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Honda has its sights firmly set on claiming hot hatch supremacy with the introduction of the new Civic Type-R. Thankfully, those days are gone and Honda has developed a new, more powerful turbocharged weapon that picks a fight with almost every hot hatch on the road, including the insanely capable (but-soon-to-be-discontinued) Renault Megane RS 275 Trophy. The exterior appearance of the Civic Type-R leaves nothing to the imagination: it is built for speed. Using a mono-scroll turbocharger in conjunction with VTEC technology, the Civic Type-R is capable of achieving 100 kph from standstill in 5.7 seconds with a significant top speed of 270 kph. On start-up, the Civic Type-R delivers a distinct thrum from its four-pipe exhaust system, reminding you of the power that lurks beneath the bonnet. The Civic Type-R offers more than enough power for the average motorist driving in the city.
With much of the emphasis placed on performance, we expected the Civic Type-R be heavily compromised in terms ride comfort. Although a degree of torque steer is evident during hard driving, the Type-R is fitted with dual-axis strut front suspension that reduces torque steer significantly and helps the vehicle to dive into corners at speed, while inspiring utter confidence in its driver. The downside to all of this magic is that in +R mode, the Civic Type-R becomes considerably less comfortable to drive as the suspension is simply too stiff and driving becomes more physical and tiring. Thankfully, the Type-R balances its performance characteristics by offering a solid dose of practicality. In terms of safety, the Civic Type-R comes well equipped with ABS with EBD, traction control, stability control and a total of six airbags fitted as standard. The Honda Civic Type-R is a phenomenal piece of machinery and hardcore enthusiasts will appreciate what Honda has created here. Gero Lilleike is a published writer and photographer with most of his work appearing in the fields of travel and motoring. It is made in Thailand, has a bold Fiat badge on the snout and rear, but underneath it’s actually a (next-generation) Mitsubishi Triton. While we didn’t sample the off-road prowess of the Fiat Fullback in Italy, the specification document and marketing material suggest it has the basics properly covered. The 208 is one of Peugeot’s most popular models internationally and the facelifted version sees the introduction of a number of interior and exterior improvements, as well as a new turbocharged engine. Compact hatchbacks are tremendously popular in South Africa and buyers in this segment have a variety of products to choose from. The most important change to the 208 product lineup is the introduction of a new 3-cylinder, 1.2-litre turbocharged engine that powers this rather attractive GT Line version (test unit finished in Nacre White). Being one of the sportier members in the 208 range, the GT Line derivative is equipped with a number of features that set it apart from the rest of the lineup.
The sportiness continues on the inside where you will find a predominantly black and red combination cabin that’s premium in look and feel. With its well-weighted steering, the 208 GT Line feels sure-footed and the ride quality is reasonably comfortable; it adequately deals with imperfections in the road. When compared with its rivals, the 208 GT Line comes out on top in terms of boot space (311 litres) and that's with a full-size spare wheel in place. Rear passengers will be reasonably comfortable in the back with decent leg, head and shoulder room. The 208 1.2T GT Line auto excels in the safety department and comes equipped with ABS with EBD, Emergency Brake Assist, traction control, electronic stability control and a total of six airbags. The Peugeot 208 GT Line is a well-packaged product that will appeal to a fashion-conscious clientele in particular.
Although the Peugeot 208 1.2T GT Line auto is appealing in many ways, its pricing is uncompetitive.
Ford has brought the new Figo to market in South Africa and it’s now available as a 5-door hatchback or 4-door sedan with petrol and diesel models on offer! The new Figo is here to conquer the sub B-Segment and Ford is casting its net far and wide by offering the popular model in two body styles in petrol and diesel form and with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions.
The launch of the new Figo took place on the outskirts of Johannesburg this week and we were there to give it a go! In terms of technology, the Figo Ambiente and Trend models are fitted with MyFord Dock for the first time and allows the driver to dock their mobile phones, MP3 players or satellite navigation systems which is then integrated into the car’s entertainment system.
In terms of safety, the new Figo features a strengthened passenger cell with dual front airbags fitted as standard while the Figo Titanium is fitted with a total of six airbags. The launch route took us in the vicinity of Hartebeespoort Dam with the road surface being notoriously poor.


Overall, our first impressions of the new Figo are positive and the extended offering across the range will in all likelihood boost customer interest and have a knock-on effect on sales going forward. This adage certainly applied to the previous iteration of the (naturally aspirated) Civic Type-R, which, although it looked purposeful, was outgunned by turbocharged rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST.
The tables have certainly turned, but does the new Civic Type-R offer enough clout without demanding too many compromises from its owner? The large rear spoiler and diffuser provide extra downforce while at the front, the sculpted grille and bumper enhance aerodynamic performance.
Enthusiasts are in for a treat with 228 kW and 400 Nm powering the front wheels through a short-throw 6-speed manual transmission. The Civic Type-R can be driven sedately with effort, but it soon becomes evident that the car is wired for spirited driving. Overtaking and nipping through traffic is easily achieved and sufficient power is always available to the driver, regardless of what gear you find yourself in. We were surprised, however, to find that the car offered reasonable levels of comfort and the suspension wasn’t as stiff as we initially thought. With the +R mode activated, the illumination of the instrument dials changes from white to glowing red and the Type-R perks up for maximum performance.
For the average daily commute, +R mode makes no sense at all but for track sessions, it’s right on point. The high-backed bucket seats are more comfortable than one might expect and the generous side bolstering ensures optimum comfort when the Honda's pushing on through the bends. Most performance cars don’t cater well for rear seat passengers, but the Type-R is different. It’s a thrilling and involving car to drive and although it offers decent levels of practicality and space, the Type-R is just too specialised for the average daily commute. Gero has worked in the motoring space for the last four years and enjoys driving and photographing the latest cars. South Africa will receive single- and double-cab models, 4x2 and 4x4, manual and automatic transmissions as well as a choice of either petrol or diesel powerplants. The Peugeot 208 competes with the Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, Opel Corsa and Mazda2, but whereas many of its rivals sell up a storm the 208 has never quite reached the same level of popularity here in Mzansi, which is probably due to a combination of boutique appeal and a small dealer footprint.
Comfy and well bolstered GT Line sports seats are upholstered in half-leather with contrasting stitching. The door pockets are practically shaped to store odds and ends and there are two cupholders provided for the rear passengers. It's a pity because the French-made hatchback is better than its competitors in terms of torque output and luggage capacity. Customers can also choose between three trim levels to suit their needs and these include Ambiente, Trend and Titanium.
Titanium models get a touch of chrome detailing on the headlights giving the Figo a more premium look. Air conditioning is fitted to cool you down on those sweltering days and automatic climate control is offered on Titanium models. For higher levels of integration, Ford’s SYNC in-car connectivity system is available on Titanium models only. The engines can be paired with either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic transmission which is only available for Titanium hatchback and sedan models. ABS is standard too and Titanium models benefit further from Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and Hill Launch Assist. We managed to sample the new Figo in both hatchback and sedan guise but we only had time to drive the petrol Titanium derivatives fitted with the 6-speed PowerShift automatic transmission. In both the hatchback and sedan, the 6-speed automatic did a fair job of scooting the Figo around.
With its Electronic Power Assisted Steering (EPAS), the steering lightens up at low speed and gets heavier as speed increases. That’s not to say that the Type-R was a disappointment, quite the opposite actually, but it did lack that edge and as a result, it found itself eating rubber on the periphery of the hot hatch circle. A by-product of all this aerodynamic paraphernalia is a vehicle that looks decisively hardcore and, as a consequence, its styling may polarise opinion.
The line between a leisurely drive and face-melting drive is a fine one and even moderate inputs from the driver results in rapid acceleration.
Stopping power is initiated with large 350 mm high-performance Brembo brakes and the Civic Type-R rides on 19-inch alloy wheels shod with Type-R-specific Continental SportContact 6 tyres for maximum grip.


This development can be attributed to the new Adaptive Damper System fitted to the Type-R that enhances stability and suppleness of the ride.
High speed cornering is something the Type-R does brilliantly and not only is the steering direct and precise, but the hot hatchbank grips the road so prodigiously that drivers will be inspired to push the their limits further with each turn behind the wheel. The engine becomes noticeably more responsive and the torque-mapping is altered to allow for more grunt at lower engine speeds. It’s far better suited for days on the track, where it will provide endless hours of thrills.
For the bakkie customisation aficionados there will be a complete range of Mopar accessories which will give your Fullback that hardcore look.
The recently facelifted 208 is much improved inside and out, but is that enough to gain traction in this competitive segment?
There are smatterings of chrome detailing, including the exhaust end, and rear privacy glass is also fitted.
Some buyers value style over everything else and they might be willing to fork out the extra cash for this derivative, but there is definitely better value for money in the rest of the 208 range. The overall look has been further enhanced with curved lines and a swept-back windscreen and A-pillars that improve aerodynamic performance and fuel efficiency. Storage space in the cabin has been improved too and the Figo has at least 20 storage spaces dotted around the cabin for your convenience. It was quickly noted that the engine takes strain under hard acceleration and the automatic transmission takes its time to decide what gear it needs to be in as the revs climb. The steering felt direct and responsive out on the road making the Figo easy to drive and manoeuvre. The downfall of this setup is that the turning circle is significantly widened making manoeuvring in narrow spaces more difficult. The Type-R handles beautifully and only the very best drivers will be able to unlock and exploit its true capability. The reality is that, for the price, the Type-R doesn’t make much sense and buyers can get there performance kicks from more balanced products such as the Volkswagen Golf R, BMW M135i and Renault Megane RS Trophy 275. We drove the petrol motor and despite being three-up with about 500kg of cargo in the load bay, performance was eager and willing. The leather-wrapped flat-bottomed steering wheel is small and can be adjusted for rake and reach and has mounted audio controls. For the driver and front passenger, there is a pair of cupholders and additional storage can be found ahead of the gear lever as well as the refrigerated glove box. 14-inch steel wheels with wheel covers are standard on Ambiente models while alloy wheels are fitted as standard on Trend and Titanium derivatives. These include two bottle holders in the front doors, three cup holders, rear passenger bin and a large glovebox. On the bumpy roads around Hartebeespoort Dam, the new Figo managed to even out imperfections reasonably well and it felt composed despite poor road conditions.
The Type-R is therefore less of a city slicker and more of a high-performance track weapon. A host of track tools such a G-force meter and lap and sprint timers are available to the driver as well.
The black seatbelts also feature red detailing and the pedals have an aluminium finish, as do the doors sills.
Ford MyKey is also offered on Titanium models and allows the owner to set restrictions on things like maximum speed limit, radio volume levels and seatbelt warnings. The Figo automatic seemed to prefer being driven with a lighter foot and once up to speed, the Figo actually cruises along nicely. With its short shift action, the driver can initiate quick gear changes under hard acceleration and the transmission is suitably matched to extract maximum performance from the engine. For driver’s looking for a bit more engagement, the 5-speed manual may be better in terms extracting the most out of the engine.
The automatic however will appeal to people looking for a relaxed, no-fuss solution for commuting in the city.



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