Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Mercedes-Benz revealed the CLA 45 AMG today. CLA is like a smaller version of the CLS and shows how serious Merc is about taking back its second spot from Audi and eventually replacing BMW the top of the premium luxury car sales charts.

This particular model is powered by a 4-cylinder 2.0-litre turbo engine making 265kW and 450Nm of torque, the same as the A 45 AMG which shares the same platform. The car has all-wheel-drive (AWD) in the form of the patented 4MATIC system and is run by a 7-speed automatic. Merc says it will scatter off from 0 – 100km/h in just 4.6 seconds, topping off at 250km/h.

The CLA will definitely be at the 2013 Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS) in October, whether in “pedestrian” or AMG guise. We are hoping for both.


It’s out! The brand new Range Rover Sport has been revealed. This is the second-generation car aimed at the likes of Audi Q7, BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz ML-Class and Volvo XC 90. For the Mzansi crowd it means more BEE and moneyed musician types will be seen driving it. We think it will be here around Septemberor October, so get your bling chequebook out.

In terms of what is on the engine equipment list at launch, we can see the 3.0-litre SDV6 turbo diesel with 215kW and the 375kW 5.0-litre V8 supercharged for the performance model. In 2014 there will be added engines, including a super 4.4 diesel worth 249kW, a milder 190kW V6 diesel, petrol as well as a hybrid. The gearbox is an 8-speed automatic system. Land Rover says 0 – 100km/h acceleration times start at 5.2 seconds across the range (pun intended), meaning the V8 will dip below this. We’ll ascertain these claims when we drive it.

The new Range Rover Sport is at least 420kg lighter than the current model, depending on which one. It is 62mm longer, and has a wheelbase that’s 178mmlonger that the predecessor. While it is based on the bigger Range Rover, which itself is now about 100kg lighter than its own predecessor, the Range Sport is 45kg off the Range and shares up to 25% of its parts. And as you can see from the pics, it also has the option of a 5+2 seating configuration, much like the Discovery 4.

As far as other features go, there are things like WiFi connectivity which will benefit passengers’ devices like tablets and smart phones, Lane Departure Assist technology, Head-up Display as an option, and the new Wade Sensing feature that provides “depth” information when driving through water. Very nifty this because often we take these creatures into waters that have not been measured for depth, only to find that even this one’s 850mm wading depth is not enough.


Citroën South Africa, is entering the South African market for minibus taxis after a lengthy period spent researching this important segment and setting up a strategy to become a significant player with a range of 15-, 16- and 19-seater Relay buses.

“We are already encouraged with our success in the 2012 government tender and have, to date, supplied 45 diesel-engined 16- and 19-seater minibuses to government agencies including the SA Police Service, Legal Aid and Water Affairs,” says National Fleet and Business-to-Business Manager, Khyl Reddy.

“We are expecting to sell many more vehicles via the government tender and are aiming to sell about 1 000 minibuses in South Africa this year.

"We are not rushing into what we know is a complicated segment of the market, but believe we have done our homework and are now ready to put our plans into action,” added Reddy.

The Relay panel vans are manufactured in Italy and then shipped to Citroën in France, which in turn exports them to South Africa. Bustruck Conversions converts them according to the SA Government regulations for minibus taxis by fitting windows, strengthened floor, seat belts, seats and radios.

All models have airbags for the driver and front passenger.

The 15- and 16-seater models are powered by 2,2-litre engines, while the 19-seater is fitted with a 3-litre power unit. T
he 15-seater has a five-speed manual gearbox with a 6-speed transmission fitted to the 16- and 19-seater models.

Prices range from R305 900 for the 15-seater to R369 900 for the long haul 19-seater.
The 16-seater is priced at R315 900.

All models have a 5-year/100 service plan with a 3-year/100 000km warranty. Servicing is required every 20 000km.

The three Citroën Relay minibuses have been homologated by the SA Bureau of Standards (SABS) and been evaluated by the Independent Transport Advisory Service (ITAS) on behalf of the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco).

The Citroën Relay buses are currently in the process of receiving a scoring on the ITAS evaluation, which is supported by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

A number of vehicles with the fuel-saving stop-start facility will arrive in South Africa in the second quarter of 2013 for evaluation by the taxi industry on 16-seaters used on short haul routes.

Stop start facility will be an optional extra at about R5 000.

“We will provide special training on this system which not only cuts fuel usage, but also harmful emissions, so it has major environmental benefits and is a first for a minibus taxi in SA,” said Reddy.

Citroën SA has linked up with Taxi Choice as a finance and insurance provider. It is also offering its vehicles through the Rent 2 Own programme which is operated by Absa Bank. Taxi Rent 2 Own Company allows the buyer to finance the vehicle at a much lower interest rates, low insurance premiums, minimal extras and monthly savings.

This programme requires the fitment of tracking and monitoring systems and Khyl Reddy and her team are looking to tie up a deal with a National Institution for a system that incorporates a cell phone. Timing for this project is the second quarter of 2013.

All Citroën dealers, of which there are currently 20 nationwide (with plans to grow this total to 30 in 2014), have service facilities that accommodate the Relay.

They are backed up by a state-of-the-art warehouse in Linbro Park that covers 8 500m2 in area and holds stock valued at R38-million. Parts are delivered up to four times a day to Gauteng dealers and within 24 hours to other areas. The first time parts picking rate is currently an excellent 92%.

“We are very aware of the high expectations of taxi operators and their need to keep downtime to a minimum and believe that with the excellent quality of our Relay minibuses and a tried and tested after-sales back-up system, we are now ideally placed to become an increasingly significant player in this market,” concluded Khyl Reddy.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013


What’s wrong with Toyota’s 86 sports coupe? Very little, but in an age where ‘more is more’ and the compact performance car segment is dominated by  turbocharged über-hatches, its 147kW of normally-aspirated power looks a little limp-wristed. That’s even more apparent in Jozi where you can knock 20kW off that to compensate for thin air. And the Subaru BRZ, due for local launch soon, will face the same issues.

So while it scores top marks for handling and driveability, it’s slow. Zero to 120 km/h in 11 seconds slow, Quarter-mile in 15.5 seconds at a terminal speed of 142 clicks slow, overtaking from 60 to 100 km/h in fourth gear in 8.2 seconds slow and top speed of 223 km/h slow. You don’t want to know what a stock standard two-pedal version is capable of but here’s one piece of info: standstill to 120 km/h takes over 14 seconds.

But it doesn’t have to be this way: for R75 000 RGMotorsport of Strydom Park, Randburg, will turn the low-slung coupe into a fiery robot racer, able to fully exploit its rear-drive traction advantage, and whip through the 120 km/h sprint in around eight seconds and on to a 250 km/h top whack. Put another R9 950 on the table and they’ll add a Techniflow (RGM’s in-house exhaust designs) cat-free stainless steel exhaust and free up some more grunt,  and a suitably extrovert sound track from a 63 mm outlet …

Unlike the figures for the standard car mentioned in the second paragraph, the figures above are estimates, but the Green brothers of RGMotorsport sees no reason why they aren’t attainable.

Says Rob Green, who after 20 years at the helm of RGM has a need for speed which is undiminished: “We estimate a conservative 210kW, which is 40% up on the standard figure, and in fact will translate into a real improvement of over 50% up here on the Reef, if the losses for altitude are taken into account.”

The installation is a ‘bolt-on’ which means there aren’t any internal changes made to the engine and it runs the standard 12.5:1 compression ratio. This is made possible thanks to an integrated air-to-air intercooler with all-aluminium tube ducting and an oversized cooler core to provide maximum cooling with minimum pressure loss. This integrated cooling system is the key to reliable performance.

Forcing the air into the intercooler is a V-3 H67BC centrifugal supercharger from Vortech (a brand RGM has used exclusively for more than a decade) and this particular unit is designed specifically for the horizontally-opposed FA20 Boxer engine. The package incorporates a curvaceous airbox and an optimised filter housing which allows for additional flow while retaining the factory cold air ram intake, and quick release fasteners for simple access to filter for servicing.

Other features of the installation include:

Discharge duct connections utilize heat-resistant silicon sleeves and premium quality stainless steel clamps.
CNC machined billet mounting brackets with black anodized finish for attractive and functional "factory-type" appearance and rigidity.
Complete ancillary set; including all necessary belts, pulleys and reusable high-flow air filter.

Despite its relatively straightforward bolt-on design, RGM’s expertise and experience in the art of supercharging is the Unique Selling Proposition that maximises the performance benefits while ensuring drivability isn’t sacrificed. To this end a Unichip 'piggyback' auxiliary engine management computer, fettled by an expect dynamometer operator, is used to remap ignition, air and fuel requirements of the modified system.

The end result will be a car with a six pack, whereas before it had the automotive equivalent of a ‘muffin top’ – that unsightly spare flesh that tends to bulge over the waistline and slow you down. Watch this space to see how we get an 86 in shape…


Monday, March 18, 2013


Official interior shots of the all-new upcoming Mercedes-Benz S-Class model year 2014 have come out! The car is being launched in Europe in May this year, but we believe it will be shown in public for the first time at the 2013 New York International Auto Show. From these pics the car looks quite magnificentand should raise the bar in its class in terms of technology and comfort.

Already there’s a 12 month waiting list for the car in Mzansi, so if you are interested based on these pics, you better put your name down ASAP.

The car will feature some exciting new technologies which will be announced closer to the time of launch. Included here will be LED headlights, a top-end Burmester sound system and surround view/ bird’s eye view camera system. There should also be some WiFi internet access included.

But it will also carry existing tech as well as engines. The current 5.5-litre twin turbo V8 will of course be in use in the S 500 and S 63 AMG models to deliver what is expected to be 320kW and 420kW respectively. An S 65 AMG is also on the cards as always. Lower down the rung there would be an S 350/ S 400, S 350 CDI and even an S 250 CDI


Gennaro Bonafede gave his many Cape Town fans something to smile about when he won the 14-lap Bridgestone Production Car feature race in his class AFerodo Audi A4 at Killarney on Saturday. It was his second feature race win since he stepped up to the class A Audi and it came at a circuit with strong connections to the Bonafede family.

“Killarney is almost like a home circuit for me and to win the main race here was very special.  We had a good race car all weekend and today'sresults make up for the disappointments I have experienced in recent visits to Cape Town.”

The 22-year-old from Johannesburg qualified fourth on Saturday morning for the first of the two seven-lap sprint races, just eight tenths of a second off the pole position time of Johan Fourie (BMW).  He finished fourth in the first race and was third in the second, but was penalised 30 seconds forpassing under a yellow flag and dropped to eighth.

Thanks to claiming the fastest lap in race two he started the feature race from pole position and was not headed throughout an exciting race, finishingahead of defending champion Michael Stephen and Tschops Sipuka to give Audi a memorable 1-2-3.

The second round of the Engen Volkswagen Championship provided the traditional door handle-to-door handle racing that characterises this popular one--make series.  Once again Ferodo Racing's young guns gave a good account of themselves in only their second appearance in their VW Polos.

Ernie van der Walt from Hoopstad  and Daniel Rowe from Port Elizabeth, both aged 19, qualified 14th and 16th respectively in a closely-contested sessionthat saw the top 16 cars covered by a single second.

Racing in the middle of the pack, where the chances of contact with another competitor are the highest, a cautious Van der Walt kept out of trouble in the opening eight-lapper and finished 17th.

A fired up Rowe was lapping not far off the pace of the leaders and had moved up to 14th on lap five when he was knocked off the circuit at the end of the long back straight and fell back to 21st at the finish.

He responded magnificently in the second race to put in his best performance so far this year, crossing the finish line after 10 laps in seventh place.His best lap was just half a second off the fastest lap of the race.

Van der Walt, still getting to grips with his first taste of front- wheel drive car racing after two seasons in Formula Volkswagen single seaters,improved on his first race result to finish 12th and was happy to collect a 10th overall for the day in the most closely-matched category of racing onthe programme.

“Gennaro once again showed why he is one of the top young drivers in the country,” said Ronnie Erasmus, motorsport manager of Federal-Mogul, manufacturers of Ferodo brake pads. “Ernie and Daniel both gave a good account of themselves and continue to make good progress as they gain in
confidence in their first season of Engen VW Cup racing.”


Saturday, March 16, 2013


By this time in two weeks’ time, the 2013 World Car of the Year would have been announced at the New York International Auto Show. The announcement will be made on the 28th of March and we have all the finalists for the four main categories, namely World Car of the Year, World Performance Car of the Year, World Design of the Year and World Green Car of the Year.

Leading for the main award are the all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the Porsche Boxster/ Cayman range, the Toyota 86/ Subaru BRZ/ Scion FR-S and the Volkswagen Golf 7. We don’t have the Scionrange in Mzansi. Over 66 motoring journalists from 23 countries are on the jury for this.

Then we have the exciting World Performance Car of the Year, which has the following finalists: Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, Porsche Boxster/ Cayman and the Toyota 86/ Subaru BRZ/ Scion FR-S trio. Certain cars are lumped together when they are based on the exact architecture, minus a few negligible attributes.

Then the Green Car of the Year. Finalists here are the Renault Zoe, the Tesla Model S and the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid. None of these are available in Mzansi. Finally the Design of the Year category lists these cars as its finalists: Aston Martin Vanquish, the new Jaguar F-Type and the Mazda6.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Previous-generation BMW 1 M Coupe

BMW’s M Divisionis one of the most envied businesses in the auto industry. Part of the reason is their high-performance menu of cars, cars like the 1 M Coupe. Now it appears the little stomper will soon return to once again quench our thirst. But will it be called 1 M Coupe, or 2 M Coupe?

What we do know for sure is that it will be based on the current 1 Series platform. What is also known is that the 1 Series Coupe could change its name to 2 Series Coupe, turning the rear-wheel-driven performer into either a 2 M Coupe or even an M2. M Division CEO Dr Friedrich Nitschkesays yes such a car is being developed, but won’t say much else.

Currently the standard-bearer in the 1 Series range is the M135i, which, for all its glorious wonders, just isn’t a proper M car. The M135iis good for 235kW, which leads us to believe the 1 M/ M2 will suit up for over 260kW. This figure would be quite appropriate given that the new Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG gives off 265kW.


Audi South Africa has introduced a lovely customisation programme for the small A1 range. Called A1 Amplified, the packages are designed to suit individuals, such that A1 owners feel they are catered for in a special way, not as part of some mass. Plus, because they can be factory-fitted, it means they are covered by Audi.

Based on the Ambitionline, the features include two exclusive exterior colours called Misano Redand Glacier White. Standout pieces include the likes of a high-gloss black roof arch on the 3-door hatch and a full roof dome on the Sportbackmodel, 17-inch alloy wheels with black inserts. Inside we see black sports seats and body-coloured air vents among others. The A1 Amplified package costs R20 000.

The cars are still being run by the same engines, meaning the 1.2 TFSI with 63kW and 160Nm, the 1.4 TFSI making 90kW and 200Nm, as well as the same engine delivering 136kW and 250Nm. The 1.6-litre turbodiesel makes 77kW and 250Nm of torque. 

Monday, March 11, 2013


Land Rover has confirmed it will showcase the upcoming brand new Range Rover Sport at the 2013 New York International Auto Show on 26 March. The reason they chose NYC is because Range Rover Sport sells more units there than in any other metropolitan city in the world. And right now all we have is this blurry teaser photo to work with.

Promises are already being made regarding the car’s capabilities, with Land Rover Global Brand Director Mr John Edwards saying: “The all-new Range Rover Sport takes the model to another level.  It is Land Rover’s most dynamic vehicle yet and showcases the best of British design, engineering and technologicalinnovation.”

We certainly cannot wait to see it live. Meanwhile we believe it will share most of its engines with big brother Range Rover, as well as Jaguar models. These should include the 3.0-litre supercharged V6 making around 245kW, the 3.0-litre TDV6 worth 190kW (600Nm), as well as a supercharged V8 cooking over 375kWfor the real performance enthusiast.

The new 2014 Range Rover Sport should be in Mzansi during the fourth quarter of the year. Pricingand exact models will be confirmed then.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Ferrari LaFerrari. The fastest Ferrari ever built. This is the car that is replacing the Enzo, a car named after Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari. Only 499 of these will ever be built, and apparently there is interested from over 1 000 multi-millionairecollectors already. We’d like to just see one in Mzansi, that’s all.

According to company Chairman and CEO Mr Luca di Montezemolo, the LaFerrari was so named “because it is the maximum expression of what defines our company – excellence. Excellencein terms of technologicalinnovation, performance, visionary styling and the sheer thrill of driving. Aimed at our collectors, this is a truly extraordinary car which encompasses advanced solutions that, in the future, will find their way onto the rest of the range, and it represents the benchmark for the entire automotive industry. LaFerrari is the finest expression of our company’s unique, unparalleled engineering and design know-how, including that acquired in Formula 1.”

So to get to the nitty grities, the car is powered by a 6.3-litre naturally aspirated V12 (so Ferrari) that works with an electric motor. In total the system pushes out 708kW, which maximum revs of 9250rpmavailable, while peak torque is just over 900Nm. The LaFerrari is a hybrid, and its electric motor dishes out 120kW. The lithium-ion batteries used are located underneath the floor. Ferrari says it will blast off from 0 – 100km/h in less than 3 seconds, 0 – 200km/h in less than 7 seconds, 0 – 300km/h in less than 15 seconds and has a top speed of over 350km/h. A 7-speed DCT double-clutch gearbox is used.

The car measures 4.7 metres in length, 1.99m in width, 1.1m in height and has a wheelbase of 2.65m. Weight is distributed 41% up front and 59% to the back. They use 265/ 30 R19 Pirelli P-Zero tyres for the front end and 345/30 R20 at the rear, with Brembo carbon ceramic brakes giving stopping power.

We don’t know exactly how much this thing will cost for the Mzansi connoisseur, but we reckon it will be about R20 million a piece. That’s about as much as what uncle Cyrilwas willing to pop out for a prized buffalo


Suzuki has unveiled its first ever C-segment crossover at the Geneva Motor Show. The new SX4 is a direct development of the head-turning S-Cross concept unveiled at last year’s Paris expo, and represents the most advanced marriage of Suzuki’s SUV know-how and its compact car expertise.

While the original SX4 was arguably the world’s first truly compact crossover, the new SX4 builds on that impressive foundation with a next-generation crossover offering exceptional space utilisation, advanced all-terrain capability, an arresting and aerodynamically optimised shape, and exceptional efficiency, including ultra-low CO2 emissions.

One of the newcomer’s key features is the panoramic sunroof, which endows the SX4 with an invigorating open-roof motoring experience. Employing two glass panels positioned in tandem, the design is a world first in that both panels can slide to create an almost limitless combination of partly or fully open roof apertures.

The result is one of the largest roof apertures in this segment. When the panoramic glass roof is closed, the panels have a combined length of 1 000 mm. Opened completely, the aperture has a length of 560 mm.

The new SX4 also debuts a brand-new all-wheel drive technology developed by Suzuki. Known as ALLGrip 4x4, the new system draws on Suzuki’s considerable all-wheel drive experience to deliver sure-footed driving pleasure and peace of mind, linked to exceptional efficiency.

ALLGrip provides a choice of four driving modes – Auto, Sport, Snow, and Lock. These allow the driver to match the driving mode best suited to the prevailing conditions. Mode selection is achieved via an intuitive push-and-turn dial located on the centre console.

The need for practicality in the crossover context has also been addressed in the new SX4. The newcomer’s overall length is just 4 300 mm, but an extended wheelbase allows generous interior space and a capacious luggage compartment.

With all the seats in place and five occupants on board, the SX4 can still provide 430 litres of luggage space. By repositioning the rear bench seat and the luggage board, the cargo area can be reconfigured into a deeper, flatter space for different luggage needs.

The new Suzuki SX4 will be offered with a choice of 1.6-litre petrol and 1.6-litre turbodiesel engines in European markets. Both powerplants have been optimised for efficiency and low CO2 emissions. Other eco-advantageous advances include the use of high-tensile steel in the interests of reduced weight and wind-cheating aerodynamics.

The new SX4 will be produced in Suzuki’s Magyar plant in Hungary, with European sales starting in September. While the newcomer has been earmarked for release in South Africa during 2014, pricing and availability, as well as the exact technical specification, still have to be finalised.



The new Golf is Europe's “Car of the Year 2013.” The renowned international “Car of the Year” Award is deemed one of the most important barometers in the automotive industry. The winners were announced yesterday, Monday 4 March 2013 in the run-up to the Geneva Motor Show.

In his acceptance speech, Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen AG, stated: “This is a superb result and we are very proud of it. This most significant European award is the perfect final touch to the list of prizes we have already won. Over 29 million customers have made the Golf into the icon that it is. The new Golf will continue this success story.”

The vote for “Car of the Year” is one of the oldest and most renowned in Europe. The best new cars have been given prizes annually since 1964. The panel of judges, consisting of 58 automotive journalists from 22 countries, nominated eight cars for the final run. The finalists were compared and evaluated during the last few months under a broad range of criteria, such as fuel efficiency, comfort, safety, driving properties, functionality, design and technological progress.

In the final vote, the new Golf came out on top with a total score of 414 points – the car in second place received a score of 202 points. Two Volkswagen models have received the coveted prize before, the Golf in 1992 and the Polo in 2010.

The most successful car in Europe has been further perfected in its seventh generation. The new Golf scored high not only with its quality, comfort, low fuel consumption and emission values as well as its excellent drive properties but also in the most vital area of safety. One of its new safety features is the standard Multi-Collision Braking System that slows the vehicle down automatically after an accident so as to reduce the remaining kinetic energy, thus avoiding more subsequent collisions.  Other safety features that are offered as standard in the new Golf include electronic XDS differential lock. These safety features offer maximum of safety and comfort at an affordable price.

The Golf's success story is exemplary, whether as a classic five door Golf, Golf Cabriolet. It is available in all five continents and in more than 120 countries. With nearly 30 million vehicles produced, the Golf has set new standards in the compact class in the last few decades. New technologies such as ABS, the airbag and the electronic stabilisation programme were integrated and have decisively shaped automotive construction in the class named after it. The exterior and interior of the Golf are also leading the way. Like almost no other product, the Golf distinguishes itself by its unique product and design language, which is seen as timeless and classless to this very day.

The new Golf, which was launched in South Africa in last month, sold over 760 units in its first month of retail.



At the 2013 Geneva International Motor Show, Toyotaunveiled the 2.3 metre-long i-ROADpersonal mobility vehicle (PMV). It’s not a car, nor a scooter, but something in between. And it’s also powered by an electricmotor, instead of a petrol engine.

The i-ROAD was there to demonstrate a new concept in personal mobility, as it sits two people in tandem, both covered, unlike on a motor bike. The lithium-ion battery powers two 2kW motors in the front wheels and has a range of 50km, meaning a trip between Pretoria and Johannesburg is possible without having to recharge, but you could not get from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. Recharging takes three hours to complete from a home wall socket.

According to Toyota, Active Leantechnology is the key to i-ROAD’s high levels of stability, safety, comfort and fun-to-drive character. The system uses a lean actuator and gearing mounted above the front suspension member, linked via a yoke to the left and right front wheels. An ECU (electronic control unit) calculates the required degree of lean based on steering angle, gyro-sensor and vehicle speed information, with the system automatically moving the wheels up and down in opposite directions, applying lean angle to counteract the centrifugal force of cornering.

The system also operates when the PMV is being driven in a straight line over stepped surfaces, the actuator automatically compensating for changes in the road to keep the body level. The minimum turning circle is just three metres.
//PART 2