This is the home of automobile road tests in South Africa. We drive South African cars, SUVs and LCVs under South African conditions. It also just happens that most of the vehicles we drive are world cars as well, so what you read here probably applies to the models you can get at home.
*To read one of our road tests, just select from the menu on the left.
*Please remember too, that prices quoted were those ruling on the days I wrote the reports.
The engine: Hyundai/Kia’s Kappa 1248 cc, DOHC 16-valve, dual CVVT, four-cylinder motor develops 65 kW at 6000 rpm and 120 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. It uses a cast aluminium block, offset crankshaft, maintenance-free long-life timing chain and low-friction ‘beehive’ valve springs.
The body: Five-door, A-segment hatchback, with all-steel unitary construction. Its co-efficient of drag (Cd) is 0,31 – remarkably low for an upright little city car. Suspension and damping is fully independent in front by means of subframe-mounted McPherson struts with coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers and anti-roll stabiliser bar. At the rear, it is semi-independent using a coupled torsion beam axle with separate coil springs and gas-filled shock absorbers. Brakes are 241 mm ventilated discs in front, with 180 mm drums at the rear. ABS, EBD and ESS are standard. EuroNCAP rating: Four stars. The gearbox on the test car was a five-speed manual unit with a high top gear ratio (0.719:1) to optimise fuel economy and enhance refinement by reducing engine rpm at cruising speed.
Standard equipment includes two airbags, front and rear fog lamps, front and rear powered windows, heated electrically operated mirrors, ISOFix child seat anchors, child proof rear door locks, keyless entry, automatic light control, six-speaker radio and CD player with auxiliary, USB and iPod connectors, sound and phone controls on the steering wheel, a trip computer and Bluetooth connectivity. The 14” alloy wheels were exchanged for 15” versions this past January.
The experience: The 200-litre boot is average for a small city car, but should be able to handle a month’s basic groceries for two, provided it’s packed creatively. A shallow compartment under the floor provides a safer place for valuable items while rear seat backs fold down and the cushions flip forward to create more space if needed. Little notches on the sides keep seatbelt buckles out of the way while you do this. Cunning, these Koreans. The spare is a steel spacesaver.
Bearing in mind that this is a mini, or even micro-car, tall passengers behind six-foot drivers are quite well looked after, with this traveller awarding 7 out of 10 for knee space, 8 for headroom and 9 for feet, with the driver’s chair adjusted all the way down. Three head restraints and as many belts look after backseat passengers’ safety. Office accommodations include a tilting steering wheel with remote buttons, a decently sized glove box and lots of storage spaces. Three clear, white on black dials mounted in pods, keep tabs on engine revolutions, speedometer with multi-function display, and fuel. Two unlit makeup mirrors are mounted on the backs of the sun visors. The dash is made of hard plastic, but fit and finish is excellent.
The little 1250 pulls like a tiger and revs freely to 6500 rpm, turning over at 3200 at 120 in top and 5400 at 120 in third. We won’t say what kind of overtaking speed you could get in that gear, because it would be illegal, but you can do the math. It’s altogether a blast to drive, although we suggest you hide this paragraph from the old people if you’re relying on parental subsidy for this thing. They might not understand.
Price: R118 995
Engine: See text
Zero to 100 km/h: 11,6 seconds
Maximum speed: 169 km/h
Real life fuel consumption: About 6,3 l/100 km
Tank: 35 litres
Warranty: 5 years/100 000 km with 3 years’ roadside assistance
Service: A 2 year/45 000 km plan is an optional extra
This is a one-man show, which means that road test cars entrusted to me are driven only by me. Some reviewers hand test cars over to their partners to use as day-to-day transport and barely experience them for themselves.
What this means to you is that every car reviewed is given my own personal evaluation and receives my own seat of the pants judgement - no second hand input here.
Every car goes through real world testing; on city streets littered with potholes, speed bumps and rumble strips, on freeways and if its profile demands, dirt roads as well.
My articles appear every Wednesday in the motoring pages of The Witness, South Africa's oldest continuously running newspaper, and occasionally on Saturdays in Weekend Witness as well. I drive eight to ten vehicles most months of the year (press cars are withdrawn over the festive season - wonder why?) so not everything gets published in the paper. Those that are, get a tagline but the rest is virgin, unpublished and unedited by the political-correctness police. Hope you like what you see, because there are no commercial interests at work here. As quite a few readers have found, I answer every serious enquiry from my home email address, with my phone numbers attached, so I do actually exist.
I am based in Pietermaritzburg, KZN, South Africa. This is the central hub of the KZN Midlands farming community; the place farmers go to buy their supplies and equipment, truck their goods to market, send their kids to school and go to kick back and relax.
So occasionally a cow, a goat or a horse may add a little local colour by finding its way into the story or one of the pictures. It's all part of the ambience!
Want to ask a question, comment or just tell me you thoroughly disagree with what I say? That's your privilege, because if everybody agreed on everything, the world would be a boring place. All I ask is that you remain calm, so please blow off a little steam before venting too vigorously.