Land Rover SDV6 SE - The Gentle Giant

I have deemed the Land Rover Discovery 4 the “Gentle Giant”. The reason for this is because this beautifully crafted large metal beast has the driving pleasure and poise of a luxury German sedan. Most people would say this car looks too boxy, but if anything that’s what makes it different. I love the shape of this car.

Almost everything is oversized which is brilliant! It’s difficult to tell the difference between the latest models from the previous. The bluff front end, signature LED lamps, and upper/lower split tailgate all give it a stylish and imposing presence.The 19-inch multi-spoke alloys are standard on this mammoth of a car, as well as rear view camera and PDC.

The Land Rover is like going to McDonald’s for a super-sized meal: you know you won’t finish it but you want it anyway. 

When I got behind the wheel the first thing that stood out for me was the huge windows and high driving position making visibility second to none. I felt invincible, like a super hero towering over everyone. The Hulk comes to mind, but with others being green with envy. At the push of the start button the 3.0 litre V6 turbocharged diesel motor roars to life. I only use this word‘roars’ for effect but if I am honest, there is hardly any engine cabin noise. I shifted thesix-speed auto box into sports drive and planted my foot. Wow! What a feeling as the giant moves off. 

Handling all this power and weighty body is surprisingly easy. The Discovery 4 is composed and responsive through the corners even at high speed. Having air suspension to cushion every bump. I don’t even think you would notice the difference between our freeways or dirt roads. 
The only issue I had was that I spent a lot of time trying to find parking space to park the Gentle Giant. When I did find parking it was easier to reverse in using the rear view camera. That’s when I realized why 4x4 drivers park on pavements: because they can.
The attention to detail that Land Rover have spent inside can’t go without mention. The soft electric leather seats,chunky controls and other high-class materials make you forget that you’re in a rugged off-roader. The luxurious Disco4 is packed with storage and goodies.There's no denying the fact that you pay for the premium Discovery 4 badge, with a price tag starting at R681 200.00 for the SDV6 S.

This gentle giant has plenty to offer and is still one of the best premium 4x4’s for me. I just wish I had more time to have taken it off road to get the giant into the place it was meant to play. All in good time I hope. 

Have you been anywhere interesting lately?


Golf VI GTI "Edition 35" - Hip, Hip Hooray!

Weso – In the early 70's Volkswagen needed to replace what had become an influential vehicle in many a person’s life, the faithful Beetle, which still has a soft spot in my heart. The German company wanted to design a new car for their C segment market, so with the help of Gerhard R. Gumpert and some journalists they short-listed six cars that were most interesting to them at the 1969 Turin Motor Show. The designer that was chosen for having four out of the six most interesting designs was Giorgetto Giogiaro and through his creative mind the birth of the Volkswagen Golf Mk1 was pencilled. From ‘74 – ‘83 the Golf was a resounding global success story selling over 6 million units.

Original Golf MK1 GTI 1976
The original GTI daddy
Having owned two Mk1 Golf’s myself a 1984 1.6 and a 2006 1.6 velocity, I understand very well why they were popular for so many people, from first year varsity students to the wannabe street racers looking to add some mods and go to the drag races. In 1976 the popularity of the Golf inspired a sports version called GTI. The thinking behind the GTI was straightforward, take an economical car, give it some performance parts and presto, you have an affordable sports car. The 1.6 fuel injected GTI had 80kW and 140Nm of torque giving it a 0-100 in 9 seconds and a top speed of 180 Km/h. The models thereafter were very successful giving the GTI the apt name of “Hot hatch”. To celebrate this great heritage Volkswagen released the Golf 6 GTI Edition 35.

I was excited like a little boy in a candy shop knowing that I was about to share in this celebration. In true style and performance the GTI didn’t fail to deliver. However, I was hoping for more, especially since VW are celebrating. What I mean is, I would have liked something that stood out from the norm and shouted “this is 35 years of engineering excellence”. The small visual differences over the standard GTI include new body-colored side skirts, a slight front and rear bumper change and small ‘35’ badging finish off the exterior. Inside, the car comes with sports bucket seats with leather trim and "Edition 35" labels throughout. Under the hood they up the power a little by 18kW giving it an overall 173kW and 300Nm of torque. I must be honest as a GTI fan this did not inspire me as much as I hoped, especially after how excited I was to sample the party.
 The standard price for the GTI Edition 35 is R374,600 and the DSG R389,600. The tested vehicle we had came in at R405,000 with all the extras.  In my opinion I would rather get the standard GTI with DSG for less at R356,400.

In the end I still love the GTI: It’s fast, fun and fabulous. But don’t go to the party. Stick with the standard one instead.

AvonIt’s no secret that I like the GTI. If you’ve read my blog about the Golf VI GTI you’ll know why there are so many of these cars on our roads. Someone told me a very interesting bit of info about these which is: of all South African sales of the Golf VI; more than 50% of these are GTI models. This stat is uniquely South African.

The '35' is a fantastic car! The 173kW mill is properly fun and the balance of hot hatch performance with everyday driving comfort is so right. There is a definite difference in power between the standard GTI and this special edition so the work they’ve done to boost that turbo is not in vain. It’s fast for sure and even with the added grunt, the ride is well balanced and the torque steer is not intrusive.

On the performance front, the 0-100km/h sprint takes 6,6 seconds and it runs on to a top speed of 247km/h. What a love most about the upgrade in performance of this car is how it sounds. They've tuned the exhaust note to mimic something more raspy and throaty and it's a sweet sound to hear it swop. The Edition 35 also comes shod with Watkins Glen 18 inch wheels as well as all the extras Weso has mentioned.

I understand why Volkswagen has decided to celebrate this car especially in South Africa. We love our GTI’s so much and why wouldn’t we want a special edition Golf? What I like about this celebration is that it’s not a limited edition model. You can order them as stock is available which means VW are sticking to making ‘people’s cars’ and not trying the limited 1 out of 50 route that we see on other special edition cars.

Admittedly though, I get what Weso is saying. Yes the VW Golf VI GTI is an iconic all-round package worthy of all the love it gets and worthy of paying homage to its ancestors. But maybe VW could have done more with this car. It’s great for sure, but it’s just not special enough for me. It’s not a collector’s item for me and for that reason; I would also give it 2 cheers instead of 3.

AM -

VW Golf VI GTI Edition 35 pcitured next to Jayde Kruger's Formula Volkswagen championship winning racecar



Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet 1,4TSI Highline – Chicks dig it

What is it about open-top motoring that is good? I haven’t driven many convertibles in my time and so the answer to this question is still a work in progress. I’ve spent some time in the previous generation BMW Z4 and from my experience in that I would conclude that the aural inspirations of the engine while the roof is open as well as the wind-in-the-hair experience are some good reasons. I imagine more of the same in a Ferrari California for example but what about a Golf Cabriolet 1,4 TSI?

Well it doesn’t have the most provocative of engine notes from the 1,4 TSI so presumably it’s the vital Vitamin D experience that sells this car.

Roof opens and closes in 10 seconds
I spent a week with a 1,4 TSI Highline DSG Golf Cabriolet. It was in the heart of a Johannesburg winter and man-damn it was very cold! It’s all very Golf inside the cabin and having spent a lot of time with various VW products, the same build quality and finish continued its good impression on me. Thankfully, those heated seats were very well used.

It was the first time I drove a car with the award-winning 1,4 TSI engine that makes use of direct-injection PLUS turbo-charging for various reasons including fuel efficiency and less emissions. It goes pretty well too but I somehow didn’t manage to do well in the fuel-saving department. My average of 8,8l/100km was worrying but that probably just my driving.

On the face of it, the Golf Cabriolet is definitely a good-looking car. It’s neatly packaged, elegant and chic and it still looks like the Golf from yesteryear, with a modern and sleek slant. The use of LED running lights on the headlights as well as smoked rear tail lights add a welcome finish to this car.

With the roof closed, I did find the noise intrusion quite annoying especially on a windy day, but other than that, the ride was compliant and I didn’t sense anything out of the ordinary in terms of ride quality and dynamics. The roof folds away in 10 seconds(by our timing) and this can be done whilst on the move at a maximum of 30km/h. Let me warn you that if you do this, people will look at you. I don’t know why, but they will.

Which brings me to reveal why this car is so NOT for me. Or any other guy for that matter. Don’t shoot the generalist, but this is a car for bff’s and girlfriends. It’s a car in which the said bff’s can don shades, let down the hair and floss down the street. This is the car in which to be seen. A lady colleague from the office who drives an Audi A3 Cabriolet said this about the Golf. “It’s for professional ladies, not for guys”. I also remember ex-girlfriends who said that all Golf Cabriolets were their favourite car. Vanity has no restrictions.

So, In terms of buying advice, the TSI ranges from R286,200 for the base Comfortline model to R341,700 for the Highline DSG model. It’s a beautiful piece of work and oozes whatever the lady version of swag is. It has a great engine in terms of emissions, fuel consumption and performance and at this stage, it’s still quite exclusive. So if you’re a ‘professional’ looking for something to accentuate you, then this is it.

AM -