Home Articles LEAD: Motoring: MOTORING REPORT 2016

LEAD: Motoring: MOTORING REPORT 2016

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WHEN IS A CAR A GOOD INVESTMENT?

To start with, we can look at vehicles like typical accountants and work with their financial value and cost. This starts as soon as we decide that we want to buy a car. We begin this journey by enquiring from various dealers the best discounts available on a particular brand of vehicle.

We then look at the second-hand market to ascertain what the vehicle will be worth in the not too distant future. Some take this so serious that they even go as far as calculating the expected future value and work back based on the time value of money. The unfortunate decision after all this rational way of looking at vehicle pricing ends in a somewhat losing situation. This is then discussed with a trusted friend or advisor, who consoles you and makes you feel a bit more comfortable with the expected loss.

We then move on to look at which brand is going to depreciate the least. This continues until you make yourself believe that only exotic or sports cars will not depreciate, but the more common brands won’t do too badly. This is not 100% true, as even exotic cars do depreciate depending on how often you use them. We finally settle for a vehicle that we mathematically calculate will depreciate the least and is within our budget.

Another scenario is when we look at purchasing an antique or exotic vehicle. These vehicles do have a chance of escalating in value depending on its originality, the number manufactured and still in existence, and finally its condition.

If you do manage to find the right vehicle and have the funds to purchase it these vehicles are definitely investments – although in order to ensure that you do retain and/or exceed its value, the vehicle needs to be in pristine condition. This could add items like a dust-free, air-conditioned garage, as well as consistent service. Also, you have to ensure that you don’t drive this vehicle too much, as that can effectively destroy its value. So, in essence, your investment vehicle is a piece of art that requires constant TLC – and that comes at a cost.

Based on the above, we would normally conclude that no car is a good investment. But maybe we should be asking the question differently.

I guess what we should be asking is what is the investment in our vehicle worth? What I am saying is let’s look at this with a different lens.

To start we should look at whether the vehicle suits the purpose I am buying it for, both from a space and cost perspective. We should then consider its looks, and I guess for some the brand or badge is important.

But most importantly, what does your gut say about the vehicle you are looking to buy.

I find it interesting that we apply all business rules when buying a car but don’t ever go with what most entrepreneurs and successful business people say: sometimes you just have to go with your gut.

This does change what you may buy and also the amount of money you will lose on the car you buy, but for the time you have it, you will have consistent pleasure knowing that you bought what you wanted and liked at that time, not because it will depreciate 2% less than the one you really wanted. The pleasure you get from the time you spend with this vehicle will possibly be worth more than what you will lose.

Think of it as spending money on travelling the world and exploring new destinations versus using the money to buy a small apartment.

So, if you’re looking for a monetary investment I’m not sure a car would be the best: there are many others that will give you an almost guaranteed better return. But if you are looking for an investment that will give you miles of thrills and smiles, then go with your gut and buy the car you love.

FORD MUSTANG

South Africans’ long wait for a car that has stolen the hearts of many an enthusiast as well as movie-goers is finally over. The Ford Mustang has for the first time become available in right-hand drive. This meant that Ford SA could start to fill the dreams of many, as it slowly released models of the Mustang to the market – which effectively made grown men behave like kids in a candy store, picking the model they liked best.

So dreams have come true, but is this car really worth all the fuss and nostalgia linked to it?

Well, you either love the look of the new Mustang or you hate it. The front end has a rather brute-looking bonnet with two horns like protrusions that run the length of the bonnet. The headlights continue the look while the grill has the typical muscle car look. The most noticeable is the running Mustang badge. The side coupé look is perfectly balanced with muscle bulges in all the right places. That being said, the rear end has a split six pack, with each of the rear lights displaying three slots each. The gloss black finish between the lights completes the brute muscle car look. I think Ford’s designers have done a good job in rejuvenating the Mustang shape.

As you open the frameless doors, you are welcomed by oversized front sports seats that look good and, unlike those of other sports vehicles, these seats are actually very comfortable. The dashboard was a bit disappointing – rather plain and the plastic materials did not have the premium look. On the passenger side, just above the glove box, is a plate that states ‘Mustang since 1964’. The oversized multi-functional steering wheel has a good feel thanks to its leather covering. The driver’s view has twin circular dials that house the speedometer and tachometer, in true pony car tradition. The space between has been modernised with an LCD screen that displays the on-board computer information. The circular air vents keep up the sporty interior look. The central drop-down section houses the touchscreen infotainment system that is easy to use and has a decent rumble when the volume is pushed up. There is space for two at the back, but getting in and out can be a bit of a challenge. Also, the rear window starts quite high, which results in sunburnt heads for rear-seat passengers. The boot space is adequate for this type of vehicle, but don’t expect to pack for all four for a week.

The vehicle that I tested was the eco boost version, which many have said is not a real Mustang. The reason is that there is not a huge growl from the engine nor much of a roar from the exhaust. That being said, the vehicle has got ample power to take on a fair number of its competitors with ease. On the road, the vehicle drives well and is easy to manoeuvre. Parking can be a bit tricky as the vehicle feels rather wide and you sit down low, this means you cannot see the end of the bonnet. Luckily thanks to this being a modern Mustang, parking aids like park distance and rear cameras are available.

All this is great, but this is not meant to be an ordinary vehicle – it’s a Mustang! What differentiates it from many a vehicle is that when you floor it and decide that you need to turn, you have to ensure that you have ample space as the rear just pretends not to have any traction at all. This initially creates white knuckles, but as the tyres bite back at the tarmac, this turns to a smile on your face and an adrenaline rush begging for more. This tendency of stepping out at free will can be a lot of fun if you know what you doing, if you don’t it could land you in trouble very quickly as this is with the anti-skid still engaged.

On the whole, I think Ford has done a phenomenal job of reincarnating the original Mustang. Even though this was the eco boost version, there was ample power and much better fuel consumption than its bigger brother, the 5.0. The sound has been sacrificed, but I could live with that. It’s the type of vehicle that you can take to the corner café or on a road trip across South Africa.

Engine2,3 l  4 Cylinder Turbo
Power233 kW
Torque430 Nm
0–100 km/H5,8 s (claimed)
PriceFrom R713 900

                   

VW GOLF GTI CLUB SPORT

VW has introduced this version of the Gti as ‘the fastest GTi since GTi’, which I have to admit is quite an interesting line and some really clever advertising.

So what makes this GTi so different? Apart from the nameplate, to start, the front end has an all new bumper design. The bottom grill section of the bumper is now stretched at the lower section making the front look wider and lower. To add to this, VW has added aerofoils to the side in the shape of air vents. These are in a high-gloss black finish, which adds an exclusive touch. From the side view, the biggest change is the new 19-inch wheels, which I have to admit was not to my liking, especially on the black test vehicle. There is also a black section at the bottom end of the door sills, with ‘Club Sport’ on the rear doors section. This was not very clearly visible on the black paintwork. The rear end has an added spoiler that not only adds downforce at the back but makes the car look like a serious street racer. This, together with the darkened windows and lower suspension, completes the boy-racer looks.

If you have not as yet made out the differences between this and a normal GTi, open the front door and you are welcomed by Recaro leather racing seats, which have a one-piece back and head rest. These seats are similar to the ones in the Sirocco R. The steering wheel is covered in suede with a red marking at the top, adding to the sports car look and feel. The interior is plain but sporty ensuring that you concentrate on driving and nothing else.

Talking of driving, this is where this car comes into its own. Even though there is a fair amount of wheel spin on harsh acceleration, as soon as the rubber grips, the vehicle is catapulted forward as the G-force shoves you back into the seat. The steering is precise and the gear changes are seamless, ensuring that you remain white-knuckled for as long as the accelerator is planted to the floor. In the corners there is a bit of understeer as can be expected from a front-wheel-drive vehicle, but the vehicle remains composed as long as you don’t make any sudden moves. The steering feedback ensures that you know exactly what the wheels are doing at any time.

On the whole, this is definitely the best GTi since Gti, but the four-wheel-drive system on the R makes it better on the bends. Whether that is worth the extra cash is for you to determine. That being said, this Club Sport is on top of the list as one of most fun hot hatches around.

Engine2,0 l  4 Cylinder Turbo
Power228 kW
Torque380 Nm
0–100 km/H5,8 s (claimed)
PriceFrom R544 740


MERCEDES-BENZ 

C220D COUPÉ

Mercedes recently launched what is possibly the best-looking mid-sector coupé around. The new C Coupé has borrowed its styling from its bigger sibling, the S Coupé. The most striking angle of the new C Coupé has to be the rear end side view. The sleek C-pillar seems to almost flow into the rear end of the vehicle. The rear window is smaller than the one on the sedan, in keeping with the coupé’s proportions. The boot section dips towards the rear and ends off with a pronounced edge that completes the sporty look at the rear end. The rear lights have a horizontal section on top of the lights giving it a unique look. The drop-down section of the boot is smooth and houses just the three-pointed star on it. The rear bumper flows seamlessly from the lower section of the lights and almost no joints are visible between the bumper and the body. The bottom section of the bumper has a chrome-line edging that ends in a loop on each side, giving the impression of dual exhaust pipes. The one thing that is immediately obvious is that there is no boot-opening handle; unfortunately this can only be done from inside the vehicle or from the key remote.

The side view is also impressive. The midline crease is pronounced and cuts the vehicle perfectly in keeping with Mercedes design. The lower section crease is angled upwards as it flows to the rear end. This gives the illusion of the rear end being more compact than the front end. Up front the C Coupé has a very similar look to the C-Class sedan, like the pronounced grill and sweeping headlights. The grill carries the large three-pointed badge proudly and the optional LED headlights give the car a somewhat aggressive stance. The bonnet is larger and makes it appear like a typical sports car. The cockpit is in keeping with Mercedes’ new minimalistic, classy look. The dashboard has a circular air vent on both sides and a third in the centre drop-down section. The rest of the drop-down section houses a few buttons for the climate control and entertainment systems.

The best part though is the classic watch. The absence of a gear shift ensures that there is ample space for the Mercedes Command system and extended centre armrest. The steering wheel looks good and the displays are classy, in keeping with Mercedes styling. The seats are comfortable but are only semi-automatic. This means that the backrest is electronically operated, but fore and aft are manual. The rear seats are two separate seats with a section between the seats with space for cup holders. The rear legroom is decent but getting in and out of the rear seats is not the easiest due to the low roof line.

On the road, the diesel motor performed well. There was not much of the typical diesel metal sound, but as this is meant to be a sporty vehicle the absence of a roar or even a growl is immediately noticed.

The vehicle has good road holding and when pushed to its limits in tight corners, the rear end can slide out ever so slightly before the anti-skid takes control and settles the vehicle back on its intended direction of travel.

On the whole, the new C Coupé has set a new benchmark in the looks department. The drive is good but the diesel motor does not match the look or thrill that is expected from a coupé. If I was in the market for a coupé, I would consider this vehicle but with a petrol motor.

Engine2,1 l  4 Cylinder Turbo
Power 125 kW
Torque400 Nm
0–100 km/HN/A
PriceFrom R551 100