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All new Range Rover Autobiography: Video 14
Jan
Posted by CarBlog Staff in Automotive News, New car review, Popular, Range Rover, Range Rover Autobiography, review, Videos on 01 14th, 2014

2013 Range Rover (2)

If ever there was a car that I am pretty sure everyone in the world would want, (regardless if you’re a soccer mom or F1 driver), it would have to be the new Range Rover Autobiography. Sleek and sexy and oh so luxurious – can I place my order, please?

Cars.co.za recently had the opportunity to test drive the Autobiography (queue jealousy) and lucky for us, filmed the whole experience.

From the elegant interior design to the high-tech, self-parking (yes, really) features, this car really seems like anybody’s dream car.

But, alas, this Range Rover is not destined for us mere mortals. With a price tag of nearly R2 million, you would have to have some seriously deep pockets to take it home with you.

Do yourself a favour and check out the video below. Other than making you drool for four minutes, it’s actually quite entertaining, too.

Now, can someone give me R2 million, please?



Carblog Test: 2013 Ford Fiesta Ecoboost 22
Jul
Posted by Minnaar Pieters in 2013, EcoBoost, Fiesta, Ford, New car review, Popular on 07 22nd, 2013

Fiesta-ecoboost

The Ford Fiesta recently went through its midlife facelift with many subtle changes and some new engines. The overall effect of the new grille does make the car look a lot more upmarket – but the big news is the new Ecoboost engine that only has an almost unreal 1000cc engine size.

This new 1 liter Ecoboost models fits in above the existing 1.4 petrol and 1.6 TDCi diesel engines. Is Ford crazy, or is there some method in their madness with the new Ecoboost model?

The Looks

The Fiesta has always been a pretty good looking car with some almost French looking curves. This time round Ford has given the Fiesta a facelift, biggest of which is the new grille which reminds me of a small Aston Martin. The lights also look a bit more aggressive.

My test car came in a very bright “Candy Blue” car which does accentuate the new looks, but it does not do much for the “small dinky car” image which the Fiesta is trying to evade. The Ecoboost model comes in two trims – a lower end “Trend” model, and the more expensive “Titanium” model.

While the Trend does keep the Ecoboost engine, the small little 15 inch alloys don’t look great – it is perhaps the biggest reason I would opt for the Titanium spec model, which comes with 16 inch allow wheels. The Titanium model also comes with LED automatic headlights, which does give the car a bit more presence on the road.

The interior

The Fiesta is pretty great car inside. While the Trend model does not come with too many luxuries, the plastics inside the car feel a bit higher end than the price might suggest, but there is some hard plastic found lower down on the facia.

2013-Ford-Fiesta-interior

The cloth seats are firm yet very comfortable on long drives, and the driver seat was easy to get into a comfortable position. Seating in the rear is also more comfortable than the diminutive size of the car might suggest. The rear seats also includes iso-fix bars, so installing the baby car seat was a cinch.

Gadgets?

Considering the target market of the car, interior appointments in the form of connectivity and voice control is seemingly more important than things like the feel of plastics, right? The new Fiesta does not disappoint with its SYNC system which can be found across the range.

First off – voice control for in car sound systems is nothing new, but it has traditionally been fitted to cars that are far more expensive than the Fiesta. In most cases voice recognition is typically found as part of high-end optional navigation systems. The Fiesta comes standard with SYNC technology, which was developed in partnership with Microsoft. The system does not come with navigation, but you do get the idea that Ford is wizening up to the fact that most people these days use navigation software on their smartphones, and the system simply routes navigation commands through the speakers.

Fiesta-2013-Sync

The big news with Sync is voice control. You can connect your phone via Bluetooth or USB – with Bluetooth you have the advantage of leaving your phone in your pocket, and music and phone calls get sent through the sound system. But you want to connect to USB if you want to see the real magic of SYNC. You simply press the voice command button on the steering wheel, and then the system can recognize more than 150 commands. There is also constant audio feedback, which can get a little irritating – but you can set it so that she is not too chatty.

I was super impressed by the voice recognition – it did not get a single song, artist or album wrong, and the phone dialing was equally amazing. It understood Afrikaans and Xhosa names without any issue, which I found incredible, especially if you have dealt with other voice control systems like Siri. I tested it with a iPhone 5, and had no issues.

That Engine

Ford’s new 1L Ecoboost engine is actually an amazing piece of technology. This tiny little engine has 92kw and 170Nm on tap, all from a engine block that can fit on a A4 sheet of paper.

Needless to say that power is reliant on some very interesting technology. A 3 cylinder engine normally has extra vibrations, but the flywheel has been intentionally unbalanced to counteract it and ensure smooth running. This is done without balance shafts which needlessly drain fuel economy.

A engine needs heat to ensure efficiency, and the Ecoboost uses a exhaust manifold which is cast into the cylinder head, which makes the engine heat up faster.

While 92kw might not sound like a lot, the little 3 cylinder engine is very quick to rev up, and it is an absolute hoot to drive. While the engine is made for fuel efficiency, I reckon most people will drive this engine pretty hard. When idle you can hear that it is a 3 cylinder engine, but once you hit around 4000 rpm it starts to make a lovely thrummy sound which I did not expect.

Not much to look at, but boy does it go...

Dynamite does come in small packages…

So is it actually fuel efficient? Yes. But not quite close to what you might get from the TDCi model. But if you want some fun with your sensibility, the Ecoboost make a very interesting proposition. While driving the car pretty hard for a week I averaged 6.6 litres per 100km. I reckon a calmer driver can easily reach below 6 liters per 100km.
The Drive

In typical Ford fashion, the Fiesta is a lot of fun to drive. The seating position combined with the way the gearshift feels means you want to drive the car a little harder than you should.

Suspension is reasonably soft, but with almost no body roll. Bumps and potholes are handled without too much drama, and there was very little that could lead to any drama in everyday driving. Part of the comfortable drive might be down to the Trend’s thicker tyres/small wheels combo. The Titanium might have harder driving characteristics. Dirt roads handled well as well.

The Ecoboost model has start/stop functionality, but is very choosey about when it uses it – it will not switch off if the air conditioner is running, or if the engine is not running at the right temperature yet. In use it works very well, and actually very seemless in everyday use. The Ecoboost also comes with hill ascent control, which I did not expect in a car this small. But it works well in Cape Town’s hilly stop streets.

The Fiesta does lack some of the fancier driving dynamics features like torque vectoring, and the Trend model also lack ESP which will make some over-enthusiastic drivers a little more confident. One again I think the Titanium model might be worth the additional outlay.

Then again, if it is driving dynamics your after, you should not even bother with this model. The Fiesta ST is out there, and we are reviewing it soon as well…

Overall

Fiesta-Rear-2013The Fiesta Ecoboost is a great little car – while the Ecoboost engine might look like the sensible buy, it is indeed a lot of fun to drive. While other brands are opting for efficient engines which are aimed only at eventual fuel usage, the Ecoboost is a more sporty drive.

The Fiesta Ecoboost is in my opinion the best small hatchback in South Africa. Traditionalists might stick with their VW Polos, but from a engineering and technologist standpoint, nothing comes close to it.

In terms of small power plants which give great fuel economy the Fiesta’s biggest competitor might come in the somewhat odd form of the Polo Bluemotion. While it is way down on power, it also uses a tiny 3 cylinder power plant (albeit with diesel).

At R213 000 the Fiesta Ecoboost does come in a little dearer than the VW Polo Bluemotion, but you do get a car that is a lot more fun to drive.

 



Toyota Land Cruiser 4×4 Pop Top Camper Review 30
May
Posted by Kelly Levinsohn in Automotive News, New car review, Popular on 05 30th, 2013

photo5

Join Drive South Africa co-founder Steve Conradie (who just happens to be one of their outdoor experts too) as he reviews the Toyota Land Cruiser 4×4 pop top camper.

With its compact, yet innovate design features this versatile vehicle is both a great 4×4 and a comfortable camper.

You can also find more photos of the Toyota Land Cruiser 4×4 pop top camper on Drive South Africa’s website here. 

Visit Drive South Africa to book your Toyota Land Cruiser 4×4 Pop Top Camper today and travel to some of the best 4×4 camping sites Southern Africa has to offer!

 



Not the Golf: The 2014 Volkswagen GTI 27
Mar
Posted by CarBlog Staff in Autostyle, New car review on 03 27th, 2013

The original Volkswagen Golf GTi may not have been the very first of the hot hatches, but it is undoubtedly the most recognized. Known to many simply as The GTi, it has become one of the most enduring automotive icons of the last thirty-plus years – and for very good reasons.

Performance For Everyone

The secret to the GTi’s longevity is its remarkable all-round ability. Volkswagen may have refined the car over the decades, smoothing out the rough spots and adding ever-greater levels of comfort and equipment, but you don’t have to look very hard to find the boy-racer lurking beneath the cultured surface.

It will handle the rigours of day-to-day family life without missing a beat. Safe, sure-footed and dependable in all weathers. Yet, should the mood take you, you can also get the adrenalin coursing when the loved ones aren’t looking. Such a competent driving machine is unlikely to let you get into serious trouble – the steering is superb and tuned ever-so-slightly to the cautious side of understeer – but you can still kid yourself that you could have taught Vettel or Hamilton a thing or two, if you’d only had the same chances…

This Year’s Model?

Part of what makes this car so good is the process of evolution, rather than revolution. Like its predecessors, the 2014 GTi benefits from incremental improvements rather than radical changes that might upset the fine balancing act the vehicle achieves.

In the pursuit of better fuel economy, this GTi is not just lighter, but also incorporates the stop-start engine technology that can have a surprisingly dramatic impact on consumption. As every enthusiastic driver would hope, there’s also more power. The two-litre TFSI motor delivers 220 horsepower and 258 feet-pounds of torque which, importantly, is available nice and low down the rev range. This guarantees you get crisp response to right-foot input, particularly in the middle gears when you want instant acceleration for rapid, safe overtaking maneuvers.

Power is delivered via either six-speed manual or the impressive six-speed dual-clutch system. If standard acceleration of 0-60 in six point five seconds and a top speed of 152 mph aren’t quite enough for you, there’s a Performance Pack available that will shave a tenth off the sprint and add two mph on the top end. You’ll also get a torque-sensitive limited slip diff to combat any tendency to loose traction through wheel-spin, plus vented disks to haul you back to legal speeds if you get a bit over-exuberant.

That the 2014 GTi is based on the every-day Golf is never in doubt, but even a quick glance tells you that this is something a bit special. The 17-inch alloys give it away – and the red brake calipers. The stance is that bit more purposeful. It’s telling you that while it’s perfectly capable of taking the kids to school and doing the shopping run, it would rather take you out and show you a good time. It would rather put some thrill back into your daily commute, or remind you of when you used to get into your car just for the sheer pleasure of going for a drive.

If those ideas appeal to you, but at the back of your mind there’s an insistent voice reminding you to be sensible then we’re happy to tell you that with the Volkswagen GTi you really can have your cake and eat it. Please form an orderly queue down at the local Volkswagen dealership and demand your slice.

About the author: Neil Hilden is a motoring enthusiast and amateur racing driver. He enjoys sharing his tips and stories through blogging. The Infinity is an up and coming tyre brand in the UK, visit the link to find out more.



Road Test: Ford Focus 1.6 Trend 24
Jan
Posted by Minnaar Pieters in car review, Focus, Ford, New car review, Popular on 01 24th, 2013

The Ford Focus has always had an interesting history in South Africa – Ford aficionados were always impressed by its interesting looks and good engines. The VW and Toyota faithful – not so much. There was just not enough to make these buyers sit up and notice.

But Ford had a long hard look at what the Germans and Japanese were doing in this space, and decided to change their current lineup with somewhat better options and the new SYNC systems.

The looks

The option pack features extra skirts, bigger 17 inch wheels and a few other design touches.

The new Focus does away with the strange rear lights that ran down the sides of the rear window of the old model, and replaces them with new lights which are arguably just as strange. The sides of the car sport very hunkered down curves and you do get the feeling that all the models are made to almost remind you of the ST.

The model I drove was very striking in Candy Red. The Focus becomes a real looker once you fit the Option Pack – it gets nice ST-esque 17 inch mags, a much better styling kit, and chrome trim on the foglamps and grille. You might get a few GTI drivers challenging you at a red light though because they think you are driving an ST.

The interior

Dashboard features typical button heavy Ford design.

The Focus interior continues Ford’s new button and gadget heavy interior. Whereas other brands these days are trying to minimize the number of buttons on the dash, Ford is clearly heading the other way. The sound system and steering wheel is very button heavy.

The steering wheel might be confusing to some – there are two control pads on each side, left controls the left display in the car, the right controls the right instrument cluster display.

The Option Pack also improves the interior with great looking black leather seats with gray stitching, a leather steering wheel and gear knob. It is clearly meant for people who do not only want a car that drives well, but want some decent toys as well. You get automatic headlamps, windscreen wipers and auto-dipping rear view mirror.

Even though the button heavy interior might initimidate some, I could not find fault with either fit or finish. Ford has clearly payed attention to what brands like VW has been doing with their interior, and decided it would be the area they would focus on. The plastics are first rate, and there was not a single rattle or creak. I especially liked the steering wheel – it felt incredibly solid, with a very good looking silver finish which did not feel cheap as is often the case.

On a critical point – I did find some of the cubby placement odd. Not a lack of space, just the layout. For a car that focusses so much on decent in-car tech, I found it strange that I could not find a place to position my smartphone flat down.

Ford’s signature blue lighting looks great in this car, and the displays and controls were all perfectly legible, even in direct sunlight.

SYNC

First off – voice control for in car sound systems is nothing new, but it has traditionally been fitted to cars that are far more expensive than the Focus. In most cases voice recognition is typically found as part of high-end optional navigation systems. The Focus comes standard with SYNC technology, which was developed in partnership with Microsoft. The Focus is one of the first Ford models to be fitted with SYNC in South Africa. The system does not come with navigation, but you do get the idea that Ford is wizening up to the fact that most people these days use navigation software on their smartphones, and the system simply routes navigation commands through the speakers.

While not colour, the SYNC display is perfectly legible and easy to understand.

The big news with Sync is voice control. You can connect your phone via Bluetooth or USB – with Bluetooth you have the advantage of leaving your phone in your pocket, and music and phone calls get sent through the sound system. But you want to connect to USB if you want to see the real magic of SYNC. You simply pull the voice command paddle on the steering wheel, and then the system can recognize more than 150 commands. There is also constant audio feedback, which can get a little irritating – but you can set it so that she is not too chatty.

The voice control paddle is found on the steering wheel.

This voice control system works independently from your phone, so it needs to sync your contacts and music, and index them as such. I was super impressed by the voice recognition – it did not get a single song, artist or album wrong, and the phone dialing was equally amazing. It understood Afrikaans and Xhosa names without any issue, which I found incredible, especially if you have dealt with other voice control systems like Siri.

I tested the system with a Nokia Lumia 820 and Apple iPhone 5. Both worked very well, but the iPhone 5 did not want to send text messages to the SYNC system. I suspect that issue lies with Apple though… One other thing I did not like was the placement of the USB port, which is found in the glovebox. While its great for keeping your iPod out of vision, charging your phone means dangling the cable from the glovebox, which is not very elegant.

USB cabling from the glovebox is not the most elegant.

Driving

While I got the Focus purely to try out the Sync, what is the car like to drive? Pretty great. I got hold of the low end 1.6 model which has 92kw and 159Nm on tap. While it might not sound like much, there is something about the steering and gear changing that really tempts you to take this car and drive it hard. The handling is well suited to this car, but I did get some understeer on some windier roads. Ford ships all local Focus models with Torque Vectoring Control which keeps excessive understeer at bay, and luckily the Michelins on those 17 inch wheels do provide great grip.

The engine is very silent and refined with everyday driving, but in typical Ford fashion it does rumble a little when you rev it hard. Even though the eco monitor might tell you to change gears early, the power band sits above 4000 rpm. But drive the car hard and the gear change indicator disappears.

After driving this model it became clear to me that the Focus is able to handle a lot more power – sure, it might need a limited slip differential for handling the power through the front wheels, but it is a great car to drive. It’s as if the Focus was developed with the vision of becoming the ST, and now I am more eager than ever to try one out.

Overall

The Focus 1.6 Trend was a great car to drive and I believe Ford SA is on the right track by fitting SYNC to most of the new models, including upcoming Fiestas. The SYNC system works very well – and even though it might sport a big screen or navigation, the voice recognition is amongst the best I have used.

Even in this 1.6 guise, the car retains its Ford “power” ambitions – its engine is peaky and excellent to drive. I could not find fault in the handling either. The interior is where Ford has clearly improved a lot, and the plastics and finish was amongst the best of any car I have seen in this segment.

I believe the Focus is an excellent competitor in this segment. At R236 000, the model I drove is pretty good value for money, but that Option Pack is a must have.



Review: The New Mercedes Benz GL 63 AMG 16
Oct
Posted by CarBlog Staff in 4X4, New car review on 10 16th, 2012

Written by: Neil Hilden

As you have probably guessed, the new Mercedes Benz GL 63 AMG comes with all the luxury and comfort that you would expect from this German car. And it doesn’t disappoint. The new Mercedes Benz GL 63 AMG fully carries on the Mercedes tradition in that it offers the best performance oriented all-wheel-drive experience. The AMG comes with top of the line features and equipment that embraces innovation and superb attention to detail, providing a perfect mix of luxury and comfort.

The new Mercedes Benz interior is a breathtaking work of art with high quality leather upholstered seats. The new AMG is the big daddy compared to those archaic and somehow absurdly powerful off-roaders. Then a look under the hood presents to you the source of the power.

5.5 Liter Engine for Super Performance

The new Mercedes Benz GL63 AMG is equipped with a 5.5 litre twin-turbo V8 power plant which gives crazy levels of torque and power. The average output is a massive 410kW, which roughly translates to 557hp and a maximum torque of 760nm. It goes without saying that this is one of the top performing vehicles of the 21st century.

The electronically refined engine offers the best performance, easily reaching top speeds of 250 kilometers per hour. The AMG accelerates from 0 to 100 kph in just 4.9 seconds, which is extremely fast by any standards. But if you are tempted to conclude that this is a fuel guzzler, relax.

More MPG and Less Carbon

The GL63 AMG consumes a paltry 12.3 litres for every 100 kilometers covered. This translates to about 288 grams of CO2 per kilometer. This efficiency can be attributed to the powerful AMG eight-cylinder engine which has an advanced power package including spray-guided direct injection fuel injectors. Other contributing factors include the twin-turbo charging, water and air intercooler, variable camshaft and an all-aluminium design with four-valve cylinders. If you can think of heaven in a car, this is it.

All-Wheel Drive Car

All the four wheels of the new Mercedes Benz receive power through the AMG Speed shift coupled with 7G-Tronic. The system features an automatic double-declutching motion and transmission which provides amazing speed variability for this seven-speed machine. The all-time four-wheel-drive machine receives the 557 horsepower courtesy of a seven-speed GL63 AMG gearbox at a 40:60 ratio front to back.

With its keenness to promoting the GL63 AMG sporting bent, Mercedes inculcated an active curve system to this amazing car in order to reduce body roll when negotiating corners at high speeds. This in turn offers better handling and increases stability. Its robustly fashioned rear axle offers precise steering capabilities, making it easy to drive through mazes at ‘crazy normal’ speeds, its 2500 KGs notwithstanding.

It features a high-performance braking system that makes it possible to brake within very short distances; thanks to the perforated all-round brake discs.

A Striking Price Tag for a Striking Car

As one of the high-riding S-Class vehicles, the GL 63 AMG comes with all the goodies you’d expect in such a car: colour TFT screen, electrically adjusted leather seats and tail gate, 360 rear view camera, among others. On price; you have to hold your breath. This strikingly designed vehicle will definitely carry a striking price tag.

About the author: Neil Hilden, a freelance writer, contributed this guest post on behalf of Wish.co.uk. He is also an automotive enthusiast with his articles mainly appearing on auto blogs.



Road Test: Ford Ranger 3.2 TDCi XLT 3
Oct
Posted by Minnaar Pieters in 3.2 TDCi 4x4, 4X4, Ford, New car review, Popular, ranger on 10 3rd, 2012

When you first look at the Ford Ranger, it is quite a daunting machine. The sheer size of the thing makes you wonder what it would be like to use in everyday life. But this Ford is not alone – other bakkies in SA are also starting to stretch in size. South Africa is currently being flooded with great new choices in the bakkie market, and the new Ford Ranger might just make the most compelling argument of the bunch. While the VW Amarok was the big new entry in the last few years, the new Ranger is the bakkie that will be trying to persuade the Hilux faithful.

We spent the week with the new high end 3.2 litre TDCi XLT model, and the new Ranger did not disappoint.

Features

The Ranger is a very good looking bakkie, and it displays a lot bigger than its competitors. But at 2,16 metres wide, it really is quite a broad fella. Measuring 5,27 metres long, I did have some trouble finding parking spots where the Ranger did not stick out a bit though. But the Ranger uses this size well, and the cabin is the first place where you notice some of the extra space.

Inside the Ranger is roomy, and it is not difficult to find a comfortable seating position. You sit higher than most other bakkies, but you quickly get used it. It should be pointed out that the steering wheel is not reach adjustable, which we found somewhat strange. Typically rear passengers in a double cab get a raw deal, but the Ranger is a lot more roomy in terms of rear legroom compared to its competitors.

We especially enjoyed all the little cubbies and spaces to store personal items – the Ranger also has a cooled space in between the front passenger seats, and the cup holders are nice and deep. We reckon the Ranger will be a great vehicle for long road trips. The dash is made from pretty hard textured plastic, which will probably wear well, and we did not notice a single rattle coming from it despite the vehicle having 18,000km on the clock.

The XLT model tested arrives with a whole range of extra features, and I was especially impressed by the audio system. Not only in sound quality, but also in terms of how easily it connected to phones, and then used A2DP Bluetooth to play your music stored without any fuss. Buttons on the steering wheel make it easy to quickly change tracks and answer calls as needed. There is also a voice control system, which worked well enough – simple commands like “Set radio to 567 AM” worked, but it did have some trouble with my South African accent in some instances.

You will also find USB connectivity for iPods and flash drives, and AUX in if you prefer analog input.

The XLT is the highest end “workhorse” model available with 4×4 and an auto box. There is also a Wildtrak model which has some extras for those who want a more “mean looking” bakkie, but is only available with a manual gearbox and 4×2. The Wildtrak model is also equipped with items like rain sensing wipers and climate control.

Driving

The new Ranger is based on a completely new platform, that will be shared in all its world markets, and its clear Ford really put a lot of effort into the design thereof.  The car feels incredibly solid driving around town, on highways and dirt roads. It is particularly noticeable how well the Ranger handles turns – it has almost no roll in the body, even when we took a fast drive up Helshoogte pass in Stellenbosch. The Ranger just simply grips all the way, which is probably helped by the nice fat tyres.

The Ranger clearly has its opposition in its visor as a worker’s machine, and the Ranger shows this with a very strong 3350kg towing capacity (750kg unbraked), as well as a 80cm wade depth, which is still unmatched amongst its competitors. Ford also put a lot of emphasis on safety – the Ranger arrives with a whole host of confusing acronyms to improve handling like traction control, trailer sway control, adaptive load control and roll over “mitigation”.  The inside is surrounded by airbags – in fact the driver even has a knee airbag. All of these safety features means that the Ford Ranger has a 5 star EuroNCAP safety rating, which is still unmatched by other bakkies.

Despite its massive wheelbase, the Ranger is remarkably easy to handle, and is surprisingly easy to use for day to day driving, even in the city. But we also took it for some mild off road driving on one Stellenbosch farm, and the Ranger really showed its mettle especially on a very muddy trail between the vineyards. Switching to 4 wheel drive or low range 4 wheel drive is as easy as turning a switch, and then the magic happens.

We also tested the hill descent control, and it worked especially well on some of the very muddy sections. Subtle buzzing noises are heard every now and then as it tries to find traction, but it does the job.

But on the open road that big 3.2 litre diesel can really gallop when needed. With 147kw on tap and 470Nm of torgue from only 1500rpm, overtaking was an absolute breeze. The 6 speed automatic gearbox made it a very comfortable car to drive, but its kickdowns when pushed were quick and without drama. The Ranger 3.2 TDCi will hit 100km/h in a claimed 9,5 seconds.

While the Ranger weighs 2,2 tons, it never felt heavy with that big engine. At first we were hesitant to drive it too hard, but we quickly noticed that the 5 cylinder 3.2 litre Diesel is pretty fuel efficient despite the vehicle’s massive weight. After the week we averaged 10,4 litres per 100km, which included some highway driving, but a lot of city driving as well. One thing we also liked was how well “calm” the cruise control was – when clicking the button to resume a previous set speed, the acceleration was never harsh like with some other cars. You can see Ford put some effort into making the cruise control a good tool to save fuel.

The Ford Ranger comes with a 5 year, 90 000km service plan and a 4 years, 120 000km warranty which only sweetens the deal compared to some other bakkies in South Africa.

Conclusions / Recommendations:

The Ranger 3.2 TDCi was an absolute gem to drive – the engine has more than enough power, the chassis seems incredibly tough, and it is easily the most comfortable bakkie in South Africa. While our test vehicle’s metallic blue colour looks great in photos, we would opt for something more practical, because the blue paint really does show every little scratch from everyday use.

After a week we were sad to see the Ranger go – while imposing at first, it quickly became a treat, and that lovely engine made every trip fun. If we were Toyota we would be very worried – the Ranger is sure to sway away some loyals to the Ford camp, provided Ford can keep up with the demand.

Model tested: Ranger 3.2 TDCi XLT 6 Speed Auto 4×4

Engine Specs: 147Kw / 470Nm

Options fitted: None, Standard XLT Spec

List Retail Price: R456,760



Chris Harris Reviews Merc’s SL63 AMG 28
May
Posted by Kelly Levinsohn in New car review, Videos on 05 28th, 2012

In one of his latest reviews, Chris Harris test drives the Mercedes Benz SL63 AMG Bi-Turbo in St. Tropez.

Harris describes the car as “the ultimate go anywhere, roof up or roof down sports car” and acknowledges its ‘bi-polar’ nature as it simultaneously offers comfort and sport, quiet and noise, excitement and calm. Interesting.

For more figures and performance information watch Harris in action in the video below:

Uploaded by Drive



Novitec Tweaks Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1
Sep
Posted by Kelly Levinsohn in New car review on 09 1st, 2011

German tuning house Novitec Automobile GmbH has decided to do some tweaking on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The company, known for their tuning of Ferrari’s, has experience with Alfa and decided to make some exciting improvements on the Italian hatchback. The vehicle prides itself on offering power and speed with a reasonable price tag attached.

Beginning in the engine bay, Novitec made adjustments with the full range of gasoline and diesel engines available, to squeeze out an extra 15-30 horsepower depending on the model.  Additional features include stainless steel sport mufflers, wheels with diameters of up to 20 inches and an aerodynamic-enhancement package.

The front of the vehicle will undergo some changes that will result in a reduced lift on the front axle, the rear will be fitted with a bumper with integrated diffuser and the side skirts will create a more sleeker appearance.

webalfa giulietta novitec 09 Novitec Tweaks Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Alfa Romeo Giulietta

 



Renault Megane RS 250 Limited Edition 31
Aug
Posted by Kelly Levinsohn in Megane, New car review, renault on 08 31st, 2011

Renault have recently officially released the details of their latest limited edition Megane RS 250 Grand Prix model.  The French auto manufacturer pays homage to the Monaco GP circuit with this luxurious award winning Megane that is reflected in its looks and drive.

Renault has packed the hatch with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four producing 246 horsepower and 251 lb/ft of torque. Other features include  a panoramic glass roof, 19-inch alloys, red Brembo brake calipers and bi-xenon headlights. The interior shows off a black-and-white leather trim with white accents on the center console, dash-strip, and door handles.  The Pearlescent White paint, in which the car is currently only available, reflects its exclusive status.

Unfortunately the limited edition hatch is only available for the Australian market.

reanault Renault Megane RS 250 Limited Edition

Justin Hocevar, Managing Director Renault Australia has stated that “this incredibly luxurious version of the Mégane R.S. 250 will appeal to lovers of hot hatches who don’t want to compromise on their everyday creature comforts.”



Volkswagen’s Smallest Car Ever 22
Aug
Posted by Ciro De Siena in Automotive News, New car review, Popular, Volkswagen on 08 22nd, 2011

new volkswagen up 6 Volkswagens Smallest Car Ever

Ever looked at a VW Polo and thought, “Hmmm, that thing is just far too large. I wish Volkswagen made something much smaller.” No? Me neither. But if tiny cars are your thing, you’re in luck, as VW has confirmed that new up! (yes, lower case and exclamation mark are part of the model name) will be on sale in Europe by the end of the year.

Gallery and Specs after the jump.

This car is properly small, at just 3.5 metres long, it’s a whole 2 metres shorter than an Audi Q7 or Mercedes S Class, for instance. It is billed as a four seater though, and I must admit looks pretty good as well, immediately recognisable as a four seater.

The up! (typing that exclamation mark is going to get annoying) debuts with two brand new, 3 cylinder petrol engines, developing 44kW and 55kW depending on the model variant you may choose. Fuel economy is exceptional, there’s no hybrid or EV trickery here, just good old fashioned frugal fuel use. VW claims 4.2l/100km on the combined EU cycle (highways and city mixed).

This is the first small car to feature emergency automatic stop, named City Emergency Braking. An additional option, the system is active at under 30km/h and uses a laser to detect imminent collisions. It will bring the car to a complete stop depending on the driver inputs or lack thereof.

The infotainment system is also pretty nifty. The entire system is wirelessly connected to a removable touch screen, which clips onto the dash (see images). The system can be plugged in at home and you can download, wait for it, apps for your car. Yes, the age of the car app is upon us.

There are no prices for the SA market as yet and sadly VW SA has said there are no plans to bring it here, but I will eat my new pair of Levi’s if they don’t, because to be honest with competition from Toyota’s Aygo and the Hyundai i10, they would be terribly silly not to.

Ciro De Siena – OverdriveTV

new volkswagen up 1 150x150 Volkswagens Smallest Car Ever
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new volkswagen up 5 150x150 Volkswagens Smallest Car Ever
new volkswagen up 6 150x150 Volkswagens Smallest Car Ever



C-Sick. We Drive The Brand New Citroen C4 30
May
Posted by overdrivetv in C4, Citroen, gearbox, New car review, review, south-africa on 05 30th, 2011

I’m one of those people who’s always liked the French.  Their lack of sentimentality, and hence lack of diplomacy has always rubbed me up the right way.  I was on the Paris Metro once and being a bit lost, was waiting in line at an info kiosk to ask for some assistance.  In front of me was an American Family. The American Family.  The American Family with fanny packs and fat where other people from other nations don’t have fat.

AMERICAN FATHER (I won’t say American Dad, because that’s a great show):  ”Where’s the Arch of Triumph?  Excuse me.  Do you know where the Arch of TRY-UMPH is?”

The Frenchman behind the glass just gave a wonderful Gallic shrug.  I loved his reaction even more because I had just come from outside and the Arc D’Triomph was literally meters to the left up on the pavement.  But he wouldn’t budge, he just shrugged and I loved it.

What irritated me the most was that the American made absolutely no attempt at “hello” in ANY language, never mind French, and just launched a terrible attempt at pronouncing their most important landmark.

I approached the glass after the Americans wandered off muttering, and after a very bad Bon jour asked if I may proceed in English.  “Of course,” said the same guy who minutes earlier had been Jean-Pierre Le’Shrug.  He gave me directions in perfect English merely because I had made an effort – in his country – to converse with him. Like any nation, the French want you to understand them. To acknowledge them on their own terms.

So I was prepared to love the new Citroen C4 on its own terms. I was ready to be enveloped in its Frenchness.  I was ready to be smitten by the utterly daft, peculiar beings they can be.  I was ready to love it.  And at first I did.  Sitting in it, everything worked, but was a bit…off.

The gear lever looks like the top of a wine opener. Fittingly, because the man who made the gearbox was drunk and on leave apparently when he designed it via fax from a vineyard.  But more on that in a minute.  The level of luxury in here is truly exemplary.  There’s a French suaveness about it all.  The seats massage you, the display is brilliant and everything seems to work like it should.  It’s like learning the Parisien Underground. Once you’ve got it, you’ve got it.

So far so good. I was feeling fully fluent in French.  Then I began to drive it, and this car doesn’t speak “DRIVE”. As in the part of the gearbox that makes the car go forwards consistently.

I nudged the wine opener backwards into A for Automatique I assume (you nudge it forward for reverse obviously) and the car really got moving with a hint of wheelspin.  Not bad… and then it felt like someone had half pulled the handbrake up as it wheezed its way into second.  Satellites don’t have this much delay.  It seriously felt like the car had tried to stop. It’s unnerving.

Remembering my French lessons, I automatiquelly assumed it was me making a hash of things.  I was quite obviously squeezing mayonnaise out of a tube onto a delicate croissant layered with roast beef from a tin in front of  Sarkozy’s wife while explaining why Zidane was shit and always had been.

This sort of thing had happened with my driving style before.  How can I put this.  I sometimes drive cars wrong. I drive Cadillacs like they’re speedboats at first and then realise how cool they are when you drive them like you’ve had three strokes, for instance.  Right, time for a new driving approach.  I’ll feather the accelerator, nice and smooth, none of this robot racing right foot and…second gear…clang!  I felt like the airbags should’ve deployed. It’s like you’ve driven into a shed.  Not one sturdy enough to stop you, but enough to let you know it was there.

It’s appalling this gearbox, truly appaling. I tried and tried and then eventually felt something I’ve never experienced before: Motion Sickness.  I’ve eaten left over cold pizza with a hangover on a yacht while people threw up around me from sea sickness and I scoffed at their weakness, but I actually felt ill after driving around in the C4 for a while.

Citroen claim it’s not an automatic and it’s not a manual; it’s something else.  Right. All they’ve achieved is making both types of gearbox worse.  Infinitely worse.  It seems in typical Citroen fashion they’ve blown the R&D budget on things like multi coloured LCD displays (you can choose from 8 hues of blue) and varying sounds made by your indicator instead of on things like the bloody gearbox.

Citroen’s eccentricity used to be reserved for design and that used to make them charming and cultish.  The C4 with it’s ESG auto/manual or whatever is not just annoying, it is quite literally the first auto I’ve felt was constantly about to stall, and that’s a real pity because the rest of it is everything a Citroen should be. Thank goodness you can still have a good old manual.

By Gavin Williams – OverdriveTV


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