Gazoo racers tweaked

With power tweaked and new cooling systems fitted to the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hiluxes, the team has high hopes for a big points haul as the 2018 South African Cross-Country Series (SACCS) reaches the mid-point of the season, the Atlas Copco 400 on August 3 and 4, 2018,

“Both our Class FIA Toyota Hilux race cars now feature the latest cooling systems, and we have also tweaked the performance in preparation for this weekend’s race,” says Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall. “Our aim will be to record strong finishes with both cars.”

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Giniel de Villiers and navigator Dennis Murphy currently lead the SACCS standings and, after winning the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, Round 3 of the championship, De Villiers has opened up a substantial gap at the top of the leaderboard.

Despite Murphy joining De Villiers as navigator from Round 2 of this year’s championship, the former champion navigator currently leads the standings for the navigator championship, with three rounds to go.

Henk Lategan and navigator Barry White had a great opening race day in the Desert, winning the day and bagging 30 points as a result. But a DNF on Day 2 saw the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux crew lose out on even more points, and Lategan currently finds himself in fourth place in the standings.

“Henk and Barry did an excellent job in Botswana, and we really need them to carry on from there,” says Hall. “Winning a day of the Desert Race is no mean feat, and it shows the kind of pace that we’ve come to expect from this crew.”

Behind the two factory Toyota Hilux race cars come a fleet of privateer entries, including the Class FIA Toyota Hilux of Chris Visser and Philip Herselman (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux); the recently victorious Class T Toyota Hilux of Johan and Werner Horn (Malalane Toyota Hilux); and the Class S car of Heinie Strumpher and Henri Hugo (4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux).

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Each of these crews is in the mix for their respective championships, and the Atlas Copco 400 is certain to be exciting from that point of view.

The race starts at 14:00 on Friday, August 3, with a Qualifying Race of 40 km. This race will be used to determine the starting positions for Saturday’s main event, which starts at 08:00. The race HQ, Designated Service Park (DSP) and start/finish will be located at the Soetdoring Function Venue, Bronkhorstspruit and, as always entry for spectators is free of charge.

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C-Class tweaked

Much tweaking and styling has gone into the latest generation of the locally manufactured Mercedes-Benz C-Class – both externally and internally – but of more significance are the new generation four cylinder petrol engines.

Die neue C-Klasse  Luxemburg & Moselregion 2018

There is a new 4-cylinder, 1,5-litre turbo-petrol engine in the C200, with 9-speed automatic transmission across the range. The 1,5-litre engine is supplemented with a 48-volt on-board network and the EQ Boost integrated starter-generator that produces an additional 10 kW and 160 Nm while accelerating.

There is also a new-generation 2,0-litre turbo petrol engine in the C300, with outputs of 190 kW and 370 Nm.

The new 1,6-litre variant of the current diesel engine family will celebrate its world premiere in the C-Class. The C 220 d 4MATIC providing a healthy 143 kW and 400 Nm.

At the performance end of the range the range-topping C43 4MATIC boasts a V6 biturbo engine sees output of the 3,0-litre V6 engine increased by 17 kW to 287 kW. The peak torque of 520 Nm is available from 2 500 r/min to 5 000 r/min.

The C-Class is the most successful model series from Mercedes-Benz, and the new edition boasts a wealth of enhancements. In terms of looks, the car features a redesigned front end, with new-look headlamps and tail lamps. The electronics are completely new, with safety and driver assistance systems now at the level of the flagship S Class series.

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The current generation sold more than 415 000 cars worldwide in 2017.

“The secret of the C-Class’s success is partly down to the wide model range, also including two sporty two-door versions, the Coupé and the Cabriolet, which have opened up entire new audiences in the local market, says Selvin Govender, Marketing Director of Mercedes-Benz Cars South Africa.

“South Africans just love the C-Class. This new model is our sportiest and most dynamic C-Class to date, and with its looks, safety and performance, we’re confident it’s going to appeal to a broader audience than ever before.”

The new-look C-Class boasts a new front and a new design of the headlamps and tail lights. The sedan features the diamond grille as standard in combination with AMG Line, with front bumpers redesigned for all lines and rear bumpers varying according to the selected equipment and engine variant.

The C-Class comes with LED High Performance headlamps and, for the first time in this model series, MULTIBEAM LED headlamps with ULTRA RANGE high beam are additionally available.

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The new C-Class features a brand new electronic architecture, with the major addition being the latest Mercedes-Benz driving assistance systems. This puts the new series on a par with the S-Class, providing a higher level of active safety than ever and the ability to drive semi-autonomously in even more situations.

The interior has also been given a facelift. The centre console is characterised by a flowing trim element, with the option of new materials: open-pore brown walnut or open-pore anthracite oak. The new Multicontour Seat package now literally offers a massage, the side bolsters and lumbar support can be individually adjusted by means of an electrically driven pneumatic pump, with a massage effect in the lumbar area available through air chambers, which are inflated and deflated in a pulsing motion.

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The car’s new display concept includes an optional, fully-digital 12,3-inch instrument cluster and the upgraded infotainment system includes standard smartphone integration that can be accessed through touch-sensitive controls in the steering wheel, which respond to swiping motions like the screen of a smartphone. The operation of DISTRONIC and cruise control with controls directly on the steering wheel is another new feature.

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Another new feature is the automatic notification if the vehicle suffers an impact caused by another vehicle when parked, is towed away or there is a break-in attempt. The highly sensitive sensors of the standard ‘Anti-theft alarm system (ATA)’ can detect such situations and immediately send a ‘push notification’ message to the Mercedes me App. The optional feature includes the new sensors and the corresponding software.

Confidence under pressure

Consumer confidence is under severe pressure from rapidly escalating prices, political uncertainty and an economy that has not kicked into the higher gear anticipated when Cyril Ramaphosa became President.

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Mark Domisse (left) and Ghana Msibi

This was the underlying sentiment that emerged from the comments at the recent (23rd) annual National Automobile Dealer’s Association (NADA) awards function for Dealer Satisfaction Index (DSI) results.

“The DSI survey forms a vital link in the relationship between dealers and manufacturers. This year’s survey showed a high completion percentage rate of more than 80% in the passenger vehicle section,” says Mark Dommisse, National Chairperson of NADA. “We also had one of the highest completion ratios in DSI history this year, which is extremely encouraging.

“The DSI survey provides the dealer body with a platform to provide robust feedback to manufacturers and importers. In most cases, the findings are used to benefit the working relationship for both parties.”

Over the years, the results of the survey have been used by dealer councils and manufacturers as an effective management tool to address areas of concern and thereby improve service delivery throughout the entire value chain to the ultimate benefit of the consumer.

“Political uncertainty has had a major effect on investment appetites, as well as consumer spending on large ticket items,” he says.

“While consumer confidence is relatively high, the rest of the underlying metrics such as household debt, inflation, fuel, and increased consumer taxes are putting our businesses under pressure. Apart from a very slow economy that has not quite manifested in the Ramaphoria everyone had hoped for, the retail motor industry is facing frightening pressures.

“We need to embrace the ever-growing presence of digital disruptors in our game. They are competitors to the traditional dealer model, used car supply and our F&I departments and we are being challenged. We need to evolve and continue to align with this new generation of customer.”

Paul de Vantier, Managing Director, Lightstone Consumer, noted when it comes to online marketing and dealing, this industry has seen a growing number of people who will transact the whole deal online, from start to finish, with the dealer simply being a delivery and service point.

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“This is not something that’s coming, he says, “it is something that is already happening – and this trend will grow.”

De Vantier also made note of South Africa’s ageing car parc. In 2015 it was 9,6 years, but now it has aged to 9,9 years. He attributes this to rising vehicle prices, affordability and general consumer confidence.

“Consumers either cannot afford to replace their vehicles or lack the confidence to commit to long term financing deals,” he says.

Ghana Msibi, the Executive Head of Sales and Marketing at WesBank, says: “We cannot ignore the largest disruptor out there – the new generation of customers. As an industry, we cannot continue to offer them solutions on the same basis as we have done before.

“Our traditional approach has given us a superior footing in the industry, but if we do not meet them halfway, they will ultimately find alternatives that suit them.”

Range Rover steps up

Once the undisputed leader in the luxury SUV class, the Range Rover has been under pressure from rivals and is seriously upping its game with the new model, due for launch in November.

Executive Class rear seats and long wheel base body ensure this SUV represents the pinnacle of luxury.

Range Rover PHEV Media Drive, March 2018

With the option of a plug-in hybrid electric powertrain that delivers 51 km of emission-free driving without any loss in performance, alongside the heightened luxury of the SVAutobiography, Range Rover is also improved with the addition of Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go. This is available alongside Adaptive Cruise Control with Steering Assist.

This system helps keep the vehicle centred in its lane by applying moderate steering interventions with the driver’s hands on the wheel. The technology uses lane markings and, or where no lane markings can be detected, the path of the vehicle in front. Switching lanes or braking deactivates the system.

The interior of the Range Rover is luxurious, adaptable and beautifully crafted where the seats, which provide generous recline, legroom and foot space feature lines, leathers and layers of deep cushioning that create a cosseting lounge-style environment, with controls located on the door panels for customers to make adjustments.

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Heating and memory functions are embedded into the Grained Leather 16-way electronically-adjustable front seats to further improve the passenger experience.

With 24-way adjustment, the top-of-the-range Semi-Aniline Leather front seats are the most advanced option, providing upper shoulder support for total comfort, alongside integrated climate and massage settings, and the option of a stress-relieving Hot Stone massage function.

This high-end functionality extends to the rear, where the seats offer a 60:40 split-fold design. Wider and offering substantial legroom, their power recline controls are also located on the door for greater convenience.

The powered rear seats can be folded using the infotainment touchscreen, providing load-through access and ensuring the Range Rover’s peerless comfort and refinement does not come at the expense of practicality.

There is a power-deployable centre console that is available at the touch of a button and features a break at the centre footwell to enable rear passengers to easily exit from either side of the vehicle. When the centre console is stowed, the rear cabin can still accommodate three passengers in comfort, meaning versatility is uncompromised.

A cabin air ionisation system, Nanoe, uses charged water particles to help remove harmful substances, cleanse the air and eliminate allergens, viruses, bacteria and odours. The advanced purification system can be switched on and off using the climate screen on the infotainment system.

The powered roof sunblind can be opened and closed using an advanced gesture control system capable of sensing hand movements. All it takes to open the sunblind is a rearward swipe motion in front of the rear-view mirror, while a simple forward motion will prompt the blind to close. Comfortable and convenient, the intuitive system also reduces potential distraction to the driver.

In addition, the blinds can be closed automatically when all passengers have disembarked and the vehicle is locked. This keeps the interior cool in warm weather and minimises the need for air-conditioning when passengers return. When the driver unlocks the door, the sunblind will automatically slide open.

The P400e is the most efficient Range Rover and combines an advanced 221 kW four-cylinder Ingenium petrol engine with a 85 kw electric motor. This technology is powered by an advanced 13,1 kWh lithium-ion battery giving a total available power output of 297 kW through the permanent all-wheel drive (AWD) system.

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Together they drive the Range Rover from 0-100 km/h in 6,8 seconds and to a top speed of 220 km/h. With an impressive 640 Nm of torque, the powertrain mixes dynamic and sustainable performance with traditional Range Rover capability, comfort and refinement.

The P400e delivers CO2 emissions of 72 g/km and fuel economy of up to 3,1 l/100 km on the NEDC combined cycle. The intelligent system can also capture and store the energy generated when braking to aid recharging of the battery.
A full charge can be achieved in approximately 7,5 hours (10 amp; varies by market, location and the type of hardware used), which makes the Range Rover P400e ideal for overnight battery top-ups using a domestic plug socket.

With up to 17 connection points integrated discreetly throughout the cabin, the Range Rover is perfectly equipped as a mobile workspace and entertainment hub. This is thanks to two USB, an HDMI and 12V connection points in the front console cubby box – there is also a 12V socket in the glove box and a USB point in the deep stowage area underneath the cupholders.

For rear passengers, there are two 12V charging points, a domestic plug socket, and two USB and HDMI points. The load space provides a further 12V and a second domestic plug socket to keep laptops and other devices topped up.

In long wheelbase models, an additional USB charge point can be found in the storage box at the rear of the centre console.

There is also provision for up to eight 4G Wi-Fi connections, which ensures continuous connectivity on the move.

Comprising a lightweight front and rear design, the suspension layout perfectly complements the advanced aluminium construction. Its fully independent layout features a wide-spaced double wishbone set-up at the front and an advanced multi-link layout at the rear.

Range Rover PHEV Media Drive, March 2018

In order to achieve the perfect balance of agility, composure and comfort, Land Rover’s engineers focused on optimising chassis stiffness and fine-tuning the steering system to deliver the peerless driving experience demanded of the Range Rover.

The chassis can be managed via a number of advanced technologies. Dynamic Response enables a driver to independently control the front and rear axles with an enhanced active roll control system, which allows for low-speed agility and increased stability at speed.

This is complemented by an Active Rear Locking Differential to further optimise traction and stability in corners, while Adaptive Dynamics provide continuous variable damping for a supple, absorbent and composed ride.

Electric Power Assisted Steering utilises variable-ratio speed-sensitive assistance to deliver a relaxed, natural and intuitive character with a faster steering ratio. The result is a luxury SUV with excellent stability and a relaxed character at high cruising speeds.

The Range Rover benefits from Jaguar Land Rover’s Low Traction Launch System, which helps to exploit all available traction when pulling away on slippery surfaces. Unlike All-Terrain Progress Control, the company’s all-terrain cruise control technology, Low Traction Launch initiates a unique throttle map to provide a more usable torque curve.

The system is specifically designed to help drivers pull-away from a standstill on slippery surfaces such as wet grass, loose gravel and snow.

Hill Descent Control is also fitted as standard, while excellent ground clearance and a smooth underfloor

The Range Rover SVAutobiography – available exclusively in long wheelbase – has range of powertrain options that includes the 297 kW plug-in hybrid electric-petrol, a 250 kW 4,4-litre diesel and a 416 kW V8 supercharged petrol engine.

Range Rover PHEV Media Drive, March 2018

The Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic is the most powerful production Range Rover to date and offers 416 kW and 700 Nm from its V8 supercharged engine and can can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in only 5,4 seconds.

The Range Rover lineup will be available in South Africa from November and will include the following variants:

SWB:
3.0 Diesel 190 kW Vogue
4.4 Diesel 250 kW Vogue SE
4.4 Diesel 250 kW Autobiography
2.0 PHEV 297 kW Vogue
2.0 PHEV 297 kW Vogue SE
2.0 PHEV 297 kW Autobiography
5.0 Petrol 386 kW Vogue SE
5.0 Petrol 386 kW Autobiography
5.0 Petrol 416 kW SVAutobiography Dynamic

LWB:
4.4 Diesel 250 kW Vogue SE
4.4 Diesel 250 kW Autobiography
4.4 Diesel 250 kW SVAutobiography
2.0 PHEV 297 kW Vogue SE
2.0 PHEV 297 kW Autobiography
2.0 PHEV 297 kW SVAutobiography
5.0 Petrol 386 kW Vogue SE
5.0 Petrol 386 kW Autobiography
5.0 Petrol 416 kW SVAutobiography

Range Rover PHEV Media Drive, March 2018

Touareg moves seriously upmarket

There used to be a clearly distinct gap between similar Volkswagen and Audi products but, the new Touareg has closed that dramatically with two models on offer that fall just below the million threshold for the Luxury and a shade over for the Executive – placing it hot on the heels of the Audi Q7.

Volkswagen is unequivocal in stating the new flagship Touareg does take a top position in the premium SUV segment, pointing to it also being the most technologically advanced Volkswagen “of its era”.

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Volkswagen is presenting the fully digitalised Innovision Cockpit for the first time in the new Touareg. Here the digital instruments (Digital Cockpit with 12-inch display) and the top Discover Premium infotainment system (with 15-inch display) merge to form a digital operating, information, communication and entertainment unit that hardly needs any conventional buttons or switches.

Drivers use the Innovision Cockpit to adapt the assistance, handling and comfort systems specifically to their personal tastes; the car becomes ‘their’ Touareg. This opens up a world in which the driver and on-board passengers no longer have to adapt to the car, rather the car adapts to them.

The Touareg is launching with the largest range of assistance, handling and comfort systems ever to be integrated into a Volkswagen. These include technologies such as the optional Night Vision assistance system as part of the Advanced Safety Package, Lane Assist and Side Assist with Night Vision and Head-up display that detects people and animals in the darkness via a thermal imaging camera, active 4-wheel steering and ‘IQ Light Matrix LED headlights’ (interactive, camera-based dipped and main beam headlight control).

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Compared to its predecessor, the third generation Touareg is moderately wider and longer. The added exterior length leads to a significant increase in luggage capacity, from 697 to 810 litres (with the rear bench seat up). Despite its increased length and width, the car body is 106 kg lighter because of its mixed material construction of aluminium (48%) and high-tech steels (52%).

At launch, both models available locally are powered by the common rail turbo-diesel 3,0-litre TDI V6 engine offering 190 kW of power from 3 250 r/min and 600 Nm of torque from 2 250 r/min.

The design of the new Touareg is based on the modular longitudinal matrix (MLM) of the Volkswagen Group that includes models starting from the top mid-class with engines and gearboxes installed longitudinally.

Volkswagen head designer Klaus Bischoff says: “We wanted to create something with this front end that had never been seen before. We combined the chrome elements of the front end and the new LED light system of the Touareg so the transition between design and technology blended into a new entity.

“Innovative, expressive and impossible to imitate, this front end makes the new Touareg one of the most distinctive SUVs on the global market.”

Now more of a Sandton kerb-hopper than the more off-road dynamic of the original Touareg, Volkswagen says it can still master the dirt tracks with ease.

Bischoff says: “The sides of the Touareg body look like a stretched sail blown by a tailwind. Accentuated front wheel housings and well-formed rear shoulder edges highlight the superiority of the Touareg on any terrain. And this was the goal – to design the most superior SUV of its class. The opposing window lines and character lines at the side are stylish. And the roof line is striking. It seamlessly extends on the striking side line and dynamically concludes with the C-pillar that is angled towards the front.”

The rear end is dominated by the LED taillight clusters. They not only highlight the large total width of the Touareg but also the LED graphic of the front end with its L-shaped signature light.

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The designers completely redesigned the vehicle interior of the Touareg and consistently customised it for the digital age. The majority of all buttons are integrated in the 15-inch (1,920 x 1,020 pixel) screen of the top infotainment system, ‘Discover Premium’, that is curved towards the driver.

This also includes the control of the 2-zone air conditioning system or the 4-zone air conditioning systemas well as the activation of seat heating and seat ventilation. I

Natural light comes in through the largest panoramic sliding roof Volkswagen has ever realised in the vehicle interior. The transparent roof section is 1 270 mm long and 825 mm wide (inner dimension). The front half of the roof can be continuously opened and electrically moved back by 495 mm and raised.

An electrically activated cloth roller blind reduces the sun rays. Panoramic glass sunroof is offered as a standard feature.

The LED headlights use a matrix made of light spots – individual LEDs that can be activated. The matrix of the dipped beam is made up of a printed circuit with 48 LEDs while the circuit board of the main beam is fitted with 27 LEDs. The LEDs in the dipped and main beam module are arranged similar to a chessboard.

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There are various LEDs in addition to the total of 75 LEDs of the dipped and main beam. Including the surround lighting as well as the so-called signal functions (daytime running light and elevated side light as well as animated turn signal), there are a total of 128 LEDs per headlight. The Touareg therefore uses the power of a total of 256 LEDs in the various segments of the left and right headlights at the front to light the way.

This results in a range increase of more than 100 metres for the IQ Light Matrix LED headlights for the main beam.

As with pretty much all Volkswagen models these days the published price is for only the basic version and there is a long list of optional extras that can be added.

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Price (VAT and emissions tax included)

3.0 V6 TDI 190kW (Luxury) R999 800
3.0 V6 TDI 190kW (Executive) R1 088 200

The new Touareg comes standard with a 5 year/100 000 km Maintenance Plan, 3 year/120 000 km warranty, 12-year anti-corrosion warranty and space saver spare wheel. Service Interval is 15 000 km.

 

STANDARD FEATURES – LUXURY
Exterior

  • Design package (Scuff plates, trapezoidal tailpipes, decorative aluminium trim & boot edge trim)
  • LED taillight clusters
  • Alloy wheels: 19-inch Esperance
  • LED Headlights, with LED Daytime Running Lights
  • Roof rails, silver-anodised

 

Interior

  • Multi-function steering wheel in leather, with shift paddles
  • ergoComfort “Vienna” seats: Leather trim with seat heating,
    4-way adjustable lumbar support and rear centre armrest

 

Features

  • Easy Open/Easy Close (Keyless Access with Easy Open sensor; Power opening and closing tailgate)
  • Electrically Foldable Towbar with Trailer Assist
  • Parking Package: rear view camera with Park Assist and Park Distance Control
  • Lights and Vision Package
  • Electrically folding towbar
  • Memory Package: Power seat adjustment for front seats with memory feature, memory function and power folding mirrors
  • Active climate front seats
  • Climatic air conditioning
  • Adaptive Cruise Control ACC ”Stop & Go” including speed limiter
  • Front Assist (”Pre Sense”)
  • Panoramic sunroof
  • “Discover Pro” navigation system
  • Light Assist High-Beam control
  • App Connect
  • Volkswagen Media Control

 

STANDARD FEATURES – Executive
(in addition to the features of the Luxury)
Exterior
• R-Line Exterior: R-Line design front and rear bumpers with R-Line logo on radiator grille an side fenders, R-Line design on lower door parts, stainless steel load edge protection, chrome exhaust pipes integrated into bumper, chrome decorative trims on side windows, scuff plates in stainless steel with R-Line logo in front
• IQ Light Matrix LED headlights and LED Taillights with dynamic indicators

Interior
• White ambient lighting
• Black headliner
• Pedals in brushed stainless steel
• Centre console in gloss black/ silver
• Decorative inserts in Silver Wave
• R-Line ergoComfort seats in Vienna Leather trim with seat heating, 4-way adjustable lumbar support and rear centre armrest
• Leather wrapped R-Line multi-function sports steering wheel with shifting paddles
• Climatronic in front and multi-zone controls in the rear (4-zone)

Features
• Headlamp washer system
• Dynamic Chassis Control with tyre pressure monitor system

 

Road Review – Hyundai H1 Bus

Many, many years ago in my relative infancy as a motoring scribe a colleague and I – perhaps after a longer than normal lunch – conspired to come up with what we fondly imagined was a shriekingly funny headline for a story; ‘Forget about us, we’re on the bus’.

It wasn’t, it isn’t and yet, in that rather bizarre way in which this world of our operates, it is aptly descriptive of the time spent with the new look Hyundai H1 Bus.

It took no time at all behind the wheel to forget I was driving a bus and to start treating it like a car, albeit one with rather enhanced forward vision – the big reminder always the step up to get into the vehicle.

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There is both good and bad in that – the good being as a people mover, the ease of driving makes light work of the fact it is a big vehicle and the bad; well, it really is not designed to be ‘Vetteled’ at speed like a race car on twisty roads.

Not that it actually minds, coming fully equipped with anti-lock braking and a stability control system to temper over enthusiasm back to more reasonable limits.

The new look for the H1 Bus is dominated by redesigned nose section, giving the 9-seater bus (and its panel van sibling) a modern look that fits in with the styling of the passenger car and SUV range of the Korean manufacturer.

New 17-inch alloy wheels are added to the 2,5-litre turbo-diesel derivative on test, while the addition of an infotainment centre with a large touch-screen enhances the list of interior luxury and comfort features in both 9-seater derivatives.

A steering wheel that can now adjust for reach as well as height makes the driving position in the H1 even more comfortable and a rear camera as parking assistance, with display in the rear-view mirror, is a luxury feature in the 2.5 Turbodiesel Bus – and is extremely useful for shuttling around tight spaces considering it is 5,1 metres long!

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Night driving is now improved with the addition of projection-style headlights that illuminate the road ahead and to the side more effectively.

Other standard features include Bluetooth connectivity for the infotainment’s sound system with multifunction controls on the steering wheel, cruise control, full automatic air-conditioner with climate control, glove box cooling, side air bags and power folding mirrors.

The 2 497 cc turbo-charged diesel engine delivers 125 kW maximum power at 3 600 r/min and 441 Nm maximum torque at 2 250 r/min driving the rear wheels through a 5-speed automatic gearbox.

Those values are more than enough to negate any noticeable losses when the vehicle is fully laden with adult passengers and the benefit of the turbo at higher altitudes will also minimise any power losses.

It is no slouch and more than happy to ‘get-up-and-go’ when the loud pedal is pressed. In normal driving both in town and on the open road the gearbox is smooth and efficient in adapting to driver input and changing conditions – enough that most will not need to switch it into the sportier manual mode.

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Rack and pinion steering ensures crisp responses while hydraulic assistance reduces the effort required in tight situations. The H1 Bus is easy to park and along with the generous glass area and substantial mirrors, there is the park-assist rear-view camera.

The H1 series is equipped with McPherson type strut with gas shock absorbers for its front suspension and for the H1 9-seater Bus a rigid axle 5-link rear suspension with oil-filled shock absorbers ensures a comfortable ride.

Pricing includes Hyundai’s 5-year/150 000 km warranty, with an additional 2 years/50 000 km manufacturer’s powertrain warranty, as well as a 5 year/150 000 km roadside assistance plan and 5-year/90 000 km service plan.

So, forget about us, we’re on the bus!

Road Review – Nissan Micra Acenta

Perhaps it was a fitting introduction to the Nissan Micra that assembled motoring scribes gazed through the glass at uShaka Marine World at the myriad sharks swimming lazily around their tank before being introduced to the car that sported, well, a ‘sharkish’ nose.

For South Africans the Micra was an all-new model from Nissan. For the world, it was the third generation of a car first launched into the Japanese market in October of 1982, boasting a body style originally penned by Fiat.

The second generation (also called the March) appeared in 1992 and introduced some safety specification not the norm on cars in this market segment and the third interation was introduced to the Japanese market in February 2002 and to the European market in early 2003.

The car was radically redesigned and featured a new, 70 mm longer wheelbase (developed with Renault) and an even more curvy exterior that was taller and slightly wider. Its most distinctive feature was a pair of prominent headlamps that extended to the wing-tops.

At this juncture it is worth dealing with the elephant – the latest, fourth generation, continues the association with Renault even more closely and calling it a Clio with a body kit is much less of an accusation than a statement of fact.

While much of that is true, Nissan has given the new car its own identity with styling reflecting the more modern trend coming from the Japanese automaker – the front of the Micra looking familial with the recently launched and updated Leaf.

The new Nissan Micra has dynamic hatchback proportions and features a sculpted body with strong and sharp character lines visible from every angle.

At the front is a shortened bonnet design and reduced A-pillar angle, while narrow headlamps stretch through the front wings and include signature LED daytime running lights on every trim level. Halogen headlamps are standard on all grades. The lights frame Nissan’s familiar ‘V-motion’ grille, reinterpreted to complete the new Micra’s front-end design.

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Below the car’s sloping roofline is a character that runs the entire length of the new Micra’s body, dipping as it passes over the front door and sweeping upwards towards the rear. The black B and C-pillars create a floating roof effect, while the C-pillar is home to the discrete door handles, which provide access for rear passengers.

At the rear are new boomerang-shaped light clusters. Below, the bumper features a carbon-look finish as standard and hides the car’s exhaust pipe. Above is the sports-style rear roof spoiler, also standard to enhance aerodynamic performance. Together, these features create a recognisable motif for the back of the car.

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Inside, it boasts two-tone soft-touch materials as standard across the range and the cabin is based around a T-shaped ‘gliding wing’ dashboard, with simple structures that create excellent space for the driver and front passenger.

Special attention was given to the design of the front seats in order to provide continuous back support, helping to decrease driver fatigue on long journeys. The car’s width means enhanced elbow space for rear passengers, who also benefit excellent shoulder and knee room.

In the same way as other ‘small’ cars have steadily grown in length and girth with every generation, the new Micra partly follows the trend – the revised interior not only feeling more spacious but, being more comfortable to drive as a result.

Boot capacity is a competitive 300 litres and delivered without compromising on rear passenger knee room and that expands to 1 004 litres when the 60:40 split rear seats are folded down.

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Standard specification includes daytime running lights, front power windows, air-conditioning, a Bluetooth and MP3 compatible audio system, cruise control, automatic headlights and six air bags.

The Acenta adds 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights while the 7-inch touch-screen colour display on the allows the driver to access features such as music, messages and maps through Apple CarPlay.

Every new Micra comes with six air bags as standard, plus seat belt warnings and seat belt height adjustment for the front and rear. Isofix child seats are standard in the new Micra, including in the front passenger seat. Electronic safety systems include Vehicle Dynamic Control, Anti-locking Braking System, Electronic Brake force Distribution and Hill Start Assist.

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For the time being there is only engine on offer – the three-cylinder 898 cc unit offering 66 kW at 5 500 r/min and 140 Nm at 2 250 r/min from the turbo-charged petrol engine. CO2 emissions are 115 g/km and the claimed overall fuel consumption is 5,1 l/100 km – reality being a bit tougher to beat, we bested around 5,6 l/100 km.

Sound and motion do not always correlate and the angry buzz of the sewing machine engine sounds more strained than the forward motion it is creating – I suppose ‘enthusiastic’ would be the correct adjective to use here.

Designed to be a city runabout, one should get carried away by acceleration and top speed to concentrate on the fit for task atrributes – and here the Micra does exactly what is intended of it. It is willing and able to get up to speed with accompanying traffic, find tiny little gaps in said traffic and get itself parked in width-challenged parking spaces.

A right, proper city car.

However, it more than that. The new Micra has been built on Nissan’s existing V-platform and has been significantly enhanced to deliver new levels of performance.

It provides exceptional stability and reduced body roll through corners thanks to its high body stiffness and advanced suspension. In addition, the low driving position promoted by the excellent ergonomics of the interior reduces the centre of gravity, further enhancing the secure driving feel.

Responsive and accurate steering comes from a new brushless electric power unit, and provides a high degree of manoeuvrability.

Providing you are not transporting the Springbok front row, the Micra has more than enough space to remain comfortable to be in over quite extended drive periods.

As with all other Nissan vehicles, the Nissan Micra is covered by Nissan Assured and comes with a 6-year/150,000km warranty; a 3-year/90,000km service plan; and 24/7 roadside assistance.