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Friday, September 28, 2012

YET ANOTHER SPECIAL EDITION BUGATTI VEYRON IN PARIS 2012






Bugatti always seems to reveal “special editions” of its Veyron hypercar at every major international motor show. Yet, if you consider that each of the 300 Veyrons made costs over R21 million excluding charges like taxes, you may conclude that each is special anyway. Rightly so too.


But we’ll indulge Bugatti by calling this Grand Sport Vitesse a “Special Edition”, even though the only thing unique about it is that it’s coloured like the ocean, from the wheels up. They call the bottom “New Light Blue” and frankly we have no idea why they would even subject the wheels to its wrath. The new owner is Americanand has already paid for it in full.

Nevertheless anyone wielding a 16-cylinder, 4 turbo petrol engine worth a sensational 883kW can paint the damn body whatever colour they want. It will still be “OMG” in the eyes of the informed observer. That it can also do 410km/hon some remote PIGless road is cool too.

BRAND NEW 2013 AUDI A3 SPORTBACK DEBUTS AT PARIS 2012










Audi has unveiled its brand new A3 Sportback at the 2012 Paris International Motor Show. The car is based on the new 2013 A3 hatchback but has added two more doors for easier entry and exit. It will compete with the very successful BMW 1 Series, fresh Volvo V40, as well as the redesigned Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatch. We’ll be seeing the A3 in Mzansi next year.


Overall the new A3 is largerthan the outgoing model, measuring some 4.3 metres for length, 1.78m for width and 1.4m for height.  Interior space is also said to have increased, with a boot that can now go up to 1220 litres when the rear seats are fully folded down. However, Audi has managed to cut some grease off the booty by up to 90kg in some cases. That’s just stunning. It’s like kicking out one average rugby player who was always at the back seat.

The engines will of course be quite cosmic. On the list are the likes of the 1.2 TFSI with 77kW and 175Nm of torque. A low-spec 1.4-litre TFSI is likely to return 90kW, while a more powerful version gives off 103kW. We cannot discount the powerful TFSI worth 136kW. Even more powerful than that will be the S3 model. Diesels include the trusted 1.6-litre TDI pushing 77kW and 250Nm, while giving the driver a claimed average of 3.8 litres per 100km. We are likely to experience the plug-in hybrid sometime late in 2013 or early 2014.

MERCEDES-BENZ F1 TEAM WELCOMES LEWIS HAMILTON

Lewis Hamilton with singer girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger

Following the signature of the commercial agreement with FOM this week by Mercedes-Benz, the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team has announced that Lewis Hamilton has signed a three-year agreement to race for the team from the 2013 Formula One season.

Lewis’ career has been supported by Mercedes-Benz and McLaren since its earliest days. In 2000, he and Nico Rosberg were team-mates at TeamMBM.com in Formula A karting. Lewis drove with Mercedes-Benz engines during his two seasons in the Formula 3 Euroseries, winning the 2005 championship, and every one of his 104 Formula One starts so far have been powered by the three-pointed star. Lewis is one of four drivers, along with Juan Manuel Fangio, Mika Häkkinen and Jenson Button, to have won the Formula One world championship with Mercedes-Benz power. With 20 Formula One victories, he is equal with Mika Häkkinen as the most successful Mercedes-Benz Formula One driver.


“It is now time for me to take on a fresh challenge and I am very excited to begin a new chapter racing for the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team,” said Hamilton. “Mercedes-Benz has such an incredible heritage in motorsport, along with a passion for winning which I share. Together, we can grow and rise to this new challenge. I believe that I can help steer the Silver Arrows to the top and achieve our joint ambitions of winning the world championships.”

The recruitment of the 2008 world champion marks the start of a new chapter for the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team. Lewis will replace Michael Schumacher, who has contributed significantly to the development of the Silver Arrows works team over the past three years. During this time, the team achieved the milestone of the first victory of the modern era for a works Silver Arrow, when Nico Rosberg won this year’s Chinese Grand Prix, and has scored five further podium finishes to date.

In parallel, Mercedes-Benz has put in place the right technical structure and given the team in Brackley and Brixworth the tools it needs to achieve long-term, durable success in Formula One. In the near future, three-time world champion Niki Lauda will also bring his extensive experience to the role of non-executive chairman of the team’s board of directors, further reinforcing the strength in depth at MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS.

Team principal Ross Brawn had this to say: “I am delighted to welcome Lewis Hamilton to our team. The arrival of a driver of Lewis’ calibre is a testament to the standing of Mercedes-Benz in Formula One and I am proud that Lewis shares our vision and ambition for the success of the Silver Arrows. I believe that the combination of Lewis and Nico will be the most dynamic and exciting pairing on the grid next year, and I am looking forward to what we can achieve together.

The signing of Lewis Hamilton completes the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS driver line-up for the 2013 season alongside Nico Rosberg. Nico won his first Grand Prix this year in China and will enter his fourth season with our team.

HYUNDAI BACK TO ITS RACING WAYS IN THE WRC




Hyundai is poised to return to the FIA World Rally Championship (better known as the WRC) and has unveiled a rally-ready version based on the new i20 at the Paris Motor Show this week. The WRC is one of the world’s toughest motorsport series, and the vehicle has been engineered to overcome the extreme terrains and weather conditions that competitors face.

Following its withdrawal from motorsport in 2003, Hyundai’s long-term goal was to set up an in-house WRC team in Europe and develop a performance rally car, resulting in the WRC i20’s debut in Paris.

Mark Hall, Marketing Director at Hyundai Motor Europe, commented: “The World Rally Championship is recognized as one of the most dramatic sporting series on Earth.  It’s a spectacle filled with excitement and dynamism – the perfect embodiment of the Hyundai brand.

“The WRC also offers the most technologically diverse challenge for an automotive manufacturer.  Our participation will demonstrate Hyundai’s engineering excellence and durability, and will also help to enhance our road-going vehicles in future.”


STORY BY HYUNDAI

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SSANGYONG MZANSI RELEASES REXTON W



SsangYong Motor Company, a South Korean company which is now part of India’s US$15.4 billion Mahindra Group, will expand its South African product range in the premium mid-size SUV market with the launch of the new Rexton W.


This is the latest version of the Rexton. The first Rexton was designed by Giorietto Giugiaro’s ItalDesign studio in Italy and was launched in 2001, while the second generation Rexton II, appeared in 2006.

The third generation Rexton W, which was launched in April 2012 in South Korea, took two and a half years to design and develop at a cost of more than R1-billion. It offers not only mechanical refinement, but also a high level of standard equipment to make it a true premium mid-size 4x4 SUV. The “W” nomenclature stands for “World Class” and “Work of Art.”

“We are making good headway in re-establishing the SsangYong brand in South Africa with a network of 22 dealers, all of whom are already established Mahindra dealers, so we are confident about the after-sales back-up we offer our SsangYong customers,” said the CEO of Mahindra SA, Ashok Thakur.

“The addition of the Rexton W to the existing SsangYong line-up in South Africa, being the Korando C-segment SUV and the recreation-focussed Actyon Sport double cab pickup, not only broadens our potential customer base, but also contributes to dealer viability and overall brand awareness.”
The price of the two-model mid-size Rexton W range starts at R349 995 for a Standard five seat model. The Deluxe seven-seater model is priced at R389 995.

Both models are powered by a 2.7-litre turbo diesel engine which develops 121kW of power at 4 000rpm and 340Nm of torque at 1 800rpm – capable of towing loads as heavy as 2 700 kgs.

The Rexton W is suitable for both surfaced roads, as well as off-road conditions, with two-wheel drive to the rear wheels or four-wheel drive with high and low gear ratios. Power is delivered to all four wheels only when the driver requires it. When additional traction is required, the driver can switch to 4WD high or low gear mode while the Rexton W is in motion.

The standard five seater model comes with a five-speed manual gearbox, while the seven seater deluxe model has a 5-speed automatic transmission sourced from Mercedes Benz.  

Numerous changes, upgrades and improvements have been made to both the exterior and interior of the Rexton W with its recent facelift.

These include new front and rear bumpers, a new grille, turn signal indicators incorporated in the exterior rear view mirrors, projection-style headlamps, the introduction of a standard sidestep, new front fog lamps and turn indicators, an LED rear light assembly and 18” “diamond cutter” style alloy wheels.

In terms of changes to the interior, a new multi-purpose steering wheel allows you to keep your eyes on the road, while controlling the audio system with 2 DIN radio/CD/MP3 player with six speakers or staying in touch with Bluetooth compatibility for hands free mobile phone operation.

This is in addition to a comprehensive list of standard equipment that includes a flip-up rear glass in the tailgate to allow access to the rear compartment without opening the tailgate, automatic on/off facility for the lights, climate control air conditioning, rear park assist, roof rails and audio controls on the steering wheel.

The Deluxe model with automatic transmission gets leather seat trim and cruise control in addition to the two extra seats.

A multitude of safety features provide maximum protection to all occupants. They include a front crossbar bolted onto the frame, reinforced front and rear bumpers, high tensile-strength steel chassis frame, collapsible steering column, seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiters, anti-skid brakes (ABS), airbags and speed sensing door locks.

The Rexton W is offered in a choice of four exterior colours: Grande White, Silent Silver, Tonic Grey and Sable Grey.

This upmarket mid-size SUV is covered by a 3-year/100 000km warranty, and roadside assistance. Service intervals are 15 000 km and there is a service plan for 5-years/90 000km.

“We are very pleased to welcome the Rexton W to the range of SsangYong products offered in South Africa as it introduces a prestige mid-size 4x4 model to the range and extends our appeal,” concluded Mahindra SA CEO, Ashok Thakur.

STORY BY SSANGYONG

RACING BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT3 READY TO ROAR



These here pictures might look strange and unusual to those who don’t know the history of Bentley. But for the initiated, the Bentley Continental GT3is just what the doctor ordered. In case you fall by the category of the former, look up Bentley’s history and you’ll see why this car makes sense.


Bentley was of course a racing brand which won many international competitions before becoming even more ultra-exclusive on the road car side of things. What we are seeing here could be a renewal of that commitment to motorsport. Or it could just be a tease, we don’t know.

All we can see are those side tailpipes, massive wings, wheels and front end, racing bucket seats and a roll cage among others. Clearly this is a race car. Where and when it will race, if at all, is still a mystery we hope Bentley will solve for us by this weekend. We’ll keep you updated as soon as we know.

JAGUAR F-TYPE ROADSTER DETAILED






Now that Jaguarhas unveiled the F-Type Roadster to a VIP audience at Musée Rodin, Paris, just before the 2012 Paris International Motor Show, we can share some of its more intimate details. The F-Type is Jaguar’s smallest sports car yet and is aimed at unsettling the Porsche 911 range.


So, here’s what we know. The car uses its rear wheels to pull forward, while the engines will be housed up at the front under the bonnet. It’s constructed out of lightweight aluminium in order to minimise weight and maximise performance. This is very good news. Other cool pieces of tech are the deployable/ retractable door handles, as well as the rear spoiler.

As you can see from the pics, the interior features only seating space for two, hence the “roadster” description. The dashboard area is slightly angled towards the driver, while the use of some high qualitymaterials like nappa leather and brushed alloys covers both comfort and sport signatures.

We’ve touched on the engines before, but it doesn’t hurt to touch again. In fact, it excites. There will be three models on offer; F-Type, F-Type S and F-Type V8 S. Entry-level F-Type shall wield 250kWfrom its 3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol engine and be capable of a 5.1 second sprint time. The F-Type S, through very same powerplant, will pull out 280kW and apparently do 0 – 100km/h in 4.8 seconds. At the top end of things sits the F-Type V8 S with 364kWfrom a 5.0-litre V8 supercharged, presumably the same one from the likes of XFR and XKR but obviously detuned. We understand it is capable of hurling the range-topper from 0 – 100km/h in a mere 4.2 seconds, with a top speed of 300km/h.

Jaguar fans in South Africa will be able to enjoy the new F-Type when it lands here during the third or fourth quarter of 2013.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

AGAIN, ALFA ROMEO IS NOT FOR SALE - MARCHIONNE


Sergio Marchionne, the charismatic CEO of Chrysler and Fiat has once again reiterated that one of his company’s brands, Alfa Romeo, is not for sale. Volkswagen of Germany has been, since 2010, expressed a veiled threat to go for Alfa as an addition to its existing 12 brands.


Since then Marchionne has been consistently rebuffing those unsolicited advances by the world’s third-biggestauto company. VW Chief Designer Walter da Silva has long been an admirer of Alfa designs and was probably very influential in his company’s expressions of desire for the flaming Italian brand.

It is quite a well-known secret that Alfa has not been selling as many cars as it would like, trailing by quite a margin other small premium brands such as Lexus, Volvo Jaguar. VW reckons it can, given the chance, turn those fortunes around and make Alfa one of the top premium names in the industry. Where this would leave Audi is still unpronounced.

Alfa itself is launching new products over the coming year to try and turn itself around. These will include the Giulia sedan, an SUV and the compact 4C sports car.

AUDI'S MICHAEL STEPHEN CLAIMS 2012 CHAMPIONSHIP!


Nail biting racing at the eighth and penultimate round of the WesBank Super Series held at Killarney on Saturday saw Xtreme Audi driver and defending Production Car class A champion, Michael Stephen; again claim the 2012 Production Car title.


In qualifying, Stephen qualified on pole position and in so doing gained an extra three points for the championship, while teammate Tschops Sipuka ended up eighth on the grid.

In race one, Stephen held the lead in the opening laps but was passed by Subaru driver, Hennie Groenewald. Stephen played it safe and settled for second, rather than taking risks and losing the 10 points on offer. Sipuka moved up from his eighth position start to take a hard fought fifth position in race one setting the fastest lap in the process.

Race two saw a top four inverted grid, with Stephen on third and Sipuka fifth. Stephen quickly moved into second position and chased down the leader. He ran out of laps and settled for second position, with his championship rivals having both fallen out the race. Sipuka had an excellent race once again and moved up to a well-deserved third position.

Starting on pole position in the final heat, Stephen led the chasing pack for the entire race despite some challenges towards the latter part with oil on the track in the final corner and backmarkers to contend with. A determined and focused Stephen did not let this come in the way of his chase for the chequered flag which finally dropped, giving him the much deserved feature race win.   Sipuka’s race was unfortunately not as rewarding. Started third on the grid and maintained his position through the hustle and bustle of the first few corners, the skilled driver was unfortunately hit from behind by Van der Linde’s BMW, forcing him to retire immediately, with suspension damage.

Overall, Stephen finished first overall for the day, while Sipuka DNF in race three prevented him from taking a race day podium slot.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

OFFICIAL JAGUAR F-TYPE PICS LEAKED!



Jaguar’s confirmed F-Typesports car seems to have prematurelypopped up on the interweb. We thought it would debut at Paris 2012. Never mind, these are the authentic pictures of the roadsteras they will be shown in press releases around the world soon.


The F-Type is smaller than the XK and is aimed squarely at the leading car in this segment, which is the Porsche 911. That means its handling acumen will have to be seriously on point. Being a Jag we think they have probably done a half-decent job at the very least. In addition, engines should be good enough to rattle said target. In this regard we see quite some muscle coming out of Mumbai(Tata Motors’ headquarters).


According to a previous IN4RIDE report: there’s a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol that kicks out 250kW at 6500rpm, as well as 450Nm of torque between 1800rpm and 4000rpm. It will compare quite well to BMW’s turbocharged 3.0-litre, which currently goes up to 250kW in the Z4 sDrive35is, Volvo’s V6 T6 Polestar (245kW) as well as Audi’s 245kW supercharged V6 as found in the S4. Once again, Mercedes-Benz is lagging in this regard. Regardless, in the XF and the XJ, Jaguar claims a 0 – 100km/h time of 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 249 km/h.

Lastly the same V6 has been tuned to 279kW at 6500rpm, while peak torque is 460Nm between 1800rpm and 4000rpm. This is slightly less than the 283kW currently being procured by the naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8.

TOYOTA GIVES VERSO A NEW LOOK






The new Toyota Versois on its way to Mzansi! New is probably stretching it a little bit; it’s only a facelift. Except it isn’t really “only” a facelift. Toyota says the revampedVerso features up to 470 new parts over the outgoing model.


First obvious changes are on the exterior where we can see those swag LED daytime running lights for the first time on a Verso. The face is completely new and features Toyota brand’s new family grille and bumper. Integrated indicators on the side mirrors add to the higher-endaura, and the rear is fitted with a new bumper too.

The Verso is so named because of its versatility and 7-seat layout. Apparently there are 32 different seating configurations, which means one can have a different one everyday, every month.

Defiant as ever, Toyota is still not buying the turbocharged petrol engine argument and is therefore only installing blowers in its diesel units. Europe engines include a 1.6-litremaking 97kW and a 108kW 1.8-litre.

MANDELA'S BMW 7 SERIES DONATED



BMW South Africa has donated former president Nelson Mandela’s BMW 7 Series Security Vehicle to the 46664 Mandela Day School Library project. The customised BMW 7 series, fitted with a blue light grill, which was given to the former President by the Bavarian car maker, will be auctioned in the coming months. The proceeds will go towards supplying fully-stocked container libraries to disadvantaged schools in Johannesburg.

The office of the former president returned the car to BMW at the end of its service life. It has since been restored to an immaculate condition and is currently on display at the Franschoek Motor Museum.

The private auction will determine the next home for the car, which was used as the official transport for arguably the most famous and revered statesman of our generation. Vying to take ownership of the former president’s BMW at the silent auction will be avid car collectors as well as museums of the world. “It is important that we balance the preservation of history surrounding the car with the commercial reality of funding the next phase of the 46664 Mandela Day School Library project,” says Robert Coutts, CEO of 46664 BANGLE Initiative.

“We hope that the car will find a home in a museum in South Africa so the history is preserved appropriately in our own country. Once the car has been sold for the price we anticipate, it means we would be in a position to deliver one library every 6 weeks for a year,” states Coutts.

“With 90% of South African schools without libraries, there is a glaringly huge gap in the resources necessary to educate young children. As BMW we are happy to make a contribution to this excellent initiative as the country seeks sustainable solutions to its education challenges,” says Bodo Donauer, BMW South Africa’s Managing Director.

As part of the agreement, the first two libraries acquired will be placed at schools in the communities surrounding BMW’s Plant Rosslyn, north of Pretoria, where the majority of BMW workers hail from.


STORY BY BMW

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

MERCEDES-BENZ B-CLASS GOES ELECTRIC


A new addition to Mercedes-Benz's family of electric vehicles: at the Paris Motor Show, the company is presenting a battery-powered electric variant of the B-Class.  This concept vehicle is one of the first models to incorporate the term "Electric Drive" into its model designation. In future, "Electric Drive" lettering will adorn the boot lids of all battery-powered electric passenger cars from Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG and smart.

Similarly to the successful B-Class models with combustion engines, the battery-powered Concept B-Class Electric Drive also combines a comfortable and enjoyable driving experience with full suitability for everyday and family use. The so-called Energy Space in the floor of the vehicle in front of the rear axle ensures that the concept vehicle offers the same generous and variable space inside as the current series production models. The Energy Space provides a safe and space-saving means of accommodating the powerful lithium-ion battery which also has a positive effect on the vehicle's centre of gravity.

The Concept B-Class Electric Drive is equipped with a 100kW electric motor whose powerful 310Newton meters of torque provide for attractive driving dynamics over a range of 200 kilometres. The battery can be charged at any standard domestic 230 V power outlet or alternatively – with rapid charging function – at a 400 V high-voltage terminal.

In the B-Class, Mercedes-Benz has at its disposal an extremely versatile car which is suitable for the most diverse types of drive – from combustion engines through battery-powered drives to the fuel cell. Thanks to Energy Space, the B-Class is the ultimate all-rounder and the Mercedes trailblazer for alternative drives in the compact premium automobile segment. The particularly family-friendly electric car from Mercedes-Benz is almost ready for series production, with the market launch already planned for 2014.

The Paris Motor Show will also feature the world premieres of the production versions of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive and the smart BRABUS electric drive. These new electric cars in three different vehicle categories from Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG and smart demonstrate once again Daimler's rigorous pursuit of its drive strategy focusing on the ultimate objective of zero-emission driving. Along with optimised combustion engines and hybridisation tailored to prevailing needs, the focus is on battery-powered electric drives and the fuel cell.


STORY BY MERCEDES-BENZ

VOLVO V40 CROSS COUNTRY REVEALED, CONFIRMED FOR MZANSI






The BMW X1 has new competition from Sweden, in the form of the V40 Cross Country. While Volvo itself hasn’t said anything about this, it seems they are keeping the car secret for the 2012 Paris International Motor Showthat’s happening next week.


Cross Country is just a little higher-standing than the normal V40, 4cm to be exact. It features the usual chunky cladding to help protect it against the elements, should an owner take the name seriously enough to trek across the country in the premiumlittle thing.

We think it will be offered with a similar range of engines as the V40, including 1.6-litre turbos with 110kW and maybe even a 187kW T5 version. Nothing confirmed or denied for that matter, from Volvo South Africa yet, so we’ll cross our fingers for it, in a manner of speaking.

UPDATE
"South Africa will receive the cross country variant of the Volvo V40 around February next year. The local line-up will consist of a variety of engine derivatives and specification levels.The Volvo V40 Cross Country South African line-up and pricing will be released closer to the time," according to Volvo SA.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

MCLAREN P1 CONCEPT SHOWS "GREATEST SUPERCAR EVER"




Remember the almighty McLaren F1 supercar of the 1990s? Yes, that one designed by Durban boy Gordon Murraywith three seats, driver’s in the centre, two passengers at the back on either side, powered by a BMW V12 engine with 461kW? It’s about to get replaced. The new McLaren P1 breaks cover next year. Here’s the concept version.


Touted by big-talking McLaren Automotive CEO Anthony Sheriff as “not necessarily to be the fastest in absolute top speed but to be the quickest and most rewarding series production road car on a circuit”. Sheriff went on to say McLaren wants to make the P1 “the most exciting, most capable, most technologically advanced and most dynamically accomplished supercarever made”. Mighty big talk indeed. And we love it!

We don’t know exactlywhat this all means, but we’ll all find out when it goes on sale in about September 2013. However, some speculators are already in full-blown sangoma mode, predicting a V8 with as many as three turbos, churning out upwards of 650kW. Should reality even come close to this then we can expect 0 – 100km/h times hovering around the 2.5 second mark. Promises to be epic in every way.

What do you think of the looks though?

MASERATI MAKING SOMETHING BETTER THAN 911 TURBO?


Maserati CEO Harald Wester has revealed some new details about the company's proposed mid-engine sports car.

Speaking with EVO, Wester said the model - which could revive the GranSport moniker - would be "something like the Alfa Romeo 4C (pictured) but for Maserati." It would measure approximately 4.4 meters long and feature a carbon fibre monocoque which could enable the car to weigh about 1 200 kg.

Power will reportedly be provided by a 4.7-liter V8 engine with 338kW. However, Wester hinted the car could also be equipped with a turbocharged V8 and a substantially similar version of the 4.7-liter V8.

According to Wester, “I want this car to be better to drive than a 911 Turbo, but I also want it to cost less. We won't limit the production of this car, but I'd like to think that we will sell, let's say, between 1 500 and 2 000 units a year.”

The model hasn't been approved for production, but it could be green-lighted shortly and go into production in 2015.


STORY BY MASERATI

BMW M PERFORMANCE BOOST FOR 120D, 320D, 520D



BMW’s M Performancedivision has begun work on the rest of the range. Now on the list is the 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine powering the 120d, 320d and 520d. In the regular models it makes 135kW and 380Nm of torque. With the M Performance kit we get an upgrade in both power and torque.


The kit will be shown at the 2012 Paris Motor Show in a couple of weeks’ time. It increases power to 147kW and takes torque up to 420Nm, which trumps the 335i’s 400Nm. BMW says fuel consumption at C02emissions were not affected. And neither was the warranty.

M Performance is continuing its concentration on diesel cars for the moment, bar of course the sizzling M135i. later on we’ll start to see them develop more petrol models, which should be quite exciting.

Monday, September 17, 2012

ELDERLY TRUCKING COUPLE ON EPIC JOURNEY



The wander lust grabbed hold of an English couple 10 years ago and it hasn't let go since resulting in them travelling close to 300 000km all over the globe in Mercedes-Benz trucks. Not even being stuck in a six-day-long traffic jam in China has put them off!

And now Clive (68) and Ann (65) Barker of Somerset are in Durban about to begin a journey through southern and central Africa which may last months or years... they're very vague about it!


“Time is not really an issue for us so we'll meander along doing what we enjoy most - meeting wonderful people and discovering places we know little about,” said Clive.

The Barker's 28-year-old Mercedes-Benz 1017A truck has been undergoing repairs in Durban after being shipped out from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia where their last journey ended.

“The vehicle needed its brake cylinders replaced so that has been done for us in workshops of the Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle dealer in Durban. Management kindly allowed us to sleep over for a few nights in our home on wheels while the repairs were being done,” said Clive.

From here the Barkers plan to head north to visit game reserves in Zululand, then on through Swaziland to the Kruger National Park where they will spend some time before trucking it back to the coast for a journey along the Garden Route.

“We’ll leave the truck in Cape Town and fly home for Christmas. Early in the New Year we’ll be back to resume our travels going up the west coast into Namibia and then on as far as the whim takes us,” said Clive.

The Barkers’ wander lust was sparked in 2000 by an advert in a British motor-caravan magazine about an overland and sea journey to Beijing.  They inquired and made an “on the spur of the moment” decision to go.

They bought a Mercedes-Benz 811 truck, kitted it out fully for living in and so it all began. They ended up travelling about 150 000km all over the world including a trip through south and Central America visiting 23 different countries.

In 2008 they bought their present truck from the German army, once again installing as many home comforts as possible. “We’ve bought old trucks to ensure there’s no modern electronics to confuse the issue when running repairs need to be made and chose Mercedes-Benz because they are so reliable and the only motor company I know which stocks spares for its old models – on top of that the parts are available almost everywhere in the world!”

In March last year the Barkers left home and drove through Europe, the Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tibet, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia where their journey ended in Singapore earlier this year.  They then shipped their truck to Durban.

“In China we got stuck in a traffic jam which lasted six days, although we managed to turn off the road after three days! The amazing thing is the spirit in which Chinese people accept such things as part of their lives – they smile and laugh about it,” said Ann

Clive said they were excited about their African adventure and were particular looking forward to seeing wildlife.

“We have no idea when our travels will end although once we’ve completed this leg we’ll have visited most of the countries we were keen to see. But we’re in no hurry to finish – we seldom travel faster than 60km/h. For us it’s all about the journey rather than the destination.”

STORY BY MERCEDES-BENZ

Sunday, September 16, 2012

VOLVO V40 R-DESIGN PRICED FOR MZANSI






Volvo is spicing up the brand new V40 lineup with an R-Designkit that promises to sizzle and dazzlethe targeted younger buyers. V40 wants to be what C30 failed to achieve: dependable, safe, but exciting and desirable. Volvo South Africa says it will launch the V40 R-Design suite in February 2013 and these are the models that will be on the menu:


First the T3manual will be the lowest-priced petrol, followed by the T4 manual and then the performance T5 with 187kW and 350Nm. The T5 sounds like it would be the direct itch of the BMW 128i, should it make it over here. There will be two diesels too, namely the 85kW D2 and D3 (110kW, 350Nm).

R-Design doesn’t just offer Volvo drivers extra sporty kit to buy them that street cred that Volvo drivers are said to lack, but they also stiffen things up on the chassis side so that handling at least matches the looks. And so it is with the V40, now lowered by 10mm for the purposes of R-Design, and set with firmer springs and shocks. The chassis has been developed with the help of Swedish racing driver Robert Dahlgren who competes for the Volvo Polestar Black R team in the Swedish Touring Car Championship.

Volvo SA were kind enough to give us pricing for two of the cars they’ll be selling next year. Have a look and choose because although deliveries only begin in Feb, orders are now firmly open. Meanwhile the normal V40 is scheduled for Mzansi launch on October.


Volvo V40 R-Design Pricing
V40 D3 Geartronic R-Design (R363 300)
V40 T5 Geartronic R-Design (R397 100)
//PART 2