Staying home – a home trip

Staying home

It’s quite still this morning, Friday 27 March, two weeks before the first Good Friday of the new decade. More like a Sunday than the Friday it is.

The news we are hearing is not so good. The first two people have died here in the Western Cape and over a thousand fellow Saffas have tested positive. And this is only the very beginning.

All my alarms are switched off. I have invited nature back into my life. No deadlines, just the rhythm of the day. Bliss.

You must see how many birds and bugs share our garden with the cats and us. I am imppressed.

It is interesting that our government chose to emphasise that one of the victims died while being treated in a private health facility. The “us vs them” mentality so ingrained in our society needs to be flushed out, and quickly. I think most do not realise they are boxing themselves in like that. Self limiting. We are all in this together, whether we like it or not.

My cats are loving it. You can’t here cars, only bird song and chatter. The guineas are roaming the lawn, some say destroying it with their incessant digging others enjoying the sheer freedom the fowls enjoy. Both cats are near me, Gemmer half awake, eyeing the birds casually. Pebbles at peace with the world, doing what cats do so well, fast asleep on the table. I am more aware of the bugs and the buzzing around me. Life goes on.

Several older people live in my complex. They are a bit sombre and have been a bit more serious about it all.

Generation C starts today. The post Covid-19 generation will inhabit a different world to the one we knew. If their brains and tissue cells aren’t fried by 5G they will be caught up in a world of machines dictating their lives, or will they rebel? Say enough is enough. No more. The future will tell.

The youngsters born in the teen years are an amazing generation, better prepared to face the challenges ahead than most before them, I think. So maybe we will have better days ahead. Even the boys can multi-task up to a point.

Twenty-one days to go.

I am quite fortunate in that I have things to do. Hopefully some freelance work, a proposal for a remote learning system to develop, immersion in photography, building puzzles, sorting out the garage, just looking at the butterflies and the bees, working on my cooking skills, or lack thereof. Practice a bit for retirement. No time to be bored.

What will the 21 days bring?

Audi A1 35 TFS1 review

The baby from Ingolstadt is quite a little charmer and feels sporty, smart and upmarket as befits any model sprouting the four rings of Audi.

The A1 just looks right, both on the outside and in the cosseting cabin. The styling is in my opinion spot on and the quality is, well, Audi. Its smart and feels premium. The new model builds and improves on the previous generation and won’t disappoint Audi fans.

Audi Ai 35 TFSi

The nose of the new models has been quite radically changed with a new bigger grille, model specific LED daytime running lights and other changes depending on the options selected. The car as a whole is quite a bit bigger than the original.

The performance and handling is sorted and feels sporty. It is clearly aimed for life in the city, although she will soak up the long road. If you are planning t overtake when the car is fully loaded it may be worth your while to select sport mode as the normal mode will be a little leisurely for some at the moment you floor the volume pedal.

The point is – this car is fun to drive anywhere, especially in Sport mode. Aficionados of the four rings brand will love the new baby from Ingolstadt.

 

The cabin of the A1 is top class and really well laid out. The dash is a little busy. but that is just quibbling. I don’t think you will have any complaints. The bright yellow trim may become a bit much but I kinda liked it. Gives the whole look a youthful zest. The Audi optional MMI display system is impressive and functional, if a little excessive.

The 1.5L turbo-petrol engine produces 110kW and a pretty good 250Nm through the tried and tested VW group 7-speed S tronic box to deliver a satisfying driving experience. I only managed to achieve 9L/100 km in town, but the long term average consumption of the car is 8L/100 km in mixed driving. With a heavy foot in Sport mode expect around 10L/ 100 km and if you really drive with economy in mind you may get 7L/ 100 km.

The car we drove has a total value of R602 500, which includes a long list of optional accessories to the value of R143 600. These include obvious extra accessories like a fancy Bang & Olufsen sound system at R9 500, special 18 inch alloy wheels at R15 600, MMI navigation plus limited Audi connect at R24 500, a black roof at R10 600 and park assist at R13 000.

Some not so obvious extras are the climate and cruise control at R10 300, powered external mirrors for R4 100, leatherette cover for handbrake lever an astounding R2 500, headliner in black at R3 000 and the leather steering wheel at R3 400.
The seats also cost more than standard and the virtual cockpit and smartphone interface is R9 900.

This means the bare car at R458 900 must be quite a plain bare bones affair. Do not judge the car by the pictures you see, especially the dash as it alone has been upgraded by about R45 000.

There are three models in the A1 Sportback range:
30 TFSi with a three cylinder 1L engine at R359 900 (same as standard T-Cross)
35 TFSi with four cylinder 1.4 engine at R458 900 (what we tested)
40 TFSi with four cylinder2.0L engine at R488 000 (driver’s delight)
These are quite basic cars at list prices so plan on adding R100 000 worth of equipment or finishes to the car of your choice as well as either the S-line pack or advanced spec level.

Alternatives include the Mazda3 Astina, Mini Cooper Hatch, as well as the BMW 118I, Honda Civic Hatch and VW Polo GTI with a bit of a stretch.

First published in AutoSold.

PEUGEOT LANDTREK entering the One ton Pick-up segment later this year

Peugeot is entering the One ton Pick-up segment with the Landtrack later this year, just as Mercedes Benz is exiting with tail between the legs. Hopefully the French learnt a thing or two.

Peugeot Landtrack

It is based on the fundamentals of the segment says Peugeot: 3.5 t towing capacity, versatility, different body shapes, real off-road and overtaking capabilities with unbeatable robustness and ease of repair.

They say sub-sahara Africa is one of the initial launch areas, but give no indication of pricing.

I think the engines are borderline powerful enough for our market.

Diesel : 1.9L displacement and 111kW thanks to a variable geometry 16-valve turbocharger. Its torque of 350 Nm and 6-speed Getrag manual gearbox . It has chain timing to optimise maintenance costs. Roller rocker arms reduce noise, have higher speeds and less friction for less wear. This engine has a combined fuel consumption of 7.8L/100km,
Petrol : turbocharged with 2.4L displacement and a comfortable power output of 156kW and 320 Nm of torque combined with a 6-speed Getrag manual gearbox or a 6-speed Punch automatic gearbox with sequential, Sport or Eco modes.

The vehicle has a length of 5.33m for the double cab version and 5.39m for the single cab versions, all with a width of 1.92m.

The size of the cargo box is a central design element of the architecture and makes it possible to load:

2 “Euro-pallets” in Double Cab versions (1.63m x 1.60m x 500mm body and 1.22m wheel width),
3 “Euro-pallets” in Single Cab versions (2.43m x 1.60m x 500mm tipper and 1.22m wheel width).

For 4×4 versions, the front transmission is engaged using a dedicated thumbwheel to transmit some of the power to the front axle. This allows the driver to choose between 2 modes:

  • 4H (4 High speed) : for standard 4×4 use,
  • 4L (4 Low speed) short gear mode : thanks to a 2.7 to 1 reduction gearbox, an increase in torque at reduced speeds for driving in low-adhesion terrain or on steep slopes.

Finally, the rear differential is equipped with the eLocker system with automatic disengagement and provides extra traction when one wheel spins.

According to archywordlys Peugeot Landtrek is also not a completely independent design. It is based on the modern Changan F70 pickup truck introduced last year (Changan and PSA have a joint venture in China). The development of machines under the Chinese and French brands went in parallel, but the PSA joined the project later.

VW Amarok Canyon the most fun Leisure Bakkie

VW Amarok Canyon

The VW Amarok 3.0TDI V6 4Motion Canyon is Leisure Wheels magazine’s Bakkie of the Year.

The German bakkie, up against nine other double cab bakkies for the crown, scored 90.5% ahead of Ford’s Ranger Raptor (86.3%) and Toyota’s Hilux 2.8GD-6 Legend 50 (85.4%). The new competition format revolves around Average Joe’s bakkie requirements, and not flippant matters such as 0–100km/h acceleration times.

Instead, the competition focused on real-world issues such as fuel consumption, load carrying ability, towing, safety, handling, 4×4 ability, interior, long-term ownership and, counting 20% of the overall score, a subjective driving test score, as adjudged by five industry experts and professional drivers.

The Leisure Wheels test lab.

The results are:
1) Volkswagen Amarok 3.0TDI 4Motion Canyon AT 90.5%
2) Ford Ranger Raptor 86.3%
3) Toyota Hilux 2.8GD-6 4×4 Legend 50 (manual) 85.4%
4) Ford Ranger 2.0 Bi-Turbo 4×4 Wildtrak AT 83.4%
5) Mercedes-Benz X350d 4Matic 81.6%
6) Isuzu D-Max 3.0DT 4×4 LX (manual) 78.9%
7) Nissan Navara 2.3D 4×4 Stealth AT 78.8%
8) Mitsubishi Triton 2.4Di-D 4×4 AT 75.9%
9) Mahindra Pik Up 2.2CRDe 4×4 Karoo 70.4%
10) Toyota Land Cruiser 79 Namib 64.2%

The Raptor is wide and has an almost mean stance.

“Our aim with this test was to focus on real-world factors that affect real bakkie owners, and to go the full nine yards establishing those results. For the fuel consumption test, conducted on Gerotek’s high speed oval, we devised a set route that included stop-and-pull-off simulations, full throttle overtaking simulations, as well as slow and high speed laps. We also added 190kg to the bak, so the results are what consumers can realistically expect to achieve, on a daily basis,” explains Leisure Wheels’ Danie Botha.

And what is it about the Amarok that set it apart from the rest of the pack? Is it really perfect in every which way?

“It’s certainly not perfect,” says Botha. “It didn’t score well in the 4×4 ability, long-term ownership and safety segments. But for the rest, it really is a solid, classy package. It seems VW’s engineers worked some kind of magic with the leaf-sprung rear suspension, offering an SUV-like ride on all surfaces. And that V6 engine… here’s a bakkie that will outrun many hot hatches between traffic lights, yet it can carry nearly a ton on the bak.”

The March issue, featuring the comprehensive Bakkie of the Year report, goes on sale on Monday, 17 February. More detailed results in the respective segments will be published on leisurewheels.co.za.

2019/20 #CarsAwards – powered by WesBank

Category winners: 2019/20 #CarsAwards – powered by WesBank

Adventure SUV: Toyota Fortuner 2.8 GD-6 4×4 Auto

Budget Car: Suzuki        Swift 1.2 GLX

Business Class:               Volkswagen Arteon 2.0TSI 4Motion R-Line

Compact Family Car:      Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 TSI Highline R-Line

Compact Hatch:              Volkswagen Polo 1.0TSI Comfortline Auto

Crossover:                       Audi Q3 35 TFSI S Line

Executive SUV:                BMW X3 xDrive20d M Sport

Family Car:                      Mazda CX-5 2.0 Dynamic Auto

Fun Hatch:                     Volkswagen Polo GTI

Leisure Double-Cab:      Volkswagen Amarok 3.0 V6 TDI Highline 4Motion

Performance Car:           Toyota GR Supra 3.0T

Premium Hatch:             Volkswagen Golf GTI

Premium SUV:               BMW X5 xDrive30d M-Sport

Volkswagen Amarok and Toyota Fortuner have now won the categories Leisure Double-Cab and Adventure SUV ­respectively – for three consecutive years. Suzuki won the Budget Car category with a Swift  for four years in a row.

In no fewer than five of the 13 categories the judges’ favourites did not win, due to the impact of data from the Cars.co.za Ownership Satisfaction Survey. Fifty per cent of the final scores of the #CarsAwards category finalists was determined by the rankings the vehicles’ respective brands achieved in the Cars.co.za Ownership Satisfaction Survey

The Toyota Fortuner (Adventure SUV), Volkswagen Amarok, Arteon and T-Cross (Leisure Double-Cab, Business Class and Compact Family Car) and BMW X3 (Executive SUV) did not score the highest marks from the panel of judges following evaluation, yet emerged victorious because consumers rated their brands’ experiences higher than those of their competitors.

Volkswagen – the only brand to have won at least one #CarsAwards category every year since the programme began in 2015/16 – walked away with the most prestigious accolade. Having won six of the 13 #CarsAwards categories in 2019/20, Volkswagen is comfortably the most prolific category winner (with 16 trophies) in the history of the #CarsAwards programme.

#CarsAwards was conceived to be South Africa’s definitive automotive awards programme; the list of vehicles it recognises is meant to guide car buyers to make the best-informed purchasing decisions… Cars are judged directly against their peers in specific categories, each of which has distinct requirements. What’s more, 50% of the final scores is based on brand-specific after-sales data that incorporate customer feedback from thousands of South African vehicle owners.

VW T-Cross 1.0 R-Line review

Very soon Volkswagen will offer a full range of SUVs, some will be soft roaders, others like the Tiguan, more capable off the beaten track.
Although the T-Cross is built in Spain, it is interesting that VWSA built 161 954 vehicles in 2019, which is the highest production volume the Uitenhage plant has achieved since it began manufacturing Volkswagen vehicles in 1951.

Of the 161 954 vehicles, 108 422 were manufactured for export and 53 532 were produced for the local market. The production volume consists of 131 365 Polos and 30 589 Polo Vivos.

The T-Cross is the entry level crossover in VWs SUV range. It is not really that capable offroad but on gravel, on the highway and especially in town it does a really good job. It does have a slightly higher road height at 180 mm but for now at least only front wheel drive and at the moment only the little 3 pot 999cc turbo-petrol mill doing duty with one performance level available for now, 85 kW with 200 Nm, more than capable for around town. A detuned 70kW version of this motor and a 1.5 TSI engine with 110kW are on the way. You can order one already.

 

VW T-Cross at Moulie Point

Things to like

  • Looks – she is certainly a looker
  • Size  especially rear leg room
  • Ride is good, but I would prefer 16″ wheels and higher 60 profile tyres
  • Good visibility even for a short driver
  • The cockpit layout in the R-Line is very pleasant and functional. The VW multi-function steering wheel is a joy to use.

 

Little niggles

  • Start button behind gear lever on left
  • Hard plastics
  • Small boot
  • No climate control only air-conditioner, only mentioning it because it is an expensive little car
  • With my driving style I found the car had an irritating pause before the power came on. Its as if it misses a beat.

The optional ‘Energetic Orange’ design package makes the T-Cross truly eye-catching for the very young at heart:

VW T-Cross

• Seat covers in ‘Diag’ design with seat centre and inner sections in Orange and Ceramique
• Décor in ‘Transition’ 3D design in Energetic Orange and Grey
• Design element in steering wheel in Energetic Orange
• Exterior mirror housings in Energetic Orange
• Black 18 inch ‘Cologne’ wheels with Hot Orange finish for T-Cross Highline

Pricing

Note the review car has a few optional extras:

  • KESSY Keyless entry
  • beats® Sound System
  • Park Package (Park Assist, Rear View Camera and Power-fold Mirrors)
  • Infotainment Package (Discover Media: 3D Map, App-Connect, Voice Control, Inductive Charging and Active Info Display)
  • LED Headlights and Rear View Camera
  • R-Line Exterior with 17-inch Manila alloy wheels

The Comfortline we drove costs R334 600 without the optional extras. The extras fitted to our test car cost R70 050, bringing the total cost to R415 035 including VAT.

The 1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSG® costs R365 000 and the 1.5 TSI 110kW R-Line DSG®  is priced at R403 500.

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

Competition

Renault Duster 1.5dCi TechRoad auto R332 900 ¬- Best buy
• Ford EcoSport 1.0T Titanium auto R357 300
Haval H2 1.5T Luxury auto R329 900 – Good option, facelift just launched
• Mahindra XUV 300 1.5 TD R324 999
Suzuki Vitara 1.4T GLX auto R399 900 – Solid alternative
• Kia Seltos 1.6 EX auto R371 999
• Hyundai Creta 1.6 Exec LE auto R397 900

The warranty for the T-Cross is still only 3 years or 120 000 km.
The small SUV/ crossover market segment is wide open. Take your time and go and test drive a number of cars before deciding, especially the three cars which have been highlighted.

 

 

Citroën is back in 2020

Just when you thought the car market was settling down to enjoy burning fossil fuels for the last lap before the new technology takes over a beloved old marque returns to our shores for a third time. The Citroën brand has officially re-launched in South Africa after exiting the country at the end of 2016. This may have something to do with the new assembly plant in Namibia or with Brexit, or both. Time will tell.

This time as part of the PSA group and as a sister brand to Peugeot and as such will be serviced at any Peugeot Accredited Dealership nationwide.

Style and space seem to be the cornerstones of the new range. The cars certainly look a little different.
The range initially includes three model lines: the C3 hatchback, C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross.

For peace of mind a five-year/100 000 km service plan is included across the range, along with a warranty of the same length. Citroën will share dealership space with its sister brand, Peugeot.

Copyright William CROZES @ Continental Productions

C3 hatchback

“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 is built on the PSA Group A platform and includes a lot of tech like advanced driver assistance systems for lane departure alert and driver attention alert as well as a coffee break alert.

Mirror screen technology duplicates the driver’s smartphone screen directly on the vehicle’s central screen, whether Android or Apple.

The C3 line-up has a pair of 1,2-litre three-cylinder petrol engines, the first offering a naturally aspirated flavoured 60 kW and118 Nm linked to a five-speed manual gearbox and the other a turbocharged engine with 81 kW and 205 Nm mated with a six-speed automatic box.

The manual comes in Feel specification for R239 900, while the automatic is offered in Shine trim (for R289 900). Three body colours will be available – White, Platinum Grey and Sand – each in combination with a red roof.

C3 Aircross

The C3 Aircross, also comes in a choice of three colours: Platinum Grey, Soft Sand and Natural White, complete with “Spicy Orange” trim. There are two variants: Feel and Shine, both using the turbocharged 81 kW version of the 1,2-litre petrol engine linked to a six-speed auto box as standard.

Citroën’s Advanced Comfort® programme for enhanced spaciousness, modular design and brightness is a key element of the Aircross.

The C3 Aircross will cost you R339 900 in Feel trim and R359 900 in Shine.

C5 Aircross

The C5 Aircross SUV is Citroën’s new flagship and a key lever for the international growth of the brand,” says Linda Jackson, Citroën CEO.

The C5 Aircross, which comes in two forms and in three colours, Arctic Steel, Pearlescent White or Platinum Grey). The base model Feel costs R469 900 while the flagship Shine costs R509 900. Both employ the PSA 1,6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine delivering 121 kW and 240 Nm via a six-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels.

Citroën claims the new C5 Aircross SUV is the most comfortable model in its segment, thanks to the Citroën Advanced Comfort® programme, Progressive Hydraulic Cushions® suspension and Advanced Comfort seats. Hydraulic buffers at either end of the suspension setup have all but eliminated bounce from the car’s drive, they say. This could be quite a big deal.

Aircross is highly modular with three individual sliding, folding and reclining rear seats, and best-in-class boot space. With the seats folded down there is 1 630 L, up from the 520 litres of space with seats and as far back as possible. Citroen says it has aimed for maximum practicality, building in cubby holes and stowage spaces all around the cabin.
There’s space inside for five adults.

The Citroën brand has always stood for technical and design innovation and quirky looks. It is the brand for someone who wants something a little different, a little chic.
Vive le difference!