Gentle refresh for Volvo XC90

When Volvo Car South Africa first showed the XC90 to the public during the Ocean Race stopover in Cape Town the true import and magnatude of the design styling megajump to modernity was rather lost considering the glitz, glamour and clamour of the boats and activities around it.

At the official launch in 2015, where the car became the central figure, the new thinking in Volvo design became very clear, bolstered by the fact news from abroad was already showing similar processign for the XC60 and the flagship sedan.

New Volvo XC90 Inscription T8 Twin Engine in Birch Light Metallic

Now, the XC90 has been given a refresh that sees the T-shaped ‘Thor’s Hammer’ DRL lights and the iron mark continue with new wheels added and a six-seat configuration in the mix.

“The overall impression, both exterior and interior, has a strong connection to the key elements of the Swedish lifestyle: the generous space, the celebration of light and the focus on well-being,” says Greg Maruszewski, Managing Director of Volvo Car South Africa.

New Volvo XC90 Inscription T8 Twin Engine in Birch Light Metallic

The most striking interior feature is a tablet-like touch screen control console, which forms the heart of the in-car control system. This system is virtually button free and is an innovative way for drivers to control their car and access a range of Internet-based products and services. It also helps create an interior that is modern and spacious.

“The interior is pure and uncluttered, while still radiating the sophisticated confidence and formality that luxury SUV customers expect. The simplicity is perfectly in tune with our Scandinavian design heritage. It opens up generous surfaces and gives us the opportunity to create a modern, luxurious interior architecture,” says Maruszewski.


As well as ample space for passengers, there is a flexible load compartment with up to 1 856 litres of space.

The 2020 XC90 can be ordered with a range of different seating configurations. From the seven-seat family SUV, to the brand new six-seat configuration, the XC90 has been created to best fits people’s preferences and lifestyles. New interior materials including a slate grey upholstery and new décor inlays offer further options for personalisation.

The New Volvo XC90 Inscription T8 Twin Engine in Birch Light Metallic

The top-of-the-line system in the XC90 features a 1 476-Watt Class D amplifier and 19 Bowers & Wilkins speakers. The subwoofer – a Fresh Air design – is integrated in the car, which means the volume of the passenger compartment is used as a resonance chamber. The subwoofer is located in the right rear wheel well and the air for the speaker element is taken from the wheel well. In practice the passengers are sitting inside a speaker enclosure. Using this design, a speaker does not need to take up so much space within the car.

The second-generation XC90 came with two world-first safety aids: Run-off Road Protection and automatic emergency braking at junctions. Should the car inadvertently leave the road, Run-off Road Protection automatically tightens the front seatbelts to keep occupants in the safest possible position.

To help prevent spinal injuries, a collapsible energy-absorbing section between the front seats and seat frame cushions the vertical forces that can occur if the car lands on a hard surface. The XC90 was also the first car in the world to feature automatic emergency braking that activates if the driver turns into the path of an oncoming vehicle at a junction.

The new XC90 offers a range of 2,0-litre, four-cylinder powertrains coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The turbo-charged diesel engine equipped to the Volvo XC90 D5 Geartronic AWD delivers 173 kW at 4 000 r/min and 480 Nm of torque from 1 750 r/min. The XC90 T5 AWD is equipped with a 187 kW petrol engine, which features a high-pressure turbo. It delivers 350 Nm of torque at 1 500 r/min to 4 800 r/min. Fuel consumption is a claimed 7,6 l/100 km.

The supercharged and turbo-charged petrol engine equipped to the Volvo XC90 T6 Geartronic AWD delivers 235 kW of power at 5 700 r/min and torque of 400 Nm at 2 200 r/min – 5 400 r/min. It consumes 8,0 l/100 km (combined).

The New Volvo XC90 Inscription T8 Twin Engine in Birch Light Metallic

The range-topping Volvo XC90 T8 Geartronic AWD has a 300 kW (235 kW + 65 kW) petrol engine that is also supercharged and turbo-charged. It works in conjunction with an electric motor, delivering power of 300 kW (235 kW + 65 kW) and torque of 640 Nm (400 Nm + 240 Nm). Fuel consumption is 2,1 l/100 km (combined) while emissions are a low 49 g/km.

 Volvo Car South Africa is launching a new R-Design version distinguished by 20-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, black door mirrors and a gloss black mesh front grille. Inside, there are leather/nubuck sports seats and a perforated leather-trimmed steering wheel complete with gearshift paddles.

R-Design XC90s also get a powered front passenger seat with memory function (to match the driver’s seat), sports pedals, black headlining and upgraded interior lighting. There’s even an exclusive R-Design leather-clad remote key fob.

The New Volvo XC90 Inscription T8 Twin Engine seat configuration

The 2020 XC90 comes standard with Volvo On Call and, according to Maruszewski, Volvo on Call is a key to the digital world.

“One app gives Volvo drivers control over their car’s functions. It also provides access to a world of convenient services,” he says.

“It becomes your personal assistant. It can tell you about the best coffee spots in town and send the destination to your car’s navigation system. It knows when you have appointments, where they are and how to get you there.

“Motorists who forget to lock their car will get a notification message. And Volvo On Call automatically contacts the emergency services if you are involved in an accident and tells them where you are,” Maruszewski explains.

Volvo On Call is entirely free of charge for five years. Thereafter, it can be extended for a fee.


Luxury people-mover

The luxury people-mover market segment gains a new player with the addition of the Limited version of the Ford Torneo Custom, avaialable only in short wheelbase format.


“It is easy to see why the Tourneo Custom is one of the top-selling people-movers in Europe, as it offers exceptional flexibility with outstanding levels of space and comfort for a wide range of applications,” says Doreen Mashinini, General Manager, Marketing at FMCSA.

“The Tourneo Custom Limited adds a luxurious dimension to this model range, making it ideal as a practical and spacious vehicle for active families, or to serve as an upmarket shuttle providing first-class travel.”

 The Limited features a five-bar trapezoidal chrome-finish grille, accompanied by slim headlamps that are styled to seamlessly flow into the crease lines of the bodywork, these headlamps incorporating daytime running lights, automatic headlight activation and manual headlamp levelling.

Rectangular front fog lamps, housed in a chromed bezel, are positioned on the outer edges of the front bumper.

Full colour-coding sets the Limited model apart from the rest of the range, incorporating body colour finishes for the side mouldings. The polished look is complemented by 16-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels.


Inside, ‘Salerno’ partial leather trim unique to the Limited model is used for the front seats and well as the second and third-row seats. Both front seats benefit from a heating function for cold days, manual lumber adjustment for the front passenger seat, while the driver seat offers 10-way power adjustment.

The Tourneo Custom Limited benefits from the wide range of interior refinements that were introduced with the new range in 2018, including improved trim throughout – from the headliner to the side panels and carpets.

The Limited has a 2 933 mm wheelbase and 4 972 mm overall length – 367 mm less in both cases compared to the long-wheelbase Ambiente and Trend variants – which makes it easier to manoeuvre in everyday driving situations. Common to the Trend and Limited derivatives is a rearview camera, while front and rear parking sensors are provided across the range to assist with positioning the vehicle in tight spaces.


The Tourneo Custom range incorporates an extensive range of advanced driver assistance features as standard, including anti-lock brakes, Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) with Hill Launch Assist (HLA), Load Adaptive Control (LAC) and Roll-Over Mitigation (ROM).

In Limited guise a towbar is fitted as standard, which incorporates Trailer Hitch Assist as well as Trailer Sway Control that mitigates against a loss of control when towing.

In the event of a collision, occupants are protected by dual front, side and full-length curtain crash bags. Additionally, ISOFIX child seat mounting points are provided in the centre of the second and third-row seats, as well as on the driver’s side in the middle row.

All models are equipped with a six-speaker audio system incorporating Bluetooth, USB and Aux connectivity and steering wheel-mounted controls. Electronic cruise control is standard across the range.


 The Tourneo Custom Limited is powered by a 2,2-litre four-cylinder Duratorq TDCi turbo-diesel engine paired with a six-speed manual gearbox and offers 114 kW at 3 500 r/min, upping the ante compared to the 74 kW and 92 kW units that power the Ambiente and Trend models respectively. The maximum torque output is 385 Nm from just 1 600 r/min versus the 310 Nm and 350 Nm outputs of the lower-spec models.

It is approved to tow a 1 600 kg braked trailer or 750 kg for unbraked trailers.

Ford Tourneo Custom:

2.2 TDCi LWB Ambiente 74kW 6MT                         R568 700

2.2 TDCi LWB Trend 92kW 6MT                              R591 300

2.2 TDCi SWB Limited 114kW 6MT                        R637 200

All models come standard with Ford Protect, comprising a 4-year/120 000 km comprehensive warranty, 3-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and 5-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A 6-year/90 000 km service plan is included, with 15 000 km service intervals.


All about the grille

The biggest talking point on the BMW X7 at launch was the enlarged kidney grille at the front – perhaps a strategic move to ready people for the similar treatment now meted out to the saloon car where the surface area of the grille has grown by 40%.


Now available in South Africa in both long and short wheelbase format, the line-up of power units for the new BMW 7 Series has also been updated and includes a new eight-cylinder engine, a six-cylinder in-line unit and plug-in hybrid systems offering extended electric range.

The standard 7 Series (5 120 mm) and its long-wheelbase twin (5 260 mm) are both 22 millimetres longer than their respective predecessors. The new model’s width (1 902 mm) and height (1 467 mm / long-wheelbase version: 1 479 mm) remain unchanged.

The extensive design refresh at the front end – which now rises 50 millimetres taller at its foremost point – also sees more sharply cut contour lines on the bonnet and a larger BMW roundel. TThe grille teams up with the slimmer headlights and BMW Laserlight with a high-beam range of up to 560 metres can be specified as an alternative to the standard Adaptive LED Headlights.

The modified rear apron adopts the design language of the air intake trim at the front of the car. The integrated exhaust tailpipes have broader chrome surrounds, while the three-dimensional rear lights of the new BMW 7 Series are around 35 millimetres slimmer than on the outgoing car.


The M Sport package, Design Pure Excellence line and new additions to the selection of exterior paint finishes and light-alloy wheels provide fresh scope for individualisation. Added to which, extended BMW Individual high-gloss Shadow Line is now available as an option in conjunction with the M Sport package.

Inside, Nappa leather with extended quilting has been added to the options list. The three-dimensional surface structure – encompassing large expanses of the front and rear seat cushions, backrests and the armrests integrated in the door trim and the centre console – gives the interior a sumptuous feel.

A feature of the newly designed standard leather steering wheel is the modified arrangement of the multifunction buttons. The likewise standard wireless charging tray for compatible mobile phones is now located just ahead of the cupholders.


The latest version of the BMW Touch Command rear-seat control unit has updated hardware and BMW Operating System 7.0 software. The optional Rear-seat entertainment system now comes with a pair of 10-inch, full-HD touchscreen displays including Blu-ray player.

The choice of power units for the new BMW 7 Series includes petrol and diesel engines with six, eight and 12 cylinders, as well as an all-new plug-in hybrid drive system. Topping the range is the 6,6-litre V12 engine at the heart of the BMW M760Li xDrive, which produces 430 kW and now comes with a gasoline particulate filter to minimise emissions.

Meanwhile, the BMW 750Li xDrive features a newly developed V8 engine with 4,4-litre displacement and maximum output raised by 60 kW to 390 kW.

The plug-in hybrid system now employs a specially adapted six-cylinder in-line petrol engine and a more advanced high-voltage battery. As a result, the system can unleash a combined output of 290 kW with the Driving Experience Control switch set to SPORT mode.

The three models achieve an electric range between 50 kilometres and 58 kilometres.

The six-cylinder in-line diesel engine with a 3,0-litre displacement and up to four turbo-chargers rounds off the local drive system line-up for the new BMW 7 Series. The 195 kW engine for the BMW 730Ld represents the first step on the diesel ladder for the new BMW 7 Series.

All variants of the new BMW 7 Series feature adaptive suspension including electronically controlled dampers and two-axle air suspension with automatic self-levelling. Among the options customers can choose from are Integral Active Steering and the Executive Drive Pro chassis system available for all models except the plug-in hybrid variant.

The Driving Assist Professional provides a comprehensive package of functions aimed at making driving as comfortable and safe as possible. They include Lane Keep Assist with active side collision protection, the evasion aid, the Cross Traffic Alert, Wrong-way warning systems, plus Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go function.


The standard-fitted Park Assist helps the driver with parking and manoeuvring. And it now also includes the Reversing Assistant, which can reverse the car for distances of up to 50 metres by steering it along exactly the same line it took when moving forward.

The new BMW 7 Series comes with the BMW Live Cockpit Professional as standard. This comprises a navigation and multimedia system, together with a fully digital, high-resolution instrument cluster behind the steering wheel with a screen diagonal of 12,3 inches and a Control Display measuring 10,25 inches across.

The BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant is another element of the operating system and the digital companion can be activated with the spoken prompt ‘Hey BMW’ and helps the driver to use various vehicle functions – updated seamlessly by Remote Software Upgrade.

The driver and passengers can also use natural voice commands with the help of the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant to activate the Experience Modes and the vitality and relaxation programmes, which offer need-based compositions of various functions – such as interior lighting, air-conditioning, fragrancing and shading, not to mention seat massage, heating and ventilation.


Neat styling for Merc B-Class

The somewhat boxy, almost frumpy, look of the older B-Class Mercedes-Benz that did little to endear itself with local buyers, gives way to a much sleeker and more dynamically styled revised version that launches this week.

Die neue Mercedes-Benz B-Klasse: Mehr Sports für den Tourer

The new Mercedes-Benz B-Class: More Sports for the Tourer

One of the special features of the new car is a basic volume, which drops away towards the occupants and has cutouts in the area of the driver and front passenger. The user interface of the adaptive MBUX multimedia system includes brilliant graphics, ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice control, a standard touch screen and functions such as MBUX Augmented Reality.


“In our portfolio of compacts, it is the perfect vehicle for the whole family. And MBUX – the new Mercedes-Benz User Experience – provides also the B-Class with an all-new customer experience with functions that were previously the reserve of the luxury class,” says Selvin Govender, Marketing Director for Passenger Cars.

When ordered with LED headlamps or higher, the B-Class comes with its own daytime running light signature in the form of a double torch. The optional MULTIBEAM LED headlamps have an especially sporty look. They allow fast, electronically controlled adjustment of the headlamps to suit the current traffic conditions. This feature from the luxury class, which made its debut in the compact segment in the new A-Class, now produces striking looks and added safety also in the new B-Class.

At the back, the width of the vehicle is accentuated by two-part lamps, reflectors integrated in the bumper and a distinctive black bumper bottom section with diffuser look and chrome trim strip. The large roof spoiler, along with high-gloss black spoilers at the sides of the rear window, makes for improved aerodynamics while ensuring a sporty appearance.

Die neue Mercedes-Benz B-Klasse: Mehr Sports für den Tourer

The new Mercedes-Benz B-Class: More Sports for the Tourer

The improved seat geometry and lower belt line make for an even more generous feeling of space than in the previous model. The driver sits 90 millimetres higher than in an A-Class, thus enjoying an especially good all-round view – also thanks to optimised cross-sections of the roof pillars, which obscure less of the surroundings.

The centre console with touch-based control and input system comes with a black panel look similar to the E-Class. The ambience lighting with 64 colours and 10 colour schemes, unique in this segment, allows individual adjustments, even to suit the mood.

The seats offer a flatter and, therefore, more comfortable seating position as well as a larger adjustment range, which also increases the maximum headroom. There is also more space in the width: at 1 456 millimetres (plus 33 mm), the front elbow width now has the dimensions of a mid-range vehicle.

With seat climate control and multicontour seats with massage function, the new B-Class is available with optional extras that were previously reserved for vehicles from much higher segments. This opens the way to even better seating comfort.

The new ENERGIZING seat kinetics is particularly good for the back. It can support orthopaedically beneficial changes of posture by regularly making minute adjustments to the angle of the seat cushion and backrest. The innovation is available for the front seats in combination with all-electric seat adjustment with memory function.

 With the rear seat folded down and luggage loaded to the roof, the luggage compartment, which is flat thanks to the adjustable load compartment floor, can accommodate up to 1 540 litres behind the front seats.


The new B-Class comes as standard with Active Brake Assist, along with crash bags for driver and front passenger, knee bag for driver and window bags and side bags (combined thorax/pelvis bag). Rear side bags are optionally available.

Compared to its predecessor, the new B-Class is in all cases powered by new, efficient engines, all of which comply with the Euro 6d-TEMP limits. Making its debut is a transverse-mounted version of the OM 654 2,0-litre diesel with 110 kW, aluminium crankcase and stepped-bowl combustion process.

Thanks to extended exhaust aftertreatment with an additional underfloor SCR catalyst, the B-Class with the OM 654q is the first compact model from Mercedes-Benz to be certified in accordance with the Euro 6d standard in the future.

Also available is the four-cylinder petrol engine of the M 282 series with 1,33-litre displacement and120 kW.

The new B-Class is initially available exclusively with dual-clutch transmissions. New here is the eight-speed 8G-DCT, which is used in combination with the diesel engine. Other new engines will follow, as will models with 4MATIC allwheel drive.

Depending on the version, several suspension options are available for the basic configuration, including a lowered comfort suspension and a suspension with active adaptive damping, which lets the driver control the damper tuning while driving using DYNAMIC SELECT.

The system uses an electronic valve, the control of which additionally analyses the driving state and optimises the damping rate individually for each wheel.

At the rear, the models with the entry-level engine variants come with a compound crank rear axle in the basic configuration. In combination with the more powerful engine variants or if the customer opts for one of the optional suspension systems, use is made of a sophisticated four-link rear axle, which is made extensively of aluminium to reduce the unsprung mass.

Die neue Mercedes-Benz B-Klasse: Mehr Sports für den Tourer

The new Mercedes-Benz B-Class: More Sports for the Tourer

The three wishbones and one trailing arm on each of the rear wheels are mounted on a subframe, which is isolated from the bodyshell by rubber bushings to reduce the transfer of vibration and noise from suspension to body. Single -tube shock absorbers and separate coil springs are used for both the four-link and the compound crank rear axle.

Technical data at a glance 

  Mercedes-Benz B200 Mercedes-Benz B200d
Engine 1332/4 1950/4
Displacement 1.991 cc/L4 1.950 cc/L4
Output 120 (163)/5.55kW (hp) at rpm 110 (150)/3.400-4.000kW (hp) at rpm
Peak torque 250/1.620-4.000Nm at  rpm 320/1.44-3.200Nm at rpm
Transmission Automatic Automatic
Fuel consumption – combined 5.7-5.2 I/100km³ 4.5-4.2 I/100km³
CO2 emissions – combined 131.0-124.0g/km³ 119.0-112.0g/km³
Retail price (ZAR) R 526 900.00 R 559 100.00


The case for electric vehicles

The case for electric vehicles will form part of an address by Bruno Grippay from Nissan International, an outspoken supporter of electrification, at the upcoming NAAMSA Conference at the Festival of Motoring taking place at Kyalami on August 22.

Grippay, with more than 30 years’ experience in many aspects of the global motor industry, will talk on the topic ‘Autonomous, Connected, Electric and Sharing’ in line with the theme Automotive Trends, Technology and Consumer Behaviour under the overall conference theme of Reimagining the Future Together.


Grippay began his career with Renault in France where he served in human resources and purchasing for over a decade. He then moved to Renault’s Alliance partner, Nissan, where the has held a number of positions of increasing responsibility in France, Japan, Brazil, and the United States.

Most recently he served as Vice President of Product Planning, Programme Management, Market Intelligence and Design for Nissan India. It was here where was an outspoken advocate for the development and adoption of electric vehicles in that country.

Grippay has become an invaluable asset to the organisation and a recognised leader in his fields of expertise. His current position is Regional Driector – Connected Cars and Intelligent Mobility Coordination for Nissan Africa, Middle East, and India.

Bruno Grippay

Another big plus for this year’s conference is the fact the newly appointed Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, has confirmed that he will attend the conference as another a keynote speaker, addressing the topic of “Is Government ready as a catalyst and an enabler for change?”

His presentation will be followed with great interest as it will be his first opportunity of addressing such a wide audience of people from the South African automotive industry, from OEMs and dealers to members of related organisations.


“The response from the industry to this year’s conference is very heartening,” says conference organiser Neil Piper, Head of Content Management at Messe Frankfurt South Africa. “Bookings are going well and those still wanting to attend should book quickly because seating is limited.”

The conference, which also offers ideal networking opportunities, will run from 08:30 to 13:30, when it will be followed by a light lunch.  The annual NAAMSA Automotive Conference in association with the Innovation Group and AutoTrader.


Road Review – Mercedes-Benz CLS53 AMG 4Matic

The expression ‘polar opposites’ referring to the North and South Poles at either end of the globe signifies two things that are completely different to each other, yet there is huge commonality in that expression since both poles share icy landscapes and have a significant influence on world weather.

If one were to take a cute and cuddly little kitten at one end of the scale and raging, roaring lion at the other, polar opposites they may be with the commonality both are feline and have claws – and so it is with the Mercedes-Benz C53 AMG 4Matic.

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC+, C257, 2018

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC+, C257, 2018

In common is the fact it is a four-door coupé-styled executive saloon offering bundles of luxury fittings and high-tech operating systems. At one end of that scale, it is as benign as that cute little kitty while, at the other, it is a raging beast surging through the countryside.

Most significant in the new CLS 53 is the introduction – well re-introduction really – of the straight six engine configuration. Mercedes-Benz stopped using this setup in 1996 in favour of the smaller ‘V’ shape engine but has gone backwards in order to go forwards.

The straight six layout suits the inclusion an EQ Boost starter generator that temporarily delivers additional power and torque as well as driving the 48-volt on-board electrical system.

While some might cry foul because the specific rasp of an angry ‘V’ is missing, they would do well to note in a drag race the new car is quicker (and the engine note is not half bad either).

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC+, C257, 2018

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC+, C257, 2018

The six-cylinder in-line engine produces an output of 320 kW and develops a peak torque of 520 Nm. Its EQ Boost starter generator temporarily delivers an additional output of 16 kW as well as 250 Nm of torque and this is why it is quicker.

The EQ Boost starter generator combines a starter and an alternator in one powerful electric motor that sits between the engine and the transmission. With its assistance, the electric auxiliary compressor can build up high boost pressure immediately. This means the torque available for acceleration increases more rapidly, until the large exhaust-driven turbo-charger kicks in.

The 3,0-litre engine thus reacts extremely promptly and provides highly dynamic response without turbo lag.

The EQ Boost starter generator and the intelligent forced induction with an electrical auxiliary compressor and exhaust-driven turbo-charger all have the same goal: to boost the AMG performance and driving dynamics, while at the same time reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

This it does rather successfully and The CLS 53 4MATIC+ accelerates to 100 km/h in 4,5 seconds and with the Driver’s Package reaches a top speed of 270 km/h. My best cruising consumption (in cuddly kitty mode) came down to 7,1 l/100 km with the overall average inclusive of a couple of adrenalin-pumping quick runs returned 8,4 l/100 km.

For a five metre long car weighing in at 1 980 kg that is quite impressive.

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC+, C257, 2018

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC+, C257, 2018

The new engine is coupled with the AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT 9G transmission, which has extremely short shift times, fast response to shift paddle commands, double-declutching function and multiple downshifts.

Whether automatic or initiated by the driver using the steering wheel shift paddles, upshifts or downshifts are implemented instantly. Especially in the ‘Sport+’ and in manual driving modes, the transmission is very responsive.

In fact, the gearbox reacted quickly enough in all modes to make the use of the paddles redundant. This is particularly noticeable in Sport+ mode where the slightest movement on the throttle initiates gear selection and usually faster than the average driver is likely to react.

However, there is a ‘M’ button that will turn the CLS53 into an exclusively manual car.

Also part of the standard specification is the AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive, where the fully variable torque split between the front and rear axles ensures optimum traction and a high directional stability and safety in all conditions.

The switch from rear wheel to all-wheel drive and back occurs continuously, because the intelligent control is incorporated into the overall vehicle systems’ architecture.

Put simply, the all-wheel drive makes the journey in any mode at most speeds safer by ensuring maximum traction in all conditions. At high speed, even though the car never actually feels as big as it really is, there is some push from the front into tight corners but, this is easily managed on the throttle – or, if going a bit too far by the excellent traction control system.

The interior of the new AMG models has model-specific appointments, luxurious materials and significantly expanded options. The optional Widescreen Cockpit has a large display with virtual gauges to serve as the instrument cluster in the driver’s direct line of vision, as well as a central display above the centre console.

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC+, C257, 2018

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC+, C257, 2018

The fully digital cockpit allows the driver to choose the look from the three different display styles and also configure the information and relevant views at will.

The car naturally comes with the full gamut of active and passive systems from anti-lock braking through traction control, lane-keeping assist and, if specified, autonomous braking while cruise control is active.

Like most Mercedes-Benz models the options pack is quite extensive allowing owners to personalise the car to suit their own needs.

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC+, C257, 2018

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC+, C257, 2018

It is said opposites attract and, in the case of the CLS53, the fact it goes from being like the mild-mannered Clark Kent to Superman (without the need for tights or a telephone booth in which to change) provide a strong binding factor of desirability.


Road Review – BMW X5 30d

The latest generation BMW X5 – 20 years on since the company first launched the Sports Activity Vehicle – bristles with technology, provides a supremely comfortable ride, is agile and, quite simply, ticks all the boxes relevant to its executive status but . . .!

Like the humans that occupy the interior, time moves on and the body undergoes natural and expected changes such as a gentle thickening around the tummy, or middle-aged spread, and the X5 has done just that but, like humans, can go a step too far and become, well, fat.


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that, and all road reviews are a mix of fact and subjective opinion – mine being the X5 has gained a couple of millimetres too much in height and width, losing the svelte look of its shapely predecessor.

The wheelbase is 42 mm longer than its predecessor’s (now 2 975 millimetres), there is a 36 mm increase in vehicle length (to 4 922 millimetres), with an extra 66 mm of width (now 2 004 millimetres) and a 19 mm increase in height (to 1 745 millimetres).

Shaving a few millimitres off the width and height would, I believe, give it a smoother outline that would enhance the body contours – without taking much away in terms of interior space.

The most striking feature of the front end is the large BMW kidney grille with single-piece surround. The new BMW X5 comes as standard with LED headlights, while BMW Laserlight with Adaptive LED Headlights can be specified as an option.

At the rear, too, all the lights feature LED technology. The three-dimensional design of their glass covers lends them a sculpted, technical edge. Diagonal accent lines give the rear a compact and brawny appearance.


Modern, clearly structured and elegant surfacing radiates a feeling of space inside the new BMW X5. The instrument panel is broken up by sweeping horizontal lines, which combine with electroplated trim elements to emphasize the width of the interior.

The raised seating position, driver-focused cockpit and new design and arrangement of the controls offer the person at the wheel the best possible view of proceedings.

As usual with BMW there are a host of options for buyers to consider in the quest to personalise their vehicle as much as possible.

The new BMW X5 comes as standard with 18-inch light-alloy wheels, the xLine model features its own 19-inch light-alloy wheels and M Sport brings 20-inch M light-alloy wheels in twin-spoke design. Further variants in 18-inch to 22-inch formats are available as options.

Other new features designed to maximise the feel-good factor and luxurious ambience on board the BMW X5 include the four-zone air-conditioning system and the panoramic glass roof, whose clear surface is 30% larger than on the outgoing car.


The Panorama glass roof Sky Lounge, generates a special and exclusive aura when darkness falls, with LED light spreading evenly across the glass surface to illuminate more than 15 000 graphic patterns and generate a display reminiscent of a starlit sky.

The Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System has 20 speakers and 1 500-watt output and the optional Rear-seat entertainment Professional system comprises a pair of 10,2-inch full-HD touchscreen displays, a Blu-ray-compatible DVD player, two USB ports, an HDMI socket and two headphone jacks.

The system is part of the new display and control concept and allows those in the rear of the vehicle to select and operate entertainment functions. The rear-seat passengers can use both their own media sources and those available in the front compartment. A navigation map and BMW ConnectedDrive services can also be accessed in the rear seats.

Folding down the 40 : 20 : 40 split rear seat backrest increases boot capacity from 645 litres to a maximum 1 860 litres. The new BMW X5 also has a two-section tailgate for ease of loading.

The BMW X5 xDrive30d is powered by a straight-six diesel engine, with displacement of 3,0-litres and featuring a single turbo-charger with variable inlet geometry. The common-rail direct injection system, meanwhile, propels fuel into the combustion chambers at up to 2 500 bar.

Maximum output of 195 kW is reached at 4 000 r/min, while the 620 Nm of peak torque is available from 2 000 r/min – 2 500 r/min.

Capable of reaching the 100 km/h mark from rest in 6,5 seconds, the new X5 xDrive30d returned combined fuel consumption of 6,6 l/100 kilometres during my test cycle.


Managing that drive is an improved version of the 8-speed Steptronic transmission where a wider ratio spread and new control electronics help to increase the powertrain’s overall efficiency.

The latest generation of the BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system is now able to split drive torque between the front and rear wheels with even greater precision and speed, as the situation demands. For added efficiency, full power can be directed to the rear wheels only in situations where all-wheel drive is surplus to requirements.

This engine is exceptionally responsive – especially in Sport mode – and the gearbox intuitive enough to thottle and brake inputs to offer the right gear at the right moment without any real need to use the paddle shifters, often making the change faster than human hands could muster.

Built on a double-wishbone front axle and a five-link rear axle, the X5 now comes as standard with the Dynamic Damper Control system, whose electronically controlled dampers sharpen the car’s handling dynamics at the same time as increasing ride and suspension comfort.


The driver can select Adaptive M suspension Professional with active roll stabilisation and Integral Active Steering for more dynamic driving qualities or an Off-Road package, which is being offered here in a BMW X model for the first time.

The standard equipment of the new BMW X5 includes Cruise Control with braking function and the Collision Warning and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function, which now also alerts the driver when cyclists are detected.

The optional Active Cruise Control (ACC) with Stop & Go function is capable of braking the vehicle to a standstill and sending it on its way again automatically. For greater convenience in stop-start traffic, the period between stopping and automatically moving off has been extended to up to 30 seconds.

Available as an option, the Driving Assist Professional package comprises the Steering and lane control assistant as well as the Lane Keeping Assistant with active side collision protection.

If the road markings are clear, the X5 will happily steer itself along the highway, keeping precisely to the centre of the lane – naturally, it remains up to the driver to remain vigilant and look for (and avoid) potholes and the like.


At the start I mentioned the X5 bristles with tech – and it does. Again, the level and actual fitment depends on final personal choice at the time of purchase.

However,  Open Mobility Cloud, which allows the personal mobility assistant to interface the car with the customer’s digital devices takes it all to new levels.

For instance, the BMW Connected app can import appointments and addresses from the customer’s calendar entries straight into the navigation system to begin route guidance. The system also calculates the optimum departure time based on real-time traffic information and notifies the driver with a message on their smartphone.

As the vehicle is also linked up via the Open Mobility Cloud, it is able to access the calculated route directly when the navigation system starts up. In addition, BMW Connected automatically stores places the driver has visited regularly as well as personal mobility patterns.

The integration of Microsoft Office 365 turns the new BMW X5 into a mobile office. Users of a Business Essential or Business Premium account with Exchange function are able to safely access their email account from their car and easily manage appointments and contacts, so there is absolutely no need for them to use their smartphone while driving.


All information and data appear directly in the Control Display. Drivers can have emails read out to them and are able to use voice commands to dictate and send new messages while on the move. In addition, calendar appointments can be confirmed, cancelled or transferred straight to the navigation system, as can contact addresses.

There is so much in the way of standard and optional equipment that make the X5 truly special in addition to the way in which it handles, smooths out bumps and returns a pleasurable driving experience – just lose a few millimetres.