Opel Grandland Reviewed

Opel Grandland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Opel MOKKA X 1.4T Cosmo 6AT

Opel MOKKA X 1.4T Cosmo 6AT

Opel Mokka X 1.4

Opel Mokka X 1.4

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

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

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

Opel Mokka X dashboard

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

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

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

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

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

Opel Mokka X 1.4

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

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

Prices look like this:  Latest click here.

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

Opel Driving Dynamics advanced driving course

Opel Driving Dynamics advanced driving course
The advanced on-road driving skills course presented by Yokohama Driving Dynamics at Gerotek is something I have wanted to attend for quite a while now.

Opel Adam S on the skid pan at Gerotek

Opel Adam S on the skid pan at Gerotek

A day at Gerotek with the Opel training team of Marius Janse van Rensburg and Barry Ingle is the stuff of petrolhead dreams.
High speed oval, skidpan manoeuvres, development track runs are all in a day at the on-road driving skills course.
So. Why would you want to spend a day driving fast; losing control, on purpose and practicing high speed lane changes on a very slippery wet surface, nogal; when y0u could, well, read a book, or mow the lawn.

Let me tell you.

You will learn so much about your own driving style and about being a better driver that you will kick yourself for not doing the course earlier. Besides which, its a whole load of fun.
Here’s another good reason. Some insurance companies reduce your premium on proof of attending an advanced driving course.

Marius, our instructor.

Marius, our instructor.

The facilities at Gerotek are simply brilliant. From the lapa where you have lunch and attend the morning briefing to the various tracks and skidpans, everything is top class.
The fleet of Opel cars, from Astra OPC to Adam S to Mocha, provide a car for every taste. I really enjoyed driving the Adam S round the tight development track.
My day on the Yokohama Driving Dynamics driving skills course which was sponsored by Opel started with a briefing which covered the basics of attitude, awareness and defensive driving principles.
We then moved on to the skid pan where we spent the rest of the morning practicing high speed emergency lane changes, regaining control of a vehicle and correcting over- and under steering.
After lunch we went to the development track where we learned about steering, gearing, braking and cornering. We then did 4 sets of 3 laps in the different cars during which the instructors helped us to improve our driving.
The cherry on top was the high speed oval where we workshopped seating positions and steering techniques. The team then demonstrated braking and the distances involved at the various speeds. This was quite an eye opener.

Opel Astra braking hard.

Opel Astra braking hard.

Our final exercise was a set of three 2 lap runs around the oval at high speed. Scary stuff. Its amazing how one develops a kind of tunnel vision when you are on the steep slope on the banked corners. The armco barrier looks very close. I got new respect for Nascar drivers.
During the day we discussed the K53 rules in the context of today’s cars and best practice. Some of the rules are no longer correct. For example K53 says: When coming to a stop, the brake pedal shall be depressed before disengaging the clutch, in order to prevent coasting. In other words K53 tells you to first use the clutch then brake. With modern systems (and at speed) its far better to engage the brakes first and then the clutch. It’s high time K53 was revised.
opel-5-braking-distancesIn South Africa we experience 23.5 accidents per 100 000 people, while the international norm is 17.4, and its only 9.2 in developed countries. Just as scary there is a death every 37 minutes on our roads. 80 percent of the deaths on the country’s roads comprise of adults and males between the ages of 19 and 34. The safest time to travel is between 01:00 and 06:00.
The normal training schedule will be something like this:
08:30 Theoretical presentation
10:00 High speed oval
11:00 Ride and handling
12:00 Straight track
13:00 Lunch in lapa
14:00 Skidpan
16:30 Debrief
The one day Opel Driving Dynamics advanced driving course costs R2250, which includes the cars, the training and lunch.
The Yokohama Isuzu Off-road one day course costs R1140 and the weekend course R3420.
It is best to contact them by email on info@drivingdynamics.co.za, or alternatively phone the office on 011 431 2000.

The grid at the development track

The grid at the development track

Opel Corsa Sport review

Opel Corsa Sport

OPEL-Corsa-Sport-117-thumbOpel in South Africa are positioning themselves as the small German luxury car brand.

The (micro) Adam, the (small crossover) Mokka, are brand new models.

The Corsa is the small Opel that the SA public has known and largely loved the last few years.

This new Sport model brings it in line with its younger siblings.

Opel Corsa Sport

Opel Corsa Sport

I have a problem with describing the car we tested as a ‘sport’ model, although it certainly looks the part. The Corsa Sport is a pleasant car to drive and has good roadholding and enough power to drive normally. It just does not feel overtly sporty or precise. The 4-cylinder, 1.4 Turbo ECOTEC engine will give you 100km/h in 9.6 seconds and reach a top speed of 204km/h on paper, so it is no slouch. To me, with three adults on board it did not feel planted on the road. It was a bit wishy washy, for a sport model.

It has a City mode button which lightens the steering, which coupled with the park sensors make city driving a breeze. In fact, the Corsa Sport comes comprehensively equipped. You would not need to get anything extra.

Opel-Corsa-Sport-seatsThe seats in the Corsa look great but seem to be sub-par. After even just an hour behind the wheel your back knows about it. A passenger in the back seat also commented how uncomfortable it becomes after a while. Otherwise the interior is well laid out and pleasant and offers reasonable space and practicality.

The intellilink audio system coupled to a 7″ touch screen is pretty advanced and features Siri Eyes Free which recognises your voice so you can make calls, play music, send or listen to text messages and emails using voice instructions.

Corsa Sport is also well equipped in the safety department with six airbags, ABS with EBD, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control, Straight Line Stability (SLS) and Brake Assist System (BAS). The headlights are exceptionally good.

Also look at the Suzuki Swift Sport, Volkswagen Polo, Hyundai i20, Renault Clio, Ford Fiesta and Mazda2.

Cost

Corsa 1.0T Essentia – R185 500
Corsa 1.0T Enjoy – R216 200
Corsa 1.4 Enjoy Auto – R216 500
Corsa 1.0T Cosmo – R236 300

Car as tested: Opel Corsa 1.4T Sport – R255 200

Corsa Essentia Option Pack 1: Radio with Bluetooth & USB, AC – R12 200
Corsa Essentia Option Pack 2: IntelliLink, AC, 15” alloy rims – R15 600
Corsa Enjoy Option Pack 1: IntelliLink – R4000
Corsa Enjoy Option Pack 2: IntelliLink, Advanced park assist 2 – R8 000
Corsa Cosmo and Sport Option Pack 1: Advanced park assist 2, side blind zone alert – R5000

Warranty

Prices include Opel’s 5-year/ 120 000 km warranty and a 3-year/ 60 000 km service plan.

OPEL-Corsa-Sport-136-ass

 

Opel Meriva 1.4T Enjoy review

Opel Meriva 1.4T Enjoy

Opel Meriva

Opel Meriva

This ‘new’ Meriva is very practical and it has the typical Opel oomph. The little turbo motor performs.

Looking at the car it looks pretty normal, almost boring. Until you discover what it is all about. The Meriva is a very clever package.

The engineers thought long and hard and have designed a delightful and practical car that delivers much more than it promises at first glance.

The latest Meriva will make a good mom’s taxi, but at the same time would be a brilliant commercial taxi. Just like the London taxi’s of yore the rear doors open forward.

This turbo petrol Meriva packs quite a punch. It has loads of power especially after the turbo kicks in.

Opel Meriva is a box of surprises.

Opel Meriva is a box of surprises.

The interior is very well laid out and is a pleasant place to spend some time in.

For example. The centre bin between the front seats can be moved forward on rails to form an excellent arm rest. It also reveals extra storage for the rear occupants. There is a modular multi-level storage system with up to 32 storage possibilities.

The FlexSpace® seat system is brilliant.

The boot goes from biggish to minivan size. There is a flat ‘secret’ tray below the goods area, about 10 cm deep. All the stuff that normally lies around in a boot can be safely stowed in here out of the way and hidden from prying eyes. The rear seats fold completely flat to form a flat load bed behind the front row of seats. They even provide a carpet which covers the whole area. Its brilliant.

Opel_Meriva_dash

I found the clutch awful at first. Its hard and unforgiving. After a bit of stop start travel my knee was sore. Three days later I was used to it.

The Meriva is fitted with Straight Line Stability Control (SLS), which recognises any tendency towards instability under braking and adjusts the brake pressure for optimum straight-line braking stability under all road conditions.

The car also has Cornering Brake Control (CBC), which improves stability in bends by reducing the brake pressure of individual wheels.

It even has Drag Torque Control (DTC), which prevents loss of grip due to engine brake torque on icy roads if you live in the Malutis.

The Ecotec engine is very fuel efficient. GM claims 6.7l/100km. Work on 7 to 7.5l/100/km.

Opel_Meriva_boot

Also look at the Chevrolet Orlando,Toyota Avanza, Suzuki Ertiga and Nissan NV200.

The base price is R261 500. Warranted by General Motors South Africa for 5 years or 120,000 kilometres.

Opel Astra OPC

GM has added Opel’s performance Astra OPC, the most powerful production Astra produced to date, to its passenger vehicle range. The Astra OPC compliments the Corsa OPC in the Opel range in South Africa to offer buyers a high performance option in both the small and compact hatch sectors. This latest offering from OPC (Opel Performance Centre) is powered by a 206 kW turbocharged direct injection 2,0 litre engine with maximum torque of 400 Nm. This enables the Astra OPC to sprint from 0-100 km/h in just 6 seconds with an electrically governed top speed of 250 km/h.

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This latest high-performance turbocharged engine produces a healthy 104 kW per litre – power delivery that is in the realm of full blown competition engines and the highest specific power output per litre of any Opel petrol production car. This is 12% more than the previous Astra OPC with torque improved by 25%.

This sporty powerhouse of an engine is based on the latest Opel 2,0 litre engine architecture designed to offer more-for-less in terms of engine size and performance delivery. In keeping with this philosophy the new Astra OPC delivers its higher power and torque with fuel consumption that is reduced by 12% compared to the previous model and with CO2 emissions that are 14% lower. Average fuel consumption recorded by Opel engineers in tests is just 8,11 l/100km – a remarkable achievement for an engine with this level of performance. CO2 emissions are 189 g/km.

Wheels are 20” alloy fitted with 245/35 R20 tyres as standard. The specification of the gas filled dampers is to a unique OPC standard while all mounting bushings are of a stiffer specification than on the standard Astra. Springs are of a stiffer rate than those found across the Astra and Astra GTC range.

Opel Astra OPC                                                        R435,000

Renault Trafic 1.9 Dci van review

Renault Trafic 1.9 Dci

What does Opel, Nissan and Renault have in common. A van, that’s what. In Renault’s case it is called the Trafic.

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The Trafic is a medium size van with 6m³ of cargo space and a 1.2 ton payload. That is a very useful load. Access is from a sliding door on the left side and a double door at the back which swings open wide. The floor is low making it very easy to load and unload.

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Consumption

The 1.9 dCi turbodiesel engine delivers 74kW at 3 500 rpm and 240Nm. They claim a combined consumption of 7.9 litre per 100km, but a more likely average consumption 0f around 8.5 litre/100km can be expected. At 120km/h you will get around 7.4 litre/100km. The 90 litre tank gives you a good range. She climbs hills without any problems and accelerates well for a van.

Maximum towing weight unbraked is 750kg, braked 2 000kg.

The van is easy to drive and easy to use. Loading and unloading is easy due to the low floor height and the two large doors. The cabin is well laid out with comfortable seats, a good driving position and a number of storage shelves and bins. Radio, aircon, lights all work well and are easy to use.

Getting in and out of the van is a bit of an issue. The driver will tend to grab the steering wheel to hoist himself in as their is no ‘A’  pillar grip. The passenger also had a bit of a scramble.

Driving the Trafic is a breeze. Brakes work well, steering is accurate and she accelerates quite well.

Clutch and gears are easy to use. The 6 speed gearbox really helps to get cruising speed fuel economy.

I did not like the lack of a bulkhead or partition between the cab and the cargo area. Speaking of which. The finish in the cargo area is a little rough and ready. Most of the back is a single wall with just fairly flimsy braces holding everything in place. It would be a good idea to panel the interior with wooden or rubber strips and put non slip rubber on the floor.

The Trafic comes with a 6 year anti-corrosion warranty, a 5 Year / 150 000km mechanical warranty and a 5 year / 100 000km service plan.

Price

The basic price is R249 900. The Opel Vivaro, its direct competitor, costs around R252 000, and is available as either 1.9 DCi or a 2.0 petrol.

VW offers the Panel Van 2.0 TDI 75kW LWB at R255 877 but excludes a service plan which costs R9 404 for the 90 000km option. The Hyundai H1 at  R269 900 seems to be the most sturdy van and should be investigated before purchasing one of the others.

The big advantage of the Opel is the additional sliding door on the right and the bulkhead behind the seat between the load area and the cab. The Vivaro also has front fog lights. Both are built in the same factory and the diesel engines are the same units. It seems to me that the Opel may be the better deal. Drive both before deciding. Also consider which brand gives the better service in your area.