It's Drive Time

By Stuart Johnston

Hyundai introduces their trendy new coupé, the Veloster

Look Who’s Looking at You

HYUNDAI’S success in the South African market has been little short of phenomenal. With huge sales successes seeing them vie for the Number Two spot with Toyota in the passenger division. Yet one of the components the company has been lacking has been a high-style, trendy conveyance. The type of car you’d cruise Camps Bay with, your head at right angles to the road as you check out crowd reaction. Well, the VELOSTER, a coupé based pretty much on i30 mechanicals, fits that bill. And it’s a coupé with a difference as it has three, rather than two, doors. The driver’s side has only one portal, but rear passengers enter via the pavement-side door.

The interior fittings are of good quality and the styling in the cabin is based, intriguingly, on themes developed by studying performance motorcycles. That’s why the air vents resemble a bike’s tailpipes, while the console has somewhat tenuous connections to the shape of a two-wheeled fuel tank. Mechanically it uses a direct injection, 103kW version of the i30 engine, and comes in six-speed manual and six-speed Dual Clutch (semi-automatic) transmission versions. Prices start at R259 900 for the manual model.

Better Looking, More Efficient and More Competitive Hybrid

TOYOTA’S new AURIS HYBRID has made its debut here, and it’s getting more fuel-efficient all the time. The latest consumption figures claimed for the five-seater hatchback are 3,9 litres/100km and low, low CO2 emissions of just 87grams/km.

In the real world you could expect a consumption of around 5,8 litres/100km if Good Taste’s experience of claimed average figures are anything to go by. That’s still a good figure, though, and easily comparable to the best diesels. 

Taking cognisance of many critics of the previous Hybrid CVT transmission systems—which emit an unpleasant droning sound from the (petrol) engine under long uphill hauls—Toyota has employed new electronics to give a “smoother, more natural feeling to vehicle acceleration, with a closer relationship between vehicle speed and engine revs”. That’s according to the official Toyota press blurb on the new car. 

It’s certainly better looking and, at R297 900, it’s much more price-competitive than earlier hybrid offerings.

Volvo’s putting cyclists as ease with their Cyclist Detection system

Dreams of Argus Cyclists

First it was pedestrian detection. Now it’s cyclist detection. VOLVO has developed a system for automatically braking its cars when a cyclist swerves in front of one of these solid hunks of Swedish steel. Yes, that’s right. All cars equipped with pedestrian detection will now come with CYCLIST DETECTION, too. The system uses “rapid vision processing” which scans the area ahead, and if a cyclist heading in the same direction as the car suddenly swerves out to the middle of the road, full braking is applied on the Volvo.

The system consists of a radar unit integrated into the grille, a camera fitted in front of the rearview mirror, and a central control unit. Cyclist detection will be available here on all 2014 MY Volvos by the end of 2013.

The Chinese Are Getting Serious

Good Taste’s motoring scribe recently spent a week with the best Chinese vehicle currently available on the South African market, the FOTON TUNLAND. It’s a double cab diesel pick-up competing against the likes of Toyota’s Hilux and Ford’s Ranger—only cheaper. Much cheaper.

We had the 4x2 version, which uses a 2,8-litre Cummins diesel engine—arguably the Tunlad’s best feature—one of the most potent in its class at 120kW and 360Nm of torque (only the Ford Ranger Xl 2,2 comes close). And it delivered surprisingly good fuel economy. We used it mainly for highway commuting owing to business pressures, and it registered 7,8 litres/100km on the trip computer.

Foton’s Tunland is competing with the big boys

It has a very well-built interior, no frills, just an aura of competence, and an excellent chassis with very low levels of noise, vibration and harshness. The ride quality is impressive, too, over both tar and dirt. Not as enjoyable, though, is the steering, which is very low-geared and gives the initial impression of being vague. However, the driver becomes used to it, and in fact the steering is accurate at highway speeds, but merely requires more steering wheel rotation than one is used to in, say, a modern hatchback.

The Tunland 4x2 Double Cab costs R249 950, looks great in a conservative golf-shirt sort of manner, and is some R100 000 less expensive than a similarly spec-ed Toyota Hilux. Ford’s Ranger, though, costs only R50 000 more. The Chinese are getting serious.