Category: Volkswagen

Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI R Line – First Drive

Rewind 20 years and anyone claiming to have had a vehicle with a 1.0 – litre 3-cylinder motor producing 81 kW and 200 N.m would have been labelled a madman. If they were to continue, stating that this revolutionary vehicle would sip just 4.4 l/100km and exhibit refinement to match the then contemporary E39 5 Series, the automotive community would have locked them away in a Corolla in solitary confinement until they came around.

Having now grown accustomed to the trend of downsizing, most of the above doesn’t really come as a surprise to both the public and motoring scribes alike. What does come as somewhat of a surprise is that the vehicle boasting all of the above figures isn’t even a brand new vehicle, but rather an updated version of a car that’s been on sale in South Africa for the past 8 years. There’s no denying that the Volkswagen Polo is the most impressive vehicle within its segment and now it has been given quite a nice little final hoorah if you will.

Its full name is the Polo 1.0 TSI R-Line and it features VW’s hugely impressive 3-cylinder 1.0-litre unit, mated to the 7-Speed DSG gearbox we’ve come to know and love. Along with its the drivetrain, the Polo has also been visually tweaked with a smattering of R-Line goodness in the shape of R-Line design front and rear bumpers, R-Line sill extensions, a rear diffuser, chrome exhaust tip and 17” alloys. 8 years on, the Polo is still a handsome thing and while the interior on this model is much the same as the rest of the range, it remains a superlative example of build quality and tactile pleasure.

Set to make its way into a number of VW Group Products, the 1.0-litre unit features active balancing shafts which cancel out the inherent vibrations within a 3-cylinder motor. It’s a very smooth unit which delivers maximum torque from just 2 000 rpm.  Due it being lighter than the locally produced 1.2-litre unit alongside which it is offered, it’s a free-revving and spritely motor and is surprisingly characterful thanks to the triple thrum emanating from behind the bulkhead. A claimed consumption of just 4.4 l/100km is 0.5 l/100km less than that of the 1.2-litre motor, yet 25 N.m more torque is on offer.

While pottering around town, the low-down torque and the slickness of the DSG transmission really do make it all a bit effortless and brisk bursts between traffic lights actually bring a smile to one’s face. Dynamically, the chassis handles the twisties with aplomb and the sometimes rough and constantly undulating roads along our test route in the countryside of Port Elizabeth were where the Polo did better than expected. Its high-speed stability is far superior to that of its competitors and again, this is all thanks to a well-sorted chassis and incredible refinement, as well as the use of Volkswagen’s XDS Electronic locking diff which you can certainly feel doing its bit in the corners and comes as standard on this model. If I were to briefly sum up how the Polo drives, I would have to say that it is confidence inspiring and effortless, and can be different things to different people. The R-Line package adds an impressive duality to the Polo in that it can be sporty and playful if that’s what you ask of it, as well is comfortable and docile if its economy and a leisurely drive you’re after.

Other standard features include the usual raft of safety features, rest assist, 4 airbags (6 optional), air-conditioning, multi-function steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, sports seats with drawers beneath them and a front-centre armrest with storage compartment.

Priced at R290 200, it comes in at the same price as the already available 1.2 TSI Highline Auto but offers a different box of frogs to that vehicle. Yes, it is rather pricey, but you certainly get your money’s worth – just remember that if you were to tell someone in 1998 that your Polo would be able to match their 523i in all but size and thirstiness, it’d be back to the Corolla for you!

South Africa, give the VW Passat a chance.

I first drove the new Volkswagen Passat in 2016, the model I drove was the 1.4 TSI and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with that vehicle. Although I do remember saying that when the 2.0 TDI comes, it will probably take the Passat up another notch. I was correct.

For me, the Passat has two purposes, it’s a family car but also a highway machine. It’s built for laying down kilometres and not missing a beat. A person will look at purchasing a Passat for one of these reasons, or both.

For the family orientated buyer, the Passat is not a bad choice at all. It offers lot’s of space, modern technology, good safety and even a built in child seats in the rear. The downside is that the Passat starts at R468,200 for the petrol variant and R493,000 for the diesel model. These prices maybe out of reach for the normal South African family.

For the sales rep or businessman who uses the roads often and driving as a pivotal part of his work, the Passat is a great fit. In my home country, the Passats are extremely popular cars, mainly driven by people working for large corporations, driving my kilometres up and down the country on a daily basis.

The diesel model I drove recently, fits well into this category. With the R-line package, the Passat is striking, it has a sharp design and just oozes a professional feel.  The interior of the Passat follows suit with a clean design and good technology, such as the App Connect system and Park Assist.

How does it Drive?                

I always forget how a Passat feels until I get back the wheel of one. It feels different from other vehicles in it’s segment. It’s softer and lighter on its feet. For example, even applying the brakes is a smooth process, the same goes for its acceleration, it’s very linear. It feels refined and cautious on the road, it wasn’t designed to be driven very fast, it was designed to be driven for long periods of time. That being said, the car is very driver comfort focused and the overall feeling is one that relaxes you.

The best place then to test the VW Passat is on the open road, and that’s what I did. We had meetings for a few days in Johannesburg, so instead of flying I drove the Passat. Having experienced all the technology offered in these cars, I noticed that there were two optional extras the Passat I drove lacked. This was the Active Driver Display which gives you a digital dashboard and secondly, Adaptive Cruise Control.

The digital dashboard provides a more visual element and makes it easier to see and control certain vehicle data or elements. This means less time fiddling with the steering wheel controls, something that is important during a long drive.

The second option, Adaptive cruise control is a feature that I used on the new Tiguan and loved it. Driving to Jozi from Durban isn’t a bad drive, but over the many times I’ve done it, I find it hard to use the standard cruise control, something this Passat had.  There are lots of trucks, hills, fast cars, slow cars, speed cameras, etc. All these factors mean that cars are forever overtaking,  slowing down, speeding up and pulling out. This makes the drive frustrating because you can be on the brakes quite a bit, which deactivates the cruise control. When all is clear, you need to reactivate it again and if you hit the wrong button, it will set it to the speed that you are currently travelling, not the speed you want to be travelling. So most of the time it’s just easier to not use it at all. This is not just the standard Passat system that has this problem, these things would happen with any standard cruise control system. This is why I much prefer to have the Adaptive Cruise Control as it assists when all these factors come into play. It too is not a perfect system just yet, but it works damn well.

In terms of fuel economy, this car sips, something most people will buy the diesel version for. VW claim a combined cycle of 5 litres/100km. After arriving in JHB and driving around the city for a few days, when I returned to Durban, I got had average of 5.4 litres/100km. Pretty good if you ask me.  The 2.0 TDI performed well and it boasts 130kW/350Nm, which is more than enough for what this car was purposed is.

 

 

Just give the Passat a chance.

For such a great car, it doesn’t sell as well as it could, and you don’t see too many on the roads locally. In South Africa, we love our brands, especially when it comes to cars. When the Passat’s rivals are vehicles like the BMW 3 series, Mercedes C-Class and Even the Audi A4, you know it’s in for a hard time. The thing is, the VW Passat does quite a lot of things better than the cars mentioned above, for a cheaper price at that.

More motorists should give the Passat a chance, forget about how your friends will look at you, or what your side-chick will think. It’s a great option and will benefit your wallet too. Honestly I think it even looks better than some of it’s rivals. It’s not up to me though, it’s your money. The old car was certainly more grandfather-like in appeal, but with this new one, grandad is dead and his much cooler son has taken over.

Volkswagan Tiguan Extended Review.

Much hype has been made about the new Volkswagen Tiguan. This excitement is warranted though, because the car looks and drives amazingly. So far the car has won the Family Car award from Cars.co.za’ Consumer Awards.  It is also a finalist for the Wesbank SAGMJ South African Car of The Year 2017, so things seem to be going pretty well for the new model.  We’ve spent some time driving the models offered in South Africa during the launch, so we could confirm that the new Tiguan is indeed a revolution compared to the old car. There was nothing wrong with the model preceding it, but there was neither anything outstanding about it as well. A two day launch allowed us the opportunity to get a feel of the car, in order to report if it was good or bad.  A month long test however  helped us to better understand the true consumer experience of the new Tiguan. This is what Volkswagen gave us the opportunity to do during the month of December. As a result, we can highlight the following about the car:

Family friendly:

It may not be enormous, but it sure is comfortable. The new Tiguan has been designed for those looking for space and comfort. Most compact SUV’s are comfortable when occupied by four people, but the new Tiguan seats five in such a way that there will be few complaints in the rear. For those extra long journeys, the foldable trays behind the front seats will come in handy, provided eating is allowed in the car. The leather seats are optional and come highly recommended as they are easier to clean and give the car a much more premium interior look.

Stares come standard:

Because Volkswagen is a favoured brand in South Africa, the new Tiguan is a car that attracts a great deal of attention. Much to our surprise, people from varying backgrounds and ages had questions to ask and looks to give. This is due to the completely redesigned exterior of the car. The added R-Line Package makes matters worse as the car will not go unnoticed. Often compact SUV’s look like knock-offs of their larger siblings, but in the case of the new Tiguan, the radical design changes that recipe.

Automatic is the way to go:

Most people looking to buy a new Tiguan have added space as a priority on their shopping list. This means that you may have a little one or three. This may also mean that traffic is a reality for you. If this is the case, we recommend you spend the extra bucks on the DSG derivative of the car. The problem with the manual is that it firstly requires more effort to operate and secondly, it tends to bog off the line which may cause unnecessary stalling. In all honesty, this somewhat annoying “niggly” is the only fault we can find on the car. Besides that, nothing negative jumped out during our four week test. As small as the engine is, the 1.4 litre TSI has enough power for both city and long distance driving, which is surprising considering the size of the car.

An excuse to road-trip:

An extended test of the Tiguan would not be complete if we didn’t take the car on a road-trip. Like most “vaalies” we did the 1500km+ trip to Cape Town from Johannesburg. This trip allowed us to use features like Adaptive Cruise Control as well as the Head-Up display, both optional in the Tiguan. The biggest highlight of this car on a long trip is the comfort levels. Despite the larger rims from the R-Line package, the long trip was not back breaking at all. The inclusion of the DYNAUDIO  Excite sound system was also able to drown out snores from the passengers to and from Cape Town. It took a total of two tanks of fuel to cover the journey one way, which was very reasonable considering the size of the engine. The boot space was also more than accommodating. Having friends that don’t know what the meaning of “packing light” is, I was worried that my rear view mirror would be blocked by silly items during the drive. This wasn’t the case though as the 615-litre trunk swallowed up all the bags with ease.

Overall:

Again, we cannot find anything to deter someone looking for a compact SUV from buying a new Tiguan. Instead, there is much to encourage a buyer to consider this car. What was once a more feminine car has been redeveloped into something even the most manliest men could drive with pride. The car maintains its premium feel inside and out, making it comparable to brands much more expensive to it. At a starting price of around R380 000 it’s also not financially out of reach for many. Therefore it comes as no surprise then that this car has won the hearts of many of those who have driven it. It’s a very good package, probably one of the best cars Volkswagen has produced in this segment. It drives like a slightly larger Golf but will fit more and do more. What more do you want out of a compact SUV? If it’s more power, but the 2.0-litre TSI. If it’s more efficiency you’re after, the 2.0TDI may do the trick, but overall the entire range has something that will keep you happy.

 

 

 

Five good and bad features on the new VW Tiguan.

The VW Tiguan came to the market with a bang. It’s sharp design, edgy looks and mini spaceship/ transformer aura caught the market’s attention.

We have a full in-depth review in our latest edition of TheMotorist Digital Magazine by Francisco, so I’m just here to tell you five things I enjoyed and found frustrating about VW’s new Tiguan.

 

The Bad Points

  • The 1.4 TSI  comfort line is a great engine, but I just feel for the Tiguan there is not enough power. 92 KWs is not much for a small SUV. The Highline engine will produce 110kw, which will definitely improve the overall drive
  • A Manual gearbox in this car isn’t for me; the clutch has very high bite point, and at first, the car can be quite awkward to drive. I also found myself dropping down a gear for more power on many occasions.
  • The side door storage has thin slots that drop right into the door, and it’s incredibly easy to lose phones and wallets in that little compartment, and tough to remove them if you have fat hands like me, you can’t get to them while driving either.
  • I found that there is a delay in the automatic boot lid when activated via the remote. When using this for the first few times,  I ended up pressing the button on the remote twice, which then causes the boot to go up and down like Nicki Minaj in any one of her music videos- I’m picky here,  but I’m struggling to find bad points
  • The Adaptive Cruise Control is a great function, but I discovered that the vehicle does take some time accelerating after a vehicle in front has moved over, it’s only 5 seconds or so, but this feels like a lifetime when half of Durban is up
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The Good Points

  • The new Tiguan looks fantastic, and I found many people checking this car out. The previous Tiguan did not look great, and it looks like the apple fell very far away from the tree this time. There is even talk that mummy tree had an affair with Mr Oak tree across the garden because the New Tiguan is styled entirely different.
  •  The Adjustable Cruise Control I mentioned earlier allows you set distance and applies the brakes when cars pull out in front of you or traffic arises ahead. The Tiguan responded quickly when another vehicle came up head and made highway driving much easier. Usually, I don’t normally use Cruise Control because of the amount of times I have to brake and deactivate it.
  • The Active Info driving display is one of my favourite features VW provide. The dashboard is fully digital and can be adjusted to the driver’s preference in regards to what driving data is shown on the display. For example, a driver may want to view efficiency, speed and gear change indicator, tyre pressures, music, navigation and so on.
  • Price – The Tiguan I tested had the R-Line exterior package and a bunch of optional extras including premium sound, Metallic paint, Automatic boot lid, app connect, adaptive cruise control, leather seats, composition media, Panoramic sunroof, app connect and the Active Info Display, and LED headlight. You could say the car was pretty kitted out, and the price – R419000. Personally, I feel you get a lot of car for that price.
  • I put the 1.4 TSI engine in the bad list, but its small size and performance also have benefits. For example, if you are a soccer mum (or dad). The 1.4 is a great engine for running around in, while also providing decent fuel economy. I would enjoy it more if mounted to a DSG box.

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So that is just some of the things I liked and didn’t like about the new VW Tiguan, overall it’s a fantastic car, which will only be made better with 2.0 petrol and Diesel variants. For in-depth driving and lifestyle reviews, check out our digital magazine here. 

 

VW Polo Beats – Great sound for your travels

The VW Polo is probably one of the most popular cars on South Africa roads, especially with the young generation.  It’s a small hatch, its German – which makes it extremely reliable and its reasonably priced.

A problem that I find with these little hatchbacks is that the audio quality is never great. The majority of people that drive these cars are young adults, many young adults love music, especially when cruising around and on road trips. Whether it’s hip-hop, Jazz, Pop, Dubstep, Classical ( everyone has room for a little bit of classical), there is nothing worse when you pump up the volume and with that increase comes distortion, crackle, and hiss. You wanted to listen to your favourite tracks on your way to work. Instead, it sounds more like firework show on New Year’s Eve, not great.

VW have fixed this issue by teaming up with Beats Audio. You know, those bright pink, red, yellow, orange, black, and white colored earphones you see the hip kids and “cool Dad’s” wearing. Beats Audio knows their stuff when it comes to sound and in conjunction with VW, has introduced the Polo Beats – a VW Polo with seven speaker – 300 Watt sound system.

Here is the not so good part, The Polo Beats differs from other Polo’s with different 16” wheels, red door mirrors, dark red tail lights, beats side film and a beats badge on the b-pillar.  After looking at the images, it doesn’t look as bad as first thought. The interior also has changed with  Beats sports seats and a few other bits such as a leather steering wheel and coloured seatbelts. In fairness, it looks pretty good.  Personally, this should have also been available as an option extra rather than a sperate model; I’m sure the whole Beats branding might put a few people off.

It will, however, be an optional extra in the new VW UP released later this year. We may see it as an optional extra in future Polo models. Not everyone wants red wing mirrors.

 

The Polo Beats comes in at R260,700

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Volkswagen South Africa’s new launched Passat, is it a game-changer?

Not just a great personality: Volkswagen South Africa’s new Passat.

Most people have experienced what it’s like to be set up with a potential boyfriend or girlfriend. It’s awkward and uncomfortable. When this happens, there is usually a build up to the first “date” and this build up often involves a great deal of selling. Your friend or friends that are facilitating all this tell you about all the good things and they omit the bad. At this point, it’s a known fact that if the phrase “he/she has a great personality” is the biggest selling point, chances are the person you’re being set up with is not good looking. We’re not supposed to be shallow in life and focus purely on beauty, but it’s always easier to get to know somebody who is easy on the eyes. The person does not need to look like a model, but it’s nice to see that he/she tries to do the best with what they’ve got.

This has been part of the problem for Volkswagen South Africa when it comes to the Passat over the years. The car has always been the one in its segment with “the great personality” and as a result in South Africa, it’s always battled to get a date to the matric ball. As mentioned before we shouldn’t be shallow when looking for relationships but when it comes to cars, we have every right to be. A car needs to have a want factor, something that makes you say “that’s hot” and the Passat has lacked that over the years. Not to say it’s been an ugly car, but it can be likened to the introverted girl or guy who doesn’t put much effort in presenting themselves to others in an appealing way. This has been the opposite with its competitors, the “big three” who have always made an effort to be dolled up and present themselves as the “cool kids”, making them the popular ones in school or in this case, the roads.

The new Passat has been launched by Volkswagen South Africa recently and it has undergone an extreme makeover. The nerdy glasses have been replaced with contact lenses, the old polo neck and sweatpants have been done away with and replaced with a new wardrobe. The results? A car that makes you say “that’s hot”. This is especially the case when the new Passat is kitted with the R-Line Package, this package acts as the little black dress that makes everyone look. The “think new” slogan that’s marketed with the new Passat shows that Volkswagen has thought deeply about the importance of creating a “want one” factor for the car, something the likes of Mercedes, BMW and Audi have accomplished over the years with their cars.

So we’ve established that the car looks good, but besides that, what’s new in the B8 Passat? Everything. The car is built on the MQB platform, which makes it lighter through the use of more lightweight materials such as metals found in the engine and suspension. The total weight difference between the new and old model is 85 kg’s. Despite the car’s new physique, it’s longer on the inside yet shorter on the outside as well as lower than the car it replaces. As a result the car offers great interior space for its five occupants. The extra space comes with a great view as the cabin is a great place to sit in physically and aesthetically, with modern lines and good quality materials creating a premium feel.

To add to the interior experience, the new Passat comes with a host of new features which modernise the car even further. One of the most notable being the optional Active Info Display which is a fully digital instrument cluster that offers the driver various modes to view such as  navigation, entertainment and economy. The cluster adapts to whatever mode it’s set in and is automated with the centre 6.5 inch colour infotainment system which comes standard with Bluetooth. The option of Head Up Display is also available in the Passat, which enhances the technological prowess of the car too.

Since the new Volkswagen Passat has undergone such drastic changes, does it mean that the car has lost its great personality? Not at all. The new Passat retains a comfortable ride quality but adds some nifty driving aids such as Automatic Multi Collision Braking System (which applies the brakes on the car after an accident has occurred to prevent a secondary collision), Adaptive Cruise Control and Driver Alert System. Driver Profile Selection is standard on all Passat’s, allowing you to choose between economy, sport, normal and individual mode to suit your driving style.

The engines in the Passat are very refined and quiet, with a 1.4 TSI (110 kW), 1.8 TSI (132 kW) and the current flagship 2.0 TSI (162 kW) being the choices to choose from at the moment. A 2.0 TDI option will be available mid 2016. The current offering is well matched to the car, with all the engines providing enough power to get the car moving smoothly and comfortably. All models except the 1.4 TSI are fitted with the DSG gearbox as standard, with the 2.0 TSI being given the faster 6- Speed DSG found in the Golf GTI. In the case of the 2.0 TSI, the Golf GTI DNA has been imprinted in the car, giving it a sporty edge that the other engines cannot match.

The 2.0 TSI also comes as standard with lovely the R-Line package, but the R-Line kit is available from the 1.4 TSI up-words. The new Passat’s handling characteristics are impressive, combining suppleness with sportiness very well. At speed the vehicle is quiet, giving you the illusion that you’re doing much slower speeds than you really are. Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) which adjusts vehicle damping is standard in the top of the range 2.0 TSI which also comes standard with the XDS limited slip differential to improve handling dynamics. The 2.0 TSI is a sure rival for the likes of the BMW 330i, the Mercedes C300 and the recently launched Lexus IS 200t. Whereas the other models are sure to create some competition for the big three’s lower end models.

Overall the new Passat is a wonderful vehicle in its segment. It has already claimed the title of Eurpean Car of The Year 2015 which speaks for the car immensely. This comes as no surprise as the car offers a great deal of features and quality for the segment it operates in. The new Passat also happens to be priced competitively compared to its rivals. Being that as it is, the deciding factor is how the market receives this new Passat in South Africa. Has it managed to get out of the “old man” stigma it has carried for a long time now? We certainly think so. Now it’s up to Volkswagen South Africa to market the car as something hot and not the fact that it only has a great personality. If they can succeed in changing people’s perception of the Passat, maybe people can finally see that blind dates aren’t always a bad thing.

 

Prices:

1.4 TSI Comfortline 110kW Manual                                                                                R378 800

1.4 TSI Comfortline 110kW DSG                                                                                     R398 800

1.8 TSI Highline 132kW DSG                                                                                           R444 200

2.0 TSI R-Line 162kW DSG                                                                                              R476 800

Volkswagen Polo Sedan: Jetta, is that you?

The new Volkswagen Polo sedan has been revised.

The breakdown:

The Volkswagen Polo sedan has been around for a while now, with its popular baby brother stealing all the lime light, it has been the “ugly duckling” of the range. Well the folks at VW have splashed some water on the face of the car and it looks…like a Jetta. This not a bad thing considering that the Jetta is not a bad looking car, neither is it impractical. The same goes for the Volkswagen Polo sedan, it offers great space for someone who wants a Polo but has many kids, or dogs, or anything that requires a large boot.

The good news is with this update, the Polo sedan now comes with a 3 year/ 45 000kms service plan mahala (free). Also if a diesel VW is your thing (touchy subject), the 1.6 litre TDI is no longer, it is replaced by a 1.5 TDI producing the same power of 77 kW.

The pricing of the range is as follows:

1.4 63kW Trendline R189 900

1.4 63kW Comfortline R207 900

1.6 77kW Trendline R204 900

1.6 77kW Comfortline R219 900

1.6 77kW Comfortline Tiptronic R234 900

1.5 77kW TDI Comfortline R247 200

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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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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South Africa says hello to Brabus

Modded Monday: Brabus is officially available in South Africa

Walking into Daytona is like walking into the equivalent of a candy store for petrolheads. One the one side, you have the choice of various Mini’s and BMW’s, raging from M models to the eco-friendly I-stable. One the other side you have Aston Martin and Rolls Royce, the two most suave car brands out there. Then lastly, in the middle, there is the McLaren and Daytona showroom, which is always stocked full with different types of exotics. At Daytona, there is a division called Daytona Customs, this part of the company caters specifically for those who want a little bit more in terms of exclusivity. If more is what a client wants, then more is what they will get at Daytona. As of last week Daytona was happy to announce that Mercedes Benz Clients wanting more, had to look no further since Daytona is the now sole official importer and distributor of Brabus in South Africa.

What does that mean for Mercedes Benz clients?   

This means that a Mercedes Benz client can customize their car with Brabus parts, which is world renown for its quality and craftsmanship. The modifications include exterior parts such as body kits, wheels and suspension kits, interior parts and last but not least, exhaust system. All of the highest quality. The aim of these modifications is to enhance the assets of Mercedes Benz’s and still maintain the car’s classy nature.

What this does for the South African Modifications industry.

In South Africa modifying vehicles is a big business, one that is popular among different ages, races and genders too. The issue about modifying cars is that there is a negative association with this because often times, certain modifications are done without the right knowledge. As a result there have been numerous issues that have happened to modified cars and vehicle manufacturers have generally been against modifying due to the risks associated with it. On the other hand, if modifications are administered properly to cars by trained professionals that can guarantee that the car will function properly in day to day scenarios, the risks are reduced of things going wrong.

Slowly but surely, viable solutions are being put in place for certified modifying to happen in South Africa, which is great for local clients looking to customize their cars without risk. For BMW there is Schnitzer, for Volkswagen there is Oettinger and now for Mercedes Benz there is Brabus. This shows that if the right steps are followed, tuning brands and manufacturers can meet half way, creating great solutions for clients seeking something different. Daytona is one of the companies at the forefront of making collaborations like this happen and we hear that there will be more options like this available in the near future. We welcome this progression in the modifications industry and we are excited for what is in store in the near future from Daytona and other companies run by enthusiasts. Happy Modded Monday Motorists.

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