Friday, 6 February 2009


A report doing the rounds claims that Renault is again talking to Ford about possibly buying the blue oval’s Euro-based premium brand Volvo Cars. Last year the two companies began discussions on this issue but nothing came of them. It was said Ford was asking too much for Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn’s liking. Now the negotiations are back on track. Mr Ghosn is known for his uncompromising approach to business. Four years ago he was talking to General Motors about a possible merger. The guys at GM thought it would be a merger of equals between Renault, Nissan and them but Ghosn is said to have wanted total control of the entire business. GM backed off.

Volvo Cars on the other hand was sold to Ford way back in 1999. It became part of the Premier Automotive Group which consisted of Land Rover, Volvo, Lincoln, Aston Martin and Jaguar. Aston Martin has since been sold to a consortium in Britain while Tata Motors bought both Jaguar and Land Rover for US$2.3 billion (R22.7 billion in today’s money).

Renault could use a premium brand like Volvo in its stable. Nissan’s Infiniti is still very small compared to Toyota’s Lexus and some markets like South Africa don’t even plan to introduce the Infiniti brand, therefore limiting its future growth potential.


Audi USA says it will not be bringing the tiny Audi Stateside anytime soon. In fact while a lot of countries like Mzansi where Audi trades should be receiving their first batches of the A1 between 2010 and 2011, the US may have to wait for a second generation model or at least a facelift.

According to the head of Audi America Johan de Nysschen, Americans are not prepared to pay the potential price tag that the baby quattro would come with. He said dealers were quite keen on taking on stock but when they were told what the price range could be, they backed off. De Nysschen claims that although Americans are warming up to smaller cars again during these tough times, they just aren’t warming enough to pay such high premiums for them. His main worry is that Audi is still a small player in the world’s biggest car market and people are still just getting used to paying top dollar for the brand’s bigger cars.

The Audi A1 is a future competitor of cars like the MINI and Alfa Romeo MiTo.It will spawn such creations as the Q1 mini SUV, a performance S1 and a cabriolet version.


The Renault Clio has been facelifted for European markets. We’ll probably see the facelift Clio in Mzansi during the second half of the year. For now you can click on the picture in order to see a video of the Clio GT, a new model for the range.

No details were forthcoming as to what kind of engines will be offered.

Thursday, 5 February 2009


Mazda has already shown the replacement to the current Mazda3. It was launched in 2008 in Europe and is expected to come to South Africa sometime in 2009. Top of the line in the Mazda3 range is the turbocharged 2.3-litre MPS version. In some markets it’s called the MazdaSpeed 3. Again it produces 191kW (260hp) and 380Nm of torque. Mazda says the car has been improved in handling as well as fuel economy.

The Mazda3 MPS will be shown live at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show next month. In the meantime enjoy the video HERE or HERE or by clicking on either picture directly.


Gauteng-based motoring publication Cars in Action is the first magazine to test the ├╝ber Audi RS6. Cars in Action is the only motoring magazine that does performance testing at South Africa’s high altitude reef region which can go up to 1700m high. Because at such high altitude the air that cars need to breathe and perform is so thin, every car in Gauteng loses a certain amount of power. Up to 17% actually, so you’ll find a car like the BMW 330i not producing its officially stated 200kW but only about 170kW for example, or a Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG could actually be making 320kW instead of 378kW.

Though they still get affected, turbocharged cars don’t have as much of a problem with high altitudes. This partly explains the really disappointing results attained by CIA while testing the RS6 in Gauteng. Partly. The RS6 produces 426kW (580hp) and 650Nm of torque from a 5.0-litre V10 twin-turbo engine. Audi claims it does 0 – 100km/h in 4.5 seconds, but we know Audi tends to understate its performance figures so we are expecting about 4.4 seconds on the coast. Since none of the Cape Town-based magazines CAR and TopCar has tested it yet, we don’t know how close it comes to those claims.

What we did expect was that it would do a sub-5 second time in Gauteng. Apparently those expectations were too high. CIA has recorded a time of 5.7 seconds from 0 – 100km/h. That is extremely disappointing given that a BMW M5 with a much less powerful engine will post 5 seconds for that distance. Even an RS4 will do better, achieving 5.6 seconds.

For R1.1 million we expected more. Again. For this class we pined for more. And we got less. Our hopes are now pinned on the thought that perhaps the car is too new and has too few kilometers on it to achieve any meaningful performance time. But still, that 0.7 second gap seems like Mt Everest to us.

UPDATE! *06 February 2009* The good folks at CIA say they went back and retested the RS6. Although results will only be available in a couple of weeks' time, they assured me that much better figures were achieved this time around.