Van or Bakkie with canopy?

Bakkies are the love of southern Africa car owners. The Toyota Hi Lux is often the biggest selling ‘car’ model not only in South Africa, but also in Botswana and Namibia and is the best selling vehicle this year.

Bakkies are great. There is just the little problem of the load being unprotected from the weather and from wondering eyes. Fortunately there is an easy solution. Get a canopy.

Roof high canopy with swinging doors.

Roof high canopy with swinging doors.

We are spoiled for choice of canopies.

Four materials are generally used for making canopies.

Canvas is the original material and remains a good choice of you only need a temporary cover from time to time. It does not give good security though.

Mild steel metal canopies have lost their popularity due to rust and weight issues. In some cases 3CR12 stainless steel is now used in both canopies and trailers. It is very corrosion resistant, strong and light, but pricey.

Aluminium canopy

Aluminium canopy

Aluminium canopies are gaining in popularity. They are extremely light and tough.

Most canopies are made of fibreglass/glass reinforced polyester. They are cheaper than metal and almost as strong and durable. They are slightly heavier than aluminium products.

Generally aluminium canopies are the most durable and secure, but also the most expensive.

Canopies come in two basic shapes. Space saver or full door canopies often come with a nose cone to help with aerodynamics and are higher than the roof of the cabin of the bakkie. The other shape is as high as the roof of the cabin and often has a half door that swings up.

Tall canopy - high security

Tall canopy – high security

Comparing the cost of a van with a bakkie and canopy it looks a bit like this in the case of the most popular smaller commercial vehicle range, the Nissan 200 series.

Nissan NP200 bakkie, the base 1.6 8v model is R134 600, but with air-conditioning and safety pack it costs R152 200. The diesel 1.5 DCi is R193 400.

The Nissan NV200 1.6i van starts at  R212 300. It comes with safety pack and air-conditioner as standard. The diesel 1.5 DCi costs R240 900.

The full canopy costs R11 500 installed. The slightly bigger canopy with nosecone is R13 000. The half height or roof height standard canopy costs around R9 000, while an executive low-line canopy is around R11 000. The differences between the standard and executive models include gas struts, roof rails, lockable door, UV tinted windows and interior light.

The NP200 with a full (highline) canopy is R205 000, With a roof height (lowline) canopy is R203 000.

Variety of fibreglass canopies

Variety of fibreglass canopies

The difference between a small van and a half ton bakkie with canopy ranges from R30 000  to R35 000.

I have used Beekman fibreglass shell canopies as the example for pricing, partly because they are nationwide and partly because their service is so good. They are the only local canopy manufacturer to achieve ISO9001 quality accreditation and offer a 2 year warranty on the shell and one year on the mechanical parts. Andy Cab offer a 3 year warranty on their shells.

The full height canopies have better security due to their unitary construction without side windows and the large galvanised double doors.

For the best security a van is still the best option. Also the side door of most vans should improve productivity markedly. The R30 000 cost difference is quite substantial.

The full height canopy is very useful. The doors are just so much more substantial and it is easier to work inside. I think they are worth the extra R1 000.

 

 

 

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Kia Sportage CRDi AWD review

Kia Sportage CRDi

Kia Sportage CRDi

Kia Sportage CRDi AWD

Kia’s lead designer Peter Schreyer and his team have changed the face of Kia. Not only has the face changed though, everything has been upgraded. The Kia Sportage is the small SUV or station wagon in the model range and it is not only versatile but seems to be just the right size. Big enough for four adults and their kit, small enough to manoeuvre in town.

The facelifted Sportage is more refined than the model it has been developed from and has been  tweaked where it counts.

The interior is very good and has been significantly upgraded. A lot of thought has gone into it. From the leather clad multi-function steering wheel to the multi-adjustable powered leather driver’s seat everything feels just right. The armrest between the seats hides a cubby hole, one of many storage bins.

Kia Sportage CDi

Kia Sportage CDi

Needless to say the car is very well equipped with amongst others a high end sound system, climate control, electric windows, cooling glove box, auto light control and multi-function trip computer. The cabin and boot are both spacious. The boot has a false floor which is useful for keeping small things out of site.

The built-in rear-view camera and RPAS (Rear Parking Assist System) works very well and the touch screen is a nice, er…  touch.

Kia Sportage CRDi

Kia Sportage CRDi

Safety equipment includes downhill brake control, EBD, ABS, electronic stability control, hill start assist, airbags front, side and curtain and iso-fix baby seats.

I really enjoyed driving the Sportage. Acceleration is good and I found the road holding above average for a tall car. This car will be easy to live with.

Expect fuel consumption of around 7 litres/100km for the diesel and a litre more for the petrol models.

The ride is a little stiff, a bit like the Audi Q3, but it is not unpleasant. The very comfortable seats mollycoddle you in any case.

Summary

Kia has got it right with the Sportage range. No longer cheap, but solid build quality and good prices. The five year warranty says something about the quality. The dimensions are just right, inside and outside.

The Sportage is practical, good value and smart.

The Sportage range has 9 models from the 2.0 Ignite (petrol) at R321 995 to the 2.0 CRDi (diesel) AWD auto at R425 995. We tested the latter. If you don’t need AWD we recommend the 2.0 auto at R360 995.

Also look at the Nissan Qashqai (new model any day now), Ford Kuga (new model), Honda CRV, Toyota RAV and Hyundai ix35.

Sportage 086

The Sportage comes with a very good five year, 150 000km warranty and 5 year or 100 000km service plan.

Sportage crdi  016

 

2014 WOW Women’s Car of the Year Awards

The women of South Africa have voted and Women on Wheels (WOW) is proud to announce the winners of the 2014 WOW Women’s Car of the Year Awards (#WOWCOTY). Over 10 000 votes were cast by WOW readers and combined with the judges’ votes to decide the winning cars in 11 categories.

The winning cars in each category are:

  • Budget Buys: Honda Brio
  • Convertibles: Mercedes-Benz SLK
  • Crossover/Compact SUV: Porsche Macan
  • Hatchbacks: Mercedes-Benz A-Class
  • Sedans: Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  • Green cars: Nissan Leaf
  • Large SUVs: Range Rover Sport
  • MPV: Citroën C4 Picasso
  • Sports Cars: Jaguar F-Type
  • Super car: Honda NSx
  • Overall Car of the Year: Porsche Macan

“It is such an exciting survey for us at WOW,” says Charleen Clarke, editor of WOW and convener of the WOWCOTY judging panel. “Not only are more women actively searching for cars, but with the volume of votes we can confidently say that these results are a real-life indicator of South African women’s favourite cars. More women are making the car buying decisions in their households and we are tapping in to this market.”

Toyota Corolla Quest 1.6 M review

Toyota Quest

Toyota Quest

Toyota Corolla Quest 1.6

CitiGolf started something in 1984. VW built them for 25 years. Basically they were a facelifted and modernised Mk 1 Golf, which had originally been introduced in 1974. Since then VW and Ford have played the same trick a few times, lately with the VW Vivo, a facelifted previous generation Polo and Ford produces the Figo based on the earlier Fiesta.

Toyota has also done this before. Think of the Tazz.

Just after Toyota introduced the new 11th generation Corolla they revealed the Quest, basically a 10th generation Corolla (E150).

The Quest is a brilliant interpretation of what a good basic family or business car must be. It has all the goodies like power windows, aircon, sound system, adjustable steering wheel, multi-function display, comfortable seats and connections for your sound player or phone. It does not have leather trim, or much soft touch plastic or cruise control. That is the balance Toyota has achieved.

From a safety perspective the Quest delivers. ABS brakes, ISO points, immobiliser, front airbags, halogen headlamps, fuel cut-off and

Toyota Corolla Quest

Toyota Corolla Quest

so on.

You get a choice of four colours but one model only. A six speed manual 1.6 petrol with Emergency brake assist and brake force distribution. The combination of the 6-speed gearbox and latest generation 1.6 litre petrol engine delivers excellent economy and good power. Acceleration is good and top speed well in excess of the legal limit.

Why buy a Quest? It is economical, it has got space, it is safe and its very good value for money. It should last as long as any other Toyota. Uses the same parts and a proven platform. They get the price down by keeping things simple and using last year’s technology where practical. Not a bad thing of itself.

How does it drive? Like a dog? Quite simply, just like last year’s Corolla. It is pretty good to drive. Good road holding, good handling. It is a good car.

Spares are readily available and affordable. For example, the tyres are 195/65R15 which will be easy to replace at a good price.

Toyota Quest interior

Toyota Quest interior

I highly recommend the Corolla Quest as a superb value business car.

Price as tested is  R174 900. It comes basically fully equipped.

Warranty is three years or 100 000km and the service plan is 3 years or 45 000km.

Other cars to look at in this price category include Toyota Yaris , Kia Rio, Hyundai Accent, VW Polo Vivo, Honda Ballade, Ford Ikon, All smaller.

Similar size cars include the Hyundai  Elantra (R45 000 more),  Honda Civic (R40 000 more), Chevrolet Cruze R50 000 more) and new Corolla (R40 000 more).

Quest-176

 

 

Ford Fiesta 1.0 Automatic EcoBoost PowerShift Trend review

Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost PowerShift Trend

Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost PowerShift Trend

Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost PowerShift Trend

Wow. What a little surprise package. So much more than you expect.

The Fiesta EcoBoost is fun, frugal, feisty and just plain a fabulous small car.

The engine in the car was International Engine of The Year in 2012, 2013 & 2014*. It is a gutsy little engine producing the amazing torque of 170Nm as opposed to the 1.4 normally aspirated petrol engine which manages just 128Nm. You feel the difference, believe me. Ford calls it an inline three cylinder turbo petrol, direct fuel injection and Ti-VCT. I call it dynamite.

Top speed of 180km/h and 0 to 100 of 10.8 seconds. Ford_Fiesta_1.0_044

Ford claims Fuel Economy – NEDC ℓ/100km (combined cycle) of 4.9litres/100km. Expect6l/100km in normal driving but under 5l/100km on the highway.

There are three levels of trim, Ambiente, Trend and Titanium. Go for the Trend.

The Fiesta Trend line has a full suite of safety equipment including hill launch assist and even the hazard lights are activated under emergency braking. The Trend models have fog lamps front and rear, daytime running lights, a follow me home headlight feature and halogen projector headlamps.

This ‘new’ updated Fiesta looks good. The only really new feature is the nose, more specifically the grill. You will either love or hate it. The rest of the car is sexy. Beautifully balanced lines and just the right weight between glass and sheetmetal.

Ford_Fiesta_dashInterior

The cabin is roomy for the class of car and well appointed. I feel it has the class leading cabin package. The only items missing are cruise control and seat warmers. Fit and finish is excellent.

The driver seat is manually adjustable, horizontally, vertically and the angle of the backrest. The seating is comfortable and looks good.

The legroom for the back seats is good for this class of car.

Ford Fiesta 1.0 Powershift

Ford Fiesta 1.0 Powershift

Entertaining

Driving the Fiesta is a fiesta. You just salsa along. The 1.0 is very much a driver’s kind of car. Fun, zippy and sporty with excellent road holding and handling to match. And its economical. The car’s dynamics are best in class. It sticks to the road around corners like marmalade to your fingers.

This new facelifted Fiesta raises the bar for B segment motoring, it is that good.

The 1.0 EcoBoost PowerShift Trend, as tested costs R236 300. This is quite possibly the pick of the bunch. The other choice could be the 1.6 TDCi Trend manual turbodiesel.

The Fiesta range starts at R178 900 for the Ambiente 1.4 petrol manual. The top of the range Fiesta is the ST at R267 700. The diesels start at R194 900.

Also look at the VW Polo, Kia Rio, Mazda 2,Renault Clio or Hyundai i20.

All Fiestas have a comprehensive warranty of 4years / 120 000 km and a service plan for 4 years / 60 000 km.

* The International Engine of The Year panel of 82 jury members from 34 countries also named the Mercedes-AMG 2.0-liter turbo as the best New Engine for 2014. The electric engine from Tesla won the Green Engine prize, and the 4.5-liter V8 from the Ferrari 458 Italia is the top Performance Engine. The little Ford keeps very good company.

Article first appeared in Your Business Magazine

 

 

Mercedes-Benz CLA 220 CDI review

Mercedes Benz CLA

Mercedes Benz CLA

Mercedes-Benz CLA 220 CDI

Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte and the Mercedes CLA have a thing or two in common.

They are both classy. A little strange. Amusing. And then there is the dual personality thing.

Just as Ferrando and Gulielmo appear to change character, so the CLA can be just a small Merc sedan. Or it can become a snarling sporty coupé. At the touch of a button. This button is like a rocket launcher. Select S and all pretence of frugality and domesticity disappears.

Like Fiordiligi and Dorabella, prepare to be swept off your feet by the charming soldiers and romanced by the fiery foreigners.

Mercedes-Benz CLA 220

Mercedes-Benz CLA 220

Mercedes have, with the 220, managed to combine performance and practicality in a very neat looking package. Most people saw the coupé and not the sedan. A very successful design then. It looks sporty but has 4 doors and is practical inside. It seats 4 adults in comfort and the boot is not bad. I have a suspicion its about as big inside as the C series sedan of 10 years ago. Sitting in the back with the driver’s seat set up for myself I was quite comfortable.

Mercedes-CLA-Xti-pics-060Mozart would have approved of the exterior styling, I think. It suggests a sporty intent but delivers practicality. BMW and Audi have some catching up to do. Mercedes call it a 4 door coupé. They say: “Three prominent lines give structure to the vehicle when viewed from the side: the front structural edge over the wings flows towards the rear end in a characteristic dropping line. Another, more sinewy line spans the shoulder muscle above the rear axle, while the third feature line extends in a sweeping curve from the front wheel towards the rear.”

The boot takes 470 litres or 480kg.

I loved it and could not find a particular element that jarred. Nice car. The CLA looks better in the metal than in these pictures.

Mercedes-Benz CLA dash

Mercedes-Benz CLA dash

The interior is both smart and suggests sportiness. Not a lot of space but enough and very well used. I did not like the “free standing” display which sticks out from the dash looking very much like a cheap Chinese part put in as an afterthought.  My son says:  “the stupid screen that looks out of place.” Shoddy, to say the least.

The instrument panel incorporates five round vents. The outer rings of the round vents have a high-quality electroplated silver-chrome finish.

The CLA is fitted with integral seats in the front and rear.

You can order the “AMG Line” equipment level. Here the emphasis is on the colour red: in the contrasting topstitching on the sports seats the multifunction sports steering wheel in nappa leather with flattened lower section, and the armrests. You will also get steel sports pedals with rubber studs.

This is the version we had.

There are three design packages, “Exclusive”, “AMG Exclusive” and “Night package” which offer further individualisation possibilities.

All CLA versions have electromechanical power steering, which makes possible various steering assistance functions controlled by the ECU, including countersinking when the car oversteers, corrective steering when one or more wheels have different levels of grip, reducing torque steer, compensating for camber.

The 2.2 litre turbo diesel produces a very useful 350Nm between 1 400 and 3 400 rpm and puts out 125 kW. Expect fuel consumption between 5 and 6 l/100km unless you have a heavy foot which will reward you with around 7l/100km. Top speed is rated 230km/h and the 0 to 100km/h time of 8.2 seconds is not to shabby.

The CLA drives as well as it looks. Behind the wheel you know you are driving a special little car. Well, not so little. She handles well, corners well and accelerates very joyfully. She sounds great too.

Disappointingly the CLA has run safe tyres and not a spare wheel to be seen. I personally do not like travelling on the open road without a spare wheel. Avoid back roads with this one.

Summary

A small luxury performance family sedan dressed up as a coupé. Like Mozart did with Opera, advancing their technical sophistication and emotional reach, so the Mercedes engineers and designers have produced a breath of fresh air.

The CLA as tested cost: R450 000

The range: CLA 200 R383 900, CLA 250 SportAMATIC R529 800, CLA 220 CDi R438 800, CLA 45 AMG R694 700.

Also consider a  BMW 1 Series (120d or 125i),  Audi A3 Sedan A3 2.0TDI SE, Lexus CT200h or Volvo S60.

Warranty – Two years unlimited distance and 60 000km maintenance plan.

Mercedes-Benz CLA 220

Mercedes-Benz CLA 220

Opel Meriva 1.4T Enjoy review

Opel Meriva 1.4T Enjoy

Opel Meriva

Opel Meriva

This ‘new’ Meriva is very practical and it has the typical Opel oomph. The little turbo motor performs.

Looking at the car it looks pretty normal, almost boring. Until you discover what it is all about. The Meriva is a very clever package.

The engineers thought long and hard and have designed a delightful and practical car that delivers much more than it promises at first glance.

The latest Meriva will make a good mom’s taxi, but at the same time would be a brilliant commercial taxi. Just like the London taxi’s of yore the rear doors open forward.

This turbo petrol Meriva packs quite a punch. It has loads of power especially after the turbo kicks in.

Opel Meriva is a box of surprises.

Opel Meriva is a box of surprises.

The interior is very well laid out and is a pleasant place to spend some time in.

For example. The centre bin between the front seats can be moved forward on rails to form an excellent arm rest. It also reveals extra storage for the rear occupants. There is a modular multi-level storage system with up to 32 storage possibilities.

The FlexSpace® seat system is brilliant.

The boot goes from biggish to minivan size. There is a flat ‘secret’ tray below the goods area, about 10 cm deep. All the stuff that normally lies around in a boot can be safely stowed in here out of the way and hidden from prying eyes. The rear seats fold completely flat to form a flat load bed behind the front row of seats. They even provide a carpet which covers the whole area. Its brilliant.

Opel_Meriva_dash

I found the clutch awful at first. Its hard and unforgiving. After a bit of stop start travel my knee was sore. Three days later I was used to it.

The Meriva is fitted with Straight Line Stability Control (SLS), which recognises any tendency towards instability under braking and adjusts the brake pressure for optimum straight-line braking stability under all road conditions.

The car also has Cornering Brake Control (CBC), which improves stability in bends by reducing the brake pressure of individual wheels.

It even has Drag Torque Control (DTC), which prevents loss of grip due to engine brake torque on icy roads if you live in the Malutis.

The Ecotec engine is very fuel efficient. GM claims 6.7l/100km. Work on 7 to 7.5l/100/km.

Opel_Meriva_boot

Also look at the Chevrolet Orlando,Toyota Avanza, Suzuki Ertiga and Nissan NV200.

The base price is R261 500. Warranted by General Motors South Africa for 5 years or 120,000 kilometres.