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Browsing: First Drives

The departure of GM from SA, and with it the Chevrolet brand, left an SUV-sized hole in the Isuzu line-up; fortunately, the new custodians have now filled it with the Thailand-built Aussie-spec mu-X. The Trailblazer was no great volume seller in the mid-size ladder-on-frame bakkie-origins market here. This is properly dominated by Toyota’s Fortuner, with the Ford Everest taking the rest of the lion’s share, and the Pajero Sport now vying for the scraps. Not that the Trailblazer was bad, as it was quite a decent looker; it’s rather that the Chev nameplate had lost currency, and the interior plastics…

For the first time since 1979, the G-Class has seen a complete redesign, bringing it into the modern age without losing its off-road capability. It will land in SA later this year, and, according to Mercedes, the G-Class has been improved in all aspects from efficiency, to comfort and interior − and driving dynamics both on and off-road. Off-road prowess The most obvious departure from days gone by is the replacement of a front solid axle with a double-wishbone setup. Mercedes claim that the new front end is just as robust, and may even improve off-road capability. The most obvious…

Chris Collard takes a spin in the newest prodigy of the seven-slot legacy, and puts the minds of long-time fans at ease. When the Wrangler made its début in 1987 as the YJ, Jeep purists poked fun at Jeep’s new prodigy, casting derogatory insults such as “Yuppie Jeep” and “Real Jeeps have round headlights.” While I agree with them regarding round headlamps, the YJ retained the DNA of its venerable predecessors in the CJ lineup. It had solid axles, a reliable 6-cylinder mill, and traditional leaf springs. A decade later we met the coil-sprung TJ, and in 2007, the internationally acclaimed…

With a heritage dating back to the early 1950s, the Nissan Patrol has a long legacy, and a fervent fan base. Australian 4x4ers in particular are Patrol-obsessed, thanks to the vehicle’s heritage of an extremely strong ladder frame chassis, and bullet-proof diffs and gearboxes, making them perfect for serious, often competitive, off-road driving. Unlike the Y61 Patrol, the Y62 on show here favours luxury over outright capability, with plush independent suspension and a sumptuous interior. For those in need of more articulation and ruggedness, the Y61 is still available brand-new in SA. This, the latest 6th gen Patrol, has in…

Range Rover has added a fourth model to its stable, the Velar, which joins the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Evoque, and slots in-between the latter two. A fourth Rangie joins the fray Although the Range Rover might have started life as a vehicle with an interior that you could hose down when muddy, it has always been a beltingly good-looking vehicle. (One of the originals was displayed in the Musée du Louvre in Paris as an “exemplary work of industrial design”.) The Velar has taken this trend of attractive family genes and run with it, becoming a Range…

The Mercedes marketing machine drip-feed has now doled out more on its upcoming X-Class one-tonner double-cab, and this time with a proper drive in Chile. This skinniest of all South American countries is bakkieand- SUV mad, and promises to be a vital market for Mercedes’ premium take on the segment. Suffice to say plenty of new Navaras are driving around in that country’s towns and strungout rural villages, and there were many inquisitive glances at the badging on our test vehicles wherever they went. The reason? One of the key questions about the new X-Class is this: to what degree…

For 2018, the back-to-basics Mahindra Pik Up has received a host of changes to bring it, at last, into the 21st century. Apart from some styling tweaks to the blunt front end, the Pik Up has been given a higher level of specification and an improved drivetrain. Inside, drivers will note the new 6-inch touch screen on the S10 double cab models, as well as central locking, cruise control and even a multifunction steering wheel. ABS, EDB and two airbags have also been added, along with a collapsible steering column and crumple zones. An updated 2.2-litre four-cylinder mHawk turbo diesel…

A Fortuner that combined the frugal and cost efficient 2.4 GD-6 engine with a 4×4 drivetrain was a model sorely lacking when the latest range was launched. Thankfully, Toyota South Africa has answered our prayers. The 2.4 GD-6 4×4 6AT will use the same 110kW/400Nm mill as found elsewhere in the range, mated to a 6-speed automatic box and low-range transfer case. More good news? At R506 000, it’s R118 100 cheaper than the 2.8-litre auto 4×4.

Not to be confused with the F150-based Raptor as is sold in the US, the Ranger Raptor due to hit our market next year will be a performance version of Ford’s existing mid-size offering, the Ranger. Though we don’t have confirmation yet, reliable sources suggest that the new Ranger Raptor will be powered by a high output, twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel engine – which comes as a big disappointment to many Ford fans hoping to see the 2.7-litre Ecoboost V6 petrol introduced, or at least the 2.3-litre four-cylinder currently found under Mustang bonnets. However, Ford insists the twin-turbo 2.-litre diesel mill…

Although the previous Pajero Sport was getting long in the tooth, Mitsubishi’s latest offering is set to stick it to the Everest and Fortuner with a combination of new tech, safety features, style and capability. The vehicle has been completely redesigned from the ground up, and is based on the ladder frame of the latest Triton bakkie. Capability and drivetrain Like the Triton, the Pajero Sport uses a heavily turbocharged 2.4-litre diesel mill, in this case with 133kW and 430Nm. Unlike the Triton with its five-speed auto, the Sport uses an Aisin 8-speed auto, and, thanks to that quick-shifting box,…

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