Mitsubishi Pajero 3.2-litre 16-valve DI-DC review

Mitsubishi Pajero 3.2-litre 16-valve DI-DC

The evergreen “Pagy” has been with us a long time, winning the Dakar 12 times along the way. The fourth generation Pajero was launched in 2006, but is more of a revision of the third generation which was launched in 1999. It is tough, robust and can really go anywhere.

Mitsubishi Pajero SWB

The Pajero comes in two sizes. The first one we are reviewing is the smaller Short Wheel Base version with two doors. This makes it very wieldy, but access and the view from the back seats is an issue. The boot space is tiny. Think of it as the true successor of the WWII jeep. Just much more capable, better equipped and luxurious.

In 2015 the Pajero was updated with a new front fascia with a revised grille, LED daytime running lights and a new spare tyre cover as well as infotainment system. A thorough facelift which brought it up to date.

Pajero LWB leg-room is generous

The highlight of Pajero is the Super Select 4WD system, which means you can leave the Pajero in 4WD mode all the time if you wish. Activating the Pajero’s high-range four-wheel drive leaves the differential open so that the car can be driven on all surfaces. You can also select only the rear wheels, locked 4×4 high range or low range. The rear differential can be manually locked at the push of a button.

With 235mm of ground clearance, a 700mm wading depth, 36.6/25 degree approach/departure angles, and wheels with excellent articulation you get a virtually unstoppable machine. The front end features independent suspension with a double-wishbone coil spring and stabiliser bar. The rear features independent suspension with a multi-link coil spring arrangement with stabiliser bar.

You’d need to be doing something silly to get into trouble with the Pajero off-road, such is the system’s competence.

Pajero interior

The Pajero remains a favourite with caravanners and boaters with its 3000kg tow rating (with electric brakes, 750 kg unbraked), which is more than enough to tow a fair-sized van or boat for weekends away.

The interior is just right and is fully equipped. The dash has been upgraded and now offers a cluster above the infotainment system with a dot matrix display that incorporates the trip computer and four-wheel drive information. The speedometer and tachometer cluster features drivetrain information, along with the vehicle’s vital running status.

This Pajero is great for cruising and brilliant in sand, over rocks, whatever you throw it at.

For  R689 900 you get the car and a 5 year 100 000 km maintenance plan as well as a 3 year 100 000 km warranty. But:

Mitsubishi holiday promotion here.

Mitsubishi Pajero LWB

The normal or Long Wheel Base 4 door version is such a pleasure to go on tour with. You can throw anything at it, and it will just simply shrug it off. It is slightly old school, but in the best possible way.

The ground clearance is also 235mm, and the rest of the specs just like the SWB model.

The lights have been updated and it now has rear parking camera and sensors. The infotainment system has been brought up to date with inter alia Bluetooth and Handsfree Voice Control integrated into the Pajero’s multi-function steering wheel.

Mitsubishi Pajero LWB facelifted rear

I think the LWB  model is the one to get.

A completely new Pajero is expected later in 2018.

Get the latest prices here.

See review off-road in 2015.

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Mazda 2 1.5 DE Hazumi 6AT 5DR review

Mazda2

Mazda2

Mazda2

Mazda are back with a bang in South Africa. Good looking cars. Great new engines. All the safety kit.
The Mazda2 we are reviewing here has big shoes to fill. Remember the two versions of 323 we had back in the day? Good cars which seemingly lasted for ever. This new 4th generation model was Car of the Year in Japan in its launch year.

Mazda2

Mazda2

Our test car had a beautiful colour, Smoky Rose, better in the flesh than in a photo. The same can be said about the exterior of this Mazda2. Very pleasing to look at. Mazda calls their design philosophy ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’ design. They kind of get it right, I think.

The interior is neat, uncluttered and smart, with a few luxury aspects like red stitching on the dash cowling and soft touch where it matters. The half leather trim seats are comfortable and quite adjustable. A premium cabin that not only looks good, but feels right and exudes quality.
So it looks right, but how does it perform?

The 6-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic transmission couples directly with the engine and combines the best aspects of a conventional automatic, continuously variable (CVT) and dual clutch transmissions. It is brilliant and points to the future.

mazda2_16_rear

This model has a very modern up-to-date robust 1.5 turbodiesel engine which develops 250Nm of torque and 77kW of power. Mazda claims a fuel consumption of 4.4L/100km and I got a very creditable 5.8L/100km in real life driving. Acceleration and top speed is fine but is definitely geared to economy. The chassis has been well set up and delivers great handling and superb road holding. As with Mazda in general, it’s a fun car to drive, and it has all the safety kit.

MZD Connect is the Mazda infotainment system. It is a complete system with a multi function commander rotary control just like on swanky German cars, a 7” touchscreen, Bluetooth and USB connections, clear, intuitive menu, several other functions and even includes internet radio (Pandora, sticher and aha). Pretty nifty. Easy to use and works well.

The Mazda 2 1.5 DE Hazumi 6AT 5DR as tested costs R290 700. The range starts at R204 100 for the 1.5 Active, which has the very good Skyactive petrol engine and feels seriously quick.

Mazda price list here. 

I would rather get the Mazda2 1.5 petrol Individual automatic at R227 200 if I was buying a B class car now. If you need a slightly bigger car have a look at the Ford Focus 1.0T.

You get a 3-year unlimited kilometre factory warranty , a 3-year service plan and a 5-year Corrosion Warranty.

Other cars in this segment include the brilliant Honda Jazz, Ford Fiesta and Focus 1.0T, Kia Rio, Hyundai i30, Toyota Yaris, VW Polo and Renault Clio.

Mazda2

Mazda2

Mitsubishi ASX review

Mitsubishi ASX

The ASX fits right into the small familiy SUV / crossover segment which includes the Mazda CX-3, Suzuki Vitara, Honda HR-V, Nissan Qashqai, Ford EcoSport, Renault Captur and Audi Q2.

So, lots of cometition but somehow the ASX stands out with the CX-3 and possibly the Qashqai.

I liked the ASX. Right size, right performance, right fit and finish.

Nic Campbell, General Manager of Mitsubishi Motors South Africa, says: “We have to address the current affordability needs of our customers. Today’s economy often forces buyers to opt for lower-spec vehicles, but our new ASX 2.0 GL CVT derivative offers the comfort and efficiency of Mitsubishi’s CVT transmission as well as its impressive standard specification in a truly attractive package. When you consider Mitsubishi’s world-class safety ratings, the new ASX 2.0 GL CVT is easily the best sub R400 000 vehicle on the market.”

He has a point or two.

The updated interior has also gone upmarket.

Luxury features include Bluetooth with voice control, cruise control, a multi-function steering wheel, electric windows, air conditioning, rain-sensing wipers, rear park distance control and automatic lights as standard on all models. GLX and GLS derivatives offer a full-length panoramic glass roof, keyless operation, a full colour touch-screen infotainment system, heated leather seats in the front, and an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, as well as a rear-view camera.

The new Mitsubishi ASX line-up consists of five derivatives all featuring the frugal and  reliable 2.0 MIVEC petrol engine. This engine is equipped with Mitsubishi’s  Valve Timing Electronic Control System (MIVEC) and multi-point injection that produces 110 kW at 6 000 rpm and 197 Nm of torque at 4 200 rpm. Power is delivered to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox or CVT transmission with six pre-programmed gear steps.

The system works well.

Mitsubishi ASX interior (Photo: Danita du Plessis)

The ASX is one of the safest vehicles in its class and has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. All ASX models feature Mitsubishi’s proprietary Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) body shell, seven airbags, ISOFIX child restraint mountings and a range of dynamic safety systems that include ABS, electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and emergency brake assistance (BAS).

In addition to the above-mentioned specification, the Mitsubishi GLS derivatives feature LED running lights, electronic active stability and traction control (ASTC) and hill start assist (HSA) as standard.

The car feels planted on the road and has the power to do what you expect. In short, it is a highly competent package and pleasant to drive.

Prices

2.0 MIVEC GL 5-speed M/T R364,900
2.0 MIVEC GL 6-speed CVT R399,900
2.0 MIVEC GLX 5-speed M/T R399,900
2.0 MIVEC GLS 5-speed M/T RF R414,900
2.0 MIVEC GLS 6-speed CVT RF R434,900

ASX is sold with a comprehensive 5-year / 90 000 km service plan and 3-year / 100 000 km manufacturer’s warranty.

 

 

Suzuki Baleno 1.4 GLX M

Suzuki Baleno 1.4 GLX M

Suzuki Baleno

The Suzuki Baleno is a completely new car on a completely new Suzuki platform in South Africa. Despite being larger than the Swift, the Baleno is 11% lighter, with a kerb mass of just 915 kg. As a result it has sprightly performance.

It is manufactured exclusively in India, by Maruti Suzuki since 2015, as a five-door hatchback, for 30 markets around the world.

Suzuki Baleno side view

For now only the well known and reliable K14B 1,4-litre normally aspirated engine is offered in SA, but this may be a good thing as it delivers surprisingly nippy performance in this body and has less bits that can go wrong. The drag coefficient of just 0,299, makes it the most aerodynamic production model Suzuki available and helps the performance.

It is a good looking car with the typical modern Suzuki nose including HID projector elements and LED daytime running lights and low-mounted recessed fog lamps, but it is not as “sexy” as the Swift.

Baleno’s interior is 87 mm longer than that of the Swift giving it class-leading rear legroom and the rear bench seat is wide enough for three occupants. The well executed cabin has very good space for this size of car and very good noise suppression. A tall person can sit in the back quite comfortably.

It is typically Japanese in style and is pleasant and ergonomic. The dash houses a 6,2-inch TFT colour screen in the GLX models and a comprehensive small display in front of the driver with trip data.

It has a deep luggage compartment with a good at 355 normally and can be extended to 756 litres with the rear seated folded flat.

Suzuki Baleno

There are two trim levels, the entry-level GL and the well equipped GLX, which comes with a choice of five-speed manual manual with an excellent power-to-weight ratio of 76,5 kW/ton or four-speed automatic.

The Baleno rides on an independent front suspension consisting of MacPherson struts, coil springs, dampers and an anti-roll bar in front, combined with a torsion beam, coil springs, dampers and an anti-roll bar at the rear which allows it to soak up road irregularities and gives it good handling performance.

Suzuki claims average fuel consumption for the combined cycle comes to 5,1 Litres/100 km for the manual model, and 5,4 Litres/100 km for the automatic version. I actually got 5.4 Litres/100km on my usual test cycle.

I liked the car and would recommend it because of the big boot, good interior space and frugal but sprightly performance. Suzuki have a winner on their hands.

Priced from R199 900 to R244 900.

The new Swift, still to be launched  has a 1,2-litre Dualjet engine and appears to be smaller and sportier than the Baleno.

The competition includes the smaller Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta as well as the  Hyundai i20, Kia Rio and Renault Clio.

The new Baleno is covered by a standard three-year/100 000 km warranty, as well as a four-year/60 000 km service plan. Services are at 15 000 km/12 month intervals.

 

Golf 7 GTI facelifted

I get why South Africans generally love the GTI.

It looks so good. The body, but especially inside. Dare I say sexy? It handles sublimely. It has oodles of power. Its a really “lekker” car.

VW Golf GTI

Our test car was a very good looking white silver metallic, with red GTI highlights around the lights for example and red stitching on the black leather upholstery. A classy package.

Oh, the sound. VW have engineered a very growly exhaust note that was really pleasant to me. Not too loud, unless the pedal has been pressed to the metal, then its music to a petrolhead’s ears.

The recently released Golf Mk VII facelifted model must be the “best” sporty Golf VW has made for the driving enthusiast who needs to go to work and go shopping in his car with his family.

You can understand why VW have been building them for 43 years and now at an average rate of one every 40 seconds. With global sales now well in excess of 33 million (nearly 350 750 sold in South Africa) since its launch where it enjoys the highest pro rata sales, GTI to normal Golf, of all markets in the world.

Golf GTI rear

The new GTI now has similar power output as the outgoing GTI Performance at 169kW. The 0 to 100km/h classic sprint is achieved in 6.4 seconds and the top speed is limited to248km/h. With DSG transmission, VW claim the GTI has a combined fuel consumption of 6.4 l/100km, but you will battle to get that unless you have a feather like foot. On one stint of spirited driving I got 12L/100km, but expect around 8L/100km provided you keep things very ‘pedestrian’. My average consumption was 10.6L/100km. The long term average (1964km) of the car is 9.7L/100km.

The 1.4-litre TSI with 92kW(5000 to 6000rpm) has been retained for the normal model. This lively engine delivers its 200 Nm maximum torque over a large speed range from 1,400 to 4,000 rpm. The Golf 1.4 TSI has a claimed combined fuel consumption is just 5.2 l/100km.

VW’s fancy Composition Media Radio /CD system is available standard on the GTI and optional on the Trendline and Comfortline models. The design has a clear glass surface and its integrated 8-inch colour display has been completely restructured. It gets finger prints quickly and looks dirty quite easily, but it works well.

Golf interior 2017

Five different views are available for the 12.3-inch Active InfoDisplay which is a fully digitalised instrument cluster with a whole load of interactive functions. It replaces the normal analogue instruments. This is the same brilliant concept which is very well executed which we have previously seen in Audis.

Taken with the digital instrument cluster, the big infotainment display becomes a little superfluous I think.
If you select the fancy key option you get to keep your key in your pocket. Entry and locking becomes keyless and you get a start button.
You don’t get a lot of space in a Golf, but it is not bad. Compact without being cramped. What you do get is a very good interior, both in design and execution. With the GTI you also get very satisfying performance.
I found the driver’s seat a little difficult to set up, but once settled it is quite comfortable and gives you good, especially lateral support.

The long list of optional features that are on offer include swivelling towbar, panoramic sunroof, 8.0-inch Composition Media Radio/CD system, 9.2-inch Discover Pro Navigation System, Active Info Display, Rear Assist with rear view camera, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Assist and Autonomous Emergency Braking System, Park Distance Control (front and rear), Park Assist, KESSY Keyless Entry and Start, Adaptive Chassis Control including driver selection (only available on GTI).

The basic sticker price of the GTI we drove is R545 800. Options fitted to the test car are: metallic paint, panoramic sunroof, KESSY advanced key, rear assist, DynAudio sound package, navigation pack, adaptive chassis control, park assist, blind spot detection, active info display, front assist and fancy Santiago alloy rims.

The cost of these accessories is at least R73 000. So the price as tested is R619 000, or more.

The Golf range is as follows:
1.0 TSI 81kW Trendline Manual R289 900
1.0 TSI 81kW Comfortline Manual R304 200
1.4 TSI 92kW Comfortline DSG R356 400
2.0 TSI 169kW GTI DSG R545 800

The new range comes standard with a 5 year/90 000km Service Plan, 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty. Service Interval is 15 000km.

With a budget of R612 000 you could get yourself one of the following: Audi A5 2.0 TDI, Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0, BMW 320I, Mercedes Benz C250, or my pick, the Volvo S60.
As far as I am concerned the 1.4 TSI 92kW Comfortline DSG hits the sweet spot at R356 400 without any extras. But you can get away with under R400 000 including some optional items.

Gumtree WRX South Africa 2017

FIA World Rallycross – Gumtree World RX of South Africa 2017

What a weekend. RX2 must become our primary motorsport formula or class. Imagine tracks in Cape Town, Swartkops, PE and Durban with a national championship of RX2 and a support class of 1.6 ‘rally’ cars. The crowds will come back to motorsport in their droves.

WRX Cape Town 2017

The event on Saturday and Sunday 11 and 12 November was an outstanding success.

Mark Cronje in Quali 3 of WRX Cape Town.

Our two local drivers did us proud. Mark Cronje got 98 points and Ashley Haigh-Smith 95. Both drivers received tremendous support on their World RX debuts but neither driver made the semi-finals. It is seriaaasly tough out there.

Ashley said to me that he did not realise before this week what a massive jump it is to WRX. He loves it. He said it is by far the best racing he has ever done.

Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson entered the record books as the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden driver won the first ever World RX event staged in South Africa. Former World RX Champion Mattias Ekstrom finished third and consequently secured the runner-up spot in the 2017 championship after a season-long battle with Petter Solberg. Team Peugeot-Hansen’s Timmy Hansen claimed second at this weekend’s Gumtree World RX of South Africa – the 12th and final round of this year’s FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy.

 

Gumtree WRX Cape Town 2017, enjoying a little rest.

In the final round of the RX2 International Series presented by Cooper Tires Frenchman Cyril Raymond rounded off a near-perfect season by taking his sixth win in the highly competitive seven-event feeder series. Great Britain’s Dan Rooke had a troubled final when he rolled his car on lap two, causing the race to be red-flagged. Despite this mishap, Rooke secured second in the 2017 standings. Sondre Evjen and Tanner Whitten finished second and third in Cape Town. Belgium’s Guillaume De-Ridder claimed third in the end of year leaderboard.

“It’s fantastic to wrap up the teams’ and drivers’ championship and to also take the win at the final round of the season,” grinned 2017 World RX Champion Kristoffersson who won a staggering seven out of 12 events this season. “The team has worked so hard this year and ten podium results is credit to how fantastic everyone has been. Obviously to break records in World RX is an amazing feeling but to have won the World Championship is so unbelievably special. It was a good weekend all round – I had a slow puncture in the semi-final but I got a really good launch in the final and when I got clear space I was able to manage the gap back from Timmy and Mattias, as well as manage the tyres well. Thanks to everyone for such a memorable season – I’m really looking forward to being back with VW in 2018.”

WRX Cape Town, Hansen in the lead.

Runner-up Hansen added: “This has been one of the best weekends I’ve had this year and it’s great to finish on a high including my two qualifying wins. I really wanted to take the victory for Peugeot and this weekend we were so close – I gave it everything I had in the final but I lost a little bit too much in the first lap to be able to get ahead of Johan. The 208 has been fantastic all year and it worked especially well at this track.”

WRX semi-finals

Ekstrom’s reactions were fastest of today’s six finalists, rewarding him with the final Monster Energy Super Charge Award of 2017. Despite losing his World RX crown to Kristoffersson, Ekstrom praised the new World Champion.

“Sometimes you’re in front and sometime you’re behind – that’s just how it goes and Johan definitely deserves the win today and the World Championship too. Timmy was really fast this weekend too, but to be honest, everybody wants to win – World RX has now reached a level where everyone will battle for everything.”

When asked about the new Cape Town RX event, Ekstrom praised the enthusiasm of the South African fans. “The grandstands were full this weekend and the atmosphere and support from everyone here was amazing.”

Solberg finished fourth in Cape Town and finished the season third in the driver standings – five points adrift of Ekstrom. “Of course it’s a little bit disappointing not to take the silver,” admitted Solberg. “I am so proud of what we have done. Johan has broken so many records this year and the whole team, everybody in PSRX Volkswagen Sweden has worked and played so hard – this weekend and this year is because of them and I can’t thank them all enough.”

Damn barrier bale got in the way.

MJP Racing Team Austria’s Timo Scheider’s rounded out the top five in Cape Town after an impressive rookie season at the wheel of his Ford Fiesta. Kevin Hansen finished sixth, the Swede having retired shortly after the start with transmission problems.

In what marked the final event for the Hoonigan Racing Division, America’s Ken Block showed fantastic pace. He led the event overnight and finished second in semi-final one but was later disqualified as his car was found to be underweight.

Nine-time WRC Champion Sebastien Loeb retired on the final lap of today’s second semi-final but rounded off the season fourth in the overall standings – 13 points ahead of his team-mate Hansen who ends the year in fifth place.

Hansen leads Solberg.

Paul Bellamy, World RX Managing Director for IMG, concluded: “Our first ever event in Cape Town was a resounding success – we’ve had over 27,000 people at Killarney this weekend and they were all treated to World Championship motorsport at its best. I think we’ve won over a lot of new support during our time in South Africa and the crowd really helped make this weekend a memorable event.

Brilliant start for Cronje.

Tickets for 2018 are on sale from tomorrow which will give people plenty of time to plan next year’s rallycross weekend. I’d like to thank the organisers and volunteers for all their hard work in putting on a great event and also to the City of Cape Town for its support in making this happen. I’m also very thankful that our sponsors and other commercial partners shared our vision and were so supportive of the inaugural Gumtree World RX of South Africa.

This weekend was just the start of what I hope is a long and fruitful relationship for World RX in South Africa. We finish the season on a high and congratulations to Johan Kristoffersson and PSRX Volkswagen Sweden for their incredible season and to the rest of the teams for their continued support.”

 

 

 

Suzuki Grand Vitara 2.4 Summit AT

I first drove the bigger 4×4 Suzuki, the Grand Vitara, at the Bass Lake 4×4 off-road academy.

It was a case of: Love at first obstacle. The car is just so impressive off-road.

I loved the Grand Vitara so much I bought one for my wife. A bit like the guy who bought his wife a power drill.

Fortunately my wife loves the car as well, preferring to use the GV even in town.

Suzuki Grand Vitara near the Caledon Wind Farm

Australia’s caradvice.com says: “ small-budget, mid-sized SUV practicality with big off-roading capabilities… best dual-purpose 4×4 SUV. ”

That about sums it up. I would add that it has a sort of old school charm.

Its three big selling points are:

off-road performance,

car like size and handling in town and

excellent price.

It is a neat looking slightly boxy SUV. The Summit model comes with 225/60 R18 road orientated tyres which look good in town, but I would have preferred 65R17 ATs. The gearbox in the Suzuki Grand Vitara is a brilliant 4 mode full low range 4×4 unit which reminds one of the Pajero.

Ground clearance is 200mm, but you can add 40mm spacers and arrival and departure angles are good. So although the normally aspirated petrol engine only delivers 122kW and 225Nm, the kerb weight of 1670kg, shortish wheelbase, giving a good breakover angle, and gearing allows you to go anywhere effortlessly whether cruising on the highway or crawling up a rocky Richtersveld track.

Sand is a breeze. I have never felt the engine is a bit ‘pap’ or experienced a situation where the car has not had enough power. This includes a trip up to Kgalagadi drving on their 4×4 dune crossing trails.

Suzuki Grand Vitara Summit at the Tesselaarsdal junction.

Expect fuel consumption around the 11 litre per kilometre mark, dropping slightly on the open road.
In town it is as nippy as a small sedan, but with the added convenience of the height. It really is easy to drive and park. The boot is not very big when the rear bench seat is up but in the real world I found I always had enough space. When my wife and I go on long camping trips we take out either both rear seats or one of them (it has a 40/60 split) which gives you plenty of space.

Visibility forward and to the rear is clear and superb. The seats are comfortable and the driving position excellent. While the interior is not as good or modern as the Mazda CX-5 for example, it is functional and well put together. The rear parking camera is useful.

The Grand Vitara is big enough for 4 adults to tour in comfort.

It is a genuine 4×4 with a full low range transfer case. All the other vehicles of its size and price offer at best all wheel drive in normal high ratio only. The Grand Vitara has no direct competitor, but the two closest alternatives are the Toyota Prado and Mitsubishi Pajero SWB.

The GV model range starts atR369 900. Click here for prices and specs.

The model as tested, the top of the range Summit 2.4 A, is a very affordable R459 900.

The Grand Vitara is one of those models which should sell much better than it does. It is really far country capable but wieldy and small enough to be city friendly.

This Suzuki comes with a 6 year or 90 000km service plan and a 3 year or 100 000km warranty.