Renault Sandero Turbo Dynamique review

Renault-Sandero-2-039New Renault Sandero Turbo Dynamique

The new Renault Sandero should be the car that really puts Renault on the map in South Africa. It should sell in droves.  It is good looking, handles nicely, is guaranteed for 5 years and is very affordable.

The Sandero is a budget small family car with a generous boot.

In Dynamique guise it has all the bells and whistles and is really good value for money.

All new Sanderos come with a full suite of electronic safety aids, even hill start assist, front airbags and ISO Renault-Sandero-2-012childseat anchors. They also all have central locking, electric front windows, radio fingertip controls, Bluetooth and power steering.

The top model of the new Sandero adds airconditioning, cruise control, onboard computer, rear electric windows, 2 more airbags and foglamps.

In a nutshell, the new Sandero is well equipped.

I found the seats comfortable. The fabric looks and feels good and appears to be durable. The interior is functional, smart and seems well put together. Five adults can fit in, if for shortish distances. It also has a large boot.

The multi-function steering wheel feels good and the steering is good for its class and actually gives you feedback.

The engine is a new generation turbo petrol delivering 66kW and 135Nm of torque. Do not worry that it is a 3 cylinder 900cc unit. It has a very low inertia turbo combined with Variable Valve Timing which results in exceptional performance.  All the manufacturers are going in this direction. It felt more powerful to me than a typical German 1.2 turbodiesel engine. I found it to be willing and well suited to the Sandero.

Renault-Sandero-2-112

Handling and roadholding is good and at least matches its competition. It is based on the same platform as the fourth generation Clio so inherits the good road manners of its sibling.

The first three gears are quite close, giving you lots of grunt when you need it, but the last two are designed for the open road and good economy.

Renault claims a mixed cycle fuel consumption of 5.2 litre per 100km. This is very optimistic. Expect between 6 and 7 l/100km. Top speed is 175km/h and you will get to 100km/h in just over 11 seconds.

The plus factors for this car are:Renault-Sandero-2-077

Interior space and a big boot

Great price, exceptional value

Good looks, modern design

Expansive standard equipment list

I think the new Sandero has shifted the goalposts in the affordable small car market. It is a very good affordable small car with space to seat 4 adults in comfort. You get a lot of car for your money.

It should make a good business car, especially considering the five year warranty.

Price as tested: R141 500. The base model Expression is R123 900 (R133 900 with aircon).

Warranty is a very good 5 years or 150 000 and the service plan is for 2 years or 30 000km.

Also look at the Toyota Etios, Volkswagen Polo Vivo and Ford Figo.

Nissan NV200 diesel review

NV200-thumb

NV200

Nissan NV200 – Leading the way

The Nissan NV200 is an exceptionally practical vehicle, especially in diesel guise. Whether as a panel van or a microbus, the VN200 is compelling.

We tested the petrol version.

The 200 range of Nissan commercial vehicles comprising of the bakkies, NP200, and the vans, NV200, are the most complete and possibly best value range in South Africa. While the bakkies completely dominate their segment, the vans still have to catch up to the more established VW Caddy range.

Nissan-NV200-031

Internationally the NV200 is becoming the dominant small bus. It has been selected as the taxi of choice in both New York and London. A hybrid and an electric model are on the way.

You will have to search far and wide to find a better vehicle to use as a taxi or small shuttle.

Nissan-NV200-041It has the biggest ‘boot’ space of all the small busses at 340dm ³ and the best access.

I immediately liked the vehicle. It does everything smoothly and effortlessly. The NV200 is easy to drive. The combination of relative light weight, peppy engine, light steering and smooth gearbox contribute to car like handling. It is really pleasant to travel in.

This little van from Nissan is the class leader by quite a margin. It goes well, handles well and has loads of space.

This is the second NV200 I have tested. I am almost more impressed this time round. It delivers so much more than it promises looking at it from a distance.

Nissan-NV200-007The interior has been well designed and is practical, comfortable and appears to be durable. Standard equipment include multi-function steering wheel, aircon, radio/CD with aux and USB inputs, Bluetooth for audio streaming and hands-free cellphone, powered external mirrors and windows, front fog lights, loads of storage compartments and a full spare wheel.

This van has very generous space considering its compact dimensions, with 4.2 cubic metres of volume in the rear and a 739kg payload, space for two Europallets, while loads up to 1.36 metres in height can be carried.

A big plus are the sliding doors on both sides. Very practical.Nissan-NV200-036

The 1.5dCi diesel produces good torque and delivers superb fuel economy of around 5.5 to 6 litres per 100km. The 1.6i petrol has more power but expect fuel consumption around 8 l/100km.

Expect to see many of these combis and vans on our roads soon.

Whether you are looking for a small bus/ 7 seater or a smaller van the NV200 has to be on your shopping list.

Also consider the VW Caddy, Toyota Avanza, the slightly smaller Honda Mobilio and even the Suzuki Ertiga. Other vans to look at are the Fiat Doblo and Renault Kangoo.

The diesel van costs R245 900, petrol R221 900, the diesel Combi or bus R303 900, petrol R277 900.

Warranty is 3 years or 100 00km, service intervals are 15 000km.

Mercedes Benz GLA 200 CDI review

MB GLA 200 CDI

MB GLA 200 CDI

Mercedes Benz GLA 200 CDI

This is a very competent, practical compact luxury car. It rides highish off the ground so farm roads are a doddle. You also sit more upright and higher, giving excellent visibility.

Performance is between good and excellent. Handling and roadholding match the class leaders in this crossover SUV niche.

Mercedes replaced the old A Class with 3 models. A sporty range called the CLA, the normal one called the A and a cross-over that superficially looks like the A, the GLA. The GLA rides higher than the A and is a little bigger all round. Many will feel this is the most practical  new baby Benz.

MB-GLA200--1-011

There are two petro and two diesel models, three  style  lines and three add on packages.

The 200 is a 1.6 petrol engine with electronically controlled direct petrol injection through piezo injectors and a turbocharger. Claimed fuel consumption is 6 litres/100km, but expect around a still exceptional  7. The 250 4matic has a 1.9 engine, more performance and  is a little thirstier but still very good.

The 200 CDi is a 2.1 litre  turbodiesel with high-pressure fuel injection common-rail technology, VTG turbocharger and EDC. The 220 CDi is the same engine but with more punch. Claimed  diesel consumption is 4.5 to 5 l/100km. Aim for 6, but be easy on the throttle.

The GLA comes in a choice of three lines “Style”, “Urban” and “AMG Line” .

Amongst the many optional extras to choose from, are the large panoramic sliding sunroof, or the EASY-PACK tailgate, which can be opened and closed at the push of a button.

MB-GLA200--1-084dashStandard equipment includes multifunction steering wheel, eco start/stop, Collision prevention assist, which warns the driver visually and audibly of insufficient distance to the vehicle travelling ahead or of stationary objects, attention assist, cruise control, climate control, automatic lights and adaptive brakes.

In addition there are three style packages: Night, Exclusive and AMG Exclusive. Highlights of the Exclusive package, for example,  (available for all three lines) include heated sports seats with 4-way lumbar support for driver and front passenger, leather-covered, like the multifunction steering wheel and the gearshift lever.

It is all a little confusing and almost too much for me. In the showroom it is a little easier to get you head round the choices, but beware, costs mount rapidly.

MB-GLA200--1-007I liked the car. I think  Mercedes mostly got it right and it does feel like a baby Benz. The interior, apart from the protruding multimedia screen, is very pleasant and has enough space for a smaller car.

If you prefer a hatch type shape of car and a little more ride height MB have got it right with this car. Not cheap though.

Also look at the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Nissan Qashqai, Subaru XV, Volvo V40 Cross Country and Ford Kuga.

As tested R422 700 plus options R120 450 for a total of R543 150. Options are reversing camera, active park assist, paoramic sunroof, 7G-DCT automatic box, COMMAND online, tow-hook, Bi-Xenon headlamps, easy pack tailgate, Exclusive package, mirrors, night pack and urban line.

The range starts at R421 800, and goes to R760 800 for the GL45 AMG. We would recommend the G LA200 Auto at R461 947.  Two formidable competitors stand out. The Ford Kuga 2.0TDCi AWD Titanium is R448 900 fully and comprehensively equipped. The Volvo V40 Cross CountryD4 Excell at R395 000 is a complete package.

All GLA models come standard with a 6-years/100 000 km maintenance contract and two year unlimited warranty.

 

 

Chevrolet Orlando LS 1.8 review

chev_orlando-thumbChevrolet Orlando

GM’s smaller multi purpose vehicle, the Orlando manages to be a little van, 7 seater bus and car all in one. And all in a neat, versatile  package. It would make a great taxi.

Think of it as an upmarket Avanza. It is slightly wider and longer than the Avanza and feels much more solid.

In SA we only get only one model. But GM has chosen it well. It is a 1.8 petrol manual with standard but good hard working trim and a good specification level.

Interior Chevrolet Orlando

Interior Chevrolet Orlando

The vehicle has 16 different seating combinations, meaning  you really can fit seven adults into the Orlando or when in van mode, a driver and a jumbo load.

Passengers will find the inside of the Orlando is surprisingly roomy with more than enough leg- and headroom. Access to the third row is OK, but headroom a little limited.

Load volume at the back is between 100 and 800 litres depending on how you have folded the seats. Fold down the rear seats and you’ve got a 1499 litre load space.The  cabin feels like a car, with neat finishes and a plethora of map pockets, armrests with cup holder, and quite a few nooks and crannies to keep things in.

Power windows for driver and front passenger are standard as is a good sound system, cruise control and power steering.

The interior is upmarket compared to the cheaper Avanza and is pleasantly finished reminding one of the Cruze, its sedan sibling.

Chevrolet Otlando

Chevrolet Otlando

The Orlando does not lack safety and security systems.  It comes with anti theft alarm and immobiliser.

An  ‘Electronic Stability Control’ system provides traction control to help avert slides, by automatically applying corrective braking to appropriate wheels to help you quickly regain control. It also has ABS and electronic brake distribution with an additional brake assist system.

Driving the Orlando is easy and pleasant. All round visibility is surprisingly good and it handles well in the context of an MPV. Road holding is above par for this category. The Cruze roots shine through.

Chevrolet Orlando 1.8 LS

Chevrolet Orlando 1.8 LS

GM claims 7.2l/100km but work on 8 in general and around 6 on the open road, which is very acceptable.

Priced from R287 000 you get real value for money.

The Warranty & Roadside Assistance package is  5 years/120 000km.  The Service Plan is for 3 years /60 000km.

Also look at the Toyota Avanza 1.3  from R190 000, Suzuki Ertiga 1.4 starting at around R160 000, VW Caddy 1.6 from R190 000 or the Nissan NV200 1.6 Combi R254 800.

First published in Small Business Connect.

Renault Sandero 66kw turbo Stepway review

Sandero-Stepway-thumbRenault Sandero Stepway

The original Stepway was the best-selling model in the previous Sandrero range as its raised ride height, adventure aura and value proposition made it the most desirable model. I predict the same is going to happen with these new cars. Renault have a winner, and we as consumers also get to win. A good car, great features and excellent price.

The Sandero Stepway is an affordable yet classy small car with a tougher than usual stance, more ride height, pleasant handling and well equipped interior with fair space and good finish . It is great value for money and surprises with its comprehensive levels of equipment and good handling for a slightly tall car.

Sandero Stepway 66kW 2014

Sandero Stepway 66kW 2014

The interior of the Sandero is very practical and comes with electric windows, air-conditioning, sound system, finger tip controls, Bluetooth, cruise control and central locking. A nice touch is the chunky leather clad steering wheel and gear knob. A major step up from the previous generation. The cabin is much more upmarket than the original model. It also appears to be well put together.

Sandero Stepway 2014 dash

Sandero Stepway 2014 dash

The cloth covered seats look great and are comfortable over normal distances. The back seats fold down in a 60/40 split while the boot offers luggage capacity of 292 litres.

The new cutting edge three-cylinder 1-litre turbo beats the 1.6-litre engine used in the previous Stepway in every way – power, fuel consumption and performance. This is the future. Together with Ford’s amazing little three cylinder these engines show the way forward. Acceleration is better than average for B segment cars and fuel consumption much less than average at around 6 litre/100km. A win-win situation.

The Stepway has all the required safety features from the basics such as Emergency Brake Assist, anti-lock braking system, electronic brake-force distribution and electronic stability programme to hill start assist and rear parking sensors.

The Stepway will make an excellent little workhorse that will be equally at home on gravel roads as in town. I enjoyed the week I spent driving it. There was always enough power and it is big enough to sit properly on the road. Renault have done well with this one.

The Stepway costs around R15 000 more than the standard Sandero. You get extra ground clearance (29mm), roof rails, skid panels, styling differences, 16” wheels and rear parking sensors. You also get a better looking car, in my opinion.

Renault Sandero Stepway

Renault Sandero Stepway

Alternatives include the Ford Ecoboost, Renault’s own Duster, VW VivoMaxx and the Toyota Etios Cross; all (except the Etios) substantially more expensive.

The Renault Sandero Stepway costs R159 900, that’s not much of a premium over the Sandero Dynamique at R141 500.

The Stepway comes with an excellent five-year or 150 000km warranty and a two-year or 30 000km service plan.

 

Kia Sportage CRDi AWD review

Kia Sportage CRDi

Kia Sportage CRDi

Kia Sportage CRDi AWD

Kia’s lead designer Peter Schreyer and his team have changed the face of Kia. Not only has the face changed though, everything has been upgraded. The Kia Sportage is the small SUV or station wagon in the model range and it is not only versatile but seems to be just the right size. Big enough for four adults and their kit, small enough to manoeuvre in town.

The facelifted Sportage is more refined than the model it has been developed from and has been  tweaked where it counts.

The interior is very good and has been significantly upgraded. A lot of thought has gone into it. From the leather clad multi-function steering wheel to the multi-adjustable powered leather driver’s seat everything feels just right. The armrest between the seats hides a cubby hole, one of many storage bins.

Kia Sportage CDi

Kia Sportage CDi

Needless to say the car is very well equipped with amongst others a high end sound system, climate control, electric windows, cooling glove box, auto light control and multi-function trip computer. The cabin and boot are both spacious. The boot has a false floor which is useful for keeping small things out of site.

The built-in rear-view camera and RPAS (Rear Parking Assist System) works very well and the touch screen is a nice, er…  touch.

Kia Sportage CRDi

Kia Sportage CRDi

Safety equipment includes downhill brake control, EBD, ABS, electronic stability control, hill start assist, airbags front, side and curtain and iso-fix baby seats.

I really enjoyed driving the Sportage. Acceleration is good and I found the road holding above average for a tall car. This car will be easy to live with.

Expect fuel consumption of around 7 litres/100km for the diesel and a litre more for the petrol models.

The ride is a little stiff, a bit like the Audi Q3, but it is not unpleasant. The very comfortable seats mollycoddle you in any case.

Summary

Kia has got it right with the Sportage range. No longer cheap, but solid build quality and good prices. The five year warranty says something about the quality. The dimensions are just right, inside and outside.

The Sportage is practical, good value and smart.

The Sportage range has 9 models from the 2.0 Ignite (petrol) at R321 995 to the 2.0 CRDi (diesel) AWD auto at R425 995. We tested the latter. If you don’t need AWD we recommend the 2.0 auto at R360 995.

Also look at the Nissan Qashqai (new model any day now), Ford Kuga (new model), Honda CRV, Toyota RAV and Hyundai ix35.

Sportage 086

The Sportage comes with a very good five year, 150 000km warranty and 5 year or 100 000km service plan.

Sportage crdi  016

 

2014 WOW Women’s Car of the Year Awards

The women of South Africa have voted and Women on Wheels (WOW) is proud to announce the winners of the 2014 WOW Women’s Car of the Year Awards (#WOWCOTY). Over 10 000 votes were cast by WOW readers and combined with the judges’ votes to decide the winning cars in 11 categories.

The winning cars in each category are:

  • Budget Buys: Honda Brio
  • Convertibles: Mercedes-Benz SLK
  • Crossover/Compact SUV: Porsche Macan
  • Hatchbacks: Mercedes-Benz A-Class
  • Sedans: Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  • Green cars: Nissan Leaf
  • Large SUVs: Range Rover Sport
  • MPV: Citroën C4 Picasso
  • Sports Cars: Jaguar F-Type
  • Super car: Honda NSx
  • Overall Car of the Year: Porsche Macan

“It is such an exciting survey for us at WOW,” says Charleen Clarke, editor of WOW and convener of the WOWCOTY judging panel. “Not only are more women actively searching for cars, but with the volume of votes we can confidently say that these results are a real-life indicator of South African women’s favourite cars. More women are making the car buying decisions in their households and we are tapping in to this market.”

Toyota Corolla Quest 1.6 M review

Toyota Quest

Toyota Quest

Toyota Corolla Quest 1.6

CitiGolf started something in 1984. VW built them for 25 years. Basically they were a facelifted and modernised Mk 1 Golf, which had originally been introduced in 1974. Since then VW and Ford have played the same trick a few times, lately with the VW Vivo, a facelifted previous generation Polo and Ford produces the Figo based on the earlier Fiesta.

Toyota has also done this before. Think of the Tazz.

Just after Toyota introduced the new 11th generation Corolla they revealed the Quest, basically a 10th generation Corolla (E150).

The Quest is a brilliant interpretation of what a good basic family or business car must be. It has all the goodies like power windows, aircon, sound system, adjustable steering wheel, multi-function display, comfortable seats and connections for your sound player or phone. It does not have leather trim, or much soft touch plastic or cruise control. That is the balance Toyota has achieved.

From a safety perspective the Quest delivers. ABS brakes, ISO points, immobiliser, front airbags, halogen headlamps, fuel cut-off and

Toyota Corolla Quest

Toyota Corolla Quest

so on.

You get a choice of four colours but one model only. A six speed manual 1.6 petrol with Emergency brake assist and brake force distribution. The combination of the 6-speed gearbox and latest generation 1.6 litre petrol engine delivers excellent economy and good power. Acceleration is good and top speed well in excess of the legal limit.

Why buy a Quest? It is economical, it has got space, it is safe and its very good value for money. It should last as long as any other Toyota. Uses the same parts and a proven platform. They get the price down by keeping things simple and using last year’s technology where practical. Not a bad thing of itself.

How does it drive? Like a dog? Quite simply, just like last year’s Corolla. It is pretty good to drive. Good road holding, good handling. It is a good car.

Spares are readily available and affordable. For example, the tyres are 195/65R15 which will be easy to replace at a good price.

Toyota Quest interior

Toyota Quest interior

I highly recommend the Corolla Quest as a superb value business car.

Price as tested is  R174 900. It comes basically fully equipped.

Warranty is three years or 100 000km and the service plan is 3 years or 45 000km.

Other cars to look at in this price category include Toyota Yaris , Kia Rio, Hyundai Accent, VW Polo Vivo, Honda Ballade, Ford Ikon, All smaller.

Similar size cars include the Hyundai  Elantra (R45 000 more),  Honda Civic (R40 000 more), Chevrolet Cruze R50 000 more) and new Corolla (R40 000 more).

Quest-176

 

 

Ford Fiesta 1.0 Automatic EcoBoost PowerShift Trend review

Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost PowerShift Trend

Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost PowerShift Trend

Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost PowerShift Trend

Wow. What a little surprise package. So much more than you expect.

The Fiesta EcoBoost is fun, frugal, feisty and just plain a fabulous small car.

The engine in the car was International Engine of The Year in 2012, 2013 & 2014*. It is a gutsy little engine producing the amazing torque of 170Nm as opposed to the 1.4 normally aspirated petrol engine which manages just 128Nm. You feel the difference, believe me. Ford calls it an inline three cylinder turbo petrol, direct fuel injection and Ti-VCT. I call it dynamite.

Top speed of 180km/h and 0 to 100 of 10.8 seconds. Ford_Fiesta_1.0_044

Ford claims Fuel Economy – NEDC ℓ/100km (combined cycle) of 4.9litres/100km. Expect6l/100km in normal driving but under 5l/100km on the highway.

There are three levels of trim, Ambiente, Trend and Titanium. Go for the Trend.

The Fiesta Trend line has a full suite of safety equipment including hill launch assist and even the hazard lights are activated under emergency braking. The Trend models have fog lamps front and rear, daytime running lights, a follow me home headlight feature and halogen projector headlamps.

This ‘new’ updated Fiesta looks good. The only really new feature is the nose, more specifically the grill. You will either love or hate it. The rest of the car is sexy. Beautifully balanced lines and just the right weight between glass and sheetmetal.

Ford_Fiesta_dashInterior

The cabin is roomy for the class of car and well appointed. I feel it has the class leading cabin package. The only items missing are cruise control and seat warmers. Fit and finish is excellent.

The driver seat is manually adjustable, horizontally, vertically and the angle of the backrest. The seating is comfortable and looks good.

The legroom for the back seats is good for this class of car.

Ford Fiesta 1.0 Powershift

Ford Fiesta 1.0 Powershift

Entertaining

Driving the Fiesta is a fiesta. You just salsa along. The 1.0 is very much a driver’s kind of car. Fun, zippy and sporty with excellent road holding and handling to match. And its economical. The car’s dynamics are best in class. It sticks to the road around corners like marmalade to your fingers.

This new facelifted Fiesta raises the bar for B segment motoring, it is that good.

The 1.0 EcoBoost PowerShift Trend, as tested costs R236 300. This is quite possibly the pick of the bunch. The other choice could be the 1.6 TDCi Trend manual turbodiesel.

The Fiesta range starts at R178 900 for the Ambiente 1.4 petrol manual. The top of the range Fiesta is the ST at R267 700. The diesels start at R194 900.

Also look at the VW Polo, Kia Rio, Mazda 2,Renault Clio or Hyundai i20.

All Fiestas have a comprehensive warranty of 4years / 120 000 km and a service plan for 4 years / 60 000 km.

* The International Engine of The Year panel of 82 jury members from 34 countries also named the Mercedes-AMG 2.0-liter turbo as the best New Engine for 2014. The electric engine from Tesla won the Green Engine prize, and the 4.5-liter V8 from the Ferrari 458 Italia is the top Performance Engine. The little Ford keeps very good company.

Article first appeared in Your Business Magazine

 

 

Mercedes-Benz CLA 220 CDI review

Mercedes Benz CLA

Mercedes Benz CLA

Mercedes-Benz CLA 220 CDI

Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte and the Mercedes CLA have a thing or two in common.

They are both classy. A little strange. Amusing. And then there is the dual personality thing.

Just as Ferrando and Gulielmo appear to change character, so the CLA can be just a small Merc sedan. Or it can become a snarling sporty coupé. At the touch of a button. This button is like a rocket launcher. Select S and all pretence of frugality and domesticity disappears.

Like Fiordiligi and Dorabella, prepare to be swept off your feet by the charming soldiers and romanced by the fiery foreigners.

Mercedes-Benz CLA 220

Mercedes-Benz CLA 220

Mercedes have, with the 220, managed to combine performance and practicality in a very neat looking package. Most people saw the coupé and not the sedan. A very successful design then. It looks sporty but has 4 doors and is practical inside. It seats 4 adults in comfort and the boot is not bad. I have a suspicion its about as big inside as the C series sedan of 10 years ago. Sitting in the back with the driver’s seat set up for myself I was quite comfortable.

Mercedes-CLA-Xti-pics-060Mozart would have approved of the exterior styling, I think. It suggests a sporty intent but delivers practicality. BMW and Audi have some catching up to do. Mercedes call it a 4 door coupé. They say: “Three prominent lines give structure to the vehicle when viewed from the side: the front structural edge over the wings flows towards the rear end in a characteristic dropping line. Another, more sinewy line spans the shoulder muscle above the rear axle, while the third feature line extends in a sweeping curve from the front wheel towards the rear.”

The boot takes 470 litres or 480kg.

I loved it and could not find a particular element that jarred. Nice car. The CLA looks better in the metal than in these pictures.

Mercedes-Benz CLA dash

Mercedes-Benz CLA dash

The interior is both smart and suggests sportiness. Not a lot of space but enough and very well used. I did not like the “free standing” display which sticks out from the dash looking very much like a cheap Chinese part put in as an afterthought.  My son says:  “the stupid screen that looks out of place.” Shoddy, to say the least.

The instrument panel incorporates five round vents. The outer rings of the round vents have a high-quality electroplated silver-chrome finish.

The CLA is fitted with integral seats in the front and rear.

You can order the “AMG Line” equipment level. Here the emphasis is on the colour red: in the contrasting topstitching on the sports seats the multifunction sports steering wheel in nappa leather with flattened lower section, and the armrests. You will also get steel sports pedals with rubber studs.

This is the version we had.

There are three design packages, “Exclusive”, “AMG Exclusive” and “Night package” which offer further individualisation possibilities.

All CLA versions have electromechanical power steering, which makes possible various steering assistance functions controlled by the ECU, including countersinking when the car oversteers, corrective steering when one or more wheels have different levels of grip, reducing torque steer, compensating for camber.

The 2.2 litre turbo diesel produces a very useful 350Nm between 1 400 and 3 400 rpm and puts out 125 kW. Expect fuel consumption between 5 and 6 l/100km unless you have a heavy foot which will reward you with around 7l/100km. Top speed is rated 230km/h and the 0 to 100km/h time of 8.2 seconds is not to shabby.

The CLA drives as well as it looks. Behind the wheel you know you are driving a special little car. Well, not so little. She handles well, corners well and accelerates very joyfully. She sounds great too.

Disappointingly the CLA has run safe tyres and not a spare wheel to be seen. I personally do not like travelling on the open road without a spare wheel. Avoid back roads with this one.

Summary

A small luxury performance family sedan dressed up as a coupé. Like Mozart did with Opera, advancing their technical sophistication and emotional reach, so the Mercedes engineers and designers have produced a breath of fresh air.

The CLA as tested cost: R450 000

The range: CLA 200 R383 900, CLA 250 SportAMATIC R529 800, CLA 220 CDi R438 800, CLA 45 AMG R694 700.

Also consider a  BMW 1 Series (120d or 125i),  Audi A3 Sedan A3 2.0TDI SE, Lexus CT200h or Volvo S60.

Warranty – Two years unlimited distance and 60 000km maintenance plan.

Mercedes-Benz CLA 220

Mercedes-Benz CLA 220