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Drive Team Editor: Russell Bennett Deputy Editor: Steve Allison Editorial Contributors: Russell Bennett, Steve Allison, Kyle Stone, Bruce Bennett, Christo Valentyn, Bob Allison

Art Contributors: Heide-Marie Botes AVC

Management: Russell Bennett, Steve Allison

Advertising Sales: Photography: Steve Allison Photographic,, direct from manufacturers All data contained in this magazine is for


he internet is indeed a weird and wondrous thing. But the way it’s viewed, particularly by a fairly traditionalist-dominated market like motoring, is downright nonsensical.

information only and every effort is made to ensure its accuracy. However reviews, comment and instruction are the views of the authors and may contain inadvertent errors, for which Drive apologises but takes no responsibility for any actions of any person resulting from the use of information contained herein. Any prospective contributor or correspondant submitting unsolicited material with a view to its publication

Our Drive Magazine sales rep has been out to a few clients now who are dead keen on getting some coverage in the magazine, as we’re now doing pretty decent numbers and continue to grow our monthly readership stats healthily while traditional print publications continue to see decline. So, naturally, these customers are dead keen to tap into this market through some objective editorial coverage.

automatically grant Drive license to publish such material in whole or in part in any edition of this magazine. Any material submitted is at the risk of the sender and Drive cannot be held liable or accountable for its loss or damage.



But, when it comes to talk of supporting the magazine with advertising, exactly the same as is done in the world of print, a couple of these potential customers were quite literally flabbergasted that we, heaven forbid, would actually need some money in order to display their ad APRIL 2010

E ds W el c o m e and the fees of the flip-format host Issuu. But we also have no cover price.

in our digital magazine! There seems to be a complete disconnection here. Perhaps it’s also the fact that the magazine itself is free, coupled with a similar perception of the Web as a platform, that forms the foundation for this problem. Problem for us, at least. The thing is, even without our stylish design and the costs associated with this process, the same as a print magazine incurs, there are also little things like paying our contributors and staff for the valuable, totally original content they produce. But apparently we ought to just be able to download them some apple pie from the States for their families to tuck into. Or something. So I’d like to take this opportunity to just demystify things slightly here. A print magazine, running in the sweet spot, effectively pays for its distribution and print bill with cover sales. A digital publication like ours has no print costs, and minimal distribution costs bar hosting AP R I L 2 0 1 0

So the only feasible way to keep the magazine and site running, is through advertising revenues. These are, exclusively, the bread-and-butter of digital titles like our own. Yet advertisers fully expect that we charge either nothing or an absolute pittance, despite the fact that the magazine renders A4 ads in all the glory and clarity they were originally designed, with perfect colour reproduction and a high impact every time. Well nevertheless, enough of my ranting. We’ve got several interesting new cars this month and its obvious the C-segment hatchback market is hotting up, with the new Polo having been through our office for testing this month, the launch of the more value-oriented Polo Vivo, and Hyundai’s first foray into this patch, the local i30 launch (at last). Of course if your budget is particularly paltry, there’s also a road test on the Chery J1. Have a look, then go buy a Vivo. Trust us. We do hope you continue to enjoy reading what we’re putting together each month, and remember that passion is the most powerful fuel that there is.

Russell Bennett



6 News Our selection of the most interesting motoring news of the past month, and there are some tasty surprises in here this month...

28 Drive news feature Michelin Power Pure unveiled

32 Drive Launch Feature Polo for the proletariat – New VW Polo Vivo, a worthy replacement for the revered Citi?

38 Drive Launch Feature It’s all in the is - Hyundai i30 set to take on midsized hatch challenge.

44 Drive Feature Ride like the wind – We get the opportunity to try out Honda’s Riding Academy.

50 Drive Feature Wake up and smell the exhaust fumes – The punitive “emissions tax” coming our way and ridiculously obvious government racketeering.

56 Drive columns Know the difference between irony and, well, a girder? Read Russell’ s column for a hint, while Steve ponders a growing trend of downright nastiness on our roads.

62 Drive Versus Big Surprise! - Chrysler 300C SRT-8 squares up to Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, with some surprising, and some not-so-surprising conclusions.

76 Drive Versus Street Touring – Kawasaki GTR 1400 faces Honda VFR 1200. As usual, we disagree with the norm in the end..

88 Drive Tests Dodge Journey CRD R/T

96 Drive Tests Citroen C5 2.0 HDI

104 Drive Tests Audi A4 2.0 TSI StopStart

112 Drive Tests VW Polo 1. 4 Trendline

118 Drive Tests Chery J1

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A 6

nyone remotely interested in performance motoring will at the very least have heard of Mercedes AMG’s 63 motor, their mad


V8 that AMG seem intent on putting in virtually every single one of their vehicles. And for good reason, sure it could hardly be described as the most frugal engine around but who cares when the APRIL 2010

News performance delivered is so staggering. All good things must come to an end I guess, and not even the mighty 63 can escape its fate it seems, the new 63 will be a 5.5L biturbo V8. Of course being as it is that the new 63 has forced induction as opposed to the outgoing 63’s natural aspiration, this isn’t actually the downgrade it may seem like on first impression.

5.5L V8 equipped with two turbos is nigh impossible, but then every manufacturer on the planet essentially lies about fuel economy. So given that and the fact that in cars like the S 63 fuel economy is largely irrelevant we’ll let that little white lie slide. The S 63 will have a start/stop function in the “Controlled Efficiency” driving mode of the gearbox, which will obviously help cut

The new 5.5L V8, know at AMG as the

down on the fuel bill when sitting in traf-

M 157, will be making 420kW/571HP

fic, which is where the current 63 really

at 5500rpm when it debuts later this


year. The big power is backed up by a mountain of torque, 900Nm at 2500-

So by now you’ve maybe noticed that I

3750rpm to be precise. Those fig-

quite like this new 63, but just in case

ures however are only applicable with

you hadn’t figured it out here are some

AMG’s Performance package fitted,

of the features of this motor you should

without the package power will be a

get excited about. For the first time

measly 400kW/544HP and only 800Nm

AMG is making use of direct injection

of torque. Why bother? Okay, in truth

with spray-guided combustion and pie-

even those stats are very impressive,

zo-electric injectors, which apparently

and all the Performance package does

helps with fuel efficiency due to su-

is dial up the biturbo boost from 1.0 to

perior thermodynamic efficiency. The

1.3 bar.

crankcase is all-aluminium, keeping the overall weight of the engine down

The first of what will no doubt be many

to 204kg dry.

AMG cars to receive the new 63 is the S 63, which will use AMG’s SPEED-

It’s sure to be an awesome engine, so

SHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmis-

much so that I really want one. Not ac-

sion. Now AMG claim that this com-

tually in a car or anything, I’d just put it

bination in the S 63 will return fuel

in the lounge and rev it whenever I felt

economy of 10.5L/100km, which for a

the urge.

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



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n a move that could possibly result in a series of the biggest crashes you’ve ever seen, Mercedes have taken the boss of AMG, you know, those insane guys from Stuttgart with no regard for rear tires, and put him in charge of their van division. Now given AMG’s penchant for putting their 6.3 V8 in absolutely everything they can get their hands on, and combine that with the inherent lack of handling, aerodynamics or just general dynamics in vans, well you can see there might 8


be a problem here. Still, as Clarkson always says, when in doubt-power, and there should be no shortage of that. Volker Mornhinweg took over the Mercedes van division on the 1st of April, which had it been announced on that date I would have thought for sure it was an April Fools joke, but the news came before that. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if it is true then.

APRIL 2010



he VW Polo has rounded off a dominant performance by VAG at the 2010 World Car of the Year ceremony held at the New York International Auto Show by clinching the illustrious World Car of the Year award. Audi clinched the performance award as well with their R8 V10, and let’s also not forget that in 2009 the Car of the Year award was bestowed upon VW’s other volume seller, the Golf VI. VAG really seem to have won the hearts and minds of the international press in recent years, and rightly so too. AP R I L 2 0 1 0

VAG also picked up awards in another, completely ridiculous category, the World Green Car of the Year. This award was actually not given to a specific model of VW’s but rather their BlueMotion product brand consisting of the Golf, Passat, and Polo. It is nice however to see the World Car of The Year organisation acknowledge that toxic batteries and heavy electric motors have nothing to do with saving the environment as BlueMotion’s aren’t hybrids, even if it was in desperate need of saving. DRIVE M AGAZINE


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MW have unveiled the 2011 5-Series Touring in Leipzig, and I’ve got to ask; is there anything BMW won’t do to make the 5-Series ugly. There’s no doubt just like every 5-Series it’ll be an engineering masterpiece, too bad it has to have the style equivalent to a wet dog.

on is boot capacity, an area in which the 5-Series Touring is well equipped. Boot capacity is 560 litres but can be increased to1,670 litres with the seats folded down. Unfortunately if you want more riveting information on the boot you’ll have to look elsewhere, I’m sure there are many innovations in the boot as the press release sure went on about

Right, this is a wagon, so first and

it, but really who cares. It’s big, on to

foremost on the priority list for a wag-

the engines.



APRIL 2010

News will produce 135 kW/184 bhp and feature common rail direct injection and an aluminium crankcase. The other diesel engine will be popped into the 530d Touring and make 180 kW/245 bhp. The proper engines in the 5-Series Touring will of course be petrol powered, the inevitable 535i Touring is there boasting BMW’s 3.0L twin turbo straight six. The 535i Touring is the range topper with 225 kW/306 bhp. Slotting in below the 530d is the 523i Touring with its naturally aspirated petrol motor with 150 kW/204 bhp. BMW are offering 5-Series Touring customers some nifty suspension features, along with a horrible design. Optional Dynamic Driving Control for example allows for individual suspension settings. Then there is as standard on the The engine options feature all the usu-

rear axle pneumatic suspension, which

al suspects; two straight six petrol mo-

means automatic self-leveling for the

tors and also two diesel options. There

5-Series Touring.

is a six cylinder diesel as well as quite shockingly a four cylinder diesel. A 5-Series should not have a four cylinder engine, minimum of six cylinders I say. BMW make such great sixes anyway, why do any less in one of your premium ranges? Nevertheless the 520d Touring, powered by the turbo diesel four AP R I L 2 0 1 0





he New York Auto Show recently played host to the 2010 World Car of the Year Awards ceremony, and in the World Performance Car category Audi has romped off with the crown. Audi’s awesome R8 V10 took the prize, the second time the R8 has won this award following the original V8 powered R8’s victory in 2008.

ving V10. The 5.2 FSI V10 motor produces 386kW/525hp from its midship position, and a fantastic soundtrack I might add. All that power is of course channeled through Audi’s famous quattro permanent all-wheel drive system pushing the R8 on to a top speed of 316km/h. The R8 isn’t the only car with which

Those of you unaware of the R8’s cre-

Audi have captured the World Perform-

dentials which justify its title of 2010

ance Car of the Year award, in 2007

World Performance Car, pay attention.

the Audi RS4 received the prestigious

The R8 can propel itself from 0-100km/h

award. This latest 2010 victory brings

in just 3.9s thanks to a Lamborghini

to three the number of times Audi have

sourced (try getting Audi to admit that

won this particular award.

though) 5.2L direct injection high revAP R I L 2 0 1 0



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he Renault-Nissan alliance has entered into a co-operation deal with Daimler with the two groups respective small cars apparently being the focus of the co-operation. Daimler and Renault-Nissan are set to work together on the next generation of the smart fortwo and Renault Twingo, which includes the planned introduction of electric versions for these vehicles. Unsurprisingly in this age of platform sharing, powertrain development and thus powertrain sharing seems to be the main thrust of the partnership.

and diesel motors from Renault-Nissan will be heading for the new smart and Twingo. Daimler will provide engines for Infiniti to hold up their end of the deal, Infiniti is Nissan’s luxury arm so they might actually get some decent engines out of Daimler. Mercedes will also be getting engines in this partnership, their Vito van will be getting diesel power from Renault-Nissan. To make all this rampant engine sharing official, each organisation will take a small share in each others business, 3.1% to be precise, not 3% but 3.1%.

This obviously begs the question as

That was probably the Germans being

to which engines will be shared, given

precise just for the sake of being pre-

that this collaboration is in the field of

cise. In truth the deal is far more com-

smaller cars, I’m guessing AMG’s V8’s

plicated but let’s just stick with 3.1% for

aren’t going to be on the list, a shame

now. The fruits of this partnership how-

really, I’ve always wondered what would

ever are only said to be arriving in 2013

happen if Renault made a hot hatch

for the compact cars, as that is when

Sandero with a 6.3L V8 sitting where

the jointly developed smart and Twingo

the rear seats and boot should be. No,

models will be appearing on the roads.

that won’t be the case, but rather petrol 14


APRIL 2010



UD’s have been around for awhile now but they’ve only really appeared on the windscreens of performance monsters and even then they were rather limited and rare. GM’s vision of the future hopes to change all that with an almost complete re-think of HUD’s.

fog, we could use the vehicle’s infrared cameras to identify where the edge of the road is and the lasers could ‘paint’ the edge of the road onto the windshield so the driver knows where the edge of the road is.” So how exactly does it all work? The windshield itself is coated in trans-

GM has been working with numerous

parent phosphors, whatever they are,

universities on this project aimed at im-

which emit visible light when activated

proving road safety, and is a full wind-

by a compact laser. This transforms the

shield system utilising night vision, navi-

entire windscreen into a large transpar-

gation and camera based technologies.

ent display. There is also automated

Thomas Seder, group lab manager-GM

sign-reading technology which can be

R&D explained an interesting scenario

integrated into the HUD, nicked from

in which all these technologies could

the Opel Insignia which debuted the

combine: “Let’s say you’re driving in

Opel Eye system in 2009.

AP R I L 2 0 1 0





oyota South Africa has expanded their RAV4 range of vehicles with the RAV4 2.0GX Automatic, the automatic gearbox will only have four gears and will will join the range’s only other automatic the higher specced RAV4 2.0 VX Auto.

out 194 Nm at 4 000 rpm. As with the entire range, the GX is four wheel drive and also boasts McPherson struts in the front suspension. The RAV4 range was upgraded stylistically in 2009 and the GX benefits from these changes as well. There’s full col-

With a price tag of R309 800 for a RAV4 2.0 GX, you’ll get a tried and trusted 112kW/152hp 2.0L petrol motor, and that’s about it really. Toyota seem intent on pushing the proven reliability of this engine gearbox combination already found in the VX, and I don’t blame them considering Toyota’s continuing problems regarding their recalls. The 2.0L motor is a 16 valve VVT-i, Toyota speak for variable valve timing, and

our coding, rear light clusters utilising LED lights, and even 17 inch wheels. The GX has a multi-terrain ABS-system and even no less than seven airbags, and, well actually I’ve run out of things to say in truth. It is a Toyota after all, dependable and reliable but not all that exciting, unless your throttle’s jammed open of course. Then again that’s exciting in the same way that getting shot at is exciting, wears thin fairly quickly.

alongside its 112kW the motor torques AP R I L 2 0 1 0



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enault really do know how to make gorgeous cars, case in point the new Laguna Coupe has just entered the South African market and it is a stunner. The elegant and soft lines complementing the Laguna seemingly from every angle, and it’ll no doubt be specced to the nines as well. The only problem I can see on first impression is the motor, a 3.5L 18


V6, which in the stats at least is less than impressive. Considering however that Renault are targeting the Boxster with the Laguna I guess there’s power aplenty if you make a direct comparison. The engineering in the Laguna certainly is ambitious, boasting as it does Renault’s 4Control chassis, which is a joint development between Renault’s APRIL 2010

News engineers


rear wheels actually turn in the opposite


direction to the front wheels creating a


much tighter turning circle that wouldn’t

The 4Control chassis

usually be possible for a platform of

is essentially an elec-

the Laguna’s size. The turning circle


for the Laguna is thus a class leading

RS Sport



monitored allowing


10,1m. As mentioned for speeds above

dynamic control of the

60km/h the system works in a far less

chassis. Vehicle data

alien manner as they turn in the same

such as speed and

direction as the fronts.

steering wheel angle is fed into a computer

It isn’t just steering that 4 active wheels

along with other info

can be of benefit, when under heavy

such as yaw and steer-

breaking which also often includes

ing wheel movements,

emergency evasive maneuvers the dy-

all this data is then

namic system can automatically adjust

used to implement the

the steering angle of the rear wheels by

Laguna’s party trick, 4

up to 3.5 degrees to ensure directional

wheel steering. Once





steering angle of the

So it seems to be packed with tech, but

rear wheels has been

then there is a reason 4 wheel steering

determined, an electric

systems aren’t all that common consid-

actuator motor on the

ering their potential advantages. The

rear axle swings into action to turn the

complexity of 4 wheel steering systems


tend to result in unreliability and high maintenance costs. And remember this

The benefits of 4 wheel steering can be

is a Renault, a French car, rightly or

found at both low and higher speeds,

wrongly they hardly have a reputation

low speed maneuverability is improved

for reliability and mechanical integrity.

but when the speedo travels beyond 60km/h steering stability and precision

On to the engine, and quite frankly

is improved. For the low speed stuff, the

based on the figures given Renault

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



N e ws could do better. Now remember that the Laguna is supposed to be a flagship model for Renault so one is supposed to be impressed, not underwhelmed. The Laguna sports a 3.5L V6, which is a good enough start, but maximum power is 175kW at 6,000rpm. From 3.5L, that’s not enough in my mind, in the age of forced induction the Laguna is running the risk of getting outrun by far smaller competition. I’m probably in the minority here, considering what the Laguna sets out to achieve, 175kW is about right, but I’m still not impressed. And up here on the highveld the Laguna could prove me right, we’ll have to wait for a road test though. The torque output is equally disappointing, if not more so, 330Nm at 4,00rpm. One can only assume this motor is going to require a lot of revs and the power will always seem unavailable with such low torque figures. The Laguna has however received the maximum 5 stars in Euro NCAP crash tests with a total score of 36/37. It’s well equipped too with premium features such as Bose sound and TomTom navigation. And all for only R499 900, a decent price indeed. Although for half a million, and I hate to harp on about this, but 175kW and 330Nm is not enough grunt. Then again at that price, with those looks, Renault could very well have hit the mark, power wise included. 20


APRIL 2010



ord has done the deed, the sale of of their Swedish division Volvo has gone through to Geely, the Chinese firm paying $1.8 billion for Volvo. The sale, officially signed off on the 28th of March, includes Volvo intellectual property and assets, and will be concluded in the third quarter of 2010 with Geely taking 100% ownership of Volvo. AP R I L 2 0 1 0

Despite the ownership deal meaning a 100% stake for geely, Ford will continue to cooperate with Volvo post sale in the form of powertrains, stampings and various components. The aid is said to be part of the deal to ensure a smooth transition process.



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h the cruelty, Ford South Africa really do know how to rub it in don’t they. Petrolheads all over the land have for a long tim been bemoaning the fact that Ford refuse to bring the awesome Focus RS in, and now it seems it’ll never happen, although I think we’ve all known the current RS would never grace our shores. Ford have announced a special edition Focus RS500 to commemorate the end of production for the current Focus RS. Ford are only making 500 of these 257kW hot hatches, and it looks just awesome. Also, Revo Knuckles, who wouldn’t want a car with those? The RS500 still has a 5 cylinder 2.5L motor, but it’s been tuned just a little bit more than it already was, so that 22


power is now 257kW/350HP, which is a 15% power boost over the standard RS. Torque too has been beefed up, it’s now 460Nm compared to 440Nm in the standard model. The RS500 looks the part as well with a hulking silent assassin style finished in unique matte black ‘foil’ paint and matching 19-inch alloy wheels. Sadly, although to be expected, the 500 RS500’s destined to roll of the Ford assembly line in Saarlouis Germany will only be available in 20 European markets. As the RS500 is a limited edition each one will be emblazoned with a metal plaque on the centre console, hand engraved with each vehicles unique number. APRIL 2010



MW have the M division, Mercedes have AMG, and Audi have their RS range. It really was only a matter of time then considering everyone else has one, yes, the people’s car is getting a performance division, the R division.

The question however is what exactly the R division is going to do? VW already have the Golf R and Scirocco R prepped and ready to go shortly, and those two models are the only truly sporty foundations in the VW stable. I can’t see a Fox R anytime soon, maybe the forthcoming Polo GTI could get an

VW have formally established Volkswagen R GmbH who will specialise in exclusive sporty models from Volkswagen. The R factory is located not far from VW’s Wolfsburg headquarters in Warmenau and is packed to the rafters

R badge but beyond that I can’t see it. And besides, wasn’t the whole point of buying two premium sporty brands in Porsche and Audi supposed to allow VW to play in that market without doing it themselves?

with more than 350 staffers.

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



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ubaru have finally removed the cloth from their new Impreza’s, their performance flagship the WRX STI and WRX. The official reveal recently took place at the New York International Auto Show, and thank the maker the STI has a boot again, no doubt influenced by the huge success of the regular WRX’s return to boot sta24


tus last time round. For both the WRX and WRX STI there will be 4 and 5 door options available, so sedan or hatch. And whilst in truth these latest Impreza offerings from Subaru are hardly revolutionary, does anyone care when the STI was designed with the underlying concept of making the “The Fastest WRX STI Ever.” Also, they’re wider and lower, which is always good for APRIL 2010


street racers.


accused of having a suspension too soft for its performance orientation. Considering also that the STI had its perform-

A bold statement to make by Subaru,

ance demeanor honed to perfection at

fastest STI ever that is, and it seems

the Nurburgring, one can only presume

that one of the most important ways in

the suspension will be rather stiff this

which they aimed to achieve their goal

time round.

was to finely tune the suspension. The previous STI, the hatch, was at times AP R I L 2 0 1 0







N e ws however Subaru has really gone to work, claiming several significant improvements in the STI over the previous STI. Firstly Subaru have done what all spots cars strive for, they’ve widened and lowered, the STI’s suspension has been dropped by 5mm to this end. Both front and rear suspension arms have been updated with the fronts now being of aluminium construction and the rear arm bushes have been switched to pillow-ball types. It doesn’t stop there though, coils have been overhauled, front and rear dampers too, but to avoid turning into a technical journal I think I’ll stop talking about suspension for now, just know that it’s all been done to get the STI back to its hardcore handling roots. The STI’s motor is far less bewildering, it’s still a 2.5L boxer producing 224kW/305hp@6000rpm with the aid of some




there’s the STI’s looks to consider, which besides the lower and wider stance, there isn’t much to report. There are the usual facelift type tweaks here and there, such as the corners of the bumpers having been enlarged, hands up anyone who actually noticed that on their own. There are also lightweight 18 inch aluminium rims as standard now or 18 inch BBS wheels as options, both with a high lustre finish. A new colour is also now available, “Plasma Blue Silica” 26


APRIL 2010


to be precise. In reality however eve-

ened by 38mm. In fact it seems that

ryone will only notice the gigantic rear

quite a bit has been widened, the new

wing so all this is academic frankly.

17 inch wheels are also wider and their


rubber too of course. All this widening does mean the WRX has put on some

The less manic Impreza WRX has also

weight, around 15kg but the grip and

been facelifted with both the 5-door

handling should be improved so the in-

hatch and 4-door sedan receiving a

creased weight is an acceptable trade

similar wide body kit to the STI, the


new design includes a re-envisioned front end, which looks exactly like the

Sadly the powertrain has been left un-

old nose. But hey, that’s the definition

touched, to be fair it is a rather spec-

of an automotive facelift, change very

tacular one at that, but still, all we’re

little whilst claiming to have changed

asking for is a tiny bit more boost from

a lot, so Subaru are on the right track

the 2.5L motors turbo. The power then


is still 195kW and 343 Nm of torque, just shy of 200kW, the excellent Sub-

The underlying engineering has been

aru AWD system can certainly handle

tweaked along the same lines as the

200, so what’s the problem?

body design, the track has been widAP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Fe a t ure


ive years after taking the market by storm when it introduced a dual-compound tyre, Michelin has just launched a brand new model, the Power Pure. This new tyre refines the concept of dual-compound rubber and offers us two-wheel fiends the best that modern technology can provide. There has always been a problem with motorcycle tyres. Bikes have to lean to go around corners and that’s the time you need the most grip. Go and get yourself a set of sticky race orientated tyres though and the centre wears out long before the sides. So do you just go for a harder compound touring tyre and sacrifice corner capability, or do you go for the ultimate cornering grip and just resign yourself to replacing them regularly at great personal expense? Neither, you go and get yourself a set of Power Pure tyres and you have the best of both worlds!

objectives designing the new tyre. Improve the grip, make it last longer and

The new Michelin Power Pure has been completely re-thought, from its components, structure, shape and rubber compounds to its manufacturing proc-

save some weight. All of which they achieved producing the most advanced sports tyre on the market. Pretty impressive stuff.

esses and design methodology. The Power Pure rear tyre uses a meThe Michelin R&D department had three 28


dium compound rubber across 40% of APRIL 2010

D r i v e F ea tur e

each side and the remaining 20% in the

generation of 1000cc sports bikes and

middle being a hard compound to avoid

let us loose on the Kyalami Race track

squaring the tyre off on long runs. The

to see if their clever engineers had re-

front tyre is made up of 25% mega-

ally achieved the results they wanted.

grippy soft compound on each side

The bikes in question were an Aprilia

with the centre 50% being a medium

RSV4, a BMW S1000R, a big-bang


Yamaha R1, a Suzuki GSX-R 1000 and of course the all conquering Honda

Michelin fitted the tyres to 5 of the latest AP R I L 2 0 1 0

Fireblade. The tyres were inflated to DRIVE M AGAZINE


road pressures and all the bikes were left with factory suspension settings so that we could evaluate the rubber in a much more real world environment. At least, that might have been the idea, but we were on a track and we rode the bikes as if it was a track test! I was a little bit apprehensive about running road pressures on a track but my concerns quickly disappeared. All of the bikes performed superbly with one exception. The temperamental little Italian, which is to all intents and APRIL 2010

D r i v e F ea tur e purposes a race bike with mirrors.

sures, I was impressed.

It wants a precise race set up for serious track work and wasn’t

The other European entry, the BMW,

happy with road pressures. The

even outshone the Honda and with all

Aprilia made several attempts to throw me off and at one point I had the front and rear sliding in unison! Fun, but rather heart-stopping for an ordinary man like me. All of the Japanese machines handled the situation with aplomb and the Fire-

of its electronic wizardry managed tyre

blade was the class of the field.

wear amazingly well. By the end of the

I managed a 2:05 lap. Consider-

session the rubber looked as though

ing no changes had been made

it had only been used for a single lap

to the suspension and the road



All in all the Power Pure is an excellent choice of rubber. The hard compound in the middle will ensure that your hoops will go the distance without squaring off. The softer compound on the sides offers race tyre grip in the twisties or on the track. It’s a simple but innovative solution from the rubber giant, and we approve wholeheartedly!

Steve Allison

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



vw polo vivo


he final hammer blow has been made, it is done. The Citi Golf has been replaced by, well it’s a Polo. No point in beating about the bush, especially not in a Polo, VW SA has done the inevitable really. They’ve taken the now previous generation Polo, added some eyeliner, given it a new badge and sent it on its way. Job done, replace a 30 year old legend in the blink of an eye. Also, you can now get a boot if you want one, not that many people will inevitably, the A0 segment has always been dominated by hatches.

Then again, what else was there to do? What VW SA needed was a Citi for the 21st century, a volume seller to act as the gateway to VW the brand. And if one reads all the moaning about the Citi as its career wound down, it is easy to see the three main shortcomings of the Citi in the 21st century. It had no air-con, no power steering and lastly was when compared to modern standards not exactly the safest car on the road. Additionally for VW itself, there were problems with economy of scale and keeping a completely separate platform going all by itself. The Polo then solves all these problems in one fell swoop, air-con is an option, there is power steering standard and apparently has airbags although I didn’t crash to find out.

D r ive Fe a t ure

The Vivo itself however is what we need

bumpers, new headlight surrounds and

to investigate here, not the Citi. On this

the like, but for the most part and for

all I’ve got to say is that if it looks like a

practical purposes is the same car.

Polo, which it does because it is, well, it’s a Polo; if it walks like a Polo, which

It does go quite nicely though, with any

it does, because again, it’s a Polo and if

of the engines, although obviously it’s

it smells like a Polo, then it probably is

all relative. There are three different

a Polo. That rather vague obscure an-

engines across the range, the weak-

ecdote does have a purpose, my point

est being a 1.4L 55kW motor, then

is that the Vivo doesn’t bring anything

there’s a 63kW 1.4L and lastly there

new to the table, but that isn’t a criti-

is the 77kW 1.6L. They’re all mated to

cism. The previous generation Polo,

a manual transmission, there isn’t an

which is now the Vivo, has been a seg-

auto option but apparently that should

ment leader for four years now, and for

arrive next year. What we have at the

good reason. Sure there are the usu-

moment is more than enough for this

al facelift type changes, redesigned

segment anyway. It’s certainly not a



APRIL 2010

D r i v e F ea tur e great high-speed vehicle, being a bit

to scratch for the segment. We hit an

loose with plenty of vertical up and

indicated 200km/h on a downhill in a

“In fact in this segment the Vivo really is one of the best performing cars out there,... “ down movement. It just doesn’t feel

1.4L, so the Vivo has power aplenty

planted at high speed, throw in some

to do it’s designated job, that’s com-

side winds for good measure (we were

mute on a budget. I was actually quite

in PE and the wind was howling) and

impressed with the power of the 1.4L

the Vivo can be a bit unsettling. We’re

relative to the 1.6L, so far as to say get

talking 160km/h + cruising here though,

the 1.4L as the 1.6L just doesn’t offer a

the Vivo was never intended to be that

huge upgrade for the additional cash.

sort of car. Overall the performance of

The 1.4L 63kW Trendline is 120 grand

the Vivo, regardless of engine was up

and probably the best bet. In fact in this

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Fe a t ure segment the Vivo really is one of the

er amenities. Not that people should

best performing cars out there, the only

complain, for two reasons. Firstly, and

gripe I had with the driving experience

I’ll go into more detail on this shortly,

was the sticky clutch pedal on the way

VW has gone to extensive lengths to

back up, not too much of a problem af-

do a workaround on the price to ease

ter awhile, just a little annoying.

the jump. VW are however out of the sub-100k market (The cheapest Vivo,

The launch of the Vivo had a possibly

a 2-door 1.4L hatch is R101 500), and

unintended benefit for VW. It was hot,

that’s not very Citi-like to me. Secondly,

in fact it was literally hotter than the sun

it’s what people have been asking for,

itself down in PE. On the road however,

safety features and power steering cost

despite the trying conditions, the Vivo

money people, be careful what you ask

was a pleasant and comfortable ride.

for I say.

The air-con worked wonders compared to say the Citi, which doesn’t have one,

In an attempt to alleviate the potential

and all the humps and bumps along

negative impact of departing from the

the way did little to upset the comfort

sub-100k, VWSA went to great lengths

level. The interior too was well put to-

to convince the journalists gathered

gether, with plenty of that famed Ger-

at their Uitenhage plant that the Vivo

man build quality present. It didn’t feel

wouldn’t work out more expensive than

right though when getting into the Citi’s

either the Citi or as they put it, a French

“As a replacement for the Citi, the Vivo is a good car, just a bit on the expensive side.” replacement and the handbrake levers

rival. They were comparing the Vivo

cover didn’t give the impression it would

to a Sandero if you can’t work it out.

one day come off, but I might be in the

There are several ways in which VW

minority there.

hopes to temper the price hike over the Citi, firstly they have put a lot of effort

So it is the quintessential Citi for the

into localising parts and components

21st century, the problem however is

supply, which means the Vivo should in

that it comes standard with 21st cen-

theory be cheaper to own and maintain,

tury prices as well as all those oth-

if not buy. Then there is the insurance,



APRIL 2010

D r i v e F ea tur e

according to VW, a Vivo will be signifi-

side. VW however say that the Vivo isn’t

cantly cheaper to insure compared to

a Citi replacement as it plays in the seg-

the Citi, as a result of the parts possi-

ment just above the Citi, and thus the

bly? The Vivo will also have much high-

price issue isn’t a problem. I completely

er resale value as the Citi heads for the

disagree, if you stop building and sell-

boneyard, this inherently higher resale

ing the Citi, then haul us all to PE to

value could also help coax insurers

show us what you’ll be doing instead

into lowering premiums. And if all that

of the Citi, that’s a Citi replacement. In

works then yes, the total cost of owner-

the end, as the cheapest VW in South

ship will be only marginally higher than

Africa the Vivo is affordable, comfort-

a Citi, but with much more quality than

able and has a proven track record for

a Citi. All the stats shown to us to prove

reliability. It’s just a shame that VW are

all this insurance saving however was

now out of the bargain basement seg-

based on Volkswagensure, their own

ment. Also, you can have a boot if you

insurance arm so it remains to be seen

want, in a Citi, are they mad?

if the independent insurers follow suit. As a replacement for the Citi, the Vivo

Kyle Stone

is a good car, just a bit on the expensive AP R I L 2 0 1 0



Hundai i30


he Internet, we all know, is a very interesting place. One of the things that it allows us as publishers to do, is keep a close watch on just what sort of search engine terms our readers are using to come to our pages, an accurate and pretty much live report of the content you find most appealing and want to know about the most regularly.

D r ive Fe a t ure Since revitalising Drive Magazine in

for the dead Citi, the last-generation

this online format, we’ve had one post

Polo now rebadged Vivo, had several

astonish us all by persistently scoring

days of leading search engine hits, and

strongly on this search counter. The

then our blog report on the launch of

“The new Hyundai i30 is at last on South African roads,...” subject? Not a Porsche (although this

the Hyundai i30, the subject of this ar-

brand also does consistently well), a

ticle, once again toppled its more high-

Ferrari, a Merc, or a BMW. No, you lot

brow family member.

are all looking for information on the Hyundai ix35, which is yet to even come

That’s the same launch I’m going into

out (we’ve already secured our invite to

all the details on in this report. The new

the local launch next month)!

Hyundai i30 is at last on South African roads, and on paper at least looks well

Recently though, there have been chal-

equipped to cause quite a ripple in the

lengers to this throne. VWs replacement

C-segment hatchback space, astonish-



APRIL 2010

D r i v e F ea tur e

ingly a market segment which Hyundai

not completely original, but this can be

has never had representation in be-

attributed to how hotly contested this


segment is, and by so many players, that just about every interesting shape

As long as the i30 is a decent product,

possible has already been used on

the superb Hyundai brand name will


bring the real problems for the competition. The company has built up an en-

The i30 is very distinctively a Hyundai

viable reputation in several key areas;

though thanks to its clearly branded

good build quality being linked to excel-

face, and moving back from the grille

lent outright reliability, top-notch cus-

and bonnet area is never anything

tomer service, a bold standard warranty

short of good-looking. There are just

and maintenance plan option package

two models available locally, and al-

to further enhance peace of mind, and

though the 16� alloys of the 1.6 are all

finally a reputation for solid value.

right, the 17-inchers with their dazzling chromed fins on the 2.0-litre i30 are

When we first clap eyes on the car

the ones you’ll really want. These rims

at the standard if decidedly anti-glam

alone are left to lift the sportiness fac-

premises of the Hyundai SA training

tor of the larger-engine for onlookers

facility on the East Rand, it looks right

and other road users to notice.

away as if Hyundai has scored with the i30. Certainly as a whole the design is AP R I L 2 0 1 0

In fact, everything else about the cars DRIVE M AGAZINE


D r ive Fe a t ure is pretty much identical.




changes, really. Both are 5-speed manuals, both have






systems with iPod connectivity, feature ABS, EBD, and front, passenger and side airbags, and have mirrors which fold away on electric motors. Which sort of makes the fairly hefty price tag dif-

anything. If anything it highlights the

ference a bit hard to swallow. R189K to

lack of a sporty variant, which hopeful-

R229K – that’s R40 grand for an extra

ly Hyundai will address in the

16kW and some very attractive alloys.

next-generation of the i30 by

All right, and cruise control with wheel-

bolting a turbo on to this mill.

mounted buttons, and a standard sunOverall it’s not a bad drive. The


suspension and chassis are Now as nice as those chrome blades

decently absorbent of bumps

are, we can tell you that you’re likely to

and cracks in the tarmac while

feel a little short-changed if you plump

still keeping control well when

for the pricier i30. The 2.0-litre engines

things get more dynamic. Again,

were still very new and therefore very

it’s certainly not going for Mini

tight when we got to them, but then

immediacy but it slots comfort-

so were the 1.6s, and at Gauteng alti-

ably into the middle-echelon of

tudes you won’t often really notice the

C-segment territory, and even

extra shove. Neither car is exactly what

the bigger wheels of the 2.0-litre don’t

we’d call fast, and the bigger engine,

have a very detrimental effect on over-

although it makes a nicer, raspier ex-

all comfort.

haust note, doesn’t pull like a train or 42


APRIL 2010

D r i v e F ea tur e The interior is a really excellent place

on the cruise.

to be. Comfortable and seemingly built from nice, upmarket materials, it also

Not everyone will notice this, or rec-

features a modern architecture com-

ognise it as a problem however, even

plete with softly flowing blue mood light-

though a high cruising rpm invariably

ing from the dash and fascia. All the

makes for more fuel consumed than a

windows are electric naturally and the

more relaxed rev count, so it’s not a fa-

whole package is definitely a step be-

tal flaw.

yond what we’ve become accustomed to from Hyundai.

This fact aside well, we can see why so many Drive readers are keen to know

On the highway, it is then unfortunate

about the i30, and from first acquaint-

about the five-speed gearbox, espe-

ance it seems as though it should sell

cially the ratio of top (fifth) which sees

very well, in the process impacting the

even the pokier 2.0-litre spinning at the

sales figures of the established players which flood this market. All the big manufacturer names just about – think of a mainstream car maker and they probably have a couple of C-segment hatchback options.

Russell Bennett

Liked Handsome, Eurocentric styling Interior comfort levels Potential future GTI competitor

Disliked 4000rpm mark with 120 showing on the

Five-speed box is a limitation,

speedo. This makes for a fairly intru-

and an irritation when cruising

sive, buzzy engine note intruding into

Not as pokey as you’d like

the otherwise very refined cabin when AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Fe a t ure

Honda rider Academy


onda is a company that takes safety seriously. They don’t just sell you a bike and let you get on with it, they teach you how to stay safe when you ride. And I’m not just talking about throwing in a track day voucher as a sales incentive. No, this is real training with qualified instructors.

out ever having sat on a bike. With the ink still wet on your learners you can go and buy any size of bike and take your chances out on the public road. Some might find this a frightening experience whilst others end up on their backsides with the bike on top of them. Not only is their the risk of injury, new riders could be put off motorcycling forever. It doesn’t have to be this way - buy a new Honda and you qualify for a course

Riding a motorcycle for the first time

given by the Honda On-Road Academy.

can be a bit daunting particularly since

This course is designed with new riders

you can obtain a learners license with44


APRIL 2010

D r i v e F ea tur e

in mind but is a valuable refresher for

enough that an inexperienced rider

more experienced riders, particularly if

could find that they are about half a mile

you are self taught and may never have

behind the bike. Obviously if you’re sit-

learned the correct techniques.

ting on the machine you can’t be behind it but what I’m talking about here is that

The course starts off with an intensive

by the time he/she reacts, the bike is

theory classroom session and a series

already 800 Meters further up the road.

of practical on road training exercises.

Riding fast requires honing skills and

Once the course has been completed

reaction times so that you are in con-

you are issued with a certificate of pro-

trol of the bike. Honda sells excellent

ficiency, which should earn you brown-

superbikes and they know riders buy

ie points with your insurance company.

them with high speed riding in mind so the Advanced Superbike School is an-

Modern Superbikes are fast. Fast AP R I L 2 0 1 0

other arm of the On-Road Academy. DRIVE M AGAZINE


D r ive Fe a t ure The ideal environment for the training is a racetrack. That way you can learn all the skills without worrying about traffic or potholes. Superbike training takes place on the Kyalami racetrack and is run by the Michelin Superbike School excellently managed by ex racer Dirk Du Plooy. All instructors are themselves



School was for me. And it goes without

In common with the road-riding course, nothing can be achieved without understanding the basic principles so the day

saying that track skills translate into being more proficient as a road rider as well.

“....after each track session there is a classroom session so that skills practised on-track can be built on.” starts off in the classroom. And not only that, after each track session there is a classroom session so that skills practised on-track can be built on. Now I have been riding for a while so I rather big-headedly decided that the road riding course was beneath me. I love track riding and am always looking to hone my skills and go faster so I decided that the Advanced Superbike 46


So, I donned my leathers and went along to Kyalami to see what it’s all about. I managed to snag myself a Honda CBR600RR but before throwing a leg over I was summoned to the classroom. The first class went through the basics of counter steering, which surprisingly so many riders don’t actually understand, looking where you want to be rather than straight ahead and a basic introduction to the correct APRIL 2010

D r i v e F ea tur e lines through corners.

than the rest of the group, the instructor waved me past. Within 2 laps I had

After the classroom it’s out

lapped my group. My instructor decid-

onto the track but it’s not a

ed that I should actually be riding in B

free for all. Each rider is al-

group. And that’s the great thing about

located an instructor and al-

the Honda Academy, you can move up

though it’s not one on one,

to faster groups within the Michelin Su-

there are 4 riders per instruc-

perbike school.

tor; so you do stay with the same instructor for the day. The instructor leads the group out on the first lap and shows the riders the lines through corners. After the first lap, the instructor drops to the back of the group to watch the riders and see what sort of mistakes they make. Back in the pits the instructor takes you through any mistakes that you made and any areas where you could improve. After that it’s back into the classroom where you start learning the theory behind more advanced techniques. And so the day goes on. I’m going to be bigheaded here but I’ve ridden track before so realizing that I was a bit quicker AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Fe a t ure

“The CBR600 has excellent fuelling and punches above its weight.”

ing behind and watching my mistakes. After each session, there was a thorough de-brief and by Moving up into a faster group doesn’t

the end of the day I had

mean that you are on your own though.

shaved 5 seconds a lap off my previous

I was allocated another instructor for


“Moving up into a faster group doesn’t mean that you are on your own though.” the remainder of the day. Together we

Five seconds a lap is significant par-

worked on getting my lap times down.

ticularly on a 600cc machine but some

He worked with me, riding in front, rid-

credit must go to the bike. The CBR600



APRIL 2010

D r i v e F ea tur e

has excellent fuelling and punches

able to carry third gear into the corner

above its weight. Body position worked

eliminating the need for the extra gear

well for me as well, being tall, I appre-


ciated the slightly longer reach to the bars. The bike also has reasonable mid

Learning to ride correctly increases

range. Wesbank corner is a tricky dou-

confidence and keeps you safe. Hell,

ble apex corner that you want to en-

there are enough hazards on the road

ter in second gear but before the exit

so do what you can to stay alive. The

you need third. Now you don’t want to

Honda On-Road Academy is your best

put your foot under the lever while the

choice whether you just want to learn

bike is leaned over (which is why race

to ride or you want to hone your skills

riders use and upside down shift pat-

as a superbike rider.

tern). Whilst the Honda doesn’t have the torque of a twin or triple, it was AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Fe a t ure


ll new cars sold in South Africa that produce more than 120g of carbon dioxide per kilometre are going to be subject to a carbon tax. You see there was a recession last year and the economy isn’t exactly booming this year. The problem with that is that the greedy politicians have not been able to extort as much cash from the public to feather their own nests. The extravagant lifestyle of fast cars and wild parties is under threat! Not only that, the voting public 50


are waking up to the fact that the government hasn’t delivered on its promises, so now they need more money to support their fat cat lifestyles, and they are beginning to realise that they might have to start repairing roads, providing services as so on. “Where oh where are we going to get all of this money from?” they ask. And of course the answer is, we’ll just force the taxpayer to dig deeper into his pocket. And you really want to tax the so-called rich because let’s face it; most of them APRIL 2010

D r i v e F ea tur e

aren’t going to vote for the current gov-

All you have to do is type “climategate”

ernment anyway.

into Google to see that for yourself.

The solution in their eyes is to tax cars

Now I often criticise our government

that pollute the atmosphere because,

for not having their finger on the pulse

they say, that carbon emissions are

but this time I will have to let them off.

“The extravagant lifestyle of fast cars and wild parties is under threat!” going to cause the planet to overheat

You see, even though climategate ex-

and we’ll all die. The problem is that

poses the biggest lie of our time, gov-

the theory of man-made global warm-

ernments around the world are trying

ing has already been proved to be a lie.

their best to keep a lid on it and con-

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Fe a t ure tinue spreading the lie. Climate change

to restrict the distance that its citizens

has been used to restrict peoples’ life-

could afford to drive and at the same

styles, which Hitler stated was the best

time fill up its coffers, people would

way to create a dictatorship. But more

protest against it. The way around that

than that, climategate has been used

is to spend several years scaremon-

by governments and corporate compa-

gering, another theory put forward by

nies for huge financial gain.

one A. Hitler, because people living in fear are easier to control. The scare-

So how does it all work? If a govern-

mongering has been going on for a

ment announced that it was going to tax

while and we’ve been persuaded that

the hell out of fuel because it wanted

the planet is getting hotter and it’s all our fault. Once we have been persuaded that we are directly responsible for the problem , we simply accept that we must pay, in hard cash, for our mistakes. Corporates don’t miss a trick. Once they see that people are prepared to pay for what they perceive to be a man made problem, the manufacturers offer products that save us from ourselves. Of course there is a huge price premium on these products but no one minds. It gives us a warm fuzzy feeling that the money is for the greater good. What is amazing is the gullibility of the public at large. We were all told that global warming would be cata-



APRIL 2010

D r i v e F ea tur e strophic and that sea levels would rise.

is to ridicule those scientists and the

But surely straightforward logic would

news media only report the scientists

tell you that it’s all a lie? The sea level

that are “on side”. Free press my arse!

hasn’t risen in any significant way and

There are more scientists opposed to

every time there is a big global warming

the argument than those in favour so if

push by American and European gov-

it were a free press, surely their voices

ernments, it’s followed by a particularly

would be heard. Authorities that seek

cold winter. It’s as if God is trying to tell

to spread misinformation use vague

us something and yet the public on the

statements like “most scientists agree”.

whole swallows the governments’ lies

In other words, “we don’t have any real

“The sea level hasn’t risen in any significant way and every time there is a big global warming push by American and European governments, it’s followed by a particularly cold winter.” without question. Eventually when the

evidence”. Who are most scientists an-

public do start to question, the solution

yway? Can you give us names and tell

is simple – change the name to climate

us how many took part in the survey? I

change; job done. Everyone is happy

think not.

again and digs deeper in their pockets to pay punitive environmental taxes.

In fact one particular scientist not in the climate change camp pointed out that

As yet, none of the scientists seem

global warming really is no real prob-

able to explain exactly how the climate

lem. Global cooling on the other hand is

will change nor how it might affect us.

a serious threat. We would need more

There are, in fact, several scientists

energy for heating and we would have

who point out — using real data —

less capacity to grow food.

that climate change is not man-made but simply a phenomenon of nature’s

Even when the whole climategate scan-

cycles. The solution to that problem

dal happened, the mainstream media

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Fe a t ure were conspicuous by their silence. Even

panic mode trying to discredit the sto-

if they didn’t agree with the evidence,

ry and cover it up. A British politician

surely a story of that magnitude war-

got on his soapbox claiming that it was

ranted a few column inches. The whole

just a conspiracy theory. He compared

scandal kicked off when an insider at

us sceptics with people like Holocaust

the Climatic Research Unit of the Uni-

deniers! But as a Daily Telegraph com-

“Every litre of wasted fuel puts R1.54c in their pockets.” versity of East Anglia leaked thousands

mentator said, it cannot possibly be a

of emails, which demonstrated that data

conspiracy theory when a conspiracy

has been misrepresented and even fal-

has actually been proved.

sified over a period of several years. Oh, and the temperature data was un-

Even if we were to assume for a minute

accountably erased. This from one of

that all of the evidence was correct and

only four centres around the world that

that we were destroying the planet. What

supply climate change data to the UN.

alternatives are being offered to driving our cars? We don’t have a viable public

Once the scandal was exposed, politi-

transport system and even in the more

cians and interested parties went into

advanced European countries, public transport only works for a small percentage of people. If our government really is concerned for the environment, who gave planning permission for all the out of town shopping


What is being done to help industry reduce emissions? What is

Hybrid Cars 54


being done to reduce APRIL 2010

fuel-wasting traffic congestion? The answer, as you already know, is absolutely nothing. In fact there are those that believe the government actually wants traffic jams. Every litre of wasted fuel puts R1.54c in their pockets. Again, were we to accept the theory of man-made global warming and all buy electric cars, where does the electricity come from? In the main, coal-fired power stations, which pollute the atmosphere at double the rate of road transport. It’s that old theory, “If it doesn’t come out of my exhaust pipe, I’m not responsible”. Then there is the huge environmental impact involved in the actual manufacturing of electric and Hybrid cars. Even if you are in the climate change camp and want to save the world, trust us, burn petrol! So there we have it. Man made global warming or climate change is a lie. It has been exposed as a lie and yet we continue to pay taxes both on new vehicles and fuel. Taxes that are based on lies, lies and nothing but lies. And there’s still more to come...


A PR I L 2 0 1 0

D r ive Column


hile driving south on the N3 this week, a route which for the last 6 months I’ve pretty much fastidiously avoided due to the traffic tragedy of roadworks but was, unfortunately unavoidable on this particular trip, I was twice surprised.

day evening, was more than bearable, in truth the ride was pretty pleasurable overall! Quite a shock. But the first surprise was the one which tickled my irony gland until I could barely contain the overflow from this stimulation. There’s a sign, you see, a big one, next to the highway, just before

The second part of my surprise was

this treacherous traffic zone, close to

about the traffic flow itself, which

the Modderfontein offramp.

seemed unfeasibly free around the dreaded Van Buuren road offramp.

It’s a pretty decent attempt at comedy

Until I realised that the schools were

in truth. The sign, you see, is mangled

still on holiday, thereby removing a big

and messy, and read the short message

chunk of the regular daily traffic on this

from The Aveng Group, the builders of

road. Nevertheless, the new 5-lane

the highway, and you’ll understand. It

sections seem to work pretty well over-

states; “We didn’t build this sign. But

all, and congestion, at 5:15 on a Tues-

we did build this highway.”



APRIL 2010

D r i v e C ol um n Yet, very much like the mangled sign it-

struction flaws, those lanes as straight

self, this piece of road remains blighted

as the tracks of a Sidewinder snake

by lanes which zigzag erratically and

hurrying across desert sands and the

huge tarmac “steps” which, similarly,

tarmac cliffs which have simply been

wander randomly hither and thither,

left as they are, I envisage the future

and are a huge danger to any vehicle

of this highway making the claims on

travelling at more than 60km/h.

the sign even more obviously preposterous. Wait until you’re jammed up for

And then, here’s this sign, right next to

three hours right beside this big, bold

the road which people can with their

claim because the rain the night before

own eyes see is, well, not exactly per-

created a pothole which has swallowed-

fect, deliberately pointing out manufac-

up a big-rig hauling 60 tons of fuel. Oh,

tured imperfections on the part of the

your sides will rupture with the mirth!

signs proprietors to highlight the per-

And when you’re then made to pay a

fection of their work. It’s a very com-

R10 toll for sitting in the gridlock well,

plex web we weave, I guess.

will your fragile human body be able to contain the hilarity of it all?

That’s like me putting up a busted, illfunctioning website with new features

You may say this is pure speculation.

which don’t exactly work, and claim-

That I’m just a pessimist and this sce-

ing that I’d built the internet! Or like a

nario will not unfold. That there’s light

farmer idly allowing his lands to fall to

at the end of the tunnel. All true, al-

rack and ruin, planting some cherries

though it is postulation based on hard

in a flowerpot in his kitchen window,

evidence. Anyway let’s not get caught

and claiming to be an integral element

up on the future just yet, I really hope

in the feeding of the starving African

that it doesn’t happen, because I’ll be

masses. Or like Zimbabwe, claiming

right there beside you giggling mania-

that the pit of a country they’ve created

cally until my overstressed coronary

from a thriving, robust economy is the

system collapses as well. Not some-

perfect model of African governmental

thing I’m really looking forward to with

glory. Oh, wait a minute...

any sort of relish, let me tell you.

Apart from the clear design and con-

Russell Bennett

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Column


s it just my imagination or is there a growing anti-motorcycle feeling developing in Gauteng? I say Gauteng since Cape Town drivers seem to be remarkably courteous to two-wheeled road users. Just lately I have noticed more and more car drivers that seem to position themselves on the road so as to make it very difficult for bikes to pass. It may be that they just don’t notice that we’re there, I’m not sure. Not long ago though I was making my way between the cars on a dual carriageway approaching a set of lights. A car made a deliberate attempt to move over and block my progress. As I pulled up next to him his window happened to be open. I leaned in and asked him what he thought he was doing. He replied, “Why should you get there before me?” I said, “Because I bought a bike and you didn’t.” One of the problems seems to be that 58


the traffic situation is so bad and there is so much frustration that drivers are unwilling to offer any other road user any courtesy, bike or car. Interestingly enough, the taxi’s that so many road users complain about always seem to be willing to move over and let bikes past. Bikers themselves don’t do themselves any favours either. It used to be common practice to wave to a car driver that moved over but this practice is less common than it used to be. Not only that, some of our two wheeled friends roar past cars and gesticulate rudely when the driver acts in a way that they feel aggrieved by. Some bikers have even been known to break mirrors off cars in the heat of the moment. And before you know it, it becomes a vicious circle. Car drivers lose respect for bikers and stop co-operating. BikAPRIL 2010

D r i v e C ol um n

ers get more annoyed with car drivers

fact that bikes have virtually no impact

blocking them and so it goes on.

on road wear. You see, no one in South Africa wants to make a living; they all

A bike is a very logical alternative to

want to make a killing. SANRAL in more

spending hours in traffic and the more

ways than one!

people that ride bikes, the less cars there are on the road. That eases con-

Now it seems that shopping centre

gestion to the benefit of all road users.

managers have jumped on the greed

Now you would think that authorities

bandwagon. I begrudge paying to park

would recognize this fact and try to

a car at a shopping centre. If you want

encourage two-wheel transport. Noth-

me to spend money, at least let me park

ing could be further from the truth. Pot-

my car for free! But worse than that,

holes have become a way of life and

these shopping centers are now charg-

local councils don’t seem to care how

ing bikes the same as cars for parking

many motorcyclists are injured falling

even though we take up a fraction of

down them. Road works are laid out in

the space. They have even gone to the

a manner that increases the danger to

expense in some centers of extend-

motorcyclist and the road surface is of-

ing the barriers so that bikes can’t ride

ten dangerous. Do they care? I think

round them. If you want a tip, shop at


the Festival Mall in Kempton Park, they offer free bike parking. I for one will be

SANRAL seems to be motivated by

boycotting all other centers.

greed alone and charge the same in tolls for both bike and cars despite the AP R I L 2 0 1 0



62 Drive Versus Big Surprise! - Chrysler 300C SRT-8 squares up to Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, with some surprising, and some not-so-surprising conclusions.

76 Drive Versus Street Touring – Kawasaki GTR 1400 faces Honda VFR 1200. As usual, we disagree with the norm in the end..

88 Drive Tests Dodge Journey CRD R/T

96 Drive Tests Citroen C5 2.0 HDI

104 Drive Tests Audi A4 2.0 TSI StopStart

112 Drive Tests VW Polo 1. 4 Trendline

118 Drive Tests Chery J1

D r ive Te st

Chrysler 300C SRT-8 versus Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG 62


APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t


he V8 SuperStars saloon cars we watched, heard, and felt rumbling about Kyalami a few months back included a rather eclectic mixture of basic hardware in the pitlane. The Germans dominated, BMW M3s, M5s, Audi RS4s, with some wonderful Italian brio added in the form of the Maserati Quattroporte entrants, and even a dash of English style from the bulky but graceful lines of the screaming, supercharged Jag XFR. AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st But two of the cars caught my eye in

lents of these international racers up

particular. One because, strictly speak-

against one another, in SA, in our own

ing, couldn’t really have been a sa-

meaty paws. See how they compared,

loon. Although called a C 63 AMG, the

how they performed at truly stock set-

bodywork was clearly closer to a CLK

tings, and just generally enjoy the

63, although I didn’t exactly mind as to

pleasures of the oversized V8 in a lum-

me the CLK-DTM is one of the finest

bering saloon.

looking racecars in the world. And the other, because of its outlandish quality,

Fortunately we weren’t able to get a

even amongst such exceptional com-

C 63 AMG, since we aren’t its biggest

pany. The Chrysler 300C, the SRT-8 of

fans, but we were able to arrange the

course with its 6.1-litre Mopar V8 and

brand-new Elegantly Dynamic E-Class

such brutal styling you can’t help but

with the same motor, and since it’s most

fall in love a little.

certainly a four-door with the identical lump up front we figured it was close

It did give us an idea though, so we set

enough. After all, there were V8 M3s

out to get the two road-going equiva-

and last-gen V8 M5s on the same track,



APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t so why not C and E-Class Mercs?

shattered. The decidedly more sobrelooking E is by far and away the most

But returning to the racing for a moment,

blatantly, vociferously and highly-tuned,

of the two cars here, Chrysler’s Mopar-

high-performance big-cube over-mus-

powered 300 C SRT-8 and Merc’s high-

cled thug of a machine. It starts with

tech, latest-generation E-Class stuffed

a revvy flourish, settles into raw, bari-

with the legendary but potentially overu-

tone bassline still with an engineered,

tilised 6.3-litre naturally-aspirated AMG

almost lightweight keening, setting the

V8, you only directly associate one of

otherwise refined and well-insulated

them with the acrid stench of burning

cabin thrumming to its all-encompass-

oil, tortured rubber and unburnt race

ing beat. If you dare to give the throt-

fuel that gets spectators so naturally

tle a gratuitous blip at this point, you’ll

high in America’s favourite OTT motor-

experience shock. In fact we don’t rec-

sport, NASCAR racing.

ommend you do it in a covered parking lot, at least not too much, for fear of

But the moment you fire up the en-

damaging your eardrums.

gines, your assumptions are forever AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st

It revs astonishingly quickly, consid-

ine it belching a substantial jet of flame

ering its considerable capacity, and

from the four large tailpipes which are

what feels like just a brief exploratory

the endpoint of this new AMG system.

jab sends the tacho spinning furiously

It’s one of the most incredible sounding

round to 6000rpm, with every ounce of

V8s ever, and without doubt an acous-

the violence of the barely-silenced NAS-

tical leader of the current competitors.

CAR racer V8s. And that’s without even a load on the engine. When you come

The SRT-8 for instance, despite look-

off, the rear end lights up with loud,

ing like 2000kgs of automotive muscle

sharp reports like a barrage of small

trying to squeeze into 1500kgs worth of

arms, and despite the leather-lined

bodywork so pumped, distended, and

luxury you’re sitting in you can imag-

excessively over-massaged is the bod-



APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t ywork for this sportiest

over some fairly serious distances. The

model. The bulky body

300C is refined, cultured almost, al-

even manages to make

though there is a trace of motorsport

the enormous, fabulous

edge approaching its top end, and the

20-inch alloys complete

sizeable capacity does rock the car

with SRT engraved on

about on its springs. It feels heavy on

one spoke just right,

torque although lacking significantly

and bulges so menac-

in outright free-revving response. The

ingly you swear it’s ac-

AMG 6.3 on the other hand, is positively

tually looking for some

manic, zinging through its rev range in

children to eat. But fire

milliseconds while emitting the unmis-

up the 6.1-litre V8, and

takable sounds of a V8 packing racecar

there’s a distinct lack


of aural savagery. With just two, fair-sized but

When the engine is loaded up, under

compared to the huge

normal driving conditions, transmitting

quad-pipes of the AMG

power to the gumball rear tyres via a






tailpipes through which

it sounds even better still. The V8 is

to sing, the Mopar mo-

always a presence, even at burbling

tor is far more distant,

speeds, but the temptation to crack the

much more muted than

throttle wide is rewarded every single

the ebullient AMG powerplant.

time with supercar levels of pulverising thrust and a soundtrack which is com-

“It’s one of the most incredible sounding V8s ever, and without doubt an acoustical leader of the current competitors.” Even just revving the motor in neutral

pletely at odds with the sober E-Class

reveals an enormous amount of what

suit. Yes it has cues which mark it out

we’re going to find out over the next

distinctively as an AMG, the quad pipes

few days with these cars side by side

are the first hint, the big, sexy rims, and

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st a more aggressive front apron with gaping intakes to cool the substantial brakes. But it remains a decidedly understated and demure form, considering the beast straining to be unleashed within. Which makes it all the more shocking when that motor starts to shout. It’s really a modern Q-Car, something the AMG boys have been pulling off since they were but a racing/tuning outfit, and not Mercedes’ M-division yet. The SRT-8 relies more on its freakishly


exterior than the Merc does. Naturally styling will always divide opinions but in my eyes, the 300C in SRT-8 guise is positively gorgeous. Massive, imposing, bluff, with those tiny pillbox windows of the cabin perched atop just about the closest automotive equivalent to a tank I’ve ever seen. A racing tank, judging by the hugely flared arches. It is just a bit of a pity that they didn’t carry this fringe lunacy over to the rear, where a pair of very ordinarylooking tailpipes tell you noth68


APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t adaptive


in here with a similar range of settings on tap, and an AMG button be





your favourite bouquet of settings, because it does get a bit annoying having to switch the ‘box over to Manual, the suspension over to Sport Plus, and the ESP to off every time you set off on ing of what the Mopar engine has to of-

any journey.

fer. There’s a seriously impressive HarInside these two performance saloons

mann/Kardon stereo system installed

the tale continues apace. The Merc just

as well, satellite navigation, radar-guid-

oozes quality, impregnable build, cut-

ed adaptive cruise control, PDC, pow-

ting-edge engineering, and the priciest

ered and heated seats, you name it the

materials swathed over every surface

E-Class pretty much has it. And Mer-

you touch. It also swims in high-tech of

cedes has come a long way from the

course, that new 7-speed ‘box features

square, older-gent cabin architecture

four modes of operation ranging from

of the late 80s and 90s, it now just feels

Comfort through Sport and on to Sport

like a supreme place from which to get

Plus and finally Manual, where you’re

down to some serious driving work.

made responsible for controlling your chosen ratio via the lovely, positive-

One thing the Chrysler also is, is plush,

feeling aluminium paddles mounted be-

although the material qualities cannot

hind the steering wheel. There are also

be compared. Nor can the integrated

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st

technology installed as standard. Yes,

trying to keep the revs down to protect

it also has the PDC, SatNav, a Boston

the meagre remains of fuel which al-

Premium audio setup, even the same

ways seem to be floating in the tank.

active speed control setup. And the seats are probably even more comfort-

You only have to crank up the stereo to

able on long journeys, but are plump

note the quality differences though. The

and generously padded to the point of

Chrysler’s starts to strain at anywhere

not supporting you much laterally when

near full volume, and within a couple of

pushing on.

minutes a nasty crackling noise sets in which can only be eliminated by turning

The gearbox is the old 5-speed auto-

the radio off and then back on, and not

matic, no clever dual-clutches or ad-

venturing into the upper reaches of vol-

justable shift patterns here though.

ume again. The Merc is always a rich,

You can stir the cogs manually if you

clear, full sound and is never thrown off

like, via the stick itself Tiptronic-style,

its game.

but the fully automatic mapping is welltuned for sporty driving so you only re-

All well and good we know, but at last

ally choose to go manual when you’re

we get to the most important bit. The



APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t

driving. The object of this pairing, to

probably more impressively the chas-

see how these two which share track

sis and suspension are able to take the

space in the V8 Superstars series com-

substantial forces this speed serves up

pare on the road. And just how vast a

in their stride. In Sport Plus in particular,

chasm doubling-up the purchase price

the E is utterly composed, and actually

actually creates.

stays with you even if you do overstep the limits of the sticky rear tyres, which

First, the E 63. It’s astonishing, and

isn’t all that hard with so much instan-

easily the best platform I’ve yet driven

taneous torque on tap. But it drifts like

for this bombastic AMG motor. Where

an old M5, friendly and sublime, in fact

the C 63 always feels overengined and

taking a deliberate prod of the loud

lacking a tied-down chassis, and the SL

pedal to unstick the rear end so strong

version always plays second fiddle to

is the mechanical grip on offer.

the big twin-turbo V12 of the flagship, the E 63 is just thoroughly rewarding

And fast, ooh boy. Faster than anything

from any angle. Considering the mass

short of a fully-fledged exotic. Backed

of the vehicle, the engine delivers ac-

by a blood-and-thunder soundtrack

celeration of the haymaker variety, and

which many of these machines would

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st give critical parts of their male anatomy

It’s a sort of an old-school muscle-car


charm really, whereas the Merc is muscle for the 21st century. The rear axle

In truth, it’s a dynamic performance so

of the Chrysler hops and tramps under

commanding, the SRT-8 doesn’t stand

hard acceleration over rough tarmac,

much of a chance with it’s more last-

the Mercs is just raw control. Driving

gen underpinnings and systems. Al-

back to Johannesburg from the Harte-

though the ride feels quite firm initially,

beespoort shoot location in the 300C,

the weight can get on top of the springs

the bumpy single-lane road leading

and make for a wild ride over rough-

past Gerotek and Pelindaba gets scary




when being hustled


ly through the bends. The 6.1litre engine feels unexpectedly lazy low down in the rev range, which


helped by just how quiet it is, although when it does open up its throat at about 4500

enough at 160km/h to back off. While

rpm there’s a lovely keening timbre to

going in the opposite direction in the E

the rich V8 backbeat which hints at

63 just a couple of hours earlier, I re-

motorsport roots. It’s at this point that

membered the only discomfort I experi-

the motor really starts hauling as well.

enced at 200km/h was solved by crack-

Hard. And if you keep the engine in this

ing the suspension back to regular

zone you’ll destroy a tank of petrol in a

“Sport”. No, in every on-road situation,

couple of hundred kays, but you’ll be

including a straight-out drag race on

having a real hoot in the process!

the smoothest of smooth surfaces, the E 63 just runs rings around the SRT-8.



APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t And



once I’d disabled the silly “Winter tyres” limiter on the AMG (why would an SA-spec car be running rubber designed for snow and ice?) this car runs up to 250km/h almost effortlessly.



could hold it there all day were it not for little inconveniences like other road users, speed cameras, or robots.

AMG. Both deliver confidence-inspiring stopping power at any speeds, although I’m certain the E 63s would last longer on a track without fade, the weight of

The Chrysler requires a lot more commitment especially beyond the 200 – 210km/h mark, where the squared-off

the Chrysler must severely punish even as fine a system as the Brembo setup is in sustained use.

bodywork starts to tell against even the ample power of this V8. I bottled out at just north of 230km/h on the GPS, because it starts to feel a bit like running on the ragged edge at that velocity. It’s amazing how much confidence the latest technology brings, even when you’re running with ESP disengaged.

It’s at this point, however, that I really have to throw a spanner into the AMG whitewash being prepared for chucking all over the 300C SRT-8... In the more esoteric measurement of pure fun, raw driving pleasure and sheer likeability, if not in the more scientific analysis of outright dynamic potential, SRT-8 pur-

In fact the only dynamic area where the two run quite close, is braking. Giant Brembos pull the Chrysler up, while the Merc employs similarly overt carbonceramic setups designed and built by AP R I L 2 0 1 0

chasers are definitely getting the better deal. Remember that you could almost have two SRT-8s for the price of the AMG, and the huge fun-factor the Chrysler delivers looks like an absolute DRIVE M AGAZINE


D r ive Te st bargain! The emotive qualities manifest most strongly in the appearances of the two vehicles, and the around-town driving duties. The Chrysler is a shape which you just can’t help but glance back at every time, and although I appreciate the Q-car appeal of the E Class it just isn’t as instantly arresting or thoroughly charming as the big Yank. And then when you’re just trundling through traffic, the lavishly padded Chrysler seat manages to adapt to what you’re asking of it, whereas the AMG just always seems to want you to be going faster for it to be happy. It’s also worth remembering, that while I may have been lamenting what seems to be a lack of firepower in the 300C this whole article, this is only relative to a machine as superlative as the E 63 AMG. Against, say, a Lumina SS with it’s similarly gargantuan 6.0-litre Chevy V8, the SRT-8 would be positively blistering. It is not, in isolation, a tardy car, and is in fact more than enough performance for most mere mortal drivers, most of the time. Big-hearted, honest, and cutting a very handsome swathe through traffic.



If, like their racecar counterparts, these two cars were put on a track side by side, it wouldn’t even take half a lap for the E 63 to win outright. But when it came to driving one home for the night, only the very brand-conscious and elitist would honestly have no problem choosing between the two. Personally, I would (and in fact did during the testing week) opt for the Chrysler more often than not. Perhaps it has to do with the sub R1million pricetag, perhaps the lack of computer wizardry keeping the chassis in check, but you can somehow have even more fun pitching the 300C down a dark, windy, potentially roadworksravaged road than the high-and-mighty AMG.

Russell Bennett APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t

Liked Mad power, Madder soundtrack

Disliked Thirst, Price

Drive Vitals

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

Engine Capacity Power Torque Kerb weight Driven wheels Transmission 0-100km/h Price

V8 petrol 6208cc 386kW@ 6800 rpm 630Nm@ 5200 rpm 1840 Kg Rear 7 speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 4.5s R1 169 000

Liked Butch, cartoonish looks Value proposition

Disliked Thirst Muted soundtrack

Drive Vitals

Chrysler 300C SRT-8

Engine Capacity Power Torque Kerb weight Driven wheels Transmission 0-100km/h Price

V8 petrol 6059cc 317kW@ 6000 rpm 569Nm@ 4600 rpm 1955 Kg Rear 5 speed AutoStick 4.9s R599 900

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



Kawasaki GTR 1400 v Honda VFR 1200


ver the tank sports bikes are a lot of fun, particularly on a track or fast breakfast run, but ride them any sort of distance and your back and arse start to take strain. I have done several long trips on sports bikes and found that I couldn’t walk for a couple of hours afterwards. Cruisers work well for long distance rides but they don’t

really have much high speed cornering ability. So if you want to go a long way and still have fun through the mountains, you want a sports tourer. So we got hold of the new Honda VFR 1200 and the recently updated Kawasaki GTR 1400. Both are top of the range sports touring bikes that cost a round R160 000 but which is the one to buy?

D r ive Te st

Kawasaki GTR 1400

What you get is a bike with more ac-

What we have here is a big power-

ronyms than you can shake a stick at

ful sports tourer with the emphasis on

but let’s go through them in layman’s

touring rather than sports riding. But

terms. You get for example 2nd-Gener-

don’t be fooled the GTR 1400 is blis-

ation K-ACT, which stand for Kawasaki

teringly fast. It’s big; it’s powerful and

Advanced Coactive-braking Technol-

yet surprisingly easy to ride. It has all

ogy and really just means ABS. Clever

the electronic wizardry and gadgets to

ABS I admit but ABS nevertheless. The

keep even the most committed techno

ABS system links the front and rear

head entertained. Not only that, the

braking systems but there are 2 modes

electronic wizardry works in the back-

to choose from. In Standard mode the

ground keeping you safe without inter-

electronics give more priority to rider

fering with the riding experience.

input. In other words if you pull the



APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t front brake lever, most of the braking effort goes to the front with the back brake only being applied when necessary. Should you choose not to think for yourself and let’s be honest you might want to spend more time admiring the countryside, the High Combined Mode links the front and rear brakes for maximum effect regardless of how you are actually applying the brake. KIPASS is my favorite acronym and it stands for Kawasaki’s Intelligent Proximity Activation Start System. What you get is an electronic remote which you keep in your pocket. The remote needs

signed as a safety feature keeping you

to be within range of the bike before

upright when the road conditions get

you can start the engine or open the

slippery. KRTC is on by default every

storage compartment. It isn’t keyless

time you switch on the bike. You can

“KIPASS is my favorite acronym and it stands for Kawasaki’s Intelligent Proximity Activation Start System.” go; you still have a key, which has to be

switch it off but why you would want to

turned on before the starter button will

on a shaft driven sports tourer is be-

work. The key can be removed so that

yond me.

you can open the fuel filler and remove the panniers.

The instrument panel has a pair of large analogue dials for speedometer

KTRC is much easier to understand, it

and tachometer. Between the two is

is of course traction control. Don’t be

an LCD screen with a wealth of infor-

fooled though, this no Moto GP derived

mation available. You get all that you

system for high speed riding. It’s de-

would expect from a fuel consumption

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st

computer, instant as well as average

you do use economical mode, the ECU

fuel consumption, remaining range and

changes to a leaner fuel map, not that

so on. And that’s not all; you even get

you really notice.

information like tyre pressure monitoring.

Not enough gadgets for you? The Kawasaki has a windscreen that is eclec-

For those of you that believe global

tically height adjustable. The headlight

warming is going to destroy the planet,

height can be adjusted using a dial in-

“The GTR is big and you notice that as soon as you throw your leg over.” there is an economical riding indicator.

side the fairing. There is an accessory

A little icon flashes up on the screen

socket for your GPS or any other elec-

reassuring you that you’re being frugal

trical equipment. Should the weather

with the fuel (or berating you for wreck-

turn frosty, heated grips will keep your

ing the globe if you aren’t). For those

hands toasty.

realizing that the small saving is not going to make much difference and want

The GTR is big and you notice that as

to use the power available, the econo-

soon as you throw your leg over. It is

my indicator can be switched off. When

heavy as well which you notice when



APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t pushing it into the garage. Out on the road though, you really don’t feel the size and weight.


the bike is effortless and before long you’ll be lane splitting with the best of them. What you do notice is how comfortable it is. This is a bike that would take you between Jo’burg and Cape Town without


bling your piles or straining your back. Take your partner back





you won’t

even notice them there. You never really get used to just how much power you have on tap. Power delivery is smooth and easy to manage but as long as you keep the grip twisted, the big 1400 just keeps on deliverAP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st

ing until, before you know it you’re at

Wind protection is so good that I’m sure

silly speeds.

you could ride through fairly heavy rain

And silly speed really isn’t a problem.

without getting wet. In fact there is so

Although the ride is reasonably soft,

much protection that taking your hand

soft enough to keep your fillings in

off the bar to wave at a car feels like

place even on South African roads, the

your arm is being pulled off. And that’s

bike’s stability is amazing. Bumps and

with the screen at its lowest setting. I

ripples don’t upset the bike at all. This

raised the screen at about 160 Km/h

is a bike that instils confidence and you

and my body actually fell forwards. The

can get a move on without your knuck-

gills along the side of the fairing ensure

les turning white.

that hot air is vented out to the side rather than across your legs.

So with all of this straight-line ability when you do stumble across a moun-

The GTR 1400 is big, comfortable and

tain pass you might expect it to be lack-

effortless to ride. It’s a brilliant long dis-

ing. Well, it is heavy and you do notice

tance machine that won’t let you down

the weight and the physical size of the

when the road starts to twist. Load it up

machine but it is remarkably competent

and go somewhere a long way away,

through corners.

that’s what it’s best at.



APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t

Honda VFR 1200

when you’re munching miles. When

The Honda VFR 1200 is Honda’s take

you’re miles from anywhere, knowing

on the sport touring concept with the

how far you can go before running out

emphasis on sports rather than tour-

of fuel is comforting to say the least.

ing. It might be a reasonably big shaft driven bike but the first thing you notice

Even the panniers, which by the way

is how narrow the bike is, especially

you have to pay extra for, look like an

when compared with the GTR. You sit

afterthought. They stick out like Piet

low down and the tank is tall in front

Koornhof’s ears so far that I managed

of you. There is definitely a feeling that

to drag one along the side of a concrete

you are sitting in the bike rather than on it. What you don’t get is a bike loaded with gadgets, which makes it appear lacking compared to the Kawasaki. You do get ABS but then Honda even fit ABS as an option on the Fireblade so no




there. weather

turns cold you’ll have to wear thicker gloves, no heated grips here. Traction control? No, you don’t get that either. Hell you don’t even get a trip computer, which is quite a handy thing to have AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st actions from the


press but to me the VFR is a thing of beauty. And I’m


just like the Blade, more and people

more will

appreciate its looks as time goes by. The only fly in the ointpillar in a car park. The VFR is one of the few bikes I have ridden where the panniers are wider than the mirrors. Being so narrow, the VFR is brilliant

ment is the exhaust. There seems to be a competition to see who can make the biggest, ugliest exhaust and for now, Honda is

“Being so narrow, the VFR is brilliant at lane splitting so with panniers fitted, you need to be careful that you don’t clump a car door with them.” at lane splitting so with panniers fitted, you need to be careful that you don’t clump a car door with them.

winning that one hands-down. Perhaps they are in cahoots with the aftermarket manufacturers. “We’ll put a really crap

But that’s not the full story; I loved the VFR and really didn’t want to give it back. The styling has met with mixed re84


pipe on the bike to keep you guys in business”. I know all the tree huggers want quiet bikes that emit nothing more APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t me wrong; keep the grip twisted and it will get up to speed with ease. I managed to get it up to 270 Km/h quickly and effortlessly. Unlike a superbike though, it does it without trying to lift its front wheel or throw you off the back. Show it some corners and it’s almost as if the bike starts to smile. It’s as if it than pure mountain air but really. The

says “watch this, this is

fairing has a snub nose dominated by

what I was made for”. It doesn’t turn

the headlight. The colour-coded mirrors

in like a superbike but that’s not really

are a nice touch and the single sided

what you want on the road. The riding

swing arm shows off the attractive rear

position lends itself to hanging off the


side and the narrow, low bars give you

But bikes aren’t just for looking at or posing down the pub, they are for riding and that’s where the VFR really shines. There is power on tap all the way through the rev range and in common with the Kawasaki, it is always there but never intimidates. Don’t get AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st on a long trip that had you in the saddle for several hours. The



comfortable enough


when you get where


going, the GTR rider





than you. Having said that, if there was a mountain pass along the way, you


have a bigger smile on your face. To me, the VFR 1200 is probthe feeling of riding a sports bike. Roll

ably the most

on the throttle once it’s tipped in and it

relevant road bike available today. It’s

holds the line with a sure footed feeling

nimble enough to ride to work and back

from the taut chassis.

every day. It’s fast enough to keep up with your mates on the breakfast run.

There is of course a compromise. The

It will cruise all day long at twice the

VFR feels firm and doesn’t soak up

national speed limit. And of course it’s

the bumps like the Kawasaki. It’s not

comfortable enough to go away for

uncomfortable, just firm. You could go

the weekend. Add to that superb cor-



APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t

nering prowess and you have a pretty

of the VFR. The Kawasaki is a brilliant

complete package. On the downside,

bike but it would be far more suitable

“So which one should you buy?” it’s not particularly economical and the

for the rider that spends every week-

lack of a trip computer makes fuel plan-

end exploring the length and breadth of

ning difficult.

the country.

So which one should you buy? Well

Price wise the two bikes are comparable

that really depends on the type of rid-

but really the VFR’s closest competitor

ing you like. For me the Honda is the

is the ZX 14 or the BMW K1300S.

clear winner but then I am a sports bike rider and I like the sporting emphasis AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st



APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t

Dodge Journey CRD R/T


rriving hot on the heels of the gloriously charming 300C SRT-8 this month, comes the Dodge we’d booked but subsequently forgotten the name of. About six times. The Dodge Journey.

Now although I might not personally share them, I can completely understand why some people’s tastes would tell them that this car is pretty darned handsome really. It is basically a tin box, but the hard-edged angular but still vaguely athletic details help raise the aesthetic impact nicely.

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st

To the “wrong” eyes though, it does look

to put up with to try it out.

more than slightly anonymous. Hence the name thing.

If the exterior is opinion-dividing, opening up the doors and climbing inside is

Sorry what was I talking about again?

more clear cut. Although our first ride took place as an office unit, and the

Nonetheless when the Journey did ar-

trip out to our designers’ was met with

rive, mercifully a couple of days early

general, if guarded approval, a little

in fact, it wasn’t met with huge disap-

more time with the vehicle and it starts

pointment at the Drive office. Because,

to show a few cracks. Not literally of

in a rare twist of fate, the right one had

course, although the feel of the materi-

shown up. Of the three available mod-

als suggest these wouldn’t be very far

els, a pair of 2.7-litre petrol V6s and


this two-litre turbodiesel, the oil-burner was very unusually (for us) the test car

There is a healthy smattering of tech-

of choice. Thanks mostly to the fitment

nology and practicality however. The

of a Getrag 6-speed double-clutch

Journey is a decently roomy car. At

transmission. You only get this gearbox

first, from the familiar styling, you could

with the diesel, so low revs and lots of

be forgiven for thinking it’s as small as

torque was what we were going to have

a Caliber. But it’s not. There’s plenty of



APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t plete with connectivity for MP3 players. Connectivity which, interestingly, called a true-blue Apple iPod an “Unrecognisable device”, although a PC-formatted iPod didn’t suffer the same ignomy. No matter, there’s also integrated Bluetooth and a voice-command system for controlling your phone without touching it on the go, and a rear-facing camera feeding images to a pretty dismally lowquality and pixellated screen. There’s also satnav, operated via the space inside, and provided you don’t

same screen, and all the safety stand-

need any boot space at all, even a third

ards like ABS, ESP, airbags and the like.

row of seats available.

There’s a tyre pressure monitor warning system to ensure you aren’t run-

The tech comes in the form of a MyGig

ning along, more dangerously and not

entertainment system with integrated

to mention more expensively, on barely

hard drive for storing MP3s and com-

noticeably underinflated rubber at any

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st point. And finally, rear-seat passengers

2008. Back then, there was even an

can enjoy their own dedicated climate-

agreement in place with Getrag, to

control zone, the Journey featuring a

supply DCT products exclusively to the

3-zone setup with separate controls for

North American car market, which is

rear seat occupants.

why Dodge and Volvo (still Ford-owned of course) were the initial benefactors

In terms of mechanical technology, the

of the latest devel-

common-rail turbodiesel motor devel-

opments. But this

ops a pretty weedy 103kW but a beefy

deal collapsed in

310Nm. And yes, it’s also as mundane

the recession.

and anodyne a driving experience as you’d expect of this sort of engine, gutsy

The upshot is that

enough when the boost is up, quite

we’ve already got

clattery and completely lacking in any-

other cars on the

thing at the top of its rev range which

road today also with

could be called interesting or entertain-

variants of Getrag

ing, and of course a massive chasm of

DCT ‘boxes. Sporty

no power at all before the turbo spools

cars like M3s, Z4s,


Ferraris, even the eagerly anticipated

And the technical highlight? Getrag is

Merc SLS will have

certainly a company which motoring

one. And the truth

enthusiasts across the world will know,

is, thank goodness

having been the developers behind a

for the recession,

stack of very enjoyable silky-smooth

because the Jour-

six-speed manual transmissions for

ney is by far the furthest from a rea-

some legendary real-world and exotic

sonable application of this technology

performance icons. So the debut of the

as is possible, and it would have been

company’s dual-clutch efforts here is

a sad loss for gearbox development in-

definitely worth noting.

deed if the exclusivity agreement had remained intact.

Of course, this car was originally released to the American public back in 92


Now naturally this brick-like body is APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t not hiding a super sports car chassis.

ful measure of acceleration begins!

No, the Journey is big, heavy, and is supposed to be comfortable. But the

Yet after pull off the box is programmed

combination of the gearbox, which is

a touch too sporty, revving the diesel

undoubtedly very good on its own, and

motor at rpms where it’s completely run

the crippling turbo lag is taking things a

out of puff most of the time rather than

bit too far, particularly on pull off. The

capitalising on the 2000 – 3000rpm

‘box doesn’t allow for that all-essen-

torque, the consequences of which

tial clutch-slip to get over the massive

are that you use the manual selection

torque hole, which is crushing right the

mode to knock the gears about yourself

way through to 2000rpm on the nose,

to save the wasted cash in fuel.

and the 0-100km/h dash seems to take 4 or 5 seconds before the engine even

Sure, the shifts themselves are smooth

gets on top of things and any meaning-

and seamless, the trademark of a DCT

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st

system, even if this added refinement

As a whole, in fact, the Journey CRD

is somewhat offset by the clattery mo-

R/T is a comfortable place to spend

tor. And if you don’t mind the lethargic

several hours getting places, whether

pulloff and your right foot seldom sways

via the open road or through the knots

into any sort of performance mode, it

of rush hour Jo’Burg traffic. Fuel con-

does make for very relaxed and un-

sumption is also quite reasonable con-

“Fuel consumption is also quite reasonable considering the bulk of imposing Yankee metal you’re propelling along.” fussed driving, the gearbox just shuf-

sidering the bulk of imposing Yankee

fling up to the highest gear as soon as

metal you’re propelling along. We did

possible in the interests of the economy

however feel that the low-rent interior

your avoidance of the throttle is taken

and FWD-only drivetrain didn’t quite

to imply.

live up to the R400K pricetag, espe-



APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t cially considering that MyGig setup is a

that’s the important bit.

R10 grand optional extra. For you, the Journey will represent an Of course there are those customers

affordable, practicality-oriented step up

who get and enjoy the values that are

from a crossover like the Caliber to full-

built-in to American vehicles, enough

fledged Dodge SUV ownership. And if

to overlook flimsy materials and floods

I wasn’t so interested in driving any-

of daft warning labels that also come

more, I could totally see why the Jour-

with them. It’s just about entirely to do

ney CRD would be very attractive.

with their swaggery natures, and the Journey manages to capture that de-

Russell Bennett

spite the rather un-American choice of powerplant. It still looks like it should be powered by a Hemi V8 though, so

Liked Fully loaded spec Chunky handsomeness

Disliked Lethargic pulloff Coarse engine

Drive Vitals

Dodge Journey CRD R/t


4 Cylinder Turbo Diesel




103kW@ 4000 rpm


310Nm@ 1750 rpm

Kerb weight

1905 Kg

Driven wheels



6 speed Getrag dual-clutch



Price R399 900

(R10 300 for MyGig, as fitted to test car)

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st



APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t

Citroen C5 2.0 HDI Auto


he Citroen C5 is a car you buy with your heart, not your head. It doesn’t have the same status as the big 3 German brands and the resale value is always a concern. But what you get is a car that’s a little bit different, a little bit more exclusive. What it says about you is that you have the ability to think for yourself and that you don’t follow the crowd like a sheep...

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st

Not only that, you don’t really want to

The C5 is beautiful, and it has a typi-

buy your next car just because it will

cally French character about it. Citroen

have a higher resale value in years to

has decided to stop being embarrassed

come now do you? If you do, you’ll have

about being French at last. The car is

to ride around for 3 years or so in a

styled to represent its heritage rather

car that wasn’t your first choice just so

than emulate other countries designs.

that it will be worth a bit more when you

A pair of large headlights and the Cit-

come to sell it. And, you’re quite likely

roen emblem dominates the long bon-

“The C5 is beautiful, and it has a typically French character about it.” to find that this perceived extra value is

net. Under the bumper there is a huge

a false comfort. All cars depreciate and

air intake mouth garnished on each

all owners are shocked at what they are

side with fair sized fog lights. The cur-

offered as a trade in.

vaceous body slopes to the rear and ends up with a high boot. This model



APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t plenty of equipment and once that is taken into account, the price starts to look quite reasonable. But what you do get is that French flair, that feeling that you’re driving something more interesting than, well, anybody else. The C5 comes standard with just about everything that opens and shuts. Standard equipment includes electric front seats with memory on the driver’s side and they’ll even give you a massage on the way home after a tiring day! You get Bluetooth and iPod connect and the CD player can handle MP3 discs. You get cruise control that will put the brakes on when you’re going down a hill. The headlights




differs from the older generation car in

function and they look round corners

that it has a boot rather than a hatch-

when you turn the steering wheel.

back, much more sensible really, and less shopping-trolley, more alternative


saloon. The rear windscreen is concave and the whole package is finished-off



inch wheels. Our test car, the 2.0 Diesel, may be priced in line with the competition but you do get AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st

The 2.0 litre diesel engine produces 120kW and 340Nm of Torque. Although the 0-100 time is quoted as a pedestrian 10 seconds, the car feels sprightly. It’s not sparkling, but more than adequate and having lumps of torque gives the feeling of more power. Anyway this is not the sort of car that you use for drag racing. You do always feel that you have enough power for dayto-day driving and it does perform well as a high-speed cruiser. The six speed automatic gearbox suits the car well, which is a good thing since there is no manual option. 100


APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that the build quality is right up there with the best, significantly better than the outgoing model. There is a quality feel to the interior. The leather is top quality and all of the switchgear feels like it will last the life of the car. The car rides extremely well even though the 2.0l isn’t fitted with Hydractive suspension, just conventional steel springs and dampers. It soaks up

bumps without jarring your spine and should you feel in the mood for some spirited driving it handles corners without fuss. The seats are comfortable and interior noise is virtually non-existent. The 2.0l Diesel is reasonably economical as you might expect. The French know something about oil burning engines given that petrol in France is much more expensive than diesel. Our ed managed to drag 10 liters of fuel through per hundred k’s while trying to emulate Sebastien Loeb but driven more sensibly – by me – the consump-

“The 2.0 litre diesel engine produces 120kW and 340Nm of Torque.”

tion was low 7’s. On a longer run you should be able to get it down to about 5l/100. The C5 is different and that’s a good thing. When you stop at a set of lights

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st

you won’t be amongst several cars all

of the controls are in exactly the same

the same. You stand out from the crowd.

place regardless of the wheel position.

It tells people that you are an individu-

The number of controls on the hub is a

al, that you don’t just choose your car

bit daunting at first but after a few min-

because you want to fit in. This is a car

utes you should have it all worked out.

for free-thinking drivers that appreciate

All of the audio functions are replicated

a car for it’s style and ability rather than

as well as everything you need to oper-

badge alone.

ate the cruise control.

The interior is where you really start to

The instrument panel has orange LCD’s

appreciate that you are in a car that’s

in the middle with analogue needles

a bit special. Citroens have always

around the outside. It looks really cool

been a bit quirky but once you start to

and works well. Our ed did complain

live with one, the quirkiness all starts

that you actually have to look at the

to make perfect sense. The seats are

needles to know what’s going on rather

stylish and have a typically French

than just the angle of the needle on a

look and feel to them. The large centre

traditional panel, and that when you’re

steering wheel hub is fixed so that all

really focussing that takes several mil-



APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t The new C5 is a quality car. It’s big, comfortable




equipment. If you run with the pack, buy the as

same all


around you. If on the other hand you are a leader not a

liseconds longer for your eyes to focus. I do see his point but I had no problems gleaning the information required. Should you decide that you don’t need the information from the trip computer you can switch to a digital speed readout.


you appreciate style and function over peer pressure, the C5 might just be the car for you.

Steve Allison

Drive Vitals

Citroen C5 2.0 HDI


4 Cylinder Turbo Diesel




120kW@ 3730 rpm


340Nm@ 2000 rpm

Kerb weight

1609 Kg

Driven wheels



6 speed Automatic




R369 000

AP R I L 2 0 1 0




Audi A4 2.0 TFSI Stop Start


uel consumption, I’m sure we all know, is no constant. Those EU combined-cycle consumption figures are not only unobtainable in the real world, but also depend largely on the angle at which the driver’s right foot is attached to his leg.

D r ive Te st A heavy throttle foot can make the

down ever so slightly by eliminating the

“greenest” petrol or even electricity-

wastage of all the idling our engines

consuming car a CO2 emissions night-

have to do in their daily duties.

mare, it’s that simple. And anyone who drives with the cognisance in our opin-

It basically works like this. You pull up

ion required to drive safely on any road

at a robot, or behind gridlocked traffic,

network around the globe, likely knows

slip the manual gearlever into neutral,

the correlation well. But companies like

and release the clutch. Then, provided

Audi still have to fit clever digital set-

the engine is up to it’s most efficient

ups to help the so-called driver to learn

operating temperature and the climate

how to optimise their driving style! I just

control on any setting other than “Low”,

don’t quite understand it.

the engine will be turned off. All the electronics, your radio, ventilation sys-

Anyway, the clever economy-oriented

tem, etc, remain powered, so as the

software packages aren’t all this A4

lights go green and you dip the clutch in preparation for pulling off, the motor is quickly spun into life and you’re away. Regular


will probably be expecting huge criticism from us, selfproclaimed


of all emissions-reducing technology, but we really only 2.0 TFSI has to offer to save our plan-

complain about these things when they

et from the evils of emissions. This is

directly impact our driving enjoyment.

also a Stop Start equipped car, a semi-

Stop Start is as meaningless to your

active solution for driving consumption

daily drive as the meagre 0.2l/100km



APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t

consumption improvement Audi claims.

easy to ignore. In principle we still don’t

If you’re in need of some environmen-

see why we need a supercomputer to

tal smugness, by all means slot neutral

tell us to shift as quickly as possible

and laud it over the emissions-spewing

into the highest gear if we’re running

dinosaurs around you before heading

on fumes, but hey.

on your way again. Otherwise you can just ignore it completely, keep first se-

In fact, some of the adjustments to this

lected as you normally would, and your

A4, made for the sake of the environ-

life wouldn’t be changed in any way at

ment, we actually quite like. The mus-

all! That’s the sort of emissions control

cular turbocharged 2.0-litre four, es-

we like, it’s totally non-intrusive.

sentially the unit fitted to the Golf 6 GTI and so producing 155kW and a broad

Even the indicator on the dash which

spread of torque, is mated to a six-

suggests shifting to more efficient gear

speed manual ‘box with revised ratios

ratios isn’t that bad – because it’s very

allowing the 120km/h cruise to need

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st

just under 2000rpm in top.

is strictly FWD. And of course, the DSG ‘box is out and a good old manual your

This gearing makes it a bit slower than

only option. All this is good, very good.

a GTI off the line of course – second runs right up to 120km/h for instance,

Speaking of the transmission, it’s a nice

but at the top end they give this A4 the

positive six-speeder except for the sec-

legs to run easily into a 250km/h lim-

ond to third shift. For some reason, our

iter. In fact, 260 on the speedo is just

example just never felt like it was prop-

about the top, of fifth, relegating sixth

erly engaging third, and as you dropped

to a cruising-only overdrive.

the clutch after a snap shift there was always the fear that you’d end up rev-

It’s a holistic approach too, so Audi has

ving the engine sky-high against neu-

also examined what other convenience

tral. It never actually happened, but

features impact fuel economy, and

that’s what the feel through the stick

stripped these out as well. Like electri-


cally-adjusted seats, for instance, and the heavy Quattro drivetrain – this A4 108


That ubiquitous 2.0-litre turbomotor is APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t and superb, upmarket cabin, the A4 also differs from its VW stablemate at the front. Although limited to FWD, the A4 does without the clever XDS electronic differential. It provides a great insight into why the GTI has this new development fitted, as although the revised A4 chassis initially feels even livelier and more alert than a GTI (thank that meticulous attention to the positioning of weight at the front end, which Audi applied when it launched the currentgeneration A4 to quell all the cries of “too much understeer” in their Quattro models especially), it ultimately can’t match the freakish cornering capabilities of the iconic hot hatch. even more muted and refined than it is in a GTI too, although there’s some distant enthusiasm to the gathering roar when your foot is ignoring the gearchange

It is progressive, with surprising feel through the wheel after the ridiculously light helm of the S4, and quite a hoot


completely. The generous shove in the back it provides is still encouraging for the keen driver however, where the 1.8T really lacks any measure of excitement or sparkle. Apart from the much more stylish exterior AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st

to hustle along a favourite back road.

reduction in fuel consumption is nev-

In fact, completely unexpectedly, I think

er going to save our apparently dying

it’s the nicest drivers’ A4 on the market.

planet, at least they highlight that the

It feels much lighter and more agile than

German manufacturer is trying, and not

Quattro variants, the engine is refined

just with its extreme e-Tron concepts

by torquey especially here at altitude,

but across the entire model spectrum.

“...the A4 2.0 TFSI Stop Start is a trick, a vapour, a tiny step.” and it’s another of those really stealthy

If little touches like this can give the

lookers very much like the original A4.

petrol engine a few more years of fea-

Understated, but still stunning. It’s low-

sibility, they’re worth it in my book.

er and broader than previous generation models, visually sporty despite the

Certainly, Stop Start is no panacea, no

planet-assisting technology focus.

coverall environmental solution. But then you have to doubt if there is such

And although the comparatively minor 110


a thing at all. Electric cars still require APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t pollution-spewing powerplants to fuel

this A4, even we enthusiasts aren’t go-

them, hybrids still run good old petrol

ing to fight against it.

or diesel at their hearts... Perhaps little details like this and the continuing ad-

Easily the most fun of the eco-minded

vancements of cleaner, more efficient

cars we’ve driven so far, the A4 2.0

engines will yield the needed results

TFSI Stop Start is a trick, a vapour,

without completely giving up on per-

a tiny step. But it is stepping the right

sonal mobility as we know and love it

way, and is still a brilliant car.


Russell Bennett Besides, if the tech is embedded into cars as competent and comfortable as

Liked Eco-smugness just a dip of the clutch away Torquey engine Most feelsome dynamics of the A4 range

Disliked Idiot’s guide to driving economically Dodgy third gear synchro

Drive Vitals

Audi A4 2.0TFSI Ambition


4 Cylinder Turbo petrol




132kW@ 4000-6000 rpm


320Nm@ 1500-3900 rpm

Kerb weight

1430 Kg

Driven wheels



6 speed manual




R341 500

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



“Yes, it is a bottom of the range vehicle but it punches above its weight admirably...�


he Polo we had for this road test was the cheapest in the range, the 1.4 Trendline. Now normally that would immediately set off alarm bells in the Drive office, a bottom of the range volume seller, but what this nuggety little 1400 does is quite remarkable actually. Yes, it is a bottom of the range vehicle but it punches above its weight admirably, and on first inspection does so at a very aggressive price. On closer inspection however when considering several of the options we had installed the pricing goes from aggressive to fairly average, competitive but not a basement bargain. Still, the performance on offer from the Polo was more than expected.

D r ive Te st segment that’s what really hits home. And in this regard the Polo scores laudably, particularly on fuel economy. Whilst consciously attempting to be frugal, it isn’t difficult to consistently return below the 6L/100km mark. What’s great about the Polo’s engine though is that even if you’re

“Commuting then in the Polo is a breeze...” not concerned with saving fuel, it is still light on the fuel bill, pushing hard from every robot I still got economy hovering around the 7L/100km point. The key you see is torque,




something that the worlds ecomentalists haven’t quite grasped. The strong motor means that it isn’t necessary to rev the motor to death to go As the Polo falls into the relatively affordable volume seller bracket, it needs to achieve two goals out the blocks; it has to be well priced and fuel-efficient. Sure, there is so much more to judging a car but at the end of the day, in this 114


anywhere, lower rpm means better economy, simple as that. With 132Nm of torque at 3200rpm the Polo has one of the meatiest motors in its class, sure its power of 63kW at 5000rpm isn’t that great compared APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t

to competitors but if fuel economy is of

steering just isn’t that direct. This of

primary importance then this engine is

course has been done to improve low

exceptionally good.

speed; dreary commuting in traffic, and it does work. The light steering, even

That’s not to say that the Polo is just

lighter clutch, responsive breaks and a

about economy, the performance of

gearbox that slips the cogs in and out

the Polo is actually very impressive,

in a docile manner makes for easy driv-

“With 132Nm of torque at 3200rpm the Polo has one of the meatiest motors in its class...” being quick enough off the line. The

ing. Commuting then in the Polo is a

controls however are a bit too light

breeze, especially when combined with

all round for fast driving, the steering

the hallmark of VW’s German nature,

at times feeling somewhat numb. The

their almost flawless build quality. The

handling is good, but sometimes the

Polo is just a nice place to be in, or at

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st least it is when considering the price bracket within which it falls, few cars in this segment are this comfortable to commute in. So the Polo confidently checks the efficiency and comfort boxes, but does it succeed in the aforementioned price department? The answer to that isn’t as cut and dry as the admirable fuel economy and build quality. The base price is very well positioned at R144 900, and for a sub 150k car the Polo offers a quality level above its price. The problem is that a lot of the little things I took for granted and generally improved my opinion of the Polo were in fact rather

pricey optional extras. With some quick arithmetic it turns out that our Polo was more like a 160k car, which it is worth but at that price the Polo is no longer a bargain anymore. The price is competitive, just not a nobrainer. And it’s not as if the options I’m talking about are gimmicks easily discarded either. Just shy of ten grand for air-con, another four grand for an mp3 radio/cd player and seven grand for a 60,000km service plan. Now you see what I mean, the



APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t options


add up.

of shopping. The steering wheel and seats, the most visceral conduits for a driver to connect to a car, just felt good.



the Polo is a wellengineered

Overall the Polo looks good and does so whilst offering a comfortable drive.


cle at a reason-

To sum up the Polo in theory is a little

able price for the

difficult, whilst overall it impresses on



all fronts, the options list keeps pulling


at me. A reasonably specced Polo isn’t

ble, but that’s the

too expensive but it’s getting there.



Still, the Polo’s price performance ratio


is well intact. After all is said and done,

needs to consider

when VW picked up the Polo I was sad

the styling and in-

to see it go, and that says a lot for a car

terior ambience. The new VW family

in this segment, possibly all that needs

styling is there in full force and whilst

to be said. There was over half a tank

the rear isn’t that purposeful for me the

of fuel in its belly though, so maybe that

front is sharp and works well. The in-

had something to do with it.



side too appealed to me. There was enough room for rear passengers and

Kyle Stone

the boot could fit an adequate amount

Drive Vitals

VW Polo 1.4 Trendline


Four nat asp

Capacity (cc)


Power (kW)

63 @ 5000rpm

Torque (Nm)

132 @3600rpm

Kerb weight (kg)


Driven wheels


Wheel/tyre dimensions

175/70 R14




R144, 900.00 + options

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D r ive Te st



APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t

Chery J1


n the last month, two colleagues in magazine motoring journalism land up in Gauteng have been put through the rigours of our young democracy. Hijacked, bagged, carted around by the elite SA caste – criminals; although one of them actually found his hijackers more courteous than the police he encountered later that evening. Without wanting to make very much of a joke out of this appalling state of local affairs, it was with some misery that, after stopping, alone, to photograph the Chery J1 in a muddy field at nightfall, I didn’t have the same experience. That at least would’ve meant some excitement, some adventure, nothing like a direct threat to your life to get the blood pumping after all, and some neverhaving-to-drive-this-thing-again kind of fuzzy feelings in my very own fantasy land. Pay over R100K (R118 for our highspec model) for a car which, if you love cars for their passion, the thrill of their freedom, the flow of their chassis... you will absolutely hate, and you’d feel really cheated. We’d say with the J1 you’d have every right to feel this way.

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st So let’s see. This TX model J1 does

lever is to your hand.

get you electric windows and mirrors, a CD player, aircon, power steering, ABS

From outside there’s little distinctive

and a pair of front airbags for safety.

about it – it could well be an i10 or a

Feels like it needs it too, I had more

small city car from any other manufac-

butt-clenching moments in this at 120

turer really, but it isn’t altogether of-

than you’ll ever know in an M3 pinned

fensive either. Nor are their obvious,

against its 250km/h limiter. Oh yes, this

glaring panel gaps or bits falling off by

model even has rear-facing PDC! Fan-

default. Sure it could do with some big-


ger wheels to fill those big arches more

Otherwise the interior is, a little weird



likeable, sort of a rehash of several sporty Europeans in one. The small instrumentation complete with tiny markings


the easiest to read but look quite fresh and elegant, but whoever designed that


ought to be put in charge of designing the next global shopping


so irritating, and wonky-feeling, this weird flat plastic 120


APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t convincingly, but you can’t have the

rear. In short, you’re nowhere at all.

world for R118K. Let’s take for instance accelerating in

“There’s so little power on tap that trucks will flash their lights at you in the left lane pulling away from robots,...” However it then takes all of the length

third gear. Push the throttle to the bulk-

of a standard 100m sprint, once you’ve

head, and you’ll find the motor isn’t

made yourself as comfortable as possi-

really willing to spin beyond 5000rpm

ble behind the wheel (not very), to know

in third – anything beyond second in

that this is a car with only one, singular

fact. You can get rid of this problem,

purpose in mind. Moving its passen-

by pressing hard against the already-

gers, from here to there, using some

pinned accelerator, which compresses

form of powerplant and four round rub-

some of the carpet beneath it or some-

ber things to roll upon. And even doing

thing and suddenly the engine noise

that, it’s obvious that it operates “on the

changes distinctively and you can rev


up to the 6000rpm mark.

It’s positively abominable to drive.

Doesn’t exactly make you feel good

There’s so little power on tap that trucks

though. Not only is your car about as

will flash their lights at you in the left

powerful as an oxygen-deprived moth,

lane pulling away from robots, thinking

it’s poorly built as well! Great!

you’re a decrepit old plonker with half an inch of right-ankle flexibility, even when

In fact the total lack of puff the J1 dis-

you’re caning the Chery to its limits. In

plays is actual seriously dangerous out

the robot-to-robot racing pecking order,

in the cut-and-thrust of real-world traf-

you’re somewhere below 20-year-old

fic. You’re just never where you need

smoke-belching faceless Toyota and

to be in the J1, usually either languish-

Ford pickups and those 3.5-ton trucks

ing in the black smoke of big trucks in

you see with chassis’ angled 30-de-

the left-hand lane because you know

grees different at the front than at the

that a 6-year old on a bicycle would

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D r ive Te st have more chance of accelerating up

utes of enduring that offensive blare of

to the speed of upcoming traffic in the

full-throttle in a J1 to finally achieve the

fast lane should you go for an overtake,

velocity, it seems as though a brief lift

or urging the car on to crawl past real

of the throttle or, heaven forfend, a cor-

slow-lane dawdlers with the flashing

ner of any variety will wipe 20km/h off

lights of faster traffic, like horse-carts,

your speed leaving you 5 more minutes

dazzling your rear-view mirror! These

of fuel-heavy full throttle to get back to

ridiculous limitations make even expe-

the enforced speed limit.

rienced drivers nervous wrecks out in city driving, first-time car owners which

Despite the absolute lack of any sort

the J1 is targeted at are going to be to-

of forward thrust, it’s a rough and un-

tally put off the concept of driving at all

pleasant motor generally (Euro II spec-

if this is their day to day experience.

ifications compliant, apparently), and combined with ridiculous gear whine

Just how bad is the performance? Well

totally unnecessary on a standard five-

put it this way, it’s actually really tough

speed ‘box mated to a motor with bare-

to stick to the 120km/h South African

ly enough torque to blow down dande-

freeway speed limit in the J1. After min-

lions. Hit the brakes and the front disc/ rear drum combo make a painful grinding sound and are quite tough to modulate, while the ride is very bouncy on anything but highway tarmac. If what you really want is an econo-box on wheels which no matter how much petrol pumps through your veins will never ever inspire you to try and have a moment of fun with your car, well you’re likely to get better quality from rebranded Eastern European marques, even if you miss out on some of the perceived luxury items.



APRIL 2010

Dr i v e T e s t

What the J1 does perfectly, is highlight

of motoring, and takes the automobile

just how gaping a hole the loss of the

from being romantic icons of freedom

Citi is – the Mk 1 cost about the same

and the mechanical embodiment of the

as this car, with build quality from an

spirit of adventure, right down to being

entirely different engineering epoch,

Nothing. More. Than. Cars.

similar equipment, and generous helpings of fun, character, and giant-slaying

Cheap. Cars. At that.

latent sporting potential. And I just can’t get past the fact of how This Chery is quite literally, the antith-

dangerous the entire sensation of driv-

esis of all of these. It saps the fun out

ing actually feels despite the low speeds

AP R I L 2 0 1 0



D r ive Te st the Chery is capable of. There is such

from now on, come to think of it.

a thing as too slow, and a motor putting out the power of a weak commuter bike

Perhaps at R60 – 80K it could be com-

in a 1000kg car platform is, well, it. It

mendable for sheer unadulterated val-

turns you into no more than an obstruc-

ue. But at R118K, we can’t recommend

tion in traffic, and actually seems to at-

this as a purchase in any way. And any

tract a lot of anger and aggression from

magazine putting it anywhere near the

fellow road users even when not direct-

top three in any shootout consisting of

ly getting in their ways.

four or more cars, is just looking to attract some advertising budget.

Having driven one, I think I’ll feel the same about Cherys and their drivers

Russell Bennett

Liked That it went back without anyone dying in it

Disliked Low-rent interior Engine seems even weaker than 61kW Bumpy ride Massive body roll

Drive Vitals

Chery J1 TX


4 Cylinder petrol




61kW@ 6000 rpm


114Nm@ 3800 rpm

Kerb weight

1040 Kg

Driven wheels



5 speed manual


Not quoted. Around 20s, at a guess


R116 900



APRIL 2010

Drive Magazine April 2010  

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