Qashqai gets Connect 2.0

Once upon a time a new car launch or model upgrade was all about the engine, the power and the handling but, in this modern digital world ‘connectivity’ takes centre stage – as it does with the refreshed Nissan Qashqai range now with NissanConnect 2.0.

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Nissan South Africa has this to say about it: “NissanConnect is an advanced infotainment system that enhances the relationship between you and your vehicle through the seamless and intuitive integration of your smartphone with your Qashqai. With a host of features that make every day commuting and communicating even more of a breeze, the NissanConnect 2.0 infotainment system now allows you to connect and interact with your car like never before.”

In terms of the car upgrades – the range now gets Intelligent Forward Emergency Braking, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Blind Spot Warning and Intelligent Cross Traffic Alert; features previously available only on the Tekna derivative.

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The Tekna is also upgraded and now offers a CVT (continuously variable transmission) along with Intelligent Around View Monitor, Intelligent Moving Object Detection and On-Board Navigation.

The refreshed range now boasts a streamlined five-model range, with NissanConnect 2.0 and NIM features as standard from the Acenta grade upwards. Prices for the latest Nissan Qashqai, with NissanConnect 2.0, start at R358 100.

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NissanConnect 2.0 comes standard with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well as a rear-view camera, which allows for safer, more confident parking and helps avoid unwanted scratches and dents on the rear bumper.

First for Continental Tyre SA

The growing popularity of SUV-style vehicles and larger option tyres have led to a South African first for Continental Tyre SA, which has now produced its first 19-inch tyre.

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Previously the Continental Tyre plant in Port Elizabeth had the capacity to manufacture up to 18-inch tyre sizes, with the launch of the 19-inch General Grabber AT3 all-terrain tyre representing a significant achievement for the domestic operations.

“Local production of the first-ever 19-inch tyre in the Port Elizabeth plant opens the door for our further expansion in the crucial replacement tyre business, and prepares Continental Tyre for new opportunities in the 19-inch original equipment business,” says Shaun Uys, MD of Continental Tyre SA.

“In the past, we had to import these tyres from other plants around the world. By producing them locally we are bolstering our manufacturing capacity, improving our economies of scale, and are able to respond to growing customer demand for the larger-diameter tyres, specifically in the increasingly popular sport utility vehicle segment,” Uys adds.

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The original concept for local production of the 19-inch tyre was born at the Port Elizabeth plant in 2017, and presented to management during the Plant Operations Review towards the end of the year.

Following the extensive global and local approval processes, the ordering and introduction of the necessary tooling for stock preparation, tyre building and final finish followed. The first experimental tyre was built in early 2019, and mainstream production of the new 255/55 R19 Grabber AT3 commenced in the second quarter, with volumes steadily increasing to satisfy the growing customer demand.

The General Grabber AT3 all-terrain tyre was developed to meet the needs of sport utility, light commercial and off-road vehicle drivers who require a combination of exceptional off-road capabilities and confident on-road manners. This innovative new tyre size is ideally suited to a wide range of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) fitted with large diameter lower-profile 19-inch tyres as original equipment, including the likes of the BMW X5, Ford Everest, Land Rover Discovery, and Mercedes-Benz GLE.

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The pattern design achieves exceptional off-road grip through gripping edges that interlock with loose surfaces. The open tread ensures efficient self-cleaning action for added traction in mud.

Tread with robust compound and reinforced blocks ensures a long tyre life even in rugged terrain. Moreover, it delivers confident stability under all approved load conditions with ultra-high strength steel belts.

Uniform block geometry for even material distribution and optimised tread block orientation for a smooth interaction with the surface: both features allow a considerably comfortable and pleasant on-road drive in an all-terrain tyre line.

 

Africa flexes automotive muscle

Africa is beginning to flex its automotive muscle and the past year has seen significant activity by some local automakers to involve themselves in the growing new market – Volkswagen, in particular, has been active and then are developments such as the planned Peugeot assembly operation in Namibia.

To capitalise on, and co-ordinate, this growth, Kigali, Rwanda has been identified as the host for the inaugural annual African Automotive Manufacturing Symposium aimed at facilitating the development of an intra-African automotive manufacturing supply chain.

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This ministerial level symposium, which is endorsed by the African Union, will facilitate outcomes based dialogue between key role-players concerned with Africa’s automotive industrialisation and the journey towards sustainable economic growth.

Organisers have confirmed the event will take place over two days at the Kigali International Convention Centre in Rwanda, on July 22-23, 2020.

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Inkanyezi Events Pty Ltd CEO, Andrew Binning said the symposium was unique in its focus on actual automotive manufacturing.

“The rise of income levels in many African countries and the emergence of a middle class makes Africa the final frontier for the global automotive industry.

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“What is essential is regional integration is developed to ensure manufacturing capability and jobs are created in African countries and the continent is the beneficiary of this market opportunity and not simply a dumping ground for used, or cheap imported vehicles,” he says.

“Trade and Investment Ministers from relevant African countries will present their policies, goals and plans for the future of the automotive and manufacturing industry;  while automotive and investment organisations will share ways in which they would support these plans”

The symposium is set to become a highlight on the African trade calendar from its inaugural edition in Rwanda  and could rotate to other African host countries. The symposium and networking engagements are the key features of the event but premium exhibition space is also available.

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Binning said interested manufacturers, material providers, service companies, support and funding agencies should contact the organisers for opportunities to reach the African manufacturing collective.

“The African Free trade Agreement and the widely accepted benefits of regional integration, synergy and intra-African trade position this high-level inter-ministerial symposium to produce a collective understanding around how participating countries and their industries, with support of global automotive manufacturers and funding partners, can benefit and contribute,” says Binning.

AU Trade and Investment Commissioner Albert Muchanga said the AU had prioritised regional development.

“The unit is promoting regional value chains particularly the development of the automotive industry, which has the ability to contribute to the employment and structural growth challenges of the continent.”

Jaguar F-Type revised and boosted

Jaguar designers have sharpened their pencils to come up with a styling revise for the new F-Type and, where the original paid homage to the old E-Type, the new look firmly establishes the ‘F’ with unique looks of its own.

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The range of engines includes four, six and eight-cylinder options, all matched to eight-speed Quickshift transmissions with full manual control using either the SportShift gear selector or the steering wheel-mounted paddles.

The new F-Type also offers more driver-focused technology, including a reconfigurable, high-definition, 12,3-inch TFT instrument cluster, Touch Pro infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard and software-over-the-air functionality so future software updates can be made at the customer’s convenience without having to visit a Retailer. Two Meridian sound systems also offer enhanced sound reproduction.

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Julian Thomson, Design Director, Jaguar, says: “Design the most beautiful sports car, with purity, proportion and presence that is unmistakably Jaguar: that was the challenge we set ourselves. The new F-Type is more dramatic than ever, with even greater clarity of purpose in every line, surface and feature, and embodies true Jaguar design DNA.

“State-of-the-art technologies together with luxurious materials and finishes deliver beauty with purpose in an interior which will delight driver and passenger alike even before the engine starts and the journey begins. Jaguar has been making sports cars for more than 70 years, and that rich heritage has inspired the team to create something truly extraordinary.”

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Super-slim pixel LED headlights (only on Type R versions) with subtly updated signature ‘Calligraphy’ J daytime running lights and sweeping direction indicators, blend into the ‘liquid metal’ surfacing of the new clamshell bonnet, exaggerating the car’s visual width and accentuating its stance. The new front bumper and subtly enlarged grille deliver even more visual impact and presence.

The rear haunches are inspired by the Jaguar I-Pace all-electric Performance SUV, with subtle monogram pattern detailing and a fine ‘pinstripe’ beneath.

The interior combines traditional Jaguar craftsmanship with rich, contemporary materials such as Windsor Leather and satin-finish Noble Chrome. Details include monogram stitch patterns in the seats and door trims, Jaguar Leaper motifs in the headrests, and subtle ‘Jaguar Est.1935’ markings on the centre console finisher, glovebox release button surround, and seatbelt guides.

All engines – 22 1kW turbo-charged four-cylinder, 280 kW supercharged V6 and 423 kW V8 – feature active exhaust systems, which are switchable either as an option or as standard. Customers who choose the 423 kW supercharged V8 benefit from the new Quiet Start function, which ensures a more subtle, refined sound – the electrically-actuated bypass valves in the rear silencer remain closed until they automatically open up under load. If desired, Quiet Start can be over-ridden by selecting Dynamic Mode or by pressing the switchable exhaust button before starting the engine.

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The distinctive crackle and pop on the overrun synonymous with F-Type, remains, the sounds meticulously tuned to suit the range of engines. Highly efficient, close-coupled particulate filters reduce emissions.

“The new F-Type is the definitive Jaguar sports car and continues to set the benchmark for design purity, driver engagement and reward, and a truly visceral driving experience – it makes every journey extraordinary,” says Alan Volkaerts, Vehicle Line Director, Jaguar F-Type

“Its timeless looks are more assertive than ever, technologies such as the high-definition virtual instrument cluster deepen the driver-focused feel of the interior, while the range of powertrains offers a breadth of choice unrivalled in the segment. Enthusiasts will appreciate the new F-Type R’s 423 kW supercharged V8, enhanced chassis and intelligent all-wheel drive system, which deliver truly outstanding performance in all conditions while retaining its inherent tractability and usability.”

Raising the output of the all-wheel drive F-Type R’s supercharged V8 to 423 kW and 700 Nm (up from 405 kW and 680 Nm respectively) comes with a comprehensively uprated chassis with new, wider, 20-inch, 10-spoke wheels in Gloss Black with diamond-turned finish and new adaptive dampers, springs, anti-roll bars and stiffer rear knuckles and ball joints.

The F-Type range will be introduced to sub-Sahara Africa next year and will consist of:

F-Type R-Dynamic Coupé and Convertible:

  • 221 kW 2,0-litre four-cylinder; Quickshift RWD

280 kW 3,0-litre V6; Quickshift; RWD

F-Type First Edition Coupé and Convertible:

  • 280 kW 3,0-litre V6; Quickshift; AWD

F-Type R Coupé and Convertible:

  • 423 kW 5,0-litre V8; Quickshift AWD

Tough choice for SA Car of the Year

With 14 vehicles having been selected as finalists in the South African Car of the Year competition, the task of selecting one overall winner is not going to be an easy one and, for the first time in the long history of the event one manufacturer – Toyota – has three nominated finalists.

The cars can also win one of seven categories: Family, Leisure, Lifestyle, Premium Car, Premium SUV, Sport/Performance or Urban.

The most hotly contested category is Leisure, with four finalists: the Peugeot 5008, Toyota RAV4, Citroën C3 Aircross and Volkswagen T-Cross. The Premium SUV category is also well populated, with three finalists: the BMW X5, Jaguar I-PACE and Mercedes-Benz GLE.

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Peugeot 5008

There are two finalists in the Urban and Family categories. The Hyundai Atos and Suzuki Swift Sport are fighting it out for laurels in Urban while the Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla Hatch are going tooth and nail for top honours in the Family category.

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Suzuki Swift Sport

There is one finalist in each of the remaining three categories: the BMW 3 Series is the finalist in the Premium Car category, the Sports/Performance category has the Toyota GR Supra as its finalist and the Ford Ranger Raptor is the sole finalist in the Lifestyle category.

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Toyota Supra

A win in the prestigious 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year competition will be significant for all of the brands involved in the contest. For some of the finalists to win, it would really be one for the history books.

Citroën, for instance, has yet to win South Africa’s most sought-after motoring accolade – and the timing could not be better, given the fact that the French manufacturer has just re-entered the South African market.

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Citroen C3 Aircross

Suzuki did exceptionally well in the 2019 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year, with its Swift and Jimny winning their categories (Urban Compact and Lifestyle Utility respectively). However, it has never notched up an overall win. An electric car and a bakkie have never won the competition either, meaning an I-PACE or Raptor victory will be truly momentous.

According to Vivien Natasen, chairman of the 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year competition and honorary secretary of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (which organises the competition), there are some really strong contenders in this year’s contest.

“Right now, there is no clear front runner, it anyone’s guess as to which car will win,” he notes.

AutoTrader CEO, George Mienie, reveals members of the public would like to see a win by the Mazda3.

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Mazda CX3

“It triumphed in the consumer vote, where we had hundreds of thousands of votes. The consumer votes act as the 28th Juror in the competition. Mazda’s last win was back in 2008, with the Mazda2 1.5 Individual – so it will be interesting to see if this Japanese company can take top honours,” he comments.

Mienie adds that fellow Japanese automaker, Toyota, has good odds for a possible win.

“Toyota is the only company with three finalists in the 2020 competition,” he points out.

Toyota notched up two overall wins in the 1980s – the Toyota Corolla Twin Cam won in 1986 and the Toyota Corolla GLi Executive took the title in 1989. However, a win has proved elusive for the company since then.

The next step in the 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year journey is the track and road testing of the finalists in March 2020 by 27 of South Africa’s top motoring journalists. The category and overall winners will be announced at an event hosted by AutoTrader in April 2020.

 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year Finalists

BMW 3 Series

BMW X5

Citroën C3 Aircross

Ford Ranger Raptor

Hyundai Atos

Jaguar I-PACE

Mazda3

Mercedes-Benz GLE

Peugeot 5008

Suzuki Swift Sport

Toyota Corolla Hatch

Toyota GR Supra

Toyota RAV4

Volkswagen T-Cross

2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year Finalists by Category

 

Family

Mazda3

Toyota Corolla Hatch

Leisure

Citroën C3 Aircross

Peugeot 5008

Toyota RAV4

Volkswagen T-Cross

Lifestyle

Ford Ranger Raptor

Premium Car

BMW 3 Series

Premium SUV

BMW X5

Jaguar I-PACE

Mercedes-Benz GLE

Sports/Performance

Toyota GR Supra

Urban

Hyundai Atos

Suzuki Swift Sport

Market continues to contract

The South African economy is contracting and slowing down with the effects being felt in every single sector – the most important barometers of the nation being the Ctrack Transport and Freight Index and the monthly vehicles sales reported by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA).

The Index continues to reflect the slowing nature of the South African economy and all logistics sub sectors measured in South Africa, except road freight, recorded declines between August and October 2019 compared to the same three months in 2018.

Concerns must be mounting in boardrooms across the country as the economy struggles with slowdowns in manufacturing, mining and retail.

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NAAMSA said the overall new vehicle market declined further in November 2019 and Domestic sales figures, particularly in commercial vehicle sales, had been disappointing. However, passenger cars sales, with strong support provided by the car rental industry, showed a welcome uptick.

It confirmed aggregate domestic new vehicle sales, at 44 738 units, reflected a decline of 2 740 units or 5,8% from the 47 478 vehicles sold in November last year. Although monthly export sales had registered a marginal decline during the month, a new annual record had been set with still one month to go until year-end.

Overall, out of the total reported industry sales of 44 738 vehicles, an estimated 35 168 units or 78,6% represented dealer sales, an estimated 15,9% represented sales to the vehicle rental industry, 3,1% to industry corporate fleets, and 2,4% to government.

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The November 2019 new passenger car market registered a modest but welcomed increase of 392 cars or 1,3% to 31 444 units compared to the 31 052 new cars sold in November last year. The car rental industry once again supported domestic volumes, accounting for a substantial 21,9% of new cars sales in November 2019.

Domestic sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and minibuses at 10 679 units during November 2019 showed a decline of 3 038 units or a fall of 22,1% from the 13 717 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month last year.

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Sales in the low volume medium and heavy truck segments of the industry both performed weaker during the month and at 733 units and 1 882 units, respectively, reflected a decline of 60 vehicles or a fall of 7,6%, in the case of medium commercial vehicles, and, in the case of heavy trucks and buses, a decline of 34 units, or a fall of 1,8% compared to the corresponding month last year.

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Road freight, the largest sector in South Africa by volume and value, increased 1% during the period from August to October 2019 versus the same time in 2018.

Short distance transport volumes of retail goods and FMCG are still expanding, while the continuous shift to online shopping is helping parcel delivery volumes. Black Friday and Cyber Monday propped up this category.

However, the strongest road freight income growth has come from the small furniture transport sector, which may have to do with emigration and families moving to more secure locations – even while home sales remain subdued.

Off the rails

Rail freight volumes declined -1,8% between August and October 2019 compared to the same period in 2018, which indicates primary mining products are not being exported or used as much.

Furthermore, metal products have seen the largest decrease as a few medium-sized firms have closed in the last 12 months. The decline in metal products income in nominal terms was -6% and, although not all of this was in the rail sector, the knock-on effect to mining would have hurt the rail freight industry.

Air and sea freight volumes declined by -2,4% and -3,4% respectively between August and October 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. This reiterates the impact of a weak global economy and the trade war between China, the world’s largest manufacturer and the USA, the world’s largest consumer. Bulk commodity and container shipping are also in decline.

But, by far the worst performing sub sector has been storage. Manufacturers and internal traders are keeping stocks low as they expect trading conditions to worsen. Both the ABSA PMI and the Trade Activity Index from SACCI, show that role-players are concerned about the strength of the economy.

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Added to this is the decline in the international storage of containers transhipped in South African ports. Transhipments declined a massive -19,3% between August and October 2019 versus the same period a year ago. While big shifts are not uncommon in the storage sector, it is concerning when all categories in this subsector are so negative.

The total decline of -14,3% in the amount of goods warehoused between August and October 2019 compared to the same period last year, is a relative indicator of the poor confidence that firms have of short-term economic performance.

Thankfully, interest rates are lower than before and are likely to drop further, reducing the cost of storage. Moreover, the shift to online shopping means that at least from that perspective (albeit small) the warehousing sector has a few positives to draw from.

However, the biggest factor in the broader logistics sector is the lack of confidence that goods will be sold relatively quickly, and that quick refilling of shelves will have to take place.

Retail price increases have remained below overall consumer price adjustments for about four years. In fact, retail prices have not increased over 3% for more than three years consecutively. This best reflects the fight that exists for the consumer’s pocket.

“In tough economic times, the cost of operating fleets can become a very difficult task,” says Hein Jordt, MD of Ctrack SA. “The need to provide competitive rates, while part of a fleet is not moving, presents transport and freight companies with additional challenges.

“The trends presented in this month’s Freight and Transport Index show government must look even closer at the supply chain industry and support transport and freight companies with cost-effective road regulation policies.

“Improved safety measures and economic policy that supports efficiency improvements, in conjunction with well-planned integration with our country’s transport and economic infrastructure, will allow us to be competitive in the global logistics market.”

Table: The Ctrack Transport and Freight Index numbers % change

Percentage Change between Rail Road Pipeline Sea Air Storage & Handling Ctrack   Transport  Freight Index
               
October: 2019 vs October 2018 -2,4% -0,2% -9,8% -1,7% -4,5% -14,3% -3,3%
August – October 2019 vs August – October 2018 -1,8% 1,0% -7,1% -3,4% -2,4% -14,3% -2,6%
               
September 2019 vs October 2019 -0,3% -1,1% 2,8% -3,6% -4,2% -0,1% -1,1%
August – October 2019 vs May – July 2019

 

 

-4,6% -2,5% -8,7% -6,5% 1,0% -4,9% -3,6%

Venue – a place to be

Considering the global growing trend to eschew sedans and even hatchbacks in favour of SUV-styled transport, it is hardly surprising automakers are rushing to have a player in every price category – the latest starter on the local scene being the three-derivative Hyundai Venue.

The Venue comes in as a small SUV to compete against Ford’s EcoSport, Renault Captur and the Volkswagen T-Cross, bringing with it competitive pricing and high specification levels.

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However, to compete in this winner-take-all market, car makers have to also apply some lateral thinking in order to step to the left of the boring sameness that often characterises a crowded market segment and, with the Venue, Hyundai has achieved this – the cascading grille and split front lights giving the little car huge presence and, for my money, one of the most attractive designs on the market at the moment.

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Venue is an odd name for a car but it was not the original chosen by the Koreans. The original name is unimportant, the reason it changed is because it was hugely offensive in another language, so in comes Venue selected because the company is touting this car ‘as the place to be’.

It is offered in Motion, Fluid and Glide specification grades, with all models powered by Hyundai’s 1,0-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine. Producing 88 kW and 172 Nm in all versions, the engine can be mated to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DCT dual-clutch automated transmission.

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The engine is same unit as fitted to the Kona that was launched last year and, considering its mere 998 cc, is surprisingly peppy, especially in the manual version, and will hold its own quite easily on the freeway.

Measuring 3 995 mm in length and 1 770 mm in width, the Venue is one of the smaller offerings in its class although it does offer 350 litres of boot space. Hyundai engineers reduced the thickness of the front seat backrests to improve rear passenger knee room – this works on on my brief test drive did little to reduce the comfort of the driving position.

The Motion model is the baseline, coming in at R274 00 and offers manual air-conditioning, remote central locking, a conventional four-speaker radio with Bluetooth connectivity, multi-function steering wheel, on-board computer, power windows and mirrors, dual front crash bags, ESP stability control and anti-lock brakes, riding on 15-inch steel wheels. (all models have a space-saver spare).

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The mid range Fluid adds 16-inch alloy wheels and chrome grille trim to the features list, along with a touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, rear park assist with reverse camera, cruise control, auto headlights, partial leather seats, side and curtain crash bags and a rear demister and wiper.

The Glide, which is only available with the auto transmission, tops the range gaining dual-zone climate control, push-button start, fog lights and a black roof.

While Hyundai does expect some impact on sales in the more traditional passenger segment, the Venue is designed very much with female buyers in mind – the designer, after all, is a woman, Juhyun Ho and she says: “We very much wanted the car to be a safe space with mutli-functional capability from transport to work and back, fetching the kids from school and going shopping. At the same time we wanted it to be fun and trendy.”

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All versions are sold with a 5-year/150 000 km warranty (with 2-year/50 000 km powertrain extension) and a 3-year/45 000 km service plan.