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

 

 

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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.

Citroën DS4 VTi 120 Style review

Citroën DS4 VTi 120 Style

Citroën DS4 VTi 120 Style

Citroën DS4 VTi 120 Style

Style. This car has style. In fact, she is a stunner. The DS4 just looks sooo good, inside and outside. It really looks like a million bucks in the metal. Pictures do not do it justice. It as if it has been sculpted out of metal.

It is a pity therefore that it does not quite deliver on its promise. Don’t get me wrong. It is a pleasant car to be in and to drive. It just is not the performance car it promises to be from outside.

I could not fault the interior, especially the dash and front seats. It is smart, functional, comfortable and exudes Gallic style. There are a few small niggles though, more of which later. The overall impression is one of quiet luxury.

The DS range has all sorts of tech aids. Blind spot monitoring, extra light when cornering, sound system which adjusts itself to the ambient noise and so on.

Design

Citroën DS4 VTi 120 Style

Citroën DS4 VTi 120 Style

The exterior is stunning. There are very few cars more handsome than the DS4. She is attractive from any angle.

The three quarter view is near perfect.

The VTi 120i, the model we dove, accelerates leisurely through the gears and from a stop. We assume that at altitude the performance would be a little lethargic to say the least. The turbo diesel model packs quite a punch though. If you live on the Highveld consider the diesel or the 2.0 petrol models.

The windscreen extends far up into the roof. There are two sun screens and sliding panels.

The windscreen extends far up into the roof. There are two sun screens and two sliding panels.

Niggles

This car is very good, but not perfect.

The rear windows cannot open and legroom is limited. Space at the back seat is a little cramped. It needs to be thought of as a big two seater with a huge parcel shelf rather than a four seater.

A big problem in summer is the metal bits on the steering wheel and gear knob. They get very hot, making it awkward to change gear or even steer.

Speaking of heat. The air-conditioner does cool the car down eventually but is not a very powerful unit. It blows cool rather than cold.

Summary

Retail price as tested is R340 900. The Sport pack adds R15 000.

Citroën DS4 VTi 120 Style

Citroën DS4 VTi 120 Style

The top model is the automatic diesel HDi 160 Sport at R383 900. The best buy is probably the THP 200 Sport at R370 900.

The 5 year or 100 000km maintenance top-up plan is R24 500.

The warranty is for 3 years or 100 000km and a service plan for 5 years or 100 000km is included.

 

 

Citroën C4 Aircross HDI review

Citroen Aircross Diesel 004 Citroën C4 Aircross HDI

Interesting cars. Citroëns.

Take the Aircross.

 

The Aircross is a very economical, smallish, high riding station wagon. The ideal car for business and family. Although it is a small station wagon it looks like an SUV.

The Aircross is about versatility. It has very good use of space so for example with the rear seats in place you get 384 litres of boot. With the rear seats folded forwards additional loading volume is available.

There is a choice of 2.0petrol, 1.6 turbo diesel, manual or CVT. You also get a CVT petrol 4×4.

Citroen Aircross diesel

Citroen Aircross diesel

All Aircross models come with high specification levels including multifunction trip computer, daylight running lights, multifunction steering wheel EBD and front airbags. The basic trim is called Attraction and is well specced. The top Exclusive trim is fully equipped from Xenon lights to climate controlAs with all Citroëns theses cars come with a full safety suite and five star rating.

The interior is very pleasant. The front seats are fully adjustable and comfortable. There is a certain flare and almost charm about the cabin. . Needless to say there are numerous storage compartments and cup holders.

The Aircross is a handsome car with beautifully balanced lines.

Citroën claim a combined fuel consumption under 5 litres/100km for the diesel. Expect under 7 l/100km, even in town. The petrol models are also very frugal and should give you a figure around 8 l/100km.

With the automatic (CVT) model acceleration is laboured unless you go to manual mode. The ride quality is betwixt and between. Because the Aircross rides a little higher than a normal car it tends to sway and pitch a bit to the point where one could feel carsick. I feel the ride borders on harsh and the tyres generate more road noise than they should.

Citroen Aircross diesel

Citroen Aircross diesel

It is an excellent size car. Not too small, not too big. A good compromise between an economical size and a useful one.

The range starts with the 2.0 2wd Attraction petrol atR308 900. The base automatic is R355 900. AWD starts at R382 900 for the HDi 115 Comfort diesel. The top model is the 2.0i 4wd Exclusive automatic at R405 900.

The competition includes all the SUV crossover little station wagons like the Ford Kuga, Renault Duster, VW Tiguan and so on. It is not off-road capable.

All models come standard with 3 year or 100 000km warranty and 5 year or 100 000 service plan.

Sandero Stepway 2014

The new Sandero Stepway has just been launched.

Sandero Stepway 2014

Sandero Stepway 2014

With a recommended price of R155 900 the Stepway certainly gives you bang for your buck.

Its got the same new generation three cylinder Turbo 66kW power plant as the other Sanderos.

It is basically a Dynamique, but has elevated ground clearance, 16” wheels, front and rear skid plates, roof rails, exclusive Azurite Blue colour and specific seat fabric.

The original Sandero Stepway sold over 3 000 sales per annum since 2012 placing it among the Top 10 variations on the SA market.

We hope to test it in June.

 

Honda Civic Dtec review

Honda Civic Dtec

Honda Civic Dtec

Honda Civic I-Dtec 1.6

The top of the range Honda Civic is sublime.

I admit I am slightly biased toward Honda. But still.

This turbo charged diesel does it for me. It is a normal useful everyday car on the one hand and it is a performance boy racer on the other just champing at the bit. Unleash it and you unlock automotive  bliss.

If you have the extra cash and you want a pocket rocket on occasion but a civilised car the rest of the time this Civic will deliver. I loved it.

Many members of the public and friends spontaneously commented on the car’s good looks. The guys liked the rims too. So take it from us. She is a looker.

The lines and dimensions gel. She looks right.

Honda Civic showing off her flowing lines.

Honda Civic showing off her flowing lines.

But how does she go?

I got 5.7l/100km on average for the week she was with me. During the car’s week I drove her she rode up parking garages, pulled away in little acceleration tests and topped 180km/h. I am confident you will achieve sub 6l/100km figures.

Acceleration, even in fifth is good enough to overtake on the open road in normal conditions. In lower gears the torque is very satisfying. Thank you.

The torque maxes out at 300Nm, and with the relatively light body you can imagine the pulling power of this 1.6 turbo diesel.

I topped 180km/h without trying.

The brakes, steering, road feel all result in a true driving experience. Man, it’s fun to drive.

Interior

After you get used to the slit dash, the interior of this car impresses with its well considered layout and clever use of space. With the rear seats down you get 1200litres packing space and boot only is 467 litres.

The rear seats can be tipped up cinema style to form a second storage area in the rear cabin. They also have a one-motion, dive-down feature (split 60:40) to create a flat loading space. This is a luxury car and comes with all the expected goodies.

Seats are very comfortable.

Exterior

The comments I got were overwhelmingly positive.

Pretty butt.

Pretty butt.

Driving experience

The Dtec Civic is very much a driver’s car.

Awesome acceleration, great road holding and brilliant handling.

Summary

The Civic looks like a hot two door sports hatch. It is hot and it is sporty, but it is actually a four door and very practical.

Price as tested is R324 500. The 1.8i Elegance costs R270 500 or R284 600 in automatic, the executive R24 000 more.

Also look at the Golf GTi, Opel Astra Sport, Renault Megane, Ford Focus.

Warranty is 3 years or 100 000km while the service plan is for 5 years or 90 000 km.

Civic_butt_side