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The new BMW M5 CS – Too track focused?

We’ve had this conversation before. Are modern sports-cars focusing too much on track use as opposed to road use? Late last year we attended the launch of the new BMW M2 CS, a car that is marketed as a track ready BMW. The launch took place in Kyalami Racetrack, a fitting location for such a car. We all walked away giddy about the cars new suspension setup, the looks and how it sounds. It was only after scrolling through my social media feeds, did I see another journalist make an important statement that made so much sense. He tweeted “Gotta love the audacity of BMW launching their most track focused car on a racetrack, the one place owners can’t drive it without voiding their warranty.” This sentiment is very true, especially in South Africa where BMW’s carry a Motorplan (Warranty) that can easily be voided if customers fiddle or use their vehicle on track. However, that’s not the point of this article. Let’s bring it back to the M5 CS that we’re all drooling for. This has got to be the hottest M5 to date and it’s also BMW most powerful production vehicle ever.

From the gorgeous Frozen Deep Green paintwork, to the Gold Bronze wheels and kidney grille, the car looks extremely mean and in facelift guise, looks even better. The figures are outstanding, 437kW/750N.m and a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 3.0 seconds. In a 1 825kg family saloon? My word. The addition of M Carbon ceramic brakes also means that you’ll be able to stop this behemoth with much ease. But here’s the thing, this car is world renowned for its ability to be a family orientated sedan on the one hand and then a sports car murdering missile on the other. Unfortunately the M5 CS however has regressed when it comes to the former. I was very disappointed to find out that the CS only comes in a four seater configuration. Why?! Yes BMW have gone through stringent measures to reduce the weight of this vehicle, resulting in a 70kg reduction. The loss of weight is due to the use of carbon fibre reinforced plastic in various places and of course, the inclusion of a 2-seater lightweight-construction rear bench unit. I don’t know what a standard 3-seater bench weighs, but I’m sure the potential buyers of the vehicle wouldn’t care if the M5 CS was only 50kg’s lighter but provided the same practical attributes of a standard M5.

By making the M5 CS a four seater, BMW have removed one of the most charming characteristics of the car, it’s true family appeal. The reality is that most M5 CS owners won’t spend majority of their time on track, the same way most M5 drivers don’t. In fact, only a handful of sports car customers use their vehicles on track. These vehicles are meant to be dual purpose, especially a vehicle like an M5. As cars keep progressing in their abilities and more special editions are being made, often times manufacturers love focusing on the track prowess of their cars. Meanwhile they don’t tell you how squeaky carbon ceramic brakes are when cold or the fact that using your vehicle on track may result in a Motorplan suspension. On the other hand, many people have spawned only two children, so perhaps it’s not the end of the world and the CS is a limited production car, but still – an M5 is not supposed to be a 4- seater. Very few M5 CS’s are going to make their way to South Africa and I could bet my house that they’re all sold. So perhaps this article is a waste of time, but it just baffles me that BMW M would make such an astonishing vehicle, but then take away a simple yet critical element of the M5, it’s middle seat. All this is done in the name of weight saving, in a vehicle that essentially isn’t allowed on track. Am I missing something?

Do you have Mswenko?

VW SA adds some local flavour to their Vivo line-up.

I had a friend back in high school who owned a 2007 Audi A4 Cabriolet. In our matric year, he was voted as Head-Boy and exercised his many privileges by leaving class slightly early at the end of the day so he could park it in front of the school. He’d then roll the top down and blast some jams. I know what you’re thinking, but I promise it gets worse. He even got a personalised number plate that read SWAG GP. This was back in 2012, and suffice to say after much ridicule from all of us, he decided to remove it. I sense this was done in slight shame as has very few photos of the car with the number plate on. After much trolling through his social media, I was at least able to find one photo with the plate one.

Fast forward to 2021 and the ‘swag’ name reappears but this time in isiZulu and on the side of Volkswagen’s locally-produced Polo Vivo. So surely you’d think the new Polo Vivo Mswenko should be subject to an equal banter-filled tongue lashing? Well, not really. The connotations of the word Mswenko might limit the scope of appeal to a younger, more exuberant crowd who probably used #Mswenko in their tweets way before others even realised that Twitter even existed. But it is a limited edition model and should certainly appeal to that market quite well.

Volkswagen South Africa have taken advantage of their local production to create a distinctively South African model that can be tailored to appeal to current trends and even has the ability to create them. It’s a fantastic concept that can speak to our specific market in a way that the anodyne corporate approach just can’t. Volkswagen are known as the peoples car after all and it’s models like this that reinforce that.

Admittedly, I am on the fence about the name Mswenko – it will appeal to younger market, like I said, but I can’t imagine your husband/wife or children will be entirely happy if you drove around in a car that paraded your allure and swagger to all. But in saying that, I am woefully out of touch with the latest celebs and trends, so my opinion on this can be taken with a pinch of salt. It’s an acknowledgement and celebration of our local diversity, so hopefully we will see more models like this not just from Volkswagen, but from other manufacturers who build their vehicles locally.

The Mswenko is based on the Polo Vivo Comfortline variant and in addition to what that models offers as standard, you get decals on the side of the door with Mswenko lettering, 16-inch alloy wheels, a black roof, privacy glass and mirror covers that can be had in two different shades. There are four exterior colours to choose from: Pure White, Reflex Silver, Limestone Grey, and Reef Blue. The bright Ocean Blue seats contrast well against a rather monochrome interior with its various shades of grey. Silver dashboard inlays also spice things up, while other stand out features include a leather steering wheel and gear level, App Connect and 6 speakers. Pricing for the Polo Vivo 1.4 Mswenko comes in at R246 900 which includes a 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 6 year anti-corrosion warranty.

What just happened?!! 992 Porsche 911 Turbo S driven.

Nothing prepares you for it. All the sports cars, all the launch controls, all the speed – nothing prepares you for it. The 992 Porsche 911 Turbo S accelerates to 100km/h in 2.7 seconds. If the law and the road permit, this bullet disguised as a Porsche will reach 200km/h in 8.9 seconds, topping out at 330km/h. Unfortunately, in South Africa, the law nor the road permits these speeds, so I cannot attest for the vehicles top speed figures. What I can tell you is that you never doubt that this vehicle can reach those speeds with ease. It’s funny when you realise that a fully electric Porsche Taycan Turbo S with an instant torque figure of 1050N.m, gets to 100Km/h in 0,1 of a second slower than the new 911 Turbo S.

What has Porsche done to achieve these figures? At the heart of this weapon is a 3.8 horizontally opposed 6-cylinder engine, with two VTG turbochargers producing 478kW and 800N.m. These numbers are then translated to all four wheels via Porsche’s Torque Vectoring Plus (P.T.V Plus) system. This means that no matter what the condition, the vehicle will make sure that those insane kW’s and N.m’s are distributed to the wheels that need it most. This system is rear wheel biased, allowing for a confidence inspiring front axle that doesn’t feel encumbered like other 4WD setups. Given the responsibility of gearing this whole operation is an 8-speed PDK with a dual mass fly wheel. This is the only gearbox I’ve experienced that mimics the feeling of an 8-speed automatic in terms of smoothness.

When driven hard the changes are razor sharp too, but not neck snapping as is the case with other double clutch gearboxes. For those seeking repeated warp speed experiences, the Turbo S will happily launch control off the lights over and over, without putting a foot wrong. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s very happy to be in Comfort mode, pottering around town quietly without drawing too much attention to yourself. This is where you see the brilliance in Porsche’s gearbox engineering as the changes can barely be felt in Comfort, making the Turbo S a true everyday sports car.

To complete the everyday appeal, the 911 Porsche Turbo S needs to provide high levels of interior comfort. Thankfully this is the case as the fascia is modern and chic, well-built and it follows the design cues of its tamer 992 siblings. Most notable is the 10.9-inch infotainment screen which is equipped with Apple CarPlay, intuitive feedback and an easy-to-use layout. The information displayed on the screen can be mirrored to the driver’s digital display, keeping the driver focused on the road ahead. The flow of the interior creates an ergonomically friendly environment, with nothing being too far or out of sight. Seating comfort is also very good, and the rear can actually be used, albeit for humans of the kindergarten and Montessori variety.

So, what’s its actually like to drive? At first the numbers do intimidate, causing you to fire up the engine with some trepidation. Once you get going you begin by nursing the pressure on the accelerator, as this is one pedal that requires your attention and respect.  Once you start exploring and seeing what and how much throttle to use, it becomes easier and you settle into a rhythm. It’s genuinely astounding how civil a vehicle with this level of performance can be. Once you get over the pleasantries you then muster up the courage to see if the claims are true.

The initial launch control will either leave you wanting more, or you’ll happily admit that this amount of performance is not for you. Either way you’ll ask yourself “what just happened?” If you’re part of the former group, the more you use the torque on offer appropriately, the more you’ll begin trusting the front axle, which as previously mentioned is very communicative. Each drive then becomes a well-orchestrated dance, you as the conductor at the wheel with your right foot controlling the tempo. Topping the experience off, is a chassis and aerodynamics that will have you questioning the little you know about physics.

It’s one thing to be able to accelerate rapidly but stopping is another difficult task that engineers need to perfect before unleashing a car like this to the masses. Again, thankfully the Porsche Turbo S stops as if it has seen your sibling warming up the leftovers you had saved while holding your charging cord that was stolen from your desk! No seriously, it actually gets to a point where nausea is on the horizon. You simply don’t expect the bite from the brakes to be as vicious as it is. This is due to the Turbo S being equipped with a 10-piston caliper setup up front. So, it’s good to know that you have massive performance on both ends of the scale, acceleration and braking.

So, what will all this cost you? It’s difficult to guess when you have near hyper-car like performance meant for everyday use. Without any extras, the vehicle will set you back a cool R3.7 million. Yes, this is not pocket change but let’s consider what that price tag gets you. If money is no object, most wealthy drivers would seek a daily driver that offers comfort and frills, making traffic better than what it is. Thereafter on the weekends, a secondary high-performance vehicle would be opted for, one that reminds you why you work as hard as you do. Porsche has remedied the need for this, giving you everything in one. A car that does both brilliantly. So, is R3.7 million still a lot of money, or is it a bargain? It depends on how you look at it.

Those who share the same viewpoint as me will agree that this 992 Porsche 911 Turbo S is worth it. It’s an experience like no other. This vehicle reminds you why Porsche has such a cult following. It’s also a reminder to the competition that this Porsche’s game. The 911 Turbo has always ruled this segment and continues to do so with the 992.

Doing nothing in the Audi A4…

If someone were to ask me how I would sum up an Audi A4, I would use one word – sensible. The applies to all the generations of the vehicle, including the newest iteration that Audi South Africa loaned us for the December holidays. We at TheMotorist have been very fortunate to sample many of the Volkswagen Group’s vehicles over an extended period. Normally these periods include long drives to the coast, frequent excursions to popular areas and many selfies. 2020 however, proved to be very different as the world has been and still is going through a pandemic. As a result, our German steed had the fun task of parking at either my home, or my brother’s home five kilometres away. What would have been hundreds of kilometres on the road ended up being nearby shopping runs, dinner outings and the usual “staycation” activities that are involved when trying to avoid getting infected by a potentially deadly virus.

To call a spade a spade, it’s rather unfortunate that our 40TFSI A4 with all its bells and whistles didn’t get the attention it deserved. However this situation did allow us to put on our “consumer hat” and evaluate this vehicle from a consumers perspective. Often times us journalists make the mistake of judging a vehicle as a petrol-head, forgetting that for most, a vehicle needs to do the normal stuff very well too – something a number of performance vehicles struggle to do. Speed, style and flair often wow us to write sterling reviews of a vehicle. The reality is that majority of buyers need a vehicle that makes sense in many ways, something the new Audi A4 seems to have nailed on many counts. Let me tell you why…

Looking at the updated A4 will not evoke heart-racing emotion, unless you have a thing for understated sedans. The overall design of the car remains largely similar too, with the modernisation of the front and rear bumpers, as well as the headlights being the main changes. The vehicle remains good looking and in the specification we tested, the larger wheels make the design “pop” more. What stands out in the outward appearance of the vehicle is the LED lighting system, with the rear lights being my favourite. Audi have always had a strong lighting game and it’s great to see the A4 get the lighting design treatment you’d expect in an A6 or even the ever so rare Audi A8. So outwardly, the A4 is pretty enough to be admired briefly but it also blends in on the road, quietly going about its day, not drawing too much attention to the driver – something that can be appreciated by a number of motorists.

Where the new A4 comes into its own is on the inside. Finished in a light grey leather, the interior of this specific vehicle was top class. Minimalistic, vast and very modern are the words that one can use to describe the A4 on the inside. Oh and the build quality is great too. My wife, a non-petrol head kept commenting about how she enjoyed being inside this vehicle, with its comfort being the winning attribute for her, but we’ll touch on that shortly. At the virtual launch of the updated A4, Audi South Africa emphasised the new connected services, now on offer in the updated A4 through the myAudi app. The technology in this car is what they’re most proud of, which is interesting as face-lifts are usually about the exterior changes. This time around, Audi is talking directly to a tech-focused audience. The app is impressive as it allows you to lock the vehicle remotely, check how much fuel you have, find the vehicle in a car park and then some.

My favourite feature was the ability to search for a specific location on the app and then send the location to the vehicle, which lessens the time it takes sitting in the vehicle and setting up your next stop on apps such as Waze and Google Maps. Being in South Africa, you don’t want to be sitting in an idling vehicle, looking down on your phone, as that is when you can potentially be affected by crime. All in all the features of the app are useful, but I fear that other systems such as Apple CarPlay could steal the limelight from the myAudi app as nothing is more simpler than simply plugging in your phone and mirroring your smartphone – something our December A4 did as it was fitted with the Technology package. That meant that we had the awesome Virtual Cockpit, which fully digitises your instrument cluster, allowing you to mirror customised information onto your dashboard. A must in our opinion.

Another feature we felt was a must in the A4, was the upgraded sound system. Listen, R17 200 is not cheap but you’ll kick yourself if you don’t do it because the Bang & Olufsen setup is brilliant. Every dance song was a party, every vocal sounded like a concert and the bass on offer was perfect for any Amapiano song. Interestingly, if you switched the radio off, you’d be surprised at how quiet the A4 was. That is what Audi has done really well with this update. The A4 felt very refined behind the wheel. My wife’s praise was warranted as this was one comfortable sedan. Despite it riding on optional 19 inch wheels, it glided through the quiet streets of Joburg gracefully. Personally, I felt our model was riding a smidge too high. The clearance between the wheels and the wheel arches seemed to large. But obviously there’s reasoning as to why the vehicle is set up like this and judging by the ride quality, I can understand why.  

Our vehicle was equipped with the tried and tested 2.0 TFSI engine that has done the rounds at both Audi and Volkswagen for many years. This specific engine produced 140kW/320Nm and was good for a 0-100km/h sprint of 7.3 seconds. Truthfully, you don’t jump into an A4 with the mindset of racing around town. As a result, the power delivered by this vehicle is just enough for what most people will use it for. Consumers will be more enthralled by the 7-speed S tronic gearbox that changes gears quieter than a child stealing sweets from the pantry. The overall driving experience is what you would expect from a vehicle such as this, again there’s a strong feeling of sensibility in the way this car does things. It almost feels like the A4 is not looking to compete with the sporty characteristics of the likes of a BMW 3 Series or a Mercedes C-Class. The A4 feels like it’s doing its own thing.

After four weeks in this vehicle, myself and fellow motorist Richard understood why the A4 exists and why it is still seen on the road today, despite it not being the “star” of the segment. You see at standard price of R726 500, the A4 is not cheap. Our model came in at a whopping R920 200. This is a lot of money and one could justify that there are other Audi models that a customer could buy for the same amount of money, especially in the pre-owned market. But that’s the thing, the A4 is not for those looking for thrills, it’s not a vehicle aimed at die-hard petrol heads. It’s a vehicle for consumers who want to commute quietly, in style and luxury. It’s for a consumer who wants a vehicle that simply makes sense and for many, the Audi A4 is just that. Good sense. Spending our time in this model for a month doing “nothing” allowed us to take a break from being a journalist and rather look at things from a consumer perspective. Now each time I see an A4 on the road, I think to myself, that’s a well to do person who wanted a vehicle that simply makes sense. A vehicle that will most likely be kept for a long period of time, until a new A4 arrives. Question is, are you that consumer?

Best of both: The Porsche Cayenne Coupé GTS

I’ve made it no secret that SUVs are my favourite vehicles right now. Yes, I’m not the person that’s going to go off roading nor am I going to use the vehicle to its “full capability”. What I am going to do is enjoy the ride height, the drive comfort and being eye-line with all the taxis. This makes for such a pleasurable and in control driving experience.

Now within the SUV revolution has come the coupé SUV revolution. Coupé SUV you may ask? Yes indeed an SUV coupé. This was brought into the market by BMW introducing the first X6. This was a vehicle that undoubtedly split opinions, you either loved it or hated it. Fast forward a couple of years and now we stand with the indisputably best looking Coupé SUV and that is the Porsche Cayenne Coupé and in this variant, the GTS.

The GTS badge, having made its first introduction a couple of models ago, has fast become the preferred model of the entire range. This is because the GTS offers the perfect blend of comfort, sportiness, looks and of course, attitude. A lot louder, a little more sleek and decidedly the more “stocky looking” of the range, the GTS has always been the family extrovert and what an extrovert this new one is.

Having pulled off a modern day motoring miracle, Porsche have given back to its owners a V8 in the GTS. Punching out 338kW, 620Nm, this “Hot V” (Turbos sitting in between the two banks of cylinders) Will propel this family wagon to the ton in 4,5 seconds. I’m sure most families will never in their wildest dreams think of it, but it also is capable of cruising, on the autobahn of course, at 270km/h. What the numbers don’t tell you, is how cool the overall package makes you feel as a driver.

My short love affair with this vehicle happened in Cape Town. Amidst this pandemic, which has turned all that we know and love in its head, it was surreal to get behind the wheel and attack the near empty roads in and around the Mother City. The noise of the vehicle is what gets to you. That deep, pre-emission noise is what petrol dreams are made of. The steering is light but never to the point where you wonder about your front wheels. The steering is always able to communicate what is going on in the front axle, with the rear maintaining discipline and following suit, not trying to over-take or be left behind by the rear. The cabin is a beautiful place to be in as well. Mixture of modernity and sleekness, the buttons, controls and facia are traditionally Porsche and will be really pressed to find anything wrong with the inside.

Space is not an issue as well. With Coupé SUVs, it tends to be a tighter space to be in compared with its non-sloped roof sibling. At 1,85M, being able to sit behind myself, I didn’t find the space cramped, my feet didn’t find the metal railing of the chair in front and there was no brushing of the hair that is now falling out near the roof.

Now for the “fun” part, the price. With cars costing at least half or more than a modern family home, it was surprising to me and the team that the vehicle starts at a sticker price of R1 839 000. This feels like it’s sticker price should be in the R2M Mark. With most rivals taking the new road to no emissions, Porsche is on the same stretch of road but what sets them apart is a team of engineers that have stuck to their guns and have made it work, in a crazy time for it. Long live the V8 and we will take two please, in Red and one in Black!

A Late Night Snack Run to Remember: Porsche Cayman GT4

Porsche 718 GT4

Its 20:03, the little guy is being put to bed by his Mom, and I’m on my way out to our local garage for sweets, chocolate, and emergency ice creams. The fate of our Marvel Franchise omnibus is at stake. What seems to be a routine trip to the garage is however very complicated on this Covid-19 filled evening, as what is now staring at me were the typical ‘Dad mobile’ lives, is a very low, agile, two-seater cars that Dads surely can’t drive?! It’s a Porsche 718 GT4, and the short run to the local garage will definitely not do, as I need to make sure we exercise the long ratios from the six-speed *glasses mist up* manual gearbox that’s in this vehicle.

Before I get into the meat as to the kind of child I turned into in my short time with this little monster from Stuttgart, we need to start at the beginning. You see, when I learned to drive and in fact, the vehicle that I passed my driver’s license in, was also from a European manufacturer that just like Porsche, has a six-cylinder configuration which has long been the engine of choice for them as well. My little brother, now known to many as the host of Ignition GT, was a mere lad that somehow always found himself in my passenger seat on trips to the shops, ordinarily late in the evening where the air has cooled, and a naturally aspirated motor can sing the song of its people. Those nights, mixed with general male mischief was the foundation of our love for cars and as soon as the vehicle shaped key was slotted into the GT4’s slot and turned clockwise, the familiar chatter of a six-cylinder firing up to its resting idle, albeit in a Porsche flat engine formation, brought me right back to those nights.

Driving at walking speeds, not because I’m a responsible resident in my estate, but as I didn’t want to catch the lip spoiler, you can tell that this is an analogue driving machine. It’s unhappy at low revs, wanting to hold on to its lowest gear possible to make sure that you have some torque at least. You see, this is old school. Here, you have to look for the performance. At normal speeds, the GT4 is happy to cruise along with its soundtrack gently whispering sweet nothings to you while its Racing seat holds you together like a Twinkie. Coming to the main road, nursing the clutch out, and its “GO GO GO” away from a green light, while burying your go faster foot into the carpet and the six comes alive. No, this is not a wave of torque that you ride like in a turbocharged or supercharged vehicle but rather like a snowball that gets quicker, louder, blurrier and more intoxicating with every thousand revolution that passes. I had executed my award-winning gear-changes countless times, but there is still a moment of nervousness about messing this one up. Not this time, as it slots into place and the tachometer begins its race again to the red line, clutch, grabbing a handful of third and you’re now chasing speeds that are above the national limit-Driven by the sheer awesomeness has you thinking that even in prison, I will be as hardcore as this car that under me. At the red line in third, you realise how tall the gearing is as you are now just over the 160kph mark and out of pure shock, you back off and the car slows down because of the compression, it’s on overrun, slowing down and you as you near the next red light. The guy asking for change doesn’t even come near you. He is reasoning with himself that even though his situation is terrible, it’s no worse than a fat man ugly crying in a sports car, at a light, just before curfew. 

What brings about the ugly tears and face, is the heart of the beast, in this case, it is a 4.0l, naturally aspirated motor. Producing 309kW and 420 Nm of torque with a redline sitting at 8 000rpm, the GT4 can get you to from 0-100kph in 4.4 seconds and a top speed of a 300kph. What rewires you is the power delivery. From the first time you bury your foot, the millennium in all of us asks, “where is the power?” No young one, you have much to learn. You see, instant gratification, is the norm especially now with every motor either packing a turbo or a supercharger and sometimes, both. This has led to the birth of the “PlayStation Racer” (Patent Pending) You see, this is the type of driver that just holds the steering, his turbocharged motor, at full boost, waiting for the brake to be released as launch control has been activated. The left foot comes off the pedal and the driver, using his unparalleled skill to hold the car straight, goes through the automatic gears and boom, another 1/4 mile done in about eleven seconds, and our man is a hero! Not in the GT4.

This is a vehicle that is so basic but yet so rewarding to drive that in its category, has no real comparison. This is a vehicle that is ten, yes TEN seconds quicker than its predecessor at the “Green Hell”, and if you don’t know where the Green Hell is, then this isn’t the car the for you. It begs you to dig and as you dig deeper and deeper into its skillset and bag of tricks, it’s then where you realise that manufacturers don’t have this sort of offering anymore. This is a vehicle that lets you dictate the speed and the tempo of the drive with all of your inputs. A vehicle that has left the changing of cogs to you and you only. A vehicle that has no assistance in getting more air into its lungs, to the point that you can hear the inlet manifold sucking in air that echoes within the snug cabin, and at the same time, the spent air coming from the standard sports exhaust encouraging you to send it all the way to the red line again, and again and again.

The GT4 is by far the most rewarding drive in this “truck crashing into a train while carrying several tons of fuel, driven by an infant into a parked plane” of a year. A beautiful reminder that some manufactures have stuck to their guns and have made a car that will still, in this everchanging climate, make you childishly grin from ear to ear. Porsche is a brand that feds into the simple pleasures, when their clients requested a manual in the GT3, they looked back and said, “would you like that with six or seven ratios”. A manufacturer that in 2020, has given us a naturally aspirated motor, married to a perfectly weighted gearbox and clutch. Just wow.

For those wondering the fate of the snacks, I should express in fact, the only reason why I remembered that I needed to bring snacks is due to the eventual decision to be on my way home. I stopped to feed that glorious six-cylinder and remembered why I had left home in the first place. That, with full knowledge that you have been gone for at least two hours, the window of movie watching is far out of scope, and you come home to a fire breathing lady that just wanted to have some snacks while watching the God of Thunder. Sorry babe, but so worth it, what a car!!

Silent but violent – New Porsche Taycan driven.

We’ve all experienced this scenario before: you’re sitting with either friends or a loved one and enjoying their company. Perhaps watching a movie or reading before bed, when suddenly, out of the blue – it hits you. At first, you’re shocked as you’re unsure if what you think is happening is really happening. At that point your brain indeed confirms that your suspicions are a reality and the inevitable question arises: “Did you fart?” Depending on who committed this heinous deed, the question is either met with silence and shame, or hysterical laughter. Either way, once you have the confirmation from the perpetrator, the stench often intensifies rapidly, inducing feelings of anger, confusion and sometimes giggles. This whole scenario takes mere seconds to happen. It’s unexpected; it’s jarring to the senses and in some instances, it feels deadly. The age-old saying remains true: “silent but violent”.

The same can be said about the new Porsche Taycan. How so? Well, it too is both silent and with its silence comes extremely violent acceleration. The only difference is that the Taycan will not hurt the environment. Yes, the “full-fat” Taycan Turbo S we recently sampled at the national media launch will reach 100km/h in 2.8 seconds. So, we can truly say that the Taycan can clear a room. Immediately. This figure is not what astounds you the most though, but rather how the vehicle reaches this speed. You see, unlike its most related sibling the Panamera Turbo S – which uses a snarling V8 powerplant – the Taycan is fully electric, meaning that all 1050Nm it produces is instantly dispelled in a way that is more shocking than your grandmother dropping a bomb at dinner. Since the Taycan runs on batteries, this also means that it doesn’t emit the traditional sound you would expect from a vehicle with a combustion engine. In fact, the smart people at Porsche have had to work at creating a spaceship-like engine tone in and out of the car to ensure that pedestrians know you’re coming. Besides that, the Taycan is near silent. Design-wise, the Taycan’s modern look screams at you, though it looks like a Porsche concept car driving on South African streets. People gawk, stare, inquire and of course capture every time you’re spotted in the Taycan. Understandably so as it is quite a fine specimen on the road. 

Under the bonnet. Is that even a thing anymore?

Without going all “sciencey”, the Taycan’s powerplant can be summed up like this. It uses two motors on each axle and an 800-volt Performance Battery with an over-boost function. The total figures are 560kW (100kW over-boost) and the aforementioned 1050Nm. Yes, you read correctly. The Taycan also uses a two-speed transmission with an extremely short first gear ratio which explains the slingshot launch control sensation. Being a Porsche, the Taycan is still every bit a Porsche as you can imagine it to be, with very dynamic handling characteristics. The Performance Battery is located at the bottom of the vehicle, giving it a low centre of gravity. The result is a very planted chassis and nimble front-end turn-in. The latter is due to the rear-axle steering which comes in handy since the size of the Taycan is not small. In fact, the vehicle weighs over two tons, but you wouldn’t know that since it feels very light on its feet. Size-wise, the Taycan can fit four adults comfortably and the whole vehicle begs to be driven for a long time as the 4D chassis control system makes for plush ride quality – perfect for gran touring. Long drives in an electric car? This is usually not the case, but the Taycan actually has good range for an electric car. If you behave, you can get over 400km in one charge, but naturally you can expect a more conservative figure when you take into account driving styles and types of roads such highways and city driving. Whilst we’re talking about being inside the Taycan, you’ll be happy to know that this vehicle keeps to its modern theme on the inside, with a minimalistic approach taken design-wise. Almost all functions can be controlled via the touchscreens, including the air-conditioning vents – a must-see. Like really, Google “Taycan air-vents touchscreen”. 

When you do need to charge your Porsche Taycan, it will take you 4.5 hours to juice it up to the brim at home with the AC charging unit. However, if you use a DC charger you can get 80% charge in 22.5 minutes and 100km of range in 5 mins. Our test unit’s charging station was touch-enabled, with the flap smoothly sliding into the body when opened – another cool feature in the Taycan.

How does it make you feel?

We still feel that there is a perception of a lack of excitement when it comes to electric cars. Time and time again, a vehicle with an electric powerplant proves that thrills can be provided by these silent assassins. The Porsche Taycan Turbo S takes these thrills to another level. Yes, the petrol head in you, wishes for a howling flat-six, but putting that aside, when you lock into the experience you soon realize that this. Is. Still. A. Porsche. Enough said.

The future. Now.

Porsche has proved that brands steeped in driver-focused heritage can play in new spaces without compromising their ethos. The Taycan represents a new dawn for Porsche, whilst still keeping the brand’s identity alive. For those looking to compare the Taycan to something else locally, they’ll realize that it’s a pointless exercise. The Taycan has no competition in South Africa, as Elon Musk has left SA high and dry when it comes Tesla. What this means is that there is no point in asking the question if one should buy this car or not. Those who want it, will get it – despite the price tag (over R4million rand for a Taycan Turbo S). All we know is that it’s a marvel. It’s a whole new experience and a great one at that.

VW Facelifts its Tiguan Family SUV

Since its 2016 arrival, the second-generation VW Tiguan has proven to be a very successful seller, capturing families in need of a large Crossover SUV and providing rival to the likes of the Toyota Rav4, Nissan X-Trail and Mazda CX-5. South Africa’s deep brand Loyalty to the VW and the strength of the products almost instantly meant Tiguan grew to be one of the class leaders with accolades to boot, including the 2019 Family Car of the year award.

2021 VW Tiguan facelift

Easily recognisable as a Tiguan the looks have been updated and now the more angular front lines (similar to the Golf 8) new front bumper with additional venting and cooling complete the front end rather fittingly. The overall look appears to be small changes that have enhanced and modernised the overall appearance- at the rear, the light clusters retain the same design. Still, they now feature LED lights, and the rear bumper is slightly more sporty with chrome exhaust like inserts.

2021 VW Tiguan Interior and Specs

The newest updates to the interior are the new MIB3 infotainment system, the updated steering wheel design with the same touch slider configuration as the climatic control to replace the buttons. The updates to the Tiguan’s driver connectivity features have advanced to the same standard on seen on the New Golf 8. Newer Gen features like We Connect Go, Wireless Apple Car Play and Andriod Auto and a 480-Watt Fender Premium Sound System ditching the potent Dynaudio System of before.

2021 VW Tiguan Passive and Active Safety.

Being a New VW Product, the focus on Safety in both passive and Active measures is extensive. The latest version of VW’s ACC- adaptive cruise control, now makes use of the Sat-Nav systems and Front-Mounted Camera to understand speed zoning and can adjust the vehicle speed accordingly. The System can take over full autonomous control (braking, steering and acceleration) at speeds of up to 200kph. Cross-traffic alert, emergency braking, and park assist features on the New Tiguan as part of the optional specification.

2021 VW Tiguan Drivetrains

The South African engine lineup has yet to be confirmed but is likely to mirror that of the New Golf 8, which abroad offers an entry-level 1.5Litre Turbo petrol in either a 96kW or 110kW states of tune. The 2.0TSI Turbo petrol will likely feature 180kW’s with a full cream Tiguan R as the range-topper. A 2.0TDI variant will be carried over from the current lineup.

2021 VW Tiguan In South Africa

The new VW Tiguan will arrive in South Africa towards the beginning of 2021 with the more focused Tiguan R Performance variant offering 235kWs and 420Nm. Power will be delivered to the road via 4-Motion AWD via a 7-Speed DSG gearbox.

Lexus enhances and advances the IS range

The Lexus IS range has always proved to be a formidable alternative to the more typical executive sedan options, now with the updated Lexus family face and image will the perceived image gap grow insignificant?

2020 Lexus IS Specs

The Sporty muscular look is said to hint at Lexus’ Driving Signature of performance, ethos that integrated the extensive engineering process that has resulted in the high focus on driver engagement and control. Lexus claims these will be the standards to which all new vehicles will be subject to, and thusly the change in focus should result in some interesting alternatives to key rival brands. The ‘New Look’ Lexus family face synergy carries through with the combination of a newly revised Spindle three-dimensional front grill, L-Shape LED lighting and angular lines that carry throughout the entirety of the bodyline of the vehicle. This beefer look is carried through the wider rear and new 19-Inch alloy wheels, that has created the necessity to widen the track 45mm in the front and 50mm in the rear. An updated version of Lexus Saftey Sense Plus will provide for driver autonomy through Dynamic Radar Cruise Control; Emergency Steering Assist Pre-Collision Systems, High Beam Assist and Lane Tracing Assist.

The focus on smooth “Linear vehicle operation”, hints to the overall refined drivability of the vehicle with the extensive development at Toyota’s Shimoyama Technical Centre, which focused on the behavioural dynamics of the vehicle. Retaining the rear-wheel-drive platform this should in-effect create a better-mannered vehicle.

2021 Lexus IS Drivetrains

The IS range will now feature both a 2Litre turbo-petrol and a hybrid electric 2.5Litre 4-cylinder to serve as the entry-level IS200 and 250h respectively. The IS300 derivative will feature a more powerful version of the same turbo 4-pot and with the option of the more adaptive approach to the driving experience, or the Combination of a hybrid System orientated for better throttle inputs and economy. The F-Sport flagship will feature the 3.5litre V6 and around 230kW. The transmission will be the 8-Speed ZF found in almost anything these days but with good reason given its versatility.

2021 Lexus IS Interior

The major benefactor of the new Lexus approach to vehicle design and ergonomics should prove to be the interior. The update brings a 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with the now obligatory Andriod Auto and Carplay. A 360-degree camera with parking support that will break and steer the vehicle. Updated accents and climate control interface and the touchpad that allows main control over the interface. Door trims are embossed, and interior decorative elements finished in Ash or Black Geometric Film. F-Sport models get a more illustrious Satin Chrom finish and the option of a Flare Red.

2021 Lexus IS range in South Africa

With the set arrival for the first quarter of 2021 the IS range currently starts of pricing at R747 800 and with the entry-level models this is likely to fall, Considering the current economic climate and rising new car prices even an entry point of sub-R600k will make this a pricy car, but it should argue its value and worth vehemently.

The IS range will be sold standard with a maintenance plan and 7-Year Lexus Warranty.

Volkswagen T-Roc set to arrive in time for summer

With an expected arrival for later this year, the Volkswagen T-Roc is poised to cause the same stir that it has in Europe since its October 2019 launch. Set as the big brother to the ever-popular T-Cross, but still, to be smaller than the larger Tiguan full-sized SUV, the Sub -Compact SUV serves as a rival to the likes of the Mazda CX-3, sister car Audi Q2 and Nissans ageing Juke.

2020 VW T-Roc Spec

The T-Roc will be offered with to trim levels, namely Design and the traditional ‘R-line’ nomenclature as the range-topper in terms of spec. The design comes standard with VW’s 8-inch Composition Media Radio, with the obligatory Carplay and Andriod Auto connectivity options. We Connect Go which is VW’s vehicle information App, Voice control and dual-zone Climatronic again standard, with the LED rear taillights and PDC topping the generous list.

In addition to these safety features, VW’s new I.Q Drive technology systems are available on the T-Roc. I.Q drive tech aims at supporting the journey to fully autonomous driving and represents a range of driving assistance systems. On the T-Roc, the list of I.Q Drive technologies are as follows:

The I.Q Drive technologies included in the T-Roc are Park Assist, Emergency Assist, Front Assist, Traffic Jam Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Assist.

The I.Q Drive technologies included in the T-Roc are Park Assist, Emergency Assist, Front Assist, Traffic Jam Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Assist.

Emergency Assist: This is standard on the T-Roc and uses a range of system s in the vehicle to assist the driver when they are unable too.

As soon as the sensors detect no steering, braking or acceleration activity on the part of the driver, the system activates various escalation stages.

Initially, the system attempts to wake the driver by steering jerks and finally, an emergency stop is initiated. The hazard warning flashers are activated automatically, and the car completes some slight steering manoeuvres to draw the attention of other road users to the hazardous situation.

ACC prevents collisions with the traffic ahead. Finally, the system brakes the vehicle continuously to a standstill.

Traffic Jam Assist: This system also utilises from other tech such as the Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Assist. Using these other systems, Traffic Jam Assist allows for safe and convenient stop-and-go driving in heavy traffic situations.

Front Assist: A conventional assistance system on vehicles today. Front Assist utilises sensors to determine the distance to the vehicle ahead. When this distance it dramatically closing and the driver is not yet applying the brakes, the system will help shorten the stopping distance and alert the driver with visual and audible signs.

Pedestrian Monitoring: This is a new offering that works as an extension and in conjunction with Front Assist. It uses sensors located at the front of the vehicle, which aids in looking for pedestrians and obstructions. If necessary, the vehicle will alert the driver using audio and visual systems, as well as applying the brakes if needed.

Lane Assist: This system is pretty straight-forward, literally. Lane Assist aids the driver is keeping the vehicle between the lanes on the road and has various levels of escalation. It can warn the driver through audio, a vibration through the steering wheel, and even provide steering intervention.

2020 VW T-Roc R-Line

The R-Line T-Roc adds impressive levels of standard equipment, previously exclusive to an options list are now standard on this model. With Safety a clear priority, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Assist, Front Assist area Monitoring with pedestrian recognition and City braking.

The R-Line T-Roc adds impressive levels of standard equipment, previously exclusive to an options list are now standard on this model. With Safety a clear priority, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Assist, Front Assist area Monitoring with pedestrian recognition and City braking.
Externally, the front end in combination to the R-line treatment gets LED daytime running lights with dynamic cornering lights, Keyless entry and 19-Inch Suzuka alloy wheels. The cabin gains Active Info display, Mobile Phone induction and Vienna leather.

The R-Line T-Roc adds impressive levels of standard equipment, previously exclusive to an options list are now standard on this model. With Safety a clear priority, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Assist, Front Assist area Monitoring with pedestrian recognition and City braking.

Externally, the front end in combination to the R-line treatment gets LED daytime running lights with dynamic cornering lights, Keyless entry and 19-Inch Suzuka alloy wheels. The cabin gains Active Info display, Mobile Phone induction and Vienna leather.

2020 VW T-Roc Drivetrains

Powering the T-Roc will be the choice of two petrol engines at launch, with more engine options to follow later into early 2021. A 110kW 1.4Litre TSI producing 250 Nm and linked to an 8-Speed Automatic or a 140Kw 2.0Litre TSI producing 320Nm and through a 7-Speed DSG gearbox and suitable for a 7.2 second 0-100 Sprint time, and 216Km/h Top Speed.

VW T-Roc Pricing in South Africa

The T-Roc will go on sale in November of 2020 with the 2.0 TSI design model joining at the dawn of the new year. At this stage, pricing has yet to be confirmed but expect an R500k plus entry point for the 1.4 TSI Design with the more illustrious R- Line climbing further and likely to crest of the R600k mark.

The Volkswagen T-Roc comes standard with a three year/120 000km warranty, five year/ 90 000km Volkswagen Service Plan and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. Service interval is 15 000km.