Tag: Car Reviews South Africa

New Volkswagen Polo vs Peugeot 208 GT-Line

Volkswagen Polo

New Volkswagen Polo v Peugeot 208 GT-Line

“Cool”, “eye-catching” and “snazzy” are just a few words than can be used to describe both Volkswagen’s new Polo and the updated Peugeot 208 GT-Line. These hatchbacks play in a competitive market, each manufacturer has their own version of what they perceive that market wants. For those looking in this segment, there needs to be a balance between fun factor, functionality, technology, practically and appearance – a tough ask in my opinion. That being said, a lot of those attributes are on offer in many cars operating in that segment. So, building a hatchback that meets those requirements is easy, but selling it in South Africa is a different story. In a country where the Volkswagen Polo is the bread and butter, how does the “Frenchie” stack up? Let’s get down and dirty.

Peugeot 208

Looks

This reminds me of the common topic of argument among boys and men. Jennifer Anniston or Angela Jolie? They are both beautiful women in different ways. The same rings true with the new Polo and Peugeot 208. The Polo, on the one hand features an edgy design which gives off a “young professional” look. The 208 GT Line on the other hand is curvier and quirkier, creating a fun overall appearance.

Volkswagen Polo

Interior and Technology

While both vehicles boast good quality interiors, the experience is totally different. The new Polo features a typically clean Volkswagen look and the 8” Composition Media display really adds a nice premium touch. It’s also built into the dashboard resulting in a classy, clean look. Opting for the optional Active Info Display further adds to the premium feel of the new Polo cabin, the 11” display replaces conventional dashboard dials and provides a completely different interface for the driver. This option brings features not normally associated with a hatchback in this segment.

Jumping in to the 208 GT Line results in an unusual but sportier environment. The dashboard is high, the steering wheel is small and located particularly low. After a short while pulling leavers and twisting nobs, I found a low seated driving position that I enjoyed. The sporty appeal, supportive seats and small diameter steering wheel offer something different from the Polo and once you’ve settled in, it becomes rather enjoyable.

Both cars offer Apple CarPlay, (Android auto is compatible but still not available in ZA) but in terms of usability and interface responsiveness, the VW Polo comes out on top.

Driving

The 208 produces a nippy 81Kws of power and has a nimble chassis. The front end of this vehicle stood out to me as it was very positive and provides plenty of grip. Combine this with the sporty driving position and driving 208 GT Line is a fun affair. If you are one who enjoys a good twisty road, the 208 might be your weapon of choice. The manual variant in the Peugeot is what we preferred, as the automatic had a mind of its own. On the other hand the DSG gearbox in the Polo is class leading and definitely the one to get, especially if traffic is a reality of your life.

When it comes to the Polo, it produces 85Kw and is slightly calmer in its approach. It’s the more grown up car out of the two and doesn’t have as much of a sporty appeal, but rather a gentleman-like persona (The optional R-Line package may spice things up). I say this a lot, but the Polo has a young professional aura about it, which is excellent for the “up and coming”.

What you choose depends on the type of person you are. Both the Volkswagen Polo and the Peugeot 208 GT Line are good cars, they both look great, drive well and offer unique packages as well as a host of tech. A major factor for consideration is what sells more. The simple rule of thumb is, “if it sells more, it will trade in better” – supply and demand. Looking at Polo sales compared to the Peugeot in that aspect makes it the obvious choice for when you want to sell it. If you’re buying with your heart however, you may be swayed by the appeal of the Peugeot, it is a great looking car after all. That being said, the Polo is rather handsome as well. Choose wisely.

 

Peugeot 208 Pricing in South Africa

208 ACTIVE 1.2 PureTech BVM 60kW MT                  R 224 900

208 ALLURE 1.2 PureTech BVM 60kW MT                 R 239 900

208 GT-LINE 1.2 PureTech BVM 81kW Turbo MT       R 259 900

Pricing includes a three-year/100 000 km warranty and 3 year/ 45 000km service plan.

Ends

 

Volkswagen Polo Pricing in South Africa

1.0 TSI 70kW Trendline                                     R 235 900

1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline                                 R 264 700

1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline DSG                         R 280 700

1.0 TSI 85kW Highline                                      R 286 200

1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSG                              R 302 200

The new Volkswagen Polo models come standard with a 3 year/45 000km Service Plan, 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty. Service Interval is 15 000km.

 

We drive the Ford Fiesta ST200

Driven Review on the Ford Fiesta ST200

Ford Fiesta ST200 South Africa

Ford celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Fiesta and what better way to send off the Mk7 Fiesta than with something really special? Say hello to the new Fiesta ST200. Only 160 units of these are coming to South Africa so it is going to be rare to see one. Nonetheless, Ford has already revealed the new ST overseas, so at least we know we won’t be waiting almost 5 years for the ST after the launch of the standard Fiesta, as we did with the Mk7 Fiesta ST.

Of course, this is a more powerful version of the outgoing Fiesta ST. In fact, this is the most powerful Fiesta Ford has ever built. The normal ST already has the ability to set excite, with its thrilling dynamics and cheeky performance figures. Things get even better as the ST200 produces 149 kW and 290 N.m in a car the size of a toddlers shoe. These numbers are impressive, considering the size of the car, so much so the top speed has been limited to 230 km/h,.

The result? An authentic hot hatch experience. Ford hasn’t strayed from the classic recipe of the ST, so it still gives you the thrills you want. The car feels more alive and in the bends, it doesn’t have any signs of a struggling front-end due to more power and torque. During brisk pull-offs, the overboost function comes in handy with an additional 11 kW and 30 N.m of torque on the last set of gears, so all-in-all, a whopping 160 kW and 320 N.m is produced. Ford also took the liberty of improving the final drive ratio from 3.82 to 4.06, so that the car can make the most out of the extra power. For those that don’t know what that means, this then shortens the gear changes and improves in-gear acceleration. It’s even quicker off the line, getting to 100 km/h in 6.7 seconds.

Ford Fiesta ST200 South AfricaFord has also worked on the damping of this new ST200, so it’s way more forgiving than the normal ST. It has relaxed dampers and an added new rear twist beam so it’s now even easier to live with, as the ride is not as harsh as it used to be. It is however still stiff enough for when you want to give it the “full beans”. The way the car puts its power down is great, the torque vectoring trickery that Ford uses is still brilliant. After exiting any corner the power is right behind you, to pull you out of any messy situation. The steering is also ever so sharp, the accuracy of it as well as the power delivery works hand well to give the an engaging experience that makes you smile. Overall the car provides accessible performance whilst maintaining the visceral elements you desire in a compact hot hatch.
Ford Fiesta ST200 South AfricaInterior wise, nothing much has changed, but Ford has added a few leather patches on the Recaro heated seats. However, my precious mother battled to fit in the bucket seats and as a result sat on the seat and not in it. The fascia remains the same and the display screen is still quite small. This can be forgiven because this is not a new car, it’s the last hoorah of this generation, so we can only expect an updated cabin in the following ST. Exterior bits include a rather nice looking storm grey paint finish, black 17-inch alloy wheels added to the already standard Fiesta ST go-faster/boy racer looks, completed with an ST200 badge in the rear.

Ford Fiesta ST200 South Africa

This ST is arguably one of the best cars in its segment and it has been outdone by this final iteration. This car also offers great value for money with a price tag of R339 900. The current Fiesta was the one we waited for in this segment, previous models models were never the best of the bunch but the mk7 proved sceptics wrong. The ST200 then is a brilliant way to bid farewell, may the next one keep it up.


Siya Manzini 

Junior Writer

 

BMW takes the M240i to the next level with the Performance edition.

BMW M240i Performance edition

BMW M240I Performance Edition

BMW’s introduction of the M240i to replace the already properly good M235i resulted in rather strange squeaks of elation from the BMW fanboys that popularised it. Boasting a brand new B58 motor with rather serious power figures, to the tune of 250kw and 500nm being pumped to the rear wheels.  Mated to a slick 8-speed auto, 0-100 is dispatched in 4.6 seconds and glue the back of your head to the seat as it draws you closer to the horizon until you hit the limiter at 250km/h.

This was combined with the light weight chassis that oozes the proper M car dynamics, much like its more expensive relatives and the straight line clout to keep a list of thoroughbreds humble.  The M240i is an incredible package, with enough driving prowess to make it a worthy of the M badging that litters the cabin and exterior. All of this and a soundtrack that sounds like the smashed dreams of the fallen GTI’s in its wake – It’s damn good.

BMW M240I Performance Edition

In the quest for individualisation, BMW has introduced the Performance edition of the favoured couple. The limited run vehicle will feature an Alpine White paint job with matte black accents, namely the front kidney grill and front spoiler. A set of 19inch Bicolour Orbit Grey wheels with diamond polished sides will replace the 18’s of the standard model. The enhanced aerodynamic front splitter, air guides and rear diffuser are made entirely of carbon fibre and add to the sporty nature. The use of carbon fibre also extends to the door mirrors and the exhaust tail pieces which feature ‘M’ motifs.

BMW M240I Performance Edition

750 Performance editions will leave the Leipzig plant in Germany with availability from July of 2017. Much like the option of Xdrive all-wheel drive, the Performance edition is exclusive to the international market and sadly won’t be reaching our sunny shores, but with the standard models offering a range of M performance bolt on parts as accessories from dealers, the grin on your face will help you forget all about the performance edition and will happily go about setting your pants on fire.

BMW M240I Performance Edition

Khanye Ngwenya

Khanye.ngwenya89@gmail.com

+27

 

We drive the new Suzuki Ignis

Suzuki Ignis

On launch with the new Suzuki Ignis

I would have loved to have been in the room when the briefing on the new Suzuki Ignis was created. It would have been quite the meeting when the car designs came in. It would have been a shock, but a good one, I thought as I sat on a flight from Jozi Town to the beautiful, but waterless Cape Town for the local media launch of Suzuki’s latest vehicle!

We arrived in a semi-wet Cape Town in the evening and then made our way to a studio which could only be described as a “watch this space” moment for SA television where the Ignis launch happened. Besides the culling of a few local beers from the waiter, the night ran without glitch and when the Ignis was revealed halfway through a light supper, we were greeted by a design that is nothing short of amazing and youthful, backed by one of my favorite tunes, “Hey Hey” by Dennis Ferrer danced to by some “Panstula dancers”.

So, what do you get with this new offering from our Japanese friends? For a price of R169 000 of your hard earned Madiba’s, you get a Crossover hatchback with the 1.2-litre four-pot, an engine from the Suzuki Swift, with a power output of 61 kW and 113 N.m and yes, this won’t get you a new quarter mile record, but will keep up with traffic surprisingly well, and that is aided by having a kerb weight of just 850 kilograms. This translated into some good fuel numbers too, but to be honest, pointed into some curvy roads in the Cape, that went out of the window as we wanted to see what this little offering from Suzuki could do. This little car has a design that is robust and harks back to Suzuki’s from yesteryear.

Suzuki Ignis

In the Cape air, the little Suzuki Ignis immediately blazed its way from the beautiful accommodation in Tableview towards wine county. From a convenience perspective, you immediately feel at home as all you need is your phone cable and the vehicle comes alive as you have connection with ease. Being six foot and still carrying weight from December, space is not an issue but I did fail the “sit behind you test” thanks to my awkward torso to leg ratio. The model that we had was the GLX version which is the top of range model. The motor is the same but the changes are the spec level and for the extra amount of R20 000, you get among other things, LED headlights, as well as daytime running lights, folding electric mirrors, auto aircon, you get the drift. For an entry level vehicle, the Ignis is very well specced and you find yourself lacking for very little. Chasing the Suzuki Ignis through some very windy roads, highlighted that you will not be getting a dull drive. Most cars in this segment suffer from a surprising amount of understeer dialed into the chassis for safety reasons but we found this little car to be very flat though the corners and would welcome more power to explore the chassis a bit more.

There is an auto variant of the Ignis which Suzuki does stress is not a conventional Auto with a torque convertor but rather, a manual clutch system that has it clutch operated by robotics. All I could hear here was BMW’s SMG gearbox that had you nodding all over town and almost crashing while trying to parallel park. Hopefully, this will not be the case with the Suzuki Ignis and we will get to sample this gearbox in due course. We ended up at a wine farm which was a lunch and wine tasting (read responsible) were at the backdrop of one if the oldest family run wine farms in South Africa, the Ignis was right at home. We left the venue running slightly behind schedule heading direction airport and this spirited drive through some glorious roads proved that this will be a loved little car that will be fun to drive on a daily basis.

Knowing the South African market, Suzuki needs to market this little car well as if people get to experience it, they will sell loads of these. Being a car community that is very brand conscious who tends to favour the hijack favorite Polo Vivo, people need to look at other makes and realise that there is life, and awesome cars outside Germany and this little Ignis proves that. You get Japanese reliability, cheeky and quirky design and the 2017 European World Urban Car of the year and you have a recipe for success. Open your eyes SA, you have and awesome little car right under your noses. Test-drive one and see what we are talking about!

Is the BMW 440i Coupe a poor man’s M4?

BMW 440i Coupe South Africa

Poor mans M4? Our thoughts on the new BMW 440i Coupe

I read somewhere that the BMW 440i Coupe was referred to as the poor man’s M4. This unfortunately highlights the gap in knowledge that this person has regarding the differences between these two variants from BMW.

Look at this example, you have two sons from the same parents who are quite close in age. As they get older, one is built like a rugby player and loves sports, while the other one is leaner takes up piano lessons. The one brother has a taste for Sade, Norah Jones and UB40, while the other is a David Guetta and fan and attends a festival known as “Ultra”. As much as they come from the same family, have the same DNA and a similar disposition, they differ immensely in terms of personality, interests and even appearance.

BMW 440i Coupe South Africa

That is exactly what happened in Bavaria between these two six-cylinder siblings. The 440i is the all round nice guy, who is a gentleman and still opens the door for his lady.  The M4 on other hand is the rebel. This is the one that will string along a couple of girls and be out until 05:00 but still make it for gym at 06:30. Thereafter, this will be followed by his business presentation in front of the board at 09:00.

That’s who these two cars are aimed at, different people who have wildly different tastes. Having sampled the previous 435i (for two years actually) most things seem quite the same. It was when I got into the BMW 440i Coupe, hit that Start button and fired the new in-line six, that I felt something had changed. A deeper, more throatier noise came from the dual exhausts and it immediately gets the blood flowing smoothly. From take off, as well as driving in traffic, the change is quite apparent, all thanks to the new engine. The new 440i sports what the Bavarian’s call the B58 in-line 6 cylinder. Yes this is similar to the previous engine but features lighter materials and increased power, an extra 15 kW and 50 N.m to be exact. The result is a “smooth as butter” 240kW and 450Nm power-plant. This doesn’t sound like much of an improvement but trust me, it is.

BMW 440i Coupe South Africa

From just beyond tick over the torque makes itself known and you can ride the wave and drive the vehicle briskly, without having the tachometer even brush the naughty side of 4 500 rpm. This is unlike the M4, which tends to spike in torque, causing fun yet unexpected oversteer. The 440i is sharp when you need it to be and in my opinion pips the M4 on everyday drivability. It is able to put its power down more comfortably and with more confidence than its more muscular brother.

Styling revisions have been made in line with the engine change as well. This can be seen in tweaked front and rear bumpers, more pronounced front and rear LED lights and an array of new colours from BMW’s new colour palette. Inside, the revisions continue with the new iDrive system, similar to the one found in the G30 5 Series. Further to this, the dash has the option of the new Multi-function display which seems to raise cabin standards to spaceship chic. A must if you ask me.

BMW 440i Coupe South Africa

The drive as mentioned is just superb. Power is delivered through the familiar BMW channels. An Eight speed Sport Auto from ZF which links to the rear axle, leaving the front end with the simple job of steering. This setup seems like it’s going to be a rare thing in the future, with sports cars and sports sedans giving you more power than sense. Communication from the front axle is good, but I would have liked a more communicative steering. Understandably, the setup is orientated more to comfort as the majority of drivers won’t care for the feeling us journalists want. In fairness, the BMW does a good job of letting you know how much grip the front end has in brisk driving scenarios. BMW’s have always been tail-happy and the 440i is no exception. Turn in into some of your favourite corners and you can feel the rear come alive and the traction control light flicker. The driving modes, Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus change the characteristics of the car, specifically Sport Plus mode. In this mode, the threshold for the DSC has been moved slightly so you can explore the limits of mechanical grip without hurting yourself. 

BMW 440i Coupe South Africa

Overall, the BMW 440i coupe is a package that is very hard to beat. It’s quick with 0-100km/h done in just  5,2 seconds. It’s balanced and will give you all you need for everyday use in a package that is easy to work with. The car allows you to build your confidence and enjoy it, even if you’re a novice. That is where you start seeing the difference again in personality. The 440i is the car you want to drive to nine tenths everyday, something that you cannot do in the M4 which requires a skill set that the average driver does not possess. If you used the same driving principles from the 440i in the M4, it would end in a spectacularly bad fashion, one that would get a couple hundred thousand views on Youtube. Is it then the poor man’s M4? Not at all! It’s the sensible man’s everyday sports coupe.

 

9 reasons why the Polo R Line is the perfect premium city car.

VW Polo R Line in South Africa

VW Polo R Line: The perfect premium city hatchback?

Volkswagen’s latest Polo, the Polo R line edition could be described as the perfect premium city hatchback. Here are 9 reasons to back this statement up:

 

  • 3 Cylinder Engine

The 1.0-litre 3-cylinder engine featured in the Polo R produces 81 kW and 160 N.m. This small engine provides zippy performance and is very quiet in the lower rev range. Its perfect for the city hussle and bussle.

  • DSG Gearbox

The DSG gearbox in the Polo R line takes the annoyance away of gear changing, something which gets emphasized in city traffic. Its delicately smooth and has a sports option if you’re feeling a little cheeky.

 

  • Fuel Economy

With 4.4 l/100km combined in the fuel economy department, the Polo R Line will cut back your fuel bills and help the environment thanks to only having 3-cylinders. Give this little car some right foot though and you might find that number start to rise – these little engines tend to drink fuel when pushed.

  • Styling

The Polo R line is graced with its very own R line bodykit which gives a much bolder and sportier look over a standard Polo. It also comes standard with 17” Serron alloys. This Polo definitely looks the part for the modern city, especially in our test colour of Flash Red. Most off all, it still looks smart, neat and professional.

  • Media Interface

Our Polo R line featured the Composition Media Package which provides 6 good quality speakers, a large display, a mobile phone interface and a USB and auxiliary input. It is a fantastic premium system with lots of onboard vehicle related tech such as the blue economy driving system.Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Taking the media interface one step further is the integrated mobile systems. For example, plug in your iPhone and an Apple’s CarPlay interface is displayed on screen which allows access to music, maps, messages and more through an interface you understand and enjoy.

  • Parking

Being a Polo, it’s small and nimble which makes it a breeze to park and fit into small spaces. Aiding the driver further with this is front and rear parking sensors, along with a reverse camera.

  • Premium Features

The Polo R line features other premium options such as LED headlights, the light & vision package which features auto dimming rear view mirror, a rain sensor and automatic headlights. This car also features an electric sunroof with set modes for different levels of opening all controlled by a nifty roof mounted nozzle.

  • Price

Our test Volkswagen Polo R Line is priced at R290 000 which we think is great considering the premium options. For that price, you get a very nice city car with some very cool options for the young person, which adds style and makes your life easier.

After spending a week in the new Volkswagen Polo R line, we think it is a great car for the city, it stands out and gives you some nice premium features. It is definitely a really good option for the young and trendy South African wanting to look professional while making their way up in the world.

Volvo S90 T6 vs S90 D5 : Same but very different

VOLVO S90 T6

Volvo S90 T6 v S90 D5 : What would you choose?

I recently posted an article on the Volvo S90 D5, and found that in the short, the car was very relaxing to drive and instilled a calmness on the driver. A short while after testing the S90 D5, I jumped into the T6 variant of the Volvo S90.

This relaxed, sensible feeling which I felt in the D5 was something which wasn’t really present in the Volvo S90 T6 AWD version of the S90. We could probably put this down to its Twin-charged 235 kW and 200 N.m 2.0-litre engine. By Twin Charged, I mean it features a supercharger for low down power up to 3500 rpm whereafter a turbocharger kicks in for the remainder of the rev range.

This makes for a very exciting, progressive and boy racer ish Volvo S90. Along with a 0-100 km/h time of 5.9 seconds, comes a beautiful sound, starting with the classic supercharger whine and ending with a turbocharged growl – not quite what you’d expect from a luxury Volvo sedan.

Along with the sound comes acceleration which is sweet, smooth, linear and above all, pretty addictive. I can’t give you the fuel economy figures during my test as it would be somewhat unfair, but then again, one doesn’t buy this variant of the S90 with fuel economy in mind. Volvo claim 7.2 litres/100km combined, which is believable if you don’t have a right foot like mine.

Apart from the performance aspect, everything else is pretty much the same as the D5 in terms of the styling, luxury and interior. Speaking of the interior, the T6 featured an Amber in Charcoal interior. It is beautiful, especially when offset with the Onyx Black exterior paint.

I noticed something worrying though in that a car that has less than 5000 km on the clock should not have scuff marks on the edges of these warm orange seats. It seems like jeans have been rubbing off onto the leather. This is sad as it is such a beautiful colour to have.

What do you choose?

The best way I can describe the difference between these two cars is by comparing them to myself and my younger brother, Dan.

Dan is the sporty and adventurous type, he likes to compete in marathon long off-road obstacle races, jump off very high cliffs into water and partake in many other sports. He is also a natural at these things, along with being cocky and brash. He is very S90 T6, exciting, raring to go at anytime, but still an Ayres.

Now I used to love all of the above, (baring the cliff jumping) and I still do to a certain extent but I am a married man now, grown up and much more sensible and relaxed. I would be more likened to the Volvo S90 D5.

Many would assume that the T6 is the older brother to the S90 D5, because of its bigger engine and higher power production, but they would be wrong. The Volvo S90 T6 is definitely the feisty, exciting younger brother, whereas the D5 is a mellowed, more chilled out version of the same genetics.

Volvo S90 D5 Review

What you choose as a buyer then really depends what you are looking for, the T6 will definitely appeal to a younger audience, perhaps buyers who would look at a BMW 540i for example. Whereas the D5 is car which is more suited to highways and long distance driving where you don’t want the temptation of a Supercharger/Turbocharger spurring you to ruin that sweet 5.0l/100km fuel rating.

Having said all of the above, though, the S90 T6 is definitely my choice.

 

Our first drive of the Facelifted VW Golf 7.5 GTI

VW Golf 7.5 GTI

South African Launch: Facelifted VW Golf 7.5 GTI

 

Whenever a new Golf is launched, there is excitement beyond belief. First and foremost, it’s been widely regarded as the benchmark in its class and for good reason. Its brilliant! Whether you are starting a new job, transporting kids to and from school, or want a car so that you can have space for your grandkids, it’s the best all-rounder and has remained that way for the last couple of decades. The latest version, or “facelift” in normal terms may be a slight improvement on the current Golf 7, but those small changes make for strides in comfort, luxury and of cause, sportiness.

Updated VW Golf GTI

We flew out to Port Elizabeth to sample the latest version and more specifically, the GTI and my oh my. It’s like your hot friend that was already a looker but decided to go and get a trainer  for a full year, and has come back looking like a model for GQ magazine.

The changes to the new  VW Golf 7.5 GTI are small, but they certainly make you notice it. The “GTI Line” in red now gets broken up and hugs the new LED headlights. Traces of the honeycomb grille finish off the bottom of the LEDs and give the eyes a more aggressive look. The front and rear bumper have also been tweaked for a sportier appeal with the cherry on top being  the new lights with progressive indicators. Small changes as mentioned, but overall, a more svelte athlete.

Updated VW Golf GTI

In the interior, you are immediately greeted by the new LCD electronic display in the instrument binacle which can be adjusted to suit. The examples that we sampled featured  the Discover Pro Navigation, in which the maps and directions sit right in between the rev counter and tachometer for easy viewing. The Discover Pro Navigation also comes with a 9.2-inch screen for vehicle operation with full touch and gesture control. With my basketball player hands, I couldn’t master the system but my driving partner, being a lady with lady like hands, operated the system with ease and I’m sure that with enough practice, I’d soon get the hang of it. The system is iPhone ready with Apple CarPlay and is as easy as 1,2,3 to use. Android Auto has been enabled but South Africans will have to wait until their phones are ready, as the software on android devices has not been enabled yet.

Updated VW Golf GTI

We drove the cars from the airport and stopped over in Jansenville for some lunch. This was a  relatively short drive, thanks to the uprated 169 kW instead of the current 162 kW from the familiar 2.0-litre TFSI motor. Torque has stayed the same at 350 N.m but the vehicle feels more peppy and angrier than what the figures suggest. The GTI 7.5, as it’s locally known, has no problem with bumpier roads, even at more  illegal speeds and turns in like a GTI should. Seats are just the right mix of sporty and let’s-drive-to-Cape-Town-this-weekend comfortable. Even though I have a back that could have come from a 95-year-old war veteran, not once did I reach for the Myprodol.

Updated VW Golf GTI

After reaching the venue and reflecting on the very short drive of 247 kilometers, we settled in and I tried to find fault with the VW Golf 7.5 GTI as there must be at least one black mark and yes, I did find it. It no longer comes with a manual gearbox! The urban warriors having to deal with Sandton traffic have got to VW and convinced them that the manual was redundant and only DSG boxes are on the cards for sunny South Africa. Train smash for a stubborn mule like myself but in the long run, it’s the better decision.

Updated VW Golf GTI

With the whole range being refreshed, it called for some engine changes as well. The 1.2 TSI has been dropped in favour of the new 1.0 TSI in both Trendline and Comfortline packages. This motor should be very nimble at 81 kW and 200 N.m of torque. Next is the 1.4 TSI with the same torque figure but with a bit more juice at 92 kW. This has the option of the DSG gearbox and I’m sure from a comfort, power and pricing perspective, this will be the pick of the bunch. Next would be the GTI and added from July will be the GTD – the 130 kW & 350 N.m diesel 2.0 TDI, as well as the R version. We weren’t given the exact figures for the R but expect more from the flagship Vrrpha!

Once again, the standard has been set and to be honest, many cars will run the Golf close and one or two will be faster, but none can come close to what the Golf and specifically the  VW Golf 7.5 GTI can offer as an everyday package. Expect it to stand head and shoulders above the competition.

Volkswagen strikes back: Volkswagen Amarok V6 launched in South Africa

Volkswagen Amarok V6

Volkswagen Amarok V6 launched in South Africa

Back in 2010 when Volkswagen announced that the Amarok will only feature 2.0 litre engines, bakkie lovers were up in arms. “We need more power! We need more displacement!” the angry hoards and picketers screamed, forming a mob and carrying flaming objects whilst protesting toward their local VW dealers. Well that’s what we assume happened in certain parts of town where anything under 3.0 litres is an insult to someone’s manliness. This burning issue however was not really about power, because despite the Amarok 2.0 TDI producing 132kW and 440Nm, what people had a problem with was the size of the engine. So much so, the Amarok didn’t really take off as well in South Africa as VW had hoped it would. People are still buying the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger in droves, don’t forget the Isuzu KB as well. As a result Volkswagen have seen the need for change, drastic change at that. What, then, could be more drastic than a bakkie that produces 165 kW/550 N.m? How about a bakkie that produces 180 kW and 580 N.m on over-boost? Yes the new Amarok V6 is in a different performance league when it comes to pick-ups available in South Africa.

Bakkie SUV?

To be honest, the Volkswagen Amarok has always had a few advantages over its rivals, but it seems as though those advantages weren’t ever enough. Take for example the cabin and ride quality, there is nothing agricultural about the car. Instead, the Amarok is arguably the best dual purpose lifestyle bakkie out there. People don’t care however, people want power. That is why the combination of the updated cabin and the engine are a match made in bakkie heaven as you get the best of both worlds. A large touch screen infotainment is now offered in the Amarok, giving you features like Apple CarPlay as well as Bluetooth and other smart features. Ergonomically you feel like you’re in a Golf up front, of course the rear seats are still more “truckish” but purely because you have a load bin behind you and nothing’s going to change that. The overall interior and comfort levels in the V6 are fantastic, you’d swear you’re in an SUV, especially without the rackety noise of the 2.0 TDI.

 

Is all that power necessary?

No. There is no real need for all that power, unless you plan on ploughing the fields in the morning or towing your mobile home with you. Quite honestly, the power offered in the 2.0 TDI is sufficient for the average bakkie owner. The thing is though, once you put your foot down in the V6 and you feel the surge of torque – you realise that this is not power you need, it’s power you want. Once you’ve experienced it, you don’t want it to go away. The powertrain offered in the V6 Amarok can be best described as a very rich dessert, a chocolate mousse even. If you’re not a lover of chocolate mousse, you need to rethink your entire life and maybe even see someone about that.
Oh by the way, it’s not only power that’s changed in the Amarok, the front end looks different too…slightly. The entire range has been face-lifted, with minor changes giving the car a fresher face. The choices are as follows: Comfortline, Highline, Highline Plus and Extreme. The engines range from a 103kW 2.0 TDI to the 132kW 2.0 TDI and then of course, the V6 we’ve been crushing over. If money is no object and you only want the best, the top of the range Extreme model is available. This will equip your Amarok with Satellite navigation, 20 inch wheels, Bi-Xenon headlights and even 12 way adjustable “ergoComfort” seats as some of the standard features.


All these features sound like items you would get in an SUV, but that’s what the bakkie market wants. Thankfully you can still go into Africa and see the dusty sights in your Amarok. The car features an Electronic Differential Locking system for great traction but a diff lock button is still available for those really sticky situations. An Off-Road button can be selected for hardcore terrains and this allows for features like hill descent control to be activated and other nifty features such as off-road ABS as well.
If your Amarok is equipped with ESC, you get a feature called Electronic Trailer Stabilisation which assists when loss of traction occurs whilst towing. Speaking of towing, you’re good for 3300kg, which is great especially for those who enjoy a spot of caravanning. Depending on which Amarok you get, there is the choice of a 6 speed manual gearbox for the 103kW and the 132kW, but the V6 is only offered with the 8 speed automatic gearbox and only in 4Motion as well. The 2.0 TDI’s can be opted as RWD or 4Motion, with the 4Motion being the best off road choice, as it uses a Haldex system to utilise all four wheels for better traction.

Best bakkie out there?

Answering that question with a yes or no depends on your needs. As a lifestyle bakkie for the city and open road, the Amarok has always been a leader when it comes to comfort and trim levels. For the real hardcore off-roaders, some still prefer the likes of a Toyota Hilux. You can’t blame them because there are very few bad bakkies out there. The addition of the V6 engine has made the Amarok the best bakkie in terms of its powertrain. The new Nissan Navara still has one of the best chassis out there but again, it’s all subjective. The biggest problem facing bakkies today is cost and the Amarok V6 is not cheap. Nor is any other top of the range pick up either. An asking price of R748 600 for the Extreme is a hard pill to swallow. If it makes you sleep better at night, think of these fancy bakkies this way: if you own one of them, you don’t really need an SUV anymore. You have all the creature comforts of an SUV but the off road attributes of a bakkie, giving you a car you can do more with. Who would’ve thought that one day this segment would be so demanding? The fact that Volkswagen actually went ahead with the development of this car proves that if people complain enough, eventually they get what they want.

 

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Can’t afford the R1.4M Alfa Romeo Gulia QV? There is another option

South African Car News: Alfa Romeo Gulia Veloce


Anyone with functioning eyes will agree that the Alfa Romeo Giulia is one of the prettiest cars on sale at the moment. Its proportions are delicious and its interior finish far better than anyone had expected from an Alfa Romeo. Overall, it’s a good quality product and while the Giulia Quadrifoglio may have been a bit finicky in our recent showdown ft. the BMW M3 Competition Package and Mercedes-AMG C63 S, it’s still a fine piece of engineering, if a bit clinical for a 375 kW Italian super saloon.. But let’s get serious, very few people are actually going to be spending R1.4 million on a QV, so the rest of the range also needs to be sassy and desirable.

Enter the Giulia Veloce – it won’t be taking the fight to the BMW 340i or Mercedes-AMG C43, but it sort of bridges the gap between those and their lesser 330i and C300 siblings. With 208 kW and 400 N.m, it’s no ambling Giusseppe. This comes courtesy of an exclusive 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder motor which is mated to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. Apparently unique to the Veloce (but actually the same 2.0-litre unit as the rest of the range) this motor is an all-aluminium unit featuring electo-hydraulic valve activation, direct injection and a “2-in-1” turbocharger which is just “twin-scroll” badly translated from Italian.

Thanks to a snazzy body kit and Misano Blue paintjob exclusive to the Veloce, it looks as tit as it’s likely to drive. Along with the sports bumpers, it gets a rear sports diffuser, dual exhausts, 18-inch Turbine alloy wheels and black brake-callipers, although they seem to be yellow in the pictures…

Standard fitment includes front and rear parking sensors, headlamp washers, upgraded brakes with larger diameter discs at the front and rear, dual-zone climate control, Alfa DNA Driving Mode selector and an 8.8-insch Alfa Connect infotainment system. The usual array of active and passive safety systems can also be found here which all play a part in the Giulia’s five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

There’s no word yet on local pricing so why don’t you just look at it until we know a bit more on that front?

 

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