Page 1

NEW

NEWLY LAUNCHED!

Hyundai Veloster Mercedes E-Class

AUGUST 2013

What's in a name? S4 v RS4 M135i v 1 M Coupe CDI v AMG

DOWNSIZING? Check out this month's road tests! Ford Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost Citroen DS3 VTi 82 Ford Kuga 1.6 Ecoboost Infiniti M37 S

TOP 5 PASSION RATINGS Every Car Category Rated Monthly!


NEW

CONTENTS A LITTLE TORQUE 7 Not the Usual The Old Ed has been at the happy juice again, and has pinpointed just what makes Drive different in the process.

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WORDS FROM THE WISE 8 The Name Game

Car naming conventions aren't at all conventions anymore. They seem to be some sort of game designed to befuddle at times. So what's the story?

DRIVE FEATURES

13 Naming and Shaming When it comes to motoring, the difference of a single letter in a car name can be the difference between a legend and a lemon. Just what is it that makes that particular version better than the rest?

34

14 Audi RS4 vs S4 - It's supercharged V6 versus high-revving nat-asp V8 at last! A direct, head to head comparison to see if old fashioned or new age really is better. 24 BMW M135i vs 1 Series M - Many have decreed the M135i a "cheaper 1-Series M Coupe". Is it really, though? Can it possibly be? 34 Mercedes-Benz CLS250 CDI vs CLS63 AMG - Although everyone quite naturally lusts after the big, V8 beast, could the new CDI perhaps be the best CLS of the bunch?

DOWNSIZED ROUNDUP

44

42 Intro - Instead of the regular relatively random smattering of road tests, this month we've grouped several which cater to the increasingly popular downsizing segment to figure out just what's good about this approach, and what isn't. 44 Ford Fiesta Ecoboost 1.0 - An icon of downsizing, this trendy little Ford seems to have everything right. But there's one crucial element which we feel it didn't. 48 Citroen DS3 VTi 82 - This looked sure to be the first DS3 we haven't enjoyed. But despite no turbo and very modest power, this clever French manufacturer has actually done it again! 52 Ford Kuga 1.6 Ecoboost Ambiente - Our second Ecoboosted motor of the month, the Kuga with its shrunken power plant makes a lot more sense than the first. 56 Infiniti M37 S - Downsizing for the banking exec. The interesting Infiniti, although pitched against the 5-Series, is really playing in a whole other ball game.

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AUGUST 2013

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48 56 54 60

LAUNCH DRIVES

60 Distinctively Different - Hyundai Veloster This funny little three-door from Hyundai captures plenty of attention, but is it for any of the right reasons? Luckily, the turbo version is still coming to our shores some time soon... 66 Mercedes E-Class The iconic E-Class. More tech-laden, more luxurious, more imperious than anything in its class? Perhaps, and now, packing a wider variety of engines and body styles than ever, too!

TOP

5S - EVERY MOTORING NICHE THAT MATTERS

Check out our Top 5 selections of just about every motoring niche that you could be interested in. Updated monthly from our own enthusiastic angle.

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3


TORQUE EDITORS LETTER nEWly lAUnChED!

NEW

hyundai Veloster Mercedes E-Class

AUGUST 2013

What's in a name? S4 v RS4 M135i v 1 M Coupe CDi v AMG

DoWnSizinG? Check out this month's road tests! Ford Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost Citroen DS3 VTi 82 Ford Kuga 1.6 Ecoboost infiniti M37 S

Top 5 PASSion RATinGS Every Car Category Rated Monthly!

EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Russell Bennett DESIGN STUDIO James Clark TRAFFIC Juanita Heilbron FINANCIAL MANAGER Marisa George WEB ADMINISTRATOR Russell Bennett

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www.drivemagazine.co.za All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or used in any form without prior written consent and permission from Real Estate Media. The publisher gives no written guarantees or assurances and makes no representation regarding any goods or services written or advertised within this edition. Prospective investors should always consult their attorneys, advisors or accountants. Copyright Š Real Estate Media cc

NOT THE USUAL This first official relaunch issue of the New Drive Magazine is, well not to put too fine a point on it, a little bit different from the other motoring publications available today. I thought I'd take this opportunity to highlight just why, hopefully without upsetting too many apple carts along the way. Although, scratch that actually, because upsetting those apple carts is really precisely what Drive is all about. You see, here we believe in evaluating cars entirely from the perspective of the consumer. Not taking the wants and needs of the manufacturer, environmental pressure groups, advertisers, or hyper-wealthy thought leaders into too much consideration at all. In short, we evaluate every single vehicle, be it a R120k budget buy, an R800k sports sedan, or a R2m supercar, on the basis of the name of the publication. How it drives. In this day and age, that's unusual. The truth is that most motoring publications have caved on at least a couple of these criteria, leaving out particularly the enthusiast consumer who doesn't much care about the price, brand, or possibly even CO2 emissions rating of a car, but instead cares only for the more intangible, almost unqualifiable elements of vehicle ownership. How it makes them feel to look at, sit inside, and blast down a (preferably deserted) favourite stretch of gloriously twisty tarmac. We take this Average Joe approach to motoring journalism because, in truth, we at Drive are pretty much your average Joe. We aren't wealthy playboys with our own fleet of high-end machinery stacked away in various garages around the country, and probably choice bits of Europe to boot. The heavy-hitters of the performance brigade wither our wallets just as quickly as they will yours. We aren't race car drivers with some time to spare either. Which is just as well really, because what works on a race track does not a great road car make. Not even close. What we are, are lifetime enthusiasts of the world of motoring, with extensive experience of a huge variety of vehicles thanks to the Drive Magazine brand. No more and no less. With our own distinctive opinions and preferences based on this very conventional background. And all the better for it, at least in our own opinion. Enjoy the Drive. That's what it was created for, after all.

D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

Russell Bennett Editor-in-Chief

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WORDS FROM THE WISE

By BRUCE BENNETT

The Name Game T he old-fashioned among us often yearn for the days when car names and sub-labels were easier to understand.

Even in recent years, if you came across a BMW 328i, you could be sure it had a 2.8-litre engine. Now you have to check the specifications list to discover it is powered by a two-litre motor, and a four-cylinder at that. The same sort of thing - labels correlating to engine size - once applied to Mercedes-Benz cars. Some-one then got the idea, no doubt to save costs, that the numbers on the car’s badge need not relate to the engine under the bonnet. So, for example, a Mercedes SLK 200 and SLK 250 both use 1.8-litre engines, but in a different state of tune. Many manufacturers have sympathy with the buying public and have maintained the tradition of clarity. So when you look at a Fiat 500, to use just one example, you know that the 1.2 Lounge and the 1.2 Pop have the same engine size, and usually the same power and torque. This applies also to other consumer-class cars like Hyundai Accents and Elantras, Hondas, Kias, Nissans, VWs and the rest. The really smart vehicles rise above all this. Bentley does not deign to mention engine size in their models. Instead, you get racing-heritage names such as the Mulsanne. Rolls-Royce, too, has stuck to its own tradition with names such as Ghost and Phantom. Ferrari’s California is a beautifully evocative name but the Ferrari laFerrari is more than a bit off the wall. At least when you notice a Merc has an AMG badge you know this particular model, and others like it, is about monstrous power and performance. BMW makes it even simpler with just one letter, M, to denote the same thing.

Folk lore has it that the move away from car names to numberseries and alphabet-groupings has to do with the globalisation of the motor industry. So names that go down well in one part of the world may be unsuitable for others. One Japanese carmaker apparently found to its embarrassment that the name of one of its macho products meant something quite insulting in Spanish. On a more local note, GWM came up with an unfortunate name, the Florid, for a rather cute hatchback. Florid may mean something else in China but in most English-speaking countries it sounds like an over-rosy complexion. They made it worse by calling a macho-looking version the Florid Cross, making one think involuntarily of an angry Mr Plod ... VW recently brought its latest Golf GTi to South Africa. You can get a GT as well, but it won’t be the same much-loved performance model without the "i". Anyway, VW’s mostlyabout-looks GT is to be found in its bread 'n butter Polo Vivo range, and you don’t get a Golf GT. End of the confusion? Oh no - VW puts out a Polo GTi as well. At one time GT, for Gran Turismo, was a label for Grand Touring cars such as Aston Martin and other aristocrats. Maserati still has a current model called the GranTurismo, which is about as far as one can get from the Polo Vivo GT. I find it strangely difficult to scratch up odd car names from history. This could be down to the following reasons, or a combination of them: one, because those early cars were usually named for their founders, or the places they were first made; two, they had the first pick of all the good names; three, my memory is getting even more shaky than usual. We can get past the subject of Peugeot quite easily because, with typical French style and disdain for what anyone else may think, they have for many decades ingeniously used numbers to describe their various models, be it the famous 404 to the more modern 207s, 3008s etc. The only hiccup I can remember is when they introduced the 2007 and were challenged by the people who own the James Bond franchise copyrights. A way around this was found, apparently, by calling the vehicle the two-thousand and seven, instead of the twodouble-oh-seven ... One can only imagine the French rolling their eyes.

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Hot off the web Are hybrid hypercars really the pinnacle of engineering tech? Well, you know that we don't really think so, but how about another take? http://youtu.be/1KW6PVnjfOo

Mercedes A45 AMG versus M135i. Whichever way this battle goes we, probably a lot like you, still really want to get our asses into an A45 AMG. http://youtu.be/bOA5YN6ryz4

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An owners' perspective on the new Aston Martin Vanquish. It's still a stunning thing, either way. http://youtu.be/-UYigKAG8VU

Ever wondered what the legendary, BMW-built V12 from the McLaren F1 looks like up close? Jay Leno's garage is happy to oblige, and what a thing of beauty it is. http://youtu.be/IQ8DHtR9P7w

Although we're mostly huge fans of machines, there's a lot of undisputable proof out there that prove that there's not much in this world as awesome as human beings! http://youtu.be/d2YFVkrzJRw

D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

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Legend, or Llama? W

hile BMW did things one way, first establishing the regular 325i as a class-leading sports saloon and then building the legend of the M3 from that base, perennial competitor Audi had to take another route. Largely because the original S4 wasn't exactly all that. But when the RS4 came along, it changed the game entirely... The set of features that follows, is all about just how much difference that one critical letter (or group of letters) actually makes to the driving experience. Is an RS4 really just a more expensive and slightly quicker version of the S4, or is there more to it than that? Can an M135i really match the limited-run glory of the massively celebrated 1-Series M Coupe? And which is really the better car, the humble new CLS 250 CDI, or the shouty CLS 63 AMG? These features strive to answer these questions, from the pure perspective of the drive which we always adopt in this magazine. Pitting family members against one another to discover what's real, and what's mere marketing hype. Slicing through the metaphors and hyperbole of modern motoring journalism to reveal the underlying truth. You might be surprised at the results... Enough of the waffle though - let's sort this thorny question out once and for all!

D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

13


FEATURE

Audi S4 or RS4

Superchargin

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D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


ng vs NA

D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

15


FEATURE

Audi S4 or RS4

I

t isn’t only Audi that brands its top performance models with the iconic RS scripting. Ford have used it to denote ultimate versions of various models through the years, Porsche naturally reserve it for their most focussed, engineering-obsessive versions, and Renault has happily adopted these two letters as an acronym for RenaultSport.

performance legends. A move which has, in truth, resulted in the production of some of the best performance cars the marque makes. In particular, both the S3 and TT S are actually better steers than their RS counterparts, despite the 2.5-litre turbo charged 5-cylinder engine in both of these cars being an honest to goodness gem of a motor.

But Audi, arguably, has evolved the moniker the furthest. It has even gone as far as to drop the “R� from its merelywarm models to denote a step down from the all-singing

Both A3 and TT S models however represent an ideal mix of performance and practicality. Their 2.0-litre force-fed fourcylinders punch more than adequately, while also being

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D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


restrained and relatively fuel efficient when tasked with merely popping up to the shops. The S3 I ran as a longtermer in a previous motoring-journo life was one of those cars that literally left an aching wound in my heart when the manufacturers came a-calling to reclaim. The same formula has been applied to the A4 range, and these two cars are the results. But can the S4, with its force-fed, supercharged 3.0-litre V6 really challenge the monumental might of the new RS4? We got hold of both in their most interesting Avant formats and set about finding out – not to mention thoroughly enjoying ourselves in the process!

A Satin Glove? The first time you get into the S4, it’s no disappointment. The cabin is both high-quality and ergonomically ideal, something of an Audi trademark these days. Technophobes still aren’t going to be too pleased with the bewildering array of buttons cluttering-up every surface from the centre console up, but for those who revel in rather than recoil from technological progress, it’s very well endowed. That pervasive sense of well-being continues once you’ve fired up the ‘charged V6. This is still an executive saloon of course, so the cacophony from the engine isn’t allowed to dominate the experience entirely, but when your foot hits the floor there’s an appreciable hardening of the note as the V6 shoulders the load, and a meaty bark to the characteristic DSG (S-Tronic, in an Audi) shift process. It’s quick too, although it’s quite deceptive. The engine responds with enormous reserves of torque – immediately.

D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

“DYNAMICALLY THE S4 IS SUPERB – MASSIVE TRACTION IN ANY CONDITIONS COUPLED TO AN AGGRESSIVE FRONT END.”

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FEATURE

Audi S4 or RS4

The company has reacted to criticisms of the first generation of this motor and softened the initial throttle response slightly, so you don’t get that uncomfortably neck-snapping kick the moment the throttles open to their widest, and being supercharged nor is there much of a peak to the power delivery. Just a wide, flat, but more than ample plateau of engine-driven force-fed torque.

Tower of Torque With the same Quattro AWD arrangement as in its bigger brother, there are also no traction worries, and no torque steer corrupting the steering. You don’t even need to manage the transmission, the Automatic mode being more than clever enough to adapt just about instantly to the demands of the driver. If you must be the master of your own gear shifts, there is always the tiptronic mode of course, but it’s really largely irrelevant as this isn’t a motor which thrives on revs and in fact is probably happier lugging from lower down in the range. The manual option is useful for minimising unnecessary flaring of revs every time your toe tickles the throttle a touch enthusiastically. And when the tacho does start to soar and the motor really sing, be prepared to pay the price at the fuel pumps. Despite the story about the smaller-capacity supercharged motor being Audi Sports’ idea of the modern trend of downsizing, and therefore more fuel efficient than the old V8, it isn’t. Not when you’re calling on all 235kW at least, when the large amount of air being blown into the combustion chamber has to be matched by an appropriate amount of fuel to maintain the most efficient mixture.

Properly Polished It is, all-in, an exceptionally polished performance estate then the S4. Easily capable of standing up to direct comparison against the established leader in this particular motoring segment, BMWs 335i, which is now also available in an estate form locally (or, at least, as a GranTurismo which is close enough). It’s also a healthy step on from the first-generation of force-fed S4s – the motor retains all that punch but the uncomfortably snappy power-on moment has been roundedoff. It’s a car you’d likely absolutely adore as an owner, and definitely worth the quite hefty asking price.

Up a notch. Or seven However, the RS4 is a completely different matter. Although the interior and package is so similar to the S model – Quattro AWD, 7-speed S-Tronic, Avant shell, it may as well be from a different planet entirely. This car literally bubbles over, all the time.

“THAT 4.2-LITRE GEM OF A V8 MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE RS4 VERSUS S4 DEBATE.”

We averaged 12.5l/100km in our week with the car, although a lot of that was due to deliberately light-footed highway driving to attempt to subdue the cars rampaging thirst. Unchecked, our average consumption would have been closer to 15l/100km. Dynamically, the S4 is superb – massive traction in any conditions coupled to an aggressive front-end makes for swift progress, and the helm isn’t quite as numb as most commentators would have you believe, even if it isn’t exactly brimming with richly-textured feedback either. Still it’s good enough that you can place the vehicle with unerring accuracy even at Banzai speeds and revel in the huge cornering Gs being detected by that hyper-sensitive force measurement device your human inner ear. The variable-speed assistance on the steering can be a bit obstructive, leaving you having to adjust your line subtly in the middle of a bend if you’re accelerating hard out of it. Not the most natural, but also not a fatal flaw. The dreaded understeer just about inherent in the majority of Audi Quattro vehicles, the killer trait which scuppers both RS3 and TT RS dynamically, is never an issue. Nor is oversteer. The S4 simply grips and turns and goes. It runs quite easily to its 250kph limiter, and still feels imperiously planted at these elevated speeds. Provided your wallet can sustain the pounding of course. It is in fact a ridiculously rounded sports estate, equally capable of going for a relaxing evening walk with the dogs as of going for a latenight blast on a deserted strip of tar.

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It doesn’t wait for you to light the wick before setting itself apart either. Both may be family-friendly station-wagon forms, but where the S4 is clearly a subtly muscular interpretation of the standard A4, the RS4 is a cartoonishly over-the-top charicature of this same vehicle. It looks more like someone has, for a joke or to hark back to the original ur-Quattro, built up a competition car and then built an A4-like silhouette around it after the fact. Despite pumping the volume of the brash exterior up to the veritable 11 mark on the dial, appreciating these styling tweaks alone is not likely to convince you of the value of the RS4 over the slightly more demure S4. No, to do that, you’ve got to start it up. Whereas in our similar comparison between M135i and 1 M Coupe from biggest rival BMW can be decided on the overtly pumped-up looks alone, the same cannot be said of this side-by-side match up. But once that V8 has turned and caught…

Waking the Dragon That 4.2-litre gem of a unit makes all the difference in the RS4 vs S4 debate. Where the cheaper option does a great job of delivering ballistic levels of performance based on force-feeding an otherwise pretty standard petrol V6 engine, the incredible V8 in the nose of the RS4 entirely warps your perceptions and whenever it’s running you’ll be convinced that

D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

what you’re actually driving is a supercar. Just one which could also fit enough in the boot for a long weekend away camping. At idle, this revvy motor is already sending out very clear messages that it isn’t playing about. That this is a serious piece of kit you’re about to head off to enjoy. That when the time comes to give it everything it’s got, it won’t just leave you saying “Whoa, that’s quick”, instead it will literally take your breath

19


FEATURE

Audi S4 or RS4

away. Perhaps even leave you whooping like a child who has just received exactly the toy they most wanted for Christmas, depending on how deeply your love of internal combustion has wormed into your heart and soul.

hardened petrolhead as damn near to tears as experiencing the birth of their first child, an organic celebratory howl which somehow encompasses and encapsulates the entirety of what was once great about such mechanical absurdity.

Quick prods of the throttle leave you trembling with excitement. This motor might not clear it’s throat with quite the brash, heavy-metal holler of an AMG V8, but every vibration it sends through the cabin drips with the kind of obsessive engineering that’s all but disappeared from the performance motoring world of today. This is no afterthought; there are no shortcuts to big power like cramming a brace of turbos atop an otherwise fairly mundane block. It’s an engine which has been balanced, polished, bench-tested and then refined again to develop the most power the engineers could achieve with the given capacity and configuration, while also incorporating a tripleshot of 100-proof motoring soul into the final product while they were about it.

Savage. Furious. Seductive

It’s an engine which shouts about a time when building a big-power motor was an act of love, of craftsmanship and pushing the envelope just because you could. It is in fact the absolute poster-child of those old codgers like us who still revel in the uniquely instantaneous response of such a perfectlyengineered naturally-aspirated machine. And oh boy does it shout. Under extreme provocation, letting the 7-speed S-Tronic run this rampant beast right round to 8500rpm, it’s the kind of noise that will bring even the most

20

It backs all of this unadulterated noise and savagery up with suitably serious figures too, producing 331kW (@ a glorious 8250rpm) and 430Nm of torque. That’s almost 100kW more than the force-fed S4, but 10Nm less, at last proving the lie which many manufacturers still tout, that for off-the-line performance torque is actually more important than power. Here are two otherwise effectively identical vehicles, one with more torque but less power and the other with stats in the converse, and the machine with the higher power output wins. By a mere 0.4 seconds admittedly, using the manufacturers own stats. But still wins. Power, therefore, is what you really want. Torque is great for towing – take that diesel! Dynamically, the RS4 and S4 are a lot more difficult to differentiate. The RS4 might have a slightly more aggressive suspension setup and suitably supercar spec rubber providing a fraction more outright grip in most conditions, but otherwise it handles and behaves in a way which most drivers simply could not differentiate at all from the S4. Both cars are superb through the bends. Ultimately, the RS4 is a better steer purely thanks to the unbridled joy of working that magnificent engine up or down through the gears to

D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


negotiate your chosen string of curves. The S4 has that slight weight advantage up front, helping the nose to tuck into the bend a fraction quicker, but it’s so negligible that you can not choose a clear winner between the two. Oh, and thanks to the Sports Differential standard on both cars, both can be provoked into big sideways slides if you really must. It’s a similar story in the interior. Yes the standard sports seats of the RS4 look quite a bit more aggressive and grab on to your body in the places that it counts a bit more effectively, but the remainder of the cabin environment offers pretty much the same experience. Both are liberally sprinkled with the tech toys of the day, both feel supremely screwed together, and both provide typically excellent if sometimes overwhelming (particularly for the technology-averse) ergonomics.

Use that effervescent motor the way it’s constantly begging you, goading you, enticing you to use it, and the surprisingly titchy 61-litre tank will empty as fast as you can say “OMG I better alert my bank manag…..”. Even in combined driving, with a generous amount of highway cruising thrown in specifically to extend it, a full tank lasted us no more than 350kms of driving range. At just north of R700 for a full tank, that’s comfortably over the R2 per km mark, on fuel alone. Get absolutely addicted to that heady 8000rpm zone, and you’ll be filling up every 240kms or so. And we don’t even want to work out that cost-per-km.

Decision Time

Sure, Audi do ask you to pay handsomely for, effectively, a motor which deserves a place in an engineering hall of fame, and very little else. There’s a more than R200k premium for the sportier car on SA price lists - you can park an S4 Avant in your driveway for just on R670k, while an RS4 means you’ve splashed out a whopping R893 000 on your wheels alone.

So, finally, it comes to this tough question. Many of the factors that played a part in influencing the unequivocal promotion of the 1-Series M as the car of choice for connoisseurs in that shootout don’t exist here. The RS4 is not a limited-release product. The price difference is not a more-manageable R100k, and the absolute advantage of the more expensive car is not as all-enveloping or quite as clear-cut.

What’s more, even after taking this substantial a hit to your wallet, the RS4 is going to cost significantly more to run. Claimed combined-cycle consumption on the S4 is just 8.4l/100km but in the real world you will not see any lower than 12 and even that is only if you have absolute control over your right foot and absolutely no desire ever to see just what your expensive motor can actually do. The same official figure for the RS4 is 10.7l/100km but that’s so far off what you’ll actually get it’s bordering on criminal. There’s no way you’ll see lower than 15l/100km except on a sustained highway cruise.

In fact, we can’t necessarily suggest one car over the other here. Both run in the region of 5s 0-100kph sprints, both are limited to a top speed of 250kph (although the RS4 can have this limiter lifted to 280kph), and both share a common drivetrain and transmission. It’s all about perspective. Someone who can just about afford an S4 as his dream hybrid performance/practicality car of choice will not be at all disappointed in their purchase. It is a superb drivers’ car, produces more than ample power and performance, and is all-but a dynamic match for its bigger-engined brother.

D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

21


FEATURE

Audi S4 or RS4 Ratings:

S4 RS4

Handling:

17/20 18/20

Ride:

18/20 17/20

Performance:

17/20 20/20

Fun Value:

17/20 20/20

Practicality:

18/20 16/20

Total:

87/100

91/100

The Data Drive likes: S4 However, if the petrol-saturated blood in your veins burns for the ultimate in performance potential, if unsullied and unswayed engineering for the sake of being the best-engineered product in the market is important to you, and if you can afford the monumental running-costs of the magnificent V8 in the nose of the RS4, we’d strongly urge you to consider it. It’s an absolute beast of a motor, a genuine automotive lion concealing itself behind the pelt of a house cat. To rev that motor up beyond 8000rpm and feel the forces it produces punting you up the road like the swelling surge of a natural disaster is to share in the motoring dream-world occupied by true mega stars of this niche. Without the compromised practicality that this approach usually yields.

Loads of creamy punch. RS4 Legendary Norse god for a motor.

Drive dislikes: S4 Engine noise could be slightly more extrovert. RS4 Fuel economy of a small airliner.

Key facts: Audi S4 Avant S-Tronic

The S4 is a technical performance-car masterpiece. Some minor chipping could even have it outperforming the RS4 on track and between the robots, if that’s how you want to roll. However the RS4 can belt out a solo aria that can bring tears to your eyes. You’ll pay for it in the end, but the motoring emotion it elicits is probably worth the significant and ongoing hole it’ll tear in your bank balance.

Pricing:

If, and only if, you’re slightly unhinged when it comes to pure petrol-powered performance, like we are here at Drive. If all these flowery words about engines and engineering causing you to weep leave you a bit cold, and you just want a car which is roomy but very rapid, don’t waste your time and order the S4 instead. It will deliver all you require and more.

0-100km/h:

Engine:

R657 000

2996cc V6 supercharged petrol

Power: 245kW @ 5500-6500rpm Torque: 440Nm @ 2900 - 5300rpm 5.1s

Top speed:

250km/h

Kerb weight:

1825kg

Transmission:

7-speed S-Tronic

Key facts: Audi RS4 Avant S-Tronic Pricing:

R893 000

Engine: 4198cc V8 petrol Power: 331kW @ 8250rpm Torque: 430Nm @ 4000 - 6000rpm 0-100km/h: Top speed: Kerb weight: Transmission: 22

4.7s 250km/h, or 280km/h 1795kg 7-speed S-Tronic D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


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FEATURE

M135i or 1 M Coupe

To the Power

T

here are a lot of road tests on this M135i coupe hatchback, that would like you to believe that this hybrid M with a "conventional" 1-Series chassis is just about as good as the limited-edition 1-Series M Coupe. Which is pretty neat, since it's a good R100k cheaper (on list), and it is actually still on the list. Meaning anyone can buy one, factory fresh and specced to their exact desires. It all sounds reasonable enough after all. This M135i boasts the updated 1-Series architecture, which is a big step on from the last-generation cars. As the top of the range model, it also gets all the exterior add-ons BMW offer as options on lesser 1-Series, so it looks suitably more macho, thanks to the small things like the more aerodynamic side sills and decorated kidney grill and exposed aluminium-tipped tailpipes. But the company hasn't gone overboard here, it still maintains that sleekness of surface which characterises the 2013 1-Series - the softer flanks and more geometrically curvaceous bonnet. In fact it's all rather below-the-radar stuff. Inside you again get a number of otherwise optional features as standard spec, so that even without stretching beyond the R481,000 price tag of this car (it's an 8-speed auto) you still get niceties like the intelligent cruise control, auto stop-start, automatic headlights and wipers, and even "Driving Experience Control" which sounds pretty dodgy. Of course you also get the Sport suspension and braking setup as standard equipment too, which you very quickly realise is a pretty good thing once you start up that straight six. 24

D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


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D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

25


FEATURE

M135i or 1 M Coupe It isn't a motor which immediately raises your attention though. It fires quite demurely, into a typically silken idle. Not a trace of racy lumpiness to the beat, or whiff of a crackle from the exhaust hinting at a heady fuel mix. You can definitely feel the 3.0-litre in your gut better than you can the four-cylinders of the modern 128 and 125, but most passengers aren't actually going to get much of a hint of what's to come... Because dial up Sport+ on the Experience Control and just slot the stubby, uniquely BMW electronic shifter into D and flatten the gas, and the M135i seems to surprise even itself with a vicious and sustained accelerative punch. You barely even notice the gears being devoured so slick and fast are the shifts, but the musical howling of the motor and the rapid swing of the speedo remind you that you're now going rather fast, in not a lot of time. The official figures claim 0-100kph comes up in 4.9s - but yet again we find the linearity of a turbocharged motor with a huge wad of torque distributed across a wide rev band (in this case 450Nm from 1300 - 4500rpm) does dull the impact of this manic charge a touch, so it feels fast but not quite this fast. The speed with which the traffic around you has suddenly just vanished though support the hard numbers. There aren't any hatches short perhaps of that unloved series of STIs that will stand any chance at all. And thanks to the inherent traction advantage of RWD, you can even disable the TC entirely and still post scintillating results, with some crowd-pleasing smoke if you like. A consummate master of the robot-to-robot drag. BMW however recognises that it isn't every single moment of every single journey that you want to be pretending to be on a no-holds-barred race track. A lot of the time you're just trying

26

D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


FEATURE

M135i or 1 M Coupe At the absolute ragged edge, you do start to come to the limits of the Sport suspension setup a bit, and things can start feeling untidy and a bit wild. But honestly, at this point on the road, you probably should have backed off some time before. Running smoothly and safely at 9/10ths you're going to be able to leave most contenders in your rear-view mirror all day. If you need that last tenth though to outrun something particularly stubborn, well your probably trying to take an example of something a whole league above. Like a 911.

to get from one place to another. The M135i reacts beautifully to taking it down a gear in this fashion. The noise of the motor fades to a discrete hum, the gearbox shifts unnoticed keeping the revs nice and low, exploiting all that low-down turbocharged muscle while trying to keep fuel economy reasonable, even that Sports suspension takes road imperfections in its stride. At robots, the engine even quietly shuts itself down to eliminate a tiny percentage of fuel burn. Although, at the end of the day, the M135i never managed less than 10.2l/100km as an average during our time with it. Not bad, perhaps, considering the scale of the performance this car packs. And unlike in the X3 with this engine fitted, it is actually useable performance. The revised 1-Series chassis manages to put the power onto the tarmac through that rear rubber even when you're still negotiating a bend. In fact this car feels just about as reassuringly planted as the 160kW 125i, although of course your right foot does have to have some respect for the fact that there are now 235kW to unleash.

28

As long as you can ignore the fact that you're paying just about a half-a-million Rand for a 3-door hatchback, the M135i is actually a ludicrously sensible every day car. It is a bit heavy on fuel, but no more than what the average performance driver is willing to deal with. It'll never skip a beat in traffic, isn't at all taxing on driver or passenger, and yet can morph into a real beast whenever the mood strikes. It basically packages what the Golf GTI has been delivering for years, just in a more upmarket and premium way. And, therefore, that much larger price tag. In my opinion, maybe a bit too large... It's also, in this particular version especially, just a little bit too aloof a lot of the time. Quite a lot of that has to do with the 8-speed automatic shifter. It's a damn fine 'box, and superb at what it does, but the sheer number of ratios and buttersmooth nature of the shifting leaves you as the driver a little bit out of the drivetrain loop. Add to that steering which is just a little numb at times, and the M135i feels decidedly more at home on the road than as a pseudo track refugee. Fair enough, as it is a volume-built, mainstream product. There is absolutely no doubt that this is a very good car. But as good as a 1-Series M? Well, let's just have a look at that...

D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


Drive Ratings: Handling:

16/20

Ride:

17/20

Performance:

19/20

Fun Value:

20/20

Practicality:

16/20

Total:

92/100

The Data Drive likes: Prodigious torque on tap. The only way to get a 35i engine with a manual 'box today. Comfortable when cruising.

Drive dislikes: Handling slightly ragged at absolute edge. Styling a bit soft and feminine from some angles.

Key facts: BMW M135i 3-door Sport Automatic Pricing:

R481 100

Engine:

2979cc six-cylinder turbo petrol

Power:

235kW @ 5800rpm

Torque:

450Nm @ 1300 - 4800rpm

0-100km/h: Top speed: Kerb weight: Transmission:

D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

4.9s 250km/h 1405kg 8-speed Sport Auto

29


FEATURE

M135i or 1 M Coupe

1-Series M Coupe This limited-edition 1-Series is extremely rare, only 71 ever made it to SA and were snapped up by eager buyers before ever even touching a wheel onto our shores. But it isn't it's scarcity that strikes you when you're standing face-to-face with it. Nor is it even that eye-catching volcano orange paintjob. It's the unbelievably, blatantly aggressive proportions. Thanks in part to that boot, and the ultra-wide track just artfully highlighted by those bulging wheelarch extensions, the 1-Series M looks every inch The Part. Despite some uncertainty at the time, this looks like a proper M car something really special - from 100 metres or more away. Like an M3 that's been photocopied to 80% of its original size. It's quite breathtakingly focussed. And nothing like a dressed-up 1-Series at all. Beneath that pugnacious skin, the 1-Series M actually does pack quite a lot more in common with an M3 than any other 1. Both front and rear tracks are wider, and the wheels suspended on aluminium arrangements sharing the same geometry as the icon. The rear axle is lifted straight out of an M3, complete with the trick M-Diff that entails, while at the rear are the signature quad tailpipes. In this case, those pipes are fed by a straight-six once more, even if it is boosted by turbos. Two turbos, this being the original 335i unit before BMW moved over to the modern

30

single-turbo motor. With the boost turned up in this application, that means a whopping 250kW, but the same 450Nm as the newer car. Through the only transmission option, a trad six-speed manual featuring all the notchiness BMW drivers of the 2000s (and before) will fondly recall, that means 0-100km/h comes up in the same 4.9s. Those are junior supercar numbers right there, and the 1 M feels every bit as rampant as they suggest. There's either less torque low down, or that 250kW of power is more peaky, but the result is actually a more engaging delivery with the motor taking on a hard-edge from 5000rpm while shrieking gamely for the 7000 red line. Even at idle it's clear that this is a motor cut from a different cloth, with some major bass underscoring the event and even the occasional hiccup betraying the aggressive fuel map. It never, ever feels anything less than an event. And certainly no place for shrinking violets. It also never, ever switches itself off or back on to save fuel. That's entirely your call. Even the older-gen cabin is much sparser, more utilitarian. You get a radio, the climate control, and a great big thick suede-rimmed steering wheel. There's no intelligent cruise control here, no touch screens. The bucket seats can get a little uncomfortable for plus sizes like me, but certainly do their job in supporting you when you start attacking a few bends. The 1-Series M Coupe is not likely to be an every day car, in other words.

D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


But no matter what road you find yourself on in this car, you end up attacking it because the whole car is eternally screaming at you to uncork as much of its potential as you dare. The M-Diff shows some real magic here - manfully maintaining as much traction as it can in its normal setting, and locking-up sooner in M mode for the most accessible drift angles even for this hallowed brand. With the TC disabled in fact the 1-Series M is a very hairy car, and it keeps you on your toes all the time with constant playful movement at the rear. You can exploit this nervousness if you've got some talent, but lightning-quick reflexes are recommended as the short wheelbase means that when the back end breaks it does so very, very quickly. This car would be so much faster over any course than the invisible difference in quoted 0-100kph times suggest. If you survive the run of course. And that's half the point! Not only would you be at the finish line before your competitor in the M135i, you'd be significantly more flooded with adrenaline, buzzing with raw excitement, and child-like with wonder at the art of driving rapidly. Every sense alive and engaged, every nerve-ending firing on all cylinders. A 1-Series M is one of those very rare cars - a car with a huge reputation which is dwarfed by the sheer passion of its own character. A car of boundless enthusiasm for performance, and boasting depthless wells of pleasure for drivers like us, drivers who drive for more than the purpose of mere transport, to drink our fill from time and time again. Damn the cost of fuel, or rear tyres, or notions of personal safety. Where the M135i is beaten when it comes to a flat-out ten-tenths battle, the 1-Series M Coupe just reveals more depth, serves up more speed and grip and noise and thrills. Of course, there are definitely drawbacks. Not that they matter. But yes, the ride is pretty harsh and quite unsettled over rougher surfaces. Surfaces which the M135 would hardly even notice. And sure, the hefty shifter means you have to put a little effort into your changes. But then how else would you really appreciate them, if they didn't take any effort? Exactly. It also can't really produce what we'd call acceptable fuel economy today. Drive a 1-Series M to an average of any lower than 12l/100km, and you obviously shouldn't be driving a 1-Series M, but an M135i. Oh yes, and remember, if you must take it out in the wet, keep all the traction electronics on and even then treat the throttle pedal like it's attached to an antipersonnel mine in the cabin with you. No, in contrast with the 135i, the 1 M feels like a race car that's accidentally been allowed on to the public road. All the time. Would it be worth these hassles, tracking down a 1 M rather than plumping for an M135i? Honestly, if you can afford the premium and are willing to work really, really hard to source one. And, of course, are a slightly madly hardcore driving enthusiast. And yes, yes it would be worth every compromise. Every single time. In fact, I'd pay a lot more if I was in a position to do so. There's literally no comparison here. It's like comparing something mundane like a VW Golf to a Porsche 911. Just without the vast performance delta. D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

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FEATURE

M135i or 1 M Coupe

Drive Ratings: Handling:

19/20

Ride:

17/20

Performance:

20/20

Fun Value:

23/20

Practicality:

17/20

Total:

96/100

The Data Drive likes: That this car exists. Accurate billing as an E30 for the 21st-century. Manual 'box only.

Drive dislikes: That there aren't enough to go around.

Key facts: BMW 1-Series M Coupe Pricing:

R546 000

Engine:

2996cc six-cylinder twin-turbo petrol

Power:

250kW @ 5900rpm

Torque:

450Nm @ 1450rpm

0-100km/h: Top speed: Kerb weight: Transmission:

32

4.9s 250km/h 1495kg 6-speed manual

D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


FEATURE

Mercedes CLS CDI v AMG

One Only Looks Barking Mad

34

D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


T

o me, the bluff, angular shape of something like a Nissan R34 Skyline GT-R is a profile so appealing, even the thought of one brings a smile to my lips. Actually seeing one on the road or parked-up in a Cape Town parkade is a rare privilege. It isn't that it's a particularly flowing or elegant shape of course, it's mostly the very special kit the boxy body conceals that gets my juices flowing. But because I love the clever ATTESSA AWD and that legendary twin-turbo six and its famously undertuned standard power output, I also appreciate the uniquely Japanese aesthetic. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, speaks in breathy tones about a whole other kind of vehicle. Those clasically, comically proportioned land-yachts of the 70s from players like Cadillac. You know the ones, just like the kind Elvis and many others have sung songs about. At a time when the petrolheads were going crazy for iconic US musclecars, the boulevard cruisers all wanted to be seen in one of these. But while I like most car enthusiasts certainly have a soft spot for the classics, this particular one just doesn't hit any of the spots for me.

Enter The Banana Jump forward a few decades, and I had the same problem with the original Mercedes-Benz CLS - the "Banana Merc". It may have been revolutionary as one of the first four-doors featuring an unbroken, pillarless glasshouse to accentuate its supposedly coupe-like lines, but I just didn't get it. What's the point of a car that drives like an E-Class but looks like a sportscar that has let itself go all flabby? To my mother-in-law however, this car was and still is breathtaking. She adores it in the same way I cherish those GT-R moments. And judging by the way this niche has exploded since the CLS first hit the tarmac of the world, she isn't alone either. As part of its impressive product offensive this year, there's a whole new CLS for the clearly significant number of fans of this vehicle to desire. But apart from mildly toned-down styling reflecting the increasingly "mainstream" nature of four-door coupes, the most interesting thing about the latest-gen CLS are the engine options available.

Still Mental Yes, you still get a C 63 AMG at the top of the range. After all, Merc has gone so AMG crazy there doesn't seem to be a single product in its lineup any more that doesn't extend all the way to a bonkers-spec version. In line with today's trends, it's got a pair of blowers strapped to a slightly smaller V8, which can hardly be considered newsworthy any more. Which means it produces considerable power - more in fact than the old nat-asp 6.2 V8, while supposedly using less fuel. We still don't quite buy it. But hey, how many people are actually going to argue with a person who drives a R1.4million CLS 63 AMG? Precisely. Far more noteworthy than this no-brainer of a CLS however, is the new entry-level model, the CLS 250 CDI. In direct contrast to the fire-breathing AMG, this is a CLS which is only as extroverted as that love-it or hate-it styling allows. Beneath D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

35


FEATURE

Mercedes CLS CDI v AMG the hood is a fuel-sipping 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel. That means reasonable running costs, while a purchase price of R715k widens the net of prospective customers healthily in one fell swoop. The next CLS up the range is the 3.5-litre petrol V6 which sits closer to the R830k mark, isn't chalk-andcheese faster than this diesel version, and will cost double the monthly fuel bill than this new breed of slick and stylish modern German coupe.

The One To Own As with the ML 250 CDI I tested in the last issue, this CLSshaped home for this compact but capable motor makes a lot of sense. As a power-crazed car enthusiast of course it's the AMG I'd hanker to drive the most, for a while. Until it's mammoth thirst exhausted my very limited budget that is. After which I'd have to walk to my meetings. Which since they're usually at least 140km away from where I set off, could be damn inconvenient. So to live with, the 250 would undoubtedly be the one to sign for. The thing is, for around half the price of the big banger of the range, you get all the style of the range-topper albeit in a slightly more understated, toned-down flavour. Still, people who do enjoy this type of aesthetic will still be admiring your wheels every time you waft by. It still looks the upmarket and modern 4-door coupe part. And the spell isn't broken when you step inside - if anything it's cemented. The cabin might be lacking some of the more high-tech gizmos of more expensive versions of course, but it does still manage to feel very classy. Upmarket and luxurious and generally soothing, with great quality materials and a suave, almost classic approach to building an interior which the two major competitors have abandoned for more edgy, modern architecture. There are even still swathes of fake wood in all the right places.

36

D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

37


FEATURE

Mercedes CLS CDI v AMG

Although my least-liked element of this car, which applies across the CLS range actually, is the rear seat. I understand self-obsessed power-mad execs seldom think of anything more than personal gratification of course, but to make a four-door car and then only allow a maximum of four people, seems a little bit silly. It's unlikely to affect the target market at all of course, but for a family guy with three kids it's a joke. A bad one.

Sometimes Even A Lite Beer Is The Best Choice Back to this particular CLS however. The little four-pot turbo diesel is quite simply a revelation for the breed. It doesn't idle to the hideously grating cacophony you normally expect of a diesel, responds cleanly and with sufficient power to the throttle, and can even at times sound like it's actually trying to enjoy itself when you cut loose. Sure, there is quite a bit of lag at times, but this isn't a car with a whip-crack nature so this slight dulling of immediacy isn't a deal-breaker. Besides, it sort of makes the wholesome swelling of torque which washes in a second or so after you've gunned the throttle all the more satisfying somehow. The official performance claims for this car are quite revealing. A 0-100kph sprint will be done in a neat 7.5s, while the windcheating shape helps it to hit 242kph all-out. Although that acceleration figure can hardly be called blistering, it also isn't bakkie-slow in any way, and the 250 CDI easily keeps pace with Cape Town city traffic in all conditions. Choose your opponents wisely, and you'll even notch up some scalps in the robot to robot leagues. And if you're in one hell of a hurry, well 240kph is dangerous, very illegal, and fairly easily achieved. You can cruise at 200kph all day in this car with almost worrying ease and certainly in concerning comfort. Yet even taken to these extremes, we weren't ever able to drive the average consumption reading on our CLS 250 CDI above the 10l/100km mark. Eliminating the lengthy periods of topping 200kph, you'd easily manage a real-world average of low to mid 7s, or even 6s if you're particularly self-controlled, which for a car of this perceived echelon is deeply impressive going. This car is so uplifting a place to be in every day driving, that you don't feel any need to prove anything by deploying the full 150kW and 500Nm very much, instead taking a more cerebral pleasure from commuting so luxuriously for such a reasonable per-km cost.

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D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

39


FEATURE

Mercedes CLS CDI v AMG

Fits Like A Glove Really, as wild, powerful, and ultimately loveable as the CLS AMG 63 undoubtedly is, mad tarmac-shredding performance is tangibly not the only reason for the CLS range to exist. In fact, it feels a little bit forced, like a supermodel swallowing steriods to develop rippling muscle as well. It just doesn't quite work. But supermodel sipping sparingly of some fresh juice while running tirelessly on the local gym treadmill, well there's nothing wrong with that at all. The entire picture works and makes sense and is all the more appealing for it. I struggle to understand why this model wasn't introduced sooner in fact, why it had to take mounting pressure from the ill-informed green groups to prompt what should have been a natural move for the German automaker all along. It isn't like the CLS 63 AMG is exactly the enthusiast choice anyway. A proper petrolhead would likely sooner go for the C 63, not the showy CLS. Or an M5/6. But there's no reason you can't express a little bit of individuality in body shape and not be forced to sacrifice huge piles of petrol cash in the process. With the new CLS 250 CDI, that's precisely the option Mercedes-Benz is now offering. And the final product itself is good enough that it really deserves to sell in the increased volumes Mercedes is hoping it will, bolstering the still fairly rare ranks of CLS on the streets of the world today with good old-fashioned common sense.

Drive Ratings: Handling:

16/20

Ride:

17/20

Performance:

14/20

Fun Value:

17/20

Practicality:

13/20

Total:

77/100

The Data Drive likes: Looks expensively German. Consumes fuel like a budget diesel. Classy, comfortable interior. Superb cruiser.

Drive dislikes: Not exactly a pace setter. Selfish four-seat configuration.

Key facts: Mercedes-Benz CLS 250 CDI Pricing:

R717 394

Engine:

2143cc four-cylinder turbo diesel

Power:

150kW @ 4200rpm

Torque:

500Nm @ 1600 - 1800rpm

0-100km/h: Top speed: Kerb weight: Transmission:

40

7.5s 242km/h 1785kg 7G-Tronic 7-speed auto

D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


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Downsizing Without Getting Down?

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D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


T

his month, instead of the usual random smattering of test vehicles we've managed to scour up during the course of the preceding few weeks, we decided instead to get a bit of a theme going.

Therefore, all of the models presented for Road Testing this month, subscribe to the modern trend of downsizing. Specifically, in the case of cars, downsizing engine capacity in search of a medium of transport which fits with a shrinking monthly budget, all the more pressured by spiralling fuel costs as well as other inflationary forces. Of course, as petrolheads, being forced into driving a car with a measly motor and mangy performance data just for the sake of saving a few Rand at the petrol pump doesn't sit well with us. In fact, it downright bites the big one. However, there are ways to approach this escalating downsizing conundrum right, and ways which are so very wrong. In this month's selection of downsizingthemed road tests, we have examples of each, sometimes from the same manufacturer! So, if the fuel bill on your existing 2.0-litre or up family hatch or junior exec saloon is starting to put the brakes on your lifestyle, this month's crop of road tests are well worth having a read of. At the very least, they could point you in the right direction, help you find your way through this downsizing maze with a solid fuel-budget saving without necessarily sacrificing all the pleasure of driving just for the sake of it. Without any further ado then...

D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

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ROAD TEST

Ford Fiesta Ecoboost

Less for More.

F

rom the moment I first laid eyes on that shapely, Astonesque grille I wanted to like this car. The new Fiesta is styled in a way which is just irresistibly charming to my eyes. And, says the company, it's got it all - brains and beauty in one highlyconcentrated little package. Has to be a winner.

The cleverest of them all is this 1.0 EcoBoost model. It's one of the stars of the massive downsizing drive characterising the market at the moment, after Ford quite sneakily crammed a sportier version of this 3-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol turbo engine into the skeletal frame of a formula racer and posted an impressive 7:22 lap time. That's competitive with some serious gear - a Nissan GT-R or 911 Turbo for instance. A marketing stunt sure, but the kind we like highlighting the passion for performance that is the essence of motoring.

Poke Aplenty In the Fiesta, there's a fair deal more weight for this famous engine to lug, but it is still barely over 1000kgs in total so the 92kW and 170Nm produced by the power plant certainly feel ample. It's enough twist for the front wheels to scrabble away from standing starts if you're aggressive on the loud pedal, even if it does only translate to a 0-100km/h time of 9.4s. Still, that's a healthy head start over the other engine options in the Fiesta range, a naturally-aspirated 1.2 petrol and the essential 1.6 turbo diesel. Both of which take a seriously languid 12s for the run.

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D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


A Lot More

It even accompanies this commendable effort with an aggressive little soundtrack unique to 3-cylinder cars. Kind of like it's planning on growing into a six-cylinder motor one day when it grows up, and quite a serious six at that. It suits the rest of the package in being just so adorable you almost want to buy it some puppy food and a blanket at the local Spar. It isn't just the downsized motor though that make this Fiesta smart according to Ford. The company has added-in all the modern automotive high-tech it could find for your comfort and convenience. So that includes a smart key with keyless-go, clever SYNC infotainment system with voice control, automatic windscreen wipers and headlights and even cruise control. That's on the highspec Titanium model, the Trend does without the last two. It's a good haul and is presented in materials which never feel too cheap. In short, it's equipped as well as most full hatchbacks. This 1.0 EcoBoost will even knock on the door of 200km/h all-in. And the torquey delivery of the 3-pot makes cruising at 150-160, and bursting up towards the 200 marker for overtakes, deceptively comfortable.

Not Particularly Awful You do get a bit distracted though by the concerningly floaty feeling you start to get from the chassis at big speeds. The Fiesta displays all the light-car foibles you'd expect at high speed, with the main factors being significant intrusion of noise and an unsettled stance. Not that many people are likely to be buying their Fiesta EcoBoosts for 200km/h night-raids up the wind-blasted

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ROAD TEST

Ford Fiesta Ecoboost

West Coast Road, of course, but I have been in small hatches which inspire more confidence in these conditions. It's similar when tackling corners with enthusiasm. Although there's nothing particularly awful about the way the front end responds to inputs, or with the amount of grip generated, but there's nothing particularly spectacular about it either. There's a worrying layer of inaccuracy in all the controls, again not a complaint likely to be foremost on the lips of the Fiesta customer profile, but still. Still, it wasn't just me who liked the Fiesta overall - it attracts admiring looks all over and anyone getting behind the wheel came away wanting their own quite consistently. Here, at last, is a downsized eco-hatch I could actually live with. However, here comes the rub, and it's a big one. Every single staff member who weighed-in with their opinions on this car agree on one point. As good as the Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost is, it still can not justify the insanely inflated price-tag. I'm just going to come out with them - the lower-specced Trend starts at R213k, with the premium Titanium model fetching R233 on dealer floors. For a Fiesta. It doesn't make any sense.

I'm Sorry. How much? Sure, I know, developing new engines is pricey. But Renault has just started selling the new Clio 4, which competes directly with this Fiesta in every discipline, but undercuts it by as much as R60k! The 0.9-litre turbocharged "three" of the Clio might be significantly outgunned on paper, but on the road the sensation of acceleration isn't that markedly different. It's just as stylish inside and out, just about as lavishly appointed, and actually manages to ride a lot better and with a more confident feel all the time. In short, it's this car that has made a mockery of Ford's pricing strategy here. Well, this car and the new Fiesta ST, which Ford launched in SA on the day of writing this road test. Featuring a 1.6-litre turbo engine pumping out over 130kW, a sub-7s 0-100 sprint, and revised chassis and suspension, somehow Ford considers it reasonable that this be priced similarly to the bog 1.0 EcoBoost variant. How many people will get one of these when the same money just about will get you an iconic ST? Hopefully none, none at all, although I fear that might be an idealistic assumption.

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Drive Ratings: Handling:

14/20

Ride:

15/20

Performance:

10/20

Fun Value:

11/20

Practicality:

13/20

Total:

67/100

The Data Drive likes: The engine. Surprisingly. It's charming and doesn't lack grunt. Latest Fiesta styling sharper than ever.

Drive dislikes: Ludicrous price premium. Less, in this case, is not more. At least, not more enough to justify the cost.

Key facts: Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium Pricing:

R233 900

Engine:

999cc three-cylinder turbo petrol

Power:

92kW @ 6000rpm

Torque:

170Nm @ 1400 - 4500rpm

0-100km/h: Top speed: Kerb weight: Transmission:

9.4s 196km/h 1091kg 5-speed manual

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ROAD TEST

Citroen DS3 VTi 82

How It Should Be Done

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I

t's hardly a surprise, that despite being a big fan of Citroen's stylish DS range, and in particular this the original rejuvenation of this iconic branding the DS3, when our press unit boasting the latest specs to enter the range arrived at the office, I was mysteriously nowhere to be found. And I hadn't even known about the baby-blue paint job beforehand. The fact of the matter is, the DS3 VTi 82 on test here, is not an exciting addition to the lovely DS3 lineup. Gone is the tasty if slightly detuned 1.6-litre turbo motor shared with the MINI, and in that sculpted nose now rests a naturally-aspirated three-cylinder unit of just under 1.2-litres capacity and with a measly quoted power output - 60kW! That's the preserve of soulless city-cars and very cheap Chinese entrants who are still trying to figure out why anyone would want more power than the average scooter in any size vehicle.

What A Shocker! Or, Sacre Bleu! But a serious surprise was in store for me on this one, as French automotive products have a habit of doing. Because in fact this new entry-level DS3, which in its basic spec actually manages to sneak in just, just under the R200k mark with VAT and even CO2 tax included (R0 because of the excellent 104 g/km that 3/4-sized motor produces), is really quite the plucky little package. Let's address that glaring shortfall which initially put me off then. The engine might not be a screamer, but it actually makes a really admirable little effort of being more than merely an appliance. More so than any of the blown triples I've driven, this Citroen produces the delightfully raspy sound you'd have every right to expect of a half a sixcylinder machine. Quiet and smooth when being driven gently, it does its best to get suitably rorty when you up the pace. While not much of a robot-to-robot contender, this puny power plant still manages to stand out even when you are in the mood for some sportier blasting. Citroen has gotten seriously clever here, as this particular DS3 weighs-in 100kg lighter than the next-lightest model, the even more fuel-efficient but pricier HDi, which is in turn 90kg lighter than the full-fat THP 155 1.6 turbo. So while you're packing a bit more than half the power of this star of the show, you're also very nearly 200kg lighter in the 82. Porsche 911 owners pay a serious premium for the manufacturer to strip that much weight from the regular models. Naturally, a 12.3s sprint to 100km/h isn't something to write home about. At all. There is interesting reading in the standing km time though. While this dinky petrol triple is a second slower to the benchmark ton than the more potent and force-fed HDi, by the end of the standing km it would actually be marginally ahead. What's more, it's so light and agile that driving it through narrow, twisty roads at speed is a playful delight. There's never enough power to wrestle with or even get you into all that serious an amount of trouble when your hooligan side does take over, but somehow it still manages to deliver some classically pure driving thrills as well.

All Fun, No Fail

Drive Ratings: Handling:

18/20

Ride:

18/20

Performance:

12/20

Fun Value:

19/20

Practicality:

17/20

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84/100

DS3s have always been eager dynamically, but this lighter version is even easier to place with absolute precision. There's rich communication through the steering wheel keeping you up to date with the road surface, and that lazy but still very noticeable little mini-howl from the motor urges you to keep the throttle pedal pinned for just as long as you can. What's more, this car seems to need so little fuel, that you don't even feel worried about decimating a dwindling fuel budget even when you do stray far, far onto the wild side. It's a genuine triumph. I'm not so sure I could remain so enthusiastic if I drove this car at Reef altitude, where the lack of a contemporary turbo would no doubt rob it of most of this charming sparkle. But at mere metres above sea level, you just really have nothing to complain about with regard to driving enjoyment. 49


ROAD TEST

Citroen DS3 VTi 82

What? That's... weird! That said, and I'm reluctant to mention the negatives here so much raw fun this little car serves up on a plate, but there are a couple of problems with the base version. It's entirely down to how the package has been reworked to enable that appealing list price. You lose the USB input and Bluetooth functions for starters. But far more importantly than that, the R199k version of this car comes without an alarm system or an air-con. Not just a climate control, no, an air-con. Surely a necessity in just about any African climate, or various other climates across the globe which aren't snowy Europe. Oh, it also rolls on steel wheels with plastic covers, which are pretty sad from up close but look just like any other alloy on the move. You do still get cruise control, a brace of airbags, and MP3compatible CD player with six speakers and satellite controls on the wheel standard even on the most basic of models. Our test car, fortunately, wasn't quite this basically specced. For R16 990 (incl. VAT) over the standard price of this 82 customers can also spec the same Style Pack our demo sported, which adds all of these pretty key features back in to the mix thankfully. If you really have to, more money on options will get you proper alloys as well, but it's probably not really necessary. So that's a downsized city hatchback running R216k, not far off the Fiesta Ecoboost that we aren't very big fans of specifically because of the price, and with a thick wedge less power to boot, yet it's getting our stamp of approval? Really?

Budget Premium? Yeah Baby! Absolutely! From inside and out, the DS3 looks, feels, and walks with the swagger of a more upmarket, grown-up kind of car than the Ford. The design is intriguing and gorgeous rather than merely decent, the interior feels classy and continues the almost artistic styling of the outside even with the leafpatterned aluminium dash of this cheapest version. It rides like a peach, can be good fun when you're in the mood, and boasts brilliant economy whether commuting or caning it.

The Data Drive likes: Still an eager little beaver despite the lack of real grunt. A smart solution, well-considered and executed to deliver excellent fuel economy without throwing fun completely out the window. A very sexy car to our eyes.

Drive dislikes: No air-con or alarm as standard is a bit goofy. The steel wheels don't really gel with the modern style of the whole package, even if you do only see them when stationary.

Key facts: Citroen DS3 VTi 82 Pricing:

R199 900

Engine:

1199cc three-cylinder petrol

Power:

60kW @ 5750rpm

Torque:

118Nm @ 2750rpm

0-100km/h: Top speed: Kerb weight: Transmission:

12.3s 174km/h 975kg 5-speed Manual

Just make sure you spec that Style pack. Otherwise without aircon you and your passengers are going to clash drastically with the chic image the DS3 so effortlessly spreads wherever it rolls with your unseemingly sweaty pits.

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pirelli.co.za

ENGINEERED TO EXCITE

The one piece of technology they all agree on.


DRIVE LAUNCH Ford Kuga 1.6 Ecoboost Ambiente FWD

Down, but not Out

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N

ow, I'm really not a big believer in what we call "conventional wisdom". The way I see it, wisdom itself is an attribute which seems to be becoming less and less conventional really, making the very concept of some sacred shared knowledge seem sort of laughable. In fact, I often deliberately swim against what is considered by the masses to be unassailably so. In many cases, it's a pretty good investment strategy. However in this case, that old chestnut "Be careful what you wish for - you may just get it!" has really come back to bite my cynical, contrarian butt and bite it hard. When after an unforgivably long delay the first-gen Ford Kuga eventually got around to our market, I was among a small number of motoring scribes who actually quite enjoyed the car. It's quirky good looks and characterful powertrain were the major reasons for my enjoying Ford's first small SUV/crossover, with my only gripes being the archaic 5-speed auto gearbox which was the only transmission choice, and the thirsty nature of that 2.5-litre turbo 5-cylinder which was exacerbated by full-time AWD and that obstructive monster of a transmission.

Hopes Cruelly Dashed I was hoping a refreshed Kuga with a modern dual-clutch gearbox could help both issues. But now, for the second-gen Kuga, which Ford SA has made absolutely sure has landed in SA showrooms mere months behind its global debut, the company has addressed criticism like mine by dumping both the charming 5-cylinder turbomotor and the abysmal automatic 'box. In their place is a very straightforward Kuga boasting a 1.6-litre Ecoboost petrol motor, standard 6-speed manual transmissions, and FWD with AWD as a costlier option. Oh, and they've toned down the more outlandish styling elements. Great.

"OH, AND THEY'VE TONED DOWN THE MORE OUTLANDISH STYLING ELEMENTS. GREAT. " It does make for a cleaner profile than the last car, but it's also quite a bit more conventional-looking now. It isn't hideous, and still looks modern, so that's not the end of the world. More worrying is the power deficit of the downsized motor, the 1.6 only capable of 110kW and 240Nm, versus the old figures of 147kW and 320Nm. With any luck, the more directlycontrolled manual gearbox and the loss of power-sapping AWD as standard should help mitigate this reduction some. I hoped. And it does, to an extent. Away from the line with both your feet working in harmony to release clutch with just the right number of revs on the tacho, the new 1.6-litre Kuga isn't painfully sluggish. It is definitely quite a bit more ponderous a sprinter than the potent 2.5, sure, but at least it still isn't over 10s-to-100kph slow like the 2.0 TDCi flavour, which remains as the pinnacle of the new lineup. It just barely avoids this level of D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

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DRIVE LAUNCH Ford Kuga 1.6 Ecoboost Ambiente FWD humiliation though with a quoted time of 9.7s, which is barely a second slower than the gen-1 car. It doesn't really feel it though. Thanks to the loss of that truly appealing 5-cylinder beat in favour of an entirely unremarkable 4-cylinder drone, you never get the impression that the car is really up for very much high-performance fun really. Like it would prefer if you would use it simply to commute, please. No funny business.

Generous Standard Equipment What hasn't gone missing from the new Kuga, is the pretty upmarket kit. Even the entry-level Kuga 1.6 EcoBoost Ambiente like this test model still comes with the slick and useful Ford SYNC command environment, airbags in every corner, keylessgo, cruise control, hi-fi with wheel controls, tinted glass and even a built-in compass. Moving up through the range, the cloth seats are replaced with leather, the basic air-con with climate-control, an uprated stereo with a colour TFT screen, powered and heated front seats and even parking sensors at the rear. No more AWD as standard means you do have to spend a bit more to get even a semblance of off-road capability, but the majority of owners of this type of car would never required the advantages of AWD anyway. It's a lot less of a blow than the removal of the 5-cylinder motor. While the manual gearbox may not be the slickest or fastest we've ever tried, but is simply light-years ahead of the dodgy old 5-speed auto.

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Otherwise, the new Kuga remains largely the same as the first-gen car. It's not as quick any more and is still a tidy but uninspiring steer. So where's the progress?

It's Quite A Lot Cheaper? That's Cool! Well, although the company has very much diluted the likeable soul of that original Kuga and replaced it with a more bland and generic flavour, they have certainly achieved their objectives. Which were to make the new Kuga cheaper to buy and cheaper to run. There was only one original Kuga you could opt for, and it retailed for over R400k a year and a half ago. It also chugged gas at comfortably over 12l/100km all the time. This latest version can be bought with FWD and a manual shifter and cloth upholstery, for less than R300k. This test car of ours lists at R289 900. It also easily manages to stick below the 10l/100km mark, even when we tried desperately to uncover some latent, leftover passion by keeping the throttle flat to the boards for minutes on end. Now this is what I like to call good downsizing - driving down the purchase price of vehicles so that more people have access to a new car. Paying a big premium for a smaller, less powerful engine is silly. But accepting a smaller, less powerful engine for the sake of a big price decrease and the ongoing savings of saner fuel consumption, that's just good common sense. Although excising the passion does scar performance-addicts like us a

Drive Ratings: Handling:

15/20

Ride:

16/20

Performance:

11/20

Fun Value:

12/20

Practicality:

18/20

Total:

72/100

The Data Drive likes: Less car for less money. At last a message that makes sense. Trad manual transmission a huge step on from first-gen 5-speed auto.

Drive dislikes: No more character. No more soul. Uninspiring motor.

Key facts: Ford Kuga 1.6 EcoBoost Ambiente FWD Pricing:

R289 900

Engine:

1597cc four-cylinder turbo petrol

Power:

110kW @ 5700rpm

Torque:

240Nm @ 1600 - 4000rpm

0-100km/h: Top speed: Kerb weight: Transmission:

9.7s 195km/h 1550kg 6-speed manual

bit, you can at least commend what this exercise has managed to achieve.

Decisive Action I do wish they'd left the old 2.5 in, even if as a ludicrously expensive halo car for the range which would sell in very limited volumes. But I also understand the point of the new Kuga, and while it may not be a message any of us likes to hear, it shows a good grasp of the current global financial situation and moves decisively to adapt to these conditions. In short, it's a strong play which should make the Kuga much more of a contender in this competitive niche. Nothing wrong with that reasoning.

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DRIVE TEST Infiniti M 37 S Premium

Like... Nothing Else

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I

t might not look it at first glance, but this Infiniti M 37 is really another tune of the downsizing hymn that this issue has been all about. In fact the message of the entire Infiniti brand, much like the whole Lexus go-to-market approach, pushes the same agenda. It goes something like this...

"Oh dear, times are looking tough and the bank/insurance company/stock exchange will only be giving me half an annual bonus this year. Perhaps I should hold off on ordering the standard replacement to my 3-year old 5/E/7/S German saloon right away. In fact, I've always fancied myself a bit different to the other Directors/ Partners/Whizzkids, so maybe it's actually time to go for a car which doesn't cost 7 figures with options." Now people like this might not really exist of course. And perhaps more importantly, this line of thought isn't really how success is bred, from our earliest years, in modern society. So it's a brave message, and they're quite honest and up front about it. But still, Infiniti sales have hardly given the meaningful players in this space sleepless nights since the brand came to SA.

Poor Sales Do Not Bad Cars Make This particular car though, is really quite remarkably good to drive. And would be good to own too I expect. Yes, sure, of course. It is still "just" a smart Nissan. But Lexus has shown us that these kinds of sub-brands

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DRIVE TEST Infiniti M 37 S Premium

shouldn't really be written off for such purely classist reasons. In the flesh, although drivers of the latest high-end models from Nissan, like the 370Z, will recognise almost every single element of the Infiniti dash, they would also certainly admit that in the Infiniti it all feels that touch more impeccably built and finished in a material from a rung or two higher up the scale. Nothing jars, or stands out as being unsuited to a serious executive saloon player. It's a big car too, the M 37. So despite boasting more than its fair share of swoopy, sculpted bodywork, the space inside is at least comparable to German rivals. With a similarly sharp, executive feel as well. All the leather is just as creamy and wellwrought as you'd need, the smells combining into a heady brew of luxury. There are some controls which may feel a little too plastic to the touch, but very few. And besides these days even the R1-million plus rivals include more plastic elements with each generation.

Strong, but Sophisticated Too Yet to drive, it's a peach. This I have to say has to be the best application of the famous 3.7-litre Nissan V6 petrol engine available today. In the 370 it's too manic and noisy but without being musical, whereas the nature of the M requires that it be muted and refined but still possess a deep well of power to draw upon. And it provides on this brief abundantly, even if on paper the 360Nm of torque it churns out looks measly compared to the turbo engines we've all gotten so used to. Backing up a very middle-of-the-road 235kW of power. Still, that's enough for 0-100kph in 6.2s say Infiniti, which isn't classleading but nor will you be worried by too many hot hatches. It's also a motor which, yes, is pretty quiet when you're light on the throttle, but finds an encouraging V6 sonata when you crack the taps open wide. There's no turbo charging or hybrid trickery to get in the way of the sweet, instant response of this motor or the throaty, mechanical induction roar. Pump that pedal to the floor and this V6 shouts and surges in the same moment, the acceleration swelling dramatically with the sustained, angry bellow from the exhausts. In S mode, the gearbox is a touch slouchy but not noticeably abysmal either, and shifts themselves are buttery smooth. You can use paddles if you want to eliminate the digital thinking of the transmission in an all-out street race. But this is just kidding yourself really into believing you still have the control over this mechanical element that you used to in a manual.

Solid, If Slightly Noisy That punch stretches all the way through the 7 forward speeds in the transmission too, and the M 37 is solid at comfortably over 200km/h, although the wind noise does get quite harsh. Like in other Infiniti products we've tested of late. It isn't earsplitting or anything, but conversation in a 5-Series would probably be a touch easier. At these sort of velocities you can feel the weight of the car moving around as you ride bumps and compressions on the tar, but you can also feel the suspension very effectively managing the contact patch itself. Through slower bends there's nothing 58

D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


like the kind of body roll you'd expect, and while again a 5-Series may have a touch more outright agility when you do want a bit of fun the Infiniti is up for it. The fat steering rim communicates more of what's happening at ground level than I'd expected, given that it's a speedsensitive setup which usually detracts from the feel. In fact, for such a modern, tech-laden executive saloon, the M 37 in many respects is charmingly old-school. Not exactly lairy and generous amounts of smoke old-school, but taut, responsive, communicative and involving to steer. That is quite honestly something which the leaders of the segment have been letting slide of late, building cars which are more efficient at everything but perhaps not quite as engaging any more. Yet again in common with Lexus, Infiniti loads its models with standard features included in the listed purchase price rather than hide the true cost of the car in a complex nested architecture of options depending on other options. There are two models and grades to choose from - stretching from a properly poverty-spec GT Standard edition which costs R651k but only comes with six speakers and a 2GB MusicBox, up to this hero-level S Premium, for R732k. It's a fair price difference, but it's a comprehensive list when even the GT Standard includes 10-way power-adjusted front seats with heating and cooling functions, PDC all-round with rear-view camera, a smart key, biXenon headlights and even a tyre-pressure monitoring system.

"THE INFINITI M COULD MAKE EXTREMELY BASHFUL OWNERS EVEN MORE SELF-CONSCIOUS THAN EVER." Fruits Of the Forest. Wait, What? In the S Premium though, you do get Forest Air A/C! As well as other niceties like a 10-speaker premium Bose sound system with 30GB MusicBox, and a smorgasbord of acronyms which basically make it sound like the car would drive quite a bit better without you, you get a climate-control setup which can be set to simulate a forest breeze. It can even add the smells of the forest, in two distinct flavours no less, to this weird wafting. We tried it, and although the pulsing of the airflow does actually feel quite a bit more natural than the constant blast of a conventional A/C, we ditched the aromatic effects after starting to notice a bit of a chemically tang.

No Competition Of course it is the most subjective part of motoring evaluation, but the way the front end of the car especially flows so gracefully, in such a plainly hand-crafted fashion, positions the M range for me against even more exotic metal than the executive saloons the price suggests are its natural competitors. To me, this M is more like a seriously cut-price rival for a Jaguar XF, or a 6-Series Gran Coupe, than it is a healthily discounted competitor to something as mundane as a regular 5-Series. Like those icons of automotive style, the Infiniti M could make extremely bashful owners even more self-conscious than ever thanks to the generous amount of glances it receives wherever you may go. The M never fails to attract admirers, moving or stationary. And yet you can have one for little more than a range-topping 3. On a stares-per-Rand scale the Infiniti M is effectively a Bugatti Veyron.

Drive Ratings: Handling:

18/20

Ride:

18/20

Performance:

16/20

Fun Value:

15/20

Practicality:

17/20

Total:

84/100

The Data Drive likes: Best application of the 3.7-litre Nissan V6 ever. Totally unique, off-centre styling.

Drive dislikes: Can still spot the Nissan roots. Ideal drivers' spec isn't even an option.

Key facts: Infiniti M 37 S Premium Pricing:

R732 426

In all honesty, the ideal drivers' package I'd recommend would be an M 37 S Standard, which includes all the kit you want that isn't in either GT flavour (you can get the GT model as either Standard of Premium), but do without the costly Bose sound and pompous Forest Air. The 4-wheel active steering for instance and sport suspension which play their part in endowing this M with its fun-factor only come on S models. But there is no such option. There's only an S Premium available in the M 37 range. Oh well.

Engine:

3696cc V6 petrol

Power:

235kW @ 7000rpm

Torque:

360Nm @ 5200rpm

Yet, it's really none of these impressive details, or even the dynamic poise, or that svelte but muscular V6, which impresses me the most about the Infiniti M. It's the look. The design.

Kerb weight:

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0-100km/h: Top speed:

Transmission:

6.2s 250km/h 1715kg 7-speed Auto 59


DRIVE LAUNCH Hyundai Veloster

Distinctively

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By BRUCE BENNETT

Different

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DRIVE LAUNCH Hyundai Veloster

F

or years Hyundai has been closing in on Toyota, using age-old rivalry between Korea and Japan as a spur. Lately it has looked as if Hyundai had been turning into Toyota, in an unintentional way. For many years Toyota built its philosophy around massproducing people’s cars, sensible vehicles with reliability and familiarity as watchwords. Volkswagen had the same idea but for decades they have included the GTI in their lineup, for a strong element of spice. At Toyota, over time the reliable/familiar strategy became a recipe for boredom, smugness, sameness … and the pricing went up too. Customers continued to buy but it became clear things could not go on like this. Toyota began thinking in a more adventurous way, and the most shining example of this has been the two-door, two-litre, fun-to-drive, wellpriced 86 sports car. The 86 is not going to rival the Hilux, Fortuner, Quantum or Corolla in the sales chart. But it does bring an element of excitement to Toyota, something that has been missing for some time.

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Hyundai’s attempt at a two-door sports car, the Tiburon, had its fans, notably among people who bought them. Probably no surprise there. But I’d have to say it was not a huge success. The first ones to come to South Africa had what one might call an Oriental look. Successive models became more “Western” in appearance, conforming to the idea of what most people thought of as a sports car. The motors offered with the Tiburon grew in size from 1.6, 1.8, 2-0 and a 2.7-litre V6. In spite of all this the Tiburon never really captured the imagination. The Mazda5 remained the icon in this class. Sure, the Tiburon is not the only rival to fail to match up to the little Mazda. But when Hyundai discontinued it in 2008 they seemed to be going the Toyota route – never mind the icing, stick to the bread and butter. Now Hyundai has brought the Veloster to South Africa. It’s a quirky little animal, and with 1.6-litre motors, certainly no proud successor in terms of power to the last Tiburons, with their 2.7-litre V6s. But it is an admission by Hyundai that it needs some drama in its lineup.

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The range already covers a wide spectrum, from the i10 hatchback to the heavyweight Santa Fe, with the lookalike Accent, Elantra and Sonata straddling the solid middle ground. But there is nothing in there that says “funky” or “offbeat” or even “eye-catching” like the Veloster does. Its most obvious trick is having three doors – and we’re not talking about the hatchback boot as the third door. No, if you look at the Veloster from the right-hand-side it looks like a twodoor, because there is no rear door, only the one for the driver. Go around to the other side and, lo and behold, there is a rear door and one for the front passenger, making the Veloster a three-door. It’s not the only one with this trick up its sleeve – the MINI Countryman is the most notable other of this kind. But Hyundai point out that their rearmost door can be opened independently of the front door, while in the case of the MINI, the front door must be opened first.

pretty C30 and now a lot of smaller cars, including the Toyota Aygo and the new Honda Brio. But the Veloster’s “sunroof spot” extends to over the heads of the rear passengers and without a sliding screen, this may expose them to more sunlight than they really want. The same feature obscures the view from the inside rearview mirror We’ve heard about Hyundai’s “fluidic sculpture” design language, as applied to the Sonata, Elantra and Accent. In the case of the Veloster the design philosophy is said to be centred around “carving with light rays” and it’s a good way to describe the Veloster’s sculpted form. From the front, an unusual design line across the bonnet adds to the distinctive appearance. The wheels are 18-inch alloys but the spare is not full-sized. The car comes in a range of bright colours – I loved the “Sunflower” and “Vitamin C” - as well as some subtler shades.

This rear door has been slightly disguised by putting the handle in the black door surround, a trick that has been used before but is nevertheless effective, at least stylistically speaking. In terms of access to the rear seats, having one extra door like this makes matters so much easier than in a conventional two-door. There’s no need for the front occupants to remove themselves from the vehicle, or for the front seats to be lifted for people to squeeze themselves in or out. Rather cleverly, the extra door is on the “pavement side” so people never have to exit the car into a stream of traffic. Hyundai’s designers did snooker themselves, though, by putting a strip of cupholders between the two back seats, so that anyone sliding in from the door behind the passenger to the seat behind the driver, has to cross this “speed bump”. If there must be cupholders let them be in the sidewall (or door) of the car. The rear view is particularly attractive, with indentations on either side of the boot, or hatchback, door, and a sunroof-type section between this door and the roof, reminiscent of Volvo’s D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

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DRIVE LAUNCH Hyundai Veloster

The Veloster certainly is sporty-looking and quite striking. Perhaps more than the performance market, it is aimed at people who want good looks – and a lot of hi-tech features. These are controlled by a central LED touch screen. You can play a “how good is your driving” game on the screen, scoring or losing points depending on acceleration, braking etc, over a 10-minute period. There are many other more practical features, including steering-wheel controls for sound system, Bluetooth, trip computer, and cruise control; automatic climate control; six airbags, electronic stability control, anti-lock braking, connectivity for iPod, USB and AUX, a four-speaker sound system, park assist and leather seats. The onboard computer conveys a host of information in the driver’s line of sight and the central LED screen will appeal to tech-minded people of all ages. Others may be confused by it. As to variety, there were only two models, both powered by the same 1.6-litre GDI (Gamma Direct Injection) motor. The Sonata will also be equipped with this engine technology soon, although in 2.4-litre form. A turbo model of the Veloster’s 1.6-litre is promised for later in the year but it will push the price up significantly. The two versions presently available are differentiated by the gearboxes. My pick would be the manual six-speed box. The top gear is really intended as an overdrive and especially on the Highveld, where the launch took place, there was a need to change down occasionally – even on long inclines and such – to fifth. The engines produce 103kW at 6300rpm and 167Nm at 4 850rpm.

The cabin is pleasantly quiet Although the GDI petrol engine in the Veloster is only a 1.6, it proved willing and responsive and revved easily to the red line. On the rural roads of the North West province, I had to be careful not to break speed limits. But it is far from being a speed machine or road racer – it’s an attractive, unusual car targeted mainly at young people, maybe even young couples with small children. Rivals that spring to mind include the VW Scirocco (more powerful and more expensive) and the MINI (smaller than the Veloster but still amazingly popular). Hyundai’s three-door is good value, especially considering the many standard features – always a strength of the Koreans. The Veloster is aimed at young people who want their vehicle to be eye-catching, fun, sporty and reliable. The rear seats are standard with Isofix for childseat support, and the big boot adds to practicality. The Veloster comes with Hyundai’s five-year, 150 000km warranty and roadside assistance plan, and a five-year/90 000km service plan (service intervals are every 15 000km).

THE SPECS: Hyundai Veloster 1.6 GDI Executive MT (six-speed manual transmission) or DCT (six-speed dual-clutch transmission) Motor: 1.6-litre Gamma Direct Injection four-cylinder Prices: R259 900 for the manual and R276 900 for the auto Power: 103kW at 6300rpm Torque: 167Nm at 4 850rpm

The manual model costs R259 900 and the auto, R276 900

Top speed (claimed): 201km/h

The auto-gearbox model has a double-clutch system that engages two gears at the same time, for extra-quick changing. Hyundai says this makes for better fuel economy and lower emissions. However, under hard acceleration the six-speed auto gearbox tends to hunt between its six gears. There is a Sport option and you can change gears manually.

0-100km/h (claimed): 9.7 seconds

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Fuel consumption (claimed): 8.4l/100km Fuel tank: 50litres Co2: 163g/km for manual, 161g/km for auto D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


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DRIVE LAUNCH Mercedes E-Class

Brand New

T

he Mercedes-Benz E-Class range, launched in SA in late June, now runs all the way from diesels and hybrids to the powerful E500 and macho E63 AMG “S”. Encompassing a broad range of available body styles as well, this new E-Class range has to be one of the most comprehensive of the executive saloon class to date.

Aw My Gawwwwd Let's start with the "regular" E63 AMG though. This beast has a 5.5-litre biturbo V8 motor that puts out 410kW and 720Nm. It is said to take 4.2 seconds to get from 0-100km/h, which is pretty blistering stuff for a luxurious 4-door saloon in anyone's book. 66

But the AMG “S” is even more powerful, with 430kW and 800Nm, and marginally quicker too, taking 4.1 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint. Both these AMGs sound great but the S, as the E-Class king, naturally roars the loudest. With the S, you can barely tell that there are a pair of sound-deadening turbos attached to that mighty V8 so unfiltered is the mechanical equivalent of unbridled rage blaring from the pipes. It's glorious. To help cope with all that power the “S”, which costs 10% more than the AMG – about R120 000 more – has a diff lock on the rear axle. This helpful traction-aiding addition is an option on the “normal” AMG. D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


By ROBERT MEE

Benchmark?

Prime Beef Looking at the E-Class and all the vehicles under its banner, from large executive saloons, estate cars, cabriolets and coupes , the word that comes to mind is “premium”. “Superb” would also do. You find yourself wanting to drop! in exclamation! marks all over! the show until you start to look like a conversation at a San village. The class now includes the BlueTec Hybrid, the first dieselengined Merc with a hybrid drive (electric motor added ). Claimed consumption is 4.2l/100km and 7.5 seconds is the cited 0-100km/h time. The manufacturer also says this is the most fuel-efficient large executive car available today. For some D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

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DRIVE LAUNCH Mercedes E-Class

reason it thinks the hybrid will account for 10% of E-Class sales. That’s a prediction that bears watching. There are the “entry-level” E200 and E250 (no E-Class costs less than R541 000, even without emissions tax). The former runs a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol motor, the latter the excellent 2.2-litre turbodiesel we've already praised highly in the latest CLS and ML ranges. Apart from the diesel hybrid, there is also a petrol engine available in the E350 BlueTEC, specifically tuned for fuel economy and “greenness” apparently. Really, though, if fuel economy is critical to you, the hybrid is going to be the E-Class you want to order, as our previous experience with this petrol 350 has revealed that simply calling something "BlueTEC" doesn't actually make the fuel consumption come down very much... Finally one reaches the E400 six-cylinder (a turbocharged 3.0-litre producing 245kW and 480Nm, and a 5.3s 0-100km/h sprint. Very interesting, this one), the E500 V8 – and the monstrous E63 AMG and even-crazier AMG “S”, both with V8 biturbos.

Sultry AND Handsome The coupe and cabriolet E-Class variants are undeniably eyecatching vehicles – but the sedans are certainly handsome in their own right, especially with that extra-bold three-pointed star on the imposing grille. Mercedes say they are the first company to introduce LED headlights as a standard feature. Debatable, that one, but at least you know that when you buy an E-Class you don't have to go ticking costly options boxes to ensure you get the latest gear.

On The Drive In an E500 coupe on a quiet morning in Franschhoek, I sought out the Du Toit’s Kloof Pass to stretch the red twodoor vehicle’s long and powerful legs, past gaping baboons on the straight stretches – the corners arrived in a hurry – then turned around and came all the way back. It’s a delightful drive and this Merc, for one, showed there is very little that is boring about these cars. 68

On long-distance driving the E500 settles down quietly and comfortably and you know you could cover a lot of road, all day long, without much hardship. At 120km/h in top gear the V8 is quietly working at 1 700rpm. The interior of the cabin is what one would expect . There is an air of quiet respectability and the electronic wizardry is well concealed, yet available at the touch of a switch or button to unlock an arsenal of goodies. It would take too long to list them all here but take it as read, the list is comprehensive. All the E-Classes except the AMGs have the same seven-speed auto gearbox, with a stalk to choose between Drive, Reverse, and Park to the right of the steering wheel. It’s a bit of an oddity, like Merc’s foot-operated parking brakes, but you get used to it. The AMGs have their own gearbox, also a seven-speed auto, but its gear-selector is at least in a more conventional spot, at the driver’s left hand. The company is working on a nine-speed auto gearbox, for use in the more powerful cars in the stable. Merc says this 2013 model is the most dynamic, powerful and efficient E-Class yet. That’s probably true.

"IT’S A DELIGHTFUL DRIVE AND THIS MERC, FOR ONE, SHOWED THERE IS VERY LITTLE THAT IS BORING ABOUT THESE CARS." Feature Rich Features seen in previous models included the Splitview on the central screen, which allowed the driver to look at onboard computer readings while the front passenger watches a DVD at the same time. There is also the Distronic radar, which sees slower cars ahead of the Mercedes and slows you down appropriately, speeding up again when the road is clear. D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


A new feature is said to detect pedestrians and animals in the road – over vehicles crossing from one side to the other – and to help the driver slow down and even avoid a collision. There are 10 new and improved “assistance systems” available nowhere else except in the new S-Class, due later this year. The radar devices are at the back and front of the car, and on the sides towards the back of the vehicle. The blind-spot warning seemed particularly useful.

from sultry two-doors to svelte estates and even droptops for the sun-worshippers of our glorious coastal regions. And if you're a complete nutter with a penchant for anything quite ludicrously overpowered, well the new AMG "S" is sure to hit the spot. It delivers practically all the performance of the M5 with no sacrifice on comfort whatsoever, and a much nicer voice to boot!

Overall, and just as would be expected of the updated version of such an iconic model, the new E-Class is an absolute tour de force of high-tech wizardry, clothed in the distinctively sober and sophisticated Mercedes-Benz style. They may look and feel a little "traditional" from both inside and out, but make no mistake that beneath this facade these are cutting-edge machines capable of trading blows with the most overtly techie offerings from upstart marques and coming away victorious. The E-Class is an absolutely definitive luxury saloon of today. And it's so much more than that these days too, with the addition of all manner of body shapes and sizes to suit all tastes,

E-Class Sedans: E200, 1 991cc four-cylinder, 135kW/300Nm, R541 00 (excl. emissions tax) E250 CDI, 2 143cc four cylinder, 150kW/500Nm, R565 000 E250, 1 991cc four cylinder, 155kW/350Nm, R573 000 (Coupe R582 554, Cabriolet R657 211) E300 BlueTec Hybrid, 2 143cc four cylinder, 170kW/590Nm, R634 000 E350 BlueTec, 2 987cc V6, 185kW/620Nm, R716 000 E400, 2 996cc V6, 245kW/480Nm, R736 000 (Coupe R774 632, Cabriolet R858 032) E500, 4 663cc/V8, 300kW/600Nm, R928 604 (Coupe R938 465, Cabriolet R999 445) E63 AMG, 5461cc/V8 biturbo, 410kW/720Nm, R1 275 604 E63 AMG S, 5461cc/V8 biturbo, 430kW/800Nm, R1 396 604 D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

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2-Wheeling Test

Royal Enfield

HARKING

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D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


BACK

give your bike a walk around, looking at it from every angle you can. Why? Because she’s a beauty, a handmade work of retro art that oozes historic nostalgia that turns every environment that’s been blessed with its presence into a scene from the 1940’s. You smile as you look at the manufacturer logo and the words ‘Royal Enfield’ smile back at you. You climb on, head off and arrive at the meeting point where you are to meet your fellow Royal Enfield brethren to enjoy a day out as a group of people above society- Royal Enfield owners. Royal Enfield owners, a group of guys metaphorically joined at the hip by simple common love, the love of simplicity, the love of doing something because you can. The grin on their faces is directly proportional to the distance they’ve travelled. The number on their speedo is of no interest to them, the scenery and noise from the 500cc single cylinder motor brawling away between their legs is. These guys choose a direction, not a destination. The tool of choice for these rebels in the 21st Century world of soulless, mass-produced, plastic machinesthe Royal Enfield Classic 500.

History Royal Enfield as a brand was founded back in 1893 and is the oldest motorcycle still in production. With its first ‘motorized bicycle’ manufactured in 1901, the brand is steeped in history with some famous people having owned a Royal Enfield, who include Brad Pitt and Billy Joel(who has two on his yacht). Royal Enfield in the 21st Century have stuck to their origins, making each individual bike by hand and whereas the rest of the world can manufacturer 10 000 units an hour, each Royal Enfield takes a week to be crafted from start to finish. With no computer controlled devices, and all pin striping done by hand, the motorcycle can truly be called a hand-made work of art.

Harking Back It’s a Sunday morning, time for the weekly motorcycling crusade with your friends to a distant breakfast location, where every weekend, the usual herd of motorcyclists migrate to their ‘watering hole’ in an attempt to forget about their busy city lives. You go through your usual wake-up ritual, except for breakfast, that will be taken care of over the banter of your fellow biker brethren, reminiscing of the better days when they did ‘that’ time on ‘that’ track or travelled to ‘that’ destination in under so many hours or the close shave they had when that driver did that when he was ‘just’ doing this. All these topics get thrown around the table every week almost religiously, but for now, that’s in the near future.

Villainous You clamber out the house looking like a villain from a ‘70s superhero novel, with every square millimetre of your very being covered by some type of protective clothing. Upon inspection of yourself you seem to have bought every item on offer from the accessories brochure handed to you when you bought your bike. You see your bike standing there in the garage, waiting patiently for you to give it a run. It’s been seven very long days since it has last been on the road and it cannot wait to get back. You D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

Owning A Brand New Hand-Built Classic But with all of this handy mandy business going on, what is it like to own and ride a Royal Enfield? It’s very simple, if you’re late for a meeting, you’re better off using tectonic drift to arrive at your destination, and Royal Enfield are fine with that, because that is not what they’re about. If however, you’re interested in the ride rather than the reasoning, there is no greater man made product for the task. Modern day technology allows it to be perfectly safe on the roads and the grunty 500cc single cylinder gets you to your destination quite nicely. Top end see’s the speedo hit around 140kph down a slick mineshaft and will comfortably thud you along at about 110-120kph depending on the individual. Specs include disc front brakes and electronic fuel injection for the motor. Aggressive throttle action will not have you looking for your bowels in your back pocket, but gets you to where you’re going that little(emphasis on little) bit quicker. Owning a Royal Enfield is quite an experience, with heads turning everywhere you go, you can’t help but feel a little smug when walking to your motorcycle and seeing many an interested party studying this vehicle that seems as if it has skipped a couple of decades in its existence. As said before, if you’re late for a meeting, using this machine as your mode of 71


2-Wheeling Test

Royal Enfield

transport is not the best of ideas, while you will arrive at said meeting with a huge grin, your boss will not be happy with your late arrival, and your “excuse” of answering all the questions the public asked about the bike when leaving your destination will just not suffice. Going anywhere using this machine is like going on a date with a celebrity, photo’s will be taken, questions will be asked and all you can do is smile and wave. So owning a Royal Enfield is a social affair, invited or not. What seems to be lacking in most 21st Century vehicles, the Royal Enfield in its design has an abundance of- ease of maintenance. It is said that there is beauty in simplicity and that is very true with a Royal Enfield. Since these bikes are as naked as they come, and are not infected with any cyber wizardry just to allow the wheels to turn, keeping this machine in tip-top condition is quite easy and anyone who is capable of exploiting a spanner to it’s full potential can service this bike.

Overflowing With Passion So, the Royal Enfield, simple, attractive, not the fastest machine out, but dripping with nostalgia is what some Royal Enfield owners will say, “a machine above all machines”. For those who love travel for traveling itself, for those who see a machine for more than what its used for, for those who want a bike to have a soul, to have a unique ability to attract mankind to its mechanic heart, we have just found the machine for you!

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TOP 5

CAR CATEGORIES

What’s it all about?

PASSION RATINGS

The Drive Magazine Top 5s section isn’t a listing of the highest-scoring cars coming through our road-test regime. In fact, here the rankings have as little as possible to do with any empirical, data-driven evaluation of this passion called motoring, and everything to do with unchecked emotional appeal. Although we’re irrepressible, self-confessed performance freaks at this publication, making it into the Top 5s requires far more than just the smallest 0-100kph time. Any vehicles on these pages have left us deeply saddened to say goodbye to. They aren’t necessarily the priciest of machines, the most beguilingly beautiful, or the most pulverisingly potent. They’re simply cars which we, as petrol heads, absolutely adore - and think that you would too if motoring runs in your veins. Our very own passion-gauge for the hearts and souls of cars. One thing that you won’t find any of on the following pages, are electric cars. Only internal-combustion motors have soul, at least any soul that we can connect to as internal-combustion-based machines ourselves. If you strongly disagree, wholeheartedly car D RIV E M AG AZ I NEor AU GU ST 2 0 1 3 approve, drop us a line on Top5@drivemagazine.co.za. Next month, it could be your75 choices walking away with the entirely fictional prize-money. Lots of it. Tons. We promise.


TOP 5 BAKKIES 1

Ford Ranger Wildtrak Highs: Not the toughest, the most refined, or the most modern. But the coolest. Lows: V6 turbo diesel quite thirsty. Quickie: Strangely, the new BT-50, which is really the same car as this, shouts loudest about its auto gearbox option. The Wildtrak on the other hand splashes the fact that it's a 6-speed manual boldly down the already be-graphiced flanks. I love this bakkie. Factoids: 3.2-litre turbo diesel motor, 147kW, R422 161

2

Toyota Hilux Legend 40 Highs: The King for a reason. Lows: Costs a princely sum for a reason. Quickie: The Hilux Legend series from Toyota really is the ultimate incarnation of the ultimate 1-ton bakkie in the market - it somehow manages to feel very special, like the infdomitable Hilux spirit is more liberally sprinkled on these models. There isn't a Legend model in the new Hilux line just yet, but the Raider V6 petrol (or D4-D) is still a winning choice. Factoids: 4.-litre petrol V6, 175kW, R475 900

3

Hyundai H100 Highs: Unashamedly workmanlike. Lows: Unashamedly workmanlike. Quickie: There's none of this half-baked leisure idea with an H100 bakkie - it's a workhorse and that's it. But, it's a superbly good one. Tough, reliable, versatile, with a well-judged price. For on-road, in-town load-carrying work it's practically guaranteed success. Factoids: 2.6-litre diesel, 58kW, R171 900

4

Chevrolet Corsa Ute Highs: All the strengths of the venerable Opel Corsa Ute, but with a bowtie. Lows: Prestige range-toppers a bit too flash. Quickie: Ignore the pricey and unnecessarily decked-out Sport model, and you've got a solid, honest machine in this Chev. Even if it is obvious the "American" brand-name has just stolen the Opel Corsa Ute. Comfortable enough to drive around in all day, and handsome enough to take home for the weekend too. Factoids: 1.8-litre petrol engine, 77kW, R166 900

5

Chevrolet Lumina SS Ute Highs: All-American V8! Lows: Not really an ideal load-carrier. Can't even carry petrol very far. Quickie: All right, so this second Chevy in this list is a bit of a cheat really. Even Chevrolet SA admit this isn't exactly a workhorse, with most owners treating them more like 2-door sports coupes than 1-ton bakkies. Still, the character offensive is so maxed-out, that on passion alone, it should actually be the top of this category. Factoids: 6.0-litre petrol V8, 270kW, R467 900

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TOP 5 BUDGET BUYS Nissan Micra Highs: Surprisingly willing for a three-cylinder Lows: Noisy cabin.

1

Quickie: When Nissan redesigned the popular Micra, it went to great lengths to lighten the load, which in turn allowed it to fit a small, 1.2-litre three-cylinder motor without making it as slow as a geriatric snail. The result is a budget car which is actually a pleasure to be in. Factoids: 1.2-litre petrol motor, 56kW, R112 900

VW Polo Vivo Highs: Proper German build-quality. Lows: Really, really sparsely equipped.

2

Quickie: VW replaced the Citi Golf as it was based on 20 year-old technology, with the Polo Vivo, at the time built on the previous-generation Polo platform but with new running gear. Whatever, it's a great car to drive. Not very richly appointed no, but feels positively impregnable all the time. Easily worth the money. Factoids: 1.4-litre petrol, 55kW, R110 500

Renault Sandero Highs: Well, it is quite cheap. Lows: Rough and ready build.

3

Quickie: The Sandero quite frankly appalled us when we first drove it, with bad mouldings and exposed metal edges all over, not to mention a gravelly-feeling power plant. It sells very well however, because of the aggressive pricing, so for that it has to deserve a spot on this list. Seriously though, consider a Vivo or Micra please if you want to continue to enjoy driving. Factoids: 1.4-litre petrol, 55kW, R112 900

Chevrolet Spark Campus Highs: Cheap to own and run. Lows: Not the most stable highway cruiser.

4

Quickie: Yes, you do get an even cheaper Spark, the Spark Lite, but that car is so devoid of anything it's hard to recommend. That said, even at this price point, it's not the most lovable machine. Weird looks (to us at least), no performance, and a bit of a wanderer when out on the highways. Factoids: 1.2-litre petrol engine, 60kW, R103 500

Chery QQ 0.8 TE Aircon Highs: Wow that's cheap. Lows: You might be too scared to drive it.

5

Quickie: The last Chery I drove was actually the larger JJ, with a 50kW 1.2-litre engine, and it was easily the scariest car I've ever driven, largely because it struggled so just to crack 120km/h that on highways you were always stuck between much larger trucks in the slow lane unable to risk venturing an overtake. Colleagues in the industry tell me the QQ is getting better in terms of quality but with 38kW it's likely still a white-knuckle highway experience. Try to up your budget to R100k. Factoids: 0.8-litre petrol engine, 38kW, R84 900 D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

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TOP 5 HATCHBACKS 1

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Highs: Merc quality in hatchback package. Lows: Quite pricey. Quickie: The all-new A-Class is a huge step on from the upright, frumpy car it replaces with sleek new styling and some actual excitement in the engine-range available, even if you do have to pay quite handsomely for the privilege. Still, it's a great drive and the new class of "executive hatchbacks". Factoids: 2.0-litre petrol motor, 155kW, R392 606

2

VW Golf 7 Highs: Supremely rounded. Lows: Dull styling. Quickie: Although the new Golf 7 looks very much like the outgoing model, it's an allnew car under the skin. And VW has extensively re-engineered the whole thing for the modern world. Lighter and with smaller, more efficient engines, the Golf 7 nevertheless doesn't fail to impress with its exceptional ride quality. Factoids: 1.4-litre turbo petrol, 90kW, R249 900

3

Renault Clio 4 Highs: Growly three-pot turbo. Lows: Not as quick as it likes to think. Quickie: The new Clio 4 from Renault seriously impressed us despite being powered by a mere 0.9-litre three-cylinder motor. Still, the exterior is powerfully eye-catching, the interior well built and superbly specced, and the price a very nice surprise! Factoids: 0.9-litre turbo petrol, 66kW, R169 900

4

Hyundai Veloster Highs: A Turbo Hyundai! At last! Lows: Three-door layout a bit "quirky". Quickie: All right, so at the time of writing we hadn't actually driven this car as yet - it's launching this week in SA and we can't wait for our first taste. Still, the quirky three-door layout (four, with the hatch) and turbo charged power should really stir our market up when it has arrived! Factoids: 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine, 150kW, R???

5

BMW 1-Series Highs: Finally a chassis to match the promise. Lows: 8 speeds just too much for a gearbox. Quickie: Yes, the 1-Series has finally come right in this latest version, although the M135i is really a bit much for most. But if you want a reliable, high-quality, relatively quick and every day useable hatch, the 125i is a superb buy. If your budget has a bit of stretch in it, of course, particularly when you start ticking options.

Factoids: 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine, 150kW, R347 500 78

D R IV E MA GA ZIN E A U GU ST 2013


TOP 5 HYPER HATCHES Audi A1 1.4 TFSI 136kW Highs: Dynamite! Has to be. Lows: Not a one. Quite small. But it is an A1, did you expect a people-carryer?

1

Quickie: Yes it might not strictly be a hyper hatch, more a hyper city car really, but if you don’t need the bit of extra practicality you might get from a Focus ST, there’s little better way of spending R330k on some motoring fun. As quick as a GTI and even more nimble thanks to the low weight, this relatively unassuming car gives all the others here a pasting for pure driving fun. Factoids: 1.4-litre turbo and supercharged petrol motor, 136kW, R312 000

Renault Megane RS Trophy Highs: It isn’t the power. It’s the cornering traction. Lows: Runs out of steam at the top end.

2

Quickie: The Renault RS nomenclature has a significant global fan-club, all of whom insist this is undoubtedly the fastest hyper hatch on the market because of some Nurburgring times. Drive the Trophy and you can see where the result comes from - the uncanny traction through the bends thanks to the Trophy chassis and suspension setup, which isn’t quite as uncomfortable as expected, and those special sticky tyres. Other than that, and the tacky sticker job, there isn’t that much to recommend over a “standard” RS. Factoids: 2.0-litre turbo petrol, 195kW, R409 900

VW Scirocco R Highs: Razor-sharp front end. Lows: Seriously expensive now.

3

Quickie: Of the 2-line VW R range, it’s the Scirocco you want if you’re looking for pure driving thrills. Pumping 188kW through the front wheels alone makes for far more excitement than the heavier, AWD Golf R, and the Scirocco responds to this fact with a beautifully judged setup creating a front end almost as sharp as the Megane RS Trophy. But with a much more comfortable ride. Factoids: 2.0-litre turbo petrol, 188kW, R433 900

Focus RS Highs: Embodiment of this over-endowed breed. Lows: Long gone.

4

Quickie: Sadly the limited-run of these special cars is long over, and all the hype regarding the 2014 model is still just rumour, unconfirmed by Ford. Still the legend of this car, crafted by those retina-searing paintjobs and comically pumped arches, lives on. If you find one selling second-hand, just buy it straight away. Factoids: 2.5-litre turbo petrol engine, 224kW, R N/A

BMW 135i M Sport Highs: Explosive power without corrupting the helm. Lows: Everyone’s going to order it with the 8-speed Sport Auto.

5

Quickie: The new 3-door M135i has been billed by the motoring press as a 1 M with the option of an auto ‘box. It isn’t quite of course, but then it’s also much cheaper, and you can buy one right now, which has to be worth something. Either way, with a finally sorted RWD chassis and that creamy turbocharged straight-six powerplant, it’s difficult to go wrong with this one. Factoids: 3.0-litre turbo petrol straight-6, 235kW, R445 500 D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

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TOP 5 ROADSTERS/COUPES 1

Jaguar F-Type Highs: Engine range pulls no punches. Lows: A bit more expensive than initially expected. Quickie: Fairly typically of the brand, this "entry-level" Jaguar coupe is mesmerising to look at. And, apparently, to drive, with none of the range of motors available disappointing. Our pick would likely be the supercharged petrol V6, for a winning combination of lightweight agility and instantaneous punch! Factoids: 3-litre supercharged petrol V6, 280kW, 0-100km/h in 4.9s, 8-speed automatic, R975 000

2

Peugeot RCZ Highs: A consummate all-rounder. Lows: Does occasionally feel a bit girlie. Quickie: The Peugeot RCZ is a genuinely delightful surprise to drive. It packs the turbo charged punch of a Cooper S into a sublimely shapely body with, most importantly, suspension actually capable of absorbing the occasional bump. It's our favourite small coupe on the road today, simply bubbling over with joie de vivre. Factoids: 1.6-litre turbo petrol motor, 147kW, R419 500

3

BMW 1 M Coupe Highs: Huge adrenaline spikes before even climbing aboard. Lows: Will almost certainly kill you. Quickie: Perhaps the Z4 is more suited to this category, but there aren't any in the current range that excite us enough. One thing the extremely limited-run 1 M Coupe never, ever comes up short on. What an absurdly desirable little machine, even if it will most likely spit you off the tarmac sooner or later. Factoids: 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol, 250kW, R590 900

4

Porsche Boxster S Highs: Driving purity. Lows: It's quite, erm, low. For getting in and out, you see. Quickie: Before I'd been behind the wheel of one, I scoffed at the Porsche Boxster for being the Porker for hairdressers and lady-boys. I did. But when you're behind the wheel, even the entry-level version feels special. Communicative, absurdly precise, beautifully engineered and just raring to strut its stuff. And the latest incarnation is honed to perfection. Factoids: 3.2-litre petrol flat six, 232kW, R699 900

5

Toyota 86 Highs: Pert, pure Japanese-sportscar looks. Lows: Needs more grunt. Quickie: Yes, it does need a touch more power, but nevertheless the 86 is basically a masterpiece. A performance home-run from a company who seemed to have forgotten everything it once new about performance. Light and therefore extremely agile, the 2.0-litre nat-asp engine tries hard enough and makes a nice enough noise, but never really compresses the seat-cushions behind you. Still, this car affirms that Toyota still has a heart dripping with driving passion. Factoids: 2.0-litre petrol engine, 147kW, R298 500

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TOP 5 SPORTS COUPES BMW M3 Highs: All things to all men. Lows: End of life.

1

Quickie: It's the icon. The benchmark. The definition of a motoring niche basically. It's also, sadly, about to be replaced, and it's the last of the naturallyaspirated BMW M cars too. The new model might be returning to a straight-six, but there's talk it could be tri-turbo too, which will mean more power yes but invariably less passion. A characteristic which still oozes from the existing M3. Factoids: 4.0-litre petrol V8, 309kW, R852 900

Porsche 911 Carrera S Highs: It isn't the power. It's the cornering traction. Lows: Runs out of steam at the top end.

2

Quickie: The Renault RS nomenclature has a significant global fan-club, all of whom insist this is undoubtedly the fastest hyper hatch on the market because of some Nurburgring times. Drive the Trophy and you can see where the result comes from - the uncanny traction through the bends thanks to the Trophy chassis and suspension setup, which isn't quite as uncomfortable as expected, and those special sticky tyres. Other than that, and the tacky sticker job, there isn't that much to recommend over a "standard" RS. Factoids: 3.8-litre petrol flat-6, 294kW, RR1 192 000

Mercedes C63 AMG Highs: Sounds like the God of War. Lows: Drinks like the God of Winos.

3

Quickie: The C63 AMG is packing even more of a heavyweight punch than ever, but in latest form at least has a chassis with some chance of harnessing this savage force of nature. It still isn't anywhere near as precise as the M3 of course, but at least it no longer tries to ride a bucking bronco on an ice-rink. Factoids: 6.3-litre V8 petrol, 336kW, R977 100

Lotus Evora S Highs: A classic recipe for the modern age. Lows: Sports Racer variant not for SA.

4

Quickie: Lotus Cars seem to do such small volumes in SA, because they aren't M, AMG, or Porsche, that you just don't see enough of these flowing, feline shapes on our roads. Yet the Evora is a sublime car to drive. Fast, light on it's feet and astonishingly compliant it's a joy on any trip. Deserves to be seen more, really. Factoids: 3.5-litre turbo petrol engine, 258kW, RN/A

Audi RS5 Highs: Another gem of a V8. Lows: Quite aloof.

5

Quickie: We did toy with doubling-up on BMWs in this category, and replacing the RS5 with the new M6. However although that car is a lot faster and RWD, the turbocharged V8 model will still always give best to a properly engineered naturally-aspirated V8, the 4.2-litre example of which situated in the nose of the Audi RS5 is quite simply a peach which will send shivers down your spine.

Factoids: 4.2-litre V8 petrol, 331kW, R875 000 D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

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TOP 5 SUPER SALOONS 1

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S Highs: Has lost none of its celebrated V8 voice. Lows: Not as exclusive a brand as some in this field. Quickie: The S takes the already-bonkers "standard" E63 AMG to a whole new level, and it's not just because of the increase in power. This car also comes as standard with a tricky diff at the rear to aid traction, a feature which quite frankly the regular car really should be fitted with as well! Factoids: 5.5-litre biturbo V8 petrol, 430kW, 800Nm, 0-100km/h 4.1s, R1 396 600

2

Aston Martin Rapide S Highs: 6.0-litre V12 symphony. Lows: Seriously? No. Quickie: Although Porsche may have been among the first to cotton-on to a new breed of customers wanting a high-performance and luxurious limousine with the Panamera, the Rapide actually managed to make this odd combination into something magnificently gorgeous. Add in Aston's venerable 6.-0litre V12, and the soundtrack of an attacking Spitfire, and you have purest automotive Nirvana. Factoids: 6.0-litre petrol V12, 416kW, RTBC

3

Porsche Panamera S Highs: An incredibly fluid drive. Lows: Lacks the grunt of the Turbo. Quickie: The Panamera has always been, well, undeniably ugly really. However, the first time I drove one, I realised why it sells so well nevertheless. The Turbo is devastatingly rapid, but for us this S is the greatest. Still has decent shove from the V8 in the nose, but RWD rather than AWD makes threading it down your favourite piece of road far defter and more satisfying. Just try not to look at it. Factoids: 4.8-litre petrol V8, 294kW, R1 126 000

4

Jaguar XFR Highs: Momentous shove on tap. Lows: Supercharger annihilates fuel. Quickie: Jaguar's XFR sacrifices some of the nicely understated strengths of the brand by using a supercharged V8 which is never anything short of thuggish. It bellows hard under power, but can mooch along comfortably as well, while the suspension foregoes iron-fisted control for all-round flexibility. A real event. Factoids: 5-litre supercharged V8 petrol, 375kW, R1 043 200

5

BMW M5 Highs: Head-scrambling power. Lows: Artificially-enhanced soundtrack. Quickie: As much as we continue to hate the idea of a synthesised soundtrack to cover up for the muting of the V8 voice thanks to the twin turbochargers, there's no denying the effectiveness of the new M5s engine configuration. Blown in this way, the 4.4 seems to gain almost endless reserves of colossal power, enough for the engine to start to really dominate the show. Factoids: 4.4-litre twin-turbo petrol V8, 412kW, R1 145 500

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TOP 5 4X4S Toyota Land Cruiser Highs: The Toughest. Period. Lows: A very rough ride.

1

Quickie: Toyota's Land Cruiser has been the mainstay of African expeditioning for a very long time, and there's a very good reason for this. It's unstoppable. Practically unbreakable. Can almost always be fixed with a hammer. And has dual fuel tanks for a range of comfortably over 1000km even on the roughest terrain. Now even available in a station wagon. Factoids: 4.0-litre petrol motor, 170kW, R417 900

Range Rover Vogue SE TDV8 Highs: Effortless everywhere. Lows: Have been some build-quality issues.

2

Quickie: The Defender might be the more macho, but the Rangie has off-road capabilities that even this legend struggles to keep pace with. And it's all packaged into a vehicle which feels positively regal regardless of the surface being conquered, with bundu-bashing abilities which will flatter the beginner but beguile the expert offroader. The new model adds even more power to the awesome TDV8 motor as well, which is always a good thing. Factoids: 4.4-litre turbo diesel V8, 250kW, 6.9 s sprint, R1 464 100

Nissan Pathfinder 3.0dCi V6 Highs: Mountains of torque. Lows: Feels seriously big all the time, and not that light on fuel either.

3

Quickie: We found the Pathfinder with the V9X turbo diesel motor to be lacking very little, especially at the price this thing sells for. It's very well equipped, comfortable and refined on the road, and then strong and capable off. It suited the family just fine on long trips, and it even turns a fair deal of heads. It does struggle to fit in an averagesized garage however... Factoids: 3.0-litre turbo diesel, 170kW, 8.9 s sprint, R652 000

Suzuki Jimny Highs: Much, much more capable than you'd ever expect. Lows: Noisy on the highway, and definitely lacking grunt.

4

Quickie: At the launch of the Jimny I remember looking at the off-road track and thinking the Suzuki guys were mad. Admittedly we did struggle a bit with some of the more technical obstacles, but some perseverance saw everyone through to the astonishment of everyone who hadn't yet driven the car. A never-say-die attitude goes a long way in this activity. Factoids: 1.3-litre petrol engine, 63kW, R201 900

Toyota FJ Cruiser Highs: Most of the ability of a LandCruiser, but much more charm. Lows: Quite heavy on fuel. Quite heavy generally in fact.

5

Quickie: Toyota have pulled off some black magic with the FJ - it doesn't ride anywhere near as rough as either a Hilux or a LandCruiser, and yet show it some challenging tracks and it'll perform comparably to this daddy of 4X4s. Yet take it back onto the road, and it's impressive there too. And to top it all off, it looks and feels like the toy it is. Factoids: 4.0-litre petrol engine, 200kW, 7.6 s sprint, R457 600 D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

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TOP 5 HYBRIDS 1

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Highs: Luxury Defined. Aggressively priced too. Lows: It's a diesel, so won't be a "Sport Hybrid". Quickie: The new E-Class range just launched into the SA market includes a fullyfledged hybrid option, and done the right way in our opinion too. With a turbodiesel engine mated to the electric motor, giving you the best of both worlds. Merc reckons this car will amount for some 10% of new E-Class sales volumes - interesting to watch! Factoids: 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine, 170kW, 590Nm, 0-100 in 7.5s, 4.1l/100km!

2

Lexus GS450h Highs: Such a classy interior. Lows: Practically none. Quickie: Quite probably the best hybrid we've driven to date, although we have been avoiding the Porsche Cayenne. Anyway, the GS450h even manages to squeeze a decent noise into the cabin when the 3.5-litre V6 is working hard, which is nice. Factoids: 3.5-litre petrol motor, 252kW (combined), R799 800

3

BMW ActiveHybrid5 Highs: Fabulously built, cheaper than the GS. Lows: Still drinks heavily. Quickie: Quite a silly one this. When you wake that performance-oriented 3.0-litre turbocharged six, the ActiveHybrid5 really starts to drink. And you have to, quite a lot, because of ridiculously limited battery capacity. Nice to drive though, even if it couldn't so much save a minute little planetoid. Factoids: 3.0-litre turbo petrol, 225kW (petrol only), R757 300

4

Toyota Yaris HSD Highs: Very light on fuel. Lows: Very expensive up front cost. Quickie: It's a lot of money to pay for a Yaris. Fortunately there will soon be a cheaper Auris HSD, bringing the technology further down the price scale. Anything particularly outstanding about the way it goes? Well, no. Not really. Factoids: 1.5-litre petrol, 55kW (petrol only), R230 600

5

Lexus CT200h Highs: Not a Prius. Lows: Sheep in wolf's clothing. Quickie: This spot was meant to be for the Prius, but we just couldn't bring ourselves to recommend that car. This is the same vehicle, sharing the same dreadful boredom the Prius provides, but at least it looks quite nice. Don't get the F-Sport though, the standard one is the same price as the Prius and isn't quite so much "all mouth and no trousers". Factoids: 1.8-litre petrol engine, 100kW (combined), R370 500

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TOP 5 SALOONS BMW 535i Highs: As agile as a 3, as comfortable as a 7. Lows: None.

1

Quickie: The latest-generation 5-Series is a saloon so capable, that in a purely logical world it would be the car that all middle to upper execs would drive. It's big and luxurious yet balanced and agile when pushed, with the 3.0-litre turbo motor delivering plenty of puff and the RWD layout endlessly entertaining. It's a class act, pure and simple. Factoids: 3.0-litre turbo petrol motor, 225kW, 5.9s sprint, R679 900

Lexus GS350 Highs: Impregnable build. Lows: Can still spot the Toyota switchgear.

2

Quickie: Lexus has been targeting the BMW 5-Series for so long with the GS, that I think even it was surprised when the latest-generation model ended up coming so remarkably close to this perennial rival. The 350 might lack some of the firepower of the turbo charged 535i, but it makes up for that with a wonderfully vocal character and a naturally-escalating power curve that actually quickens the pulse sufficiently. And you get all the luxuries already in place for the price you pay. Factoids: 3.5-litre petrol V6, 233kW, 6.3 s sprint, R584 200

Suzuki Kizashi Highs: Lovely, unique looks. Lows: Engine might lack a little top-end bite.

3

Quickie: Most people are unlikely to believe us when we tell you that the Kizashi is one of the most underrate cars on the roads today - we hardly ever see one despite knowing just how brilliant it is. It's got a peppy, zingy 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine which can't compete with larger competitors but is characterful and eager in its responses, a chassis which is sharp and yet fluid, and styling which is delectably unconventional. It's a winner, even better than the very similar Honda Accord for lacking that cars oppressive, and expensive, new-age electronic safety gadgets. Factoids: 2.4-litre petrol, 131kW, R319 000

Audi A4 1.8T Highs: Sleeker than ever, and an example of downsizing actually working. Lows: Typically overservoed brakes.

4

Quickie: The new 1.8T motor in the A4, which effectively replaces the old 2.0T, actually delivers what the manufacturer claims. That is, a thick wedge of low-down torque, sufficient power, and a useful saving at the fuel pump. You're really not likely to miss the little bit of extra power from the old 2.0T, and the chassis is sharper than ever in vanilla FWD, manual format. Factoids: 1.8-litre turbo petrol engine, 125kW, 8.1s sprint, R333 900

MG6 Highs: Cheap yet distinctive. Lows: Old-school tech, and you will be the butt of jokes.

5

Quickie: The Chinese-built MG6 might feel a little flaky and certainly isn't all that polished technology wise, but it's a lot of car for not a lot of money. Yes there are rumours of reliability issues but then when was the MG brand a paragon of virtue in this regard anyway? One of the best Chinese efforts we've yet sampled. Factoids: 1.8-litre turbo petrol engine, 118kW, 8.4 s sprint, R239 900 D RIV E M AG AZ I NE A U GU ST 2 0 1 3

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TOP 5 SUPERCARS 1

Pagani Zonda F Highs: Rolling artwork. Lows: Out of production. Quickie: The Zonda may have been replaced by the Huayra already, but this turbocharged active-aero tech-feast hasn't managed to replace the original in our hearts. Something about a 7.0-litre naturally-aspirated V12, minimal weight, a manual transmission and RWD just gets the purist in all of us slavering at the mouth. Ultimate pin-up car. Factoids: 7.3-litre petrol motor, 443kW, R20m

2

McLaren MP4-12C Highs: Monumental thrust. Lows: Too quick for the road. Quickie: The MP4-12C redefined the mid-level supercar category. It is so fast that the thought of a much more focussed version, the P1, seemed quite insane when you were behind the wheel and hanging on as the turbos lit fully in second gear. It's savage, relentless power mounted in a chassis which is rigid and light. Stupendous. Factoids: 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8, 440kW, 3.2 s sprint, R3.2m

3

Audi R8 V10 Highs: Lamborghini V10. Lows: Momentum and weight of the engine can catch you out. Quickie: The R8 V10 is just mega - and you don't have to have the violent R-Tronic transmission - there is a manual gearbox available as standard. The chassis manages to make the screaming 5.2-litre V10 accessible most of the time, although it can be caught out now and then, usually leaving the driver quite surprised indeed. Thanks to AWD however, these moments are usually catchable. Factoids: 5.2-litre V10, 386kW, 3.9 s sprint, R1.9m

4

Nissan GT-R Highs: Otherwordly deployment of all that power. Lows: Not the most musical supercar ever. Quickie: Because we were badge snobs, we at first criticised the GT-R for having pretensions beyond its means, so to speak. This was no supercar we argued - not special enough, not expensive enough, not prestigious enough. However, what it is, is fast enough to destroy most of these more hoity-toity competitors. So it's earned its place. Factoids: 3.8-litre twin-turbo petrol V6, 397kW, 2.9s sprint, R1.4m

5

Aston Martin Vantage S Highs: Best engine noise ever? Lows: Roadster version we drove not the most rigid. Quickie: The original V8 Vantage was only really lacking in one area - power. While this tweaked Vantage S still isn't a headline-grabber in terms of outputs, it now feels like it has enough to justify full supercar status, albeit in a junior supercar role. The Vantage makes up for this with supermodel looks, an operatic voice, and a magnetism which only a rareified few might replicate. Factoids: 4.7-litre petrol V8, 321kW, 4.7 s sprint, R1.6m

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Drive Magazine August 2013  

The August 2013 Issue of Drive Magazine examines just how much difference a single letter can make, and road-tests a number of vehicles whic...

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