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Why I’ve come to love the VW Golf R

Why I’ve come to love the VW Golf R

If there is one vehicle VW know how to make well, it’s the hatch. More specifically, the hot hatch.  We’ve been blessed with the Polo & Golf GTI for many years and more recently, the Golf R and special edition vehicles such as the Clubsport and Clubsport S. As South Africa is a massive market for these vehicles, we’ve had our fair share of driving tests and experiences. 

In all honesty, I’ve always been a bigger fan of the Golf GTI, ( Especially Clubsport) over the Golf R. Yes, the Golf R is much quicker but the GTI always provided a better, more engaging driving experience. A great front-wheel-drive hot hatch can be hard to beat from a driving engagement perspective, but having said that, I’ve really started to understand the Golf R and the reasons to own one over a GTI.

After my recent test drive, I realized that the 228kW Golf R is your everyday super hatch.  Power is delivered through all 4 wheels and this makes for cleaner acceleration, more grip and an overall smoother driving experience. Due to this, there’s not much drama with the R but that doesn’t discount from R’s straight-line speed, it flies, it’s an absolute weapon. Add this to a comfortable, well-insulated cabin and you have yourself a great way to get to work, and if you’re running late, you’ll be glad you bought one. 

In-car technology is also an area the 228kW Golf R excelled, VW has refined the interior cabin in the 7.5 generation and the streamlined, flush display is instantly noticeable. Add this to the digital cockpit display which replaces the analogue dials and you have yourself a pretty futuristic setup – in a hatchback!  I’m a big fan of seamless processes and being able to jump into the Golf R, connect my phone and have Apple CarPlay with Spotify and Waze running in a matter of minutes is a big plus. There’s no fuss, no mess, you plug and go which is pretty much the 228kW Golf R overall.

In the past, previous generations of the Golf R haven’t been the most exciting looking vehicles, however the 228kW version now available in South Africa gets some additional black gloss trim, slightly redesigned bumpers and the rear exhaust tips placed further out to give a wider look at the rear.  The small details add to the overall look and feel of the car and makes the R look and feel that little bit more special. 

If you’re reading this article, you’ll probably know that for an extra fee ( R40k) you can have yourself a factory-fitted Akropovic exhaust system. Now if you’re worried that this will reduce practically and make the vehicle annoyingly loud, you can stop worrying. Firstly, the R is very well insulated and the system doesn’t drone, which means when your driving at a steady pace on the highway it’s not going to cause much bother. Secondly, I found most of the sound to come on hard acceleration, and if you’re accelerating hard you’re probably going to want to hear it as well. Also, the additional crackles and pops on gear changes make the system WELL worth it. 

What really rounds off the Golf R package is practicality. We mustn’t forget that the R is a Golf – one of the most practical hatchbacks around. There’s plenty of space for rear passengers and ample boot space as well. Not all “ family cars” are cool, this one is. 

If you’re someone who is looking for the practicality, comfort, and safety of a Golf, but find yourself craving power and performance of a sports car, the 228kW Golf R is a splendid choice.

Porsche 911 992 Review – We Drive the latest 911!

Porsche 911 992 Review

 The new Porsche 911 992 review in South Africa.

Mary Poppins; practically perfect in every way. That is the EXCACT way I would explain what it is like to drive the new iteration from Porsche, the 992 Generation Porsche 911. I could also end this article here as there is no way I could best describe the new 992, but in my limited vocabulary, will endeavour to lay out a just case as to why you need one in your life.

What is it? It’s the perfect blend of sports car, track car, and milestone car all rolled into one shape that has stood the test of time. Since the birth of the first 911 in 1963, it’s a vehicle that has improved with each generation. When I last drove its predecessor, I struggled to see how they could make the 911.2 better as it was just right. There was no hint of turbo lag, the steering was communicative and it was like driving a “normal” car on a daily basis. But, of course, they have made the Porsche 911 992 better in all respects. 

Porsche 911 992 Review South Africa

The first thing you notice is the front. So subtle but all so new, from its pronounced intakes and “oh wow” LED lights to striking daytime running lights layed out around the LED light element, it’s a subtle difference but one that is massive when you are used to the vehicle that come from Zuffenhausen. You carry on around and you notice the door handles that when closed, sit flush into the bodywork and pop out when triggered by the key, which just so happens to be in the shape of a 911. Not new, but another, “oh wow” moment that you take in. Walking past that, you take in the rear stance, the flared arches and hips and you get the rear, Tron-like rear light tail over the rear. The speed dependent wing/spoiler will raise and fall at certain speeds but fortunately, there is a button to keep that all the way up and just add that visual flair that the Porsche 911 992 deserves to have all the time. Signed off in the same font from yesterday, it’s striking to say the least.

Porsche 911 992 Review South Africa - Rear view

The interior is where the most dramatic changes have taken place. Like its Porsche siblings, the 992 gets two, full screens that look so slick and modern that you would think you have walked into the flagship Apple store in San Francisco. Modern with a hint of the past, the clocks are a mixture of analogue and digital with the tachometer harking back to the G series in terms of look and feel but with the adjacent dial telling you what you are listening to on your phone while its neighbour has the maps for you, it’s an environment that you would be hard pressed to find better in this category of sports car. The only ‘hmmm’ moment you have in the cabin is the tiny, and I mean tiny gearshift selector. It looks like a Remington razor and I have hands that an NBA player would be proud of so that is literally the only item that I could without. That, however, quickly fades into pale existence when you depress that brake and hit that key and the flat six, turbocharged motor comes to life. 

Porsche 911 922 review – how does it drive?

Being Cape Town, we had the perfect roads for our Porsche 911 992 review. We had two variants to choose from, the Carrera 2S and the Carrera 4S, both with 331 kW and 550 Nm of torque, my driving partner and I decided on the latter and headed for some lonely, damp roads. Gone are the massive scares where you hear of 911’s misbehaving. Nowhere in your mind is there a hint that this is a Sports Car that has its motor hanging over its rear wheels. Its precise and poised, not once threatening to have the rear overtake the front. The chassis has some understeer built into it for the driver who pushes a bit harder than what the road would allow, but it’s confidence inspiring without being dangerous. Being a 911, it will steer via the rear but this wasn’t the time and place for that and even though I may or may not have tried, the sure planted-ness of the 4’s system rewrites some rules and test your brave reading in your skillset. We spent the afternoon with slightly slower to 100 km/h (3.6 seconds as opposed to 3.4 seconds) but rear-wheel-drive 2S and were presented with some some really quick bits of road to explore the limits of the chassis. I can comfortably conclude that even though we drove harder than the average human might, we were not even close to what there two vehicles are capable of. The 2S is lighter by 50 kilograms but you would need to be a top DTM driver to feel that sort of weight difference. What I did feel that the rear drive only car was slightly more eager to turn into corners, even if the angle was slightly wider that you were planning, you could tighten that with some throttle and drive it out of those tight apex’s using a combination of throttle and steering. Magical. 

Porsche 911 992 Review South Africa - side image

Driving a 911 is always a special occasion and while conducting our Porsche 911 992 review, the vehicle did not disappoint. From the engine note that doesn’t suffer from being force fed in terms of noise, to the steering, to the looks, the 911 has the appeal of being an aspirational vehicle that marks a significant milestone that you may have reached in your company. It’s a vehicle that you plan around and with the current vehicle, our company plans need to come to fruition soon as I don’t think I can carry on longer without one of these in my garage!

Porsche 911 992 Review South Africa - headlights

How much does the Porsche 911 992 cost?

Now the bit we all want to avoid. The Porsche 911 is pricey. Starting at 1.5 million of the economy battered Rands, it’s not a whim purchase. For that amount of money, you are a bit spoilt for choice but after you have explored all the brands and what they offer, I could bet my hard earned but barred Rands, that you would be in a Porsche Centre specifying your colour and options on your Carrera. It’s the best in class and stands head and shoulders above anything in its price bracket. Well done to Porsche. Where to from here? We don’t know but then again, we haven’t been disappointed by any of the 911’s so there is just no reason to see why they would disappoint us in the future. 

Spec yours here!

 

Here’s why the Volkswagen Golf R is better than a supercar!

Volkswagen Golf R Front

Volkswagen Golf R the Super Hatch!

While the idea of owning a supercar and, at a push, driving supercar everyday may sound fab and glamourous, the reality of the situation is that no-matter where in the world you live, they aren’t particularly practical things. Sure, some of them have more luggage space than others and with independent suspension this and adaptive damping that, the majority of them are actually rather comfortable as “runabouts” – however, as a package, the supercar is still heavily flawed. 

What you need, then, is a hot-hatch – but let’s face it, if you’re the sort of person who has become accustomed the accelerative forces of V12 and V8 supercars, a Golf GTI, as lovely as it is, is hardly going to have you by the seat of your pants before setting your hair on fire…

In essence, there really is only one car for the job here – the Volkswagen Golf R. Offering unrivalled build-quality, not just at this price point but at any, superb practicality, impressive efficiency and all the creature comforts you could ever hope for, it really does live up to its legendary name as the super hatch to beat. Having been the consummate super hatch since its launch in 2013, the facelifted 7.5 Generation Golf R has just received one final update for the South African market before the introduction of the Golf 8 in 2020.

Now with the full 228 kW from Volkswagen’s 2.0-litre direct injection turbocharged motor being fed to all four wheels through Volkswagen’s advanced 4Motion AWD system, the Golf R is capable of catapulting itself to 100 km/h in a mere 4.6 seconds. While this figure is hugely impressive on paper, its far more impressive in reality. The Volkswagen Golf R hurtles itself at the horizon with breathtaking ferocity and then keeps going.

So we know that it’s fast and well built, but just how practical is it? Well when one considers that an average supercar has around 150-litres of awkwardly shaped luggage space, the Golf R’s 340-litres (1 233 – litres with the seats down) is humungous. What’s more, this space is wide, long and has a low boot ledge so as to avoid awkward fumbling when taking objects out of the boot. The boot floor isn’t too low either, which is nice.

In addition to more kW, the Volkswagen Golf R now receives the option of a lovely factory fitted Akrapovic Exhaust system. How lovely you may ask? Well, it snarls, crackles, pops and adds a raucous nature to the R which we felt may have been missing from the car in the past. Couple this with the R’s addictive induction noise, turbo flutters and wastegate whooshes and you have yourself a characterful and somewhat antisocial demeanor to it. See? Lovely. 

One can also option the R with black brake calipers which go nicely with the additional black trim bits that the 228 kW Golf R now comes with.

Speaking of those black trim bits, while the Volkswagen Golf 7 has been praised since its introduction for the fact that it is able to stand out from the crowd when you want it to, or blend in when you don’t, these minor changes to the R’s exterior really do set it apart from the ‘run of the mill’ Golf R’s.  

The eye-candy doesn’t stop at the door, though. Hop into the cabin and you’ll be greeted with Carbon-fibre look bucket seats and a thick rimmed, meaty steering wheel that feels so great in the hand when exploring the upper limits of the R’s superb chassis. The familiar 12.3-inch Active Info Display replaces traditional analogue instruments and features slick, crisp graphics and an impressive Dynaudio sound system can be had for those audiophiles who aren’t sufficiently pleased by the Akrapovic exhaust system.

Dynamically, the Volkswagen Golf R has always struck the perfect balance between engaging and exciting, yet perfectly manageable. It has an uncanny ability to make even the most novice of drivers seem like driving aces and thanks to its AWD underpinnings, is very forgiving should the driver run out of talent. Of course, this is the sort of driving that will never be done on the daily commute, and thanks to the DSG Gearbox, traffic and pottering around town are lapped up with aplomb. The adaptive dampers provide superb feedback when in the sportier modes, and then absorb the bumps brilliantly when in comfort, but without being wallowy or crashy.

The Volkswagen Golf R really is the vehicle for all seasons and the super-hatch for all people. Whether its hair-raising performance you’re after or a stylish cruiser with a banging audio system, it really does tick all the boxes that you could ever want ticked. The only question is, now – what colour would you take yours in?

 

Pricing and specs:


2.0 TSI R 228 kW DSG R681 000
228 kW/400 N.m

5 year/90 000 km Service Plan as standard
3 year/120 000 km warranty
12-year anti-corrosion warranty
15 000 km service intervals

New Suzuki Swift Sport driven in South Africa

Suzuki Swift Sport Champion Yellow

Suzuki Swift Launch Review

We drive the new Suzuki Swift Sport in South Africa

Picture this, a 17 year old man looming to purchase his first vehicle. After browsing many websites, he suddenly follows a friend’s recommendation and finds himself engrossed by none other than the Suzuki Swift Sport. Generation one, engine code M16A, color: Champion Yellow. “ This was the one” he thought.  Unfortunately for this young man, this was where the fairytale ends, as the Champion Yellow Swift Sport was out of budget. However, it’s not all doom and gloom as the young man proceeded to stay in the Suzuki family and purchase the Suzuki Swift 1.3GL – great car, great engine. 

This is where my love for the Swift began. 

Since then, I’ve gone on to own the 2nd generation Suzuki Swift Sport which still sits in my garage today. It’s safe to say I’m extremely familiar with these vehicles and pretty fond of them as well. No sooner had we learned that the car was coming to SA, had I already called dibs on the launch. 

Suzuki Swift Sport Exhaust

 

The day ahead looked to be an exciting one. We wouldn’t be driving the new Swift Sport on the road, but rather on the track, skidpan gymkhana style at Red Star Raceway.

As excited as I was, feelings of apprehension crept in as I had many many questions that needed answering. I really wanted the new Suzuki Swift Sport to be successful, yet it’s undergone big changes. The focus of this being the power plant, the 1.6 NA engine that powered both previous-generation models has been replaced in favor of Suzuki’s new Booster engine – a 1 400cc turbocharged motor which produces 103 kW and 230 Nm of torque and features direct injection. 

Whilst this isn’t a massive increase from the 100 kW and 160 Nm provided by the much-loved 1.6-litre naturally aspirated Swift- it will inherently change the characteristics of the vehicle. With the new boosted engine, power and more specifically torque now come in much earlier in the rev range. This means exploring the full potential of the engine no longer requires you to ring its neck, or in other words, rev the engine right to the redline to get the power you need – unlike the previous generation Suzuki Swift Sport. 

In fairness, this is what I and many others loved about the previous generation, it’s free-revving nature and high rpm limit made for a fun, engaging and natural drive – even if you did need to work hard for it. 

Suzuki Swift Sport rear

So, would the new Swift Sport carry on the legacy and provide a rich driving experience? Or has it been dampened due to the rising trend in turbocharging technology? 

After just a few short laps on the handling circuit at Red Star Raceway, I found the answers I was looking for. 

The new Swift Sport does lose its high rpm limit, but this doesn’t seem to affect the free revving nature of the engine. It becomes a much easier car to drive quickly as power delivery arrives much lower in the RPM range, and the 6-speed short shift gearbox aids the experience.  While it’s easy to notice that the Swift is now turbocharged, it doesn’t feel like it has swung too far in the other direction and this really shows with the performance of the car and on paper.

Suzuki Swift Sport Front

Suzuki could have opted for more power if they had wished, but they didn’t. 103kW is only 3 percent more power than the previous model, and if you think that seems a little underwhelming then you’re missing the point. The key with this vehicle isn’t power, but power-to-weight. The new Swift Sport has shed 90 kg, coming in at a total weight of 970 kg. This weight saving along with a slight increase in power and low-end torque provides a noticeable difference in performance.  

If we compared the power-to-weight ratio with a much more expensive hot hatch like the Volkswagen Polo GTI, we find that per tonne of weight, the GTI produces 115 kW & 250 Nm. The Swift Sport in comparison offers up 106kW/237Nm per tonne – here we can see how the low weight of the Swift plays a big roll in its performance.

Suzuki Swift Sport Blue

The nature of the swift means that total power output isn’t the holy grail and aiding the driving experience is the Suzuki’s chassis. It’s 40 mm wider and 15 mm lower than before, with Suzuki also retaining a similar suspension setup to that of the previous generation – if it aint broke, don’t fix it!  The result? A really sharp and nimble front end and an engaging experience with oversteer on tap if desired (and if you know what you are doing) you can really throw this car around and have plenty of fun. The 6-speed manual gearbox features a further 10% reduction in shift distance, I’ve always loved this box and the new one is just as pleasing.  The blend of more torque with reduced weight allows the Swift to retain most of the driving experience that puts a smile on our face.  

In terms of technology and safety, the latest swift sport includes a nice 4.5 inch digital display with the ability of Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a rear view camera for reversing. 6 airbags are standard, and an additional 135 liters of luggage space is now available in the new model. There is now an automatic gearbox available in the form of a torque converter. The only time I spent in this vehicle was on the Gymkhana, so I can’t really give a driving opinion yet.

Suzuki Swift Sport Red

Final thoughts

Suzuki’s new Swift Sport is not as raw from a driving perspective as the previous generation but it was never going to be. If cars like this were solely journalist/enthusiast-focused, they wouldn’t be well fitted for the modern consumer at all. Suzuki seems to have the balance right – they have incorporated new technology which aids safety, fuel economy and performance but they have also done well at retaining the soul and character of the Suzuki Swift Sport. It’s sad to see the 1.6 NA motor go, but times change and to sell cars manufacturers need to adapt to the times. It’s an evolution and a very good one at that.

Suzuki Swift Sport Pricing in South Africa

The new Suzuki Swift Sport 6 speed manual will cost you R315,000.00 including VAT, with the automatic variant coming in at R335,000.00. This price includes a 5- year/ 200 000 km promotional warranty and a 4 -year / 60 000 km service plan. 

 

Lamborghini Huracán Performante Driven Review

We Drive the Lamborghini Huracán Performante

Lamborghini Huracán Performante driven on some of Cape Town’s finest roads.

It’s early evening in 1996, and all the homework and chores are done. It’s the time that you’ve been waiting for all week. A time where zero disturbances can happen, as its 19:30 and the news is finished. It’s your time, it’s Viper time. If you’re an 80’s/90’s kid, you’ll remember that Viper was a show that all young petrol heads loved. It was a show about a cool guy, with a cool car doing cool things. Simple. That show alone was enough to make your week. It was a show that was discussed amongst school friends at break and in-between classes, it was a show that will live on forever in a young petrol heads mind.

Now you may be asking yourself, what on earth does a show from 90’s have to do with the vehicle in question? It’s simple, noise. You see, the V10 motor is something of an icon that we didn’t know we needed, but one that we simply couldn’t and can’t live without. If you are an F1 fan, I can bet you a decent amount of money that the fond memories that you have of the sport, is of the V10 era and the noise from those shrieking and wailing V10s. The sound that STILL makes the hairs on your forearms and neck, stand at attention.

This now brings us to the unadulterated, flame throwing, raving mad vehicle that is the Lamborghini Huracan Performanté. Our day started like any other media launch, but with a more intimate, “family” feel that the LMS group have honed and perfected. After the media presentation was done, we sat with the group MD, exchanged life stories over fillet steak that tasted like Maria flew in from Italy to make it. With little Italy in our mouths, paired with delicious red wine, we all chomped at the bit to drive the Italian we had REALLY came to see, the beast that awaited us in the early hours of the next morning.

It’s 6am and we’re bright eyed and bushy tailed. I’m given the keys to a Rosso Mars Performanté and my driving partner and I leave Lamborghini Cape Town to brave the early morning traffic in a 5.2L, 470kW, 600Nm rocket. To say that people gawked, stopped and huddled at intersections would be an understatement. The cameras that snapped away at the car could have rivalled the “Bee Hive” at a Beyoncé concert. Very soon, we were out of the hustle and bustle of the city and as the sun rose, so did my confidence and for the first time, I pulled on the left lever on the steering wheel, not twice, but three times and buried my foot. What happened next is a sound and feeling that I’m all too familiar with. The noise from the V10 motor engulfed the cabin and trees next to the road appeared to have had the “running water on paint treatment” and for the first time in a long time, I had tunnel vision, albeit for a short period of time. Now, I didn’t tell my driving partner this, but as the engine noise swelled and the speed rose to “arrest me and lock away the key territory”, I had to back off and just take the moment in, as well as clear my foggy glasses as I had a serious case of the feels and tears filled my “very manly” eyes. You see, this isn’t the first time that this engine configuration did this to me. From the first time I drove a V10 in 2005, even though it was in a sedan from Germany, the noise is something that I have cherished and whenever I drive a V10, it has the uncanny ability to unearth these feelings of being a child and driving cars that I could only dream of.

Our tea break loomed and we drove into a very low property, one that you wouldn’t want to enter in a supercar. It was then that I suddenly noticed the unsuspecting practicality of this car within its segment, one that I have to thank the Italian’s German parent company for. I’m in the prime of my dad bod, 6-feet tall and I wear a size 12 shoe – so I’m in no way a small human. This being the case, the Performanté had no problem accommodating me, even in the footwell. Having recently driven a Diablo, this aspect of the car was a good reminder of how far the brand has come in terms of accommodating those who aren’t supermodel sized. After fuelling ourselves with snacks that encourager my roundness even more, it was time to get back in the V10 monster. I’m now shotgun and unlike supercars of old, this vehicle was built with the passenger in mind as well. Heated seats, Apple CarPlay, a decent infotainment system, the list goes on. Gone are the days that you buy an engine and some seats. My driving partner was tamer than I was and going through wine county at moderate to slow speeds, answered the question that nobody has asked; you can use the Performanté on a daily basis. Just very loudly.

Back in the driver’s seat, I was faced with a mountain pass and a V10 massaging my back. From the first corner, you can tell that this vehicle is built for a driver that will appreciate feedback back from the car, all due to the use of clever tech and settings, allowing the Lambo to give you the best it can. The trickery comes in the form of advanced use of magic and witchcraft in the form of an aero system called ALA or, “Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva”. Now at the end of the article below is the explanation from the press release but a simplified version is as follows. The front and rear spoilers are active and constantly monitor the driving conditions. On ALA off (closed flaps), this allows for maximum cornering and high stability in said twisty bits. On ALA on (open flaps), it’s the converse which is best for top speed runs as there is minimum drag. What is by far the most interesting aspect of this system is that it can apply this system from left to right and in effect, have Aero-Vectoring to help the Performanté remain glued to the road. This also ensures that your under garments remain stain free. In corners, the Aero-Vectoring would close the flaps on the inner wheel (ALA Off) therefore increasing the downforce of the inner wheels reducing the amount of steering lock needed to complete the turn. You may be thinking “what?!” as you read this, but what this means is that the Performanté will corner like a Scalextric car on a road, and if you know the roads like how motoring journos know cape ones, it makes for an experience that you won’t forget in a hurry.

Being a four wheel drive vehicle you expect that pushing the front axle would cause the Lambo to understeer but that word doesn’t exist in this feisty Italians nature. The front goes exactly where you have dialled the lock in and the rear carves the same lane and if you are brave enough, the rear will carve a wider line with the help of the loud peddle. Steering feel is on point and you always feel connected to the road. At first, the steering did feel a bit too quick but once settled in, the nose goes exactly where your eyes want.

So in a nutshell, the Lamborghini is a rollercoaster of epic proportions. It does come with the usual driving modes a car like this would have, namely Strada, (Loud), Sport, (Louder with pops and will oversteer and make you look like a hero to a limit) and finally, Corsa (Louder with pops but will humble you if you are reckless). Suffice to say, we were very happy with a slight squirm accompanied with pops and bangs along some excellent Cape roads, so Sport setting it was. What do all these theatrics cost? R6 095 000.00 and the Rosso Mars vehicle that I’m debating pulling s heist for had a further R 663 110 added to the price list. For the amount of money that Lamborghini demand from you to park on of these in your garage, you have options ranging from a Ferrari 488 GTB, McLaren 600LT or the Porsche GT2RS. All three are excellent cars and will cost roughly the same amount, but all three offer very different experiences. You could also be patient and wait for the Huracan Evo to arrive. A standout feature in the Lamborghini is the engine, that alone can be a decider. Each time you drive it, you’ll feel like a cool guy, in a cool car, doing cool things.

 

What ALA does: 

ALA – Aerodynamics is fundamental to achieving very high performance for super sportscars. Lamborghini have used a patented, advanced active aerodynamic system to reach the highest performance. The use of a complex geometry concept is clearly represented by the rear spoiler, where you can see an inner channel for air flow controlled by an electro-actuated flap. In normal conditions, the flap is closed (Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva OFF) and the spoiler works to create higher vertical downforce, enhancing stability and cornering.

Once the LPI (Lamborghini Piattaforma Inerziale) recognizes the right conditions, the flap opens (ALA ON) letting the air flow through the inner channel created in the mounting of the wing, releasing the air flow through slots underneath the lip spoiler. The consequence of this is the reduction of the vertical load and drag, thus enhancing the acceleration phase and the top speed.

The central air ducts are always opened for the exhaust cooling. The external ducts in ALA OFF mode are closed by the electro-actuated flaps letting the rear lip spoiler create downforce by its external surface as a traditional passive wing. The electro-actuated system reduces the weight by up to 80% compared to traditional hydraulic systems.

Once the flaps open in ALA ON mode the air flow enters the external air ducts, the inner channels of the wing pillars and the rear wing, exiting through the slots engineered underneath the wing. The inner channel of the wing is split in two, divided by a central section, in order to use the ALA ON conditions alternatively on the left or on the right side creating the ideal conditions for high speed cornering and this function is called Aero Vectoring.

As seen for the ALA ON and ALA OFF conditions the Aero Vectoring is also controlled by the LPI in less than 500ms. The Lamborghini Piattaforma Inerziale recognizes the right conditions to asymmetrically actuate the internal flaps, generating low drag on the external wheel and high downforce on inner wheel to create the best conditions for cornering. An effective momentum is generated on the body and chassis, requiring a reduced steering angle to complete the corner and improving dynamic stability.

To balance the ALA effect on the rear track, an active aerodynamic system has been implemented on the front.

In ALA OFF mode the flaps are closed and the front lip spoiler generates high downforce to enhance high speed cornering and stability. As seen at the rear in ALA ON mode the flaps open, reducing the air pressure on the front spoiler. The air goes through the inner channel of the front spoiler and flows underneath the under tray of the car reducing the drag effect and creating the best conditions for acceleration and top speed performance.

ALA ON mode is activated on straight sections under full throttle conditions, to reduce drag due to the air resistance, enhancing the acceleration and the top speed performance. In ALA ON mode the flaps are opened to reduce the load transfer between front and rear. Under braking conditions, once the vertical load is needed, the flaps are closed enhancing stability.

Approaching a corner, the Aero Vectoring mode is activated with the rear flap closed on the internal side of the corner creating a kind of torque vectoring. When looking at the left corners of a circuit on the right corners the flaps on the right are closed, generating downforce on the internal wheel approaching the corner.

ALA enables very effective advantages:

– an increase of 750% of vertical downforce compared with a no rear wing configuration car

– a decrease of 80% in weight compared to a traditional aero system activated by hydraulic actuators

– a quick and responsive system actuated in less than 500ms

– a perfect balance between the front and rear track in ALA OFF mode

McLaren Speedtail: Fastest McLaren ever made.

McLaren Speedtail is McLaren’s first Hyper-GT.

The hype has been building. McLaren teased us all with limited information and obscure images of the McLaren Speedtail but today, everything was dropped. Well almost everything. The McLaren Speedtail is the first Hyper-GT model by the brand. They say it is the ” ultimate McLaren road car with extreme performance”.

McLaren Speedtail

Just like the McLaren F1, the Speedtail features a central driving position with two seats either side. Encapsulating these seats is a teardrop styled cabin, built on a bespoke Monocage carbon fibre structure. Elegance has been created through reduction. Every body panel is carbon fibre and designed to reduce drag. It’s features like these that result in the Speedtail having the lowest drag coefficient of any road going McLaren vehicle. Interestingly, Speedtail is narrower than the P1 but over half a metre longer to more resemble the teardrop shape.

The Speedtail is beautiful in some senses and weird in others. From the front, sleek, sharp lines and narrow lights posses real beauty. The rear is also pretty astonishing, however, the side profile is quite unusual, and the wheel covers kind of throw me off. There is doubting though that this is one special vehicle.

McLaren Speedtail

Powertrain & Performance

The details on Speedtail’s powertrain have yet to be released. We do know that it has a dry weight of 1430kg and produces 1036bhp, that’s 772Kw. It may sound like a lot, but it’s still shy of Bugatti’s Cheron (1,479bhp) and the Koenigsegg’s Agera RS (1,341bhp).

0-300km/h time is reached in just 12.8 seconds. To put this into perspective, the McLaren p1 accomplished this feat in 16.5 seconds. There was talk that the Speedtail would reach 300mph (482 km/h). It doesn’t but still achieves a grand top speed of 250mph (403km/h). Still, this makes the Speedtail the fastest McLaren ever built, beating the Mclaren F1 by 7 mph. McLaren partnered with Pirelli to design and produce a bespoke P-ZERO tyre to make speeds like this possible.

Something that you will instantly notice is the carbon fibre front-wheel static aero covers. These are used to reduce drag and work by remaining in a fixed position as the wheels rotate.  keeping the air ‘attached’ to the vehicle and allowing it to flow onwards the door blades and rear of the vehicle. McLaren explains in detail how the wheel covers work with other aerodynamic elements.

” The static wheel covers work in conjunction with multiple ducts and air paths to reduce turbulent air within the wheelarches. As air passes out of the LTRs, for instance, it is vented into the front wheelarches. From there – together with heat energy generated by the lightweight, carbon ceramic braking system – the air is channeled through the ducts in the fixed front wheel aero cover in a consistent flow pattern. Pressure within the wheelarches is also reduced via the lower door vents, which draw the turbulent air created by the rotating front wheels out of the arches and drive it smoothly along the sides of the McLaren Speedtail “

Similar to the Audi e-tron, the Speedtail doesn’t feature any wing mirrors. Instead, two discreet high-def cameras glide out of the side doors when the ignition is activated. Why? Simple, mirrors create plenty of air turbulence that isn’t wanted when you are trying to reach 400km/h.

McLaren Speedtail

Central Driving Position

The driving position of the Speedtail is in the centre of the cockpit. McLaren tell us this provides a perfectly balanced view of out of the windscreen. Access to the main central seat is made easy by directional leather which makes it easy to ‘slide in’ . Once seated, a state-of-the-art control system is at the drivers disposal. High def displays and touch screens remove nearly every button found in a traditional car. Above the drivers head are panels and dials which control windows, engine start/stop, the Active Dynamics Panel and also engage Velocity mode. This cabin blows me away and looks more like something you would find in a spaceship, not a car.

Velocity Mode

Velocity mode has been specifically developed for the Speedtail. To reach 403km/h, this mode needs to be engaged.  It optimises the powertrain for high-speed running, whilst also adjusting the angles of rear ailerons. Further, the Speedtail is lowered by 35mm and electronic mirrors are retracted to improve aerodynamical performance.

Pricing and customisation

Due to the fact that only 106 models will be made, McLaren has been able to push vehicle personalisation into unchartered territory. McLaren’s vision was to create the ultimate in bespoke vehicle design. From using specially selected Scandinavian hides which undergoes a five-week tanning process in vegetable oils. To customers being able to select unique stitch patterns in whichever colour they wish and bespoke decorative forms can be created within the leather through digital quilting. We don’t need to go into too much detail here, but know that every Speedtail will be unique. This is expected though, especially for a price tag of at least £1.75 million. ( R27,261,000 at the time of writing)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you get for R3M: Range Rover SVAutobiography

Range Rover SVautobiography

Range Rover SVAutobiography

A short while ago, Jaguar Land Rover introduced their 2018 Range Rover model. Now they’ve released another variant of this model, the SVAutobiography. Let’s just say it’s very, very nice.

The SVAutobiography is a variant developed by SVO, ( Special Vehicle Operations) Jaguar Land Rover’s “tuning” division. With the fast coupes, they make them faster and with the new Discovery, they made it  more adventurous. With the Range Rover being the staple of luxury in the brand, it would only make sense for SVO to make it, well, more luxurious.

There are many “Luxurious” cars on the road, but few fall into a certain class. We can call this the “Chauffeur Class”, where one sits in the rear and gets driven, rather than driving themselves. The Range Rover SVAutobiography definitely fits into this class, I mean what’s the point of spending in excess of R3m if you can’t enjoy it right?

In the rear one will find executive seating, which offers 40-degree recline, a hot stone massage function, heated calf and foot rests as well as a 22-way seat adjustment. This is perfect then for the 1.2m of legroom the SVAutobiography offers, if you opt for the long-wheelbase model that is.

There is no room to squeeze a person in between the rear seats either, as a fixed central console runs the length of the interior cabin. From this central console one will be able to carry out functions such as power close the rear doors, or access the hidden fridge which can hold two wine bottles. Electrically deployable tables are also a feature which graces the rear cabin, and the right-hand rear seat folds to accommodate long items, if you’re a CEO who likes a spot of surfing.

Range Rover SVAutobiography

Every Range Rover SVAutobiography will be hand-finished exclusively at the SVO Technical Centre in Warwickshire, UK. Three engine engine derivatives will be available, including the Jaguar Land Rover’s hybrid engine, the P400e, along with a 4.4l SDV8 and the 5.0L V8 Supercharged engine. No offical pricing for South Africa has been released, but with UK pricing starting at £168k, don’t expect anything elss than a R3m price tag.

Mazda MX5- RF: Best weekend car, worst weekday car.

Mazda MX5-RF

Mazda MX5- RF Driven Review

Weekend vehicle:

Definition: “That car that makes you forget about all your problems and dependants for a period of time, preferably early mornings when the kids or the wife is asleep.” TheMotorist Dictionary

Let us begin…

“Ah, two seats, low center of gravity, a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine and a targa top roof. What more could you want” was just one of my thoughts, as I eagerly awaited the arrival of Mazda’s MX5-RF. I’d heard great things about this car and after driving it, I’m here to tell you why it may be the perfect weekend car for someone on a reasonable budget.   

From the outside, the MX5 is a looker. It’s low, features a long front end with sharp striking details such as shark-like headlights and grille. Add the meteor grey paintwork to it and it really does look sublime and sporty. It’s near perfect for a  South African Sunday summer drive. Affordable sports cars are a rarity today, so there’s not much to compare the MX5 RF with, hence why it’s difficult to call it affordable. R532 800 may not be a cheap, but it’s cheaper than what you would pay for one of its few rivals. In fact, it’s over R100K cheaper than a Fiat 124 Spider.

So it looks the part, but what makes it extra special? It’s funny, what makes me love it on the weekends is what makes me dislike it during the week. Let’s start with the obvious – it’s small. I’m not what you would describe as a tall person, I am actually on the shorter side of life (as much as I hate to admit it). I am also pretty youthful at 25, and my BMI is probably in the normal range, depending on how much time I’ve spent with my colleagues. Still, getting in and out the MX-5 is a mission, partly due to how low it sits from the ground coupled with the tight interior cabin. I found myself panting as if I haven’t kicked a soccer ball in years each time I had to get in. So then, getting in and out of the car, is a maneuver you probably don’t want to be doing at least twice a day. Doing this everyday of the week, in bad weather, when your back is sore, or when you are late for work is not going to leave you feeling thrilled. On a very bad day, this entire procedure will just make everything worse, a “straw that broke the camel’s” back scenario could easily ensue. You may not strike the nearest person to you, or quit your job out of anger, but you will make use of many expletives and remember why your wife said this vehicle won’t work.  

Once you have finally acrobatically seated yourself, the cabin is rather snug too. It’s not particularly comfortable either. What it is though, is very engaging. You feel “at one with the car” At least that’s what the brochure of the vehicle says. This feeling maybe not be what you want to experience everyday of your life. Traffic is traffic, so it’s rather pointless feeling like you’re in a go-kart if you can’t do anything about it. The interior storage space is also fairly limited, there is a cubby hole in the centre and behind the seats. In order to use the rear one, you need the neck skills of an owl. I also didn’t know where to put the key, my wallet and even my phone, thus wedging them in between my legs, thus increasing my risk of testicular cancer. Once again, not ideal.

Then comes the issues of driving on the road, I found that because the mX5 is so small and low, taxis, trucks and buses struggled to see me. Careful attention and the odd maneuver, helped me avoid getting sideswiped or frankly squashed – not a worry you need on the daily run to the office. So then when is the perfect time to use this car?

Imagine now you only needed to deal with these issues once a week, on quiet roads with the wind in your hair and the sun beating down on your forehead. Suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad. These problems all disappear as your chase the next best road, something the MX5 loves doing.

The Mazda MX-5 RF excels as a weekend car, or even a vehicle you drive to work on the odd occasion. It’s fun and sporty demeanor means that these everyday issues are just blips on the radar, when the car is used for what it was built to do –  be driven hard.

As much as the MX-5 may have many little annoyances, driving is one area it excels. It’s not about its engine, it’s the package as a whole. What makes it exasperating everyday is what makes it great when the right time comes. The low ride height gives it sense of fun and a “go-karty” feel. The 2.0 litre naturally aspirated engine is also punchy and free revving. All of these attributes combined, make for a very fun driving experience.

What’s funny is that the MX-5 isn’t mind blowingly fast. Even though it’s rear wheel driven, it doesn’t feel like it’s going to throw heaps of oversteer at you when you least expect it. Instead it makes you work for it. Working for it is the best part, as we live in a world where power in most cars is so accessible, it can take the fun away.  That is what stood out about the Mazda MX-5 RF for me. It can also be driven enthusiastically and enjoyed by drivers who may not have that much experience handling powerful rear wheel drive cars. It’s fun, but accessible. I’d love to say it’s perfect, but it’s not. Where Mazda missed the off ramp with this car is the gearbox. Had they left the 6 speed manual found in the MX5 roadster, the RF would be damn near perfect. Unfortunately, gear changes are made via an automatic gearbox, which can get in the way of your experience.

Put that aside and the Mazda MX-5 RF provides great summer fun. As a daily, I’d have something else, but if I had some monies lying around, it would park in my garage as a toy. Being in the city, convenience and ease of drive is a big thing for many of us. One can’t just “get up and go” with the MX-5. You would need to “get up, try get in, eventually get in, get comfortable, drop your phone, get annoyed and then go”. On a weekend however, for those moments alone on a blissfully quiet road and less worries, you’ll love it.

Updated Nissan X-Trail First Drive.

The mid-size compact SUV is fast becoming the most popular choice for most people, and for good reason. You get sedan-like space and ease of parking cocktailed with SUV practicality and versatility. This recipe gives you the perfect family vehicle for shuttling the kids to school during the week, as well as the weekend family getaway. The Nissan X-Trail has been a favourite for many, even though it looked like it was straight out of a Lego set at the turn of the century. That car, paired with “mom and dad jeans” created the makings of a perfect Parkhurst family back then.

Fast forward to 2014, the jeans as well as the Lego set were traded in for a PS3 and fitted jeans from Country Road. The X-Trail was now a good-looking car with sharp edges and a more rounded off shape. Was Nissan going to make a mess of this with its update of its third generation X-Trail? Fortunately, the greeting that we got of the new car, on a VERY windy and cloudy Port Elizabeth morning was an improvement on the fitted jeans. You get a nip and tucked front end complemented by LED daytime running lights with the optional Intelligent headlights. The rear too sees some lighting changes which are in tune with 2017.

The first vehicle that we drove was the 1.6 dCI Tekna 4WD version with a healthy 320Nm of torque and 96kW. This engine is mated to an easy to operate manual 6 speed gearbox. In a sea of automatics, CVTs, DCTs, PDC, 123s and so forth, it was refreshing to operate a vehicle with an H-Pattern. Especially in a quiet town, on country roads where K53 and clutch control isn’t on the top of the to-do list. Stick the same car in Johannesburg traffic however and I may have felt different about it. The top of the range Tekna specification vehicle has all the bells and whistles that you would expect from a vehicle of this class. For instance, one gets the aforementioned Intelligent Auto lights, Climate control with dual control. You also get Intelligent Around View Monitor, a 7” touch screen with Nissan Connect apps and navigation, Intelligent lane Intervention, Intelligent Emergency Braking, Intelligent Front Collision Warning and Cross Traffic Warning. As you can see this vehicle is intelligent!

Expecting the vehicle to be on the slightly sluggish side, we set off and I immediately introduced my right foot to the go pedal, which passed on my greetings to the firewall. The Introduction was short as I immediately had to ease off the pedal as the wave of torque came to the rescue and carried the new X-Trail comfortably without having to chase the diesel red line. The steering is also good, translating what the tarmac has to say with ease and you never feel that you are lost in translation with the front end of the vehicle. (What is that beep?) The suspension handles undulations in a fine manner, as well as broken tarmac without a threat to your fillings. Long trips with the family will no doubt be a breeze. Ergonomically, the X-Trail does well with placement of obvious control and you don’t find yourself wondering where items and functions are. (There’s that beep again, where is it coming from?)

After a vehicle swop, I found myself behind the wheel of the 126 kW, 233Nm 2.5 Petrol CVT version. Now, I’ve never been a fan of the CVT gearbox as I find it doesn’t suite my driving style. I’m simply don’t like how every CVT sounds like the engine is going to explode when you accelerate. A conventional automatic would have done a fantastic job, in my opinion. (There is that beep again!) You definitely feel the reduction in torque from the diesel to the petrol but this isn’t a racecar and as a kiddy friendly vehicle, it has enough power to see to Hannah and all her Barbie’s. (The Beep!) Eventually I had to stop and find this darn noise. Turns out, it’s the Intelligent lane Intervention. Each time it detects that you’re going off course, it beeps at you – something I picked up hours into our journey. Maybe I’m not as smart as I thought…

Our first drive impression of the updated X-Trail is one that was very positive. We would definitely take the diesel with the manual gearbox as our top pick. Pricing is very good and starts at R369 000 for the petrol version. A 90 000 km/3-year service plan is standard as well as the 6 year/150 000 km warranty. We look forward to spending more time with the car and put it through some real family tests, babies and all.

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet Facelift

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet Facelift

Not too long after its introduction Merc has recognised the need to update and sprinkle some new life into their flagship Grand Tourer, The S-class Coupe and Cabriolet models. The Sedan having received the same treatment a few months ago, the life has now reached the two door counterpart.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe

The largest and most announceable differences are to the exterior where a new front and rear bumper design with air channelling air ducts which replace the chrome front splitter and add a far sportier flair to the overall front end profile. The facelifted models also gain the new “Panamericana” grille with vertical chrome stakes and revision to the rear end. The twin tailpipe finished in chrome that was exclusive to the V12 now extends to all models and replaces the dual exit exhaust of the previous model. The other changes to the external look include redesigned side skirts and sills and a greater selection of Wheel designs. The Lights have to be treated with the paint brush as the OLED units have now been redesigned and have varying degrees of brightness depending on the driving condition. The addition of two new lower spec models which have joined the line up with the S450 being powered by their new V6 turbo and the S560 uses the new V8.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe

Under The Hood

The S450 will be powered by their 3litre turbo V6 producing 270 kW and 520 N.m of Torque. In line with the AMG move to the smaller more efficient engines, the 4.0 Litre V8 will replace the now ditched, older 5.5 V8 and add additional 20 Kw’s over the older model. The new Nine-speed automatic we saw in the New E63s will lift to turn over a combined fuel consumption figure of 9.3L/100km. The top brass S65 will keep the 463 kW, 1000 N.m V12 and still use the same Seven-speed automatic.

Tech and interior

The S-class cabin remains a rather well appointed and statesmanly with the only new edition being the new steering wheel and seats. The twin 12.3 digital dashboard and display remains the same and options will include carbon fibre trimmings, Carbon-ceramic brakes and even a Track pack with lap time recording.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Pricing in South Africa

Prices for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe and Cab start at an eye watering R2.3 Million, that’s before all the fancy options.