When I was at the instruction day at the Jaguar Land Rover Experience Centre I saw my very first new Defender in the wild, and it has that new retro flavour to it - or in other words, it's awesome! I had to have a few snaps for myself and when my instruction session was over and before the day's second session, I had the chance. The super hot Defender P400 S was parked on a paved road under a tree, and when I said I wanted some pics they offered to move the car for me, but I decided to do something I used to do long ago to practice working with what you've got. I told them the Defender was parked just right and I'd shoot around the car. So the challenge to myself when I do this is to get as many interesting shots as possible working with angles and the surrounding elements with no real control over the light, jus adapting to it. It makes you think and encourages thinking outside of the box, well for me anyway. The first two images are just to show where the Defender was parked and what I had to work with. I used my Canon 6D Mk2 with a Sigma Art 24-70mm f/2.8 and a Canon 70-200mm F/4.0.
I took loads of shots, which I'll upload to the CWM Facebook page when I have a chance, but in the meantime here's some selections that I liked. Have you ever done exercises like this? What have you done? Let me know your thoughts.
One thing I often end up being is The Stand-In Guy, and that's not a complaint in any way at all. Over the years it's seen me attending some pretty amazing events, and this time round was no different when one of the SAGMJ members couldn't make it to a training session at the Jaguar Land Rover Experience Centre in Lonehill, and I could... I knew things were being upgraded at the venue, and I haven't been past in a few years so wasn't expecting what I saw - a state-of-the-art facility that has everything you could need or want to teach proper driving both on and off road. There's also a brilliant restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch, and plenty room for training and conferences and the like. There's also a merchandise shop, racing simulators and some really amazing models and displays. The new Defender on steelies is just too cool, as is the half an E-Pace.
The order of the day was to drive a variety of Jaguar models (XE, XF, F-Type, F-Pace SVR and the E-Pace) as part of the Jaguar Half Day Dynamic course while learning about braking, handling and the effects of both active and passive safety systems in simulated emergency situations. After a briefing with Devin Scott, one of the Experience Instructors, we headed out to put the theory into practice, in other words, the fun part of the day. The emergency brake / lane change manoeuvre can be quite intimidating for those that haven't experienced it. You do end up putting a fair amount of trust into the car (and your own abilities), but if done right it can be a life-saving move on the roads out there. We also put the handling to test on a slalom course which thanks to the variety of cars, showed the differences in the dynamics of SUVs vs sedans, all-wheel drive vs rear-wheel drive and even combustion vs electric - something we're going to all need to learn about soon. On that note electric vehicles are just mad man, the Jaguar I-Pace has a ridiculously fast pull off and surprisingly decent handling thanks to the weight of the batteries being low down in the chassis. Feeling this and knowing how these cars react is a must for anyone who will ever climb behind the wheel of an EV. They're deceptively powerful, silent and they're patiently waiting for you to become a viral video when you accidentally mash the accelerator and the car launches.
These events are great, they remind you that you're not the driving god you think you are, which can dent some egos and that's great for a laugh. I won't go into all the tech and theory learned, that's the job of the instructors when you book a course, and you really should. It's affordable, a great Christmas or birthday pressie, you can potentially get an insurance discount, and more importantly it equips you to better deal with surviving our notoriously dangerous roads. Also, can you really put a price on getting to drive the latest Jaguars or Land Rovers in a world-class venue right on your doorstep in Jo'burg? I reckon not.
I did the morning session, and stayed behind to get shots of the afternoon session, but I had to leave before it was over so I didn't manage any skidpan pics. Just imagine the same pics with water everywhere. For more on the experience, click on through to the website. A huge thanks goes out to Marcel, Devon and the third guy who's name has done a runner (sorry guy), as well as the rest of the JLR crew for a great day at the office. See why being part of the SAGMJ is cool?
Here's a few pics, I'll add a full album on the CWM Facebook page.
When you crack an invite from Ford South Africa to attend a round of the SA Cross-country Championship Series, the Ford Parys 400, you clear your calendar and make sure you go. I know from experience, having attended one towards the end of 2019 which also involved the crew from Neil Woolridge Motorsport. It was also at the Parys Airfield, so I knew what to expect and where we'd be headed to see the racers fly by at speeds on gravel and veld that will blow your mind. It's especially scary when you're standing in the path of a Ford Ranger barreling towards you with such speed that you know if the driver just blinks at the wrong time you could end up sharing space with splattered bugs on the grille. Of course with the NWM crew, they're all pros so that won't (shouldn't) happen. Ford Ranger #334 was piloted by Lance Woolridge with navigator being Elvéne Vonk, a name you really should know if you're a fan of motorsport in SA. Ford Ranger #377 saw Gareth Woolridge at the wheel with Boyd Dreyer taking on nav duties.
At the last event like this, we were transported to the spectator points in a fleet of Ranger Raptors, and this year we were in the comfort of a few Ford Tourneo Customs, the perfect long range people carrier. Of course they weren't as fleet on the gravel, but having your own aircon vent blasting ice cold air on you when the outside temps were in the mid-30s was something I wouldn't have traded for much else on that day. There was definitely a noticeable decease in the amount of spectators thanks to the Covid things, but there were still enough people out and about tracking and supporting their favourite drivers to create some small traffic jams and to make the competitors perform that much harder. There really are die-hard motorsport fans in SA, my kinda people.
In between viewing points, we were treated to a fantastic catered lunch at the crew's pits and each of us there was gifted with the coolest Ford Performance/NWM/Castrol Edge-branded camping chair that will accompany to every event I attend from now on. A Q&A session with members of NWM was pretty interesting, especially learning how well the Rangers are faring is what's essentially a higher class. At the end of a clearly gruelling event, the Ford-based teams did great. Gareth and Boyd in Ranger #377 clinched a 3rd overall for the day and the team also claimed the South African Cross Country Series Manufacturers Award as well as the Team Award. Fellow Ford drivers Wors Prinsloo (#T41) took the Class T win with Malcolm Kock (#T28) 2nd. A true blue Ford weekend!
A huge thanks to Ford SA and Neil Woolridge Motorsport for yet another awesome event, there is no better way to watch an offroad event. To the behind the scenes crew making sure all the journos and influencers are treated like royalty, you get the biggest thanks for working so hard on such a hot day. It's events like these that keep the interest and passion for shooting motorsport alive.
In the world of double cab bakkies, there is none (in SA) bigger than Ford’s Ranger Raptor. It’s a monstrous thing with dimensions that exclude it from any normal-sized garage. Ok, sure, the competition doesn’t quite fit either, but if you were to own a competitor bakkie that only just squeezes into your garage, upgrading to a Ranger Raptor would see you needing home renovations to accommodate. In the double cabs I’ve reviewed before, I’ve always mentioned that I’m only ever a fan of these when driving them. Puttering around in my car I bitch and moan about double cab drivers on the highways because the majority (how’s that for a generalisation?) of them drive like twats, but when I’m behind the wheel of one I automatically subscribe to the “when in Rome” way of thinking - that's King Twat to you!. So I either have a problem with big bakkies, or I’m the problem in a big bakkie. You see, you can’t help it, when you’re in such a big beast of a thing it feels fantastic and your manners are quickly forgotten. “What? You dare to try take a that gap in front on me? In that pathetic attempt at transportation? Stay in your lane, inferior being” is pretty much where my thought process goes, and generalising again, it’s probably like that for all big bakkie drivers.
I’ve mentioned that it’s the biggest double cab out there, but I think it’s also the best looking. I’m not picking on the others, they all really do look good for the most part, just not this good. The Ranger Raptor is a top-of-the-line Wildtrak under the skin, but with select changes and all the right curves in all the right places, it’s immediately distinguishable from the Wildtrak. Head on, the first thing that should draw your eyes in is the massive FORD in the centre of the grille. We’ve seen similar aftermarket grilles fitted to other Rangers before, but this OEM piece is just better. I think the fact that it’s flanked by widened fenders helps too, it’s an evil-looking thing, it makes sense why small hatchbacks and single cab bakkies scramble out of the way. In total the Raptor is a good 168mm wider at 2028mm with the wheel track 150mm wider, it's 44mm longer and 22mm higher. The front bumper is different with a spaced fitment that adds to the perception of a bigger overall size, and having it in black instead of being body-coloured just works, no matter the body colour. The bash plate is again a different colour, this time silver, making for a three-way contrast which makes for proper bakkie eye candy. Round back the taillights have a unique design and the badging is a few font sizes bigger. Just below the integrated rear bumper you’ll notice there’s now dual tow hooks, which just looks badass.
The side profile is just brilliant, and the signature Raptor stickers work well. In fact I spotted a Performance Blue Raptor minus stickers the other day and it just looks wrong. Subjective of course, but also, I’m right and you should just accept it. There’s 17-inch wheels that are finished in a satin black, again this works perfectly no matter the shade of exterior paint. They’re wrapped in some chunky 33-inch BF Goodrich all-terrain rubber, adding to that bad-ass look. There’s a sizeable fender gap, which is thanks to the Raptor’s party trick – Fox Racing suspension. This not only raises the body by 50mm, it affords the thing some mind-blowing off-road capability with 283mm of ground clearance. Not in the sense of traversing obstacles, although in the slower technical bits it is massively capable of course. I’m talking switching the electronic drive mode to BAJA, activating all-wheel drive and crossing flat-is off-road stretches at silly speeds. If you haven’t seen any of the testing of this thing on YouTube, you have to. It’s so much fun, and with the power on tap long sweeping 4-wheel drifts are controllable and instantly addictive. Or so I’ve been told…
The cabin is more like something you’d expect in an RS streetcar, there’s absolutely awesome leather and alcantara Recaro race seats, a leather trimmed dash, a chunky leather-bound sports steering wheel, paddle shifters and brushed aluminium accents splashed around the cabin. The instrument cluster shows all the usual info, it does have a sporty look to it too. The 8-inch touchscreen heading up the infotainment system uses Ford’s Sync 3 system, which has always been a favourite thanks to its intuitive ease of use and an abundance of functions and features. The sound system bangs, and somehow it’s quite fitting having it blare my Country Rock playlist while kicking down dirt roads in a Ranger Raptor. All that’s missing is a Stetson, unless my wife is sitting shotgun because she’s always wearing one. There’s ample space front and rear, a compliment of 6-footers will be right at home and not even touch elbows. The Recaro seats are probably the most comfortable I’ve been in, they’re a little wider than usual, likely in anticipation of some of the homegrown farmer types who are usually built on a bigger chassis than us city boys. Tell me that Tim McGraw's Truck Yeah doesn't work in a Ranger Raptor, and I'll call you a liar.
Powering the Ford Ranger Raptor is something most don’t expect, and many hardcore fans don’t agree with. Based on looks alone, you’d think the Ranger Raptor would share the Mustang’s 5.0-litre Coyote V8, the Shelby’s 5.2-litre Voodoo V8 or in a perfect world, the GT500’s 5.2-litre Predator V8. Instead we find four less cylinders and an addiction to diesel fuel. It’s sort of like meeting a 6ft7, 250kg MMA fighter with a tenor voice. So continue my analogy, it’s purely in the voice because said 250kg MMA fighter will be able to pull your arm off and beat you with the wet end, no matter what tone of voice he has. While the diesel powerplant in the Ranger Raptor measures in with a mere 2.0-litres in capacity, it does happen to have a pair of turbochargers attached making some magick, the result being a decent 157kW of power with a massive 500Nm of torque. Them’s good numbers, and with that torque kicking in at just 1500rpm it makes for a fun drive. Mated to this powerplant we find a new 10-speed auto transmission. It’s brilliant, smooth as silk and it doesn’t ever hunt for the right gear no matter what drive mode you select in the Terrain Management System. I do think, and you’d have to check with some more technical people, that there’s some sort of torque limiter built in because all those Newtons don’t seem to kick in off the line when you mash the loud pedal. Lining up against more than one VW Amarok more than once, the Raptor ended up playing catch-up being out-launched from the get-go. Against the same Amaroks while rolling from 100km/h, the Raptor seems to be a much stronger beast and it quickly put the VWs on the back foot - you can definitely feel that torque in your butt dyno. Fuel consumption is rated at 8.7-litres/100km, which is great for a massive thing like the Raptor, except that even on a 200km trip with cruise control set to 125km/h the best figures returned (according to the on-board system), was 11.2-litres/100km. When showing the aforementioned Amarok how nice the Raptor tailgate looks, that figure pretty much doubled. But you know what? I didn’t care. Like the Mustang, I ended up spending two months' petrol budget on this thing in a week, the smiles were well worth it.
The price tag for the Ranger Raptor is high, you’re looking at paying closer to the R900k mark now, and adding in finance and all those fun fees, this going to be well over a bar by the time you’ve paid the bank back. That’s a big chunk of change, especially in the strange times we find ourselves in. There’s plenty awesome cars and bakkies to be had for that price, but if I had the opportunity, I reckon I’d still have me a Ranger Raptor if I was keen on making a big statement. Like the Mustang, this thing makes you feel like a boss no matter if you’re on a sand road, off road, in the veld, on the tar or in the local Spar's parking lot. I think also having it being locally produced is just brilliant and adds plenty braai-time talking points. I initially thought that Ford Performance Blue is the ultimate colour for one of these, but Colorado Red, Frozen White and Shadow Black look just as mean. After seeing one in the metal, my lotto winnings would be best spent on a Conquer Grey Raptor – I don’t think it’s possible to have a cooler factory double cab. If a V8 version does happen one day, that would be pretty cool, but I quite like this one just the way it is. For more info, head on over to www.ford.co.za, or click on the .pdf at the end of the article.
⬇️ PORN ALERT ⬇️
Gotta love it when you have Mustang content following Mustang content, well I do anyway. In the post about the 2.3 EcoBoost Mustang I mentioned that I prefer the turbo 4 over the rumbling V8, and as predicted it caused a few arguments on somme online groups where the article was shared. It seems the general consensus is that if you want a Mustang, it must be the V8 or nothing. Well, if the entry 4-cylinder upset the purists and fans (many of whom mostly argue without having driven any kind of Mustang at all), then this new once-off prototype will have them wanting the Ford top brass hunted down and tortured. There was already an uproar in May when the all-electric Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 full electric dragster was released. Also a one-off prototype, that monster packs a whopping 1045kW of power and over 1 490Nm of instant torque. It was only a matter of time before the men in white coats from Ford Performance tried another mad project. For this one they roped in the talent from RTR for a collaboration and turned their attention and expertise to a different discipline, the result being The Ford Mustang Mach-E 1400, a vehicle set to tear up circuits with actual turns and banks - and drift like an absolute monster.
From the release:
“Now is the perfect time to leverage electric technology, learn from it, and apply it to our portfolio,” said Ron Heiser, chief programme engineer, Mustang Mach-E. “Mustang Mach-E is going to be fun to drive, just like every other Mustang before it, but Mustang Mach-E 1400 is completely insane, thanks to the efforts of Ford Performance and RTR.” The Mustang Mach-E 1400 is the result of 10,000 hours of collaboration by Ford Performance and RTR aimed at bridging the gap between what an electric vehicle can do and what customers tend to believe it can do. “Getting behind the wheel of this car has completely changed my perspective on what power and torque can be,” said Vaughn Gittin Jr., RTR Vehicles founder, motorsports champion and professional fun-haver. “This experience is like nothing you’ve ever imagined, except for maybe a magnetic roller coaster.”
Mustang Mach-E 1400 has taken shape without rules. The Ford design team and RTR used many of the same tools Ford uses for its race cars and production programmes. Aerodynamics are optimised for shape and location, with a focus on cooling ducts, front splitter, dive planes and rear wing. Mustang Mach-E 1400 has seven motors – five more than even Mustang Mach-E GT. Three are attached to the front differential and four are attached to the rear in pancake style, with a single driveshaft connecting them to the differentials, which have a huge range of adjustability to set the car up for everything from drifting to high-speed track racing.
“The challenge was controlling the extreme levels of power provided by the seven motors,” said Mark Rushbrook, motorsports director, Ford Performance. “Mustang Mach-E 1400 is a showcase of the art of the possible with an electric vehicle.” The chassis and powertrain are set up to allow the team to investigate different layouts and their effects on energy consumption and performance, including rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive. Drift and track setups have completely different front end configurations like control arms and steering changes to allow for extreme steering angles in drifting. Power delivery can be split evenly between front and rear, or completely to one or the other. Downforce is targeted at more than 1,000kg at 257km/h.
The 56.8-kilowatt-hour battery (installed) is made up of nickel manganese cobalt pouch cells for ultra-high performance and high discharge rate. The battery system is designed to be cooled during charging using a di-electric coolant, decreasing the time needed between runs. An electronic brake booster is integrated to allow series regenerative braking combined with ABS and stability control to optimise the braking system. Mustang Mach-E 1400 features Brembo™ brakes, like the Mustang GT4 race car, and a hydraulic handbrake system designed for drifting that integrates with the powertrain controls to enable the ability to shut off power to the rear motors. Mustang Mach-E 1400, which is set to debut at a NASCAR race soon, serves as a test bed for new materials. The hood is made of organic composite fibres, a lightweight alternative to the carbon fibre that comprises the rest of the vehicle.
Ford is investing more than $11.5 billion in electric vehicles worldwide and the Mustang is the perfect nameplate to start this exciting chapter in electric vehicles.
A Mustang doesn't need a V8 to make you smile - a turbo is the perfect replacement for displacement.
Mustang – Since 1964. Yup, the motoring icon that is the Ford Mustang started 56 years ago with it's debut at the World’s Fair held in New York on the 17th April 1964 - the same day it was launched in Ford dealerships across the USA. The powers that be should have immediately known that success was a given thanks to the absolutely astonishing fact that the first day sales of the Ford Mustang tallied a whopping 22 000 units. Incidentally many of those first Mustangs are sought after by collectors because they were classified as 1964 ½ models, with 1965 only being the first full year of production. The model was expected to sell 100 000 models in that first year, but it ended up being the most successful vehicle launch since the 1927 Model A Ford totalling over 400 000 sales in 1965 alone; in just two years over a million Mustangs were scattered around the USA and a few outlying countries.
Now when most people think of the Ford Mustang, classic or modern, the Ponycar is pictured with a growling V8 powerplant. It's totally possible to get into a fistfight with a total stranger of a Ford fanatic by arguing that other engine offerings can be just as good. I mean back in the 60s all those sales weren't attributed to the 8-cylinder models, many of those cars were inline 6-cylinder models. They were cheaper than the 8-banger and were part of the reason that the sales were so good; it put the Mustang within reach of the blue collar workers. It's the same these days, since new life was breathed into the Mustang back in 2015 when it was turned into a global model, there's was the option of a 3.7-litre V6 and a 2.3-litre 4-cylinder EcoBoost turbocharged powerplant - much to the dismay of purists.
Even though 2015 isn't too long ago, this generation Ford Mustang received a makeover before this 2019/2020 facelift. In and amongst things changed and updated, some exterior bits were redesigned to keep the car looking as fresh as it's competitors, and at the same time the V6 powerplant was dropped from the option list leaving the V8 and the turbocharged inline-4 as the only options. The 2020 model arrived with the 5.0 V8's power figures at a very healthy 331kW and 529Nm, and the EcoBoost rated at 213kW with 441Nm - and both setups have now benefitted from a new slick 10-speed auto transmission. So looking at those figures, 213kW isn't something to turn your nose up at. Those that live their life by the numbers cars spit out never seem to acknowledge that it's a decent chunk of killerwatts from a 4-cylinder setup, even if there's 300cc more than usual. I mean the holy grail of hatchbacks, the GTi is rated at 169kW and the highly tuned Golf R is at 228kW. All of a sudden the numbers from the entry-level Mustang are worth taking note of...
The last time I drove a Mustang was during the local launch in December 2015 and it's one of those motoring experiences that has stuck with me. Rolling along the beach road in Camps Bay in a Mustang is pretty much ingrained in my motoring memory highlights, and while the yellow 5.0 V8 GT was great, I swear that I had more fun driving the EcoBoost. I did mention so to a few fellow journos and this saw me getting the stinkeye in reply. I guess that feeling of boost pressure building up tickled my fancy more than it did the others. Now, here in July of 2020 after a week with the latest incarnation of the droptop 2.3 EcoBoost Mustang, my mind is even more set. Yeah, the burbling V8 is a winner, no argument there, but daaaaaamn the feeling of reward I personally get from driving the 4-banger is hard to beat. While the V8 GT can hit 100km/h in a quick 4.8-seconds, this here 4-banger is claimed to run the test in a respectable 5.8-seconds. If you catch a V8 Mustang driver not paying attention, the 2.3 will out-launch it and that puts the V8 on a serious back foot with more than it's work cut out to try and catch up. You also have to remember that these cars are often bought to be modified. If I gave you a 5.0 V8 GT and a budget of R50 000 for upgrades, and I spent the same R50 000 on the 2.3 EcoBoost, I'll put my money on the 4-banger every single time. It is, after all, the same powerplant found in Ford's Focus RS but it only has to power two wheels.
I was commissioned to shoot a private test and tune event over the weekend that I had the Mustang, and I must say it did feel pretty damn awesome pitching up at one of these events in such a tasty car. I got to take it up and down the strip a few times, not for measured times of course, it was just to get between the pits and the start line so I could get into position to shoot what I needed. During lunch when the track was closed I was able to take advantage and test the onboard Track Apps, in this case the drag race feature. When you enable it, the 12-inch digital instrument cluster transforms into a drag strip Christmas Tree that gives you a proper countdown launch and times your run and speed over different distances. It also tweaks the electronics to be optimum for drag racing, and so the steering firmed up, the transmission did some magick things and the car went like the clappers. In normal mode when you mash the accelerator, the Mustang pulls off with urgency and the rears scrabble for traction a little in 1st gear, but in Drag Mode the gear changes are hard and immediate resulting in the tyres chirping on shift up until 5th gear. This resulted in a smile cramp from hell, but one that I'd happily endure on a daily basis.
A few people commented on how cool Ruby (that's what I named her) looks, sounded and ran and even though it wasn't my car, it felt fukken awesome. Then some chop commented to his friend that I better not be there to race because it's ONLY the 4-cylinder. The Kempton Park in me wanted to defend Ruby's honour and hand out a PK or two, but with so many witnesses around I decided it best to ignore the insult and carry on with my day. Well, that was until it was time for me to head home. There may or may not be an Instagram story depicting a certain Lucid Red convertible 2.3 EcoBoost Mustang doing a bit of a burnout at the track's staging area before nailing it 3/4 of the way down the strip and left out of the venue.
While there's a million and one performance cars available on the market, a good many being more powerful and faster than an EcoBoost Mustang, it really doesn't matter. The feeling you get while driving around in an icon with a history spanning over half a century long is rather hard to compare to. On the performance car front, not many can say their lineage started out that long ago. Over and above the feeling you get, attention is also part of the package. In my review week there was not one single time I drove the car that I didn't get a thumbs up or a compliment on "my" car. At first I told people it was a press car, but by day 4 I just nodded a thanks in appreciation. This car is great for the self esteem. Of course there's more to the Mustang than great styling, a smooth and fast transmission and loads of power - there's so much tech and safety crammed in too.
It's the perfect daily driver, Ford's SYNC 3 is in play via the 8-inch touchscreen, so you can control everything from calls and text messaging to music and SatNav - via voice control too if you like. There's also Android Auto which I used to bang tunes from my YouTube Music app through the absolutely brilliant Bang & Olufsen 10-speaker audio system (including a woofer). It also caters perfectly to my new obsession - Audible. A 100km drive listening to Stephen King's The Gunslinger made my Sunday evening drive home from the track just perfect. I'm not gonna bore you with the extensive spec and feature list, for that you can download the Mustang brochure below this video below that shows some of the working of the instrument cluster.
The Ford Mustang is more than a car, it's an icon that somehow makes you feel like the proverbial million bucks. I didn't want to stop driving it, I used the car for the most ridiculous trips. I even made sure to "forget" things when I went on some errands just so that I could go back again. And again. I went through almost four tanks of fuel during my week with the Ponycar, making up for all the money I saved on fuel during lockdown. Does that mean it's heavy on fuel? I have absolutely no idea and I actually didn't care either, I never once looked at the consumption figures. I'm sure they're available on Ford's website or some other online review but this just isn't the kind of car where consumption makes any difference, well to me anyway. I had configured the instrument cluster to display the Sports tachometer running from the left and over the top section to the right of the cluster with the speedometer on the right below that, and I added three gauges in the centre to monitor the engine oil temp, transmission oil temp and boost pressure. There was simply nothing else I needed or wanted to see. The soft top opens up in around ten seconds, and I did manage to drive the car for about half an hour with the top down, but even with the heater blasting and the heated seats on full, July just isn't the right time to have no roof on your car, unless you're ok with frozen, well, everything. In all honesty, if I was buying a Mustang for myself, I'd likely choose the Fastback because I'd rarely have the top down - unless I lived at the coast, because this is the ultimate beach cruise car with the roof down.
While the Ford Mustang range in SA is pricey, you can't really put a tag on the way these cars make you feel. Ok, you can, but some things really are worth it. The Mustang range starts at R833 900 for the 2.3 EcoBoost Fastback and R901 600 for the droptop, while the V8 starts at R993 700 for the Fastback and R1 061 000 for the droptop. The limited edition Bullitt is also still available and that starts at R1 079 700 and is only in Fastback guise. These figures also include a 4-year/120 000km Comprehensive Warranty, a a 6-year/90 000km Service Plan (with 15 000km intervals, which covers all scheduled servicing except friction materials, i.e. brake pads and wiper blades), a 5-year/unlimited km Corrosion Warranty and a 3-year/unlimited km cover for mechanical, electrical, flat tyres, batteries, medical emergencies and towing, if needed, to the nearest Ford dealership.
Oh and a week behind the wheel confirmed something else for me - all those Mustang vids where they get tail-happy leaving events and taking out the surrounding everything, is 110% down to moronic drivers... Eedjits.
In a motoring world where the buzzword is SUV, the folk at Opel went their own way by throwing a new MPV into the mix. Luckily years of experience means the automaker knows what buyers want in a people carrier and the result, the Opel Combo Life, is really, really good. I've seen a few online chats where the Combo Life was mentioned and there were actually a few people complaining about the exterior styling of the MPV. While I agree that styling is subjective and everyone has their own taste, I'll happily point out how wrong they are. I mean come on, just look at this thing. I love how it looks with the front-end being immediately recognisable as an Opel thanks to the design that follows the rest of the company's architecture, the side profile is just right and the rear's square dimensions sort of tells you that this people carrier got it's start as a cargo hauler, and that's not a bad thing. This translates to a massive boot that also has a nice and low floor making loading of luggage, shopping or a host of kitchen appliances as easy as possible. The Opel Combo Life Enjoy won't only work as a brilliant family runaround, but could easily double as an Uber Van for a bunch of mates wanting to responsibly head out on the jol. Having the rear doors on both sides being sliding doors means loading and unloading of passengers can easily, and more importantly safely done in tight spaces or up again the pavement on any side of the road.
As said, the Opel Combo Life looks great and is instantly recognisable as the larney version thanks to the bumpers and trimmings being given body-matching paint and having all the rougher workhorse version bits being made pretty to tempt modern families. It runs on some good-looking 16-inch wheels, although if I had one of these as a daily, i'd have 17s on as a bare minimum, and 18s just to bump up the aesthetics a little to my personal taste, I'd happliy sacrifice a little drive comfort for some head-turning looks, and look good it will. The OEM makeover has worked very well though, on my drives with the car I had five people asking me what I was driving and where they could have a closer look at one. Of course I let them have a good look inside and outside of the press car (because that's pretty much the point of one) and then directed them to Williams Hunt Fourways to chat to the sales team there. I'm almost 100% sure that three of the five were quite serious about making an offer on one. On one of the days I was heading along Ontdekkers Road which has about fifty-12 traffic lights, and I noticed a woman in a Fiat Doblo taking pics of the Opel Comb Life at just about every red light, even weaving through traffic to be able to pull along side for a side shot and ahead for a front shot. Usually I'd be worried that I was driving like a chop and the pics would be for social media shaming, but I was driving like and angel, and the hoot and wave when she finally turned off the road told me she was heading back to the office to research more about the awesomeness she captured on her phone that 's in the same segment as her car, but better in every way. Either that or I have a new stalker.
The Opel Combo Life Enjoy is a 5-seater, but if you wanted to squeeze people in and safety belts weren't an issue you'd easily pack a soccer team in. There just so much space. Overseas there's a model that uses the rear boot space as two extra seats, and even in that case there's more than enough space for full-sized people in those extra seats instead of the usual amount (lack of) of space you'll find in most pop-up 7-seaters. The boot is HUGE, like you can take a family of five on holiday and easily fit all their luggage in huge. If by some chance there's not enough space for the planned load, you can individually fold the rear seats down, and when all three are folded flat you can fit in a payload of up to 690kg. That's close to the payload in a Corsa/Chev bakkie. Over and above the massive boot there's also storage space and pockets all over the cabin. I quite like the space above the front windscreen, very handy.
The driving position is great, the seats are height and reach adjustable with lumbar support, and there's so many large windows that there are no real blind spots, visibility is well above average. With the rather sporty looking steering wheel having height and reach adjustments everyone from a 6-foot plus body builder to someone who's endured lifelong teasing for being short can fit just right. Controls are all within easy reach, well those that aren't accessible via the steering controls, but mostly everything is at the tip of your thumbs. The 7-inch touchscreen heads up the infotainment system that makes use of Opel's Intellilink software, easily one of the better systems out there, easy and intuitive to use with pleasing visuals. The radio plays through a 6-speaker system that's more than capable of letting others in traffic in on your playlists. I kept my Samsung connected via the screen-mirroring functionality of Android Auto, enabling use of my YouTube Music app for tunes and Waze for navigation.
Over and above the driving position and good level of specification, there's also decent safety in play. We find no less than six airbags fitted; a pair for the front action, a pair for the front sides and a set of full-length curtains. In fact over at Euro NCAP the people carrier received four out of five stars - a 91% for adult occupant safety, 81% for child safety, 58% for vulnerable road users and 68% for the safety assist on board. That's great going. We find all the usual acronyms too like ABS with EBD, ESP, and TC along with hill-start assist. There's also child locks for the sliding rear doors so you can stop the tykes from trying to play in traffic. Check the viod below for the crash test - you'll see that the test was done on the Peugeot Rifter, which shares pretty much everything with the Opel Combo and the Citroën Berlingo - a happy side effect of the sharing of technology between the brands.
As said, the Opel Combo Life Enjoy offers up a great drive, which is in large part thanks to that really good 1.6-litre powerplant. Usually such a small capacity for an MPV like this would be an issue, but the turbodiesel 4-cylinder has more than enough power on tap. There's just 68kW in play, but thanks to that turbo the toque is way up at 230Nm and so even with a full compliment of passengers there's no struggle to get up to illegal speeds. There is only a manual option, a 5-speed with a nice and short throw, and being a low-revving diesel can mean plenty cog-swapping in traffic but that's not a complaint from this driver. I do reckon an auto option would have made the soccer mom crowd happier though. Consumption claims are an average of just 5.0-litres/100km, but the best I saw during my week was 6.8-litres/100km on the onboard telemetry. I have no doubt that it would drop had I taken more longer roads. While it's "just" and MPV, it's really a blast to drive.
I really enjoyed my week with the Opel Combo Life Enjoy, it has the looks, the spec and the features all wrapped up with a great motor. It's one of those cars that you really don't mind driving, even looking for excuses to take it out sometimes. In the burgeoning world of the SUV, this is one MPV that must not be overlooked. Especially with a starting price of R369 900 that includes a 3-year / 120 000km Warranty with Roadside Assist, a 12-year / unlimited km Anti-Corrosion Warranty and a 3-year / 60 000km Service Plan. Check out more details and spec over on the main Opel site.
Back in May Ford South Africa was yet another manufacturer to digitally launch a new model. The model in question is the Figo Freestyle, which differs from the one we already know in a couple of ways. I could start transcribing the supplied press release for you, but I reckon nothing will do it as well the launch video hosted by DJ Ankletap from YFM. Spend a few minutes watching this, and both marvel at the car and Ankletap's bilingual brilliance, he's brilliant. Almost as cool as the new car.
“The All-New Figo Freestyle builds on Ford’s reputation as one of the pioneers of the utility vehicle segment,” says Doreen Mashinini, General Manager Marketing at FMCSA. With its SUV-derived design cues, robust stance with increased ground clearance and commanding seating position, it has the credentials of an SUV in a compact package that is ideally suited to city driving during the week and escaping to the countryside on weekends. “It fulfils the growing demand from younger buyers for a vehicle that is more compact and affordable than the compact SUV offerings, but is equally capable and designed for adventurous, active and free-spirited individuals,” Mashinini adds. “With bigger wheels, an increased ride height and integrated skid plates that enhance its capabilities on less-than-perfect roads, the Figo Freestyle is designed to meet the aspirations of these young and dynamic customers. It is a cool, connected and very capable package.”
Figo Freestyle 1.5 Trend Hatch 5MT R 226 700
Figo Freestyle 1.5 Titanium Hatch 5MT R 247 500
All Figo and Figo Freestyle models come standard with Ford Protect which includes a service plan covering 4-years/60 000km, three-year unlimited distance roadside assistance and four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty. This is complemented by a 5-year/unlimited distance corrosion warranty. Service intervals are every 15 000km.
In the hard-fought compact SUV/Crossover market, there's no shortage of offerings. All the major players have a skin in the game and with competition being so good, there's not a single offering that doesn't deserve a closer look for possible buyers in the segment. Take this KIA for example, it's the latest release from the Korean automaker (and my very first KIA press car) and it's sold under the name Seltos. I don't know about you, but I reckon it sure has some great styling, this is one very good-looking compact SUV, and if it looks a little bigger than many of it's segment rivals that's because it is. Not much, but enough to make it stand out just a little more. I'd first seen a Seltos in the launch press release somewhere in April, and not again until there was one in my driveway for review. I gave it the usual walk-around, climbed in and set off on my first drive, which took me out Pretoria way. Now I don't know if it was a Baader-Meinhof phenomenon or not, but I counted seven Seltos models on my route, and two billboards advertising it. That surely bodes well for sales of the Indian-built Korean SUV here in SA.
The model I was in was the EX+ model, the midway offering in the Seltos range, which falls in above the EX and below the GT-Line. Being the middle child often means a good combination of features and spec, but this is a KIA, and so there's even ample features included in the base model to keep you happy. With the EX+ starting at R389 995 it's not cheap, but still sits below the entry VW T-Cross Highline that starts at R397 100, the entry Opel Mokka X at R400 000 and the Suzuki Vitara that has a lineup that starts way down at R293 900 for the entry model to R405 900 for the flagship seven iterations later. While these all have good spec, the KIA Seltos does look to offer the best overall package for your Rand, and that's something many people are taking close note of these days thanks to the current state of the world.
As I mentioned, I think the Seltos is great to look at and while the looks are striking and bold, I think many will agree with me. Up front we find that the styling sees the Seltos fall in line with KIA's current design architecture with the Tiger Nose grille. I'll copy in the actual description from the press release, because everyone deserves to read such eloquent penmanship... "The Seltos strikes an agile pose on any road. From the front, its wide ‘tiger nose’ grille – featuring a new interpretation of KIA’s signature design feature – is flanked by striking headlamps to endow it with a sporty, confident visage. The bold front-end treatment is bolstered by a robust shoulder line and a glasshouse that tapers towards the rear, giving the vehicle an air of understated sportiness. On higher specification models, the chrome detailing along the window line emphasizes this sweeping look towards the rear, ending in a flourish on the C-pillar that creates a ‘floating roof’ impression. Wheel arches feature black cladding to underline the crossover nature of the car. The rear bumper features a three-dimensional surface treatment with an integrated metallic-look skid plate, as well as a dual chrome muffler garnish (model dependent). In combination with the chrome-look tailgate garnish, which connects the taillights horizontally, the width of the Seltos is emphasized for a sporty yet planted stance when viewed from the rear. All models are equipped with LED Daytime Running Lights at the front, as well as front fog lamps across the range. On the higher specification models, both fog lamps, headlights and indicators are full LED, with similar treatments for the rear combination lamps." In normal speak, the KIA Seltos looks cool AF.
My review model was in Intelligency Blue and I liked it a lot, especially with the darker than normal silver 17-inch alloys and black cladding as a contrast. The ones I spotted on my drive were Intense Red, an apt name because it looks just brilliant, and also Glacier Pearl White which also totally suits the compact SUV. Other colours available include Steel Silver, Gravity Grey, Aurora Black Pearl and a special order only - Punchy Orange. As is the norm with SUVs and compact SUVs, two-tone options are a given, and so the white and red models can be had with a black roof, and the special order orange can be had with a white roof.
Under the hood of the Seltos EX+ we find the same configuration as in the entry EX, except unlike the former it's only available in automatic guise. The powerplant is a 1.6 (1591cc) 4-cylinder without extra help from any form of forced induction, and so the power on tap is rated at 90kW with torque claimed at 151kW. The engine falls under the Gamma banner and while it's powerful enough to keep a fully-loaded Seltos happily trundling along, the range-topping GT Line (not to be confused with the Peugeot range) features a more powerful turbocharged 1.4-litre lump and will no doubt feel much punchier. Some of the segment competitors also feature turbocharged engines, but mostly for a fair amount more money, besides the Suzuki Vitara which is pretty close in pricing. The Seltos isn't meant to tear up the tarmac, and so the claimed performance figures of 0- 100km/h in 11.2-seconds, and a top speed of 175km/h are more than adequate. KIA clams fuel consumption figures of 7.2-litres/100km, but the best I saw during my test week was 8.2-litres, which still isn't bad at all.
The spec level of the EX+ is good, and the leather seats are especially comfortable with a really cool pattern in them. The EX features cloth and the GT Line also has leather but with red stitching to give it a sporty feel. Cabin layout is good too, the 8-inch touchscreen does look a little upright, but it's perfectly angled toward the driver. The functionality of the infotainment system is simple and easy to use, and with it being hooked up to six speakers, it plays great. You can bang your tunes via the radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and I mean bang coz it sounds that good. The front doors also have the coolest looking door panels and speaker grilles, especially when you're looking at night and the ambient mood lighting is set. In the cabin you'll also find manual aircon, electronically adjustable folding side mirrors, steering-mounted controls, electric windows, cruise control, front and rear USB charging ports and up front there's been the addition of a centre console armrest with integrated storage box. On the safety front the KIA Seltos again holds its own. We find a body shell is produced with a high percentage of Advanced High-Strength Steel (AHSS) and so the underbody is designed to absorb and disperse impact energy, while hot stamping technology is used to reinforce the core vehicle body sections to increase torsional rigidity, decrease weight and enhance occupant safety. All Seltos models feature dual front airbags, two side airbags for the front occupants and two cabin-length side curtain airbags. There's also ISOFIX child seat anchors, ABS brakes, with EBD (Electronic Brake-Force Distribution), rear PDC and a reverse camera. The EX+ and GT Line models are also equipped with ESC (Electronic Stability Control) and HAC (Hill-start Assist Control).
In real world driving, this KIA Seltos is really cool. There's not much for me to fault on it. I love the exterior looks, the interior layout and spec and the engine and transmission. I think I may prefer the powerplant in the GT Line, purely because it has a turbocharger and because boost is fun. Interior trim materials can feel hard in places, but to me that just means it'll last past the lengthy warrantee and more. Just about every time I stopped at a station or a shopping centre, I had people asking me what I was driving and if it's released yet. Most people just stare and don't engage, especially in this world of face masks and social distancing, so that should tell you something. As mentioned, I saw load of these on the road during my test week, and I think that's something that can be summed up in this quote: “KIA is well known for offering exceptional quality and comprehensive specification across its model ranges. The all-new Seltos delivers all of that, and more,” says Gary Scott, CEO, KIA Motors South Africa. For more info, specs and pics, head on over to the dedicated KIA Seltos website.
As with all KIA models, all KIA Seltos models ship as standard with KIA’s industry-leading Unlimited Kilometre, 5-year warranty (inclusive of roadside assistance), and also include a 5-year/90 000km Service Plan.
KIA Seltos 1.6 EX Manual R 353,995
KIA Seltos 1.6 EX Automatic R 371,995
KIA Seltos 1.6 EX+ Automatic R 389,995
KIA Seltos 1.4 T-GDi GT-Line R444,995
A 1.5-litre CRDI (Common Rail Diesel Injection) engine will join the Seltos line-up in the second quarter of 2020, also available with a choice of 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. Pricing will be announced closer to the local introduction.
Hyundai's entry-level offering has done great for the brand over the years, the A-segment Atos (or Atoz, market-dependent) is one of those models often described as "bread & butter" because more get shifted than most other models and this, of course, helps pay the bills. Well, all sales pay the bills, but you know what I mean. I received the Hyundai Atos 1.1 Motion MT on test as soon as lockdown allowed for car sales and the associated online sales to happen again, and I used it to get around for some short errands and two long trips out of the area - the usual press car vibes. First off, this is my first press car from the Korean automaker, and any notions I had about the brand and their offerings came from articles and reviews from my colleagues. Most of them had mentioned that Hyundai's quality has improved in leaps and bounds over the years, and so even though this Atos Motion is an entry-level car I had high hopes.
This car retails new for R162 900, which makes it affordable for many out there thanks to being able to keep instalments under R2800 (interest rate and finance term-dependent). This price tag gets you a 4-door hatchback powered by a, 1100cc 4-cylinder (1086cc if you want to be technical) with a 5-speed manual transmission attached. Power on tap is rated the same as many in this segment - 50kW - and the torque is also quite similar at 99Nm, and in a small car that tips the scales at just 866kg it makes for a rather nippy yet frugal drive (rated at 5.9-litres/100km). The Koreans seem to trust their products more than most, evident by the healthy warranties that you get with their cars, which in this case is a 7-year/200 000km manufacturer warranty and a 1-year/15 000km service plan.
Initial thoughts (which didn't change later) is that the Atos Motion is a good looking little thing. The front grille follows Hyundai's recognisable design architecture and that's not a bad thing at all. There's some interesting lines in the body that accentuate the shape too, and combined with the variety of colours available I reckon it'll tick some boxes on most people's want list. The Atos can be had in Acid Yellow, Alpha Blue, Fiery Red, Polar White, Titan Grey or Typhoon Silver. The sales brochure mentions a high-mounted stop lamp and 14-inch wheels with styled covers as a selling point. I'll agree that the stop light may be, but the 14-inch wheels not so much. 14-inch wheels shouldn't even exist anymore, but that's just one car guy's opinion.
Approaching the Atos and getting in is a little odd, you're greeting with an odd combination of specs that sort of don't make sense. Three steps away I tried to unlock the door remotely and realised that the key was skinny because there's no remote fob built in and access to the car is old school by using an actual key in an actual lock. But this is a budget car, so of course that makes perfect sense. Once inside I was greeted with a decent interior featuring seats that are not only comfortable but that look good, devoid of LSD-inspired patterns some budget offerings have. Settling in and looking up front put me in reach of a multifunction steering wheel complete with brushed aluminium-look detailing. But I just got into a car with manual locks? Next up was to get the mirrors and controls set up for myself, and reaching up to adjust the mirrors I found a manual adjustment lever like in my 2002 Corsa, a typical feature of a budget car. Cool. Buuuut then when I turned to set up the radio, instead of finding a basic audio unit, this budget Korean has a full 7-inch touchscreen heading up an intuitive and easy to use infotainment system. Not only that, it also includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay - NOT the usual kit for an entry-level car with no remote key fob. These aren't complaints mind you, I just thought it was an odd combination of features, some you expect and some you don't. The sound system is also pretty good, better than expected, and the instrument cluster and layout of controls makes for a comfortable drive. The sound system happily pounded all my YouTube Music lists with no problems, and when I left my USB cable indoors things streamed seamlessly via Bluetooth. That 7-inch screen is also where you'll see behind the car when reversing - not a usual budget feature. Nice.
Once set up and familiar with the controls, it was go time and the Atos Motion proved itself to be a cool runaround. That 50kW sounds low, but the Atos turned out to be a nippy little thing, in fact its good fun to rev it through the gears. I think to date it's the first entry-level model that you can rev through the whole indicated rev range without a soft limiter kicking in making it feel like you tramped on the brake pedal. With some irresponsible driving (on a closed professional circuit) the Atos even manages a wee chirp of the wheels when hoofing it into third. 50kW remember. The small capacity motor runs smooth, and unlike some competitors that produce the same power from a 3-cylinder lump, the Atos features a 4-cylinder which means it's much smoother in operation and has no odd 3-cylinder idle wobble. The underpinnings are decent too, the chassis is far from sloppy and the suspension is hard and tight enough that throwing the little Korean through some twisties makes for some fun. As mentioned though, those 14-inch wheels need to get chucked in favour of at least some 15-inch hoops. Not just for aesthetics, but it'll increase both handling and safety. I'd much prefer the contact patch of a 195/50R15 tyre over anything with a 14 in it. Safety also includes ABS with EBD and dual front airbags, which is par for the budget entry course. Global NCAP wasn't too kind to the car, only awarding two stars, but if anything, SA has proven that in this segment, even zero stars isn't a detractor for buyers.
Hyundai Atos 1.1 Motion MT isn't only a great entry into a well-established Korean brand, it's a good all round car. Occupant space is good front and rear, boot space is meh, storage space is ok and the combination of features and styling means I'd expect to see loads and loads of these on the roads this year, or at least next year when we can travel more freely. Would I daily a Hyundai Atos Motion? For sure. It's a great car for first time buyers, scaling down buyers and buyers wanting to test out the Hyundai brand and service before shelling out the big bucks. For more detailed specs, head on through to the Hyundai website. One thing is certain, I'd love to get more Hyundai models to review if this is what the entry model is like....