Tag: Bmw

What 2022 holds for the South African car market

While 2021 kicked off without much affair, albeit with mild hesitation and looming uncertainty for event planning due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it eventually gathered momentum into what many industries would deem as normal. Despite a contagious wave of Omicron ravaging the world in the last quarter, this year has commenced in a confident and assured manner which has us holding thumbs that normality will soon return. Secondary effects from the pandemic are still hampering supply chains with the automotive industry struggling to meet the demand of the semiconductor microchips needed in the increasingly technologically-oriented vehicles but despite this, new vehicles are scheduled to be introduced to our shores with launch events being planned on our local roads. Here is what Mzansi has to look forward to in 2022!

Local favorite Volkswagen will kick the year off by introducing the new Caddy and the facelifted, and locally produced, Polo and Polo GTI models which feature mild updates to a familiar silhouette and a refreshed interior which will share some similarities to the Golf. 

Speaking of the popular hatch which may have already been on sale in our market for a few months now, the all wheel drive giantslayer sibling Golf 8 R will touch down in Q2 alongside the novel Tiguan R and 7-seater Tiguan Allspace facelift.

Other facelifts expected before the midpoint of the year include the T-Roc while the all new Spanish built Taigo will join the lineup and slot between the T-Cross and Tiguan in Volkswagen’s SUV range. The remainder of the year is scheduled to be quiet with the new Polo Sedan expected in Q3 but the all-new Amarok is in the pipeline, we can expect its global launch sometime before the end of the year too. 

Another brand that has grown in popularity and portfolio over the past is that of Renault who have a bustling year ahead. The new Clio 5, which subtly evolves the exterior design language of the Clio 4, is expected as soon as Q1. Since Alpine have absorbed all RS models over the past year, we are awaiting news with bated breath if South Africa can expect a Clio or Megane RS derivative. 

While the Clio and it’s more family-orientated Captur sibling have both experienced delays of over a year due to the Covid-19 related issues. However, Q2 will see the brand new Captur SUV enter our shores.

While we are awaiting confirmed dates for the second half of the year, Renault has committed to launching the refreshed Kwid, Triber and Trafic MY22 models into the range, while anyone eager to see the Duster based Oroch single cab will be dismayed to know we will only be expecting it in 2023. 

A brand that has taken South Africa by storm is Chery after their rebirth into our market late last year. The affordable and well-specced Tiggo 4 Pro arrived in our market and was lauded for improved build quality and comfort. This resounding success has seen the Chinese brand expedite the launch of the highly awarded and much larger flagship Tiggo 8 Pro range which we can expect within Q1. 

DRIVEN Chery Tiggo 4 Pro Turbo CVT

The new Tiggo 8 Pro range will be available in two options for the consumer and both will be fitted with an award-winning 1.6 TGDI petrol-engine delivering a peak of 136kW and 290Nm. No news on whether this engine will also include the impressive 1-million-kilometer mechanical warranty just yet.

The much larger flagship SUV will continue Chery’s trend of interior luxury and technology which we sampled on the Tiggo 4 Pro. This includes an Around View Monitor, an 8-speaker SONY sound system, two high definition TFT displays (with a third in the flagship model) and dual-zone climate control with pharmaceutical grade N95 air filtration. It will also come standard as a 7 seater which should make it appealing to growing families.

2021 was a busy year for the Bavarian-based super-manufacturer but product planning for 2022 seems to be more tranquil. BMW SA will welcome the anticipated 2 Series Coupe range in Q1 which includes the 220i, 220d and M240i xDrive. While styling may divide opinion in this range once again, the M2’s ability will surely silence any critics when it lands sometime in 2023.

On the electric side of things, BMW’s 4 Series based i4 and mainstream crossover iX3 are expected to land in the second half of the year and cement themselves as viable electric models for our market. 

On the other end of the spectrum for premium German brands is Mercedes-Benz who is also hoping to be at the forefront of electrification in our local market and has their whole EQ range ready to be released. While exact dates are yet to be stated, we can expect the EQA, EQB, EQE, EQS and EQC. 

For those that still enjoy the sensation of fossil fuels burning beneath the accelerator pedal, the facelifted A-Class, B-Class, GLC SUV and CUV, S-Class and C-Class will be welcomed locally while two Maybach orientated models will arrive in the form of the S-Class and GLS. 

In terms of South Africa’s preferred form of transportation, two new bakkies will be put on sale in our market this year. Isuzu will usher in their sharper looking flagship D-Max in Q2, a model which shares a platform with the newly released Mazda BT-50 and will attempt to gain market share from the popular Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger. 

That being said, the existing and long-serving Ford Ranger will be retired for its modernized successor which is expected to be on showroom floors by Q4. The highly anticipated Ranger which shares a platform with Volkswagen’s Amarok will continue to be built in Ford’s Silverton facility and is expected to continue at the forefront of local bakkie sales. 

In terms of what the Japanese and Koreans have to offer, we can expect a substantial offering in 2022 from Hyundai. The Tucson and the futuristic looking Staria Nautica are expected in Q1 while the Staria Panel Van will arrive in Q2. The refreshed Creta is yet to be confirmed but can be realistically expected to hit sales floors in the second half of the year. 

The performance orientated branch of Hyundai will also welcome the Kona N and the lauded i30 N DCT which are expected before Q2. 

Toyota will be dabbling in performance models too when the brand new GR-86 hits our market in Q3. The souped up versions of the Corolla Cross are expected in Q1, and the Hilux will also enter our markets in Q2, both under the new GR-S guise. Q1 will also see Toyota expand their RAV4 and Corolla Quest model lineup.

Subaru on the other hand have only signalled two new models for their portfolio in 2022, the new WRX, which is steeped in rally lineage is expected in Q2, while the Forester SUV has been revised and has been on sale for the past few days already.

On the performance side of things, amorous Italian brand Alfa Romeo has received a consignment of limited edition Giulia GTA and Giulia GTAm models which feature an uprated V6 engine, Sauber engineered aero bits, roll cages, racing suits and a hefty price tag costing around R4 Million depending on the model. With only 8 of 500 coming to our shores and a handful already sold, the saloon based racecar is fast set to be an appreciating future classic.

Porsche will also be launching their track-oriented model in the form of the 911 GT3. While no dates have been confirmed, what we do know is it comes equipped with the traditional Porsche 4.0 flat-six motor which is capable of redlining at 9000rpm. 

While the GT3 model makes up few sales numbers but excites owners and pedestrians alike, Porsche will also be introducing the updated models that yield the Stuttgart automakers bread and butter; the Cayenne Turbo GT and Panamera Platinum Edition will arrive in Q2. 

Rounding out the list with what many consider the brand that epitomises passion and performance, Q2 will welcome the first ever road going V6 that adorns the Prancing Horse. While it may be the first of its kind for the famed Italian automaker, the Ferrari engine is claimed to produce the specific highest output of any production car engine. Rated at 488kW solely from its 2.9 litre displacement. 

The iconic Ferrari V12 isn’t dead however as we can expect to hear the sonorous 812 Competizione in Q3.

Defining ludicrous in the BMW M4 Competition

The polarizing BMW G80 M3 and G82 M4 have been in the market for quite some time now. Originally stirring up the automotive world at their initial unveiling with what BMW considers a bold choice in design, their imposing aesthetics have become subordinate to an overwhelmingly positive reception for their ability on the road. We spent a few days with the impressively quick M4 Competition model so we could understand just how ludicrous the new range really is. 

Since the exterior of the car seems to have been covered in more depth this year than the entire Covid pandemic was reported on last year, I thought it would be a good idea to first dabble on the overall driving experience. I spent two fleeting days with the M4 before being whisked away to Cape Town.

The entire flight to the Mother City consisted of reliving experiences behind the wheel, either bringing the S58 motor alive or simply trundling along in an attempt to keep the fuel consumption at a reasonable number. In both scenarios, onlookers simply can’t get enough and encouragingly spur the pig-nosed beast along. It remains a staple of Mzansi car culture despite its looks.

The most ludicrous portion of the driving experience is how easily it can pick up speed, which means any innocent jaunts on the highway or open road can very quickly turn into a run-in with law enforcement.

It may not be the segments most confident off the line with a 3.9 second sprint time but the strong 3.0-litre, twin turbocharged straight six very easily and effortlessly pushes the speedometer over and beyond the designated speed limit on any stretch of road you happen to traverse.

Power and torque is rated similarly amongst its chief rivals, an identical 375kW to the Mercedes Benz C63s while the Bavarian is equipped with 650Nm of torque, 50 more than the RS5 but also 50 less than the V8 powered Mercedes. Despite all of the power from the traditionally sonorous motor, I can only help but feel that it should sound better for the performance it produces. 

Where the new M4 Competition feels vastly superior is with its free-revving motor which has lightweight motorsport inspired components installed. The turbochargers provide peak torque from as low as 2650rpm while maximum power arrives at 6250rpm, ultimately rendering the experience identical to that of a naturally aspirated motor. This encourages the use of the full rev range and makes driving predictable and surprisingly easy to do considering the power on tap underneath the right foot. 

Helping the S58 motor shift into warp speed and into the clutches of the periled speeding cameras is done with the help of an automatic 8-speed ZF gearbox. This choice is the only disappointment in this unrivalled driving experience so far.

Not only is it a step backwards from the violent, but engaging dual-clutch transmissions (DCT) from the generation before but also a far more numb and docile experience of what drivers expect. BMW have incorporated a drive logic selector button on the shifting knob which adjusts the level of aggression accordingly but even the harshest setting provides no match for the bygone DCTs.

The one advantage this provides however, is the ability to use this car comfortably on a daily basis. In fact, the time spent shifting in slow moving traffic or mindlessly accelerating and decelerating from robot to robot on urban commutes is where the smooth transmission selection shines brightest.

The same can be said for the suspension, the three available driving modes dial it into the desired setting but in its most plush, it is unfazed by mild road imperfections. 

The good character balance continues when more exciting settings are selected. More lively steering, throttle input and suspension presents a car that is impressively capable of handling the twisties as much as it is for straight stretches of tarred surface. The firm suspension mitigates body roll around corners while the lightweight and lively rear-end characteristically tend to swing around, requiring a touch of counter steer to keep things in check. Its many capable personalities make it a highly usable performance car that is inherently fun to drive, even on a day-to-day basis.

As enjoyable as its on road experience is, this wouldn’t be an article about the new M3 and M4 if there wasn’t an insert about the exterior aesthetics. While the worst of the memes and jokes are behind us, the ludicrous statement that BMW intended to make was achieved. It doesn’t look like anything else on the road and has potentially forged a future design direction that the Bavarian brand is yet to perfect. 

That being said, the black on Sapphire Black Metallic finish seemed to conceal many of the niggles with the design choices. The imposing, air inhaling front kidney grilles are more concealed while the over-emphasised masculine linework stretching from the grille onto the bonnet is slightly more subtle. BMW purists who embrace tradition would also despair to know that the iconic Hoffmeister kink which is prevalent on the side glass on the C pillar of all that have come before this M4 has been inverted and looks generic rather than traditional.

In the time since its launch, many have become unperturbed with the imposing grilles. While this will always remain a subjective topic, a car that costs as much as R2 million should have you falling in love from the very first time and every subsequent occasion thereafter. Speaking of the price tag and remaining with the ludicrous theme, an entry level M4 Competition will come in at R1 957 388. It’s hard to believe that the once affordable performance vehicle, which stemmed from the humble roots of the original M3 E30 is now a smidge under R2 million without options. 

Keep in mind that add ons can push the number as high as R2.5 million, which is more or less where our press unit was priced at. With the M Carbon Exterior Package valued at R100 800 and the M carbon bucket seats coming in at R82 500, it is easy to understand why. Just like the styling on the exterior, the interior has been turned up to 11 and is a continuation of the ludicrous design theme.

Wild colour combinations, sunk-in seats and carbon fiber dominate the cabin but it simply doesn’t feel as plush and luxurious as something that is R2.5 million should. This is a number that quickly encroaches on the likes of a well specced BMW M5 Competition which for that price feels like better value for money.

That being said though, the experience in the cabin is completely immersive, especially in those carbon bucket seats which are tightly slung to the floor. The firm seat bolsters keep the front occupants secure albeit with limited comfort while anyone with the misfortune of sitting in the second row of seats will develop scoliosis during any journey from bending their neck to fit into the low slung C pillar.

There are other questionable choices with the M4 Competition that make me feel like it is neither here nor there. Obsessive amounts of lightweight carbon fiber have been used throughout the construction of the car while counter intuitive add-ons defeat its intended function.

For example; the racing inspired carbon bucket seats which allude to pure, lightweight racing interiors make use of heavy electric motors for adjustment. The same can be said with the electric tailgate while carbon fiber features in the form of a spoiler and rear diffuser are perched above and below it. 

The nonsensical thinking does not end at the comfort orientated features while we are on the topic of the rear diffuser. The intricately shaped, bumper mounted carbon fiber rear diffuser doesn’t really serve a functional purpose since a peak beneath the rear end will expose all the mechanical components and a bare underside which is incapable of producing aerodynamic advantage.

As good as this car may be, you can only begin to feel that it could be much better if it wasn’t trying to appease buyers who wanted comfort as well as buyers who wanted an experience.

While this is a car that can be used daily, real world fuel economy may inhibit this. Particularly with the price of petrol surpassing the R20 mark. I mentioned earlier in the article that sedate driving can keep the efficiency of the motor at a reasonable number but that is all relative. A claimed combined driving cycle can yield 8.8l/100km but any momentary spurts of excitement will position the optimistic claimed number out of reach. Even though automotive journalists commute more enthusiastically than most, our experience yielded double the claimed economy. Besides, if you wanted to drive sedately you would have made a sensible decision and bought a compact SUV.

This is still in essence as much a performance car as all of its predecessors were but it has priced itself further out of the range of a younger person who would purchase it purely for the experience. With the development of the M4 Competition, BMW has gone all out and chased numbers which are only truly attainable on track from its competition. With the aesthetics aside, there really isn’t much wrong with the car until you start going through the pricing. I think better value for money can be had elsewhere with enough leftover to buy a fun-to-drive hot hatch. Speaking exclusively coupes, I would rather spend my money on an Audi RS5 which may not have the all out performance of the M4, but can still provide as much fun for the majority of the driving you will do in it. The leftover cash as a bonus can complete the two car garage with the engaging BMW 128ti as a daily driver.

Can the BMW 128ti usurp the Golf GTI from its throne?

We compare the facts and figures! 

We recently drove the new 128ti on its debut in Mzanzi towards the end of February, read about its road test here: https://themotorist.co.za/is-the-new-bmw-128ti-the-right-1/. Since BMW recently launched their new 1 series (F40 generation) hatchback in 2019 there has been speculation of a variant that would rival the likes of the local hot-hatch king: the Golf 8 GTI (which was locally delayed to the third quarter of 2021 because of a global shortage of semiconductor chips). The new Front Wheel Drive 128ti is what they brought to the party, but how does it stack up against the formidable GTI? 

The highly anticipated M135i was seemingly a bit of a let down to the automotive press (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Rkco-o600g), leaving much to be desired from its predecessor. However the 2-litre 4 pot 128ti could be the right variation for Bavarian die hards wanting a fun, affordable hatchback. While it rejects the norms of BMW’s typical hatch lineage, none of its forerunners have ever embraced the true recipe for a funky hot hatch, until now. That being said, any brand that spends time and budget developing an FWD hot hatch will stack it up directly against the GTI in the hopes of being a worthy adversary, so how does the BMW do:

BMW 128ti

2.0T 4cyl turbo, 195kW and 400Nm

0-100 6.3 seconds (claimed), 250km/h (limited)

5.7l/100km, 158g/km

1445kg

FWD, 8 speed automatic

R687 418

VW Golf 8 GTI DSG

2.0T 4cyl turbo, 180kW and 370Nm

0-100 6.4 seconds (claimed), 250km/h (limited)

6.2l/100km, 168g/km

1463kg

FWD, 7 speed dual clutch automatic

Pricing is TBC

While the numbers marginally favour the Bavarian hot hatch (on paper at least), the GTI will continue to enjoy its cult status in our local market. While we are yet to test the new Golf 8 which is expected to arrive very soon, our opinion is that the BMW may just be a more engaging and complete package to drive for enthusiasts. It is lighter, slightly more powerful and makes use of an engaging mechanical diff. Both are well specced with standard equipment already included at their base price points and both have top speeds limited at 250km/h. VW’s desirable cult following of this segment are where BMW would have fallen short, but shrewdly instilled a form of heritage by reinvigorating the Turismo Internazionale (TI) nameplate that was so prominent with the brands success in the late 1960’s.

BMW has taken a stride into a new direction with the 128ti, and by doing so they have leapfrogged some of the competition in the front-wheel drive hot hatch market. Until we can make direct comparisons between the two, we believe the GTI may have met its German match.

The BMW M3 & M4 Competition

Say what you want about the looks, this is still a proper M car! Shaun Korsten reports from launch in the Western Cape

It’s been the butt of the joke and the subject of enormous social media ridicule ever since BMW unveiled the concept version of the new M4 in late 2019. Some went as far as saying this is the end of the BMW – a bit over the top, I know, but BMW loyalists are apparently a tough crowd to please.

Yes, the styling isn’t BMW’s finest work and their riposte to all of you calling for the designer’s head to be on the chopping block will be ‘you’ll get used to it’. And admittedly, I think I have…it’s purposeful and aggressive – it doesn’t look like anything on the road. I think that was their main objective and they got it spot on. But my opinion on something that I’m sure you all have your own isn’t the point of this review. So, let’s get into the meat of things.

Under the bonnet, there’s still a six-cylinder twin turbo sending power to the rear. The all-wheel drive (xDrive) model should make landfall by the end of the year. Outputs of 375kW and 650Nm are significantly higher than the F80 generation – 44kW and 100Nm to be exact. Our market is of course only getting the Competition version which means it is paired exclusively to eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. Which rules out the possibility of getting your hands on the manual version, but how many of you were actually going to buy the manual?

But let’s talk about the gearbox quickly: the previous F80 M3 used a M-DCT ‘box that was very responsive and rewarding when driving spiritedly but less so in traffic and day-to-day situations where it would be cumbersome and jerky. And while you do lose out on the rather enjoyable snap-like response when changing a gear, the new eight-speed ZF is an all-round improvement. It manages the hustle and bustle with more comfort than before, and the changes on upshifts and downshifts are still dramatically quick! The whole experience has been numbed slightly but I’m sure the majority of owners will appreciate this move.

The route we followed on launch took us through picturesque towns like Tulbagh and Ceres in the Western Cape and trotting along at the indicated speed limit was a pleasant and enjoyable experience. The adaptive M suspension and electronic controlled dampers did a great job of soaking up most imperfections, but the harsher bumps will be quite jarring in the cabin. On both the M3 and M4, standard fitment is 20-inch wheels at the rear and 19-inches upfront.

The interior is what you would expect from a BMW: inch-perfect build quality, top-tier materials with tasteful finishes and a smorgasbord of tech. In my opinion, BMW has been the segment leader for years in interior ergonomics and quality. Although, the crown of tech king must be given to Mercedes-Benz as I am still disappointed at the lack of configurability on the digital drivers display. Nitpicking aside, the cabin truly is a wonderful and luxurious place to be in – but now with a splattering of carbon fibre all over the place.

Our final destination was a private racetrack in the Cape Winelands where we were able to get a short, 3-lap stint around the circuit in both models. If you’re wondering, I didn’t notice any discernible difference between the M3 and M4. The the first I noticed was how composed it felt around the corners – there was just bucket loads of traction and grip. Although the G80 is carrying an additional 150kg in weight over its predecessor, the strengthening to the chassis meant the body always felt composed and it coped with strain and pressure extremely well. You can get an M Race Track Package that sheds 25kg.

The steering is now electronically controlled and unfortunately it is another numbing aspect to the new M3 and M4 . But in saying that, it is lazar sharp and extremely accurate and gives you a sense of confidence in your ability to correctly position and react to the car.

On the straights, you will reach a 100km/h in just 3.9 seconds – although I suspect that it is slightly quicker than that. BMW have also integrated a new braking system with two settings for pedal feel and response.

All in all, the new BMW M3 and M4 Competition are truly fantastic drivers’ cars that push the yardstick even further – they remain the brand to beat in this segment. With Mercedes-AMG opting for a 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain for the next generation C63, I’m sure we can all look past the Halloween mask and appreciate these types of cars before they are all gone.

Is The Petite BMW 218i Gran Coupe Worth Its Salt?

The original BMW 2 Series Coupe made its global debut in 2014 with its trendy styling and desirable coupe proportions. In 2019, BMW changed the recipe and seemed to start from scratch launching the front-wheel-drive (FWD) F44 generation 5 door as its replacement. Alex Shahini spent time with the 218i Gran Coupe specced in the M Sport package to determine if this has been a success for the Bavarian brand.

While the current 2 Series generation is approaching 2 years of production it is by no means a new car but seeing one on the road can give it that impression. Not only is its imposing styling more aligned with the existing brand identity of current BMW models, but their uncommon presence on the road can provide naive passers by with an illusion that it is a brand new release. This was the Bavarian-based manufacturers attempt at creating a more affordable and attainable model to the heavier and larger 3 Series sedan. It was developed with the intention of retaining loyal customers by providing an expedient, downsized BMW alternative to the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CLA and Audi A3 Sedan.

So, the recipe has changed but how has this influenced the driving experience? The first elephant in the room that I need to address is that this is the new era of FWD BMW’s. While the topheavy looking mommy wagon-esque 2 Series Active Tourer was the first of its kind to do away with rear powered wheels in 2014, our 218i Gran Coupe proved to be an engaging car to drive in more enthusiastic scenarios, albeit with a healthy amount of torque steer. A welcomed surprise because most consumers set on purchasing the 218i may be less focused on its driving appeal and more fixated on its amenities and comfort. 

While the downsized turbocharged 3-cylinder motor with a total displacement of 1.5-litres sounds underwhelming, its 103kW and 220Nm means that it is nippy in most environments it finds itself in – especially considering it has a dry weight of only 1345kg. While this is by no means a fast car, only reaching 100km/h from standstill in 8.7 seconds, it does trundling around extremely comfortably with smooth power delivery compliments of a seamless automatic gearbox in comfort mode. The smaller displacement begins to take some strain with additional passengers and luggage but nothing the additional mass can’t handle. 

While most of it is good there are a few operational issues including a jerky stop-start function, lack of low end torque while accelerating and unintuitive gear shifts in sports mode which makes spirited drivers like myself yearn for paddle shifts. Due to its light stature, windy days on highways can also make the car feel unstable with its light steering input and soft suspension.  

The 218i Gran Coupe can be aesthetically considered as an amalgamation of several different BMW models. The wheelbase, track, interior and front end of the car are identical to that of the new F40 generation 1 series on which its platform is based while its proportions are indicative of a shrunk version of an 8 Series Gran Coupe with much smaller wheels. At quick glance, you may even confuse the silhouette of the two. While the looks can be subjectively polarizing, I find that there is a strong disproportionate element towards the rear ¾ panel of the car that simply doesn’t look correct. Almost as though the 1 Series hatchback has had an improvised tailgate stuck onto the rear as a complete afterthought and without refined integration. Regardless of this, this 218i Gran Coupe comes with a highly useful 430-litre boot with a false floor and easily foldable rear seats. 

The cockpit, while indistinguishable from the 1 series, feels largely more cocooned with its faster raking A-pillar, frameless doors and lower roofline. While this has been done to achieve the recognizable silhouette of a Gran Coupe it comes at the price of rear head room, even with shorter passengers. Its overall interior is an appealing and elegant but busy place to be, with many intersecting joints and a multitude of different textures and touch points. After spending time with the BMW 128ti earlier this year, we were highly impressed with the forward strides BMW have taken in their interior aesthetic and the 218i is no different. The interior dials are all sensibly laid out and all have a familiar tactility to them however the central radio console below the air conditioning is completely redundant with the intuitive haptic rotary infotainment controlling device needing to be used. 

It’s interesting to note how it stacks up against competitors, particularly in terms of price. The cheapest Audi A3 Sedan currently on sale is the 30 TFSI which retails for R520 569. But you must remember that the all-new A3 unveiled internationally in 2020 is yet to reach our shores. Over in the corner of Stuttgart, the Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 has a price tag of R661 000. The BMW 218i Gran Couple slots neatly in between the two at R581 900. 

Even with our generously-specced press unit which had a sticker price nearing R650 000, it still undercuts the entry-level Mercedes-Benz. So in that aspect, it is certainly worth its salt and should be a tempting buy for consumers shopping in this segment. But in my opinion, the smart money is a demo model 3 Series for similar outlay and equal spec. Just don’t tell BMW I told you that!

Is The New BMW 128ti The Right 1?

BMW has high hopes for their Golf GTI rivaling 128ti. Alex Shahini was at the launch in Johannesburg

Accessibility for a new, engaging and versatile car to drive can often leave consumers underwhelmed if it weren’t for the hot hatch segment. Churning out aggressively overstated and more rewarding runabout variants to their standard siblings, they have become the staple of young drivers enjoying exciting performance with the benefit of mass produced affordability. 

While the now defunct French 1973 Simca 1100TI can be given the credits of being the first traditional hot hatch, the one we all know and share a fascination towards was the Giugiaro-penned MK1 VW Golf GTI, debuting two years later. While half a century can separate us between those pioneering, fun filled vehicles – the recipe remains unchanged: take a mundane hatchback in the brand lineup, spice up performance, increase power ratings, throw in a few exciting looking exterior bits and make the cockpit feel like a boy racers dream. The new kid on the block, the BMW 128ti does exactly that and it is aiming straight down the barrel with the MK8 GTI squarely in its sights. 

It is worth noting that this is the Bavarian marque’s first real attempt at the hot hatch market. While we are in the midst of the hyper hatchback showdown, which BMW has previously dabbled in, they have never developed a typical hot hatch in the sense described previously. This has not been stated to downplay any shortfalls the 128ti may have but to also contextualize how BMW may have leapfrogged the competition. So, is it any good? 

Using the existing 1 Series bodywork and chassis as a starting point, the styling has transcended the soft looking F40 (not the Ferrari) generation into something that seems more potent and aggressive. While the new variant has lost some of the butch proportions of the F20/21 gen, it has improved in boot capacity (380l) and interior volume compliments of the transversally laid out 3 or 4-cylinder engines available in the range. 

While a colour blind person would struggle to find the differences between the 128ti and 118i M Sport Package, subtleties help to differentiate them. Red is the name of the game and it dominates details of both the exterior and interior. The 128ti decal at the bottom of the rear quarter panel, the front and rear bumper aero ducts are visually connected by a low slung side skirt, while the M-sport brake calipers are finished in the same shade of vermillion. Models specced in Melbourne Red or Misano Blue will lose these above mentioned exterior details by default. The rear end is completed with the same twin-exit diffuser found on the M135i. 


The sport cabin is comfortable and spacious, detailed with the same exterior red stitched onto the dashboard, seats and floor mats while the ‘ti’ moniker is boldly embroidered onto the centre storage armrest. The M sport colours exist in the form of a subtle line down each of the seatbelts. While the red detailing is abundant, it is chiefly there to signify that the 128ti is not simply another engine variant slotted between the 118i and xDrive M135i. It is there to reinvigorate the previously historic turizmo internazionale (ti) name first demonstrated on the classic 1960’s lines of the 2002ti. By doing so, BMW have seized the opportunity to create an attainable cult classic. 

While on the topic, the 2002ti was a machine suitable for the driving purist of the era, making use of the 02 platform to create something sportier and more engaging. The new iteration does the same, shedding 80 kilograms of weight from the M135i, incorporating a mechanical diff and doing away with xDrive and adaptive suspension. It has a more visceral and engaging sensation behind the wheel because of this, with distinctly firm steering and torque steer in sports mode while an adequately comfortable ride on the standard 18” rims without. The 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo motor is detuned from the 135i to a respectable 180kW and 380Nm, sufficient on its FWD platform. The maximum torque output is available from as low as 1500 rpm while the 8-speed Steptronic sport transmission has violently appealing (to the boyracer in me) gear shifts in sport mode.

The traction control can annoyingly inhibit some of the torque and bog power in the lower gears, disengaging the ESC allows the mechanical diff to make easy work of sharp corners, with a dash of wheel spin going into 2nd and 3rd gear – enough to put a smile on the face. There are a few pitfalls, including a noisy radiator fan, visible exhaust backbox and the fact that BMW missed the opportunity to incorporate more of the original ti’s cues but the overall package remains good enough to take on the likes of the GTI and i30N.
While the newly released M135i completely missed the mark of the previous generations legacy (view the Nwamba brothers honest critique at the link), the 128ti with its competitive base price of R687 418 may just be the right 1.

Here’s why you should buy the Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo Giulia 

I know what you are all thinking, how does the Italian stallion compare to the ever so popular BMW 3 series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class or the third German moustache – the Audi A4?. All giants of the same segment.

This article isn’t going to be a long-winded and unnecessary comparison, the seats are like this, the wing mirrors are like that…if that’s what you came for you can copy and paste the above paragraph into the mighty Google search. This article is simply going to give you the reason why one should consider the Giulia- summed it up in one word: Difference.

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Let me expand this over a few hundred words.

You see, a BMW 3 series is a great proven product, likewise a C-class, they sell in droves partly because of this, but also because these brands are huge in this fine country of South Africa. Consumers buy BMW/Mercedes/Audi products for the same reason they buy Apple- because of how it interprets them and how they are viewed by their friends. I have happened to fall for this clever marketing ploy, you don’t sell the product, you sell the experience, the lifestyle…

Alfa Romeo Giulia

The first Alfa Romeo Guila I drove happened to be the QV, its fast and nimble front end caught my attention, so did the faulty electronics, and then a day later it ended up in a tyre wall ( through no fault of my own) It’s safe to say I didn’t get to spend much time in that specific vehicle, but after spending a good amount of time in the “standard” model, the Giulia just happens to also be a very good motor vehicle – shock horror.

However, I can’t just leave you with that to break the mould. We can all see its beautiful, but above that, it drives very nicely from both a comfort and performance perspective, it’s darn comfortable, the interior is fairly splendid and features technology which belongs in 2018. The Giulia’s 2.0 Petrol with 147 kW 8-speed automatic transmission offers just a good if not a better driving experience than its direct competitors. So here is what you need to ask yourself, why not be different?

Alfa Romeo Giulia

You see, life isn’t always what your friends think. While on route to test drive the “you know whats”, break the stereotype and pull into your nearest Alfa dealer. You never know unless you try and let’s be honest, if I had a Rand for every 320 M-Sport I passed on the morning commute, I wouldn’t be making a morning commute…

The Kevin Hart of BMW’s – M240i Driven

BMW M4240i

BMW M240i – The Kevin Hart of BMW’s

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is what many men would like to look like. 6 foot something, muscles for days and he can lift up one eyebrow independently like a boss. Ask yourself however, can he fit in a MINI Cooper comfortably? Can he easily pop into Woolworths and find a shirt that fits? I’m pretty sure his “bog” must be a little bit bigger than others too…As impressive as his mass is, when he’s not using it, it can be cumbersome. Kevin Hart on the other hand is someone who is also in very good shape as well. In fact, if you follow him on Instagram, you’d know how ripped the guy actually is. He’s a small man though, a very small man. That being said, he probably doesn’t battle doing everyday things. Clothes? No problem. Shoes? Easy fit. MINI Cooper? You damn right. Kevin’s size gives him a nimbleness that The Rock just wouldn’t have. I bet if you asked both of them to run through a busy mall of people, Kevin would be first to get to the end point of the race. The BMW M240i is the Kevin Hart of BMW’s, it’s loud, fast and after many hours of driving it, you don’t get tired of it.

BMW M240i

I’ve always known that the M240i was good, but having both an M240i and an M4 Competition Package on test made me realize just how good the car really is. Let’s talk about size. Being a compact car with a big engine, you have no problem finding, taking and even creating gaps in traffic. “You’re not meant to drive like that!” Um, last I checked, I was in a red BMW M240i with M Performance parts and an exhaust that goes PAH when I change gears, I can drive how I like thanks. I joke. Seriously though, the marriage of size and 250kW on tap is the recipe for one of the most usable cars on the road you can get right now. Yes, if you have kids you’re screwed, but who needs kids? The only kid you need to worry about is the one the BMW M240i successfully brings out in you.

BMW M240i

Next up is the chassis on the car. What a chassis it is. Let me put my journo pants on and say, “steering feel is not what it used to be in older BMW’s blah blah blah”. Now let’s talk real-world driving. In Comfort, the car responds well, steering is light, gearbox is calm and ready to use all the gears. For day to day stuff, this is the mode you’d want to use. In Sport, personally the car is perfect for my type of driving. It’s responsive, holds the revs slightly longer and is always ready to pounce on unsuspecting hot hatches. Sport Plus does the same but with some allowance for rear end slippage. This mode is best for quiet nights and roundabouts. Who said that? No one likes to wag some tail at the exit of a roundabout! That’s not responsible! (Wink wink) The only time you should put traction off in the BMW M240i is if you’re on a racetrack, or you’ve just watched any instalment of Fast and Furious. Should you get caught doing anything untoward, simply get out the car, raise both hands in the air and tell the cops that “this is Brazil”. If you need me to bail you out, I’m reachable on 011 555 22 55. Yes, it’s a landline.

BMW M240i

Jokes aside, the fast cars available today are not always the most usable. The BMW M4 is a classic example of this. On the normal road, you probably only get to use 60-75% of the M4’s dynamic attributes and power. Traffic, curbs and backache are realities of life. Also, have you tried parking any car with an M DCT Transmission? It’s the gearbox equivalent of bipolar. The M4 is in my opinion a peach on a track and is still very enjoyable on the road, but it’s The Rock of the car world. The problem is that the line between enjoyment and making a mistake is often very close. For cars with as much power as the M4, like The Rock, you may battle to find a “shirt” that fits. The road is either to short or to small to really exercise all its muscles. The M240i however is the right balance. Enough power, the right size and a forgiving chassis allows you to push the car to 80 – 90% of what it can do, on the road. The difference is that you’re less likely to make a mistake if you know your car well enough. Responsible driving is obviously important. Sometimes just enjoying the overrun burble of the car at 60km/h is enough to put a smile on your face. Like Kevin Hart, it’s relatable, it doesn’t try too hard and most of all it can make you giggle. It’s automotive comedy packaged very attractively. The optional M Performance parts fitted to the car also make individualizing your 2 Series easier. They don’t come cheap however, especially considering that some of the parts are made of real carbon fibre. At a startup price of R720 500, it’s not um…cheap. In fact, it’s quite pricey considering you’re going to throw in a few extras. Then again, for the performance and thrill you can extract out of the car, very little rear wheel drive cars will give you that experience for that price. In the world we live in, proper rear wheel drive thrills come at the R1mil + mark, so depending on what you want, you may find the M240i reasonable compared to its rivals.

Launch Drive : All-New BMW X3 in South Africa

All New BMW X3 in South Africa

The mid-sized SUV market is fast becoming one of the most hotly contested segments in South Africa and for good reason. For the family, it’s a perfect combination of space, versatility, ground clearance and all the weekend activities rolled into a sleek package that can climb pavements, swallow the kid’s kits bags and the weeks shopping. What else do you need? In this segment, you get the usual spilt of affordable and premium vehicles as you would in most segments and this has been dominated but the big three Germans with the Swede making a name for itself in the last couple of years with its XC60 iteration. One of the major players, and the topic of this article, is the BMW X3. It’s led the pack in-terms of being the right blend of functionality, Sportiness and looks and with the latest generation, chassis code G01, it’s looking to add to the 1,5 million units sold from its first-generation introduction in 2003.

New BMW X3

Our introduction to the latest addition to the BMW X family is the 20d xDrive adorned with Luxury line. One thing that stands out from the first time you open the door and have a seat is the cabin and the materials used. Taking a lesson from the new generation Q5, the cabin is a luxurious place to be. From the light contrast seats – not advisable if you go by the name Mom or Dad- to the dark oak, the cabin gives you the right feeling for making you way to the premium shopping isle. Like the Q5, and to be honest most of the players at this price bracket, you feel like your hard-earned money bought you a lovely place to be in and you don’t feel short-changed at any time.

As is my preference on launch drives, I elected to be passenger for the first stint as this give me a chance to really get acquainted with all the new gadgets and really come to grips with the new technology, something that modern BMWs seem to be doing well. This variant seemed to have all the gizmos that your heart would want but your rational mind would decline as this would mean a second to third mortgage on your home. Straight from its older sibling’s spec baskets, our test vehicle had, amongst many standard features, the full LED lights, professional navigation, multifunction instrument display, Harmon Kardon sound, drive assist, and and and. We told you about the second to third mortgage. In terms of safety features, most of the features are non-cost and come standard, so that means that you get the full alphabet soup to keep you and your loved ones safe. The one thing that we must mentioned is that the partnership between BMW and Harmon Kardon has been a long and fruitful one and if you are a family that enjoy your sing along trips, this option is one to tick off.

I couldn’t stay riding shotgun forever and at one of our scheduled stops, it was time for a driver change. This new 20d motor married to the tried, tested and loved ZF 8 speed gearbox, is a little bit more eager and with vast use of weight saving materials, isn’t slow out the gate as well. The 0-100km/h sprint is dispatched in a claimed 8,0 seconds, and the feisty diesel will run all the way to a 213km/h top end. This sportiness is thanks to a hike in power and torque to the tune of 140kW and 400Nm respectively. We got some twisty bits in a damp and foggy Knysna and the BMW DNA came to the forefront very quickly. With 50/50 weight distribution cornering becomes very enjoyable and predictable. With the revised xDrive system, power and torque gets distributed seamlessly to all four corners without hesitation and never did we see the DSC light flash to warn us that we are trying a bit too hard for road conditions.

Off the beaten track, the X3 remains composed and well damped to the point of thinking that the footprint is courtesy small wheels on water balloons underfoot. On closer inspection, we found that the 20d Luxury Line was shod with 19” alloys with 245/50 section tyres. Not really off-road kit then and tell us that the Bavarians spent a decent amount of R&D on the suspension. Being a BMW and having off-road capability, we were impressed that it didn’t cower on the lose stuff and inspired confidence to the point that we started steering the vehicle via the rear axle. Not that anyone who buys this car would have this high on the importance list, but it’s good to know that should the mood take you, and you have some muddy roads on the way home, you could have some fun without working up much of a sweat.

New BMW X3

We all met up at the superb Conrad Pezula hotel where we were to spend the night. The media briefing highlighted a very important fact for BMW South Africa and that is that this new vehicle will be built locally. This is thanks to a R160M investment upgrade to the facility in Roslyn to make sure that all is in place for the new vehicle. This does however mean that the new X3 will be replacing the locally built 3 series though. This new upgrade was done while still producing the aforementioned 3 series and new X3s are expected to roll of the production line after the last 3 series from South Africa towards the middle of 2018.

The next day, we were greeted by the previous day’s rainclouds, ever so keen to show us the handling capabilities of the new M Performance variant of the X3. Named the X3 M40i, it sports the in-line 6 cylinder with numbers squarely aimed at the Audi SQ5 and the Mercedes GLC 43, it produces 265kW and 500Nm. Claimed performance figures are 0-100km/h in 4,8 seconds and the autobahn nanny comes to halt lift off at the familiar 250km/h. Nursing this “340i with xDrive X3” variant out of hotel and through the busy centre of Knysna was like walking a very strong but lovable mature pit bull terroir. With a careless extension of the right foot, the M40i lunges forward in a fashion not fit for school run vehicle. We finally got out to the country toad and could let the M40i off its leash. This B58 in-line 6 motor is one of the best out there and with soundtrack from the exhaust, it was common to see the needle chase the redline in most of the lower gears. My fun was halted by my co-pilot who mentioned something about a Driver swop. What a kill joy! It was then I saw his cruel but genius plan of doing the second leg of the driving. See, the second leg of the driving roads had some of the most beautiful switchbacks and esses that I have seen and knowing the area, he saved them for himself. It was from the passenger seat that I had a sense of how quickly the M40i can cover ground and the pops and bangs from the exhaust on lift off and overrun are just simply sublime.

New BMW X3

We got the airport and felt that BMW has organised the rain, fog and mud. It certainly highlighted the strength of the new vehicle and has variants to appeal to all needs and driving styles. At launch, two petrol and two diesel variants will be available being the 20d, 30d and the 30i and the firecracker M40i. Engines are an evolution of the familiar BMW drives trains with a bit more power and torque here and there but with economy being better than the last generations.

We have no doubt that BMW will continue being successful with this latest generation of the X3 and being a local vehicle now, I’m sure there will be some attractive packages to get more bums in seats. From what we have briefly seen, they are not bad seats to be in.

New BMW X3 Pricing In South Africa

X3 xDrive20d: R684 200

X3 xDrive30i: R739 800

X3 xDrive30d: R868 300

X3 M40i: R991 100

BMW’s fiery M3 CS to storms into the front in 2018

BMW M3 CS

BMW M3 CS

BMW’s most acclaimed product in the art of fast M car shenanigans, the M3 has proven itself to be one of the most capable and dynamic driver’s cars in its class. This has acclaim been made clear with the sheer number of special editions available and the popularity of the models thereof. The variations being rather similar to that of the Nando’s range of Peri-peri hot sauces, offering a level of taste bud melting deliciousness to suit every pallet. Chief among which is the M4 GTS, this is the ‘Extra extra hot’, the most ridiculously track ready variant that is too much for most and is very much sold out in South Africa. Offering only two doors it’s somewhat less practical than the M3 and thus due to lifestyle doesn’t really appeal to as vast an audience. The lesser ‘Hot’ variants, proving to be the Competition Pack, which offers more power and revision to the suspension over the standard ‘Lemon and Herb’ M3, but still soft enough for everyday use. So, what if you need four doors but like your proverbial BMW Chicken pieces at tongue bending levels of heat intensity?

BMW M3 CS

Enter the ‘Extra Hot’ BMW M3 CS, showcased at the M Festival and due early next year, with only one Extra, it fills the void between the Competition and the GTS as a lightweight version of the saloon, with an additional 7kws and 50nm’s over the standard model. Power is increased to 338kw and 600nm. This boost in ponies is enough to drop the 0-100 time to the sub-4sec mark with a blistering time of 3.9secs. The top Speed is raised in accordance with the M driver’s package standard on the CS to a limited 280km/h. Thus, making it the most powerful and fastest BMW M3 Ever.

BMW M3 CS

In terms of Dynamics, the CS comes standard with adaptive M, with adjustable dampening and suspension to ensure it carries the most grippy yet smokey drift like traits possible. The M differential has also been fettled and has been developed specifically for the CS. A staggered stance of 19” inch wheels at the front and 20” at rear mated to a set road legal semi-slick MICHELIN pilot sport Cup 2 tyres come as standard fare, with the more road-friendly Pilot sport 2 option fitted at no cost.

BMW M3 CS

The other changes being to that of the interior and exterior with extensive weight saving measures being taken, through the use of a plastic-carbon fibre composite roof, carbon fibre front splitter, rear diffuser, and a carbon fibre Gurney boot lip exclusive to the CS. Inside the car, the weight savings are less drastic with the CS still offering all of the creature comforts Typical of a car of this calibre, and the likes of Harmon-Kardon surround sound, dual-zone climate control and navigation included in the package, with the few hints of the cars driving prowess being clued in small touches, such as the Alcantara draped dash with CS embossing and the new two-tone Silverstone and black leather.

BMW M3 CS Pricing in South Africa

The M3CS will be South African shores in May of 2018, with only 15 of the 1200 worldwide being allocated to our Republic. Pricing will be realised closer to the launch in May, but with the M4 CS priced at R1.8m, we can expect to see the M3 CS going for a similar rate.