Ford Focus 2litre GDI Sport

Those old boys in Michigan in the US got a big wake up call in 2008, and they’ve had to do some rethinking…not only because of pressures in their local market…but more recently on a global level. Ford is now spending huge amounts of time and money to firm up global alignment of products. Ford calls this their global – “one strategy”, as these vehicles like the Focus are centrally designed and engineered for multiple markets.

Agressive front end

The previous generation Focus was a very successful model, especially so in the UK, and more so in performance variants ST and RS, which offer some of the most hardcore driving experiences at the price. Unfortunately where they excelled in driving dynamics and handling, they could never quite match the quality interior of the VW Golf, and overall value of everyday driving car. However. Ford wasn’t happy with that. So this time around the Focus takes another swing, not only the Germans, but also the host of new competitors from the East.

The new Focus has various model variants available. On offer are 4-door and 5-door variants, all with different Trend, Ambiente and Sport trim levels. A few engine variants, from the 1.6 & 2litre petrol with Ti-VCT to a 2litre diesel with Powershift automatic transmission (only available in the 4door).

The model I had on test was the 2litre hatchback GDI Sport manual. which is the top of the range for the hatchback (currently). This is the model every Benoni and Pretoria mullet boy yearns after, the ST, comes to market here in 2012. Until then we’ll have to live with the 2litre naturally aspirated, which pushes out 125kW at 6600RPM (quite high) and 202Nm of torque at just over 4450RPM. I’m very used to a turbo engine, but have to say that I was SO surprised with this naturally aspirated new 4pot baby from Ford I had to double check the variant I was driving. It’s not ridiculously fast, but it sounds like the air is flowing through the guts of it, and it’s good mid range punch. You have to get the engine on the boil a bit as there isn’t a lot of shove from low down in the rev range, but once on the move it’s a very pleasant engine (in sound, and performance).

Thankfully the engine isn’t the only good bit. The Focus has been dipped in Ford’s new Kinetic design language, and … well … it’s better looking than the old Focus. It’s bigger than the previous generation model, and from the sideline, I had a few people remark it looks like a station wagon. A station wagon?! Well, either way, at least it brings about opinion, which is something no Golf does.

Very futuristic looking

Something else that definitely got opinions going was the interior. I find it rather refreshing getting into a car that looks like it’s been designed for the future. It’s not trying to copy anyone, or just be a plainly boring ergonomic design. It’s daring, different and at the same time fairly easy to get accustomed to. The Sport comes with cloth (come now Ford, you could have shed some cow blood here) black seats that are electrically adjustable for the driver, and the moment you get in, the dual screens (one on the dash, and one in the instrument binnacle) catch your eye. Ford has probably come closest of any of the competitors to the Golf 6 in terms of quality of material, fit and finish. The Focus interior is awash with simple black soft touch materials and quite a few pieces of brushed aluminium. The steering wheel sits quite far out, and is meaty and purposeful in your hands. What I didn’t like was that the steering-wheel controls were quite complicated and took some time to get used to. There are

The Borg controls

1.Buttons on the left, which control the screen on the centre console

2.Buttons on the right which control the screen inside the instrument binnacle

3. A weird Borg type control below those on the left that controlled the cruise control

4. More weird Borg type controls on the right that control the sound system

Look, you get used to it, and nice work that it’s all there, but then surely there should be less than the 1584 buttons on the piano black Sony sound system on the centre console. They haven’t done the best job of making buttons you use often, big or legible (E.g. door lock and unlock).

These are small niggles, and overall it’s a great place to be, I really enjoyed the lighting and quality feel of the controls. (Ambiance lighting in red, puddle lighting and the bright LED entry lights). Standard features on the Sport bring in a SONY 9-speaker 450watt system with Bluetooth, iPod prep, voice recognition, auto wipers & lights, heated front seats and dual zone climate control. It’s an incredible amount of standard kit. Bravo Ford. Bravo. Something they could have added, is xenon headlamps and daytime running lights, which you can’t spec or get on our local models.

For those with families, there’s space for 4adults, and a significant amount of space in the boot. At least 4 hookers if you squeeze them in properly.

Sony sound system

On the road the new Focus has lost a little bit of the spark of the old model. It’s not AS raw and engaging as the old model was, but I didn’t expect it to be, as the majority of the buyers just want a comfortable quiet car. That said, the chassis feels alive when it’s on the go, and in true Focus form, the car is incredibly planted. You need to try very hard to get the front to wash wide, and I’d say it’s now on par with the Golf’s chassis in terms how balanced it is. It’s even more impressive considering the 17inch 10spoke rubber that comes standard on the Sport. If things should get out of hand there is traction and stability control as standard, as well as Ford’s Torque Vectoring control to keep the front wheels from causing too much torque steer. Not likely on this model, but thanks anyways. I suspect that will come in handy on the ST though. The manual gearbox is angled close to the driver and has short direct throws, but strangely only 5 gears? It works well, but on long distance cruising the fuel economy suffers because of the lack of final 6th gear driving ratio, which might get some buyers opting for the diesel with Powershift.

I thoroughly enjoyed the meaty steering, giving enough feedback from the wheels and there was never a point it felt over assisted. The brakes too, are excellent, and the Focus comes with ABS, EBD and EBA standard across the range.

The Rear

Overall, It’s clear this car can handle a lovely turbocharged engine and there were times I yearned for some more power. That said the 2litre has a nice growl to it and the handling is superb, thanks to the dynamic chassis. The interior is comfortable and the whole car is superbly specced. The only drawback being the lack of 6th gear which will have a detrimental effect on fuel economy.

So far, in this model guise, the Ford has got everything going for it, and then comes the big surprise… the price.

R270 000 for the top of the range model I reviewed, which is excellent value considering the size, specification and quality of vehicle.

Nissan Qashqai – 2litre n-tec

Let’s get this straight, there’s a couple of pretty average, tasteless and bland models from Nissan – see the NP300 (Hardbody), Pathfinder and Tiida.

Thankfully of late, Nissan has been bringing out some pretty awesome models such as the GT-R, 370Z , Murano and of course the Qashqai.

The Qashqai has a weird name but a pretty normal promise – It’s going to be a comfortable, good-looking, value for money leisure vehicle for those parents who are looking for something that has comfortable seating for 4 or 5, good fuel economy and raised ground clearance to give better all round visibility and value.


The Qashqai model I had on test was the 2litre petrol Acenta N-tec  (A limited edition 4×2 manual with larger 18inch rims and panoramic sunroof, premium chrome finishes and leather seats). The model range is quite vast and comprises of different engine sizes (1.6, 2.0petrol and 2.0diesel) as well as 4×2 and 4×4 variants with different trim (Acenta, Visia & Limited edition n-tec). These are also available in CVT (automatic) or manual. There’s pretty much something for everyone here, so you won’t have trouble finding your fit, but the Acenta n-tec does look the best, with very unique black and silver 18inch rims, some more leather bits on the interior and some chrome accents on the exterior.


Panoramic Roof = winner

Most mommies would probably spend some time checking out the interior, and I can say it’s a specious and very nice place to be. There was quite a bit of “kit”, including the leather seats, dual zone climate control, 5-3point seatbelts with ISOFIX mountings on back row of seats. There are plug-ins for all multimedia, a half decent sound system and rain sensing windshield wipers with auto-chromatic rear-view mirror and cruise control, which came in handy on the long trips. It’s a little plasticky on the interior, but most people wouldn’t really even notice.

On the safety front, standard with the entire model range is ABS, EBD, BAS and VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) along with the full compliment of driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags across the range.  The interior is a nice place to be; there’s also a lot of stowage space for all the crap kids gather, and the boot is a reasonable size with load-cover. Only gripe here is the bootlid that doesn’t raise high enough and I found myself smacking my head against the bootlid on opening.


The exterior is fairly exciting, without being offensive. It’s actually quite good looking, and in the right color and trim options can look pretty damn up-market! The models with hubcaps and low trim do tend to not really even catch one’s eye even if they were driving down the road flaming.


Nissan VS Hyundai ix35

I took the Qashqai on a road-trip to Clarens for the weekend and found it a very comfortable cruiser. It’s no dynamic wonder, but who gives a shit?! This car is made to transport families in comfort, and it does that well. The panoramic sunroof really added to the overall ambiance of the interior, and has a fully automatic cloth cover that closes to keep the sun from turning the car into a little hot box. The car did really well considering the state of disrepute of the roads between Bethlehem and Clarens, meant I played “dodge the pothole and oncoming traffic” for around 60km’s. The car handled well taking the bumps and undulating surface in its stride, even when I was veering all over the road to avoid the potholes … that didn’t unsettle it.


What’s unfortunately not so great is the very lack-luster 2 litre engine. Pushing out 102kW and a very low 198Nm leaves you hunting through the gears, and this means you have to spend a lot of time changing gears. Which is a bad thing, as the gearbox feels something like stirring butter with a very long stick. It’s strange how detached the gearlever feels from the gearbox somewhere down there, notchy gearshifts and a clutch that doesn’t help the cause. My friends from ZaCarShow said I’m being a little critical and most people who buy the car would happily live with the gearbox (They are probably right)

The engine is a bit of a let down too, I could have sworn the car I had was the 1.6litre, but she was the 2litre…sadly. This also affected fuel consumption as I couldn’t get below 12l/100km, manufacturer claims 10.47l/100km which isn’t bad but isn’t great either. I would definitely like to see Nissan bring the 1.6Techna engine from the Juke to the Qashqai, and you can leave all the rest out.


Check those rims!

There really is very little to dislike about the Qashqai for most people You can see why there are so many of them on the roads. I can’t see the point of the 4×4 model as there’s no other 4×4 qualities to the vehicle, so my pick would probably be the 2.0cdi (diesel) Acenta 4×2 instead of the petrol one I had.

You’d also be looking at the Kia Sportage, Jeep Compass and Hyundai ix35 in this company, and I can say that it’ll be a tough choice between the Kia and the Nissan, but due to Kia still have supply issues, I’d go for the Nissan.


Pricing of vehicle as tested 2litre Acenta Limited Edition with Panoramic sunroof – R300,000

Standard 3year / 90 000 km service plan and 3year / 100 000 km warranty


Nissan Juke 1.6T Tekna

Juke's in a row

I haven’t seen a car draw such drastically differing opinion in some time. That’s actually a very good thing. Nobody like’s a “meh” reaction to something, take for example the recently released VW Jetta. I’m sure this made the base of your penis fizz. Probably not. No.



The reason for the town’s folk dragging out their pitchforks and placards is due to the radical exterior styling of the new Nissan Juke. The Juke is Nissan’s global foray into an untouched market segment, and one that (according to Nissan) shows a gap in the South African market. This is the B-segment Sports Cross-over. The slightly smaller cross-over vehicle that will be a jack of all trades yet a master of none. Thankfully the Juke doesn’t really fall prey to this turn of phrase and is actually a surprising balance.

What it does unfortunately fall prey to is the type of front end that might make kids scatter from the streets and your local deity throw holy water in your direction. It’s pretty “out there” with a clear tiered and slightly “bug” looking front end.

Rear - 370Z anyone?

A very compact-swooping roofline that gives the side profile coupe look, and strangely 370 Z rear. It does look like the front and rear were given to two different people to design and then just sown together. This said, the vehicle was a joint venture between the teams in the UK and Japan. Odd that?

The Juke achieves a couple things really well, and I’ll highlight them below

Firstly, it’s got the type of adventurous looks that sets it apart from anything else on the road. It’s going to attract a certain type of driver and these are the type of people Nissan want to start seeing in their cars. The car has been hugely successful in Europe, selling over 180 000 units. There cannot be that many blind people up North?!

Secondly it effectively combines a sporty drive with a slight SUV persona. To quote from Nissan themselves, “It takes the best elements of an SUV and passenger sport cars and combines them,” says Pierre Loing, Vice President, Product Planning and Zero Emission’s business unit, Nissan International SA (Rolle, Switzerland). “It’s roomy yet compact, robust yet dynamic and practical yet playful. These are qualities that seem to contradict each other, yet come together in Juke to create something that’s genuinely unique.” I must agree on most of those except the “roomy” bit. It’s no Chrysler Voyager, let’s not push it, but it does have adequate space for 4 adults / 2adult +2kids combo. The driving position mirrors one of a sports car, with steering wheel and gearshift in close proximity to the driver, offering you a very engaged driving experience. You tend to sit “in” and not “on” the car, further cementing the sporty nature of the vehicle.

Thirdly, the fact that there’s something special about it. They’ve gone to great lengths inside and out to set this car apart from anything in its class. The driving position is unique, the centre tunnel modeled on a motorbike fuel tank, the interactive dash with different modes and readouts, which are mostly gimmicky but still unique.

All this said, they can do all they want on the looks, sporty persona and gimmicks, but if the actual car “bits” don’t deliver, we won’t be seeing very many of them on the road.

Starting with the first point of delivery, the engine. Nissan will initially be bringing the Juke out in 2 power units, the 1.6litre 4cylinder (86kW, 154NM, 6.0l/100km) naturally aspirated engine, and a brand new 1.6litre Turbocharged DIG-T powerplant delivering 140kw and 250NM of torque. I was rather shocked when I heard this, seeing as that’s near hot hatch territory. Nissan confirmed that they would be bringing a diesel, automatic and 4wheel drive versions next year but no dates were confirmed. Thankfully we tested the 1.6litre turbo powerplant and I was very impressed by the free revving little motor. Pushing out 140kW brings quite a bit of power to the front wheels and there’s very little shortage of power on pull off (a little more turbo lag than expected) but once you’re on the move this little unit revs freely and loves to be driven. Bobbing and weaving in between traffic highlights the dynamic nature of the suspension which bring a really nice balance between comfort and sport. You do get a little sense that the steering lightens up and the body roll is more evident at high speeds but it’s expected.

The short wheel base nature of the Juke means it really is quite a bit of fun to dart around in. It’s quite a bit of fun when pushing on. Fun in a crossover? Wash your mouth out young man! Suspension in the two wheel drive models are MacPherson struts in the front and Torsion beam in the rear. It works well and generally can’t fault it. Steering can get a bit light at speed (Which is odd) but not noticeably so. Can’t fault the braking on the Juke, as it’s fitted with disc brakes all round assisted by ABS and EBD .

Juke Interior

As said earlier, the interior with its quirky ICON dash sets another benchmark. It’s a massive gimmick and will no doubt last as far as many friends you have to show, but none-the-less it’s unique. The ICON set up leaves you the option to select between having your Climate control being displayed (fan speed, direction, temperature etc) or the driving mode (Sport, Normal or Eco) which then makes changes to throttle and steering response. Eco is well, very much for stop start traffic, with Normal being…well…normal and Sport once you’re ready to scare the blind. Sport also brings with it different little readouts, such as torque usage, g-force meter and some other little interesting bits. Not interesting enough for me to remember so clearly not THAT interesting. It’ll keep you busy for a little while, but the most important bit here being the different drive modes, which I see in more and more vehicles coming to market. I expect “Road Rage” or “Cruise me home” mode in the near future.

ICON System - note the changes

For South Africa, the Nissan Juke will be available in four specification grades. The naturally-aspirated 1.6-litre engine powers an entry-level Acenta and mid-range Acenta+ models, while the punchy 1.6-litre DIG-T power plant is only available in range-topping Tekna grades, one featuring sporty fabric upholstery and another fully leather-upholstered interior furnishings.

Starting at R198 000 for the 2WD 1.6 Acenta, right up to R258 000 for the 1.6 Turbo Tekna with leather, there’s quite a bit of value here considering nearly no options and everything as standard (Bluetooth, electric everything and a host of safety features)

Side Profile

There’s really nothing like it on the road, I’d suspect the Mini CountryMan / VW CrossPolo / Renault Sandero Stepway thing would be what you’d also look at, but then I don’t really think buyers shop like that anyway, this car is too unique to be “boxed in”. Urg … I can’t believe I just said that. It’s original and unique, just like every other car 😉

Don’t be put off by the quirky looks, go drive it, give it a try and you’ll immediately be enamored by the way it drives. I was pleasantly surprised, and then frightened again when I got out…and you will be too.

Suzuki Kizashi 2.4 Manual – 2011

Chrome Paint. Optional

Kizashi, not quite the sound you make when sneezing, but rather the Japanese word for “Something great is coming”, “sign” or “omen”. Well they got it spot on. I’d wrap the bloody Japs over their slightly small knuckles for only bringing us the Kizashi 2 years after it launched in the US and then after India? Honestly we have tarred roads and less slumdog millionaires, I expected it here before India.

The Kizashi is an important car for Suzuki. It has featured in various incarnations in motor shows for years now, the production model being a little further from the concepts than, say, for example, the Range Rover Evoque, but still, a very good looking car in my eyes. It’s Suzuki’s first mid-sized sedan after some rather successful mini 4×4’s and recently popular hatchbacks. Damn what a superb effort is has been. This could have gone so horribly south, but I cannot give this car enough kudos.

Let’s quickly put it into perspective. The Kizashi retails for R295 000 and goes up against the likes of the VW Jetta, Mazda 6, Toyota Corolla & Opel Astra. In terms of the looks department, the Kizashi is by far the best looking of the bunch. A rather fluid design language, with some exceptional looking 158 spoke darkened rims and very unique exhaust pipes makes the Kizashi stand out like Tina Turner at a Martha Stewart cooking convention.

Exhausts are an exciting affair

Whatever you’re thinking about Suzuki right now, banish that thought from your mind because it is more than likely to be something negative or cheap. The Kizashi looks quality, and you can see they’ve spent time on perceived quality inside and out. The door shuts with a solid thud, and the interior wouldn’t have a panel gap if you tried to find one. The interior is a comfortable, easy place to be. Leather memory electric driver’s seat and steering wheel, with soft touch plastics, not-fake looking brushed aluminium bits, steering wheel controls, auto lights on, ipod & usb prep, Bluetooth, a decent sound system and dual zone climate control. Everything is where you’d expect it to be and has a quality feel. The one thing I love about cars designed for the American market in mind, is the fact that their air conditioners cool like an arctic wind off the bow of a crab trawler. There’s very little to fault about the interior, everything feels, looks and is up to standard for the price. There’s enough space for 4 adults, however I’d probably say the boot is definitely not up to Jetta / Corolla sizing, but it does leave the rear looking more “sexy” and less picnic table.

Pretty ain't it?

It looks good on the outside, feels good on the inside but how does it drive? Well it doesn’t disappoint at all. The Kizashi is only on sale in 1 model variant in SA, and you get the choice of manual or CVT automatic whinebox (don’t buy rather die). This means you get it, very simply, in the 2.4litre 4cylinder pushing out 131kW and 230NM of torque. Probably the only thing I can fault here is that it feels more like half the amount of kW and torque. The engine isn’t exactly “swift”. There’s very little torque and requires that you really work through the gears to get going fast. I’d be worried to see what would happen if you put a whole family in the thing and tried to drag their asses up a long hill. Thankfully I encountered none of those so it wasn’t too bad, but the car is such a great package overall I would really have liked a little more punch in the engine department. The yanks have apparently raced one down the salt pans somewhere in the middle of nowhere and Hicksville to over 350km/h (replaced the engine with a turbine no doubt but still). No less it wasn’t this engine but still, the car can handle it!

What - the steering wheel moved?

This said, I’ve yet to see a Jetta / Corolla driver dice a chaiiirna off a traffic light so this isn’t really the be all and end all. What is however, as Trevor van der Ven will tell you, is fuel consumption. Overall I achieved just under 10l/100km, which is pretty much on manufacturer claims. It’s not amazing, but you’ll easily get over 550km out on the 63 litre tank.

Another surprise, and this time for the positive, was the handling. I expected her to be about as exciting as oats in the morning, but again I was proven wrong. The front set-up is MacPherson struts with a multi-link set-up in the rear, which already says huge amounts for the handling. The chassis is far more alive than the Corolla, and easily on par, if not better than the best from the German rivals  (no doubt thanks to the 18inch wheels). Suzuki has apparently paid particular attention to lowering the centre of gravity on certain parts, and it shows in the handling department, with noticeably little body roll. Most importantly however, and no doubt way more important to the buyer of this vehicle, is the ride quality, which is su-perb! The car soaks up bumps and imperfections in the road in a way most luxury saloons do. To get to this level of balance in your chassis set up is no small feat, and is one of the reasons you have to drive it to experience this.

Airbags. Blew the roof off.

Steering is perfectly weighted, and braking also cannot be faulted due to the ABS and EBD assistance. The ABS kicks in pretty quickly but rather safe than sorry I guess. Speaking of safety, there’s a host of airbags should anything go wrong.

Overall, it’s an exceptional vehicle, and will no doubt do wonders for the Suzuki brand in SA, not only in terms of volumes of vehicles, but also brand perception.

I will single-handedly drag prospective buyers in this price category to the Suzuki dealership with my bare hands so they try it out. It’ll be a busy Saturday morning for me but I’ll do it.

The Kizashi comes standard with a 6year/90 000km Service plan and a 3year/100 000km warranty and roadside assistance.

*Side Eyes* What’s this Twitter Speak?

If you’re on twitter you have no doubt seen some pretty strange and colourful “language” being used by some tweeps. Staying on the cusp of what’s cool and what could land you in SMH territory can put strain on the brain, so I’ve tried to demystify and give some clarity on what each one of them means, starting with the aforementioned.

SMH – Shakes My Head

  • – Literally shaking of the head from side to side in disbelief or disagreement
  • – E.g. @KeenyKeenz – I’ve been in traffic on the M1 South for an hour only to realize there’s a roadblock on the highway. SMH

LOL – Laugh out Loud

  • – One literally laughs out loud (this hardly actually happens and you can no doubt guess that the user has hardly even smirked)
  • – Another newer iteration of the term being “Lolmentations” – commonly confused with the book of Lamentations from the Bible, which it has no reference to whatsoever.
  • – E.g.“ Just saw a NonhleThema trip and fall flat on her face… LOL!”

ROFL – Rolling On the Floor Laughing

  • – Something so funny you literally wrap your hands around your torso and roll around on the floor, legs pulled up as if in the fetal position, as you laugh…rolling. (You would probably have last seen this behaviour from children)
  • – Iterations of ROFL are LMAO (Laugh My Ass Off) and LMFAO (Laughing My F*cking Ass Off) – Both which are not literal laughing till the muscle and fat on the rear of the waist fall off.
  • – E.g. “Card at walmart said “do you know why old men wear their pants so high?” *opens the card* “You will soon” #ROFL”


  • – A laughing sound made with your tongue on the roof of your mouth blowing air through your mouth, a uniquely South African expression (think Muttley from Wacky Races)
  • – E.g. “RT @JB_XM_Swana: I feel so lost! Twitter on the web! Tltlt! So desperate of me! Sies!”

*dies* / *death*

  • – The expression generally implies that one finds something so funny / so amusing it kills you. A familiar expression is “I nearly died laughing”. Cutting out all the unecessaries on Twitter it is just used as per below
  • – E.g. “*dies* RT @LilTuck317: Damn yo breathe stink bro…my Baby’s breathe smells better than that and she drink similac all day!”


  • – A text iteration of an actual facial expression. One eye is opened larger than the other. One can imaging a raised eyebrow on one eye and the other eye slightly clinched in a look of skepticism or doubt. This can be performed with either the capital O or the zero “0”. Also understood as “whaaaaaat?!”
  • – E.g. “@pretti_poca My ex unfollowed me 0_o”


  • – A digital interpretation of ducking and or hiding. In this incarnation the user usually makes use of this term when he / she has said something that will elicit a negative response from the user he / she has directed it at. More commonly understood in real life when one throws an object (e.g snowball) at another person and then ducks so as not to be seen or hit
  • – E.g. “Blackberry is lame *ducks* RT @thatyoungblood if one more person tells me blackberry is lame I’m going to kill”

Kwa Kwa Kwa / Kwaaaaa

  • – Commonly confused with a mating call from a bird, but couldn’t be further from the truth. Kwaaa / Kwa kwa kwa is closely related to “LOL” and “ROFL” but more culturally relevant. Kwa Kwa Kwa or Kwaaaa has recently come under fire because it is not an accepted way for white race groups to express laughing. (where LOL / ROFL is more relevant for white minority groups )
  • – E.g. “Kwaaaaa RT @leratomolele: Hahahaha….RT @Sentletse: That awkward moment when Blackberry users want to download iOS 5.”

*side eyes*

  • – With eyes slightly shut one glances from one side to another. This can be commonly understood as a stare with some form of intent, sometimes negative or otherwise with a thought. E.g. giving the hot girl at gym side eyes as she walks past
  • – A recent “social media influencer” has given insight “While it denotes much the same thing as (-_-) the less subtle *side eye* is a direct interpretation of a judgmental stare.”
  • – E.g. “*side eye* RT @jtbeale: @KeenyKeenz so much of insight *pats on head* “


  • – A beautiful use of the keyboard if I may say so myself. The expression of eyes like slits and a flat mouth is one of pessimism, annoyance or dissatisfaction to a certain topic.
  • – E.g. “and the brakes are fixed on da truck…it only cost 300 -__- and dats wit a discount smh” / I just want my voice back -__- being sick stinks!”

*claps once*

  • – One of the newest in the Twitterverse is the action of actually clapping once. One can imagine laughing so hard you unknowingly clap once. This can commonly be assimilated to a “knee slapper”.
  • – RT @Theri_dahlin: Rotflmao! but Estie’s one of the funniest haters EVER! #comedineSA she hates EVERYTHING. Whooo shem *claps once*

*hands on head*

  • – Struggling to visualize? The kid from Home Alone used to do this all the time. An expression of complete and utter surprise to the point of near shock. Taking each hand and placing them on either side of ones head, with your mouth hanging open.
  • – Is often also represented by |0_0|
  • – E.g. “Yoh! *Hands on head* RT @SassyChick I’m done with seeing you @VeliM69, you cheated, you’re a scrub”


  • – Lowering ones face into ones hand, usually partially concealing part of the face.
  • – The gesture is a physical interpretation of the emotion of embarrassment, shame or woe on behalf of another party, or to ones self
  • – E.g. “@gniddo Waiting for a course to start that apparently doesnt exist… #facepalm”

I do hope this recent enlightenment on Twitter “speak” has widened your horizons (vocabulary) and will stand you in good stead when you next engage on Twitter.

Toyota Prius 2011

Hybrids. Green.

Many many years ago the Diesel engine spent quite a bit of time working its way into every-day motoring. Diesel engines had a terrible perception of being oil burning smoke puffing slow engines. NO wait, they were old burning smoke puffing slow engines.

Today, as a carmaker, if you don’t have a small diesel engine in the European market, your car will fail. Diesel vehicles back then had massive “DIESEL” lettering emblazoned on the cars, making sure everyone knew you were in fact driving a diesel car. (Not like the smoke pouring out the rear wasn’t dead giveaway) The engine has come a long way, and now finds its way into most manufacturers as torquey, efficient and sometimes even performance oriented models.

What has changed radically is that diesel engines are now discreetly integrated into vehicles. Emissions are more controlled so there’s no puff of smoke. The diesel nomenclature has now even changed to sexy itself up – with fun badges like TDI and D4-D. No more massive “DIESEL” lettering or cars that are bogged down and seem to have the diesel disability.

The hybrid suffers nearly the same story, just on different scale. The Hybrid has been positioned as the “Green” car to drive, and the Toyota Prius has been marching front and centre for that cause for quite some time. A genius move by Toyota, being first to market has done more for the brand image for innovation than any other car. The problem now however, is that nearly 10 years on, the need for a hybrid to look like a hybrid isn’t really as “cool” as it once was. Being seen in a Prius stood for so much in California and in the rest of the world, and to some degree still does. However if Hybrid engines are really going to succeed they don’t need to be in a quirky sleek unique package, but rather in the cars people already like and buy.

Lexus has been doing this for quite some time to huge success. Lexus Hybrid models outsell any other vehicle in class in the USA, and to be quite frank, this is the future of the Hybrid. It no longer needs its own car, but rather needs to find a home being sexy in the vehicle line up manufacturers already have. Sadly this is the conclusion I have about the Prius. It’s an amazing vehicle, and has come along leaps and bounds, but I think the overall hybrid package is going to see a longer life if mated to a current model (exactly that is happening soon).

House. Optional

The model I had on test was the 1.8 ECVT Advanced. The Prius comes in 2 specification levels, Advanced being the entry level at R332 700 and the Exclusive which ads some niceties at R378 100. The Advanced has pretty much everything you’d expect at the price so you’re not doing without any niceties…except the seats, which are covered in what I think is suede which just didn’t “sit” right with me. This is of course where the Prius pulls the rabbit out of the hat as most of the interior is made from recycled materials. The interior is an easy place to get comfortable, but is distinctively Hybrid. The facia runs a long slope up to the window with the electronic gauges that sit prominently in the middle. These are easy to read and give quite a bit of information (Drivetrain, different consumption read-outs and 3D holographic style indicators when you push on the steering wheel controls to tell you what button you’ve pressed)

The interior gives off the familiar Toyota quality with some international flair to it. Nothing is exactly “plasticy” because that shit isn’t easy to recycle, so there’s obviously very little of it on the interior. Great!

There is loads of room for passengers in the rear with the boot being a bit more restrictive as it’s a flat load space due to the batteries living in the rear. The only big gripe is the view out the rear with the split rear window, which is rather limited, and the “gear” lever with tacky blue Star-Trek plastic on it, even stood out in the Prius interior.

HSD Dash indicator

So the interior’s distinctively different, and takes some getting used to, but the ergonomics are simple and nothing takes too much brain power to operate. Speaking of power I was pleasantly surprised at the engine. This 3rd generation Prius now features the most powerful engine yet. Toyota increased the engine to improve acceleration and out-of-traffic cruisability as well as improvements to the Hybrid-Synergy-Drive set up. The system switches seamlessly between petrol engine and battery, and offers 3 driving modes that change at the push of a button. ECO-Mode for the more economical driving, subduing inputs to the pedal and is the best of all worlds mix. There’s also POWER mode which gives more shove but obviously sacrifices economy and EV mode which dials out the petrol engine totally. (can only be used at certain speeds, loads and conditions).

Sipping on fuel

I was genuinely surprised at how much shove becomes available when selecting Power mode! It’s no slow poke at all when in Power mode, but this is going to eat on your economy so is kind of counter productive.

The steering and braking take some getting used to. The steering being a little lighter and over-assisted and the braking, as always with a Hybrid, due to the brake regenerative technology, has a lot of grab in a short amount of travel, but these are things you quickly get used to.

Let’s talk efficiencies, which is really what the Prius is about. I returned 5.3l/100km over the 7day test period with my lowest being 3.2l/100km and highest over 10l/100km. That’s genuinely super impressive and I didn’t drive with a feather-foot touch either. I can honestly say that it’s the first time I haven’t actively tried really hard to get a low fuel consumption, but rather found driving in a relaxed manner brought about excellent fuel consumption figures.

Wave Bye Bye

Unfortunately this all said, I think the “Prius” as a car is seeing its final days. It did for Hybrid technology and electrical car innovation what the Chrysler Voyager did for family transport, but its market will only shrink with cars such as the Auris HSD and Lexus CT200h. To me the “coolness” of Hybrids will be in integrating them into existing shapes and model lines rather than creating “Hybrid” models unto themselves. Diesel became cool by fitting them into existing models as the engine developed and progressed.

Would I buy one? Probably not, but it doesn’t compliment my driving style or what I want out of a car. If relaxed driving and fuel economy is on your check-list for car buying, I can recommend the Prius. I don’t think there’s a car on the market, conventional competitors included, that compares on fuel consumption, emissions and interior size.

Johannesburg International Motorshow ’11 highlights

It’s been quite a while since the last Johannesburg Motor Show, and it’s been well worth the wait! You’d expect the show to improve year on year but the jump in the quality of the show from the last is unbelievable. It truly felt like the “International” motor show the JIMS name holds. If you didn’t get to go, here are some of my highlights from the show


Audi Sex

The highlight for me from the guys in Ingolstadt was the Audi E-Tron Concept. The RS3 and A8 Long wheel base were also there but needless to say the long wheel base incarnation of the A8 didn’t exactly make the base of my penis fizz.

Take me to your leader

What did, was the Audi E-tron, which made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2009, and attempts to take a stab at a high performance battery powered car. It’s claimed the e-tron’s electric motors produce 10 times the lb/ft torque of an Audi R8 4.2. Say what? Audi claims the car will reach 100km/h in 5.9 seconds and up to a 260km/h top speed. Doubtful that’ll all happen at once, and it’s still a concept, but my God it’s beautiful! This truly shows the future of electric vehicles, no longer do they have to shout “I’m driving a hybrid!” but rather, “Hey R8 driver! My car is better looking than yours and drops more panties than Daniel Carter. I do hope they change very little when this car makes it into production. Someone who has done very well when it comes to changing very little on a concept car is the guys from Range Rover.



Another real show stopper, not because it’s something nobody knows about (if you don’t you’ve been living under a rock) but rather because for many people, including myself, it’s the first time seen in the metal. The Range Rover Evoque (pronounced E-Vogue…like an electric Vogue magazine) The Evogue goes on sale in a few months and 700 South African early adopters have said “I Do” to the Evoque without

RR Evoque Interior. Red. Hot.

seeing it in the flesh or let alone even taking it for a test drive. I can’t remember the last time that’s happened with a car in SA, especially one for Land Rover.  The Evoque looks amazing in the flesh, it’s a beauty, and a lot smaller than I initially thought it would be. Range Rover featured 5 models in different specifications to give a sense of how these cars can be specced out and they look haaawwwt! Underpinned by a Freelander drivetrain the Evoque is still very capable off-road (tyre selection dependant) but no doubt it’ll spend its time in the hands of the hottest car park mommies and BEE boys.


Ford Ranger Grille. Bling

Ranger Rear is Massive

Something that will however no doubt make its way onto the dirt roads of South Africa is the new Ranger. You might be frowning wondering why I’ve chosen to feature the Ranger, but this car is Ford’s first global “bakkie”. Ford is investing huge money into their model lines to develop vehicles for their “global” market, instead of having incarnations of model lines in every country (saving costs and so on). The Ranger however was quite a hit at the show, with many two-tone-bellies plowing over from Toyota and Nissan to have a look at this new “bakkie”. The most important changes are to the exterior, which now actually looks pretty damn cool, as well as interior, which, adds many

Ford Ranger Interior. Farmers frown at curved lines

creature comforts and brings it in line with its competitors. Ford has seen the light and states, “ Just because it’s a truck doesn’t mean it has to drive like one”. Truth. The Ranger goes on sale in SA before the end of the year (Nov) in 2.2TDCi, 2.5 Petrol and 3.2Diesel, aimed squarely at the competitor diesel engines. You can guarantee that Toyota, VW and Isuzu are shaking in their space boots.








Not a whale, it's a Merc

Speaking of space boots, I must commend Mercedes Benz on what I thought was the best stand of the show. It was by far the most interactive and featured their entire model range, which I must say, is now looking very well aligned, and a lot better than back in 2005. This said the A-Class Concept was the star of the Mercedes Stand (Except of course for the Viano people mover, which Trevor van der Ven nearly wet his pants over) The A-Class concept is a mirror ball view into the design style Merc will bring us in years to come, and I’m not complaining.

A-Class Amaze

Most importantly will be this A-Class model (hopefully very close to the concept in styling) which needed a lot of work to do more to compete against the likes of the 1series and A3. The car is so vastly different from the current Elk-failure that I can’t even draw similarities. It’s quite brash and the grille very “in your face” but the lowered roof line and heavy creasing in the metal goes to show this A-Class is going to be a totally new car for a totally new market. Hashtag Excited.

3 Pointed Stars


Toyota FT-86. Smokin'

Another concept we’ve seen floating around the various motor shows for quite some time is something from, wait for it, Toyota! Yes sir, the Toyota FT-86! The FT-86 is a joint model (engine) development with Subaru but Toyota has stolen most of the lime-light with the FT-86 releasing first. This is the first car in quite a while that’s going to deliver on the demand for performance models for the Toyota market in SA, and of course the zooped up tuning shops worldwide. Toyota confirmed that the FT-86 will be coming to South Africa around June next year and we can expect a naturally aspirated four cylinder powering the rear-wheels, which is something we haven’t seen in SA for about a decade. What’s interesting is that Toyota knows their fans will be boosting and pimping the shit out of this vehicle so modifications and maximum strength parts are being used to ensure that the vehicles handles all the mods that will be thrown at it. Truly excited about the FT-86 from Toyota.


Overall a fantastic show! I’ve only just mentioned very few of the numerous new models and concepts released at JIMS but if you didn’t get to see the show you’ll no doubt see the full review in your local car magazines, newspapers and TV shows.


FJ Cruiser brute


Jaguar XF 2.2 Diesel

Jaguars. Detailed

Jaguar’s are old people’s cars. If I had 5cents for every time I’ve heard that line this last week I’d be close on R18 richer. This is something Jaguar wants to banish…and fast.

The long and short of how this 2.2litre oil-burner Jaguar came about is simple. Volumes for Tata, the now parent company of JaguarLandRover. Jaguar needs a model to compete in the sub R500K (And more importantly the small-diesel premium market in the UK). This is the cheapest Jag since the X-Type (vomit) left the scenes (and thankfully so). This 4cylinder 2.2litre (140kW and 450Nm torque) is a watercooled turbo and is the most fuel efficient Jaguar yet. Goodey.

How fuel efficient? Well, after a media briefing at Lanseria Airport, we hauled the Jaguar’s all the way to Limpopo to the beautiful Legends Golf Course, at speed, and returned 8.0l per 100km/h. For the type of “spirited” driving we were doing I’d call that a job very well done.

Look at that nose.

The changes in the XF include, most notably, the changes to the front lights, grille and then rear light cluster, bringing the range more in line with the XJ. There are also new alloy wheels, which actually do quite a bit to compliment the look of the car, a new 8-speed (yes EIGHT) ZF Automatic gearbox and revised 1200Watt Bower & Wilkins sound system. The basic just of it, is that there are 2 different spec levels for the XF 2.2. Luxury and Premium Luxury. Jaguar (like Lexus) takes the approach of speccing the car up with pretty much everything, and leaving only a few very individual options for the buyer to chose from. I like this, it’s what differentiates them from the Germans with their extensive options lists, and they can stay. They do this to help smooth out the wildly varying second hand market for Jaguars, so they can drive better long-term value for these vehicles.

Jaguar in the bush. Fancy that.

The XF, in its new refreshed look makes the rivals look like trolls. The sculpted lines and beautifully detailed lights give this car a totally unique and beautiful look. As always, looks are a wonderfully contentious topic, but you’d have to be a peasant not to know that this XF is a beauty.

The interior is a similarly exquisite place to be. The leather looks like it’s been hand stitched by someone’s grandfather in the North of England, and most materials and dials used are exactly what I would expect in a Jag. Only a few parts lifted from LR here and there, but those not really in the know wouldn’t notice. A main touch screen system dominates the dashboard and this is used to navigate most of the car’s electronics (audio, nav, aircon, etc) Thankfully traditional buttons for the main functions sit right below this which is a welcome addition.


Quality wood, aluminum and leather are used throughout then interior. I’m 26, and I can say that I’d happily live with that interior. I never, not once, felt like this should be my dad’s car. What I find wonderful about the interior is the unique touches of swiveling air vents, rising dial-like gearshift and stitched leather dash. The Audi, Merc and Beemer might have slightly newer interiors but you don’t get the sense of establishment, of exclusivity, and of luxury as you do in the Jag. Jag happily announces that the new revised XF features the very premium Bowers & Wilkins sound systems. I happily smile and say that I didn’t notice the 1200Watts.

Moving on to the showpiece, and the dollar signs for Tata…the 2.2litre diesel engine. When you look at the figures, you’d expect some serious ass-hauling, but don’t get exactly that, and Jaguar doesn’t pretend that this is going to haul around town. There’s quite a bit of turbo lag when pulling off, but once you’re on the boil the torque mated to the 8speed gearbox makes it a gem on the road. I can’t believe that this is the original 2.2litre diesel that’s been making its way around the LandRover-Jag stable. There isn’t that heavy diesel turbo shove when you’re pulling out to overtake, but the gearbox takes over there making sure it keeps the engine in the right rev range to pull the speed up quickly enough. Small diesel engines in bigger executive saloons never blow your hair back, but it does what it’s made to do so very well. It cruises comfortably, and returns great fuel economy (5.4l/100km claimed).

Gearshift Dial. Different.

The 2.2 also employs start-stop system (although we couldn’t get it to work in our car at all). Apparently Jag’s start-stop system shows a 40% improvement on start-stop timing than its direct competitors. I couldn’t comment because ours never worked.

I was quite surprised at how balanced the Jag was on the road. It’s not as dynamic as the 5-series, but it doesn’t pretend to be. It strikes a beautiful balance between a luxury cosseted ride and still has great dynamics. We pushed the car through the twisties and on some very badly tarred B-roads and I can say that it handled everything pretty damn well. Getting up to very illegal speeds I didn’t feel as confident as I do in the rear-wheel Germans, but this is so negligible I shouldn’t even be writing it. But did. Where I think this Jag hits the nail on the head is for those who want a comfortable ride, without being saucy. I would however say that if ride is your thing, I’d opt out of the larger low-profile rubber and get something a with a little more cushioning.

In case you were wondering, she stops on a dime, with no fade, and with supreme confidence.

Rear end.

If you’re in the market for an executive saloon that’s comfortable, has a supremely up-market interior and an efficient engine, then it’s going to be a tough call between the Germans and the Jag. The new 5 does everything supremely well, but the Jag is special and unique and that’s got to count for something. The Audi’s interior is a technological masterpiece but the front wheel drive can’t dynamically compete. The Mercedes is for the guy who just sold his 1997 Camry and I couldn’t think of anything more boring to drive, or look at.

They have a big job to educate that a Jaguar is now within the German marquee price bracket. This XF 2.2 starts at R452 000 for the Luxury specification, so don’t overlook the Jaguar, because it really isn’t just an old man’s car.

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Jeep Patriot 2.4 Limited CVT – 2011

I spent two weeks with ‘a’ Dodge Caliber in the US. It was, and still is, my worst car of all time. During the period, I had 3 of them from Hertz as one after the other had to go in due to some form of problem. The CVT gearbox, underpowered engine, vague steering and terrible interior was the summation of the parts. You might be thinking I’ve made a huge mistake on this review as it’s of the Jeep Patriot, but these two vehicles share a common family DNA…They were built on a shared GS platform engineered by the then, Daimler/Chrysler & Mitsubishi. Goes to show that too many cooks do spoil the broth. We’re off to a bad start.


Typical Jeep Grille.

I’ve always been very confused by the proliferation of models from Jeep. Lately they have started consolidating this offering, but the shared Dodge / Jeep platforms of previous years made no sense. Way too many offerings, with too many of them that don’t stand out in any one way, nor make a groundbreaking niche of their own.


The Patriot has recently been “updated”, giving it a refreshed exterior look (new bumper and integrated foglamps) new 17inch mags and a much improved interior. The interior update brings it in line with the rest of the fleet and you can feel the upgrade in quality materials. The interior is much the same as the Wrangler, mostly plastic, with SOME very plasticky bits, but overall, the interior is of a much higher quality than before. The gearshift sits rather awkwardly (A-la Calibre) on the dash, but is easily within reach. (even though you don’t need it much as the model on test was a … vomit … CVT)

The interior sees reasonable spec, with heated seats, on-board computer (a fairly confusing arrangement in the instrument binnacle), Automatic climate control that blows so cold it could no doubt solve global warming if the doors are left open, and a Radio/CD/Aux sound system (the option of a Uprated Navigation system is there). Sadly the sound is not as epic as the system in the Wrangler, which made me sad.

Interior - Improved

Get into the Patriot and you literally sit IN, and not ON the vehicle, which you can clearly see when getting into the vehicle. Passengers sit rather low with the small windscreen and extremely limited exterior and B pillar rear views giving limited visibility out of the car. Front seats are fairly comfortable (With six-way adjustment), but space in the rear and boot leaves much to be desired.  As said before, the interior is quite a step up from previous model, with loads of space to store bits away from prying eyes.


Taking a view from the outside, and it looks typically old-school Jeep. Squared look with a prominent Jeep grille, the updated Patriot does with some plastic bits on the doors and moves the fog-lamps in a bit on the nose of the vehicle. I actually like the original classic Jeep looks, but as always, exterior is a very personal opinion.


What I can give some opinion on is the engine and drivetrain. The Patriot is the moffie in the Jeep off-roader family, even though it employs the “Freedom Drive I” (Not making that up) which is an active AWD system. Jeep does state it’s a light-off roader, so they’re not making any claims that this is a direct descendant of the Wrangler family, and I respect that. The system really is more for the northern hemisphere, with Freedom Drive giving confidence in the snow and occasional mud / forest road it might encounter. The system proportions torque to the axle that needs it most through an Electromagnetic Controlled Coupling (ECC). I didn’t get to test the system out, but I’m guessing around 95% of buyers won’t neither.


On tar the vehicle handles well, the fairly stiff suspension set up allowing limited lean into corners, however that could also be attributed to the low centre of gravity and ride height. The steering is typical Jeep, with a little bit of play in the centre, but overall it feels detached from the front wheels. The retuned suspension (Four-wheel independent MacPherson strut front and multilink independent rear) does show notable improvements, but that’s much like saying your grandmother looks a little better in her purple knit than the blue one.


Speaking of grandmothers, the 2.4litre dinosaur being used in the Patriot is a Jeep favourite. I’ve got to be honest and say that this engine needs a serious refresh, or just throw it out and start again. Hell, throw them all into a volcano and melt them down. With 125kW and 220Nm of torque, the Patriot was never going to haul ass down the blacktop, but this engine just doesn’t cut it. On its own it’s underpowered for litre capacity, but it was then cursed by being mated to a CVT gearbox.

CVT gearboxes are to cars, like being neutered is to a dog. I genuinely want to meet the man that engineered the CVT gearbox. It makes no sense in any car other than a Hybrid, so I hope he’s perished in a CVT related incident. In layman’s terms, the CVT gearbox runs a chain on a cone, instead of a chain on individual gears. This means when you mesh your foot against the floor the revs climb up to 6000RPM (or as I found, far past the redline into the black) as the chain runs up the cone, and stays there as the ear piercing whine from the 2.4litre engine increases the speed. There are no ‘thunky’ gear changes, which is also something any driver would have to become accustomed to. I will come and hold a gun against every Patriot buyer’s head, to make sure he/she buys the manual version. I’ll be saving them a lifetime of pain, and will no doubt be added to their Christmas card list.


Surprisingly Jeep is quite a bit smaller than Freelander

Sadly, the Patriot just doesn’t make much sense. It doesn’t do any one particular thing very well, and the competition has it trumped.

For R309 990 for the 2.4 Limited CVT, the Kia Sportage, Hyundai ix35, Subaru Forester or even Nissan Xtrail shows more value and better on road dynamics, which is no doubt where this vehicle will spend most of its time. Yes the Jeep is the only car in this price (bar the Subaru) that features full time 4wheel drive, which may count for something if you can justify it, but considering the low ride height I doubt you can.


My advice – if you’re hellbent on a Jeep at this price, go for the brand-new Compass. If you’re not loyal to any Patriotism, or Americanism, then have a good long look at the competition above.


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Lexus RX450h

Effects not included.

Until not so long ago the RX450h was the worlds first and only hybrid SUV. As you may or may not know, Lexus does very well in the United States, and for quite some time, it outsold its competitors Mercedes and BMW. The SUV is obviously very popular with the yanks, and so putting two and two together, the Lexus RX is the best selling luxury SUV over there, and I can see why.

The RX is in its 3rd generation and the model on test was the 450h LXE (R805 100). Now before you stop reading and think that’s a horrendous amount of money for a car, let me tell you that it’s worth every single cent and more.

There’s two main things that sets the RX apart from its competitors.

  1. The amount of standard specifications
  2. No doubt, the hybrid drive train

Glowing doorsills. ooooh.

I’ll get into more detail on those later, so let’s start with the exterior styling. Styling is always really a personal matter, however the move to less clunky SUV and more “raised car” look helps this Lexus look a lot smaller than it actually is. The model I had came in a very attract pearlescent white finish, and seems to be quite a popular colour for this model. The hybrid model is distinguished from the regular models by the blue tint Lexus badge, rear lighting and hybrid nameplates under the doors, but that’s about it. No in your face I’m driving a hybrid stuff. You’d never know, until of course it sneaks up on you in the underground parking lot. Then you know.


Luxury. Done.

Moving inside, things are on another level. The only level of sophistication and utter opulence close to this would be the Porsche or Range Rover. Its direct competition cannot compare on fit, finish, quality materials and ergonomics of the Lexus. Standard equipment levels are incredibly high and the car is literally bursting with technology. The Lexus multimedia interface is one of the best systems on the market today. It’s intuitive because it works the same as the common “Mouse”. It also features HUD (heads up display), smart access that not only locks and unlocks but also switches on the exterior lighting when the driver and key gets close to the car. Heated and cooling seats, an excellent Mark Levinson sound system with 40gig HDD and voice activation, and the list goes on. It’s a fantastic place to be inside. One of the little things I really appreciated was that the cabin was 100% dedicated to RHD. So many international cars see the switch over to RHD but certain buttons are left out of reach and hard to come by because the car was designed with LHD(left hand drive) in mind. There’s no indication of this here, with every button in the “right” place. The seats are superbly comfortable, with quite a bit of rear head and legroom, and still considerable room in the rear.

The LXE model I drove also featured active bi-xenon headlamps, sunroof, 10way adjustable driver and passenger electric seats with memory function and an electrically powered tailgate.

Power Display. Distracting.

The hybrid RX features a 3.5litre V6 mated to two electric motors (On fore and other aft). It’s hard to quote exact figures but there is around 220kW and just over 670Nm of torque on offer. This is obviously a flat torque curve as the e-CVT gearbox brings the power to the front or all wheels depending on what is needed. Lexus has been perfecting their hybrid drive train for quite some time now and it is probably the best in the business. Added technology to help efficiency is an exhaust heat recovery system to reduce engine warm up periods. Provided the car is warmed up, the vehicle can run on full electric mode up to 45km/h. If you’re in eco-mode (There are 3 modes, ECO, EV and ‘ECO Off = Sport’) and you pull off from the traffic light I found myself trying not to get the engine to kick in however eventually you’ll have to plant the pedal and get moving as those behind you get impatient. When you do plant your foot there is plenty of power and torque to get this beast up to 100km/h in just over 7seconds.

As usual, with the hybrid drivertrain the only thing the driver really has to get used to is the flat torque and constant engine note when accelerating. Surprisingly the V6 can get quite throaty when pushing on, not something I expected! My combined consumption (40% highway 60% city traffic) saw just on 11l/100km which in my books is excellent for a SUV of this size and considering I didn’t doodle around. Claimed is just around 7l/100km, which I’ve heard is actually achievable.

Ride and handling is excellent considering the hybrid seat up. The 3rd generation model replaces the MacPherson strut rear suspension set up for Double Wishbones, greatly improving handling. The car feels planted when pushing on, yet supremely comfortable on every day speed, which is probably the more important of the two. Braking on a hybrid as always sees less pedal feel as always you can feel the brake regeneration working, but you’ll get used to this soon enough. This said, there’s no issue with the effectiveness of the brakes, and the RX sees a host of other safety features (VDIM – Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management) such as VSC (vehicle stability) ABS, Hill assist, TRAC (Traction control) and front active head rests as well as 10 airbags.

Heads up Display. Brag factor.

There was not a person that didn’t get into the car that was not immediately impressed. There is a certain heir of quality within and out that puts it above the X5/6, ML and Q7. I would probably rather compare the Rx against the Cayenne (the only model here to also feature a hybrid) and the Range Rover Sport (or HSE Discovery), considering the exclusivity and trim levels.

Lexus prides themselves on offering near everything standard and the Rx isn’t left out of the party here. The website even supplies a vehicle comparison calculator which adds up what the extras would cost on the competitors (not named) vehicles, and really does show that even though the Rx is sold at a premium, it’s WELL worth the extra money in comparison.

Currently Porsche is the only other manufacturer to offer a hybrid luxury model to compare (however it does not offer the technical specification under the hood that the Lexus does). I would then have to compare it to diesel models that offer similar balance of efficiency and performance. When you go and look at that, the Lexus trumps on value hands down. It definitely doesn’t offer the driving or off-road dynamics of the X5 or Range Rover, but they don’t offer the incredible technology and let’s be frank, there aren’t very many of those models that ever see a dust road.

Overall it’s an incredible vehicle, however pricey, it offers more value than its competitors at the same price, has one of the most luxurious interiors I’ve ever been in, and an incredible hybrid drive train. If you’re shopping in this price range it’s definitely worth a look.

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