Tag: Car Reviews

Has the new Honda Civic Type R sold out?

Honda Type R

We drive the “softer” new flagship variant in the Honda Civic stable.

Prrrrrrrrrah (whoosh) prrrraaaaah goes the first ever turbocharged Honda Civic Type R, a car we loved driving-despite us getting it so late in SA not too long ago. This car was basically the love child of VTEC obsessed drivers and the boost crazy car fraternity. “VTEC and turbo? Na fam, it’s too good to be true”, said JDM lovers. It wasn’t. That Type R was lit. We drove it on the track in Cape Town, we drove it on the road in Johannesburg and we raced it against a Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport as you can see here:https://youtu.be/NTJJVc0YO7k

As you can see, this car was the track champion, with a chassis setup so sweet, we had toothache for weeks after driving it (laugh, it’s funny). All good then? Not exactly. See, often times when a car is excellent on track it’s generally not so good on the road. This is something the first turbocharged Honda Civic Type R suffered from, bad road manners. It hopped, it hurt your back and in “R mode” it felt like being inside a Metrorail. Did we care? Not so much, because we’re petrol heads – that’s what chiropractors are for. Besides as journos we only drive the car for a week. What about those who owned these cars? They must’ve had the same complaints we had. We’re sure they did, because the new Civic Type R feels like night and day compared to the old one. Does this mean it’s sold out though? Traded comfort for hardcore driving feel?

Sell out or nah?

In short, no. We just put that title out there so you can read our review. Seeing that you’re here, you may as well hear us out. To cut a long story short, the new Honda Civic Type R looks different, feels different but has the same engine as the old car. On the outside, it still unashamedly looks like something that’s climbed straight out of Ultra. A large rear wing, three exhaust pipes and jagged edges tell the world that you’re ready to party. Surprisingly, driving the car on the road in normal mode is pretty…normal. You can hold a conversation; the seats are comfortable and the chassis feels like a normal Civic. Even in sport mode, the car is not back breaking at all. The rear legroom is plentiful, the boot is huge and the exhaust is not loud. A bit too quiet to be honest. Dezzi Raceway was where we had a chance to experience the car’s abilities and in “R mode” the car is still the same old beast it was. The only difference now is that it’s easier to drive. The chassis is still very pliable and you can point the nose where you want it, but you don’t work as hard as you used to in the old Civic Type R, with little compromise to the fun you’re having. An “auto blip” function has been added during downshifting, so there’s no need to “heel and toe”, which I personally enjoy doing but some may not have gotten the hang of it. The new car is also lighter, so even though it still produces 228kW, it covers ground very quickly. A smart suspension setup means that you don’t have a lot of torque steer as well, despite all the power going to the front tyres and the rubber on the car is sticky enough to point and squirt the car where you want it.

So, what’s the verdict?

This new Honda Civic Type R is honestly one the best hot hatch experiences out there at the moment. It’s also unique in that it’s one of the few manual cars you can get in this segment. The first one battled in terms of everyday appeal but this one is a huge improvement, if you don’t mind the stares. If you like the attention, you’ll love it. Besides, that rear wing can make for a perfect spot to put your coffee in the mornings, when waiting for your kids to climb in for the school run. It’s that versatile. No wonder why the car has won so many awards, it’s that good. Is it better than a Golf 7 R however? Stay tuned to find out.

Honda Civic Type R Pricing in South Africa

The base price for the Civic Type R is R627 900 and includes a 5 year/200000 km Warranty, a 5 year/90000 km service plan and roadside assistance for 3 years.

 

The New Volkswagen Polo – Bigger and Better.

New Volkswagen Polo

The New Volkswagen Polo Driven Review

New Volkswagen Polo. Despite being a small A0 segment hatchback, the Volkswagen Polo is a big car in South Africa. Last year alone VW SA sold over 20,000 units, and the all-new model proves to be even better with a new design and exciting array of tech features. To sample the new vehicle first hand, we headed to the home of VW South Africa – Port Elizabeth, where the new Polo is being manufactured.

Arriving late in the afternoon gave us a  chance to relax, take in our surroundings and enjoy the views our hotel had on offer. Still, we were itching to see the vehicle and get behind the wheel of a car which is very important to the motoring industry and South Africa alike. That evening gave us all what we wanted, and more. After the unveiling of the New Volkswagen Polo and a short presentation, we were whisked away from the plush surroundings of our hotel to the Tramways building. Here we were presented with the 2018 Polo Cup race-car. Featuring the same engine as the upcoming Polo GTI, a 2.0-litre turbo mill producing 150kW and 340 N.m. The vehicle had undergone the usual race-car preparation, which means it was completely stripped out and fitted with a roll cage, with a single seat for the driver being left behind. ( read more about the 2018 Polo Cup here) A night of tasty food and good conversation followed before our early rise the next morning and with a 290 km route planned around the more scenic areas of the Eastern Cape. We were excited to see how VW’s 1.0-litre 3-cylinder turbo engine would perform in varying situations,  as well as get up close and personal with the new interior and exterior design. I really like the Polo’s new look, even as base spec it gives off a somewhat sporty appearance. I do feel the front end may be the my least favourite area of the car, from a design point of view. This however is definitely improved with the addition of LED lighting system. In terms of specifications on the car, VW had the Beats edition and Comfortline models on offer for us and we headed out in the former first.

The Beats edition of the new Polo has two stand out features, with the first obviously being a 300-watt Beats Audio sound system. This leads us on to the second area in which the Polo beats differs – styling. Vibrant red trim, Beats styled seats and the odd Beats Logo will greet anyone entering the cabin and yes, the sound system packs a punch!

As with most things, practice makes perfect and VW’s 1.0-litre engine seems to be getting better and better. The 70kW provided gives a nice little punch and is quite a “gutsy” engine – if that is even a word. Highway driving might seem to provide the most worry for these little engines, but overtaking was a breeze and the 5-speed gearbox was just like an R&B/Soul song – smooth and easy. If you are wanting even more kick, there is a Highline 85kW option using the same 1.0-litre engine. Both the 70kW and 80kW engines are available with a DSG automatic gearbox. 

Too grown up for its own good?

The Polo has always been a small, fun city hatchback with renowned build quality. As time goes by and new models are released, these vehicles inherently get bigger in size and the New Volkswagen Polo is not excluded from this. It’s 8 cm longer and 7 cm wider, this extra space benefits the rear passenger area and the place where you put your bags on a road trip with an extra 70l to play with. Even still, the new Polo has not lost that all-important feel of nimbleness. Yes, it’s bigger, but it has not grown in height. If anything, the good road-holding and intimate feel that we all love, has not been lost but rather improved.

Another area where the New Volkswagen Polo impressed us most is technology. A clean dash features an integrated 8” touchscreen with VW’s latest Composition Media system, which is also found in the brand’s more expensive vehicles. Discover Navigation is also available as an option, but with Apple CarPlay integrated into the system, the navigation system is no longer something on the “need” list.

We were very impressed with VW for including their Active Info Display as an option in the new Polo. If you’re of what we’re referring to, the Active Info Display is a fully digital 12” display which replaces the classic dials which provide you which information on speed – such as fuel consumption, range etc. This digital option is customisable, meaning the driver can choose what information they want to be displayed, whether this be music, playlists, speed and even navigation. This system is a premium feature found on the new Golf, Passat and Tiguan range. This really sets the Polo apart in the A0 segment – although you will have to pay for it.

Other great technology and safety systems are on offer, such as the Park Assist Package. If you require, this system will parallel park you into a space which is just 80 cm longer than the vehicle itself. Added to that, it will also assist the driver is getting out of that same space if required. Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Traffic Alert, Driver Alert System, Multi Collision Braking and Tyre Pressure Loss Indicator are also systems available to the Polo – providing yet more reasons to get behind the wheel of Volkswagen’s latest creation.

Overall it was another great event with a fantastic vehicle. The new Polo is refined in every area and provides an even better experience than the former car. It appeals very much to a younger generation of drivers who want the latest technology and want to be connected. That being said, the features available also make this car very appealing to someone who may be buying down from a more premium segment. Personally, my gut feel says the Polo Beats will do very well and it is my prefered choice from the models we sampled. The Beats naturally appeals to the younger generation as we all know who Dr.Dre is. Music lovers in general though and those who appreciate good quality audio will be impressed by the vehicle. The car ticks many boxes for many demographics. The stylish, the safety conscious, the youth and even parents with a healthy budget will enjoy this vehicle for their kids. Well done VW. You haven’t tried to fix something that was never broken to begin with.   

New 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 All new 2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

Mercedes-Benz G-Class

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is a car that has long baffled many petrolheads. What is a car that has made a name for itself as an exceptional off-road vehicle, is often Finally, Merc has made use of the Detroit Motorshow to unveil the new 2018 model. The new G-Class looks much like the old model and offers a very familiar look too the old model and is very clearly identifiable as a G-Class through boxy design that lives on in the new model. Rear passengers will be happy to know the chassis benefits from 53mm of length and 121mm of width. Weight is down 170kg through the use of aluminium and the front solid axle has been ditched for a more modern independent double wishbone setup and with this electromechanical steering replaces the aged truck steering of before. The design is more evolution than revolution as it retains the round headlights, which now offer greater lighting through modern tech and a more rounded front end with a rounded front bumper and bonnet improve the aerodynamic performance. At the rear, the changes are limited to new taillights.

Interior

True to form a collection of parts recycled from other models come to the party, but surprisingly the best of the E and S class has been chopped and screwed for the new G-Class. This has resulted in the use of high-quality materials and the latest Mercedes automotive technologies such as the 12.3 high-resolution widescreen cockpit as the instrument binnacle and the infotainment screen. The list of touches and finishes is rather extensive and very much in line with the premium ethos of the vehicle currently is gunning for. Standard fair is rather comprehensive with heated and electronically adjustable memory front seats which can be upgraded even further, with options.

 

Drivetrain

On launch, the G500 will be offered with a 4.0 V8 with 310kw and 609nm, linked to the new 9-ratio automatic transmission, which has been enhanced to function best with the G-class’ driving modes, namely Comfort, Sport, Eco and Individual offered on the DYNAMIC SELECT rocker switch, signature of the modern Mercedes. A special G-mode is enabled when one of the three diffs or low range is activated and is designed to improve off-road ability.

 

Off-road

Not that any will frequent such an activity, but the G is rather capable of the beaten track and is very much designed to climb, traverse and take you into the middle of nowhere and bring you back in absolute luxury. The figures are impressive with ground clearance at 24.1 cm, fording depth at 70 cm and tilt angle at 35 degrees. Approach angles sit a 31 and departure 30 degrees respectively while the break over angle is 26 degrees.

New 2018 Mercedes-Benz G-class pricing in South Africa

The only model on launch will be the G500 and the range will likely extended to more powerful petrol and diesel engines, the AMG treatment will naturally follow suit in the next few years. Pricing will be announced closer to the local launch later this year.

Meet the McLaren Senna, a 789hp road-legal track car.

McLaren Senna

McLaren Senna – The ultimate road-legal track car

Any automotive vehicle named after one of the most legendary racing drivers to ever live, surely sounds like it’s going to impress. When that racing driver is the late Ayrton Senna, known as one of the fastest men to grace the circuit, it needs to do more than just impress, but rather blow us away. Welcome the McLaren Senna, the second vehicle in McLaren’s Ultimate Series, dubbed the ultimate road-legal track car.

McLaren Senna

You commit yourself to such a level where there is no compromise. You give everything you have; everything, absolutely everything.” – Ayton Senna

McLaren vehicles are known for their everyday supercar usability, the McLaren Senna is not that type of car. McLaren designed this vehicle to provide the purest connection between driver and vehicle and deliver the most intense circuit experience of any road going McLaren.

The exterior design immediately gives off a sense of speed, seriousness and performance. You may disagree, but the front end strikes me as a combination of a McLaren 720s and the Gumpert Appollo. Its sharp, edgy and features a multitude of scoops, lines and crevasses for aero purposes. In fact, McLaren says you cannot follow a single line from the front to the rear without it passing through a functional air intake or vent. It’s undoubtedly beautiful body is short and features a huge rear wing. HotWheels comes to mind, and we all know from our childhood days how awesome HotWheels cars were.

McLaren Senna

The visual carbon fibre elements are stunning, but what’s even more outstanding is that the lower half of the door side can be specified with glass as a replacement to the carbon fibre panel, increasing the sense of space inside the cabin and amplifying driver connection.

McLaren Senna

Sounds pretty wild, doesn’t it? It is. Over 789 hp (588kW) and 800Nm can be expected from the 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged v8, which is the most powerful internal combustion engine produced by McLaren for a road-going vehicle. It also features dry sump lubrication and a flat-plane crankshaft. There’s more, the McLaren Senna Is the lightest McLaren since its rebirth with a dry weight of just 1,198kg, it’s also the strongest thanks to the improved carbon fibre Monocage III chassis. Further, everybody panel bolted to this chassis isalso  made from carbon fibre, resulting in a power to weight ratio of nearly 500 kW per tonne.

McLaren Senna

With this level of power, you can imagine that much grip is required, and this comes in the form of ground-breaking front and rear active aerodynamics. Every part of the vehicle is not just an element of visual design, but rather an aid in an aerodynamic capacity to optimise downforce and balance. Assisting the active aerodynamics and the unmissable double diffuser is the RaceActive Chassis Control II (RCC II) hydraulic suspension system. This system compromises of double wishbone suspension and hydraulically interconnected two-valve dampers, which allow for bump and compression to be controlled individually. There is a Race Mode of course, which brings into play a lower ride height, lower centre of gravity and much stiffer suspension. This mode is activated by a roof-mounted switch. Comfort, Sport and Track modes are all accessed via the centre console.

McLaren Senna

Along with many elements of this car, the braking system is also the most advanced system ever fitted to a McLaren vehicle. We are not told much, just that it uses Carbon Ceramic discs and motorsport technologies. Bespoke Pirelli P Zero™ Trofeo R tyres are the choice of rubber, fitted to an ultra-lightweight race inspired alloy wheel.

As much as the McLaren Senna provides ground-breaking performance, McLaren also wanted this vehicle to provide a driving experience like no other. Noise contributes massively to this factor and McLaren engineers decided that the full mechanical symphony of the engine needed to be a sensory experience.  The driver will experience high-frequency sounds caused by rushing air into the roof-mounted intake, all while low-frequency engine sounds are transferred into the cockpit through unique engine mounts, which make it seem as if the V8 is sitting right alongside the driver. We can only imagine the noise provided by gear changes using the dual-clutch, seamless-shift, seven-speed gearbox.

McLaren Senna

Now, all we need to know is how fast it can go around Nurburgring!

McLaren Senna Pricing and availability

The McLaren Senna will be hand-assembled in, Production will be limited to 500 vehicles, each costing from £750,000 or R13.6M (at the time of writing) and all are already allocated.

 

Why we all need to make peace with South African Taxis.

South African Taxi

The daily taxi war.

Before everyone comes after me with pitchforks and burning torches, I would just like to put a little disclaimer out there. In this article, I am not condoning illegal or unroadworthy vehicles – which put the lives of others in danger. This includes overloading, or driving in a manner that can cause harm to others.

So here goes…

It is a daily part of the average South African’s life, especially those who commute via a motor vehicle. It is a battle which we all inevitably lose and one which we probably all need to let go of, I am talking about the fight against the South African taxi driver. Whether it’s big or small, seats 6 people or 15, the issue is less with the car but rather the driver. A taxi driver is a taxi driver. More often than not, this person plays by his rules and the rules of his fraternity. Whatever those rules are however, the role of a taxi in South Africa is crucial.

This form of transport plays a massive role in our economy, transporting many people to and from work on a daily basis. South Africa needs them as much as they may annoy us, and I’m sure that many reading this article experience this annoyance on a daily basis.

These annoyances can range from taxi drivers cutting in front of your vehicle, or stopping in the lane to make pick ups or drop offs – causing havoc for the vehicles behind. Using the emergency lane, to the classic “turning off the road, cutting across opposite traffic and turning back onto the road” at an intersection, to gain a jump on those stuck at a red light. We have all been in a similar situation and it drives us crazy, often resulting in shouting, cursing or worse.

South African Taxi

The solution?

There is one solution, and while it won’t completely alleviate the problem, it will help to reduce our own personal road rage and stress levels.The solution is to make peace with South African taxis. Does that mean no shouting, arguing, hand gesturing or even fighting every time a taxi does something even remotely annoying? Yes. Why you may ask? Well it is relatively simple.

You see, no matter how big your tantrum is, how many expletives you utter, or how many times you roll down your window and use a range of hand gestures, you are only ruining one person’s day, yours.

Do you really think a taxi driver cares about your abuse? They don’t, they couldn’t give a hoot (pun intended). They get told off by everyone on a daily basis and the fact is, no matter how many road users give them abuse, they are never going to change. At the end of the day, they also have families to feed and need run hectically tight schedules to try and make money. Ask yourself this question, how crazy would you drive to feed your children? Of course, putting anyone’s life in danger is never justifiable, but we will never understand what goes on in the life of a taxi driver, unless we’ve lived that life. Your anger, fists or bullets isn’t worth you risking your life in an altercation. Is it?

So as much as it sucks to take it on the chin, ignore it and let it happen. Half the time the offence committed against us is not worth the outburst. Is that taxi trying to cut in front while you are late for work? Don’t fight it. Driving down the emergency lane and you feel like swerving to stop him? Don’t bother. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your daily commute because in the long run, one or a thousand motorists hurling abuse and getting stressed is never going to change a thing. Pray that when the offence is being committed, the police do what they’re paid to do. After living and driving in South Africa for 4 years from the U.K, I’ve gone through the various stages of grief, battling this daily war with taxis and I respect every motorist enduring the same fight. Quite recently I have tried this care-free approach as I face Durban’s Umgeni road on a daily basis. The result? I look five years younger already.

Mazda MX5- RF: Best weekend car, worst weekday car.

Mazda MX5-RF

Mazda MX5- RF Driven Review

Weekend vehicle:

Definition: “That car that makes you forget about all your problems and dependants for a period of time, preferably early mornings when the kids or the wife is asleep.” TheMotorist Dictionary

Let us begin…

“Ah, two seats, low center of gravity, a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine and a targa top roof. What more could you want” was just one of my thoughts, as I eagerly awaited the arrival of Mazda’s MX5-RF. I’d heard great things about this car and after driving it, I’m here to tell you why it may be the perfect weekend car for someone on a reasonable budget.   

From the outside, the MX5 is a looker. It’s low, features a long front end with sharp striking details such as shark-like headlights and grille. Add the meteor grey paintwork to it and it really does look sublime and sporty. It’s near perfect for a  South African Sunday summer drive. Affordable sports cars are a rarity today, so there’s not much to compare the MX5 RF with, hence why it’s difficult to call it affordable. R532 800 may not be a cheap, but it’s cheaper than what you would pay for one of its few rivals. In fact, it’s over R100K cheaper than a Fiat 124 Spider.

So it looks the part, but what makes it extra special? It’s funny, what makes me love it on the weekends is what makes me dislike it during the week. Let’s start with the obvious – it’s small. I’m not what you would describe as a tall person, I am actually on the shorter side of life (as much as I hate to admit it). I am also pretty youthful at 25, and my BMI is probably in the normal range, depending on how much time I’ve spent with my colleagues. Still, getting in and out the MX-5 is a mission, partly due to how low it sits from the ground coupled with the tight interior cabin. I found myself panting as if I haven’t kicked a soccer ball in years each time I had to get in. So then, getting in and out of the car, is a maneuver you probably don’t want to be doing at least twice a day. Doing this everyday of the week, in bad weather, when your back is sore, or when you are late for work is not going to leave you feeling thrilled. On a very bad day, this entire procedure will just make everything worse, a “straw that broke the camel’s” back scenario could easily ensue. You may not strike the nearest person to you, or quit your job out of anger, but you will make use of many expletives and remember why your wife said this vehicle won’t work.  

Once you have finally acrobatically seated yourself, the cabin is rather snug too. It’s not particularly comfortable either. What it is though, is very engaging. You feel “at one with the car” At least that’s what the brochure of the vehicle says. This feeling maybe not be what you want to experience everyday of your life. Traffic is traffic, so it’s rather pointless feeling like you’re in a go-kart if you can’t do anything about it. The interior storage space is also fairly limited, there is a cubby hole in the centre and behind the seats. In order to use the rear one, you need the neck skills of an owl. I also didn’t know where to put the key, my wallet and even my phone, thus wedging them in between my legs, thus increasing my risk of testicular cancer. Once again, not ideal.

Then comes the issues of driving on the road, I found that because the mX5 is so small and low, taxis, trucks and buses struggled to see me. Careful attention and the odd maneuver, helped me avoid getting sideswiped or frankly squashed – not a worry you need on the daily run to the office. So then when is the perfect time to use this car?

Imagine now you only needed to deal with these issues once a week, on quiet roads with the wind in your hair and the sun beating down on your forehead. Suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad. These problems all disappear as your chase the next best road, something the MX5 loves doing.

The Mazda MX-5 RF excels as a weekend car, or even a vehicle you drive to work on the odd occasion. It’s fun and sporty demeanor means that these everyday issues are just blips on the radar, when the car is used for what it was built to do –  be driven hard.

As much as the MX-5 may have many little annoyances, driving is one area it excels. It’s not about its engine, it’s the package as a whole. What makes it exasperating everyday is what makes it great when the right time comes. The low ride height gives it sense of fun and a “go-karty” feel. The 2.0 litre naturally aspirated engine is also punchy and free revving. All of these attributes combined, make for a very fun driving experience.

What’s funny is that the MX-5 isn’t mind blowingly fast. Even though it’s rear wheel driven, it doesn’t feel like it’s going to throw heaps of oversteer at you when you least expect it. Instead it makes you work for it. Working for it is the best part, as we live in a world where power in most cars is so accessible, it can take the fun away.  That is what stood out about the Mazda MX-5 RF for me. It can also be driven enthusiastically and enjoyed by drivers who may not have that much experience handling powerful rear wheel drive cars. It’s fun, but accessible. I’d love to say it’s perfect, but it’s not. Where Mazda missed the off ramp with this car is the gearbox. Had they left the 6 speed manual found in the MX5 roadster, the RF would be damn near perfect. Unfortunately, gear changes are made via an automatic gearbox, which can get in the way of your experience.

Put that aside and the Mazda MX-5 RF provides great summer fun. As a daily, I’d have something else, but if I had some monies lying around, it would park in my garage as a toy. Being in the city, convenience and ease of drive is a big thing for many of us. One can’t just “get up and go” with the MX-5. You would need to “get up, try get in, eventually get in, get comfortable, drop your phone, get annoyed and then go”. On a weekend however, for those moments alone on a blissfully quiet road and less worries, you’ll love it.

Range Rover SVR – Mixed emotions and loud exhausts.

Range Rover SVR

Range Rover SVR – Mixed emotions and loud exhausts.

A Range Rover is known for its British heritage, uncompromised build quality, modern luxury and all-round driving elegance. It’s a vehicle very popular with old money, understandably so because it gives off a certain feeling of class. This class isn’t earned by producing one vehicle, but years of pursuing excellence, and delivering it.

Range Rover SVR

When it comes to the Range Rover SVR however, take all of the above and simply throw it out of the window. I say this, not because the SVR Range Rover doesn’t possess most of the qualities above, because it does. These qualities are just hidden behind quite a few “in your face” features.

The looks:

Our Range Rover SVR was white in colour, with other black design elements and of course, 22” wheels. Apart from the slight front and rear bumper changes and the placement of “SVR” badging around the vehicle, it wasn’t painstakingly obvious that this was not a normal Range Rover Sport. It looked great and while it is attention seeking, it isn’t on the “stare at me” level of those awful yellow Hummer H2’s, thankfully.

Range Rover SVR

There are stand out features about the car that set it apart from a normal Range Rover aesthetically. For instance, a not so subtle black and white interior upholstery and racing style seats are hard to ignore. Yes, racing seats in an SUV. As you can expect, they were not particularly comfortable, but they looked the part. Looking the part is top priority in any sport variant of an SUV. The SVR does that and then some. After spending more time in the vehicle, I realized that the SVR had a very unique appeal about it. As much as I hate to say it, I felt like I had become the leader of an underground syndicate for the day. It’s got a “badass” feel to it that other cars in this segment don’t have.

Then came the noise from the exhausts. My word, what a noise. With the “pipes turned on” as my colleague Francisco likes to say, the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 bellows out a sound that is actually hard to comprehend. I would go as far as to say it could be one of the loudest cars on the road. Volume isn’t everything, but it does also sound fantastic whilst being loud. If it becomes a bit too much, it can be toned down to a much more reasonable level with a touch of a button, while still maintaining that V8 purr.

 

Not too sure about it…

The first few days in the car had made me reach a tentative conclusion of the vehicle. So far, the SVR simply felt like an obnoxious version of the standard Sport. If I was to stereotype this car to a human personality, it would be one of those rude teenage boys who knows everything and thinks he is the next Conor McGregor. Like Conor McGregor, the SVR has a trick up its sleeve.

Driving Dynamics:

The time soon arrived in the week for me to drive the SVR on roads which allowed me to exploit its performance. This included some straight roads as well as sweeping corners. The result? Let’s just say my opinion on the car changed completely.

What I didn’t mention before was that with the glass shattering V8 sound produced by the SVR, came acceleration which was quite unbelievable. If you have ever seen an Airbus A380 or a Boeing 747 on the tarmac at an airport, you stare at it in amazement that something so big can actually fly. Similar thoughts processed in my mind when I planted my foot in the Range Rover SVR. There are very SUV’s that can accelerate this quickly, the SVR is one of them. On paper, it boasts a 0-100 km/h time of 4.5 seconds, which is certainly believable.

Range Rover SVR

One may expect the SVR to possess the same body role you get in a standard Range Rover Sport, but you’d be wrong.

The words “body roll” very seldom make an appearance in the Range Rover SVR’s vocabulary. Of course, understeer will present itself in any vehicle large vehicle should you carry too much speed into a corner. Respect the SVR and it will respect you. However, corners at good speed are taken with marvelous ease and grip, inspiring confidence and leaving unwanted vehicle dynamics behind. Bundled with fantastic acceleration and you have a very fast and capable performance SUV. The racing seats suddenly don’t seem so stupid now.

Sometimes unexpected situations happen in cars. We had a moment like that in this car, when we experienced an surprisingly sideways moment. Pulling off from a T-Junction on a damp road surface, turning right with a heap of acceleration, resulted in just over half a lock of smooth, glorious oversteer. “What!?” we thought to ourselves, leaving Francisco and myself looking at each other in complete amazement. This was by no means planned, as we just wanted to see how good this 4×4 system was, pretty good it turns out, if going sideways is your thing. Which is probably not the case in an SUV.

What does SVR mean by the way?

SVR is a division of Jaguar Land Rover’s performance division SVO or Special Vehicle Operations, similar to that of BMW M or AMG. They fine tune and adjust their vehicles to provide more performance and driving enjoyment with unique styling, all while being covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. Further to this, SVO offer extended levels of customisation and personalisation with extended paint options and a further range of interior leathers, trims and styling.

Range Rover SVR

Overall

Under the aggressive design and bold styling, the Range Rover SVR is a true performance SUV. It further encourages the “I don’t care, I drive a Range Rover” attitude, and you really don’t have to because well, you drive a Range Rover. It’s a hall pass to be as loud or obnoxious as you want. For many people, driving this type of vehicle is exactly what you want from it. In a few words the SVR is “Luxury with attitude”. You either love it or loathe it. Either way, if it comes behind you on the highway, chances are, you’ll move out the way.

Range Rover SVR Pricing in South Africa

The 2018 Range Rover Sport SVR and starts at a tasty R 2 080 100

Audi Sport Launch – A day with the RS3, RS5 and TTRS

New Audi RS5

Audi Sport Launch in South Africa

When a launch comprises of three different vehicles, all of which produce over 290kW and reach 100km/h just over 4 seconds, one tends to give off a childlike giggle. As car enthusiasts, these type of days don’t come around often – contrary to popular belief, but when they do, we get excited.

The Audi Sport launch in Cape Town put us behind the wheel of three Audi RS models. The facelifted RS3 Sportback and sedan, the aggressive TTRS and a car which many have been waiting for – the new Audi RS5.

Starting a Monday morning on a red-eye flight out of Durban is something I dread, but even with just a few hours of sleep the night before, my mind was buzzing because of what lay ahead. Upon arriving, a beautiful array of vehicles were set before us, like a lovely high-performance buffet. I must say, Audi’s RS colour pallet is something I’m fond of. While many may be put off by a bright yellow or a bold green, 0-100 km/h in three point something seconds just doesn’t justify black or white in my opinion.

On that point, Francisco and I jumped into a Sonoma Green RS5 and headed to a small airfield where some petrol headed antics awaited us. Initially, the new RS5 gave me an impression of a slightly beefed up S5. Even so, it made one hell of a sound and went like the clappers. The Quattro system gives the car a softer edge. It certainly doesn’t feel as aggressive as a BMW M4, but with power figures of 331kW and 600Nm it did give us something to think about. How does the new Audi RS5 compare to its biggest rival, the BMW M4 and Mercedes’ C63? Francisco goes into detail on that very subject here.

Nothing gets grown men worked up like a gymkhana challenge and that’s exactly what we were going to do in all these RS’s. Before that, a quick chat and interview with Audi Sport racing driver Kelvin van der Linde and DTM driver Mattias Ekstrom kept us entertained as war stories were told. Hearing these stories inspired most of us, as we prepared to tame the gymkhana styled time trial and the 200m drag race. Cue the childlike giggles once again.

First in order for us was the drag races and after having our fun with like for like models, we decided to pitch the Audi RS3 up against the new Audi RS5. What happened next caught our attention. The RS5 simply had better off the line traction each time and won most of the time, This didn’t stop the underdog RS3 from sticking to its coattails however and at times even closing the gap.

There is no doubt about it, the new Audi RS3 is an absolute weapon. It features a power increase of 24kW over the previous model, bringing the total output to 294kW from a new 2.5l five-cylinder engine. This now makes it the most powerful production five-cylinder engine on the market. It’s also transversely mounted, weighs 24 kg less and sounds as good as ever thanks to the unique 1-2-4-5-3 firing order.

Next, we each had the chance to set a time in each of the vehicles around the Gymkhana styled time trial. This consisted of slaloms, hairpins, a chicane, all ending with a high-speed breaking challenge, which required us to stop in a box. As much fun as this was, this allowed us to experience the dynamic ability of each car and quite frankly, the TTRS took the cake here. Stepping inside the racing styled cockpit was enough to make you go faster, but its lightweight agile chassis and ridiculous power from the same five-cylinder engine featured in the RS3, definitely helped. I was never a huge fan of the TT, perhaps due to my “younger” days when the previous generation was known as a “hairdressers” car. I now look at the new  TTRS with newly found respect. One would need to be a bloody good hairdresser to afford one of these.

After our fun and games at the track, we headed out to drive the cars where most would experience them, the road. It’s pretty obvious to all that these cars are pretty quick, but the realisation of how fast they really are becomes a reality when driving them on tight roads instead of wide open spaces. All three vehicles feature 0-100 km/h times of just under or just over 4 seconds. The RS3 has an official time from Audi of 4.1 seconds, but it’s broken the 4 second barrier in local other tests. These aren’t supercars either and it raises the question of how much faster are cars going to get? Due to advances in technology and smart all-wheel drive systems, these cars can all be enjoyed and experienced fairly safely, by drivers who probably aren’t highly skilled.  A great deal of self-control is needed to not to boot it on every journey, because the sheer acceleration and noise from these cars is pure delight. This is especially the case in the RS5, which gives you the right blend of comfort and speed. If you’re not careful you find yourself aimlessly chasing the next gear, the next engine blip and the next corner. in terms of everyday performance, these are fantastic drivers cars.

The RS3 exudes a young, hooligan, supercar disrupter type of feel. This would be my pick of the bunch, in Sportback guise. Each RS model offers something unique and exciting. Audi Sport have really done well with these new models. It’s evident that Audi are on a mission to break stereotypes and we are excited to see what comes of the next 12 months.

Audi Sport Pricing in South Africa

Audi RS5: R1 285 500

Audi TTRS: R963 000

Audi RS3 Sedan: R 925,500

Audi RS3 Sportback: R 895,500

New Audi RS5 First drive: Better than the competition?

New Audi RS5 First Drive

“Let it not be a disappointment, let it not be a disappointment” was the phrase going through most of our minds when we first laid eyes on the new RS5 at the recent Audi Sport media launch. The previous one simply didn’t live up to the extremely high standards that the B7 RS4 set. Compared to the C63 coupe and M3 of that time, it didn’t capture us the same way the competition did. The likes of BMW and Mercedes AMG haven’t made it any easier for the new RS5, with their current weapons of mass destruction. The C63 is the muscle car of the segment with its boisterous V8 BiTurbo, whilst the M4 is a precise track tool. Where then does this new RS5 fit in?

Aesthetically, it’s right up there. Oddly enough, in a normal colour with non-glossy wheels you can easily mistake it for an S5. However, throw in a loud colour, the glossy bits and the extra special shiny aluminum 20 inch wheels and you’ve got a knuckle bitingly beautiful car. The interior also makes you feel like you work very hard for your money. It’s plush, luxurious yet understated. Overall, just looking at the car would make any potential M4 and C63 coupe buyer think twice.

Starting the car gives you a welcome V6 growl from its 2.9 litre bi-turbo. It’s not very loud but loud enough to make passersby look. The exhaust note of the RS5 almost sets the tone for the persona of this car. It can be likened it to a smooth-talking individual, who is more about action instead of just talk. A claimed 0 – 100 time of 3.9 seconds is a whole lot of action and you would expect it to explode your senses when you put your foot down. It doesn’t though strangely enough. We’re so used to the theatrics from the BMW and Mercedes – which scamper and squirm off the line due to immense torque being presented the rear wheels very quickly. The RS5 doesn’t do that, it caresses you to illegal speeds, allowing you to keep your coffee intact as you zoom into the land of the detained. Was I disappointed? Initially, I wanted more. More drama, more playfulness, more edge of your seat kind of stuff. But no, instead I was given comfort, refinement and a sweet sounding V6 with enough torque on tap to not even warrant a downshift, when I needed to move a slower driver. Is that it then? A nicer looking S5 with more power? Surely there must be more to this car.

Dutoitskloof pass in Cape Town is a lovely stretch of road that allows you to get a feel of a vehicles capabilities. This pass was the RS5’s saving grace in my opinion, as it showed us its unique appeal – accessibility. In this segment, there’s “power” and then there’s “accessible power”. The BMW M4 and Mercedes AMG C63 have got immense power, but I could put money on the table that most of those vehicles drivers only access around 60-70% of that power in situations that allow for it, especially around corners. Put your foot down in the aforementioned cars and you’re met with the infamous traction control light, which reminds you that it’s keeping you alive. Powering out of corners and it’s the same thing, the traction control light is flickering away, keeping the car from oversteering. Of course, if you’re that way inclined, you’ll switch the systems off and manage everything on your own. If that’s your thing, this article is not for you. If not and you simply want “point and squirt” performance, read on.

The RS5’s ability of allowing the driver to drive the wheels off it with little drama is unmatched in this segment. This is simply because of its 4WD setup. If you’re not a knob and you respect the fact that almost all cars with this setup will understeer should you come into a corner too fast, you’ll love it. “Slow in, fast out” is the age-old recipe for an enjoyable RS5 experience, follow that rule and you’re set. In my layman hands, I felt that I could extract everything I wanted to out of the car, within my limits. No drama, just simple straightforward performance, all 331kW 600N.m of it. Steering felt good too, not extremely intuitive but enough for me to place the front end where I wanted, and exit out of corners with ease.

New Audi RS5

When it’s all done, put the car back in Comfort and continue your conversation as if nothing happened. It was after this that I realized what the new RS5 was about. It’s a great road car first and a stellar performance car second. It plays both fields very well, better than the competition to be honest. Where the Bimmer and Merc are more visceral, it’s more liveable, which is what many people want. Before considering any of the cars in this segment, you need to understand what you want from the car. You want to shred tyres? Then the RS5 is not for you. You want an excellent all-rounder? Then there’s something for you here. I’m just happy to report that the new RS5 is not a disappointment. When spending over R1 million rand in this league, you’ll buy what you like at the end of the day and in this segment, all of the cars are very good at what they do. Can’t I just have them all?

Audi RS5 Pricing in South Africa

The Audi RS 5 Coupé is priced at R1 285 500, standard with the 5 year/100 000km Audi Freeway Plan.

All you need to know about the BMW M8 GTE.

BMW M8 GTE

BMW M8 GTE

BMW M…hang on. BMW has graced the motorsport world with, to be modest, some track devouring machines and they are back on track. The 8 Series badge has been resuscitated and has undergone some extensive metal and carbon surgery to give us the new BMW M8 GTE, unveiled at the IAA (Frankfurt International Motor Show). Rolled out on the first of July 2017, the M8 GTE is the latest precision scalpel to roll out of BMW’s M Division.

BMW M8 GTE

Firstly, a bit of nostalgia. The Circuit de la Sarthe has been hosting tortured tyres annually since 1923. Le Mans is known as the most prestigious endurance race on the calendar. BMW motorsport dipped its toe into the pond of Le Mans as victors in class in 1939 and came fifth overall, with the BMW 328 powering the drivers along the gruelling and fast track. Ever since, BMW has obtained numerous accolades racing at Le Mans – ’73 saw the BMW 3.0 CSL (E9) power to a class victory. 1999 saw BMW surging to their maiden overall victory with the BMW V12 LMR, boasting a chassis developed by WilliamsF1 and the BMW S70/3 5990 cc V12 as retained from the BMW V12 LM.

BMW M8 GTE

The thing about motorsport is that getting one’s head around the precision, planning and technology involved in the development of a race car like the M8 GTE is simply impossible.

BMW has gone to great lengths with the M8 GTE to make this concept of racing even more difficult to comprehend. For example: BMW is using a principle called “virtual development” where the traction control system (the system that keeps you on the road when you feel like Ken Block) is being developed with the assistance of an artificial intelligence system (something similar to “skynet” in Terminator). 3D printing and “Rapid prototyping” makes it possible to produce a usable prototype part within 24 hours. 3D measurement tools are also being implemented for precise reassembly of the exterior that consists of CFRP components (Carbon fibre reinforced plastics) that help with keeping the weight down to 1 220 kilograms.

BMW M8 GTE

The car looks absolutely jaw dropping when stationary, but at some point it is going to have to compete in a race and the package consisting of the engine and aerodynamics will come into play. In true BMW fashion, no IT worker was spared. An algorithm was developed to aid in CFD calculations (Calculations and numbers on how air moves over, around and under the car) which increases the number of possible simulations before moving to the wind tunnel. The result of all of this collaboration – late nights, 30 cups of coffee daily and aero rims. Every tenth of a second counts.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, the drivetrain and engine. In the engine bay of the M8 GTE lives a 4.0-litre V8 with two turbochargers for company (Also called BMW TwinPower Turbo Technology). With racing restrictions and regulations of late, the engine is restricted to 4.0 litres but has a base horsepower output in excess of 500 horsepower – thank you Al Gore. The V8 is teamed up with a 6-speed sequential gearbox and a Sachs carbon-fibre clutch. There are rumours that the production model, with BMW’s already familiar 4.4 litre V8, will pack the punch of 600 Bavarian stallions.

To keep the driver pointing in the right direction, the M8 GTE makes use of 30/68 R18 tyres on the front axle and 31/71 R18 tyres on the rear axle, provided by Michelin.

BMW M8 GTE

The transition from track to road has always been a road littered with obstacles, but a new course of action is being taken by BMW. We can expect to see the 8 Series on the road by late 2018 to early 2019 and having said this, the BMW M8 GTE has already competed in numerous outings in the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportCar Championship in North America with all the knowledge gained being incorporated into the production model. With the expected launch date estimated at late 2018 to early 2019 the amount of development that can be made on the production model through the workings of the M8 GTE is endless. Indeed a very exciting prospect.

The M8 GTE is unquestionably a marvellous machine to behold and a technical master class. We will be waiting with bated breath for the launch of the production model and will be biting our nails on race day whilst the BMW M8 GTE makes its way around the boxing ring called Le Mans.