Tag: VW

Can the BMW 128ti usurp the Golf GTI from its throne?

We compare the facts and figures! 

We recently drove the new 128ti on its debut in Mzanzi towards the end of February, read about its road test here: https://themotorist.co.za/is-the-new-bmw-128ti-the-right-1/. Since BMW recently launched their new 1 series (F40 generation) hatchback in 2019 there has been speculation of a variant that would rival the likes of the local hot-hatch king: the Golf 8 GTI (which was locally delayed to the third quarter of 2021 because of a global shortage of semiconductor chips). The new Front Wheel Drive 128ti is what they brought to the party, but how does it stack up against the formidable GTI? 

The highly anticipated M135i was seemingly a bit of a let down to the automotive press (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Rkco-o600g), leaving much to be desired from its predecessor. However the 2-litre 4 pot 128ti could be the right variation for Bavarian die hards wanting a fun, affordable hatchback. While it rejects the norms of BMW’s typical hatch lineage, none of its forerunners have ever embraced the true recipe for a funky hot hatch, until now. That being said, any brand that spends time and budget developing an FWD hot hatch will stack it up directly against the GTI in the hopes of being a worthy adversary, so how does the BMW do:

BMW 128ti

2.0T 4cyl turbo, 195kW and 400Nm

0-100 6.3 seconds (claimed), 250km/h (limited)

5.7l/100km, 158g/km

1445kg

FWD, 8 speed automatic

R687 418

VW Golf 8 GTI DSG

2.0T 4cyl turbo, 180kW and 370Nm

0-100 6.4 seconds (claimed), 250km/h (limited)

6.2l/100km, 168g/km

1463kg

FWD, 7 speed dual clutch automatic

Pricing is TBC

While the numbers marginally favour the Bavarian hot hatch (on paper at least), the GTI will continue to enjoy its cult status in our local market. While we are yet to test the new Golf 8 which is expected to arrive very soon, our opinion is that the BMW may just be a more engaging and complete package to drive for enthusiasts. It is lighter, slightly more powerful and makes use of an engaging mechanical diff. Both are well specced with standard equipment already included at their base price points and both have top speeds limited at 250km/h. VW’s desirable cult following of this segment are where BMW would have fallen short, but shrewdly instilled a form of heritage by reinvigorating the Turismo Internazionale (TI) nameplate that was so prominent with the brands success in the late 1960’s.

BMW has taken a stride into a new direction with the 128ti, and by doing so they have leapfrogged some of the competition in the front-wheel drive hot hatch market. Until we can make direct comparisons between the two, we believe the GTI may have met its German match.

You think you’re a good driver? Think again…

The reality of working as a motoring journalist means that our bums are in the seats of multiple cars quite often. Everything from the everyday runabouts to high performance exotica. Most of us also have a number laps under our belt at many local circuits when a manufacturer had hosted us for a product launch.

And throughout the years, I’ve often thought of myself as a good driver as I’ve at least managed to maintain a clean record – apart from the infrequent and shamable rim scuff. However, I’ve never had a certificate with my name saying I’ve completed an advanced drivers course – which you can submit to your insurance and you should receive a discount. Tell them I sent you!

So when Volkswagen South Africa offered us a chance to complete the high performance driving course, I simply could not refuse!
Volkswagen Advanced Driving is located at Zwartkops Raceway in Gauteng. They recently moved into new facilities on the track which boasts multiple stories, a shop and of course some serious eye-candy!
What you’re looking at is the Golf 8 GTI GTC which was purpose built to compete in the Global Touring Car Championship. In fact, it was the first-ever race car built on the 8th generation Golf. Figures of 370kW and 600Nm are potent! We have racing in our blood!

Volkswagen Advanced Driving offers many courses, from an anti-hijacking course to an off-roading course with the mighty Amarok. Although we are here to experience the high performance variety, the overall message is of course safety. The purpose of this is to not make you a faster driver, but rather a more skilled and confident driver that understands the systems fitted to their cars.

The morning began with a theory lesson as a precursor to our time on the skidpan. Here you are taught everything from grip, road conditions and how each system fitted to the car actually works. It was very insightful and imperative to understanding and controlling the car on the skidpan.

Volkswagen makes use of their Golf GTI and R models for the high performance course. Figures of 169kW and 350Nm for the front-wheel drive GTI and 228kW and 400Nm from the all-wheel drive R model are more than enough to get your adrenaline sky high around the skidpan. We were in the Golf R for the entire duration of the day.

Soon enough, we made our way down to the skipan where our main focus was understanding the differences between braking using the anti-lock braking system (ABS) and then trying not to engage the system through hard braking. The point of this is to teach you how to articulate the brake pedal to stop in the same distance as if you had used ABS – meaning you are more in control in scenarios where you need to suddenly come to a stop.

The next important lesson involved teaching us how the car will react to sudden and sharp turns on the steering wheel. The goal here is to do the manoeuvre as smoothly and gently as possible while trying to bring the car back in line after the turn.
We reached a speed of 70km/h before we were instructed to either sharply turn left or right. Our first run involved a scenario where you would violently tug at the wheel and consequently the car would get extremely out of shape. Nearing almost a 90° rotation before the traction control and other systems kicked in to bring it back in line. Clearly not the right way to do it.

The second run we were instructed to do the same turn, at the same speed, but to turn the steering wheel with similar urgency but smoother and with a deft touch. The differences were remarkable! The Golf R has the ability to send power and brake any wheel while losing traction to stabilize the car. This meant that we always remained composed and I was able to safely, and less dramatically, bring myself back in line. In traffic situations, that’s the difference between life and death.

So, now that we know how to correctly steer and stop a car, our instructors felt brave enough to let us out onto the track.
Zwartkops Raceway boasts 8 corners and total circuit length of 2.4km. We were given a briefing about each corner of the track and the importance of your entry and exit line and how that will effect your braking and speed.

With all that out of the way, we were given 4 sessions consisting of 2 laps each. While the instructor does have to be in the car with you, masks are worn all the times and strict Covid-19 protocols are followed.

This was a true test of what we had learnt on the skidpan as now you don’t have the safety of water and open space. Here you’re carrying much greater speed on a track with other drivers. In other words, this was the most exhilarating part of it all!
You need to be aware of your speed, the correct racing line, braking and accelerating points. With the instructor by your side, your confidence begins to soar as he guides you around the circuit, making sure you hit every apex and you are safe at all times. At some point, I felt I could challenge the greats like Mike Briggs and Tschops Sipuka! Yeah, not really but my aspirations to become motorsport super star died many moons ago.

After a full day on the track, myself and many others who attended the course left with massive smiles on our faces and hopefully we will be safer and more confident drivers on the roads too. Pricing is very reasonable with the GTI course costing R4150 and if you want to the more powerful R model, it’s just R500 more at R4550. Seeming you get a full lunch, an enthusiastic and highly skilled advanced driving team and memories that will last a life time, it’s well worth it!
Head over to www.vw.co.za/en/volkswagen-experience/driving-academy.html to find out more.

All You Need To Know About The New Volkswagen Tiguan

Excited about the announcement of the Golf GTI? Well, you should be excited about the new Tiguan too!

Launched back in 2008, the Tiguan nameplate has gone through multiple lifecycles – with some updates more significant than others. It has, however, been a firm favourite in Mzansi and Volkswagen hopes their new Tiguan will continue that success with new tech and a sharper design. 

The exterior includes a redesigned front bumper with wider headlamps which intersect the top grille creating an elongated front appearance. The Tiguan also includes IQ.LIGHT, a matrix of 22 individual LEDs per lamp which are claimed to enhance night-driving visibility. While the overall silhouette remains identical, the rear-end features a larger Tiguan badge placed centrally below the VW emblem. The Tiguan can be specced in a selection of new exterior metallic colours including Ginger Brown, Kings Red, Lapiz Blue, Night Shade Blue and Dolphin Grey.

On the inside, drivers are afforded with a refined cabin which includes a sleek steering wheel with new touch controls. The touch operated clusters have also replaced the previous variants physical climate control knobs with touch operated sliders and buttons. This new look Tiguan will also include an optional Harmon Kardon sound system for the first time, using a 16-channel amplifier, eight speakers and a subwoofer. Driver assistants will include Lane Change Assist, Side Assist and Emergency Braking with Front Assist. 

It will be available in three derivatives, the Tiguan, the Tiguan Life and the Tiguan R-Line. The base model will include 17” alloy wheels, LED headlamps, leather multi-function steering wheel, cruise control and the new eight speaker MIB3 Infotainment system’s Composition radio. The mid range Life model will include 18” alloys, cornering lights, Climatronic air conditioning, Park Distance Control in the front and rear as well as an electric tailgate in addition to the standard features. The highest spec Tiguan R-Line includes an aggressive exterior package, 19” alloy wheels and R-labelled leather seats. Both Life and R-Line derivatives have a small selection of alloy wheel designs to choose from as optional extras. 

Other optional extras include a panoramic sunroof, trailer hitch, exterior Black Style Package, Heads-up display and Trailer Manoeuvring System which includes Park Assist among many others. 

Powering the range is a 1.4TSI rated at 110kW mated to a 6-speed DSG gearbox while a 2.0TSI with 162kW and 350Nm includes the 7-speed DSG. For the fuel-conscious, a 7-speed DSG 2.0TDI rated at 130kW can achieve efficiency as low as 5l/100km in economy mode. 

The new German manufactured Volkswagen Tiguan, will be available to our local market from Q3 of this year with pricing to be confirmed closer to its release.

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.

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

 

 

 

Viva La Vivo – We Drive Volkswagen’s latest Polo Vivo

New Polo Vivo Driven

Go to any city or town in South Africa and get a sense of the people, places and cultures, it will soon become very obvious that the place in which we live is unique. While doing this,  you will most definitely spot a VW Polo Vivo in the background – another one of South Africa’s unique flavours.

Nando’s chicken is a perfect example. Those new to the spicy chicken brand can opt for the lemon and herb flavour, allowing them to get a feel for the food and sit in the restaurant and take in the vibe.  Similarly, Volkswagen have targeted the Vivo for those new on the roads, it may not offer all the spice a Polo or Golf may offer, but it’s a great starting point that gets you from A to B, while being trendy in the process. In a country like ours to the Vivo makes sense, especially for city dwellers who need something small, but comfortable enough for a weekend away. Speaking of weekends away, I headed down the coast to sample the latest flavour – the new Polo Vivo.

 

A swift flight down the coast landed us in the home of VW Port Elizabeth, where we would take a beautiful coastal drive to “Plett” in the Polo Vivo. While this car is based on the previous generation Polo, changes to the front lights and grille, as well as a sprucing to the rear lights are just one of the reasons why the new Polo Vivo is an attractive option.

Volkswagen also offer a new version of the flagship Polo Vivo as well, which goes by the name Polo Vivo GT. If looking cool is your aim and standing out is your game, the Polo Vivo GT will have you covered. Better styling and the latest 1.0 3-cylinder engine, makes it the pick of the bunch. Inside you will find an 8-inch infotainment system which will keep your varsity friends impressed, especially as it features App Connect, or in other words Apple CarPlay. If there is one feature vehicles aimed at the youth must have, it’s this. Thankfully, the GT doesn’t just look the part, it drives it too. The 81kW on offer provides “pokey” performance that will impress bae, while covering your pocket with reasonable fuel bills.

Our road trip only got better as we enjoyed the beautiful scenery provided the Tsitsikamma region – a personal favorite location of mine. It was at this point that we chose to jump into the 1.4 Comfortline, instead of attempting the highest bungee jump in Africa – something the Tsitsikamma region offers. This model is the younger brother to the high-flying GT model, so it offers you less but you also pay less, which is music to any young persons ears. If you are a first-time buyer on a budget, this variant will be well suited for you. The equipment list may be sparse when compared with the GT, but it still very much looks the part – I mean the Vivo is based on the previous generation Polo, how can it not look good?

The 1.4 model features no fancy turbo but rather a bigger displacement which provides adequate performance, especially in the coast. Yes, the Vivo is a little bare compared to a Polo and road noise is more prevalent, but when your hustling city traffic on your way to varsity, while playing your tunes and debating with your S/O about whether to play Big Shaq or Distruction Boyz – you’re not going to notice it.

After our driving was done for the day, we enjoyed an actual game of Polo (The one with Horses) and many of us did stints on Volkswagen Blue Bike to really get the heart going.  There is nothing like a hearty meal after a workout, and our evening dinner was very welcomed with a South African style braai to really fit in with the theme of our trip.

Waking up for a beautiful Plettenberg Bay sunrise the next day, this was followed by breakfast and heading back to PE – another chance to sample a different Vivo. This time we would be eating up the road ahead in the Polo Vivo 1.6 Comfortline. Offering more power than its 1400cc sibling, slightly more features and a cheaper price-tag than the top of the line GT, it is definitely a good middle ground. A bigger engine means more power, 77Kw to be exact compared to the 1.4’s 63kW.

The original Vivo was previously a great option new to the market motorists. Thankfully the new model maintains the same appeal. Yes, it may not be dirt cheap, but you do get what you pay for. The new model looks better and offers better performance in the GT variant. With much more tech offered compared to the previous car, it is still very much suited for the entry-level motorist and offers a cool but reliable option.

 

New Polo Vivo Pricing In South Africa

1.4 55kW Trendline                     R179 900

1.4 63kW Comfortline                  R192 000

1.6 77kW Comfortline Tiptronic     R221 900

1.6 77kW Highline                       R214 900

1.0 TSI 81kW GT                          R245 000

We roadtrip with VW South Africa and visit the Gerhard Volksie Museum!

VW Golf GTD

We visit the Gerhard Volksie Museum while road tripping with VW South Africa.

A few weeks back we embarked on a roadtrip with VW South Africa, encompassing historical landmarks and an interesting quiz. Our journey took place from JHB to Bloemfontein. This activation wasn’t really a launch, but more of a way to kick-back, relax and enjoy some great cars and have fun at the end of a long year.

The “Amazing Race” involved completing various tasks, finding the answers to certain questions and also capturing specific types of images, all while being as creative as possible. These activities needed to be completed on our way to bloemfontein as we were acquainted with VW’s new Golf range, the R, GTI and GTD.

With the first day spent behind the wheel of the GTD, it was good to reflect on what this car is all about. The statement of “ Diesel GTI” is a very bold one to make, and in my opinion, the GTD doesn’t live up to that title from a performance perspective. The performance figures are not bad at all however with 130kW and 350Nm, on top of that, the GTD pulls off nicely with a heap of low-end torque. It simply doesn’t have the exciting demeanor that a GTI possesses. It’s a much calmer experience, whilst the GTI is more of a boy racer.  

This doesn’t make the Golf GTD a bad car at all, in fact from a handling perspective, it’s right up there with a GTI. I feel many expected more from this car in terms of performance and when it didn’t give them what they wanted, they simple wrote it off. This isn’t a fair assumption in my book, if we take the GTD for what it is, it’s a fantastic vehicle. For starters, the aesthetics are on par with that of its more powerful siblings, it features the latest tech of the 7.5 which is a big improvement over the Golf 7. Overall, it’s a wonderful car to drive, especially on a long road. Smooth and comfortable are words that come to mind when it comes to the GTD. If you’ve experienced previous iterations of VW’s fast diesels you realise that the GTD is progression of that, with a GTI chassis fitted to it.  

So far so good, the Amazing race proving to be enjoyable. Things got livelier that evening as we headed to a local shabeen for a reflection on the day, with the rest of the group and much needed Chesa Nyama. As you can see, my pale British self has truly embraced South African culture.  

On our second day, we swapped the GTD for the R and headed towards the direction of Johannesburg. First things first though, we headed to a local Volkswagen museum. It seemed strange for all of us find a VW museum in the middle of nowhere, until we arrived and saw the vehicles on display. My word.

The Gerhard Volksie Museum situated in the Free State was one of amazement. Gerhard’s operation focuses on air-cooled VW’s such as original Beetles, Karmann Ghias and Kombi’s. The vehicles on display were fantastic, from fully restored Kombi’s to amazing Beetles in many colours. There was also some special treasures to be found such as an old-school ambulance with just 40,000kms on the clock and one of the last CITI Golf’s ever produced with a mere 1500 kms under its belt.

I personally took a liking to the many Kombi’s on offer, which were beautifully restored and ready to hit the road. Gerhard even mentioned that many of them would make it to Cape Town without skipping a beat – I’ve been negotiating with my wife ever since. To put the cherry on the cake, we all jumped at the option to sample a vehicle, I opted for the Kombi. I must say, I don’t think any other classic vehicle has put such a smile on my face. It featured on oversized steering wheel, a confusing 4 speed gearbox and no seatbelts, but yet it was such a pleasure to drive.

Our road trip came to an end with the last stretch of around 300kms in the Golf R – the most powerful of all the Golf variants on offer. I must be honest, the R maybe the fastest, but it certainly isn’t my favorite model in the range. Its quick and sounds great, but the four-wheel drive system has an ever so slight numbing effect, I would personally opt for a GTI if I had to pick from the three. it just offers more driving enjoyment and excitement for my hooligan tendencies.

Overall it has been a good year for the VW Brand, with the release of many models which have been a huge success for them. There have been hints of an even better 2018 with more new and exciting cars on the way, so we look forward to seeing what is literally just around the corner.

VW Tiguan 2.0 TDI vs Mazda Akera 2.2

VW Tiguan v Mazda CX-5: Which do you pick?

There are more and more options becoming available for buyers when it comes to the compact SUV. For many, they make perfect sense. Great looks, practicality and are what make these vehicles popular. The demand is growing and so is the market as more manufacturers release their version of a compact SUV.

2017 Mazda CX-5

This year South Africa has seen two vehicles in particular that offer very good packages. The first being Volkswagen’s new Tiguan which took the country by storm with its design and style and is now available in the 2.0-litre diesel variant. Offering a similar package is Mazda’s updated CX-5 Akera 2.2, which since its facelift also offers a very nice overall package indeed.

Both vehicles are similar in price, offer All-Wheel-Drive and also feature diesel power plants, but which is the best option for you?

Performance

The power output in both vehicles is nearly identical with the VW Tiguan producing 130 kW and the CX-5 coming in just 1 kW short at 129 kW. The main difference between these two engines in Torque, If this was a game of Top Trumps, the Mazda would take the card here with a 420 Nm output compared to the Tiguan’s 380 Nm.

What does this mean? In terms of outright pace, there isn’t much between them, the Torque difference, however, is noticeable.  If you’re one for towing or off-road adventures, the extra 40 Nm will probably come in handy.

4Motion v AWD

Things can get confusing when it comes to four-wheel drive technology, as many brands use different names and terms for their systems, in reality though, they all do the same job and this is the case here. 4Motion is simply VW’s name for their all-wheel-drive system and both vehicles use technology which deciphers which wheels have the most traction and thus supplying power to these wheels. In normal driving conditions, the vehicle remains in a 2WD setup which ultimately means less fuel consumption.

While AWD systems are not as capable as full-blown four-wheel drive systems, It definitely provides an advantage in the safety department, andy and if you find yourself on a rather loose surface from time to time.

Design and Styling

I once said that the Tiguan is possibly one of the most beautiful vehicles on the road, and I still stand by this. With all the nice bits and trimmings, I feel it oozes style and class with the right amount of aggression. On the other hand, the CX-5 is a really good looking car, it has a large front grill and narrow sharp headlights which really do my fancy. If I am picking a winner here, it’s Tiguan all the way, I think its a much sexier vehicle and definitely is more of a head turner. 

Interior

This is a close call, the interior found in the Tiguan is great and the optional technology does add that extra spice. Quite frankly though, the Mazda CX-5 takes the cake here. It may not have an Active Info Display to replace the classic dials, but I feel the Mazda uses better materials and more metals. The Tiguan may have slightly more practicality but in terms of luxury and style, it’s the CX-5 all the way.

2017 Mazda CX-5

So what do you pick?

This depends on two factors, Firstly,  what kind of person you are and the second and possibly more important factor, Price. If you like the limelight and love to stand out then the Tiguan is probably the one you would prefer, it has more road presence and will definitely turn more heads but it will also cost you more money. The Tiguan TDI 2.0 Highline 4motion starts at R566,900 and doesn’t include the Active Info Display, 8” Discover Pro infotainment system, DYNAudio system or leather Upholstery.

2017 Mazda CX-5

On the other hand, the CX-5 is definitely the more understated vehicle and while it comes in just shy of the Tiguan at R561,700, it includes a BOSE 10-speaker system, a head-up display, navigation, leather seats and an electronically sliding sunroof (R11,500 option on the Tiguan).   

In overview, the CX-5 is definitely providing the most value for money, whereas the Tiguan offers a different appeal of style and image, whilst also being backed by the VW brand, which as we know is extremely popular in South Africa. Either way, both cars offer great packages and whichever you pick you will be happy ( Unless you’re sitting in a Tiguan at the starting line of a trailer drag race.)

Our first drive of the Facelifted VW Golf 7.5 GTI

VW Golf 7.5 GTI

South African Launch: Facelifted VW Golf 7.5 GTI

 

Whenever a new Golf is launched, there is excitement beyond belief. First and foremost, it’s been widely regarded as the benchmark in its class and for good reason. Its brilliant! Whether you are starting a new job, transporting kids to and from school, or want a car so that you can have space for your grandkids, it’s the best all-rounder and has remained that way for the last couple of decades. The latest version, or “facelift” in normal terms may be a slight improvement on the current Golf 7, but those small changes make for strides in comfort, luxury and of cause, sportiness.

Updated VW Golf GTI

We flew out to Port Elizabeth to sample the latest version and more specifically, the GTI and my oh my. It’s like your hot friend that was already a looker but decided to go and get a trainer  for a full year, and has come back looking like a model for GQ magazine.

The changes to the new  VW Golf 7.5 GTI are small, but they certainly make you notice it. The “GTI Line” in red now gets broken up and hugs the new LED headlights. Traces of the honeycomb grille finish off the bottom of the LEDs and give the eyes a more aggressive look. The front and rear bumper have also been tweaked for a sportier appeal with the cherry on top being  the new lights with progressive indicators. Small changes as mentioned, but overall, a more svelte athlete.

Updated VW Golf GTI

In the interior, you are immediately greeted by the new LCD electronic display in the instrument binacle which can be adjusted to suit. The examples that we sampled featured  the Discover Pro Navigation, in which the maps and directions sit right in between the rev counter and tachometer for easy viewing. The Discover Pro Navigation also comes with a 9.2-inch screen for vehicle operation with full touch and gesture control. With my basketball player hands, I couldn’t master the system but my driving partner, being a lady with lady like hands, operated the system with ease and I’m sure that with enough practice, I’d soon get the hang of it. The system is iPhone ready with Apple CarPlay and is as easy as 1,2,3 to use. Android Auto has been enabled but South Africans will have to wait until their phones are ready, as the software on android devices has not been enabled yet.

Updated VW Golf GTI

We drove the cars from the airport and stopped over in Jansenville for some lunch. This was a  relatively short drive, thanks to the uprated 169 kW instead of the current 162 kW from the familiar 2.0-litre TFSI motor. Torque has stayed the same at 350 N.m but the vehicle feels more peppy and angrier than what the figures suggest. The GTI 7.5, as it’s locally known, has no problem with bumpier roads, even at more  illegal speeds and turns in like a GTI should. Seats are just the right mix of sporty and let’s-drive-to-Cape-Town-this-weekend comfortable. Even though I have a back that could have come from a 95-year-old war veteran, not once did I reach for the Myprodol.

Updated VW Golf GTI

After reaching the venue and reflecting on the very short drive of 247 kilometers, we settled in and I tried to find fault with the VW Golf 7.5 GTI as there must be at least one black mark and yes, I did find it. It no longer comes with a manual gearbox! The urban warriors having to deal with Sandton traffic have got to VW and convinced them that the manual was redundant and only DSG boxes are on the cards for sunny South Africa. Train smash for a stubborn mule like myself but in the long run, it’s the better decision.

Updated VW Golf GTI

With the whole range being refreshed, it called for some engine changes as well. The 1.2 TSI has been dropped in favour of the new 1.0 TSI in both Trendline and Comfortline packages. This motor should be very nimble at 81 kW and 200 N.m of torque. Next is the 1.4 TSI with the same torque figure but with a bit more juice at 92 kW. This has the option of the DSG gearbox and I’m sure from a comfort, power and pricing perspective, this will be the pick of the bunch. Next would be the GTI and added from July will be the GTD – the 130 kW & 350 N.m diesel 2.0 TDI, as well as the R version. We weren’t given the exact figures for the R but expect more from the flagship Vrrpha!

Once again, the standard has been set and to be honest, many cars will run the Golf close and one or two will be faster, but none can come close to what the Golf and specifically the  VW Golf 7.5 GTI can offer as an everyday package. Expect it to stand head and shoulders above the competition.

Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI R Line – First Drive

Rewind 20 years and anyone claiming to have had a vehicle with a 1.0 – litre 3-cylinder motor producing 81 kW and 200 N.m would have been labelled a madman. If they were to continue, stating that this revolutionary vehicle would sip just 4.4 l/100km and exhibit refinement to match the then contemporary E39 5 Series, the automotive community would have locked them away in a Corolla in solitary confinement until they came around.

Having now grown accustomed to the trend of downsizing, most of the above doesn’t really come as a surprise to both the public and motoring scribes alike. What does come as somewhat of a surprise is that the vehicle boasting all of the above figures isn’t even a brand new vehicle, but rather an updated version of a car that’s been on sale in South Africa for the past 8 years. There’s no denying that the Volkswagen Polo is the most impressive vehicle within its segment and now it has been given quite a nice little final hoorah if you will.

Its full name is the Polo 1.0 TSI R-Line and it features VW’s hugely impressive 3-cylinder 1.0-litre unit, mated to the 7-Speed DSG gearbox we’ve come to know and love. Along with its the drivetrain, the Polo has also been visually tweaked with a smattering of R-Line goodness in the shape of R-Line design front and rear bumpers, R-Line sill extensions, a rear diffuser, chrome exhaust tip and 17” alloys. 8 years on, the Polo is still a handsome thing and while the interior on this model is much the same as the rest of the range, it remains a superlative example of build quality and tactile pleasure.

Set to make its way into a number of VW Group Products, the 1.0-litre unit features active balancing shafts which cancel out the inherent vibrations within a 3-cylinder motor. It’s a very smooth unit which delivers maximum torque from just 2 000 rpm.  Due it being lighter than the locally produced 1.2-litre unit alongside which it is offered, it’s a free-revving and spritely motor and is surprisingly characterful thanks to the triple thrum emanating from behind the bulkhead. A claimed consumption of just 4.4 l/100km is 0.5 l/100km less than that of the 1.2-litre motor, yet 25 N.m more torque is on offer.

While pottering around town, the low-down torque and the slickness of the DSG transmission really do make it all a bit effortless and brisk bursts between traffic lights actually bring a smile to one’s face. Dynamically, the chassis handles the twisties with aplomb and the sometimes rough and constantly undulating roads along our test route in the countryside of Port Elizabeth were where the Polo did better than expected. Its high-speed stability is far superior to that of its competitors and again, this is all thanks to a well-sorted chassis and incredible refinement, as well as the use of Volkswagen’s XDS Electronic locking diff which you can certainly feel doing its bit in the corners and comes as standard on this model. If I were to briefly sum up how the Polo drives, I would have to say that it is confidence inspiring and effortless, and can be different things to different people. The R-Line package adds an impressive duality to the Polo in that it can be sporty and playful if that’s what you ask of it, as well is comfortable and docile if its economy and a leisurely drive you’re after.

Other standard features include the usual raft of safety features, rest assist, 4 airbags (6 optional), air-conditioning, multi-function steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, sports seats with drawers beneath them and a front-centre armrest with storage compartment.

Priced at R290 200, it comes in at the same price as the already available 1.2 TSI Highline Auto but offers a different box of frogs to that vehicle. Yes, it is rather pricey, but you certainly get your money’s worth – just remember that if you were to tell someone in 1998 that your Polo would be able to match their 523i in all but size and thirstiness, it’d be back to the Corolla for you!