Ford Tourneo Connect 1.6 Automatic

Ford-Tourneo-Connect-057-noseFord Tourneo Connect 1.6 Automatic

After many years Ford has a little van again. And what a little van it is.

The Ford Tourneo  comes in two sizes, three trim levels and choice of two engines.

The Grand Connect 1.6 Automatic we drove is a 7-seater MPV (multi-purpose vehicle), the smaller model a real 5-seater.


The Connect may look like a van but it drives like a car, feels like a car. The Titanium model even has climate control and of course cruise control.

Ford-Tourneo-Connect-110-interiorIt has a full trip computer indicating distance to empty, instant and average fuel consumption, average speed, outside temperature and so on.

There are sliding rear doors on both sides for very easy access.

The driver’s seat is very good with 4-way adjustability: fore/aft; recline: up/down & lumbar adjust.

I got a fuel consumption of 9.2 litres/ 100km overall and around 8 on the open road. The SWB 1litre model will get around 6 litres/ 100km overall.   The 1.6 engine delivers more than enough usable power and is quite gutsy in this application. I am told the 1.0L engine in the SWB models is also very effective.

Ford Tourneo Connect Loadspace

Ford Tourneo Connect Loadspace

The interior, at least for the front row is very car like. The dash and interior are well laid out and all the buttons are where they should be.

There is a ton of storage – from storage compartments on the facia top with lift up lids to overhead stowage lockers. You will find a spot for everything.

The audiovisual system is typical modern Ford (in other words good) and offers two power point sockets at the front and rear of the console.

Normal models have air-conditioning but there is climate control in the Titanium model which has many luxury items including for example leather steering wheel and gear knob and panoramic roof.


This van has Hill Launch Assist and an impressive list of safety and handling aids including Roll-Over Mitigation, Torque Vectoring Control, Electronic Stability Programme and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. In short, she handles like a car because she has been engineered to.

The optional panoramic roof window fitted our car is a amazing.

It gives you a whole new way of looking at the world.

The tiered wing mirrors are inspiring. Look for yourself.

Ford-Tourneo-Connect-mirrorThe Tourneo Connect is practical, handles and goes well, has loads of features and is good value for money.

Starts at R273 900 for the 1.0 EcoBoost Trend SWB, R283 900 for the Ambiente and R363 900 for the 1.6 EcoBoost (or 1.6 TDCi) Titanium LWB we tested.

Also look at Toyota Avanza, Suzuki Ertiga, Honda, Nissan NP200, Golf SV, Citroen C4 Picasso, Opel Meriva.

Warranty is 4 years or 120 000km and the service plan is for 4years or 60 000km.

Suzuki Ertiga review

Suzuki_Ertiga_thumbSuzuki Ertiga

Suzuki call the Ertiga a Life Utility Vehicle. I call it a little bus car. Drives like a car, but has the space of a little bus. In fact think of it as a Swift with the space of a bus. The dashboard is just like that of a Swift, which is a good thing as the Swift is a pleasant car to live with.

Suzuki Ertiga

Suzuki Ertiga

The driving position of the Ertiga is very comfortable and relaxed, but you will have to get used to the light beige upholstery. I think seat covers may be a good idea.



Ertiga is all about space. The rear seat, which is quite comfortable, folds flat making a really large load area, just like a small van. Access to the rear seat is pretty good too and easy thanks to the wide doors. This makes it an ideal courtesy vehicle as it is a seven seater.

Build quality of the Ertiga seems to be very good. Panels line up and there are no rattles, squeaks or flimsy feeling switches. Everything works and is in the right place.

What is it exactly?

More car like than van like. Toyota’s Avanza is a van, looks like one, drives like one. The Honda Mobilio is between a van and a car. This Ertiga feels and acts like a car, even almost looks like one. So, almost a Swift on steroids.

Suzuki_Ertiga_bootI got just under 7 litres/100km on my mixed driving route. Be warned though, she revs very high at 120km/h and so is quite noisy.

I drove it in quite windy conditions and must say it felt quite stable and handled the lateral gusts quite well. All in all it was pleasant to drive.

There are 5 models, starting with the 1.4 GA at R163 900, and tops off with the well priced GLX AT @ R211 400. The warranty is 3 year/100 000km, 6 year corrosion, 3 year road assistance, 4 year/60 000km service plan.

The full price list is at:

Also look at the Honda Mobilio, Toyota Avanza, Ford Tourneo Connect, VW Caddy. (All of which we have tested)


BMW 220d Tourer review

BMW-220-Tourer-112_noseBMW 220d Tourer

I really liked this Beemer. It is not as spacious as some medium MPV’s (or station wagons if you are an old timer) but has more usable space than its ‘bigger’ sister the 3 Series cars.

The Tourer has a good practical boot. If you like an X3 but don’t go off tar and don’t like the X3 price tag you will be very happy. Think of it as an X3 without the bling. Think of it too as a smaller BMW with space, especially in the boot.

BMW 220 Tourer

BMW 220 Tourer

The Tourer has the typical BMW interior, it’s very smart and really well finished. I liked the seats which adjust easily to give a good driving position and have a near perfect seat height to easily get in and out.

The cabin is a little tight as in all smaller BMW’s with just enough room for the driver, and very little space for your feet.

The air conditioner is a full manual unit. No climate control here. It does not quite fit with the rest of the car or the asking price.

This front wheel drive BMW has a very smooth gearbox and good handling albeit very different to traditional cars from Munich.

BMW-220-Tourer-064I like the looks but some did not. Take the BMW badge off and you may not think it is a BMW from the outside. It is less quirky than some of its siblings.

The 2 Series is much more practical and good looking than the very pricey  BMW 1 series, to my mind.

There are three trim levels you can choose from to ‘dolly up’ your car. Sport, Luxury and MSport.

Expect good fuel consumption on all the models and around 6 litres/ 100km for the diesels.

The BMW 2 Series Tourer is in my opinion better value than its 3 Series sisters and has more usable space. It is a bit pricey though when you add in the extras.

The competition includes the Opel Meriva, Mercedes B Series, VW Golf  SV and the Citroën C4 Picasso amongst others.

The model we tested, the 220d, costs R446 500 without the extras.  The range starts at R378 000 with the 1.5 manual. Get the full specsheet and pricelist here.

Standard model 218i 220i 220d 225i
Six-speed Manual R378 000 R401 000 R428 500
Automatic Transmission Steptronic (6-speed for 218i, 8-speed for 220i, 220d and 225i) R396 00 R419 000 R446 500 R447 000
Sport Line
Six-speed Manual R395 300 R418 300 R445 800
Automatic Transmission Steptronic (6-speed for 218i, 8-speed for 220i, 220d and 225i) R413 900 R436 300 R463 800 R464 300
Luxury Line
Six-speed Line R403 900 R426 900 R454 400
Automatic Transmission Steptronic (6-speed for 218i, 8-speed for 220i, 220d and 225i) R421 900 R444 900 R472 400 R472 900

The maintenance plan is 5 years or 100 000km.

BMW 220d Tourer

BMW 220d Tourer

Mercedes Benz B250 review

Mercedes-B250-038-thumbMercedes Benz B250 – Luxury and the mother of all hatches

A colleague of mine at Wheels24 almost disparagingly called it a mommy wagon. In fact I think it is the mother of all smaller MPV or super hatches.

Seeing that some people thought it is only a mommy’s taxi type car I asked my wife what she thought.

Mercedes-B250-044-sceneMy wife had this to say:

My first impression was: What a feeble little Merc wannabe, it is to be frowned upon and the production of this little joke must be stopped immediately!

Oh my word was I wrong, very very wrong! Right from the moment when I moved in behind the oval shaped steering wheel and shifted the gearlever into Drive, the world became a much much better place!

The sheer power that is trembling under that aluminium bonnet is just awesome beyond! I now know why the seats come with proper adjustments for real lumbar support – you need it when Sport Mode pushes you back into the backrest.

I just love all the little courtesy lights in the doors, by the sunscreen mirror and in the control panel, plus the fact that all the lights stay on for quite some time when switching off the car and getting out.

Leg room and head room is very good.

So, my wife was surprised by it and I think most people who take it for a test will be. Bearing in mind we had the B250 model, which truth be told is a little excessively powered. Fuel consumption will be around  8.5 litres/ 100km if you can keep your foot off the volume pedal.

B250-&-Ouma-pics-008-dashMercedes has this thing about sticking the multi display on a flimsy looking leg sticking out of the dash very much like it was an afterthought. I just do not like it. Otherwise the cabin is good.

The new B Series grows on you. I know it doesn’t look like a typical Benz, but don’t let that worry you it is very much a Mercedes.

This car is a pleasure to drive and has all the safety and handling items you would expect in a premium brand car.

B250-&-Ouma-pics-011-legroomMy recommendation would be the B200 Auto model at R407 223. You can expect fuel consumption around 7 litres/ 100km and still get 100km/h in under 9 seconds.

The model we tested was the B250 listed at R467 160. The range starts with the B200 at R389 763.

The maintenance plan is for 6 years or 100 000km.

Mercedes Benz B250

Mercedes Benz B250



VW Golf SV

Golf-SV-105-noseVW Golf SV – the versatile one

It may be a good idea not to think of the SV as a Golf. It is its own car, a real (not so) little MPV. Part Touran, but part Golf, where it counts.

I liked the well equipped simply styled interior. It is classy, ergonomically well thought out and beautifully executed.  Quite different to a normal Golf though. It is somewhere between a Golf and a Touran, but I found it a pleasant and practical compromise.

VW Golf SV

VW Golf SV

Space is what it is really all about. The boot is 500 litres to start off easily passing the pram and golf bag tests, but the rear seats also fold down and slide enlarging the cargo area to over 1 500 litres. Access is superb, as is leg room at the back. Get the full list of specifications at:

Golf-SV-180-dashFuel consumption is an excellent 6.2 litres/ 100km in mixed driving. My route includes town, highway and a ten level parking garage.

These new generation petrol engines are more economical in town than the diesels generally, it appears. Performance is also peppy. Even the 1.2 will do the job on the Highveld due to the clever engine management and turbocharging.

The 1.4 we drove has ample power and accelerates effortlessly from 80 to 120km/h. The safety and handling systems built into the car are comprehensive, delivering superb safety and handling with a fun element.

You can quite easily kid yourself you are driving a Golf, its road manners are that good.

Golf-SV-093-obliquePerhaps it is good to think of the SV as a Golf with a big boot, but in reality it is a very different car with a taller stance and much more legroom and space in general. The stance means that the seats are higher off the ground making it easy to get in and out. The driving position is really comfortable.

The model we tested was the TSi Comfortline with a list price of R325 200. The range starts with the 1.2 Trendline at R292 500 and tops off with the 2.0 TDi DSG at R359 200.

The full price list is at:

As you will have seen, typical of most German manufacturers the options list is long and expensive, and the basic car is just that; basic.

The real competition to this car is all more expensive. Especially the Germans from Stuttgart and Munich. So in effect the SV is good value for money and gives you more space than a hatch but does not significantly drop in performance or style.


The service plan is for 5 years or 90 000km, but ask to upgrade to the maintenance plan.

Also look at the VW Touran, Mercedes Benz B series (R390k +), BMW 2 Series Active Tourer (R380k +), Citroën C4 Picasso and Opel Meriva.

Ford B-MAX arrives in SA

The Ford B-MAX has finally made it to our shores.

Based on Ford’s global B-car platform – shared with the Fiesta – the B-MAX is Ford’s idea of a premium compact multi-activity vehicle. So its a MAV not a MPV!

Ford B-MAX

Ford B-MAX

“The new Ford B-MAX really challenges traditional small car thinking, and pioneers a concept not attempted by any other manufacturer,” says Tracey Delate, General Marketing Manager, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “Its ingenious design opens the doors – quite literally – to exciting new ideas about what’s possible with a compact vehicle.”

ford-b-max__side_door_openSome interesting aspects:

Unobstructed entry and exit with hinged front and sliding rear doors integrates the traditional central pillar structure into the front and rear doors, rather than forming part of the bodyshell itself.

The flexible seating system features 60/40 split rear seats that can be folded flat with a simple “one-hand, one-motion” mechanism. The front passenger seat can also be folded, creating an extensive flat load floor from front to rear.

ford-b-max__dashThe entry-level B-MAX Ambiente 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine produces 74kW while the mid-range Trend and range-topping Titanium derivatives boast a 92kW output. Both versions feature a peak torque of 170Nm. Combined cycle fuel consumption is rated as low as 4.9 l/100km (says Ford) matched to a CO2 emissions figure of 114 g/km for the 92kW models.

Ford SYNC® voice control, device integration and connectivity interface.

Equipment includes Sony audio system, keyless entry, Power Start Button, Ford MyKey® functionality, Rear View Camera and leather-trimmed upholstery on the range topping model.

There are three trim levels.

B-Max 1.0 EcoBoost Ambiente R 221 900
B-Max 1.0 EcoBoost Trend R 246 900
B-Max 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium R 271 900
Metallic Paint R 750 R 658

The B-MAX is sold with a 4-year/120 000km Comprehensive Warranty, 4-year/60 000km Service Plan, 3-year/unlimited km Roadside Assistance and 5-year/unlimited km Corrosion Warranty.



Full road test to follow.

Chevrolet Orlando LS 1.8 review

chev_orlando-thumbChevrolet Orlando

GM’s smaller multi purpose vehicle, the Orlando manages to be a little van, 7 seater bus and car all in one. And all in a neat, versatile  package. It would make a great taxi.

Think of it as an upmarket Avanza. It is slightly wider and longer than the Avanza and feels much more solid.

In SA we only get only one model. But GM has chosen it well. It is a 1.8 petrol manual with standard but good hard working trim and a good specification level.

Interior Chevrolet Orlando

Interior Chevrolet Orlando

The vehicle has 16 different seating combinations, meaning  you really can fit seven adults into the Orlando or when in van mode, a driver and a jumbo load.

Passengers will find the inside of the Orlando is surprisingly roomy with more than enough leg- and headroom. Access to the third row is OK, but headroom a little limited.

Load volume at the back is between 100 and 800 litres depending on how you have folded the seats. Fold down the rear seats and you’ve got a 1499 litre load space.The  cabin feels like a car, with neat finishes and a plethora of map pockets, armrests with cup holder, and quite a few nooks and crannies to keep things in.

Power windows for driver and front passenger are standard as is a good sound system, cruise control and power steering.

The interior is upmarket compared to the cheaper Avanza and is pleasantly finished reminding one of the Cruze, its sedan sibling.

Chevrolet Otlando

Chevrolet Otlando

The Orlando does not lack safety and security systems.  It comes with anti theft alarm and immobiliser.

An  ‘Electronic Stability Control’ system provides traction control to help avert slides, by automatically applying corrective braking to appropriate wheels to help you quickly regain control. It also has ABS and electronic brake distribution with an additional brake assist system.

Driving the Orlando is easy and pleasant. All round visibility is surprisingly good and it handles well in the context of an MPV. Road holding is above par for this category. The Cruze roots shine through.

Chevrolet Orlando 1.8 LS

Chevrolet Orlando 1.8 LS

GM claims 7.2l/100km but work on 8 in general and around 6 on the open road, which is very acceptable.

Priced from R287 000 you get real value for money.

The Warranty & Roadside Assistance package is  5 years/120 000km.  The Service Plan is for 3 years /60 000km.

Also look at the Toyota Avanza 1.3  from R190 000, Suzuki Ertiga 1.4 starting at around R160 000, VW Caddy 1.6 from R190 000 or the Nissan NV200 1.6 Combi R254 800.

First published in Small Business Connect.

Toyota Verso review

Verso_thumbToyota Verso

The Toyota Verso is an amazingly versatile car with the space of a little van. It is broadly speaking part of the Corolla/ Auris family, but altogether bigger where it counts.

It is a very practical design and actually competes with the Renault Scenic, Nissan Livina, Mazda CX-5 and similar vehicles.

Its a 5 door, 7 seater MPV, packed with all the equipment and components you may need. From cruise control to electrically Verso_topadjustable mirrors, automated climate control, fully adjustable multi-function leather steering wheel, fully adjustable driver’s seat, Bluetooth and all the hard audio connection points, remote locking and alarm.

There are three engine choices. A 1.6 petrol producing 97kW @ 6400rpm and 160Nm @ 4400rpm, The 1.8 putting out a respectable 108kW @ 6400rpm and 180Nm @ 4000rpm. The diesel does 91kW @ 3600rpm and 310Nm between 1600-2400rpm.

The Verso comes with an anti-lock Braking System as well as electronic brake distribution and hill-start assist control and an active stability system.

The new Toyota Verso is a thoroughly modern up-to-date car with all the safety and performance systems fitted as standard.

Verso_interiorThe interior of the Verso is massively improved over the previous model. It has a very pleasant cabin which is fully equipped and well laid out.

There are storage compartments, cup holders and door pockets wherever possible. You could lose stuff in here!

The seats are comfortable and fold in 32 different ways with individual seats in the second and third rows and second-row slide adjustment of 195mm. Load space is measured as 1.5m long and 1.4m wide with the seats folded flat if you need a van like load bay.

The fit and finish of the interior is superb. Verso_dash

Toyota claim average fuel consumption of 6.5 l/100km for the 1.6, 7.1 l/100km for the 1.8 CVT and a measly 5.5 l/100km for the 2.0 D-4D diesel. These are a little optimistic. Expect around 1 l/100km more. Fuel consumption is much better than the previous models.

Performance is good. I enjoyed driving the car and having all that space available. It is one of those cars that will grow on you.

As with so many cars these days the spare wheel is a space saver.

Toyota have succeeded in improving the Verso in every area and giving it a handling and performance edge in never had.

The Verso range cost from R293 300 to R340 000. Whatever you buy, you will be getting value for money. I personally like the 1.8 TX automatic at R336 000.

Warranty is 3 years / 100 000 km and service intervals are 15 000km. The service plan is 5 years / 90 000 km.


First published in Business Connect

Toyota Avanza SX 1.5 Automatic review

Toyota Avanza SX 1.5 Automatic

Avanza is a plain but almost nimble inner city transport machine. It turns on a tickey, pulls away quite briskly and stops rapidly. The SX Avanza has a 4 speed box and a 4 cylinder 1.5 litre petrol engine putting out 76kW @ 6000rpm and a torque of 136Nm @ 4400.

Bearing in mind it is a smaller vehicle it takes quite a load, 7 people or especially if you take the rear bench seat out a huge boot with a cabin wide door and a conveniently low cargo floor.

In short, the Avanza is a great little commercial vehicle well suited to city life.


The SX is a seven seater with three rows of seats finished in what looks like durable cloth. The seats are not very adjustable.

Equipment includes manual air conditioner, electrically adjustable windows and mirror, power steering, courtesy lamps with door ajar warning and an entry lamp in the door, speakers but no radio. The latter cost around R600 from a car radio dealer.

Interior finishes tend to hard plastics. The cabin is not unpleasant, it is just very functional. The interior of a workhorse, which it is. There are a large number of nooks and crannies to put things. Even a flip down spectacle holder in the roof.

The air conditioner is very effective. The controls feel a little flimsy and will take a little getting used to.


Its a box on wheels. The overall impression is easy on the eye, with a balanced relationship between the various elements. It is available in six colours.

Driving impression

The Avanza is a really good little runabout. The automatic gearbox as tested is very effective. The steering is light and easy to get used to. Acceleration is surprisingly good.

For a commercial vehicle the Avanza is quite nimble and not unpleasant to drive. Just take corners carefully.

ABS brakes are fitted as standard. Ground clearance is good at 200mm.

Toyota claim fuel consumption of  7.2 litres/100km. I think you will battle to improve on 8 litres per 100km, and nearer to 9 in town.


The interior is a little plastic. There is just too much hard plastic. It is a little noisy, but not overly so.

A strong cross wind tends to push this somewhat slab sided little van all over the place.

I personally feel it is a little narrow. The upside of its small dimensions is it fits everywhere.


The Avanza is a practical runabout workhorse which seats seven adults in comfort.

It really works as a tough, simple car which can seat 7 people and give years of trouble free motoring for a very reasonable price.
It can be used as a van when the seats are folded away.


Priced from R157 500 for the base S range to R204 200 for the top TX model.

The SX automatic as tested is R191 500.

Standard warranty is 3 years/100 000km. The service plan is 4-year/60 000 km.

Hyundai H1 Multicab 2.5 VGTi 6 Seater Diesel 5-spd automatic van review

Hyundai H1 Multicab 2.5 TDi

As Hyundai says: Big on Space. Big on comfort. Big on features.

All the H1 models drive and handle like a car. My wife raves about driving them. She says they are so very easy to drive. Not intimidating at all. The Multicab is a kind of blend of a van and a minibus. Almost a doublecab, on steroids.

There is a solid firmly mounted bulkhead with a large window between the cargo area and the passenger area. The front, or passenger area will seat 5 adults in comfort although the front row can theoretically seat a sixth passenger.

The step and grab handles make it easy to get into and to exit. It has sliding doors on both sides for the rear seats.

The cargo area of 2.5m² has a robust rubbery finish on most surfaces with burglar bars on the windows for added security. Dimensions are 1 585(l) x 1620(w) x 1350(h). Four bicycles fit in the back with ease.

The H1 has airbags upfront, ventilated disc brakes with ABS, EBD and ESC, together with the solid bulkhead ensures  safety is looked after.

I can see why the H1 is enjoying very good sales, and why the Multicab should also do so.

The good

As with all the H1’s we have tested the build quality is excellent. No rattles or squeaks and doors close with a satisfying solid sounding klunk.

The interior has a variety of cup holders, two glove boxes, electric windows, excellent air-conditioner with under seat vents, courtesy lights for the doors and at the back, a good sound system and an easy to use effective sound system which is MP3/USB/Aux/iPod compatible.

Visibility is especially good. The seats are comfortable and the drivers position is highly adjustable. Not only is their a lot of space but there is a feeling of space too. The H1 will be a very good touring vehicle.

The switchgear and controls feel solid and work well, being very intuitive.

The exterior styling is very clean and pleasing to the eye. The H1 looks solidly planted on the road.

The bad

Some interior finishes are a little hard.

The bulkhead cannot be removed quickly to accommodate longer loads so the longest effective length that can be put into the cargo area is about 1.8m.

Driving impression

The H1 drives like a big car. It is easy to park because you can see all 4 corners and the steering is light. The 2.5 diesel engine is both frugal and responsive with 125kW of power and 392Nm of torque at 2 000 giving  a top speed of 180km/h and easy cruising at the legal limit. Hyundai claims a 0 to 100 time of 14.9 seconds and 60 to 100km/h of 8.7 seconds, which is quite nippy. Fuel consumption is around 9.8litre/km in general use, but drops on the open road to 8.

Their is relatively little body roll for a car of this size and height. The brakes work well and are predictable.

Both my wife and I enjoyed driving the H1. Although it is a big vehicle, it is urban friendly.


The H1 Multicab is a winner, waiting to be discovered. It is one of the most practical pleasant cars I have tested. I recommend the diesel version.

The H1 comes with a 5 Year / 150 000 km Manufacturer’s Warranty, 5 year / 90 000 km service plan and 5 Year / 150 000 km roadside assistance.


The automatic diesel model as tested costs R 339 900.00. The petrol model is cheaper at R 279 900.00 and is a manual only.