2018 WesBank South African Car of the Year Finalists announced

It is that time of year again. We start to look back on the cars launched in 2017.

The COTY cars are not facelifts but supposedly new cars.

The idea is to recognise the car which has made the biggest impact on the SA car market.

Many years the judging panel get it horribly wrong, but other years again they get it right.

They are, in alphabetical order:

  • ALFA ROMEO GIULIA
  • AUDI Q5
  • BMW 5 SERIES
  • KIA PICANTO
  • LAND ROVER DISCOVERY
  • PEUGEOT 3008
  • PORSCHE PANAMERA
  • SUZUKI IGNIS
  • TOYOTA C-HR
  • VOLVO S90

Preparations now continue for the COTY evaluation days that will be held in late January 2018. At these evaluation days – the most critical of which will be the scheduled procedures to be held at a dedicated testing facility – the COTY Jury will assess the cars independently, with routes and modules designed to test the vehicles in a similar way in which the average consumer would use them.

Volvo S90 SA 010.jpg 2017 NEW SUZUKI IGNIS THE 2018 WESBANK SOUTH AFRICAN CAR OF THE YEAR COMPETITION GIVES A BIG THUMBS UP TO THE PEUGEOT 3008 SUV  Kia Picanto

The evaluation days offer the Jury the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with the vehicles on specific criteria including aesthetics, build quality, ergonomics, fuel consumption, environmental friendliness, safety features and value for money. These aspects are not only important with regards to the actual testing, but also to how the public perceives the COTY process, the finalists and ultimately the winning car. “We’ve seen many of these finalists performing well in our search volumes, with more than half appearing in our top 200 most searched for makes. It will be interesting to see who the judges choose as the winner.” Says George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO.

I personally think the Gulia and Ignis stand out.

We will see.

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Opel MOKKA X 1.4T Cosmo 6AT

Opel MOKKA X 1.4T Cosmo 6AT

Opel Mokka X 1.4

Opel Mokka X 1.4

I drove the previous model of the Mokka around the test track at Gerotek and almost kept up with a gaggle of Opel Adam Sports. My nerve gave in on the third corner as it felt I was going to roll it. Actually it had very good stability control. This new Mokka X is very good on the road, I think. It is an upgrade on the previous model, especially the interior, media centre and the headlights.

The mechanicals remain unchanged from the original Mokka  and along with the four model lineup of Enjoy and Cosmo trim choices in either manual or automatic. Powering all four MOKKA X derivatives is Opel’s proven 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged ECOTEC petrol engine, which produces 103 kW between 4 900 and 6 000 rpm and 200 Nm between 1 850 and 4 900 rpm.

Although not really an Opel fan, I have to say this Opel is pretty good. Just sitting on the very comfortable, highly adjustable seat, looking at the dash and interior you can see just how far Opel have come. You feel it too. Top class materials and finishes.

Opel Mokka X dashboard

Speaking at the launch of the new Opel MOKKA X, Ian Nicholls said “Opel is on its way to achieving its vision of becoming the second largest passenger car brand in Europe by 2022. Part of this success is a renewed focus on bringing competitive new products to market, in fact the MOKKA X is the 13th new or refreshed Opel to be launched in South Africa since 2012.”

Aimed at drivers who are looking for a vehicle that is safe, family oriented and powerful, the MOKKA X merges functionality, connectivity, technology and safety in a vehicle which is just 4.28-metres from bumper to bumper.

Consumption, back home with the X 1.4 driving my usual routes, I got was 8.1L/100. You could possibly improve on this as Opel claim 6.5 L/100km or less, depending on model.

I have to say this crossover has brilliant brakes and nippy performance. It is not only a looker, considering the genre, but a little performer.

The interior is very good and feels quite upmarket. It has one of the best media centre/ touchscreen centres I have used.

Opel Mokka X 1.4

It is a snazzy little crossover which feels well put together.

All new Opel MOKKA X derivatives are backed by Opel Complete Care with a comprehensive 5-year/ 120 000 km warranty and come with a 5-year/ 90 000 km service plan linked to service intervals of 15 000 km.

Prices look like this:  Latest click here.

New Opel Mokka X Retail price incl. VAT
MOKKA X 1.4T Enjoy 6MT R 317, 500.00
MOKKA X 1.4T Enjoy 6AT R 328, 400.00
MOKKA X 1.4T Cosmo 6MT R 357, 400.00
MOKKA X 1.4T Cosmo 6AT R 368, 100.00

Ashley Haigh-Smith to drive in Gumtree World RX of South Africa

South African rally driver Ashley Haigh-Smith will make his World RX debut in an Olsbergs MSE Supercar at Gumtree World RX of South Africa, round 12 of the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy. Cape Town RX forms the final round of the World Championship and takes place at the Killarney International Raceway in two months’ time (11-12 November).

Haigh-Smith is the second South African to announce he will compete at his home event – two weeks ago Mark Cronje confirmed his Cape Town RX entry in an Albatec Racing prepared Peugeot 208 RX Supercar.

At just 25-years-old, Haigh-Smith has amassed plenty of experience behind the wheel having competed in the Junior World Rally Championship – the only South African driver to have done so – and he also holds the record as the youngest ever South African S1600 Champion. This year, he is competing in the French Peugeot 208 Rally Cup.

“I have always been interested in Rallycross, but when I was invited to the launch of the World Rallycross of South Africa in Cape Town earlier this year, it was like a switch was tripped and I could think of nothing else,” explained Haigh-Smith who was born and raised in Cape Town. “We have to be realistic about our objectives coming into the final event of the World RX season – the competition is incredibly strong. I will give my all and be relying on the deep experience and tactical support my race team OMSE will offer me.”

When talking about the home support, Haigh-Smith added: “I am a born and bred Capetonian, which makes this event extra special. Bringing World RX to South Africa is exactly what we need to boost motorsport here and get local fans excited again. It’s a fantastic showcase for the talent we have on home soil. We have the ability to host world-class events, and RX will help boost the motorsport industry, local communities and the broader economy. World RX has already caused a huge media splash and is showing spectacular spectator growth around the world. It comes down to the action-packed racing on show, as well as just how up close and personal spectators can get with drivers and teams throughout the event.”

Haigh-Smith is due to test the Olsbergs MSE Supercar in Europe in the coming weeks, but admitted it would be a steep learning curve.

“There’s so much to learn, but you can be sure I will give my all to represent South Africa and give fans something to cheer for. In the short time I have been committed to World RX, I want to thank OMSE, IMG and Killarney International Raceway who have been incredibly helpful in getting us prepared for the event. I also want to thank all who have been working behind the scenes to make this possible, I’m really privileged to have such a strong and supportive team behind me. I’m really pumped for November,” concluded Haigh-Smith.

For more information on Gumtree World RX of South Africa, please visit http://www.capetownrx.com

Tickets are on sale at the following link:

http://www.ticketpros.co.za/portal/web/index.php/event/b9153aff-d87e-2625-1a20-58c17a1f4873

Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4 MIVEC GLS EXCEED 4WD CVT review

Mitsubishi Outlander

The Outlander is a very comfortable, very capable and spacious car.

Mitsubishi Outlander

It is one of those cars which don’t sell in big numbers, but should because it is such a good solution to the motoring needs of particularly families and entrepreneurs. It is also a pleasure to drive.

“The Mitsubishi Outlander is a luxury lifestyle vehicle in every sense of the word,” says Nic Campbell, General Manager for Mitsubishi Motors. “It’s spacious, comfortable and stylish with all the features customers expect in a vehicle of this calibre. The new design language gives it a fresh, bold appearance that truly illustrates the Outlander’s capabilities.”

The Outlander is fitted with a fully adjustable multi-function steering wheel with gearshift paddles and access to voice controls and hands-free Bluetooth phone functionality. The touch-screen audio display is user-friendly, and a separate display screen ensures all vehicle information is available to the driver at a glance. The Rockford Fosgate sound system is above par.

Distributed across three rows, the Outlander’s seven seats offer real comfort and many loading options. The second and third row seats can be folded completely flat, opening up an impressive amount of loading space.

The seats in the second row can slide 250mm forward which makes for easy access to the third row from either side of the vehicle.

Mitsubishi Outlander in profile at Moonlight Bay

Very good  ground clearance at 190mm makes it easy to get in and out of as the seat is hip high, and also very capable off tar.

I got 9.8ℓ/100km during the week that I drove it although Mitsubishi claims 8.2 ℓ/100km. The good news is the 2.4-litre 16-valve DOHC MIVEC petrol engine producing 123kW and 222 Nm really wafts you to your destination without ever breaking into a sweat. It is a superb touring car.

Power is delivered to all four wheels through Mitsubishi’s  INVECS-III Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT) with a 6-step Sports Mode shift control. The CVT gearbox adapts to varying road conditions and power demands.

The Multi Select Four Wheel Drive system makes driving the Outlander in varying terrain easy. The system has three separate modes: Eco, Auto and Lock. In Lock mode under normal road conditions, priority is placed on performance. More torque is directed to the rear wheels than in 4WD Auto Mode to provide greater power off the line, better control when accelerating on gravel or loose surfaces, and enhanced stability at high speeds. This system works very well.

Outlander has a full Euro NCAP crash test five-star safety rating as it is equipped with all the crucial safety features, including Active Stability and Traction Control (ASTC), ABS brakes with Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (BAS), as well as Hill Start Assist (HSA) for tricky inclines.

Touring, space, driving long distances are this car’s forte. It is a family car in the tradition of the Ford Fairlane, Valiant Regal Safari, Borgward station wagon and Chevy Kommando of old. Space and place for everyone, power and good looks.

I found the Outlander a really nice car to live with. Highly recommended.

The new Mitsubishi Outlander costs R549 900 with a 3-year or 100 000 km warranty and a service plan for five years or 90 000 km.

Mitsubishi Outlander at Moonlight Bay

Competition includes Subaru Forester, Subaru Outback, Volvo V60 Cross Country and possibly the Mazda CX-5.

Bass Lake 4×4 training

Bass Lake 4×4 training

Bass Lake 4x4 driver training

Bass Lake 4×4 driver training

04:45 N2 to Cape Town International.

What am I doing at this time on this road?

09:45 Boma, Bass Lake with coffee in hand. Jimny’s waiting outside. Ahh, now I know why.

Keep two wheels on the ground

Keep two wheels on the ground

Alan Pepper is a good instructor, but he is an even better story teller.

He has fairly strongly held views on matters off-road which I for the most part agree with. He gave us some really good advice and a solid theoretical grounding in 4×4 principles.

Then he let us loose on the very varied training ground, always on hand to show, to explain, to guide.

Alan has a fleet of 3 manual Jimnys and an automatic Grand Vitare.

We took turns getting the basics right and learning to read the road before lunch. That Malva pudding alone is worth the trip to Bass Lake.

After lunch the ten of us tackled the more adventurous section.  There are one or two inclines which I would have been inclined to avoid on my own. Not with Alan around. What a day.

One piece of good advice: “Drive the back wheels”.

Ooops. Getting it.

Ooops. Getting it.

Kyleigh Smith, Suzuki Auto SA’s PR Co-ordinator did a great job behind the scenes. Thank you Suzuki.

Speaking of which. Those Jimnys are great vehicles. Simple, solid engineering. The right stuff.

Audi A5 Coupé review

Audi A5 Coupé
The Audi A5 Coupé is a beautiful car, both inside and out.

The signature design element of the body is the wave-shaped shoulder line which starts at the nose and flows along below the windows through to and over the broad hips to a small lip on the rear. The nose has just the right dimensions. Aggressive, but not brutal. The rear is curvy, yet simple and elegant. With a drag coefficient of 0.25, the A5 Coupé is also the segment leader with respect to aerodynamics. It looks the part. This car drew people to look at it appreciatingly.

Audi says: “The new generation of the A5 Coupé is athletic, sporty and elegant, while its design goes hand-in-hand with sophisticated aerodynamics. Under the skin the Audi A5 impresses with an all-new chassis, powerful engines, and innovative infotainment features and driver assistance systems.” That about sums it up.
The interior is… well, a cockpit. As you get to spend time in it, you appreciate the materials, the layout, the dimensions. It is a very satisfying place to spend time at the wheel, whether just going to the mall, or pushing over a mountain pass at a good pace. The A5 easily transforms from luxury conveyance to sporty car at a press of the “Dynamic” button. On a mountain pass with the sport mode selected this car is a load of fun.
Our test car was equipped with the optional Audi virtual cockpit, a 12.3-inch TFT display which is highly adjustable to suit the driver’s needs. This is the future of instrumentation for cars.

Audi A5 cabin

Audi is a world leader in car cabin design. In the A5 the interior is exciting and relaxing at the same time. I loved the little details. As with all coupés the doors are a little long, so there is an arm that extends forward and holds your seatbelt for you. Pretty cool hey? Subtle lighting brings up the ambient light in the cabin at night just enough to see what you need to without distracting you.

The comfortable and supportive front seats are electronically adjustable and have two memory settings (extra cost item). Leg room at the back is acceptable, but not for very tall passengers. The boot is large. As a result the car is both a good family car, bearing in mind the two large doors, and an exciting sporty car.

In 2007 Audi introduced the A5 to the world. This year the second generation of A5 and S5 based on the B9 platform which it shares with the A4 is being introduced. The 5 comes as a coupé, sportback and convertible, and with a choice of three engines: two TFSI and one TDI unit. Their power output has been increased and is now between 140 kW and 185 kW. The sportback and coupé are on our roads already but the Audi A5 and S5 Cabriolet will only be available later this month.
The TDI we drove has a four-cylinder 2.0 TDI producing 140 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque with a claimed consumption of 4.1 L/ 100 km. We got 5.9L/100km, which is still very good.

Audi A5

These cars have all the driving safety aids, whether passive or active, of a top class car. Fortunately there is a comfortable setting for normal driving, as well as the eco and dynamic settings, which results in a smooth restful ride. If you are feeling a little restless you just select “Dynamic”. It also has an auto mode which switches between the modes as well as a personal setting which allows you to choose how it will behave.

The car we tested was the Audi A5 Coupé 2.0 TDI 140 kW Stronic Sport at a base price of R 653,000 excluding extras, which in this case included S-line trim, panoramic sunroof, Navigation with MMI, parking plus, rearview camera, three-zone aircon and special Mythos Blue paint.

The range starts with the A5 Coupé 2.0T FSI 140 kW S tronic at R 589,000. The top model is the S5 Coupé 3.0T FSI 260 kW quattro S tronic at R 928,000. The top Audi S5 Cabriolet 3.0T FSI quattrotiptronic comes in at R 1,028,000. The base A5 Cabriolet 2.0T FSI S tronic is R 689,000 without extras.

To these prices you need to add quite a few thousands to pay for the ‘optional’ equipment.

The cars all have a 5 year/100 000km Audi Freeway Plan and a one year unlimited warranty.

Fiat Tipo Hatchback 1.4 review

FIAT Tipo Hatch 1.4

The VW Golf has a certain status in our market. It is considered by many as just the right size and feel to be their car of choice.

In the last few years the Golf has got competition in the medium-compact segment with cars like the Hyundai Accent and i20, Kia Cerato, Mazda 3, Suzuki Ciaz and Baleno.

Fiat has just launched a simple but comprehensive range of sedan and hatch models to take Golf and these cars on, the Tipo. The Fiat Tipo is a little bigger than the Golf internally and is more down to earth, but we think, much better value for money.

FIAT Tipo Hatch

The Tipo family was developed around the brief “Skills, no frills” and combines the brand’s historic concepts of functionality, simplicity and personality in an extraordinary value-for-money offering.

Don’tbe fooled into thinking it is inferior, the Tipo family has been awarded a string of accolades, the latest of which is the prestigious Autobest “Best Buy Car 2016” award, chosen by a jury of 26 journalists from the most authoritative European car magazines. Tipo is sold in 50 countries and uses the selling point of generous standard equipment along with active and passive safety systems in an affordable package.

Locally two body styles, three trim levels, three engines and three transmission types will be available.

The hatch we drove is attractive without breaking the mould and yet has great detail design elements. We found it to have excellent ergonomics: comfort, space configuration, accessibility, visibility and driving position. The handling and roadholding, especially on slightly rough road surfaces is very good. The car feels settled.

The interior of the Tipo has loads of compartments with a variety of shapes and capacities totalling no less than 12 litres and can be used for storing personal objects, smartphones, bottles, coins and more. Furthermore, a media centre for connecting devices is situated in front of the gear lever. The Tipo features the latest-generation audio systems including a hands-free Bluetooth interface, audio streaming, text reader and voice recognition, AUX and USB ports with iPod integration, controls on the steering wheel and, on demand, the optional rear parking camera and the new TomTom 3D built-in navigation system is optionally available on all models except the EASY.

The load capacity is also class-leading: 440 litres for the hatchback and 520 litres for the sedan. The boot sill is low and stepless, to facilitate loading even the bulkiest of packages.

Modern active and passive safety devices are standard, including driver and front passenger airbags (with side and curtain airbags as an option). Also standard is electronic stability control (ESC), an effective but non-invasive driving aid. This sophisticated system helps to maintain steering control under extreme conditions, such as on wet or slippery roads, or when tackling tight corners or making sudden emergency manoeuvres.

All Tipos get LED daytime running lights.

The 1.4 16v Fire is the entry-level petrol engine of the Tipo family. This engine delivers 70kW at 6,000 r/min and reaches maximum torque of 127Nm at 4,500 r/min. This engine is fine here in the Cape but may be a little ‘pap’ on the highveld

The models we recommend are those with the 1.6 E-torQ petrol engine mated to 6-speed auto box.

The top-of-the-range 1.3 MultiJet II diesel with a 5-speed manual box is energetic, to say the least.

The Tipo has a range of 70 Mopar accessories , which include a jacket hanger, work table and tablet holder on the headrests of the front seats among more mundane items.

The Fiat Tipo Hatchback and Sedan is now available from Fiat dealerships countrywide.

The South African Range range consists of:

Fiat Tipo Sedan

1.4l Pop – R229,900

1.4l Easy – R249,900

1.3l D Easy – R274,900

1.6l Easy Auto – R274,900

Fiat Tipo Hatchback

1.4l POP – R249,900

1.4l EASY – R269,900

1.4l LOUNGE – R289,900

1.6l EASY Auto – R294,900

We think the EASY models, particularly the 1.6 hit the sweet spot.

All Fiat Tipo models come with a standard 3 year / 100,000km warranty and service plan.