Monday, April 22, 2013


According to Autocar, Audi is very much interested in building a new SUV that’s bigger than the Q7. We aren’t too sure if the car is actually bigger, or is just pitchedhigher than the Q7, but really the point is that there is another big SUV being touted at Ingolstadt. The car may be called the Q8.

Technical head Wolfgang Dürheimer is quoted as saying that “I pushed for the Bentley SUV and I'm pushing for Audi to make something in this segment also. I could see Bentley and Audi both making SUVs, and Lamborghini also; in my job I'm trying to encourage the Lamborghini SUV project to progress.” Audi “owns” Lamborghini within the Volkswagen Group.

He is said to have said that SUVs are a top priority for Audi, probably because in China, the company’s fastest-growing region, SUVs are going like hot soup at a homeless kitchen. Another SUV that’s a possibility is a Q2, which of course would be smaller than the Q3. The Q2 would really be an indirect competitor of the MINI Countryman.


Porsche has unveiled the facelifted Panamera. The car was lifted out of its covers in China at the 2013 Auto Shanghai. Several changes were made, especially under the skin and one of these has been the introduction of the Panamera S E-Hybridwith an incredible claimed fuel consumption figure.

Let’s start with the S E-Hybrid. The base unit is a 3.0-litre petrol engine that’s mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox. Electricity comes from a pack of lithium-ion batteries that can be recharged in a matter of hours. In total the system puts out 306kW and 590Nm of torque between 1250rpm and 4000rpm. Now here are some really unbelievable number: Porsche claims the S E-Hybrid can average 3.1 litres per 100km from its 80 litre fuel tank! That’s incredible. C02 emissions are 71 g/km. The car will be able to go from 0 – 100km/h in 5.5 seconds and top off at 270km/h.

The other new models are the V6 biturbo units that replace the “old” 4.8-litre V8. Powering the Panamera S and Panamera 4S, the engine pulls out 309kW at 6000rpm and 520Nmbetween 1750rpm and 5000rpm. The cars are rated at 5.1 and 4.8 secondsrespectively in terms of the 0 – 100km/h sprint.

Lastly Porsche has paid tribute to the fact that China is now its second-most important market after the USA, and that Panamera specifically has had about a third of its sales go to China since it was launched. In order to thank that market and supply a model that’s high in demand, the Panamera Executive range was announced. It’s just like the other models, except its wheelbase has grown by 15cm, making it a sort of limousine.

Porsche South Africa will release the new Panamera within the next few months. 


The new Ford Rangersingle cab is now available with the company 3.2-litre turbo diesel powertrain. Ever since Ford launched the car it’s been a great seller, regularly sitting on the top 3 of best-selling bakkies (pickups) each month.

The new derivatives are available in either 4x2 or 4x4, both mated to a 6-speed manualtransmission. Maximum power is 147kWand peak torque is 470Nm. Very good figures for towing, and Ford says both will be able to tow up to 3 350kg and achieve wading depths of 800mm. Bloody good for an everyday single cab. The other useful feature is the load box volume of 1.82 cubic metres.


The Maserati Ghiblicame out at the 2013 Shanghai Motor Showand is the Italian marque’s answer to the likes of Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. But of course, this being a Maser means it will be light years more expensive. Or maybe not, we’ll see.

Ghibli measures some 4.97 metres in length, which is about 29cm shorter than the larger Quattroporte. The car features something called Maserati Active Sound system which basically emulates the “Maserati” exhaust tailpipe sound and makes it sound awesome. It’s also apparently the only car in its class to use a standard mechanical limited slip differential that helps with grip.

Staying with performance, the Ghibli is being launched with two engine derivatives of the same motor, which is a 3.0-litre V6 with two turbochargers. The lesser of the two delivers 243kW and 500Nm of torque, is said to return 9.6 litres per 100km and can run from 0 - 100km/h in just 5.6 seconds. I suppose this would be the BMW 540i/ Merc E350/ A6 3.0 T rival.

More potent is the 301kWversion with its 550Nm of torque and a 0 – 100km/h in 4.8 seconds. Two powertrains, a Ghibli S (rear-wheel-drive) and S Q4 (all-wheel-drive), are available. Both models can supposedly reach 285km/h, so there’s no so-called “gentlemen’s agreement” on 250km/h here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


The new Toyota Yaris rally car claimed its first podium finish in only its second outing when Toyota Motorsport’s Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee finished third in a Castrol-backed example in the Sasol Rally in Mpumalanga on Saturday. In the process they moved up to second place in the championship.

Team-mates Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan were fifth in a second Castrol Team Toyota Yaris in the two-day event, which ended in Nelspruit after 13 special stages run in extremely wet and misty conditions.

Poulter, winner of the 2011 Sasol Rally with Coetzee in a Castrol Toyota Auris, was enthusiastic about his new rally car. “We have made great progress with the new Yaris, but this was no place to push the car to the limit. The weather conditions were atrocious and I’m surprised more people didn’t go off the road and damage their cars. We managed to complete the rally relatively unscathed, although we lost some time on a couple of occasions when we wrong-slotted in the mist. At times you couldn’t see much further than the car’s bonnet. The Yaris has a lot of potential.”

Gemmell, who hit a tree stump after going off the road in the misty and slippery conditions on special stage two, pushing the sump guard into the radiator, used all his skills to nurse the overheating Toyota through the rest of the stage and the next stage before he could reach the designated service park. The service crew performed a near miracle to repair the car in just 30 minutes. The entire radiator support structure had to be cut out and was replaced with a makeshift frame welded into place before a new radiator could be installed.

“We were able to do a little bit of testing between the first two events and the changes and improvements we made worked well. I’m impressed with the Yaris at this early stage in its development,” said the twice former Sasol Rally winner, who repaid the service crew for their efforts by winning the first stage on Saturday.

Giniel de Villiers and Greg Godrich hit a roadside rock in heavy mist on day one, terminally damaging a third new Toyota Motorsport Yaris that was only completed the day before the rally started and was making its debut in Imperial Toyota colours.

“I misjudged a tight corner in the mist eight kilometres into special stage two and we hit a large rock half hidden in the grass on the side of the road and spun into a bank,” explained De Villiers. “It took out the left-hand front lower wishbone and steering arm. The technical team performed their usual magic and had the car ready for us by the early start on Saturday morning so that we could compete in the Super Rally and test and feel the potential of the new Yaris.

Team principal Glyn Hall commented: “Overall I am happy with the weekend’s performance. We did some good testing in dry conditions the day before the event and it was clear we had made good progress. We changed the set-up on the car during the rally, adapting the car to the muddy conditions.

“It’s about confidence for the drivers when the roads are so slippery. Johnny was unfortunate, the mist was very thick on the exit of a fourth gear corner and he had to commit to his line, which was a bit wider than the road, the car proved its strength surviving a massive impact.”

//PART 2