Tag: Car releases

Living with the legacy of a local legend – the VW Golf 8 GTI

It takes generations to build up a near-immortal legacy with an adoring customer base at the core. In Mzansi, there are staples for different types of mobility where everything else in the segment becomes an outlier. Our go-to bakkie is the Hilux while the Golf GTI is glorified in its hot hatch segment. We lived with the 8th generation of the beloved German derivative to see if the recipe has deviated from its predecessors.

Volkswagen may not have been the first automaker to culminate the recipe of the hot hatch many decades ago, but the Giugiaro penned GTI MK1 from 1975 was perhaps the most refined option to enter the mainstream market. It gained instant success for being sports-car fun with a supermarket price tag. By definition, the GTI is a fast Golf which is inherently an economy hatch built to appeal to the masses. While the sales of normal hatches dwindling in comparison to their SUV siblings on an annual basis, the hot hatch remains a symbol of success and prosperity in South Africa in a hotly contested market. None can portray this individually better than the GTI.

But is the new generation any good? If you are dreading reading an in-depth article with tabulated statistics about the performance and engine upgrades that have been implemented in the new model you will be relieved to know that the new GTI is much the same underneath as the 7th generation. That was launched in 2012 and that was a long time ago, so naturally technology has changed quite a bit. For context, we still had Blackberry as a primary cellular device when the Golf 7 GTI was launched. The trustworthy cast iron EA888 series motor resumes its service while our test car implemented the same 7-speed DSG as transmission from before. 

The 2.0l turbocharged engine now develops 180kW with a torque peak of 370Nm, an 11kW improvement in power over its predecessor. This means it has a claimed sprint to 100km/h from stationery in 6.4 seconds which is the same as its predecessor. So, where has almost a decade of development gone into? Well, Volkswagen are at the forefront of committing to future electrification, especially after the Dieselgate scandal and reprimand. This means that budget is being channelled into optimising the efficiency and longevity of their existing powertrain range as there is little interest in developing future internal combustion engines. 

In other words, the production of the 8th generation GTI has been streamlined and the build complexity has been reduced which in turn should keep true to its identity of affordable performance. A base spec GTI is priced from R669 300 while an endless list of additional features like IQ. Light, Harman Kardon Sound and a Tilting and sliding panoramic sunroof can push the price all the way up to R800k. Our test car was fortunately fitted with all of the niceties which do improve the lavish GTI experience. The price includes a 3 year/120 000km warranty, 5 year/90 000km service plan and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty.

While performance has been slightly improved, more strict conditions over emissions have been implemented too. This means from both within and outside the cabin, the resounding and iconic VRR-PHA has been muted significantly. The entire exhaust system for that matter seems restricted by mandated filters and catalytic converters but that is nothing that entrepreneurial locals can’t resolve with a software update and enlarged downpipes. 

The underwhelming symphony is not where it ends unfortunately. It’s just not a very inspiring car to drive. Don’t get me wrong – it’s quick and has the ability to get you into a lot of trouble very quickly but it feels numb to experience, devoid of character and enthusiasm. What the experience does yield however is a forgiving hot hatch that does not have the exciting boy-racer torque steer of its competitors but a refined and comfortable drive that is more civilized for everyday use. It will also get you a lot of nods and looks from pedestrians and opportunistic souped-up cars yearning for a highway drag race while running your errands.

While this 8th generation is the most digitally advanced generation of GTI ever produced, much of the interior tech is swing and miss. They have done away with physical buttons and replaced almost every interface with touch capacitive functionality. While they instill a futuristic aesthetic to the cabin, they can be frustrating to interact with. There are buttons directly below the infotainment screen which make operation during driving near impossible without accidentally bumping the heat adjustment function and bringing up the climate control screen.

What we found particularly annoying was the heated steering button on the steering wheel, which is inconveniently placed where the palm of the hand meets the protrusion of the thumb. Regardless of how enthusiastically you yank the steering wheel, any movement seems to engage the haptic touch surface and render the steering wheel hotter than a mid-summer Pretoria day. You will be constantly fiddling with the haptic surface to view the drivers display in an attempt to disengage the untouchable steering wheel. 

While this is still in essence still as good as you expect a GTI to be, it will always be judged not only according to its competitors but also against what the nameplate signifies in terms of the previous generations. Look at the 8 GTI as a tech elevated, although slightly gimmicky version of its all-round fantastic predecessor. It does everything really well and makes important strides in refinement and technology over its predecessor, but it doesn’t give you the fizz the way previous generations have. If you are a diehard VW aficionado looking for more thrill, your money may be better spent on a low mileage 7.5 GTI TCR, or for an out of the box, fun, boy-racer inspired hot hatch then the BMW 128ti is also certainly worth a look!

A baby V10 with a drift mode – the new Audi RS3

Iconic is the appropriate word to describe the in-line 5 cylinder motor that has powered Audis benchmark cars for the better part of the last 40 years. Among its favorable characteristics, one of the more memorable is its deep resonance when the motor is at full throttle, especially when paired with a 1980 WRC archive film of a fire breathing Quattro on a rally special stage. Well, the popular compact sedan/hatch combo from the Ingolstadt manufacturer has undergone a generation change. Fortunately for the power hungry enthusiasts with a limited budget, it is retaining the iconic motor with a slight improvement in power and efficiency and beefed up looks! 

The compact Audi offerings will share many similarities to their trailblazing forefather that forged a legacy in rallying, although somewhat tweaked. Equipped first and foremost with the familiar 2.5-liter TFSI motor which has won the “International Engine of the Year” award nine times in a row, mild performance improvements increase ratings to a maximum of 294 kW and 500Nm. As a bonus to this additional power, the exhaust system features a fully variable flap control system that supports intermediate positions which lets the 5 cylinder sing with less restraint.

This power and torque propels the four door, four ring, four wheel driven machine to 100km/h in 3.8 seconds – worthy of out-accelerating modern day supercars. The new RS3 has a maximum top speed of 290km/h in the RS Dynamic package which means it’s capable of keeping up with the aforementioned supercars too. All of these stats make the new model class leading in terms of top speed and acceleration. 

Transferring the power to all four wheels is a fairly standard 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. However the rear axle differential is replaced with a standard-equipped RS torque splitter which optimally distributes power along the rear axle which improves cornering grip and traction. This also allows the RS3 to engage a rubber destroying drift mode for the hoonigans out there. 

Speaking of tyres, the novel innovation found in the RS performance mode included in the model is created specifically for the racetrack. Changing the engine and transmission characteristics to be tailor suited to semi-slick tyres – a factory option first time. This really is shaping up to be a racecar for the road! 

The exterior aesthetics are expected, continuing the silhouette of the outgoing model and very subtle changes to the styling – this is still easily comparable to its predecessor in other words. What does stand out for this model is the lighting, something Audi always has a pioneering preference for. The most significant are the daytime running lights and dynamic turn signals which are programmed to present the RS3 lettering and a chequered flag as a dynamic leaving and coming home scene. Superior matrix LED headlights are available as an option for greater illuminative clarity.  

The significantly different design feature from the outgoing model is the air outlet element behind the widened front wheel arches – Audi Quattro much?! This is done to help accommodate the 33mm wider front axle track to the previous model. Within those arches are 19-inch wheels while a six piston steel or ceramic brake system is protected within the confines of the spokes. 

Sebastian Grams, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH states that “They represent the entry point into our RS world and are premium sports cars that are suitable for everyday use and equally thrilling to drive on public roads and racetracks” 

While both sedan and sportback are already selling in Europe, Mzanzi will receive both derivatives in the second half of 2022. With a price tag of €60 000 for the Sportback and €62 000 for the sedan, South Africans could be expected to pay anywhere north of R1,2 million to get behind the wheel of one. While Audi may no longer be winning on rally stages, the RS3 should continue to be a winning formula for sales numbers into the RS world. 

Hyundai Increase Tucson Range with Diesel Models

The Hyundai Tucson has proven to be a very popular car in 2016 and was also recently named a finalist for the SGMJ Car Of The Year 2017. The Tucson may now appeal to an even broader market as Hyundai have introduced a further two models in the Tucson range.

The first of these new diesel models is the Tucson 1.7 executive turbodiesel producing 85kw and 280Nm of torque, which will peak between 1250 – 2750rpm. The 1.7 Executive is fitted with a 6-speed manual gearbox and will have a starting price of R439,000.

tucson_urban_02

The second model is the Tucson R2.0 Elite, featuring a 2L turbodiesel producing 130kw and 400Nm of torque, peaking low in the rev range between 1750-2750rpm.  This model will feature all the standard options which are supplied with the Elite petrol variants, including 18″ alloy wheels. The R2.0 Elite model will feature a six-speed automatic gearbox and will start at R519,000.

Hyundai’s 5-year/150 000 km manufacturer’s warranty, enhanced by the additional new groundbreaking 7-years/200 000 km drivetrain warranty, comes standard with the all-new Hyundai Tucson package, as well as roadside assistance for 5-years or 150 000 km.

tucson_interior_01-copy