Ranger 3.2 TDCi Double Cab XLT AT 4×4

Ranger 3.2 TDCi Double Cab XLT AT 4×4

Ranger 3.2 TDCi Double Cab XLT AT 4×4

We tested this bakkie before in 2.2 and 3.2 guise but I have to say this facelifted version is even better. Ford has really pulled out all the stops to improve an already good vehicle. The interior sets the standard for the bakkie sector.

You can move effortlessly between 2WD and 4WD high mode or low mode with what Ford calls Shift-on-the-fly. It waltzes over any obstacle effortlessly.

I really like the e-Locking Rear Differential, ESP braking system and the clever underseat storage.
The big turbo diesel puts out a massive 470 @ 1500 – 2750 and achieves a claimed 8.6L/100km. I got just over 10L/100km.

It is a pleasure to drive on and off-road. It has the power. To do almost anything… a bakkie should.

There are a number of trim and equipment levels to choose from

Base – Fleet workhorses: manual windows, vinyl flooring, no ABS or air-con
XL – Mid-level: ABS, ESC, radio with bluetooth, electric windows
XL plus – Heavy duty: like XL but adds 4×4, dual batteries, expanded wiring harness, 17” wheels and AT tyres
XLS – With instrument panel incorporatingSYNC® with a CD player and Bluetooth.
XLT – With even more goodies for the leisure market, and dual colour 4.2-inch TFT screen.
Wildtrak – Top of the range is our equivalent to the Raptor in the bigger US Ford bakkies.

The Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux are somewhat different but they are equals. One does some things better than the other and vice versa.

I personally prefer the Ranger above the HiLux.

The bakkie as tested costs R570 900

Ford Ranger XLT TDCi 3.2 Auto

Ford Ranger XLT TDCi 3.2 Auto

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Audi A3 Sportback 2.0 TFSI S tronic review

A3 Sportback with 2.0 TFSI S tronic 140 kW

A3 Sportback 2.0T FSI S tronic

Damn, but the little A3 hits a sweet spot. Looks, cachet, performance, desirability, quality all neatly intersect like 4 perfect rings to create a gem of a little car.

What’s not to like?

Perhaps two things. The price, once you have added an item or two to the bare bones basic car, and a rather choppy, bumpy ride caused mainly by the very low profile tyres and which Audi says is balanced for sportiness .

Put those two issues behind you and its motoring joy in a small package.

The new Audi A3 is available as a three-door Hatchback, a five-door Sportback, Sedan and as a Cabriolet.
The body is almost perfectly in balance from the redesigned Singleframe grille to the newly contoured rear diffuser. It is really pleasing to the eye.

Audi A3 dash

Inside it is classy and exudes quality. The A3’s dash is functional, uncluttered and simple to use, and yet delivers everything you need and it looks smart.

The main element is the instrument binnacle directly in front of the driver which has a virtual cockpit display adding to the car’s upmarket feel. The display replaces the dials with a digital screen that, in addition to speed and revs, can show everything from fuel economy to satnav maps.

The 7-inch display screen is positioned high in the middle of the dash making it easy to glance at while driving and drops down into dash when not needed. A brilliant solution. The Bluetooth interface works very well, making it oh so easy to couple with your phone and has a rare clarity. The MMI radio, Satnav, vehicle settings, climate control are all managed via the screen either by touch or using the easy to use large round control knob between the seats.

Bi-xenon lights are standard, while LED headlights as well as Matrix LED headlights are also optionally available. Both LED and Matrix LED headlights offer dynamic turn signals which means the lights illuminate to the side which you are turning.


There are three petrol and one diesel engine to choose from and either manual or 7-speed S tronic transmission. I would recommend the Sportback1.4TFSI S tronic at R438 000 as the best buy in the range.
I got a long term average fuel consumption of 8.9L/100km, which is a little more than the 5.9 claimed by Audi and I must add I did not drive the car aggressively.

The A3 Sportback is a driver’s car. It is worth the premium price if you love driving and will reward you with many hours of driving pleasure. If you are more into luxury perhaps the Volvo or baby Merc is a better bet.
The A3 Sportback 2.0T FSI S tronic costs R 525 000 as tested, which included a few extras like a sunroof, S line trim and metallic paint. The standard warranty is 2 years with unlimited mileage and the service plan is the 5 year/100 000km Audi Freeway Plan.

Also look at the BMW 1 series, Mercedes A-series, Volvo V40, VW Golf and Subaru WRX.

Prices for the A3 Sportback start at R398 500 for the 1.0T FSI to R646 000 for the S3 Sportback quattro S tronic. The base price of the car we tested, without the extras is R 455 000.

Audi A3 Sportback rear

Mazda CX-5 2.2L DE Akera AWD Automatic review

Mazda CX-5  2.2L DE Akera AWD Automatic

Mazda CX-5

Mazda CX-5

Mazda sells just over 50 cars a day, of which the Mazda 3 and CX-5 make up 55%. Mazda CX-5 sales in particular grew by 93% over the past year, making the model the segment leader in the Compact SUV Segment, helped no doubt by the clever positioning of the six model range.

Why are so many people buying the CX-5?

Styling

Kodo is the mantra at the Mazda design office. They rave on about soul of motion styling with flowing lines in a package that melts away the boundaries between the interior and exterior.

Mazda CX-5 at Boschendal

Mazda CX-5 at Boschendal

It is a good looking car, inside and out. The lines are pleasing and it just looks balanced. This new generation of Mazda’s are all good looking cars but I think this CX-5 and the sporty MX-5 get it perfectly right. That balance between standing out from the crowd, but not being outlandish. It is a design that should age well.

Interior

mazda_cx5_dashI particularly liked the three different textures or surfaces from soft to semi-soft the hard plastic. Areas which you will see but rarely touch are generally semi-soft, areas you will touch tend to be soft touch and wearing surfaces hard. Not only clever and practical, but also stylish and effective.

Mazda’s infotainment system is called MZD Connect. It is an intuitive easy to use system. The controls and switches on the MX-5 just sit where they should, and work the way they should. They are a pleasure to use.

The two top models get an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat with power lumber support. Upholstery is leather. These seats are really comfortable.

You can tell that Mazda are aiming at the top end of the market with their top models and now match Audi with this interior.

Technically

Mazda’s 2.2 turbo-diesel engine puts out 129kW and delivers a solid 420Nm. Much more than you need for a car of this size, but its nice to have and makes overtaking a breeze. Fuel consumption is very good at an average 7.3 litres/ 100km for the week I drove the car.

I drove the smaller CX-3 with the 2.0 litre normally aspirated petrol engine and can report it is spirited and I got 8 litres/ 100km, in the smaller SUV.

The new Mazda auto shifter combines the best attributes of conventional automatic, continuously variable and dual clutch transmissions. It works for me.

Most models have Blind Spot Monitoring and Lane Keep Assist, both of which really enhance safety.

In the smarter models ( Individual and Akera models) the Adaptive Front-Lighting System swivel up to 15 degrees in the direction you’re steering, revealing more of the corner. These lights also automatically adjust for oncoming traffic.

Mazda CX-5 with the Drakenstein

Mazda CX-5 with the Drakenstein

Handling

Sweet. In a nutshell, she handles sweetly. The CX-5 feels nimble and sits well on the road.

Summary

This new generation CX-5 is an advanced luxury car which offers top class safety and luxury with really good performance, handling and fuel economy. I liked it and would personally consider it if I was in the market now.

Price

From R363 900 for the 2.0 L Active petrol to the 2.2 diesel Akera as tested at R533 400.

Full price list here.

Mazda gives you a 3 year unlimited km warranty and service plan.

Competition

Nissan Qashqai and X-trail, Audi Q3, Kia Sportage, Suzuki Vitara, Honda CR-V, VW Tiguan, Toyota RAV 4, Renault Kadjar.

mazda_cx5_bum

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 Tiguan 1.4 TSi Comfortline review

VW Tiguan 1.4 TSi Comfortline

My wife watches a programme on Dstv where they give people a little pizazz or new lease on life by giving them a new hairstyle, change of wardrobe, show them which-make up suits them and so on. A bit of spit and polish, as it were.

That’s more or less what the engineers at VW’s  massive Puebla plant in Mexico, where Tiguan is made, did. Sure the new Tiguan is built on the new MQB platform and is longer and wider than the first generation car, but it’s more of the same recipe many South Africans loved. Brought up to date by giving it bolder styling, new tech under the skin and improvements in economy and ride quality.

VW Tiguan 1.4

VW Tiguan 1.4 at the Tasting Station Elgin.

We tested the 1.4 TSi turbo-petrol engined manual derivative. It is a pleasant car to drive. I think the performance is fine and the handling is excellent, perhaps partly due to the lowering by 30mm of the new version compared to the original. The highly adjustable optional electric front seats fitted to our review car are very comfortable together with the adjustable multi function steering wheel allow you to find an optimal driving position.

The Tguan we drove was heavier on fuel by a country mile than VW’s claimed consumption. The long term average consumption of the unit driven was 8 litre/ 100km with 11.4 L/100km achieved in town.

The Tiguan comes with a Marie biscuit type spare wheel with fairly comprehensive emergency kit in the biggish boot of 520 litres with the seats up. Double that with the seats folded flat.

vw-tiguan-dashI generally like VW interiors and the Tiguan is no exception. The black trim, including the roof lining looks good. Fit and finish and the materials used have an aura of good quality. A nice touch is the CD player in the cubby hole.

The interior feels and looks very good and is a very pleasant place to travel in. The logic and layout is just right.

The water bottle holder in the door is too big though, so a normal (cycling) bottle keeps falling over.

The leg room for the back seats is much more than you normally get in this size of car and the back of the front seats even have a fold down table, although it appears to be a little flimsy.

Think of the new Tiguan as a Golf on steroids rather than a small sister to the Toureg. This new Tiguan has no off-road pretences, its strictly a car for the road, but handles gravel with aplomb.

Price as standard is R419 000 without all the extras fitted to our test car. As tested with all the extras:

  • Sunroof  R4000vw-tiguan-backseat
  • Towbar   R7500
  • Auto boot lid   R5000
  • Active info display with 6.5-inch touchscreen R8000
  • App connect    R1500
  • DynAudio sound package   R13000
  • Adaptive cruise control  R5000
  • Vienna leather seats R11000
  • R-line exterior package  R18000
  • LED headlights   R7500                                  Total R80 500

The price of the car you see in the pictures is actually an eye watering R500 000. With some of the items you have to buy another as the come bundled. So if you want the DynAudio package you need to also take the space saver spare wheel! What the wheel has to do with the audio is a mystery. Perhaps they use it as a type of boom box.

I think the car is a little on the expensive side. If you are a VW fan you will love this car.

The range starts with the very basic Trendline from R379,900.44, next up is the Comfortline trim level in petrol from R419 900 to diesel R469 500 and finally the Highline from R549 000. In all cases you are going to pay much more because the basic car has very little in the way of equipment, clearly demonstrated by the extra options fitted to our review car. Add R50 000 to the sticker price of the VW when comparing to cars which come fully equipped.

Here is the official VWSA price list.

Other similar cars to look at include Suzuki Vitara, Ford Kuga, Nissan Qashqai, Jeep Renegade, Audi Q3, Renault Kadjar, Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi ASX and Honda CR-V.

We recommend you take the Mazda CX-5 and Nissan Qashqai for a test before deciding.

vw-tiguan-back

Datsun GO+ Panel Van review

The new Datsun 1400 bakkie has arrived

I had a little powder blue Nissan 1400 bakkie with a white canopy when I started working. It was a great little vehicle, except on the long road to… anywhere. The cabin was a little small for real travelling comfort, but around town and as a runabout it was without par.

The Datsun 1200 pickup (120Y) was launched in June 1971 at just R1295. There were no options, except colour. The Datsun 1200 pickup model B120 which had 12”wheels became the Datsun 1400 in 1980. It was again updated and facelifted as the Nissan 1400 (B140) in 1982 and was built till November 2007. Over 285 000 were built at Rosslyn near Pretoria over the years and quite a few hundred were exported each year.

In 2007 at the end of its life it cost R74 990 and produced 47kw and 97 Nm to achieve a top speed of 146 km/h.

In October this year Nissan quietly launched the Datsun GO+ Panel Van, the spiritual successor to the 1400 bakkie.

The GO+ is based on a 7 seater multi-purpose vehicle, but is a real little panel van with a proper loadbay. Like the bakkie of old, it carries just over half a ton.

Datsun Go+ van

Datsun Go+ van

The GO+ has a modern 1.1 litre 3-cylinder engine which pushes out 50kW 105 Nm letting you get to 160 km/h eventually, on a longish downhill. Like the original 1400 bakkie it does not have ABS or EBD, which I think is a pity.

If you love dogs this little van is perfect. The two rear windows can open and the back can just be wiped clean. The rear windows all have dark security film.

Like its ancestor, the Go is a simple vehicle and simple to drive. There is nothing fancy, but what it has got works well. The aircon cools the whole van down in no time. The engine is a tad noisy but is very willing in town conditions. The breaks are fine but beware: there is no ABS.

datsun-go-dashThe quality, fit and finish of the interior is somewhat industrial but is acceptable.
It comes with a docking station or unit into which you can plug a GPS, phone or iPod. It has a USB port for charging.
The rear door has a remote lock. The side doors work exactly like the car’s.
I think this little panel van is going to do very well, especially considering the price and low operating costs.

The biggest thing that keeps entrepreneurs awake at night is often cash flow. Making sure that money coming in exceeds money going out is one of the biggest challenges facing any small business. If your business involves carrying goods, chances are that payments, maintenance and running costs come a close second to worries about cash flow.

Des Fenner, General Manager of Datsun South Africa, suggests that taking time to draw up a schedule before paying out hard-earned cash for a delivery vehicle pays major dividends. It’s all about checking what’s available and then listing the pros and cons, he says.

Datsun Go+ Panelvan

Datsun Go+ Panelvan

With this new mini panel van from Datsun easy access to loads is offered through the two rear doors on both sides, and the high opening rear hatch, which will make quick deliveries and pick-ups easy. A solid partition separates the cargo area from the driving compartment. The divider is topped with a sturdy mesh grill, that ensures loads stay where required, and provides the driver with the ability to quickly visually check loads.

The GO+ van has all the creature comforts of the car on which it is based. Electric front windows, air conditioner, neat little trip and consumption indicator, bottle holders and the like are standard but not a radio.

With a total loading capacity of 542 kg and a loading area of 3.4m³ it is ideal for small businesses that need to deliver and/ or collect small to medium sized parcels/ goods. The Datsun GO+ Panel Van has the biggest cargo space and cargo carrying capacity of 542kgs – about 267kgs more than its closest priced competitor, in the upper A-segment/ lower B-segment.

The vehicle’s strongest selling point, however, is the Datsun GO+ Panel Van’s total cost of ownership. At an extremely appealing selling price, the cost per kilometre will surely assist any start-up and business-conscious entrepreneur.

Datsun claims the following consumption figures:
• Cost per kilometre R1.87 prices as of 01/10/2016 FLEETCUBE
• Claim back 14% VAT if a registered business owner
• An economical 1.2 litre petrol engine that delivers 50kW at 5 000 rpm Torque 104 Nm at 4 000 rpm
• Fuel consumption of 5.2 litres per 100km in an urban/country cycle

I got fuel consumption figures of around 6.5 litres / 100km, but bear in mind the car was brand new, so the figure should improve.

datsun-go-van-rear
The selling price is R 149 900 (incl. VAT)
The service plan includes replacement of lock nuts, average labour rate, engine oil and some consumables, with the following options available:
• 3 year/ 90 000km at R14 765 (incl. VAT)
• 5 year/ 90 000km at R15 299 (incl. VAT)
• 7 year/ 120 000km at R20 449 (incl. VAT)
A maintenance plan is also available with the following options:
• 3 year/ 90 000km at R28 904 (incl. VAT)
• 5 year/ 90 000km at R29 979 (incl. VAT)
• 7 year/ 120 000km at R46 033 (incl. VAT)
I recommend taking out the 5 year maintenance plan.
Datsun provides a 3 year/100 000km warranty.
The competition includes Toyota Avanza, Honda Mobilio and Suzuki Ertiga.

Opel Driving Dynamics advanced driving course

Opel Driving Dynamics advanced driving course
The advanced on-road driving skills course presented by Yokohama Driving Dynamics at Gerotek is something I have wanted to attend for quite a while now.

Opel Adam S on the skid pan at Gerotek

Opel Adam S on the skid pan at Gerotek

A day at Gerotek with the Opel training team of Marius Janse van Rensburg and Barry Ingle is the stuff of petrolhead dreams.
High speed oval, skidpan manoeuvres, development track runs are all in a day at the on-road driving skills course.
So. Why would you want to spend a day driving fast; losing control, on purpose and practicing high speed lane changes on a very slippery wet surface, nogal; when y0u could, well, read a book, or mow the lawn.

Let me tell you.

You will learn so much about your own driving style and about being a better driver that you will kick yourself for not doing the course earlier. Besides which, its a whole load of fun.
Here’s another good reason. Some insurance companies reduce your premium on proof of attending an advanced driving course.

Marius, our instructor.

Marius, our instructor.

The facilities at Gerotek are simply brilliant. From the lapa where you have lunch and attend the morning briefing to the various tracks and skidpans, everything is top class.
The fleet of Opel cars, from Astra OPC to Adam S to Mocha, provide a car for every taste. I really enjoyed driving the Adam S round the tight development track.
My day on the Yokohama Driving Dynamics driving skills course which was sponsored by Opel started with a briefing which covered the basics of attitude, awareness and defensive driving principles.
We then moved on to the skid pan where we spent the rest of the morning practicing high speed emergency lane changes, regaining control of a vehicle and correcting over- and under steering.
After lunch we went to the development track where we learned about steering, gearing, braking and cornering. We then did 4 sets of 3 laps in the different cars during which the instructors helped us to improve our driving.
The cherry on top was the high speed oval where we workshopped seating positions and steering techniques. The team then demonstrated braking and the distances involved at the various speeds. This was quite an eye opener.

Opel Astra braking hard.

Opel Astra braking hard.

Our final exercise was a set of three 2 lap runs around the oval at high speed. Scary stuff. Its amazing how one develops a kind of tunnel vision when you are on the steep slope on the banked corners. The armco barrier looks very close. I got new respect for Nascar drivers.
During the day we discussed the K53 rules in the context of today’s cars and best practice. Some of the rules are no longer correct. For example K53 says: When coming to a stop, the brake pedal shall be depressed before disengaging the clutch, in order to prevent coasting. In other words K53 tells you to first use the clutch then brake. With modern systems (and at speed) its far better to engage the brakes first and then the clutch. It’s high time K53 was revised.
opel-5-braking-distancesIn South Africa we experience 23.5 accidents per 100 000 people, while the international norm is 17.4, and its only 9.2 in developed countries. Just as scary there is a death every 37 minutes on our roads. 80 percent of the deaths on the country’s roads comprise of adults and males between the ages of 19 and 34. The safest time to travel is between 01:00 and 06:00.
The normal training schedule will be something like this:
08:30 Theoretical presentation
10:00 High speed oval
11:00 Ride and handling
12:00 Straight track
13:00 Lunch in lapa
14:00 Skidpan
16:30 Debrief
The one day Opel Driving Dynamics advanced driving course costs R2250, which includes the cars, the training and lunch.
The Yokohama Isuzu Off-road one day course costs R1140 and the weekend course R3420.
It is best to contact them by email on info@drivingdynamics.co.za, or alternatively phone the office on 011 431 2000.

The grid at the development track

The grid at the development track