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.

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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.

VW Caddy Maxi Trendline 2.0 TDI DSG review (Republished)

Caddy Maxi Trendline 2.0 TDI DSG (Previously published)

VW dominates the small van and minibus market in SA. Just look around and see how many couriers and locksmiths and so on drive them.

VW Caddy Maxi 2.0 TDI DSG

VW Caddy Maxi 2.0 TDI DSG

The Caddy (micro) bus gets that balance between workhorse and leisure vehicle just about right.

VW Caddy Maxi

VW Caddy Maxi

I found it a very comfortable, easy to drive, powerful, multi purpose MPV. Although based on the commercial van it is very car like and even mildly luxurious in its fit and finish. You don’t feel as if you are in a bus. It handles well even in high wind and rainy conditions.

Noise levels are also well controlled.

Interior equipment is typical VW as is the look and feel, if slightly old school compared to their latest cars, but nothing to bother you.

If you have a big family or have to move a team the Caddy could be very handy especially this slightly bigger Maxi version.

The manufacturer says you can get to 186km/h and 100km/h in 10.9 seconds. I can tell you that this 103kW diesel performs very well and makes driving effortless, especially with the 6-speed DSG box.

VW claims 6.3 litres/ 100km, but I could only manage 6.8L/100km, which is still excellent and gives a range of around 900km+ on a 55 litre tank in highway conditions (or 6L/100km, or better).

VW_Caddy_open

Options fitted to our test car include Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, Multifuction steering wheel, park distance control with rear camera, comfort package, Fortaleza alloy wheels and towbar.

Price as standard: R431 600. The panel van starts at R315 000.

We tested the Maxi version. There is also the smaller standard Caddy which is R50 000 cheaper, but the space and ride quality of the Maxi gets my vote.

Its nearest competition is the much cheaper Ford Tourneo Connect or Nissan NV200 , its sibling the VW Touran and maybe the slightly smaller Suzuki Ertiga.

It comes with a 3 year or 120 000km warranty and 3 year 60 000km service plan.

VW_Caddy_Maxi_CapePoint

Peugeot 3008 GT-line reviewed

Peugeot 3008 GT-line THP 1.6 Auto

Peugeot 3008 GT-line THP 1.6 Auto

Comfortable. Capable. Chic.

That about sums up the Peugeot 3008 GT-line, except perhaps one should mention it is absolutely loaded with a full-house of tech and it offers good space for a family of four and fuel consumption figures are pretty good. The 3008 must be close to a perfect family car.

All the new Peugeots are good looking cars and the 3008, especially the GT-line is no exception. The flowing lines and proportions are pleasing to the eye. The interior is also successful but different. Inside and out the styling is top drawer, functional, efficient and easy on the eye.

I particularly like the small steering wheel, the beautifully stitched seats, the double row of control buttons (which means the i-cockpit touch screen need not be used all the time) and the general ambience of the cabin.
The interior is very close to being class leading, especially at the front. Brilliant use of space and ergonomic design means that the impression is one of space and comfort.

The i-cockpit infotech system is very up-to-date offering a full digital display which is highly personalisable and offers a user-friendly digital dashboard.

This segment of the car market is a little difficult to pin down as its edges are very blurred. These cars are something between a crossover, sports utility vehicle, softroader and a truncated station wagon. Or even an expanded hatch! Take your pick. Let us call the 3008 a crossover.

On the softroader side the competition includes the Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson and Nissan Qashqai. Other crossover/ SUV type vehicles include the Audi Q3, Mazda CX5, VW Tiguan, Haval H6 C, Honda CR-V and Ford Kuga. I am not to sure what to call the BMW X1, a jaded motoring scribe said the first generation was a mistake. But, let’s step on.

Most of these cars are really on-road cars, as is the 3008.

Peugeot 3008 GT-line THP 1.6 Auto

The 1.6 turbo-petrol engine, coupled to the six-speed auto box, is just right for this car giving the right balance between performance and consumption. Peugeot claim 7 L/100km average consumption and a top speed of 201km/h. I don’t know about the top speed but I can say acceleration feels almost nippy and cruising at the legal limit feels effortless. I got a credible 8.4 L/100km. This refined engine is the gem of the PSA stable and is also used in the 308.

With this car Peugeot appear to have taken a giant leap in quality control and engineering. It always feels poised and willing.

As is to be expected the 3008 has a full suite of active and passive safety features.

The 3008 GT-line costs R519 000 which includes a very full specification advanced tech suite and the usual three year or 100 000 km warranty with a 4 year or 60 000 service plan.

Nissan Navara 4×2 review

Nissan Navarra 2.3D LE 4X2 AT DC

After building bakkies for 77 years for its own brand, among them the evergreen NP300 Hardbody and the 1400 of my youth; and now building bakkies for Renault and Mercedes as well you would be forgiven for thinking they know how to build the things. Judging by the Navara, they do know.

The Navara is very close to the complete bakkie. Space, performance, poise, great fuel consumption, comfort and very capable, this Nissan does it all.

Nissan Navara LE 4×2 Auto

The specification level on this bakkie is very high. From things you expect like fog lights to some more exotic items like heated door mirrors. It is a match for any SUV when it comes to equipment.
Leather seats, power steering, climate control, infotainment centre, it has all the stuff you may want. A nice touch is a hollow in the dash with a power point, ideal for any powered electronic equipment from GPS to dashcam.

This Navara has no less than 37 safety and security items from ABS to VDC (vehicle dynamic control) check them out on the website for yourself at https://www.nissan.co.za/vehicles/new/New-Navara/Specifications.html#grade-D23-3|equipment.

I particularly love the rear camera with sensors and the 360° camera system which displays a rear image and an overhead image in the rear mirror. It makes this rather large and very long bakkie much more manoeuvrable and somehow smaller.

The cabin has been well designed and appears to be well screwed together. The driver’s seat is electrically adjustable and very comfortable. Rear legroom is good. There are a number of storage bins and places to keep things.

The highly capable 2.3 L twin-turbo common rail direct injection diesel engine pushes out a very respectable 140kW and 450Nm. Coupled with the smooth optional 7-speed automatic transmission as was the case in the bakkie we tested, it is a joy to drive and much more like a car than a truck, but you can still tow a 3,5 ton braked trailer and you have 229mm ground clearance.

The heavy duty 5-link coil rear spring suspension probably helps to make it act more like an SUV as well.
Nissan claim a combined average fuel consumption of 7 L/100 km, and the bakkie I drove indicated a lifetime economy of just that, but I drove mostly in town and averaged around 11 L/100 km. Still good for a vehicle this size.

At the back the Utili-track tie down system in the 1,5 m loadbay is a boon. The 1,36 m wide tailgate can be opened with one hand and appears to be very sturdy.
We previously tested the 4×4 and found it to be capable off-road. We can say that this 4×2 is really capable on road. Not having to lug the extra 4×4 kit wherever you go means all round performance is better and fuel economy even more so.

Nissan Navara LE 4×2

The Navara competes directly with the Mercedes X class, Volkswage Amarok, Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux. The Isuzu D-max is more truck-like and the Mitsubishi Triton slightly smaller and more wieldy. Don’t forget the super tough Mahindra and the capable and extremely good value for money GWM Steed 5 and slightly bigger Steed 6.

Prices start at R484 900 for the SE Manual, we tested the 4×2 LE Auto at R575 500.
Three years or 90 000 km is the warranty you get.

Ford EcoSport revisited

When most people think of a compact sports utility vehicle, the EcoSport will come to mind. It was one of the original compact SUV’s.
With the facelifted EcoSport, Ford has wisely not messed with a winning formula. They updated the electronic systems and refreshed the interior. The rest they left mostly as is.

Ford EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium

“Ford has sold more than 45 000 EcoSport units in South Africa since it was launched in 2013, and it has been a major player in its segment ever since thanks to its great looks, impressive space and versatility, superb all-round performance and exceptional value for money,” says Tracey Delate, General Manager, Marketing at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. He has a point.

What else is there?

For a few rand more the super competent Mazda CX3 is a really good smaller SUV. I am a big fan of the rugged and practical Renault Duster and the quirky Jeep Renegade. Opel offers the Mokka, Honda the interesting BR-V and Toyota the Rush. Peugeot’s 2008 is a different almost left-of-field option.
Newcomers include the Hyundai Kona and Creta, Haval H2 and soon to be launched VW T-Cross.

Whats new?

Ecosport now gets floating central touchscreens up to 8-inches based on Ford’s brilliant SYNC®3 system, which provides connectivity with Navigation, Cruise Control with Adjustable Speed Limiter.
Electronic Stability Control, a minimum of six airbags and rear parking sensors are all standard across the range.

Ford Ecosport

The interior is now more up-market and user-centric, but will still be familiar. I particularly like the 12v power point at the back, the two USB ports in front and the blue lighting at the base of the central cup holders.
The new seat designs are more comfortable (and supportive) for both front and rear occupants and the front seats nogal get warmers.

New alloy wheels complement the rugged, sporty character, and are offered in Gunmetal grey five-spoke 16-inch versions on the Trend series, or striking 17-inch rims on the Titanium. I prefer the former with slightly fatter 55 ratio tyres.

The adjustable boot floor has a new height adjustable floor that can be raised to provide concealed storage, or lowered to increase luggage capacity to 334 litres. It is a kind of shelf.

Driving safety has been stepped up with standard fitment of Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Traction Control (TC), as well as Roll Stability Control (RSC) in the EcoBoost range, that adjusts engine torque and braking to help drivers maintain control. Additionally, the 1.0 EcoBoost-powered models gain Hill Launch Assist (HLA) that makes pulling off on steep inclines easier, along with Ford’s Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).

 

Trend and Titanium versions offer either six-speed manual gearbox or the latest-generation six-speed automatic box. The fuel consumption during the time I drove a Titanium automatic model was just over 8 L/100km. With a light touch, under 8 L/100km should be easily achievable and nearer 5 on the open road.
The car never feels under powered or unstable. It is really user friendly.

Prices start at R 264 500 for the base 1.5 TDCi Ambiente manual diesel model. The 1.0 EcoBoost Trend six-speed manual is priced at R 287 500 and the automatic at R300 700. The Titanium automatic at R339 800 is R12 000 more than the manual. The later all turbo-petrol engines.

Ford Protect is a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A four-year/60 000km service plan is included.

Haval H9 reviewed

Be prepared to be surprised with the new big SUV from Haval.

Haval H9 2.0 Petrol 4WD Luxury

The H9 2.0 Petrol 4WD Luxury from Haval breaks new ground in our market. It is an apparently tough offroad capable, luxury seven-seater, real SUV with all the bells and whistles you could wish for. Let’s say it immediately. The H9 is by far the best Chinese vehicle I have ever driven. If it had a Toyota or Hyundai badge it would already be selling hundreds of units a month possibly. It really is that good. Watch this space.

I predict that in five years Haval will have the brand recognition and cachet which Hyundai so richly deserves and enjoys now. Already the H9 outperforms the Sant Fe in some areas, bearing in mind that the new big one from Hyundai has moved upmarket and grown a bit in size.

Competition for the Haval H9 is divided into two camps. Those with real 4×4 capability and softroaders.

Haval H9

The real offroaders include the Suzuki Grand Vitara, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota Prado and Fortuner, Ford Everest, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Isuzu mu-X.

Softroaders will include the Kia Sorento, Toyota Rav4, Discovery Sport, Nissan X-trail, VW Tiguan Allspace, Peugeot 3008 and Volvo XC60 AWD.

Looking at the list you can see that the competition is stiff in this segment, so value-for-money will be key.

Viewed from a little distance the H9 looks a bit like a cross between a Land Cruiser and a Patrol, so it looks the part, but it is technically more like a Fortuner. It is a big car but not out of proportion, more fit for purpose.

Haval H9 2.0 Petrol 4WD Luxury interior

Inside the Haval is impressive. The leather front seats offer both heating and cooling and are electrically adjustable, the driver’s eight ways. It is easy to set up a really comfortable driving position. The dash is well equipped and laid out, with an eight-inch touchscreen with satnav, personalisable LCD instrument cluster, three-way climate control and a good sound system. The drive mode controls are on the tunnel between the seats. It has a long list of standard features in both the luxury as well as safety departments. All-in-all an impressive cabin with high perceived quality levels.

You may wonder, can a Chinese brand deliver high quality? Well, Haval is part of GWM which sells a million vehicles a year and their Steed bakkies have been holding up well locally without many complaints from owners. They have around 35 dealers in place already and the list is growing rapidly. In the Cape they have dealers in Malmesbury, Claremont, Goodwood and Cape Gate.

The H9 only comes with a 2.0 L direct-injection turbo-petrol engine delivering 180kW and 350Nm through an eight-speed ZF gearbox and a 4×4 system with eight modes. Borgwarner provides the transfer case, Eaton the limited-slip differential and Bosch the electronic stability control system. Pretty big names backing the off-road performance. It is a pity they do not offer a turbo-diesel variant.

Haval H9

Expect fuel consumption of just under 12 L/100km unless you are off-road when all bets are off. The car is relaxing to drive due partly to the good driving position but also the good marriage between the drivetrain and engine. The H9 will make a Grand Tourer, especially if you are going to the game parks and wilder areas. On highway she just steams along happily at the legal limit.

Safety is taken care of by a full complement of active and passive safety systems.

If value-for-money is important to you, the H9 should be on your shopping list if you require real off-road capability.

For peace of mind the H9 comes with a five year or 100 000 warranty. The five-year or 60 000 service plan and a long and complete list of features is included in the R599 900 list price.

Originally published in AutoSold.