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Nick Bates

Maimane is well ahead of his time

Contrary to what some commentators may think, the DA leader’s humility should not be mistaken for weakness

A sleek little gladiator

Last year Proton, made its debut in South Africa with the Gen2, an attractive four-door sedan. The company has now signalled it wants a larger slice of the cake with the arrival of the Arena, a small pick-up designed to take on the likes of Nissan's 1400, Opel's Corsa, Fiat's Strada and the Ford Bantam.

Focus on diesel

It seems Ford isn't prepared to see the competition run away with the lion's share of the rapidly growing turbo-diesel market. Among the recently launched new Focus models is a very competent 2,0 TDCi. The Focus is available in either four-door sedan or five-door hatch -- the latter aimed squarely at Renault's 1,9 Megane and VW's Golf IV Sportline.

A hot, new hatchback

Built in Tanjung Malim, the Proton Gen.2 is an attractive piece of machinery, and my "vigour red" 1,6 GLX unit drew admiring glances, especially with its rather aerodynamic boot with spoiler, clean flowing lines, and attractive 16-inch alloy wheels. The Malaysians have certainly perfected the art of styling in a short space of time.

Fiat’s little beast

"As SUVs and MPVs (sport utility/multi-purpose vehicles) become more popular, so the choice available to the buyer increases. And instead of just big, ungainly SUVs to choose from, there is now a plethora of smaller vehicles more suited to urban travel available. I spent a week with the Fiat Panda and came away fairly impressed," writes Nick Bates.

New diesel Alfa is a winner

Alfa has launched its upgraded 147 1,9 JTD model, and if the brief time we spent with the Italian is anything to go by, Alfa has a winner on its hands. Styling wise, the new 147 oozes pizzazz. It's a very sexy car that offers good performance and frugal fuel usage.

Forester will go almost anywhere

Subaru's popular Forester SUV range has been upgraded in all departments. For starters, it gets a new front grille with sharper lines and sleeker headlights, which give it a more robust look. The rear tail clusters have been reworked and boast clear, trendy lens covers, while the tailgate has a smart garnishing strip.

Coasting in comfort

There's no better way to assess a vehicle's qualities -- its roadholding, fuel consumption, dynamic performance and comfort -- than a long journey. And when Citroën delivered a new C4 Hdi to the Mail & Guardian, a quick 1 200km round trip to St Lucia did exactly this.

Funky little 4×4 from Fiat

There's a new animal prowling the streets, but it doesn't have a menacing gait, long claws, fierce growl or those trademark black eyes. It's Fiat's new Panda, a small 4x4 that won the 2004 European Car of the Year. It comes in two guises: the standard, entry-level Trekking and, for those who want a little more luxury, the Climbing.

Svelte Swedes

Not content with winning the recent Car of the Year competition with its S40, Volvo SA has added another couple of strings to its bow in the form of the V40 2,0 turbo diesel sedan and the S50 station wagon with the same engine. The 2,0 diesel models are probably among the most refined versions on the market in that capacity.

Pocket rocket

There's that addictive pop-pop-pop as you lift your foot off the loud pedal and the engine goes into over-run. There's no waste gate to speak of, and that excess pressure created by the now very refined supercharger has only one place to go through one of the four, 399,5cc capacity cylinders. The Minni Cooper S has undergone some changes and motorists are unlikely to realise that under that familiar body, there's a whole new beast.

Project became legend

The first Volkswagen Golf GTI was conceptualised over sandwiches and beer by some rather recalcitrant Germans back in March 1973. The first GTI, weighing just 820kg, made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1975 as a project car, but the public response was so strong that VW had to put it into "limited" production.

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