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Browsing: First Drives

Okay, so you’re probably wondering why we’re featuring the X-Class yet again, and that’s fair, given that it’s dominated motor magazine pages of late. Part of the reason is the massive hype generated by ‘the first of a new kind’ – a truly premium bakkie from a truly premium manufacturer. But to be honest, we just have to tell you what it’s like to drive the V6! The big boss of the X-Class line-up is here, and it’s powered by a proper Mercedes-Benz drivetrain, consisting of a 3.0L, 190kW, turbocharged V6 paired with a smooth-as-all-heck 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission. From…

Hyundai has always had a very hard time shaking off the shackles of its humble, budget beginnings, but the time has come to recognise the undeniable quality that the Korean manufacture is producing year in, year out. The new Santa Fe is a prime example, combining a sublime interior with a silky driving experience to create something that seems far more German than Asian. The price point reflects that, as well, moving the Santa Fe into uncertain waters between the value-for-money Fortuner and more premium options like the VW Touareg. For the consumer looking for a spacious, comfortable and well-built…

The BMW X5 is one of the cars of our time – a massive status symbol and an imposing presence on any road, in any country. Since its introduction in 1999, it has shaped and defined the SUV segment, and the fourth generation is no different. At the launch in George, we were treated to both models on offer in SA: the grounded, exceptionally-capable xDrive30d, and the almighty, quad-turbocharged M50d. There are no plans for a petrol variant at present, but after driving the M50d, it seems that there’s no need for one at all. The soundtrack produced by 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…

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…

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…

While on the recent Slovenian launch of the new Mercedes X-Class 350d 4Matic, I had ample opportunity to put the vehicle through its paces in the scenic surrounds of the capital city, Ljubljana, and test the new V6 offering on- and off-road. The X350d is the premier vehicle in the X-Class line-up. It is powered by a long-standing 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel in the Benz range, and offers a lot more grunt than the 2.3-litre four-pots in the X220d and X250d. In the lower models, torque is increased from the mid 400s to 550Nm − the benefit of which can be…

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…

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