Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi Titanium AWD

Ford Kuga

Ford Kuga

 Kuga 2.0 TDCi Titanium AWD

The top-of-the-line Ford Kuga is quite a beastie. Nimble. User friendly. Nice bite from the oil burner. Claws retracted most of the time.

To drive this smaller SUV is to be astounded just how much automotive technology has progressed in recent years. It mollycoddles you from the getgo. But gives you your head as well.

Ford have produced a gem in the Mk 2 Kuga. If it seems like I was impressed with her, you will be right.

Courtesy nightlights point down from the side mirrors.

Courtesy nightlights point down from the side mirrors.

Design

The Kuga looks good. The lines flow and create a harmonious balance. The look grows on you. The dimensions seem optimal for a compact but roomy SUV.

From the silver roof rails to the dual stainless steel exhaust pipes the parts add to the whole.

From a safety point of view the Kuga has it all. Seven airbags, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brake Assist (EBA) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD, brilliant lights.

The hands free tailgate is a useful feature. You can open the tailgate by waving your foot under the car at the back. The system is a little difficult to get the hang of though.

Interior

Ford are up there with the best when it comes to the cabin. Fit and finish is top drawer. Premium. The cabin has a pleasant mix of soft and hard, shiny and matt. It is a soothing place.

The car is well equipped and depending on trim level the list of goodies gets longer.

Kuga2_cabin

For example, heated sporty 10 way power adjustable leather front seats grace the Trend models. Rear eats have decent leg room and are also comfortable. Needless to say there are a host of storage bins and cup holders. Also storage under the seats.

In car entertainment includes a Sony audio system with 9 speakers and a 4.2″ TFT colour screen together with the Ford SYNC system with Bluetooth and Voice Control.

Kuga-3-007Driving impressions

The Kuga grips the road with as Ford says all wheel drive ‘Intelligent AWD-System’ with variable torque distribution, electronically controlled.

It rides a healthy 192cm off the floor unladen giving good ground clearance.

Useful touches include hill launch assist, electronic stability programme (ESP) with traction control, cruise control and park assist.

The Duratec diesel is excellent. Power is a generous 120 kW @ 3750 and a very useful torque of 340Nm @ 2000 – 3250.

The Kuga is superb both on- and off-road. Off-road in the context of gravel and jeep tracks. Cornering for a SUV is stunning. Handling and road holding is typically modern Ford, and that’s good.

The top models with the driver package installed can even park themselves. More useful are the lane control, blind spot control, collision warning and cruise control.

Summary

The new Kuga is very good. It is also very good value. We recommend it.

R418 900 as tested. We got to drive the AWD, 2.0  automatic diesel. The range starts with the manual FWD 1.6 Ecoboost Ambiente at R298 900. Its a great little high riding station wagon.

Warranty is 4 years or 120 000km and corrosion warranty of 5 years unlimited. Service plan 5 years or 90 000km. Service intervals are 15 000km.

Ford Kuga 2.0 AWD Trend

Ford Kuga 2.0 AWD Trend

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Ford Tourneo and Transit review

Ford Tourneo and Transit

Ford-Tourneo-thumbFord have had two really great years. They have launched the best bakkie in South Africa, the Ranger, the best affordable small car the Figo based on the previous Fiesta and the new Focus and Fiesta.

The recently launched Ford range of vans are big medium sized vehicles.

The Tourneo which is a 8 seater luxury people mover and its cargo sister the Transit.

They both use the brilliant 2.2 litre turbodiesel engine made in Port Elizabeth and also fitted to the Ranger bakkies.  These Duratorq TDCi 2.2 engines come in two versions of which the more powerful produces 92kW at 3 500 and  350Nm from 1 450 rpm. A lot of power with which to work.

Ford Tourneo

Ford Tourneo

They are fitted with 6 forward gears so fuel consumption is excellent. The sixth gear is almost like a long overdrive, helping to give impressive highway consumption figures of under 6litre/100km. Ford claims 6.5litre/100km for general driving. I think you will get around 7litre/100km based on my experience and closer to 7.5 when fully laden. Still an awesome figure. Top speed is over 150km/h. Acceleration is car like. With the smooth gearbox and easy clutch, changing gears becomes second nature the first time you drive these vans.

You are helped by the hill launch assist function which holds the van for a moment when you take your foot off the brake to pull away without effort even on a hill. The turning circle is around 12m.

The vans come fitted with all the important safety features including ABS with EBD, stability control, and rear solid disks at the back. Airbags are standard for both driver and front passenger, side airbags and in the Tourneo includes curtain airbags as well. These vans are as safe as is practical with today’s technology and is class leading.

Interior

Interior

Interior

The interior of especially the Tourneo is well designed and is fully equipped. The front windows are powered.

Fitted as standard is air conditioning with filter-air pollen purifier, heated fully adjustable front seats, carpets throughout, courtesy lights and all the normal bottle holders and pouches.

The middle and rear seats fold completely and can be relatively easily removed to make a huge cargo space. The Tourneo has more space behind the rear seats than any of its competition.

There are 3 power points, a good sound system with USB, Bluetooth, aux connections, arm rests and 8 coat hooks.

The cabin is very pleasant and will make a great tourer.

A very big boot

A very big boot

Driving impressions

The Tourneo is effortless to drive. Much like a big car. Even reversing is easy thanks to the park distance sensors and split rear view mirrors which have normal and wide angle mirrors. Visibility is excellent.

Acceleration is good, especially when overtaking. You just need to drop a gear and away she goes. It cruises at 120km/h with ease.

Cornering is impressive for such a tall vehicle (2m high) and you always feel confident. Both handling and road holding set new standards for medium sized vans.

Conclusion

Ford spares are generally very affordable and available so keeping your vehicle on the road should be easy. The new Fords all drive well, have good road holding and appear to really well built.

The Tourneo is the perfect shuttle or courtesy bus. Take the seats out and you have a cargo van.

A vehicle, which although slightly smaller, should be looked at when considering the Fords is the Hyundai H1 range. The diesel H1s are very good.

All Ford vans come with a 4 yr/120 000km warranty and 5 yr/unlimited km corrosion guarantee. Service intervals are 15 000km.

Ford Tourneo

Ford Tourneo

Pricing

Ford Tourneo passenger busses

Model                                   Excl. Vat               Incl. Vat

Ambiente SWB – LP         R 338,246              R385,600

Trend SWB – MP               R 358,070              R408,200

Ambiente LWB – LP         R 344,386             R392,600

Ambiente LWB – LP         R 364,123             R415,100

Ford Transit cargo vans

Model                                                   Excl. Vat               Incl. Vat

2.2 Ambiente SWB – LP                  R 265,877             R303,100

2.2 Ambiente LWB – LP                  R 272,018             R310,100

2.2 Ambiente SWB – MP                R 269,123             R306,800

2.2 Ambiente LWB – MP                R 278,772             R317,800

2.2 Sport HP                                       R 320,175             R365,000

Chevrolet Spark Pronto review

Chevrolet Spark Pronto

Chevrolet Spark Pronto

Chevrolet Spark Pronto

The Spark Pronto is the smallest commercial vehicle on our roads. Basically a box on wheels.

GM have taken the Spark and made a tiny van, much like FIAT did with the Uno years ago, just much better. This is possible because the Spark is built in South Africa.

Basically they have stripped the seats out of the back and made a proper load box with a flat floor and a partition to the front. There are little burglar bars over the rear windows. This translates into a 275kg payload and 876 litres of space.

Chev Spark load area

Chev Spark load area

The Pronto is just right for the businesses that require nothing more than the smallest, cheapest delivery vehicle they can find, with absolutely no need for bells and whistles. Very importantly it retains air conditioning. Ideal for florists, chemists, pathologists and any load that requires cooling.

The cabin at the front is unchanged from the normal Spark. The car also retains the two back doors, so access is excellent.

This little Spark will get small and light parcels as well as documents to clients quickly and inexpensively. It is also ideal for security companies, florists, pathologists and for medical deliveries.

Performance

The Spark Pronto uses Chevrolet’s basic 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, like almost every other Spark. It’s a quite perky, if a little noisy. It produces 60kW at 6400rpm and 108Nm at 4800rpm, and propels the light-weight Pronto from 0 to 100km/h in a little over 13 seconds, with a top speed of 164km/h.

GM claims fuel economy of only 5,4l/100km. Expect around 6 litres/100km.

Driving impressions

Around Cape Town I found it more than adequate, almost nippy. The car keeps all the equipment of the normal Spark except the radio, but the wiring and speakers are installed. It still features the same high levels of passenger comfort and safety as found in other Spark models, with dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, power steering, remote central locking and air conditioning.

Chev-Spark-Pronto-014The Chevrolet Spark Pronto costs R103 000. If you are registered for VAT you can claim back the VAT on the vehicle.

The Spark range comes standard with a 5-year/ 120 000 km warranty and comprehensive Roadside Assistance, as well as five years’ anti-corrosion cover.

A service plan is available as an optional extra on purchase.

Nissan NV200 review

NV200 dash

 

Nissan NV200 van

Nissan have just launched two ranges of vans, the medium to large sized NV350 which competes with Toyota’s Quantum and VW’s Crafter, and the smaller NV200 which competes with the VW Caddy and Toyota Avanza.

The NV200 is that rare commercial vehicle – good looking, stylish, practical, comfortable and does the job expected of it. A version has been picked after a very intensive evaluation to be the next New York City yellow cab and its a finalist for London’s new taxi. Nissan are going to shake up the light commercial segment with this range of vehicles.

The NV200 takes quite a load.

The NV200 takes quite a load.

Some of the pluses include a sliding door on both sides, excellent height for both goods and people (and children) to get in and out and versatile seat arrangement. It is a very easy vehicle to live with.

The NV200 handles very well for a little commercial vehicle. In fact, it drives like a car. The steering, gears, clutch – all are light and direct. She cruises pleasantly at the legal limit and handles hills well. Acceleration is better than for example the Avanza, as is road holding.

Noise, vibration and unwanted sounds are well damped. It is a quiet cab and visibility is excellent. The layout of the dash is well thought out. Controls and switches are of acceptable quality and are easy to hand.

There are plenty of cup holders and provision for storage, including a file holder in the dash and a bin under the adjustable driver’s seat. The seats are very comfortable. It is a comfortable car in all aspects.

As a little bus it is an 8 seater for adults. As a weekend camping vehicle you can easily remove the third row of seats making a huge boot big enough for a tent, sleeping bags, stretchers, cool box, chairs… all the stuff for a weekend away.

Nissan NV200

Nissan has fitted a full suite of safety equipment to these vehicles from air bags to electronic stability and brake distribution as well as ABS brakes. Standard equipment include aircon, power steering and windows, sound system, aux, Bluetooth, USB, central locking and remote keyless entry.

Build quality appears to be very good. Fit and finish is excellent.

The range consists of: two panel vans and two busses, one diesel, one petrol. The cheapest is the NV200 1.6i P/van at R190 500. The diesel panel van is R220 500. The NV200 1.6i Combi (as tested) R240 500 and the diesel R271 400.

The 1.6 petrol engine produces 85kW and 153Nm from 4 400rpm. The 1.5 diesel produces 66kW at 4 000rpm and 200Nm from 1 750rpm. We tested the petrol model and found it to be very suitable for in town use with consumption of around 7.5 l/100km. If long trips on open roads are to be made often, the diesel will be our first choice. Nissan claims diesel consumption of 5.1 l/100km but we think you should work on 6.

The warranty is 3 years or 100 000km with 15 000km service intervals.

NV 200 dash.

NV 200 dash.

AA vehicle rates calculator

AA vehicle rates calculator
One of the simplest and most effective vehicle management tools is the AA rates calculator. It is essential if you or your company is going claim tax expenses but it is also key to knowing just how much a car costs you to operate.
To use the calculator you need to go to the AA site at:
http://www.aa.co.za/on-the-road/calculator-tools/rates-calculator.html
and follow the easy steps. You will need your car’s make, model, engine size, type of fuel, model year and purchase price to use the tool.

aarates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the case of my Suzuki Swift the rate is R2.68 per km.
The calculation includes petrol costs, fixed costs (includes the cost of buying the car) and running costs like basic servicing.

aacalc

 

 

 

 

The rate will change every time the petrol price changes.

2014 WesBank / SAGMJ Car of the Year Finalists announced

The nine finalists for the 2014 WesBank / SAGMJ Car of the Year competition, South Africa’s premier motoring event, are (in alphabetical order):

2013 Audi A3 Sportback 1.4T FSI Manual
2013 Jaguar F-TYPE 3.0 V6 S
2013 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport
2013 Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG
2013 Peugeot 208 GTI
2013 Porsche Cayman S
2013 Renault Clio4 66kW Turbo Dynamique
2013 Volkswagen Golf 7 1.4 TSI 90kW Comfortline DSG
2013 Volvo V40 D3 Geartronic Excel

The next step in the process is a stringent two-day evaluation session to be held in Gauteng in January 2014