New Kuga launched

Ford Motor Company South Africa has released the new Kuga locally in an initial seven-model lineup with three engine options.

“We are thrilled with the new Kuga offering,” says Tracey Delate, General Marketing Manager, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “With stunning new design inside and out, smart technologies, fuel-efficient yet powerful engines, and five-star safety, it’s a vehicle that will stand out for our customers.”

Buyers have the choice of two petrol engines in the 1,5-litre and 2,0-litre EcoBoost petrol units, as well as the 2,0-litre TDCi turbo-diesel engine. Depending on model, there is the option of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive models and manual or automatic transmissions.

As before, three specification levels are available, starting off with the value-oriented Ambiente, the mid-level Trend and the range-topping Titanium.

The new Kuga features Ford’s latest design language shared with other Ford SUVs. Its large upper trapezoidal grille and a smaller lower grille are flanked by new headlamps complemented by fog lamps.

At the rear, the Kuga’s stance is emphasszed by the redesigned light clusters and new tailgate design, along with the purposeful twin exhausts. A new range of standard and optional alloy wheel designs are available, spanning 17-inch to 19-inch sizes.

“We know from customer feedback and research vehicle design and style are key factors in the car buying decision process,” Delate says. “In many cases, it’s actually the top consideration which is why we’re particularly excited about the new Kuga. In addition to being a very capable, functional SUV with a fantastic suite of smart technologies, it’s also a vehicle that will turn heads wherever it’s driven.

“Our designers went to great lengths to ensure the vehicle and its many different features, large and small, are smart yet provide welcome benefits to even daily routines,” Delate adds. “The Hands-Free Power Tailgate, for example, is something customers have really grown to appreciate. No matter what you might find filling your arms, from sports gear to shopping bags or a toddler or two, the Power Tailgate can make your life easier.”

Kuga drivers will find an array of  convenience features including ISOFIX anchorage-points, an electronic parking brake, improved storage in the centre console, as well as rear tray tables and rear air vents on the Trend and Titanium models.

The new Kuga offers up to 1 603 litres of cargo space with the rear stadium seating folded. In addition, the Kuga steering wheel and air-conditioning controls operate through fewer and more easily distinguishable buttons and switches, making the controls easier to recognise and navigate.

All Kuga automatic models include paddle-shift controls that enable drivers to manually select gears, adding to Ford’s fun-to-drive ethos.

 The new Kuga will allow drivers to control audio functions plus connected smartphones using simple, more conversational voice commands, with Ford’s new SYNC3 connectivity system, which is standard on the Trend and Titanium derivatives.

SYNC3 with Navigation is optional across the Kuga range, featuring embedded navigation, which provides a full 3D experience with elevated map view, enhanced full colour graphics and point of interest (POI) building images. When driving, the navigation map displays a raft of information, including the next manoeuvre, current speed limit, current GPS speed and a choice of estimated time of arrival, time to reach destination, or distance to destination plus highway services information such as rest stops and garages.

SYNC3 incorporates Apple CarPlay allowing drivers to make phone calls, access music, send and receive messages, get directions optimised for traffic conditions, and more while they stay focused on the road.

AndroidT users can activate Android AutoT, which makes apps and services that are already widely used accessible in safer and seamless ways in the Kuga, including Google Search, Google Maps and Google Play – both the Apple and Android apps available only when licencing for the Sub-Saharan region is finalised.

Standard safety features across the range include seven air bagsas well as anti-lock brakes with Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), Trailer Stability function, Hill Launch Assist and Rollover Mitigation.

An enhanced version of Ford’s Active City Stop with low-speed collision mitigation and avoidance has been introduced, which can be specified as with the Driver Assistance Pack available as an option on the Trend and Titanium models. This pack also includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Aid, as well as Advanced Active Park Assist.

The new Kuga now offers Perpendicular Parking functionality, in addition to the semi-autonomous Active Park Assist technology. Using additional ultrasonic sensors, Perpendicular Parking at the push of a button enables drivers to locate parking spaces alongside other cars as well as parallel to the road, and steers the vehicle into them while the driver controls the accelerator and brake.

 With the 1,5-litre EcoBoost engine, two output levels are offered, comprising a unit with 110 kW and 240 Nm of torque in the front-wheel drive six-speed manual derivative.

A 132 kW version is provided on the models equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission – available in front-wheel drive guise and with Ford’s Intelligent All Wheel Drive.

The petrol engine line-up is topped by the 2.0 EcoBoost, which produces 177 kW and 340 Nm, and is available exclusively with all-wheel drive and the six-speed torque-converter automatic.

For diesel fans, the impressive 2.0 TDCi turbo-diesel engine remains, producing 132 kW and a  400 Nm torque peak. Power is delivered to all four wheels through the PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmission.

 Recommended Retail Prices:

Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Ambiente 6MT FWD            R368 800

Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Ambiente 6AT FWD             R381 900

Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Trend 6MT FWD                   R406 400

Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Trend 6AT FWD                    R427 900

Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi Trend 6AT AWD                          R483 900

Ford Kuga 2.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6AT AWD              R497 900

Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi Titanium 6AT AWD                      R506 900

All models come standard with Ford Protect, including a four-year/120 000 km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A five-year/90 000 km service plan is included on the TDCi models, with 15 000 km service intervals. The petrol Kuga models have 20 000 km service intervals, and are sold with a four-year/80 000 km service plan.

 

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Road Impressions – BMW 520d M Sport Package

While one can understand executives want to feel…well, executive, and the visual statement of this is the large luxury company car, there is a question of practicality.

Given the conspiracy by architects to design underground parking bays in townhouse complexes and shopping malls with spaces barely wide enough to fit a motorcycle let alone a behemoth luxury vehicle, the pressure is mounting to go smaller in the city.

The BMW 520d is just such a car and, while its CO2 at 124 g/km does not impact the pocket greatly considering its R834 900 price tag, there is quite a hefty perks tax consideration.

Large used to be a requirement of luxury, but there are so many medium and small cars around today offering exactly the same levels of luxury, safety and driver convenience features.

Naturally there are counter arguments – the space is needed to transport business colleagues and/or family  and…well, that is where they kind of run out or, I cannot think of any more.

The BMW 520 is a big car, no question. However, it does not feel like a big car on the road and this, perhaps is a reason cars of this size still hold that popularity. It is easy to drive, easy to manoeuvre and, despite the attempts by the architects, easy to park.

In fact, the more I drove the car the more I became absorbed into that luxury cocoon and the more it became a natural experience as opposed to the feeling I was piloting the Queen Mary – it is a kind of insidious seduction, and we are not even close to the over-the-top levels of luxury of a 7-Series.

The 5-Series recently underwent an upgrade and specification tweak with  new functions and additional options in the areas of light technology, operation, comfort and connectivity.

The 2,0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine for the BMW 520d remained unchanged with 140 kW at 4 000 r/min and 400 Nm at 1 750 r/min returning an overall fuel consumption of 5,6 l/100 km. It rushes to 100 km/h in 7,5 seconds and has a top speed of 235 km/h and drives through an 8-speed Steptronic transmission.

Torque delivery is near instantaneous and delivered across a ridiculously wide rev range, providing a relaxed perambulation and effortless overtaking.

A 70 kg weight loss achieved thanks to the use of much more aluminium in key components such as body panels and suspension is responsible for reducing the 0-100km/h time by two-tenths to 7,5 sec.

However, this is the quietest I have ever experienced it, whether at start-up, idle or on the move; certainly an improvement on the previous 5-series. Road and wind noise kept well in check. Past the 2 000 r/min mark there is a touch of diesel clatter in normal drive mode but, click into Sport and this becomes more of an earthy (and pleasing) rumble.

The seventh-generation BMW 5 Series may not look all that different to the old one – a deliberate move translated into design speak as ‘evolutionary’ – and tweaks see the side bead line and rear Hofmeister kink in the C-pillar linked for the first time, the drag co-efficient drops to 0,24 thanks in part to auto-closing grille shutters and there are some very slight dimensional increases.

As with most BMW models, a genuine ‘base’ unit is hard to find and there are a host of option packages such as the Comfort Package that adds (must have) power boot lid, high-beam assist and heated seats for example.

The test unit came with the M Sport Package with mixed Run flat tyres on 19-inch wheels, electrically adjustable sport seats for driver and front passenger and M Sport suspension with Dynamic Damper Control.

There is a fully loaded i-Drive system with touchscreen, gesture control, touch pad and click-wheel operation along with 360deg surround cameras, hands-free parking, four-zone climate control, ‘Dakota’ leather seats, paddle shifters, adaptive LED headlamps and a sunroof.

Rear seating has been rejigged and the seat position is not as low as previously, enhancing headroom – leg and knee room remaining just what one would expect from a large luxury sedan.

On the road, the Comfort mode certainly does result in a bit more float and bounce at higher speeds – along with the nicety of the extra cushioning over rougher surfaces and around potholes. Sport tunes up the suspension and steering and makes the twisty bits a lot more fun, although having grown in size since the iconic E60 version, it is not quite the point-and-squirt it used to be.

However, it really is a luxury cruiser and most owners will not be trying to shave milliseconds off a time en route to the office.

If large luxury is the primary reason for purchase, the BMW 520d satisfies in all departments.

(images: BMW – spec may different to vehicle tested)

 

Road Impressions – Jeep Renegade 1.4 LT 4X4 Auto

With South Africa still in the grip of a recession – some of it a direct result of its own failings and some attributable to world events – the auto market is struggling to find any traction with numbers remaining down and growth for the year estimated at just one percent.

Inside of that, the SUV segment continues to hold strength and, in some months, show real growth and the reasons for this are fairly simple.

With many roads reduced to being just potholes held together by bits of tar, there is a real need for more robust motoring than offered by super low profile speedsters. Additionally, traffic congestion in the major metropolitan areas makes the raised seat height of the SUV – perceptually at least – a better option, especially for the Mom’s Taxi scenario.

Obviously, there are still those who buy 4X4 SUV models to use off the beaten track and fully to explore the capabilities of these as opposed to just doing a bit of kerb crawling in the suburbs.

Naturally, every automaker that can wants to play in this growing segment meaning buyers are exposed new and upgraded product on a regular basis.

The Jeep Renegade – for Jeep, the ‘small’ SUV – made its local debut some two years ago; so how has it stood up to the test of time?

Priced at R501 900 it comes up against the likes of the Audi Q3 1.4TFSi, Mazda CX-5 2.5, Peugeot 3008 1.6 GT-Line, Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 and Ford Everest 2.2 XLT auto, admittedly scoring the plus points of having full low-range off-road capability.

In terms of looks, the cut-from-a-brick shape of the Renegade prompts a yes/no response – yes you like it or no you do not. There is really no middle ground and placed in a lineup against its price opposition it does look positively Neanderthal.

However, it is an extremely practical shape and rear passengers especially do not have compromised headroom as a result of ‘coupé styling’ or other aesthetic tweaks. Equally, from the driver’s seat all corners of the vehicle are clearly visible, which is a necessity when actually going well off the road?

The Jeep Renegade was the first Fiat Chrysler Automobiles vehicle to be jointly developed by Italian and American designers and engineers and the first model in the brand’s history to be built in Italy, at the refurbished SATA plant in Melfi (Basilicata).

It also became the brand’s first entry into the Small SUV segment in more than 100 markets around the globe.

From any angle, it reveals the distinctive design cues of the brand’s stylistic heritage, such as round headlights, signature seven-slot grille and trapezoidal wheel arches.

The interior features a modern, refined look and major surfaces, such as the sculpted soft-touch instrument panel, are intersected with bold functional elements like the passenger grab handle – indispensable for off-road adventures and borrowed from its big brother, the legendary Jeep Wrangler.

The Renegade is designed with an efficient and flexible interior package that includes a fold-forward front-passenger seat and a removable, reversible and height-adjustable cargo load floor.

In addition to its 351-litres of storage or 1 297-litres with rear seats folded flat, the vehicle features as optional equipment a removable and reversible cargo floor panel. Maximising versatility is a fold-forward front seat that enables the new Renegade to accommodate long objects.

Onboard comfort and infotainment includes the UConnect system with 5-inch (a standard feature on all trim levels) or 6,5-inch touchscreen with navigation, Bluetooth with hands-free phone. The Jeep Renegade Limited features a 7-inch colour instrument cluster multiview display.

Safety and security includes six standard air bags, ESC with Electronic Rollover Mitigation (ERM), Parkview rear camera, Forward Collision Warning-Plus, LaneSense Departure Warning-Plus and Adaptive Cruise Control.

Power comes from a 1 368 cc engine producing 125 kW at 5 500 r/min and 250 Nm of torque at 2 500 r/min driving through a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Changing the drive mode is via a rotary dial on the console and shifting to 4H can be done on the fly.

The Renegade can also switch modes automatically as it encounters slippage from the primary driven front wheels.

Renegade features a unibody structure with the upper body and frame engineered as a single unit for a stiff and more mass-efficient structure. Its rigid foundation can be credited to the extensive use of high-strength steel and liberal use of structural adhesives. The new Small SUV utilizes approximately 70 % high-strength steel for maximizing vehicle dynamics and crash performance while optimising weight efficiency – the first Jeep vehicle to use high-strength steel to this extent.

Jeep Renegade is the first Jeep to integrate Koni’s frequency selective damping (FSD) front and rear strut system. In addition, the Koni FSD system actively filters out high-frequency suspension inputs from uneven road surfaces and adjusts for comfort and smoothness while maintaining ride control.

In terms of performance the Renegade averages 6,9 l/100 km, emits 160 g/km of CO2 and will run the 0-100 km/h in 8,8 seconds to a top speed of 196 km/h.

It offers a smooth ride, irons out the smaller potholes and remains mostly unflustered around the bends – an idea long-haul cruiser able happily to move off the tarmac when required.

It is price competitive with full-on 4X4s of a similar size. However, since the majority of buyers will not ever use that capability, one has to look at newcomers to the segment such as the Renault Duster offering all-wheel drive (albeit not low range) along with high levels of specification for a lot less.

The USD/Euro crosses do have a huge influence on the final pricing of imported vehicles but I do believe the Renegade needs to come in quite a lot cheaper to attract more buyers to what is a very capable car.

Does it stand the test of time. Absolutely.

 

Harsh inevitability

The inevitable is a harsh, and often, ugly thing and, faced with that pending prospect, petrolheads around the world are looking despairingly at the accelerating impetus of electrification.

Volvo made the first across the brand move by announcing all its new cars would feature some level of eletric power and now, Jaguar Land Rover has followed suit by putting 2020 as the date for some degree of eletric power on all its vehicles.

To add insult – as far as the petrolheads are concerned – to injury, Jaguar is re-creating the iconic E-Type once acclaimed by Enzo Ferrari as ”the most beautiful car in the world” as a fully electric entity called E-Type Zero.

I can understand why the original E-Type is the icon it is. As a self-confessed Jaguar fan I actually never liked the looks and with handling akin to that of a blacmange pudding, actively disliked the car. However, I feel as affronted as thousands of others at this pillaging of automtive history.

Really, Jaguar should have re-created the car with a rip-snorting V8 engine as its final ‘hurrah’ to the internal combustion engine.

Dr Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive Officer, says: “Every new Jaguar Land Rover model line will be electrified from 2020, giving our customers even more choice. We will introduce a portfolio of electrified products across our model range, embracing fully electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid vehicles.”

E-type Zero is based on a 1968 Series 1.5 Roadster and features a cutting-edge electric powertrain for 0-100 km/h in just 5,5 sec. It was engineered by Jaguar Classic at the company’s new Classic Works in Warwickshire, UK.

“With I-PACE we started with a clean sheet and engineered a bespoke, tailored, pure electric SUV from the ground up, creating a beautiful design with everyday practicality. It’s a performance SUV, it looks stunning, is great to drive and will be on sale next year,” he says.

The Jaguar FUTURE-TYPE is a vision for the car of 2040 and beyond. The fully autonomous virtual concept explores mobility for the connected world of tomorrow, where vehicles could be shared not owned.

“With Future Type’s interface, you can separately access your different digital orbits of work, family or play, dialling up what you do need, and dialling down what you don’t.

“At its heart is Sayer – the intelligent steering wheel that will revolutionise the way you live your life. Named after Malcolm Sayer, designer of the E-type, this steering wheel doesn’t just stay in your car – it lives in your home and becomes your trusted companion.

“Sayer is the first voice activated AI steering wheel that will be able to carry out hundreds of tasks. The advanced speech recognition software will allow it to answer your questions, connect you to the news, organise your travel and select your entertainment.

“Sayer knows what’s in your fridge and can even order your shopping or a pizza. You will never run out of milk again. It will be your go-to device. It is not just the ‘key’ to your car, it’s your membership card for our on-demand service club. A club which offers either sole ownership or the option of sharing the car with others in your community.

“For our customers, driving is about much more than getting from A to B. It’s about living life from A to Z. You will always be able to experience the sheer thrill of driving with the option to take the wheel. But this is a steering wheel like never before.”

Ian Callum, Director of Design, Jaguar says: “FUTURE-TYPE offers an insight into the potential for driving and car ownership in the future. It is part of our vision for how a luxury car brand could continue to be desirable, in a more digital and autonomous age,”

“Our FUTURE-TYPE Concept is an advanced research project looking at how we can ensure an on-demand Jaguar will appeal to customers in 2040 and beyond. Whether it’s commuting to work, autonomously collecting children from school or enjoying driving yourself on the weekend in the countryside, if there’s a choice of on-demand cars driving around city streets, we need to ensure customers desire our 24/7 service over our competitors.”

Jaguar Land Rover is already testing driverless cars in the real world. Autonomous Urban Drive can enable a vehicle to operate without a driver through a city, obeying traffic lights as well as negotiating T-junctions and roundabouts.

“Designed and developed in the UK, this research technology is already in use in a Range Rover Sport and takes us a step closer to achieving level four autonomy in Jaguar Land Rover’s future vehicles within the next decade,” says Speth.

“The new Range Rover Velar is designed to take you further. Enhance your life. It contains intelligent technology in the form of its quad core processor; the brains behind the beauty of the Velar.

“The Touch Pro Duo infotainment system incorporates two high-definition 10-inch touchscreens. We call this tailored technology Blade – your own digital butler. You can interact with your car from anywhere in the world. You can start it with your smartphone, lock or unlock it, locate it, check your fuel levels or even warm the cabin up before you get in.

Blade learns your daily drive, anticipates your needs, serves what you want, when you want it… but never intrudes.”

Fully electric automobiles is the inevitability. It is something we must accept and as much as I cry my petrolhead tears into my pretzels, I do understand it is the way of the future.

However, it is time to stop equating electric cars with ‘saving the planet’. While the end product may be mostly emission free, the production process still has a very long way to go and until this is entirely free of any emissions or harmful waste pre, during and post production the end product is not going to fix our environmental problems.

Hell, even horses are not entirely emission free!

That said, electric cars have madegreat strides in terms of practicality – and they still have a way to go!

The boring vanilla Nissan Leaf has got with the programme and the recently launched revise is a dynamic looking car that can be confidently taken onto public roads with the knowledge onlookers will not be snickering behind their hands as it passes.

“The new Nissan Leaf drives Nissan Intelligent Mobility, which is the core brand strategy for Nissan’s future,” says Hiroto Saikawa, president and chief executive officer of Nissan. “The new Nissan Leaf, with its improved range, combined with the evolution of autonomous drive technology such as ProPILOT Park, and the simple operation of the e-Pedal, strengthens Nissan’s EV leadership as well as the expansion of EVs globally. It also has core strengths that will be embodied by future Nissan models.”

The new Nissan Leaf offers a range of 400 km, allowing drivers to enjoy a safer and longer journey. The new e-powertrain gives the new Nissan Leaf 110 kW of power output and 320 Nm of torque, improving acceleration and driver enjoyment.

When activated, the car’s ProPILOT Park technology takes control of steering, acceleration, braking, shift-changing and the parking brake to automatically guide it into a parking spot. It enables the driver to park safely and simply, even when parallel parking.

The new Leaf’s revolutionary e-Pedal technology transforms the way people drive. It lets drivers start, accelerate, decelerate and stop by increasing or decreasing the pressure applied to the accelerator. When the accelerator is fully released, regenerative and friction brakes are applied automatically, bringing the car to a complete stop. The car holds its position, even on steep uphill slopes, until the accelerator is pressed again.

The new Nissan Leaf’s design includes a low, sleek profile that gives it a sharp, dynamic look. Familiar Nissan design features include the signature boomerang-shaped lamps and V-motion flow in the front. The flash-surface grille in clear blue and the rear bumper’s blue molding identify the car as a Nissan EV.

For customers who want more excitement and performance, Nissan will also offer a version with more power and longer range at a higher price in 2018 (timing may vary by market).

The new Nissan Leaf will go on sale in October in Japan. The model is slated for deliveries in January 2018 in the US, Canada and Europe. It will be sold in more than 60 markets worldwide.

Location package with matched HDRI

 

Land grab

Even in South Africa’s tough economic times the growth in the SUV market continues – as does the demand for tyres that equally meet requirements for top level on and off-road activity.

General Tire, a brand of Continental Tyre South Africa (CTSA), has launched its latest offerings in the form of  the all-terrain Grabber AT3 and the extreme-terrain Grabber X3.

The Grabber AT3 replaces the previous-generation Grabber AT, General Tire’s multiple award-winning tyre designed for all-terrain applications. Retaining the 50/50 on/off-road bias of its predecessor, the new AT3 was developed to meet the needs of sport utility vehicle (SUV), bakkie and off-road vehicle drivers who demand the combination of exceptional off-road abilities and confident on-road manners.

In the aggressive new Grabber X3, General Tire has a flagship mud-terrain tyre that delivers uncompromising off-road performance coupled with good on-road manners. Relying on its 80/20 off-road bias, the Grabber X3 employs bold styling, matched to exceptional performance and durability for conquering the most challenging 4×4 terrains.

“The launch of the all-new Grabber AT3 and X3 represents an exciting new chapter for General Tire in South Africa,” says Ryan Visagie, Product Communications Manager at CTSA.

“Offering the latest designs and technologies in their respective segments, both tyres further raise the benchmark in terms of capability and durability, building on General Tire’s proven performance, reliability and American heritage that spans more than 100 years.”

“As one of the leading contenders in the all-terrain replacement tyre category, the Grabber AT3 continues our proud legacy with superb all-round performance and dependability,” Visagie adds. “The Grabber X3, is an extreme-terrain tyre with several innovative features that ensure it excels in the harshest conditions such as mud, dirt and rocks.”

The impressive new AT3 and X3 join the existing Grabber GT, which is specifically designed for high-performance suvs. The GT delivers outstanding handling and braking performance on dry and wet roads, allied to high comfort and low noise levels.

The local General Tire line-up is further bolstered by the Altimax passenger car tyre range, comprising the Altimax Sport for precise handling and braking, along with the Altimax Comfort, which focuses on superb comfort, refinement and durability.

 The new AT3 features three innovative technologies developed to enhance all-round performance and durability: tracgen, duragen and comfort balance.

The standard Grabber AT3 tyre range is available in 13 sizes catering for 15 to 20-inch rim diameters. Later this year, the Grabber AT3 range will be bolstered with a further nine reinforced light truck (LT) offerings in 15-inch to 18-inch sizes, which are designed for heavy duty applications.

Compared to its highly-rated predecessor, the new Grabber AT3’s on and off-road performance has improved in several key areas, including noise levels and irregular wear. Traction in snow, muddy conditions and on wet grass has been improved, along with cut-and-chip resistance.

Designed to conquer the most demanding off-road terrains, the new Grabber X3 takes General Tire’s ‘Anywhere is Possible’ brand promise to new heights. Positioned as an extreme terrain offering, it is ideally suited to three of the most challenging off-road driving conditions, comprising mud, dirt and rock – hence the name, X3.

The Grabber X3 relies on an enhanced version of General Tire’s Duragen Technology, using a three-ply construction across the range. This guarantees exceptional durability and puncture resistance.

As with the Grabber AT3, the new Grabber X3 raises the bar in virtually every sphere of off-road performance, while on-road capability has been similarly improved.

The Grabber X3 is available in a total of five sizes encompassing 15-inch to 17-inch rim sizes.

All to play for

The 2017 South African Cross Country Series is rapidly heading towards its grand finale, with only two of the season’s six events remaining. With three crews in contention for championship glory, it is all to play for at the upcoming Sun City 400, based at the world-renowned resort in the scenic Pilanesberg.

Having scored a well-deserved debut victory last time out at the Harrismith 400, the Ford Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) Puma Lubricants crew of Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer managed to slash the points deficit to current log leaders Johan and Werner Horn (Malalane Toyota).

Woolridge and Dreyer are now just seven points adrift of the Toyota crew heading into the Sun City round. With that prized first win now in the bag, the Ford NWM young guns are more determined and motivated than ever to score maximum points once again as the tail end of the 2017 campaign looms ever closer.

Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable have scored podium finishes on all but the opening round in Lichtenburg, including a win at the Battlefields 400 and second place in Harrismith. This places them third in the championship with a seven-point deficit to Gareth and Boyd – thus making it a nail-biting three-way tussle for ultimate glory.

The third Ford NWM Puma Lubricants pairing of Henk Lategan and Barry White have shown remarkable pace in their first cross country season, although two non-finishes have hampered their challenge this year. Nevertheless, they are fourth in the points log, placed well ahead of far more experienced teams, and remain serious contenders for race victories.

The Ford NWM team heads to Sun City on a high, with the victory in Harrismith followed a couple of weeks later with their second consecutive win at the arduous Rally dos Sertões in Brazil.

With the local crew supporting the X Rally Team on the punishing seven-day 3 300 km event, Cristian Baumgart and co-driver Beco Andreotti took their second win in a row in the NWM-built and prepared Ford Ranger V8. Reinaldo Varela and Gustavo Gugelmin finished second overall in another NWM-built Ford Ranger run by South Racing, with the two Fords beating some of the highly favoured factory X-Raid MINIs – a proud achievement indeed for the Pietermaritzburg-based NWM team.

“It’s been an extremely busy but very rewarding couple of weeks for the NWM team, with our boys finishing one-two in Harrismith and then heading to Brazil for the Rally dos Sertões and achieving a double win plus two of our Rangers topping the podium,” says team principal Neil Woolridge.

“Back at home, the remaining crew has been working tirelessly to prepare all three Ford NWM Puma Lubricants Rangers for Sun City, and we are aiming to score maximum points in the last two rounds.

“The Sun City race has typically been a good one for us, having finished one-two there last year. It’s a really nice event, although the terrain is hard, rough and unforgiving,” Woolridge adds. “There has been good rain in the area so we’re expecting to have to contend with long grass, and the drivers will need to keep the cars on the road to avoid punctures.”

As per last year, there’s a 30 km liaison section between the event headquarters at Sun City and the start of the race close to the village of Tweelaagte. The sprint qualifying session takes place on Friday 15 September from 13:30, with the main race being flagged off at 08:00 on Saturday.

There are two laps of the race route with a compulsory 20-minute service in between. The spectator points are located within easy reach of the Sun City complex, and public entry to these areas is free of charge.

Cross country fans can follow the action live on the RallySafe app for Apple and Android devices. The app can be downloaded free of charge from the relevant app store, and enables enthusiasts to track the cars on a detailed map, download split times and access results.

Source: Colin Mileman

Less copper

Reducing heavy metal usage, notably copper, is the new target for the brake industry and Federal-Mogul Motorparts has jumped ahead of US legislation by introducing Ferodo Eco-Friction brake pads.

Formulated after five years of research, with 1 500 materials tested and the subsequent development of 25 new components, Ferodo Eco-Friction brake pads outperform local legislative requirements to minimise the use of copper. The result is less emissions, in addition to weight loss, less use of heavy metals, more stopping power, and the same outstanding performances as Ferodo Premier pads.

The extensive testing that underpinned the development of Eco-Friction was aimed at identifying an optimum formula that sustains the same binding effect as copper. Materials tested included metal sulphides, minerals, abrasives, fibres, ceramic particles, and various types of graphite. The main criteria for the testing were quality, safety, and performance.

Ferodo has introduced Eco-Friction ahead of the latest legislation passed in the states of Washington and California in the United States that stipulate the reduction of copper content in brake pads. The new technology focuses specifically on low- or zero-copper brake-pad formulations, reducing heavy metals and emissions.

Eco-Friction also comes with new packaging features, including anti-counterfeit protection, OEM-matched accessories, a product drawing on the reverse side, and a high-quality, top-opening design. In addition, the pads are shrink-wrapped, with new ECO markings, a leaf classification on the back of the box, and new fitting instructions for easier installation.