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.

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Mahindra KUV 100 Nxt review

Mahindra KUV100 NXT

Small crossovers are becoming all the rage in town. There still only one real small off-road SUV, the Suzuki Jimny. All the others are on-road cars.

Just under, or around R200k you actually get a few choices. Alternatives include the Suzuki Ignis (R180k), Honda BR-V (R249k), Renault Sandero (171 900), Haval H1 (R177) and the Mahindra KUV 100 starting at R160k. My pick of the bunch is either Sandero or Ignis.

Autotrader says the KUV 100 “cleverly sidesteps the pothole of trying to compete against the exceptionally popular Polo Vivo or similar – instead, it aims to offer buyers the lowest-priced new cross-over SUV on the market. “
Mahindra’s KUV is bigger inside than you think, excluding the tiny boot which has a very high sill. In short, it has the cabin space of a small SUV-size vehicle, but the length of a hatch.

Mahindra have been building jeep-like vehicles and bakkies for many years and do know what they are doing. The little three-cylinder 1,2 mFalcon D75 turbo-diesel engine produces 57 kW and 190 Nm. The car feels gutsy and once the turbo kicks in, has lots of go. The gearbox and clutch combine well with the engine and are more than adequate for the job on hand.

Mahindra KUV 100 NXT

The steering is quite light and more than a little vague, but you can turn on a tickey.
In the cabin you quickly see where they saved money. I found the seats a little thin and almost flimsy.
The centre console is a large hang-down panel, with 3 rotary controls for the aircon. The gear lever is on the console next to the steering wheel, within easy reach and with short shifts.

The parking brake is really old-school and like bakkies of twenty years ago, you pull a handle and twist to engage. The audio switch is small and fiddly, and the centre controls screen is small, flanked by buttons which have the set menu access like Info and Phone, and 4 inner buttons which correspond to the current screen menu displayed.

There are steering-mounted controls for audio and Bluetooth phone, and a USB port on the upper console.
The Mahindra KUV100 comes in 3 spec level options: K4+, K6+ and K8.
All KUV100 Nxt models ship standard with dual front airbags and ABS, with K6+ and K8 variants adding EBD, automatic door locks and an alarm.

Although there is an ECO button it is best ignored. Keep the KUV in PWR mode, which is normal power anyway. Otherwise it is super pap.
You can switch the stop/start mode off with a button to the right of the steering wheel marked ESS.

The model we drove was the top of the range Mahindra KUV100 Nxt K8 Diesel at R219 999.
We have not driven the petrol version, but can say the diesel is a joy. Expect around 5 L/100km in mixed driving.

This car is not meant for long-haul highway driving, off-road excursions are large framed people.
Expect a cabin facelift in 2019. The centre panel will be upgraded.

A three-year/100 000 km warranty comes standard, while K6+ and K8 models also feature a three-year/50 000 km service plan.

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.

VW Tiguan Allspace

VW Tiguan Allspace 2.0 TSI 4Motion (Highline)

VW makes space

The new Tiguan Allspace from Volkswagen is all about space. There are three rows of seats giving seven seats, but the rearmost two seats are for children only. There’s a 230 litre boot behind the third row. Fold the third row seats flat and the boot space increases to 700 litres, fold the second row flat and you have 1 775 litres of boot space. The cargo space length is then 1 921 mm – enough space even for surfboards or cycles.

The old size is now called the normal wheelbase model or NWB, and the longer, bigger, “better “ model the Allspace.
The rear doors of the Tiguan Allspace are also longer. The bonnet is raised up at the front above the radiator grille to adapt the proportions to the longer overall length.
The longer body significantly alters the side proportions of the Tiguan Allspace. The wheelbase is 110 mm longer, and now measures 2 791 mm. The rear overhang underscores is much longer increasing the total length by 215 mm to 4 701.

Other innovations in the new Tiguan are the “connected community” which uses Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, semi-automated driving and improved usability.

The Allspace is available in three trim lines – Trendline, Comfortline and Highline. The Allspace more standard features than the NWB model; highlighting its positioning between the NWB Tiguan and the flagship and substantially heftier Touareg.

The Tiguan Allspace 1.4 TSI comes in front-wheel-drive only. All other Tiguan Allspace models have 4MOTION (all wheel drive) as standard. The front-wheel drive Trendline can comfortably accommodate large trailer loads of up to 2,000 kg (braked 8% incline). The 4MOTION equipped Comfortline and Highline models are able to tow up to 2 500 kg (braked 8% incline).
The Allspace comes with either an off-road package or a “R” road package.

The intuitively operated rotary/pushbutton switch of the 4MOTION Active Control is located on the centre console. You use it to activate four higher-level modes and various pop-up menus. Turn the switch to the left to get one of the two road profiles. When it is turned to the right, the driver can select one of the two off-road modes, i.e. “Off-road” (automatic setting for off-road parameters) or “Off-road Individual” (variable settings). When the driver presses the control in one of these modes, a pop-up menu appears on the touchscreen of the infotainment system. 4MOTION Active Control lets the driver switch the assistance systems in a matter of seconds with a single manual operation to adapt to the precise driving situation.

The off-road attributes are enhanced with the optional off-road package. It contains an engine underbody guard, a body-coloured off-road front bumper with an increased approach angle of 7 degrees, black sills and bumper bottom section and aluminium door tread plates at the front inscribed with the word ‘OFFROAD’.
As an alternative to the Off-road package, the R-Line package is an option on Comfortline and Highline models. It features a lowered sports suspension with uniquely shaped body-coloured front and rear bumpers, gloss black front air intakes and body-coloured side skirts. Styling cues include 19 inch ‘Sebring’ alloy wheels on the Comfortline or 20 inch ‘Suzuka‘ alloy wheels on Highline as well as the inclusion of a black rooflining in the interior.
The Tiguan Allspace provides some driving functions that are partially automated such as the Multi Collision Braking System. Tiguan Allspace models also boast optionalACC (Adaptive CruiseControl) with Front Assist with City Emergency Braking abilities

The engine on the car we drove puts out 162kW and torque of 350/Nm through a delightful 7-speed DSG box. VW claims 8.1 L, but my consumption was 10.1L/100km. The long term consumption of the test car is 10.6 L/100km.
Towing ability has also been approved. The 4MOTION equipped Comfortline and Highline models are able to tow up to 2 500 kg (braked 8% incline).

Although quite a big car it handles almost like a Golf GTI. Throttle response is immediate and delivers loads of power.

It is pleasant and easy to drive in town and out touring. VW have created a really comfortable, spacious cabin. The Allspace will be a grand tourer.

Price as standard is R604 800, as tested around R670 000.

Accessories fitted to the test car include metallic paint, towbar with assist (R10000), active display, head-up display (R9000), Adaptive cruise control with front assist (R5000), panoramic sunroof (R12000), leather seats (R11000), 9.2 inch touch screen with navigation (R12100) and fancy 19” alloy wheels (R8300). Total R67 400.

The range is as follows:
1.4 TSI 110kW Trendline DSG {FWD) R463 400
2.0 TSI 132kW Comfortline 4MOTION DSG R523 800
2.0 TDI 110kW Comfortline 4MOTION DSG R571 100
2.0 TSI 162kW Highline 4MOTION DSG R604 800

The new Tiguan Allspace comes standard with a 5 year/90 000km Service Plan, 3 year/120 000km warranty.

The competition includes the Volvo XC60, Audi Q5, Subaru Forester, Kia Sorento, Suzuki Grand Vitara and BMW X3.

Volkswagen Crafter review

VW Crafter 35 2.0-litre TDI

Driving the new Crafter van from VW is easy. The systems and engineering built into this bigger van in the VW range make this commercial vehicle almost car-like, except of course the sheer length which is something which you have to get used to.

The cabin is comfortable and has a host of storage bins and features to make the life of the crew as easy as possible which includes as standard electric windows, central locking with wireless remote control and practical and ergonomically designed storage features for a mobile phone, laptop and tablet, folding rule and working gloves.

The seats ate really comfortable, the steering two way adjustable, and the visibility good. The steering wheel and instruments remind one of an earlier generation Golf. There is a rear camera available as an extra.

Acceleration is surprisingly nippy for a big van but the top speed is governed at around 105 km/h. The roofline is quite high so you have to learn to watch the height of where you want to go. The length means you have to plan your parking and bear in mind how you ‘cut’ your corners.

As a panel van and Kombi, the new Crafter is available in various lengths (5986 mm, 6836 mm or, for the panel van, 7391 mm as well) and heights (2355 mm, 2625 mm or, for the panel van, 2637 mm as well).

Customers have a choice between front and rear wheel drive. The Crafter has 103 kW of power. The 4-cylinder 2 litreTDI engine has a torque of 340 Nm and fuel consumption of between 7.3 to 7.6 litres/100km depending on the model according to VW.

Safety features include a side-wind compensation system, Hill Hold Assist and Automatic Post-Collision Braking

System and a steering wheel with height and telescoping adjustment.

Available as an option are a second compressor for refrigeration or fresh produce applications, four variants of a second battery and a second air conditioner.

Costs for the range start with the Crafter 35 (MCV) Panel Van at R509 700.
The long wheel base 50 LWB Panel Van costs R625 800.
The top of the range 50 LWB with overhang Panel Van is R635 800.

The new Crafter comes standard with a 2 year unlimited kilometre Manufacturer Warranty, 5 year or 120 000km Genuine Automotion Service Plan and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. The service interval is 20 000km.

The competition includes Iveco Daily, Mercedes Benz Sprinter, Peugeot Boxer and Fiat Ducato.

VW Crafter

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.