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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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

Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Comfortline Review

Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Comfortline

Polo is big in SA. I mean the car, Volkswagen’s small car to be specific.

We get two broad versions of Polo here, the new model is called Polo and the previous Polo gets a little makeover and is a little stripped down to be called the Vivo. We will be reviewing the Vivo, but first let’s take a look at the new Polo, and concentrate on the Comfortline, which we drove.

Volkswagen Polo

The sixth generation Polo is the first Polo based on the modular transverse matrix (MQB) A0 platform which has a 92mm longer wheelbase than the previous Polo (which is now the Vivo). The wheelbase, exterior length and width (by 69mm) have all grown while the car’s height remains nearly identical. This results in a sleeker look. And more space inside.

This new Polo looks really great inside and out. The styling department at VW has done a superb job, may I say, as always. It feels as big as a Golf 3 inside.

A new dashboard and cockpit layout puts this new model at the front of the pack, it is that good. A joy to behold.

VW Polo dashboard

Several dashpad colour trims are available; Limestone Grey Metallic on the Trendline and Comfortline, Deep Iron Metallic on the Highline and Velvet Red on the “beats” model which has a 300-watt sound system.

The dashboard and the centre console are slightly angled towards the driver.

This is the first Polo with digital instruments. The second generation of Active Info Display debuts in the new Polo. All key modules – except for the air conditioning unit – have been integrated on the upper cross-panel of the dashboard locating the infotainment system much higher than before into the driver’s direct line of sight.

This layout is excellent, and I can argue, class leading, but at a price.

In the top trims the new Active Info Display and the new 8-inch touchscreen are combined to form a modern, glass-encased functional unit.
The Active Info Display is an expensive option on the Comfortline and Highline models, though.

There are six packages, from the very basic Trendline, to the Comfortline, Highline, GTI, beats and R-Line.

The beats special edition is especially colourful and loud with, for example, the dashpad a hectic “Velvet Red”, a massive sound system by Dr. Dre.

In the Comfortline trim level, the Multi-function Display “Plus”, the Composition Colour infotainment system with six speakers, leather multi-function steering wheel, Driver Alert System and front and rear electric windows are included.

The swankier Highline gets additional features such as the Composition Media infotainment system, App Connect, Voice Control, Sport seats, Cruise Control with speed limiter and white LED ambient lighting (front doors and instrument panel).

New features for the Polo include the lane change system Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, semi-automated Park Assist system for exiting parking spaces, the proactive occupant protection system and a manoeuvre braking function, but these are optional extras which can cost quite a lot.

The 0ptions fitted to the car we drove include the following: Front armrest (R1 412), cruise control (R1 815), smoker’s package (R251), App Connect (R1 513), voice control (R756), Active Info Display (R8 675) Composition Media (R3 026) with iPhone interface (R1 513), light and sight package (R3 883), Discover Media (R12 104).
Total of optional extras fitted to the car reviewed: R34 398.
Park distance control is an option at R4 690. Really?

The boot is quite a bit bigger than the previous Polo at 350 L. As a general comment you could say it is a big, little car. It feels spacious.

The smallest TSI ( 3-cylinder, 999cc) for the new Polo has an output of 70 kW (at 5 000 rpm)and 175 Nm and is standard for both the Trendline and Comfortline. Even at the coast you run out of steam quite quickly, so it will be best to go for the 85kW engine option.
VW claims 4,5 L/100 km. I think that is very optimistic. An 8km stretch I drove in town returned 11L/100km but expect around 6 L/100km on average if you do not push on.

The real cost of the Comfortline we drove is R299 098. A difference of R34 398 to the basic price as listed below.
Recommended Retail Prices (VAT and emissions tax included)

1.0 TSI 70kW Trendline R 235 900
1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline R 264700
1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline DSG R 280700
1.0 TSI 85kW Highline R 286200
1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSG R 302200
All Polo models come standard with a 3 year/45 000km Service Plan,
3 year/120 000km warranty and a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty.

Also look at the Honda Jazz, Ford Fiesta, Suzuki Swift, Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio, Mazda 2 and Renault Clio. The Mazda 2 Individual, in particular, at R238 00 looks like a bargain in comparison.

Suzuki Ignis

Suzuki Ignis
Suzuki says the Ignis is “a small crossover with the big heart brings a breath of fresh air and innovation to the local small car market by linking the wieldy agility of a city runabout to the robust styling and stance of an all-terrainer.” It is a sort of small cheeky cross-over compact hatchback.

It is also safer than most of its competition, thanks to among others ABS and air bags.

Suzuki Ignis on Strand Beach.

Offered in GL and GLX versions, the Ignis features a spacious and well-equipped interior. Despite its compact exterior size, there is good legroom and headroom, while the boot offers 260 litres of cargo space, expandable to 469 litres with the rear seatback folded flat.
Standard items across all models include electric windows, remote central locking, air-conditioning, electric power steering, and an MP3-compatible CD sound system with USB port and 12V accessory power socket.
The bigger than you think interior is a funky modern space, with a two-tone black and white treatment creating a fresh ambience. The body colour is repeated in the door handles and the central tunnel.
Most functional items are standard with the options being mainly for style and individualisation. It also has more usable space than the competition.

Safety is a big plus with the Ignis, which has air bags, ABS and EBD brakes and proper safety elements like Total Effective Control Technology (TECT), which includes crumple zones that efficiently absorb the impact of a collision, a chassis that efficiently distributes the impact energy, and a rigid passenger safety cell.


With 180mm ground clearance and a power-to-weight ratio of 71,65 kW/ton you can go places slightly off the tar road. I found the car fun to drive although the clutch is a bit soft and there is no self-centring for the steering. Even so, I liked it.

Suzuki claims consumption of 4.9L/100km with the sporty 1.2 litre 4 cyl motor which has a, to me, delightful growl and it is very frugal.
The Suzuki Ignis 1.2 GLX costs R189 900

This is one of the best little cars available locally. And its cheap as chips for what you are getting. I highly recommend it.

Warranty of 3 years or 100 000km and a 30 000km service plan.
The competition includes the Mazda2, Ford Figo, VW up!, Smart ForFour, Kia Picanto and Honda Brio.

Haval H6 Coupe review

The Haval H6 C ( the C stands for Coupe) fits into the medium-SUV (family car) category, which together with the small-SUV category are the fastest growing segments in the market. Its direct competition in size and space are Mazda CX-5, Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage or Hyundai Tucson and Toyota Rav 4. Its price competitors are the smaller Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, Ford Ecosport, Suzuki Vitara and Mazda CX-3 to mention a few.

Haval H6 C

The H6 C has a little ace up its sleeve. Pierre Leclercq, the designer of the original BMW X5, penned the H6 C, which does not look derivative, but has proportions and a silhouette that appear sophisticated. You could say a bit of Audi up front, Evoque at the back and Ford Kuga in the middle. The car looks good and is well designed.

Haval H6 C interior

Inside the car looks quietly upmarket and smart in a subdued way and appears well screwed together, with the impression of quality and sophistication, both in the materials used and the way it has been put together.
The rear legroom is generous, the split seatback folds flat easily and the back seat has more space than its rivals with comfortable reclining seats, ISOFIX anchors, rear aircon vents, reading lights, and nice materials in the door trims.
Standard features across the range include dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers. The mid- and top-spec models also each boast an eight-way, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, while the flagship Luxury derivative adds a panoramic sunroof and Xenon headlamps.
On the transmission tunnel it has an Audi-style toggle, gear-lever and buttons, in the dash a large touchscreen (although the infotainment system is a little under-whelming), a lovely leather steering wheel and well-bolstered seats together with loads of cup and bottle holders and places to keep things complete the very pleasant cabin. I think the sun screen in the roof may not quite be up to our summer sun.

Haval has worked hard with the H6C to improve comfort and NVH levels adding to the impression of quality. One thing bothers me. When the doors are open the grab-handle is too far away and you have to really stretch to reach out and close the door. This is something you will get used to.
The steering is not too light, so the car feels planted, but as caradvice.com says of the steering: “odd electro-assisted steering, which feels artificial and overly resistant on centre for our tastes.” I could not agree more.
The H6 just soaks up bumps and road irregularities as a result of the damper force and spring rates being just right, making the car ride well. The model we tested rides on 19 inch alloys wearing Cooper tire 225/55 radials, but base models have 17 inch wheels shod with 225/65 tyres. The spare is a spacesaver. Interestingly the H6 comes with a fire extinguisher in the boot.


A five-star C NCAP rating gives peace of mind. The top spec models get 6 airbags but all the models get ABS, EBD and so on.
The 2.0 litre turbo-petrol engine develops 140kW of power and a healthy 310Nm of torque giving it a claimed fuel consumption of 9.8 L/100 km but expect to average around 12 L/100 km in real driving conditions, so it is quite thirsty.
The six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox from Getrag is nicely matched to the engine, or you can opt for a six-speed manual gearbox. For now only the front wheel drive versions are available here.
I found the all-round performance to be good. This Haval is well engineered.

Haval H6 C side

Standard features across the range include dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers. The mid- and top-spec models also each boast an eight-way, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, while the flagship Luxury derivative adds a panoramic sunroof and Xenon headlamps.
The H6 C is available in three trim levels: City, Premium, and Luxury.
You will struggle to find a better-specced SUV than this in this price range, or even for R100k more.
The H6 C is a good car, well equipped and well priced. It appears to be well built too.
The prices are as follows:
2.0T MT City 4X2 – R329 900, 2.0T MT Premium 4X2 – R339 900, 2.0T MT Luxury 4X2 – R359 900, 2.0T DCT City 4X2 – R359 900, 2.0 DCT Premium 4×2 – R369 900
All H6 C’s have a very good five-year/100 000km warranty and a five-year/60 000km service plan.

Mitsubishi ASX review

Mitsubishi ASX

The ASX fits right into the small familiy SUV / crossover segment which includes the Mazda CX-3, Suzuki Vitara, Honda HR-V, Nissan Qashqai, Ford EcoSport, Renault Captur and Audi Q2.

So, lots of cometition but somehow the ASX stands out with the CX-3 and possibly the Qashqai.

I liked the ASX. Right size, right performance, right fit and finish.

Nic Campbell, General Manager of Mitsubishi Motors South Africa, says: “We have to address the current affordability needs of our customers. Today’s economy often forces buyers to opt for lower-spec vehicles, but our new ASX 2.0 GL CVT derivative offers the comfort and efficiency of Mitsubishi’s CVT transmission as well as its impressive standard specification in a truly attractive package. When you consider Mitsubishi’s world-class safety ratings, the new ASX 2.0 GL CVT is easily the best sub R400 000 vehicle on the market.”

He has a point or two.

The updated interior has also gone upmarket.

Luxury features include Bluetooth with voice control, cruise control, a multi-function steering wheel, electric windows, air conditioning, rain-sensing wipers, rear park distance control and automatic lights as standard on all models. GLX and GLS derivatives offer a full-length panoramic glass roof, keyless operation, a full colour touch-screen infotainment system, heated leather seats in the front, and an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, as well as a rear-view camera.

The new Mitsubishi ASX line-up consists of five derivatives all featuring the frugal and  reliable 2.0 MIVEC petrol engine. This engine is equipped with Mitsubishi’s  Valve Timing Electronic Control System (MIVEC) and multi-point injection that produces 110 kW at 6 000 rpm and 197 Nm of torque at 4 200 rpm. Power is delivered to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox or CVT transmission with six pre-programmed gear steps.

The system works well.

Mitsubishi ASX interior (Photo: Danita du Plessis)

The ASX is one of the safest vehicles in its class and has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. All ASX models feature Mitsubishi’s proprietary Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) body shell, seven airbags, ISOFIX child restraint mountings and a range of dynamic safety systems that include ABS, electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and emergency brake assistance (BAS).

In addition to the above-mentioned specification, the Mitsubishi GLS derivatives feature LED running lights, electronic active stability and traction control (ASTC) and hill start assist (HSA) as standard.

The car feels planted on the road and has the power to do what you expect. In short, it is a highly competent package and pleasant to drive.

Prices

2.0 MIVEC GL 5-speed M/T R364,900
2.0 MIVEC GL 6-speed CVT R399,900
2.0 MIVEC GLX 5-speed M/T R399,900
2.0 MIVEC GLS 5-speed M/T RF R414,900
2.0 MIVEC GLS 6-speed CVT RF R434,900

ASX is sold with a comprehensive 5-year / 90 000 km service plan and 3-year / 100 000 km manufacturer’s warranty.