Motoring news of the week:
Volkwagen has launched its most powerful Golf in South Africa. The all-new, seventh generation Golf R is powered by a 2.0L turbocharged engine that produces 206kW and 380Nm of torque. It shares the same engine as the current Audi S3 and it is available in both manual and DSG transmissions.
Volkswagen claims that the Golf R DSG will sprint from 0-100kph in 5.0 seconds and reach a top speed of 250kph before the electronic buffer kicks in. The Golf R benefits from a bigger turbocharger and a 4WD system over the standard Golf GTI. The Golf R includes a Haldex system which assists to scrub off any under or oversteer.
The Golf R is 20mm lower than its predecessor and rides on a reconfigured sport suspension. Standards R-exclusive bits include special bumpers and side sills, 19” rims, bi-xenon headlights, and twin tailpipes on either side of the rear diffuser, among others. It also includes leather sports seats, leather-trimmed three-spoke sport steering wheel, and a touchscreen controlled audio system.
Alas, due to a weaker Rand, the Golf R launches in South Africa at R469 000 for the manual version. The DSG will set you back a further R17 000.
Road Test: Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.6 Overland
The current Jeep Grand Cherokee has boosted the iconic American company’s status in the lifestyle SUV segment of the market. Thegandra Naidoo puts the Overland specification to the test.
I’ve never been a fan of American vehicles. Not that they’re unreliable, but, who would forgo a luxury German car for a “plastic” American car? For many years, Jeep was convinced that their products were better than any other rival models. It made perfect sense, but only in the American automotive market. However, what Jeep didn’t realise, was that the German and Japanese marques were gaining market share in the USA with bigger their seemingly better products.
It’s been a tumultuous time ever since for American car makers over the last decade. Jeep’s parent company, Chrysler, was on the verge of bankruptcy not too long ago. So too, were General Motors, who were in a desperate need of cash injection. Thankfully, Fiat came to Chrysler’s rescue, injecting in billions of Dollars
It was a cash-intensive investment for the Italian company, but it has started to bear fruit. Thanks to Fiat’s head-honcho, Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler now has the necessary funding to develop better products and slowly win back market share in key markets.
One of the key models that have been developed under the Fiat/Chrysler relationship is the current Jeep Grand Cherokee range. It’s been developed to offer comfort and be used as a lifestyle vehicle when needed.
Getting cushy on the inside
The interior is a vast improvement over previous models. It doesn’t feel like an older American vehicle. Courtesy of soft-touch materials and leather clad across the dashboard, you would believe that you’re in a luxury German SUV.
This vehicle competes with the likes of the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado and we’d go as far as saying that the interior build and quality if top-notch. The interior comprises of a real wood inlays, a Harman Kardon audio system and, a command-view sunroof.
The Overland specification level is quite luxurious and the list of bells-and-whistles. These include keyless entry, satnav, rear-view camera, DVD screens in the front seats’ headrests, leather-trimmed heated seats, leather trimmed console, 20” wheels and, bi-xenon headlamps and LED daytime running lights.
What’s it like to drive?
My test unit was powered by a 3.6L V6 PentaStar petrol engine which produces a healthy 210kW and 347Nm of torque. More impressively, the engine compares well up against its competitor, the Toyota Prado 4.0L V6 with 202kW and 381Nm of torque.
During my test period, which included a lot of city driving, the on-board computer indicated an average consumption of just over 13-litres/100km. While Jeep claims a highway consumption of less than 10-litre/100km, during my drive to Rustenburg, I averaged 11.2-litres/100km.
That’s pretty impressive, considering that we were five-up in the vehicle. One of the key components of Grand Cherokee is its ability to lower its ride height at 120kph, to improve on the aerodynamics and lower fuel consumption.
The engine is smooth and it has plenty grunt to overtake. It isn’t the fastest off the line with a 0-100kph coming up in 9.1 seconds and, it will also only reach a top speed of 206kph. There are various engine options in the Grand Cherokee range, which includes a 5.7L Hemi V8 petrol and, the 3.0L turbodiesel with 177kW and a massive 550Nm of torque.
For performance enthusiasts, there’s also the beastly SRT8 which sprints from 0-100kph in 5.0 seconds and a top speed of 257kph.
Jeep 4×4 heritage
The Grand Cherokee will tackle the off-road with its Selec-Terrain and Quadra Lift off-road systems. Most people might doubt its off-roading capabilities because it now features an all-round independent suspension, but that hasn’t meant that the Grand Cherokee has become a softy.
The specialises Selec-Terrain system is similar to the hose on the Land Rover Discovery which allows the driver to adjust the ride height and to enable the vehicle to tackle mud, snow and rock surfaces as needed.
Alas, I never to play on the off-road but I have been told that the Grand Cherokee is more than capable. I’ve been told by fellow journalist that it’s true to its Jeep heritage and, it has the ability to tackle the toughest of off-roading trails.
Pricing is key this segment
The Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.6 Overland, which we drove, is currently priced at R742 000. That’s a lot of money for an SUV, but it worth noting the high levels of standard equipment, which is often only available as optional extras on competitor models. The equivalent Toyota Land Cruiser Prado is priced at R728 000. The Jeep Grand Cherokee price includes a 6-year/100 000km premium maintenance plan.
The new Jeep Grand Cherokee is now a truly luxurious vehicle that can hold its own against competitors like a Toyota Prado and Land Rover Disco 4. It’s the sort of vehicle that makes me want to change my perception about American vehicles. If I was on the market for an SUV with all the bells-and-whistles, it will certainly be a worthy consideration.