Thursday, August 30, 2012


The latest spy shots of the upcoming BMW 3 Series GT now pretty much show the car as it will be when it’s launched. GT is essentially an Audi A5 Sportback competitor and will be sold in Mzansi where people seem to prefer this type of style over the classicalstation wagon format.

If it’s anything like the 5 Series GT though, don’t expect an abundance of boot space, although there should be more than in the sedan. Engines will of course, reflect the current F30 lineup’s, including the 2.0-litre turbo making 135kWand 180kW, as well as diesels. Whether an M3 GT will also feature is up in the air at the moment, but we know if it does, it would be endowed with a 3-litre turbo (two or three) for a power output of about 330kW.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


The all-new 2013 Mazda6is now officially unveiled. Mazda’s flagshipsedan, redesigned from the top down using the KODOSoul of Motion philosophy and based on the Takeri Concept carof 2011, is said to be quite the driver’s car. Pity it doesn’t look like there’s any turbo engines in the range.

“We have created a design in which the wild and dynamic expressions of motion artistically realise a powerful presence,” said chief designer Akira Tamatani. “Simply looking at the car heightens one’s expectations about the driving experience even before actually riding in it.”

Mazda6 measures 4.9 metres long, 1.8m wide, 1.45m tall and has a wheelbase that’s 2.8m long. So it’s more spacious than its predecessor, including 37mm extra legroom and 20mm more shoulder room for the rear passengers. Front suspension is MacPhersonstrut system, while the rear uses a multi-linksetup.

Two engines have been confirmed, although we don’t know which of them will be headed to Mzansi. One is the SKYACTIVE-G 2.0-litre that makes 110kW at 6000rpm, and 210Nm of torque at 4000rpm. Second is the 2.5-litre pushing out 141kW at 5700rpm and 256Nm at 3250rpm. Both are available with either a 6-speed manual or automatic. Again, in this day and age, to be without a turbo engine is like being in Alaskawithout a polo neck; you’re just exposedto the harsh elements. Mazda is a very small player in the world and has become even smaller since its virtual divorcefrom Ford.

The new car should be available for sale from your local Mzansi Mazda dealership sometime in 2013. It will probably find it tough going as it faces up to hot segment sellers like the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima.


Dany Bahar during funner days

Lotus Elan Concept

Lotus Esprit Concept
In addition to becoming obsolete and pointless, Lotus is now facing a lawsuit from Dany Bahar, its ousted CEO. Bahar is suing Lotus and its parent company DRB-Hicom for wrongful dismissal, to the tune of around R90 million.

The company got rid of Bahar about two months ago. Reasons were not made public but it’s highly speculated that DRB-Hicom, which owns Lotus owner Proton Motors, was seriously not impressed with his running of the British brand. Some might even say his running down of it. The lawsuit will be defended and papers have already been filed from both sides.

According to DRB, “Dany Bahar was dismissed after an investigation into his stewardship of Lotus. We believe we have acted properly at all times.”

Bahar joined Lotus in 2009from Ferrari where he was a vice president for the Global Brand. He promised to take on Ferrari and Porschehead-on with products like a revamped Esprit, Elan and Elise among others. Analysts reckoned at the time Bahar needed around €800 million (about R8.4 billion) to successfully develop and take these to market. Clearly the money didn’t come through because these cars have not materialised.


Chinese car giant Geely might very soon work with Volvo in a new jointly-developed model to rival Audi’s A1 and BMW’s MINI. According to European media reports the only way this could become a feasible project would be if the Swedish manufacturer ties up with Geely to supply a power plant for the new compact.

Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby was quoted as saying Volvo was considering adding a rival to the MINI and A1, but would need a partner to share the costs, as well as a smaller engine, which would probably be manufactured in conjunction with Volvo’s parent company, Zhejiang Geely of China.

According to Jacoby buyers of premium cars are prepared to pay more for smaller cars as they “no longer define luxury based on the size of the car or the number of cylinders”.

Volvo’s focus for the immediate future will be on renewing the company’s core ranges such as the 60, 80/90 and SUV ranges. Niche models, sporty versions of current models and a new model to rival the MINI or A1 might only follow much later.


Monday, August 27, 2012


All-wheel-drive has been a strong point for Porsche for decades now. It’s no surprise then that the new 911 Carreracan now be ordered with AWD. Yes, that means all four wheels pulling the car forward, instead of just the rear two. The new 911 Carrera 4, 4S, 4 Cabriolet and 4S Cabriolet can be ordered from your Porsche Centre in Durbanor Jozi.

Mechanically the cars pull on all four wheels, as mentioned before, through Porsche’s AWD Porsche Traction Management (PTM) system. Depending on personal preference, they will come fitted with either a 7-speed MANUALgearbox or the 7-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) we know from other existing models.

The 911 Carrera 4 has a 3.4-litreflat-6 naturally aspirated engine worth 257kWand 390Nm of torque. It’s equipped to go from 0 – 100km/h in just 4.9 seconds (4.7 for the PDK), reach a top end of about 285km/h while averaging 8.6 litres per 100km in fuel for the PDK and 9..3 litres per 100km for the manual. Then you have the Carrera 4Swhich uses a 3.8-litre flat-6 for its 294kW and 440Nm. Said to sprint from 0 – 100km/h in 4.3 seconds (4.5 for manual), the 4S will almost reach 300km/h top speed if left unchecked. Average fuel consumption is set at 9.1 and 9.9 litres for the PDK and manual respectively.

Porsche prides itself as the “everyday sports car”, and made sure this mantra is not lost in the new Carrera 4. To this end, nice features like an 11.6cm TFT colour screen, adaptive cruise control that works at up to 240km/h, and a Burmester sound system with 12 speakers and 821 Wattsof sound power are the norm. You also get dual climate control, park assist and keyless entry. The car also features 25mm more legroom than its predecessor. 

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Volkswagen South Africa will launch the brand new redesigned Beetle in early October. We have the lowdown on the engine models and some indicative pricing! Beetle is a direct competitor to the MINI from BMW and as such, is considered to be a premium car. Therefore the indicative entry price of R250 500 seems well within reach.

The car will come fitted with either 1.2-litre TSI or a 1.4-litre TSI. The smaller is good for 77kW, while the bigger does 118kW. There is talk of a performance model which hopefully will come good with 132kW or even 155kW.

Some of the optional features include a 10-channel music amp with 400 watts on its palate, and a satellite navigation system.

VW says new Beetle has shed the girly, “flower-power” image of its early 2000s predecessor, and is now ready to play among serious, more masculine contenders like the Citroen DS3 And in keeping up with the times, we think there will be other variants, such as a Cabriolet, 4-door and even SUV!

Friday, August 24, 2012


The Land Rover Freelander 2 is now more premiumthan before, thanks to a few changes made by its maker. Pegged as the entry-level premium Landy, Freelander is essentially playing in the same space as the likes of Audi Q5, BMW X3, Volvo XC60 and upcoming Mercedes-Benz GLK. But as a Landy, the company will tell you it can even go where these four can’t.

Nevertheless, you now have a more plush Freelander, good news for consumers as the car has often been criticised for being a little less lux than its rivals. Equipment installed include a brand new centre console with a 17.7cm colour touch screen with an option of satellite navigation, as well as a standard Meridian sound system. The 11-speaker, 380W standard Meridian supports inputs from CD, DVD, iPod, USB and Bluetooth, so you can pretty much play your music from any device you have, except maybe Microft Zune. Yes, they did sell about 5 in Mzansi. The three interior colours one can choose from are Ebony, Ivory or Pimento.

A new electromagnetic parking handbrake has been introduced in line with bigger siblings’ like the Discovery 4 and Range Rover. For those of us who bought cheap licences, a rear view parking camera was installed, which it should help decrease the amount of rear bumper scratches.

In terms of exterior, minor changes include new 17-inch alloy wheels for the XS model, three new paint colours, LED technology on the lights, and a body styling pack. All these details, including standard and optional equipment as well as the engine range, will be confirmed once the car is finalised for South Africa

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


A few new models have snuck in through the back door while we were not looking, all from BMWSouth Africa. Good thing we often keep the back door slightly open, and noticed when the draft came in a little harder this time around. So what are these cars and how much do they cost? Sit and find out.

Firstly and most interestinglyis the new facelift 7 Series. Order books are now open for the flagship BMW which enters its last three and a half years of production. The 730d goes for R998 000, R22 500 more than the outgoing pre-facelift model. Then the 740iappears at R975 500 with its 235kW and 450Nm.

A brand new addition to the 7 family is a hybrid called ActiveHybrid 7, BMW SA’s second of three planned hybrids for 2012. This car matches its 3.0-litre turbo petrol with an electric motor and lithium-ion batteries for a total system output of 260kW.

Later we see a 750iwith more power at 330kW and 650Nm, priced at R1 248 000. The Li version, which is about 14cm longer, is worth R1 360 000. At the very top is the 400kW 760Li that goes from 0 – 100km/h in less than 5 seconds (tested in Gauteng) at R1 702 000.

The 650i Coupe will cost R1 149 000. It comes with a 4.4-litre V8 with two turbos, delivering an improved 330kW and 650Nm of torque. The convertible version with a soft top goes for R1 201 000. A step higher of course, is the manic M6 Coupe at R1 391 500 a pop. Same 4.4-litre but now making 412kWand 680Nm and able to go from 0 - 100km/h in 4.2 seconds, limited to 250km/h.

Lastly the X5, which gets a completely new replacement in 2013, is introduced with the new 3.0-litre triturbo diesel engine that gets 280kW and 740Nm. This X5 M50d comes in at R954 500, making it the second-most expensive X5 in our market after the R1.3 million X5 M.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Friends of Carroll Shelby, including Ford Motor Company, Shelby American, Ford Racing and many others have built a unique 2013 Shelby GT500 Cobra as a tribute to the late Carroll Shelby.

Ford is also announcing a renamed road at its Product Development Center in Dearborn, Mich., as a tribute to Shelby as well. Cobra has been the consistent performance label as Shelby worked with Ford for most of the last 60 years, and Shelby was instrumental in the creation of Ford performance vehicles including Cobras, the GT40 and Mustangs since the mid-1960s.

The unique tribute car was unveiled by Ford Motor Company board member Edsel Ford II, Ford’s group vice president for sales and marketing Jim Farley, and Shelby American president John Luft at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion where Cobra is the marque of show for 2012. 

“Even at 89 years of age, Carroll was an inspiration to us all,” says Farley. “This year marks the 50th anniversary of the original Shelby Cobra. The one-off car we have created represents the very idea he had about making the 2013 Shelby GT500 into a true Cobra.”

Using the 487kW 2013 Shelby GT500 as a foundation, “Friends of Carroll” created the one-of-a-kind 2013 Shelby GT500 Cobra wide-body Mustang that now generates more than 625kW with the help of a Ford Racing 4.0-litre Whipple supercharger.

Putting that much power to the ground requires plenty of traction, so the 13-inch-wide rear wheels are wrapped in massive 345-section high-performance tyres for extra grip.

Ford Motor Company teamed up with Shelby American for several key components on the Carroll Shelby tribute car. Shelby American provided a specially designed bonnet, new rear wide-body kit, Shelby Wilwood brakes and new 20x13-inch rear and 20x10-inch front wheels. The bodywork is finished in the same Guardsman Blue with Wimbledon White stripes that graced so many of the Cobra roadsters built in the 1960s.

“Carroll Shelby changed the performance world forever,” says Luft. “And while he was proud of Shelby American’s achievements, Carroll was far more interested in the next car we would build. You will find the spirit and influence of Carroll Shelby in every future vehicle we build just as you’ll find it in the rear wide-body kit and bonnet integrated into the 2013 Shelby GT500 Cobra.”

“You might also know that Carroll was a philanthropist, noted for supporting causes that moved him,” adds Farley. “In that spirit, this car will be taken on tour around the country, and hopefully will be used in a special way at the end of its tour – a way Carroll would appreciate.”

Before the 2013 Shelby GT500 Cobra hits the road, it will be shown at the Ford display in the expo area at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion this weekend.


Monday, August 20, 2012


BMW SA has published prices of the new 1 Series 3-door hatch, a good few weeks before its official launch. Nevertheless if you are interested you can go place your order now as the order books are wide open. In addition, we have some specsand prices for some new models in the range, like the 125i.

Beginning with the 116i 3-door hatch, we see a standard price of R265 500 for the 6-speedmanual and R283 500 for the 8-speed automatic. The 1 remains the only car in its segment with an 8-speeder option. The new 125i costs R336 000 in manual and R354 000 in auto, without all the extras they’ll hit you on the back with. It sports a 2.0-litre turbo engine with 160kWand 310Nm, both of which will make it quite a menace to Golf GTis and the like. BMW says the 125i can go from 0 – 100km/h in about 6.3 seconds and top off at 245km/h, while averaging 6.5 litres per 100km in fuel.

Probably one of the most exciting little cars to see our shores this year is the M135i, developed by BMW’s new M Performance Division. Strapped around its waist is a 3.0-liter turbo petrol that kicks out 235kWand 450Nm of torque for the two rear wheels, via either a 6-speed manual (R445 500) or 8-speed auto (R465 600), your choice. Blast off takes place in a claimed 4.9 seconds for the auto and 5.1 seconds for the manual.

Like the 125i, M135i is also available in a 5-door hatch (R453 000 manual, R473 100auto) version with similar performance stats. We are quite impressed that the philosophy of “more car for more money” prevailed in this instance. Often manufacturers price their 3 or 2-door cars higher than their more useful 5-door compatriots because they are seen as sexier and I suppose more desirable. The cars are standard with M Sportssuspension, an electronic diff lock, M Sport Line kit, 7.5J x 18, 225/40 R18 front wheels and tyres, 8J x 18, 245/35 R18 rear, twin tailpipes on either side and a list of other accessories. 


The all-new Volvo V40 is nearing local shores and due to the high amount of order requests, Volvo Car South Africa (VCSA) has decided to release the pricing and line-up of its gorgeous new five-door five-seat premium hatchback.

VCSA has had to break away from the industry tradition of only releasing pricing and final line-up at launch. According to Bram van der Reep, MD Volvo Car South Africa, "We couldn't have received a better indication of just how popular the Volvo V40 is going to be. It is such an exciting vehicle for us and we are delighted that the public seem to be equally eager for the arrival of the Volvo V40."

After its international debut in June this year, the all-new Volvo V40 was immediately heralded by many as the new benchmark in the premium hatch segment. In South Africa, Volvo's new premium hatch will be available for test drives at all Volvo dealerships from 15 October, and will go on sale from 15 November 2012, but orders can be placed now.

Initially, Volvo will be launching with the all-new V40 in T3 manual, T4 manual, D2 manual and D3 Geartronic derivatives. The remainder of the local line-up, including the spectacular Volvo V40 R-Design, will be available from March 2013.

All-New V40 Recommended Retail Pricing.
Includes VAT and Emissions tax

V40 T3 Manual Essential           (R281 200)
V40 D2 Manual Essential          (R283 200)
V40 T3 Manual Excel                (R299 300)
V40 D2 Manual Excel                (R301 300)
V40 T3 Manual Elite                  (R313 200)
V40 D2 Manual Elite                  (R315 200)
V40 T4 Manual Excel                (R316 800)
V40 T4 Manual Elite                  (R330 700)
V40 T4 Powershift Excel           (R332 600)
V40 D3 Geartronic Excel           (R339 800)
V40 T4 Powershift Elite             (R346 500)
V40 D3 Geartronic Elite             (R353 700)
V40 D3 Geartronic R-Design     (R363 300)
V40 T5 Geartronic Excel           (R373 700)
V40 T5 Geartronic Elite             (R387 600)
V40 T5 Geartronic R-Design     (R397 100)



Toyota has lifted the veil off the brand new 2013 Auris hatchback. New Auris, which goes on sale in South Africa before June 2013, will compete against leaders such as Hyundai i30, Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus among others. Expect it to feature prominently on people’s shopping lists from now on.

The Auris nameplate replaced the popular RunX in Mzansi. Unfortunately Toyota didn’t seem to market the car properly and even priced it out of its RunX roots. Subsequently it lost serious market share. With the new car Toyota has redesignedmost areas to give it a sportier, even more aggressive look, especially on the front end. The new facia is already apparent in cars like the Yaris and Prius.

Auris measures 4.2 metres long, 1.76m wide, 1.46m high and has a wheelbase of 2.6m. That means it sits lower than its predecessor (which is still on the market). There should be a nice range of engines to accompany it, including the new hybridmotor, as well as other petrols and diesels. Can we please finally get a superchargedhot hatch version to challenge the current 180kW+brigade? Thank you.


Lexus South Africa, tired of twiddling thumbs on the sidelines while the German trio have their way with potential customers, has launched the brand new redesigned 2012 GS range into the market. Led by the ultimate GS – in the absence of a possible GS-F – the 450h, it seems Lexus is in a rather foul mood this time around.

Previous GS models launched in Mzansi have tended to concentrate mainly on the mid to high-level segments of the market, resulting in a rather limited penetration. Lately though, things have changed. With the new GS 250, an entry-level heir apparent was created. It’s powered by the existing 2.5-litre V6 petrol with natural aspiration. It delivers 154kW at 6400rpm, as well as 253Nm of torque at 4800rpm. Essentially it’s the same engine used in the IS 250. Lexus says it will accelerate from 0 – 100km/h in 8.8 seconds, using its 6-speed automatic gearbox. Unfortunately during my two days strapped to the front seats of the new GS I didn’t get to drive the GS 250, simply because it was not around.

However, the GS 350did get some IN4RIDE treatment in the form of a few lashings around some wide sweeping roads and long straights. It turned out to be quite a revelation. Through some years of driving experience behind the wheel of several Lexus, one now generally expects these Japanese lux machines to behave a certain way. Surprise surprise! Immediately after pushing the start button the 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 sprung to life, simultaneously bringing the speedo needles on to the dance floor of lights. A tap on the accelerator then returned some warmth on the blood stream, through another dance of the eardrum. Gee, GS really means business.

As the V6 growledits way down the streets of small Western Cape towns, it drew stares probably not only for the growl, but also the stunning new looks. That, via a 6-speed automatic, it metes out 233kW at 6400rpm and 378Nmat 4800rpm, might have had something to do with my wide smile. But what also induced the facial expression was just how good it felt to drive this car. Traditionally with Lexus you expect comfort yes, you expect a fair bit of power yes, and you also expect pretty much nothing else. Not this time. I enjoyed throwing it around bends, watching it almost lose itself a little on corners, powering past slower traffic and giving back some good steering feedback. It’s not so Lexus “traditional” anymore, it’s now entering the sacred bowels of German executive fun!

For the performance samuraiin us, there is the GS 450h hybrid. Built on the same V6 architecture, 450h also adds an electric motor and battery pack. Maximum push is 213kW at 6000rpm and 345Nm + 275Nm of thrust, sent to the wheels through a CVT gearbox. They say it will accelerate from standstill to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds, but we only managed 6.9 seconds on our test equipment in Gauteng. Nevertheless an average fuel consumption figure of 6.9 litres per 100km more than made up for it.

Of course this wouldn’t be a Lexus, especially a GS, if wasn’t laden to the forehead with all the latest tech kit and other goodies. Most of all, it’s all standard! Now, you’d expect me to list the usual automatic aircon, electric windows, leather seats and xenon lights as standard right? Yes, all these are indeed factory-fitted for you. But wait, there’s more. You also get satellite navigation, a reversing camera, a large 31cm screen on the dash that helps access all sorts of information, and something called Remote Touch Interface, which is like a little computer mouse that navigates the screen. I must say, it’s not the world’s most intuitive device, even though it’s in its second generation now. I often found myself clicking on the wrong icons because of this. A simple wheel/ knob would have done the job I reckon.

Other standard stuff includes daytime running lights in LED format, seat heating/ cooling, Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control. All standard. Higher-specced models (designated F-Sport and SE) can also add things like a very powerful 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system and a moonroof as standard.

Bansai is probably apt when it comes to the styling changes. As I’ve hinted earlier, Lexus has really been at the back of the queue when it comes to excitement in this segment. Why, even the Audi A6 has consistently been more heart-thumping than equivalent GS models. Not anymore. With a dress code called F-Sport, Lexus ensures that your presence is instantly recognised wherever you drive. In addition to the new “spindle grille” design that looks like that alien from Predator movies when it opens its mouth. An F-Sport front bumper, boot spoiler, smoked dark wheels and aluminium interior trim complete the performance look.

Lexus SA through Toyota SA, has been in the country now for well over a decade. Probably due to poor marketing decisions and lack of investmentin their product, they just haven’t had the same kind of success they enjoy in the US for example. With a new attitude towards their flagship brand – so aptly demonstratedby this very good GS range – things are guaranteed to change for the better.

Lexus GS Pricing
GS 250 EX (R494 400)
GS 350 EX (R564 900)
GS 450h F-Sport (R753 700)
GS 450h SE (R771 700)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


The Volkswagen Touareg is now offered with an optional R-Line package to complement and enhance its sporty design. The Touareg is the first model in the current Volkswagen model range to be offered with the optional R-Line Package.

Volkswagen’s flagship SUV has sold over 1 200 units since its local market introduction in October 2010.

With its exclusive R-Design features and sport suspension, the R-Line Package gives Touareg a dynamic exterior look to make it stand out on the road.

At the rear, a textured ‘matt black’ diffuser and oval tailpipes are integrated in the redesigned bumper section. The rear look is finished with a unique roof edge spoiler. The R-Design styling continues in the side view with striking side sills in body colour, chrome strips on the doors and R-Line badges on the front wings. The front also sports a new spoiler lip in R-Design. The exterior look is completed with 20-inch Mallory alloy wheels.

For the interior, customers get front sport leather seats, heated leather-trimmed tip-shift paddle multi-function steering with gloss black inserts, stainless steel pedals and door entry sills in stainless steel.

The R-Line package is available for R35 000 with all Touareg derivatives except the Terrain Tech.

Touareg Pricing
Touareg 3.6 FSI V6 (206kW)                                              R595 400
Touareg 3.0 TDI BlueMotion Technology V6 (180kW)       R661 000
Touareg 4.2 TDI V8 (250kW)                                              R822 300

//PART 2