Tag: Francisco Nwamba

The Kevin Hart of BMW’s – M240i Driven

BMW M4240i

BMW M240i – The Kevin Hart of BMW’s

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is what many men would like to look like. 6 foot something, muscles for days and he can lift up one eyebrow independently like a boss. Ask yourself however, can he fit in a MINI Cooper comfortably? Can he easily pop into Woolworths and find a shirt that fits? I’m pretty sure his “bog” must be a little bit bigger than others too…As impressive as his mass is, when he’s not using it, it can be cumbersome. Kevin Hart on the other hand is someone who is also in very good shape as well. In fact, if you follow him on Instagram, you’d know how ripped the guy actually is. He’s a small man though, a very small man. That being said, he probably doesn’t battle doing everyday things. Clothes? No problem. Shoes? Easy fit. MINI Cooper? You damn right. Kevin’s size gives him a nimbleness that The Rock just wouldn’t have. I bet if you asked both of them to run through a busy mall of people, Kevin would be first to get to the end point of the race. The BMW M240i is the Kevin Hart of BMW’s, it’s loud, fast and after many hours of driving it, you don’t get tired of it.

BMW M240i

I’ve always known that the M240i was good, but having both an M240i and an M4 Competition Package on test made me realize just how good the car really is. Let’s talk about size. Being a compact car with a big engine, you have no problem finding, taking and even creating gaps in traffic. “You’re not meant to drive like that!” Um, last I checked, I was in a red BMW M240i with M Performance parts and an exhaust that goes PAH when I change gears, I can drive how I like thanks. I joke. Seriously though, the marriage of size and 250kW on tap is the recipe for one of the most usable cars on the road you can get right now. Yes, if you have kids you’re screwed, but who needs kids? The only kid you need to worry about is the one the BMW M240i successfully brings out in you.

BMW M240i

Next up is the chassis on the car. What a chassis it is. Let me put my journo pants on and say, “steering feel is not what it used to be in older BMW’s blah blah blah”. Now let’s talk real-world driving. In Comfort, the car responds well, steering is light, gearbox is calm and ready to use all the gears. For day to day stuff, this is the mode you’d want to use. In Sport, personally the car is perfect for my type of driving. It’s responsive, holds the revs slightly longer and is always ready to pounce on unsuspecting hot hatches. Sport Plus does the same but with some allowance for rear end slippage. This mode is best for quiet nights and roundabouts. Who said that? No one likes to wag some tail at the exit of a roundabout! That’s not responsible! (Wink wink) The only time you should put traction off in the BMW M240i is if you’re on a racetrack, or you’ve just watched any instalment of Fast and Furious. Should you get caught doing anything untoward, simply get out the car, raise both hands in the air and tell the cops that “this is Brazil”. If you need me to bail you out, I’m reachable on 011 555 22 55. Yes, it’s a landline.

BMW M240i

Jokes aside, the fast cars available today are not always the most usable. The BMW M4 is a classic example of this. On the normal road, you probably only get to use 60-75% of the M4’s dynamic attributes and power. Traffic, curbs and backache are realities of life. Also, have you tried parking any car with an M DCT Transmission? It’s the gearbox equivalent of bipolar. The M4 is in my opinion a peach on a track and is still very enjoyable on the road, but it’s The Rock of the car world. The problem is that the line between enjoyment and making a mistake is often very close. For cars with as much power as the M4, like The Rock, you may battle to find a “shirt” that fits. The road is either to short or to small to really exercise all its muscles. The M240i however is the right balance. Enough power, the right size and a forgiving chassis allows you to push the car to 80 – 90% of what it can do, on the road. The difference is that you’re less likely to make a mistake if you know your car well enough. Responsible driving is obviously important. Sometimes just enjoying the overrun burble of the car at 60km/h is enough to put a smile on your face. Like Kevin Hart, it’s relatable, it doesn’t try too hard and most of all it can make you giggle. It’s automotive comedy packaged very attractively. The optional M Performance parts fitted to the car also make individualizing your 2 Series easier. They don’t come cheap however, especially considering that some of the parts are made of real carbon fibre. At a startup price of R720 500, it’s not um…cheap. In fact, it’s quite pricey considering you’re going to throw in a few extras. Then again, for the performance and thrill you can extract out of the car, very little rear wheel drive cars will give you that experience for that price. In the world we live in, proper rear wheel drive thrills come at the R1mil + mark, so depending on what you want, you may find the M240i reasonable compared to its rivals.

Is Haval the next Chinese automotive renaissance?

Haval H2

Haval is proving many sceptics wrong

Stigmas are a difficult thing to shake off, especially in the South African car market. Take for instance French cars. People still feel that the likes of Renault battle to source parts and owners will wait for months for a headlight. This however, is not the case. In fact, the turnaround times for these parts are on par with most major brands in SA. Which brings me to my next point, Haval – GWM’s luxury SUV arm. Generally speaking, GWM doesn’t have the most impressive appeal in our country. People automatically associate Chinese cars with low-quality products and as much as this may have been the case in the past with other Chinese brands, Haval has proved many sceptics wrong. Honestly, I was one of those sceptics. Locally, cars are more than mere objects of transportation – they’re symbols of who we are, what we represent etc. As a result, many South African’s have grown up believing that if you want reliability, you buy a Toyota. If you want agility, you buy a BMW and if you want class, you guessed it – Mercedes-Benz is your best bet. Things change. Once upon a time, KIA and Hyundai were foreign brands in SA, with sceptics weary of these Korean brands. Look at them know. Rio’s, Tucson’s, and Picanto’s are usual sights on our roads.

New beginnings:

The Haval brand is only 16 years old, making it quite new as the brands it competes with have been around for much longer. In China, the brand has done exceedingly well, to the point of being called China’s no.1 SUV brand. The model we were given to drive was the H2, a mid-sized SUV powered by a 1.5-litre turbo engine – giving you the option of a manual and double clutch gearbox. Our car had the latter gearbox, one that worked very well. First impressions? Before even starting the vehicle, opening and closing the doors gives you a solid thud, a sound akin to a well-built vehicle. Sitting inside is the car feels somewhat familiar. It’s the familiarity you get from other quality vehicles in this segment. Space wise, you and your family will be sorted, as the interior is spacious and the luggage space is decent too. There are no jarring plastics that make you cringe and most of all, no cheap plastic smell that is apparent in other popular cars in this segment. This vehicle even had leather seats. So far so good.

Looking at the H2 is a pleasant thing to do. The vehicle possesses American style SUV attributes, especially with its GMC styled front end. Passers-by were just as intrigued by the vehicle, as it doesn’t look like many of the SUV’s you see on local roads.

Infotainment and technology is a big thing in almost every vehicle segment, so you’d expect that a vehicle marketed as a premium product would come with a few creature comforts. Again, the H2 impressed with keyless entry, reverse camera, a touch screen radio, folding mirrors and “Push-To-Start” functionality. The touchscreen system works well and is responsive enough to not frustrate you. Bright blue may not be everyone’s favourite hue, but it’s definitely liveable. Thankfully, pairing the Bluetooth system does not require a degree – something that puts me off certain systems.

Haval H2

Driving impressions:  

105kW/220N.m is a conservative output considering the size of the car. That being said, the 1.5-litre performed well under various loads. Turbo is apparent, but after the torque kicks in, it maintains the surge well enough to get you through the city comfortably. Speaking of comfort, the ride quality in the Haval is another winning attribute this vehicle possesses. Damping is soft, cushioning well known bumpy roads in Johannesburg. Dynamically, the vehicle doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall apart when driven briskly – even though it’s not a car meant to be driven hard. The reality is, one day when you’re in a rush, it’s good to know that your car can handle a fast corner or two. During a week’s test, I managed to not use all the fuel provided in the vehicle (full tank on delivery). The vehicle can be driven in an “Economic” mode but I preferred driving it in “Standard” mode, which felt less sluggish.

Overall:

After a week spent in the Haval H2, I can say I’m part of the converted. We all love a good underdog story and the Haval is one that has the potential to have a very good outcome. It’s up against much public scrutiny in this country, but it proves itself and even outshines other vehicles it competes with. Change is good and by the looks of it, it’s coming. It may not be overnight, but if the brand markets itself correctly and focuses on specific target audiences, they have the chance of being the next Kia and Hyundai. If a Chinese automotive renaissance its coming in SA, Haval will be leading it.

Haval H2 Pricing in South Africa

Haval H2 City Manual: R249,900

Havel H2 Luxury Manual: R274,900

Haval H2 City Auto: R284,900

Haval H2 Luxury Auto: R309,900

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.

 

BMW X1: Breaking New Ground

It may seem like a strong headline, but it’s true. The current BMW X1 is the first X model to send its power to the front wheels. Shock and horror right? Wrong. It would be shock and horror if this was 2001 but it’s 2016 and things have changed. For one, BMW has come to the realisation that many people who buy modern day SUV’s aren’t going to be sliding around corners anytime soon. As a result, the most logical option when it comes to configuring these cars is to provide a setup that will give optimum space. That is why you’ll notice a vast difference in rear legroom when sitting in a new BMW X1 compared to the previous model. So BMW have decided to listen to its target market, a market that is moving from sedans into larger cars such as the X1. So more space is essential.

P90207418_highRes_the-new-bmw-x1-12-20

City slick:

Who is this car most suited for? The BMW X1 is a car that works well for young families. It completes everyday tasks with ease, allowing for ample space to fit kids, bags and groceries. The specific model we tested was the S Drive 20i Sport Line, the most balanced of the petrol engines in our opinions. Besides the frugal diesel option, there is the choice of a more powerful 2.0 litre turbocharged engine, an option we feel is unnecessary for this type of vehicle. The 141kW power plant has more than enough grunt to get you going in the city or on a long road trip. As previously mentioned, the X1 feels much more roomier inside as the older model felt more like a station wagon than an SUV. From an outward aesthetic point of view, the X1 shares similar lines to the X5, which is a great compliment considering the handsomeness of its older sibling.

As with most modern cars, the X1 is not lacking when it comes to technology. The standard BMW infotainment system is available, which equips with Bluetooth connectivity, USB functionality and auxiliary input as well. Connected Drive is another feature that may come in handy but will probably not be used as much as expected. Yes itis good to know that you can call into Germany and get directions to your destination, but we have smartphones for that don’t we? Besides with the exorbitant price of navigation systems on cars, the old iPhone or Galaxy is the more cost effective option.

Compromised handling?

The biggest fear for many BMW traditionalists is the fact that the dynamic attributes of the car change when you make it pull instead of push. Again, for the application of this car, having a FWD setup certainly does not make you feel like you’re not in a BMW. As a brand known for its dynamic handling and nimbleness, the X1 is still confidence inspiring at higher speeds. What may be most noticeable are the firm seats on the car, especially on a long distance excursion. Besides that, it ‘s hard to find anything terribly out of place in the car.

P90207424_highRes_the-new-bmw-x1-12-20

Should you buy one though?

Overall the X1 is a great offering in this segment. Unlike the previous version which wasn’t so pleasing to the eye, this current version offers charm and sophistication. The biggest problem that is faced by the X1 is the competition. This is a segment that has many players looking to convince buyers to sign up. One of the biggest talking points is price, and the X1 may fare badly in this category. With a starting price of R476 400, it’s not cheap considering that you’ll be driving a “bare bones” car if you don’t add all the right things. Our advice would be to keep it simple if you’re going to go the X1 route. Pick the right options that you will need but don’t go overboard because depending on the model you buy, you may be looking in the R700 000’s if you’re not careful.

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Our own award winning motor Journalist!

The Steve Dlamini award was created in  memory of the man himself after the young motoring editor died in 2008 in a motorcycle accident. The award, sponsored by Bridgestone SA represents excellence in the motor journalism field and is awarded to young, upcoming motor journalists who have stood out over the past year.

This year, it was our very own Francisco Nwamba, who deservingly won this award. Francisco has been the face of The Motorist from day one and has played a major role in putting us on the map. So, on behalf of the Motorist team, we congratulate our main man Francisco! A big thank you also goes out to those who have followed and supported us up until now.

If you would like to congratulate Francisco yourself, you can hit him up on facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/francisco.nwamba?fref=ts14947881_10154511946956071_2273683550005722735_n