Ford EcoSport revisited

When most people think of a compact sports utility vehicle, the EcoSport will come to mind. It was one of the original compact SUV’s.
With the facelifted EcoSport, Ford has wisely not messed with a winning formula. They updated the electronic systems and refreshed the interior. The rest they left mostly as is.

Ford EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium

“Ford has sold more than 45 000 EcoSport units in South Africa since it was launched in 2013, and it has been a major player in its segment ever since thanks to its great looks, impressive space and versatility, superb all-round performance and exceptional value for money,” says Tracey Delate, General Manager, Marketing at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. He has a point.

What else is there?

For a few rand more the super competent Mazda CX3 is a really good smaller SUV. I am a big fan of the rugged and practical Renault Duster and the quirky Jeep Renegade. Opel offers the Mokka, Honda the interesting BR-V and Toyota the Rush. Peugeot’s 2008 is a different almost left-of-field option.
Newcomers include the Hyundai Kona and Creta, Haval H2 and soon to be launched VW T-Cross.

Whats new?

Ecosport now gets floating central touchscreens up to 8-inches based on Ford’s brilliant SYNC®3 system, which provides connectivity with Navigation, Cruise Control with Adjustable Speed Limiter.
Electronic Stability Control, a minimum of six airbags and rear parking sensors are all standard across the range.

Ford Ecosport

The interior is now more up-market and user-centric, but will still be familiar. I particularly like the 12v power point at the back, the two USB ports in front and the blue lighting at the base of the central cup holders.
The new seat designs are more comfortable (and supportive) for both front and rear occupants and the front seats nogal get warmers.

New alloy wheels complement the rugged, sporty character, and are offered in Gunmetal grey five-spoke 16-inch versions on the Trend series, or striking 17-inch rims on the Titanium. I prefer the former with slightly fatter 55 ratio tyres.

The adjustable boot floor has a new height adjustable floor that can be raised to provide concealed storage, or lowered to increase luggage capacity to 334 litres. It is a kind of shelf.

Driving safety has been stepped up with standard fitment of Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Traction Control (TC), as well as Roll Stability Control (RSC) in the EcoBoost range, that adjusts engine torque and braking to help drivers maintain control. Additionally, the 1.0 EcoBoost-powered models gain Hill Launch Assist (HLA) that makes pulling off on steep inclines easier, along with Ford’s Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).

 

Trend and Titanium versions offer either six-speed manual gearbox or the latest-generation six-speed automatic box. The fuel consumption during the time I drove a Titanium automatic model was just over 8 L/100km. With a light touch, under 8 L/100km should be easily achievable and nearer 5 on the open road.
The car never feels under powered or unstable. It is really user friendly.

Prices start at R 264 500 for the base 1.5 TDCi Ambiente manual diesel model. The 1.0 EcoBoost Trend six-speed manual is priced at R 287 500 and the automatic at R300 700. The Titanium automatic at R339 800 is R12 000 more than the manual. The later all turbo-petrol engines.

Ford Protect is a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A four-year/60 000km service plan is included.

Advertisements

Haval H9 reviewed

Be prepared to be surprised with the new big SUV from Haval.

Haval H9 2.0 Petrol 4WD Luxury

The H9 2.0 Petrol 4WD Luxury from Haval breaks new ground in our market. It is an apparently tough offroad capable, luxury seven-seater, real SUV with all the bells and whistles you could wish for. Let’s say it immediately. The H9 is by far the best Chinese vehicle I have ever driven. If it had a Toyota or Hyundai badge it would already be selling hundreds of units a month possibly. It really is that good. Watch this space.

I predict that in five years Haval will have the brand recognition and cachet which Hyundai so richly deserves and enjoys now. Already the H9 outperforms the Sant Fe in some areas, bearing in mind that the new big one from Hyundai has moved upmarket and grown a bit in size.

Competition for the Haval H9 is divided into two camps. Those with real 4×4 capability and softroaders.

Haval H9

The real offroaders include the Suzuki Grand Vitara, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota Prado and Fortuner, Ford Everest, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Isuzu mu-X.

Softroaders will include the Kia Sorento, Toyota Rav4, Discovery Sport, Nissan X-trail, VW Tiguan Allspace, Peugeot 3008 and Volvo XC60 AWD.

Looking at the list you can see that the competition is stiff in this segment, so value-for-money will be key.

Viewed from a little distance the H9 looks a bit like a cross between a Land Cruiser and a Patrol, so it looks the part, but it is technically more like a Fortuner. It is a big car but not out of proportion, more fit for purpose.

Haval H9 2.0 Petrol 4WD Luxury interior

Inside the Haval is impressive. The leather front seats offer both heating and cooling and are electrically adjustable, the driver’s eight ways. It is easy to set up a really comfortable driving position. The dash is well equipped and laid out, with an eight-inch touchscreen with satnav, personalisable LCD instrument cluster, three-way climate control and a good sound system. The drive mode controls are on the tunnel between the seats. It has a long list of standard features in both the luxury as well as safety departments. All-in-all an impressive cabin with high perceived quality levels.

You may wonder, can a Chinese brand deliver high quality? Well, Haval is part of GWM which sells a million vehicles a year and their Steed bakkies have been holding up well locally without many complaints from owners. They have around 35 dealers in place already and the list is growing rapidly. In the Cape they have dealers in Malmesbury, Claremont, Goodwood and Cape Gate.

The H9 only comes with a 2.0 L direct-injection turbo-petrol engine delivering 180kW and 350Nm through an eight-speed ZF gearbox and a 4×4 system with eight modes. Borgwarner provides the transfer case, Eaton the limited-slip differential and Bosch the electronic stability control system. Pretty big names backing the off-road performance. It is a pity they do not offer a turbo-diesel variant.

Haval H9

Expect fuel consumption of just under 12 L/100km unless you are off-road when all bets are off. The car is relaxing to drive due partly to the good driving position but also the good marriage between the drivetrain and engine. The H9 will make a Grand Tourer, especially if you are going to the game parks and wilder areas. On highway she just steams along happily at the legal limit.

Safety is taken care of by a full complement of active and passive safety systems.

If value-for-money is important to you, the H9 should be on your shopping list if you require real off-road capability.

For peace of mind the H9 comes with a five year or 100 000 warranty. The five-year or 60 000 service plan and a long and complete list of features is included in the R599 900 list price.

Originally published in AutoSold.

Mahindra KUV 100 Nxt review

Mahindra KUV100 NXT

Small crossovers are becoming all the rage in town. There still only one real small off-road SUV, the Suzuki Jimny. All the others are on-road cars.

Just under, or around R200k you actually get a few choices. Alternatives include the Suzuki Ignis (R180k), Honda BR-V (R249k), Renault Sandero (171 900), Haval H1 (R177) and the Mahindra KUV 100 starting at R160k. My pick of the bunch is either Sandero or Ignis.

Autotrader says the KUV 100 “cleverly sidesteps the pothole of trying to compete against the exceptionally popular Polo Vivo or similar – instead, it aims to offer buyers the lowest-priced new cross-over SUV on the market. “
Mahindra’s KUV is bigger inside than you think, excluding the tiny boot which has a very high sill. In short, it has the cabin space of a small SUV-size vehicle, but the length of a hatch.

Mahindra have been building jeep-like vehicles and bakkies for many years and do know what they are doing. The little three-cylinder 1,2 mFalcon D75 turbo-diesel engine produces 57 kW and 190 Nm. The car feels gutsy and once the turbo kicks in, has lots of go. The gearbox and clutch combine well with the engine and are more than adequate for the job on hand.

Mahindra KUV 100 NXT

The steering is quite light and more than a little vague, but you can turn on a tickey.
In the cabin you quickly see where they saved money. I found the seats a little thin and almost flimsy.
The centre console is a large hang-down panel, with 3 rotary controls for the aircon. The gear lever is on the console next to the steering wheel, within easy reach and with short shifts.

The parking brake is really old-school and like bakkies of twenty years ago, you pull a handle and twist to engage. The audio switch is small and fiddly, and the centre controls screen is small, flanked by buttons which have the set menu access like Info and Phone, and 4 inner buttons which correspond to the current screen menu displayed.

There are steering-mounted controls for audio and Bluetooth phone, and a USB port on the upper console.
The Mahindra KUV100 comes in 3 spec level options: K4+, K6+ and K8.
All KUV100 Nxt models ship standard with dual front airbags and ABS, with K6+ and K8 variants adding EBD, automatic door locks and an alarm.

Although there is an ECO button it is best ignored. Keep the KUV in PWR mode, which is normal power anyway. Otherwise it is super pap.
You can switch the stop/start mode off with a button to the right of the steering wheel marked ESS.

The model we drove was the top of the range Mahindra KUV100 Nxt K8 Diesel at R219 999.
We have not driven the petrol version, but can say the diesel is a joy. Expect around 5 L/100km in mixed driving.

This car is not meant for long-haul highway driving, off-road excursions are large framed people.
Expect a cabin facelift in 2019. The centre panel will be upgraded.

A three-year/100 000 km warranty comes standard, while K6+ and K8 models also feature a three-year/50 000 km service plan.

Originally published in AutoSold.

VW Tiguan Allspace

VW Tiguan Allspace 2.0 TSI 4Motion (Highline)

VW makes space

The new Tiguan Allspace from Volkswagen is all about space. There are three rows of seats giving seven seats, but the rearmost two seats are for children only. There’s a 230 litre boot behind the third row. Fold the third row seats flat and the boot space increases to 700 litres, fold the second row flat and you have 1 775 litres of boot space. The cargo space length is then 1 921 mm – enough space even for surfboards or cycles.

The old size is now called the normal wheelbase model or NWB, and the longer, bigger, “better “ model the Allspace.
The rear doors of the Tiguan Allspace are also longer. The bonnet is raised up at the front above the radiator grille to adapt the proportions to the longer overall length.
The longer body significantly alters the side proportions of the Tiguan Allspace. The wheelbase is 110 mm longer, and now measures 2 791 mm. The rear overhang underscores is much longer increasing the total length by 215 mm to 4 701.

Other innovations in the new Tiguan are the “connected community” which uses Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, semi-automated driving and improved usability.

The Allspace is available in three trim lines – Trendline, Comfortline and Highline. The Allspace more standard features than the NWB model; highlighting its positioning between the NWB Tiguan and the flagship and substantially heftier Touareg.

The Tiguan Allspace 1.4 TSI comes in front-wheel-drive only. All other Tiguan Allspace models have 4MOTION (all wheel drive) as standard. The front-wheel drive Trendline can comfortably accommodate large trailer loads of up to 2,000 kg (braked 8% incline). The 4MOTION equipped Comfortline and Highline models are able to tow up to 2 500 kg (braked 8% incline).
The Allspace comes with either an off-road package or a “R” road package.

The intuitively operated rotary/pushbutton switch of the 4MOTION Active Control is located on the centre console. You use it to activate four higher-level modes and various pop-up menus. Turn the switch to the left to get one of the two road profiles. When it is turned to the right, the driver can select one of the two off-road modes, i.e. “Off-road” (automatic setting for off-road parameters) or “Off-road Individual” (variable settings). When the driver presses the control in one of these modes, a pop-up menu appears on the touchscreen of the infotainment system. 4MOTION Active Control lets the driver switch the assistance systems in a matter of seconds with a single manual operation to adapt to the precise driving situation.

The off-road attributes are enhanced with the optional off-road package. It contains an engine underbody guard, a body-coloured off-road front bumper with an increased approach angle of 7 degrees, black sills and bumper bottom section and aluminium door tread plates at the front inscribed with the word ‘OFFROAD’.
As an alternative to the Off-road package, the R-Line package is an option on Comfortline and Highline models. It features a lowered sports suspension with uniquely shaped body-coloured front and rear bumpers, gloss black front air intakes and body-coloured side skirts. Styling cues include 19 inch ‘Sebring’ alloy wheels on the Comfortline or 20 inch ‘Suzuka‘ alloy wheels on Highline as well as the inclusion of a black rooflining in the interior.
The Tiguan Allspace provides some driving functions that are partially automated such as the Multi Collision Braking System. Tiguan Allspace models also boast optionalACC (Adaptive CruiseControl) with Front Assist with City Emergency Braking abilities

The engine on the car we drove puts out 162kW and torque of 350/Nm through a delightful 7-speed DSG box. VW claims 8.1 L, but my consumption was 10.1L/100km. The long term consumption of the test car is 10.6 L/100km.
Towing ability has also been approved. The 4MOTION equipped Comfortline and Highline models are able to tow up to 2 500 kg (braked 8% incline).

Although quite a big car it handles almost like a Golf GTI. Throttle response is immediate and delivers loads of power.

It is pleasant and easy to drive in town and out touring. VW have created a really comfortable, spacious cabin. The Allspace will be a grand tourer.

Price as standard is R604 800, as tested around R670 000.

Accessories fitted to the test car include metallic paint, towbar with assist (R10000), active display, head-up display (R9000), Adaptive cruise control with front assist (R5000), panoramic sunroof (R12000), leather seats (R11000), 9.2 inch touch screen with navigation (R12100) and fancy 19” alloy wheels (R8300). Total R67 400.

The range is as follows:
1.4 TSI 110kW Trendline DSG {FWD) R463 400
2.0 TSI 132kW Comfortline 4MOTION DSG R523 800
2.0 TDI 110kW Comfortline 4MOTION DSG R571 100
2.0 TSI 162kW Highline 4MOTION DSG R604 800

The new Tiguan Allspace comes standard with a 5 year/90 000km Service Plan, 3 year/120 000km warranty.

The competition includes the Volvo XC60, Audi Q5, Subaru Forester, Kia Sorento, Suzuki Grand Vitara and BMW X3.

Peugeot 3008 Allure 1.6 THP Auto

The first car I drove this year was the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. At the time I thought it would be a while before it met its match. A little later I drove the Nissan X-trail and realised it had more off the beaten track ability and a better cost to benefit ratio than the Stelvio. The arguably better value also applies to the Mazda CX-5 which I drove in February. All three very different but all very competent and serving a particular niche.

And then came along the Peugeot 3008. Perhaps, a cat among the pigeons. What a revelation.

Peugeot 3008 Allure

I understand now why it was car of the year in Europe last year. The 3008 comes with high specification levels and exceptionally good exterior and classy interior design. It not only looks stunning, it is very clever. There are many touches which will charm and impress you and which will make your life a little easier or pleasurable.
Little things like a catch for the boot deck to hold it up while changing the full size spare wheel, or the back of the rear seat cup holder folds down to allow you to carry a long object. There is an easy-to-reach catch release to flip the rear seat backrest down should you wish to load a slightly bigger item.

The boot itself is a generous 591 L which triples when you let the seats down.

The use of cloth inserts in the highly adjustable seats not only looks good but is practical as well, cool in summer and warm in winter. The cloth is repeated in the door panels and below the dash.
I personally like the small squarish steering wheel with which you look over at the instrumentation, which is a highly personalisable display that matches the Audi display which I so admire. It also has an 8” touchscreen infotainment system with a variety of functions.
I found the seating position comfortable and at hip height for easy in- and egress. The view from the driver’s seat is excellent all round.

Although loaded with safety gear and sensors I found the lack of rear camera strange, but the sensors are good and give you 360° vision. It is a pleasure to drive around town.
There is a Sport button which hots things up, but is not needed in normal use. The six-speed auto box, with paddles, mates well with the engine and is a good fit for the chassis and body. It gives an effortless drive when required, but can be very engaging too.

Peugeot claim a combined fuel consumption of 7 L/100km but I got a still credible 8.1 L/100km in mixed, with some spirited driving. The 1.6 turbo-petrol engine delivers good power and torque.
Ground clearance is 219mm so you can go camping and easily traverse farm roads on weekends and mount the odd pavement if needed.

Standard safety features across the 3008 range includes 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, emergency brake assist, road sign detection, driver attention alert, lane departure warning, electronic stability programme (ESP) and ISOFIX child seat mounts.
The price basket for Peugeot spares is very competitive these days and reports suggest availability and support is now up there with the competition.
This new 3008 has a premium feel to it and feels more lively than the specs suggest.

The range carries a three year or 100 000 km warranty and a four year or 60 000 km service plan.
Prices start at R414 900. We drove the Allure model at R459 900. The GT Line+ model is priced at a fairly steep R584 900.
The competition includes the Mazda CX-5, Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga, Honda CR-V and Audi Q3.

Opel Grandland Reviewed

Opel Grandland

When I went to pick up the new Opel Grandland at Westvaal Motors in Victoria Street, Somerset West to test for this review I was given the whole delivery treatment. Car wrapped in royal blue cloth with a big bow and a sign telling me it was my car, even if only for a few days. I was beaming, almost purring with pleasure. I was then given the whole new car owner’s briefing.

The briefing by Eloise Klop was good but the controls and layout of this new generation Opel are so practical and ergonomic that driving it comes naturally.

The Grandland is a very important model for Opel as the brand re-establishes itself in South Africa. Already a 35-strong dealership network has been established and market share is climbing. Watch this space.
It is on the one hand the biggest car from the brand in the local market and it’s flagship, but it is also the first example of the new cooperative designs from the combined PSA (Peugeot) and Opel stable. So it has big shoes to fill.

Well equipped and positioned, the new Grandland X comes to market in as the third member of the Opel X SUV family. It joins its Opel Crossland X and Opel Mokka X counterparts.

Top technologies, comfort and flexibility in the high-quality interior wrapped in a sporty and cool off-road look – this is the new Opel Grandland X, Opel says. That it is the feeling one does get. Its sister in the Peugeot stable with which it shares a platform, the 3008, was car of the year in Europe last year. Enough said.

I have a feeling this medium sized SUV is going to do well for Opel. The 1.6 turbo-petrol engine delivers good power and torque and with the 6-speed automatic gearbox gives an assured driving experience and good economy. It is really nippy around town and feels smaller than it is to drive. Speaking of size. The car feels spacious inside. Loads of room for a family and all their stuff.

Visibility is good all round and is helped by 360° proximity sensors. A really good driving position can be achieved by adjusting the highly adjustable steering wheel and seat.
I liked the leather and cloth combination seats – perfect for African conditions.

The layout of the interior is very practical too. There is a power point in the boot, a hatch to fit long items through the back seat, cup holders conveniently placed and ambient lighting for a relaxing cabin at night, among other items.

The test car was the Enjoy 1.6T A/T, which is the middle of the range model. It isn’t cheap, but it comes very well equipped. I think this is the best value option of the range. Enough toys but not a whole lot of rarely used expensive extras.
In short, a great family car and good value.

A number of new features and technologies are included in this new SUV. These include heated and ventilated ergonomic AGR front seats(certified by the AGR – Campaign for Healthier Backs) give support on long trips, adaptive headlights, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible Radio R 4.0 IntelliLink, FlexFold seats disappear with a one hand movement, hands-free autonomous parking and 360° monitoring.

The range at the moment is as follows: 1.6T A/T at R429 000, 1.6T Enjoy A/T is R465 000 and the really well equipped flagship is the 1.6T Cosmo A/T at R565 000.

The warranty is a confidence inspiring 5-years or 120 000 km and the service plan is 5-years or 90 000 km.
Also look at the Peugeot 3008, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga, Honda CR-V and Audi Q3.

Suzuki Ignis

Suzuki Ignis
Suzuki says the Ignis is “a small crossover with the big heart brings a breath of fresh air and innovation to the local small car market by linking the wieldy agility of a city runabout to the robust styling and stance of an all-terrainer.” It is a sort of small cheeky cross-over compact hatchback.

It is also safer than most of its competition, thanks to among others ABS and air bags.

Suzuki Ignis on Strand Beach.

Offered in GL and GLX versions, the Ignis features a spacious and well-equipped interior. Despite its compact exterior size, there is good legroom and headroom, while the boot offers 260 litres of cargo space, expandable to 469 litres with the rear seatback folded flat.
Standard items across all models include electric windows, remote central locking, air-conditioning, electric power steering, and an MP3-compatible CD sound system with USB port and 12V accessory power socket.
The bigger than you think interior is a funky modern space, with a two-tone black and white treatment creating a fresh ambience. The body colour is repeated in the door handles and the central tunnel.
Most functional items are standard with the options being mainly for style and individualisation. It also has more usable space than the competition.

Safety is a big plus with the Ignis, which has air bags, ABS and EBD brakes and proper safety elements like Total Effective Control Technology (TECT), which includes crumple zones that efficiently absorb the impact of a collision, a chassis that efficiently distributes the impact energy, and a rigid passenger safety cell.


With 180mm ground clearance and a power-to-weight ratio of 71,65 kW/ton you can go places slightly off the tar road. I found the car fun to drive although the clutch is a bit soft and there is no self-centring for the steering. Even so, I liked it.

Suzuki claims consumption of 4.9L/100km with the sporty 1.2 litre 4 cyl motor which has a, to me, delightful growl and it is very frugal.
The Suzuki Ignis 1.2 GLX costs R189 900

This is one of the best little cars available locally. And its cheap as chips for what you are getting. I highly recommend it.

Warranty of 3 years or 100 000km and a 30 000km service plan.
The competition includes the Mazda2, Ford Figo, VW up!, Smart ForFour, Kia Picanto and Honda Brio.