I’ve been writing about vehicles for nearly 20 years. Over that time I’ve realised a few things. For one, you can never please everyone. It’s just the way it is. You can present what you believe is a most watertight argument about something, and someone, somewhere, will challenge your argument. Sometimes the person challenging your meticulously prepared argument has, well, a valid point to make.
I present an incident which happened many moons ago as an example. We reported on the launch of the then all-new Toyota Fortuner. The writer mentioned that the Fortuner featured a part-time 4×4 drivetrain, just like the Hilux. A reader wrote, stating that it was not a part-time system, but a full-time 4WD set-up with a Torsen centre differential. Our man had clearly not had a ‘let’s-hold-hands-and-run-in-slow-motion-through-the-field-of-flowers-while-the-Sound-of-Music-is-playing’ kind of day when that correspondence landed in his inbox. So he told off the ill-informed reader in no uncertain terms, fuming at the mouth. It was only later when the subject was raised in the office, and another staff member noted, delicately: “Er, as far as I know the four-wheel drive-Fortuner models do have a permanent 4WD system.” Spotting a raging fire in his senior colleague’s eyes, he quickly added: “But I could be mistaken, of course…”
The Fortuner 4×4 models did come standard with a permanent 4WD set-up. Our man, bless his soul, ate humble pie and apologised to the reader for the miscalculation of facts. So we’re not always right. That’s a given. But we certainly aim to provide you with the most accurate facts and the best product possible. Also, we do our very best not to be biased towards any specific product, company or person. As mentioned before, we can never please everyone, and sometimes we write about company A and then company B – an obvious rival of company A – throws a hissy fit. Sometimes we tell the truth about a company’s products after the company provided us with incorrect information, only to be lambasted afterwards with hollow threats. Some car companies are woefully inept at dealing with the media (and we have to assume customers, too). We send mails and leave messages about so-and-so test vehicle, and we’re ignored like a stop street. We’re talking major brands here, not a one-person show.
One reader recently remarked that all SA motoring titles have a bias towards Toyota because they spend more money on advertising. So, if Toyota phones us and wants to book a double page ad because they prefer to advertise in our magazine, should we insist on a single page because Ford or Mazda or Haval only has a single page advertisement? Anyway, we do try and offer you an unbiased, balanced product, as best we can in challenging conditions. Which brings me to another populist conundrum, raised every so often by one of our esteemed reader-experts: since you are on so-and-so company’s payroll, surely there’s a lekker so-and-so 4×4 or car parked in your garage at home, too, hey? Afraid not. We have some fleet vehicles we report on, but we all have our own wheels; wheels that we pay for on a monthly basis with hard-earned cash. We even have to fork out for insurance and foot the petrol bill, too, nogal! So this month I thought, for interest’s sake, we’d give you some insight into our real wheels…
Subaru Forester 2.5X Auto – Danie Botha
This is our second Forester. There’s more than enough space for the family and dogs, too. This pre-owned Scooby has had a lot of small little niggles, which is a bit annoying. Fuel consumption on the Auto model is also rather high, at around 13 litres/100km in town.
Suzuki Jimny 1.3 – GG van Rooyen
The Jimny is affordable, reasonably frugal and easy to pilot through city traffic. It can also handle gravel roads and 4×4 trails, so it represents a good compromise if you’re looking for a daily driver. Could do with a bit more power, though. Mine has bike racks on the roof and the rear, since space is rather limited in the cabin.
Renault Clio Expression 66kW Turbo – Alan Valkenburg
I was determined not to buy a French car… but then this Clio, with less than 1 000km and selling at a second-hand price, crossed my path. Space is tight with the wife and three kids. The start/stop Eco mode works… sometimes. The Renault averages seven litres/100km, and I must admit I’m quite happy with it, French car or not.
Kia Picanto 1.1 – Elise Kirsten
This is my economical daily runner, and she drinks only 6.4 litres/100km. Space is limited but you can get five shopping bags in the boot. The seats are also pretty uncomfortable. For longer family trips we use our Nissan Juke.
1962 Dodge Dart – Tauriq Loofer
I bought this golden oldie in a relatively sorry state, and with my dad’s assistance (he’s also got one) we revived it. I obviously don’t drive it every day; the V8 likes the drink a lot. My daily runner is a Toyota Yaris.
Text: Danie Botha