Do not miss this train

The gentle giant of Afrikaans rock is back with an unusually structured solo album. Piet Botha’s ‘Die Middernagtrein’ (The Midnight Train) is clearly a singular project even though the backing is provided by his regular cohorts from Jack Hammer.

It is also unusual in that all the songs have relatively few words but each one of those words is clearly supremely personal to Botha, and there is a vast range of complex emotions and feelings generated throughout each song and across the spectrum of the album.

It is not necessary to understand the words or know the meaning behind each song to be drawn into the emotion – and before this sounds like the whole package is music to commit suicide by, let us move on to the second part of the unusual.

The tracks themselves are not shortened by the words, and there is an ebb and flow of accoustic instrospection that builds to a head-banging rock crescendo with each track providing its own unique musical surprise.

Produced by Lanie van der Walt, who also adds his talent as a guitarist to that of Jacques Groenewald, Johnathan Martin, Gerry Robinson and the big man himself on his favourite accoustic guitar called Lucy or trademark pale blue Stratocaster.

Tertius du Plessis provides the bass with Paul van de Waal on drums and Leon van Zweel on saxophone.

“Hier gaan ons alweer
op daai middernagtrein
ek kry hom in Johannesburg
dan kry ek jou in Bloemfontein
vertel my dan van al jou drome
dan vertel ek jou van die hart van ‘n vrou…”

It is a showcase of the prodigious talent that is Piet Botha (and the rest of the guys) and deserves to be listened to again and again – very loud.



It’s just a jump to the left

For someone who grew up adoring the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT and the iconic Alfetta GTV6, the notion of these becoming a stand-tall SUV was about as unnerving as seeing an E-Type Jaguar morph into a F-Pace.

However, since change is probably the one true constant in life, the shifting needs of consumers currently dictates the SUV is the vehicle type of choice and, for automakers; it is simply adapt or die.

In the case of Alfa Romeo, this was probably a bigger decision than most. Following its heyday, which I believe ended with the GTV6, the company went into a slide and dished up some really crappy product before making a comeback with the 156 and then vanishing again to contemplate its own navel or whatever motor manufacturers do when they need to reinvent their own wheel.

Brilliantly, from this out pops the new generation Giulia. A true Alfa Romeo. Yippee Yay!

And this serves just to put even more pressure on the Stelvio, Alfa Romeo’s first SUV. Does it handle the pressure? An unqualified yes.

It is named after the Stelvio Pass, Italy’s highest mountain pass of some 20 km in length with more than 75 hairpin bends. Having had the opportunity to drive this pass, I can confirm it is a great test of the handling, poise and composure of any vehicle traversing the route.

To justify the name the Alfa had to produce all three of those characteristics in bucket loads as well as providing true Alfa sprint performance and top speed – and the Stelvio ticks all of those boxes.

In true Alfa Romeo tradition, the Stelvio delivers handling, worthy of a real sports car, balanced weight distribution, the most direct steering ratio in the segment and state-of-the-art suspension with the exclusive Alfalink technology.

The Stelvio offers the Alfa Romeo Q4 all-wheel drive system and can be optionally equipped with mechanical locking rear differential.

The Stelvio has a length of 4,7m, height of 1,7 m and width of 2,2 m, – big enough without being bulky and sleek enough in the design execution to look lower than it actually is.

Stelvio has a strong identity, built around select features, such as the Cloverleaf front, the dual sports exhaust tips and ‘Kamm tail’ styling at the rear.

It also ensures a high level of on-board comfort with the dual zone climate control system, the Alfa Connect infotainment system and an audio system, with 8, 10 or 14 speakers (in this case by Harman Kardon) depending on version.

Finally yet importantly, the 525-litre boot competes with the best in the segment and has a convenient electric tailgate that can be set with three different opening levels, directly from the Alfa Rotary selector.

Stelvio features a number of safety systems, available as standard and key amongst them is the Integrated Brake System (IBS), Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Brake with pedestrian detection, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) with Rear Cross-Path.

Under the bonnet is a 2,0-litre turbo-charged petrol engine featuring a power output of 206 kW and 400 Nm of torque. The 4-cylinder unit, built entirely from aluminium is combined with an 8-speed automatic transmission, driving a carbon drive shaft and Q4 all-wheel drive.

In addition to MultiAir electro-hydraulic valve actuation, the engine features ‘2-in-1’ turbo and 200-bar high-pressure direct fuel injection, delivering rapid accelerator response, powering from 0 to 100 km/h in 5,7 seconds, with a top speed of 230 km/h.

The 8-speed automatic transmission fitted to the Stelvio is specifically calibrated for fast, smooth gearshifts. The transmission has a lock-up clutch and, depending on the mode chosen with the Alfa DNA selector, the automatic transmission optimises fluidity, comfort and ease of driving in all environments, including around town and improves fuel economy and CO2 emissions. Steering-column-mounted, aluminium paddle shifters are available as standard.

Dynamic mode accentuates performance and handling with precise steering response and immediate braking; resulting in a sporty driving style. Natural mode is ideal for urban and highway driving with handling tailored for comfort and fuel economy. Finally, the Advanced Efficiency maximises energy savings and minimises emissions levels.

Achieving its surprisingly (for a SUV) good handling, a key factor is the weight distribution between the two axles – an Alfa Romeo tradition – requiring management of the weights and materials involved, achieved by adjusting the car’s layout and by placing the heaviest units in the most central position.

While I may not have the Stelvia Pass as a playground on the test, my usual route involves a reasonably useful climb with some fast sweeps and a couple of really tight turns that allow both braking performance and handling to be closely examined.

You know the old saying – if it looks like and Alfa, feels like an Alfa and sounds like an Alfa, it must be an Alfa.

The Stelvia turns in neatly, never feels top heavy as some SUVs do when in press on mode and, with both grip and drive from all four wheels, I battled to get it to become unsettled – and on dirt roads the ‘nanny’ systems allow quite a long leeway before kicking in so it can be induced into a slide when needed.

A double wishbone suspension with a semi-virtual steering axis sits up front and the rear suspension uses a four-and-a-half link system – patented by Alfa Romeo – to deliver precise control of the wheel’s characteristic angles.

The Q4 system continuously monitors numerous parameters to optimise torque distribution between the two axles according to what the car is doing and how much grip the road surface offers.

In normal grip conditions, the Stelvio with Q4 system acts like a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, with 100% of the torque sent to the rear axle. As the wheels approach their grip limit, the system transfers up to 50% of the torque to the front axle.

If this (along with the Giulia) are the ‘new’ Alfa Romeo, then I look forward to the next offerings.

All Alfa Romeo Stelvio’s feature a 3 year / 100,000 km Warranty and a 6 year / 100,000km Maintenance plan as standard.


Trauma specialists

The massive problem of rhino poaching in Southern Africa kills hundreds of these endangered animals each year and leaves more traumatised, bloody and barely alive after the horn has been savagely hacked off.

Established in 2012 by veterinarian Dr Johan Marais, Saving the Survivors’ main focus is caring for rhinos that have fallen victim to poaching and other traumatic incidents. Fulfilling its promise of ‘creating hope from hurt’, the project has directly saved more than 250 rhinos and indirectly it has saved hundreds more, via the training of other vets through its workshops.

After around 50-million years on the planet, the entire rhino species is on the brink of extinction. The latest estimate of the global rhino population is 15 000 White, 4 500 Black, 3 500 Indian, 67 Javan and less than 50 Sumatran. South Africa is home to 80% of the world’s remaining rhino population.

“We have lost more than 1 000 rhinos a year for five consecutive years, and 7 166 in total since 2005,” says veterinarian Dr Zöe Glyphis, who works alongside Dr Marais. “It is important to remember these stats do not include rhinos that are injured and only die at a later stage with their horns intact. It also does not include the unborn calves of pregnant cows.”

She goes on to explain rhinos in captivity live far longer than rhinos in the wild. The oldest known southern White rhinos on record were a bull named Charly and a cow named Macite, which both lived to the age of 53, in a German zoo and a New Orleans nature institute respectively.

“If poaching continues at the current rate, wild rhinos in South Africa will be extinct by 2030,” says Glyphis.

“A recent publication states we will lose one-third of all land mammals to extinction by 2050. Rhinos in captivity and private reserves, however, will probably survive just fine. Which is why secure sanctuaries and intensive protection zones for these animals are so vital.”

Saving the Survivors remains neutral on the pro/anti-trade argument.

“For the simple reason that there is no easy or quick solution to curb rhino poaching,” says Glyphis. “It is a multi-factorial problem that requires a multi-factorial solution. Our focus is on saving the rhino. To educate the public on the importance of taking ownership of our heritage, and understanding why we need survivors to be part of our future.”

Whilst the treatment of rhino poaching victims dominates most of their time, Saving the Survivors has also seen a spike in elephant poaching, so Glyphis says they anticipate treating more elephant patients in the near future.

“We have seen an increase in snaring cases as well,” she continues. “This is mainly lions, wild dogs, and leopards.” With the ever-present threat of viral diseases like rabies and distemper affecting wild carnivores, Saving the Survivors dedicates time to vaccinate these animals. Other routine work includes collaring and translocations of cheetahs and wild dogs.

“Unfortunately we see the results of some of the most ruthless attacks on our precious wildlife,” says Glyphis. “But as trained professionals, we are taught to put our emotions aside and get the job done; to do what’s best for the animal.”

She says they draw strength and encouragement from the team of incredible people who make up their support structure, and it is the success stories that ultimately make the most impact on all of them.

An important part of tending so closely to these survivors is the intense research that can be done. For instance, up until recently, very little was known about how to treat a rhino with such horrific injuries. It is now apparent that these animals have a very high pain threshold, and will carry on breeding as normal, whilst recovering from their injuries.

For almost 30 years, Ford has been actively involved in conservation efforts in Southern Africa. The Ford Wildlife Foundation (FWF), which was established in 2014, is privileged to be able to assist Saving the Survivors through the sponsorship of two Ford Rangers.

The team spends a lot of time on the road, attending to injured animals in their natural habitat. It is very stressful for wild animals to be captured and moved, and the success rates of the treatment procedures decrease dramatically if they are removed from their environment.

Watch Saving the Survivors at work here:


Road Impressions – Toyota Yaris 1.5 Sport

Longer, lower, wider! Sit in almost any vehicle launch media conference and the marketing litany will justify why the new model is bigger than the outgoing one – and all the time the John Cleese in me wonders if they wanted it that size, why not build it that way in the first place!

The Toyota Yaris kind of goes against this trend – from the start it was build in two sizes on different platforms – the smaller one to suit European markets and the larger for Eastern customers.

So, the ‘new’ Toyota Yaris is actually a switch by Toyota Motor in South Africa from the Euro platform to the Thai-built platform that adds 165 mm in length and 5 mm in width over the outgoing version.

The logic behind the switch is quite simple – although intended to be a contender in the ‘B’ segment of the local market, there was some perception (because of its size) the Yaris was an ‘A’ or entry level player and rather expesnive for that category.

Now, it is definitely positioned by dint of size in the correct place.

The Yaris was originally launched locally in 2005 and there have been four iterations of the compact city hatchback since then.

So, what does the increased size of the latest iteration really mean? For starters, it means increased interior space and a bigger luggage area but, the real bonus comes in the fact the car simply feels better on the road; more poised and offering improved overall ride comfort and handling.

Naturally, the revised car has picked up some styling tweaks and the front design gets sleeker headlamps, which flow smoothly towards the central focal point by ways of black ‘fins’ flanking the centrally-mounted Toyota emblem.

The headlamps themselves feature chrome inner accents, and a trapezoidal grille occupies the lower apron complete with honeycomb-patterned screen. The top corners house the Daytime Running Lights (DRL), visually aligned by a slim air aperture.

At the rear, aero stabilising fins have been incorporated into the rear light clusters, which enhance stability by controlling the airflow around the vehicle. The rear bumper design also includes aerodynamic fins to smooth airflow within the wheel housing and limit airflow into the rear bumper – in order to reduce aerodynamic drag and improve fuel efficiency.

Inside, a cigar-shaped upper dashboard design creates a sense of width complemented by the metal accents that surround the air vents. The ‘hang-down’ section features a prominent silver frame, which tapers inwards to create a multi-dimensional look and feel.

Powering the Yaris is a 1,5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. Utilising dual VVT-i and a DOHC 16-valve layout, the engine delivers 79 kW and 140 Nm. Top speed is 180 km/h with fuel consumption listed as 5,9 l/100 km – real time running on the test returning 6,2 l/100 km average.

There are other 1,5-litres engines from competing manufacturers on the market that make more power and torque than the Toyota, some quite a lot more and even the absolute newcomer to the local market, the BAIC turns out 85 kW and 148 Nm.

The Sport monniker on our test car is, then, a bit of a misnomer – it is by stretch of the imagination a ‘hot’ hatch and ‘Sport’ is a reference to style rather than speed.

For this reason the Yaris needs to be correctly contextualised before finding itself on the short end of a comparison stick. It is, primarily, a city commuter and in that context has enough gumption to make the daily churn from home to work and back reasonably stress-free.

Our test car came with a 5-speed transmission and, quite frankly, even when pressed on the open road, never really felt like it was running a cog short. While out test was conducted at oxygen rich sea level altitude, the impact of energy sapping Reef heights will be felt although, again, in context, not that much in city commuting.

A McPherson strut-type suspension sits up front, while the rear features a torsion beam layout where coil spring and shock absorber characteristics have been optimised for comfort.

On the road the new Yaris exudes a sense of solidity and provides excellent damping of road conditions with a composed driving feel.

The Sport variant rides on 16-inch rubber feature with directional-design alloy wheels (with machined face treatment) and 195/50/R16 tyres.

 The bigger version is, I feel, an improvement at all levels over the ‘Euro’ version and, if nothing else, since we do grow South African quite big, will be appreciated for that extra space.

As the flagship model the Sport has keyless entry and push-button start, six-speaker audio system with USB and Bluetooth functionality, multi-information display, electrically-adjustable exterior mirrors, front power windows, electric power steering and climate control.

Additionally it gets red-stitched leather steering wheel and gear knob, high-definition ‘Optitron’ instruments, leather seats, front fog lamps, projector headlamps, LED rear tail lights, rear boot spoiler, side skirts, front and rear spoilers and red accent stripe.

Safety kit includes driver, passenger, curtain and driver’s knee air bags, Isofix points, anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist (BA), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), seat belt pretentioner and force limiters as well as Hill Assist Control (HAC).

All Yaris models come with a 3-year/45 000 kilometre service plan and 3-year/100 000 kilometre warranty.


Big money up for grabs

The 2018 surfing calendar in South Africa has been firmed up with the confirmation Volkswagen South Africa is continuing the headline sponsorship of the City Surf Series with more than R1-Million in prize money up for grabs in the race to Nelson Mandela Bay.

“For us, getting involved with the City Surf Series was a no-brainer as the Volkswagen brand has been associated with surfing for many years with surfers using their camper vans and Kombi’s to go on surfing tournaments,” says Matt Gennrich, General Manager for Group Communications.

The second edition of the City Surf Series (CSS) will see six events, culminating in the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing presented by Hurley, taking place in different cities along South Africa’s coastline from March to June.

Each of the CSS events will feature Qualifying Series (QS) rated men’s, women’s junior men’s and junior women’s competitions, Surfing South Africa (SSA) longboard men and women and Stand-up Paddling (SUP) men and women’s categories.

A major change from last year’s series is the upgrading of the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing women’s event to a QS3000, making it the biggest women’s QS in Africa. The Nelson Mandela Bay Pro men’s event has also been upgraded to a QS1500.

“Another exciting addition is the launch of a new event, the Port Alfred Classic, which will feature men’s and women’s QS Longboard events with the two disciplines also added to the Volkswagen SA of Surfing presented by Hurley,” says Johnny Bakker, Surfing South Africa president.

“As Nelson Mandela Bay is the home of Volkswagen, we are also proud that the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing has relocated from Durban to Nelson Mandela Bay,” added Gennrich.

The Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing events being hosted in Nelson Mandela Bay are expected to bring in an estimated 4 000 to 6 000 visitors and an R18-million cash injection for the city.

Not only will the CSS events support the local economy, all events will give back to the community and environment by incorporating Learn to Surf Initiatives as well as Community Clean-the-Beach programmes.

In the 2017 edition of the CSS, more than 300 previously disadvantaged children across the five events were taught to surf.

2018 City Surf Series Event Schedule:

  • Volkswagen Nelson Mandela Bay Surf pres. by Billabong: 30 March to 2 April
  • Royal St Andrews Port Alfred Classic pres. by Quiksilver (Inaugural event): 6 to 8 April
  • Mitchum Buffalo City Surf Pro pres. by Reef Wetsuits: 13 to 15 April
  • ZigZag Durban Surf Pro pres. by G-Force: 18 to 20 May
  • Jordy Smith Cape Town Surf Pro pres. by O’Neil: 14 to17 June
  • Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing pres. by Hurley: 19 to 24 June


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





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.