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!

Peugeot 108 review

A little French charmer from the Czech Republic – Peugeot’s 108.

PSA, the group which owns Peugeot, Citroën and Opel, has launched the final model in its cleverly thought out local model range which includes a large van, three SUVs and three cars.

The 108 Active is a small hatch or city car which will be competing with the established segment leader, Kia’s Picanto, VW’s Up and Toyota’s Aygo. Interestingly, the 108 and Aygo share a common platform. First introduced in 2005, these city cars are now in their second generation and are built in the same factory in Kolin in the Czech Republic.

Despite the fact that these cars share so many parts, the boot in the Toyota Aygo is slightly smaller than that in the Peugeot 108.

Peugeot offers only one model of the 108 in South Africa, the 5D Active. It is well specced and priced. It seems to be aimed at young first time buyers and older women. As a result it can be customised with eight body colours to choose from, plus themes, special editions and different interior ambiances.

Equipment includes air-conditioning, a simple but good touchscreen infotainment system which is compatible with Apple and Android devices and a good trip computer display. There are three plug points; USB, 12v and Din.

The 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine is not turbocharged and produces a paltry 53 kW and 93 Nm. Fuel economy is claimed at 5.2 L/100 km and is not too far out. Expect around 6 to 7 L/100km depending on your driving style. In town the engine feels responsive and the clutch is easy to use. Safety is well looked after and even includes hill hold. The engine is quite noisy during acceleration, but not unpleasantly so.

Ride quality is fair, and almost fun in town. On the long road you will, if you are slightly older or bigger, fairly rapidly sit ‘through’ the seats which are fine but rather lightweight. At speed there is quite a bit of wind and road noise.

I found the little lion cub to be very much at home in the city and easy to live with. You do not need anything more in a city car.

Peugeot says customers who encounter a mechanical issue with their vehicle will be afforded the use of a courtesy car and that replacements parts will be made available swiftly and be competitively priced. Peugeot South Africa is desperate to right wrongs, change preconceptions and restore some pride.

According to Peugeot when you buy a car from them you are joining the pride, based I suppose on the idea of their rampant lion logo. Dubbed ‘Peugeot Pride’, every 108 has a 5-year/100 000 km comprehensive warranty, a 5-year/ 100 000 km service plan, roadside assistance, use of a courtesy car while in for repairs, 24-hour customer care contact centre, licence renewal reminder, as well as service plan and warranty expiry notifications

The Peugeot 108 1.0 Active is priced at R179 900. The comparable Aygo is R177 900 but has no service plan and only a 3-year warranty. On paper the 108 is the better buy, but go and drive the cars before deciding, as the cars have very different personalities.

Ford Fiesta Diesel

Driving Ford’s little oil burner is a real pleasure. It is an example of a design and engineering team getting it right.

The balance between performance and comfort, power and economy, price and value seems to be spot on. The driving dynamics are superb and build quality is very good.

Ford Fiesta Diesel

The new Fiestas look and are bigger than the old model, which is now called the Figo. It feels that the usable space is both bigger and more practical as is the boot. Overall this new little Ford looks good inside and out.

The Fiesta 1.5 TDCi Trend 6 MT is the model name of the Fiesta I drove. That means it is a 6-speed manual turbo diesel with the Trend or standard trim level. The top specification is the Titanium, but is not available with a diesel engine.

Ford’s Synch III infotainment system with voice control and Bluetooth is a joy to use. It is easy to set up, easy to understand and easy to use. There are two USB ports with charging functionality, integration with you cell phone and a colour touchscreen. Directly in front of the driver is an additional trip computer display with several options.

Standard equipment includes controls on steering wheel, daytime running lights, halogen headlamps, airconditioner, hill launch assist and auto stop – start.

Safety kit is comprehensive and includes ABS brakes with brakeforce assist and distribution control, traction control, airbags, front fog lights, cornering lamps and reverse parking sensors.

Fuel consumption is claimed to be 3.3L/100km but expect 4L/100km on the open road and around 5.5L/100km in town, which in real terms is good.

Fiesta is fun to drive, with excellent road manners, nicely weighted steering and brakes, a feeling of woema when you put foot and an oh-so-smooth gearbox.

This Fiesta raises the bar and is the benchmark for how a small car should drive.

Equipment included in the standard price surpasses that of most of the competition which means you are actually getting good value for money.

This is a car I have really enjoyed to drive. I would also consider the automatic 1.0 T turbo-petrol model which is priced at R277 300 and may be the sweet spot of the range.

The diesel Trend Fiesta is listed at R292 500. The range starts at R261 900 and tops out at R310 600.

The warranty is for 4 years or 120 000km and the base price includes a 4 year or 60 000 km service plan.

The direct competition includes its own sibling, the Figo which is the previous Fiesta, the VW Polo and Vivo, Mazda 2, Suzuki Baleno, Kia Rio, Honda Jazz and Hyundai i20.

Suzuki Swift 1.2 GL Manual Mk2 reviewed

Suzuki Swift 1.2 GL Manual

Remember the old tyre commercial with the tag line: “Its so wide”? Well the new Swift, and it is completely new, although it looks quite like the original at first glance, is 40mm wider than the old model. That translates into a roomy cabin with enough space for all four occupants. Even the luggage area scores, the boot is now a little bigger at 268 litres.

Suzuki Swift 1.2 GL

The engine stays the same but the dash and electronic systems are all completely new.

Suzuki’s new HEARTECT platform now underpins the Swift. It integrates with Suzuki’s Total Effective Control Technology (TECT), which applies good design and clear engineering principles using very high-tensile steel to lighten the body weight, while improving crash safety.
The system was designed to integrate active and passive safety systems, including the two front-occupant airbags, ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and ISOFIX seat anchors. A significant benefit is the reduction in weight. The new Swift weighs in at 875 kg, which is a 95 kg lighter than its predecessor making it one of the lightest vehicles in the upper-B segment.

This new Swift was a top three finalist of the World Urban Car of the Year, and as the first- and second-generation models were highly popular in South Africa, with roughly 30% (or 2 966 units in 2017) of all Suzuki sales, the car should sell well.

There are three models, a base GA with five-speed manual at R159 900 and two GLs , manual and automatic.

All versions of the new Suzuki Swift are equipped with air conditioning, front and rear electric windows, power steering and remote central locking as well as a tilt-adjustable steering column, a detailed information display that includes information such as fuel consumption and range, and a security alarm and immobiliser.
On the GL-models, Suzuki adds an audio system with easy-to-use Bluetooth-connectivity and USB socket, steering wheel controls for the audio system and electrically adjustable side view mirrors. So it makes sense to go with the GL, and I would recommend the automatic at R189 900.

The interior is typical Suzuki. Functional and well thought out with ample storage spaces inside the cabin, including two front and one rear cup holder, side door pockets, a console tray box, glove box with lid and a passenger seat pocket.
The D shaped chunky steering wheel feels good in your hands and has audio system controls.

The high compression, normally aspirated 1.2L four-cylinder engine delivering 61 kW at 6 000 rpm and 113 Nm at 4 200 rpm used in the previous model is retained. This is good as it is proven, up to the job and known to be reliable and pretty frugal.

Fuel consumption is rated at 4.9 litres per 100 km in a combined cycle, giving it a real-world range of over 750 km on its 37-litre tank. I got a very frugal 5.7 L/100km which including some spirited driving on the Franschoek pass. You should be able to average close to 5 L/100km.

The Swift has a good 5-year / 200 000 km mechanical warranty and a 2-year / 30 000 km service plan.

Some of the competition in the upper-B segment include the Ford Figo, Kia Picanto, Honda Brio, Hyundai Grand i10, Toyota Agyo and Volkswagen’s up! and Vivo.

Peugeot 208 GT-Line review

Peugeot 208 GT-Line
Feisty. Zippy. The Peugeot 208 GT-Line certainly zips along quite nicely, thank you. It has a delightfully growly 1.2 turbopetrol tricylinder engine which produces all sorts of motoring music (sounds) when encouraged with the right foot.

The 208 GT-Line is a small hatch similar in size to a VW Polo, Mazda 2, Ford Fiesta or Nissan Micra.

There is a certain Gallic touch and charm to the styling, from the feisty looking claw motive LED taillights to the aluminium door sill finishers and aluminium pedals. The piano black grill with subtle red highlights is quite assertive without being overly aggressive.

Standard features include automatic dual-zone aircon, cruise control, electric windows and mirrors and rain-sensing wipers.
The perceived build quality of the interior is good, but there are some less-premium plastic trim elements.
The 7-inch touchscreen touchscreen infotainment system is easy to use but ever so slightly outdated, for example the display option is very limited. Devices can also be connected via USB and Bluetooth and the system offers MirrorLink for Android and Apple CarPlay. The phone system is very easy to use and very clear. So the system is okay. It has the basics.
The tiny multi-function steering wheel with full leather-trimmed rim is set low and close. The dials are placed far away in a pod in front of the driver and key controls have been grouped into a touchscreen on the centre console in the centre.

Odd though is the trip computer information (including fuel consumption) displayed on the infotainment system rather than on the instrument cluster in the pod.
Very comfortable supportive seats with red detailing offer comfortable supportive seating and a great driving position. Big passengers may feel a little squished on a long road. Not a whole lot of legroom for the rear seat passengers, or headroom.

The 208’s special interior ambience, is achieved with mood lighting, and white backlighting for the instruments and controls.

Peugeot 208 GT line ready to pounce

Ride quality is quite soft, yet still firm enough to make the car feel engaging. It corners easily and instils the impression of control. Feels like fun. The 208 GT-Line has an impressive ability to soak up poor road surfaces, never losing its poise.

GT-Line’s thrumming little gem of a 1.2-litre PureTech turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine produces 81kW and 205Nm, which together with the light body gives the car plenty of go. Other testers got 6.7-litres/100km, well off the claimed 4.5-litres/100km, but my figures were even worse at around 10L/100km, but then I tended to massage the growl pedal frequently. It is just too tempting.
Being French, it has all the safety kit you want in a car.

It costs R100k less than a Polo GTi, although understandably it does not offer quite the same performance it is not so far off in and around town. Without a doubt it is rand-for-rand a better buy.

Fun to drive, very responsive and wieldy with a pleasant, comfortable cabin. The 208 GT-Line  delivers a really nice package.

Renault Clio 88 kW Turbo GT-Line which is priced at R269 900 with a top speed of 190mk/h and 0-100km/h in 9,6 seconds, looks like real competition for the VW Polo 1,0 TSi.

The 208 comes with a 3 year or 100 000 km warranty and 45 000 km service plan.

Volkswagen Polo Vivo GT review

Volkswagen Polo Vivo GT

VW Polo Vivo GT

GT – the term evokes visions of past automotive glory in the sense of a roomy, performance, luxury car capable of high speed and long-distance driving. Probably a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive two-door coupé with either a two-seat or a 2+2 arrangement, historically. Think Aston Martin DB4, Maserati Gran Turismo, the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GT of 1929…

To test if the Volkswagen Polo Vivo GT qualifies as a real GT I packed it to the brim with camping gear and took it on a short road trip up the N7 via Piekenierskloof to the Jamaka Organic Farm in the Cedarberg. A good combination of mild mountain passes and long straights with a little twist in the tail.

The Vivo GT is based on the previous Polo range and has the same features as the Vivo Highline but with a few items fitted to justify the rather steep asking price. The GT also gets ‘Space’ cloth sports seats (although our test car had optional ‘leather’ seats), a rear tailgate spoiler, GT lettering wherever they would fit, a black side moulding, sporty single-pipe exhaust system with chrome trim, cruise control, lowered suspension (by 15mm), shiny ‘sport’ pedals and floor mats!

VW Polo Vivo GT on Piekenierskloof.

Optional extras on the test car included ‘Vienna’ leather seats (R9382), storage package (R2017) and smokers package (R252), which appears to be simply a lighter. The GT we drove costs R256 651 with optional extras.

You almost immediately realise that the Vivo GT has been built to a strict cost price target. It appears that where corners could be trimmed, they have been, especially the trim, if you get what I mean. As a result the car neither feels nor looks above average quality, to me. It drives OK though.

On tar, around town the GT feels nippy and handles well. The little 1.0 Litre mill does not like hills when fully laden and in sixth gear. But shift down to fourth and work the gears and you are soon moving along quite smartly if a little bumpily.

I found the suspension a little too aggressive and stiff for my personal tastes, but it certainly gives the car a boy racer feeling. Part of the ‘problem’ are the very low profile tyres. Young men will love it, probably.

Did it pass the GT test? I am not so sure. Does it pass muster as a budget Polo GTi? Probably. Just don’t go camping in the Cedarberg with all your outdoor kit. The car does not like gravel when loaded.

If you love VW and are on a budget you will be able to overlook the trim shortcuts. The basic car is well sorted and can be fun to drive. The ‘old’ Polo lives on in the new Vivo albeit slightly trimmed down. The interior though, still looks good from the driver’s seat.

Fuel consumption is very good and a sub 6L/100km can be achieved provided your right foot behaves.

Not a bad package but also look at the Highline, which I think gives much better value, good performance and a softer ride.

The Vivo range starts with the 1.4 55kW Trendline at R179 900, 1.4 63kW Comfortline at R192 000,
Tiptronic is R221 900, the smarter 1.6 77kW Highline starts at R214 900 and the base price of the 1.0 TSI 81kW GT is R245 000.

The Volkswagen Polo Vivo Hatch comes standard with a 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 6-year Anti Corrosion warranty.

A Volkswagen Automotion Maintenance Plan (starting at R7128 and topping off at R24 168 for the 5 year 100 000km option) as well as a Volkswagen Automotion Service Plan are available as options.

Ford Fiesta ST200 Limited Edition review

Ford Fiesta ST200 Limited Edition

You get the Fiesta. Then you get the Fiesta ST. And then the ST200 Limited Edition. Only 160 of them were brought into SA and they are available in “Storm Grey” metallic only.

The difference between the “normal” ST and the limited edition includes the power output which has been raised from 134 kW to a mighty 147 kW for such a small body. Maximum torque, meanwhile, goes up from 240 Nm to 290 Nm.

Do you really need 290 Nm in a Fiesta? If you want to kick ass you do, oh yes. By the way, a further 11 kW and 30 Nm are available for up to 20 seconds thanks to the engine’s overboost function. Yummy.

This means zero to 100 km/h in 6,7 seconds and a top speed which is electronically limited to 230 km/h.

Enhancing the handling, the limited edition has a rear twistbeam with a claimed 27% more roll stiffness.

Inside are Recaro heated sport seats with partial leather and two-tone seatbelts, nogal.

The interior is well designed and appears to be well put together. The Sony based infotainment system is good but is not the new Synch3 system. Space at the back is limited.

Cars.co.za said of the ST200LE that it is “pointy, agile and heaps of fun. There’s more to the Ford ST200 than just a hot hatch label. It allows the driver to feel the limit better through its steering, the suspension is set up to tip the car into corners from the rear.” We concur.

This limited edition ST200 is designed to put a smile on your face. It really is fun to drive. Handling heaven. The gearbox is oh-so-smooth and is near perfectly mated with the clutch. You will have to look long and hard to find a better combination.

The steering is also just right, not too light and with plenty of feedback. Ford have got the whole package right, I think.

I found it a little “hard”, for everyday use though, bearing in mind that I have been around the block. I think you can tell the difference between an old and a new R5 coin if you drive over them. So I can safely say it is a young man, with petrol in his veins, type of car.

Dynamite, and so a handful when given rein.

Possibly the best little hot hatch in SA, especially at the price.

The ST200 Limited Edition costs R339 900, which is R14 000 more than that standard Fiesta ST.
It comes with a four-year or 120 000 km warranty and a four-year or 60 000 km service plan.

The competition includes the soon to be released Volkswagen Polo GTI which has a 2.0 petrol engine putting out 147 kW from 4 000 rpm, and 320 Nm of torque from just 1 500 rpm. Expected to cost R387 500. To be confirmed next month by VWSA.

The very hot Renault Clio RS220 Trophy puts out 147 kW and 230Nm, does 0 to 100 km/h in 6.7 seconds, and hits 230 km/h in a car weighing only 1 170 kg and enjoying a taut and grip-focused chassis, for R434 900.

Ford ST200 LE