Have one Bud

Main Stage music at this year’s South Coast Bike Fest that kicks off on April 27 in Margate will be sponsored by Budweiser.

“We are incredibly excited to have Budweiser featuring so prominently at this year’s South Coast Bike Fest,” says event organiser, Vicky Wentzel. “This vibrant festival is about bringing people together to celebrate shared passions and this sense of camaraderie speaks directly to the Budweiser brand. We look forward to this successful partnership and another fantastic South Coast Bike Fest which has now been infused with the elegant Budweiser flavour.”

Introduced to the South African market in 2017, Budweiser is already gaining a lot of traction across the nation because of its appealing flavour and quality taste.

Referred to as the ‘King of Beer’, the production of Budweiser ‘The Hard Way’ is the world’s most expensive brewery process, brewing the mixture twice as long as regular lager and aging it over beach wood chips resulting in a super smooth finish. Infusing 142 years of experience in beer brewing, Budweiser is now being produced locally, for the first time on the African continent, at the Rosslyn Brewery.

Festival-goers can look forward to include Goodluck, The Kiffness, Chunda Munki, MC Drumkit, Matthew Mole, Milano Singh, Karen Zoid, Springbok Nude Girls and Francois van Coke, among many others.

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

 

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Road Impressions – Honda Jazz Sport

The business of motor makers is to sell cars. This we know. In order to do that, they use emotive wording such as ‘Sport’ as a descriptor to entice and intrigue buyers; a word often misused in auto marketing efforts and one that potentially can turn around to bite them in the rear.

The Honda Jazz is something of an enigma on the local market. It has been around for quite a few years and comes with the enviable Honda ethos of superior build quality, refinement and reliability – yet, where it should have been a shoe-in for corporate fleets as well as company car and allowance buyers, it just never quite cracked the nod.

Admittedly, not being a local manufacturer meant Honda South Africa was fully immersed in the currency game, trying to dodge the effects of a devaluing Rand and keep its pricing competitive. Not an easy task.

The Jazz then became a favourite among female buyers, particularly private buyers, because of all those good traits – but it also began to get the reputation of being a ‘girly’ car.

Enter the Jazz Sport.

Known as the Jazz/Fit RS in some markets it is the car that was popularised in the Gran Turismo 6 Video Game and gained an almost cult-like status in the process.

In South Africa, the Jazz Sport is the new flagship of the range, replacing the Dynamic derivatives and is powered by new engine, although available only with an upgraded, specially adapted Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

The Jazz Sport has a wider, lower stance thanks to substantial, aerodynamically inspired styling changes front and rear.

The new front-end of the Jazz Sport features a sleeker grille design with gloss piano black and chrome elements, framed by slim LED headlights with LED daytime running lights. Gloss-black exterior mirror housings are standard.

An all-new, sculpted front bumper is home to integrated fog lamps with black surrounds, while a new, more prominent front splitter with red pin striping adds further, Type R-inspired appeal.

The aerodynamic theme continues with smoothly sculpted sill extensions between the front and rear wheel arches, while the 16-inch Berlina black alloy wheels, shod with 185/50 R16 tyres, also serve to emphasise the Jazz Sport’s character.

The rear has also been reimagined with the addition of a bold rear spoiler, as well as a three-strake diffuser with an upper trim line mirroring the same red detailing as the front splitter.

The Jazz Sport’s black-hued cockpit has been revised to match the more extrovert exterior treatment.

The Type R-inspired red accent theme is carried over to the interior, encompassing red stitching on the seats, the console-mounted armrest and the leather-trimmed steering wheel.

Sport pedals are fitted as standard, while the upgraded audio system features six loudspeakers. Also reminiscent of the Type R is the pushbutton start system and smart, keyless entry system.

The ‘Magic Seat’ system remains a vital feature and is central to the Jazz’s space utilisation and overall versatility. The 359-litre boot can be extended to 889 litres by folding the split rear bench seat down.

As the new flagship of the range, the Jazz Sport features an extensive array of standard luxury, convenience and safety features. A new, soft-padded dashboard adds a touch of sophistication to the interior’s sporty aura.

Comprehensive instrumentation is augmented by a seven-inch touchscreen display that controls the infotainment system – including a CD receiver with six loudspeakers, Bluetooth-driven hands-free telephony and USB and HDMI connections. It is also linked to the rear-view camera.

Also standard are multifunction controls on the leather-trimmed steering wheel, a centre armrest, height-adjustable driver’s seat and electrically adjustable and folding exterior mirrors finished in gloss black.

The Jazz Sport is fitted with power windows front and rear, as well as cruise control, automatic air-conditioning, a tilt and reach-adjustable steering wheel and rear parking sensors as standard.

No question then that it looks the part, that is looks like it owns the ‘Sport’ descriptor.

The four-cylinder, dual overhead camshaft 1,5-litre engine is exclusive to this model in the Jazz line-up, and makes use of direct injection and intelligent variable valve timing and lift. Maximum power output is 97 kW at 6 600 r/min, with an accompanying torque peak of 155 Nm at 4 600 r/min.

Interestingly, the power output is identical to that of the Ballade 160i DOHC, 160E and CR-X performance models of the 1990s.

The retuned suspension with revised damper settings, a more rigid steering rack and additional body reinforcement result in a handling package that is more responsive without compromising comfort, while uprated braking system features rear discs instead of the drums fitted as standard to other Jazz models.

 Does it deserve the ‘Sport’ descriptor?

Let me deal with the negative first – I am not a fan of CVT gearboxes at all and certainly not in a car wanting to be a sporty performer. Modern auto box technology has moved so far, it is difficult to understand the corporate thinking behind this decision.

That said, it is a perky little thing and rushes about enthusiastically when asked to do so. For more serious press on motoring, drivers will probably (need to!) opt for manual mode using the paddles on the steering to get the best out of the car.

Moreover, it has much to offer – handling like a go-kart, it points accurately into corners and there is always the feeling it would really like to go much quicker. The tweaked suspension keeps all four wheels firmly planted even with rapid directional changes, while the rear disc brakes add a vital confidence factor to stopping the car from pace.

The Jazz Sport has anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) as well as Emergency Stop Signal (ESS), Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) and Hill Start Assist (HSA).

Passive safety is served by an Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body shell that ensures optimised crash safety and passenger safety cell integrity, augmented by six SRS air bags comprising front, side and curtain air bags.

The price tag includes a 5-year/200 000 km warranty and a 4-year/60 000 km service plan, as well as a three-year AA Roadside Assistance package. Services are at 15 000 km intervals.

The Jazz Sport is a lot of fun and I enjoyed my brief time with the car – just that CVT gearbox!

Ford expands engine plant

Capacity at the Ford Motor Company of South Africa (FMCSA) engine plant at Struandale, Port Elizabeth is being boosted to provide a new assembly line for the diesel engine that will power the Ford Ranger Raptor when it is launched next year.

This forms part of a wide-ranging investment in its two South African plants, announced late last year.

“We are delighted to confirm that, as part of the R3-billion investment announced in November 2017, we are expanding both the capability and capacity of the Struandale Engine Plant for our current and future engine programmes,” says Jacques Brent, President of Ford Middle East and Africa.

“The investment includes the installation of a sophisticated new assembly line for an all-new diesel engine program and, at the same time, we are boosting capacity for the current Duratorq TDCi engine that is used in the Ford Ranger and Everest, with new derivatives and additional European markets being introduced for the local operations.”

The new diesel engine assembly hall is located in a totally revamped 3 868 m2 section of the Struandale Engine Plant, and boasts Ford’s latest, state-of-the-art manufacturing processes.

Eight derivatives of the new engine will be assembled at the Struandale Engine Plant when production officially commences in the fourth quarter of 2018. The new assembly line has an installed capacity of 120 000 engines a year.

 The current component machining and assembly lines for the Duratorq TDCi diesel engine, which has been produced locally since 2011 for the Ford Ranger and Everest, are also being expanded.

“Our upgrades for the Duratorq TDCi program adds incremental volumes, with 22 new four-cylinder engine derivatives to be exported to European markets, including for use in front-wheel drive Ford models,” Brent states. “This introduces three significant new customers for the Struandale Engine Plant, comprising Italy, Turkey and Russia.”

Ultimately, the Struandale Engine Plant will become the home of all Duratorq TDCi engine component machining for the Ranger, Everest and Transit, along with expanded engine assembly in conjunction with current operations at Ford plants in Thailand and Argentina.

“This places our South African business in a central role within the global Ford network, and reaffirms our commitment to developing the automotive industry within the local market, and in the broader Middle East and Africa region,” Brent adds.

With the additional 2.2-litre engine derivatives officially coming on line in the fourth quarter of 2018, the Struandale Engine Plant will be assembling a total of 56 variants of the Duratorq TDCi engine.

Installed capacity for the Duratorq TDCi program is set to increase from the current 254 000 machined component sets (cylinder head, block and crankshaft) to 280 000, while assembly capacity will grow from 115 000 to 130 000 engines per annum.

To accommodate the significant production expansion for the two engine programs, a brand new warehouse was built at the Struandale Engine Plant. The new 5 418 m2 facility was designed to house all the required parts, components and tools on-site to maximise production efficiency for the two engine programs.

 

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: https://youtu.be/cas1vUNPxV4

 

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.