Nissan X-trail 1.6 dci Tekna 4WD review

The X-trail has been a firm favourite for many years. And rightly so. It filled the niche and largely created the soft SUV segment, although it has now become a crossover.

Nissan X-trail in Onrus

I reviewed the Alfa Romeo Stelvia at the beginning of January. Many people stared at the car as I drove past. Admiring the really beautiful lines of the Stelvia, which can be described as a work of art, on wheels. Interestingly the new ‘facelifted’ Nissan X-trail, which I have been driving this week got as many , if not more ‘stop and stares’. Especially men. They looked at the car and when they saw the badge they smiled, I suppose in approval.

Inside the X-trail is in its own way every bit as good as the Stelvia.

Nissan call it a crossover. No claims to real SUV ability. I like that, even though it has arguably more off tar capability than many “SUVs”. Nissan are a market leader and pioneer in this segment and it shows.
This new medium Nissan crossover has the class leading cabin and dash. Design, layout, equipment, materials, fit and finish are all top class in the range topping Tekna configuration, which I tested.
If you are looking for a premium crossover that offers comfort, versatility and smart technology, look no further. It is really that good.

I particularly liked the data display in front of the driver which has 7 different pages which you scroll through with a button on the multifunction leather steering wheel. The bigger display is only used for the maps, setting your radio and phone up, manoeuvring and cameras.

X-trail has the following new generation tech:
Blind spot intervention which alerts the driver to the presence of vehicles in blind spots diagonally behind the car.
Lane intervention which alerts the driver when it detects that the X-Trail is straying from its lane.
Cross Traffic Alert which can detect and warn the driver of vehicles that are approaching behind the X-Trail, especially when parking or leaving parking.
Emergency Braking which uses radar technology to keep an eye on your speed and proximity to the vehicle in front of you, and will alert the driver before engaging the brakes.
Forward Collision Warning helps alert drivers of an impending collision with a slower moving or stationary car.
Auto Headlights which automatically changes between high and low beams when it detects oncoming vehicles at night.
Around View Monitor with moving object detection – a support technology that assists drivers to park more easily by providing a better understanding of the vehicle’s surroundings.

Nissan X-trail

Nissan claims a combined consumption of 5,3 L/100km. I got about that on the open road, but a still very good, 7.6 L/100 km in general urban use including a trip to Onrus where I took the pictures. The 1.6 turbodiesel puts out 320 Nm, which means you have oodles of power, which combined with good road holding, a well balanced steering and a slick gearshift makes for a very good touring and town car. Why spend more to have a fancy badge on the bonnet? Did I mention that the seats are really comfortable over longer distances?

Even cats like the new X-trail

In addition the new X-trail is fitted with active trace control, active ride control, all the latest braking tech and a lovely suspension setup. You can even go a little off the beaten path. The car has 209mm ground clearance and 50/50 4×4 lock to get you over fairly gnarly routes, but it is not a hardcore offroader, although it will tackle small dunes with aplomb.

The boot, with the sears up holds 550 litres and a full spare. With the 60/40 seats flat at least double that. Space, in general, in this X-trail is generous. There is a 7-seat version available, but the additional seats are for GOT’s Tyrion Lannister and his ilk or primary school children, but you will have almost no boot.

The new Nissan X-Trail comes with Nissan’s class-leading 6-year/150 000km warranty, a 3-year/90 000km service plan and 24-hour roadside assist.
Service intervals are at 15 000km and the new X-Trail is priced as follows:
2.0 Visia R 369 900; 2.0 Visia 7s R 374 900
1.6 dci Visia 7s R 392 900
2.5 Acenta CVT 4WD R 425 900; 2.5 Acenta CVT 4WD 7s R 429 900; 2.5 Acenta Plus CVT 4WD 7s R 444 900
1.6 dci Tekna 4WD R 457 900 (which we tested)
2.5 Tekna CVT 4WD 7s R 469 900
The best value is possibly the 2.5 Acenta CVT 4WD at R 425 900.

The X-trail is bigger inside than most of its apparent price rivals, but also look at the similarly sized Suzuki Grand Vitara if you need real 4×4 ability, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, VW Tiguan and Toyota Rav4.

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Suzuki Ignis

Suzuki Ignis
Suzuki says the Ignis is “a small crossover with the big heart brings a breath of fresh air and innovation to the local small car market by linking the wieldy agility of a city runabout to the robust styling and stance of an all-terrainer.” It is a sort of small cheeky cross-over compact hatchback.

It is also safer than most of its competition, thanks to among others ABS and air bags.

Suzuki Ignis on Strand Beach.

Offered in GL and GLX versions, the Ignis features a spacious and well-equipped interior. Despite its compact exterior size, there is good legroom and headroom, while the boot offers 260 litres of cargo space, expandable to 469 litres with the rear seatback folded flat.
Standard items across all models include electric windows, remote central locking, air-conditioning, electric power steering, and an MP3-compatible CD sound system with USB port and 12V accessory power socket.
The bigger than you think interior is a funky modern space, with a two-tone black and white treatment creating a fresh ambience. The body colour is repeated in the door handles and the central tunnel.
Most functional items are standard with the options being mainly for style and individualisation. It also has more usable space than the competition.

Safety is a big plus with the Ignis, which has air bags, ABS and EBD brakes and proper safety elements like Total Effective Control Technology (TECT), which includes crumple zones that efficiently absorb the impact of a collision, a chassis that efficiently distributes the impact energy, and a rigid passenger safety cell.


With 180mm ground clearance and a power-to-weight ratio of 71,65 kW/ton you can go places slightly off the tar road. I found the car fun to drive although the clutch is a bit soft and there is no self-centring for the steering. Even so, I liked it.

Suzuki claims consumption of 4.9L/100km with the sporty 1.2 litre 4 cyl motor which has a, to me, delightful growl and it is very frugal.
The Suzuki Ignis 1.2 GLX costs R189 900

This is one of the best little cars available locally. And its cheap as chips for what you are getting. I highly recommend it.

Warranty of 3 years or 100 000km and a 30 000km service plan.
The competition includes the Mazda2, Ford Figo, VW up!, Smart ForFour, Kia Picanto and Honda Brio.

Haval H6 Coupe review

The Haval H6 C ( the C stands for Coupe) fits into the medium-SUV (family car) category, which together with the small-SUV category are the fastest growing segments in the market. Its direct competition in size and space are Mazda CX-5, Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage or Hyundai Tucson and Toyota Rav 4. Its price competitors are the smaller Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, Ford Ecosport, Suzuki Vitara and Mazda CX-3 to mention a few.

Haval H6 C

The H6 C has a little ace up its sleeve. Pierre Leclercq, the designer of the original BMW X5, penned the H6 C, which does not look derivative, but has proportions and a silhouette that appear sophisticated. You could say a bit of Audi up front, Evoque at the back and Ford Kuga in the middle. The car looks good and is well designed.

Haval H6 C interior

Inside the car looks quietly upmarket and smart in a subdued way and appears well screwed together, with the impression of quality and sophistication, both in the materials used and the way it has been put together.
The rear legroom is generous, the split seatback folds flat easily and the back seat has more space than its rivals with comfortable reclining seats, ISOFIX anchors, rear aircon vents, reading lights, and nice materials in the door trims.
Standard features across the range include dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers. The mid- and top-spec models also each boast an eight-way, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, while the flagship Luxury derivative adds a panoramic sunroof and Xenon headlamps.
On the transmission tunnel it has an Audi-style toggle, gear-lever and buttons, in the dash a large touchscreen (although the infotainment system is a little under-whelming), a lovely leather steering wheel and well-bolstered seats together with loads of cup and bottle holders and places to keep things complete the very pleasant cabin. I think the sun screen in the roof may not quite be up to our summer sun.

Haval has worked hard with the H6C to improve comfort and NVH levels adding to the impression of quality. One thing bothers me. When the doors are open the grab-handle is too far away and you have to really stretch to reach out and close the door. This is something you will get used to.
The steering is not too light, so the car feels planted, but as caradvice.com says of the steering: “odd electro-assisted steering, which feels artificial and overly resistant on centre for our tastes.” I could not agree more.
The H6 just soaks up bumps and road irregularities as a result of the damper force and spring rates being just right, making the car ride well. The model we tested rides on 19 inch alloys wearing Cooper tire 225/55 radials, but base models have 17 inch wheels shod with 225/65 tyres. The spare is a spacesaver. Interestingly the H6 comes with a fire extinguisher in the boot.


A five-star C NCAP rating gives peace of mind. The top spec models get 6 airbags but all the models get ABS, EBD and so on.
The 2.0 litre turbo-petrol engine develops 140kW of power and a healthy 310Nm of torque giving it a claimed fuel consumption of 9.8 L/100 km but expect to average around 12 L/100 km in real driving conditions, so it is quite thirsty.
The six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox from Getrag is nicely matched to the engine, or you can opt for a six-speed manual gearbox. For now only the front wheel drive versions are available here.
I found the all-round performance to be good. This Haval is well engineered.

Haval H6 C side

Standard features across the range include dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers. The mid- and top-spec models also each boast an eight-way, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, while the flagship Luxury derivative adds a panoramic sunroof and Xenon headlamps.
The H6 C is available in three trim levels: City, Premium, and Luxury.
You will struggle to find a better-specced SUV than this in this price range, or even for R100k more.
The H6 C is a good car, well equipped and well priced. It appears to be well built too.
The prices are as follows:
2.0T MT City 4X2 – R329 900, 2.0T MT Premium 4X2 – R339 900, 2.0T MT Luxury 4X2 – R359 900, 2.0T DCT City 4X2 – R359 900, 2.0 DCT Premium 4×2 – R369 900
All H6 C’s have a very good five-year/100 000km warranty and a five-year/60 000km service plan.

Ford Everest 3.2 TDCi Limited 4×4 6AT

Ford Everest 3.2 TDCi Limited 4×4 6AT

The beast from big blue. Revisited

Ford Everest Ltd

Ford Everest Ltd

The model we tested has huge 20″ tyres which may slightly inhibit you in rough terrain. I drove it on soft sand and on a muddy Helderberg 4×4 trail and experienced some slipping on the steep wet sections due to the highway orientated tyres and the, in my opinion, too low profile tyres. But I could go anywhere and with the right tyres, effortlessly.

The engine is the same one as in the bakkie and pushes out 147kW of power and 470Nm of torque. The terrain management system lets you shift-on-the-fly to maximise traction and stability. With 225mm ground clearance, 800mm wading depth, low range and the electronic locking rear differential, going anywhere is just the push of a button away. The system automatically transfers torque between the front and rear wheels with the most grip to provide maximum traction on and off-road.

Ford Everest Interior

Ford have put in Pull-Drift Compensation technology which measures the driver’s steering input, adapts to changing road conditions and helps compensate for slight directional shifts caused by factors such as crowned road surfaces or steady crosswinds. This together with the Watt’s linkage suspension and a silky smooth gearbox makes for an extremely competent ride. Much better than the bakkie, especially on fast gravel roads.

To get a better picture of this slightly bigger car I got my wife to drive it a bit. Here is what Danita has to say:
When I first set eyes on this vehicle I was quite intimidated by its bulk, so my immediate response was a bit on the negative side. I have made up my mind that this was a perfect example of the car that I would NEVER buy.
I nevertheless looked forward to a morning drive on sand, followed by a bit of 4×4.
We started to take pictures and the monster turned out to be quite handsome…beautiful lines and well designed. It stood there…a good height from the ground…proud and ready to please. The word “capable” is such an understatement!
Sooo…I decided to be bold and take it through it’s paces on the Helderberg 4×4 trail, come hell or high water. Well, during the past week it really was hell and high water, which made it….challenging for me and the beast.
I change my tune…I really stand in awe of the sheer power, willingness and capability of this lovely vehicle. It is such a pleasure to drive and not for one moment did I feel scared or in a panic…this was an adrenaline dream!

Ford claims 8.2L/100km but I was getting 10.8, so with its 80 litre tank it has a range of about 750km. Not bad for a vehicle of this size and with this power. It is rated to tow up to 3 tons braked and 750 kg unbraked.

The SUV is loaded with adaptive cruise control with collision warning, pre-collision detect, active park assist and a blind spot information system, not to speak of the automated lights and wipers. Its all top class stuff.

The car has front seat warmers, and seats which fold flat right to the front seat, which would make a great bed in lion country. Something you can’t do in the Fortuner with its silly fold-up third row seats.
Ford’s SYNC® 2 infotainment system has active noise cancellation, Bluetooth and all the goodies you would want in such a system.
Oh, there’s a 230 volt inverter too.

The Everest as tested is R698 900. The moon roof is an extra R10 360. The base model costs R459 900. The top model starts at R706 900.  For both models the warranty is 4yr / 120 000km and comes with a 5yr / 100 000km service plan.

Ford Everest Ltd

Ford Everest Ltd

The Ford Everest and Toyota Fortuner are  very different. In town and on the road the Everest completely outboxes the Fortuner, but meets its match off-road. I think the Everest takes it.
Also look at the Fortuner, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Jeep Cherokee, Kia Sorent and Hyundai Sante Fe (the latter two not offering low range).

 

Ford-Everest-Ltd-nose

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.

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.