WRX – up close and personal

Tickets for the Gumtree World Rallycross of South Africa at Killarney Raceway in Cape Town on the November 24/25 are rapidly selling out – but, for those who cannot get tickets or make it to the circuit there is a chance to get up close and personal.


The RX Supercars will be making a quick stop at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town on Thursday, November 22. They will drive in convoy from the back of the Table Bay Hotel and park in the Amphitheatre near the Big Wheel where fans can get a look at the cars and interact directly with the drivers.

It all gets going at 11:00, and it is going to be a sight to behold: metal glistening in the warm summer sun, engines roaring through the streets, rubber burning, tyres screeching.

Petter Solberg will be there, as well as French legend Sebastien Loeb, Mattias Ekstrom, Kevin and Timmy Hansen, Andreas Bakkerud, our very own Ashley Haigh-Smith to mention a few.

“We see this as the precursor to a fantastically fast weekend,” says Claire Cobbledick, General Manger of Gumtree. “The parade will contain all the energy, excitement and power that is going to set the track alight on Saturday and Sunday and, against the majestic natural backdrop that is Cape Town, it is not to be missed. We urge all fans to be there.”

The good news does not stop – and local racer, Ashley Haig-Smith has been confirmed as an entry in the RX2 International Series presented by Cooper Tires, joining 15 other drivers for its 2018 season finale in Cape Town.

Ashley Haig-Smith 2

Although best known for his rallying exploits, having competed in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship – the only South African driver to have done so – and made history as the youngest-ever South African S1600 Champion, Haigh-Smith does have some rallycross experience under his belt. He made his debut in the discipline in last season’s inaugural World RX of South Africa at Killarney International Raceway with Olsbergs MSE.

Twelve months on, the 26-year-old – a Capetonian born-and-bred – is set to return to the fray, but this time in RX2, World RX’s official feeder series. Having caught the rallycross bug, he has struck a deal with Finnish outfit SET Promotion to take the place of Simon Syversen, who has vacated his seat in order to focus his preparations on 2019.

“I can’t wait to get back out on-track for the RX2 season finale in Cape Town,” says Haigh-Smith. “Last year’s event was epic, and it was a real honour to be a part of it. I’m really looking forward to representing South African motorsport and going head-to-head with the current cream of the RX2 crop – there are some extremely talented drivers in the field so it will certainly be a tough challenge, but I love a challenge!

“I need to thank Andreas Eriksson from Olsbergs MSE for the support he has shown me and especially Ian Davies for putting me in contact with Jussi Pinomäki from SET Promotion, who I am looking forward to working with next weekend. I’m passionate about proving that South African drivers can truly excel on the international stage, so hopefully I can go out there and really give the home fans something to cheer about!”

“It’s fantastic to have Ashley joining SET for the final round of RX2 in South Africa,” echoed SET Promotion Team Principal, Pinomäki. “The opportunity for him to drive with us came about because Simon has decided to skip the event as he focusses on his programme for 2019.

“The fact that Ashley has already raced at Killarney in World RX will help him to get up-to-speed more quickly than if everything was new to him. Our two regular RX2 drivers Sami-Matti Trogen and Jami Kalliomäki will go to Cape Town having shown good pace this season, and we will use that experience to help Ashley at his home event. If last year is anything to go by, he will receive huge support from the fans.”


Road Review – Mercedes-Benz Vito 111 CDI Tourer

That great singer, songwriter and raconteur, Dave Marks, wrote in his iconic 1968 song titled Master Jack “It’s a strange, strange world we live in…” – never realising just how prophetic those words would become.

Much as South Africans loathe the minibus taxis that unrepentently and brazenly flout every traffic law known to peoplekind, these vehicles do move thousands of workers to and from their homes every day; transport that is as vital to them as it is to the economy of the country.


Many are overcrowded but when the last possible is squeezed, those left behind may have a long wait before the next one travel that particular route – partly the reason, I suppose, why so many people glared at me as I trundled and empty Mercedes-Benz Vito 111 Pro past them.

The anticipation on their faces was unmissable as the vehicle hove into view, changing to a bit of eyebrow-raising since Mercedes is not the primary choice for taxi operators and then to disappointment and an occasional touch of anger as all those empty seats swept past.

Moving away from the taxi ranks, the Mercedes-Benz Vito has found favour with shuttle operators, hotels, small tour operators and corporates that have to provide staff transport.

The current Vito range is now newcomer and has been around for several years but, it is this specific derivative – the 111 CDI Tourer Pro – that has been given some small tweaks to improve its profile among those buyers.


While still a ‘base’ model it gains an anti-theft package with seating upped to nine with the fitment of a knee-breaker double co-driver seat. Rear door sliding windows improve air circulation.

I am no giant, but that central front seat is horrendously uncomfortable and suitable only for small children who, actually should still be seated in a proper child seat. Still, one has to assume the change comes from customer demand!


The Mercedes-Benz Vito is a versatile and real professional among mid-size vans with a permissible gross vehicle weight between 2,8 tonnes and 3,05 tonnes.

When the new Vito was launched the slab-sided design of the original gave way to a much more aerodynamic profile, with the company quite proud of the fact it had a drag co-efficient of just 0,32 – and this does have a significant effect on fuel consumption.

In my various test cycles I managed to get the consumption down as low a 5,2 l/100 km on the open road and, adding a bit of rural driving this moves up to around 5,9 l/100 km. However, in the real world much of the time this vehicle will be in use will be short-hop stuff and probably plenty of traffic, so drivers should expect around 7,8 l/100 km.

Still, not too shabby for a vehicle that is 5 140 mm in length and has a tare mass of 1 900 kilograms.

For the new generation the cockpit was completely redesigned, for functionality and ergonomics and this clear and uncluttered space is vital for working drivers who will see that as their ‘office’. The cockpit has an exceptionally high-quality look for this vehicle class.


What does vanish with the centre seat is a lot of the stowage capacity for oddments since there is no longer a midle storage bin.

The front-wheel drive Vito  has a transverse-mounted, compact four-cylinder engine with a displacement of 1,6 litres and  produces 84 kW at 3 800 r/min with peak torque of 270 Nm coming in from 1 500 r/min, driving through a six-speed manual gearbox.

Considering its use, it is the torque that is the most important factor and, even with a full load, it will pootle along in a suitably fuel-saving high gear – and not having to constantly ‘row’ it along is also far less tiring for the driver.

It has a load capacity of 990 litres and is able to tow an unbraked mass of 750 kilograms.

City driving is less strenuous than the length of the Vito would suggest – however, it does have a large turning circle of 12,9 metres and the width (including mirrors) of 2 244 mm does just about fit a correctly sized parking bay.

Park Distance Control is an optional extra but the large electrically operated side mirrors provide a good view of what is going on behind and make squeezing into tight spaces in reverse rather easy.


Standard features include anti-lock braking and dual front air bags, air-conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, auto on headlights, fog lights, high-level third brake light, towbar and heated side mirrors.

Mercedes-BenzVans offers a 5-year /120 000 km service plan for all derivatives of the newVito. It is also available on Mercedes-Benz Financial Services’industry-leading leasing agreement Agility, and is offered with CharterWay, the manufacturer’s range of maintenance plans.

Safety spec to GO

Rarely has a car had so much criticism heaped upon it as the Datsun GO when it was first launched in South Africa – heavily castigated for the fact it lacked both air bags and anti-lock brakes. Then, it did not fare at all well in the first round of the Global NCAP crash tests for South African models.

Datsun Go 2018-617

The new car has just been launched and addresses all of those issues and standard specification includes coloured power side mirrors, reverse parking sensors, intermittent wipers, central locking, an immobiliser, anti-lock braking, driver and passenger air bags and retractable seatbelts while the LUX grade benefits from daytime running lights, a rear wiper with washer and body colour door handles.

Despite the fingers pointed at it by the motoring media, the GO has sold well since its introduction in 2014 and understandably so. For private buyers in a failing economy, price overshadowed all other shortcomings and now, even with the upgrades, it remains extremely well priced.

Datsun Go 2018-530

“Our new Datsun GO and GO+ represent a new experience for consumers. With its fresh looks, modern features and advanced technologies, the new Datsun vehicles are made for progressive, ambitious customers with a sense of style,” says Nissan SA Marketing Director, Kabelo Rabotho.

The new Datsun GO and GO+ feature exterior and interior upgrades that give the vehicle a sporty appearance. They now have redesigned front grille and bumpers (front and rear) and 14-inch wheels.

Datsun Go 2018-529

The New GO and GO+ models are powered by a 1,2-litre petrol engine that produces 50 kW at 5 000 r/min and 104 Nm at 4 000 r/min paired with a 5-speed manual transmission.

Inside, the new GO and GO+ have Android Auto and Apple Car Play connectivity (as standard during the launch period), Bluetooth and USB, a glove box lid, front and rear power windows, electric power steering, electrically adjustable mirrors and redesigned individual seats for the driver and front passenger. The LUX grade GO models have an independent tachometer and a silver finish on the air-conditioner dial, vent and door handles.

Datsun Go 2018-100

The GO is a spacious 5-seater hatchback and the GO+ is a versatile 7-seater, which is also offered as a panel van.

Another key feature in this segment are Follow-Me-Home headlights that stay illuminated after you exit the car to provide much-needed light as you walk to your door. The timing can be set in intervals of 30 seconds to give you as much time as you might need.

The reverse parking sensors in both models feature an audible beeping warning that activates when reverse gear is engaged. This feature will give the driver confidence and improved manoeuvrability when reversing.

The suspension system, which features a double-pivot front arm enables greater agility while the tension from rough roads is absorbed by a high-response damper.

The front ventilated brake discs provide more consistent and effective braking and can extend brake-pad life by up to an impressive 27%. These discs, which are 22 mm thick, also require less pedal effort to stop in normal city driving conditions.

The speed-sensitive electric steering calculates the amount of steering assistance required based on vehicle speed and steering behaviour to offer light steering effort at low speed, and firm steering effort at high speed.

The Datsun GO has a class-leading turning circle of just 4,6 metres, which is perfect for city driving.

Datsun Go 2018-619

The Datsun GO and GO+ models come with a standard 3-year/100 000 km warranty and an optional service plan. In addition, consumers will receive one-year insurance with the purchase of a GO or GO+.

Datsun GO Mid Spec: R144 500
Datsun GO Lux Spec: R165 500
Datsun GO+ 7-seater Mid: R154 200
Datsun GO+ 7-seater Lux: R175 900
Datsun GO+ Panel Van: R155 200

Road Review – Renault Duster 1.5 dCi Dynamique EDC 4×2

The value proposition remains one of the strongest – and increasingly so – drivers of car sales around the world where pretty much all, except America if you believe Donald Trump, are having less than exciting economic times.


Since it first appeared some seven years ago, the Renault Duster, emerging rather like a Phoenix, has strongly maintained that value proposition in a practical, comfortable and generally well-structured vehicle.

To understand the Phoenix reference we have to go back to 1996 when the Romanian manufacturer, Dacia, came into being and started manufacturing Renault cars under licence – until the Bucharest Show of 1979 when it released the restyled 1310 model (even though the looks were inspired by Renault’s new styling on its 12).

Also known as the Dacia Denem in some markets its run ended in 1982 but a pickup version continued through to the mid-1990s along with a vehicle produced by another Romanian company, Aro, that utilised Dacia parts and was called the Dacia Duster in some markets.

In 1998, the anniversary year of three decades of production since the first Dacia rolled off the assembly line, vehicle number 2-million emerged from the plant and it was around this time the company had a brief sojourn in South Africa.

The cars and a station wagon were simply diabolical and, other than the Renault engine, looked and felt as if they were stuck together with chewing sum and spit – the general disdain for these cars generally probably a major influence on Renault’s decision to buy the company in 199 and stop the knock-on bad publicity.

The first ‘Renault’ out of the Dacia plant was the much publicised Logan, known as the Euro 5000 car because of it low (but never quite that low) starting price. Despite design-related criticism, it became one of the top-selling cars in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Russia.

In 2009, a new concept called the Dacia Duster was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show – Phoenix rising for the Dacia brand as the first completely new design and concept. This was also the inauguration of the platform that would be used for the second generation of the Logan and Sandero models, released in 2012

With more than 2-million cars sold globally, the Duster has now been revamped with all-new exterior styling.

For the new-generation Duster, the French carmaker makes use of the modified version of the BO/Logan platform – basically the same architecture that underpins the SUV’s current generation model.


Visually more muscular, it has an expressive front and rear, the stance emphasised by its bold, more horizontal lines, new wheels, new more prominent aluminium roof bars and front and rear skid plates that support its adventurer credentials.

The sleeker headlamps are pushed out to the corners. What adds more to its sporty appearance are new LED daytime running lamps, wide air-dam grille and new crease lines on the bonnet along with a new scratch resistant chrome-finish skid plate.

The vehicle comes with a higher belt line that not only enhances new looks, but strengthens the body as well. It features a raked windscreen that has been moved out by 100 mm to create extra space inside the cabin.

More significant than the exterior upgrades is the fact the slightly tacky plastic dashboard of the previous model has given way to a more elegant and tactile soft-touch design along with upgrades to the quality of the upholstery on the newly designed (and more comfortable) seats.


The Duster also offers a modular interior layout to easily adapt to needs, with the rear bench seat featuring a 1/3 – 2/3 split-fold function, while the boot boasts a loading capacity of up to 478-litres.

Now with keyless entry, a hands-free card automatically unlocks the doors on approach and automatically locks the car as you walk away.

Driver help functions include Blind Spot warning, automatic climate control, Speed Limiter and Cruise Control.

Active and passive safety technology includes anti-lock braking with EBD in conjunction with EBA (Emergency Brake Assist), while Rear Park Distance Control enables easier parking manoeuvres by warning the driver of obstacles situated behind the vehicle and Hill Start Assist.


The Diesel 1,5-litre turbo-charged engine outputs of 80 kW and 250 Nm with consumption down to 4,8 l/100 km if driven carefully. Real world testing including some dirt roads set this close to 5,3 l/100 km.

When it was first launched, the Duster impressed because of what it was, what it offered and where it was aimed.

The new version does all of that and more to the point of possibly being underrated. Taken in its correct context – ie not a BMW X1 competitor – the Duster is an extremely driveable vehicle for everyday use, has the ground clearance for some off-highway excursions and offers a low total cost of ownership.

In the compact SUV category where it competes with the likes of the Hyundai Creta, Mahindra KUV 100, Peugeot 2008 and Mazda CX3 it is, very much, the answer to a thinning wallet.

Again, keeping it all in context, it is not designed to be hurled into corners like a Formula 1 car and should you decide to try it, accept there is a fair amount of body roll and, with the 4×2, a propensity to plough on in understeer.


That said, it also does not offer unwelcome handling surprises and will remain obedient to driver inputs – these coming from a nice seating position that allows full visibility of the front corners at all times.

As is standard across Renault’s entire product range, the Renault Duster Model ranges 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 and a standard 3-year/45 000 km service plan applies.


Caddy range gains 1.0TSI Trendline

As the second best selling vehicle in the Volkswagen Commercial range, the Caddy now gains a 1.0 TSI derivative with Trendline specification.


Commenting on the reason behind introducing the petrol model, Mark Handley, Head of Sales and Marketing at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles says: ‘‘At R306 300, the 1.0 TSI Trendline Caddy offers exceptional value for our potential customers. Our aim is to increase the market share and positioning of the Caddy Trendline range.“

The 1.0 TSI Trendline joins the Caddy range that consists of the 2.0 TDI Trendline, the seven-seater Caddy Maxi and Caddy Alltrack models.

The Caddy Trendline incorporates a host of additional features and wider range of standard and optional equipment.

This new Caddy Trendline adds standard features such as ‘Composition Media’ radio with touchscreen, 16-inch ‘Bendigo’ alloy wheels, heated rear window, electrically adjustable and heated exterior mirrors, climatic air-conditioning system, power windows, leather steering wheel, height adjustable front seats, multi-function display, roof rails in black, under-seat storage, front fog lights with static cornering light and daytime running lights.


The Trendline can be customised with optional features such as Park Distance Control (front and rear) with rear view camera (not available with rear wing doors), cruise control, dark-coloured tail lights, removable towbar, Bi-xenon headlamps with separate LED daytime running lights and blacked-out tail lights including Light & Sight Package, multi-function leather steering wheel and rear wing doors.

The new Caddy 1.0 TSI Trendline has a power output of 75 kW and 175 Nm of torque paired with a five-speed manual gear box.

The new Caddy comes standard with a 3 year/60 000km Genuine AutoMotion Service Plan, 3-year/120 000 km warranty and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. Service Interval is 15 000 km.

Top racers confirmed

Eighteen of the world’s top rallycross drivers and nine different marques will be making the trip to Cape Town for the start of the Gumtree World Rallycross of South Africa at Killarney Raceway on November 24/25.


Kids under 12 are free, and there is loads of off-track entertainment, such as the majestic Silver Falcons Air Show and the Monster Energy Rig.

Current World Champion Johan Kristoffersson, who drives a factory-developed Volkswagen Polo Supercar for Team PSRX Volkswagen, tops the entry list. The Swede currently tops the 2018 Championship Leaderboard, intent on defending his 2017 title.

Compatriots Robin Larsson of Olsbergs MSE, Mattias Ekström of EKS Audi Sport, Timmy Hansen of Team Peugeot Total and his brother Kevin of Team Peugeot-Hansen are also in the mix, ensuring Sweden maintains a strong presence on the Cape track.

French legend Sebastien Loeb of Team Peugeot Total is the world’s most successful rally driver and will be looking to add to the six podiums he took in 2017, but he will have stiff competition at Killarney from Latvian champion Janis Baumanis of Team Stard and the highly experienced Russian Timur Timerzyanov of the GRX Taneco Team. All three are currently neck-and-neck in this year’s top 10.


Kristoffersson’s racing partner, Norwegian Petter Solberg will also be here, as will fellow countryman Andreas Bakkerud of EKS Audi Sport and the rising young Finn Niclas Grönholm of GRX Taneco Team.

Making up the rest of the pack are GC Kompetition drivers Guerlain Chicherit and Anton Marklund, ALL-INKL.COM Munnich 77 drivers Timo Schedier and Rene Munnich, Gregoire Demoustier of Sebastien Loeb Racing, Oliver Bennett of Oliver Bennett and Kevin Eriksson of Olsbergs MSE.


On Thursday, November 22 the World Rallycross Parade makes its way from the back of the Table Bay Hotel to the Amphitheatre at the V&A Waterfront where drivers, including Kristoffersson, Loeb and Solberg, will be signing autographs at a special meet and greet.
Official Drivers Entry List
# Driver                           Nat   Car                                                     Competitor                  Nat
1 Johan Kristoffersson SWE VW Polo R PSRX                               Volkswagen Sweden SWE
4 Robin Larsson            SWE Ford Fiesta                                         Olsbergs MSE             SWE
5 Mattias Ekstrom         SWE Audi S1 EKS RX quattro                  EKS Audi Sport           SWE
6 Janis Baumanis          LAT Ford Fiesta                                          Team Stard                  AUT
7 Timur Timerzyanov RUS Hyundai i20 GRX                                Taneco Team               FIN
9 Sebastien Loeb           FRA Peugeot 208 WRX                               Team Peugeot Total  FRA
11 Petter Solberg          NOR VW Polo R PSRX                                 Volkswagen Sweden SWE
13 Andreas Bakkerud NOR Audi S1 EKS RX quattro                     EKS Audi Sport          SWE
21 Timmy Hansen       SWE Peugeot 208 WRX                                Team Peugeot Total  FRA
36 Guerlain Chicherit FRA Renault Megane RS                              GC Kompetition         FRA
42 Oliver Bennett        GBR Mini Cooper                                           Oliver Bennett          GBR
44 Timo Schedier         DEU Seat Ibiza                                              ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport                                                                                                                                  DEU
66 Gregoire Demoustier BEL Peugeot 208                                   Sebastien Loeb Racing FRA
68 Niclas Gronholm    FIN Hyundai i20 GRX                                 Taneco Team               FIN
71 Kevin Hansen         SWE Peugeot 208 WRX                              Team Peugeot-Hansen SWE
77 Rene Munnich         DEU Seat Ibiza                                             ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport                                                                                                                                  DEU
92 Anton Marklund  SWE Renault Megane RS                                        GC Kompetition FRA
96 Kevin Eriksson     SWE Ford Fiesta                                                Olsbergs MSE          SWE


Win one of two sets of double tickets to the

WRX Final at Killarney on November 25/26

Note: This competition is open only to Cape Town residents

Answer the following question and email your response to colinwindell@gmail.com – the first two correct answers drawn will each win a General admission weekend pass; Standard Tickets valued at R430 (Includes Paddock Entry) both Saturday and Sunday.

Winners will be notified by return email.

Your reply must have a valid email address and include your name, physical address and contact number.


Who is currently lying THIRD in the Championship?