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Tests & Reviews

The big talk at the moment is that the Nissan NP300 “Hardbody” scored Zero stars – that’s right, a fat zero – for passenger safety in a recent re-test commissioned by a philanthropic organisation styled as #SaferCarsForAfrica, and conducted by the Automobile Association and the Global NCAP organisation. In an effort to ensure that vehicles which are exported to various countries make the cut in safety terms, this is quite laudable. The NP300 is apparently exported to about 35 sub-Saharan countries, and to places like the UAE, Russia, the Ukraine and Lebanon. It’s been an export success, and over the…

After spending a great deal of time negotiating many thousands of kilometers in a previous version of the Renault Duster, it was with great anticipation that I accepted the invitation to the Nelspruit launch of the all-new Renault Duster. My co-driver felt the driver’s space was a little tight, but I did not share his sentiments.  I found the seats well bolstered, very comfortable and torso-hugging − which might have contributed to his feeling of less driver’s space. We had the opportunity to test the Duster in various conditions during the two-day launch; and, as I wrote in my review…

The wait is over. After 20 years, Suzuki has finally blessed the local automotive market with a brand-new Jimny, and it’s a monumental step-up from its predecessor. Visually, it’s a nostalgic return to the boxy, angular LJs and SJs of the 70s and 80s, with plenty of modern improvements. And before you say what we’re all thinking, Suzuki wants to clear something up – the first LJ preceded the first Gelandewagen by several years, so in fact, the G-Wagon looks like a Jimny! Despite first impressions, the new model is in fact pretty much the same size as the last…

I enjoy music a lot, more so than most people I know. I grew up playing my dad’s seven-singles on his retro Hammerstein radiogram. It was an FM unit with a turntable. Despite his best efforts to lock the glass covering of the turntable section, I always managed to open it. When I think back, I realise that my dad (an Afrikaner) had a surprisingly comprehensive collection of 60s Brit Rock; I think my British mom contributed a little. His Valiant had an 8-track tape player − and the likes of Jose Feliciano, Nana Mouskouri, Johnny Mathis, John Denver and…

Of all the popular upgrades that we do to our 4WD vehicles, the management of the 12 Volt power system is arguably the toughest to get right. The standard power system of a vehicle consists of a battery, a charging system and a network of electronic devices that manage this power to ensure that the vehicle starts, that the now depleted battery is charged back up to full capacity as quickly as possible and that all of the standard electronic devices of the vehicle are properly and sufficiently powered. This is no small feat, but this system works. As overlanding…

When it comes to off-road performance, Ford’s new Raptor Ranger rewrites the rule book for production bakkies. Raptor is a name synonymous with off-road racing, Baja 1000 big-bore petrol engines, and adrenaline-fuelled driving. And now it’s been filtered down to the Ranger. But, instead of the twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 petrol in America’s latest F-150-based version, we get a sprightly 2.0-litre, twin-turbo, four-cylinder diesel. Does this mean that Ford has softened the brand, or does the mini-Raptor still cut it for the adrenaline junkie? We went to the Aussie Outback for a flat-out drive to find out. Under the bonnet Although…

The second generation Mahindra Pik Up, based on the Scorpio, has had a host of updates which brings it into the 21st century, putting it on top of the budget double-cab-bakkie pile. It is a simple and robust take on the workhorse concept, which is refreshing in a world where fancy car-like features and showy finishes sell a vehicle. This one feels more old-school, rather like an early FJ Series Land Cruiser, and is all the better for it. We drove India’s best for about 1000km, including a trip to a very snowy Matroosberg, to see what it’s made of.…

Bakkies are really versatile vehicles. As time goes by, they just seem to get better. In the case of a double cab, this is especially true. The passenger cabins of these trucks are almost car-like in design, and many of them feature an abundance of luxuries that were unheard of even in luxury sedans not so long ago. Add to this the advantage of a lofty perch from which to observe the lesser mortals in their sedans and little runabouts, and one can begin to see why the likes of the Hilux and Ranger regularly top the vehicle sales charts.…

In this series we look at what it takes to build a “Class O” Ford Ranger for the Avis Safari Rental fleet. This month: battery power. A few years ago Enertec Batteries were tasked with an enquiry from Avis Safari Rentals to supply them with the best and most reliable battery for their 4×4 rental vehicles as they were experiencing untenable battery problems. Investing in batteries is often overlooked as a general commodity, however, a battery is the heartbeat of the vehicle, supplying all power and starting requirements. It can literally make or break one’s leisure and/or bush experience. First…

Maserati’s super-SUV has been its best seller in recent times, and with the global shift towards spacious family vehicles in full swing, it’s not hard to understand why the Italian stallion is doing so well. We spent some time with the range-topping Levante S to see what all the noise is about. The supercar SUV trend is inescapable. Soon, we’ll have the new Lamborghini Urus cruising through Camps Bay and Sandton, and it won’t be long before Ferrari follows suit. All the while, Maserati will have been quietly churning out Levantes from its Mirafiori production line in Turin. With coupe…

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