Volkswagen Amarok Dark Label 2.0 BiTDI 132 kW

Its been ten years since Volkswagen launched the Amarok. I took that bakkie on a trip to the Cederberg. Loved it n the road, not so much offroad. The problem was the typical VW manual gearbox, with the sticky second gear, and the very narrow torque band. Then they gave us the brilliant auto box and it was like chalk and cheese.

Volkswagen Amarok Dark Label 2.0 BiTDI 132 kW

The Amarok we drove here is the final iteration of the 2.0 L bi-turbo auto before the new Amarok arrives late next year or in 2022. I must say they have ironed out any issues. Its about as foolproof as a large multi-use vehicle can be.

The cabin of the Amarok has been in a class of its own since launch, although the competition has caught up and arguably the Mercedes is more luxurious and the Ford more funky The cabin of the Amarok is seriously good – spacious, comfortable, ergonomic and apparently well put together using durable materials. I liked it originally and I still like it. There are a few odd or quirky elements, but nothing to complain about.

The seats are very comfortable, even at the back. You can go for an all day game drive and not be tired or stiff at the end of it.

This bakkie really offers SUV-like styling, equipment and finishes. Inside is more car than truck. Outside is satisfyingly more truck than car. The Amarok still looks good and up to date. The shape has not aged at all. And its still very wide. So, before you buy one, check if it will fit in your garage or parking space.

We went up to Velddrif and Aurora on a mixture of highway, regional roads, smooth gravel roads and minor (less maintained) roads  and the Amarok once again confirms it is the King of Cruising. This is a really good cruising or touring vehicle.

We drove in a sandy track and on a muddy road. The Amarok never skipped a beat.

Fuel consumption was around 9L/100km. It is possible to bring this down when cruising but you will have to be very gentle with that right foot. Handling is excellent for such a large vehicle and the behaviour of the vehicle is as good as the best in class.

The bigger sister V6 Extreem 3.0 TDI 190 kW is sublime but quite a bit more expensive.

 

Warranty is three years and the service plan is five years or 90 000 km.

The range starts at R643 600, but the Dark Label starts at R742 600 although the bakkie we tested is R765 000 with all the extras. The fancy  Extreem 3.0 TDI 190 kW has a suggested retail price of R907 200.

At around three quarters of a million rand you can also get the  Mercedes Benz x250d at R790 281, Ford Wildtrak at R717 400, Toyota HiLux GR Sport at R728 800, Nisan Navarra Stealth at R683 200 and Isuzu D-max at R653 400.

 

Ford Ranger Wildtrak

It was one of those typical Western Cape rainy, mostly overcast days – cool to the point of almost being cold. But nothing was going to put us off our weekend trip to Strandfontein high up the West Coast, near Vredendal.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak

Before setting off I was worried that our bedding would get soaked but the slightly funny looking cladded rollbar gave just enough protection.

We headed north on the R365 via Porterville to the N7 as we wanted to experience the Clanwilliam Dam sluices in full flow. From there we went on the R364 as far as Graafwater where we headed north on an interesting gravel road. We wondered why the local looked at us a little strangely when we confirmed the route. But not for long. Wild, wet and… well, fun.

Cruising on tar is a cinch. The cruise control even has distance control and a reminder to take a rest comes on every 90 minutes. There really is power to spare, especially when that second turbo kicks in. It makes passing so quick and easy. The Wildtrak simply absorbs all the road imperfections, its like riding on a magic carpet. The bakkie is equipped with most of the tech you may want, from automatic wipers and headlights to the very good Synch 3 infotainment system to top notch safety systems.

Wildtrak at Strandfontein beach.

Hit the gravel, or in this case mud on the road between Graafwater and Doornbaai just before Strandfontein. Turn on 4H, which you can do while driving, and enjoy the trip. This bakkie is steady and its tail does not wag the body like some other bakkies. What a pleasure.

Parking at the mall in Vredendal was easy. I did not even have to use the park assist (City Park Steering), although I found the rear camera useful, once I had cleaned the lens. The town impressed me, providing all the services and retail outlets you may need on a short trip to the area. The coffee shop in the mall serves a good coffee but their serving sizes are a bit… different.

A very civil bakkie this, with heated seats, combination fabric and leather seats, 2x USB outlets, 3x 12v sockets, a 230v inverter outlet, “A”-pillar grab handles, soft touch where you are likely to touch, very good multi-function steering wheel, climate control and more.

The 2.0 Bit 4X4 D/cab Wildtrak At gives you 157 kW and a mighty 500 Nm of torque through a silky smooth 10-speed automatic box. The loadbay is good for 860 Kg. The standard wheel size is 265/60 R18, which is quite a good balance. If you are going to spend a lot of time offroad think about changing to 265/65 R17s.

All the normal safety, passive and active, kit is included.

On the Strandfontein weekend I averaged 9.1L/100km. I think that is pretty representative of general driving, but in town it will be higher.

Of all the double cab bakkies I have driven over the years I think the Wildtrak comes closest to being the real thing, delivering comfort, performance, safety, drivability, space and economy.

Yes, the Raptor is better on a fast gravel track, yes the V6 Amarok is the ultimate highway cruising bakkie, but as an all round package Wildtrak delivers better than all the rest.

The warranty is for 4 years or 120000Km, 5 Year Corrosion, 3 Year Roadside Assistance and a 6 year or 90000Km service plan is included.

Also look at the VW Amarok Dark Label 2.0 BiTDI (R742 600), Mercedes Benz X 250 d Auto (R724 202), Toyota 2.8 GD6 GR-S (R750 300), Isuzu D-max 3.0 Auto (R679 900) and of course the Raptor.

Mitsubishi ASX

Mitsubishi ASX – the inbetweener

Mitsubishi ASX at the Buffelsrivier Dam near Pringle Bay

Mitsubishi do not sell sedan cars in South Africa any more Instead they offer five SUV’s and a bakkie. This is a trend internationally. Ford in the USA for example has also reduced the number of sedans on offer to 3 (Fusion, Mustang and Mach-E) out of the 14 models they sell in the US which include two vans, three bakkies, two station wagons, two SUVs and two crossovers. Some models are available as hybrids or electrical battery cars. They also still offer the GT performance car and are about to release another SUV, the new Bronco. But I digress.

The smallest of Mitsubishi offering in SA is the ASX. A “tween” car, not tiny but not quite “family” size either; perfect for empty nesters who may occasionally have two passengers in the back or for a young family with smaller children. The caveat being that as with all these smallish SUV’s (from all the brands) the boot is smallish too. Think of it as a high rise hatch or a mini station wagon on stilts. Okay for a weekend, but tight for a holiday.

A normally aspirated 2.0L does service in this model. The next size up, the Eclipse Cross gets a 1.5 turbo motor giving it a much more aggressive or sporty feel. I get the impression the ASX is targeted at a more mature, considered market, hence the normally aspirated 2.0 L. A good choice perhaps.

The ASX has a solid equipment list as standard, including: Tilt and telescopic adjustable steering column, multi-function leather steering wheel with audio and cruise control, bluetooth with hands-free voice control, / multi-information display, smartphone-link display audio, with apple carplay/android auto, full automatic air-conditioning, electric windows, chromatic rear view mirror, USB and accessory socket and a very clear rear view camera.

The interior is well thought out, practical and pleasant to spend time in. All the boxes have been ticked.

Safety aspects are well catered for with 8 airbags, side-impact protection bars, ISOFIX child seat anchors, active stability and traction control, hill start assist system, ABS, EBD (electronic brake-force distribution), brake assist system and rear park distance control.

The 2.0 MIVEC DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine with ECI-Multi Point Fuel Injection and a 6-speed CVT, with 6-step Sports Mode delivers 110kW and torque of 197Nm at 4200 rpm. This package gives satisfactory performance and I think all the power you really need. Mitsubishi claim 7.9L/100km (Combined Cycle), which is about what I achieved. Handling is good and the car feels well planted. It does the job quietly and efficiently with no fuss The ASX is not an off-road vehicle but will tackle gravel roads with aplomb.

Build quality seems to be very good. No rattles or squeaks, doors close with a pleasant thump, and it feels solid.

The CVT model as tested has a list price of R415 000, while the manual is R400k. The warranty is for 3 years or 100 000km. Road Side Assistance is for 5 years with unlimited mileage. The service plan is for 5 years or 90 000km. Service intervals are every 15 000km.

I think the CVT is the one to go for.

The competition includes the Suzuki Vitara (now with a 1.4 L turbo option), Mazda CX-3 (2.0 L Dynamic a good buy), Nissan Qashqai (a bit bigger), Peugeot 2008 (GT Line is lovely), Opel Mokka, Jeep Renegade, Ford EcoSport (1.0 LT Titanium a great city car), VW T-Cross and Hyundai Venue

Mahindra PikUp S11 Automatic 4×4

PikUp. Tough. Truck. But now a bit more than that.

Mahindra PikUp

The S11 Double Cab offers a six speed automatic box, climate control, power windows, tiltable power steering, central locking, touch screen infotainment centre with Bluetooth, USB and AUX, steering-mounted audio & cruise controls and even puddle lamps.

Clearly we are still talking truck here, sure it has most of the comfort amenities you could want and has a really pleasant cabin, but it drives like the robust truck it is under the refreshed more stylish skin. Its not unpleasant to drive but it is not a Ranger or Amarok. Having said that it will go where any of the other bakkies dare venture. I drove the automatic in really soft dune sand with no problems at all and no need to engage low range.

Safety provision is good with all the basic measures included.

Little luxury items include rain-sensing windscreen wipers, rear camera, light-sensing and follow me home headlamps with daytime running lights.

The mHawk 2.2L turbo common rail engine produces 103 kW and 320 Nm with a claimed consumption of under 8L/100km (but work on 9L/100km). The rear mechanical diff lock is automated and low range is engaged using a rotary knob. Braked towing capacity of 2.5 ton, while unbraked is 750kg. The turning circle is a bit wide for the city at 6.7 m. The ground clearance of 210mm is not as bad as it looks because the wheels are not as far apart as some other bakkies.

The range starts at R316 499 for the S6 4×2 workhorse right up to the leisure orientated S11 4×4 Karoo at R429 999. We drove the S11 4×4 Automatic at R414 999. It is just plain good value for money. Yes, it has a lazy turning circle and yes a woman in high heels will have fun mounting the cabin (for a lack of suitable grab handle) and yes it looks a little archaic from the side and the cabin is a little narrow, but none of these are deal breakers.

The Karoo models are unique to South Africa and do give you a leisure bakkie with a real workhorse in its heart. A bit like an Isuzu – just not quite as refined.

On the open road, whether tar or gravel, the PikUp cruises happily and frugally at the legal limit. Above the legal limit you will need a bit of a downhill and preferably a tailwind to get to the 155km/h top speed.

The seats are comfortable, aircon works well, progress is effortless and roadholding is normal by bakkie standards and much improved over the versions of a few years ago. Off-road the “new” mHawk 2.2 turbodiesel working through the Aisin six-speed together with the automatic Eaton rear diff-lock produces the goods.

The warranty and roadside assistance plan is for 4 years or 120 000km while the included service plan is for 5 years or 90 000km.

The alternatives include the Steed 5 and 6, Nissan NP300 and JMC Vigus. I also like the underrated Steed 5, but only with the 2.0L VVT engine.

Mahindra is a big Indian vehicle manufacturer which since 2018 has a local assembly plant at the Dube Tradeport near Durban where the PikUp is assembled so spares should be relatively cheap and quick to source.

First published in Stellenboschnews.com.

Suzuki S-Presso

Cheap and cheerful

Suzuki sPresso between the Canola fields near Klipheuwel

Suzuki are masters at creating good small cars. They know how to extract the essence from the kernel or bean. And voila!

S-Presso – just what the barista made at Wecke & Voigts coffee shop in Windhoek in my youth. Small cup, strong and aromatic. Mmmm.

Suzuki’s little percolator on four wheels is just such a memory in the making.

With Suzuki you know you are getting a reliable car, relatively economical and safe for its niche. With the S-Presso you get more than they promise. Good finishes, enough space, especially headroom, surprisingly good kneeroom at the back, practical touchscreen and sound system and a good engine.

The 1.0 ℓ engine which produces 50 kW and 90Nm coupled to the five-speed auto box which has manual function (or a manual), their new “Heartec” platform and a three-quarter ton weight means this little coffee kettle goes sweetly even on gravel as it rides 180 mm above the road. Expect around 5 ℓ/100km.

This entry level car is not just a basic bear bones kettle but a real machine. As standard the GL+ has electric windows at the front, aircon, touchscreen which couples with Android and Apple smartphones, rear camera and a large round instrument display a la Mini in the centre of the dash. Safety systems include ABS, EBD, two airbags and a solid steel capsule around the cabin.

The boot is a usable 239  ℓ. The seats are comfortable even for little trips on weekends even though this car’s forte is the city. I took two adults on day trip to Melkbos via Klipheuwel and Philadelphia to get a feel for the open road in this little car. What a pleasure. Keeps to the legal limit with ease, feels safe around bends and has enough woema to overtake easily. There is a bit of wind noise, but not enough to drown out easy conversation. A pleasant drive. Very pleasant coffee at de Malle Meul in Philadelphia.

In a nutshell – it is a small car but does not feel cramped and performs above expectation.

If you need a city car or are buying a small car for yourself I recommend the S-Presso GL+ automatic. Easy to park (especially with the camera), nippy, safe, fair space, economic and probably solidly built. In June 2020 Suzuki sold over 500 of them in a very depressed market. Tells you something.

Your options include Renault Kwid around R160k, Datsun Go (R170k), Hyundai Atos (R160k), Kia Picanto (R190k), Mahindra KUV100 (R165k) and Toyota Aygo (R190k).

The Suzuki S-Presso range starts at an incredible R134 900 for the 1.0 GL manual. The rest are the GL+ MT – R139 900, S-Edition MT – R147 900, 1.0 GL+ AMT – R152 900, S-Edition AMT – R160 900.

You get a 5 year/200 000 km warranty, 2 year/30 000 km service plan and 1 year insurance.

I think the GL+ AMT at R152 900 hits the sweet spot.

S-Presso. Just what the barista ordered.

 

 

Suzuki Swift Sport

Little firecracker from Suzuki

Fun on four wheels can mean many things. From a rough and ready offroader, a vehicle for journeys deep into nature or a track ready sportscar. Suzuki are really good at small fun cars. Their Jimny is amazing offroad and their new Swift Sport is amazing on tar.

The Sport is one of those little grin-inducing machines, like a Mazda MX-5 which performs way above its price point. Sure, it is no Porsche or M-class Beemer but boy can it make a driver smile if not laugh out loud.

The Sport is the top of the range, one can almost say, aspirational model of the Suzuki Swift range. What sets it apart is the 1.4 turbo engine (as opposed to a normally aspirated 1.2), special sports seats with red stitching, additional instrumentation, twin exhausts and model specific body panels as well as upgraded suspension, wheels and brakes.

The Sport really makes a statement just sitting waiting for you, ready to leap on the road. Push the start button and the fireworks begin. It sounds right, the display looks right, the seats and steering wheel feel right. Press the loud pedal. Smiling already. I told you. Its fun, even to park at the mall.

Now, the 103kW and 230Nm on offer does not sound like a sports package, but remember the low weight at less than a ton, upgraded chassis, turbo and well matched box give this little runabout running legs. Grin factor. The Sport reaches 100km/h in less than 8 seconds, tops 200km/h and uses under 7 L/ 100 km depending on your right foot.

This is a car one tends to drive enthusiastically – throwing it around corners with abandon it just sticks to the road. Overtaking is effortless. You can use the paddles, but the auto box does the job superbly. Fun factor.

The interior is typically Suzuki but is well equipped and laid out. Not stunning, but neither is it shabby. I like it. The roof is quite high, even at the back, so for a small car even tall people will feel comfortable. Rear leg room is good for a super mini. The boot offers a not so great 242 litres, but it is okay for daily use.

Quite a few luxury items are included as standard, like rear camera, cruise control, infotainment system, climate control electric folding rearview mirrors.

The Swift Sport is well equipped on the safety front too, with 6 airbags, stability control and EDB and ABS.

The Swift Sport retails at R327 900 for the manual and R347 900 for the automatic we drove. This includes a 5 year or 200 000km warranty and 4 year or 60 000 service plan.

The ordinary Swift range starts at R171 900 for the 1.2 GA manual, R202 900 for the 1,2i GL SE to R224 900 for the GLX AMT.

I think the differences and upgrades justify the price. The competition, in the form of the VW Polo GTi at R411 900, Toyota Yaris GR (2021), Mazda MX-5 RF (R551 700) and the yet to be launched Hyundai i20N are all more, or much more, expensive.

Suzuki Ciaz review

Suzuki Ciaz at Rickety Bridge winery.

It must be the most under-the-radar car in the history of South African motoring. Have you heard about it?

The Ciaz is the biggest sedan car Suzuki offers in South Africa. Its about the size of the earlier Honda Ballade and previous era Corolla. I think it competes heads on with the VW Polo sedan, although it is possibly marginally bigger.

Ciaz is a no-nonsense proper traditional family car with all the little luxuries and safety equipment you can expect from a car.

Surely a recipe for sales success.

Suzuki Ciaz

But no.

In the first place the fashion for cars at the moment is for station wagons dressed up as SUVs or crossovers and secondly it seems people just don’t know about the Suzuki Ciaz – the big little family sedan of the fastest growing car brand in the country (Suzuki sold 1 632 vehicles in January). More is the pity. The advantages of a sedan include the more secure boot, lower operating costs (everything from fuel, insurance, to the price of tyres), ease of use in town and lower acquisition costs.

There is quite a lot of competition in this dwindling but still important segment though.
The Corolla Quest (998 sales per month) and Polo Sedan (503) dominate the sales of small to medium family sedans with the Honda Ballade and Suzuki Ciaz trailing by quite a margin, even though the Ciaz in GLX guise is arguably much better value as it comes well equipped. The Hyundai Accent and Fiat Tipo are also in the mix.

I drove the Ciaz recently and was impressed by the size of the boot (424 litres), the rear leg room (806 mm), the general feeling of space in the very neat cabin and the pleasant handling. A great family car, at a very good price. Big enough for a family of four to go on holiday with but small enough to easily park. It will make a good car for a sales rep too.

The interior of the Ciaz is understated but apparently well screwed together and uses fairly smart materials and finishes which seem to be hard wearing. The instrumentation includes classic analogue speedometer and rev counter dials with an informative selectable digital display between them. Suzuki’s Smartphone Linkage Display Audio (SLDA) system includes a 7” touch display with Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity via a USB cable. The Bluetooth car phone system is easy to use and the sound is crystal clear. I liked the multi-function steering wheel and the steering position in general even though it is not highly adjustable. The seats are comfortable and supportive and allow good legroom for the rear seat passengers. There is a sprinkling of storage bins and bottle holders dotted all over the cabin.

The Ciaz GLX has cruise control as standard as well as automatic climate control, electrically folding side mirrors, leather upholstery, integrated lighting in the foot wells, individual rear reading lights and a retractable rear sunshade. Almost all the bells and whistles as standard.

I found the road manners of the Ciaz, on a number of mountain passes and on the highway, to be above par. In town it’s a gem. The steering stiffens up at speed, something which I liked but sporty orientated divers may consider a little vague.

Acceleration is fine and one can pass quite effortlessly and quickly. In short, a well handling sedan with adequate power (77 KW @ 6000 and torque of 138 Nm @ 4400) and good fuel consumption at or around 6L/100 km in combined city and highway use and much better on the open road.

The range starts with the 1.5 GL MT at R223 400 and tops off with the 1.5 GLX AT for R269 900; the car we drove is the GLX manual at R254 900 which includes a solid 5 year or 200 000km warranty and a 3 year or 60 000km service plan.

 

Suzuki Vitara review

Small to medium family cars come in a variety of flavours these days. Sedan, hatch, MPV, crossover and SUV.

Sometimes the distinctions are quite blurry, concerning both size and purpose.

Suzuki Vitara at Jacobsbaai.

The Suzuki Vitara is a SUV and is a biggish small family car, or is it a smallish medium SUV?

Ah, that is the question.

I can safely say that four adults can sit comfortably for extended distances and you can get four cabin size suitcases in the back, which has a little secret flattish compartment below the removable deck suitable for valuables and flatter items.

There are a number of right size storage cubicles and places. One I particularly like is a slot to the right below the steering wheel which would be ideal for a torch, remote or self defence device. There is another little one in the centre on the tunnel for either your car fob or change. Nice. There are more, but I leave them to you to explore and find when you take one for a test drive, something which I recommend you do

We drove up to Jacobsbaai for a family celebration with three adults on board. My wife kept talking about the oodles of space, especially the headroom and the legroom at the back. On the trip I could get a real impression of how suitable this car is for touring. I can report that the turbo Vitara is effortless to drive on the open road, passing with ease and cruising along in sixth gear at the legal limit.

The GLX has cruise control and very effective climate control, a good sound system, really comfortable seats, a good driving position with above average visibility and a pleasant cabin ambience.

he Suzuki infotainment system is easy to use, fairly comprehensive and effective. Apple CarPlay works extremely well and the Bluetooth phone connection is crystal clear.
There is a multi-data display in the middle of the instrument binnacle between the attractive classic analogue rev counter and speedometer which is customisable for your preferences. I tend to select the fuel consumption display. Speaking of which, I got 6,7L/100km during the week I drove the Vitara. I think 6L/100km will be achievable over the lifetime of the vehicle especially after the engine has loosened up.

Acceleration is almost on the sporty side when you push those revs up a little. As a result overtaking is easy and driving this SUV is fun. This boost in energy is due to the new 1.4 turbo-petrol engine which puts out a very competitive 103kW and 22Nm which is 46% more than the original 1.6 normally aspirated motor.

I really liked the ride quality which is partly due to the right size rim and correctly-sized tyres (Continental 215/55 R17) for this size of car. The handling is also good and almost on the sporty side without being too hard.

There are quite a few cars in this niche, from the really interesting and different Citroen C3 Aircross to the tried and tested Ford EcoSport, the newbies from Haval the H2 and Mahindra, the XUV300 to the classy Mazda CX-3 and the tough Renault Duster. Hyundai offers the Venue and Honda the BR-V, oh did I mention the VW T-Cross and Peugeot 2008? Mmmm, it could be quite confusing.
Of this little lot the Duster in AWD turbo-diesel guise will go furthest off the beaten track, the Aircross has the most flair, the T-Cross sells the most, the CX-3 is the classiest, the H2 shows the most improvement and the Vitara possibly gives the best value, especially over time and especially with the promotional offer at the moment.

From R293 900 for the 1.6 manual GL 2WD right up to R405 900 for the 1.4 GLX Turbo AT. The AWD GLX Allgrip 1.5 five-speed manual is R390 900.
We drove the 1.4 GLX manual which is at present listed at a very competitive R359 900.

The service plan is included and is for 4 years or 60 000km, but the promotional warranty is for five years or 200 000km.

 

 

 

 

 

Suzuki JIMNY 1.5 GLX 4AT

I love the Jimny.

To be fair I have gone out of my way to find and tellyou about the design issues or dodgy bits. To me they make the little off-roader even more endearing. So, be warned – a bit of bias may have crept in.

Suzuki JIMNY 1.5 GLX 4AT

The Suzuki JIMNY 1.5 GLX 4AT is very much a specialised vehicle – a horse for a very tough obstacle course, very much in a league of its own off-road, with amazing prowess off the beaten track.

They have been around since 1970 as the LJ10, which had a 359-cc, air-cooled, two-stroke, in-line two-cylinder engine. The next generation Suzuki SJ30 was released in 1998, the fourth generation Production commenced in Japan on 29 May 2018 at Suzuki’s Kosai plant.

Car magazine has this to say about the Jimny: “tales of the Suzuki’s off-road prowess have been told around braai fires… it is affordable, reliable and cheap to run also count in its favour” just about sums this car up.

Jimny is still based around a traditional steel, ladder frame chassis, but now has stiffer, supporting rigid front and rear axles with separate differentials and remains absolutely unpretentious. It is what it is.

It now has a proper multi-function tilt adjustable leather covered steering wheel with cruise control and phone buttons, just like cars.

The Jimny can seat four adults. It can also offer 377 litres of luggage space. But it cannot do these things at the same time. In fact, with the rear seat backs raised, the boot would struggle to swallow a MacBook Air.

You can also fold the front seats near-flat and have them join the rear seat squabs as a makeshift bed.

Happy camping.

The GLX has electric windows, central locking, climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port and shift lock. Its a thoroughly modern little car and has LED headlights, ABS, ESP, hill hold and descent control, brake assist and Isofix mounting points.

The Jimny is powered by a new 1,5-litre, naturally aspirated engine (code name K15B), which delivers peak outputs of 75 kW and 130 Nm and is now more stable and refined on-road. Suzuki claims between 6 and 7L/100km, which I found to be accurate.

Optional accessories really are extras, like under garnish for the front and sides, Rain deflectors, handle escutcheons, dor mirror and rear wheel covers, mud flaps, wiper rain detector, differential guard protectors, parking sensors, rubber mats, boot liner, cargo net and roof rack. If you’re the sort of person who appreciates a flat-roofed vehicle because it’s easier to clear snow off and mount cargo racks to, or you favour cars with a roofing gutter so you’re not dripped on as you load the tailgate, then you might like the Jimny.
Top Gear had this to say about the UK version: “In the end, you just can’t separate the sheer joy of the way this rascal looks, and the adorable character it plays as it skips along, from the way it drives, and that irrepressible cute-meets-tough joy is what will make it ultimately a little cracker to live with. It’s not the most complete 4×4 you can buy, but it’s a plucky underdog. Not to mention, something of a new Top Gear hero.”

Suzuki has retained the defining qualities of the previous two generations of the Jimny: small size; go-anywhere ability; relatively low running costs and an adorable character.

The 1.5 GL manual is R285 900 with a 2-yesr or 30 000 service plan, GLX manual is R323 900, while the 1.5 four-speed automatic in GLX trim is R343 900 with a 4-year 60 000 service plan.
A 5 year/200 000 km mechanical warranty is standard.

On the question about the alternatives. Quite simply there are none. The nearest is the Renault Duster which is more practical but does not have the off-road prowess of the Jimny. Fiat has the rather pap Panda, Mahindra has the wannabe Jeep, the rough and ready Thar and GWM offers perhaps the Steed 5 double cab bakkie. The Jimny’s big sister the Grand Vitara also has low-range is really capable off-road.
Love it or hate it, the Jimny is unique and very capable off-road, although only okay at highway speeds.

Enjoying day 7 Covid-19 lockdown – Thursday

On the last day of the first week of the first Covid-19 lockdown my Lovey and I went for a game drive to our local water hole after lunch. We saw a duck, pheasant, hippo, buffalo, and more.
It reminded me of our last trip to Kgaligadi in 2016, especially the 14th Borehole near Mata Mata. What a place.
Full of life but silence too.
Pauses, when ostensibly nothing is happening (sound familiar?), but actually a myriad of life is buzzing, being and watching. How I would love to be there right now. Flask of tea or coffee and rusks with a back-up beer and biltong in the fridge. Absolute bliss. Taking pictures of big and small. Getting a good picture of a bird in that light is inordinately difficult, although the birdlife is astounding in variety and numbers. If you have never been to the Kalahari that is perhaps what will surprise you the most.
In the evening the antics of the meerkats and mongooses will give you joy. They are so busy living.
There is time to take out your sketchbook, but no time to get that picture when a cheetah suddenly bounds past your car intent on supper. First a blur, then a cloud of dust.
On a completely different note, if your car is gathering dust during the lockdown you should take a few simple precautions to keep it happy and purring. It is a good idea to drive it even a few metres and turn the steering wheel this way and that, apply the brakes and so on. Just get everything working including the tyres. If it is going to stand a while disconnect the black electrode or terminal of the battery making sure it does not touch any metal parts. Modern cars never completely switch off unless the battery is disconnected. Protect the inside with sunshades or cloth and leave a window or two about a cm open, if safe and practical. Find out now already who has jumper cables and knows how to use them.
Tomorrow, Friday 3 April we start week two of the lockdown. Some experts say it is the most dangerous week. Stay home folks, especially if you have a lung issue or any other medical condition.
Gesundheit!