Tag: cars

The South African Motoring Experience 2017

South African Motoring Experience 2017

 TheMotorist Attends the South African Motoring Experience 2017

Following a turn-out of 51 000 patrons last year, Kyalami Proves year and year again to be the hub of all motoring shenanigans. 2017’s Festival was different to the years past given the strange partnership with a Boat show, which was ‘same, same but different’; although it was the Motoring Experience S opposed to the Festival of Motoring, which only takes place every second year. Nevertheless, the boats were still a very popular attraction and reminded many that boats are rather cool. The largest attraction without a doubt was the Pit Lane, test drives and ride alongs which allowed for anyone off the street to have either the experience of driving some of their favourite cars on the track or have the trained drivers hurl them around at breakneck speeds. Unsurprisingly the waits were long and plentiful but warranted by the smiles on hundreds of faces afterwards, suggesting that this was all worth it.

South African Motoring Experience 2017

Personally, the long quest for smiles proved a bit too daunting and I opted for a ride in the more exclusive stuff that I hadn’t yet sampled namely the Lexus LC 500 on a track which was a rather enlightening experience with the GT being a lot less luxury cruiser and more Apex bruiser on the track. The space in the rear was not amazing and more so when you have a racing driver attacking Sunset Corner at 180km/h plus and your face feels like it’s coming off, and knees rather numb. The was the usual mix of V8 Jags and Range Rovers, AMG Merc’s, fast VW’s and RS Audi’s to sample around the track but no BMW – partly due large to their own exclusive M Festival next month and the presence of new faces to the festival’s Pit area. The likes of Suzuki, BAIC, Haval and even Peugeot’s 3008 SUV were taking to the track, all of whom offering the chance to sample a track driving experience and most importantly for the manufacturer, a chance to drive their latest products.  Having again sampled the larger portion of their offerings, the three the stand out model for me by-in-large the Haval H6 and H6C, which for a Chinese entry into the market is really impressive, good road manners, good power and even when kicked around on a track still proved well put together with no rattles or squeaks to my nit-picking ears.  Another surprise was the debut of the BAIC X25, which again drove rather well, and this was a view few shared me and the drivers. There was a fair amount of shove from the 85 kW-1.5 Litre engine, enough to make the drive fun enough on track but again I was surprised at the level of refinement, both in the chassis and in the interior, proving that the Chinese are most defiantly upping their game in terms of vehicle manufacturing.

Moving around the festival, there was much to see from all the manufacturers; interactive experiences of active safety systems, tandem attacks at the Skid pan and even Aerobatics stunts from the very loud Puma Energy stunt planes. Cell C’s Supercar Zone was another clear favourite with the presence of a rather young looking man in a suit with the keys to Aston’s DB11 and a Malaren 570S. The Suited Youth would turn them on and allow for rev’s and pictures in the machines, much to the approval of the crowd. In the same room was Bentley’s new Continental GT Speed, an Aventador S, and and  R8 V10 Sypder, all in bright colours aside from the black 911 Turbo hidden in the corner.

4X4 Fans were not forgotten as a short shuttle ride took you to the mud and dust where the diff locks and hill descent controls were more important. Providing an in-depth look into the more slow paced stuff, where speed is not the objective. On showcase was the New Pajero Sport, which was highly capable on the track and yet still rather well appointed and less rudimentary than the previous models. With striking looks and very clear off-road ability and comfort, it’s an interesting alternative to the likes of the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Everest.  The 4×4 track was rather tricky and difficult with all kinds of grip testing and axle twisting stuff and the likes of the VW Amarok V6, Nissan Navara and the G range of Mercedes-Benz SUV’s, with the exclusion of the tamer GLC and GLA. The Renault Duster made an appearance and proved it’s not as soft as one would think but lacking in low-range and hill-descent control, and instead of a very skillfully footed instructor and a slightly different track with only the Plucky little Suzuki Jimny keeping up with the behemoths that were the double cabs and Diff-look toting SUV’s.

In the various rooms and looking points, the list of exotic cars and classics that we saw last year was not as extensive with no ‘Porsche Room’ and 918’s just a hall with exhibitors trying to sell you car related stuff at inflated prices, like an Automotive rand show, well I thought this until I saw a few classic Ferrari’s Like the 264 Gt Dino and older brother 308 GT4. Race 1 brought a large collection of wide-body super and hyper-cars, but overall internally not as great as 2016.  

Overall, this year’s festival as a day out in the sun with the family or as the group of enthusiasts is an ideal way of spending your day if you like keeping up to date with the trends of the motoring world. I wouldn’t miss it at all but as always, the rather lengthy queues in the pits, even from as early as 10 am, do mean you must be rather patient if you want a ride around the track but for the experience, it’s difficult to rival. If I was to break it down in terms of highlights, low lights and a numerical rating out of 10, it would be simple, The KIA Stinger 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 coupe on the track and the ever developing Chinese were standouts for me, as were the dynamics of the X25 BIAC and H6 Haval and 2018 Nissan 370Z which is rather dated but still quick. The Lengthy queues and pricey vendors of refreshments no so much but forgivable, overall a solid 8 from The Motorist.

The next event will be the BMW M Festival in October and we’ll most definitely be there, providing the ins and outs to the happenings of the day.   

Fiat 500 0.9 TwinAir Pop Star

I have spoken about cult cars before and how they somehow manage to attract both car-nuts and car-nots. There is one car, though, that I feel manages to attract more car-nots than car-nuts – the Fiat 500. In 2007, Fiat decided to go the same route as BMW with the MINI brand and Volkswagen with the New Beetle. They reinvented a vehicle which was incredibly popular back in the day, but with modern engineering and, don’t vomit, “retro” styling. I hate that term, but that’s exactly what it is.

As you can imagine, the 500 was an instant hit and while it may have taken South Africans a moment to warm to the little newcomer, the rest of the world went bananas for it. Barring the Americans, of course. While it never really appealed to those of us who enjoy driving briskly, the trendy and fashion conscious set loved how adept the 500 was at karting their quinoa salad take-away home from Tashas.

The 500 recently underwent a not too insignificant revision and goodness has it transformed the 500. I was never the biggest fan of the pre-facelift’s asthmatic motors and while the 1.4 litre NA motor’s 74 kW might sound okay, the 131 N.m offered was not. I adored the concept of the 500 but always felt that there were a few shortcomings.

Enter the refreshed Fiat 500, now available with 2-cylinder sewing machine engine (not really) and a little turbocharger. The Pop Star model we had on test offers 63 kW and 145 N.m which is in fact less power than the previous 1.4 litre naturally aspirated motor and only 14Nm more torque, but said torque is now available from just 1 900 rpm as opposed the previous motor’s lofty delivery close to the 6 000 rpm redline. The higher-spec Lounge model has the same motor, albeit in a higher state of tune with 78 kW. This punchy motor, displacing a mere 900c, makes easy work of running around town and if you’re not too heavy footed, Fiat claim a combined average fuel consumption of just 3.8 l/100km which is impressive. Of course we didn’t achieve anything close to that figure which we put down to the fact that you still have to boot it a little to get moving, hence our average of 7.0 l/100km. A 1.3 litre turbo diesel motor is also expected to join the line-up at some stage.

Aside from the brilliantly characterful motor, the minor styling upgrades have done a world of good for the Cinquecento – it’s adorable. LED daytime running lights have now been incorporated into the smaller set of headlights which are actually the high beams and minor tweaks to the rear as well as an array of new colours and wheel options come together to create a rather endearing little thing.

Inside, the air vents have been redesigned and things have been moved around a little to incorporate FCA group’s all too familiar Uconnect infotainment system. It works just as well as the one found in Ferraris and Jeeps and should you go for the Lounge model with its 7” TFT instrument cluster, you’ll have quite the techy looking 500. Sound deadening materials have also been increased to minimise cabin noise and here too, different trim options can be had to best suit the trendy human who would buy this sort of car.

Prices start at a not too heady R179 900 for the Pop model and work their way up incrementally to R280 900 for the 500C 0.9 TwinAir Lounge Auto. I reckon the 500 TwinAir Pop Star is the sweet spot in the range with nice to haves such as xenon headlights and PDC should you be unable to confidently manoeuvre your 3cm long vehicle. All models come with a 3 year/100 000 km warranty and service plan.

The practical choice: Suzuki Ertiga

The practical choice: Suzuki Ertiga.

Truth be told, there isn’t much in terms of appeal when it comes to people carriers. Cars that are built to fit as many individuals as possible normally look like taxis, and they’re often beige in colour too. Think of the Toyota Avanza, I haven’t seen a single one of them in any other colour besides beige and not once have I seen a happy family going on holiday in one. Instead, looks of fear and dismay are the expressions of occupants in an Avanza, purely because the taxi driver is normally attempting a life-threatening stunt.

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The smaller seven seating market is not one full of competition, though. If you were looking for something along those lines and you didn’t want the taxi driver stigma of the Toyota, you could choose a Suzuki.  The Ertiga is a car that can fulfil all your needs and the test car we received also happened to be beige. If I must be honest, when the car arrived at my offices I didn’t care much for it. The timing worked out that I had a fancier sports car with much more power at my disposal. Being young, you want to maintain a particular image, and the image of a crèche owner versus that of a successful businessman didn’t appeal to me. But it was only after a day of using all the fuel in my suave sports car, did the motor journalist in me kick in, and I did what all of us do…find the vehicle with the most amount of fuel in it. My personal car never has fuel in it because as mentioned, I am but a lowly journalist. So just like that, I had to swallow my pride and drive the Uber van.

Like any modern Suzuki, the Ertiga doesn’t scream excitement when you enter. What it does do is offer an ergonomically friendly setup. A radio that works easily, an air-conditioner that doesn’t require a degree and a Bluetooth system that easy to operate. After pairing up my phone and buckling in, I was set to find passengers, something the Ertiga needs for it to make sense. Naturally, I tried to find occupants that wouldn’t judge the fact that my social status had dropped immensely from the sports car driver to the delivery man. So I fetched my mother and siblings and off we went. The Ertiga’s 1.4-litre engine is not underpowered, but nor is it spritely. It’s around the middle where it’s just enough not to annoy you. It only has 70kW after all. The ride quality is as good as my couch, you don’t really know what’s going on under you, but you don’t care because it’s comfortable. Besides who wants to race around in a people carrier besides taxi drivers?

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The two most notable aspects of the Suzuki Ertiga is the practicality of the car and the fact that it runs on smiles and laughter. No seriously, in the week we had it, the car barely used any fuel. In fact, it’s so good on fuel I decided to park the sports car and use it every day because fuel savings over power win every day in the minds of cheap journalists. It’s not just journalists who think this way, though; the average person does too. This is where you see why this car makes sense for the person looking for its attributes. Some need a seven seater for business, others because of endless procreation. Whatever your reason is, surely you’ll want the car to be fuel efficient too. In the case of the Ertiga it’s fortunate to be more visually appealing than the Avanza, but maybe not as nice looking as Honda’s new BRV. The point we’re making is this, if you need the space and a measure of reliability at a reasonable price, the Ertiga is not a bad choice, it’s a practical one. You can also have it in another colour besides brown.

Prices:

Ertiga 1.4 GA: R189 900

Ertiga 1.4 GL: R215 900

Ertiga 1.4 GL AT: R231 900

2016 Renault Megane

After 20 years, the fourth generation of Megane has arrived in South Africa. The 2016 Megane looks aggressive, I like it.

Four models will be released, the first of these is the Dynamique model featuring a 1.6 litre 84 kW engine with a 5-speed manual box, no option for auto here. Moving up in the range we have two GT-LINE models, both powered by a 97kw 1.2 Litre turbocharged engine. The difference being the choice of a 7-speed dual clutch automatic box or a classic 6-speed manual.

Headlining the Megane act is the GT model producing a meaty 151kw from its 1.6 litre turbocharged engine.  The GT comes with some features exclusive to its model such as the MULTI-SENSE handling feature and full LED headlight technology. Other items include leather seats,18” alloy wheels, an electronic parking brake to take away all the fun and paddle shifts.

High-end technologies on this vehicle include 4CONTROL chassis which is the only vehicle in its segment to feature this. 4CONTROL works by turning the rear wheels slightly when cornering, this small movement has a big effect on road holding and performance. I’m sure this is going to be a fun car to drive.

Another great feature is MULTI-SENSE, this enables individual users to modify many aspects of the vehicle from driving dynamics such as accelerator mapping, gearbox mapping and steering response just to name a few. The classic pre-sets like Comfort, Eco and sport are also available.

The new Megane looks fantastic and has some exciting and personal driver based features. We will soon have our hands on one and will be able to bring you an in-depth review.

 

Pricing is as follows :

Renault Megane Dynamique – R 279 900

Renault Megane GT-LINE :

– Manual: R 339 900

– Auto: R 354 900

Renault Megane GT – R 449 900

 

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Finally: Honda’s new Civic Type R driven.

It’s arrived: Honda’s new Civic Type R

For many years  VW, BMW and even Mercedes fans have had to hear about the new Honda Civic Type R that’s on its way and how this car is destined to annihilate anything that challenges it. We all awaited this car and the hype behind it, the first ever turbocharged Civic Type R. Car magazines from around the world published concepts of it, later Nurburgring times were announced with video evidence, and some journalists even drove the car. Yet we kept waiting and waiting for this car to be released on our South African soil. Eventually after many years of threats, the car arrived and we finally had the chance to drive it.

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Now here’s the thing about hyping a car too much, for those doing all the talking, they put themselves in a position to look very stupid if the car fails to deliver. Even we were sceptical about all the figures, “228 kW’s and 400 Nm’s on the front wheels? This was surely deemed to be a torque steer machine” we thought.

Well crunch time arrived and just looking at it in the pits sparked a fire of excitement in us. The sharp lines on the outside and the blood red bucket seats inside added to the suspense. So what’s it like behind the wheel? After a few laps around Killarney raceway, all we could think about was the smug look that all the Honda lovers would have, after we all had to admit that they were correct.

You see there is a simple factor that determines the reception of a hot hatch. Speed is important obviously, handling too, but one factor is the deal breaker, fun factor. This is where the Type R outshines the competition because there is fun everywhere in this car. From the bold design, to the short-throw gearbox, to the ludicrous induction sounds it makes. The character of this car is like that of an ADHD child, it wants to play all the time. The difference is that an ADHD child will set the house on fire but the Honda will set your emotions on fire.

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Not only is the new Civic Type R fun, it is very capable on the track. The way that differential works and how the car uses its power and how it grips through corner after corner is something that makes it really stand out. Yes the competition may have faster cars but there is something so special about this car that getting beaten on a straight line is not on your mind when you’re behind the wheel.

 

The combination of turbo charging and V-Tec technology is remarkable, because the high revving nature of the car is still there. Only this time it’s accompanied by torque, torque and more torque. The “R” button further adds to the hooliganism in the car by sharpening the throttle response and firmness of the suspension.

The Type R is not flawless though, the ride is still quite hard on the road and it’s not exactly discreet. So if you’re in the type of industry that doesn’t welcome large spoilers and protruding diffusers, you may be in trouble if your order is already in. That being said, if you didn’t buy a Type R for whatever reason you had, we don’t think Honda would care really. They didn’t mean for this car to be the ultimate all rounder, they developed it to be fast and to excite and to show-off what Honda can do. Based on the finished product we can say they did their job.

 

The biggest pill to swallow is the price of R586 400. Then again when you were a little boy, you didn’t worry too much about how much that toy you really wanted cost, did you? You were willing to spend all your savings on it. The same applies for those in the market for cars like these. The reason for purchasing one will not be about price, it will be about want. Hence why despite the hair raising price of a Mercedes-Benz A45, you still see a good amount of them on the road.

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The competitors in this segment play a different game to the one that Honda is playing though. For instance, The VW Golf R is a massively impressive car and it is practical as well. It is probably the best all-round hot hatch money can buy. It is an everyday car that can be a hot hatch when you want it to. Whereas the Honda Civic Type R is a hot hatch all the time that can be used as an everyday car, if you don’t mind all the stares. As a result, the Type R’s direct competitor in terms of its purpose is probably the Renault Megane RS. These two cars share the same interests, that of making grown men feel like little boys again, and boy oh boy the new Civic Type R made us want to play. After many years of waiting, we’re happy to say we weren’t disappointed.

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