VW T-Cross launched

Sangria, Ibiza, Real Madrid, Flamenco, Toledo…  Navarra.

VW T-Cross

It’s Spain right? The home of the new baby VW SUV – T-Cross. Made in Spain. Some of the Iberian vibe rubbed off on the T-Cross. Its viby, warm, looks stunning in and out, especially in the orange guise.

The trend away from sedans is growing momentum, even taking sales away from hatches. People just love their multi-purpose vehicles from crossovers to SUVs. VW is not immune to this phenomenon. Sales of their big sedans, as well as Passat and Jetta has plummeted.

Wolfsburg had to make a plan, partly in case hatch sales also started evaporating.

Volkswagen have had a medium SUV in the Toureg and a small one with the Tiguan but needed a compact car to cover that end of the market.

VW are bringing two smaller SUV/ crossovers to market. The first one, available now, is the T-Cross. Next year a more funky, less adventure orientated model, the T-Roc will join the fleet.


Its all about the size.

The T-Cross is 4.2 metres in length, 182 mm more than the Polo and 11 centimetres shorter than the T-Roc . The difference in height is even more obvious: the T-Cross measures 1 584 mm compared to the Polo’s 1 461 millimetres. The wheelbase of 2 551 millimetres increases the space and roomy feel. The elevated seat position is typical of an SUV. The driver and front passenger sit 597 mm above the road. The car is also wider at 1756mm and rides higher 180mm than the Polo.

The boot packs in from 377 to 455 litres. With the rear seat back that folds down you can create a flat loading space with up to 1 281 litres of space as the sliding rear seat can be adjusted by 14 cm.

T-Cross offers three trim levels starting with the Trendline (which will only be available next year).

The Comfortline trim comes standard with 16-inch ‘Belmont’ alloy wheels, black roof rails, front fog lights, leather multi-function steering wheel with multi-function display, Park Distance Control (front and rear), cruise control, Light and Sight Package and a front centre arm rest.

The third variant, the Highline, has additional standard features which include Comfort Sports Seats, Inductive Wireless Mobile Charging, Driving Profile Selection, Climatronic Aircon, LED Headlights, Composition Media with App-Connect and 18-inch ‘Cologne’ alloy wheels.

There is an optional sound system from renowned US brand Beats with a 300-watt, 8-channel amplifier and a separate subwoofer in the luggage compartment. It produces a rounded, full sound.

There is a choice of nine exterior colours and a selection of coloured wheel rims to personalise the exterior.

We drove the range-topping T-Cross 1.5 TSI 110kW R-Line DSG® model which comes standard with the following features: sports seats, driving profile selection, climatronic aircon, LED Headlights and tail lights, Composition Media with App-Connect, R-Line interior and exterior with 18-inch ‘Nevada’ alloy wheels, digital active info display and a choice of eight exterior colours. Up to four USB ports and the standard inductive wireless charging ensure optimum connectivity and sufficient power for smartphones.

The display system is really good. For example you can have the map displaying on the centre display and the route changes in the digital cluster in front of you. This cluster is seemingly endlessly customisable.

The interior is similar to the Polo and has an aura of quality, in the SUV context. They have not changed anything that works. The gearbox is the tried and tested DSG, the steering wheel is the familiar leather covered multi-function one we love using and so on.

For now the T-Cross will only be available in the 1.0 TSI engine with 85kW power output. In the first quarter of 2020, the 1.5 TSI 110kW will be introduced and in the second quarter the range will be completed with the introduction of the 70kW engine for the Trendline manual model.

These compact SUVs are built on is the modular transverse matrix (MQB) platform, which allows the driven front axle to be positioned much closer to the vehicle front resulting in better space utilisation.
Consumption on the launch drive which included a bit of town driving but mostly on highway was around 7L/100km.

The little three-pot mill is a pleasure to drive and will be more than adequate for most motorists.
For all intents the T-Cross slots in between the Polo and the Golf. Its just that little bit bigger, more functional than the Polo. I see first time buyers getting a Polo and then upgrading to a T-Cross when they need more space.

The competition is quite interesting. We can look at similar prices or similar size.

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

Price: Haval H6, Opel Mokka, Hyundai Creta, Suzuki Vitara, Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage, Suzuki GrandVitara, Nissan X-Trail, Mahindra XUV 500 and Mitsubishi ASX,

Size: Ford EcoSport, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-3, Toyota Rush, Renault Duster and Honda BR-V.

Pricing for the range at the moment is: 1.0 TSI 85kW Comfortline DSG® at R334 600, 85kW Highline DSG® at R365 000 and 110kW R-Line DSG® at R403 500. The only manual model will be the 70kW to be introduced later.

The T-Cross comes standard with a 3 year/120 000km warranty, a 3 year/ 45 000km Volkswagen Service Plan and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. Service interval is 15 000km.

Flights and accommodation were paid for by Volkswagen. We stayed at the Boulevard Hotel in Port Elizabeth and Knysna Hollow Country Estate.

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VW Caddy Maxi Trendline 2.0 TDI DSG review (Republished)

Caddy Maxi Trendline 2.0 TDI DSG (Previously published)

VW dominates the small van and minibus market in SA. Just look around and see how many couriers and locksmiths and so on drive them.

VW Caddy Maxi 2.0 TDI DSG

VW Caddy Maxi 2.0 TDI DSG

The Caddy (micro) bus gets that balance between workhorse and leisure vehicle just about right.

VW Caddy Maxi

VW Caddy Maxi

I found it a very comfortable, easy to drive, powerful, multi purpose MPV. Although based on the commercial van it is very car like and even mildly luxurious in its fit and finish. You don’t feel as if you are in a bus. It handles well even in high wind and rainy conditions.

Noise levels are also well controlled.

Interior equipment is typical VW as is the look and feel, if slightly old school compared to their latest cars, but nothing to bother you.

If you have a big family or have to move a team the Caddy could be very handy especially this slightly bigger Maxi version.

The manufacturer says you can get to 186km/h and 100km/h in 10.9 seconds. I can tell you that this 103kW diesel performs very well and makes driving effortless, especially with the 6-speed DSG box.

VW claims 6.3 litres/ 100km, but I could only manage 6.8L/100km, which is still excellent and gives a range of around 900km+ on a 55 litre tank in highway conditions (or 6L/100km, or better).

VW_Caddy_open

Options fitted to our test car include Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, Multifuction steering wheel, park distance control with rear camera, comfort package, Fortaleza alloy wheels and towbar.

Price as standard: R431 600. The panel van starts at R315 000.

We tested the Maxi version. There is also the smaller standard Caddy which is R50 000 cheaper, but the space and ride quality of the Maxi gets my vote.

Its nearest competition is the much cheaper Ford Tourneo Connect or Nissan NV200 , its sibling the VW Touran and maybe the slightly smaller Suzuki Ertiga.

It comes with a 3 year or 120 000km warranty and 3 year 60 000km service plan.

VW_Caddy_Maxi_CapePoint

Which bakkie should I buy?

Owning and living with a bakkie is more than just walking into a dealership and paying for your truck. Your experience of and with the dealership can make or break your attitude to your bakkie and the brand.

If the purchasing and servicing experience is important to you this is going to help you decide which brands to look into.

The best buying and servicing experience is measured continuously by an independent research company, called Ipsos, for the industry.

Historic data

The owners of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) in South Africa are getting a very good deal in terms of their purchasing and servicing experience according to the results of the 2015 Ipsos customer satisfaction market research of the local automotive industry.

The good level of customer satisfaction in terms of the LCV purchasing and servicing experience in South Africa is underlined by the fact that four brands; Isuzu, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen, won gold awards for purchasing and three; Isuzu, Nissan and Toyota  won gold for servicing in the 2015 survey. So the top brands to own are Isuzu, Nissan and Toyota.

Chevrolet and Ford got silver awards for purchasing, while Chevrolet and Volkswagen earned silver for servicing. Ford was the only recipient of a bronze award for LCV servicing. This may be down to the massive growth of their market share last year.

The results of the survey are subjected to four separate checks and balances or so-called quality gates to ensure validity.

bakkie sales q

The servicing winners are:

bakkie servicing

“These 2015 figures are absolutely outstanding,” commented Patrick Busschau, the Ipsos SA Automotive Business Unit Director. “The very impressive results show that both the buying and servicing experience provided by dealers franchised by the participating brands in South Africa is world class.

“Buyers of light commercials are also not short-changed from a product, as well as a sales and after-sales experience perspective, and this is very important in view of the large number of people who now buy top end LCVs for both personal and leisure use. They pay a lot of money for many of these vehicles, which are now competing with mid to high-end SUVs in the quality and comfort stakes, and it is good to see that the manufacturers, importers and dealers are putting a lot of focus on providing excellent service to those buying and operating LCVs. The Isuzu, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen brands, in particular, in the LCV segment are to be commended for the consistently excellent service delivery when customers purchase or service these vehicles”.

Servicing over time

The servicing experience has improved over time as can be seen from the graph. Satisfaction has increased from 80% to 90% over the last few years.

Latest data from 2018

Bear in mind that this research is always a year behind and many bakkies have been upgraded or renewed in the last 12 months. This is just a rough guide as to the perceived quality.

In the graph below the lower the score the better.

The smaller bakkies have the disadvantage that they are noisier and have smaller engines. It is actually wrong to compare them with the bigger bakkies.

Safe motoring.

Wheelswrite car of the year 2018

The year of the SUV – 2018

We started 2018 on a pretty high note with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. In many ways just what you would expect an Alfa SUV to be. A big step up for Alfa. What could top it?

Nissan X-trail in Onrus

The next car we tested to really impress was the new Nissan X-trail. At the time I said: “Interestingly the new ‘facelifted’ Nissan X-trail, which I have been driving this week got as many , if not more ‘stop and stares’ (as the Stelvio). Especially men.”

Early in February we reported on the very capable Mitsubishu Sport and later in the month the seriously facelifted Mahindra Pik-Up.

At the end of March we drove two very good SUV’s the “new” Kuga and Mazda CX-5 of which I said at the time: “The Mazda CX-5 is not just another crossover SUV wannabe. It is a refined, well rounded car which leads the way in so many ways.”

Nissan Navara LE 4×2 Auto

In March it was the turn of two very good bakkies. Nissan’s new Navara and Ford’s fancy FX4. The Navara is burly and it’s a bit of a beast and is the basis for a whole slew of models from several brands.
And then perhaps the cat among the pigeons. The Peugeot 3008. The 3008 comes with high specification levels and exceptionally good exterior and classy interior design. It not only looks stunning, it is very clever.

You will notice a lot of SUV’s and crossovers in this list.

The year of the SUV – 2018.

In May we had the pleasure of sampling two German examples of the crossover wave. The spacious Tiguan Allspace and the Opel Grandland. The Allspace is pleasant and easy to drive in town and out touring. VW have created a really comfortable, spacious cabin. The Grandland is based on the same platform as the 3008. Similar substance but very different style.

Mazda MX5

In the spring the fresh new VW Polo GTi really impressed. At the time we said: ”A few months ago we reported about the Mazda MX-5 and how it had a grin factor. You just can’t help grinning while driving it. Well, this new VW Polo GTi also has a huge grin factor.” We really loved the Polo GTi. It gives the Golf GTi a run for its money.
The Peugeot 208 GT was another pleasing car. Similar to the Polo GTi in some respects but very different in others.
I like Suzukis so really looked forward to the new Swift. It is new from the wheels up. I thought it a delightful little runabout.

Early in December I drove two astounding SUV’s. Peugeot’s touring oriented 3008 GT-Line and Haval’s off-road toughie, the H9. Both cars do the job required of them extremely well.

Probably the sweetest car I drove this year is the Mazda MX-5 Targa. A driver’s joy, but a strict two-seater and really a toy, in the sense that it’s whole reason to exist is fun, nothing more, nothing less. The most focused car was without a doubt the Ford Fiesta RS200 Limited Edition,

Ford ST200 LE

fun, fast and almost practical.

So, which to pick?

Must be a SUVish type of vehicle. Surely.

I am tempted to pick the Haval H9, it really is that good, especially if you need low range. The Mazda CX-5 is just such a good car though.
The Peugeot 3008 GT-Line was a pleasant surprise and oh-so capable in its context. Mmmm. Let’s not forget the X-trail and the Allspace.

Damn.

May I pick the SUV as car of the year?

Or just go with the Polo GTi.

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.

Volkswagen Crafter review

VW Crafter 35 2.0-litre TDI

Driving the new Crafter van from VW is easy. The systems and engineering built into this bigger van in the VW range make this commercial vehicle almost car-like, except of course the sheer length which is something which you have to get used to.

The cabin is comfortable and has a host of storage bins and features to make the life of the crew as easy as possible which includes as standard electric windows, central locking with wireless remote control and practical and ergonomically designed storage features for a mobile phone, laptop and tablet, folding rule and working gloves.

The seats ate really comfortable, the steering two way adjustable, and the visibility good. The steering wheel and instruments remind one of an earlier generation Golf. There is a rear camera available as an extra.

Acceleration is surprisingly nippy for a big van but the top speed is governed at around 105 km/h. The roofline is quite high so you have to learn to watch the height of where you want to go. The length means you have to plan your parking and bear in mind how you ‘cut’ your corners.

As a panel van and Kombi, the new Crafter is available in various lengths (5986 mm, 6836 mm or, for the panel van, 7391 mm as well) and heights (2355 mm, 2625 mm or, for the panel van, 2637 mm as well).

Customers have a choice between front and rear wheel drive. The Crafter has 103 kW of power. The 4-cylinder 2 litreTDI engine has a torque of 340 Nm and fuel consumption of between 7.3 to 7.6 litres/100km depending on the model according to VW.

Safety features include a side-wind compensation system, Hill Hold Assist and Automatic Post-Collision Braking

System and a steering wheel with height and telescoping adjustment.

Available as an option are a second compressor for refrigeration or fresh produce applications, four variants of a second battery and a second air conditioner.

Costs for the range start with the Crafter 35 (MCV) Panel Van at R509 700.
The long wheel base 50 LWB Panel Van costs R625 800.
The top of the range 50 LWB with overhang Panel Van is R635 800.

The new Crafter comes standard with a 2 year unlimited kilometre Manufacturer Warranty, 5 year or 120 000km Genuine Automotion Service Plan and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. The service interval is 20 000km.

The competition includes Iveco Daily, Mercedes Benz Sprinter, Peugeot Boxer and Fiat Ducato.

VW Crafter

Volkswagen Polo Vivo GT review

Volkswagen Polo Vivo GT

VW Polo Vivo GT

GT – the term evokes visions of past automotive glory in the sense of a roomy, performance, luxury car capable of high speed and long-distance driving. Probably a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive two-door coupé with either a two-seat or a 2+2 arrangement, historically. Think Aston Martin DB4, Maserati Gran Turismo, the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GT of 1929…

To test if the Volkswagen Polo Vivo GT qualifies as a real GT I packed it to the brim with camping gear and took it on a short road trip up the N7 via Piekenierskloof to the Jamaka Organic Farm in the Cedarberg. A good combination of mild mountain passes and long straights with a little twist in the tail.

The Vivo GT is based on the previous Polo range and has the same features as the Vivo Highline but with a few items fitted to justify the rather steep asking price. The GT also gets ‘Space’ cloth sports seats (although our test car had optional ‘leather’ seats), a rear tailgate spoiler, GT lettering wherever they would fit, a black side moulding, sporty single-pipe exhaust system with chrome trim, cruise control, lowered suspension (by 15mm), shiny ‘sport’ pedals and floor mats!

VW Polo Vivo GT on Piekenierskloof.

Optional extras on the test car included ‘Vienna’ leather seats (R9382), storage package (R2017) and smokers package (R252), which appears to be simply a lighter. The GT we drove costs R256 651 with optional extras.

You almost immediately realise that the Vivo GT has been built to a strict cost price target. It appears that where corners could be trimmed, they have been, especially the trim, if you get what I mean. As a result the car neither feels nor looks above average quality, to me. It drives OK though.

On tar, around town the GT feels nippy and handles well. The little 1.0 Litre mill does not like hills when fully laden and in sixth gear. But shift down to fourth and work the gears and you are soon moving along quite smartly if a little bumpily.

I found the suspension a little too aggressive and stiff for my personal tastes, but it certainly gives the car a boy racer feeling. Part of the ‘problem’ are the very low profile tyres. Young men will love it, probably.

Did it pass the GT test? I am not so sure. Does it pass muster as a budget Polo GTi? Probably. Just don’t go camping in the Cedarberg with all your outdoor kit. The car does not like gravel when loaded.

If you love VW and are on a budget you will be able to overlook the trim shortcuts. The basic car is well sorted and can be fun to drive. The ‘old’ Polo lives on in the new Vivo albeit slightly trimmed down. The interior though, still looks good from the driver’s seat.

Fuel consumption is very good and a sub 6L/100km can be achieved provided your right foot behaves.

Not a bad package but also look at the Highline, which I think gives much better value, good performance and a softer ride.

The Vivo range starts with the 1.4 55kW Trendline at R179 900, 1.4 63kW Comfortline at R192 000,
Tiptronic is R221 900, the smarter 1.6 77kW Highline starts at R214 900 and the base price of the 1.0 TSI 81kW GT is R245 000.

The Volkswagen Polo Vivo Hatch comes standard with a 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 6-year Anti Corrosion warranty.

A Volkswagen Automotion Maintenance Plan (starting at R7128 and topping off at R24 168 for the 5 year 100 000km option) as well as a Volkswagen Automotion Service Plan are available as options.