Suzuki Swift Sport

Little firecracker from Suzuki

Fun on four wheels can mean many things. From a rough and ready offroader, a vehicle for journeys deep into nature or a track ready sportscar. Suzuki are really good at small fun cars. Their Jimny is amazing offroad and their new Swift Sport is amazing on tar.

The Sport is one of those little grin-inducing machines, like a Mazda MX-5 which performs way above its price point. Sure, it is no Porsche or M-class Beemer but boy can it make a driver smile if not laugh out loud.

The Sport is the top of the range, one can almost say, aspirational model of the Suzuki Swift range. What sets it apart is the 1.4 turbo engine (as opposed to a normally aspirated 1.2), special sports seats with red stitching, additional instrumentation, twin exhausts and model specific body panels as well as upgraded suspension, wheels and brakes.

The Sport really makes a statement just sitting waiting for you, ready to leap on the road. Push the start button and the fireworks begin. It sounds right, the display looks right, the seats and steering wheel feel right. Press the loud pedal. Smiling already. I told you. Its fun, even to park at the mall.

Now, the 103kW and 230Nm on offer does not sound like a sports package, but remember the low weight at less than a ton, upgraded chassis, turbo and well matched box give this little runabout running legs. Grin factor. The Sport reaches 100km/h in less than 8 seconds, tops 200km/h and uses under 7 L/ 100 km depending on your right foot.

This is a car one tends to drive enthusiastically – throwing it around corners with abandon it just sticks to the road. Overtaking is effortless. You can use the paddles, but the auto box does the job superbly. Fun factor.

The interior is typically Suzuki but is well equipped and laid out. Not stunning, but neither is it shabby. I like it. The roof is quite high, even at the back, so for a small car even tall people will feel comfortable. Rear leg room is good for a super mini. The boot offers a not so great 242 litres, but it is okay for daily use.

Quite a few luxury items are included as standard, like rear camera, cruise control, infotainment system, climate control electric folding rearview mirrors.

The Swift Sport is well equipped on the safety front too, with 6 airbags, stability control and EDB and ABS.

The Swift Sport retails at R327 900 for the manual and R347 900 for the automatic we drove. This includes a 5 year or 200 000km warranty and 4 year or 60 000 service plan.

The ordinary Swift range starts at R171 900 for the 1.2 GA manual, R202 900 for the 1,2i GL SE to R224 900 for the GLX AMT.

I think the differences and upgrades justify the price. The competition, in the form of the VW Polo GTi at R411 900, Toyota Yaris GR (2021), Mazda MX-5 RF (R551 700) and the yet to be launched Hyundai i20N are all more, or much more, expensive.

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.

Opel Combo Cargo LWB

Remember the three bears and the porridge nursery story? The one bowl was just right. Not too hot or too small. Well Opel has pulled off a similar beautiful story.

Enter the new Combo Cargo Long Wheel Base, a van that is not too big, nor too little. I checked with an electrician, plumber and a carpenter, and they all thought it was just the right size and also priced right.

A bigger sister, the Zafira will be launched soon and will be similar in size as the previous Opel Vivaro van.

Opel Combo Cargo LWB

It is rated for one ton and offers two metres in length and 1.2 high, with 1.2 between the wheel arches in the cargo area. And yet the outside is small enough to fit into a normal parking bay or garage. Braked towing capability is 850kg, while unbraked is 720kg.

The other excellent feature is the cabin. Clever, in one word. It is the World Van of the Year after all.
Above the window is a ‘ledge’ or shelf which would be ideal for a clip board or A4 diary. In the dash is an old fashioned cubbyhole, a slot for something like an order book and a cubicle above the instrument cluster which has a lid and is ideal for keeping petty cash and slips and finally two cup holders. Forward of the gear lever is a space for your phone or tablet, slots for coins, a cavity for a remote and small circular holder.

The doors have the normal space with place for a water bottle and between the seats there is a receptacle for a wallet and a further two cup holders. There is also an additional 12v socket.
The bluetooth telephone system is geared to serve both driver and passenger.
I found the seats to be comfortable and the driving position good. The steering is adjustable for rake and height. The instrumentation and controls are functional and effective.

The cargo area is large (3.9m³) and long enough to hold two motorcycles or four or more mountain bikes. There are six tie down anchors and plenty of notches and holes to attach permanent fixtures and brackets. Fixing points for a roof rack are standard. There is a sixty/ forty full height rear door and doors on both sides in the LWB model. The Short Wheel Base has only one door and a few other minor differences.

Performance is good with a smooth five-speed manual box coupled to a willing 1.6L turbodiesel mill doing service. This van has more than enough power and 230Nm torque. Combined cycle fuel consumption is claimed to be 5L/100km and I think you will get under 6 in general driving and less than 5L/100km on the highway. This van is easy to drive and is more car like than commercial. The speed sensitive steering is almost too light for my taste but is a pleasure in town and makes manoeuvring simple. Speaking of which, I would have liked a rear view camera, but I am sure one would get used to the length very quickly.

It is actually comprehensively equipped with for example hill start assist, stability control, aircon with pollen filter, halogen lights, bluetooth and radio.

Opel have hit the sweet spot with this van, getting the price point, size and capability just right.

The five-seater bus version known as the Life will be available in September.

Warranty is three years or 120 000km and a three year or 60 000km service plan is included.

The direct competition is probably the VW Caddy Maxi and the Nissan NV200. All the other vans are smaller or bigger and easily R100 000 more expensive.
The Opel Combo LWB is listed at R350 000. The little sister short wheel base is R315 000, but remember it only has one side door and can handle a payload of 650kg.

The official website is: https://www.opel.co.za/cars/combo-cargo/model-overview.html

Originally published in Autosold.

Mahindra XUV 300

Mahindra has been coming on in leaps and bounds. Together with Haval I would not be too surprised if they are big players in the SUV field in three years time.

South Africa is the first international market outside of India to launch the XUV300, a small SUV with a roomy interior for its market segment. Mahindra’s compact SUV is the KUV 100.

Mahindra XUV 300

“The XUV300 was launched in India in February 2019 and has already generated over 26 000 bookings in this hotly contested market, which is roughly equal to the total size of the compact SUV market in South Africa,” says Rajesh Gupta, CEO of Mahindra South Africa.
“South Africans love the combination of a high-driving position, bold styling and functionality that SUVs offer and the XUV300 offers this in a bold and dynamic package with a list of features and specifications that are not offered as standard on many vehicles in this segment.” says Mr Gupta.

There are two trim levels and two engine options.
The first is a new three-cylinder 1.2 litre turbo-petrol engine, which delivers 81 kW at 5 000 r/min and a healthy 200 Nm of torque between 2 000 r/min and 3 500 r/min.
The second engine option is a brand-new four-cylinder 1.5 litre turbo-diesel engine that delivers 85.8 kW at 3 750 r/min and 300 Nm in a flat band between 1 500 r/min and 2 500 r/min.
There is no automatic transmission, just a smooth very easy to use six-speed manual box.

XUV300 is available with two trim levels, the standard W6 and fancier W8.

The W6, or basic, trim level offers air conditioning, electric windows, power steering, black fabric trim, electrically adjustable side mirrors and central locking.

Mahindra XUV 300 interior

The W8 includes a second USB charging point, an additional information screen between the colour-customisable LED-lit instrument cluster and electric windows with express up- and down function with anti-pinch technology. There is a glass tilt-and-slide sunroof, also with anti-pinch technology, cruise control and an integrated voice command system with steering-mounted controls.
The infotainment system has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration on the W8 and has in-built turn-by-turn navigation with regional maps as standard across the range. The system also allows the driver to pre-set many of the vehicle functions, including the background display and, on the W8, the colour of the LED backlit instrument panel.
For the W8, Mahindra has replaced the fabric seats with its light leatherette upholstery which serves to give the impression of airiness and space.

Driving aids include a tyre pressure warning system, front and rear parking sensors, a reverse parking camera with parking assistance and automatic rain-sensing wipers.
There is a glass tilt-and-slide sunroof, also with anti-pinch technology, cruise control and an integrated voice command system with steering-mounted controls.
Space utilisation is very good with good headroom and fair legroom at the back. Seating is firm but good.

You may be asking yourself how it drives.
The XUV is a pleasure to drive. The diesel produces a not unpleasant throaty roar under acceleration but is quiet while cruising. There is more than enough power and torque on tap. I can describe the car as zippy in town and it has good acceleration for overtaking. Body roll is under control. Mahindra has ticked all the boxes, as fuel consumption is also good at around 6L/100km in general use and around 5L/100km on the open road.
The XUV300 is easy to park and even has a rear camera and park assist. There are three steering settings from light to normal to sport mode, which I preferred.

I found two little negatives. The boot is a bit on the small side and some of the fit and finish needs more attention, but there were no rattles or squeaks.

This car should be on your test list if you are looking for a compact SUV.

Competition in the compact SUV field is big. The best known are the Ford EcoSport, Suzuki Vitara, Mazda CX-3, Renault Duster and Captur, Toyota Rush, Nissan Juke, Honda BR-V and Peugeot 2008.

All XUV300s have a 5-year / 150 000 km warranty and a standard 5-year / 90 000 km service plan.

The range is as follws: W6 1.2Petrol: R 249 999, W6 1.5 Diesel: R 274 999, W8 1.2Petrol: R 304 999, W8 1.5 Diesel: R 324 999.

Suzuki Dzire 1.2 GL review

Small sedan, big Dzire 

Suzuki is very good at making very good small cars. They confirm this status with the new second generation Dzire, in effect the sedan version of the popular Swift, with which it shares a platform and everything up to the “A” pillar.
Many manufacturers have the two shapes. For example Ford Figo and Toyota Etios have both hatch and sedan versions and the Honda Brio is called the Amaze in sedan guise. But Suzuki deals with the twin style and personality best.

Suzuki Dzire 1.2 GL

“The Dzire is a smoother, smarter design with a character that’s quite different from the Swift hatchback,” Deon Schoeman says in Daily Maverick. He gets it spot on.

An interesting differentiation is used in the trim colour. Swift models have a red and a more sporty theme, while the Dzire has silver accents and is more conservative.
Economy

The tried-and-tested 1.2-litre 4-cylinder naturally-aspirated petrol engine produces 61 kW and 113 Nm, which seems a bit pap, but the low kerb weight of under 900 kg and a smooth, quick 5-speed manual gearbox gives the Dzire almost nippy performance. There is enough oomph for safe overtaking, and highway cruising at the legal limit is fairly effortless.

Expect around or just above 5L/100km in normal usage. I got 5.4L/100km which included very windy conditions, hills, town driving and highway cruising at the legal limit.

A new almost classic instrument cluster with a multi-information display is standard. The GL version adds a tachometer, rear air vents, extra 12V socket, audio system with USB and easy-to-use Bluetooth support, steering wheel-mounted controls and electrically adjustable, colour-coded side mirrors. GL specification also includes a foldable rear armrest with integrated cup holders.

The rear legroom is the best in this class, The rear accommodation is generous. It’s spacious, even for adults, with plenty of leg and shoulder room, giving a big-car feel which would be ideal for a taxi or Uber. Or a soccer mom.
The boot can hold 26% more luggage than the old model with 378 L, limited only by the rear seat which cannot fold down to enlarge the boot, but does add security.
At the rear there is an air vent and a separate 12V socket. There’s also a fold-down armrest with two cup holders.

Safety is good for this class with dual front air bags, and ABS brakes with electronic brake force distribution.
According to cars.co.za, “The Suzuki Dzire [has a] low price, generous space, and ease of use, the Dzire makes a great argument for simple motoring.” The Dzire is a very capable small car for people wanting to get from A to B easily, reliably and without fuss.

The impression one gets is of a car which is very well put together, solid, frugal and reliable.

The Suzuki Dzire 1.2 GL costs R177 900, which includes a very reassuring 5-year or 200 000 km mechanical warranty and 2-year or 30 000 km service plan.

Some alternatives include the Toyota Etios 1.5 Sprint sedan at R184k, Honda Brio 1.2 Trend sedan at R175, Ford Figo Ambiente 1.5 at R187 200 and of course the slightly more expensive VW Vivo Sedan.

Mahindra KUV 100 Nxt review

Mahindra KUV100 NXT

Small crossovers are becoming all the rage in town. There still only one real small off-road SUV, the Suzuki Jimny. All the others are on-road cars.

Just under, or around R200k you actually get a few choices. Alternatives include the Suzuki Ignis (R180k), Honda BR-V (R249k), Renault Sandero (171 900), Haval H1 (R177) and the Mahindra KUV 100 starting at R160k. My pick of the bunch is either Sandero or Ignis.

Autotrader says the KUV 100 “cleverly sidesteps the pothole of trying to compete against the exceptionally popular Polo Vivo or similar – instead, it aims to offer buyers the lowest-priced new cross-over SUV on the market. “
Mahindra’s KUV is bigger inside than you think, excluding the tiny boot which has a very high sill. In short, it has the cabin space of a small SUV-size vehicle, but the length of a hatch.

Mahindra have been building jeep-like vehicles and bakkies for many years and do know what they are doing. The little three-cylinder 1,2 mFalcon D75 turbo-diesel engine produces 57 kW and 190 Nm. The car feels gutsy and once the turbo kicks in, has lots of go. The gearbox and clutch combine well with the engine and are more than adequate for the job on hand.

Mahindra KUV 100 NXT

The steering is quite light and more than a little vague, but you can turn on a tickey.
In the cabin you quickly see where they saved money. I found the seats a little thin and almost flimsy.
The centre console is a large hang-down panel, with 3 rotary controls for the aircon. The gear lever is on the console next to the steering wheel, within easy reach and with short shifts.

The parking brake is really old-school and like bakkies of twenty years ago, you pull a handle and twist to engage. The audio switch is small and fiddly, and the centre controls screen is small, flanked by buttons which have the set menu access like Info and Phone, and 4 inner buttons which correspond to the current screen menu displayed.

There are steering-mounted controls for audio and Bluetooth phone, and a USB port on the upper console.
The Mahindra KUV100 comes in 3 spec level options: K4+, K6+ and K8.
All KUV100 Nxt models ship standard with dual front airbags and ABS, with K6+ and K8 variants adding EBD, automatic door locks and an alarm.

Although there is an ECO button it is best ignored. Keep the KUV in PWR mode, which is normal power anyway. Otherwise it is super pap.
You can switch the stop/start mode off with a button to the right of the steering wheel marked ESS.

The model we drove was the top of the range Mahindra KUV100 Nxt K8 Diesel at R219 999.
We have not driven the petrol version, but can say the diesel is a joy. Expect around 5 L/100km in mixed driving.

This car is not meant for long-haul highway driving, off-road excursions are large framed people.
Expect a cabin facelift in 2019. The centre panel will be upgraded.

A three-year/100 000 km warranty comes standard, while K6+ and K8 models also feature a three-year/50 000 km service plan.

Originally published in AutoSold.

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.

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

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.