FIAT Qubo arrives in SA

The Fiat Qubo has arrived in South African and is set to stir up the non-conformist “Mom’s Taxi” brigade with the concept of “free space” that satisfies a variety of needs for mobility.
The Fiat Qubohas two sliding rear side doors, flexible interiors capable of offering varying ownership solutions. With versatility and compact dimensions (3959 mm long and 1684 mm wide) the Qubo boasts the best maximum capacity boot amongst the competitive set.Qubo fits into the urban and suburban environment,with its frugal 1.3 Multijet 55kW diesel engine; up to 1,000 km or more on a single tank and CO2 emissions of 119 g/km, as well as reduced operating costs (30,000 km for the first service).
The exterior styling of the Qubo sets itself apart.                                                                      

 Qubo is available with two Euro 4 engine derivatives – the sparky 1.3, Multijet turbo-diesel engine and the reliable 1.4, petrol derivative. These powertrains offer driving pleasure, excellent performance, and reduced operating costs, as well as reliability and, most importantly in this day and age, respect for the environment.
The new Qubo’s turbo diesel engine produces 55 kW at 4,000 r/min and torque of 190 Nm at 1,750 r/min, guaranteeing excellent performance and the best consumption figures in its class. Maximum speed is 155 km/h and in the combined driving cycle it returns 4.6 l/100 km. This frugal performance translates to a formidable 1,000 km range potential on 45 litres of diesel.Performance of the 1.4 petrol engine offers similarly impressive characteristics, having been specially developed with a view to performance and consumption. This engine produces an adequate 54 kW at 5,200 r/min and a maximum torque of 118 Nm at 2,600 r/min. The engine is peppy but thrifty, maximum speed is 155 km/h yet returns 7.0 l/100 km in the combined cycle.Born out of the industrial cooperation between FIAT and PSA and developed on the Grande Punto platform, Qubo is produced in the Tofas plant in Bursa, Turkey – where the Fiat Doblò is also produced – as a spin-off of a simple yet revolutionary concept.

Qubo is offered in a 5-passenger model with two engine derivatives with the attractive yet durable “Tangram” black trim material. Safety equipment includes ABS complete with EBD, 3-point seat belts with tensioners and load limiters, power steering, and front and side airbags.The Qubo is also available in a range of ten lively exterior colours that are certain to set it apart from its competitors. Four pastel colours; Ambient White, Funky Orange, Line Blue and Breakcore Red, as well as six metallic; Minimal Grey, Hillbilly Azure, Flamenco Red, Disco Green, Cool jazz Blue and Rockabilly Black.The standard Blue&Me™: Bluetooth® technology hands-free system with steering wheel mounted controls, MP3 file reader with USB port, and leather steering wheel ensures everything is always perfectly complementary and never distracts the driver from the road.

Fiat Qubo will be available immediately from 36 Fiat dealerships countrywide and, as with all Fiat Group products, comes standard with a 3 year / 100,000km full maintenance plan and warranty for peace-of-mind driving. The Qubo retails for R177,990.00 for the 1.4l petrol version, and R199,990.00 for the 1.3l diesel variant, including VAT and CO2 tax.

Opel Astra OPC

GM has added Opel’s performance Astra OPC, the most powerful production Astra produced to date, to its passenger vehicle range. The Astra OPC compliments the Corsa OPC in the Opel range in South Africa to offer buyers a high performance option in both the small and compact hatch sectors. This latest offering from OPC (Opel Performance Centre) is powered by a 206 kW turbocharged direct injection 2,0 litre engine with maximum torque of 400 Nm. This enables the Astra OPC to sprint from 0-100 km/h in just 6 seconds with an electrically governed top speed of 250 km/h.


This latest high-performance turbocharged engine produces a healthy 104 kW per litre – power delivery that is in the realm of full blown competition engines and the highest specific power output per litre of any Opel petrol production car. This is 12% more than the previous Astra OPC with torque improved by 25%.

This sporty powerhouse of an engine is based on the latest Opel 2,0 litre engine architecture designed to offer more-for-less in terms of engine size and performance delivery. In keeping with this philosophy the new Astra OPC delivers its higher power and torque with fuel consumption that is reduced by 12% compared to the previous model and with CO2 emissions that are 14% lower. Average fuel consumption recorded by Opel engineers in tests is just 8,11 l/100km – a remarkable achievement for an engine with this level of performance. CO2 emissions are 189 g/km.

Wheels are 20” alloy fitted with 245/35 R20 tyres as standard. The specification of the gas filled dampers is to a unique OPC standard while all mounting bushings are of a stiffer specification than on the standard Astra. Springs are of a stiffer rate than those found across the Astra and Astra GTC range.

Opel Astra OPC                                                        R435,000

Ford Focus ST relaunched

Focus-ST-logothumbFord Focus ST1

Steers take great pride in their sizzle. Ford can also take great pride in their sizzle, in the form of the new Focus ST1.

It’s sister is the ST3 which has leather seats, Xenon lights and a few other extras.

It is a completely new car. A 2.0 litre turbo petrol motor shoots you out of the starting blocks. Brilliant Recaro seats hug you. No embrace you. Excellent brakes give you a feeling of confidence. And yet it can be as docile as a family car.

I found the Focus both easy and fun to drive. The clutch is just right, the gears are silky smooth and the brakes among the best I have ever found in a car.

The exhaust note is as sweet as any note from a Stradivarius. It’s glorious. Grown men look and start grinning. Young men stop and stare, jaws dropping.

The ST1 offers keyless start, a deflation detection system, cruise control and power 1-shot up/down driver front and rear windows, which I do not like.

The ST has a 184kW 2.0-litre turbocharged EcoBoost engine, letting it race from 0-100 km/h in 6.5 seconds and has a top speed of 248 km/h. I can tell you in gear acceleration, even in sixth is superb. The accompanying growl is a bonus.

The EcoBoost engine also means Focus ST is expected to return 7.2 ℓ/100 km and deliver CO2 emissions of 169 g/km; a 20% improvement over the previous Focus ST. I got just under 8ℓ/100 km. But then I did tend to put foot every now and then. I couldn’t help it.

‘The interiorFocus-ST_dash

Recaro make the seats. Nuff said.

What’s there not to like? I found the controls within easy reach and intuitive to use. The ergonomics of the Focus is exemplary. The lowered seats have  length adjustment, and cushion tilt as well as the normal adjustments.

The boot is quite large and is a practical shape.

The darker headlining and trim on the pillars looks great. The interior really works for me. The overall appearance is both purposeful and appealing.

The interior lighting setup is a step up. See it to appreciate it.

The audio system is very good. USB and din input points in the box between the seats. An extra 12v power point for the back is provided.

The rear leg room is good. There are ample nooks and crannies to put stuff into.

The exterior

People raved about the nose of this new Focus. The general consensus is that it is a good looking car.

The new Focus ST is available in five-door hatchback format. Tangerine Scream, the new signature colour, matches the Focus ST’s  character. Spirit Blue, Race Red, Panther Black, Frozen White and Moondust Silver are also available.

I could not fault the lines of the Focus. It grows on you.


Driving impressions

The Focus ST is a brilliant car to drive on the road. It goes where you point it. It stops when you want it to. The acceleration out of any gear is awesome. The ST is the kind of car you could drive all day and still be smiling at the end.

The new Sport Steering System variable ratio steering rack reduces steering sensitivity when driving in a straight line and increases sensitivity when cornering.

The Electronic Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) system has been specially calibrated for the new Focus ST and detects and counters torque steer using a more aggressively pitched version of Ford’s Torque Steer Compensation (TSC). The Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) offers three distinct modes – drivers can turn ESP on for a tuned version of the system found throughout the Focus range; a reduced or wide-slip mode disables traction control and activates ESP only when absolutely necessary; and finally, ESP can be switched off altogether.

The engine also emits a distinctive soundtrack, engineered to be appreciated regardless whether heard from inside or outside the car. For those in the car, a newly-enhanced sound symposer relays the engine sound directly from the intake into the cabin. Very cool.

The exhaust system, with unique twin hexagonal centre exhaust tailpipe, has also been tuned to deliver the right sound at the right time, refined at lower RPMs and a purposeful growl as the revs rise.

The lights are very good. Indicators have a pleasant solid sound. Nice touch.

Visibilty all round is good. The car even has a blind spot indicator in the mirrors.

The clutch and gearbox are very smooth. Its effortless to change gears, even in a hurry. The brakes give you a feeling of confidence.

The cons

The ST comes with cloth seats as standard, which work for me, but Ford does not give one the opportunity to upgrade to leather. You have to get the ST3 if you want leather seats.

I could not get the hang of the electrical window controls. I battled to open them just a small way. Seemed to want open or close all the way.

The air vents towards the centre of the console are positioned so that they blow cold air onto the driver’s hands. It is a minor gripe but a bit irritating.

Focus-ST-topThe competition

Golf 6 GTi –                 R378 500 – 173kW, 300Nm.

Opel Sport GTC –      R311 600 – 132kW, 230Nm

Subaru WRX  –         R429 000 – 195kW, 343Nm

BMW 120d –              R330 500 – 135kW, 380Nm

Mazda MPS –             R343 140 – 190kW , 380Nm

Renault Megane RS R359 900 – 195kW , 360Nm

Audi A3 2.0 FSI –  R345 000 – 147kW, 280Nm


It’s a hot, hot hatch. It sizzles.

The high-spec, ST3 model adds auto folding mirrors, keyless entry, DEATC, rain sensitive wipers and Bi-Xenon HID headlamps including LED daytime running lights, auto-dimming rear view mirror and automatic wipers. Leather Recaro seats with 8-way adjustability and pull-out cushion, plus the newly developed Recaro rear bench.

At the price the Focus ST simply has no competition. It simply blows the benchmark GTi which costs almost R60k more out of the water.

I recommend the ST1. Probably the best sporty car value in SA at the moment.


Price R317 400 as tested (ST1). 184kW and 360Nm

The ST3 costs R362 500.

A normal Focus costs from R218 000 to R289 400.

4yr / 120 000km warranty and 5 yr / 90 000km service plan. Added piece of mind comes in the way of a 3yr /unlimited km roadside assistance plan while service intervals are staggered at 20 000km intervals.


Ford Ranger updated and range expanded

Additional derivatives have been added to the Ford Ranger line-up to meet with strong customer demand.

The Wildtrak derivative will now be offered in 4×2 and 4×4 automatic guise having previously only been available in 4×2 manual guise. It is powered by Ford’s 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi five-cylinder diesel engine with a substantial 470 Nm of torque and power rated at 147 kW.

The Ranger XLT and Wildtrak derivatives have achieved a maximum 5 Star rating under the Euro NCAP crash test protocol. The Wildtrak is also comprehensively equipped with features normally associated with premium passenger vehicles. Among them Bluetooth with voice control, steering wheel mounted radio controls, dual zone climate control, rain sensing wipers, power windows front and rear, heated seats and more.


Other changes to the Ranger line-up in 2013 include the addition of Bluetooth with voice activation, including steering wheel audio controls and a USB port to the Single, Super and Double Cab XLS derivatives, while all XLT models can now be fitted with Park Distance Sensors and a Reverse Camera as an optional extra. The Park Distance Sensor is fitted to the rear bumper with a Reverse Camera that appears in the review mirror when the vehicle is placed in reverse.

Single Cab Base customers will now have the opportunity to fit air-conditioning as an optional extra, while a Safety Pack will also be available as an option. The Safety Pack includes ABS brakes with EBD, beltminder and driver and passenger airbags.

A 4-year/120 000km warranty is standard on all models while a 5-year / 90 000km Service Plan is available as an option on entry level models and is standard from XL models up). Service intervals are stationed 15 000kms apart on diesel and petrol models. Customers will also benefit from 3 years of Roadside Assistance and a 5-year corrosion warranty as part of the Ford Ranger package. All-new Ranger 4×4 customers also receive free off-road driver training.

VW Golf 7 in SA

VW Golf 7


VW South Africa have launched 7 models of the new  Golf 7. But no GTi.

The new line-up enjoys a number of new engines.

The 1.2 TSI with 77 kW is the new entry engine and it replaces the 1.6 MPI 75 kW. The 1.4 TSI with 103 kW and 2.0 TDI with 110 kW engines replace 1.4 TSI with 118 kW and 2.0 TDI with 103 kW respectively. Both engines combine dynamic sporty driving experience and frugal fuel consumption.

The combined fuel consumption of the 1.4 TSI engine is: 5.3 l/100 km (equating to 121 g/km CO2) whilst the 2.0 TDI has a combined fuel consumption of 4.5 l/100km (equating to 119 g/km CO2 ).

They claim the new the base model 1.2 TSI 77kW with BlueMotion Technology consumes only 4.9 l/100 km.

Walter de Silva, Head of Design, Volkswagen AG: “One of the keys to the Golf‟s success lies in its continuity. There are but a handful of cars in the world with a design like the Golf‟s. It has been refined, tweaked and enhanced down the decades and has thereby become timeless.”


New Golf in short

Electronic Stability Control (ESC including anti-lock brake system, brake assistant, traction control, XDS electronic differential lock, engine drag torque control, counter steering support and trailer stabilization);

Light Assist main beam control; cruise control system including speed limiter; multi-collision brake; ParkPilot; Park Assist park steering assistant; tyre pressure monitoring indicator; Rear Assist.

Transmissions: 5-speed manual (2.0 TDI with 81 kW), 6-speed manual (1.2 TSI with 77 kW, 1.4 TSI with 90 kW and 1.4 TSI with 103 kW); 6-speed DSG (2.0 TDI with 110 kW) and 7-speed DSG (1.4 TSI with 90 kW). Cargo capacity: 380 litres to 1,270 litres

Colours: Base: Urano Grey, Pure White, Tornado Red. Metallic: Night Blue, Pacific Blue, Sunset Red, Reflex Silver and Tungsten Silver. Pearl effect: Deep Black

Dimensions: 4,255 mm long, 1,799 mm wide (without door mirrors), 2,027 mm wide (with door mirrors), 1,452 mm tall, 2,637 mm wheelbase. Drive: Front-wheel drive. Engines – diesel: 2.0 TDI with 81 kW and 2.0 TDI with 110 kW. Engines – petrol: 1.2 TSI with 77 kW, 1.4 TSI with 90 kW and 1.4 TSI with 103 kW.

Equipment lines: Trendline, Comfortline, Highline. Fuel tank: 50 litres Infotainment: “Composition Colour” CD/radio (5-inch touchscreen) – standard in Trendline and Comfortline models, “Composition Media” CD/Radio (5.8-inch touchscreen) – standard in Highline models, “Discover Pro” radio-navigation system (8-inch touchscreen) – optional. Production site: Wolfsburg plant and Mosel plant (Zwickau).

Running gear: MacPherson-type front suspension; modular lightweight rear suspension (1.2 TSI with 77 kW and 2.0 TDI with 81 kW) and modular performance rear suspension – multi-link rear axle (1.4 TSI with 90kW, 1.4 TSI with 103 kW and 2.0 TDI with 110 kW).

Wheels: 15-inch „Lyon‟ alloy wheels on Trendline; 16-inch „Toronto‟ alloy wheels on Comfortline and 17-inch „Dijon‟ alloy wheels on Highline

Sales: Over 29 million worldwide and 323 100 in South Africa. Model introductions in South Africa: Mk 1 – 1978; Mk 2 – 1984; Mk 3 – 1992; Mk 4 – 1999; Mk 5 – 2004; Mk 6 – 2009.


Retail Prices (VAT and Emissions Tax included)
1.2 TSI with BlueMotion Technology Trendline (77 kW) 6-speed Manual     R233 800
1.4 TSI with BlueMotion Technology Trendline (90 kW) 6-speed Manual     R246 700
1.4 TSI with BlueMotion Technology Comfortline (90 kW) 6-speed Manual R264 900
1.4 TSI with BlueMotion Technology Comfortline (90 kW) 7-speed DSG       R279 400
2.0 TDI Comfortline (81kW) Manual 5-speed                                                             R282 300
1.4 TSI with BlueMotion Technology Highline (103 kW) 6-speed Manual     R293 600
2.0 TDI with BlueMotion Technology Highline (110 kW) 6-speed DSG           R334 800
The new Golf model 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.