Mercedes-Benz bakkie coming

Mercedes-Benz will launch a midsize pickup before the end of the decade but perhaps in 2017.

The new Mercedes-Benz pickup will initially be targeted at markets in South Africa, Latin America, Australia, and Europe – all of which are posting sustained growth in this segment.

Says Nicolette Lambrechts, Vice-President Mercedes-Benz Vans South Africa: “This is a really exciting time for Vans. This will give Mercedes-Benz Vans the opportunity to reach a whole new customer in an entirely new segment. For Mercedes-Benz South Africa this gives us the ability to offer the customer the entire spectrum of products to suit not only their business needs but also cater for their lifestyle requirements – from a car, van, truck, bus and now the pickup.”

It is expected to be a bakkie version of the V-Class and the Vito models and will be developed by the same team. It appears it will be more consumer orientated than workhorse. More like an Amarok, less like a Land Cruiser.

Styling exercise for the proposed new Mercedes-Benz bakkie.

Styling exercise for the proposed new Mercedes-Benz bakkie.

“We can perfectly serve customers looking for a vehicle that offers a high level of utility and at the same time has the comfort, safety, and design of a Mercedes-Benz passenger car,” says Mercedes-Benz. “We will design our brand’s first pickup according to this recipe for success.”

The existing Mercedes Sprinter bakkie.

The existing Mercedes Sprinter bakkie.

 

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Ford Focus Eco-Boost

The new Ford Focus is on its way.

Ford Focus

Ford Focus

Available in four and five-door guises, and in the new exterior colour Deep Impact Blue, the new Focus has a lower, wider stance, with a new bonnet, front fascia and grille.

“We weren’t satisfied with being No. 1; we wanted to make the best even better with a stunning new version of the Focus,” says Tracey Delate, General Marketing Manager for Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa.

The Focus  comes with either the 1.0 EcoBoost or the new 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engines.

The new Focus offers fuel efficiency improvements of up to 19 percent compared with the current model, and a significant reduction in CO2 emissions across the range.

For the first time in South Africa, the Focus is available with the 92kW 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine that was named the International Engine of the Year for an unprecedented third successive year in 2014. One in three Focus models in Europe were sold with the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine during the first half of last year, proving just how successful this combination is.

The new Focus is also offered with Ford’s new fuel-efficient 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine that delivers 132kW of power and 240 Nm of torque.

Both EcoBoost engines use a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed SelectShift Automatic will be available on the 1.5 EcoBoost models later this year.

Ford Focus sedan

Ford Focus sedan

INTERIOR

The redesigned centre storage console offers more space as well as a new sliding, integrated armrest. The adjustable console accommodates a variety of bottles and cups with the capacity to simultaneously hold a one-litre water bottle and a 0.4-litre cup. Focus customers also will experience superior interior quietness, achieved with thicker carpets, thicker side window glass, and improved engine bay insulation.

The new Focus offers Perpendicular Parking (a segment first for Ford), a new hands-free parking technology that helps drivers reverse into spaces alongside other cars.

Ford Focus Eco-Boost interior

Ford Focus Eco-Boost interior

SAFETY

Cross Traffic Alert warns drivers reversing out of a parking space of vehicles that may soon be crossing behind them. Operating with radar at a range of up to 40 metres, the system will issue three distinct warning signals if it detects a vehicle approaching from either side

Park-Out Assist helps drivers as they exit a parallel parking space. After the driver has chosen either the left or right hand side the system operates the steering while the driver operates the accelerator and brake.

Ford also has improved its Active City Stop collision avoidance system, which uses sensors at the front of the vehicle to look for stationary objects in the road ahead and pre-charges the brakes if the vehicle is approaching an object too quickly.

If the driver still does not respond the system reduces engine torque and automatically applies the brakes to reduce the impact of collisions. Active City Stop now operates for the new Focus at speeds of up to 50 km/h, increased from 30 km/h.

In the case of moving objects Active Braking works in a similar way to Active City Stop but with a vehicle detection range of between 8 km/h and 180 km/h. It supports drivers at higher speeds, for example on a highway, by issuing warnings and applying braking as required.

Existing Adaptive Cruise Control technology enables Focus drivers to maintain a set distance from the vehicle ahead, even when that vehicle is travelling more slowly than the cruise speed.

For occasions when Adaptive Cruise Control is not active, Ford is now introducing Distance Indication, which enables drivers to set a preferred distance they would like to maintain with the vehicle ahead. Should the driver get any closer, the system issues a three-stage dashboard display warning – from grey to yellow to red.

Ford has now ramped up capacity worldwide to build the car in eight plants on four continents. Factories in Germany, US, Russia, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan and Argentina have a combined capacity to produce more than 1.5 million Focus vehicles annually.

Figures for the 1.0 first then 1.5, then 1.5 auto

Acceleration 0-100km/h     11.1   8.7    9
Top Speed (km/h)                192   222    220
CO2 Emissions (g/km) *     116   128    140
Urban fuel consumption ℓ / 100km *             6.5    7.1    8.5
Extra Urban fuel consumption ℓ / 100km *  4.5    4.7    4.7
Combined fuel consumption ℓ / 100km *      5.0    5.6     6.1

 PRICES
RECOMMENDED RETAIL PRICE
INCL E. Tax INCL E. Tax
INCL VAT EXCL VAT
Focus 1.0 EcoBoost Ambiente 4 door 212900 186754
Focus 1.0 EcoBoost Trend 4 door 229900 201667
Focus 1.5 EcoBoost Trend 4 door 265900 233246
Focus 1.5 EcoBoost Trend 4 door Auto 279900 245526
Focus 1.0 EcoBoost Ambiente 5 door 217900 191140
Focus 1.0 EcoBoost Trend 5 door 234900 206053
Focus 1.5 EcoBoost Trend 5 door 271900 238509
Focus 1.5 EcoBoost Trend 5 door Auto 284900 249912
Options
Metallic Paint 750 658
Styling Pack 14810 12991
Driver Assistance Pack 11940 10474
16″ Alloy wheels (Ambiente Only) 6540 5737

Warranty 4 yr/120 000km

Service plan 4 yr/80 000km

Corrosion guarantee 5 yr/unlimited km

Honda Accord 3.5V6 Exclusive review

Honda Accord 3.5V6 Exclusive

Honda-Accord-V6-009--thumbThis car feels sooo good to drive. You can be cruising along placidly at 110km/h wafting pleasantly to your destination, but when you decide to get going the V6 snarls, you are shoved firmly into the seat and you leave the traffic in your dust. Lovely stuff.

Not only does it perform exactly as required but she looks stunning. I can’t tell you the number of times I saw people stop and stare, and then smile. There are some who complain that this new Accord is too American, but I think Honda was right to bring in the slightly bigger US version to replace the previous European model.

The Civic has grown substantially and easily takes on the 3 series BMW so the Accord has to match the 5 series, E-class executive sedans from Germany.

Honda Accord 3.5 V6

Honda Accord 3.5 V6

The Accord will now compete at the top end of the mid-size executive segment says Graham Eagle, of Honda.

Honda-Accord-V6-176-seatsI agree. I found it very roomy, with serious leg room at the back and a huge, deep boot. You could easily fit 5 golfers in the cabin and their golf bags in the boot.

The front seats are 8-way electrically adjustable and very comfortable. There are two memory settings for the driver’s seat.

For longer items a porthole above the rear centre armrest (which has cup holders) opens to the boot.

The steering wheel is a joy to use. On the right are the cruise control, braking distance and lane monitor controls. On the left audio, bluetooth, telephone and menu controls.

While the Accord will waft you along cocooned in comfort and safety it is fun to drive in the Honda tradition. Performance and handling is superb, not to mention exemplary raodholding. This remains very much a driver’s car but without the harshness (sportiness) of some of its Teutonic competitors.

Honda-Accord-V6-171-camviewI loved the left side blind spot camera. When you turn left, or indicate left a camera built into the left-hand mirror shows you what is happening on that side of the car in the multifunction screen. The display includes graduated lines which help you judge the distance and speed of the car in the left lane.

One of the many extra little touches is a sun screen for the rear window which you can raise and lower with the push of a button.

The active safety features included as standard on this car are astounding. From the now mundane ABS brakes to adaptive cruise control, motion adaptive power steering, lane keeping, automatic wipers and headlights and so on, fifteen of them in fact.

These exclude the passive safety measures like six airbags, fancy seatbelts, active head restraints and so forth.

With 207kW and 339Nm on tap and a max of 200km/h do not expect awesome fuel consumption figures. You will however get a not too bad 9 litres / 100km in general use and around 7L/100km on the highway. Its a V6…  the sound and the acceleration is worth the small premium at the pump. I got 8.1 litres/ 100km on my usual route, which includes town, highway and a ten storey parking garage, which is good for this size car.

Honda-Accord-V6-030--sidePrice as tested R576 300. The range starts with the very competent 2.0 Elegance R408 400 and includes the 2.4 Executive at R471 300.

The Accord comes with everything but the software for the GPS installed. Standard features include headlamp washer, sunroof, automated headlights and wipers, rear view camera, lane watch camera, tyre deflation warning, LED day running lights, adaptive cruise control as well as climate control, and a good sound system with USB and aux connection points.

My wife says the German “Mercedesy” look on the outside with an American look on the inside might seem strange at first glance, but the layout of the control area is clean, clear and very practical. So…ignore the fake walnut not-so-nice finishing touches on the dash and rather keep your eye on the road and the admiring smiles of passers-by.

The Germans have a way of fooling the public concerning price. The V6 Honda Accord is  R25 000 cheaper than a BMW520i. Performance wise, it competes with the R80 000 more expensive 528i.

The Accord has as standard “extras” which will cost about R120 000 on a German car. Remember when it is time to trade-in, the price is based on the standard list price.

Honda-Accord-147-instrSo the equivalent (with goodies included) Audi, BMW or Merc costs between R150 000 and R200 000 more than the Accord. Making the Accord a bargain. Add to this the knowledge the Accord is probably better built and it becomes a no-brainer.

The Mercedes E250 is R673 000 without extras but offers fuel consumption around 8L/100km which is almost 1 litre/100km better.

BMW 5 series 528i is R723 000 without extras, also around 8L/100km.

Audi 2.0T A6 is R581 ooo excluding most extras and is a 4 cylinder.

No wonder this car was a 2015 SAGMJ COTY finalist.

In a nutshell the Honda Accord 3.5 V6 is great value, spacious and worry-free luxury transport.

The warranty is for 3 years or 100 000km and you get a service plan for 5 years or 100 000km included in the price.

Honda-Accord-V6-082-ass