Ford Ranger 3.2 TDCi XLT 6 speed auto 4×4 review

King of bakkies

King of bakkies

Ford Ranger 3.2 TDCi XLT 6 speed auto 4×4

The king of bakkies.

It’s a hell of a thing to say, but I really do think the Ranger 3.2 automatic 4×4 double cab is the king in South Africa.

Nothing matches it.

The Nissan Navarra and VW Amarok are not very far behind, but they just don’t quite make the grade.

Ranger 3.2 4x4 auto DC

Ranger 3.2 4×4 auto DC

The Toyota Land Cruiser probably has more rock climbing ability and desert crossing grunt, but it is a truck, like a Land Rover Defender. As a plain lekka bakkie, Ranger 3.2 is king. Simply put, the competition lags behind. No wonder the HiLux has been trumped in the sales charts for the first time in literally decades.

The only negative  I can think of is the size or bulk. On the open road you do not feel the size. It is only when parking, in town or in an average garage. This Ranger is long and wide. It is 5.27m long and 2.16m wide. Your garage door has to be 1.9m high or you won’t get in.

Ford-Ranger-3.2-MacGregor-005_ass

In spite of the bulk, fuel consumption is around 11 litres/100km provided you aren’t speeding or driving through sand. Then all bets are off.

The electronic stability control system is the best practical system on any bakkie and possibly 4×4 and includes roll over mitigation, adaptive load control as well as hill launch and descent control. It allows one more confidence and gives a better ride on tar and on gravel than any of its competition.

Easy to driveFord-Ranger-3.2-MacGregor-041

The Ranger is fun to drive in any conditions and on any surface. Easy too.  It is the first bakkie to get a EuroCAP five star safety rating.

My wife drove the Ranger up the Boesmanskloof pass near McGregor in the rain, and down again without breaking into a sweat. Nuff said.

This bakkie handles well, accelerates well and stops…  quickly.

Off-road the Ranger is as good as any other double cab and better than most, most of the time. You can’t really go wrong with it.

There are a number of little (clever) details in the Ranger that give it just that little extra boost, for example the external tie hooks for the load area, the smaller front doors to allow bigger doors at the back, and so on. Small touches that all add up. Clever design.

What’s not to like in this bakie? Not much.

I think the automatic version is even better than the manual and recommend it.

Price as tested R497 200. The 3.2 double cab range starts at R340 000 and tops out at R541 900.

In this size of bakkie also look at the (new) Isuzu KB, Nissan Navarra, Mazda BT, GWM Steed 6 and VW Amarok.

The Ranger comes with a four year or 120 000km warranty and 5 year or 90 000km service plan.

Ford-Ranger-3.2-MacGregor-018

 

 

GWM Steed 5 Double Cab 2,0 VGT 4×2 review

Steed-5-E-00_thumbGWM Steed 5 Double Cab 2,0 VGT 4×2

GWM have introduced a new, bigger leisure double cab bakkie as flagship, the Steed 6. A full road test will follow in due course.

The Steed 5 remains in the line-up as a workhorse single cab bakkie, but getting a new 2.0 turbodiesel engine.

GWM have upgraded the smaller (normal) Steed 5 double cab to the Steed 5 E, which now comes in two models, the basic SX and the Xscape which adds leather upholstery, a touch-screen media system with Bluetooth, rear diff-lock, side steps, roll bar and tyre pressure monitoring.

Steed 5 E

Steed 5 E

The biggest difference in the new Steed 5 E is the nose. It looks really good. The Steed 5E Double Cab 2,0 VGT SX is now a good looking, well equipped bakkie, and comes with climate control, radio/CD with USB support, dual front airbags and ABS/EBD as standard.

Steed-5-E-025Changes include a new aerial built into the windscreen (very effective) , quieter and more effective windscreen wipers, integrated side indicators, extra sound-insulation around the cabin and revised rear seat cushions.

These bakkies appear to be well put together. No dust, no squeaks or rattles and everything opens and closes properly. The cabin feels well appointed and quiet in a bakkie context.

A strange omission is no clock and I missed a simple trip data display with fuel consumption and the like.

Steed-5-E-039The ride when empty is a little skittish but very similar to the previous Isuzu KB.  Steering is very direct and light but not unpleasantly so. The gearbox, clutch set-up is very good and smooth, a real pleasure and easy to use.

They claim a fuel consumption of 8.3 litres/100km. I got around 9. So its on a par with the best.

If you want a smaller double cab, you must test drive the 5 E. Also look at the Nissan NP300, Mitsubishi Triton and outgoing Toyota HiLux.

Pricing of the Steed 5E range (excluding service plan) is as follows:

Steed 5E 2,4-litre SX                             R229 900
Steed 5E 2,4-litre Xscape                      R244 900
Steed 5E 2,0-litre VGT SX             R259 900 (as tested)
Steed 5E 2,0-litre VGT Xscape             R274 900

The cost of the service plan needs to be confirmed with your dealer. A 4×4 version of the Xscape will be available soon.

Warranties are really good. Manufacturer’s warranty is for 5 years or 100 000 km, while the corrosion guarantee is 10 years and unlimited km.

As tested R259 900. The 4×4 is R289 900.

The bigger Steed 6 Double Cab 2,0 VGT SX costs R294 900.

Steed-5-E-034

 

 

Isuzu KB 300 D-TEQ LX AUTO 4×2 review

Isuzu-kb-3.0-dc-036_thumbIsuzu KB 300 D-TEQ LX AUTO 4×2

The new Isuzu KB continues where the old tried and tested model took us. Reliable, solid, dependable. It still has good road holding and it still sounds and smells  like a truck. The way a KB should. You just gotta love that old diesel mill.

It is bigger and it is way more frugal than the model it replaces.

Isuzu claim  a combined cycle of 7.7 l/100km. I think you should work on just under 9 normally but around 7 l/100km on highway unladen. Still pretty impressive.

Isuzu-kb-3.0-dc-065_doorThe cabin of this KB is much more spacious than the old one. Storage is a doddle with all the usual nooks and crannies, compartments on the floor under the seats, sunglass holder in the roof and clever drinks holders which slide out of the dash.

The leather multi-function steering wheel in the LX models is a pleasure to use. The integrated sound system is comprehensive and sounds good.

Leg room at the back is much improved as is ease of entry and exit. In short, the cabin is much bigger. It is also more comfortable and luxurious but not as smart as the Ranger.

The front is dominated by the powerful halogen projector headlights, but I have to say the chrome grille is a bit much.  The KB looks like a bakkie should, if that makes sense. It is more rounded than its predecessor and, one could say, stylish.

Isuzu KB 3.0 DC

Isuzu KB 3.0 DC

Ride quality has been improved and now almost matches the Mitsubishi Triton in my mind. It is very good both on tar and gravel. The new KB continues the tradition of excellent gravel travel built by earlier models. In town steering is a little heavy and feels cumbersome.

The engine torque and power is good but not as good as the opposition. It will serve you fine in most circumstances. It has been updated with a new intercooler and several other improvements and is around 15% up on the old model. You don’t really feel it on the road though.

Safety equipment include six airbags, ABS with EBD and BAS, and Isofix anchorage points, but not stability control.

It does not have standard rubberized load-bed or tonneau cover hooks.

If you do a lot of driving on gravel roads you will love this Isuzu.

Isuzu-kb-3.0-dc-066_dashThe KB 300 D-TEQ LX AUTO 4×2 as tested is priced at R440 100. Isuzu prices a are a little steepish for what you get.

The range starts at R383 900 for the  KB 250 D-TEQ LE 4×2. The range topping KB 300 D-TEQ LX 4×4 is R483 500.

In this size of bakkie also look at the Ford Ranger, Nissan Navarra, Mazda BT, GWM Steed 6 and VW Amarok.

The Steed 6 Double Cab 2,0 VGT SX costs R294 900.

If you are more interested in the traditional one ton bakkie size check out the Toyota HiLux, GWM Steed 5, Nissan NP300 (Hardbody) or the very capable Mitsubishi Triton.

The warranty covers 5  years or 120 000 km. The service plan is for 5 Years or 90 000 km.

Isuzu-kb-3.0-dc-023

 

 

Renault Sandero Turbo Dynamique review

Renault-Sandero-2-039New Renault Sandero Turbo Dynamique

The new Renault Sandero should be the car that really puts Renault on the map in South Africa. It should sell in droves.  It is good looking, handles nicely, is guaranteed for 5 years and is very affordable.

The Sandero is a budget small family car with a generous boot.

In Dynamique guise it has all the bells and whistles and is really good value for money.

All new Sanderos come with a full suite of electronic safety aids, even hill start assist, front airbags and ISO Renault-Sandero-2-012childseat anchors. They also all have central locking, electric front windows, radio fingertip controls, Bluetooth and power steering.

The top model of the new Sandero adds airconditioning, cruise control, onboard computer, rear electric windows, 2 more airbags and foglamps.

In a nutshell, the new Sandero is well equipped.

I found the seats comfortable. The fabric looks and feels good and appears to be durable. The interior is functional, smart and seems well put together. Five adults can fit in, if for shortish distances. It also has a large boot.

The multi-function steering wheel feels good and the steering is good for its class and actually gives you feedback.

The engine is a new generation turbo petrol delivering 66kW and 135Nm of torque. Do not worry that it is a 3 cylinder 900cc unit. It has a very low inertia turbo combined with Variable Valve Timing which results in exceptional performance.  All the manufacturers are going in this direction. It felt more powerful to me than a typical German 1.2 turbodiesel engine. I found it to be willing and well suited to the Sandero.

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Handling and roadholding is good and at least matches its competition. It is based on the same platform as the fourth generation Clio so inherits the good road manners of its sibling.

The first three gears are quite close, giving you lots of grunt when you need it, but the last two are designed for the open road and good economy.

Renault claims a mixed cycle fuel consumption of 5.2 litre per 100km. This is very optimistic. Expect between 6 and 7 l/100km. Top speed is 175km/h and you will get to 100km/h in just over 11 seconds.

The plus factors for this car are:Renault-Sandero-2-077

Interior space and a big boot

Great price, exceptional value

Good looks, modern design

Expansive standard equipment list

I think the new Sandero has shifted the goalposts in the affordable small car market. It is a very good affordable small car with space to seat 4 adults in comfort. You get a lot of car for your money.

It should make a good business car, especially considering the five year warranty.

Price as tested: R141 500. The base model Expression is R123 900 (R133 900 with aircon).

Warranty is a very good 5 years or 150 000 and the service plan is for 2 years or 30 000km.

Also look at the Toyota Etios, Volkswagen Polo Vivo and Ford Figo.

Suzuki Celerio

Suzuki Celerio

The new Celerio is the first Suzuki model to be fitted with the  new automated manual gearbox, which allows clutchless operation of a manual gearbox without the energy losses usually associated with conventional torque converter-based automatic transmissions. Very clever.

The Celerio range replaces the Ato as the entry level offering in South Africa, but is a little bigger.

Suzuki Celerio

Suzuki Celerio

Suzuki finally offers a new generation normally aspirated three-cylinder one litre engine, in this case case delivering 50kW and 90Nm and promising less than 5 litre/100km fuel consumption.

This mini hatchback gives the impression of space on the inside thanks to its tall roof.

The Celerio is 100 mm longer and 70 mm taller than the outgoing Alto, while width has remained exactly the same. The wheelbase has increased by 65 mm to 2 425 mm, which greatly benefits interior space.

celerio dashCompared to the Alto, headroom in the Celerio has improved by 21 mm in front, and by 43 mm at the rear. Significantly, there is also 60 mm more elbow room for rear occupants. The Celerio’s extended wheelbase has boosted rear legroom by 50 mm, while the rear footwells are 28 mm wider.

At 235 litres, the luggage capacity is best in class, while the large tailgate opens all the way down to bumper level, reducing the load sill height to just 692 mm.

The  new automated manual gearbox uses an electro-hydraulic actuator to change gears without the need for a clutch pedal. The system offers both full auto and manual shift modes, and ensures a smooth shift action by synchronising clutch control, gearshift action and engine speed.

The AMT can operate in fully automatic mode, or in manual override, allowing the driver to change gears manually. There’s also a creep mode, which ensures smooth operation in stop-start urban traffic.

The Celerio is the most fuel efficient automatic car in our market.

Dual front SRS airbags, an ABS anti-lock braking system, inertia reel seatbelts, childproof door locks and a high-mounted third brake light are all standard.

The new Celerio is available in a choice three models, all powered by the same engine, but offering two transmission options and two specification levels: GA and GL.

The top of the range 1.0i GL AMT Alloy CR5 seems to be the best buy.

1.0i GA MT (No service plan) CR1             R109 900
1.0i GA MT Alloy (No service plan) CR2 R112 900
1.0i GL MT CR4                                            R124 900
1.0i GL MT Alloy CR3                                  R127 900
1.0i GL AMT CR6                                         R135 900
1.0i GL AMT Alloy CR5                              R138 900

Retail price includes a 2 yr / 30 000km service plan

Hyundai Accent Hatch 1.6 Fluid Manual review

Hyundai Accent 1.6

Hyundai Accent 1.6

Accent Hatch 1.6 Fluid Manual

There is a very small gap between the i20 and the i30 models in the Hyundai hatch range. Hyundai says so. Its called the Accent Hatch. No t to be confused with the Accent sedan, which feels a different car.

The Accent Hatch is an economical, value for money model which stands apart from the normal range, aimed at the company car niche.

The hatch looks quite modern on the outside and is plain but pleasant on the inside. It is a no frills but not a stripped down offering from the Korean value car brand. It is a car you would not buy based on an emotional response. Its practical, affordable transport. Its bland enough that your bookkeeper would buy one, much like she would have bought an old Corolla 15 or 20 years ago. In a way the Acccent Hatch replaces the Toyota Conquest niche in the market. That is not a bad thing.

The interior is much like the sedan with which it shares many components. Instrumentation is very complete as is the list of comfort equipment.

The seats remain comfortable even after 30 minutes and seem to have a durable cloth covering, leather is a R8 000 option. The fit and finish is good and materials although not luxurious are fine.

Equipment includes steering wheel-mounted audio controls, USB/aux ports for multimedia, integrated Bluetooth for phone calls and music streaming, height adjustable steering wheel, height-adjustable driver’s seat, four-speed air conditioner, and park distance control.

Hyundai Accent 1.6 Fluid

Hyundai Accent 1.6 Fluid

On the road the Accent performs acceptably. Steering is a little light for my liking, but effective. It is not a peppy drive, but rather steady and sedate, a result of being set up for economy. Hyundai claims 6.4l/100km in general use. In reality it is more like 7.4, which is still good.

I found the road noise to be more than expected. On the open road it has a bit of a whine or drone which I found irritating.

The six speed manual gearbox is good but the rather ancient four speed automatic should be treated with circumspection.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a shabby offering, it’s just not exciting. It is a practical car solution for somebody who just wants reliable wheels. It is worth a look.Accent-Hatch-108

The car as tested costs R234 900, which I feel is a little expensive. I would rather go for a Suzuki Swift at R188 900.

Also look at the Ford Figo, VW Vivo, Kia Rio, Hyundai i20, Toyota Yaris, Suzuki Swift or Renault Sandero.

The manufacturer’s warranty is for a good  5 Year / 150 000 km and the service plan for 5 years or 90 000 km.

 

 

Nissan NV200 diesel review

NV200-thumb

NV200

Nissan NV200 – Leading the way

The Nissan NV200 is an exceptionally practical vehicle, especially in diesel guise. Whether as a panel van or a microbus, the VN200 is compelling.

We tested the petrol version.

The 200 range of Nissan commercial vehicles comprising of the bakkies, NP200, and the vans, NV200, are the most complete and possibly best value range in South Africa. While the bakkies completely dominate their segment, the vans still have to catch up to the more established VW Caddy range.

Nissan-NV200-031

Internationally the NV200 is becoming the dominant small bus. It has been selected as the taxi of choice in both New York and London. A hybrid and an electric model are on the way.

You will have to search far and wide to find a better vehicle to use as a taxi or small shuttle.

Nissan-NV200-041It has the biggest ‘boot’ space of all the small busses at 340dm ³ and the best access.

I immediately liked the vehicle. It does everything smoothly and effortlessly. The NV200 is easy to drive. The combination of relative light weight, peppy engine, light steering and smooth gearbox contribute to car like handling. It is really pleasant to travel in.

This little van from Nissan is the class leader by quite a margin. It goes well, handles well and has loads of space.

This is the second NV200 I have tested. I am almost more impressed this time round. It delivers so much more than it promises looking at it from a distance.

Nissan-NV200-007The interior has been well designed and is practical, comfortable and appears to be durable. Standard equipment include multi-function steering wheel, aircon, radio/CD with aux and USB inputs, Bluetooth for audio streaming and hands-free cellphone, powered external mirrors and windows, front fog lights, loads of storage compartments and a full spare wheel.

This van has very generous space considering its compact dimensions, with 4.2 cubic metres of volume in the rear and a 739kg payload, space for two Europallets, while loads up to 1.36 metres in height can be carried.

A big plus are the sliding doors on both sides. Very practical.Nissan-NV200-036

The 1.5dCi diesel produces good torque and delivers superb fuel economy of around 5.5 to 6 litres per 100km. The 1.6i petrol has more power but expect fuel consumption around 8 l/100km.

Expect to see many of these combis and vans on our roads soon.

Whether you are looking for a small bus/ 7 seater or a smaller van the NV200 has to be on your shopping list.

Also consider the VW Caddy, Toyota Avanza, the slightly smaller Honda Mobilio and even the Suzuki Ertiga. Other vans to look at are the Fiat Doblo and Renault Kangoo.

The diesel van costs R245 900, petrol R221 900, the diesel Combi or bus R303 900, petrol R277 900.

Warranty is 3 years or 100 00km, service intervals are 15 000km.