Tag: driving

Alfa Romeo Stelvio – fast, fun but expensive.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Driven Review

If you are familiar with the team here at TheMotorist, you will know it consists of myself, Francisco and Richard. While the latter two happen to be brothers, Francisco and myself are born within a month of each other. Unfortunately for Richard, he has passed the “fun part” of his life already. What I mean by that is, he’s older than us and he has entered a stage of life that consists of nappies and mortgages. More often than not on some of our recent video projects, a good man who goes by the name of Andrew joins us. Andrew is the editor of Top Gear Magazine SA and happens to be the same age as Richard. Together, they share notes on child rearing and finding the best family doctor.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

So I feel it’s no coincidence then that the younger two of the group fell head over heels for the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, while the older bunch really didn’t fancy it that much. Maybe bigger issues in life have made them lose their sense of fun? Who knows. I’m not insinuating that the older you get, the more boring you become, I would never do that…never ever…

However, it seems that maybe the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is the SUV for the younger person even though you need older person money to afford it. It’s a catch 22 really. The Stelvio throws things at you, that you don’t expect – hot hatch driving dynamics being one of them. It’s quite surprising to be fooled into thinking you’re driving a Golf GTI, when you’re actually in a midsize SUV. Another thrilling factor about the Stelvio, is the fact that it’s rather quick. Put your foot down and you notice the digital speedometer climb rather quickly, much faster than expected – especially since it’s powered by a 2.0l turbocharged engine. Turn a corner and notice the front end turn in quite sharply. Again, more than expected. In the end, you find yourself becoming quite giddy in this vehicle, like when your parents would step out the house for some milk and you could be naughtier than usual. That’s what happens when you’re in a 206kW/400N.m Italian SUV with some heritage behind the brand.

You see, while many ( Richard and Andrew ) see SUV’s as only needing to be large vehicles with lots of space for your children, your friend’s children and the expensive bike you use once in a blue moon – the Stelvio offers more. Yes, it ticks the boxes when it comes to safety, it has a quality interior and offers modern technology. Above that, it’s also quite fast which makes it quite exciting – something other vehicles in the Alfa Romeo Stelvios league don’t offer. They may even be better than the Stelvio in other ways, but the Alfa brings with it a fun personality.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

The performance SUV segment is one that often causes debate. Some lament that they “don’t need to be SO sharp, or be THAT fast”, but the question is why not? Why can’t certain SUV’s offer both the practicality and space, whilst also being a little invigorating too? In the age of extensive choice, there’s a place for an SUV such as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. It’s not a full-blown eye-watering performance SUV (the QV variant will fill the gap). What it is however, is a good middle ground option.  

The thing is, the Stelvio will set you back R834 000, which is not exactly cheap. If you do some scratching around, you’re bound to find more value for money products. That being said, buying into the Alfa brand is never a purchase based on practicality, but rather one based on emotion. So, if you’re an Alfa lover, this SUV is for you because it does evoke emotion and kudos to them for staying true to their brand ethos. For me, the Stelvio is a great SUV. It looks the part, feels the part and drives the part too. As a future young dad, I’d appreciate a good thrill once in a while, when the princes and princesses are tucked away in bed of course. Now it’s just a matter of convincing Richard and Andrew.

 

The New KIA Picanto

KIA Picanto

New KIA Picanto Driven Review

To many, the big and burly Range Rover Sport SVR currently in my basement is the ideal “dream car” with its high driving position, head-turning looks and thunderous soundtrack to accompany all 405 of its force fed kilowatts. However, the idea of running around in it on a daily basis is somewhat terrifying when one considers the indicated 42 l/100km fuel consumption figure I managed between my apartment and the highway. That’s not a typo – 42, as in 21 + 21 ….

KIA Picanto

It is at this point then, that I start to hear the murmuring voice of sensible John in the back of my head, reminding me of usable power and practicality and realistic blah blah blah. The fact of the matter is this – YOU DO NOT NEED A RANGE ROVER FOR YOU AND YOUR GYM BAG!

This brings me to the KIA Picanto, the sensible bastion of all things small, frugal and good valuey. “You made that word up” shouts a font of knowledge in the background, and yes, I did, but it’s done as much harm as KIA has by packing sturdy build quality and appealing design into the all-new Picanto – none! From the not too radically different exterior design to the interior consisting of materials bordering on premium, the entire package is a master class in the sub-B Segment and proves that you don’t need to spend silly money on a stylish and “nice” car that will get you and some things from A to B, wherever those A and B might B.

KIA Picanto

Rather cleverly, we were forced (yes forced) to drive the previous generation KIA Picanto to Philadelphia (in the Cape amen) where we would then exchange the old for the new, a back-to-back comparison if you will. Immediately, it was noted that the tactile quality of everything has improved drastically. Add to this the impressive NVH( Noise, Vibration and Harshness Technology), especially for this segment, and mature road manners and what you have is, by far, the best car in its segment. Interestingly, it’s boot is just 1-litre smaller than that of the Hyundai Grand i10 which competes in the segment above, and KIA are hoping that with competitive pricing and the good old “bums in seats” principle, they are going to capture some of that larger B Segment.

The motor lineup remains unchanged with the 1.0-litre (49 kW/95 N.m) and 1.2-litre (61 kW/122 N.m) petrol motors still the only options, although some fettling and tweaking has been done to further improve what are already perfectly suitable motors. South Africa might be lucky enough to see a little turbo motor somewhere in this Picanto’s lifetime, too… The 1.0-litre variant wasn’t available on the launch, but the 1.2-litre 4-cylinder motor was more than capable of hauling the snazzy little KIA Picanto around the streets of Cape Town and around the Cape Countryside.

KIA Picanto

Pricing is hugely competitive (R134 995 – R195 995) and makes one wonder why some of the competitors have similarly priced or more expensive products with worse quality and specification, although KIA’s have always been known for their lovely standard spec offering.

Four models are on offer – Start, Street, Style and Smart, and the cheapest model still comes standard with Bluetooth connectivity and a driver’s airbag. No ABS, however…
Mid-range vehicles receive other wonderful luxuries such as ABS, electric windows and another airbag and those with not so much money but the urge to splurge get foldy mirrors, a 7-inch touch screen infotainment system, leather here and there and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, amongst others. There are also three automatic models, which can be had in Style trim with a 1.2-litre motor or 1.0-litre motor and Start trim with the 1.2-litre motor.

KIA Picanto Pricing in South Africa

Picanto 1.0 START Manual –    R134 995
Picanto 1.0 STREET Manual –  R149 995
Picanto 1.0 STYLE Manual –     R159 995
Picanto 1.0 STYLE Auto –          R172 995
Picanto 1.0 SMART Manual –   R179 995

Picanto 1.2 START Manual –   R150 995
Picanto 1.2 START Auto –        R163 995
Picanto 1.2 STREET Manual – R165 995
Picanto 1.2 STYLE Manual –    R175 995
Picanto 1.2 STYLE Auto –         R188 995
Picanto 1.2 SMART Manual –  R195 995

Performance on the rocks: JLR’s Ice driving academy in Sweden.

For those that have attended an advanced driving course, you know how it generally involves a lot of driver briefing and hot weather, especially in South Africa. There’s nothing like coming home sunburnt with a certificate to tell the world that you know what ABS braking does. Jaguar, on the other hand, have tried a different approach to this whole thing. They have opened an ice driving academy in Sweden, so you can drive your favourite Jaguar on the rocks. Cars like the F-Type, F-Pace and Range Rover Sport will be made available to drive in slippery sub zero temperatures. Of course,an expert on all things ice related will accompany to teach you how to best handle these cars in such conditions. We’re sure this driving academy must be fun, considering that back home the best part for many doing an advanced driving course is the skid-pan.

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For those not into modern day cars, you’re not left in the lurch because there is the option to drive some vintage Jag’s and Land Rovers as well. This must be a tad bit more intimidating because most  classic cars don’t feature the safety equipment we have in modern cars today, so it may be advisable to bring some extra underpants. One thing is for sure, you’ll come out a better driver and you’ll most likely have a great time. The not so fun part will be paying your R38 000 for this course because that’s what it will cost you in our money.  Yikes.

Find out more here : http://www.jaguar.com/experience-jaguar/iconic-experiences/ice-drive-sweden.html

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