The Ford Kuga Updated and Refreshed From Subtle To Brazen

The Ford Kuga Updated and Refreshed From Subtle To Brazen

The new Ford Kuga is the Blue Oval’s prize fighter in the crossover SUV segment. Although the facelift and cosmetic changes may not be as apparent, but when compared to the previous model, the changes are striking. The new Kuga’s handsome exterior exudes a rugged charm, featuring a new trapezoidal front grille, headlights, updated rear-end and tail-lights. Rather than a weekend mountain bike carrier, the Kuga now transforms into an elegant mountaineering people carrier. I drove the 2.0L TDCI Turbodiesel All-Wheel-Drive Trend Spec model – arranged by Rene Victor, Sales Manager at Eagle Corner in Bramley Johannesburg. I wish I could say I toured the Garden Route, instead, Sales Executive William Mann, who eagerly wanted to show-off the vehicle’s Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive system, navigated me to a route that consisted of lumpy tarmac, sand, steep hills and a negative-cambre of twisting corners. Throughout our brief trip, the Kuga revealed an impressive driving comfort, the SUV’s supple suspension undulated the dappled tarmac, and was remarkably composed and poised through the corners. Its sporty dynamics are  trademark of Ford engineering and gives prominence to the Kuga’s exceptional drivetrain, chassis and suspension set-up. The 2.0L, TDCi, 4-cylinder,  turbodiesel engine produces 132kw of power, 400nm of torque, split among four wheels via a PowerShift dual–clutch 6speed auto-transmission: the surge of bottom-end torque prompts ear-to-ear grins. The Kuga is adept for towing heavy loads – up to 1800kg and that is why Hill Launch Assist and Trailer Sway Control are also included. I have often heard car enthusiasts slate Ford’s interior design architecture as dull and predictable. However, a refreshed dashboard layout, unrivalled interior space...
Audi A5 – More Vorsprung, more Technik

Audi A5 – More Vorsprung, more Technik

I have always been a fan of German cars, and as a result, at my latest visit to an Audi dealership I was salivating in anticipation of test driving the gorgeous Audi A5. The avid Audi team from the East Rand were keen to have my opinion of the vehicle personifying “timeless design and impressive performance” as their tag line suggests, and I was more than happy to comply. The sensuous styling Audi is so famous for has been beautifully refined in the Audi A5 – sweeping lines that curve languidly across the side of the body from the front wheel arch, and a lower, more defined nose that gives the A5 a more distinguished look. The interior is no less classy, with elegant, sophisticated finishes and a clean-cut dashboard design that gives of an air of self-assured practicality. There’s just something special about sitting in an Audi, and a tingle of excitement runs through me as the engine springs to life with a throaty growl. The power is there with even the slightest touch to the accelerator, and at take-off reacts with an obedient and confident pull. The ability to change gears with the steering-mounted paddles is not only convenient, but – as a nod to its Sporty supercar siblings – hints at the potential the car has for delivering more power at a moment’s notice by shifting into Dynamic mode. By contrast, Eco mode offers the driver the chance to use fuel more economically. In classic Audi fashion, there is nothing short of the kitchen sink in the cockpit – USB and aux ports are available, tech-savvy...
Haval H2 – Great Wall’s Great SUV

Haval H2 – Great Wall’s Great SUV

As the top selling SUV manufacturer in China, Haval’s new H2 is making waves in South Africa. David Venter from the Haval dealership in The Glen, Johannesburg, recently afforded me the opportunity to test drive this dynamic new vehicle. Currently scoring high on its economical price, this compact SUV from Haval is kitted out with excellent safety features and on-board technology, and is a promising contender in the market segment for medium SUV’s. At first glance, the H2 draws the eye along it’s pleasing lines, showing off its smooth, curved shape and modern styling. A solid-looking vehicle that portrays a steadfast and reliable driving experience, the H2’s lovely exterior flows into an equally attractive interior. Seats merge beautifully with leather in-lays on the door panelling, and an appealing dash space. The cabin has ample head room, and is even more generously spaced in terms of leg room – in the back, I could sit comfortably with the front seat extended all the way to the back. Finishes are tasteful and radiate quality and care, leaving me suitably impressed. Push-button start and a gorgeous exterior design make this vehicle feel all the more luxurious, and a conveniently laid-out multifunctional steering wheel has cruise-control and audio buttons within easy reach. I find myself not needing to lift my hands from the wheel as I drive, and with bonusses such as reverse-view camera as well as a curb-side camera, parking (with steering tracking, which I found particularly useful) is incredibly easy. In addition to the standard SUV airbag system, the H2 offers an impressive Front Active Headrest, which provides critical support to...
Suzuki Vitara – Vitara for the Win!

Suzuki Vitara – Vitara for the Win!

The Suzuki Vitara was first launched in the 80s as a revolutionary crossover compact SUV; now, after 25 years spent perfecting their craft, Suzuki presents the new generation Vitara as a fierce competitor in its class. Suzuki Centurion, with expert salesman Colin and the hospitable receptionist Kaylene, welcomed me this month to test drive the new Vitara. Offering an easy-on-the-eye appearance at the outset, the Vitara has been pleasantly updated from its legendary predecessors. It has a fresh, sporty look whilst still appealing to more conservative preferences with its deceptively compact size – the interior is stunningly roomy, with more space in the back than most other brands in this class. It also boasts boot space that is on par with the bigger SUV’s, making it a forerunner in the practicality race, in my books. The interior is precise and ergonomically laid out. Whilst not appearing overly luxurious, it provides a sense of calm confidence that everything you may need as the driver is right where you need it to be, including audio toggles on the steering wheel, a user-friendly infotainment system, and the modern technological conveniences relating to cell phone connectivity. At start up, the Vitara seems eager to please, reacting instantly to my commands. With its light-weight body structure, this vehicle offers impressive pull for such a small SUV, and (according to the knowledgeable salesman Colin) in top of the range variants, can give a Hot Hatch a definite run for its money. It cruises effortlessly through city traffic, feeling almost gleeful as it navigates twists and turns with efficiency. The Vitara proves to be nippy and...
Police Have A New Trick Up Their Sleeve for Catching Motorists On Their Cellphones

Police Have A New Trick Up Their Sleeve for Catching Motorists On Their Cellphones

The prevalence of motorists operating their cellphones while driving, from texting, posting on Facebook, surfing the net, to talking on a cellphone is slowly developing into a borderline socio-pathological disorder. According to Brad Huddleton’s book, Digital Cocaine, as our society becomes more and more obsessed with social media, a growing number of neuroses are on the increase: F.O.M.O – Fear of Missing Out, Digital Dementia, Narcissism, Anhedonia, Nomophobia and I.A.D – Internet Addiction Disorder. These psychiatric phenomena are real and are having a dramatic impact on our day-to-day lives – especially on our roads. Which is of no consequence to many motorists, people are undeterred by either the legal implications or reckless endangerment of other road users, while operating their cellphone behind the wheel of their car. It is extremely difficult to catch people in the act, let alone prove that an accident was the result of a distracted driver multitasking on their cellphone. But, change is around the corner. Though not yet available in South Africa, a new device, called the Textalyzer, due for release in the U.S.A, is able to detect if a driver has used their cellphone in the event of a collision. Arriving at the scene of an accident, a police officer would request the cellphones of the all the drivers involved. Their cellphones are then uplinked to the Textalyzer – via a plug & play interface. Without violating a person’s right to privacy, the device is unable to retrieve any personal information, like text messages, emails, or websites. However, it will provide an exact time-frame or duration of the driver, multitasking between operating both...
Wesbank Festival of Motoring SA

Wesbank Festival of Motoring SA

The Festival of Motoring is the penultimate event of driving culture and entertainment in South Africa. This year’s festival lived up to everything it promised to be, engaging, interactive and all out fun. There were self-drives and hot-laps with professional racing car drivers, and with VW setting up a mini gymkhana track – they featured some of the most interactive activities during the event. Exotic supercar brands were also on hand, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche and McLaren. With AMG drawing the biggest crowd, it was Red Hulk versus Green Hulk with the two GTR AMG’s on track, Clint Weston and his team from the AMG Driving Academy put it all on the line for our entertainment and pleasure – the Spartans of advanced driving. The AMG paddock was packed to capacity as the team and staff dealt with the enormous influx of spectators signing up for a hot-lap in AMG’s fiercest machines. This worked in favour of the less renowned Chinese brands, BAIC, Haval, under-rated and underestimated because of their Chinese origins – their performance left both Pro’ drivers and passengers pleasantly surprised. These cars were tortured, mauled and pushed to the limit during the three-day event without the slightest hint of battle fatigue – like shoalin monks. I went in a hot-lap in the BAIC x25, which led me to ponder, with our weakening Rand, skyrocketing fuel prices and our President’s appetite for indiscretions – these Chinese vehicle brands could be the future of South Africa’s transport economics. Unless you have R180 000 lying around to rent out the Kyalami Circuit for the day, Festival of Motoring offered a...