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Bentley’s new Bentayga: Has the world gone super SUV mad?

Are super SUV’s getting a bit out of hand?

As is, customers looking for a good quality SUV have many choices to choose from. So much so, you don’t have to be a member of a political party to own one, as there are SUV’s priced for people looking for something not too expensive as well. The world of premium SUV’s is one that is the most interesting though. In this segment, there seems to be an internal war going on which I think is rather pointless to be honest. This is the war for power, power and more power. The new Bentlely Bentayga is going to join that war in the very near future. The car will feature a 450 kW, 900 Nm  W12 engine, capable of doing 0-100 km/h in 4.0 seconds.

Isn’t it a little bit strange to know that a large two ton SUV can keep up with super saloons and even beat some sports cars? Don’t get me wrong, power is great and it’s a thrill to drive a super SUV because the concept of it defies physics. Experiencing the power of such a car is something special but living with such a car is a different thing. I can’t help but ask myself, does it really matter if my SUV can beat your sports car?

What’s the point of a super SUV?

Large cars such as the BMW X5, Mercedes GLC, Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7, Volkswagen Touareg, Volvo XC90 (The list goes on) are all aimed at families. Even the marketing material of these cars shows the cars in picturesque surroundings, Billy and Sandy at the back and maybe even a dog in the mix. Then you get the “hot” versions of these cars, namely the BMW, Porsche and Mercedes. The brochures of these cars are different, the backdrop is something that resembles a circuit and the tag lines are all similar, something alluding to the fact that it’s “The world’s fastest SUV”. Why is that important? I’m really baffled. The new Bentley Bentayga is in the same boat. It’s already one thing that one group makes three of the most popular SUV’s and are adding a fourth in the mix. It’s another thing to market the car as the fastest SUV made, even if it is.

When I think Bentley, I think luxury, comfort and prestige. I don’t think apex, tyre screeches and lap times. I think this whole fast SUV thing is getting taken to a whole new unnecessary level. If I want to go drive on a race track and I have over R1,8 million to spend, I don’t think my first choice will be an SUV. I don’t think many people’s first choice will be a super SUV. It’s all marketing rubbish really. In my opinion, there’s nothing better than driving a meaty diesel SUV with great torque and a decent fuel economy. With the savings I will have for opting for that version instead of the super version, I could even sneak in a quick sports car for weekends.

There is no doubt in my mind that the new Bentley Bentayga will be a great car. It certainly looks striking and sharing the same DNA as the Touareg, Cayenne and Q7, it has a good gene pool too. The interior of the car is exquisite as well, it’s exactly what Bentley represents, opulence. I just find it strange that it seems like Bentley are focusing a great deal on speed. There is more to an SUV than speed, especially for the majority of SUV buyers. Call me crazy but when I’m on a road trip with my family in an SUV, my biggest worry is not how fast I’m going to get there, it’s how comfortable the trip will be. Happy Thought Thursday Motorists.

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Ashley Fiolek: A true inspiration.

Women Wednesday: Ashley Fiolek

At the young age of 24, Ashley Fiolek has achieved a great deal. She has won the WMX championship four times and has made quite a name for herself in the sport of Motocross. She has been riding since age three and racing since age seven. Throughout her career she has won many races and represented women amazingly in the world of motorsport. She was the first women to be featured on the cover of TransWorld Motocross, one of the largest Motocross magazines in the world. Let’s not forget the fact that she has won two gold medals at the X-Games and was signed by Honda racing too. She’s even been nominated for an ESPN ESPY Award for all her achievements.

Ashley Fiolek has managed to do all this despite being deaf from birth. If that’s not inspiring, that we don’t know what is. She is an amazing example of not allowing our imperfections or disabilities to stop us from doing what we love. With the right support structure and determination, Ashley was able to be successful in her career despite being having a disability. Often times we allow ourselves to let our doubts or insecurities get the better of us, but people like Ashley help us learn a great life lesson. No matter who you are and what your circumstance is, you can do great things if you focus on the positive and forget the negative. So next time you’re feeling sorry for yourself because you feel limited in your abilities, think of the story of Ashley Fiolek and remember that anything is possible, it all depends on you. Happy Women Wednesday Motorists.

Isn’t she pretty? The new Discovery Sport Dynamic

New Discovery Sport Dynamic revealed at Frankfurt Motor Show

The Land Rover Discovery Sport already looks twice as nice as it’s predecessor, the Freelander. One can see design cues from the Discovery, the Range Rover Sport and Evoque. The prestigious Frankfurt Motor show gave the people at Land Rover the perfect platform to showcase a new addition to the Discovery Sport family, this new model is called the “Dynamic” version.

What makes it Dynamic?

Most of the changes on the car are aesthetic, giving the car a more aggressive appeal. This has been done by adding stylish black bits to the mirrors, bumpers and wheel arches too. The front bottom grill even looks angrier, with is gaping wide mouth that looks like its telling people in front of it to get out of the way. A new set of 19 inch wheels have been added to, giving the car a more menacing stance. The point of the car is to give customers the choice of something sportier in terms of look. Think of it as Land Rover’s version of a Sports Package.

Anything else?

Yes. From next year the Discovery Sport will offer a feature called “All Terrain Progress Control”, which basically allows you to set and maintain a speed of 2 km/h to 30 km/h when travelling off-road. Why is this useful? Through smart technology, it helps control the car in conditions that are not-so-controllable, like on a gravel road. Thankfully the most amount of gravel that many Discovery Sports see in Johannesburg, is when there’s a bit of construction happening in Sandton. (We joke but it’s true). Anyway, we sure we’re going to see a few of these Dynamic versions of the Discovery Sport on the road soon in SA, as it is quite the looker. Good job Land Rover, good job.

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Facelifted BMW 3 Series in South Africa: What has changed?

What’s different with the facelifted BMW 3 Series now available in South Africa?

A BMW 3 Series is arguably one of the most seen cars on the road in South Africa, especially in Johannesburg. The reason for this is simple, South Africans love BMW’s and the 3 Series is a very good car. The F30 3 Series is on its third year of production, so as always when the car reaches past half way of it’s life cycle, it needs to splash some water on it’s face. Only this time with the facelifted BMW 3 Series, they decided not only to reapply some make up on the car, it decided to take it to the gym too.

New lights and bumpers.

The car’s visible changes are apparent, the headlights in the front and rear have undergone surgery. The new headlamps make use of new LED technology in the rear and front, giving the car a very modern look. New bumpers add to the modern feel of the facelifted BMW 3 Series too. Unlike most updated versions of cars, the biggest change though, is under the bonnet.

New engines for all ranges.

Out with the old and in with the new. BMW has replaced the 316i, 328i and 335i, but the 320i badge remains. The 328i and 335i are a simple change in badges and power. The 328i is now badged 330i and produces 185 kW/350 Nm of power and the 335i is now called the 340i which makes a good amount of 240 kW/450 Nm. The 320i has also had its power figures updated to 134 kW and 290 Nm, more torque has been added to it. What interest us the most though is BMW’s use of a 1.5 litre 3 cylinder petrol engine in the 318i, a first for a BMW 3 Series. Many manufacturers have utilised the fuel savings of a three cylinder motor and BMW have also done so in their “I” products and now in their 3 Series range too. The engine although small, produces 100 kW/ 220 Nm of power which should be enough to get you around town and on long distance  trip comfortably.

Verdict.

We welcome this fresh face facelifted BMW 3 Series and we’re sure South Africa will too. It’s scary that going back one generation of 3 Series, those cars now seem so outdated in terms of technology. One can only imagine what the next five years hold for BMW and every other brand actively embracing new technologies. Happy Tech Tuesday Motorists.

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The new iPhone 6S: Is it worth the upgrade?

Is the new iPhone6S worth the upgrade?

Like cars, cell phones are constantly being changed and upgraded with names like “S” and “Edge” being added to the end. So one can’t help but ask if these changes are really worth replacing the current phone with the new one. This has just happened with the new iPhone 6S. So is the S any different to the current one?

What has changed?

A lot. Firstly they have changed the glass of the phone, making it stronger to avoid those “night- out” breaks that leave your phone looking like Spiderman webbed it. Secondly it’s faster, it has a 64bit chip that makes the phone 70% faster at CPU tasks and 90% faster at graphics task. So hopefully gone will be the days of playing hang-man with your iPhone as you look at a bitten apple whilst the phone reboots. Thirdly, the Touch ID has been upgraded too, giving a faster response to the finger.

Wait, there’s more…

The two biggest new features on the new iPhone 6S is the camera and a new feature called 3D Touch. Let’s start with the camera, it’s a 12MP camera that can shoot in 4K (YES 4K!!!) and the front camera is a 5MP that is made specifically for FaceTime (long distance relationships ftw). There is a nifty feature called Live-Photo which allows a normal photo to show movement in it when pressure is applied to it.

3D Touch is a game changer as it is an entirely new feature which allows you to do more on your phone through by applying pressure on the screen. For instance you can preview an image by applying pressure on it to show it in full screen, when you let go the image will go back to it’s normal size. Or on your home screen when pressure is applied to the screen, more options are populated the same way right clicking on a mouse does on a PC. This feature can be used in various apps on the phone as a multi-tasking tool. From a software point the new iPhone 6S uses IOS9 which is obviously the best IOS currently.

Verdict.

If you’re someone who is technology crazy, it’s obviously worth the upgrade. The new features will definitely be useful to you. From a performance perspective too, having a faster phone is always better than a slower one, especially if your current iPhone is prone to hanging. If you’re about to upgrade, wait for the iPhone 6S to hit South Africa. The iPhone 6S will be available in the normal size and the Plus version too. If you’ve just gotten into a current iPhone 6, be happy with what you have because you can’t keep up anyway.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s an RS6 Avant.

There’s a new super wagon in town: Audi’s new RS6 Avant.

The chance of owning a super car on top of other necessary vehicles, such as a family car and an everyday run around is unfortunately not accessible to many. As a result, there was a need among many people for a car that serviced both needs. On one hand the car needed to be practical, allowing for enough space for the kids to argue in the back and spill yogurt and sweets on the seats. On the other hand the car needed to make you feel like you’re young again when the kids are in school, giving you that much needed “daddy-time” of performance and excitability.

Is that even possible?

This was a tough ask for a car, basically asking it to have a split personality. To get this right a manufacturer needed to get creative and think outside the box. Years ago BMW solved this problem by introducing the M5 and down this day that car is one of the top in its segment. Of course the other manufacturers developed their own answers to the M5, think Mercedes E63 and Audi RS6, very good answers too. Audi though decided to take it to another level and develop something the other manufacturers have neglected, the station wagon. Mercedes and BMW’s fast station wagons never took off the way they were meant to in South Africa, as a result the brands don’t even bother marketing them. Audi on the other hand have actively marketed their fast station wagons and as a result they have created the best looking ones yet.

What sets it apart?

The sheer presence of an RS6 Avant approaching can be likened to when Victor Matfield enters a room. You can’t help but be in awe of the size of the man and what he could do to you if you made him angry. The same goes for an RS6 Avant. The length of the car and the flared wheel arches make you wonder what it could do if you made it angry. The difference between Victor Matfield and an Audi RS6 is that you actually want to make the RS6 react. When you do, 412 kW and 700Nm from a 4.0 litre turbocharged engine respond very quickly. 3.9 seconds to 100 km/h to be exact. Those are the power figures of the updated RS6, a car that turns mommy and daddy into a superheroes.

Can it handle all that power?

All that power in a big body can get a bit scary to control, that is why Audi have had the car fitted with the Quattro suspension. On top of that the car utilises a smart centre differential which sends power to the wheel that needs it most depending on the situation. The car is kitted with an 8-Speed Tiptronic gearbox, which until a few years ago would have been a bad thing but the automatic gearboxes of today have in many ways rendered the manual obsolete, as sad as that is. If you really want to have a good time in your RS6, you can take the performance to the next level. This can be done through a dynamic package that gives you ceramic brakes and raises the top speed of the car to 305 km/h. This package only makes sense for those who will use their cars on the track, perhaps after fetching the kids from a sports game.

Verdict.

This segment of car is one that has some good choices to choose from. The Audi is a winner in terms of practicality since it is a station wagon. In terms of performance, the numbers from all competitors are very similar. The RS6’s price of around R 1.4 mil mark it also very similar to its German counterparts. It all boils down to preference at the end of the day. One thing is for sure, if you’re looking for something different, the RS6 has a definite edge to it. The stance of the car oozes aggression, it really looks like it’s about to attack. When it drives past you want to ask, is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a super wagon.

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Audi RS 6 Avant Interior

Audi RS 6 Avant
Interior

Audi RS 6 Avant  Static photo

Audi RS 6 Avant
Static photo

Drive in comfort: Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars 2.

Road-tripping shouldn’t affect your feet if you have the right shoes.

If you asked many people what are their favourite driving shoes, the Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars will definitely make the top 5 list. In our opinion, a good driving shoe needs to provide comfort but should not create a feeling of detachment between the driver and the foot pedals of the car. This is especially the case in a car fitted with a manual transmission. The driver needs to feel involved in the process, having full control of the vehicle. The Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars iconic shape has not changed but the way the shoe is made has been updated to give you a more comfortable shoe to wear, walk, party and drive in.

The Chuck Taylor 2’s are fitted with a Lunarlon Sockliner which gives added cushioning and support so your feet can go on for longer. The shoe is also fitted with a padded Non-Slip tongue which is great because there is nothing more annoying than the tongue of a high top moving around all the time. The inside lining of the shoe as well as the canvas has also been strengthened to be more durable so that your Chuck’s can last you longer. You know you have a winning shoe if you don’t have to change the design radically in decades. So next time you’re about to go road tripping, get your self a set of Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars 2’s for a comfortable ride.

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Do you love cars or do you want to get to work?: The new Suzuki Ciaz.

Feature Friday: Suzuki’s answer to those looking for an affordable Sedan, the Ciaz.

Keep-It-Simple-Stupid. This is a phrase that has been told to many and said by many, for good reason too. When things get complicated especially in cars, it detracts from the purpose of a car being a car. There’s nothing worse than a car that drives terribly but tries to distract you with gimmicks to hide the fact that it’s a rubbish car. Good thing nowadays there aren’t many new cars that are very terrible. Then again you do get some cars that make you wonder why the manufacturer put more emphasis on the sound system than the gearbox.

The Suzuki Ciaz 1.4 GL is a car that uses the K.I.S.S. philosophy. It doesn’t try wow you in any way, but it’s very effective in its purpose, that of being a good quality sedan. You get two types of people in the car buying world, those who love cars and those who want to get to work. The majority of people want to get to work but that doesn’t mean that they don’t require some creature comforts such as Bluetooth, a solid ride and good build quality. For those looking at those qualities in a car whilst needing some space at the same time, the Ciaz will tick all the boxes. The biggest box the Suzuki Ciaz will tick, is the price box. With a starting price of R180 000 you can’t disagree that this car is probably one of the best priced cars in its segment.

This makes me think of Pick n Pay’s no-name brand items. To be honest, If you gave me a glass of no-name brand milk versus a glass of Clover Milk, I wouldn’t be able to tell you the difference. At the same time if you placed both products in front of me and asked me which one I thought was better, I would probably say the Clover milk. Why? Because since I was little boy, each time I opened the fridge the only milk I would see is Clover milk, so automatically I think it’s the best. That’s the biggest problem in South Africa, we’re too used to brand names so in terms of sedans, we think something other than the “Big Three” isn’t any good. The reality is that there are good cars out there that are spacious and comfortable at half the price.

Obviously the brands that are regarded as the sedan staples in South Africa offer more in terms of performance, comfort and prestige. Those cars are in a different league, they are premium brands but the attributes they have don’t come for free. That is why you will pay double for those cars. The “big three” can be regarded as organic milk, yes it has more nutrients, but normal milk won’t stop you from eating your Corn-Flakes. Many health fanatics only drink organic milk, which is okay if you can afford it, but some may not be willing to pay R40 for 2 litres of milk, or it may be out of their budget to do so.

The same goes with cars, what about those individuals who aren’t in the market for a premium sedan? Those who simply want reliability and spaciousness at a good price? For those who want to simply eat their Corn-Flakes, they have great choices such as the Volkswagen Polo Sedan, Honda Ballade and Chevrolet Cruze. These cars offer just that and they compete directly with the Suzuki Ciaz in terms of price and specification. The Ciaz definitely holds its own against these cars. the fact is that the Suzuki Ciaz 1.4 GL or GLX will not implode if you drive it quickly, it responds well for a car larger car with a 1.4 litre engine. The car will also not refuse to turn a corner properly. The safety belts will not fall off in an accident and the large boot will not reject your groceries, in fact many things will be welcomed in the boot. This car is the direct answer to an affordable sedan.

If you’re looking in this segment of car, you need to decide what kind of client you are. Do you love cars or do you want to get to work? For some it may have always been a dream to drive one of the “big three”. If you part of that group and want the status that comes with driving a brand name, buy the brand and pay the premium. If you’re a more simple person and you want a car that operates in a different segment but is still spacious, comfortable and gets you from A to B, the Suzuki Ciaz should be one of your top picks. The choice is yours.

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McLaren’s new 570S and the future of fast cars.

Thought Thursday: McLaren’s new 570S and the future of fast cars.

The super car segment has never been as versatile as it is today, with choice being on the side of the consumer. I feel sorry for the man or woman who has the fortune to spend on a car such as this, because when you’re spending upwards of R2,5 million, it’s not a case of eeny meeny miny mo. Or is it? I wouldn’t know because I have never had the “nice life problem” of being in such a predicament. If I was in that position though, I would need to do some thinking before signing any papers, especially after McLaren decided to make things a little bit more complicated.

What would I buy if I had R3 million?

Traditionally, If one wanted something fast and expensive that could be used everyday, the Porsche Turbo was the answer to all your needs. It was the best value for money performance car that would not make you look out of place when you played golf with your Ferrari and Lamborghini owning friends. That changed when the new Porsche Turbo S came out costing around R3 million rand. That being said the Porsche Turbo clientèle are a very specific group of individuals, so even though the cost of the new car increased drastically, they still bought the new car. This is because these clients require everyday usability coupled with immense power, something the Turbo offers second to none. Until now it seems.

The folks from Woking have introduced a car that may make the folks from Stuttgart lose sleep. Say hello to the McLaren 570S, a 0-100 km/h in 3.2 second, 3.8 litre twin turbo car that looks like a younger version of the P1. This car aims to look the likes of the Porsche Turbo right in the eyes and face off with it like arch enemies in an old western movie. The 570S is the entry level McLaren, called the Sports Series segment for the brand. The car produces insane numbers even though it is the entry level McLaren, with 419 kW and 600 Nm. The most ludicrous bit about the 570S is the fact that it can get to 200 km/h in 9.5 seconds.

What will be the preferred choice?

The problem is that the top offerings in this choice of car, all represent the same thing, power, sophistication and success. They all offer extraordinary performance and amazing dynamic attributes and lastly they both are very beautiful cars. The McLaren is more flamboyant aesthetically, especially with doors that open up the way they do. This both a positive and a negative, in terms of elusiveness its a negative but at the same time, if you’re spending that amount of money you want something that will set you apart. The fact that the McLaren is so different is what may give it an edge against its competitors.

McLaren is clearly on a mission, a mission to change the way we look at super cars. In a short space of time, cars like the MC-12, the 650S and the P1 have solidified the brand into a staple in the super and hyper car segment. One get’s a feeling of determination from the brand, a determination to be the best. This determination is working because a few years ago when one thought of the best super cars, automatically you would think Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche. Today I think many would say Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche. The future shall be very interesting indeed. Happy Thought Thursday Motorists.

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Hollywood is going to lose its mind: The new Toyota Prius is here.

Fresh off the press: The New Toyota Prius

If the executives of large car brands are petty amongst their competitors, Toyota has every reason to say “I told you so” to other manufacturers. This is because before the millennium already, they were at the forefront of pushing the word “Green” amongst the car makers. This was done through the first generation Prius (which means “to go before”), the worlds first mass produced electric and petrol engined hybrid vehicle. This car was definitely revolutionary, especially during a time where many other manufacturers were going bigger and better in terms of engine size.

The second and third generation Toyota Auris’ are the cars that became celeb-mobiles, as these were offered in different markets other than Japan. The car started to carry a “holier than thou” stigma to it in the States because many celebrities drove them to prove that they care about the environment almost to say “if you don’t own one, you’re an earth-hater”. As much as many people rolled their eyes when Toyota was pushing greener cars, they soldiered on. Fast forward to 2015 and Toyota must be donning a face so smug because most manufacturers are now on the same page when it comes to environmentally friendly cars.

Which brings us to the 2015 Toyota Prius, it uses the same setup as its predecessors but with a new bold look and design to it. Toyota says it wanted to steer away from the look of a hybrid and rather employ sportier design cues to the car. Like the current Auris, the new Prius does look good. It’s unique it’s is design and looks quite space age too. Of course being newer, the car is also more efficient as well. Toyota also says the new Auris is more fun to drive as they have improved on the car dynamically, giving it it more of a planted feel. This has been achieved through lowering the car and making it wider. The Toyota has never been cramped inside so don’t expect anything to change with the new version too. The car still offers good interior space and if it drives anything like its siblings, it should provide good comfort too. We’re sure you can start enquiring about the car at local dealerships now. It’s a good thing we’re in South Africa so one won’t have to be put behind the Brad and Angelina on the waiting list.

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