So on that note - this is less an overall report and more of a gallery of new factory cars, classics, race cars - I won’t even get to touch on the experiences like track driving and 4x4 courses. I will however have time to discuss three of the cars I spent most of my time with.
2018 Suzuki Jimny
The previous Jimny was about as endearing as a rescue puppy and the car set to replace it even more so. All the stylistic heritage markers are here - that clamshell bonnet harking back to the original SJ as well as square slats ala current Jimny.
The newer, squarer car is 5mm higher - and that's without roof rails. It comes with several options options for mounting things. Aesthetically a box, higher and wider but compact and capacious with vertical side windows and a really modern and fresh interior featuring a neat and uncluttered dash.
We've not been terribly impressed with the multimedia offerings of Suzukis overall so are relieved to note that the Jimny is the first Suzuki to arrive with new SLDA smartphone pairing via touchscreen.
I've said it before, Suzuki know how to package a lot of car and a lot of space onto a tiny footprint - this one is certainly more livable with 55 mm taller seats and better bolstering. There's utility space aplenty and again, those mounting points for racks and offroad addenda if that's your sort of thing. Rear arches do not intrude on the luggage area this time around which again translates into more space.
Suzuki claims this is their most capable Jimny yet, which is a bold claim since its offroad cred was already skyscraper high - now featuring greater entry, break-over and departure angles, a 3-link rigid axle and stiffer ladder frame, 'Wheel Brake LSD' and traction control. Power is rated at 75kw and 135Nm from an all-new 1.5 litre engine. You can have yours in 5 speed manual or 4 speed auto flavours with ESP, TECT and dual airbags. It comes in three trim levels - GA spec ESP, aircon etc), GLX and GLX Auto (cruise control, alloy wheels touchscreen). I want one desperately.
|Jimny GA ||R265,000.00|
|Jimny GLX ||R300,000.00|
|Jimny GLX Auto||R320,000.00|
2018 Renault Duster
It's here - the new Duster now with styling brought in line with the latest Renault face. This is now to the new Sandero what its predecessor was to the old one. A bigger offroad version that much like the Jimny favoured function over form.
This one's different, still clearly a Duster with strong visual ties to the Sandero, which itself has grown more premium. It's the same here with new 17 inch wheels, updated roof rails and notable front and rear skid plates all like tinsel atop a completely redesigned exterior.
It offers C-segment amounts of space, is a capable offroader with 210mm ground clearance, 30deg/33deg approach and departure angles and Hill descent control at 10kph.
The cabin receives a new interior finished in piano black, with a raised and tilted screen for the driver's benefit. There's more quality and comfort here than before, a better multimedia experience, smart phone mirroring and even Blindspot detection. There's also a Multi view camera for offroading and parking and manoeuvring in town - not to mention Climate control on the flagship model. Also on the top derivative you will get keyless entry and a 4x4 monitor - proper.
The original Duster looked tough but was expected to fall apart in harsh Mzansi conditions. It surprised everyone by being as tenacious as it looked. We loved it. It was a tough act to follow but Renault have just done so, resoundingly we might add. Sadly, no price had been revealed just yet.
2018 Peugeot 5008
Look, cars change - and sometimes as is the case of the Peugeot 5008 that can entail transcending one segment to another.
What used to be an MPV is now an SUV complete with seven seats and classy Eurocentric styling. In this new format it is 95kg lighter than the bus it replaces, comes in Active and Allure trim levels, plus a top-spec GT Line.
You can have one with a 2.0 HDI 110kW engine with a six-speed transmission, with carbon emissions at 124g/km on Auto, and 125g/km on Manual. Visually it is as striking as the smaller 3008 (also on display along with the 308 hatch) we reviewed earlier this year, but being the flagship C-Segment SUV it has all been dialed up to 11.
Plush, smart and loaded with electronics and safety features. What's not to love?