Audi A1 35 TFS1 review

The baby from Ingolstadt is quite a little charmer and feels sporty, smart and upmarket as befits any model sprouting the four rings of Audi.

The A1 just looks right, both on the outside and in the cosseting cabin. The styling is in my opinion spot on and the quality is, well, Audi. Its smart and feels premium. The new model builds and improves on the previous generation and won’t disappoint Audi fans.

Audi Ai 35 TFSi

The nose of the new models has been quite radically changed with a new bigger grille, model specific LED daytime running lights and other changes depending on the options selected. The car as a whole is quite a bit bigger than the original.

The performance and handling is sorted and feels sporty. It is clearly aimed for life in the city, although she will soak up the long road. If you are planning t overtake when the car is fully loaded it may be worth your while to select sport mode as the normal mode will be a little leisurely for some at the moment you floor the volume pedal.

The point is – this car is fun to drive anywhere, especially in Sport mode. Aficionados of the four rings brand will love the new baby from Ingolstadt.

 

The cabin of the A1 is top class and really well laid out. The dash is a little busy. but that is just quibbling. I don’t think you will have any complaints. The bright yellow trim may become a bit much but I kinda liked it. Gives the whole look a youthful zest. The Audi optional MMI display system is impressive and functional, if a little excessive.

The 1.5L turbo-petrol engine produces 110kW and a pretty good 250Nm through the tried and tested VW group 7-speed S tronic box to deliver a satisfying driving experience. I only managed to achieve 9L/100 km in town, but the long term average consumption of the car is 8L/100 km in mixed driving. With a heavy foot in Sport mode expect around 10L/ 100 km and if you really drive with economy in mind you may get 7L/ 100 km.

The car we drove has a total value of R602 500, which includes a long list of optional accessories to the value of R143 600. These include obvious extra accessories like a fancy Bang & Olufsen sound system at R9 500, special 18 inch alloy wheels at R15 600, MMI navigation plus limited Audi connect at R24 500, a black roof at R10 600 and park assist at R13 000.

Some not so obvious extras are the climate and cruise control at R10 300, powered external mirrors for R4 100, leatherette cover for handbrake lever an astounding R2 500, headliner in black at R3 000 and the leather steering wheel at R3 400.
The seats also cost more than standard and the virtual cockpit and smartphone interface is R9 900.

This means the bare car at R458 900 must be quite a plain bare bones affair. Do not judge the car by the pictures you see, especially the dash as it alone has been upgraded by about R45 000.

There are three models in the A1 Sportback range:
30 TFSi with a three cylinder 1L engine at R359 900 (same as standard T-Cross)
35 TFSi with four cylinder 1.4 engine at R458 900 (what we tested)
40 TFSi with four cylinder2.0L engine at R488 000 (driver’s delight)
These are quite basic cars at list prices so plan on adding R100 000 worth of equipment or finishes to the car of your choice as well as either the S-line pack or advanced spec level.

Alternatives include the Mazda3 Astina, Mini Cooper Hatch, as well as the BMW 118I, Honda Civic Hatch and VW Polo GTI with a bit of a stretch.

First published in AutoSold.

Audi Q3 S-line 35 TFSI S-tronic review

She is turbo blue. Very, very blue.

Audi Q3 S-line 35 TFSI S-tronic

She is seriously sassy and has a pair of hips to make das Bavarian Mädchen blush.

Audi’s Q3 is a thing of beauty, from the neatly ironed crease lines to her alcantara trimmings to her stunning dashboard with its oh so smart displays.

Altogether a great work of design. Although I must say I think her mouth is a little big, but let’s not quibble.

Let us also put the elephant in the room to pasture. What with the R152k optional extras fitted to our review car the sticker price is a little eye watering at three quarters of a million Rand, for a subcompact luxury crossover SUV designed for on-road use.

If you have the cash lying around and your heart says yes, you will enjoy this car.

Q3 enjoying the gravel in Betty’s Bay.

I found the engine somewhat laggy and the gearbox a little undecided, but if you are “rustig” and not in a rush, all is well.

Audi claims a 0-100 kph sprint time of 8.9 seconds and it’ll run to a top speed of 204 kph. The Q3 sits well on the road like all Audi’s do and the steering is satisfactory. I got around 7.5L/100km on the open road and around 12L/100km in town, partly perhaps because the little 1.4 engine which puts out 250Nm and 110kW, is working hard (but willingly) to move the relatively large body. Hopefully Audi will add the 2.0L engine soon to the line up. Now that will be a winner.

Audi have chosen wisely in the wheels department, the 18inch 235 x 55 tyres 100v from Hankook give just the right amount of feedback without becoming harsh. A very good compromise and just another example of how well thought out this car is from a design and styling point of view.

The cabin is a pleasure to be in. There are 3 trim levels: Standard, Advanced and S Line. The MMi (multimedia) selector wheel of previous Audis, which was good for inputting instructions when the car was bouncing along a road, has been removed. Personally I think the large touchscreen, good as it is, at the expense of real buttons is a bridge too far. It’s hard to hit the icons with a jiggling finger, however sharp the image may be. One tends to leave fingerprints on the screen as well. Thankfully the climate control retains actual knobs. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster is standard and includes all the information you really need.

The rear legroom is good, partly because the seats can slide backwards or forwards depending what your greatest need is – boot space or leg room. In fact the cabin feels quite roomy.

There are four equipment and two styling packages.

The Comfort package at R21 500 adds electric seats with 4-way support and heating, electrically opening and closing boot gate, and park distance control. The Technology package adds MMi navigation, virtual cockpit plus and ambient lighting at R33 500.

For R34 900 you can get the Sport Package which will give you 19 inch cast alloy wheels, 20-spoke V style, Alcantara/leatherette combination upholstery, headlining in black and  ports contour leather-wrapped steering wheel, 3 spoke, flat-bottomed, with shift paddles and multifunction plus.

Finally the S line Interior Package offers bespoke S line styling elements which add a distinctively sporty look to the interior for R15 900.The Black package changes bright trim to black while the parking package adds a 360° camera and park assist for R26 500.

Pricing

The basic trim level costs R565 000, the advanced line R585 000 and the S line R599 000.
A five-year or 100 000 maintenance and repair plan is included.

Cars offering similar specification or space include the VW Tiguan, Volvo XC40, Jaguar E-pace, Mercedes Bens GLA, Peugeot 3008, Mini Countryman, Kia Sportage and Mazda CX5.

PEUGEOT LANDTREK entering the One ton Pick-up segment later this year

Peugeot is entering the One ton Pick-up segment with the Landtrack later this year, just as Mercedes Benz is exiting with tail between the legs. Hopefully the French learnt a thing or two.

Peugeot Landtrack

It is based on the fundamentals of the segment says Peugeot: 3.5 t towing capacity, versatility, different body shapes, real off-road and overtaking capabilities with unbeatable robustness and ease of repair.

They say sub-sahara Africa is one of the initial launch areas, but give no indication of pricing.

I think the engines are borderline powerful enough for our market.

Diesel : 1.9L displacement and 111kW thanks to a variable geometry 16-valve turbocharger. Its torque of 350 Nm and 6-speed Getrag manual gearbox . It has chain timing to optimise maintenance costs. Roller rocker arms reduce noise, have higher speeds and less friction for less wear. This engine has a combined fuel consumption of 7.8L/100km,
Petrol : turbocharged with 2.4L displacement and a comfortable power output of 156kW and 320 Nm of torque combined with a 6-speed Getrag manual gearbox or a 6-speed Punch automatic gearbox with sequential, Sport or Eco modes.

The vehicle has a length of 5.33m for the double cab version and 5.39m for the single cab versions, all with a width of 1.92m.

The size of the cargo box is a central design element of the architecture and makes it possible to load:

2 “Euro-pallets” in Double Cab versions (1.63m x 1.60m x 500mm body and 1.22m wheel width),
3 “Euro-pallets” in Single Cab versions (2.43m x 1.60m x 500mm tipper and 1.22m wheel width).

For 4×4 versions, the front transmission is engaged using a dedicated thumbwheel to transmit some of the power to the front axle. This allows the driver to choose between 2 modes:

  • 4H (4 High speed) : for standard 4×4 use,
  • 4L (4 Low speed) short gear mode : thanks to a 2.7 to 1 reduction gearbox, an increase in torque at reduced speeds for driving in low-adhesion terrain or on steep slopes.

Finally, the rear differential is equipped with the eLocker system with automatic disengagement and provides extra traction when one wheel spins.

According to archywordlys Peugeot Landtrek is also not a completely independent design. It is based on the modern Changan F70 pickup truck introduced last year (Changan and PSA have a joint venture in China). The development of machines under the Chinese and French brands went in parallel, but the PSA joined the project later.

Renault Triber arrives

The Triber is a completely new car in South Africa.

It is a budget crossover 5-seater with an extra third row to make it a 7-seater if needed. You lose your boot though. The boot space is 625L in 5-seater mode. EasyFix seats allow for the 2 rear seats of the 3rd row to be completely removed to make a big boot. Interestingly there are separate aircon vent controls for the 2nd and 3rd rows.

The base or Expression model is quite basic and lacks the 8” touchscreen, rear speakers, side airbags, keyless entry, rear power widows, ECO mode, smartphone replication, LED headlights, electrical mirrors, and reverse parking camera which the other models have.

The Prestige enjoys an 8″ MediaNav Evolution touchscreen integrated with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Voice Command button and video playback on the screen, while a Smart Access Card for Keyless Entry and Stop/ Start functionality enable an easier driving experience.

The Triber is powered by the Renault 1.0 litre 3-cylinder turbo-petrol unit which generates 52kW with 96Nm torque. So do not expect much performance. Renault claims fuel consumption of 5,5L /100km. I think the Triber may battle a bit with seven up, especially up hills and at altitude. It appears that Renault is promoting the car as a five-seater and not as a seven seater, possibly because of the power to weight issue.

Pricing at launch is pretty good. The base Expression costs R164 900, the mid-range Dynamique is R174 900, while the ‘fancy’ Prestige is R189 900.

VW T-Cross 1.0 R-Line review

Very soon Volkswagen will offer a full range of SUVs, some will be soft roaders, others like the Tiguan, more capable off the beaten track.
Although the T-Cross is built in Spain, it is interesting that VWSA built 161 954 vehicles in 2019, which is the highest production volume the Uitenhage plant has achieved since it began manufacturing Volkswagen vehicles in 1951.

Of the 161 954 vehicles, 108 422 were manufactured for export and 53 532 were produced for the local market. The production volume consists of 131 365 Polos and 30 589 Polo Vivos.

The T-Cross is the entry level crossover in VWs SUV range. It is not really that capable offroad but on gravel, on the highway and especially in town it does a really good job. It does have a slightly higher road height at 180 mm but for now at least only front wheel drive and at the moment only the little 3 pot 999cc turbo-petrol mill doing duty with one performance level available for now, 85 kW with 200 Nm, more than capable for around town. A detuned 70kW version of this motor and a 1.5 TSI engine with 110kW are on the way. You can order one already.

 

VW T-Cross at Moulie Point

Things to like

  • Looks – she is certainly a looker
  • Size  especially rear leg room
  • Ride is good, but I would prefer 16″ wheels and higher 60 profile tyres
  • Good visibility even for a short driver
  • The cockpit layout in the R-Line is very pleasant and functional. The VW multi-function steering wheel is a joy to use.

 

Little niggles

  • Start button behind gear lever on left
  • Hard plastics
  • Small boot
  • No climate control only air-conditioner, only mentioning it because it is an expensive little car
  • With my driving style I found the car had an irritating pause before the power came on. Its as if it misses a beat.

The optional ‘Energetic Orange’ design package makes the T-Cross truly eye-catching for the very young at heart:

VW T-Cross

• Seat covers in ‘Diag’ design with seat centre and inner sections in Orange and Ceramique
• Décor in ‘Transition’ 3D design in Energetic Orange and Grey
• Design element in steering wheel in Energetic Orange
• Exterior mirror housings in Energetic Orange
• Black 18 inch ‘Cologne’ wheels with Hot Orange finish for T-Cross Highline

Pricing

Note the review car has a few optional extras:

  • KESSY Keyless entry
  • beats® Sound System
  • Park Package (Park Assist, Rear View Camera and Power-fold Mirrors)
  • Infotainment Package (Discover Media: 3D Map, App-Connect, Voice Control, Inductive Charging and Active Info Display)
  • LED Headlights and Rear View Camera
  • R-Line Exterior with 17-inch Manila alloy wheels

The Comfortline we drove costs R334 600 without the optional extras. The extras fitted to our test car cost R70 050, bringing the total cost to R415 035 including VAT.

The 1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSG® costs R365 000 and the 1.5 TSI 110kW R-Line DSG®  is priced at R403 500.

T-Cross side-by-side with a Polo. You can see it is taller, wider and rides substantially higher.

Competition

Renault Duster 1.5dCi TechRoad auto R332 900 ¬- Best buy
• Ford EcoSport 1.0T Titanium auto R357 300
Haval H2 1.5T Luxury auto R329 900 – Good option, facelift just launched
• Mahindra XUV 300 1.5 TD R324 999
Suzuki Vitara 1.4T GLX auto R399 900 – Solid alternative
• Kia Seltos 1.6 EX auto R371 999
• Hyundai Creta 1.6 Exec LE auto R397 900

The warranty for the T-Cross is still only 3 years or 120 000 km.
The small SUV/ crossover market segment is wide open. Take your time and go and test drive a number of cars before deciding, especially the three cars which have been highlighted.

 

 

Citroën is back in 2020

Just when you thought the car market was settling down to enjoy burning fossil fuels for the last lap before the new technology takes over a beloved old marque returns to our shores for a third time. The Citroën brand has officially re-launched in South Africa after exiting the country at the end of 2016. This may have something to do with the new assembly plant in Namibia or with Brexit, or both. Time will tell.

This time as part of the PSA group and as a sister brand to Peugeot and as such will be serviced at any Peugeot Accredited Dealership nationwide.

Style and space seem to be the cornerstones of the new range. The cars certainly look a little different.
The range initially includes three model lines: the C3 hatchback, C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross.

For peace of mind a five-year/100 000 km service plan is included across the range, along with a warranty of the same length. Citroën will share dealership space with its sister brand, Peugeot.

Copyright William CROZES @ Continental Productions

C3 hatchback

“With its unique body style, personalised features and connectivity, the new C3 is a bold, fresh, modern car. It illustrates the ongoing Citroën product offensive!” said Xavier Peugeot, Citroën Brand Product Director

The C3 is built on the PSA Group A platform and includes a lot of tech like advanced driver assistance systems for lane departure alert and driver attention alert as well as a coffee break alert.

Mirror screen technology duplicates the driver’s smartphone screen directly on the vehicle’s central screen, whether Android or Apple.

The C3 line-up has a pair of 1,2-litre three-cylinder petrol engines, the first offering a naturally aspirated flavoured 60 kW and118 Nm linked to a five-speed manual gearbox and the other a turbocharged engine with 81 kW and 205 Nm mated with a six-speed automatic box.

The manual comes in Feel specification for R239 900, while the automatic is offered in Shine trim (for R289 900). Three body colours will be available – White, Platinum Grey and Sand – each in combination with a red roof.

C3 Aircross

The C3 Aircross, also comes in a choice of three colours: Platinum Grey, Soft Sand and Natural White, complete with “Spicy Orange” trim. There are two variants: Feel and Shine, both using the turbocharged 81 kW version of the 1,2-litre petrol engine linked to a six-speed auto box as standard.

Citroën’s Advanced Comfort® programme for enhanced spaciousness, modular design and brightness is a key element of the Aircross.

The C3 Aircross will cost you R339 900 in Feel trim and R359 900 in Shine.

C5 Aircross

The C5 Aircross SUV is Citroën’s new flagship and a key lever for the international growth of the brand,” says Linda Jackson, Citroën CEO.

The C5 Aircross, which comes in two forms and in three colours, Arctic Steel, Pearlescent White or Platinum Grey). The base model Feel costs R469 900 while the flagship Shine costs R509 900. Both employ the PSA 1,6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine delivering 121 kW and 240 Nm via a six-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels.

Citroën claims the new C5 Aircross SUV is the most comfortable model in its segment, thanks to the Citroën Advanced Comfort® programme, Progressive Hydraulic Cushions® suspension and Advanced Comfort seats. Hydraulic buffers at either end of the suspension setup have all but eliminated bounce from the car’s drive, they say. This could be quite a big deal.

Aircross is highly modular with three individual sliding, folding and reclining rear seats, and best-in-class boot space. With the seats folded down there is 1 630 L, up from the 520 litres of space with seats and as far back as possible. Citroen says it has aimed for maximum practicality, building in cubby holes and stowage spaces all around the cabin.
There’s space inside for five adults.

The Citroën brand has always stood for technical and design innovation and quirky looks. It is the brand for someone who wants something a little different, a little chic.
Vive le difference!

Peugeot 108 review

A little French charmer from the Czech Republic – Peugeot’s 108.

PSA, the group which owns Peugeot, Citroën and Opel, has launched the final model in its cleverly thought out local model range which includes a large van, three SUVs and three cars.

The 108 Active is a small hatch or city car which will be competing with the established segment leader, Kia’s Picanto, VW’s Up and Toyota’s Aygo. Interestingly, the 108 and Aygo share a common platform. First introduced in 2005, these city cars are now in their second generation and are built in the same factory in Kolin in the Czech Republic.

Despite the fact that these cars share so many parts, the boot in the Toyota Aygo is slightly smaller than that in the Peugeot 108.

Peugeot offers only one model of the 108 in South Africa, the 5D Active. It is well specced and priced. It seems to be aimed at young first time buyers and older women. As a result it can be customised with eight body colours to choose from, plus themes, special editions and different interior ambiances.

Equipment includes air-conditioning, a simple but good touchscreen infotainment system which is compatible with Apple and Android devices and a good trip computer display. There are three plug points; USB, 12v and Din.

The 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine is not turbocharged and produces a paltry 53 kW and 93 Nm. Fuel economy is claimed at 5.2 L/100 km and is not too far out. Expect around 6 to 7 L/100km depending on your driving style. In town the engine feels responsive and the clutch is easy to use. Safety is well looked after and even includes hill hold. The engine is quite noisy during acceleration, but not unpleasantly so.

Ride quality is fair, and almost fun in town. On the long road you will, if you are slightly older or bigger, fairly rapidly sit ‘through’ the seats which are fine but rather lightweight. At speed there is quite a bit of wind and road noise.

I found the little lion cub to be very much at home in the city and easy to live with. You do not need anything more in a city car.

Peugeot says customers who encounter a mechanical issue with their vehicle will be afforded the use of a courtesy car and that replacements parts will be made available swiftly and be competitively priced. Peugeot South Africa is desperate to right wrongs, change preconceptions and restore some pride.

According to Peugeot when you buy a car from them you are joining the pride, based I suppose on the idea of their rampant lion logo. Dubbed ‘Peugeot Pride’, every 108 has a 5-year/100 000 km comprehensive warranty, a 5-year/ 100 000 km service plan, roadside assistance, use of a courtesy car while in for repairs, 24-hour customer care contact centre, licence renewal reminder, as well as service plan and warranty expiry notifications

The Peugeot 108 1.0 Active is priced at R179 900. The comparable Aygo is R177 900 but has no service plan and only a 3-year warranty. On paper the 108 is the better buy, but go and drive the cars before deciding, as the cars have very different personalities.