Eight really cool cars we’re in love with this Valentine’s Day

Published Feb 14, 2024


On the unofficially official day of love, we found ourselves reflecting on the cars we’ve experienced in the last year that made a lasting impression on us.

Without further ado, these are the vehicles we’re in love with this Valentines Day.

Ford Ranger Raptor

When the first Ford Ranger Raptors were introduced with their unique styling, big wheels and Fox Suspension we couldn’t get enough of them, especially at speed on gravel roads.

Once the novelty had worn off however, people were asking for more power. A lot more power.

When reports started to surface that Ford was in the process of redesigning the next-gen Ranger we were hopeful that the much-touted V6 diesel engine would replace the 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel mill.

But, no.

Enter a 3.0-litre, twin-turbo V6 petrol engine with 292kW and 583Nm of torque with all the off-road trimmings including a front differential locker and a completely reworked Fox suspension.

The growl coming from the twin tailpipes makes any petrolhead happy and as long as you have the money to fuel it, you gotta love a big V6 petrol bakkie in Baja mode. - Willem van de Putte

Porsche 911 GT3 Touring

There are so many insanely capable Porsche 911s out there that choosing one for your dream garage is probably easier said than done.

But in my current mood I’d probably choose the GT3 Touring. It’s an interesting species of 911, a high-revving GT car in the best possible way. But lacking that large fixed rear spoiler, while gaining some classier trimmings inside and out, it’s basically put on a smart suit and tie so the in-laws won’t know it’s a hooligan of a car.

But when it comes to ripping up the tarmac, this is a GT3 in every sense of the word. It’s available in both six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic formats, and I got to try out the former on some British country roads last year.

The manual gearbox is a joy to stir, with its solid, thunky, carved-from-metal shifting action. Ditto the steering. This car feels gleefully involving and revving its 375kW, normally aspirated flat-six engine to that lofty 9,000rpm red line is surely one of life’s great pleasures. - Jason Woosey

Land Rover Defender

The new Land Rover Defender has been around for a while now, the latest iteration being the 130 launched in Q1 last year.

It’s Marmite on the hate it or love it scale but I enjoy both Marmite and the Defender.

Currently there are 24 different models to choose from ranging from the 90 250D SE to the 130 V8 with engine variations that include diesel, petrol and plug-in hybrids.

They are not cheap by any means though starting at R1.5-million through to R3-million.

Previous generation owners have been very vocal about it, mostly in a negative way, saying that Land Rover has thrown the ethos of the vehicle out the window.

I’m a 90 TD5 owner and don’t agree with them.

It’s still an immensely capable vehicle that will kick most 4x4s to the curb and certainly get to places that a standard previous generation could only dream of.

Sure, it has more electronics than a Space-X rocket but I’m also a realist. Jaguar Land Rover is a business that needs to sell cars and have a look around you, the roads, especially in Gauteng, are cluttered with them.

For a 4x4 SUV the ride is almost unmatched. And if you’re worried about reliability, Google Kingsley Holgate and see what he gets up to with them. - Willem van de Putte

Toyota GR Corolla

Inspired by early Corolla rally cars like the TE25 that earned Toyota’s first WRC victory in 1973, the GR Corolla was born from Toyota President Akio Toyoda’s strong desire to “bring back a Corolla that captivates our customers”.

Following a similar recipe to its smaller GR Yaris sibling, the Toyota GR Corolla boasts a carefully honed all-wheel drive system as well as beefed up suspension and a wider body.

Power comes from an uprated version of the G16-E 1.6-litre three-cylinder turbocharged and intercooled engine found in the GR Yaris, producing 221kW at 6,500rpm and 370Nm from 3,000rpm. It powers all four wheels through a six-speed manual transmission with rev-matching technology, and variable GR-Four all-wheel drive system.

Toyota says that no stone was left unturned in the process of developing the GR Corolla’s chassis. The vehicle was tested repeatedly at some of Japan’s leading circuits and drivers also subjected it to various heavy duty dirt and snow driving courses with a Japanese Rally Championship driver at the wheel.

And it certainly shows. This is no ordinary “hot hatch”. The GR Corolla, is a rally car for the road. - Jason Woosey

Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series

Right on the opposite scale of the Defender is Toyota’s iconic 70 Series. Much loved by farmers, the mining industry and overlanders the “kannie dood” Cruiser is set to be with us for a long time still.

It’s been recently upgraded to include the 2.8-litre four-cylinder engine with the six-speed automatic transmission, the same power plant found in the Hilux, Fortuner and Prado producing 150kW and 500Nm.

Traditionalists (sound familiar, Defender owners?) are gnashing their teeth because of it, saying that it’s tantamount to treason not having a V8 under the bonnet.

If you insist, it’s still available but have a look at the performance figures and then make up your mind.

Also, the auto box makes an enormous difference to the ride quality and performance, not to mention the far better fuel consumption you’ll get out of the 130-litre tank.

Look, it’s still cramped in the cabin, wind noise is a constant at speed and there’s not a list as long as your arm of electrickery and safety features.

Still, it’s a Cruiser and I have often said that if I win the lottery, I won’t tell anyone but there will be signs… like a fully overland kitted 70 Series. - Willem van de Putte

1974 Datsun 260C

This car has been in our family for 50 years and was passed down from grandfather to my mom. I got the car on my 21st birthday. I have a lot of fond memories with the car, including driving to get my matric results with the car and taking my then girlfriend - now my wife - on our first date in the car.

The 2.6 litre straight-six engine still has a lot of grunt, but petrol is definitely a killer! It has a straight seat in front and has been very reliable over the years.

The interior just needs a bit of TLC and I hope to get it back on the road during its 50th anniversary! - John Goliath

Volvo C40 Recharge

Volvo’s first all-electric SUV can decimate sports cars.

The first time I sat inside the C40 was truly a new experience. It felt similar to the way I feel when people describe Japan to me: futuristic. The interior, according to Volvo, is completely leather-free and created out of sustainable materials.

There’s also no ignition. You literally just get in and pull the gear back once and drive, like a Playstation. It feels weird at first, like you are not doing something but still driving.

Then all of those weird feelings start to fade once the C40’s right pedal hits the floor and your face starts to melt off because of the force that pushes back.

The acceleration with such a high level of comfort is by far the best feature of the vehicle, in my opinion. There’s an unspoken amount of confidence that you have when changing lanes because of the delivery of power; it's almost like a superbike. And this is not by any means an exaggeration. They did not pay me to write this.

The C40 makes 300kW and 660Nm of torque and does 0-100 in 4.7 seconds, according to Volvo. For an SUV, that's mad quick. But it doesn’t feel like an SUV around the corners.

The C40 is priced at R1.285 million and, honestly, well worth the money. The efficiency, ease, speed, comfort, and handling are unlike anything in the market for that price. - Jehran Daniel

Volkswagen Tiguan

Last year we were handed the keys to a Volkswagen Tiguan for a long-term test to see what it’s like to live with every day.

And after three months I could say without any reservation that it’s almost perfect as a family SUV to do the home and school run as well as long trips to go on holiday.

We had the 1.4-litre TSI Turbo petrol with 110kW and 250Nm driving the front wheels with VWs DSG six-speed transmission.

There were some nice to haves like Vienna leather seats, 19-inch alloys, adaptive cruise control, folding trailer hitch and extra safety features but to be honest a base spec with possibly adaptive cruise control and trailer hitch would be my choice.

The mechanics stay the same and so does the 520-litres of boot space that swallows a lot of luggage before it overflows.

That 1.4-litre engine is a peach and will gladly chug along in peak hour or up the pace when needed.

With average consumption at 7.2l/100km it gets on without any fuss or fanfare and because it’s a VW you know you’ll get many happy miles with it. - Willem van de Putte