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, 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.

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.

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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.

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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

2019 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year Finalists

2019 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year Finalists

Twelve exceptional vehicles will battle it out for the ultimate automotive accolade: the 2019 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year. The list comprises vehicles from Italy, Japan, Korea, Germany, France and Sweden and, in keeping with the diverse South African automotive landscape, it covers almost every motoring genre.

They are, in alphabetical order:

Alfa Romeo Stelvio
Honda Civic Type R
Hyundai Kona
Lexus ES
Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport
Nissan Micra
Porsche Cayenne
Renault Duster
Suzuki Jimny
Suzuki Swift
Volvo XC40

The South African Guild of Motoring Journalists believes that each and every finalist is a contender worthy of wearing the 2019 AutoTrader SA Car of the Year crown.

The 25 Jurors will be given the opportunity to drive all the finalist vehicles over the next 3 months under normal driving conditions experienced by the average consumer. The formal AutoTrader Car Of The Year evaluation days that will be held in Gauteng in March 2019 will allow judges the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with the vehicles. At these evaluation days – the most critical of which will be the scheduled procedures to be held at Kyalami – the COTY Jury will assess the cars independently, with routes and modules designed to test the vehicles on specific criteria. The Jury will also have access to performance test data, comparative pricing and specification data, as well as comparative parts pricing data.

All finalist vehicles represent examples of outstanding automotive engineering, and after careful deliberation by the 2019 Jury, Category Winners will be awarded to Premium Sedan (executive and premium sedan), Leisure SUV’s (SUV’s / crossovers), Lifestyle Utility (bakkies / derived SUVs e.g. Toyota Fortuner), Urban Compact (small hatch and small sedan) and Mid-Size (MPV, medium sedan and hatch) Winners. All of the Top 12 are eligible to be crowned the 2019 AutoTrader South African Car Of The Year regardless of Category Wins. Judging by the tight scores on the Finalists there is little doubt that the scoring to find a winner will be a very close race. An invitation to the Banquet where the results will be revealed in April 2019 will be a very sought-after ticket indeed!

 

Gumtree WRX South Africa 2017

FIA World Rallycross – Gumtree World RX of South Africa 2017

What a weekend. RX2 must become our primary motorsport formula or class. Imagine tracks in Cape Town, Swartkops, PE and Durban with a national championship of RX2 and a support class of 1.6 ‘rally’ cars. The crowds will come back to motorsport in their droves.

WRX Cape Town 2017

The event on Saturday and Sunday 11 and 12 November was an outstanding success.

Mark Cronje in Quali 3 of WRX Cape Town.

Our two local drivers did us proud. Mark Cronje got 98 points and Ashley Haigh-Smith 95. Both drivers received tremendous support on their World RX debuts but neither driver made the semi-finals. It is seriaaasly tough out there.

Ashley said to me that he did not realise before this week what a massive jump it is to WRX. He loves it. He said it is by far the best racing he has ever done.

Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson entered the record books as the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden driver won the first ever World RX event staged in South Africa. Former World RX Champion Mattias Ekstrom finished third and consequently secured the runner-up spot in the 2017 championship after a season-long battle with Petter Solberg. Team Peugeot-Hansen’s Timmy Hansen claimed second at this weekend’s Gumtree World RX of South Africa – the 12th and final round of this year’s FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy.

 

Gumtree WRX Cape Town 2017, enjoying a little rest.

In the final round of the RX2 International Series presented by Cooper Tires Frenchman Cyril Raymond rounded off a near-perfect season by taking his sixth win in the highly competitive seven-event feeder series. Great Britain’s Dan Rooke had a troubled final when he rolled his car on lap two, causing the race to be red-flagged. Despite this mishap, Rooke secured second in the 2017 standings. Sondre Evjen and Tanner Whitten finished second and third in Cape Town. Belgium’s Guillaume De-Ridder claimed third in the end of year leaderboard.

“It’s fantastic to wrap up the teams’ and drivers’ championship and to also take the win at the final round of the season,” grinned 2017 World RX Champion Kristoffersson who won a staggering seven out of 12 events this season. “The team has worked so hard this year and ten podium results is credit to how fantastic everyone has been. Obviously to break records in World RX is an amazing feeling but to have won the World Championship is so unbelievably special. It was a good weekend all round – I had a slow puncture in the semi-final but I got a really good launch in the final and when I got clear space I was able to manage the gap back from Timmy and Mattias, as well as manage the tyres well. Thanks to everyone for such a memorable season – I’m really looking forward to being back with VW in 2018.”

WRX Cape Town, Hansen in the lead.

Runner-up Hansen added: “This has been one of the best weekends I’ve had this year and it’s great to finish on a high including my two qualifying wins. I really wanted to take the victory for Peugeot and this weekend we were so close – I gave it everything I had in the final but I lost a little bit too much in the first lap to be able to get ahead of Johan. The 208 has been fantastic all year and it worked especially well at this track.”

WRX semi-finals

Ekstrom’s reactions were fastest of today’s six finalists, rewarding him with the final Monster Energy Super Charge Award of 2017. Despite losing his World RX crown to Kristoffersson, Ekstrom praised the new World Champion.

“Sometimes you’re in front and sometime you’re behind – that’s just how it goes and Johan definitely deserves the win today and the World Championship too. Timmy was really fast this weekend too, but to be honest, everybody wants to win – World RX has now reached a level where everyone will battle for everything.”

When asked about the new Cape Town RX event, Ekstrom praised the enthusiasm of the South African fans. “The grandstands were full this weekend and the atmosphere and support from everyone here was amazing.”

Solberg finished fourth in Cape Town and finished the season third in the driver standings – five points adrift of Ekstrom. “Of course it’s a little bit disappointing not to take the silver,” admitted Solberg. “I am so proud of what we have done. Johan has broken so many records this year and the whole team, everybody in PSRX Volkswagen Sweden has worked and played so hard – this weekend and this year is because of them and I can’t thank them all enough.”

Damn barrier bale got in the way.

MJP Racing Team Austria’s Timo Scheider’s rounded out the top five in Cape Town after an impressive rookie season at the wheel of his Ford Fiesta. Kevin Hansen finished sixth, the Swede having retired shortly after the start with transmission problems.

In what marked the final event for the Hoonigan Racing Division, America’s Ken Block showed fantastic pace. He led the event overnight and finished second in semi-final one but was later disqualified as his car was found to be underweight.

Nine-time WRC Champion Sebastien Loeb retired on the final lap of today’s second semi-final but rounded off the season fourth in the overall standings – 13 points ahead of his team-mate Hansen who ends the year in fifth place.

Hansen leads Solberg.

Paul Bellamy, World RX Managing Director for IMG, concluded: “Our first ever event in Cape Town was a resounding success – we’ve had over 27,000 people at Killarney this weekend and they were all treated to World Championship motorsport at its best. I think we’ve won over a lot of new support during our time in South Africa and the crowd really helped make this weekend a memorable event.

Brilliant start for Cronje.

Tickets for 2018 are on sale from tomorrow which will give people plenty of time to plan next year’s rallycross weekend. I’d like to thank the organisers and volunteers for all their hard work in putting on a great event and also to the City of Cape Town for its support in making this happen. I’m also very thankful that our sponsors and other commercial partners shared our vision and were so supportive of the inaugural Gumtree World RX of South Africa.

This weekend was just the start of what I hope is a long and fruitful relationship for World RX in South Africa. We finish the season on a high and congratulations to Johan Kristoffersson and PSRX Volkswagen Sweden for their incredible season and to the rest of the teams for their continued support.”

 

 

 

2018 WesBank South African Car of the Year Finalists announced

It is that time of year again. We start to look back on the cars launched in 2017.

The COTY cars are not facelifts but supposedly new cars.

The idea is to recognise the car which has made the biggest impact on the SA car market.

Many years the judging panel get it horribly wrong, but other years again they get it right.

They are, in alphabetical order:

  • ALFA ROMEO GIULIA
  • AUDI Q5
  • BMW 5 SERIES
  • KIA PICANTO
  • LAND ROVER DISCOVERY
  • PEUGEOT 3008
  • PORSCHE PANAMERA
  • SUZUKI IGNIS
  • TOYOTA C-HR
  • VOLVO S90

Preparations now continue for the COTY evaluation days that will be held in late January 2018. At these evaluation days – the most critical of which will be the scheduled procedures to be held at a dedicated testing facility – the COTY Jury will assess the cars independently, with routes and modules designed to test the vehicles in a similar way in which the average consumer would use them.

Volvo S90 SA 010.jpg 2017 NEW SUZUKI IGNIS THE 2018 WESBANK SOUTH AFRICAN CAR OF THE YEAR COMPETITION GIVES A BIG THUMBS UP TO THE PEUGEOT 3008 SUV  Kia Picanto

The evaluation days offer the Jury the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with the vehicles on specific criteria including aesthetics, build quality, ergonomics, fuel consumption, environmental friendliness, safety features and value for money. These aspects are not only important with regards to the actual testing, but also to how the public perceives the COTY process, the finalists and ultimately the winning car. “We’ve seen many of these finalists performing well in our search volumes, with more than half appearing in our top 200 most searched for makes. It will be interesting to see who the judges choose as the winner.” Says George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO.

I personally think the Gulia and Ignis stand out.

We will see.

Ashley Haigh-Smith to drive in Gumtree World RX of South Africa

South African rally driver Ashley Haigh-Smith will make his World RX debut in an Olsbergs MSE Supercar at Gumtree World RX of South Africa, round 12 of the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy. Cape Town RX forms the final round of the World Championship and takes place at the Killarney International Raceway in two months’ time (11-12 November).

Haigh-Smith is the second South African to announce he will compete at his home event – two weeks ago Mark Cronje confirmed his Cape Town RX entry in an Albatec Racing prepared Peugeot 208 RX Supercar.

At just 25-years-old, Haigh-Smith has amassed plenty of experience behind the wheel having competed in the Junior World Rally Championship – the only South African driver to have done so – and he also holds the record as the youngest ever South African S1600 Champion. This year, he is competing in the French Peugeot 208 Rally Cup.

“I have always been interested in Rallycross, but when I was invited to the launch of the World Rallycross of South Africa in Cape Town earlier this year, it was like a switch was tripped and I could think of nothing else,” explained Haigh-Smith who was born and raised in Cape Town. “We have to be realistic about our objectives coming into the final event of the World RX season – the competition is incredibly strong. I will give my all and be relying on the deep experience and tactical support my race team OMSE will offer me.”

When talking about the home support, Haigh-Smith added: “I am a born and bred Capetonian, which makes this event extra special. Bringing World RX to South Africa is exactly what we need to boost motorsport here and get local fans excited again. It’s a fantastic showcase for the talent we have on home soil. We have the ability to host world-class events, and RX will help boost the motorsport industry, local communities and the broader economy. World RX has already caused a huge media splash and is showing spectacular spectator growth around the world. It comes down to the action-packed racing on show, as well as just how up close and personal spectators can get with drivers and teams throughout the event.”

Haigh-Smith is due to test the Olsbergs MSE Supercar in Europe in the coming weeks, but admitted it would be a steep learning curve.

“There’s so much to learn, but you can be sure I will give my all to represent South Africa and give fans something to cheer for. In the short time I have been committed to World RX, I want to thank OMSE, IMG and Killarney International Raceway who have been incredibly helpful in getting us prepared for the event. I also want to thank all who have been working behind the scenes to make this possible, I’m really privileged to have such a strong and supportive team behind me. I’m really pumped for November,” concluded Haigh-Smith.

For more information on Gumtree World RX of South Africa, please visit http://www.capetownrx.com

Tickets are on sale at the following link:

http://www.ticketpros.co.za/portal/web/index.php/event/b9153aff-d87e-2625-1a20-58c17a1f4873