Friday, June 29, 2012


McLaren Automotive has announced its second model, one that will stir the soul even more than its first: the 460kW, twin-turbo V8-engined, open roofed 12C Spider. 

The 12C Spider is based on the same super stiff carbon fibre MonoCell chassis as its hardtop sibling and so will be just as dynamic to drive.  But removing the roof will dial up the sensations experienced, the emotions felt and the noise heard.  Especially at the speeds the 12C Spider will be capable of.   And true to McLaren’s ethos of offering high performance without compromise, the 12C Spider will be more usable than any car this exciting has a right to be.

One man used to excitement behind the wheel is Jenson Button.  McLaren questioned him at last weekend’s European Grand Prix about what speed means to him, the connection he feels with the machine he drives and about what he senses when driving a 300 km/h open top car.  But is he talking about his MP4-27 Formula 1 car or the 12C Spider?  Go to www.youtube.com/mclarenautomotivetv to find out.   

More information on this new and emotive addition to the McLaren Automotive range will be released in the next few days when ordering commences across the company’s network of retailers.



Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), met today with Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, at BMW Group headquarters in Munich to announce the planned expansion of their existing cooperation initiated in December last year

The two companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at long-term strategic collaboration in four fields: joint development of a fuel cell system, joint development of architecture and components for a future sports vehicle, collaboration on powertrain electrification and joint research and development on light-weight technologies.

Also today, Norbert Reithofer and Akio Toyoda of TMC both signed a Joint Statement to reconfirm their companies’ shared intention to strengthen the long-term, strategic collaboration between them.

Reithofer said: “We aim to further strengthen our competitive position in sustainable future technologies. We signed an MoU to this effect today. Toyota and the BMW Group share the same strategic vision of sustainable individual future mobility. Together we have a great opportunity to continue leading our industry through this transformation.”

Toyoda added: “BMW and Toyota both want to make ever-better cars. We respect each other. And I think this is shown by our taking the next step only six months since the signing of our initial agreement. Toyota is strong in environment-friendly hybrids and fuel cells. On the other hand, I believe BMW’s strength is in developing sports cars. I am excited to think of the cars that will result from this relationship.”

In March 2012, the BMW Group and TMC signed a binding agreement on collaborative research in the field of next-generation lithium-ion battery cells. In addition, the BMW Group and Toyota Motor Europe entered into a contract under which the BMW Group will supply highly-efficient 1.6 litre and 2.0 litre diesel engines to Toyota Motor Europe, starting in 2014.

Today’s MoU represents the companies’ agreement in December last year to identify and discuss other possible collaborative projects.


*Pictured are the BMW i8 Concept Spyder and Toyota FT-86 Concept


The Kalahari is estimated to contain 80% of the world’s known manganese reserves, which is an important ingredient in steel. An evaluation of historically available information indicates that up to one-billion tons of mineable ore could exist under the prospecting area, covering a section of 8 000 ha.

Kalagadi Manganese is an R11 billion project and entails the construction of a manganese mine and a 2.4 million-ton-a-year high-grade sinter plant. The three farms on which the company holds new order mining rights are believed to overly have 960 million tons of manganese ore. The recent exploration programme has identified 102 million tons of Mineral Resources.

When Kalagadi Manganese was looking for a rugged, robust and reliable vehicle to use as a fire fighter vehicle, their choice fell on the Mercedes-Benz Unimog 4000.

The iconic Unimog offers top off-road performance and its extreme manoeuvrability makes it possible to go almost anywhere, says Christo Kleynhans, Product Manager: Mercedes-Benz Trucks at Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA).

“The Unimog’s versatility gives it the edge and there are not many, if any, other vehicles that are more suited for fire fighting on hostile terrains. The Unimog is used extensively for rescue missions, fire fighting, flood rescue, recovery and disaster management incidents over the world and its numerous applications are legendary,” he says.

The Unimog is a custom-made vehicle that can be adapted to best suit each individual customer’s needs and requirements.

The chassis concept is what makes the Unimog ideally suited for conversions and why others struggle to compete. The chassis provides extra dimensions to the Unimog, allowing it to operate with strength, stability and superior traction.

Other special features that set the Unimog apart are its ability to retain dryness on special units and electric devices when moving through water – for example, when used in flood incidents. The driver can also adjust the tyre pressure with a push of a button.

Unimog chassis cab was secured through Mercedes-Benz and the fire fighting application was done by Rosenbauer in Spain, says Michael von der Heyde, Sales Manager at Rosenbauer South Africa.

The Unimog chassis allows for an expanded range of flexibility and it requires some expert engineering to fit the specialised equipment. It takes four to six months to complete the process and each Unimog fire engine is closely inspected by Mercedes-Benz upon completion to ensure it complies with their stringent standards and regulations.

The Unimog 4000 to be used by Kalagadi is fitted with a 1500-litre water tank and a 150-litre foam tank. An operator chooses a button to add the foam concentration in a three- or six percent solution to the water.

“Rosenbauer builds pumps with high or extra high-pressure systems that can deliver up to 10 000-litres per minute – almost half the volume of water in an average-size domestic swimming pool,” says Von der Heyde.

“The Kalahari manganese basin is a very dry area with extreme temperatures that are prone to grass and veld fires,” says Daphne Mashile-Nkosi, Chairperson of Kalagadi Manganese. Unimogs have proven very effective at various other mining operations and the team at Kalagadi was suitably impressed when they first saw them in operation. “It was an easy decision to choose a Unimog”, says Mashile-Nkosi.

The Unimog fire endine will also be used to fight fires in the surrounding areas, thereby providing much-needed help to the community.

Whilst handing over the keys to Kalagadi, Frank van Heerden, Sandown managing director said, “The Unimog is a top-of-the-range off-road vehicle with the exact capabilities that are required for Kalagadi’s applications. I am confident that it will serve Kalagadi Manganese and the community well and we are pleased to have been part of the journey from inception going forward.”

The Commercial Vehicle Division of Sandown Motor Holdings represents the most recognized truck brands in the world - Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, Mitsubishi and FUSO. At the heart of Sandown Motor Holdings’ evolution, since their establishment in 1982, lies Daimler AG who bought a majority stake in the dealership group in June 2001. Apart from its highly respected vehicle brands, Daimler AG also brings its technological expertise into the service aspect of the business.

The Commercial Vehicle Division is a flexible organization with a deep understanding of the trucking industry, offering customers the full spectrum of products and support services. These include transport consultancy, parts operations, service operations, body repair centres, fleet services and a fully fledged used commercial vehicle operation.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Toyota South Africa Motors has just announced prices of one of the most eagerly awaited cars, the all-new Toyota 86, which officially debuts locally with the standard model on the 9th July.  This will be followed shortly by two high-spec versions later in the month.

With a starting price of just R298 500 (incl. VAT) for the standard model, this unique two-door 2+2 sports car represents outstanding value for money and positions the car well within reach of those wanting an alternative to the predictable set of hot hatches. 

At the top end of the range are the two highly specified versions (a manual and a six-speed auto with paddle shift), equipped with all the trimmings including Smart Start (keyless entry system), leather/alcantara upholstery, fully automatic climate control system and 17-inch alloy wheels - to list just a few of the items on the standard menu. The 86 High manual will retail for R329 400 while the 86 High 6-speed Auto will carry a sticker price of just R346 500. Please note that all 86 models come with a four-year / 60 000km service plan as standard.

All 86 models are equipped with the newly-developed Subaru 2.0-litre, four-cylinder boxer engine. This is the world’s first horizontally opposed engine with Toyota’s revolutionary Direct Injection 4-stroke petrol System (D-4S). The results are impressive for a normally-aspirated powerplant: 147kW at 7000rpm and 205Nm of torque at 6400-6600rpm.

“The 86 is so much more than just another product, it signals a completely new direction for Toyota,” says Kerry Roodt, General Manager of Marketing Communications. “Here you have a car that’s designed entirely around the driver; a car that exists purely for those who regard driving as a passion rather than a necessity. These cars have, of course, always existed, but for the first time a motor manufacturer is making this much automotive fun available to as wide an audience as possible – that’s genius!”



Jaguar South Africa will make a slightly out-of-the-ordinary attempt this weekend. On Sunday 1st July, a Jaguar XF 2.2 –litre four cylinder diesel will depart from the Union Buildings in Pretoria and attempt to drive to the Durban Beachfront and back – a distance of approximately 1 242 km -  on a single tank of diesel. This is a little unusual in that it’s not the traditional Johannesburg to Cape Town dash, and all the more challenging as a result.

Seasoned economy run expert Roger Rouessart will be driving the frugal luxury sedan under the watchful eye of Richard Carstens from Motorsport South Africa.  No special preparations will be made to the Jaguar XF 2.2.

Over and above the sheer distance of the trip, the route will also lay down the challenges of forced stops through the N3’s multiple toll gates – which increase fuel consumption due to accelerating back to speed - as well as the city driving elements in and out of Pretoria and Durban.

“This will be a real test for the Jaguar XF and the drivers in that it is a realistic trip,” says David Barns, Jaguar Brand Manager and organiser of the attempt. “We’ll be making it even more relevant by running a second XF with an ‘ordinary’ driver behind the wheel to see just how much of a difference driving technique can make.”

The ‘ordinary’ driver will be none other than Ignition TV presenter, Marius Roberts. The motoring channel will document the two Jaguars’ efforts for broadcast during July.

Jaguar’s acclaimed 2.2-litre diesel engine delivers 140kW and 450Nm of torque to allow 8.5-second acceleration to 100km/h and a top speed of 225km/h. Yet the luxury sedan also returns just 5 litre/100km on the open road, which should theoretically allow a cruising range of 1 280km, a fairly critical number to complete the route without filling up.

The team will depart the Union Buildings on Sunday 1st July at 9am, stopping at the Caltex garage in Harrismith, before arriving in Durban for an overnight rest and the return trip on Monday.



Castrol Team Toyota’s Duncan Vos and Anthony Taylor, driving Toyota Hilux bakkies in the premier Super Production class, finished first and second in the 31st Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, which ended near Gaborone this afternoon.  It was Vos’s fourth win in the longest and toughest race in the off road calendar.

For Vos and co-driver Rob Howie it was their third successive victory in their Castrol Toyota Hilux in the 2012 Absa Off Road Championship and extended their lead in the championship.  It was also the second time Vos, a four-time national off road champion, has scored a hat-trick of wins in the national championship.

Taylor and co-driver Chris Birkin also finished second in last year’s Toyota Desert Race and are now second in the championship. 

Privateers Hugo de Bruyn and Henri Hugo (Toyota Hilux) finished fifth overall and fifth in the SP class and combined with Vos/Howie and Taylor/Birkin to secure the manufacturers’ award for Toyota.  Thanks to the efforts of other Toyota privateers, Toyota increased their lead in the overall manufacturers’ championship.

The gap between Vos and Taylor at the finish was just 35 seconds after three days and almost 1 000 kilometres of hard racing in the thick bush and sand of the Botswana desert.  Third-placed Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren (BMW X3) crossed the finish line at Kumakwane, 25 kilometres from Gaborone, 15 min 45 seconds behind the winners. Fourth was the factory Ford Ranger of Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, 15 min 58 sec behind the winning Toyota.  

Privateer Toyota Land Cruisers finished first and second in class D in the hands of Louis Weichelt and Maret Bezuidenhout and Louis’ father Cliff and Johann Smalberger, who finished ninth and 12th overall and were separated at the end by 48 min and 18 sec.

Class E for four-cylinder production vehicles was also the preserve of Toyota, with the Hilux bakkies of Dirk Putter/Jacobus Claassens and Diederick Hattingh/Kristo Bosman surviving the punishing race and finishing in 14th and 16th places among the 16 finishers.  There were 27 starters.

“It was a great weekend for us,” acknowledged a delighted Vos in front of a large crowd of enthusiastic Batswana fans at the finish in Kumakwane.  “It was very important for Toyota to win this race and there was a lot of pressure on us to deliver this result today.  We’re ecstatic to win.  A big ‘thank-you’ to our hard-working technical team for all their hard work and giving me a car that didn’t miss a beat throughout the three days.”

Howie reported that they had enjoyed a clean run throughout the final day and had taken full advantage of being able to dictate the race from the front.  “This result helps our championship campaign as it counts points and a half.”

Taylor remarked, “This is an outstanding victory for Toyota, which should have happened last year.  It was a tough route with lots of challenges for the unwary, as always.  Racing at the head of the field with Duncan and Rob after a good prologue on Friday was a big help as it allowed us to avoid the dust, although we had to open the route through the bush and the sand on the opening sections on Saturday and Sunday.  Thanks to the Botswana fans for all their support.”      
Team principal Glyn Hall, recovering from a champagne shower administered by his celebrating team, was both relieved and delighted.  “It’s taken us a bit longer to win this great race than we would have liked, but we’ve made great progress with the Toyota Hilux since we started in 2010.  Now it’s shown its true capability in the Toyota Desert Race, the toughest challenge in southern Africa, after a faultless performance by not only the two crews, but also by both cars.”

The next round of the championship is the Sun City 400 in North West Province on July 27 and 28. 


Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Ferrari’s clients and enthusiasts across the world have once again demonstrated their generosity. Over the last two weeks, the online auction has raised over €1.8 million (R19 million). That significant sum will now be donated to help the families of the victims of the earthquakes that struck Emilia-Romagna on May 20th and 29th, many of whom died at their workplace.

It took only the slightest encouragement for the Ferrari community to mobilise and bids were soon pouring in from all over the world. Naturally enough, expectations were running high for the 599XX which sold in the end to an American client for over €1.4 million (R14.8 million). This exclusive car is a real one-off and will sport a special commemorative plaque signed by Chairman Luca di Montezemolo and the two Scuderia drivers. It will also be personally delivered to its owner by Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa at the next Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

The F60 nose-cone is bound for the USA too, as it was purchased by a Malaysian client who put in a bid of €23 000 (R243 600). The engine from the F2008, which won the Constructors’ World title in 2008, will instead be wending its way to Great Britain having made €80 000 (R847 000), almost twice its reserve price. There was also an enthusiastic response to the rest of the auction with multiple bids made on all of the lots going under the hammer, including Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa’s helmets and Giancarlo Fisichella’s racing suit.

“I knew I could count on the big-heartedness of the Ferraristi but they’ve still managed to surprise me once again,” declared Ferrari Chairman, Luca di Montezemolo. “I would like to thank all the clients, collectors and enthusiasts that did their bit. Their bids have sent out a message of warmth and solidarity to the people in our region affected by this tragedy.”

The sum raised by the auction includes spontaneous donations sent to Maranello by fans and enthusiasts the world over, including a Russian client who generously gave €100 000 (R1 million), and the proceeds from the sales of the Scuderia Ferrari watches.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Ferrari’s 4.5-litre naturally-aspirated V8 engine has won Best Performance Engine for the second year running in the prestigious International Engine of the Year Awards, beating several new contenders with forced induction engines for the title. Ferrari’s thoroughbred dry-sump, flat-crank, 90-degree V8 also took the accolade in the Above 4-litre category for the second time. 

Importantly the V8, which produces 425kW, pipped McLaren’s relatively new 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 to the top spot.

The jury for the awards is made up of a panel of motoring journalists from 35 countries who judge each shortlisted engine using their subjective driving impressions and technical knowledge, taking into account characteristics such as fuel economy, smoothness, performance, sound and drivability.

The awards were received by Jean Jacques His, head of Ferrari’s powertrain department, who commented “Winning both these important titles again in the face of such strong rivals is naturally a real honour, but most importantly it is testament to the fact that Ferrari’s expertise in engine design is unmatched, not just in terms of technical excellence, but in terms of real-world driving pleasure.”

The Ferrari 458 Italia continues to attract critical acclaim worldwide, with nearly 40 international awards received in its short career. The engine that helped the 458 Italia establish itself as the benchmark in the sports car category is now also fitted to the 458 Spider which has already been the object of critical acclaim, taking five major international awards immediately after launch.


Monday, June 18, 2012


Meet the Audi SQ5 TDI, the most powerful SUV in its class! And guess what? Yap, it’s powered by a diesel engine! Audi has always been at the forefront of performance. Remember the Ur-quattrothat laid the foundation for today’s quattro systems? Or the RS 2 of the 1990s? Or the blistering RS 4?

A sporty, powerful SUV is also nothing new to Audi, if you look to the current forceful 1000Nm Q7 V12 TDI you’ll know what I’m talking about. So the SQ5 TDI comes from some serious pedigree, including that of the diesel kind. A quick glance at the figures more than confirms these thoughts. Fed through all four wheels via quattro and an 8-speed automatic, the mid-sized crosser is pushed forth by a 3.0-litre BiTDI (two turbo) motor scheming out 230kWand 650Nm of torque. We understand it can hit 0 – 100km/h in 5.1 seconds, reaching a top end of 250km/h some time later. At the same time, it’s said to fall just below the 6 litres per 100km mark when it comes to average fuel consumption.

Audi made some changes from the normal Q5, including lowering the suspension system by 30 millimetres, enhancing the exhaust note so that it sounds like a typical S car, using a special single-frame grille, putting on four tailpipes, standard 20-inch wheels (21-inch optional in the UK), piano black finishes inside and plenty of others.

Knowing the good folks down at Audi South Africa as well as we do, a local launch date has been touted as is being finalised as we speak. Only question will be pricing. With no real direct rivals – the closest being BMW’s X3 xDrive35i and xDrive30d, it will be interesting to see where they place it. For what it’s worth, the Audi SQ5 TDI launches in the UK this October at a price of around R590 000.


The history making Top Gear Live Stunt Team has set a new world record by becoming the first to complete a spectacular double loop-the-loop on four wheels. The ground-breaking feat – dubbed the Deadly 720 – was the amazing finale to the first of four Top Gear Festival shows staged in front of a sell-out 15 000+ live audience at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, South Africa (15 to 16 June).

Deadly 720 is the biggest, boldest and most technically challenging stunt yet performed by the record breaking Top Gear Live Stunt Team which also rewrote the history books when becoming the first daredevil outfit to complete a single loop-the-loop in an in-door arena.

“We’ve pulled off some pretty outrageous stunts in the past but this was by far the most audacious yet,” admitted Top Gear Live Creative Director, Rowland French. “We were all holding our breaths as the buggy approached the first loop knowing that there were virtually no margins for error – not least as we’d tried this stunt three times pre-event practice and failed on all three attempts. The maths, though, said it was possible to twice defy gravity… but only if we got everything exactly right. Thankfully, we proved our meticulous calculations were right and, having successfully pulled off this crazy Deadly 720, we’ve now made some more history.”

Staged in one of the venues that hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup Finals to a wildly enthusiastic capacity crowd, the breathtaking stunt required pinpoint precision. “To avoid disaster, the buggy had to enter both back-to-back loops at exactly the right speed – too slow and there was the danger that it would have tumbled from the top; too fast and the driver could have blacked out as a result of the extra G-forces,” explained French. “It really was one of those epic ‘I was there’ moments. The fans just went wild.”

BBC Top Gear’s three television presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond who were hosting the action-packed show in Durban also witnessed the precarious Deadly 720.
“It was quite remarkable,” said Clarkson. “As anyone who has seen Top Gear either live or on TV will know, we are much more famous for mucking about and breaking other things like caravans – certainly not for breaking world records! I’m just glad no one asked me to do it… ”

The jaw-dropping stunt featured two giant steel loops positioned just eight metres apart, which the specially prepared buggy had to complete in quick succession. Testing had revealed the extreme G forces involved would have forced the driver’s foot to bury the throttle resulting in the buggy crashing on exit of the loop, so special hand controls were fitted to lock out the accelerator pedal. The buggy’s dashboard was also fitted with a large shift light that went from red to green when speed was sufficient to complete the loops.

To defy gravity not once but twice, the buggy had to enter each loop at between 39km/h and 42km/h. Failing to achieve the minimum speed risked the buggy falling out at the top of the loop. Too much speed would have resulted in an extra G of force on the driver and could have caused him to black out. Moreover, the buggy needed to exit the first loop with sufficient velocity to enter the second loop at the prerequisite speed.


Sunday, June 17, 2012


Sasol Racing Circuit Team went to the Top Gear Festival in Durban for round 5 of the Bridgestone Production Car Championship expecting a tough weekend and that is exactly what they got.  Hennie Groenewald pocketed a few points for 6th place in Saturday’s race, scant reward for SP Race Engineering’s hard work, but fortunately the team left with both cars intact, ready to fight again at Phakisa in early August.

The pair of Subaru WRX STIs were hampered by the added 70kg imposed by the series controllers and this dramatically weighed down the team.  “It’s like going into a street fight with one hand tied behind your back”, Hennie mused as he saw his title lead eroded.  “We used to be 0.4 of a second off the pace at the coastal venues but the margin has grown to 1.1 seconds”.

Practice and Qualifying
Richard Pinard ran a full free practice session while Hennie stopped early with a tightening engine which the team replaced.  Saturday qualifying was red-flagged on lap 2 after the omnipresent concrete walls claimed another victim.  “The tyres didn’t have a chance to heat up properly in 1½ laps so all I could manage was 6th.  Richard was 11th;  he said: “The walls demand full attention but we didn’t have much time on the track”.  The door mirrors hampered both drivers visibility so they were removed for the races.

Saturday race
In spite of a slipping clutch off the line, Hennie held position thanks to the yellow flag rule, which meant no one could overtake him into the first two corners after the start.  He was under race long pressure from Neil Lobb (BMW) but managed to cling on to take three points for 6th place.  “The 70kgs banged on the WRX didn’t help.  I stayed with the pack as they held each other up, but groups soon formed and I dropped away from the fight. The brakes were spongy so I couldn’t attack”, said Hennie.

Richard retired on lap three with complete brake failure and didn’t take part in Sunday’s race.  “The weekend was very nice except for the racing!  The added weight put a lot of pressure on the brakes.  It wasn’t worth risking myself or the car.  Hopefully, the situation will be resolved before Phakisa”, said the disappointed driver.

Sunday race
The early morning qualifying session saw Hennie scoop another 6th place starting slot.  As the race got underway, Hennie came under pressure from Anthony Taylor, who started from the back of the grid.  “Taylor closed at a rate of ½ second per lap.  I tried one defensive line but then the car’s engine hit 115ºC and went into ‘limp’ mode, so all I could do was cruise to the finish”, Hennie explained.

“We will have to rebuild our championship from Phakisa.  It’s quite clear the Technical Working Group is inconsistent in terms of their mandate which is not achieving the desired objective.  It’s clear the system doesn’t work and their decision has cost me valuable championship points.  Our competitors ‘decided’ our fate this weekend”, said the forthright driver.

Sasol Racing Circuit Team Principal Carel Pienaar added: “The pre-event predictions unfortunately happened.  We hope reason will prevail before Phakisa.  The weight penalty applied cost us our championship lead and has undone all the good work over the year.  It’s time the Technical Working Group analyze the facts and stop using words like “they say” and “apparently”.  People are very selective in their rationale”.

The Subaru WRX STIs will be out in action at Phakisa in Welkom on 4th August.


Thursday, June 14, 2012


Ford South Africa handed over the keys of a brand new Ford Kuga to Unathi Msengana - Metro FM DJ, accomplished singer and judge on South African Idols today in Silverton, east of Pretoria.

The Kuga is a stylish and exciting proposition. Not only does it look good and promise a rewarding driving experience but it offers exceptional practicality and comfort to boot.

“Unathi was an obvious choice,” comments Gavin Golightly, Ford Marketing Manager. “As a mother of two with a busy professional life the Ford Kuga is perfectly suited to her lifestyle. Ford is also a proud sponsor of South African Idols and so it proved a natural extension.”

Unathi has risen through the ranks on the South African entertainments scene. The singer, songwriter, Idols judge and radio host recently released her third studio album ‘with Love’ on the heels of her sophomore album ‘In Honour’ which reached Gold status.

“Each day, driving the Kuga, is a day full of surprises,” she says. “From the powerful engine, the heated seats, the panoramic sunroof, the blue tooth phone application to the great sound system. All of these features ensure the best driving I have experienced to date.”

Despite her busy schedule Unathi made time to visit Ford’s assembly plant in Silverton, east of Pretoria. She enjoyed a tour of the facility and made herself available for autographs with employees at the Plant.

“I wanted to see how vehicles are made and to meet all the hard working staff behind the brand. It was a fantastic experience that was both enlightening and informative,” she concludes. 



BMW South Africa has once again retained its title as the “Coolest Motor Vehicle” and the “Coolest Corporate Citizen” amongst our youth in the recent published Sunday Times Generation Next Brand Survey 2012.

Now in its eighth year, the Sunday Times Generation Next Brand Survey is the leading annual youth brand preference and consumer behaviour survey, which has featured the BMW brand in pole position for several years.

A component of the survey includes a brand preference study to gather the opinions of over 6 000 young urban South Africans aged between 8 and 22 with the purpose of establishing which brands are the ‘Coolest of the Cool’ across 72 different categories. The study spans seven provinces and is inclusive of males and females as well as all race groups. 

In the Coolest Corporate Citizen category, BMW scooped first position with the likes of Coca- Cola, DSTV, Woolworths and McDonald’s following behind.

“We are proud to have been awarded this accolade. BMW has become far more to South African society than simply a manufacturer of vehicles for the local market,“ says Bodo Donauer, Managing Director of BMW South Africa. “Over time, our company has deeply ingrained itself into the very fabric of this country, championing sustainable economic growth, better-quality education, disease prevention and community development.”

BMW was also voted the Coolest Motor Vehicle with Mercedes-Benz and Audi having to settle for second and third place respectively. Furthermore BMW was awarded second place, behind BlackBerry, as the Coolest Brand Overall in this year’s Sunday Times Generation Next Brand Survey.

“BMW has a marketing and communication strategy rooted in the belief that today’s youth is tomorrow’s most influential consumer and we are therefore pleased that we are acknowledged amongst our youth. Being awarded these titles is a great compliment to the sustainable efforts BMW South Africa has committed to,” concludes Donauer. 



A special run of 50 Limited Edition Freelander 2 models will be made available this June. Featuring unique interior and exterior design elements the Limited Edition model offers added appeal.

An exterior design pack sets the Limited Edition model apart from its contemporaries. The design enhancements include a unique grille insert, fender vent and rear signature strip finished in a new gloss black effect. More pronounced front and rear bibs, side sills and a tailgate spoiler accentuate the design while tailpipe finishers, body painted door handles and mirrors and black finished 19” alloy wheels complete the exterior profile.

Inside the cabin, new sports themed electric seats lead the changes. The Ebony Napoli leather finish with matching door casings, facia foils and door pulls ensure a luxurious environment further complemented by the unique headrest embossing. Premium carpets and Titan painted door pulls further add to the allure while the silver facia elements and pedal kit allude to the vehicles sporty credentials.

Based on the 2.2 SD4 HSE derivative the Limited Edition Freelander 2 features a 2.2-litre turbo diesel with 140kW of power and 420Nm of torque on offer. The use of an Intelligent Power Management System (IPMS) provides ‘smart charging’ of the battery by recovering kinetic energy when the vehicle is slowing wherever possible, rather than consuming fuel by charging when the vehicle is accelerating.

The second generation Asin Warner AWF21 automatic transmission ensures competitive efficiency and emissions. The Torque converter lock-up works over a wide range improving comfort, fuel economy and driveability, while optimisation of internal components reduces weight and inertia for faster shifting.

The Freelander 2 features Land Rover’s acclaimed Terrain Response. The many function of Terrain Response are underpinned by the high levels of body stiffness which provide the best foundation for excellent ride and handling characteristics as well as off-road performance.

The Freelander 2 provides the safest possible environment for occupants. The Command Driving Position provides good visibility of all four corners of the vehicle and narrow A-pillars ensure that forward visibility is not compromised. There are seven airbags: two curtain, two front, two thorax and a driver’s knee bag as standard. The transverse engine mounting not only frees up interior space but offers impressive crash performance, helping the Freelander 2 achieve a 5 star Euro NCAP rating for adult occupant protection.

As with all Land Rovers, the Freelander has been rigorously tested worldwide in the UK, USA, Middle East Australia and Russia in temperatures ranging from -40 °C to + 50 °C and up to 95% humidity. 



Ford has scooped the most coveted engine award in the world by winning the 2012 International Engine of the Year Award for its 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol turbo motor. The little 3-cylinder pusher kicks out 73kW and 92kW - which is close to the early 2000s Ford Focus 2.0-litre power, depending on configuration. It’s also rated at 109g/km and 114g/km in C02s respectively when used by the Focus.

These awards have been going on for the past 13 years and this is the first time that Ford has taken the top honour.

“We set the bar incredibly high when we set out to design this engine,” said Joe Bakaj, Ford vice president, Global Powertrain. “We wanted to deliver eye-popping fuel economy, surprising performance, quietness and refinement – and all from a very small, 3-cylinder engine.”

The International Engine of the Year is determined by a panel of 76 automotive journalistsfrom 35 countries around the world. Judges consider drivability, performance, economy, refinement and the successful application of advanced engine technology. The popularity of the 1.0-litre EcoBoost with judges saw it receive 28% more points than its closest rival – the Volkswagen 1.4 TSI - and the highest points total of any engine in the competition’s history (401 points).

Ford South Africa will start selling cars fitted with this award-winner from 2013. We don’t quite know which models will be first to benefityet, but in Europe, the Focus was the first one out with it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Ferrari Classiche recently took delivery of one of the more interesting cars ever to leave the factory - a 275 GTB4 that originally belonged to legendary American star, Steve McQueen who took delivery of the car in San Francisco when he was on the set filming Bullitt.

The new owner brought the car to Ferrari Classiche for the company's authenticity certification process, knowing that at some time during the 1980s, when under previous ownership, the car had been converted to a Spider.

Under the provisions of the certification process, a Ferrari can only be authenticated if it is to exactly the same specifications as when it left the factory. To this end, the new owner decided to return the car to its original coupé form and Ferrari Classiche has undertaken the restoration reproducing the roof and buttresses with hand-beaten steel panels.

Ferraris continue to be an excellent investment, as has shown in a recent report by Business Week on a private treaty sale for US$35 million (around R293 million) of a 250 GTO built for Stirling Moss.

A world record price that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the launch in 1962 of this homologation special (hence the designation Gran Turismo Omologata), of which just 36 examples were built, and which achieved a seemingly endless series of victories in GT racing in the early 1960s, culminating in three consecutive Manufacturers' titles in 1962, '63 and '64.

The Ferrari 250 GTO has been well regarded in classic car circles for decades for its combination of thoroughbred looks, performance and motor sports heritage and, in 1990, a 1962 example set a then record auction price of US$10 756 833 (about R90 million). This world record was to stand for 18 years until it was beaten in 2008 by another Ferrari, a 1961 250 California sold by RM Auctions in collaboration with Sotheby's in Maranello for US$10 910 592 (about R91 million). That record was again beaten in 2011 by the sale in Pebble Beach of a 1957 250 Testa Rossa for $16.39 million (around R137 million).

A considerable contribution to the interest for classic Ferraris in recent years has come from the company's direct involvement, with its dedicated department providing certificates of authenticity which testify to the originality of a car. Set up in 2006, Ferrari Classiche has to date processed over 3 300 certification requests using the company's exhaustive archive records and original designs. 



The 2013 Chevrolet Spin, an all-new, small multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) designed for families on the go and their gear, will join Chevrolet’s growing global portfolio when it launches in Brazil later this month. The Spin will go on sale in Indonesia in 2013 and additional markets will be announced at a later date.

The announcement of the all-new model was made by GM Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson at the company’s Annual Meeting in Detroit.

“Spin is a great-looking, efficient and functional small MPV, and the only vehicle in its class to offer a six-speed automatic transmission,” said Akerson. “Spin will be affordable to purchase and – just as important – affordable to own.”

The Chevrolet Spin will offer seating for five or seven passengers. It delivers flexibility, car-like handling, cargo-carrying capability and great fuel economy with the look of an SUV, thanks to its muscular exterior and wide stance. Inside, the Spin cabin illustrates Chevrolet’s commitment to provide more-than-expected value with details and levels of execution usually associated with more expensive vehicles.

After a record sales year in 2011 and a record first quarter, Chevrolet continues to meet diverse customer needs around the world by expanding its portfolio with strong new entries.

The Chevrolet Spin is an important addition to the Chevrolet portfolio globally, and follows the successful launches of other vehicles around the world such as the Malibu midsize sedan, Colorado, TrailBlazer midsize SUV, Cobalt sedan and Cruze wagon.

In 2011, when Chevrolet sold a record 4.76 million vehicles around the world, the top 10 markets were the United States, Brazil, China, Russia, Mexico, Canada, Argentina, Uzbekistan, India and Colombia.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Multiple SA off road and rally champion Hannes Grobler plans to finish his remarkable 36-year motor sport career at the end of the 2012 motor racing season.  He will make his final appearance in racing overalls, boots and gloves on November 24 at the season-ending eighth round of the Absa Off Road Championship.

“It’s time to hang up the driving gloves,” says the immensely popular racing driver, who is probably the world’s longest serving competitor in motor sport who is still a genuine contender for overall victory in a national motor racing championship.
“I still enjoy my racing,” he says with his ever present smile “but there comes a time when you need to spend more time with your family.  I’ve been blessed with a long and enjoyable career, with more than my fair share of success. These last few years I have concentrated on helping RFS Motorsport to develop the BMW X3 into a competitive off-roader that can win any national championship event and also to help Christiaan and Henk gain the confidence to take over and win races for the team in the years ahead".
During his long and distinguished career Grobler has won two SA amateur rally drivers championships (1979 and 1980), two national rally drivers championships (in 1986 and 1991), two rally production car drivers championships (1998 and 1999), and four national off road drivers championships (1986, 2003, 2004 and 2006).  He was awarded his Springbok colours for motor sport in 1987 and his National Colours in 1999. 
“Mooi man!” as Hannes is fond of saying.
Unlike some other respected sports personalities, the irrepressible 57-year-old father of two daughters, Adelle and Nicolette, whose mother, Elmarie, he has been married to for 35 years, is not ending his career as an also-ran.  He is still very much a contender for overall honours in the 4.8-litre V8 Retirement Fund Solutions Racing BMW X3 and respected as such by his peers.  His most recent win with co-driver and long-time friend Hennie ter Stege, also a former champion, was in the final round of the 2011 championship in his sponsor’s own event, the RFS Magalies 400 in Gauteng.
Grobler is one of South Africa’s most loved and recognised sportsmen and his good natured and fun loving personality has enriched the sport he has dedicated himself to with distinction and created for him an army of devoted fans.  Always professional in his approach to competition, but never forgetting that it is a sport and to be enjoyed, he is a tough competitor who doesn’t know the meaning of giving up. 
His propensity to throw whatever racing car he is driving sideways whenever he passes through a spectator point illustrates his innate desire to be a showman, but belies his dedication and skill that has earned him more off road racing wins and fans in the last 12 years than any other driver.
There are five more rounds of the Absa Off Road Championship before Grobler hangs up his gloves and it would be a foolish punter who bets against him standing on the top step of the podium one more time and spraying champagne with his ever-present smile.
His next outing in the mighty X5-engined BMW X3 is on June 22, 23 and 24 in the famed Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, a marathon he has won a record six times, most recently in 2010.

STORY COURTESY OF Peter Burroughes Communications


The on-line international charity auction organised by Ferrari will started has in order to raise funds for the families of the victims of the recent earthquakes in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy.

Clients, collectors and Ferrari enthusiasts alike will be able to make their contribution on the www.ferrari.com web site which opens with a message from the company’s Chairman, Luca di Montezemolo. “I am sure,” he said, “we can count on the generosity of those close to Ferrari around the world who have always kindly supported this kind of initiative in the past. A terrible earthquake struck our region and the people we know, and together we want to help the families of the victims in this time of need. We are holding an auction of some truly unique and exclusive items for all Ferrari’s friends and enthusiasts to whom I would already like to express my heart-felt thanks.”

The principal offer of the auction, which can be accessed via www.ferrari.com or directly on www.ferraristore.com, is a 599XX Evo, the extreme, non-homologated sports berlinetta with a reserve of €1.35 million (about R14 million). The car will be built specifically for this occasion and will have a number of unique features, including a special plaque dedicated by Ferrari’s Chairman, Luca di Montezemolo, and the Scuderia Ferrari drivers, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, who will hand the car over to the lucky new owner at the Monza Grand Prix weekend in September.

There are a number of rare pieces from the world of Formula 1, starting with a 2008 V8 engine, with which the Scuderia won its 16th Constructors’ World Championship title, with a reserve of €50 000 (about R526 000). Collectors and enthusiasts can also bid on racing suits, gloves and helmets autographed by Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, an original nose cone from the F60, the F1 car that saw Ferrari celebrate its 60th consecutive year in the World Championship, and a Formula 1 racing suit from Giancarlo Fisichella.

To contribute to the fund-raising efforts it will also be possible to purchase from www.ferraristore.com Scuderia watches, the proceeds of which will go towards the auction funds. The auction will end on the 20th of June. 



The first production units of the all-new Chevrolet Trailblazer are now rolling off General Motors Thailand’s (GM) production line in Rayong.

The range-topping LTZ model fitted with the 2.8-litre Duramax turbo-diesel engine was greeted by the facility’s 5 200 employees, key suppliers and Chevrolet dealers from across the country. The Rayong plant is the first in the world to build the new Trailblazer, which will be sold in Thailand and exported to more than 50 markets across Southeast Asia and beyond, including South Africa.

Based on General Motors’ new global body-on-frame midsize truck architecture, the seven-seat Trailblazer features premium ride comfort and handling dynamics for urban and highway driving, matched by superior off-road capabilities.

“The Trailblazer is strong and capable. Ready for rugged off-road conditions but equally well-mannered for city and long distance road trips,” said Martin Apfel, President of GM Thailand/Southeast Asia. “It’s yet another world-class Chevrolet product that demonstrates the capability, commitment and attention to detail of our dedicated Thai workforce.”

“The Trailblazer will be built in Thailand for Thailand, and soon also make its way into the rest of the world. And delivery of the Trailblazer to our customers in Thailand starts right now,” Apfel continued.

According to Apfel, parts suppliers are ready to support GM, and the expected demand for the Trailblazer. As much as 70 percent of the Trailblazer’s parts will be sourced locally from Thai suppliers.

“Production is now getting into full-swing. Since May this year, we have added a third shift to our assembly and powertrain plants,” he continued.

“We will also continue to look for more skilled workers to join us, as we respond to the increased demand for our products, locally and overseas.” Apfel added.


Sunday, June 10, 2012


Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan (Castrol Team Toyota Auris) closed the gap to championship leaders Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Ford Fiesta) after finishing sixth in the Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally, which finished at Zwartkops Raceway west of Pretoria on Sunday.

Despite losing some four minutes on Saturday’s opening stage after stopping to replace a flat wheel, Gemmell was able to reduce Cronje’s championship lead to just three points after the Ford failed to finish day one and eventually came 11th overall after restarting on Sunday under the Super Rally rules.  Cronje hit a donga 1.5 kilometres into the opening stage, destroying the Ford’s rear suspension. 

Leeroy Poulter and Elvene Coetzee retired the second Castrol Team Toyota Auris at the end of the second stage on Sunday with engine problems. They were in eighth place at the time, one place behind their team-mates, after also stopping to replace a flat wheel on Saturday’s opening stage.

Privateers Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Grant Martin flew the Toyota flag high when they finished in third place in their Team Total Toyota Auris, 4.9 seconds behind second-placed Hein Lategan and Johan van der Merwe (Peugeot 203) and 11.8 seconds behind the winning Ford Fiesta of Jon Williams and Cobus Vrey.

“Without the puncture Johnny would have almost certainly won,” said Castrol Team Toyota boss Glyn Hall.  “The wheel change took too long due to soft ground and difficulty keeping the jack upright.  With a normal, two-minute tyre change there was still a possibility to win.  The Auris was quick and Johnny pushed hard with the championship in mind.  Leeroy was also on the pace until his engine problem.”

The next round of the championship is the Volkswagen Rally in the Eastern Cape on July 13 and 14.  



New patents filed by BMW show that the company is investing in a new 7-speed manualgearbox. While it would not be a world-first (Porsche already claimed that with the new 911), the transmissionwould certainly be a first for BMW. Also, it would herald a brand new concept in gear changes, something that would be a world-first.

According to files in the European patents offices, a 7-speed manual gearbox was applied for and detailed by the company from Bavaria. It is in line with increasing emissions laws that demand car makers reduce C02carbon emissions drastically over the next 10 years. Put very simplistically, the more gears a gearbox has, the more it saves fuel (terms and conditions always apply). But so far manufacturers have only gone for the 6-speed manual, with automatic being the more adventurous one at a high of 8-speed or CTV (unlimited gears).

A much more interesting prospectis one where BMW is said to also be investigating the use of a an automatic gearbox that looks and behaves like a manual, but cuts out the clutch pedal. Thus drivers get to change gears as if they were driving a manual using a gated gear lever, except with only two pedals to contend with – brake and accelerator. No more stalling! Best of both worlds.

At IN4RIDE have always wondered why no one has devoted time to this concept yet, and are quite excitedthat BMW is at least looking at it.
//PART 2