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May 17, 2018




The SupaDrifters are coming to Dezzi’s at month end, while the spinners are planning a world record. More on page 4


Three stars for Merc’s latest bakkie ALWYN VILJOEN rides softly in the X-Class THE first thing people ask about any new car is what it costs, especially in the case of Merc’s new X-Class doublecab. But here’s the thing — whatever recommended retail price we report on these pages should be treated only as a starting point. For in the case of cars aimed at the masses, the price will drop with a steep discount or good trade-in — thanks to a glut of new models in South Africa. It therefore behooves any buyer to demand that discount. In the premium car market, the amount will rise with every optional add-on, for premium brand cars are all about paying the price — much like mountain biking is all about getting the scar. The X-Class is a premium brand bakkie, which means its prices begin where those of the Nissan Navara and the VW Amarok top out. Yes, it’s dear, and that’s the whole point. So if you have to ask the price, can we recommend you do the sensible thing and instead go inspect any of the fine used cars advertised in these pages? Those who can afford the full price know it’s all relative, for while the X-Class is the most expensive bakkie in SA right now, it is also the most affordable offroader in the Merc stable, cheaper by far than the G-Class or their original mountain flattener, the Unimog. And when it comes to flattening mountains, the X-Class can. To prove this point at the X-Class launch, yours truly went over an old steep ox wagon trail near Uniondale using only in 4x2. Going down was even steeper, and here the downhill speed regulator held the big bakkie to 8 km/h in four high or 5 km/h in four low. The X-Class gives a very comfortable ride over dirt roads, more so even than the old Navara, which I used to rate as the

most pliant ride on dirt. Using the highly unscientific test of two fat blokes bouncing on the back, we also deduced the X-class should carry about half a ton without much influence on the ride, which is a very difficult thing to achieve with suspension. Like the Navara, Merc uses coil springs at the front and rear, with a multi-link solid axle that gives good articulation and helps make the heavy loads possible. The front wheels are guided by double triangle wishbones. So, the X-class is a soft ride on dirt roads and can carry a load, making it is a real bakkie, as one would expect from its Navara origins. It was not on dirt that the X-class impressed me most, but on tar. The race has yet to be staged, but to my mind, Merc’s tuned suspension will be more than a match for the VW Amarok 3-litre V6 turbo diesel — another bakkie that is not just carlike in its handling, but race carlike. If the race has to stop suddenly, 32 cm vented brake discs in front and 30,8 cm disks at the back bring the bakkie to a halt. For unplanned stops, the X-Class offers the same raft of active safety features as all Mercedes-Benz cars, from seven airbags to active brake assist and lane keeping. INSIDE THE CABIN While it is sumptious in there, it is a bit fiddly. Clearly the buttons in this cabin are not aimed at guys wearing gloves on site, instead, the COMAND Online multimedia system offers concert-hall acoustics, intelligent navigation and intuitive communications. A fast hard-disk navigation with high-quality 3D-view map display takes into account Live Traffic Information (traffic information in realtime) to enable dynamic route guidance, with the aid of which traffic jams can be avoided and

travel times can be reduced. Dig deeper and you find the X-Class is as much computer as it is a bakkie. An engaging media display, an Internet browser, an integral 80GB hard disk and a DVD player are also included in the host of equipment. In addition to innovative operation of the ergonomic touchpad with controller, the multimedia system can also be operated using voice control via LINGUA­TRONIC. These gizmos do not come cheap. The pre-installed Garmin costs R5 850, the optional Garmin Map Pilot R8 474, while the COMAND Online system adds R26 732. The Parktronic system adds R14 950. UNDER THE HOOD Nissan’s award-winning 2 298cc turbo diesel makes 140 kW and 450 Nm, sending the power to all four wheels via either a sixspeed manual, or a seven-speed auto, which adds R27 025 to the base price. For those who want to tow, the X-Class towbar adds another R6 900 and if a canopy is required to protect stuff in the load bin, Merc dealers offer one at an eye-watering R67 147, all of which can quickly take the base R763 256 price for the six-speed X-Class to well over R800 000. WARRANTY AND BUYING OPTIONS The Mercedes-Benz X-Class comes standard with the manufacturer’s PremiumDrive, designed to give customers complete peace of mind. It is one of the leading full maintenance plans in South Africa and ensures superior cover for 100 000 km/six years, whichever occurs first. For a nominal cost, customers have the option of extending the maintenance plan up to a maximum of 180 000 km/eight years, whichever occurs first. •

RISING STAR KILLED IN ACCIDENT THE KZN racing community pass their condolences to Kurt and Vee Rencken of New Hanover, whose son, Zane, tragically died on May 11 in an accident with a truck lifter. Zane (23), a diesel mechanic, had impressed the old

hands with his speed at recent rallies and was considered a fast rising star in the world of rally races. His funeral will commence at 11 am at the New Hanover cemetery on Sunday, May 20. — WR.

Merc’s new X-Class doublecab is the most expensive bakkie in SA right now and also the most affordable off-roader in the Merc stable. PHOTO: SUPPLIED





May 17, 2018

Texans ride robots Museum town first to pilot’s autonomous vehicles ALWYN VILJOEN

VOLKSWAGEN has introduced its top passenger model, the Arteon. Fully imported from the Emden plant in Germany, the 4,8m-long sedan is powered by VW’s 2.0 TDI paired to a DSG transmission. Three models are on sale, with the engine mapped to make 130kW in the Elegance and R-Line, but 206 kW in the RLine 4Motion. Prices start at R599 900 and top out at R699 900, and include a five-year or 90 000km maintenance plan, a threeyear or 120 000 km warranty. Service intervals are 15 000 km. The only thing not to like is the space-saver spare wheel, which simply is not safe on SA’s long roads. ISUZU Motors South Africa has meanwhile announced prices for the highly anticipated, seven-seater mu-X — the first vehicle to be launched under the newly established Isuzu Motors South Africa. Isuzu’s proven 3.0-litre four-cylinder intercooled turbodiesel diesel engine that produces 130 kW of power and 380 Nm of torque. It is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission which has a sequential sport mode. An impressive three-tonne towing capacity makes it a great choice for towing trailers or caravans. The 4x2 sells for R568 000, while the 4x4 sells for R629 100, including a five-year or 120 000km warranty and Isuzu Roadside Assistance and a five-year or 90 000km service plan. Service intervals are every 15 000km or 12 months. PHOTOS: QUICKPIC





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FRISCO is a town in the state of Texas known for its Heritage Museum that displays vintage cars and railroad memorabilia. Soon, cars with actual steering wheels may join the museum’s exhibitions, as the town is now piloting autonomous drives using vehicles from startup California-based said in a statement it has teamed up with the Frisco Transportation Management Association (TMA) to carry out the trials in the city, which is home to just over 160 000 people. The trials will take place within a defined area that includes shops, offices and bars and restaurants, with fixed pick-up and drop-off locations near each. said this will be the first time the public in the state of Texas will have an ondemand self-driving car service at their disposal, and the pilot is among the first of its

As they say in Texas, ‘purty it ain’t’, but this wagon festooned with public display screens will soon give people in the small town of Frisco autonomous lifts. PHOTO: DRIVE.AI kind in the country. New Atlas reports other self-driving car trials already under way in the U.S. include pilots from Ford, Waymo and Uber, (though the latter’s remains on hold following a fatal accident in March).’s pilot is designed as a model for the use of selfdriving vehicles in public. Users will be able to hail a ride on the company’s smartphone app and travel in the self-driving cars between popular destinations throughout

the city. Leading up to the launch in July, the company will work with local authorities to educate the public about the programme, including early familiarisation with the smartphone app. It will also be placing signage along the routes, while the cars themselves are painted bright orange and will be fitted with four external screens that display the vehicle’s intentions. “Self-driving cars are here, and can improve the way we live right now,” Sameep Tandon, co-founder and CEO of, said in a statement. “Our technology is safe, smart, and adaptive, and we are ready to work with governments and businesses to solve their transportation needs. “Working with the City of Frisco and Frisco TMA, this pilot programme will take people to the places they want to go and transform the way they experience transportation.” •

New interior and proven engines in Fiesta FORD on Tuesday launched the all new Fiesta to SA buyers. Like all new models, this one has wider hips, which does add to the interior space. “It’s because we share our customers’ passion for Fiesta that we’ve been able to take this iconic small car’s lovable, fun and sporty-to-drive character to the next level,” said Tracey Delate, general manager, marketing at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “Globally, the Fiesta is Ford’s best selling passenger car, and the all-new model represents a bold step forward in every area, from its attractive styling to the exceptional build quality, the superb craftsmanship evident in the new interior to the unrivalled smart features, safety and technology. “Our multiple award-winning 1.0 EcoBoost engine remains a cornerstone of the Fiesta line-up, with a choice of new six-speed manual or automatic transmissions, along with the option of the frugal

The new Fiesta boasts all the latest gadgets inside and some sporty suspension underneath to ensure it remains Ford’s best-selling passenger car. PHOTO: QUICKPIC 1.5-litre TDCi diesel engine,” Delate said. The all-new Fiesta is available at launch in two specification levels, comprising the feature-rich Trend series and the range-topping Titanium that boasts an outstanding level of standard equipment. Two engines are available, the award-winning 1.0 EcoBoost engine, or the very fru-

gal 1.5-litre TDCi diesel. Buyers also have a choice of new six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. Recommended retail prices for the five models on offer start at R261 900 for the Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Trend 6MT, and go up to R310 600 for the Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6AT. Wheels’ choice would be the automatic Fiesta 1.0 Eco-

Boost Trend, for R277 300. All models come standard with Ford Protect, comprising a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, threeyear/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/ unlimited kilometre corrosion warranty. A four-year or 60 000km service plan is included, with 15 000km service intervals. — Wheels Reporter.

Opel ready to impress with Grandland X ALWYN VILJOEN

Our friend dly sales s team m is s equip pped to de eal with h all en nqu uiries and ha ave a weallth of know wledg ge in the moto orin ng field d. We pride e ou ursellves in n deliveriing exception nal serv rviice and d products to o our clie ents and thereforre have a stringent qua ality check process s in plac ce to make sure that every produc ct complies s with our requirem ments an nd is in to op order. Tel:

035 789 0464 Unit 1 No 13 Dianne 071 677 0799 035 789 0754 Betastraal Street Ntuthuko 082 704 5330 Craigh: 084 357 1082 Alton, Richards Bay Fax 086 459 6725

LOWER insurance rates is not the typical sales talk sellers of crossover sport utility vehicles use to entice potential buyers, but this is one of the advantages Opel touts for the new Grandland X. The third member of the Opel X family, the Grandland X is the biggest version of the admittedly gorgeous family Mokka X and Crossland X. Brian Hunter, who is not a family member to any of the 14 Opel dealerships called Williams Hunt, but general manager of vehicle sales, said 35 Opel dealers (30 of whom also sell Isuzu) will support

Brian Hunt with the newly launched Grandland X. PHOTO: ALWYN VILJOEN the Opel. For the Chevrolet owners, he has the assurance that double this number of dealers will still provide services and parts. The Grandland X hopes to

get a slice of the 2 400 crossovers sold each month in 2017. A frugal 1,6 turbo makes 121 kW and 240 Nm to power the front wheels via a six-speed auto, with Opel’s tuned sus-

pension to ensure brisk handling for the 1 360 kg car. Three models are on sale, starting at R429 000 and going up to R565 000. Wheels’ choice is the entry level, Like the Opel Adam, the interior offers everything normally associated with a premium German brands. Think 360-degree vision, LED lights, advanced park assist, an 8-inch touch screen, FlexFold seats that fold at the flick of a wrist and a power tailgate that activates with a foot swung under the bumper. The Grandland X competes head on with another relative new comer, the Haval H2. •




May 17, 2018

Huxtable in the hunt


Toyota’s iconic Desert 1000 race in Botswana will change co-drivers’ standings

CAPTAIN of the KZN Drifters team, Kurt Volmink, is calling all drivers who can gooi a donut to enlist for a Guinness World Record Attempt to have the most cars performing donuts simultaneously. The current record is 107 cars, achieved by the Latvian Drift Association on Sept­ember 7, 2012. Volmink hopes to give the first 150 spinners a chance to be part of the world record attempt. He warns this is not an event for profit, but rather the cameraderie of meeting other talented drivers and — if the attempt succeeds — becoming a World Record holder. The record attempt will be staged in Pietermaritzburg on July 28 and 29. All spinners who are keen to take part in this record attempt can contact Kurt Volmink on 082 563 9916.

CHARMAIN FORTUNE REIGNING South African champion and Dakar Rally legend Giniel de Villiers and the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team are old hands when it comes to topping championship tables. With that in mind it is no surprise to see de Villiers and the Toyota squad in familiar roles. De Villiers has scored back to back wins in the two events so far this season in the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS), and heads both the Production Vehicle category overall and FIA Class drivers’ championships. The Ford Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) team has, however, stepped in to steal a little Toyota thunder. De Villiers has used two co-

drivers — reigning champion Dennis Murphy and former champion Rob Howie — in events this season with Murphy replacing the injured Howie at the recent Battlefields 400 in KwaZulu-Natal. This has led to Murphy and Howie both trailing Class T competitor Ward Huxtable in the pecking order in the overall co-drivers’ championship. Huxtable has a six-point advantage over Murphy, 16 points in hand over Howie and a 26point lead over current Class T champion and arch rival Werner Horn in the Malalane Toyota Hilux: but Lance Woolridge has also stepped up to the plate to dilute a little Toyota early season bragging. Woolridge and Huxtable, in the Ford NWM Ranger, also

Maritzburg Ranger racers Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable lead Class T in SA’s cross country championship. PHOTO: NADIA JORDAAN have two class wins this season and that has lifted the Ford man into second place in the overall drivers’ championship. Here he is ahead of Henk Lategan (Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux) and Johan Horn in the Malalane Toyota Hilux. The minor places in the over-

Jason Webb pushed his Roush Mustang (left) to a win at Carnival City over the weekend. PHOTO: SUPADRIFT

Webb opens with a win ALWYN VILJOEN THE first round of Supadrift’s 2018 season started in Johannesburg this past weekend, with 23 drivers arriving from all over South Africa to compete. While the cars’ front suspensions are highly modified, only production cars that had at least 600 units built in their model year can compete. These production cars must beconstructed by a major vehicle manufacturer and currently/previously available as a homologated and factory available vehicle. In the hotly contested Top 16, KZN’s Shane Gutzeit had to retire with a broken gearbox while Zein Hussein seized his motor, handing

the win to Adam Shefer — but at the cost of Shefer’s front end. Jason Webb pushed his Roush Mustang to a win, followed by Jim Mcfarlane in his Achilles Tyres Nissan 350Z and Chris Long from Cape Town The weekend’s Supadrift series opener claimed its share of drama, with a number of drivers suffering from mechanical issues before the event even got under way. Most managed to repair their mechanical problems, but Mikey Skelton and David Rae had to retire with engine failure. The second Supadrift round will be held at the Polokwane Raceway on June 1-2, followed by the third round at Dezzi Raceway on the KZN south coast on June 29-30.

A bakkie’s power for two wheels Dubbed the world’s first e-twin motorcycle and declared the “Most Innovative Motorcycle” at the annual Quail motorcycle rally and Concours d’Elegance on May 5, the all-electric Curtiss Zeus is due to start rolling off the production line in 2020, sending a bakkie-load of power (127 kW and 393 Nm) to a shaft, all powered by a 14,4 kWh Li-ion battery pack. PHOTO: CURTISS

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all driver/co-driver stakes are close but the next event on the SACCS calendar is the iconic Toyota 1 000 Desert Race in Botswana, and the shifting sands desert conditions are likely to lead to considerable changes in the only marathon event of the season. The form Woolridge and

Huxtable have shown over the first two events of the season has opened a handy 25-point lead over the Horn brothers. But Toyota are poised to take the manufactuers trophy with a 103 point lead over Ford (61) with Renault (15), Nissan (13) and BMW (7).

Wheels 17 May 2018  

Motoring across KwaZulu-Natal since 1904.

Wheels 17 May 2018  

Motoring across KwaZulu-Natal since 1904.