Toyota Innova 2.7 VVTi 7 seater review

Toyota Innova 2.7 VVTi

Toyota tries to make a vehicle for every niche. The Innova slots in between the, for me too me too narrow, Avanza and the more luxurious Verso.

It’s either a van like estate car, or a car like van. You choose.

It shares the platform with the Toyota Hilux bakkie and Fortuner and enjoys all the advantages derived from the shared components and development. It should be tough and last a long time.

The overall impression is of space. It will make a great touring vehicle. The versatility also allows you to use it as a goods vehicle if needed.

Interior 

The cabin is neat and very functional. It is all about usable, practical space. The 7 seater even has audio controls on the steering wheel.

The car is well appointed. The dual zone air-conditioner works very well. The audio system does its thing and has Bluetooth, and USB, Aux connections with steering wheel controls. On the seven-seater the screen also displays input from a reversing camera.

The rear seats fold up like the Fortuner’s making for a cargo hold more than a boot.

The middle seats are very comfortable. The front seats are adjustable and should work for most people.

Exterior

The Innova is somewhere between a station wagon and a van. It is not exactly pretty. But then big, dependable, tough reminds one more of a rugby forward than a ballerina.

The Innova looks better in reality than in a picture.

Driving impressions

The Innova is a big car based on a bakkie platform. It handles well within the context of a large van like vehicle, with good brakes, accurate steering, fair acceleration and a top speed far in excess of the limit.

Toyota claims a top speed of 180km/h.

Power is claimed to be 118kW @ 5200 and torque 241Nm @ 3800. Actual experience with the Innova suggests it has more than adequate power and torque for normal everyday driving.

I found the Innova easy to drive and park. The park assist is available only in the 7 seat version.

Weak points

Claimed fuel consumption of 11.2litres per 100km. This figure will be difficult to match in real world conditions.

The ride quality is a little agricultural if the road surface is not perfect.

I think the interior trim, although lending an airy lightness to the cabin, is too light and will soon show wear and tear.

The fake wood veneer trim is ugly to my mind.

Summary

The Innova packs loads of space. The rear seats can be easily folded out of the way to turn it into a van. It is more van than car, but comfortable and well appointed. My overall impression is of a rugged tough truly multi purpose vehicle.

Costs

The Toyota Innova 2.7 VVTi 7 list price is R276 200. The 8 seater is 259 800.

The service plan is 5 years/90 000km and the warranty 3 years/100 000km. Service intervals are 15 000km.

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Affordable Mitsubishi Outlander GLX

Mitsubishi South Africa has launched a value-for-money model with a very competitively-priced GLX version of its Outlander.

Priced at R349 900 the new addition offers a high level of standard specification, including a Multi Select 4WD system (Electronically controlled on demand 2WD with 4WD and 4WD Lock on demand). It has a ground clearance of 215mm.

The specification of the GLX includes: rear park distance warning system, keyless operating system and electrically-operated exterior rear view mirrors, with safety equipment including automatic stability control (ASC), anti-skid brakes (ABS), electronic brake distribution (EDB) and six airbags.

Both the GLX and GLS models are powered by a 2,4-litre petrol engine developing 125kW of power at 6 000r/min and 226Nm of torque at 4 100r/min. Drive goes to two or all four wheels via a 6-speed continuously variable transmission with Sports Mode.

The existing Outlander GLS, which costs R399 900, has additional equipment and a higher trim level than the GLX with a sunroof, hill start assist, leather seat trim and a Rockford Fosgate audio system with nine speakers, CD/MP3 player and a 6-CD auto-changer.

Both Outlander models are covered by a 3-year/100 000km warranty and 3-year/60 000km maintenance plan, with servicing intervals every 15 000km.

All-Terrain Tyre Mileage Warranty

Tiger Wheel & Tyre and Hankook are offering an off-road tyre they say will reach 80 000km, and guaranteeing that it will.

The two companies announced their introduction of South Africa’s first mileage warranty on all-terrain tyres. The innovative warranty guarantees buyers that their all-terrain Hankook Dynapro AT-M RF10 tyres will reach 80 000km.

The warranty is straightforward and applies to the purchase of two or more Hankook Dynapro AT-M RF10 tyres in sizes 15 to 18 inch. Every 10 000km thereafter, the vehicle must be returned to Tiger Wheel & Tyre for tyre rotation, balancing and alignment checking. In addition, tyre pressure must be checked monthly and tyres inflated to the manufacturer’s specification.

In the event of the tyres not reaching the guaranteed 80 000 km, customers will receive credit towards a new or equivalent Hankook tyre of the same size. The compensation is based on a calculation against the mileage already used on the tyre and the usable tread life left, terms and conditions apply.

Mazda BT-50 review

Mazda BT-50

The new BT-50 carries on in the tradition of ‘lekka’ tough, comfortable Mazda bakkies. Although based on the same platform as the Ford Ranger the BT-50 is a very different beast.

People are going to ask: Does the BT-50 have Zoom-Zoom? You betcha. It also has go,go,go. And, it goes well too. Drives and handles like an SUV.

BT-50 program manager Takasuke Kobayashi said of the BT-50:“I wanted to move into uncharted territory. I wanted to create a completely different kind of pick-up – one with the personality of a passenger car. So my team developed innovative, dynamic styling and equipment levels that match high-specification CD-segment cars. We re-engineered the technologies in the powertrain, steering system and frame to deliver the Zoom-Zoom driving pleasure that is Mazda’s greatest brand value.”

The BT-50 looks very different to the Ford Ranger. Brighter and softer. More car-like than the Ranger.

Driving impressions

The BT-50 sits well on the road, any road. It drives like a car. My wife found it very easy to drive, except parallel parking. That is a mission due to the sheer size. It is broader and longer than most cars and all previous generation bakkies except the likes of the Ford 150 and the Cruiser double cab. A similar size to the Amarok and Navarra.

The 3.2 turbo diesel engine fitted to the BT-50 we drove will only be tested if you are towing a big boat, large caravan or heavy trailer. It has oodles of power. The 3.2-litre inline five-cylinder diesel with six-speed automatic transmission pushes out 147kW/470Nm.  I think the 2.2 is more than enough for normal use. Its the one I would buy.The 2.2 litre in-line 4 cylinder 16 valve DOHC intercooled turbo diesel produces a useful 110 kW @ 3,700 rpm and torque of 375 Nm @ 1,500 – 2,500 rpm. More than enough normally.

The short distance I rode on gavel it seemed very settled and stable.

Acceleration, especially in gear, when overtaking for example, is excellent.

Cornering for such a tall relatively heavy vehicle is very good. The brakes on this truck are to be felt to be believed. they are really good. Steering is very good. Light at low speeds and progressively more stiff as the speed increases.

This is a great bakkie to drive. Parking, though, can be an issue.

Interior

The seats are really comfortable and highly adjustable. The driver’ s seat also has adjustable lumbar support.

The cabin has practical finishes and is well designed. It would put most large sedans of ten years ago to shame. It has all the nooks and crannies and storage places you would expect.

All the important controls are within easy reach and work intuitively. Switchgear feels solid. Audio controls are on the lest of the steering wheel, cruise control on the right.

The climate control is very effective.

The radio, CD, MP3 player works well and the speakers sound good. There are aux and USB points in the box between the seats.

The rear window has a brilliant little window.

Weak points

Loading or getting something off the loadbay is quite a mission, simply because she stands so tall. For normal use the loadbay is a little high. It is impractical. The same applies to getting in and out of this truck. It is quite a heave up into the cab.

I do not like the fake chrome trim around the lights, but I am sure many others will like it. Its a little “sudden” for me!

The fiddly little button used to control the ‘computer’ display is totally impractical and bordering on unsafe.

Fuel consumption is a lot better than older generation tricks but it is still stiff. At best I got 10litre per 100km unladen at 120km/h, while the big mill purrs at 2 000rpm. In town it shoots up. My average was 8.9l/100km.

I would have preferred a soft touch finish on a few surfaces. It just feels a little hard.

Summary

This is a bakkie to easily get used to living with in spite of the odd little niggle. Just remember she is big and high and wide.

Cost

The double cab range starts at R340 480 for the BT-50 2.2 (High Power) MZ-CD SLX 6MT 4×2 D/Cab Diesel. The Top of the range BT-50 3.2 MZ-CD SLE 6AT 4×4 D/Cab Diesel costs R462 210.

The vehicle we tested, the BT-50 3.2 MZ-CD SLE 6AT 4×2 D/Cab Diesel costs R414 890.

Air conditioner and slip rear axle is an extra option at R10 870.

Warranty: 4 year/120 000km

Service plan: 5 year/90 000km, 15 000km service intervals

Mazda CX5 2.0L Active MT review

Mazda CX5 2.0L Active MT

The Mazda CX5 range of SUV’s are not designed to be super tough overland vehicles. Instead they are cars with good space, good handling, and a slightly higher stance allowing you to go on any unpaved road. On tar they behave like a car, both in performance and fuel economy.

The Mazda CX-5 is the first new generation vehicle to boast the complete suite of SKYACTIV Technology. Various innovations minimise fuel consumption, allowing you to use as little as 6.8litres/100km. I got 7.5litres/100km average in mixed driving. It would be possible to improve on that figure.

Versatile boot

If you fold the rear seats down you get an enormous boot. You can easily fit two bicycles and a weekend’s luggage in. With the seats up the boot is fairly big. The space is also clean so you can get more in. The spare wheel is the almost normal type of temporary wheel.

The Mazda CX-5 is the first car to have Mazda’s ‘KODO – Soul Of Motion’ design theme at its core. There is even a tyre pressure monitor.

Priced at R312 090 for the base model as tested it compares well with the Mazda6 at  R297 730. It is a whole lot bigger than a Mazda3.

Interior

The CX has a spacious well designed pleasant interior with a pleasant variety of finishes. There is just enough soft surfacing to soften the cabin. The interior is softned with brushed aluminium trim highlights and a piano black strip splitting the dash horizontally. It works well. There are USB/ Aux and power points in the box between the seats. I really liked the canvas coloured roof lining.

The seats are very comfortable and the seat height is perfect for getting in and out. The seat is also very adjustable and provides good support. It has a “commanding” driving position.

The radio is easy to use with simple controls. The sound quality is good too. The controls and switches are practical.

Mazda CX5 Full frontal

Driving impressions

These cars drive like, well, cars. Good ride and handling. While you have enough power to do what you have to, there are not many spare horses.

The Yokohama G98 255/65R17 tyres give the car a superior ride.

Expect to get near the claimed 6.8l/100km and a top speed of 197kph on a longish straight at the claimed acceleration of 9.3for the 0-100km/h sprint.

The CX5 just eats up highway kms. It handles gravel roads well.

Brakes and steering feel are both excellent. The weight of the steering varies depending on the speed but is always light and responsive. You always feel in control.

Body roll is well controlled. It is a well sorted ride.

Weak points

There is not a lot wrong with this car.

One complaint must be the wind noise round the mirrors, they are too big. At speed the car is not as quiet as one would like.

I found it strange that it does not have  park assist as standard.

No cruise control as standard

Summary

As a package the Mazda CX5 does well. Good performance, very good fuel economy, quite roomy, and comfortable. See it as a sexy compact station wagon or a hatch on steroids and you will appreciate it.

Prices:
The top of the CX range Mazda CX-5 2.0L Individual AT costs R393 390. The 2.0L as tested is R312 090. This price is a little steep if you consider that the much more capable Subaru XV with AWD costs R329 000.

All CX Mazda’s come with a 4 Year / 120 000km warranty and 5 Year / 90 000km service plan.