Tag: Driven review

The Audi Q2 is expensive, but it’s worth it.

Audi Q2 Review South Africa

Audi Q2 Driven Review

Audi Q2 Review South Africa

Unique and distinguished are words I would use when talking about Audi’s latest Q-Model. It’s obviously not a supercar, but still possibly turns as many heads due to its individual hexagonal style based on Audi’s new design language.  The Audi Q2 can’t really be faulted, then, in terms of design because this individual style looks pretty good. Many road users want a vehicle that is unique, and offers a little spice to stand out – luckily for them, the Q2 to offers just that.

Audi Q2 Review South Africa

This car has received quite a bit of stick in other departments though, with one of those being value for money. What makes a buyer choose the Q2 over other vehicles on the road? That is a very difficult question to answer.

One thing the Audi doesn’t fall short on is drive quality. At the end of the day, no matter how big or small or hexagonal it is, it’s built by Audi and drives like one too. The cabin is quiet and comfortable and the 1.4 TFSI engine can muster excitement at times with 110 kW while also being remarkably smooth, especially when paired to the 7-speed S-Tronic gearbox.

Enquire about a new or used Audi vehicle at Audi Centurion here!

Audi Q2 Review South Africa

Build quality is something the Audi Q2 does not fall short on either, this is seen not only through driving but also the everyday use of the vehicle. With regards to the interior, one will find a clean and sophisticated appearance in the usual Audi format. The only let down here is the door cards, they look and feel cheap, but not only that, they are also very plain. An oversight in the quality department that’s for sure.

The big elephant in the room with this car is price, and this is the only real downside to the Audi Q2. A base Audi Q2 with a 1.0 TFSI engine and manual gearbox will set you back R460 000 at the least. The model I tested with the 1.4 TFSI engine enters the market at R529 500, with my test car sitting at just over R568 000 thanks to four optional extras.

Is this car overpriced? Yes and No. The Audi Q2 is overpriced for the market that the Q2 is supposedly aimed at – the younger driver. Now in Europe and other parts of the world, this could very well work, younger people earn better and have much better financing deals at their disposal. Unfortunately, this is not the case in South Africa, so is this respect, it is overpriced.

Audi Q2 Review South Africa

On the other hand and with all things taken into consideration such as build quality, ride comfort and interior and exterior design, the Audi Q2 is well worth its price tag. For me, the Q2 is a premium crossover vehicle, one only needs to see the optional extras list with items such as Audi’s Pilot assist, for example.

Personally, I feel the Audi Q2 attracts attention from a similar market to the Q3. It has a very soccer mom type feel and it’s a very nice option when nipping to the shops or getting the kids from school, for those who can afford it.

A buyer on a budget looking for the best deal won’t buy this car, but a buyer looking for a daily run around without much concern for any kind of budget will head straight to the Audi showroom and purchase a Q2, and they will have a very nice car indeed.

Audi Q2 Review South Africa

Alternatives to the Audi Q2

Mazda CX-3 – The Mazda CX-3 shares many similarities to the Audi Q2 with one of them being a unique and edgy design. It’s a very nice drive although the powertrain is not as rewarding, but it also features a pretty decent interior too.

Audi Q3 A slightly bigger but also slightly more boring version on the Audi Q2. It has more space and is definitely more family orientated. The starting price is just over R470,000. For R578,000 there is a 2.0 TFSI powertrain on offer with 132kW – That’s just R10k more than our Audi Q2 test car.

Audi Q2 Review South Africa

Pricing for the Audi Q2 in South Africa:

Audi Q2 1.0 TFSI – R464 500

Audi Q2 1.0 TFSI S Tronic – R483 000

Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI – R511 000

Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI  S Tronic – R529 500

Audi Q2 2.0 TDI – R565 000

 

Enquire about a new or used Audi vehicle at Audi Centurion here!

The Opel MOKKA X: A Crossover For South African City Life.

Opel MOKKA X Driven Review

Crossover vehicles are becoming very popular, they bring the style of an SUV together with the compactness of a hatchback. They prove to be popular for those with young families or ones who just can’t stretch the budget for the real deal. Crossover’s look good, a little different from the everyday vehicle, are well-priced and are a better option for the city over an SUV.

So it’s not difficult to see, then, why this segment has literally boomed in the past couple of years and with more variants coming to market, there are many choices available. One of these variants is Opel’s kind of new MOKKA X.

I couldn’t quite get my head around the visual aspect of this vehicle when it first arrived on our doorstep. It has really nice design elements but also looks a little plumbly – a chubby teenager with a handful of candyfloss comes to mind. It definitely has sporty crossover elements and from some angles its looks great, whereas others are not so appealing. The exterior is still a little lukewarm for me, so let’s talk about the inside.

Interior

The interior of the MOKKA X was a great surprise. It isn’t what you’d describe as the lap of luxury, but it is refreshing. The car boasts a very simple, clean and sophisticated feel with striking visual elements that catch your eye. Along with the descent trim comes a nice steering wheel and the leather padding on the dash in the Cosmo edition is pleasing to the eyes. I felt very comfortable and relaxed in the MOXXA X cabin which I feel is very important. Especially if you’re the kind of driver who values comfort and aesthetics over performance, because this isn’t a performance car…

Opel MOKKA X Review

Driving

From a driving perspective, the MOKKA X feels like a city car. The steering is very light, so light in fact that I found myself scanning for a city steering button – it didn’t exist. This didn’t cause me any issues, though, and it made for a great turning circle and quick response when nipping around Durban – I rather enjoyed it.

To be honest, the whole driving experience in the Opel MOKKA X was fairly pleasant. As mentioned before, the MOKKA X is no hot cross over. With 103 kW and 200 N.m on tap from just 1 850 rpm, it’S no slouch and has ample power. These figures are produced by 1400 cc turbocharged motor which also returns impressive consumption figures at a claimed 6.0 l/100km combined.

Overview and Pricing

For me, The Opel MOKKA X is a crossover with a slightly city biased nature, which is a good thing. It has the space and style of a mini SUV, but drives like a city car with its responsive engine and nippy handling. This is not a bad point at all. As many people buy crossovers for the style anyway, with no inclination to actually crossover onto any other road surface than tarmac.

It boasts a good amount of space and has an impressive drivetrain. It is also very well connected with Carplay and Android Auto available. I had a blast in the MOKKA X! It’s a good fit for a young family and with a starting price of R317,500 it’s also very affordable.

  • MOKKA X 1.4T Enjoy 6MT

    R 317, 500.00

  • MOKKA X 1.4T Enjoy 6AT

    R 328, 400.00

  • MOKKA X 1.4T Cosmo 6MT

    R 357, 400.00

  • MOKKA X 1.4T Cosmo 6AT

    R 368, 100.00

 

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Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe Driven Review

We Drive The Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe in South Africa

If Thor had a car, it would be the Mercedes-AMG C63 S. Nothing more, nothing less. You could imagine him driving to his local Starbucks in Asgard, indulging in his “delicious cuppa” smashing it on the floor, bellowing for another and climbing into his C63 S for his daily rounds. This would be before he activates the exhaust flaps from the console, and uses lighting to propel himself to our “green” planet.

That just gives you a taste of the C63 S’ personality. Its loud, it’s in your face, it wants to eat all the children in your neighborhood and I just love it, to a point… From a pure presence perspective, you’ll struggle to find anything this side of R2 million and if you are a hooligan like me, it’s the perfect vehicle for scaring little dogs and their people in Parkhurst or at your local farmer’s market.

 

What you get in this beast of a car is 4.0 liter bi-turbo V8 with those lovely turbos nestled within the V. This is called a “hot V”. From this configuration, this compact engine churns out 375 monstrous kilowatts with a healthy thud of 650 N.m. This is because we had the S version on test, you know, for the people who find the “normal” C 63 lacking in poke with its miserly 350 kW and 600 N.m. Here though, is where it gets tricky.

I have never spent time with a vehicle that constantly has an ESP light flashing at you. It becomes such a normal fixture within the cabin that when you don’t see it flicking, you think there is something wrong. That orange light right in the middle of the well lit display is accompanied by the fuel reserve light that also likes to make a guest appearance more often than appreciated. The massive torque being sent to the 285 section nineteen-inch wheels at the rear all but struggle to the point where you decide to engage Sport Handling mode which allows for a little bit of slip from the rear axle, but not enough to make you change your underwear. Speaking about underwear…

When the C63 S arrived at our offices, it coincided with the test of the year, being the Mercedes-AMG C63 S sedan, the BMW M3 Competition Pack M-DCT and the new kid on the block, the Alfa-Romeo Giulia QV and as tempting as it would be to reveal those test results, those will be kept for another article and feature. What surprised me was the nature of the C63 S. As much as it’s a fully accomplished sports coupe, it felt nervous at the limit and when you sat back and thought about it, the biggest downfall of the C 63S is its weight.

 

The vehicle is just not as nimble as its competitors through the twisties, a fact that reared its head while attacking a couple of S-bends. The vehicle then decided to fight back with what can plainly be described as the most violent tank slapper I have ever experienced. This came about when we found that even though the ESP can be ‘deactivated’, there comes a point where the control module feels like the angle that you have decided to adopt is too lary and therefore gives the inside wheel the slightest of grabs, mid-power slide! Then weight transfer happens and boom, the fight of your life happens with that steering wheel, right foot and sphincter actuating in sync. I know we are nitpicking here, but this is just in comparison with its competitors and something to note granted that this is the cream of the C-Class crop.

Other than that, the C63 S, with deep pockets, is a lovely beast to live with. It’s thirsty, very thirsty, despite Merc’s claim of it being the most fuel-efficient high-performance eight-cylinder motor but it has all the modern conveniences that you would expect from a vehicle of this calibre, and in my opinion, it looks the best in its class, along with that addictive noise. I’m glad the ladies and gents from Affalterbach decided to employ Thor to come up with the noise from those exhausts. It was a very expensive week but man, what a week! The C63 S will be sorely missed.

 

Audi A3 Facelift Driven Review

Audi recently facelifted the A3 and while the changes are only design based, I was still interested to get behind Audi’s entry level A3 with its 1.0-litre Turbo engine.

The updates to the A3 consist of updated designs for the headlights and taillights, with some slight bumper design adjustments which completes the changes to the exterior elements.

The overall improvements provide a sportier and more dynamic look, this can be improved further with the optional S-line kit, which I must say looked fantastic on the test vehicle I was driving.

In my opinion, the interior on the A3 has always been fairly simple. The dashboard provides a streamlined and clean design with the motorised digital screen as a central element. The controls for the Audi MMI system are all featured on the centre console between the front driver and passenger seats. The buttons and scroll dial which are situated here are very easy to access and also have a simple, non complicated layout.

Interior designs on some vehicles can seem very cluttered with buttons everywhere, and with technology inside cars increasing at a fast rate, it’s good to see that Audi have this all under control.

Enquire about a new or used Audi vehicle at Audi Centurion here!

The cabin is finished with metal, leather and alcantara. It has a very premium and well-built feel, which is a very important factor in a premium hatchback. The sport seats, which are an optional extra, are a great addition in terms of the visual appeal. They are wide and support the body well with good bolstering, but I feel that the only need for them on a 1.0 vehicle is purely for the visual element. I can’t see these cars being thrashed around the racetrack anytime soon.

Earlier, I touched on the fact that technology has become a big part of the automotive industry, and Audi has its fair share. Some buyers may choose one brand over the other, depending on what latest technology is available.

The Audi A3 features the full media system with  7”screen including MMI navigation. Audi’s system works well with many features of the A3 being controlled from the system interface, such as lighting and other vehicle settings.

Carplay/ AndroidAuto also features in this vehicle – simply connecting a phone will enable it automatically, with the mobile styled display popping up on the screen and giving the driver easy access to contacts, maps, music and more. With CarPlay, hitting the voice control button on the steering wheel will activate your best friend, Siri, and as always, you can ask her anything you like. If you are unsure on how Carplay works or what it does, you can read our article on it here:

Audi Pilot Assist has to be my favorite feature.The classic dash and dials are replaced with a full digital display. Speed, rpm, fuel, economy figures, media, navigation and so forth are all displayed in digital format.The driver can change what they see and how they see it.

I enjoyed the map view, with the speed and rpm displays retracting into smaller dials in the corner. The maps/navigation then fills the rest of the display which looks very futuristic, although you can lose track of speed, it happened to me once or twice. Zooming in and out and changing views and menus are all accessed of the steering wheel controls, which becomes natural once you have used it for a short while.

 

Behind the Wheel 

I was surprised by the 1.0l turbocharged motor, the 85kw it produced was used well and at times the car had a nippy kind of feel. The power is delivered through a six-speed manual gearbox and as you can expect from an audi vehicle, it was smooth and focused.

What stood out to me with this setup was the A3’s ability to pick up nicely and gain speed when cruising on the highway in 6th gear.  The small engine did not come across as if it was straining and it made overtaking easy, without changing down to 5th.

There are, however, a few drawbacks with this engine.When pulling off, the A3 needs revs to get going, and if you short change from 1st to 2nd at low rpm or on a slight incline, the car struggles for a few seconds, before picking up again. I had this issue mainly below 1800 rpm before the boost really kicks in.  This was really the only issue I had, and overall the 1.0l TFSI performed well from a driving perspective.

From an economic perspective, though, there is another side to the story. You may have read that some manufacturers are now looking at going back in the direction of higher cc engines. It has come to light that these small turbocharged motors do give really good fuel economy figures, but only in perfect, controlled environments. In day to day life, in environments that are beyond the manufacturer’s control, they are not that great.

During my time with the A3, the figures I produced were around 8.0-9.0 l/100km. I was mainly driving in an urban environment and was at times heavy on the throttle. With perfect economical driving the figure would definitely be lower, but how much lower is the question? Driving on South African roads brings its own challenges which doesn’t often lend to being more economical.

 

The Problem

My biggest issue with the Audi A3 is the price. The starting price for this model is R390,000. For this, one gets a lot of car, a well built, reliable German machine. The list price on the test vehicle I was driving was R520,000.

Thats a big difference, the reason being is this specific vehicle had a range of optional extras fitted.  Now, not all of those optional extras are actually needed. Items such as the sport seats and S-Line suspension are not of paramount importance, especially on a 85 kW car. Some of the other optional extras, though, you might actually want.

Options such as the Premium Audi Sound System, Navigation and CarPlay, Panoramic Sunroof, the S-line exterior kit which gives the car another dimension in terms of styling. Let’s also not forget the 20” alloy wheels and Audi Pilot Assist.
This means that a buyer will be paying around R500k for a 1.0L vehicle. Yes, its turbocharged and has a power output similar to that of a 1400 or 1600 cc Naturally aspirated engine, but it is still a 1.0L engine.

This is definitely a brand orientated car, and that is exactly what you will be paying for, the badge.Saying that, the Audi A3 is a great car and vehicles across the board are becoming more expensive. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it, it was lovely to drive and overall a really good experience. If you are happy to spend this kind of money, you will have a great car. Personally, though, it’s just too much for me.

Enquire about a new or used Audi vehicle at Audi Centurion here!

The young executive: Mercedes-Benz CLA 200

I must confess, the CLA is not my favourite Mercedes-Benz. I always found it to be oddly shaped and awkward – it looks like the uglier younger brother of the CLS. That being said, my opinion of the car changed after driving the face-lifted CLA 200, a car that I thought I would’ve hated. See, most of our interactions with Mercedes’ products have been with their hardcore Mercedes-AMG range. The likes of the A45, GTS and C63 are a lot to take in. The C63 was the best when it came to living with the car, but the others were just unpleasant from a daily driving perspective. So getting the “bottom of the range” CLA was a welcome idea and when it arrived – it looked much better in appearance than I expected. It had the optional AMG Line fitted to it, making it very sporty looking. The larger bumpers with red accents on the front and rear give the illusion of something much sportier than the 1.6 litre Turbocharged engine up front.

The interior of this specific car was also quite lovely. A combination of leather and cloth on the sport seats looked great and the overall cabin was a nice place to be. Being in this business of reviewing cars can make you feel rather numb as you hop in and out of various machines each week. When you drive a car that makes you feel good, you tend to remember it and funnily enough, the CLA made me feel this way. See, I’m a young person that lives in the North of Johannesburg, a part of town that measures status as a very important thing. In the week of me driving the CLA, I noticed that others’ perception of me was different to when I drive other cars.

Stepping out of a sporty looking Mercedes-Benz aimed at young people gives you a good feeling, as though you’ve achieved something others haven’t. That’s the thing about cars like the “ordinary young folks’ Mercs”. The A and CLA Classes are cars for young executives. If you drive the AMG variants of these cars, it’s not the same because the price tag of those cars often creates debate in the car world. If I drive a CLA 45, people would ask why I didn’t buy an RS3 Audi for instance, or even a used BMW M4. But if a drive a CLA 200 that looks great, people respect the fact that I chose to spend my R475 000 on this car with less debate. It’s strange.

For somebody who isn’t a performance freak or even a car enthusiast but still wants the feeling of exclusivity, cars like the CLA 200 make perfect sense. Even more sense than an A Class because it offers more practical value. The little engine is also quite punchy with 115kW and 250Nm. Although the AMG Line makes things firmer, the ride quality was not too compromised, but ever so slightly sportier. Considering all these things, my mental checklist started ticking things off. Does it look good? Yes. Does it have enough space for a little one? Yes. Does it say I’m successful? Yes. Lastly, is it affordable? Kind of. Well if you’re that young executive and you’ve got a good job, you’ll most likely be looking at cars within the R500 000 mark, so if that’s the case then, yes.

It was refreshing driving a regular Mercedes-Benz. The brand has come a long way to create products that appeal to a younger market. This is a tricky market that Mercedes has been able to appeal to in terms of status. Many things aside, the most important thing most young people wonder about driving a specific car is “what does it say about me?” In the case of the updated CLA range, it can make people say, “That person is doing well for themselves”. As vain as this sounds, we live in a vanity driven society and if that’s what the Mercedes-Benz brand appeals to, they’ve got a winning product.

Experiencing Namibia With The Isuzu KB.

Ford Ranger 2.2 vs ISUZU KB 300

NAMIBIA. A place few in population but vast in space, a location which holds some of the largest sand dunes in the world, it’s an eye opener to the new visitor and it’s definitely a location that should be included on anyone’s bucket list, it has always been in mine. Apart from cars, landscape and adventure photography has always a great passion of mine and over the past year Namibia had moved itself up on my bucket list to somewhere in the top 5. So When Francisco called me and asked if I would like to attend the Isuzu launch in Namibia I got very excited, he already knew my answer. The original plans intended on us staying in Namibia for one night, but that would not do for me. I arranged to remain in Namibia for a further two nights so I could get out into the open and explore this great part of the world.

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Isuzu would be providing accommodation for the first night, but after that, I would be on my own. I went and purchased an incredibly cheap and pretty useless two man tent, so small that I could not lie down flat inside it without stretching and busting the seams. It might also worth noting that I’m only 167cm tall, it may fit two men wide, but the only person lying down in that tent was a sall child. Good job I didn’t plan on spending much time at all in inside it.

The plans were for me to stay the night at JHB airport and fly out with the other Journalists the next day, which I did. Isuzu put me up in the “ airport hotel “ which I was fairly impressed with and got a goods nights rest. The next day involved the usual, an early rise, an easy check in and pass through JHB international security. The first issue I encountered was the small plane, no I’m not a nervous flyer. It was more the fact that I was lugging two camera bags onto a 40 seater plane with overhead storage so small I would struggle to fit my lunchbox in it.  It was amusing to see the flamboyant air steward trying to force close the door, nearly bringing down half the ceiling fascia in the process. I opted to keep the drone on my lap, if the paper plane did go down, at least I would die with my memories.

 

Arrival

Looking out the window when Coming into land at Walvis Bay International Airport emphasises the vastness of this land. For as far as the eye can see, it’s sand,  with the odd little town coming into view as your eyes adjust and pick out the details. The first treat of this trip was unexpected one as we taxied, looking over the wing we noticed an unusually looking plane. After some consultation with the other guys, we realised that this was a legendary ER-2 high-altitude aircraft, used by NASA for atmospheric tests. An awesome sighting indeed, we even watched this machine go from standstill to airborne in somewhere around 400 meters.

After a few minor issues at the airport, such as a fire and loss of luggage, we were greeted by the Isuzu team and finally on our way. We partnered up and headed down the dusty road in the brand new Isuzu KB 300; this vehicle was the top of the range spec, apart from suspension updates, all the other updates to this vehicle are purely visual, the drivetrain options remain the same. The KB 300 features a 3-Litre turbo diesel producing 130kw and a meaty 380nm of torque. The facia changes to the KB include a newly designed bonnet, radiator grille and front fog lamps. New projector headlamps conclude the changes to the front of the vehicle, with LX models featuring LED daylight running lights. The updated design continues to the rear of the vehicle with an updated rear tailgate, and the introduction of a reverse camera integrated into the tailgate handle on LX models.  The LX model also gets updated 18″ alloy wheels, with the rest of the range receiving updated 16″ alloys. Interior changes the same throughout the range with an updated instrument cluster, gear change indicator on manual models to help keep the planet green and finally, roof mounted rear speakers.

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All in all, these little changes make a considerable difference and produce a refreshed KB.  Heading along the dirt road to our first stop at the Swakop riverbed, it was easily noticed that the KB had a great ride and handled the terrain well.  This was most likely due to the time and effort Isuzu has put into refining the suspension on KB models, 4 x 2 models receive updated front and rear dampers with the 4×4 models just getting changes to the rear dampers.  Isuzu has refined the rebound control of the damper, which is when the damper is on the down stroke after being bumped or compressed up by a bump or road surface. The dampers primary job is to control the suspension spring and the speed in which it reacts, an integral part of a suspension system.

Dune Driving Day One.

We soon arrived at the tempory white marquee set up near the riverbed before our first exploration. After restoring energy levels, rehydrating and a fantastically exciting briefing, we lowered tire pressures to 0.8 Bar and headed off into the unknown, for the instructors and tour guides, it was their back garden.

It was a fairly easy route with small and moderate climbs and descents, the path through the riverbed twisted and turned as massive dunes towered on either side of us. This run was to help us find our “sand feet”, it was pleasant and an extremely enjoyable drive until we finally stopped off at one random pipe sticking about 1 meter out of the ground. A few meters behind the pipe were the remains of an old truck,  mainly the steering column and suspension lay rusted and half buried in the sand.  The story goes that in the 1970’s, a team came here to drill for water, the truck broke down and they left, never to return to collect it.  It takes around 8 seconds for a mere R1 coin to hit the bottom of the pipe, making it roughly 170m deep! After the break, we swapped drivers and headed back the way we came, although I recognised nothing.

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The evening ended with us checking in at the beautiful stand hotel which looks over Swakopmund beach, Along with everyone else, I still not have my luggage. Isuzu were fantastic at this point as they had arranged fresh clothes, deodorant and toothbrushes for all, even thought the lost luggage had nothing to do with them. We settled down for a hearty meal, banter and some good conversation before grabbing an early night; we had been told that the next day would be fantastic, 8 hours in the dunes, how could it not be?

NAMIBIA, DUNES, DRIVING, 4X4,THEMOTORISTS,ISUZU, LANDSCAPES, SAND, AFRICA, SAMAYRES

NAMIBIA, DUNES, DRIVING, 4X4,THEMOTORISTS,ISUZU, LANDSCAPES, SAND, AFRICA, SAMAYRES

Dune Driving Day Two

The next day we rose early, full of anticipation and excitement. A quick breakfast with the team, a change of vehicles and we hit the road. We headed through Walvis Bay and-and onto the beach where we stopped and again, dropped our tires pressures to 0.8 bar.  Stretched out in front of us was miles of beach, it was a very gloomy morning with lots of fog and soft light, adding to this was the 3-foot left-hander wave running peacefully just off the shoreline. It was all very surreal.

Second-Day-2

30 minutes later we were still tearing up the sand as we pelted across the beach, a line of Isuzu bakkies seemed headed for nowhere, every now and again the odd seal would sit up and screech as we passed. The heat of the sun began to burn off the mist as we headed closer to our destination. Slowly coming into view were the sand dunes we would soon be attempting to conquer, one of the only places in the world where sand dunes meet the ocean and man, it was beautiful. The morning light hit the dunes and turned the sea blue as we headed closer, as a photographer I’ve seen many beautiful sights, this was definitely one of the best.

The convoy came to a quick stop with dunes on the left and ocean waters on the right, many have been caught out here by the rising tides, causing them to be trapped and vehicles consumed the ocean. Nature doesn’t play games. As we carried on ploughing through the sand, the beach opened out and in the distance was an Isuzu bakkie, ready and waiting with cold refreshments before we started to sweat. The excitement was in the air as we stared on at the dunes we would be facing, small jackals could be seen climbing the steep sands. They made it look easy, would the Isuzu KB do the same?

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No more child play and the speed hole.

There was no easing into this day, we turned off the beach and straight into a sharp drop with a steady, long accent which needed all the momentum we could muster. A few of us got stuck here, not realising the brute force sometimes needed. This style carried on for a while, steep accents followed by very steep descents. The Isuzu handled it well although we were told that it’s not about the vehicle, but the driver. This was my first experience off road dune driving and it amazed me at how aggressive one needs to be, we were informed to feed the throttle and use every ounce of power the 3Litre Diesel produced.  Today made yesterday look as natural as a child making sand castles, more challenges lay ahead. Being here really helps to realise the beauty and sheer scale of the Namib desert, this is a place where appreciation for 4×4 systems rings true, it still blows my mind the things that man and machine can conquer.

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If you asked me what was their highlight of my time with Isuzu, I would reply with a few simple words “Speed Hole”

After a few hours of negotiating drops and climbs, we pulled up on the top of a rise and jumped out of the vehicles, the view in front of us was what could only be described as a huge desert shaped breakfast bowl, steep on the sides and incredibly deep.  Another briefing came, this one was a little more interesting. ” I’m going to give you a rollercoaster experience” was some of the words mentioned. The aim : drop down and climb up the other side of this huge sand bowl, We were all offered the opportunity to give it a go and the instructor gave us a demo. The Isuzu KB Charged up to the entrance of the speed hole at full tilt and entered the decent. Once on the decent it’s all about power and momentum, at no point during this do you even slightly back off the power. They say when the vehicle reaches the bottom of the hole, it is easily doing three figures on the speedo. The daunting bit comes when the vehicle enters the climb, speed slows dramatically and the throttle stays pinned. You hope and pray that the Isuzu keeps momentum and continues over the crest.  You do not want to get stuck, be the one guy who left a brand new Isuzu KB in the bottom of a hole in the Namib desert, there is a very thin chance of vehicle recovery.

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Not many attempted this feat, I was nervous, more to the fact that I didn’t want to be “that guy” especially on my first launch with Isuzu. I knew if I left the Namib desert without completing this task, I would be extremely gutted. Time was short; I teamed up with Andrew, we agreed he would do the run one way, and I would return. To this day it was one of the coolest things I’ve done, the speed, G-force and sense of accomplishment is a feeling I will hold onto, besides the fact that you feel like a badass and that you are part of 5% who had the gonads to do it.

SPEEDHOLE1

 

Back to Deserting

The trip carried on, climbing and descending sand mountains,  One of the warnings we had in our briefing was about cornering too quickly. Due to low tires pressures, there is always a risk of the tire leaving the rim. This happened to one certain Isuzu man, who merely sat back and chuckle as he proceeded to tell the team it was a good job they practised this procedure before hand. The off-road team quickly rectified this issue, and we were back on our way.

NAMIBIA, DUNES, DRIVING, 4X4,THEMOTORISTS,ISUZU, LANDSCAPES, SAND, AFRICA, SAMAYRES

NAMIBIA, DUNES, DRIVING, 4X4,THEMOTORISTS,ISUZU, LANDSCAPES, SAND, AFRICA, SAMAYRES

There was only one point in the trip where I got really stuck, 3 times. I don’t know what it was. Apparently I wasn’t using the “full power “of the vehicle. Well unless the other Isuzu’s had more travel in their accelerator pedals, that was not the case. It wasn’t even that steep, a steady accent with thick sand and at this point we had moved into low range mode. I feel I was too close to the Isuzu in front and could not build up enough momentum for the climb. I finally got out of the mess and enjoyed catching up with the rest of the crew, it was a benefit in disguise being left behind for a short while as I got to enjoy the path head, uninterrupted at a good pace. My partner and I had some fun moments when we needed to decrease speed quickly because the a sharp drop appeared out of nowhere. Visions of the Dakar rally filled our minds, well Dakar rally wipeouts. As good a car the KB is, I don’t think it was built or designed to slide across the sand on its front end.

As the day draws to a close and we could see a simple white tent in the distance the dunes progressively got smaller but more enjoyable, a few occasions came about with the rear of the vehicle sliding out during a cornered decent. The bigger dunes were great to tackle but the smaller ones are more technical and can be taken at a greater speed, which is also very fun.

Challenges

On any adventure trip like this, there are always going to be a few challenges, apart from the time above when we got stuck, there were a few other challenging times.  For me, I like to see where the vehicle is going, the path ahead, you could say. On steep descents you cannot see the dune below or where it flattens out until you have committed, it’s nice to plan ahead but this wasn’t always possible, and it takes a little faith in the vehicle to push over the edge and continue with the decent.

Another challenge was to remember which way the wheels are directing the KB in, when in the heat of the moment your attention is drawn away by other things such as the surroundings and the challenge ahead. At a quick glance it may seem the wheels are straight but more often than not you may find that you are a full wheel rotation away from the wheels facing straight ahead. This can affect you badly when out in the dunes as the front wheels scrape and sand builds up quickly in front of the wheels which can cause the vehicle to get stuck. It’s important to keep some attention on what you are doing with the wheel.

Namibia

The 4×4 experience was over, and it was time for me to part ways with the team, I picked up my hire car and headed out on my lone wolf mission.  I would spend two nights at Spitskoppe, a beautiful campsite surrounding a mountain a few hundred KM’s away from Swakopmund.

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These two days were spent photographing and videoing the vast landscapes and impressive night sky; it was during a new moon period which means the sky is extremely dark and the milky way shines brightly. This was a fantastic two days but can be a little lonely during the hot days, as there is not much to do. There is so much to see and experience in this part of the world; I experienced only a very small part of what Namibia has to offer and will be heading back. It’s a vast land with friendly people and it feels very safe to head out and explore. Many companies offer 4X4 Hire with endless camping equipment, if you have the chance to go, don’t hesitate, spend a good few weeks taking in everything this land has to offer.

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Overview – The Isuzu KB

Overall the small changes to this vehicle make it a good upgrade, Apart from the NB 300, Isuzu has the NB 250, which is also a Turbodiesel producing 100kw and 320Nm. Also available are two workhorse models. The 250 Base Single Cab and 250 Fleetside Single Cab producing 58kw and 170Nm

I like to think of the Isuzu KB as a workman’s bakkie, it’s a workhorse, but it is not too fancy or luxurious like you might find in a Ranger Wildtrack, for example. It’s a solid vehicle, looks great and does the job. A big advantage to the KB is that it comes with Sat Nav, it’s a little finicky to use and has a terribly annoying speed warning system, that is deactivated when Navigation is not in use. Thank goodness.

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McLaren 570S Track Day

We may have been a little quiet this week on the site, but that’s just because last weekend we had our first true Supercar, the McLaren 570s.

The McLaren, featuring a 3.8 V8 and producing 419kw with 600Nm of torque blew us away. You will find the full article in our latest edition of TheMotorist, releasing next week.( Subscribe here: https://goo.gl/eGRLic) For now, we have some fiery images of the 570s for you gaze upon. Have an awesome weekend. 20161127_samayres_14348-edit-2

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