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Friday, 19 September 2014

Kia Rio 1.4 Tec Man - Long Term Review

As stated in my previous review on the Kia Rio, from the first time it was introduced to South Africa as the ugly duckling and to what it is now, it is something else. With sales figures climbing over the years this hatchback has become a force to be reckoned with, and the evidence is clearly visible on the road as these smart looking hatchbacks become more and more popular.

The best part of being so popular as a fairly new brand in South Africa is that the after sales service and support gets better, and although the general gossip is that parts are expensive, this isn't true. It's more or less in line with other manufacturers in its class.

In December 2012 I took ownership of a new Kia Rio 1.4 Tec Manual. It was the first time that I have stepped out of my comfort zone of the big manufacturers, like Toyota and VW. Before purchasing I researched like crazy, from tyre prices to clutch replacements, perfomance to economy and of course resale value.

It's been almost 2 years and 60000kms later and the Rio is still going strong without any issues. Initially I had concerns about the fuel consumption, which averaged around 8.4l/100kms, but as time went on after the engine settled in and I got used to the power bands on the 1.4 litre engine I managed to bring urban travel consumption down to 7.1l/100kms and long distance to a super low 5.5l/100kms. Which was pretty good considering the hilly terrain of Durban.

There are a few things that I didn't really like, the biggest being the fuel range on the instrument cluster display turns off once you hit your last 50kms on your tank, this means that when you only have 50kms of fuel left in your tank the Rio stops counting down the kilometres and you don't know how far you can go thereafter. The second annoying thing is the leather that was used to cover the steering and gear lever started to peel, but I've looked at a 2014 Rio and they have started using another type of leather. Other than this the car is great.

Overall the car is built well, paint and panels are put together properly and you do get a sense of quality in the build. Although a quick internet search shows that trade-in and resale value isn't very competitive, I believe that this is will change. The Rio is a smart looking car that comes fully loaded, which is something that youngsters are looking for nowadays, it will take a bit of time before the Rio second-hand market starts to boom and pick up momentum in demand and price. A quick browse through Gumtree showed me a few Rio Tec's with low mileage going for +- R160000, and new list price is R207000.

Final say: "So far, so good!"

Thursday, 31 July 2014

2014 Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI Highline DSG

When VW announced the release of the new Polo, I decided to attend the launch at Alpine VW in Pinetown. Displayed on the showroom floor where the various models available. Initially you don't see much of a difference, that's because cosmetic wise the new Polo is just a facelift of the previous version.

Well, it's not much of a facelift either, basically it's just a new front bumper. Although the chrome trimming does add a new flare to the design. But the main reason that the new Polo has been launched is so that VW can introduce their new power plant to the range, bringing power and economy to their compact hatch segment. Across the Polo range you will have only one engine capacity option in the form of a 1.2 litre engine block. All of them turbo charged but producing 66kw of power and 160nm of torque and the Highline and Cross versions are tweaked to push out 81kw and 175nm of torque. 

Our test drive option was the TSI Highline DSG, and we were accompanied by Senior Sales Executive, Bronwyn Morgan, from Alpine VW in Pinetown. Like I said earlier, theres not much to talk about when it comes to the exterior, save a few changes, like the Highline comes standard with a smart set of 16" alloys and 215/45 tyres that give it a sporty look. Across the range the brakes have been upgraded to discs all around.

Inside you get the same layout, however the radio has been upgraded to a touch screen media centre, supporting usb, SD and auxiliary inputs over a six speaker system. Pretty decent setup, a bit of high end technology to bring out the youngster in you. You still get the feel of quality and comfort, and the leather finishes are soft to the touch. The one thing that I really liked, was the inclusion of the card holder. This used to be a feature in the '06 Polo, and I found it very conveinient as I used to travel a lot. The whole range comes standard with various versions of cloth interior, and I don't see leather being offered as optional, if you want leather the dealership will probably offer it to you as a after market optional. Another big change inside the car is the front centre armrest, which gives it a sort of luxury feel. Although I feel that this in reality makes the cabin look a bit cluttered, considering the already restricted room.

This time our test route was the infamous M19 highway a.k.a. Back Stretch. I like the route due to the winding uphill and downhill, you really get to test all aspects of the cars performance, handling and economy. Modern technology and the numerous small engined cars out in the market gave me an insight of what to expect from a 1.2lt turbo charged engine. However the Highline is tweaked a bit further and totally blew me away from the word go and the best part was that the 7 speed DSG transmission did well to make the drive seem like the the M19 was a walk in the park.

Power and handling fused well together and resulted in a driving experience that you'd expect from the Polo's bigger brothers like the 1.4TSI and Highline versions. Although 81kw seems not so impressive, you must take into consideration the power to weight ratio here and appreciate what VW have accomplished.

Halfway back on the uphill of the M19 I decided to see what the 1.2lt engine can do for me on the economy side. The manufacture claims a combined 5.1l/100kms, and I managed a 6.9l/100kms, and this was done on the steep uphill of the Back Stretch, ...amazing!

The build is just as solid as it's predecessor and includes high quality finishes making the Polo great value for money and giving it excellent resale value. The 2014 VW Polo 1.2 TSI Highline DSG crosses the finish line at R247 800.00 and will get you a 3 year/45000km service plan, a tad bit short if you ask me, but it's something, considering previous models didn't come with any. I would suggest that you spring the extra R10000.00 cash to upgrade it to a 90000km/5 year service plan, and I'm sure you can negotiate the final cost on your vehicle. If you're considering a compact hatch, do yourself a favour and book a test drive with the new Polo range, I'm sure you will be impressed.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

2014 Toyota Corolla 1.6 Prestige

I will begin this review with one word that you have to keep in the back of your mind throughout this article - "different".

I've driven almost all Toyota Corolla's that were released in South Africa, and they all followed the same distinct formula that seemed to work over the years, reliable, affordable, comfortable and some would say boring, that is if you exclude the RXi, RSi and Twincam versions of course. Amazingly what you paid for, in comparison to the competition, you fell short on features. This, however, didn't stop South Africa from supporting the Corolla badge, because at the end of the day you still had a damn good resale value.

In the latest version of the Corolla, Toyota has changed it's tune a bit when it comes to features. Right from the starting line with the 1.3 Esteem you get all comfort features, minus a few high end technology bits found in the Prestige versions. We were setup with a 1.6 Toyota Corolla Prestige by Rishi from CMH Toyota in Umhlanga. 

From the moment that you lay your eyes on this car you know that it is different from all the other Corolla's that have come and gone. Styling is bold and new, with a hint of "I mean business" attitude built in there somewhere, yet it still has that prim and proper stance about it. The Prestige comes standard with colour coded bumpers and mirrors, and 16" alloys, but lacks a front fogs, making it just short of being complete.

Inside it literally feels like opening up a Christmas present. You expect to see similar trends that Toyota has been following for years but you are met with an unexpected surprise. The interior has broken away completely from tradition and gone off on an adventure somewhere. Bringing back with it a sleek and sophisticated design that's packed with technology.

A totally revised dash board combines high gloss finishes with chrome trimmings and a sophisticated but simple layout that's easy for you to navigate through. The highlight of the centre console is a 6.1 inch touch screen media centre that is bluetooth and usb compatible which is coupled to a six speaker sound system. Vehicle stats are still isolated to the instrument cluster. But the main attraction about that 6.1" LCD is it also doubles as screen for a reverse camera. Leather is standard and the white stitching makes the Prestige all that more prestigious. On the safety side there are driver and passenger front and side torso airbags.

So, now let's find out how 90kw and 154nm of torque can handle the 1.7 ton dead weight of the Corolla... 

As expected take off isn't too exciting, you run through the six speed gearbox on the highway and you feel nothing, just plain and simple driving, but you literally feel nothing, if you could apply the saying to this situation I would say that the ride is as smooth as a babies bottom. But during my discussion with Rishi along the highway I never thought to look down at the speedo, and I could not believe what speed I was doing. I slowed down and started accelerating again just to see if I missed anything during acceleration, and I couldn't believe it, you don't feel it but it's there on the speedo, 154nm of torque launching the car forward. But this is what the 1.6 Prestige is all about, it's about the comfort and the enjoyment of the drive. The 1.6 litre power plant is claimed at doing 6.6l/100kms combined cycle.

And now the price tag. For R241 900-00 (2014) I think that Toyota have finally got their price to features ratio right. As was standard on it's predecessor you will get a 5yr/90000km service plan and  3yr/100000km warranty. Just a note on the previous Corolla, Toyota SA has decided to continue this model as their budget sedan and rebranded it as the Corolla Quest, and I must say, for what you get at that price, it's value for money.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

2014 Opel Corsa 1.4T Enjoy

The mid level market is changing for the compact hatch segment with the introduction of small capacity turbo charged engines. Almost all manufacturers are offering this and they all have their variations of what a turbo should do in a smaller engine. Some offer more power and some offer better fuel economy. But what about both?

Opel might just have the answer in the form of the Corsa 1.4T Enjoy. With the engine capacity of 1398cc that is assisted by a not so serious turbo they have achieved a sweet 88KWs and a pretty decent 175NM of torque. The combination of these figures give you an inconceivable 5.5l/100kms!

Thanks to Kerry from CMH Umhlanga for setting us up with the test drive. The look is more or less the same as its predecessor with minor face-lift upgrades. This might make the shape look a bit dated in a year or two, but don't get me wrong here, the Corsa is still a good looking car and I guess GMSA is sticking to a formula that has worked for them in the past. You get colour coded bumpers and mirrors and 15" alloys as standard as well as front and rear fog lamps. There is also an attractive chrome tailpiece on the 1.4T.

Inside Opel has given you the same basic layout but with all the extras, you get satellite controls on the steering, bluetooth radio, electric mirrors and front electric windows, both with one touch open and close. The driver seat is height adjustable and allows for excellent all round visibility.  Leg room for the driver and front passenger is ample, but if you're tall, your rear passengers are going to have a problem, it will be ideal for kids to sit in the back. The boot is quite spacious as well, which is unusual for a compact hatch.

And now for the unexpected, the road test, which told a different story about the Corsa. When taking off you don't really notice that this is a turbo charged vehicle, there is no burst of power when taking off, it feels sort of standard, but as you approach the 2000rpm mark in second gear, the turbo hits the power band and the car launches forward and literally doesn't stop that turbo fed acceleration right up until the fifth and last gear.

On the freeway fifth gear was all you needed, and it's a very long fifth gear, others may have introduced a sixth gear but, the way Opel has setup the Corsa's turbo and gear ratio, there is no need for it in this car. Over taking and hills were handled with no problem at all and the best part was fuel consumption was minimal.  Handling and comfort was also balanced, making you feel confident while driving. Braking was also improved by including all round discs.

Overall the car is easy to drive and the introduction of the turbo made it exciting as well. The 2014 Opel Corsa 1.4T Enjoy will cost you R199 990.00 and this will also get you a 3 year 60000km service plan and 5 year 120000km warranty. Finance offers from GMSA also make this car affordable.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

2014 Citroen DS5 Sport

Ever since the release of the DS3 sport, in 2010, Citroen has been heading in the right direction. There has been an improvement in their overall sales but nothing to rave about. The thing is, Citroen has been building excellent cars in the past few years and it's going to take a while for the South African market to step out of their shell and go on an adventure in one of these brilliant cars. This may sound like you're taking a risk, but trust me, these are solid deals that are worth looking into.

And one of those brilliant vehicles is the 2014 Citroen DS5 Sport. Supplied to us by Justin Singh, New Car Sales Manager of Citroen Umhlanga. Designed to take on BMW's 3-Series and Mercedes' C-Class, it's built like something out of a Star-Trek movie and looks commanding on the road. But on the non-fiction side the car is a looker, it comes with daytime led lights, double exhaust pipes and on this model the wheels were upgraded to 19" from the standard 18". Stance is slightly high but due to its design, you don't notice it at all. The fact is, the cars size is very deceiving, it looks like a hot hatch, but it isn't. This is a big car, and I like the fact that it looks like it's a hot hatch but can hold it's own as a family car as well.

This particular model is the THP 200 Manual, which is a 1.6 litre turbo charged engine with a 6 speed manual gearbox, producing 147kw of power and 275nm of torque. Impressive figures for an engine of that size. You may think that the 1.6l power plant is going to struggle with fuel economy, being a big car, but the manufacturer claims combined fuel economy is just 6.7l/100kms. The biggest drawback with the DS5 is that if you want this kind of power in the petrol version you can only get it in manual, otherwise you will have to go for the 2.0l diesel option, which again, only comes in automatic. The petrol and diesel versions will obviously perform differently, so these options might not appeal to some buyers.

Inside the car, keeping with the space ship theme, it has a cockpit styled layout, with buttons that look like they will launch a rocket if you touch them. But seriously, once you jump into the car you feel excited and thrilled to sit there. The centre console is packed with buttons that at a glance my confuse you. But once you get over the initial rush, you will find that everything is laid out logically and within reach, and you don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure it out.

Like I said earlier the DS5 is a big car, and it shows inside the cabin. There is ample seating space and leg room all round, and fine leather trim makes the electronically adjustable seating all that more comfortable. Two things that I like about the interior of the DS5 Sport, the first being individual cockpit sunroof, which comes standard by the way. The driver and front passenger both have their own individual sunroof and the rear passengers have their own. Each sunroof can be individually electronically controlled and even comes with an electronic sun visor. The other feature that I like is the colour heads up display. You can view vehicle information on a pop up glass that will show you stats like speed, avg. consumption etc. These two features are standard in the Sport edition.

Now let's get to the road test. We did our usual route to Sibaya and back and got to test all aspects of the car. Firstly for a big car that has a small engine I was amazed that it had that much power. Engine response was instant and whether you were on the freeway or winding around bends the car was pushed forward at your command. And although we didn't have economical driving in mind the car did an impressive 7.1l/100kms and if you drive it right I'm positive that you can achieve the factory claimed 6.7l/100kms combined cycle.

Being a fully loaded car and set to compete with the Germans the Citroen DS5 Sport weighs in at R436 900 (2014). And at that price Citroen has thrown in a 3yr/100000km warranty and a 5yr/100000km service plan. Although pricing is a bit high, consider the extras that you have to put in with other cars as opposed to what comes standard on the DS5.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Preview: 2014 Toyota Corolla

Toyota has announced and that they will be releasing their new version of the Corolla early next year. The latest Corolla design was already put on display at the Johannesburg International Motor Show in October.

The manufacturer has gone for a complete redesign, flushing the old looks and adopting trends like the 'smile' grill to bring the Corolla in line with the rest of the Toyota range. These are images taken from the Johannesburg International Motor Show, as you can see the styling is very appealing and not so conservative as its predecessor. Hopefully the new Corolla will latch onto a younger market as well.

Speaking of a younger market, there are rumors that Toyota is going to release a TRD version of the new Corolla that will be running the same boxer engine found in the iconic GT-86. This is sure to start another cult movement like those created by the Twincam, RSi and RXi in the past. The boys on Twincam Forum will be overjoyed about this one.

Toyota says that they have redesigned the interior as well, making it more spacious than it already is. Also they have thrown in a lot more gadgets to add to comfort features. Toyota is known to reserve their comfort features for higher spec models, so lets see what they give us in the entry level models next year.

As for engines, we are looking at the same range that the current Auris is fitted with i.e. a 73kw 1.3l and a 97kw 1.6l. These are Optimal Drive configurations so it should be exiting to see what they can do in the bigger Corolla body.

Although pricing is expected to be a bit high, Toyota fans will still support their brand, however just as the previous Corolla was priced there where finance deals from Toyota that made the Corollas more affordable. so look out for those. We can also expect that Toyota will give us a 90000km service plan standard across the Corolla range.

Monday, 4 November 2013

2013 VW Golf 7 1.2 TSI

While the 2013 VW Golf 7 1.4 TSI was basking in all its glory as the World Car Of The Year, hidden in its shadows was yet another beauty, equally worthy of such fame and glory. Arriving almost unannounced came the Volkswagen Golf 7 1.2 TSI, standing square in the path of the 1.4 TSI as its competition. Now we find out why and how an entry level car can do this...

The test drive was provided by a colleague of mine, Ranvir Kallideen, who recently purchased the 1.2 TSI. This model is powered by a 1.2 litre turbo charge engine which produces 77kw of power and 175nm of torque and the power is delivered through a 6 speed manual gearbox, which is the only option you get. This engine was not only designed around fuel economy but also performance as well. Believe it or not this little engine is more than capable of pulling the weight of the Golf 7 body.

Exterior is easy on the eyes, on this version you get 15" alloys standard but no colour coded mirrors and door handles. Therefore a darker colour option will suit this model better so as to camouflage this. Like all the models in the Golf 7 range the 1.2 TSI is just as good looking as the rest.

As you get into the car you can feel the quality in the finishes. Although the 1.2 TSI only comes in a cloth finish, it is of very high quality. In this model the media radio is optional and I suggest taking it, due to the fact that it completes the console nicely and gives the car that quality exclusive feel. To add to that feeling, you also get a leather bound steering wheel with satellite controls. In fact, with the media radio, you won't know the difference between the 1.2 TSI and the 1.4 TSI comfortline. Besides the cloth interior the only other give away that it is the base model is the lack of rear electric powered windows.

The 1.2 TSI comes with an electronic park brake, just like the one found in the 1.4 TSI. This also assists with launch control when you are taking off, the brake automatically releases when there is enough power applied to move forward. Bluemotion is also standard i.e. stop/start technology. 

Now getting to the interesting part that will convince most people to buy this car... and that is the 1.2 litre engine. From the word go you would not believe that this car is powered by a mere 1.2 litre engine, to put it into perspective, you used to get a 1.2 litre engine in a Fiat Uno, but the 1.2 TSI gives no hint that it's running a miniature power plant. 

On the road throttle response is excellent. If you wanted to do something, you just do it. There's no need to drop a gear or put you foot all the way down to overtake, just touch the accelerator a little bit more and it goes, effortlessly. We did our usual route to Sibaya and back, and this time I made it a point NOT to drive economically. After the trip I checked the average consumption and we did a ridiculous 6.1 l/100kms, so I'd say that you can achieve  5.0 l/100kms comfortably if driven economically. VW claims a combined cycle of 4.9 l/100kms.

With regard to handling and comfort, VW got it right, again. Although this is the entry level vehicle in the Golf 7 range, the build quality, features and the sheer value for money makes the 1.2 TSI far from entry level.

The VW Golf 7 1.2 TSI starts at R 246 300.00 (2013) and comes with a 5 year 90 000km service plan and 3 year 120 000km warranty. And I strongly suggest adding on the composition media radio as an extra, this in my opinion completes the deal.

Friday, 2 August 2013

2013 Toyota Corolla 1.3 Professional

Toyota has been a trusted brand in South Africa for as long as I can remember. The Corolla range, from the time it was introduced to SA back in the ‘70s, was a hit, combining economy and reliability into affordable packages. From inception it has held a fair size of the market in its segment. The Corolla, it’s been around for over 30 years... and nothing has changed.

In terms of automobile evolution the first Corolla is just as boring as the latest Corolla, but people still love it. That’s because the Corolla has kept to Toyota’s motto, “Everything Keeps Going Right”.  You won’t get fancy gadget technology and styling but what you do get is an engine that will, in most cases, easily take you up to 500000kms without any issues, and that is why the South African market is so loyal to the brand, even though recent pricing isn't so competitive.

While we’re on the topic of pricing, although your purchase price is slightly above competitors pricing, you will however reap the benefits when you are either trading in or selling your prized possession. If your Corolla has been well taken care of and fully maintained by Toyota you will get an excellent price on your car. The Corolla has one of the lowest depreciation rates in the market.

The model that was tested here is the 2013 Toyota Corolla 1.3 Professional. The 1.3 litre engine is based on Toyota’s Optimal Drive technology and is able to produce 74kw of power and 132nm of torque which is delivered to the wheels via a six speed manual gearbox.  For the size of the Corolla, the 1.3 engine seems to handle the weight very well, even with passengers on board.

Let’s move onto the styling, like I said earlier the car is sort of boring, but when you look at others in the same segment you will find it’s really not that bad, but it’s not going to take your breath away either. But look at it this way, the Corolla is your properly dressed butler who will do your bidding to the ‘T’ without complaining.

Inside you get standard equipment which includes aircon, power steering, front electric windows and on-board computer. Again interior is plain and simple, but practical and comfortable. You wouldn’t mind doing a long distance trip in it, there is ample room all around the cabin for all passengers to sit comfortably. The boot can accommodate a ridiculous 450 litres, which can take virtually anything that you throw at it.

On the road you get the same feeling, that you are really driving a boring car. But then you turn on the radio and listen to your favourite tunes through the USB MP3 player and you realise that your Corolla is effortlessly transporting you in smooth, silent, comfort, just like a good butler should, and then you smile and realise that this is why the Corolla is the number one trusted sedan in South Africa.

The current price of the 1.3 Professional is R196800.00 and this gets you a 3 year 100000km warranty and a 5 year 90000km which is above the market average of just 60000km and 4 years. As you can see the price seems to be a bit high, compared to competitors, but remember, your resale or trade value and Toyota also do in house finance options that make owning a Corolla highly affordable.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

2013 VW Golf 7 1.4 TSI Comfortline DSG

When VW released the Golf 4, I was in awe of its technology and build quality, it was a significant step up from the Jumbo Golf. Then came the Mark 5, and yet again VW produced an impressive product. Then came the Golf 6 and I thought to myself, ‘It can’t get better than this.’ And now the Golf 7 1.4 TSI DSG is here, and in the short time that it’s been around, it has already been named World Car Of The Year 2013.

Vikash from our office is the proud owner of this fine machine and gave us the opportunity to take it out on a road test. Styling has always been a strong forte for Volkswagen and they did not disappoint in the Golf 7. The 1.4 TSI Comfortline has a sophisticated look, somehow you feel that it has a personality that knows what it’s doing and it knows it’s doing it right. With chiseled features replicating the lines of the VW Polo, you will also find similarities in the headlight cluster as well. The rear has been redone as well following the same chiseled design as opposed to the rounded effect in the Golf 6. Fog lights and 16” alloys are standard for the Comfortline edition.

Interior has undergone major reconstruction, taking features and characteristics from the CC. There’s an attractive brushed metal finish to the center console, with the gear lever and steering wheel covered in stitched leather. You won’t find a hand brake lever in this car, that’s because it doesn't need one. The Golf 7 1.4 TSI comes with an electronic handbrake and is controlled by a button just behind the gear lever. The seats are magic, and to top it all this particular model came with heated seats.

Sticking with the interior and the center console, you will find a large screen, which will display information on the vehicles stats from the on-board computer and touch screen radio controls. The interesting thing about this screen is that it has a motion sensor that senses your hand approaching and as it gets closer the screen display changes to display buttons that you would press to control the radio and on board computer, and when you move your hand away you get just the stats up on the screen.

I would have expected this model to come with key-less entry and push start, but for some reason VW went the traditional route with a remote and transponder key. But we’re not complaining. The 1.4 TSI produces 90kw and 200nm of torque, which is more than capable of handling the weight of the Golf body. This combined with a 7 speed dual clutch system makes the TSI untouchable in its class.

The electronic handbrake doubles as a launch assist system. When engaged the electronic handbrake will only release when there is sufficient power applied for the car to take off. Another setting will allow the handbrake to engage every time you come to a stop, this can become a bit annoying if you’re in traffic going downhill. Normally you would just play with your brake pedal, releasing it whenever you need to edge forward, but with the assist engaged, you have to touch the accelerator a bit to get the car rolling again.

Performance is off the charts and unexpected, so when test driving this car brace yourself, it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face. VW has put in a lot of technology in the development of their new range of power plants and as a result they have accomplished power and economy. The 1.4 TSI is claimed to have a combined fuel consumption of 5.0l/100kms. In the hilly coastal Durban area we cannot expect the same results, but it will be fairly close to that.

The World Car Of The Year 2013 took all factors into consideration when they were gunning for that title, and one of them is the price of the vehicle. For almost the same price as a Golf 6, you can now take ownership of a Golf 7, don’t ask me how they managed to do that considering all the extras and new technology in the new version. The 1.4 TSI Comfortline DSG will cost you R284000 (2013). You will get 3yr/100000km warranty and a 5yr/90000km service plan.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

2013 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium

The Fiesta range has really grown up since its launch in South Africa, in 1996. The car went from basic to sophisticated to technology leader, so it's seen it all. Speaking of technology leaders, the biggest yet is their latest instalment of the Fiesta, i.e. the 1.0 litre EcoBoost.

Thanks to Ray from Kempster Auto Umhlanga for setting us up with the 1.0 litre EcoBoost Titanium. The old version of the Fiesta was sporty enough, but this new version looks amazing, even though it is just a face lift. I guess what does it for me is the new front grille, which very closely resembles that of an Aston Martin DB9, and the reconfigured rear light cluster with the large high boot spoiler.

Inside the cabin, it looks like not very much has changed. The console looks the same with buttons for full function cell phone control, but it's finished with better materials and looks funky and classy at the same time. The instrument cluster, as well, has a better more refined look to it, although it has the same general design. The steering feels compact and sporty, makes you not want to take your hands of it! Cabin space is managed properly and there's a lot of storage spaces around, which the previous model lacked.

Before the actual test drive I did some research on the engine in this car. The Fiesta runs a 1.0 litre three cylinder engine, which was voted International Engine of the Year 2012! It's not the first time that a three cylinder engine has featured in a car, we saw it back in the day with the Daewoo Matiz, and recently Toyota fitted one to their Yaris and Aygo. These cars were created as budget cars and gave you great fuel economy but not such a thrilling driving experience. Fords 1.0 litre engine falls into their EcoBoost category. This means that it's turbo charged, and is able to take this 1.0 litre engine to a mind boggling 92kws of power output and 170nm of torque, which is able to achieve a fuel economy of 4.3l/100kms.

Out on the road, I was expecting that the car will perform above average, because of the turbo, but the acceleration that the 1.0 litre pushed out was not what I had anticipated. Ford compares it's power to most normally aspirated 1.6 litre engines, but what I experienced was definitely not a 1.6. You could feel the boost from the word go, acceleration was quick, and gear changes were sharp and smooth. Adding to the excitement was the off beat grunt that the engine made when revving up. The EcoBoost comes with a 5 speed gearbox, in a market were everybody is going six speed I found it strange that Ford didn't feel the need to include a sixth gear, it would have definitely helped with long distance travelling.

Freeway driving was a breeze, the 1.0 litre showed no signs of strain at all, and overtaking was confidently done. Even at high speeds the engine responded well to the slightest push of the accelerator. The bends around Sibaya was not a challenge at all to the compact little hatchback, and I was reluctant to return to the dealership as the test drive came to an end.

The car is not what you'd expect it to be and I strongly suggest test driving this car, so as to not underestimate its capabilities. The Fiesta EcoBoost is guaranteed to be fun at a very minimalistic fuel cost, and Ford will even put you in the Titainium version from as little as R231 500 (April 2013). You'll get a 4yr/60000km service plan and a 4yr/100000km warranty. There's no need to panic once you are out of service plan as the service intervals are every 20000kms, which will assist in allowing you to budget for your next service.