VW Polo GTi

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

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

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

VW Polo GTi

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

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

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

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

The seats are comfortable and supportive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suzuki Grand Vitara 2.4 Summit AT

I first drove the bigger 4×4 Suzuki, the Grand Vitara, at the Bass Lake 4×4 off-road academy.

It was a case of: Love at first obstacle. The car is just so impressive off-road.

I loved the Grand Vitara so much I bought one for my wife. A bit like the guy who bought his wife a power drill.

Fortunately my wife loves the car as well, preferring to use the GV even in town.

Suzuki Grand Vitara near the Caledon Wind Farm

Australia’s caradvice.com says: “ small-budget, mid-sized SUV practicality with big off-roading capabilities… best dual-purpose 4×4 SUV. ”

That about sums it up. I would add that it has a sort of old school charm.

Its three big selling points are:

off-road performance,

car like size and handling in town and

excellent price.

It is a neat looking slightly boxy SUV. The Summit model comes with 225/60 R18 road orientated tyres which look good in town, but I would have preferred 65R17 ATs. The gearbox in the Suzuki Grand Vitara is a brilliant 4 mode full low range 4×4 unit which reminds one of the Pajero.

Ground clearance is 200mm, but you can add 40mm spacers and arrival and departure angles are good. So although the normally aspirated petrol engine only delivers 122kW and 225Nm, the kerb weight of 1670kg, shortish wheelbase, giving a good breakover angle, and gearing allows you to go anywhere effortlessly whether cruising on the highway or crawling up a rocky Richtersveld track.

Sand is a breeze. I have never felt the engine is a bit ‘pap’ or experienced a situation where the car has not had enough power. This includes a trip up to Kgalagadi drving on their 4×4 dune crossing trails.

Suzuki Grand Vitara Summit at the Tesselaarsdal junction.

Expect fuel consumption around the 11 litre per kilometre mark, dropping slightly on the open road.
In town it is as nippy as a small sedan, but with the added convenience of the height. It really is easy to drive and park. The boot is not very big when the rear bench seat is up but in the real world I found I always had enough space. When my wife and I go on long camping trips we take out either both rear seats or one of them (it has a 40/60 split) which gives you plenty of space.

Visibility forward and to the rear is clear and superb. The seats are comfortable and the driving position excellent. While the interior is not as good or modern as the Mazda CX-5 for example, it is functional and well put together. The rear parking camera is useful.

The Grand Vitara is big enough for 4 adults to tour in comfort.

It is a genuine 4×4 with a full low range transfer case. All the other vehicles of its size and price offer at best all wheel drive in normal high ratio only. The Grand Vitara has no direct competitor, but the two closest alternatives are the Toyota Prado and Mitsubishi Pajero SWB.

The GV model range starts atR369 900. Click here for prices and specs.

The model as tested, the top of the range Summit 2.4 A, is a very affordable R459 900.

The Grand Vitara is one of those models which should sell much better than it does. It is really far country capable but wieldy and small enough to be city friendly.

This Suzuki comes with a 6 year or 90 000km service plan and a 3 year or 100 000km warranty.

Mitsubishi Triton 2.4 Di-DC MIVEC review

The new Mitsubishi Triton 2.4 Di-DC MIVEC is quite a car.

Some will say it is a kind of weired looking bakkie, but I think its an SUV with an open boot. It drives like a car but carries like a bakkie.

Mitsubishi Triton DC

Look past the exterior with its pronounced J-line and get into the cabin. It is a different world. You can see they have borrowed a number of Pajero bits and pieces, but that’s a good thing.

Mitsubishi Triton dash

The driver’s seat is sublime, best in a bakkie, ever. Not only beause it is 5-way electrically adjustable and leather covered, it is just so comfortable, firm, gives good lumbar support and nestles you just so. Apleasure to sit in. The front passenger seat is as good, only manually adjusted.

The rear bench seat is also better than previoius bakkie benches, partly because it is not as upright as others and also has a better slab.

These bakkies drive well. Handling and roadholding, especially on gravel is exemplary. Power delivery is rated at 133 kW at 3 500 rpm with torque peaking at 430 Nm at 2 500 rpm. Fuel consumption is claimed to be 7.6 litres per 100 km in a combined cycle. I only managed 11.2 litres/100km.

“From the onset, the brief to designers and engineers was to maintain the essence of the Triton, but also to improve on aspects of ride, handling and comfort to create a truly SUV-like experience from behind the wheel. The team has certainly complied and has earned the new Triton the signature of Sport Utility Truck among owners, dealers and within the company,” says Nic Campbell, General Manager at Mitsubishi Motors South Africa.

A range of dynamic safety systems are available on the Triton. On the double-cab versions, Mitsubishi engineers have added its proprietary ASTC (Active Stability and Traction Control) system, which modulates both braking and engine power to maintain the chosen driving line in slippery conditions. The range comes standard with ABS and EBD as well as Hill Start Assist (HSA).

The Super-Select II  4×4 system offers the driver the choice of four distinct driving modes from a console-mounted selector. In AWD mode a 40:60 power split used.

“Many offroad-enabled vehicles offer the option of 4×2, 4×4 and 4×4 low range when selecting a mode for your current driving conditions. With Super-Select II, the driver is given the option of a high-speed 4×4 driving mode where the power delivery between the front and rear wheels is distributed in such a way to make gravel and wet road travelling safer,” says Campbell. This system really works well. The pride and joy of Mitsubishi.

There are four doubls cab versions in 4×2, 4×4, manual or auto.

If you are looking for an elegant cabin, handling of an SUV, but the practicality of a bakkie this Triton could be just the thing for you. An important point is that it is not as big as the big bakkies like Amarok or the Ranger which do not fit in everywhere.

If more people were aware just how good this bakkie is it would be selling thousands every month.

The Triton Double Cab starting price is R479 900 and all models come with a 5-year/90 000km service plan and
3-year/100 000km manufacturer’s warranty. The one to get is the 2.4 Di-D 4×4 automatic at R559 900.


SARS Tax logbooks

Automating  your  SARS logbook

A big bonus of fitting a tracking device to your vehicle is the option of reports which include your tax reports or SARS logbook. Other reports can include driver behaviour, speeding, both the duration and place of stops, times (proof of delivery time) and route driven.

From a business point of view the security aspect may be of lesser importance than the management aspect. The more sophisticated or fancy systems allow you to monitor your vehicle/ driver in almost real time.

The third thing about tracking is the possible discount your insurer may give you.

The SARS logbook function on most systems is very easy to use and mostly automatic. Once you have set it up about the only thing the driver must do is indicate which trips are private, and which business. The system does the rest.

Some of the systems available in South Africa are, in no particular order:

The iTrack Live  SARS Logbook.

This is available with 2 options. Either you pay R2650 upfront for the installation and R125 per month, with no commitment to a contract or you can take a 24 month contract which costs R350 per month with a R259 upfront payment.

This system will generate trip reports including an automated SARS logbook, report harsh driving or speeding and a vehicle trip summary. Upon entering the odometer reading at the beginning of the tax period into the iTrack Live system, a SARS compliant tax logbook will be automatically generated for you.

It is a GPS based system. The recovery option costs R15 per month extra. SMS’s for alerts will be charged. You set the system rules up to alert you for your choice of events. These may be no-go areas or sudden stops.

This system allows ‘real’ time tracking and mapping and is an advanced system.

Their website is: http://www.itracklive.co.za/tax-logbook.htm

Ctrack has 2 options which generate SARS logbooks. The Secure which is more of a traditional product and the Lite which is an entry level fleet control system.

Pricing of the Secure system is R269 a month on a 36 month contract, although there is no installation fee.  This package does not track driver behaviour.

The fleet orientated Lite system costs R329 a month on a 36 month contract and includes live tracking at 10 second intervals.

Their website: http://www.ctrack.com/za/solutions/private-vehicles-and-small-fleet/ctrack-secure/

Netstar offers the Cyber-Sleuth Supreme option for either an installation fee of R2799 and R215 a month or a 36 month rental at R280. You can monitor each day’s trips or the last ten stops. Detailed driver behaviour is not available.

Their  Vigil-Lite option offers location, speed and trip reports and is geared to small fleets. Pricing is either an installation fee of around R2000 and a monthly service fee of R130, the rental option is R199 a month. This is more a management than a security tool.


Tracker offers the Skytrax GSM and GPS system. It is very comprehensive, and does everything, including coverage in neighbouring states upon request. Costs for the rental option is R320 for 36 months. There is no installation fee. The cash option is R2999 and R235 monthly with no fixed period contract. This is an advanced product.


Matrix offers 3 levels of service. MX1, 2 and 3. Only the MX3 offers SARS logbooks. Monthly rentals are R315. The month to month cash option costs R3499 and R215 for the MX3. It includes a panic button, border alerts and no-go zones. This is a comprehensive system.


It will pay most businesses to install tracking devices to their vehicles. To extract maximum benefit you will need to subscribe to the more advanced options. The benefits include lower insurance costs, SARS compliance, vehicle control, reduced travel (fuel) costs and better standards of safety and driving (less accidents). Your administration costs should also be lower.

GWM C20R review



The little red dragon

The C20R is my little red dragon. It huffs and it puffs and it growls.

The market segment for wannabe small SUV’s is growing. Think Sandero Stepway, Ford Ecosport, VW Cross Polo… and now GWM C20R. They just look a bit like SUV’s without really packing the punch. Small station wagons on long legs. But sexier.

The C20R from Great Wall Motors. And as with all GWM products, build quality is acceptable and by far the best of the Chinese manufacturers. Subjectively I would say they are where the Koreans were seven or so years ago. That is a compliment and a tribute to the improvement in the quality.

Its a stylish sexy looking little fire eater, without too much fire in its belly.

GWM C20R poised to leap into action.

GWM C20R poised to leap into action.

This small hatchback which rides 172cm high, looks like it can go off-road but actually it is strictly for town and highway. It is more of a crossover like a Cross Polo. It is not in the same class off tar roads as a Sandero Stepway. Several people asked me what it is while I was testing it. Everybody seemed to like the looks.

Powered by a fairly low tech 77kW 1,5-litre petrol engine with variable-valve timing which generates 138Nm, acceleration is somewhat leisurely but cruising at the legal limit is a breeze. When fully laden this car may battle a bit on the Highveld.

Safety equipment includes dual airbags, disc brakes all-round, ABS system supported by electronic brake-force distribution and emergency brake assistance. Isofix child-seat anchorages are provided at the rear and the doors feature child-lock protection.

The interior is well laid out and equipped with air-conditioning, an MP3-compatible audio system with auxiliary and USB inputs, electric windows all-around, rake adjustment on the steering column,  park distance sensors and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.

C20R_dashThe C20R is comprehensively equipped with front and rear fog lamps, reverse park assist, immobiliser and alloy rims as standard. The boot has a double floor and seats that slide forwards to increase the boot size, as well as folding forward.  The road holding and handling is very average. Not bad, but also not brilliant. It promises more than it delivers.

Price as tested is a rather substantial R154 900.

Competition includes the VW Vivo Maxx, Sandero Stepway, Ford EcoSport and at a stretch the 4×2 Renault Duster.

The C20R comes with a comprehensive 3-years/100 000 km warranty and 3-years/45 000 km service plan.


Opel Astra OPC

GM has added Opel’s performance Astra OPC, the most powerful production Astra produced to date, to its passenger vehicle range. The Astra OPC compliments the Corsa OPC in the Opel range in South Africa to offer buyers a high performance option in both the small and compact hatch sectors. This latest offering from OPC (Opel Performance Centre) is powered by a 206 kW turbocharged direct injection 2,0 litre engine with maximum torque of 400 Nm. This enables the Astra OPC to sprint from 0-100 km/h in just 6 seconds with an electrically governed top speed of 250 km/h.


This latest high-performance turbocharged engine produces a healthy 104 kW per litre – power delivery that is in the realm of full blown competition engines and the highest specific power output per litre of any Opel petrol production car. This is 12% more than the previous Astra OPC with torque improved by 25%.

This sporty powerhouse of an engine is based on the latest Opel 2,0 litre engine architecture designed to offer more-for-less in terms of engine size and performance delivery. In keeping with this philosophy the new Astra OPC delivers its higher power and torque with fuel consumption that is reduced by 12% compared to the previous model and with CO2 emissions that are 14% lower. Average fuel consumption recorded by Opel engineers in tests is just 8,11 l/100km – a remarkable achievement for an engine with this level of performance. CO2 emissions are 189 g/km.

Wheels are 20” alloy fitted with 245/35 R20 tyres as standard. The specification of the gas filled dampers is to a unique OPC standard while all mounting bushings are of a stiffer specification than on the standard Astra. Springs are of a stiffer rate than those found across the Astra and Astra GTC range.

Opel Astra OPC                                                        R435,000