Opel Corsa Sport review

Opel Corsa Sport

OPEL-Corsa-Sport-117-thumbOpel in South Africa are positioning themselves as the small German luxury car brand.

The (micro) Adam, the (small crossover) Mokka, are brand new models.

The Corsa is the small Opel that the SA public has known and largely loved the last few years.

This new Sport model brings it in line with its younger siblings.

Opel Corsa Sport

Opel Corsa Sport

I have a problem with describing the car we tested as a ‘sport’ model, although it certainly looks the part. The Corsa Sport is a pleasant car to drive and has good roadholding and enough power to drive normally. It just does not feel overtly sporty or precise. The 4-cylinder, 1.4 Turbo ECOTEC engine will give you 100km/h in 9.6 seconds and reach a top speed of 204km/h on paper, so it is no slouch. To me, with three adults on board it did not feel planted on the road. It was a bit wishy washy, for a sport model.

It has a City mode button which lightens the steering, which coupled with the park sensors make city driving a breeze. In fact, the Corsa Sport comes comprehensively equipped. You would not need to get anything extra.

Opel-Corsa-Sport-seatsThe seats in the Corsa look great but seem to be sub-par. After even just an hour behind the wheel your back knows about it. A passenger in the back seat also commented how uncomfortable it becomes after a while. Otherwise the interior is well laid out and pleasant and offers reasonable space and practicality.

The intellilink audio system coupled to a 7″ touch screen is pretty advanced and features Siri Eyes Free which recognises your voice so you can make calls, play music, send or listen to text messages and emails using voice instructions.

Corsa Sport is also well equipped in the safety department with six airbags, ABS with EBD, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control, Straight Line Stability (SLS) and Brake Assist System (BAS). The headlights are exceptionally good.

Also look at the Suzuki Swift Sport, Volkswagen Polo, Hyundai i20, Renault Clio, Ford Fiesta and Mazda2.

Cost

Corsa 1.0T Essentia – R185 500
Corsa 1.0T Enjoy – R216 200
Corsa 1.4 Enjoy Auto – R216 500
Corsa 1.0T Cosmo – R236 300

Car as tested: Opel Corsa 1.4T Sport – R255 200

Corsa Essentia Option Pack 1: Radio with Bluetooth & USB, AC – R12 200
Corsa Essentia Option Pack 2: IntelliLink, AC, 15” alloy rims – R15 600
Corsa Enjoy Option Pack 1: IntelliLink – R4000
Corsa Enjoy Option Pack 2: IntelliLink, Advanced park assist 2 – R8 000
Corsa Cosmo and Sport Option Pack 1: Advanced park assist 2, side blind zone alert – R5000

Warranty

Prices include Opel’s 5-year/ 120 000 km warranty and a 3-year/ 60 000 km service plan.

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Renault Captur review

Renault Captur

The Captur is a sexy looking little crossover, about the same size as the Citeoën Cactus we tested earlier. You can really play with colour and colour combinations. I personally liked the warm cream colour of the test unit which Renault calls ivory white.

Renault-Captur-149-captured

The Captur is fairly meek in ECO mode but mildly gnarly in standard mode in which the car comes alive and becomes fun and fairly sure footed thanks in part to the McPherson front suspension with rectangular lower arm and anti-roll bar.

Performance is very impressive for a 898cc engine. Of course the advanced management and turbocharging make this little petrol mill a little performer in overboost mode putting out 70kW and 150 Nm.

I got 6.7 Litre/100km of mixed driving, although Renault claim 4.9L/100km, which I believe is not possible in real world driving.

Renault-Captur-122-side

It has a double layer boot above the Marie biscuit spare, with a parcel shelf about 10cm above the spare. The boot itself will just pass the pram test. The car interior overall is smaller than it appears from outside.

There is a very interesting backseat mechanism. The rear bench does not flip over but rather folds down and shifts forward. It is a bit unusual, but it is effective.

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Speaking of seats, as per all modern Renaults, the seats are comfortable and adjust enough to find a comfortable position. They are also a handy hip height making entry and egress a pleasure.

The Captur is a pleasure to drive but is not quite as sporty as she looks.

Prices are as follows:

Captur Expression 66kW Turbo              R219 900
Captur Dynamique 66kW Turbo             R239 900
Captur Dynamique 88kW EDC Turbo   R279 900

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Also look at the Citeoën Cactus, Renault Duster and Stepway, Nissan Juke, Suzuki Vitara.

The warranty is 5 years or 150 00km.

Duster 1.5 dCI Dynamique 4×2 Review

Duster 1.5 dCI Dynamique 4×2

The new facelifted and updated Duster now built in Romania has a few new elements: New alloy rims. Parking distance control (standard).Patterned fabric replaces plain seat and door panel design. 7” touchscreen satnav (Dynamique variants only). Cruise control is now standard.  Leather trim and seats are optional on all three derivatives.

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Product manager at Renault SA Jeffrey Allison said: “Moving production to Pitesti provides us with the opportunity to refresh Duster within a sharper turnaround time – good for the brand and good for our customers here in SA.”

I think that the quality has also been lifted.

This car is keen to go. Its power, and more to the point, torque to weight ratio is superb. You can literally stay in sixth gear when overtaking, or change down to fifth and blast past. It is a blast.

I got 6.7  litres/100km in mixed driving on my usual route which includes town, highway and a ten storey parking garage. You may get even better figures even as low as 5L/100km.

Renault-Duster-Facelift-dCi-4x2-103-dashI found the car suitably well equipped with cruise control, climate control, a great sound system but a slightly dodgy GPS concerning Cape Town map coverage. This may be upgradable.

The balance of the Duster is just so very good. It weighs really good power with really good fuel consumption. Acceleration is better than required for normal driving and top speed is way over 120km/h. The size is also good, not too big, not too little.

I prefer it to the more expensive Captur.

Consumption claimed of less than 5,  I got just less than 7 litre/100km

Duster 1.6 Expression 4×2 R222 900
Duster 1.6 Dynamique 4×2 R249 900
Duster 1.5 dCI Dynamique 4×2 R269 900
Duster 1.5 dCI Dynamique 4×4 R289 900

The Duster is sold with a five-year or 150 000km mechanical warranty, a three-year or 45 000km service plan (service intervals at 15 000km) and a six-year anti-corrosion warranty.

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Also look at the Renault Captur, Ford EcoSport, Kia Soul, Nissan Juke, Citroen Cactus, Suzuki SX4

Mercedes-Benz SUV Range 2015

After years of model name madness, Mercedes are finally getting some semblance of logic and system into the range naming protocol. You can actually work out where a model fits in with the new system. With the previous protocol you had  to know what a model was called.

The Mercedes-Benz SUV range. (Quickpic)

The Mercedes-Benz SUV range. (Quickpic)

So now the model range looks like this:

GLA – Compact cross between a hatch and a station wagon, but rides a little taller. Not trail or off-road capable, but equally good on tar and gravel. I liked it and found it big enough for four adults, but not their luggage. Range starts at R 438,900.00 for the GLA200, GLA 250 4MATIC is R610,900 and on to the GLA 45 AMG 4MATIC @ R785,200.00.

GLC –  Small SUV equivalent to a C class car, but with more usable space and a higher ride. Four models are available , all of them equipped with 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive and the 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission as standard:  GLC 220 d 4MATIC, diesel, 125 kW – 400 Nm @ R599 900, GLC 250 d 4MATIC, diesel @ R619 900, 150 kWm – 500 Nm, GLC 250 4MATIC, petrol, 155 kW – 350 Nm @ R604 900, GLC 300 4MATIC , petrol, 180 kW – 370 Nm R654 900.

GLE – A medium size car which replaces the ML. Mercedes believe it is a competent offroader.  It comes with a choice of two petrol and two diesel models with whichever transmission you need. Models are : GLE 250 d 4MATIC R863 000, GLE 350 d 4MATIC R964 000, GLE 400 4MATIC R959 000, GLE 500 4MATIC R1 166 000.

G-class – The king of 4×4 cars by most people’s estimation. We used to know it as the Geländewagen. We get two versions. The common or garden version G 350 d at around R1.5 million and the sporty Mercedes-AMG G 63 at a round R500k more.

IPSOS South African 2015 Vehicle Product Quality Awards

Ipsos customersThe IPSOS 2015 Product Quality Awards includes vehicles sold from January to December 2014 by manufacturers and distributors responsible for more than 83% of the country’s annual sales volume. The awards used to be known as the Synovate Awards.

The research is actually more geared to manufacturers for their own internal evaluation and monitoring of problems and improvements.

Lexus ES is the best car in SA, judged by problems per 100 vehicles, with only 10 pp 100.

Ipsos

 

The research of the customers’ ownership experience follows a syndicated format with various manufacturers and distributors contributing ideas and funding. Any motor company can participate if they supply names for interviewing, agree to the rules of syndication and participate in meetings and decisions regarding the syndicate business in a transparent and open manner.

“Once again we have seen a marked improvement in quality during 2014, despite growing technological complexity in vehicles” commented the Ipsos Automotive Business Unit Director, Patrick Busschau. “Customers in South Africa are becoming increasingly demanding where product quality and general service levels are concerned, but the local motor industry continues to keep raising the bar or at least remains on a very high level.”

ipsos what

The surveys have three components: a competitive customer experience benchmarking measurement of the sales and service satisfaction of customers within franchised dealership networks, and a benchmarking of product quality with rankings based on problems per 100 vehicles (PP100).

Toyota did well in the latest study, especially its light commercial vehicle range.

Toyota received Platinum Awards for Best Overall LCV Brand (PP100 score of 33), Best One Ton Double Cab LCV Brand (PP100 score of 34) and Best Local Plant Manufacturing LCVs (PP100 score of 31) in the latest results. Toyota – together with Kia – is also awarded with Gold as the Best Volume Passenger Car Brand with a PP100 Score of 31) and – along with Mercedes-Benz – was ranked first as the Best Local Plant Manufacturing Passenger Cars, with a PP100 score of 25.

Mercedes-Benz  received a Gold Award as the Best Luxury Passenger Car Brand (PP100 score of 26), but after four consecutive Gold Awards, the E-Class was recognised as the Best Top Executive Model (PP100 score of 17) and received a Platinum Award.

The A-Class received a Gold Award as the Most Improved Luxury Passenger Car (PP100 score of 22, compared to 39 in 2014). As mentioned before, it ranked alongside Toyota as the Best Local Plant Manufacturing Passenger Cars with a PP100 score of 25.

Ipsos Quality

The Volkswagen Polo Vivo Hatch was the highest-ranked Entry Vehicle with a PP100 score of 30. With a PP100 score of 25 each, the Kia Rio Hatch, Honda Jazz and Toyota Yaris Hatch led the Small Hatch category.

The Top Hatch Gold Award winner was the Toyota Auris (PP100 score of 19), with the Chevrolet Sonic Sedan (24) and Nissan’s Almera (26) pipping their competitors to the post for Gold in the Small Sedan category.

Ipsos problemsThe Lexus ES (10) was the best Medium Sedan, the Audi A3/S3 Sedan (22), Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla (both on 23) were top of the Top Sedan log and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class (17) won the Top Executive Vehicle. Mercedes-Benz also scooped the Sports Coupé class with the C-Class Coupé (13).

The Toyota Avanza (24) was the best MPV, with the Volkswagen Tiguan (13) rated as the best Small Recreational Vehicle and the Audi Q7 (13) as the best Large Recreational Vehicle.

Nissan and Toyota were the clear leaders in the LCV categories. The Nissan NP200 (45) received a Gold Award as the best Three-quarter Ton Vehicle, the Nissan Hardbody Petrol Double Cab (24) was the best Petrol Double Cab and the Nissan Navara Diesel Double Cab (24) the best Diesel Double Cab. Toyota’s Hilux Single Cab was the best Petrol Single Cab (26) and best Diesel Single Cab (31).

The Nissan NP200 (45) and Chevrolet Utility shared Gold in the Three-quarter Ton category, while the Ford Ranger Diesel Single Cab’s PP100 score of 33 was enough to earn it gold in the Diesel Single Cab category.

 

Ford Fusion 2.0 EcoBoost Titanium review

Fusion 2.0 EcoBoost Titanium

The Ford Fusion 2.0L Turbocharged EcoBoost Auto is quite a car.

Ford Fusion

Ford Fusion

While I was testing the Fusion many people thought it was a Jag. It does look somewhat like a Jaguar. It even acts a bit like one. I took it down to the Knysna Oyster Festival and loaded my MTB and all our stuff in the boot, with space to spare. The cabin is roomy and very well appointed and equipped. A pleasant place to spend some time. Speaking of which, spending time in the highly adjustable seats is a real pleasure.

Ford-Fusion-Knysna-058--sideThe car we tested came with the Trend Driver Assistance pack and Trend Option pack (around R30k together). These make it a real luxury car to match anything the other Europeans can throw at it and well worth it. From park assist, to lane control and adaptive cruise control to automatic headlights and wipers, its all there.

Fusion has a superb Sony sound and infotainment centre which works like a charm.

Space. A big boot, plenty of rear leg room and room for your elbows means you have space to spare.

She cruises effortlessly at 120km/h.

Ford-Fusion-Knysna-019--assThe Fusion can be quite docile but put your foot down and you unleash a bit of a beast. Performance and road holding is excellent. This is a car meant to be driven for pleasure. Fun for the family man.

Fuel consumption is very good for this size car, but is good full stop. I got just under 8 litre/100km average but under 7L/100km on the open road.

This car loves the open road. It has a premium solid feel about it.

The basic price of the car we tested is R369 900, but is R400k as tested. Still a bargain in this category. Fusion pricing starts at R349 900 and tops off at R473 100.

Ford-fusion-dashIt is worth considering that you will be getting more or less a 5 series size car for the price of a 3 series BMW without optional extras.

I fell in love with the Fusion. The quality and character may surprise you, its that good. It has been nominated for the 2015/16 COTY awards and rightly so. It may even win.

Word has it in the market that Ford resale values are amongst the highest at present and compares to Toyota resale values.

Also check out the VW CC or Passat, Mazda6, Hoda Accord or Hyundai Sonata. You may also want to look at the BMW 3 series, which is smaller than the Fusion.

Warranty is 4 years or 120 000km and the service plan is for 4 years or 80 000km

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Toyota Auris XR review

Toyota Auris XR review

Auris XR

Auris XR

Toyota entered the hatch market with the Corolla hatch in 1984 based on the FF (front engine, front wheel drive) 5th generation family size Corolla range which also included more sporty rear wheel drive models.

Today Toyota makes many different hatchback models including the very small Aygo, the compact Yaris and the family sized Auris.

The C segment which includes the medium family cars like the Auris comprises compact family hatches (30%) and sedans (70%) but is under pressure from compact SUVs which are like little station wagons on tall wheels.

The present version of the Auris is an example of just how good today’s car design and engineering is. It simply does everything so well and ticks so many boxes.

⊗ Good fuel consumption.

Toyota Auris XR at Lourensford Estate.

Toyota Auris XR at Lourensford Estate.

⊗ Excellent road manners.

⊗ Solid build quality.

⊗ Comfortable interior.

⊗ Comprehensively equipped.

⊗ Safe.

⊗ A pleasant car to drive, with a fun dimension.

The electric lime green XR Auris we got to test certainly stood out on account of its colour. But it also stands out because of its design and styling. And value for money.

Toyota_Auris-etc-011-DashI particularly like the design of the dashboard. It reminds one of an aircraft dash, but in a good technical way, not the fake styling of some other brands. The interior is really pleasant and well thought out, with plenty of storage nooks. Space is actually quite good. The boot easily passes the pram test and is surprisingly big for a hatch.
In the Auris, Toyota has caught up with VW and Ford in respect of the perceived quality and I think may exceed them in the actual quality of materials used and feel of the switchgear.
The drivability is more sprightly than sporty. It goes well and does pack a satisfying dollop of power and good almost sporty road manners. It is not a GTi or STi wannabe, rather a well behaved car with a slightly mischievous streak.
Toyota claims 0 to 100km/h in 10 seconds. In reality acceleration is on par with the competition and more than good enough.

I got 7.1 Litre/100km in Auris-Xr-Vergelegen-094-flankmixed driving, which implies that 6L/100km on the open road is more than likely. If you drive really carefully you will be able to improve on these figures.

Resale values for Toyota hatches have always been good, and I think you can expect the same or better for this range.
The competition in this niche of the market is fierce and several cars are deserving of consideration. I would recommend testing the Focus and Mazda3 before deciding.

Prices start at R223 700 for the base X version right up to R360 300 for the Hybrid. The model we tested was the XR at R287 700.

Warranty is 3 years/100000 km. Sevice plan is 5 years/90 000 km.

Also consider the VW Golf , Kia Cerato, Hyundai i30, Peugeot 308, Ford Focus and Mazda3

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