Archive for the ‘BOBBY’S CAR TALK’ Category
Stacey Webb was recently now in December crowned first runner up at the miss South Africa Pageant. This friendly young lady isnâ€™t just a pretty face either as has a law degree from Stellenbosch she completed just last year.
Stacey is 24 and has been playing netball for 11 years. For seven of those 11 years she played at provincial level and only once you realise sheâ€™s 1.8 meters tall do you come to understand that entering this prestigious pageant was the next logical step. Stacey was excited when I called her up and told her I wanted to interview her, but sheâ€™s also a real trooper. You see she was ill with the most horrible flu and I could hardly hear her over the phone. She still agreed to the interview since it could raise awareness for the charity work she does.
I went to pick her up at home and instead of a sickly looking medication junky, out popped this vision of a woman with a sash and everything. I was certainly impressed because not only did she embrace an opportunity to help others, she also gave the difficult situation 200%.
Being a lady and not a petrol head Stacey was blissfully unaware of what exactly a Chevrolet Lumina SSV was, but she got in and we went for a short drive. The photoshoot was rushed but lots of fun since we chatted through the whole thing and then I took the young lady home asking her opinion about the car as we drove. â€śIt looks like a really flashy family carâ€ť and as she said this I realised we needed a lesson in performance motoring. We stopped at her place and I asked her if she wanted to see what the Lumina was famous for. She looked at me inquisitively and strapped herself back in. â€śSure but what do you mean?â€ť I could tell this girl had a fun streak underneath that pageant queen visage. I disabled the traction control, shifted the six speed automatic gearbox into sport mode and floored the accelerator. Just under six seconds later we were doing 100km/h.
The little car you see here is Hondaâ€™s latest attempt at attracting a younger audience. You see Honda vehicles attract a more mature buyer, but I think it has more to do with the quality. Older people tend to look for quality so you also find them in Woolies and not in stores that focus on brand names. Honda offers better quality vehicles and Iâ€™m not thumb sucking. The JD Power Survey rates Honda at the very top of customer satisfaction.
I also find the fit and finish of Honda products to be of a premium standard when compared to other Japanese brands like Toyota and Mazda. For a company like Honda to build something that appeals to a brand conscious youth market one needs to take a step back and consider the fact that younger buyers are not all that interested in great engineering and quality which is a pity since buying a car is a huge thing and if it were my money Iâ€™m definitely going to try and get the best my money can buy.
The Brio is a Super Mini and competes with the Chevrolet Spark, Hyundai i10, Kia Picanto, Toyota Aygo and all the other little city runabouts. Itâ€™s certainly not the cheapest at R120 000, but out of the list mentioned itâ€™s got the best suspension, best build quality and itâ€™s the most modern. The award for looks go to Kiaâ€™s Picanto, but in my book the Honda Brio wins at everything else. Like all its competitors you get a small boot, but its not a family car, so a huge boot was never on the cards. The cabin is big though and when I say big I mean four adults in absolute comfort or five at a slight squeeze in the back.
It drives and feels like a bigger car and it feels rock solid. Its wide for a small car which is great for shoulder room also. It does not have a CD player, but you do get a USB port so you can sort your music into folders and carry the lot around with you on a memory stick or you can plug in your cellphone. Remember its aimed at the youth market and CDâ€™s are very 2005. Noise and vibration levels are very low compared to something like a Toyota Aygo or Chevy Spark and those are not bad cars because I like them both, but the Honda Brio is simply better.
The only huge downfall is the beige interior. It looks very sophisticated but it is going to get dirty so quickly and those stains wont come out of the fluffy fabric. Honda needs to seriously reconsider this aspect of an otherwise great little car. The dash and steering wheel are very modern and classy with convenient audio controls on the steering wheel so it has an upmarket appearance, but its more the sort of look stylish girls will like. I donâ€™t see a guy appreciating the colour scheme or the subtle chrome detail.
What guys will like is the effortless performance because the Brio has a very powerful 1.2 i-VTEC four cylinder engine where the competition makes do with mostly one litre, three cylinder units that sound grof and need frequent gear changes to get them going.
The new Honda engine produces 65kW of power and 109Nm of torque which is more than enough to propel the Brioâ€™s lightweight body from 0 to 100km/h in 12 seconds. The competition needs about 15 seconds to do the same thing. Strangely the Honda also uses very little fuel when compared to the smaller engined competition at only 5.6 liters per 100km. Its not ground breaking but you will get about 600km from the 35 liter fueltank.
You get two airbags, aircon, central locking, power steering and electric windows, but the glass tailgate has to be opened with the key which is strange. I donâ€™t like the interior colour scheme and choice of oldschool fabric for the seats, but I cant fault the Honda Brio on anything else. Itâ€™s the driverâ€™s car of the Super Mini A segment and my new favourite. The Kia and Hyundai come close, but the Honda just feels more comfortable, more refined and the more complete car. Donâ€™t believe me? Go look for yourself at your nearest Honda dealer.
I think Volvo finally got it. Having struggled for many years to attract younger buyers to the classy Swedish brand, Volvo finally made a breakthrough with the C30 hatch.
It seems they got stuck on the hatch idea because the new range is only that. A single body style will now represent Volvo in the premium C-Segment. Gone is the S40 sedan, V40 station wagon and C30 hatch. Welcome the new V40 and its no longer a station wagon like its predecessor, but a mixture of hatch and station wagon also referred to as a shooting brake by some other brands. Its basically a short, sporty estate car very similar in execution to the Audi A3 Sportback.
Its not small though with seating for five and a tiny boot due to the Â short coupe like rear end. Its very striking and while not classically beautiful, it does break the mould and gives us a new shape and profile to enjoy. The proportionsÂ are interesting because itâ€™s the size of a sedan, but itâ€™s a hatch that hints at a station wagon and it took me a while to fully appreciate all the effort Volvo put into its new striker.
This weekâ€™s celeb might not be someone who we see regularly on TV or hear on the radio, but everyone whoâ€™s ever owned a Golf will find him very interesting. I was lucky enough to get a personal interview with Andreas Mindt.
The new Golf 7 was introduced on 7 February to the motoring media in Port Elizabeth, and itâ€™s here where I met Andreas, and he personally took me around the car. He is part of the Golf 7 design team and is specifically responsible for the exterior design. The way the car looks, is thus this manâ€™s fault which isnt a bad thing. He previously worked for VW, Porsche en Bentley, but the Golf 7 is his biggest job thus far because it is one of the VW groupâ€™s most important cars. If they trust you with the design of the new Golf, then you must be pretty damn good.
Truth be told Iâ€™ve never been a huge Megane fan. The styling has always been a little overwhelming and the performance uninspiring. I canâ€™t comment on the sportier models as Iâ€™ve never driven one of those, but the ones I have driven, all the 1.4 and 1.6 models have been somewhat disappointing. Then one day I was expecting delivery of another â€śnormalâ€ť Megane when around the corners comes one of these new-fangled metallic brown cars with big, 17â€ť wheels and daytime running lights and sure enough it was my Megane. Suffice to say I was impressed, but I had no idea of all the surprises.
It didnâ€™t have a fancy body kit and sport trimmings, but it somehow just looked right and I realised every Renault Iâ€™ve driven had small wheels. Itâ€™s really amazing the huge difference the correct size wheels make. If all the bits on a car are correctly proportioned the whole thing just seems to make sense. Another thing that makes more sense to me is a diesel Megane because even though this is yet another 1.6 itâ€™s a turbo diesel and the torque this little engine produces is almost beyond belief.
The 96kW of power this four pot kicks out wonâ€™t ruffle anyoneâ€™s feathers, but the 320NM of torque means you can almost literally fly because it accelerates like a slingshot. Thereâ€™s nothing but diesel clatter for a little while and then suddenly you sail past everyone without really trying to speed. This is without any doubt the pick of the range and at R270 000 its bit of a performance bargain also. It does the obligatory 0 to 100km/h sprint in just under 10 seconds, but trust me it feels faster and you get all this performance for under five litres of ultra low sulphur diesel per 100km.
Yes these are manufacturer claims, but Iâ€™m willing to believe them just because I loved driving this car. The colour also makes a really classy style statement and that almost bronze hue combined with the big wheels actually made some people mistake it for a Porsche Panamera from the rear. The styling is Gallic, not exactly pretty, but its in your face and very French. Iâ€™ve always admired the pride French manufacturers seem to have in their avant-garde styling and because of this attitude the cars look proud also.
In my mind I see very stylish tall woman driving this car. Its very spacious and the interior is relaxed and comfortable. Im still not a fan of Renaultâ€™s interiors, the dashboards in particular just dont wow me. I cant find fault with the design, its just the plastics I donâ€™t like very much, but itâ€™s a personal choice thing because lots of people love them. The gearbox isnâ€™t awe inspiring and you certainly wont confuse it with something like a Honda unit, but its geared for economy I guess and what excellent economy it delivers. The clutch as well as the steering is also lady friendly being light and easy to use, but it doesnâ€™t really communicate so the handling is compromised for the enthusiastic driver, but the rest of us will love driving this car on a daily basis. Its just so relaxed, comfortable and powerful, it makes me wonder why more people donâ€™t buy Renaults.
Turns out the smaller petrol engine Renaults are not for me, but im in love with a brown, diesel Megane. Its amazing how engine choice can make or break a car because all petrol engine French cars Iâ€™ve driven felt underpowered with the huge consumption benefit at the pumps, but it turns out you can have the best of both worlds if you opt for a French oil burner, but remember it needs to be a brown one.
The fantastic new Honda Civic hatch has restored my faith in all things Japanese. Honda has always been a bit pricier, but theyâ€™ve always offered us higher quality vehicles in terms of materials, fit, finish and features when compared to the other Japanese manufacturers. Honda is also famed for their bulletproof engineering, fantastic gearboxes, crisp handling, and addictive high revving engine noises.
The new Civic lives up to all expectations and even surpasses a few because I never thought a Honda would make me feel like a superhero. It might look like a Japanese Anime characterâ€™s getaway car, which is not a bad thing, but the ride and handling feels very German indeed. Solid, classy and surefooted with the only obvious noises come from the turbo, but I love that sound and the giant 18â€ť wheels and tyres do backing vocals. The interior feels very familiar and is quite similar to the previous generation, but nicely updated and solid with no squeaks or rattles. The seats could be a bit more supportive and I would have loved them lower also, but due to the fuel tank being under those front seats I completely accept the trade off since this design gives you a huge luggage space at the back and the rear seats fold completely flat. Throw them flat and remove the luggage cover and the space in the back starts to look like a half ton bakkie. I donâ€™t even need to exaggerate because everyone I showed this too could not believe their eyes. It looks very compact due to its curvy design and coupe profile, but donâ€™t be fooled. This car is exceptionally practical and that diesel engine loves cruising at illegal velocities. It just picks up so quickly you honestly donâ€™t realise it and since its so comfortable and stable at speed you donâ€™t notice going over 120km/h, so I ended up driving with the cruise control most of the time.
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Itâ€™s definitely a Mitsubishi. It even looks a lot like the well-known and popular Mitsubishi Outlander SUV. It has the exact same grille and the headlights look very similar, but the Mitsubishi ASX is a soft roader in every sense of the word. It might go against the long and revered Mitsubishi off roading history with true desert conquering vessels like the Pajero and Pajero Sport, but todayâ€™s car buyer doesnâ€™t care much for low range transfer cases and ladder frame chassis.
You see, today if you look the part you are sorted. If your SUV looks like a SUV, itâ€™s more than good enough because less than 20% of even proper 4X4 vehicles ever go off-road. In fact a study recently showed that most consumers consider gravel road driving, off roading. This led to more and more manufacturers selling vehicles that look like SUVs to the general public. The ASX is a case in point, although in its defence the ASX does have a decent and useable ride height, perfect for gravel roads, but even the dealer asked me to take it easy and remain on tarred roads.
Despite the rising cost of fuel, both petrol and diesel, small SUVs and crossovers are all the rage. People buy them and manufactures are happy to produce them. The ASX for instance is so comfortable and car like in its manner, itâ€™s almost scary. Yes you sit high and it feels like you are sitting in an SUV, but you soon realise itâ€™s a car by the way it turns in easily, has a small turning circle and even the fuel economy is car like and brilliant at a mere nine litres per 100km. the performance is also car like and you get to 100km/h in about ten seconds. You get all the space benefits like a high roof and seating for five adults plus a big boot like a proper 4X4, but none of the drawbacks like high fuel consumption, lethargic handling and expensive maintenance. You see a normal car workshop or mechanic can maintain it for you after the standard five year/90 000km service plan runs out. The engine is transversely mounted like a normal passenger car and itâ€™s a normal two litre, four cylinder petrol unit producing a very usable 110kW of power. Nothing complicated or strange so really maintenance wonâ€™t ever need to be a concern. Even the gearbox is a simple and smooth five speed unit, but Iâ€™ve heard the optional CVT gearbox is very slow, so opt for the manual instead.
What you have here is the best of both worlds with the economy, performance, ride and handling of a normal passenger car and the space, usability, look and feel of a SUV. It might not be a historically correct Mitsubishi SUV, but it certainly speaks to a modern audience who want such a vehicle.
For the asking price of R299 900 you certainly get a lot of car for your money. We are talking about power steering, electric windows, climate control aircon, leather seats, giant glass roof with electric sunscreen, keyless entry and keyless start. The sound system is modern and plays all formats of music including MP3 and even inputs music directly through your cell phoneâ€™s USB cable, iPod or Auxiliary cables, then thereâ€™s still the in-dash six disc CD shuttle. Itâ€™s truly a comprehensive package for the price, especially if you consider the safety kit which includes seven airbags, ABS brakes and stability control.
So will I recommend this car for purchase? I certainly would, but not before looking at the new Honda C-RV, Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai.
The Germans need to be very concerned. You see the Hyundai i30 might not be the segment leader just yet, but the speed at which this brand has progressing and developing its products is absolutely astounding.Â Iâ€™ve always liked Hyundai merely for the great value they offer customers in terms of spec, price and service, but these days the quality is right up there with the best.
Â Sure we can nit-pick and say its not as good as a VW Golf, but nothing is as good as a Golf. My real concern is that the previous generation i30 could not even be mentioned in the same breath as a Golf but two years later the new model is considered competition. Can you imagine how good the next generation model is going to be?
Hyundai made a statement saying that they are not concerned with being the biggest, but will rather focus on quality. This approach is obviously working because not only is the new i30 very well put together, its also very attractive. It doesnâ€™t have giant wheels or fancy spoilers and expensive LED lights, but it turned heads wherever I went in the little beauty.
The 1.6 GLS appears to be great value at R230 000 and even if this 95kW engine does not translate into great performance, it certainly is very refined and economical.Â The six speed gearbox is smooth and very easy to modulate with the light clutch and really I couldnâ€™t fault the controls. Thereâ€™s no fancy independent suspension here, but it handles very well and actually liked being pushed through corners. So the handling surprised and itâ€™s very well appointed in terms of feature count. Six airbags are standard as well as ABS, then thereâ€™s a high quality sound system, aircon, cruise control, remote central locking, aircon, power steering with a new three mode selection feature that tightens or loosens steering feel as you require and a host of buttons and lights to entertain yourself with as you drive along. Even cruise control is standard and I feel this requires special mention as its an optional extra on much more expensive cars and if Hyundai can give to you free of charge, why are the others making you pay?
So it handles well, has enough power, a 300 liter boot and space for five adults. It looks great and has an extensive features list including nice to haves like mags and foglights. Its one of the most refined cars in the segment without any doubt and its very comfortable. The five year, 100 000km service plan can not be overlooked and its just basically a great car for the money. I keep asking myself why we are still buying anything else because yes, Hyundai really is that good and they are only getting better. Best you pop into a Hyundai dealer the next time you feel like something new because honestly the Koreans cant be ignored any longer.
I see more and more of the Giulietta on our roads these days and itÂ looks as if Alfa is finally receiving the attention it deserves. YouÂ see the Italian car maker had some reliability issues a few years agoÂ and its been sorted out since, but it gave their reputation quite aÂ knock and things like sales and resale value really suffered.
The latest range of Alfa Romeo vehicles have however turned all thatÂ around with cars like the Alfa Romeo Mito, Giulietta and soon to beÂ replaced, Alfa Romeo 159. The Mito in particular is maintaining strongÂ resale values as its highly sought after by particularly female buyersÂ and the Giuletta is playing the style card as its easily the bestÂ looking vehicle in its segment.
Many wont agree with me, but if you take off all the badges and parkÂ the premium badged C-segment contenders next to each other you willÂ quickly notice how the Giulietta just has an air about it, a presenceÂ the others cant seem to muster up. The Italians really know how toÂ design and the Giulietta just shows how they took a relatively boring dimensions and made something truly special. The car almost looksÂ emotional and donâ€™t think im being biased because im not a fan of AlfaÂ Romeoâ€™s frontal design. The nose and front overhang looks too long andÂ the badge is over complicated, too prominent and the entire frontÂ design seems to depend on it. Almost as if the rest of the front wasÂ designed around it. Strangely it works somehow, but really its tooÂ fussy at the front of both the Mito and Giulietta. The rest of both cars look sublime and like I mentioned before, almostÂ emotional, but thatâ€™s not all.
Build quality is also excellent withÂ high quality materials used throughout. Even the interiors impressÂ with a feeling of solidity and quality im use to only experiencingÂ inside the Germans. Not quite on that level yet, but certainly gettingÂ very close, very quickly. Just a tad too much affordable plastic onÂ those dash boards to be considered premium.Â What Alfa does not skimp on is safety and equipment. Six airbags, fiveÂ star Euro N-Cap rating, cruise control, climate control, the listÂ really goes on and on, so itâ€™s a great value offering. FuelÂ consumption is very low at about seven liters per 100km and the sixÂ year/90 000km service plan is class leading.
Ride quality is where Alfa Romeo seems to have the edge, because evenÂ with big 18â€ť wheels the ride is still very comfortable, refined andÂ well balanced. Its softer than your Audi or BMW and certainly you getÂ a bit more body roll in the twisty stuff, but the trade off feelsÂ better. See I believe most people donâ€™t drive that fast so donâ€™tÂ require suspensions as stiff as what the Germans make us believe.Â There should be a balance between comfort and handling and Alfa RomeoÂ leans more toward comfort which I think is great because there reallyÂ are enough boy racers out there as it is. The Giulietta I believeÂ caters to a more mature audience, not in age but in thinking. SomeoneÂ who is not prepared to forego comfort for the sake of a second fasterÂ lap time.
The 1.4 MultiAir Distinctive TCT model I received produces about 125kWÂ which is quite a Â bit for a 1.4 and its excellently paired with theÂ new dual clutch transmission. I love VW and Audiâ€™s S-Tronic and DSGÂ dual clutch autoboxes, but Alfaâ€™s is smoother. There I said it.Â Especially on pull away, Alfaâ€™s twin clutch transmission as they callÂ it, is noticeably less hesitant than the Audi/VW versions. Its alsoÂ fast for a big car with a small engine, requiring only about eightÂ seconds to get to 100km/h from standstill.
Great as it is, its up against segment leaders like BMWâ€™s 1 Series,Â the very popular Audi A3 and donâ€™t forget about the Golf7 coming inÂ February.Â Its very pretty, refined, good quality, premium badged, with greatÂ ride quality and comfort and due to the relatively low sales volumesÂ itâ€™s a bit exclusive, so think about it and consider the ItalianÂ alternative before you sign on that dotted line.
The Honda Civic has a pretty strong following in South Africa,Â especially amongst the rev happy Honda Boy brigade and they usuallyÂ only go for the TypeR version in red, black or white, but little doÂ they know that the lesser models offer excellent value for money onÂ top of striking good looks and decent performance should you stay inÂ the Vtec rev range.
The 1.8i-VTEC Executive I got to test came in a dull grey body colour,Â leather seats and a cute reverse view camera which made parallelÂ parking very entertaining and easy. The 17â€ť wheels could have come inÂ a funkier design, but the overall look was quite handsome if notÂ nearly as radical as the previous generation model.
Most people describe this as well as the previous generation CivicÂ hatch as â€śspace shipâ€ť looking and yes it is quite striking, but HondaÂ somehow made the new one look less tense. Despite the small exteriorÂ dimensions, its very roomy inside as the folks at Honda are absoluteÂ engineering geniuses! The boot looks small from the outside, but openÂ that hatch and youâ€™ll get the fright of your life. It is huge becauseÂ the fuel tank is under the front seats and not anywhere near the back,Â so all the space below the luggage bay and rear seats are optimallyÂ utilized. The rear seats fold flat into the floor which means you getÂ a flat bed surface that will put small bakkies to shame.
Performace on this 1.8i-VTEC is adequate, if not exactly impressive asÂ you need to stay in the VTEC range to get your hands on the claimedÂ 104kW. Zero to 100km/h takes about nine seconds which is respectable,Â but torque is on the low side at 174Nm and that only makes anÂ appearance at 4300RPM which means you get great fuel economy but atÂ the expense of what should have been entertaining performance for aÂ 1.8 costing R270 000.
I canâ€™t fault the build quality, ergonomics, features list or rideÂ quality which are all excellent, but I yearned for more power. Itâ€™s aÂ very sensible car taking all that space, practicality and great fuelÂ economy of about seven liters per 100km into consideration, so itÂ certainly has a place in todayâ€™s safety and economy conscious marketÂ place. It boasts a five star EuroNCAP safety rating, six airbags andÂ some of the best engineering in the world as Honda is on the forefrontÂ where technical innovation is concerned, but I really wanted a bitÂ more torque, especially when overtaking.
So, is the new Honda Civic a good car or not? Itâ€™s a great car and itÂ only falls short on performance, so as long as you have no F1Â aspirations you will have a terrific ownership experience, but if youÂ like going fast, hold on for the TypeR or consider the 2.2i-DTECÂ diesel model which I absolutely love!