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All posts by Ryan Bubear: Columnist

  • Thinking of buying a dashcam? 6 things to keep in mind

    Brutal road rage brawls. Spectacular meteor explosions. Gut-churning car crashes. You’ve seen the countless crazy videos on YouTube. And you want in on the road-recording action. Yes, the humble dashboard camera is gaining popularity all around the globe. No longer is this piece of on-board surveillance equipment unique to countries notorious for crash-for-cash insurance scams (we’re looking at you, Russia). These days, many more motorists utilise dashcams as “protection” devices, since footage can help prove liability in the case of a crash (depending on that country’s regulations) or challenge apparent traffic violations, for example. Of course, they’re also rather useful for...

  • Three automotive scandals to rival Volkswagen’s #Dieselgate

    Unless you reside under a particularly large and heavy rock, you will have by now spotted countless articles on the emissions scandal currently engulfing Volkswagen. Yes, the German automaker is facing undoubtedly its biggest test yet, after admitting that some 11 million of its diesel-powered vehicles – including products from subsidiaries such as Audi and Skoda – are fitted with so-called “defeat devices”. The software in question is designed to effectively “cheat” pollution tests by automatically activating emissions controls when it detects the conditions typical of strict testing. And it’s reportedly been in use for years. Vehicles employing certain of the...

  • Cars and canines: 6 vehicles perfect for dog-lovers

    What has 42 teeth, sheds an abundance of carpet-clogging hair, and enjoys nothing more than a good dig in the garden? No, not your hairy, abnormally toothy archaeologist uncle. We’re talking about your pet pooch. And while you may not savour driving said uncle around – nobody wants to spend hours cleaning back-hair out of the crevices of the front passenger seat, after all – you no doubt look forward to time on the road with your beloved dog. If you don’t, perhaps you’re driving the wrong car. Yes, your set of wheels can make or break a trip with...

  • 5 potential Tesla-fighters of the near future

    Right now, the Tesla Model S has no direct competitors. Not a single one. Sure, there are a handful of other all-electric vehicles bouncing around various markets. But none can match the combination of performance, range and outright desirability offered by the ground-breaking Model S. Yes, the luxury electric sedan is hard to beat both on paper and out on the road. The all-wheel drive P85D model, for instance, has a range of more than 400km, yet can dispatch the zero to 100km/h sprint in an almost unthinkable 2.8 seconds (with the “Ludicrous” speed upgrade, that is). Thought of a direct...

  • 3 future pickups set to take the fight to the Hilux and Ranger

    The one-tonne pickup truck segment in many parts of the world -- specifically Latin America, Africa, Australia, and Europe -- has long been dominated by a select few vehicles. Yes, the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger are the undisputed top dogs in many such markets, including here in South Africa (read our on-paper shootout of the two upcoming new models here. Of course, there are also various other capable load-lugging options around, from the Isuzu KB, Nissan Navara, and Volkswagen Amarok to the much-anticipated new Mitsubishi Triton (or L200 as it’s also known in some markets). But, over the...

  • Monster coupe top trumps! Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupe versus BMW M4

    BMW’s hottest 4 Series has been tearing up stretches of tarmac around the world since early in 2014, providing plenty of high-performance thrills to lovers of German two-doors. But now this M-badged monster – which shook up the Munich-based brand’s naming convention by effectively terminating the celebrated M3 Coupe moniker – has a new foe (in addition to the Audi RS 5 and the Lexus RC-F). And we thus appear to have a scintillating battle on our hands. Yes, the Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupe is scheduled to make its official bow at the Frankfurt Motor Show in mid-September 2015, but...

  • 5 premieres to watch out for at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show

    It’s regarded as the largest motor show in the world, with the first iteration being staged as long ago as 1897. Yes, we’re talking about the Frankfurt Motor Show, which is known in Germany as the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA). And, as usual, all the major automakers will be there this year, eager to show off their latest four-wheeled wares to the automotive-mad world. The gates open to the press on 15 September 2015, so expect the big news to start rolling in then. Of course, we’ve already seen official images of many of the upcoming vehicles, such is the power...

  • 5 electric scooters that show automakers are finally taking congestion seriously

    The world’s major cities are becoming more and more congested. The resulting lack of space is hitting motorists hard, forcing them to spend more of their precious time stuck in traffic. And, of course, pottering around searching for the inner city holy grail: an unoccupied parking bay. Yes, there are simply too many cars in too congested (and too polluted) a space. And that’s a strange problem for automakers to face up too, seeing as they – like virtually all businesses – tend to focus on the bottom line. But urban mobility is starting to change, and car manufacturers...

  • 5 fire-breathing monsters that prove the American muscle car is not dead

    So, you think the American muscle car is dead? A relic of a bygone era built on large-displacement engines and startling straight-line speed? Think again. The muscle car is still very much alive. In fact, it seems that this high-performance variant is actually in rude health. According to a recent study by Experian Automotive, the American muscle car is in the midst of an impressive revival. In fact, the research suggests that new registrations of American muscle have increased by some 35.4 percent over the previous nine years. It seems not everyone is obsessed with downsized engines and the improved fuel...

  • 5 innovations that could completely change the face of off-roading

    Off-roading enthusiasts are typically a reserved bunch. They don’t do well with change, and thus generally aren’t fans of new-fangled gadgets. To be fair, there’s a reason for this. When you’re crawling through the muddy middle of nowhere – without cellphone reception and with no manufacturer-approved mechanic for miles – and a component fails, you don’t want it to be something that relies on a complicated electronic system. Instead, you hope it’s something you – a simple (yet ruggedly handsome) man – can fix. With your bare hands. And perhaps some duct tape. Or even a rusty length of chain....

  • 6 lightweight, track-focused (but road-legal) sportscars… including a certain Mexican

    So, you enjoy blasting around a racing circuit, but don’t see the appeal of buying a track-only car? You’re in luck (if you have plenty of cash, of course). There are a number of track-focused, lightweight sports-cars out there, many of which will give most supercars more than just a black eye. And, best of all, they’re all road-legal – in most countries, anyway. Just don’t expect anything in the way of creature comforts. They may be street-legal, but these little track monsters generally favour function over form, and are thus nothing short of uncompromising to drive. Yes, it’s...

  • Why smartphone-mimicking dashboards aren’t such a smart idea after all

    We’ve been saying it for ages. Controls for infotainment and other in-cabin functions that are often used while on the move should NOT be buried deep within touchscreen menus. Or indeed be sited on touchscreens at all. Yes, many of the latest smartphone-aping interfaces in cars are rather impressive. Many are even highly intuitive, incorporating the swiping and pinching functions to which technophiles have long been accustomed. And all serve to declutter the dashboard of buttons, leading to an interior design that is generally far more pleasing to the eye. But, in terms of safety and functionality, most of...

  • Why the difference between self-driving and autonomous vehicles really matters

    According to the Oxford Dictionary, the adjective “autonomous” describes something – in our case, a motor vehicle – that has “the freedom to govern itself or control its own affairs”. Pretty much a “self-driving” car then, right? Well, no – apparently not. A recent article in London’s The Economist states that many automakers are eager to point out that autonomous cars and self-driving vehicles are actually fundamentally different concepts. In fact, we’d go one step further and submit that autonomous cars already exist – and are even fairly widespread – on our roads, while self-driving automobiles quite simply don’t...

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