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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.

The MINI Countryman Diesel Arrives in South Africa – We Drive It!

MINI Countryman Diesel Driven Review

The new MINI Countryman launched in South Africa earlier this year and TheMotorist team attended that launch, we even shot a video on it, and we were very impressed with how the Countryman had grown up.

Not just figuratively either, the New Mini Countryman is bigger, smarter and overall, much more family orientated. Historically in South Africa, all MINI variants, Countryman or otherwise, were only available in petrol derivatives. Well now that has all changed, with the introduction of the new MINI Countryman Diesel. There is better news, we managed to get behind the wheel of the Countryman D and find out what it is all about.

MINI Countryman Diesel

Is this a bold step for MINI? Maybe, but from where I was sitting, I think it is a very good step indeed. The MINI Countryman Diesel still possess everything the MINI brand is about, it not only looks ‘cool’ and has a great road presence, it also feels ‘cool’ as well. The interior features that typical MINI style with the large central interface with bold designs and colours, which is further emphasized through lighting effects. The technology is present as well with the MINI Connected system which enables the owner to access the vehicle’s location, its fuel level, how far it has been driven, and even send destinations to the navigation system, all from a mobile app.

This leads me onto one point I love about the MINI brand, whether you are a young singleton looking for a sporty 3-door hatch, or a growing family needing more space and size, you don’t need to compromise on style in exchange for practicability. In essence, the MINI Countryman has those same attractive elements, such as the young and hip feel which draws you to a MINI Hatch, just in a bigger package. Diesels don’t have to be boring, and the Countryman D is everything but.

MINI Countryman Diesel

As one would expect, when behind the wheel there are many similarities to the petrol variants of the Countryman, such as driving dynamics – it handles really well and has minimal body roll, but there is one big difference. The Countryman Diesel is so effortless to drive, it’s wonderfully quiet and quite noticeably smooth. It implores you to take it easy and dwell on the money saved thanks to it’s sipping of fuel – 4.0l/100kms to be exact.

Don’t get me wrong, it many certainly be able to handle itself like its petrol siblings, but this isn’t the MINI for a sporty or performance minded individual. It’s 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel produces 110 kW and 330 N.m and while these figures are decent, it is also a big car. There is a good kick of torque from pull off and in the lower RPM range which enabled decent in gear acceleration when cruising, something this car feels like it was built to do.There is little point of searching the higher RPM range of this car because little will be found, most of the power and torque is found lower down and the 8-speed automatic gearbox, which is a pleasure, makes great use of this.

MINI Countryman Diesel

The MINI Countryman Diesel does feature the various MINI driving modes, Green, Mid and Sport. The latter gives better throttle response, slightly sharper steering and a host of visual elements such as lighting and dials. Personally, I mostly enjoyed the Countryman Diesel in the Green mode, elements such as the throttle and steering are relaxed and even more fuel saving features are introduced such as a coasting feature which drops the transmission into neutral. My personal feeling is that this MINI is better suited for this mode, if we were driving a JCW on the other hand, that would be a different story.

Who best suits this MINI?

As you may know, the Countryman is a good option for young families and also buyers who are already in the MINI brand but are looking to size up for whatever reason, without losing the MINI Appeal.

This still stands with the MINI Countryman Diesel, the difference is that with for example, the Cooper S, there is always the option to have a spirited drive when the kids are not around. The Diesel does not give off that appeal, it’s  kind of sensible all the time. It would be a fantastic choice if you’re adventurous and love long coastal drives to Cape Town, or maybe you travel fair distances to work and want to reduce fuel costs, you could even possibly just prefer a diesel engine over a petrol. You can tick any of those boxes without having to choose the usual ‘boring car’. The MINI Countryman Diesel is your answer.

MINI Countryman Diesel

If, on the other hand, the Countryman makes plenty of sense with what it offers, but you still want to have a spirited weekend drive through the Midlands on the odd occasion, or you take fancy to exploring the higher rev ranges and driving pleasures that a petrol engine can offer, head for the Countryman Cooper S. If you want all of the above and more, the 171 kW Countryman John Cooper Works is also now available.


Part 2: Which Luxury BMW do you choose? BMW M760Li

BMW M760Li South African Review

Why the new BMW M760Li can be a frustrating car to own…

BMW 760Li South African Review

Read Part One: Which Luxury BMW do you choose? BMW 750Li

Having copious amounts of money comes with certain perks. Unlike us common folks, you don’t really have to deal with things like budget anxiety, traffic and even tax. Speaking of traffic, cars like the BMW 7 Series have longed serviced the needs of wealthy clients, but for many years the segment has been dominated by Mercedes Benz. Whilst Merc kept introducing longer faster and more opulent models, BMW didn’t seem too interested in the competition. For long BMW lovers begged for an M7 as the people of Mercedes Benz had vehicles like the S63 and S65 AMG to combine absolute power and absolute luxury. Eventually, BMW cracked. The answer? A long wheel base 7 Series called an M760Li. Using the G12 platform, the car offers enough legroom at the back for a man in stilts and enough power to render an industrial generator useless. With a power figure of 448kW/800N.m, it is the most powerful BMW ever made. That may seem ludicrous because the car weighs over 2 tons and it’s a 7 Series for Pete’s sake. The Germans are clever as the car has a traction advantage over its competitors. xDrive allows the BMW M760Li to propel from 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds. Yikes.

BMW 760Li South African Review

All this performance does create a problem for the owner of this car. Do you drive, or do you get driven? Traditionally an Li variant of a 7 Series would be the car your driver takes you from point A to point Z with. Now with all this exciting performance offered in the BMW M760Li, you may have to reconsider your arrangements. Sitting in the rear seat is a fantastic space to be. A middle partition makes the car a four seater only, which also creates a “first class” feel in the car. I have access to infotainment, seating adjustment, air conditioning and more whilst in the back. One can really forget their troubles in the back of this car. Up front however I have all the gadgets we’ve come to know and love in the current 7 Series. Gesture control, various safety options and driver aids makes this car a moving tech machine. Most excitingly though is access to the 6.6 litre V12 TwinPower Turbo engine. In Comfort mode, it’s as silent as a 740i. In Sport and Sport Plus it’s a different story…

BMW 760Li South African Review

You would think that the car would be a wild animal, screeching tyres and exhibiting a hooligan-like personality. This isn’t the case however. The car is mind blowing in terms of acceleration but very composed. The aim of this vehicle is to keep your suit looking suave, even under extreme driving conditions. The steering is near perfect for a car of this nature as it is not like the feeling you get on an M car. Depending on the mode you’re in, the weight of the steering changes but never enough to feel cumbersome. Quite frankly “visceral” is not the word you want when explaining what your high performance 7 Series feels like. Rather the word you want to use is “stately”, and stately it is. Another word you wouldn’t expect to use is nimble. The fact is in Sport Plus, the M760Li hides it’s weight better than a fat person in a corset. It’s a real engineering feat.

BMW 760Li South African Review

My quandary with this car though is what do you choose? If I were to be have the budget for it, I would love to exploit the capabilities of this car as the driver. At the same time traffic is a reality and like I said, rich people don’t have to sit in traffic. I’d rather be in the back seat for that. So what do you do? Keep a chauffeur on stand-by? It’s a real “first world problems” frustration. A gentleman from BMW at the launch of the car said that if he owned one, he would stick the chauffeur in the boot during the weekend and take him out in the week. The legalities around the concept are difficult, but he makes sense. BMW have a built a car that’s so good at being dual purpose, you’ll battle to pick where you want to be.

BMW 760Li South African Review

So then is the BMW M760Li worth the hype? In many respects yes, purely because they’ve created a healthy balance between luxury and performance. A bit too much power perhaps? There’s never such a thing as too much power. As long as it’s usable then so be it and the addition of xDrive makes this car much more usable than its rivals. For R2.6 million is it worth it? The figure is not what matters here. The statement is the key thing. For those looking to make a statement, what more do you want than an extra long Matte grey 7 Series with 20inch wheels and V12 badge on the C-Pillar? The M760Li is not the car you buy for just the luxury or the performance, much like a Mercedes – AMG S65, you buy it to say “I’m the best”. Period.  


Hyundai Tucson Sport overview

Tucson Sport South Africa

Hyundai Tucson Sport in South Africa

The Hyundai Tucson seems to be a very popular car in South Africa, it looks good, offers a good range of options and has an industry leading warranty. Those reasons alone maybe why Hyundai have sold over 7500 models in the last 13 months – not too shabby at all.

Tucson Sport South Africa

More and more vehicles nowadays feature a sports model with more aggressive styling and performance as there is a demand for these types of cars. So what if you loved the look and style and Tucson but wanted a little more mmph? Well up until recently Hyundai didn’t have an option, but now they do and it’s called the Tucson Sport – How imaginative.

Tucson Sport South Africa

With the Tucson Sport you get more power, 150 kW and 290 Nm of torque to be exact which are some very nice figures. Additionally, the Tucson Sport comes with a full body kit which doesn’t look great at all; it seems to have been stuck on the original body and comes across as a massive after-thought – the side skirts emphasise this. Matched to this are 19” black alloy wheels, unique to the Tucson Sport with low profiles tyres for better handling characteristics and visual appeal. Finally, Hyundai has added a new exhaust system which features four chrome pipes and an increase in engine noise to finish off the sports appearance.

The Tucson Sport will cost R499 900 which includes standard features such as the 8-inch infotainment system, navigation, Bluetooth, USB and Aux interfaces and a rear view camera. Auto A/C, cruise control and electronically adjusted leather seats are also included in the price along with Hyundai’s 7-year/200 000 km warranty, roadside assistance for 5 years or 150 000 km, and a 5-year/90 000 km service plan.

Personally, parts of the Tucson Sport look a little cheap and it feels like a rushed idea. As always, a full review will come soon.

Suzuki Baleno Driven Review

Long term test on the Suzuki Baleno in South Africa

Rewind to 1997 – Britney was fresh on the scene, George Clooney was Batman, Tony had just become Prime Minister and I had just learnt how to walk. These were all iconic events in their own right and while the world was marvelling at Mike Tyson biting off Evander Holyfield’s ear and some new book about a wizard named Harry was flying off the shelves, Volkswagen had just launched the Golf Mk. IV and the turd that was the first A-Class had just arrived, much to everyone’s dismay. “What a time to be alive” said nobody while looking at the A-Class’ obliquely mounted engine, a design so revolutionary that not a single car makes use of it some 20 years later.

One thing that was quite cool about the late 90’s, however, was how laid back the world was, relatively speaking, of course. Vehicle safety consisted of ABS for those who could afford it and motorists had only just started noticing the seatbelts in their cars, but atrocities such as the Daewoo Lanos and Hyundai Atos were also considered to be “fun and affordable” which we can all agree were complete lies. Living life on the edge was relatively simple, but being mollycoddled was a bit more difficult. Here we sit in 2017, however, and it seems as though the inverse is true – pampering and protecting has become the norm while wrangling a crocodile or playing with fireworks are just a few of the activities that are now frowned upon as they are either too dangerous or unfriendly to someone and their hamster.

I enjoy living life on the edge, which is why I switch the traction control off whenever I drive my boosty MINI in the rain – familiar, but frightening. It gives one a sense of what it would be like to share your own garden with a hungry lion. I do this, though, because it is difficult to find a car these days that exhibits what can only be described as old fashioned motoring. By this, I do not mean no seatbelts and oil leaks, but there used to be a sense that the human was integral to the operation of the vehicle, something that seems to be missing from almost everything built after 2010. I say almost, though because the Suzuki Baleno is the air-freshener in the change room that we have all been waiting for.

Launched towards the end of 2016, the Baleno is slightly larger than a Polo, but a lot cheaper than a Polo. Obviously it feels a bit cheaper too, but not bad cheaper – it’s good cheaper.

Having been handed the keys to a whole Baleno 1.4 GLX for the month of December, I wrapped the MINI up and left it in the garage, promising myself that no matter how tempted I was to take it for a spin, I’d turn to the Baleno for my thrills. A lot to live up to, then, but I was confident in the not-so-little Suzie’s abilities given the praise that the Baleno received when launched here in South Africa.

A supple ride, comfortable seats and a delightfully tactile steering wheel were a few of my favourite interior features while the silver plastic that swooshes its way along the dashboard was not. Bluetooth connectivity, a CD player, front and rear electric windows, cruise control and a trip computer all come as standard on the GLX model we had, as do the LED daytime running lights and BiXenon headlamps. So all in all, a wonderfully specced vehicle which, despite its compact dimensions, certainly has enough space for 5 as we discovered on our Christmas day jaunt to Rustenburg. The entire Whittle family, Christmas ham and all, piled into the Baleno and off we went.

Having embarked on much the same route, solo, the day before to Hartebeespoort damn, I was intrigued to see how the Baleno performed 5-up. Unsurprisingly, a sterling performance was delivered, achieving an average of 4.4 l/100km there and back. Thankfully, the 1.4-litre N/A four-cylinder petrol motor isn’t only good at sipping fuel, and has quite a bit of poke should you plant your foot and stir the gears properly. Power delivery is somewhat more akin to that of a 1.6-litre motor, despite the engine’s power figures of 68 kW and 130 N.m.

The Baleno is rather handsome and exhibits some interesting exterior design elements such as the swishy headlights with integrated DRL’s and flat bottomed taillights, but from certain angles it does look a bit…funny. A friend of mine’s mum even went so far as to describe it as being “beautiful” but her car history consists of a pistachio green Nissan Micra and an old-shape Murano so I wouldn’t listen to her. Our test unit was finished in Ray Blue metallic which does well to highlight the vehicle’s many chrome accents.

Priced from R199 900 (R229 900 for our test unit) the Baleno offers a good value for money product which won’t unnecessarily mollycoddle you, but it won’t leave you sitting at the edge of your seat either. It comfortably establishes itself in the “good old-fashioned” category, but without being old fashioned – something that few cars are able to do these days. It’s honest, it’s fun to drive, incredibly spacious and punches well above its weight, and while not even the ‘range’ reading on the trip computer allows you to live life on the edge – it reads ‘- – – ‘ once you hit 30 km of range – it was definitely able to feed me sufficient driving thrills for a whole month.

The Baleno’s challenge was simple – keep me away from the MINI for a month, and it did. Good job Suzuki.