Mazda3 of 2019

The new Mazda3 is a thing of beauty.

Mazda3 2019

The 7th generation Mazda3 sets a new milestone as the first production model to lead Mazda into a bold new era. Blending beautiful design and exhilarating driving dynamics, Mazda3 was developed to inspire and create an emotional bond and deep engagement with its customers.

“The Mazda3 is a strategic model that has driven Mazda’s growth from both a brand and business perspective. The outgoing 6th generation Mazda3 has delivered Mazda’s renowned driving pleasure to over 12 000 Southern Africa customers. Our mission is to build on this legacy and deliver a product that will exceed both customer expectations and industry standard with the next–generation Mazda3. The next generation of Mazda cars will enhance the value of the car-ownership experience. Through these products, Mazda Southern Africa, together with our dealer partners, aim to further raise Mazda’s brand value and work towards our goal of building ever stronger bonds our customers.” Comments Craig Roberts, Managing Director – Mazda Southern Africa.

Mazda3 in polymetal grey

New Mazda3 interior

As soon as I get to drive this car you will get a report. Hopefully it will be quite soon.

#mazda #mazda3

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Mitsubishi Eclipse review

Mitsubishi Eclipses the opposition

Eclipse Cross, the completely new compact to mid-sized crossover in the Mitsubishi stable, is one of those cars which quietly impresses you. The more you drive it, the more you appreciate what and how it offers. It is a brilliant design which shows just how much thought and development went into the car.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Introduced at the Geneva Motor Show last year and built for the world market just outside Okayama, Japan, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is distinctive enough to stand out from established rivals like the Nissan Qashqai, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Kia Sportage/ Hyundai Tucson, Peugeot 3008/ Opel Grandland X and Volkswagen Tiguan.

The car is probably the last pukka or all-Mitsu Mitsubishi as it was developed before the creation of the Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi Alliance, including the engines, safety system and transmissions.

A car of two halves, it blends rugged, off-road lower body styling with a more coupé-like upper body. There’s a dash of chrome detailing on a rather bold front along with LED daytime running lights.

Eclipse Cross dashboard

The rear has a short overhang and a hatch that features the rear windscreen split by a full-width light bar, which I found actually increases rear vision, as you can see lower.

Mitsubishi has introduced more soft-touch plastics for the critical touch zones of the cabin, while more durable and utilitarian plastics are used lower down.

The infotainment system is comprehensive, including Apple Carplay and Android Auto, and easy to use. The Bluetooth connectivity is quick and oh so easy. The car even has a heads up display (HUD) but I still think it’s a bit of a gimmick even though this one is clear and effective. All these system are integrated with the 15 element safety system in what Mitsubishi calls their intuitive technology package (MITEC) which is their stepping stone to next generation automation.

The legroom at the back of this five-seater must be best in class when the seat is at its rearmost position. In the process the boot becomes a little smaller but is still acceptable at 340 litres. With the seats in the forward position (20 cm difference) the boot space is 448 litres and with the seats folded flat even more. The rear seats which are also adjustable split 40 – 60 so all sorts of configurations are possible. A full size spare and emergency tools are stored below the floor of the “boot”. By way of comparison, the new Peugeot 3008 has a fixed 520 litres.

The seats are clad in leather and are heated in front. The driver’s seat is electrically adjustable.

Airconditioning, headlights and wipers are all automated.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

The Eclipse is actually fun to drive with crisp, precise handling through the bends and very little body roll (although ripply or broken surfaces did tend to make the rear-end fidget a little) even though it has a 180 mm ground clearance. This is partly due to the anti-yaw system which is integrated with their wheel or drive control package which among others ensures optimal torque to the wheels.

Euro NCAP awarded the Eclipse Cross a full 5-star safety rating when tested in November last year. It scored 97% for adult occupants, 78% for child safety, 80% for pedestrian safety and 71% for safety-assist equipment fitted as standard.

The company claims 7.9L/100km for the combined cycle, but I got 10L/100 km. The 6-speed CVT with 6-step sports mode does the job without much fuss. This technology has now been effectively perfected. With 110 kW and 198 Nm on hand you never run out of steam and I never needed to use the paddles to “change” gear.

The base 2.0L CVT AWD costs R449 995, while the car we drove, the 2.0L CVT 4×2 costs R399 995. Fortunately, both models come well equipped, so extras are not really necessary.

Slotting in between the ASX and Outlander the Eclipse may well hit the sweet spot in the line-up.

Eclipse Cross will make an excellent car for someone living outside the city as well. It is a perfect fit for gravel and farm roads.

Manufacturer’s warranty is 3 years or 100 000km. The service plan is 5 years or 90 000km.

The Eclipse Cross could very well be a contender for Car of the Year in 2019/2020, its that big a leap ahead for Mitsubishi and crossovers in general.

VW Caddy Maxi Trendline 2.0 TDI DSG review (Republished)

Caddy Maxi Trendline 2.0 TDI DSG (Previously published)

VW dominates the small van and minibus market in SA. Just look around and see how many couriers and locksmiths and so on drive them.

VW Caddy Maxi 2.0 TDI DSG

VW Caddy Maxi 2.0 TDI DSG

The Caddy (micro) bus gets that balance between workhorse and leisure vehicle just about right.

VW Caddy Maxi

VW Caddy Maxi

I found it a very comfortable, easy to drive, powerful, multi purpose MPV. Although based on the commercial van it is very car like and even mildly luxurious in its fit and finish. You don’t feel as if you are in a bus. It handles well even in high wind and rainy conditions.

Noise levels are also well controlled.

Interior equipment is typical VW as is the look and feel, if slightly old school compared to their latest cars, but nothing to bother you.

If you have a big family or have to move a team the Caddy could be very handy especially this slightly bigger Maxi version.

The manufacturer says you can get to 186km/h and 100km/h in 10.9 seconds. I can tell you that this 103kW diesel performs very well and makes driving effortless, especially with the 6-speed DSG box.

VW claims 6.3 litres/ 100km, but I could only manage 6.8L/100km, which is still excellent and gives a range of around 900km+ on a 55 litre tank in highway conditions (or 6L/100km, or better).

VW_Caddy_open

Options fitted to our test car include Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, Multifuction steering wheel, park distance control with rear camera, comfort package, Fortaleza alloy wheels and towbar.

Price as standard: R431 600. The panel van starts at R315 000.

We tested the Maxi version. There is also the smaller standard Caddy which is R50 000 cheaper, but the space and ride quality of the Maxi gets my vote.

Its nearest competition is the much cheaper Ford Tourneo Connect or Nissan NV200 , its sibling the VW Touran and maybe the slightly smaller Suzuki Ertiga.

It comes with a 3 year or 120 000km warranty and 3 year 60 000km service plan.

VW_Caddy_Maxi_CapePoint

Which bakkie should I buy?

Owning and living with a bakkie is more than just walking into a dealership and paying for your truck. Your experience of and with the dealership can make or break your attitude to your bakkie and the brand.

If the purchasing and servicing experience is important to you this is going to help you decide which brands to look into.

The best buying and servicing experience is measured continuously by an independent research company, called Ipsos, for the industry.

Historic data

The owners of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) in South Africa are getting a very good deal in terms of their purchasing and servicing experience according to the results of the 2015 Ipsos customer satisfaction market research of the local automotive industry.

The good level of customer satisfaction in terms of the LCV purchasing and servicing experience in South Africa is underlined by the fact that four brands; Isuzu, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen, won gold awards for purchasing and three; Isuzu, Nissan and Toyota  won gold for servicing in the 2015 survey. So the top brands to own are Isuzu, Nissan and Toyota.

Chevrolet and Ford got silver awards for purchasing, while Chevrolet and Volkswagen earned silver for servicing. Ford was the only recipient of a bronze award for LCV servicing. This may be down to the massive growth of their market share last year.

The results of the survey are subjected to four separate checks and balances or so-called quality gates to ensure validity.

bakkie sales q

The servicing winners are:

bakkie servicing

“These 2015 figures are absolutely outstanding,” commented Patrick Busschau, the Ipsos SA Automotive Business Unit Director. “The very impressive results show that both the buying and servicing experience provided by dealers franchised by the participating brands in South Africa is world class.

“Buyers of light commercials are also not short-changed from a product, as well as a sales and after-sales experience perspective, and this is very important in view of the large number of people who now buy top end LCVs for both personal and leisure use. They pay a lot of money for many of these vehicles, which are now competing with mid to high-end SUVs in the quality and comfort stakes, and it is good to see that the manufacturers, importers and dealers are putting a lot of focus on providing excellent service to those buying and operating LCVs. The Isuzu, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen brands, in particular, in the LCV segment are to be commended for the consistently excellent service delivery when customers purchase or service these vehicles”.

Servicing over time

The servicing experience has improved over time as can be seen from the graph. Satisfaction has increased from 80% to 90% over the last few years.

Latest data from 2018

Bear in mind that this research is always a year behind and many bakkies have been upgraded or renewed in the last 12 months. This is just a rough guide as to the perceived quality.

In the graph below the lower the score the better.

The smaller bakkies have the disadvantage that they are noisier and have smaller engines. It is actually wrong to compare them with the bigger bakkies.

Safe motoring.

Ford Raptor hatches

It’s fierce, it is fast and it is furious. It is also wider, rides higher and is brilliant in sand and on fast Kalahari tracks.

It is the new Ford Ranger Raptor. The ultimate big boy’s toy.

Ford Ranger Raptor

Although the new Raptor is based on the Ranger platform, it is a very different beast. The development team were given a blank cheque and told to make the fastest off-road bakkie, perhaps inspired by the very rapid US F-150 based Raptor.

Ranger Raptor suspension

They started with the chassis, which they widened by 150mm, strengthened and stiffened. An entirely new suspension was developed by Ford Australia which includes high performance Fox shocks Position Sensitive Damping, a Watts linkage at the back (from the Everset), forged aluminium upper control arms and cast aluminium lower control arms. This gives the Raptor 32% more travel at the front and 22% at the rear. An enhanced version of Ford Stability Control incorporating Roll Mitigation Function and Electronic Stability Control; Trailer Sway Control; Hill Start Assist; Hill Descent Control and Load Adaptive Control helps keep things under control.

“The standout experience of the Ranger Raptor, hands down, is how far you can push it off-road versus any other available standard production road vehicle, and still provide amazing ride comfort on-road,” says Damien Ross, chief program engineer, Ford Ranger Raptor. BF Goodrich developed new 285/70 R17 all-terrain tyres specially for the Raptor.

Top speed is governed at 178km/h due to the tyres. The Raptor cabin is exceptionally quiet when cruising on the highway.  This is due to a combination of good tyre design, noise cancelling technology and double glazing for the side windows.

The new suspension and tyres give the Raptor a ground clearance of 283mm and a wading depth of 870 mm.

Ford Ranger Raptor at full tilt

The 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo engine gets quite growly when pushed, but pleasantly so, producing a very useful 157kW and 500Nm and is mated to Ford’s advanced new 10-speed automatic transmission with magnesium paddle shifters. A unique transmission calibration also includes a Live In Drive (LID) function enabling prompt manual gear selection override.

During a drive from Upington to Goera Pan we got 9.7 L/100km at a steady 120 km/h but consumption  goes up to 16 odd at 160km/h. That is still not bad for a big bakkie.

This bakkie handles beautifully both on and off-road.  Three drive settings –  2H, 4H and 4L and six modes provide the magic. If you want to have fun you select Baja mode, which is one of the 6 modes of what Ford calls the Terrain Management System: normal, sport, sand, snow, mud and fun, er, Baja. Systems such as Traction Control are pared back to allow more spirited off-road driving, while gear selection is optimised for maximum performance, holding gears longer and downshifting more aggressively.

Driving on the Goera Pan on a specially laid out “rally” track with a variety of surfaces, bumps, dips, very soft sand, hard stoney packed stretches was an eye opener. Especially when Gareth Woolridge took the wheel of the Raptor.

The interior of the Raptor is about function. It is effectively a sports car. The blue stitching on the top of the dash and on the  really comfortable and supportive seats which are covered in technical suede add a light touch. The instrumentation is top notch, especially the “trip computer” which is actually a whole lot more. Ford’s Synch 3 infotainment system is good and easy to use and has Apple CarPlay or Android Auto . The navigation is by “Maps for Africa”  and comes with an update licence for 5 years.

There are extra ports at the back.

The Electronic Power Assist Steering (EPAS) is also linked to the TMS, providing varying levels of assistance and responsiveness according to the specific drive mode selected

The exterior is quite butch but bakkie like. Personally I think it fits the bill, especially in grey and white, although most of the media contingent like the blue version. Raptor looks the part, the big bruiser from the blue oval. Other bakkies just look peh in comparison.

The actual colours are: Ford Performance Blue, Colorado Red, Absolute Black, Frozen White and Conquer Grey, with contrasting Dyno Grey accents.

The Raptor is about going very fast over sandy or open terrain. It is a high performance vehicle. The looks, the interior, the finish, (good as they all are) are somewhat immaterial. It is the go that counts.

Raptor has all the safety systems and equipment of the normal Ranger.

The retail price of R786 400 is reasonable in the context of the delivery.

All Ford Rangers come standard with Ford Protect, comprising a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A six-year/90 000km service plan is included, with 15 000km service intervals.

Simola Hillclimb 2019

The 2019 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb was quite a varied affair. This 10th year of hillclimb at Knysna was a real celebration of the decade leading up to it.

Mustang at full throttle at the start of a practice run

I thought the viewing spot just above the Castrol stand between turns 2 and 3 was the best for viewing the runs, except for the Mitchell’s beer stall which was disgraceful. They kept selling vouchers after they knew their equipment was broken but refused to do refunds. Needless to say never a Mitchell’s for me again.

But enough of that. Felt so sorry for Charl Joubert in his Lotus Honda. He lost it in turn three.

Charl making contact with the embankment.

Fortunately he could walk away.

Franco Scribante went on to win the King of the Hill in Class B5 in his 2016 Nissan R35 GT-R with hectic wings on the front. The car not only looked menacing but made quite a noise. Loads of bang for your buck.

.

The I-Pace EV400 electric 294kW Jaguars caused quite a stir as they almost silently pranced up the hill. But without any real sound or smell it just does not do it for me. Call me old school.

Whaaat? Duracells you say? No man. You just wind them up.

Full results at: https://www.speedfestival.co.za/category/results/2019-results/

The Simola Hillclimb is really worth visiting.

There is so much else to see around Knysna that you should stay for two weeks. We stayed at Jungalo guest house in the neighbouring village of Sedgefield, which has a wonderful market to keep the ladies occupied while the lads hit the hill.

Have fun.

#JaguarSHC

Ford Fiesta Diesel

Driving Ford’s little oil burner is a real pleasure. It is an example of a design and engineering team getting it right.

The balance between performance and comfort, power and economy, price and value seems to be spot on. The driving dynamics are superb and build quality is very good.

Ford Fiesta Diesel

The new Fiestas look and are bigger than the old model, which is now called the Figo. It feels that the usable space is both bigger and more practical as is the boot. Overall this new little Ford looks good inside and out.

The Fiesta 1.5 TDCi Trend 6 MT is the model name of the Fiesta I drove. That means it is a 6-speed manual turbo diesel with the Trend or standard trim level. The top specification is the Titanium, but is not available with a diesel engine.

Ford’s Synch III infotainment system with voice control and Bluetooth is a joy to use. It is easy to set up, easy to understand and easy to use. There are two USB ports with charging functionality, integration with you cell phone and a colour touchscreen. Directly in front of the driver is an additional trip computer display with several options.

Standard equipment includes controls on steering wheel, daytime running lights, halogen headlamps, airconditioner, hill launch assist and auto stop – start.

Safety kit is comprehensive and includes ABS brakes with brakeforce assist and distribution control, traction control, airbags, front fog lights, cornering lamps and reverse parking sensors.

Fuel consumption is claimed to be 3.3L/100km but expect 4L/100km on the open road and around 5.5L/100km in town, which in real terms is good.

Fiesta is fun to drive, with excellent road manners, nicely weighted steering and brakes, a feeling of woema when you put foot and an oh-so-smooth gearbox.

This Fiesta raises the bar and is the benchmark for how a small car should drive.

Equipment included in the standard price surpasses that of most of the competition which means you are actually getting good value for money.

This is a car I have really enjoyed to drive. I would also consider the automatic 1.0 T turbo-petrol model which is priced at R277 300 and may be the sweet spot of the range.

The diesel Trend Fiesta is listed at R292 500. The range starts at R261 900 and tops out at R310 600.

The warranty is for 4 years or 120 000km and the base price includes a 4 year or 60 000 km service plan.

The direct competition includes its own sibling, the Figo which is the previous Fiesta, the VW Polo and Vivo, Mazda 2, Suzuki Baleno, Kia Rio, Honda Jazz and Hyundai i20.