Bass Lake 4×4 training

Bass Lake 4×4 training

Bass Lake 4x4 driver training

Bass Lake 4×4 driver training

04:45 N2 to Cape Town International.

What am I doing at this time on this road?

09:45 Boma, Bass Lake with coffee in hand. Jimny’s waiting outside. Ahh, now I know why.

Keep two wheels on the ground

Keep two wheels on the ground

Alan Pepper is a good instructor, but he is an even better story teller.

He has fairly strongly held views on matters off-road which I for the most part agree with. He gave us some really good advice and a solid theoretical grounding in 4×4 principles.

Then he let us loose on the very varied training ground, always on hand to show, to explain, to guide.

Alan has a fleet of 3 manual Jimnys and an automatic Grand Vitare.

We took turns getting the basics right and learning to read the road before lunch. That Malva pudding alone is worth the trip to Bass Lake.

After lunch the ten of us tackled the more adventurous section.  There are one or two inclines which I would have been inclined to avoid on my own. Not with Alan around. What a day.

One piece of good advice: “Drive the back wheels”.

Ooops. Getting it.

Ooops. Getting it.

Kyleigh Smith, Suzuki Auto SA’s PR Co-ordinator did a great job behind the scenes. Thank you Suzuki.

Speaking of which. Those Jimnys are great vehicles. Simple, solid engineering. The right stuff.

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Audi A5 Coupé review

Audi A5 Coupé
The Audi A5 Coupé is a beautiful car, both inside and out.

The signature design element of the body is the wave-shaped shoulder line which starts at the nose and flows along below the windows through to and over the broad hips to a small lip on the rear. The nose has just the right dimensions. Aggressive, but not brutal. The rear is curvy, yet simple and elegant. With a drag coefficient of 0.25, the A5 Coupé is also the segment leader with respect to aerodynamics. It looks the part. This car drew people to look at it appreciatingly.

Audi says: “The new generation of the A5 Coupé is athletic, sporty and elegant, while its design goes hand-in-hand with sophisticated aerodynamics. Under the skin the Audi A5 impresses with an all-new chassis, powerful engines, and innovative infotainment features and driver assistance systems.” That about sums it up.
The interior is… well, a cockpit. As you get to spend time in it, you appreciate the materials, the layout, the dimensions. It is a very satisfying place to spend time at the wheel, whether just going to the mall, or pushing over a mountain pass at a good pace. The A5 easily transforms from luxury conveyance to sporty car at a press of the “Dynamic” button. On a mountain pass with the sport mode selected this car is a load of fun.
Our test car was equipped with the optional Audi virtual cockpit, a 12.3-inch TFT display which is highly adjustable to suit the driver’s needs. This is the future of instrumentation for cars.

Audi A5 cabin

Audi is a world leader in car cabin design. In the A5 the interior is exciting and relaxing at the same time. I loved the little details. As with all coupés the doors are a little long, so there is an arm that extends forward and holds your seatbelt for you. Pretty cool hey? Subtle lighting brings up the ambient light in the cabin at night just enough to see what you need to without distracting you.

The comfortable and supportive front seats are electronically adjustable and have two memory settings (extra cost item). Leg room at the back is acceptable, but not for very tall passengers. The boot is large. As a result the car is both a good family car, bearing in mind the two large doors, and an exciting sporty car.

In 2007 Audi introduced the A5 to the world. This year the second generation of A5 and S5 based on the B9 platform which it shares with the A4 is being introduced. The 5 comes as a coupé, sportback and convertible, and with a choice of three engines: two TFSI and one TDI unit. Their power output has been increased and is now between 140 kW and 185 kW. The sportback and coupé are on our roads already but the Audi A5 and S5 Cabriolet will only be available later this month.
The TDI we drove has a four-cylinder 2.0 TDI producing 140 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque with a claimed consumption of 4.1 L/ 100 km. We got 5.9L/100km, which is still very good.

Audi A5

These cars have all the driving safety aids, whether passive or active, of a top class car. Fortunately there is a comfortable setting for normal driving, as well as the eco and dynamic settings, which results in a smooth restful ride. If you are feeling a little restless you just select “Dynamic”. It also has an auto mode which switches between the modes as well as a personal setting which allows you to choose how it will behave.

The car we tested was the Audi A5 Coupé 2.0 TDI 140 kW Stronic Sport at a base price of R 653,000 excluding extras, which in this case included S-line trim, panoramic sunroof, Navigation with MMI, parking plus, rearview camera, three-zone aircon and special Mythos Blue paint.

The range starts with the A5 Coupé 2.0T FSI 140 kW S tronic at R 589,000. The top model is the S5 Coupé 3.0T FSI 260 kW quattro S tronic at R 928,000. The top Audi S5 Cabriolet 3.0T FSI quattrotiptronic comes in at R 1,028,000. The base A5 Cabriolet 2.0T FSI S tronic is R 689,000 without extras.

To these prices you need to add quite a few thousands to pay for the ‘optional’ equipment.

The cars all have a 5 year/100 000km Audi Freeway Plan and a one year unlimited 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.

 

Fiat Tipo Hatchback 1.4 review

FIAT Tipo Hatch 1.4

The VW Golf has a certain status in our market. It is considered by many as just the right size and feel to be their car of choice.

In the last few years the Golf has got competition in the medium-compact segment with cars like the Hyundai Accent and i20, Kia Cerato, Mazda 3, Suzuki Ciaz and Baleno.

Fiat has just launched a simple but comprehensive range of sedan and hatch models to take Golf and these cars on, the Tipo. The Fiat Tipo is a little bigger than the Golf internally and is more down to earth, but we think, much better value for money.

FIAT Tipo Hatch

The Tipo family was developed around the brief “Skills, no frills” and combines the brand’s historic concepts of functionality, simplicity and personality in an extraordinary value-for-money offering.

Don’tbe fooled into thinking it is inferior, the Tipo family has been awarded a string of accolades, the latest of which is the prestigious Autobest “Best Buy Car 2016” award, chosen by a jury of 26 journalists from the most authoritative European car magazines. Tipo is sold in 50 countries and uses the selling point of generous standard equipment along with active and passive safety systems in an affordable package.

Locally two body styles, three trim levels, three engines and three transmission types will be available.

The hatch we drove is attractive without breaking the mould and yet has great detail design elements. We found it to have excellent ergonomics: comfort, space configuration, accessibility, visibility and driving position. The handling and roadholding, especially on slightly rough road surfaces is very good. The car feels settled.

The interior of the Tipo has loads of compartments with a variety of shapes and capacities totalling no less than 12 litres and can be used for storing personal objects, smartphones, bottles, coins and more. Furthermore, a media centre for connecting devices is situated in front of the gear lever. The Tipo features the latest-generation audio systems including a hands-free Bluetooth interface, audio streaming, text reader and voice recognition, AUX and USB ports with iPod integration, controls on the steering wheel and, on demand, the optional rear parking camera and the new TomTom 3D built-in navigation system is optionally available on all models except the EASY.

The load capacity is also class-leading: 440 litres for the hatchback and 520 litres for the sedan. The boot sill is low and stepless, to facilitate loading even the bulkiest of packages.

Modern active and passive safety devices are standard, including driver and front passenger airbags (with side and curtain airbags as an option). Also standard is electronic stability control (ESC), an effective but non-invasive driving aid. This sophisticated system helps to maintain steering control under extreme conditions, such as on wet or slippery roads, or when tackling tight corners or making sudden emergency manoeuvres.

All Tipos get LED daytime running lights.

The 1.4 16v Fire is the entry-level petrol engine of the Tipo family. This engine delivers 70kW at 6,000 r/min and reaches maximum torque of 127Nm at 4,500 r/min. This engine is fine here in the Cape but may be a little ‘pap’ on the highveld

The models we recommend are those with the 1.6 E-torQ petrol engine mated to 6-speed auto box.

The top-of-the-range 1.3 MultiJet II diesel with a 5-speed manual box is energetic, to say the least.

The Tipo has a range of 70 Mopar accessories , which include a jacket hanger, work table and tablet holder on the headrests of the front seats among more mundane items.

The Fiat Tipo Hatchback and Sedan is now available from Fiat dealerships countrywide.

The South African Range range consists of:

Fiat Tipo Sedan

1.4l Pop – R229,900

1.4l Easy – R249,900

1.3l D Easy – R274,900

1.6l Easy Auto – R274,900

Fiat Tipo Hatchback

1.4l POP – R249,900

1.4l EASY – R269,900

1.4l LOUNGE – R289,900

1.6l EASY Auto – R294,900

We think the EASY models, particularly the 1.6 hit the sweet spot.

All Fiat Tipo models come with a standard 3 year / 100,000km warranty and service plan.

 

Peugeot 2008 SUV GT Line 1.2 PureTech Auto review

Peugeot 2008 SUV GT Line 1.2 PureTech Auto

Small, slick city crossover cars are all the rage right now and the Peugeot 2008 not only fits the description to a T, but is a classy example of what one should be like. Perceived build quality is superb.

The 2008 has a notch in the roof, a bit like the Discovery, which gives the back ample space. The ride height of 165mm allows you to take that gravel road and the suspension is very good. To give it a bit more out-of-city ability it has a real full size spare tyre.

Peugeot 2008.

Boot space is fair with 410L normally, but with the rear seat folded down the boot is large. I like the brushed metal trim protection plate on the sill of the boot which is at a very comfortable height.

The interior is stylish classical French chic, with all sorts of little touches you will appreciate, like a refrigerated glovebox. It is a really pleasant cabin with soft touch and carefully thought out materials, colours and textures. The hand brake is a very different, aviation style device, but it looks good.

The rear seat does not recline as much as one perhaps would like it to, but legroom is quite good. The otherwise comfortable seats are at a very comfortable height for getting in and out.The basic interior is half leather trim as standard, but full leather is an option. I would not bother as the half leather feels just right and is exceptionally comfortable. The smallish multifunction leather steering wheel is a joy to use, as are all the controls.

Features include SMEG+1 digital touch screen with a jack/ usb, bluetooth and climate control except in the base model.

Peugeot 2008 GTLine

Optional extras include a Cielo panoramic glass roof, full leather seats, retention net and a number of other items.
Peugeot claim consumption figures 6.6 L/100km urban 5.2 combined, but I got (a still good) 7.8L/100km.
The 6-speed automatic gearbox coupled to the 3-cyl 1.2L turbo petrol engine delivers a more than adequate 81kW of power and 205 Nm of torque. There are actually 4 models in the 2008 range, two 1.6 HDi diesels which have manual gearboxes and two turbopetrol models with auto boxes. I recommend the latter.

Peugeot 2008 Interior

The lighting is very up-to-date with cornering assist fog lights, follow-me-home lights, bright headlight beams and LED running lights.
Technically the GTLine model we drove is sate-of-the-art with stop-start, grip control, rear park sensor with camera, hill assist, cruise control, auto wipers and auto lights.

From a safety point of view this crossover has ABS with EBD, ESP which allows you to select the right driving mode for the circumstances – mud, snow, sand or standard; EBA, anti-slip function, in fact all the safety kit you could want to help you get home safely.

The 2008 comes with a year or 100 000km warranty and a 3 year or 45 000km service plan. A maintenance plan is available at extra cost.

The GTLine costs R349 900, but the range starts at R274 900 for the diesel manual in Active trim.

The competition includes the Renault Captur (very good for touring especially on gravel), Toyota C-HR, Audi Q2, Suzuki SX4, Mazda CX-3 (seriously stylish and a driver’s car) and Nissan Qashqai (a best seller).

 

Ranger 3.2 TDCi Double Cab XLT AT 4×4

Ranger 3.2 TDCi Double Cab XLT AT 4×4

Ranger 3.2 TDCi Double Cab XLT AT 4×4

We tested this bakkie before in 2.2 and 3.2 guise but I have to say this facelifted version is even better. Ford has really pulled out all the stops to improve an already good vehicle. The interior sets the standard for the bakkie sector.

You can move effortlessly between 2WD and 4WD high mode or low mode with what Ford calls Shift-on-the-fly. It waltzes over any obstacle effortlessly.

I really like the e-Locking Rear Differential, ESP braking system and the clever underseat storage.
The big turbo diesel puts out a massive 470 @ 1500 – 2750 and achieves a claimed 8.6L/100km. I got just over 10L/100km.

It is a pleasure to drive on and off-road. It has the power. To do almost anything… a bakkie should.

There are a number of trim and equipment levels to choose from

Base – Fleet workhorses: manual windows, vinyl flooring, no ABS or air-con
XL – Mid-level: ABS, ESC, radio with bluetooth, electric windows
XL plus – Heavy duty: like XL but adds 4×4, dual batteries, expanded wiring harness, 17” wheels and AT tyres
XLS – With instrument panel incorporatingSYNC® with a CD player and Bluetooth.
XLT – With even more goodies for the leisure market, and dual colour 4.2-inch TFT screen.
Wildtrak – Top of the range is our equivalent to the Raptor in the bigger US Ford bakkies.

The Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux are somewhat different but they are equals. One does some things better than the other and vice versa.

I personally prefer the Ranger above the HiLux.

The bakkie as tested costs R570 900

Ford Ranger XLT TDCi 3.2 Auto

Ford Ranger XLT TDCi 3.2 Auto

Audi A3 Sportback 2.0 TFSI S tronic review

A3 Sportback with 2.0 TFSI S tronic 140 kW

A3 Sportback 2.0T FSI S tronic

Damn, but the little A3 hits a sweet spot. Looks, cachet, performance, desirability, quality all neatly intersect like 4 perfect rings to create a gem of a little car.

What’s not to like?

Perhaps two things. The price, once you have added an item or two to the bare bones basic car, and a rather choppy, bumpy ride caused mainly by the very low profile tyres and which Audi says is balanced for sportiness .

Put those two issues behind you and its motoring joy in a small package.

The new Audi A3 is available as a three-door Hatchback, a five-door Sportback, Sedan and as a Cabriolet.
The body is almost perfectly in balance from the redesigned Singleframe grille to the newly contoured rear diffuser. It is really pleasing to the eye.

Audi A3 dash

Inside it is classy and exudes quality. The A3’s dash is functional, uncluttered and simple to use, and yet delivers everything you need and it looks smart.

The main element is the instrument binnacle directly in front of the driver which has a virtual cockpit display adding to the car’s upmarket feel. The display replaces the dials with a digital screen that, in addition to speed and revs, can show everything from fuel economy to satnav maps.

The 7-inch display screen is positioned high in the middle of the dash making it easy to glance at while driving and drops down into dash when not needed. A brilliant solution. The Bluetooth interface works very well, making it oh so easy to couple with your phone and has a rare clarity. The MMI radio, Satnav, vehicle settings, climate control are all managed via the screen either by touch or using the easy to use large round control knob between the seats.

Bi-xenon lights are standard, while LED headlights as well as Matrix LED headlights are also optionally available. Both LED and Matrix LED headlights offer dynamic turn signals which means the lights illuminate to the side which you are turning.


There are three petrol and one diesel engine to choose from and either manual or 7-speed S tronic transmission. I would recommend the Sportback1.4TFSI S tronic at R438 000 as the best buy in the range.
I got a long term average fuel consumption of 8.9L/100km, which is a little more than the 5.9 claimed by Audi and I must add I did not drive the car aggressively.

The A3 Sportback is a driver’s car. It is worth the premium price if you love driving and will reward you with many hours of driving pleasure. If you are more into luxury perhaps the Volvo or baby Merc is a better bet.
The A3 Sportback 2.0T FSI S tronic costs R 525 000 as tested, which included a few extras like a sunroof, S line trim and metallic paint. The standard warranty is 2 years with unlimited mileage and the service plan is the 5 year/100 000km Audi Freeway Plan.

Also look at the BMW 1 series, Mercedes A-series, Volvo V40, VW Golf and Subaru WRX.

Prices for the A3 Sportback start at R398 500 for the 1.0T FSI to R646 000 for the S3 Sportback quattro S tronic. The base price of the car we tested, without the extras is R 455 000.

Audi A3 Sportback rear