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The wheels that made 2017

2017-12-17 00:00

Melinda Ferguson and Justus Visagie

The Lexus LC500. Picture: Supplied

Cape Town - #Trending car writers Melinda Ferguson and Justus Visagie share the best and worst rides they tested this year.

Their list includes luxury SUVs such as the new Range Rover Velar to more down to earth hatchbacks such as the Hyundai Elantra sport. 

Melinda's top picks for 2017:

Lexus LC 500

R1 729 600

Combining breathtaking beauty, powerful performance and cutting edge exclusivity, the Lexus LC 500 – a 5.0 litre naturally aspirated V8 grand touring coupe has everything to get a discerning petrolhead hot and sweaty. Rocketing from 0-100km/h in less than 4.7 seconds, the drive is both silky smooth and exhilaratingly theatrical.

In my books it has one of the best sound systems created. The front air intake is designed as an echo chamber to maximise sound, so when the active exhaust kicks in, you’re in for a symphony of growls and roars, to send you straight to acoustic car heaven.

Suzuki Ignis - R189 900

In today’s pricey car market, it’s rare to find a great drive for under R200 000. Bring on the funky Suzuki Ignis with its two-tone striking looks and impressive driveability thanks to a 1.2 litre transverse four-cylinder engine.

And I’m not the only one singing its praises. Selected as one of the 10 finalists in the upcoming SA Guild of Motoring Journalists 2018 SA Car of the Year competition, the Ignis is packed with surprises, including a nifty touchscreen multimedia system, trendy interior design trim and impressive fuel consumption of 5.1 litres/100km.

Range Rover Velar - from R947 700

What a car. What an incredible feat in aesthetics in what has been widely described as the most beautiful SUV in the world. The Velar oozes glamour, technical mastery and world-class performance.

Standing proud between the Range Rover Evoque and mighty RR Sport, the Velar is a maestro on and off road with motorised door handles, and luxurious leather and suede, it’s an SUV that showcases a buttonless future with state-of-the-art technology integrated into its world-first touch pro duo infotainment system. I want one.

Melinda’s worst car?

Tata Bolt - From R157 995

Although design-wise there’s been significant improvement in the new Tata Bolt, overall this little hatch needs to up its game before it can compete in the same segment as its rivals, the Polo Vivo and Suzuki Swift.

On test, strange noises emanated from the steering shaft when parking. It stalls easily and definitely is averse to cold morning starts. Opening the boot feels very last century, as it requires having to pull a lever inside or manually open it with a key. Most concerning was that windscreen wiper fluid spontaneously erupted when reaching speeds of over 100km/h... damn.

Justus' picks:

Hyundai Elantra 1.6 Turbo Elite Sport - R400 000

Sport sedans are wonderful things. They marry four-door practicality with sports car-like performance. The BMW 3 Series is the quintessential sports sedan, but the 320i with sports-auto gearbox would set you back R585 000, before you add extras.

It’s a good thing then that the Hyundai Elantra Turbo Elite Sport offers similar performance, road-holding, refinement and interior space for about R200 000 less. It comes with something that will have you enjoying the car for many years; a five-year or 150 000km warranty on the car and seven years or 200 000km on the engine and gearbox.

Volvo S90 D5 AWD Momentum - R802 000

When people speak of premium cars they mention Merc, BMW and Audi, Jaguar and Lexus. But Volvo? It was in a no-man’s land between Volkswagen and Audi. Finally, that has changed. The Volvo S90 is better to drive than the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes E-Class.

It strikes the perfect balance between driver involvement and serenity. It outclasses the cars mentioned here when it comes to advanced safety. It brakes itself if the driver accidentally turns into the path of an oncoming car at an intersection.

Clio 88kW Turbo GT-Line - R268 000

Renault makes some of the best hot hatches, like the Mégane RS and Clio RS. But again, these have been catapulted out of most consumers’ car budgets. For example, the Clio RS is priced at a painful R435 000. Fear not, car enthusiast, as Renault introduced the Clio GT-Line this year.

Although the engine’s output of 88kW and 205Nm seem modest, it only has to move about a ton – the weight of this Clio. Add excellent suspension and a slick manual gearbox with a solid, brushed aluminium gearknob and you have something special – at a more accessible price.

Justus’ worst car?

Land Rover Discovery HSE Td6 - R1 207 400

The new Discovery HSE Td6 is powerful, refined and luxurious. From what I’ve seen it’s capable off-road too. I didn’t drive it over rough terrain, since it was wearing huge alloy wheels with low-profile tyres that would have been easily damaged – and smaller, more practical wheels weren’t available. The seats behind the driver are lower than before.

If you sit here, it’s likely your backside will be lower than your knees and that could become uncomfortable over long distances. The Disco’s essence has changed from off-road family car to a sporty car for smoother roads and shorter distances. In other words, it’s a clone of the Range Rover Sport.


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