Wednesday, May 7, 2008


I was in Botswana recently on business, partly that explains my absence from this blog. If you visit a country and you want to know the standard of living there, the first thing you do is look at the cars on the road, it may sound silly but thats the first thing you see after the airport. You will be picked up in a car and you will see numerous cars on the road. thats exactly what i did in Botswana. I arrive at the airport in the evening, the airport itself was so disappointing, tiny and old. I didnt expect much after that. I went through the immigration and met the lady who was picking me up, i didnt complain... We got out and walked to her car guess what, this lady was driving, a black 2007 Jeep Cherokee Renegade, Campas tuned with large wheels, i can swear they were 21"! Botswana just began to impress me. Then we left the airport and headed to the hotel, the first thing i noticed was that there were not many japanese cars on the road, all i could see were alot of Mercedes', BMWs, Volvos, Golfs and Polos.

Jeep Cherokee

Then we got to the hotel, the first thing that caught my eye on the car park was the new Golf GTI with its original wheels . It is a beauty. It actually looks better in real life than on pictures. I have always regarded this golf as the best golf ever, I have never seen the R32 but I think many will agree with me.

Golf GTI

The next day we went to the mall and the parking lot was huge but i did manage to spot a few gems, the new Peugeot 308 coupe was one of them, it has a Audi TT behind and looking at it closely you could see that its TT insipired. Parked and hidded under a shrub was a Porsche Boxter S the cute entry level Porsche, for this one I can say, it looks better in pictures.

The 308
Boxter S

I also spotted a white Nissan Qashqai, thats the only one i saw on the entire trip, honestly i expected to see more Qashqais, but I saw more of was the Volvo S40, it was everywhere, I think everyone in Botswana is buying a Volvo S40. They were in all colours, the gold one being the most common. Everytime I looked out, i saw a Volvo, our rear view mirror was full of Volvo.

Volvo S40


There were also a number of X5s, X3s,and unlike here where the Hilux is the in thing, the Nissan Navara rules suprime there.

I was dropped of at the airport the next day in a Toyota Avanza, which didnt impress me much but what a satisfactory trip it was. we arrived at the airport, i headed towards the entrance and guess what car nearly hit me, yes you guessed right a Volvo S40!

I was thinking why there are very few nice cars in Malawi and i found out that its mainly because there is no financing for buying vehicles. To get a loan at a bank you have to lick some bank managers shoe. It would be easier to sleep with Angelina Jollie than to get a loan at a Bank in Malawi, and if you do get one, you end up paying 10 time the principle.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

New Mercedes Benz C Class

Stansfield Motors just announced the arrival of the new Class in Malawi. Apart from the S Class, this is the model that I have liked a lot. Unlike its predecessor, its a beauty. The signature grill really tell you that its a C Class, you cant miss it. It was voted best compact executive in Car Magazine, beating the likes of BMW 3 series, Lexus IS25o and Volvo S40. I respect the Lex, but this Merc is something else.

Airbags: front/side/curtain
Air-con: dual zone climate control
Audio system: radio/6CD+MP3
Auto locking: yes
Central locking : yes, on key
Cruise control : yes
Driver seat adjust: electric, with 3 x memory
Foglamps: front/rear
Folding rear seat: no
Headlamps leveling: yes
Headlamps auto-on: yes
Headlamp wash: yes
Isofix anchorages: outer rear seats
Mirror dim (int): auto
Park assist: optional
Sat-nav: optional
Steering adjust: rake/reach
Steering audio controls: yes
Sunroof: optional
Trip computer: yes
Tyre sensors: yes
Upholstery: leather
Windows: all electric
Wipers auto-on: yes

Verdict: The first seriously cool Mercedes.

Spotted in Malawi Hammer H3

This suv was spotted in December, it was for sale at one of the car dealers, the price was 25 million Kwacha (USD170, 000)! Thats awfully alot considering the same car is 7.4 million kwacha in South Africa. anyway it was the first time i saw this car here and may be that explains the price. Then just a few weeks ago, another one was spotted. This really shows that Malawians are not far behind in the luxury SUV class. I have see a number of BMW X5s lately, Land Cruiser and few Rangerover Sport.

The drawback with these big SUVs in Malawi is the size of our roads, parking and fuel prices. Some would argue that it would be more expensive to run an SUV in UK than here due to the polution levy imposed on most polluting vehicles. As I see it there is really no good future for these big SUV in developed countries and my prediction is that these vehicles will be cheaper in countries where there are no restrictions. So lets just cross our fingers may be soon we will buy this car at half the price.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The new BMW 650i Spotted

Spotted in Lilongwe yesterday is the 2008 BMW 650i. I am not really a great BMW fan, partly because of the shape or lack there of. And the idrive system is just confusing. Most BMWs handle well but BMW has to learn how to use all its power efficiently. A Porsche or Aston Martin will perform better than any equivalent BMW. But all in all, its a great ride and quite a stunner.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cars That Remind Me of The Past

Car obsession starts when a child is a few months old, perhaps a year for others, for most guys or even some girls, their first toy was a car, a car is every boy’s obsession and that can not be denied. If you have a son who is 2 years old, chances are that you have put posters of super cars in his room. The interest doesn’t go away as a child grows, in fact it increases. When a child becomes an adolescent, the one thing he wants to do is to drive a car. When I was young I had a motorised toy car which I totalled in 2 days because I was riding on top it. Every time I got another toy car, it would only last 2days because I always wanted to see what’s inside.

In the 80s and 90s, Malawi was just developing and with Kamuzu reign people didn’t get to buy nice and expensive cars, for fear of being investigated I guess, but there were cars that were loved by everyone and when you see one today, it takes you all the down memory lane. Everyone has his own list but I will give you my line up.

The Datsun 120Y

Most of us grew up knowing this car with the name Taxi, I guess most taxis (cabs) were 120Ys, we also knew it as Datsun (Pronounced datsun rather than dat-san). Its was great in 2 doors and the signature round headlights and the coupe shaped back. It was really a great car, very reliable, simple engine and no electronics means any roadside mechanic would work on it. This car was called Nissan Sunny B210 in Japan but exported as a Datsun 120Y. It was very popular with buys in north America and as we can all witness in Malawi. This car developed to be the Nissan Sunny we know today.

Mazda 323

Mazda 323 is a small but reliable car. It was popular with people who went to South Africa to work. We can still see a few on the road. It was originally called the Mazda Familia and it was I n production from 1976. It was also known as the Mazda GLC (Great Little Car) in USA then Protégé in North America. Later Familias appeared with a succession of names around the world, including 1000, 1200, and 1300, 800, 808, and 818, Mizer, GLC, 323 and Protegé. The Familia was replaced by the new BK model known as Axela/Mazda3 for 2004. The Axela/Mazda3 comes in both 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback varieties, with a 2.0 litre engine on the 3i sedan and a 2.3 litre engine on the 3s sedan and the hatchback. It shares a platform with the current generation Volvo S40 and the second generation Ford Focus

Ford Cortina

The Ford Cortina was a midsized sedan sold by Ford Britain. Its was very polpular in Britain. In Malawi it was loved because of its luxury and reliability. I remember my Grandmother used to have one, when I see one, it reminds me of all the great times I had as a young car enthusiast. I remember my uncle used to tell us that it could drive itself, he would, while driving, he would raise his knee abit and hold the steering with it, then removed his hands, because we couldn’t see that his knee is holding the steering, we were convinced it was driving itself! The Cortina was replaced in 1982 by the Ford Sierra. In other markets, particularly Asia and Australasia, it was replaced by the Mazda 626-based Ford Telstar, though Ford New Zealand did import British-made CKD kits of the Ford Sierra estate for local assembly from 1984.


The mini was loved by all children as Mr Bean’s car. I remember my dad once borrowed one to take us to the village. Our village is about 11kms off Blantyre Thyolo road. The road is dirt and really bad. The mini did not go beyond 3KMs! We walked the whole way to the village and back to the car! The Mini is the most popular British-made car ever, it was superseded by the New MINI, which was launched in April 2001. The original is considered an icon of the 1960s, and its space-saving front-wheel-drive layout (that allowed 80% of the area of the car's floorpan to be used for passengers and luggage) influenced a generation of car-makers.
Other cars worth mentioning are the Land Rover, Ford Pickup (Body by Mandala) which was proudly assembled in Malawi by Mandala motors, Nissan Patrol, Toyota stout pickup, Morris Marina the list goes on and on.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Chinese Cars for Malawi?

Malawi just ditched Taiwan for China. And the main reason for that is the aid package that the Chinese have promised. Since I don’t care about how much aid we get, I will look at other interesting things. What about the possibility of Malawi roads being flooded with cheap, unsafe and unreliable cars from China. We all know that everything that china exports end up being recalled or sent to the third world countries, but what about cars? We have seen the Ssangyong which I don’t have much to say about because there is nothing really to say about it except the fact that it is written that its powered by Mercedes Benz, I don’t know how far true that is. Of course the Ssangyong is made in Korea but its 51% owned by china. And then there is the Dadi Auto pick up which you can’t even look at twice, makes me wonder why we can’t make our own Malawian car.

But is that really what china has to offer on the road? I set out to look for the best cars in China today. We might be lucky to have some of these cars here soon. I know Malawi is a Toyota country but isn’t anything better in china?

There are several car manufacturing companies in China and the race is about making cheap affordable cars. The major companies include Chery, Geely, Great Wall Motor, Nanjing, Hafei, Zhongxing and Brilliance China. In a series of posts I will be looking at cars from some of these companies and more. We set off with the giants Chery and Great Wall Motor (GMW).

Chery Automobile Co., Ltd. was founded in 1997 by five of Anhui's local state owned investment companies. In 2007, Chery achieved a historical milestone reflecting the domestic emergence of China's growing industrial strength. In that year, it sold a total of 381,000 passenger cars in global market. It has the annual production capacity to produce 650,000 completed vehicles, 400,000 engines and 300,000 transmissions. It produces ten vehicle models: Eastar, Cowin, Tiggo3, A5, V5, QQ3, QQ6, Karry, Riich2 and A1, along with each model's auxiliary engines, transmissions, and its other parts and components. These ten models range from sub compact cars to intermediate and full size passenger cars.

I was more interested and impressed with two models, the little A1 and the Eastar.

The Chery A1 is a cute small car and cheap as well. It comes in two models, the 1.1lL and the 1.3L which is a plus due to the fuel prices and they can do 6L of fuel can take you 100KM at 90km/hr! And a top speed of 156km/hr and 130km/hr in the 1.1L. Unlike the other mini cars I have seen in Malawi like the Altos or the KIA Picanto, this is better looking both inside and outside. I am just looking forward to the day our Chinese connection will reward us with a car like this.

Then there is a more luxurious Eastar, with Delphi ABS system, four Key Safety Systems SRS Airbags, a visual Reverse Radar plus low brake fluid alarm, Eastar puts your safety in its heart. You can also enjoy music or movies via a 3-Screen DVD Stereo System while an automatic thermostatic air-conditioner and 8-way adjustable power leather seats complete a cozy ambience. And if you want sunshine and fresh air, why not check this Double-Deck Sunroof.

Talking about SUVs we have a company called Great Wall Motors (GMW), it is the largest privately owned automotive manufacturer in China It is among “the Top 500 Enterprises of China in 2004″ and one of the best brands in national automobile range. GWM took its first step to become a truly global company by exporting SUVs to the competitive European market in September 2006. GWM already sells cars in about 60 (mostly developing) countries and exports account for about a third of the company’s sales.

The SUV models include the GMW Safe, Sing and Pegasus. They have Luxuries which we don’t have in most SUV and can match the X5 in that department but the problem is they have no looks. But there is one that caught my attention; it’s called the GMW Hover CUV (Compact Utility Vehicle).

It’s the most luxurious of the lot and it has good specs as well, Equipped with the Mitsubishi 4G 64 engine, CUV meets Euro-III emission standard (of course we don’t care about the emission bit). It has the most advanced ABS + EBD system, The Bosch 8.0, a five speed manual gear box, genuine leather seats, 6 CD changer, A/C, anti dizzy rear view mirror, the list is endless. It comes in 2.4L Petrol and 2.8L Diesel engines, The diesel is capable of producing torque of 225@2600rpm and output power of 70kw @ 3600rpm which is not bad at all.

Will we see some of these cars on the roads of Malawi soon?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Nissan Pathfinder in Malawi

The new Nissan Pathfinder is finally in Malawi. My question is why did it take so long? At firstglance it looks like a Navara with a canopy, then you notice the detail and the stylish rear door opening handles. I have seen it in red and white but the red looks better. I havent yet gathered the specs for it as soon I do I will post them.
Could this save us from the zero looks Ford Everest and the power deficient Sorento? Or has the Toyota Fortuner finally met its match. We will put them head to head as soon as we get the specs.