Ford Kuga 2.0T AWD ST Line review

Ford has been both generous and clever with the Kuga ST line. They offer the driver a responsive fun car to drive with sporty looks and fairly sporty performance and then add dollops of luxury items as standard for a very fair price.

It is both a luxury mid-size SUV and a sporty feeling car at the same time. And very good value for money in its segment.

I really enjoyed driving the ST Line ( note: not ST) Kuga and could live very happily with it even though it is not terribly economical in turbo petrol guise although Ford claims 8.7L/100km. I think most users will average around 10L/100km, although the diesel will be lighter.

Ford Kuga 2.0T AWD ST Line

The ST Line badging implies it is not a real ST high performance derivative, but rather has more performance and upgraded suspension than the standard models, a bit like Audi offers the S-Line trim, Mercedes-Benz the AMG Line, and a number of BMW derivatives bear M badges.

The interior is restrained but smart and practical. A very pleasant space to spend time in. The Synch3 infotainment system is one of the best out there. Nothing to fault in that department.

An electric tailgate is now standard on all Kuga derivatives and includes a leg-swing opening function, a feature that allows for hands-free operation of the tailgate (even if the car is locked), as long as the key is in your pocket. The function is activated by swinging your foot under the rear of the car to open the tailgate. The technique needs a little practice, but once mastered its pretty useful.

A nice surprise was the  240-Volt two-pin plug port provided for the rear passengers. Very nifty, I thought.

A reverse camera is standard across the range, so parking is easy. The view from the very comfortable and adjustable driving seat is commanding.

The suspension easily soaks up imperfections in the road and rough surfaces and, on smooth tarmac, the Kuga offers a premium, luxury experience. It drives and feels like a car, albeit higher of the tar.

While the suspension has been tweaked to be firmer for better handling, the engineers have achieved an admirable balance between comfort and sharper handling. Its really very good.

Available in Ambiente, Trend and Titanium specification levels, with 1.5 and 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engines or 2.0 TDCi diesel.

The 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine has power and torque figures of 177 kW and 340 Nm, while the diesel gets 132 kW and 400 Nm with up to 40% less consumption than the petrol.

All Kugas have a four-year or 120 000km warranty.

Pricing is from R403,700 to R576,700. Fortunately they are well equipped, so what you expect is what you get.

The KUGA ST LINE SUV 2.0P 6AT AWD we drove costs R561 300, the diesel is R576 700. The model I like is the KUGA 2.0 TDCI TITANIUM POWERSHIFT 6AT AWD SUV at R530 600.

The Kuga is a good size, not too big, but also not cramped. With the the extensive specification, the above average handling and road holding and the great feel in mind, the Kuga must be on your list if you are looking at a medium sized SUV.

 

 

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Ford Everest Limited review

The road is mine, and the trail and the bundu. There is no hill too high for the Everest to climb. In any case that is how it feels while piloting this new update of Ford’s big SUV in SA.

Ford Everest Limited

The new Ford Everest looks much like the old one, but its how it does things that has changed.

It rides better, it goes better and the infotainment system is even better, and easily the best in this segment.

“From the value-oriented offering in the XLS 2.2 TDCi to the range-topping Everest Limited, there is a model to suit a wide range of customers, which makes it a more compelling choice than ever,” says Doreen Mashinini, General Manager Marketing at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa.

There are now six models, in three series: XLS, XLT and Limited.

But the big news is the new engine, new gearbox and new suspension in certain models.

There are basically four drivetrain options: the new 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo and Single Turbo with the newish 10-speed automatic transmission, or the current 2.2 and 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi with the old six-speed auto box.

Ford Everest Limited 2.0 Bi-turbo Automatic

Other new items include two-layer glossy metallic paint, 20-inch split spoke alloy wheels, although 18-inch diameter rims can be specified for the Limited, Ebony environment colour which changes the  ambience of the interior,  contrast stitching on the Limited, along with shadow chrome finishes, perforated leather and high-quality paints.

The maximum power output for the new 2.0 Bi-Turbo engine (built here in SA) is 157kW, matched to a peak torque figure of 500Nm driving all four wheels through the new 10-speed automatic transmission, in conjunction with the Terrain Management System.

The two turbos work in tandem. A small high pressure (HP) turbo works in conjunction with a large low pressure (LP) turbo, controlled with by-pass valves that determine the operating mode depending on engine speed. At lower engine speeds the two turbos work in series, enhancing torque and responsiveness, while at higher revs the small HP turbo is bypassed, and the larger LP turbo provides boost to deliver top-end power.

The 10-speed box reduces the gaps in power and acceleration between gears, providing smoother acceleration, and improved performance . The electronic control system features real-time adaptive shift-scheduling, engineered to help select the correct gear at the right time, including skip-shift and direct downshift capabilities.

The unit’s Progressive Range Select (PRS) system gives the driver the ability to lock out gears from the automatic shifting range for improved control. When selected the available gears are shown on the instrument cluster, with the current gear indicated. Only the available gears are then displayed, and the transmission automatically shifts between these ratios. The suspension has also been tweaked. The front-mounted stabiliser bar has been moved to the rear of the front axle, which along with an increase in diameter and stiffness gives improved roll control and handling performance, which has also enabled a reduction in tyre pressures from 240 to 210 kPa for a more comfortable ride which I can attest to.

The Limited model we drove has Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision Alert (which now recognises pedestrians, in addition to its ability to detect other vehicles), LaneKeeping Aid and Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and Auto High Beam Control.

The impressive standard safety package across the line-up extends to Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system with Traction Control (TC), Trailer Sway Control (TSC), Hill Start Assist (HSA), Hill Descent Control (HDC) on the 4×4 models, Load Adaptive control (LAC) and Roll Over Mitigation (ROM).

A full Category 1 Thatcham-specification alarm is now standard on all Everest XLS, XLT and Limited models for enhanced anti-theft security.

SYNC®3 with Navigation is standard on the XLT and Limited models, linked to the integrated eight-inch touch-screen colour display, two USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity. It is simply the best system in this category – easy to use and does what it says on the box.

The system has fully-featured embedded navigation, multi-touch gestures (such as swipe, slide, scroll and pinch-to-zoom), plus voice recognition that uses simple, real-world voice commands.

Tracks4Africa is included in the package, as well as access to maps for over 20 countries in Africa.

The Limited remains the range-topping model, offering customers a premium execution with a higher level of luxury and more active driving safety features.

The refreshed styling treatment includes side steps, along with high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps (with automatic levelling and auto high-beam control)and LED daytime running lights. The cabin environment continues the luxury touches, with a dark roof lining, illuminated front scuff plates, eight-way power and heated front seats, powered panoramic glass moonroof, as well as adaptive ambient lighting with multiple colour choices to suit the driver’s mood.

Access to the load compartment is facilitated by the a powered tailgate, while the 50:50 split third-row rear seats can be lowered or raised electrically for seven-seat configuration.

The exhaustive list of active driving safety features on the Everest Limited is top class. This includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Alert with Autonomous Braking, Lane Keeping Aid and Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring System (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), and Semi-Automatic Parallel Park Assist (SAPPA).

Pricing of the Everest range is as following: 2.2 TDCI XLS 6AT 4X2 R499 900,  2.0 Turbo XLT 10AT 4X2 R584 900,  2.0 BI Turbo XLT 10AT 4X2 R624 100, 3.2 TDCI XLT 6AT 4X4 R644 000,  2.0 BI Turbo XLT 10AT 4X4 R687 700 and the model we drove the 2.0 Bi-turbo Limited 10AT 4X4 R761 200.

Direct competitors are the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Discovery Sport, Isuzu mu-X, Kia Sorento and Toyota Fortuner. Also look at the Subaru Forester, VW Tiguan Allspace, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Volvo XC60 and Mercedes GLC.

The Everest Limited takes Ford’s SUV offering to the next level. In my opinion it is the best of the bakkie based SUVs and beats many of the others because of its versatility and ability to be both family car and adventure off-roader.

Ford Protect, comprises 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.

 

Mitsubishi Triton 2.4 Di-DC Double Cab facelifted

What’s in a face?

Take the facelifted Triton. The nose has changed. So, new face. You either love it, or hate it.

Otherwise there is much to love about the Triton, with a nose job.

Mitsbishi Triton T2.4L DI-DC A/T 4X4

At the very least a car’s face tells us something of the intentions or plan for the car. It it a puppy dog or a bulldog?

Mitsubishi claims “The new face incorporates the new-generation “Dynamic Shield” front design concept. The high hood line and beefier-looking headlights located higher up give the new model a more powerful and imposing frontal appearance.” Moving on…

The Triton has their MIVEC DOHC Intercooled Turbo Diesel with Common Rail Direct Injection producing 133kW@3500rpm and 430Nm@2500rpm using a new 6-speed A/T box.

Mitsubishi claims 8.3L/100km for the Combined Cycle.  I got 9.8L/100km.

The other big news is the new 6-Speed Automatic Transmission with Intelligent Shift Control, delivering the optimum balance of engine power, fuel economy and interior quietness with smooth acceleration at low engine revolutions. The latest version Super Select II 4WD system has an Off-road Mode available on the automatic transmission derivatives. The Off-road mode has GRAVEL, MUD/SNOW, SAND and ROCK (in 4LLc only) settings for improved traction on different road surfaces. This system is possibly the best there is. If you get into trouble you also have a rear diff lock. Triton is rated to tow a braked trailer of 3100kg.

The 4H drive mode distributes torque in a 40:60 ratio between the front and rear wheels via a Torsen limited-slip device for safer on-road driving in slippery conditions such as gravel and wet roads.

Mitsubishi’s unique Super Select II 4WD system offers four different drive modes for improved driver control and passenger safety. The 4H drive mode distributes torque in a 40:60 ratio between the front and rear wheels for safer on-road driving in slippery conditions i.e. dirt, gravel and wet roads. 4HLc (4WD High range with CD locked) distributes torque equally between the front and rear wheels for improved traction on sand, dirt and slippery surfaces like snow. 4LLc (4WD Low range with CD locked) provides greater torque for extreme off-road conditions.

I personally like the interior and the way the Triton just works, design wise (let’s leave the nose out of it) and technically.
“The new Triton is engineered to be tough and looks the part,” says Nic Campbell, General Manager of Mitsubishi Motors South Africa. “We are confident that the upgraded version will build on the popularity of the original Triton and the 40 years of development of this iconic pick-up.”

From the gear selector to the brakes, the steering – all the elements have been honed to be spot on. A more pleasant bakkie to drive will be hard to find.

The Triton has no less than 15 active safety and driver assistance systems, too numerous to mention. Suffice to say it’s got everything you want.

A high-quality look is created with soft pad materials and stitching on the floor console, armrests and parking brake. Functions include tilt and telescopic adjustable steering column with multi-function leather steering wheel with audio and cruise control, to dual-zone automatic air-conditioning and chromatic rear-view mirror.

The electrically adjustable driver’s seat allows you to get comfortable behind the wheel. The other seats are all comfortable and there is adequate legroom at the back.

Also look at the Isuzu D-Max, Mazda BT-50, Nissan Navarra, Toyota HiLux, GWM Steed and Ford Ranger.

The 2.4L DI-DC M/T 4×2 costs R509 995, 2.4L DI-DC A/T 4×2 – R529 995
2.4L DI-DC M/T 4×4 – R569 995 and 2.4L DI-DC A/T 4×4 – R589 995.

Triton is covered by a warranty of 3 years or 100 000km and a 5-year / 90 000 km Service Plan.

The manufacturer’s warranty is for 3 years / 100 000 km. Road Side Assistance is for 5 years with  unlimited mileage. The service plan is for 5 years or 90 000 km. Service Intervals: Every 10 000 km.

Opel Combo Cargo LWB

Remember the three bears and the porridge nursery story? The one bowl was just right. Not too hot or too small. Well Opel has pulled off a similar beautiful story.

Enter the new Combo Cargo Long Wheel Base, a van that is not too big, nor too little. I checked with an electrician, plumber and a carpenter, and they all thought it was just the right size and also priced right.

A bigger sister, the Zafira will be launched soon and will be similar in size as the previous Opel Vivaro van.

Opel Combo Cargo LWB

It is rated for one ton and offers two metres in length and 1.2 high, with 1.2 between the wheel arches in the cargo area. And yet the outside is small enough to fit into a normal parking bay or garage. Braked towing capability is 850kg, while unbraked is 720kg.

The other excellent feature is the cabin. Clever, in one word. It is the World Van of the Year after all.
Above the window is a ‘ledge’ or shelf which would be ideal for a clip board or A4 diary. In the dash is an old fashioned cubbyhole, a slot for something like an order book and a cubicle above the instrument cluster which has a lid and is ideal for keeping petty cash and slips and finally two cup holders. Forward of the gear lever is a space for your phone or tablet, slots for coins, a cavity for a remote and small circular holder.

The doors have the normal space with place for a water bottle and between the seats there is a receptacle for a wallet and a further two cup holders. There is also an additional 12v socket.
The bluetooth telephone system is geared to serve both driver and passenger.
I found the seats to be comfortable and the driving position good. The steering is adjustable for rake and height. The instrumentation and controls are functional and effective.

The cargo area is large (3.9m³) and long enough to hold two motorcycles or four or more mountain bikes. There are six tie down anchors and plenty of notches and holes to attach permanent fixtures and brackets. Fixing points for a roof rack are standard. There is a sixty/ forty full height rear door and doors on both sides in the LWB model. The Short Wheel Base has only one door and a few other minor differences.

Performance is good with a smooth five-speed manual box coupled to a willing 1.6L turbodiesel mill doing service. This van has more than enough power and 230Nm torque. Combined cycle fuel consumption is claimed to be 5L/100km and I think you will get under 6 in general driving and less than 5L/100km on the highway. This van is easy to drive and is more car like than commercial. The speed sensitive steering is almost too light for my taste but is a pleasure in town and makes manoeuvring simple. Speaking of which, I would have liked a rear view camera, but I am sure one would get used to the length very quickly.

It is actually comprehensively equipped with for example hill start assist, stability control, aircon with pollen filter, halogen lights, bluetooth and radio.

Opel have hit the sweet spot with this van, getting the price point, size and capability just right.

The five-seater bus version known as the Life will be available in September.

Warranty is three years or 120 000km and a three year or 60 000km service plan is included.

The direct competition is probably the VW Caddy Maxi and the Nissan NV200. All the other vans are smaller or bigger and easily R100 000 more expensive.
The Opel Combo LWB is listed at R350 000. The little sister short wheel base is R315 000, but remember it only has one side door and can handle a payload of 650kg.

The official website is: https://www.opel.co.za/cars/combo-cargo/model-overview.html

Originally published in Autosold.

Mahindra XUV 300

Mahindra has been coming on in leaps and bounds. Together with Haval I would not be too surprised if they are big players in the SUV field in three years time.

South Africa is the first international market outside of India to launch the XUV300, a small SUV with a roomy interior for its market segment. Mahindra’s compact SUV is the KUV 100.

Mahindra XUV 300

“The XUV300 was launched in India in February 2019 and has already generated over 26 000 bookings in this hotly contested market, which is roughly equal to the total size of the compact SUV market in South Africa,” says Rajesh Gupta, CEO of Mahindra South Africa.
“South Africans love the combination of a high-driving position, bold styling and functionality that SUVs offer and the XUV300 offers this in a bold and dynamic package with a list of features and specifications that are not offered as standard on many vehicles in this segment.” says Mr Gupta.

There are two trim levels and two engine options.
The first is a new three-cylinder 1.2 litre turbo-petrol engine, which delivers 81 kW at 5 000 r/min and a healthy 200 Nm of torque between 2 000 r/min and 3 500 r/min.
The second engine option is a brand-new four-cylinder 1.5 litre turbo-diesel engine that delivers 85.8 kW at 3 750 r/min and 300 Nm in a flat band between 1 500 r/min and 2 500 r/min.
There is no automatic transmission, just a smooth very easy to use six-speed manual box.

XUV300 is available with two trim levels, the standard W6 and fancier W8.

The W6, or basic, trim level offers air conditioning, electric windows, power steering, black fabric trim, electrically adjustable side mirrors and central locking.

Mahindra XUV 300 interior

The W8 includes a second USB charging point, an additional information screen between the colour-customisable LED-lit instrument cluster and electric windows with express up- and down function with anti-pinch technology. There is a glass tilt-and-slide sunroof, also with anti-pinch technology, cruise control and an integrated voice command system with steering-mounted controls.
The infotainment system has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration on the W8 and has in-built turn-by-turn navigation with regional maps as standard across the range. The system also allows the driver to pre-set many of the vehicle functions, including the background display and, on the W8, the colour of the LED backlit instrument panel.
For the W8, Mahindra has replaced the fabric seats with its light leatherette upholstery which serves to give the impression of airiness and space.

Driving aids include a tyre pressure warning system, front and rear parking sensors, a reverse parking camera with parking assistance and automatic rain-sensing wipers.
There is a glass tilt-and-slide sunroof, also with anti-pinch technology, cruise control and an integrated voice command system with steering-mounted controls.
Space utilisation is very good with good headroom and fair legroom at the back. Seating is firm but good.

You may be asking yourself how it drives.
The XUV is a pleasure to drive. The diesel produces a not unpleasant throaty roar under acceleration but is quiet while cruising. There is more than enough power and torque on tap. I can describe the car as zippy in town and it has good acceleration for overtaking. Body roll is under control. Mahindra has ticked all the boxes, as fuel consumption is also good at around 6L/100km in general use and around 5L/100km on the open road.
The XUV300 is easy to park and even has a rear camera and park assist. There are three steering settings from light to normal to sport mode, which I preferred.

I found two little negatives. The boot is a bit on the small side and some of the fit and finish needs more attention, but there were no rattles or squeaks.

This car should be on your test list if you are looking for a compact SUV.

Competition in the compact SUV field is big. The best known are the Ford EcoSport, Suzuki Vitara, Mazda CX-3, Renault Duster and Captur, Toyota Rush, Nissan Juke, Honda BR-V and Peugeot 2008.

All XUV300s have a 5-year / 150 000 km warranty and a standard 5-year / 90 000 km service plan.

The range is as follws: W6 1.2Petrol: R 249 999, W6 1.5 Diesel: R 274 999, W8 1.2Petrol: R 304 999, W8 1.5 Diesel: R 324 999.

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