Category: Spacious

The Harvey Specter of cars: Volvo S90 D5 Review

Volvo S90 D5 AWD Review

Volvo S90 D5 Review

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.

Volvo S90 D5 Review

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.

Volvo S90 D5 Review

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.

Volvo S90 D5 Review

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)

Volvo S90 D5 Review

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.

Overview

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:

 

 

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Volvo V90 Cross Country released in South Africa

Volvo V90 Cross Country in South Africa

 South African Car News: Volvo V90 Cross Country

Volvo V90 Cross Country in South Africa

We at The Motorist love a good wagon and the only thing we love more than a wagon is a wagon that can do more than just carry things and look cool. Take the Audi RS6 for instance – not only does it look tit, it’ll also give many super car owners a serious fright, all while carrying a moth eaten lamp and a hound or two – it’s brilliant! Unfortunately for us wagon lovers, South African buyers seem to have a penchant for crossovers and as a result, there are very few wagons on sale here. Motoring journalists left, right and centre can’t praise the station wagon enough, but hey, what do we know?

Volvo V90 Cross Country in South Africa

Luckily for us, the king of wagon makers has decided that while there might not be much of a market in South Africa for the V90, the Cross Country variants have always seemed to do quite well here and as such, the V90 Cross Country will be on sale here. Both Mercedes-Benz and Audi make raised versions of their big wagons, namely The Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain and Audi A6 Allroad, but the E-Class will not be making its way here and the A6 Allroad is no longer on sale in SA. So what does that mean for the V90 Cross Country?

Well, it doesn’t really have any competition in its own segment…but even if it did, it would have little to worry about. It’s gorgeous. Like, properly good looking and for some reason, the black plastic bits and rugged additions to the 90 Cluster’s sleek and luxurious lines come together really nicely. You get the feeling that rather than jacking up the ride-height and forgetting to paint a few bits, the V90 CC’s designers have thought long and hard about what the buyer wants, and how they can provide them with this in a typically Volvo fashion.

Volvo V90 Cross Country in South Africa

The first crossover to be based on Volvo’s SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform, the V90 CC promises a blend of off-road capability, but, in a “most elegant, sophisticated, tailored wagon suit.” The very words of Thomas Ingenlath, the man responsible for the recent spate of automotive pornography coming out of Sweden.

Interior trims differ to those on offer in the rest of the 90 Cluster with trim options such us Black Walnut for that manly and rugged look. Grrr.

A nice option to tick is the unique Adventure Pack which has been created especially for South African Buyers and offers a host of lifestyle-oriented extras, bristling with value. Included in the Adventure Pack are, amongst others, the panoramic 360-degree surround view camera, auto-dimming mirrors all-round, integrated compass, powered folding rear seats, air suspension and the 230V power outlet – all geared towards improving those out-of-town weekend adventures and typical holiday drives through the country.

Volvo V90 Cross Country in South Africa

Pricing for the Volvo V90 Cross Country starts at R770 900 for the T5 Geartronic AWD Momentum and stretches to a not too heady R921 300 for the T6 Geartronic AWD Inscription. All models come standard with a 5-year/100 000 km vehicle warranty, full maintenance plan and roadside assistance, as well as ant-smash and grab glass and Tracker connect as standard.

The new Volvo V90 Cross Country range begins at R770 900 for the T5 Geartronic AWD Momentum, and ends with the T6 Geartronic AWD Inscription at R921 300.

Volvo V90 Cross Country in South Africa

Keep an eye out for an in-depth review of the Volvo V90 Cross Country in the coming month.

All models come standard with a 5-year/ 100 000 km full vehicle warranty, full maintenance plan and roadside assistance, as well as laminated glass and Tracker Connect as standard.

Full pricing is as follows:

  • Volvo V90 Cross Country D4 Geartronic AWD Momentum           R794 800
  • Volvo V90 Cross Country D4 Geartronic AWD Inscription            R825 200
  • Volvo V90 Cross Country D5 Geartronic AWD Momentum            R839 500
  • Volvo V90 Cross Country D5 Geartronic AWD Inscription             R869 900
  • Volvo V90 Cross Country T5 Geartronic AWD Momentum             R770 900
  • Volvo V90 Cross Country T5 Geartronic AWD Inscription              R801 300
  • Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 Geartronic AWD Momentum              R890 900
  • Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 Geartronic AWD Inscription                R921 300

 

 

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Chic and slick: Facelifted Audi A3 Sedan Driven.

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.

Enquire about a new or used Audi vehicle at Audi Centurion here!

Same Same but different:    

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.  

Enquire about a new or used Audi vehicle at Audi Centurion here!

South Africa, give the VW Passat a chance.

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.

Audi RS6 Review

Audi RS6 Review

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.

Enquire about a new or used Audi vehicle at Audi Centurion here!

rs6-avant-5_1800x1800

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.

rs6-avant-3_1800x1800

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.

rs6-avant-14_1800x1800

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?

rs6-avant-6_1800x1800

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!

Enquire about a new or used Audi vehicle at Audi Centurion here!

Honda Civic

Honda Civic Driven Review

Motorist Digital Magazine – Edition 08

There are few things in this world which are more reliable than a Honda. I have often said that not even a playschool teacher could rival Honda’s sterling reputation for trustworthiness, and that is quite a statement to make! In the same breath, though, one may argue that aside from their fast cars, of which there aren’t very many, Honda’s are a bit pedestrian. This is something which has traditionally been mirrored in their buyer base aka the zimmer-frame brigade. Granny and Grandpa love a good Honda and that’s not a bad thing! You see, unless your mum or dad were begotten of a rock and roll legend or drug abusing good for nothing, grandparents tend to be rather sensible people, and we all know that a sensible motorist is a clever motorist. Motoring is not a cheap exercise, so why not buy a car that’s both practical and reliable?

civic-1-1

Sensible and petrolhead are very seldom uttered in the same sentence and that can be attributed to the fact that you’d sooner find a turbocharger or a new intake in my Christmas sock than a Christmas cake or whatever normal people like as sock-fillers. I am, then, the very last person you’d ever expect to see smiling in a sensible Honda so you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to see my pearly whites gleaming back at me in the rearview mirror of the all-new Honda Civic.

The new Civic is a very good looking car with its swoopy headlights and sloping roofline – thankfully the drive is as pleasant as it is to look at. The model range is made up of three models, namely Comfort, Sport and Elegance. The Comfort model is powered exclusively by a 1.8 litre NA motor delivering 104Kw and 174Nm. It’s a powerplant with which we’re familiar and while you won’t be winning any post-bowls drag races, it does a god job in the Civic. The Elegance model can be had with the same 1.8-litre motor or Honda’s new and much praised 1.5 litre turbo unit. The Sport model is only available with this motor and what a powerplant it is. 127kW (170bhp) and 220Nm are the figures and when provoked, it’ll hustle the Civic from 0-100km/h in a not too shabby 8.2 seconds, yet return a claimed fuel consumption of just 5.9l/100km. I managed an average of 7l/100km during my week with the car which isn’t terribly far off.

civic-13

The only gearbox available is a CVT and while I generally liken CVT’s to a trip to the dentist, the low-down torque and linear power delivery of the 1.5 litre turbo-four lends itself well to the droning CVT’s efficient nature. In fact, you hardly notice that it’s a CVT while pottering around and when you floor it, you’re rewarded with a continuous surge of acceleration without the changing of gears, just like in a Koenigsegg Regera. Sort of.

What I liked most about the new Civic wasn’t its punchy motor, eye-catching looks or technology-laden interior, what got to me was just how easy it is to like. My first car was in fact a Honda. Sold as a Civic overseas and a Ballade in South Africa, the SR4 in code speak, was a real crowd pleaser in Luxline trim with its grey leather and electric windows. The new Civic reminded me of this, as well as why people buy them. My gran bought hers because she said it had “nice lines” and after she shuffled off it was passed down, eventually finding itself in my garage.  I still have it and it’s as good as new, barring a few bumps and dents from when Rosemary went blind and started driving by sound.

What I hope for this new Civic, though, is that not only the elderly and sensible will take to it, but everyone shopping in its segment. It really has come a long way from the previous generation model which was wonderful all on its own. Not only is the new Civic reliable, practical and sensible, it’s now exciting!

25_honda-civic

Pricing:

Civic Sedan 1.8 Comfort – R330 000
Civic Sedan 1.8 Elegance – R370 000
Civic Sedan 1.5T Sport – R430 000
Civic Sedan 1.5T Elegance – R460 000

 

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Fiat Fullback: Can it cut it with today’s bakkie market?

Fiat Fullback Driven Review

Motorist Digital Magazine – Edition 08

That awkward moment when people ask you if you’re driving a Toyota Hilux, but your response is “no, it’s a Fiat”. This seemed to happen often whilst we had the Fiat Fullback on test, and the truth is that you can understand why people kept making this assumption. The side profile of the new Fiat Fullback does bear a resemblance to the iconic Hilux. People’s reaction to the realisation that this is a Fiat bakkie differed significantly though. Some were disappointed while others were intrigued, we, on the other hand, were more nervous than anything else.

fullback-1

Knife to a gun fight?

The reason for this nervousness was because this car is in the ring with some fantastic heavyweights and naturally you want the underdog to win. With Toyota, Ford, Isuzu and Volkswagen dominating the market, can the same people that make the Fiat 500 produce something that can please the local Bakkie market? The thing about all the newer Bakkies is that they work well off-road, but it’s their on-road “car-like” personas that make them so popular. The traditional bakkie has been turned into a lifestyle vehicle, and we wanted to see how good the Fullback will do as an everyday car.

The Fiat Fullback is not an entirely new car though; it is very closely related to the Mitsubishi Triton. Although not SA’s favourite bakkie, it has proved itself as tough and reliable over the years. Styling wise the Italian influence works for the car as it looks modern and somewhat good looking. The interior is still more in tune with a pick up rather than a passenger car. The infotainment is pretty average, but so are most of the competitor’s systems too. As long as we can pair a phone and plug in a USB, we’re happy, and thankfully both were possible in the test unit we received.  The Fullback’s interior is large and roomy, and one would be able to fit some adults in the front and rear with ease. The ride of the car is also very good for on-road use, even with the rear unloaded, often you tend to bounce around in an unloaded bakkie, but the ride quality was quite supple in the Fiat and on par with the some of the big guns.

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The double cab gives you two options, a 4×2 with 100kW/324Nm and a 4×4 producing 131kW/400Nm. Both use a 2.5-litre turbocharged diesel engine; we had the latter at our disposal. The 4×4 has plenty torque and will no doubt not disappoint those looking for a powerful bakkie. The cars shortfall is the manual gearbox which is reminiscent of an old school truck. The gear changes really need some muscle to engage and when missed, the grinding noise makes you feel like you’ve failed at life. After a few days of understanding the way the car drives, it became easier to operate and more enjoyable as a result.

For those looking to get dirty, the Fullback is capable of climbing up and down rocky passes, as it has a 30-degree approach angle and a 22-degree departure angle. It can also travel laterally up to 45 degrees, so you can rest assured that the average city dweller who likes to go on excursions will be able to do so. The biggest question then with this car is why? Why buy this car over the competition? People buy the Hilux because of its reputation and the fact that you can generally get parts even in the most remote places. Others buy a Ford Ranger because it is the coolest bakkie hands down and it can still perform. The Amarok, on the contrary, is probably the best car-like bakkie you can get and even though it doesn’t sell as well as the others, it still has its place. An Isuzu buyer has probably grown up with KB’s in the house from an early age, so again we ask what makes the Fullback so special? Yes it looks good, and it’s comfortable, but unfortunately,  it’s not better than its competitors. In a segment where brand loyalty is probably at its highest, all we can do is wish Fiat the best with this car.  It’s not a bad product, but they will have to do much more to take on the best.

Prices:

Single Cab Petrol

:R 232,900

Double Cab 4×2

:R 402,900

Double Cab 4×4

:R 468,900

 

The practical choice: Suzuki Ertiga

The practical choice: Suzuki Ertiga.

Truth be told, there isn’t much in terms of appeal when it comes to people carriers. Cars that are built to fit as many individuals as possible normally look like taxis, and they’re often beige in colour too. Think of the Toyota Avanza, I haven’t seen a single one of them in any other colour besides beige and not once have I seen a happy family going on holiday in one. Instead, looks of fear and dismay are the expressions of occupants in an Avanza, purely because the taxi driver is normally attempting a life-threatening stunt.

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The smaller seven seating market is not one full of competition, though. If you were looking for something along those lines and you didn’t want the taxi driver stigma of the Toyota, you could choose a Suzuki.  The Ertiga is a car that can fulfil all your needs and the test car we received also happened to be beige. If I must be honest, when the car arrived at my offices I didn’t care much for it. The timing worked out that I had a fancier sports car with much more power at my disposal. Being young, you want to maintain a particular image, and the image of a crèche owner versus that of a successful businessman didn’t appeal to me. But it was only after a day of using all the fuel in my suave sports car, did the motor journalist in me kick in, and I did what all of us do…find the vehicle with the most amount of fuel in it. My personal car never has fuel in it because as mentioned, I am but a lowly journalist. So just like that, I had to swallow my pride and drive the Uber van.

Like any modern Suzuki, the Ertiga doesn’t scream excitement when you enter. What it does do is offer an ergonomically friendly setup. A radio that works easily, an air-conditioner that doesn’t require a degree and a Bluetooth system that easy to operate. After pairing up my phone and buckling in, I was set to find passengers, something the Ertiga needs for it to make sense. Naturally, I tried to find occupants that wouldn’t judge the fact that my social status had dropped immensely from the sports car driver to the delivery man. So I fetched my mother and siblings and off we went. The Ertiga’s 1.4-litre engine is not underpowered, but nor is it spritely. It’s around the middle where it’s just enough not to annoy you. It only has 70kW after all. The ride quality is as good as my couch, you don’t really know what’s going on under you, but you don’t care because it’s comfortable. Besides who wants to race around in a people carrier besides taxi drivers?

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The two most notable aspects of the Suzuki Ertiga is the practicality of the car and the fact that it runs on smiles and laughter. No seriously, in the week we had it, the car barely used any fuel. In fact, it’s so good on fuel I decided to park the sports car and use it every day because fuel savings over power win every day in the minds of cheap journalists. It’s not just journalists who think this way, though; the average person does too. This is where you see why this car makes sense for the person looking for its attributes. Some need a seven seater for business, others because of endless procreation. Whatever your reason is, surely you’ll want the car to be fuel efficient too. In the case of the Ertiga it’s fortunate to be more visually appealing than the Avanza, but maybe not as nice looking as Honda’s new BRV. The point we’re making is this, if you need the space and a measure of reliability at a reasonable price, the Ertiga is not a bad choice, it’s a practical one. You can also have it in another colour besides brown.

Prices:

Ertiga 1.4 GA: R189 900

Ertiga 1.4 GL: R215 900

Ertiga 1.4 GL AT: R231 900

Mitsubishi Pajero Legend II

Often, one will misread a situation or underestimate a task to be undertaken, but such foolishness very seldom results in a catastrophe. That is, unless you think it wise to ask a fashion blogger to accompany you on the launch of Mitsubishi’s limited-run Pajero Legend II.

The launch in question consisted of a calm freeway drive to an off-road course, followed by a competitive morning of extreme-ish off-roading which all demonstrated the Pajero’s adaptability, highlighting its multifaceted appeal and renowned duality.

New for 2016, the Legend II sports R50 000 worth of extras as part of the R759 900 purchase price, options which include a heavy-duty protection plate below the engine, another below the gearbox assembly and heavy duty rock sliders on the LWB model. Yokohama Geolander dual-purpose tyres are also fitted. A heavy duty Bosal tow bar, Pajero stamped chrome nudge bar and keyless entry, Garmin nüviCam and a full set of rubber mats all form part of the Legend II package. All of this is supplemented with a 3-year/100 000kms mechanical warranty, as well as a 5-year/100 00kms maintenance plan.

Mitsubishi’s tried and tested 3.2 DI-D turbo-diesel motor does duty here, offering up 140kW and 441Nm from just 2 000 rpm. This motor can also run on 500ppm diesel which makes for unhindered traversing in climates with lower quality diesel. This motor is impressive in its refinement and returned an impressive 9l/100km on our trip to and from the off-road venue.Mitsubishi’s Super-Select II 4WD system is standard as would be expected, offering a wide range of locking diffs, everything you’d need to tackle a mountain or pavement which was proven to us during our stint off-road. This is where the Pajero impressed most.

Creature comforts and interior refinement are remarkable for this sort of vehicle, be it on or off the beaten track. This was highlighted by the fact that my fashion conscious co-pilot felt tempted to name the Pajero in a jiffy, despite its bold looks and brutish nature. The only glaring criticism I had of the Pajero was its reluctance to get going under heavy acceleration, during an overtaking manoeuvre for instance, but then again, it’s hardly a sports car, is it?

Without laying too much blame on my lovely navigator, no level of driving prowess can prepare you for hand gestures while blindfolded and her all-important Snapchat story on a 30° incline, but all that this demonstrated was the Pajero’s jaw-dropping capability and ability to turn the most inexperienced off-roaders into Dakar champions in five seconds flat. All this while still being able to get us home in pure luxury and comfort!

Did we win? No. Did we get last place prizes in the form of snazzy braai kits? Of course.

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Jaguar XE Driven: Is there space for a big four?

The C-segment has been going through a war for many years now. The majority of those years have been ruled by one brand, the BMW 3 Series. During this time, Mercedes’ C-Class has been in competition with the Bavarian dictator and they have always come off second best in terms of driving dynamics and excitement but have always led in terms of comfort. Meanwhile the Audi A4 has always been the conservative’s choice amongst the lot and as a result, has had a specific audience to itself. With technology progressing and cars getting better and better, the distinct differences in cars within this segment have lessened, making brand loyalty the biggest decision maker for the consumer.

All of a sudden, though, a smaller more exclusive brand has entered the war and their offering has narrowed the gap even more. That brand is Jaguar and the new XE is their contender in this segment. After spending a week behind its wheel we were left wondering if the big three may need to make space for a fourth.

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Is it really that good?

Yes, the Jaguar XE is a lovely vehicle. From the way it looks to the way it drives, makes it a very appealing package indeed. Add that to the fact that the nameplate it bears is one that denotes sophistication, class, and luxury. The engine line-up is similar to that of its competitors too, ranging from small 2.0 turbocharged petrol and diesel engines to a brutish 3.0 V6 Supercharged power-plant in the top of the range S model.

We had in our care the 177kW 2.0 i4 Turbo with the R-Sport package, a magnificently beautiful car that is as refined as it is good looking. It’s not all looks with the XE though, the car can manoeuvre its way around bends in a confidence-inspiring way. Dynamically the XE is without a doubt one of the best cars in its segment. It’s comfortable too, our Bavarian friends have often sacrificed comfort for dynamics in their Sports Packages, whereas the XE has a better sense of balance between the two.

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Elephant in the room:

It is a fact that all car prices in South Africa are reaching a point where most of us will have to take up cycling in the future. Being that as it is, the price of the Jaguar XE is its proverbial 6th toe. The car is simply too expensive compared to the competition. We were distracted by its looks and charm but when we eventually looked at the price of the car, we were astonished at the base price of R695 000 for the model we drove. That is the only flaw we have for the car, besides that one would be nit-picking to fault anything else about the car.

So we’ve established that it’s good, but is it good enough to justify the price? It depends on two things. Firstly and most importantly, the depth of your pockets and secondly what you’re personally looking for in a car. It is a fact that the Jag is the most exclusive car to own in the segment, especially since every second car you see is a 3 Series and every third is a C-Class. So if you want to put your keys on the bar counter and feel special, then the XE may sway you quite a bit. At the same time, as we previously mentioned the gap is so narrow and the competition’s cars are great, so the majority of people would rather save some money and buy the competition.

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So is there room for a fourth space in the club? From a volume perspective unfortunately not, the top three will most likely outsell the Jaguar XE purely because of South African brand loyalty. What is nice though is knowing that there are options out there for the consumer and that the German’s products aren’t the only ones that are well built, stylish and exciting. What the Jaguar XE has done is throw a spanner in the works for the segment. It has elements of all the big three mixed with some Jaguar sauce and packaged very well. The result? A gourmet C- Segment car, but like all things gourmet you pay a premium for it.