Let me scare you quick. You know that Datsun Go that was recently introduced into the world market? Yeah, well that was in 2013. I first had one on review in 2014 and while I found it to be ok, there were safety concerns due to no airbags and driver aids, as well as a zero rating with the NCap crash testing people. People were up in arms about having a new car like that on the local market, and soon most were aware of the dismal results thanks to journos not pulling any stops in reviews. You can imagine what that did for sales of the little car used to relaunch the brand? Nothing. It did absolutely nothing. No one cared, in fact, when the car was launched a panel of experts did some of those marketing panel test study things and guess where safety was listed in the list of requirements for a budget car? I have no idea either but it wasn't even in the top three things. We're built tough here. Back then, the car was available at a starting price of just R89 000 making it attractive to many younger new car buyers. Closing in on five years later, the Datsun Go is still a budget beater with the pricing starting off at R144 500 for the Go Mid and R165 500 for the Go Lux. The price is up, but the GO has been tweaked and tucked here and there too, so it's still decent value for your money.
The bland dash is much better now, and the instrument cluster has a lot more to it now with colour and a tacho, and so looks more modern and along the lines of what you find in other budget Japanese cars. The carbon-look finish with splashes of brushed aluminium definitely raises the look and feel of the interior, along with a darker material for the seats and door panels it's actually a not a bad place to be. Of course those used to the luxury cars would hate it, but a 1st time new car buyer or a student will be more than happy with it. Changes inside include power windows all round and a 7-inch touch screen infotainment unit with both Android CarPlay and Android Auto. The sound actually plays pretty well and the Bluetooth streaming along with the hands-free telephony is great quality, well better than you expect. I'd have tried the Android Auto if it worked in SA properly, yes, it is in the Play Store, and it picks up that you're in a car but I couldn't get it to mirror my Galaxy S8 screen no matter what I did. I'm also sure the problem is either the phone or me because it doesn't work in the press car I currently have either - imma have to look into that. Seating arrangements and the boot space remains the same as the previous model. If I got my hands on one of these, I'd chuck a few grand into quality door speakers and a small boot enclosure for a small woofer - it can turn the cabin into a real happy place.
There have been some exterior changes too, the front-end sees sharper lines in the bumper, air dam and spotlight surrounds, which are home to daytime running lights to add to the improved safety. On that note, this Datsun GO features dual front airbags and also has ABS brakes in play, taking the crash rating up by two from what I understand. There are a host of accessories available from the Datsun dealerships and this one has a few things fitted like the roof racks, the rear roof spoiler, the chrome tailpiece, the chrome trim on the lip of the hatch and the 15-inch mags. All of these things do make the GO look rather good, the little hatch does have good lines. The ride height is the same as before, which is just too high. Yeah, there's the shpiel about it being to accommodate our dodgy SA roads, but my Corsa sits low on coilovers and I've never had any clearance issues. In fact, if I got my hands on one of these, I'd get it slammed with dome good aftermarket underpinnings and I'd change the wheels to some more JDM -style wheels with a meatier 195 tyre over the current 175. That teeny exhaust tip would have to go too, in fact, I'd commission a complete performance exhaust system that may not really improve performance but it will have the little 3-cylinder humming along with a decent soundtrack. The more I think about it, this little thing could look really good with a little fettling.
That aforementioned 3-cylinder produces just 50kW and 104Nm but these numbers are more than enough for the small, light car. Once you get used to the weird 3-cylinder wobble that vibrates the car, you'll see it has enough GO for most situations. One thing that's still the same is the 5-speed manual transmission. 1st and 2nd are quite close together and make for a quick pull off, but 3rd has a much longer ratio with a bit of a gap over the end of 2nd. There’s around a 2000rpm drop when you shift to third and if you happen to be on a hill haven’t taken the revs high enough you'll feel the need to drop back a gear. You get used to it though and adapt accordingly. I think a different filter and the exhaust mods I mentioned will completely eliminate the delay.
So yeah, the Datsun GO has improved in the places it counts, and it's an attractive buy with some good specials when buying them new (although pay close attention to balloons). The one I had was the R165 500 Lux trim and that's not too bad. Shopping in the same category, you can find a similarly spec'd and cheaper cars now though, which wasn't the case when it first launched. For similar or less money, you can have a Suzuki Celerio for R156 900 (even the entry Swift is at R160 900), the top spec Renault Kwid at R153 500, the Mahindra K4 at R163 999, the KIA Picanto 1.2 MT Start at R162 295, and also a Chinese offering from BAIC, the D20 1.3 Comfort at R149 990. I can only comment on the Suzuki models as I haven't driven the other brands, and spec for spec and Rand for Rand I'm not sure I could be swayed to buy the Datsun. That said, many have been sold and still continue to be if the number of them you see on the road is anything to go by. Also, for the last few years I've been a judge at one of the bigger SA shows called Germany vs Japan, and I'm yet to see a modified and done up Datsun GO there, which is quite strange considering the price you can get them at. Maybe Datsun should mess around with one and take it to shows like Suzuki does with the Swift, that would be pretty sick. If y'all need help, just shout.
When Opel announced a partnership with Groupe PSA back in 2017, I could hear enthusiast hearts breaking all over S.A. The thought of their favourite brand joining forces with a French company was akin to treason, but that's just because the Peugeot and Citroen footprint in SA is but a smidgen of what Europe has had over the years. The French conglomerate has a long history of great cars, and the merger promised the best of both worlds wrapped up into one. Well not all the time. I have reviewed the Grandland X, and I did like it. It's a good SUV that ticks all the SUV boxes, but what I failed to mention was that there's a lot of Peugeot 3008 in the Grandland X, including the powerplant and transmission and while SUVs aren't meant to be exciting, the Grandland X was missing some of the coolness that comes with Opels. With this here smaller sibling, the Opel Crossland X, that's just not the same, well to me anyway. This Opel / Peugeot amalgamation uses the right amount of each brand to create a funky little SUV /MPV with a great engine and transmission combination from the Peugeot GT Line 208 and the smaller chassis from the 2008.
There's admittedly more French than German in this setup, but that's not a bad thing as you can see from the pics. The Grandland X was sort of plain in the looks department, but the Crossland X looks and feels a lot more like the more recent Opel offerings, think the styling of the latest Corsa and the ADAM. I think it's a damn good-looking MPV with all the right curves and lines in the right places, and that now popular floating roof design just works. It's clearly related to the Grandland X, it's more like a Grandland X that's a crossfit fanatic so it's a little more trim, a little skinnier and a little lighter. Inside the cabin things just work, the driving position, the seats, the steering and dash layout, all of it. Sitting inside the Crossland X feels the same as in the Corsa, like you're in a small hatchback, which is great if you like small cars like I do.
Inside the well-optioned, range-topping Cosmo 1.2T AT model I had on test things were great, the adjustable driver's AGR-Certified ergonomic front seat is quite high, and that's a bonus for someone of my immense stature because it's one of the few cars I've driven where the sun visor actually blocks the sun. All the controls for everything are easily in reach, and of course most of everything can also be adjusted via the multifunction steering wheel. As with all new Opels, the infotainment is that easy-to-use 5.0 Intellilink system that can be had with navigation and a pretty damn decent 6-speaker audio system (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible) that covered all the stuff on my phone's playlist. All the usual acronyms are in play with regards to features, which are par for the course these days, it's the extras in the Crossland X that make me happy. The Opel Eye front camera relays driving information and sign boards to the driver via the driver information screen, and added to that there are things like wireless charging for compatible smartphones, Driver Drowsiness Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert with Automatic Emergency Braking and pedestrian detection, full LED headlights, head up display, Panoramic Rear View Camera and Side Blind Spot Alert. being an SUV / MPV, you expect better space than what you'll find in a car, and that's what you get. Even though you feel like you're in a small car, there's still 520-litres of space in the boot, and that's with the read seats still not folded down. A bit of folding sees that increase to 1225-litres.
There's just three cylinders in play in the Opel Crossland X, and it's a great little motor. I first came across one in the Citroen Cactus, and then again in the Peugeot 208 GT Line. I like it, a lot. Even though it's small with just 1.2-litres of capacity, the small turbocharger fitted affords it 81kW and 205Nm, which in turn gives some pretty decent performance, especially when you consider the size of the Crossland X. The 6-speed auto (or manual if you like) has great ratios and this does help things feel more powerful than they are, but boost does that to the butt-dyno. It's not meant to be a performance car, but that nippy feeling is always good. Pulling away from traffic lights, I was always leading the pack, and while that sounds like a fast drive, the thing really was just sipping petrol, it stayed in the low 7-litres/100km range. With more mindful driving that will drop even further though, guaranteed. While the X looks taller, it still has the road manners of a normal-height streetcar and doesn't lean when chucked around bends. All in all, the drive offered up is good, no faults anywhere. It's comfortable, visibility is good and the infotainment and climate control keep you in a happy Opel bubble.
Things are pricey these days, no matter what it is that you're Googling values of. Luckily even though this new Opel Crossland X is put together with the good bits from two serious automakers, the price is still rather palatable. The test unit was the range-topping Crossland X Cosmo 1.2T AT that, as said, is packed with intelligent tech and features. This one starts at R400 537, and if you prefer manual, the number drops to R381 993. One rung lower we find the Crossland X Enjoy 1.2T starting at R338 355. The base Crossland X 1.2 starts at R294 638, which I haven't driven but would still skip because it's missing a turbocharger.
This new Opel offering tick plenty boxes for many out there, and that will hopefully reflect in the sales here in SA. I thought this car was damn good, and was expecting it to be announced as a finalist in the current Car of the Year competition, which it sadly wasn't. I'm a fan, I think it's even replaced the Mokka as my favourite in this category. Check out every spec and detail of the Opel Crossland X over on the Opel SA website.
At the beginning of November I was included in the local launch of the all-new Suzuki Jimny, and if you know at least one fact about Chris Wall it has to be that I have an unnatural obsession with the previous model. This meant that while I've watched about fifty-twelve hours of reviews on the new Jimny, and read more reviews and articles on it than on any other car ever, I was still a little hesitant to get up close and personal with one for the simple reason of not wanting to be disappointed. Even when a few were revealed at Festival of Motoring, I had a look but didn't climb inside. At the launch, it was climb inside and drive or walk a very, very long way to our accommodation. I don't like walking.
What I do like, is the new Suzuki Jimny. In all of two minutes I was sold on one. Of course the older model is still something I'd love to own, but the new one is just better in every single way, and the Suzuki engineers have managed to reinvent the small 4x4 without losing any of the things that made the Jimny special. It's still small, the smallest true 4x4 money can buy, but it's bigger where it counts - inside - which is a strange talent Suzuki has. But before we climb inside, let's take a look at that retro as fuck exterior. I've seen people comment on the looks "stolen from the G-Wagon" or "copied from the Jeep" but in reality every part of it is taken from a previous incarnation of the Suzuki 4x4 range that started back in 1970. If anyone copied anyone, it wasn't Suzuki...
Compact 4x4s from Suzuki stay in production for a long time, pretty much subscribing to the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" way of thinking. The first compact 4x4 from Suzuki was the LJ Series that ran from 1970 – 1981, followed by the iconic SJ Series that was produced from 1981 – 1998 (my sister had a yellow one). Then there's the Jimny as we know it, which started production in 1998 and ceased just before the all-new one went into production this year. That's a 20-year run that only saw a few minor upgrades along the way to keep it a little more modern. So in essence, this range of vehicles from Suzuki started almost 50-years ago and we're only seeing the fourth generation now. As said, this new one features many hat-tips to the previous versions; up front we find the upturned front fenders, round headlights and round orange indicators that were inspired by the LJ, the side slits and the clamshell bonnet that were inspired by the SJ Series and the upright grille that's reminiscent of the last Jimny and the SJ too.
The other changes weren't purely cosmetic, Suzuki has a reasoning for all of it. The flat surfaces and thin window sills make it easy to clear off snow in colder climates, while upright A-pillars and the clamshell bonnet help increase spatial awareness and visibility, and then the longer roof and upright windscreen shields the driver from direct sunlight (height dependant - did nothing for my short ass). The new design also allows the roof to carry more weight for rooftop storage and the all-round drip rail allows easy clamping of roof racks. The angled front and rear bumpers increase the approach and departure angles, and up front the bumper design exposes more tyre tread on a horizontal plane assisting greater climbing capability in rocky conditions. Rear lights are now in the horizontal rear bumper to allow for a wider rear door, never a bad thing. These changes give new approach and departure angles too; approach is at angle of 37-degrees, up from 35-degrees, and departure is at 49-degrees, up from 46-degrees. Breakover angle is also up by one to 28-degrees. The departure angle is especially impressive and benefits from the slightly shorter body and redesigned rear bumper. The spare wheel remains on the rear door, as it should. The moulded bumpers and wheel arches help protect painted surfaces from possible scratchy things, and the design is more square than round which allows for more wheel travel and also makes changing wheels and inflating tyres easier if pressures were changed for soft sand driving. Two trims are available in SA, the GA and GLX , the latter distinguished with 15-inch alloy wheels and colour-coded door handles and mirrors.
Inside the all-new Suzuki Jimny things are pretty damn fuckin' cool! The only thing left from the outgoing version is the shiny silver S on the steering wheel. The dash features horizontal layers to let you know what angle you're scaling obstacles at, it also includes a bar for those riding shotgun to hold on to, a smart phone tray in the middle level section and a cubby hole on the lower level. The exposed door panels also feature these horizontal lines and are made from durable, weatherproof materials. The instrument cluster is just too damn cool with the speedo and tacho in their own separate square housings, just like in the old SJ model. The seats are quite similar to the old model and have lower bolsters to let you wiggle around when at weird angles and so you can lean out the window to see where the rear wheels are going if you're doing some technical 4x4 driving. The materials used are all hard wearing, as you'd expect in a vehicle that's capable of traversing the planet. The dash material has a repeating line pattern, while the lower sections have the same texture as on a DSLR camera. Yes, I compared it directly with my Canon and it's spot on. That alone is a selling point for someone like me - yuuuuussss! You'll also find some brushed aluminium and the controls can be operated easily with gloves on, Bear Grylls types will have tenty pants. The top trim GLX features a proper 7-inch infotainment unit (Suzuki’s Smartphone Linkage Display Audio - SLDA) - something Suzuki models have been sorely needing. The lower GA trim isn't really lacking either, there's also a touchscreen double-din unit in play. The GA has a manual kind of climate control, while the GLX has a fancier auto one - just a little more Sandtony for those that want creature comforts. The biggest change in the cabin of the manual versions is the second shift lever. Yup, there's no longer a few buttons to push to put the Jimny into 4H and 4L, there's an old school second lever for the job! So much of awesome!
The underpinnings of the all-new Suzuki Jimny are quite similar to what was used in the past. There's still the ladder frame chassis, but it now features an 'X' across the centre to add some structural rigidity - dubbed the Suzuki X-member. It helps limit body flex in serious cross-axle situations and creates a sturdy platform for the fitment of the body. The added torsional strength also improves the Jimny’s tramac driving dynamics and crash safety. There's extra horizontal cross members, one on each end of the car, again for added rigidity and they form the basis of the Suzuki Total Effective Control Technology (TECT) system . While stiffer, 8 new rubber mounts offer a more comfortable ride with more responsive handling. Much like the old version, there's a rigid axle suspension system that improves serious off-road capabilities; mechanically forcing one wheel down if the opposite wheel is raised and it also prevents the nose from diving under speed. To help with the handling, there's now a steering damper on the front suspension to limit steering wheel kickback and vibration on rough terrain - something owners of older Jimnys usually retrofit with aftermarket parts.
Being a Jimny fanatic, even though I've never owned one, it's hard to believe that the off road capabilities could be improved on, but Suzuki has managed to get it right. Of course it's still a 4x4, but now it features the improved ALLGRIP PRO four-wheel drive with low range transfer gear. As mentioned, the mode buttons are gone and there's a shift lever directly connected to the transfer gear that can switch between 2H and 4H at speeds of up to 100 km/h. The part that improves things is Suzuki’s proprietary Brake Limited Slip Differential and electronic stability control systems. Brake LSD is absolutely fukken awesome. It adjusts torque to the wheel with grip if another wheel on the same axle starts spinning, and there's also an extra-power mode that kicks in below 30km/h in low-range mode for the best possible traction. The demonstration on the launch saw the older Jimny fail at getting over a slippery transaxle obstacle, but the new one made it look like a pavement. New additions also include Hill Hold Control and Hill Descent Control that we managed to put to good use later on. The Jimny has an improved ground clearance measuring in at 210mm, which is 20mm more than the previous model - combined with with its short wheel base it means the lil 4x4 can go pretty much anywhere you want it to.
The local launch took place in Nelspruit and the powers that be at Suzuki managed to arrange the convoy of these cool AF boxy 4x4s to drive some pretty damn amazing trails through the Sappi forests. The cars were subjected to all the usual 4x4 stuff and every single road travelled or hectic section was easily traversed. The new hill descent control is brilliant, as long as you have the balls to let the car control things, it's not easy to lift your feet off the pedals and trust the tech, but as soon as you get the first ridiculously steep and slippery and rocky downhill out of the way you start looking for more to do it again. Of course, getting back up the hill is just as easy in the new Jimny, all you do is make sure you have a good line, point the steering, engage low range and Robert's your mother's brother - you're at the top of the hill. On some of these sections I was riding shotgun, and that grab handle across the dash becomes your best friend, especially when you're not buckled in because you're trying to get pics out the window.
It's amazing in these forests, there's waypoints to stop at for a rest that have manicured grass, shelter, tables and even a waterfall - we had lunch at one. One of the Jimnys was parked in front of the waterfall for us to take a few pics, which I duly did, there's no need to ask me twice. If I wasn't already planning ways to raise funds for a new Jimny, seeing this one parked there just made me fall in love with the thing all over again. I think that was probably the 5th time that day. This really is the coolest thing to come out of Japan since, well, the last Jimny.
So we've established that the all-new Suzuki Jimny is brilliant off road, it looks great inside and out and I'll happily bite someone in the face for one. Of course, a car meant for off road conditions usually doesn't have matching road manners. The last Jimny was ok on the tar, not amazing, but there was nothing to put me off owning one. Heck, we even drove one to Cape Town last year and had no issues with uphills and overtaking, the only drawback was the thirst. In the new Jimny we find a slightly different powerplant. Gone is the old 1300cc M13A and a new-generation 1500cc K15B is now in play. The extra 200cc of capacity means power is up to 75kW and torque is at 130Nm, small numbers but they most certainly feel bigger when you're piloting the little 4x4. The new lump has a higher compression ratio making it more responsive and also better when it comes to fuel consumption. We see claims of 6.3-litres/100km on the manual and 6.8 for the auto, down from 7.2 and 7.8 in the older one. All this equates to a much-improved on-road experience, there is no reason a new Jimny can't be your daily drive, even if you have to do some serious sales rep kinda mileage. It feels better on the road in every way possible. The manual feels nippier than the auto, and the new auto feels nipper than the old auto, which is must be said is as slow as a snail at another snail's funeral.
I'd be happy with any of the three model available, and in any colour too. The base spec GA is only available in manual, and the list of features includes aircon, power steering, an immobiliser, ABS, BAS and ISOFIX thingies, dual airbags, ESP (not the future-telling kind), brake LSD, hill descent and hold control, and that amazing ALLGRIP PRO 4WD system with low range. The cabin on the launch unit saw fitment of a decent double DIN head unit with a pair of OK speakers, it's not a standard feature but your local, friendly Suzuki dealership will be able to hook you up I'm sure. This one also rolls on 15-inch steel wheels (with full-size spare) and usually steelies would be horrid little things, but on the Jimny they're cool AF. The base model is the one to go for if you're planning overland trips because you don't really need any of the bells and whistles. Of course for when you do prefer the finer things in life, the GLX trim is the one to have. Over and above the GA spec, this one see extras like colour-coded door handles mirrors, electric windows and mirrors, automatic climate control, remote central locking, auto LED projector headlamps that are the coolest things EVAR, front fogs, cruise control, an SLDA touch screen infotainment system, a multi-function leather steering wheel, an extra 12V socket in the boot, a 50/50 split folding rear seat, a luggage area box and 15-inch alloy wheels.
Being the funkiest little thing to hit the streets in forever, the all-new Suzuki Jimny has been given some new paint shades to make it stand out. What that means in the real world is that these chaps at Suzuki have made it a complete fukken mission to choose a favourite. On the launch I'd see one colour and be like "Yes, that's the one I'd take!" but five minutes later I'd see another one and think the exact same thing. There's a choice of three dual-tone and five single-tone colours available, and added to that there will be a host of cool sticker kits for further customisation. The high-visibility Kinetic Yellow, is an instant favourite for most people, I guess because people want to stand out from the masses, but it's actually intended for rescue crews so they can be seen when rescuing things. Then you get Brisk Blue Metallic and Chiffon Ivory Metallic, all of which have a gloss black roof. The ivory one looks great, but the blue one looks better. I think. Or not. With the single tone colours you can choose from Jungle Green, Bluish Black Pearl, Medium Grey, Silky Silver Metallic and White. The green and ivory ones are the best if you're actually going to use the Jimny to get around in the wild, these colours won't scare the wildlife as much as the rest. Although I guess if you do cock up properly then the chaps in the Kinetic Yellow Jimnys will have a hard time finding you.
As you can tell I'm a fan, like a fanatical fan, but then you knew I would be. The thing is, you don't need to take my obviously biased word for it, just check out all the reviews from my fellow motoring scribes, both locally and internationally. It's no wonder Suzuki only releases a new Jimny every 20 years - the things are instant cult cars wanted by the masses. If you want one now in SA, be prepared to wait for a while as the initial shipment has already been sold. I'm betting the next one too, hell, there's even people selling their spots on the waiting lists to those who have a want level as high as mine! I'm willing to sell my body for one, so if you know anyone interested in a medium mileage, 5ft-summin dad bod with at least 17 tattoos scattered around it and the ability to run damn fast (in a left circle only), let me know...
Well done Suzuki, well bloody done!
So how much does one of these new Suzuki Jimny models cost? Quite honestly, who cares? You can't put a price on awesome. I guess you need to though because they're not gonna be handing them out for free.
Jimny 1.5i GA MT R264 900
Jimny 1.5i GLX MT R299 900
Jimny 1.5i GLX AT R319 900
The GLX comes with a 4-year / 60 000km service plan while the GA comes with a 2-year / 30 000km service plan. All models are sold with a 5 year / 200 000 km mechanical warranty which you'll probably never use - because Suzuki.
The launch of the latest incarnation of the Opel Astra was back in May of 2016 and I was lucky enough to have cracked an invite. This was my first introduction to the car and it quickly became a favourite thanks to the total package it offered; a very good looking new body style, an abundance of new technologies and a cracking lineup of powerplants and transmissions. The daddy of the range is the Astra 1.6T Sport Plus MT, and I recently had one for a week to get reacquainted with it, and I can happily report that even though the model is a couple of years old now, it still offers more than enough to compete in the hatchback segment. In the circles I run in, people are all about power and speed and racing, and when they find out that the range-topper model is "just" a 1600cc and that there's no OPC version available, they lose interest. The thing is, this Opel Astra holds its own in every category that cars are judged in. The styling rocks, the on board tech is brilliant, the interior is as premium as it gets and yeah, the power comes from a small capacity engine but it most certainly punches above its weight.
So yeah, 1600cc isn't the norm for the big dog of the brand, but this engine is just brilliant, and of course there's boost so that makes everything better. The responsive and efficient powerplant is rated at a very healthy 147kW with torque up at 280Nm ( overboost takes it to 300Nm) and this power is enough to propel the German hatchback to the 100km/h mark in 7-seconds and runs on to a top speed of 235km/h on top. The car is fast, but the way the power is delivered makes it feel even faster, and that's not a bad thing. The torque reaches a max at just 1700rpm and with some really good, close ratios in the 6-speed manual transmission the car has you questioning why people want an OPC version. Ok sure, if there was an OPC, it would have my vote, but this one is more than enough to keep enthusiasts happy. It's pretty good on fuel too, claimed to use just 6.1 litres/100km, but that feeling of boost and the fun acceleration saw my week averaging around 8.2-litres, which still ain't bad. This really is one of my favourite engines though, I keep imagining finding a written off one and transplanting the power making goodies into my Corsa - yuuuuussss!
Inside this Astra things are very good, high-bolstered and heated leather seats, a heated steering wheel, a great dash and instrument layout kick things off. Of course there's also Opel's IntelliLink infotainment system that remains one of my favourites to use. I had my USB plugged in as well as my phone connected for streaming and the hands-free function, and the standard sound system was happy to bang out everything I chucked at it, from the latest Eminem to some older Rammstein. One day we'll get Android Auto in SA and then connectivity will be even better, but iPhone users have iPlay available in the Astra and I hate them for that. As said, this thing is tech-packed, and features include the Opel Eye front camera which monitors the IntelliLux LED Matrix System and leads on to features like TSA (Traffic Sign Assistance), LDW (Lane Departure Warning), LKA (Lane Keep Assist), FDI (Following Distance Indication), FCA (Forward Collision Alert) and LSCMB (Low Speed Collision Mitigation Braking). As I did before, I'll let the press release explain the lighting, just know that all cars should have this.
IntelliLux LED Matrix Lighting
"The IntelliLux LED Matrix system consists of 8 LED light sections per headlight, which can be individually activated and in total, constitute the high beam light distribution. These are controlled via the Opel Eye front camera, which registers the preceding and on-coming traffic, as well as recognising ambient light, for example street lighting in urban areas. Driving data, such as steering angle, speed and turn indicator activation, are also added to this input. From this information the system calculates in real time which LED segments must be deactivated in order not to dazzle other road users. Because every LED segment only lights a small section of the road, any area can be darkened dynamically, following precisely the position of the detected vehicle. The area around the darkened section remains optimally lit. The benefit of the system is that there is optimal illumination of the road in every situation, while the headlights stay on high beam around the darkened section. The IntelliLux LED Matrix system also offers other automatically activated functions:
Urban light – Whenever street lighting is recognised, at under 55km/h the system switches to an optimal town headlight setting (similar to dipped beam).
Highway Light – Through specific data analysis the system recognises when the car is underway on a multi-lane highway. From 105km/h the light distribution on the left lane is reduced to exclude glaring, also when the lanes are separated by guardrails.
Country light – From 55km/h the light performance is increased.
Static Curve/Cornering Light – In response to steering wheel activation and other vehicle data, curves are illuminated at speeds between 0 and 70km/h.
Energy Saving Mode – When fitted with the Start/Stop System, IntelliLux LED Matrix system automatically goes into energy-saving mode when the vehicle is standing still.
Parking Light – Selecting reverse activates both side-orientated reflectors and the reversing lights to light the area beside and behind the car."
The Opel Astra Sport is really, really good. It's often overlooked in favour of the more performance-orientated hot hatches but it really warrants a closer look. Head over to the Opel SA website for all the details, there's a lot to take in. There's nothing it doesn't offer, every system and feature that someone could possibly want is part of the deal and it's wrapped up in a good looking body with a quality interior. Also, as far as pricing goes, this offers up a huge package (heh heh heh...) for relatively low money. The Opel Astra Sport MT is available from R458 007 and it comes with a 5-year/120 000km Warranty & Roadside Assistance; 5-year/Unlimited Kilometer Anti-Corrosion Warranty and a 5-year/90 000km Service Plan. I want someone to buy one and get it sorted out like the usual cars I see at events. One of these with a downpipe, proper exhaust, and intake and a lil software will be mad, mad fun! Of course, that's only for ballers who don't need a warranty.
In this case, being the same is not a bad thing. The Swift has long been Suzuki's bread and butter model with healthy sales in the affordable compact car segment around the world, and so when a new model was launched it had to be all-new, but it also had to be the same too. If the familiar feel of the outgoing model wasn't felt in the new model, you can be sure buyers would start to look elsewhere. Luckily while there's been some physical weight saving and new manufacturing processes in play to keep weight down, the small hatchback still feels as solid as ever, it's magic really. To take advantage of the low weight, there's an all-new normally aspirated 1200cc engine mated to a 5-speed manual (or 5-speed AMT) transmission and the combination makes brilliant use of the 61kW and 113Nm, much more so than the numbers suggest. Of course, this is all wrapped up in a good-looking little body too. I'll admit when I first saw it I wasn't too keen on the new design, but that's mainly thanks to how much I like the previous model. It did start to grow on me, and then when I saw the bagged one on the Suzuki stand at Festival of Motoring I was sold.
It makes sense that a new car would have a new inside, and the first criteria of it needing to feel familiar is there. The materials used manage to not look cheap and have a good tactile feel to them, something you don't often find in a budget car. The gauge cluster looks more modern and features a driver information screen in between the speed and tacho. The dash layout is similar to old, but the entertainment section angles more to the driver. Said infotainment is sadly limited to a basic radio but it does have Bluetooth streaming and heads-free telephony. Once connected to my phone I never gave it a second thought anyway, and for on-the-drive calls operation is smooth and easy and the quality is brilliant. The standard speakers are ok, but after a week with the car, I'd like to put some aftermarket bits in that will make things just that bit better. All trims Swift feature air conditioning, front and rear electric windows, power steering and remote central locking. GL-trim gets a better audio system with the aforementioned Bluetooth-connectivity, a USB socket and electronically adjustable wing mirrors. There's also a fair amount of storage space scattered around the cabin as is the norm for a Suzuki.
A review week is way different to a launch, you get to know what a car is like to live with and you get to know it's characteristics a little more. The steering feedback is as initially reported, pretty good, as is the roadholding. I would prefer wider tyres because in my head a minimum contact patch should be at least 195 in width on at least a 15-inch wheel . That said, anyone buying one would easily be able to get the dealership to include a set of aftermarket wheels in the finance if buyers think like I do. The space is good, a little up from the last model, and with a full family in the car there was enough space to be comfortable and the little motor managed great, even at our power-sapping altitude. I managed to fold the seats and fit my bike in that I use at events. The all-new Suzuki Swift is also rather frugal when it comes to fuel consumption, a real selling point in SA these days. It's rated at 4.9-litres/100km and on the launch it returned 5.1, but on the test week the best figure I saw on the info screen was 4.3-litres/100km - that's like running on freaking fumes.
Overall, the all-new Suzuki Swift is a great little car, as fellow motoring scribe Martin Pretorius describes Suzuki products: "good, honest cars" and I agree 100%. The new version is sure to keep up and improve upon the sales the nameplate has had to date, buttering Suzuki's bread nice and thick. If you're after a good car and you're on a limited budget, downsizing to save a bob or two, or buying your kid a first car, you really should take one for a test drive. I'd happily have one as a daily runner, but of course I'd make it look a lot more like the bagged one mentioned earlier. I hope I'll be seeing more youngsters out there as the events I cover in Suzukis instead of all the usual choices. Oh, and of course to make it even more worth your money, Suzuki SA also sweetens the deal by offering a 5yr / 200 000km promotional warranty with the new Swift. For more details, you can check out info from my launch impressions, or head on over to the Suzuki SA website.
1.2i GA MT SW14 R160 900
1.2i GL MT SW15 R177 900
1.2i GL AMT SW16 R191,900
Price includes 5yr / 200 000km promotional warranty
Retail price includes a 2 yr / 30 000km service plan
Ok, ok, I know, that was one cheesy title but I really couldn't help myself. I'm not even sure that a kei car can have a boot, but if they did, then this would be one. This right here is the all-new Suzuki Dzire, and it's now an entity all of its own. Before you'd hear people describe these as a "Swift with a boot", which was accurate because it's pretty much what it was, but now the Dzire badge identifies a whole new model range in the Suzuki household. Well the badge as well as some other exterior details as well as a different dashboard that has notable differences to the Swift. Up front the nose of the Dzire features a split bumper with a clearly divided upper and lower airdam, whereas on the Swift it's one larger airdam with a split lower down making it look like a smile. There's also chrome trim surrounding the grille and on the pronounced angles below the fog lights. On the Swift, Suzuki have given it a floating roof design thanks to blacked-out A and B-pillars with a section in the top of the C-pillar, all of which isn't seen on the Dzire which keeps it looking a little more upmarket. Before you could fit a Swift window in the sedan version, but with a different angle on the A-pillars for a more aggressive rake and a better drag coefficient (18% better) means parts can't be swapped across anymore. Not a bad thing in any way. Oh, and the wheels are also different on both cars...
As I said, the interior is also different and so you now find silver accents throughout the dashboard and air vents (that mimic the design of the front grille). There's a new instrument cluster, that features a clearly readable multi-information display showing distance, power, fuel consumption. When you bump up a level to the GL-spec model there's the addition of a rev gauge, more silver bits and premium white illumination that looks rather good. Specs are quite Swift-like of course, and so the all-new Suzuki Dzire models come equipped with aircon, electric windows all round, driver and passenger airbags, a tilt-adjustable steering column, a security alarm and immobiliser and ISOFIX anchor points for rear-fitted child seats. As expected, the more expensive (but not by much) GL-spec sees the addition of rear air vents, an additional 12V socket, a Suzuki audio system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, front fog lamps, colour-coded, electrically adjustable side mirrors, steering-mounted audio controls and a high-grade upholstery with rear foldable armrest with integrated cup holders.
The Dzire is built on Suzuki’s new HEARTECT platform which not only increases the safety levels thanks to being more rigid with a lower weight, it's features a longer wheelbase which equates into more cabin space. In cars at this price range the rear occupants usually have a little bit of a squash, but in the Dzire Suzuki has increased the space between the front and rear seats by a massive 55mm, the same goes for shoulder width that's up by 15mm (there's 10mm more up front). Boot space is also at an increase with 378-litres available, a rather impressive 78-litres more (26% ). In my week with the car, I used the space properly, actually surprisingly so. I did a few trips with the family in the car and one kid sat behind the driver's seat and he event commented that the space is decent, and he's 6ft.2. Ok, that was behind my massive 5ft.7 frame, but it counts. The monthly shopping for a family of 4 didn't even manage to fill the boot, I could easily have packed in at least one more full-sized Chelsy. What's also worth a note is that with the Suzuki Dzire fully loaded up, the small capacity motor manages without breaking a sweat, even pulling off on a steep uphill works ok.
I said it's small capacity and it is, the new Dzire is fitted with the K12M engine, and this one is shared with the all-new Swift too. The small 1.2-litre lump has a high compression ratio which makes it quite responsive, and also equates to decent fuel consumption. The new lump produces just 61kW with 113Nm that's directed to the front wheels via either a 5-speed manual or an AMT transmission. I had the manual version on my test week and a got a couple of hundred kilometers done in and around Jo'burg and the HIGHEST the fuel consumption showed was 5.6-litres/100km. That's just mad! Taking note of the reading and driving very nicely to get it lower, I saw it hit just 4.3-litres/100km, and I know for a fact it can go lower. With our government friends pushing the fuel price up like a thermometer on a hot summer's day, that's one serious selling point.
The Dzire drives great, the steering is light, but firm enough on the highway for a comfortable drive. The car does sit high to cope with local road conditions, but even so, it's quite planted on the tarmac and feels like a bigger, heavier car, not like the 890kg it actually tips the scales at. With the VW Polo sedan being off the table as a an entry-level sedan, the market opens up for this Dzire to do well. I did drive new Honda Amaze the other day at the local launch, and I think it would be the only real competition to the Swift in this segment, and I stick by that. Of course, given the choice you know I'm Team Suzuki all the way. If you're downsizing, or if you're after an affordable family car, then you'll be doing yourself a disservice to not take one of these for a test drive. This little sedan has you covered in every way, and will see you travelling in comfort and safety and still have your bank balance in the black.
The Suzuki Dzire 1.2 GA manual kicks off at only R161 900.00 and can be had in Oxford Blue Pearl Metallic, Sherwood Brown Pearl Metallic, Gallant Red Pearl Metallic, Arctic White Pearl, Silky Silver Metallic, Magma Grey Metallic or Midnight Black Metallic. They're all sold with Suzuki’s acclaimed 5-year/200 000km mechanical warranty and a 2-year/30 000km service plan.
For more, head on over to the Suzuki SA website.
Hatchbacks are my thang, I've always loved them, I much prefer the shapes available out there compared to sedans (even though I own a sedan now, but that's another story). You do of course, get some that are better than others, and in some situations you'll find a car that's really, really good but it gets overlooked in favour of the usual options out there. Take this Opel Corsa Sport for example. This thing is a cracker of a car, but at all the aftermarket events I attend, I'm yet to see one that's been given the usual treatment of wheels, a slam and some engine fiddlings, and I cannot figure out why? Yeah, I know most people in the scene opt for VW products thanks to the huge availability of parts, spares and tuning options, but there's just as much potential with this rival German hatch.
The Opel Corsa Sport actually arrived in SA in a while back, to differentiate the model from the rest of the range, the Sport can be had with an OPC Line kit made up of front and rear bumper extensions, side rocker mouldings, and carbon fibre mirror covers. There's a meaner looking exhaust tip too, but the 17-inch dark titanium wheels are what make me smile. The exterior looks are good, the Corsa Sport certainly holds its own against the rest of the cars in this segment. To give buyers a better sense of individuality, the little hatchback can be had in a choice of 15 exterior colours of which five are flat and ten are metallic.
Inside the cabin of the Opel Corsa Sport things are pretty damn good too. There's a chunky leather-bound multifunction steering wheel with that sporty (I have no idea why it makes it sporty, it just does) flat bottom. Interior trim matches too, with a black leather gear gaitor, some Piano black finishings, sport-like alloy pedals and a handbrake lever and gear knob from the Corsa OPC parts bin. Moonray Sports seats are in play and they're great too; high bolsters to keep you in place during hard cornering and they have a cool crosshatch pattern - they're not officially available in leather, but if you buy from the right dealership, it can usually be added for an extra fee. As with all new Ooepls there,s that really good and easy to use Intellilink infotainment headed up by 7-inch touchscreen. On the driver aid and safety front you'll find all the usual acronyms in play like ABS, BAS, PDC, ESC, TC and SLS. Convenience features also include auto lighting, auto wipers, cruise control, cornering lamps and also Advanced Parking Assist 2 that will scan a row of cars and identify one that the car will fit it and it will then park for you. It's not perfect though, there are a few thing smissing that I'd like to have in a Sports model, like the ability to turn the traction control off, along with the ESC so that track days can be more in the control of the driver than the car. I'm sure there will be aftermarket workaround by now though. Also, on this white model I just had, on the driver information screen in the speedo cluster there was no readout of the average or the live fuel consumption. This isn't a make or break feature, but I do like to know what my dead dinosaur to distance ratio is. Oddly, the last time I had one of these on test, it did have the necessary screen and was constantly in the mid 9s, a little higher than the claimed 7.4-litres/100km - but boooooost!
With a Sport badge on the car, it would need to have some decent power on tap, and while the car does only feature a 1400cc lump, said lump is turbocharged and so produces a rather healthy 110kW with 220Nm of torque. That's Mk4 GTi power in a car half the size. This power can get the Corsa Sport from 0-100km/h in 9.6-seconds, which isn't bad at all, but I can put my wotsits on a block and bet that if you could disable that TC, the time would drop a bit. This small capacity motor is paired up with a brilliant 6-speed manual transmission that's great fun to flip through the gears. Foot flat through the gears until there's no more left and you'll find yourself 4km/h past the 200 mark. The chassis and suspension are up to the task too, you can chuck this little thing around like the proverbial red-headed stepchild and it will stick to the tarmac rather well. Lift-off oversteer is possible and you can still maintain control, although this is not really recommended for Jo'burg streets. At least, not when there are any witnesses.
There really is no reason that more of these aren't out there, the overall package ticks so many of the blocks that determine what a cool, fun and quick hatchback should be. It kicks off at R297 995 and that includes a 5-year / 120 000km warranty & roadside assistance, a 5-year unlimited anti-corrosion warranty and a 3-year / 60 000km service plan.
Opel Corsa Sport Spec Sheet
Entry-level cars do get overlooked by most automotive fans because life is all about horsepower and speed, but without these cars most manufacturers would fail in the market. These cars are known as the 'bread & butter" models, which basically means they will sell in such large numbers that they help keep the brand running and making all the other high horsepower, low volume models possible. Luckily these days cars in this segment are actually damn good now with features and technologies that used to only be available in more expensive models. As an entry into the Honda brand, a new offering is the Honda Amaze, a budget car in price only.
The all-new Amaze replaces the current Brio range, and it is definitely an upgrade in terms of of the bits that make people want a car. It looks a little different thanks to a very flat front end, presumably for that whole pedestrian safety thing, and while it's not repulsive, it'll take some getting used to. The design does make the car look more like a smaller Ballade though. The Amaze is just 5mm longer and 15mm wider but has a 65mm longer wheelbase which allows for better manipulation of the cabin space. There's a lot of chrome trimming for that upmarket look, but I'm not a fan of chrome so I kept imagining the car with the chrome bits in a brushed ally look or satin black or even better, piano black - but that's just me. The wheels chosen for the Honda Amaze are pretty decent, I'd love a set for the wife's Jazz - they're 15-inch hoops with a great design. The ride height looks a little too high for the boxy nose, but again, this won't bug most people and will probably be better out there considering the state of many roads.
The interior is much improved, a better dashboard design and layout is in play, and the finish is more upmarket, a selling point in this class. There's also piano black detailing seen, which as I said, would be great on the exterior chrome trim too. The speedo cluster looks good and includes a driver information screen, and with a multifunction steering wheel most things can be safely controlled on the fly. The entertainment system is basic, you have radio, AUX, Bluetooth and streaming capabilities which also means there's hands-free telephony. There's enough storage space to have a spot for all your stuff, and with no need to hide your weed anymore, you'll make good use of them. The rear gets cup holders too. Seats are cloth, but there's a free upgrade on all new Honda Amaze models where pleather fitted seat covers can be had for free. When you hear covers, you picture that flea market stuff, but they're fitted so well that they look like factory seats, it's actually rather impressive. There is one thing inside that bugs me, and it's a small thing but I'd change it ASAP if I were to own an Amaze. The rear parcel shelf is covered in beige, and while it looks ok and matches the rest of the interior, when you're looking out the rear view mirror on a sunny day you see nothing but reflection of the parcel shelf in the window. Not a fan.
Powering the all-new Honda Amaze is a 1.2-litre 4-cylinder with the usual i-VTEC system in play to help with the power delivery and to keep the fuel consumption low - very low in fact. There's just 66kW on tap with 110Nm, and while that's not a figure to brag about down the pub, the Amaze tips the scales at just 900kg. This does mean there's 73kW per ton though, so it makes the little sedan feel pretty nippy. Of course clever ratios in the 5-speed manual transmission do help with this. Even the CVT transmission exploits the power properly - but that's because Honda is the ONLY manufacturer that knows how to make a CVT gearbox that doesn't make you want to commit sewerage pipe and jump off the coffee table. Manual will take the amaze to 100km/h in 12.3-seconds and 13.5-seconds in the auto - both versions top out at 160km/h. Honda claim 5.6-litres/100km for the Amaze, but on the launch with launch driving, it was on 5.4 for most of the drive. If you drive consciously and hyper mile the thing, it'll likely stick in the high 4s. With the way the petrol price is rising these days, the fuel consumption is a definite selling point.
While it's an entry-level car, it drives great. The road noise and wind noise are way lower than expected, and the roadholding and handling are also more solid than you'd think. Overall it's a great little runner that won't break the bank, will keep you up to date with the Jonses and will see you ferrying the family around in a reliable, safe car. The car will do well in the segment, I think buyers looking at this kind of car will have a tough choice deciding between this and the new Suzuki Dzire. It will likely come down to the marketing, and Honda have roped in local rapper JR to help promote the Amaze which is pretty cool and may be able to sway the brand loyal.
There are two trims available, the Trend and the Comfort, and the CVT is only offered on the latter. The base 1.2 Trend starts off at R179 900, the 1.2 Trend Comfort comes in at R193 900 and the 1.2 Trend Comfort CVT is at R208 900. The range is comes with 5-year/200 000km warranty, a 2-year/30 000km service plan, and a 3-year AA Roadside Assistance package. For more info, head on over to the Honda SA website.
Check out the new Honda Amaze advert with JR
First off, I know you've noticed that these images aren't what you usually see in my reviews, I had to go with the press stuff because I'm currently between cameras. I can, of course, still tell you all about the new Opel Grandland X, the latest SUV to hit our shores from the German automaker. It's been seen overseas for a while now, and in the hotly contested SUV market, it's a good seller with a good reputation and a bunch of awards to its name. While there are underpinnings shared with Peugeot, it's received enough changes to not be just a rebadged french SUV, Opel have given it a typically Opel identity and it now shares the same design cues as the rest of the range. A good thing if you're an Opel fan. The Grandland X SUV is of the mid-sized variety, a bigger brother to the Crossland X and also a step above the Mokkas. The looks are pretty good, although if you want to stand out and be noticed, this isn't that kind of SUV. It does look a lot more striking when it's in the right colour though.
Inside the fit and finish is good, the tactile feel of all the buttons and switches is good, nothing feels cheap and plastic. The steering controls will see you being able to control most functions needed for a hassle-free drive, no real need to reach over to the Intellilink infotainment system to fiddle around. Intellilink is still one of the easiest and most intuitive to use out there, it's always a good selling point for the brand. Said system is headed up by an 8-inch touch screen that's able to connect to various devices to stream media via Android Auto or Apple Carplay and the like, it's also (in the Enjoy trim I had) the screen for the navigation. One feature I quite like is the ability to tailor the ambient lighting in the cabin to your mood. The layout of the cabin is good, and the seats and steering wheel can be adjusted to get a comfortable driving position that allows easy reach of whatever controls and buttons need to be, well, reached. There's a rather thick A-pillar and also a thick C-pillar, and this made me feel like I couldn't see enough around the car, my spacial awareness wasn't happy, but I can attribute this to my statuesque 5ft7 frame because I've noticed it before in cars where taller people were happier than myself.
Powering the Opel Grandland X is a turbocharged 1.6 4-cylinder with 121kW and 240Nm of torque available, and it's enough to get the SUV up to a decent gallop. While it is a good motor, it's a Peugeot lump and while that's not really any kind of disadvantage, I do prefer the Opel-only engines. They feel like they have a little more urgency when you hoof it. This motor is mated to a 6-speed auto transmission and this is also pretty smooth in it's operation. I never found it hunting for the right gear and it seems to have decent software on it to keep the Grandland X in the right gear for the right occasion. Don't expect lighting fast changes, but then again in a family SUV that's not something that would dissuade you from putting in an offer to purchase. The setup is claimed to use a decent 7.0-litres per 100km on the daily commute, but in my few hundred kilometres behind the wheel with my usual driving style, the lowest I managed to spot on the driver information screen was 10.3.
As with all new Opel models, there's plenty tech packed in when it comes to safety systems and driver aids. Trim dependant, you'll find things like lane departure warning, side blind spot alert, a 360-deg camera, Bluetooth, voice recognition, advanced park assist that parks the car for you, hands-free intelligent liftgate, and of course dual zone climate control and heated seats.
The new Opel Grandland X is a good offering, perfect for a family on the move, it looks good, it's stylish and and it has space for days. All manner of luggage, even for a family holiday, should easily fit in the 514-litres behind the rear seats (expandable to over 1650-litres if you leave the family on the curb and fold down the rear seats). There's plenty storage space for everyday carry items and little goodies here and there. The centre console between the seats has space for two cups, but they need to be skinny, two medium McD's McFizz cups don't fit side-by-side.
My week spent in the Opel Grandland X was pleasant enough. The car runs well, handles well and does all the duties expected of it with no problems at all. As said, it's not exciting by any means, but you don't really want any excitement when you're karting the little ones to their horse riding lessons though. I'd be hard-pressed to choose between this and a Mokka if I wanted an SUV from Opel, but I don't need quite as much space as the Grandland X offers up. If you're in the market for a C-segment SUV, it's a good idea to get to your nearest dealership or book online on the Opel website so you can get in one. There are three models in the Grandland X lineup and they all use the same engine/transmission combination, the 1.6T A/T Essentia from R 429,000, the 1.6T A/T Enjoy from R465,000 and the range-topping 1.6T A/T Cosmo from R565,000.
If you claim to be a fan of motorsport and you don't immediately break out with a wave of goosebumps at the mention of Grave Digger or Bigfoot while imagining over-the-top, big-wheeled trucks crushing cars and launching across a stadium, then I'm afraid your Man Card is now invalid.
Why am I telling you this? Because Monster Jam is coming to SA! Yeah, that's right, the biggest, loudest and most action-packed arena motorsport event will be in SA for three insane shows. The events kick off in Durban on the 20 April at Moses Mabida Stadium, followed by Cape Town on the 27 April at the Cape Town Stadium and then lastly, the madness descends on Jo'burg on 4 may at FNB Stadium. As a kid I used to imagine being at a monster truck event, it's actually one of my motorsport bucket list items, so when I heard about Monster Jam heading to our shores I was sure it was just a rumour, but thanks to US-based Feld Entertainment (the guys who have brought Disney on Ice to SA for the last 5 years) and local promoter Showtime Management (in association with SuperSport and a host of local radio stations) it will be here in a little over 6 month's time.
What is Monster Jam?
THIS IS MONSTER JAM!
While Monster Jam events are packed with insane action and are supported by some of the most popular lifestyle brands in the world, a major selling point is that it's still very family orientated and will make for an amazing day out. We've seen similar high profile events here in the past few years like Gymkhana GRiD, Nitro Circus and Top Gear Live, and they drew serious crowds. I think Monster Jam will be just as good too because it's actually very well priced, so there's no need to start a diet of 2-minute noodles and Salticrax, or to ship the kids off to grandma's house for the day to save up some going out money. To make things even more exciting, attendees have the opportunity to meet the drivers and see the monster trucks up close at the Pit Party - not to be confused with a Pity Party, which is what everyone who misses out on a ticket will be having. In every city, prior to the Monster Jam performances, a pre-event Pit Party is held at the stadiums and arenas, which is something that separates this event from the others. No other live entertainment franchise provides such intimate access. The only catch here is that a combined event and Pit Party ticket must be purchased to gain access, but it's a mere R150 extra, basically the equivalent of a litre of petrol these days.
These Monster Trucks have an apt name because they're around four metres tall and four metres wide and can weigh up to 4,500kg. With the way they seem to defy gravity, you just know there's herds of angry horses somewhere in the setup. Most churn out in excess of 1500hp thanks to seriously worked supercharged V8 lumps, which is pretty much a must-have when the tyres are 1.7m tall. In the confines of a stadium these Monster Jam trucks can reach up to 110km/h, enough to launch them as high as 9 metres and as far as 36 meters, or 14 side-by-side cars! Some of the trucks have been around for many years and so some of the names should do a bit of a Quasimodo; like El Toro Loco, D-Max and of course GRAVE DIGGER!
While there are always new trucks entering the fracas, one of the most famous is Dennis Anderson's Grave Digger, probably because the first incarnation of it appeared way back in 1982. It was first created as a mud bogger, but by 1986 had transformed into the iconic monster truck that's been crushing cars and wrecking competitors since. At the time Bigfoot was the most well-known of these monsters, but Grave Digger soon amassed it's own cult following, and things just got better after defeating Bigfoot in a widely televised event in 1987. I had a little Hot Wheels Grave Digger toy from when it used to run in the full black livery, it was well-used to the point that most of the paint had chipped off and the left rear wheel went missing after squishing my sister's Barbie dolls in an EPIC front garden flower bed monster truck event, hosted by my G.I Joes. Over the years Grave Digger evolved of course, seeing a new one introduced in 1989 as Grave Digger 2, and then 1991 saw Grave Digger 3 appear. More followed, up to 12 versions hired out to be driven by other drivers. Anderson retired in 2017, but the Digger lives on AND IT'S ON THE LIST OF TRUCKS COMING TO SA!
Check out this clip from when I was 12 years old in 1991, back then things were way more dangerous because the trucks still used metal bodies and had no tearaway parts like they do now. When I was a kid seeing these trucks in action on TV was super rare, I was limited to watching major wipeouts on the Havoc series of VHS tapes, or in gap fillers between sports shows on TV4. Ahhh, bless the interwebz!
There's plenty more information to share in the coming months, but for now you have the dates, and so I'll leave you with the pricing. There are a few affordable options; R150, R250, R350, R450 and R600. The Pit Party is an extra R150 on top of that, unless you opt for the top-of-the-range Premium Lounge ticket at R800 which includes Pit Party access. Families can buy ticket packages for four, five and six persons on selected price categories offering savings of R30 per
event-only ticket and R40 per Event & Pit Party Combination ticket. You can even save some money if you get all your mates to tag along with you; there's a 10% discount offered on groups of 20 and more (valid only for selected ticket prices based on full-priced tickets and Event + Pit Party tickets). Tickets will be available through Computicket and special packages through Showtime. The Pit Party kicks the event off at 13:00 and closes at 15:00 and the main show starts at 18:00 and runs for around 2.5 hours.
Keep an eye on the various social media pages for cool competitions and giveaways, you can start by following the hashtag #MonsterJamSA. You'll also want to do a bit of research on the various Monster Jam trucks so you can cheer on your favourite at the event, but if you have any sense, you'll be Team Grave Digger like me!
Author: Chris Wall
A slightly tattooed motoring fanatic, photography nut and avid collector of knowledge. Use the search bar to navigate through the archives.