Thursday, November 29, 2012


Jaguar has officially revealed the new XFR-S to a stunned audience at the 2012 LA Auto Show. The car represents the epitome of Jaguar’s sedan performancepedigree as it sits above the “normal” XFR. While it features the same engine, this particular pussy doesn’t purr. It roars!

Connected with the tried and trusted 5.0-litre supercharged V8 motor, the XFR-S puts on extra guz to the already satisfactory 375kW to take things to 405kW, as well as a matching 680Nm of torque. Fastened to it is an 8-speed ZF gearbox sending all power to the smoking rear wheels for a 0 – 100km/h split time of 4.6 seconds, although we believe something like 4.4 seconds is possible, given that IN4RIDE tested the XFR and consistently achieved 4.6 seconds at Gauteng altitude!

Differences with the XFR also reflect on the outside via things like a carbon fibre front splitter, side air intakes, a carbon fibre diffuser and that hard-to-miss rear end boot spoiler.

The car will be made available to a select few South African buyers with a choice of five colours, including two called French Racing Blue (pictured) and Italian Racing Red. It will join the existing XKR-S coupe and Convertible.


An all-new 2013 Toyota RAV4 sounds exactly like something right up our alley. It’s been about 6 years since we last saw the new RAV4 and Toyotais very keen to get back into the swing of things, especially since the recent successes of cars like the Hyundai ix35 and Kia Sportage.

This new car obviously features a new look, all over. CEO Akio Toyoda has been at pains to reshape his grand-daddy’s company in the light of Koreans’ onslaught and some sloppy (or just plain boring) designs. The new RAV4 has certainly addressed a lot of these concerns, just like recent new Toyotas like the Prius and Yaris also have.

The interior reeksof maturity and upper-class quality materials. From the premium-looking dashboard and leather interior, to the hi-tech features, the RAV4 is pulling no punches trying to claw back its leadership position in the segment.

As such we see a proliferation of features like a steering wheel with multi-controls for the radio/ sound system, Bluetoothconnectivity, dual-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof, a 15.4cm touchscreen and Toyota’s Multi-Information Display or MID.

At launch the only engine mentioned is an old-school 2.5-litre 4-cylinder with 131kW and 233Nm of torque, which very much compares with the new Subaru Forester.

Expect the new Toyota RAV4 at your nearest Mzansi dealership by June 2013. Probably earlier even.


The brand new Subaru Forester is coming to Mzansisometime in 2013. But that hasn’t stopped its makers from unveiling it to the broader world at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. The car will be coming from a new design perspective, while adding a few new items in the process as well.

First in terms of engines we are looking at a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated boxer engine with a power output of 127kW. That’s hardly adequate for us South Africans in general, even less so for those who live on higher ground like Gautengersand others because it will lose a lot of its thrust on the reef. It’s fitted with a CVT gearbox for the US market, while us in SA will also get a manual option. The lucky US also gets a 2.0-litre turbo charged unit breathing out 186kW. Subaru SA is still investigating the viabilityof this particular motor.

Some of the nice items to found include a rear reversing camera to assist those who cannot park properly, keyless access and a touch-screen navigation system. 

Monday, November 26, 2012


Infiniti, the premium automotive brand from Japan, and Red Bull Racing, the three-time FIA Formula One Constructors’ World Champion, today announced a comprehensive extension of their partnership originally established in March 2011.  The partnership will involve the team name changing to INFINITI RED BULL RACING and Infiniti named as the major technical partner starting with the 2013 Formula One season.

Johan de Nysschen, President of Infiniti, commented, “While our first 24-months have been very beneficial to both parties, our new deeper relationship will bring increased advantages to Infiniti and Red Bull Racing.  As title partner, INFINITI RED BULL RACING will help us garner even more worldwide exposure for our brand, products and technology.”

Red Bull Racing’s Team Principal Christian Horner stated, “Red Bull Racing and Infiniti have been working on a number of initiatives since the start of our relationship in March 2011. During that time, Infiniti has demonstrated significant technical prowess and I’ve been impressed by the depth of the wider engineering capabilities of the Nissan Motor Company. In terms of marketing, Infiniti has leveraged their involvement with Red Bull Racing and Formula One very effectively and has become well known in a short space of time. These two attributes are what makes Infiniti the ideal title and technical partner for Red Bull Racing.”

The enhanced partnership, starting in 2013 and initially carrying through to end of the 2016 season will see a number of new technology initiatives.  Adrian Newey, Red Bull Racing’s Chief Technical Officer also welcomed the long-term nature of the agreement. “Formula One presents immense design and engineering challenges on a daily basis.  Having a committed technical partner like Infiniti gives us a great platform for working together on technical projects, such as the Energy Recovery Systems for the 2014 season.”



Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin (Castrol Team Toyota Hilux) won the season-ending Gold 400 in Gauteng today ahead of team-mates and new SA champions Duncan Vos and Rob Howie to complete a fairy tale season of success for Toyota.

In an unprecedented display of domination, Toyota won all the championships on offer in an eight-round off road racing series that went down to the wire before the final outcome was decided.

In a brand new event in the Westonaria region of Gauteng’s West Rand heavy rain overnight resulted in a wet and muddy 340-kilometre race route that added more spice to what was already a tasty contest. 

Toyota conquered the challenging conditions of the Gold 400 to take the top two positions in the production vehicle category as well as in the premier SP class.  Third overall was the BMW X3 of Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren, who finished 4th in the championship.

Former champions Chris Visser and Japie Stapelberg (Ford Ranger), who were the only challengers to Vos and Howie’s title aspirations at the start of the weekend, finished seventh overall today and third in the championship. 

Toyota also won the manufacturers’ team award for the final race with Vos/Howie, Taylor/Birkin and outgoing champions, privateeers Jannie Visser/Joks le Roux (Toyota  Hilux), who finished fifth this afternoon, producing the lowest combined score.

Cliff Weichelt/Johan Smalberger (Toyota Land Cruiser) earlier wrapped up the season’s class D championship in the penultimate round, the Human Auto 400 in the Free State in October, while Dirk Putter/Koos Claassens (Toyota Hilux) clinched the class E title in the same event. 

Taylor, delighted to have won his first race of the year, had a trouble-free run.  “Chris and I knew we had to win this race if we wanted to finish second in the championship and we’re both delighted to have achieved this under very difficult conditions.  It was very muddy and slippery and staying on the correct route was a big challenge.”

Vos, celebrating his fifth national championship, had already wrapped up the overall title before the start of the race, but still needed to make sure of the SP class win and the honour of carrying SP1 on the Toyota Hilux next season.  With Visser only finishing seventh in class today, the new champion made a clean sweep of available titles in a fitting tribute to his and Howie’s mastery of the 2012 season.

“It’s been a long season and we’ve had to work hard for our results, but I’m very happy for the whole team that we’ve pulled off the championship win,” said Vos. “The Castrol Toyota Hilux has performed magnificently this season and all of this bodes well for our second visit to the Dakar Rally in South America in January, where we will be racing the same Hilux.”

Toyota Motorsport director and team principal Glyn Hall was equally elated with the weekend’s results.  “We were under a lot of pressure to win this season and the pressure mounted as the outcome of the championship went down to the wire.  We’re relieved and proud that we’ve managed to pull it off.

“Now we can concentrate all our attention on the very important challenge of the Dakar Rally in just six weeks’ time.” 


Thursday, November 15, 2012


The Nordschleife at the Nürburgring is not only considered a legendary racing circuit; it is also one that is closely linked to both triumphs and tragedies. But the real hype about the circuit is setting very fast laps with street legal cars fitted with standard tyres, and since the middle of the 1990s this has had a very special meaning. 

At that time a lap of the track in less than eight minutes was considered practically impossible but all this ended in 1999 with a record lap by rally legend Walter Röhrl. Since then the best time has been continually trimmed down to 7:30 minutes – but it has only been achieved by a handful of top-of-the-price range super sports cars.

Up to this point in time the fastest ever lap on the Nordschleife by a KTM X-BOW was 8.10 minutes in 2009 by a 177kW “Club Sport” version of the Austrian-made super sports car – and the team from KTM wanted to improve on this in 2012. 

The vehicle for this attempt was the KTM X-BOW RR, the car that serves as the basis for drivers competing in the official KTM racing series, the KTM X-BOW BATTLE. The sport car is homologated for road use and was therefore fitted with street legal tires (Pilot Sport Cup) by Michelin for the attempt on a record lap on the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

Allowance was also made to have just the right driver for the record lap attempt. Christophe Haase, who in 2008 won the GT4 European Championship in the KTM X-BOW GT and is now in the service of Audi was the one chosen to drive the car. As the reigning winner of the 24-hour race on the Nordschleife, he was definitely the one to know just where to pick up the decisive seconds. In addition, the KTM X-BOW RR was powered by the tried and true 2.0-litre four-cylinder TFSI engine from Audi.

On a chilly, windy autumn afternoon Christopher Haase had just two laps to conjure up the most
perfect lap on the asphalt of the Nordschleife. And he did it in the truest sense of the word. He was timed at 7:25.72 minutes in the second flying lap, an absolutely top time that is significantly faster than that of the latest super sports cars. 

Even so, Christopher Haase still sees plenty of potential for improvement. “We had a lot of wind and very little grip – but we have to hold something back for next year, don’t we? I’m thrilled with the car. The Audi engine is also a stunner that offers any amount of torque. But the rest of the car is also great. The suspension works perfectly and you notice that the XBOW is lighter than most other cars when you go into every corner. This makes twice as much sense on the technically demanding Nordschleife! In any case the lap time is amazing. I think it shows how good the X-BOW really is because the Nordschleife doesn’t allow for any random good lap times. Here it’s always very tough, whenever you’re here!”

KTM’s Director of Sales Hubert Trunkenpolz was also one of the first to offer his congratulations. “My personal respect for registering this lap time. Anyone who has driven on the Nordschleife knows exactly what it means to clock a time under 7:30 minutes. I am proud of the team and naturally also of our KTM X-BOW RR. That shows once again the enormous potential of our car! I would like to thank Michelin for the tire material and naturally also Audi who not only gave us a perfect engine but also in a very friendly gesture, also the services of Christopher as the driver.”


Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Do something for 20 years and you become pretty good at it and RGMotorsport can look back on two decades of success when it comes to modifying and tuning performance cars. In fact, their history is peppered with a series of benchmark cars which have underlined their key competency.

Says founder Rob Green: “We set out to make cars fast and that is essentially still what we are all about. But we’ve moved with the times and combining fast and efficient has become our credo and we strive to maintain the best levels of refinement. Our customers aren’t Boy Racers: they aren’t prepared to accept compromises when it comes to driveability, road manners and of course reliability – they want it all!”

The automotive world has changed significantly in 20 years, both in terms of vehicle technology but also the broader motoring landscape. Each change has brought a challenge, whether it be the introduction of unleaded fuel, manufacturer contracts and even legislature like the Consumer Protection Act, and RGMotorsport has weathered the storm and shown its ability to move with the times.

Green qualified as an automotive technician with BMW in 1987 and started his own business in late 1992, younger brother Steve joining in 1997 and bringing his expertise in electronics to the party. Since then we’ve never looked back. Today the company is highly skilled in many fields and, for example, have signed off more supercharged conversions than anyone else in the country.

“The aftermarket is probably a trickier place to work in than ever before,” explains Rob. “Long warranties as well as service and maintenance plans can tie a buyer to a brand for years, making it stressful for some customers to have modifications carried out – even relatively minor ones. Two things have made it possible for us to work within these constraints: our reputation for quality workmanship that doesn’t compromise the original engineering, and a commitment to offering our own ‘aftermarket’ warranties.”

Partnerships with internationally renowned suppliers such as Vortech (superchargers) and Vorsteiner (body styling and forged aluminium wheels), Torco (an advanced race fuel concentrate)  has ensured quick and easy access to the best and latest technology, while locally, RGMotorsport had worked closely with the likes of Pieter de Weerdt, the inventor of the Unichip Q, a computer interface which intercepts signals from electronic control units and enables expert tuners to modify fuel and ignition supplies on both petrol and diesel engines.

This can be done at two levels; electronic blueprinting (whereby these qualities are perfected for an individual engine to make it as good as it can be in an otherwise standard form), and often used in conjunction with external changes such as a more efficient exhaust system. Much more radical changes can also be made though and this is what is done when supercharging a vehicle, a process which can increase power and torque output by more than 50%.

Green says highlights include building some of the fastest cars around for street and strip, such as the famous yellow E36 M3, nicknamed Tsunami, the first roadgoing street-legal Beemer to break into the 10-second bracket for a quarter mile. Then there’s the likes of off-road racer Cliff Barker’s M3-powered Land Rover and the ‘Orange Thing’ - the supercharged, wide-bodied E92 M3 which has become world famous.  In fact, it has become a huge hit on Vorsteiner’s Facebook page, with more ‘Likes’ than sundry Ferraris, Porsches, Bentleys and Lambos.

More recently, the black and orange 330 kW FJ Cruiser Supercharged has flown the RGMotorsport flag, wowing performance fans with its radically lowered stance and outrageous colours.

But it hasn’t all been fun and games and RGM is a serious business: it is AA Quality Assured and a member of the Retail Motor Industry, and a company which suppliers are proud to be associated with, thanks to a holistic and carefully-planned approach to conversions.  We’re able to conceptualise, design, manufacture to the highest standards and validate a wide range of components and then sell them here and abroad. We can perfect our conversions in our own high-tech 4x4 dyna facility, test them on the road and at Gerotek, and show them off on streets, strips, shows and circuits.

A comprehensive service department ‘maintains the converted’ and of course owners of standard road cars who want an experience which is way better than average. We provide specialised servicing for most German and Japanese brands, along with the modern diagnostic equipment this requires. Awards picked up along the way include AA Business of the year in 2007, General Repairer, national and Gauteng, and an award in outstanding performance tuning for 2009 from the South African Motorsport Industry Association (SAMIA).

“Steven and I have always loved fast cars and truth be told, wheeled beasts were a major part of our misspent youth! But that’s another story, and we’re both grateful that we’re able to indulge our passion for cars and make a living out of it at the same time!”



Ford’s fun and fashionable Figo is now even more desirable thanks to the introduction of exterior design enhancements and added interior features including the addition of Bluetooth connectivity on some models. 

“The Figo's contemporary design, solid performance credentials and desirable safety features are refreshing for a vehicle in its class,” says Gavin Golightly, Ford Marketing Manager.  "It is well-positioned as a value-for-money prospect and with the addition of some new enhancements its overall appeal is further cemented.”

The Figo, based on Ford’s proven global small car architecture, is available with a choice of two fuel-efficient engines, the 1.4ℓ Petrol Duratec and the 1.4ℓ Turbo Diesel Duratorq. Both are equipped with five-speed manual transmissions. 

Customers can choose between two trim levels, the Ambiente being the entry level option available in both petrol and diesel guise and the Trend, the high spec model, available in petrol configuration. 

Both the Ambiente and the Trend further incorporate Ford’s global Kinetic design DNA with new design elements incorporate into the bonnet and bumper. The lower grille has been revised with the upper grille benefiting from the addition of a chrome line. The head and tail lamp designs have also been revised while the fog lamp housing features a more aggressive and defined look. 

The Ambiente model has been further enhanced with the addition of a new eight-spoke wheel design while the Trend model receives a new alloy wheel design.  
Inside the cabin the Ambiente now features a Dynamic Blue centre stack bezel and revised seat fabric pattern. The Trend also received some enhancements to the interior including a change from red to blue seat fabric and the addition of Bluetooth functionality.

The Figo’s In Car Entertainment system allows one to switch between radio, CD/MP3 or one’s iPod easily and with added versatility thanks to the addition of Bluetooth functionality. 

The Bluetooth system allows you to connect a mobile phone to the audio system and therefore connect and disconnect calls through the system. It also allows for the connection or rejection of a second incoming call. Caller ID is displayed on the vehicle’s display and phonebook contacts and call history can be synchronised with the audio system. 

The space and practicality that define the Figo are more commonly associated with larger, more expensive vehicles rather than those typically found in the sub B-Value segment. The precise and responsive steering of the Figo instils confidence, while a fine balance between ride comfort and control is ensured through the optimized suspension design. 

There’s no shortage of safety features with dual front airbags, ABS with EBD and PATS (Passive Anti-Theft System) providing a piece of mind driving experience. 

 “While affordability and practicality are of great importance in this segment buyers are not willing to sacrifice on style and performance. The Figo strikes the right blend of these elements,” adds Golightly. 

The 1.4ℓ Petrol Duratec has a maximum power output of 62kW at 6000rpm and enjoys 127Nm of torque at 4000rpm. This equates to a frugal fuel consumption figure of 6.6ℓ/100km on the combined cycle according to the New European Driving Cycle. CO2 emissions are measured at 156g/km. 

The 1.4L Turbo Diesel Duratorq is just as impressive sporting 51kW at 4000rpm and reaching its maximum torque peak of 160Nm at just 2000rpm. It uses just 5.3L/100km on the combined cycle as measured by the New European Driving Cycle and emits 139g/km of CO2. 

In addition to excellent fuel economy customers are offered further value for money through Ford’s ability to secure affordable spare parts and offer reliable servicing through its extensive dealer network. The Figo comes with a 4-year/120 000km warranty and 5-year corrosion warranty. Service intervals are 20 000km for petrol derivatives and 15 000km for diesel.

Friday, November 9, 2012


The all-new Audi A3hatchback is being launched to motoring media next week, but we already have prices! Starting at R267 000 for the 1.2 TFSI 6-speed manual with 77kW and 175Nm of torque. The car is said to average 4.9 litres of petrol per 100km travelled, after levelling the 0 – 100km/h sprint in 10.7 seconds.

Next on the list is the 1.4 TFSI making 90kW and 200Nm of torque, dispatching 0 – 100km/h in 9.3 seconds and averaging 5.3 litres per 100km. It costs R274 500 at the Audi till. You can also get this model with the company 6-speed S tronic automatic gearbox for R291 500. Then you have the 77kW, 250Nm 1.6 TDI coming to Mzansi only with the S tronic option fitted. Frugal as ever, the TDI returns a lovely 3.8 litres per 100km. You can leave a cheque for R302 500 for this one. All these above cars are badged S models as per Audi’s European nomenclature, which we’ve also adopted as from the new facelift A4.

The SE range consists of the 1.8 TFSI manual and S Tronic, both pushing 132kW and 250Nm. Each costs R305 000 and R322 000 respectively. As well as being more powerful, these SEs are higher-specced than their S siblings and offer more standard equipment. This includes things like front fog lamps and sports seats. Options include heated seats, adaptive cruise control, a panoramic sunroof and a Bang & Olufsen sound system.

Last on the list is the 1.8 TFSI 132kW S Tronic quattro, said to be the only AWD in its class. Peak engine torque from this motor is 280Nm made between 1350rpm and 4500rpm.

The new A3 hatch currently only competes with the BMW 1 Series hatchback, but will soon add a 5-door Sportback version that widens the enemy net to include the 1er 5-door, the new Volvo V40 as well as the upcoming Mercedes-Benz A-Class.


Someone who attended a special function three nights ago called M Night, was kind enough to send these pics of the new BMW M6 Gran Coupeto Bimmerpost. M Night was an event organised at the Nurburgring in Germany as part of the 40 year celebration of BMW’s M brand. Thanks dude. Nice pics!

The M6 Gran Coupe is going on sale in 2013, including in South Africa, where it will take on the Porsche Panamera Turbo and the Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG. It features the same 4.4-litre V8 twin turbo engine found in the M5 and M6 ranges. We aren’t too sure as to how much thrust is in there, suffice to say it will be at least 412kW.

The car will be unveiled to the public at the 2013 North American International Auto Showin Detroit in two months’ time. But we are expecting details to come much sooner, within the next couple of weeks in fact. 


Following in its new tradition of releasing “Black Series”- badged AMG cars, Mercedes-Benz has removed the wraps off the brand new SLS AMG Black Series. The car is based on the SLS AMG GT but has a few neat tricksup its sleeve.

Like the fact that while it uses the same 6.2-litre V8 engine, power is now up from 435kW to 464kW at a high-pitched 8000rpm. At the same time though, and strangely enough, torque is down to 634Nm. Merc says the SLS AMG Black Series will jump off from standing still to a speed reading of 100km/h in just 3.6 seconds, making it the quickest production Mercedes-Benz on the planet. Its top speed is rated at 315km/h. If you bought yours on a budget you can take note of its stated fuel consumption of 13.7 litres per 100km. Sounds good, if you believe in things like Santa Claus and the perfect man.

What is real though, apparently, is the weight-saving of 70kg on the normal GT. This was achieved, among other ways, but removing the COMAND control unit inside, using a titanium exhaust system, carbon fibre rear diffuser and others.

Other differences are in the use of a carbon fibre rear wing, wider front and rear tracks, 20-inch forged alloy wheels, and lightweight sports seats.

No word on South African availability yet, but the old SL 65 Black Series did come here in 2008 at a cost of just over R4 million a pop. One Patrice Motsepe bought one. Of course.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


One of Mzansi’sbest-selling crossover vehicles, the Nissan Juke, is now available in a version called the Midnight Edition. This special-editionmodel was designed especially for South Africans. Not sure why, but it sure looks good. Good is obviously a matter of personal taste since the Juke is one that splits opinion when it comes to styling.

Limited to only 100 units, the Midnight Edition features black 17-inch alloy wheels, red or black spoilers and door mirrors, rear privacy glass and others.

The car features the same 1.6-litre DIG turbo engine worth a sporting 140kW and 240Nm of torque. We’ve driven this engine and found it to be willing and able when prompted to respond to performance demands. The flipside is a rather high fuel average for the type and size of car.

If you dig the Juke Midnight Edition be prepared to part with a loan of R272 500, or R278 500 when fitted with leather. Be quick though. Remember, it is a limited edition.


Ford South Africa has confirmed that the all-new Ford Kuga will be available with a 1.6L EcoBoost petrol engine with 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission and a 2.0L TDCi turbo diesel engine with PowerShift automatic transmission.

Apart from fuel efficient engines, the newest compact SUV to join the Ford family will combine striking design and functionality with a rewarding driving experience. Smart technologies like Ford’s voice activated in-car SYNC connectivity system will be available as standard while features such as Active Park Assist will be available as options on certain models.

Using the latest powertrain technologies such as EcoBoost and twin independent camshaft variable timing (Ti-VCT), Ford has given its newest SUV a range of engines that are capable of high power and high torque while consuming less fuel.
The global EcoBoost technology also features turbocharging and direct injection so that the EcoBoost engines can rival the power and performance of a larger engine – but at a fraction of the fuel consumption.

These engines are fundamental to the Ford strategy of providing technologically advanced, high-output, smaller-displacement powertrains that deliver exceptional fuel economy and exceptional performance for millions of drivers around the world. Ford holds more than 125 patents on this engine technology.

Further aiding fuel efficiency is the Kuga’s sleeker design. The new model is almost 10% more aerodynamic than the outgoing model, while the Kuga’s Active Grille Shutter system further enhances fuel economy by reducing wind resistance. 

Grille slats stay open when extra engine cooling air is required, such as low-speed stop-and-go driving. When cruising on the highway at steady speeds, the grille slats automatically close to improve aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.

Kuga will also introduce a “smart” AWD system that pre-emptively reassesses road conditions 20 times faster than it takes to blink an eye, readjusting the AWD power split to give the driver the best blend of handling and traction.

A number of advanced safety technologies will also be available as options Adaptive Cruise Control senses when traffic is slowing, and regulates the vehicle’s speed accordingly. When the traffic clears, it goes back to the vehicle’s pre-set speed. The Kuga’s Blind Spot Information System lets you know when there’s a car in your blind spot, while Lane Keeping Aid alerts the driver via a steering wheel vibration if they inadvertently drift into another lane and simultaneously directs the driver back their lane. Active City Stop also ensures a safer driving experience in slow moving traffic. If the traffic ahead should suddenly stop, while moving at speeds less than 30km, the brakes will automatically be applied ensuring a collision is avoided. 

Among the customer-focused features being shown for the first time in South Africa on a Ford product is “open sesame” - a hands-free automatic tailgate, allowing customers to open or close the rear tailgate by simply sweeping a foot under the rear bumper.

Using the same motion technology found in today’s video game systems, a gentle kicking motion under the centre of the rear bumper activates, unlocks and raises the tailgate when the driver has the Kuga key fob. This allows quick and easy access to the cargo area without needing to set down packages or dig out keys. The same process closes the hatch.

Full details of the line-up, specifications and features will be released closer to the vehicle’s launch in 2013.

//PART 2