2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year Finalists

The top 14 finalists for the 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year have been announced at an event in Johannesburg on December 4. The next step in the 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year journey is the track and road testing of the finalists in March 2020 by 27 of South Africa’s top motoring journalists. The category and overall winners will be announced at an event hosted by AutoTrader in April 2020.

AutoTraderCEO, George Mienie, reveals that members of the public would like to see a win by the Mazda3. “It triumphed in the consumer vote, where we had hundreds of thousands of votes.”

There are some really strong contenders this year. My money is on both the Ford Raptor and the Jaguar I-PACE. I think one of them may win. We have never had an electric car or bakkie as a winner.

2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year Finalists by Category

Family
Mazda3
Toyota Corolla Hatch
Leisure
Citroën C3 Aircross
Peugeot 5008
Toyota RAV4
Volkswagen T-Cross
Lifestyle
Ford Ranger Raptor
Premium Car
BMW 3 Series
Premium SUV
BMW X5
Jaguar I-PACE
Mercedes-Benz GLE
Sports/Performance
Toyota GR Supra
Urban
Hyundai Atos
Suzuki Swift Sport

 

 

Citroën C3 Aircross Feel Compact SUV

The French connection is here once more. Saucy Citroën is showing a bit of leg again as it were.

Citroën C3 Aircross Feel Compact SUV at Audacia on the R44 near Somerset West.

The first of their three new models which we are looking at is the Citroën C3 Aircross which is based on the C3 supermini but with a longer wheelbase and of course a taller stance. It is interesting just how many people said it looks like a Mini to them.

Taking a step back, Citroën have only recently returned to our market after having temporarily withdrawn three years ago when their previous distributor messed up. They are now taking advantage of being part of the big Peugeot – Citroën – Opel group and piggybacking on the existing Peugeot dealer network and spares infrastructure. The Aircross is built at an Opel factory in Spain.

“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 aircross has got good space for this niche and has the largest boot in the segment with a standard volume of 410 litres which can be increased to 520 litres thanks to the split rear sliding seats. The boot is fairly easily accessible via the large-opening tailgate and benefits from a low loading sill.

Total load volume with the rear seats folded down is 1 289 litres.

A nice touch is the dual-height boot floor which provides a flat floor when the rear seats are folded down.

We drove the base or Feel version, which is still a well equipped vehicle. Standard kit includes alloys, LED running lights, cruise, air con, and USB phone mirroring. It runs on 16-inch alloy wheels.

If you need or want navigation (but don’t want to use your phones), keyless entry and start, park assist, 17” wheels and optional sunroof consider the Shine model for around R20 000 more than the Feel trim level we tested, although I think the Feel hits the sweet spot.

The Mirror Screen function including Android Auto, Apple Car Play™ and MirrorLink® lets you take advantage of the multimedia content and apps of your smartphone in safety, by duplicating them onto the 7-inch touch screen for easy use.

This new-generation navigation function comes with connected services such as TomTom Traffic, for real-time traffic information, service station and car park location and prices, weather forecasts, and a local point-of-interest search function.

Annoyingly you have to use the touch screen every time you want to adjust the air conditionioning.

I thought the materials used, layout and seats is geared to make you feel at home. The interior is pleasant and the seats feel comfortable.

The Aircross has decent ground clearance and soft long-travel suspension, with the weight over the driving wheels giving acceptable handling and road holding. The three-cylinder 81kW 1.2 L turbo-petrol mill coupled to a new 6-speed automatic transmission is a little noisy at times but does provide adequate power and fuel consumption of just under 9 L/100km, although Citroën claims 6,5 L/100km.

Citroën C3 Aircross Feel Compact SUV

This car does better in and around town than on sweeping mountain passes, but is a cinch to park and manoeuvre in tight spaces.

The Citroën C3 Aircross Feel is listed at R339 900. The Shine is  R359 900. Included in the price is a 5-year or 100 000 km warranty and service plan, courtesy car, guaranteed parts basket and licence renewal reminder.

The Opel Crossland is in fact a sister model to the Aircross. Also look at the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke, New Hyundai Kona, Suzuki Vitara, Kia Stonic and VW T-cross.

Bloodhound exceeds 1000 km/h at Hakskeen Pan

The 1010 km/h run is at https://youtu.be/8GXtwR71huE

Nuff said.

It is an amazing, crazy adventure. I love it.

Their website is at http://www.bloodhoundlsr.com/

Bloodhound LSR is a venture based on the Bloodhound Project that is using the Bloodhound SSC Car rescued from administration by Yorkshire-based businessman Ian Warhurst in December 2018.
Since March 2019, the Bloodhound LSR project has been based at the UK Land Speed Record Centre in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. Its parent company is Grafton LSR Limited. The Bloodhound team is now working through its plan of high speed testing followed by setting a new world land speed record in South Africa.

The current world land speed record of 763.035 mph (1,227.985 km/h) was set over 20 years ago by a British team including Bloodhound LSR driver Andy Green. Advances in engineering design, materials and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) since the last record was broken mean we can be confident of breaking that record with Bloodhound LSR.

The project is helping to push boundaries and demonstrate pioneering new technologies. Many of the aspects of our land speed record car have required engineers to think in new ways and manufacturers to develop novel production and testing methods.

This project has inspired so many people over the last 10 years, including both students and the wider engineering community. Engineers like solving problems and theorising about what happens when you pass the limits of known understanding. We look forward to continuing this inspiration into the future.

Ian Warhurst, CEO, Grafton LSR Limited

All pics supplied by Bloodhound LSR

Count me in when they are here next.

SABAT WRX Cape Town Final Round 2019

What a weekend. The WRX championship was literally in the air until the last lap of the final at Killarney on Saturday.

WRX Cape Town – Szabo leads the way over the jump during qualifying.

Timmy Hansen, the Peugeot driver, was crowned the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Champion after taking  the number of wins this season into account when he was tied, on 211 points each, with Andreas Bakkerud at a breathtaking SABAT World Rallycross of South Africa at Killarney International Raceway on Sunday.

The smallish but enthusiastic Cape Town crowd was treated to a spectacular and bruising season finale after Bakkerud finished in second in the race behind winner Niclas Grönholm and Hansen in fourth behind Timur Timerzianov after 60 races in ten countries on four continents through 2019.

“It sounds fantastic — almost unreal that you call me world champion,” Timmy Hansen responded to a question on his taking the title. “I am super happy for the sport – the last race with everything on the line was nerve wracking, but I kept focussing and delivered a strong performance race by race through the weekend — there was no room for error — not the smallest mistake.

Kalliokoski watches forlornly as marshals extinguish an engine bay fire.

Race winner Niclas Grönholm  in the very fast Hyundai said “My first win was after someone else was penalised, so this one is special — my first chequered flag victory! ”

Audi driver Andreas Bakkerud was quite unhappy with the result and behaved a bit like a losing English rugby player. Watch this space. There might still be protests and an investigation.

What happened was the three world championship contenders had a coming together when Timmy Hansen made a move on Bakkerud and the two tangled resulting in Kevin Hansen also losing it.

Niclas Gronholm leads Kevin Hansen around turn one.

As a result Grönholm led the way from the recovered Bakkerud, Timerzianov and Timmy Hansen, who quickly passed a struggling Scheider to take a vital fourth place. Kevin Hansen then had a second spectacular incident at the same corner the three had collided on the opening lap.

The local drivers enjoyed races for Speed Car buggies backed up by races for two rapidly growing Cape Rallycross classes catering for two-litre front wheel-drive machines and three litre rear wheel-drive BMW E36 Cup ‘big sixes’.

Zack Groenewald pushed his car to the limits to take the chequered flag

E36 Cup is a local rallycross class with 17 participants which only started in March this year. Ten drivers took part at the WRX event last weekend. They drive 325i and 328i cars in two categories as the 328s have much more torque. It makes for great racing though.  Zack Groenewald, known as Zackals, in the number 43 car was the very excited winner. He wrote on Facebook “Big thanx to my team for a awesome weekend without you guys its not possible And obviously my wife ….!”.

Timmy Hansen leads brother Kevin during qualifying.

As is usual at Killarney the event was well organised with good facilities and the prices and quality of the fast food was good. The festival like atmosphere was enjoyed by young and old.

Diarise 14-15 November 2020 for next year’s Sabat World Rallycross of South Africa Finale, it will probably be a cracker too and not to be missed.

Ford Kuga 2.0T AWD ST Line review

Ford has been both generous and clever with the Kuga ST line. They offer the driver a responsive fun car to drive with sporty looks and fairly sporty performance and then add dollops of luxury items as standard for a very fair price.

It is both a luxury mid-size SUV and a sporty feeling car at the same time. And very good value for money in its segment.

I really enjoyed driving the ST Line ( note: not ST) Kuga and could live very happily with it even though it is not terribly economical in turbo petrol guise although Ford claims 8.7L/100km. I think most users will average around 10L/100km, although the diesel will be lighter.

Ford Kuga 2.0T AWD ST Line

The ST Line badging implies it is not a real ST high performance derivative, but rather has more performance and upgraded suspension than the standard models, a bit like Audi offers the S-Line trim, Mercedes-Benz the AMG Line, and a number of BMW derivatives bear M badges.

The interior is restrained but smart and practical. A very pleasant space to spend time in. The Synch3 infotainment system is one of the best out there. Nothing to fault in that department.

An electric tailgate is now standard on all Kuga derivatives and includes a leg-swing opening function, a feature that allows for hands-free operation of the tailgate (even if the car is locked), as long as the key is in your pocket. The function is activated by swinging your foot under the rear of the car to open the tailgate. The technique needs a little practice, but once mastered its pretty useful.

A nice surprise was the  240-Volt two-pin plug port provided for the rear passengers. Very nifty, I thought.

A reverse camera is standard across the range, so parking is easy. The view from the very comfortable and adjustable driving seat is commanding.

The suspension easily soaks up imperfections in the road and rough surfaces and, on smooth tarmac, the Kuga offers a premium, luxury experience. It drives and feels like a car, albeit higher of the tar.

While the suspension has been tweaked to be firmer for better handling, the engineers have achieved an admirable balance between comfort and sharper handling. Its really very good.

Available in Ambiente, Trend and Titanium specification levels, with 1.5 and 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engines or 2.0 TDCi diesel.

The 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine has power and torque figures of 177 kW and 340 Nm, while the diesel gets 132 kW and 400 Nm with up to 40% less consumption than the petrol.

All Kugas have a four-year or 120 000km warranty.

Pricing is from R403,700 to R576,700. Fortunately they are well equipped, so what you expect is what you get.

The KUGA ST LINE SUV 2.0P 6AT AWD we drove costs R561 300, the diesel is R576 700. The model I like is the KUGA 2.0 TDCI TITANIUM POWERSHIFT 6AT AWD SUV at R530 600.

The Kuga is a good size, not too big, but also not cramped. With the the extensive specification, the above average handling and road holding and the great feel in mind, the Kuga must be on your list if you are looking at a medium sized SUV.

 

 

Ford Everest Limited review

The road is mine, and the trail and the bundu. There is no hill too high for the Everest to climb. In any case that is how it feels while piloting this new update of Ford’s big SUV in SA.

Ford Everest Limited

The new Ford Everest looks much like the old one, but its how it does things that has changed.

It rides better, it goes better and the infotainment system is even better, and easily the best in this segment.

“From the value-oriented offering in the XLS 2.2 TDCi to the range-topping Everest Limited, there is a model to suit a wide range of customers, which makes it a more compelling choice than ever,” says Doreen Mashinini, General Manager Marketing at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa.

There are now six models, in three series: XLS, XLT and Limited.

But the big news is the new engine, new gearbox and new suspension in certain models.

There are basically four drivetrain options: the new 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo and Single Turbo with the newish 10-speed automatic transmission, or the current 2.2 and 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi with the old six-speed auto box.

Ford Everest Limited 2.0 Bi-turbo Automatic

Other new items include two-layer glossy metallic paint, 20-inch split spoke alloy wheels, although 18-inch diameter rims can be specified for the Limited, Ebony environment colour which changes the  ambience of the interior,  contrast stitching on the Limited, along with shadow chrome finishes, perforated leather and high-quality paints.

The maximum power output for the new 2.0 Bi-Turbo engine (built here in SA) is 157kW, matched to a peak torque figure of 500Nm driving all four wheels through the new 10-speed automatic transmission, in conjunction with the Terrain Management System.

The two turbos work in tandem. A small high pressure (HP) turbo works in conjunction with a large low pressure (LP) turbo, controlled with by-pass valves that determine the operating mode depending on engine speed. At lower engine speeds the two turbos work in series, enhancing torque and responsiveness, while at higher revs the small HP turbo is bypassed, and the larger LP turbo provides boost to deliver top-end power.

The 10-speed box reduces the gaps in power and acceleration between gears, providing smoother acceleration, and improved performance . The electronic control system features real-time adaptive shift-scheduling, engineered to help select the correct gear at the right time, including skip-shift and direct downshift capabilities.

The unit’s Progressive Range Select (PRS) system gives the driver the ability to lock out gears from the automatic shifting range for improved control. When selected the available gears are shown on the instrument cluster, with the current gear indicated. Only the available gears are then displayed, and the transmission automatically shifts between these ratios. The suspension has also been tweaked. The front-mounted stabiliser bar has been moved to the rear of the front axle, which along with an increase in diameter and stiffness gives improved roll control and handling performance, which has also enabled a reduction in tyre pressures from 240 to 210 kPa for a more comfortable ride which I can attest to.

The Limited model we drove has Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision Alert (which now recognises pedestrians, in addition to its ability to detect other vehicles), LaneKeeping Aid and Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and Auto High Beam Control.

The impressive standard safety package across the line-up extends to Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system with Traction Control (TC), Trailer Sway Control (TSC), Hill Start Assist (HSA), Hill Descent Control (HDC) on the 4×4 models, Load Adaptive control (LAC) and Roll Over Mitigation (ROM).

A full Category 1 Thatcham-specification alarm is now standard on all Everest XLS, XLT and Limited models for enhanced anti-theft security.

SYNC®3 with Navigation is standard on the XLT and Limited models, linked to the integrated eight-inch touch-screen colour display, two USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity. It is simply the best system in this category – easy to use and does what it says on the box.

The system has fully-featured embedded navigation, multi-touch gestures (such as swipe, slide, scroll and pinch-to-zoom), plus voice recognition that uses simple, real-world voice commands.

Tracks4Africa is included in the package, as well as access to maps for over 20 countries in Africa.

The Limited remains the range-topping model, offering customers a premium execution with a higher level of luxury and more active driving safety features.

The refreshed styling treatment includes side steps, along with high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps (with automatic levelling and auto high-beam control)and LED daytime running lights. The cabin environment continues the luxury touches, with a dark roof lining, illuminated front scuff plates, eight-way power and heated front seats, powered panoramic glass moonroof, as well as adaptive ambient lighting with multiple colour choices to suit the driver’s mood.

Access to the load compartment is facilitated by the a powered tailgate, while the 50:50 split third-row rear seats can be lowered or raised electrically for seven-seat configuration.

The exhaustive list of active driving safety features on the Everest Limited is top class. This includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Alert with Autonomous Braking, Lane Keeping Aid and Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring System (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), and Semi-Automatic Parallel Park Assist (SAPPA).

Pricing of the Everest range is as following: 2.2 TDCI XLS 6AT 4X2 R499 900,  2.0 Turbo XLT 10AT 4X2 R584 900,  2.0 BI Turbo XLT 10AT 4X2 R624 100, 3.2 TDCI XLT 6AT 4X4 R644 000,  2.0 BI Turbo XLT 10AT 4X4 R687 700 and the model we drove the 2.0 Bi-turbo Limited 10AT 4X4 R761 200.

Direct competitors are the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Discovery Sport, Isuzu mu-X, Kia Sorento and Toyota Fortuner. Also look at the Subaru Forester, VW Tiguan Allspace, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Volvo XC60 and Mercedes GLC.

The Everest Limited takes Ford’s SUV offering to the next level. In my opinion it is the best of the bakkie based SUVs and beats many of the others because of its versatility and ability to be both family car and adventure off-roader.

Ford Protect, comprises a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A six-year/90 000km service plan is included.

 

Defender gets a new look

It looks svelt, but can it do veld?

 

Land Rover Defender 110

The off-road icon is back, well soon anyway.
At the heart of Land Rover, the brand, is the Defender. A tough no-nonsense workhorse in the past. The big question with the new one is: Is it as tough as the old Landy?
Hard to say just yet, but there is much to be happy about, on paper at least.
New Defender will be available in 90 (short wheel base) and 110 (long wheel base) body designs, with up to six seats in the 90 and the option of five, six or 5+2 seating in the 110.

Defender remains a beast of burden with a maximum payload of up to 900kg, static roof load of up to 300kg, dynamic roof load of 168kg, towing capacity of 3,500kg and wading depth of up to 900mm. The wheels are still in the corners allowing for excellent approach and departure angles.
A dash-mounted gear shifter is used to accommodate an optional central front ‘jump’ seat, which provides three-abreast seating across the front just like early Land Rovers.

Alex Heslop, Director of Electrical Engineering, Jaguar Land Rover, says: “The new Defender is a future-proofed 4×4 for the 21st century, using the latest technologies to optimise efficiency, enhance capability and revolutionise connectivity. With software updates that are sent over the air and next-generation always-on touchscreen infotainment, new Defender is every bit as pioneering today as the original Land Rover was in 1948.”

The new Defender has Land Rover’s (also new) Electrical Vehicle Architecture, which includes a state-of-the-art forward-facing digital camera, advanced ultrasonic sensors and 3Gbit/s onboard network supporting a comprehensive suite of driver assistance technologies. These include a 3D Surround Camera providing both 360-degree plan and new 3D exterior perspective views of the surrounding area, both off and on road providing enhanced augmented on-screen visualisation when using Tow Sensing, Wade Sensing and Land Rover’s ClearSight Ground View transparent bonnet technology, to improve visibility of the vehicle’s surroundings.

The new body architecture provides ground clearance of 291mm and world-class off-road geometry, giving the 110 approach, breakover and departure angles of 38, 28 and 40 degrees (Off Road height) respectively. Landy no longer uses the old ladder-frame chassis but has opted for a new lightweight aluminium monocoque construction to create a much stiffer body structure, they call D7x (for extreme).

When launched locally, diesel power will be provided by a 177kW D240 engine, with sequential twin turbo technology providing 430Nm of torque and fuel economy of 7.7 l/100km and CO2 emissions of 204g/km (NEDC equivalent). Acceleration from 0-100km/h comes in a leisurely 9.1 seconds.
Petrol power comes from a powerful 3.0-litre P400 featuring mild hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV) technology with 294kW and 550Nm. The in-line six-cylinder Ingenium petrol engine features a conventional twin-scroll turbocharger and delivers 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds and claimed fuel consumption of 9.9l/100km with CO2 emissions of 226g/km (NEDC equivalent).

The engines are coupled to an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox with high and low range , centre differential and optional Active Locking Rear Differential.

HyperFocal: 0

A new Satin Protective Film option makes the exterior paintwork even more durable. The sustainable, solvent-free and completely recyclable wrap helps protect against everything from car park scratches to bramble rash and will be available as a factory-fitted option with Indus Silver, Gondwana Stone and Pangea Green colours, providing a unique contemporary finish as it protects. Opting for this finish is a no-brainer.
No less than four Accessory Packs are available: The Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban Packs. I recommend the Adventure pack which features an integrated air compressor, exterior side-mounted gear carrier, seat backpack, portable rinse system, spare wheel cover, bright rear scuff plate and mud flaps.

In addition to the Accessory Packs, new Defender is available with a wide variety of accessories from a remote control electric winch, rooftop tent and inflatable waterproof awnings to more conventional tow bar systems and roof racks.

Prices for the Defender 110 at launch, in the first half of 2020, will start at R910 400. While the expected price of the 90, to follow in the second half of 2020, will start at R830 300 (TBC).

The direct competition is the Mitsubishi Pajero, Nissan Patrol and various Toyota Land Cruisers.