Nissan X-trail 1.6 dci Tekna 4WD review

The X-trail has been a firm favourite for many years. And rightly so. It filled the niche and largely created the soft SUV segment, although it has now become a crossover.

Nissan X-trail in Onrus

I reviewed the Alfa Romeo Stelvia at the beginning of January. Many people stared at the car as I drove past. Admiring the really beautiful lines of the Stelvia, which can be described as a work of art, on wheels. Interestingly the new ‘facelifted’ Nissan X-trail, which I have been driving this week got as many , if not more ‘stop and stares’. Especially men. They looked at the car and when they saw the badge they smiled, I suppose in approval.

Inside the X-trail is in its own way every bit as good as the Stelvia.

Nissan call it a crossover. No claims to real SUV ability. I like that, even though it has arguably more off tar capability than many “SUVs”. Nissan are a market leader and pioneer in this segment and it shows.
This new medium Nissan crossover has the class leading cabin and dash. Design, layout, equipment, materials, fit and finish are all top class in the range topping Tekna configuration, which I tested.
If you are looking for a premium crossover that offers comfort, versatility and smart technology, look no further. It is really that good.

I particularly liked the data display in front of the driver which has 7 different pages which you scroll through with a button on the multifunction leather steering wheel. The bigger display is only used for the maps, setting your radio and phone up, manoeuvring and cameras.

X-trail has the following new generation tech:
Blind spot intervention which alerts the driver to the presence of vehicles in blind spots diagonally behind the car.
Lane intervention which alerts the driver when it detects that the X-Trail is straying from its lane.
Cross Traffic Alert which can detect and warn the driver of vehicles that are approaching behind the X-Trail, especially when parking or leaving parking.
Emergency Braking which uses radar technology to keep an eye on your speed and proximity to the vehicle in front of you, and will alert the driver before engaging the brakes.
Forward Collision Warning helps alert drivers of an impending collision with a slower moving or stationary car.
Auto Headlights which automatically changes between high and low beams when it detects oncoming vehicles at night.
Around View Monitor with moving object detection – a support technology that assists drivers to park more easily by providing a better understanding of the vehicle’s surroundings.

Nissan X-trail

Nissan claims a combined consumption of 5,3 L/100km. I got about that on the open road, but a still very good, 7.6 L/100 km in general urban use including a trip to Onrus where I took the pictures. The 1.6 turbodiesel puts out 320 Nm, which means you have oodles of power, which combined with good road holding, a well balanced steering and a slick gearshift makes for a very good touring and town car. Why spend more to have a fancy badge on the bonnet? Did I mention that the seats are really comfortable over longer distances?

Even cats like the new X-trail

In addition the new X-trail is fitted with active trace control, active ride control, all the latest braking tech and a lovely suspension setup. You can even go a little off the beaten path. The car has 209mm ground clearance and 50/50 4×4 lock to get you over fairly gnarly routes, but it is not a hardcore offroader, although it will tackle small dunes with aplomb.

The boot, with the sears up holds 550 litres and a full spare. With the 60/40 seats flat at least double that. Space, in general, in this X-trail is generous. There is a 7-seat version available, but the additional seats are for GOT’s Tyrion Lannister and his ilk or primary school children, but you will have almost no boot.

The new Nissan X-Trail comes with Nissan’s class-leading 6-year/150 000km warranty, a 3-year/90 000km service plan and 24-hour roadside assist.
Service intervals are at 15 000km and the new X-Trail is priced as follows:
2.0 Visia R 369 900; 2.0 Visia 7s R 374 900
1.6 dci Visia 7s R 392 900
2.5 Acenta CVT 4WD R 425 900; 2.5 Acenta CVT 4WD 7s R 429 900; 2.5 Acenta Plus CVT 4WD 7s R 444 900
1.6 dci Tekna 4WD R 457 900 (which we tested)
2.5 Tekna CVT 4WD 7s R 469 900
The best value is possibly the 2.5 Acenta CVT 4WD at R 425 900.

The X-trail is bigger inside than most of its apparent price rivals, but also look at the similarly sized Suzuki Grand Vitara if you need real 4×4 ability, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, VW Tiguan and Toyota Rav4.

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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.

Haval H6 Coupe review

The Haval H6 C ( the C stands for Coupe) fits into the medium-SUV (family car) category, which together with the small-SUV category are the fastest growing segments in the market. Its direct competition in size and space are Mazda CX-5, Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage or Hyundai Tucson and Toyota Rav 4. Its price competitors are the smaller Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, Ford Ecosport, Suzuki Vitara and Mazda CX-3 to mention a few.

Haval H6 C

The H6 C has a little ace up its sleeve. Pierre Leclercq, the designer of the original BMW X5, penned the H6 C, which does not look derivative, but has proportions and a silhouette that appear sophisticated. You could say a bit of Audi up front, Evoque at the back and Ford Kuga in the middle. The car looks good and is well designed.

Haval H6 C interior

Inside the car looks quietly upmarket and smart in a subdued way and appears well screwed together, with the impression of quality and sophistication, both in the materials used and the way it has been put together.
The rear legroom is generous, the split seatback folds flat easily and the back seat has more space than its rivals with comfortable reclining seats, ISOFIX anchors, rear aircon vents, reading lights, and nice materials in the door trims.
Standard features across the range include dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers. The mid- and top-spec models also each boast an eight-way, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, while the flagship Luxury derivative adds a panoramic sunroof and Xenon headlamps.
On the transmission tunnel it has an Audi-style toggle, gear-lever and buttons, in the dash a large touchscreen (although the infotainment system is a little under-whelming), a lovely leather steering wheel and well-bolstered seats together with loads of cup and bottle holders and places to keep things complete the very pleasant cabin. I think the sun screen in the roof may not quite be up to our summer sun.

Haval has worked hard with the H6C to improve comfort and NVH levels adding to the impression of quality. One thing bothers me. When the doors are open the grab-handle is too far away and you have to really stretch to reach out and close the door. This is something you will get used to.
The steering is not too light, so the car feels planted, but as caradvice.com says of the steering: “odd electro-assisted steering, which feels artificial and overly resistant on centre for our tastes.” I could not agree more.
The H6 just soaks up bumps and road irregularities as a result of the damper force and spring rates being just right, making the car ride well. The model we tested rides on 19 inch alloys wearing Cooper tire 225/55 radials, but base models have 17 inch wheels shod with 225/65 tyres. The spare is a spacesaver. Interestingly the H6 comes with a fire extinguisher in the boot.


A five-star C NCAP rating gives peace of mind. The top spec models get 6 airbags but all the models get ABS, EBD and so on.
The 2.0 litre turbo-petrol engine develops 140kW of power and a healthy 310Nm of torque giving it a claimed fuel consumption of 9.8 L/100 km but expect to average around 12 L/100 km in real driving conditions, so it is quite thirsty.
The six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox from Getrag is nicely matched to the engine, or you can opt for a six-speed manual gearbox. For now only the front wheel drive versions are available here.
I found the all-round performance to be good. This Haval is well engineered.

Haval H6 C side

Standard features across the range include dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers. The mid- and top-spec models also each boast an eight-way, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, while the flagship Luxury derivative adds a panoramic sunroof and Xenon headlamps.
The H6 C is available in three trim levels: City, Premium, and Luxury.
You will struggle to find a better-specced SUV than this in this price range, or even for R100k more.
The H6 C is a good car, well equipped and well priced. It appears to be well built too.
The prices are as follows:
2.0T MT City 4X2 – R329 900, 2.0T MT Premium 4X2 – R339 900, 2.0T MT Luxury 4X2 – R359 900, 2.0T DCT City 4X2 – R359 900, 2.0 DCT Premium 4×2 – R369 900
All H6 C’s have a very good five-year/100 000km warranty and a five-year/60 000km service plan.

Mazda 2 1.5 DE Hazumi 6AT 5DR review

Mazda2

Mazda2

Mazda2

Mazda are back with a bang in South Africa. Good looking cars. Great new engines. All the safety kit.
The Mazda2 we are reviewing here has big shoes to fill. Remember the two versions of 323 we had back in the day? Good cars which seemingly lasted for ever. This new 4th generation model was Car of the Year in Japan in its launch year.

Mazda2

Mazda2

Our test car had a beautiful colour, Smoky Rose, better in the flesh than in a photo. The same can be said about the exterior of this Mazda2. Very pleasing to look at. Mazda calls their design philosophy ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’ design. They kind of get it right, I think.

The interior is neat, uncluttered and smart, with a few luxury aspects like red stitching on the dash cowling and soft touch where it matters. The half leather trim seats are comfortable and quite adjustable. A premium cabin that not only looks good, but feels right and exudes quality.
So it looks right, but how does it perform?

The 6-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic transmission couples directly with the engine and combines the best aspects of a conventional automatic, continuously variable (CVT) and dual clutch transmissions. It is brilliant and points to the future.

mazda2_16_rear

This model has a very modern up-to-date robust 1.5 turbodiesel engine which develops 250Nm of torque and 77kW of power. Mazda claims a fuel consumption of 4.4L/100km and I got a very creditable 5.8L/100km in real life driving. Acceleration and top speed is fine but is definitely geared to economy. The chassis has been well set up and delivers great handling and superb road holding. As with Mazda in general, it’s a fun car to drive, and it has all the safety kit.

MZD Connect is the Mazda infotainment system. It is a complete system with a multi function commander rotary control just like on swanky German cars, a 7” touchscreen, Bluetooth and USB connections, clear, intuitive menu, several other functions and even includes internet radio (Pandora, sticher and aha). Pretty nifty. Easy to use and works well.

The Mazda 2 1.5 DE Hazumi 6AT 5DR as tested costs R290 700. The range starts at R204 100 for the 1.5 Active, which has the very good Skyactive petrol engine and feels seriously quick.

Mazda price list here. 

I would rather get the Mazda2 1.5 petrol Individual automatic at R227 200 if I was buying a B class car now. If you need a slightly bigger car have a look at the Ford Focus 1.0T.

You get a 3-year unlimited kilometre factory warranty , a 3-year service plan and a 5-year Corrosion Warranty.

Other cars in this segment include the brilliant Honda Jazz, Ford Fiesta and Focus 1.0T, Kia Rio, Hyundai i30, Toyota Yaris, VW Polo and Renault Clio.

Mazda2

Mazda2

Golf 7 GTI facelifted

I get why South Africans generally love the GTI.

It looks so good. The body, but especially inside. Dare I say sexy? It handles sublimely. It has oodles of power. Its a really “lekker” car.

VW Golf GTI

Our test car was a very good looking white silver metallic, with red GTI highlights around the lights for example and red stitching on the black leather upholstery. A classy package.

Oh, the sound. VW have engineered a very growly exhaust note that was really pleasant to me. Not too loud, unless the pedal has been pressed to the metal, then its music to a petrolhead’s ears.

The recently released Golf Mk VII facelifted model must be the “best” sporty Golf VW has made for the driving enthusiast who needs to go to work and go shopping in his car with his family.

You can understand why VW have been building them for 43 years and now at an average rate of one every 40 seconds. With global sales now well in excess of 33 million (nearly 350 750 sold in South Africa) since its launch where it enjoys the highest pro rata sales, GTI to normal Golf, of all markets in the world.

Golf GTI rear

The new GTI now has similar power output as the outgoing GTI Performance at 169kW. The 0 to 100km/h classic sprint is achieved in 6.4 seconds and the top speed is limited to248km/h. With DSG transmission, VW claim the GTI has a combined fuel consumption of 6.4 l/100km, but you will battle to get that unless you have a feather like foot. On one stint of spirited driving I got 12L/100km, but expect around 8L/100km provided you keep things very ‘pedestrian’. My average consumption was 10.6L/100km. The long term average (1964km) of the car is 9.7L/100km.

The 1.4-litre TSI with 92kW(5000 to 6000rpm) has been retained for the normal model. This lively engine delivers its 200 Nm maximum torque over a large speed range from 1,400 to 4,000 rpm. The Golf 1.4 TSI has a claimed combined fuel consumption is just 5.2 l/100km.

VW’s fancy Composition Media Radio /CD system is available standard on the GTI and optional on the Trendline and Comfortline models. The design has a clear glass surface and its integrated 8-inch colour display has been completely restructured. It gets finger prints quickly and looks dirty quite easily, but it works well.

Golf interior 2017

Five different views are available for the 12.3-inch Active InfoDisplay which is a fully digitalised instrument cluster with a whole load of interactive functions. It replaces the normal analogue instruments. This is the same brilliant concept which is very well executed which we have previously seen in Audis.

Taken with the digital instrument cluster, the big infotainment display becomes a little superfluous I think.
If you select the fancy key option you get to keep your key in your pocket. Entry and locking becomes keyless and you get a start button.
You don’t get a lot of space in a Golf, but it is not bad. Compact without being cramped. What you do get is a very good interior, both in design and execution. With the GTI you also get very satisfying performance.
I found the driver’s seat a little difficult to set up, but once settled it is quite comfortable and gives you good, especially lateral support.

The long list of optional features that are on offer include swivelling towbar, panoramic sunroof, 8.0-inch Composition Media Radio/CD system, 9.2-inch Discover Pro Navigation System, Active Info Display, Rear Assist with rear view camera, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Assist and Autonomous Emergency Braking System, Park Distance Control (front and rear), Park Assist, KESSY Keyless Entry and Start, Adaptive Chassis Control including driver selection (only available on GTI).

The basic sticker price of the GTI we drove is R545 800. Options fitted to the test car are: metallic paint, panoramic sunroof, KESSY advanced key, rear assist, DynAudio sound package, navigation pack, adaptive chassis control, park assist, blind spot detection, active info display, front assist and fancy Santiago alloy rims.

The cost of these accessories is at least R73 000. So the price as tested is R619 000, or more.

The Golf range is as follows:
1.0 TSI 81kW Trendline Manual R289 900
1.0 TSI 81kW Comfortline Manual R304 200
1.4 TSI 92kW Comfortline DSG R356 400
2.0 TSI 169kW GTI DSG R545 800

The new range comes standard with a 5 year/90 000km Service Plan, 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty. Service Interval is 15 000km.

With a budget of R612 000 you could get yourself one of the following: Audi A5 2.0 TDI, Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0, BMW 320I, Mercedes Benz C250, or my pick, the Volvo S60.
As far as I am concerned the 1.4 TSI 92kW Comfortline DSG hits the sweet spot at R356 400 without any extras. But you can get away with under R400 000 including some optional items.

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

Peugeot 2008 SUV GT Line 1.2 PureTech Auto review

Peugeot 2008 SUV GT Line 1.2 PureTech Auto

Small, slick city crossover cars are all the rage right now and the Peugeot 2008 not only fits the description to a T, but is a classy example of what one should be like. Perceived build quality is superb.

The 2008 has a notch in the roof, a bit like the Discovery, which gives the back ample space. The ride height of 165mm allows you to take that gravel road and the suspension is very good. To give it a bit more out-of-city ability it has a real full size spare tyre.

Peugeot 2008.

Boot space is fair with 410L normally, but with the rear seat folded down the boot is large. I like the brushed metal trim protection plate on the sill of the boot which is at a very comfortable height.

The interior is stylish classical French chic, with all sorts of little touches you will appreciate, like a refrigerated glovebox. It is a really pleasant cabin with soft touch and carefully thought out materials, colours and textures. The hand brake is a very different, aviation style device, but it looks good.

The rear seat does not recline as much as one perhaps would like it to, but legroom is quite good. The otherwise comfortable seats are at a very comfortable height for getting in and out.The basic interior is half leather trim as standard, but full leather is an option. I would not bother as the half leather feels just right and is exceptionally comfortable. The smallish multifunction leather steering wheel is a joy to use, as are all the controls.

Features include SMEG+1 digital touch screen with a jack/ usb, bluetooth and climate control except in the base model.

Peugeot 2008 GTLine

Optional extras include a Cielo panoramic glass roof, full leather seats, retention net and a number of other items.
Peugeot claim consumption figures 6.6 L/100km urban 5.2 combined, but I got (a still good) 7.8L/100km.
The 6-speed automatic gearbox coupled to the 3-cyl 1.2L turbo petrol engine delivers a more than adequate 81kW of power and 205 Nm of torque. There are actually 4 models in the 2008 range, two 1.6 HDi diesels which have manual gearboxes and two turbopetrol models with auto boxes. I recommend the latter.

Peugeot 2008 Interior

The lighting is very up-to-date with cornering assist fog lights, follow-me-home lights, bright headlight beams and LED running lights.
Technically the GTLine model we drove is sate-of-the-art with stop-start, grip control, rear park sensor with camera, hill assist, cruise control, auto wipers and auto lights.

From a safety point of view this crossover has ABS with EBD, ESP which allows you to select the right driving mode for the circumstances – mud, snow, sand or standard; EBA, anti-slip function, in fact all the safety kit you could want to help you get home safely.

The 2008 comes with a year or 100 000km warranty and a 3 year or 45 000km service plan. A maintenance plan is available at extra cost.

The GTLine costs R349 900, but the range starts at R274 900 for the diesel manual in Active trim.

The competition includes the Renault Captur (very good for touring especially on gravel), Toyota C-HR, Audi Q2, Suzuki SX4, Mazda CX-3 (seriously stylish and a driver’s car) and Nissan Qashqai (a best seller).