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Mercedes A Class

THE A

With a slightly new look the A Class has stepped their game up. Mercedes re-designed the rear tail lights and brought in a new fresher front for this hot hatch. Technology has definitely upgraded the already stylish A Class. Sitting in the new A Class you will see the biggest changes made by Mercedes. A large screen hosts everything you need from the car, from your speed to change the air perfume by Mercedes. The new dash adds to the luxury and brings a ‘’young’’ dynamic to the car. The Mercedes A Class ambient lighting has 64 LED lighting options but what I like you can set it on random and sit back and watch the display. The MBUX system also has a revitalizing traffic massage. The systems talks you though some basic body movement while seated to get the blood flowing. This system reduces fatigue and stimulates your brain when you are on the long road or sitting in traffic. It’s not just the body movements that helps, the lighting and air perfume all adds to this experience.  The base model costs R500 000 this is in the reach for a first time buyer. But more importantly the A Class is a serious competitor for the Audi A1 and BMW 1 series.

I tested the A200 which is a 1.3 liter turbocharged which produces 120 kW and 250Nm. This model was a 7 speed automatic and fuel consumption was surprisingly good 6.6L per 100/km. the ride was different, not as bumpy as the last model. Some chassis improvements, with the ride height lower. Speed wise the A Class is not that sporty, looks like it, feels like it but doesn’t sound like it. Yes it is a 1.3L and Mercedes should have left out the sports mode option the car sounds terrible. Comfort and Eco mode is perfect for this car. To be honest if I need the speed I would go for the AMG 45 but I love what they have done with this little 1.3 and yes I would prefer this over the AMG 45. 0 – 100kph is around 8.2 seconds.

 

Even though this is the entry level it is a fantastic start! This is true Mercedes quality and this is what I love about this manufacture. More models will be available later this year like the AMG 45 and AMG 35.

 

Pricing:

Mercedes-Benz A200   R499 000

Mercedes-Benz A250   R593 300

 

Ford Eco Sport

The compact mini SUV market has grown and becoming more popular with young families.  The choice is vast from Renault Duster, Toyota CH-R Mazda CX-3 and the Ford EcoSport. When purchasing a mini SUV each customer wants the best value for money. Unfortunately we can never get everything we want in one vehicle but after checking out specs and prices of vehicles in this segment I found the Ford EcoSport on the top of the list.

We tested the Ford EcoSport Titanium which is a 3-cylinder 1.0 liter, turbo petrol which pushes out 92kW and 170Nm of torque. This unit is powered perfectly and has enough power to drive up hills or to overtake with ease. Driving around the city with traffic we were achieving a solid 7.5 liters per 100km. There is an option for a 1.5 liter which is the Ambiente at R264 500 and is the base model.

The car is equipped Sync three interface, Apple Car Play and now can host Android devices. The Titanium model has a slightly larger touch screen and navigation is standard. We put the Apple Car Play to the test and selected WAZE however a few issue were experienced. The ports to connect you phine is below your temperature settings and there is not enough space to put your phone. The iPhone has to be unlocked in order for an application to run and in turn this makes for phone really hot. When using WAZE the map lags a lot and we missed a few turns due to this. I would rather use the navigation which is offered with the EcoSport which I found better! The navigation shows you the house number as well which comes in handy as these days homes do not have numbers or have been re-numbered.

The vehicle has ISOfix and if an adult is traveling at the back there is enough room but if you are tall I would definitely suggest you sit in front. There are many storage compartments which makes it ideal for young families. The boot space is big enough for two large suitcases and three smaller/medium size suitcases. I did struggle at shopping malls with opening the boot. Sometimes with having a car behind you the boot can’t open enough to get bags/groceries into the boot, try and remember not to reverse into a parking.

Driving around town or shopping trips I couldn’t fault the drive at all, with the little 1.0 liter engine the turbo was working well. The vehicle is comfortable with a good ride height for the mini SUV. The price is really good for what you will be getting and the only issue I had was Apple Car Play/WAZE but this is a small issue and I’m sure this can be fixed with an update down the line.

THE LINE UP:

EcoSport 1.5 TDCi Ambiente 5MT R 264 500
EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost Trend 6MT R 287 500
EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost Trend 6AT R 300 700
EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6MT R 327 800
EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6AT R 339 900

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Mercedes-Benz X350d

In South Africa purchasing a larger vehicle like your SUV, Crossovers and Bakkies is the norm and people are not purchasing a bakkie to be a work horse. The market is flooded with these cars. And choosing the vehicle that fit you perfectly can be a mission, as I am still on the fence with the new Mercedes bakkie. I was not overly impressed with the X250d as that was not the Mercedes quality I grew to love. Then Mercedes launched the X350d and yes it is slightly better than its baby brother but in today’s market it will not survive. Mercedes Benz have not met their sales targets with the X Class but there is still a huge opportunity to turn that around. Imagine being behind the wheel on a G Class which is all Benz built, now an X Class which is all Benz and an AMG line?

 

The X350d is a 3.0 liter V6 turbo diesel pushing out 190kW and 550Nm of power. The X350d is four wheel drive and Mercedes well known 7 speed automatic gearbox perfect for on and off-road. 0-100 km/h in 10 seconds, which is not bad for this bakkie. Our average fuel consumption was 10.3 liters per 100km. Mercedes claims the top speed is 205-kmh. On road capability is just has it says with the V6 badge. Overtaking is a breeze and being a Mercedes-Benz Bakkie you still will receive the cool look at the traffic lights. As the X Class is based from the Nissan Nivara, you can still spot the similarities. I’m still in-love with the rear lights, makes the bakkie look sleek.

The cabin is not what you would expect from Mercedes Benz, it is very basic and this is the upsetting part along with the price tag. There are two conflicting problems

It’s a Mercedes

It’s a bakkie

How do you marry the two? Mercedes is known class and quality. A bakkie is a small truck with low sides for loading goods (a work horse). Many manufactures got it right like Ford with the Wildtrack – luxury and a bakkie in one. Mercedes got the bakike part right however missed the boat again on the quality they offer in their other vehicles. The vehicle comes out in two versions: Progressive and Power.

Progressive is the lower range and offers 17-inch alloy wheels, multifunction steering wheel and fabric seats. The Power model has 18-inch alloys, multifunction steering wheel, LED headlights and leather seats. Both directives come with the V6 Mercedes engine.

 

The Price

Mercedes Benz X Class 350d Progressive: R914 711

Mercedes Benz X Class 350d Power: R986 711

 

The Verdict: the problem is that we expect a certain level of quality from a manufacture and when they step out of their comfort zone we expect there shouldn’t be a change in some areas. Let’s give Mercedes credit for the X Class and this is a point for the X Class to be better. In this segment I would not purchase the X Class and I would go for the Volkswagen 3.0 V6 TDI 4 Motion Amarok at R791 100. Did some research and there won’t be a V8 AMG X Class as this vehicle is not in the AMG plans, I hope this does change. If you wanted more power Brabus will upgrade the power to 211kW and 610 Nm.

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GO BIG OR GO HOME

Haval has brought a strong contender into the boxing ring. Introducing the Haval H9! Let’s kick it off with the price tag, as this sets this vehicle apart in the 7 seater SUV segment. Priced at R599 900 for an adventure SUV? Yes and you get much more for your buck with the H9.

The front of this massive SUV is a big chrome grille with the red HAVAL logo, LED daytime running headlights which focuses around a bend to impress safety. The curves are clean on this SUV, shark fin on the roof, metal side stets as this SUV is higher than you think and it is sitting on 18”

Inside its pure luxury with three rows of leather seats. All seats are fully electric which makes adjusting them breeze but the driver and passenger seats has lumber support, ventilation, heat control and massage system. The Mercedes E class is the only vehicle I can think of which has the same seat system and a base model for an E Class will set you back at R830k  whereas the BMW 7 series only the rear seats have the massage systems built in, and that is priced at R1.6 million.

The only thing Haval should have added is an air freshener system which both Mercedes and BMW has adding to its luxury experience.

Behind the wheel – you have a choice of six driving modes:

ECO/Auto mode: easy driving for urban roads

4L mode: for off road driving. This mode is for extreme off-road, more power and better grip

Sports more: longer gear changes to increase power but you have a choice to use the paddle shifts to change gears

Snow Mode: this mode is to maximize grip but the engine uses less power

Mud Mode: similar to snow mode but the power input is higher to get you out

Sand Mode: I found this mode is the same as mud mode setting. Power to the wheels felt the same

 

Changing to different modes changes the dash lighting which I thought was brilliant. It enhances the drive visually.

We also have a choice of 4 ambit lighting colours which are purple, red, orange and blue.

The Chinese has really capitalized on space. With the fonts seats fully reclined you can fit three adults at the rear comfortably. However the third row I think is best suited for children. With all three seating rows your boot space is not bad for grocery shopping. If you are travelling you would be able to fit two medium sized suit cases. Having the third row seats down you can actually fit a bed in there. You have tons of luggage space.

The H9 is a 2.0 liter turbo charged 4 cylinder petrol engine pushing out 180kW and 350 Nm. This is equipped with an eight speed automatic transmission.

VERDICT: The HAVAL H9 is really a beast on the road or off road. It’s huge and makes its presents known on the road. Inside its beautiful and classy and it is really difficult to fault this car. I mentioned the air freshener and if the engine sounded meatier like the Jeep SRT this would be the perfect SUV! Saying all that it is small things to let go of when you have a price tag of R600k. the H9 is only available in petrol and there are no news of GWM to produce a diesel model.

Price:  R599 900

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol

Gearbox: 8-speed dual-clutch transmission

Fuel economy: 13.0 L/100 km

Power/Torque: 180 kW/350 Nm

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