The Hybrid MINI is here: MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4
Greener transport, less congestion and autonomous vehicles seem to be high on the priority list of many countries and manufacturers in 2017. While there are arguments for all three, the former seems to be the one that you can’t really argue with. Emissions & increased Diesel tax is the talk of the town in many big cities and this should and is worrying many car manufacturers, such as BMW. A staggeringly high percentage of BMW cars sold in Europe are Diesel and while we love them because they provide good fuel economy, the environment doesn’t seem to have as much love.
One way this can be helped is with Hybrid vehicles, such as the new MINI cooper S E Countryman ALL4 – the first Hybrid MINI. Powering this hybrid car is a 3-cylinder turbo petrol engine and an electric motor which provides a combined power output of 165 kW. With 100 kW coming from the combustion engine and 65 kW from the electric setup which also provides 165 Nm from a standstill! The combustion and electric system work together, with the combustion power being delivered to the front wheels and electric to the rear. This creates an ALL4 or 4 wheel drive system.
From a standing start the new MINI hybrid relies solely on electric power up to around 80km/h. After this speed the combustion engine is slowly introduced, the driver can however opt to stay on electric power with the eDRIVE switch up to a speed of 124 km/h – pretty impressive. The new MINI Countryman Hybrid has a range of 40 km which is not too bad at all. A car which relies solely on electricity when stuck in traffic or driving around town or commuting to work sounds pretty good to us. What sounds even better is the average fuel consumption, a mere 2.3 litres per 100km.
The big lithium-ion battery is located under the rear seats to save space and will require around 2 hours 15 minutes or 3 hours 15 minutes to charge, depending on the method used.
Cars that fully rely on electric for power are probably the future but for now, range is holding them back. Hybrids are a great option in the meantime and more manufacturers should be looking at this option. There is really no need for combustion engines around the city and I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of these types of vehicles coming to market.
Is it coming to South Africa? We don’t know yet, but with the BMW i3 and i8 already here, we may have a chance.
Let’s be honest, as much as pure petrol heads lament the lack of rigidity in a convertible, the look and feel of a drop top is badass. This is especially the case when it comes to supercars. The Audi R8 is already a fantastic vehicle, offering ridiculous performance figures and an amazing soundtrack. This soundtrack will be even more audible now that the New Audi R8 Spyder gives you the choice of driving around without a roof.
The same V10 engine we’ve come to know and love has been used, featuring 397kW and 540N.m. This figure may seem strange because more press has been given to the R8 Plus model, which has 445kW. The Spyder however pushes out the exact same power as the non – Plus variant, but we’re sure Audi will make a Plus available at some point. That being said the car now dashes to 100km/h in 3.6 seconds which is still a monumental time considering that the Spyder variant will be heavier than the coupe. Heavier doesn’t mean heavier though as the new R8 Spyder uses technology called Audi Space Frame. This a multi-material frame that combines aluminium and Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic. The convertible top also only weighs in at 44kgs, so a lot has been done to keep the car light on its feet, ensuring dynamic handling characteristics.
Another thing many people have enjoyed about the R8 is the way the Quattro system works. Unlike other four wheel drive systems, it’s less prone to nose diving provided you give it the respect it deserves coming into corners. In fact the system in the New Audi R8 Spyder can send up to 100 percent of its power to the rear wheels, depending on the situation. Whilst most people won’t exploit their R8’s to this point, it’s good to know that fun can be had for those who’ve watched too much Top Gear.
Besides the lack of a roof, the R8 remains mostly the same – just much better looking. The car comes standard with a host of technology such as Navigation, Virtual Cockpit and front and rear LED lights. Although, you do expect those kind of creature comforts if you’re paying approximately R2.9million for a car. We love it’s look, we love how it sounds, now it’s a matter of seeing if we love how it drives. Judging by the coupe, it should be very exciting.
Meet the car which has been banned from the Drag Strip: Dodge Challenger Demon
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. American vehicles in South Africa have always been niche and I personally think that that is a good thing, but with this new Dodge Challenger Hellcat, it’s proving to be somewhat difficult for me to digest. As a spiritual man, the word Demon has bad connotations. You see, no matter how you spin it, in my world, a demon can never be a good thing, even if this demon has a rumored figure of 804 hp that’s 617 kW in South African!
American vehicles have a reputation of being fast in a straight line and lacking in the corners. The new crop of muscle cars seem to negate that but the scales are still prejudice to the straight-line side. This is a muscle car that is rumored to destroy the oh-so American quarter mile in 9.65 seconds at an exit speed of 224 km/h! 0-100 is blitzed in 2.3 seconds and 0-160 km/h in 5.1 seconds. This is courtesy of a stupendous torque figure of 1 043 N.m, and it’s the first road legal vehicle to lift its front axle on take-off. Rears are shod with 315 rubber to make sure that your “11s” can been seen from the international space station.
This ridiculous amount of power comes courtesy of a supercharger that’s bigger than your Golf 7 GTI’s motor at 2.7 liters which is then bolted onto a 6.2 liter V8 motor, resulting in 1.8 Gs on launch. That’s guaranteed to blur your vision while making sure that your eyes are securely lodged at the base of your skull.
All this power and numbers come from the wizardry of computers and you see this in the technical specifications. The de.. Hellcat has specific software to shift weight to the rear to optimize launches, all the while playing with how much torque it lets the rear wheels – yes no four-wheel-drive here – have to minimize wheelspin. The induction process has liquid to air induction to keep that air going to the intake manifold cold and to make sure that you can take on Vin Diesel in the next Fast movie, it re-routes the air-conditioning air to the charge cooler to reduce temperature by up to seven degrees Celsius. I told you a lot of wizardry has made this car into what it is!
I can go on forever as to what the car will bring but the only way I can make this make sense to you is to urge you to click on the link at the end of this article and see for yourself what we are talking about. This is a street legal drag car which was the idea when the team at Dodge decided to do a marathon omnibus of all the race movies ever made including Fast and Furious. Ironically and for what it’s worth, it’s been banned from the drag strip by the American NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) as any vehicle that can complete the quarter mile in under 9.99 seconds would need a roll cage as well as some other safety measures that could be done in house, but I’m sure that Dodge is enjoying the “banned” status that it currently has.
If this is what ‘Merica is bringing to the table in terms of what can be done with some trick computers and some raw power, to the other manufactures across the Atlantic, your serve!
Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vD6A6NxySQ
Audi is starting to take electricity very seriously: Audi E-Tron Sportback revealed.
Manufacturers fascination with electricity was not just a phase, it’s happening and getting better and better. So much so Audi plans to launch five electric cars in the next five years. Yikes. The one everyone is talking about now is the Audi E-Tron Sportback, a sleek looking electric crossover of sorts. We know concept cars rarely look the same when going into production but Audi has surprised us before. The R8 for instance looks a great deal like the concept car it came from. If that’s going to be the case with the E-Tron Sportback, we’ll be in for a visual treat. The car looks very space age, almost like the it came out the movie Tron.
It will be powered by a 95kWh battery with a predicted range of approximately 500km. So imagine being able to make it to Pietermaritzburg in your E-Tron Sportback? The trip won’t be a boring one too as the car will be able to do 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds. That’s properly quick for a car that’s going to be silent, or any car for that matter. Of course the main target market for a car like this in China, as electric cars are booming that side. For us South Africans however we may wait a while until this car comes our side. Thankfully the likes of BMW and Nissan have paved the way, so by the time fully electric Audi’s come this side we may have the infrastructure we need.
Long term test on the Suzuki Baleno in South Africa
Rewind to 1997 – Britney was fresh on the scene, George Clooney was Batman, Tony had just become Prime Minister and I had just learnt how to walk. These were all iconic events in their own right and while the world was marvelling at Mike Tyson biting off Evander Holyfield’s ear and some new book about a wizard named Harry was flying off the shelves, Volkswagen had just launched the Golf Mk. IV and the turd that was the first A-Class had just arrived, much to everyone’s dismay. “What a time to be alive” said nobody while looking at the A-Class’ obliquely mounted engine, a design so revolutionary that not a single car makes use of it some 20 years later.
One thing that was quite cool about the late 90’s, however, was how laid back the world was, relatively speaking, of course. Vehicle safety consisted of ABS for those who could afford it and motorists had only just started noticing the seatbelts in their cars, but atrocities such as the Daewoo Lanos and Hyundai Atos were also considered to be “fun and affordable” which we can all agree were complete lies. Living life on the edge was relatively simple, but being mollycoddled was a bit more difficult. Here we sit in 2017, however, and it seems as though the inverse is true – pampering and protecting has become the norm while wrangling a crocodile or playing with fireworks are just a few of the activities that are now frowned upon as they are either too dangerous or unfriendly to someone and their hamster.
I enjoy living life on the edge, which is why I switch the traction control off whenever I drive my boosty MINI in the rain – familiar, but frightening. It gives one a sense of what it would be like to share your own garden with a hungry lion. I do this, though, because it is difficult to find a car these days that exhibits what can only be described as old fashioned motoring. By this, I do not mean no seatbelts and oil leaks, but there used to be a sense that the human was integral to the operation of the vehicle, something that seems to be missing from almost everything built after 2010. I say almost, though because the Suzuki Baleno is the air-freshener in the change room that we have all been waiting for.
Launched towards the end of 2016, the Baleno is slightly larger than a Polo, but a lot cheaper than a Polo. Obviously it feels a bit cheaper too, but not bad cheaper – it’s good cheaper.
Having been handed the keys to a whole Baleno 1.4 GLX for the month of December, I wrapped the MINI up and left it in the garage, promising myself that no matter how tempted I was to take it for a spin, I’d turn to the Baleno for my thrills. A lot to live up to, then, but I was confident in the not-so-little Suzie’s abilities given the praise that the Baleno received when launched here in South Africa.
A supple ride, comfortable seats and a delightfully tactile steering wheel were a few of my favourite interior features while the silver plastic that swooshes its way along the dashboard was not. Bluetooth connectivity, a CD player, front and rear electric windows, cruise control and a trip computer all come as standard on the GLX model we had, as do the LED daytime running lights and BiXenon headlamps. So all in all, a wonderfully specced vehicle which, despite its compact dimensions, certainly has enough space for 5 as we discovered on our Christmas day jaunt to Rustenburg. The entire Whittle family, Christmas ham and all, piled into the Baleno and off we went.
Having embarked on much the same route, solo, the day before to Hartebeespoort damn, I was intrigued to see how the Baleno performed 5-up. Unsurprisingly, a sterling performance was delivered, achieving an average of 4.4 l/100km there and back. Thankfully, the 1.4-litre N/A four-cylinder petrol motor isn’t only good at sipping fuel, and has quite a bit of poke should you plant your foot and stir the gears properly. Power delivery is somewhat more akin to that of a 1.6-litre motor, despite the engine’s power figures of 68 kW and 130 N.m.
The Baleno is rather handsome and exhibits some interesting exterior design elements such as the swishy headlights with integrated DRL’s and flat bottomed taillights, but from certain angles it does look a bit…funny. A friend of mine’s mum even went so far as to describe it as being “beautiful” but her car history consists of a pistachio green Nissan Micra and an old-shape Murano so I wouldn’t listen to her. Our test unit was finished in Ray Blue metallic which does well to highlight the vehicle’s many chrome accents.
Priced from R199 900 (R229 900 for our test unit) the Baleno offers a good value for money product which won’t unnecessarily mollycoddle you, but it won’t leave you sitting at the edge of your seat either. It comfortably establishes itself in the “good old-fashioned” category, but without being old fashioned – something that few cars are able to do these days. It’s honest, it’s fun to drive, incredibly spacious and punches well above its weight, and while not even the ‘range’ reading on the trip computer allows you to live life on the edge – it reads ‘- – – ‘ once you hit 30 km of range – it was definitely able to feed me sufficient driving thrills for a whole month.
The Baleno’s challenge was simple – keep me away from the MINI for a month, and it did. Good job Suzuki.
Introduced in 2007, the Volkswagen Tiguan was an instant success and as many had anticipated, VW’s foray into the crossover segment most certainly paid off with nearly a million units having been sold globally in its first 3 years of production. There was no reason for the Tiguan to do anything but excel, especially in the South African market where Volkswagens are so highly regarded and crossovers outnumber station wagons 9 to 1, but despite all this the Tiguan wasn’t all smiling toddlers and glitter, or was it…
For many, the biggest issue with the first generation Tiguan was that it may have been envisioned as a more rugged and capable Golf, but you’d sooner find a man named Terece pulling into a Sorbet Man than the great outdoors. It was great, but more likely than not a mum’s car thanks, in most part, to its looks.
In 2016 the Second Generation Tiguan was launched in South Africa and as it’s based on VW Group’s MQB Platform, we already knew that it was going to be a meticulously engineered vehicle. Having been on sale for a couple of months now, demand is higher than supply which is a good thing and everyone is clambering for a Tiguan from rugged execs to chic fashionistas, and this comes as no surprise. It’s also a finalist in the Wesbank SAGMJ South African Car of The Year 2017. Whether in R Line, Highline or Comfortline trim, the Tiguan is a handsome and sophisticated thing and adds some character to an otherwise bland and predictable segment. For Francisco’s long-term review of the Tiguan at launch, click here.
At launch, the only derivatives available were the 1.4 TSI motors in 90 kW and 110 kW guises. The rest of the range has now made its way here and along with the 2.0 TDI and 2.0 TSI motors, 4Motion AWD is now available. From launch, the Tiguan has offered an impressive package and that’s no different here with LED Headlights and Taillights, Sport-comfort seats, 3-zone Climatronic Climate Control, Ambient Lighting, 6.5” Composition Media, Silver anodised roof rails and 18” alloy wheels all featuring as standard fitment on 4Motion models. In terms of off-roading equipment, hill-descent control accompanies the usual ensemble of driving modes, namely ECO, Sport, Comfort and Individual. 4Motion Live has three 2 modes, Snow and Off-road mode, as well as an automatic setting which will select the most appropriate of the two depending on road conditions.
The R Line Package adds a sport suspension system, 20” alloy wheels, R-Line bumpers, side sills and wheel housing flaring, a body coloured rear spoiler and black headlining.
We were afforded the opportunity to sample both diesel and petrol models, each of which have a differing appeals and are all welcome additions to the Tiguan range.
With 162 kW and 350 N.m on tap, the 2.0 TSI model really is a wolf in wolfs clothing and unlike the previous generation Tiguan’s 2.0 TSI derivative now has the looks to go with the performance. Sprinting from 0-100 km/h in 6.5 seconds, this model exhibits impressive straight line speed, but where we were most surprised was in the bends where minimal body-roll and spot-on damping make for a truly thrilling and engaging driver’s car, something which we didn’t quite imagine from the Tiguan when we initially tested the 1.4 TSI models. Claimed combined average fuel consumption is 7.8 l/100km and pricing for the Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TSI 162 kW starts at R542 200.
The two diesels on offer are the more sensible options, both displacing 2.0-litres with outputs of 105 kW / 340 N.m and 130 kW / 380 N.m. with claimed consumption figures of 6.1 l/100km and 6.4 l/100km respectively. While you might not be surprising any GTI’s at the lights in the 2.0 TDI’s as you would in the 2.0 TSI, you will be impressed by how little engine noise enters the cabin, NVH is an area where VW has always excelled and the Tiguan benefits from this. In both states of tune, the 2.0 TDI motor offers maximum torque from just 1750 RPM which is useful for those who have large things to tow such as caravans, if you’re into that, and boats. Prices for the 2.0 TDI 105 kW Comfortline start at R523 800 and R549 500 for the 2.0 TDI 130 kW Highline.
The cabin is impeccably put together and is difficult to find fault with, and the same can be said for the 7-speed DSG to which all of these motors are matched. In fact, it is difficult to find fault with most of the vehicle, not even pricing as it is slightly cheaper and significantly nicer than all of its competitors.
A job well done to VW, then. Not only is the Tiguan the capable car that it always was, it is now one of the most desirable on the road.
The 43 series in Mercedes-AMG’s line up has proven to be a popular engine choice for those who want a little more performance than a non AMG variant can provide, but are not yearning for a fire-breathing AMG-63, we can call this the middle ground.
If you didn’t know, the middle ground provides some nice numbers, 270 kW and 520 N.m to be exact from a 3-litre V6. Power is delivered through a Nine-speed gearbox and Mercedes’ four wheel drive system. Jokes, aside, it is a great setup and Mercedes-Benz have now added the AMG-43 variant to a number of models.
The 43 series is now available for the C-Class Coupe and Cabriolet, as well as the GLC and GLC Coupe, GLE and GLE Coupe and finally, the SLC Roadster.
All the 43 Series models can expect AMG sports suspension as standard in the shape of Air Body Control. They will all, bar the SLC, feature a 4MATIC system with 61% percent of the power being delivered to the rear axle. Further to this, the AMG sports braking system, AMG Dynamic Select and sports exhaust system are all fitted as standard.
The AMG-43 series is a great option for those wanting a taste of the AMG experience. As always, when we get behind the wheel of these machines, we will post a full driven review. For more latest news on cars in South Africa, visit our Latest News section.
The new era Volvo’s has already managed to revitalise the brand, making them no longer cars that appeal to a specific group of people. The edgy designs of the XC90 and newly launched S90 both inside and out have proved that Volvo means business. These cars though are not the most important Volvo’s in the stable, rather the smaller XC60 has been the glory child for the brand. With over one million units sold globally since 2008, it’s safe to say the outgoing XC60 was a hit. The new version will hopefully be a worthy follow up. If it’s anything like its siblings, we’re confident that current Volvo owner s will love it, as well as newer and younger audiences.
The new XC60 carries on the simplicity of the new Volvos, with its engine line up. A variety of 2 litre petrol and diesel engines will be on offer. For those looking for a faster XC60, you’ll be happy to know that the T8 twin engine variant will be offered, packing a healthy 300kW of electric and petrol power.
For diesel lovers, the D5 has not been left out, giving you 173kW and PowerPulse technology. Power aside, a Volvo would not be a Volvo without safety being at the forefront of its design. Technologies we’ve come to know such as City Safety will make their way into the new XC60, only this time there will be an added Steer Assist feature. The awesome Pilot Assist will definitely not be left out, allowing the driver to experience a semi-autonomous mode until 130km/h.
Aesthetic appeal of the new XC60 is obviously subjective but we think it maintains the modern loveliness of current Volvos of today. It may not be the prettiest as the XC90 is stunning, but it sure is handsome. Seeing the new XC60 live will be the determining factor as the S90 was a huge surprise because it looks much more stately in the flesh. Stay tuned to hear more developments around this car in the future, as it will be very relevant for its segment.
Mazda’s goal when they first introduced the BT-50 was to supply with South Africa with a lifestyle vehicle, which would appeal to business users but also a wider range of customers, those such as families and adventurers.
This is where the Bakkie market has changed over recent years, they are not only designed with the primary function of a workhorse vehicle. Bakkies today are more stylish, with more features and technology to appeal to a wider audience, the surfers, climbers, hikers of this world Or the camping family who ventures off to various places of our beautiful country.
In light of this, Mazda has released the updated BT-50, and it’s aimed at the recreational type of buyer.
As with most updated vehicles, the updated BT-50 has a sportier look and feel, the major changes to the Mazda include the front end, side steps, rear lights and 17” Aluminium wheels.
Personally, I’m not yet a big fan of the rear end, and we all know how important that this. My biggest grind is with the rear lights, I do not like the design and style, but maybe it will grow on me.
Technology is the biggest change here with the BT-50, on the base SLX Model options such as Bluetooth, steering wheel controls and cruise control has been added. The SLE Models have even greater technology enhancements with options such as a rear-view camera, auto dimming mirror, electric seat adjustment, dual zone aircon, auto headlights, rain sensing wipers and parking sensors added to the standard list. The top of the range SLE models adds features such as Load Adaptive Control, Hill Launch, Decent Control, Trailer Sway and Rollover Mitigation.
The 2.2l Mazda engines in this range produce 110KW (147BHP) and 375Nm of Torque. If this is not enough, you can opt for the 3.2L engine with provides 147kw (196BHP) and 470Nm of torque.
All models come with 3-year unlimited KM warranty, 3 – year service plan and 3-year roadside assistance.
There are few things in this world which are more reliable than a Honda. I have often said that not even a playschool teacher could rival Honda’s sterling reputation for trustworthiness, and that is quite a statement to make! In the same breath, though, one may argue that aside from their fast cars, of which there aren’t very many, Honda’s are a bit pedestrian. This is something which has traditionally been mirrored in their buyer base aka the zimmer-frame brigade. Granny and Grandpa love a good Honda and that’s not a bad thing! You see, unless your mum or dad were begotten of a rock and roll legend or drug abusing good for nothing, grandparents tend to be rather sensible people, and we all know that a sensible motorist is a clever motorist. Motoring is not a cheap exercise, so why not buy a car that’s both practical and reliable?
Sensible and petrolhead are very seldom uttered in the same sentence and that can be attributed to the fact that you’d sooner find a turbocharger or a new intake in my Christmas sock than a Christmas cake or whatever normal people like as sock-fillers. I am, then, the very last person you’d ever expect to see smiling in a sensible Honda so you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to see my pearly whites gleaming back at me in the rearview mirror of the all-new Honda Civic.
The new Civic is a very good looking car with its swoopy headlights and sloping roofline – thankfully the drive is as pleasant as it is to look at. The model range is made up of three models, namely Comfort, Sport and Elegance. The Comfort model is powered exclusively by a 1.8 litre NA motor delivering 104Kw and 174Nm. It’s a powerplant with which we’re familiar and while you won’t be winning any post-bowls drag races, it does a god job in the Civic. The Elegance model can be had with the same 1.8-litre motor or Honda’s new and much praised 1.5 litre turbo unit. The Sport model is only available with this motor and what a powerplant it is. 127kW (170bhp) and 220Nm are the figures and when provoked, it’ll hustle the Civic from 0-100km/h in a not too shabby 8.2 seconds, yet return a claimed fuel consumption of just 5.9l/100km. I managed an average of 7l/100km during my week with the car which isn’t terribly far off.
The only gearbox available is a CVT and while I generally liken CVT’s to a trip to the dentist, the low-down torque and linear power delivery of the 1.5 litre turbo-four lends itself well to the droning CVT’s efficient nature. In fact, you hardly notice that it’s a CVT while pottering around and when you floor it, you’re rewarded with a continuous surge of acceleration without the changing of gears, just like in a Koenigsegg Regera. Sort of.
What I liked most about the new Civic wasn’t its punchy motor, eye-catching looks or technology-laden interior, what got to me was just how easy it is to like. My first car was in fact a Honda. Sold as a Civic overseas and a Ballade in South Africa, the SR4 in code speak, was a real crowd pleaser in Luxline trim with its grey leather and electric windows. The new Civic reminded me of this, as well as why people buy them. My gran bought hers because she said it had “nice lines” and after she shuffled off it was passed down, eventually finding itself in my garage. I still have it and it’s as good as new, barring a few bumps and dents from when Rosemary went blind and started driving by sound.
What I hope for this new Civic, though, is that not only the elderly and sensible will take to it, but everyone shopping in its segment. It really has come a long way from the previous generation model which was wonderful all on its own. Not only is the new Civic reliable, practical and sensible, it’s now exciting!
Civic Sedan 1.8 Comfort – R330 000
Civic Sedan 1.8 Elegance – R370 000
Civic Sedan 1.5T Sport – R430 000
Civic Sedan 1.5T Elegance – R460 000
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