For my sins I want a Volvo

In the 80’s you could see a box on wheels from miles away and know it was a Volvo driving towards you. In the nineties and noughties (are we really still calling it by that terrible name?) they added some style but they still never quite stood out to me. In 2012, enter the Volvo V40:

Car Magazine took the V40 for a test drive:

Volvo has gone to great lengths to banish the legacy of staid, conservative designs that characterised its cars for many years, and the V40’s sharp styling will certainly appeal to young, trendy and individualistic buyers. There has been some confusion regarding the V40’s positioning in the Volvo line-up; Despite wearing the V nomenclature often reserved for the company’s station wagon offerings, it is not set to battle the likes of the entry-level Audi A4 Avant and C-Class Estate, but rather the A3 Sportback and BMW 1 Series. In this respect the V40 has its work cut out for it, but its packaging seems to indicate that it’s on the right track.


The interior is typically Volvo, with the floating centre console and good levels of perceived quality, but it still manages to look fresh. There are a number of stand-out styling touches, perhaps the most eye-catching are the illuminated gearshift, which is standard on the Elite trim level, but optional on the other two trim levels (Excel and Essential) and the option of a TFT instrument panel display with different colours and themes to differentiate eco- from sport settings.


The engine line-up spans from the D2 turbodiesel (86 kW/270 N.m), which has a claimed fuel consumption of just 3,6 l/100 km and CO2 emissions of just 94 g/km, to the turbocharged T5 petrol engine with 189 kW and 400 N.m of torque and accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 6,5 seconds. Between these two performance poles sit a pair of four-cylinder 1,6-litre petrol units in two states of tune: T3 (112 kW/240 N.m) and T4 (134 kW/240 N.m plus 30 N.m on overboost). A choice of six-speed manual and automatic transmissions are offered.

You can read the rest of the article here. For the first time a Volvo that doesn’t make me want kids, a dog and a woolen pullover to fit in with the other Volvo Drivers.


Inside the Tesla Model S

No sadly I haven’t personally had a chance to drive the Tesla Model S but the second car from the marque is getting some fairly rave reviews in the US of A. South African Elon Musk’s car company is doing some great work creating beautiful, functional and most importantly green cars, which we will hopefully one day all be driving. Fast Company drove the car:

Tesla, a Silicon Valley electric vehicle startup that first came to prominence with the all-electric Roadster sportscar, isn’t yet known as a mainstream car manufacturer–unsurprising since it’s first product had a base price of $109,000. The Model S, a five-seat sedan released today, is Tesla’s debut into the mainstream market. If it succeeds, it could bolster the entire EV industry. If it fails, Tesla will be in trouble.

Read the rest of the article here


Does leasing a car make sense?

Ever popular in Europe, South African’s can now enjoy a simplified service called “Ariva” where they can lease a car for a fixed fee for a fixed time period. South African’s are used to buying a car, paying a monthly fee and hopefully not having a balloon payment at the end of the term. However, does it make sense to be left with a five year old vehicle and how much does it cost you in servicing and insurance? With Ariva you pay your monthly fee’s and then hand back your car after five years to begin again. Let’s run some numbers:

The Kia Picanto costs R2861 per month on Ariva meaning R154 494 in total. This includes insurance, servicing and roadside assistance. As I mentioned before, you hand back your keys after the 5 year period and have nothing to show (except for five years of easy motoring) for your hundred and fifty odd thousand. You also need to put a deposit down of two months but you get your deposit back with interest.

On the converse there’s the option to buy the car yourself and pay it off monthly. The entry level Picanto is R99995 so paying it off monthly you’re looking at R2258 without a deposit. You’re already about R600 cheaper and you get to own the car at the end. However where it gets interesting is the issue of insurance (let’s assume R500 per month) and since there is no service plan you’re looking at about R2000-R3000 per year in servicing costs. Let’s throw in a set of tyres over the five year period at a further R3000 and all those costs added up you’re looking at about R2803. If you haven’t fallen asleep by my numerical skills you’ll know we’re still saving over R58 per month over the cost from Ariva. Using straight line depreciation of 10% per year over 5 years you could theoretically sell the car for R50000 at the end of the period. Take the monthly costs, subtract the selling price and you end up with a cost of R101362 over the life of the car.

I’ve made a massive assumption that this is the entry level Picanto model but even at the top of the range (R2936 monthly) you’ll still spend about ten thousand rand less over the five years. Ariva might look appealing but do the numbers first.