Citroën C3 Aircross Feel Compact SUV

The French connection is here once more. Saucy Citroën is showing a bit of leg again as it were.

Citroën C3 Aircross Feel Compact SUV at Audacia on the R44 near Somerset West.

The first of their three new models which we are looking at is the Citroën C3 Aircross which is based on the C3 supermini but with a longer wheelbase and of course a taller stance. It is interesting just how many people said it looks like a Mini to them.

Taking a step back, Citroën have only recently returned to our market after having temporarily withdrawn three years ago when their previous distributor messed up. They are now taking advantage of being part of the big Peugeot – Citroën – Opel group and piggybacking on the existing Peugeot dealer network and spares infrastructure. The Aircross is built at an Opel factory in Spain.

“With its unique body style, personalised features and connectivity, the new C3 is a bold, fresh, modern car. It illustrates the ongoing Citroën product offensive,” said Xavier Peugeot, Citroën Brand Product Director.

The C3 aircross has got good space for this niche and has the largest boot in the segment with a standard volume of 410 litres which can be increased to 520 litres thanks to the split rear sliding seats. The boot is fairly easily accessible via the large-opening tailgate and benefits from a low loading sill.

Total load volume with the rear seats folded down is 1 289 litres.

A nice touch is the dual-height boot floor which provides a flat floor when the rear seats are folded down.

We drove the base or Feel version, which is still a well equipped vehicle. Standard kit includes alloys, LED running lights, cruise, air con, and USB phone mirroring. It runs on 16-inch alloy wheels.

If you need or want navigation (but don’t want to use your phones), keyless entry and start, park assist, 17” wheels and optional sunroof consider the Shine model for around R20 000 more than the Feel trim level we tested, although I think the Feel hits the sweet spot.

The Mirror Screen function including Android Auto, Apple Car Play™ and MirrorLink® lets you take advantage of the multimedia content and apps of your smartphone in safety, by duplicating them onto the 7-inch touch screen for easy use.

This new-generation navigation function comes with connected services such as TomTom Traffic, for real-time traffic information, service station and car park location and prices, weather forecasts, and a local point-of-interest search function.

Annoyingly you have to use the touch screen every time you want to adjust the air conditionioning.

I thought the materials used, layout and seats is geared to make you feel at home. The interior is pleasant and the seats feel comfortable.

The Aircross has decent ground clearance and soft long-travel suspension, with the weight over the driving wheels giving acceptable handling and road holding. The three-cylinder 81kW 1.2 L turbo-petrol mill coupled to a new 6-speed automatic transmission is a little noisy at times but does provide adequate power and fuel consumption of just under 9 L/100km, although Citroën claims 6,5 L/100km.

Citroën C3 Aircross Feel Compact SUV

This car does better in and around town than on sweeping mountain passes, but is a cinch to park and manoeuvre in tight spaces.

The Citroën C3 Aircross Feel is listed at R339 900. The Shine is  R359 900. Included in the price is a 5-year or 100 000 km warranty and service plan, courtesy car, guaranteed parts basket and licence renewal reminder.

The Opel Crossland is in fact a sister model to the Aircross. Also look at the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke, New Hyundai Kona, Suzuki Vitara, Kia Stonic and VW T-cross.

Bloodhound exceeds 1000 km/h at Hakskeen Pan

The 1010 km/h run is at https://youtu.be/8GXtwR71huE

Nuff said.

It is an amazing, crazy adventure. I love it.

Their website is at http://www.bloodhoundlsr.com/

Bloodhound LSR is a venture based on the Bloodhound Project that is using the Bloodhound SSC Car rescued from administration by Yorkshire-based businessman Ian Warhurst in December 2018.
Since March 2019, the Bloodhound LSR project has been based at the UK Land Speed Record Centre in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. Its parent company is Grafton LSR Limited. The Bloodhound team is now working through its plan of high speed testing followed by setting a new world land speed record in South Africa.

The current world land speed record of 763.035 mph (1,227.985 km/h) was set over 20 years ago by a British team including Bloodhound LSR driver Andy Green. Advances in engineering design, materials and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) since the last record was broken mean we can be confident of breaking that record with Bloodhound LSR.

The project is helping to push boundaries and demonstrate pioneering new technologies. Many of the aspects of our land speed record car have required engineers to think in new ways and manufacturers to develop novel production and testing methods.

This project has inspired so many people over the last 10 years, including both students and the wider engineering community. Engineers like solving problems and theorising about what happens when you pass the limits of known understanding. We look forward to continuing this inspiration into the future.

Ian Warhurst, CEO, Grafton LSR Limited

All pics supplied by Bloodhound LSR

Count me in when they are here next.

SABAT WRX Cape Town Final Round 2019

What a weekend. The WRX championship was literally in the air until the last lap of the final at Killarney on Saturday.

WRX Cape Town – Szabo leads the way over the jump during qualifying.

Timmy Hansen, the Peugeot driver, was crowned the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Champion after taking  the number of wins this season into account when he was tied, on 211 points each, with Andreas Bakkerud at a breathtaking SABAT World Rallycross of South Africa at Killarney International Raceway on Sunday.

The smallish but enthusiastic Cape Town crowd was treated to a spectacular and bruising season finale after Bakkerud finished in second in the race behind winner Niclas Grönholm and Hansen in fourth behind Timur Timerzianov after 60 races in ten countries on four continents through 2019.

“It sounds fantastic — almost unreal that you call me world champion,” Timmy Hansen responded to a question on his taking the title. “I am super happy for the sport – the last race with everything on the line was nerve wracking, but I kept focussing and delivered a strong performance race by race through the weekend — there was no room for error — not the smallest mistake.

Kalliokoski watches forlornly as marshals extinguish an engine bay fire.

Race winner Niclas Grönholm  in the very fast Hyundai said “My first win was after someone else was penalised, so this one is special — my first chequered flag victory! ”

Audi driver Andreas Bakkerud was quite unhappy with the result and behaved a bit like a losing English rugby player. Watch this space. There might still be protests and an investigation.

What happened was the three world championship contenders had a coming together when Timmy Hansen made a move on Bakkerud and the two tangled resulting in Kevin Hansen also losing it.

Niclas Gronholm leads Kevin Hansen around turn one.

As a result Grönholm led the way from the recovered Bakkerud, Timerzianov and Timmy Hansen, who quickly passed a struggling Scheider to take a vital fourth place. Kevin Hansen then had a second spectacular incident at the same corner the three had collided on the opening lap.

The local drivers enjoyed races for Speed Car buggies backed up by races for two rapidly growing Cape Rallycross classes catering for two-litre front wheel-drive machines and three litre rear wheel-drive BMW E36 Cup ‘big sixes’.

Zack Groenewald pushed his car to the limits to take the chequered flag

E36 Cup is a local rallycross class with 17 participants which only started in March this year. Ten drivers took part at the WRX event last weekend. They drive 325i and 328i cars in two categories as the 328s have much more torque. It makes for great racing though.  Zack Groenewald, known as Zackals, in the number 43 car was the very excited winner. He wrote on Facebook “Big thanx to my team for a awesome weekend without you guys its not possible And obviously my wife ….!”.

Timmy Hansen leads brother Kevin during qualifying.

As is usual at Killarney the event was well organised with good facilities and the prices and quality of the fast food was good. The festival like atmosphere was enjoyed by young and old.

Diarise 14-15 November 2020 for next year’s Sabat World Rallycross of South Africa Finale, it will probably be a cracker too and not to be missed.

Ford Kuga 2.0T AWD ST Line review

Ford has been both generous and clever with the Kuga ST line. They offer the driver a responsive fun car to drive with sporty looks and fairly sporty performance and then add dollops of luxury items as standard for a very fair price.

It is both a luxury mid-size SUV and a sporty feeling car at the same time. And very good value for money in its segment.

I really enjoyed driving the ST Line ( note: not ST) Kuga and could live very happily with it even though it is not terribly economical in turbo petrol guise although Ford claims 8.7L/100km. I think most users will average around 10L/100km, although the diesel will be lighter.

Ford Kuga 2.0T AWD ST Line

The ST Line badging implies it is not a real ST high performance derivative, but rather has more performance and upgraded suspension than the standard models, a bit like Audi offers the S-Line trim, Mercedes-Benz the AMG Line, and a number of BMW derivatives bear M badges.

The interior is restrained but smart and practical. A very pleasant space to spend time in. The Synch3 infotainment system is one of the best out there. Nothing to fault in that department.

An electric tailgate is now standard on all Kuga derivatives and includes a leg-swing opening function, a feature that allows for hands-free operation of the tailgate (even if the car is locked), as long as the key is in your pocket. The function is activated by swinging your foot under the rear of the car to open the tailgate. The technique needs a little practice, but once mastered its pretty useful.

A nice surprise was the  240-Volt two-pin plug port provided for the rear passengers. Very nifty, I thought.

A reverse camera is standard across the range, so parking is easy. The view from the very comfortable and adjustable driving seat is commanding.

The suspension easily soaks up imperfections in the road and rough surfaces and, on smooth tarmac, the Kuga offers a premium, luxury experience. It drives and feels like a car, albeit higher of the tar.

While the suspension has been tweaked to be firmer for better handling, the engineers have achieved an admirable balance between comfort and sharper handling. Its really very good.

Available in Ambiente, Trend and Titanium specification levels, with 1.5 and 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engines or 2.0 TDCi diesel.

The 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine has power and torque figures of 177 kW and 340 Nm, while the diesel gets 132 kW and 400 Nm with up to 40% less consumption than the petrol.

All Kugas have a four-year or 120 000km warranty.

Pricing is from R403,700 to R576,700. Fortunately they are well equipped, so what you expect is what you get.

The KUGA ST LINE SUV 2.0P 6AT AWD we drove costs R561 300, the diesel is R576 700. The model I like is the KUGA 2.0 TDCI TITANIUM POWERSHIFT 6AT AWD SUV at R530 600.

The Kuga is a good size, not too big, but also not cramped. With the the extensive specification, the above average handling and road holding and the great feel in mind, the Kuga must be on your list if you are looking at a medium sized SUV.

 

 

VW T-Cross launched

Sangria, Ibiza, Real Madrid, Flamenco, Toledo…  Navarra.

VW T-Cross

It’s Spain right? The home of the new baby VW SUV – T-Cross. Made in Spain. Some of the Iberian vibe rubbed off on the T-Cross. Its viby, warm, looks stunning in and out, especially in the orange guise.

The trend away from sedans is growing momentum, even taking sales away from hatches. People just love their multi-purpose vehicles from crossovers to SUVs. VW is not immune to this phenomenon. Sales of their big sedans, as well as Passat and Jetta has plummeted.

Wolfsburg had to make a plan, partly in case hatch sales also started evaporating.

Volkswagen have had a medium SUV in the Toureg and a small one with the Tiguan but needed a compact car to cover that end of the market.

VW are bringing two smaller SUV/ crossovers to market. The first one, available now, is the T-Cross. Next year a more funky, less adventure orientated model, the T-Roc will join the fleet.


Its all about the size.

The T-Cross is 4.2 metres in length, 182 mm more than the Polo and 11 centimetres shorter than the T-Roc . The difference in height is even more obvious: the T-Cross measures 1 584 mm compared to the Polo’s 1 461 millimetres. The wheelbase of 2 551 millimetres increases the space and roomy feel. The elevated seat position is typical of an SUV. The driver and front passenger sit 597 mm above the road. The car is also wider at 1756mm and rides higher 180mm than the Polo.

The boot packs in from 377 to 455 litres. With the rear seat back that folds down you can create a flat loading space with up to 1 281 litres of space as the sliding rear seat can be adjusted by 14 cm.

T-Cross offers three trim levels starting with the Trendline (which will only be available next year).

The Comfortline trim comes standard with 16-inch ‘Belmont’ alloy wheels, black roof rails, front fog lights, leather multi-function steering wheel with multi-function display, Park Distance Control (front and rear), cruise control, Light and Sight Package and a front centre arm rest.

The third variant, the Highline, has additional standard features which include Comfort Sports Seats, Inductive Wireless Mobile Charging, Driving Profile Selection, Climatronic Aircon, LED Headlights, Composition Media with App-Connect and 18-inch ‘Cologne’ alloy wheels.

There is an optional sound system from renowned US brand Beats with a 300-watt, 8-channel amplifier and a separate subwoofer in the luggage compartment. It produces a rounded, full sound.

There is a choice of nine exterior colours and a selection of coloured wheel rims to personalise the exterior.

We drove the range-topping T-Cross 1.5 TSI 110kW R-Line DSG® model which comes standard with the following features: sports seats, driving profile selection, climatronic aircon, LED Headlights and tail lights, Composition Media with App-Connect, R-Line interior and exterior with 18-inch ‘Nevada’ alloy wheels, digital active info display and a choice of eight exterior colours. Up to four USB ports and the standard inductive wireless charging ensure optimum connectivity and sufficient power for smartphones.

The display system is really good. For example you can have the map displaying on the centre display and the route changes in the digital cluster in front of you. This cluster is seemingly endlessly customisable.

The interior is similar to the Polo and has an aura of quality, in the SUV context. They have not changed anything that works. The gearbox is the tried and tested DSG, the steering wheel is the familiar leather covered multi-function one we love using and so on.

For now the T-Cross will only be available in the 1.0 TSI engine with 85kW power output. In the first quarter of 2020, the 1.5 TSI 110kW will be introduced and in the second quarter the range will be completed with the introduction of the 70kW engine for the Trendline manual model.

These compact SUVs are built on is the modular transverse matrix (MQB) platform, which allows the driven front axle to be positioned much closer to the vehicle front resulting in better space utilisation.
Consumption on the launch drive which included a bit of town driving but mostly on highway was around 7L/100km.

The little three-pot mill is a pleasure to drive and will be more than adequate for most motorists.
For all intents the T-Cross slots in between the Polo and the Golf. Its just that little bit bigger, more functional than the Polo. I see first time buyers getting a Polo and then upgrading to a T-Cross when they need more space.

The competition is quite interesting. We can look at similar prices or similar size.

T-Cross side-by-side with a Polo. You can see it is taller, wider and rides substantially higher.

Price: Haval H6, Opel Mokka, Hyundai Creta, Suzuki Vitara, Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage, Suzuki GrandVitara, Nissan X-Trail, Mahindra XUV 500 and Mitsubishi ASX,

Size: Ford EcoSport, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-3, Toyota Rush, Renault Duster and Honda BR-V.

Pricing for the range at the moment is: 1.0 TSI 85kW Comfortline DSG® at R334 600, 85kW Highline DSG® at R365 000 and 110kW R-Line DSG® at R403 500. The only manual model will be the 70kW to be introduced later.

The T-Cross comes standard with a 3 year/120 000km warranty, a 3 year/ 45 000km Volkswagen Service Plan and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. Service interval is 15 000km.

Flights and accommodation were paid for by Volkswagen. We stayed at the Boulevard Hotel in Port Elizabeth and Knysna Hollow Country Estate.

Recent motoring launches

There were quite a few announcements about new models during August.

GWM P-Series
GWM which sells the Steed bakkies and Haval SUVs locally has just launched a new bakkie model range on their new P71 platform. It will get an 8-speed ZF automatic box coupled to a two litre VVT turbo-diesel engine putting out 140kW and 360 Nm, smart four-wheel drive with three diff-locks, high-strength body, the latest generation of Bosch version 9.3 ESP (stability control), 360 View, Rear View Camera, Lane Departure Warning, intelligent forward view (adaptive cruise control) and 12 radars.
The body measures 5 425 mm long, 1 972 mm wide and 1 893 mm high. The wheelbase is 3 230 mm.
With this bakkie they intend become number three behind Toyota and Ford. Watch this space.
Interestingly they have aligned themselves with several accessory and equipment suppliers and related players to form a complete ecosystem.
Expect the P-Series in the middle of the year (2020). The slightly more compact Steed will be continued.

Audi Q3 35 TFSI S-tronic
The second generation Audi Q 3 is here.
It now features a digital cockpit and a large MMI screen with touch response, assist systems to support the driver when parking, in town and on long journeys and has more knee room, headroom and elbow room.
There will be only one engine version – a 1.4 petrol engine with front wheel drive and a six-speed S tronic box. The power output delivers 110 kW and 250 Nm of torque from a four-cylinder direct injection unit with turbocharging. Six modes or driving profiles can be selected depending on conditions using the drive select dynamic handling system.
Audi South Africa has introduced a new package concept which will be adopted for all new models to be launched. The packages are: Comfort, Technology, Sport, Parking, S-line and Black. For example, the Comfort package includes storage and luggage; parking aid plus; electric tailgate; electric seats; seat heating and 4 way lumbar support.
The standard equipment list is more comprehensive than in the past and includes the digital cockpit, climate control, electronic stability control, rear parking aid and light / rain sensor.
In my opinion the new Q 3 looks great inside and out. Customers have many options for customizing their car. These include a contrasting paint finish for the lower body section or the S line exterior package which offers more sporty looking bumpers, sill trims and diffuser.
The instrument panel is divided into two levels: the top part includes the air vents; the bottom section incorporates the large octagonal area with its black-panel look. It is a really attractive interior.
The Audi Q3 range gets the Audi Freeway plan (5 year / 100 000 km) and is priced as follows:
Audi Q3 35 TFSI S-tronic at R565000, Advanced is R585 000 and S-line a solid R599 000.

Toyota becomes hotspot
“As of 01 September 2019, all new Toyota and Lexus models sold in South Africa will come standard with in-car Wi-Fi including 15GB free data (which you can top up) as well as a host of connectivity features and benefits courtesy of Toyota Connect, a major extension of the MyToyota App,” says President and CEO of TSAM, Andrew Kirby.
Known as Toyota Connect, the new connectivity hub will be housed within the MyToyota App which was launched in 2014. The technology allows owners access convenience, connectivity and safety benefits. Toyota the only manufacturer to offer a mobile App that is fully integrated with manufacturer and dealer systems, it is also the first organisation to offer the convergence of Wi-Fi and connectivity features in one package across the model range internationally.
The benefits of Toyota Connect can be grouped into three main areas: Connectivity features, Convenience and Safety features.
All the big brands are innovating and taking the present technology to the highest levels yet seen. The next generation will be very different and possibly powered either by hydrogen or batteries or they will be hybrids. They will be more automated and less driver orientated, almost like Ubers without the driver.

Mitsubishi Triton 2.4 Di-DC Double Cab facelifted

What’s in a face?

Take the facelifted Triton. The nose has changed. So, new face. You either love it, or hate it.

Otherwise there is much to love about the Triton, with a nose job.

Mitsbishi Triton T2.4L DI-DC A/T 4X4

At the very least a car’s face tells us something of the intentions or plan for the car. It it a puppy dog or a bulldog?

Mitsubishi claims “The new face incorporates the new-generation “Dynamic Shield” front design concept. The high hood line and beefier-looking headlights located higher up give the new model a more powerful and imposing frontal appearance.” Moving on…

The Triton has their MIVEC DOHC Intercooled Turbo Diesel with Common Rail Direct Injection producing 133kW@3500rpm and 430Nm@2500rpm using a new 6-speed A/T box.

Mitsubishi claims 8.3L/100km for the Combined Cycle.  I got 9.8L/100km.

The other big news is the new 6-Speed Automatic Transmission with Intelligent Shift Control, delivering the optimum balance of engine power, fuel economy and interior quietness with smooth acceleration at low engine revolutions. The latest version Super Select II 4WD system has an Off-road Mode available on the automatic transmission derivatives. The Off-road mode has GRAVEL, MUD/SNOW, SAND and ROCK (in 4LLc only) settings for improved traction on different road surfaces. This system is possibly the best there is. If you get into trouble you also have a rear diff lock. Triton is rated to tow a braked trailer of 3100kg.

The 4H drive mode distributes torque in a 40:60 ratio between the front and rear wheels via a Torsen limited-slip device for safer on-road driving in slippery conditions such as gravel and wet roads.

Mitsubishi’s unique Super Select II 4WD system offers four different drive modes for improved driver control and passenger safety. The 4H drive mode distributes torque in a 40:60 ratio between the front and rear wheels for safer on-road driving in slippery conditions i.e. dirt, gravel and wet roads. 4HLc (4WD High range with CD locked) distributes torque equally between the front and rear wheels for improved traction on sand, dirt and slippery surfaces like snow. 4LLc (4WD Low range with CD locked) provides greater torque for extreme off-road conditions.

I personally like the interior and the way the Triton just works, design wise (let’s leave the nose out of it) and technically.
“The new Triton is engineered to be tough and looks the part,” says Nic Campbell, General Manager of Mitsubishi Motors South Africa. “We are confident that the upgraded version will build on the popularity of the original Triton and the 40 years of development of this iconic pick-up.”

From the gear selector to the brakes, the steering – all the elements have been honed to be spot on. A more pleasant bakkie to drive will be hard to find.

The Triton has no less than 15 active safety and driver assistance systems, too numerous to mention. Suffice to say it’s got everything you want.

A high-quality look is created with soft pad materials and stitching on the floor console, armrests and parking brake. Functions include tilt and telescopic adjustable steering column with multi-function leather steering wheel with audio and cruise control, to dual-zone automatic air-conditioning and chromatic rear-view mirror.

The electrically adjustable driver’s seat allows you to get comfortable behind the wheel. The other seats are all comfortable and there is adequate legroom at the back.

Also look at the Isuzu D-Max, Mazda BT-50, Nissan Navarra, Toyota HiLux, GWM Steed and Ford Ranger.

The 2.4L DI-DC M/T 4×2 costs R509 995, 2.4L DI-DC A/T 4×2 – R529 995
2.4L DI-DC M/T 4×4 – R569 995 and 2.4L DI-DC A/T 4×4 – R589 995.

Triton is covered by a warranty of 3 years or 100 000km and a 5-year / 90 000 km Service Plan.

The manufacturer’s warranty is for 3 years / 100 000 km. Road Side Assistance is for 5 years with  unlimited mileage. The service plan is for 5 years or 90 000 km. Service Intervals: Every 10 000 km.