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SA Manufacturers Offering Lockdown Related Plan Extensions

With the ever-growing uncertainty of the lockdown ever-present, the Covid-19 pandemic seemingly has no end. The additional stress of having to deal with your vehicle’s service or Motorplan and how the lockdown affects it has been easied. These manufacturers are offering grace periods or extensions.

Audi SA Freeway Plan

The 5year/100 000 Kilometere Audi Freeway Plan has been extended to include, an additional three months to the term to all contracts expiring within the 27/03/2020 – 30/06/2020 period. This is over and above the one month grace that was initially applied at the beginning of the lockdown. The Freeway plan serves as a full maintenance plan and covers both service and wear and tear maintenance.

Ford SA Service Plan

Ford has extended by two months service plans due to expire from 01/03/2020 – 31/04/2020, with services that have not been completed due to the lockdown. This will begin from 01/06/2020, until 31/07/2020. The service and repair of vehicles permitted to operate will be facilitated through 23 designated dealers.

Isuzu SA

Isuzu Motors has added two-month extensions to all service & Mobility maintenance plans that would have been affected by the lockdown. Pivotally for a commercial brand like Isuzu, the service and repairs of essential service vehicles will remain open, with service intervals being extended and a body corrosion check available until 15/05/2020.

Kia SA

Kia has pleaded the relaxation of maximum service intervals, so to allow for customers to not lose the vehicle warranty. Additionally, the extension of KIA manufacturer warranty will be implemented, if the affected vehicle plans were due to expire in March or April 2020, seeing the extension move to the end of June 2020.

VW EasyDrive plan

VW’s that have a warranty of EasyDrive Plan that is due to expire in the period from 27/03/2020 – 30/06/2020 will receive a Three-month extension to their Volkswagen plan. Mileage restrictions will not be extended and a 1500km or 1 Month Grace will apply to all services scheduled during the lockdown.

In the event that the new vehicle warranty or the EasyDrive Plan expires or has expired during the period from 27 March 2020 to 30 June 2020, Volkswagen will extend the warranty or maintenance/service plan periods with an additional three months. These periods will end three months after the expiry of the new vehicle warranty or the Volkswagen EasyDrive Plan. The mileage restrictions will not be extended.

2020 Ford EcoSport spec update

The Ford Ecosport has been with us for in effect for seven years at this point, with the facelifted version we know now coming in 2018. The Segment that is now the highly contested Compact SUV market that makes for some outright better competition but the tried and trusted formula that is ‘bang-for-buck’ value spec-heavy justification that still suggests its capabilities.

The main update comprises of the Automatic 6-Speed addition of the 1.5Litre Trend. Other range updates include the specification updates to Both the Trend and Titanium model, through Collision Mitigation that brakes the vehicle and provides the driver with warnings to alert of danger. Other small updates include the Crusie Control with speed limiter on the Trend and front Park Distance Sensors on the Titanium.

2020 Ford EcoSport Pricing

EcoSport 1.5 Ambiente 5MT                                      R279 700 EcoSport 1.5 TDCi Ambiente 5MT                             R289 900 EcoSport 1.5 Ambiente 6AT                 R297 600 EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost Trend 6MT                          R319 200 EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost Trend 6AT                           R333 900 EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6MT                      R357 000 EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6AT                      R370 400

We Drive the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Sports Tourer

Our driven review on the Mercedes-Benz B200 AMG LINE Sports Tourer

The B-class has always been somewhat of a strange offering to the market from Merc, with the first generation being a bit of a sandwich box MPV in a world of SUVs and hatchbacks. Understand even is South Africa where badge loyalty still exists, even in tough economic times, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class has always been the underdog to the smaller and more conventional hatch, even in its first iteration. Now with the new models and the new Merc ethos which is filled with MBUX based tech, line ups that are designed to drive home a more holistic vehicle which features that are lifted from more expensive models where does the updated B-Class fit?

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Sports Tourer front

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Sports Tourer shares the same platform as the New A-class but has an increased bulk and feels like a much larger car given the standard A-class hatchback dimensions when contrasted with that of the more MPV-like feel of the B-Class. The Driving position is higher, and Merc claims the driver sits 90mm more elevated than in the A-Class and this is felt, with the all-round visibility improving over the standard car on which it’s based. The Increases to the roofline and doorway entry space makes the B-Class easier to get in and out of in-line with the Minivan appeal. The B-class does outshine the smaller counterpart. 

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Interior

Internally the cabin is very much in line with the New Merc interior architecture with everything lifted directly from the A-Class, and the theme of MBUX connectivity still shines through. The options with respects to the driver information display being slightly altered for this model, and offering the opportunity of 3 screen sizes. A twin 7-inch, a 7- and 10.25-inch display or the Widescreen Twin 10.25 Display fitted to our test car, with the optional heads-up display. The MBUX optional connectivity with the “Hey Mercedes” Voice prompts proved its intuitiveness and works rather well for simple things with more complex tasks requiring a few attempts. Still, it’s all rather marvellous like MBUX is, sadly it’s an option but on well worth the extra change when spec’ing one.

The Aviation inspired vents to carry through and appear to milled singular pieces of aluminium(like) vents. The option for ambience lighting with 64 colours can be optioned and can be somewhat of irritation and so to fairly calming at other points with the lights just making traffic surfing a touch more friendly on one’s mood. The seats fitted to the test car- the optional ‘Energising Seats’ – which additional support and two-tone leather, proved very comfortable and helped soak-up the harshness of the ride. Even with our AMG spec Test car with 19” Inch wheels was impressive even on rougher roads.

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Sports Tourer Rear

The new range consists of B180 and B200 powered by the same 1.33Litre Renault sourced engine, with either 100kW and 200Nm or 120kW and 250Nm respectively. Both engines are mated to a 7-Speed DCT dual-clutch transmission and promise equal fuel consumption at 5.4/100km.

Diesel options are powered by the same 2.1Litre diesel from the Merc range, in two states of tune producing 110kW and 320Nm in the B200D, and a healthy 140kW and 400Nms mated to an 8-Speed DCT gearbox. Having sampled the B200, 1.33Litre petrol we can conclude the drive and overall dynamic is very similar to the A-Class. The engine pulls strong, and it has a bit of turbo-lag when pulling off from stop streets and robots, but once in its stride with the low max torque availability does tend to hide this well enough for most. The Dynamic Select does change up the characteristics of the drive and when in Sport almost, eliminates this issue all-together.

Steering proved too light, but again through the same system can be firmed, to the point where some real confidence in where the wheels are pointed can be had. Being a Minivan its almost pointless to attack the corners with full-on AMG aggression, but the AMG Line and the small ride height drop and larger wheels made the car rather progressive and reduce body roll very well.

The optionally available driver Assist packages with the Active brake assist, Lane Keep with Blind Sport Assist, Emergency Brake Assist systems are at this point understood to be very useful and often needed for South African roads and additional safety but sadly for us still options.  

Mercedes-Benz B200

Mercedes-Benz A-Class VS B-Class?

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Sports Tourer’s appeal is what drives the B-class home for those it appeals to, in my view and most the A-Class counterpart will be a better car to love and live with but given the differences in lifestyle towards it’s geared. For example, fitting a child seat and pram in the boot (which fits with ease) is less easy to do with the A-Class, increased visibility for less of a claustrophobic feel in the rear, a larger boot and just a larger feeling cabin makes the B-Class shine brighter, to those it needs to. It serves better as a small family car, and this may be where it makes the most sense. 

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Sports Tourer Boot

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Sports Tourer Pricing In South Africa

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Sports Tourer Starts pricing at R526 900 before the all-important options list, with the diesel B220D starting at R559 100, making it almost identical to the pricing of the A-Class equivalent in all reality. Still, the slight tweaks make it a better family orientated vehicle. Spec yours here

Driven: 2020 Toyota CH-R facelift

The Toyota CH-R has been an attractive model and prospect for those looking for a funky crossover, with a quirky exterior and strong Toyota heritage in South Africa. The CH-R stands out for its ability to fit all this trick styling and yet be a typical Toyota in that its build to a very high standard and provides a comfortable dependable choice. Being a now midlife vehicle how does the 3-Year refresher improve its stake in the highly contested segment it exists within.

Looking back at the 2017 launch of the “Coupe High Riding”, the most considerable part of the lust the little Toyota showcases is the design, and this is even after a facelift mainly the same. Injected with an enhanced sporty fare the front bumper now hosts a bumper colour front chin-lip. The headlights are now standard with LED running lights with the fog lights shifting within the lower section of the redesigned bumper. At the rear with sharp lines that make the coupe-like rear flow better into the new back LED lights and Gloss rear spoiler.

The major update to the platform come through the safety upgrades on the Standard and Plus models. The Now six airbags come standard on the range, inclusive of front passenger knee airbags. The Spec Luxury gets the Toyota Safety Sense system, comprehensive of all your blind-spot monitoring, lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, a pre-crash system, radar-guided adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist needs.

Inside, the use of new higher-grade materials takes precedence, and the funky theme continues with a contoured roofliner with the Rhombus shape that can be seen throughout. The hard plastics are still there but better hidden and softer and less scratchy. The push feel remains but doesn’t make statements with class-leading contention. The seats feel redesigned and are softer and more comfortable. Understandably the rear feels dark and tight given the small rear windows the space is fair which will help with this but the small rear doors and sloping roofline do limit access and after the family car of the compactness of the vehicle.

The 4.2Inch infotainment gains CarPlay and Andriod Auto. The screen is angled towards the driver and having function buttons of the sides makes it easy to control, but the system despite allowing app access like GoogleMaps and Waze is still a bit lacking in intuitiveness. As standard, a 15GB data package (monthly top-ups are available at cost) which provides to be useful when network is limited but allows suffers from connection issues at points.

What’s improved about the drive?

The launch of the updated CH-R found journo’s in George on a 600Km small-town Grand Tour, which given the distance and amount of driving proved several critical reminders as to why this Sub-compact is such a fantastic combination of sporty, dynamic and comfortable. The facelifted model retains the 1.2Litre Turbocharged engine shared with the Corolla Hatch, producing 85kWs and 185Nm mated to a CVT transmission in the Luxury trim at test. The engine is smooth, and the power delivery is rewarding at most, given it gets the crossover moving at a rate that allows you to be confident overtaking and building speed. The most distinctive element is the power progression and mid-range pull when making your way up to freeway speeds. The large 18”-inch wheels interference very little when at speed but the roar at lower rates is noticeable. The time spent with the CH-R included some spectacular mountain passes that ushered the genuinely dynamic chassis to shine through. Steering inputs are direct and precise and the weight increases well with speed, the C-HR is very planted. When driving with a passion not familiar to a sub-compact, it responded very well and remained very comfortable when driving sedately.

CH-R’s European success is not without reason. As the Sub-Compact market gets more saturated with entrants and competitors, one should remember CH-R was one of the early cars to capture the brilliance that created this segment. Now it does this better than ever before. With the promise of a Yaris based replacement and a Gazoo Racing version of the CH-R, this is a platform at speaks leaps and bounds.

Facelifted 2020 CH-R Pricing in South Africa

Pricing kicks off at R371 100 for the entry-level model, climbing to just under R480 000 for the top trim Luxury CVT, which makes may make the Rav4 Bigger brother somewhat appealing at that point. When compared to a direct competitor Like VW’s T-Cross and Suzuki Vitra, it makes for an interesting departure with very high spec and driving dynamics.

Toyota C-HR 1.2T                              – R 371 700

Toyota C-HR 1.2T Plus                      – R 403 000

Toyota C-HR 1.2T Plus CVT              – R 415 100

Toyota C-HR 1.2T Luxury CVT          – R 476 600

2021 Toyota GR86/BRZ gains a new powerplant

As the approach of the end of the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ’s lifecycle approaches more and information as to the replacement has surfaced. Firstly the Toyota Variant of the Sportscar will become the GR86 falling in line with the Gazoo Racing division and the onslaught of new models they keep creating. The BRZ having been done away for South Africa, it remains unknown is it will return.

Autocar reported power would come from a 2.4Litre Flat 4 Boxer but more recent reports suggest the 1.8Litre Boxer engine from the pre-production teased Levorg STI Sport Prototype will be a more likely candidate. Given the achilles heel of the of 2.0Litre Boxer which produces 147kW and 205Nm, a sports car that has a tough time keeping up with a 2.0Litre diesel saloon seems to be a difficult image to shake, given the 2.0Litre Supra’s recent introduction and how this fits into the picture.

Toyota has a tough time ahead of itself with the new model due to the previous model being an absolute tart to drive. Turbocharging should make this a 200kW plus car but given the baby Supra makes 190kw… this may be tricky.

BMW M135i XDrive – Has the hot 1-Series gone soft?

BMW’s latest generation of the 1-series has moved a great deal away from what the car once denoted. Much to the dismay of almost everyone that bought the car prior on its driving merit or could appreciate the simple RWD layout and how that translated when behind the wheel of a hatchback that was still very good at being a hatch. A simple 120D offered enough fervour and energy to be a truly interesting car to drive and live with. An understanding that resulted in my ownership of an E87 120D LCI Auto. A car I loved and enjoyed far more than I would have had I suborned an equivalent Golf or Focus and given I enjoyed raging around and cast my RWD skid-age teeth with. 

Hot versions where always rather interesting and I cherish rather clearly how I envied the 130i M-sport of the same era and later the N54 powered 135i Coupe that prefaced modern versions. It had the same nuances as the rest of the range, in that the RWD driving characteristics shun through in very simple driving situations, yet given the 225kw on tap could become a rather seriously focused car when pressing on. The speed at which you can travel, take corners, and the number of hearts that it provided for you to trample with the six-cylinder throatiness. Modern motives now boasting the ‘Cerium Mirror M140i Persona’. B58 powerplants good for 250kW and 500Nm, serious numbers that translate into a sometimes wishful 4.6 second 0-100 dash given how slippery the rear can become and the typical 250Km/h limited barrier. It was a hoot, terribly rapid and more than a handful with the electronic nannies turned down. Like any half-decent enthusiast focused car, one should drive with their body in a more sensory form, where there’s a real link to you and the driving prowess the car has. 

Now, with the move to the FWD UKL2 platform from the 2-series and Mini range, long bonnets dimensions and slightly cramped rear seats more kindred to an RWD hatch-gone, replaced the larger the Extra large nostril cladding family face that we have since adjusted to. This is a move I sampled in the new 118i M-sport late last year. A point that exclaimed the point further and the conviction through a more cavernous interior, smooth tech integration with the driving experience which wasn’t as compromised and driver-focused but, compliant and enough for the class. Its greatest flaw was that it once drove dynamically because, without it, it grew to be rather vanilla. 

Arriving at the 2020 M135i

Now a 2.0litre turbo-petrol producing 225kW and 450Nm driving BMW’s XDrive All-Wheel Drive system. The numbers suggest that the new car is livelier to the 0-100 sprint given the grip and when pressing on the car does indeed feel rather rapid. The growls of a Turbo inline-six replaced with what I suspect is some fake engine noise from the stereo system, more to supplement comparatively less provocative noise that the 2.0litre makes. The car is as fast as the numbers suggest but simply put the connection that you and the car create as you blast off in search of naughty driving jaunts and adventures don’t resonate well with this car. All the 7.25inchs of driver info displays with all the modern connectivity toys; smartphone mirroring and charging, auto parking, gesture control, the adjustable driver elements are there, as a modern cabin its the usual BMW standard. Dynamically its much of the same, it’s not the greatest with respects to driver engagement but still a predicable AWD fast hatch, in that, at moments the power does move around and you do feel this and dull understeer tendencies surpass the opposite lock moments that now never arrive. Turning driver-focused aims like the M steering, and M dampers to their fruitiest still just fail to create a sense of nostalgia or a rejoinder of bliss at lease in this case similar. The exhaust pops and bangs and makes very attractive noises, launch control, diving into corners flat out, feeling the grip move around and still being progressive enough for you to keeping it planted through understeer inducing circumstances; all vast and impressive to be frank given the new attempt at a performance-based car, but sad not very charming. On the move, the car is properly quick and the vehicle dynamics are on par with a car that provides enough engagement to be a good drivers car, just not an inspired one. It reminds me almost holistically of the Audi S3 in its early stages. Dynamically it always fell short to rivals Megane RS for example, solely due to what the compromise the Megane offered. This the same mantra behind hot BMW 1-series. The X-drive is fantastic in keeping the power as well connected to the tarmac as possible but simply doesn’t connect with the driver as well as it does the road. 

The numbers translate almost directly into the real world and the car does absolutely fly. It pops and bangs and can be throaty on the overrun when pushing the car very hard but sadly just is not something that will tug at your heartstrings like the old one. Perhaps the number that speaks the most is the price and at basically 700k before options, you’d expect it to be fast, grippy and combine that well in the corners. It’s rather a good space to be and makes a good job of being a fast car but with emission becoming an issue and the mass market design it’s just not very ‘M’ car and in a world where that should mean tyrannical driving focus, it’s a bit vanilla probably why BMW motorsport and heritage Alpina and current M head Markus Flasch both refuse to anything hotter one the new platform, meaning if you aim really exploit a chassis to sell cars not all of them will be very exciting. Like this one can and should be.  

BMW M135i Xdrive In South Africa 

Prices start at R699 000 and are inclusive of a 5year/100 000 Motorplan

Audi’s Q8 gets the much-deserved RS treatment

VW’s MLBeveo Brillant origins and cut and paste mantra make for a hell of a recipe for fast Luxury SUV. Sharing DNA with Bentley, Lamborghini, and Porsche, Audi cousin may upset the order somewhat with the brands largest and most powerful heart transplant candidate – the 4.0 litre V8 Biturbocharged 48V boosted is aided by a Hybrid-Electric system, good for 441kW and 800 Nm. The excessive propulsion results in 3.8 seconds zero to 100 km/h, 13.7 to 200 and 250 km/h German handshake gate shot after that. Keys to the said gate are explored through the optional Dynamic Pack, allowing the 305Km/h Top Speed to match the Bentuga Speed and Urus. Power is delivered to all four wheels via 8-speed automatic box. A centrally mounted centre diff is fitted standard with the option for a Quattro sport diff with torque split capabilities to the tune of 70% to the front and 85% rear. The 48V system is shared with Audi stablemates offers the same regeneration of energy and the engine off-coast up to 160km/h and cylinder deactivation. 

The facts are simply that the Q8 RS is monstrous, Ingolstadt’s RS divisions have now claimed fastest production SUV lap time on the Green hell, with an official time of 7 minutes and 42,2 seconds around the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Oliver Hoffman, Audi Sport Boss had high praise for tasteful creation the bespoke news the RS Q8 offers, calling it a “high-performance car”.

The delicate process of infusing the look of the large SUV and drizzling’s of the heritage the Brand beholds the RS Q8. The Audi Sport treatment has brought to the fold the typical need for larger frontal air takes and black single-frame grille. The track remains unchanged but width growing 10 mm and 5 mm in the rear through sudo-wide-body effect. The rear hosts the most striking part of the Q8, the infusion of the sharp angular lines ‘The hockey stick’ black panel as a node to the Original Quattro as the official Audi Sport cherry pop. The LED Light integration that makes the standard model so grasping fused with large diffuser and the quad exhaust and bumper placed air ducting hinting the extra girth. 

The fit and trim of the standard Q8 not forgotten with the treatment extension compromising the 23-inch optional alloy wheels, large composite disc brakes and optional carbon ceramics. Adaptive air suspension in combination with the live-link suspension front and rear with damping control standard. Ride height can rise 90nm during off-road conditions and all-wheel steer is standard.  

Inside the SUV the Audi simplicity is the best approach of digital display overload and button-less user interfaces, Virtual cockpit closes off the package stupendously. Given the RS nomenclature Alcantara sports seats, RS-leather wheel with RS 1 and 2 storable dynamic settings buttons, optional RS based heads-up display with lap and shift indicators. The vast dimensions mean around 1 755 litres of total load space. 8 Drive-select modes are available with 2 RS-specific. The drive select system features eight modes, including two RS performance modes and an off-road option.

With rivals like the new Mercedes-Benz GLE 63S, X6M, and Porsche Cayenne coupe it needs to be all that it promises to be to take the fight to the extensive list of rivals given the bullet train brisk. 
Launching in the latter half of 2020 in South Africa 

V8 4.0 TFSI: 441 kW / 800 Nm

Engine: 4.0-litre V8 Bi-turbo 48V-hybrid Belt-driven alternator system
Gearbox: 8-speed Torque Converter Auto
Fuel economy: 12.1L/100 km (claimed)
Power/Torque: 441 kW/800 Nm

The Return of the Hyundai Atos

A short trip back to February of 2005 revealed the launch of the then-New Hyundai Atos in South Africa. A supermini that served as the little brother to the tasteful Getz and thankfully shared in the beginnings to the Korean wave of brilliance in the early 2000s, that transformed their brand. The range has expanded somewhat at present-day, meaning the new age return of the appellation has a rather different market to contend with and a tricky role to fill. Consumers demand far more from cars than basic wheels yet the contrasted conundrum and greatest hindrance in the South African vehicle market is pricing and at R159 900 Atos becomes a promising perspective.

The New 2019 Atos 1.1 Motion. Atos returns as a 1.1 4-cylinder with a total output of 50kw and 99Nm, which when matched with a low kerb weight of 870kg and snappy responsiveness to the way the car moves about at city speeds makes progress brisk enough. There’s a bit of character with the looks clear Hyundai design language at the front end. The list of standard features is rather impressive and despite the entry-level market contention, the build quality transforms into so much more than numbers can translate. A 7-inch touch screen display with Apple car play and Android Auto with screen mirroring for Google maps navigation, USB and Smart Bluetooth connectivity that reads Whatsapp messages. Front electric windows, steering mounted stereo controls which when streaming Audio and allow for full integration even when streaming via apps like Youtube music. In practice, it feels best in class and the experience replicates a far more expensive user interface interaction.

Dynamically the Atos shines brighter than its main A-segment rivals Renault Kwid and Datsun Go which is the largest division of the class. The Atos feels planted and stable and even a touch cheeky; the additional cylinder removes some of the noise, vibrations and overall harshness to the car. This smoothness transforms the car intensely and the feel that true thought was put into the overall driving experience blares through. Fuel consumption at a real-world 6.2L/100 enough to offer real promise with respects to economy, and not far off the claimed 5.9L/100. Atos extra sense of refinement translates to stability at freeway speed and very little of the drive is affected by the wind or passing trucks, a statement not true all A-segment vehicles even to this day. Atos is not without shortcomings cabin space is limited in the rear with legroom being an issue of taller folk but it offers enough comfort for most. The meagre 235litre boot will prove a challenge with a large suitcase filling the space entirely. The lack of steering adjustment (rake or reach) means the seating position needs some time to get used to.

Pivotally in this class is the element of safety and standard ABS, EBD and 2 airbags are contrasted with the ultimate problem that exists cars of this class. Sadly the 2-Star Global NCAP Crash test rating means it does not shake this image. Despite the safety concerns the verdict concludes the Atos as a rival for the best car in the segment, brilliant driving dynamics, build quality that carries the strength of the Hyundai brand, through unrivalled aftersales support. The 7year/200 000km warranty with roadside assistance adds real value at such a budget-constrained price point, happily dropping the “free insurance gimmick” and making this a properly sorted car. Such a tightly contested segment will be glad to receive more offerings like Atos combining the genuine cheap car thrills that make cars of this class really clever, in tough car markets and make so much financial sense to limited budgets. Offering a genuinely well-executed package, toughly enjoyable and possibly the best brand-new entry-level car.

Pricing in South Africa
Atos 1.1 Motion R159 900
Standard with a 1-year service plan with 15 000Km intervals, 7 year/200 000Km Warranty, and 7 year/150 000Km roadside assistance.

VW Golf R All Wheel Drive System

Golf R 228kW AWD System

As people who thoroughly enjoy driving cars, the general consensus is that the most rewarding layout is that of a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive vehicle. If executed correctly, it provides that sweet 50:50 weight distribution, as well as that typical base-of-your-spine shove that only a RWD vehicle can deliver. However, at the first sight of any form of precipitation, especially in RWD vehicles with a kilowatt or two, the rear-wheels loose traction and what you then have is a recipe for exceptional fun or devastating gloom. On a graph, this sits as a directly proportional curve, one axis being driver skill and the other being fun/propensity for doom and gloom. In other words, there is a small percentage if people who might be able to extract the most out of this sort of vehicle, and for the rest, it might end in tears, despite their desire or interest in performance cars…

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the front-engine front-wheel-drive vehicle. With forgiving dynamics and a propensity to understeer, an FWD vehicle is the safe way to go should you not be in the mood for some sideways action. Unless, of course you’re the type of person who likes to provoke lift-off oversteer. But this is dangerous and irresponsible and should not be tried ever…

Enter the AWD system – in short, it’s able to distribute drive accordingly between the front and rear axles, and in some cases even left to right across the axles, too. What this means is that you have maximum traction at all times – this is safe. And while in most cases ‘safe’ is a synonym for boring, that most certainly isn’t the case in the Volkswagen Golf R.

It’s 228 kW and 400 N.m put to the road through all four wheels allows it to catapult itself and its occupants towards the horizon with an aggression that is quite frankly unrivalled in this and perhaps other segments, too. This, coupled with its raspy exhaust note, addictive induction noises and distinctive turbo noises make for a wholly exhilarating experience. In a word, it’s lovely.

Dynamically, it feels a little more put together than its less-powerful, front wheel drive sibling, the Golf GTI. Thanks to the variable nature of the Haldex AWD, less skilled drivers are also able to drive it fast, safely and within the limits of their driving skill.

It’s truly spectacular and rather than detract from the enjoyment of driving, the AWD system assists the majority of drivers in being able to drive the R quickly and safely and just another reason why the Golf R is well and truly the consummate hot/super hatchback. Perfectly packaged, superbly quick and absolutely usable.

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.