Opel Grandland Reviewed

Opel Grandland

When I went to pick up the new Opel Grandland at Westvaal Motors in Victoria Street, Somerset West to test for this review I was given the whole delivery treatment. Car wrapped in royal blue cloth with a big bow and a sign telling me it was my car, even if only for a few days. I was beaming, almost purring with pleasure. I was then given the whole new car owner’s briefing.

The briefing by Eloise Klop was good but the controls and layout of this new generation Opel are so practical and ergonomic that driving it comes naturally.

The Grandland is a very important model for Opel as the brand re-establishes itself in South Africa. Already a 35-strong dealership network has been established and market share is climbing. Watch this space.
It is on the one hand the biggest car from the brand in the local market and it’s flagship, but it is also the first example of the new cooperative designs from the combined PSA (Peugeot) and Opel stable. So it has big shoes to fill.

Well equipped and positioned, the new Grandland X comes to market in as the third member of the Opel X SUV family. It joins its Opel Crossland X and Opel Mokka X counterparts.

Top technologies, comfort and flexibility in the high-quality interior wrapped in a sporty and cool off-road look – this is the new Opel Grandland X, Opel says. That it is the feeling one does get. Its sister in the Peugeot stable with which it shares a platform, the 3008, was car of the year in Europe last year. Enough said.

I have a feeling this medium sized SUV is going to do well for Opel. The 1.6 turbo-petrol engine delivers good power and torque and with the 6-speed automatic gearbox gives an assured driving experience and good economy. It is really nippy around town and feels smaller than it is to drive. Speaking of size. The car feels spacious inside. Loads of room for a family and all their stuff.

Visibility is good all round and is helped by 360° proximity sensors. A really good driving position can be achieved by adjusting the highly adjustable steering wheel and seat.
I liked the leather and cloth combination seats – perfect for African conditions.

The layout of the interior is very practical too. There is a power point in the boot, a hatch to fit long items through the back seat, cup holders conveniently placed and ambient lighting for a relaxing cabin at night, among other items.

The test car was the Enjoy 1.6T A/T, which is the middle of the range model. It isn’t cheap, but it comes very well equipped. I think this is the best value option of the range. Enough toys but not a whole lot of rarely used expensive extras.
In short, a great family car and good value.

A number of new features and technologies are included in this new SUV. These include heated and ventilated ergonomic AGR front seats(certified by the AGR – Campaign for Healthier Backs) give support on long trips, adaptive headlights, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible Radio R 4.0 IntelliLink, FlexFold seats disappear with a one hand movement, hands-free autonomous parking and 360° monitoring.

The range at the moment is as follows: 1.6T A/T at R429 000, 1.6T Enjoy A/T is R465 000 and the really well equipped flagship is the 1.6T Cosmo A/T at R565 000.

The warranty is a confidence inspiring 5-years or 120 000 km and the service plan is 5-years or 90 000 km.
Also look at the Peugeot 3008, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga, Honda CR-V and Audi Q3.

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Nissan X-trail 1.6 dci Tekna 4WD review

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

Nissan X-trail in Onrus

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

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

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

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

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

Nissan X-trail

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

Even cats like the new X-trail

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

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

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

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

Suzuki Ignis

Suzuki Ignis
Suzuki says the Ignis is “a small crossover with the big heart brings a breath of fresh air and innovation to the local small car market by linking the wieldy agility of a city runabout to the robust styling and stance of an all-terrainer.” It is a sort of small cheeky cross-over compact hatchback.

It is also safer than most of its competition, thanks to among others ABS and air bags.

Suzuki Ignis on Strand Beach.

Offered in GL and GLX versions, the Ignis features a spacious and well-equipped interior. Despite its compact exterior size, there is good legroom and headroom, while the boot offers 260 litres of cargo space, expandable to 469 litres with the rear seatback folded flat.
Standard items across all models include electric windows, remote central locking, air-conditioning, electric power steering, and an MP3-compatible CD sound system with USB port and 12V accessory power socket.
The bigger than you think interior is a funky modern space, with a two-tone black and white treatment creating a fresh ambience. The body colour is repeated in the door handles and the central tunnel.
Most functional items are standard with the options being mainly for style and individualisation. It also has more usable space than the competition.

Safety is a big plus with the Ignis, which has air bags, ABS and EBD brakes and proper safety elements like Total Effective Control Technology (TECT), which includes crumple zones that efficiently absorb the impact of a collision, a chassis that efficiently distributes the impact energy, and a rigid passenger safety cell.


With 180mm ground clearance and a power-to-weight ratio of 71,65 kW/ton you can go places slightly off the tar road. I found the car fun to drive although the clutch is a bit soft and there is no self-centring for the steering. Even so, I liked it.

Suzuki claims consumption of 4.9L/100km with the sporty 1.2 litre 4 cyl motor which has a, to me, delightful growl and it is very frugal.
The Suzuki Ignis 1.2 GLX costs R189 900

This is one of the best little cars available locally. And its cheap as chips for what you are getting. I highly recommend it.

Warranty of 3 years or 100 000km and a 30 000km service plan.
The competition includes the Mazda2, Ford Figo, VW up!, Smart ForFour, Kia Picanto and Honda Brio.

Haval H6 Coupe review

The Haval H6 C ( the C stands for Coupe) fits into the medium-SUV (family car) category, which together with the small-SUV category are the fastest growing segments in the market. Its direct competition in size and space are Mazda CX-5, Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage or Hyundai Tucson and Toyota Rav 4. Its price competitors are the smaller Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, Ford Ecosport, Suzuki Vitara and Mazda CX-3 to mention a few.

Haval H6 C

The H6 C has a little ace up its sleeve. Pierre Leclercq, the designer of the original BMW X5, penned the H6 C, which does not look derivative, but has proportions and a silhouette that appear sophisticated. You could say a bit of Audi up front, Evoque at the back and Ford Kuga in the middle. The car looks good and is well designed.

Haval H6 C interior

Inside the car looks quietly upmarket and smart in a subdued way and appears well screwed together, with the impression of quality and sophistication, both in the materials used and the way it has been put together.
The rear legroom is generous, the split seatback folds flat easily and the back seat has more space than its rivals with comfortable reclining seats, ISOFIX anchors, rear aircon vents, reading lights, and nice materials in the door trims.
Standard features across the range include dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers. The mid- and top-spec models also each boast an eight-way, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, while the flagship Luxury derivative adds a panoramic sunroof and Xenon headlamps.
On the transmission tunnel it has an Audi-style toggle, gear-lever and buttons, in the dash a large touchscreen (although the infotainment system is a little under-whelming), a lovely leather steering wheel and well-bolstered seats together with loads of cup and bottle holders and places to keep things complete the very pleasant cabin. I think the sun screen in the roof may not quite be up to our summer sun.

Haval has worked hard with the H6C to improve comfort and NVH levels adding to the impression of quality. One thing bothers me. When the doors are open the grab-handle is too far away and you have to really stretch to reach out and close the door. This is something you will get used to.
The steering is not too light, so the car feels planted, but as caradvice.com says of the steering: “odd electro-assisted steering, which feels artificial and overly resistant on centre for our tastes.” I could not agree more.
The H6 just soaks up bumps and road irregularities as a result of the damper force and spring rates being just right, making the car ride well. The model we tested rides on 19 inch alloys wearing Cooper tire 225/55 radials, but base models have 17 inch wheels shod with 225/65 tyres. The spare is a spacesaver. Interestingly the H6 comes with a fire extinguisher in the boot.


A five-star C NCAP rating gives peace of mind. The top spec models get 6 airbags but all the models get ABS, EBD and so on.
The 2.0 litre turbo-petrol engine develops 140kW of power and a healthy 310Nm of torque giving it a claimed fuel consumption of 9.8 L/100 km but expect to average around 12 L/100 km in real driving conditions, so it is quite thirsty.
The six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox from Getrag is nicely matched to the engine, or you can opt for a six-speed manual gearbox. For now only the front wheel drive versions are available here.
I found the all-round performance to be good. This Haval is well engineered.

Haval H6 C side

Standard features across the range include dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers. The mid- and top-spec models also each boast an eight-way, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, while the flagship Luxury derivative adds a panoramic sunroof and Xenon headlamps.
The H6 C is available in three trim levels: City, Premium, and Luxury.
You will struggle to find a better-specced SUV than this in this price range, or even for R100k more.
The H6 C is a good car, well equipped and well priced. It appears to be well built too.
The prices are as follows:
2.0T MT City 4X2 – R329 900, 2.0T MT Premium 4X2 – R339 900, 2.0T MT Luxury 4X2 – R359 900, 2.0T DCT City 4X2 – R359 900, 2.0 DCT Premium 4×2 – R369 900
All H6 C’s have a very good five-year/100 000km warranty and a five-year/60 000km service plan.

Opel MOKKA X 1.4T Cosmo 6AT

Opel MOKKA X 1.4T Cosmo 6AT

Opel Mokka X 1.4

Opel Mokka X 1.4

I drove the previous model of the Mokka around the test track at Gerotek and almost kept up with a gaggle of Opel Adam Sports. My nerve gave in on the third corner as it felt I was going to roll it. Actually it had very good stability control. This new Mokka X is very good on the road, I think. It is an upgrade on the previous model, especially the interior, media centre and the headlights.

The mechanicals remain unchanged from the original Mokka  and along with the four model lineup of Enjoy and Cosmo trim choices in either manual or automatic. Powering all four MOKKA X derivatives is Opel’s proven 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged ECOTEC petrol engine, which produces 103 kW between 4 900 and 6 000 rpm and 200 Nm between 1 850 and 4 900 rpm.

Although not really an Opel fan, I have to say this Opel is pretty good. Just sitting on the very comfortable, highly adjustable seat, looking at the dash and interior you can see just how far Opel have come. You feel it too. Top class materials and finishes.

Opel Mokka X dashboard

Speaking at the launch of the new Opel MOKKA X, Ian Nicholls said “Opel is on its way to achieving its vision of becoming the second largest passenger car brand in Europe by 2022. Part of this success is a renewed focus on bringing competitive new products to market, in fact the MOKKA X is the 13th new or refreshed Opel to be launched in South Africa since 2012.”

Aimed at drivers who are looking for a vehicle that is safe, family oriented and powerful, the MOKKA X merges functionality, connectivity, technology and safety in a vehicle which is just 4.28-metres from bumper to bumper.

Consumption, back home with the X 1.4 driving my usual routes, I got was 8.1L/100. You could possibly improve on this as Opel claim 6.5 L/100km or less, depending on model.

I have to say this crossover has brilliant brakes and nippy performance. It is not only a looker, considering the genre, but a little performer.

The interior is very good and feels quite upmarket. It has one of the best media centre/ touchscreen centres I have used.

Opel Mokka X 1.4

It is a snazzy little crossover which feels well put together.

All new Opel MOKKA X derivatives are backed by Opel Complete Care with a comprehensive 5-year/ 120 000 km warranty and come with a 5-year/ 90 000 km service plan linked to service intervals of 15 000 km.

Prices look like this:  Latest click here.

New Opel Mokka X Retail price incl. VAT
MOKKA X 1.4T Enjoy 6MT R 317, 500.00
MOKKA X 1.4T Enjoy 6AT R 328, 400.00
MOKKA X 1.4T Cosmo 6MT R 357, 400.00
MOKKA X 1.4T Cosmo 6AT R 368, 100.00

Mazda CX-3 2.0L Dynamic automatic review

Mazda CX-3 2.0L Dynamic automatic

Mazda is back in SA in a big way, with overall sales increasing by over 60% year-on-year. Already their compact SUV, the MX-5, is a best seller and now its smaller sister the CX-3 joins the fray. Expect to see a lot of CX-3s on our roads too.

Mazda CX-3

Mazda CX-3

It looks different to its direct competition, the result of what Mazda called ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’. It is more crossover than SUV.

A highlight is the really very good body supporting, comfortable front seats. The best on a car I have tested the last year, at any price.

The interior is well thought out and has all the things you would want, especially the top two trim levels. The command controls for the audio and information system work well and are easy and quick to grasp. With just the right amount of soft and bright trim to make it pleasant and plenty of storage the cabin matches the promise of the outside. Two prams in the boot if you squeeze a bit.

The CX-3 crossover comes in three trim levels, manual or auto and with the excellent Mazda 2.0 skyactive petrol engine.

This gem of a crossover has sport mode which spices things up immediately. A 2,0 litre four cylinder engine has rarely sounded better. And it goes, due to its 115kW and 204Nm of torque; using as little as 6.5 litres of fuel every 100km. I got 6.9 Litres/100km on my usual route, which is very good. But beware the sport button.

MAZDA_CX3_D_rear

Mazda have produced a sublimely smooth six speed dual clutch automatic gearbox which make the paddles almost superfluous. Working with the paddles in sport mode is fun but they are rarely really needed.

This Mazda feels good on the road. Needless to say it has all the safety and roadholding kit expected of a topnotch car.

I got the impression the car is well put together and should give many years of trouble free motoring. After 90 years of making cars Mazda should know a thing or two about making good cars.

For a second opinion about the first of the new Mazdas we have tested I asked my wife for her thoughts.

I really like the clean lines and profile of this car, it looks cheeky, playful and willing.
The doors feel nice and solid when you open and close them. The interior design is smart and straightforward, from the stitched leather look on the dash to the layout of the instrument panel. Everything is exactly where it should be; easy to control or change during your oh-so-smooth ride. The seats are extremely comfortable, the view is pretty good and I love the growl of the really willing engine.
Although a smaller car, the feeling is of space, especially for the driver.

The Mazda CX-3 2.0L Dynamic automatic is R310 700 as listed.

CX-3 prices range from R274 400 to R351 000.

A 3-year unlimited kilometre factory warranty, a 5-year Corrosion Warranty and a 3-year service plan is included.

This segment, the small crossover/ SUV, (or stationwagon to use its old name) is brimming with competition. From the funky to practical. Take a look at the Jeep Renegade and its sibling the FIAT 500X, the best selling Ford EcoSport, Renault Captur and Duster, Opel Mokka and the Nissan Juke.

Mercedes Benz GLA 200 CDI review

MB GLA 200 CDI

MB GLA 200 CDI

Mercedes Benz GLA 200 CDI

This is a very competent, practical compact luxury car. It rides highish off the ground so farm roads are a doddle. You also sit more upright and higher, giving excellent visibility.

Performance is between good and excellent. Handling and roadholding match the class leaders in this crossover SUV niche.

Mercedes replaced the old A Class with 3 models. A sporty range called the CLA, the normal one called the A and a cross-over that superficially looks like the A, the GLA. The GLA rides higher than the A and is a little bigger all round. Many will feel this is the most practical  new baby Benz.

MB-GLA200--1-011

There are two petro and two diesel models, three  style  lines and three add on packages.

The 200 is a 1.6 petrol engine with electronically controlled direct petrol injection through piezo injectors and a turbocharger. Claimed fuel consumption is 6 litres/100km, but expect around a still exceptional  7. The 250 4matic has a 1.9 engine, more performance and  is a little thirstier but still very good.

The 200 CDi is a 2.1 litre  turbodiesel with high-pressure fuel injection common-rail technology, VTG turbocharger and EDC. The 220 CDi is the same engine but with more punch. Claimed  diesel consumption is 4.5 to 5 l/100km. Aim for 6, but be easy on the throttle.

The GLA comes in a choice of three lines “Style”, “Urban” and “AMG Line” .

Amongst the many optional extras to choose from, are the large panoramic sliding sunroof, or the EASY-PACK tailgate, which can be opened and closed at the push of a button.

MB-GLA200--1-084dashStandard equipment includes multifunction steering wheel, eco start/stop, Collision prevention assist, which warns the driver visually and audibly of insufficient distance to the vehicle travelling ahead or of stationary objects, attention assist, cruise control, climate control, automatic lights and adaptive brakes.

In addition there are three style packages: Night, Exclusive and AMG Exclusive. Highlights of the Exclusive package, for example,  (available for all three lines) include heated sports seats with 4-way lumbar support for driver and front passenger, leather-covered, like the multifunction steering wheel and the gearshift lever.

It is all a little confusing and almost too much for me. In the showroom it is a little easier to get you head round the choices, but beware, costs mount rapidly.

MB-GLA200--1-007I liked the car. I think  Mercedes mostly got it right and it does feel like a baby Benz. The interior, apart from the protruding multimedia screen, is very pleasant and has enough space for a smaller car.

If you prefer a hatch type shape of car and a little more ride height MB have got it right with this car. Not cheap though.

Also look at the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Nissan Qashqai, Subaru XV, Volvo V40 Cross Country and Ford Kuga.

As tested R422 700 plus options R120 450 for a total of R543 150. Options are reversing camera, active park assist, paoramic sunroof, 7G-DCT automatic box, COMMAND online, tow-hook, Bi-Xenon headlamps, easy pack tailgate, Exclusive package, mirrors, night pack and urban line.

The range starts at R421 800, and goes to R760 800 for the GL45 AMG. We would recommend the G LA200 Auto at R461 947.  Two formidable competitors stand out. The Ford Kuga 2.0TDCi AWD Titanium is R448 900 fully and comprehensively equipped. The Volvo V40 Cross CountryD4 Excell at R395 000 is a complete package.

All GLA models come standard with a 6-years/100 000 km maintenance contract and two year unlimited warranty.