Nissan Micra 2018 review

Nissan Micra

When is a Micra not a Micra? When it is the new Nissan Micra. Then its more like a Renault Clio.

Nissan Micra 2018

The new Micra is much bigger than the original Micra and is effectively the same size as its sibling , the present Clio and a B segment contender. So, new car, new shape, new size. Only the name remains the same.

I personally like the more assertive look and additional space.

The rear three quarter view is particularly striking and pleasing to the eye. The rear door handles are integrated into the black C pillars and almost disappear. The whole rear design has been well executed. The new look in front is more serious and is also a big improvement on the previous model.

The noise levels in the cabin are more than acceptable as is the general ambience. It has a premium feel to it.

The two tone interior is pleasing to the eye and very functional, except for the driver’s seat which I found tended to numb the nether regions on slightly longer drives.

The infotainment system is simple but up-to-date and very easy to use. Bluetooth connectivity for the phone is easy to set up and works flawlessly and is very clear. The air conditioner is not very powerful but will cool the car down after a while and then keep it cool.

The fully functional steering wheel is just right as is the weight of the steering. The clutch, gears, brakes are all well set up except in a particular situation, more of which below.

Fuel consumption will vary between 5L/100km on the open road to slightly over 7L/100km in general driving. Going uphill is a different kettle of fish. The engine only delivers really usable power around 3000 rpm to about 4500. As a result you have to change down probably two gears on a hill to get the revs up so that you can actually go up the hill, and in so doing your consumption will shoot up to 16L/100km or more.

This is perhaps due to the Renault-sourced 0.9-litre, 3-cylinder turbopetrol engine which offers 66 kW and 140 Nm of torque, mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, just not having enough grunt.

The new Micra comes well equipped on the safety front with 6-airbags, ABS with EBD, Electronic Stability Control, Hill Start Assist and ISOFIX child seat mounts.

The boot is okay and the space for the spare wheel will accommodate a full spare if you don’t like a marie biscuit space saver spare. The new emergency wheels are very good though and will allow you to drive a few hundred km at a safe 80km/h.

Pricing starts at R233 500 for the base model, the mid-level Acenta costs R257 500, while the top-of-the-range model is R272 400. I think the mid-range model hits the sweet spot.

Cars in the same category include the Mazda 2, Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, Toyota Yaris, Hyundai i20, Kia Rio and Peugeot 208.

You get a 6-year/150 000 km warranty and a 3-year/90 000 km service plan thrown in.

Advertisements

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.

Peugeot 3008 GT-line reviewed

Peugeot 3008 GT-line THP 1.6 Auto

Peugeot 3008 GT-line THP 1.6 Auto

Comfortable. Capable. Chic.

That about sums up the Peugeot 3008 GT-line, except perhaps one should mention it is absolutely loaded with a full-house of tech and it offers good space for a family of four and fuel consumption figures are pretty good. The 3008 must be close to a perfect family car.

All the new Peugeots are good looking cars and the 3008, especially the GT-line is no exception. The flowing lines and proportions are pleasing to the eye. The interior is also successful but different. Inside and out the styling is top drawer, functional, efficient and easy on the eye.

I particularly like the small steering wheel, the beautifully stitched seats, the double row of control buttons (which means the i-cockpit touch screen need not be used all the time) and the general ambience of the cabin.
The interior is very close to being class leading, especially at the front. Brilliant use of space and ergonomic design means that the impression is one of space and comfort.

The i-cockpit infotech system is very up-to-date offering a full digital display which is highly personalisable and offers a user-friendly digital dashboard.

This segment of the car market is a little difficult to pin down as its edges are very blurred. These cars are something between a crossover, sports utility vehicle, softroader and a truncated station wagon. Or even an expanded hatch! Take your pick. Let us call the 3008 a crossover.

On the softroader side the competition includes the Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson and Nissan Qashqai. Other crossover/ SUV type vehicles include the Audi Q3, Mazda CX5, VW Tiguan, Haval H6 C, Honda CR-V and Ford Kuga. I am not to sure what to call the BMW X1, a jaded motoring scribe said the first generation was a mistake. But, let’s step on.

Most of these cars are really on-road cars, as is the 3008.

Peugeot 3008 GT-line THP 1.6 Auto

The 1.6 turbo-petrol engine, coupled to the six-speed auto box, is just right for this car giving the right balance between performance and consumption. Peugeot claim 7 L/100km average consumption and a top speed of 201km/h. I don’t know about the top speed but I can say acceleration feels almost nippy and cruising at the legal limit feels effortless. I got a credible 8.4 L/100km. This refined engine is the gem of the PSA stable and is also used in the 308.

With this car Peugeot appear to have taken a giant leap in quality control and engineering. It always feels poised and willing.

As is to be expected the 3008 has a full suite of active and passive safety features.

The 3008 GT-line costs R519 000 which includes a very full specification advanced tech suite and the usual three year or 100 000 km warranty with a 4 year or 60 000 service plan.

Ford EcoSport revisited

When most people think of a compact sports utility vehicle, the EcoSport will come to mind. It was one of the original compact SUV’s.
With the facelifted EcoSport, Ford has wisely not messed with a winning formula. They updated the electronic systems and refreshed the interior. The rest they left mostly as is.

Ford EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium

“Ford has sold more than 45 000 EcoSport units in South Africa since it was launched in 2013, and it has been a major player in its segment ever since thanks to its great looks, impressive space and versatility, superb all-round performance and exceptional value for money,” says Tracey Delate, General Manager, Marketing at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. He has a point.

What else is there?

For a few rand more the super competent Mazda CX3 is a really good smaller SUV. I am a big fan of the rugged and practical Renault Duster and the quirky Jeep Renegade. Opel offers the Mokka, Honda the interesting BR-V and Toyota the Rush. Peugeot’s 2008 is a different almost left-of-field option.
Newcomers include the Hyundai Kona and Creta, Haval H2 and soon to be launched VW T-Cross.

Whats new?

Ecosport now gets floating central touchscreens up to 8-inches based on Ford’s brilliant SYNC®3 system, which provides connectivity with Navigation, Cruise Control with Adjustable Speed Limiter.
Electronic Stability Control, a minimum of six airbags and rear parking sensors are all standard across the range.

Ford Ecosport

The interior is now more up-market and user-centric, but will still be familiar. I particularly like the 12v power point at the back, the two USB ports in front and the blue lighting at the base of the central cup holders.
The new seat designs are more comfortable (and supportive) for both front and rear occupants and the front seats nogal get warmers.

New alloy wheels complement the rugged, sporty character, and are offered in Gunmetal grey five-spoke 16-inch versions on the Trend series, or striking 17-inch rims on the Titanium. I prefer the former with slightly fatter 55 ratio tyres.

The adjustable boot floor has a new height adjustable floor that can be raised to provide concealed storage, or lowered to increase luggage capacity to 334 litres. It is a kind of shelf.

Driving safety has been stepped up with standard fitment of Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Traction Control (TC), as well as Roll Stability Control (RSC) in the EcoBoost range, that adjusts engine torque and braking to help drivers maintain control. Additionally, the 1.0 EcoBoost-powered models gain Hill Launch Assist (HLA) that makes pulling off on steep inclines easier, along with Ford’s Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).

 

Trend and Titanium versions offer either six-speed manual gearbox or the latest-generation six-speed automatic box. The fuel consumption during the time I drove a Titanium automatic model was just over 8 L/100km. With a light touch, under 8 L/100km should be easily achievable and nearer 5 on the open road.
The car never feels under powered or unstable. It is really user friendly.

Prices start at R 264 500 for the base 1.5 TDCi Ambiente manual diesel model. The 1.0 EcoBoost Trend six-speed manual is priced at R 287 500 and the automatic at R300 700. The Titanium automatic at R339 800 is R12 000 more than the manual. The later all turbo-petrol engines.

Ford Protect is a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A four-year/60 000km service plan is included.

Haval H9 reviewed

Be prepared to be surprised with the new big SUV from Haval.

Haval H9 2.0 Petrol 4WD Luxury

The H9 2.0 Petrol 4WD Luxury from Haval breaks new ground in our market. It is an apparently tough offroad capable, luxury seven-seater, real SUV with all the bells and whistles you could wish for. Let’s say it immediately. The H9 is by far the best Chinese vehicle I have ever driven. If it had a Toyota or Hyundai badge it would already be selling hundreds of units a month possibly. It really is that good. Watch this space.

I predict that in five years Haval will have the brand recognition and cachet which Hyundai so richly deserves and enjoys now. Already the H9 outperforms the Sant Fe in some areas, bearing in mind that the new big one from Hyundai has moved upmarket and grown a bit in size.

Competition for the Haval H9 is divided into two camps. Those with real 4×4 capability and softroaders.

Haval H9

The real offroaders include the Suzuki Grand Vitara, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota Prado and Fortuner, Ford Everest, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Isuzu mu-X.

Softroaders will include the Kia Sorento, Toyota Rav4, Discovery Sport, Nissan X-trail, VW Tiguan Allspace, Peugeot 3008 and Volvo XC60 AWD.

Looking at the list you can see that the competition is stiff in this segment, so value-for-money will be key.

Viewed from a little distance the H9 looks a bit like a cross between a Land Cruiser and a Patrol, so it looks the part, but it is technically more like a Fortuner. It is a big car but not out of proportion, more fit for purpose.

Haval H9 2.0 Petrol 4WD Luxury interior

Inside the Haval is impressive. The leather front seats offer both heating and cooling and are electrically adjustable, the driver’s eight ways. It is easy to set up a really comfortable driving position. The dash is well equipped and laid out, with an eight-inch touchscreen with satnav, personalisable LCD instrument cluster, three-way climate control and a good sound system. The drive mode controls are on the tunnel between the seats. It has a long list of standard features in both the luxury as well as safety departments. All-in-all an impressive cabin with high perceived quality levels.

You may wonder, can a Chinese brand deliver high quality? Well, Haval is part of GWM which sells a million vehicles a year and their Steed bakkies have been holding up well locally without many complaints from owners. They have around 35 dealers in place already and the list is growing rapidly. In the Cape they have dealers in Malmesbury, Claremont, Goodwood and Cape Gate.

The H9 only comes with a 2.0 L direct-injection turbo-petrol engine delivering 180kW and 350Nm through an eight-speed ZF gearbox and a 4×4 system with eight modes. Borgwarner provides the transfer case, Eaton the limited-slip differential and Bosch the electronic stability control system. Pretty big names backing the off-road performance. It is a pity they do not offer a turbo-diesel variant.

Haval H9

Expect fuel consumption of just under 12 L/100km unless you are off-road when all bets are off. The car is relaxing to drive due partly to the good driving position but also the good marriage between the drivetrain and engine. The H9 will make a Grand Tourer, especially if you are going to the game parks and wilder areas. On highway she just steams along happily at the legal limit.

Safety is taken care of by a full complement of active and passive safety systems.

If value-for-money is important to you, the H9 should be on your shopping list if you require real off-road capability.

For peace of mind the H9 comes with a five year or 100 000 warranty. The five-year or 60 000 service plan and a long and complete list of features is included in the R599 900 list price.

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.

Peugeot 208 GT-Line review

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peugeot 208 GT line ready to pounce

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

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

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

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

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

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