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

Art Contributors: Heide-Marie Botes AVC

Management: Russell Bennett, Steve Allison

Advertising Sales: Photography: Steve Allison Photographic,, direct from manufatures All data contained in this magazine is for information only and every effort is made to ensure its accuracy. However reviews, comment and instruction are the views of the authors and may contain inadvertent


e’re a fortunate bunch, we know. Just browsing through the list of vehicles we’ve had on test this month is enough to make any petrolhead positively livid with jealousy – there are three cars in this issue which crack the R1-million marker, some by quite a margin in fact. Nissan’s brutal GT-R, Audi’s sublime R8 V10, and Merc’s uber-limo, S63 AMG, all thoroughly driven for your entertainment this month. What a job.

errors, for which Drive apologises but takes no responsibility for any actions of any person resulting from the use of information contained herein. Any prospective contributor or

Hasn’t helped our petrol budgets however, and as you all no doubt are aware motoring journalists are ordinarily not the most cash-flush individuals in the

correspondant submitting unsolicited

world. Bar Clarkie and his crew of

material with a view to its publication

course. We tend to be such car-nutters

automatically grant Drive license to publish

that, even though we don’t strictly need

such material in whole or in part in any

to, all spare cash is already pre-allo-

edition of this magazine. Any material

cated for buying something else old,

submitted is at the risk of the sender and

oily, and dripping passion. Or repairing

Drive cannot be held liable or accountable

the old, oily stuff already parked in our

for its loss or damage.

and our unfortunate families garages, lawns, backyards, and the like.



E ds W el c o m e

Back to our three millionaires toys though, it has been interesting to try out three such thoroughly-developed, immensely powerful vehicles in a row, yet bicker afterwards about their correct “classification” in the great motoring hierarchy. So, clearly, it isn’t just power, or for that matter the 0-100km/h sprint, which earns cars their respective pigeonholes, and these three are amazingly able to clarify these positions between them. We hope you enjoy our detailed explanation of the hows, whys, and wherefores ahead. Our Lumina SS Ute test takes the paradigm-testing theme a little further as well, giving two distinctly unique views on the same vehicle, both based on preconceptions. How these affect the big, basically honest 6.0-litre V8 bakkie is made absolutely clear by the end of the day, so read on and let us know if you agree or think we’re just being full of bollocks. We’ve also been having a lot of fun with more humble models though, and establishing pecking-orders in the R250K bracket in-between pedalling the big-money monsters around town, and again have come up with some interesting results. Check out how the family-man Chevy Cruze fares against range-topping hot hatches from the big Japanese brands in this month’s group test. There’s plenty more in this issue too, so download the PDF and take your time to read through each and every lovingly crafted detail. We’re sure you’ll enjoy the rides.

Russell DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009



News Our first apology this month. And Porsche’s latest racecar. And more interesting stuff.


Drive 2010 Feature Catching the Sun


Drive Feature Nissan GT-R - Super speed


Drive Feature MY10 Range Rover Sports and Land Rover Disco 4


Drive Feature Checking out the view in the Tata Indica Vista


Drive columns Russell Bennett moans even more about DSGs, while Steve Allison ponders just how some company’s think in a recession?


Drive Tests Mercedes Benz S63 AMG


Drive Tests Alfa Romeo MiTo


Drive Tests Honda Civic Diesel

104 Drive Tests

Toyota Prius

112 Drive Tests Honda Fireblade 120 Drive Tests Suzuki Alto GLS 126 Drive Tests Big Car, Bigger shoes – Lumina Ute SS

138 Drive Tests Audi R8 V10

156 Drive Tests Kawasaki Z750

162 Drive Versus Chevrolet’s new Cruze takes on the cream of the hot-hatch crop, Honda Civic 1.8 VXi and Mazda 3 2.0 Individual.

176 Drive Gaming Forza Motorsport 3 is here, but is it all the racing game community has been waiting for? Full review right here.

182 Drive Tunes Christo Valentyn reviews some of the latest albums, and thanks to the generous record labels gives you yet another chance to win something for Nada!

186 The Drive Portal Bob Allison takes us on a technical tour of the science of speed. Strap in and enjoy!

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he sixth generation of BMW’s 5 Series Sedan is set to land in the mid-sized premium sedan segment of the South African market in May 2010. BMW have clearly been working rather studiously on this new 5 Series, as evidenced by a new bonnet, a host of underthe-hood tweaks and a huge 75 page press release, the press release probably took the longest to perfect. That’s the new

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009

stuff though, carried over from the E60 5 Series is active front steering as well as the option for active rear steering which is designed to improve the 5’s low speed turning circle but its dynamic nature will improve stability at high speeds. The advanced suspension and drivetrain in the 5 Series is said to offer both a sporty driving experience and high


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overall comfort, a trick which many

ences which will naturally aid BMW in

manufacturers have tried and failed to

achieving their sporty and comfortable

achieve but when the 5 does arrive the


truth will be revealed. The suspension does offers Dynamic Driving Control, a

The most important under-the-hood

system that allows the driver to custom-

specifications however are as always

ise the suspension for personal prefer-

the engine numbers. In this regard the



News 5 Series will initially

a twin-turbo unit. From there BMW of-

offer a single 8-cylin-

fer the 528i straight-six making 190kW

der option in addition

and the 523i limping along compared to

to four separate 6-cyl-

the rest of the family at 150kW.

inder options. There will also be a 4-cylin-

The 6-cylinder diesel 530d will churn out

der turbodiesel motor

180kW and the aforementioned 4-cyl-

arriving a little later

inder turbodiesel makes 135kW. The

but who really wants

little 4-cylinder 520d does have some

a 4-cylinder diesel in

interesting features as the crankcase

a 5 Series anyway?

will be aluminium and fuel injection is of the common-rail direct flavour.




550i is a TwinPow-

There really are many more details on

er Turbo technology

the 5 Series but the press release was

and High Precision

75 pages long! I never really expected

Injection V8 produc-

to finish reading the thing. Some of the



very impressive technology present is

Don’t get confused by

electric power steering and a sort of

the marketing terms

KERS system although the energy cre-



ated from the brakes won’t be used for

means is that the mo-

an F1-style power boost, but rather just

tor is simply BMW’s

to reduce the load on the engine and

excellent direct injec-

thus improve the motors grunt. I really

tion twin-turbo V8, the

like this idea because an engine should

one from the X6 actu-

be there to pedal the car, not power


your air-conditioning. Deserving a spe-


cial mention is the option of a 8-speed The 6-cylinder options are obviously

automatic gearbox for the 550i and

all straight-sixes with only one diesel

535i, eight gears! Shifting through eight

thrown into the 6-cylinder group. The

gears will probably take long enough to

meatiest six will be nestled in the 535i

read through a 75 page press release.

and deliver 225kW, this engine is also DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


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s was reported in the last issue of Drive, Buell as we knew it was shut down by their then owners HarleyDavidson pulling the plug. Now however Erik Buell has struck back in emphatic fashion by announcing the 10

establishment of Erik Buell Racing. The firm will officially launch on the 1st of December and will be an independent unit building race-only bikes. Whilst Erik Buell Racing may be techDRIVE M AGAZINE DECEM BER 2009

News that Harley-Davidson still owns the license for. So if they decide to revoke Buell’s license rights Erik Buell Racing will be a bike manufacturer without a bike to build-which wouldn’t be ideal if we’re honest. That is not independence in my mind. Furthermore, Erik Buell Racing



have a choice to build any other superbike because as they aren’t building road bikes they cannot homologate


so developing their own products wouldn’t be feasible. Erik Buell Racing also plans to offer technical assistance to anybody purchasing racing bikes. The new Erik Buell Racing firm will be formed from now former Buell nically independent the reality howev-

employees, not to be con-

er is that Harley-Davidson will still be

fused with Erik Buell Racing of course.

indirectly linked to Erik Buell Racing’s

The bad news is that not all Buell em-

future. You see what Erik Buell Rac-

ployees will be warming a seat in the

ing plans to do is build 25 superbikes a

new Erik Buell Racing as the startup

year based on the Buell 1125R, a bike

simply doesn’t have the capacity.

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


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nother day another product from the relentless product mill that is the VW Group, this time in the form of the 911 GT3 R. Don’t get me wrong though, I really like the fact that the guys at VW, Audi and of course Porsche have decided to extend the middle finger to the alleged recession and continue to churn out a bewildering number of vehicles. Back to the GT3 R, this latest racing Porsche for International GT Sport is

the replacement for the GT3 Cup S. This time round however the focus for the car has apparently been on better drivability and easier handling. The engine in the GT3 R is naturally a six-cylinder boxer engine, this particular one is of the four litre variety which allows the boxer to pump out 353kW/480hp. The GT3 R could hardly be accused of being overweight, based on the recently launched 911 GT3 Cup



News the GT3 R is just 1,200kg’s and I would

sche construct the 911 GT3 R at their

say that the 353kW motor should be

Weissach Development Centre and for

enough to pedal that weight rather well.

their trouble will be asking customers

It should also be wide enough, a vital

to cough up 279,000 Euros plus local

characteristic of course, being as it is

sales tax/VAT, which converts roughly

that the GT3 R’s body is based on the

to 3.1 million Rand, which is a lot. It

exceedingly wide body of the street-

must be said however that this car has

legal GT3 RS. To really drive home the

been produced for the 2010 motorsport

point on the wideness front, the wheel

season, which is an expensive game

arches both front and rear are flared

so it isn’t surprising that the cars are


rather pricey. It’ll be very fast and that is usually enough to justify just about

Porsche have said that better drivability

any price for us Drive staffers anyway.

was a priority for this new racer, which I guess makes sense when considering that the amateur racing driver with more money (so he can afford one of these) than actual talent is one of the big markets for a car such as this one. With regards to the improved drivability there is ABS, traction control and an egas with “throttle-blip” function. All that will combine to make for a driving experience that is more accessible than the previous generation GT3 racer, or at least that’s what Porsche say. The official world debut of the Porsche 911 GT3 R will be on the 14th of January 2010 at the Birmingham Motor Show, which hardly shouts ‘flashy racing car‘ but I guess the car simply wasn’t ready to be launched at Frankfurt. PorDR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


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s a Gauteng motorist it would be impossible not to know about the vast and extensive raft of roadworks occurring on the road network. And as many if not all Gauteng drivers have experienced the road works are not merely an inconvenience but more importantly dangerous. The list of dangers created by driving through a construction site is too long to list but suffice to say the risk of driving on our roads at the moment is at a heightened level. When there is an increase is risk there will naturally be an increase in the risk of damage to your vehicle as well. Fortunately for motorists however it is not a completely lost cause when your vehicle is damaged as a result of road works. The SA National Roadworks Agency Limited (SANRAL) has informed the public that any damage to your vehicle caused by the roadworks of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project will be treated just like any other insurance claim. With regards to any insurance claim however it should be noted that the claim would not be with SANRAL it-

damage to your car then you need to

self but rather with the individual con-

find out who the relevant agency is re-

tractors responsible for the particular

sponsible for that particular road and

stretch of road upon which any damage

go from there.

occurred. So if roadworks have caused 14



The contractors and their insurance

So really what you need to do is im-

company would then proceed as usual

mediately photograph the damage on

and investigate any claim whilst tak-

the vehicle, note the exact location and

ing into account the road conditions as

cause of damage and then hope for the

well as the drivers role in the incident.


DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


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f all the things I think of w h e n I think of Denmark, I never thought a 1000+ horses supercar would be top of the list. And yet that’s where we’re at, the Zenvo ST1 has the


looks, power and sheer presence of a supercar and even the exclusivity, but it’s from Denmark. As far as the exclusivity goes Zenvo will only be making 15 of these monsters so if you have the requisite millions to burn on a European supercar be sure to get your oder in quickly. Heritage aside the stunning ST1 is, in my opinion, the most beautiful car in the world. Yesterday I thought the



Ferrari 458 Italia had it, but today this Scandinavian stunner holds the crown. The Zenvo has the credentials under the hood as well, the figures on the spec sheet are mind boggling, although it remains to be seen whether or not it will be able to put all its power on the road effectively.

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


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The ST1 has a 7 litre turbo super-

all this in a car weighing 1376kg’s and

charged V8! The monstrous engine

I’m sure you’ll understand my excite-

produces 810kW/1104hp at 6900 rpm,

ment. The ST1 will after all take you to

yes you read that right, making the ST1

100km/h from 0 in three seconds and

easily more powerful than pretty much

is electronically limited to a top speed

everything, even the Veyron. If you think

of 375km/h and that’s just about all you

those power stats are impressive, wait

need to know.

for the torque. 1430Nm at 4500 rpm, 18


News Zenvo also deserve special applause

etc, and yet for fuel consumption and

for snubbing the ecomentalists, some-

CO2 emissions there is a just a series

thing Drive can’t get stress enough.

of N/A’s for everything. Enough talk

The spec sheet of the ST1 has all the

though, rather just drink in the sight of

usual stats; power, mechanics, options,

the Zenvo ST1.

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


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here’s something we need to clear up in the second-issue review of the Navara King Cab. Turns out that one of my biggest gripes with the car, the crazily nannying Garmin-based integrated satnav system, actually can be disabled if you know the right incantations...

center of the screen. 2.

Select settings


Scroll down and select proximity points


Disable speed points


Exit until you are back to the “where to” screen.

Fortunately Maurice van Heerden of


bottom right.

Planet Electronics, who fits these systems locally for NSA, reads the mag-

Select the x icon


Select yes (This

azine, and was quick to jump on our


heads for stuffing that up. We really did

saves the updated

try, browsed through what we thought


was every menu and tried every option


Never be interrupted

it looked like being, but apparently it

by another speed

wasn’t enough. Anyway Maurice sent

warning ever again! “

us step by step instructions, which we’re reprinting here in case you have

Thanks Maurice for set-

the same problem we did, and are going


more than slightly batty from it. I mean,

I’m pretty sure that I’d en-

we had the car for but a week and then

joy the vehicle as a whole

Nissan took it back, and it got to us

a fair deal more armed with

quite badly. Here, then, is the trick.

this information, that grem-




lin really, really irked me! I “Hi Russell,

literally drove every kilometer in that car with a spine-

Please see instructions below as per

tingling bonging endlessly


persisting and wrecking the


When in “Where to” and “View

sounds of the entertainment

map” interface, select the


spanner icon in the bottom DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


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he Peugeot Tepee is basically a van with seats but that’s not a bad thing. Peugeot have done much more than just fit seats, the whole persona of the vehicle has changed making it much more car than van. What you get is a real seven seater rather than a five seater with occasional foldaway seats in the boot. What that means is that not only do you get seven comfortable seats, you get real luggage space as well. The level of equipment is what sets the Tepee aside from the crowd. You get luxuries like cruise control and a CD Front loader. You get separate front and rear air conditioning and storage bins all over the place. The Tepee of course meets with all the latest European safety standards and includes air bags, ABS brakes and front fog lights too. Peugeot are known for their diesel engines and using their 2.0l HDI engine, the Tepee will return 8 L/100km. and being French it’s a bit of a looker. Based on the Expert van, the Tepee has tried and tested DNA. The Tepee probably won’t tempt a buyer away from their people carrier cars and is aimed squarely at the hospitality industry. There will be some private buyers no doubt, those that have bought Kombi’s in the past.

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Fe a t ure


f you happen to be heading out to the picturesque outlying dorpie of Rustenburg for a match at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium, be warned. There are two Royal Bafokeng Stadiums, in a town just barely large enough to justify one.

from which the Gauride network ought to provide transport as well as entertainment, to the game and back to your cars later, but visit on an off day in your own vehicle and follow these directions to one of the most intriguing little drive outs in all of South Africa.

From the town itself, you’ll pretty much go past the older one as you join the R24 heading West, and then you’ll turn right onto the R565 for a few kays before the glorious new construction, with it’s leaping, elegant minarets reaching into the sky, arises from the suburbs

All right, so you’d have to be a jammy sod to replicate the drive in what we’ve got out here today. But as part of another article this month we just had to bring the R8 V10 out on this spec-




on your right. Reportedly costing in the region of R350-million (say US $50m), this modern beauty is equipped with all the technology, amenities, and necessary facilities that could be required to host nearly 50 000 spectators of the world’s best matches of the beautiful game. No matter where you are coming from though, the big yellow signs with a topdown depiction of a sports stadium, pretty noticeable in the rich mountainous scenery out here, will get you to the right place. Signage which will no doubt have quadrupled by the time the fans start pouring in next year. Naturally on match day you’ll actually be heading to the Park ‘n Ride points, 26


D r i v e F ea tur e sides, when you have an R8 V10 in the

Still whatever you can wangle, rent,

garage, you don’t want it to be there.

borrow or steal will do. These are good

You just want to be out driving it, for

roads, and the halfway destinations are

as long as your allocated time and

well worth it.

then a few more hours please? Steve was pretty enamoured of his ‘Blade

So from the stadium you’ll turn right,

as well by that point. A new one now,

back onto the R565. If you’ve been to a

without the Repsol livery. Apparently

game in Jo’Burg already you’ll already

these things account for something like

have noticed something. Out here, eve-

half the Superbike market share in the

ryone is decidedly friendlier and more

country, which seems to make a lot of

easy-going – the absence of the pres-


sure-cooker nature of the Big Smoke I

“If you happen to be heading out to the picturesque outlying dorpie of Rustenburg for a match at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium, be warned.” suppose. Even other road users are less likely to do something dangerous, perhaps partly to do with the low traffic volumes, and more relaxed general ambience. This



Honda superbike combo looks and feels absolutely





Where we’re going though sort DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Fe a t ure of makes this town look positively met-

is single-lane backroad today, we did

ropolitan. And yet, there our machines

go through a few roadworks sites even

will blend right in. It doesn’t seem pos-

all the way out here who were busily

sible as we stop at a new mall still in

widening things so it should be less

the shadow of the vaulting stadium, but

lumpy here next year at least. Anyway

it’s true.

although testing there’s a lot of opportunity to stretch the scintillating super-

Once we break free of the town traffic

car/bike legs of our slightly track-weary

“And then pause at the charming Ma Solly’s roadside cafe, where some of the braver little ones are agog about being photographed with the car.” (just a little inside joke – there isn’t any,

duo. The Audi’s firm ride is impressively

but beware of speed cops anyway un-

manageable, and even when bounced

til you’re on the open road), you can

almost into the air by a large, unseen

start enjoying the immensity


and diversity of nature. Apart from a few smallholdings here and there and general-supply “hotspots”, it’s basically our Highveld bush as far as the eye can see, the Pilanesberg mountain range which is our destination



ly from the horizon to the North. You’re on this road for over 20kms, but don’t despair, it’s hardly boring. Although a lot of it 28


D r i v e F ea tur e it lands and recovers with absolute

satnav misdirects us, pointing us left

aplomb – and this at 260 km/h! Although

onto the main road through Le Dig just

we know that car can do more, that’s

a few hundred meters on from where

more or less the maximum speed we

we joined the R556. We find plenty of

manage today, these roads keep you

enthusiastic kids just getting out from


school, who run alongside us whooping and howling and begging to hear this

As you enter the outskirts of the com-

superfreak bellow out its song. We, of

munity of Le Dig, you’ll come to a stop

course, oblige. Several times.

street where you’ll turn right onto the R556. All right so by now you’ll have

And then pause at the charming Ma

guessed from all the signs where





where some of the braver little ones are agog


being photographed with the



quick round of








find one of the most awesome, if short, we’re off to – good old Mr Kerzner’s

stretches of tarmac for driving we’ve

sensational Sun City! And you bet-

come across today, possibly one of the

ter have packed your costumes...

nicest in the country!

Interestingly, our R8 just cements

There are a couple of wicked draining

its position as an absolute supercar

ditches running across the road to ne-

at this point, by failing. At least, the

gotiate first however, but then you pass

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Fe a t ure the Kubu gate on your left (one of the

natures shine forth and we rejuvenate

entrances to the spectacular Pilanes-

him with some detailed tales of how ef-

berg game reserve which

fectively the car’s air

surrounds this area, and you’re



rounded by hills, and the road twists and bucks but is mercifully free of everything – traffic, bumps, surface



about 2 kms. In a way we’re glad when the entrance we proceed to run into, which the R8 satnav says is where we need to go to get to Sun City, turns into the service entrance at the back of this gargantuan casino resort, and we have to turn around and attack the run once more. A couple of runs later we’re completely sated, and happen to find a gorgeous, almost-hidden shot with this billion-dollar icon of cash poking out of the wild surrounds in the mountains behind us. And Steve, as you can see,

conditioner masks

is knackered. It’s comfortably

things like ambient temperature, and

over 30 degrees C out here, and he’s

head back down the road for the last

wearing full leathers. Our sympathetic

time, unite briefly with our new friends



D r i v e F ea tur e passing through Le Dig, and turn left to

characteristic neon glow. There are

rejoin the R556, guidance officially off

several options of hotel, self-contained

for the remainder of the journey.

cabanas, and lodgings of unfathomable opulence here, casinos all over the

We’ve barely begun to enjoy the fast

place, an enormous cabaret theatre,

flowing road when suddenly there it is,

even a fully-fledged watery wonderland

the entrance to Sun City, on our left.

the Valley of the Waves, for the young-

This place always sneaks up on you.

er at heart or those who’re more inter-

Probably because of how effective-

ested in a healthy tan than any form of

ly it’s nestled between mountainous






entire, sumptuous





this range. Even from



there’s no hint of the opulence, or the scale, of this world-class entertainment complex, which happens to include the worldfamous Gary Play- er golf course, and

It’s all completely unbelievable. And

ultra-luxurious Palace of the Lost City.

absolutely wonderful. You have to admire the vision that went into building

The monorail journey seems dreamlike

this place out here. Sure it was in part

to first-time visitors. An elevated mono-

due to the legislative environment of

rail, after all, out here in the absolute

the time, which forbade casinos within

middle of nowhere, travelling over thick,

the borders of South Africa itself, but

verdant jungle. Then the hotel begins,

allowed them in the tiny, neighbouring,

and the contrast of safari and Vegas’

independant “homelands” of the time.

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Fe a t ure You’re standing in Swaziland at the moment, although there weren’t any border posts or passport control points along the way. But we can’t linger, sadly. We’re not quite done for the day. So shot in bag, we carry on in the direction we were travelling once more, which is East on the R556. In 2.6 kms there’s a sliproad going left, and a sign to our more nature-loving travel tip for the day, Kwa-Maritane. It means “Place of the rock”, and refers to the enormous rock shelves this Bush Lodge is built on, formed thousands of years ago by an alkaline volcano. Also part of the Pilanesberg resort, Kwa-Maritane offers access to game viewing drives anywhere in the 55 000 hectares it covers, and visitors can see every single one of the Big Five as well as other interesting animals – cheetahs, hyenas, hippos, crocs even – in their own, unspoiled, natural habitats. The Lodge itself offers a host of more relaxing activities when you just want to enjoy the generous sunshine of the North 32

We s t Province, and is gorgeously built, finished, and fitted. Not to mentioned staffed, and there are several culinary delights on the various menus for sampling. It’s not exactly a day-trip place, but if you’ve got a couple more days to relax in the bush... We don’t. We still have an R8 to drive. From the Kwa-Maritane main gate we DRIVE M AGAZINE DECEM BER 2009

D r i v e F ea tur e hook right, and rejoin our old friend

speed advantage of the bike was obvi-

the R556 going East. Another nice

ous. And that Subaru ain’t slow. But as

piece of road, you once again have to

soon as I straight opened up, followed

be careful of those hidden compres-

by the throttle on the bike, it basically

sions whose effects are multiplied

just disappeared into the horizon. But

the higher your speed. Luckily it’s

today this lightweight, maniacal race-

another lightly-trafficked

bike can’t outrun this machine. The R8

one at least and we can

drops back only a little un-

revel in the screaming

der full throttle, and

V10 once more.

maintains its mad speed that much bet-

The Blade has been

ter. Neither are huge

in front since just after

fans of broken black-

the stadium, and I

top but Steve’s self-

can see why. We go



over a dusty piece of road at speed and I can see a huge


of debris get picked up and spat backwards by the underfloor aerodynamics which help makes this car so stable, even at big speeds. Steve reports that on a bike it’s like driving straight into a shotgun blast. At 250 km/h. Constantly. So he grabs point at the first opportunity.

mean the car can actually take the lead, if we really wanted it to. I suspect there

When the ‘Rex and ‘Blade came togeth-

aren’t going to be a huge amount of cars

er on similar roads last month, the sheer

coming through our office that we’d be

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Fe a t ure spend more than the half hour we did there, make this Rustenburg trip well worth the effort, especially if you’re already in the area, after all. The entire area is breathtaking, and a great game reserve option if the enormous Kruger seems a little too “done” to you. And the jewel in Sun Internationable

al’s crown,

to faithfully report

the one that

that about!

started it all pretty much,

Turn right when

is just a must-

you hit the R510


towards Rustenburg, and you’re

If you’re a local

almost back where you started. If you

but you love a

started in Rustenburg itself that is.

good road-trip, get into a nice car and

These roads are well-surfaced and ab-

go. It’s not that far out of Jo’Burg or

solutely thrilling as they wend through

Pretoria and is like another world once

the surrounding hills, but you’re almost

you’re out there. And that little service

back in suburbia, so not only is traffic

road, if you’re a petrolhead of note, like

heavier, so are the odds of picking up

we are, will blow you away.

a nasty fine. Burble straight through Rustenburg, and you’ll be back at the


Royal Bafokeng Stadium (the wrong one) and the R24. Both that anonymous back-road at Le Dig, and Sun City itself if you’re able to 34


D r i v e F ea tur e

R8Roadtrip Passenger

soundtrack of the V10 never got old to

he R8 V10 had three things wrong with it during the roadtrip, that’s it. The navigation system was, shall we say, rather dimwitted. Then there is the hazard button, it isn’t that well placed and to be frank a lot of people move out of your way in this car. Thanking them can be a bit of a hassle. The last issue I don’t personally agree with but is an issue for many people nonetheless, the badge. It isn’t an Italian supercar brand but just a mainstream brand you see every day.


our petrolhead ears and really did con-

Beyond those rather irrelevant issues

Our R8 roadtrip can only really be sum-

the R8 was spectacular in every way

marised by the way it ended when we

and as a roadtrip car certainly made for

dropped off the beast at Audi HQ, a feel-

a trip to remember. The raw power which

ing of genuine sadness came over me

was so easily unleashed on the unsus-

with the realisation that it was over. I

pecting world is just so much fun. The

love that car.

The View from 2 wheels

The down side for me was the fact that


o, the boys thought they had a car that could finally demonstrate 4-wheel supremacy. It didn’t quite go according to plan though. Sure the car was faster around the track by the most minute of margins but on the road, the FireBlade outruns the car, not with ease but it does stay ahead. Not that we were actually racing of course! DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009

firm the R8 as a fully fledged supercar. The updated styling makes the V10 much sleeker than the old V8 which along with the sound certainly attracted a lot of attention during our trip. All that in a car that only costs two million (considering the price of the Italian competition it is a bargain) and can actually handle most of South Africa’s rough roads, just don’t leave the suspension stiff the whole time though.

we ended up in North West Province on the hottest day of the year. In full leather, the “aircon” only works at silly speeds and instantly becomes a heater every time you stop. While they sat in the air-conditioned car sipping soft drinks, I looked on like wishing that Lazurus would put a drop of water on my tongue. 35


hat Nissan GT-R”, I’ve postulated loudly on more than one occasion, “just can’t be a great drivers’ car. It may have the power and the pace, but it’s all tamed by that insanely sophisticated AWD system, electronic safety nets sprouting from every orifice, and high-tech double-clutch robotised manual ‘box! And at just on 1800kgs, there can’t be any finesse either, just brutal power and computer-sanitised dynamics.”

D r ive Fe a t ure

I’ve just driven one though. And as

and red example at Gerotek we pored

much as I hate to admit it, I was wrong.

over the slats, vents, and bulges and

Oh, how very wrong indeed.

had really started to appreciate them. The Super Silver finish of our press

It isn’t the looks which have seduced

vehicle, despite costing an absolutely

me, I’m still not entirely convinced by

whopping R40K extra, is that bit more

the softer, sleeker front end and han-

understated and again highlights the

ker for the brash brutality of the pug-

shrinking-violet nature of the R35s aes-

nascious R34 model, but the R35 is a

thetics. It really can blend into an aver-

bit of a grower – when we had a black

age car park quite effectively.



D r i v e F ea tur e It’s nice inside though, ridiculously

the gearbox, the amount of teeth-crack-

posh in fact considering the humble

ing in the ride, and those electronic

brand name. There’s a centre-mount-

traction aids, controversially. There’s a

ed touchscreen which seems to house

big, beefy steering wheel in front of you

a bazillion largely useless, incredibly

though with GT-R emblazoned on the

geeky measurement and reporting func-

boss, and even big chaps can get com-

tions, the already-famous trio of toggle

fortable using the powered, multi-way

switches which control the brutality of

adjustments on the drivers seat. Hav-

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Fe a t ure ing said that, not as comfortable as you

truly angry rumble and the whole car,

can get in the mid-engined R8 though,

heavy though it may be, leaps up the

which says a lot about how intelligent

road in the blink of an eye.

the packaging of that Audi really is! The accumulation of speed which redeThe engine starts with a percussive

fines standard reference points though,

rumble and then settles to a deep, bas-

is expected. It’s a given. You don’t lap

sy idle, all menacing intent but not the

the ‘Ring quicker than a GT2 without

techno-feast soundtrack you might ex-

something a bit special beneath the

pect. In fact, it’s almost trad V6, with

hood after all.

augmented balls. There’s no doubt it means business though, an aggressive

What comes as a surprise though, and

jab of the throttle on pull-off elicits a

I had the same surprise in the R8 V10



D r i v e F ea tur e just a couple of days earlier, is the qual-

you’re travelling on, it all starts to make

ity and feel of the steering. It’s heavy

a lot of sense.

in the GT-R, but also full of detail. Our entire drive out to Magaliesburg from

Of course the dual-clutch transmission

Lanseria was dominated by the quite

means that your senses aren’t distract-

emphatically writhing, squirming of the

ed by something as trival as having to

fat leather-covered rim clamped in my

change gears, unless you want them

hands. At first, so busy is the wheel at

to be, at which point it’s simply a curl-

all speeds, it can be quite disconcert-

ing of an index finger around a long,

ing, but when you stop hanging on and

shapely paddle mounted behind the

fighting every wriggle and just relax

wheel – complete with a nicely posi-

into the flow, interpreting this rich flow

tive click to its every action. There’s so

of information about the road surface

much torque right across the rev-range anyway though, that there isn’t all that much point unless you happen to be actually racing on a track somewhere. The thrust the GT-R summons is breathtaking every time. Flex your right foot and medium-length straights just disappear. Fortunately the four-pot Brembo brakes are more than strong enough to cope with wiping off the ludicrous speed, making the insanely expensive carbon-ceramics which are the main component of the V-Spec upgrade seem a little pointless. Again, unless you need top-performance, fade-free braking every lap in a 60-lap race. Nor will the chassis ever leave you hanging. It may weigh as much as a fair-sized van, but it feels nothing short

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


of revelationary every time you push


it through a corner. Admittedly, on our public-road test route, we never really

There is one moment where I test the

came close to overstepping its limits,

threshold of the electronic safety nets,

and I can guarantee that few custom-

which we’ve naturally turned to Race

ers ever will either so stratospheric are

but not off entirely (as this would inval-

they. Again, unless of course they’ve

idate the warranty for the poor future

bought their cars to compete regular-

owner of this example). With the elec-

ly in a race series and are pro drivers

tronics juggling power and braking, the

GT-R just seems to offer up some of

sensitive egos.

it’s “spare” threshold of pure grip and we make it out the other side without

Unfortunately our GT-R for the day

hassles, but it’s not a natural, pleasant

happens to be the original, JDM-spec

feeling. The digital nanny simply steps

demonstrator which was shown at

in, takes control, and sorts it out. As

JIMS, in its last year as Auto Africa in

ever with digital systems, without much

fact, and therefore was still hampered

caring for our frail human comfort lev-

by the ludicrous 190km/h hard limiter.

els or, indeed, pandering to our over-

Colleagues in unfettered samples, who

D r ive Fe a t ure

were already back in their offices by the time we returned to Lanseria, re-

Talk about frustrating. Away from any

port seeing 317km/h on a GPS-based

stop streets and through more chal-

speed measurement device. Mean-

lenging twisties naturally the sports car

while the med/sweeper team trailing us

left the SUV for dead, but they always

at the launch, in a diesel X-Trail, were,

caught up on longer straights, reporting

surrealy, all over the tail of our wrung-

that the X-Trail ran into it’s own aero-

out GT-R!

dynamic brick wall at around 208 km/h.



D r i v e F ea tur e

That’s nearly 20km/h faster than our, admittedly insanely unstressed, GT-R

Now, I’ve confirmed its insane speed.

was managing. What’s more, we could

Its seemingly physics-bending han-

only enjoy the deliscious, brutal, sense-

dling. Its strong and tireless brakes, and

less acceleration for around 8 seconds,

even its upmarket cabin. It’s a car built

that’s how long it takes the monster,

for one purpose, and it’s achieved that

from standstill, to ram up against the

goal in every respect. To humble the es-

inflexible 190km/h mark.

tablished players in this ultra-premium

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r i v e F ea tur e league. Comprehensively. That Audi

industrial area here in Kempton Park

R8 V10 I waxed lyrical about earlier in

the other day looking for my destina-

the issue – it couldn’t keep station with

tion, and I saw two – parked-up in the

this car. And it’s savage. Almost noth-

lots of clearly successful engineering

ing, short of dedicated race machinery


or the ultra-lightweights which aren’t really represented in our market, would.

That is not a supercar. I’m sorry, it just

And yet, I’ve just called it a sportscar,

isn’t, despite the kind of go that most

and not a supercar. What gives?

supercars would kill for.

It’s the price. I know it’s snobbery, but

One final detail, at Magaliesburg we

that price also relates to exclusivity. How

pulled up just after lunch outside the

many times do you think Lolly Jackson

Wimpy, the major teenage hangout of

spots another identical example on the

the little town it would seem. Only a

road when he’s driving his ‘Egg? Or his

couple of the lads, clearly with good car

Zonda? Right, practically zero.

knowledge, even turned to look. The R8 would’ve had them running along-

And yet, in just a quarter on sale locally,

side the road cheering.

Nissan say they’ll have delivered 100 GT-Rs by the end of December. And you


can see it too. I was driving through the

Drive Vitals

Nissan GT-R


3.8-litre twin turbo V6




588 Nm@3200-5200rpm


3.9 seconds

Top speed

310 km/h


R1 175 000

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009



ow. It seems that the recession isn’t affecting everyone all that badly. In these days of declining sales figures and the imminent threat of dealers doors being closed for the last time, quite a few of the new-car launches we’re attending these days are, well, let’s just say a little sparser than they were during boom times.

D r ive Fe a t ure

Not this Land Rover one however.

Waterfront in Cape Town, and the next

There were chartered helicopter flips,

morning the scene-setting was repeat-

over some of the most compelling

ed this time on boats, apparently the

scenery the country has to offer in fact,

fastest of their kind!

en-route to the first-day rendezvous with the new Discovery 4s, all designed

Now admittedly, all this pomp had been

to make us journos feel like playboys

arranged not for the introduction of just

or high-powered execs or something,

one new model to SA shores, but two!

basically just the type the company still

In fact this is the first time in the com-

focuses on making cars for. That night

pany’s history that it has released so

we were shacked-up in the sensational

many new or updated models in such a

One and Only hotel right by the V&A

short space of time! So yes, it is a big



D r i v e F ea tur e

deal. The cars? Well first-up we sam-

each portion of the two days. Care-

pled the all-new Discovery 4 lineup, the

fully crafted to highlight the impressive

latest-generation of this Imperious off-

strengths of these machines. But let’s

“It begins at the pumping station of the Berg Rivier Dam, where enormous water pumps are controlled from a board, as you’d expect, occupied by nothing more than an on/off key and 10” touchscreen.” roader with its impregnable reputation hot on its heels. And sav-

not get carried away and start at the beginning of this tale.

ing the best for last, the new icons, both TDV8 and

It begins at the pumping station of the

Supercharged petrol V8

Berg Rivier Dam, where enormous wa-

Range Rover Sports.

ter pumps are controlled from a board, as you’d expect, occupied by nothing

And to get the most mile-

more than an on/off key and 10” touch-

age from the two days,

screen. Sort of sets the tone for the

there are long and var-

high-tech Discos we’ve come here to

ied test-routes plotted for

drive. When the company moved from

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


“There’s a bit of light off-roading to begin with, and a couple of river-crossings which the Disco just breezes.”

D r ive Fe a t ure traditional manually-lockable offroad

without going into obsessive details,

hardware to the high-tech Terrain Re-

it has really worked. The new Disco

sponse Control system they use today

cabin is more modern, more functional,

there were tears from hardcore offroad

and even more upmarket than its plush

enthusiasts. Still, you have to keep

predecessors. After all the company is

pace with the way the world is moving,

no longer restrained to using old Ford

and the system certainly works, in pret-

switchgear, and is clearly enjoying its

ty much every situation.

newfound freedom, and the result is a cabin which is typically eclectic but

Speaking of keeping pace, although

positively wonderful for it.

from the exterior only some details have been revised over Disco 3, the interior

Naturally it’s specced to the gills as

has come in for a major reworking. And

well, even entry-level S variants, while



D r i v e F ea tur e moving up in the range to SE and then HSE you get even more premium elements, like even better leather seats (electrically-operated on all models), improved audio system


mon & Kardon 9-speaker is the starting point on the entry-level), and in the case of



sen HSE TDV6, enough


cameras to cover every exterior element of the car, fed to the screen perched in the centre of the console. Also useful for tight off-road


of course, these cameras literally see all your extremities! There’s also adaptive air suspension on all models and Bi-Xenon lights for inkier darkness in the middle of nowhere. The standard 19-inch alloys fill the beefy arches nicely, and

an even more distinctive front end, a

the new light treatment gives this car

quality it has truthfully never lacked!

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


There’s a bit of light off-roading to be-

monstrous 600Nm on tap from 2000

gin with, and a couple of river-crossings

rpm after all. There’s a 5.0-litre petrol

which the Disco just breezes. Then it’s

V8 available, but they weren’t at the

up and over the spine of the Midden-

launch. Still, the way this car just eats

berg to drop down into the glory of the

up the miles while sipping from its tank

Franschhoek Wine Estate, essentially

is impressive, and when we do venture

a rough gravel track. The Disco isn’t

onto lesser-travelled dirt roads the ride

even slightly daunted.

remains unflappable.

Once we’re back on the roads through

Then there’s a pretty serious off-road

and past Franschhoek and head-

track lined up for us. Unfortunately,

ing out towards Hermanus, the ride is

there’s been quite a lot of rain in the

very impressive and the 3.0-litre TDV6

area of late and there’s plenty of treach-

summons good shove. It does have a

erous mud making some of the “regular”

D r i v e F ea tur e obstacles just about impassable. Two of our convoy ends up getting quite se-

“We, eventually, manfully abandon our comrades in search of some food...” riously stuck in these treacherous puddles, but they’re the sort of thing that nothing short of an amphibious military machine would’ve made it out of, so not a reflection on any weakness of the cars. We, eventually, manfully abandon our comrades in search of some food, followed by the easy blat straight through to Cape Town itself, through mercifully light late rush-hour traffic, and the outright serenity of driving a Disco day in and day out starts to settle in. It is, basically, seven little thrones on wheels, capable of going anywhere, anytime, without any sacrifice or compromise.

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


“It definitely feels better in the sand though.�

D r ive Fe a t ure

Range Rover Sports

ment the plans have had to change,

But after a great night out with the

with rides heading out West and then

family, who’d been in Cape Town for a

back to the One and Only, where our

week already when I flew in yesterday, the day I’d been really




well, with viscious gale-force winds coming in off the whitecapped ocean! So bad in fact

“...the TDV8 Rangie Sport isn’t exactly fast, the company claiming 9.2 seconds to 100km/h...”

that the port authorities had given our

RR steeds would be waiting. I elect the

ridiculously fast boats a heads-up on

more measured extended morning-cof-

the scheduled trip, and at the last mo-

fee option rather, so come to our TDV8



D r i v e F ea tur e

model nice and sedate. It’s, well, rather a lot like an even fancier Disco inside. The exterior is decidedly more butch yes, again peppered with small detail changes to differentiate it to the in-the-know spotter. For some reason the new, black-backed badge which will adorn all Range Rovers in future really stands out, proud and well basically as loud as the upper-crust Landie marque will allow. Brilliant. Naturally, the V8 diesel is even stronger than the V6 we were in yesterday, and manages a remotely V8-like rumble under full throttle. This one delivers an eye-watering 640Nm, and 200kW. Still with nigh-on two-and-a-half tons to move the TDV8 Rangie Sport isn’t exactly fast, the company claiming 9.2 DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Fe a t ure seconds to 100km/h, and a top speed

on this beach-desert. The more chilled

just the right side of 200.

power delivery of the diesel seems better suited to the task at hand.

It definitely feels better in the sand though. On the Atlantis dunes V8 S/

Once back onto the road though, the

Cs seemed to get stuck at the drop

TDV8 feels a little, lacking. And it’s

of a hat, and this despite an all-new

actually the chassis doing it. This RR

“Sand” setting for the Terrain Response

Sport is pleasantly nimble for such an

system specifically put there because

enormous beast. And you see, all the

these cars have had this problem be-

other sporty hardware is exactly the

fore. But the monstrous 375kW of pow-

same, only the petrol choice changes.

er this new Jag-sourced 5.0-litre V8

So this TDV8 feels and rides like a car

just seemed too much for it, particularly

capable of 6.2-second dashes to 100,

on the road-oriented low-profile tyres,

like the S/C can.



D r i v e F ea tur e Finally, after some first-class “plaas

bly well. It feels big and comfortable,

lunch”, I get my backside into the one

confident in anything (bar sand, obvi-

car I was really keen on driving this

ously), supremely comfortable, and

“So much beefier than the last-generation model, it propels this 2.5-ton beast down any road with unfussed alacrity.” launch, the RR Sports V8 S/C. And was

then adds barrel-chested shove com-

it worth the wait?

plete with tuneful V8 hammering and a miraculous chassis with deeply talented

Well, it’s really good on the road, this


car. A bit like yesterday’s Disco, it just covers every possible base impossi-

There are others in this league that go quicker and accelerate harder, probably even corner better although the RR Sport actually manages to excel through the twisties, but none no not even the 911 on stilts actually pull it all together quite so elegantly as this car. It really is a World Champion boxer in a particularly fine cut of a suit. The new 5.0-litre SC engine is just superb on the open road. So much beefier than the last-generation model, it propels this 2.5-ton beast down any road with unfussed alacrity. You do have to watch the speedo a bit as the chassis is competent but it’s hardly a groundhugging sportscar now is it? Yet despite the obvious bulk of the monster its almost miraulously controlled even when

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Fe a t ure taken to the extreme. But this handling

really prefer it this way, and the Discos

doesn’t come at the expense of the ride

do look rather expensive next to the

thanks to the always-active chassis and

competition. But the RR Sports don’t

suspension control systems.

cost anywhere near what the self-proclaimed leaders in this odd segment do,

And you really have to adore that un-

I’m talking of Cayenne Turbos and Q7

derstated look, leaving it to the big al-

V12 TDIs of course. And for that outlay

loys alone to telegraph its dynamic in-

you get a lovely engine (in the V8 SC


particularly), a shockingly gifted chassis, a quirky but always-classy interior,

Sure it’s quite a lot of money to pay, but

and looks which may as well be classed

in this class it doesn’t really look like

as the definition of Automotive Status.

bad value considering the strength of the brand, and the quirky but delight-


ful nature of the car itself. Land Rover


Drive Vitals

Range Rover Sports V8 SC


5.0-litre supercharged V8




625 Nm@1800-4000rpm


6.2 seconds

Top speed

225 km/h


R961 000

Drive Vitals

Range Rover Sports TDV8


3.6-litre turbodiesel


D r i v e F ea tur e




640 Nm@2000rpm


9.2 seconds

Top speed

209 km/h


R934 500

Drive Vitals

Land Rover Discovery 4 TDV6


3.0-litre turbodiesel




600 Nm@2000rpm


9.6 seconds

Top speed

180 km/h


R595 000 S R645 000 SE R725 000 HSE

Drive Vitals

Land Rover Discovery 4 V8


5.0-litre petrol V8




510 Nm@3500rpm


7.9 seconds

Top speed

195 km/h


R720 000 HSE

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009



he journalists assembled for the launch of the new Tata Indica Vista were rather confused at one point in the launch presentation. Exactly what the Indica Vista was was the point of concern. Is it a replacement for the regular Indica? Is it a whole new model range? What exactly is the deal?

D r ive Fe a t ure

So it turns out that the Vista is the new,

with satellite controls on the steer-



ing wheel. It’s got electric mirrors and

sion of the cheap and cheerful Indica,

windows. There’s power steering and

one of few vehicles still available for

aircon as standard. All the bodywork

under R100K today. Except that there

is colour-coded, and perhaps most im-

are three models in the Vista lineup it-

portantly it not only has ABS but driver

self, and only the range-topping one of

and passenger airbags in the front.


them, the IGNIS, actually adds anything to the bare-basic Indica range.

The enormous Indian manufacturer has even breathed on the 1.4-litre Safire

We only got to drive the mid-range, the

engine a bit, unleashing an additional

AURA, at the launch, although an IG-

10 kW for a maximum output of 65 kW,

NIS was on display at the classy base

and another 2 Nm giving a total of 116.

camp, reflecting gloriously (wait, may-

Looks a bit sportier from the outside as

be, eye-catchingly) off the horizon type

well, show to match the go, as it were,

water feature. This model is packed to

although the bling alloys on these cars

the gills. It has a 2 DIN, USB and Blue-

are an option.

tooth-ready audio system, complete 68


D r i v e F ea tur e Our AURA versions have the regular Safire lump, so they make 55 kW and 114Nm, and cost R130K. It still seems quite high as this one sees the tastier specs disappear – no ABS, airbags, techie audio system, or even rortier motor. It keeps the power windows, AC, and sportier colour-coded look though. When we climb in, it’s also clear that all of the dimensions of the Vista are larger than the regular Indica, so there’s quite a bit of cabin space in here. In fact the Indian officials who are out here for this launch are very interested to find out how comfortable I am, being something But, it is expensive, for an Indica, at

of a big bugger. Turns out the answer is

R140K. That safety comes at a price,

very. It’s pretty spacious in fact, in part

we suppose.

thanks to the height-adjustable seat

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Fe a t ure

and steering column. So we head off on

German quality, and the lack of airbags

our drive.

is a little concerning at full speed, in the region of 160km/h, down some back

And find a little motorcar which is really

roads. But the car beneath you feels

not so bad to drive. It may put out very

quite faithful, and not like it’s about to

little power but because it weighs just

separate into components or anything.

over 1000kgs it isn’t uselessly immo-

It’s even fairly zippy thanks to that light

bile either. It gets pushed about quite


a lot by wind and definitely suffers a little from the somewhat jostly ride you’ll

It’s just that look-only IGNIS, in fact,

always have with lightweight, circa

which does bring up some build-quality

1000kg cars, but its competent overall.

concerns. You can see the bonnet-gap

Of course the materials inside aren’t

inconsistencies a veritable mile away!



D r i v e F ea tur e There




random gremlins, infecting the fleet of demonstrators as well it seemed. Chiefly, differences in tacho redline experiences (a few of us appeared to have a tacho from the planned diesel model installed). It is good that they have those active safety options available now. Parents buying first cars for young daughters and sons like to see that sort of stuff, given the dangerous situations that develop daily on our roads. It’s a shame the company saw fit to limit it to just the one, priciest model yes, but at least it is there, if you want it. It’s definitely also comfier for larger occupants, maybe even with a child or two Hopefully a rare Monday sample, and the reason it couldn’t actually join our convoy today. Inside the more upmarket seat upholstery and flashy radio manage to lift the interior tone, but will it be enough to take on the funkiness leaders in this class? Not being an outright expert in funk measurement I’m not sure, although still-tightening budgets may drive customers to their doors. Although that’ll usually be for a sub-

at the back. And a torquey little 1300 diesel motor will also soon be added to the range. But the hyperactive “Changes everything” tagline is a touch optimistic. In fact, the car changes very little at all. It may be a sound budget buy or first car, but it’s hardly class redefining.


100K Indica.

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Column


ne of those bedrock components, an absolute lynchpin of motoring pleasure and a de facto standard feature of the modern automobile, is drawing it’s last breaths as we speak. The three-pedalled, manual H-pattern gearbox. Out like Sir Elton John. That very bastion of driving passion, excitement, and otherworldy performance Ferrari confirmed as much at the recent Frankfurt show, where it was naturally highlighting the gorgeous new 458 Italia. No manual ‘box will be made or offered on this model, period the dual-clutcher is the choice of the nextgeneration of petrolheads, apparently. Which adds one rather important name to the growing list of companies producing DSG-only sports models. The rampant GT-R from Nissan is, of course, 72

exclusively a double-clutch affair, the whole car having been designed around this bulky solution, and of course the current fastest top-speed in the world belongs to the DSG-equipped Bugatti. And even if they aren’t exclusive, just about every manufacturer has one in their high-performance range now and is seeing a strong uptake of the flappypaddle systems BMWs M3 has one, called DCT, Mitsubishis Lancer Evo (Still not in SA... why?) uses a setup called SST, and then naturally there are the DSG/R-Tronic twins in the VAG stable. They certainly do have their appeal, I’ll give them that. The seamless, neverending lunge towards the horizon in the big Nissan would undoubtedly be slower and a touch less surreal with distinct pauses on the action as the next cog is selected and engaged. And we DRIVE M AGAZINE DECEM BER 2009

D r i v e C ol um n

saw this pure performance effect first-

around. The big red beast, usually

hand recently when we tried to keep

cruising since it turns out that’s all it’s

up to a Mk6 GTI DSG with a 6-speed

really great at, pulled the gazes of a

manual Cooper S JCW. The two cars

huge heap of ladies. Mostly those lean-

are so closely matched in performance

ing into middle age, in fact.

terms that I could feel, following in the MINI, the Veedub gaining a metre or

But it wasn’t with desire or even partic-

so with each shift before the two cars

ular interest that they looked at us ped-

settled into their stations once again.

alling along. No, usually it was in bla-

It would’ve made all the difference in a

tant, slack-jawed and wide-eyed horror!

proper timed drag away from the Christ-

Even in eco-unconscious SA there are

mas tree.

plenty of people from the green fringe I suppose, and when they clocked our

This month I’ve been struck on a couple

ostentatious 6.0-litre gas-guzzler they

of occasions by how differently people

looked absolutely shocked that a cou-

can perceive the same car. How differ-

ple of male jerks could have the gall to

ent backgrounds, outlooks, life expe-

actually drive around, in public, in what

riences and even our social positions

is basically an obvious planet-killer of

can and constantly do affect the way in


which we see the real, the physical, the

Of course there were those who could

simple fact of an object’s being.

appreciate the Ute better too, but sidelong glances of respect, admiration, and

It began when we had the Lumina DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009

even envy don’t quite stick in your mind 73

D r ive Column as much as a facial expression which

only read all about why we felt this way

simply shouts “Vulgar, selfish pigs!”

next month, when the new 3 MPS takes

without saying to much as a word.

on some stiff competition, in the new MINI Cooper S JCW, and VWs iconic

They’re right, of course, in a way. Pay-

Mk6 incarnation of the GTi.

ing that price in fuel bills for that little outright performance isn’t sensible at

And finally, the R8 V10. Nothing and no-

all. But is it really necessary to react as

body was spared this ruthlessly sculpt-

if we’ve just retracted the cooling rods

ed assault on our artistic senses. Guys

but manually cranked output around to

gawped at the richly layered V10 and

160% at Koeberg? We weren’t actual-

over-300km/h potential of the thing, la-

ly, actively punching baby penguins in

dies by what really should be consid-

their little beaked faces or anything.

ered the shape of supercar modernity, and every one rich, poor, young and

Then the new Mazda 3 MPS arrived,

old – and yes even those same stern

a car which split our office down the

greenies who hated the Lumina – were

middle with polar opposite opinions.

just sucked in by the obvious passion

The sort of discussions which cannot

of the thing.

be brought to a compromise, where no middle-ground exists. And the dividing

Which leads us to conclude that the

line appeared to be pure gender. The

most beautiful car in the world is, like

ladies adored this thing, the handsome

any question of beauty, an entirely per-

new face and tricksy red “flip” paint-

sonal decision. You either “get” a look,

job gaining it the accolades “cutie” and

a shape, or you don’t. Which is why so

“baby”. They instantly thought it should

many motoring manufacturers survive

take the podium in any group test it

after all – everyone has different tastes,

might take place in.

needs, and wants in their cars. And you

The guys had to disagree though. While

fall for those cars that provide just the

we were similarly enamoured of her

right mix of these elements which, in

looks, her underlying engineering was

your uniqueness as a perfect, most

our problem, and we couldn’t get past


this knowledge to enjoy the handsome exterior once again. I’m afraid you can 74


D r ive Column


e live in what can only be described as a lawless society. One of the biggest gripes amongst road users is the fact that people don’t stop at red traffic lights anymore. Sure the fact that the traffic police would rather spend their time sitting behind a camera instead of policing is a factor but it goes much deeper than that.

too many sets of lights. I have seen working traffic lights at a junction where the joining road is behind a locked gate. This is one of the few occasions where the traffic police sit and book motorists for not stopping at these completely pointless lights. Metro police always seem to be available when there’s easy money to be made. There appear to be traffic lights literally at every street corner in urban areas, with the possi-

It is not uncommon to be at a set of

ble exception of where they are really

lights and even after the lights in your


direction have gone green, you still have to wait for 2 cars in the other direction.

The second problem is that the lights

It is without doubt annoying and often

are phased so poorly that once you

leads to a serious accident. It is easy to

have stopped, you sit for ages while

get on a soapbox and call for harsher

the lights go through their 3 or 4 phas-

penalties for red light ignorance but to

es. The lights are sequenced for the

solve the problem we need to assess

morning and evening rush but the se-

why people act the way they do.

quence doesn’t change at other times of the day. As a result you often sit at

The first problem is that there are just 76

the lights waiting for nothing at all. DRIVE M AGAZINE DECEM BER 2009

D r i v e C ol um n

So now let us look at the human fac-

it is and if we look at, for example avia-

tor. As one drives around on their daily

tion, human nature is the basis for de-

business, usually running late because

signing systems and procedures.

of the miserable traffic situation, every time you get going, the lights change

The answer is of course to use rounda-

against you and you have to anchor on

bouts particularly on high-speed roads

and stop. Get going again and within a

like dual carriageways. Here in South

very short distance, the same happens

Africa we don’t seem to be able to un-

again. Each time having to sit for what

derstand roundabouts but then surely

seems like an age.

driver training is what is seriously lacking.

By the time you get to the umpteenth set of lights, stressed about being

On the other hand perhaps if we had

even later, as the lights change to or-

competent traffic engineers, the lights

ange you think, “I have had enough of

could be sequenced correctly and the

all this stopping”, and zoom through.

traffic would flow. After that, we could

Even when you are not particularly

get our traffic police away from their

late, some sets of lights take so long to

revenue generating cameras and po-

go through the sequence that if you get

lice situations that are genuinely dan-

there as it goes orange, you just keep

gerous. I’m not holding my breath.

going knowing that if you do stop you are going to be there for all eternity. It’s


wrong I know but human nature is what DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009



ale PMS is not something you hear discussed every day, but that doesn’t mean that the phenomenon doesn’t exist. It’s not cyclical and has nothing to do with the moon, and while for some men it’s a state that never really comes into play, for others, it’s whats life is about. Power. Money. Sex. Add some wheels to it, and you’ll get the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG, a car designed with four key criteria: exclusivity, dynamism, effortless superiority and high tech.

D r ive Te st Since the introduction of the first Mer-

370Nm more torque and costs half a

cedes-Benz S-class in 1954, it’s been

million Rand more. But that’s a whole

considered the quintessential luxury

different story.

car; a surefire way to announce to the world that you have in fact arrived.

The latest S-class benefits from a

Looking at our country’s monthly ve-

number of enhancements but in es-

“Power. Money. Sex. Add some wheels to it, and you’ll get the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG...” hicle sales, it’s also evident that more

sence remains a face-lifted model. The

and more people are in fact arriving:

S63 AMG now sports a new, more pro-

Mercedes-Benz manages to shift an average of 25 S-classes every month. Also take into consideration that South Africa is one of AMG’s five largest markets globally and that 8 000 of these AMG S-classes have found a home since the latest design hit the roads three years ago, making it the undisputed market leader in the small yet highly-exclusive high-performance luxury saloon segment. Thanks to my still inexplicable penchant for gargantuan vehicles, even I have fallen prey to the S-class’s charms, and especially so in AMG trim. Mind you, the S63 AMG we tested is not the top model in the range – there’s also an S65 AMG that has 64kW more power, 80


Dr i v e T e s t nounced arrow-shaped radiator grille

of a double “C” also give the S-Class

with a new front apron that incorpo-

an unmistakable appearance from be-


striking AMG-

“While it’s certainly striking, 52 driving lights and two LEDs may just be a tad transverse air outlets excessive and – dare I say – on each side. Further tacky” striking features inspecific LED daytime

clude the “6.3 AMG” lettering on the

hind. While it’s certainly striking, 52

front wings and redesigned exterior

LEDs may just be a tad excessive and


– dare I say – tacky. LED overkill, as a close friend described it. I do however

New tail lights with 52 LEDs in the form

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009

love the AMG sports exhaust with its


D r ive Te st

two chromed twin tailpipes and the 19-

pear every bit as exclusive as the high-

inch AMG multi-spoke wheels painted

tech package the exterior promises,

titanium grey with a high-sheen finish.

especially behind the wheel. The cars

Especially on our Flint Gray test model,

extensive range of standard equipment

the car looked elegantly purposeful.

includes PASSION leather appointments with natural leather in the seat

The S63 AMG’s interior furnishings ap82

side bolsters as well as AMG sports DRIVE M AGAZINE DECEM BER 2009

Dr i v e T e s t seats with climate control, massage,

the rear passenger space disappointed

multi-contour and dynamic handling

slightly though, even with the seats as

function at the front.

far back as possible – and neither the front or rear passengers were anything

Ample use of trim elements abound,

close to Russell’s 7-foot frame.

which in our test model


ed olde worlde wood trim and the









While both these

“These niggles fade into obscurity though once you turn the key fob and the V8 grumble envelops you like the waft of a Cuban cigar.”

features are in-

These niggles fade into obscurity though once you turn the key fob and the V8 grumble envelops


like the waft of a Cuban cigar.

tended to add to the luxurious ambi-

Fitted with a high-revving 386kW AMG

ance of the cabin, neither really tick-

6.3-litre V8 naturally aspirated engine,

led my fancy: replacing the wood with

it develops 630 Nm of torque and is ca-

a brushed aluminium and moving the

pable of accelerating the S-class to 100

analogue clock to a digital position on

km/h in 4.6 seconds. The acceleration

the main display would’ve been much

is a feeling that’s utterly indescribable,

better, especially since it detracts too

really, especially because the S63 is a

much attention trying to tell the time on

consummate cruiser most of the time.

the small analogue device.

Taking off in a Boeing comes close though, but sadly the AMG is limited to

Our test model also sported optional

only 250km/h.

luxury rear seats (R8 200), an optional Harman Kardon Logic 7 Surround Sound

Getting there happens by means of the

rear passenger entertainment system


(R10 000) and an optional refrigerator

box with DIRECT SELECT gearshift

built into the mammoth boot (R12 000),

through AMG aluminium shift paddles

accessible through an opening between

on the new AMG sports steering wheel.

the two rear seats. On a 300km road trip

While making gearshifts even quicker,

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Te st the paddles are positioned too close

The driving experience is further height-

to the steering wheel and I often found

ened thanks to the Direct-Steer system

myself clutching them when not making

that, with its variable ratio depending on

use of the DIRECT SELECT function.

steering angle, helps to ensure a more

Fuel consumption and carbon emis-

direct response when cornering, and

sions have been reduced by 3%.

therefore more responsive handling.

Keeping all that manic power in check

Based on the ADAPTIVE BRAKE sys-

are a number of superbly advanced

tem, the AMG high-performance brak-

driver aids. The S63 AMG rides on

ing system continues to provide opti-

an AMG sports suspension with Active Body Control (ABC) that provides crosswind stabilisation as standard equipment for the first time, effectively compensating for and, in the case of strong gusts, reducing the influence of crosswinds to a minimum by adjusting the wheel load distribution within milliseconds, using the yaw-rate and lateral acceleration sensors of the Electronic Stability Program (ESP). Also making up the standard equipment on the S63 AMG is the new Torque Vectoring Brake, an additional feature of the ESP. When cornering, brief direct application of the brakes has an effect on the vehicle’s inner rear wheel so that the car corners precisely and under control at all times, noticeably improving responsiveness but also active handling safety in critical conditions.



Dr i v e T e s t mum fade resistance, deceleration and

You can literally be as safe as a house

sensitivity. The front axle features a

in the S63 AMG – should you tick the

double floating brake caliper that com-

options list – as unrivalled combinations

bines the advantages of a sliding-cal-

of innovative camera and radar-based

liper disc brake (reduced heat transfer

driver assistance systems are available.

to the brake fluid and clear advantages

These include the ATTENTION ASSIST

in terms of comfort thanks to the brake

drowsiness detection system, Adaptive

lining guide mechanism) with the effi-

Highbeam Assist, Lane Keeping Assist

ciency of an extra large fixed calliper

and the PRE-SAFE Brakes which are


linked to the proximity regulating ra-

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Te st dar and intervene independently in the

complement of available features at a

event of an impending accident to act

measly R23 000 extra.

like an invisible crumple zone. Night View Assist Plus with infrared camera

Spending R1.5 million on a car is some-

also features a novel pedestrian detec-

thing a precious few of us can do on

tion system.

a regular basis, if ever. If you’ve come this far, it’s undeniable that you’ve got

The Brake Assist PLUS and DISTRON-

Money and the Mercedes-Benz S63

IC PLUS proximity control support the

AMG nonchalantly adds the Power

driver in the event of emergency brak-

and the Sex to the equation. I certainly

ing. The PRE-SAFE positioning func-

don’t have that kind of money, but the

tions and NECK-PRO luxury head re-

S63 AMG is undoubtedly the automo-

straints in the front make up the full

tive epitome of male PMS.



Dr i v e T e s t The styling is aggressive to the point of

It is however a car I genuinely – desper-

being subtly sexy. The lines are classi-

ately – wanted to love, and when you

“It is however a car I genuinely – desperately – wanted to love, and when you love something that much, the subtle flaws transform into acceptable quirks.” cally stylish with just enough LEDs front

love something that much, the subtle

and rear to keep the general look from

flaws transform into acceptable quirks.

being trashy. The speed is blistering at

As its bright LED taillights disappeared

full throttle and the handling exhilarat-

around the corner, leaving me power-

ingly precise, but equally suave and

less, broke and undersexed, I involun-

sophisticated when simply cruising. It’s

tarily found myself humming that clas-

luxurious and elegant inside with eve-

sic Joni Mitchell song. Oh Lord, won’t

rything you can possibly need. It is in-

you buy me a Mercedes-Benz…

deed Sonderklasse.

Christo But, importantly, it’s not perfect.

Drive Vitals

Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG


6.2-litre petrol V8




630 Nm@5200rpm


4.6 seconds

Top speed

250 km/h (very limited)


R1 590 000

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009



lfa Romeo as a brand can hardly be classed as a volume seller in South Africa. An Alfa has always been seen as a car that you buy with your heart not your head. Alfa is the defacto Italian car that puts style ahead of practicality, driving experience ahead of outright performance figures.

D r ive Te st The MiTo is no exception in terms of

crossed over into the love-it camp. Tak-

styling - love it or hate it, you have to

ing its styling cues from the 8C Com-

admit that it has character. You certain-

petizione, the MiTo doesn’t have the

ly won’t be driving through a city with-

instant family feel of its larger siblings.

out being noticed. So many cars these

Nevertheless, it is still very obviously

days look as though they were carved

an Alfa.

from a cube of butter and the butter has started to melt so that you can’t tell one

Facts n Figures

from another. Not so with the MiTo.

For the asking price you get a car that


is certainly not light on equipment but neither is it what you would call fully

Styling divides opinion, there are those

loaded. Have a look at the options list

that love the MiTo and those that hate

though. Once specced up, the MiTo is

it. There are very few fence sitters al-

much better value than the base mod-

though several initial doubters have

el. Spec up a german hatch and you’ll



Dr i v e T e s t

spend months convalescing from open

the years. The performance isn’t mind

wallet surgery. Not so with the MiTo,

blowing but it does feel spritely and

add some extras like Bluetooth, climate

the turbo ensures solid torque right

control, auto lights and Bose sound and

through the rev range. Turbo engines

the list price goes up to just R265000.

suffer from that old phenomenan, tur-

Compared with say a 1.4 TSI Golf it

bo lag. The MiTo does of course have

starts to look like a bargain.

the same problem but it manages the


lag well and it is hardly noticable on the daily commute. Racing starts away

The MiTo uses the 1.4 turbo mill bor-

from the lights are really the only time

rowed from Fiat. An engine that has

that it bogs down a little.

been around since the old Uno Turbo but obviously significantly refined over DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009

Most surprising for a small car is the 91

D r ive Te st

ride which is exceptional. The car cruis-

Normal or All Weather. Dynamic mode

es along without a hint of road or wind

stiffens up the susspension and the

noise. Our test car had no rattles and

steering response whilst remapping the

really gave you the impression of sit-

engine management for performance

ting in an expensive car. Clearly recruit-

driving. In Dynamic mode the throttle

ing a quality control expert from BMW

response is quicker but the steering

is starting to pay dividends.

can get a little unsettled by rough road surfaces. The throttle response is a bit

Uncommon for a car in this class is

too urgent when you are stuck in traffic

the Alfa D.N.A system, which changes

but then you can just switch it back to

the dynamics of the car at the flick of a

Normal – even on the move. Dynamic

switch. D.N.A is really just an abbrevia-

does really come into it’s own on roads

tion of the modes available, Dynamic,

like mountain passes though.



Dr i v e T e s t

saying that they want one, particularly the younger generation. The MiTo is certainly the king of cool compared with it’s rivals and is without doubt the car to be seen in on a University Campus. Small Alfas have always been appealing particularly to the wannabe Ferrari drivers - and there are a lot of them.

Economy Italians have never really been too concerned about fuel consumption, and they pay more for petrol than just about any other nation. The old theory was that you can extract extra power from a small engine by allowing it to drink fuel. Nevertheless, the MiTo is not too thirsty, returing an average of 8 litres per 100 kilmeters. Even in lead foot mode it stayed under the 10 l/100km Normal mode works well for day-to-day

mark. The tank does unfortunately hold

driving. You don’t lose any power, it’s

a mere 45 litres so you will be visiting

just that throttle response is a bit more

the pumps fairly regularly.

lazy. The suspension and steering are far more suited to a comfortable ride.

Emotional value

The All Weather mode doesn’t seem to

As I mentioned earlier, an Alfa is gen-

feel any different from the Normal mode

erally a purchase made with the heart.

and since it didn’t rain much while we

You really need to appreciate the Ital-

had the car, we simply ignored it.

ian design philosophy. There are very few Alfa owners that bought their cars


because it just looked like the reasona-

The MiTo is desirable, make no mistake.

ble car. Alfa owners tend to be passion-

It amazes me how many people keep

ate about the brand and are often seen

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Te st



Dr i v e T e s t wearing branded jackets and caps. I

colour coded to the exterior. You just

remember someone asking me if he

don’t get that on run of the mill small

should buy an Alfa, influenced by my

cars. The little MiTo makes you feel

enthuisiasm. I told him to ask himself a

special every time you slide into the

couple of questions. “Do you ever walk

driver’s seat. Interestingly enough, I

away after parking your car and then

loaded four adults into the car and the

stop, turn round just to have another

back seat passengers commented on

look at it?” “Do you ever go home the

how much legroom and headroom they

long way just to spend more time driv-

had. The MiTo does have a Tardis like

ing, preferably on a twisty road?” If the


answer is no, an Alfa may not be the car for you.

Conclude The MiTo is not only cool and fun to

Interior ambience

drive but it seems that Alfa have ad-

Sitting in a MiTo is a pleasant experi-

dressed their build quality issues of old.

ence even when you are not actually

Now here is an Alfa that you can buy

moving. The dual-clock instrument bin-

with your head as well as your heart.

nacle harks back to the old Alfasud. The carbon fibre effect dash is actually


Drive Vitals

Vehicle Name


In line 4 cylinder








230 Nm

Kerb weight

1145 kg

Driven wheels



8 Seconds


R 245 200

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Te st


h the little MiTo. Had a lot to try and live up to.

when you start driving hard, things like that. Sort of made the lovely raspy engine note, velvety but alert ride and old-

Thing is, the latest crop

school classy cabins a bit pointless to

of Alfas, and I’m still fairly

me, although my old publisher who is

young so I’ve only really driven stuff

let’s say less hardcore than I admitted

from the 147, even a couple of 155s

a few weeks ago, the Brera was one

type of era. Had a whole string of Q4 3.2

of his favourites of his association with

models – Brera, Spider, 159. All dread-

Drive magazine.

ful cars suffering identical catastrophic foibles. Five-seven rev-limiter in first,

So the MiTo has quite a lot of heritage,

safety electronics that all run and hide

passion, and raw expectation to make



Dr i v e T e s t up for then.

cleared from the throaty exhaust. The headlights are atroscious. And under

At first it wasn’t doing it. The

severe duress the Q2 differential does

base-spec isn’t exactly over-

sound like it’s about to come off. But it

flowing with goodies for the


price, although the be fair a generously-specced


And it gives you such a plucky drive eve-

ple wouldn’t actually cost that

ry time... All right in the Normal mode

much more (circa R40K ful-

the steering was way too light and the

ly-equipped), so that’s nice.

throttle not sharp enough, but just use

But at first its looks gave me

the lovely ally selector by your knee

no more shivers than the lat-

to go up into Dynamic mode and you

est Fiesta, and that’s bad.

get meatier steering, tauter responses (sometimes a touch too taut), a more

It’s a bit of a grower though,

positive throttle response and even a

the MiTo. After my allotted

thick wodge of bonus torque. For a to-

three days in it, before faith-

tal of 230Nm. From a 1.4.

fully turning it over to genuine, lo0ng-term Alfisti Steve,

It’s brilliant. Who needs clever but ex-

I didn’t want to give it back.

pensive twincharging when you can

The good stuff I found:

achieve this much with “just” a turbo?

It didn’t break, even trawling the backstreets of JHB after dark behind the over-portly rump of the 308CC, everything remained working. Even when, gasp, driven rather enthusiastically it all hung together. But it wasn’t boring and characterless either. After a hard thrash the night before for instance, the cockpit did fill with the heady brew of unburnt petrol being DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009

And once you’ve connected with the MiTo, it starts to look sensational. And nothing like other cars in its class. Even at R241 000 (plus R1800 for paint, apparently optional), it’s worth it. And it’s a new, modern car which actually delivers that Alfa magic motoring wordsmiths spin of the days of yore while bowing to the environmentalist leanings as much as is necessary. 97

D r ive Te st



Dr i v e T e s t


hen we asked Honda for their biggestengined, most grunty, lairiest Civic available, we were a little confused when the 2.2 CTDi arrived at our Kempton office...

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Te st Unfortunately they don’t have Type

– 340 versus 174. And let’s not forget

Rs, or even Championship Whites

the affect of the turbo at our operating

available in the press fleet this long

altitude here on the Highveld!

after the launch of the model, and a quick browse through the specs of our

Both models will run to a claimed top

oil-burning model revealed that, in-

speed of 205km/h though, and the

deed, this is the pokiest of the selec-

CTDi is quicker in the sprint to 100, al-

tion. All right, claimed maximum power

beit barely according to the manufac-

is identical to that of the next one down,

turer’s sea-level claims – 8.6 compared

the 1.8-litre petrol, at 103kW, but the

to 8.9 seconds. But of course, there is

torque of course is just about doubled

the fuel economy, right? The high-tech



Dr i v e T e s t 1.8-litre petrol four is itself impressive-

to summon impressive shove without

ly frugal, Honda claiming 6.7 l/100km,

registering at all on an emotional scale.

but the diesel blasts this out of the wa-

It is in fact a rough-sounding diesel

ter with an amazing 5.3 for the same combined cycle, depite 400 ccs more cubic capacity and a great big blower! On real roads, this


“...a quick browse through the specs of our oil-burning model revealed that, indeed, this is the pokiest of the selection.”


differential doesn’t really

engine despite plenty of clever Honda

hold up. Yes, the CTDi is

modernity under the hood – it clatters

astonishingly light, but call

and wheezes and runs out of puff long

on all 340Nm, the turbo

before the red line. In fact the delivery

blowing hard to produce

is peculiar. There’s nothing below 2000

this twist, and that figure

rpm, then suddenly all that twist arrives

rapidly worsens. While the

in a massive swell, then goes away

nat-asp petrol we group-

again at about four thou on the dial.

tested against Cruze and Mazda this month didn’t

What surprised us the most however

really seem to care where

was the interior. Honda has a reputa-

our throttle foot was posi-

tion in the industry, for superb build

tioned. In the end we were

quality at a reasonable price. But our



high-mileage diesel example contra-

with liberal application of

dicts this perception thanks to creaks,

the right foot, while “our”

squeaks and rattles from the dashboard

petrol example was peak-

that a far cheaper car could wipe away

ing at 8.6.

as “character”. But the Civic is butting


against the R280 000 mark. Even the The diesel is undeniably quicker though.

plastic outcropping which the gearlever

And yet, as is normal with cars pow-

is mounted to regularly moves about

ered by this fuel alternative, manages

– and the resultant plastic on plastic

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Te st keeps dust off it, is shocking when there’s any sun filtering into the cabin, your




irrelevant. Bar the speedo of course, which is mounted on the second tier further up the dash, and the Economy LEDs surrounding scraping where this addendum meets

the speedo.

the fascia itself is particularly disconcerting.

The diesel model is pretty comfortable nonetheless, if quite tight for larger

While we’re on the interior, the space-

drivers. Being pretty much the range-

age layout has had plenty of time

topper in price, it includes all the mod-

“While we’re on the interior, the space-age layout has had plenty of time to grow on us now. But it hasn’t.” to grow on us now. But it hasn’t. It’s

cons Honda has available for the car.

passed right through from “New, inter-

So the seats are in leather as stand-

esting, but peculiar” straight to “Aging,

ard, there’s climate control, electric

dated, and still peculiar” without ever

windows and mirrors, heated seats (al-

going through “Actually working pretty

ways pleasant), and Honda’s acclaimed

well once you’re accustomed to it”.

6-speed manual ‘box.

That dual-level dashboard, especially

However the heavier-than-normal en-

the raked clear plastic screen which

gine out front doesn’t do the dynam-



Dr i v e T e s t ics any favour, especially at the front

petrol model was very difficult to get

of course, which is already quite keen

above 8 l/100km. It’s also just as well

to understeer even with smaller, lighter

specced, so basically you’re paying

petrol engines out front. In the diesel

the premium here for the perception of

it ploughs-on even sooner if you have entered a corner slightly

“Trust us. Don’t do it.”

too hot.

enhanced eco-credentials, but it’s just that – a perception. So the only reason

Of course drive within its limits and it’s

to go this way is if you must have that

quite competent. But the combination

lowest possible 0-100km/h time without

of the safety-spec chassis, dull engine

stretching all the way to a Type R.

note and flat torque curve beyond 2000 rpm create a vehicle which is terminally

Trust us. Don’t do it. A Type R is not

dull to drive. At least the revvy 1.8-litre

that much more expensive, and if it’s

petrol has some aural fire in its belly,

performance you want, it’s the model

even if Honda claims put it 0.3 seconds

you must buy. Otherwise stick to the

slower than this car. Of course, here at

petrol, it’s marginally sharper dynam-

altitude, the gap is much larger, and the

ics and even more frugal consumption

diesel would run away from the petrol

make the extra money impossible to

in a drag race.


Surprisingly though it wouldn’t really


be any more economical – the i-VTEC

Drive Vitals

Honda Civic 2.2 i-CTDi


2.2-litre turbodiesel




340 Nm@2000rpm


8.6 seconds

Top speed

205 km/h


R289 900

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009



he upgraded Toyota Prius is not a car normally associated with passion, at least not of the motoring kind. If you’re passionate about saving the ice shelf, polar bears or rain forests, then one would expect the environmentally friendly Prius to stir up emotions. But I was surprised at the depth of feeling, purely on a motoring level, that the Prius provoked when I brought it home. It almost caused a fist-fight in the driveway.

D r ive Te st As it happened we had a lot of rela-

We saw before our eyes how the Prius

tives visiting at the time. One of them,

touched a heart that, until then, had

admittedly a Toyota Hilux fan but oth-

hardly seemed to notice cars except as

erwise almost completely uninterested

a means of getting from one place to

in motoring matters, couldn’t get over


the Prius. He was in ecstasy over what he saw as its long sleek aerodynamic

An equally enthusiastic relative entered

lines, the supernaturally silent engine,

the discussion, but from the opposite

clever hybrid technology mating elec-

direction. The car, she said, could not

tric and petrol power, the spacious in-

be more hideous, adding that it looked

terior including the huge boot ‌ what

like a Ford Focus that had been dipped

could be more perfect?

in the ugly bath, or words to that effect.



Dr i v e T e s t

The styling, she added, was just plain

tio and offering them cups of tea “met

nasty, and the feel of the Prius – the

eish” or other soothing substances.

thinly metalled doors, for instance - fell squarely into the cheap sector.

There was one particularly interesting difference. Two of the people on op-

Someone else scoffed at the Prius’ fuel

posite ends of the schism were young

economy and green credentials, saying

women, both intelligent and articulate.

that small diesels could do as well in

One could hardly bring herself to look

“We saw before our eyes how the Prius touched a heart...” terms of litres per 100km while other

at the Prius. The interesting thing is

alternate-energy vehicles were friend-

that she had previously been exposed

lier to the environment.

to a lot of expensive, beautiful vehicles, through links to the motor industry.

Factions were soon formed and comments flew thick and fast. We had to

The other specially asked to come along

calm matters by ushering people to

for a ride to the shops, so fascinated

separate sections of the backyard pa-

was she by Toyota’s green meanie.

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Te st Her own exposure to fancy cars was more limited – by her own admission she had never sat in a new car before. So



maybe, a lot of the anti-Prius sentiment comes simply from petrol-head


nados of what we at Drive would call real cars. In other words, they simply don’t like even the idea of a vehicle so focused on saving fuel and the environment that it is prepared to give up the things that

It did not take too long before these re-

stir drivers’ souls – rip-roaring perform-

strictions were removed and South Af-

ance, sexy lines and raucous exhaust

ricans were able to buy a Prius. Sure,


they show no signs of following the trend in California and becoming big sellers.

After all that, what do I think of the car? I

Conditions here are not the same –

must admit to liking the first Priuses when

there is not yet any tax incentive, or the

they came to South Africa a few years

sort of easier inner-city access for hy-

ago. At that time they were hampered by

brids that one finds in Europe.

some odd conditions – they could only be leased, not bought, and they could

But the new Prius is a big advance on

not be driven on gravel roads.

the ones we first saw in South Africa



Dr i v e T e s t where you can read useful info (such as your speed) on the windscreen in front of you, without having to move your eyes to the centrally situated instrument panel. You also get automatic rain-sensing windscreen wipers, seven airbags, heated front passenger seats, a park-assist system with a camera and screen showing what is behind you when you reverse,

pop-up headlight

cleaners, satellite navigation … you’re getting a lot more than the approval of the environmentalists here. Toyota have also upped the petrol engine, from a 1.5-litre to a 1.8-litre that puts out 100kW (24% more than before). The electric motor, too, has increased power by 20% to 60kW and when the electric and petrol motors work together under hard acceleration four years ago, quite apart from the fact

there is nothing wrong with the Prius’

that you no longer need to stick strictly

get up and go. Top speed is a claimed

to tarred roads.

180km/h and the 0-100km/h is between 10 and 11 seconds.

Naturally for cars costing between R326 200 for the Advanced model and R370

The Prius is at its best in stop-start traf-

000 for the Exclusive, the Prius comes

fic where the electric engine can work

with electric windows, power steering,

without calling on the petrol engine

air con, audio, and ABS. As they say on

for help. There is even an electric-on-

the TV ads, there’s much more.

ly mode (press a button on the dashboard) but this will take you only 2km,

You get a rather sexy heads-up display, DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009

at a maximum speed of 50km/h. Then 109

D r ive Te st

the petrol motor will come in, both to

charged by energy from the brakes, the

charge the battery and to help move

same principle being used in some of

the car along.

this year’s Formula One GP cars.

You can also choose a power mode for

Contrary to what some people think,

maximum punch and an eco mode, said

you don’t plug the Prius into the mains

to improve fuel economy by 15%.

at night or between journeys. It is completely self-sufficient and that, in my

Apart from the petrol motor being used

mind, gives it an edge over a purely

as a source of energy, the battery is also

electric car which, in South Africa, will



Dr i v e T e s t have to rely largely on getting its en-

both eerie and awesome.

ergy from coal-fired power stations. The Prius, for all its clever technologiToyota





cal innovation, will remain an oddity

4.1litres/100km and while I did not do

and a rarity on South African roads for

as well as that I did see figures below

some time to come, as much for the

5litres/100km, something I have, until

unusualness of its motive power as for

now, achieved only in Nissan’s diesel

its price.

Micra, a far smaller car. While it might not quite represent the The most striking thing about the Prius,

future of motoring, it is a significant part

still, is that if the battery is fully charged,

of the journey along that road.

there is no sound of the engine starting up. You get behind the wheel, press the

PS: The new Prius has been named as

Start button, and a “ready” sign comes

one of the eight finalists in the Car of

up in the instrument binnacle. Slip the

the Year contest run by the SA Guild of

car into Drive or Reverse using the lu-

Motoring Journalists and WesBank.

minous green gear knob, The feeling of driving away in complete silence is


Drive Vitals

Toyota Prius Gen 2


1.8-litre Hybrid Synergy Drive


73kW (petrol) + 60kW (electric)


142 Nm (petrol) + 207 Nm (electric)


10. 4 seconds

Top speed

180 km/h


R326 200 (Advanced)

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Te st



Dr i v e T e s t

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Te st

Opening statement

fourth gen model enjoyed much success

The Honda FireBlade has been around

on the racetrack winning, among oth-

since 1992 and is regarded as the first

ers, both British and World Superbike

of the modern superbikes. By the time

championships. Unfortunately though

the FireBlade reached its fourth incar-

the ‘Blade was being beaten up by it’s

nation, it had put on some middle age

rivals in group tests and you didn’t want

spread, lighter than the original but much

your mates running away from you on

heavier than the model it replaced. The

the road just because James Toseland was winning on the track. No, it was time for Honda to get the


back to the spirit of the original and that’s exactly what they did. Although



was launched the new ‘Blade was widely


for its unattractive looks,



like it had been whacked on the front with a shovel, it was an aerodynamically superior design. Since the launch though, we have gotten used to it and some in114


Dr i v e T e s t cluding myself even find it attractive

differences really were. All of you track

particularly in race rep livery. It is how-

riders that believe ABS and Sports bike

ever a design that needs a good col-

are words that should never appear

our scheme to enhance it. Our orange

in the same sentence can put those

Repsol rep looked spectacular but the

thoughts right out of your minds. The

dark blue and silver is a little bit under-

system doesn’t act like a nanny state


safety fascist continually spoiling your

To ABS or Not to ABS that is the question

fun. In fact as far as braking goes, you would be hard pressed to even notice that the ABS is there at all. If anything

In the interest of safety though, Honda

the ABS model has better initial bite and

have added Combined Antilock Brakes,

overall feel. The only time it does get a

as an option, which does add 11 kilos

bit nanny state on you is when you want

to the weight and 10 grand to the price.

to impress your friends with a stoppie.

“All of you track riders that believe ABS and Sports bike are words that should never appear in the same sentence can put those thoughts right out of your minds.” Now Sport bike riders usually turn their

The combined braking system works at

noses up at ABS systems and for good

keeping the back wheel on the ground

reason. In the past ABS on a motorcycle

for stability, which is a good thing. But

was over sensitive, intrusive and had

if you are the kind of rider that likes to

to be disabled for track riding. Honda

spend time on one wheel, it will have to

must be confidant with their system to

be the back one.

have added it to their flagship superbike without even so much as an on off

Yes the non-ABS bike is quicker off the


mark and slightly more agile but that’s as a consequence of the 11 kilo weight

We got hold of both an ABS as well as

difference. Overall though, I found the

a “standard” FireBlade to see what the

ABS bike more satisfying to ride. Both

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Te st bikes are phenomenal on the track but

range which takes a bit of getting used

the extra weight means that you have

to. It does however pull cleanly and ea-

to work with the bike a bit more and at

gerly right from 4000 until the rev limiter

the end of a session you feel a huge

curtails your enthusisam. The gearch-

sense of achievement. I guess I’m just

ange is quick and precise and together

one of those strange people with maso-

with an incredibly lightweight clutch it’s

chistic tendencies.

quite easy to get the front wheel off the


gournd – unintetionally – changing betwween first and second, particularly

The FireBlade is properly fast . 160Km/h

when pushing hard. In fact when racing

in first gear before topping out just short

an Audi R8 on the Non-ABS bike, I had

of 300 and that’s only because of a Gen-

to roll of to put the front wheel down –

tlemans agreement between manufac-

and then still stayed ahead of the car.

turers to limit the top speed of Superbikes to 299 Km/h. There is definitely a

Ride and handling

dead spot right at the bottom of the rev

I found the riding position a little bit un-



Dr i v e T e s t

comfortable for my 6 foot frame. It feels

wheel and the riding position is perfect

like the pegs are too far forward but that

for hanging off through corners. Climb-

is easily cured by fitting rearsets which

ing across from one side to the other

are in most peoples eyes must have

through the Esses is peotry in motion.

accessories anyway. The bike feels

The ride which is hard works brilliantly

small, more like a 600 than a 1000 and

on the track but does tend shake your

that makes it less comfortable in traffic.

bones on some of this countries rough

Take it out onto the open road though

roads. You can of course adjust it to

and it takes on a whole new character.

suit your own riding but I prefer a more

We only managed a few laps of Kya-

track orientated setting so I left it as it

lami but on the track you start to feel

was. The Monoblock callipers provide

that everything is just the way you want

probaly the best brakes on a modern

it. Your weight is nicely over the front

superbike both in terms of braking ef-

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Te st

ficiency and feel.


You do get a trip computer but it is a little bit fidly and at high speed, the display is difficult to read. All of the infor-

The new FireBlade is light on equip-

mation is there when you stop but when

ment compared to some of its rivals.

you’re in a hurry and trying to decide

You don’t get dual speed suspennsion

if you’ve got enough fuel to get home,

settings and you don’t get a lap timer.

you’ll wish you had eaten more carrots.



Dr i v e T e s t You buy a FireBlade for its blissterring

of people that walk up to you and say

perfomance and sublime handling not

“Great bike. I want one of those.” We

because it’s loaded with gimmicks.

were fortunate enough to keep the 2 Fireblades a lot longer than a standard


road test. By the time the bikes went

Whilst we don’t usually buy superbikes

back, it was as though someone was

to save fuel, it is worth mentionoing that

taking one of my children away.

the FireBlade is surprisingly economical. On one of our road trips where our


average speed was well above the le-

Is the FireBlade the best superbike

gal limit, the non-ABS machine retured

available today? Well that’s a difficult

17.5 K’s per litre. Even the heavier ABS

question to answer. It is certainly the

bike returned an average of 15.7 K’s

best of the current Japanese offerings

per litre with a mixture of high speed

as an all round track and road machine.

road riding and commuting.

You might prefer some Latin exotica but you’ll have to dig much deeper in your


pocket for an Italian compettitor.

There can be no doubt that the Honda is desirable. The number of viewing it


gets whenever it’s parked bears testemant to that. Not to mention the number

Drive Vitals

Honda CBR1000RR FireBlade


Inline 4 Cylinder




131 kW


112 Nm

Kerb weight (kg)

199kg Standard, 210kg ABS


non-ABS model R137 999 ABS modelR147 999

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009



hen I was told that my first road test for Drive would be a one litre Suzuki I was naturally very interested, upon discovering however that my editors had arranged a, near as make no difference, pink Suzuki Alto instead of a GSX-R I didn’t see the funny side. So now I have the Alto, a small and economical city-car.

D r ive Te st

As a compact car the Alto actually looks

and actually chose the least frequented

quite nice, our test unit however was the

parking lot which was further away just

worst possible colour available which

so no one I knew would see me. I’m sure

completely overshadowed any aesthet-

its styling will appeal to the fairer sex

ic appeal the exterior may have had for

though, particularly in this colour.

me. I am just going to say it up front, if

I understand that the Alto isn’t supposed

“I am just going to say it up front, if you are a man don’t get the Alto in this colour, it is embarrassing.” you are a man don’t get the Alto in this

to be a petrol heads performance dream

colour, it is embarrassing. At one point

but I still think there is some way to go

I needed to park at a shopping centre

for the Alto in this department. The Alto



Dr i v e T e s t

has a three cylinder 1 litre motor, which

thing that should have alleviated torque

is fine for a compact car tipping the

problems somewhat. So for a car that is

scales at 895kg’s, it even has a slightly

supposed to be all about economy, when

amenable growl for a brief moment, but

you have to rev the thing until the valves

how the engine is set up is the problem.

pop out to go anywhere, fuel economy is

You see the Alto’s peak power of 50kW

compromised. This type of engine also

at 6000rpm is actually quite sprightly but

subsequently means a lot of shifts, par-

the ‘hamster-on-a-wheel’ under the bon-

ticularly down shifts if shown just a hint

net doesn’t have any toque whatsoever

of an uphill, which once again hinders

lower down, apparently its peak is 87Nm

fuel economy. I really think a stronger

at 4500rpm with a relatively wide torque

engine in this car would have been more

band. I’m not convinced of this, there

efficient if driven properly, a theory sup-

just isn’t enough lower down and all the

ported by a distinct lack of fuel economy

power is up top. This is strange consid-

figures for the Alto on Suzuki’s website

ering that the engine is a triple, some-

spec sheet. To be fair the fuel economy

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Te st was good, just not amazing.

not fun because you are constantly on and off the brakes.

I don’t like the brakes, and it is a shame because when you plant you foot firmly

The 5-speed manual in the Alto is ex-

they are vigorous enough. When you

cellent, and is undeniably my favourite

gently push the brakes however there is

aspect of the car. The clutch is short

nothing there, so you push harder and

and smooth and the gear shifts are a

still nothing. Harder still because that

real breeze, which is good in itself but

barrier is getting awfully close now and

a huge selling point when considering

still there is nothing. Then all of a sud-

one of the Alto’s major target markets-

den you get everything at once and your

first time drivers. Many learner drivers

face hits the windscreen as a result of

struggle with manuals, on shift and pull-

the impressive stopping power of the

off, the Alto will make learning to drive

ABS system. The brakes have an alarm-

easier than many cars. Combine this

ing de facto deadzone, there is no in be-

with acceptable handling, a comfortable

tween or breaking progression and for a

ride over bumps and potholes as well

city-car it is annoying. Sitting in a traffic

as power steering with a great turning

jam, an inevitability for a city-car is just

circle and you have nice first-car pack-



Dr i v e T e s t age. In fact the Alto GLS is very well equipped, but is in my opinion a little overpriced for what’s on offer. I can’t however say the same for the GL model. The Alto is a good compact city-car, price aside and colour of course. The big problem I have with it however is that there are just too many small issues that could have so eas-

have been better. And the problem with

ily been avoided. The spongey brakes

the said ‘good points’ is that a lot of them

for one, the oversized right A-pillar that

only come with the overpriced GLS mod-

makes some right turns like the Cork-

el. It will get to 160km/h though, but we

screw at Laguna Seca for another.

do that so you don’y have to, seriously

You just turn the wheel and hope the

it’s not recommended.

corner is there because you can’t see anything. The Alto is not bad, it’s actu-

Kyle Stone

ally got several good points, it just could

Drive Vitals

Suzuki Alto GLS


Three cylinder petrol


Naturally aspirated







Kerb weight


Driven wheels

Front Wheel Drive


R119 900

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009



he people at GM have tried hard to persuade us that the Lumina Ute is a 2-seat sports car with a big boot. Russell fell for the hype and tried to drive it like a sports car, which didn’t go as well as he had hoped. I on the other hand completely ignored the marketing people and drove it the way it was designed, as a luxury pick up truck. The word “ute” is an Australian abbreviation of Utility, and translated to South African means Bakkie. It may sound more glamorous in Australian but it still means the same thing. I secretly am a lover of all things American – well maybe not all things. I stop short of American politics and obesity. I am a closet country music fan and I love V8’s. American cars in this country are thin on the ground so the Lumina Ute is about as close as we can get to an American truck and it really appealed to me. Even the name – Chevy – was right. I got myself a Stetson and took my country music compilation CD with me and went for a drive. I felt really at home in the Ute with the music playing and my arm out the window. Just a pity it was raining that day. The roofline is

D r ive Te st

a bit lower than a real American truck

don’t use their Ute’s as bakkies but they

so your hat touches the roof but there

should. You could drive around with

is more than enough headroom when

half a ton of cement in the back and not

you’re not wearing headgear.

even know it was there. It’s big too; you could have a family of refugees living

The Chev with its big 6-litre engine is not

in the load bed and still have room for

short of power and yet it doesn’t do an-

your building materials. The automatic

ything that would scare your grandma.

gearbox works well and I think that go-

There is just that wonderful deep down

ing for a manual would be pointless, it

surge every time you press the throttle

would ruin the whole secret American

with enough torque to drag small build-


ings around behind you. Most owners 128


Dr i v e T e s t

I say as cool as you feel because you certainly don’t look cool, not in this country anyway. Everywhere I went people sarcastic comments about Brakpan folk and people whose mother was also their sister. I don’t know why people here are so derogatory about this type of vehicle but the fact that they don’t get it didn’t put me off. If I were in America or Australia they wouldn’t be laughing at me. What is different in America of course is the price of gas and the trick in the Lumina is not to look at the fuel computer. As you might expect from a 6-litre lump, fuel consumption is staggering returning around 16 l/100km. Of course this is not an American car and In Australia fuel is also hellishly expensive The interior is spacious and comfortable. It has big leather seats and a wide centre consol so you don’t spend all day rubbing shoulders with your passenger. You get plenty of equipment as well. You get cruise control and electric windows as well as Bluetooth as standard so all you need to do is keep one hand on the wheel and waft along effortlessly. There is a 6-disc CD player

but that doesn’t seem to put them off building big-engined cars. I guess that if you spend your day driving around at 50 Km/h you don’t really notice. I really enjoyed the Lumina Ute but then I’ve never been concerned about what other people think of me.


and dual zone climate control to keep you as cool as you feel. DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009



teve may have requested this Lumina Ute SS for some casual, arm-up cruising complete with cork-dangling ten-galloner on his head and some straw sprouting from between his lips, but I came to the big AusYankian bakkie from a totally different perspective.

Earlier this year after all this vehicle was given a pretty impressive title by a local motoring magazine, and beaten out all sorts of just ridiculously tasty, and capable, sports cars in the process. Performance Car of The Year is the new title on its admittedly broad shoulders, and it was this newfound swagger which to an extent changed

the way I was looking at it. I think it

only once every few years, at the most.

changes the way we all look at our cars

It has to really, or what’s the point?

“...I came to the big AusYankian bakkie from a totally different perspective.” after all, enthusiasts who drink in the

But it can be a dangerous force too. In

words of motoring journalists all year

fact, in this case, it established unreal-

long despite actually purchasing cars

istic preconceptions, possibly.

D r ive Te st It’s certainly a charming brute, the Ute.

original version, actually fits in with the

Big and aggro, yet as cuddly as the

unashamedly Hick nature of the thing

children’s favourite character it can be

and its muscle-car roots. Performance

painted the colour of. In a much more

cars for the masses they were, not the

grown-up shade of red, our car looked


the absolute nuts. And the 6.0 badges

It’s usefully quick though, more than

on the flanks just make it that much

savagely fast, our thin atmosphere at


the Reef seeming to rob more from the lazy, truck-like V8 than some straight-

It’ll make the enthusiast smile every

sixes I know. Even so, it makes the

time, the bearish V8 bursting into life

accumulation of some major speed all

with a chassis-twisting boom before

rather effortless, the motor never really

settling to a muted but still burbly idle.

seems to be working too hard even if

Even the cheap and plasticky interior,

extended to the redline in every gear,

admittedly much improved over the

yet the needle on the speedo maintains



Dr i v e T e s t its clockwise trajectory very impres-

tion – a complex blend of attributes

sively right round to 200.

which come together to form the complete picture of any car. And the SS

But to take on anything of the sort from

Ute, well...

established stables, the precision of

BMWs M3 for instance, or the absolute

Again, it isn’t like I dislike the Chevy.

joy of Aston’s V8 Vantage range, takes

Especially when taken in the context of

a bit more than that. It really takes a

its price. Besides the unique duality of

“After all, even earlier-generation Corvettes from which, of course, the Ute gets its big heart, proved inadequate” whole added layer or two, of finesse,

bakkie and sports car in one, where it

involvement, control, and sophistica-

quite literally stands alone.

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Te st But dynamically there are some issues.

automatic transmission, the brakes are

After all, even earlier-generation Cor-

also a concern. There never seems to

vettes from which, of course, the Ute

be enough stopping power as there is

gets its big heart, proved inadequate

potential for speed needing scraping

against the stratospheric dynamic abili-

off. And when you do call for the most

“But these new expectations, and to a certain degree the changing of our every day driving situations as Jo’Burgers, actually made our reacquaintance a touch bitter-sweet...” ties of Europe’s finest from Stuttgart

from them the suspension once again

and even Maranello. And similar short-

betrays the balance as the heavy front

comings hamstring this car.

end dives for the tarmac, the resultant pitch sending the powered rears up-

The steering for instance is vague and

wards away from the contact patch for

lifeless. So much so that traversing

some heart-stopping moments.

our new, narrower, unlit, pockmarked nightmare the highways and byways around Jo’Burg have become since I last ran a Ute along them, is quite a hair-raising experience, and it’s not just the imminent threat of power oversteer that incapacitates you. Throw in some rain and you’d honestly rather just stay parked-up, although there is electronic traction control now. Especially when allied to this SportShift 134


Dr i v e T e s t

Yes, the red dials with their V8 logos

preciated. The Performance Car of the

and the SS splattered on the bulkhead

Year though should seldom be seen in-

behind the seats all do add some to the

dulging in these moments. It’s a whole

romance, but you only pay any heed

other measurement criteria.

to these when you’re cruisin’ the boulevard, so to speak, and as Steve ap-

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009

The funny thing is, I recall writing about


D r ive Te st



Dr i v e T e s t the launch of this exact model, and on

what it does, and makes a powerfully

the mountainous roads of Mpumalan-

emotional case for itself with a comfort-

ga the strides this SS had taken over

able ride, entertaining handling and a

its predecessor were vast and the car

really nice exhaust note. And it definitely

absolutely commendable. But these

does have the biggest boot you’re ever

new expectations, and to a certain

going to see on any pseudo-sportscar.

degree the changing of our every day

As a focussed driver’s car, well, un-

driving situations as Jo’Burgers, actu-

less you absolutely had to ferry a quad,

ally made our reacquaintance a touch

some dirt bikes, or a few soon-to-be-

bitter-sweet. Oh, and then there’s the

vomiting-all-over cows fairly regularly,

ludicrous thirst.

you might consider saving a hundred grand or so and buying a GTI or WRX

And it just doesn’t deliver enough of

saloon instead - larger bank accounts

that pure thrill of performance driving

are likely to prefer the honed, polished

to live up to such an exalted position.

benchmark that is the M3, or a 335i or

As an icon of excess, just the type of

S4 for that matter.

vulgar over-muscled yet strangely underwhelming expression you expect of

And compared to a 911, any 911 even

the two countries it could call home, the

one from the mid-80s? I think you prob-

Lumina Ute SS actually goes way be-

ably already know the answer to that

yond what an impressive target would

one actually.

be, make no mistake. It’s very good at

Drive Vitals

Chevrolet Lumina SS Ute


6.0-litre petrol V8




530 Nm@4400rpm


Sub-6 seconds

Top speed

240 km/h


R405 600

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009



n interlude in the action. A brief pause for a comm’s catchup and some sleep in a busy two-day schedule. There was a lot to get through.

Tomorrow things will be getting serious. Rather than the same old comparisons, we’ve foregone the Porsches and Astons and GT-Rs for something, well, a bit different. And first thing tomorrow morning the R8 will square up against this protagonist at Kyalami, with racers at the helm of each, for some friendly lappery. The Audi might appear to have a mountain to climb, but at Drive ultimate track times are not exclusively the measure of a car.

D r ive Fe a t ure Particularly a car as downright delec-

take on the matter. And it has to start

table as this one. An R8. No not only

with clarity on our ultimate definition of

an R8 in fact – the Big Boy. The full-fat

the term.

unfiltered V10. Ingolstadt’s supercar, nothing less.

Very strangely for the Drive office,

But is it?

we’re actually all broadly agreed on the who

essential ingredients necessary for su-

question its status as a full-blooded

percardom. In no particular order they

supercar. Too useable day to day, too

distil down to these points;





clinical, too efficient, too sensible, too “mainstream” a badge. We’d like to

Earth-moving looks. Aesthetics which,

take this opportunity to give you our

in short, quicken your pulse even be-



D r i v e F ea tur e fore any of the mechanical experience

ably. The sort of thrust which just never

hits you. Which turn heads wherever

seems to run out of breath.

you go. Which you cannot help but look back at when you walk away. And most

Soul-nourishing noises. A soundtrack

importantly, which causes ripples like

nothing short of epic. An event just to hear scream by, and a constant reminder of the quantity of engine shoehorned into as compact and lightweight a platform as possible. Preferably spinning smoothly but with zero-inertia alacrity to unfeasible rev-limits. Today I’ve been blatting about Jo’Burg in this R8 V10 seeking the answers to the tricky question, “Is it a proper, redblooded supercar?” all over. Tomorrow after taking on the ‘Blade we’ll also be heading out to some favourite mountain roads to cement our thoughts, but for now it’s been all about asking as many people’s opinions as possible, giving joyrides to friends of Drive, and even a couple of enthusiastic members of JMPDs finest! In fact, perhaps that story is a good

the landing of little green men wherev-

place to start.

er it goes. Mind-scrambling performance. Power

So you have an R8 V10 for a couple

which just piles on speed relentlessly,

of days and are keen to do something

pinning you to your seat through the

interesting with it. Yet here you are,

first four gears, and then charging on to

stuck in a hot and sticky logjam waiting

three figures beginning with a 3, prefer-

for the police to steadily work their way

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Fe a t ure through roadblocked cars up ahead.

because these are “mere” sportscars,

Of course, the R8 can’t avoid getting

and lack the gargantuan presence of


this surprisingly compact little rocketship.

“What do you need officer, my license, car details...?” I begin.

It isn’t only police who are affected. Park the R8 up anyplace at all and the

“None of that really, but can you give

crowd quickly focusses. If you hap-

me a ride up to those robots and back

pen to be getting-in, the simple act of

in your car, flat-out?”

starting the engine is enough to please

“It’s seemingly gravitational force of attraction for everything around it has been supremely crafted.” “Errr, sure jump in,” is my response.

most of them, the V10 ripping into life

Then to his supervisor who has taken

with a little blip up to 2000rpm, sound-

the rapidly-vacated place at the driv-

ing every inch the supercar powerplant

er’s window. “You know, I’m going to be

supporting the outlandish looks.

touching 200 by the time I get to those lights. You’re not going to arrest me

It’s seemingly gravitational force of at-

then are you?”

traction for everything around it has been supremely crafted. Start with a

A hearty laugh reassures me. “No we

standard R8 V8, itself a stunning car

won’t don’t worry, go for it.”

but decidedly more girly, more TT, than this V10 version. The front gains huge

This is the power of a supercar at

air-inlets beneath each headlight clus-

work. I’ve been yanked in some seri-

ter complete with piano-black cross-

ous machines before, Aston V8 Van-

bars in front of menacing black meshed

tages, Beemer M6s, Porker Boxsters,

grille. The back end is made similarly

and each time been met with belliger-

more purposeful, piano-black slatting

ence and general aggression. That’s

dominating everything below the high-



D r i v e F ea tur e

mounted LED taillights, and eventually

just about be enough to propel the R8

this area is truncated itself by a pro-

firmly into supercar territory.

nounced splitter sprouting from beneath the two, big-bore oval exhausts. The

We’ve got two days, well Monday morn-

ride is lower, the extended wheelarches

ing to Tuesday evening, to find out for

perfectly filled by the sticky 295/30/19

sure. In this time we’ll end up covering

wheels and tyres, and there’s a new lip

around 850kms, throwing everything

to the front splitter as well.

SA has at the car including Kyalami, Bushveld, inner-city and a huge degree

All suggest whole new levels of per-

of highway surfaces along the way. And

formance in all areas - aerodynamic,

we call this work. We know, you hate

accelerative, aesthetic, which ought to


DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Fe a t ure

Conquering the road Driving an R8 V10 around Jo’Burg and

rpm in top. It’s just indomitable everywhere, mind-sharpening thrust just a flex of the ankle away.

surrounds even if just for a couple of days was a rare privilege which we worked to

I couldn’t quite understand the queasi-

its fullest. It is just addictive in every way.

ness in my gut all morning, worried I

Once you’ve gotten beyond the sculpt-

was coming down with something that

ed but intimidating look, bum firmly en-

was going to ruin my time with this

sconced in the


mand Seat, well there’s still a whole lot more to look






redlined at

“Driving an R8 V10 around Jo’Burg and surrounds even if just for a couple of days was a rare privilege which we worked to its fullest.”

beauty. I did recognise the sensation at last though, as sheer nerves.


as they say, at piloting a near 400k W mid-

a dizzying 8500 rpm and speedo run-

engined 300km/h plus

ning right round to 350km/h sombre re-

monster through the

minders of the utterly ballistic nature of

vagaries of Joeys traf-

the device.

fic. Yet it takes just 45 minutes in the R8 for

Reminders you really don’t need, as

that sensation to be

long as that engine is running. An

(largely) dispelled. The

absolute gem, it idles with a distinct

car shrinks around you,

bassiness, opens its throats into full

shrugging off the R2-m

song at 4000 – 5000rpm, and then just

pricetag and hardcore

goes berserk with a cultured shriek of

focussed dynamics to

frenzied acceleration. It wakes you up

allow you to start ex-

every time. And yet despite the crazy

ploring its limits quite

redline, it’s so civilised and flexible,


pulling meaningfully even from 2000 144


D r i v e F ea tur e Not that there isn’t an edge, a sting just

And that R-Tronic ‘box, especially with

waiting to catch the unwary, in the dy-

Sport mode engaged, utterly brutal about

namics of this version, especially com-

shifting cogs flat chat. The way it slams

pared to the crazy agility of the original

second home has the ESP flickering as

V8. This is a far more serious proposi-

all four wheels try to spin up to release

tion after all, and while you could treat

the excess energy being poured into

the older car with absolute impunity

them. I’d spec a manual for sheer me-

this V10 demands a certain degree of

chanical sympathy though, the very stiff

respect. Perfect for a proper supercar,

structure bucks as if it’s being twisted as


the new ratio is engaged, and you can sense the halfshafts wincing under the

The outright speed knocks your breath

strain. A human-controlled clutch pedal

clear out your lungs. It’s savagely fast.

would be more sympathetic, for sure.

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Fe a t ure More than the rampant power though,

the only time the nose feels anything

what really pricks your mind into Whoa-

but laser-locked onto line.

what’s-going-on-here mode is the information. The R8 is, a bit unexpect-

More tellingly however, is that if you

edly, a vividly communicative thing.

climb on the power instead, the man-

The steering and seat of your pants

ic engine, and the additional weight of

are both alive with rich, detailed feed-

this midships-mounted V10, come into

back. So when you’re rushing through

evidence. This is that evil edge I talked

a fast sweeper at 200km/h, every dy-

about, the whole car suddenly starts

namic nuance is telegraphed directly

saying “Sure we can do this, just watch

into your brain. On a balanced throttle

yourself now” as the balance shifts into

the grip is immense, body-control im-

a natural degree of neutral oversteer.

peccable if briefly unsettled by bumps

A tank-slapper at this speed would not

due to the very stiff platform. Lift off,

be funny though, or affordable for that

and you instantly sense the need for a

matter, and it feels as though if you take

fraction more lock, as the front wheels

too many liberties the car will chew you

start to understeer just a touch thanks

up. Again, perfect for a proper super-

to the Quattro drivetrain. It is just about




D r i v e F ea tur e

R8 Versus Blade Kyalami shootout

today, would be none other than a superbike. The screaming Honda Fireb-

Unfortunately by the time we have the

lade CB1000R to be precise. The age-

R8 V10, the mainstream print press has

old battle as well as an intriguing view

run every permutation of pretender-

into the outright performance of this

versus-established supercar premise.

monster all rolled into just short of two

And Porsche SA, having just seen HQ

adrenaline-filled hours free of traffic,

release a slurry of updates to just about

Metro Police, social acceptability, the

every 911 in the range but most par-

lot. Let’s go.

ticularly Turbo, wanted to send a newer model anyway for the best current rep-

Of course we aren’t leaving the perform-

resentation, but didn’t have any in the

ance from these super-fit machines in

country as yet just days after the inter-

our own meaty paws, no we’ve got pros

national unveiling.

in their fields doing the piloting for us. Thanks to the Audi Driving Experience,

So, with Kyalami booked for a morn-

4Rings Driving Academy for loaning us

ing session, we decide the best test for

their master instructor as well as resi-

this newcomer to the supercar ranks

dent 2-wheeled racer for this exercise.

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009





Neveling and Mark Allison (yes, like Drive’s own two-wheeled specialist).



pound around Kyalami all day long and know the place intimately, and both are talented wheelmen which very few mere civilians or even brash motoring journos would have any chance of outrunning without using a pencil for the lap timing sheets rather than the more-permanent ink of a pen. It’s the bike up first. Naturally the rivalry has come up in the office already, for weeks now in fact ever since we first planned this outing. Steve reckons the bike even

on street rubber should be good for a minute 55. I’ve seen reports (in hindsight, ones written using the aforementioned lead-based recording method) suggesting the Audi would run a minute 57, 58. Close enough to be interesting at the very least, and despite the evidence my flag remains firmly behind four wheels at all times. The rains the night before give me even more hope. A damp track could see the R8 snatching victory from

the jaws of defeat, four-wheel-drive ver-

which is good since that was the whole

sus one. But the morning dawns bright

thinking behind this feature. He has at

and clear, and the track nicely dry and

least half a dozen sighting laps gradu-

grippy, although both drivers did find

ally building pace and tyre temperature

the slight sheen of residue from the

before unleashing three full flyers and

evening’s precipitation made things a

returning to the pits only when time

bit tricky.

constraints see us flagging him down. Then it’s the cars turn, and the pres-

The ‘Blade heads out first, and Riaan

sure is on. The Audi gets a warmup lap

is clearly having some fun with us,

and two full-on runs and that’s it.

From the side of the track, the V10 is

the screaming V8 version. The addition

clearly moving and the driver fully com-

of just two cylinders and an extra litre in

mitted, although both our pros have

capacity making all the difference be-

been informed they aren’t in fact qualify-

tween zinging, high-revs V8 and yowl-

ing for F1 championship points, a veiled

ing, high-tech supercar motor.

plea which racers just cannot seem to remember when the smooth tarmac is

Now you want to know the lap don’t

flowing beneath their wheels. So, OK,

you? Car, or bike?

he’s probably about 8/10ths committed in fact. But the V10 sounds intoxicat-

The slower time, a 2:01.6, was post-

ing, if that little bit more relaxed than

ed by the ‘Blade. The R8 a mere 0.4

s quicker at 2:01.2. As soon as Riaan

It’s an astonishing result. It’s an as-

gets this news sitting on the pit wall, he

tonishing car too. That bike is properly

hops off with the look of a man who’s

quick, nothing but a true red-blooded

just getting started on his face. “I’m off

supercar can hope to match its pace.

to set that bike up properly,” he mutters

But the R8 V10 is an absolute weapon,

back to my querying glance. Unfortu-

shattering the V8 cars reputation for be-

nately, the challenge was specifically

ing merely quick rather than positively

for a single-lap, sudden-death type re-

scintillating in one fell swoop.

sult, everything totally stock, one hottest lap the decider. And therefore, decided it has been!

D r ive Fe a t ure

On the Run

it’s stop, the Audi’s throttle is already

These two speed machines stay to-

nailed and the shove is immense, the

gether the whole day and it isn’t long

response positively tigerish.

before I get a vivid example of just how the car was able to beat its lap time.

In a sprint from a decent cornering lick

You imagine that the R8 would corner

of 60 km/h to beyond 200km/h sees

faster and brake harder, and the su-

the ‘Blade put about a car length, at

perbike then have it’s way again on the

the most, on the demented V10. Yes,

straights. The thing is, it definitely does

it is that fast. And the lumps and dips

turn with a substantial amount more

of a regular South African road actually

speed, and brake so beautifully and,

give it an advantage, where the bike

again surprisingly, with fulsome feel

is having to tap off just a fraction now

coming back through the middle pedal,

and again as the weight unloads off the

but then when the road opens up and

rear-wheel, the AWD Audi can stay to-

the Blade in front is twisted round to

tally focussed.



D r i v e F ea tur e And so completely does it engage emo-

specialist. It’s pliant enough to be used

tionally, that even when a superbike

on the vast majority of our road surfac-

isn’t filling your screen you’re tempted

es without going home with a broken

to unleash the glory that resides just over your left shoulder at every opportu-

nity. You somehow feel that other roadusers have clocked the supercar shape and are expecting the entire show, and the R8 gives them what they’re looking for as the electronics blip the seemingly zero-inertia engine for the downshift, and that scintillating bellow erupts from the pair of large oblong tailpipes!

front lip (we did scrape it once, on a particularly nasty speedbump) or fir-

ing you off into the Bushveld due to the extreme stiffness of the thing. Yet the control is absolute, provided you bear the weight of the V10 and the extreme speeds you’ll be travelling at in mind, the AWD traction practically unshakeable and ultimately tuned for safe understeer in the worst of situations. Not that it can’t be provoked into gratuitous

It’s multi-dimensional satisfaction as

controllable slides using the full fury of

well, the Audi is no one-trick drag-strip DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Fe a t ure the Lamborghini-related motor.

We can see some of the points those that dismiss it from the supercar ranks have made. The interior is, in fact, decidedly familiar to other Audi drivers, perhaps not matching the exotic nature of the metalwork for sheer flair, but that also means it’s beautifullybuilt and everything is perfectly placed! It’s even easy to see out of, and you aren’t left blind while reversing.

From the outside, we can see how the original V8 was considered slightly too dainty for entry into the hardcore supercar club as well. But the changes made to the V10 highlight this by transforming the car into the complete opposite without completely changing the gorgeous, flowing shape.

Yes, for a supercar, the R8 is almost sensible. Even in this more pumped-up guise, you could con154


D r i v e F ea tur e sider using it daily, the tractable motor

Audi after all, and therefore inherently

is never anything less than completely

well-built and reliable, and yet it runs

on top of proceedings, and although it

with the most hugely expensive exotica

draws gazes like flypaper it isn’t com-

on emotional terms, every single day if

promised at low-speeds or too fazed

you really want it to. You’ll never tire of

by bumpy tar. It even has a fair-sized

it, never feel short-changed regardless

“boot” in the nose, and is very comfort-

of what pulls up beside you at the lights,

able for hours on end inside.

and never once think of it as anything less than a supercar to its wailing V10

But the V10 introduces the precisely


right kind of madness to the mix. Mad speed, mad power, mad cornering abil-

It is quite simply sensational, and a

ities. And a noise so beautiful and pure,

huge step on from the V8 particularly

yet so utterly savage that it is the epit-

from an emotional point of view. And,

ome of unfiltered madness.

with absolute conviction, a genuine supercar.

In fact, it very nearly makes the pricetag of just on R2-m, without options,


seem like rather good value. It is an

Drive Vitals

Audi R8 V10 R-Tronic


5.2-litre petrol V10




530 Nm@6500rpm


3.9 seconds

Top speed

316 km/h


R1 950 000

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


Dr i v e T e s t


iddleweight naked bikes are gaining in popularity at a surprising rate. Nakeds appeal to people that find the riding position of a dedicated sports bike too extreme. People that aren’t ready to don a high vis vest and go touring. People that still want to have fun and yet maintain an element of practicality. Nevertheless some find the litre class naked offerings a bit too hard-core. It’s no surprise that the Z750 is the best selling Motorcycle in France given their ridiculous 100 horse power limit for bikes. There is no question that the styling department at Kawasaki has created a real looker. The metallic green of our test example really enhances the lines, distinctly Kawasaki and yet much more attractive than the flat lime green. Jump on the bike for the first time and ride away and you could be forgiven for thinking you were on an electric bike. The fuelling in common with so many Kawasaki’s is simply as good as it gets. The bike responds instantly and accurately to every movement of your wrist. Then there is the noise - or should I say the lack of it. I know the do-gooder green people put pressure on manufacturers but this bike takes it to the extreme. It’s so quiet that when you stop at a set of lights you have to look at the rev counter to see that the engine is still running. The exhaust pipe is big enough to hold a dance in. Still, it will probably end up on a shelf at the back of the garage as owners look to the aftermarket to unleash some ponies and decibels, saving weight in the process. Now you might be thinking that buying a 750 you would 157

D r ive Te st

have a power advantage over those that

you the impression that you’re about to

went for a 600 naked but you’d be wrong.

be left on the road on your arse. If any-

What you do get is more torque, which

thing, the Z feels a bit weak at first, sure

is spread evenly across the rev range.

it’s as quick as any 600 naked but it’s

Unlike Kawasaki sports bikes, the Z750

a 750 so you sort of expect a bit more.

delivers power cleanly right from the

Apparently this is deliberate to cater for

bottom of the rev range to the red line.

the buyer that doesn’t want the edgi-

Cranking open the throttle doesn’t give

ness of the Z1000.



Dr i v e T e s t The Z750 is nev-

holds its line and doesn’t do anything to

ertheless an en-

scare you but it does feel a bit wallowy

joyable bike to

particularly with my weight on board.

ride and if stunt-

Unlike some of its competitors though,

ing is your thing it

it does have fully adjustable suspension

is an ideal wheel-

so you can dial in some stiffer settings.

“The softer suspension compromises handling through high-speed corners.”



the back road the little Kawasaki

ie machine. The

managed to run up to just short of 240

excellent fuelling

km/h and remained completely stable –

makes it so easy

with the wind behind it anyway. Turn-

to control on one

ing onto the next section of road with a

wheel. In the real

cross wind the bike started to get a little

world out on the

bit unsettled at around 190km/h High

breakfast run I

speed corners with a cross wind set off

had no problem

a bit of head shake, nothing too seri-

keeping up with

ous but an inexperienced rider might

the rest of the

have needed a change of underpants.

group on more

A steering damper would certainly cure



the problem and not only are they rea-

On a particularly

sonably inexpensive, they look cool as

bumpy road I ac-


tually ran away from the others with my softer suspension soaking up imperfec-

One area where the Z750 is found want-

tions with ease. I arrived feeling relaxed

ing is braking. The brakes will stop you

and all of my fillings remained in place.

but the low budget callipers lack initial bite and feel. You do find yourself pull-

The softer suspension compromises

ing hard on the lever when trying to

handling through high-speed corners. It

shed speed.

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Te st



Dr i v e T e s t

Inexperienced riders and born again

though and the lack of a wind deflecting

bikers want a bike that’s easy to man-

fairing will take its toll. I managed just

age and yet looks cool as well. Fear

180 km on 13 litres of burning dust.

not, from that point of view the Z750 is high on the desirabilty stakes. It’s a

I had a lot of fun on the Z750 and as

bike that you can ride to work and back

an all rounder it works well. Given the

on and then go out on a breakfast run

extra torque from the 750 engine and

on the weekend. It will even handle the

the adjustable suspension it is just a

occsional track day.

cut above the competition. The asking price makes it look like a real bargain.

A full tank of fuel will keep you going for about 240 km when you are riding


at sensible speeds. Start pushing hard

Drive Vitals

Kawasaki Z750


in-line 4 cylinder




77.7 KW (105HP)


78 Nm

Dry Weight

203 kg


R79 995

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009



he new Chevy comes to blows with an updated Mazda 3 and Honda Civic hatches.

Chevrolet’s new Cruze, the company itself insists, competes most directly with models like Toyota’s Corolla sedan, and VWs Jetta series. But there is another

alternative for the same sort of money, especially if we’re talking the 1.8-litre fully-loaded automatic version. That’s the world of the premium hatch. Also range-toppers, our selection adds just R20K or so to the price of the Cruze but ought to be richly configured as a result.

Besides the Corolla is such an easy tar-

pact 5-door bodies to lure buyers into

get to take pots at. Overpriced, termi-

their embrace. Perfect to really test the

nally austere, and surprisingly basic, it’s

breadth of effort behind the Cruze, in

one of those vehicles which sells so well

other words.

purely on the strength of its brand, not on the product itself. This Civic 1.8 LXi


and Mazda 3 2.0-litre Individual have

Both hatchbacks are definitely sport-

to try a whole lot harder, and therefore

ier, but there’s something about the

pack a whole lot more into their com-

Cruze which is intrinsically appealing.

D r ive Te st

Something in the bluff prow and pinched

to like the Cruze straight away.

waist which just suggest that Chevrolet’s international design team has

It makes the space-age lines of the Civ-

done a better job of capturing the spirit

ic look overcontrived straight away. The

of a Chevy at last in this compact pack-

Honda is still an attractive, and decided-

age, rather than just sticking the bowtie

ly different option, but it’s looks haven’t

badge to any old obscure Eastern de-

aged too gracefully and the Civic range

velopment. It’s a look which really had

could do with a heavy-handed make-

us hoping that the Cruze would do the

over at this point in its life cycle. The

business in this shootout. You just have

triangular tailpipes still look interesting



Dr i v e T e s t ful engine of our trio doesn’t hurt, but nor do those attractive, twirling alloys and purposeful facial treatment. Having recently been facelifted it matches the Cruze for freshness step by step. And rides on really nice 17” rims. Yet the Chevy still takes this portion of the test. It’s mature without being utterly bland, sensible without being all sensibility. It just looks like the car you want it to be, a mid-sized Chev saloon which is modern, well put together, and priced to sell. The new Mazda 3 certainly runs it close though, slanted more towards sportiness than maturity, and highlights the need for a Civic refresh soon.

Interior Swing open the door to the Chevy, and you’re in for a big surprise. A pleasant one. Once you’ve settled behind the wheel, you’ll be looking at a dashboard which largely mirrors the exterior – stylof course, and the clear plastic “grille”

ish, very modern, and with just acres of

section joining the headlight clusters is

space in every direction. But especially

absolutely unique and eye-catching.

for front-seat passengers – it’s been a

But it pales beside the new Mazda 3.

looooong time since, after going through

In this Individual guise (the only way to

my usual ritual of seat all the way back,

get a 2.0-litre 3 these days, the saloons

all the way down, and wheel as far up

having moved up to a 2.5), this hatch

and close to my chest as is possible,

delivers a strong sense of sportiness

I’ve actually had to rethink and ratchet

from the moment you clap eyes on it.

the seat forward a notch or two! The

Sure having the biggest, most power-

NBA’s biggest stars would fit comfort-

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Te st



Dr i v e T e s t ably into one of the Cruze’s front pews.

among the first to get really creative

The materials are of a high quality as

with dashboard layout and design in a

well, particularly the leather on the

mainstream product, but it didn’t work

seats which feels genuinely plush. The

that well. It compromises legroom, is a

controls and fascia plastics are a bit

mess of reflections in sunny conditions

nasty but they don’t detract too much

(like, every day, here), and like those

either. And it’s nicely architected, lots

trick digital Corvette dashes of old, is

“There’s nice leather interior...” of flowing lines forming a space which

looking quite seriously dated now.

is modern, roomy, and bright. It’s really trying, and that’s nice. And it’s got all

There’s nice leather interior, and it’s

the gadgets this Cruze.

clearly a well-built car. But there’s nothing particularly extraordinary in it. In

The Mazda counters with pure funki-

fact, it rather reminds me of another

ness, backed-up by brilliant standard

Japanese volume spinner, which GM

specs. Apart from the gears, which

are specifically aiming the Cruze at in

are slick and light with a nice, effort-

fact, which we didn’t include in the end

less clutch action, just about everything

for fear of coming down with a serious

else is already automatic. Lights, wip-

case of the Blahs. It’s just effective, does

ers, mirrors etc. And although not quite

what it should well enough, and also

as sculpted in line it’s nicely mood-lit at

richly specced. In fact in addition to the

night, decidedly younger and brasher in

convenience features on the Mazda for

design, and at least as well-built. Leath-

instance, the Honda adds cruise con-

er clasps the seats tightly, there’s a pre-

trol, automatic aircon, and even rear

mium Bose system already installed,

PDC! The seats are even heated! Not

even Keyless Go all standard. It’s ex-

bad, but still strangely unsatisfying.

ceptional for a R260-grand car. It’s just missing climate control, still featuring


only manual aircon.

As for how our 1.8-litre auto-boxed Cruze performed, sadly here the car is

And it shows up the Honda. Both of

quite badly lacking. Lacking decent urge

them actually do. Now the Civic was

up here, for starters, which in turn high-

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Te st

lights the lack of an adequate auto ‘box.

spec, climate control, auto wipers and

Yet despite being so limp, it certainly en-

lights being the major ones.

joys its fuel, averaging 11l/100km with us. With heavy use of the right foot, in

The i-VTEC engine of the same capacity

search of some meaningful forward mo-

in the Honda is definitely a bit keener-

tion (and finding little)!

revving. Still hardly a firecracker though, but where it really shines is its econo-

It does ride beautifully, like a car from

my! Even working it hard we couldn’t

the R300 – R350K bracket would. Han-

get it to average as high as 8l/100km!

dling is safe rather than sparkling but

And it develops 103kW so getting past

without major flaws, really. It’s not ex-

200km/h is on the cards. Although the

actly an involving drive given these de-

claimed stats put this car more than a

tails but it is certainly comfy. Perhaps

second in front of the larger-engined

the much cheaper manual gearbox

Mazda, it doesn’t feel accurate, the two

might help with some driving entertain-

cars feel very similar in performance,

ment, the workload also doesn’t entire-

while the Cruze in this guise definitely

ly suit the sheer serenity of the Cruze

lags behind them both.

at, well, a cruise. And that model does lose out on some of the more high-tech 168

The Civics dynamics are a bit odd. PerDRIVE M AGAZINE DECEM BER 2009

Dr i v e T e s t

haps it’s just that my most lasting im-

commendable, and when you’re driving

pressions of a Civic are from the wheel

a favourite section of road the 3 feels

of a Type R, but there seems to be sur-

willing to run at the edge for a bit at

prisingly little front-end grip on this one.


It turns-in well enough, but if you get too aggressive on entry it just starts to un-

As for consumption, it looked a little

dersteer without even seeming to really

heavy compared to the thrifty Civic, but

try and dig for anything more. Still, tidy

came in well below the Chevy averaging

overall, although unsettled at the rear

10.2l/100km. That’s the price you pay

under braking from speed.

for reengineering and redeploying oldtech engines, as GM has done in the

Not surprisingly, the 2.0-litre Individual

Cruze, none of the newer fuel-efficient

3 is by far the most exciting of the trio to

tech is in there.

drive. The 110kW engine isn’t remotely rampant but is nice and muscular with

The lineup

a pleasant four-cylinder raspiness from

There always has to be a last place in

the exhaust. The gearbox isn’t quite as

this kind of thing, and this time it be-

excellent as the shifter in the Honda,

longs to the Civic 1.8 VXi. And it isn’t

and of course lacks a cog, but it’s also

even that it does anything particularly

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Te st bad, like the Cruze did in the perform-

R210K budget though, or if you’re able

ance part of the test, it just never really

to wait, there will be a 2.0-litre turbodie-

works. Never excites, never connects.

sel next year thumping out 300Nm!

And yet, if fuel economy is critical to you, there’s no doubt, this is the one

Which leaves the Mazda 3 2.0-litre In-

you’ll like most. It just isn’t that crucial

dividual as the winner in this one. It’s

to us.

the best-rounded car for the money. We might prefer the look of the Cruze, and

Then the one which all won us over un-

the Civic may technically boast the bet-

expectedly, has sadly had to be knocked

ter spec (but present it so boringly), but

back to second. The very pleasant

the Mazda can even be fun, and isn’t far

Cruze, always a bit out of its depth in

off on the first two factors either. What’s

this test, has done well to make it into

more, if you must have a boot, the 2.0-

this position, and impressed all of us

litre Individual is only available as a se-

with its ride, looks, and generous cabin.

dan now, the hatchback version having

But the engine and gearbox combo kill it.

moved up to a 2.5-litre motor since we

I’d unreservedly recommend a 1.8-litre

had our press demonstrator.

manual version to anyone with a “mere”



Dr i v e T e s t

Drive Vitals

Chevrolet Cruze 1.8 LT A/T


1.8-litre Ecotec petrol




176 Nm@3800rpm


11.5 seconds

Top speed

190 km/h


R244 440

Drive Vitals

Mazda 3 2.0 Individual


2.0-litre petrol




187 Nm@4000rpm


10.9 seconds

Top speed

209 km/h


R265 300

Drive Vitals

Honda Civic 1.8 Vxi


1.8-litre i-VTEC petrol




174 Nm@4300rpm


8.9 seconds

Top speed

205 km/h


R267 900

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Te st


he Cruze is an attractive looking car with a well laid out interior. The interior ambience is very American but quite pleasant and it does come well equipped. The Automatic gear lever is the size of a walking stick and the trim is a bit plasticky but that’s fine in this price bracket and adds to the American car feel. The seats are covered in quality leather and are comfortable to sit in. The Cruze rides like a much more expensive car and although the plastics are cheap, the build quality is right up there with the best.

problems, particularly at altitude. Per-

The Cruze is a car I so much wanted


to love but it does have a couple of 172

formance - the engine is underpowered and that leads to the automatic gearbox hunting for the right gear. That is bad enough in itself but the gearbox is not up to the standard of modern automatics with slow and lumpy changes and harsh kickdown. Our test vehicle consumed a staggering 11 litres every 100km, which needs to be taken into the equation when buying a car in the value arena. It is a shame, but for the poor performance, this car would be a clear winner.


Dr i v e T e s t


he Honda Civic was a development of a concept that was designed to look like a Spaceship. They have hit the nail on the head from that point of view with its triangular tailpipes and space age door handles. The theme continues sitting in the drivers seat and at night the dash looks spectacular. The Civic performs well and is not a bad car to drive. So why you might be asking is it at the bottom of the group?

mechanical issues. The Honda may not be any less exciting to drive than the Mazda but the “3” is loaded with equipment and feels like an expensive car. The Honda is light on equipment and although well put together has a low rent ambience. That wouldn’t be a problem if you were saving cash but you aren’t, it’s the same price as the Mazda. Where the Civic does shine is in the economy stakes and that has to

The answer to that question is that it

be considered. The cost of running a ve-

does everything competently and noth-

hicle can easily outweigh the purchase

ing spectacularly. It will get you from A

price over a long period of time, and the

to B with the minimum of fuss and being

Civic barely ever delves into its gas tank

a Honda, probably for years without any

to get you around it seems.

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Te st


he Mazda 3 is without doubt the clear winner in this test. Yes it is a lot more expensive than the Cruze but it’s worth the extra money for the engine, which is coupled with one of the most pleasant gearboxes in the business. If Automatic is your preference though, you’ll have to look elsewhere. The interior ambience is one of comfort and quality. The Mazda in common with the Cruze includes pretty much every gadget you could wish for without having to dig deep in your pocket with the options list in your hand.

turers. The power whilst not particularly outstanding is always available and never leaves you feeling that you need more. The build quality is excellent although the appointments are distinctly Japanese, not that that is a bad thing. There is simply no comparison between the Mazda and the Honda. Both are mid sized Japanese hatchbacks and cost about the same. The Mazda is simply loaded with equipment and drives like a luxury car. The Honda is light on equipment and drives like a medium sized hatchback. There really is no justifica-

The Mazda is a pleasant car to drive and the ride really feels like a serious

tion for buying a Civic unless it’s space age styling appeals to you.

rival to the high-end German manufac174


D r ive Re view

Forza Motorsport 3

Microsoft into sending us a copy. Which

Developer: Turn 10

they eventually did. Quite fortuitously,

Publisher: Microsoft Games Studios

I’d also just won myself a shiny new

Price: R699

Xbox 360 Elite, at last replacing the dodgy, limited-capacity Arcade version


e love good racing games here at Drive. Why just a month ago we gushed over the latest in the Need for Speed franchise, Shift, although we did note that the only challenge to this EA titles racing genre dominance, would be Forza Motorsport 3.

I’ve been using up until now. A very good thing, as FM 3 has 1.9GB of extra data which has to be installed to a HDD, so I’d have been missing out on a lot! Not with the Elite though, all extra content installed and there’s still 103 GB on the HDD! Score. A little history – FM 2 was actually the

So we begged, pleaded, and cajolled 176

game I bought my Xbox for, like Gran DRIVE M AGAZINE DECEM BER 2009

Dr i v e R ev i e w

Turismo and Tekken were the only two

like 500+ expected for the latest eager-

titles I ever really played on my old

ly-awaited PS3 installment. No, it was

PS2. I’m a PC gamer after all. But FM

a little technical nugget called Refresh.

2 was different. The developers, Turn

Most console games refresh 30 times a

10, nailed the racing genre on the head

second, and that’s because the human

with that title. The recipe isn’t all that

eye doesn’t really perceive many more

complicated but few actually get it quite

than 25 fps (the refresh rate of PAL vid-

this spot on.

eo), so having the actual game engine refresh more often than that seemed a

The things that made this title so far

little pointless.

ahead of its competition wasn’t the visuals – the graphics were good but there

But not in a simulator. In fact, the more

were others out there that were better,

times you can get a simulator engine to

even at the time. Or the list of cars –

calculate the effects of your inputs, the

GT owns that space with something

more realistic it will feel. After all, driv-

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Re view

ing a real car is a real-time experience,

the most accurately modelled driving

and every nanosecond there are small

simulation engines ever released.

reactions in the suspension to the forces acting on the car as a whole, lateral

It even actually lacked a little in terms

and longitudinal Gs, cracks in the sur-

of graphical quality, the tracks in par-

face of the tarmac, all have an effect on

ticular looking rather bland and flat,

the chassis and outright balance of a

although the car models themselves

car and have a resultant counter-effect.

were superb. And that was the reason

FM 2 refreshed at 60 Hz, or 60 times

it never actually became a mainstream

per second, and the result was one of

title, and was quietly ushered off to



Dr i v e R ev i e w es like the railing on a mountain road not perfectly following the curve of the tarmac itself, sometimes spearing unexpectedly into the width of the road, and obviously bumpy and scarred by years of preventing unfortunate vehicles whose drivers have lost control from sailing over the edge to certain doom. So exceptional is the level of road and roadside detail, that you can actually get lost just admiring the scenery on the more, well, scenic tracks. And the actual car models themselves are superbly detailed too, even when it’s been a rough race and there’s been some contact in the field. GT may have a larger overall selection, but the Turn 10 chaps know their cars and have made great choices on what to include. And not just in terms of the latest hypercars, which includes the the small niche of hardcore race-sim

likes of the Lamborghini Reventon and

addicts, while more arcadey-oriented

Bugatti Veyron, but a delightful number

but graphically spectacular titles like

of real old-school classics. What’s

Project Gotham Racing took the main

more, some of the more “mundane” of


these babies are as cheap as chips – a pristine Golf GTi Rabbit for 5000 Cred-

FM 3 looks right away like it’s sole pur-

its, for instance, or the original E30 M3

pose is to address this criticism. It is

for a mere 15 grand. Ferrari 250 GTO?

gorgeous. The tracks are rich in realis-

That’ll be 20-million thank you!

tic, finely-textured detail. Small touchDR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Re view Anyway, pick your weapon and get out

last lap and, no problem, just reverse

on the track, and the racing will enthral

time a little bit and give it another shot.

you. All right, the load times are insane,

I think this has more to do with sav-

even compared to the already-lethar-

ing the Xboxes optical drive than really

gic Shift. It takes all of four minutes

making it much easier for the driver,

just to load up some of the more de-

eliminating endless race-reloads. It can

tailed tracks! Once they are in memory

be annoying though, as the “Press but-

though, the experience is intoxicating.

ton to rewind Race” reminder pops up

Each AI driver has individual character-

at the bottom of the screen, momentar-

istics for instance and will remain true

ily breaking your concentration, for the

to them throughout the race. Things like

most minor of infractions. As the bril-

“Will make a mistake under sustained

liant Robert Duvall says to a rattled Tom

pressure”. Get to know these and you

Cruise’s character in Days of Thunder;

can use them to your advantage, all of

“He didn’t bump you, he didn’t knock

which just further draws you in to en-

you, he didn’t hit you... he rubbed you.

joying the experience.

And rubbing, son, is racing!” Wish I could get that through to the overen-

The developers have also included an

thusiastic FM 3 reminder system which

interesting little “cheat” in the Rewind

interrupts your mental flow for the mer-

mode. Make a race-costing error on the

est brush of metal on metal.



Dr i v e R ev i e w And, even on a regular Xbox wireless

the next dream car you spotted in the

controller, which incidentally is just

digital dealerships, just to feel how it

made for racing titles with its analogue

goes and reacts at maximum attack.

trigger buttons ideal for metering out

Anything poor about it. Yes, in fact. The

engine or braking power once you’ve

soundtrack. It’s rubbish. Luckily you

attuned your index fingers, the feel of

can turn it off. We really recommend

FM 3 is pretty much unmatched. GT 5

you do so. In every other way however it’s the game for hardcore petrolheads this Christmas season. If you have an Xbox there’s absolutely no point in delaying. Order it now. If you don’t, well if you’re as much of a petrolhead as me, go and buy one, and preferably one with some sort of HDD so you can have the additional content installed. I know it’s a lot of money. Trust us, even if all you ever play on it is Forza 3, it’s worth the outlay. Forget waiting for GranTurismo,

doesn’t deliver this much driving de-

if it’s the same as it is in Prologue it’s

tail, nor does Shift. Hit an unexpected

not even close. Nor is Shift.

compression when you’re fully-committed mid-corner and the stiffer cars will

Now excuse me while I go and pay my

jump off line and require fidgety correc-

daily tribute to the Turn 10 developers,

tion to keep on the track. Cross too far

and for Microsoft Game Studios for

over the rumble strips onto grass and

recognising the briliance of these guys

the slippery stuff seems to want to suck

and publishing this Xbox-exclusive se-

you into the wall.

ries. They are the emperors of digital motoring enthusiasm, period.

This makes driving each individual car a unique experience, and you become


absolutely absorbed in racing to attain DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Tu nes

RHYTHMS DEL MUNDO CLASSICS VARIOUS ARTISTS Marketed and distributed by Universal Music SA

Rhythms Del Mundo Classics is the

of everyday worries. It’s happy and up-

second non-profit collaborative al-

lifting, often giving an entirely new feel

bum fusing an all-star cast of Cuban

to the songs – perfect for those trips

musicians (Buena Vista Social Club)

where you’re going nowhere slowly.

with some of today’s biggest artists to transform some of our favourite songs

BEST SONGS: Under Pressure feat.

into something rare and timeless, all

Keane; Because the Night feat. KT

to raise funds and create awareness

Tunstall; Beat It feat. Fall Out Boy;

around the human role in climate

Runaway feat. The Zutons.

change. Cuban beats and melodies

GET IT IF YOU LIKE: Flawless musi-

weave through the familiar chords and

cianship and inspired arrangements

vocals, transporting you to a place free

THE CIRCLE BON JOVI Marketed and distributed by Universal Music SA

Eleven studio albums released, 120

concerts performed in 50 countries for

million albums sold worldwide, 2600

34 million fans. This is the rock leg-



D r i v e T une s

ends known as Bon Jovi. While their

memorable melodies, solid riffs and a

latest album, The Circle, has nothing

good balance between fast-paces and

even closely resembling anthems like


Bad Medicine and Living On A Prayer, it remains a welcome addition to the

BEST SONGS: We Weren’t Born To

catalogue. It’s more mature, more

Follow, Superman Tonight, Fast Cars,

grown-up but the elements that made

GET IT IF YOU LIKE: Rock that won’t

Bon Jovi the icons they are remain:

blow the speakers

THE PURSUIT JAMIE CULLUM Marketed and distributed by Universal Music SA

Jamie Cullum returns with another

classics from the likes of Cole Por-

collection of irresistibly jazzy pop

ter and even Rihanna. It’s undoubt-

tunes that will have you smiling in

edly his most experimental album to

next to no time. See, Jamie Cullum

date, and thankfully the results are

is a jazz-rooted pianist with a huge

favourable. It’s ambitious and shows

love of pop, in effect bringing the

a great disregard for playing things

sensibilities of both genres to his


music, vocal slides and crisp piano fills included. The Pursuit is all over


the place in terms of style, sound

Wheels, Mixtape

and subject matter, mixing main-

GET IT IF YOU LIKE: The funkier

ly original compositions with a few

side of jazz

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


I’m All




D r ive Tu nes

UP TO NOW SNOW PATROL Marketed and distributed by Universal Music SA

Up To Now is essentially a selection of

liant songs (definitely more emotive

assorted classics, a smidgeon of new

than Leona Lewis’s version). Up To

tracks and a couple of live performanc-

Now is the band’s own way of stopping

es by Northern-Ireland’s Snow Patrol,

to reflect on their success and leaves

a band that’s amazingly been around

you safe in the knowledge that there’s

for fifteen years but only hit the big time

more to come.

when Chasing Cars ended up in Grey’s Anatomy. Perhaps that’s why their mu-

BEST SONGS: Chasing Cars, Crack

sic still sounds so fresh: they’ve got a

The Shutters, You’re All I Have, Choc-

vast, unheard back catalogue! Chas-

olate, Run

ing Cars remains a highlight, as does

GET IT IF YOU LIKE: Authentic Irish

Crack The Shutters, their most recent


hit. Run remains one of their most bril-

MI PLAN NELLY FURTADO Marketed and distributed by Universal Music SA

Portuguese-Canadian superstar Nelly

album – her first full-length Spanish

Furtado returns with her fourth studio

album, Mi Plan. After the unbelievable



D r i v e T une s success she achieved with Timbal-

some big-shot American singer trying

and on 2006’s Loose, Mi Plan signals

to secure a piece of the Spanish mar-

a slight change in direction. The first

ket. The up-beat tracks have several

single, Manos al Aire, became Nelly’s

similarities to her most recent English

first solo number 1 on the Billboard Hot

work, while there’s a beautiful vulner-

Latin Tracks chart and made her the

ability to the ballads.

first North-American artist to achieve a numer 1 with an original Spanish

BEST SONGS: Manos al Aire, Mas,

song on the chart. It could be her Por-

Suficiente Tiempo, Silencio with Josh

tuguese heritage, but what stands out

Groban, Feliz Cumpleanos

most on the album is the authenticity

GET IT IF YOU LIKE: Sexy, sultry sen-

of the songs – it doesn’t sound like


Christo Valentyn A member of the Southern African Freelancers’ Association A member of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists

DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Column

T The

he Oxford English Dictionary defines speed as:

ic death, because the speed of the air

Rate of progress or motion

rupture the lungs. Or some such non-

or Change of distance with

sense. Of course, most early cars were


open tops and had very little in the way


entering the nostrils and mouth would

of windscreens. Free


encyclopaedia defines speed as:

Some representative speeds, just to

… the rate of motion, or equivalently

give you an idea of the differentials

the rate of change of distance.

between rates experienced in various types of endeavour…

Speed is a scalar quantity with dimensions length/time... Speed is measured

in the same physical units of measure-

Speed of a common snail = 0.004 km/h.

ment as velocity, but does not contain

A brisk walk = 6 km/h.

the element of direction that velocity

Olympic sprinters (average


speed over 100 metres) = 36 km/h.

When the motor car was making its

debut at the turn of the last century, it was believed by at least some notable

autoroute = 130 km/h. •

scientists of the era that travelling at 50 km/h would lead to death. A horrif186

Speed limit on a French Taipei 101 observatory elevator = 60.6 km/h

Cruising speed of many jet DRIVE M AGAZINE DECEM BER 2009

D r i v e C ol um n

airliners = 950 km/h (Mach 0.82)

sense? Perhaps ignoramus is a better

Speed of sound (in dry air at sea

term than moron. For it is clear that the

level pressure and 20°C) =

worthies of yesteryear formed their be-

1235 km/ (Mach 1 by definition).

liefs of bursting lungs with little empiri-

Official flight airspeed record

cal data at their disposal.

= 3,530 km/h. •

Space shuttle on re-entry =

It is clear that most perceptions of the

28,000 km/h (landing speed

causes of accidents are based on emo-

about 350 km/h). •

Average orbital speed of


rather t h a n

planet Earth = 107 218 km/h. Analysing these figures you might be forgiven for thinking that the moron who coined the phrase ‘Speed Kills’ was oversimplifying things a bit. I would love to meet the git who came up with that one. But if he was a moron, what must be the IQ levels of those in authority who subscribed to the nonDR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Column knowledge. Hence the reason that au-

they have ever stopped (sic) to think it

thorities are quick to use fatuous slo-

through. If a road accident is defined

gans which they know will play on the

as a vehicle colliding with another ob-

emotions of the uninformed majority. Of

ject (be it pedestrian, car or bridge sup-

course many of those have themselves

port), this presupposes that at least one

formed their opinions based on similar

of the objects was moving immediately

precepts and not a little ignorance.

prior to the collision. Given that speed is a rate of progress or motion, speed

Another form of the speed myth is perpetrated by the traffic authorities (par-

must be a factor in all road accidents. After all, if none of the vehicles were moving, there could be no collision.

ticuSo let’s delve a little more into what speeds we earthlings are subjected


If you look at the examples above,


will see that we all, along with our habilarly t


tat, hurtle around e






107 000 km/h. If our atand

KZN Provincial Traf-

mosphere didn’t travel with us, that would certainly ruffle your

fic bullyboys). They state, when sum-

hair and might be in danger of burst-

marizing their statistics, that the ma-

ing your lungs. We, of course don’t feel

jority of accidents are speed related.

it because the atmosphere does trav-

Now there’s a thing. I don’t suppose

el with us. The earth also spins on its



D r i v e C ol um n axis to give us interesting variations of

And here we are getting to the crux of

darkness and light. At the equator the

the issue. Dennis Jackson pointed out

peripheral speed of the earth’s rota-

the other day (he probably points this

tion is about 1060 km/h. Of course at

out quite often) that if you walk into a

the poles it is… well, it isn’t really very

glass door it can be quite painful. So,

much at all.

are we to restrict the speed of pedestrians? No of course not. We say to them,

Take the rather commonplace activ-

look where you are going, you silly bug-

ity of air travel between major cities.


Again, in the examples above you will see that the average jet airliner travels

Speed kills? No of course it doesn’t.

at about 1000 km/h. Now, no one on

Inappropriate speed leading to sudden

board is at all perturbed by this. How-

deceleration kills. Not quite. More like

ever, at the sharp end, where the pilots

the sudden deceleration resulting from

sit, there would be great consternation

inappropriate speed can kill. Decelera-

if the speed were to fall below a certain

tion. That occurs to vehicles when the

figure. A stall occurs at a speed when

brakes are applied. Now what are we

the airflow over the wings



cient to develop the lift needed to support the aircraft. Should that happen, disaster could be imminent. The best case scenario is; coffee cups, meal trays and


people all congregating on the ceiling


for a few moments. The speed at which

means keeping an appropriate distance

they got there is irrelevant. It is the de-

from other objects, whether they are

celeration experienced when arriving

moving or not. This allows you to bring

on the deck that is the uncomfortable

your vehicle to rest, with comfortable


deceleration, prior to reaching another

at? distances.


object. That means looking ahead, not DR I VE M A G A Z IN E D E C E MB E R 2009


D r ive Column at the damned speedo.

Four US states abolished their upper speed limits in favour of a law requiring

But how far is appropriate? Well, a mod-

vehicles to drive at speeds appropriate

ern car with good brakes should stop in

to the conditions. In all but one case the

about 25m from 50 km/h. At 110 km/h

road death toll reduced. The fourth did

this has increased to almost 100m —

not show an increase in road deaths.

4 times the distance. The rough equa-

These states unfortunately had to re-

tion is; if you double your speed you

introduce speed limits or lose Federal

quadruple the stopping distance. So it

highway grants. Guess what? Their

is not just how fast but also how far. We

death tolls began to rise again.

need to say to drivers, ‘Look where you are going, you silly bugger and stay far


enough away from hard objects.’



Drive Magazine December 2009  

Our fourth issue of South Africa's entirely free, online, print-quality motoring enthusiasts magazine is here! This month features the scint...

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