Ford Fiesta ST200 Limited Edition review

Ford Fiesta ST200 Limited Edition

You get the Fiesta. Then you get the Fiesta ST. And then the ST200 Limited Edition. Only 160 of them were brought into SA and they are available in “Storm Grey” metallic only.

The difference between the “normal” ST and the limited edition includes the power output which has been raised from 134 kW to a mighty 147 kW for such a small body. Maximum torque, meanwhile, goes up from 240 Nm to 290 Nm.

Do you really need 290 Nm in a Fiesta? If you want to kick ass you do, oh yes. By the way, a further 11 kW and 30 Nm are available for up to 20 seconds thanks to the engine’s overboost function. Yummy.

This means zero to 100 km/h in 6,7 seconds and a top speed which is electronically limited to 230 km/h.

Enhancing the handling, the limited edition has a rear twistbeam with a claimed 27% more roll stiffness.

Inside are Recaro heated sport seats with partial leather and two-tone seatbelts, nogal.

The interior is well designed and appears to be well put together. The Sony based infotainment system is good but is not the new Synch3 system. Space at the back is limited.

Cars.co.za said of the ST200LE that it is “pointy, agile and heaps of fun. There’s more to the Ford ST200 than just a hot hatch label. It allows the driver to feel the limit better through its steering, the suspension is set up to tip the car into corners from the rear.” We concur.

This limited edition ST200 is designed to put a smile on your face. It really is fun to drive. Handling heaven. The gearbox is oh-so-smooth and is near perfectly mated with the clutch. You will have to look long and hard to find a better combination.

The steering is also just right, not too light and with plenty of feedback. Ford have got the whole package right, I think.

I found it a little “hard”, for everyday use though, bearing in mind that I have been around the block. I think you can tell the difference between an old and a new R5 coin if you drive over them. So I can safely say it is a young man, with petrol in his veins, type of car.

Dynamite, and so a handful when given rein.

Possibly the best little hot hatch in SA, especially at the price.

The ST200 Limited Edition costs R339 900, which is R14 000 more than that standard Fiesta ST.
It comes with a four-year or 120 000 km warranty and a four-year or 60 000 km service plan.

The competition includes the soon to be released Volkswagen Polo GTI which has a 2.0 petrol engine putting out 147 kW from 4 000 rpm, and 320 Nm of torque from just 1 500 rpm. Expected to cost R387 500. To be confirmed next month by VWSA.

The very hot Renault Clio RS220 Trophy puts out 147 kW and 230Nm, does 0 to 100 km/h in 6.7 seconds, and hits 230 km/h in a car weighing only 1 170 kg and enjoying a taut and grip-focused chassis, for R434 900.

Ford ST200 LE

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Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Comfortline Review

Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Comfortline

Polo is big in SA. I mean the car, Volkswagen’s small car to be specific.

We get two broad versions of Polo here, the new model is called Polo and the previous Polo gets a little makeover and is a little stripped down to be called the Vivo. We will be reviewing the Vivo, but first let’s take a look at the new Polo, and concentrate on the Comfortline, which we drove.

Volkswagen Polo

The sixth generation Polo is the first Polo based on the modular transverse matrix (MQB) A0 platform which has a 92mm longer wheelbase than the previous Polo (which is now the Vivo). The wheelbase, exterior length and width (by 69mm) have all grown while the car’s height remains nearly identical. This results in a sleeker look. And more space inside.

This new Polo looks really great inside and out. The styling department at VW has done a superb job, may I say, as always. It feels as big as a Golf 3 inside.

A new dashboard and cockpit layout puts this new model at the front of the pack, it is that good. A joy to behold.

VW Polo dashboard

Several dashpad colour trims are available; Limestone Grey Metallic on the Trendline and Comfortline, Deep Iron Metallic on the Highline and Velvet Red on the “beats” model which has a 300-watt sound system.

The dashboard and the centre console are slightly angled towards the driver.

This is the first Polo with digital instruments. The second generation of Active Info Display debuts in the new Polo. All key modules – except for the air conditioning unit – have been integrated on the upper cross-panel of the dashboard locating the infotainment system much higher than before into the driver’s direct line of sight.

This layout is excellent, and I can argue, class leading, but at a price.

In the top trims the new Active Info Display and the new 8-inch touchscreen are combined to form a modern, glass-encased functional unit.
The Active Info Display is an expensive option on the Comfortline and Highline models, though.

There are six packages, from the very basic Trendline, to the Comfortline, Highline, GTI, beats and R-Line.

The beats special edition is especially colourful and loud with, for example, the dashpad a hectic “Velvet Red”, a massive sound system by Dr. Dre.

In the Comfortline trim level, the Multi-function Display “Plus”, the Composition Colour infotainment system with six speakers, leather multi-function steering wheel, Driver Alert System and front and rear electric windows are included.

The swankier Highline gets additional features such as the Composition Media infotainment system, App Connect, Voice Control, Sport seats, Cruise Control with speed limiter and white LED ambient lighting (front doors and instrument panel).

New features for the Polo include the lane change system Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, semi-automated Park Assist system for exiting parking spaces, the proactive occupant protection system and a manoeuvre braking function, but these are optional extras which can cost quite a lot.

The 0ptions fitted to the car we drove include the following: Front armrest (R1 412), cruise control (R1 815), smoker’s package (R251), App Connect (R1 513), voice control (R756), Active Info Display (R8 675) Composition Media (R3 026) with iPhone interface (R1 513), light and sight package (R3 883), Discover Media (R12 104).
Total of optional extras fitted to the car reviewed: R34 398.
Park distance control is an option at R4 690. Really?

The boot is quite a bit bigger than the previous Polo at 350 L. As a general comment you could say it is a big, little car. It feels spacious.

The smallest TSI ( 3-cylinder, 999cc) for the new Polo has an output of 70 kW (at 5 000 rpm)and 175 Nm and is standard for both the Trendline and Comfortline. Even at the coast you run out of steam quite quickly, so it will be best to go for the 85kW engine option.
VW claims 4,5 L/100 km. I think that is very optimistic. An 8km stretch I drove in town returned 11L/100km but expect around 6 L/100km on average if you do not push on.

The real cost of the Comfortline we drove is R299 098. A difference of R34 398 to the basic price as listed below.
Recommended Retail Prices (VAT and emissions tax included)

1.0 TSI 70kW Trendline R 235 900
1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline R 264700
1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline DSG R 280700
1.0 TSI 85kW Highline R 286200
1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSG R 302200
All Polo models come standard with a 3 year/45 000km Service Plan,
3 year/120 000km warranty and a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty.

Also look at the Honda Jazz, Ford Fiesta, Suzuki Swift, Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio, Mazda 2 and Renault Clio. The Mazda 2 Individual, in particular, at R238 00 looks like a bargain in comparison.

Nissan X-trail 1.6 dci Tekna 4WD review

The X-trail has been a firm favourite for many years. And rightly so. It filled the niche and largely created the soft SUV segment, although it has now become a crossover.

Nissan X-trail in Onrus

I reviewed the Alfa Romeo Stelvia at the beginning of January. Many people stared at the car as I drove past. Admiring the really beautiful lines of the Stelvia, which can be described as a work of art, on wheels. Interestingly the new ‘facelifted’ Nissan X-trail, which I have been driving this week got as many , if not more ‘stop and stares’. Especially men. They looked at the car and when they saw the badge they smiled, I suppose in approval.

Inside the X-trail is in its own way every bit as good as the Stelvia.

Nissan call it a crossover. No claims to real SUV ability. I like that, even though it has arguably more off tar capability than many “SUVs”. Nissan are a market leader and pioneer in this segment and it shows.
This new medium Nissan crossover has the class leading cabin and dash. Design, layout, equipment, materials, fit and finish are all top class in the range topping Tekna configuration, which I tested.
If you are looking for a premium crossover that offers comfort, versatility and smart technology, look no further. It is really that good.

I particularly liked the data display in front of the driver which has 7 different pages which you scroll through with a button on the multifunction leather steering wheel. The bigger display is only used for the maps, setting your radio and phone up, manoeuvring and cameras.

X-trail has the following new generation tech:
Blind spot intervention which alerts the driver to the presence of vehicles in blind spots diagonally behind the car.
Lane intervention which alerts the driver when it detects that the X-Trail is straying from its lane.
Cross Traffic Alert which can detect and warn the driver of vehicles that are approaching behind the X-Trail, especially when parking or leaving parking.
Emergency Braking which uses radar technology to keep an eye on your speed and proximity to the vehicle in front of you, and will alert the driver before engaging the brakes.
Forward Collision Warning helps alert drivers of an impending collision with a slower moving or stationary car.
Auto Headlights which automatically changes between high and low beams when it detects oncoming vehicles at night.
Around View Monitor with moving object detection – a support technology that assists drivers to park more easily by providing a better understanding of the vehicle’s surroundings.

Nissan X-trail

Nissan claims a combined consumption of 5,3 L/100km. I got about that on the open road, but a still very good, 7.6 L/100 km in general urban use including a trip to Onrus where I took the pictures. The 1.6 turbodiesel puts out 320 Nm, which means you have oodles of power, which combined with good road holding, a well balanced steering and a slick gearshift makes for a very good touring and town car. Why spend more to have a fancy badge on the bonnet? Did I mention that the seats are really comfortable over longer distances?

Even cats like the new X-trail

In addition the new X-trail is fitted with active trace control, active ride control, all the latest braking tech and a lovely suspension setup. You can even go a little off the beaten path. The car has 209mm ground clearance and 50/50 4×4 lock to get you over fairly gnarly routes, but it is not a hardcore offroader, although it will tackle small dunes with aplomb.

The boot, with the sears up holds 550 litres and a full spare. With the 60/40 seats flat at least double that. Space, in general, in this X-trail is generous. There is a 7-seat version available, but the additional seats are for GOT’s Tyrion Lannister and his ilk or primary school children, but you will have almost no boot.

The new Nissan X-Trail comes with Nissan’s class-leading 6-year/150 000km warranty, a 3-year/90 000km service plan and 24-hour roadside assist.
Service intervals are at 15 000km and the new X-Trail is priced as follows:
2.0 Visia R 369 900; 2.0 Visia 7s R 374 900
1.6 dci Visia 7s R 392 900
2.5 Acenta CVT 4WD R 425 900; 2.5 Acenta CVT 4WD 7s R 429 900; 2.5 Acenta Plus CVT 4WD 7s R 444 900
1.6 dci Tekna 4WD R 457 900 (which we tested)
2.5 Tekna CVT 4WD 7s R 469 900
The best value is possibly the 2.5 Acenta CVT 4WD at R 425 900.

The X-trail is bigger inside than most of its apparent price rivals, but also look at the similarly sized Suzuki Grand Vitara if you need real 4×4 ability, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, VW Tiguan and Toyota Rav4.

2018 WesBank South African Car of the Year Finalists announced

It is that time of year again. We start to look back on the cars launched in 2017.

The COTY cars are not facelifts but supposedly new cars.

The idea is to recognise the car which has made the biggest impact on the SA car market.

Many years the judging panel get it horribly wrong, but other years again they get it right.

They are, in alphabetical order:

  • ALFA ROMEO GIULIA
  • AUDI Q5
  • BMW 5 SERIES
  • KIA PICANTO
  • LAND ROVER DISCOVERY
  • PEUGEOT 3008
  • PORSCHE PANAMERA
  • SUZUKI IGNIS
  • TOYOTA C-HR
  • VOLVO S90

Preparations now continue for the COTY evaluation days that will be held in late January 2018. At these evaluation days – the most critical of which will be the scheduled procedures to be held at a dedicated testing facility – the COTY Jury will assess the cars independently, with routes and modules designed to test the vehicles in a similar way in which the average consumer would use them.

Volvo S90 SA 010.jpg 2017 NEW SUZUKI IGNIS THE 2018 WESBANK SOUTH AFRICAN CAR OF THE YEAR COMPETITION GIVES A BIG THUMBS UP TO THE PEUGEOT 3008 SUV  Kia Picanto

The evaluation days offer the Jury the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with the vehicles on specific criteria including aesthetics, build quality, ergonomics, fuel consumption, environmental friendliness, safety features and value for money. These aspects are not only important with regards to the actual testing, but also to how the public perceives the COTY process, the finalists and ultimately the winning car. “We’ve seen many of these finalists performing well in our search volumes, with more than half appearing in our top 200 most searched for makes. It will be interesting to see who the judges choose as the winner.” Says George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO.

I personally think the Gulia and Ignis stand out.

We will see.