Tag: South Africa

What 2022 holds for the South African car market

While 2021 kicked off without much affair, albeit with mild hesitation and looming uncertainty for event planning due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it eventually gathered momentum into what many industries would deem as normal. Despite a contagious wave of Omicron ravaging the world in the last quarter, this year has commenced in a confident and assured manner which has us holding thumbs that normality will soon return. Secondary effects from the pandemic are still hampering supply chains with the automotive industry struggling to meet the demand of the semiconductor microchips needed in the increasingly technologically-oriented vehicles but despite this, new vehicles are scheduled to be introduced to our shores with launch events being planned on our local roads. Here is what Mzansi has to look forward to in 2022!

Local favorite Volkswagen will kick the year off by introducing the new Caddy and the facelifted, and locally produced, Polo and Polo GTI models which feature mild updates to a familiar silhouette and a refreshed interior which will share some similarities to the Golf. 

Speaking of the popular hatch which may have already been on sale in our market for a few months now, the all wheel drive giantslayer sibling Golf 8 R will touch down in Q2 alongside the novel Tiguan R and 7-seater Tiguan Allspace facelift.

Other facelifts expected before the midpoint of the year include the T-Roc while the all new Spanish built Taigo will join the lineup and slot between the T-Cross and Tiguan in Volkswagen’s SUV range. The remainder of the year is scheduled to be quiet with the new Polo Sedan expected in Q3 but the all-new Amarok is in the pipeline, we can expect its global launch sometime before the end of the year too. 

Another brand that has grown in popularity and portfolio over the past is that of Renault who have a bustling year ahead. The new Clio 5, which subtly evolves the exterior design language of the Clio 4, is expected as soon as Q1. Since Alpine have absorbed all RS models over the past year, we are awaiting news with bated breath if South Africa can expect a Clio or Megane RS derivative. 

While the Clio and it’s more family-orientated Captur sibling have both experienced delays of over a year due to the Covid-19 related issues. However, Q2 will see the brand new Captur SUV enter our shores.

While we are awaiting confirmed dates for the second half of the year, Renault has committed to launching the refreshed Kwid, Triber and Trafic MY22 models into the range, while anyone eager to see the Duster based Oroch single cab will be dismayed to know we will only be expecting it in 2023. 

A brand that has taken South Africa by storm is Chery after their rebirth into our market late last year. The affordable and well-specced Tiggo 4 Pro arrived in our market and was lauded for improved build quality and comfort. This resounding success has seen the Chinese brand expedite the launch of the highly awarded and much larger flagship Tiggo 8 Pro range which we can expect within Q1. 

DRIVEN Chery Tiggo 4 Pro Turbo CVT

The new Tiggo 8 Pro range will be available in two options for the consumer and both will be fitted with an award-winning 1.6 TGDI petrol-engine delivering a peak of 136kW and 290Nm. No news on whether this engine will also include the impressive 1-million-kilometer mechanical warranty just yet.

The much larger flagship SUV will continue Chery’s trend of interior luxury and technology which we sampled on the Tiggo 4 Pro. This includes an Around View Monitor, an 8-speaker SONY sound system, two high definition TFT displays (with a third in the flagship model) and dual-zone climate control with pharmaceutical grade N95 air filtration. It will also come standard as a 7 seater which should make it appealing to growing families.

2021 was a busy year for the Bavarian-based super-manufacturer but product planning for 2022 seems to be more tranquil. BMW SA will welcome the anticipated 2 Series Coupe range in Q1 which includes the 220i, 220d and M240i xDrive. While styling may divide opinion in this range once again, the M2’s ability will surely silence any critics when it lands sometime in 2023.

On the electric side of things, BMW’s 4 Series based i4 and mainstream crossover iX3 are expected to land in the second half of the year and cement themselves as viable electric models for our market. 

On the other end of the spectrum for premium German brands is Mercedes-Benz who is also hoping to be at the forefront of electrification in our local market and has their whole EQ range ready to be released. While exact dates are yet to be stated, we can expect the EQA, EQB, EQE, EQS and EQC. 

For those that still enjoy the sensation of fossil fuels burning beneath the accelerator pedal, the facelifted A-Class, B-Class, GLC SUV and CUV, S-Class and C-Class will be welcomed locally while two Maybach orientated models will arrive in the form of the S-Class and GLS. 

In terms of South Africa’s preferred form of transportation, two new bakkies will be put on sale in our market this year. Isuzu will usher in their sharper looking flagship D-Max in Q2, a model which shares a platform with the newly released Mazda BT-50 and will attempt to gain market share from the popular Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger. 

That being said, the existing and long-serving Ford Ranger will be retired for its modernized successor which is expected to be on showroom floors by Q4. The highly anticipated Ranger which shares a platform with Volkswagen’s Amarok will continue to be built in Ford’s Silverton facility and is expected to continue at the forefront of local bakkie sales. 

In terms of what the Japanese and Koreans have to offer, we can expect a substantial offering in 2022 from Hyundai. The Tucson and the futuristic looking Staria Nautica are expected in Q1 while the Staria Panel Van will arrive in Q2. The refreshed Creta is yet to be confirmed but can be realistically expected to hit sales floors in the second half of the year. 

The performance orientated branch of Hyundai will also welcome the Kona N and the lauded i30 N DCT which are expected before Q2. 

Toyota will be dabbling in performance models too when the brand new GR-86 hits our market in Q3. The souped up versions of the Corolla Cross are expected in Q1, and the Hilux will also enter our markets in Q2, both under the new GR-S guise. Q1 will also see Toyota expand their RAV4 and Corolla Quest model lineup.

Subaru on the other hand have only signalled two new models for their portfolio in 2022, the new WRX, which is steeped in rally lineage is expected in Q2, while the Forester SUV has been revised and has been on sale for the past few days already.

On the performance side of things, amorous Italian brand Alfa Romeo has received a consignment of limited edition Giulia GTA and Giulia GTAm models which feature an uprated V6 engine, Sauber engineered aero bits, roll cages, racing suits and a hefty price tag costing around R4 Million depending on the model. With only 8 of 500 coming to our shores and a handful already sold, the saloon based racecar is fast set to be an appreciating future classic.

Porsche will also be launching their track-oriented model in the form of the 911 GT3. While no dates have been confirmed, what we do know is it comes equipped with the traditional Porsche 4.0 flat-six motor which is capable of redlining at 9000rpm. 

While the GT3 model makes up few sales numbers but excites owners and pedestrians alike, Porsche will also be introducing the updated models that yield the Stuttgart automakers bread and butter; the Cayenne Turbo GT and Panamera Platinum Edition will arrive in Q2. 

Rounding out the list with what many consider the brand that epitomises passion and performance, Q2 will welcome the first ever road going V6 that adorns the Prancing Horse. While it may be the first of its kind for the famed Italian automaker, the Ferrari engine is claimed to produce the specific highest output of any production car engine. Rated at 488kW solely from its 2.9 litre displacement. 

The iconic Ferrari V12 isn’t dead however as we can expect to hear the sonorous 812 Competizione in Q3.

Some are made while others are created, the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio

Alfa Romeo is a marquee that needs no introduction, with an impressive 111 year lifespan their legacy has been cemented into the halls of fame with pedigree racers and breathtaking designs. Despite the respectable history, the famed Italian marquee has faltered somewhat over the past few decades, losing market share with an ever dwindling range of vehicles. Just over half a decade ago, Giulia and Stelvio were introduced and intended to reinvigorate the historic iconicity of the Turin based automaker. We got to spend some time on launch with their mid-life refresh to see if they could bring more success in the next half of their product cycle.

First thing is first, in typical Italian fashion models are designed to spend considerably more time in production than their competitors’ offerings. Giulia has been available since 2015 while Stelvio is one year younger. For general context, a fellow Stellantis model we recently had on test; the Fiat 500C Dolcevita has been in production since 2007 with only minor updates implemented over the years.

What this means is that the typical mass-creations from Milan, Torino and Bologna are designed to last, with their platforms being initially overengineered to accommodate updates far into the future. Inadvertently, the styling is intended to retain its aesthetic over time and is therefore minimal, timeless and without excess. While I think the designers at Centro Stile Alfa Romeo were restrained in unleashing a truly captivating and unmistakable Italian design a few years ago, what has nevertheless resulted are two pretty contenders in the D-SUV and D-Saloon segment that still look as good as the day they were birthed to the world. 

To that extent, not much has changed with the exterior styling other than the addition of a few new paint swatches which includes the envy-inducing Visconti Green and standard circular shaped alloy wheels. Giulia’s front end details have also been altered ever so slightly with a gloss black sheath fitted in the scudetto grille while Stelvio has stayed identical from before save from updated 20” alloys. 

Alfa Romeo astutely comes all in with their range so the list price of R989 900 for the Giulia Veloce and R1 159 900 for the Stelvio Super includes all the bells and whistles a premium vehicle should have. Both models are identically equipped with tech and safety, the only significant difference being the Q4 all-wheel drive system on Stelvio. 

What this considerable sum of money gets you is a dashboard integrated 8.8” infotainment screen surrounded by a wealthy amount of soft touch leather, a 7” colour TFT instrument cluster flanked by a scoped analog tachometer and speedometer, Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto screen mirroring via cable, leather front seats with electric adjustment, a small reverse camera and fixed aluminium paddle shifters that are tactile to the touch.

Giulia also comes standard with fresher looking Bi-Xenon headlights and DRL’s, no more halogen reflectors on base-spec derivatives since there are no more base-spec derivatives, this is something the brand is proud of. All in remember? A 5 year/100 000km full warranty and maintenance plan is standard for anyone that has their doubts on ill reliability.

The interior of Stelvio feels more premium with material use despite Giulia sharing a similar aesthetic albeit in a much lower, sport-inspired seating position. This sums up the packages adequately since the Alfa Romeo SUV ticks all the boxes in the comfort and luxury department while the saloon has a much more exciting, driver orientated appeal to it. 

The updates to the infotainment system are the biggest improvement to the 2021 models, with widget based functionality coupled alongside screen mirroring. Operation is logically laid out and modernises the UX with expected current generation usability. A coloured 7” TFT instrument cluster has now been incorporated alongside the timeless analog dials making all displayed  information behind the steering wheel much more prominent. You also get wireless charging in a mostly-concealed compartment beneath the armrest too which is ideal for prying eyes into the cabin. 

In comparison to its competitors, the reverse camera is the one let down which is minutely displayed on a quadrant of the already small infotainment screen through a less than desirable camera. However where other brands are continually in search of different ways of improving interacting with the on board systems, Alfa Romeo have opted for an old school rotary dial in-front of the gear shifter for the infotainment screen and steering mounted buttons to control the TFT instrument cluster. Modern day haptic surfaces and touch screens for every conceivable feature don’t always cut it for me, traditional buttons are still far more satisfying and rewarding to the touch. 

All of this is justified in a statement made from the current Alfa Romeo CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato who insists that the cars must remain “driver centered” reiterating that i-Pad festooned interiors are not the future of the brand. Relief for the few consumers who enjoy the no-fuss- driving approach which is devoid of soon-to-be-outdated user interfaces displayed on screens spanning the length of the cockpit. 

As with most releases in the premium segments, the more affordable yet equally luxurious derivatives always live in the shadow of their high performance siblings. The Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde was no different which immediately dominated the Nordschleife at the Nurburgring and became the fastest 4 door production sedan to lap the circuit at the time. This took all the shine away from the impressive all-aluminum 2 litre turbocharged motor that sufficiently and comfortably propels both Super SUV and Veloce saloon forward. 

The motor in the 2021 derivatives is exactly the same as before but more compliant with emission regulations. The same 206kW and 400Nm from the four-cylinder are still readily available under the right pedal and delivered through an 8 speed ZF gearbox to either the rear wheels of Giulia or all four corners of Stelvio through a carbon fiber prop shaft.

There is an ongoing theme of weight reduction for the heavier drivetrain components that Alfa Romeo has continuously followed. Aluminium and carbon fiber are notoriously structural but lightweight materials in their application so Giulia expectedly tips the scales at a feathery 1429kg while Stelvio, with the Q4 system comes in at a respectable 1660kg. To put it into context, a comparable Jaguar F-Pace comes in at 1775kg – or the equivalent difference of a rugby prop the day after Christmas lunch. The results in terms of comfort and performance are noticeable. 

Not only can you experience a nippy 0-100 sprint time of 5.7 seconds in both derivatives but also achieve a claimed economy of around 8.4l/100km, which is fairly frugal in the premium D-Segment. The sensation of the direct steering probably won’t allow that though as it inspires enthusiastic driving confidence, particularly in roads with sequences of corners. 

The Q4 system of Stelvio is commendable in its application, its performance is highly regarded as it simply does not feel as top-heavy or bulky as a typical SUV in its segment. It confidently plants itself around high speed corners while momentary understeer in tight hairpins is mitigated through its all-wheel drive system. It is after all based on the same Giorgio platform as the athletic Giulia and Giulia QV. 

Speaking of which, Giulia has received revised rear suspension which still achieves Alfa Romeo’s ideal 50/50 weight distribution. The improvements keep it more planted than before and make the entire driving experience highly interactive and rewarding. For those of us that really relish the drive, this premium saloon will not disappoint. 

The different driving modes of the dna toggle are all well suited to their functions with much snappier gearshifts and throttle response in dynamic mode. While the majority of the journey was spent thrashing the motor to redline in this setting, both other modes were plush and comfortable, still capable of commanding power and downshifting the ZF gearbox to overtake slow moving traffic on single lane country roads.

The host of updates to the 2021 model year has also been implemented in the 375kW Giulia QV and Stelvio Q which are powered by the Ferrari derived 2.9l V6. Giulia QV will set you back R1 599 900 while the family hauling all-wheel drive Stelvio Q will come in at R1 749 900. Both models can now also be finished in Ocra GT, which pays homage to some of Alfa Romeo’s yellow colour swatches from the 1970s. 

With recent news of the 500 limited edition Sauber co-developed Giulia GTA and GTAm (modificata) selling out globally, 8 are rumored to be entering our shores. A high number considering our local sales numbers are less than that for standard stock, reaffirming that the brand is still very much locally adored by enthusiasts and Alfisti alike. 

Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm images shot by Daniela Pirnbaum for @alfattitude

The return of the Gran Turismo Alleggerita (alleggerita – Italian for lightweight) icon adds power and drops 100kg of weight from the standard QV model. The 2.9l V6 biturbo has been bumped up to 390kW and 600Nm while the back seats of the GTAm have been replaced with a half cage and full carbon fibre bucket seats and racing harnesses keep the driver and passenger at bay. Externally, an adjustable Sauber front and rear aero kit improves downforce while a massive adjustable rear wing features on the GTAm. The GTA includes 4 seats while the rear spoiler and splitter have been optimised for daily use on the road. This will also be the first saloon to feature centre-locking wheels as standard. 

The lucky local clientele of the eye watering list price of R3 999 900 for the GTA and R4 299 900 for GTAm also receive a personalized experience package during the  sales process which also includes a kit comprising a custom GTA liveried Bell helmet, an Alpinestars race suit, helmet and shoes while the car receives a personalized wool cover. 

With no immediate plans to extend the lifespan of the dynamic Giorgio platform after emerging in the new era of the Stellantis automobile group, this may also be the last traditional Internal Combustion Engine powered Alfa Romeo saloon the world will receive considering an all-electric future. The seductive Tonale Compact SUV concept looks set to carry the predominant sales of the brand in the coming years as an electrified flagship. It may be over 6 years on from their initial release, but the Giulia Veloce and Stelvio Super are more recommendable than ever. They’ve been in the market for half a decade now which means that they are not brand new in shape but have proven the brands improved reliability, despite initial concerns from naysayers and critics. While sales numbers are a fraction of the competitors, one must not forget that Alfa Romeo is not a numbers brand but a brand more focused on driving passion and feeling. Their sporting dna and driver focused ergonomics nullify the slightly less equipped technological features. For those that enjoy being in command of the metal, glass and rubber machines that bring us closer to the places and people we love, these are cars that will captivate from first glance. In Giulia or Stelvio, you may even find yourself grinning from ear to ear until you have arrived at your destination.

The updated Suzuki Swift is all about the right feels!

Suzuki recently hosted automotive press for the national launch of their mid-cycle refresh of their best-selling Swift model. We spent the morning venturing around in the new compact hatchback along some of Gauteng’s country roads to see if this car had #alltherightfeels. 

The Swift has been one of Suzuki’s best selling vehicles since its inception 17 years ago and retains this title with their third generation iteration. After 3 years on the market, with sales commencing in 2018, the current model has undergone an extremely minor face-lift with subtle changes on the exterior and interior. What hasn’t changed is that it remains the same frugal, compact and fun value-for-money car that it was when the range was originally conceived in 2004. 

While this update may be regarded as completely minor and even unidentifiable to certain consumers, it includes some aesthetic updates which should entice the young-at-heart. This comes primarily in the form of updated exterior colours, including two-tone options on the upper-range GLX models and more bling up front with a chrome strip that divides the number plate and Suzuki logo. New 15” alloy wheels sit on all four corners of the car although the more affordable base models still feature steelies with hubcaps.

The other important updates that are included into the range are even less visible to the eye but enhance the safety and overall driving experience. The inclusion of rear parking sensors and electronic stability control (ESC) across the range add to the growing list of standard features on this affordable competitor. A useful reverse camera is also included on the GLX models while hill-start assist is standard on the automated manual transmission derivatives. 

The inner workings of the Swift remain completely unchanged, with the surprisingly punchy 1.2-litre engine from before still delivering 61kW and 113Nm. While this number is rather low by today’s standards for naturally aspirated motors, its feather weight of 950kg justifies the low displacement and figures. What this affords the driver with is a combined fuel consumption as low as 4.9l/l00km which remains one of its primary selling points (although we achieved just higher than that on our short test). 

Not once did the car feel lacking in power, nipping from robot to robot with ease yet still comfortable enough to drop a gear and overtake on highways and single lane roads. The only gripe came with the lack of a 6th gear in the manual derivatives for highway driving. While the gearbox is tremendously smooth and tactile to change in both sedate and enthusiastic driving scenarios, sitting above 3000rpm at the national highway speed limit could have been better optimized. 

Over its 17 year lifespan, the Swift has retained its iconic silhouette and compact stature. The third generation has evolved design features to create a more cohesive, sleek bodywork which includes concealed rear door handles and more compact wing mirrors. While the steep, angular rake of the A-pillar makes it easily distinguishable to the dozens of other competitors in the segment, you do get mild wind noises emanating from the feature which exacerbates exponentially the faster you begin to go. 

The inside of the Swift retains the same spacious cabin for passengers and the driver from before. While boot capacity is a great improvement from its precursor, its meagre 265-litres of volume fall short and are nowhere near class leading. While some questionable Maruti made build quality issues can be subtly found, the cabin remains a pleasant place to be. The 7” infotainment system forms the focal point of the central fascia while lower end derivatives are less equipped with modern tech. Android Auto or Apple CarPlay connectivity are easily accessible via the infotainment system and enable the latest music or podcasts to be blasted through the sound system of the GLX with relative ease. A reverse camera is neatly concealed within the back bumper but has limited height visibility because of this. 

Prior to driving, I was worried that the naturally aspirated motor would be grossly underpowered. While other markets have the more powerful 1.0 litre turbo motor on sale, Suzuki SA have justified their decision for the not bringing the more powerful variant in for its added expense which would place it just just below the R336 000 Swift Sport, undercutting the compact hot hatch and ultimately removing the affordability factor of the car. Speaking of which, the range of GA, GL and GLX models span between an affordable R180 900 for the GA all the way through to R234 900 for the well equipped GLX AMT with the standard inflationary increases from its precursor. All prices include a 5-year/100 000 km promotional warranty and 2-year/30 000 km service plan.

After a stellar year of sales in 2020 and a continually growing dealership network, it is well expected that models like the Swift and Toyota joint venture Vitara Brezza will continue to usher in this upward trend and be at the forefront of sales in 2021. 

The updated Swift in conclusion remains exactly what you would expect of it: a frugal, nippy and affordable city slicker. With the competitive budget hatchback category, few others have the impressive track record of  7.5 million global sales and counting (since inception) and it is easy to see why! 

VW Arteon 2.0 TSI 4Motion Driven Review

VW Arteon 2.0 TSI

VW Arteon 2.0 TSI

Sitting low, with a multitude of thin, sharp horizontal chrome lines across the front and focused headlights, the Arteon is one of the most striking front ends I’ve ever seen on VW. It’s an attention grabber, a stop and look twice kind of car that wouldn’t look out of place in a Transformers movie. Regular sporty sedan by day, universe-saving electromechanical robot by night – I suppose we can only dream.

Stealthy Persona

However, as striking as the Arteon is, its persona is stealthy. On the streets, one would call it a “sleeper”. Sleepers are dangerous and can be the source of much embarrassment in front of your mates or worse, bae.  You’d want to be careful if you find yourself underestimating one of these at a set of lights as the Arteon’s 0-100km/h time might be somewhat surprising. Yes, with a Golf R engine, 4motion and 206kW on tap, the Arteon will hit those magical three figures faster than a Golf GTI – 5.6 seconds to be exact.VW Arteon 2.0 TSI Rear

Sluggish?

While it does share the same architecture, you’d be wrong to think the VW Arteon 2.0 TSI is simply a “bigger” Golf R. The first couple of times I put my foot down I felt I wanted more, was the Arteon sluggish? If I had actually looked down to see how fast I was travelling I would have realised that the Arteon isn’t sluggish at all,  rather a quiet and comfortable cruiser with heaps of power and all the bells and whistles you’d expect to find in a luxury vehicle.

VW Arteon 2.0 TSI Interior

Something Different

Funny story, I’d had the Arteon on test for around 3 days when I was asked, “ What car is this?” Before I could even spit a word out, my dear wife chirped up “ It’s a Mercedes”. She’d only ever rode in the vehicle at night and never really paid much attention to the badge, so after lovingly correcting her, I asked her why she thought this. Her reasoning’s were due to the Arteon’s looks, technology and build quality. My wife is accustomed to cars of all shapes, sizes and price ranges so for me, this sums the Arteon up.

If you’ve been enticed by the likes of a 4 Series gran coupe or A5 Sportback then you should probably open your eyes and check out the VW Arteon 2.0 TSI too, because it offers something a little different while rivalling in performance and quality.

Whether the Arteon sells well in South Africa or not depends largely on how it is perceived. The owner of a Golf R or GTI doesn’t need to jump ship when they are ready to take a step out of hatchbacks and into something bigger, whether that’s a SUV or in this case, sedan. I don’t want to delve too deep into this, as my college Richard Nwamba talks more about this subject here: Take Off Your Blinkers: Volkswagen Arteon Driven. At the end of the day, a badge isn’t the be all and end all.

VW Arteon 2.0 TSI Wheel

For me, this specific Arteon offers a great all-round package. There’s no arguing that it looks fantastic, but not only that, it appeals to the guy inside of me that likes a little speed and performance as well. It can be fun when it needs too, but also a fantastic cruiser when you want it to be with plenty of kWs and comfort for the open road.

Volkswagen Arteon 2.0 TSI Pricing in South Africa

VW Arteon 2.0 TSI – R699 900

The new Arteon comes standard with a 5 year/90 000km Maintenance Plan, 3 year/120 000km warranty, 12-year anti-corrosion warranty and space saver spare wheel. Service Interval is 15 000km.

A True Hot Hatch – Hyundai i30 N

We Drive the Hyundai i30 N

Rewind your mind to a little over a year ago. If someone told you that Hyundai are planning to release a hot hatch, but not just any hot hatch, a hot hatch that would bring the fight to every one of the great hatches we know and love, would you have believed them? Probably not. Welcome the Hyundai i30 N.

Hyundai i30 N South Africa

Hyundai i30 N on a abend

You see, performance hatches and Hyundai have never really belonged in the same sentence together, it’s kind of like Ben and Jerrys offering a zero-sugar ice-cream, one would think it’s going to be a bit “pap”.

However, Hyundai have been clever and found themselves a person who knows the in’s and out’s of this performancy kind of stuff. His name is Albert Biermann and he once headed up the BMW M Performance division. This is quite a statement from Hyundai, so how does the i3o N fair?

It Means Business

Glare at the Hyundai i30 N and you will get a deathly stare back, it looks mean from every angle. Sitting low, the artic blue paint reminds me that this colour has been discontinued, which means we needed to stay far away from bushes, curbs and anything untoward that could cause damage. My favourite angle? The rear. Its small wing and diffuser complement the wide stance, dual tailpipes and bright rear lights nicely. Hyundai are not playing around.

Hyundai i30 N South Africa

Rear light of the Hyundai i30 N

For those who don’t know, you may think it’s all show and no go, however, if you are even just so slightly interested in cars you will know that this is not the case.  285bhp (202kW)  and 400Nm on tap means theHyundai i30 N already shows the Golf GTI it’s mother on paper, but what about on the road?

What is it like to drive?

For me, a great hot hatch is one that makes you smile. After all, they are built to be fun right? A mixture of performance, response, chassis and sound are all major components they make up the perfect hatch. Quite frankly, the Hyundai i30 N delivers in all departments.

The wave of boost that hits in the lower RPM range Is addictive. I love the surge of power and boost that kicks in and doesn’t ever seem to fade out. Coupled with the heavy clutch and clunky, solid gearbox, the feeling can only be described as real. No other hot hatch sounds like this, the crackle and pops produced literally makes people walking on the side of the road to stop, turn around and put their hands in the air – sorry love, this is straight from the manufacturer.

Hyundai i30 N South Africa

Hyundai i30 N on a racetrack

The i30N also lives up to its nickname “Corner Rascal” . I was going to say the front end is to die for, but that’s probably an overstatement. It is wonderfully sharp and grippy and when partnered with the balanced chassis and limited slip diff, you’d have to be doing something wild to find understeer.  Hyundai didn’t lie when they told us this car is measured in BPM and not RPM – it really does get the blood pumping. Did I mention the noise?

A choice of 5 driving modes are available, you know, the usual Eco, Comfort, Sport that seem to come on most new vehicles nowadays, but, If you want to get straight to the main action then a simple press of the blue N button on the steering wheel will do the trick – I wonder what this is similar too, it’s at the back of my mind and I just can’t remember…

Steering Wheel of the Hyundai i30 N South Africa

Steering Wheel of the Hyundai i30 N

I digress,  The N will activate everything and anything that brings out the dark side of the Hyundai i30 N’s personality. Hit it again, and the system activates your custom N settings which are programmed through the main interface.  You will probably use this if you’re fussy like Richard, as he likes everything in sport apart from steering feel which MUST stay in comfort – lame.

Technology in the i30 N

I was quite taken aback when I found technology such as wireless charging, autonomous emergency braking, collision warning and a lane keep assist technology which works much more like semi-autonomous driving.  Rev matching is also a treat, making downshifts much more pleasant as well as sounding fantastic. If you’ve been driving long enough though, you can turn this off from the steering wheel and work your magic with the old heel and toe situation. Of course, Apple Carplay and Android Auto are also thrown into the mix to end of a great bunch of tech.

Hyundai i30 N Interior South Africa

Hyundai i30 N Interior

Does it lack anything?

Dampers. It lacks dampers. Yes, the ride is particularly firm but in all seriousness, it doesn’t really lack anything. You have everything you need and more in terms of tech and performance. If you are going to compare this against a Golf or other German hatchbacks, then it won’t give you the same premium feel and trims. It’s more plastically, and obviously not as comfortable. If your looking for a fast hatch which isn’t going to break your back then this probably isn’t the hatch for you. It’s not going to be great if you undertake a long commute on a daily basis either, but if you are looking for true hot hatch experience then you won’t go wrong with the Hyundai i30 N.

Hyundai i30 N South Africa

Sam Ayres with the Hyundai i30 N

How does it compare to other hatches?

I’ve not driven every hot hatch ever made, and there are a few new models that I still need to get behind the wheel of, such as the Megane R.S. However, from what I have driven, it definitely provides one of the rawest, fun and visceral driving experiences. I have spent many hours and corners behind the wheel of a GTI Clubsport, they both feature very positive front ends and similar driving traits, however, the Clubsport is DSG – which leads me onto think that a Clubsport S with a manual box, reduction in weight and increase in more power might just result in a driving experience that pips the i30N.  Either way,  I’m just going to have to wait to find out.

Learn More: https://www.hyundai.co.uk/new-cars/i30n

New Mercedes-Benz A-Class – Setting New Standards

New Mercedes-Benz A-Class in Matt Grey, Overlooking Ocean and town

New Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Some car models evolve like a fine wine; slowly over time, each incarnation just a little better than the last. Not at Mercedes-Benz though, if other technologies progressed as fast as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, we’d be living around in a rather futuristic world. Twenty-one years ago, just after the first A-Class was launched, it made motoring headlines for failing the Moose Test, but that was actually a blessing in disguise rather than a setback. This problem forced the men in white coats to re-engineer the suspension as well as to add electronic driver aids never before seen in a compact car, forcing other manufacturers to follow suit. This was the start of a brilliant track record, amassing sales of three million A-Class cars (6 million compact cars in total) to date, each new model featuring improvements and upgrades that you’d only expect to find in top tier models.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is now in its fourth generation, and it’s no facelift, this technological marvel is an all-new affair from the ground up. The compact Benz is longer, higher and wider resulting in a sportier looking hatchback, especially when fitted with the optional 19-inch wheels. The front-end subscribes to the latest Mercedes-Benz design architecture and this new design also sees the car being the most aerodynamic in the segment. Much of this is attributed to the front and rear wheel spoilers that result in low airflow losses, in addition, wheel arches are insulated from the engine compartment and the radiator surrounds are sealed. The design of the A-pillars and the new wing mirrors also has an effect on drag, but most noticeably on wind noise. This all-new A-Class is easily the quietest hatch I’ve driven to date.

Cabin space is improved thanks to the new dimensions; so taller drivers have more comfort with better elbow and shoulder room. The boot receives a 29-litre increase in capacity, now totalling 370 litres and the taillights are now sectioned in two, meaning a 20cm wider load aperture giving your favourite set of Callaway clubs a perfect entry. Besides space, the interior of the all-new A-Class is a very premium place indeed. The retail price of these cars (which we’ll get to later) does seem high, but when you see the fit and finish of the materials and the amount of technology crammed in, things become a lot more palatable.

MBUX – Mercedes-Benz User Experience – is an intelligent multimedia system that adapts to your inputs and voice commands which is not only great to keep you company on long roads, it also keeps your eye focused ahead to keep you safe. All manner of things can be done via the voice control, such as turning vehicle systems on and off or finding you a better route through traffic.  To access this function, simply blurt out “Hey Mercedes” at any point and she’ll answer you back – sound familiar?  It’s also easy to use, however when you want your fingers to do the talking, the touch controls for all the systems are easy and intuitive, once you learn what does what of course.

Powering the all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class are two new power plants; for the A200 there’s a turbocharged 1332cc 4-cylinder with 120kW and 250Nm on tap. The A250 Sport features 1991cc, also a turbocharged 4-cylinder, and produces 165kW and 350Nm available. Both engines are mated to a sublime, smooth and lightning-quick 7-speed dual clutch transmission (7G-DCT). A variety of drive modes are available, including Comfort, Eco and Sport, the latter being very responsive and firm. We were only able to sample the A200 on launch, and the responsiveness and available power from such a small capacity motor boggles the mind. It’s claimed to reach 100km/h in 8-seconds with a top speed at 225km/h, but it feels faster. Combined fuel consumption is claimed at 5.2l/100km which I’m sure it can manage, just not on launch. In this initial launch drive the A200 was put through its paces and it must be said that there’s not really any way to fault the car. With the technology on board, the new A-Class sets new standards, once again forcing others to follow. The automaker wants to target a younger, more tech-savvy buyer, and offerings don’t get much better than this. A diesel variant and the halo AMG version will come in time.

New Mercedes-Benz A-Class Pricing in South Africa

Pricing for the all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class sees the A200 comes in at R499 000 and the A250 lists at R593 300.

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.

 

New Volkswagen Touareg: First Drive

Volkswagen Touareg

We Drive the New Volkswagen Touareg

It’s amazing what happens to us when we get older. In my twenties, what was important in a vehicle was its looks, my friend’s opinion and of course, what members of the opposite sex would say when I rocked up in my sweet wheels. Now, in my thirties, with a seven-month-old in tow, what I want out of a vehicle is completely different.

Volkswagen Touareg

 

My daily “run around” is an SUV. I’m that guy who has, besides some dirt roads on a friend’s farm, never taken it off-road. Why? I don’t hunt or do “outdoorsy” stuff, simple. I’m a city dweller who is very happy to be eye level with taxi drivers. I also have the rear seat filled with toys to amuse a very cute human. So,  when the invite for the local launch of the new Volkswagen Touareg came into TheMotorist inbox, I was the first to put my hand up, naturally.

Volkswagen Touareg

In its third generation, the VW Touareg has grown up. Sharing its DNA with some of the biggest names in the field, namely the Bentley Bentayga, Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7. The new Touareg has all the underpinnings of a superstar. Having done my homework before the launch, to say that I was excited and had big expectations would be an understatement. On arrival, what strikes you from your first introduction is the presence the vehicle has. From its imposing grill accompanied with its vast use of chrome, the face of the Touareg is one that would be quite intimidating to see in your rear-view mirror. You take in its profile and you are greeted with a vehicle that clearly shows that good looks run in the family, as you see bits of the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne in its design.Volkswagen Touareg

Open the door and you’ll be very impressed. Its interior is one that is just sublime. From the materials used, to the layout of the infotainment screen, you may just find yourself thinking “what’s the lounge TV doing in the dashboard?” It’s that big. The screen is also angled toward the driver, cocooning you in tech – with minimal buttons to add to the very modern look. As stunning as this all this however,  you do wonder how many times you will have to wipe the screen to maintain this chicness. It’s a sacrifice worth paying however because it does make the cabin extra special.

Volkswagen Touareg

Under the bonnet:

Powering this new generation Touareg is a 3.0 V6 turbocharged diesel, the only engine to be offered by Volkswagen South Africa and for good reason. With 600Nm and 190kW, this power-plant isn’t shy when you call on the power. It arrives in waves, giving you the muscle you need to perform any overtaking manoeuvre, big or small. The reason for one engine to be offered? Demand. For a very long time, I have held the opinion that there isn’t a need for ridiculously powered SUVs. As fun as it may be to have all that power at your disposal, these are cars are meant to do the school and shopping run with entire families in them – so the real chances of exploiting that performance is minimal. As a result, VW have opted to go the practical route with its engine offering.

Volkswagen Touareg

My driving partner Sam Ayres and I got acquainted with this new vehicle in the leafy green province of Port Elizabeth with our end destination being Plettenberg Bay. We took off in the top of the range Executive with R-line package which was shod with the 20” wheels and tyres combination. With its air suspension (standard equipment on the Executive), ride was compliant and positive. Steering feedback is electric, but easy to place and the vehicle has a natural way of hiding its mass. After a few kilometres, the vehicle seems to shrink around you dynamically, giving you the impression of driving a rather spacious sedan – something the likes of BMW have done well over the years in their X5. This is a great compliment as a “tall SUV” doesn’t inspire confidence, whereas the new Touareg certainly does. With buttons being a thing of the past, you also find that the optional but very worth it “Innovision Cockpit” very intuitive. Especially after you’ve found the perfect way to personalise your Touareg. When nightfall happens, it looks like you are driving a vehicle from a sci-fi movie. With thirty interior colours to choose from, your young ones will have you planning your family trips at night, so that they can enjoy the show.

The Drive:

The drive to Plettenberg Bay included some forty kilometres on gravel roads with sharp hairpin corners to allow us to test the suspension. A simple switch over to the gravel/dirt setting on the air suspension and you’re good to go. The mighty diesel engine comes into its own and the suspension damping softens enough to not make you feel like you are doing something out of the ordinary.

Volkswagen Touareg

Along with offering just the one engine, you also only get two options of specification level. The Executive with the R Line package, as well as the Luxury. Both these packages come with a good amount of standard features, giving you a brief options list to choose from. My choice would be the Executive with the optional twenty-one-inch wheels to give it the “gangster look” a young dad would like. As mentioned, I don’t go off-road, so don’t worry about me getting a flat tyre in Sandton. This package comes with the host of driver assist features that are as long as the vehicle, namely Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Assist, Side Assist, Night Vision, Panoramic Sliding Roof, Discover Pro Navigation and and and.

Volkswagen Touareg

The result?

What we have now is a Volkswagen SUV that can take on the mighty BMW X5, Range Rover Sport as well as the Mercedes GLE in all aspects.  From a quality, performance, technology and overall appeal. It is still more understated than its rivals, but in a classy way. Being a Volkswagen, it won’t shock you from a price point of view either, which is good considering what SUVs cost today. Impressed is an understatement, Volkswagen have truly outdone themselves. We’ll take a Black one please!

 

New Volkswagen Touareg Pricing in South Africa

Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI 190kW (Luxury)                    R999 800

Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI 190kW (Executive)                R1 088 200

The new Touareg comes standard with a 5 year/100 000km Maintenance Plan, 3 year/120 000km warranty, 12-year anti-corrosion warranty and space saver spare wheel. Service Interval is 15 000km.

Here’s why you should buy the Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo Giulia 

I know what you are all thinking, how does the Italian stallion compare to the ever so popular BMW 3 series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class or the third German moustache – the Audi A4?. All giants of the same segment.

This article isn’t going to be a long-winded and unnecessary comparison, the seats are like this, the wing mirrors are like that…if that’s what you came for you can copy and paste the above paragraph into the mighty Google search. This article is simply going to give you the reason why one should consider the Giulia- summed it up in one word: Difference.

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Let me expand this over a few hundred words.

You see, a BMW 3 series is a great proven product, likewise a C-class, they sell in droves partly because of this, but also because these brands are huge in this fine country of South Africa. Consumers buy BMW/Mercedes/Audi products for the same reason they buy Apple- because of how it interprets them and how they are viewed by their friends. I have happened to fall for this clever marketing ploy, you don’t sell the product, you sell the experience, the lifestyle…

Alfa Romeo Giulia

The first Alfa Romeo Guila I drove happened to be the QV, its fast and nimble front end caught my attention, so did the faulty electronics, and then a day later it ended up in a tyre wall ( through no fault of my own) It’s safe to say I didn’t get to spend much time in that specific vehicle, but after spending a good amount of time in the “standard” model, the Giulia just happens to also be a very good motor vehicle – shock horror.

However, I can’t just leave you with that to break the mould. We can all see its beautiful, but above that, it drives very nicely from both a comfort and performance perspective, it’s darn comfortable, the interior is fairly splendid and features technology which belongs in 2018. The Giulia’s 2.0 Petrol with 147 kW 8-speed automatic transmission offers just a good if not a better driving experience than its direct competitors. So here is what you need to ask yourself, why not be different?

Alfa Romeo Giulia

You see, life isn’t always what your friends think. While on route to test drive the “you know whats”, break the stereotype and pull into your nearest Alfa dealer. You never know unless you try and let’s be honest, if I had a Rand for every 320 M-Sport I passed on the morning commute, I wouldn’t be making a morning commute…

Take Off Your Blinkers – Volkswagen Arteon Driven

Volkswagen Arteon

We Drive the New Volkswagen Arteon

Let’s face it, VW’s Passat was one of its least-loved vehicles. It reminds me of those movies which feature that one workmate which no one gets along with. However, when given the chance, you find out that Gwendoline has a wicked sense of humour and has stories from all her travels around the world. She is awesome and you wish that you had given her a chance all these years.Well, just like in Hollywood movie, Gwendoline has a life makeover, changes her appearance, loses a ton of weight and changes her name to “G Money” and the office is a buzz with the new staff member that they have. All the girls want to be her and the guys want to date her. Well, ladies and gentlemen, we give you the new Volkswagen Arteon.

Volkswagen Arteon

Brand new from the ground up, the “Sport Coupe GTE” wowed the crowds at its premiere in 2015 but normally, when vehicle looks that good, you expect the manufacturer to tone it down with the final production model and give you something that was in-line with the design cues but not the car that caused you to have it as a screen saver on your laptop. No, not this time my fellow car people! If you pull up the pictures from 2015, the vehicle looks 99% identical to the vehicle that is now in front of me.

We got the grips with this brand-new vehicle at Volkswagen’s head office in Sandton and after the media briefing, which I missed as I was in awe as to how stunning this car is, we were thrown into peak hour Sandton traffic on route to our drive event, hosted at Swartkops raceway. Two engines are on offer from launch and my driving partner and I were in the 2.0 TDI DSG, with 350Nm of torque and 130kW. This ensured that we not only kept up with traffic, but also ushered people out of the fast lane as the diesel motor has a wide spread of torque in any gear, and was a peach to drive. I must say that I am one of the petrol heads that has seen the light, for a daily commuter I see the benefit of the diesel motor and with this current crop of diesels around, it’s amazing that people still have a petrol vehicle for the daily commute. But then again, I do understand why this specific petrol motor was included in the fold. With 206kW and with the same torque as the diesel, this is for the corporate racer that wants the Golf R feel in a premium skin.

Volkswagen Arteon

As is my custom, the first drive was handled by my co-pilot and was thoroughly impressed by the infotainment system and layout of the whole cabin. Its beyond spacious and due to it being front wheel drive, it lacks the transmission tunnel which plagues most of the vehicle in this class-it was refreshing to find so much space in the rear. On arriving at Swartkops, we were given a breakdown of the design features of the Arteon and saw how the designers have stayed so close to the concept. Tip from VW, if your concept receives as much praise theirs did, don’t stray and then you keep your clients base happy. Speaking of clients…

The Arteon is aimed at the mid exec class so it comes into the BMW 3 series, Mercedes C Class and Cousin Audi A4 fold in terms of product placement. Now this is where we as South Africans need to strip our biases aside. Traditionally, in the buying cycle of a client, we go from the first car, into a mid-sized hatch or small sedan. VW has no problem with those clients as that’s where the first introduction happened and Polo Vivo and Golf sales speak for themselves. The issue happens when clients go from say a Golf GTI to something else as normally, circumstances necessitate a sedan and the “German Three” are the default. This is where the Arteon comes in. With the Arteon being such a formidable contender VW need to do all that they can to showcase that as they now have a vehicle that can stand toe to toe with the stalwarts of this segment, but its also up to the consumer to take off their blinkers and look at what other options that they have in this segment.

Volkswagen Arteon

We have the pleasure of finding out the handling capabilities of the Arteon at the track and was pleasantly surprised as to how little body roll there was and yes, being front wheel drive for the diesel and 4Motion for the petrol, there was some understeer which that came to the fore when pushed hard, something that if you are doing on public roads, you deserve to have your tyres humbled by the pavement.

So, VW now have a serious contender for the premium segment and if marketed well and clients get to experience the vehicle, there will a lot more on the road and from the day and a half that we spent with the Arteon, you will be making the right choice. G Money will change your perspective for the good!