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Range Rover Sentinel: Not the average Range Rover.

Tech Tuesday: Range Rover’s James bond inspired Sentinel.

Do you wake up in a cold sweat at night because you think people are coming for you? Do you suffer from paranoia? Do you introduce yourself by your last name then your first name, like James Bond? If so Range Rover has a vehicle for you, it’s called the Range Rover sentinel. Now maybe you don’t have the problems listed above, but you are somewhat of an important individual that people may want to kill, like a president or a member of the Royal family. If that is the case you will be happy to know that the Range Rover Sentinel is bulletproof, bomb proof and even grenade proof too. This is the first armoured Range Rover that has been developed in house by Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations.

How bulletproof is it?

From a scale of 1-bulletproof, the Range Rover Sentinel can withstand 7,62mm armour piercing rounds. It can also withstand 15kg of TNT and grenades thrown under the vehicle too. The car has a protective shell around it which is basically a fortress on its own. The glass fitted in the car can withstand the same type of armour, so you don’t have to worry about any potential threats getting at you through the windows. Basically when you close the doors of this car, you are driving in Fort Knox.

Isn’t the car heavier now that is fitted with all this armour?

Yes the car is definitely much heavier, but it can still manoeuvre through danger like a boss. This is because the brains behind the car have beefed up the suspension by strengthening the dampers and upgrading the braking system. If the attack on you is so bad that your driver needs to go off road, the vehicle won’t be compromised as it’s still a Range Rover and can do all sorts of great off road stunts. The tyres are even strengthened to handle this. If all else fails and the car can’t drive you can always escape through the trap door found in between the rear seats.

What is the point of the Range Rover Sentinel?

As ridiculous as this car sounds, it makes perfect business sense for Range Rover. Why sell a luxury car to politicians and wealthy business people who are going to take the car to get armoured by external companies, when you can do it yourself? This cuts out the middle man and lessens the work for the representatives of the people who buy these cars. Armouring a vehicle is already expensive so why don’t you pay a once off fee and buy a finished product from a reputable car maker?

How much does it cost?

Which brings us to the most important thing, the price. The Sentinel will cost around £400 000. Yes, that is a lot of money. Again though, if you’re a president, what’s £400K? If you’re a super rich business person who fears for his/her life, what’s £400K? That money is a lot for the normal person, but if you need a car like that, you’re not a normal person. The great thing about the Sentinel is that even though it’s James Bond inspired, outside it looks like a normal Autobiography, so no one knows how important you are. The blue light brigade are going to be so chuffed. Happy Tech Tuesday Motorists.

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John Cooper would be proud of the new JCW Mini Cooper S.

Mini’s fastest S yet, the JCW Cooper S.

John Cooper was a man who had an extreme passion for motorsport, a man who was a proper petrol head. His passion for cars saw him competing in various races but he became a legend through his business, the Cooper Car Company. This company which was co-founded by himself and his father, created small single seater race cars that pioneered many design elements for race cars of the future. Fast forward a few decades later and John Cooper was behind the Mini Cooper and Cooper S, the fast versions of the original Mini. These cars were used for rally and were very good at it too.

Has the John Cooper legacy lived on?

John Cooper was a man who loved some good old fun whilst driving. Anyone who has driven a new age Mini Cooper S can agree that it is possibly one of the best handling fun hatches to drive. So the definite answer to that question is a whole-hearted yes. I wonder what John Cooper would say if he was alive today and knew that the current car bearing his name produced 170 kW and 320Nm? I think he would be well impressed by those figures.

Those figures aren’t ridiculous, there are other hot hatches that produce more than that. That being said, those other hatches don’t weigh less than 1300 Kg, something the Mini has as an advantage. They say less is more, in the case of the JCW Mini Cooper S this is true. The vehicle accelerates from 0-100km/h in 6.3 seconds, which is properly quick for a small hatch. This new JCW version is the fastest production Mini ever made and the coolest looking too. There is nothing soft looking about it, it’s screams aggression in a sophisticated kind of way.

There is no such thing as being sophisticated when behind the wheel of a Mini Cooper S JCW though. The normal Mini Cooper S already makes one act like a small child on a sugar rush, so one can only imagine what the JCW does to an even remotely well composed individual. That is the point of the car though, it’s not meant to be calm, it’s meant to excite you and set your pants on fire, that is what John Cooper would’ve wanted. It’s good to see that even under new management, the name John Cooper has not been watered down, his legacy has lived on. His legacy was a simply one too, a small car, a good engine and a brilliant chassis. Happy Modded Monday Motorists.


Baby firecracker – Audi A1 1.8 TFSI S-Line

Feature Friday: We drive the Audi A1 1.8 TFSI S-Line

It’s funny what perception does to the human brain and driving the Audi A1 1.8 TFSI made me realise that. This car is essentially a Volkswagen Polo GTI with a different body on it. Same engine producing 141KW and 250Nm, same 7-speed DSG gearbox and even the same noise that comes out of the exhaust pipes. That being said, since the packaging is different, the A1 commands a different level of respect. Why? The Audi is a premium brand, that’s why.

Does premium really matter?

A premium brand automatically carry’s more street credibility, especially amongst the target market that these small hot hatches appeal to. One can liken it to fashion. An Edgars suit can be made from the exact same fabric that a Woolworths suit is made from, but because Woolworths is Woolworths, one would generally gravitate toward that brand. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the suit from Edgars but when someone says “nice suit, where did you get it from?” it rolls off the tongue nicer to say “Country Road from Woolworths” doesn’t it?

All these analogies may seem quite trivial but as previously mentioned, for the clients buying these cars, it matters. That is why in the world of branding, packaging counts and the S-Line package is a very nice package indeed. Just looking at the car gives you the impression that it means business, the rear spoiler, the beefy bumpers and that red centre piece on the bottom of the front bumper make this little A1 look like a baby RS Audi. The silhouette of the Sportback A1 is longer due to two the added rear doors, that further enhances the look of the car making it more imposing in stature.

Is it practical?

The added two doors aren’t just for looks though, they add greatly to the practicality of the car. As cool as you look driving in the A1 S-Line, coming out of the rear when it’s a two door is never charming. The space in the rear is also much better in Sportback guise, making it definitely the one to go for. Although the car is geared for performance, comfort is not compromised. Even at speed the car sits firmly on the road giving you a feeling confidence behind the wheel but without braking your back, something it’s rival the Mini Cooper S is guilty of unfortunately. Technology wise like all other Audi’s, the sound system is superb, packing enough of a punch to annoy your neighbours as you drive in to your home if you live in a complex or an estate. Bluetooth and USB are available and the pop up infotainment screen can be closed into the dashboard for a flush look to the cabin.

Does it go fast?

As previously mentioned the car looks ready to fight, but does it deliver on its looks though? In short, yes. The long of it is this – the A1 1.8 TFSI gives you three options in terms of vehicle characteristic settings. You have a choice of an Eco, Comfort and Dynamic mode. After spending a few days with the vehicle I learned how to get the most out of it. The Dynamic setting was the best but the gearbox was better in Manual mode with me up-shifting and down-shifting myself as opposed to Sport mode which decides for you which gear is best. The only flaw I can fault Audi on with this car is the fact that you don’t have paddles at the back of the steering wheel to change gears as you would have had in it’s sibling the Polo GTI. The fact is that as much as this car shares many similarities with the Polo GTI, the Polo is not its direct rival. The BMW 118i Sport and the aforementioned Mini Cooper S are, as they play in the more premium segment too.

It’s only when you make that realisation do you see why the A1 is priced at R390 000. the options in the one I drove retailed the car at R440 000 due to navigation, S-Line kit and Sunroof and Bi-Xenon headlamps as added options. The A1’s rivals depending on specification are priced very similarly too, so if you’re looking to purchase a small hot hatch be prepared to pay.

It is worth it?

That is a tough question, as there are many factors to look at. I feel that it depends on the client, most people I know who drive cars like the new Mini Cooper S are clients who drive bigger cars but seek a small fast run around. So for a client like that an extra R50 000 isn’t a big deal. The truth is, if you’re looking for value for money there are other options in the R400 000 price bracket that could convince you to either buy the A1 or not. That being said, the A1 1.8 TFSI makes for a very good little fast car, it’s a great all rounder and an exciting little car to pilot everyday. If you do buy one and are annoyed that you paid a lot for it, all you have to do is look at it and you may feel better. Happy Feature Friday Motorists.

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Mercedes’ answer to BMW’s X6: the run down on the new GLE.

Thought Thursday: Mercedes Benz’s attempt at an SUV Coupé, the new GLE.

This car is Mercedes Benz’s attempt at blending an SUV with a coupé by taking different elements from both, the presence of a SUV but the sleekness and elegance of a coupé. Let’s be honest, Mercedes here had a look at the BMW X6 and thought “ hmm we can do something like that, maybe even better”.


Have they done any better?

For me, this car looks a lot more attractive than the BMW X6,but that’s just my opinion. Nevertheless these two vehicles look remarkably similar in terms of body shape, have a look at the images and try tell yourself that they’re not similar, you can’t. Another point it shares with the BMW X6 is that you will either hate it or love it, this segment has no grey area. On paper I didn’t like it, but after seeing it in the flesh, I joined the latter camp.

What does the Mercedes Benz GLE offer to the market?

This beautiful German machine comes with a few power units to choose from. Firstly we have the fairly moderate V6 Diesel pushing out 190kW, the 350D is also the only diesel engine available. Mercedes offers more options in the petrol power plant department, well one more option to be precise. We have the 450 AMG 4MATIC COUPE, which is a 3 litre V6 petrol producing 270kW and 520Nm. This engine is Mercedes’ new introduction to the AMG Sports line, it is positioned in between the AMG line and the AMG Performance line. Mercedes says this engine allows clients to enter the world of AMG Driving Performance. Which is fair enough because this is a very nice engine which offers some good poke too. If you want more than 520Nm though, perhaps 900Nm is the number that tickles your fancy and 430kW is more appealing. Then your best bet is to opt for the classic “63” engine, which is now a 5.5-litre V8 twin turbo.

All that power, is it even manageable?

To keep all this power on the road, four wheel drive is standard and you can have things like Active Curve System with Active Roll stabilization or Agility Control Suspension with Amplitude Selective Damping System, (I know right). Basically what this all means is that the GLE has shiny new suspension parts that will enable you to go really fast around some bends, if you so please to do so. So now we know what engines are producing all that power, we also know what’s going keeps the tires on the road too. What about the bit in-between the engine and the wheels, yes the gearbox. Well as always with Mercedes Benz, there are options. We have the 7 speed AMG Speedshift which will be featured as standard in the GLE 63 AMG, or if you fancy more gears you can opt for the 9 speed automatic transmission otherwise known as the 9G-TRONIC (sounds like something from transformers). Nine gears really? I suppose in a world aiming at being green, more gears are the way to go. After all you don’t have to change them yourself, well you can but it’s not the same.

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So what is the verdict?

In all honesty this vehicle looks absolutely stunning. I love the bulky and aggressive front and the low rear end. It’s different and different is sometimes good. Mercedes Benz are really pushing the limits with their new cars I must say, I’m a fan. I’ve heard many people say they’re old mans cars but I have to disagree, with the new range of Mercs and with this vehicle in particular, they’ve fused classic Mercedes Benz luxury but with a young and sporty attitude. I’m sure this car will be popular with young sports stars around the world for sure, as they like big shiny things. The starting price for the V6 Diesel and Petrol version is a mean R1, 000,000. Add another R800, 000 to that for the stupidly fast V8. Let us know what you think of the new Mercedes GLE Coupe on our social media page. Until next time.