Friday, October 22, 2021

Bucket Seat: 2021 Audi S3

Not too long ago Audi South Africa launched their all-new A3 models in the country in the form of the Sportback and Sedan, along with the TFSI models they also launched one of two performance engines, the S3. The A3 has always been a popular model for the local market as it  served a unique space as a luxury hatchback for people who were transitioning from a normal hatch but were not quite ready for a big sedan, yes eventually Audi did launch a sedan version of the A3 which also proved to be quite a success and added a niche to the market of a small to medium sedan that offered luxury and comfort that one would normally associate with large cumbersome models. This was a very attractive option for the youth and young adults. With the introduction of the new model featuring a lot of design enhancements, I was looking forward to getting the new A3 but as luck would have it, I got handed the keys to the S3 Sportback for a week first, here is my take on this new performance hatch from the German brand. 


It's a show stopper, yes there are key design elements from the outgoing model but while it is distinctively an A3 its grown and matured into something more special. Lets start of with the headlamps as Audi are forever coming up with the coolest tech for their lighting systems, this one comes with the new Matrix LED headlamps with the grid like design below which give you quite an entertaining show when unlocking the car. If you've seen videos of the RS3 online you will know of the special greeting it gives you when unlocking that one, this one doesn't spell out S3 but its cool enough. The car has definitely grown in size, not by much but the Audi designers make it seem that way with bolder accents, a bigger grille, more flared arches and openings. Being the S3 it has a more sportier look that the normal A3, larger 19-inch Audi Sport rims and a rear diffuser that many won't mind seeing as it will be passing most cars on the road with ease. When it comes to the interior, I wish they had awards for this kind of stuff because what this brand is doing with their interiors at the moment deserves some recognition. Its just pure class, the layout, the design, the look and feel is just immaculate. I cannot fault one aspect of it. 


Right, the main reason you are all here reading through my nonsense, you want to know how that 2L TFSI motor performs. Looking at the figures, it's pretty impressive with an 213kW output and 400Nm of torque, claimed 0-100km/h time of 4.9 seconds is fast but trust me, I think it's faster. When put into dynamic mode this car is a beast, the tone of the exhaust changes, the car feels more sharper and rigid, looking to take on the next corner with that Quattro system we've all come to know and love. It has an electronically limited top-speed of 250km/h which I never got close to but the rate this car accelerates, it won't take you that long to max out. The S Tronic automatic gearbox works so well that I hardly found the need to swop over to the paddles when driving, speaking of gearbox, Audi have opted to go the Porsche route with the gear selector to a tiny little switch, that's the best way I can describe it but it works, takes some getting used to but like I said, it works. While my first 380km had the tank dry, I got the opportunity for a long drive with the S3 which saw me do 625km in a day. I was dreading the trip as all I thought about was filling this car up two-three times but slapped it into cruise control, and let the car do its thing. The S3 gave me an average of 8.4L per 100km, I was blown away as I did the entire journey on one tank of fuel. So it goes to show, drive the car like a sensible person and you can get good economy on a performance hatch. 


The Audi S3 comes with sport seats finished off in some fancy stitching which was in red to accentuate the cars sporty nature, it even has "S" logo stitching in just below the headrest. This diamond stitching is continued in the back seat which are also bucket type to keep your occupants intact while you're flying around. As mentioned, the design of the interior is top notch with everything more driver focused, the virtual cockpit is upgraded giving the driver a lot more viewing options and display options, the multi-function steering with the signature flat bottom ensures that you're comfortable steering the car with everything within finger tip reach. The new infotainment touch screen that has Audi Connect and the latest MMI interface is brilliant and easy to use but if you like me, prefer to use the mobile applications like Car Play or Android Auto, then you won't need to worry about that too much. The driver and front passenger enjoy dual zone climate control while the rear gets single zone AC but with dual USB C slots for mobile phone charging. There is a wireless charger up front as well as dual USB C ports for driver and passenger. The panoramic sunroof is an option I've learnt to love over the time of testing cars, this one is rather large giving plenty of natural light into the cabin. 


This car really exceeded my expectations of it, while stylish and sporty it really can be a practical daily driver. The lines are sharp and engaging, the tech this car comes with it on par of what many would expect in higher end models so its nice to see Audi offering it through-out their line of cars. It's a stunning vehicle that I thoroughly enjoyed driving. The noise levels on this model is just right, not too harsh or loud that would have angry Karen's coming to knock on your window telling you that you're causing a disturbance. In the back of my head, I'm still thinking if the performance of this car is so great, what will the upcoming RS3 be like? Well I have to wait till next year to experience that, for now I'm quite happy with this S3. 


Gear Box
7- Tronice
Top Speed
*Base Price, model test at R1,000,300










Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Bucket Tech: Google Pixel 6

Tuesday evening saw the launch of Googles latest variation of their smart phone the Pixel, it is 6th generation the Pixel is available in a normal and Pro models. While there wasn't as much fanfare about this device as the Apple event the Pixel still remains a key competitor in the European and American markets. Seeing that Googles OS is being used by so many other manufacturers around the globe, them making their own device that is custom made for the OS should be pretty good too? Well lets take a look at what it has to offer. 

The Pixel 6 has a 6.4-inch FHD Plus touch screen with a high refresh-rate display that switches between 90Hz and 60Hz depending on the lighting and what application you're using the device for. The Pixel 6 Pro on the other hand has a larger 6.7-inch QHD LTPO (low temperature polycrystalline oxide) that also has that neat refresh rate trick but adjusts from 10Hz to 120Hz, the Pro's screen also has a curved edge giving that seamless look. The Pixel has always had great cameras , I mean its in the name, and that trend continues with the 6 series, with Google boasting that is the most advanced smartphone camera, the Pixel 6 comes with a dual camera system that includes a 50-megapixel wide lens, 12-megapixel ultrawide lens and Pro has a triple camera system that has the same two lenses as the 6 but with an additional 48-megapixel, 4x optical zoom telephoto camera. The Pixel 6 comes with an 8-megapiel front facing camera with 84-degree field of view that can record 1080p video at 30 frames per second while the Pro has an 11-megapixel selfie camera with a wide 94-degree field of view that can record in 4K at 30fps. 

Looking at battery life, being a 5G supportive device this is crucial in choosing a smartphone, the Pixel 6 comes with a 4,614mAg battery and supports 30W USB C fasting charging but the actual fast charger doesn't come with the device and is sold separately. The Pixel 6 Pro has a slightly larger 5003mAh battery that also supports the 30W fast charging and has fast wireless charging of 23W.  Powering the Pro is an Octa-core CPU with a Google Tensor 5nm chipset, which has a Mali-G78 MP20 GPU. While there is no slot of external memory card as Google is encouraging the use of their cloud services, the devices are available in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB internal storage capacity. The Pixel 6 has the same CPU and Chipset but only available with internal storage up to 256GB.  Both devices are IP68 rated and boast strong build quality with the only difference being that the Pro has Gorilla Glass Victus and the Pixel 6 has Gorilla Glass 6. 

Pricing on the Pixel is fairly competitive to the new Apple iPhone 13 Series with the Pixel 6 128GB coming in at $599, the Pixel Pro 128GB kicks off at $899. Again, highly doubt these devices will make it to South Africa at all but its nice to keep an eye on what Google are getting up to as they are one of the greater used platforms in the local market. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Monday Choon: Fatum feat. Mars Atlas - Deserve It

If you're an avid listener to Above and Beyond's weekly podcast Group Therapy, today's track will come as no surprise to you. It was first played at the trio's live set at the Drum Sheds in London for their ABGT450 set and was released about a week ago. "Deserve It" by Grammy nominated duo Fatum and Mars Atlas who wrote the song, is one of those tracks that hits your heart first before your mind, to quote Mars Atlas "Deserve It is one of the most meaningful songs I've ever written. The song was written in a matter of a few minutes one night, in a burst of overwhelming vulnerability at the idea of one day losing my parents." While we're used to Big Stage sound from Fatum, this track is a bit diluted to that sound,  the duo say its a special track for them as it showcases the next evolution in their sound but also shows their versatility in this aspect. In working with Mars, they said the collaboration was very natural and they worked in synergy to put this track out, they're extremely happy with it and hope he fans are too. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Bucket Seat: Lexus IS300 Hybrid - F Sport

What is perfection? The online definition is "freedom of fault or defect, flawless", and Lexus tag line is the pursuit of perfection, which means they're constantly striving for it but not quite there. Then again, can anything really be perfect? In a world of varied opinions which many come under fire on a number of online platforms daily, it's safe to say that not everything can be everyone's cup of tea. That being said, after spending some time with the new Lexus IS300 Hybrid, their pursuit is noticeable because driving this third generation of their mid-sized sedan, its pretty damn near perfect if you ask me. 

The styling is captivating to say the least, Lexus aren't afraid to push the boundaries when it comes to daring, bold and edgy design and we've seen that in the past 5 years with their new design language making concept to production very similar. From the eye catching large spindle grille to the sharp lines of the exterior and the dimensional interior, Lexus has put a firm foot in the sand saying they want to stand out and stand out they are. It almost seems as if they want to brush off this tag that they are a boring manufacturer and we know they aren't with the famed LFA which still holds legendary status in the Supercar realm. We've seen much of the tech that was made for the LFA passed down the line and make it into cars like the IS, and for that we are very grateful. The dynamic design of the IS is based on the previous generation model but on a larger like frame with even more extrusions and edges than before, it makes the car look dramatic even when standing still, the added F-Sport kit just exudes sportiness, with the blacked out grille, lower stance, 18-inch rims and a very sporty rear end which is accentuated by the new flat top boot lid and solid bar break light. 

The IS has a host of textures and trims to kit your interior out in, this one was finished off in red leather which contrasted well with the black of the dash as well as the White Nova paint finish on the outside. It gave the car a sort of Ying Yang feel when looking at it from the outside then getting in. While we on the subject of the interior, it is well laid out and very similar to the outgoing model, with the major difference being a larger touch screen for the infotainment. The Lexus user interface has gotten better to navigate but they still have that track pad to navigate from, if this gets a bit cumbersome for you, there is comfort in having the touch screen to make things much more easier. There is also built-in mobile apps for Apple or Android devices, both of which have voice commands so most of the time you won't need to fiddle with anything. As with other models, the IS comes with a brilliant 17 speaker-Mark Levinson sound system which is like having an orchestra in the car with you, the quality is superb and its almost as if it adapts to the various music you listening too.  The driver cockpit is perfectly laid out and comes kitted with electric seats that have two memory settings, the digital instrument cluster is brilliant, while you can choose what you would like to be displayed, I personally loved how you have swap to have a minimalist look and with a touch of the button on the steering wheel, you can expand or contract the rev counter, its personally one of my favourite party tricks on this car. Also the various driving modes have different themes and colours to the dials, my personal favourite being Sport+ which mimics the LFA style dials. 

I could probably go on for paragraphs writing about the styling about this car but the people will want to know about the the inner workings of the car, especially that Hybrid drive train. Lexus are probably one of the leaders in Hybrid technology since they've had it in most of their cars for the better part of the last 5-10 years. It's no different with the IS300h, The combined power from the 2.5-litre petrol engine and the nickel-hydrogen battery system is 164kW and torque is rated at 221Nm. An Electronically-Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT) maximizes both efficiency and performance. While the ECVT does pose the same problems as a normal CVT at times, it does feel a bit better handling this sort of system with the electric engine compensating for torque when the gearbox battles with the gear selection. When Sport/ Sport+ is selected, much of the lethargic nature of the gearbox soon disappears, the car clocks a 0-100km'h time of 8.7 second which is nothing to write home about but you have to understand that with the added weight of the batteries and electric motor, that is quite decent. Also this isn't the performance version of the IS with an IS500 that features a NA V8 that has launched in the USA being the one for performance enthusiasts. 

As a given with Lexus, safety is uncompromised with the IS300h boasting a host of safety features as standard. Just running through some of them, they include a pre-crash system with enhanced radar and camera that has intersection support that can detect moving objects that would be moving towards your trajectory that  triggers the automatic brake system if you haven't already. Lane tract assist keeps the car in the lane, which comes handy in poor visibility settings. All-speed adaptive cruise control which maintains a set following distance to the car in front of you, adjusting the speeds to keep that distance and even bringing the car to a complete stop if needs be. A personal favourite of mine is the LED auto-beam headlights which provide superb visibility at night and roads which are poorly lit. Blind spot monitoring for when you're changing lanes and lastly, park distance control with clearance sonar as to warn you if there are cars coming when reversing. 


2.5L with Hybrid Motor
Gear Box
ECVT Automatic
Fuel Economy
 5.2 per 100L


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Bucket Tech: Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX

Bang & Olufsen launches Beoplay HX, a powerful and authentic sound experience with digital ANC, up to 35 hours of play time and elevated comfort, exemplifying Bang & Olufsen’s expertise in sound, design, and craftsmanship.

 “Our dedication to create the best audio products has resulted in Beoplay HX which delivers an immersive and accurate sound experience, ultimate comfort and a refined user interface to meet our customers habits, values and needs. Whether working from home, travelling for business or pleasure, escape from the noise of everyday life and revolutionize your listening experience with our new headphones”, says Bang & Olufsen SVP of Product Management Christoffer Poulsen.


Beoplay HX offers a powerful listening experience through two custom designed 40mm speaker drivers with neodymium magnets and bass ports which ensures optimal bass performance. Four dedicated microphones create an impressive call quality by utilizing advanced beamforming technology, while the battery optimization ensures up to 35 hours of play time – the equivalent of five working days of listening experience without having to recharge the battery.

Bang & Olufsen’s signature sound is further enhanced due to improved speech delivery and the listening experience is even finer and more immersive thanks to the introduction of the next generation of Digital Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation technology which cancels unwanted noise without compromising on sound quality.  Escape the everyday with Beoplay HX’s enveloping sound that transports the listener to the feeling of being at a concert with the music on full volume. Through Bang & Olufsen’s dedicated app, users can easily change sound profiles, ANC presets, while also accessing the most essential features directly on the refined headphone interface.


Comfort is essential for wearing headphones and Beoplay HX has been designed with well-being in mind. Lightweight and designed for durability, the ergonomic design ensures that the headphones can be worn all day in total comfort for a broad variety of head sizes. This is due to the revamped headband which has a center-relief zone for long-time wear.

Crafted from authentic materials, the ear cushions are made from soft lambskin and the inner material consists of memory foam that adapts to the shape and curves of the ear for supreme comfort. The upper headband is made from cow hide with a smooth grain, while the lower headband is covered in a knitted fabric. Beoplay HX includes a form-fitting fabric case which protects the headphone and its accessories while on the move.


To further elevate the headphones, Beoplay HX has been created so that it can reach up to 35 hours of playtime which makes it one of the stand-out options in the market. It offers fast, strong, and stable connectivity through Bluetooth 5.1, Microsoft Swift Pair, Google Fast Pair and Made for iPhone (MFi). The product set-up process is convenient on both Android and Apple-devices, leading to a better and more frictionless interaction. 


Known for refined Scandinavian design and craftsmanship, Bang & Olufsen have used the best materials for Beoplay HX to create the most luxurious headphones, incorporating soft leather and polished aluminum for aesthetics as well as their ability to enhance comfort, acoustics, and durability. The arm sliders are made of anodised, pearl blasted recycled aluminium with a light brushed detail in the upper part. The disc is crafted from aluminium with a diamond spin finish which is nestled within a polymer-painted recycled plastic structure, creating contrast between the alternating smooth and matte sensations.

Available in Black Anthracite, Sand, and Timber, Beoplay HX has a global three-year warranty upon registration, underlining the quality customers can expect when purchasing Bang & Olufsen headphones

Locally the Beoplay HX is priced at R9,999 and available at all B&O distributors. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Monday Choon: DØBER - Cream

If you, like me are a big fan of Nicky Romero's Protocol Radio, today's featured artist wouldn't need much of an introduction to you but if you haven't heard of Dober yet, not to worry you will soon as he is currently making some amazing tracks. Today's featured track comes as an additional track to his EP About You, titled "Cream". Its a fast paced, vibey track that got my attention from the first time I heard it on the weekly podcast. Dober says his sound is easily identifiable as its unlike what anyone is doing at the moment, he describes his versatility as a strong point to change up sounds and understanding individuality in sounds rather that just give the public what everyone else doing. From dark, mellow drops to harsh yet polished basslines, utilizing both lush and high energy vocals help convey and further bolster the theme to the track. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

Bucket Seat: Hyundai Kona N Line

The Hyundai Kona was always a car that left a question mark hovering over my head, from its inception in the market I could never figure out where it fits in. While it was an attractive looking car, boasts a great deal of options that you'd expect from a car in this price bracket I could never put my finger on it and say, that's a great hatchback or great crossover. So one would think after spending some time with the face-lift model in the N Line guise, I would have a better understanding of this car and could nail down where it sits in terms of segments in the motoring world. The answer is no, but in saying that, as you read through my review, you would find that it does have a purpose in the market and will have appeal to certain buyers. 


The styling on the Kona is quite different in the sense that it comes across more like a hatchback than SUV, which is where my confusion starts. It has a low stance with quite a bit of bulk which comes from bold wheel arches and a slightly raised ride height. This one being the N Line version has the full on sports treatment with lowered front splitters, a more aggressive grill and rear difusser as well as large multi-spoke rims. There are extra fins and details to add to the N appeal making this look like a proper racer, dare I say it, even a hot hatch.  The styling makes it evident that this model is more aligned to the SUV range of the Hyundai stable with the signature split head lamps featuring the LED daytime running lights on the top with the main headlamps below, this is also mirrored at the back with the tail lights being split. Its a refreshing look to what we're normally used to and adds character as such to the car. 


The N Line model has the 1.6T motor, which produces 146kW with 265Nm of torque. That power output is startling to say the least with it being 40kW more than the NA 2.0 engine that is also offered in the Kona range but not with the N Line. The engine was very responsive and coupled with the 7-speed DCT gearbox proved to be a lot of fun to drive. I did find the gearbox to be twitchy on the lower gears, especially changing from first to second at low speeds, it gave the feel of it slipping and made the car jerk which wasn't very pleasant to say the least. This could have been an issue with this particular unit and not a common problem faced by the car, so will report in on that when I have further info on it. Other than that, it was a brilliant driving experience given from the car .The ride quality was quite superb and with the gusty engine just made you feel like you were behind the wheel of a sporty hatch rather than a crossover SUV., I would have liked paddle shifters on the steering to echo that feel and also could have minimized that issue I had with gear changes.  


Taking a look at the interior of the Kona N, it would give some of the Europeans some stiff competition not only form the styling but also levels of comfort and choice of materials used in the cabin. It was obviously sporty being kitting out with the N Line package, that including sports seats, red stitching , sports style steering with the N badge prominent on the wheel and gear selector. What intrigued me a lot was the tech loaded in this car, from a full digital dash which had quite amazing graphics and animations when toggled through the driving modes, even the infotainment screen was very intuitive and easy to use. This came preloaded with mobile apps for use of use when driving. The front passenger and driver enjoyed climate control,  the car had two power outlets as well as USB connection for driver and front passenger. The Kona also had hill descent control should you find your self in tricky situations with it. Other note worthy features on the Kona were lane keep assist, active cruise control with collision warning and electric seats for the driver. 


While Hyundai maintain this car is a crossover/ SUV I don't blame people for thinking its more of a hatch more so with the N Line kit on it. It even feels like a hatch when driving but with the added extras that you would find on a crossover, that would be a bonus to anyone. I can probably sit here and nit pick minor details about this car but truth be told the week spent with it was very enjoyable, while there isn't any direct competition for it in the market, well none that I can think of anyway, I feel there is a need for this type of vehicle as you will get those buyers whom aren't really sure if they want to make that transition into the SUV lifestyle but want something thats practical and small. This would be the ideal car for those and like I said, while it might have the off-road capabilities, it doesn't give off that big bulky vibe you'd usually expect from an SUV/ Crossover, so now you understand why I am still confused about its segment rating. 


1.6T Petrol
Gear Box
7-Speed DCT
Fuel Economy
7.5 per 100L











Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Bucket Tech: Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond

The world’s best loudspeaker range introduces all-new industrial design plus a range of breakthrough technologies to set even higher standards for outright sound quality has arrived in South Africa -  Bowers & Wilkins, distributed exclusively through the Homemation distribution network.

How do you improve on the world’s most successful and iconic range of high-end loudspeakers? It’s a challenge that has occupied the past six years of the finest minds at the home of the world-renowned Bowers & Wilkins engineering team. Their solution is to combine continuous improvement of every component in each design with innovative and proprietary technology that re-imagines the fundamental basics of a conventional loudspeaker drive unit: the new, unique and revolutionary Biomimetic Suspension.



The new 800 Series Diamond range continues to feature seven models, including stand-mount speakers, floor-standing models and high-performance centre channel speakers. Every new model in the range combines hundreds of detail improvements plus several entirely new technologies to create the most transparent, detailed and natural-sounding series of loudspeakers Bowers & Wilkins has ever produced.

Refined Design - refined, elegant cabinet proportions plus luxurious, premium detailing combine to make this the most premium 800 Series Diamond range yet. Every stereo model in the range also enjoys a significantly upgraded cabinet design with an all-new rigid, cast aluminium top section – to offer even greater stiffness and thus improve cabinet quietness still further. Every model in the range adopts a revised version of the iconic Solid Body Tweeter-on-Top housing, with a new, elongated tube-loading system to produce an even more open sound for high frequencies.



New technologies - Bowers & Wilkins has combined the twin benefits of Continuum and FST with an all-new advance that transforms the other key element of a drive unit’s normal operation: the fabric spider. Over decades of continuous development to nearly all areas of speaker design, the fabric spider, a key element in the suspension of every conventional loudspeaker drive unit, has remained largely unchanged – until now. The all-new composite Biomimetic Suspension replaces the conventional fabric spider with a minimalist composite suspension system that revolutionises midrange cone performance by greatly reducing unwanted air pressure – aka sound – that a conventional fabric spider can generate, removing its unpredictable, non-linear effects. The result is unprecedented midrange transparency and realism.

Decoupled Midrange & Turbine™ Head - in all three-way models, midrange drive units include a highly stiff all-aluminium chassis featuring Tuned Mass Dampers (TMD) to quieten any resonance. Other models include the massively stiff all-aluminium Turbine Head enclosure for their midrange drive units, providing not only an outstanding acoustic form but also even better isolation – since the head assembly is itself further decoupled from the bass enclosure below.

Solid Body Tweeter - to minimise the unwanted transfer of resonance into each model’s Diamond Dome tweeters, an exceptionally stiff enclosure is required. The new 800 Series Diamond introduces a revised version of the iconic Solid Body Tweeter housing; this continues to be machined from a solid piece of aluminium, but now it features an elongated form (almost 30cm/12in long) with a longer internal tube-loading system. The new Solid Body Tweeter assembly is now decoupled from the speaker body or Turbine Head (depending on model) in two locations rather than one: this notably improves spaciousness and openness.




Reverse-Wrap Cabinet & Matrix™ - matrix has been a core Bowers & Wilkins technology for more than 30 years and has also been continually developed throughout that time. An internal structure of interlocking panels that brace the loudspeaker internally in all directions, Matrix helps to make speaker cabinets rigid, inert and quiet. Each model now has a stiff aluminium plate on the inside face of its cabinet, bracing its baffle against resonance. Inside, both models also feature updates to their Matrix bracing, with thicker panels made from solid plywood rather than the previous MDF, reinforced by aluminium bracing sections.

Aerofoil™ Cone - the result of advance computer modelling, the Aerofoil Cone is a composite bass cone with a varying thickness designed to offer maximum stiffness where it is most needed while preserving a low mass – thanks to its carbon-fibre skin and light syntactic foam core. Alongside revised and optimised motor systems, each floor-standing speaker in the 800 Series Diamond range now combines its Aerofoil Cones with a new foam Anti-Resonance Plug, which gently braces the voice coil and lowers distortion as the cone moves through its operating range, ensuring even cleaner bass.


Together, all these advances deliver unprecedented performance. The new 800 Series Diamond is the finest range of loudspeakers Bowers & Wilkins has ever created. Bowers & Wilkins, a legacy as one of the world’s leading luxury audio brand who are committed to doing what they love: empowering music lovers to truly hear music as the artist intended, with all the passion and emotion of the original performance. Boasting a range of speakers and headphones that deliver superior audio and that have redefined the design in the categories, which are visually highly impactful.