Tag: SUV

Is the updated Renault Koleos the right family pairing for the holiday season

Renault has increased their SUV portfolio extensively in the past few years, this experience has put them in good stead with the highly contentious segment. While offerings scattering the price range such as the Kiger, Captur and Duster compete well in their segments, Renault were in need of their own entry into the premium SUV C market. This is where their Koleos fits into the equation. After being on sale in our market for only 2 years with mediocre sales, minor updates to the vehicle have been implemented in the hopes of compelling consumers for what can be described as a handsome, spacious and comfortable option. 

While the Koleos nameplate has been around for 15 years, the second generation was first presented to the world in 2016 as a collaboration between Renault and Nissan. Using the Common Module Family (CMF)-CD platform as a basis, much of its underpinnings are shared with the Nissan X-Trail which includes its 2.5l naturally aspirated 4 cylinder motor, revelry to consumers terrified by the thought of French made mechanical machinery. 

Since its debut, this is the solitary engine our market has received which is mated to a CVT and now powers only the front wheels as opposed to a four wheel drive option from before. While figures are stated at 126kW of power and 233 Nm of torque, the powertrain selection feels sluggish and lethargic at highveld altitude. 

Combined fuel economy isn’t particularly stellar either when compared to its turbocharged competitors, with claimed figures of 8.1l/100 km while our real world test which was dominated by urban routes yielded 9.2l/100km. Expect a much lower number when travelling on the open road to far away destinations as the motor comes into its own after getting up to cruising speed with the X-Tronic CVT optimising efficiency.

While the upward trend for smaller displacements coupled with forced induction dominate the more premium SUV market, what the seasoned naturally aspirated motor in the Koleos provides is robust reliability and less moving parts packaged in a quiet and relaxing driving experience. This is a strong selling point in a vehicle that should on paper be cost effective to maintain into future ownership.

While the Koleos is there or thereabouts in terms of performance when compared to chief rivals like the Volkswagen Tiguan or Toyota Rav4, where this particular drivetrain excels is cruising on the open road which is done quietly and comfortably. In fact, the entire on road experience presents any occupants with a plush and pleasant journey which is compliments of the commodious interior and smooth CVT. 

When it comes to handling and ride quality, the Koleos enters a league of its own. The steering in particular is one of the standout experiences. Feedback to the driver is an applaudable balance in directness and weight; it is not too heavy to navigate in tighter spaces at slow speed but also not too light in higher speed scenarios. 

The suspension confidently soaks up anything you throw at it too. On any road surface we presented to the sizable SUV the imperfections and dirt paths were effortlessly rebuffed by the chunky tyres and supple suspension setup at moderate speed. While it is only front wheel drive, the 210mm of ground clearance and approach and departure angles of 19˚ and 26˚ degrees respectively makes the Koleos highly capable of traversing through some minor undulating terrain or mounting urban pavements without damaging the skid plates and rugged black trim which lines the base extremities of the lengthy car. 

On the topic of length, the Koleos holds the title for the longest wheelbase in class measuring in at 2704mm. Its overall length of 4672mm also creates a generously spaced interior allowing for ample head, arm and legroom of which passengers in the second row can easily equate to the experience of a first class airline seat. 

Unlike the X-Trail derivative on which it is based, it does not have a third row of seats but its voluminous boot area is rated at 464l and can grow to an impressive 1700l with the rear seats folded down. This can be done conventionally with seat-top mounted levers or with the assistance of boot mounted levers. The electronic Powerlift tailgate when fully raised does hang too low and requires physical maneuver for the height gifted to prevent any unpleasant encounters.

When it comes to exterior updates, not much has changed other than slightly re-designed bumpers and skid plates, revised head and taillights and two tone 18” alloy wheels for the top spec model. Most of the significant improvements have been implemented into the interior and operational features.

In terms of interior technology, the Koleos is available in two trim levels – Expression and the top of the range Dynamique which we had on test. Of the two, the Dynamique is well equipped with all the niceties a family would desire for the duration of a holiday. The comfortable front row of seats are equipped with six-way power adjustment and lumbar adjustability while an easy to reach vertical 8.7” touch screen utilizes R-LINK 2 Sat Nav and Multimedia system which is also operable through a voice recognition system activated from the steering wheel.

While the user interface of the system is an improvement from before, it still doesn’t feel as modern and smooth in operation as some of its competitors. The entire infotainment display as a whole also alludes to an aging design. Smartphone replication to familiar UI’s is available through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto via cable which can be done through either USB port which is now located under the center console.

Other niceties which are standard on the Dynamique trim include dual-zone climate control, smart-keyless entry, park distance control and a reverse camera which provides good resolution for navigating the lengthy SUV in small spaces. Occupant safety and driver aids are another impressive selling point of the Koleos, the 6 airbags enable an impressive 5-star EuroNCAP crash rating while the driver has ABS/EBD, blind-spot warning, stability control and a tyre pressure monitoring system to help keep things in check. 

While the Renault Koleos may have had a hard time lamenting a formidable competition to its chief rivals before the updated model arrived, the well-specced and inexpensive pricing of the brand new Haval H6 will make it even more difficult in the future.

The Expression 2.5 CVT 4×2 model has a retail price of R484 900 while our test model, the Dynamique 2.5 CVT 4×2 will come in at R534 900. Optional metallic paint will cost a meagre R2 522 but keep an eye out for specials Renault dealerships may be running which may present a discounted price. While the Haval may have the price advantage, the additional km in the Renault 5-year/150 000km mechanical warranty and 5-year/90 000km service plan may compel reliability conscious buyers in favor of the Koleos.

So where does that leave the flagship French option? Sadly, the changes implemented to the Koleos are mostly superficial in what remains an aging option in the segment which has revolutionized at an alarming rate. It will continue to sell, albeit in smaller numbers than before as it still provides a comfortable and enjoyable experience to those that give it a chance. The expected reliability and ease of maintenance of the Koleos make it a car that has the ability to remain with those who choose it in the years to come. For consumers looking for a mid-sized family hauler that is great for open road journeys and comfortable enough for tatty urban roads, the smooth and relaxing personality of the Koleos is worth giving a chance.

Is bigger better? The new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Automotive brands are no strangers to pulling at the heartstrings of buyers. One such method is to revive a revered nameplate as a more commercially viable vehicle. The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross does exactly this. While it may have been reincarnated as a coupe SUV in 2017 to entice younger buyers who were familiar with the Eclipse of the 90’s, three years on and it has already received a facelift. The extra length and updated looks are intended to make it a more approachable option for buyers with an itch to explore. We spent a few days with it in the Lowveld to find out if the updates have allowed it to grow into what it was intended to be. 

Most of the buying demographic of a compact SUV like the Eclipse Cross are young, adventure-orientated individuals that prioritize versatility when shopping for a car. Options which do away with low profile tyres and focus more on ground clearance plays into the hand of automakers with a broad portfolio of SUVs. It is no secret that affordable sports cars and coupes are a dying breed with SUVs being at the forefront of the culling, so combining traits of both into one should be the solution to appease those who want both, right?

The Eclipse Cross could be categorized simply as a Compact Crossover SUV but Mitsubishi insist that their derivative is a coupe SUV, which is claimed to combine the best of both worlds. The intention is to morph an athletic and sporty aesthetic into a practical and usable vehicle that is not restricted by any road surface it may encounter.

The aesthetics are intended to be sporty, so both the front and rear have been significantly redesigned to encompass this methodology. The rear-end is the most significant change, it has gone under the scalpel and comes out 140mm longer than before. This not only affords bonus boot capacity but the rake of the reshaped bootlid creates a much sleeker looking design from the side profile which alludes to its supposed coupe DNA.

The Pontiak Aztek inspired split rear-screen has also been ditched for a minimal and neat LED rear tailight design that runs vertically adjacent to the rear screen. While it may not be something that Walter White would spend his money on, it does create a pleasant looking rear end that has greatly improved on its predecessor.

At first glance, the front end may seem similar from before but it has undergone a few aesthetic changes which create a much more cohesive and futuristic appeal. The imperative was to fully embrace Mitsubishi’s dynamic shield concept which is their internal design language that is intended to express powerful and dynamic design.

The split headlight configuration that is becoming more common on newer cars has been well executed on the Eclipse Cross while chrome accents frame the large plastic grille which feed into the sleek DRL’s. 

While it will always remain subjective, this is one of the more attractive offerings in comparison to its competition. The angular dynamic shield inspired front end from Mitsubishi, which is becoming a more prominent feature on their new offerings, also distinguishes the Eclipse Cross from the general monotony of the segment.

In terms of driving appeal, an SUV will always struggle to recreate the dynamics of a coupe or sportscar. While it is internally categorized by Mitsubishi as a coupe SUV, it simply lacks any true sportiness to set the world on fire. Marketing strategy and classification aside, it drives and corners very well for an SUV of its size despite its height and ground clearance of 180mm.

The front wheels are powered by one of two options, one of them being the latest turbocharged powerplant on offer by Mitsubishi; the MIVEC 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine which delivers peak performance of 110kW with 250Nm. Alternatively, the less desirable but slightly cheaper 2.0L GLS CVT 4×2 naturally aspirated derivative is equipped with 110kW of power and 198Nm of peak torque. In the solitary driving mode, both are claimed to achieve just below 8.0l/100km but our turbocharged derivative averaged 9.1/100km in extra-urban conditions while stretching its legs on the open road achieved a lower average of 7.2l/100km.

Our test car was equipped with the 1.5-litre drivetrain which is more than sufficient and undoubtedly the option you would want to drive. The power is readily available in all driving conditions and occasional but mild torque steer from full throttle pull aways can result in some unwarranted tyre shriek.

It comfortably managed with low speed, sedate urban commutes as well as comfortable open road cruising and this is credit to its transmission. As far as CVT’s go, the 8-step variation in the Eclipse Cross is the best one I have experienced so far. It is comfortable, refined and well suited to the turbocharged motor which is relaxingly quiet throughout most of the rev range. 

The chassis and suspension is more suited to the SUV side of things than anything coupe or sports car-like and that is ok since the rest of the experience inspires as much tranquility as the drivetrain does. Traversing on a multitude of surfaces including highways, rough countryside tarmac and even dirt trails exceeded comfort expectations.

The suspension confidently soaks up rough surfaces and potholed roads with very little disturbance to the cabin. Roadway noise is generally unnoticeable until speeds of 100kmh are exceeded, which even then remains ambient. 

Speaking of the cabin, it is a well laid out and comfortable place to be in – particularly from the driver’s seat. There is ample spaciousness in both rows with the driver and passenger receiving fully electric seat adjustment. The second row has angle adjustment only while isofix anchorage is concealed within the crevices of the seats. With these seats in their most upright position, the boot has a capacity of 437l while folding the 60/40 seats down allows for an impressive 1074l of cargo space. This is all without compromising on the spare wheel size but it does present a high loading lip and boot floor which is awkwardly shaped. While most new cars include many unnecessary gimmicks that add to the weight figure and price tag, the Eclipse Cross is a car that would have been well suited with an electrically operated tailgate since the redesign and sweeping profile make it heavy and difficult to interact with.

Other updates to the interior include a new 8” infotainment screen which has most of the functionality that you would expect in a new car. The overall user experience is let down by bootup latency and laggy operation but screen mirroring via USB cable is its saving grace. Once your music device is connected, the audio is projected through an impressive 8 speaker sound system which has enough bass to get the rear view mirror vibrating at full blast. The screen also projects a mediocre resolution reverse camera while park distance control is displayed on the drivers dials.

Other creature comforts for the front row include dual zone climate control with heated seats while a retractable Mitsubishi Motors Intuitive Technology (MiTEC) HUD is positioned just above the dashboard.

There are some gripes that the interior instills such as the hard to reach trip-meter buttons and a clumsy to interact with phone slot in front of the gear shifter but the worst offender of them all is the excessive use of piano black plastic and faux brushed aluminium which after a few thousand kilometers has already been tattered to the point where the car looks a decade old. That being said, there is still a premium feel within the interior, with soft touch points in every direction and a plush look dashboard.

While cheap, bottom of the barrel SUVs will continue to dominate sales charts, the more premium, value for money derivatives like the Eclipse Cross offer a more unique and high quality option that come loaded with standard features. The range starts at R459 995 for the 2.0L GLS while our top of the range test car, the 1.5L GLS comes in just shy of half a million at R499 995. Both models include 3-year/100 000km manufacturer warranty with a 5-year/90 000km service plan.

In comparison to some of its chief competitors which includes the likes of the Mazda CX-30 or Kia Seltos, the Eclipse Cross may be slightly down on tech but provides a superb ride with a high quality interior and an equally unique option in the generally monotonous looking market.

Honda’s WR-V wants a piece of the compact crossover cake

Honda recently launched their WR-V model, which wants a piece of the most competitive segment in South Africa, but is their newcomer the right car for the job? We recently got to experience the liveability of the affordable 1.2 Comfort model. 

The Tokyo-based automaker is no stranger to SUVs, with a broad range on offer from the modest BR-V to the more luxurious CR-V models – this was Honda’s induction into the world of sport utility vehicles in 1995. Suffice to say, they have an impressive history and current portfolio with extensive experience in the field, more than most of their competitors. Dinesh Govender, Honda GM states that the WR-V is positioned below the HR-V and alongside the BR-V, making it their most affordable five-seater compact SUV to date. Partly thanks to components and underpinnings being shared with the popular Jazz model.

That being said, Honda has followed the typical recipe of creating a compact SUV by taking one of their most popular, compact, FWD commuter vehicles and putting it through a stringent routine to get it buff enough to take on market leading bullies such as the dominant Ford Figo Freestyle or Renault Sandero Stepway. This, on paper at least, is a good thing – the Jazz (of which it is based) is a nippy little runabout that is comfortable and usable with a smooth drivetrain and an excess of spaciousness. 

On the outside, the silhouette remains unmistakably that of the current Jazz model with a similarly strong shoulder line feeding into the rear taillights while the rear-end exudes a similar busy-looking Asian-esque aesthetic. The extremities of the car are moulded in durable looking black plastic trim and the bottom of the front and rear bumpers feature butch looking silver diffusers. Honda is confident with the 173mm of ground clearance and short overhangs on the model since scratches and rashes on the low lying silver painted features would be visibly prominent. The front grille makes use of horizontal slats that allude to a widened track, rendering the perception of it being a capable SUV while the 16” alloy wheels finish the four corners of the car.

While this compact WR-V’s styling may not have been designed to win any beauty pageants, what it does succeed with is interior spaciousness and undeniable Honda reliability. Again, the interior arrangement is almost identical to that of its shorter Jazz sibling, with the layout of all dials, center console and vents positioned similarly. Both driver and passengers are afforded with ample leg, head and shoulder room which makes this a great option for longer journeys. 

Additionally, the ‘Magic Seat’ system makes light work of configuring the rear seats to swallow any parcels, bicycles or obscurely shaped luggage with an admirable 881 litres of cargo space once the seats have been folded into their most compact position. In a conventional configuration with 5 passengers, the boot can hold an equally suitable 363 litres, which is impressive on a sub 4-meter vehicle which has ample second row seat legroom. 

The driver dials consist of an analog rev counter and speedometer as well as a digital display with other crucial information. The Comfort model is equipped with a 5” touchscreen which has access to radio, bluetooth and the reverse camera which is quite un-useful due to its minute size. However, for what the small reverse screen fell short in displaying, the PDC equipped on the car assisted comfortably with. We would opt for the more suitably sized 7” infotainment screen found on the Elegance model. 

The WR-V range comprises two derivatives, Comfort and Elegance, both only employ the same punchy and fuel efficient 1.2-litre powertrain and five-speed manual transmission that is proven in countless other models. The ratings of 66kW and 110Nm did not struggle to move the 1081kg mass nimbly forward but the lack of a 6th gear for highway speeds impeded its comfort and efficiency at the maximum national speed limit. A combined fuel consumption figure of just 6.4 l/100km is claimed however we achieved 6.8 l/100km with our journeys being dominated by urban routes. As in the Jazz, the drive is comfortable but does not reward more exciting driving habits. 

Honda employs their tested Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure which allows for the even distribution and redirection of collision energy away from the passenger compartment in the scenario of an accident. Additionally, six SRS airbags, ISOFIX child seat anchors as well as an ABS with EBD are included as standard safety equipment across both models. 

In terms of pricing, the 1.2 Comfort model as we tested costs R 289 900 and the 1.2 Elegance coming in at R 327 300. This is unfortunately on the pricey end of the spectrum in comparison to the Ford Figo Freestyle, which tops out at R268 500 while the Renault Sandero Stepway maxes out less than both with a retail sticker of R251 900. Both models also come with Honda’s five-year/200 000km warranty, backed by a four-year/60 000km service plan.

A portion of the success of this SUV hangs on the reputation Honda have established in their extensive people carrier range. The WR-V garners inspiration from two of its best-selling siblings, the Jazz and BR-V yet the cheaper Jazz (which also includes a derivative equipped with a CVT) may still seem like the most logical option if you are looking for a reliable 5-seater that will comfortably get you from A to B.

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.

Five good and bad features on the new VW Tiguan.

The VW Tiguan came to the market with a bang. It’s sharp design, edgy looks and mini spaceship/ transformer aura caught the market’s attention.

We have a full in-depth review in our latest edition of TheMotorist Digital Magazine by Francisco, so I’m just here to tell you five things I enjoyed and found frustrating about VW’s new Tiguan.

 

The Bad Points

  • The 1.4 TSI  comfort line is a great engine, but I just feel for the Tiguan there is not enough power. 92 KWs is not much for a small SUV. The Highline engine will produce 110kw, which will definitely improve the overall drive
  • A Manual gearbox in this car isn’t for me; the clutch has very high bite point, and at first, the car can be quite awkward to drive. I also found myself dropping down a gear for more power on many occasions.
  • The side door storage has thin slots that drop right into the door, and it’s incredibly easy to lose phones and wallets in that little compartment, and tough to remove them if you have fat hands like me, you can’t get to them while driving either.
  • I found that there is a delay in the automatic boot lid when activated via the remote. When using this for the first few times,  I ended up pressing the button on the remote twice, which then causes the boot to go up and down like Nicki Minaj in any one of her music videos- I’m picky here,  but I’m struggling to find bad points
  • The Adaptive Cruise Control is a great function, but I discovered that the vehicle does take some time accelerating after a vehicle in front has moved over, it’s only 5 seconds or so, but this feels like a lifetime when half of Durban is up
 new-tiguan-static_015_1800x1800

The Good Points

  • The new Tiguan looks fantastic, and I found many people checking this car out. The previous Tiguan did not look great, and it looks like the apple fell very far away from the tree this time. There is even talk that mummy tree had an affair with Mr Oak tree across the garden because the New Tiguan is styled entirely different.
  •  The Adjustable Cruise Control I mentioned earlier allows you set distance and applies the brakes when cars pull out in front of you or traffic arises ahead. The Tiguan responded quickly when another vehicle came up head and made highway driving much easier. Usually, I don’t normally use Cruise Control because of the amount of times I have to brake and deactivate it.
  • The Active Info driving display is one of my favourite features VW provide. The dashboard is fully digital and can be adjusted to the driver’s preference in regards to what driving data is shown on the display. For example, a driver may want to view efficiency, speed and gear change indicator, tyre pressures, music, navigation and so on.
  • Price – The Tiguan I tested had the R-Line exterior package and a bunch of optional extras including premium sound, Metallic paint, Automatic boot lid, app connect, adaptive cruise control, leather seats, composition media, Panoramic sunroof, app connect and the Active Info Display, and LED headlight. You could say the car was pretty kitted out, and the price – R419000. Personally, I feel you get a lot of car for that price.
  • I put the 1.4 TSI engine in the bad list, but its small size and performance also have benefits. For example, if you are a soccer mum (or dad). The 1.4 is a great engine for running around in, while also providing decent fuel economy. I would enjoy it more if mounted to a DSG box.

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So that is just some of the things I liked and didn’t like about the new VW Tiguan, overall it’s a fantastic car, which will only be made better with 2.0 petrol and Diesel variants. For in-depth driving and lifestyle reviews, check out our digital magazine here. 

 

Grown up yet young at heart: Audi’s new Q7 driven.

Slimmer, smarter and better.

Getting older is a funny and weird thing. You start to notice changes in not only how you view the world but also, how you use it. Not only do I not drink beer any more (let’s be completely honest, it doesn’t taste nice and most of us drink it to fit in) but my choice in cars has swayed a bit too. Not only do I look at performance and how the car makes me feel, but I find myself looking at the boot space of a car and asking my wife strange questions like, “do you think a pram will fit in the boot?” and “does it come standard with ISOFIX” I mean ISOFIX, really!?

This was worsened when we had the new Audi Q7 on test. To be honest, when our editor said, “you need to drive this car!” I was a little taken back by just looking at it. The previous Q7 had left me feeling underwhelmed and it was just too big. Sure it could do what the other SUV’s could, but in my opinion it wasn’t as refined as its competitors, and it felt dated too.

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So off I went, leaving my BMW 435i in the basement and into the boxier new Q7. Man, was I surprised. What immediately struck me were the proportions of the car. Yes it’s big, but the car seems to have shrunk from its predecessor. Visually, it’s sleek and understated, it also has those lovely day time running lights due to the optional Matrix headlights that seem to have been taken straight out of the movie Tron. I walked around the new Q7 and felt like Joey from the sitcom Friends as I asked the car “How you doin?” (If you don’t get that joke, you’re too young.)

The surprises kept on coming as I got more acquainted with the car. The premium interior trim, long dashboard, ease of controls and most importantly, Audi’s biggest party trick the Virtual Cockpit all impressed me. Despite all of this I was still sceptical because I still remember how the old girl drove, surely it’s still a tank that’s an absolute mess to park? Wrong again Richard.

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This latest model, with its 3.0 TDI producing 185kW and 600Nm, made me think of the “as smooth as a hot knife through butter” cliché. It glides and gets up to speed very quickly. After a few hours, I didn’t miss my 225kW daily drive at all. There are some back roads on my adventurous route home and I decided this was going to be a good challenge for the new Q7. I dove in aggressively to the first of many sharp corners and the steering feedback as well as the suspension setup surely hides the cars’ weight and it proceeded to devour the bends in a way a 4×4 shouldn’t. It seemed to look back at me and say, “is that all you’ve got?” All of this is due to the lower centre of gravity on the new Q7 compared to the previous car, as well as a weight reduction of 325 kilograms.

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Another test was the “wife test”, since most wife’s have the biggest influence in car choices. So I picked up my wife and found an excuse for us to go out for dinner and I pleasantly found out that I wasn’t the only one to be bitten by the Q7 bug. The feature that she liked the most? The fact that the car does not feel big inside and is therefore not intimidating to drive or to be a passenger in. What didn’t she like? The fact that new Q7 didn’t look as exciting as other SUV’s on the road, something we agreed to disagree on. So the car had so far passed some key tests.

To say I was impressed by the new Q7 is an understatement. My current favourite SUV was the not so new Range Rover Sport TDV6, but this new Q7 I found was more exciting and dynamic. I’m glad that the ugly duckling now has a chance of becoming the “prom queen”, but we can’t give it the crown until we drive the new Volvo XC90, a car that is the current SA Car of the Year. That being said, the new Q7 is better at everything than the car it replaces and yes it can fit a pram in the boot and it does have ISOFIX. The good thing is that despite it making me indulge in my mature desires even more, it still made me feel young. Which is a lot to say for a car intended for families. Starting at R907 000, it’s competitively priced in its segment too.