Opel Meriva 1.4T Enjoy review

Opel Meriva 1.4T Enjoy

Opel Meriva

Opel Meriva

This ‘new’ Meriva is very practical and it has the typical Opel oomph. The little turbo motor performs.

Looking at the car it looks pretty normal, almost boring. Until you discover what it is all about. The Meriva is a very clever package.

The engineers thought long and hard and have designed a delightful and practical car that delivers much more than it promises at first glance.

The latest Meriva will make a good mom’s taxi, but at the same time would be a brilliant commercial taxi. Just like the London taxi’s of yore the rear doors open forward.

This turbo petrol Meriva packs quite a punch. It has loads of power especially after the turbo kicks in.

Opel Meriva is a box of surprises.

Opel Meriva is a box of surprises.

The interior is very well laid out and is a pleasant place to spend some time in.

For example. The centre bin between the front seats can be moved forward on rails to form an excellent arm rest. It also reveals extra storage for the rear occupants. There is a modular multi-level storage system with up to 32 storage possibilities.

The FlexSpace® seat system is brilliant.

The boot goes from biggish to minivan size. There is a flat ‘secret’ tray below the goods area, about 10 cm deep. All the stuff that normally lies around in a boot can be safely stowed in here out of the way and hidden from prying eyes. The rear seats fold completely flat to form a flat load bed behind the front row of seats. They even provide a carpet which covers the whole area. Its brilliant.


I found the clutch awful at first. Its hard and unforgiving. After a bit of stop start travel my knee was sore. Three days later I was used to it.

The Meriva is fitted with Straight Line Stability Control (SLS), which recognises any tendency towards instability under braking and adjusts the brake pressure for optimum straight-line braking stability under all road conditions.

The car also has Cornering Brake Control (CBC), which improves stability in bends by reducing the brake pressure of individual wheels.

It even has Drag Torque Control (DTC), which prevents loss of grip due to engine brake torque on icy roads if you live in the Malutis.

The Ecotec engine is very fuel efficient. GM claims 6.7l/100km. Work on 7 to 7.5l/100/km.


Also look at the Chevrolet Orlando,Toyota Avanza, Suzuki Ertiga and Nissan NV200.

The base price is R261 500. Warranted by General Motors South Africa for 5 years or 120,000 kilometres.

Citroën DS4 VTi 120 Style review

Citroën DS4 VTi 120 Style

Citroën DS4 VTi 120 Style

Citroën DS4 VTi 120 Style

Style. This car has style. In fact, she is a stunner. The DS4 just looks sooo good, inside and outside. It really looks like a million bucks in the metal. Pictures do not do it justice. It as if it has been sculpted out of metal.

It is a pity therefore that it does not quite deliver on its promise. Don’t get me wrong. It is a pleasant car to be in and to drive. It just is not the performance car it promises to be from outside.

I could not fault the interior, especially the dash and front seats. It is smart, functional, comfortable and exudes Gallic style. There are a few small niggles though, more of which later. The overall impression is one of quiet luxury.

The DS range has all sorts of tech aids. Blind spot monitoring, extra light when cornering, sound system which adjusts itself to the ambient noise and so on.


Citroën DS4 VTi 120 Style

Citroën DS4 VTi 120 Style

The exterior is stunning. There are very few cars more handsome than the DS4. She is attractive from any angle.

The three quarter view is near perfect.

The VTi 120i, the model we dove, accelerates leisurely through the gears and from a stop. We assume that at altitude the performance would be a little lethargic to say the least. The turbo diesel model packs quite a punch though. If you live on the Highveld consider the diesel or the 2.0 petrol models.

The windscreen extends far up into the roof. There are two sun screens and sliding panels.

The windscreen extends far up into the roof. There are two sun screens and two sliding panels.


This car is very good, but not perfect.

The rear windows cannot open and legroom is limited. Space at the back seat is a little cramped. It needs to be thought of as a big two seater with a huge parcel shelf rather than a four seater.

A big problem in summer is the metal bits on the steering wheel and gear knob. They get very hot, making it awkward to change gear or even steer.

Speaking of heat. The air-conditioner does cool the car down eventually but is not a very powerful unit. It blows cool rather than cold.


Retail price as tested is R340 900. The Sport pack adds R15 000.

Citroën DS4 VTi 120 Style

Citroën DS4 VTi 120 Style

The top model is the automatic diesel HDi 160 Sport at R383 900. The best buy is probably the THP 200 Sport at R370 900.

The 5 year or 100 000km maintenance top-up plan is R24 500.

The warranty is for 3 years or 100 000km and a service plan for 5 years or 100 000km is included.



Citroën C4 Aircross HDI review

Citroen Aircross Diesel 004 Citroën C4 Aircross HDI

Interesting cars. Citroëns.

Take the Aircross.


The Aircross is a very economical, smallish, high riding station wagon. The ideal car for business and family. Although it is a small station wagon it looks like an SUV.

The Aircross is about versatility. It has very good use of space so for example with the rear seats in place you get 384 litres of boot. With the rear seats folded forwards additional loading volume is available.

There is a choice of 2.0petrol, 1.6 turbo diesel, manual or CVT. You also get a CVT petrol 4×4.

Citroen Aircross diesel

Citroen Aircross diesel

All Aircross models come with high specification levels including multifunction trip computer, daylight running lights, multifunction steering wheel EBD and front airbags. The basic trim is called Attraction and is well specced. The top Exclusive trim is fully equipped from Xenon lights to climate controlAs with all Citroëns theses cars come with a full safety suite and five star rating.

The interior is very pleasant. The front seats are fully adjustable and comfortable. There is a certain flare and almost charm about the cabin. . Needless to say there are numerous storage compartments and cup holders.

The Aircross is a handsome car with beautifully balanced lines.

Citroën claim a combined fuel consumption under 5 litres/100km for the diesel. Expect under 7 l/100km, even in town. The petrol models are also very frugal and should give you a figure around 8 l/100km.

With the automatic (CVT) model acceleration is laboured unless you go to manual mode. The ride quality is betwixt and between. Because the Aircross rides a little higher than a normal car it tends to sway and pitch a bit to the point where one could feel carsick. I feel the ride borders on harsh and the tyres generate more road noise than they should.

Citroen Aircross diesel

Citroen Aircross diesel

It is an excellent size car. Not too small, not too big. A good compromise between an economical size and a useful one.

The range starts with the 2.0 2wd Attraction petrol atR308 900. The base automatic is R355 900. AWD starts at R382 900 for the HDi 115 Comfort diesel. The top model is the 2.0i 4wd Exclusive automatic at R405 900.

The competition includes all the SUV crossover little station wagons like the Ford Kuga, Renault Duster, VW Tiguan and so on. It is not off-road capable.

All models come standard with 3 year or 100 000km warranty and 5 year or 100 000 service plan.

Sandero Stepway 2014

The new Sandero Stepway has just been launched.

Sandero Stepway 2014

Sandero Stepway 2014

With a recommended price of R155 900 the Stepway certainly gives you bang for your buck.

Its got the same new generation three cylinder Turbo 66kW power plant as the other Sanderos.

It is basically a Dynamique, but has elevated ground clearance, 16” wheels, front and rear skid plates, roof rails, exclusive Azurite Blue colour and specific seat fabric.

The original Sandero Stepway sold over 3 000 sales per annum since 2012 placing it among the Top 10 variations on the SA market.

We hope to test it in June.


New Sandero from Renault

Renault appear to have pulled the proverbial rabbit from the hat with the new Sandero. Definitely some magic in the air.

New Sandero

New Sandero

“What you see is a vehicle fully representative of Renault’s heritage with every gene rooted in Renault’s DNA.” says Wayne van der Merwe, product manager for New Sandero.

Because of its unparalleled value proposition, New Sandero is set to become the new reference among cars priced under R150 000, a strategic segment which weights no less than 60 000 sales per annum says Renault. I agree. Its a damn fine looking car.

Also fitted in Clio, the new generation 3 cylinder 900cc Turbo petrol 66kW power plant (code name: H4Bt) is highly efficient.

New Sandero Turbo 66kW reaches a top speed of 175 km/h and speedily accelerates, from 0 to 100km/h, in only 11.1s.

New Sandero come with Renault’s a five-year/150 000km warranty completed by a standard two-year/30 000km service plan (service intervals: 15,000 km).

According to Renault’s objective to be positioned in the TOP 5 in terms of parts affordability, New Sandero’s running costs will be very moderate, in line with the previous generation (ranking at Number 3 of its segment, according to Malcom Kinsey’s 2013 report).

PRICING (including standard Service plan)

  • NEW SANDERO Expression Turbo 66kW  5-door       R133 900 (including Aircon)
  • NEW SANDERO Dynamique Turbo 66kW 5-door       R141 500

Review to follow as soon as I get my hands on one.

2014 TowCAR of the Year – Subaru Outback 2.0D Lineartronic

The Subaru Outback 2.0D Lineartronic has won the 2014 TowCAR of the Year competition, in association with CAR and Leisure Wheels magazines, Campworld and Forever Resorts.

Subaru Outback 2.0D Lineartronic

Subaru Outback 2.0D Lineartronic

The competition, which saw twelve automatic 4×4 vehicles tested with 1.4-ton Jurgens Penta caravans at the Boekenhoutkloof Traffic College, tries to find the SUV which performs best in a host of towing-related categories which are evaluated in controlled conditions.

The Outback Diesel CVT, which features a Boxer turbocharged diesel engine, Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive™ and Lineartronic™ CVT automatic transmission, overcame the odds after its on-paper specifications seemed to be disadvantaged against larger and more powerful automatic 4×4 SUVs.

The Traffic College’s massive skidpan, where the tow vehicles’ traction and stability systems could be tested to the limits and beyond, as well as an enclosed test track, proved to be an ideal and safe base where the vehicles could be put through all their paces. The test day also included a 15 km road section, with inclines and declines, topped off with some fast and slow stretches, and bumpy and smooth sections.

Eight judges decided the outcome of the towing test. The panel included professional vehicle dynamics testers, top advanced driving instructors who specialise in towing, award winning motoring journalists and a professional racing legend who is also a keen caravanner.

The judges had to score each SUV in ten categories. These included exterior, interior, handling, stability, engine, transmission, braking, parking, cruising ability and value for money.  All the SUVs were driven over exactly the same route, in exactly the same conditions, performing exactly the same tests along the way.

Says Jakes Jacobs, one of the judges and a legend of vehicle testing and racing in South Africa: “We judged these vehicles only as tow vehicles, towing a caravan designed for tar roads.”

The judges cited a number of the Outback’s facets which impressed them the most, including excellent handling and stability, as well as the collaboration between the two-litre turbocharged Boxer diesel engine (110 kW and 350 Nm) and the Lineartronic™ transmission, with its simulated gearing.

“The engine had almost 40 kW of power less on tap than some of the other SUVs, but thanks to the brilliant transmission, with its simulated gears and paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, the available power was always immediately accessible,” explains Jacobs.

“Some of the other SUVs had almost 500 Nm of torque to play with, but thanks to less effective auto transmissions and drivetrains, much of the torque was lost in translation, so to speak. Combine that with the Outback’s excellent handling and confidence-inspiring ride, as well as the roomy interior, and you end up with a very good, practical and safe towing package.”

VW Tiguan TSI 4×2 Trend and Fun review

VW Tiguan TSI 4×2 Trend & Fun

VW Tiguan

VW Tiguan

If you like a golf but need a bit more space, or use country roads and need a higher ride height than a Golf offers, this  Tiguan may be your solution.

The base model as tested is in effect a normal two wheel drive station wagon version of a Golf . What you get is the extra space, a more upright and higher seating arrangement and the ‘middlemannetjie’ on a rural road wont bother you.

I really like these Tiguans, the luxury and performance of a Golf with the practicality of a station wagon/SUV.

These cars are just the right size. Big enough for four adults and a toothbrush or two but small enough
to feel nimble and enjoy a reduced thirst for petrol. They are both SUV and MPV.

Tiguan 1.4 TSI dash

Tiguan 1.4 TSI dash


A number of motoring critics have said that the interior is sombre. I do not agree with them. It is sensible, ergonomic and well laid out. The materials used give the impression of quality. The black finish looks neat and purposeful.

The leather multi-function steering wheel and gear knob give the car a luxury feel. The cloth trimmed seats are comfortable and fairly adjustable. Fit and finish appears to be excellent.

I found the car very pleasant to dive. All round visibility is good, the more upright seating is comfortable and the controls are easy to hand and have a quality feel to them and make it easy to drive.

Driving impression

I found the 90kW engine a little laboured at times but still capable to get you where you have to get. The car handles well even with the slightly taller stance. It is not sporty like a GTi , but it is a pleasure at the wheel. The brakes are well balanced and cornering as well as general handling precise and predictable.

Economy is very decent but not spectacular. VW claim a combined consumption figure of 6.5l/100km. I got just over 7.5l/100km which is more than acceptable.

These new generation turbocharged petrol engines take performance and economy to new levels.

The 4×2 Trend & Fun is an interesting mix of sophisticated and basic. Its price is misleading simply due to the very basic specification, meaning that you have to fit expensive “accessories” to match for example the Ford Kuga which includes them in the sticker price. So for example climate control (as opposed to plain aircon) costs R4400 extra, park distance control R4 150, front fog lights R1 950, service plan for 90 000km is R2 492 or maintenance plan for 120 000 a whopping R25 992. It all adds up.

Practical, good looking and efficient. That about sums up this Tiguan.

VW Tiguan TS1 4x2

VW Tiguan TS1 4×2

Tiguans all come with a raft of active and passive safety and performance measures from ABS to spin control and a stability programme.

The Tiguan ISi 4×2 Trend & Fun as reviewed costs  R312 000, but we would recommend you go for the 118kW version at R345 200 especially if based on the Highveld or if you expect to load her up a bit.

Also check out the Ford Kuga, Honda CRV, Toyota Verso, Renault Duster and Nissan Qashqai.

The top of the line Tiguan is the 2.0 TSI Sport & Style  at R446 250 which comes with 7 speed DSG and AWD. There are 8 models to choose from.

It comes standard with a 3 year or 120 000 km warranty, 12 year corrosion warranty and a 60 000 maintenance plan.

Tiguan 4x2

Tiguan 4×2

Suzuki Swift DZire

Swift grows up

Suzuki Auto South Africa has added a new sedan model to its Swift hatchback range.

The new  four-door sedan will be marketed under the DZire name, and shares the proven platform of the Swift hatch, while adding the a boot and more space for rear occupants.

Suzuki Swift Dzire sedan

Suzuki Swift Dzire sedan

The new Swift DZire is powered by a latest-generation 1,2-litre engine which has excellent fuel economy. The four-cylinder, 16-valve unit is offered in conjunction with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic gearbox.

Swift DZire buyers also get to choose between GA and GL specification levels.

The cabin provides comfortable seating for four or even five occupants, while the 300 litre boot ensures ample luggage space.

Safety and security measures include dual front airbags, remote central locking, and inertia reel front seatbelts with load limiters and pre-tensioners.

The  1 197 cc power unit produces a maximum output of 63 kW at 6 000 r/min, combined with a torque peak of 113 Nm at 4 500 r/min.

The DZire 1.2 Manual does  0-100 km/h in 12,6 seconds, and achieves a top speed of 160 km/h. Combined cycle fuel
consumption is a around 5,7 litres/100 km.

The recommended retail prices of the new Suzuki Dzire range include a two-year/30 000 km service plan and a three-year/100 000 km warranty, while a three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance package is also provided as part of the deal. Services are at 15 000 km intervals.


DZire 1.2 GA M/T  R128 900

DZire 1.2 GL M/T  R138 900

DZire 1.2 GA A/T  R153 900

Nissan NV350 Impendulo 2.5 Petrol Minibus Taxi

Nissan NV350 Impendulo 2.5 Petrol Minibus Taxi

Nissan have launched a new minibus taxi,a 16-seat model, built to comply with South Africa’s taxi industry.

Nissan NV350 Impendulo

Nissan NV350 Impendulo

The new NV350 Impendulo Taxi, gives a strong local flavour to the taxi.

Says Tessa Cooke, NV350 Product Manager at Nissan South Africa: “Impendulo is the isiZulu word for ‘the answer’, a term which can be applied to the NV350 Taxi in more than one way. With it, we aim to recapture the love and affection of both taxi operators and commuters.

“The fact that our new taxi has been designed around the people who are going to operate and use it, coupled with the overwhelmingly positive response our naming competition, points towards a very successful reintroduction of the Nissan badge to the South African taxi industry.”

The Nissan enters a market in which over 4.5 million people travel in over 220 000 taxis on a daily basis.

The new Nissan NV350 Impendulo is powered by an existing 2.5-litre petrol engine, which produces 108 kW at 5 600 rpm and 213 Nm at 4 400 rpm, mated to a five-speed manual gearbox.

Fuel economy is improved with the assistance of low voltage control of the alternator, whereby battery charge is monitored and the alternator’s voltage adjusted to curb over-charging the battery, thereby reducing load on the engine and lowering fuel consumption. Improved timing chain operation thanks to low-friction materials also aids in reducing consumption, as does the engine’s low idle speed of just 600 rpm.

Safety equipment includes driver and front passenger airbags, ABS with Brake Assist, seat belts for all 16 seats, a driver’s seatbelt warning buzzer, an emergency exit escape hatch in the roof and an immobiliser.

The Impendulo 2.5 petrol retails at R306 900 through Nissan’s entire existing dealer and comes standard with a 3-year/ 100 000 km warranty as well as a three-year unlimited kilometres anti-corrosion warranty. Service intervals are 15 000 km.

2014 Toyota Corolla

The new Toyota Corolla is here.

Launched today to much fanfare, pomp and ceremony this Durban built car is very important to the SA market.

Prices start at R214 900 and top out at R283 900.

2014 Toyota Corolla

2014 Toyota Corolla

Toyota SA Motors’ Lettie Labuschagne, General Manager of Product Planning, says “Toyota has spent decades refining and improving the Corolla, whilst staying true to its core values, which is the reason why it’s still SA’s most loved sedan.”

“With better styling, enhanced dynamics and even more interior space, the 2014 Corolla promises to be the best model yet. That is no small feat considering that its history goes back more than 47 years.”

Cumulative worldwide Corolla sales exceed 39.7 million since the nameplate was launched in 1966, including nearly 1 million in South Africa alone. The new sedan is the 11th generation Corolla. It will be sold in more than 150 countries.

With maximum torque of 205 N.m available from 1 800 to 2 800 r/min, the 1.4 D4-D turbodiesel is mated with a six-speed manual transmission allowing for 0 t0 100km/h 12 12.6 seconds. Toyota claims a average fuel consumption of 3,8 litres/100 km and CO2 emissions of 99 g/km. This may be the model to go for.

The wheelbase has been extended 100 mm compared to the outgoing production model to enable more space and especially rear legroom.

The new Corolla will be available in a choice of seven exterior colours, of which three are new to the model range: Seaside Pearl Metallic (light blue), Avant-Garde Bronze and Grey Metallic.

Sprinter models are cosmetically differentiated by means of 16-inch smoked alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and Sprinter badging.

Toyota Corolla interior

Toyota Corolla interior

The new Corolla is not only more spacious and comfortable, but also quieter than its predecessor.

The new Corolla is available in a choice of four grades; Esteem (entry), Prestige (mid), Sprinter (sport) and top-of-the-range Exclusive. A grade-dependent choice of fabric (Esteem), fabric and leather (Sprinter) or leather (Prestige and Exclusive) are available.

All models except for the Esteem come with a new, leather-covered, multi-functional steering wheel incorporating a comprehensive array switches for the operation of the audio, hands-free telephone and multi-function display system.

The refreshed line-up features a choice of an all-new 1.4 litre D-4D turbo diesel and three petrol engines; a 1.33 litre Dual VVT-i unit, a 1.6 litre Dual VVT-i engine and another new powerplant, the 1.8 litre Dual VVT-i unit.

All engines are fitted with six-speed manual transmissions, but the 1.6 and 1.8 petrol variants may optionally be mated to Toyota’s new, high-gear, high-efficiency Multidrive S automatic transmission.

Active safety has been enhanced through the adoption of a next generation ABS system and a shorter brake pedal stroke for better feel and system response. Traction Control (TRC) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) are available on two of the four model grades – Hill Start Assist Control (HAC2) is fitted to vehicles equipped with VSC.

The new Corolla benefits from a three-year/100,000km warranty and comes with a standard five-year/ 90 000 km service plan. Service intervals are set at 15 000 km (including the 1.4 D). The new models are also supported by the ToyotaCare Roadside Assistance Programme which entitles customers to 24-hour roadside assistance, ensuring ultimate peace-of-mind motoring.


1,3-litre Esteem: R214 900  1,3-litre Prestige: R232 900

1,4-litre D4-D Esteem: R237 900  1,4-litre D4-D Prestige: R249 900

1,6-litre Esteem: R225 900  1,6-litre Prestige: R241 900  1,6-litre Prestige CVT: R252 900  1,6-litre Sprinter: R248 900

1,8-litre Prestige: R251 900  1,8-litre Exclusive: R272 900  1,8-litre CVT Exclusive: R283 900














More to follow.