Mercedes-Benz SUV Range 2015

After years of model name madness, Mercedes are finally getting some semblance of logic and system into the range naming protocol. You can actually work out where a model fits in with the new system. With the previous protocol you had  to know what a model was called.

The Mercedes-Benz SUV range. (Quickpic)

The Mercedes-Benz SUV range. (Quickpic)

So now the model range looks like this:

GLA – Compact cross between a hatch and a station wagon, but rides a little taller. Not trail or off-road capable, but equally good on tar and gravel. I liked it and found it big enough for four adults, but not their luggage. Range starts at R 438,900.00 for the GLA200, GLA 250 4MATIC is R610,900 and on to the GLA 45 AMG 4MATIC @ R785,200.00.

GLC –  Small SUV equivalent to a C class car, but with more usable space and a higher ride. Four models are available , all of them equipped with 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive and the 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission as standard:  GLC 220 d 4MATIC, diesel, 125 kW – 400 Nm @ R599 900, GLC 250 d 4MATIC, diesel @ R619 900, 150 kWm – 500 Nm, GLC 250 4MATIC, petrol, 155 kW – 350 Nm @ R604 900, GLC 300 4MATIC , petrol, 180 kW – 370 Nm R654 900.

GLE – A medium size car which replaces the ML. Mercedes believe it is a competent offroader.  It comes with a choice of two petrol and two diesel models with whichever transmission you need. Models are : GLE 250 d 4MATIC R863 000, GLE 350 d 4MATIC R964 000, GLE 400 4MATIC R959 000, GLE 500 4MATIC R1 166 000.

G-class – The king of 4×4 cars by most people’s estimation. We used to know it as the Geländewagen. We get two versions. The common or garden version G 350 d at around R1.5 million and the sporty Mercedes-AMG G 63 at a round R500k more.

IPSOS South African 2015 Vehicle Product Quality Awards

Ipsos customersThe IPSOS 2015 Product Quality Awards includes vehicles sold from January to December 2014 by manufacturers and distributors responsible for more than 83% of the country’s annual sales volume. The awards used to be known as the Synovate Awards.

The research is actually more geared to manufacturers for their own internal evaluation and monitoring of problems and improvements.

Lexus ES is the best car in SA, judged by problems per 100 vehicles, with only 10 pp 100.



The research of the customers’ ownership experience follows a syndicated format with various manufacturers and distributors contributing ideas and funding. Any motor company can participate if they supply names for interviewing, agree to the rules of syndication and participate in meetings and decisions regarding the syndicate business in a transparent and open manner.

“Once again we have seen a marked improvement in quality during 2014, despite growing technological complexity in vehicles” commented the Ipsos Automotive Business Unit Director, Patrick Busschau. “Customers in South Africa are becoming increasingly demanding where product quality and general service levels are concerned, but the local motor industry continues to keep raising the bar or at least remains on a very high level.”

ipsos what

The surveys have three components: a competitive customer experience benchmarking measurement of the sales and service satisfaction of customers within franchised dealership networks, and a benchmarking of product quality with rankings based on problems per 100 vehicles (PP100).

Toyota did well in the latest study, especially its light commercial vehicle range.

Toyota received Platinum Awards for Best Overall LCV Brand (PP100 score of 33), Best One Ton Double Cab LCV Brand (PP100 score of 34) and Best Local Plant Manufacturing LCVs (PP100 score of 31) in the latest results. Toyota – together with Kia – is also awarded with Gold as the Best Volume Passenger Car Brand with a PP100 Score of 31) and – along with Mercedes-Benz – was ranked first as the Best Local Plant Manufacturing Passenger Cars, with a PP100 score of 25.

Mercedes-Benz  received a Gold Award as the Best Luxury Passenger Car Brand (PP100 score of 26), but after four consecutive Gold Awards, the E-Class was recognised as the Best Top Executive Model (PP100 score of 17) and received a Platinum Award.

The A-Class received a Gold Award as the Most Improved Luxury Passenger Car (PP100 score of 22, compared to 39 in 2014). As mentioned before, it ranked alongside Toyota as the Best Local Plant Manufacturing Passenger Cars with a PP100 score of 25.

Ipsos Quality

The Volkswagen Polo Vivo Hatch was the highest-ranked Entry Vehicle with a PP100 score of 30. With a PP100 score of 25 each, the Kia Rio Hatch, Honda Jazz and Toyota Yaris Hatch led the Small Hatch category.

The Top Hatch Gold Award winner was the Toyota Auris (PP100 score of 19), with the Chevrolet Sonic Sedan (24) and Nissan’s Almera (26) pipping their competitors to the post for Gold in the Small Sedan category.

Ipsos problemsThe Lexus ES (10) was the best Medium Sedan, the Audi A3/S3 Sedan (22), Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla (both on 23) were top of the Top Sedan log and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class (17) won the Top Executive Vehicle. Mercedes-Benz also scooped the Sports Coupé class with the C-Class Coupé (13).

The Toyota Avanza (24) was the best MPV, with the Volkswagen Tiguan (13) rated as the best Small Recreational Vehicle and the Audi Q7 (13) as the best Large Recreational Vehicle.

Nissan and Toyota were the clear leaders in the LCV categories. The Nissan NP200 (45) received a Gold Award as the best Three-quarter Ton Vehicle, the Nissan Hardbody Petrol Double Cab (24) was the best Petrol Double Cab and the Nissan Navara Diesel Double Cab (24) the best Diesel Double Cab. Toyota’s Hilux Single Cab was the best Petrol Single Cab (26) and best Diesel Single Cab (31).

The Nissan NP200 (45) and Chevrolet Utility shared Gold in the Three-quarter Ton category, while the Ford Ranger Diesel Single Cab’s PP100 score of 33 was enough to earn it gold in the Diesel Single Cab category.


Ford Fusion 2.0 EcoBoost Titanium review

Fusion 2.0 EcoBoost Titanium

The Ford Fusion 2.0L Turbocharged EcoBoost Auto is quite a car.

Ford Fusion

Ford Fusion

While I was testing the Fusion many people thought it was a Jag. It does look somewhat like a Jaguar. It even acts a bit like one. I took it down to the Knysna Oyster Festival and loaded my MTB and all our stuff in the boot, with space to spare. The cabin is roomy and very well appointed and equipped. A pleasant place to spend some time. Speaking of which, spending time in the highly adjustable seats is a real pleasure.

Ford-Fusion-Knysna-058--sideThe car we tested came with the Trend Driver Assistance pack and Trend Option pack (around R30k together). These make it a real luxury car to match anything the other Europeans can throw at it and well worth it. From park assist, to lane control and adaptive cruise control to automatic headlights and wipers, its all there.

Fusion has a superb Sony sound and infotainment centre which works like a charm.

Space. A big boot, plenty of rear leg room and room for your elbows means you have space to spare.

She cruises effortlessly at 120km/h.

Ford-Fusion-Knysna-019--assThe Fusion can be quite docile but put your foot down and you unleash a bit of a beast. Performance and road holding is excellent. This is a car meant to be driven for pleasure. Fun for the family man.

Fuel consumption is very good for this size car, but is good full stop. I got just under 8 litre/100km average but under 7L/100km on the open road.

This car loves the open road. It has a premium solid feel about it.

The basic price of the car we tested is R369 900, but is R400k as tested. Still a bargain in this category. Fusion pricing starts at R349 900 and tops off at R473 100.

Ford-fusion-dashIt is worth considering that you will be getting more or less a 5 series size car for the price of a 3 series BMW without optional extras.

I fell in love with the Fusion. The quality and character may surprise you, its that good. It has been nominated for the 2015/16 COTY awards and rightly so. It may even win.

Word has it in the market that Ford resale values are amongst the highest at present and compares to Toyota resale values.

Also check out the VW CC or Passat, Mazda6, Hoda Accord or Hyundai Sonata. You may also want to look at the BMW 3 series, which is smaller than the Fusion.

Warranty is 4 years or 120 000km and the service plan is for 4 years or 80 000km


Toyota Auris XR review

Toyota Auris XR review

Auris XR

Auris XR

Toyota entered the hatch market with the Corolla hatch in 1984 based on the FF (front engine, front wheel drive) 5th generation family size Corolla range which also included more sporty rear wheel drive models.

Today Toyota makes many different hatchback models including the very small Aygo, the compact Yaris and the family sized Auris.

The C segment which includes the medium family cars like the Auris comprises compact family hatches (30%) and sedans (70%) but is under pressure from compact SUVs which are like little station wagons on tall wheels.

The present version of the Auris is an example of just how good today’s car design and engineering is. It simply does everything so well and ticks so many boxes.

⊗ Good fuel consumption.

Toyota Auris XR at Lourensford Estate.

Toyota Auris XR at Lourensford Estate.

⊗ Excellent road manners.

⊗ Solid build quality.

⊗ Comfortable interior.

⊗ Comprehensively equipped.

⊗ Safe.

⊗ A pleasant car to drive, with a fun dimension.

The electric lime green XR Auris we got to test certainly stood out on account of its colour. But it also stands out because of its design and styling. And value for money.

Toyota_Auris-etc-011-DashI particularly like the design of the dashboard. It reminds one of an aircraft dash, but in a good technical way, not the fake styling of some other brands. The interior is really pleasant and well thought out, with plenty of storage nooks. Space is actually quite good. The boot easily passes the pram test and is surprisingly big for a hatch.
In the Auris, Toyota has caught up with VW and Ford in respect of the perceived quality and I think may exceed them in the actual quality of materials used and feel of the switchgear.
The drivability is more sprightly than sporty. It goes well and does pack a satisfying dollop of power and good almost sporty road manners. It is not a GTi or STi wannabe, rather a well behaved car with a slightly mischievous streak.
Toyota claims 0 to 100km/h in 10 seconds. In reality acceleration is on par with the competition and more than good enough.

I got 7.1 Litre/100km in Auris-Xr-Vergelegen-094-flankmixed driving, which implies that 6L/100km on the open road is more than likely. If you drive really carefully you will be able to improve on these figures.

Resale values for Toyota hatches have always been good, and I think you can expect the same or better for this range.
The competition in this niche of the market is fierce and several cars are deserving of consideration. I would recommend testing the Focus and Mazda3 before deciding.

Prices start at R223 700 for the base X version right up to R360 300 for the Hybrid. The model we tested was the XR at R287 700.

Warranty is 3 years/100000 km. Sevice plan is 5 years/90 000 km.

Also consider the VW Golf , Kia Cerato, Hyundai i30, Peugeot 308, Ford Focus and Mazda3






“The People’s Wheels Awards are driven by the experiences, attitudes and opinions of our motoring public. In this way, it is a truly South African event – democratic and egalitarian, as the winners reflect the views of diverse voters in terms of motoring reliability, durability and loyalty,” says Nicholas Nkosi, Head of Vehicle and Asset Finance – Retail at Standard Bank. “For this reason, as one of the key financiers of car buyers in South Africa, Standard Bank views the awards as a valuable and honest informational tool for consumers.”
The finalists in the People’s Wheels Awards were determined over a three-month period which saw thousands of votes cast by ordinary motorists for the cars they drive or those they aspire to drive. Equally, a survey which ran simultaneously – in which owners of vehicles were asked to rate various aspects of their ownership experience – also drew many thousands of responses.


Category 1 Category 2 Category 3
Budget Buys Compact Commuters Compact Executive Cars
CHEVROLET – Spark AUDI – A1/A1 Sportback AUDI – A3 Sedan/Sportback/Hatch
FORD – Figo FORD – Fiesta BMW – 1-Series
HYUNDAI – i10/Grand i10 OPEL – Adam CHEVROLET – Cruze
RENAULT – Sandero OPEL – Corsa FORD – Focus
Category 4 Category 5 Category 6
Family Friendly Cars Mid-Sized Executive Cars Premium Luxury Cars
AUDI – A5 Sportback AUDI – A7 Sportback BMW – 6-Series Gran Coupé
BMW – 3-Series BMW – 5-Series JAGUAR – XJ
Category 7 Category 8 Category 9
Super Luxury Cars Sporty Drop Tops Super Sports Cars
ASTON MARTIN – Rapide AUDI – A5 Cabriolet AUDI – R8
BENTLEY – Continental Flying Spur BMW – 4-Series Convertible LAMBORGHINI – Aventador
FERRARI – F12 Berlinetta JAGUAR – F Type LAMBORGHINI – Hurracan
Category 10 Category 11 Category 12
Sport Coupés: Two-Door Hard Tops Premium Class Coupés Hot Hatches/Sedans/ Coupés
AUDI – TT Coupe AUDI – A5 Coupé AUDI – S3
BMW – 2-Series BMW – 4-Series FORD – Fiesta ST
OPEL – Astra GTC JAGUAR – F-Type Coupé FORD – Focus ST
TOYOTA – 86 MERCEDES-BENZ – E-Class Coupé OPEL – Astra OPC
Category 13 Category 14 Category 15
Compact MPVs & People Carriers Large MPVs & People Carriers Small SUVs & Crossovers
CHEVROLET – Orlando FORD – Tourneo Custom CITROEN – Cactus
DODGE – Journey HYUNDAI – H-1 FORD – EcoSport
FORD – Tourneo Connect MERCEDES-BENZ – V-Class JEEP – Compass
VOLKSWAGEN – Golf SV TOYOTA – Quantum OPEL – Mokka
Category 16 Category 17 Category 18
Compact SUVs & Crossovers Premium Class SUVs & Crossovers Luxury SUVs & Crossovers
AUDI – Q3 CHEVROLET – Trailblazer AUDI – Q7
CHEVROLET – Captiva JEEP – Grand Cherokee BMW – X6
FORD – Kuga LAND ROVER – Discovery Sport MERCEDES-BENZ – G-Class
TOYOTA – Fortuner RANGE ROVER – Evoque VOLKSWAGEN – Touareg
Category 19 Category 20 Category 21
Hybrids/Electrics Light Delivery Vehicles Single Cab Bakkies
BMW – i3 FORD – Transit Custom CHEVROLET – Utility
BMW – i8 HYUNDAI – H-1 Panel Van FORD – Ranger
MERCEDES-BENZ – E-Class Hybrid OPEL – Vivaro Panel Van NISSAN – Navara
PORSCHE – Cayenne Hybrid TOYOTA – Quantum Panel Van TOYOTA – Hilux
PORSCHE – Panamera Hybrid VOLKWAGEN – Caddy Panel Van VOLKSWAGEN – Amarok
Category 22
Double Cab Bakkies
FORD – Ranger
NISSAN – Navara
TOYOTA – Hilux
Ownership Survey Fuel Brand Tyre Brand

Wheelswrite’s vote highlighted in red in each category.

Ford Tourneo Connect 1.6 Automatic

Ford-Tourneo-Connect-057-noseFord Tourneo Connect 1.6 Automatic

After many years Ford has a little van again. And what a little van it is.

The Ford Tourneo  comes in two sizes, three trim levels and choice of two engines.

The Grand Connect 1.6 Automatic we drove is a 7-seater MPV (multi-purpose vehicle), the smaller model a real 5-seater.


The Connect may look like a van but it drives like a car, feels like a car. The Titanium model even has climate control and of course cruise control.

Ford-Tourneo-Connect-110-interiorIt has a full trip computer indicating distance to empty, instant and average fuel consumption, average speed, outside temperature and so on.

There are sliding rear doors on both sides for very easy access.

The driver’s seat is very good with 4-way adjustability: fore/aft; recline: up/down & lumbar adjust.

I got a fuel consumption of 9.2 litres/ 100km overall and around 8 on the open road. The SWB 1litre model will get around 6 litres/ 100km overall.   The 1.6 engine delivers more than enough usable power and is quite gutsy in this application. I am told the 1.0L engine in the SWB models is also very effective.

Ford Tourneo Connect Loadspace

Ford Tourneo Connect Loadspace

The interior, at least for the front row is very car like. The dash and interior are well laid out and all the buttons are where they should be.

There is a ton of storage – from storage compartments on the facia top with lift up lids to overhead stowage lockers. You will find a spot for everything.

The audiovisual system is typical modern Ford (in other words good) and offers two power point sockets at the front and rear of the console.

Normal models have air-conditioning but there is climate control in the Titanium model which has many luxury items including for example leather steering wheel and gear knob and panoramic roof.


This van has Hill Launch Assist and an impressive list of safety and handling aids including Roll-Over Mitigation, Torque Vectoring Control, Electronic Stability Programme and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. In short, she handles like a car because she has been engineered to.

The optional panoramic roof window fitted our car is a amazing.

It gives you a whole new way of looking at the world.

The tiered wing mirrors are inspiring. Look for yourself.

Ford-Tourneo-Connect-mirrorThe Tourneo Connect is practical, handles and goes well, has loads of features and is good value for money.

Starts at R273 900 for the 1.0 EcoBoost Trend SWB, R283 900 for the Ambiente and R363 900 for the 1.6 EcoBoost (or 1.6 TDCi) Titanium LWB we tested.

Also look at Toyota Avanza, Suzuki Ertiga, Honda, Nissan NP200, Golf SV, Citroen C4 Picasso, Opel Meriva.

Warranty is 4 years or 120 000km and the service plan is for 4years or 60 000km.

New Ford Figo

Ford Figo Mk 2

Ford’s first generation Figo based on the previous Fiesta is being replaced by a new design.

Ford Figo 2nd generation

Ford Figo 2nd generation

The new model gives you a choice of two engines:

Petrol 1.5 Sigma Engine  82 @ 6300  136 @ 4250  claimed consumption 5.9L/100km

Diesel 1.5 DV5 Engine   74 @ 3750  215 @ 1750-3000 claimed consumption 4.1L/100km

Two transmissions: 6-Speed PowerShift Automatic and 5-Speed manual.

Figo is fitted with driver and passenger airbags, plus ABS. Key-operated central locking and a perimeter anti-theft alarm system is included.

All models are equipped with ABS brakes, while the all-new Figo Titanium PowerShift Auto incorporates Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with Hill Launch Assist.

“The all-new Figo is an exciting new compact car that will delight customers with its great design, smart technology, advanced safety features, world-class quality and powerful yet efficient engines,” says Tracey Delate, General Marketing Manager, Ford Motor Company Sub-Saharan Africa Region.

figo_038_1800x1800There are three trim levels.

Starting off with the affordable Ambiente line-up that includes both body styles and engine choices and has a manual air-conditioning is provided, along with the MyFord Dock® and Bluetooth®-enabled four-speaker audio system with USB and Aux inputs.

The Figo Trend takes the features set up a notch further, incorporating colour-coded door handles, 14-inch alloy wheels in place of the lower model’s steel rims, front fog lamps plus electrically-adjustable exterior mirrors.

Power front and rear windows with one-touch function for the driver and child locks for the rear windows as well as upgraded instrumentation.

The Figo Titanium is distinguished by  chromed headlamp bezels, electronic climate control and SYNC® with Bluetooth® and voice control.

On the Ambiente and Trend models, a standard four-speaker audio system is provided that includes a radio/CD unit with MP3-compatibility, Bluetooth connectivity, as well as USB and Aux inputs. The Titanium further gains remote audio controls on the steering wheel.

The new Figo has 20 storage spaces and convenience features strategically located around the cabin. This includes bottle holders in both front doors that can hold a 1.5-litre and a 1.0-litre bottle at the same time, a large glove box that is big enough to fit a laptop, three cup holders for front seat occupants and a convenient bin for rear passengers at the back of the centre console.

A hidden side compartment built into the driver’s side of the dashboard keeps small items safe, and is only accessible when the driver’s door is open.

New Ford Figo sedan (Ford, Quickpic)

New Ford Figo sedan (Ford, Quickpic)


1.5 Ambiente Hatch R 158 900
1.5 Trend Hatch R 167 900
1.5 Titanium Hatch R 181 900
1.5 Titanium Hatch PowerShift Auto R 203 900
1.5 TDCi Ambiente Hatch R 189 900
1.5 TDCi Trend Hatch R 199 900
1.5 Ambiente Sedan R 160 900
1.5 Trend Sedan R 169 900
1.5 Titanium Sedan PowerShift Auto R 205 900
Metallic & Pearlescent Paint R 750

All models are sold with a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, two-year/40 000km service plan, three-year/unlimited km roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty.