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LEAD: Motoring: Sleek silhouettes in motion

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Sleek silhouettes in motion

 

BMW 225i Active Tourer

BMW enters a new chapter in its history with its first production front-wheel drive vehicle. Also, this is the first MPV-style vehicle from the marque.

In keeping with tradition, the infamous kidney grill has remained intact, and so too has the headlight cluster with dual circular headlamps. That’s pretty much all that resembles traditional BMW design.

This all-new vehicle from BMW starts off with a steeply raked short bonnet and large windscreen. The midline crease is pronounced and runs along the side of the vehicle. This not only adds to the design but, more importantly, creates visual impact, making the vehicle look lower than it is. The large windows fit the part well and it almost looks like an upwardly stretched design of a 1 Series. At the rear, the tail-light cluster looks like that of an X Series, but with some tweaks. Being a BMW, there is added sportiness, especially to the 225i with its dual tailpipes (one on either side).

Access is effortless, thanks to the large opening high-framed doors. The high seating position adds to the ease of entering the vehicle. This elevated position, together with the large windscreen and windows, does give one a sense of control on the road as your visibility is excellent and you sit higher than in the average sedan.

The interior is also typical BMW layout. The dashboard is well laid out and the now common LCD display placed on top in the middle of the dash is also standard. The ventilation controls are set lower down the centre console, just in front of the gear lever. The interesting thing though is the gear lever is not the modern electronic one but rather one that looks like it’s from a BMW of the past. Then there is the i-Drive system with its new larger modern controller with a touchpad on top. This allows you to zoom in and out of maps like on a smartphone if you have the optional navigation. You can also write out letters or numbers for telephone use.

There is an airy feeling of space inside the vehicle, which is welcoming. The rear seat is split into three, which can be folded forward individually depending what you need to load. Rear leg room is excellent thanks to the upright seating and high roofline. The luggage space is good and as it’s like an MPV, you can load all the way to the roof. The boot opens up rather high, though; it is advisable to be aware of that. The load bay is flat and with the seats folded you have a flatbed cargo space.

On the road, the vehicle feels responsive and easy to drive. The one thing you realise is that it feels different to other BMWs. The reason is the front-wheel drive, as this changes the way the car reacts to road-holding and overall driving dynamics.

That being said, I think BMW have done an excellent job in getting a well-balanced vehicle. Interestingly the centre of gravity does not feel high, even in tight corners, but the car is no hot hatch. The new LED light technology is amazing. The road was much clearer and brighter to see at night with almost no issue to oncoming traffic. The one thing that this vehicle has perfected is self-parking. It is the first vehicle that I have driven that picks up an open bay within seconds. All you need to do is put it into reverse and (most importantly) trust the vehicle to do its job.

Overall I think BMW does have a winner with this new vehicle. However, it does not come cheap, especially when you add on some of the nice-to-have extras like self-parking, panoramic roof, and navigation. Move over mum’s taxi; welcome to the new mum’s BMW.

 

 

 

Ford Fusion

At first glance, you would easily assume this vehicle to be from the Aston Martin stable. This is due to the grill of the Fusion having stark similarities to the Aston one and the smooth lines of the bonnet adding exclusivity. Unfortunately, if you were expecting a V8 motor, prepare for disappointment as the Fusion comes with a 1,6-litre four-cylinder motor that at best hums. So, enough with the comparison.

pgFordOct2015

The Fusion is an all-new world vehicle from Ford, in the medium family sedan category. The vehicle not only looks different and fresh, but so is the technology. On the looks side, this is a vehicle that you will be noticed in, and not only because of the grill. The suave lines from the front to the back, together with perfectly chiselled headlights, give it a somewhat of a classy look, almost James Bond-ish. The rear end has been well finished; the front, however, lacks a certain refinement, in my opinion. Although the test vehicle was not the best colour (reddish burgundy – again my personal opinion), it sure did catch many an onlooker. I can imagine a black or charcoal would look incredible. The overall size of the vehicle also gives it a sense of presence. The oversized front doors make entry and exit an absolute breeze. The luggage space is ample for almost any family vacation. The one disappointment is that the boot lid feels like it was made of soft drink cans, with its tinny cluck when you push it closed.

Fortunately the doors, although light, have a much better feel to them. The interior is spacious and airy. The dashboard is neat and not overly complicated. The dials are clear to read and most controls feel well placed, but this being Ford they have their own place for certain things, like the cruise control and radio controls on the steering wheel column. The controls do take some getting used to, especially the early warning collision sensors. This was quite an irritation at first as they were set to early warning or more like very, very early warning. So, with me driving like a typical Jo’burger, the car constantly beeped and a red light on the top section in front of the driver constantly flashed. As soon as I managed to set it to a less sensitive setting, I started to enjoy not having a backseat driver. There is also the option to shut off the function, but then all that technology is just wasted.

The rear seat passengers sit in pure comfort with leg room that rivals premium economy on certain flights.

On the road, the vehicle drives so smoothly that you could very well be on a flight. It tackles uneven roads without a fuss and is well footed for its size. On hard acceleration the car does tend to have some wheel spin before traction control slows everything down. The steering wheel was light and it was easy to manoeuvre the vehicle, although there is not much feedback. The 1,6-litre engine was a real gem: I actually thought it was a two litre until I checked the specs. So there is ample power but don’t plan on towing anything big, as there is not a whole lot of torque.

This new vehicle from Ford will make an impact on the market, and if some of the smaller issues are sorted out, I believe that this could be the vehicle that takes honours as the top-selling medium-size family vehicle worldwide. The Fusion has everything a family is looking for: space, power, and economy and let’s not forget the sporty looks. This is one to consider if you’re in the market for this type of vehicle.

MANUFACTURER SPECIFICATIONS

BMW 225i Active Tourer

Engine: 2,0L  4-cylinder   Turbo

Power: 170 kW

Torque: 350 Nm

0–100 km/h: 6,6 s (claimed)

Fuel: Average 5,9 l /100 km

CO2: 138 g/km

Price: From R449 000

Author: Torque Talk is a member of SAGMJ

Ford Fusion

Engine: 1,5L 4-cylinder Turbo

Power: 132 kW

Torque: 240 Nm

0–100 km/h: 9,2 s (claimed)

Fuel: Average 7,4 L/100 km

CO2: 173 g/km

Price: From R349 900