Beachfront to rock

There will some good rocking going down on Margate Beachfront Boulevard, KwaZulu Natal, from April 27 to April 30  as some of South Africa’s top acts keep visitors to the South Coast Bike Fest in the groove.

“The South Coast Bike Fest 2018 talented line-up has escalated to incorporate a reflective melting pot of genres and colourful array of artists,” says event organiser, Vicky Wentzel. “We have specifically created a rock element of hand-selected bands, voted in by the motorcycle fraternity that will keep the Jack Daniels Rock Stage rocking 12 hours a day throughout the festival. A tremendous amount of detail has been put into selecting a creative line-up across the programme because we truly care about every person who attends the event.”

This year, The Carling Black Label Main Beach Stage themes will change daily – opening with an Afrikaans rock session, moving towards the younger base of visitors on the Saturday, which includes big-name artists appearing at different festival venues, finishing off the set with a colourfes Bollywood vibe on the final day.

Organisers have also arranged for a third line-up of artists set to feature on the jazz and reggae decks. Add street busking, marching bands, street hip hop, dance and even acapella to the mix and this is truly a not-to-be-missed music festival.

The Jack Daniels Rock Stage and Carling Black Label Main Beach Stage will reverberate with the sounds of South Africa’s finest bands, singers and DJs. Among them are Belville-based Unit 11, a band whose rock with blues undertones has become synonymous with the Jack Daniels name countrywide. ‘Sleeze’ rockers, The Sinners, hail from Durban and find their hillbilly rock musical inspiration in Tarantino Films, card counting and hangovers.

Alternative rockers, The Color Blew combine talent and passion to create music that is fuelled by the moment and the audience will get a glimpse at local talent, Circle of Stones, a four-piece hard rock and blues band from the South Coast.

Bellville’s iconic frontman of Fokofpolisiekar and Van Coke Kartel – Francois Van Coke – will be performing a number of his hits including the poignant ballad,’ Toe Vind Ek Jou’. Another South African legend, Karen Zoid will prove why she earned the Best Female Artist title at the 2008 South African Music Awards (SAMAs). This Belgian-born Johannesburg local is considered by many to be South Africa’s ‘Queen of Rock’.

Also featuring at this star-studded event is Springbok Nude Girls, a group that started playing to university crowds in Stellenbosch before become national icons with hits including ‘Bubblegum on My Boots’ and ‘Blue Eyes’.

On Saturday afternoon, the Carling Black Label Main Beach Stage will welcome Doowap, a sound engineering graduate with a love for bass-driven music that emerged during her time on the underground music scene. SAMAs-nominated, Durban-born Kyle Deutsch – a chiropractor by trade – will take to the stage later that night, having recently performed as an opener for Justin Bieber alongside the Wolf Pack collective.

Other Saturday acts that are not to be missed include Aewon Wolf, Sketchy Bongo and Timo ODV, while Sunday keeps the beats going with a number of headline artists, among them Chunda Munki – the DJ and producer who also goes by the name Blayze Saunders.

Ramsgate local, Aden Hinds, will feature at the Carling Black Label Main Beach stage on Sunday night. Hinds is known as an insightful, melodic songwriter with a warm, distinctive voice which has taken him across the country and as far as India. He started his career as an informal mentee of legendary Syd Kitchen who had a profound influence on his musical style.

Another singer/songwriter making waves internationally is Fish Hoek-resident Matthew Mole who made South African chart history by becoming the first local artist to enter the iTunes album chart number one with his debut album, ‘The Home We Built’. He’ll showcase his international-level talent at the Carling Black Label Main Beach Stage on Sunday night. Following him will be Cape Town’s live electronic act, The Kiffness, with fellow Capetonian electronic trio, GoodLuck, set to get the crowd wild with their musical mayhem.

Those attending the Party on the Move will get to enjoy music by legendary DJs including DJ Fresh, DJ Bruce and Michael Zuma while those making it to the Midday Shandis Nton Nton will be entertained by Gagasi FM anchors – DJ LeSoul, Felix Hlophe and FlyMotion.

In addition to the musical acts, the South Coast Bike Fest has an action-packed line-up of entertainment, tasty cuisine, coastal bars and brilliant biking displays.

All bikers and pillions are urged to pre-register online for #freefunseeker tickets which gives free access to the entire event precinct including the main stage featuring all the headline artist performances.

All non-biking pedestrians will be charged a nominal fee of R60 per day which provides access to the event precinct including the three main beach festival stages, beachfront boulevard themed bars, street entertainment, demo rides, trader and expo zones, stunt shows, food courts, EnduroX staging arenas and all associated motorcycle enthusiast festival activations.

For another R150, #fuelyourfun ticket holders can access the Carling Black Label Main Beach Stage Golden Circle.

Pre-registration for the biking community and limited pedestrian ticket sales are available at www.southcoastbikefest.co.za.

#SCBF18

@scbikefest

@SCBikeFest

 

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Road Impressions – BMW M240i Convertible

Arguably, the most famous multiple personality combination – real or imagined – is the Jekyll and Hyde tale by Robert Louis Stevenson and it is this ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ combination that best suits the character of the BMW M240i.

From being an ideal top-down docile beachfront cruiser, it can transform, instantly, into a ferocious, snarling beast.

In Eco mode, the car returns excellent fuel consumption for a straight six, the suspension copes so much better with rippled and potholed roads and the rate of progress is kept to genteel increments.

In Sport Plus mode there is sense the whole car is doing an Optimus Prime thing and all of it is transforming by growing tighter around the driver as well as tweaking suspension and gearbox settings.

It is then the beast will play.

The 240i is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the fastest accelerating or most rapid car on the road but what it is capable of, is made to feel more impressive because of the contrast in characters.

The new model features sharper front-end styling, LED headlights fitted as standard, interior upgrades and new connectivity services.

Both coupé and convertible models are now fitted as standard with bi-LED headlights and the main headlights can be specified in adaptive full-LED form as an option. The familiar twin-circular-headlight look has a hexagonal interpretation, while a larger kidney grille gives the front end of the new models a wider look and allows it to project a sportier impression.

The outer air intakes in the three-section front end are now larger and the rear end features single-piece rear lights (LEDs as standard) with hallmark BMW L-shape extending well into the flanks.

The interior of the new BMW 2 Series models features an all-new design for the instrument panel, which gives it a more spacious and clearer feel. New cloth or leather seat upholstery variants, interior trim strips in aluminium or fine wood and high-gloss black panels with chrome accents provide even greater scope for individualisation.

At 4 432 millimetres in length, the Convertible condenses its sporting prowess into a compact package offering 335 litres of boot space and 280 litres with the top down – enough for a quick weekend getaway or grocery run. The boot is relatively deep but its narrow opening means getting particularly wide bits of luggage inside could be a struggle.

Up front, space is generous for both driver and passenger with good headroom (with the top up) and legroom, a decent glovebox, deep door pockets and a central cubby.

Nominally, a 2+2, the 240i rear seats are quite difficult to access, especially with the top up, and the space is really cramped and uncomfortable over anything more than brief squirt down to the coffee shop.

Still, the four seats do offer a plus compared to its main rival in class, the Porsche Cayman.

The M240i – weirdly – still offers only manual seat adjustment as standard fare and this is a hassle to get the absolute perfect positioning so it worth spending the extra to have the electronic adjustment fitted. The sports seats are comfortable and supportive though, both absolute necessities when it comes time to unleash the fun.

Standard items on our test car included multifunction steering wheel, M Sport brakes, locking wheel bolts, sport automatic transmission, variable sport steering, alarm system with radio remote control, wind deflector, rain sensor and automatic headlight control, cruise control with brake function, M Sports Suspension and M aerodynamic kit.

Options fitted to the test car included 18-inch double-spoke wheels shod with run flat tyres, Chrome-line exterior, rear view camera, interior and exterior mirror with automatic anti-dazzle function, seat heating for driver and front passenger, headlamp washer system, Park Distance Control (PDC), front and rear, automatic air-conditioning with micro filter, adaptive LED headlights, navigation system and a Harman Kardon sound system.

This made the on-road price R896 235,99

The options are mentioned simply because, like any BMW, these come as listing nearly as long as ‘War and Peace‘.

The high-resolution 8,8-inch central display now comes in touchscreen form if the optional Navigation system Professional is specified. This provides the driver with another way of operating various functions, in addition to the latest generation of the iDrive operating system (standard), the Touch Controller and the intelligent voice control system.

The standard SIM card integrated into the car enables connectivity and access to BMW services via BMW ConnectedDrive, without the need for a linked smartphone. These include Real Time Traffic Information (RTTI) with hazard preview and access to the vehicle via Remote Services.

However, it is what lies under the bonnet that truly counts. The 3,0-litre straight-six engine with direct injection and M Performance TwinPower Turbo technology develops 250 kW, propelling the BMW M240i from 0 to 100 km/h in 4,7 seconds with fuel consumption combined 7,4 l/100 km. CO2 emissions combined are 169 g/km.

The M240i’s six-cylinder engine is superbly strong from low revs and it has absolutely no issue being at the other end of its rev band where it triumphantly roars out its challenge to all and sundry.

In fact the M240i could be accused of having a bit too much to offer – in Sport Plus mode the rear tyres struggle to put the power down on damp or uneven roads, making it quite lively, albeit not for the faint of heart or untrained in the art of rear wheel driving.

Sport Plus does not completely disengage the ‘nanny’ systems – just tempers their reaction time to allow for much more pro-active driving. The throttle, steering and optional adaptive dampers are primed for action and all feel their best in this mode, ensuring the M240i is poised, agile and communicative.

Our car came fitted with the 8-speed auto gearbox and this responds instantly to driver input from the wheel-mounted paddle shifts.

Keep the M240i in its Comfort or Sport driving modes and the traction control is quick to step in and save the day.

Because it has this Jekyll and Hyde personality, its ultimate performance handling is not quite as good as the Cayman, for example, whereas its soft ride status does iron out more of the ripples than the Porsche. We were also impressed with the overall body stiffness of the convertible and the fact scuttle shake has been almost completely eliminated.

I remain, personally, not a great fan of convertibles – except for boulevard cruising – and prefer solid metal around me when pushing things to the limit, but the 240i would be on the list if I changed my mind.

Road Impressions BMW X3 xDrive 2.0d

The boys were shooting the breeze, comfortably ensconced in Orca’s Pub & Grill, rehashing the good and bad of the week gone by and celebrating the fact it was Friday, when one mentioned he had heard the fishing was pretty darn good at Port St Johns.

We all nodded as was expected on hearing such news and he went on to say he had a friend who had a friend who owned a cottage and maybe he could call and see if we could use it and it was only 240 km away so we could leave early the next morning and be there in time for some good fishing in the afternoon and maybe even a bit of fishing on Sunday morning before we left to come back home.

The nodding accelerated like an M3 on launch control and then they looked at me. Me, because I was the one with a BMW X3 and that, everyone knew was a whole bunch more comfortable than a clapped out double cab.

Now, when it comes to fishing, I don’t. My wife lets me drink at home.

However, not being one to shy away from a road trip, I nodded like a Toyota ad and early the following morning, loaded with cooler boxes, enough beer to float the Nimitz, the requisite boerewors and chops and a whole bunch of fishing gear, we switched into Steppenwolf mode, got our motor running and headed off down the highway.

My friends are not small but the four-cylinder 1 995 cc diesel engine with eight-speed Steptronic transmission fitted to the X3 just did not even notice the weight. With 140 kW on tap at 4 000 r/min and maximum torque of 400 Nm available from 1 750 r/min, it simply gurgled along quite unphased.

The test unit came with adaptive cruise control fitted, making the more boring sections of the trip heading towards Kokstad a lot less stressful and a whole lot safer considering the notorious N2 in that area is often referred to as ‘Death Alley’.

While the lads waffled on about ‘spoons’ and ‘ties’ and sinker weights, I paid attention to the fuel consumption – in normal mode averaging 5,6 l/100 km and in Sport mode 5,7 l/100 km, both cruising at the requisite 120 km/h and including stop/start traffic or town driving, well village really.

This is now the third generation of the BMW X3 and, while exterior dimensions may be largely unchanged, it has a five-centimetre longer wheelbase, long bonnet and extremely short front overhang so the proportions emphasise the 50:50 distribution of weight between the front and rear axle.

At the front end, the kidney grille treatment and fog lamps feature a hexagonal design for the first time on a BMW X model.

There are three trim variants available and we had the xLine model that has radiator grille and other exterior details in Aluminium satin finish and specifically designed light-alloy wheels

The interior of the new BMW X3 follows BMW tradition and the xLine model features standard-fitted sports seats with cloth/leather upholstery.

The all-wheel drive system at the heart of the X3 is interlinked with the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) meaning the power split between all four wheels can be constantly varied to produce the best possible handling characteristics.

There is a reasonable road to Port St Johns but no, fishing is not a simply a matter of driving to a venue and offloading the gear – it involves driving past the venue to locate an obscure trail through the bush that (hopefully) will end up at a pristine part of the beach where nobody has ever been before.

Fortunately, the dune bush is soft and gentle and leaves the paintwork intact – for the rest, the X3 chugged through the soft sand with nary a misstep or signs of running of breath.

As far as the chassis technology is concerned, the third generation of the BMW X3 continues to rely on a double-joint spring strut axle at the front and a five-link rear axle.

BMW engineers succeeded in bringing about a considerable reduction in unsprung mass by fitting aluminium swivel bearings and lighter tubular anti-roll bars as well as optimising wheel location at the front.

Handling dynamics, straight-line stability and steering feel have all benefited from the uprated axle kinematics and the electric power steering system with Servotronic function.

Roll moment has been redistributed a long way to the rear and the rear bias of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system further increased. Intelligent AWD management allows adjustments to be made as the driving situation demands while still maintaining maximum traction.

To maximise safety, meanwhile, Driving Stability Control (DSC) including anti-lock braking, Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Automatic Differential Brake (ADB-X), Cornering Brake Control (CBC) and Hill Descent Control (HDC) are all standard kit.

The high ground clearance of 204 millimetres helps to ensure unhindered progress through the sand to the declared ‘ideal’ fishing spot. Why, I have no idea since nobody caught a thing and the only danger came from a rapidly depleting cooler box – including the water for the designated driver.

The approach angle (25,7°) and departure angle (22,6°) of the new BMW X3 together with its breakover angle of 19,4° create plenty of margin for negotiating steep sections or crests. Moreover, with a fording depth of 500 millimetres, the BMW X3 can tackle water crossings with ease as well – something suggested by one of the lads and quickly turned down, since the tide was coming in rapidly.

In addition to the iDrive Controller fitted as standard, specifying the Navigation system Professional opens up the possibility of touchscreen and gesture control – functions that have so far been exclusive to the current BMW 7 Series and new BMW 5 Series.

In addition to the adaptive cruise control the test unit was fitted with steering and lane control assistant, and Lane Keep Assist with side collision protection – all part of the optional Driving Assistant Plus safety package.

I am not a huge fan of either, considering the state of some of our roads and the appalling driving of many of their occupants, meaning the systems are hectically active and become rather intrusive.

So, lack of fish notwithstanding, the fishing trip provided good grounds (pardon the pun) to enjoy the new X3 but I cannot wait to get home….because then I can have a beer.

Confidence remains

Confidence in the South African auto industry remains high with ongoing major investment projects in both plant and people – despite the concerns some have raised about ‘alternative’ facilities being opened in other African countries.

BMW Group South Africa  has put its best foot forward with the opening of its news R73-million Plant Rosslyn Training Academy able to host 300 apprentices a year.

In 1978, exactly 40 years ago, BMW Group South Africa opened its first training centre at BMW Plant Rosslyn. Development and empowerment of workers for the automotive and manufacturing sectors has been a focus ever since. Even in this pre-democracy era, the company was ahead of the times in training learners irrespective of their ethnic background.

Since then 2 000 people have been employed by BMW Plant Rosslyn, after successfully being trained at the Training Academy.

Tim Abbott, CEO BMW Group South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, says: “Global automotive production stands on the brink of momentous change with an increased focus on digitalisation and electrification. The workforce of tomorrow needs to keep pace with these trends. At BMW Group South Africa we are investing in the skills of the future.”

The facility focuses on both theoretical knowledge and practical application. Modern manufacturing skills such as robot programming, Advanced Computer Numerical Control (CNC) simulation and training on electric vehicles have been included in the new Academy.

An accredited Trade Test Centre has been incorporated into the building, allowing learners to achieve their trade qualification in-house. This functionality will also be extended to the public in the course of 2018.

Minister, Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize (Department of Higher Education and Training) adds:  “In June 2017, Cabinet approved the Human Resource Development Strategy towards 2030. One of the strategy programs talks to the skills that are produced based on the partnerships that can be encouraged within the country.  The country can only achieve this if companies such as BMW continue to encourage Work integrated Learning. Students from the TVET colleges will benefit immensely with such partnerships.”

The Training Academy will continue to provide skills development for existing BMW Group South Africa employees and managers. This includes training on the advanced technologies that will be used in the production of the new BMW X3, which will kick off within a couple of months.

In addition, the following programmes will be offered for external applicants:

Learnerships:

  • Mechatronics
  • Autotronics

Trades:

  • Millwright
  • Electrician
  • Fitter
  • Fitter and turner
  • Motor mechanic
  • Spray painter
  • Panel beater

The old and the new

Things are revving up for for the second running of the South Coast Bike Fest – being held from April 27 to April 30 – in Margate with more than 60 000 visitors expected for the music, food and, of course, the motorcycles.

Some 50 pristine examples of classic motorcycles will be on display at the Classic Open Stand.

The event is presented by Ugu South Coast Tourism with endorsement and support from Ugu District and Ray Nkonyeni Municipalities. The South Coast Motorcycle and Car Club has once again agreed to lend its support to the show.

“We are really excited to be a part of the South Coast Bike Fest for a second consecutive year,” says Rod Thomas, chairman of the Classic Motorcycle Club of Natal. “It provides our club with a great opportunity to showcase what we do while also giving the public a chance to appreciate the beauty of these incredible machines.”

Although the categories are fairly fluid and tend to differ from country to country, there are essentially three biking terminologies used:

Veteran motorcycle – built before 1915

Vintage motorcycle – built before 1975

Classic motorcycle –  20 years or older

Collector and one of the founding members of the Motorcycle Club of Natal, Hank Raatgever, will be featuring two of his classic bikes at this year’s show (from a collection of about 20) – the 1931 Norton and either the 1929 AJS or 1961 Velocette.

“In 1965 I rode my Honda 150cc all the way from Rhodesia to Durban,” recalled the Gillitts resident. “I needed to have transport at university and I thought what better way to get the bike to Durban?”

A journey of just under 1 700 kilometres on a motorcycle sparked a love affair with the machines that has seen the electronics engineer acquire, fix and sell numerous classic bikes over the years.

“There is something about being in the open air, exposed to the elements with no visual restrictions that is just so freeing. It’s the closest thing I can get to flying,” he says “The South Coast Bike Fest is a great chance to expose the younger generations to the joys of the motorcycle.”

Raatgever’s Norton has been fixed up and ridden in several DJ Runs – the annual Durban to Johannesburg rallies – as has the AJS which he displayed last year. He acquired the Velocette a year ago and is hoping to have it in full working condition by April.

Fellow club member, Andrew Mather, has selected two beauties from his 35-strong motorcycle collection – the 1908 Triumph and the 1955 Sunbeam – to feature. Although he is kept busy with a full-time job as a civil engineer, the Durban North resident manages to find time to work on his classic bikes, sourcing parts online or crafting those where he can.

“The Triumph 1908 has limited suspension, no gear box and can only go one speed – maxing out at 30km/h,” explained Mather. “It’s not very practical to ride because you have to switch off the engine whenever you stop, and to start it again, you have to run alongside it until it fires!”

Despite it’s limitations, Mather managed to ride the Triumph 1908 in a Century Run – where the combined age of biker and bike must be at least 100 years – across 290 kilometres, taking 11,5 hours with Mather consuming four-and-a-half litres of water.

Mather also boasts the 1910, 1912 and 1914 Triumphs in his collection but has selected his father’s old motorcycle, the 1955 Sunbeam, to display.

“This was seen as the ‘Rolls Royce’ of motorcycles back in the day but it was a bit of a disaster because it was built with incompatible materials so most of them were scrapped.”

This bike was one of three motorcycles Mather brought with him from Malawi in 1981 when his family emigrated to South Africa, the other two – a 1955 AJS and 1952 BSA – are still in his possession.

The 2018 edition is set to build on the success of 2017 with an even more action-packed line-up of entertainment, tasty cuisine, coastal bars and brilliant biking displays. Some of the highlights include:

  • Stunt shows and Powasol Enduro X in the Energy Zone Arena.
  • Top musical acts at the Jack Daniels Village Pier Rock Stage and Main Beach Stage.
  • Quality fashion shows and Miss South Coast Bike Fest™.
  • A range of food options in the pop-up food villages.
  • A selection of seaside bars.
  • Various parades and outrides including the mass ride.

All bikers and pillions are urged to pre-register online for #freefunseeker tickets which gives free access to the entire event precinct including the main stage featuring all the headline artist performances.

All non-biking pedestrians will be charged a nominal fee of R60 a day, which provides access to the event precinct including the three main beach festival stages, beachfront boulevard themed bars, street entertainment, demo rides, trader and expo zones, stunt shows, food courts, EnduroX staging arenas and all associated motorcycle enthusiast festival activations. For another R150, #fuelyourfun ticket holders can access the Main Beach Stage Golden Circle.

@scbikefest @SCBikeFest @sagmj

 

Images: Justin Klusener & Colin Windell

Road Impressions – Suzuki Ignis 1.2 GLX

Once upon a time, there was Mini. And Mini was good. It put a capital ‘F’ in the sheer fun of driving a car and then things – as they are wont to do – changed as vast volumes of makes and models poured into the market.

At the same time a changing world demanded more and more efficiency, less and less emissions and in order to service these demands, we entered the age of the ‘vanilla’ car where boring became (largely) the norm across the small and mid-range sectors.

Brief flashes of individualism did offer a firecracker spark in the darkness with imaginings such as the PT Cruiser, original Kia Soul (before it got all plump and rounded) and the Citroën Cactus.

And then, there is the Suzuki Ignis. Looks different, feels different and is, well…. #LikeNoOther …and sneaks past the being cute and brainless to being damn cute and a whole bunch of fun to be with.

It was first shown at the Paris Show in 2015 and then took a while to get to South Africa, during which time it picked up a runner-up slot in the World Urban Car Award and bucket loads of them were sold into crowded cities in Europe.

At just 3,7 metres long and 1,69 metres wide it is compactly proportioned without actually looking small and uncomfortable – in fact, interior space for occupants is quite generous unless you are planning on transporting the front row of The Cheetahs rugby team. The 180 mm ground clearance confirms it can also take on rural and unpaved roads with confidence.

The modular chassis underpinning the Ignis contributes to the crossover’s low mass, while also offering a rigid platform for the suspension. The result is enhanced ride comfort and engaging handling.

Powered by the K12M 1,2-litre four-cylinder engine, the Ignis benefits from a lightweight 850 kg kerb mass so the engine’s maximum power output of 61 kW at 6 000 r/min translates into a generous power-to-weight ratio of 71,65 kW/ton. The maximum torque output of 113 Nm is reached at 4 200 r/min.

The standard transmission is a five-speed manual design, driving the front wheels.

The Ignis sits on Suzuki’s latest-generation HEARTECTTM lightweight chassis. The modular platform is already a feature of the larger Baleno, and makes use of a high percentage of high-tensile steel that allows high levels of rigidity, while reducing overall mass.

The front suspension combines MacPherson struts and coil springs with gas-filled dampers and an anti-roll bar, while the rear set-up makes use of a torsion beam, combined with coil springs and an anti-roll bar.

Steering is a rack and pinion system with electric power assistance. The turning circle is 9,4 metres it runs on 15-inch alloy wheels with 175/65 R15 tyres standard.

The GLX feature piano black rims that I felt looked rather unattractive and contrasted heavily against the car, making them too much of a focal point. Chrome or silver would, I believe, look much better.

The Ignis is not meant to be a robot dragster so the move from zero to 100 km/h takes a fairly leisurely  11,8 seconds, while top speed is 161 km/h. Combined cycle fuel consumption figure averaged 5,6 l/100 km in the case of my test unit.

The luggage compartment offers 260 litres of cargo space, expandable to 469 litres with the rear seatback folded flat.

Standard items include power windows, remote central locking, automatic air-conditioning, electric power steering and an MP3-compatible CD sound system with USB port and 12V accessory power socket. The GLX gets projector-type LED headlight designs with daytime running lights, while front fog lamps are incorporated into the integrated front bumper. The exterior mirrors include turn signal repeaters.

Driving ‘Iggy’ is fun. Not because it shred the tarmac or blitz past anything else on the road. No, it is fun because it is unpretentious, yet individual enough not to simply blend into the grey crowd of vanilla inching its way along the motorway.

It does not out handle everything on the road although, within the limitations of is design spec, it is competent enough whizzing around corners. In fact, I would like to see one fitted with 16-inch wheels or a different profile that would give it just that bit extra stability.

Like the Mini of old, the Ignis brings a sense of the mischievous – ready to dart into little gaps in the traffic and swoop into miniscule parking bays, leaving the bulky urban kerb crawlers to make their four or five point approaches.

The Suzuki Ignis is covered by a standard 5-year/200 000 km warranty, as well as a 2-year/30 000 km service plan. Services are at 15 000 km/12 month intervals.

Ignis is not nice; it is ‘lekker’ – and again, #LikeNoOther.

Road Impressions – Lexus NX300 F-Sport

There is little doubt the song of the open road – be it heavy metal, rock, blues, pop or nature’s own orchestral manoeuvres – are best appreciated while plumped in a form-fitting seat atop a finely tuned suspension and propelled by enough power to handle everything asked.

The Lexus NX does just that. I am, however, just that ‘old school’ enough to still believe if I intend driving really quickly my butt should be mere centimetres from the road rather than reaching for clouds – in fact, old school enough to question why anyone would want an SUV capable of 200 km/h.

Sure, it is a thing – there is the brutal Jeep SRT and Range Rover’s Sport – but the marriage of good off-road capability and sports type speed has me flummoxed. True, almost none of the trick SUV’s ever find themselves outside of an urban environment, but that is not the point.

To be fair, the Lexus NX handles both good tarmac and smooth dirt roads with aplomb and it is difficult to find fault with its handling on either surface even when pressed beyond the limits likely to be achieved by Joe Average.

The Lexus NX was Lexus’ first foray into the compact premium SUV market. Featuring an unmistakeable angular design language, with strong body lines and prominent contouring the NX is hard to miss in any playground.

Late last year all models received front styling refinements, with new headlamps, a bold new front grille utilising a chrome frame, altered side grille, bumper and lower bumper elements.

At the rear, came new LED combination lamps. The rear bumper and license plate garnish have also gone under the surgeon’s knife and tie in with the overall design theme.

In F-Sport guise, the spindle-grille ‘frame’ is finished off in a ‘black chrome’ effect, which ties in with the dark ‘F-mesh’ grille.

The brushed-aluminium-effect lower apron, which runs the full length of the front, creates a sporty appearance and ties all the frontal design elements together. Graphite-coloured vent trim on the edges of the bumper accentuate the powerful stance and F-Sport identity.

 As part of Lexus’ global strategy, the ‘200t’ moniker (signifying a 2,0-litre turbo-charged engine) was been replaced by ‘300’. The 300 badging bears reference to offering an equivalent power output to that of a 3,0-litre powerplant – this has been adopted to achieve parity between the petrol  and hybrid engine models’ badging convention.

As such, the badging changed to NX 300 in E, EX and F-Sport iterations respectively.

 The F-Sport as tested is delivered with the all-wheel drive configuration and 6-speed automatic transmission to serve the 2,0-litre turbo-charged ‘4-pot’ engine – offering 175 kW with 350 Nm on tap between 1 650 r/min and 4 000 r/min.

The engine utilises a combination of port and direct injection (known as D-4ST) along with Variable Valve Timing intelligent Wide (VVTi-W), to optimise combustion in the pursuit of both power and efficiency. The twin-scroll turbo-charger delivers a wide-spread of torque assisting with acceleration.

It runs an 8,4 second sprint to 100 km/h and is capable of 200 km/h. In Eco mode, the overall fuel consumption could be squeezed to below 9,0 l/100 km, pushing up to over 10 l/100 km when in press on mode in Sport or Sport+.

My test average (combining all modes) came to 9,7 l/100 km, making it competitive with its peers in the marketplace.

Compared to the previous version, the upgrades to the suspension provide a much firmer and stable ride with less body movement.

Refinements include a new calibration for the rear stabiliser bar and stabiliser-bar bushing, as well as new front dampers with reduced friction, while the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) on F-Sport has been upgraded to the latest iteration, borrowed from the LC premium sports coupé.

F-Sport has a unique suspension calibration and alloy wheel design. Rear stabiliser-bar stiffness on the refreshed NX, has been increased by 22% in order to suppress roll angle and optimise vehicle turning posture.

Specification upgrades on the F-Sport brought in dynamic headlamp levelling, chrome steering switch accents and aluminium detailing on the instrument cluster.

A key feature is the new 10,3-inch display audio screen (previous 7-inch) with enhanced graphics and clarity and the button design has been modernised while the analogue clock redesigned with increased contrast between the hands and background for ease of viewing. The clock is now linked to the GPS function, so the time is set automatically.

I am not a huge fan of the finger operated ‘mousepad’ and found making changes involved too much time with eyes off the road to ensure accurate placement of the cursor. Admittedly, I had the car only a week and in all likelihood, this operation would become more intuitive over time, with most owners making fewer changes than someone trying to investigate every feature does.

The usual comprehensive active safety systems are of course on-board and include anti-lock braking, EBD, Brake Assist, Traction Control, Enhanced VSC, Hill-start Assist, Trailer Sway Control. Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA).

Lexus prides itself on ‘what you see is what you get’ with no lengthy list of costly options to bring the base car up to a decent spec but, what is missing from this package – in a car costing R786 600 – are Adaptive Cruise Control and auto dimming headlights.

All Lexus NX models come with a 4-year/100 000 kilometre warranty. F-Sport also gets the Distance Plan Complete (full maintenance plan), all over a 4-year/100 000 kilometre period.