiful seaside town with a vast mammal filled ocean on one side and towering mountains on the other. Between us at Cape Town International Airport and Hermanus, though, was a driving route that involved great sections of tar, with long swooping bends, twists and turns. A fitting location, then, for the launch of the all-new Audi A5 and S5 Coupe.
The original A5 launched back in 2008 and it had a unique look with its tornado line running down the full length of the vehicle. The 2017 Audi A5 is still very recognizable as an A5, but does feature very nice enhancements in the design area. The Tornado line for example, is more defined and the headlights feature a sharper design with the “four eyes” to represent quattro. These headlights sit above a larger, flatter grill and below a bonnet which has large grooves, emphasizing its sportiness.
Audi have a new design philosophy which is inspired by the Audi prologue concept car. We have seen elements of this being introduced in recent models such as the Q2 and now the A5. One nod to this design language is flared wheel arches and larger rear shoulders, and we can see this in the 2017 models.
The interior has also undergone some refinement. I have always enjoyed Audi’s simplistic and uncomplicated style with regards to interior design and this is no different with the new A5. The dashboard features a horizontal design which gives the cabin a very spacious feel and as always, the centre console features controls for audio, navigation and the like. This console also features the drive selector, which one can only describe as looking like the thrust control in a jet – its large, bulky and fits in the hand nicely, giving a very commanding feel.
View 360 Images of the interior below. We apologize for the quality, as the light was extremely poor.
In the design area then, the Audi A5 has undergone many refinements resulting in a big improvement. Another area in which the 2017 A5 has improved is in the powertrain department, with the latest engines now producing 17% more power with a 22% reduction in consumption, impressive.
The A5 coupe has four engines on offer with the S5 currently leading the way, producing a healthy 260 kW and 500 N.m. Following this is the 2.0T FSI Quattro producing 185 kW and 370Nm. We then have two 140 kW power plants, coming in the form of a 2.0T FSI which puts out 320N.m and a 2.0 TDI producing 400 N.m.
You would probably expect me to say that the S5 was my favorite variant but actually, the 185 kW A5 quattro was a car that really stood out. This car really shifts and has lots of torque from low down in the RPM range. It was just so enjoyable to drive through the twisty mountain passes but was then also very comfortable and quiet when driving in a relaxed manner.
The S5 is sharper, firmer and faster with 260 kW and 500 N.m but the difference is not night and day. It does give you a little more confidence in all aspects, though, such as high-speed cornering, as the S5’s suspension is firmer which can be felt quite a lot in the rear.
If you want more performance and styling, the S5 is a good option but it is by no means a “monster” like an RS variant would be. What sold me on the Audi S5 is the song it sings from that beautiful 3.0-litre V6 Twin Turbo motor – wow! It sounds absolutely fantastic throughout the rev range and this means that the S5 has a driving experience which is hard to match in its segment. It goes from being a car that is a little faster and sharper than the quattro, to a car that really makes you feel warm inside when driven – It’s not always about sheer acceleration and performance and this reason alone could mean the S5 pips the BMW 440i and Mercedes C43 to my top spot out of the three.
The higher powered A5’s are impressive, but we must not forget the smooth cruisers, the 140 kW T FSI and TDI models. These variants are very refined and easy to drive and while both cars were very nice, I feel that out of the two, the TDI is the one to go for. Power delivery is linear and it just feels like a smoother, calmer experience. Although not the most powerful variants, these two models should not be under estimated as they can really hold their own on some of the Cape Town passes against the bigger boys and are by no means boring. You can still have a lot of fun in these models and we can vouch for that. If your main aim when looking at an A5 is not so much performance based but rather directed towards a quiet, comfortable and smooth vehicle, either of these two are the ones to go for. The 14kW T FSI comes only as FWD, but the TDI variant is available with quattro.
Which model would I personally choose? Well this decision for me is all about which rules first, the head or the heart. My consumer brain tells me that the 185 kW quattro is the vehicle to go for – it gives performance just a little short from the S5, but has the comfortable benefits of the T FSI and TDI Models and is also R170 000 cheaper. However, from a performance enthusiast’s point of view, my heart wants to hear that singing V6 whenever I drive to work in the morning, although I’m sure my wife would have something to say about that!
Its also worth noting that the A5 is available with its new driver assistance system -Traffic Jam Assist. This is Audi’s first step in the direction of autonomous driving. In conjunction with Adaptive Cruise control, the vehicle will accelerate, brake and steer the car up to speeds of 65 km/h.
The A5 will comes standard with a range of equipment including Audi Drive Select, Xenon Plus Headlights and Rear LED lights, 17” Alloy wheels and cruise control.
The A5/S5 Sportback will be following the same model and pricing structure below and will be available from May 2017. In June we can expect the arrival of the A5/S5 Cabriolet – we have no information on pricing as yet.
Audi A5 Coupe 2.0T FSI 140kW S tronic: R 589,000
Audi A5 Coupe 2.0T FSI 140kW S tronic Sport: R 623,000
Audi A5 Coupe 2.0 TDI 140kW S tronic: R 619,000
Audi A5 Coupe 2.0T TDI 140kW S tronic Sport: R 653,000
Audi A5 Coupe 2.0 TDI 140kW quattro S tronic: R 652,500
Audi A5 Coupe 2.0T TDI 140kW quattro S tronic Sport: R 686,500
Audi A5 Coupe 2.0T FSI 185kW S tronic: R 723,500
Audi A5 Coupe 2.0T FSI 185kW S tronic Sport: R 757,500 Audi S5 Coupe 3.0T FSI 260kW quattro S tronic: R928,000
A sedan version of a hatchback? The A3 Sedan seemed like a strange concept when it was first released. A few years later, consumers have come to enjoy the car as it makes sense for those not looking for the space an A4 offers. You wouldn’t be wrong to assume then that this car can be considered the “Young man’s A4”. The range recently went to the bathroom for a nose powdering session and has emerged sleeker and smarter.
Engines and technologies:
The most interesting addition the range has been the 1.0 litre turbocharged engine. This produces 85kW/211Nm which is a healthy number considering the size of the engine. Having driven this car we can confirm that any scepticism about the size of the engine can be laid to rest as it does a sterling job to get the car going. We however had the 2.0 TDI on test which has ample torque for the city and open road with a figure of 340Nm/105kW. The model we had on test also featured new technology for the A3 range, virtual cockpit. Let it be known that Audi and Volkswagen have some of the most intuitive digital dashboard systems, so it’s great that this option is now available in the A3. There is a catch though, in order to get the dashboard, the car needs to be specified with navigation. So a R7 250.00 option needs a R24 000 option to be selected, which can hike up the price quite a bit.
Silence is golden:
You would think a diesel would be noisy and clunky and that the noise would spill over into the cabin. This is not the case with this car, the noise levels are very low, creating a peaceful atmosphere. The overall ride quality is very good, despite the lack of an S-Line kit, which makes things firmer but nicer. This specific model did have optional Sports Suspension, but members of the youth would probably prefer the S-Line for aesthetic reasons. The elegance of a standard model fitted with a good set of wheels is also visually appealing. Is the 2.0 TDI the pick of the bunch? The engine delivers torque almost instantly and the S-Tronic happily obliges. The Drive Select option is a good thing to tick in the options list, because it allows you to give your car different “moods”. In Comfort the car ticks over as usual, in the Eco mode the car is less responsive but more fuel efficient (best for highways). Dynamic mode is for when you’re in a hurry and the car in my opinion is at its best here, simply because it’s always awake. When in Comfort the car tends to take things easier, I call it “Cape Town” mode but Dynamic is “Johannesburg” mode, which is good to go all the time.
The facelifted Audi A3 sedan is the same car we’ve come to know, only better. New headlights and different bumper designs are what set the new car from the old one, as well as a nicer steering wheel. The subtle exterior changes aren’t enough for older specification owners to lose sleep over though. The additional engine compliment the range well and the option of Virtual Cockpit is awesome but expensive. Speaking of expensive, the 2.0 TDI starts at R499 000 which is tough pill to swallow. The model we drove retailed at R583 490 and it didn’t even have leather seats. It was quite a strangely specified car in fact, because the big ticket items were Navigation (R24 000), Adaptive Cruise Control (R15 300), Panoramic glass roof (R11 100), 17 inch wheels (R12 000) and Virtual Cockpit (R7 250). The smaller items such as Drive Select, Audi Sound System and Sport Suspension were all in the region of R3000.00 per option. The moral of the story is this, pick the necessary options and you’ll be okay or tick the wrong boxes and you’ll pay.
The Business Athlete. That’s a strong title which can be translated in many ways, for me, it’s a title that evokes a sense of presence, stance and performance. When this title represents a car, one would naturally have high expectations – a business athlete vehicle would have to do many things, very well.
Last year BMW outdid themselves with the 7 Series with looks, technology, performance and comfort few can match. As a result of this, there were high expectations for the 7th generation 5 Series.
The beautiful coastal town of George would be our playground for the two days of the launch. During this time I got plenty of time behind the wheel to sample two variants, the 540i and 530d.
Upon arriving at the Oubaai golf resort and after checking out some of the sample classic 5 Series models that were on display, we headed over to the beautiful lined up 5 Series fleet. A range of variants and colors, with all but one fitted the M-Sport exterior package. I was never a massive fan of the 5th and 6th generation 5 Series but BMW have really stepped it up with the 7th generation.
Strong, beautiful lines feature down the doors and down the bonnet giving it an aggressive, sporty look. It has a good stance – it sits strong, wide and has a presence. It definitely shares many design features with the 7 Series, but in a more compact, sporty package. The rear of this vehicle follows suit with the rest of the car with its wide rear end and large shoulders. All variants of the 5 Series will also feature dual exhaust pipes, one on either side of the vehicle. I felt this added to the sporty presence and symmetry. This has to be the most beautiful 5 Series in a long time, which only leaves me waiting to see how good a 7th Gen M5 will look.
A friend of mine said to me that the 5 series is no longer a bigger 3 series, but a smaller 7 series. This is so true, and the interior backs up that statement. Large bolstered seats are a lovely place to sit and provide good support. The M-Sport steering wheel fills the hands nicely and you are surrounded by leather, wood and metal.
A few interior features stood out to me; the multi-zone air conditioning panel is a full touch responsive digital display and the attention to detail on this system impressed me – sometimes the smaller things make the biggest difference. The iDrive system has been updated and features 6 main horizontal blocks on the home screen, providing access to options such as media, navigation and Connected Drive. I enjoyed the fact that each block or option updates in realtime and when clicked or touched, opens the feature up on the full screen.
Gesture control is also available- I had never used this before so after a few minutes of wafting my hands around at varying speeds, I finally figured it out and once I did, it responded and worked well. To sum it up, it is a very nice place to spend many hours behind the wheel.
After exploring the vehicles, taking photos and playing with features, I was itching to get behind the wheel and find out if the 5 series really was a business athlete. The first variant I drove was the 540i, which features a 3.0 straight six twin turbo engine producing 250 kW and 450 N.m of torque. This is the most powerful engine available in the 5 series in South Africa, until the M5 of course.
Power is delivered wonderfully through the 8-speed Sports auto – it’s smooth and linear. It is very well insulated from exterior noise and speed can creep up on you very quickly, but from the outside, the 540i produces a low-key but powerful exhaust note, stretching the 540i legs into the higher RPM and shifting with the Sports Auto does provide a satisfying blip which can be heard from the interior. It serves as just a little reminder that you are driving the performance based business athlete.
The double wishbone suspension on the front provides a sharp front end and cornering at speed will not make you feel uneasy at all. The 5 Series is very well balanced. On the long sweeping bends along our route in George, one can be confident to feed more power mid corner and even though the 7th generation took it in its stride, the rear end did start to twitch slightly, but never at one point did it feel uncontrollable,
The 5 Series is by no means a small vehicle and providing a helping hand to driving performance is the adaptive handling system. Under 60 km/h the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the front, to a maximum of 3 degrees. Further to this, the new 5 Series weighs less thanks to the use of lighter but stronger materials. The extra agility was noticeable in tight bends, when expecting the vehicle to understeer slightly, it responded with more front end grip.
The 5 Series now feels like a good mix between the 7 Series and the 3 Series, bringing comfort, luxury and space elements from the former, and the dynamic attributes from the latter.
Would I buy a 540i? No. The main reason for this goes by the name of 530d. In my opinion from what I experienced over the two days in George, this is the variant to pick from the new 5 Series range.
You don’t get the same level of performance as the 540i, but you do get 620 N.m of torque, which is a lot. This torque also kicks in at the lower end of the rpm range which gives lovely near instant acceleration. As expected, power does fade in the higher rpm where the 540i excels but the performance is still fantastic, and being a diesel it comes with a host other benefits. One of these is the fact that it sips fuel and will give you a 4.5 l/100km rating.
It is slightly heavier and this can be felt when driving hard, but in terms of driving dynamics, there is little difference from the 540i. Apart from the 530d and 540i variants that I drove, another petrol and diesel engine are available in the from of a 530i and 520d.
There are a host of cool features on the 7th generation 5 Series, it features the ever improving Connected Drive and semi autonomous driving. The car will even pick up your scheduled meetings in your smartphone calendar, and using the built in RTTI and business navigation system, which is now a standard feature, it will drop you a message to let you know that because of traffic conditions, you will need to leave earlier. If you have a smartphone that supports wireless charging, the 5 Series will do that for you as well if you simply leave your phone in the front console.
The head up display is now also 70 percent bigger and has a better resolution, allowing the driver to have more information in front of them, if they want.
Taking the number one spot, though, has to be the smart key. With a digital display to allow for starting, opening windows and checking vehicle information, its pretty cool. What’s cooler though is the fact that you can remotely drive your car in or out of a parking space when standing outside.
In conclusion, the 5 Series lives up to its title, the business athlete. It’s a car that you can spend many many hours behind the wheel of and be a very happy, comfortable motorist. Yes, it shares many features from the 7 Series, but the 7 Series is a car you want to be driven in, the 5 Series is a car you want to drive, its enjoyable to drive and provides a host of features to make your life easier and more comfortable.
I first drove the new Volkswagen Passat in 2016, the model I drove was the 1.4 TSI and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with that vehicle. Although I do remember saying that when the 2.0 TDI comes, it will probably take the Passat up another notch. I was correct.
For me, the Passat has two purposes, it’s a family car but also a highway machine. It’s built for laying down kilometres and not missing a beat. A person will look at purchasing a Passat for one of these reasons, or both.
For the family orientated buyer, the Passat is not a bad choice at all. It offers lot’s of space, modern technology, good safety and even a built in child seats in the rear. The downside is that the Passat starts at R468,200 for the petrol variant and R493,000 for the diesel model. These prices maybe out of reach for the normal South African family.
For the sales rep or businessman who uses the roads often and driving as a pivotal part of his work, the Passat is a great fit. In my home country, the Passats are extremely popular cars, mainly driven by people working for large corporations, driving my kilometres up and down the country on a daily basis.
The diesel model I drove recently, fits well into this category. With the R-line package, the Passat is striking, it has a sharp design and just oozes a professional feel. The interior of the Passat follows suit with a clean design and good technology, such as the App Connect system and Park Assist.
How does it Drive?
I always forget how a Passat feels until I get back the wheel of one. It feels different from other vehicles in it’s segment. It’s softer and lighter on its feet. For example, even applying the brakes is a smooth process, the same goes for its acceleration, it’s very linear. It feels refined and cautious on the road, it wasn’t designed to be driven very fast, it was designed to be driven for long periods of time. That being said, the car is very driver comfort focused and the overall feeling is one that relaxes you.
The best place then to test the VW Passat is on the open road, and that’s what I did. We had meetings for a few days in Johannesburg, so instead of flying I drove the Passat. Having experienced all the technology offered in these cars, I noticed that there were two optional extras the Passat I drove lacked. This was the Active Driver Display which gives you a digital dashboard and secondly, Adaptive Cruise Control.
The digital dashboard provides a more visual element and makes it easier to see and control certain vehicle data or elements. This means less time fiddling with the steering wheel controls, something that is important during a long drive.
The second option, Adaptive cruise control is a feature that I used on the new Tiguan and loved it. Driving to Jozi from Durban isn’t a bad drive, but over the many times I’ve done it, I find it hard to use the standard cruise control, something this Passat had. There are lots of trucks, hills, fast cars, slow cars, speed cameras, etc. All these factors mean that cars are forever overtaking, slowing down, speeding up and pulling out. This makes the drive frustrating because you can be on the brakes quite a bit, which deactivates the cruise control. When all is clear, you need to reactivate it again and if you hit the wrong button, it will set it to the speed that you are currently travelling, not the speed you want to be travelling. So most of the time it’s just easier to not use it at all. This is not just the standard Passat system that has this problem, these things would happen with any standard cruise control system. This is why I much prefer to have the Adaptive Cruise Control as it assists when all these factors come into play. It too is not a perfect system just yet, but it works damn well.
In terms of fuel economy, this car sips, something most people will buy the diesel version for. VW claim a combined cycle of 5 litres/100km. After arriving in JHB and driving around the city for a few days, when I returned to Durban, I got had average of 5.4 litres/100km. Pretty good if you ask me. The 2.0 TDI performed well and it boasts 130kW/350Nm, which is more than enough for what this car was purposed is.
Just give the Passat a chance.
For such a great car, it doesn’t sell as well as it could, and you don’t see too many on the roads locally. In South Africa, we love our brands, especially when it comes to cars. When the Passat’s rivals are vehicles like the BMW 3 series, Mercedes C-Class and Even the Audi A4, you know it’s in for a hard time. The thing is, the VW Passat does quite a lot of things better than the cars mentioned above, for a cheaper price at that.
More motorists should give the Passat a chance, forget about how your friends will look at you, or what your side-chick will think. It’s a great option and will benefit your wallet too. Honestly I think it even looks better than some of it’s rivals. It’s not up to me though, it’s your money. The old car was certainly more grandfather-like in appeal, but with this new one, grandad is dead and his much cooler son has taken over.
I guess we didn’t really know what to expect from the new Volvo S90. On pictures, it looked a bit underwhelming, pretty but nothing to ride home about. You can imagine then what went through my mind when I saw the car in the flesh because it completely took me by surprise. The car has a stately presence that can’t be captured on paper properly as it looks much smaller, but in reality, it’s a big lady. So much so that Volvo felt it appropriate to have us chauffeured in the cars from the airport to the launch destination in Franschhoek. Being only 5ft7 I can sit at the back of most sedans with ease. What I can’t do in most sedans is stretch my legs, something I was able to do in the Volvo S90. So far so good as this car is going to compete with the likes of BMW’s new 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz’ E Class.
Aesthetically the S90 shares similar features to the XC90, in fact it’s almost a sedan version of the SUV. Many commented that the rear of the vehicle was the acquired taste of the design but I feel the retro taillights suit the overall look. It’s looks somewhat concept car-like but not overly caricatured. The interior design again shares a great deal with the XC90 as well. The central tablet controls various functions such as entertainment, safety, air-conditioning and much more. Overall trim is of a very high quality featuring real leather and very little plastic, making you feel comfortable as a car of this size deserves to have the best in terms of trim levels. A few minutes in the car will make any driver realise that the Swedes pulled out all the stops with this car, which should make the German’s nervous.
This nervousness shouldn’t be about sales figures as the reality is that we live in brand conscious South Africa. This means that brands like Mercedes-Benz and BMW will always have the majority market share in certain segments. Rather the nervousness should be because there is a rise in not being mainstream. In certain cities like Johannesburg, every second car is a BMW or Merc so for those looking to be different, the new Volvo’s offer an appealing package. The playing fields are being levelled and driving the new S90 confirmed this. Sitting in the S90 gives a feeling confidence and the dynamic attributes to match. The 4WD systems on the cars also allowed us to exploit Franschhoek pass with ease, too much ease at that. In fact, the S90’s chassis is the most impressive aspect of the cars’ driving experience. The derivatives offered on launch were the T6 featuring 235kW Drive E engine and the D5 with Power Pulse with 173kW, so there was no shortage of power where that is concerned.
Being a Volvo, safety always come first so even though the cars produce a healthy amount of power, it’s delivered very safely. This makes any driver capable of driving the car fast as it doesn’t evoke any fear behind the wheel. The focus is not on speed, though, it’s on refinement, technology and innovation. The biggest innovation for me was the newest iteration of Pilot Assist. An individual can now drive in semi-autonomous mode up until 130km/h depending on the road condition. Steering inputs, braking and acceleration are all controlled by the car whilst you simply place your hands on the steering wheel. Other features such as pedestrian detection, cyclist detection and even animal detection are just some of the safety features of the car. To list everything would turn this write up to a spec list and we’re not here to do that. We’re here to tell you that this Volvo is probably one of the best we’ve driven since the new XC90 which has won many accolades. There is very little you can fault on the car, it’s really a job well done by the Swedes.
Pricing on the car starts at R678 500 which is also a reasonable range considering what you’re getting. That price of course is minus things like Bowers & Wilken sound system and you’ll pay more depending on what package you choose. There is the choice of the standard Momentum, Inscription and R-Design packages. We had Inscription’s at our disposal and some were specified with some rather appealing features which added to the good looks. Again though if you want it, you must pay for it.
Overall, I personally feel that the S90 is a car that can coexist with its rivals, as it’s a niche offering. Niche brands such as these are great because they offer exclusivity. They answer the question that many motorists have, that of “do I have to have what everyone else has?” What the car has done is match the rivals in terms of comfort, luxury and even dynamics. It’s the executive sedan for the elusive, those that don’t want to be like everybody else. For those looking to purchase one, Volvo’s new guaranteed future value scheme will give you piece of mind as this alleviates the perception of bad trade in values. So this entire package becomes even more appealing. The S90 experience is one that proves that things don’t always have to stay the same. It proved that the big three don’t always have to be on top. Now it’s only a matter of seeing how the South African market responds to this car. We wish it well.
KIA isn’t the first brand which comes to mind when discussing performance cars and that’s probably due to the fact that their most sporty offering up until mid-January was the Koup. It’s lovely, but you won’t be taking on any 440i’s or Golf GTI’s anytime soon – it’s just not that sort of car. Desirability, I feel is something that KIA’s of old lacked, but as I mentioned in my review of the new Sportage, KIA are on a roll at the moment and very soon, KIA’s will become poster cars. Mark my words.
So it came as no surprise to me, then, when KIA unveiled the Stinger – an all-new model for them, set to take the fight straight to the BMW 4 Series GranCoupe, Audi A5 Sportback and the Mercedes-Benz CLS at a stretch. It’s big, bigger than all of those. It’s even longer than a Lexus GS and that’s…long.
The design team have certainly done their bit here – the Stinger is swoopy and swishy in all the right places and has a rakish stance, much like I’d expect its target market to have. These young, wealthy, vehicle-conscious and stylish beings will be pleased with the interior, too, which looks a lot like a Mercedes-Benz CLA…but who cares really? The whole thing oozes desirability but the deal-breaker with any snazzy Coupe sedan is the way it performs. You can’t have a car that looks like Heidi Klum but runs like Oprah.
Albert Biermann, ex-Vice President of Engineering at BMW M, has settled in nicely with the Koreans and his work has apparently resulted in a car that is properly good to drive. MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension are designed to let the driver know what’s happening and for the first time in a KIA, ride-damping and vehicle handling can be changed by the driver thanks to an electronically adjustable suspension – Dynamic Stability Damping Control. It has five modes which is a lot of modes, but judging by the engine line-up, we suspect the best on will be the fast one.
Still under development, the powertrains have to live up to the rest of the grand-tourer, too, so it comes as no surprise that they are both rather pokey. 190kW and 350Nm from a 2.0-litre turbo four and 272kW and 510Nm from KIA’s 3.3 Litre twin-turbo V6 Lambda II motor give you stonking performance – 5.1 seconds to 100km/h and a top speed of 270km/h. Vented Brembos are standard on the 3.3-litre model featuring 4-piston callipers up front and dual pistons at the rear.
The gearbox is fancy too and is an 8-speeder which makes use of aviation technology in the form of a Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber which helps reduce torsional vibrations through the drivetrain. The Stinger can be had as either an AWD or rear-wheel drive, the rear-wheel drive model coming with a proper mechanical limited-slip differential.
A vast array of safety features are available too, as expected in this segment, and a heads-up display, wireless phone charger, adaptive cruise control and optional Harman/Kardon sound system will keep the tech-weirdos happy.
There’s no word yet on local availability but should there be enough interest, don’t expect to see it on our roads before 2018.
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A few years ago, I was the guy that your girlfriend thought of as a bad influence. Every social group has that guy Gary. The guy that gets everyone into trouble, takes you out for a beer and promises to have you home by 11 pm latest! Only to have you find yourself wondering why the door stopper is blocking your way to your bed of luxury, the couch, so loving prepared by your significant other.
Fast forward that to the prime of my ‘responsible age’, my early thirties, and I’m the guy now that your wife wants you to be. I help around the house; I give FANTASTIC foot rubs, I watch romcoms. Yes, I’ve now matured to Responsible Richard, the guy your mother and spouse adore. That, though, has not translated into the cars I prefer driving. We go through a lot of vehicles here at TheMotorist, and I have been “type-cast”, so to speak, when it comes to what keys end up in my hands.
Fast forward to one sunny winter morning when Samuel says, (insert English accent here) “Mate, you have to try this car out. It’s perfect!” Now, knowing that Sam’s perfect and my perfect are sometimes opposites, I was not too excited about sampling Audi’s new family rocket, the RS6 Avant.
Look, the RS6 is, and will always be, a rapid car, but on my first outing in this “family wagon”, it honestly hit me square in the chest with its enormous power, 412KW to be precise. What it doesn’t do is warn you of what sort of beast it is, and I blame modern advancement in sound-deadening and built quality for that. The cabin is so quiet and so well-built and finished that you can’t whisper, mumble or sneak in a comment about your friends Carla and Steve, who organised the lunch you are driving to, without fear that your toddler, Sarah, will repeat your glowing remarks about how they got you out of your fat pants and into chinos on a cold, winter Saturday afternoon. So inconsiderate.
It blows you away in that it can swallow your family, your luggage, the mother-in-law and your roof box with such ease that I kind of get the “perfect car” story from Sam. I do wish it was louder, though, as the quiet exhaust note from the 412KW, 700NM, 4.0 litre TFSI motor is throaty enough, but the way that this car reels in the horizon, I would have appreciated a reminder from the drain pipe size tail pieces that jail is for criminals, and not for well-heeled drivers who don’t know that they are way above the speed limit.
The rest of it is typical Audi: spacious, top-notch and beautiful bucket seats that give that classic “sit in” and not “sit on” feeling. The dynamics of the car are that of a bullet train on rails. Throw that chassis and a well-known road (without the kids and the Labrador of course), and you will be surprised by your entry and exit speeds from corner to corner. Try a little bit too hard, and the nose will push wide, giving that famous under-steer scrub, but then again, if the front-end is pushing, you are driving way too fast on public roads. I would have loved to see what this car would have done in a safe circuit environment, but I had to give the keys up to the other kids to sample this thundering German. Responsible Richard to the rescue.
There lies the line that is being blurred by these family movers with supercar engines nestled in their noses. You will find yourself happily doing the school run and the monthly grocery shopping in the RS6, but when the mood takes you, and you have a group of young boy racers on William Nicol wanting to show you what their modified hatchback can do, simply obliterating them from standstill (did we mention that this two tone family car does 0-100 in 3.9 seconds?!), and see what their faces look like at the next set of lights. Is their need for a conventional supercar?
What I love about this car is that, drive it like a sane human being, and it’s a standard Avant with all the modern conveniences that you would expect, bar the claimed 9.8l/100kms. We got an average of 13.5 litres, but then again, the hooligan in us came out every time we found some empty tarmac. I sadly must say that I agree with Sam. It is the perfect car. It has space, the looks, the enormous boot and enough get-up-and-go to embarrass most sports cars. The only fault of the new RS6? It’s not in our parking lot!
Mercedes have just announced that the E63 S 4Matic+ is now available to order. This E-class doesn’t quite fit the stereotype, though, for one simple reason, its the most powerful E-Class ever produced. The typical old man’s car comments go out of the window when you set your eyes on the E63, and it doesn’t just look the part either.
The E63 S provides 450Kw ( 585bhp) and a generous 850Nm of torque from a 4L V8 with twin-scroll turbochargers, which are situated inside the V. This design helps make the engine more compact, increases efficiency and turbo response. All this power will launch to you 100kph in 3.4 seconds, with the top speed electronically limited to 250kph. This can be increased to 300kph with the AMG Drivers Package.
The E63 features a 9-speed sports transmission(AMG SPEEDSHIFT MC), as well as a new 4-wheel drive system and updates to the chassis and differentials. The E63 also features a drift mode in which the vehicle becomes 100% rear wheel drive when certain modes are selected. Dynamic engine mounts come standard on this model, these engine mounts adjust their stiffness in relation to driving conditions.
When cruising or in comfort mode, the E63 benefits from Cylinder Deactivation in which the engine uses only four cylinders instead of all eight to help with fuel economy and emissions. This system had helped the E63 S set a new best when compared with its competitors at 8.9L/100km.
The Race Start system has been improved. When in Sport, Sport + or Dynamic driving modes, holding the brake with the left foot and applying the accelerator with the right will activate Race Start/Launch Control – This is a much easier setup than in previous models.
The AMG Studio is also available for those who would like more personalization with their vehicle. For example, there is a Night package, different wheel packages and two carbon fibre packages for the exterior.
The intelligent driving system has also been updated and includes a concierge service in which you can find out weather information, If your stocks are performing well( If they are, you are more likely to be driving an S-Class) Route recommendations and reservation making for sporting and cultural activities.
Overall, I like the new look of the E-Class and the E63 More so, Mercedes have put a lot of time and effort into redesigning and improving the technology inside this car. On paper, it looks good. My favourite feature? Drift Mode.
Price and Delivery
The E63 S starts at R1 868 400, and we can expect to start seeing these on South African road’s in the 2nd quarter of this year.
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