MINI One review


The MINI One is like a Mini Cooper, only not quite, it’s been trimmed down a bit.

Mini One

Mini One

In its way closer to the original Mini than any of the other modern Minis. So on one level it is a winner. It has a certain stylistic integrity and nostalgic feel to it.

But then you look at what else you could buy and keep a bag full of change and you wonder.

What do I really get in the package MINI calls One?

The engine you get is a three cylinder twin turbo 1.2 unit delivering 75kW and 180Nm. Not too Mini_one_outlineshabby. They claim a very optimistic 4.9litre/100km. I got just under 7 L/100km, which is not bad, but its not even close to 5.

You get a really pleasant driving experience. It’s fun and feels sure footed. I think it sounds fabulous. I just loved the roar of the three cylinder mill being fed by the two turbos.

You get a funky looking car on the outside.

You get a ‘nice’ interior, but nothing to write home about.

You get to drive a MINI. Nice badge.

That’s what you get.

You do not get climate control, onboard computer with consumption figures, front fog lights, multi-function leather sport steering wheel, and so on as standard. You have to buy additional expensive Chilli and Wired accessory packages.

You do not get a big boot or rear doors or windows that can open or that children can see out of.


I am a little ambivalent about this ONE. So I got a second opinion, from my wife, Danita.

I grew up with Minis when they were still King- of- the road on the racetrack and the fast forest stages in the Monte Carlo rally.

I fondly think about them as cute, fast and very “agile”. I was extremely excited when we signed for the funky looking tomato red test car.

The outside is still a chubby road clinger look and a real eye catcher. I just love the headlights that “stay behind” when you lift up the bonnet.

Mini_one_dashUnfortunately I was quite disappointed with the interior of the car. The speed dials and layout of the dashboard looks outdated and just too basic. It just did not keep up with the hightech look of the outside. The armrest on the console and inside of the doors are way too high in comparison with the very low bucket seats. The safety belt is not easy too reach, it is too far behind you.

Surprisingly the legroom at the back of this two door car is good. A real pity that the back windows cannot open at all, quite claustrophobic!

But then…we hit the road….Yes yes yesssss!!!! I just love it – fast and footsy, oh man! So…yes you pay big time for the Branding and yes, there are many other options in this price range but oh man if I had that kind of money to spend on toys THIS would be it for sure!!!!!

So there you have it.

The manual costs a whopping R272 000 and the auto an eye watering R290 000. That’s a lot of money for a quite basic little car. But it is different and may be worth a bit of a premium.

Also look at the Mazda 2, Suzuki Swift Sport, Audi A1, Ford Fiesta, VW Polo GTI, Renault Clio, Opel Adam and Fiat 500.

Warranty is 2 years, with no distance limit but 3 years for the paintwork. A service motorplan is available at extra cost.

SAGMJ COTY – Car of the Year South Africa

Semi-finalists for the 2017 COTY

Following a vote by the full membership of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ), on new vehicle ranges introduced to the South African new car market within the COTY eligibility period, the SAGMJ is proud to announce the semi-finalist contenders for the 2017 WesBank South African Car of the Year competition (COTY), in alphabetical order:




· BMW X1

· BMW M2
















What do you think? Is this list a fair and true reflection of the new cars that made a difference this year?

Toyota HiLux 2.8 GD-6 4×4 Raider review

Toyota HiLux 2.8 GD-6 4×4 Raider

HiLux is dead, long live HiLux. The king of the bakkie world is back with a bang.

Toyota HiLux 2.8

Toyota HiLux 2.8

The latest HiLux is a big improvement over the previous model in almost every way, but especially in the important aspects like ride quality, handling and fuel consumption.

My wife, Danita, was impressed by how much better the ride is of the new HiLux. She says it does not feel like a truck anymore. She could even see over the bonnet.

“What I really liked was the smoothness of going from wet muddy conditions onto gravel, thick sand and the brutal climbing power in very windy conditions on the slippery slopes of the mountains above Kleinmond! I really like it’s versatility … a stylish loyal workhorse clad in an elegant suit.  I felt safe inside,  protected by the powerful engine and strong body. I have never been quite so relaxed during a 4×4 trip in challenging weather conditions!”

HiLux_2.8-dashVisibility is good for a double cab. The whole aspect of handling and control has been taken to a new level and is now much easier and you feel more in control. Although it is substantially bigger it doesn’t feel clumsy or vague to drive.

HiLux is selling very well, so it must be ticking the right boxes. I thought the Toyota engineers have done a good job of refining what was in its day a highly competent bakkie.

The new Hilux is available in four grades, from workhorse to Raider with SRX in the middle. There is also a specialist SR spec for the mining industry. In total there are 23 models.

Drive Mode Select (Eco and Sport) with iMT

The gearbox is really good. Toyota is using an intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) on top models.  iMT effectively incorporates rev-matching technology on both up- and downshifts, to provide a smooth drive as well as assisting drivers with smooth take-offs.

Using the 4WD change-over switch, the driver can select between 2WD, 4WD and 4WD with low range. The system allows the driver to switch between 2WD and 4WD ‘High’ on the fly, up to speeds of 50 km/h












The Active Traction Control system (A-TRC) found in the Land Cruiser family of vehicles is now also fitted to top HiLux models. A-TRC uses a combination of engine torque control and brake pressure modulation to provide maximum traction under most conditions.

Toyota claims 7.1 litres per 100 km. I got just over 8L/100km, making this bakkie light on fuel.  The 2.8 diesel delivers 130 kW and  420Nm from 1600 to 2400 rpm. The 2.8 GD-6 4×4 models allow a solid 3.5 tons of towing capability.

The eighth-generation HiLux, Toyota says is fit-for-purpose. After a week at the wheel that is my overriding impression. They know how to build bakkies having sold HiLuxes since 1969.

Little nitpick niggles

The rear bumper sticks out quite a bit from the body and may snag things especially in the veld butHiLux_2.8-nose also add wind resistance.

The rear legroom is still tight and not as good as the competition.

The infotainment screen and instrumentation is much better than the previous model but has not quite caught up to the Ranger and KB.

The bakkie we tested cost R529 900.

Pricing is as follows: Single cab:  From R228 900 to R 435 900
Xtra cab: From R333 900 to R470 900
Double cab: From R 377 900 to R593 900

There is a 5 year or 90 000 kilometre service plan. The standard factory warranty provides cover for 3 years or 100 000 km, but you can extend it to 6 years or 200 000km for R7 200.

Bear in mind four new bakkies are coming to market in 2016/17. They are the new Mitsubishi Triton and Nissan Navarra as well as the launch of the FIAT Fullback and Mercedes bakkie.

The Ford Ranger and Isuzu KB series are formidable competition. VW Amarok will catch up when it gets its facelift and new engines soon.

Also have a look at the two Steed ranges from GWM. You may just be very surprised.

VW Passat 1.8 TSI Highline DSG review

VW Passat 1.8 TSI Highline DSG


The Volkswagen Passat is a large, classy family saloon that delivers great refinement and quality in an accomplished, discreet package  the UK Auto Express summarises this car as. I could not agree more. They continue to say the only negatives they can think of are: Understated styling, not much fun to drive, lacks premium image of rivals.  I don’t quite agree. I like the styling of the Passat, but it is subjective of course.

I think its pleasant to drive but perhaps not quite up to the standard of the Ford Fusion or Honda Accord. The cabin is just stunningly good.

Do not forget the boot.  You can fit three golf bags, or a pram and a folding cot. It’s really big.

If you have just over R400k to spend and you want or need a bit of space and a big boot the Passat or Fusion is a much better buy than 3 Series, C-class or A4. Lets just look at what you get.


This car has one of the smoothest most efficient gearboxes out there in the 7 speed DSG box and when coupled to the turbocharged 1.8 petrol engine delivers a top speed of 232 km/h. Do you need to go faster? Not only that but it will get to 100km/h in 7.9 sec and VW claims using only 5.8 litres/100km, although I got 7.4L/100km on average the week I drove the car. Not too shabby.

vw-passat-dashThe interior of this car does not hit you with its brilliance. Rather you come to realise just how well designed and made this cabin is. You could live with it for years as it is ergonomic, spacious, comfortable and cleverly designed. There is quite a long list of optional extras, so you could kit it out to your heart’s desires. Basically you could get a fully kitted Passat for the price of a base, very sparsely kitted out Audi A4 which probably has the identical engine, gearbox and much of the underpinnings.

The Passat range is well equipped as standard, better than most VW models. It includes intelligent cruise control, park distance control, flat tyre monitoring, climate control, heated front seats, electronic stability control, fog lights and a good infotainment centre. All the essential stuff.

Options fitted to our test unit include sunroof, DiscoverPro navigation, ambience light package, adaptive cruise control, electric front seat, Nappa leather seats and LED headlights. Nice to haves, but not necessary, except for the adaptive cruise control which I consider a great safety feature.


The Passat will probably surprise you if you take it for a test drive. It is, like the Ford Fusion, a seriously commodious, comfortable, complete package.

The price of the 1.8 TSI Highline DSG as standard is R457 500. The range starts from R432 000 and tops out at R518 000. The car as tested had around R50 000 extras.

Warranty is 3 years or 120 000km, but the maintenance plan is 5 years or 100 000km.

Other cars in this size range include the previously mentioned Ford Fusion (R424 000) and Honda Accord (R434 600), the more expensive but not really better MB C-class, BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and the exciting Mazda 6 and Volvo S60.