Mazda 2 1.5 DE Hazumi 6AT 5DR review

Mazda2

Mazda2

Mazda2

Mazda are back with a bang in South Africa. Good looking cars. Great new engines. All the safety kit.
The Mazda2 we are reviewing here has big shoes to fill. Remember the two versions of 323 we had back in the day? Good cars which seemingly lasted for ever. This new 4th generation model was Car of the Year in Japan in its launch year.

Mazda2

Mazda2

Our test car had a beautiful colour, Smoky Rose, better in the flesh than in a photo. The same can be said about the exterior of this Mazda2. Very pleasing to look at. Mazda calls their design philosophy ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’ design. They kind of get it right, I think.

The interior is neat, uncluttered and smart, with a few luxury aspects like red stitching on the dash cowling and soft touch where it matters. The half leather trim seats are comfortable and quite adjustable. A premium cabin that not only looks good, but feels right and exudes quality.
So it looks right, but how does it perform?

The 6-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic transmission couples directly with the engine and combines the best aspects of a conventional automatic, continuously variable (CVT) and dual clutch transmissions. It is brilliant and points to the future.

mazda2_16_rear

This model has a very modern up-to-date robust 1.5 turbodiesel engine which develops 250Nm of torque and 77kW of power. Mazda claims a fuel consumption of 4.4L/100km and I got a very creditable 5.8L/100km in real life driving. Acceleration and top speed is fine but is definitely geared to economy. The chassis has been well set up and delivers great handling and superb road holding. As with Mazda in general, it’s a fun car to drive, and it has all the safety kit.

MZD Connect is the Mazda infotainment system. It is a complete system with a multi function commander rotary control just like on swanky German cars, a 7” touchscreen, Bluetooth and USB connections, clear, intuitive menu, several other functions and even includes internet radio (Pandora, sticher and aha). Pretty nifty. Easy to use and works well.

The Mazda 2 1.5 DE Hazumi 6AT 5DR as tested costs R290 700. The range starts at R204 100 for the 1.5 Active, which has the very good Skyactive petrol engine and feels seriously quick.

Mazda price list here. 

I would rather get the Mazda2 1.5 petrol Individual automatic at R227 200 if I was buying a B class car now. If you need a slightly bigger car have a look at the Ford Focus 1.0T.

You get a 3-year unlimited kilometre factory warranty , a 3-year service plan and a 5-year Corrosion Warranty.

Other cars in this segment include the brilliant Honda Jazz, Ford Fiesta and Focus 1.0T, Kia Rio, Hyundai i30, Toyota Yaris, VW Polo and Renault Clio.

Mazda2

Mazda2

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Ranger 3.2 TDCi Double Cab XLT AT 4×4

Ranger 3.2 TDCi Double Cab XLT AT 4×4

Ranger 3.2 TDCi Double Cab XLT AT 4×4

We tested this bakkie before in 2.2 and 3.2 guise but I have to say this facelifted version is even better. Ford has really pulled out all the stops to improve an already good vehicle. The interior sets the standard for the bakkie sector.

You can move effortlessly between 2WD and 4WD high mode or low mode with what Ford calls Shift-on-the-fly. It waltzes over any obstacle effortlessly.

I really like the e-Locking Rear Differential, ESP braking system and the clever underseat storage.
The big turbo diesel puts out a massive 470 @ 1500 – 2750 and achieves a claimed 8.6L/100km. I got just over 10L/100km.

It is a pleasure to drive on and off-road. It has the power. To do almost anything… a bakkie should.

There are a number of trim and equipment levels to choose from

Base – Fleet workhorses: manual windows, vinyl flooring, no ABS or air-con
XL – Mid-level: ABS, ESC, radio with bluetooth, electric windows
XL plus – Heavy duty: like XL but adds 4×4, dual batteries, expanded wiring harness, 17” wheels and AT tyres
XLS – With instrument panel incorporatingSYNC® with a CD player and Bluetooth.
XLT – With even more goodies for the leisure market, and dual colour 4.2-inch TFT screen.
Wildtrak – Top of the range is our equivalent to the Raptor in the bigger US Ford bakkies.

The Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux are somewhat different but they are equals. One does some things better than the other and vice versa.

I personally prefer the Ranger above the HiLux.

The bakkie as tested costs R570 900

Ford Ranger XLT TDCi 3.2 Auto

Ford Ranger XLT TDCi 3.2 Auto

Mazda CX-5 2.2L DE Akera AWD Automatic review

Mazda CX-5  2.2L DE Akera AWD Automatic

Mazda CX-5

Mazda CX-5

Mazda sells just over 50 cars a day, of which the Mazda 3 and CX-5 make up 55%. Mazda CX-5 sales in particular grew by 93% over the past year, making the model the segment leader in the Compact SUV Segment, helped no doubt by the clever positioning of the six model range.

Why are so many people buying the CX-5?

Styling

Kodo is the mantra at the Mazda design office. They rave on about soul of motion styling with flowing lines in a package that melts away the boundaries between the interior and exterior.

Mazda CX-5 at Boschendal

Mazda CX-5 at Boschendal

It is a good looking car, inside and out. The lines are pleasing and it just looks balanced. This new generation of Mazda’s are all good looking cars but I think this CX-5 and the sporty MX-5 get it perfectly right. That balance between standing out from the crowd, but not being outlandish. It is a design that should age well.

Interior

mazda_cx5_dashI particularly liked the three different textures or surfaces from soft to semi-soft the hard plastic. Areas which you will see but rarely touch are generally semi-soft, areas you will touch tend to be soft touch and wearing surfaces hard. Not only clever and practical, but also stylish and effective.

Mazda’s infotainment system is called MZD Connect. It is an intuitive easy to use system. The controls and switches on the MX-5 just sit where they should, and work the way they should. They are a pleasure to use.

The two top models get an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat with power lumber support. Upholstery is leather. These seats are really comfortable.

You can tell that Mazda are aiming at the top end of the market with their top models and now match Audi with this interior.

Technically

Mazda’s 2.2 turbo-diesel engine puts out 129kW and delivers a solid 420Nm. Much more than you need for a car of this size, but its nice to have and makes overtaking a breeze. Fuel consumption is very good at an average 7.3 litres/ 100km for the week I drove the car.

I drove the smaller CX-3 with the 2.0 litre normally aspirated petrol engine and can report it is spirited and I got 8 litres/ 100km, in the smaller SUV.

The new Mazda auto shifter combines the best attributes of conventional automatic, continuously variable and dual clutch transmissions. It works for me.

Most models have Blind Spot Monitoring and Lane Keep Assist, both of which really enhance safety.

In the smarter models ( Individual and Akera models) the Adaptive Front-Lighting System swivel up to 15 degrees in the direction you’re steering, revealing more of the corner. These lights also automatically adjust for oncoming traffic.

Mazda CX-5 with the Drakenstein

Mazda CX-5 with the Drakenstein

Handling

Sweet. In a nutshell, she handles sweetly. The CX-5 feels nimble and sits well on the road.

Summary

This new generation CX-5 is an advanced luxury car which offers top class safety and luxury with really good performance, handling and fuel economy. I liked it and would personally consider it if I was in the market now.

Price

From R363 900 for the 2.0 L Active petrol to the 2.2 diesel Akera as tested at R533 400.

Full price list here.

Mazda gives you a 3 year unlimited km warranty and service plan.

Competition

Nissan Qashqai and X-trail, Audi Q3, Kia Sportage, Suzuki Vitara, Honda CR-V, VW Tiguan, Toyota RAV 4, Renault Kadjar.

mazda_cx5_bum

Toyota HiLux 2.8 GD-6 4×4 Raider review

Toyota HiLux 2.8 GD-6 4×4 Raider

HiLux is dead, long live HiLux. The king of the bakkie world is back with a bang.

Toyota HiLux 2.8

Toyota HiLux 2.8

The latest HiLux is a big improvement over the previous model in almost every way, but especially in the important aspects like ride quality, handling and fuel consumption.

My wife, Danita, was impressed by how much better the ride is of the new HiLux. She says it does not feel like a truck anymore. She could even see over the bonnet.

“What I really liked was the smoothness of going from wet muddy conditions onto gravel, thick sand and the brutal climbing power in very windy conditions on the slippery slopes of the mountains above Kleinmond! I really like it’s versatility … a stylish loyal workhorse clad in an elegant suit.  I felt safe inside,  protected by the powerful engine and strong body. I have never been quite so relaxed during a 4×4 trip in challenging weather conditions!”

HiLux_2.8-dashVisibility is good for a double cab. The whole aspect of handling and control has been taken to a new level and is now much easier and you feel more in control. Although it is substantially bigger it doesn’t feel clumsy or vague to drive.

HiLux is selling very well, so it must be ticking the right boxes. I thought the Toyota engineers have done a good job of refining what was in its day a highly competent bakkie.

The new Hilux is available in four grades, from workhorse to Raider with SRX in the middle. There is also a specialist SR spec for the mining industry. In total there are 23 models.

Drive Mode Select (Eco and Sport) with iMT

The gearbox is really good. Toyota is using an intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) on top models.  iMT effectively incorporates rev-matching technology on both up- and downshifts, to provide a smooth drive as well as assisting drivers with smooth take-offs.

Using the 4WD change-over switch, the driver can select between 2WD, 4WD and 4WD with low range. The system allows the driver to switch between 2WD and 4WD ‘High’ on the fly, up to speeds of 50 km/h

HiLux_2.8-rear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Active Traction Control system (A-TRC) found in the Land Cruiser family of vehicles is now also fitted to top HiLux models. A-TRC uses a combination of engine torque control and brake pressure modulation to provide maximum traction under most conditions.

Toyota claims 7.1 litres per 100 km. I got just over 8L/100km, making this bakkie light on fuel.  The 2.8 diesel delivers 130 kW and  420Nm from 1600 to 2400 rpm. The 2.8 GD-6 4×4 models allow a solid 3.5 tons of towing capability.

The eighth-generation HiLux, Toyota says is fit-for-purpose. After a week at the wheel that is my overriding impression. They know how to build bakkies having sold HiLuxes since 1969.

Little nitpick niggles

The rear bumper sticks out quite a bit from the body and may snag things especially in the veld butHiLux_2.8-nose also add wind resistance.

The rear legroom is still tight and not as good as the competition.

The infotainment screen and instrumentation is much better than the previous model but has not quite caught up to the Ranger and KB.

The bakkie we tested cost R529 900.

Pricing is as follows: Single cab:  From R228 900 to R 435 900
Xtra cab: From R333 900 to R470 900
Double cab: From R 377 900 to R593 900

There is a 5 year or 90 000 kilometre service plan. The standard factory warranty provides cover for 3 years or 100 000 km, but you can extend it to 6 years or 200 000km for R7 200.

Bear in mind four new bakkies are coming to market in 2016/17. They are the new Mitsubishi Triton and Nissan Navarra as well as the launch of the FIAT Fullback and Mercedes bakkie.

The Ford Ranger and Isuzu KB series are formidable competition. VW Amarok will catch up when it gets its facelift and new engines soon.

Also have a look at the two Steed ranges from GWM. You may just be very surprised.

Ford Ranger line-up gets 2.2 TDCi Automatic

Ford has announced that from July 2016 the 2.2 Duretorq TDCi range will include automatic models.

A total of nine 2.2 TDCi Auto variants will be offered, boosting the revised Ranger line-up to a total of 36 models. It will be available across all three body styles.

Ford_Ranger_XLT_dash

The existing manual version of the Ranger.

“The success of the automatic transmission option on the Ford Ranger is unprecedented, with almost 70% of buyers opting for the auto instead of the manual in the powerful 3.2-litre models,” says Tracey Delate, General Marketing Manager, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa.

“The latest refinements, increased performance and enhanced fuel efficiency of the New Ranger, particularly with the updated 2.2 Duratorq TDCi engine, has led to growing customer interest in the option of an automatic transmission on these models.

In addition, customers will be able to select from all three trim and specification levels in the case of the Ranger Double Cab 2.2 Auto, comprising the entry-level XL, the mid-range XLS and the top-end XLT which provides a peerless combination of luxury and convenience. The Single Cab and Super Cab can be specified in XL and XLS guises for the 2.2 Auto.

Prices will be released later.

Ford Ranger 2.2 XLT

Ford Ranger 2.2 XLT

VW T6 Kombi review

VW T6 Kombi 

The VW Type 2, or Kombi was introduced in 1950 and was related to the Type 1 or Beetle. The new Kombi is the sixth generation or T6 version and is an improvement on the T5 which was a radical change from earlier designs.

Without a doubt this is the best Kombi to date. It sticks to the basic recipe. Loads of space, good visibility, reasonable economy and pleasant to drive. The improvements and changes are all in the details.

VW Kombi

VW Kombi

Variants

There are five variants to choose from.

All are diesels, but you get to choose a lower or higher power version.

Long or short wheel base and basic or smart.

VW make three types of minibus. The Transporter range, Kombi and Caravelle.

Transporter is basically a bakkie, either single or double cab and sells from around R300 00, to R400 000, but a crew bus and a panel van are also available.

The Kombi range are 8 seater mini-busses, available in Trend or Comfortline trim levels and with either a 75kW or 103 kW diesel engine. Comfortline also has a long wheelbase version with a 7-speed DSG gearbox which is also an 8-seater.

The Caravelle is a seriously well appointed big MPV type personal bus. Caravelles start at R760 600 and top off at R873 500, befitting the luxury limo feel.

What its like

I got around 8 litres/100km on the open road and about 12 litres/100km in town, which is pretty good considering the size of the van.

The interior is very neat and functional. VW know a thing or two about car interior design and it shows.

From the driver’s seat you have very good visibility and all the controls are within reach and well laid out.

I found the air-conditioning rather rudimentary, although it does work especially for the front seats.

Issues I had with this new Kombi include the following – the gear stick obstructs the gear markings, although the display does indicate which gear you are in. The gearbox seems to hunt on occasion especially at low speeds, fortunately the less powerful version only comes in manual.

For such a big vehicle the omission of park distance control or assist coupled to a lack of a rear camera was disappointing.

I found the brakes overly sharp and the hill hold control unrefined.

VW_Kombi_2

 

The Kombi Comfortline 2.0 TDI DSG (103kW) we tested retails for R583 900 and included the following options: metallic paint, towbar, comfort package, 17-inch alloy wheels, multifunction steering wheel and the audio system, which all adds up.

Prices vary from R496 300 for a Trendline to R609 00 for the top of range Comfortline, excluding extras.

Also look at the Hyundai H1 which has been recently facelifted, Ford Tourneo, Chrysler Grand voyager, Kia Grand Sedona and the Mercedes Vito/ V-class.

VW gives you a 5 year or 60 000 maintenance plan and a 3 year or 120 000 warranty.

VW_Kombi_3

Duster 1.5 dCI Dynamique 4×2 Review

Duster 1.5 dCI Dynamique 4×2

The new facelifted and updated Duster now built in Romania has a few new elements: New alloy rims. Parking distance control (standard).Patterned fabric replaces plain seat and door panel design. 7” touchscreen satnav (Dynamique variants only). Cruise control is now standard.  Leather trim and seats are optional on all three derivatives.

Renault-Duster-Facelift-dCi-4x2-022-front

Product manager at Renault SA Jeffrey Allison said: “Moving production to Pitesti provides us with the opportunity to refresh Duster within a sharper turnaround time – good for the brand and good for our customers here in SA.”

I think that the quality has also been lifted.

This car is keen to go. Its power, and more to the point, torque to weight ratio is superb. You can literally stay in sixth gear when overtaking, or change down to fifth and blast past. It is a blast.

I got 6.7  litres/100km in mixed driving on my usual route which includes town, highway and a ten storey parking garage. You may get even better figures even as low as 5L/100km.

Renault-Duster-Facelift-dCi-4x2-103-dashI found the car suitably well equipped with cruise control, climate control, a great sound system but a slightly dodgy GPS concerning Cape Town map coverage. This may be upgradable.

The balance of the Duster is just so very good. It weighs really good power with really good fuel consumption. Acceleration is better than required for normal driving and top speed is way over 120km/h. The size is also good, not too big, not too little.

I prefer it to the more expensive Captur.

Consumption claimed of less than 5,  I got just less than 7 litre/100km

Duster 1.6 Expression 4×2 R222 900
Duster 1.6 Dynamique 4×2 R249 900
Duster 1.5 dCI Dynamique 4×2 R269 900
Duster 1.5 dCI Dynamique 4×4 R289 900

The Duster is sold with a five-year or 150 000km mechanical warranty, a three-year or 45 000km service plan (service intervals at 15 000km) and a six-year anti-corrosion warranty.

Renault-Duster-Facelift-dCi-4x2-066-rear

Also look at the Renault Captur, Ford EcoSport, Kia Soul, Nissan Juke, Citroen Cactus, Suzuki SX4