VW Polo GTi

An amazing pocket rocket has just been launched.
Volkswagen call it the Polo GTi.

A few months ago we reported about the Mazda MX-5 and how it had a grin factor. You just can’t help grinning while driving it. Well, this new VW Polo GTi also has a huge grin factor. It has four modes, eco, normal, sport and individual, which lets you fiddle a bit with the settings. Put it into sport mode and the GTi snorts, howls, growls and puts you into grin mode. Only beware, the fuel consumption will soar.

Polo GTI is powered by a 2.0-litre turbopetrol engine with 147 kW and 320 Nm of torque like its bigger sister the Golf, but detuned in the Polo.

VW Polo GTi

This means the Polo GTI will sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 6.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 237 km/h. Fuel consumption is claimed by VW to be 5.9 L/100 km. From my experience with the car you will battle to get that figure. Depending on how much grinning you do your Polo will sip or guzzle. With enthusiastic driving expect around 9 L/100km or more.

The standard Polo GTI has sport suspension as standard but can be equipped with Sport Select suspension with active dampers as a quite expensive option.
Needless to say this little car is a gem to drive. Just the thing for a wealthy car enthusiast.

The interior is finished in either black, red, grey or chrome. Titan black accents are used to finish off the interior. The dashboard panel can be ordered in Deep Iron Metallic or Velvet Red as tested. Typical red GTI stitching is seen on the leather multifunction steering wheel, gear lever, floor mats and outer seat surfaces although the car we tested had grey stitching on the seats. The seats with the red trim costs R9 850 extra, but they are heated.

The cabin of the Polo GTi is pretty awesome and seriously well thought out with good ergonomics, and it appears really well put together. The chunky multifunction steering wheel is flat at the bottom and almost oval giving the car even more of a sporty feel. The new design and layout of the controls on the wheel and the paddles just behind the wheel are the best I have yet used. Very close to being a piece of art.

The seats are comfortable and supportive.

In a nutshell, a cosy, comfortable, classy, compact cabin.

The GTi is offered with a myriad of options, including:
Volkswagens’ latest Active Info Display. The high-resolution, 10.25-inch display can be adjusted using the ‘View’ button on the steering wheel or further configured via the standard 8.0-inch Composition Media infotainment system.
The panoramic sunroof is great, if a little pricey.

The advanced safety package which consists of parallel park assist, park distance control, rear view camera, blind spot detection and electric folding mirrors at a cost of R11 850.

You do not need a GTi, Polo or Golf, it has much more ability than you need for everyday motoring, but if you want a small high performance car, because you want one, the Polo ticks quite a few boxes, provided you do not have a large family, as it is on the compact side. It really is fun to drive… even slowly.

Pricing for the bog standard VW Polo GTI is R375 900. The example we drove is quite fancy and costs a little more, R423 900 according to the online configurator.

Additional items fitted to the car as tested: Metallic paint R950, Navigation with mapcare R12 150, Active info display R8 650, Park distance control R3 150, Light and vision pack R3 850, Luxury pack R8 650, Panoramic sunroof R10 550.
The option list is longer.

The new Polo GTI comes standard with a 3-year/120 000 km warranty, 3-year/45 000 km service plan and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty.

Some alternatives will be the Mazda MX-5, Audi A1, Opel Adam, Abarth 595, Mini Cooper or Renault Clio RS.

Advertisements

Opel Grandland Reviewed

Opel Grandland

When I went to pick up the new Opel Grandland at Westvaal Motors in Victoria Street, Somerset West to test for this review I was given the whole delivery treatment. Car wrapped in royal blue cloth with a big bow and a sign telling me it was my car, even if only for a few days. I was beaming, almost purring with pleasure. I was then given the whole new car owner’s briefing.

The briefing by Eloise Klop was good but the controls and layout of this new generation Opel are so practical and ergonomic that driving it comes naturally.

The Grandland is a very important model for Opel as the brand re-establishes itself in South Africa. Already a 35-strong dealership network has been established and market share is climbing. Watch this space.
It is on the one hand the biggest car from the brand in the local market and it’s flagship, but it is also the first example of the new cooperative designs from the combined PSA (Peugeot) and Opel stable. So it has big shoes to fill.

Well equipped and positioned, the new Grandland X comes to market in as the third member of the Opel X SUV family. It joins its Opel Crossland X and Opel Mokka X counterparts.

Top technologies, comfort and flexibility in the high-quality interior wrapped in a sporty and cool off-road look – this is the new Opel Grandland X, Opel says. That it is the feeling one does get. Its sister in the Peugeot stable with which it shares a platform, the 3008, was car of the year in Europe last year. Enough said.

I have a feeling this medium sized SUV is going to do well for Opel. The 1.6 turbo-petrol engine delivers good power and torque and with the 6-speed automatic gearbox gives an assured driving experience and good economy. It is really nippy around town and feels smaller than it is to drive. Speaking of size. The car feels spacious inside. Loads of room for a family and all their stuff.

Visibility is good all round and is helped by 360° proximity sensors. A really good driving position can be achieved by adjusting the highly adjustable steering wheel and seat.
I liked the leather and cloth combination seats – perfect for African conditions.

The layout of the interior is very practical too. There is a power point in the boot, a hatch to fit long items through the back seat, cup holders conveniently placed and ambient lighting for a relaxing cabin at night, among other items.

The test car was the Enjoy 1.6T A/T, which is the middle of the range model. It isn’t cheap, but it comes very well equipped. I think this is the best value option of the range. Enough toys but not a whole lot of rarely used expensive extras.
In short, a great family car and good value.

A number of new features and technologies are included in this new SUV. These include heated and ventilated ergonomic AGR front seats(certified by the AGR – Campaign for Healthier Backs) give support on long trips, adaptive headlights, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible Radio R 4.0 IntelliLink, FlexFold seats disappear with a one hand movement, hands-free autonomous parking and 360° monitoring.

The range at the moment is as follows: 1.6T A/T at R429 000, 1.6T Enjoy A/T is R465 000 and the really well equipped flagship is the 1.6T Cosmo A/T at R565 000.

The warranty is a confidence inspiring 5-years or 120 000 km and the service plan is 5-years or 90 000 km.
Also look at the Peugeot 3008, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga, Honda CR-V and Audi Q3.

Volkswagen Polo Vivo GT review

Volkswagen Polo Vivo GT

VW Polo Vivo GT

GT – the term evokes visions of past automotive glory in the sense of a roomy, performance, luxury car capable of high speed and long-distance driving. Probably a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive two-door coupé with either a two-seat or a 2+2 arrangement, historically. Think Aston Martin DB4, Maserati Gran Turismo, the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GT of 1929…

To test if the Volkswagen Polo Vivo GT qualifies as a real GT I packed it to the brim with camping gear and took it on a short road trip up the N7 via Piekenierskloof to the Jamaka Organic Farm in the Cedarberg. A good combination of mild mountain passes and long straights with a little twist in the tail.

The Vivo GT is based on the previous Polo range and has the same features as the Vivo Highline but with a few items fitted to justify the rather steep asking price. The GT also gets ‘Space’ cloth sports seats (although our test car had optional ‘leather’ seats), a rear tailgate spoiler, GT lettering wherever they would fit, a black side moulding, sporty single-pipe exhaust system with chrome trim, cruise control, lowered suspension (by 15mm), shiny ‘sport’ pedals and floor mats!

VW Polo Vivo GT on Piekenierskloof.

Optional extras on the test car included ‘Vienna’ leather seats (R9382), storage package (R2017) and smokers package (R252), which appears to be simply a lighter. The GT we drove costs R256 651 with optional extras.

You almost immediately realise that the Vivo GT has been built to a strict cost price target. It appears that where corners could be trimmed, they have been, especially the trim, if you get what I mean. As a result the car neither feels nor looks above average quality, to me. It drives OK though.

On tar, around town the GT feels nippy and handles well. The little 1.0 Litre mill does not like hills when fully laden and in sixth gear. But shift down to fourth and work the gears and you are soon moving along quite smartly if a little bumpily.

I found the suspension a little too aggressive and stiff for my personal tastes, but it certainly gives the car a boy racer feeling. Part of the ‘problem’ are the very low profile tyres. Young men will love it, probably.

Did it pass the GT test? I am not so sure. Does it pass muster as a budget Polo GTi? Probably. Just don’t go camping in the Cedarberg with all your outdoor kit. The car does not like gravel when loaded.

If you love VW and are on a budget you will be able to overlook the trim shortcuts. The basic car is well sorted and can be fun to drive. The ‘old’ Polo lives on in the new Vivo albeit slightly trimmed down. The interior though, still looks good from the driver’s seat.

Fuel consumption is very good and a sub 6L/100km can be achieved provided your right foot behaves.

Not a bad package but also look at the Highline, which I think gives much better value, good performance and a softer ride.

The Vivo range starts with the 1.4 55kW Trendline at R179 900, 1.4 63kW Comfortline at R192 000,
Tiptronic is R221 900, the smarter 1.6 77kW Highline starts at R214 900 and the base price of the 1.0 TSI 81kW GT is R245 000.

The Volkswagen Polo Vivo Hatch comes standard with a 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 6-year Anti Corrosion warranty.

A Volkswagen Automotion Maintenance Plan (starting at R7128 and topping off at R24 168 for the 5 year 100 000km option) as well as a Volkswagen Automotion Service Plan are available as options.

Ford Fiesta ST200 Limited Edition review

Ford Fiesta ST200 Limited Edition

You get the Fiesta. Then you get the Fiesta ST. And then the ST200 Limited Edition. Only 160 of them were brought into SA and they are available in “Storm Grey” metallic only.

The difference between the “normal” ST and the limited edition includes the power output which has been raised from 134 kW to a mighty 147 kW for such a small body. Maximum torque, meanwhile, goes up from 240 Nm to 290 Nm.

Do you really need 290 Nm in a Fiesta? If you want to kick ass you do, oh yes. By the way, a further 11 kW and 30 Nm are available for up to 20 seconds thanks to the engine’s overboost function. Yummy.

This means zero to 100 km/h in 6,7 seconds and a top speed which is electronically limited to 230 km/h.

Enhancing the handling, the limited edition has a rear twistbeam with a claimed 27% more roll stiffness.

Inside are Recaro heated sport seats with partial leather and two-tone seatbelts, nogal.

The interior is well designed and appears to be well put together. The Sony based infotainment system is good but is not the new Synch3 system. Space at the back is limited.

Cars.co.za said of the ST200LE that it is “pointy, agile and heaps of fun. There’s more to the Ford ST200 than just a hot hatch label. It allows the driver to feel the limit better through its steering, the suspension is set up to tip the car into corners from the rear.” We concur.

This limited edition ST200 is designed to put a smile on your face. It really is fun to drive. Handling heaven. The gearbox is oh-so-smooth and is near perfectly mated with the clutch. You will have to look long and hard to find a better combination.

The steering is also just right, not too light and with plenty of feedback. Ford have got the whole package right, I think.

I found it a little “hard”, for everyday use though, bearing in mind that I have been around the block. I think you can tell the difference between an old and a new R5 coin if you drive over them. So I can safely say it is a young man, with petrol in his veins, type of car.

Dynamite, and so a handful when given rein.

Possibly the best little hot hatch in SA, especially at the price.

The ST200 Limited Edition costs R339 900, which is R14 000 more than that standard Fiesta ST.
It comes with a four-year or 120 000 km warranty and a four-year or 60 000 km service plan.

The competition includes the soon to be released Volkswagen Polo GTI which has a 2.0 petrol engine putting out 147 kW from 4 000 rpm, and 320 Nm of torque from just 1 500 rpm. Expected to cost R387 500. To be confirmed next month by VWSA.

The very hot Renault Clio RS220 Trophy puts out 147 kW and 230Nm, does 0 to 100 km/h in 6.7 seconds, and hits 230 km/h in a car weighing only 1 170 kg and enjoying a taut and grip-focused chassis, for R434 900.

Ford ST200 LE

Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Comfortline Review

Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Comfortline

Polo is big in SA. I mean the car, Volkswagen’s small car to be specific.

We get two broad versions of Polo here, the new model is called Polo and the previous Polo gets a little makeover and is a little stripped down to be called the Vivo. We will be reviewing the Vivo, but first let’s take a look at the new Polo, and concentrate on the Comfortline, which we drove.

Volkswagen Polo

The sixth generation Polo is the first Polo based on the modular transverse matrix (MQB) A0 platform which has a 92mm longer wheelbase than the previous Polo (which is now the Vivo). The wheelbase, exterior length and width (by 69mm) have all grown while the car’s height remains nearly identical. This results in a sleeker look. And more space inside.

This new Polo looks really great inside and out. The styling department at VW has done a superb job, may I say, as always. It feels as big as a Golf 3 inside.

A new dashboard and cockpit layout puts this new model at the front of the pack, it is that good. A joy to behold.

VW Polo dashboard

Several dashpad colour trims are available; Limestone Grey Metallic on the Trendline and Comfortline, Deep Iron Metallic on the Highline and Velvet Red on the “beats” model which has a 300-watt sound system.

The dashboard and the centre console are slightly angled towards the driver.

This is the first Polo with digital instruments. The second generation of Active Info Display debuts in the new Polo. All key modules – except for the air conditioning unit – have been integrated on the upper cross-panel of the dashboard locating the infotainment system much higher than before into the driver’s direct line of sight.

This layout is excellent, and I can argue, class leading, but at a price.

In the top trims the new Active Info Display and the new 8-inch touchscreen are combined to form a modern, glass-encased functional unit.
The Active Info Display is an expensive option on the Comfortline and Highline models, though.

There are six packages, from the very basic Trendline, to the Comfortline, Highline, GTI, beats and R-Line.

The beats special edition is especially colourful and loud with, for example, the dashpad a hectic “Velvet Red”, a massive sound system by Dr. Dre.

In the Comfortline trim level, the Multi-function Display “Plus”, the Composition Colour infotainment system with six speakers, leather multi-function steering wheel, Driver Alert System and front and rear electric windows are included.

The swankier Highline gets additional features such as the Composition Media infotainment system, App Connect, Voice Control, Sport seats, Cruise Control with speed limiter and white LED ambient lighting (front doors and instrument panel).

New features for the Polo include the lane change system Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, semi-automated Park Assist system for exiting parking spaces, the proactive occupant protection system and a manoeuvre braking function, but these are optional extras which can cost quite a lot.

The 0ptions fitted to the car we drove include the following: Front armrest (R1 412), cruise control (R1 815), smoker’s package (R251), App Connect (R1 513), voice control (R756), Active Info Display (R8 675) Composition Media (R3 026) with iPhone interface (R1 513), light and sight package (R3 883), Discover Media (R12 104).
Total of optional extras fitted to the car reviewed: R34 398.
Park distance control is an option at R4 690. Really?

The boot is quite a bit bigger than the previous Polo at 350 L. As a general comment you could say it is a big, little car. It feels spacious.

The smallest TSI ( 3-cylinder, 999cc) for the new Polo has an output of 70 kW (at 5 000 rpm)and 175 Nm and is standard for both the Trendline and Comfortline. Even at the coast you run out of steam quite quickly, so it will be best to go for the 85kW engine option.
VW claims 4,5 L/100 km. I think that is very optimistic. An 8km stretch I drove in town returned 11L/100km but expect around 6 L/100km on average if you do not push on.

The real cost of the Comfortline we drove is R299 098. A difference of R34 398 to the basic price as listed below.
Recommended Retail Prices (VAT and emissions tax included)

1.0 TSI 70kW Trendline R 235 900
1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline R 264700
1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline DSG R 280700
1.0 TSI 85kW Highline R 286200
1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSG R 302200
All Polo models come standard with a 3 year/45 000km Service Plan,
3 year/120 000km warranty and a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty.

Also look at the Honda Jazz, Ford Fiesta, Suzuki Swift, Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio, Mazda 2 and Renault Clio. The Mazda 2 Individual, in particular, at R238 00 looks like a bargain in comparison.

Nissan X-trail 1.6 dci Tekna 4WD review

The X-trail has been a firm favourite for many years. And rightly so. It filled the niche and largely created the soft SUV segment, although it has now become a crossover.

Nissan X-trail in Onrus

I reviewed the Alfa Romeo Stelvia at the beginning of January. Many people stared at the car as I drove past. Admiring the really beautiful lines of the Stelvia, which can be described as a work of art, on wheels. Interestingly the new ‘facelifted’ Nissan X-trail, which I have been driving this week got as many , if not more ‘stop and stares’. Especially men. They looked at the car and when they saw the badge they smiled, I suppose in approval.

Inside the X-trail is in its own way every bit as good as the Stelvia.

Nissan call it a crossover. No claims to real SUV ability. I like that, even though it has arguably more off tar capability than many “SUVs”. Nissan are a market leader and pioneer in this segment and it shows.
This new medium Nissan crossover has the class leading cabin and dash. Design, layout, equipment, materials, fit and finish are all top class in the range topping Tekna configuration, which I tested.
If you are looking for a premium crossover that offers comfort, versatility and smart technology, look no further. It is really that good.

I particularly liked the data display in front of the driver which has 7 different pages which you scroll through with a button on the multifunction leather steering wheel. The bigger display is only used for the maps, setting your radio and phone up, manoeuvring and cameras.

X-trail has the following new generation tech:
Blind spot intervention which alerts the driver to the presence of vehicles in blind spots diagonally behind the car.
Lane intervention which alerts the driver when it detects that the X-Trail is straying from its lane.
Cross Traffic Alert which can detect and warn the driver of vehicles that are approaching behind the X-Trail, especially when parking or leaving parking.
Emergency Braking which uses radar technology to keep an eye on your speed and proximity to the vehicle in front of you, and will alert the driver before engaging the brakes.
Forward Collision Warning helps alert drivers of an impending collision with a slower moving or stationary car.
Auto Headlights which automatically changes between high and low beams when it detects oncoming vehicles at night.
Around View Monitor with moving object detection – a support technology that assists drivers to park more easily by providing a better understanding of the vehicle’s surroundings.

Nissan X-trail

Nissan claims a combined consumption of 5,3 L/100km. I got about that on the open road, but a still very good, 7.6 L/100 km in general urban use including a trip to Onrus where I took the pictures. The 1.6 turbodiesel puts out 320 Nm, which means you have oodles of power, which combined with good road holding, a well balanced steering and a slick gearshift makes for a very good touring and town car. Why spend more to have a fancy badge on the bonnet? Did I mention that the seats are really comfortable over longer distances?

Even cats like the new X-trail

In addition the new X-trail is fitted with active trace control, active ride control, all the latest braking tech and a lovely suspension setup. You can even go a little off the beaten path. The car has 209mm ground clearance and 50/50 4×4 lock to get you over fairly gnarly routes, but it is not a hardcore offroader, although it will tackle small dunes with aplomb.

The boot, with the sears up holds 550 litres and a full spare. With the 60/40 seats flat at least double that. Space, in general, in this X-trail is generous. There is a 7-seat version available, but the additional seats are for GOT’s Tyrion Lannister and his ilk or primary school children, but you will have almost no boot.

The new Nissan X-Trail comes with Nissan’s class-leading 6-year/150 000km warranty, a 3-year/90 000km service plan and 24-hour roadside assist.
Service intervals are at 15 000km and the new X-Trail is priced as follows:
2.0 Visia R 369 900; 2.0 Visia 7s R 374 900
1.6 dci Visia 7s R 392 900
2.5 Acenta CVT 4WD R 425 900; 2.5 Acenta CVT 4WD 7s R 429 900; 2.5 Acenta Plus CVT 4WD 7s R 444 900
1.6 dci Tekna 4WD R 457 900 (which we tested)
2.5 Tekna CVT 4WD 7s R 469 900
The best value is possibly the 2.5 Acenta CVT 4WD at R 425 900.

The X-trail is bigger inside than most of its apparent price rivals, but also look at the similarly sized Suzuki Grand Vitara if you need real 4×4 ability, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, VW Tiguan and Toyota Rav4.

Suzuki Ignis

Suzuki Ignis
Suzuki says the Ignis is “a small crossover with the big heart brings a breath of fresh air and innovation to the local small car market by linking the wieldy agility of a city runabout to the robust styling and stance of an all-terrainer.” It is a sort of small cheeky cross-over compact hatchback.

It is also safer than most of its competition, thanks to among others ABS and air bags.

Suzuki Ignis on Strand Beach.

Offered in GL and GLX versions, the Ignis features a spacious and well-equipped interior. Despite its compact exterior size, there is good legroom and headroom, while the boot offers 260 litres of cargo space, expandable to 469 litres with the rear seatback folded flat.
Standard items across all models include electric windows, remote central locking, air-conditioning, electric power steering, and an MP3-compatible CD sound system with USB port and 12V accessory power socket.
The bigger than you think interior is a funky modern space, with a two-tone black and white treatment creating a fresh ambience. The body colour is repeated in the door handles and the central tunnel.
Most functional items are standard with the options being mainly for style and individualisation. It also has more usable space than the competition.

Safety is a big plus with the Ignis, which has air bags, ABS and EBD brakes and proper safety elements like Total Effective Control Technology (TECT), which includes crumple zones that efficiently absorb the impact of a collision, a chassis that efficiently distributes the impact energy, and a rigid passenger safety cell.


With 180mm ground clearance and a power-to-weight ratio of 71,65 kW/ton you can go places slightly off the tar road. I found the car fun to drive although the clutch is a bit soft and there is no self-centring for the steering. Even so, I liked it.

Suzuki claims consumption of 4.9L/100km with the sporty 1.2 litre 4 cyl motor which has a, to me, delightful growl and it is very frugal.
The Suzuki Ignis 1.2 GLX costs R189 900

This is one of the best little cars available locally. And its cheap as chips for what you are getting. I highly recommend it.

Warranty of 3 years or 100 000km and a 30 000km service plan.
The competition includes the Mazda2, Ford Figo, VW up!, Smart ForFour, Kia Picanto and Honda Brio.