Tag: TheMotorist

We Drive the New Ford EcoSport

Ford EcoSport

New Ford EcoSport Driven

What’s in a name, I mean, people have all sorts of interesting names these days and gone are the good old days of a ‘proper Christian name.’ The same can be said for cars with absurdities such as ‘Qashqai’ and ‘Superfast’ springing to mind. Imagine humans were named in the same vein as Ferrari’s – “Meet my son, Superfreckly and my daughter, Mediumround.”

 

Mind you, at least we know that the Superfast is indeed super-fast and that a 5 Series is larger than a 3 Series, yet smaller than a 7.  What a time to be alive.

Enter Fords economical and sporty EcoSport. It’s not what you might think, though – the ‘Sport’ in EcoSport suggests a more ‘sporty’ lifestyle as opposed to track day toy, but we already knew that.

Ford EcoSport

The Ford EcoSport has been a hot seller in South Africa since its initial release in May 2013 and now having received its third and most significant update, promises to continue its streak of strong sales. The numbers speak for themselves with the Ford EcoSport accounting for as much as 14% of Ford sales in South Africa. It also leads in its segment making up for 38% of its segment, down from 49% initially. In short, the EcoSport is popular in our market so there’s no doubt that the improved design, quality and safety of this vehicle will stand it in good stead.

Design wise, the most notable differences can be seen at the front of the vehicle and in the cabin. The new hood with power dome sits above a new and distinctively Ford grille and the standard HID headlamps with LED daytime running lights (Trend and Titanium models only) contribute to more premium look up font. New colours and alloy wheel options are available, too.

Having received quite the revamp, the cabin of the new EcoSport really is a lovely place to be. New instrument clusters, SYNC screen options and a new steering wheel with standard paddle shifters (on auto models sit amongst other updates such as new interior materials, a completely redesigned instrument panel, newly designed climate control console and ambient lighting below the instrument panel.

Both petrol and diesel variants are available, however the diesel is only available in base Ambiente guise. This is because in this segment, petrol is still king and as a result, the Ford EcoSport’s line-up reflects that.

Ford’s tried, tested and triumphant 1.0-litre EcoBoost motor does service in the petrol model and having won Engine of the Year 6 times, that’s a good thing. It provides punchy low down torque and always feels eager to get going, yet returns an impressive claimed 5.4 l/100km. Figures of 92 kW and 170 N.m are more than ample and the petrol motors have been paired wonderfully with either a 6-speed manual or all-new 6-speed automatic transmissions.

For those who still insist on a bit of oil burning, the Ambiente model is only available with Ford’s 1.5-litre TDCi motor, mated to a 5-speed manual with figures of 74 kW, 205 N.m and claimed 4.6 l/100km.

Safety wise, all vehicles benefit from the usual array of standard safety equipment such as ABS, EBA and ESC. Dual front, side and curtain airbags are standard across the range with Trend and Titanium models receiving a driver’s knee airbag too.

In terms of spec, the whole range is pretty sorted. Ambiente models receive SYNC 1 with Bluetooth and voice control, electric windows all-round, steering wheel audio controls, Ford audio with 6 speakers and 2 USB ports, rear PDC, rear fog lamp, remote central locking, a trip computer and 16” steel wheels with covers.

 

In addition to this, Trend models receive a black grille with upper chrome, roof rails, body colour mirrors and door handles, SYNC 3 with 6.5” Touchscreen, LED daytime running lights, 16” alloy wheels, front and rear fog lamps, Hill Launch Assist, Roll Stability Control, Tyre Pressure Monitoring, and a leather gear knob and steering wheel.

In addition to all of that, Titanium models come specced to the hilt with silver roof rails, lower body cladding in black with chrome inserts, power adjustable folding exterior mirrors with puddle lamps, 17” alloy wheels, auto headlamps, rain sensing wipers, Keyless start, cruise control with adjustable speed limiter, electronic climate control, SYNC 3 with 8” touchscreen with navigation, Ford Audio with 7 high-end speakers, centre console with covered bin and sliding armrest and ambient lighting.

To wrap this up, Ford have taken what was already a popular and capable lifestyle vehicle and given it the updates needed to keep it fresh for the next while. The EcoSport is refined, fun to drive, practical and well put together, well equipped and now with its new face, handsome too.

Ford EcoSport Pricing in South Africa

Pricing starts at R264 500 for the 1.5 TDCi Ambiente manual and stretches to R339 900 for the 1.0 Ecoboost Titanium automatic.

All vehicles come standard with Ford Protect’s comprehensive 4 years/120 000km warranty, 5 years/unlimited km corrosion warranty, 3 years/unlimited km roadside assistance and 4 years/60 000km service plan. Service intervals are 15 000km.

 

New Mercedes-AMG C43

Mercedes-AMG

New Mercedes-AMG C43 First Drive

For those not in the know, the Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-Benz range can become quite confusing. Walk into a dealership and ask for a “fast Mercedes” and you will most likely find yourself presented with a myriad of models and a vast range of numbers – such as 65, 63, 53, 45 and 43. Fortunately, it’s articles like these that’ll hopefully provide a little insight – so that if you do go looking for a “fast Mercedes”, you’ll have done the math and know which number you’re looking for. Or at least have an idea.

Mercedes-AMG C43

 

Today we’re talking about the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class. It’s a facelift, so it’s not entirely a new vehicle, but they call it new – so let’s roll with it. To start the launch off, we embarked into some countryside areas around the outskirts of JHB, to sample these new models in a quiet setting. The model I focused on was the C43, naturally.

The 43 range offers a 3.0l V6 Twin Scroll Turbo, which produces 290kW and 520 Nm – reaching 100km/h in approximately 4.7 seconds. Driving not only a C43, but the “43” motor in general, was a first-time affair for me. While this vehicle could be classed as a “baby” AMG when compared with the mighty C63, it certainly doesn’t sound like it. In a good way.

This V6 purrs like a Cheetah being scratched by a very large garden rake. Again, in a good way. There was never really a time when I wanted to turn the Active Exhausts off, as chasing this noise through the higher rpm range through a total of 9 gears was becoming just short of addictive. Plus, it’s also slightly quieter than its V8 older brother, so when pottering around town you can leave the active pipes on and not get a headache. Do I prefer it? I haven’t yet decided.

Mercedes-AMG C43

While I could bark on about this all day, it’s time to discuss some of the new features found on the C-Class in general. While snapping at the gears and chasing that sweet V6 sound, you’ll find yourself holding onto a new steering wheel – one which was first found on the S Class and E Class. I love the finish, styling and premium feel it gives you, as it features metal, leather and these hi-tech thumb touch-pads for scrolling through various menus on the digital display. It’s also a standard feature across the whole range, not just the AMG models.

Turn you attention to the fascia and you will also notice the new 12.3-inch instrument cluster. As common as they are becoming on new premium vehicles, each manufacturer has their own take on these digital consoles. Through this system, the driver can browse and adjust most settings and features on the vehicle. AMG variants provide a striking yellow design with a layout that simulates the classic round dials that we all know and love. The display can show you pretty much anything the heart desires regarding the vehicle and while live tyre pressure and the ambient temperature is…cool? Viewing live power, torque and boost levels were something that interested me more.

Mercedes-AMG C43

From the outside, a new redesigned front bumper and diamond grille differentiate the C43 compared to other models. The new 84 LED multi-beam headlights add subtle changes too. With the option of the Ultra Range system, these provide light for up to 650m and also feature the blanking out technology which means Hi-Beam can be selected all the time without dazzling other road users. New tail-lights are also apparent, as well as various rear bumper designs – depending on the package you select.

So, what’s it like then driving the face-lifted C43? Apparently, it’s just like the pre-facelift variant, only prettier and faster. Even though it’s an “AMG”, the vehicle is pretty comfortable when the driving modes are relaxed and set to comfort, dial in the sport modes and the C43 comes alive and provides the sharp AMG driving feel. There is more power on tap, which means the trees blur quicker on a straight line. The car still features Mercedes’s 4Matic system but this time sending 69% of the power to the rear wheels which improve the vehicle dynamically. This provides a nice balance as the power is still accessible all the time, unlike it’s older brother the C63, which likes to wiggle around corners. This is actually a good thing, because only those who know how to do the “AMG dance” should try going toe to toe with one, should they be brave enough. The C43 then is the safe bet among the fast C-Class variants, so if you want to just get on it, this may be the one you should ask for at a dealership.

The new Mercedes-AMG C43 Vehicle Pricing in South Africa:

Sedan                       Coupe                                  Cabriolet

R948,500                  R983,500                             R1,100,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Another Mad McLaren! Meet the McLaren 600LT

McLaren 600LT

Another Mad McLaren. Meet the 600LT.

If you are anything like me, you probably had serious FOMO over the past few days, as your Instagram feed was filled with images and videos of the McLaren Senna – being driven around the Estoril race track for the launch in Portugal. And what a car it is, some say its ugly, but I say its capabilities make it beautiful. We are not here to talk about the Senna however, we are here to talk about the latest model to McLarens Sports Series range – the McLaren 600LT.

At first glance, your mind may fill you with images of the 570s and tell you that this vehicle looks remarkability similar to it. It does, until you start to stare and not simply glance. You see, LT stands for Longtail, and this is the fourth McLaren in history to feature this iconic name. What is a Longtail all about? Better aerodynamics, increased power, reduced weight, track-focused dynamics and enhanced driver engagement.

McLaren 600LT

While based on a 570S Coupe, the 600LT is 74mm longer and a staggering 96kg lighter. Weight reduction is achieved through carbon-fibre racing seats and carbon-fibre bodywork, even the unique top-exit exhausts offer a substantial weight saving. Let’s talk about the good stuff, 441kW and 620Nm from the 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine. This increased power output coupled with the weight saving and uprated aerodynamics go hand in hand with forged aluminium double-wishbone suspension, a lightweight braking system, bespoke track-focused Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres and quicker steering and throttle response setup.

McLaren 600LT

The McLaren 600LT on paper should deliver a fantastic driving experience on and off the racetrack, which is in essence what a LT is all about. Let’s just take a moment to admire the top-exit exhaust system…

McLaren 600LT

McLaren 600LT Pricing in South Africa.

Each and every 600LT will be hand built in the UK, while volume will also be strictly limited. Production will begin in October 2018 and last for around 12 months. Pricing is from £185, 500 – which at the time of writing converts to R3,3 Million.

 

 

 

 

Does the New Polo GTI mean the Golf is now obsolete?

New Polo GTI

Does the new Volkswagen Polo GTI replace the Golf?

So the new Volkswagen Polo GTI has a 2.0 –liter engine bru? It’s bigger man? So why then do I need to buy a Golf GTI?

Polo GTI

These are the types of questions that have been drummed in my ears every time the new Polo GTI comes up in conversation, and while many may think the new Polo GTI makes the Golf obsolete, it doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, the Polo GTI has come along way, it’s more refined, faster, produces more power, even better in the corners and cheaper than the model it replaces. Yet it’s still not a Golf, and that isn’t a chirp either…

You see, after Francisco and I spent the weekend in Cape Town with the GTI siblings, while chopping and changing vehicles and destinations, we really experienced what each model had to offer.

For example, jump from the Golf into the Polo and you will instantly notice a difference in build quality. A Golf feels sturdier, stronger and safer, while the interior trim has a certain solidness to it. However, when reversing the order, the younger brother highlights a sense of fun and nimbleness which isn’t as present in Golf GTI.  Added to this, the XDS differential which is fitted as standard and was originally found on the Clubsport, really does make it a treat in the bends.

So why would you spend the extra R172K on a Golf GTI. Well if you have a family the extra space is a gold mine, you will probably favour the added luxury and features too while knowing you have chosen a vehicle with more presence and solidness. It also produces more power and feels slightly more exhilarating in a straight line while quite frankly being more “grown-up”.

But, if you don’t have a family, are a young professional and looking to fly high on your way to work and fly off Chapman’s peak on the weekends (the XDS might save you), the Polo GTI takes the cake. It’s less of a car because you don’t need more, it’s extremely fun to drive and has a bunch of laka tech.

It’s quite simple really, ask yourself how many kids you have and use this simple formula.

  1. 0 kids = Polo GTI.
  2. 1-3 kids = Golf GTI.
  3. 3+ kids = You are reading the wrong article. Try here: Tiguan Allspace

Yes, if you’re a family man looking for a visceral GTI experience then you most likely already have the answer. For me, I’m rocking the Polo GTI, and my wife and I can roll around looking too cool for the school run.

New VW Polo GTI Pricing in South Africa

Polo GTI: R375,900

As standard, a decent spec is on offer which includes items such as Leather Multifunction Steering Wheel, Front fog lamps, Rest Assist, Composition Media with iPod/iPhone Interface, App-Connect, 2 USB Interfaces, Cruise Control.

For just over R400,000 you can have a very nicely specced Polo GTI.

Get speccing: https://www.vw.co.za/app/configurator/vw-za/en

 

 

 

Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S

Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S

Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S Driven

A mid-sized family orientated SUV with 375kW and 700Nm may sound quite preposterous, in fact, it can be likened to those superhuman toddler gymnasts you see on YouTube. At the age of four, their biceps are bigger than their little heads, causing you to ask, “why?”

Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S

Many may ask the same question when it comes to the new Mercedes AMG GLC 63 S. Personally, I didn’t ask why when learning about this car, because I’m a fan of speed and power in any shape or size. I can imagine many motorists share the same sentiments as me as well. What may seem like just a statement from Merc, is actually more than that, it’s a shift based on consumer behaviour. The reality is that many consumers who drive sedans are now changing their buying behaviour toward SUV’s, such as the GLC. Reasons such as safety, size and presence are all factors leading to this change. Then there are those who drive the performance variants of popular sedans, such as the burbling Mercedes AMG C63 or BMW’s M3. These guys need a replacement for the performance they’re used to, if they decide to do the SUV jump. The new GLC 63 S seems to be an answer, but can it provide the same thrills? Can an SUV provide as much fun, performance and driving experience as a sedan AMG, such as the C63 S? Let’s find out…

An early flight navigated me from Durban to Lanseria, where we jumped into a van and arrived at Zwartkops Raceway, which would be the base for our testing. The first few hours including a high speed “brake and steer” test, a slalom and drag races. While all this is was fun, it also showed us what we could expect from the GLC 63 S, when we would begin our full laps. Not only that, it showed us how much confidence Mercedes-Benz has in their vehicle. For example, our slalom runs started with ESP on, as we progressed we eventually were encouraged to switch of the car’s ESP system, allowing us to feel how the limited slip differential works when the vehicle is unencumbered by the safety systems.

Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S

It’s worth noting, the ESP system on the GLC 63 S is very sensitive, with good reason too – it’s still a family car. One with a lot of power. This vehicle also carries quite a bit of weight. In the wrong hands, it could lead to some not so desirable outcomes should an overenthusiastic overcook it. Back to the story.

So here we are, on the track and ready for some laps. We started with ESP on and gradually went through the modes until everything was off. Not half off, but “off off off” as we call it in the office. As you can imagine, with ESP in full force, throttle output is easily hampered coming out of corners, especially when power was applied sharply. From a safety perspective, it made sense but on a track, it can be annoying. Which sounds like a pointless statement because a track day in a GLC 63 S is more a treat for journalists, as opposed to a reality for an owner. Sport, Sport + and Race modes were also tested, which give you more freedom, more slip and more AMG noise on each mode – which by the way is fantastic. AMG have a whole division focused on exhaust sound – a great division if you ask me. I digress however…After a few laps toggling between various modes and even with ESP off, I became very frustrated with my track experience.  I wasn’t getting what I expected out of the vehicle and quite frankly, I was unhappy with my laps. At each apex, when I wanted to power out of the corner, the car was cutting power quite abruptly – arrghh. This is not what I expected from a car that uses the 4Matic + system, the same one that is in the highly regarded Mercedes AMG E63 S, less the drift mode.

All is not lost.

On our slow down lap, I discussed with Francisco and the AMG Driving instructor. I explained that perhaps my driving style is wrong for this extremely powerful SUV. The instructor agreed and like a good coach during half time in a bag game, he gave me a few pointers to get the most out of a car of this size. So, after pumping myself up, we headed back onto the track. The aim? Turning in later, getting more steering into the corner before the apex, allowing me to unwind the lock before accelerating out of the corner.  This would allow the GLC to not panic, causing the “fail safe” safety systems to activate even when they’re meant to be off off off. Again, a necessary measure for a family SUV.

Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S

The result? Pretty brilliant. The limited-slip diff worked well, sending power to the front when needed and pulling the GLC out of corners. After the little teething issues we began with, due to my driving style, the vehicle became the dynamic, fast and precise track weapon I wanted it to be. Not the words you expect to hear about an SUV – Merc is onto something with this setup.

So can an AMG SUV provide as much fun, performance and driving experience as a sedan variant, such as C63 S? Well, regarding performance,  the head of the AMG driving academy told us that he could probably set similar laps times in the AMG GLC 63 S as he would in an AMG GT S, which is quite the statement to make. The question of fun and driving experience still needs to be answered however. I may be a young journalist, but over the past few years I’ve done my fair share of driving on and off the track. Honestly, driving the AMG GLC 63 S fast around a racetrack was one the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had to date. You may not be able to do tyre smoking drift sessions in the car, but the reality is even most who own C63 S’s can’t either – even though their vehicles can. So there’s not much to miss in that department. That being said, the GLC does allow for a fair bit of a movement, since it sends its power mostly to the rear tyres.

Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S

I probably enjoyed this track experience as much as I did, because I wasn’t really expecting the car to be as good as they say it is, it is an SUV after all. Or perhaps it was due to the fact that I had to work harder for cleaner laps. Either way, it was exhilarating and a good glimpse of the future of smaller performance SUV’s.

Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S Pricing in South Africa

Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S SUV: R1 572 602

Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S Coupe: R1 689 067

 

 

 

The Forest Whitaker of SUV’s – Land Rover Discovery Driven

Land Rover Discovery

New Land Drover Discovery Driven

There is much in common with the new Land Rover Discovery and Forest Whitaker. Well, the most obvious being the name Forest and the Discovery’s ability to traverse through forests with ease. Forest, as we all know is a phenomenal actor. Accolades such as an Academy award, a BAFTA, Golden Globe and more prove this. The same goes for the Land Rover Discovery. For years it’s won awards from various institutions. Whether it’s off-roading or for just being a good overall vehicle, the Discovery is a staple for those with adventure on their sights. Family appeal is something both Forest and the Discovery have in common, as he has four children – making the Discovery a perfect vehicle to fit them all in. The last attribute applies specifically to the All New Discovery, but we’ll talk about that just now.

Land Rover Discovery

Fixing what wasn’t broken.

Creating a new land Rover Discovery is not an easy thing to do, since the vehicle has a cult following. Generally, when this is the case, its fans don’t like too much change. From the original 1989 vehicle, to the fourth generation, the Discovery shared the same DNA, similar to how the Porsche 911 has kept the same lines. For the 5th generation, what did Land Rover do? They took the old Discovery and burned the designs. Square has been replaced with round. Hardcore has been substituted for soft. The result is a vehicle that has caused jaws to drop, some in a good way and others in a bad way. Honestly, I feel the new Discovery’s design success is very spec based. With the right wheels, the right line package and even the right colour choice, can mean the difference between a great looking Discovery and a weird looking Discovery.

Stepping inside a new Land Rover Discovery is our favourite aspect of the vehicle. Are we in a lounge? Is this a house? Truthfully speaking, being a 5ft7 male and driving this car, made me feel like a child in the driver’s seats. The sheer mass of the vehicle is noticeable. For those with procreation on their minds, like Mr. Whitaker – look no further. Unlike its rivals, the Discovery is not a very dynamic vehicle. You can feel its size in the corners, understandably so. Expecting this car to feel like it’s Range Rover siblings would be too much of an ask. Rather, comfort is where this vehicle outshines many. It’s ability to lock in the tar and go on and on and on is very impressive. Everything about this car screams “road trip”. Countless storage spaces in the cabin, comfortable seats and a third bench that can accommodate adults are some of the key features that make you want to go far in this vehicle.

Land Rover Discovery

 

The model we drove was the HSE Luxury which basically means it’s the fancy one. That fanciness does give you larger wheels, navigation, 3 zone climate control, extended leather package, surround camera, keyless entry and more as standard. Most importantly, the new Discovery comes chock full of safety equipment, a prerequisite of any vehicle in this league. Technology is something the car boasts and we loved demonstrating some aspect of it to inquisitive neighbours. One of those features was the electrically adjustable seats. At the rear of the vehicle, you’re able to adjust all five rear seats – laying some or all flat if need be, with a button. This can also be operated through an app, which allows you to control the seats from your phone.

Powering this vehicle is a 190kW/600N.m 3.0 diesel engine which uses an 8-speed automatic gearbox. This engine does well considering that the Discovery weighs around 3 tonnes. At times, it does feel like the vehicle is taking its time to get going but once it gets going, it does a fine job at maintaining that speed, especially on the highway.

The daily commute in a vehicle of this size may take some time to get used to if you’re coming from a standard sized SUV. Once you get the dimensions right, however, it gets easier and easier. Overall, the Discovery does well in the city but felt lonely to drive for someone like me who has no wife or kids. Those with family will enjoy not hearing the kids scream “stop touching me” as they’ll have more than enough space to themselves.

The final Forest feature.

So, what’s the last Forest Whitaker quality this car possesses? Well, one thing no one can dispute is Forests abilities, but watching him on screen can be distracting at times. Why? Because he has a noticeably droopy eye. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. The Land Rover Discovery shares a similar trait with its rear number plate positioning. The number plate holder is positioned to the left of the boot, which doesn’t look right. It’s something that cannot be unseen and is arguably the most annoying feature of the car. Unlike Forest, who was born like that, surely the LR designers must’ve felt that their internal symmetry gauges were beeping when signing that design off? Every Land Rover has indeed had an off-set number plate, but it was built for a square number plate. In the new Discovery, the number plate is horizontal and as a result just looks wrong. If there was one thing I’d change about the car, it would be that. I guess if Forest wanted to, he too could go for an eye lift, but he’s comfortable enough to not be phased by other’s opinions of him. Perhaps Land Rover feel the same way. They know their car is good, all we need to do is learn to deal with it…

The Kevin Hart of BMW’s – M240i Driven

BMW M4240i

BMW M240i – The Kevin Hart of BMW’s

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

BMW M240i

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

BMW M240i

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

BMW M240i

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