Tag: Launch

Aston Martin Vanquish S Released In South Africa

South African Launch of the Aston Martin Vanquish S

For as long as humans have lusted over motorcars, the question of whether or not a car can be considered to be art has existed. Silly as it may seem, many an art aficionado has gazed upon such beauties as the Jaguar E-Type, Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWB  and E60 BMW M5 (a personal favourite) and have thought, “Psh, this is not art.” What these dreary individuals seem to completely miss, however, is that these vehicles are but three examples of a pool of cars we consider to be greater than the sum of their parts.

Similarly, there has been ambiguity as to whether photography can be considered to be art ever since it became commonplace in the 19th century and arguments such as “photography is too literal to compete with works of art” and that it is “unable to elevate the imagination” do not help the cause. Thankfully, then, a charming fellow by the name of Clint Strydom has gone off, armed with his camera and an Aston Martin One-77, and much like a naughty child skipping Physical Education on a Friday afternoon, stuck it to the man. Commissioned by Aston Martin Lagonda to capture the essence of their iconic brand, what Clint has come up with is truly remarkable.

 

Apt then, that Dr Ulrich Bez, Chairman of Aston Martin once said that “The true value of a work of art lies in the unique relationship between the art itself, its creator and ultimately its owner.” He then goes on to relate this to the cars which Aston Martin produce, noting that each vehicle reflects the personality of its owner in its unique specification – unless it’s second-hand, of course.

The local unveiling of the Aston Martin Vanquish S took place in Melrose Arch on the High Street, between the Daytona Melrose Arch Dealership and The Melrose Gallery where an exquisite exhibition of both Clint’s Inspired by Aston Martin series and a series of Esther Mahlangu’s works were on display. The significance of this was noted by few as Esther Mahlangu is one of the very few artists in the world to have been commissioned by BMW on two separate occasions to create a BMW Art Car, another amalgamation of the automotive and artistic spheres. The presence of these two visionaries was a fitting setting, then, for the local debut of Gaydon’s latest masterpiece and the halo vehicle of the Aston Martin brand.

The differences between the Aston Martin Vanquish and Vanquish S

Very similar to the “standard” Vanquish, only the eagle-eyed will notice the subtle differences between the Vanquish and its S counterpart. Most notable is the new aerodynamic package with its extended front splitter and rear diffuser, both fashioned from exposed carbon fibre and designed to reduce front lift with a minimal increase in parasitic drag. New quad exhaust pipes also emphasise the Vanquish S’ performance oriented character, as do the subtle changes to Aston Martin’s signature grille and side strakes.

Carbon fibre bonnet louvres, forged rims and various graphics packs can also be fitted to the Vanquish S.

Inside the vehicle, options with long and confusing names can be had such as “Bridge of Weir Caithness” leather and a Chopped Carbon Fibre finish which again suggests the overtly sporty nature of this flagship model.

Most notable changes are found beneath the skin in the form of all carbon fibre bodywork and recalibration of the 8-speed Touchtronic III transmission which now delivers faster gearshifts and is more refined at low speeds. Alterations to the inlet manifolds ups the power of the sonorous AM29 6.0-litre naturally-aspirated V12 from 424 kW/630 N.m (2014 onwards) to 444 kW/630 N.m. The larger volume inlet manifolds allow for a greater volume of air to flow into the engine at high rpm’s, creating stronger pull all the way to the redline as well as notably improved throttle response. 0-100 km/h is dealt with in 3.5 seconds and top speed is 323 km/h if you’re the sort of person who is concerned with those figures.

All of these aspects combine to create a GT which offers a distinctly different experience to the DB11, yet one that is still notably a product of the Aston Martin marque. The question is, do you feel that the Vanquish S is a work of art? If looking at it as a piece of art, some would say that at its starting price of R4 950 000, it’s a steal, but those who see it as just a motorcar might argue that that is quite a lot of money…

I leave you with this sentiment, then – you can gaze in awe at the lines, craftsmanship and attention to detail found in an Aston Martin, but you can’t drag race a painting.

 

The Launch of the New Audi A5 in South Africa

Update: Watch Our LaunchDrive Video of the New Audi S5 Here

Hermanus is a beautiful seaside town with a vast mammal filled ocean on one side and  towering mountains on the other. Between us at Cape Town International Airport and Hermanus, though, was a driving route that involved great sections of tar, with long swooping bends, twists and turns. A fitting location, then, for the launch of the all-new Audi A5 and S5 Coupe.

The original A5 launched back in 2008 and it had a unique look with its tornado line running down the full length of the vehicle. The 2017 Audi A5 is still very recognizable as an A5, but does feature very nice enhancements in the design area. The Tornado line for example, is more defined and the headlights feature a sharper design with the “four eyes” to represent quattro. These headlights sit above a larger, flatter grill and below a bonnet which has large grooves, emphasizing its sportiness.

Audi have a new design philosophy which is inspired by the Audi prologue concept car. We have seen elements of this being introduced in recent models such as the Q2 and now the A5. One nod to this design language is flared wheel arches and larger rear shoulders, and we can see this in the 2017 models.

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

The interior has also undergone some refinement. I have always enjoyed Audi’s simplistic and uncomplicated style with regards to interior design and this is no different with the new A5.  The dashboard features a horizontal design which gives the cabin a very spacious feel and as always, the centre console features controls for audio, navigation and the like.  This console also features the drive selector, which one can only describe as looking like the thrust control in a jet – its large, bulky and fits in the hand nicely, giving a very commanding feel.

View 360 Images of the interior below. We apologize for the quality, as the light was extremely poor.

Audi S5

Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Audi A5

Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

In the design area then, the Audi A5 has undergone many refinements resulting in a big improvement. Another area in which the 2017 A5 has improved is in the powertrain department, with the latest engines now producing 17% more power with a 22% reduction in consumption, impressive.

The A5 coupe has four engines on offer with the S5 currently leading the way, producing a healthy 260 kW and 500 N.m. Following this is the 2.0T FSI Quattro producing 185 kW and 370Nm. We then have two 140 kW power plants, coming in the form of a 2.0T FSI which puts out 320N.m and a 2.0 TDI producing 400 N.m.

You would probably expect me to say that the S5 was my favorite variant but actually, the 185 kW A5 quattro was a car that really stood out. This car really shifts and has lots of torque from low down in the RPM range. It was just so enjoyable to drive through the twisty mountain passes but was then also very comfortable and quiet when driving in a relaxed manner.

The S5 is sharper, firmer and faster with 260 kW and 500 N.m but the difference is not night and day. It does give you a little more confidence in all aspects, though, such as high-speed cornering, as the S5’s suspension is firmer which can be felt quite a lot in the rear.

If you want more performance and styling, the S5 is a good option but it is by no means a “monster”  like an RS variant would be. What sold me on the Audi S5 is the song it sings from that beautiful 3.0-litre V6 Twin Turbo motor – wow!  It sounds absolutely fantastic throughout the rev range and this means that the S5 has a driving experience which is hard to match in its segment. It goes from being a car that is a little faster and sharper than the quattro, to a car that really makes you feel warm inside when driven – It’s not always about sheer acceleration and performance and this reason alone could mean the S5 pips the BMW 440i and Mercedes C43 to my top spot out of the three.

The higher powered A5’s are impressive, but we must not forget the smooth cruisers, the 140 kW T FSI and TDI models. These variants are very refined and easy to drive and while both cars were very nice, I feel that out of the two, the TDI is the one to go for. Power delivery is linear and it just feels like a smoother, calmer experience. Although not the most powerful variants, these two models should not be under estimated as they can really hold their own on some of the Cape Town passes against the bigger boys and are by no means boring. You can still have a lot of fun in these models and we can vouch for that.  If your main aim when looking at an A5 is not so much performance based but rather directed towards a quiet, comfortable and smooth vehicle, either of these two are the ones to go for. The  14kW T FSI comes only as FWD, but the TDI variant is available with quattro.

Which model would I personally choose? Well this decision for me is all about which rules first, the head or the heart. My consumer brain tells me that the 185 kW quattro is the vehicle to go for – it gives performance just a little short from the S5, but has the comfortable benefits of the T FSI and TDI Models and is also R170 000 cheaper. However, from a performance enthusiast’s point of view, my heart wants to hear that singing V6 whenever I drive to work in the morning, although I’m sure my wife would have something to say about that!

Its also worth noting that the A5 is available with its new driver assistance system -Traffic Jam Assist. This is Audi’s first step in the direction of autonomous driving. In conjunction with Adaptive Cruise control, the vehicle will accelerate, brake and steer the car up to speeds of 65 km/h.

Pricing

The A5 will comes standard with a range of equipment including  Audi Drive Select, Xenon Plus Headlights and Rear LED lights, 17” Alloy wheels and cruise control.

The A5/S5 Sportback will be following the same model and pricing structure below and will be available from May 2017. In June we can expect the arrival of the A5/S5 Cabriolet – we have no information on pricing as yet.

Audi A5 Coupe 2.0T FSI 140kW S tronic: R 589,000

Audi A5 Coupe 2.0T FSI 140kW S tronic Sport: R 623,000

Audi A5 Coupe 2.0 TDI 140kW S tronic: R 619,000

Audi A5 Coupe 2.0T TDI 140kW S tronic Sport: R 653,000

Audi A5 Coupe 2.0 TDI 140kW quattro S tronic: R 652,500

Audi A5 Coupe 2.0T TDI 140kW quattro S tronic Sport: R 686,500

Audi A5 Coupe 2.0T FSI 185kW S tronic: R 723,500

Audi A5 Coupe 2.0T FSI 185kW S tronic Sport: R 757,500
Audi S5 Coupe 3.0T FSI 260kW quattro S tronic: R928,000

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

The New Audi Q2 : It Really Is Untaggable

You have probably seen the advertising campaign for the new Audi Q2 – #untaggable is what they call it and that is exactly what it is. The Audi Q2 is difficult to define, where does one place it? What do you compare it to? These were questions that all ran through my mind during the launch of the Q2 in Cape Town.

So what exactly is it?

Audi define the Q2 as a compact SUV, which fits into the premium A0 section of the market. It could easily be described as a crossover, or even a sporty hatchback. Audi South Africa don’t view this car as having a direct competitor and it’s easy to see why. Over the course of the launch, it started to become clear what this car is and the type of person it is aimed at.

The Audi Q2 has a very youthful feel about it, it’s hip, funky, extremely stylish and very “out there”- you could say.  This car is not aimed at the type of person who would buy a Q3 or Tiguan for example, those cars, although great, come across as vehicles suited for a small family, but more notably, they are not particularly exciting either.

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

The Q2 is aimed at the younger market, an audience in their twenties who are designers, creators and are starting out in the business world – these are the kind of people who I envision would be interested in being untaggable, or at least sitting in it on the daily commute.  The interesting thing about the Q2 is that it is very similarly priced to the bigger Q3, but appeals to a totally different audience. So in effect, the Q2 is not a lesser car, (albeit a little smaller) when compared with the Q3, it just has a different purpose.

Styling

The Q2 is nothing like you have seen before, it has edgy design and sharp features. Prominent design features which you will notice are the concaving lines along the side – a unique feature to the Q2 which gives it a different look to anything you will currently find on the road. An Edition #1 version of the Audi Q2 is due for release later this year, this model will feature a unique Quantum Grey Colour, which looks very similar to Nardo Grey, with a little bit of sparkle.

The Q2 is the first of new Audi models to feature this design style, and we can expect future models to follow a similar pattern. Audi have a big 2018 planned with a host of new and updated models, including the Q8.

Step inside the new Audi Q2 and it will feel very similar to the interior of the Audi A3 and other Audi models, there is nothing that would strike you as new or majorly different – it looks and feels very Audi-ish with a clean design and classy feel. The optional sports seats are a nice option to have and were comfortable, they also filled the cabin nicely and added to its visual appearance.

The Audi Q2 will also be available with Pilot Assist, which is the fully digital dash display which allows different views for Car Information, Music and Navigation. This is paired with the 12” TFT screen on the Dashboard. For the record, the Pilot Assist is one of my personal favourites. The Q2 is the only vehicle in its segment to offer a TFT binnacle and it’s an option I’d certainly tick.

The interior is let down slightly by the door cards, They look and feel a little cheap as the lower portions are covered in hard, black plastic. It would have been nice to feature some Alcantara or leather like other areas of the interior. I do understand the reasons behind it though, cost being one of them.

In terms of space, the rear seating area was limited in this regard so if you are tall, unlike me, you may find it quite cramped. The boot space is adequate though with 405-litres on offer, which expands to 1050-litres with the rear seats folded.

How Does It Drive?

The Q2’s we had for the day featured Audi’s 1.4 TFSI engine, which produces 110kw and 250Nm. This is a proven engine in other cars, such as the A3 and it performed as expected. Power delivery is smooth through both the 7-Speed S-Tronic Automatic and the 6-Speed manual transmissions. I did feel that it lacked torque at low RPM, especially in second gear, which was something that I also noticed on the 1.0L variant. This could also have something to do with the COD (Cylinder On Demand) technology which is built into the 1.4 Engine. This feature disables Cylinders two and three at loads of up to 100Nm from 1400rpm with the S-Tronic, and from 2000rpm with the manual variant.

The Chassis and the suspension is where everything comes together and the Audi Q2 really impresses, because it has a high design, one may think that handling would not be one of the car’s best assets.

The Q2 was rigid and as we drove along the bumpy Bainskloof Pass, the car did not feel unsettled with the suspension absorbing the rough surface, even under braking and sharp bends, the Q2 performed well. It has a sharp and accurate turn-in and a very neutral feel, only getting out of shape and providing just a little understeer on one heated occasion. You can enter a corner at speed and trust that the little Q2 will handle it well.

The 110kW produced by the 1.4 TFSI coupled with the great handling and chassis of the Q2 makes for a fun car, which suits its overall persona down to the ground. A young buyer will not have to be worried about getting bored with the Audi Q2.

Driver Assists

Audi have given the Q2 some of their driver assist packages as optional extras. The first of these is Pre Sense which uses a front radar system to detect hazardous situations with other vehicles and pedestrians and will apply braking if necessary. Park Assist is also available, which does a little bit more than the name suggests and will basically park your Audi Q2 for you. Further to this, Cross Traffic Rear Assist helps when reversing from parking spaces, by sensing other cars which could potentially cross your path. Audi also offer Side Assist and Adaptive cruise control on the Q2 to finalize the driver assist packages.

Powertrains

The Q2 is currently only available as the 1.4 TFSI variant. The 1.0 TFSI and 2.0TDi will be available from May, producing 85kW and 200Nm and 105kW and 350Nm respectively. Unfortunately, a Quattro option will be not available in South Africa due to market placement and cost of the vehicle, however it will be available overseas.

Price

Here is where things get interesting, with a starting price of R434 500 for the 1.0L base model and rising to R565 000 for the 2.0 TDI model, the Q2 is not a cheap car. Yet, it is aimed at a young market.

Audi plan to solve this issue with attractive finance offers and a special guarantee buy-back specifically for the Q2. Audi have done their research and I am positive that the Q2 will work for them. The price is a big drawback for the younger market, especially with a well- specced vehicle. However, Audi do feel confident that it should not be too much of an issue – only time will tell.

  • Audi Q2 1.0T FSI manual: R 434,500
  • Audi Q2 1.0T FSI S tronic: R 453,000
  • Audi Q2 1.0T FSI Sport manual: R 464,500
  • Audi Q2 1.0T FSI Sport S tronic: R 483,000
  • Audi Q2 1.4T FSI Sport manual: R 511,000
  • Audi Q2 1.4T FSI Sport S tronic: R 529,500
  • Audi Q2 2.0 TDI Sport S tronic: R 565,000

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Volvo evolution continues: S90 is here

I guess we didn’t really know what to expect from the new Volvo S90. On pictures, it looked a bit underwhelming, pretty but nothing to ride home about. You can imagine then what went through my mind when I saw the car in the flesh because it completely took me by surprise. The car has a stately presence that can’t be captured on paper properly as it looks much smaller, but in reality, it’s a big lady. So much so that Volvo felt it appropriate to have us chauffeured in the cars from the airport to the launch destination in Franschhoek. Being only 5ft7 I can sit at the back of most sedans with ease. What I can’t do in most sedans is stretch my legs, something I was able to do in the Volvo S90. So far so good as this car is going to compete with the likes of BMW’s new 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz’ E Class.

Aesthetically the S90 shares similar features to the XC90, in fact it’s almost a sedan version of the SUV.  Many commented that the rear of the vehicle was the acquired taste of the design but I feel the retro taillights suit the overall look. It’s looks somewhat concept car-like but not overly caricatured. The interior design again shares a great deal with the XC90 as well. The central tablet controls various functions such as entertainment, safety, air-conditioning and much more. Overall trim is of a very high quality featuring real leather and very little plastic, making you feel comfortable as a car of this size deserves to have the best in terms of trim levels. A few minutes in the car will make any driver realise that the Swedes pulled out all the stops with this car, which should make the German’s nervous.

This nervousness shouldn’t be about sales figures as the reality is that we live in brand conscious South Africa. This means that brands like Mercedes-Benz and BMW will always have the majority market share in certain segments. Rather the nervousness should be because there is a rise in not being mainstream. In certain cities like Johannesburg, every second car is a BMW or Merc so for those looking to be different, the new Volvo’s offer an appealing package. The playing fields are being levelled and driving the new S90 confirmed this. Sitting in the S90 gives a feeling confidence and the dynamic attributes to match. The 4WD systems on the cars also allowed us to exploit Franschhoek pass with ease, too much ease at that. In fact, the S90’s chassis is the most impressive aspect of the cars’ driving experience. The derivatives offered on launch were the T6 featuring 235kW Drive E engine and the D5 with Power Pulse with 173kW, so there was no shortage of power where that is concerned.

Being a Volvo, safety always come first so even though the cars produce a healthy amount of power, it’s delivered very safely. This makes any driver capable of driving the car fast as it doesn’t evoke any fear behind the wheel. The focus is not on speed, though, it’s on refinement, technology and innovation. The biggest innovation for me was the newest iteration of Pilot Assist. An individual can now drive in semi-autonomous mode up until 130km/h depending on the road condition. Steering inputs, braking and acceleration are all controlled by the car whilst you simply place your hands on the steering wheel. Other features such as pedestrian detection, cyclist detection and even animal detection are just some of the safety features of the car. To list everything would turn this write up to a spec list and we’re not here to do that. We’re here to tell you that this Volvo is probably one of the best we’ve driven since the new XC90 which has won many accolades. There is very little you can fault on the car, it’s really a job well done by the Swedes.

Pricing on the car starts at R678 500 which is also a reasonable range considering what you’re getting. That price of course is minus things like Bowers & Wilken sound system and you’ll pay more depending on what package you choose. There is the choice of the standard Momentum, Inscription and R-Design packages. We had Inscription’s at our disposal and some were specified with some rather appealing features which added to the good looks. Again though if you want it, you must pay for it.

Overall, I personally feel that the S90 is a car that can coexist with its rivals, as it’s a niche offering. Niche brands such as these are great because they offer exclusivity. They answer the question that many motorists have, that of “do I have to have what everyone else has?” What the car has done is match the rivals in terms of comfort, luxury and even dynamics. It’s the executive sedan for the elusive, those that don’t want to be like everybody else. For those looking to purchase one, Volvo’s new guaranteed future value scheme will give you piece of mind as this alleviates the perception of bad trade in values. So this entire package becomes even more appealing. The S90 experience is one that proves that things don’t always have to stay the same. It proved that the big three don’t always have to be on top. Now it’s only a matter of seeing how the South African market responds to this car. We wish it well.

 

 

Suzuki Baleno Launch

Suzuki launched its newest model last week, the Baleno. Believe it or not, there are two previous versions of this car that I am too young to remember, so this makes it Baleno number 3.

After a small 4 hour delay in Durban airport, we arrived in PE at 11 pm; this is when I first set my eyes on the Baleno, under the orange evening lights I made out the front end of Suzuki’s new hatch, Interesting, I thought. The next day I grabbed a proper look at the new Baleno, the design is of this vehicle is what Suzuki call ” Optical Flow,” it’s different and I liked the front end design of this car, the rear end not so much. I sometimes feel Suzuki are slightly missing the mark with vehicle design, the Swift Sport has always looked great and is the best looking car Suzuki make, the new Vitara Is also a looker, but some of the other Suzuki models lack in the looks department.

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The Baleno is not replacing the Swift; rather it gives another option to customers who find the rear passenger and boot areas in the Swift not spacious enough. It’s a bigger car which can be seen visibility from the inside and out when compared to a Suzuki Swift. Intriguingly,though, it’s also 110kg lighter. The Baleno will feature the 1.4 67kw engine found in other model variants and will come as GL and GLX models, with the option of a 4-speed auto in the GLX.

The GLX features exterior changes over the GL such as HID projector headlights and daytime running lights, chrome accents all around, front fog lamps, indicator signals in the mirrors, a rear spoiler and privacy glass for the rear windows.  The GLX also features 16-inch alloy wheels and rear disc brakes, with the GL only featuring rear drums.  The main interior changes with the GLX is the 6-inch color screen, and while the instrument cluster remains the same, Suzuki has added another color display, this time only 4-inches, which shows various driving data.  Keyless go is also a feature on the GLX,  along with fully automatic aircon and rear parking sensors. Safety wise, the GLX features six airbags to the GL’s mere two.

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Suzuki has priced this car competitively with the Baleno starting at R199,990 for the GL, R229,000 for the GLX and R244,900 for the GLX Auto. The new Baleno is covered by a standard three-year/100 000 km warranty, as well as a four-year/60 000 km service plan.

I enjoyed the drive in this car, and there are some features I liked, and some that I didn’t like so much, which I will discuss in my in-depth driving review in edition 07 of the TheMotorist digital mag. If you wish, you can subscribe here: TheMotorist Digital Magazine.