CAR REVIEW | 15
WORDS Richard Webb
There’s no substitute for cubic centimetres, right? Engage a ‘car-bore’ about the good old days of motoring and most of them become dewy eyed as they reminisce about brutish V8 engines and the open road, writes Richard Webb. Those decades when Chevrolet marketed its’ 5-litre Constantia and Fords’ 6.4-litre Galaxie spoke to a widely held view that highly tuned, smaller capacity engines couldn’t cut it against the automotive muscle offered by big V-8’s. In that world, where petrol used to cost 8 cents a litre, they may have been right. So, what car did David More’s travel series, Going Nowhere Slowly, choose to amble around the country in? A somewhat frugal, yet, ever so cool split-screen Kombi? Or perhaps, one of those 3-litre Ford Cortina ‘Big-Six’? Nah! Nothing but the 6.5-litre Chevrolet Impala. Now that’s a car with plenty of muscle for a proper road trip. In this day and age with petrol sitting around R12.00 per litre, any road trip needs to have due consideration to fuel economy. As I planned my Christmas road trip last year, I poured over the options. Walk? Take the MyCiTy Bus? No, it just had to be an emotive car, a stylish automotive expression with some residual coolness that reflects my romantic notions of the road less travelled. And then I saw the display advert. A 1960’s VW Beetle in the background with the profile of the new third generation Beetle in the foreground. The tag line read ‘It stole your
heart. Now it’s back for your breath’. “That is it!”, I said, stabbing my finger at the advert, “Right there is my summer road trip car.” And so, almost like magic, the VW Beetle 1.4 Sport TSFI became my companion for the holidays. Beetling along Cape Route 62 through Breede River Valley towns corralled by the majestic mountains and verdant vineyards was joy personified. Blessed with kaleidoscopic mountains, sweeping Thomas Bain engineered passes, sparkling rivers and an eclectic mix of attractions, Cape Route 62 is one of the longest wine routes in the world. Despite recent labour unrest, the mercifully peaceful farming communities of Calitzdorp and Ladismith, mission stations Amalienstein and Zoar and the verdant towns of Barrydale, Montagu, Bonnievale, Robertson, McGregor, Ceres, Tulbagh and Wellington are serotonin for the soul. The twists and turns of the Cape’s Route 62 were all the more rewarding thanks to the sure footedness and the economy of the Beetle, who’s 1.4 litre engine capacity is 78% smaller that of the Ford Galaxie. Small cubic capacity turbo-charged engines are the new muscle, giving cleaner, powerful and positively parsimonious economy and decent torque. Like a South African road trip steeped in history, the good old days are in the making with this little treasure.
Volkswagen Beetle 1.4 TSI Sport Volkswagen’s original Beetle sold over 21 million of the endearing little bugs. The second generation Beetle of 1997 is best forgotten, but this new Beetle is a different proposition all together. More masculine and purposeful, this VW Golf based car is rapid, with sharp responses from the 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine and sixspeed manual gearbox. Economy of 6.2 L/100km and CO2 emissions of 143 g/km is claimed. Whilst it’s no Golf GTI, top speed is 207km and 0-100km/h takes 8.3 sec. Once the Turbocharger spools up, you can explore its entertaining handling. When going nowhere slowly the ride is compliant and comfortable, even if the steering is a little uncommunicative, but like every other aspect of the car, it’s a mammoth leap forward on the previous Beetle. Me? I’d take Volkswagen’s Sirocco 1.4 at a similar price, but many potential buyers of more conventional cars will be attracted to the new R296,600 Beetle by its new sporty look and appealing driving experience. ISSUE 17 | THE AIRPORT MAGAZINE