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.

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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.

Opel Combo Cargo LWB

Remember the three bears and the porridge nursery story? The one bowl was just right. Not too hot or too small. Well Opel has pulled off a similar beautiful story.

Enter the new Combo Cargo Long Wheel Base, a van that is not too big, nor too little. I checked with an electrician, plumber and a carpenter, and they all thought it was just the right size and also priced right.

A bigger sister, the Zafira will be launched soon and will be similar in size as the previous Opel Vivaro van.

Opel Combo Cargo LWB

It is rated for one ton and offers two metres in length and 1.2 high, with 1.2 between the wheel arches in the cargo area. And yet the outside is small enough to fit into a normal parking bay or garage. Braked towing capability is 850kg, while unbraked is 720kg.

The other excellent feature is the cabin. Clever, in one word. It is the World Van of the Year after all.
Above the window is a ‘ledge’ or shelf which would be ideal for a clip board or A4 diary. In the dash is an old fashioned cubbyhole, a slot for something like an order book and a cubicle above the instrument cluster which has a lid and is ideal for keeping petty cash and slips and finally two cup holders. Forward of the gear lever is a space for your phone or tablet, slots for coins, a cavity for a remote and small circular holder.

The doors have the normal space with place for a water bottle and between the seats there is a receptacle for a wallet and a further two cup holders. There is also an additional 12v socket.
The bluetooth telephone system is geared to serve both driver and passenger.
I found the seats to be comfortable and the driving position good. The steering is adjustable for rake and height. The instrumentation and controls are functional and effective.

The cargo area is large (3.9m³) and long enough to hold two motorcycles or four or more mountain bikes. There are six tie down anchors and plenty of notches and holes to attach permanent fixtures and brackets. Fixing points for a roof rack are standard. There is a sixty/ forty full height rear door and doors on both sides in the LWB model. The Short Wheel Base has only one door and a few other minor differences.

Performance is good with a smooth five-speed manual box coupled to a willing 1.6L turbodiesel mill doing service. This van has more than enough power and 230Nm torque. Combined cycle fuel consumption is claimed to be 5L/100km and I think you will get under 6 in general driving and less than 5L/100km on the highway. This van is easy to drive and is more car like than commercial. The speed sensitive steering is almost too light for my taste but is a pleasure in town and makes manoeuvring simple. Speaking of which, I would have liked a rear view camera, but I am sure one would get used to the length very quickly.

It is actually comprehensively equipped with for example hill start assist, stability control, aircon with pollen filter, halogen lights, bluetooth and radio.

Opel have hit the sweet spot with this van, getting the price point, size and capability just right.

The five-seater bus version known as the Life will be available in September.

Warranty is three years or 120 000km and a three year or 60 000km service plan is included.

The direct competition is probably the VW Caddy Maxi and the Nissan NV200. All the other vans are smaller or bigger and easily R100 000 more expensive.
The Opel Combo LWB is listed at R350 000. The little sister short wheel base is R315 000, but remember it only has one side door and can handle a payload of 650kg.

The official website is: https://www.opel.co.za/cars/combo-cargo/model-overview.html

Originally published in Autosold.

Mahindra XUV 300

Mahindra has been coming on in leaps and bounds. Together with Haval I would not be too surprised if they are big players in the SUV field in three years time.

South Africa is the first international market outside of India to launch the XUV300, a small SUV with a roomy interior for its market segment. Mahindra’s compact SUV is the KUV 100.

Mahindra XUV 300

“The XUV300 was launched in India in February 2019 and has already generated over 26 000 bookings in this hotly contested market, which is roughly equal to the total size of the compact SUV market in South Africa,” says Rajesh Gupta, CEO of Mahindra South Africa.
“South Africans love the combination of a high-driving position, bold styling and functionality that SUVs offer and the XUV300 offers this in a bold and dynamic package with a list of features and specifications that are not offered as standard on many vehicles in this segment.” says Mr Gupta.

There are two trim levels and two engine options.
The first is a new three-cylinder 1.2 litre turbo-petrol engine, which delivers 81 kW at 5 000 r/min and a healthy 200 Nm of torque between 2 000 r/min and 3 500 r/min.
The second engine option is a brand-new four-cylinder 1.5 litre turbo-diesel engine that delivers 85.8 kW at 3 750 r/min and 300 Nm in a flat band between 1 500 r/min and 2 500 r/min.
There is no automatic transmission, just a smooth very easy to use six-speed manual box.

XUV300 is available with two trim levels, the standard W6 and fancier W8.

The W6, or basic, trim level offers air conditioning, electric windows, power steering, black fabric trim, electrically adjustable side mirrors and central locking.

Mahindra XUV 300 interior

The W8 includes a second USB charging point, an additional information screen between the colour-customisable LED-lit instrument cluster and electric windows with express up- and down function with anti-pinch technology. There is a glass tilt-and-slide sunroof, also with anti-pinch technology, cruise control and an integrated voice command system with steering-mounted controls.
The infotainment system has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration on the W8 and has in-built turn-by-turn navigation with regional maps as standard across the range. The system also allows the driver to pre-set many of the vehicle functions, including the background display and, on the W8, the colour of the LED backlit instrument panel.
For the W8, Mahindra has replaced the fabric seats with its light leatherette upholstery which serves to give the impression of airiness and space.

Driving aids include a tyre pressure warning system, front and rear parking sensors, a reverse parking camera with parking assistance and automatic rain-sensing wipers.
There is a glass tilt-and-slide sunroof, also with anti-pinch technology, cruise control and an integrated voice command system with steering-mounted controls.
Space utilisation is very good with good headroom and fair legroom at the back. Seating is firm but good.

You may be asking yourself how it drives.
The XUV is a pleasure to drive. The diesel produces a not unpleasant throaty roar under acceleration but is quiet while cruising. There is more than enough power and torque on tap. I can describe the car as zippy in town and it has good acceleration for overtaking. Body roll is under control. Mahindra has ticked all the boxes, as fuel consumption is also good at around 6L/100km in general use and around 5L/100km on the open road.
The XUV300 is easy to park and even has a rear camera and park assist. There are three steering settings from light to normal to sport mode, which I preferred.

I found two little negatives. The boot is a bit on the small side and some of the fit and finish needs more attention, but there were no rattles or squeaks.

This car should be on your test list if you are looking for a compact SUV.

Competition in the compact SUV field is big. The best known are the Ford EcoSport, Suzuki Vitara, Mazda CX-3, Renault Duster and Captur, Toyota Rush, Nissan Juke, Honda BR-V and Peugeot 2008.

All XUV300s have a 5-year / 150 000 km warranty and a standard 5-year / 90 000 km service plan.

The range is as follws: W6 1.2Petrol: R 249 999, W6 1.5 Diesel: R 274 999, W8 1.2Petrol: R 304 999, W8 1.5 Diesel: R 324 999.

Mazda3 of 2019

The new Mazda3 is a thing of beauty.

Mazda3 2019

The 7th generation Mazda3 sets a new milestone as the first production model to lead Mazda into a bold new era. Blending beautiful design and exhilarating driving dynamics, Mazda3 was developed to inspire and create an emotional bond and deep engagement with its customers.

“The Mazda3 is a strategic model that has driven Mazda’s growth from both a brand and business perspective. The outgoing 6th generation Mazda3 has delivered Mazda’s renowned driving pleasure to over 12 000 Southern Africa customers. Our mission is to build on this legacy and deliver a product that will exceed both customer expectations and industry standard with the next–generation Mazda3. The next generation of Mazda cars will enhance the value of the car-ownership experience. Through these products, Mazda Southern Africa, together with our dealer partners, aim to further raise Mazda’s brand value and work towards our goal of building ever stronger bonds our customers.” Comments Craig Roberts, Managing Director – Mazda Southern Africa.

Mazda3 in polymetal grey

New Mazda3 interior

As soon as I get to drive this car you will get a report. Hopefully it will be quite soon.

#mazda #mazda3

Ford Raptor hatches

It’s fierce, it is fast and it is furious. It is also wider, rides higher and is brilliant in sand and on fast Kalahari tracks.

It is the new Ford Ranger Raptor. The ultimate big boy’s toy.

Ford Ranger Raptor

Although the new Raptor is based on the Ranger platform, it is a very different beast. The development team were given a blank cheque and told to make the fastest off-road bakkie, perhaps inspired by the very rapid US F-150 based Raptor.

Ranger Raptor suspension

They started with the chassis, which they widened by 150mm, strengthened and stiffened. An entirely new suspension was developed by Ford Australia which includes high performance Fox shocks Position Sensitive Damping, a Watts linkage at the back (from the Everset), forged aluminium upper control arms and cast aluminium lower control arms. This gives the Raptor 32% more travel at the front and 22% at the rear. An enhanced version of Ford Stability Control incorporating Roll Mitigation Function and Electronic Stability Control; Trailer Sway Control; Hill Start Assist; Hill Descent Control and Load Adaptive Control helps keep things under control.

“The standout experience of the Ranger Raptor, hands down, is how far you can push it off-road versus any other available standard production road vehicle, and still provide amazing ride comfort on-road,” says Damien Ross, chief program engineer, Ford Ranger Raptor. BF Goodrich developed new 285/70 R17 all-terrain tyres specially for the Raptor.

Top speed is governed at 178km/h due to the tyres. The Raptor cabin is exceptionally quiet when cruising on the highway.  This is due to a combination of good tyre design, noise cancelling technology and double glazing for the side windows.

The new suspension and tyres give the Raptor a ground clearance of 283mm and a wading depth of 870 mm.

Ford Ranger Raptor at full tilt

The 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo engine gets quite growly when pushed, but pleasantly so, producing a very useful 157kW and 500Nm and is mated to Ford’s advanced new 10-speed automatic transmission with magnesium paddle shifters. A unique transmission calibration also includes a Live In Drive (LID) function enabling prompt manual gear selection override.

During a drive from Upington to Goera Pan we got 9.7 L/100km at a steady 120 km/h but consumption  goes up to 16 odd at 160km/h. That is still not bad for a big bakkie.

This bakkie handles beautifully both on and off-road.  Three drive settings –  2H, 4H and 4L and six modes provide the magic. If you want to have fun you select Baja mode, which is one of the 6 modes of what Ford calls the Terrain Management System: normal, sport, sand, snow, mud and fun, er, Baja. Systems such as Traction Control are pared back to allow more spirited off-road driving, while gear selection is optimised for maximum performance, holding gears longer and downshifting more aggressively.

Driving on the Goera Pan on a specially laid out “rally” track with a variety of surfaces, bumps, dips, very soft sand, hard stoney packed stretches was an eye opener. Especially when Gareth Woolridge took the wheel of the Raptor.

The interior of the Raptor is about function. It is effectively a sports car. The blue stitching on the top of the dash and on the  really comfortable and supportive seats which are covered in technical suede add a light touch. The instrumentation is top notch, especially the “trip computer” which is actually a whole lot more. Ford’s Synch 3 infotainment system is good and easy to use and has Apple CarPlay or Android Auto . The navigation is by “Maps for Africa”  and comes with an update licence for 5 years.

There are extra ports at the back.

The Electronic Power Assist Steering (EPAS) is also linked to the TMS, providing varying levels of assistance and responsiveness according to the specific drive mode selected

The exterior is quite butch but bakkie like. Personally I think it fits the bill, especially in grey and white, although most of the media contingent like the blue version. Raptor looks the part, the big bruiser from the blue oval. Other bakkies just look peh in comparison.

The actual colours are: Ford Performance Blue, Colorado Red, Absolute Black, Frozen White and Conquer Grey, with contrasting Dyno Grey accents.

The Raptor is about going very fast over sandy or open terrain. It is a high performance vehicle. The looks, the interior, the finish, (good as they all are) are somewhat immaterial. It is the go that counts.

Raptor has all the safety systems and equipment of the normal Ranger.

The retail price of R786 400 is reasonable in the context of the delivery.

All Ford Rangers come standard with Ford Protect, comprising a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A six-year/90 000km service plan is included, with 15 000km service intervals.