One of the most important things on any car is without doubt the tyres. No matter what car you drive and no matter where you drive, all that keeps you connected to Terra Firma is four patches of rubber that measure in at roughly the size of the palm of your hand. Ok, some tyres are wider than others and so are some hands, but the point is that the traction between you and the road is rather tiny when compared to the size of your car. The odd thing is that tyres seem to be a grudge purchase for most people and so they often skimp on costs by either getting tyres in the wrong size or by buying terrible quality tyres. There are however options that offer up great quality at a price point that won't break the bank, and the latest additions to the range at General Tire are exactly that. I was lucky enough to make my way to the Cape with the Altimax crew to sample these new additions, the Grabber AT3 and the Grabber X3.
When you take a close look at tyres you'll find out that every groove is there for a reason; on street tyres a lot of it is for dispersing water, but for all terrain or more off-road focussed tyres the grooves actually work to expel sand or mud that can cake up on the tyre and negatively affect traction. With these two new tyres, one is made for all terrain purposes and one has more off-road focus, but is able to offer a decent drive on tarmac. The Grabber AT3 is, as the AT part of the name suggests, the all-terrain tyre. This tyre is destined for use on bakkies, SUVs or off-road oriented cars that will spend at least an equal amount of time on tar and on gravel, a 50-50 split. The Grabber X3 is meant to spend the majority of its life off-road, but is capable enough on tar to keep you cruising safely. For this tyre the usage split is 80-20. Of course I fully expect to see Sandton Jeeps running around with this off-road rubber even though the biggest obstacle they're likely to face is climbing over a centre island to do a U-turn when Maps sends them down the wrong road into traffic. With aggressive-looking tread being one of the deciding factors when people buy tyres these days, that's not a bad thing, the Grabber X3 looks properly mean.
To test the Grabber AT3 we were sent on a route with amazingly breathtaking views of the Cape while driving a fleet of the new 2.4-litre Fiat Fullback bakkies. It was my first time sampling of a Fullback and I must say I was quite impressed with it. It's powerful and smooth and has all the mod-cons you expect in a new bakkie, although the interior did feel like it was a few years old in look and feel, but that has nothing to do with the tyres. On tar, and a few gravels roads, the Fiat performed flawlessly, hoofing it on a few bends showed that there was good grip on the roads and as far as road noise is concerned it wasn't really noticeable. The same when it came to the sand roads. It must be said that it's hard to figure where the tyres are showing off or the bakkie's traction control settings. Still, the ride was good. At one of the waypoints we swapped over to Jeep Wrangler Unlimited models fitted with the Grabber X3 tyres. Again, even though they're meant to spend just 20% of their time on the tar, they gave good grip and feedback, even on some wet roads it took a bit of silly buggers to try get the Jeep to lose traction. That's a win.
After a few hours traversing the best driving roads the Cape has to offer, tar and gravel, trying to rescue a poor duiker that we witnessed breaking it's back while jumping through a fence it didn't see, and falling just a little bit in lust with a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, we arrived at our accommodation for the night at the Klipbokkop Mountain Reserve. Apart from being an amazing lodge, it's also the home to Mountain Brewing Co and is also the base for the General Tire Adventure Academy where you can learn the ins and outs of off-road driving - see attached .pdf at the end of this article for great off-road driving information. Dinner (an awesome one), drinks (made on the same mountain we were on) , chats (about all sorts) and bed was the order of the night.
Just after sunrise and a great breakfast we headed into the valley to do some more testing. The first part saw us heading out in the Fiats again on an amazing scenic off-road route made up of hard sand, beach sand and your average medium grade off-road trail. The Grabber AT3 tyres got us through all of it without any issues. In some parts the electronics of the bakkie intervened to regain traction, but the tyres are the main ones responsible for the grip. After having more fun than should be legal in a bakkie, we swapped over to the Wranglers to put the Grabber X3 tyres through their paces. The trail we were lead on this time was way more technical and a lot more demanding on the cars and tyres, but thanks to the skilled instructors we managed to do the course without falter. There were some instances when I thought we'd be in a little trouble, but the grip of the tyres and the amazing agility of the Jeep got us through. I did get to see what the tyres look like up close when they're crawling over obstacles and you can actually see how the different sections grab on to the various rock surfaces and how they expel the water and sand and mud, quite fascinating really.
The new additions to the General Tire Grabber range are what the market needs right now. They are great tyres that come at an affordable price, and they have also made them available in the most popular replacement sizes to manufacturer spec. The Grabber AT3 features three innovative technologies developed to enhance all-round performance and durability: TRACGEN, DURAGEN and COMFORT BALANCE. The standard Grabber AT3 tyre range is available in 13 sizes catering for 15 to 20-inch rim diameters. Later this year, the Grabber AT3 range will be bolstered with a further nine reinforced light truck (LT) offerings in 15 to 18-inch sizes, which are designed for heavy duty applications. Compared to its highly-rated predecessor, the new Grabber AT3’s on and off-road performance has improved in several key areas, including noise levels and irregular wear. Traction in snow, muddy conditions and on wet grass has been improved, along with cut-and-chip resistance. The Grabber X3 is an extreme terrain tyre ideally suited to three of the most challenging off-road driving conditions, comprising mud, dirt and rock – as the name suggests: X3. The Grabber X3 relies on an enhanced version of General Tire’s DURAGEN Technology, using a three-ply construction across the range. This guarantees exceptional durability and puncture resistance and the new Grabber X3 raises the bar in virtually every sphere of off-road performance, while on-road capability has been similarly improved. This mean-looking tyre is available in a total of five sizes for 15 to 17-inch rims.
Best of all, they supply the tyres in OEM fitment to the Suzuki Jimny that I will own one day. A huge shoutout to the Altimax crew, the Xtramile crew and the guys from Klipbokkop/MBco. This was an amazing, unforgettable experience. Oh, and one last note - I decided to try something different on this event, all images taken were with my Samsung Galaxy S8. I wanted to see if it was possible to get quality pics without lugging a full camera kit around. I'm happy with them, but I still think it's worth the extra hassle to have my Canon DSLR with me.
A few more images, because I can...
Mountain Brewing Co.
Just a quick mention of Mountain Brewing Co because the venue, and the team behind it and most importantly, the craft beer itself is brilliant. While staying over we had a few drinks at the Klipbokkop Brewhouse Pub as you do, and we got to sample the wares. They have a great craft beer menu, and I tried two of them while there; Loadshed and an MBco original called Fynbos. The latter was made with fynbos instead of hops, and the only way to describe it was like a liquid veld. Seriously, the way a veld smells after rain is what this beer sort of tastes like, and that's a good thing. Loadshed was great though, I could happily put a 6-pack away. The brewerie gave us a takeaway pack of beer containing all six flavours, and as soon as the first real Saturday of summer comes around, they're doing down like a cheap Chinese watch.
CAPE KRAKEN BELGIAN AMBER ALE
BLACK OR WHITE HY SMAAK ORAAIT: VANILLA PORTER
COPPER DAWN LAGER
SHARING THE TASTE: MBCO ORIGINALS
The latest incarnation of the Land Rover Discovery has just been launched in S.A and yours truly was lucky enough to attend the launch of the brand's iconic nameplate. As usual, the Land Rover crew introduced us to the new model by adding in some amazing driving roads (both on and off road), breathtaking views and a spattering of light adventure. Land Rover is all about the lifestyle after all. I've been on a Land Rover launch before when the Discovery Sport was released in SA, and so I knew we were in for a brilliant time off the beaten path.
The contingent of journalists met at the Land Rover training centre for some much needed coffee and breakfast that lead into an introduction to the 5th generation Land Rover Discovery with a run down on some of the new tech features that have been added to the premium SUV. If what those internet memes say about your smartphone having more computing power than what NASA used to send Mr. Armstrong to the moon are right, then the new Discovery has enough tech packed into it to land humans on Neptune. Now comes my problem, what do you need to know about and what can I leave out? If I add in everything available in the new Disco then I'll be here for an age and a day, there's just that much going on.
What you do need to know about the tech is that all of it is there to make your life a lot easier, from accessing the boot, arranging the seating to expand the storage space, through to planning your journey and navigation - you can even hitch up a trailer with no help from anyone, just the onboard technology. The powers-that-be have named seven wonders of the new Land Rover Discovery, the list is as follows:
1 - The Magnificent Seven: every seat is the best seat in the house
• Flexible interior provides seven full-sized adult seats, instantly configurable from your smartphone using the world's-first remote Intelligent Seat Fold technology.
2 - A much loved member of the family: keeping you safe for the last 26 years
• Semi-autonomous safety technology provides the family peace of mind.
• Premium interior combines leading design with durable, high-quality materials and space for the whole family.
3 - King of the hill: unstoppable on all surfaces, all terrains and in all weathers
• Land Rover’s full-sized SUV architecture delivers world-beating all-terrain capability.
• Lightweight aluminium construction saves up to 480kg, delivering enhanced efficiency
• Towing king: best-in-class 3,500kg towing capacity and semi-autonomous Advanced Tow Assist take the stress out of difficult reversing manoeuvres.
4 - British creativity: designed with charm and sophistication loved by the world
• Design retains key Discovery family cues, adding optimised proportions and sophisticated surfaces.
5 - Storage addiction: discover the space for everything
• Up to 2,500-litres of luggage space and clever storage for 21st century family essentials.
6 - Connects every generation: Ingenious features that make life easier
• Digital Discovery equipped with up to nine USB ports, six 12-volt charging points and an in-car 3G WiFi hotspot for up to eight devices.
7 - After the roads end: reaching threatened habitats and vulnerable people
• All-New Discovery will continue Land Rover’s work in humanitarian aid and conservation projects around the world.
Much of the tech in the new Land Rover Discovery is found in the outgoing model, but there have been tweaks and improvements throughout, as expected. One new addition we were shown in the tech centre was the Intelligent Seat Folding feature, which received a host of negative comments when I Tweeted about it from the launch. The general consensus was that it wasn't needed and an extra thing that could go wrong. I must admit that when I first read about it I thought similar, but seeing it in action changed my mind. The seats can be folded and moved in various configurations with the touch of a few buttons on a panel in the boot or via the infotainment screen. It can also be done via Land Rover’s InControl Remote app. Comments were that spiteful people or kids could mess around with it and possibly cause damage or harm, but there are safety parameters set up so that any resistance to the seats moving will stop the operation. I like this feature, sure it can be called gimmicky, but I'd find real world use for it when needing to load the SUV with larger than normal items (up to 2,500 litres of space). You can have the seats fold to the config you need while you're still in the queue at Builders.
Adding to the versatility is a new single-piece tailgate. It opens wider than before and can offer shade or shelter from the elements when fiddling in the boot. It can be opened with a swipe of your foot too so that there's no need to put your shopping down to fumble with access. Another nice feature is the Powered Inner Tailgate. This is an extra fold-down section that opens when the tailgate is accessed. It looks thin, and is lowered and raised by a thin wire coupled to a motor. While the wire looks to be thin, it's strong enough to support up to 300kg. This can be raised and lowered independently of the tailgate making it quite the handy feature. To test it, I sat on it with a rather well-known Land Rover ambassador, I'll get to more on him a little later.
Another great piece of tech has been carried over from the sister brand's Jaguar F-Pace, is the Activity Key. For the active types, or those wanting to show off new tech, this is great. You can lock everything in the car, including the key fob, to keep it safe. With the durable ( withstands 30m water depths and temps ranging between -50 to +125 degrees celsius) activity wristband worn, you can lock up and go off to do all sorts of things and know that you won't lose your keys. It's a simple procedure, you just hold the wristband up to the D on the tailgate. This locks the Landy and disables the conventional keys.
From the tech presentation we bundled into the fleet of new Discovery models and headed out on a nigh on 300km trip to an amazing makeshift camp site near Thabazimbi in the Waterberg biosphere. Ok, campsite is misleading, it wasn't your normal kind that your wife hates, it was a luxury setup with each tent having electricity and an en-suite toilet and shower. Also known as glamping - glamourous camping. Anyway, this route gave us a chance to feel what the new Discovery is like on the open road with your normal, everyday traffic, as well as a chance to sample the SUV's off road capabilities. Firstly, the tarmac drive is perfect. The power delivery, the gear shifts from the 8-speed auto and the handling is second to none, but that really is expected from a car with this kind of heritage and price tag. This stint saw us in the 3.0 V6 turbodiesel-equipped HSE Luxury model that produces a cool 190kW with a monstrous 600Nm. As expected, these specs make for some interesting performance figures. At just about 2300kg, the powertrain is still able to return claimed figures of an 8.1-second 0-100km/h dash with a top speed of 209km/h. It's quite easy to get there too, the drive is so smooth and quiet that if you don't pay attention you'll easily find your mugshot on Metro's website. The drive is much the same from the petrol derivative that offers up 250kW and 450Nm from a supercharged V6. As with the same setup in the F-Pace range, I'm a fan of the torquey feel of the diesel and the growl of the supercharged petrol. Choosing between the two is a hard task that I luckily don't have to make.
When we made it to the Waterberg area, we had the chance to experience what the new Land Rover Discovery offers off road. It's a lot. It has to offer a lot, because while many will only really use this as a city commuter, there are those that will put it through it's paces in some rather unfriendly environments. Before hitting the short and technical trail, we were introduced to another great feature of the new Discovery - Hitch Assist. Want to go camping, tow a car or do anything else that needs to be hooked up to a tow bar? With the new Discovery you can get everything set up on your own, because technology. The Hitch Assist system allows you to guide a trailer into position with trajectory lines and a sort of target circle that appears on the screen to guide the Landy's electrically deployable tow bar to be directly under the trailer mounting point. Once connected, you can make sure you're safe on the road thanks to another industry first - the Trailer Light Test feature. This allows you to make sure all the lights are working on the trailer with the Landy pulsing them on and off them while you stand outside so check. The Rear Height Adjust feature allows the you to lower and raise the rear height of the rear of the Landy to make the process even easier. I think the new Discovery may lead to owners putting on weight, easy also means lazy. Of course, once up and running, there's more technology like the Trailer Stability Assist that will make sure your towing experience is a safe and pleasurable one.
Actually taking the new Land Rover Discovery on the trail was a revelation, all the technologies on the older models will still help you safely navigate and traverse some pretty mad terrain, but the chaps in white coats have added in even more tech, and one feature can turn even the most inept metrosexual city boy into bonafide Bear Grylls outdoor master. When you're on a mild trail and things start to get a little on the scary side, all you have to do is activate the new All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) feature. The best way to describe it is that it's like an advanced hill descent control but for going up and over stuff. When used, the Discovery autonomously maintains a crawl speed of between 2 and 30km/h leaving the driver with one simple task - steering. ATPC controls the brakes and accelerator effectively, it's been tuned using decades of Land Rover’s off road expertise. While for some this may take a lot of the fun out of an off road trail, it's a great way to make sure you don't end up as a fail video. It was pretty weird to feel though, the ATPC crawls along at the right speed to make the terrain passable. We drove through some deep water (not sure on depth but it was enough for me to drown in) and then up and over some rather large and slippery rocks. The power was distributed to the wheels that needed it most and the new Land Rover Discovery made light work of a pretty mean little trail.
There's obviously a lot more to the new Discovery, but those are some of the things I thought you needed to know before anything else. So, what does the Best of British cost then? Well, it ain't cheap, but I'm sure you knew that. There are three models available, the S, SE, HSE and HSE Luxury. The S kicks off at R980 000, the SE at R1 109 250, the HSE at R1 223 000, the HSE Luxury at R 1 314 000. There is one higher up, but it's a limited edition called First Edition and that's set at R1 440 000. The HSE Luxury I drove on the launch has various options fitted and this had the price up at just over R1 600 000.
A few people have commented online (and in person) that they're not sure how much sense this Discovery makes business-wise as it's pretty close to, if not on par, with a Range Rover in capability. The Range Rover is obviously the big daddy that comes with automatic baller status, but with the new Discovery being this good, will people be happy to fork over nigh on a million Rand more for the Range Rover? It would be a hard choice for me. On the other hand if I wanted a premium SUV in my driveway, I'd also be considering a Jaguar F-PACE. So it seems that either way, the same people would get my money. Once again we have a brilliant offering from Land Rover, and if you're in the market for something premium, you'll be doing yourself a disservice not to test drive one of these magnificent beasts.
Kingsley Holgate - The man, the legend.
I mentioned that a well-known Land Rover ambassador joined us on the launch, and if the pic didn't tip you off, it was none other than Kingsley Holgate. The man is just awesome, he's been there and done that and he doesn't just have the t-shirt, he made the material himself and mixed up the ink for the print using rare berries found in the wild. I've known about Kingsley and his exploits under the Kingsley Holgate Foundation banner for as long as I can remember, so when we had dinner and he sat at our table, I mainly just listened, too awestruck to ask anything. The man has so many stories based on real life experiences that you don't really want to speak to him, you just want to listen. In the near future, Kingsley will be heading into deepest, darkest Africa on another humanitarian expedition and he'll be captaining a fleet of new Land Rover Discovery vehicles on the epic journey. I did ask him what changes would be made to the cars for the trip, and they're basically going as is. Some will see a strengthened set of roof rails that will allow a sturdy platform to be built across and some will have the spare wheel moved from underneath the boot onto dedicated mounting points. Other than that they'll be wearing the smallest optional wheels to allow for tyres with a bigger sidewall. Robert's your mother's brother - the Land Rover Discovery fleet will ready for anything. If Kingsley trusts the car and it's capability, you should take note.
Thanks to this lasting collaboration between Land Rover and Kingsley's foundation, nearly 240 000 kids in unreachable areas have been taught the value of saving our rhino; over 265 000 malaria nets have been handed out with the result of drastically reducing occurrences of the sickness; nearly 12500 Life Straws have been given out to allow people to drink purified water from just about any water source found, and over 126 000 people have been given prescription glasses under the Right to Sight initiative. The man is a legend in every sense of the word. Click on the images below to visit the foundation website and find out more about this amazing man's initiatives.
The new Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series is the most powerful and distinctive 911 Turbo S to date. The coupé provides 607hp (446kW) and is strictly limited to 500 units worldwide. In addition to a power increase of 27hp, the exclusive model is distinguished from the standard 911 Turbo S thanks to its unique design features and luxurious details. The sports car is being intricately finished by hand in the new “Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur” at the brand’s headquarters in Zuffenhausen, Germany. Previously known as “Porsche Exclusive”, the in-house workshop specialises in customisation as well as limited-edition series. For the first time ever, Porsche customers can have the matching chronograph watch from Porsche Design configured in the same design as their sports car.
Increased power and performance
The 3.8-litre, six-cylinder biturbo flat engine with an exclusive power kit has a maximum torque of 750Nm, delivering between 2,250 and 4,000rpm. This means that the 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in 2.9 seconds, and takes 9.6 seconds to cross the 200km/h threshold. The sports car can reach a top speed of 330 km/h. The new model comes with black-painted 20-inch wheels with central locking as standard; their design lines are carefully finished in Golden Yellow Metallic using a new laser technology. For the first time, the brake callipers for the PCCB ceramic brake system are available directly from the factory in a black-painted version with the Porsche logo in Golden Yellow Metallic. The active sports chassis, equipped with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) and Sport Chrono Package, is included in the standard equipment, as is the rear-axle steering and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) improving handling and stability.
Some of the most distinguishing features of this sports car include the exclusive Golden Yellow Metallic paint finish and various carbon components, such as the bonnet, roof and side skirts. The two carbon-weave strips that contour the roof and bonnet accentuate the sporty look of the car. The rear view is characterised by the rear wing of the Turbo Aerokit, the new rear apron, the ram-air scoop in carbon and the exhaust system with two twin tailpipes made from stainless steel in black. In addition to Golden Yellow Metallic, the vehicle is offered in a range of other special exterior colours.
Master craftsmanship in the interior
The model’s interior is both elegant and unique. The 18-way adjustable sports seats are covered in two layers of perforated leather, with the inside layer featuring two stripes in Golden Yellow, guaranteeing a distinctive effect. The seams and the Turbo S lettering stitched on the headrests are also in contrasting Golden Yellow, meanwhile the roof lining is finished in Alcantara, with a Golden Yellow double stripe. Fine copper thread is integrated into the trim strips of the carbon interior package. A plaque featuring the limited-edition number on the passenger's side underlines the car’s exclusivity. Finished in carbon, the door entry guards come with illuminated Exclusive Series lettering.
For more than 30 years, Porsche customers have been able to own customised vehicles. With the introduction of this new limited model, the sports car manufacturer is beginning a new chapter: Porsche Exclusive has now been re-branded into “Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur”. Specialising in bespoke Porsche modifications, this in-house workshop offers a range of services, including advising customers, developing special equipment options for each model range and producing limited model series.
Exclusive Chronograph from Porsche Design to match the vehicle
The optional Porsche Design Chronograph 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series represents the first time that Porsche Design has released a watch exclusively available to customers buying this limited model series. The made-to-order chronograph combines the characteristic features of Porsche Design watches with the character of the 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series. Just like the vehicle, it is limited to 500 units. Its housing is made of lightweight titanium, and its black titanium carbide coating emphasises its sporty design. The carbon dial is taken from the striking carbon weave stripes on the 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series and finished in the same exterior colour as the customer’s vehicle. The rotor design is modelled on the rims of the 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series and painted in the original colour. The winding mechanism features a typical Porsche central lock with the Porsche crest on the movement.
With the launch of the new 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series Porsche customers can also enjoy an optional Exclusive Series luggage set made from leather. The visual details as well as the dimensions of the four-piece collection, consisting of two travel pieces as well as a day bag and a suit bag, are perfectly fitted for the luggage space available in the 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series.
Prices and sales launch
The basic retail price for the new 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series with a 3-year Drive Plan starts at R4 072000 in South Africa. It will be available to order from June 8, 2017. Price information for the optional accessories will be available at the nearest Porsche Centre.
First off, I need to let you know what a kei car is. In the circles I run in the term isn't uncommon when discussing JDM cars, but most out there, even car types, might not know the term. The phrase kei car (or k-car) is an abbreviation for kei jidōsha, which loosely translated from Japanese means: "light automobile". If a car is going to be light, then you can be sure it's going to be small, and that's the point of a kei car - not to take up space. Cars under a certain size (11.2ft x 4.9ft) with an engine under a certain capacity (600cc, although these days we're seeing them double that size) benefit from better tax and insurance rates, and when people can save money, they generally will. This has lead to a huge, hotly contested market in Japan, and over the years we've been seeing more and more kei cars hitting South African shores from a few manufacturers. The latest to arrive is the diminutive Suzuki Ignis, a car that will be marketed as a compact crossover, and if we're taking bets, I'll put money on it becoming one of the most popular cars in the segment and a best-seller for the brand.
If there's one thing Suzuki knows how to do, that's to make a good kei car. They have a few models that conform to the regulations in the Japanese market, and some of these have made their way to S.A. like the Alto, but the automaker has plenty more in their Japanese model lineup, one of which has been the best-selling kei car since 2003, the Suzuki Wagon R. Most of the model lineup in S.A. is made up of compact cars, but the Ignus is among the smaller offerings. Usually people shy away from the smaller stuff, often making the mistake of thinking the smaller size to mean inferior quality. Small cars made of lightweight materials can feel just as solid and purposeful as the bigger cars, and this Ignis is a perfect example of this. As small as it is, the Ignis can comfortably seat four adults, as hard as that is to imagine. There's not heaps of power on tap, but the 1,200cc 4-cylinder lump is sprightly enough to carry those aforementioned adults, although the sweet spot would indeed be with two occupants. 61kW and 113Nm won't exactly really win any races, but when the car tips the scales at just 850kg it certainly feels more than nippy enough and manages to get to 100km/h in 11.6-seconds, while being able to top out at 165km/h. The small capacity engine and lightweight, compact body equates to a rather frugal setup when it comes to fuel efficiency, something common to most Suzuki models. The Suzuki Ignis is claimed to return figures of 5.1-litres/100km for the manual version and 4.9-litres/100km for the AMT (auto) version.
Once inside the Suzuki Ignis, you'll see an interior that perfectly compliments the quirky exterior styling. It's colourful, futuristic, funky and sort of minimalist all rolled into one. It's mainly black and white, but the exterior colour comes through on the centre console and the inside door handles. There's a 3-spoke multifunction steering wheel that has a space for cruise control buttons, but they're absent because that's not an option on the local Ignis, but it may be one in the future. Another missing feature is the infotainment unit as seen in international models, but to keep locals happy there is an optional unit that can be had which greatly improves the stand-out section in the centre of the dash. That said, the base-spec model also looks ok, but I recommend that if you do want an Ignis, to take that optional extra unit. The dash layout looks great, and the gauge cluster is one of the better ones seen in a budget car - the big speedo and ambient lighting are great.
Seats are quite comfortable with the front being in a bucket-style while a bench is found at the rear, which features the usual 60:40 split to increase cargo capacity when needed. Even with the compact dimensions of the Ignis, there's a decent amount of boot space, a full 260 litres (469 litres with seats folded flat), enough for a full complement of photographic gear and an overnight bag. Spec differs between the GL and GLX models, but not by too much. As the names suggest, the GLX is the higher-spec version and it has a list of most of today's mod-cons that are expected in a new car, even one at this price point. The GL features electric windows all round, electronically adjustable exterior mirrors, remote central locking, manual air-con, a basic radio with a pair of speaker, a USB socket and a 12V power outlet. The GLX steps up to offer keyless start, auto climate control, six speakers and Bluetooth connectivity. Some trim pieces get paint matching the exterior too.
Of course, the point of every car is to drive it, and the Suzuki Ignis offers up a pretty decent drive. As mentioned, the car is put together very well, so even though it's light, it doesn't feel like it will bounce off the road when you hit a bump. The steering feedback is good, it's no Swift Sport but it's not totally devoid of feel either. Being touted as a compact crossover means it's meant to be able to navigate gravel roads, and it's rather good at that task. It sort of floats above the very soft sand and maneuvers great on the harder gravel, probably also thanks to the narrower 175 profile tyres. Both models feature the same engine and transmission setup with an automatic manual also on offer. On the launch I was only able to drive the manual version, and it's great, the 5-speed 'box slots into gear with purpose and ease. It's actually a fun drive, the way the Ignis looks inside and out makes you smile, that's never a bad thing. On roads through the Cape winelands, the little Ignis was the perfect runaround, and attracted a fair amount of attention. I guess that could have also been because there were quite a few of them in convoy too though. As for that claimed fuel consumption, once again it's wrong. I had the manual at 4.9-litres/100km more than once,and if we weren't on a launch sharing the car between two journos, that could get even better.
While the Suzuki Ignis is a small car, it's also a safe car. The base Ignis GL features dual front airbags, front and rear head restraints, and inertia seat belts for front and rear occupants. The middle seating position on the rear bench seat is fitted with a two-point lap belt. ABS with EBD and EBA is also standard equipment, as are IsoFix child seat anchors, child-proof rear door locks and an alarm and immobiliser. The GLX sees extras including PDC and a height-adjustable driver's seat for the interior while the exterior sees better lighting in the form of projector LED lighting. For those that want to win bets, the Ignis employs Suzuki's TECT (Total Effective Control Technology) with a rigid passenger safety cell and impact absorbing crumple zones to give the Ignis a great Euro NCAP 4-star safety rating - that's like a million points higher than a Datsun Go. Actually, you're probably safer using a skateboard on the highway than one of those things...
The Suzuki Ignis can be had in a choice of four colours and a pair of two-tone combos. The GL comes in Uptown Red Pearl Metallic, Arctic White Pearl Metallic, Silky Silver Metallic, and Glistening Grey Metallic, while the GLX is available in Arctic White Pearl Metallic, Silky Silver Metallic, and Glistening Grey Metallic, as well as Uptown Red Pearl Metallic with a black roof, and Tinsel Blue Pearl Metallic with a white roof. I can't pick a favourite oddly enough. Both models come with a standard 3-year/100 000km warranty, as well as a 2-year/30 000km service plan and services are at 15 000 km/12-month intervals. Yes, that could be longer, but these cars are intended for urban use, so racking up that amount of mileage should take quite a while. Pricing is good, better than I expected anyway. The base model GL comes in at R168 900 and the GLX at R189 900. For the lazy chaps, the GLX AMT will cost R204 900.
As far as kei cars go, the Suzuki Ignis is absolutely brilliant, and as far as affordable cars go, it's equally as brilliant. Someone mentioned that Suzuki SA would like to shift around 40 of these cars a month, but I reckon that once buyers become aware of the Ignis, it will quickly become one of their best selling models. I guestimate more than double of those projected monthly figures. The tagline for the car is: "Like no other" which is just about perfect for it. This thing is A-OKei!
Deetlefs Wine Estate
The main venue visited on the Suzuki Ignis launch was Deetlefs Wine Estate where we were treated to a tour of the facility as well as a wine tasting. I loved this, I thought I knew how wine was made, but there's a lot more to it. I learned a lot from the tour, not just about Deetlefs, but the Cape winelands and the market itself. Old places are always amazing to me, and this farm is one of the oldest. It's actually the second-oldest wine estate in South Africa to be owned by the same family, and so Deetlefs has been around since 1822. Click the link above for more detailed info, in the meantime, here's some pics snapped from the tour.
Cars & Coffee is a worldwide phenomenon now, which makes sense when these events are made up of the finest supercars and hypercars that money can buy. Well supercars along with other sports cars and other rare cars that don't come out to play often. If you've ever claimed to be car enthusiast, you should get to one of these events. Not only will it potentially blow your mind as to what kind of cars S.A has to offer, it can also serve as inspiration for those who want more out of life. One of my favourite parts of this event was reading some of the online conversation I saw leading up to it. I saw locals comparing Cars & Coffee SA to the international events saying that we'll never see cars of the same calibre here, and then seeing the reactions from the same people after the event has taken place and pics surface online. I can't really blame them though as these cars are usually not seen around, and if they do attend events it's on the quiet. If you're not in the right motoring circles you'll never believe SA has such a rich and varied supercar community.
I was lucky enough to be invited to cover this latest Jo'burg leg of Cars & Coffee, which was the 5th officially affiliated event to take place in SA - and I was not disappointed with what I saw. Then again, an event starting off at RACE! in Kyalami is guaranteed to be a good one, that place is the ultimate one-stop shop for the guys who want their exclusive cars to stand out a little more than they already do. Marco and his crew don't hold back, there was breakfast for everyone, along with coffee, lots of coffee. This first part of the day wasn't open to the public, it was the meeting point for the supercar owners and gave them a chance to chat and catch up, as well as do one of the most important things related to Cars & Coffee - networking. You know how loads of deals are made on the golf course? This is much the same, but better because cars are involved. From RACE! the supercars headed out to Odi for some fun on the drag strip, the part of the event that was open to the public, and a few people did make their way out there to see the cars being driven like they were intended. I was driving on my own which meant getting wicked rolling shots was not possible, although the many other photographers there managed to get some amazing pics that you can see via the Cars & Coffee Facebook and Instagram accounts. Somehow they all managed to bundle into a dedicated "press car" that I didn't know about. Note made for next time though.
I'm not going to list all the awesomeness spotted at this Cars & Coffee because I'll be here all day, everything was amazing, from the new Aventador S to the BMW M2, every car was special. What impressed me the most was seeing the speeds these supercars can get on a standing kilometer run, I'm pretty sure the Odi normally aspirated record was broken by a stock Ferrari F12 - that's pretty damn nuts! Here's some of my pics from the day, I did take plenty more but they were for a client, so sadly you don't get to see them all. That's not a complaint from my side of course. I do have a new favourite supercar now though, the Ferrari 458 was where it's at, but when my ship comes in, I'm getting me a Lamborghini Huracan!
Enjoy the pics...
A huge thanks to all involved - RACE! - Prestige Magazine - Last Lion Lifestyle. Also, thanks to Ish Kaskar for the hookup!
It was around a year ago now that I shot this car for Gert Botes. It's his Mk1 Escort that's seen on track in the South African Historic Racing Series in the pre-'79 Saloons class, and it's arguably the best looking one of the lot. Besides being a racecar, it's one of the neatest and cleanest Escorts I've seen in the metal and uses many of the best components on the market today. As pretty as the car is, it's fast too, having taken Gert to many podium spots in the classes it runs in.
Not only is this machine built by Gert himself, he has loads of Escorts in various states of tune at his workshop, a place any Ford fan will kill to visit. He builds cars for clients, in both race and street spec. I snapped a few of these cars when I did the shoot, and you'll see them below. This shoot was good fun, and of course being a Ford fan made it even more special. A big thanks goes to Gert and Neoline for the opportunity to shoot the car.
Have a look at the shoot below...
I've covered this event many times over the years for various publications and websites, as well as this here blog. I've probably been to Angela's Picnic fifteen times in it's 36 year running and I can report back that this was the biggest and busiest one I've seen so far. Even the field of cars was different, all the usual clubs had their demarcated sections, but they had some new additions that the camera loved.
I arived nice and early, because as I've mentioned before, there are more than a few octogenarian's around and come 11:00 they head home for a lunchtime nap. There's also some softer light and a decent amount of space between the parked cars, which makes for better pictures. I also found that the guys at the Volkswagen Club of SA stand are always nice and cheery at Angela's Picnic because they have a good breakfast early on, something I was in time for this year. Thanks guys! You'll notice once again that the best and prettiest muscle cars that attended the event aren't seen in my post, those images were reserved for the upcoming issue of SA Hotrods.
Enjoy these pics, the rest will be found on my Facebook page.
In this job I get to see all sorts of things, and on the automotive side I'm lucky enough to experience some of the coolest cars imaginable, the range from Birkin Performance Cars is certainly part of that category. While it's always good fun shooting cars, it's always better when you get to pilot the cars around yourself. I was given the Birkin S3 180 XS to drive and I'm not embarrassed to say that it scared the crap out of me. Fitted with a race-spec 2.0 Ford Duratec motor on throttles that makes a very healthy 138kW with 208Nm of torque - in a chassis tipping the scales at just 633kg - it makes for an insane power-to-weight ratio of 218kW per ton. To put that in context, a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti F1 produces 216kW per ton. The Ferrari has all the bells and whistles, but the Birkin has no power steering, no ABS and a manual H-pattern shifter - it's a driver's car in every sense of the word.
I nailed it from the line and took it to the top of 3rd gear where the limiter cuts in at 7200rpm and that was more than enough for me, I scared myself and backed off. The steering is surgical in it's precision and at high speeds a slight pull on it will see you changing lanes in an instant, it's not a car for beginner drivers, you need to know what you're doing. Even with such a low weight and such good power delivery, there's grip for days. On a tight bend I ran out of confidence long before the Birkin was anywhere near its limits. I'd love to have a few hours with one on a racetrack to get to know it better, that's where a Birkin is truly in it's element.
I got shots of the car in a few locations - a basement, on the road and in a few other spots. There were three cars that I shot but my favourite, and the best looking of the bunch, is the one in the classic black and gold colours done in homage to the old John Player Special race livery. The Top Gear Birkin is also a looker, and quite a bit more special than the rest thanks to having carbon fibre panels making it even lighter - and quicker.
Check out some more wicked Birkins...
Sometimes a specific car works for two different commissions, and Shafik Sarang's 1974 Mercedes-Benz W114 was one such car. Many months before shooting it for SA Hotrods, I shot it for an online publication - MB World. The car was so neat and clean, and with many out there starting to now buy up and modify old European cars, it made sense to show the SA Hotrods readers something other than American muscle. For this one we took the Merc to a broken down gas station in Lenasia, and it worked pretty well with the old silver car. It turns heads, but it's doesn't really have an extensive modification list. The car is even more special to Shafik as it was his grandfather's car and it's been in the family since 1976, although when he took over ownership it was in need of a fair amount of TLC - the OEM orange paint was wrecked.
Here's some details found in the published article:
The OEM orange colour wasn’t looking great, so it was removed along with the usual rust found on an old car, but the paint that replaced it was still from the Mercedes stable, you know, just to keep things in the family. His mate Nazeer from The Panel Shoppe was responsible for this sparkling silver paintwork, a top job. While the silver looks good, it’s the wheels that attract a lot of attention. They’re the car’s original wheels, but with a modern twist. Another friend, Zubair at Designer Mags, helped customise the wheels and he did an absolutely insane job. The OEM 14-inch wheels were stepped up and widened, they now measure in at 18-inches in a staggered narrow and wide fitment (an 18-month project!). Together with the custom lowered suspension, the old ‘76er attracts a loads of attention – Shafik can’t really go anywhere without being offered cash for the car – a lot of cash. You can’t put a price on memories though…
Inside the interior was re-trimmed in white and it gives the Merc a deserved classy look, especially with the polished wooden floors. The dash, steering and pedals are all original, but there is a sound install in the mix thanks to Haroon from Beemer Audio in Lenasia. There’s full Nakamichi system headed up with a 7-inch touch screen with custom pods for the splits and tweeters up front and a pair of 12s in the neat boot install.
More from this shoot with a sort of desaturated edit...
Commissioned to shoot a Pontiac for SA Hotrods, I arrived at the builder's workshop on the East Rand with news that the car wasn't ready, but that there was a replacement car. Luckily the crew at Kobus & Sons Classic Cars know what a quality feature car is and so they had Jaco Smit's ground-up rebuilt '55 Ford truck ready for me. Featuring some tasty bodywork and rolling on Foose wheels, it was hard to believe that just six months before it was a lump of rusty metal. The guys knew of a cool venue to use a few kilometers from the workshop, so we drove through to check it out, after seeing what was there I didn't see a need to look for more possible places to shoot. It worked out pretty well I reckon, I even managed to get onto one of the tankers for a few shots, although not as many as I would have liked. I had limited time because the metal was so hot that the soles of my shoes were getting sticky.
Here's an extract from the article to get you up to speed on the specs...
A much newer, but still old, 80s model F100 was bought as a donor car (to the 1955 shell). The body was chucked but the better chassis was kept along with the standard disc brakes and a coveted Ford 9-inch diff. The cabin was painstakingly repaired, the rust was removed and some spots were sorted out old-school style with sheet metal formed to suit. Some body parts weren’t available and so they had to be imported for the project, but that’s normal for most big builds like this, especially on a car from 1955. While things were kept stock looking, the rear fenders were widened by 2-inches, a mod that’s not immediately noticeable but was necessary when you realize that 10-inch wide, black Foose wheels needed to sit snugly under them. With all the right chrome in all the right places and a wooden decked load bin - not to mention the nice and low ride height - the looks of the '55 are pretty much perfect.
Keeping the Ford as a Ford, Kobus & Sons fitted a nicely worked 351 Cleveland V8 into the large engine bay. The sub-assembly was fully built with all new parts that may have raised the compression just a wee bit. Up top it’s been fitted with 4V heads with roller rockers, a stage 2 camshaft and a large, new 4-barrel Edelbrock Performer 750 carburetor. All in all we’re looking at a thumping V8 that kicks out around 400hp with 400Nm that sounds pretty damn wicked and revs almost too easily. This truck hauls! For the interior it was decided to use seats and a centre console from a Jeep Cherokee, but some genuine cowhide was first used to cover them. They’re modern but they suit the theme of the ’55 – badass! There’s also a B&M shifter and a wooden 3-piece imported steering wheel finishing things off. There’s no sound system, Jaco much prefers the soundtrack of the V8 to anything the airwaves can offer up.
I know it doesn't look hot in these pics, but it was a scorcher.
Author: Chris Wall
A slightly tattooed motoring fanatic, photography nut and avid collector of knowledge. Use the search bar to navigate through the archives.