Road Review – Hyundai Atos 1.1 Motion

When Hyundai discontinued the Atos in 2014, this did not sit well with a legion of potential entrants to the car market who saw its replacement, the i10, as being above their pay grade – this particularly in emerging markets such as South Africa, where the Atos had built up a formidable reputation.

Launched locally late last year, the Atos is back as a true entry-level offering with a whack of specification to go with it.


Some history – the Hyundai Atos is a city car that was produced by the South Korean manufacturer from 1997 until 2014. The development project for a Hyundai minicar started in October 1995 after Daewoo had already put in place the production of a compact car, the Matiz.

In just 23 months, with a total investment of $155-million dollars, the car passes from the blank sheet to production in September 1997 and is presented as the Atos, less than 3,50 metres long, characterised by a soft design, but a spacious interior thanks to the shape of the body, five doors and five seats.

Hyundai created a specific base platform, very simple in the mechanical and economic setting to produce because the car had to be sold in emerging markets and therefore have a low price list: the front wheel drive scheme was adopted, with MacPherson front suspension and a torsion-beam suspension at the rear, front disc brakes and rear drum brakes.

Fast forward to 2019 and, while the dimensions and ground clearance are on par with its rivals, it is the whole package with a complete list of features the Atos offers at a most competitive price, which will perk the interest of new car buyers.


The good looks of the new Atos, with its modern stylish ‘tall boy design’, is another aspect of the car that attracts attention. Inside the body, with outer dimensions of 3,61 m and 1,64 m, is a cabin that allows a lot of headspace and legroom, with good visibility and ergonomics that ensures a comfortable ride.

The list of standard features includes an infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen and Apple Carplay and Bluetooth connectivity, an onboard computer, a multifunction steering with remote buttons for the radio, sound system and Bluetooth-connected cell phone, a dedicated USB charging socket that also serves as a connection point for Apple’s Carplay, as well as an extra 12V power socket, air-conditioner and electrically controlled front side windows.


The safety package comprises crash bags for the driver and front passenger, anti-lock braking, EBD and ISOFIX child seat attachment points on the rear seat bench.

All round, a pretty good package – an important word in this review – for an entry-level car, along with pricing that puts it back in play in the segment it belongs and displacing the i10 as an option (now only available as the pricier Grand i10).


Built on an all-new platform with bigger dimensions than its predecessor, a spacious cabin and sporting superior ride and handling with low NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels, the new Atos has the credentials to be at the top of the shopping list of buyers in the entry-level car segment.

Having spent a week behind the wheel, the Atos surpasses expectations in all of those departments, never putting out that constricted feeling prevalent in many small cars even when filled with four adults.

It is comfortable, looks, feels modern and can stand proud in any parking lot.


The 50 kW maximum power the Atos’ 1 086 cc engine delivers at 5 500 r/min, as well as the maximum torque of 99 Nm which comes at 2 800 r/min, compares very favourably with a range of competitors in its market segment.

Emissions at 127 g/km do not quite make the zero penalty level of 120 g/km and something Hyundai will, hopefully, be able to rectify in new iterations of this engine.

Fuel consumption, tested in a real-world combined cycle, is 5,8 l/100 km and acceleration from rest to 100 km/h is a leisurely 14,6 seconds.

The Atos is available only as a 5-speed manual and this probably suits the package best, maximising both power and torque through each gear to ensure it keeps pace with traffic flow and onwards to a top speed around 152 km/h.

Good all-round visibility means ‘taking the gap’ is much less of a lottery decision and the Atos is agile enough to handle swift changes of direction without becoming unduly unsettled.


On the open road, it holds its own against all but the longest and steepest of hills where some rowing through the gearbox is required to maintain momentum. Equally, while never intended to be hurled into corners in boy racer mode, the Atos might surprise some with its neutral handling and positive stance on the road.

One of the most important features of the package is the 7-year/200 000 km warranty that goes with a 1-year service plan and roadside assistance for 7 years or 150 000 km.

Welcome back, old friend.



Honda BR-V gets a refresh

Several changes have been made to the 2020 Honda BR-V range including the addition of added noise insulation to go with the subtle styling amendments.

“The BR-V remains one of our core models in the local line-up, and is currently the only seven-seater sport utility vehicle (SUV) in its price class,” says Dinesh Govender, General Manager of Automobiles at Honda Motor Southern Africa. “This affords the BR-V a significant advantage over its competitors, and consistently makes it one of our top two best-sellers in South Africa along with the Honda Amaze compact sedan.


“The updates for 2020 build on the BR-V’s reputation for style, along with comfort and driving convenience,” Govender adds. “Several new technologies have been introduced, including LED daytime running lights, rear parking sensors on the Comfort and Elegance models, as well as an attractive and easy-to-use touchscreen Audio Display for the flagship derivatives. This enhances the value proposition of the BR-V and makes it an even more competitive offering in its segment.”

LED Daytime Running Lights are now incorporated into the lower portion of the redesigned headlight clusters.

It is now equipped with rear parking sensors on the mid-range Comfort and top-spec Elegance models to make parking manoeuvres significantly easier. The BR-V Elegance also features a seven-inch Display Audio touchscreen system with an integrated reverse parking camera.


Furthermore, driving comfort has been significantly improved through the addition of extra soundproofing insulation material. This reduces the amount of road and engine noise entering the cabin, lending the BR-V a quieter and more refined drive.

The 1,5-litre i-VTEC four-cylinder engine continues to power the BR-V range, delivering 88 kW of power at 6 600 r/min and peak torque of 145 Nm at 4 600 r/min.


The BR-V Trend is offered with a six-speed manual gearbox only, while Comfort and Elegance models are available with a six-speed manual or a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

 Anti-lock brakes are fitted across the range, along with dual front crash bags. Anti-theft security is provided by means of an engine immobiliser, remote central locking and speed-sensitive auto door locking. Power windows all-round and air-conditioning add comfort and convenience, and a four-speaker audio system is provided incorporating Bluetooth and USB connectivity.

 Externally the BR-V Comfort is distinguished by 16-inch alloy wheels, with a new introduction for this model being the addition of practical rear parking sensors.

In line with its Comfort specification, fully automated climate control with roof-mounted vents between the front and centre rows distributes air to the rear-seat passengers. The driver’s seat benefits from height adjustment and a centre armrest.


Additional features include an auto up/down function for the driver’s window, power switch to allow locking and unlocking from inside the car, as well as a factory-fitted alarm system.

 Exclusive to the updated flagship BR-V Elegance model is a new seven-inch Display Audio system, located above the climate controls in the centre stack of the dashboard. The full-colour display incorporates an integrated reverse parking camera, which complements the newly-introduced rear parking sensors.

Visually the Elegance model stands out thanks to its silver-hued front and rear bumper garnishes, chrome finishes for the door handles and side door protectors, along with front fog lights.

Luxurious leather upholstery adorns the seats which further enhances the upmarket cabin ambience, while Honda’s Smart Entry system allows convenient keyless unlocking and starting of the car without the driver having to remove the key from their pocket or bag.


BR-V 1.5 Trend Manual R258 800
BR-V 1.5 Comfort Manual R291 500
BR-V 1.5 Comfort CVT R310 300
BR-V 1.5 Elegance Manual R314 400
BR-V 1.5 Elegance CVT R333 000

All models come standard with a five-year/200 000 km warranty, and three-year AA Roadside Assist. A new four-year/60 000 km extended service plan is included on the Honda BR-V Comfort and Elegance models, and is available as an option on the Trend. Service intervals are every 15 000 km.


Time to prepare

There is a saying along the lines of “if something can go wrong, it will”. Sadly, this applies to AARTO, being trumpeted by Government as the panacea to our horrific road traffic casualty rate.

It is not and, in all likelihood, its administration will be plagued by inefficiency and corruption.

However, it has potentially disastrous consequences for individuals and companies who are not preparing themselves properly ahead of the proposed launch.

Speed camera

If any company still has their doubts about changing their drivers’ behaviour and preparing before AARTO is implemented, here is an example of how bad driving behaviours can go from bad to catastrophic in one day.

A company driver is driving at 90 km/h in a 60 km/h speed zone and is subsequently caught by a fixed speed camera. On the way back from his meeting, he drove the same speed in the same speed zone and received his second fine for the day.


The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says in a few months’ time this will have even more serious consequences than currently.

“Right now, he will receive a hefty fine. Once AARTO is in full effect, each infringement will receive six demerit points. The driver would have earned 12 demerit points in one day. Assuming he had a perfect record before this, one more demerit would result in his license being suspended for three months. Additionally, he can still expect a large fine as well.

“An example like this, illustrates how dangerous it is for both employees and employers to not prepare for AARTO. Within the space of a day, a driver’s livelihood and a productive member of the company’s fleet are both placed at serious risk. Without even considering the safety risks, no business can risk their workforce being incapacitated by the consequences of bad driving behaviour.”

action-asphalt-automobile-automotive- by Taras Makarenko from Pexels

There are still a few months left before AARTO is fully implemented.

“This example should motivate every business to prepare. While no business is eager to take on the extra admin or consider what would happen if their drivers could no longer legally be on the roads, it is a folly not to do so. If you have not already implemented a road safety culture, start encouraging this attitude now. If you have and there are drivers who still receive fines periodically, consider further remedial action.

“MasterDrive acknowledges the importance of being prepared and that this preparation is different for each level in an organisation. Training has been specifically developed for each to explain their roles and highlight how important it is that you take AARTO seriously,” emphasises Herbert.

Hardbody fails crash test again

The smelly stuff has hit the fan again with a second crash test by Global NCAP using a locally-built Nissan NP300 Hardbody – this time crashed into a second-hand European Nissan Navara NP300 – in which the South African spec failed dismally.

The unique car to car crash test graphically demonstrates the double standard currently applied by Nissan and other car makers to vehicle safety in Africa.


The difference in safety performance between the new African model and the second-hand European version is a matter of life and death.

The crash test driver dummy in the new African Nissan would have likely sustained fatal injuries, the driver of the equivalent second-hand European model would have likely walked away from the crash. The second-hand European car is fitted with the lifesaving crash avoidance anti-skid system, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), the new African version is not.

Watch the Car to Car crash test film here:

Launched to coincide with this week’s 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Sweden, both of the crashed vehicles will be on public display as part of the ‘People’s Exhibition’ in Stockholm Central Railway Station. Global NCAP is partnering with the Global NGO Alliance for Road Safety in hosting the exhibition.

The call to action from the #50by30 themed display will be the adoption of a new target to halve road deaths and serious injuries by 2030 by governments worldwide.

“This is a very dramatic car to car crash test, which uniquely illustrates the double standard in vehicle safety performance between models sold in Europe and those sold in Africa,” says David Ward CEO and President of Global NCAP.

“The difference in crashworthiness is extraordinary. The new Nissan Hardbody performs significantly worse than the second-hand Nissan Navara, to the extent the driver in the new African Nissan would likely have died from their injuries but the driver from the second-hand European Nissan would have walked away.

“A new car in Africa is not necessarily a safer car. Second-hand imported cars from regions with tougher regulatory requirements for safety, and environmental performance, can offer consumers much greater protection.

“Our aim in publishing this crash test result to coincide with the Global Ministerial Conference in Sweden is very clear. As we approach the end of the first UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, and set an agenda for the next 10 years, the double standard demonstrated by an auto manufacturer such as Nissan with the NP300 in Africa is utterly unacceptable.”


Saul Billingsley, Executive Director of the FIA Foundation added: “Does Nissan believe an African life is worth less than a European life? If not, how does the company explain the shocking safety gap between these two vehicles demonstrated by Global NCAP? If we are to meet the 2030 target of halving road deaths we must stamp out this kind of unethical behaviour by some in the car industry.”

“These results are extremely worrying and point to a major deficiency in the quality of vehicles available in Africa. We have for a long time been concerned that vehicles available in Africa are inferior to those in other markets such as Europe and Asia, and these results seem to confirm that concern,” says Willem Groenewald, CEO of the AA.

“What this car to car crash also demonstrates is a complete disdain for African vehicle consumers and their safety at the expense of profit. It also again highlights the need for stricter regulation of standards and tougher controls in terms of allowing these inferior vehicles on to African roads.”

“On a final note, we endorse David’s sentiments that higher safety-rated second-hand vehicles are a better option than lower-rated new vehicles, especially in light of these poor results which clearly show the devastating impact on families and society of inferior models which are sold in Africa.”

The Nissan NP300 was previously tested by Global NCAP in 2018 as part of the #SaferCarsForAfrica campaign and received a zero star safety rating. The vehicle structure collapsed and was found to be unstable during the test. The high forces placed on the crash test driver dummy pose a significant risk of fatal injury.

The NP300’s bodyshell was so unstable the crash bags were ineffective.

The Nissan Navara NP300 was previously tested by Euro NCAP in 2015 and achieved a four star adult occupant rating.

Road Review – Nissan Micra 1.0 Tekna Plus

The towering Neil Peart drum solo on Rush’s ‘La Villa Strangiato’ absolutely needs extreme volume and through a sound system that does justice to the impeccable clarity of the late drummer’s stickwork – and, in a car one normally associates that requirement with upper echelon luxury models.

Not so. Kitted out with Bose Personal sound system, the newest addition to the Nissan Micra range provides just the right ambience for extracting every little bit of head-banging pleasure out of the efforts of the Canadian band.

Nissan Micra-514

On the automotive side, the newest Micra is fitted with an 84 kW power plant to up its on-road beat.

The new 84 kW engine was developed by the Renault-Nissan Alliance, in conjunction with Daimler and it is available in three derivatives, including the Acenta Plus, Tekna and Tekna Plus grade, the subject of this review.

Nissan Micra-520

The updated model comes standard with sport suspension, sport exhaust tail pipe fin, Smart (keyless) entry, push start button, rear parking sensors, automatic folding exterior mirrors, leather steering wheel and shift lever, Intelligent Around View Monitor, Moving Object Detection and blind spot warning.

Additionally, it has LED headlights and front fog lights, automatic air-conditioner and automatic headlight levelling and the Tekna Plus, with ‘Invigorating Red’ interior personalisation, leather heated seats and ‘Enigma Black’ exterior colour.

 The fifth generation Nissan Micra first hit South African streets last June, so the exterior lines of the new version are not changed, the chunky styling cues first initiated by the Juke, characterising the car that plays in quite a crowded small auto arena.

Nissan Micra-211

The strong lines and modern finishes give this city car an undeniably athletic feel and the two-tone interior finishes add a touch of class – although I feel the off-white finish will tend to discolour quite quickly even with regular input of ‘elbow grease’ to keep them clean.

The turbo-charged 1,0-litre petrol engine that produces 84 kilowatts of power – 18 kilowatts more than its predecessors – and 180 Newton metres of torque, makes a significant difference to the driving experience with more confidence-inspiring overtaking ability and being less sluggish off the line.

The DIG-T (Direct Injection Gasoline – Turbo) engine features a number of technical innovations, which allow it to deliver performance while maintaining high fuel economy and low CO2 emissions.

One of these innovations is the delta cylinder head – a world first for a 1,0-litre petrol engine – which makes for a more compact and lightweight engine and provides for an increase in available impact protection space and greater freedom in the design of the car’s bonnet.

Another is the bore spray coating on the cylinders. Developed from the Nissan GT-R supercar, this reduces the friction in the cylinder, improves heat management and combustion, cuts weight and improves fuel economy and CO2 emissions.

Nissan Micra-236

The drive is further improved by the suspension that has been dropped by 10 mm and features revised tuning to improve overall handling – and it works, with the Micra more go-kart in its approach to tight corners and more firmly planted on the road, even when vigorously ‘chucked’ in.

The steering has also been fine-tuned and is quicker and lighter to use without losing anything on precision or feedback to the driver.

However, it is not always about getting around on the limits of adhesion and sometime the Rush needs to be taken slowly and the stationary traffic enjoyed.

The 360-degree sound stage in the Tekna and Tekna Plus comes via a Bose Personal sound system, complete with headrest speakers.

Nissan Micra-205

The Bose Personal sound system breaks new ground in automotive audio by for the first time delivering a superior, driver-focused listening experience in a compact car and includes an amplifier under the driver’s seat, wide-range speakers in the front doors, tweeters in the dashboard – which deliver sonic clarity and punch – and two 6 cm UltraNearField speakers in the driver’s headrest.

The headrest set-up makes use of Bose PersonalSpace Virtual Audio Technology to produce a wide sound field with a clear sound image and musical depth and offer a range of listening options, from precise front-focused sound to a much wider and enveloping experience in which the sound feels like it is coming from places in the car where there are no speakers.

As with previous versions, the updated model is also compatible with Apple Carplay and Android Auto to make interacting with a phone while driving smarter and safer.

As a package, the Micra is a fun little car that punches well above its weight in several areas, setting a benchmark in the segment.


Mitsubishi ups ante on ASX

Mitsubishi Motors South Africa has sneaked the revamped ASX into the market, the update bringing with it new looks and a performance improvement.


“The new ASX has an even more attractive appearance front and back as well as a variety of improvements and performance spec,” says Nic Campbell, General Manager of Mitsubishi Motors South Africa (MMSA).

The Mitsubishi ASX was first introduced in South Africa in September 2011. The introduction of the original ASX has opened Mitsubishi Motors as a brand to younger families seeking access to the Mitsubishi SUV way of life with gutsy performance to match.

“Last year was a landmark year for Mitsubishi Motors South Africa with the introduction of various new models bringing a host of new customers to the brand. The significantly refreshed ASX is keeping this momentum as our first new-model introduction for 2020,” says Campbell.


“The new ASX offers the best balance in design, technology and price and serves as an attractive cross-over SUV for our customers, with a spacious interior, roomy boot and fuel efficiency of a smaller car.”

The newly designed frontal exterior includes a new bonnet, LED headlights and LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) as well as LED fog lamps with integrated turning signals, a redesigned radiator grille and a brand-new front bumper face.

At the rear the new ASX receives a new lighting package as well – LED brake lights, LED tail lights, LED reverse lights and integrated turning signals in the one-piece cluster.


The enhanced interior includes a variety of new features in the centre of the front console housing the cabin controls, including Mitsubishi’s improved new Smartphone-link Display Audio (SDA) with a new 8-inch WVGA display and touch controls as well as USB power supply for a mobile phone. The SDA also includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The extended list of features includes electric power steering with a tilt and telescopic adjustable steering column, the multi-function leather steering wheel connected to the new SDA as well as cruise control, fully automatic air-conditioning and power windows front and rear.


The ASX uses the latest version of the 2,0-litre MIVEC aluminium engine, offering 110 kW at 6 000 r/min and 197 Nm at 4 200 r/min, driving through a INVECS-III 6-step CVT or a 5-speed manual.

A new ‘Ds’ position for the Sport Mode gear shift control has been added, which maintains sport mode even after a stop, providing the driver with improved driving pleasure and comfort.

The ASX now boasts an improved towing capacity of 1 260 kg (braked) for the manual transmission and 750 kg for the CVT (unbraked), with 1 206 litres of cargo capacity with the rear seats folded down (406 litres with the seats in use).

 The safety features now include Hill Start Assist (HSA) and ASTC – an important safety feature in rain and on gravel roads whilst manoeuvring.


Apart from additional features, the new ASX retains its advanced passive and active safety technology, including seven crash bags, Side Impact Protection Bars in the doors, a Collapsible Steering Column, Brake Pedal Recession Protection and Whiplash Injury Reduction Seats.

The ASX is covered by Mitsubishi Motors’ Manufacturer’s Warranty of 3 years or 100 000 km, a 5-year / 90 000 km Service Plan and a 5-year / unlimited mileage Roadside Assistance. Service intervals are scheduled at every 15 000 km or once a year.


NEW ASX 5-speed M/T R379 995

NEW ASX 6-speed A/T CVT R399 995


Renault’s tribe expands

Renault is expanding its range of SUV options with the launch of the Triber as a 7-seater (easily convertible to five) with a 1,0-litre petrol engine – the base version tickling the wallet for R164 900 inclusive of a 2-year / 30 000 km Service Plan and 5-year / 150 000 km Warranty.


The Triber has ground clearance of 182 mm and offers 100 possible seating configurations along with 625-litres of boot space (in 5-seater mode).

The ultra-modular seating configurations include: CAMP MODE [2-seater]; SURF MODE [4-seater]; LIFE MODE [5-seater] and TRIBE MODE [7-seater] and the EasyFix seats allow for the two rear seats within the third row to be completely removed with ease to allow for optimised space.


It features projector headlights, roof rails (with a load capacity of 50 kg), LED daylight running lights and Eagle beak tail lamps – prominent horizontally designed lights that overflow onto the tailgate.


Inside is a modern interior with dual-tone trim, a dual-tone dashboard with silver accents and a digital instrument cluster with LED illumination and sportier graphics. The ergonomically designed power steering wheel with thumb contours further complements the well-considered interior, ensuring less effort to turn the wheel for a sharper turning angle.

The 8-inch MediaNav Evolution touchscreen comes integrated with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Voice Command button and video playback on the screen, while a Smart Access Card for Keyless Entry and Stop/ Start functionality enable an easier driving experience.

The 1,0-litre 3-cylinder petrol Energy Engine with a dual VVT system generates 52 kW with 96 Nm torque and offers a claimed fuel consumption of only 5,5 l/ 100 km.


The Triber is equipped with anti-lock braking and high passive safety level with equipment such as: emergency lock retractor, 3-point front and second row seat belts (side only) with retractors, 3-point third row seat belts without retractor, Pyrotechnic pre-tensioner driver seat belt, Load limiter driver and passenger seat belts, driver and passenger crash bags across the range, front side crash bags on Prestige and reinforced body structure.

The model range comes standard with a 2-year/ 30 000 km Service Plan, plus a 5-year/150 000 km mechanical warranty and a 6-year anti-corrosion warranty. Services take place at15 000 km intervals.



  • All-NEW Renault Triber Expression     1.0-litre ENERGY   R 164 900
  • All-NEW Renault Triber Dynamique     1.0-litre ENERGY   R 174 900
  • All-NEW Renault Triber Prestige          1.0-litre ENERGY   R 189 900