Road Review – Suzuki Dzire 1.2 GL

As I stepped out of the car at the shopping centre she launched herself in my direction from across the road, a battleship at full speed; her Walmart meme pink and yellow garb topped by curlers barely contained by a hair net.

She ground to a halt in front of me, breathless and ample bosom heaving. Drawing a large breath she demanded: “Is this the Suzuki Desiree?”

There simply is no answer to that.

While not exactly what Suzuki had in mind when it relaunched the updated Dzire as a brand identity separate to the Swift, it can take comfort in the fact there is interest in the ‘not a Swift with a boot’ small sedan.

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The Dzire was originally developed alongside the Suzuki Swift to offer a more family-orientated sedan body shape of the popular hatchback. It has since evolved to serve a large and distinctive market for young families and has become the most popular B-segment sedan in the world.

For the new Suzuki Dzire, chief engineer Masao Kobori has accentuated the Dzire’s most popular features, including its interior space and driving dynamics. At the same time, Suzuki’s designers have created a style that is unique to the Dzire and focused on its sedan target market.

Several exterior design features make the all-new Suzuki Dzire stand out. Viewed from the front, the model has a smooth polygonal grille, large headlamps and chrome detailing on the grille and below the integrated fog lamp area.

The Dzire also features a unique bonnet design, sharply raked A-pillars and a smooth shoulder line that flows straight back from the middle of the front doors to the rear LED combination tail lights.

The design not only creates a distinctive character for the new Dzire but has been aerodynamically optimised for an improvement of 18% in drag coefficient over its predecessor. This helps to lower cabin noise at high speeds and improves overall fuel consumption.

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As part of its new status as a separate model range in the Suzuki stable, the new Dzire has a unique dashboard design that emphasises style and usability. It is fitted with silver accents throughout the dashboard and air vents that mimic the design of the front grille.

In front of the driver there is a new instrument cluster, with clearly readable instrumentation and a multi-information display. The GL-specification level adds a tachometer, additional silver accents and premium white illumination.

All Dzire models are equipped with air-conditioning, front and rear power windows, air bags for the driver and front passenger, a tilt-adjustable steering column, a security alarm and immobiliser and ISOFIX anchor points for rear-fitted child seats.

The GL-specification level adds rear air vents and an additional 12V socket, a Suzuki audio system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, front fog lamps, colour-coded, electrically adjustable side mirrors and steering-mounted audio controls. This specification level is also fitted with Suzuki’s high-grade upholstery with rear foldable armrest with integrated cup holders.

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My test unit came in GL specification and proved an amiable companion for our time together – comfortable, perky enough for most requirements and really easy to drive. If anything, the only complaint is the steering is, perhaps, too light.

While great for shopping mall parking gyrations, in a strong crosswind the movement of the car can be easily accentuated by over-correction on the steering.

The Dzire is powered by the K12M four-cylinder petrol engine that delivers 61 kW at 6 000 r/min and 113 Nm at 4 200 r/min and is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox in the GA-model, while buyers of the GL-model can choose between the same five-speed manual gearbox or an Automated Manual Gearbox (AMT) with the same number of gears – the former for our test car.

The Dzire is built on Suzuki’s new HEARTECT platform. This platform not only increases passive and dynamic safety and lowers weight, but it increases interior cabin space thanks to a longer wheelbase and wider cabin.
In the Dzire, the increase in space is focused on the rear passengers. Suzuki has increased the space between the front and rear seats by a massive 55 mm and increased shoulder width for rear passengers by 15 mm. In the front, the occupants now have 10 mm of additional shoulder width.

The new Dzire also offers significantly more boot space than its predecessor. The sedan has 378 litres of boot space, which is 78 litres or 26% more than before.

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The Dzire, thanks to the new HEARTECT platform, weighs 75 kg less than its predecessor at 890 kg. The lower weight benefits overall fuel consumption, which tested at 4,9 l/100 km in a combined driving cycle.

As an urban runabout, the Dzire is pretty much an ideal package and, while it will try really hard to punch above its fighting weight, should be left alone to do what it does best.

I put it under some pressure on the twisty section of my test route and handling in general was comfortably neutral – just that light steering that never quite gave the feedback that allows confident press-on motoring in the bends.

All models are sold with Suzuki’s 5-year / 200 000 km mechanical warranty and a 2-year/30 000 km service plan.

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Mahindra upgrades SUV ranges

Mahindra has ‘top-and-tailed’ the XUV range by adding an entry-level variant and a major spruce up for the range-topping W10 as well as tweaking the KUV series for 2019.

The XUV500 W6 Automatic offers a lower entry point for buyers in search of an automatic SUV, while the new XUV500 W10 range-topper offers a new level of luxury and specifications.

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“The XUV500 flagship represents the best of Mahindra’s SUV expertise. It is both capable and comfortable, feature rich and affordable and is styled to attract attention. The new model, with its completely redesigned front and rear styling, and additional features are sure to attract the attention of existing owners and SUV enthusiasts alike,” says Rajesh Gupta, CEO of Mahindra South Africa.

First launched in South Africa in 2012, the XUV500 quickly gained popularity among SUV buyers for its combination of style, creature comforts, three-row seating space and an affordable price. It grew further in popularity when Mahindra introduced additional features and upgrades in 2015.

The new XUV500 W4, complete with mHawk turbo-diesel engine and seven seats, enters the market at a very competitive R299 999. What’s more, Mahindra Finance has developed a finance offer of R4 999 a month with a guaranteed future value after four years. This offer, combined with the XUV500’s service plan and extended mechanical warranty, will ensure a low monthly cost of ownership throughout the model’s life cycle.

The XUV500 W6 Automatic will, in turn, be offered at R359 999, which makes it one of the most competitively priced Automatic seven-seater SUVs in the South African market.

Viewed from the front, the XUV500 features a brand-new grille, which reinterprets the marque’s well-known 7-slot design with sharp-cut chrome highlights and a larger chrome surround.

The chrome grille surrounds morph into new light-strip daytime running lights at the top of the redesigned headlamps, before flowing vertically down to new fog lamps. The fog lamps, in turn, form part of a redesigned lower bumper, which has been squared off around a lower air intake and now has a silver lower bash plate.

The visual updates continue along the side of the XUV500, where Mahindra’s designers have added additional chrome detailing at the lower edges of the doors and redesigned the D-pillar applique.

The most dramatic part of Mahindra’s redesign of the XUV500 is visible at the rear, where a new tailgate, new combination tail lights and a larger roof-mounted rear spoiler present a completely new visual signature.

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“We are very happy with the major redesign of the XUV500. It creates a brand-new visual signature for our flagship model, without losing any of the XUV character that our customers have come to love,” says Gupta.

“We are also proud to say that the interior keeps the promise made by the exterior with a major increase in specifications and comfort features.”

The XUV500 is equipped with an infotainment system, with air-conditioning controls or a full climate control system, depending on the model grade. On W8 and W10 variants, this infotainment system also includes a full turn-by-turn satellite navigation system with voice prompts as standard.

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The infotainment system is connected to a powerful new audio system from the specialists Arkamys. The system also offers USB connectivity, with picture and video viewing functionality on the W8 and W10 variants, Bluetooth hands-free cellphone connectivity and an iPod and AUX connection.

All variants offer power windows and side mirrors, a tilt-adjustable steering wheel with electric power assistance, remote boot lid opening, follow-me-home and lead-me-to-vehicle headlamp functionality and foldable second and third row seats.

The W6, W8 and W10 models have alloy wheels, cruise control with a multi-functional steering wheel, a conversation mirror (deleted on the W10 with sunroof), reach adjustment to the steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights, puddle lamps and fully automatic temperature control (FATC). In addition, the W6-grade features premium cloth upholstery.

The top-spec W10 adds the electrically adjustable driver’s seat, while the W8 and W10 has mobile charging points in the front two rows and reading lamps for all three rows of seats, ice-blue lounge lighting, Tyre-tronics tyre pressure and temperature sensors on all tyres, foldable side mirrors and a reverse camera with dynamic assist.

The 2018 upgrade on the XUV500 is more than just skin deep. Mahindra engineers have refined its reliable and highly popular mHawk 2.2 turbo-diesel engine with its fifth-generation turbo-charger. The mHawk-engine delivers 103 kW and 330 Nm of torque.

In addition, Mahindra has revised the suspension – which it designed in partnership with Lotus – to offer greater comfort and improved handling. The suspension upgrade and additional noise damping on the 2018 model has led to a dramatic drop in the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) inside the cabin.

All versions of the new XUV500 feature two air bags, while the W8 and W10 offers seat and curtain air bags and all models have anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution on all four disc brakes, additional side-impact beams and crumple zones for crash protection.

On the W6 models and above, Mahindra has also added Hill Hold and Hill Descent Control and electronic stability programme (ESP) with rollover mitigation.

“The XUV500 has always been known as one of the best value-for-money premium SUVs in the South African market. We believe the new design, additional specifications and more refinement will further enhance the XUV500’s value offering,” says Gupta.

Mahindra will introduce the XUV500 with a full 5-year / 150 000 km standard warranty and 5-year / 100 000 km service plan. All XUV500 owners will also receive Roadside Assistance for the full five years of the vehicle’s warranty and service plan.

Five models are available from launch, namely:
Mahindra XUV500 W4 6-spd manual: R299 999 (incl. VAT)
Mahindra XUV500 W6 6-spd automatic: R359 999 (incl. VAT)
Mahindra XUV500 W8 6-spd manual: R374 999 (incl. VAT)
Mahindra XUV500 W8 6-spd automatic: R403 999 (incl. VAT)
Mahindra XUV500 W10 6-spd automatic: R419 999 (incl. VAT)

KUV100

“The KUV 100 NXT offers an excellent value proposition of space along with safety features such as airbags and ABS from the base variant onwards. At R134 999, coupled with an attractive finance and insurance offer, this variant is expected to generate significant interest amongst the first-time buyers,” says Gupta.

The KUV100 NXT gains a new grille, larger alloy wheels on the K8 variant and redesigned tail lamps.

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The redesigned seven-slot grille appears to be more aggressive and the number plate now sits atop a blacked-out bumper section. Mahindra has also created new blacked-out surrounds for the integrated fog lights, which are standard on the K8 variant.

On the flanks, the new 15-inch diamond-cut dual-tone alloy wheels on the K8 sit in flared wheel arches that now feature redesigned cladding. On the roof, the integrated roof rails have been redesigned to be more aerodynamically efficient.

Some of the most popular styling cues on The KUV100 NXT, the fist-shaped side mirrors and the rear door handles in the C-pillars, have been retained, although the mirrors now incorporate the side turn signals.

At the rear, the tail gate and rear bumper have been completely redesigned. The rear tail gate features deeper character lines that form around brand-new double-barrel rear combination lights and a new electronic latch on certain models. The headlights are now equipped with LED daytime running lights.

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The KUV100 NXT upgrade continues inside the new model, where Mahindra has added new premium finishes to the higher-specification models. This includes new fabric upholstery, piano black detailing on certain specification levels and a new temperature control panel on models fitted with climate control.

It now also has a 7-inch touch screen on the K8 variant and is equipped with Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port and audio, image and video playback.

Other luxury additions include a new remote boot-opening switch, a new gearshift indicator display, Intellipark reverse parking sensors and electrically foldable side mirrors on the K8.

The additional luxury specifications add to features such as power windows, tilt-adjustable power steering, air-conditioning, central locking rear underfloor storage bins and foldable rear seats.

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On K6 and K8 models, this list of creature comforts grows to include a rear row armrest, a cooled glove box, follow-me-home and lead-me-to-vehicle headlights, remote keyless entry, speed-sensing door locks and front and rear 12V power outlets.

All variants of the KUV are equipped with dual front air bags, child safety locks on the rear doors, anti-lock braking with EBD (EBD available only on K6+ and K8 variants) and corner braking control (CBC).

In addition, the K6+ and K8 versions of The KUV100 NXT also have speed-sensing automatic door locks, automatic hazard warnings in emergency situations and a security alarm.

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The KUV100 NXT is available with the choice of two three-cylinder, turbo-charged all-aluminium engines.

The 1.2 mFalcon G80 petrol engine is equipped with multi-point fuel injection and dual-variable valve timing to deliver 61 kW and 115 Nm of torque. The 1.2 mFalcon D75 turbo-diesel engine has common rail direct injection and an intercooler to deliver 57 kW and 190 Nm of torque, with the latter peaking between 1 750 r/min and 2 250 r/min.

On the K8 specification level, the diesel model is equipped with a micro-hybrid system that switches off the engine when the vehicle is not moving and immediately restarts the engine when the accelerator is pressed. Both engines drive the front wheels of the KUV100 through a five-speed manual gearbox.

Under the sheet metal, the KUV rides on independent McPherson struts suspension with dual path mounts and coil springs. At the rear, the suspension consists of semi-independent twist beams and coil springs, with all four corners also equipped with hydraulic gas-charged shock absorbers.

The range:
KUV NXT K2+ Petrol: R134 999 (incl. VAT)
KUV NXT K4+ Petrol: R163 999 (Incl. VAT)
KUV NXT K6+ Petrol: R187 999 (incl. VAT)
KUV NXT K6+ Diesel: R204 999 (incl. VAT)
KUV NXT K8 Petrol: R199 999 (incl. VAT)
KUV NXT K8 Diesel: R219 999 (incl. VAT)

All models feature a full 3-year / 100 000 km standard warranty plus a 2-year / 50 000 km powertrain warranty. All K6+ and K8+ models also have a 3-year / 50 000 km service plan as standard. Service intervals for both the petrol and diesel models are 10 000 km and all vehicles have a 3-year roadside assistance plan.

Honda sedan targets corporates

Fleet and corporate buying remains the dominant force in the South African vehicle market, even though much of this is hidden in the sales returns as ‘dealer sales’, and the sedan is still the body shape of choice for company cars.

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In line with world trends this is slowly changing – with one automaker already having announced it is ending production of small and medium sedans – and that trend will follow suit locally by choice or by force.

In the meanwhile, the way into this market is with a choice sedan and Honda is looking to capture a slice of the pice with the new Amaze.

Designed specifically as a sedan from the ground up, the new Amaze is larger in every dimension than the Brio, which it effectively replaces.

“We believe the new Honda Amaze will set a new, elevated standard for small sedans in South Africa,” says Toshiaki Kusakari, Head of Automobiles at Honda Motor Southern Africa.

“We are expecting the car to appeal to a broad and varied motoring audience, ranging from young singles and start-up families to mature motorists. All will be attracted by the Amaze’s value-added purchase price, excellent fuel efficiency and low operating cost.

“In addition, the new Amaze is exceptionally roomy and offers a generous luggage compartment, while Honda’s revered reputation for reliability and good resale value will also add to the Amaze’s attraction.”

The new Amaze is only 5 mm longer and 15 mm wider than its predecessor, but the wheelbase has grown by a substantial 65 mm, which translates into shorter overhangs and more interior space.

The front is dominated by Honda’s characteristic ‘solid wing’ appearance, which manifests itself in a broad bar extending across the width of the contrasting black honeycomb grille. It also provides a visual link to the bold halogen headlight clusters.

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A lower air intake is framed by recessed, black-framed fog lamps in the case of Comfort models. A slim, colour-coded splitter below the air intake adds a sporty finishing touch.

Viewed from the side, the alloy wheels – standard across the range – are a visual highlight, while also reducing unsprung mass. A crisp shoulder line running from the headlights to the taillight clusters highlights the Amaze’s sculpted flanks while a broad sill contributes to the sedan’s planted, powerful look.

The rear view is dominated by the C-shaped taillight clusters, which frame a bootlid that opens wide and deep. An integrated spoiler on the bootlid’s leading edge adds a sporty touch, while the colour-coded, integrated bumper extends into a stylised rear diffuser.

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Smart cloth upholstery is used to trim the contoured, supportive front seats and rear bench seat. Genuine Honda synthetic leather seat covers can be ordered as a no-cost option.

Gloss piano black detailing on the dashboard adds to the ambience, while the ergonomically designed dashboard features a driver-centric instrument binnacle with analogue dials for speed and rev count. The binnacle also houses a digital trip computer.

The centre stack is home to a sound system offering FM/AM radio functionality, as well as MP3 music file playback and Bluetooth, which allows hands-free telephony and music streaming. The four-speaker system also provides USB connectivity and an AUX socket.

A multifunction steering wheel allows safe and convenient control of the audio system, as well as making Bluetooth-linked hands-free cellphone calls. Generous cabin storage includes pockets in all four doors and cupholders in the centre console, while a fold-down rear seat armrest also incorporates cup holders for rear occupants.

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Because of the new Amaze’s comparatively long 2 470 mm wheelbase, the interior is airy and spacious, with ample leg and headroom both front and rear. The boot capacity is 420 litres – 20 litres more than the original Brio Amaze.

The new Honda Amaze is powered by a 1 199 cc unit that employs Honda’s i-VTEC intelligent valve timing management system. Maximum power output is rated at 66 kW, reached at 6 000 r/min, combined with a torque peak of 110 Nm at 4 800 r/min.

In the baseline Amaze Trend model, a five-speed manual gearbox is standard, while buyers of the Comfort model can also opt for a new-generation Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT).

With a kerb mass of just more than 900 kg, the Amaze is able to deliver swift performance, and frugal fuel economy. Manual-gearbox models will accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 12,3 sec, while the CVT version requires 13,5 sec. Top speed is 160 km/h for all derivatives.

The manual-transmission Amaze models achieve a combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 5,6 l/100 km, while the CVT version is only slightly thirstier at 5,7 l/100 km.

The Amaze’s all-new platform features an independent, McPherson strut-based front suspension, and a torsion beam rear set-up. It has been designed to offer confident handling and a refined ride, while the electrically assisted power steering ensures effortless, crisp steering response.

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Overall refinement and NVH has been improved substantially, thanks to the new platform’s enhanced sound proofing and reduced engine noise transmission, as well as optimised engine mounts.

All Honda Amaze models are fitted with dual front air bags, inertia reel seatbelts front and rear, and IsoFix child seat anchors. On the active safety front, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) are standard.

The new Honda Amaze range consists of three models, all employing the same engine, but offering a choice between two transmissions, and two trim levels.

The most affordable Amaze is the 1.2 Trend, available as a manual gearbox model only. However, even this so-called base model offers buyers an extensive list of standard equipment.

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Exterior features include 15-inch alloy wheels shod with 175/65 R15 tyres, a roof-mounted sharkfin antenna, and a high-mounted third brake light. Inside, smart cloth upholstery is standard, as is the tilt-adjustable multifunction steering wheel. The four-speaker audio system features FM/AM and MP3 functionality.

It also includes Bluetooth connectivity for audio streaming and hands-free telephony. Central locking is standard, while the exterior mirrors are adjusted manually.

Moving up to the 1.2 Comfort, the exterior gains colour-coding for the exterior mirrors and door handles, while low-mounted, recessed fog lamps are standard, too.

Inside, the Comfort includes everything that’s standard on Trend versions, but adds automatic air-conditioning and electric adjustment of the exterior mirrors, as well as automatic door locking once the vehicle starts moving.

The 1.2 Comfort CVT is identical in all respects to its manual-gearbox stablemate, but gains gearshift paddles behind the steering wheel to allow for manual shifts between the CVT’s virtual gears.

PRICING, WARRANTY AND SERVICE PLAN
The new Honda Amaze recommended retail pricing is as follows:
Honda Amaze 1.2 Trend: R179 900
Honda Amaze 1.2 Comfort: R193 900
Honda Amaze 1.2 Comfort CVT: R208 900

The range is supported by a full 5-year/200 000 km warranty, as well as a 2-year/30 000 km service plan, and a three-year AA Roadside Assistance package. Scheduled services are at 15 000 km intervals.

Gumtree Awards – VW dominates

With fuel prices having reached record highs and little, or no, relief in sight car buyers are increasingly looking at pre-owned stock as a method of containing overall motoring costs.

However, the second-hand market can be a minefield of its own with horror stories about unscrupulous dealers, odomoter rewinding and other nefarious tactics abounding – so, the Gumtree Pre-Owned Vehicle Awards gives potential buyers a good base from where to begin.

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In the most recent awards, Volkswagen increased its dominance by winning five of the 11 categories after taking three awards in the inaugural competition last year.

Only 2016 models with at least six months of depreciation data were considered for this year’s awards, as two-year old vehicles are the most popular models being considered by pre-owned buyers in 2018.

The Gumtree awards seek to recognise and promote the best pre-owned models in the market across 11 categories, based on criteria a buyer may use when evaluating pre-owned cars as well as depreciation and sales figures provided by TransUnion. The important criteria for buyers in this market are: resale value, quality, durability, overall performance and economy and especially outright value for money of various vehicles offered for sale in South Africa.

The winners were selected from a list of 55 finalists made up of the top five vehicles having the most favourable depreciation in each of the 11 categories. These models then underwent further evaluation, including physical road testing.

One category – for SUVs costing less than R505 000 – was added for 2018, replacing the previous sports car category, which was considered too niche.

Representative examples of the 55 finalists were sourced and tested by former national motor sport champion Charl Wilken, who drew up detailed and illustrated information sheets which were sent to a judging panel for voting. The results were audited and verified before being announced.

Members of the 2018 judging panel were: Charl Wilken (Wilken Communication Management), Adam Ford (Ignition TV/Buyers’ Guide), Roger McCleery (Radio Today), Lerato Matebese (Driven), Michele Lupini (AutoBakkieRace), Liana Reiners (AutoLive), Zerildi Pieters (Daily Sun), Matthew Kanniah (Blogger), Alan Rosenmeyer (Motormatters), Sean Nurse (AutoDealer), and Mabuyane Kekana (Metro FM).

Volkswagen dominated the hatchback and sedan categories up to R300 000 this year, winning the Budget City Car category with the Take Up!, the Light Hatchback category with the Polo Vivo, the Medium Sedan category with the Jetta, and the Medium Hatchback category with the Golf 1.4TSI. Volkswagen’s fifth winner was the Golf R, which shared top spot in the performance car category under R615 000 with the Audi S3-S-Tronic.

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Toyota, Mazda and Audi won two categories each and Jaguar took a sole category win.

As expected Toyota triumphed in the categories for SUVs under R505 000 with the Fortuner and 4×2 Double Cabs under R460 000 with the Hilux.

Mazda won the Cross-over category with the CX3 in quite dominant fashion as it was the only category all 11-judges scored the same vehicle as the winner. Mazda also won the SUVs under R330 000 with its CX5 2.0 Active model.

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Audi’s first category winner was the Audi S3 which shared the spoils in the Performance Car category with the Volkswagen Golf R. This was also undoubtedly the closest contested category, as even the third placed BMW 240i was a mere 10-points adrift. In another close duel the Audi A4 2.0TDI S-Tronic narrowly beat the BMW 330D by a mere 2-points to earn Audi’s a second category win.

Jaguar took the award in the category for Luxury SUVs under R700 000 with the very attractively styled F-Pace.

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It was interesting to note three of the 2018 winners were the same models that walked away with the laurels in 2017. They were the Volkswagen Golf 1.4TSI Trendline, Volkswagen Golf R as well as the Mazda CX3 2.0 Individual.

“We were very pleased with the acceptance of the Gumtree pre-owned awards by the public last year and the latest results, which benefit from fine-tuning after last year’s inaugural event and therefore will be of great interest and benefit to buyers in the booming pre-owned market in South Africa,” commented Jeff Osborne, Head of Automotive at Gumtree.

“We see these awards as an overdue recognition of the brands and models which best hold their value while delivering reliable performance with reasonable maintenance costs, particularly as the pre-owned market is currently more than twice the size of the new vehicle market.”

Catastrophe for motor industry looms

Implementing the proposed Code of Conduct for motor dealers will be catastrophic for the industry according to Mark Dommisse, National Chairperson of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA).

Mark Dommisse National Chairperson NADA SAAICC 2

Mark Dommisse

“NADA and its members fully recognise the need to broaden participation in the automotive aftermarket sector and are committed to co-operating and assisting the commission to address matters of concern raised in the proposed new Code of Conduct.

“The impact of implementing the code in its current form will, however, have a catastrophic effect on the economy as it undermines investment, employment and consumer welfare in this important sector of our economy.”

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South Africa currently has approximately 1 600 new franchised automotive dealerships comprising R48-billion worth of investment. It directly employs 60 000 personnel.

The South African motor industry is impressively sustainable. Lionel October, Director- General of Trade and Industry, speaking on behalf of the Trade and Industry Minister, has called it “a South African success story”.

It provides substantial benefits to the country and its impact on the overall economy and employment is substantial and far-reaching. Production and sale of automotive products also generates profits for a wide range of industries up and downstream.

“Only around 20% of the entire South African car parc comprises in-warranty vehicles, and it is this small portion which the new code is addressing. We feel that significant effort and focus should be placed on developing the other 80% of the industry – which is predominantly made up of out-of-warranty vehicles,” says Dommisse.

The automotive retail industry’s contribution to the whole industry includes consulting with government through NADA and the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers (NAAMSA), invaluable apprenticeship programmes, a broad range of employee benefits, hundreds of millions of Rands in staff training and funding healthcare and pensions.

“A loss of just one of the seven major manufacturers to South Africa would have unprecedented spill over effects both financially and socially that would far outweigh the current subsidies that manufacturers are receiving,” says Dommisse.

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“We should also keep in mind that Australia shut down an entire motor manufacturing industry due to adopting controversial codes.

“If we were behaving in an anti-competitive manner, the arbiter would have said so, which to date hasn’t happened,” he says.

“Furthermore, the background document to the draft code notes that the basis for the code is derived from complaints related ‘to potential exclusionary conduct…’, and does not mention anti-competitive behaviour. However, proponents of adopting the code ‘as is’ blame the franchised dealers for just that.”

“To say we are anti-competitive is untrue and defamatory,” he adds.

“We want to work with government and we want prosperity for all, but we want it to happen in a responsible manner that does not adversely impact consumer safety, the economy and job creation. We support a code that opens up the market in a way that protects investment, economic sustainability and consumers.

“We are a highly regulated industry and this protects our South African consumers. It will be impossible to effectively regulate a bigger industry in such a short space of time.”

By providing world-class training and exposure to global industry best practice, the franchised dealer sector plays an important role in developing the industry and its technicians. Many technicians leave these establishments to start their own businesses, or take up opportunities at other workshops. The skills they acquire are invaluable.

“Furthermore, if someone, or some organisation, is prepared to invest in us and set up costly facilities and services, then we have an obligation to protect them and their investment. This is not anti-competitive, it is responsible business practice.

“We also believe strongly that manufacturers have the right to determine the standards of those that service their products in much the same way that Boeing does with airliners or Apple does with cell phones, tablets or any of its exclusive products.”

It is important to note the franchised dealers’ standards include significant technical training, staff welfare, pension and insurance benefits, extremely expensive special tools (calibration machines, diagnostics etc.), specific detail of facilities (special flooring etc.), CI upgrades, higher than legislated minimum wage, skills development levies, injury protocol and healthcare benefits.

“We want to build our competition but it’s not reasonable to do it immediately. Our businesses have to meet global manufacturer standards which, on average, take many years to establish a return on investment on meeting these standards. Our level of investment is mandatory. We therefore support opening the market slowly and responsibly. There are no defined standards in the code yet. These need to be developed appropriately, and here we can help,” says Dommisse.

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South Africa, according to many sources, does not have a culture of saving. Household debt ratios are increasing, inflation has the potential to skyrocket, and our currency is extremely volatile. Against this backdrop, a plan that costs out servicing and maintenance for a period of time (2 – 5 years), priced at today’s exchange rate, and with the savings added in terms of reduced labour rates and parts pricing (volumetric pricing), is not only necessary, it is critical to the consumer.

“South African consumers should consider service and maintenance plans which are built into vehicle purchase prices at the time of sale are beneficial to them. The volatility of the Rand should be a very real concern for motorists, and securing parts prices at current exchange rates is a wise move. Ultimately, service and maintenance plans are designed to help the customer, not hurt them,” says Dommisse.

“Factory plans have a cost to them, but so does a steering wheel or car seats or any other standard feature, the costs of which will always be lower when there is massive scale (such as in every car) as opposed to purchases that cannot match these economies.”

“Additionally, inflation and currency issues affecting South Africa are not the same in the EU, US etc. where their economies are stable, growing and mature,” says Dommisse.

Service and maintenance plans add value and give customers peace of mind. NADA believes over time, the cost of these should plans be disclosed. In the interim customers can assume the costs for these are in line with any of the third-party bolt on plans – the costs will be similar, and most likely a bit less.

“There is no quality control of alternate parts coming into the country and we don’t believe that this is responsible. Our question is: How will the industry ensure quality parts are utilised in consumers’ vehicles? Who is going to police the parts and vehicles coming into the independent workshop,” says Dommisse.

“If the industry is not required to use genuine or approved parts, there can be no monitoring of safety standards. And this won’t only apply to passenger vehicles – heavy commercials, trucks and buses will also be affected.”

“In the case of a dispute, the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) will have to inspect the vehicle. There are bound to be many claims and compliance will be unmanageable.

“If the independent workshops are going to use quality parts, made by an original parts manufacturer (such as Bosch or Denso) and of the same specification, design and model, then this might, one day, in theory, be acceptable. However, the reality is that it is unlikely that all independent workshops will use these parts due to the very high cost. It is doubtful that the manufactures will allow this during warranty.

“What we will likely see is the use of ‘equivalent’ generic parts that fit, but are nowhere near the quality nor have been tested under the conditions that Original Equipment (OE) parts are. Even in the case of OE parts, unless the person knows how to install them properly, test them, and assure that the work is completed to specification, the parts themselves are meaningless.

“Take cola for example. Cola is stored in the same container, is the same colour, has the same ingredients as Coca Cola®, but nobody comes close to the original. Applied to safety, this difference is critical,” says Dommisse.

“It is extremely important to emphasise that the sale, maintenance, repair and operation of a motor vehicle is ultimately about the safety of the customer.

“In general, we agree with the principles noted throughout the code. It is the application and machinations of it that we object to. The changes made to draft 2 of the code have not taken on board the submissions made by NADA to the first draft,” says Dommisse.

“In order for the automotive industry to continue to contribute positively and sustainably to the South African economy, all stakeholders need to engage, discuss and constructively develop a meaningful and sustainable new Code of Conduct.”

Road Review – Hyundai Creta 1.6 Executive Turbo-diesel

With the exams looming, I was having difficulty making our English setwork ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding mean any more than a silly story about a bunch of guys marooned on an island who wanted to beat each other up.

Then, my teacher of the time, the late, great David Brindley, gave me a copy of the thesis he had written on the book for his Honours degree in which he managed to show the island was actually shaped like a ship and all sorts of other things that made it a lot more than just a silly story about kids wanting to whale on each other.

So, I decided to try to find some level of symbolism or deep, hidden inner meaning as to why Hyundai would want to name a car after the island of Crete.

Other than the fact they are both small I found nothing – so this is not a dissertation, just a road review.

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Hyundai has never been scared of dipping its toe into new and – for it – uncharted waters. When it launched the Creta in 2017 as an option in the mid-size SUV market, it was an impressive package combining good levels of specification with reasonable power and handling.

Now, more than 8 000 unit sales later, the Creta has received an exterior makeover that comprises a new Hyundai trademark cascade grille with a chrome bezel, a new front bumper with dual-tone finish and skid plates, new fog lamps and LED Daylight Running Lights and a new set of roof rails with a lower profile.

The rear profile of the Creta has also been revised with slightly tweaked tail lamps with LED inserts, repositioned reflectors and a new rear skid plate. It also sports a new alloy wheel design.

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Hyundai Automotive SA has kept the same derivative line-up, engine and gearbox choices and specification configuration for the Creta range.

All three Creta derivatives are sold with the Executive level of standard features, which includes leather seats, leather cladding for the steering wheel, multi-function remote controls for the Bluetooth telephone, sound and radio system, and an 8-inch touch-screen display for the infotainment system.

The infotainment system in the Creta also offers an optional satellite navigation feature, which has to be activated with a SD card at a cost of R2 522.

Convenience features in the Creta include air vents for the rear passengers, a rear armrest with cup holders, cruise control and rear park assist sensors and camera that displays its images on the screen of the infotainment system.

Of the three engine/gearbox combinations used in the Creta range, our test was on the range-topping Creta 1.6 Executive Turbo-diesel Automatic that uses a 1,6-litre turbo-charged diesel engine, together with a 6-speed automatic gearbox. Maximum power delivery is 94 kW at 4 000 r/min, and its torque peak of 260 Nm is reached at 2 750 r/min. It has a claimed fuel consumption figure of 7,4 litres/100 km in a real world, combine test cycle and my own test cycle confirmed this figure.

The new Creta received no below the bonnet changes – if it ‘aint broke don’t fix it – and that is a good thing as, already mentioned, the original proved rather impressive.

What the revises mean in real terms is tweaking the desirability compared to its immediate opposition (such as the Toyota Rush) without compromising on the impressive levels of affordability both in terms of sticker price and in overall operating costs.

Given the continuing rise in popularity of the SUV as the preferred mode of travel, the intensity of competition in the small to medium segment of this market is growing by the day and the ‘arm-twister’ in terms of customers will be the affordability factor with fuel now topping the R17 a litre mark.

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The Creta’s ride quality and road holding are achieved by a McPherson strut front suspension with gas dampers. An increased caster angle delivers a more stable, smoother high-speed travel.

At the rear, revised geometries of the dampers used with the coupled torsion beam axle have delivered an increase lever ratio that generates gentle understeer for better cornering performance.

That latter built-in factor serves well as a reminder to reign in driving enthusiasm long before talent runs out and there are limits beyond which it will not willingly go.

The diesel, with its low down torque works easily in traffic snarls and the gearbox shifts silently and swiftly to provide the best possible solution for the occasion – translating this on the open road to a hassle-free cruise with low levels of engine and other peripheral noises.

Seating more than plush enough for long hauls and the luggage deck swallows a good family holiday need – the rear seats also foldable for increased luggage space when needed.

Safety features in the Creta include dual front and side air bags for drive and passenger and curtain air bags for protection of rear passengers as well. The Creta is also equipped with an anti-lock brake system and Electronic Braking Distribution (EBD).

All prices include a 5-year/90 000 km service plan, a 7-year/200 000 km warranty (comprised of Hyundai’s 5-year/150 000 km warranty, with an extended 2-year/50 000 km drivetrain warranty) and roadside assistance for 5 years or 150 000 km.

Lexus ES goes longer and wider

Lower, wide, longer – three watchwords that dog auto designers around the world as they move updated iterations of existing models along the development path and ensure the marketing speak that goes with a new model launch at least has some substance.

For the new Lexus ES the words are ‘provocative elegance’ as penned by Chief Designer, Yasuo Kajino to describe a car that is longer (+65 mm), lower (-5 mm) and wider (+45 mm) than its predecessor. The longer wheelbase (+50 mm) allows the wheels to be pushed closer to the car’s corners, with wider front and rear treads (+10 and +37 mm).

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The seventh-generation ES follows the new LS flagship sedan and LC coupe in carrying forward the use of an all-new Global Architecture – GA-K platform –and the range includes the ES 250 petrol engine model as well as ES 300h. The ES 300h is powered by a new self-charging hybrid system.

“The ES has always been an elegant luxury sedan. For this generation, we have added daring design elements that challenge buyers’ traditional expectations,” says Kajino.

The new GA-K platform allowed for a lower hood line, which gave Kajino’s team the freedom to produce a distinctive silhouette with a strong downward slant, creating a dynamic yet fluid shape. Up front, the ES’ face is dramatically different and displays elegant bars that radiate out from the centre of the signature Lexus spindle grille, which has become a signature feature of Lexus vehicle design.

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In a break with past generations, the design features a rear-ward-sloping fast roofline that emphasises the vehicle’s lower stance and aerodynamics. The rear end is clean and sharply chiselled, with LED lamps that wrap around the quarter panels to generate a continuous styling line when viewed from any angle.

Two different 17-inch and 18-inch wheel designs are available for the ES models. The ES 250 EX model is equipped with 17-inch multi-spoke cast alloy wheels and the ES 300h SE model runs on 18-inch Hyper Chrome Cast Allow noise-reducing wheels, featuring a turbine design. The hybrid model also features an integrated rear spoiler as well as auto-fold door mirror functionality when the car is switched off.

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LED low and high beam headlamps are standard on the ES 250 EX model, while premium triple-beam LED headlamp technology on the Hybrid uses three compact bi-LED units. All-LED turn signals and side marker lamps are also included and its Adaptive High-beam System (AHS) is designed to provide enhanced visibility using the high-beam lamps.

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The new ES provides a driving posture that reduces fatigue and provides an excellent feeling of envelopment, while also supporting the correct driving posture. The shape of the front seats have been designed in consideration of operating the steering wheel as well as ingress and egress which allow for easy access for the driver (the steering wheel and driver’s seat automatically adjust for ease of access).

Furthermore, these comprise two-way lumbar support on the ES 250 and four-way lumbar support on the hybrid model.

The cabin is a connected space, too, with the availability of a navigation system on the hybrid that includes a range of connected services. The navigation provides a 12,3-inch multimedia display and second-generation Remote Touch touchpad control; its voice recognition capabilities extend to a mobile assistant, allowing contactless driver’s smartphone control. The display features a reverse camera as standard kit, but the hybrid tops this up with a panoramic view display.

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The standard combination meter features a 7-inch TFT LCD screen with a display configurable based on the driving mode. An Optitron-type meter is used for the water temperature and fuel gauges and lastly, a start-up animation plays across the combination meter, multimedia display and Head-Up Display, creating a visual welcome in the Lexus ES.

The engineering team, led by Chief Engineer Yasuhiro Sakakibara, had a clear goal: transform the image of the ES. That meant turning a sedan known primarily for comfort and quietness into one that is equally capable of delivering class-leading handling and power that you can feel and hear.

The starting point is the new GA-K platform. It is an exceptionally rigid, front-wheel drive chassis that rivals the GA-L rear-wheel drive platform used for the LC coupe and LS sedan in terms of torsional stiffness.

Various grades of high-tensile steel reduce weight compared to previous platforms, while enhancements such as an all-new multi-link rear suspension design, rack-mounted electric power steering and a V-brace behind the rear seat gave the engineers the flexibility to tune the ES with a new-found precision.

Although the design of the front suspension is similar to the previous ES, several changes have been made to improve overall responsiveness. The angle of the strut itself has been revised to better align it with the load path from the wheel for improved ride quality, while an increase in caster angle (+2 degrees) and caster trail (+8 mm) help to improve straight-line stability.

New Dynamic Control Shocks are capable of responding to even the smallest movements thanks to a non-overlapping auxiliary valve that allows damper oil to flow in either direction before entering the main valve.

The rear suspension design has a trailing arm, multi-link setup that also benefits from the responsiveness of the new Dynamic Control shocks. Higher placement of the trailing arm mounting point and a larger bushing size result in improved control over road irregularities. Wider spacing of the anti-roll bar bushing mounts also contributes to overall roll reduction.

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The ES 250 is available with an all-new, high-efficiency, direct-injection 2,5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and a new eight-speed Direct Shift automatic transmission. Outputs are pegged at 152 kW at 6 600 r/min and 243 Nm at 4 000 r/min – 5 000 r/min.

Constructed in lightweight aluminium, it has a long-stroke design, laser-clad intake valve seats and advanced intelligent variable valve timing (VVT-i) to achieve high-speed combustion. It has a high overall thermal efficiency of 38%. The fuel consumption on the ES 250 is 6,6 l/100 km and it dispatches the 0-100 km/h sprint in 9,1 seconds and tops out at 210 km/h.

The ES 300h is equipped with a new, fourth-generation, self-charging hybrid drive system and couples the 2,5-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder petrol engine with a lighter, more compact and more power-dense electric motor. Total system power is 160 kW and combined cycle fuel economy is from 4,6 l/100km. The ES 300h sprints from 0-100 km/h in 8,9 seconds and is electronically-governed to a top speed of 180 km/h.

Designed specifically to work with the 2,5-litre engine, the new transaxle has a multi-axle arrangement of the electric motors in place of the previous coaxial set-up which reduces the overall length of the package by nearly 30 mm. The traditional planetary gear set has been replaced by a parallel shaft gear and a multi-function gear that incorporates a power split planetary ring gear, parking gear and counter drive gear into one compact unit.

The hybrid control system is now designed to deliver a more linear acceleration feel by aligning engine speed more closely with vehicle speed, reducing the ‘rubber band’ feel commonly associated with hybrid systems. Engaging the Sport drive mode further enhances acceleration by boosting torque at lower speeds while paddle shifters can be used to move through eight-simulated gears for more precise control.

ES models are equipped with 10 air bags: 2 x driver and front passenger air bags; 2 x driver and front passenger knee air bags; 2 x driver and front passenger seat-mounted side impact air bags; 2 x front to rear-side curtain air bags; and 2 x rear cushion air bags.

The Lexus ES 250 EX carries a price tag of R593 300 and the ES 300h SE model retails for R843 800. Furthermore, Lexus has expanded the customer care experience to a 7-year/105 000 km Warranty and Full Maintenance Plan. Vehicle service intervals are at every 15 000 km, alternatively once a year.