Battle of the Dinosaurs

The new Ford F-150 Raptor has been announced for the next model year and it brings some updated styling and probably more power. As standard, you’ll get the normal Raptor with the 3.5L Twin-Turbo EcoBoost V6 producing around 360KW and 730NM. But, for the following model year, there will be a Raptor R which is reported to have a 500KW V8. Whether it will be a 5.0L Coyote V8, the 5.2L Voodoo V8 or the 7.3L Godzilla V8, either of them with a supercharger or twin-turbos, we don’t know yet.

The reason for the Raptor R is most likely because fans of the pick-up really wanted a V8, but mostly because Dodge built the new RAM TRX – which stands for T-ReX, because the Americans do that sort of thing (see the Dodge Challenger Demon and Hennessey Exorcist). The RAM TRX has the ever-awesome supercharged 6.2L Hellcat V8 producing 526KW and 850NM. It is quite frankly magnificent!

Chevy on the other hand, seems not to have bothered to join the party. It’s probably a good thing, because the Silverado is a bland pick-up. The only good thing is the diesel V8 in the biggest 3500 trim, with the dually wheels at the back. The front is too flat and the current generation is ugly to look at. It can however, tow a really big anvil for when the one in your blacksmith shop just won’t do (I don’t know either, must be an American thing).

So in the Battle of the Dinosaurs, I think the TRX wins. Yes, the Raptor is a cool pick-up and it is probably more user friendly and easier to live with day-to-day, but the RAM has a Hellcat in it. I mean, how could you not love the whole idea?! Now if only it could have been rear-wheel-drive…

Now a word from our sponsor: Me. Every year, thousands of V8s are killed by emissions regulations forcing car manufacturers to downsize their engines. Help end the suffering.

Don’t hate – adopt a V8!

©2020 Michael De Kock 

Michael de Kock is a Psychology graduate, busy doing a National Certificate in Motor Mechanics to get more skilled, because he struggles to get a job in this day and age. Can you believe that? I can’t…

Cadillacs are for Old People. Yeah, right!

What do you get when you put an uprated version of the Corvette Z06’s engine, a luxurious Cadillac saloon and a chocolate ice-cream together? The answer? The most powerful production Cadillac ever mass produced! And a chocolate ice-cream.

The new Cadillac V cars have been announced for the 2022 model year. I have to say, I am really excited. First up is the new CT4-V Blackwing (the red one). It is about the size of a 3-Series and C-Class, which makes sense as it was built to do battle with them. It has a 3.6L Twin-Turbo V6 producing 350KW and 600NM. It looks really good with the angular design language of Cadillac and that large ducktail spoiler on the boot.

Next up is the new CT5-V Blackwing (the white one). It has a supercharged 6.2L V8 from the Corvette Z06 and Camaro ZL1, however in this application it produces 498KW and 890NM of torque going to just the rear wheels, making it the most powerful production Cadillac ever. Fitting that it is most likely the last petrol-powered one.

Next up is the new CT5-V Blackwing (I cannot decide if the name is silly or just plain awesome. I’m leaning towards the latter). It has a supercharged 6.2L V8 from the Corvette Z06 and Camaro ZL1, however in this application it produces 498KW and 890NM of torque going to just the rear wheels, making it the most powerful production Cadillac ever. Fitting that it is most likely the last petrol-powered one.

The most surprising of all of this is that both cars come with a manual as standard. Yes, hugely powerful, manual Caddy Vs. Who would’ve thunk it?! The most powerful Cadillac ever comes with a manual as standard! I cannot get over how cool that is! Yes, you can get the 10-speed auto if you want and that is probably the one Hennessey would ask you to pick if you want to make your hugely powerful, M5 and E63S top speed beating Caddy even more powerful. I, however, would just leave it – mostly – stock and tinker with the exhaust a bit to make it sound even more ridiculous than it is.

Unfortunately, they are both quite expensive, starting at $60k for the CT4-V and $84K for the CT5-V, which can go up to $125k when loaded with options. The other unfortunate thing is that apparently all of them have already been sold out. Jip, the only way you’ll get one now is if you pay an astronomic amount of money to the first owner who pushed up the price ridiculously high – as they do in the US of A with limited-run muscle cars (see Dodge Challenger Demon).

I’ve always liked the V Cadillacs. Since the first CTS-V in the early 2000s, to the one James May hated and then loved, to the more modern one before Chevy bungled all the names about. Cadillacs in general have this aura of luxury about them, but that is almost still achievable – like Jaguar. You could have a second-hand one for much less than the original owner bought it for, plus you’ll look rich (I’m betting Cadillacs’ services are cheaper than Jaguar’s though).

Stuffing the engine from a sports/muscle/super car (whatever the Corvette is these days. See a previous blog) into a big saloon car sounds stupid and unnecessary, but in reality it is one of the most awesome things a car manufacturer could do. I was hoping for the 560KW (755HP) Supercharged LT5 V8 from the C7 Corvette ZR1, but then Cadillac put a manual in it and the world was filled with hope again.

The V8’s days are numbered and that is a sad thing. Let’s enjoy them for as long as possible before they disappear into the history books to be replaced by hybridised 4-cylinders and electric motors (looking at you, AMG!).

Only you have the power (and money) to help! Save a life. Adopt a V8.

©2021 Michael De Kock 

Michael de Kock is a Psychology-graduated job-seeking petrolhead nerd (who’s currently on his way to becoming motor mechanic if he can figure out the math), fascinated by wooden tulips and generally thinks too much about cars.

What the Imagination Can Do With Four Wheels and an Engine

This is going to be a quick one about my three favourite concept cars that – obviously – never made it to production.

First off, the SAAB Aero-X.It is an awesome thing with its interesting door design that opens the entire roof of the car and the doors that go with it that would have been unique and exciting – if it made it to production. Impractical? Of course it is! It’s a concept! But that’s what made it brilliant! Yes, it only has a 2.8L Turbo V6 with a top speed of 158kph (my BMW 118i goes way faster), but it looked futuristic, still does even today, almost 15 years later. Throw a European V8 in there or maybe a couple of Tesla or Rimac electric motors and you would have a car to contend with.

Secondly, the BMW CS Vintage. It was never prototyped and remains nothing more than a render sitting on a server somewhere in Munich, but it is absolutely gorgeous. It is based on the previous 6-Series Coupe. No word on engines, but it would have probably had the 6-Series’ line-up. It was styled to be a homage to the legendary BMW E9 of the 1970s with its signature roof angled front end and Hofmeister Kink. Imagine building a limited run of it based on the new 8-Series platform, but with an even more luxurious feel, like a Rolls Royce with a BMW badge. It even comes with a smaller version of the controversial vertical kidney grille. Plus, the simplistic interior is exactly what is needed in today’s over-styled interiors (I’m looking at you, Mercedes!). I’d have one in a heartbeat.

Lastly, it is a car that was prototyped, driven, and even road-tested by James May. It also occasionally appears at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It is – of course – the 2003 Cadillac Sixteen Concept. It is a magnificent American barge of a car where four people can sit comfortably and one of those four has the power of a 13.6L V16 producing (at least) 746KW and (at least) 1356NM of torque under their right foot, all without a single whisper of forced induction. It has all this power and torque, but thanks to cylinder deactivation technology, it can run on 4 cylinders under normal driving allowing the 2.3 tonne car to get an average of 14L/100km, or 16mpg US. That’s not bad for a 13.6L naturally aspirated V16. I’d gladly pay for the fuel. Although I imagine when you put your foot down, that figure drops significantly – and I have quite a heavy right foot…

The question now is, if I had the money to have one of these three cars custom built, which one would it be? Well, whilst I love the idea of having a beautiful, fast and luxurious modern BMW coupe inspired by the E9, my heart says the Cadillac. Yes, I’d need to build a garage to fit the nearly 6 meter long car into and yes, I’d need to stock up on fuel cards and yes, the maintenance on it would probably be astronomic, but it’s an awesome, one-of-a-kind car. Whilst I would have it custom built, I’d update the interior just a bit to stay in tune with modern cars. And then I would do all my road trips in it. Long ones…

©2020 Michael De Kock 

Michael de Kock is a recently graduated job-seeking petrolhead nerd, fascinated with avocados and generally quite tall.

The Most Awesomest Engine Ever!

The V8 Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) is a magnificent piece of engineering and is probably the engine with the most character. But before we get into that, a brief history: The first known V8 engine was built in 1904 and was called the Antoinette. It was built by Frenchman Léon Levevasseur for use in speedboats and airplanes. It weighed 86kg and had a whopping 37KW (50HP). In the same year, the V8 was put into small-scale production by Buchet and Renault for use in their airplanes and racing cars respectively. 031d5c33974d7b993f08a6b419bff12a

In 1905, the first V8 used in a motorcar was a 3.5L in the Rolls Royce V-8 however, they built three cars before reverting back to straight-sixes. Officially, the 1910 De Dion-Bouton was the first car to use the V8 in large quantities and the 1914 Cadillac ‘L-head’ V8 was considered to be the first mass-produced V8 engine. This engine was assisted by Cadillac’s pioneering use of the electric starter motor.

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Since then, the V8 engine flourished in popularity in a range of different sizes and outputs. In the USA, V8s were abundant and aided to the creation of various motorsports – the biggest being NASCAR (which pretty-much only Americans watch). Australia decided to throw their hat into the ring with Holden stuffing V8s into many of their cars, resulting in the popular V8 Supercars racing competition.

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The V8 became so popular that people started putting them into cars that really shouldn’t have them. Ford did this a lot. In South Africa, a company did it with the Mustang’s Windsor V8 in the Capri and called it the Capri Perana. Another one of these swaps was with the Sierra XR8 – an incredibly boring hatchback-sedan-type thing with one of the best noises I have ever heard. It’s absolutely glorious!

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Europe – not wanting to be left out – produced some of the best V8s in the world, with my absolute favourite being the M156 which was the first in-house engine from AMG. The glorious grumbly noise from the naturally-aspirated engine is just awesome! The same goes for the slightly tuned M159 in the SLS AMG (my all-time favourite car). BMW also have a good history with their V8s, with the most popular versions being in the E90 M3 and the M5 from the E39 generation onwards (excluding the E60 because of the impostor V10).

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Jaguar was behind a little bit, but eventually they caughtb the train with their AJ V8 engines which were even used by Ford. Morgan simply decided to ask for engines and thus got a contract with BMW for their 4, 6 and 8 cylinder engines. Finally, Aston Martin used the  Jaguar engines for its Vantage up until 2018 when they got AMG’s 4.0L for the new model. For the 2020 model year, one can order a V8 Vantage with a manual, making it the only manual application of the AMG M177. Awesome!

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Ferrari had their go with the V8 and it worked out brilliantly. From the 308 GTB to the new SF90 Stradale, the V8 engine (along with the symphonic V12) is the exploding heart of the Prancing Horse. Their naturally aspirated V8s are some of the highest revving road-car engines and everyone was suspicious when Ferrari announced they were going turbo-charged. It worked however, and it worked so well that people who drive the cars fitted with these engines say they feel no turbo-lag. The new SF90 has recently set the fastest lap of the Top Gear Test Track, beating the time set by a 488 Pista by 1.4 seconds. Granted, it has the same engine and power-output, but it comes with three extra electric motors, boosting it to 735KW (986HP), around 200KW more than the Pista.

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Maserati has also had its history with the V8, harking back to 1964 in the 5000GT. The best of the lot though is the Tipo F136 engine which was a Maserati/Ferrari collaboration. It was used in almost all Maserati’s between 2001 and 2019 – from the Coupe, Spyder and GranTurismo, to the Quattroporte. It was even put in the GranTurismo-based Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione and gorgeous Disco Volante limited production car. Ferrari used it in the F430, California and heavily altered in the 458. The best sounding applications of the engine however, are in the GranTurismo S and the Quattroporte S, where it is 4.7 litres of harmonious glory. I make a point of it to own a GranTurismo in whichever racing game it is featured in just to listen to the noise.

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As we all know, Volkswagen owns many, MANY different automakers – particularly Audi, Porsche and Bentley – which uses the same 4.0l Twin-Turbo V8 in their cars, albeit in different states of tune. The coolest applications being in the Audi RS6 Avant, RS7 and new Bentley Continental. Porsche boosts their version of the engine with additional electric motors in the e-hybrid trims for the Panamera and Cayenne, reaching an awe-inspiring 500KW out of it. My question thus is, why not put those versions in the larger Audi RS models? Imagine an RS6, RS7, S8 or even a new R8 with that much power.

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The USA is probably the V8 capital of the world with both the crappiest V8s ever made and the most powerful by far. The go-to engine for hot-rodding pretty-much anything is the Chevy LS3 6.2 N/A V8. It is hugely popular and really reliable with its straight-forward and simple design. However, the most popular V8 currently for sale is the Hellcat. A 6.2L Hemi with a HUGE supercharger sticking out the top producing a ridiculous stock power output of 526KW(707HP) and 850NM. Ask a tuning company nicely (and with money) and they’ll put an even bigger supercharger on bumping a 1000HP (750KW). Shocked emoticon. Luckily, we get the Hellcat here in South Africa, but only in the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, which is awesome, but costs a lot of money.

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To think, in the late 70s (during the oil crisis) you could get a 5.0L big-block with an ‘atmospheric’ 112KW. My 1.6L Turbo has more power than that. Even the 4.9L Turbo Trans Am used in the filming of Smokey and the Bandit II needed nitrous oxide boosting to get the desired power out of it. How sad it that?!

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Here in South Africa, we have a surprising amount of V8s to choose from – AMGs, Ms, RSs, Rs, SVs, SSs, GTs and VXs. A few years ago, you could even buy the coolest bakkie (pick-up truck), the awesome Aussie Chevrolet Lumina SSV Ute. It had a 5.7L and later a 6.0L with 270KW in stock form. However, if you look for one online now, many of them are supercharged and pushing 400KW (according to the seller that is). Now the only V8 bakkie you can get, is Toyota’s incredibly generic and vastly outdated Land Cruiser 70 with the 4.5L turbo Diesel V8 – producing a pithy 150KW and 430NM – for the astronomical price of almost a million Rand. My dad’s Hyundai Santa Fé produces approximately the same power from its 2.2L Inline-4 Turbodiesel and didn’t even cost a quarter of that!

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I’d like to someday soon own a V8, preferably one with 300 plus KW. I have looked around and one could get away with it for under R400K. In that budget, you could get something like a Chrysler 300C SRT, a BMW E90 M3, a Mercedes C63 AMG W204, an Audi RS4 B6, a Chevy Lumina SSV, a Jaguar XFR and even a Maserati Quattroporte (with a lot extra money for maintenance). For a little more than the budget, you could get a Ford Mustang, which would be awesome, as the Coyote V8 grumbles like an American V8 should.

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V8s should make you feel special. They should excite your inner petrolhead and make you permanently go BWAHHHH! For me, when I drive behind a car that has a V8 and the person driving leaves his/her right foot on the accelerator just a bit longer than socially acceptable, I get all giddy. The other day, I was walking in town when a Mustang GT and a Jaguar XKR had an impromptu sound-off when they each pulled away from the traffic light. It was marvellous! The low bellowing of the Mustang’s V8 reverberating off the building’s windows and the XKR’s raspy V8 a few pitches higher was absolutely magnificent. Those 40 or 50 seconds of unadulterated noise made my day. I drove back home in the best of moods. I can only imagine my mood the day I actually get to drive something like that.

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All this being said, the V8 is fast becoming an extinct species. Governments and environmental institutions are hammering automakers to cut down on their emissions and thus those automakers downsize their engines. This has been happening for the past decade and it is terrible. The beloved Audi RS4 now comes with a Twin-Turbo V6. Big American barges like the Ford F150 Raptor and Lincoln Navigator are fitted with EcoBoost V6s. Performance cars are mutating into shadows of themselves with smaller engines. An excellent example is the new Mercedes C63 AMG. A test mule has been spotted going around the ‘Ring, but no one knows what drivetrain it’s got. The most likely is a 4-cylinder. I’d be really surprised if it retains its V8.

This whole situation is saddening. Yes, I know it’s all to save the planet and I’m all for saving said planet, but ease up a bit on the sports cars. Pretty soon, we’ll all be driving around in electric toasters with grumpy faces, because it doesn’t make a noise or is very exciting to drive.

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The only good thing about all this is that we will still be allowed to drive old cars that make stupid noises and burns petrol in glorious explosions whilst we laugh maniacally at the sheer awesomeness that is the internal combustion engine. I know it will be around for a little while longer, but we petrolheads will miss it. Like you’d miss an old loyal dog from your childhood.

So in an effort to not sound too much like Jeremy Clarkson in his review of the V12 Vantage, I’m going to end with this; whilst the magnificence that is the ICE is still around, let’s burn as much fuel making stupid noises as we can, shall we?

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©2020 Michael De Kock Michael de Kock is a recently graduated job-seeking petrolhead nerd, fascinated with avocados and generally quite tall.

The Old King is back, but is it Still the Best?

Good news! The new BMW M3 and M4 have been revealed and launched! Yay! I watched CARWOW’s video on it and I must say – both look good. The kidney grilles that put people off really look good on these cars and I personally hope they add them to more models – the 7 and the X7 would suit them.

Power comes from the new 3.0L Bi-Turbo Straight-Six, first launched in the X3 M and X4 M. Outputs are 350KW and 550NM for the ‘normal’ M3 and M4 whilst its 375KW and 650NM for the ‘Competition’ models. Currently, South Africa will only get the latter ‘Competition’ models, as is the case with M cars here. The M3 and M4 gets the same torque-converter 8-speed autobox just like with the M5, as well as BMW’s M X-Drive system. Just like the M5 and M8, you get the choice between 4WD and 2WD modes for when you wish to do some skids and ruin your tires.

Both cars also come with sports exhausts as standard in the ‘Competition’ guise, which sounds quite fruity on the video. Expect the pricing to be quite high, because it is a premium German product after all. Much is included in the price as standard, such as sportier suspension, the aforementioned exhaust and other features, however you’ll need to pay more if you want carbon-ceramic brakes, carbon trim on the exterior and M bucket seats.

The new ‘Isle of Man Green’ launch colour is quite different to BMWs of late, but rather surprisingly, I like it. Out of the two launch cars in the video, I was drawn much more towards the M3 than to the M4. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the new 4-Series as it looks like a mini-8er, but the M3 just looks cooler. Maybe it’s because the one in the video brags with the optional carbon pack and the front end is reminiscent of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio GTA, with the carbon intake slats on either side of the grille.

Apparently, orders are open and cars will be delivered in March next year. It’s quite a while to wait then. All-in-all, I really like both cars. The styling is excellent with the aggressive hood contours and rear wheel-arches protruding arrogantly. The M3 and M4 just look and sound like brilliant cars. We’ll have to see if they are still the benchmark for small, fast saloons when they get road-tested in a few months’ time.

CARWOW video: https://youtu.be/oLMJuwlJm-g

Mercedes Tablets for Everyone!

Today’s rant/blog regards Mercedes’ screen situation. Not the infotainment screens in the centre, but rather the instrument cluster screens behind the steering wheel. BMW, Audi and many other automakers are going the digital route for their instrument cluster as it is more convenient and can show a larger amount of data in a less restrictive manner. That’s fine. I have no problem with that. The issue I have is with the way Mercedes is doing it.

Look at the new Audis. Their ‘Digital Cockpit’ is brilliantly done. It still looks like an instrument cluster, but is modernised for the current era. BMW’s is more traditional with the half-digital, half-traditional setup. Mercedes’ take on the other hand, is awful.

When the current E-Class was launched (W213), I thought it was a really nice-looking car – and it is from the outside. However, I cannot stand the tacked-on instrument cluster screen – you know, the one that looks like a glued-in picture of tablet. It looks like a cost-cutting excuse, like Renault would do on its cheaper cars. Not only does it look stupid, it’s bloody ugly. And now that thought has trickled down to other Mercedes models like the A-Class, the new C-Class, the G-Class, the new S-Class and everything in-between.

Speaking of the new S-Class, I despise the interior, but only because of the ugly tablet-looking afterthought. The rest of the interior looks cool and futuristic, but it’s an S-Class! It should be luxurious and opulent and slightly vulgar, like a cheaper RR Phantom. The outgoing S-Class interior is beautiful with the four air-vents taking centre-stage, the swooping lines running the length of the dashboard and the inlaid wood veneer wherever you look. It’s awesome! The new S’ interior looks like an upscale version of the Tesla Model 3’s, which is – quite frankly – an insult, (The Tesla Model 3 has the most boring interior of any new car currently on sale.) I must say, I really like the new S’ steering wheel. It looks futuristic, yet uber-luxurious at the same time.

Yes, the new S has all sorts of clever tech as is its tradition, but the interior doesn’t match that of the exterior (which contrary to popular opinion I actually quite like.) I cannot wait for the AMG version.

So whilst I’m sure the new Mercs are brilliant in almost every way, I cannot get past that ugly, flat, tacked-on afterthought of an instrument screen. And worst of all, IT’S THE THING YOU WILL LOOK AT MOST IN THE WHOLE CAR! Given the choice, I would rather save the almost R2.2 million cost of the E63S and buy a second-hand C63 Black.

Plus I’d have a lot left for the inevitable fuel bill…

©2020 Michael De Kock

Michael de Kock is a recently graduated job-seeking petrolhead nerd, fascinated with avocados and generally quite tall.

Jaguar Electricity as Expensive as Their Electric Car

So, MyBroadBand has recently done a cross-country road trip with the Jaguar I-Pace (see link below) to see what it actually costs to run an electric car for such a long journey. They started at Jaguar-Land Rover in Constantiaberg which has the southernmost charging point in the country, and ended in Musina – the northernmost town.

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Long story short, it took them 22 hours to drive at an average of 92kph plus another 12 hours for charging, equating to a total of 34 hours to do the 2,063km. That is a long time. It’s like sitting on an 18 hour flight and finding out you have a 10 hour stop-over before flying another 4-and-a-half hours back home. (It happened to me.)

The trip cost the MyBroadBand team almost R2600 in just electricity alone. The team concluded that if they did the same trip in a diesel F-Pace, it would have been significantly cheaper which begs the question, are electric cars viable in South Africa, a county that hasn’t even embraced the idea of the hybrid yet? Lexus has tried for years to get South Africans to buy hybrids, but we just don’t. I don’t know exactly why, but I think it is because we simply see it as something too expensive with too much that can go wrong. Given the choice between a Jaguar I-Pace or a fully kitted-out Toyota Land Cruiser 200, the average South African would pick the Toyota because it’s higher up in the local motoring hierarchy.

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In terms of the motor-industry, South Africa is way behind. Norway’s government grants financial incentives to people for buying electric cars which has resulted in two-thirds of all new cars being bought by the Vikings being electric. There are so many electric cars in Norway that the government is considering adding taxes on them so that they can get at least some money back. Other European countries also offer incentives on electric cars. Even Jordan – which is a Middle-Eastern country – offers much less tax on hybrids than they do on normal cars and as a result 80% of the cars you see there are hybrids.

South Africa doesn’t offer any of this, so electric cars are stupidly expensive. The I-Pace costs R1.6m. For that price you could buy a Volvo XC90 T8 which has the same power, is vastly more practical and has a ridiculous range, thanks to its hybrid drivetrain. Plus you’ll still have R200k left over. Or you could buy a Toyota GR Supra. Or an F-Type V6 S. Or a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. For a little bit more you could get a diesel BMW 8-Series! Or, if you stretch it a bit more, you can buy a Land Rover Sport P400e, which does 4L/100km.

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There are so many better cars to choose from. And those are if you want yours new. For R1.6m you can almost buy whatever you want in the second-hand market. For instance, a quick search on Cars.co.za revealed a 2019 BMW M5 for the same price as that Jag. And also a 2018 Merc E63S! And if you go slightly older, you can get a 2014 Aston Martin V12 Vantage. Or a 2003 Ferrari 360 F1 Spider. Or a 2010 Bentley Continental GTC Speed.

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There are so many better and more interesting cars to buy other than that specific Jaguar. And some of them will even let you pay less at fuel stations. Plus you don’t have to hang around for hours wondering what to do with yourself whilst your batteries fill up with the imaginary magic juice…

 

Read about MyBroadBand’s cross-country road trip in the Jaguar I-Pace here: https://mybroadband.co.za/news/motoring/362430-what-it-costs-to-drive-across-south-africa-in-an-electric-car.html

 

©2020 Michael De Kock

 

Michael de Kock is a recently graduated job-seeking nerdy petrolhead, fascinated with avocados and generally quite tall.

Chronicles of an Eight-Year-Old Beemer

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You might remember one of my very first blogs, Chronicles of a 21-Year-Old Beemer (https://michaeldekock.com/2012/06/29/chronicles-of-a-21-year-old-beamer) from eight years ago. In that post, I had dreams of turning my dad’s little Beemertjie into a grand tourer or off-roader and fitting it with some kind of forced-induction. Yes, I was very naïve. This happened back in June 2012.

In 2013, we sold the Beemer to a guy from Polokwane who was a gardener. Right before he drove off with it, I told him in my best impersonation of Liam Neeson that if he ever takes the car ‘Spinning’, that ‘I will find him…’ He stopped by a week later to pick something up and I saw that he changed the rims from black steelies with hub-caps to the E30’s alloys. I didn’t like it. I thought about that car every day for two years. I still think about it at least once a week. Most recently, I thought of how cool it would be as a convertible here by the sea where I could have used it as a beach buggy. Anyway.

In early 2014, we moved to Cairo, Egypt, for four and a half years and returned in August 2018. I was 22 already and had been dreaming of a first car since I was 17. Well, a year and a half ago (on the 22nd of January 2019 to be exact), I finally got my first car and as you could deduce from the title, it was also a Beemer. I would never have thought that I would actually get a Beemer as a first car!

As per petrolhead custom, I started by looking at all the cars that were far outside my budget and moved downwards toward the cheaper ones. Whilst looking at BMWs, Volvos, Mercs, VWs and others, I kept having this depressing feeling that I was going to end up with a Ford Fiesta, Suzuki Swift or that dreaded Toyota Etios. I didn’t much like that feeling. But I persevered. I stayed clear of the Hyundais, as I find them really boring, but I knew they would be stupidly reliable. I liked the Kia Rio, but the newer model was too expensive. I then realised how expensive VW Polos were. It’s ridiculous!

In the end, I decided that I like the F20 BMW 1-Series and the hatchback Volvo V40. I checked a few Volvos out and one BMW. They were slightly higher than my budget, but I kept at it. In the end, I found a listing on Gumtree for a blue BMW 118i manual, almost the same Liquid Metallic Blue that our old 316i was. I called the dealership – who was incredibly helpful – and we drove through the next morning. I checked the car out, took it for a test-drive and instantly fell in love. We went to pick it up three days later. (We were so impressed with the dealer’s service that my dad called the same sales-person directly a few months later and bought his Santa Fé through him as well).

So here we are, a year and a half later and the Beemer is awesome! Allow me to provide the specs: it is a 2012 BMW 118i Sports-Line manual, not M-Sport. (I don’t know why there are two sporty trims.) It has a 1.6L Inline-4 (like the 316i) with a turbo (unlike the 316i). It produces 125KW and 250NM of torque through a 6-Speed Getrag manual. The engine is a joint BMW-Groupe PSA (Peugeot) endeavour called the Prince engine (known as the N13 at BMW). In BMWs, they make more power that in PSA’s applications and unlike PSA’s cars, it is mounted longitudinally instead of transversely.

In my experience with the car, the acceleration is good, but not fast. It’s not bad, but it is the in-gear acceleration that is really impressive. In 3rd going 50kph, put your foot down and you’ll be at 80kph really quickly. The cool thing about the transmission is that the gears are really long, so you can do 100km/h in 2nd if you want to. You can also short-shift into 6th doing 50km/h. As with many cars, the top gear – 6th in this case – is the economy gear, so it takes a while to accelerate when putting your foot down. However, in Sport Mode, shift down to 5th and you’ll be breaking the speed-limit in no time – not that I do that a lot, but I had two tickets in the first two months to show for this experiment.

I do have some complaints about the car though. The first not being a complaint with the car, but rather the person who specced it when they ordered it. It doesn’t have Bluetooth. The button is there and it looks like the previous owner used it, but it doesn’t work. I cannot find anything in the i-Drive system pertaining to Bluetooth either.

Another complaint is towards BMW. The Prince engine is relatively small and turbocharged, so you would think that it is relatively fuel efficient? Wrong. It is much thirstier than I thought it would be and much worse than what BMW claimed. Though I don’t drive all that much and a tank still lasts me around 450km with town driving.

It recently had its first service since I bought the car and I saved up quite a bit in case it was going to be ridiculously expensive, with it being a premium German automotive product. I was pleasantly surprised. It cost about a third of what I budgeted and everything seems to be fine.

All-in-all, I absolutely love my car. Every time the garage door is open, I catch glimpses of it parked there. When I drive it – even when I’m just cruising through town at 30-40kph in 4th – I love every moment in it. Many days I still cannot believe that I actually have a BMW as a first car! I love the feeling. It drives awesomely, it’s a pleasant and dynamic-feeling and it is rear-wheel-drive! I know in the real world it doesn’t really matter what the drivetrain is for most cars, but for a petrolhead it does. I dislike driving on gravel or dirt roads as I had a bad experience once, but when I do find myself on one, I cannot help but dump the accelerator and feel the back-end kick out. It is an awesome feeling. I just wish I could get access to a skidpan…

 

©2020 MICHAEL DE KOCK

 

Michael de Kock is a recently graduated job-seeking nerd, petrolhead, fascinated with avocados and generally quite tall.

A Muscle or not a Muscle – that is the Question

I have a question. It goes as follows… Do we still have muscle cars, as in the traditional recipe where you add a bunch of power and not much else? If so, are they still true muscle cars? The reason I bring this up is because the Ford Mustang is the best-selling sports car in the world. What happened there? The current Chevrolet Camaro is apparently a good sports car as well. Wtf? So that leaves the Challenger which, let’s be honest, is still very much a muscle car for the simple reason that it still goes fast in a straight line but gets silly when it sees a corner. So, is Dodge the only company to hold on to the physical idea of a muscle car? Seems like it.

Then we have the little problem that is the Corvette. From its launch till the C6 generation, it was considered to be a sports car. Right? Well, then the C6 ZR1 happened and it caused a bit of a scramble. Here you had an American car with a Supercharged V8 that had more power than a Ferrari Enzo. The Enzo is a super car. Does this make the Corvette a super car? Probably not but it does possibly put it into the category some petrolheads refer to as ‘Super Muscle’. It is not an official category and is only reserved for muscle cars with absurd power figures. The Dodge Challenger Demon comes to mind. As does the Hellcat and the Redeye. And the Hennessey Exorcist (pretty much anything made by Hennessey with their HPE1000 package).

Then the C7 rolled around and boy-oh-boy, the Z06 made as much power as the previous ZR1. Another problem. Do you put the Z06 into the super car category, or do you wait for the inevitable ZR1 and put that in instead, denoting the Z06 to stay with the sports cars? Difficult. The ZR1 did eventually roll out and it had a stupid amount of power. Again, super car or still just a sports car?The-2019-Corvette-ZR1

Chevrolet then went and made this whole situation worse by moving the engine placement of the C8 Corvette, making it even more of a supercar then before. And when the eventual Z06 and ZR1 versions come around in a few years’ time, they will no doubt be more supercar-ey than before. Hennessey has already revealed that they are making an HPE1200 package available for the C8 – which, as you guessed, gives it 1200bhp adding to the even more ‘all-over-the-place’ situation of the ‘Vette.Hennessey-C8-Corvette

Speaking of the C8 ‘Vette, when it was first revealed, I thought it was ugly and over-styled. That central carbon-fibre vent thing that goes over the doors looks stupid and oversized. The rear lights, whilst distinctly Corvette, are not very pretty and the front end looks a bit off. The interior is very driver-focused and the steering-wheel is square and stupid and I don’t like it. There are many things that make me believe that the C7 looks better in every single way. However, if I ever get the opportunity to drive one, I’d gobble it up like a chocolate éclair and love every second of it (I’d probably end up wanting one as well).

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So, to summarise this post… Dodge makes the only real muscle car and therefore wins the endless battle of the horsepowers, the Mustang and Camaro are in a completely new battle on their own and the Corvette is a muscle/sports/super car (whichever one you pick will probably be wrong).

Hairdryers with Steering-Wheels

So, I’ve been putting this off for way too long. They are emerging and there is no way to ignore them any longer. Much like Thanos in Endgame, they are inevitable

I am, of course talking about… electric cars. Yes, the hairdryers with steering-wheels. The toasters with seats. The blenders with Google Maps. The pressure-cookers with CD players. Ok, I’ll stop. But I did think of them in that way. However, more and more companies are building their own ones, so people must be buying the bloody things.

These days, almost all the bigger manufacturers are making their own versions – not just Tesla. Audi has the e-Tron, Jaguar has the i-Pace, BMW has the i3, Nissan has the awful Leaf, Porsche has the Taycan with the silly naming strategy and even Mercedes now has the EQC (I’m not going to talk about Ford’s contribution to the mix as an electric Mustang SUV is the stuidest thing I’ve ever heard).

Mercedes_Benz_EQC1-porsche-taycan-turbo-s-2020-fd-hero-front

BMW is also playing around with a full-size electric car idea and they built a prototype. It looks exactly like the current 5-Series, however it has 500KW and 10,000NM of torque. No, that’s not a typo. It’s ridiculous and I love it! Like when Chevy stuffed a 7.0L V8 into one of their Sparks.

Going off topic… Electric cars are – apparently – the future. As a petrolhead, this is concerning. Yes, electric cars have more power and more torque than normal petrol/diesel powered cars, but they don’t make any noise. You can’t change gears and the engagement factor is on the lower end of the spectrum. The whole point about being a petrolhead is to engage with your car and be a part of the whole motoring experience. It doesn’t matter if your car is a 30KW Beetle or a 1000KW Koenigsegg – you can enjoy it. ICE cars (Internal Combustion Engine) have character. Electric cars are basically laptops with wheels – literally in the case of the newest Tesla update where you can play a Mario Kart-esque game on the massive central screen.

Now don’t get me wrong. Teslas are cool. The styling is brilliant, the tech is amazing and the P100D Ludicrous+ models are stupid quick. I drove in a Model S in Amsterdam and it was awesome and I sat in a Model X (best windscreen I’ve ever seen) Amman, Jordan, but as with all electric cars, there is one problem with it. That problem is of course – range anxiety. Yes, in first-world countries like the US and most of Western Europe that isn’t such a big problem, as there are chargers and superchargers and stuff at almost every fuel-station. But in less developed countries, like South Africa, electric cars are still a bit ‘out of range’ because of the astronomic prices, charging logistics and – we as a nation don’t like them very much. Yes, Jaguar and BMW are selling their cars here, but it’s really expensive and only the rich can afford to buy one. I mean, South Africans haven’t even really accepted the Hybrid as a car yet. Lexus tried to change that with their range of hybrids, but have slightly given up on that as well. The only hybrid people buy here is the bloody-awful Prius. (There is one living down the street and I have to drive past it every day. My hatred for it is much like that for the Juke – screaming obscenities at it).

Then we get to the subject of supercars and hypercars. The electrification virus has infected them in spectacular fashion with cars such as the Rimac Concept-1 and the new Lotus Evija. More and more hypercars are also going the hybrid route such as the LaFerrari, P1, 918 Spyder and more recently, the Valkyrie, the AMG ONE and the new SF90 Stradale. It seems then that electrification – in one way or another – is the future.

Well, if this is the case, then I should probably choose one. I thought long and hard about this and I decided that if I ever had the money to afford of these SatNav-equipped dishwashers, I would buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. It is exactly the opposite of an electric car. It uses so much petrol that even the Americans say ‘it’s a bit thirsty’. But is has a Hellcat engine and a supercharger whine that gives me special feelings in my nether regions. It is also practical, meaning you can scare the absolute crap out of your entire family and your dog at once.

2018 Jeep® Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

As an afterthought, James May recently bought a Tesla Model S 100D and a Toyota Mirai. His guess is that one of these two technologies could be the future – either fully electric like the Tesla, or Hydrogen Fuel-Cell-mated-to-electric-motors like the Toyota. It is quite the interesting experiment and I am looking forward to his continued videos on them.