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.

Suzuki S-Presso freshly brewed

The S-Presso is a compact and affordable urban mini SUV with a choice of five model derivatives and two transmission options in SA. Its either a 5-speed manual or AMT (the latter using Suzuki’s Automated Gear Selection (AGS) technology for smooth shifts using a manual transmission with self-actuating clutch) transmission, GL, GL+ or S-edition trim level.

Suzuki S-Presso-180

“We are very excited to introduce the new Suzuki S-Presso in South Africa. It combines many of our most advanced technologies, such as our HEARTECT platform, with our compact SUV expertise to offer a compact, but roomy and well-specified new urban SUV that is truly within everyone’s reach,” says André Venter, divisional manager for sales and marketing at Suzuki Auto South Africa.

The new Suzuki S-Presso shares its 998cc engine with the established Suzuki Celerio. This three-cylinder engine is code-named K10B and offers 50kW at 5 500 r/min and 90Nm of torque at 3 500 r/min and consumption of around 5L/100km.

It is a small car and in a way replaces the rather mundane Alto with a much more funky and practical product.

All versions of the S-Presso are very well equipped and feature electric windows for the front occupants, rear parking sensors, air conditioning, power steering and a multi-information display, which includes information such as distance to empty, trip duration and distance travelled.

On the GL+ model, Suzuki has bumped up the specification with its easy-to-use functional infotainment system. This system is touch sensitive and includes full integration for most smartphones through the in-built Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems.

This  system also offers USB and auxiliary ports and Bluetooth connectivity as standard and will display the image from the in-built reverse camera on the screen.

S-Edition models retain the infotainment system and mirror the silver detailing on the exterior with similar highlights on the centre console, air conditioning louvres and side door panels.

The range starts at R134 900 for the GL manual and tops off at R160 900 for the S-edition AMT.

It comes with a 5-year / 200 000 km mechanical warranty, one year insurance and two year service plan.

The Renault Kwid is the most obvious alternative, but also look at the Mahindra KUV100, Fiat Panda and Haval H1.

#Doyou #Suzuki #S-Presso

Audi A1 35 TFS1 review

The baby from Ingolstadt is quite a little charmer and feels sporty, smart and upmarket as befits any model sprouting the four rings of Audi.

The A1 just looks right, both on the outside and in the cosseting cabin. The styling is in my opinion spot on and the quality is, well, Audi. Its smart and feels premium. The new model builds and improves on the previous generation and won’t disappoint Audi fans.

Audi Ai 35 TFSi

The nose of the new models has been quite radically changed with a new bigger grille, model specific LED daytime running lights and other changes depending on the options selected. The car as a whole is quite a bit bigger than the original.

The performance and handling is sorted and feels sporty. It is clearly aimed for life in the city, although she will soak up the long road. If you are planning t overtake when the car is fully loaded it may be worth your while to select sport mode as the normal mode will be a little leisurely for some at the moment you floor the volume pedal.

The point is – this car is fun to drive anywhere, especially in Sport mode. Aficionados of the four rings brand will love the new baby from Ingolstadt.

 

The cabin of the A1 is top class and really well laid out. The dash is a little busy. but that is just quibbling. I don’t think you will have any complaints. The bright yellow trim may become a bit much but I kinda liked it. Gives the whole look a youthful zest. The Audi optional MMI display system is impressive and functional, if a little excessive.

The 1.5L turbo-petrol engine produces 110kW and a pretty good 250Nm through the tried and tested VW group 7-speed S tronic box to deliver a satisfying driving experience. I only managed to achieve 9L/100 km in town, but the long term average consumption of the car is 8L/100 km in mixed driving. With a heavy foot in Sport mode expect around 10L/ 100 km and if you really drive with economy in mind you may get 7L/ 100 km.

The car we drove has a total value of R602 500, which includes a long list of optional accessories to the value of R143 600. These include obvious extra accessories like a fancy Bang & Olufsen sound system at R9 500, special 18 inch alloy wheels at R15 600, MMI navigation plus limited Audi connect at R24 500, a black roof at R10 600 and park assist at R13 000.

Some not so obvious extras are the climate and cruise control at R10 300, powered external mirrors for R4 100, leatherette cover for handbrake lever an astounding R2 500, headliner in black at R3 000 and the leather steering wheel at R3 400.
The seats also cost more than standard and the virtual cockpit and smartphone interface is R9 900.

This means the bare car at R458 900 must be quite a plain bare bones affair. Do not judge the car by the pictures you see, especially the dash as it alone has been upgraded by about R45 000.

There are three models in the A1 Sportback range:
30 TFSi with a three cylinder 1L engine at R359 900 (same as standard T-Cross)
35 TFSi with four cylinder 1.4 engine at R458 900 (what we tested)
40 TFSi with four cylinder2.0L engine at R488 000 (driver’s delight)
These are quite basic cars at list prices so plan on adding R100 000 worth of equipment or finishes to the car of your choice as well as either the S-line pack or advanced spec level.

Alternatives include the Mazda3 Astina, Mini Cooper Hatch, as well as the BMW 118I, Honda Civic Hatch and VW Polo GTI with a bit of a stretch.

First published in AutoSold.

Audi Q3 S-line 35 TFSI S-tronic review

She is turbo blue. Very, very blue.

Audi Q3 S-line 35 TFSI S-tronic

She is seriously sassy and has a pair of hips to make das Bavarian Mädchen blush.

Audi’s Q3 is a thing of beauty, from the neatly ironed crease lines to her alcantara trimmings to her stunning dashboard with its oh so smart displays.

Altogether a great work of design. Although I must say I think her mouth is a little big, but let’s not quibble.

Let us also put the elephant in the room to pasture. What with the R152k optional extras fitted to our review car the sticker price is a little eye watering at three quarters of a million Rand, for a subcompact luxury crossover SUV designed for on-road use.

If you have the cash lying around and your heart says yes, you will enjoy this car.

Q3 enjoying the gravel in Betty’s Bay.

I found the engine somewhat laggy and the gearbox a little undecided, but if you are “rustig” and not in a rush, all is well.

Audi claims a 0-100 kph sprint time of 8.9 seconds and it’ll run to a top speed of 204 kph. The Q3 sits well on the road like all Audi’s do and the steering is satisfactory. I got around 7.5L/100km on the open road and around 12L/100km in town, partly perhaps because the little 1.4 engine which puts out 250Nm and 110kW, is working hard (but willingly) to move the relatively large body. Hopefully Audi will add the 2.0L engine soon to the line up. Now that will be a winner.

Audi have chosen wisely in the wheels department, the 18inch 235 x 55 tyres 100v from Hankook give just the right amount of feedback without becoming harsh. A very good compromise and just another example of how well thought out this car is from a design and styling point of view.

The cabin is a pleasure to be in. There are 3 trim levels: Standard, Advanced and S Line. The MMi (multimedia) selector wheel of previous Audis, which was good for inputting instructions when the car was bouncing along a road, has been removed. Personally I think the large touchscreen, good as it is, at the expense of real buttons is a bridge too far. It’s hard to hit the icons with a jiggling finger, however sharp the image may be. One tends to leave fingerprints on the screen as well. Thankfully the climate control retains actual knobs. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster is standard and includes all the information you really need.

The rear legroom is good, partly because the seats can slide backwards or forwards depending what your greatest need is – boot space or leg room. In fact the cabin feels quite roomy.

There are four equipment and two styling packages.

The Comfort package at R21 500 adds electric seats with 4-way support and heating, electrically opening and closing boot gate, and park distance control. The Technology package adds MMi navigation, virtual cockpit plus and ambient lighting at R33 500.

For R34 900 you can get the Sport Package which will give you 19 inch cast alloy wheels, 20-spoke V style, Alcantara/leatherette combination upholstery, headlining in black and  ports contour leather-wrapped steering wheel, 3 spoke, flat-bottomed, with shift paddles and multifunction plus.

Finally the S line Interior Package offers bespoke S line styling elements which add a distinctively sporty look to the interior for R15 900.The Black package changes bright trim to black while the parking package adds a 360° camera and park assist for R26 500.

Pricing

The basic trim level costs R565 000, the advanced line R585 000 and the S line R599 000.
A five-year or 100 000 maintenance and repair plan is included.

Cars offering similar specification or space include the VW Tiguan, Volvo XC40, Jaguar E-pace, Mercedes Bens GLA, Peugeot 3008, Mini Countryman, Kia Sportage and Mazda CX5.

VW T-Cross 1.0 R-Line review

Very soon Volkswagen will offer a full range of SUVs, some will be soft roaders, others like the Tiguan, more capable off the beaten track.
Although the T-Cross is built in Spain, it is interesting that VWSA built 161 954 vehicles in 2019, which is the highest production volume the Uitenhage plant has achieved since it began manufacturing Volkswagen vehicles in 1951.

Of the 161 954 vehicles, 108 422 were manufactured for export and 53 532 were produced for the local market. The production volume consists of 131 365 Polos and 30 589 Polo Vivos.

The T-Cross is the entry level crossover in VWs SUV range. It is not really that capable offroad but on gravel, on the highway and especially in town it does a really good job. It does have a slightly higher road height at 180 mm but for now at least only front wheel drive and at the moment only the little 3 pot 999cc turbo-petrol mill doing duty with one performance level available for now, 85 kW with 200 Nm, more than capable for around town. A detuned 70kW version of this motor and a 1.5 TSI engine with 110kW are on the way. You can order one already.

 

VW T-Cross at Moulie Point

Things to like

  • Looks – she is certainly a looker
  • Size  especially rear leg room
  • Ride is good, but I would prefer 16″ wheels and higher 60 profile tyres
  • Good visibility even for a short driver
  • The cockpit layout in the R-Line is very pleasant and functional. The VW multi-function steering wheel is a joy to use.

 

Little niggles

  • Start button behind gear lever on left
  • Hard plastics
  • Small boot
  • No climate control only air-conditioner, only mentioning it because it is an expensive little car
  • With my driving style I found the car had an irritating pause before the power came on. Its as if it misses a beat.

The optional ‘Energetic Orange’ design package makes the T-Cross truly eye-catching for the very young at heart:

VW T-Cross

• Seat covers in ‘Diag’ design with seat centre and inner sections in Orange and Ceramique
• Décor in ‘Transition’ 3D design in Energetic Orange and Grey
• Design element in steering wheel in Energetic Orange
• Exterior mirror housings in Energetic Orange
• Black 18 inch ‘Cologne’ wheels with Hot Orange finish for T-Cross Highline

Pricing

Note the review car has a few optional extras:

  • KESSY Keyless entry
  • beats® Sound System
  • Park Package (Park Assist, Rear View Camera and Power-fold Mirrors)
  • Infotainment Package (Discover Media: 3D Map, App-Connect, Voice Control, Inductive Charging and Active Info Display)
  • LED Headlights and Rear View Camera
  • R-Line Exterior with 17-inch Manila alloy wheels

The Comfortline we drove costs R334 600 without the optional extras. The extras fitted to our test car cost R70 050, bringing the total cost to R415 035 including VAT.

The 1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSG® costs R365 000 and the 1.5 TSI 110kW R-Line DSG®  is priced at R403 500.

T-Cross side-by-side with a Polo. You can see it is taller, wider and rides substantially higher.

Competition

Renault Duster 1.5dCi TechRoad auto R332 900 ¬- Best buy
• Ford EcoSport 1.0T Titanium auto R357 300
Haval H2 1.5T Luxury auto R329 900 – Good option, facelift just launched
• Mahindra XUV 300 1.5 TD R324 999
Suzuki Vitara 1.4T GLX auto R399 900 – Solid alternative
• Kia Seltos 1.6 EX auto R371 999
• Hyundai Creta 1.6 Exec LE auto R397 900

The warranty for the T-Cross is still only 3 years or 120 000 km.
The small SUV/ crossover market segment is wide open. Take your time and go and test drive a number of cars before deciding, especially the three cars which have been highlighted.

 

 

Citroën is back in 2020

Just when you thought the car market was settling down to enjoy burning fossil fuels for the last lap before the new technology takes over a beloved old marque returns to our shores for a third time. The Citroën brand has officially re-launched in South Africa after exiting the country at the end of 2016. This may have something to do with the new assembly plant in Namibia or with Brexit, or both. Time will tell.

This time as part of the PSA group and as a sister brand to Peugeot and as such will be serviced at any Peugeot Accredited Dealership nationwide.

Style and space seem to be the cornerstones of the new range. The cars certainly look a little different.
The range initially includes three model lines: the C3 hatchback, C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross.

For peace of mind a five-year/100 000 km service plan is included across the range, along with a warranty of the same length. Citroën will share dealership space with its sister brand, Peugeot.

Copyright William CROZES @ Continental Productions

C3 hatchback

“With its unique body style, personalised features and connectivity, the new C3 is a bold, fresh, modern car. It illustrates the ongoing Citroën product offensive!” said Xavier Peugeot, Citroën Brand Product Director

The C3 is built on the PSA Group A platform and includes a lot of tech like advanced driver assistance systems for lane departure alert and driver attention alert as well as a coffee break alert.

Mirror screen technology duplicates the driver’s smartphone screen directly on the vehicle’s central screen, whether Android or Apple.

The C3 line-up has a pair of 1,2-litre three-cylinder petrol engines, the first offering a naturally aspirated flavoured 60 kW and118 Nm linked to a five-speed manual gearbox and the other a turbocharged engine with 81 kW and 205 Nm mated with a six-speed automatic box.

The manual comes in Feel specification for R239 900, while the automatic is offered in Shine trim (for R289 900). Three body colours will be available – White, Platinum Grey and Sand – each in combination with a red roof.

C3 Aircross

The C3 Aircross, also comes in a choice of three colours: Platinum Grey, Soft Sand and Natural White, complete with “Spicy Orange” trim. There are two variants: Feel and Shine, both using the turbocharged 81 kW version of the 1,2-litre petrol engine linked to a six-speed auto box as standard.

Citroën’s Advanced Comfort® programme for enhanced spaciousness, modular design and brightness is a key element of the Aircross.

The C3 Aircross will cost you R339 900 in Feel trim and R359 900 in Shine.

C5 Aircross

The C5 Aircross SUV is Citroën’s new flagship and a key lever for the international growth of the brand,” says Linda Jackson, Citroën CEO.

The C5 Aircross, which comes in two forms and in three colours, Arctic Steel, Pearlescent White or Platinum Grey). The base model Feel costs R469 900 while the flagship Shine costs R509 900. Both employ the PSA 1,6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine delivering 121 kW and 240 Nm via a six-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels.

Citroën claims the new C5 Aircross SUV is the most comfortable model in its segment, thanks to the Citroën Advanced Comfort® programme, Progressive Hydraulic Cushions® suspension and Advanced Comfort seats. Hydraulic buffers at either end of the suspension setup have all but eliminated bounce from the car’s drive, they say. This could be quite a big deal.

Aircross is highly modular with three individual sliding, folding and reclining rear seats, and best-in-class boot space. With the seats folded down there is 1 630 L, up from the 520 litres of space with seats and as far back as possible. Citroen says it has aimed for maximum practicality, building in cubby holes and stowage spaces all around the cabin.
There’s space inside for five adults.

The Citroën brand has always stood for technical and design innovation and quirky looks. It is the brand for someone who wants something a little different, a little chic.
Vive le difference!

Ford Everest XLT Rrview

The sweet spot in the bakkie based SUV universe may just be held by Ford’s Everest XLT.

Ford Everest XLT

The Everest is a medium to large SUV with all the bells and whistler one could want, and the few goodies it is not equipped with as standard you can add on as optional extras or you can get the Limited Edition.

The Everest is perhaps the best of the large bakkie based SUVs available in SA. It is definitely the prettiest, has the best handling, cleverest packaging and a really good infotainment system. The design and operation of the third row of seats is streets better than the competition.

The interior is practical, well laid out and very comfortable to spend time in. I like the instrumentation which is comprehensive but uncluttered and clear. The cabin is very car like , well finished and uses pleasant materials.

Ford’s Synch3 infotainment system is one of the best on the market. It is easy to use, comprehensive and works first time. A joy to use.

The Everest feels fairly wieldy around town and is easy to park thanks to its various parking aids. Its easy to drive in town and a joy on the highway. A modern Grand Tourer especially in our context where bad roads and sand are to be expected during an extensive tour of especially our game parks and nature reserves.

The newish two litre diesel mill, built in Port Elizabeth, enjoys two turbos giving 500Nm and 157kW coupled to a superb 10-speed gearbox. Having 10 gears means a wider ratio-span, resulting in better acceleration and responsiveness in all driving conditions, matched to improved fuel efficiency of around 10L/100km if your foot is not too heavy. Very nice to drive.

Six models are available in the Everest range, starting off with the XLS 2.2 TDCi which provides an extremely competitive range of standard comfort, convenience and safety features.

Four XLT models are included in the new line-up, with the option of the all-new 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo and Single Turbo engines, along with the current 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi.

I think the Everest is a better package than the Toyota Fortuner, Isuzu MU-x or Mitsubishi Pajero Sport,although the latter handles really well. It hits the sweet spot in this niche.

Bear in mind that you need to consider trim level, in our case XLT, type of engine and turbo set up, in our case 2.0 bi-turbo and 4×2 or 4×4, in our case 4×4.

Ford Everest XLT

Cost: the 2.0 BiT XLT 10AT 4WD we drove is listed at R701 500.

The range starts with the 2.2 TDCi XLS 6AT 2WD at R522 700.

The top-of-the-range 2.0 BiT LTD 10AT 4WD is a slightly eye-watering R776 500, but it is really very comprehensively equipped.

The warranty can be extended to  7 years or up to 200 000 km, but talk to your dealer for exact details. The standard warranty is 4 years /or 120 000km.

 

 

 

Citroën C3 Aircross Feel Compact SUV

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

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

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

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

“With its unique body style, personalised features and connectivity, the new C3 is a bold, fresh, modern car. It illustrates the ongoing Citroën product offensive,” said Xavier Peugeot, Citroën Brand Product Director.

The C3 aircross has got good space for this niche and has the largest boot in the segment with a standard volume of 410 litres which can be increased to 520 litres thanks to the split rear sliding seats. The boot is fairly easily accessible via the large-opening tailgate and benefits from a low loading sill.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Citroën C3 Aircross Feel Compact SUV

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

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

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

Ford Kuga 2.0T AWD ST Line review

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

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

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

Ford Kuga 2.0T AWD ST Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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