Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Normal 2013 Audi RS 6 Avant 

Audi customers it seems, are becoming more and more demandingas the brand scales even higher peaks in the race to become the number one premium car maker in the world. According to an interview conducted by CAR UK, the company is about to launch an even more powerful RS 6 Avant.

The current car, which we really hope and pray comes to Mzansi, uses a 4.0-litre twin turbo V8engine worth 412kW. Well, plans are quite advanced to up the ante on matters and introduce an RS 6 Plus kicking out around 447kW. RS Plus models are not new, but none have ever come to Mzansi. Not under officialpapers anyway.

Quite exciting then. More exciting is that it is not a limited edition anything and will therefore be available throughout the current A6’s lifecycle. In addition, other RS Plus models are also on the way. Current RS cars in the market include the RS 5and RS 4 Avant, but these are not candidates for Plus treatment because their shared 4.2-litre naturally aspirated engine has pretty much reached the end of its life.


Already confirmed for launchin South Africa in March this year, the new Volvo V40 Cross Countrylooks set to be the sexiest small Volvoyet. And thanks to their generous PR department, we now have prices to go with it as well.

The V40 Cross Country is not to be confused with Volvo’s XC models, which are more rugged. Cross Country is quite urban, but features elevatedseating positions. They are what one would call all-road versions of the wagons and hatches. As such, the V40 Cross Country has a 40mm higher ride height than the normal V40, with wheels of up to 19-inches, a honeycombmesh front grille, and daytime running lights among others.

Four engine models will arrive here in March. The diesels are D3 and D4 types, both displacing 2.0-litres. D3 makes 110kW and 350Nm of torque, while the D4 is good for 130kW and 400Nm, returning 5.2 litres per 100km.

The two petrols, a T4and T5, look quite strong on paper. T4 runs a 1.6-litre GTDi motor making 132kW and 270Nm, and bigger sibling T5 is a 2.5-litre turbo worth 187kW and 400Nm.

Check out the price list below.

V40 Cross Country T4 Manual Essential
R319 900
V40 Cross Country T4 Manual Excel
R326 600
V40 Cross Country T4 Powershift Essential
R335 700
V40 Cross Country T4 Manual Elite
R340 500
V40 Cross Country T4 Powershift Excel
R342 400
V40 Cross Country D3 Geartronic Excel
R353 700
V40 Cross Country T4 Powershift Elite
R356 300
V40 Cross Country D3 Geartronic Elite
R367 600
V40 Cross Country D4 Geartronic Excel
R368 200
V40 Cross Country D4 Geartronic Elite
R382 100
V40 Cross Country T5 Geartronic Excel
R390 200
V40 Cross Country T5 Geartronic Elite
R404 100
V40 Cross Country T5 Geartronic AWD Excel
R405 900
V40 Cross Country T5 Geartronic AWD Elite
R419 800


Toyota was recognised as the world’s best-selling vehicle brand after recording nearly 9.75 million sales in 2012. This means that the company last year sold one new vehicle every 3 seconds to a customer somewhere in the world.

Total group sales, including Hino trucks, Lexus luxury vehicles and Daihatsu, reached a new record of 9 748 000 units, which is 22.6% better than the production-interrupted 2011 and also surpasses the previous Toyota sales record of 9 367 000 units recorded in 2007.

In addition, Toyota also saw increases in production and market share in its major markets. Production increased for the first time in two years as a result of increases in virtually all regions. Exports from Japan to North America, Latin America, Asia, Oceania, the Middle East and Africa, which was severely interrupted by the March 2011 tsunami in this country, also increased dramatically which added to the overall increase.

In South Africa Toyota improved its market share to 19.4% after selling 121 276 cars and trucks in 2012. In doing so it was crowned market leader for the 33rd consecutive year.

“In 2011 we launched our new global vision, which built on Toyota’s strengths of quality, durability and reliability and put our ultimate focus on customer satisfaction. I believe that our sales success in 2012 proves that we are on target, but in the spirit of kaizen (continuous improvement) we will work hard to improve it in 2013,” says Dr Johan van Zyl, President and CEO of Toyota South Africa Motors.

Toyota aims to sell 9.91 million vehicles group-wide globally in 2013, which is an improvement up 1.6% over 2012. The company believes that its exciting next generation of products, including the Toyota 86, new Auris, forthcoming RAV4 and new Lexus IS will support this goal.


Thursday, January 24, 2013


When McLaren went off the track and into the public roads as McLaren Automotive, few doubted the company’s resolve. The release in 2011 of the MP4-12Cproved the brand’s super exclusiveperformance car pedigree. Now the P1 is coming. It’s the ultimate road McLaren and promises “to produce the best driver’s car in the world on road and track

The camouflaged pictures you see here are of the production P1 itself, being pushed to its performance limits on the racing track. Disguised as the car is, we can clearly see its lines, the large air dams up front, on the roof and at the rear, the retractable rear spoiler, and that single windscreen wiper. A lot of the car’s design has to do with increasing performance through the knowledge garnered in Formula One.

Engine details are obviously quite scarce at this point in time, but speculation is that it will use a V8 engine with at least two turbos, spitting off around 650kW. We reckon even 550kW would be acceptable by our lowly standards, but then again, we aren’t exactly in the market for a hyper car.

The P1 should hit the streets later this year and arrive in Mzansi either at the end of 2013 or at the beginning of 2014.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Porsche AG sold more sports cars in 2012 than ever before: 141 075 customer deliveries equal an increase of 18.7% compared to last year's record of 118 868 vehicles sold. “We are looking back on the most successful year in our history,” said Matthias Müller, President and Chief Executive Officer of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG at the Detroit ...

...Motor Show. “The commitment of our entire workforce was a key factor in achieving this result. We are well equipped to guide Porsche successfully through 2013.” Over the past three years, the Stuttgart-based sports car manufacturer has increased the number of vehicles delivered to customers by 83.9 per cent.

Bernhard Maier, Member of the Executive Board Sales and Marketing, highlighted: “2012 was an outstanding year for Porsche: for every model and in every region. In 2013 we will carry forward our product offensive with the launch of our new hybrid vehicles, such as the 918 Spyder, and of our new Macan SUV.”

Porsche showed double-digit growth in all sales regions in 2012. The Asia/Pacific region tops the list with 50 376 delivered units (+23.6% compared to the previous year), closely followed by Europe, where the Stuttgart-based sports car manufacturer sold 49 639 new cars (+13.5%). The Chinese market posted over 30 000 deliveries for the first time: exactly 31 205 new cars were handed over to the customers. The most successful single market in 2012 was the United States: A total of 35.043 customers in the U.S. opted for a model by Porsche (+20.7%). The 911, Cayenne, Panamera, Boxster and Cayman sports cars are still also very popular in their home market in Germany; they were sold 17,487 times (+16.9%).

The seventh generation of the 911 Carrera sports car classic was highly coveted in 2012 and achieved the greatest growth with 31.4%: a total of 25 475 vehicles were sold. The Boxster was also very popular, achieving sales of 9 253 units, an increase of 29.1% compared to the prior year. The Porsche model most in demand worldwide was the Cayenne: 74 763 cars of this model were handed over to customers last year (+24.8%). With nearly 19 000 units of the Cayenne S, Cayenne GTS and Cayenne Turbo sold, Porsche remains the leading manufacturer of high-performance SUVs.

At the Detroit Motor Show, which starts today, Porsche is unveiling the Cayenne Turbo S as the highlight of this year’s event. With an engine power of 550 hp (405 kW), it ranks at the very top in the sports car manufacturer's SUV model range. All the Cayenne's characteristic features such as extensive offroad capability, great travel comfort and impressive torque have been retained unfettered.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013


The local Chryslerbrand is experiencing something of a mini revivalof late, with fresh new product such as the new 300 C and Jeep Grand Cherokee. A performance Grand, called the SRT8, is currently on the market and a special edition of that, called the Alpine limited edition,is here.

We don’t know exactly why it’s called Alpine. However, we do know that only 95 units will be sold here. The SRT8 Alpine features a unique brand of white paintwork, sharply contrasted by a very distinctive set of black 20-inchwheels with something called a Black Vapor Chrome finish. They in turn, are also contrasted by red Brembo brake calipers.

The 6.4-litrenaturally aspirated V8 engine remains the same, with 344kW and 624Nm of torque puffing out at the slightest of pedal prods.

This Grand Cherokee SRT8 Alpine limited edition will cost you R864 990 at the till. 

Monday, January 21, 2013


One of our favouritecars of all time, the old Audi RS 4 Avant, stopped production way back in 2007. Since then we’ve longed and craved, and finally that badge is back in Mzansi. But will it live up to that excellent reputation of its forebear? We don’t know yet, but plan to find out later in the year. Meantime, here’s the lowdown on specs and all.

The new RS 4 is only available as an Avant (station wagon) so please don’t phone your nearest Audi dealership asking if they are ordering the sedan version. And it’s also quite limited in numbers so you really need to get on with the order asap if you want one.

What you’ll get is the same ole’ 4.2-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine pulling out 331kW of power at 8250rpm and 430Nm of torque between 4000rpm and 6000rpm. Audi claims it can run off from 0 – 100km/h in just 4.7 seconds and top off at 250km/h, all the while averaging about 11 litresof unleaded fuel per 100km.

Some of the technical aspects of the RS 4 Avant include the fact that it has quattro all-wheel-drive (AWD), naturally, which is 40:60 split for rear-biased handling, while utilising the services of a crown-centre differential (same as RS 5 Coupe) to vary the torque between axles for maximum handling effect. All this is driven through a 7-speed double clutch gearbox badged “S tronic”, which is basically DSG from Volkswagen Group.

Because this is essentially a performance car pretending to be a mama’s wagon, it is 20 millimetres longer, 24 millimetres wider and 20mm lower than a normal A4 Avant, so that it gets as close to the ground as possible.

Some of the standard items include the likes of 19-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, xenon plus headlights, a front grille finished in matte aluminium, S sports seats (yeah!) with alcantara trim, a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel with shift paddles behind it, and the Audi Connect system which turns the whole car into a Wifi hotspot that can connect other devices to the internet.

The new Audi RS 4 Avant is now being sold at a dealership near you for the price of R875 000. Stunning if you consider that its most direct rival, in Mzansi the Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Estate costs R923 000 on order, while in Germany, the same RS 4 Avant is priced at around R905 000.


Jaguar Land Rover is commencing production of the Jaguar XF saloon at its facility in Pune, India, from components supplied from the company’s Castle Bromwich plant in Birmingham, UK.  

The initial Pune-built Jaguar XF models will feature the company’s acclaimed 2.2-litre diesel engine, which is coming to the Indian market for the first time. The Jaguars will be built alongside Land Rover Freelander 2 vehicles which have been produced in Pune since May 2011

Dr Ralf Speth, Chief Executive of Jaguar Land Rover, said: "India is a market that offers significant opportunities for both the Jaguar and Land Rover brands. The expansion of our Pune operations to include the Jaguar XF will help us realise our ambitions for the Indian market.

“Jaguar Land Rover is committed to building a sustainable, profitable business; increasing our global manufacturing footprint is a key element of our growth strategy. Together with our joint venture manufacturing facility already under construction near Shanghai, expanding our operations at Pune will help us increase the global volume of cars we build, in addition to those produced in the UK.”

Rohit Suri, Vice President, Jaguar Land Rover India said: “The Land Rover Freelander 2 and the Jaguar XF are our best-selling models in India and this has driven the move to build these products locally.

"The Jaguar XF has become very popular with our customers due to its sports car performance, outstanding luxury saloon elegance and contemporary individual styling. Its inspired engineering and technological innovation have helped it to win more than 100 awards internationally. So we are now delighted to offer this car as a locally built product with a new engine for this market, which will enable us to provide our customers with a wider choice of competitively priced models."

Jaguar Land Rover India recently announced a 32% growth in wholesales in 2012 at 2393 cars compared with 1813 cars in the previous year.


Friday, January 18, 2013


Now available online on the official Ferrari web site are the first teaser images of the new special limited series hybrid supercar which is due to debut later this year.

The two images of the car accompany an interview by The Official Ferrari Magazine with Roberto Fedeli, Technical Director, and Flavio Manzoni, Head of the Styling Centre In the article they discuss the importance of the legacy of Ferrari’s previous special limited series models – the GTO, the F40, F50 and Enzo Ferrari – and the company’s approach today to transferring Formula 1 technology and innovations to its road cars.


Thursday, January 17, 2013


The new Infiniti Q50 sedan was unveiled at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week. The car is touted as a direct competitor to those pesky Germans called 3 Series, A4 and C-Class, as well as the rising Volvo S60. Infiniti launched a whole range of cars in South Africa late last year and will be looking at the Q50 quite closely too.

The compact executive sedan is the first to use the new Q naming strategy in recent times, although it was previously used in the 1990s for the bigger sedans like the Q45. With the “new” naming strategy, expect to see more Q-named cars coming from this Nissan brand.

Q50 is actually just in time to meet up with one of its most direct rivals in the form of the new Lexus IS, also revealed at Detroit and definitely destined for Mzansi. It features two engines as far as the American spec goes, the first of which is the 3.7-litre V6 with 245kW and 363Nm of torque, just like in the 370 Z. Then there’s a hybrid based on the 3.5-litre V6 engine that pushes out 264kW in total, while returning a good fuel cycle apparently. At least three more engine variants will have to be introduced at some point in order to effectively take on said Germans. The cars run on a 7-speed automatic gearbox which makes them quite smooth and easy to shift.

Some technologies that are featured included LED-infused headlights, two-zone climatic control, Bluetoothconnectivity, a touchscreen display and others. 


It was a good day in hot Chile for the five South African-built Toyota Hilux 4x4s on the Dakar Rally on Thursday.  After a second crossing of the Andes Mountains and the heat of the Atacama Desert, all safely reached the overnight bivouac.

Third place on the 319-kilometre special stage between Fiambala and Copiapo saw Toyota Imperial South Africa Team’s Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz close to within 50 minutes of the overall leaders, defending champions Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret of France in a Mini.

Nani Roma of Spain and French co-driver Michel Perin took the stage win in a Mini ahead of Americans Robbie Gordon and Kellon Walch in a Hummer, with De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz just seven seconds behind the Americans and 1 min 38 sec in front of fourth-placed Peterhansel and Perin.  Roma and Perin move up to third overall and are 40 min 45 sec behind De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz.

Significant for the South African/German duo in Imperial Toyota Hilux #301 was the fact that the Russian pairing of Leonid Novitskiy and Konstantin Zhiltsov (Mini), who started the day’s stage 16 minutes behind them in the general classification, only managed to finish ninth and have now dropped to fourth overall behind Roma and Perin.

South Africa’s best-selling bakkie for more than 30 years continues to make a big impact on the global stage of the world’s longest and toughest motor race.  Behind the Imperial Toyota Hilux of De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz in the general classification with only two special stages remaining before the finish in Santiago, Chile, the four customer Hilux bakkies all improved their overall positions on Thursday and are now 9th, 11th, 12th and 13th in the general classification.

“We just wanted to have a clean stage, but for sure, today's stage was a lot tougher than I expected it to be,” said De Villiers.  “With a long liaison this morning at high altitude, that makes you really tired as well and then you have to do a tough stage like today.  It needed a lot of concentration.  There were quite long dune crossings and really tricky places in the dunes. Then, on the tracks there were lots of rocks, so you really had to be very precise so as not to hit any rocks. It was not an easy day, but we're happy to be here.  

“We lost about thirty seconds at one of the way points in the dunes. We couldn't make it up to that one, so we had to turn around and sort of go around, because at that point I was quite close to Lucio (Alvarez) and I saw he put a gap between us again. 

“I think tomorrow's going to be tough as well, more tough than today.  It's not over yet.”

 Von Zitzewitz: “We’ve studied the route very carefully each night and been well prepared for each stage.  Our preparations certainly paid off today. On Friday we face another tough test, which could be even tougher than today’s. Celebrations would be premature today, too much hinges on the 13th stage. But we are ready.”

Friday’s penultimate special stage between Copiapo and La Serena in Chile will show respect to a local meteorological phenomenon, called Camanchaca.  This stubborn fog will be very dense during the first part of the morning and it will only be once it has lifted that the rally will get underway.  Competitors will tackle the last dunes of this 34th edition of the Dakar.  The sandy part represents a third of the 441-kilometre special stage.  For the rest it is a trip south on wide tracks with lots of stones before they reach the last bivouac of the rally.   


Sunday, January 13, 2013


What you see here are the first official pictures of the brand spanking new Lexus IS, which goes on sale in Mzansi later this year. Replacing the fairly successful current model won’t be easy, but Lexus seems to have gained some good traction in the local market and will look to consolidate over 2013.

This specific model is the IS-F-Sport and we can tell that because it’s wearing all that sexy sporty kit, and of course, it says so on the car itself. Looks wise we can see that master Toyoda’s new plan of turning Toyota into a much more excitingcompany than it has been over the past 20 years is on track. Styling cues from the LF-CC Concept and the LFAare evident, while a continuous family look with the new GS is also apparent.

According to Lexus, “The new-design driver’s seat is more comfortable and provides better lateralsupport. The seat hip point and the angle of the new steering wheel – inspired by the LFA – are both lower, and the steering wheel’s reach adjustment has been increased, giving a more sporting driving position.”

We’ll only know about the proposed engines this week when the car is unveiled at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. 


The Toyota Land Cruiser has long been a bastion for all things agricultural. A mere mention of the moniker conjures up imagery of open land, khaki pants, sheep and shotguns. It makes no bones about what it is: the ultimate workhorse. Of course, the Land Cruiser 70 has been employed by those other than Old MacDonald.

The United Nations uses it in many of their operations and in the Australian outback, we’re told that you can’t get around in anything but a Land Cruiser.

It wasn’t broken, so it didn’t need fixing. For this year however, Toyota has endowed the iconic warrior with more convenience and safety features, in addition to adding a new double cab offering to the line-up.

Move aside, Nissan Navara – this is the real definition of tough. Bar for a few chrome embellishments here and there, not much has changed with the aesthetics of the Cruiser 70: it’s still boxy, butch and intimidatingenough to make the made-up face of television’s Ashley Dowds grimace in fear.

Inside, more generously equipped models get a new colour-screen display, with navigation and accommodation for your USB memory stick and SD card. This new piece of kit looks out of place among the archaic switchgear which seems derived from a 1980s Corolla. We suppose it adds a 21st Century charm to things. Air-conditioning has also been made standard across the board.

Leslie Long, Toyota South Africa’s manager for marketing planning explained that the fitment of anti-lock brakes and disc brakes all-round was part of the plan to get the Land Cruiser a five-star rating in the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) crash tests.

Sitting tall behind the wheel of the square beast, one certainly feels able to conquer everything.
The Cruiser proved its mettle on the jagged rocks of the Minwater 4x4 trail just outside of Oudtshoorn. It sailed past the assortment of sharp rocks and massive boulders without hesitance. And on the rare occasions of incapacitation, it freed itself – courtesy of the diff lock and low-range gearbox.

Even after a nasty fall on its side, leaving one colleague shaken – but not hurt – the Toyota Land Cruiser managed to pick itself up off the ground with minor cosmetic damage, to be started up and driven for the remainder of the press launch.

After experiencing its supreme competence off-road, the Cruiser’s behavior on tarmac can be forgiven, maybe even tolerated. The steering lacks accuracy and has a great deal of play and its leaf suspensionimparts every bump and road imperfection through to passengers. But we love the clunky, direct nature of gear-shifts – it makes one feel hairy-chested and manly – and the pedals, which offer assuring feel.  We also think cruise control should be made available.

Later in the year Toyota will be adding a V8 turbocharged diesel to the range. For now, you can take your pick from a V6 petrol or 4.2-litre diesel powerplant. The latter is the less powerful of the two, with a miserly 96kW on tap. It propels the hefty Land Cruiser sedately, although it is surprisingly quiet and limited in terms of vibration. Brisk performanceis offered by the 170kW 4.0-litre V6, which would be the more feasible choice if you have applications like towing in mind.

You can have the Land Cruiser in single cab, station wagonand double cab body-styles. With the more practical double cab, Toyota hopes to pander to the buyer who’ll use his Land Cruiser as a workhorse in the week, then as a leisure vehicle on the weekends. Rear space isn’t generous, however and we can’t help but wonder: wouldn’t the cheaper Hilux serve better, with its more refined cabin and road manners?

But despite the Cruiser’s asking price (see below), it’s not difficult to see why countlessbusiness, land owners and those involved in agriculture opt for it. The Land Cruiser is a veritable worker, enduring in nature and able to mow down almost anything in its path. It certainly plays its part in keeping the wheels of many enterprises turning. And though it may have a khaki image, it seems the Cruiser will never go out of fashion.

2013 Land Cruiser 70 Pricing
79 Pick-Up Single Cab (R417 900)
79 Pick-Up Double Cab (R463 900)
76 Station Wagon (R506 700)



Ford is setting its sights high in the coming year, getting ready to unleash a raft of new vehicles that offer head-turning style, fuel-efficient engines and smart technologies.

The new Fiesta, Transit and Tourneo, Fiesta ST, Kuga and EcoSport, will make their way into showrooms across the country in 2013. These global vehicles all share Ford’s superior levels of quality, safety, technology and fuel economy.

“It’s going to be an exciting year for us with an exciting variety of models being introduced locally,” said Ford Marketing Manager, Gavin Golightly. “From driving enthusiasts to young families and small business owners, we have something for everyone. We’ve also gone further to provide an enjoyable driving experience, be it with driver assistance technologies or smart in-car features.”

One smart feature common across all these vehicles is the award-winning Ford SYNC™. The hands-free in-car connectivity system enables drivers to make calls or select music from devices connected via Bluetooth® or USB, while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road throughout.

New Fiesta
Ford’s new Fiesta is set to make its debut in the coming weeks sporting bold new styling, a number of feature enhancements and the introduction of the International Engine of the Year, as awarded by Engine Technology International magazine, the 1.0L EcoBoost engine. 

This landmark engine, already selected for both the Popular Mechanics 2012 Breakthrough Award and Engine Technology International’s International Engine of the Year Award in Europe, delivers 4.3l/100km* on a combined cycle route - a clear indication of Ford’s commitment to providing consumers with fuel-efficient vehicles. 

While the relatively small size of the 1.0-liter EcoBoost ensures its efficiency, it offers performance to rival much larger displacement engines. With 92kW and 170Nm on offer the 1.0-litre EcoBoost delivers more power for its size than even some premium cars. 

Transit and Tourneo
With their dynamic styling, car-like interior design and driving dynamics, smart technologies and outstanding fuel economy, the Transit and its people-mover version the Tourneo bring new levels of style and function to the one-tonne commercial vehicle market in South Africa.

The bold design on both models echo the kinetic design language found in Ford’s passenger cars while the modern, driver-focused cockpit combines style and smart stowage solutions. The fuel-efficient 2.2-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel engine is available in both vehicles.

The Tourneo seats up to eight passengers and provides generous space for people and luggage. The rear seats are a completely new design that can be easily folded into multiple configurations and removed in segments or completely, delivering exceptional versatility.

All-new Fiesta ST
Sporting the turbo-charged 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine, the all-new Fiesta ST serves up impressive numbers: 132kW of power, 240Nm of torque, 0-100km/h in under seven seconds, and top speed of more than 220km/h. At the same time, the EcoBoost technology delivers a 20 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions compared with the previous Fiesta ST.

Developed by Ford’s Team RS, the new model improves on ride and handling with a specially tuned chassis that sits 15mm lower than the standard Fiesta; Ford’s enhanced Torque Vectoring Control system; and three Electronic Stability Program modes. These technologies were tested over 5000 kilometers of driving on Germany’s famed Nürburgring Nordschleife.

The high-contrast interior features unprecedented levels of equipment and specification to suit the sporting driver, with standard Recaro sports seats appearing in a Fiesta ST for the first time. The new bold and dynamic exterior design drives home the high performance message and features the latest Ford design signatures including a large trapezoidal grille.

All-new Kuga
The all-new Kuga not only combines striking design and functionality with a rewarding driving experience, but it also introduces innovations such as the hands-free automatic tailgate which can be opened and closed simply by sweeping a foot under the rear bumper.

A range of driver assistance technologies including the parallel parking aid Active Park Assist** and sensor-based Blind Spot Information System** will also be available. The smart Kuga AWD system also pre-emptively reassesses 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. 

There will be two powertrain choices: Ford’s popular 2.0-litre TDCi diesel engine or the 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol engine. 

All-new EcoSport
Based on Ford’s global B-segment platform and developed in South America, the all-new EcoSport combines small car practicality with the flexibility, spaciousness, agility and style of a sports utility. 

The compact, rugged and fuel efficient sports utility will be equipped with Ford’s latest EcoBoost engine – the 1.0-litre three-cylinder which was recently voted the 2012 “International Engine of the Year”.

The distinctive and aerodynamic EcoSport features a large front grille; slim, detailed headlights; and cladding on the side sills and bumpers. EcoSport will also offer a comprehensive package of driver assistance technologies including anti-lock brake system, Electronic Stability Program, and Hill Launch Assist.



Torrential rain and flooded rivers turned the final stage of the first week of the Dakar Rally into something of a lottery, but this did not stop the South African/German duo of Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz from successfully defending the third place overall they established in their Imperial Toyota Hilux on the fourth day of the race.

Special stage eight between Salta and San Miguel de Tucuman in Argentina was originally intended to be 470 kilometres long, but overnight rain resulted in it being shortened to 185 kilometres before the start at 2.05 pm local time (7.05 pm SA time. When a swollen river 30 kilometres from the end of the stage prevented all but the first five cars from reaching the finish, the race direction applied the slowest stage time of the finishers to all those who failed to finish.

It appears this decision is being contested by some competitors and teams and the current results are subject to confirmation.

The stage was won by Guerlain Chicherit and Jean-Pierre Garcin of France in a two-wheel drive SMG Buggy. De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz were among those who were unable to cross the river.
Current official overall results place Frenchmen Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret, who have led from stage two in a four-wheel drive diesel Mini, in the lead after 18 hr 31 min 4 sec of racing since the Dakar started in Lima, Peru, on January 5. The Qatari/Spanish combination of Nasser Al-Attiyah and Lucas Cruz are second in a two-wheel drive petrol Buggy, 3 min 14 sec behind.  De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz are 44 min 3 sec in arrears and 4 min 51 sec ahead of fourth-placed Russians Leonid Novitskiy and Konstantin Zhiltsov in another Mini.

Whatever way the officials decide De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz will remain third overall in their proudly South African four-wheel drive petrol Hilux, with the gap to the first and second cars and to the fourth car depending on the final decision.

The top three drivers are all former winners of the Dakar, Peterhansel having won in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2012, Al-Attiyah in 2011 and De Villiiers in 2009. All are competing in the T1 class for Improved Cross Country Vehicles. Peterhansel and Cottret are first in the four-wheel drive diesel class, Al-Attiyah and Cruz lead the two-wheel drive petrol class and De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz are the front runners in the four-wheel drive petrol class.

Sunday is a rest day and the race will resume on Monday with another tough stage over 293 kilometres San Miguel de Tucuman and Cordoba in Argentina before it finishes in Santiago, Chile, on January 20. For now, it’s a welcome respite from the hardships of the 8 500-kilometre marathon and a time to rest weary bodies and battered machines and prepare for the second week.

“It was quite a challenging stage!” said De Villiers. “It went well for us. We started fifth and overtook Nasser when he suffered a puncture. Then we reached a river which was totally flooded. It was impossible to cross. We heard from the organisers that the rest of the stage was neutralised and that the result would be taken as at Check Point 2. A pity, as we were having a good run and would probably have been able to make up a bit more time by the end.”

The Toyota Imperial South Africa Team set out from Lima a week ago with two Imperial Toyota Hilux 4x4s, the second South African-built bakkie in the hands of 2012 national off road champions Duncan Vos and Rob Howie. Competing in their second Dakar – they were 10th overall in their debut in 2011 in an Imperial Toyota Hilux – they were forced to withdraw from the race on race. Lying 12th overall after the first two stages, they rolled their Hilux after cresting a high sand dune too quickly and damaged the roll cage. They completed the stage, but were unable to continue for safety reasons.

“It’s been a tough and hectic week,” said team manager Glyn Hall. “Giniel and Dirk have had a very good run so far and we’re in a good position to challenge for a podium position in Santiago on January 20. Duncan and Rob were unlucky to go out the way they did. They could have continued if the roll cage hadn’t been damaged, but the rules do not allow this. Calling Sunday a rest day is a bit of a misnomer as it’s anything but for the technical team. We’ll be stripping down Hilux #301 and checking everything and replacing components where necessary.  We still have another tough week of racing ahead of us before we can say we conquered the Dakar again.”

//PART 2