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.

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Opel MOKKA X 1.4T Cosmo 6AT

Opel MOKKA X 1.4T Cosmo 6AT

Opel Mokka X 1.4

Opel Mokka X 1.4

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

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

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

Opel Mokka X dashboard

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

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

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

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

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

Opel Mokka X 1.4

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

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

Prices look like this:  Latest click here.

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

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).

 

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

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

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

VW Passat 1.8 TSI Highline DSG review

VW Passat 1.8 TSI Highline DSG

VW_Passat_Clarendon

The Volkswagen Passat is a large, classy family saloon that delivers great refinement and quality in an accomplished, discreet package  the UK Auto Express summarises this car as. I could not agree more. They continue to say the only negatives they can think of are: Understated styling, not much fun to drive, lacks premium image of rivals.  I don’t quite agree. I like the styling of the Passat, but it is subjective of course.

I think its pleasant to drive but perhaps not quite up to the standard of the Ford Fusion or Honda Accord. The cabin is just stunningly good.

Do not forget the boot.  You can fit three golf bags, or a pram and a folding cot. It’s really big.

If you have just over R400k to spend and you want or need a bit of space and a big boot the Passat or Fusion is a much better buy than 3 Series, C-class or A4. Lets just look at what you get.

VW_Passat_roof-open

This car has one of the smoothest most efficient gearboxes out there in the 7 speed DSG box and when coupled to the turbocharged 1.8 petrol engine delivers a top speed of 232 km/h. Do you need to go faster? Not only that but it will get to 100km/h in 7.9 sec and VW claims using only 5.8 litres/100km, although I got 7.4L/100km on average the week I drove the car. Not too shabby.

vw-passat-dashThe interior of this car does not hit you with its brilliance. Rather you come to realise just how well designed and made this cabin is. You could live with it for years as it is ergonomic, spacious, comfortable and cleverly designed. There is quite a long list of optional extras, so you could kit it out to your heart’s desires. Basically you could get a fully kitted Passat for the price of a base, very sparsely kitted out Audi A4 which probably has the identical engine, gearbox and much of the underpinnings.

The Passat range is well equipped as standard, better than most VW models. It includes intelligent cruise control, park distance control, flat tyre monitoring, climate control, heated front seats, electronic stability control, fog lights and a good infotainment centre. All the essential stuff.

Options fitted to our test unit include sunroof, DiscoverPro navigation, ambience light package, adaptive cruise control, electric front seat, Nappa leather seats and LED headlights. Nice to haves, but not necessary, except for the adaptive cruise control which I consider a great safety feature.

VW-Passat-1.8-side

The Passat will probably surprise you if you take it for a test drive. It is, like the Ford Fusion, a seriously commodious, comfortable, complete package.

The price of the 1.8 TSI Highline DSG as standard is R457 500. The range starts from R432 000 and tops out at R518 000. The car as tested had around R50 000 extras.

Warranty is 3 years or 120 000km, but the maintenance plan is 5 years or 100 000km.

Other cars in this size range include the previously mentioned Ford Fusion (R424 000) and Honda Accord (R434 600), the more expensive but not really better MB C-class, BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and the exciting Mazda 6 and Volvo S60.