New challenger in town

There is a new hot-hatch speedster in town intent on giving the other regulars in this community more than just food for thought – but, the new Renault Clio RS 18 means more to the brand than just being a quick car.

Unashamedly making the link between the race track and the road, CLIO RS 18 bears the same name as the Renault F1 race car competing in Formula 1. It also features the same iconic colour scheme as the Renault Sport F1 Team car, namely its Deep Black cloak and accented Liquid Yellow.

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Clio RS 18’s exclusive styling is also reflected in the Renault Sport decals added to the door panels and the roof. The blacked out badging and rear diffuser contrasted by the yellow details on the side strips, front blade and wheel caps make the overall look even more radical. The doorsills on this limited edition model also reveal a unique number for that added acclaim.

However, with changes across the range, this flagship derivative also signifies an achievement peak for the small car that is now the world’s all-time best-selling French car with more than 13-million sales since launching in 1990.

It made its debut into South Africa in 2000 and the the Clio 4 model has sold more than 25 800 units since its introduction.

The new Renault Clio represents the first production model to get the design direction advocated by Laurens van den Acker, Renault’s Senior Vice-President for Corporate Design, as expressed in the concept car, DeZir, unveiled at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.

This involves a distinctive front-end styling featuring a bolder version of the diamond-shaped logo, enhanced by the low the new Pure Vision LED headlights on the flagship models.

Inside, the versatile R&Go application is available within the Clio Authentique. This easy-to-use and customisable interface offers access to advanced technology even from the entry level of the Renault Clio range.

Developed to enhance the driving experience, R&Go is a smartphone/tablet multifunction application that adds functionality to the vehicle, allowing access to four different universes:  Multimedia, phone, vehicle and navigation.

The rest of the Clio range comes standard with Renault’s MediaNav integrated navigation/multi-media system with large 18 cm touchscreen display.

 Renault’s new generation F1-inspired 66 kW and 88 kW Turbo petrol engines optimise power and performance and,in line with consumer demand, an 88kW Auto (EDC) engine is also available in the Expression derivative.

The 66 kW Turbo engine has an output of 135 Nm, with claimed fuel consumption from only 5,5 l/ 100 km and 126 g/km CO2 emissions, whilst the 88 kW 1.2 Turbo engine delivers 190 Nm torque with fuel efficiency from 5,2 l/ 100 km and CO2 emissions of 120 g/km.

 Clio achieved a five star EuroNCAP rating, with features and equipment, such as ESP,anti-lock braking, EBD + Brake Assist, D+P+S airbags and power windows as standard across the entire range.

The Clio RS 18 is powered by a 1,6-litre turbo-charged engine, featuring a lowered and stiffened Trophy chassis – front suspension featuring hydraulic compression stops and an Akrapovic exhaust system.

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Clio RS 18 has Launch Control fand a range of track oriented features including the RS Drive button that gives access to three modes: Normal, Sport and Race.  According to the mode, RS Drive alters the mapping of the gearbox, ESC behaviour, steering and the sensitivity of the accelerator pedal. Multifaceted and versatile.

The engine delivers 162 kW at 6 050 r/min and torque of 280 Nm is reached from just 2 000 r/min and drives through the EDC 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Fuel consumption is claimed at 5,9 l/ 100 km.

Standard features include onboard navigation via the 7-inch touchscreen, with a range of other easy-to-use one touch functionalities – Multimedia, radio and telephone systems with Bluetooth connectivity – cruise Control and rain sensors

As with Renault’s entire range, the Clio models come standard with a 5-year/150 000km mechanical warranty and a 6-year anti-corrosion warranty. The Clio range also offers a standard 3-year/45 000 km service plan with the RS being 3-year/ 30 000 km. Service intervals are set at 15 000km, with RS models at 10 000 km.

 PRICING

  • New Clio 66kW Turbo Authentique 5dr            R211 900
  • New Clio 66kW Turbo Expression 5dr              R229 900
  • New Clio 66kW Turbo Dynamique 5dr             R246 900
  • New Clio 88kW Turbo EDC Expression 5dr       R269 900
  • New Clio 88kW Turbo GT-Line 5dr                   R269 900
  • New Clio RS 18 F1 (Incl. Metallic Paint)        R449 90      
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Road Impressions – Mitsubishi ASX 2.0 GLS CVT

Barely a year after doing a full refresh of the local Mitsubishi ASX range, the flagship model – the 2.0 GLS CVT – had its makeup retouched to give it a more upmarket look.

This involved a new front grille design with added chrome garnish, revised bumper design with a sporty honeycomb pattern above the lower spoiler, fitment of LED daylight running lights (DRL), rear diffuser and a LED rear fog lamp.

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Other cosmetic changes included a redesigned centre console with decorative trim in a geometric pattern of brightwork featuring two USB ports and a mobile phone tray with removable padded liner. Changes to the design and materials used in the centre console, the dashboard centre panel and power window switch panels were also made.

Mitsubishi has also redesigned the CVT shift lever, included a new seat design with red stitching, as well as soft-touch knee pads on the outside of the centre console along with 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels and a new silver body colour with enhanced brightness.

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The most important single feature of this model is the gearbox – now the newest version of Mitsubishi’s INVECS-III CVT with 6-step Sports Mode.

My feelings about CVT gearboxes remain unchanged and undiluted. They are not my favourite. However, this effort from Mitsubishi is one of the best I have driven in recent years and manages to fairly intelligently find the right gear at the correct time with a minimum of that frantically annoying CVT whine.

Even better is when it is clicked over to Sport mode. The ASX then gets quite lively and it feels as if the gearbox is trying to work in tandem with driver throttle input – enough that I believe it should come with flappy paddles as standard fitment.

The Mitsubishi ASX is powered by a 2.0 MIVEC petrol engine. This engine is equipped with Mitsubishi’s Innovative Valve Timing Electronic Control System (MIVEC) and multi-point injection that produces 110 kW at 6 000 r/min and 197 Nm of torque at 4 200 r/min.

Despite being a ‘revvy’ engine an average fuel consumption of 7,6 l /100 km is achievable. Fitted with a 63 litre tank, this gives the ASX a range of around 800 km.

Sitting just shy of R420 000, the ASX is compeitively priced in a crowded market and it offers a soft-feel leather interior including a leather-covered multi-function steering wheel.

It boasts a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and, like all, ASX models features Mitsubishi’s proprietary Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) body shell, seven air bags, ISOFIX child restraint mountings and a range of dynamic safety systems that include anti-lock braking, electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and emergency brake assistance (BAS).

The GLS CVT also comes standard with Active Stability and Traction Control (ASTC) and Hill Start Assist (HSA).

Other standard features include a chromatic rearview mirror, a rearview camera, rear Park Distance Control, heated and fold-away side mirrors with built-in indicator lights, LED daytime running lights and a keyless Operating System.

It is fitted with a full-length panoramic glass roof with a UV protective coating and one-touch cover, as well as adjustable LED mood-lighting for every occasion.

Luxury features  on offer are Bluetooth with voice control, cruise control, a multi-function steering wheel, power windows, air-conditioning, rain-sensing wipers and a Rockford Fosgate sound system.

Not too shabby at all.

The ASX is a pleasant space in which to be. Seating is comfortable – firm enough to constrain when press on mode is engaged and supportive enough to minimise fatigue on the long-haul runs. Steering on our test unit was precise with enough feedback at speed to allow confident entry to tight corners.

With a wheelbase still short enough to respond quickly to steering commands, it fits the desciption of ‘nippy’ rather well, yet does not compromise on front or rear seat space to achieve this.

As with the rest of the ASX range, the GLS CVT is covered by a 3-year / 100 000 km manufacturer’s warranty and a 5-year /90 000 km service plan with 15 000 km service intervals.

Americans into rallycross

Rallycross is picking up the pace in drawing new competitors and teams, the latest being Volkswagen and it returns to competition this year in partnership with the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team in the newly launched Americas Rallycross series.

The Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team will continue to campaign the Beetle Supercars that have earned the team multiple championships over the past four years. Drivers Scott Speed and Tanner Foust hope to add to their previous success in this exciting new series.

The season begins May 25-27 in Silverstone, England, at the brand-new Silverstone Rallycross circuit during the Speedmachine Festival. The Americas Rallycross opener will be held in conjunction with the British round of the 2018 World Rallycross Championship (WRX).

“I’m excited to compete with ARX,” says Scott Speed, driver of the No. 41 Oberto Circle K Beetle. “The competition is going to be tough, but our Beetles are ready. I think this new series will be a great place to push our team and the cars in 2018.”

Tanner Foust is ready to return to the world stage at Silverstone, having won races in the 2011 and 2012 European Rallycross Championship, the first American to do so.

“Having World Rallycross expand its reach to the US is going to make the competition so much more accessible for fans to better understand the sport,” says the No. 34 Rockstar Energy Drink Beetle driver. “ARX will be a great platform to find new fans and spread the word about rallycross.”

The pair will continue to race in the Beetle Rallycross vehicles, which are built by Volkswagen Motorsport in Europe. The cars have been updated to improve their handling characteristics, but will race with the same 2,0-liter turbo-charged engines that propelled the team to success in 2017.

“Our team has been able to achieve great success in rallycross and we look forward to continuing that legacy with the new ARX competition,” says Michael Andretti, CEO Andretti Autosport. “Scott and Tanner are some of the finest drivers on the planet in this motorsport discipline, and our cars are ready and better than ever.”

For information on the livestream of the first round of the 2018 Americas Rallycross on CBSsports.com on May 25, visit www.arxrallycross.com.

After Silverstone, the series will continue with three events:

  • July TBD, Austin, TX – Circuit of the Americas
  • August 4-5, Trois Rivieres, Canada
  • September 29, Austin, TX – Circuit of the America

South Africa hosts the final Round of the World Rallycross Championship in November at the Killarney circuit in Cape Town.

Tense times in the dust

The two opening rounds of the South African Rally Championship have produced two different winners, meaning the chase for points is paramount going into round three, the Rallystar Rally that gets under way at the Carousel Casino between Pretoria and Bela-Bela.

Defending South African National Rally Champions, Guy Botteril and navigator Simon Vacy-Lyle, may be back in the championship fight after a resounding victory on the 2018 York Rally, Round 2 of championship, but the season is far from over.

As it stands, Botterill/Vacy-Lyle find themselves tied for third place in the championship standings, and will be aiming for maximum points on Round 3.

“We were disappointed to start our 2018 campaign with a DNF at Round 1,” says Botterill. “But we managed to bring our Toyota Etios home in first place on Round 2, which put us right back in the thick of things.”

With that said, it is Toyota Etios driver Matthew Vacy-Lyle who finds himself tied with AC Potgieter (VW Polo) at the top of the standings, some five points clear of Botterill and Richard Leeke (Ford), who are tied in third place.

“The championship is already a tight affair,” continues Botterill. “Just five points separate the top four crews, and anything can still happen. The important thing for us is to keep scoring as many points as possible.”

Round 3 promises to be an interesting one, as the Rallystar Rally is a new event on the SA National Rally Championship calendar.

“We’ve prepared our Toyota Etios R2N well for the upcoming event, but since the event is all-new, we don’t really know what to expect. On the one hand, the stages are sure to offer similar smooth, dusty surfaces as at the Bela-Bela Rally, which we used to race in the past. But then again, we won’t know for sure until the recce starts,” concludes Botterill.

The Rallystar Rally gets under way at 14:00 on Friday, May 25th, with four competitive stages on the day. Six more stages follow on Saturday, May 26th, bringing the total racing distance to 153 km.

 

Petrolheads delight

August will see the return of the WesBank-backed Festival of Motoring to Kyalami with organisers claiming additional involvement from automakers for this year’s event that starts on August 31.

With additional automotive brands already confirmed, visitors can again expect even more new car launches, latest model displays, supercars on track and an engaging 4 x 4 area. With the focus on interactive experiences, self-drive activities will now be available on each of the show days at the centrally located Kyalami Handling Track.

Various new models can be driven on the 1,1 km test track. Some additional features to look forward to this year include double the amount of OEM pit door displays, improved and varied catering areas, a wine garden, dedicated kid’s area and air displays.

High quality and varied content, both on and off track, will entertain show visitors. National championship motor sport will feature at FoM for the first time.

The Sasol GTC Championship and Investchem Formula 1600 Series will race in official championship rounds.

An interactive pit area, with full public access, will bring cars and drivers closer to race fans. Modern GT race cars and a selection of quality historic race cars will be located in a new pit lane behind the main pit building.

Historic motorsport content will include a tribute to cars of endurance racing, all with iconic liveries. The Pablo Clark Ferrari Challenge will have a dedicated pit and provide action on track with a selection of racing Ferraris.

Motor sport legends will once again be honored at FoM and Sarel van der Merwe will act as the Grand Marshall of the event.

“I am proud to be associated with this prestigious event held at such an iconic venue” said the multiple SA champion.

Fifty modern road going supercars can be seen both in a dedicated pit area and on track during the three show days, while Classic cars will once again be a major drawcard with a focus on a selection of 15 quality cars making up the ‘Best of the Best’ display.

Classic car clubs will also once again feature in a dedicated area. A display of cars celebrating the evolution of the automobile will showcase cars with a unique South African story.

A new focus on future technology will showcase the latest trends and innovations in the motor industry. Two retail areas will exhibit the motoring aftermarket, conversion and other specialist industries. The indoor retail area located in the lower pit complex with the outdoor area located on the upper platform.

General Access tickets for the event are available at www.itickets.co.za. Tickets will be available at the gate.

 

No Kwid pro quo

There is a series currently running on television about a mirror image world to the one we know and in which the same people exist – your double – but do not necessarily have exactly the same lives, aspirations or outcomes.

Putting the Renault Kwid Climber and the AMT alongside each other, produces somewhat of a similar scenario with two cars from the same stable, identical in many respects but so different they are. . . wait for it. . . world apart.

In South Africa, the SUV-inspired Kwid hatchback has sold more than 10 000 vehicles since its launch in late 2016 and took third position as one of South Africa’s 10 best-selling passenger cars in December 2017, with 1 120 units sold.

Affordable transport is a key issue in South Africa, made even more important considering the economy is in a slump and there are strikes in the bus industry along with taxi violence. Young people who do have jobs and need to make the journey to and from work are eager to achieve the independence their own transport can provide.

Thus, the competitive pricing of the Indian manufactured Kwid along with the reasonably high levels of specification, make this an attractive proposition.

The Kwid Climber boasts enhanced design by means of an exterior styling pack and comes in Electric Blue or Planet Grey two-tone colouring, further enhanced with the Kwid Climber insignia, distinctive protection cladding on the doors, bumper over-riders and arching rails sporting orange accents on the roof.

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Inside is a strong piano black centre fascia with orange contours and the bespoke Climber insignia on the headrests of the two-tone seats. The orange accents extend to the door trims, side air vents, the two-tone gear knob and sporty steering wheel with unique orange perforations.

Standard features include air-conditioning, electrically operated front windows and onboard navigation, this incorporated in the MediaNav navigation/multi-media system complete with 18 cm touchscreen display, radio and Bluetooth connectivity.

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The 1,0-litre 3-cylinder Smart Control efficiency (SCe) engine powering the Kwid models has been optimised for power and performance and pushes out peak power of 50 kW at 5 500 r/min and maximum torque of 91 Nm at 4 250 r/min.

It is paired to a 5-speed manual gearbox and delivers a claimed 4,7 l/100 km – real world testing however put this much closer to 5,5 l/100 km.

As much as there might be a willingness from the engine, it is quite a noisy little child heading for the upper reaches of its rev range. However, it all needs to be taken in context of what the car is, what it is intended for and so on.

It is not a hot hatch. It is convenient, affordable and comfortable transport for a congested urban environment and, once on the boil, will scoot along highways without disgracing itself in terms of being able to maintain speed with the surrounding traffic.

Sure, the little engine does mean a need to gear down for the hills, but the gearbox is slick and accurate so this is far less of a chore than often is the case.

Good all round vision and the trim dimensions means it jinks through traffic with ease and whips smartly into those tight little urban parking spaces.

The Kwid AMT is, however, something different. Except for the unique colour scheme of the Climber is mechanically, dimensionally and feature wise exactly the same.

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It is just the AMT gearbox.

AMT stands for Automated Manual Transmission that means a manual gearbox with an electronically controlled clutch.

The idea may be sound but the execution is horrible.

The intention is the driver should have the same sensation in the car as if he or she were dipping the clutch and changing gear – even down to the slight dip of the nose of the car as the clutch engages.

Instead it struggles from pull off to make up its mind, takes an eternity to change one gear up and get going again – to the point where crossing a road or turning into a road becomes something of a heartstopper.

Even worse is when faced with a hill and there is neeed to change down – it almost come to a total stop as the gearbox tries to sort itself out.

This is by no means the first AMT gearbox that has found its way to market and all other before this one have had the same sort of issues – it just does not work.

There is also no possibility of driver input – there is no gear shift, just a rotary know on the dashboard offering ‘R’, ‘N’ or ‘D’ – it is either stopped, going forward or backward and one must remember it is not an automatic so releasing the footbrake on an incline will have the Kwid running backwards.

Handbrake use is paramount.

Once in top gear and up to speed, the AMT is pleasant enough to drive and it handles motorway speeds and rural routes quite easily and comfortably.

I had the upspecced Dynamique version so had the MediaNav navigation/multi-media system complete with a 18 cm touchscreen display, Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free telephony, built in navigation, USB  AUX-input ports and speed sensing volume control.

The Climber and the AMT could not be more different and. . . wait for it . . . there is no Kwid pro quo here.

As is standard across Renault’s entire product range, the Renault Kwid model range comes with a 5-year/150 000 km mechanical warranty and a 6-year anti-corrosion warranty. Services take place at 15 000 km intervals. Optional service plans are available.

Strong performances

The top ranked competitors justified their seeding in the Zigzag Durban Surf Pro pres. by G-Force with all but two out of 24 advancing to the next round of their respective events on the opening day the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) events at North Beach in Durban.

Classic conditions and small but contestable one metre waves prompted the organisers to get stop No. 4 of 13 in the WSL Africa Qualifying Series (QS) underway at 7 am. A total of 24 heats were completed starting with QS 1,000 Men’s and Women’s events and followed by the Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) Men’s and Women’s heats for surfers 18-and-under which closed out the day’s action.

KwaZulu-Natal locals reveled in their home surf with veteran campaigners Brandon Jackson (Durban North) and Dan Redman (uMdloti) both blasting their way through two rounds to reach the last 32 in the men’s event.

Rising star Bryce Burness (Berea) bagged a pair of seven point rides to post a heat total of 14.75, the highest of the day in the men’s event while Capetonians Luke Slijpen (Hout Bay), Ford van Jaarsveldt and Max Elkington (both Kommetjie) all racked up heat wins.

Defending women’s event winner Zoe McDougall (Hawaii) and Josefina Ane (Argentina), winner of the second series stop in Port Alfred in March, got their campaigns underway with comfortable victories. But it was Nicole Pallet (La Lucia), the highest ranked South African in the women’s field who delivered the highest heat total of the round with 12.50 out of a possible 20.

Only two junior men’s heats were run which saw Mitch du Preez (East London) and Karl Steen (Durban) top their Round 1 heats and advance to the last 16 alongside their respective heat runners-up in Daniel Orpen (Knysna) and Daniel Emslie (East London).

McDougall produced a stunning display of competitive surfing in her junior women’s heat, the last to be run on the day, posting a near-perfect score of 9.25 to go with an earlier excellent 8.75 for an superb heat tally of 18.0. The Hawaiian, who spends a significant amount of time in Jeffreys Bay with her partner Matt McGillivray, also earned scores of 7.75 and 6.50, which did not even factor into her two counting rides.

WSL Africa junior women’s rankings leader Kai Woolf (Jeffreys Bay) eased her way into the last eight with a comprehensive heat win and was joined by fellow heat winners Kirsty McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay), the current No. 2, and Kayla Nogueira (uMhlanga), the defending event winner.

Organisers will meet at North Beach at 7.00 am local time on Saturday to make a call on when to get the contest underway. The women’s and junior women’s event champions will be crowned on Saturday afternoon while the men’s and junior men’s winners will be determined on Sunday.

Live scoring, results, photos and video footage will be available on www.WorldSurfLeague.com  and on the WSL App, with highlights on the WSL QS Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.