Mercedes Benz GLA 200 CDI review

MB GLA 200 CDI

MB GLA 200 CDI

Mercedes Benz GLA 200 CDI

This is a very competent, practical compact luxury car. It rides highish off the ground so farm roads are a doddle. You also sit more upright and higher, giving excellent visibility.

Performance is between good and excellent. Handling and roadholding match the class leaders in this crossover SUV niche.

Mercedes replaced the old A Class with 3 models. A sporty range called the CLA, the normal one called the A and a cross-over that superficially looks like the A, the GLA. The GLA rides higher than the A and is a little bigger all round. Many will feel this is the most practical  new baby Benz.

MB-GLA200--1-011

There are two petro and two diesel models, three  style  lines and three add on packages.

The 200 is a 1.6 petrol engine with electronically controlled direct petrol injection through piezo injectors and a turbocharger. Claimed fuel consumption is 6 litres/100km, but expect around a still exceptional  7. The 250 4matic has a 1.9 engine, more performance and  is a little thirstier but still very good.

The 200 CDi is a 2.1 litre  turbodiesel with high-pressure fuel injection common-rail technology, VTG turbocharger and EDC. The 220 CDi is the same engine but with more punch. Claimed  diesel consumption is 4.5 to 5 l/100km. Aim for 6, but be easy on the throttle.

The GLA comes in a choice of three lines “Style”, “Urban” and “AMG Line” .

Amongst the many optional extras to choose from, are the large panoramic sliding sunroof, or the EASY-PACK tailgate, which can be opened and closed at the push of a button.

MB-GLA200--1-084dashStandard equipment includes multifunction steering wheel, eco start/stop, Collision prevention assist, which warns the driver visually and audibly of insufficient distance to the vehicle travelling ahead or of stationary objects, attention assist, cruise control, climate control, automatic lights and adaptive brakes.

In addition there are three style packages: Night, Exclusive and AMG Exclusive. Highlights of the Exclusive package, for example,  (available for all three lines) include heated sports seats with 4-way lumbar support for driver and front passenger, leather-covered, like the multifunction steering wheel and the gearshift lever.

It is all a little confusing and almost too much for me. In the showroom it is a little easier to get you head round the choices, but beware, costs mount rapidly.

MB-GLA200--1-007I liked the car. I think  Mercedes mostly got it right and it does feel like a baby Benz. The interior, apart from the protruding multimedia screen, is very pleasant and has enough space for a smaller car.

If you prefer a hatch type shape of car and a little more ride height MB have got it right with this car. Not cheap though.

Also look at the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Nissan Qashqai, Subaru XV, Volvo V40 Cross Country and Ford Kuga.

As tested R422 700 plus options R120 450 for a total of R543 150. Options are reversing camera, active park assist, paoramic sunroof, 7G-DCT automatic box, COMMAND online, tow-hook, Bi-Xenon headlamps, easy pack tailgate, Exclusive package, mirrors, night pack and urban line.

The range starts at R421 800, and goes to R760 800 for the GL45 AMG. We would recommend the G LA200 Auto at R461 947.  Two formidable competitors stand out. The Ford Kuga 2.0TDCi AWD Titanium is R448 900 fully and comprehensively equipped. The Volvo V40 Cross CountryD4 Excell at R395 000 is a complete package.

All GLA models come standard with a 6-years/100 000 km maintenance contract and two year unlimited warranty.

 

 

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Chevrolet Orlando LS 1.8 review

chev_orlando-thumbChevrolet Orlando

GM’s smaller multi purpose vehicle, the Orlando manages to be a little van, 7 seater bus and car all in one. And all in a neat, versatile  package. It would make a great taxi.

Think of it as an upmarket Avanza. It is slightly wider and longer than the Avanza and feels much more solid.

In SA we only get only one model. But GM has chosen it well. It is a 1.8 petrol manual with standard but good hard working trim and a good specification level.

Interior Chevrolet Orlando

Interior Chevrolet Orlando

The vehicle has 16 different seating combinations, meaning  you really can fit seven adults into the Orlando or when in van mode, a driver and a jumbo load.

Passengers will find the inside of the Orlando is surprisingly roomy with more than enough leg- and headroom. Access to the third row is OK, but headroom a little limited.

Load volume at the back is between 100 and 800 litres depending on how you have folded the seats. Fold down the rear seats and you’ve got a 1499 litre load space.The  cabin feels like a car, with neat finishes and a plethora of map pockets, armrests with cup holder, and quite a few nooks and crannies to keep things in.

Power windows for driver and front passenger are standard as is a good sound system, cruise control and power steering.

The interior is upmarket compared to the cheaper Avanza and is pleasantly finished reminding one of the Cruze, its sedan sibling.

Chevrolet Otlando

Chevrolet Otlando

The Orlando does not lack safety and security systems.  It comes with anti theft alarm and immobiliser.

An  ‘Electronic Stability Control’ system provides traction control to help avert slides, by automatically applying corrective braking to appropriate wheels to help you quickly regain control. It also has ABS and electronic brake distribution with an additional brake assist system.

Driving the Orlando is easy and pleasant. All round visibility is surprisingly good and it handles well in the context of an MPV. Road holding is above par for this category. The Cruze roots shine through.

Chevrolet Orlando 1.8 LS

Chevrolet Orlando 1.8 LS

GM claims 7.2l/100km but work on 8 in general and around 6 on the open road, which is very acceptable.

Priced from R287 000 you get real value for money.

The Warranty & Roadside Assistance package is  5 years/120 000km.  The Service Plan is for 3 years /60 000km.

Also look at the Toyota Avanza 1.3  from R190 000, Suzuki Ertiga 1.4 starting at around R160 000, VW Caddy 1.6 from R190 000 or the Nissan NV200 1.6 Combi R254 800.

First published in Small Business Connect.

Renault Sandero 66kw turbo Stepway review

Sandero-Stepway-thumbRenault Sandero Stepway

The original Stepway was the best-selling model in the previous Sandrero range as its raised ride height, adventure aura and value proposition made it the most desirable model. I predict the same is going to happen with these new cars. Renault have a winner, and we as consumers also get to win. A good car, great features and excellent price.

The Sandero Stepway is an affordable yet classy small car with a tougher than usual stance, more ride height, pleasant handling and well equipped interior with fair space and good finish . It is great value for money and surprises with its comprehensive levels of equipment and good handling for a slightly tall car.

Sandero Stepway 66kW 2014

Sandero Stepway 66kW 2014

The interior of the Sandero is very practical and comes with electric windows, air-conditioning, sound system, finger tip controls, Bluetooth, cruise control and central locking. A nice touch is the chunky leather clad steering wheel and gear knob. A major step up from the previous generation. The cabin is much more upmarket than the original model. It also appears to be well put together.

Sandero Stepway 2014 dash

Sandero Stepway 2014 dash

The cloth covered seats look great and are comfortable over normal distances. The back seats fold down in a 60/40 split while the boot offers luggage capacity of 292 litres.

The new cutting edge three-cylinder 1-litre turbo beats the 1.6-litre engine used in the previous Stepway in every way – power, fuel consumption and performance. This is the future. Together with Ford’s amazing little three cylinder these engines show the way forward. Acceleration is better than average for B segment cars and fuel consumption much less than average at around 6 litre/100km. A win-win situation.

The Stepway has all the required safety features from the basics such as Emergency Brake Assist, anti-lock braking system, electronic brake-force distribution and electronic stability programme to hill start assist and rear parking sensors.

The Stepway will make an excellent little workhorse that will be equally at home on gravel roads as in town. I enjoyed the week I spent driving it. There was always enough power and it is big enough to sit properly on the road. Renault have done well with this one.

The Stepway costs around R15 000 more than the standard Sandero. You get extra ground clearance (29mm), roof rails, skid panels, styling differences, 16” wheels and rear parking sensors. You also get a better looking car, in my opinion.

Renault Sandero Stepway

Renault Sandero Stepway

Alternatives include the Ford Ecoboost, Renault’s own Duster, VW VivoMaxx and the Toyota Etios Cross; all (except the Etios) substantially more expensive.

The Renault Sandero Stepway costs R159 900, that’s not much of a premium over the Sandero Dynamique at R141 500.

The Stepway comes with an excellent five-year or 150 000km warranty and a two-year or 30 000km service plan.

 

Duster aiming for COTY 2015

One year after its launch in South Africa, Renault’s New Duster SUV has earned its place as a finalist in the WesBank/South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ) 2015 Car of the Year (COTY) competition.

Renault Duster 1.5 DCi AWD

Renault Duster 1.5 DCi AWD

“We are very honoured and would like to thank the COTY jury for nominating the New Renault Duster as one of the 11 best cars recently brought to market in South Africa,” says Niall Lynch, managing director of Renault South Africa.

At 4.32m long, 1.82m wide and with a generous wheelbase of 2.67m, Duster offers more interior space than any other C-segment SUV. It comfortably seats up to five adults with plenty of space to spare – front and back. Its boot capacity (up to 475lt) is nothing short of amazing making the storage and carriage of family luggage an absolute breeze.

The low first gear (5.79 km/h at 1 000 rpm) allows for driving over rough ground, starting on a slope and with heavy loads, or holding the vehicle back when going downhill. With its intuitive 4×4 control system, the Renault Duster adapts to all situations, making the driving experience that much more easy and pleasurable.

Already a success story, with 4 500 Dusters sold in just one year, Duster is the 5th most sold SUV in South Africa, behind the Toyota Fortuner, Hyundai ix35, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Kuga