Audi A1 35 TFS1 review

The baby from Ingolstadt is quite a little charmer and feels sporty, smart and upmarket as befits any model sprouting the four rings of Audi.

The A1 just looks right, both on the outside and in the cosseting cabin. The styling is in my opinion spot on and the quality is, well, Audi. Its smart and feels premium. The new model builds and improves on the previous generation and won’t disappoint Audi fans.

Audi Ai 35 TFSi

The nose of the new models has been quite radically changed with a new bigger grille, model specific LED daytime running lights and other changes depending on the options selected. The car as a whole is quite a bit bigger than the original.

The performance and handling is sorted and feels sporty. It is clearly aimed for life in the city, although she will soak up the long road. If you are planning t overtake when the car is fully loaded it may be worth your while to select sport mode as the normal mode will be a little leisurely for some at the moment you floor the volume pedal.

The point is – this car is fun to drive anywhere, especially in Sport mode. Aficionados of the four rings brand will love the new baby from Ingolstadt.

 

The cabin of the A1 is top class and really well laid out. The dash is a little busy. but that is just quibbling. I don’t think you will have any complaints. The bright yellow trim may become a bit much but I kinda liked it. Gives the whole look a youthful zest. The Audi optional MMI display system is impressive and functional, if a little excessive.

The 1.5L turbo-petrol engine produces 110kW and a pretty good 250Nm through the tried and tested VW group 7-speed S tronic box to deliver a satisfying driving experience. I only managed to achieve 9L/100 km in town, but the long term average consumption of the car is 8L/100 km in mixed driving. With a heavy foot in Sport mode expect around 10L/ 100 km and if you really drive with economy in mind you may get 7L/ 100 km.

The car we drove has a total value of R602 500, which includes a long list of optional accessories to the value of R143 600. These include obvious extra accessories like a fancy Bang & Olufsen sound system at R9 500, special 18 inch alloy wheels at R15 600, MMI navigation plus limited Audi connect at R24 500, a black roof at R10 600 and park assist at R13 000.

Some not so obvious extras are the climate and cruise control at R10 300, powered external mirrors for R4 100, leatherette cover for handbrake lever an astounding R2 500, headliner in black at R3 000 and the leather steering wheel at R3 400.
The seats also cost more than standard and the virtual cockpit and smartphone interface is R9 900.

This means the bare car at R458 900 must be quite a plain bare bones affair. Do not judge the car by the pictures you see, especially the dash as it alone has been upgraded by about R45 000.

There are three models in the A1 Sportback range:
30 TFSi with a three cylinder 1L engine at R359 900 (same as standard T-Cross)
35 TFSi with four cylinder 1.4 engine at R458 900 (what we tested)
40 TFSi with four cylinder2.0L engine at R488 000 (driver’s delight)
These are quite basic cars at list prices so plan on adding R100 000 worth of equipment or finishes to the car of your choice as well as either the S-line pack or advanced spec level.

Alternatives include the Mazda3 Astina, Mini Cooper Hatch, as well as the BMW 118I, Honda Civic Hatch and VW Polo GTI with a bit of a stretch.

First published in AutoSold.

Audi Q3 S-line 35 TFSI S-tronic review

She is turbo blue. Very, very blue.

Audi Q3 S-line 35 TFSI S-tronic

She is seriously sassy and has a pair of hips to make das Bavarian Mädchen blush.

Audi’s Q3 is a thing of beauty, from the neatly ironed crease lines to her alcantara trimmings to her stunning dashboard with its oh so smart displays.

Altogether a great work of design. Although I must say I think her mouth is a little big, but let’s not quibble.

Let us also put the elephant in the room to pasture. What with the R152k optional extras fitted to our review car the sticker price is a little eye watering at three quarters of a million Rand, for a subcompact luxury crossover SUV designed for on-road use.

If you have the cash lying around and your heart says yes, you will enjoy this car.

Q3 enjoying the gravel in Betty’s Bay.

I found the engine somewhat laggy and the gearbox a little undecided, but if you are “rustig” and not in a rush, all is well.

Audi claims a 0-100 kph sprint time of 8.9 seconds and it’ll run to a top speed of 204 kph. The Q3 sits well on the road like all Audi’s do and the steering is satisfactory. I got around 7.5L/100km on the open road and around 12L/100km in town, partly perhaps because the little 1.4 engine which puts out 250Nm and 110kW, is working hard (but willingly) to move the relatively large body. Hopefully Audi will add the 2.0L engine soon to the line up. Now that will be a winner.

Audi have chosen wisely in the wheels department, the 18inch 235 x 55 tyres 100v from Hankook give just the right amount of feedback without becoming harsh. A very good compromise and just another example of how well thought out this car is from a design and styling point of view.

The cabin is a pleasure to be in. There are 3 trim levels: Standard, Advanced and S Line. The MMi (multimedia) selector wheel of previous Audis, which was good for inputting instructions when the car was bouncing along a road, has been removed. Personally I think the large touchscreen, good as it is, at the expense of real buttons is a bridge too far. It’s hard to hit the icons with a jiggling finger, however sharp the image may be. One tends to leave fingerprints on the screen as well. Thankfully the climate control retains actual knobs. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster is standard and includes all the information you really need.

The rear legroom is good, partly because the seats can slide backwards or forwards depending what your greatest need is – boot space or leg room. In fact the cabin feels quite roomy.

There are four equipment and two styling packages.

The Comfort package at R21 500 adds electric seats with 4-way support and heating, electrically opening and closing boot gate, and park distance control. The Technology package adds MMi navigation, virtual cockpit plus and ambient lighting at R33 500.

For R34 900 you can get the Sport Package which will give you 19 inch cast alloy wheels, 20-spoke V style, Alcantara/leatherette combination upholstery, headlining in black and  ports contour leather-wrapped steering wheel, 3 spoke, flat-bottomed, with shift paddles and multifunction plus.

Finally the S line Interior Package offers bespoke S line styling elements which add a distinctively sporty look to the interior for R15 900.The Black package changes bright trim to black while the parking package adds a 360° camera and park assist for R26 500.

Pricing

The basic trim level costs R565 000, the advanced line R585 000 and the S line R599 000.
A five-year or 100 000 maintenance and repair plan is included.

Cars offering similar specification or space include the VW Tiguan, Volvo XC40, Jaguar E-pace, Mercedes Bens GLA, Peugeot 3008, Mini Countryman, Kia Sportage and Mazda CX5.

VW T-Cross 1.0 R-Line review

Very soon Volkswagen will offer a full range of SUVs, some will be soft roaders, others like the Tiguan, more capable off the beaten track.
Although the T-Cross is built in Spain, it is interesting that VWSA built 161 954 vehicles in 2019, which is the highest production volume the Uitenhage plant has achieved since it began manufacturing Volkswagen vehicles in 1951.

Of the 161 954 vehicles, 108 422 were manufactured for export and 53 532 were produced for the local market. The production volume consists of 131 365 Polos and 30 589 Polo Vivos.

The T-Cross is the entry level crossover in VWs SUV range. It is not really that capable offroad but on gravel, on the highway and especially in town it does a really good job. It does have a slightly higher road height at 180 mm but for now at least only front wheel drive and at the moment only the little 3 pot 999cc turbo-petrol mill doing duty with one performance level available for now, 85 kW with 200 Nm, more than capable for around town. A detuned 70kW version of this motor and a 1.5 TSI engine with 110kW are on the way. You can order one already.

 

VW T-Cross at Moulie Point

Things to like

  • Looks – she is certainly a looker
  • Size  especially rear leg room
  • Ride is good, but I would prefer 16″ wheels and higher 60 profile tyres
  • Good visibility even for a short driver
  • The cockpit layout in the R-Line is very pleasant and functional. The VW multi-function steering wheel is a joy to use.

 

Little niggles

  • Start button behind gear lever on left
  • Hard plastics
  • Small boot
  • No climate control only air-conditioner, only mentioning it because it is an expensive little car
  • With my driving style I found the car had an irritating pause before the power came on. Its as if it misses a beat.

The optional ‘Energetic Orange’ design package makes the T-Cross truly eye-catching for the very young at heart:

VW T-Cross

• Seat covers in ‘Diag’ design with seat centre and inner sections in Orange and Ceramique
• Décor in ‘Transition’ 3D design in Energetic Orange and Grey
• Design element in steering wheel in Energetic Orange
• Exterior mirror housings in Energetic Orange
• Black 18 inch ‘Cologne’ wheels with Hot Orange finish for T-Cross Highline

Pricing

Note the review car has a few optional extras:

  • KESSY Keyless entry
  • beats® Sound System
  • Park Package (Park Assist, Rear View Camera and Power-fold Mirrors)
  • Infotainment Package (Discover Media: 3D Map, App-Connect, Voice Control, Inductive Charging and Active Info Display)
  • LED Headlights and Rear View Camera
  • R-Line Exterior with 17-inch Manila alloy wheels

The Comfortline we drove costs R334 600 without the optional extras. The extras fitted to our test car cost R70 050, bringing the total cost to R415 035 including VAT.

The 1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSG® costs R365 000 and the 1.5 TSI 110kW R-Line DSG®  is priced at R403 500.

T-Cross side-by-side with a Polo. You can see it is taller, wider and rides substantially higher.

Competition

Renault Duster 1.5dCi TechRoad auto R332 900 ¬- Best buy
• Ford EcoSport 1.0T Titanium auto R357 300
Haval H2 1.5T Luxury auto R329 900 – Good option, facelift just launched
• Mahindra XUV 300 1.5 TD R324 999
Suzuki Vitara 1.4T GLX auto R399 900 – Solid alternative
• Kia Seltos 1.6 EX auto R371 999
• Hyundai Creta 1.6 Exec LE auto R397 900

The warranty for the T-Cross is still only 3 years or 120 000 km.
The small SUV/ crossover market segment is wide open. Take your time and go and test drive a number of cars before deciding, especially the three cars which have been highlighted.

 

 

Ford Everest XLT Rrview

The sweet spot in the bakkie based SUV universe may just be held by Ford’s Everest XLT.

Ford Everest XLT

The Everest is a medium to large SUV with all the bells and whistler one could want, and the few goodies it is not equipped with as standard you can add on as optional extras or you can get the Limited Edition.

The Everest is perhaps the best of the large bakkie based SUVs available in SA. It is definitely the prettiest, has the best handling, cleverest packaging and a really good infotainment system. The design and operation of the third row of seats is streets better than the competition.

The interior is practical, well laid out and very comfortable to spend time in. I like the instrumentation which is comprehensive but uncluttered and clear. The cabin is very car like , well finished and uses pleasant materials.

Ford’s Synch3 infotainment system is one of the best on the market. It is easy to use, comprehensive and works first time. A joy to use.

The Everest feels fairly wieldy around town and is easy to park thanks to its various parking aids. Its easy to drive in town and a joy on the highway. A modern Grand Tourer especially in our context where bad roads and sand are to be expected during an extensive tour of especially our game parks and nature reserves.

The newish two litre diesel mill, built in Port Elizabeth, enjoys two turbos giving 500Nm and 157kW coupled to a superb 10-speed gearbox. Having 10 gears means a wider ratio-span, resulting in better acceleration and responsiveness in all driving conditions, matched to improved fuel efficiency of around 10L/100km if your foot is not too heavy. Very nice to drive.

Six models are available in the Everest range, starting off with the XLS 2.2 TDCi which provides an extremely competitive range of standard comfort, convenience and safety features.

Four XLT models are included in the new line-up, with the option of the all-new 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo and Single Turbo engines, along with the current 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi.

I think the Everest is a better package than the Toyota Fortuner, Isuzu MU-x or Mitsubishi Pajero Sport,although the latter handles really well. It hits the sweet spot in this niche.

Bear in mind that you need to consider trim level, in our case XLT, type of engine and turbo set up, in our case 2.0 bi-turbo and 4×2 or 4×4, in our case 4×4.

Ford Everest XLT

Cost: the 2.0 BiT XLT 10AT 4WD we drove is listed at R701 500.

The range starts with the 2.2 TDCi XLS 6AT 2WD at R522 700.

The top-of-the-range 2.0 BiT LTD 10AT 4WD is a slightly eye-watering R776 500, but it is really very comprehensively equipped.

The warranty can be extended to  7 years or up to 200 000 km, but talk to your dealer for exact details. The standard warranty is 4 years /or 120 000km.

 

 

 

Peugeot 108 review

A little French charmer from the Czech Republic – Peugeot’s 108.

PSA, the group which owns Peugeot, Citroën and Opel, has launched the final model in its cleverly thought out local model range which includes a large van, three SUVs and three cars.

The 108 Active is a small hatch or city car which will be competing with the established segment leader, Kia’s Picanto, VW’s Up and Toyota’s Aygo. Interestingly, the 108 and Aygo share a common platform. First introduced in 2005, these city cars are now in their second generation and are built in the same factory in Kolin in the Czech Republic.

Despite the fact that these cars share so many parts, the boot in the Toyota Aygo is slightly smaller than that in the Peugeot 108.

Peugeot offers only one model of the 108 in South Africa, the 5D Active. It is well specced and priced. It seems to be aimed at young first time buyers and older women. As a result it can be customised with eight body colours to choose from, plus themes, special editions and different interior ambiances.

Equipment includes air-conditioning, a simple but good touchscreen infotainment system which is compatible with Apple and Android devices and a good trip computer display. There are three plug points; USB, 12v and Din.

The 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine is not turbocharged and produces a paltry 53 kW and 93 Nm. Fuel economy is claimed at 5.2 L/100 km and is not too far out. Expect around 6 to 7 L/100km depending on your driving style. In town the engine feels responsive and the clutch is easy to use. Safety is well looked after and even includes hill hold. The engine is quite noisy during acceleration, but not unpleasantly so.

Ride quality is fair, and almost fun in town. On the long road you will, if you are slightly older or bigger, fairly rapidly sit ‘through’ the seats which are fine but rather lightweight. At speed there is quite a bit of wind and road noise.

I found the little lion cub to be very much at home in the city and easy to live with. You do not need anything more in a city car.

Peugeot says customers who encounter a mechanical issue with their vehicle will be afforded the use of a courtesy car and that replacements parts will be made available swiftly and be competitively priced. Peugeot South Africa is desperate to right wrongs, change preconceptions and restore some pride.

According to Peugeot when you buy a car from them you are joining the pride, based I suppose on the idea of their rampant lion logo. Dubbed ‘Peugeot Pride’, every 108 has a 5-year/100 000 km comprehensive warranty, a 5-year/ 100 000 km service plan, roadside assistance, use of a courtesy car while in for repairs, 24-hour customer care contact centre, licence renewal reminder, as well as service plan and warranty expiry notifications

The Peugeot 108 1.0 Active is priced at R179 900. The comparable Aygo is R177 900 but has no service plan and only a 3-year warranty. On paper the 108 is the better buy, but go and drive the cars before deciding, as the cars have very different personalities.

Ford Ranger Raptor review

The cherry on top of the double cab world. That’s one way of looking at it. VW supporters will argue the V6 Amarok is quicker in a straight drag, and it is. You could argue the MB 190kW X-Class V6 is pretty hot with its 190kW and a peak torque of 550Nm. And you would be quite right.

But. And its a big but.

Ford Ranger Raptor

The Raptor has something special about it.

It is special.

It is a double cab bakkie yes, but it is also a full blooded performance car. And how it performs on gravel and jeep tracks is most gratifying.

The secret is really the long-travel suspension. The rear is taken from the Everest giving it a car like ride but that is just the beginning. Ford and suspension hot shop Fox developed special high performance struts and widened the wheelbase by 150mm.

The cabin has also been finely tuned to reflect its sport bent. Special seats with technical suede, sporty steering wheel paired with lightweight magnesium paddle shifters, blue stitching trim and a top class electronic traction and handling package all contribute to a feeling that you are in a very special vehicle. I love it.

The Ranger Raptor’s Terrain Management System (TMS) includes a Baja mode, inspired by Mexico’s famous Baja Desert Rally, which enables ultra-responsive, high-speed off-road performance. In this mode, vehicle systems like Traction Control are pared back to allow spirited off-road driving without intervention from the vehicle’s on-board systems. Gear selection is optimised for maximum performance, and the mapping will hold gears longer and downshift more aggressively.

The Raptor is wide and has an almost mean stance.

The Raptor is equipped with 7 airbags, ABS with EBD, Electronic Stability Control with traction control, hill start assist, hill descent control, adaptive load control, trailer sway control and rollover mitigation.

Raptor comes in a range of colours of which the grey is my favourite.

A newly developed 2.0-litre bi-turbodiesel engine producing 157 kW and 500 Nm coupled to a ten-speed autobox gives this bakkie loads of performance and fairly good fuel consumption, dependent on the weight of your foot. It is fun to drive. In town, on the highway and most definitely on a gravel track.

Ford Raptor dash

Equipment levels are top class with literally everything you could want as standard.

Is it worth the extra cash? The Raptor has everything included in the sticker price. The Amarok Canyon is R799 000 plus R20k for the satnav infotainment pack. The Mercedes X350 is R904 188 without satnav or park assist etc. so its around a million.

So, if its the right car for you it is almost a bargain at R786 400.

Next year (2020) a new Isuzu bakkie will be launched to take on the Ranger, Amarok, X-class, Navara, Triton and the new bigger Steed, but for now I think the Raptor is the one with that little bit extra – the Mustang of bakkies.

Raptor has a  4-year /120 000 km comprehensive warranty, 5-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty, 3 years of roadside assistance, 6-year/90 000 km service plan with intervals every 15 000 km.

 

 

Citroën C3 Aircross Feel Compact SUV

The French connection is here once more. Saucy Citroën is showing a bit of leg again as it were.

Citroën C3 Aircross Feel Compact SUV at Audacia on the R44 near Somerset West.

The first of their three new models which we are looking at is the Citroën C3 Aircross which is based on the C3 supermini but with a longer wheelbase and of course a taller stance. It is interesting just how many people said it looks like a Mini to them.

Taking a step back, Citroën have only recently returned to our market after having temporarily withdrawn three years ago when their previous distributor messed up. They are now taking advantage of being part of the big Peugeot – Citroën – Opel group and piggybacking on the existing Peugeot dealer network and spares infrastructure. The Aircross is built at an Opel factory in Spain.

“With its unique body style, personalised features and connectivity, the new C3 is a bold, fresh, modern car. It illustrates the ongoing Citroën product offensive,” said Xavier Peugeot, Citroën Brand Product Director.

The C3 aircross has got good space for this niche and has the largest boot in the segment with a standard volume of 410 litres which can be increased to 520 litres thanks to the split rear sliding seats. The boot is fairly easily accessible via the large-opening tailgate and benefits from a low loading sill.

Total load volume with the rear seats folded down is 1 289 litres.

A nice touch is the dual-height boot floor which provides a flat floor when the rear seats are folded down.

We drove the base or Feel version, which is still a well equipped vehicle. Standard kit includes alloys, LED running lights, cruise, air con, and USB phone mirroring. It runs on 16-inch alloy wheels.

If you need or want navigation (but don’t want to use your phones), keyless entry and start, park assist, 17” wheels and optional sunroof consider the Shine model for around R20 000 more than the Feel trim level we tested, although I think the Feel hits the sweet spot.

The Mirror Screen function including Android Auto, Apple Car Play™ and MirrorLink® lets you take advantage of the multimedia content and apps of your smartphone in safety, by duplicating them onto the 7-inch touch screen for easy use.

This new-generation navigation function comes with connected services such as TomTom Traffic, for real-time traffic information, service station and car park location and prices, weather forecasts, and a local point-of-interest search function.

Annoyingly you have to use the touch screen every time you want to adjust the air conditionioning.

I thought the materials used, layout and seats is geared to make you feel at home. The interior is pleasant and the seats feel comfortable.

The Aircross has decent ground clearance and soft long-travel suspension, with the weight over the driving wheels giving acceptable handling and road holding. The three-cylinder 81kW 1.2 L turbo-petrol mill coupled to a new 6-speed automatic transmission is a little noisy at times but does provide adequate power and fuel consumption of just under 9 L/100km, although Citroën claims 6,5 L/100km.

Citroën C3 Aircross Feel Compact SUV

This car does better in and around town than on sweeping mountain passes, but is a cinch to park and manoeuvre in tight spaces.

The Citroën C3 Aircross Feel is listed at R339 900. The Shine is  R359 900. Included in the price is a 5-year or 100 000 km warranty and service plan, courtesy car, guaranteed parts basket and licence renewal reminder.

The Opel Crossland is in fact a sister model to the Aircross. Also look at the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke, New Hyundai Kona, Suzuki Vitara, Kia Stonic and VW T-cross.