Tag: car news

We Drive the New Porsche Cayenne in South Africa

New Porsche Cayenne South Africa

New Porsche Cayenne Driven Review

Porsche. It’s a  name that is synonymous with racing, hard-core stripped out road vehicles and daily drivers that many a stockbroker have or are in the process of ordering. It’s a name that carries heritage and a history in motorsport that many manufacturers would love to call their own. For any petrol head, it’s been a brand that most aspire to, but come 2003, Porsche decided to branch out and for good reason. They decided that the clients who already own their sports cars needed something that they could drive daily, with spouse and children in tow. They gave us the Porsche Cayenne.

New Porsche Cayenne South Africa

Porsche Cayenne Side Shot

Yes, at first glance it wasn’t the most handsome sibling but for Porsche clients and anyone who could afford the price tag, it didn’t matter. The Porsche Cayenne was bought by the trendy, wealthy families in your estate. You know the family, the Khumalo’s and the Smiths. The family with the toned, gym focussed mother who can whip up a gourmet meal for her family. The tall and chiselled father who is not only the CEO of his international company but also coaches his daughter’s soccer team. Yes, those families. It’s because of them, that the Cayenne brand has gone from strength to strength and what we have now, in 2018 is the most one of the best looking SUVs in the market, and it’s the Cayenne.

The launch of the new Porsche Cayenne.

We all met up in rainy and very windy Cape Town for the launch of the new Cayenne. At first glance, and from a distance, you see the design team went in for a nip and tuck. In its third rendition, you would be hard pressed to see where improvements could be made as I thought the previous model was a particularly handsome vehicle – that is why I’m writing an article on the new Cayenne and not in Stuttgart, in a Porsche lab coat, submitting design drawings.

From the rear, with its Tron like LED spanning the entire boot length, along with the coupe-like roofline and front end that looks more like 911.2 that a regular SUV, I’m left with much want for this car. Inside you are greeted by a cabin that would be a technophobe’s nightmare. It’s all electric with buttons and switchgear for everything. It’s very much tuned for the iPad generation, something that I will not tire of.

Three engines are available from launch and we first sampled the “baby” Cayenne with its 3.0L V6 petrol motor producing 250kW and 450Nm. It’s crazy to think that some flagship vehicles churn out those kinds of numbers. Out into Capetonian traffic, something that the whole of South Africa could do without, we head out into the wine country. In front, we are led by the flagship Cayenne Turbo variant and I don’t know if it’s my Gauteng aggressiveness in my driving style, but the Turbo wasn’t able to show me up in the corners and sweeping mountain passes, however, he did show me what the rear of the car looked like on the straights.

Tech

The ride on the “entry level” Cayenne was plush, feedback from the front axle and steering was more than adequate and you find yourself pushing much harder than your skill set normally lets you, such is the confidence that the Cayenne gives you. What impressed me was the standard equipment that’s offered on the entry-level model and with a base of R1 142 000, it’s square in line with its counterparts from Germany and the United Kingdom.

New Porsche Cayenne South Africa

New Porsche Cayenne Interior South Africa

After reaching our coffee stop, I was now a passenger and could play with the digital driving display and all the settings that could be personalised. To say that I got lost in the varies menus is an understatement. I just love interiors that I can really make my own and in this vehicle, you can do just that. Very soon, I found myself driving what I would say is the pick of the bunch, the Cayenne S.

New Porsche Cayenne S

Powered by a 2.9 V6 Motor, punching out 324kW, 550Nm and a standing 0-100kph time of 4,9 seconds, you instantly fall in love with this variant. I was commending the normal Cayenne on its power delivery and the fact that you never really lacked for power,  this motor, however, gives you that little extra you didn’t know that you needed. Overtaking is done before you know it and if you find yourself alone, on a familiar stretch of road, the Cayenne S will stop its gallop at 265 kph, 20 kph more than its sibling. Standard options fitted to the Cayenne S are just too many to number, but the major reason for the S is the motor, and at this pricing range, you can justify the R154 000 price jump.

New Porsche Cayenne S South Africa

Porsche Cayenne S Driving

New Porsche Cayenne Turbo S

Now for the “Maneer”, the General, the Turbo S. We live in an age where Turbo motors are the way to get around emissions issues, while bringing consumption figures and down to reasonable levels. Sadly, the engine note from the exhaust is normally then lost and sacrificed.  You see, turbos swallow up the naughty noise that would make even the sharpest accountant giggle like a five-year-old, but not in the case of the Turbo S. From startup, the mightly 4.0 V8 motor, producing 404kW and 770Nm lets you know that it means business and that you should strap in, tight!

New Porsche Cayenne Turbo S

I’ve always maintained that high-performance SUVs are not practical and offer performance that you don’t need as no sane parent would drive “that way” with their kids staring at them in the rear-view mirror. But and this is a big BUT, this is the second SUV that would make me go against my cardinal rule. To say that the Cayenne Turbo is fast is like saying that an NBA player is tall. It’s a fact known by all but there is so much depth to that statement that you would need to be in the vehicle, better yet, the driver’s seat to fully comprehend the thought that I’m trying to get across here.

New Porsche Cayenne Turbo S

Gone are the days of struggling to keep up with traffic on rural roads. The string of trucks that are blocking the traffic from flowing? Gone. That “special” mountain pass that you are trying to carve and get rid of small cars and delivery vans? Gone. The Turbo S delivers power in waves that would make any sane driver a favourite paying member of the JMPD, and it’s also done without your passengers being hurled from side to side. The Turbo S is so well sorted suspension-wise that you end up feeling that you are in Panamera, rather than an SUV in the clouds.

What would I buy?

So there you have it. The new Porsche Cayenne is a fantastic vehicle. The Khumalo’s and Smiths have already ordered theirs but what about the Nwamba’s?  I have driven a diesel SUV for the last couple of years and have become very fond of driving a tank to 700 km plus between fill-ups. Interestingly, the new Cayenne isn’t available in a diesel, and with petrol being a cleaner burning fuel, you can see the reason for this. Diesel is expected to be phased out in the next decade with emission standards being strict and Porsche has now jumped ahead of everyone with this decision.

New Porsche Cayenne S South Africa

Rear of Porsche Cayenne S

So the only vehicle that would be under my consideration would be my pick of the bunch – the Cayenne S. It’s in the same ballpark in terms of pricing with the Mercedes GLE 350 AMG, the BMW X5 30d M Sport and the Range Rover TdV6 SE and to play devil’s advocate, the Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI. You can see that these are vehicles that have been giving my wife and I a headache and the introduction of the new Cayenne to further complicated this decision, a decision that we’ve decided to park till next year when we will need to play ching Chong cha! If I were to make that decision now though, I would be writing this from the seat of a Cayenne S.

Learn More here: https://www.porsche.com/middle-east/_capetown_/models/cayenne/

A True Hot Hatch – Hyundai i30 N

We Drive the Hyundai i30 N

Rewind your mind to a little over a year ago. If someone told you that Hyundai are planning to release a hot hatch, but not just any hot hatch, a hot hatch that would bring the fight to every one of the great hatches we know and love, would you have believed them? Probably not. Welcome the Hyundai i30 N.

Hyundai i30 N South Africa

Hyundai i30 N on a abend

You see, performance hatches and Hyundai have never really belonged in the same sentence together, it’s kind of like Ben and Jerrys offering a zero-sugar ice-cream, one would think it’s going to be a bit “pap”.

However, Hyundai have been clever and found themselves a person who knows the in’s and out’s of this performancy kind of stuff. His name is Albert Biermann and he once headed up the BMW M Performance division. This is quite a statement from Hyundai, so how does the i3o N fair?

It Means Business

Glare at the Hyundai i30 N and you will get a deathly stare back, it looks mean from every angle. Sitting low, the artic blue paint reminds me that this colour has been discontinued, which means we needed to stay far away from bushes, curbs and anything untoward that could cause damage. My favourite angle? The rear. Its small wing and diffuser complement the wide stance, dual tailpipes and bright rear lights nicely. Hyundai are not playing around.

Hyundai i30 N South Africa

Rear light of the Hyundai i30 N

For those who don’t know, you may think it’s all show and no go, however, if you are even just so slightly interested in cars you will know that this is not the case.  285bhp (202kW)  and 400Nm on tap means theHyundai i30 N already shows the Golf GTI it’s mother on paper, but what about on the road?

What is it like to drive?

For me, a great hot hatch is one that makes you smile. After all, they are built to be fun right? A mixture of performance, response, chassis and sound are all major components they make up the perfect hatch. Quite frankly, the Hyundai i30 N delivers in all departments.

The wave of boost that hits in the lower RPM range Is addictive. I love the surge of power and boost that kicks in and doesn’t ever seem to fade out. Coupled with the heavy clutch and clunky, solid gearbox, the feeling can only be described as real. No other hot hatch sounds like this, the crackle and pops produced literally makes people walking on the side of the road to stop, turn around and put their hands in the air – sorry love, this is straight from the manufacturer.

Hyundai i30 N South Africa

Hyundai i30 N on a racetrack

The i30N also lives up to its nickname“Corner Rascal” . I was going to say the front end is to die for, but that’s probably an overstatement. It is wonderfully sharp and grippy and when partnered with the balanced chassis and limited slip diff, you’d have to be doing something wild to find understeer.  Hyundai didn’t lie when they told us this car is measured in BPM and not RPM – it really does get the blood pumping. Did I mention the noise?

A choice of 5 driving modes are available, you know, the usual Eco, Comfort, Sport that seem to come on most new vehicles nowadays, but, If you want to get straight to the main action then a simple press of the blue N button on the steering wheel will do the trick – I wonder what this is similar too, it’s at the back of my mind and I just can’t remember…

Steering Wheel of the Hyundai i30 N South Africa

Steering Wheel of the Hyundai i30 N

I digress,  The N will activate everything and anything that brings out the dark side of the Hyundai i30 N’s personality. Hit it again, and the system activates your custom N settings which are programmed through the main interface.  You will probably use this if you’re fussy like Richard, as he likes everything in sport apart from steering feel which MUST stay in comfort – lame.

Technology in the i30 N

I was quite taken aback when I found technology such as wireless charging, autonomous emergency braking, collision warning and a lane keep assist technology which works much more like semi-autonomous driving.  Rev matching is also a treat, making downshifts much more pleasant as well as sounding fantastic. If you’ve been driving long enough though, you can turn this off from the steering wheel and work your magic with the old heel and toe situation. Of course, Apple Carplay and Android Auto are also thrown into the mix to end of a great bunch of tech.

Hyundai i30 N Interior South Africa

Hyundai i30 N Interior

Does it lack anything?

Dampers. It lacks dampers. Yes, the ride is particularly firm but in all seriousness, it doesn’t really lack anything. You have everything you need and more in terms of tech and performance. If you are going to compare this against a Golf or other German hatchbacks, then it won’t give you the same premium feel and trims. It’s more plastically, and obviously not as comfortable. If your looking for a fast hatch which isn’t going to break your back then this probably isn’t the hatch for you. It’s not going to be great if you undertake a long commute on a daily basis either, but if you are looking for true hot hatch experience then you won’t go wrong with the Hyundai i30 N.

Hyundai i30 N South Africa

Sam Ayres with the Hyundai i30 N

How does it compare to other hatches?

I’ve not driven every hot hatch ever made, and there are a few new models that I still need to get behind the wheel of, such as the Megane R.S. However, from what I have driven, it definitely provides one of the rawest, fun and visceral driving experiences. I have spent many hours and corners behind the wheel of a GTI Clubsport, they both feature very positive front ends and similar driving traits, however, the Clubsport is DSG – which leads me onto think that a Clubsport S with a manual box, reduction in weight and increase in more power might just result in a driving experience that pips the i30N.  Either way,  I’m just going to have to wait to find out.

Learn More: https://www.hyundai.co.uk/new-cars/i30n

New Mercedes-Benz A-Class – Setting New Standards

New Mercedes-Benz A-Class in Matt Grey, Overlooking Ocean and town

New Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Some car models evolve like a fine wine; slowly over time, each incarnation just a little better than the last. Not at Mercedes-Benz though, if other technologies progressed as fast as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, we’d be living around in a rather futuristic world. Twenty-one years ago, just after the first A-Class was launched, it made motoring headlines for failing the Moose Test, but that was actually a blessing in disguise rather than a setback. This problem forced the men in white coats to re-engineer the suspension as well as to add electronic driver aids never before seen in a compact car, forcing other manufacturers to follow suit. This was the start of a brilliant track record, amassing sales of three million A-Class cars (6 million compact cars in total) to date, each new model featuring improvements and upgrades that you’d only expect to find in top tier models.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is now in its fourth generation, and it’s no facelift, this technological marvel is an all-new affair from the ground up. The compact Benz is longer, higher and wider resulting in a sportier looking hatchback, especially when fitted with the optional 19-inch wheels. The front-end subscribes to the latest Mercedes-Benz design architecture and this new design also sees the car being the most aerodynamic in the segment. Much of this is attributed to the front and rear wheel spoilers that result in low airflow losses, in addition, wheel arches are insulated from the engine compartment and the radiator surrounds are sealed. The design of the A-pillars and the new wing mirrors also has an effect on drag, but most noticeably on wind noise. This all-new A-Class is easily the quietest hatch I’ve driven to date.

Cabin space is improved thanks to the new dimensions; so taller drivers have more comfort with better elbow and shoulder room. The boot receives a 29-litre increase in capacity, now totalling 370 litres and the taillights are now sectioned in two, meaning a 20cm wider load aperture giving your favourite set of Callaway clubs a perfect entry. Besides space, the interior of the all-new A-Class is a very premium place indeed. The retail price of these cars (which we’ll get to later) does seem high, but when you see the fit and finish of the materials and the amount of technology crammed in, things become a lot more palatable.

MBUX – Mercedes-Benz User Experience – is an intelligent multimedia system that adapts to your inputs and voice commands which is not only great to keep you company on long roads, it also keeps your eye focused ahead to keep you safe. All manner of things can be done via the voice control, such as turning vehicle systems on and off or finding you a better route through traffic.  To access this function, simply blurt out “Hey Mercedes” at any point and she’ll answer you back – sound familiar?  It’s also easy to use, however when you want your fingers to do the talking, the touch controls for all the systems are easy and intuitive, once you learn what does what of course.

Powering the all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class are two new power plants; for the A200 there’s a turbocharged 1332cc 4-cylinder with 120kW and 250Nm on tap. The A250 Sport features 1991cc, also a turbocharged 4-cylinder, and produces 165kW and 350Nm available. Both engines are mated to a sublime, smooth and lightning-quick 7-speed dual clutch transmission (7G-DCT). A variety of drive modes are available, including Comfort, Eco and Sport, the latter being very responsive and firm. We were only able to sample the A200 on launch, and the responsiveness and available power from such a small capacity motor boggles the mind. It’s claimed to reach 100km/h in 8-seconds with a top speed at 225km/h, but it feels faster. Combined fuel consumption is claimed at 5.2l/100km which I’m sure it can manage, just not on launch. In this initial launch drive the A200 was put through its paces and it must be said that there’s not really any way to fault the car. With the technology on board, the new A-Class sets new standards, once again forcing others to follow. The automaker wants to target a younger, more tech-savvy buyer, and offerings don’t get much better than this. A diesel variant and the halo AMG version will come in time.

New Mercedes-Benz A-Class Pricing in South Africa

Pricing for the all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class sees the A200 comes in at R499 000 and the A250 lists at R593 300.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio – fast, fun but expensive.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Driven Review

If you are familiar with the team here at TheMotorist, you will know it consists of myself, Francisco and Richard. While the latter two happen to be brothers, Francisco and myself are born within a month of each other. Unfortunately for Richard, he has passed the “fun part” of his life already. What I mean by that is, he’s older than us and he has entered a stage of life that consists of nappies and mortgages. More often than not on some of our recent video projects, a good man who goes by the name of Andrew joins us. Andrew is the editor of Top Gear Magazine SA and happens to be the same age as Richard. Together, they share notes on child rearing and finding the best family doctor.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

So I feel it’s no coincidence then that the younger two of the group fell head over heels for the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, while the older bunch really didn’t fancy it that much. Maybe bigger issues in life have made them lose their sense of fun? Who knows. I’m not insinuating that the older you get, the more boring you become, I would never do that…never ever…

However, it seems that maybe the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is the SUV for the younger person even though you need older person money to afford it. It’s a catch 22 really. The Stelvio throws things at you, that you don’t expect – hot hatch driving dynamics being one of them. It’s quite surprising to be fooled into thinking you’re driving a Golf GTI, when you’re actually in a midsize SUV. Another thrilling factor about the Stelvio, is the fact that it’s rather quick. Put your foot down and you notice the digital speedometer climb rather quickly, much faster than expected – especially since it’s powered by a 2.0l turbocharged engine. Turn a corner and notice the front end turn in quite sharply. Again, more than expected. In the end, you find yourself becoming quite giddy in this vehicle, like when your parents would step out the house for some milk and you could be naughtier than usual. That’s what happens when you’re in a 206kW/400N.m Italian SUV with some heritage behind the brand.

You see, while many ( Richard and Andrew ) see SUV’s as only needing to be large vehicles with lots of space for your children, your friend’s children and the expensive bike you use once in a blue moon – the Stelvio offers more. Yes, it ticks the boxes when it comes to safety, it has a quality interior and offers modern technology. Above that, it’s also quite fast which makes it quite exciting – something other vehicles in the Alfa Romeo Stelvios league don’t offer. They may even be better than the Stelvio in other ways, but the Alfa brings with it a fun personality.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

The performance SUV segment is one that often causes debate. Some lament that they “don’t need to be SO sharp, or be THAT fast”, but the question is why not? Why can’t certain SUV’s offer both the practicality and space, whilst also being a little invigorating too? In the age of extensive choice, there’s a place for an SUV such as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. It’s not a full-blown eye-watering performance SUV (the QV variant will fill the gap). What it is however, is a good middle ground option.  

The thing is, the Stelvio will set you back R834 000, which is not exactly cheap. If you do some scratching around, you’re bound to find more value for money products. That being said, buying into the Alfa brand is never a purchase based on practicality, but rather one based on emotion. So, if you’re an Alfa lover, this SUV is for you because it does evoke emotion and kudos to them for staying true to their brand ethos. For me, the Stelvio is a great SUV. It looks the part, feels the part and drives the part too. As a future young dad, I’d appreciate a good thrill once in a while, when the princes and princesses are tucked away in bed of course. Now it’s just a matter of convincing Richard and Andrew.

 

We Drive the New Ford EcoSport

Ford EcoSport

New Ford EcoSport Driven

What’s in a name, I mean, people have all sorts of interesting names these days and gone are the good old days of a ‘proper Christian name.’ The same can be said for cars with absurdities such as ‘Qashqai’ and ‘Superfast’ springing to mind. Imagine humans were named in the same vein as Ferrari’s – “Meet my son, Superfreckly and my daughter, Mediumround.”

 

Mind you, at least we know that the Superfast is indeed super-fast and that a 5 Series is larger than a 3 Series, yet smaller than a 7.  What a time to be alive.

Enter Fords economical and sporty EcoSport. It’s not what you might think, though – the ‘Sport’ in EcoSport suggests a more ‘sporty’ lifestyle as opposed to track day toy, but we already knew that.

Ford EcoSport

The Ford EcoSport has been a hot seller in South Africa since its initial release in May 2013 and now having received its third and most significant update, promises to continue its streak of strong sales. The numbers speak for themselves with the Ford EcoSport accounting for as much as 14% of Ford sales in South Africa. It also leads in its segment making up for 38% of its segment, down from 49% initially. In short, the EcoSport is popular in our market so there’s no doubt that the improved design, quality and safety of this vehicle will stand it in good stead.

Design wise, the most notable differences can be seen at the front of the vehicle and in the cabin. The new hood with power dome sits above a new and distinctively Ford grille and the standard HID headlamps with LED daytime running lights (Trend and Titanium models only) contribute to more premium look up font. New colours and alloy wheel options are available, too.

Having received quite the revamp, the cabin of the new EcoSport really is a lovely place to be. New instrument clusters, SYNC screen options and a new steering wheel with standard paddle shifters (on auto models sit amongst other updates such as new interior materials, a completely redesigned instrument panel, newly designed climate control console and ambient lighting below the instrument panel.

Both petrol and diesel variants are available, however the diesel is only available in base Ambiente guise. This is because in this segment, petrol is still king and as a result, the Ford EcoSport’s line-up reflects that.

Ford’s tried, tested and triumphant 1.0-litre EcoBoost motor does service in the petrol model and having won Engine of the Year 6 times, that’s a good thing. It provides punchy low down torque and always feels eager to get going, yet returns an impressive claimed 5.4 l/100km. Figures of 92 kW and 170 N.m are more than ample and the petrol motors have been paired wonderfully with either a 6-speed manual or all-new 6-speed automatic transmissions.

For those who still insist on a bit of oil burning, the Ambiente model is only available with Ford’s 1.5-litre TDCi motor, mated to a 5-speed manual with figures of 74 kW, 205 N.m and claimed 4.6 l/100km.

Safety wise, all vehicles benefit from the usual array of standard safety equipment such as ABS, EBA and ESC. Dual front, side and curtain airbags are standard across the range with Trend and Titanium models receiving a driver’s knee airbag too.

In terms of spec, the whole range is pretty sorted. Ambiente models receive SYNC 1 with Bluetooth and voice control, electric windows all-round, steering wheel audio controls, Ford audio with 6 speakers and 2 USB ports, rear PDC, rear fog lamp, remote central locking, a trip computer and 16” steel wheels with covers.

 

In addition to this, Trend models receive a black grille with upper chrome, roof rails, body colour mirrors and door handles, SYNC 3 with 6.5” Touchscreen, LED daytime running lights, 16” alloy wheels, front and rear fog lamps, Hill Launch Assist, Roll Stability Control, Tyre Pressure Monitoring, and a leather gear knob and steering wheel.

In addition to all of that, Titanium models come specced to the hilt with silver roof rails, lower body cladding in black with chrome inserts, power adjustable folding exterior mirrors with puddle lamps, 17” alloy wheels, auto headlamps, rain sensing wipers, Keyless start, cruise control with adjustable speed limiter, electronic climate control, SYNC 3 with 8” touchscreen with navigation, Ford Audio with 7 high-end speakers, centre console with covered bin and sliding armrest and ambient lighting.

To wrap this up, Ford have taken what was already a popular and capable lifestyle vehicle and given it the updates needed to keep it fresh for the next while. The EcoSport is refined, fun to drive, practical and well put together, well equipped and now with its new face, handsome too.

Ford EcoSport Pricing in South Africa

Pricing starts at R264 500 for the 1.5 TDCi Ambiente manual and stretches to R339 900 for the 1.0 Ecoboost Titanium automatic.

All vehicles come standard with Ford Protect’s comprehensive 4 years/120 000km warranty, 5 years/unlimited km corrosion warranty, 3 years/unlimited km roadside assistance and 4 years/60 000km service plan. Service intervals are 15 000km.

 

New Mercedes-AMG C43

Mercedes-AMG

New Mercedes-AMG C43 First Drive

For those not in the know, the Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-Benz range can become quite confusing. Walk into a dealership and ask for a “fast Mercedes” and you will most likely find yourself presented with a myriad of models and a vast range of numbers – such as 65, 63, 53, 45 and 43. Fortunately, it’s articles like these that’ll hopefully provide a little insight – so that if you do go looking for a “fast Mercedes”, you’ll have done the math and know which number you’re looking for. Or at least have an idea.

Mercedes-AMG C43

 

Today we’re talking about the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class. It’s a facelift, so it’s not entirely a new vehicle, but they call it new – so let’s roll with it. To start the launch off, we embarked into some countryside areas around the outskirts of JHB, to sample these new models in a quiet setting. The model I focused on was the C43, naturally.

The 43 range offers a 3.0l V6 Twin Scroll Turbo, which produces 290kW and 520 Nm – reaching 100km/h in approximately 4.7 seconds. Driving not only a C43, but the “43” motor in general, was a first-time affair for me. While this vehicle could be classed as a “baby” AMG when compared with the mighty C63, it certainly doesn’t sound like it. In a good way.

This V6 purrs like a Cheetah being scratched by a very large garden rake. Again, in a good way. There was never really a time when I wanted to turn the Active Exhausts off, as chasing this noise through the higher rpm range through a total of 9 gears was becoming just short of addictive. Plus, it’s also slightly quieter than its V8 older brother, so when pottering around town you can leave the active pipes on and not get a headache. Do I prefer it? I haven’t yet decided.

Mercedes-AMG C43

While I could bark on about this all day, it’s time to discuss some of the new features found on the C-Class in general. While snapping at the gears and chasing that sweet V6 sound, you’ll find yourself holding onto a new steering wheel – one which was first found on the S Class and E Class. I love the finish, styling and premium feel it gives you, as it features metal, leather and these hi-tech thumb touch-pads for scrolling through various menus on the digital display. It’s also a standard feature across the whole range, not just the AMG models.

Turn you attention to the fascia and you will also notice the new 12.3-inch instrument cluster. As common as they are becoming on new premium vehicles, each manufacturer has their own take on these digital consoles. Through this system, the driver can browse and adjust most settings and features on the vehicle. AMG variants provide a striking yellow design with a layout that simulates the classic round dials that we all know and love. The display can show you pretty much anything the heart desires regarding the vehicle and while live tyre pressure and the ambient temperature is…cool? Viewing live power, torque and boost levels were something that interested me more.

Mercedes-AMG C43

From the outside, a new redesigned front bumper and diamond grille differentiate the C43 compared to other models. The new 84 LED multi-beam headlights add subtle changes too. With the option of the Ultra Range system, these provide light for up to 650m and also feature the blanking out technology which means Hi-Beam can be selected all the time without dazzling other road users. New tail-lights are also apparent, as well as various rear bumper designs – depending on the package you select.

So, what’s it like then driving the face-lifted C43? Apparently, it’s just like the pre-facelift variant, only prettier and faster. Even though it’s an “AMG”, the vehicle is pretty comfortable when the driving modes are relaxed and set to comfort, dial in the sport modes and the C43 comes alive and provides the sharp AMG driving feel. There is more power on tap, which means the trees blur quicker on a straight line. The car still features Mercedes’s 4Matic system but this time sending 69% of the power to the rear wheels which improve the vehicle dynamically. This provides a nice balance as the power is still accessible all the time, unlike it’s older brother the C63, which likes to wiggle around corners. This is actually a good thing, because only those who know how to do the “AMG dance” should try going toe to toe with one, should they be brave enough. The C43 then is the safe bet among the fast C-Class variants, so if you want to just get on it, this may be the one you should ask for at a dealership.

The new Mercedes-AMG C43 Vehicle Pricing in South Africa:

Sedan                       Coupe                                  Cabriolet

R948,500                  R983,500                             R1,100,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Volkswagen Touareg: First Drive

Volkswagen Touareg

We Drive the New Volkswagen Touareg

It’s amazing what happens to us when we get older. In my twenties, what was important in a vehicle was its looks, my friend’s opinion and of course, what members of the opposite sex would say when I rocked up in my sweet wheels. Now, in my thirties, with a seven-month-old in tow, what I want out of a vehicle is completely different.

Volkswagen Touareg

 

My daily “run around” is an SUV. I’m that guy who has, besides some dirt roads on a friend’s farm, never taken it off-road. Why? I don’t hunt or do “outdoorsy” stuff, simple. I’m a city dweller who is very happy to be eye level with taxi drivers. I also have the rear seat filled with toys to amuse a very cute human. So,  when the invite for the local launch of the new Volkswagen Touareg came into TheMotorist inbox, I was the first to put my hand up, naturally.

Volkswagen Touareg

In its third generation, the VW Touareg has grown up. Sharing its DNA with some of the biggest names in the field, namely the Bentley Bentayga, Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7. The new Touareg has all the underpinnings of a superstar. Having done my homework before the launch, to say that I was excited and had big expectations would be an understatement. On arrival, what strikes you from your first introduction is the presence the vehicle has. From its imposing grill accompanied with its vast use of chrome, the face of the Touareg is one that would be quite intimidating to see in your rear-view mirror. You take in its profile and you are greeted with a vehicle that clearly shows that good looks run in the family, as you see bits of the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne in its design.Volkswagen Touareg

Open the door and you’ll be very impressed. Its interior is one that is just sublime. From the materials used, to the layout of the infotainment screen, you may just find yourself thinking “what’s the lounge TV doing in the dashboard?” It’s that big. The screen is also angled toward the driver, cocooning you in tech – with minimal buttons to add to the very modern look. As stunning as this all this however,  you do wonder how many times you will have to wipe the screen to maintain this chicness. It’s a sacrifice worth paying however because it does make the cabin extra special.

Volkswagen Touareg

Under the bonnet:

Powering this new generation Touareg is a 3.0 V6 turbocharged diesel, the only engine to be offered by Volkswagen South Africa and for good reason. With 600Nm and 190kW, this power-plant isn’t shy when you call on the power. It arrives in waves, giving you the muscle you need to perform any overtaking manoeuvre, big or small. The reason for one engine to be offered? Demand. For a very long time, I have held the opinion that there isn’t a need for ridiculously powered SUVs. As fun as it may be to have all that power at your disposal, these are cars are meant to do the school and shopping run with entire families in them – so the real chances of exploiting that performance is minimal. As a result, VW have opted to go the practical route with its engine offering.

Volkswagen Touareg

My driving partner Sam Ayres and I got acquainted with this new vehicle in the leafy green province of Port Elizabeth with our end destination being Plettenberg Bay. We took off in the top of the range Executive with R-line package which was shod with the 20” wheels and tyres combination. With its air suspension (standard equipment on the Executive), ride was compliant and positive. Steering feedback is electric, but easy to place and the vehicle has a natural way of hiding its mass. After a few kilometres, the vehicle seems to shrink around you dynamically, giving you the impression of driving a rather spacious sedan – something the likes of BMW have done well over the years in their X5. This is a great compliment as a “tall SUV” doesn’t inspire confidence, whereas the new Touareg certainly does. With buttons being a thing of the past, you also find that the optional but very worth it “Innovision Cockpit” very intuitive. Especially after you’ve found the perfect way to personalise your Touareg. When nightfall happens, it looks like you are driving a vehicle from a sci-fi movie. With thirty interior colours to choose from, your young ones will have you planning your family trips at night, so that they can enjoy the show.

The Drive:

The drive to Plettenberg Bay included some forty kilometres on gravel roads with sharp hairpin corners to allow us to test the suspension. A simple switch over to the gravel/dirt setting on the air suspension and you’re good to go. The mighty diesel engine comes into its own and the suspension damping softens enough to not make you feel like you are doing something out of the ordinary.

Volkswagen Touareg

Along with offering just the one engine, you also only get two options of specification level. The Executive with the R Line package, as well as the Luxury. Both these packages come with a good amount of standard features, giving you a brief options list to choose from. My choice would be the Executive with the optional twenty-one-inch wheels to give it the “gangster look” a young dad would like. As mentioned, I don’t go off-road, so don’t worry about me getting a flat tyre in Sandton. This package comes with the host of driver assist features that are as long as the vehicle, namely Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Assist, Side Assist, Night Vision, Panoramic Sliding Roof, Discover Pro Navigation and and and.

Volkswagen Touareg

The result?

What we have now is a Volkswagen SUV that can take on the mighty BMW X5, Range Rover Sport as well as the Mercedes GLE in all aspects.  From a quality, performance, technology and overall appeal. It is still more understated than its rivals, but in a classy way. Being a Volkswagen, it won’t shock you from a price point of view either, which is good considering what SUVs cost today. Impressed is an understatement, Volkswagen have truly outdone themselves. We’ll take a Black one please!

 

New Volkswagen Touareg Pricing in South Africa

Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI 190kW (Luxury)                    R999 800

Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI 190kW (Executive)                R1 088 200

The new Touareg comes standard with a 5 year/100 000km Maintenance Plan, 3 year/120 000km warranty, 12-year anti-corrosion warranty and space saver spare wheel. Service Interval is 15 000km.

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…

Take Off Your Blinkers – Volkswagen Arteon Driven

Volkswagen Arteon

We Drive the New Volkswagen Arteon

Let’s face it, VW’s Passat was one of its least-loved vehicles. It reminds me of those movies which feature that one workmate which no one gets along with. However, when given the chance, you find out that Gwendoline has a wicked sense of humour and has stories from all her travels around the world. She is awesome and you wish that you had given her a chance all these years.Well, just like in Hollywood movie, Gwendoline has a life makeover, changes her appearance, loses a ton of weight and changes her name to “G Money” and the office is a buzz with the new staff member that they have. All the girls want to be her and the guys want to date her. Well, ladies and gentlemen, we give you the new Volkswagen Arteon.

Volkswagen Arteon

Brand new from the ground up, the “Sport Coupe GTE” wowed the crowds at its premiere in 2015 but normally, when vehicle looks that good, you expect the manufacturer to tone it down with the final production model and give you something that was in-line with the design cues but not the car that caused you to have it as a screen saver on your laptop. No, not this time my fellow car people! If you pull up the pictures from 2015, the vehicle looks 99% identical to the vehicle that is now in front of me.

We got the grips with this brand-new vehicle at Volkswagen’s head office in Sandton and after the media briefing, which I missed as I was in awe as to how stunning this car is, we were thrown into peak hour Sandton traffic on route to our drive event, hosted at Swartkops raceway. Two engines are on offer from launch and my driving partner and I were in the 2.0 TDI DSG, with 350Nm of torque and 130kW. This ensured that we not only kept up with traffic, but also ushered people out of the fast lane as the diesel motor has a wide spread of torque in any gear, and was a peach to drive. I must say that I am one of the petrol heads that has seen the light, for a daily commuter I see the benefit of the diesel motor and with this current crop of diesels around, it’s amazing that people still have a petrol vehicle for the daily commute. But then again, I do understand why this specific petrol motor was included in the fold. With 206kW and with the same torque as the diesel, this is for the corporate racer that wants the Golf R feel in a premium skin.

Volkswagen Arteon

As is my custom, the first drive was handled by my co-pilot and was thoroughly impressed by the infotainment system and layout of the whole cabin. Its beyond spacious and due to it being front wheel drive, it lacks the transmission tunnel which plagues most of the vehicle in this class-it was refreshing to find so much space in the rear. On arriving at Swartkops, we were given a breakdown of the design features of the Arteon and saw how the designers have stayed so close to the concept. Tip from VW, if your concept receives as much praise theirs did, don’t stray and then you keep your clients base happy. Speaking of clients…

The Arteon is aimed at the mid exec class so it comes into the BMW 3 series, Mercedes C Class and Cousin Audi A4 fold in terms of product placement. Now this is where we as South Africans need to strip our biases aside. Traditionally, in the buying cycle of a client, we go from the first car, into a mid-sized hatch or small sedan. VW has no problem with those clients as that’s where the first introduction happened and Polo Vivo and Golf sales speak for themselves. The issue happens when clients go from say a Golf GTI to something else as normally, circumstances necessitate a sedan and the “German Three” are the default. This is where the Arteon comes in. With the Arteon being such a formidable contender VW need to do all that they can to showcase that as they now have a vehicle that can stand toe to toe with the stalwarts of this segment, but its also up to the consumer to take off their blinkers and look at what other options that they have in this segment.

Volkswagen Arteon

We have the pleasure of finding out the handling capabilities of the Arteon at the track and was pleasantly surprised as to how little body roll there was and yes, being front wheel drive for the diesel and 4Motion for the petrol, there was some understeer which that came to the fore when pushed hard, something that if you are doing on public roads, you deserve to have your tyres humbled by the pavement.

So, VW now have a serious contender for the premium segment and if marketed well and clients get to experience the vehicle, there will a lot more on the road and from the day and a half that we spent with the Arteon, you will be making the right choice. G Money will change your perspective for the good!

Another Mad McLaren! Meet the McLaren 600LT

McLaren 600LT

Another Mad McLaren. Meet the 600LT.

If you are anything like me, you probably had serious FOMO over the past few days, as your Instagram feed was filled with images and videos of the McLaren Senna – being driven around the Estoril race track for the launch in Portugal. And what a car it is, some say its ugly, but I say its capabilities make it beautiful. We are not here to talk about the Senna however, we are here to talk about the latest model to McLarens Sports Series range – the McLaren 600LT.

At first glance, your mind may fill you with images of the 570s and tell you that this vehicle looks remarkability similar to it. It does, until you start to stare and not simply glance. You see, LT stands for Longtail, and this is the fourth McLaren in history to feature this iconic name. What is a Longtail all about? Better aerodynamics, increased power, reduced weight, track-focused dynamics and enhanced driver engagement.

McLaren 600LT

While based on a 570S Coupe, the 600LT is 74mm longer and a staggering 96kg lighter. Weight reduction is achieved through carbon-fibre racing seats and carbon-fibre bodywork, even the unique top-exit exhausts offer a substantial weight saving. Let’s talk about the good stuff, 441kW and 620Nm from the 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine. This increased power output coupled with the weight saving and uprated aerodynamics go hand in hand with forged aluminium double-wishbone suspension, a lightweight braking system, bespoke track-focused Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres and quicker steering and throttle response setup.

McLaren 600LT

The McLaren 600LT on paper should deliver a fantastic driving experience on and off the racetrack, which is in essence what a LT is all about. Let’s just take a moment to admire the top-exit exhaust system…

McLaren 600LT

McLaren 600LT Pricing in South Africa.

Each and every 600LT will be hand built in the UK, while volume will also be strictly limited. Production will begin in October 2018 and last for around 12 months. Pricing is from £185, 500 – which at the time of writing converts to R3,3 Million.