Mercedes-Benz bakkie coming

Mercedes-Benz will launch a midsize pickup before the end of the decade but perhaps in 2017.

The new Mercedes-Benz pickup will initially be targeted at markets in South Africa, Latin America, Australia, and Europe – all of which are posting sustained growth in this segment.

Says Nicolette Lambrechts, Vice-President Mercedes-Benz Vans South Africa: “This is a really exciting time for Vans. This will give Mercedes-Benz Vans the opportunity to reach a whole new customer in an entirely new segment. For Mercedes-Benz South Africa this gives us the ability to offer the customer the entire spectrum of products to suit not only their business needs but also cater for their lifestyle requirements – from a car, van, truck, bus and now the pickup.”

It is expected to be a bakkie version of the V-Class and the Vito models and will be developed by the same team. It appears it will be more consumer orientated than workhorse. More like an Amarok, less like a Land Cruiser.

Styling exercise for the proposed new Mercedes-Benz bakkie.

Styling exercise for the proposed new Mercedes-Benz bakkie.

“We can perfectly serve customers looking for a vehicle that offers a high level of utility and at the same time has the comfort, safety, and design of a Mercedes-Benz passenger car,” says Mercedes-Benz. “We will design our brand’s first pickup according to this recipe for success.”

The existing Mercedes Sprinter bakkie.

The existing Mercedes Sprinter bakkie.

 

Ford Focus Eco-Boost

The new Ford Focus is on its way.

Ford Focus

Ford Focus

Available in four and five-door guises, and in the new exterior colour Deep Impact Blue, the new Focus has a lower, wider stance, with a new bonnet, front fascia and grille.

“We weren’t satisfied with being No. 1; we wanted to make the best even better with a stunning new version of the Focus,” says Tracey Delate, General Marketing Manager for Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa.

The Focus  comes with either the 1.0 EcoBoost or the new 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engines.

The new Focus offers fuel efficiency improvements of up to 19 percent compared with the current model, and a significant reduction in CO2 emissions across the range.

For the first time in South Africa, the Focus is available with the 92kW 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine that was named the International Engine of the Year for an unprecedented third successive year in 2014. One in three Focus models in Europe were sold with the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine during the first half of last year, proving just how successful this combination is.

The new Focus is also offered with Ford’s new fuel-efficient 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine that delivers 132kW of power and 240 Nm of torque.

Both EcoBoost engines use a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed SelectShift Automatic will be available on the 1.5 EcoBoost models later this year.

Ford Focus sedan

Ford Focus sedan

INTERIOR

The redesigned centre storage console offers more space as well as a new sliding, integrated armrest. The adjustable console accommodates a variety of bottles and cups with the capacity to simultaneously hold a one-litre water bottle and a 0.4-litre cup. Focus customers also will experience superior interior quietness, achieved with thicker carpets, thicker side window glass, and improved engine bay insulation.

The new Focus offers Perpendicular Parking (a segment first for Ford), a new hands-free parking technology that helps drivers reverse into spaces alongside other cars.

Ford Focus Eco-Boost interior

Ford Focus Eco-Boost interior

SAFETY

Cross Traffic Alert warns drivers reversing out of a parking space of vehicles that may soon be crossing behind them. Operating with radar at a range of up to 40 metres, the system will issue three distinct warning signals if it detects a vehicle approaching from either side

Park-Out Assist helps drivers as they exit a parallel parking space. After the driver has chosen either the left or right hand side the system operates the steering while the driver operates the accelerator and brake.

Ford also has improved its Active City Stop collision avoidance system, which uses sensors at the front of the vehicle to look for stationary objects in the road ahead and pre-charges the brakes if the vehicle is approaching an object too quickly.

If the driver still does not respond the system reduces engine torque and automatically applies the brakes to reduce the impact of collisions. Active City Stop now operates for the new Focus at speeds of up to 50 km/h, increased from 30 km/h.

In the case of moving objects Active Braking works in a similar way to Active City Stop but with a vehicle detection range of between 8 km/h and 180 km/h. It supports drivers at higher speeds, for example on a highway, by issuing warnings and applying braking as required.

Existing Adaptive Cruise Control technology enables Focus drivers to maintain a set distance from the vehicle ahead, even when that vehicle is travelling more slowly than the cruise speed.

For occasions when Adaptive Cruise Control is not active, Ford is now introducing Distance Indication, which enables drivers to set a preferred distance they would like to maintain with the vehicle ahead. Should the driver get any closer, the system issues a three-stage dashboard display warning – from grey to yellow to red.

Ford has now ramped up capacity worldwide to build the car in eight plants on four continents. Factories in Germany, US, Russia, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan and Argentina have a combined capacity to produce more than 1.5 million Focus vehicles annually.

Figures for the 1.0 first then 1.5, then 1.5 auto

Acceleration 0-100km/h     11.1   8.7    9
Top Speed (km/h)                192   222    220
CO2 Emissions (g/km) *     116   128    140
Urban fuel consumption ℓ / 100km *             6.5    7.1    8.5
Extra Urban fuel consumption ℓ / 100km *  4.5    4.7    4.7
Combined fuel consumption ℓ / 100km *      5.0    5.6     6.1

 PRICES
RECOMMENDED RETAIL PRICE
INCL E. Tax INCL E. Tax
INCL VAT EXCL VAT
Focus 1.0 EcoBoost Ambiente 4 door 212900 186754
Focus 1.0 EcoBoost Trend 4 door 229900 201667
Focus 1.5 EcoBoost Trend 4 door 265900 233246
Focus 1.5 EcoBoost Trend 4 door Auto 279900 245526
Focus 1.0 EcoBoost Ambiente 5 door 217900 191140
Focus 1.0 EcoBoost Trend 5 door 234900 206053
Focus 1.5 EcoBoost Trend 5 door 271900 238509
Focus 1.5 EcoBoost Trend 5 door Auto 284900 249912
Options
Metallic Paint 750 658
Styling Pack 14810 12991
Driver Assistance Pack 11940 10474
16″ Alloy wheels (Ambiente Only) 6540 5737

Warranty 4 yr/120 000km

Service plan 4 yr/80 000km

Corrosion guarantee 5 yr/unlimited km

Honda Accord 3.5V6 Exclusive review

Honda Accord 3.5V6 Exclusive

Honda-Accord-V6-009--thumbThis car feels sooo good to drive. You can be cruising along placidly at 110km/h wafting pleasantly to your destination, but when you decide to get going the V6 snarls, you are shoved firmly into the seat and you leave the traffic in your dust. Lovely stuff.

Not only does it perform exactly as required but she looks stunning. I can’t tell you the number of times I saw people stop and stare, and then smile. There are some who complain that this new Accord is too American, but I think Honda was right to bring in the slightly bigger US version to replace the previous European model.

The Civic has grown substantially and easily takes on the 3 series BMW so the Accord has to match the 5 series, E-class executive sedans from Germany.

Honda Accord 3.5 V6

Honda Accord 3.5 V6

The Accord will now compete at the top end of the mid-size executive segment says Graham Eagle, of Honda.

Honda-Accord-V6-176-seatsI agree. I found it very roomy, with serious leg room at the back and a huge, deep boot. You could easily fit 5 golfers in the cabin and their golf bags in the boot.

The front seats are 8-way electrically adjustable and very comfortable. There are two memory settings for the driver’s seat.

For longer items a porthole above the rear centre armrest (which has cup holders) opens to the boot.

The steering wheel is a joy to use. On the right are the cruise control, braking distance and lane monitor controls. On the left audio, bluetooth, telephone and menu controls.

While the Accord will waft you along cocooned in comfort and safety it is fun to drive in the Honda tradition. Performance and handling is superb, not to mention exemplary raodholding. This remains very much a driver’s car but without the harshness (sportiness) of some of its Teutonic competitors.

Honda-Accord-V6-171-camviewI loved the left side blind spot camera. When you turn left, or indicate left a camera built into the left-hand mirror shows you what is happening on that side of the car in the multifunction screen. The display includes graduated lines which help you judge the distance and speed of the car in the left lane.

One of the many extra little touches is a sun screen for the rear window which you can raise and lower with the push of a button.

The active safety features included as standard on this car are astounding. From the now mundane ABS brakes to adaptive cruise control, motion adaptive power steering, lane keeping, automatic wipers and headlights and so on, fifteen of them in fact.

These exclude the passive safety measures like six airbags, fancy seatbelts, active head restraints and so forth.

With 207kW and 339Nm on tap and a max of 200km/h do not expect awesome fuel consumption figures. You will however get a not too bad 9 litres / 100km in general use and around 7L/100km on the highway. Its a V6…  the sound and the acceleration is worth the small premium at the pump. I got 8.1 litres/ 100km on my usual route, which includes town, highway and a ten storey parking garage, which is good for this size car.

Honda-Accord-V6-030--sidePrice as tested R576 300. The range starts with the very competent 2.0 Elegance R408 400 and includes the 2.4 Executive at R471 300.

The Accord comes with everything but the software for the GPS installed. Standard features include headlamp washer, sunroof, automated headlights and wipers, rear view camera, lane watch camera, tyre deflation warning, LED day running lights, adaptive cruise control as well as climate control, and a good sound system with USB and aux connection points.

My wife says the German “Mercedesy” look on the outside with an American look on the inside might seem strange at first glance, but the layout of the control area is clean, clear and very practical. So…ignore the fake walnut not-so-nice finishing touches on the dash and rather keep your eye on the road and the admiring smiles of passers-by.

The Germans have a way of fooling the public concerning price. The V6 Honda Accord is  R25 000 cheaper than a BMW520i. Performance wise, it competes with the R80 000 more expensive 528i.

The Accord has as standard “extras” which will cost about R120 000 on a German car. Remember when it is time to trade-in, the price is based on the standard list price.

Honda-Accord-147-instrSo the equivalent (with goodies included) Audi, BMW or Merc costs between R150 000 and R200 000 more than the Accord. Making the Accord a bargain. Add to this the knowledge the Accord is probably better built and it becomes a no-brainer.

The Mercedes E250 is R673 000 without extras but offers fuel consumption around 8L/100km which is almost 1 litre/100km better.

BMW 5 series 528i is R723 000 without extras, also around 8L/100km.

Audi 2.0T A6 is R581 ooo excluding most extras and is a 4 cylinder.

No wonder this car was a 2015 SAGMJ COTY finalist.

In a nutshell the Honda Accord 3.5 V6 is great value, spacious and worry-free luxury transport.

The warranty is for 3 years or 100 000km and you get a service plan for 5 years or 100 000km included in the price.

Honda-Accord-V6-082-ass

 

 

 

 

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.

Renault-Sandero-2-112

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.