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.

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Citi Vivo

Citi Vivo

Remember this?

Citi Golf 1985

Citi Golf 1985

Thought you would.

Production of the Citi Golf at the Volkswagen factory in Uitenhage ended in 2009 after 25 years. The plant produced over 377 000 units many of which are still on our roads. The Citi Golf gained some of its popularity from the quirky and humorous television and print adverts that told a South Africa story. These adverts were complemented by the engineering ingenuity that gave Citi Golf longevity in the local market and cult status.

Citi Vivo 2017

Citi Vivo 2017

It’s 2017 and VW need to give the Vivo a bit of vim.

“There is no better way to celebrate the success of the Polo Vivo as the best-selling passenger car in South Africa than to pay homage to its iconic predecessor, Citi Golf. The three colours of Red, Yellow and Blue are synonymous with the classic Citi Golf and it was fitting for us to use them as the only colours for Citi Vivo. Citi Vivo is a special edition with about 2 000 units planned,” said Stefan Mecha, Director: Sales and Marketing at Volkswagen Group South Africa.

Mecha added: “Polo Vivo is a proudly South African car with German engineering ingenuity. About 70% of its parts are sourced locally which has helped local suppliers to create jobs. Polo Vivo has the best resale value in its class.”

The Citi Vivo is based on the 1.4i Conceptline, but gets 15-inch alloy wheels painted in white (similar to the original Citi Golf), side mirrors painted in white, door and tailgate handles in white and CITI decals.

Its recommended selling price is R177 300.

VW Passat 1.8 TSI Highline DSG review

VW Passat 1.8 TSI Highline DSG

VW_Passat_Clarendon

The Volkswagen Passat is a large, classy family saloon that delivers great refinement and quality in an accomplished, discreet package  the UK Auto Express summarises this car as. I could not agree more. They continue to say the only negatives they can think of are: Understated styling, not much fun to drive, lacks premium image of rivals.  I don’t quite agree. I like the styling of the Passat, but it is subjective of course.

I think its pleasant to drive but perhaps not quite up to the standard of the Ford Fusion or Honda Accord. The cabin is just stunningly good.

Do not forget the boot.  You can fit three golf bags, or a pram and a folding cot. It’s really big.

If you have just over R400k to spend and you want or need a bit of space and a big boot the Passat or Fusion is a much better buy than 3 Series, C-class or A4. Lets just look at what you get.

VW_Passat_roof-open

This car has one of the smoothest most efficient gearboxes out there in the 7 speed DSG box and when coupled to the turbocharged 1.8 petrol engine delivers a top speed of 232 km/h. Do you need to go faster? Not only that but it will get to 100km/h in 7.9 sec and VW claims using only 5.8 litres/100km, although I got 7.4L/100km on average the week I drove the car. Not too shabby.

vw-passat-dashThe interior of this car does not hit you with its brilliance. Rather you come to realise just how well designed and made this cabin is. You could live with it for years as it is ergonomic, spacious, comfortable and cleverly designed. There is quite a long list of optional extras, so you could kit it out to your heart’s desires. Basically you could get a fully kitted Passat for the price of a base, very sparsely kitted out Audi A4 which probably has the identical engine, gearbox and much of the underpinnings.

The Passat range is well equipped as standard, better than most VW models. It includes intelligent cruise control, park distance control, flat tyre monitoring, climate control, heated front seats, electronic stability control, fog lights and a good infotainment centre. All the essential stuff.

Options fitted to our test unit include sunroof, DiscoverPro navigation, ambience light package, adaptive cruise control, electric front seat, Nappa leather seats and LED headlights. Nice to haves, but not necessary, except for the adaptive cruise control which I consider a great safety feature.

VW-Passat-1.8-side

The Passat will probably surprise you if you take it for a test drive. It is, like the Ford Fusion, a seriously commodious, comfortable, complete package.

The price of the 1.8 TSI Highline DSG as standard is R457 500. The range starts from R432 000 and tops out at R518 000. The car as tested had around R50 000 extras.

Warranty is 3 years or 120 000km, but the maintenance plan is 5 years or 100 000km.

Other cars in this size range include the previously mentioned Ford Fusion (R424 000) and Honda Accord (R434 600), the more expensive but not really better MB C-class, BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and the exciting Mazda 6 and Volvo S60.

 

 

Suzuki Ciaz arrives

Suzuki have just launched a new compact sedan, the Ciaz.

They are really pretty busy. It seems they are launching something new every month.

The Ciaz is offered in a choice of two specification levels – GL and GLX, one engine manual or 4 speed automatic.

Efficient packaging makes the most of the space on offer, with ample head, leg and shoulder room both front and rear, while top-notch materials, upmarket finishes and an extensive array of standard features.

CIAZ_030

Looks like a cross between a Honda Ballade and a Kia Rio/ Hyundai Accent.

GL specification: includes electric windows and exterior mirrors, remote central locking, automatic climate-control air-conditioning with front and rear vents, and a six-speaker sound system with FM/AM tuner, CD player, Bluetooth connectivity and both USB and stereo analogue jacks, are standard across all models. The new Ciaz is fairly comprehensively equipped in an old fashioned kind of way.

The GLX adds 16 inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, fog lights and leather trim.

Ciaz interior

Ciaz interior

The Ciaz has Suzuki’s tried and trusted 1,4-litre four-cylinder engine equipped with multipoint fuel injection, four valves per cylinder, and variable valve timing. It gives good power and torque and sub 6 litre/100km fuel consumption in general use.

It could do well but may cannibalise Swift sales.

Prices include a three-year/100 000 km warranty, and a three-year/60 000 km service plan.

1.4 GL MT  R179 900

1.4 GLX MT  R199 900

1.4 GLX AT  R214 900

Kia Cerato 2.0 EX Auto review

Kia Cerato 2.0 EX Auto

Kia Cerato

Kia Cerato

The latest Cerato, sedan or hatch, delivers on value, style, quality and comfort.
We tested the 2.0 EX Automatic sedan. It is a very pleasant car which is very easy to drive and to live with. It just soaks up bumps and irregularities in the road and goes round corners with assurance.
Standard equipment includes automatic light control, LED daytime running lights, fog lights and electric windows and mirrors. All four wheels have disc brakes, ABS, EBD and all the other safety kit is fitted.

Cerato interior
The Cerato interior is pleasant and a big step up from the previous model, but still quite conservative. This is perhaps a good thing. The car is really comprehensively equipped. It has everything from air conditioning to cruise control to electric chromic mirror to rear view camera on the two top models. The leather steering wheel has remote controls and a matching gear knob.
The boot is big and deep (420litres) and almost matches the Sentra and Jetta.

Kia Cerato EX 2.0 Auto

Kia Cerato EX 2.0 Auto

The exterior styling is a step up from the previous model and is somewhat more Eurocentric. I think it looks great and should age well.
A complaint about previous Kia’s has been the dead steering. The cars felt disconnected from the road. This new generation largely fixes that. Within a day or two you get used to it and don’t notice it. A big improvement. The EX and SX models have a setting to adjust the responsiveness of the steering; soft, normal or sport.
Cerato_noseBuild quality is good, resulting in a five year warranty. Not only will this give you peace of mind, but it should keep resale values high.
The in-line 4 cylinder 16 valve dual overhead cam and dual cvvt 2.0 litre engine produces 118kW @ 6 200rpm and 194Nm @ 4 300rpm. Top speed is 205km/h and 0 to 100km/h is 9.3 seconds. Both manual and auto boxes are 6 speed. I think the 1.6 models may be a little lethargic on the Highveld especially with 4 adults onboard, but the 2.0 litre models are just right. Expect fuel consumption of around 7.5 l/100km.
Price of the Cerato EX 2.0 Automatic as tested is R259 995. The range starts at R219 995 for the 1.6 manual. The top model is the 2.0 SX Automatic at R289 995.
Also look at the Nissan Sentra, VW Jetta, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Cruz, Hyundai Elantra and Honda Civic. My short list would be Civic, Focus, Sentra and Cerato.
The warranty is 5 years or 150 000km and the service plan is 5 years or 90 000km.

Cerato_ass

Honda Civic 1.8 Elegance review

Honda Civic 1.8 Elegance

I have to start with admitting two things. Firstly, I am a Honda fan. My wife owned one for 12 years. Secondly, I took a dislike to the concept of the split instrumentation when I read about it.

In spite of my reservations this 9th generation Civic is a beautiful car to look at. It is elegant and yet sporty. A bit like its personality. And it’s oh so smooth. Everything about is easy to use, works effortlessly and just happens, smoothly.

Honda really build quality cars. Although not cheap if just look at the price list, they remain the best bargain on our roads. Just a bit wider than the competition, just a bit better in every department. To own one, is to love one. This new Civic is very good. I rode it almost exclusively in Econo mode and always had enough power.

Maybe on the Highveld with four adults on board and the weekend’s baggage in the large boot you will need to disengage the green Econo button. The display rewards you with a green glow when you are driving with fuel efficiency in mind, otherwise it glows blue. The petrol companies must hate the green Econo button.

The 1.8 i-vtec generates 104kw at 6 500 and 174Nm @ 4 300 of torque.

Bad 

There is quite a lot of hard plastic in the cabin. It is all very functional. The overall impression will be pleasing for a long time I think. The doors and other surfaces a normal person will touch are soft.

The door sill is quite high for older people, but I think one will get used to it quite quickly. It’s not a big issue.

On a car of this class you would expect a light for the vanity mirror on the passenger side.

I got around 7.9 litre/100km, which is a full litre more than Honda claims. My driving included a 7 storey parking garage every day and 50km of highway driving. I kept the Econo button on most of the time. On the N2 to Cape Town the consumption does drop to the mid 7s at 120km/h.

Good

The interior is more spacious than any of its direct competition. It has good shoulder space and adequate leg room at the back. The rear seats have a 60/40 split. The seats are comfortable and the driver’s seat is highly adjustable ans supportive. The boot is a healthy 440 litres.

The Civic has a number of nice touches. The front doors have courtesy lights which illuminate where you have to get out.

Buttons for audio/ phone, cruise control and computer are all on the leather clad steering wheel. The dual display actually works very well. On top is the digital speedometer, fuel gauge and consumption indicator. Below you get the other dials like the rev counter and warning lights.

A large centre console between the seats has storage space inside, cold drink holders on top and slides forward to become an armrest.

Fit and finish is outstanding. The cabin is an island of tranquillity.

Driving impressions

The car drives like a Honda. It’s fun, responsive and has superb road manners. The Civic comes with adaptive electronic power steering which always feels just right. No dead spots or numb areas. The EPS together with Honda’s vehicle stability assist massively enhance the car’s cornering and general handling. It is a both a fun and a safe car to drive.

The brakes feel good and have very little fade.

The driving position is good and all round visibility above average.

It can be an effortless driving experience or a hands-on involved drive. The choice is up to you.

The Civic has more than enough space for two adults, three children and their luggage.

Costs

The model tested, the Civic Sedan 1.8 Elegance costs R259 900 . Prices range from R209 900 for the base 1.6 Comfort to R282 900 for the 1.8 Executive Automatic.

All Hondas come with a 3 year 100 000km warranty and a 5 year 90 000km service plan.