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Browsing: First Drives

Power without the penalties? Amarok Canyon Edition comes close Words & Pictures by Angus Boswell The Amarok is a cleverly-engineered pickup. From launch in 2010, it was a step or two ahead of the rivals in terms of technology, if not ability. Back then, the flagship version used a 120kW 2.0-litre turbodiesel, which was a very different approach to that of its rivals. “The body is too wide, there’s not enough lugging power, the 6-speed gearbox is notchy,” said the doubters, “and where is the 3.0-litre V6 that it needs?” Even so, the little 2.0-litre proved reliable, capable, and able

Adding a six-speed auto to Mahindra’s workhorse ups the game for this value proposition. It’s hard to argue against a brand new, top-spec double cab with all the latest bells and whistles for the same price as a five-year-old Hilux with 100 000km on the clock. That’s precisely where Mahindra fits into the picture. This company, which now has 67 local dealers and an assembly facility in Durban, is pushing hard into the sub-Saharan market with a range of utility vehicles that offer extreme value. Surprisingly, at this price range, they are also producing high-quality products that are a joy

Car launches are carefully managed events that show off a vehicle’s best qualities. While they do usually take place in spectacular locations, the emphasis is nearly always on the car, with little thought given to the travel experience. But for the launch of the new Everest, Ford managed to blend the best of both worlds into one heck of an experience in Botswana. The journey began with a flight to Maun, the go-to jump-off point for many a traveller heading into the Okavango Delta. We’d be spending two nights exploring the highlights of the region, all from the comfort of

Toyota is known for their over-the-top launch events and this one, to unleash two new special edition Hilux models, was no different. Catching the dreaded redeye flight from Cape Town to Lanseria and on to Kasane in the far north-eastern corner of Botswana, we then picked up our chariots for an epic adventure through Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana. Celebrating five decades at the top of the food chain, Toyota is releasing two very special new models to up the game once again. The Legend 50 replaces all new Raider models at the top end of the Hilux hierarchy, offering improved

What a blast! If you are a fan of spirited off-road driving, there is much to like about Ford’s just-released Ranger Raptor. The Raptor has been elevated to a performance class of its own by the Aussie engineers who did the development work, and it’s the closest we are likely to get to the iconic Stateside F150 Raptor. I can’t think of any other locally-available production four-wheel-drive vehicle that offers this kind of poise and balance at the price. For a load-carrying bakkie, rated slightly lower than a standard Ranger, to carry 607kg and tow 2500kg, its ride quality and

Mitsubishi has taken bold steps with the redesign of the Triton, just two years after South Africa received the fifth-generation model, and, if everyone is honest, it’s a great improvement. That wide and angular new face with its high-set headlights, daytime running lights, and flashes of brightwork, is taking no prisoners. Visually, it is complemented by heavily flared wheel arches, a crisp shoulder line and redesigned tail lights. The previous undercut join between cab and load body is gone. The result? A beefy-looking bakkie that looks like it can duke it out with anything out there. An interior makeover is

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

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